Avodah Mailing List

Volume 09 : Number 060

Monday, July 8 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 13:31:52 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: Fried chicken on the seder night(s)

R' Aryeh Stein wrote <<< Basically, we pasken tigun k'bishul. If so, then
we should be allowed to eat fried chicken on the seder night(s), since
only roasted chicken is not eaten. ... R' Pam was hesitant to allow it,
since the minhag of k'lal yisroel for years has been to only eat boiled
chicken [or baked chicken cooked with an abundance of water in the pan]
... >>>

Frying chicken (unless we're talking about schnitzel/cutlets, and maybe
even then) requires a considerable amount of oil, because of its non-flat
surface. This makes it very different than frying pancakes or french
toast, which can be done with minimal oil -- or, in the case of some
newer pans, no oil at all.

If so, I can't see any difference between frying chicken and <<< baked
chicken cooked with an abundance of water in the pan >>>, and if Rav Pam
was hesitant to allow it, we should consider the possiblity that he does
not agree that <<< we pasken tigun k'bishul. >>>

The Mishna Brura 168:56 discusses whether tigun k'bishul or not, in the
context of when foods such as french toast or matzah brie become mezonos
or remain hamotzi. He is clearly undecided on the issue. See the other
acharonim on that spot as well.

When I learned this section in yeshiva, I was taught that in any case,
when the Acharonim mentioned "tigun", they definition of the word presumed
an abundance of oil, enough to give significant flavor and greasiness
to the food, and would not apply to most of our cases, where we use only
enough oil to prevent burning.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 12:20:24 +0300 (IDT)
From: Daniel M Wells <wells@mail.biu.ac.il>
Sefiros HaOmer & Kabbalos Shabbas

What has not been really discussed, unless I missed it, is that anything
nogeah mamesh to the day itself, sefiros Haomer or Veset, is allowed as
long as it does not conflict with Kedushas Shabbos. For that reason a
person who forgot to daven Mincha and remembered after Kabbolos Shabbos
before Shkia, has to daven Maariv twice.

Since we are discussing the Inyan of Tosefos Shabbos, a more difficult
problem arises:

A boy who becomes Bar Mitzvah on Yud Aleph Tishri, Motzei Yom Kippur,
is mitzva bound from the beginning of the evening Yud Aleph. Tosefos YK
includes a short period Motzei YK during that evening of Yud Aleph Tishri.

Can this boy eat during that short period - midorita, since during YK
his only hiuv is mitzvas chinuch which does not apply anymore.

This has some similarity to the problem of a boy who washes for bread and
eats a kezais before he is Bar Mitzvah and then wants to bentch after he
is Bar Mitzvah without eating more, since then it is as if he actually
did nothing before the onset of the Bar Mitzvah evening.

This is going on the hypothesis that the hiuv is from the zman achila
and not zman ikul.


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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 05:08:48 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
torah he

The gemora(brachot 62a) recounts 2 examples (bathroom and bedroom) of
studens "invading" their Rebbe's privacy to learn proper behaviors. Is
there a specific issur against invading another's privacy? The gemora's
initial concern is azut panim which seems to be trumped by torah he .

Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 10:02:53 +0300
From: "Danny Schoemann" <dannys@atomica.com>
Bar vs. Bat Mitzva

Last night I heard a great explanation as to why we make such a big deal
about a Bar mitzva as opposed to a Bat Mitzva.

Yiddisher Kinder (kids with a nice Jewish educations) are basically
fully-fledged mitzva keepers, usually well before bar/bat mitzva; shabbes,
kashrus, davening, brochos, etc. What changes at 13?

At 13, a boy accepts / receives the added responsibility of the time-bound
mitzvos. It's this yoke that we celebrate; thrice daily tefilos, tefillin,
lulav, shofar, etc. even when he's too tired / hungry / not feeling so
well, etc.

This added yoke is not given to a bat mitzva girl.

(So said my cousin Yissoschor Nosson Gardner at his nephews celebration
last night.)

- Danny

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Date: Sun, 07 Jul 2002 16:48:57 +0000
From: Seth Mandel <sethm37@hotmail.com>
Re: eiruvim

I have no real desire to get into the eiruvim discussion. I do wish to
set the record straight on some things.

