Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 031

Sunday, October 28 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 11:57:04 -0700
From: "Eli Turkel" <Eli.Turkel@colorado.edu>
ball tosif

> 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.

I find this hard to accept. Every time there is a machlokes do we run
into a problem of ball tosif (when applicable?).
RHS claims that ashkenazim paskin like Tosafos and so there is no safek.
This laso seems a little debateable that we use rules when SA doesn't

More generally I would need further proof that ball tosif applied to
tzizit. What if in the days of chazal someone clearly used 6 strings
of techelet would that be baal tosif? The fact is that we use 8 strings
of lavan and it is not ball tigra or ball tosif as the Mishna says each
one is independent.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 14:26:24 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: ball tosif

On Fri, Oct 26, 2001 at 11:57:04AM -0700, Eli Turkel wrote:
: I find this hard to accept. Every time there is a machlokes do we run
: into a problem of ball tosif (when applicable?).

How often is it applicable? In any case, I recommend RYGB's article
"Mezuzos, Machlokos and Eilu va'Eilu Divrei Elokim Chayim" at
<http://aishdas.org/rygb/eilu.htm>. There he discusses a different
situation in which following either side of a machloqes means not
hanging a mezuzah on the proper side of the doorway -- and therefore
being oveir the chiyuv, and following both would be bal tosif. RYGB
tells you to see Igros Moshe Yoreh De'ah 1:176 about hanging two
mezuzos, one on each side.

: RHS claims that ashkenazim paskin like Tosafos and so there is no safek.
: This laso seems a little debateable that we use rules when SA doesn't
: pasken.

Tosafos did not pasqen, as they lacked any halachah lima'aseh to pasqen
for. If we are following theoreticians, the Gra is the later shitah. Of
course, RYGB and I never did resolve what the Gra's maskanah was.
See our discussion at the end of vol 1 and the begning of vol 2.

I understand the Gra to hold like the Rambam, and the Radziner pasqened
or at least thought he was pasqening lemaaseh similarly. 1 of 8 strings.
(The shitah also appeals to me aggadicly, again see our earlier

: More generally I would need further proof that ball tosif applied to
: tzizit. What if in the days of chazal someone clearly used 6 strings
: of techelet would that be baal tosif? The fact is that we use 8 strings
: of lavan and it is not ball tigra or ball tosif as the Mishna says each
: one is independent.

Which would seem to mean that if the only string available is
(vadai) techeiles, you could be yotzei with 8 techeiles! But what about
bal tigra? The case in the mishnah is one of i efshar.


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 21:09:17 -0400
From: "yosef stern" <avrahamyaakov@hotmail.com>
Source for Kabbalah Nekabel

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

See Gemarah Yevomos 76b (in the Mishnah) and Kriesos 15b (in the Mishnah)
which says Im Halocho Nekabel...

kol tuv
yosef stern

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 15:03:43 -0400
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: davening in 'hazal's time took longer

On Thursday, October 25, 2001 4:33 PM, Gil Student <gil_student@hotmail.com>
>> 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.

On Friday 26 October 2001 14:54, Stuart Klagsbrun wrote:
> On what are you basing this assumption?

Because the shaliach tzibbur was actually motzi everybody, and people
surely understood the language more than most current daveners do (you
don't read NYT articles as quickly as pesuka dezimra, do you), so the
'hazan must have spent more time reciting these clearly and beautifully.

Arie Folger

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 14:59:58 -0400
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Ikkrim

On Friday 26 October 2001 14:54, Josh <BACKON@vms.HUJI.AC.IL> wrote:
> 1) The BACH in TUR Orach Chayim 671 avers that the Rambam holds that
> "mitzvot einam tzrichot kavanah" so your thesis that the Rambam holds
> that there is no heavenly reward for a mitzva done without kavanah
> doesn't hold water.

You confuse kavanah with kavanah. Acc to Rambam you need kavanah of
your general demeanor, incl. any accidental and intentional mitzvot,
to Hashem who is e'had umeyu'had. However, you do not need kavanah for
the ma'aseh hamitzvah. Furthermore, we can distinguish between kavanah
not needed for 'halos (chaleis for Brisers), but is needed for sakhar.

