Avodah: Volume 12, Number 65

Friday, December 26 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
  1. Email file (TZAAR.TXT)
  2. Tzaar Baalei Chayim and Kashrus
  3. (Fwd) Re: Moed Katan 028: Chasan sitting at the head
  4. RE: lighting Chanuka candles in shul
  5. Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?
  6. RE: Tzaar Baalei Chayim and Kashrus
  7. Chumros
  8. From "Daf Discuss" by Kollel Iyun Hadaf
  9. Re: Chanukah Lights and Late Work
  10. Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?
  11. Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?
  12. The shape of the Menorah of the Temple

Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 17:07:44 +0200 (IST)
From: BAC...@vms.HUJI.AC.IL
Subject:
Email file (TZAAR.TXT)


Based on a biblical verse (Exodus 23:5), the Talmud (Shabbat 128b;
Bava Metzia 32b) prohibits cruelty to animals and this prohibition was
codified by the Rambam (Hilchot Rotzeach 13:1) and the Shulchan Aruch
(Choshen Mishpat 272:9). However, the Rema (Even HaEzer 5:14) indicates
that if there is any human need, the prohibition is overturned (see also:
Biur haGRA there s"k 40, and the Noda B'Yehuda Mahadura Tinyana Yoreh
Deah 10 as brought in the Pitchei Tshuva YD 28 s"k 10). See also: Shvut
Yaakov III 71, Chelkat Yaakov I 30, Sridei Eish III 7, Chiddushei Chatam
Sofer on Messechet Shabbat 154b, Binyan Tzion 108, Tzitz Eliezer XIV 68,
and the Trumat haDeshen Psakim uKtavim 105.

FORCE FEEDING GEESE

It just so happens that force feeding geese may induce a state of
*neveila* rendering the animal not kosher (See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah,
Hilchot Treifot 33:3 re: "turbez ha'veshet" [perforation of the pharynx]
and YD 33:8 in the Rema. HOWEVER: the Rema in the next paragraph 33:8
rules leniently re: geese that are force fed since "it has been the custom
in our city [Krakow] to be lenient in the case of geese that are being fed
by hand for the purpose of fattening them because there is an ordinance
in the city which requires that geese be examined for perforations of
the esophagus..". The TAZ there explains why it is permitted to force
feed the geese. HOWEVER: he requires that only finely ground food is
fed to the geese to prevent any perforations.

Dr. Josh Backon
bac...@vms.huji.ac.il


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 17:13:06 +0200
From: Zoo Torah <zoora...@zootorah.com>
Subject:
Tzaar Baalei Chayim and Kashrus


Zev Sero <zs...@free-market.net> wrote:
> Anything that is for an actual purpose, rather than for the sake of
> torturing the animal, or pure laziness, is not included in the issur of
> Tzaar Baalei Chayim.
...
> So the production of fois gras does not involve a problem of Tzaar Baalei
> Chayim

Although it is true that tzaar baalei chayim is permitted for human needs,
it seems from several sources that *extreme* tzaar is not permitted for
a *trivial* need. Accordingly, the modern methods of producing fois gras
(I am unsure if it was done in such a cruel way in previous eras) would
not seem to be permissible. Of course, this alone does not render the
liver treif, but it is reason to avoid supporting such an industry.

Nosson Slifkin
www.zootorah.com


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 17:15:04 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <she...@actcom.co.il>
Subject:
(Fwd) Re: Moed Katan 028: Chasan sitting at the head


Perhaps this is the svara for the sitting at the chupa thread.

-- Carl

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Re: Moed Katan 028: Chasan sitting at the head

The Kollel replied:
>>The source for the rule of "Chasan Domeh l'Melech" is a Midrash (Pirkei
>>d'Rebbi Eliezer). It is not mentioned in the Gemara.

Joel Schnur <j...@schnurassociates.com> adds:
Your mentioning of "choson dome l'melech" affords me the opportunity
to share with your readership a mistaken impression that the olam may
have in regard to the inyan of people standing when the choson comes
down the aisle. Many think/say that it is because of "choson dome
l'melech" that they are getting up yet they should be aware that Rav
Moshe Feinstein never stood because he used to say, "doi-meh (L)melech NOT
(Ki)melech. (Watch his sons or talmidim muvhakim at the next chasuhah.)

Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky stood but for a totally different reason. The
question of L'melech or K'melech never entered into consideration as the
"choson" is not a true choson until AFTER the chuppah. Reb "Yankev"
stood purely because of the mishna in Bikurim, perek gimmel, mishnah
gimmel, that discusses the bringing of bikurim and the rule of standing
"lif-nai oisei mitzva" and since the choson is entering into a chupah
which will enable him to be mekayeim the mitzvah of pe'ru u'revu, we
stand. The Rav expands on this and brings down the inyan of standing
for nosei mais and ma'vee tinok l'bris. We are therefore not standing
for the mais or the kvatter, which is a mistaken impression, but for
the people involved in doing the mitzva, the oisei mitzvah. As to why
we don't stand for everyone doing a mitzvah, it's for a miztvah that is
mei-kama zman l'zman, not a regular occurrence (see nosei kalim).

The question remains as to a justification for why people stand for
the kallah since she is not K' malka (see rav Moshe and Reb Yaakov
above) and is patur from mitzvas peru u'revu. Rav Avraham Kamentsky,
Rav Yaakov's son, told me that one can say that since the choson cannot
be mekayeim the mitzvah without her, she has a chelek in the mitzvah
and thus qualifies for "lif-nai oisei mitzvah." He also said that his
late father used to say that the best thing you can do for someone
is to provide them with a new thought that takes them to a new/higher
derech. In the Rosh Yeshiva's zehus, may we be zocheh.

Kol Tuv and keep up the wonderful work of being marbitz Torah l'rabim.

Joel Schnur

To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send email to
majord...@shemayisrael.com with this text in the body of the message:
unsubscribe daf-discuss



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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 16:12:42 -0500
From: "Seth Mandel" <s...@aishdas.org>
Subject:
RE: lighting Chanuka candles in shul


In Avodah V12 #63, R. Ari Kahn wrote a very nice post about the subject,
most is correct in my opinion. I did want to discuss one side issue that
he mentioned.

He explains that there are two obligations, one to light candles and the
other to see the lights; one is "to perform the mitzva of Pirsumei Nisa,
and to experience the Pirsumei Nisa."

As R. Kahn himself notes, it is not just any pirsumei nissa. He doubts
that a flashlight would be good. Let me add: suppose someone erected a
huge billboard with neon lights describing the Nes that HQB'H did for
us in those days at this time of year. Would anyone claim that you can
make a brokho on erecting the sign? Hazal decreed that the mitzva is
only lighting nerot, and even lighting 8 torches, according to Hazal,
does not fulfill the mitzva, and so one would not be allowed to make a
brokho on lighting them. Why, are torches any less pirsumei nissa? No,
but they do not fulfill the mitzva d'rabbonon of lighting nerot.