Before the 18th century, virtually all Jews in Ashk'naz, whether in big
or small towns, lived on the Judengasse, and the "Jewish quarter" was
usually not more than one or two streets. These streets were closed off
by gates, both because the city did not want the cursed Jews infecting
the fine Christian burghers, and from the Jewish POV, for protection
from said fine Christian burghers, who would go looking for some Jews
to beat up/rob/kill, especially after drinking. There was no protection
in the court system, since Jews were not members of the state, and lived
there at the dispension of the local noble.

Thus even if the streets were 16 amos wide or even if there were 600,000
Jews, it was muttar to carry -- d'losos n'ulos balaylo, as stated in SA
siman 364 #2.

When the Jews were allowed to move outside the quarter/street, in
different communities at different times during the 17 century, the
question about eiruvim arose, and was the subject of a long exchange of
t'shuvos, with some assering and some mattering.

In all Chasidic communities, eiruvim were erected, part of a tradition
attributed to the BeSh'T. In non-chasidic communities, most large towns
had an eiruv erected, but there were many who (following the Mishk'nos
Ya'aqov view) did not carry.

About R. HS remarks as quoted:

First of all, as R. Josh and R. EM Teitz have pointed out, it is not
just the Rambam. That very MB that we have been discussing regarding
"the MB as psaq" discussion goes through a count of the rishonim who
held that 600,000 is not relevant, and comes up with a count that they
are in the majority and shittas Rashi and Tosfos is the minority (and,
as is well-known, there are places where Rashi seems to support the
other view). Personally, I am not a fan of "counts of the rishonim,"
for many substantive reasons. But no one can dismiss this as just a
shitta of the Rambam based on a Yerushalmi. A careful reading of RMF's
t'shuvos show just how hard it is to reconcile the view of the Rashi
and Tosfos with the g'moro Bavli.

Not only does RHS disagree with RMF's reasoning in this regard, it
is another proof how far he is from representing in his own Torah the
views of his rebbe, RYBS. I have said before and will say again: I have
great respect for RHS as a talmid chochom in his own right. However,
he is extremely far from RYBS's views on methodology in learning and in
psaq, and his psaqim in most instances are at almost the other end of
the spectrum from RYBS. As is well-known, Brisk (not just RYBS, but all
those who followed R. Chayyim Brisker) view the Rambam's position in this
matter as not just a chumra, as the MB would imply, but me'iqqar haddin.

I had a long discussion once with RYBS about putting up an eiruv in
Boston/Brookline. He did not wish to impose his views on the community,
but could not in good conscience approve an eiruv himself. If the other
rabbonim had put one up, he would not have objected, if it were done
properly (which requires a lot of halakhic consideration, more than
you can get from a pamphlet on Eiruvin, and who would come to Boston to
give such guidance with RYBS there?). Furthermore, he mentioned to me
a whole range of practical, non-trivial considerations that would have
to be addressed by the community were an eiruv to be put up (including
the that R. Teitz mentioned, and the possible ways of handling them,
as Elizabeth does). But the other rabbonim during his life were not
willing to go ahead without his approval, and even after his passing,
it was done without the agreement of R. Yitzhoq Twerski zt'l.

Anyone who wants a glimpse of how seriously RYBS viewed the issue can go
talk with R Moshe Meiselman, who I know had the same sorts of discussions
with him that I did, and a lot more of them. For RHS to "adamantly reject"
this view shows how far he is from carrying on his rebbe's tradition,
just as his wearing t'kheles does.

Seth Mandel

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Date: Mon, 08 Jul 2002 15:21:02 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>

[On Areivim we were discussing whether any of halachah is racist. -mi]

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
>On Mon, Jul 08, 2002 at 08:05:06AM -0400, Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. 
>Bechhofer wrote:
>: There certainly is no AYH (remember that acronym? why have we not used it
>: here lately?) component to bigotry and racism - it is antithetical to the
>: refinement that is the goal of mitzvos...