Arie Folger

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 15:01:48 -0400
From: Stuart Klagsbrun <SKlagsbrun@agtnet.com>
RE: davening in 'hazal's time took longer

On Friday, October 26, 2001 3:04 PM, Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu> wrote:
> Because the shaliach tzibbur was actually motzi everybody, and people
> surely understood the language more than most current daveners do (you
> don't read NYT articles as quickly as pesuka dezimra, do you), so the
> 'hazan must have spent more time reciting these clearly and beautifully.

WADR, I believe that is quite a stretch.


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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 15:23:30 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: davening in 'hazal's time took longer

What about simple "nisqatnu hadoros? Since, as R' Papa tells Abayei, there
is less yir'as Shamayim with each generation, isn't it logical to assume
they spent more time because they had more to think and feel?


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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 15:18:43 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Ikkarim

I am glad RGS has joined battle, as I do not have the time or inclination 
to do so. All I can say is ZGG, obber ich vill fregen...

At 10:09 AM 10/26/01 -0400, Gil Student wrote:
>                                                      Ralbag himself
>writes (Milchemos Hashem 6:1:17; tr. Feldman vol. 3 p. 300) "The world
>is created from something insofar as it is generated from [some kind]
>of body; it is created from nothing insofar as this body is devoid of
>form." He believes in a creation from nothing, if one defines formless
>matter to be essentially nothing. Would Rambam consider this to be ex
>nihilo? No. But Ralbag believes that it is a modified version of it.

1. Since the only work of Ralbag I possess is the peirush on Nach, I
do not have access to this stuff (unless it is on the DBS or Bar Ilan
CD). How does this differ substantively from Chomer Hiyuli?

>>R. Moses Taku did not make up his views, however strange they appear 
>>today. He must have received them from his teachers.

>Or derived them from texts, as you later assert. Did R. Moshe of Taku
>explicitly say that he learned it from his teachers (not that it really

2. Who exactly cares what this fellow says anyway? Perhaps his fellow 
medieval Jews did not drink R' Moshe of Taku's wine uncooked!

I still stand by my original point. Our friend Dr. Shapiro's book, I am
sure, will prove my point to an even greater extent...

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 15:26:44 -0400
From: David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>
Re: Source for Kabbalah Nekabel

On Thu, 25 Oct 2001 21:09:17 -0400 "yosef stern" <avrahamyaakov@hotmail.com>
> David Hojda writes:
> <<Where does the phrase [Im] Kabbalah [Who] Nekabel come from? Does it
> originate with the ibn Ezra?>>

> See Gemarah Yevomos 76b (in the Mishnah) and Kriesos 15b (in the Mishnah)
> which says Im Halocho Nekabel...

Yes, I realize that the ibn Ezra is rephrasing the language of the
mishna. His rephrasing, however, rather than the mishnaic original,
appears many more times on the Bar Ilan CD, throughout later Rabbinic

Did he originate it? Why did his version take hold, especially since it
appears to sometimes be his way of saying just the opposite: He seems
to be saying "I do not believe it and do not accept it" or "I'm from

Compare ibn Ezra Bereishis 11:29 (Shita Acheres) and 11:29 regarding
Sarah also being Yiska. He dissmisses it unequivocally, yet also says
"IM Kabbalah ...".

David Hojda

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 16:15:52 -0400
From: David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>
Re: Source for Kabbalah Nekabel

I forgot to add:
ibn Ezra Breishis 11:28 (shitah Acheres)
and Breishis 22:4. as further examples.

David Hojda

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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 00:31:07 -0400
From: David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>
Re: Phantom Maamorei Chazal...

On Sun, 28 Oct 2001 14:29:43 +1100 "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au> writes:
> OK it seems I fell for this one, which I shouldn't have as
> I have for some years been collecting those well-known
> "Maamorei Chazal" that are non-existent and last night
> when I checked the list, this is indeed one of them.

Add (perhaps) "Ma'aseh avos siman l'bonim", one of the very foundations
of our hashkafa.

The Ramban says in Breishis 12:6, "Omru Rabbosseinu: Kol Mah she Ira
l'Avos, siman l'banim".

Where did they say it?

The Tanchuma that is usually footnoted only refers to Avraham and does
not mention that this principle extends to the other Avos.

Even though the Ramban says that Rabboseinu used "lashon ketzara",
one is left to assume that the Ramban had some other source.

