Avodah Mailing List

Volume 10 : Number 006

Friday, September 13 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:09:27 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Lo bashamayim

On Mon, Sep 09, 2002 at 04:05:53PM -0400, Zeliglaw@aol.com wrote:
: IIRC, there are instances where we say Divrei Kabbala ( i.e Navi )
: KDivrei Torah Dami. Could this be one of those instances?

But only "dami". Doesn't make them actual de'Oraisos. Otherwise there
would be no difference between divrei Soferim and de'Oraisos either.

IOW, "lo bashamayim hi -- aval yeish bashamayim kamosah".


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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 10:46:32 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Just in time for YK! B'Ikvos ha'Yirah is available in PDF!

Courtesy of R' Bennett Ruda, my all-time favorite essay (no critical 
comments, please!) by my "hero" - RAEK, now in PDF, IY"H soon to be 
web-posted. Please let me or Micha know if you want it. It's a large 
attachment (includes photo of RAEK) but incredibly worth it.

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

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 15:01:46 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: misas tzadikim are m'chaper (beyond melitz yosher)

On Tue, Sep 10, 2002 at 07:36:08PM +0000, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: R' Sender Baruch wrote <<< I have always understood this to mean that
: the loss of the tzaddik is a punishment.>>>

: This sounds more reasonable, in that the loss of the tzadik hurts
: me, and thereby removes some of what orther punishments I might have
: deserved. This can work with others who are not tzadikim, too. The loss
: of an animal which I (or someone else) did semicha on, and therefore I
: identify with, pains me and can be mechaper. Same too with relatives,
: friends, acquaintences, -- even strangers, if I identify with them in
: some way.

I too would shy away from approaches that make zechuyos (and ch"v their
antonym) fungible. Taking away from one to give to another who didn't
earn it isn't din; and since there is suffering either way, how is it

But it also means that this baby's misah can be mechaperes because it
serves as a shock and wake-up call to the community. The fact that
it pained so many of us, and sparked so much discussion of Yad Hashem
and tzaddiq vera lo, underscores this.


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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:15:47 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Sundry Tefillah Items

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 01:06:23PM -0400, Feldman, Mark wrote:
:> Check Vayevarech David! That is where the sefiros are explicit in Tanach. 
:> It is not a new system! It is as old as the seven days of Creation.

: The fact that vayevarech david mentions these words does not mean that
: they were used in a sephirotic way.

To repeat part of RAF's original post where the question was raised:
> Then again, may be I am wrong. Do you know of other instances where
> ancient tefillot may allude to the Sephirotic cosmogony? (reading into
> a tefillah such references, even though they are not mu'hrakh, is ok,
> as I am not trying to prove or disprove the antiquity of kabbalah of the
> Zohar, but rather the applicability of such peirush - whether ir not it
> is prevalent.

So, the applicability of the peirush has been shown.

As to whether it David haMelekh's kavanah or not... It was written
beru'ach haqodesh. He Who inspired the text knew the sephiros model
of creation at the time it was written.

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 10:27:55AM +0300, Carl and Adina Sherer wrote:
: In one of his sichot Rav Pincus zt"l understands Malchuyos as being
: what brings us rachamim ba'din. He says that when a King makes the rules
: but then leaves their enforcement to judges, the judges have no choice
: but to apply the law as written. But when the King Himself is judging,
: He can be m'vater on our violations of His law and show mercy to us.

In the Aspaqlaria I quoted last week I argue that this is the one
single underlying theme of Rosh haShanah.

It explains why it's the first day of yemei hadin,
why that day is the anniversary of Adam's creation -- ein melech (nor
Melech) belo am,
malchus then explains the role of teru'ah,
while din explains the role of zikaron.

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 02:10:44PM -0400, Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:
: 3. I do not understand what "Shechinas b'govhei meromim" adds to "Moshav
: yekaro ba'shamayim me'me'al" unless the meromim is Marom Tziyon (the
: Gra's girsa does not help).

Shechinas *Uzo* more clealy does.

But in any case, there is a difference between leshachein and leisheiv.
"Leisheiv basukkah" vs "veshachanti besokham".

