Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 060

Thursday, January 20 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 22:39:12 -0500
From: David Roth <davidyonah@gmail.com>
Subject:
Re: Tzofnas Pa'aneach? Kamatz Rachav!


> One of my hobbies is finding words that are pronounced wrong and
> correcting them! Start with Yissachar (not Yisaschar as is getting
> popular in Israel)

The Rav would make the Baal Koreh say the Posuk twice (once as Yisaschar
and once as Yissachar), just as we say Zeicher and Zecher Amalek (which
he would make the baal koreh do every time (i.e. Ki Seitze, Zachor,
Beshalach, and Purim)).


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 08:13:27 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Subject:
Re: Tzofnas Pa'aneach? Kamatz Rachav!


On Wed, Jan 12, 2005 at 03:51:47PM -0800, Jonathan Cohen wrote:
> : Then take all the words like Osnat, Tzorfat, Tzofnat, Bosmat - all wrong!

On Tue, 18 Jan 2005 20:23:40 -0500, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> Are Osenat or Tzofenas Hebrew? How closely does Mitzri follow Hebrew's
> rules for sheva?

WADR, this reminds me of the fellow who wanted Hillel to teach him Torah
Shebikhtav without Torah Sheb'al Pe: it you don't assume that these names,
as written in the Torah, follow the same rules of pronounciation as the
rest of the Torah, how can you know how to pronounce them at all? Maybe
Mitzri doesn't have a kamats katan? Maybe the tsadi represents a different
consonant in Mitzri? etc, etc.

I remember once when I was young and foolish and leyning Vayyetse,
I was tempted to say "yegar sahadutha" the way that the professors at
Oxford pronounced Aramaic, but common sense prevailed :)


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Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 22:46:51 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Subject:
Re: Calendar


RZS wrote:
>A quick check shows that the 8th year appears to be no 'later' than the
>19th year.

Which still means the 8th year is the latest, just with another year
type also the latest.

>This is not possible. If Kislev is short, as it was this year, then the
>previous month must also be short, as indeed it was. This year has 383
>days; it is possible for a leap year to have 384 or 385.

>> 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.

>The Jewish year is too long, not too short, which means Pesach is
>getting later, not earlier. So there's no problem, at least until it
>starts falling in summer. The idea that Pesach must be in the *first*
>month after the spring equinox is refuted by the fact that bizman
>habayit they would extend the year not just for the equinox, but also
>for the weather, the lambing season, or the barley growth, which means
>that they would deliberately schedule Pesach more than a month after
>the equinox. (Indeed, Karaites reject the whole idea of adding a
>month for the equinox, or for any reason *except* the barley growth,
>which is explicitly mentioned in the Torah. Tshb"p adds other reasons,
>including the equinox, but let's not make the added reasons greater than
>the explicit one (unless we have an explicit Tshb"p source for doing so,
>of course)).

I think there may be a misunderstanding, which is why you assume I think
the problem is that the Jewish year is too short.

We are only dealing with the claim of RMB that the equinox must fall in
the first half of Nissan or in Addar II. Pesach falling more than a month
and a half after the equinox would (equinox before Addar II), therefore,
entail a Pesach outside of the halachic definition of "aviv". Pesach
falling before the equinox (the equinox is after pesach) also would be
outside of said definition.

Now, since our year is too long, we will not encounter the problem of
pesach falling before the equinox, but of falling after the equinox.
This means we will have a calendrical problem when the equinox is before
Addar II.

I made a mistake (which has been pointed out to me many times :) ),
this year is 383 days, the longest possible year is 385 days. That
implies that this year is 2 days shorter than the maximum, and since
the equinox is on 9 Addar II, the calendar can be out of sync by 9 -
2 = 7 more days until we run into the problem.

I don't know much about the calendar (as can be seen from above :) ).
I am just trying to define the bounds, based on RMB's original request. I
get 7-9 days. There is room for refinement, i.e. show that it is
impossible (in practice) for the 'latest' year type to be 384 or 385 days.

--Russell


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Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 22:53:47 -0500
From: "David Cohen" <ddcohen@verizon.net>
Subject:
Re: Association of Positive Mitzvot with Days of Year?


