Avodah Mailing List
Volume 08 : Number 027
Wednesday, October 24 2001
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 17:16:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Birkat haBanot
In Avodah V8 #26, Rav YHHenkin quoted:
<....Those who bless say, 'yesimcha Elokim k'Efraim u'ch'Menasheh.' "
(Hanhagat Leil Shabbat, 7)>
I hope those who bless actually say what's in B'raishis 48:20.
Thanks for your excellent input.
All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ
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Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 17:23:22 -0400
From: "Stein, Aryeh E." <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Birchas habonim
<<IOW When Chazal cite an asmachta they are not necessarily saying the
passuk created the imperative. Similarly when Poskim interpret a source
in such a way as to suport a minhag it is not necessary to construe that
this interpretation was actually the impreative for creating the minhag
in the first place.>>
(According to the Ritva, this view is kefira, while the Rambam, Ramban,
Mabit and the Kuzari hold otherwise.)
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Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 16:37:45 -0700
From: "Eli Turkel" <Eli.Turkel@colorado.edu>
Subject: bakashot on shabbat
>> I wrote:
>> Off the top of my head, here's a defense. Shabbos is not a time for
>> bakashos. Hence, we don't say...the weekday shemoneh esreh....
I know many people who add the harachamum's at the end of birchat hamazon
only on shabbat. I recently heard of a minhag not to say them on shabbat
because they are (at least some of them) bakashot.
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Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 16:35:05 -0700
From: "Eli Turkel" <Eli.Turkel@colorado.edu>
Subject: neirot shbbat
> Hypothesis: A lo plug takkanah was paskened so that all New Mothers
> had to add a candle So if they did light fine. And If they missed
> no one would know because ALL new Mothers added a candle regardless....
Can there be a lo plug on a hidur mitzvah?
What about chanukah?
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 00:18:44 EDT
Subject: Re: neirot shbbat
In a message dated 10/23/2001 6:45:29pm EDT, Eli.Turkel@colorado.edu writes:
> Can there be a lo plug on a hidur mitzvah?
> What about chanukah?
I'm not sure what you mean
I mean that this was a way of taking pressure of new mother's by requiring
them to add a candle whether or not they missed.
Can't a leader of a community pasken how much money to spend on a Chasunah
and other such social legislation?
Can't Rabban Gamliel prohibit fancy tachrichim to take the econmoic pressure
off of funerals?
If you want to quibble and call it a Takkanah instead of a Psak fine. Then
we can deal with all the nits as to why it is a Psak and not a Takkanah.
Shalom and Regards
Moderator - TorahInsight@yahoogroups.com
"Knowledge without Insight is like a horse in a library" - Vernon Howard
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 02:09:21 EDT
Subject: havoas Sholom vs. asiyas Sholom
Why in the mishnah (from Maseches Peiah IIRC) that some people say
just about every morning (in the section 'eilu divorim sheodom ocheil
peiroseihen baolom hazeh vihakeren kayemes liolom habo') does it say
havoas Sholom for 'making peace' and why elsewhere (e.g. in Kaddish)
do we ask for asias Sholom ('oseh Sholom bimromav hu yaaseh Sholom
aleinu...) ? What is the difference, etc. ?
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 02:14:40 EDT
Subject: question on one of the sheva brochos
In the brocho of 'asher boro sosson visimcha , chosson vikallah, gila, rina,
why is chosson vikallah sited between / among the various types of joy,
rather than being mentioned after or before them, which would allow the
various types of joy / happiness to be listed with interruption ?
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 07:34:23 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <email@example.com>
>I wear techeles because it has no ripple effect - keeping yashan would
>require me to compel a lot of people who come into contact with me to
>go to greater extents of hassle. Techeles only concerns me, myself, and I.
Comment from one of our chaverim:
>Reminds me of the reason given we we don't find the loshon that noshim
>were mekabel Tekios shofar as a chiyuv because you can't be mekabel a
>chiyuv that obligates soomeone else (to blow shofar) - being that women
>normaly don't blow - unlike Sefiras Ho'omer.
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 00:27:14 +0000
From: "Seth Mandel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: FW: T'kheles
Me: <This leads me to a general comment. A case where one group of Jews
and its talmidei hakhomim have preserved a tradition about something
... is, to my mind, completely different from a case where NO Jewish
group has preserved a masorah...>
R. Micha: <Your argument is interesting, because it answers a question
my father raised over Shemini Atzeres: Would RYBS argue that a kehillah
that couldn't get their hands on an esrog for a couple of generations
should not bench lulav and esrog now that they can?>
No, RYBS did not argue that. He restricted his argument specifically to
the case where the masora is lost entirely.
R. Micha: <This point is basically in debate between the Maharil and R'
Chaim Brisker (at least according to RYBS's version of his objection to
You mean the Beis haLevi, who is the one who was approached by the
Radzyner and rejected his t'kheles.