>Although you still have to convince me that Amaleiq, Mitzrayim, the 7
>Amim, Amon and Mo'av aren't exceptions. There are halachos that require
>our treating members of those peoples in ways that are inferior to other
>aku"m. Somehow arguments against this claim end up side-tracked into
>ones against their being genocidal.

>And in benching on weekdays I have this habit of cursing Edom...

>But racism against anyone else, for that matter, in anyt lema'aseh setting
>(post Sancheirev) yes.

IF a Mo'avi or Ammoni is misgayer, the mitzva of "V'ohavttem es ha'ger"
is in full ettect.

There issur b'kohol is identical to that of a mamzer.

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

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Date: Mon, 08 Jul 2002 15:16:08 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
CH in front of non-Jews

[Along with that thread is this one as to whether racism is a chilul
Hashem (CH). -mi]

From: "Seth Mandel" <sethm37@hotmail.com>
>R. Akiva Atwood wrote: <But CH, AIUI, is only concerned about how OTHER JEWS
>perceive those actions: A Jew who commits act X in front of 10 Jews is
>guilty of CH -- if the same Jew does the same act in a room where he is the
>only Jew he is NOT guilty of CH *halachically*.>

>We discussed this about a year ago.  At that time I quoted the Rambam who
>says unequivocally in a t'shuva that CH applies in front of non-Jews as
>well, halachically

Quick List of sources that CH applies in front of non-Jews:
    Rasbam on Chumash Devarim 9:25 and 32:33.
    Tosefta BK 10:15
    Bavli BK 113b and AZ 28a
    Yerushalmi BK 4:3

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

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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 20:58:21 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: RYBS and Aggadata

On Wed, Jul 03, 2002 at 04:10:37PM -0400, DFinchPC@aol.com wrote:
: I imagine that RYBS wasn't much interested in exploring "aggadic points"
: as a means of reconciling questions of halachic ontology. If there are
: two images that one cannot simultaneously hold in one's mind without
: smiling, it's RYBS's existential Briskerism and the notion of independent
: aggadic truth.

Interesting choice of terms, as the notion of holding conflicting ideas in
the mind at one is the center of RYBS's philosophy: the Kantian antinomy,
or as RYBS calls it "the unresolvable dialectic".

Existential Briskerism is a case in point. Brisk isn't about "why" beyond
"what halachic rule causes [and can be therefore be deduced from] this
pesaq". Halachic Man, being a study and justification of the Brisker
value is inherently non-Brisk. It's "about it", not "it".

And yes, studies into the meaning or values to be derived from a halachah
are generally considered aggadic.


Micha Berger                 For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org            And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 21:11:55 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Steinberger's Shiur on Rebbe Writing the Mishnah (or not)

Part III and conclusion of his discussion of one of our perenniel subjects.


HaRav Steinberger's Shiur #5762-12

"Did Rebbi Actually Write Down the Mishna?"
(Part III -- Last and Final Summary)

Since the question we pose (in part I, lesson 41 -- whether Rebbi wrote
or just formulated the Mishna) is a very weighty one, we should sum up
the evidence for each possibility, according to the Rambam and beyond.
We will list first the proofs which seem to suggest that Rebbi wrote
the Mishna, then the ones to the contrary and finally determine the
more dominant possibility. [The arguments mentioned in previous shiurim
are not going to be fully repeated but just mentioned briefly with a
reference to the relevant previous shiur.]

A) The sources and the proofs that Rebbi wrote the Mishna:

    a) The Rambam, here, mentions "Sefer HaMishna", which obviously
    means simply a written text -- a book (see also the beginning of
    shiur 41), this proof also appears in R' Yaakov Chagiz's "Hakdama
    leDarkei HaMishna". See also the Rambam's introduction to the Mishna
    (Mossad HaRav Kook, end of p. 30) where the verb "Katav", wrote is
    used. (Compare also to Hilchot Akum end of Chapter 1). There is
    another proof from a later passage of our introduction regarding
    the Rambam's opinion. He says that even before Rebbi there were
    "chibburim" of Tannaim, like: Mechilta, etc. If "chibur" means
    writing, then Rebbi is not the first one to write down the Oral
    Law. If so, why then the Rambam questions Rebbi's innovation? But,
    if it means by his predecessors that they just compiled certain works
    and Rebbi actually wrote them, then the Rambam is correctly asking
    for a reason to do such an unprecedented thing in history. According
    to this, "chiber" can mean both compiling and writing. But Rebbi
    was the first to write a "book".

