Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 029

Thursday, October 25 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 10:02:43 +0200
From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@bezeqint.net>
Rambam on Astrology

In response those who wanted to know where to find the Rambam's letter on
1) The standard two volume collection by R' Shailat
3) Tradition published a translation a number of years ago.

Just found an interesting comment of the Malbim (Introduction to Yechezkiel)
in which he rejects the Rambam's comments about Ma'aseh Merkava because they
are based on outdated science and philosophy.

                        Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 18:40:52 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: rambam's iqqorim

In a message dated 10/24/2001 11:28:54am EDT, gil_student@hotmail.com writes:
> 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."

Yasher koach for your analysis
I concur that it matters not so much how the Rambam intended his ikkarim
but how it was accepted or implemented {mekubal or nispashet} . Of course
the original intent has academic value.

Yes the Rambam did set up the structure of cours, but the ikkarim have
since taken on a life of their own to an extent; somewhat independent
of the author's original intentions.

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe
Moderator - TorahInsight@yahoogroups.com
"Knowledge without Insight is like a horse in a library" - Vernon Howard    

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 09:43:53 EDT
From: Maylocks1@aol.com
Re: Ikkarim

A friend has been kind enough to forward to me some of the discussion
about my article on the 13 principles. I am glad to see that it is still
the cause for discussion. I would like to let everyone know that I am
near completion of a 250 page book on the topic which will be published
by Littman Library. I will let everyone know when it appears. In the book
I discuss all the points in much greater detail, make some corrections,
and add hundreds of more sources. I also have a long introduction on
the significance of the principles in Jewish history. I look forward to
hearing comments when it appears.

A few comments on the dicussion. I do not believe that Rambam denied
reward and punishment. What I believe is that he denied *heavenly*
reward and punishment for performance of mitzvot. I clarify this in
the book in a way which perhaps led to some confusion in the article. A
mitzvah performed without understanding of the divine intent etc. does
not lead to reward. The Mitzvah is not a segulah. The proverbial pious
but ignorant woman does not receive heavenly reward for the mitzvah
she performs. I don't think that you can read the Mishneh Torah or the
perush ha-Mishnah this way, but Maimonides is clear in the Guide that
this is so. Maim. was attacked for this view, which he states quite
explicitly on numerous occasions in the Guide. So we arrive at the
old problem of which text do you favor in a dispute.. In this context,
I will also discuss Maim. and his view of immortality and resurrection.

Ralbag did *not* believe in yesh me-ayin. He thought ths was impossible,
even for God. He believed that the world was created from formless
matter, a concept which so many philosophers, incl. Aristotle, rejected
(because while you can have form without matter, you cannot have matter
without form)

Re. anthropomorphism, I devote many pages to it. R. Moses Taku did not
make up his views, however strange they appear today. He must have
received them from his teachers. He stresses that Hazal agreed with
him. The thrust of his argument is that nowhere do Hazal deny that God
has a form. On the contrary, they are explicit over and over again that
God does have a form, and that man is created in this form, and there
are even halakhot which depend on this. In the book I explain all this.
There is also the view of one of Rash's descendants, R. Solomon Simhah
of Troyes, that God is identical with the air (he refers to ha-Avir
Barukh hu u-Varukh Shemo) and that there s a whole in the firmament
enablling us to see the sun which is actually God's essence -- certainly
a strange view. I discuss what the German and French sages believed,
and although matters are not entirely clear, there is no doubt that many
of them rejected the third principle. For example, while many of them
did not believe that God had a body, they did believe that he "moved,"
"rested" etc (a violation of the principle). In R. Abraham Maimonides'
words, they were heretics without realizing it.