The g'moro says the mitzva is only in one's house, or, if one has no
house, in the house where one is staying. For this reason, questions
were raised about the minhag in Ashk'naz and Italy to light in shul.
(Let me note that half of k'lal Yisroel never lit in shul: prior to the
SA, neither the S'faradim nor the Teimanim apparently knew of such a
minhog.) The Tur just notes it as an established minhog, only discussing
where the candles should be lit in shul. The Beit Yosef brings a t'shuva
of the RiVa'Sh, where he says that it indeed is an old minhog, and
was established "because of pirsumei nissa since we cannot perform the
mitzva properly by each one lighting outsede the doorway of his house,
because we are under the dominion of the goyim. One makes a b'rokho on
this [lighting in shul] just as one makes a b'rokho on Hallel on Rosh
Chodesh, even though it is only a minhog. Nevertheless, no one fulfills
an obligation by lighting in shul and everyone must light in his house."
The SA brings this minhog on the basis of the Ashk'naz rishonim.

It is absolutely clear that the RiVa'Sh admits that the only
justification for making a b'rokho on lighting in shul is that according
to accepted p'saq halokho in Ashk'naz, we can make a b'rokho on an
established minhog. He does not say we can make a b'rokho on pirsumei
nissa. Furthermore, he suggests that the only reason for the custom of
lighting in shul is because in those days Jews could only light inside
the house, as they indeed did: _not_ in the window (most did not have
glass windows in his time) and certainly not outside. Whether he would
say it is proper to continue the custom nowadays, when in America of the
21st century Jews can light in their windows without fear (which was not
the case even 100 years ago in many places in Europe nor in America),
it is impossible to know. In addition, his justification of saying a
b'rokho in shul is fine for Ashk'naz, where the custom was practiced.
However, several S'faradi rishonim hold that one can never make a b'rokho
on a minhog, even an old accepted minhog among Jews, and so, according
to them, one would not make a b'rokho on Hallel on Rosh Hodesh, nor on
lighting candles in shul.

Thus the justification for saying a b'rokho over lighting in shuls was
given fairly narrow application. The Ashk'naz rishonim even devote a
significant amount of time to discussing where one must light in shul,
even though as far as pirsumei nissa goes, the shul is all the same. As
R. Kahn notes, many shuls "light even in the morning to publicize the
miracle, but there is no bracha or mitzvah performed."

And so, I feel that that something R. Kahn mentions is misleading:
"The lighting in shul does not fulfill the obligation to light, it
is a special law designed to spread pirsumi nisa independently of the
obligation to light. This is a special law in a Shul, and may be extended
to a Town Square."

The custom of lighting with a b'rokho was specifically in shul, not
outside. Were one to create a new custom of lighting in a Town Square,
we are back to square one: one cannot make a b'rokho over any pirsumei
nissa, only over an established minhog that goes back to antiquity (and
perhaps is performed in shul). There was no custom _anywhere in the world_
of lighting outside the shul until the last few decades. To suggest that
a b'rokho could be made on lighting in Town Square, especially since now
we can light in windows, is suggesting that people can make a b'rokho
over any pirsumei nissa and such a b'rokho would be a b'rokho l'vattolo.

Seth Mandel


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 11:29:16 EST
From: T6...@aol.com
Subject:
Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?


In  Avodah V12 #64 dated 12/25/03 "Carl Sherer" <she...@actcom.co.il> writes:
>> He could have revoked the bracha at that moment. After all, when he
>> bentshed Yakov he had Esav in zinnen....                    Instead,
>> he confirmed mida'as what he had first done shelo mida'as. [--Old TK]

> This also doesn't shtim with Yitzchak specifically giving Birkas 
> Avraham to Yaakov (and not as part of these brachos). If Yitzchak was 
> so completely fooled by Eisav, why wouldn't he have given Birkas 
> Avraham to Yaakov as part of the first bracha? [--RCS]

He was not completely fooled. He knew Esav was an outdoorsy kind of guy
and that Yakov was a gentleman and a scholar. He thought they could have
a Yisachar-Zevulun relationship, with the older brother providing the
parnassa and the younger being the talmid chacham. He knew the talmid
chacham was the heir to Birkas Avraham.

Yitzchak meant to give Yakov additional brachos, spiritual brochos.
"Zolst oisvaksen ah tzaddik ah talmid chacham etc." The brachos he
ended up giving Yakov were the ones he had meant to give Esav, and they
are blessings for parnassah and material abundance, which he thought a
Zevulun would need in order to sustain a Yisachar.

Rivka, having a better idea of what her boys were really like, wanted
Yitzchak to give Yakov blessings for BOTH material abundance AND
intellectual and spiritual wealth. Giving the rasha the means to provide
(or withhold) sustenance to the tzaddik didn't seem like such a good idea
to her. But she couldn't persuade Yitzchak--until her ruse persuaded
him that she knew better.

Yitzchak HAD planned to bentsh both sons, but he couldn't just swap the
brachos. Having given Esav's bracha, the blessing for material success,
to Yakov, he couldn't just go ahead and now give Yakov's blessing to Esav.
A bracha to shteig in his learning and achieve great madreigos in ruchnius
would not be very meaningful or useful to Esav.

>> The reason I said before that the charge of rechilus against Yitzchak
>> is anachronistic is that the Chofetz Chaim's sefer had not been written
>> yet in Yitzchak's day. [--Old TK]

> But the halachos applied.... And the rishonim all say that the avos
> kept kol ha'Torah kula 

Call me miketanei emunah, I don't believe the Avos kept every jot and
tittle of the halachos as written in the Chofetz Chaim or Mishna Berurah.
I don't even

know if they were kept exactly as written by all the gedolim who lived
just a hundred years ago.

Neither the Chumash itself nor Chazal shy away from commenting when the
Avos and Imahos do something wrong, even something so slightly wrong
that for an ordinary person it wouldn't be wrong at all. Yet I never
ever heard a commentary saying that Yakov was guilty of rechilus here.
To me the very suggestion smacks of hubris and chutzpa on OUR part,
that we read a modern sefer and presume to judge Yitzchak Avinu, when
there is no source for such condemnation.

What Yitzchak said to Esav was perfectly reasonable under the
circumstances.

You really have to have sechel when you apply halachos. R' Bensinger
said in a shiur, and I have heard others say it, that the first mitzva
for a Jew is to have sechel.

 -Toby Katz


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:03:11 +0200
From: "Avi Burstein" <a...@tenagurot.com>
Subject:
RE: Tzaar Baalei Chayim and Kashrus


>> So the production of fois gras does not involve a problem
>> of Tzaar Baalei Chayim...

> Although it is true that tzaar baalei chayim is permitted for human
> needs, it seems from several sources that *extreme* tzaar is not
> permitted for a *trivial* need. Accordingly, the modern methods of
> producing fois gras would not seem to be permissible.

Not to mention that there is no such thing as a "need" to eat this type
of fowl. There's plenty of alternatives that don't involve any such
treatment of the animal.