I wrote:
: I don't see how this can be. Statistically, the vernal equinox will fall
: out in the first half of the lunar month (between the new moon and the
: full moon) half of the time, and in the second half of the lunar month
: (between the full moon and the new moon) half of the time. This is a
: fact, and is independent of any calendar system.

RMB responded:
> Why? The equinox loses only 11 days every non-leap year, not 15.
> Therefore, once you get the equinox close to Pesach, it would take
> two years for it to reach the end of the month.

My point is that both the lunar and solar cycle are entirely natural
events. The whole world can agree that in a given year, the equinox
will be at a particular point in the lunar cycle.

Thus, if the equinox is 20 days after one new moon and 10 days before
the next one, it's going to be on the 20th (or possibly 19th or 18th)
of SOME month, and nothing (except for deciding that months no longer
start at the new moon) can change that. Whether that month is called
Adar or Nisan, though, is a function of our calendar system.

Given that the least common multiple of the length of a lunar cycle and
the length of a solar cycle is probably pretty large, the date of the
equinox will, over the long term, be evenly distributed over the course
of the lunar month.

--D.C.


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Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 23:24:47 -0500
From: Jonathan Sperling <sperling@post.harvard.edu>
Subject:
Chadash


> Does anyone know the policy of the major US kashrut organizations about
> using chadash in bread & cookies. We know of the disagreement of the
> level of issur of chadash outside of Israel. The question is the stance
> of modern kashrut organizations.

The OU and Star-K both offer yoshon certification. The necessary
inference is that any grain products under their supervision and not
bearing the Yoshon certification are chadash. See the following:

http://oukosher.org/index.php/articles/single/40/
http://www.ou.org/kosher/daf/advanced/yoshen2.htm
http://www.star-k.org/cons-seasonal-yoshon-g.htm


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 00:18:00 -0500
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Subject:
Re: chadash


R' Eli Turkel asked <<< Once the silo has chadash grain it is almost
impossible to clean it to the extent that there is no chadash mixed with
the present yashan grain. >>>

I don't understand the question. There is never a need to clean the silo.
Just wait until Pesach, and it was *all* be yashan. At some point in the
year, new grain will be put into the silo, and then you stop using that
silo -- until the following Pesach, when it is all yashan again.

Akiva Miller


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Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 23:35:44 -0500
From: Jonathan Sperling <sperling@post.harvard.edu>
Subject:
Kissing Tzitzis


With respect to kissing tzitzis at the mention of the word, Simon Montague
writes
> MA brings it beshem kitve ha'ari in Siman 24 Seif 2 Seif Katan 1, and
> the Kaf HaHayyim (Seif Katan 8) quotes the source at length from Sha'ar
> Hakavanot Drush Kiryat Shema 27b, plus a bunch of other Aharonim.

I believe Simon may have read this MA too quickly. It refers only to
kissing the tzitzis upon reaching the words "ne'emanim v'nechemadim
la'ad", not at each (or any) mention of the word "tzitzis".


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 10:47:44 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Subject:
Re: standing for kaddish


In a message dated 1/8/2005 10:13:24pm EST, remt@juno.com writes:
> If this is intended as an explanation for why the one saying kaddish
> should stand, agreed. If for the kahal, it is not only not a reason,
> the halacha itself is not that they must stand. Current custom
> notwithstanding, the din is that one need not stand for kaddish; the
> only requirement is that if he is standing when kaddish is begun, he
> should not sit down.

To which RRW responded:
> Indeed, this is the position of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 35:6

Actually it's in 15:6 and it's the 1st Y"O. The 2nd Y"O insists you stand
up - as we learn from Old King Eglon - "and so one should be machmir".

An argument could thus be made that the kitzur's position is that one
should stand up.

- Danny


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Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 23:31:34 -0500
From: Jonathan Sperling <sperling@post.harvard.edu>
Subject:
Testifying Against Oneself


RMB wrote:
> I would think that this ability to create a debt for himself is related
> to shava alei chatikha de'issura. In both cases we're letting the person
> deny himself something.