All this is a complicated story and I am glad I will have the opportunity
to set out my arguments at greater length in a book-length study. The
title is (provisionally) Maimonides' Thirteen Principles and the Limits
of Orthodox Theology

		    Marc Shapiro

P.S. Despite what David Berger has written, I don't see how a view
once advocated by gedolei Yisrael can now be invalid. Someone who
today believes that God has a body is certainly not to be regarded as a
heretic. Indeed, the notion of kefirah be-shegeg not being real heresy
(i. e., enough to turn the person into a heretic) has been defended by
many sages. As for biblical criticism, R. Mordechai Breuer has recently
written that whatever you may personally think of Ibn Ezra's views,
the fact that he is one of our great sages means that one cannot regard
the views he expressed as outside the bounds of traditional Judaism. In
the book I discuss R. Yehudah he-Chasid's views, the views of R. Avigdor
Katz and a newly published text from R. Yehudah he-Chasid's school. All
these show that at least in Germany, complete Mosaic authorship (i. e.,
excluding the work of other prophets) was not unanimously held.

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 04:32:26 +0200
From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@bezeqint.net>
Re: Source for tov and Meitiv

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
>> Hashem created the world because it's the nature of a meitiv to want
>> someone to recieve that tov. ...

> Anyone know the original maqor for this idea?

Try Emuna v'Deos Intro to Ma'amar 3

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 10:21:12 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: Source for Kabbalah Nekabel

David Hojda wrote:
>Where does the phrase [Im] Kabbalah [Who] Nekabel come from? Does it 
>originate with the ibn Ezra?

Mishnah Yevamos 8:3 and Kerisos 3:9
"Im halachah nekabel, ve'im ledin yesh teshuvah"

I seem to remember something similar in Mishnah Yadayim but I can't find it.

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:42:09 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
Re: Lech Lecha - Questions and Anwwers

On 24 Oct 2001, at 20:11, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
> G-d's covenant with Abraham was braoder than it was with Israel.  Israel 
> inherited ONLY 7 of the 10 nations.  The other 3 were alloted to Lot's 
> children - Ammon and Moab and Isaac's son Esau/Edom.  Perhaps Ishmael 
> received no territory because of his nomadic tendencies... 

AIUI Lot's children received their land as a specific reward to Lot
for his silence in Egypt (this week's parsha). I think it may also have
been a reward for his daughters for bearing the shame of their illicit
relationship with their father and not trying to claim what another
religion tried to claim later on (see the introduction to the eighth
chelek of Igros Moshe).

As to Esav, I suppose we could say that his land was schar for his
fulfillment of Kibbud Av.

Where can we find grounds for Yishmael receiving such a schar?

-- Carl

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:42:09 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
Re: Lech Lecha - Questions and Anwwers

On 24 Oct 2001, at 20:11, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
> "Eileh Toldot" introduces a "narrowing" or winnowing process.  E.G. when the 
> Torah mentions Eileh Toldot Yitzchok Ishmael is rejected.  

Then how do you explain the later use of Eila Toldos in Parshas Bamidbar

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 10:30:43 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: Lech Lecha - Questions and Anwwers

Rich Wolpoe wrote:
>"Eileh Toldot" introduces a "narrowing" or winnowing process. E.G. when the 
>Torah mentions Eileh Toldot Yitzchok Ishmael is rejected.

R. Menachem Liebtag wrote up another approach that is well worth the time it 
takes to read. <http://www.tanach.org/breishit/noach.txt>

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 10:07:53 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: limits of kedushah?

A lot of good questions. My only contribution is that R. Yosef Engel in
his Gilyonei HaShas to Avos 2:1 has a long discussion whether one can
learn Hebrew, which certainly includes dikduk, in bathroom (if you think
about it, bathroom is lashon nekiah). He concludes that it is permissible.

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:42:09 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
re Birkat haBanot

On 25 Oct 2001, at 11:29, SBA wrote:
> It and the PY quote the Zohar - that before bentching anyone one
> should say "Yisborach Shmoy shel HKBH", as one should first 'bentch'
> Hashem...

If you're bentching multiple children, does this need to be said 
before each child? Or does saying it once cover the entire family? 