R. Micha: <Whereas RCB, the textualist fount of Brisker chumros, concluded
that without a mesorah, we can't use science to recreate one. (IOW,
that science isn't sevarah, but an outside chachmah.)>
R. Micha, that was not RYBS's argument. Rather, that no sevoro can
recreate a masora, not even a s'voro based on the g'moro. Science is as
good a source of s'voro as anything else. This is in print: he quotes the
Beis haLevi as saying "no raayos or s'voros can prove anything when the
matter is a subject of masora 'sh'al avikha v'yaggedkha,' since there
s'voro is not the deciding factor but the masora itself" (Shi 'urim
l'Zekher Abba Mari, vol.1, p 228, which matches my recollection exactly).
A s'voro can be used to recreate a practice or pasken a shaylo. But in
deciding questions like "what is an esrog," s'voro is irrelevant, since
knowledge of what constitutes an esrog is handed down from father to son,
not taught in yeshiva.
R. Micha: <In either case, the Maharil does not take your approach.>
This is NOT the approach I am using in my arguments here. I specifically
included the Beis HaLevi argument as part of the rejectionist
front. But the argument I am using is that those who do NOT belong to
the rejectionist front still need more convincing proof than has been
Me: <As I believe R. Singer has since pointed out, you would have to be
crazy/m'shuggener/a member of xxx [fill in the blanks: MO, RW, L, Tikkun]
to make fake t'kheles with the Murex, if it indeed is not t'kehles...>
R. Micha: <And yet, lema'aseh, we find murex shells. Wouldn't this argue
in favor of a strong reason to make such dye, one strong enough to drive
people to mesiras nefesh?>
We find piles of murex shells in areas where we know the dye monopolies
operated. We find no evidence of piles that would indicate they were used
to produce t'kheles. If Murex trunculus were the source, what we would
be looking for is piles of specifically Murex trunculus shells (not with
big piles of murex brandaris or Thais haemastoma) near a Jewish area.
Archaeologists have not found such evidence yet, and given the relatively
small size of Jewish t'kheles facilities (whatever the hillazon was),
they may never be found.
R. Ari Greenspan: <Regarding Dr Singers comments on the Beit Halevi and his
suggestion that murex was widely known at the time of the rishonim and
gaonim: I believe that his facts are historically incorrect...
2. 6th -- 10th century Imperial policy restrictive in the extreme. The
technique became a uniquely Byzantine secret.
3. Under Moslem rule previous dye centers ceased to exist (Tyre etc.)
4. While the rest of the world was ignorant of the dye and process Byzantium
prized it but did not export the dye or dyed cloth at all. Even in 968,
when Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona visited Constantinople of a diplomatic
mission, the royal colors were denied to him.
5. Even then, where the sole murex dyers were in Byzantium, the penalty for
private dying was the amputation of a hand.
Therefore' the usage continued but under extreme limitations and by a
handful of people that were pledged to keep it secret and all of this was in
Byzantium ' not Erope or North Africa. The assertion that the Gaonim and
Rishonim knew about it and rejected it is false. Firstly, they did not live
near Byzantium and secondly the usage was so limited as not to be seen by
the masses at all. The fact that a fisherman on the coast of Italy might
have pulled the murex up in a net once in a while without any idea that
there once was a royal garment or color that existed' let alone that it came
from the body of a little snail, does not mean that the Rishonim knew and
rejected it.> 'ad kan R. Greenspan.
I freely concede that it is impossible to know exactly what the rishonim
knew. However, R. Greenspan paints too bleak a picture. He fails to
mention something that R. Herzog noted: that Binyamin of Tudela said
that there was a purple dye industry producing royal purple operating
in Tyre when he visited during his travels. (R, Herzog notes this in
connection with his guess that the Muslim conquest in 683 put an end to
the large-scale purple dye industry.) Now said R. Benyamin was traveling
from 1160 to 1173, and probably go to EY around the middle of the period,
in 1165 or 1166. That puts him there at exactly the time the Rambam was
around: the Rambam and his family (he was still a ravvaq zaqen) fled from
Morocco to Acco/Acre apparently in the spring of 1165, and remained in EY
for some 18 months. If that industry had been reestablished earlier then
the Arukh in Italy might have known about it. But the Rambam must at least
have heard that the purple dying industry was in existence (Acco and Tyre
were in the same general "country" in those days), and he had read Pliny
(in the Arabic) and knew what he said about the source of the dye. Yet
his description of the hillazon does not match Murex closely, and his
statements, which I quoted two days ago, indicate that he never saw
anything or heard of anything that he thought was the source of t'kheles.
I do not claim that this proves that indigo from the Muricidae is not
t'kheles; that is not my argument, and the evidence may possibly be
reconciled -- IF we had convincing evidence from elsewhere that is was.
The Rambam is also the source of an extremely interesting idea. A close
reading of the Rambam in Hil. Tzitzis, 2:1, indicates clearly that the
Rambam (who was a Brisker, in case that fact escaped the attention of
anyone on the list ;-)) thought that there are tzvei bezundere halokhos
in t'kheles. To quote: "T'khelet ha'amura baTorah hi hatzemer hatzavua'
kiftukh shebakohal, v'zo hi d'mut haraqia' hanir'eit la'ayin b'tohoro
shel raqia'. V'hat'khelet ha'amura batzitzit tzarikh shet'he tz'vi'atah
tz'vi'a y'du'a she'omedet b'yofyah v'lo tishtanne." It is clear that
the Rambam is making a distinction between t'kheles of kot haTora kullah
and t'kheles in tzitzis.
