Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 044

Thursday, November 13 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 22:07:19 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Hashgocha protis and suicide

S Goldstein wrote:
>>In sum: I don't see any dispute that a person can kill himself- even
>though lifespan is decreed in Heaven - because he has free will and can
>freely subject himself to natural danger.

>again Tos.  To ChL one is not subject to natural danger.

Where does he say that one is not subject to natural danger?

R' Gil Student wrote:

R' Elchanan Wasserman posits that this is a machlokes rishonim.

Tosafos in Kesuvos 30a sv ha-kol write that one may commit suicide
even if it has not been previously ordained - "de-ha vadai she-be-yado
le-hamis atzmo".

REW in Kovetz Ma'amarim, peirushei aggados on "ha-kol biydei shamayim"
cites this tosafos and suggests that the Chovos HaLevavos disagrees.


That is not at all how I read the piece. REW quotes Tosafos and then
offers another approach ("lulei divreihem"). He then tries to bolster
his approach, that is different from that of Tosafos, and among others
quotes the Chovos HaLevavos as support for his own approach.

I did not see any attempt for reconciliation and that is not how I have
understood this piece or heard it quoted (by e.g. the sho'el u-meishiv
in one yeshiva I attended) in the many years since it first came to
my attention.

I don't see any evidence that "R' Elchanan Wasserman posits that this
is a machlokes rishonim."

At this point I think we need to focus on what happens when a person
jumps out of an airplane without a parachute. Prior to the jumping there
was a gezera he was to live another 20 years. [I think everyone agrees
that there is a gezera concerning how long a person should live.]

There are several ways of understanding how the person dies before the
time of this gezera.

1. The gezera itself is conditional on not the person not being put in
danger. Danger can shorten lifespan even without a new Divine command.

 From the gemora in Chagiga it is clear that a person can die prior to
the time decreed if he places himself in danger. Thus the gezera only
applies if he is not placed in danger - it is not an absolute gezera that
he can not die prior to that time. This is also the view of the gemora
in Shabbos. Tosfos also apparently does not require that the gezera be
changed in the case of suicide. This is also the concept implicit in the
Maharal's explanation of how a person can be judged to live for the coming
year and yet die anyway. I compared this understanding of the gezera
to the rule that a person who is involved in a mitzva is protected from
harm. The gemora states clearly but that is only against unexpected harm.
Thus the gemora in Kesubos 30 that all is a gezera from Heaven except
cold and heat means that where a person freely puts himself (or others)
in danger the gezera doesn't prevent his demise. Both Tosfos and Chovas
Halevavos can be understood that way and thus there is no necessity
of machlokes.

2. G-d in fact revises the gezera because the person has sinned by
deliberately putting himself in danger.

Again both can fit this. Chavos HaLevavos stating it explicitly while
Tosfos allowing it to be implicit

3. The gezera is revised actively or passively - because the person
lacks merit for miraculous rescue from danger

The gezera can be revised either actively i.e., G-d decrees the person
must die or passively i.e., by G-d refuses to intervene. This seems to
fit in well with the Chovas HaLevavos i.e., there is a new gezera that
the person will die because he lacks the proper merit to live. However I
think it also can fit in with Tosfos by saying that there is a new gezera
that G-d is not going to intervene and block the action of nature. Tosfos
doesn't call this a gezera but it is in fact a gezera of passivity. This
is similar to the issue of the supreme court ruling that it upholds a
lower court ruling or that it refuses to review the lower court ruling. I
think the result is the same. G-d either orders that the person be subject
to the laws of nature or that He decrees that he won't interfere with the
laws of nature. Similarly we find Tosfos Nida(16b) that there are issues
which G-d could intervene but He doesn't. Both Tosfos and Chovas HaLevavos
can be understood to fit this understanding of a new gezera being created.

[There is a possible difference between the active change of gezera and
the passive refusal to intervene. That is whether another person can
intervene to save the person. According to the Zohar, Ohr Hachaim and
Netziv - a person's free will can overcome the gezera of Providence.
However according to those who say that man can never overrule a gezera
of providence I don't see any distinction between the active gezera and
the passive gezera.]