-- Carl

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 22:30:03 +0200
From: "D. and E-H. Bannett" <dbnet@barak-online.net>
Re: Vaikhulu

In all the vaikhulu discussion, in reference to the three-time repetition
and to the need to repeat after shmoneh esrei as lo plug because of
yomtov shechal b'Shabbat, I am surprised that nobody noticed that the
old siddurim, namely R' Amram Gaon and R' Sa'adia Gaon, do not include
vaikhulu in the shmoneh esrei. So they scored only two out of three.

BTW the Hazon Ish reference is Hil. Shabbat 38.

Another BTW: The Or Zarua' in Hilkhot Erev Shabbat has an excellent
discussion of all the sources preceding him. I don't think he has the
triple mention of Yom Hashabbat as a reason for repeating but has the
triple "Asah" and comparison with para aduma as reason for forgiveness
of sins.

May we all be shutafim in ma'asei b'reishit and have the mal'akhim
announce forgiveness of our sins.,


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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 12:02:53 -0500
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: limits of kedushah?

R' Yisrael Dubitsky brings a long list of situations, asking what sort
of reading material may or may not be read or brought into "the smallest
room of the house".

The Igros Moshe says (I'll find the exact cite, if you want) that if a
tape cassette has divrei Torah on it, it MAY be brought into that room,
because the magnetic particles do not constitute "writing", and so the
tape does not have any kedusha. Further, he writes, one may even bring
in a tape player to play the tape there, because there is no person
speaking, so again there is no kedusha. But one could NOT play the tape
if any person was in there to hear it, because that person would end up
thinking Torah thoughts in a forbidden place.

My understanding from that is that the question of what one may or may not
read there is *entirely* dependent on the thoughts which that material
will lead to. No matter what the subject matter is, if one expects or
fears that it will cause him to think Torah thoughts, then that book is
not to be brought in. And if one has what he considers to be a "safe"
book, but it leads him to Torah thoughts, he must do what he can to
think about something else.

(As an aside, I often think that the strongest evidence for an external
Soton who actively tries to induce us to sin (as opposed to an internal
Yetzer Hara, whose main job is in the decision-making process) is that
most of my best Chidushim strike me out of the blue, when I am in that
"smallest room in the house".)

Akiva Miller

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 16:32:48 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: tircha d'tzibura

Eric Simon wrote:
>Honestly: how much longer does it take to say a 19-bracha-shemona esrei 
>compared to the shabbos amidah? 2 minutes? Like that matters
>when services are already somewhere between 2 and 3 hours?

>In fact, doesn't the Gemara talk about triennial readings?

Good questions. I think that most of the Shabbos davening that we have
today was added post-gemara. Things like pesukei dezimra, yekum purkan,
aleinu, shir shel yom, anim zemiros,... are additions that date from
the times of the gaonim and rishonim.

I would venture to guess (emphasis on guess) that davening during
the time of the gemara was not necessarily shorter than it is today.
Just what was said was less and was therefore said much slower. The
extra 2 minutes of amidah was maybe an extra 10 or 20 minutes.

The Torah reading during the time of the gemara was very different
than it is today. In those days, they had translators so people could
understand the leining. It was like a public shiur. Yes, there was a
triennial cycle in Israel. But we follow the Babylonian Talmud and its
customs (generally).

So why don't we change our customs to reflect the current reality?
Why don't we expand the amidah because we say it so quickly anyway and
shorten the leining because people don't pay close attention? I would
say that this is the wrong response to the problem. The correct response
is to work to increase kavanah and attention rather than to "dumb down"
the davening.

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 16:35:10 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Ikkarim

In a message dated 10/25/2001 9:14:35am EDT, Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu writes:
> I think RGS misunderstands a fundamental issue - what we mean by ikkarim.
> It is one thing to argue that the vast majority of rishonim and acharonim
> have accepted a theology which is "close" to the thirteen ikkarim.
> The problem is that no one that I know of has ever formulated such a
> variant of "normative ikkarim", and even less has any such formulation
> been accepted.