Avi Burstein


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 15:41:35 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.du...@juno.com>
Subject:
Chumros


I'm looking to compile a list of bona fide chumros. Emphasis on what
are known as "Brisker" chumros, but they can be any valid chumros.
Not meshugassen, which is why this is going to Avodah and not Areivim;
to spare me the narishkeit.

TIA

Gershon
gershon.du...@juno.com


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 15:43:20 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.du...@juno.com>
Subject:
From "Daf Discuss" by Kollel Iyun Hadaf


Joel Schnur <j...@schnurassociates.com> adds:
Your mentioning of "choson dome l'melech" affords me the opportunity to
share with your readership a mistaken impression that the olam may have
in regard to the inyan of people standing when the choson comes down
the aisle. Many think/say that it is because of "choson dome l'melech"
that they are getting up yet they should be aware that Rav Moshe
Feinstein never stood because he used to say, "doi-meh (L)melech NOT
(Ki)melech. (Watch his sons or talmidim muvhakim at the next chasuhah.)

Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky stood but for a totally different reason. The
question of L'melech or K'melech never entered into consideration as the
"choson" is not a true choson until AFTER the chuppah. Reb "Yankev"
stood purely because of the mishna in Bikurim, perek gimmel, mishnah
gimmel, that discusses the bringing of bikurim and the rule of standing
"lif-nai oisei mitzva" and since the choson is entering into a chupah
which will enable him to be mekayeim the mitzvah of pe'ru u'revu, we
stand. The Rav expands on this and brings down the inyan of standing
for nosei mais and ma'vee tinok l'bris. We are therefore not standing
for the mais or the kvatter, which is a mistaken impression, but for
the people involved in doing the mitzva, the oisei mitzvah. As to why
we don't stand for everyone doing a mitzvah, it's for a miztvah that is
mei-kama zman l'zman, not a regular occurrence (see nosei kalim).

The question remains as to a justification for why people stand for
the kallah since she is not K' malka (see rav Moshe and Reb Yaakov
above) and is patur from mitzvas peru u'revu. Rav Avraham Kamentsky,
Rav Yaakov's son, told me that one can say that since the choson cannot
be mekayeim the mitzvah without her, she has a chelek in the mitzvah
and thus qualifies for "lif-nai oisei mitzvah." He also said that his
late father used to say that the best thing you can do for someone
is to provide them with a new thought that takes them to a new/higher
derech. In the Rosh Yeshiva's zehus, may we be zocheh.

Gershon
gershon.du...@juno.com


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 21:44:14 +0000
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Chanukah Lights and Late Work


On Mon, Dec 22, 2003 at 06:54:47PM -0500, Kenneth G Miller wrote:
: Okay, so according to the Brisker, would a person fulfill Pirsumei Nisa
: if he acted as R' Gil suggested, by walking around town all evening
: carring a properly lit menorah?

One can fulfil the de'Oraisa of tefillah by simply saying "Thanks for
everything, G-d." However, Chazal made a particular matbei'ah with which
to daven. Even down to the extent that if someone says the wrong version
(e.g. "HaKel haqadosh" during 10 yemei teshuvah) one could have to
repeat the Shemoneh Esrei.

Was he not yotzei tefillah de'Oraisa the first time around?

I think this is an exact parallel to your question. Which fits RGS's
reply to RCMarkowitz. On Tue, Dec 23, 2003 at 09:21:11AM -0600, Gil
Student wrote:
:> The Brisker Rav is quoted as learning the Rambam as saying that
:> the real chiyuv is one of persumei nisa. It is just that chazal
:> were miskain that the way one is m'kayeim the mitzvah is thru
:> hadlaka.

: Everything I said is consistent with this. Because Chazal were mesakein
: how the kiyum should be done, we cannot go around making up new ways to be
: mekayem the mitzvah.

Just as we would not trying writing our own replacement for Shemoneh
Esrei.

Later in the same email RGS addresses an email from RCSherer:
:> In the Hagahos Baruch Ta'am (in the standard Shulchan
:> Aruch) OH 671, he writes that if an achsanai bentched
:> in shul, he cannot make a bracha when he gets to his
:> achsanya.

: This is a very difficult statement. If you look in his wording, he writes
: that an achsanai is yotzei in shul ONLY if someone is lighting for him at
: home. The poskim have a lot of trouble making sense out of this....

On Tue, Dec 23, 2003 at 10:37:00PM +0200, R' Ari Kahn addresses the
same difficulty:
: To perform the mitzvah of Persumie Nisa, and to experience the Pirsumie
: Nisa. This is why we make two blessings. I am aware that what I just
: wrote is following one line in the rishonim, but I want to exaggerate
: this point in order to make the issues understandable.

: If one will not perform the mitzvah himself i.e. he is away from home
: he should then make the bracha on pirsumie nisa - sheasa nissim when he
: sees Chanuka lights.

: Hence the opinion that if a guest hears the bracha in shul, and will not
: light by himself he is yozie - pirsumie nisa, hence it is probably best
: for such a guest to actually light in shul.

1- Only one berakhah has the matbei'ah of a birkhas hamitzvah. The other
lacks "asher qidishanu bemitzvosav" and appears to be more about the neis
itself. In response to the PN, not a berakhah on the qiyum of PN.

2- Efshar lomar that there are certainly tvei dinim: on the house and on
the gavra. The machloqes rishonim could be understood as whether these
two dinim also differ by a 2nd chiluq.

The opinion RAK uses would say that the chiyuv on the bayis is that it
be used for performing PN, and the one on the gavra that he experience PN.

However, it could be that the other tzad holds there is a chiyuv that
the house be used for PN, and the second din is a chiyuv gavra that he
do a PN.

This would allow the pesaq to make sense regardless of which side of
the machloqes rishonim one takes.

Later in that post RAK asks about using a flashlight when caught on an
airplane for a night of Chanukah:
: If you suggest that a flash light is good, then why not the overhead
: light on top of the seat?, I doubt that is good in any case.

Perhaps it depends how one deals with the problem of their not being 30
min of shemen at the time of lighting. A flashlight contains 30 min of
electricity within its battery at the time you turn it on.

-mi

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



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Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 00:27:08 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <she...@actcom.co.il>
Subject:
Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?


On 25 Dec 2003 at 11:29, T6...@aol.com wrote:
> Yitzchak HAD planned to bentsh both sons, but he couldn't just swap the
> brachos. Having given Esav's bracha, the blessing for material success,
> to Yakov, he couldn't just go ahead and now give Yakov's blessing to Esav.
> A bracha to shteig in his learning and achieve great madreigos in ruchnius
> would not be very meaningful or useful to Esav.

I wasn't suggesting that. I was suggesting that since Eisav had no
clue what bracha Yitzchak intended to give him, Yitzchak could have
substituted a different bracha. Or he could have just told Eisav that
he's really sorry, but someone else came along and took his bracha -
without saying that it was Ya'akov. Maybe Eisav would have figured out
that it was Ya'akov. But HKB"H himself told Yehoshua to go make a goral
rather than telling Yehoshua that it was Achan who took from the cherem
("v'chi diltura ana").

