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Volume 08 : Number 118

Friday, March 1 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:55:31 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: women reading megilla

Jonathan Baker wrote:
>First you need to show that kevod tzibur is an issue by kriat megillah.

The Semag and the Eshkol say this.  See also Magen Avraham 689:5.

>I don't read the Magen Avraham that way. He seems to say that they *can* be 
>mochel on their kavod, but *in this case* it's still assur for them to 
>appoint an adolescent as shaliach tzibur, at least lechatchilah.

No, there is background to this machlokes.  See the Tur and Beis Yosef.

Shoshana Boublil wrote:
>I don't recall seeing so much fear of women being Motzi their husbands by 
>saying the B'racha and lighting Chanuka candles as I see here when it comes 
>to reading the Megilla.

Correct.  But the Semag and Magen Avraham I cited above specifically 
differentiate between Megillah and Neiros Chanukah because Megillah is 
similar to reading the Torah.

Gil Student

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 10:32:25 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Toras Purim 5762, Cont'd

Forgot to mention the connection to Haman-taschen!

Of course, to begin on a tangent, in Hebrew "Oznei Homon" is zeh l'ummas
zeh of "Oznei Yehoshua" in Parashas Amalek at the end of Beshalach. Why
they have three corners, any bar bei rav d'chad yoma knows, corresponding
to Chabad, as Shlomo ha'Melech says Simcha only comes after Chochmo
and Da'as (Koheles 2:25). Why Shlomo leaves Bina out of the equation
is an interesting question which I will leave to keen minds out there
to resolve. But as we know, in Kabbalah Bil'am is the penimi'us of the
Kelipah of Amalek, and he claimed to be "yodei'ah da'as elyon" - and
Chazal deride him - "afilu da'as behemto lo yoda" - so the true da'as
is that which is beyond human da'as (I know this is not quite accurate,
terminologically, but da'as elyon, *not* da'as tachton) - *ad de'lo
yoda*. And this is of course all merumaz in "ozen she'shom'o al Har Sinai"
- which does not require profound intellectual thought (compare Hakhel:
"anashim bo'im lilmod, nashim ba'os lishmo'ah - please don't take offense
at the politically incorrect reference!) - but to hear the "kol demomo
dakka." Amalek, as everyone knows, casts doubts (gimatriya = safek)
but Moshe imbedded ("*sim* b'oznei Yehoshua") clarity in Jewish hearts
(the Besht's teitch in "Bas Kol" for those willing to hear).

Anyway, nachzor l'inyaneinu, that Hamataschen are clearly meant to serve
as the third breakthrough of the C-O. Ca'aOo is by klapping Haman. CoOo is
the ikkar mitzvas ha'yom, and CiOo (Yiddish: tasch = pocket) is through
Haman-taschen. The filling comes through.

This has, of course, very important halachic ramifications, as clearly
one cannot be yotzei with a sealed or covered Hamantasch.

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

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:17:41 -0500
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Re: Kesav Ashuris

Micha Berger wrote:
> (I might point out that while the letters were carved all the way through,
> there was already a neis in the geometry involved, since they were not
> backwards on the other side. Li nir'eh both are the same neis involving
> the abnormality of the carving.)

Rabbi Hartman understand's the Maharal's understanding of Rashi's ...
differently from this. See his edition of Gur Aryeh Ki Tissah 32:15
D"H Mishnei Evreihem and footnotes 63-64.

David Riceman

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:39:41 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Nishama should have an aliya

In our thoroughly modern :-) orthodox shul, individuals of
every background sponsor a Tikkun Yahrtzeit (seems always to be
cookies,cake,whiskey and orange juice - but I'm not asking about this)
and the standard statement to the "celebrant" is "the nishama should have
an aliya". I had always associated both these elements with chassidic
tradition. Am I correct in this? If so, is there a mitnagdic equivalent of
"the nishama should have an aliya" to be said. Also given the gemora
(IIRC) calling for fasting on the yahrtzeit, what is the source of
the tikkun?

Another Chaver asked a related question: Where is the maqor for saying
that the neshamos of niftarim "come down" to join in their descendents
simachos. I found this question particularly interesting in that the
gemora debates the question of "matim yodim" and R'EED states (IIRC)
that only those who were immeresed bolam hazeh will still relate to it
once they're niftar. Yet clearly the perception is that niftarim do
"come down" - any sources? I can provide the gemora and REED to anyone
who is interested.

