Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 019

Sunday, May 22 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 17:16:43 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: SheLo Asani Isha

R Harry Maryles wrote: 
>> ...according to the sources I'm aware of, ... ["shelo assani isha]
>> is [said] because women are obligated in fewer mitzvot than are men.

"Micha Berger" posted on Areivim, Thu, 19 May 2005:
> Since this is Rashi's answer, the discussion is certainly talmud Torah and 
>therefore Avodah, no? 

This is not only Rashi's explanation (Menachos 43b), but is part and
parcel of the very source for making this blessing! The Yerushalmi on
Brachos 9:2 reads:

"Manni Rav Yehudah omare shloshah dvarim tsarich adam lomar b'chol yom:
... barcuh shello assani isha, /she'ain ha-isha metsuvah al hamitzvos/."

"A braissa teaches: Rebbi Yehuda said, 'Each day one should say
... "Baruch the One Who has not made me a woman," /because a woman is
not commanded to perform [all] the mitzvos/."

Again, the very authority who originally proposed the recitation of this
blessing gave this reason as his motive.

Of course, the difficulty RHM has with the reasoning still has to be
addressed, but I thought it would be significant to point out that this
reason is not given&nbsp;merely ex post facto, and&nbsp;certainly is
not the result of apologetics to "feminist" concepts.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 00:38:23 +0200
From: "David Eisen" <davide@arnon.co.il>
RE: wearing tzitzis out

RSM wrote:
>If "u'rieetem oto" refers to the t'chelet alone, the logical
>consequence is not only that "there is little rationale to wear one's
>[all] white strings out" but that there is little (or no) value in wearing
>lavan alone at all. However, on the contrary, the term "u'rieetem oto"
>is precisely the basis of the chachamim's position in Menachot 38 that
>t'chelet is *not* meakev (nor is lavan); the singular "oto" means one may
>see either t'chelet or lavan, not necessarily both (according to Rebbe
>one must see both tchelet and lavan or one has not fulfilled the mitzva).

>Thus I do not understand the claim that "oto" refers to the t'chelet
>alone, which is contradicted by the gemara, whose opinion is accepted

>It seems that the sources cited relate to the continuation of the pasuk
>"uzchartem et kol mitzvotai.."; only t'chelet reminds one of all the
>mitzvot, not the lavan.
>The mitzva itself, however, may be fulfilled by the lavan alone.

I never stated that the lack of Tekhelet prevents one from fulfilling
the mitzva of Tzitzit (i.e., Rebbi's shita) as that would fly in the
face of the Mishna in Menahot 38a; rather, I asserted that in accordance
with Peshuto Shel Miqra the word "Oto" indeed refers only to the P'til

The Gemara is silent with respect to the practice of wearing one's
tzitziot outside and interprets "U'rietem Oto" in Menahot 43 (1) to
learn that the mitzva is to be performed only during the day in
accordance with R. Shimon and therefore is a Mitzvat Aseh Shehazman
G'rama and (2) that one will merit to see the Shekhina if one is
diligent in the performance of the mitzva (hence the singular, masculine
construct of "Oto"). In other words, how to those commentators who
derive the practice of wearing one's tzitziot outside from "U'rietem
Oto," even without Tekhelet on one's Tzitzit, reconcile the Peshuto Shel

RMB wrote:
>Alternatively, chulios are not three windings necessarily. According to
>the Raavad, the Gemara is describing chulios of 7 to 13 windings. This
>also eliminates the idea of 7 to 13 chulios. Our tzitzis do have
>chulios according to the Raavad. (Thus my lack of clarity on RDE's

Indeed, I was not referring to the Raavad's shita, but that of the Rambam.

B'virkat HaTorah,
David Eisen

-----Original Message-----
From: saul mashbaum [mailto:smash52@netvision.net.il]
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 11:20 AM
To: David Eisen; avodah@aishdas.org
Subject: RE: wearing tzitzis out

David Eisen <davide@arnon.co.il> wrote:
> Let's take a step back and examine whether or not this discussion is
> relevant for those (I believe the majority) of Jews who do not wear
> tekhelet on their tzitziot. It is my understanding that the words
> "u'rieetem OTO," which serves as the basis for wearing one's tzitzit
> out, are referring to the "p'til tekhelet" (see Netziv, Rashbam and
> others who write this expressly). <snip>
> Therefore, since the purpose of
> gazing at the tzitzit according to Hazal is precisely to look at
> the blue of the tekhelet which is reminiscent of the color of the ocean,
> which in turn recalls the heavens and which in turn recalls the Kise
> HaKavod -
> would it be accurate to posit that if one does not wear tekhelet,
> there is little rationale to wear one's [all] white strings out?