>>> The reason I said before that the charge of rechilus against Yitzchak
>>> is anachronistic is that the Chofetz Chaim's sefer had not been written
>>> yet in Yitzchak's day. [--Old TK]

>> But the halachos applied.... And the rishonim all say that the avos
>> kept kol ha'Torah kula 

> Call me miketanei emunah, I don't believe the Avos kept every jot and
> tittle of the halachos as written in the Chofetz Chaim or Mishna Berurah.

Maybe. Rav Asher Weiss in Minchas Asher on Breishis (Siman 42) brings 
views that way. But even then, we would have to know why. If Yitzchak 
Avinu said rechilus about Ya'akov to Eisav, we have to assume that 
there  was a toeles. What was it? 

> know if they were kept exactly as written by all the gedolim who lived
> just a hundred years ago.

If you think that the Chafetz Chaim made up Hilchos Lashon Hara and 
Rechilus on his own, I vehemently disagree. The entire sefer is based 
upon Rishonim - largely the Rambam and Rabbeinu Yonah, but also the 
Smag and the Yereim (and of course, Rashi and Tosfos) among others. 
And those are all backed up by Gemaras.

One Gemara that seems (to me anyway) to be applicable to this 
situation is the Gemara in Bava Basra 164b beginning 17 lines from 
the bottom "HaHu M'kushar." In that Gemara, a get m'kushar (a get 
that was designed for Kohanim with the signatures folded over several 
times inside so that it would take a long time to write and the 
Kohain would calm down in the interim and decide not to divorce his 
wife) is brought before Rebbe, and Rebbe says that there is no stated 
time in it. His son Rav Shimon says, "maybe it's between the folds." 
Rebbe opens the get and in fact this is the case. Rebbe gives him a 
dirty look, and Rav Shimon looks at him and says "I didn't write it - 
Rav Yehuda Chayta wrote it." And Rebbe tells him "klach m'lashon hara 
ha'zeh." 

You might say, "aha, but Rav Shimon said something bad.... Read 
on.... Another time Rav Shimon was sitting in front of Rebbe when 
Rebbe was reading from Sefer Tehillim, and Rebbe said to his son, 
"look how straight the writing is" and Rav Shimon looks at him and 
says "I didn't write it - Rav Yehuda Chayta wrote it." And Rebbe 
tells him "klach m'lashon hara ha'zeh." 

And the Gemara asks, meilah the first case Rav Shimon said lashon 
hara, but where is the lashon hara in the second case? And the Gemara 
answers that we learn in the name of Rav Dimi that one should never 
speak his friend's good because from the good, he will come to speak 
the bad. This is brought l'halacha by the Rambam (Deios 7:4). 

 From here the Chafetz Chaim learns (Hilchos Lashon Hara 10:17 and 
Be'er Mayim Chaim ("BMC") there 42-43) that even if one is suspected 
of having done something bad, he is not permitted to say "I didn't do 
it - Ploni did it." He can only say "I didn't do it." 

But the Chafetz Chaim goes further. He says (BMC 43) that if by 
saying "I didn't do it" the person asking will figure out that Ploni 
did it, then unless it is "b'emes davar she'aino hagun" he can push 
the thing off himself and the other side will thereby figure out who 
did it. He proves this from a Gemara in Sanhedrin 11a (which I am too 
lazy to copy out right now, but it's two incidents - the extra man in 
the attic and the talmid who chewed garlic before shiur). 

 From all of these, it seems that Yitzchak Avinu would have been 
allowed to say that he gave the bracha to someone else, but he should 
not have said that it was Ya'akov, and almost certainly he should not 
have mentioned 'b'mirma' even if we accept the Targum's emendation to 
'b'chochma.'

> Neither the Chumash itself nor Chazal shy away from commenting when the
> Avos and Imahos do something wrong, even something so slightly wrong
> that for an ordinary person it wouldn't be wrong at all. Yet I never
> ever heard a commentary saying that Yakov was guilty of rechilus here.

Yaakov wasn't. Yitzchak might have been. Unless there was a toeles. 

> To me the very suggestion smacks of hubris and chutzpa on OUR part,
> that we read a modern sefer and presume to judge Yitzchak Avinu, when
> there is no source for such condemnation.

I'm not presuming to judge. And as I noted at the outset it wasn't my 
question. My son came home yesterday from Yeshiva and if there is an 
answer, Rabbi Hartman has not given it to them yet (although my son 
suggested I print this thread out for Rabbi Hartman, but I may try to 
bounce him the emails instead). 

> What Yitzchak said to Esav was perfectly reasonable under the
> circumstances.

No one said it wasn't reasonable and no one is perfect. But 
reasonable is not necessarily the same as halachically correct. And 
if the Avos - who were about as close to perfection as one can get - 
did something that seems 'wrong' to us, we should ask why. 

> You really have to have sechel when you apply halachos. R' Bensinger
> said in a shiur, and I have heard others say it, that the first mitzva
> for a Jew is to have sechel.

Actually, the line is that the fifth chelek of Shulchan Aruch is 
common sense, and I think it's from the Kotzker. But that doesn't 
mean we're not obligated to weigh carefully every word we say. 

 - 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. 


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 17:44:33 EST
From: T6...@aol.com
Subject:
Re: Did Yitzchok Avinu Speak Rechilus?


In a message dated 12/25/03 5:27:41 PM EST, she...@actcom.co.il writes:
>> Neither the Chumash itself nor Chazal shy away from commenting when the
>> Avos and Imahos do something wrong, even something so slightly wrong
>> that for an ordinary person it wouldn't be wrong at all. Yet I never
>> ever heard a commentary saying that Yakov was guilty of rechilus here.

> Yaakov wasn't. Yitzchak might have been. Unless there was a toeles. 

I meant to say Yitzchak.

 -Toby Katz


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Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 19:42:10 -0500
From: "Seth Mandel" <s...@aishdas.org>
Subject:
The shape of the Menorah of the Temple


The subject of the exact shape and structure of various kelim used in
the Beis haMiqdosh (BhM) has not been traditionally a matter of much
concern to Jews who learned. In most communities, Jews concentrated on
the sections of the g'moro that had practical relevance, such as
B'rakhot, Seder Mo'ed, Seder Nashim, Seder N'ziqin, Hullin, and sections
of M'nahot. The rules of z'ra'im, qodoshim, and taharot were mostly
abandoned, left, as the Rambam says, as a stone that no one turns over.
Included in qodoshim were the rules of the qorbanot and the rules of the
structure of the BhM, its kelim, and bigdei k'hunna. This was true of
all communities, including the S'faradim and Teimanim. There were only a
few in K'lal Yisra'el who bothered with the issues, mostly chaburos (in
all the communities) who learned mishnayos, or the Teimanim, who
traditionally had a seder limmud every day in the Mishneh Torah, or
individual talmidei chachomim who learned the entire Torah, regardless
of practical relevance.