    b) Rav Saadia Gaon in "Sefer HaGaluy".

    c) Also, Rav Sherirah Gaon, according to the Spanish version in his
    "Iggereth" holds so (But see the Rabinowitz edition of "Iggereth
    Rav Sherirah Gaon" Wagshal -- Jerusalem 5751 p. 3 footnote 13,
    p. 29 footnote 20, and p. 95. Rav Rabinowitz proves, that even the
    French version of the Iggereth holds that Rebbi wrote the Mishna,
    from the fact that this is also the opinion of Rav Nissim Gaon --
    the son of R' Yaakov -- to whom the Iggereth was addressed. See
    also the additional numerous sources and scholarly proofs that Rav
    Rabinowitz quotes there).

    d) Rav Shmuel HaNaggid opens his "Mavo-HaTalmud" (printed in the end
    of Brachot, Vilna ed.) stating: "(Rebbi -- YAS) wrote it down in order
    to make it last, lest it might be forgotten by the readers and become
    lost". There is, however, a problem here: if it had not been written
    down before Rebbi, how can R' Shmuel refer to "readers". And if it
    had been written, then why would it be forgotten? In other words,
    what exactly did Rebbi add to the previous situation according to
    "Mavo HaTalmud"? Possibly the earlier versions of the Mishna that
    existed since Sinai and especially since R' Akiva and R' Meir --
    see Sanhedrin 86a -- had already been recorded in writing but in an
    unorganized manner. Only from Rebbi on, could the written version be
    used and memorized, since he was the one to introduce clear order and
    system into the Oral Law. Another possibility is that Rebbi was the
    one, using his vast resources of students, money, and political power
    to spread the texts, which until then were not easily available. The
    simpler meaning of the text of "Mavo HaTalmud" seems to correspond to
    the first explanation. [According to R' Shmuel HaNaggid we actually
    might have a third approach to Rebbi's innovation: so far we have
    mentioned either the possibility that even Rebbi had not written the
    Mishna (it happened much later) or the one that he was the writer. Now
    we say that it had been written before, but only Rebbi managed to make
    it last efficiently -- through reorganization of the written text.]

    e) Tosafot in Baba Batra 2a "HaShutafin", according to the Maharam

	 f) R' Reuven Margaliyot (in "Yessod HaMishna VeArichata" chapter
	 12) proves (from Ketubot 94a) that Rebbi wrote, based on his
	 statement: "I have labored with my ten fingers in Torah".
	 Fingers -- means writing. This proof can easily be refuted if
	 we remember the Rambam's previous remark that all along the
	 scholars and the learners were permitted and did write the Oral
	 Law for their personal records ("Megillat Setarim"). Thus Rebbi
	 could mean just that. Nowhere does it say that he published
	 and circulated those writings.

    g) There are other Rishonim who hold that Rebbi actually wrote it:
    HaMeiri in his introduction to Avot (see his "Seder HaKabbalah"
    -- Ofek, Jerusalem -- Cleveland 5752, p. 79 "Chiber Sefer", like
    the Rambam in a). See also there p. 101 the quote from Chullin 85a
    "vekatavam". In our Shas the version is "Veshnaam"), Tosafot Rid in
    Gittin 60a. [It is interesting to note that these scholars do not
    belong to the Sephardi school like the Rambam. It seems that from
    Rav Saadia Gaon and on, the Sephardi scholars consistently held
    the opinion that Rebbi actually wrote the Mishna and (as we shall
    see), the Ashkenazim held that he just formulated and edited it,
    but the actual writing took place later. Thus the Rambam continues
    the tradition, that had already been established by Rav Saadia
    Gaon, Rav Nissim Gaon, Rav Shmuel HaNaggid, etc. [Even in Iggeret
    Rav Sherirah Gaon, the Sephardi version is the one that holds a
    similar opinion. The French version is like the Ashkenazi opinion.
    But see Rabinowitz, who shows that there is no difference between the
    versions, mentioned above in c).) HaMeiri lived in Provence Southern
    France and the Rid (R' Yeshaya Tirani) lived in Italy. Despite their
    contact with and exposure to the Ashkenazi traditions, here they
    joined the Sephardi one.]