In sum. There is no necessity of reading the Tosfos as disagreeing with
Chovas Halevavos. Furthermore Rav Elchanon Wasserman nowhere states that
there is a machlokes but only that in view of the fact that life and
death are a gezera - the language of Tosofs raises questions. He doesn't
state whether the apparent disparity is readily resolvable - like I have
suggested, or whether he considers the disparity indicative of a genuine
machlokes. As a general rule one does not insist that a machlokes exists
unless 1) it is clearly stated that there is a machlokes or 2) there is
no acceptable resolution of the apparent disparities. Neither of these
conditions exist.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 22:15:01 +0200
From: Micha <micha@aishdas.org>
Torah Observance and Crime Statistics

Here's a recreation of part of a discussion that spanned numerous
Areivim threads:

> I don't know how to square this with my previous belief that if you
> raise  children in a frum home, they are likely to be good people,
> or at least better  than they would have been otherwise.

: This is a major hashkafic problem. The Torah exists to ennoble the
: self. So, where's the nafka mina lema'aseh?

: "Better than they would have been otherwise" can't be measured for
: individuals. We have no access to the "otherwise", to what didn't
: happen. We can assume statistically that we would have behaved as any
: other population would have. In which case, the lower incidence of abuse
: is sufficient to make the point.

: BTs are a population prescreened for idealism. Even those who became frum
: because of needs that aren't religious, there had to be some idealistic
: component as well. And besides, when dealing statistically, they're only
: one part of the whole. The set of BTs is not a random population.

: And then I refer you back to my post on what being shomer Torah umitzvos
: means to me. Many frum people are as far from my ideal as people who
: don't affiliate with O. People who forget there was a second lu'ach
: given at Har Sinai. People who, "despairing of feeling His love, try
: to take comfort in assuming his yoke." (To attempt to quote R' Dr Haym
: Soloveitchik from memory.) This truly is frumkeit, in RSWolbe's negative
: sense of the word. The non-O who observes more bein adam laMaqom than they
: were raised with, who is constantly looking for more ways to "connect"
: to the Ribbono shel olam, who truly feels and acts on an ahavas Yisrael
: and ahavas haberiyos, may be more of a shomeir Torah umitzvos than some
: of the people we seat at the mizrach vant.

: And, since abuse runs in families, the abusive husband is probably one
: who was not raised in a home that has the Torah's ideals in this
: regard.

R Harry Maryles wrote:
> If true, (and I have no reason to doubt Dr. Schuss) then it explodes
> a common myth, one which I have believed right up to this moment...
> that those of us who believe in the Torah and who live a Torah
> lifestyle are less likely to become abusive. NOT TRUE! Dr. Schuss
> tells us that her experience is that abuse is no less common in the
> frum community than anywhere else....

Me, again:
: [One can] draw the wrong conclusion. Believing in Torah and living a
: Torah lifestyle /must/ produce a population that is overall a group of
: better people. (Because it /must/ produce individuals who are better
: than they would be otherwise.) "Hinei Ani nosein lefanakha es hachaim
: ve'es hatov..." "Derakheha darkhei no'am..." Clearly a, if not /the/,
: tachlis of torah umitzovs is that improvement.

: What this proves is that the frum community is not producing people
: who really believe in Torah and live the Torah lifestyle. We're off the
: derekh. We picked up enough chitzoniyus and shtiklach to fool ourselves.

RRFreedenberg, in reply to RnTK:
> Not exactly. There is no one who is not better for learning Torah,
> but they are still human. Being raised in a frum home is no guarantee
> of anything -- not of perfect midot, not of perfect mental health,
> not of anything.

> But that doesn't mean that we are not chayav to put in our hishtadlus
> anyway.

> Nonsense.

> "Learning Torah", by itself, does NOTHING to make a person better.

Me yet again:
: Then you reject both sides of the hashkafic fork? Or do you not
: consider talmud Torah a significant part of the avodas Hashem?

RAA's reply:
> The key phrase in my answer is "by itself".

> Of course TT is part of avodas HaShem. But it's not the *totality*
> of Avodas HaShem.

> Talmud Torah gives us the tools we need to improve ourselves -- but they
> are worthless if we don't *work* on our midos as well.

> Too many people today think that learning *by itself*, like some magic
> formula, will change a person's middos.

> If that were true, then there would be no need for mussar.

I think RAA raises an important point. Although the Briskers argued
that takeh there is no need. Having the tools only puts you ahead if
you choose to use them.

In Even Sheleimah, the Gra is quoted as saying that talmud Torah is like
watering a garden. If you flant the right seeds, you'll get the proper
results. And if you water weeds, you just get bigger weeds.