Also, Shechinas Uzo may be aproduct of a lack of tikkun, where there
is no mikdash for "veshachanti besokham". Whereas the moment described
as "Melech yosheiv al kisei rachamim" comes when Moshe was allowed
to see His Achor, and what Mosheh saw when getting the luchos -- an
ideal state.


Micha Berger                     Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                    Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org                   The Torah is complex.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                                    - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:18:40 GMT
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
avinu malkenu and selichot,LeDovid Hashem Ori

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
>> 3. Why are some parts of avinu malkenu said out loud (edot mizrach don't
>> say anything out loud).

IIRC the Mir yeshiva likewise says it all straight through.From: Eli 

From: Daniel M Wells <wells@mail.biu.ac.il>
> 5. Some say it Shaharit, Minha and Maariv!

Since the majority of the mincha minyanim at work are Nusach Seferad,
and not to be 'Perush min HaZibbur' I generally say it a third time.

I thought I was the only one!

>> what about tachanun and must you put your head down

Rav Asher Zimmerman z"l advised people davening in a minyan where they
omitted tachanun for, shall we say, dubious reasons, to say it without
nefilas apayim, in order not to be poresh min hatzibur.

Derech agav, Rav Dovid Cohen told me that if you miss saying tachanun
at the appropriate point, there are no tashlumin, i.e. only directly
after chazaras hashatz.


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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:55:42 GMT
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
More on selihot-from Areivim

From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <laser@ieee.org>
> Just for interest, how many of us said 13 middot yesterday (Thursday) and 
> how many today (Friday)?
> Why the difference in minhag?

Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin said them Thursday. I believe it's to put 13
midos on Monday/Thursday, the yemei harachamim.


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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 17:57:15 +0300
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
RE: [Fwd: Re: Kohanim and Ground Zero]

On 13 Sep 2002 at 0:47, Akiva Atwood wrote:
> Why restrict it to just Ground Zero -- they are finding remains in the
> surrounding areas.

> For that matter -- the dust that spread through the whole area contained
> remains -- do we have to take that into account?

I would think that the dust would not be a problem because it is 
highly unlikely that you have an etzem k'sora of any one meis in the 
dust at this point. 

-- Carl

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

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:55:53 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Kohanim and Ground Zero

On Fri, Sep 13, 2002 at 12:47:38AM +0300, Akiva Atwood wrote:
:> Is it Halachically permissible for a kohen visit Ground Zero?

: Why restrict it to just Ground Zero -- they are finding remains in the
: surrounding areas.

: For that matter -- the dust that spread through the whole area contained
: remains -- do we have to take that into account?

For obvious reasons, this has been a topic of conversation at
the office minchah minyan on more than one occasion.

In order to have a problem of tum'as ohalim, we have to consider the
likelihood of coming in an ohel with a kezayis of remains from a
ben Yisra'el.  If the deceased is a nachri it's actual contact. A
kohein can simply avoid touching suspicious objects of that size.

The odds of getting into an ohel situation, say in the basement of some
new building or the PATH station they just started building would IMHO
be very slight. Not much higher than anywhere else in the world. Also,
depending on how the foundation is done, the tuma'ah might not be olah
beyond it.

As a theoretical question, would a kezayis of ashes from a ben Yisra'el


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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:21:17 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Why teach the other opinions

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 10:27:53AM +0300, Carl and Adina Sherer wrote:
:> (Never mind what the case was...) Doesn't appealing to the poseiq's
:> halachic weight beg the question? After all, how do we judge his
:> weightiness aside from the acceptability of the pesaqim -- which
:> is the very thing you are trying to determine that "weight" to 
:> help you decide!

: I think that there's a difference between accepting a psak as halacha and
: accepting it as a valid shita even if not l'maaseh...

Which is why I phrased that entire paragraph consistantly in terms of
the latter.

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 08:53:12PM -0400, DFinchPC@aol.com wrote:
: In a message dated 9/11/02 2:03:00 PM, Daniel Eidensohn writes:
: << There is an interesting paradox. If you argue that there is a rule
: that one can not criticize the utilization in another community of
: the ruling of a major posek - than how can you criticize the psakim of
: major posekim who say that you can. How can you criticize their position
: without violating your own rule!>>

: You can't. That's the whole point. If your posek is more lenient than
: others, then you have to tolerate the other poseks' intolerance...