If "u'rieetem oto" refers to the t'chelet alone, the logical consequence
is not only that "there is little rationale to wear one's [all]
white strings out" but that there is little (or no) value in wearing
lavan alone at all. However, on the contrary, the term "u'rieetem oto"
is precisely the basis of the chachamim's position in Menachot 38 that
t'chelet is *not* meakev (nor is lavan); the singular "oto" means one may
see either t'chelet or lavan, not necessarily both (according to Rebbe
one must see both tchelet and lavan or one has not fulfilled the mitzva).

Thus I do not understand the claim that "oto" refers to the t'chelet
alone, which is contradicted by the gemara, whose opinion is accepted

It seems that the sources cited relate to the continuation of the pasuk
"uzchartem et kol mitzvotai.."; only t'chelet reminds one of all the
mitzvot, not the lavan. The mitzva itself, however, may be fulfilled by
the lavan alone.

RSRH notes that there are two aspects to tzitzit, a negative one and a
positive one: a) lo taturu acharei l'vav'chem.... b) uzchartem et kol
mitzvotai... From the pasuk it seems that the negative aspect is a result
of the positive aspect: one does not go astray because he remembers
all the mitzvot. However, perhaps the two aspects are independent,
and even if, as the sources RDE cites indicate, one does not achieve
the positive aspect without tchelet, the negative one may be achieved
by lavan alone. And since, as we have seen, "u'rieetem oto" may relate
to lavan alone, there may be value to seeing lavan even without t'chelet.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 16:55:38 -0400
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: beli reishis beli sachlis

In Avodah V15 #17, Micha replied to me:
> I can't understand this post.

Maybe because its main purpose was not listing my thoughts but defending
RnTK's attempt at describing her thoughts against your reply to her.
However, since you think my thoughts are worth trying to understand...

>> I see "Rishon..Acharon" as another way of saying "You are Everything,"
>> with Everything being a bit more than something ;-).

> Are you agteeing with me that the expression is about a "_lack_ of
> something", or are you assering it's about "a bit more than something"?

The expression continues, "...umibal'adecha ain...." - i.e. You are
incomparable, Unique. The lack is in our ability to express, and our
expressions can't encompass His qualities, but no, that expression is
IMHO not describing a lack, while "b'li raishis..." is.

Shabbas Shalom!  All the best from
 -Michael Poppers via RIM pager

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Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 17:38:50 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
re:kofrim who say tehillim

micha@aishdas.org posted on: May 19, 2005:
> ...To get back to the original question: What about the typical kehillah,
> where no one is thinking in such lofty terms and the Mi Shebeirach is
> in fact treated as a formulaic way to aid another's help. Is that minyan
> engaging in tefillah, or lachash?

And what about where no one is listening to the mi shebayrach. Or to the
"yehi ratzon's" after krias haTorah, which are petitioning Hashem for
such essential requirements of our safety and well-being-during which
even in the best of minyanim it is common to see no one paying attention,
but conversing, learning or laughing (making sure, of course, to recite
the last paragraph). Or how about during chazaras HaShatz? It seems that
for many all tefillah is indeed formulaic, or lachash.

A (tongue-n-cheek) limud zchus: Since even during chazaras haShatz,
only sicha b'taila is ossur, so it's okay to discuss divray Torah; and
since one must not hurt another's feelings, it's mandatory to listen and
reply to someone who's talking even stam sicha; and since one must make
others happy, it's required to make conversation.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 03:07:17 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Kedusha

R' Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer asked <<< What is Kedusha? ... many people
are not enthused when I invoke the Ramban and Reb Chaim Volozhiner
to explain how a mitzvah impacts mystically on both the character and
sanctity of an individual, and, indeed that of the entire world. >>>

I can't find my Lev Eliyahu, but I think it is on page 18 or 25 of the
English edition where he gives my favorite explanation of Kedusha,
comparing tefillin to a radio. Both will only work if all the wires
(=letters) are intact and properly connected. When working, both can
tap into an invisible and intangible force.