The Ketzos addresses directly the conjuction of these two dinim at the end
of Siman 44, s"k 4.  


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 10:11:44 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Subject:
Re: Fw: hashgacha prutis


> http://www.chabadofbelair.org/templates/articlecco.html?AID=253944

> What I've been wondering since I first received it last week is why he
> didn't look into the possibility of having the marriage annulled by a
> bet din.  

What I've been wondering is, when was the last time a bet din annulled
a marriage.

I know it's a halachic possibility, but is it used in practise?

Curious,

- Danny


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 04:58:38 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Subject:
Re: Fw: hashgacha prutis


Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR ** wrote:
> What I've been wondering is, when was the last time a bet din annulled
> a marriage.  I know it's a halachic possibility, but is it used in
> practise?

R Michael Broyde, at:
<http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/4_2_Broyde.pdf> says that it
is "widely used by various batei din in situations that fit such a case",
that it is "widely known and used by dayyanim throughout the Torah world",
and that "I myself, a minor player in the vast world of permitting agunot
to remarry, have participated in several such cases".

In any case, I wrote to R Mentz, and he replied: "The story is 100%
true... and the beis din in LA knew how to handle the situation, and
said they needed a Get." I assume this means they did consider the
possibility of annulment, and decided it wasn't appropriate in this case.

-- 
Zev Sero
zev@sero.name


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 05:21:58 -0500
From: "Allen Gerstl" <acgerstl@hotmail.com>
Subject:
Re: Torah and Science


On Thu, 13 Jan 2005 01:07:04 -0500 R. Alexander Seinfeld, Daas Books
<info@daasbooks.com> Wrote:
>Please see <http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/AGEOFTHEUNIVERSE.htm>

Please see and compare: <http://www.geraldschroeder.com/tuning.html>
(Theories of Gerald Schroeder, Paul Davies (etc.) that accept current
scientific theories of an old universe but argue that the universe and
its physical laws have been designed by HKBH who has also created time
itself and is therefore beyond time.)

KT
Eliyahu


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 08:20:48 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Subject:
Re: Chadash


In a message dated 1/19/2005 6:05:42am EST, sperling@post.harvard.edu writes:
> The OU and Star-K both offer yoshon certification. The necessary
> inference is that any grain products under their supervision and not
> bearing the Yoshon certification are chadash. 

Actually I would assume that the inference is that any not
bearing the Yoshon certification may or may not be chadash.

KT
Joel Rich


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 08:33:17 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Subject:
Torah and Science - Rav Dessler


Dr. Jonathan Ostroff requested that I translate Rav Eliyahu
Dessler's maamar entitled Zman V'Hishtalshelus and post it on
this site. The following is the result of my efforts. Please
note: For a formatted version of this post please visit
<http://ca.geocities.com/torah@rogers.com/science/sot/>.

Below please find a translation of the first two paragraphs of Rav
Dessler's maamar entitled Zman V'Hishtalshelus in Michtav Me'Eliyahu
Volume 4, pg. 113. I have reviewed the translation quoted in Challenge,
Feldheim Publishers 1976, pg. 140 and believe that the one found below
is a more accurate reflection of Rav Dessler's words.

In order to fully comprehend Rav Dessler's essays, it is necessary to be
aware of most if not all of the maamarim in Michtav MeEliyahu that deal
with the subject at hand, as anyone who studies Rav Dessler knows. At the
very least, the entire maamar must be learned before one can attempt to
delineate Rav Dessler's approach to any given topic. Thus, for purposes of
clarification, some aspects of the maamar that appear in later paragraphs
may have been incorporated into the body of the translation.