This is not my hiddush. Several of the nosei kelim of the Rambam noted
this, and R. Herzog spent several pages on discussing the Rambam. However,
R. Herzog (and, following him, the P'til Tekhelet society get involved
in discussing the possibility that the Rambam might accept any dye which
meets his requirements of fastness and color.
As a linguist, I feel that WADR this is not the Rambam's intent. I note
that the assumption that many of the phrases here are translations of
the Arabic solves some of the problems:
1) "tz'vi'a y'du'a" corresponds to the Arabic used in Perush Hamishnayot
"la nuhsin tzibaaghahu," which I had translated "we are not sure about its
dye" [or "we are not knowledgable about dying it"]. The Arabic tzibaagh
is both a noun (dye or color) and a gerund (dying). The Rambam used the
gerund form in Hebrew, but he really means "dye," the noun (he could
not have used tzeva', of course, since that would mean color.
2) when talking about the hillazon, he says "uvyam hamelah hu
matzuy." This is transparently a mistake; the Rambam was thinking in
Arabic, and in Arabic the Mediterranean is called "albahr almaalih," "the
salt sea.," (whereas the Dead Sea is called in Arabic albahr almayyit,
"the dead sea"). (The P'til's attempt to show that all the rishonim
disagree anyway, since some say the Mediterranean, the Rambam says the
dead sea, and the Zohar says the Kinneret is just a straw man. The Rambam
clearly means the Mediterranean, and he was just thinking in Arabic. The
Zohar is not clear evidence, since even if it was composed originally by
R. Shim'on ben Yohai, the Yaavetz proves that many sections were added
or changed later.)
y'du'a, then is just the Hebrew translation of ma'luum, which is also used
in the Perush haMishnayot "zurqa ma'luunma," "a specific blue color."
Indeed, etymologically, ma'luum corresponds exactly to yadua'. However,
whereas the Hebrew normally means "[well] known," the Arabic just as often
means "specific, certain" (and so R. Qafih correctly translated it there
as "takhlut m'suyyemet"). So "tz'vi'a y'du'a" here in the Mishneh Torah
means "a specific dye," and the sentence means "the t'khelet mentioned
in tzitzit must be a specific dye, that maintains its beauty and does
The Rambam would not agree that any dye that maintains its beauty and
does not change would qualify.
BUT that is for the t'kehlet mentioned in tzitzit. The t'khelet mentioned
elsewhere in the Torah, according to the Rambam, does not need to be made
from this specific dye. And so the Rambam might agree that Murex dye (or
some other dyes) might be kosher for bigdei k'hunna. And similarly the
Rambam might not have an objection to the Ramban's idea that contemporary
rulers were wearing t'khelet: but the t'khelet of kol haTorah kullah,
not t'khelet of tzitzit. [R. Herzog discusses at length the source of
this hilluq of the Rambam.]
The other point is the color. The Rambam says "hatzavua' kiftukh
shebakohal, v'zo hi d'mut haraqia' hanir'eit la'ayin b'tohoro shel
raqia'," "dyed as blue eyeshadow, and this is the appearance of the sky
visible to the eye b'tohoro shel raqia'," which we are getting to. The
printed editions have "v'zo hi d'mut haraqia' hanir'eit l'ein hashemesh
b'tohoro shel raqia'," which people translate as "the sky near the sun,"
or light blue. The problem with that is that in three separate places
the Rambam calls the color "shahor" or "mashhirin," i.e. very dark.
R Qafih notes that hashemesh is not found in any of his manuscripts,
and so the color is only defined by the term "b'tohoro shel raqia'." What
does that mean? Fortunately for us, the term reoccurs in the Rambam. In
Hilkhot T'rumot 7:2 he defines when tzet hakokhavim is, and he says
"about a third of an hour after sunset, as the pasuq says 'uva hashemesh
v'taher': " 'ad sheyithar haraqia' min ha'or." In other words, the phrase
means 20 minutes after sunset (in EY and Egypt), when the light has
left the sky." (The Rambam, here at least, is paskening like the Geonim
that tzet hakokhavim is not 45 or 50 or 72 or 90 minutes after sunset,
but ¾ of a mil, and so he says "approximately," because the possible
values of a mil are 22.5 or 24 minutes.) 20 minutes after sunset in EY
the sky is no longer pink on the western horizon, the brightest stars
that are not visible ever during the day are beginning to appear, and
the color of the sky is a deep, rich, dark blue -- matching indigo,
or navy blue. This description is also that of Rashi in Parshat Sh'lah,
"domeh laraqia' hamashhir l'et 'erev."
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Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 21:35:32 -0700
From: Ari <email@example.com>
Subject: Response to Dr.Singer-Ptil Tekhelet
I agree wholeheartedly that the article by Dr. Singer is another step
in the uncovering of the issues regarding tekhelet and the ability for
our halachists to decide upon its validity. His research is excellent
yet I find his dismissal of certain facts disheartening. The attempt to
discredit Ptil Tekhelet, which has consistently pushed the murex based
tekhelet yet constantly has promoted discussion on the questions and
actively made available on our web page and database all of the anti
tekhelet literature, is improper .We have also hosted many halachick
critics to our factory and the ocean in an attempt to both understand
their perspectives and issues. All of you are invited when the desire
overtakes you and we will show you every aspect of the process.