A meaningful and easy fast to all,
Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 13:37:51 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: Women and Minyan for the Reading of the Megilla

Just to clarify, the sources listed in my "article" relate to Kol Isha
and not to megillah reading. I think the convergence of this discussion
and my finding the "article" on my computer and forwarding it to Micha
caused the confusion.

[Speaking as the confused person, yes it did. Now on to a 2nd email... -mi]

I don't think that anyone can argue with Prof. Frimer's thesis that
many poskim permit women to read megillah for OTHER WOMEN. There are,
of course, significant poskim who disagree with that premise as well.

See, for example, the Mishnah Berurah in 589:8, quoting from the Magen
Avraham and Chayei Adam.

Gil Student

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 18:42:43 GMT
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: Segulos

R' David Riceman wrote <<< Let us suppose that the incantations
recommended in the gemara work by either coercing or confusing shedim. We
could certainly imagine demonology as a respectable pursuit without
ascribing any religious significance to it... >>>

R' Micha Berger responded <<< I disagree. I'm arguing that belief in
a world in which sheidim exists presumes emunah that there is a 2nd,
spiritual, reality. To my mind that already is avak emunah. >>>

I think that the word "emunah" has become too ambiguous to be used
without some kind of modifier. (I'm not sure what RMB means by *avak*
emunah. It may or may not be similar to what follows.)

I agree with RMB that "a world in which sheidim exists presumes emunah
that there is a 2nd, spiritual, reality." But I also agree with RDR that
this other reality does not necessarily have any religious significance.

If existence of a physical reality does not implicity testify to its
Creator, then I believe that a non-physical reality does not hold such
testimony either.

One might believe that there is a non-physical (call it "spiritual",
if you like) reality, populated by sheidim, mal'achim, or whatever,
whose job it is to perform tasks which the physical world cannot deal
with. Such tasks might include determining when a specific radioactive
atom will decay, or whether a specific kamaya will heal this choleh. If
one has such beliefs, it is NOT inconsistent to say that these sheidim and
malachim have zero religious significance. Despite being in a non-physical
realm, they are no more worthy of devotion than the sun and trees are.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 14:24:42 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Toras Purim 5762 III

1. R' Tzadok Risisei Lyla p. 139 - Megillas Esther begins and ends with a 
vav - the vav ha'chibbur. The Likutei Halachos concerning the six levushim 
that Mordechai wore in Esther 8:15 says there are six bechinos in Torah 
(kasher/pasul, tamei/tahor, assur/muttar).

2. Based on the Divrei Shmuel of Slonim - Mordechai is ben Shim'i - ozen 
shoma'as. See also Esther 9:4 - "V'shom'o [Mordechai's] holech bechol 

3. Chatzi ha'Malchus: Malchus in gimatriya is 496 - half of that is 248 - 
Ramac"h - if the mitzvos penetrate all of one's 248 limbs, mida k'neged 
mida Hashem responds (Hashem tzilcha - the Besht - your reflection) and 
Malchus is complete.

4. The Divrei Yechezkel contrasts Esther 7:2-3 with 6:5 - two leshonos of 
bakosho vs. four - the first is bechinas Y-H, before the yeshu'ah (ein 
ha'shem shalem), the latter bechinas Y-H-V-H, shem shalem. It would seem, 
then, that Tov corresponds to the Yud, chen to the first Heh, Kasher to the 
Vav, and Tovah to the second Heh. V'duk in 9:13.

5. A fascinating insight from the sefer Pri ho'eitz on why shem Hashem is 
not in the Megillah: Were there to be shem Hasem b'feirush, there would be 
a backhanded zechus to Amalek having served as the vehicle for Kiddush Shem 
Shomayim. The Megillah emphasizes that any such conclusion is incidental, 
and no zechus accrues to Haman.

More later if I see anything else interesting.


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Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 21:19:58 GMT
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
re: Segulos

My last post was a response to R' Micha's first post in Avodah 8:117. His
second post clarified his position, but the connection between Segulos
and Bechira went over my head somewhat. Thanks to the archives, I've
gone back over them, and I would like to offer more comments.