Let's move the moshol to radio tranmitters, rather than receivers. The
radio waves produced by a transmitter are not perceptible to any of our
senses, but have undeniable effects in the physical world, if only one
posesses a received tuned to the correct frequency.

So too, I believe that kedusha is a real force in the world, like light
or gravity. Kedusha is generated by whatever Chazal say generates it,
such as Tefillin, Shabbos, or Eretz Yisrael. If has real effects too:
A proper Mezuza can prevent certain things from happening in a home,
no less than Vitamin C can prevent certain things from happening to a
body. Certain chachamim over the generations have been so in-tune with
kedusha that they can somehow tell whether a certain piece of meat is
kosher or not, or whether a certain person is Jewish or not.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sat, 21 May 2005 23:53:12 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Kedusha

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> [Developing Rav Shimon Shkop's idea i]n other words (my words), qedushah
> isn't merely separation; it's separation FOR a given purpose.

Do you take into account "pen tikdash hamele'ah", where the word is used
to mean "destroy"? I was taught that this was because one separates it
from oneself, by destroying it. Clearly it is not being separated for
a purpose.

Zev Sero

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Date: Sat, 21 May 2005 23:57:42 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Kedusha

micha@aishdas.org posted on: May 20, 2005: 
>That would make qedushah synonymous with taharah.

Cf. Kuzari III:49:

"HaTum'a v'haKedusha sh'nay inyanim zeh knegged zeh; lo yimatsei ha-achad
ella b'himatzai ha-shayni. U-[b']makom sheh-ain kedushah ain tum'a,
ki inyan ha-tum'a aynenu ki im davar sh-assar al baalav lingo'a b'davar
mi-divrei ka-kedushah mi-mah she-hu mehudash lei-lokim."

This of course is not saying that tum'a and kedusha are opposites
(which would implyi that taharah and kedusha are synonymous), but that
they are interdependent in the sense that tum'a is only relevant, only
makes a difference, when there is kedusha, because its sole effect is
to adversely influence one's connection to kedusha.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 00:56:39 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Kedusha

At 05:22 PM 5/20/2005, "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu> wrote:
>                 Yeshaya Lebowits... has argued that there are two
>intellectual traditions about the nature of kdusha, one that viewed kdusha
>as something imbued in us by hakadosh baruchhu, and the other that kdusha
>is something that inherently refers only to hakadosh baruch hu - and
>to us only in a derived sense, to the extent that we strive for avodat
>hashem, and to other objects by their relationship to avodat hashem.
>By this second tradition, kdoshim tihyu is an imperative and an ideal,
>not a statement of fact - ki kol haeda kulam kdoshim is the statement
>of korach, not moshe rabbenu.

>The first intellectual tradition is one that can be viewed as perhaps
>more mainstream (RYGB before had a discussion where he distinguished
>between thinkers and machshava - eg, that RYBS did not do "machshava"
>in his meaning - and what he would consider machshava clearly adopts the
>first viewpoint), as in Kuzari, ramban, maharal, and all kabbala oriented
>writers...... The second one seems to be implicit (almost explicit)
>in the rambam, and some more modern thinkers

>The second position, or at least a variant of it (in dialectical
>tension with the first), is, however, (IMHO), quite common today,
>perhaps explaining the response to RYGB.

Indeed, Reb Tzadok in many places makes the point that Korach was correct. 
For example, Machshavos Charutz #19
(cited in full at: http://rygb.blogspot.com/2005/05/kedusha.html)
I am curious about RMS's assertion about the Rambam.

In the Moreh 1:54 he explains Kedoshim Teeheyu as emulating Hashem and in 
3:47 he explains it as "Kedushas Mitzvos:"
(also cited in full at: http://rygb.blogspot.com/2005/05/kedusha.html)
seems pretty conventional to me - I do not understand what Lebowits meant.