> In a halachic discussion, we need to be more precise than the legal
> definition of obscenity (I know it when I see it)

Not necessarily. This implies an either/or black or white dichotomy...

It is quite possible and quite sensible - though not binary - to say
the following:

One MUST subscribe to the 13 Ikkarim in principle
However the Ikaarim themselves can be flexible and nned not be rigid. 

L'mai Nafka Mina?


I can accept the premise unconditionally that there WILL BE Techiyyas
hameisim and I can also agnositcally refuse to believe that anyone
alive knows for certain what that will look like. Or I can accept
uncondtiaonally that Moshiach will come. But I do not need to believe that
he will be born on Tisha B'av or that his name will be Menachem! <smile>

I can accept unconditionally that Moshe Rabbeinu did not add one OS to
the Torah yet I can also allow for later scribal errors to have taken
hold. There is a gap between saying the Torah AS GIVEN was perfect and
then saying it must match the Torah in the Aron Hakodesh. The Gmara in
Sanhedrin 99a does not preclude the possiblity of later errors creeping
in. The ikkar as articulated there is that Moshe Rabbeinu was a faithful
scribe and inserted nothing mida'ato.

A Kofer is one who dismisses the ikkar by bing koefeir meikkaro shel
ha'ikkar. someone who accepts the Ikkar but has a personal interpretaion
of that ikkar is not a Kofer ba'ikkar. Exactly what he is is another
matter to be determined.

Furthermore it is quite possible to say the 13 ikkarim are deemed
normative and that their interpretations encompass a fleixble but definite
range of opinions of Rishonim, etc.

If I hold that Arba Cossos require an 8 oz. shiur and you drink only
3.3 oz. I can claim and exclaim that you are not yotzei but I cannot
claimayou are a kofer or mumar in the mitzva of arba kossos!

Similarly, if a person says he is kofer in Ikkar X then he is a kofer.
If he says he is Ma'amin in Ikkar X but he interprets Ikkar X a bit
differently than the popular way, he is not a kofer.

The need to nail down ikkarim so precisely is merely a form of mental
gymnastics and does not deal with the reality that certain aspects are
subjective by nature - at least to an extent.

In a message dated 10/25/2001 12:21:55pm EDT, Marc Shapiro
<Maylocks1@aol.com> writes:
> P.S. Despite what David Berger has written, I don't see how a view
> once advocated by gedolei Yisrael can now be invalid. Someone who
> today believes that God has a body is certainly not to be regarded as a
> heretic.

Au contraire!

I would say that R. Hillel in Sanhedrin 99A was not a hereitc THEN for
implying Moshiach was Chizkiyahu but WE would be!

It was OK for R. Akiva to claim bar Kochba was Moshiach THEN, it would
not be ok for us to say so know.

It was OK for Lot to have been Abraham's heir apaprent at one time,
but not
Bechoros were rejected, too.

Optoins and possiblities are often elminated.
Shaul did not come from malchus Beis David either
Shiloh was not in Yershalayim
Temporary choices are superceded by permanent ones.

The matter of Ikkarim used to be a matter of debate. It does not in any
way presume that the debate is still raging.

At one time it was OK to reject the Rambam kol ikkar. I would not say
this is OK now.

It certainly is different for us to accept Shabtai Zvi NOW as opposed
to the way it was in the early 17th Century.

It might have been OK for Abraham to stand up for Sodom THEN, do you
think it is OK to do so NOW?

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe
Moderator - TorahInsight@yahoogroups.com
"Knowledge without Insight is like a horse in a library" - Vernon Howard    

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 13:41:52 +0200
From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@bezeqint.net>

Regarding the discussion of normative faith we seem to be developing a
bimodal distribution.