Finally I agree with Dr. Singer that things are not clear cut. There are
indeed questions, and some may not have answers that are satisfying to
all, however the general evidence is overwhelming and I suggest one read
Rav Shabtai Rappaports article on our web page on Mesora dealing with
this aspect of things. To my mind, it is indeed healthy that halacha
moves cautiously and slowly, and I applaud all efforts at questioning
and understanding the issue on a deeper level. That is the only way the
truth will emerge. With regard to some specific points Dr. Singer Says
regarding Ptil Tekhelet:
> I'm not talking about weak logic, which I deal with in my article. I'm
> talking about misquotations, misrepresentations and outright false
> statements that the authors never took the time to corroborate. ...
> 1. R Chaim Twersky and many other P'til articles assert cuttlefish cannot
> exist in sand. Considering the name of the first techeiles sefer by the
> Radzyner was called Sefunei Temunei Chol...
> 2. R. Mordechai Katz wrote that Rabbi Eliashuv supported P'til - then
> had to retract when he was challenged and had to admit he based this on
> hearsay. Why didn't he check it out first?
> 3. R Moshe Tendler claims that Pliny the Elder speaks of murex being used
> to dye techeiles. Not true....
> 4. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm claimed that a Bar Kochba coin with the murex
> image was irrefutable evidence that it was used for a mitzvah. Aside from
> the issue that it could have been used for argaman, murex images were used
> on other coins of the era as well, as I argue in my article....
None of these people have anything to do with Ptil Tekhelet and Ptil
Tekhelet can not be held accountable for their errors. For publication
errors in that book which there are a number speak to the editors. I hardly
think that misdating a coin is the issue here, rather deeper concerns lurk
below the surface. Speak to Rabbi Lamm about his mistake.
Dr. Mendel Singer states:
> To read P'til you would think that Rabbi Herzog essentially agreed
> that murex was right, but had a small problem or two, which they have
> answered so he can now be considered a supporter. In fact, I have seen
> P'til writings where Rabbi Herzog is listed as being of the opinion
> that murex trunculus was the chilazon. This is a terrible distortion...
I am unfamiliar with which source you are referring to that says that
Rav Herzog agrees with us, however, I agree with you that that seems a
bit extreme. However, one needs only to read Rav Herzog's doctorate as
it appears in The Keter book to realize that the 120 or so pages deal
almost exclusively with murex, and only as an attempt to deal with his
2 major problems with the murex does Rav Herzog grasp at the janthina
as the source. His discussion of the Janthina comprises only 5 pages
(71-76) of his opus.
Rav Herzogs 2 primary problems with the murex are:
1 He states that the dye is not permanent- "It may be worth noting that
the pigment of murex trunculus is not fast to washing" (pg 32 &73)
2 The dye is purple, not blue
Regarding Janthina he states "does Janthina satisfy Shabbat 7fa? Or
does the passage in question refer only to the argaman species? The
first question I must leave for the present unanswered. With regard
to the second, I should say that Prima Facie one would be inclined to
say that the text has in view both species, but is really difficult to
decide the point." (pg 73)
This is his summation of Janthina. He did indeed think this might be the
source and in the 1950's hoped to go collect them near Haifa but never
did. His rejection of murex was based upon the 2 fallacies. The permanence
and the color. The dye is the most permanent of natural dyes, bleach
won't remove it and the color, as we all know now, can be blue as well.
Dr. Singer writes:
> Dr. Sterman says we should examine each claim to the chilazon seriously
> - how about fairly? To read P'til you would think that the whole world
> was against the Radzyner, that he was alone in his position, that he was
> duped by an Italian chemist, that Mordechai Rabinovits and Hillel Meschel
> Gelbshtien were the Gedolei HaDor (Sr. Sterman quotes these talmidei
> chochomim but ignores the more recognizable gedolim), and various other
> myths. Why does P'til always go out its way to bash Radzyn? If it is so
> irrelevant, why bother? ...
Firstly, we do not "bash" the Radziner. In my talks all I have to say is
praise. His genius and iconoclastic personality are almost unparalleled
in the last few hundred years. One needs only to read his works to
realize he was in a different league. It was Rav Herzog who disproved
him but never "bashed" him. In fact a letter to Rav Herzogs father from
the Rebbes Shamash at the turn of the century with the dying process,
enabled the Radziners, with Rav Herzogs help, renew their dye works
after the holocaust here in Israel. In fact his works single-handedly
paved the way for our discussion today. Without him the entire issue is
a non starter. If already you mention Gelbstien, lets evaluate that. Had
one read his book, Ptil Tekhelet, one would have seen an invective and
emotional attack. He has 2 main arguments. 1. the chilazon of Radzin
is Tamei therefore pasul. Nobody accepts that, period. Secondly,
he "prooves" kabbalisticly that one who wears kala ilan is an Idol
worshiper. According to his logic, Radzin tekhelet is kala ilan and
therefore if worn categorizes one as an oved avoda zara. Such a person
is halachikly pasul laedut. In an emotionaly laden argument he attaxks
all who wear it, cl;assifies them as idol worshipers, says they are
pasul leedut and one cant trust their schita, and that they should not
be buried in a jewish cemetary. He finally takes a tallit and burns it
publicly in the churva syanagogue.