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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 03:42:22 GMT
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
re: Hebrew counting

>: I'm not sure this is restricted to biblical Hebrew anyway. "Sho'alin
>: vedoreshin behilchot haPesahh kodem laPesahh sheloshim yom". Does
>: anybody have a counter-example?

See the first three words of Y'vamos and of K'risos.


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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 18:59:35 +1000
From: "Rabbi Chaim Ingram" <judaim@matra.com.au>
Re: Sefira question

[Forwarded by RSBA. -mi]

Since Hebrew is Lashon haKodesh, there is a reason for every grammatical
rule. Indeed the Hebrew Languge bears eloquent testimony to the fact
echoed in halacha (when counting for minyan) that when you have a
group of over ten, you cease to count individuals - the group becomes
a singular entity.

Why not the number ten itself. Because ten you are counting to ascertain
that you have a Minyan. There you still DO count individuals, albeit
via a Pasuk. Once the OLAM (No 10) is estrrablished you proceed to your
singular entity.

Thus we see that the gezera shava from which we learn out that ten makes
a minyan (eda-eda) is really just an asmakhta ro something our Chazal
already knew through massorah and through the breathtaking accuracy of
Lashon haKodesh.

Rabbi Chaim Ingram

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Date: Sat, 21 May 2005 23:51:17 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: kofrim who say tehillim

On May 17, 2005 David Riceman wrote
> > <me>the Rambam
> > holds that saying tehillim doesn't help, and the heter of pikuah nefesh
> > applies only to doing helpful activities, not useless activities.

> <Where do you see this in the above quoted Rambam?>

> See the previous halacha (AZ 11:11); the Rambam says there that l'hisha does
> not help and is permitted only to calm the ill person.

Yes, but where do you see that "the Rambam holds that saying tehilim
doesn't help" and that "the heter of pikuach nefesh applies only to
doing helpful activities". First of all, the Rambam doesn't say that
he is talking about pikuach nefashos. Second of all, he states openly
that lichisha doesn't help at all and yet it is mutar because it has
psychological benefits for the choleh. Tehilim would theoretically be
no different if it weren't for the pasuk of "v'yihiyu chaim linafshecha".

>  In the case of
> l'hisha using psukim the Rambam rules that the heter doesn't override kfirah
> (cf. Rif Berachos 3a).

Like I mentioned, the Rambam never states that he is refering to pikuach
nifashos and thus, you have no proof that the heter wouldn't override
the kefira issues under those circumstances. Incidentally, I believe the
way you understand the Rambam in halachah 12 is a bit off. The Rambam is
not talking about "lichisha using pesukim"; rather he is talking about
lichisha in conjunction with pesukim. This is why he says that "not
only is one b'chlal the michabrim and minashchim" i.e. due to lichisha,
"they are also b'chlal kofrim" due to the misuse of Torah for the purposes
of refuah. (see SA Y.D. 179,8)

> <The reason you cannot read
> a verse from the Torah to heal someone is because the implication of the
> pasuk "v'yihiyu chaim linafshecha" (Mishlei) implies that Torah is to be
> used as a refuah for the soul, not the body. The efficacy of saying a pasuk
> in connection to refua is not discussed. For all we know, it might help yet
> despite this it is assur to do.>

> See above, the Rambam reads "af al pi she'eino mo'il klum".

Referring to lichisha, not Tehilim.

> <In fact, the Rambam states that when using
> tehilim to increase your z'chus in order to save you from tzaros and harm,
> it is mutar to do, implying that saying tehilim for physical assistance
> help e.g. we are always saying tehilim for people who live in EY.>

> How can doing an aveirah increase your zechuyoth?

Good question. I don't have a perfectly satisfactory answer for you but I
can definitely prove to you that doing something partially wrong can help.
My proof is from Eliezer eved Avraham who was minachesh and despite the fact
that it was improper, Hashem gave him hatzlachah. Perhaps in a similar vein,
although Hashem doesn't want us to use the Torah to heal the sick, l'maaseh
the words of Torah have certain properties that invariably work to pass on
their zchus to the sick person. And despite the fact that the person who was
learning was not supposed to have that kavana in mind, but the Torah
learning, regardless of his kavana, creates a certain shleimus in him i.e. a

> In fact the heter according to the Shulhan Arukh seems to be predicated on
> the magical efficacy of lahash.