Translation:

The concept of time exists only within the framework of our perception.[1]

The true scope of creation is far greater than that which is represented
in our physical universe. Consequently, "creation" in its truest
sense transcends our corporeal existence and thus our ability to fully
comprehend it. The concept of something being "beyond the limitations
of time" cannot be fully grasped by the human intellect. Therefore when
considering (metaphysical) concepts and entities that are essentially
"beyond the limitations of time", they are projected into our minds
as ideas or beings that exist for endless periods of time. The same
perceptual limitation plagues those who study the nature of our vast and
endless universe. When viewed from a purely materialistic perspective,
it seems as though it had taken an endless amount of time to unfold.[2]

Question: If the true nature of creation is so much more elevated than
the mundane parameters that accompany our universe, why then does the
Torah establish the description of creation in terms of the physical
time it took to create? The answer is that the Torah wishes to teach
us a most fundamental lesson. True value and true existence can only be
determined by the proportion of spirituality that exists in the item being
measured. If it is primarily spiritual, it is considered to have real
existence, true worth. It is a genuine reflection of creation. If it is
mostly material in nature, it is virtually valueless, possessing only an
"imaginary", fleeting existence. It is only a superficial representation
of creation. This lesson can be gleaned from the fact that creation,
an essentially transcendental process, took only six physical days to
fully materialize.[3]

End

Notes:

1 For a full treatment of this concept, please refer to Michtav MeEliyahu
Vol. 2, pg. 150. It is important to note here that the word "exists"
should be taken in a modified form. The terminology that would more
accurately represent Rav Dessler's shita in this matter is "exists for
the purpose of", the latter being causal, the former being consequential.

2 In other words, just as with metaphysical concepts we instinctively
tend to attribute endless periods of time to their existence due to our
inability to conceptualize timelessness, so too, the endless vastness
of the universe engenders a similar "knee-jerk" reaction

3 See Michtav MeEliyahu in the maamar quoted above in which he expands
upon this concept. He quotes the Ramban (in the beginning of Bereishis)
that states that actually, the Torah is discussing the transcendental
nature of creation too. However, in order to incorporate both aspects
of creation into its account, the Torah uses the word "yom" which can
be alternatively used to modify the spiritual ("kol maamar poel havaya
tikahray 'yom'") and the physical

Comments:

For the purpose of elucidation, I would like to append some comments to
this translation.

Rav Dessler's primary focus in this maamar is not to discuss the age
of the universe. His main concern is to convey the idea that all of
the phenomena in the physical universe are actually manifestations of a
greater more profound reality. This reality is embodied in the spiritual
element that, along with its physical counterpart, comprises the entirety
of the phenomenon. The spiritual component is synonymous with its purpose,
and is referred to as giluy (revelation) whereas the physical part is
simply the mechanism by which the purpose can be achieved and is referred
to as hester (concealment).

The reality is that these two components are not ancillary facets of any
given item or idea, they are an intrinsic part of the phenomenon and
cannot be separated, just as two sides of a coin cannot be separated
although they may display diametrically opposed ideas. However, due
to the sin of Adam HaRishon, our existence in this world has been
excessively corporealized, thereby enabling the possibility of two
distinct perspectives that are available for adoption. There is the
spiritual perspective, which is a perception of the truth, and there is
the perspective of materialism, which is a perception of illusion.

If one studies the physical components of the world without the benefit
of being aware of the spiritual element that infuses them with existence,
then it is inconceivable to imagine that this vast universe which is
designed with an apparently endless amount of complexity could possibly
have unfolded in a short period of time. Hence the eons of time mistakenly
attributed to the evolution of the universe by material naturalists
throughout the ages.

The purpose of creation is to attain giluy i.e. ultimate awareness of the
creator by exercising our free will, by causing our gaze to penetrate the
thick veil of hester in order to see the real truth of creation i.e. the
Creator. The attainment of this giluy is considered qualitatively
greater than one achieved without the overcoming of obstacles that
are intrinsic to hester, and is the purpose of our lives. A person who
manages to elevate himself to this higher more spiritual vantage point,
no longer has any trouble with conceptualizing a six day creation.

I hope this translation and subsequent comments are helpful in clarifying
any misconceptions regarding Rav Dessler's shita in ma'aseh breishis.