But if you expand RRF's statement to shemiras hamitzvos as well,
then you're left with the original question. Ha'adam nif'al lefi
pe'ulosav. Mitokh shelo lishmah, ba lishmah. Simply having the tools
is supposed to get you to the step of using them correctly. And even if
there are no guarantees, we should still see something statistically.

Saying that the Torah is correct but people are imperfect is
insufficient. After all, since the Torah is correct then it should at
least be producing people who are closer to perfect. After all, that is
halakhah's reason d'etre.

Which is why I took the approach of distinguishing two concepts. FOr the
sake of further discussion, I propose we call one call one "frumkeit",
following RSWolbe's negative connotations for the word, and the other
"shemiras Torah umitzvos" (STM). Without this distinction, RNTK's
question about the O community becomes a reason to doubt the divine
origin of halakhah. Now, I se3e it only as proof of the lack of divine
origin of frumkeit.

Being a member of the frum community doesn't necessarily put one
closer to being a STM than being C or R. Vehara'ayah, nidon didan. If
we were closer, we couldn't have an argument on areivim as to whether
O abuse rates were comparable or lower than other communities. It would
be obvious.

I believe the two largest components of the gap between the two concepts
1- A focus on the chitzoniyus. This allows one to attribute inordinate
value to acts performed in mindless habit, or to mitzvos performed simply
because that's the society's norm.

2- A misprioritization. Bein adam lachaveiro has to be viewed as a
prerequisite for bein adam laMaqom. Derekh eretz qodmah. In general, our
priorities are not coming from the Torah but from society's dynamic.
Which is how we can't tolerate one famous to'eivah, but can seat
practitioners of the to'eivah of even va'aven on the mizrach vant. Since
our non-frum brothers largely differ on matters of bein adam laMaqom,
our self definition and priorities are artificially skewed to that arena.


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
micha@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (413) 403-9905      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 03:20:34 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: ibn Ezra on Esav and Yishmael

On Sat, Nov 08, 2003 at 06:51:30PM +0000, R Herbert Basser translate
the IE:
: Actually the Roman nation which sent us into exile is descendended
: from the Kittim. And the Targum translates "ships coming from Kittim"
: to refer to Rome. This term in fact designated the very kingdom of the
: Greeks as explained in the book of Daniel....

Lo zochisi lehavin.

If seifer Daniel designates the Greeks as Kittim, then why does the IE
think they're the Romans? His ra'ayah from the Targum doesn't indicate
one seafaring people over the other.

In the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Vespasian takes a child's quote
of a pasuq from Yechezkeil about Edom as a sign of his future success.
In Mes AZ, the holidays of Edom are those known to be Romes. (Bacchinalea,
for example.) The wealth of Rebbe and Marcus is taken as a kiyum of a
nevu'ah about Yaakov and Eisav. Etc...


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
micha@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (413) 403-9905      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 03:56:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Torah Observance and Crime Statistics

Micha <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> I believe the two largest components of the gap between the two
> concepts (Frumkeit and "shemiras Torah umitzvos" (STM)) are:
> 1- A focus on the chitzoniyus. This allows one to attribute inordinate
> value to acts performed in mindless habit, or to mitzvos performed simply
> because that's the society's norm.

> 2- A misprioritization. Bein adam lachaveiro has to be viewed as a
> prerequisite for bein adam laMaqom. Derekh eretz qodmah. In general, our
> priorities are not coming from the Torah but from society's dynamic... 
> our self definition and priorities are artificially skewed to that
> arena.

I totaly agree. I have written many times on these two subjects
independently but in essence they are the crux of the problem WRT
mistreating one's fellow human beings, in the Torah world and it crosses
all Hashkafic lines. This produces communities where Orthodoxy(defined
in this context as total adherenece to ALL of Halacha, both Bein Adam
L'Makom AND Bein Adam L'Chaveiro) is really only Orthopraxy.


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Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 20:34:03 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>

At 06:15 PM 11/10/2003, [RDR] wrote:
>But isn't Herodotus's history set in the time of Darius, who (according
>to H) was the successor of Cyrus's son, and wasn't Cyrus the person who
>permitted the Jews to return to EY?