In Avodah 8:113, R' Micha explained the connection between Segulos and
Bechirah: <<< Physical causality aids in hester panim. Metaphysical
causality is a ra'ayah that there is Something beyond the
chushim. Therefore, natural law aids bechirah chafshi, supernatural
violations of that law -- even if they follow a different set of laws --
hinders bechirah. >>>

The only real distinction I see is between Causality and *Violations*
Of Causality. As long as the individual sees that the results of his
choice will have the anticipated result, Bechira is preserved. I see no
significance to the *nature* of that causality.

I agree that <<< Metaphysical causality is a ra'ayah that there is
Something beyond the chushim. >>> but that neither helps nor hinders
bechirah. All it means is that the individual is not yet sufficiently
knowledgeable to understand the processes of that causality. I would say
that "natural law -- whether physical or not -- aids bechirah chafshi,
while supernatural *violations* of that law hinder bechirah."

I have a favorite quote from science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke
that I've been wanting to bring to this thread, and I think this is the
right time: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
from magic." (In other words, there's no real difference between the
phyical world and the spiritual world, except insofar as your ability
to perceive them.)

The bottom line, as I see it, is that the precise workings of many modern
medicines are less-than-fully understood by doctors, and certainly by
laymen. Yet the doctor prescribes, and we take. I really don't see any
difference between acetaminphen and a *tested* kamayah. As long as a
causal relationship is perceived, bechirah is on solid ground.

(A long-time science-fiction fan, I've often pictured myself going back in
time a few centuries or more, and trying to explain the concept of germs
to the people around me: "You can't see them, but they're all over the
place. Washing helps get rid of them. This is very important, especially
after using the bathroom or touching dirty things." And they all respond
to me, "Yeah, klipos and sheidim and all that stuff. What's your point?")

Based on my views above, I am mystified by R' Micha's view that <<<
Therefore believing in the laws that segulos rely upon already shows a
different bechirah-point (to use REED's terminology as translated by
RAC) than non-belief. I therefore would argue that even an atheistic
mechanistic view of segulos involves damaging the balance of bechirah. >>>

Why is bechira damaged by even an atheistic mechanistic view? As long
it is mechanistic, I don't see why there is any impact on a totally
free bechira.

Bechira is damaged only when a person is worried about a force which may
attempt to subvert the expected results of the choice he is now making. If
my view of the world leads me to believe that eating chazir will not
result in my being struck by lightning, then I will make that choice at an
appropriate spot on my bechira-point level. But if my view of the world
leads me to fear that I will (or may) get ill from eating that chazir,
then again, my choice will be made at the appropriate bechira-point. And
this is true regardless of whether that illness is result of the physical
world based on trichinosis germs (or whatever), or whether the illness
is the result of a metaphysical Chazir Sheid (or whatever). As long as
I am aware of the causal relationship, bechira is complete.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 12:11:36 -0500
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Playing hide-and-seek [was Segulos]

I'm no longer sure what your position is, though I'm still pretty certain
I know what mine is. This is my attempt to translate, in lashon hedyot,
what I think you're saying. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and we can
then continue.

[DR's summary of RMB's position]:
God plays hide-and-seek with us. He hides to preserve our free will.
On the other hand, He doesn't hide too effectively, because he wants us to
find Him. IYHO segulos violate the rules of this game of hide-and-seek
because they point too obviously to God, and deny the possibility
of atheism.

Ad kan my attempt to describe your position. Here are some criticisms:

1. The game of hide-and-seek is not a universally accepted position;
it is denied, for example by R. Dessler's concept of "field of choice"
[s'deh habechira, which I guess is taken from the English expression].

2. The pasuk "mi lo yiraacha melech hagoyim ..." is taken by most
medieval commentators to imply that any sensible person [as opposed to
"amar naval b'libo ..."] accepts God's existence. IOW, until recently
even atheists accepted that God exists.

3. The revelation at Sinai, the various miracles recorded in tradition,
imply that God isn't really hiding. What makes these less obvious
than segulos?

4. I've been arguing all along [as has RAM] that the existence of physical
law [even at what you call the Sammy Sosa level] is also no less obvious
a hint than segulos.