1) The academic approach which shows that historically there were
opinions that can be understood as significantly deviating from the
Rambam and are still valid today. 2) the mainstream Orthodox position
that those signficantly deviating opinions are either misunderstood or
are unacceptable today because they are wrong.

According to the Rambam's letter on astrology - a position which has
become normative doesn't lose that status because there were at one time
alternatives. This is clearly the view of the Chasam Sofer (Beitza 5a) -
that even though there is an opinion expressed in the gemora concerning
Moshiach - which was apparently not considered heresy when expressed -
would be viewed as heresy if held by someone today. The Rambam says
that this is no different than the halachic process. Only to the degree
that these principles are open to a range of opinion by contemporary
authorities - can a person pick which he feels is more appropriate
for himself. One can not simply chose an opinion either in hashkofa or
halacha which has clearly been rejected for hundreds of years. We can
not reject Hillel for Shammai. We can not reject the view of the gemora.
We can not simply reject a widely accepted view of the rishonim. We can
not simply ignore a long standing practice - and defend ourselves by
claiming "there was a gadol".

Contrary to what Prof Shapiro says
> P.S. Despite what David Berger has written, I don't see how a view
> once advocated by gedolei Yisrael can now be invalid. Someone who
> today believes that God has a body is certainly not to be regarded as a
> heretic.

a person holding views outside what are considered today to be the 13
principles would be regarded as a heretic or at least a nebech apikorus.

The obvious rejoiner is to my assertion is "who says?".

The answer to that should be obvious to anyone who is part of the Orthodox
world. Orthodox is a living religion which has living authorities. Even
without ruach hakodesh it is obvious what would happen. What accepted
poseik would agree with Prof Shapiro? The rules are simply not determined
in academia.

Having talked with both Rav Elyashiv and Rav Sternbuch about a related
case - they both agreed that a person who is a committed Jew but has
problematic beliefs because of a sincere but mistaken analysis of the
sources - should be assumed to be a nebach apikorus. Both agreed that each
case needs to be evaluated carefully by a competent poseik and depending
on other factors might best be ignored or made into a public campaign.

A classic example of this point is the Akeidas Yitzchok who states
that anyone who accepts literally the anthropomorphisms of the Torah is
mistaken - but that for many of the masses it is better that they are
not criticised because they would likely adopt the impersonal god of
the philosphers. The anthropomorphisms are simply the lesser evil.

In sum - Someone who sincerely comes to a deviant belief and is unaware
that it is a deviate belief is a nebach apikorus. Someone who knows that
his beliefs are deviant today and yet insists that it is correct - would
be labeled an apikorus. Whether he could successfully defend himself
in the heavenly court with the citations in Prof Shapiros writings -
doesn't change the fact that the contemporary rabbis, teachers and
neighbors would view him as a heretic. To argue that this response
itself is a violation of halacha requires a different type of evidence
than has been cited so far.

                                    Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 19:06:36 -0400
From: "Edward Weidberg" <eweidberg@tor.stikeman.com>
Re: T'kheles

On Wed, Oct 24, 2001 at 12:27:14AM +0000, Seth Mandel wrote:
: 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.. . .

What does the word "kiftukh" mean here? I thought it meant faded.

In a different context (Mishna Nego'im 1:2) relating to shades of
tzora'as, Rambam and others translate "Hapotukh" as "mixed" meaning a
shade mixed of white and red.

Also, I heard in the name of Rav Shlomo Miller, a Rosh Kollel here in
Toronto and a leading Posek, who raised the possibility that wearing
sofek T'kheles may be a problem of Bal Tosif/Bal Tigra, given the
disagreement among Rambam, Ra'avad and Tosefos as to whether one, two
or four strings are blue.