In his words "And I burned the tallit with the aforementioned zitzit....an
publicly in order to clarify the issue"
The years after Radziner debate were very emotional.
Your mention of Gelbstiens Kotzker roots and the deep enmity to Radzin
from Kotsk is a credit to your depth of understanding of the issue,
however it is misapplied here. Gelbstien himself says " It is the words of
fools who say that I have hatred for the author ( radziner) because his
grandfather was initially among the better disciples of my teacher the
holy Admo"r z"l, and then due to various reasons that I have forgotten
or due to some lashon hara, he became a rebbe of his own chassidim in
the life of my teacher ztz"l. Therefore I compiled sefer ptil tekhelet
to annul the psul tekhelet of the aformentioned one. These are lies. And
a clear froof of that is When the Gaon Rav Yisrael Zvi Hachohen z"l,
the Rav of Rakia, visited here in Jerusalem, and he was initially among
the students of my teacher and then became one of the chevra of chassidim
just mentioned, and a number of times on rosh chodesh we had joyus meals
together sometimes in my house and sometimes in his"
Dr Singer writes
> According to Rabbi Borstein's excellent sefer HaTecheiles, the Lev
> HaIvri, Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger, a posek of great stature, not
> only supported the Radzyner position but wrote a sefer in its defense
> he also added However, I have little tolerance for sloppy research,
> especially when it is Torah-related
Akiva Yosef Shlezinger is a glorious but unknown figure in this story.
Inded like Gelbstien, a major talmid chacham, and like most of the
figures, iconoclastic. Please check the facts in stead if what you
claim ptil has done "misquotations, misrepresentations and outright
false statements that the authors never took the time to corroborate".
Akiva yosef shlezinger never wrote a book in favor of tekhelet. Among his
many books and thousands of tshuvot he makes reference to it a handful
Dr. Mendel singer writes
> Oh - the unscrupulous Italian chemist story - this is a fabrication. Rabbi
> Herzog made up the story in his dissertation, but he was honest enough to
> state that this was entirely a speculation ...
Again I would ask him to stand by his request for proper quotation.
This is what Rav Herzog says "The Radzin Tekhelet thus stands
self-condemned or the results of the chemistry are to be questioned. I
should hesitate very much before condemning of fraud a man of the stamp
of the late G.E. Liener. It would seem that the late chassidic Chief was
victimized by some fraudulent Italian chemist. On arriving in Italy,
Liener, as he states, himself, worked hard with a view to discovering
a process for the extraction of the tekhelet dye from the sepia off.
Attracted by Lieners offers of high remunerations, some clever but
swindling specialist in tinctorial chemistry contrived, it would appear
to concoct Prussian dye with Sepia secretion. in such a manner as to
conceal the presence of the dye..... Investigations carried out in Italy
might perhaps clear up the mystery' as it is not improbable that Liener,
previously to falling into the swindler's net had made an announcement
in the Italian press offering a huge sum for the discovery of a process
where by a blue of a certain nuance might be extracted from the secretion
of the sepia Officialis"
Indeed you are correct that if it is presented by ptil tekhelt that
the Radziner consciously cheated people , it must be corrected. But I
will tell you that has never happened and the story is always quoted as
I do think that Dr. Singer must be praised for his attempt at clarifying
the issue. In the words of Akiva Yosef Slezinger in a retrospective
article in Tel Talpiyot in 1900 "terrible arguments came out against him
(the Radziner)... and behold as long as there was discord and argument
that was not the time to discuss it, as there was a concern that it
would yield only "victory" and more discord ' and when one comes to
anger one comes to make mistakes, even great, great (Rabbis). Therefore,
now that the arguments have quieted and abated, we can evaluate this
halacha without any extraneous approaches"
Lets continue in this manner leshem shamayim to find the truth.
Dr. Ari Greenspan
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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 15:19:30 +0200
From: "Shlomoh Taitelbaum" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've been following some of the more recent discussion on techeiles on
this list. I've written a seifer on the subject, Lulaos Techeiles, that
discusses just about all the points raised, and feel it's a shame that
when the answers are so readily available that no one is pursuing them
where they are. The seifer can be ordered on the P'til Tekhelet website
(though I, nor the seifer, represent P'til Tekhelet); those in Israel
can just email me. Maybe those on the list who have seen it can give me
some good rap.
Just to address in short some of the problems raised:
1) Does anyone here know on what the supposed Brisker position that
a cheftza shel mitzvah MUST have a mesora is based on? The posuk of
"she'al ovicha v'yageidcha" is very nice, but to darshan this posuk
to make up a halochoh that does not exist in, or can be deduced from,
gemara borders on apikorsus. That a mesora is the strongest proof (above
logical reasoning) has its source in Yevamos 102a; this is the reason
the Beis Halevi wrote to the Radzyner -- but the former, minayin lan? I
hope someone here knows the source, because from my inquest I've heard
only that Gemara Yevamos given as a source even for the cheftza shel
mitzvah mesora. Before I would demonstrate that no other Poskim hold of
this shitta of the Briskers, I would like to know they for sure hold it
and in what context. No sense picking the lock if the door wide open.