My form of the same paradox lacks this clean resolution.

First, I'm not dealing in the pragmatic question of "when do we condemn?"
but rather the theoretical one of "when do we accept as a different but
valid derekh?"

So, say you accept their position as a valid but different derekh. Which
means that you believe that HQBH said (or implied) both your shitah, A,
and their shitah, B. So far, pluralism seems okay -- eilu va'eilu. A and
B can both be true, or both be productive ways to fulfil one's tachlis
in life, even if they disagree.

But now we realize that part of B is that A is false, A is unproductive, A
was not said or implied by HQBH. How can someone who adhere to A believe
that Hashem both said A -- which is his own shitah -- and that He said
or implied that He did not say A -- which is part of accepting that B
is also divrei E-lokim chaim?


Micha Berger                     Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                    Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org                   The Torah is complex.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                                    - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 10:19:30 -0400
From: "Markowitz, Chaim" <cmarkowitz@scor.com>
Sukkah netting

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote:
> IIRC, RAS said that such netting Passuls the Sukkah. If so it would seem
> from the Psak that eating in a Sukkah this year would be a Sakkanah of
> sufficient severity to exempt one from it.

Look in SA 629:19 (last siff). I believe it is two deios in the mechaber
and although it seems we pasken like the more machmir shittah I think
the mishna berurah says that b'shas hadechak you can rely on the more
meikel shittah. ayin sham for details.

[Email #2 -mi]

Someone I know told me that Rabbi Haber from Monsey had told him that in
Florida they used the netting also to keep out the bugs.

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 16:58 +0200
Re: Pants, Mosquitos, and the West Nile Virus

The halacha in Orach Chayim 640:4 is clear: "mitzta'er patur min
ha'sukkah .....eizehu mitztaer: zeh she'eino yachol lishon basukkah
mipnei ha'ruach o mipnei HA'ZEVUVIM v'h'paroshim v'k'yotzeh bazeh.."
That's of course except for the first night where even a mitztaer has
to eat a ke'zait in the sukkah.

So if your area has been listed as endemic with West Nile virus and
you're terrified of getting bitten by a mosquito (attracted by food and
candles outdoors) then perhaps you fall into the category of mitztaer.



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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 12:23:35 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Why teach the other opinions

In a message dated 9/11/2002 12:23:17pm EDT, sherer@actcom.co.il writes:
> I think that there's a difference between accepting a psak as halacha and
> accepting it as a valid shita even if not l'maaseh. I would disagree with
> paskening halacha solely based upon halachic weight ...          But in
> the absence of obvious mistake, I would argue that halachic weight should
> in most cases give a shita non-l'maaseh validity. ...

AISI, this is the idea of eilu v'eilu re: Beis Shammai being equal weight
in lamdus
Halachah is still k'Beis Hillel 

Furthermore see Rashi on Emor 22:31
Ushmarten  - Zo Mishnah
Va'asisem zeh Hama'aseh

It's one of my favorite dichotimies- i.e. Lamdus bs. Halachah

IOW learning rejecting opinions has as much s'char of Talmud Torah as
the accepted opinion but when it comes to practice we almost always do
ONLY the accepted opinion.

Some sefarim - e.g. L'vush and Kitzur - are more likely to be learned
than followed. That's perahps why the piskei MB are a good thing to have
on the daf.

As far as weighting goes, this is not only a function of how great
the poseik is
E.G., There are edtions of both KSA and MB that have the psak of the
B'al Hatanya in order for followers of Chabad to learn the sefer yet
pasken accordgin to their khilla.

Similarly - as I have posted before - the reason Ashkenazim follow the
Rema over the Mechabeir is not a function of their relative "wight"
as poskim but of their respective khillos.

E.G., Breuer's learns the MB but often overrides the MB's psak based
upon the minhag of the Kehillah.

I believe an example of this might be the case of daveing Ma'arive early
in the summer with a Minyan.