David Hojda

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 16:41:23 EDT
From: Phyllostac@aol.com
Fwd: sasson ve-simhah

From: yidubitsky@JTSA.EDU
> In the brocho of 'asher boro sosson visimcha , chosson vikallah, gila,
> rina, ditza......' - 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

Im not sure if you have been responded to already on Avodah or privately,
but if not:
the pasuk itself says kol sasson...kallah etc and the end part gilah
rinah etc is, i think, just a development of that idea, explaining
precisely what is the nature of a kol hatan and kallah. Also, FWIW,
the Seder Rav Amram Gaon (and perhaps others?) does not have the words
"hatan ve-kallah" in that berakhah.

kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 01:42:39 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>

This might be better on Mesorah, but I think the Avodah olam needs a
shot at it. Does anyone know the significance of the fact that while
Yisrael and Yishmael are the only umos with Shem Hashem in their name,
the tzeireh in Yisrael is under the aleph, leaving the name of Hashem
intact, while for Yishmael it's under the ayin, with no nikud on
the aleph. The Shem is therefore incomplete. Comments?


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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 01:57:09 -0400
From: David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>
Ramban al HaTorah

I would like to call the members' attention to two important new perushim
to Ramban al HaTorah that have been recently published: "Beis HaYayin" on
Berishis and "Yeqev Ephraim" to the entire Ramban al HaTorah.

The first sefer goes through every Ramban in a serious way, line by line,
as a serious limud, akin to the way one would learn Chidushei HaRamban al
HaShas. His focus is on trying to show how the Ramban learns the pasuk,
with cross-references to other Rambans. He tries to demonstrate that the
Ramban is a peshat perush, in the footsteps of the RADAK and ibn Ezra.
The author is also known for his Beis Lechem Yehuda al HaShas.

The second sefer (two volumes) elaborates on some of the ideas in
selected Rambans, in a very thoughtful fashion. Someone I spoke with, who
has himself worked on and taught Ramban for years, told me that he finds
this perush "humbling". Its author is a Rosh Kollel in Boro Park.

David Hojda

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Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 16:11:19 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Techeiles /Baal Tigra vs Baal Tosif

There are at least three different shitos as to the number of threads
in Rishonim. If you follow all of them, would that not remove any
safek? Ask RHS or any of his talmidim who wear Techeles how they deal
with this issue.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 19:40:58 +0000
From: "Seth Mandel" <sethm37@hotmail.com>
Re: tekheles

SMandel: <the Rambam (who was a Brisker, in case that fact escaped the
attention of anyone on the list>

R. Taitelbaum: <Incorrect, the Rambam writes clearly (in his letters)
that his work was meant to be learned and understood on its own, without
Gemara and mefarshim. Which Brisker believes the Rambam?>

R. Taitelbaum, you misquoted me. The full quote is: <(who was a Brisker,
in case that fact escaped the attention of anyone on the list ;-))>
My tongue is in my cheek, as is my wont; yours appears to be sticking
out, sort of like the Murex trunculus when it is trying to devour a
particularly delectable oyster. Everybody knows the Rambam is really a
Brisker because of his 1) fondness for tzvei bezundere dinim; 2) his
opposition to singing and dancing; and 3) his opinion that inserting
R. Shloyme Carlebach tunes into davening changes it from t'filla to
"la'ab" :-). The Rambam might stick out his tongue at you as well (he
certainly would at me).

R. Taitelbaum: <Some questioned would we not e 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...>

Others have also been nonplussed by my eminently reasonable and logical
position. I am plussed to see that no one has advanced a good argument
against it. But I do feel that I have to enlarge on it a little, because
of various challenges.

The g'moro says (38b): <tanya: Rebbi Yitzhaq omer mishom Rebbi Natan
she'amar mishom Rebbi Yose haG'lili she'amar mishom Rebbi Yohanan
ben Nuri: ein lo t'kehlet, mattil lavan.> What, we can't figure
out that you that you can't have a t'kheles string if you don't have
t'kheles? Obviously, the g'moro means more than that, and so Rashi says:
<mattil lavan: kol ha'arba' hutin.> In other words, you could say that
without t'kheles, you could make do with just the remaining 4/6/7 strings
of lovon; after all, "hat'khelet einu m'aqqev et halavan." Rather, Rashi
interprets the g'moro as saying that there was some sort of taqqono
to have all (4=8) strings being lovon (which, according to him, meant
red/green/purple or whatever the color of the garment was), and not
that you can have less than 8 strings or that the strings can be of any
color you want. And less you argue that nowadays a string colored blue,
when the garment was green, is OK because we ignore it and consider it
not there, remember the halokho of gardumin: if a string is completely
cut off, even one of the lovon strings that are "extra" over the number
that Hazal had when there was t'kheles, the tzitzis are posul (mahloqes
rishonim exactly how much of a string must be cut).