2) Rav Herzog in his thesis (Hebrew Porphyrology, p. 118) SUGGESTS an
Italian swindler who would have sent the Radzyner the cuttlefish ink added
Prussian blue in the ink to produce the wanted result. In R. Borstein
book, however, he quotes R. Herzog as concluding that an item was missing
from the recipe presented to him from Radzyn, and when informed that
was not the case, stating the scientist must just not understand what is
occurring (he still did not hold of Radzyner techeiles -- whether he was
privately choshesh for it or not). Only many years later did Dr. Elsner
(I believe) realize that indeed the combination was the same as the
original Prussian blue recipe (that used ox blood instead of sepia).
3) The Kutner Rav at the end of his third teshuva says that he finds
the Radzyner's arguments to be nothing but hash'aros, i.e. assumptions.
Similarly, the Rashab of Lubavitch write in a letter to the Radzyner's
son that he believes he had seen the cuttlefish in the Berlin aquarium,
but didn't pay attention to it at all because he never thought that
such a creature would be the chilazon. And the Chazon Ish (as recorded
in Maaseh Ish) said that even sofeik techeiles should be worn because
there is nothing to be lost; if the Gedolim of his generation did not
wear Radzyner techeiles -- says the Chzo"i -- it is because they did not
even consider it a sofeik. When you will read my seifer, you will see
the Radzyner's proof and why, if they prove anything, what they prove
is the murex is the chilazon and NOT the cuttlefish.
4) Which brings us to sofeik techeiles. Some questioned would we not
be losing the mitzvah of lavan by wearing kala ilan. But the Gemara
in Menachos is quite clear that "lo yehai ela kala ilan"; the Gemara
there is arguing why we should not worry about these strings being
on linen because of shaatnez. Now, if this string of kala ilan was in
anyway not kosher, then what do you mean "lo yehai ela kala ilan?" --
it's shaatnez? Lich'ora, at least the string that is supposed to be
techeiles does not have to be the color of the beged, or possibly even
according to Rambam and Rashi the din they should be the same color
is only lichatchila. Either way, that would not be a reason not to be
choshesh for a true sofeik d'orraiso.
5) There is someone who has been working on the tests of the Gemara,
and while we can't say he has certainly copied them, mikal makom he has
managed to get a mixture of baby urine, fenugreek "water", and alum to
discolor (turn green) BOTH murex indigo and plant indigo. Then baking it
in barley dough fermented with wine (!) the murex indigo reverted back
to its original color -- plant indigo not. Though more research will
obviously need to be done (although I believe he did repeat the same
experiment successfully), the presupposition that a test will not tell
the difference between the two, beintayem, does not rest on firm ground.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 22:50:37 +0800
Subject: Re: havoas Sholom vs. asiyas Sholom
> Why in the mishnah (from Maseches Peiah IIRC) that some people say
> just about every morning (in the section 'eilu divorim sheodom ocheil
> peiroseihen baolom hazeh vihakeren kayemes liolom habo') does it say
> havoas Sholom for 'making peace' and why elsewhere (e.g. in Kaddish)
> do we ask for asias Sholom ('oseh Sholom bimromav hu yaaseh Sholom
> aleinu...) ? What is the difference, etc. ?
A gut reaction to your question would focus on the fact that HKBH is the
only one who can create "Yeish MeiAyin", and so, He creates ("Oseh")
Shalom where there isn't any. Add to this the fact that HKBH's Chotam
(seal) is the name Shalom. Humans must make do with the Shalom that HKBH
has placed in the world, so they must "transfer" it or bring it into their
home for Shalom Bayit etc.., which is "Havoat" Shalom. Thus, bringing HKBH
(i.e. the Shechinah) into one's home brings Shalom (His name) in as well.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 11:21:34 -0400
From: "Stein, Aryeh E." <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: saying Vayichulu on Friday night after shmoneh esreih
>>>....The Tzitz Eliezer 14:24 was asked whether someone who is still
davening quietly and reaches Vayechulu in the silent amidah while the
tzibbur says it out loud should also say it out loud with them. He says
that he should, and then continue with his silent amidah....>>>>
The same thing is brought down in Halichos Shlomo. It also says there
that if one is holding by "Elokai N'tzor...." in the silent amidah,
he can say Vayechulu with the tzibbur (similar to responding to kedusha
and kadish) and then complete shemona esrei.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 09:21:14 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: rambam's iqqorim
I think R. Mechy Frankel was a bit confused about my comments because he did
not read my two posts in conjunction. The first was in vol. 7 #99 and the
second in vol. 8 #8.
Let me repost my opening comments on Shapiro's article from Avodah vol. 7
"Overall, I found that Shapiro proved his point that there were those
who did not follow Rambam's ikkarim exactly. Most, but not all, of his
examples were pretty close to Rambam's ikkar but slightly deviant. Which
is why RYGB said that he thought that Shapiro proved the antithesis of
his point. IMHO I think that Shapiro's point remains. Even if someone
disagreed slightly with an ikkar, he still disagreed. What that tells me
is that while today's normative ikkarim are not replicas of the Rambam's
exact words, they are based on them."