IIRC the GRA paskens better to daven w/o a minyan after tzeis while
Breuer's holds better to daven with a Minyan after plag than bichidus
later on.

Now it is a fact that Breuer's rejects te Gra's opinion legabei a minyan,
but due to the wight of the GRA it would probably respect his opinion
legabie daveing biyechidus. So the GRA's opinion has weight in abasence
of the Tzibbur.

Another possibility is the case of kitniyyos for Ashkenazim. Although we
are machmir, since we know the Mechabeir is meikel therefore we might be
someich on that opinion in the case of being a guest in a Sephardic house.
Had we been completely blind to that opinion, it might night come into
play at all.

Here is another bedieved. An am ha'aretz delivered some food on Shabbos
in Manhattan to someone. The recipient did not hold from a kosher eruv
in Manhattan. But when apporaching a poseik, this poseik condeded that
bedieved, one might use the non-accpeted eruv in order to use that food
{at least after shabbos...} So factroing in rejeted opinions can often
be a factor in certain "heicha timzes"

[Email #2. -mi]

In a message dated 9/5/2002 8:06:35pm EDT, Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu writes:
> However, there are here clear sources and rabbanim who are mattir, and
> kehillot who had followed them. To deny the legitimacy of the heter for
> those kehillot, even if one wishes to convince them to change, is not
> merely to disagree with the reasonings/conclusion, but to conclude that
> those rabbanim may not be relied upon by anyone. ...

YEHBUT  (yes but)

If you see Tur Orach Chaim 68 you will see a tshuva from the RemaH {NOT R.
Moshe Isserless} against Yotzros

It is obvious that MANY kehillos Ashkenaz relied on Kallir v'syaaso for
many generations and were still attacked.

Philisophically I agree with you, i.e. any opinoin that has had widesrepad
acceptance must be given some Halachic validity.

See Tshuvos IM Orach Chaim vol. II #100 re: clapping on Shabbos. R. Moshe
condedes that the widespread practice of an Obsdervant community must be
factored in {even if he ultimately rejects that factor he still conisders
it} . IOW though R. Moshe prefers the pashtus of the Gmara over the psak
of Tosafos.

Shanah Tovah
Richard Wolpoe

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 16:54:48 GMT
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Kahal v'Chazan, or Chazan v'Kahal? (was: avinu malkenu and selichot)

R' Eli Turkel asked <<< Why in many of the selichot are the end of one
verse combined with the beginning of the next one. I note that in the
artscroll machzor this is frequently changed from the usual printing
e.g l_kel Orech Din, Kol Maamimin, >>>

I once saw a one-volume sefer from Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, entitled
"Sefer HaYovel" or something like that. (I'm *not* referring to the
two-volume "Kol Kisvei".) In it was an article entitled "Kahal v'Chazan,
o Chazan v'Kahal?" or maybe the other way around. (I saw this about 15
years ago. If anyone has this sefer, I'd love a copy of the article;
write me offline.)

IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, it was a very clear description of the
development of this sort of stuff. He divides these tefilos into two
categories. In one, the chazan and kahal say the exact same things, and
always have done so, and that is the "chazan v'kahal" system, where the
chazan leads and sets the mood, and the people repeat what he said. I
think he gave "Kel Adon" as an example of this.

In other places, the original setup was for the chazan and kahal to
say *different* things. The chazan would lead, and the kahal would
respond. I'm pretty sure that two examples he gave were Melech Elyon
and V'Chol Maaminim. In Melech Elyon (or maybe the name is something
else? i don't have my machzor handy), the chazan said a long phrase,
and the kahal listened, and answered nothing but "HeShem Melech". The
chazan said another long line, and the kahal answered "Hashem Malach". The
chazan said a third long line, and then the kahal said "Hashem Yimloch",
followed by all three together.

This arrangement can still be seen in the graphic layout of most
machzorim, but the beauty of the Call And Response procedure has been
lost. Rav Henkin addressed this, but I don't really remember what
he said. For some reason, people didn't like listening to the chazan
without saying anything. Maybe they thought they weren't being "yotzay" or
something. So the people got into the habit that whatever the chazan says,
the people jump in and say it first. This is called "kahal v'chazan",
because the things that are said by both, the kahal goes first.