Avrohom Weidberg

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 22:39:17 +0000
From: "Seth Mandel" <sethm37@hotmail.com>
Re: T'kheles

R. Micha: <I want to clear up what seems to be conflicting claims.
The first is RSM's statement (v8n14) that: <<Incontravertible facts (the
best kind, no?), that none of the g'dolim at the time of the Radzyner
started wearing the Radzyner t'kheles.>>
<Compare this to R' Mendel Singer's (v8n23): <<According to Rabbi
Borstein's excellent sefer HaTecheiles, the Lev HaIvri, Rabbi Akiva Yosef
Schlesinger... The Meharsham, Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Schwadron did not
rule it was techeiles, but was very favorable and publicly wore a Tallis
with techeiles (and was buried in it in accord with his will). Rabbi
Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky and Rabbi Chaim Berlin also wore techeiles, but
privately... The Maggid of Kovno, Rabbi Yitchak Elchonon Spektor also
was favorably inclined but was unable to take a public stance in favor
due to certain matters of pikuach nefesh he was involved in. The Chofetz
Chaim was m'supek...>>
<The Maharsham, RCOG, and RYES aren't "none of the gedolim". The latter
two were viewed by many to be THE poseqim of the generation... Do we
have anything other than skepticism about Radziner sources, to deny
this claim?>

R. Micha, there is no disagreement between R. Singer and me. We are both
quoting the same source, R. Borshtein's book. R. Singer was probably
quoting from memory, and what he said astonished me so I looked it up.
Look it up yourself, please. P. 183 about R. Chaim Berlin: "he was
in correspondence with the Radzyner. The Radzyner wrote to him 'I am
fulfilling your request and sending you 4 packets of kosher and m'huddar
t'kheles.' The Radzyne chasidim have a tradition that he had a tales
with t'kheles in which he would daven privately."

P. 184 about R. Chaim Ozer: "The Radzyne chasidim have a tradition that
he secretly used a tales with t'kheles, or used it in his tales qoton."

P. 189 about the Chofetz Chaim: "R. Mendel Zaks asked him once if one
could rely on the Radzyner Rebbe and make with it the avnet of the Kohen
Gadol. The Chofetz Chaim replied 'I would not put my head in the fire and
take the chance and serve in the Beis haMiqdosh based on his theory'... A
Radzyner bochur who was learning in Radin asked the Chofetz Chaim whether
he should continue wearing his t'kheles, and the CC told him to continue
his minhog as he had done in his father's house." (Interestingly, the
Radzyne chasidim do not claim he wore it privately.)

P. 189 about R. Iser Zalman: he looked at it, sighed, but wouldn't
wear it.

P. 190 about R. Yitzchok Elhonon: when the Radzyner Rebbe pressed him
to wear it, he responded that he had already done a lot for the cause
by explicitly paskening that someone who wore t'kheles in his lifetime
should be buried in it. But he himself, unfortunately, would not wear it,
and he gave the Rebbe's representatives a bunch of excuses.

The supposed traditions that the Radzyne chasidim have regarding various
rabbonim are obviously not reliable at all. Not only are they clearly
nogea badovor, they do not include any shred of evidence, not even that
the individuals told the Radzyner Rebbe that they wore his t'kheles.
Furthermore, how is it that the Radzyne chasidim would know more about
the practices of these individuals than their own talmidim? None of the
talmidim of these figures held that they wore t'kheles. About the Chofetz
Chayyim, I can tell you three things: 1) I asked several talmidim from
Radin, and they all denied it, and said that if the CC had done so,
the yeshiva would have known about it, since sh'mu'os about him spread
very quickly there; 2) R. Mendel Zaks did not wear t'kheles, not even on
his tales qoton; 3) a friend asked R. Mendel whether the CC had worn and
R Mendel said of course not. The students in R. Chayim Ozer's chabura,
who saw him almost every day, would have known if he wore. R. Yitzchok
Elhonon, as noted, specifically told the Radzyner's emissaries on two
occasions that he would not wear.

Interestingly enough, R. Borshtein says that one of R. Iser Zalman's
son's started wearing them, but said that he had NOT discussed the issue
with his father.