    h) An interesting opinion is mentioned in Kulitz' book ("Rabenu
    HaKadosh", Reuven Mass Jerusalem 1989 p. 203 in the name of R'
    M. Glasner): Rebbi wanted the Oral Law to achieve the status of
    the Written Law. He explains there through this principle the
    canonized status of the Mishna and the reason for the lack of
    permission/ability to dispute the rulings of the Mishna by later
    generations. (As we shall prove in the future, B'Ezrat Hashem,
    the Rambam solves this problem in a different way). In my opinion
    this appears already in R' David Tzvi Hoffman's book on the Mishna
    (in German) where he demonstrates that some of the 13 Middot of R'
    Yishmael, used to interpret Biblical texts, were also applied to
    the Mishna. Furthermore, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer (a noted current
    scholar) holds that some kind of grammar and musical systems were
    used when reading the Mishna, somewhat similar to "Taamei Hamikra" --
    the notes of the Scripture. All these facts and opinions demonstrate
    the same idea, that Rebbi elevated to a certain extent, the Oral to
    the status of the Written. This fits in beautifully with the sugya
    (in Gittin 60a-b) where the writing of the Oral Law seems to be
    presented as an alternative replacement for the loss of the Written
    Law, by the Greek translation of it (see Tosafot there "Itmuhi"). All
    these ideas substantiate naturally the point that Rebbi actually
    wrote down the Oral Law.

    i) Rav Chaim Zimmerman (in his "Binyan Halacha" chapter 1 and
    "Agra LeYesharim" chapter 41 -- based on the Ramma Responsum 34
    and the Rambam's responsa) holds that Rebbi wrote down the Mishna
    in an Ivri script. Thus he did not violate the prohibition against
    writing the Oral Law, since it did not diminish the distinction
    between the Oral and the Written: the Written is in the "Ashuri" --
    Assyrian script and Rebbi wrote down the Mishna in Ivri script. The
    whole prohibition is designated to keep the two parts of the Torah
    distinct. Rebbi continued to preserve this difference even after
    his writing. This explains very well the fact that nowhere does
    the Rambam attribute to Rebbi any tampering with a prohibition
    (see shiur 41), he only deals with the changes that Rebbi created
    (see a similar approach also in Radal's "Kadmut HaZohar").

    Rav Zimmerman also solves brilliantly the most acute problem in our
    whole subject: if Rebbi indeed wrote down the Mishna, how can it be
    that in Gittin (60a) this is not mentioned. The answer is that Rebbi
    personally had no problem in writing down the Mishna in a script
    which is not the one that fits the Written Law. He holds that only
    the Ashuri script is Kosher for the Written Law (see the Rambam's
    Perush HaMishna, Yadayim 4:5). But R' Yochanan and Resh Lakish (in
    Gittin there) hold the opinion that the Written Law was written
    in both the Ashuri and the Ivri script. Therefore they could not
    use any writing without violating the prohibition (of writing the
    Oral Law with a script used for the Written Law. Rav Zimmerman deals
    there also with another problem: why didn't they use a new script --
    neither Ashuri nor Ivri, in order to avoid a similarity between the
    Written Oral Law and the Scripture).