We see this sort of thing all year long in Kedushah on Shabbos and Yom
Tov, where the kahal says N'kadesh, Az B'kol, Mimkomo, et al, before the
chazan does. [Pet peeve: And nowadays, not only do the people insist on
saying the chazan's piece before him, but then when it is the chazan's
turn, they hum along so loudly that no one can hear the chazan!]

But at least, the phrasing and typography alert the careful reader to
the idea that once upon a time, the Call and Response were two distinct
things. R' Turkel's question is on Kel Orech Din and Kol Maamimin, and I'm
pretty sure that Rav Henken brings these specific examples of where the
poem got messed up almost beyond recognition, to the point where the kahal
thinks it is a simple repetitive response, so it *looks* like the machzor
printers went out of their way to start stanzas in the middle of a line.

I don't have my machzor with me, which is a shame, because the exact words
would really demonstrate this better. But a Google search on the phrase
"v'chol maaminim" turned up this same discussion in a 1992 edition of
Mail-Jewish! Ain't this internet great?

A post there at http://shamash.org/listarchives/mail-jewish/volume4/v4n71
shows that R' Sam Gamoran raised the same questions as R 'Eli Turkel
raised here. And then R' David Kessler gave a response similar to mine,
at http://shamash.org/listarchives/mail-jewish/volume4/v4n76

Thanks to R' Gamoran's post, which includes many of the words to L'Keil
Orech Din, I can now be more explicit.

The chazan said "L'keil orech din" and the kahal answered "L'vochen
livavot b'yom din"
The chazan said "L'goleh dayot badin" and the kahal answered "L'dover
meisharim b'yom din"

But now:
The chazan says "L'keil orech din" on its own. The kahal answers "L'vochen
livavot b'yom din", and then the kahal says "L'goleh dayot badin" before
the chazan does.
The chazan says "L'vochen livavot b'yom din" (because he doesn't want
to miss anything, I suppose) and then says his real part, which is
"L'goleh dayot badin". The kahal answers "L'dover meisharim b'yom din",
and then they say "L'hogeh dayot badin" before the chazan.

The chazan and kahal end up saying the exact same thing. Similarly for
"V'chol Maaminim":

The chazan described Hashem as "He is the (something that starts with
Aleph)" and the kahal answered "And all believe that He is (something
*else* that starts with Aleph)".
The chazan described Hashem as "He is the (something that starts with
Beis)" and the kahal answered "And all believe that He is (something
*else* that starts with Beis)".

But now it morphed into something very different. First we sort of mumble
the first half-line, which describes Hashem as (something that starts
with Aleph). Then:

The kahal says "And all believe that He is (something *else* that starts
with Aleph). He is (something that starts with Beis"). And then the
chazan says it.
The kahal says "And all believe that He is (something *else* that starts
with Gimel). He is (something that starts with Gimel"). And then the
chazan says it.

Which is rather bizarre, if you are looking for any sort of meaningful
content, since each stanza begins with "and", and then shifts gears
halfway through. But if you're looking for a fun song, it's great.

I hope that I've done a bit of justice to Rav Henkin's explanation. If
anyone can offer additional examples or explanation, please chime in.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 17:10:43 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Why teach the other opinions

On Fri, Sep 13, 2002 at 12:23:35PM -0400, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
: Philisophically I agree with you, i.e. any opinoin that has had widesrepad
: acceptance must be given some Halachic validity.

ANY opinion?

Let's try a reducio ad absurdum: C has a pretty wide kehillah...

To me, the question is coming up with a well-defined principle for why
I could insist that eilu va'eilu should apply between some other stripe
of O and me, but still reserve the right to do the very same thing to
C positions.