So the question then is why should not one of these "extra" lovon
strings be any color you want? That indeed is the hava ameina of the
g'moro on 40a.

The g'moro is discussing a statement that you should not wear t'kheles on
a beged of linen, and is suggesting various possible reasons. The g'moro
then suggests that the reason is "g'zera mishom qala ilan," that people
will mistakenly use indigo instead of t'kehles on the tzitzis, and then
it will be kel'ayim. The g'moro then says "v'lo y'he ella lavan." Rashi:
<mai ikpat lan 'i rame qala ilan, la y'he hai qala ilan illa lavan b'alma,
klomar tzemer lavan, ha'amarn l'eil "ein lo t'khelet mattil lavan.>
("What do we care if it is indigo on the strings, it is not worse that
regular lavan, have we not said previously that if ou don't have t'khelet,
you put on lavan instead?")

According to Rashi, this is exactly our question. Who cares if it is not
t'kheles, a string colored blue should be no worse than a white/green/red
string, so why should there be anything wrong with wearing one of the
strings blue, even if it is not t'kheles?

Unfortunately for us, the g'moro rejects the hava ameina on the basis of
"kol maqom she'atta motze 'ase v'lo ta'aseh, im atta yakho l'qayyem et
sh'neihem, mutav." I.e. if you don't have to violate the lo ta'aseh,
you don't. I.e. in our case, since the lavan cannot be made not out of
real t'kheles, which requires wool, then don't make it out of wool at all.

I say unfortunately, because that does not leave us with a clear statement
about whether the s'voro was nidheh as well. Do we say that putting
on another color is OK, there is no problem if all of the strings are
not lovon, and the g'moro just rejects the idea because the qala ilan
was on wool? Or do we say that the g'moro could have answered that qala
ilan does not qualify as lavan if the beged is not blue, and the g'moro
just gave another answer. G'moro cognoscenti know that if there are a
couple of answers, the g'moro gives one, and it is usually impossible
to determine what the g'moro would say about the others.

So why am I being my normal curmudgeonly self and insisting that the
halokho is indeed that other colored strings are no good?

Two arguments. First, according to Rashi: he says, as I have said before,
that min kanaf means that the tzitzis must be the color of the garment.
There is no clear support for such a position in the g'moro (indeed
Tosafos argue against it), so the only reason for Rashi to use it is
that he holds that is the rule.

Second, I have the Rambam. Since he is not a perush on the g'moro,
but a p'saq halokho, we can determine what he holds l'ma'aseh. He says
in Hil Tzitzis 1:1 he says "v'ein l'hut he'anaf minyan min hatorah,"
that d'orayson there is no fixed number of hutei lovon. But then in 1:5
he says "v'arba' hatzitziyot m'aqq'vot zo et zo, she'arba'tan mitzva
ahat," "the 4 [whole] strings of the tzitzis are m'aqqev each other,"
apparently a taqqono d'rabbonon. After discussing how you wrap the 1
string of t'kehles around the 7 strings of lovon, in 1:9 he says that if
you have no t'kheles, you take one of the 8 strings and wrap it around
the other 7. And in 1:18 he paskens that "im nifsaq hut me'iqqaro, afilu
hut ahat, p'sula." In other words, he requires, at least d'rabbonon,
that you have all 8 strings of lovon if you do not have t'kheles. And
in 2:8 he defines lovon as meaning the color of the garment. So if you
have 1, 2, or 4 strings of the 8 that are not the color of the garment,
and not t'kheles, according to the Rambam you are either missing the
proper number of strings (which is m'aqqev), or you are not fulfilling
the mitzva of lovon.

It has been claimed that the Chazon Ish disagrees with this, because it
is quoted in his name by the Maaseh Ish that he 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.

If this were something he himself wrote I could analyze it and see whether
he really meant that. As it is, I can only definitively say that 1) he
himself did not wear t'kheles; 2) it is claimed in his name that he said
wearing a sofeq t'kheles is not a problem. As against that, you have a
statement by R. Elyashiv that he himself wrote that it is a problem to
wear a sofeq t'kheles, because it is not lovon (quoted by R. Aharon Meir
Goldstein in his response to R. Chaim Twerski's article). I shall not
stick my thin neck into arguing which statement is more authoritative
or reliable; I shall just wait for someone to show me why Rashi and the
Rambam do not say what they seem to me to say.