B) The sources and the proofs that Rebbi only formulated the Mishna
 without actually writing it down.

    a) The Rambam constantly uses the verb "chiber" instead of
    "katav". This seems to imply that Rebbi just compiled but never
    wrote. If there was writing, it was only for personal use, or done
    by the students. Even the word "sefer" (see A)a)) is missing in some
    manuscripts of the Rambam.

    b) Rebbi himself (in Baba Metzia 33b) says that one should run
    to learn the Mishna, lest it be forgotten. If it had been written
    already in his times, that would prevent forgetting (see Rashi there).

    c) Had Rebbi written it, the Talmud (in Gittin, ibid. and elsewhere)
    should have mentioned it.

    d) R' Yehoshua ben Levi, a close student of Rebbi, is the one who
    vehemently opposes the writing down of the Aggadata. Obviously he
    did not see any problem with Rebbi's conduct either.

    e) In Shabbat (115a): Targum -- translation, of Iyov is not holy
    enough to warrant its saving on Shabbat, since its writing is
    illegal. Targum is Oral Law and should be kept oral, according to R'
    Yossi there. The author of this very ruling there is Rebbi! This
    proves that the Oral Law had not been written yet in his times.

    f) There are many cases where that the exact version of the Mishna is
    in dispute by the Amoraim. Had it been written, they could solve the
    dispute by checking the text. ("Hakdama BeDarkei HaMishna" from the
    author of "Etz Chaim" quoted by R"I Chagiz in his "Hakdama" to the
    Mishna. See also "Itur Sofrim" of Rav Kook in "Avnei Nezer", there).

    g) A written book always has cross and back references to other
    previous/parallel or different passages. Since we almost never find
    such references, obviously the Mishna had not been a written book
    when it was authored by Rebbi ("Etz Chaim", ibid.).

    h) Everybody agrees that Megillath Taanith had been a written
    text, way before the Mishna. The fact that it is named "Megillah"
    -- a scroll, also suggests that had the Mishna been written, it
    would have been called "Megillah" also. (See "Maharatz Chayoth" in
    "Torat HaNeviim" 7b and also Rav Kook quoted in lesson 42. See also
    Margaliyoth mentioned in A)f) and the source i) quoting from Rashi).

    i) Rabenu Chananel (in Rabenu Bachaye, Vayera 18:19)

    j) R' Isaac Stein (a contemporary of R' Yoseph Karo, in his
    introduction to his commentary to the Sma"g -- Sefer Mitzvot Gadol,
    quoted from a yet unpublished manuscript in "Mevooth LaMishna"
    by Prof. Shmuel Kalman Mirsky) states clearly that neither Rebbi,
    regarding the Mishna; nor Rav Ashi, regarding the Talmud, wrote, but
    only compiled and arranged their works. This source also answers
    another problem: Our Rambam explains Rebbi's rush to complete
    his project due to Rebbi's visionary sight of coming atrocities
    and hardships for Klal Yisrael. Historically, there were quite
    a few generations till these fears materialized. R' Isaac Stein,
    quoting the Sma"g (who repeats the Rambam's historical insights)
    sheds light on this problem. He seems to say that Rebbi prepared the
    infrastructure, but the actual "sefer" -- writing took place much
    later, when the anticipated troubles became facts. Thus the word
    "Sefer" could describe a real book, except that it became a reality,
    much later. The preparations that enabled that reality despite
    the hard times had been made by Rebbi way before, when things were
    still quiet. Rebbi thought that it is urgent just to put everything
    in order, but the actual writing could and had to wait till the
    atrocities were such that without the actual writing the Oral Law,
    it would be lost.

    k) Rabenu Tam (in Tosafot Baba Kama 94b "Biyemei Rebbi") uses the verb
    "sider" and not "katav" (compare to A)e), there the verb is "shanah").

C) All said and all told it is difficult to reach a decisive conclusion
but the second group seems to have the upper hand. The biggest simple
proof is the fact (mentioned in A)i)) that the Gemara never refers to
Rebbi as the writer of the Oral Law, but mentions R' Yochanan and others
(in Gittin there). The first group could answer that: a) Rebbi could
easily do what R' Yochanan could not -- Rebbi was the president of the
Sanhedrin, who had much higher authority than R' Yochanan, who was not.
Therefore in Gittin, the question of uprooting the prohibition of writing
the Oral Law, or saying orally the Written one, is most poignant when
just R' Yochanan is involved. It was taken for granted that Rebbi could
uproot this prohibition. b) Furthermore, when Aggadah is involved,
the prohibition should not be ignored so fast as the case is with the
Halacha -- the Mishna, since the danger of forgetting Halacha is much
more likely (it has many more intricate details, etc.) and bears much
graver consequences. c) Group 1 has a proof from the fact that if Rebbi
did not write it, how can the Gemara and other sources ignore the event
of the writing and omit the identity of the actual later day writers.