How do you see this? The SA states openly that lichisha is eino moel klum
(halachah 6)

 > If the people who are saying tehillim are
> following your logic then they're doing aveiros even according to the
> Shulhan Arukh.  Then the situation is even worse - - they lack any
> support for their practice.

See my last comment. IMO, either the SA holds that the z'chus of Torah is
allowed to be used for pikuach neesh, or he holds that the psychological
benefits of lichisha and korey pasuk min haTorah are helpful in assisting in
the recovery of the choleh and thus are mutar. Under no circumstances did
the SA mean to say that the "magical qualities" of lichisha have any
intrinsic affect whatsoever.

> > <me>So, according to the Rambam all the shuls in my town are staffed and
> > populated by kofrim.

> <Well, not exactly. According to the Bach, the Rambam didn't mean the kind
> Kofer that looses his chelek l'olam haba. (I'm not sure how much of a
consolation   > that is for you...perhaps a chatzi nechama :-)>

> The Bach doesn't distinguish between types of kofrim.  What he says there
> (YD 179 s.v. "kathav ha Rambam") is that the Rambam used the phrase "bichlal
> hakofrim" to mean "similar to kofrim in one respect". 

That's what I meant.

> It's not often that I
> have a chance to disprove a Bach by citing PG Wodehouse, so I'll leap at the
> opportunity.

> "Not kofrim?" repeated his lordship blankly. "But - -" He suddenly percieved
> a flaw in the argument.  "But he said they were," he pointed out cleverly.
> "Yes, I remember distinctly.  He said they were kofrim."

I'm sorry to say but the above paragraph seems ludicrous. How can one
compare a gentile author's understanding of the Rambam to the Bach's? Such
that quoting him is automatically considered a disproof of the Bach? As
PG Wodehouse knew nothing of Torah and the Bach is one of our gedoley
haAcharonim, I believe that comparing them reveals a relative proportion
of values that is somewhat unbalanced.

> I think you're missing my question.  How can one be part of a tzibbur which
> organizes heretical activities? In fact, even if one accepts the idea that
> they're not really kofrim since they follow the psak of the Shulhan Arukh
> (assur but not kfirah), how can one be part of a tzibbur which organizes
> activities which are assur?

What is the issur? If your tzibur is saying tehilim for people who are
hospitalized or are seriously sick at home, there is no issur according
to the SA or the Rama. If your shul says tehilim for people with colds,
than you should make a macha'ah and stop the practice, that's all.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 11:32:04 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: re:kofrim who say tehillim

R' David Riceman asked <<< 3. The argument of #2 assumes the Ramban's
theory that disease is primarily induced by sin. My impression is that
the bulk of people who get this (tehillim) treatment are very elderly,
often beyond average life span. Does this mean that older people are
worse than younger people? I find the Ramban's theory empirically very
hard to justify. >>>

Here's a guess:

No, the elderly are no more evil than the young. But HaShem is erech
apayim, very patient, and does not allow the evil of the young to manifest
itself as disease. IOW, in the hopes that the person will do teshuva,
the same amount of sin will not appear as disease in a young person,
but as the person gets old and his time for doing teshuva is running out,
that same amount of sin will cause the elderly to become ill.

One could argue against the above, by saying that the clock shouldreset
itself to zero each Yom Kippur as we continue life with a clear slate. But
if I recall correctly, there are some aveiros for which YK is *not*
mechaper, and my above explanation could refer to the accumulation of
those specific sins.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 00:37:38 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: Reality of the Universe

On Thu, 19 May 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
> Suppose I turn the crank on a hand powered flashlight. The light only
> exists only while I'm turning the crank. Does that make the light less
> real than I am?

Two things. First, form a qualitative perspective, one could rightfully
say that the cranker has more existence than the light because the light
depends on the cranker, although from an ontological perspective, this
would not hold true. Perhaps the Rambam was simply giving qualitative
reasons why Hashem's metzius is more Emes than ours, not necessarily
that he exists more than us.

Second, if you invoke the imagery of us being only a figment of Hashem's
imagination, or at most, his word, than his existence is more real than
ours just as our existence would be considered more real than a dream,
even in the ontological sense.