I will probably, if work allows, pick at all the nits that R. Taitelbaum
unreasonably found with my well-argued position : --). However, there
is one that I will handle here.

I was quoting R. Borshtein's book about all the g'dolim who refused
to wear the Radzyne t'kheles, despite it being at that time a sofeq
t'kheles. R. Taitelbaum objected: <However the Maharsham (who I believe
could be called THE poseik of that dor for sure wore Radzyn techeiles
and even wanted to be buried in that tallis, as he wrote in his tzavaah
(to be found at the beginning of his "Techeiles Mordechai" on Chumash).>

I am sure that most will agree with me that it is inappropriate for
any of us to argue who was "THE poseik" of a century ago. Adrabbo, a
century ago the poseq in each city was probably the rov and ABD of the
community, although the rov of a community would probably consult with
either his rebbi or some of his colleagues in a particularly difficult
issue. I will say that The Maharsham was not considered the posek of any
community that I know of in Lita. In Kovno, they had R. Yitzhoq Elhonon
(I know not why R. Borshtein and R. Taitelbaum call him "the maggid of
Kovno," when he was the Kovner Rov and ABD), and in other communities
they had their own Rov and ABD. Perhaps R. Taitelbaum means that he
was considered the preeminent posek in Galicia, and that therefore all
Galitiziane yidden should have followed him in wearing the t'kheles. But
that leads me to my question (R. Mechy, feel free to chime in, because
this is a genuine question about which you would know more). At the very
least, the Maharsham was the well-respected rov of Brezen. So how is it
that the inhabitants of Brezen did not start wearing t'kheles?

This just leads me back to my basic premise. I know some old-timers who
learned in Grodno who keeps some minhogim from R. Shimon Shkop. I know
some from Baranovich who kept some minhogim of R. Elhonon Wasserman. I
know some from Radin who keep minhogim of the CC. Yet I know of none
from any yeshiva who wore t'kheles in Europe, and all I have asked deny
that their RY wore t'kheles. And yet the Radzyne t'kheles before 1915
or so was certainly a sofek: a blue dye made from a marine animal that
met the qualifications in the g'moro as well as Murex does. As I said,
RY were not under the same communal pressure that the rov of a big city
was, and yet none wore. They were certainly not following R. Gelbstein,
who as everyone involved admits was arguing more from anger and animosity
than from solid halakhic reasoning.

That is my argument. The evidence for Murex is interesting, but hardly
overwhelming. The evidence from the g'moro is ambiguous and there are
certainly things there very hard to reconcile with Murex. There is no
identification by rishonim who actually claim or could claim to have
seen it and know with anything more than conjecture what the t'kheles
was made from.

The archeological evidence is no evidence at all. So why should anyone
do anything other than what R. Yitzchoq Elhonon, or the Roshei Yeshiva
of Mir, Telz, Ponyevezh, Grodno, or Slabodka did and sit it out, waiting
for definitive evidence?

Unless, perhaps, if you are from Brezen.

Seth Mandel

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Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 16:12:25 -0400
From: "Ari Z. Zivotofsky - FAM" <azz@lsr.nei.nih.gov>
Re: limits of kedushah?

regarding the ongoing discussion about what may or may not be read in the
bathroom, people may be interested in an article I had several years
ago in the Jornal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (number XXIX,
Spring, 1995, pages 89-128), called "Your camp shall be holy"- Halacha
and Modern plumbing. I don't answer all of the questions that have been
raised in this discussion, but it does cover a lot fo the background.

Ari Zivotofsky

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Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 09:51:11 +0200
From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@bezeqint.net>
Re: ikkarim

R' Meir - In responding your carefully reasoned response to my posting,
I'd like to elaborate on the bimodal distribution I mentioned in my
original posting. What follows is something which is apparently obvious
to some but not all members of this list.

The tone of Prof Shapiro's article as well as the conclusions he has
reached are apparently more than engagement in an interesting topic
of discussion. It comes across the same way as the discussion in the
BDD journal of Bar Ilan concerning Torah and Science by a distinguished
Harvard mathematician. Both of these erudite presentations seem to be
making two fundamental claims.