Indeed, there seems to be little practical relevance nowadays to the
dinim of k'lei haMiqdosh. Without the prospect of rebuilding the BhM,
there is no need for the kelim or the bigdei k'hunna. There was a short
period of excitement before the founding of the State of Israel, when
there was a lively discussion among the g'dolim of Y'rushalayim about
the possibility of renewing the offering of at least some qorbanot.
Outside of that time, the halokhos of the BhM were never discussed from
a practical point of view, either because some held that the Third
Temple would be and could be set up only miraculously, or because
political realities seem to preclude any foreseeable prospect of
rebuilding.

However, about 20 years ago, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe ob'm instituted
a seder limmud of the Mishneh Torah among his chasidim. He periodically
gave shmuessen about certain sections of the Rambam that was being
learned. In one, in 1982, he explained to his chasidim that according to
the Rambam the Menorah of the BhM did not have rounded arms, as
traditionally depicted, but had straight arms, going up from the side of
the main pole of the menorah at a 45 degree angle to vertical. This
still would have remained within the area of his chiddushim on the
Rambam and of only theoretical interest, were it not for the idea that
the holders for chanuka candles, called Chanuka menoras or, in modern
Hebrew, khanukiyot, should be in the shape of the Menorah of the BhM. In
Likkutei Sichos vol. 21, p. 169 the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, "Based on
this, the menoros used on Chanuka should also be diagonal." A Lubavitch
web site claims that some of the Rebbe's chasidim built a new menorah
based on what their Rebbe had said and put it into 770 Eastern Parkway
during Hanukka 1982 (prior to that time, the Rebbe had used a wooden
menorah, which had arms that went out horizontally and then bent up at
90 degrees to the vertical). In any event, I do not know the source for
the idea that the taqqono of Hazal of neros Hanukka in any way derives
from the halokhos of the Menorah of the BhM; it has no source in the
g'moro nor in the rishonim. Neither the time of lighting, nor the place
of lighting, nor method of lighting, nor the substance to be lit, nor
the holders of the candles are derived by Hazal from the rules of the
Menorah of the BhM. Indeed, regarding the last item, namely the holders
of the candles/oil, there are no halokhos at all. According to Hazal and
the rishonim, you could light in whatever you chose: 8 separate candle
holders, one large bowl with 8 carefully distinguished wicks (by placing
a cover over the bowl), or with one object with 8 holders for candles or
oil. Archeological evidence seems to support the idea that most Jews in
the time of Hazal lit by putting out the appropriate number separate
clay oil holders. But Jewish communities from the medieval period on
used various mostly standardized forms that held candles, made out of
tin, brass, or pottery. Jewish museums hold hundreds of these; it is
very easy to establish that although various depictions, such as a lion,
were common, none that anyone has ever discovered were designed to
imitate any shitta of how the Menorah of the BhM was shaped. Such an
idea, that whatever is used to hold the lights in the house should
imitate the BhM, has no basis either in Jewish tradition nor in Jewish
law. (The g'moro says explicitly that whereas certain oils are preferred
and certain forbidden for Shabbos, there is no preference whatsoever for
Hanukka. There was a custom of some to light with olive oil (not minhag
Ashk'naz, which was to light with wax), but some rishonim interpret that
as having to do with the brightness of the flame. I plan to discuss this
at greater length in a subsequent post, b'n).

Ignoring that for the moment, the question I would like to discuss is
the shape of the Menorah of the BhM.

Rashi, on Sh'mot 25:32 says "Yotz'im mitziddeha: l'khan ul'khan
ba'alakson, nimshakhim v'olim." Since ba'alakson means "diagonally,"
Rashi appears to indicate that the arms of the Menorah were straight.

However, Ibn 'Ezra (ha'arokh) says on Sh'mot 25:32 "qanim: 'agulim
'arukkim," and in 25:37 (haqatzar) "hashisha ne'erakhim zeh 'ahar zeh
bahatzi 'iggul." So it is clear that he thought that the arms were
round. That indeed was the traditional idea, as far as I can tell, for
most people. The fact that the famous arch of Titus depicts a menorah
with semi-circular arms may have something to do with that, but it is
simply a fact that all Jewish drawing of menorahs from the time of
printing (and they were printed in hundreds of s'farim) had not
straight, but curved arms. (See, for example, 4 Medieval drawings of the
Menorah in the BhM in vol. 5 of R. Daniel Sperber's Minhagei Yisrael,
pp. 69-72.)

The Rambam drew a picture of the menorah in Perush haMishnayot ("PhM:)
(M'nahot 3:7) and in the Mishneh Torah (Hil. Bet haB'hirah 3:10) as well
(in both places the original text says "and this is its form"), but
these were not known in the European Jewish world. The printed versions
of the Mishneh Torah omitted the drawing and even excised the words
"v'zo hi tzuratah", and the printers of the PhM made up a picture based
on their own ideas of what the menorah looked like (with round arms,
because, as I said, it was accepted that the arms were round). More
accurate representations of the Rambam's own drawings, however,
continued to be reproduced by the Yemenite scribes in their copies.

The turn in the European Jewish world came when European scholars and
talmidei chachomim started looking in mss. of the Rambam, in old mss. of
the Mishneh Torah, in his writings in the original Arabic, and in
writings of his son R. Avraham, which also were also in Arabic (all of
this happened in the mid-19th Century). All of the above sources showed
that the Rambam drew the Menorah as having straight arms. Yemenite and
very old mss. of the Mishneh Torah, all the copies of the PhM in Arabic
(which were again either Yemenite or old) and a mss. of the PhM which
apparently is was written and drawn by the Rambam himself also shows
that. And in R. Avraham's Perush on the Torah, he specifically says that
the arms were "straight, as my father and teacher drew it, not circular
as others have drawn" (e.g. Ibn 'Ezra, which R. Avraham was aware of,
but I am sure there were many others). Originally only scholars and
talmidei chachomim were aware of the new information, but gradually it
spread. In particular this was thanks to R. Yosef Qafih's edition of PhM
(originally with the Arabic original and the Hebrew translation, but the
Hebrew translation published alone was widely accepted, even in chareidi
circles, because R. Qafih was accepted in the chareidi world and because
his Hebrew was so much clearer than earlier translations). R. Qafih
published a picture from the Rambam's own ms. of the PhM, reproduced
here at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/menorahRambam.jpg (my thanks
to R. Shlomo Goldstein and R. Micha Berger for setting it up). Once this
idea of straight arms became known and accepted people then looked at
Rashi and said "he must agree" (although that does not seem to have
occurred to anyone that I have seen before the Rambam's drawings were
promulgated in the mid 19th Century: one would have thought that one of
the many g'dolim who published books with pictures of the Menorah would
have noted that that is not according to Rashi).

There is no direct qashya with believing that the Rambam held that the
arms of the Menorah were straight. Indeed, the description in the T'NaKh
concentrates mostly on the numbers and placement of the arms and the
various g'vi'im, kaftorim and p'rahim, but does not describe any of them
in detail. The G'mara adds measurements and more halakhot about the
Menorah (such as "what if one gavia' is missing"), but also does not
describe them in detail. So the Rambam's description of the arms, or his
description of a gavia' as a "makhrut ustuwaana," a cone, contradicts no
sources that we know of.