And still, these questions cannot really counter the position of the
group 2. Probably the only way to reconcile this dispute is using Rav
Zimmerman's theories (see A)i)).

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(C) 5762/2002 by Rav Steinberger and American Friends of Yeshivat Hakotel

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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 21:14:45 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Insight 5762-39: Fluidity [and making shevu'os]

An interesting take on the problem with shevu'os.


Rabbi Benjamin Hecht

Kohelet 5:4 declares: "Better is one who does not make a vow than one who
makes a vow and does not fulfill it." This verse actually only expresses
part of the Torah attitude towards vows. While, in T.B. Nedarim 9a,1
Rabbi Yehuda states that it is still best for one to make a vow and
fulfill it, Rabbi Meir disagrees. He contends that not making a vow is
not only better than making a vow and not fulfilling it; it is better
than making a vow and fulfilling it.2 It is, in fact, this view of Rabbi
Meir that has become the dominant position within Halacha:3 it is simply
best never to make a vow.

Rashi, Chulin 2a, d.h. Tov asher and d.h. She'eino noder describes
Rabbi Meir's concern to be the potential for failure. By making a vow,
one opens the possibility for sin through not fulfilling the vow.4 The
implication is that, while fulfilling the vow has merit, it is best
not to create a potential for nonfulfillment and sin. The intensity of
the negative attitude towards vows, expressed elsewhere in the Talmud,
however, suggests a greater problem with vows. Shmuel, in T.B. Nedarim
22a, states that one who makes a vow, even though it is fulfilled,
is a rasha, an evil doer. In T.B. Nedarim 77b, Rav Dimi describes such
a person as a choteh, a sinner.5 Rav Natan, also in T.B. Nedarim 22a,
further states that one who makes a vow is compared to one who builds a
bamah, a personal altar6 -- and one who fulfills a vow is comparable to
one who sacrifices on such an personal altar. The concern seems to be
much more than the possibility for non-fulfillment. It would seem that
there is something intrinsically problematic with vows.

Ran, Nedarim 22a offers two possibilities. One is that, in making a
vow, one portrays oneself as a chassid, as extremely righteous, and we
should refrain from promoting such declarations about ourselves. The
concern is an extension of haughtiness. His other argument, based on
T.B. Nedarim 10a,7 is that a vow places further restrictions on the
person and this is not praiseworthy. The concern is asceticism which,
according to this view, is looked upon unfavourably. Taz, Yoreh De'ah
203:1 presents a different argument. The problem is that the individual
did not attempt to have the vow annulled.8 According to this view, it
is better to have a vow annulled than even to fulfill it. An individual
is therefore criticized in fulfilling the vow, thus not annulling it.

One would think that the procedure for annulling vows represents a
safeguard to protect one in the case he/she has a problem in fulfilling a
vow. Taz's presentation would seem to imply that annulling vows is a much
more significant duty and, in fact, has prima facie importance. Arranging
for the annulment of one's vows would seem to be a positive act. Therein
may actually be found the essential principle of this entire set of
laws. In arranging an annulment, one must demonstrate before a beit din
or before a scholarly expert that one has remorse for making the vow. The
one who took the vow must declare that if he/she knew what he/she knows
today, he/she would have never made the vow. Recognizing the weakness
of a vow is a positive act.9

Someone once mentioned to me that Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg asserted that
one should always postpone a decision to last possible minute -- for
why should the tzaddik, righteous person, you are today be bound by the
decisions of the am ha'aretz, the ignoramus, you were yesterday. A vow
is a decision; furthermore, it is a restrictive decision. Although it
may be motivated by positive intent, it still reflects the decision of
the moment. Growth, by definition, always challenges the moment. Growth
declares that tomorrow may demand a difference. A vow restricts the
potential for this difference. It concretizes the moment and extends
it into the future. Growth demands fluidity, that the moment not be
concretized. It is therefore best not to make a vow. Alternatively,
if one has made a vow, it is best to seek an annulment and reinstate
the fluidity.