To do this, "the pale" -- as in "C is beyond the pale" -- needs a clear


Micha Berger                     Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                    Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org                   The Torah is complex.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                                    - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 12:28:56 -0400
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Dor Revi'i on ha-omeir eheta v'yom ha-kippurim m'khapeir

To be posted on the Dor Revi'i website <http://www.dorrevii.org>

The same Mishnah teaches that if one who says: "I will transgress and Yom
Kippur will atone," then Yom Kippur does not atone for him. The Gemara
raises the question whether this Mishnah conflicts with the opinion of
Rebi who holds that Yom Kippur atones both for those who repent and for
those who do not repent. But the Gemara concludes that the Mishnah need
not conflict with the opinion of Rebi, because "reliance is different."
Rashi explains that if one actually commits a transgression in the
expectation that Yom Kippur will atone, Yom Kippur does not atone in
that case.

Now a scholar once asked our master why the Gemara did not use this
reasoning in the tractate of Shavuot (13) to answer the question how,
according to Rebi, it one could ever be subject to the punishment of
karet for eating on Yom Kippur. The Gemara in Shavuot is hard pressed to
find an answer, but why did it not answer simply that, even according
to Rebi, one could be subject to karet for eating on Yom Kippur in the
expectation that Yom Kippur would atone for the transgression? And our
master answered correctly that the question is not compelling. For if
we said that only one who ate on Yom Kippur in the expectation that Yom
Kippur would atone for the transgression, then there would have been no
point in mentioning that the punishment for eating on Yom Kippur is karet.
Instead, the Scripture should have mentioned only the positive commandment
to fast (v'initem et naphshoteikhem). And if the individual would not
be aware of the punishment of karet, he would not come to the point
of saying "I will transgress and Yom Kippur will atone for the karet,"
since he would be unaware that eating on Yom Kippur subjected him to a
penalty for which he required atonement. Thus, if the individual did eat
on Yom Kippur, he would not be subject to the penalty of karet, because
Yom Kippur would indeed atone for his transgression. But it is surely
impossible to say that the Scripture mentioned the penalty of karet for
eating on Yom Kippur for no other purpose than to impose it upon one
who eats on Yom Kippur with the expectation that Yom Kippur would atone.

David Glasner

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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 12:55:41 -0400
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Dor Revi'I on amar rebi aqiva ashreikhem yisrael liphnei mi atem mittaharim

To be posted on the Dor Revi'I website <http://www.dorrevii.org>

In the Mishnah at the end of Yoma, R. Akiva says, "how fortunate are you,
oh, Israel. Before whom are you being purified? Who is purifying you?
Your Father in Heaven, as it is written, 'and I will pour pure water upon
you, and you will become pure. From all your contaminations (tumoteikhem)
and from all your abominations (giluleikhem) I will purify you.'"
Behold R. Akiva, after the Temple was destroyed and the Sanctuary of
the Eternal was burnt, sought to comfort Israel for the loss of the Yom
ha-Kippurim service which brought atonement through the sin-offering
(par ha-hatat) and the two goats (sh'nei ha-s'irim).

Behold there are two forces that upset our souls and, like a serpent,
wait along the way of the Eternal to cause us to do evil. First, desire,
the first sin, which leads us astray to do evil. Second, sustenance
for our lives, the burden of which is too heavy to bear and forces us
to depart from the way of the Eternal. Now when Israel dwelled upon its
land, the Holy Land, upon which the eyes of the Eternal are always set,
the desire to sin was not aroused to the highest degree. Nor did the evil
inclination exercise complete control over the Children of Israel to push
them away from the Eternal, because they dwelled in a place consecrated
to the Eternal. Moreover, "the atmosphere of the land makes one wise"
(avira d'ara mahkim) and "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the
Eternal" (reishit hokhma yirat ha-Sheim). They also found it possible
to support themselves more than adequately without excessive effort and
toil, because they dwelt securely in peace, each man under his vine and
fig tree. But in that ideal situation, any transgression, any departure
from the way of the Eternal to stand on the path of evil, was very grave.
It was therefore essential for them to perform on the Fast Day both the
sin-offering (hatat) and the guilt offering (asham) to atone for their
guilt, which was great.