Sha'arei teirutzim lo nin'alu. I printed out (but have not yet
read) Chaim Chefetz's sizable work on the topic. It may be found at:

>Actually, from 586 until the mid 5th century the Jewish presence in eretz
>yisrael would have been minimal, as initial shivat zion was so small.
>However, right around the destruction, israel was involved in a major
>battle of bavel - so would have been known. You provided a nice proof
>for 586 over 420..

I doubt you have actually read Herodotus. He describes tiny tribes, so
long as their customs were significant and worthy of mention. He also
mentions Syrians, Phoenicians and Egyptians, and travelled to these
countries. It is preposterous to assume that the strange monotheism
practiced by the Jews in his routes of travel would have escaped his
keen eye.


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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 09:03:11 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Re: Historical Timeline Redux

From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
<http://pub18.ezboard.com/fbalkansfrm39.showMessage?topicID=31.topic>: -mi]
> Herodotus does not mention the Jews
> There can be only one conclusion drawn that does not blow all Jewish
> history up: That Herodotus lived at the period of Galus Bavel, when
> Chazal tell us there was period that EY was Judenrein. Since they did
> not exist as an independent people in their own land, Herodotus was not
> aware of them as an independent entity.

While this is a lovely theory there is a major problem with it -- Israel
was not Judenrein during that period. In fact most of shevet Binyamin
stayed in their villages.

There is sufficient archeological knowledge nowadays that this is
considered proven.

But, to go back to the question and Herodotus.

1st, I also did an online search. Articles from serious historians discuss
the issue of Herodotus' veracity. Apparently, he was not as reliable as
one may think from reading his texts. It has been proven that while at
times his reports are true -- at others they are not true at all!

2nd I called a respected historian and asked for his opinion on this
question. He too reiterated that historians do not place much reliance
on Herodotus b/c he has a bad track record. The 2nd half of the answer
was that there was no evidence that Herodotus reached Jerusalem, which
is the only area where he would have found Jews who were identifiably
different than the neighboring people.

In Babylon/Persia, the jews dressed like their neighbours (they even took
part in the local high society events <g>) and therefore, as number wise
they were not a large group, there was a high probability of Herodotus
missing them, just as he missed other groups who lived at that time in
the regions he visited.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 19:58:38 -0600 (CST)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Re: Hashgocha protis and suicide

I am at a loss to understand how R' Daniel Eidensohn is reading the piece
by RE Wasserman. I am sending it as an attachment and requesting from
Micha to post it to the AishDas website.

[See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/rew.pdf> -mi]

Gil Student

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 01:36:39 EST
From: Ggntor@aol.com
Bathroom reading

An interesting point: We are allowed to wear a beged with tzitzit into
the bathroom. The stated purpose of tzitzit is "u'rietem o'to u'zchartem
et kol mitzvot..." - isn't that (u'zchartem et kol mitzvot) assur in
the given situation?

-Yair Horowitz

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 15:46:11 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
ban on torah b'shem the gr'a

From: Elly Bachrach <>
> R' H Shachter once mentioned in shiur that the beis din of vilna
> banned people from publishing torah in the name of the gr'a without
> prior approval.

IIRC I saw this mentioned in a kuntres by Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlit'a
where he writes against RM Kasher's publication of Kol Hator.

If necessary, I can try and find out more.


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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:16:56 -0800
From: "Newman,Saul Z" <Saul.Z.Newman@kp.org>
if the sefer tora is pasul

http://www.ott.co.il/psila_print.html  chart of what to do...

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 20:37:50 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Recognizing machlokes in the sources

gil@aishdas.org wrote:
>I am at a loss to understand how R' Daniel Eidensohn is reading the piece
>by RE Wasserman. I am sending it as an attachment and requesting from
>Micha to post it to the AishDas website.
>[See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/rew.pdf> -mi]

I think we should put aside the issue of suicide for the moment and deal
with the issue of how you can establish that there is a machlokes. You
seem to be asserting that when an apparent disparity is noted that
indicates the existence of a machlokes while I am saying that it is
only an indication that there might be a machlokes. I don't deny that
Rav Elchonon might have believed there was a machlokes nor do I deny
that in fact there might have been a machlokes rishonim. I do deny that
the evidence available justifies asserting that there is a machlokes or
that Rav Elchonon believed there was one. This issue applies also in
the area of gemora, agada and halacha where one can assert that every
apparent disagreement is a dispute or that in fact that the disparate
statements can be resolved.