RM Frankel wrote:
>The issue is not whether the majority agreed with rambam, or how large that
>majority may have been, so attempts to assert that number disagreeing was
>minimal are off the mark.
But that is the point. We all agree here that there were those who
disagreed with the Rambam's ikkarim. There are two main points that I
have been trying to make. 1) The disagreements have not been about the
main points of the ikkarim. This is to emphasize that there are ikkarim
that were accepted by Kelal Yisrael halacha lema'aseh, what I call the
"normative ikkarim," that are essentially the same as the Rambam's.
Perhaps slightly different, giving a bit of room on certain minor points.
But in general, Rambam's ikkarim serve as the basis of the accepted
halachic definition of a believing Jew.
2) Those who disagree have not been many. If they are/were many then the
"normative ikkarim" would not be normative.
>The TUM focus is rather on whether some disagreed and whether such
>disagreement caused them to be
>regarded as heretics. To which he answers yes to the former and no to the
We are granting that some disagreed with the Rambam's ikkarim. However,
we are arguing that they would have agreed with something similar.
>i do not claim that their silence means they have no positions, but the
>truth is we simply don't
>know. They didn't write about such things. Thus for RGS to list even three
>rishonim who e.g. had something positive to say about corporeality (either
>believing in some form or at least denying that such belief constituted
>heresy) may not be all that small a number.
I am not arguing that from the Ashkenazic rishonim's silence we can infer
their agreement with the Rambam (although I don't think that is unfair).
I am arguing that from their silence we cannot infer their disagreement.
The only dissentions regarding corporeality of which we know are few.
We can therefore not infer that there was widespread disagreement with
>Whether one believes such beliefs were widespread or not in rambam's time,
>you may be the first person in the last eight hundred years to
>characterize the difference between rambam's demand for incorporeal beliefs
>with even watered down versions of such belief as "slight".
Actually, I think it's common sense and most would agree. Both sides
agree that G-d is generally incorporeal. The disagreement is whether
He can choose to appear corporeally. A "big" disagreement would be for
someone to believe that G-d ch"v lives on Mount Olympus and comes down
to Earth to have affairs with women. No Jewish scholar I've ever seen
quoted believes that G-d has a body and lives in a physical place.
That would be a big disagreement.
Here, everyone agrees that G-d cannot be contained in a physical body.
The disagreement is whether it is impossible for G-d to choose to appear
in a human body. Rambam considers it to be a logical impossibility and
one that implies a form of polytheism. R. Moshe Taku does not believe
that we can limit G-d by rules of logic.
>I also have no idea what you could mean by the remark <Philosophically
>significant but practically neglible.>
What I meant is that they both agree on the basic principle that G-d is
not physical. The normal state of G-d is the same for both - incorporeal.
From a balebatishe, common-sense viewpoint, the disagreement is marginal.
They both agree to the same normal state of G-d. The only disagreement
is whether G-d CAN appear corporeally.
Philosophically, however, this is a major disagreement over whether G-d's
ability to appear corporeally implies attributes and the divisibility of
G-d. According to the Rambam, R. Moshe Taku's view that G-d can appear
corporeally means that he accepts that G-d is divisible and is therefore
a form of polytheism. R. Moshe Taku, however, would argue that he meant
no such thing.
>As to your claim that there "were maybe
>"three relatively obscure talmidei chakhomim",
>that is an unsupported conjecture on your part which also directly
>contradicts both the rambam and the raavad who both testified that many
>believed this, odd as that might sound these days.
I'm not denying that there were many ammei ha'aretz who believed this
and *some* talmidei chachamim. I am claiming that the number of talmidei
chachamim were very few. I don't know what Rambam you are referring to,
but the Ra'avad's girsa is highly disputed. All the references I've seen
to many people do not specify talmidei chachamim.
>I also notice that you've skipped Iqqor #4
>which speaks to a required belief in ex nihilo
>creation. This has also never been universally
>accepted but here I would rather point you to
>nomi frankel's essay (Maimonidean Controversy
>and the Story of Creation by Naomi R. Frankel)
>in the articles archive at www.aishdas.org on that
I mentioned this in my first post:
"In regard to Creation Ex Nihilo (Beriah yesh me'ayin), all he really has
from the mainstream is a debatable Ibn Ezra. Ralbag himself says that he
believes in beriah yesh me'ayin, albeit in a different way than Rambam.
However, I did not even realize that this was an ikkar. It is only in
the Kaffih translation of the Peirush HaMishnayos. Does anyone know the
story behind that?"
My comments on Naomi Frankel's essay are at
FIFTH IKKAR: Shapiro also points out something we already know.
>I don't see how pointing out something we already knew
>was problematic mitigates the problem.
Because it has already been debated and considered halachically
acceptable. In other words, the poskim have included it within the
>I also have no idea why you think this is a "slight"
>deviation -- but there is no point arguing it further
>as it is down to a judgement call, and your judgement
>differs from mine.