However, when the Children of Israel left their land and were exiled
to foreign lands, the evil inclination arose like an adversary to push
them off the way of the Eternal, because outside Israel his strength
is mighty and from his grasp none can be saved. As the Sages said,
"whoever lives outside Israel is like one with no G-d." Also their
livelihood provided them only with bitter herbs, for they had to devote
their whole lives to earn their bread. And it became very difficult for
them to observe the commandments of the Eternal. So for a loaf of bread
a man would sin against G-d and desecrate the Sabbath and His festivals
and would bear false witness against his friend. For who could bear the
shame of hunger and poverty? But for just that reason, their sins were
not too great to be forgiven, and the Eternal, in His goodness, would
forgive them when they returned to Him. But if we have neither Priest
nor altar to provide atonement, upon whom can we rely? On our Father in
Heaven Who acts toward us with kindness and truth.

This is what R. Akiva meant when he said "how fortunate are you, oh,
Israel." Even though our city is desolate and our Temple destroyed, we
still have upon Whom to rely -- upon our Father in Heaven. In other words,
there is an atonement for our sins in that the Restorer of our souls is
now far away from us and has ascended to Heaven and does not pour His
spirit upon us -- "the blessings of Heaven above" (birkhot shamayim
mei-al), by which we could understand and become wise and avoid sin.
Nor do we have the temporal blessings below, "the blessings of the deep
that coucheth beneath" (birkhot rovetzet tahat), because all we have left
but is our bodies, and we eat bread only through the sweat of our brow.
But this withdrawal of the blessings, in itself, is an excellent excuse
for us, through which our sins are forgiven as if through the service of
Yom ha-Kippurim. And to reinforce his words, R. Akiva quotes the words
of the prophet Yehezkeil who, referring to the bitter days of exile,
said "And I will pour pure waters upon you, and you will be purified.
 From all your contaminations and all your abominations I will purify
you." For the difference between contamination (tumah) and abomination
(gilul) is that contamination is invisible whereas an abomination is a
disgusting thing that is visible. These two words suggest the two types
of transgressions mentioned above. One who defiles his soul by eating
food unfit to be consumed or by having illicit relations is considered
revolting in his person and his soul as Tosaphot write in Hulin that it
is exceedingly disgraceful to eat something that is forbidden, because it
disfigures his person. Thus, our Sages say that an animal that was fed
forbidden foodstuffs is considered blemished and is unfit to be brought
as a sacrifice. Such transgressions are therefore represented by the
word "galal." But those transgressions that, like the desecration of
the Sabbath or swearing falsely that are committed because of financial
pressure, have an advantage over the former class of transgressions in
not defiling the person of the transgressor. And the second group of
transgressions are represented by the word "tumah" which suggests that
these transgressions have a less conspicuous physical effect. The words
"and I will pour pure water upon you" suggest that water will be poured
from afar, from a high place, "for I am in Heaven and you are in the land
of your enemies. And this itself is an excuse for you and therefore you
will be purified of all your impurities and from all your abominations."

And R. Akiva mentions another advantage of the exile that did not exist
at the time of the Temple. "And it says again, 'the hope (miqveih)
of Israel, the Eternal, will save you in a time of peril,' just as the
ritual bath (miqveh) cleanses the unclean, so does the Holy One Blessed
Be He cleanse Israel." For the very fact that we have no one upon whom
to depend except our Heavenly Father will create the proper spirit within
us and will direct our hearts toward Him to serve Him, and all the while
Israel will look upward and subjugate their hearts to Heaven. Now the
purification of the ritual bath occurs when a person immerses himself
completely beneath the water and is completely separated from anything
else. So, too, Israel, when they have no one upon whom to rely and no
one to support them, and they just look toward G-d for mercy, then will
they be purified and their souls will be cleansed more than by the guilt
offering or the Scapegoat. For the Merciful One desires the heart. And
this is how the verse "Israel is saved by the Eternal, an everlasting
salvation." "Everlasting salvation" salvation means that we may be saved
in every generation even when Mount Zion is desolate without worshipers
to bring sacrifices their. In such times, Israel is saved by the Eternal,
and it is an everlasting salvation. That is what is meant by "the hope of
Israel is G-d" (miqveih yisrael ha-Sheim). Just as a ritual bath cleanses
when one immerses his entire body and is completely surrounded by water,
so the Holy One Blessed Be He cleanses Israel when they look heavenward
and their eyes are focused only on Him.

David Glasner

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