We were taught in yeshiva to minimize what we labeled as machlokes and to
only use that characterization when it was stated as such in the gemora,
rishonim or major achronim. Otherwise our job was to attempt to reconcile
the apparent disparity. Only if reconciliation failed did we say that
there might be a machlokes.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 20:53:55 +0200 (IST)
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>

What happened to Lot after the destruction of Sodom and the affair with
his daughters?
In particukar did he thank Abraham - have any contact with him?

Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 22:21:08 +0200 (IST)
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
pidyon shivuim

In one of this week's parsha pages there was a short discussion by
R. Rosen on some halachot of pidyon shivuim.

Does anyone know of any places that discusses this in greater detail?

Eli Turkel

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Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 17:54:30 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zsero@free-market.net>
The Name in Arabic

"Jonathan S. Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca> wrote:
>>There are rishonim who class "A-llah" differently than other such
>>names. It is cognate to the Hebrew "Elo-ah"...

> I always thought that "A-llah" was cognate with the Hebrew "Illah"
> (ayin, lamed, heh), meaning the first cause (this would still be midas
> hadin). I don't know arabic though, so am perhaps mistaken.

It is an alif, not an ayn. But the alif is not part of the shoresh.
The initial `al' is the definite article, as in `al-Quds' or `al-Qaeda';
the word itself is `LLah', spelled `lam-with-dagesh, ha'.

Zev Sero                I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that
zsero@free-market.net   article of the Constitution which granted a
                         right to Congress of expending, on objects of
                         benevolence, the money of their constituents.
                                                     - James Madison

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Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 22:16:31 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
From Lot to David HaMelech

Chazal are very emphatic that a ger gets a whole new yichus when he
converts, and that his descendants are in no way "related" to his
physical ancestors.

Chazal also make a very big deal about how David HaMelech is descended
from Ruth, and is therefore also a descendant of Lot and Moav.

The two statements above seem to contradict each other, and I'm trying to
figure out how to reconcile them. Any suggestions? Perhaps I'm mistaken
about one or the other?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 05:23:31 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Adm: Call for Contributors; Melaveh Malkah photos

By now you should have received the 1st issue of Mesukim MiDevash.
If not, check it out at <http://www.aishdas.org/mesukim>.

Each week, Mesukim will have three divrei Torah, one each on machshavah,
mussar and tefillah (peshat and peirush, not halakhah). In order to do
that, we need regular contributors. If you wish to be on the list of
people we ask, kindly let me know.

While discussing administrative matters... Pictures from the recent
Avodah melavah malkah at R' Carl and Rn Adina Sherer's home are on-line
at <http://www.aishdas.org/pics>.


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: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 18:53:54 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
Midrash Talpiyos

Anyne know of an edition of Midrash Talpiyos [by the baal Shevet Mussar]
which includes sources?


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Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 12:37:33 +0100
From: "B. Rosenberg (br@ettyketty.ch)" <br@ettyketty.ch>
Vav Hahipuch and Vav hachibur


The hebrew language knows the vav hahipuch, while the aramaic language
does not have this construction. Therefore whenever the hebrew says
Vayedaber or Diber, which are the two forms of past tense, with hipuch
and without it, the Targum will always say "Malil" (past). But indeed,
whenever we find Vayedaber in Hebrew the Targum always says "U-MALIL",
which proves, that besides transforming the future (yedaber) to a past
(= Malil), the vav still needs to be translated as a prefix "U-", proving
that a vav hahipuch always remains a vav hachibur, too. See for instance
Rashi Yehoshua, 1,1.

This issue has been treated very extensively in a sefer published by
Vagshal (Moznayim) in 2001, by the name "Davar Tov" al Hatorah (660
pages), in a special Kuntress named Vavey Ha'amudim (beginning at page
126 of the Sefer).

Best regards.

Dov Berysz Rosenberg
[Author of the Sefer "Davar Tov", and also of the Pirush "Pesher Davar"
on Ibn Ezra's Commentary to Megillath EICHA (also published by Vagshal,
in the year 2003)]

P.S. - BTW at page 126 and 127 of Davar Tov, you will find a footnote
with 21 different functions of Vav HaChibur listed!

P.P.S. - Concerning the discussion about words terminating with vav-tav,
like cheruth, please consider another, similar word, i.e. brith
[terminating with jud-tav]. I believe that there is a machloketh
between Rashi and the Ramban on this subject. Compare Bereshith 31,44
... nichreta brith ... vehaya le'ed beyni u'veynecha. Rashi says vehaya -
HKBH, while Ramban disagrees and says that it refers to the Brith itself.