1) There is a misunderstanding of facts not only by the Orthodox masses
but by rabbinic authorities as well. This misunderstanding of facts has
led and continues to lead to errors in halachic and hashkofic matters.
2) The learned professors - with their finely honed academic skills as
well as total objective focus on finding truth - not only have greater
knowledge of historical and physical reality - but they consequently have
a more correct knowledge of the genuine Jewish thing to do and think -
than the collective of talmidei chachomim past and present.

The response to these claims is to point out the obvious - that the
perspective of the Orthodox Jew differs significantly from the academic.

The starting point for an Orthodox Jew is not only what the texts say
but how these texts are understood by rabbinic authorities. The truth
is known and is contained in the Torah literature - an Orthodox Jew's
job is to understand it. His job is not to determine whether G-d exists
or whether talmidei chachomim are in error when they label a person or
group as heretical or even if there is such a thing a rabbinic authority.
His job is to understand what gedolim say about these things - to the
best of his ability.

The starting point of an academic is a compilation of sources and an
attempt to objectively understand them. Truth is not known but remains to
be discovered. The texts and the views of talmidei chachomim are simply
data that must be understood - let the chips fall where they may. Thus
the truth is not knowable until all the material is carefully analysed
and fit into the proper conceptual framework. The fact that this truth
might deviate - perhap even significantly - from what the religious
authorites think is largely irrelevant to the academic.

Getting back to Prof Shapiro. His article was a response to Rabbi
Parness' assertion that " 'Torah u-Madda can only be viable if it imposes
strict limits on freedom of inquiry in areas that undermine the yod
gimel ikkarei emunah'. In other words, in his view, it is the Thirteen
Principles of Faith of Maimonides that are determinative with regard to
what constitutes heresy....[however]...even a cursory examination of
Jewish literature shows that Maimonides' principles were never regarded
as the last world in Jewish theology."

If as you assert that his point was simply to establish that what is
meant today by the Thirteen Principles of Faith is not exactly what
the Rambam expressed - I don't think you will find any disagreement and
there was no need to even write an article to expound on this thesis.

In fact he is perceived to have another agenda. What is problematic
is asserting that a person is not a heretic if he proclaims that G-d
is physical because there once were people who apparently believed
this. What is problematic is to assert that beliefs are not amenable to
the halachic process and therefore a person can not be labeled a heretic
by others - as long as he has a source which indicates that some "gadol"
believed what he claims to believe. What is problematic is to reject
the ability of rabbonim and communities to decide something is heresy
because they supposedly lack a proper mechanism or have failed to follow
proper procedure.

If the Chasam Sofer says somebody is an apikorus - I can not simply
dismiss this because he seemed to have failed to follow what I think
are correct procedures - unless I have another authority of stature
to rely on. The academic has no problem of rejecting the Chasam Sofer
and every other gadol because they are simply "wrong" c.v.

Once we agree as to whether we are functioning as academics or Orthodox
Jews - the issues can be readily dealt with. As an Orthodox Jew the
questions raised are interesting - but have no practical consequences
since there is no Gadol who would modify his determination of heresy
after reading Dr. Shapiro's article.

  Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 21:20:04 -0400
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: bakashot on shabbat

In Avodah V8 #30, JRich wrote:
> see tosfot bavli brachot 48b - matchil reference to yerushalmi-elu
> kesharim in mesechet shabbat

after writing in V8 #23 that
> I believe the bakashos reason is brought down in the Yerushalmi.

AIU Tos'fos, they bring a ra'ayah from that TY sugya that the Birchas
HaMozon ("BhM") 3rd-b'rocho text of "r'aynu zoonainu...," which
constitutes bakoshos to hKbH, _should_ be said without emendation
on Shabbos. Accordingly, not only have you not brought a TY source
stating that the weekday-Amidah "middle" b'rachos are elided because
they constitute bakashos that are not to be said on Shabbos, you've
pointed to a source which buttresses our practice (codified in OC 188,
and see the trenchant comments of MA and the GRA on s'if 4) _not_ to
elide on Shabbos from BhM what apparently [see below] are considered
for-the-individual bakoshos.