I call it slight because there is no disagreement over who can answer
prayers and to whom prayers should be directed. All agree that the
ultimate power in the universe if HKBH.
I would also note that even the Rambam seems to expand this ikkar in
Hilchos Tefillah 7:5.
>With regard to prophecy, all Shapiro has is a machlokes over whether
>Mashiach will be a greater prophet than Moshe. There are two issues here.
>First, regarding the ikkar on prophecy, this is only a debate over whether
>Mashiach will be a greater prophet than Moshe. This is precisely what I
>would call a slight disagreement. Second, Shapiro has one source. One
>rishon, and a controversial one at that, dissents.
R. Mechy Frankel wrote:
>With respect to moshiach vis a vis moshe, you are incorrect in stating that
>"shapiro has one source and a controversial one at that"..
Read through his list of sources carefully. The only one that specifically
says that mashiach will be a greater navi than Moshe is the Ralbag (and
the only citation he gives for that claim is an article by Menachem
Kellner). The other sources are irrelevant.
>that not everybody agreed with rambam on this and what's more rambam
>himself could hardly have taken his own words literally, would seem
>unassailable. A position that RGil himself essentially agrees with as he
>attempts to do little more than attempt to peel away some support
>at the edges.
Yes, as I've been saying all along. Shapiro has proven that the
"letter of the ikkar" has been overstepped by many. On this ikkar, I
remain confused. I do not concede that the Torah we have today is not
letter-for-letter the same as given to Moshe at Sinai (although, I think
the Rambam only mentions words, not letters). I just don't understand
>a tradition that invests each letter... may also discern a huge theological
>gulf between perfection and an acceptable error rate of less than 1%.
Granted. But all agree that the Torah was given perfect. All would look
at the Torah we have and not change a letter of it. The only question
is whether a relatively tiny number of letters are the same now as when
they were given. To some, yes the academics, this would not be considered
significant. I'm not sure that they are correct.
>I am sorry to see Ibn ezra referred to as a controversial figure again in
>vid my remarks above about arguing the facts rather than the man -- i do
>hope you are not suggesting that you too wish to lift Ibn Ezra's rishonic
I do not wish to, but others do. See the Maharshal's introduction to
Yam Shel Shlomo. However, Baruch Spinoza, in his introduction to his
commentary on Ibn Ezra on Nach, quotes scholars who maintain that Ibn
Ezra's commentary was tampered with by his students. That can explain
some of his more controversial statements that, surprisingly, Ramban does
not address. The Ramban usually argues with Ibn Ezra when he disagrees
(and on issues of who wrote the Torah and when, the Ramban is very
traditional; see his introduction to his his commentary on the Torah).
See the Chida's entry in Shem HaGedolim for R. Avraham Ibn Ezra.
>But in any event, it is again not true that all he has is a dabatable Ibn
>Ezra. There is also ralbag and, with variation, r. chaim b.attar.
As I said in my first post, when the Ralbag's Milchemos Hashem is read
in conjunction with his peirush on Tanach his view is very different.
I did not see the Or HaChaim as disagreeing at all.
>Since you've not offered a retrospective of any logical or documentary
>chain that led you to such a belief
Shapiro suggests that the Rambam did not believe in reward and punishment.
I think that this is totally incorrect because in Hilchos Teshuvah
(ch. 8-9) and in Peirush HaMishnayos (Makos 3:17) Rambam says that he
believes in reward and punishment. Indeed, in his peirush to Avos 1:3 he
ascribes the view that there is no reward and punishment to Tzadok and
Baitos. Shapiro's suggestion requires contradicting explicit statements
by the Rambam, which I believe is incorrect.
>RGS also offers the following quotes from prof
>berger's new anti-lubavitch book.
It is NOT an anti-Lubavitch book. It is anti-meshichist Lubavitch.
He fully supports non-meshichist Lubavitch.
> For one thing it is unclear to me whether prof berger is focused more
> on the contemporary period -- when it would seem odd indeed to find an
> anthropomorphic belief of any stripe, but not necessarily impossible --
> i'm thinking of qabbolistic circles to which i obviously have little
He is talking about "normative ikkarim." Just because a talmid chacham
once held a view does not mean that the "normative ikkarim" cannot exclude
such a view. As the Chasam Sofer wrote in his last teshuvah in Yoreh Deah,
if someone today would hold like R' Hillel that "ein mashiach leYisrael"
he would be halachically considered an epikores. Even though R' Hillel
held like that, it is still forbidden based on the "normative ikkarim."
> I also have no idea what he might be thinking of when he refers to
> the impermissibility of entertaining certain ideas with respect to the
> composition of Torah, since it is well documented that certain ideas
> clearly were and continue to be respectable,
See Sefer HaMitzvos, Los Sa'aseh 47 and Dr. Berger's article in Torah
uMadda Journal 2.
I repeat, "normative ikkarim." Someone who believes that G-d has a body
is an epikores and his shechitah is passul. Someone who believes in the
documentary hypothesis is the same. That is Dr. Berger's point.
>Berger, in this instance at least, has not and his opinions are thus
>irrelevant to the discussion, though some may take comfort in them..
Yes, indeed. Some take comfort that a scholar of his stature agrees
Go to top.
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