However, there are 2 main problems with the standard interpretation of
the Rambam and his drawing.

  1.. Virtually all drawings of the Menorah from ancient sources show
rounded arms.
  2.. It is impossible that the Rambam's own drawing represents
accurately the shape of the Menorah (even according to the Rambam
himself).
Let me discuss each of these problems, and then we shall see that the
solution to one will solve the other.

  1.. Virtually all drawings of the Menorah from ancient sources show
rounded arms.
Long before the Magen David (originally a decorative emblem and a
magical symbol used by both Gentiles and Jews) became a specifically
Jewish symbol (probably starting in the 14th Century), the Menorah was
one of the primary Jewish symbols. In hundreds of coins, synagogue
paintings and mosaics, and ossuary decorations from the time of the
Hasmoneans through the Byzantine period the primary Jewish symbols were
the Menorah, a lulav and etrog, sometimes a shofar. So there are many,
many drawings and paintings of the Menorah from Jewish sources; we
cannot blame this on a Gentile Roman artist who sculpted the Arch of
Titus. Virtually all show the Menorah with curved arms.

Let me confine my discussion to examples that are the most readily
accessible to people (which I assume the Jewish Encyclopedia ["JE"]and
R. Daniel Sperber's Minhagei Yisrael ["MY", all citations from his
volume 5] are), I will discuss the following examples:

  1.. the coin of Mattitya Antigonos, JE 11:1357 (= MY pp. 172, 174,
176
  2.. wall drawing from a house in the Old City, JE 11:1358 (= MY p.
178 #4)
  3.. paintings from the walls of the Dura-Europos Synagogue, 1) JE
6:301, plate 6 (= MY p. 192), 2) JE 6:277, fig. 3, 3) JE 6:285, fig.
15 (= 6:300, plate 8 = MY p. 183)
  4.. a drawing found in a catacomb in Venosa, Italy, dating back to the
first century, at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/menorahVenosa.jpg
  5.. the Arch of Titus, JE 6:1355 (= MY pp. 185-187, 189-190)
My remarks will be applicable to other drawings as well.

a) and b) in this regard (as well as the rough sketches at the Tomb of
Jason in MY p. 178 #5) are the most important for our purposes, because
they were made by Jews at the time when the BhM was still standing. e)
is next in chronological order, sculpted either in 81 or 94 of the
Common Era, according to MY p. 184: at least a decade after the
destruction, but soon enough after that the sculptor can be assumed to
have seen the original. The pictures at Dura-Europos, OTOH, are from 275
of the Common Era, a couple of centuries later, but they are done by
Jews (the JE brings other representations from the 3rd Century in 6:1357
fig. 3 and 1360-1361). The picture from Venosa may date to the first
century or may be somewhat later.

The first and most crucial question to be addressed is whether the
Menorah in the drawings is indeed supposed to be the Menorah in the
Hekhal of the BhM. R. Qafih is forced to argue that it is not, and is
either a different menorah used somewhere in the BhM or a menorah not
used there at all.

Regarding a) (from 37 BCE, a century before the destruction!), the
political background of the coin is crucial to understand. As R. Sperber
notes on p. 173 note 5, Matitya Antigonos is the successor to Yonatan
Hyrkanos II, who did _not_ claim to title of king (basileus), just to be
the Kohen Gadol. The inscription on the coin, however, says on one side
Matitya haKohen haGadol v'Haver haY'hudim (the latter, literally meaning
"friend of the Jews," at that time had a specific political meaning,
something like "Head of the Jewish Protectorate"). On the other side it
says Basileoos Antigonou [transliterating omega as a double o], Greek
for "of the King Antigonos," meaning the coin was coined under the rule
of King Antigonos (the nominative, "King Antigonos," would normally be
accompanied by a visage or other representation of Antigonos). Matitya
Antigonos (which is the combination of his Hebrew and his Greek name,
although he would never have been called that, any more than R. Velvel
Brisker would have been called Yitzhaq Z'ev Velvel) was emphasizing his
claim to kingship on the coin. It only makes sense, then, for him to use
symbols representing Jewish sovereignty over the Temple. In that
context, he would not use Jewish symbols, say a lulav and etrog, found
on other coins, but only artifacts that represented the BhM. If there
had been another menorah in the BhM that would prove sovereignty other
than the Menorah in the Hekhal, we know nothing about it, and surely
Hazal would have mentioned it somewhere were it so important. In
particular, the Menorah had acquired the connotation of Jewish
sovereignty at the time of the Matitya ben Yohanan and the Hanukka
miracle; Matitya Antigonos, named after his ancestor and a Hasmonean,
would naturally have used the Menorah in the Hekhal as THE symbol of
Jewish sovereignty.

So menorah must be intended to represent the Menorah in the Hekhal. To
be sure, this is a coin, and there is no room for details, like
kaftorim. But, as R. Sperber points out, this is not just a schematic
representation: its dimensions match the dimensions that Hazal gave to
the Menorah in terms of the ratio between the area with the arms vs. the
base below. And what is the shape of the arms? Curved, but by no means
circular like the ones on the Arch of Titus. Rather, they are more like
the arc of an ellipse: they curve most sharply at the bottom and then,
about a third of their length, they become almost straight. You can see
this by comparing the space between the tops of the 7 arms, where the
candles were. On the coin, the tops are all equidistant from each other,
most importantly the two curved arms on either side of the central arm
are the same distance from the central arm as all the other arms are
from each other.. Compare this to e), where the arms are semicircular,
and so the two curved arms nearest the center are further away from the
central arm than the other arms are from each other, and to the Rambam's
drawing (and any other with straight arms, e.g. c3).

The base itself may have had three legs, like both Rashi and the Rambam
say, and all Jewish representations show (see a discussion in MY pp.
177-183), but the coin is rubbed out at the bottom. In any event, it is
clear that it did not have the double-hexagonal base shown in e).

Next is b). This is from a house in the very wealthy, upper class area
of the Upper City of Y'rushalayim, one from which the BhM was actually
visible; the house was destroyed at the time of the Destruction of the
Temple from all indications. Thus it is a representation from the time
that the Menorah still existed. The fact that it is depicted next to a
representation of the Shulhan of the Lehem haPanim proves that it is
meant to be the Menorah in the Hekhal, as do the decorations of
elliptical (egg-shaped) objects on the arms, presumably the kaftorim.
Again, it is not completely detailed (the numbers of the g'vi'im and
kaftorim are not correct, and there are no p'rahim), but the same
comments about a) apply: its relative dimensions are exactly correct; it
shows the same relative size of the tripod base to the arms as does a),
both in terms of height and width, and the arms are curved, but not
semicircular. In fact, they are remarkably similar in shape to those
depicted in a): they are all equidistant from each other, they curve at
the bottom, and about a third of the way up they become almost straight.

Thus we have two depictions, one from a Hasmonean king and one, done 40
to 100 years later, from a man residing in the most prestigious part of
Y'rushalayim overlooking the BhM, both from the time when the Temple
existed, that agree almost exactly in terms of relative dimensions and
the shape of the arms. For this to be a coincidence strains the
imagination.