All the best
Simcha Coffer


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 07:45:03 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Subject:
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler


S & R Coffer <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> Rav Dessler's primary focus in this maamar is not to discuss the age
> of the universe. His main concern is to convey the idea that all of
> the phenomena in the physical universe are actually manifestations of a
> greater more profound reality. This reality is embodied in the spiritual
> element that, along with its physical counterpart, comprises the entirety
> of the phenomenon. The spiritual component is synonymous with its purpose,
> and is referred to as giluy (revelation) whereas the physical part is
> simply the mechanism by which the purpose can be achieved and is referred
> to as hester (concealment).
...
> If one studies the physical components of the world without the benefit
> of being aware of the spiritual element that infuses them with existence,
> then it is inconceivable to imagine that this vast universe which is
> designed with an apparently endless amount of complexity could possibly
> have unfolded in a short period of time. Hence the eons of time mistakenly
> attributed to the evolution of the universe by material naturalists
> throughout the ages...

I am no expert in REED, to say the least. So if all agree that this is
the view of REED, I will certainly accept it. In short then, REED doesn't
address the topic at hand other than dissmissing it. He is simply saying
that the physical nature of creation is illusory and there is no real
point in trying to comprehend it. The study of creation in the physical
sense is thereore useless as it cannot possibly explain the complexity
of nature created in so short a time as six days. REED instead focuses
on the spiritual "hidden" creative process as the real creation which
is equally beyond our grasp. Is this correct?

Once you are in the realm of the metaphysical, rational thinking is
not necessary. In the world of the spiritual, there is no physical
reality to explain. But we live in the physical world not in the
spiritual. Apparently REED has the same difficulty that many of us do
when we see evidence of an older universe and basicly says "don't worry
about it" there is no way of, and no point to, trying to understanding it.

This is an issue that must have bothered him which can be seen by the
way he refered to the complexity of the universe being created in so
short of a time (6 days). In the end, focusing on the spiritual side of
creation is somewhat evasive and not a very helpful explanation, in my
view. For those of us who see physical indications of an older universe
the question remains and begs an explanation. As far as I am concerend,
a respected scientist and Talmid Chacham like R. Aryeh Kaplan offers a
far more satisfactory perspective on creation than does REED.

HM


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 12:02:18 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Fw: hashgacha prutis


Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR ** wrote:
>What I've been wondering is, when was the last time a bet din annulled
>a marriage.  I know it's a halachic possibility, but is it used in
>practise?

A Beis Din cannot annul a marriage. We have no afke'inhu power ba'zman
ha'zeh. It can render a finding that the marriage was invalid for
some reason.

YGB


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 21:21:05 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Subject:
Re: Why Are You Sleeping?


Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> writes:
>On Sun, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:52:44PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>: I have been attempting to show that the standard sources indicate
>: is that sin is the cause of suffering...

>I agree with that -- and moreso, I believe that there is no suffering
>except for those justified by a person's own sins.

There is of course another side that adds further complexity to this,
namely schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka and the story of the boy who fell
from the tree to his death after obeying his father and sending away
the mother bird (chullin 142a).

Now I don't know whether I have authority to quote the former member
of this list who, in a number of posts here and/or areivim indicated
that when he asked various gedolim regarding the affliction of his
pre-barmitzvah age son as to whether that affliction goes to any sin
of his, he was told that we posken schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka.
However I have heard other similar stories from others who have asked
similar questions for this response hardly to be novel when faced with
cases of individual tragedy.

Now daas torah is somewhat in the news at the moment, and it is certainly
not an unprecedented approach to ignore such pronouncements of daas torah
in favour of preferred rishonic sources. But it is also not inappropriate
to be aware that by making broad brush statements of the type both RMB
and RDE are making above, that you may be adopting an ideological position
at variance with at least one other strand within the halachic community,
and with at least some manifestations of daas torah.

Regards
Chana
-- 
Chana Luntz


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 16:43:17 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Why Are You Sleeping?


On Wed, Jan 19, 2005 at 09:21:05PM +0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
:>I agree with that -- and moreso, I believe that there is no suffering
:>except for those justified by a person's own sins.

: There is of course another side that adds further complexity to this,
: namely schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka...

I don't see how that's significantly different than my invocation of tzadiq
vera lo, rasha vetov lo. My point was that knowing their is tzidduq hadin
doesn't explain any particular tragedy.