And we are ignoring the RY of Slabodka, Telz, Ponyevezh, Novardok, Lomzhe,
Grodno, none of whom wore, even though RY were free from the communal
pressures that a shtot rov was subject to. I am ignoring chasidishe
admorim because most were probably among the rejectionist front.

R. Micha: <(It would also seem to me that today, perishah min hatzibbur
lacks the same oomf. We live in a society where no one is going to be
clamoring to have my tallis pulled off my back over this issue.)>

As noted, no one would pull a RY's talles off of his back, nor even
criticize what he did in his own yeshiva, and several RY's had their
own private minhogim, known among their talmidim, which were out of
the norm. That answers your later statement <In light of the vitriol
later mentioned, wearing it publicly raises halachic problems.>

Seth Mandel wrote: <You claim that the contemporaries of the Radzyner
raised problems with his t'kheles which are do not apply to the Murex
t'kheles. The specific issues they addressed indeed do not apply. But
you are missing the major thrust of my argument.>

R.Micha: <Actually, if they address specific issues, the implication
is that the overall problem of lack of mesorah was NOT sufficient to
dismiss Radziner techeiles.>

I say again: I am not arguing here that you need a masora. My rebbe
held that way, and so I have classified him as part of the "rejectionist
front" who would not accept t'kheles no matter what proofs you had. In
the list, I am arguing that there is little in the way of actual proof,
just tantalizing evidence and contradictions.

R. Micha: <You are arguing against allegation of fact with theory. I'm
saying that since there is a shalsheles tracable at least to the Aruch,
one could argue that this is luckily a venue in which the identification
was not lost as quickly as usual. Or at least, that some echo of the
identification existed amongst some theorists, even if we lost certainty
that they are right.>

First, the Arukh does not identify t'kheles; he identifies Tyrian. Second,
there is no shalsheles traceable to the Arukh. NOBODY before him
identifies it as coming from the royal-purple producing mollusc. The
Rambam, who lived at a time and place where the industry existed, does
not say ANYTHING that could support the identification. The sources for
identification are hundreds of years later.

R. Micha: <Alternatively, you have to explain why every couple of
centuries people make the same false identification without even making
the dye.>

Simple. That's the most famous dye known to be produced in the
Mediterranean. People throughout the ages knew of it. Adrabbo, since
early rishonim like Rashi knew that there was such a dye, why did they
not make the identification? My answer: they knew better. But 300 years
later, nobody knew better.

<BTW, what is "usual"? We didn't forget what "devash" is, or "ari", or

That's because they all existed or were famous where the rishonim were.

Items that did not exist in Ashk'naz were not identified by Ashk'nazi
rishonim or identified as other species (as is probably the case with

Same for S'faradi rishonim. Lions did not exist in Ashk'naz, but were well
known in the time of the rishonim and thereafter. The hillazon was not.

SM: <Qal vahomer regarding t'kheles, which was lost in the time of
the g'onim...>

R. Micha: <Actually, it is unclear whether the Rambam never had access to
techeiles. The Radziner argues otherwise, that after Peirush haMishnayos
he did get his hands on some.>

The Radzyner, bimhilo, was stretching. The Perush haMishnayos was not
completed until the Rambam was in Egypt, a good year and a half to two
years after he spent 18 months in EY. As I pointed out, he surely would
have found out in EY, if not before, about the purple dying industry,
which was operating when he was there in Tyre, not too far from where
he landed and lived in Acco. According to the Radzyner, what did he
find? Cuttlefish and their ink? He knew about them in Spain. According to
P'til Tekhelet, he already knew about the purple dying industry before
he finished the Perush, at least. (Furthermore, even if he found out
about t'kheles in the 10 years in Egypt between the completion of Perush
haMishnayos and the Mishne Torah, he would have gone back and changed his
language in the former that "la yumkin alyom," "it is impossible today"
to make t'kheles. As Qafih has shown, the Rambam kept correcting and
updating the Perush throughout his life.)