Looking at that Tos'fos, I had a small thought. The text mentioned above
(along with the rest of BhM) is in the plural, just like the Amidah
b'rachos, yet, to my knowledge (and no one has yet contradicted this),
the Talmud doesn't question the saying of Amidah bakoshos on Shabbos
qua bakoshos while, as Joel [intentionally or unintentionally] noted,
it does question the saying of BhM bakoshos on Shabbos -- is it possible
that BhM bakoshos, despite being in the plural, are l'chat'chilah meant
to be said by a group of any size, e.g. less than a minyan, and thus
can be considered for-the-individual bakoshos, while Amidah bakoshos,
even though they can be said by an individual/biychidus, are l'chat'chilah
meant to be said by a tzibbur and thus can be considered for-the-community
bakoshos [which are permitted on Shabbos]? Comments/potshots welcome.

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 14:48:29 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
re Birkat haBanot

SBA wrote:
>Finally, for those seeking a (200 year old) nusach habrocho - for both
>girls AND boys, see the abovementioned PY - who has documented his
>personal nuscho'os - which include Y'vorechecho and Yesimcho for both
>boys and girls.

From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer"
> Great post. In our family both father and mother give the berachos -
> but we also did so after Havdolo. Any makor for that?

For after havdolo?
The only ones I found were the MA b'shem Maharil and RYE: "beM'S chozrin
umisborchin habonim vehatalmidim me'avosehem verabosehem lesiman tov
behascholas yemei hashovua.." [and Minhogei CS].

(BTW a very interesting maamar from RYE regarding the Luz bone - which
is necessary for Techiyas Hameisim, p. 206 in the nussach Sefard siddur.)

As for females benching their offspring etc the only source I have found
until now is the Otzar Hatefilos siddur which writes (re Friday night):
"V'agav nohagim gam ken levorech shaar anoshim kgon dodim vedodos zkeimim
uzkeinos, hakol merov simcho..."


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Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 19:12:47 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkarim

On Thu, Oct 25, 2001 at 09:43:53AM -0400, Marc Shapiro <Maylocks1@aol.com>
: 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)

Compare with the Ramban, who posited a two-creation model. (A precursor
of the Tif'eres Yisrael's?) He also believed that this world was made
from formless substance, pure hyle. (The Ramban uses the Greek term
for substance in contrast to morph, form.) However, the first ceation,
that described in Bereishis 1:1, was the creation of that hyle.

So the Ramban does believe in yeish mei'ayin where "ayin" refers to
the absence of both substance and form. Unlike the Ralbag, where
"ayin" refers only to the absence of form.

: 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...

I think the distinction is that we're assuming that "heretic" is
being used as English for apikoreis, min or kofeir -- halachi terms
used WRT stam yeinam or geirus.

Therefore yes, the halachic process proceeds even after the petirah
of rishonim who held differently.

Which is how I would address R' Meir Shinnar's question as well. On Thu,
Oct 25, 2001 at 10:19:16PM -0400, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: Indeed, the belief that the same principles apply to hashkafa as to psak
: is a breathtaking hiddush, and I wonder about the sources....

There are halachos that determine who we are to treat others based on
their beliefs. These halachos follow the same rules as any other.

Yes, the truth of hashkafic propositions ought not be determined by
halachic process. However, determining that some idea is false isn't
the same as determining that its adherent is an apikoreis, kofeir or

As a parallel: Tosafos hold it's mutar for a ben Noach to believe
that H' has a shutaf -- but they obviously don't say that the belief
is true!

On Fri, Oct 26, 2001 at 10:09:13AM -0400, Gil Student wrote:
: >A mitzvah performed without understanding of the divine intent etc. does 
: >not lead to reward.

: In other words, according to the Rambam a mitzvah must be performed with all 
: the proper kavanos (to misuse the kabbalistic term) in order to be rewarded. 
: This is a far cry from denying that mitzvos are not rewarded.  They are 
: not rewarded if they are performed *improperly*.  I don't see its relevance 
: at all to the discussion of ikkarim.

It's not even that man is rewarded for each mitzvah with qavanah.

The Rambam holds that a person who has sufficient yedi'ah of HQBH survives
into Olam haBa. As he says (and I've posted here repeatedly), "hirba
lahem Torah umitzvos" is because each mitzvah provides an opportunity
to reach that epiphany and gain that yedi'ah. "Qoneh olamo bisha'ah
achas" -- in that moment when he gains the critical element of yedi'ah.

However, that doesn't deny sechar va'onesh -- it says that sechar relates
to the state of the person "ba'asher hu sham" (to quote this week's
parashah), and not the person's history or directly to his actions.

This position is quite common. The Rambam's uniqueness is that he considers
the relevent feature the person's yedi'as Hashem, and not his goodness
or his emotional connectedness to the Borei.


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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