Which one of these the Rambam actually means is not absolutely clear
from Yesodei haTorah.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 01:16:59 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: The Rambam and Korbonos (was psak and Hashkafa)

micha@aishdas.org posted on May 17, 2005:
> The Narvoni understands the Rambam as saying that
> qorbanos address an innate human need, which we find emerged in AZ. This
> also answers the Ramban's question about Noach's qorban (at a time when
> no ovdei AZ lived) or the fact that Kayin and Hevel gave qorbanos before
> there ever was AZ.

> I play with these ideas in the machashavah section of
> <http://www.aishdas.org/mesukim/5764/vayikra.pdf> and in my blog at
> <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2005/03/purpose-of-qorbanos.shtml>.

In support of this understanding of the Rambams position (perhaps, I seem
to recall, brought by the Narvoni as well), note that the Rambam includes
even tefillah as not quite the ideal service to Hashem. To the Rambam,
pure intellectual understanding of Hashem is the ideal, but being human,
we /need/ prayerand mitzvos maasiyosand korbonnosto approach that ideal:

MN III:32 (Friedlander translation):

"[T]he sacrificial service is not the primary object [of the commandments
about sacrifice], whilst supplications, prayers and similar kinds of
worship are nearer to the primary object, and indispensable for obtaining
it... [Therefore w]e were not commanded to sacrifice in every place,
and in every time, or to build a temple in every place, or to permit
anyone who desires to become priest and to sacrifice. ... But prayer
and supplication can be offered everywhere and by every person. The
same is the case with the commandment of tzizit (Num. xv. 38); mezuzah
(Deut. vi. 9; xi. 20); tefillin (Exod. xiii. 9, 16): and similar kinds
of divine service."

Tsitsis and tefillin and sacrifices, etc., are physical acts, which
thereby put them at a distance from the purely intellectual. Prayer and
supplication are acts of avodas haleiv, "nearer to the primary object, and
indispenable for obtaining it." But all the above are valid and positive
vehicles of human attempts to reach the ideal of true intellectual
d'veykus Hashem.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 08:02:44 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: authority of poskim in the realm of hashkafa

On Fri, 20 May 2005 R' Gil Student wrote:
> I would think that the Kessef Mishneh in Hilchos Mamrim 2:2 implies
> that there is no issur in saying that Chazal erred, even in an halachic
> matter. He asks why one cannot pasken against the Gemara and then *does
> not* answer that Chazal were always correct. He gives a different answer.

His answer (Mamrim 2:1) is that the chachamim of each of the respective
generations (beginning of amoraic and beginning of savoraic) accepted
upon themselves not to argue on the previous generations. Chazon Ish
Hilchos Mamrim explains that the reason they accepted not to dispute
their predecessors is because they were cognizant of their relatively
superior greatness. Thus, the kesef mishna can be learned in this context.

> This only refers to an *issur* in the matter. It does not refer to the
> *advisability* of disagreeing with people who were close to Sinai and
> spiritual giants.

Generally I am the first one on the "niskatnu hadoros" line but everything
has its limitations. Look, the Gemara says "Rav tana upalig" and yet,
Shmuel who was his contemporary and his bar plugta was not able to argue
on a tana. Also, we find a very large period of time for the tanaic era
and yet later tanaim are found arguing with earlier ones. We therefore
see that the "closeness to Sinai" doctrine can not always be used and
thus must search for alternative explanations for the chiluk between the
tanaic era and the amoraic era. I believe the Chazon Ish (along with a
historical elucidation of the historical period by the Doros haRoishonim)
is the way to go.

Simcha Coffer 

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 08:37:30 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: hashkafa and psak

On Sat, 21 May 2005 Micha Berger: 
> : A) One is to say nishtanu hativ'im which means that at the time of Chazal,
> As in RGS's essay (and "Shemiras HaNefesh), that's not the only peshat
> in nishtaneh hateva.

> I know of three:
> 1- The laws of physics or biology changed since.

> 2- Breeding, diet and/or medicine changed, so that things turn out different
> now than they would have in chazal's day. The problem is that this answer
> doesn't cover non-biological cases, nor explain how a 7 month permature
> baby would be healthier than an 8 month one.