SM: <So then we go to a), the statements in the g'moro about the

R. Micha: <As I said, irrelevent.
<It's like going to the Medrash Rabba on the four minim, and trying to
reconstruct what an esrog is. Knowing that it has both ta'am varei'ach,
a pitom, an ukitz, a migdal (without being sure what thoser things are),
and rows of bumps wouldn't be enough to identify an esrog. And how does
the word "tower" really refer to the top part of a citron? If we're
going to consistantly address my suggestion, then the question the gemara
is asking is why do we want sky-blue wool colored by a chilazon rather
than kaleh ilan or some other dye? Instead, you're reverting back to the
assumption that the gemara was discussing zoology rather than trying to
find aggadic significance to the choice of chilazon.>

Again, you are missing my point. I am not claiming that the g'moro is
giving signs to positively identify the hillazon. I am claiming that we
need some evidence to indentify it. That evidence must either come from
a) the g'moro; b) the rishonim; c) archeology. If there is no evidence
in b), I went to a). Since the evidence from a) is ambiguous, at the
very least, and poses some difficulties for Murex, we look to c). And
since there is no evidence in c), what are we left with? The discovery
that a color-fast blue dye can be made out of a mollusc that was used
in the purple dying industry.

Why is that evidence that it is t'kheles? If I manage to make a blue dye
from a starfish or a coral or a deep-sea worm, will you also argue that
it is t'kheles?

Oh, woe, poor misunderstood me! Why am I so misunderstood? ;-)

SM: <So the g'moro is saying that the hillazon is a sea creature that
may be camouflaged (or not) and can be overfished and spawns. Rabbosai,
what does that not include? Yes, it excludes giant sea turtles, because
they lay eggs. Yes, it excludes brightly colored fish. But it includes
almost everything else. Starfish, octopodes, all molluscs, gastropods
and cephalopods, oysters and clams, sharks, manta rays, crabs, flounder
and hundreds of other kinds of fish...>

R. Micha: <But not all dyes come from fish. If it's not identification,
than part of the question is "Why an underwater invertibrate?" and not
necessarily "Which underwater invertebrate?">

Fine, but then the g'moro provides no evidence to identify the hillazon.

R. Greenspan writes, after applauding R. Mendel Singer for his article,
that <There are indeed questions... however the general evidence is
I ask again, if there is no evidence from the rishonim who lived close to
the time and place of the hillazon, no clear evidence from the g'moro, and
no clear archeological evidence, then what general evidence is R Greenspan
referring to? That the Murex secretion has to be extracted close to the
time of the animal's death? I will wager (R. Singer, please chime in)
that the blood and most internal secretions of living organisms, begin
to deteriorate immediately following death, and the question is just a
matter of time. The only thing that might not deteriorate is either a)
a compound meant to exist outside the organism, like the sepia of a
cuttlefish, or b) a basic element like nitrogen, which was all that was
needed for the Prussian blue.

R. Shlomo Taitelbaum writes: <Does anyone know what the supposed Brisker
position that a cheftza shel mitzva MUST have a mesora is based on?>
Rather than having me answer, or quoting R. Hershel Shachter, as R. Chayim
Twerski did in his piece, go to the source that I quoted: Shi 'urim
l'Zekher Abba Mari, vol.1, p 220-239, which matches my recollection of
the shiur. This was transcribed from a tape recording of RYBS's yortzeit
shiur in memory of his father (not word for word, of course, the original
was in Yiddish, but faithfully). And it is not "supposed." If RYBS quoted
the Beis haLevi as having said that, that means that R. Chayim Brisker
told his son, RYBS's father, that that was the Beis haLevi's position,
and R. Chayim never put his own Torah in his father's mouth. Whether
the Beis haLevi explained to the Radzyner Rebbe his full Torah on the
subject is, for our purposes, irrelevant.

To be continued with a discussion of R. Taitelbaum's objection to my
theory regarding lovon.

Seth Mandel

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