Your argument against segulos seems to be based on your unusual level
of surprise if they worked, which implies to me that you don't really
believe that they work [neither do I], which in turn implies that you
are using false premises to reach your conclusion. If segulos worked
reliably you would not be surprised by them, and they would not break
the rules of the game of hide-and-seek.

The model of hide-and-seek implies a binary choice; a more realistic
model would offer a continous spectrum of awareness of God. Of course
that would make it much harder to argue that segulos violate the proper

David Riceman

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Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 03:39:09 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Segulos

Thanks to RDC's summary of what he thinks is my position, I see why this
argument is so difficult: I have not managed to explain my perspective

I'm not arguing that segulos prove the existance of G-d. Rather they
argue for the existance of a soul. Arthur C Clark aside, the major
difference between physics and segulos is that one operate in olam
ha'asiyah, while the other involves higher olamos as well. (Kant would
consider the former a proper topic for pure reason. I do not know about
segulos.) So witnessing segulos shows that we live in multiple layers
of existance. Arguing in favor of us having a soul, and are not merely
clever mammals.

This shifts the whole balance between the yeitzer and the seichel, between
the nefesh beheimis and the neshamah E-lokis, between the yeitzer hatov
and the YhR.

So, even without showing there's a G-d, it interferes with bechirah.

Second, the presence of causality on either the physical or non-physical
realms ought to argue for the existance of G-d. But people aren't that
rational. In fact, hester panim is usually (always?) seen in cases where
HQBH of lets natural law run its course. Physical causality helps people
ignore G-d. It shouldn't, but it does.

Last, physical law can be experienced. Much of it is induced from daily
experience. Babies learn that one shouldn't to crawl over the edge of
a bed at quite a young age. Or that throwing food over the edge of the
tray makes it fall. Fire burns. Etc... Common repeatable events.

To return to my earlier phrasing: The physics of a Hawkings is the
study of the mechanism. The mechanism is there so that we can do the
day-to-day. Friction allows us to walk without sliding, etc...

Segulah has a parallel to higher physics, but there are no set of
rules of segulah that can be derived natively without conscious


Micha Berger                 A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org            It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org       and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 11:02:51 -0500
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Re: Segulos

Micha Berger wrote:
> Thanks to RDC's summary

I guess that refers to me (though the R and D are in the wrong order
and I don't know where the C comes from).

[I intended to type RDR, but my index finger went up to the top row
rather than down. -mi]

> I'm not arguing that segulos prove the existance of G-d. Rather they
> argue for the existance of a soul.

I still don't understand this. Let's take a concrete example, of three

1. When my son has strep (luckily not often) his doctor tells us "he
will be infectious for n days" (n a positive integer), which I take to
mean that, for those n days, if someone breathes the same air he breathes
that someone has an appreciable chance of getting sick.

2. When I was young my mother used to tell me that if I went out in the
rain without a raincoat I would get sick.

3. The Holy Babylonian Talmud (I think it's Chullin 105b but I haven't
looked it up) says that if I spill foam from date beer onto the dirt
floor I will become impoverished.

I have no idea how 3 indicates the existence of a soul and 1 doesn't.
I don't know how to classify 2.

>  the major
> difference between physics and segulos is that one operate in olam
> ha'asiyah, while the other involves higher olamos as well.

Again I'm lost here. I think I know the technical meanings of these terms,
and I think you're alluding to that Ramban I pointed out. I suspect,
however, that you are treating segulos and physics (wouldn't biology
be a better analogy?) assymetrically: you are discussing the outcome
of physics but the mechanism of segulos. Is the law of gravity in Olam
HaAsiya, or only the falling cannonball?

> Second, the presence of causality on either the physical or non-physical
> realms ought to argue for the existance of G-d. But people aren't that
> rational. In fact, hester panim is usually (always?) seen in cases where
> HQBH of lets natural law run its course.

See the Rambam's comment on "Vayichar af hashem bam vayelach" (in the
chapter of the Guide discssing lalechet).

> Last, physical law can be experienced.

Try spilling foam from date beer on the dirt floor of your house.
You can experience that, too.

> Segulah has a parallel to higher physics, but there are no set of
> rules of segulah that can be derived natively without conscious
> study.

So you would argue that God shouldn't let transistors work, but that he
should permit baseball bats to work? Curiouser and curiouser.

David Riceman

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