> 3- R' Avraham Ben haRambam translates it as "scientific theory changed".
> I don't know where, I saw this in ShN, a secondary source. This position
> is that chazal were using contemporary theories that we now consider wrong.
> Sound familiar?

Well, you admit that #2 is insufficient and I reject #3 which leaves me with
only #1 which is precisely how I represented it.

> 1- Mashal venimshal. The Ramchal writes that Chazal's science, like their
> aggadic stories, were used as meshalim for which they only cared about
> the nimshal. Illustrating a point doesn't require checking whether the
> metaphor is good science or not. This only works for science cited in
> aggaditos, though.

> 2- Lemashal. As an example. In this case, chazal's pesaq stands --
> for a situation that didn't actually arise. One might say that if there
> were rodents that grow from the dirt, or an equivalent case, that would
> be the din. Without looking to whether the rodents in question actually
> did. Picture today, if some scientific discovery is in the news, people
> often ask famous rabanim about the implications. And they discuss the
> case, saaying what would be the din if the discovery turns out to be
> true. Not a declaration that the science is necessarily correct.

I agree with both above interpretations although to be honest, I only had
the first one in mind.

> : "That is why it's so relevant that the Rambam, who (as far as we can tell)
> : coined the term makchish magideha, did question not only their science
> : but even halachic conclusions based on that science to pasqen lequla!"

> : So, when I wrote above "This may be true but if Chazal used science to
> : come to certain conclusions in Halachah, then what you are saying is
> : that Chazal would then be fallible in Torah matters too, right?" and
> : RMB responded "Wrong", I have yet to see precisely where I have erred.

> See the above. Also, see my earlier post about pesaqim before the year
> 4001.

I'm sorry R' Micha, I still don't get it.

> :> Why are you comfortable saying this about the Rambam, but not Chazal?

> : Because the Rambam openly states, on many occasions, that he accepts Greek
> : philosophical doctrines regarding this or that matter. Chazal do not do
> : this...

> They don't? Chokhmah bagyim taamin doesn't mean they sought the scientific
> opinions of non-Jews?

I don't know if they actively sought it out or not but regardless, this is
different than the Rambam. The Rambam quotes certain doctrines and their
exponents by name and explicitly accepts their shittos. Chazal did not do
this which is why we have the ability to reconcile Chazal''s shittos using
several methods that would simply be disingenuous if applied to the Rambam. 

> :> Having a source does not mean having a concept of pesaq. Requiring
> :> a source doesn't mean azlinan basar ruba, or that I can't revive the
> :> position of a tanna that no amorah or rishon took.

> : I have responded to R' Harry several times about this issue. All I can
> : do is repeat. I am not discussing elective hashkafa. I am discussing
> : mandatory hashkafa. If, for instance, one believes that Hashem has a body,
> : his shechitah is treif (according to the Rambam).

> Are you really willing to accept the implications of declaring this a
> halachic position? See below.

Absolutely not! I am simply engaging you in an academic discussion
and in no way is my estimation of your religiosity compromised a ki hu
zeh. As I mentioned to RHM, there are different shittos here, not all
of the gedoley yisroel are of one mind, and therefore, at this time,
there is not yet a universally binding pesak. By invoking R' Elyashiv,
I simply meant to highlight the importance of the matter at hand as
opposed to RHM's approach that the whole issue is simply a matter of
elective hashkafa. Please see below.

> On Fri, May 20, 2005 at 12:55:05PM -0500, Gershon Seif wrote:
> Pardon the following emotionally-loaded argument, but I want to make it
> clear what we're really talking about.

> If R' Elyashiv is giving a pesaq, then I have to be up-front with
> the chevrah. Don't drink wine with me unless it's mevushal.... 

> Are you really ready to take that step? 

I hereby wish to publicly proclaim that if I happened to be in Micha
Berger's town for Shabbos, and he invited me for a meal (what a meal that
would be!), as an appropriate guest, I would feel obligated to appear
with some sort of present. The present would be a bottle of non-mevushal
wine which I would ask my gracious host to kindly pour into my Chazon Ish
sized becher. I would declare that Hashem created the world in six days
(without getting into the definition of six) and than unhesitatingly
consume the entire contents of that blessed kos shel bracha. Perhaps on
day I will be zocheh!

Simcha Coffer

Go to top.


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