There are cases where vows are permitted and even encouraged. There are
cases where vows serve an important purpose.10 But nonetheless we must
always be careful of vows. If one wishes to adopt a certain behaviour,
let him/her do so; but without a vow. Whatever one's decision today, one
should be open for the potential for change tomorrow. That is growth and
that is why, through a vow, we should not concretize today into tomorrow.


1) See also T.B. Chullin 2a. The issues are actually much more complex
than can be presented in the Insight and the positions of Rabbi Yehuda
and Rabbi Meir are analyzed in much greater detail -- and in regard to
specific situations -- in the Talmudic discussions.
2) See, interestingly, Tosfot, Chulin 2a, d.h. Tov, which describes the
Kohelet 5:4 as the source for Rabbi Meir's position as well.
3) See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, 203:4.
4) See Bamidbar 30:3.
5) Both declarations are brought down in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De ah
203:1 at the very beginning of the discussion on vows.
6) Personal altars are forbidden. See Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvot 439, 440.
7) This statement is made originally in connection to nazir but has
connection to all vows. See also T.J. Nedarim 9:1.
8) See also the specific language of Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 203:3.
9) Inherent within this concept is the idea that this request reflects
a positive growth either through greater understanding of oneself, the
world and/or Torah. Of course, not every new realization may reflect
growth. This may be the reason that the request for annulment has to
be before another. This ensures that there is an evaluation of the
new perception.
10) It is beyond the scope of this Insight to discuss these situations
and the beneficial nature of such vows. For one interested in pursuing
this study, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, c. 203 will provide a good
starting point.

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, Director

fax: 416-630-7702

IN CANADA: 322 Wilson Ave.  Toronto, Ontario M3H 1S8
IN THE U.S.A.: 1740 Ocean Ave.  Suite 8-P Brooklyn, New York

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Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 21:36:14 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Amazing Piaczsesner, Visualizations, Continued

On Fri, Jul 05, 2002 at 09:05:49AM -0400, RYGB quoted a correspondent
who wrote:
: My understanding:  HKBH's world is the real one - and His hand is real; our
: world, and therefore our "hands", are NOT real, they're just the
: representation/facsimile of reality made available to us. Lesaber es haozen
: is true of our entire sense of this world being the real one...

The subject of LEH is a siginificant one. If we're supposed to so totally
divorce ourselves from machshavos of a Divine Guf, why the pesuqim? Why
do chazal continue this in tefillah when we say things like "HaMelech
*yosheiv* al kisei ram venisei"?

It's impossible to say these words bekavanah without thinking the
anthropomorphic peirush hamilim of a King sitting in a throne. Even if
we are to be intellectually aware that it's all metaphor, we're being
asked to pass through that metaphor over and over again; presumably for
its emotional content.

As for this correspondent's basic position, I would like to revive a
chiddush I suggested a while back. But now I can say half of it in the
name of someone weightier than myself. It's quoted in the name of the
Akeidah by the Maharetz Chayos on Yevamos 49b.

What does Yirmiyahu mean when he cries out during maaseh hamerkavah "Oy li
ki nidmeisi! For I am a man who is tamei sefasayim; I live in the midst
of a nation that is tamei sefasayim; ki (For/Because/That?) the King,
Hashem Tzevakos I have seen!" (Yesh 6:5)?

The rishonim argue over peshat in "nidmeisi", whether the shoresh is
/dmm/ (demamah, see Rashi on Yesh') or not. But either way, that the
navi feared for his lige.

The Akeidah takes the word to be "dimyon". Oy li for I am merely
imagining that I am getting nevu'ah. How can a tamei sefasayim actually
see the Melech?

I wanted to suggest a different take on that shoresh. Oy li for I am
merely the dimyon, made "kidemuseinu". I am simply a tamei sefasayim
living amongst others of the kind, but the Melech and this merkavah,
are more real than I in my little "world"!


Micha Berger                 For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org            And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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