Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 058

Sunday, January 16 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 11:15:12 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

> The chartumim not only came to a spiritual conclusion, but acted on it:
> they joined the Jews. They became leaders of the eirev rav, and left
> Egypt with the Jews.

I'm not sure you answered the question, which was whether they got any
sachar. I'm not sure being head of the erev rav qualifies, although I'd
appreciate a mar'eh makom for that as well.

I paste in Midrash and Method on parshas Shemos that has a lot of
information on these Chartumim. It is not posted yet which is why I
cannot simply refer you to the site (midrash@aishdas.org). I use the
names Mamre throughout for simplicity but, as it was pointed out, some
sources use Hambres. The notes do not past in.

Yahnes and Mamre

Last week we discussed the fact that midrashic literature can be seen
as belonging to a continuum of oral tradition that was widely known
among Jews of all kinds of backgrounds and religious affiliations. Many
works have been written in the Second Temple period, most of them tinged
with Hellenic culture or incorporating various sectarian leanings and
they were therefore not accepted as Scripture. What sets Midrash apart
from apocryphal and pseudo-hagiographic writings is, of course, that
it was written with Ruach Hakodesh and is faithful to the world-view
of Chazal. It is remarkable, however, to discover the extent to which
the wide range of disparate extra-canonical writings agree with much
later Midrashic literature on the level of detail and specific textual
interpretation, if not in theology and overall approach. To me this
remains the strongest proof of the existence of Oral Tradition many
centuries before it was written down, just as Rabbinic tradition
contends .

An excellent example for this kind of proof is the identity of the wise
men who opposed Moshe in Pharaoh's court. The Chumash itself tells us
nothing beyond the fact that they were "wise men of Egypt", so presumably
there must have been at least two of them .

The oral tradition fills in their names.

Then Yahnes and Mamre, the chief wizards spoke up and said to Pharaoh. A
son is going to be born to the people of Israel and through him they
will bring the land of Egypt to ruin (Targum Yonasan to Shmos 1,14).

Said Yohnes and Mamra to Moshe:" Are you bringing straw to Hafaraim (i.e.,
are you importing magic to the birthplace of magical arts)? (Menachos 85a)

These Yahnes and Mamre were associated with Balaam, who is said to have
participated in the counsel to oppress the Children of Israel .

Pharaoh called for Balaam the magician and his sons, Yahnes and Mamre
(Yalkut Shimoni 173)

...and the angel of the Lord stood on the road to oppose him and he was
riding on a donkey and his 2 servants Yahnes and Mamre were with him
(Targum Yonasan to Numbers 22,22)

Interestingly, Yahnes and Mamre were known as great magicians even among
the nations. They are mentioned as associated with Moses and Zoroaster
by Numenius, Apuleius, and Pliny the Elder (Natural History 30.2.11).

Among the extra-canonical works, these magicians are said to have opposed
Moshe by the Testament of Solomon, a fragment entitled Yahnes and Mamre,
and the gospels.

The earliest datable source appears to be the Damascus Document from
the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran (5:17-19).

...Moses and Aaron arose by the hand of the Prince of Lights but Belial
in his cunning rose up Yahnes and his brother when Israel was saved for
the first time.

The Damascus Document is the constitution of the Qumran sect. This group
of sectarians led by their Priestly leader, the Teacher of Righteusness,
isolated themselves from other Jews and the Temple in Jerusalem sometime
around the time of Yochanan Hyrcanus, the Kohen Gadol. Their traditions
probably date at the latest to somewhere around that time.

We see that what may appear as a late rabbinic legend is in fact a very
early and almost universal tradition that was widely shared by all groups
of Jews and that is datable to early in the Second Temple period.

M. Levin

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Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 12:35:10 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Torah and Science

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> posted on 8 Jan 2005:

> ...even RZL, who doesn't understand how REED gets this conclusion from
> the Ramban agrees that he does.

Just for the record, I never posted I agreed to RMB's and/or RNS's reading
of REED's subtle and esoteric position. In personal conversation with RMB,
I let some of his references to his opinion on this slide by. I haven't
spent enough on REED, and in face-to-face conversation, as opposed to
when I'm hiding behind my keyboard, I tend to be more amiable and less
confrontational, trying to understand and think over RMB's positions
before reacting to them, refraining from interrupting to disagree. (Some
might say, in a word, I'm a whimp!) At any rate, I do put much stock in
RJO's analysis.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 14:31:55 -0500
From: micah2@seas.upenn.edu
kissing tzizis

Although I as well never found a halachic source for kissing tzizis
specificially at the mention of the word, the artscroll siddur (hebrew
english version, at least) says to do so. And omits the halachic idea
of kissing them at the words "urisem oso." Perhaps this is a mistake on
their part, and the "source" of the minhag?

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Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 21:24:09 +0200
From: "Dov Ber" <ydamyb@actcom.net.il>
Re: standing for kaddish

> Without going into the practical halakhic aspects, I can't think of
> a reason why even the person who says kaddish should have to stand to
> say it.

Shaarei T'shuva siman 56 seif 1 says that just as it is ossur to pass
in front of someone davenning shemoma esrei, so too in front of someone
saying kaddish.

It may follow that just as someone davenning shemoma esrei must stand,
so too here.

Ishai Yisroel quotes in a footnote Rav Chaim Kanievsky who notes that
it should also follow that it should be ossur to sit within his 4
amos. He also notes that it's not clear if the MB holds of this as it
isn't mentioned.

Akiva B.

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Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 20:52:18 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Torah and Science

In Avodah 14:56, R' Micha Berger wrote:
> The Ralbag takes this position because he doesn't believe in lema'alah
> min hateva nisim.

Could you please clarify this? Does the Ralbag hold that G-d *wouldn't*
do a nes which is l'maaleh min hateva (which I hope is what he meant)? Or
does the Ralbag hold that G-d *can't* do a nes which is l'maaleh min
hateva (which is incomprehensible to me)?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 18:25:06 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Re: Association of Positive Mitzvot with Days of Year?

As I mentioned to Micha in a private post,

This year is the 8th year of the 19th year cycle, which is the "latest"
possible year of the cycle. This year has cheshvan as maleh, and kislev
as chaser, so there's only one other possible year-type that is longer,
and it would be by one day. This year, the 20th of March is 9 Addar II,
which means the absolute earliest (until 2100, when we have another switch
in the calendar) that 20th of March can fall is 8 Addar 2. Which would
mean we have another 7 days to lose until we have a problem. I _think_
Rav Ada's calculation is off by 7 days today, which would mean we are
(approximately) half way until the calendar fails.

My friend in Toronto has a very long essay entited
"How is this year different from all other years?" at

It explains many peculiarities that pop up in the year 5765.


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