I believe that Rashi holds that the word Brith is exclusively of
feminin gender, therefore the masculin verb "vehaya" can only refer to
HKBH. On the other hand Ramban holds that Brith can be masculin, too
[and of course also feminin, compare for instance Devarim 5,3: Habrith
hazoth]. Therefore he has no problem referring vahaya to the brith. See
Sefer Hashorashim of RADAK (under shoresh B-R-T), where he quotes two
opinions, whether in the word BRITH the tav is part of the shoresh or
not . I believe that according to Rashis opinion the tav does not belong
to the shoresh. Therefore he considers the tav as being shimushit, what
proves the word being of feminin gender, like all words terminating with
tav (mishmereth, tifereth, etc.).

Ramban will follow the secon opinion, considering the tav as being the
third letter of the shoresch B-R-T and therefore not proving anything
as to the gender (like the shoresch B-Y-T or the shoresch Sch-B-T -
Bayith can be masculin, Shabath can be masculin).

On the other side I must mention the Hakdamah of Ibn Tibon to his
translation of More Nevuchim, where he says that even words terminating
with tav do not necessarely be feminin. This opinion is widely spread
in all the tefilloth where the word Zechuth is used as masculin,
e.g. zechuto yagen aleynu [see the piyut Kel Mistater, in the Zemiroth
of Seudo Shelishit].

Dr. Berysz Rosenberg
Weststrasse 51
CH-8036 Zurich (Switzerland)

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Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 00:27:49 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba233@optusnet.com.au>
Verachtsu ragleichem..

On 'Verachtsu Ragleichem', Rashi says that AO thought that the Malochim
were Arabs - who worship 'avak ragleihem'.

Is there a mention anywhere else regarding such a weird and ridiculous AZ?

I have heard and seen drushim about it being meramez on those who think
that parnoso and riches comes from running after it [thus 'bringing up
a dust'] - crediting any success to 'avak ragleihem'. But a poshut pshat
would also be nice.


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Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 12:44:22 -0500
From: "Jonathan S. Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
Why Jewishness is determined by the mother

I am looking for meforshim who explain why (a) the Jewishness of a child
is determined by the mother; (b) before Matan Tora by the father; (c)
by gentiles it still goes by the father (e.g. who is a Moavi).

Any pointers to meforshim would be most appreciated.


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Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 09:55:46 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Lot and David Hamelech

> Chazal are very emphatic that a ger gets a whole new yichus when he
> converts, and that his descendants are in no way "related" to his
> physical ancestors.

> Chazal also make a very big deal about how David HaMelech is descended
> from Ruth, and is therefore also a descendant of Lot and Moav.

To be brief, I offer a an apparent thread that runs from Lot through
Ruth to David Hamelech.

As is known, Lot remaqins an enigma. What could induce the faithful
servant of Avram to abandon his master, and with him, his G-d? Lot
was rewarded for not betraying Sara's secret to the Egyptians but
wouldn't that be the minimum expected from a nephew? And how quickly
after coming from Mitsraim, he turns sour; so much so that he is called
wicked by Rashi.

One solution to these problems can come from considering the personality
of Lot's father - Haran. As Rashi brings at the end of Noach, Haran was
a follower; he said "if Nimrod wins I am with him but if Avram wins I
go with him". Like fathers, like sons.

Lot was a follower and as such, he would have been strongly drawn
after the power and glory and wealth that he had seen in Egypt. He
was rewarded precisely for remaining faithful to Avram, against his
own natural proclivities. Lot was, however, ultimately drawn after the
wealth of Egypt and chose to move to Sodom, "like the land of Egypt ,
like the garden of G-d", evil though it may have been.

These trait of being a follower is evident also in his descendents-Oprah
and Ruth. We do not always have the option to renounce our inheritance and
remain bound by it... but we can choose how to use it. Ruth followed Naomi
but Ruth returned to follow the multitudes and that night was inseminated
by a 100 moabits, as the Midrash tells out. From this came Golias.

David followed only G-d and not men. He was a leader in the temporal
sphere and a faithful follower in the world of spirit. David represents
Redemption for he, in himself, paved the way of Redemption- he has shown
how one does escape the inherited limitations that bind us. Theougfh
him we can understand and apply this quality of working with what we
have in a transformative fashion as he did.

M. Levin  

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