To put it a really depressing way: Ein tzaddiq ba'aretz asher ya'aseh
tov velo yechta. Therefore, everyone deserves, midinei Shamayim (din, as
in tziduq hadin), nothing -- not even existance. The question of tragedy
is therefore really that of the suspension of olam chesed yibaneh, not
explaining the din of it. The pattern is beyond our ability to discern.

-mi

-- 
Micha Berger             A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org        It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org   and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (270) 514-1507         - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"


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Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 01:08:46 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Subject:
Re: Kissing Tzitzis


On Tue, 18 Jan 2005 23:35:44 -0500, Jonathan Sperling
<sperling@post.harvard.edu> wrote:
> With respect to kissing tzitzis at the mention of the word, Simon Montague
> writes
>> MA brings it beshem kitve ha'ari in Siman 24 Seif 2 Seif Katan 1, and
>> the Kaf HaHayyim (Seif Katan 8) quotes the source at length from Sha'ar
>> Hakavanot Drush Kiryat Shema 27b, plus a bunch of other Aharonim.

> I believe Simon may have read this MA too quickly. It refers only to
> kissing the tzitzis upon reaching the words "ne'emanim v'nechemadim
> la'ad", not at each (or any) mention of the word "tzitzis".

:) In fact it was the messages here that I read too quickly: I thought
we were talking about kissing tzitzit in general.

The Shaar Hakavanot as quoted in the Kaf HaHayyim goes one kiss further
than the MA - he specifies kissing the tzitzit and placing them on your
eyes at "velo taturu" and at "ne'emanim venechmadim", but not at any
mention of the word "tzitzit".


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Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 23:15:58 -0500
From: Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu>
Subject:
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler


At 07:45 AM 1/19/2005 -0800, RHM wrote:
>Once you are in the realm of the metaphysical, rational thinking is
>not necessary. In the world of the spiritual, there is no physical
>reality to explain. But we live in the physical world not in the
>spiritual. Apparently REED has the same difficulty that many of us do
>when we see evidence of an older universe and basicly says "don't worry
>about it" there is no way of, and no point to, trying to understanding it.

>This is an issue that must have bothered him which can be seen by the
>way he refered to the complexity of the universe being created in so
>short of a time (6 days). In the end, focusing on the spiritual side of
>creation is somewhat evasive and not a very helpful explanation, in my
>view. For those of us who see physical indications of an older universe
>the question remains and begs an explanation. As far as I am concerend,
>a respected scientist and Talmid Chacham like R. Aryeh Kaplan offers a
>far more satisfactory perspective on creation than does REED.

Why is his answer more satisfactory? Because it is something you can
understand, and the other answer says the matter is impossible to
understand? Is our ability to understand it any indication of truth?

This is like the response you and others have given to the "world was
created old theory", that it isn't satisfactory, or "Why would Hashem
fool us". I don't have a favorite theory, so I am not pushing one over
another. But, if we know that Hashem is infinitely greater than us,
and that we cannot understand everything, why is it hard to accept
that we may not be able to understand the details of creation? Sure,
it's more personally satisfying to be able to understand, but that
isn't a reliable indicator of truth. I am not saying anything against
Rabbi Kaplan, mind you - I have a son named after him! But finding an
answer to be more satisfying may be nice to put questions out of my mind,
but it doesn't make it more likely to be correct (actually, if it makes
sense to me it might make it more likely to be incorrect). The question
is why is an answer more satisfying - because it fits better with what
we know from solid sources, or because it feels better?

And how is it that Hashem would be "fooling" us according to the world
created old theory? This whole "difficulty" is a fairly modern dilemma,
covering a small amount of time since the creation of Adam. Certainly
nobody was being "fooled" until fairly recently in the scheme of things.
But how is it "fooling" people? How would Hashem be deceiving us? Is
everything in the world as it appears to be on the surface?

We all have a natural desire to understand everything that is important
to us. Surely it is frustrating to not be able to understand something.
Finding an understandable answer - what does that soothe? Is that our
desire to feel in control? I don't know what it is, but I know that a
personally satisfying answer is nice to have, and can allow me to move
past an issue that I am having difficulty with, but ultimately what is
satisfying is not necessarily right. Maybe it is easier for me to get
past this issue because there are so many things I don't understand,
so I am used to it!

mendel


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Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 06:01:54 -0500
From: "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Subject:
Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.