Proceeding to c), from a synagogue (i.e. Jewish) 200 years later, we
find 3 different drawings. c1) and c2) are virtually identical. The
relative dimensions of the height of the menorah are almost the same as
in a) and b). The base is very clearly much like the Rambam's depiction
(with the caveats that I shall discuss below about the latter) and the
description of Rashi in Sh'mot 25:31, showing three legs underneath a
small dome-shaped base supporting the central arm. The arms are
decorated with knobs and some other things, presumably a representation
of the g'vi'im and kaftorim (and perhaps the p'rahim, although it is
difficult to make out precise details), although, as in b), the numbers
are not correct and they cover the entire arm, whereas in reality the
decorations would only have covered the upper part of the outer arms.
Although the arms are more semicircular than in a) and b), that is true
only of the outermost arms. The arms closer to the central arm are
clearly not semicircular, and, indeed, are very like the shape in a) and
b): curved sharply at the bottom and then almost straight toward the
upper part. c3), OTOH, is very different. Its arms are almost straight
(but are _not_ completelystraight, and the two inner arms are further
from the central arm than the other arms are from each other. The
decorations on the arms are different (although again they do not match
the number of g'vi'im and kaftorim given in the Torah). The base has
three podes, but they seem to be composed of balls. Most importantly,
the central arm does not extend to the base. Rather, it stops partway
down and has a rather large bottom part, consisting of a vase-shaped
part and below it four circular disks, each bigger than the one above.
It is also noteworthy that it is placed next to a lulav and etrog, in
contradistinction to c1) and c2), which are both shown standing before
the entrance to a hall with no lulav and etrog. I would argue that c1)
and c2) are meant to be depictions of The Menorah in the Hekhal
(particularly since c2) is next to a depiction of a figure labeled
Aroon, the Greek version of Aharon), whereas c3) is a stylized Jewish
symbol, based on the Menorah, to be sure, but not meant to be an exact
depiction. I would make the same remark about most of the hundreds of
other drawings of menorahs meant as Jewish symbols: although probably
based on the Menorah in the Hekhal, they are not drawn as accurate
sketches, but as stylized drawing of a symbol. See, for instance, d), a
picture discovered in a catacomb in Verona, Italy, that dates back to
the first Century of the Common Era. To the right of the menorah are a
shofar and a lulav, to its left an etrog and something else. The lulav
is obviously a stylized representation of one; no palm fronds curve
around as that one does. Similarly, we can say that the drawing of the
menorah shows that the arms are curved, that it has a tripod for a base,
that the base is smaller than the rest of the menorah. Possibly we could
use relative sizes of the elements as a general indication. But it would
be foolish to measure the arcs of the arms, count the knobs on the arms,
or any other details, since the artist was not interested in making an
architectural sketch.

d), OTOH, is clearly different from a), b), and any of the c)s. The base
is entirely different, and out of proportion with the rest of the
menorah. The arms are all semicircular (as they are in some 3rd - 4th
Century representations from Jewish synagogues shown in JE 11:1357-1361)
and therefore the space between the inner arms and the central arm is
noticeably greater than the distance between the other arms. It has
clear kaftorim and p'rahim, although in the wrong number (not covering
the entire arms, but a greater number on the outside, longer arms). It
is not clear what the g'vi'im are meant to be: they seem to be flattened
bowl-shaped objects above and below the kaftorim, but the concave faces
of each face the kaftor, so that the concave part of the upper bowl
faces down and the concave face of the one below faces up. The central
arm appears to be wrapped with some decoration below the outer arms, and
the base is two giant hexagons, the top one larger than the lower one,
with decorations on the side panels. Examination of the panels of the
hexagons shows that the central one on the upper hexagon has a picture
of two eagles holding a (laurel?) crown. To its left and right are
panels showing a ketos, a aquatic monster usually with a serpent body
and the head of a bird or other animal. In the lower hexagon are three
panels with various kete (plural of ketos). A ketos is called drakon by
Hazal; in the Mishna Avodah Zara 3:3 it shows that a drakon was suspect
of being a symbol of AZ. How would that get into the Temple? Even worse,
the eagle was the symbol of Imperial Rome, and as such was an anathema
to Jews longing to be free of Roman rule.

However, the picture cannot be simply an invention of a Roman artist.
The arms are are equidistant from each other, and the distance equals
the width of the arms (another universal characteristic of Jewish
sources), they all go up to an equal height, and even the ratio of the
distance from the base to the lower arms to the rest of the height
matches the ratio given by Hazal. And there are clear g'vi'im, kaftorim
and p'rahim on the arms. This must be a representation of the Menorah of
the Hekhal. So how can we explain the base?

R. Daniel Sperber gives the correct answer, IMHO. He notes that usually
a ketos has a nymph perched on its back, and scales on its neck, and
shows pictures of a very similar from a Roman temple in Didyma with such
a nymph. In e), there is no nymph and no scales on the neck. He quotes
the g'moro AZ 43a that a drakon that is osur has scales on its neck, and
the Tosefta in AZ that says "if the neck was smooth, it is muttar." This
evidence, that the base was made showing the symbol of Imperial Rome and
avoiding AZ, matches Herod the Great. He was put in his position, after
Matitya Antigonos, by the Roman, and Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews
tells us that he erected a great golden eagle over the gates of the
Temple, an act that angered the Jews. OTOH, he always was careful to
portray himself as King of the Jews and avoided any outright AZ. So, R.
Sperber concludes, it must have been Herod who put on the base. Why
would he have monkeyed around with the Menorah? Probably because shortly
before his reign the Parthians entered Y'rushalayim and plundered it.
The Menorah may well have been broken at its weakest point, its small
base, at that time, and Herod, whose mark was large construction
projects many of which were for the benefit of the Jews while at the
same time reminding everyone of Roman sovereignty (as he did in his
reconstruction of the BhM), would naturally have made a large new base,
for the good of the Jewish Temple but with Roman symbols.

So it is extremely probable that e) was actually drawn from someone who
saw the Menorah as it was paraded through Rome in 71 and perhaps later,
wherever it ended up. But some of the exact details, like the exact
number of kaftorim, or the exact curve of the arms, is wrong, because
the sculptor no longer had the Menorah in front of him.

In summary, all depictions of the Menorah in the Hekhal, from Jewish and
Roman sources from the time of the BhM and the following couple of
centuries (as well as medieval Jewish sources) show the Menorah with
rounded arms. (It is worth mentioning that the 4 Medieval Jewish
drawings of the Menorah in MY pp. 69-72 all show arms like in a) and b):
curved at the bottom, but straight in the upper part.)

  1.. It is impossible that the Rambam's own drawing represents
accuragtely the shape of the Menorah (even according to the Rambam
himself).
Let me begin by quoting him in PhM [my translation from the original]:
"it had three legs. A gavia' is the form of a solid [i.e. not hollow]
cup, except that it gets narrow toward the bottom, or, if you wish, [it
has] the shape of a cone whose tip has been cut off. A kaftor is the
form of a sphere that is not exactly circular, but somewhat elongated,
close to the shape of a bird's egg. A perah is the form of the blossom
of a lily. And now I will draw for you in this drawing the g'vi'im in
the shape of a triangle and the kaftorim as a circle and the perah as a
semicircle in order to make the drawing easier, since my intent in this
drawing is not that you should know the exact form of a gavia', since I
have just explained it to you. Rather my intent is to show you the
number of the g'vi'im, the kaftorim and the p'rahim, and their
placement, and the length of places of the arms of the Menorah that are
empty and that of the places that have kaftorim and p'rahim, and its
general appearance [lit.: how its generality was]. And here is the
drawing of all of these." He says explicitly that you should not pay too
much attention to all the details of the drawing. On the contrary, he
says it is a schematic drawing, representing the kaftorim and other
parts by geometric shapes that are easy to draw. In particular, note his
last words here: "w'aljumlah kayfa kaanat," "its general appearence." I
believe that that applies not just to the shapes of the kaftorim etc.,
but to the entire drawing: it is schematic, and was meant only to be
schematic.

But if the arms weren't exactly straight, why did the Rambam draw them
that way? Well, why did he draw the kaftorim as a circle? Because he
drew everything with a ruler, a compass and a protractor (much as an
electrical schematic drawing is done with straight lines). Note that all
the kaftorim are drawn not as free-form circles, but are perfectly round
(even though the real kaftorim were not). Similarly, the top of the
base, above the three legs, is a perfect arc clearly drawn with a
compass. The distances are also schematic: the space occupied by the
gavia', kaftor and perah above the base are one tefah, as the note on
the drawing next to them states, whereas the empty space above them and
below them are both two t'fahim, also clearly noted ("t'fahayim") on the
drawing, yet those latter spaces in the drawing are much less than the
space taken by the g'via', kaftor and perah.

As a matter of fact, the drawings of Yemenite scribes, their attempts to
reproduce the Rambam's drawing, most clearly differ in the fact that
whereas the Rambam used a ruler, compass and protractor for everything,
the Yemenite scribes made free-hand drawings. Their triangles are not
exactly triangular, their circles are not exactly circular, and their
straight lines are not exactly straight, including the shape of the
arms. See one of them reproduced by R. Qafih in his edition of the
Mishneh Torah, page 54.

Another proof that the Rambam's drawing is not meant to be schematic and
not accurate in its details is the placement of the g'vi'im, kaftorim
and perahim on the arms. The Rambam, again for ease of drawing, put them
all at the bottom of the arms, and since the outside arms are longer
than the inside ones, these items were not lined up next to each other.
Everyone knew that this was not meant to be accurate, and so even the
Yemenite scribes changed it in their free-hand drawings, putting the
g'vi'im, kaftorim and perahim at the very top of all of the arms. R.
Qafih knew this as well; in his "corrected" drawing in his edition of
PhM he not only drew these items on the tops of the arms, he also
thought that the Rambam drew the g'vi'im upside down: the Rambam drew
them with the narrow end pointing up, whereas R. Qafih redrew them with
the narrow end pointing down (as is the common view, that these "cups"
were on the Menorah with the "bottom" of the cup down). Although R.
Qafih changed his mind about the direction of the pointed end by the
time he put out his edition of the Mishneh Torah, my point is not which
way is correct, but that he himself thought that the Rambam did not
necessarily mean that all details of the drawing were accurate, and so
did not consider minor changes to be against the Rambam's view.

As for the comments of R. Avraham, the son of the Rambam, that the arms
were straight, let me note that he says explicitly "as my father and
teacher drew them." Not "as my father told me" or "as my father said." I
believe that R. Avraham was basing himself on the drawings of the
Rambam, rather than having had a discussion with his father about the
subject. This is not the only time that R. Avraham made statements based
on what his father had written that may not accurately reflect his
father's exact view, and most scholars agree that R. Avraham's
statements about his father's view must be treated cautiously. There is
little question about his transmission of things that he says he heard
from his father, but things he read from his father he may not know more
about than anyone else.

Now even in a schematic drawing, if the arms were semicircular arcs, as
they are on the Arch of Titus, the Rambam would have surely drawn them
that way, using a compass. But what if the arms were not semicircular,
but were curved somewhat? What, as a matter of fact, if they were like
the arms shown in a), the coins of Matitya Antigonos or the arms shown
in b), the drawing on the wall of the house discovered in the Old City,
that were partially curved and partially straight or almost straight? I
would argue that in his schematic drawing, the Rambam would see nothing
wrong with drawing them with a ruler as a straight line. After all, as
he says, "my intent in this drawing is not that you should know [i.e. I
should draw] the exact form. Rather my intent is to show you the number
of the g'vi'im, the kaftorim and the p'rahim, and their placement, and
the length of places of the arms of the Menorah that are empty and that
of the places that have kaftorim and p'rahim, and its general
appearance."

In the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam does not discuss all of the details of
his drawing that he did in the PhM; he does not even explain that the
triangles are g'vi'im and the circles are kaftorim. So the Mishneh Torah
does not add anything new.

I would also argue that Rashi's statement of alakson could also fit the
drawings Medieval Jewish sources, discussed above. As I have said, it is
inconceivable to me that rabbonim drawing pictures of the Menorah in the
14th Century would not have noted that Rashi disagrees.

One may ask: why am I even trying to reconcile the Rambam to the
historical drawings. Is it not possible that the Rambam was simply wrong
about historical facts?

The Rambam may have been in error about historical facts; he dealt with
the best information available to him, and he did not have all the
knowledge we do now. He did not know Greek, for example, as far as we
can tell, and so does not realize when some words are Greek. But the
Rambam was well aware of archeological findings and did not dismiss
them. In one of his t'shuvos he even gives an ingenious explanation of
why all the inscriptions on coins are in K'tav 'Ivri, rather than K'tav
Asshuri, when he holds that the Torah was given in K'tav Asshuri. It is
highly likely that the Rambam saw some of the many drawings of the
Menorah on coins and other artifacts, and since there is no clear
evidence from the g'moro or other Rabbinic texts that we know of, he
would not have rejected the drawings out of hand as all being a mistake.
Furthermore, the Rambam is one of the greatest of the Rishonim and the
only one who paskens lahalokho about the structure of the BhM; coins and
pictures are halakhic sources. I believe it is proper methodologically
to reconcile the g'dolei rishonim with non-halakhic depictions as much
as possible.

In conclusion, I have argued that no one thought that the arms were
exactly straight; that the idea came into being only in the 20th Century
after the Rambam's drawing became common knowledge, but does not have a
basis in a careful reading of the Rambam and a comparison to Jewish
depictions ranging from the time of the Temple to centuries later.

I shall defer a detailed discussion of the idea that the shape of
Hanukka menorahs should be based on the shape of the Menorah in the BhM
for another time. However, I repeat again that it has no basis in Hazal
or in the rishonim or in common Jewish practice for hundreds of years in
the construction of menorahs used to fulfill the mitzva of neros
Hanukka.

Seth Mandel


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