I sometimes have the feeling that the more "bizarre" something is,
the more likely people are to believe it. There was, of course, the
"talking fish" of not so long ago. There is today much interest in the
Torah Codes and similar things.

Many are interested in Kabbalah. There is even a "kosher kabbalah" web
site at Mhttp://www.kabbalaonline.org/>. I wonder if I am to deduce from
this that there is also non-kosher Kabbalah! When Rav Yisroel Salanter
was asked why he did not study Kabbalah he replied, "What need do I
have to know in which Sephirah the Sh'chena is? I know that if I do not
live my life according to the Torah, I will be punished in the World to
Come. That is enough."

Historically one of the things that fed the belief that Shabbatsai Tzvi
was Moshiach was the willingness of people to accept as true all sorts of
preposterous stories. Therefore, we should be wary of believing things
that appear to be illogical. Rav Schach had the following to say about
Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc. (The selection below is
from pages 212 to 213 of HARAV SCHACH, CONVERSATIONS: Stories to Inspire
the Yeshiva World under the heading Mind your own business.)

Yitzchok Levine
_____________________________________________________________________ 

As is well-known, Rav Schach strongly objected to any preoccupation
with modern-day "prophecies," calculations of the End of Days, dybbuks,
transmigration and elevation of souls, and other paranormal phenomena. He
often declared that it is forbidden for anyone to determine any course
of action based on these kinds of "information"  especially nowadays,
when there are so many charlatans who deliberately mislead people with
their "knowledge." Furthermore, he said, we do not have any authority to
introduce in our generation practices and customs that we did not receive
as part of our tradition from our forefathers and rabbis. For the same
reason he expressed his disapproval of the various systems of finding
allusions to contemporary events or facts (for instance "Torah codes,"
whereby secret messages are "discovered" in the Torah by Joining together
letters that appear at a given interval in the text, skipping over
letters, etc.), as well as of "miracle workers" and supposed "mekubalim"
and "future tellers," who tell people how to attain rectification for
their souls, based on arbitrary, contrived nonsense. "What need do we
have for such people," he would ask, "when every person can easily find
out what his duty is in this world by reading the ordinary, classical
texts of mussar and other inspirational works?"

There are many people who subscribe to the belief that information
"from beyond" can be obtained from autistics, through a process called
"facilitation." When asked his opinion of this practice, he said, "It
is forbidden to engage in any practice (in the spiritual realm) that
our predecessors did not do and did not know, and for which we have no
tradition. These procedures must be prohibited with the utmost severity!"

"Although we know that such gedolim as the Vilna Gaon and the Chafetz
Chaim involved themselves with dybbuks," he added, "this is because
they had a tradition about these matters from their predecessors. In
any event, only gedolim of such stature as theirs can do such things;
in our generation there is no one who is permitted to deal with all
these matters."

At this point Rav Schach reminisced about a childhood incident when a
person possessed by a dybbuk passed through his hometown as he was being
brought to Radin for "treatment" by the Chafetz Chaim. He recalled that
although everyone in town knew that a "dybbuk," who was uttering the
most bizarre declarations, was coming to town on his way to Radin,
no one took an interest in it. "The batei midRashim were full," he
related. "No one even thought of interrupting his learning in order
to go see the strange sight (except for some curious children), for
they did not see in this phenomenon any matter of interest for Torah
learners. It goes without saying that it did not enter anyone's mind
to transport him from city to city and put him on display, asking him
questions about the secrets of men's souls and their rectifications,
etc. Only the Chafetz Chaim himself and his students, who were involved
in treating the man, asked him various questions relating to the soul
that was possessing him, in order to ascertain the proper way to remove
the dybbuk  but they did not attach any importance to this matter as a
practical mechanism for obtaining information about the secrets of other
worlds, etc. As the Sages tell us (Chagigah 13a) about such matters,
'With that which is beyond you do not involve yourself!'"


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