Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 040

Tuesday, June 28 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 17:38:35 +1000
From: "Meir Rabi" <meirabi@optusnet.com.au>
Timtum Ha'lev in situations where food is muttar me'ikar ha'din

From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
> In fact, in my Bar Ilan CD search I found that Mishne Halachos 16:137
> specifically states that even where something is muttar to eat because
> of bittul b'rov, nevertheless, one may be machmir not to eat it because
> of timtum ha'lev.....

Upon reflection of Moshe's observations, note the Beney Yisaschar
[Adar MaAmar 2-7] who suggests (and draws same conclusion from Shelo"Hk)
that it is preferable [Mitzvah Hoo BeDavKeh] to consume the food that
contains acceptable levels of non kosher food.

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Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 22:38:59 -0400
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Comrade Korach

It seems that Korach was the first communist. It is interesting to
interpret the psukim along those lines:

"Korach and his crowd attacked Moshe and Aharon, and said, 'You have taken
too much! The whole nation is holy, and Hashem is amongst them - why do
you raise yourself above them?' " In other words, they were complaining
that everyone should be equal, and there should be nothing differentiating
one person from another - the basic premise of every Utopian plan.

Moshe answered, "Tomorrow morning, Hashem will let us know who is his
and holy and bring them close to him, and he will bring close the ones
he chooses. Do this: Tomorrow, take pans and burn incense upon them in
front of Hashem, and the ones who Hashem chooses are the holy ones -
you have taken too much, sons of Levi!"

Moshe was challenging their core beliefs. He was telling them that man's
place in this world is not inherently equal (although it is fair). He
told them that the only way that he and they would be able to decide
their conflict would be by taking part in a test whose results would
leave a clear winner and loser - something inimical to their stated
beliefs! That's why he concluded, "You have taken too much, sons of
Levi!" because by them accepting his challenge, they were admitting to
the hypocrisy of their own views.

After that line of reasoning didn't work - as they accepted his challenge
- Moshe tried a different tactic to forestall the conflict.

"Listen, sons of Levi: Isn't it enough that Hashem separated your entire
tribe from the rest of the nation, and brought you close to him to
perform the duties of the Mishkan and to stand in front of the Jewish
Nation to serve them - Hashem brought you and the entire Tribe of Levi
close to him - and you still want the Priest-hood?"

He was telling them that now that they admitted (by accepting his
challenge) that there are various levels - winners, losers and some more
besides - they should look honestly at themselves, and realize that they
were doing quite well performing a select function in Judaism.

"Therefore, you and your cohorts are attacking Hashem - not Aharon,
for what is he in this decision that you should attack him?"

If they wouldn't admit to being part of an exalted part of Israel, then
Moshe would be forced to come to the conclusion that it wasn't Moshe and
Aharon they were attacking, because that position was given to them by
Hashem - he could only conclude that they were attacking Hashem!

Moshe summoned Dasan and Avirom to come before him in the hopes that they
would see the reason in his words and mend their ways. They answered him,
"Not only did you take us out of the wonderful land of Egypt, but you
persist in ruling over us! You didn't fulfill your promise to bring us
to the Promised Land and conquer it for us!"

Their point was that their attack was specifically against Moshe, and that
they wouldn't concede his point that they were attacking Hashem. Moshe,
angered by their self-imposed blindness, said to Hashem:

"Don't accept their incense tomorrow - I have not accepted a gift from
any of them, nor wronged them in any way." He was saying that although
there would be room to have mercy on Korach and his cronies if their
attacks were only against Moshe and Aharon (although this is hard for us
to understand, remember that Moshe was anav m'kol adam), but since their
attacks were really against Hashem, contrary to their stated arguments
(as there was no real reason for them to be angry at him, as he had not
wronged them in any way), Hashem shouldn't have pity on them and should
not accept their offering.

There's a lesson here - many times we see someone do something that he
or she says is for a good purpose, l'shem shamayim, while in reality
it's a terrible thing that they're doing. It is not necessarily the
case that they know they're doing wrong, most likely they are blinding
themselves to the truth. Korach and his band were all great men before
their downfall - it doesn't make sense that such people should attack
Hashem - but they blinded themselves to the true import of their actions,
and were convinced they were doing the right thing. A friend of mine used
to say (as he was beating me in chess), "When in doubt, think!" As the
pasuk says, Ashrei adam m'fached tamid - lucky is the man who is always
in doubt - because he is the one who thinks!

 -from my blog, www.esefer.blogspot.com

Someone told me that R' Tzadok says something similar to what I said
about Korach being a communist. Has anyone heard this and/or have a
mar'eh makom?


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 03:55:32 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
re: TIDE

"Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org> wrote:
> I highly doubt that the Gra included English literature in his definition 
> of CC!

I'm sure your right and that's a good point. 

> In any event, he was not a precursor of TuM, because he explained that CC's 
> are valuable in order to understand Torah. This is in contradistinction to 
> TuM, which holds that CC's are inherently valuable, independent of any 
> additional understanding of Torah they may cause.

True as well but here I would only say that in Dr. Lamm's "Torah uMada"
he uses the GRA as one of his perspectives. If you limit TuM to valuing
Mada on a very high level and do not flesh it out to give it independant
value (as Dr. Lamm ultimately does) you can say that TuM DOES tie in
nicley with the GRA's position that CC's are valuable in order to
understand Torah. This is one of Dr. Lamm's building blocks in his
ultimate thesis. Using the GRA's model as the definition of TuM as does
Dr. Lamm in his book one can say the GRA was the progentor of it.

I don't think TIDE views secular studies as an "aid to learning" Torah
as part of it's Hashkafa, does it?


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Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 23:17:49 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
re: TIDE

At 12:02 PM 6/27/2005, Harry Maryles wrote:
>IIRC, TIDE is more utilitarian and values that part of CC that would
>make one a better Jew (Derech Eretz)... and would therefore not
>include all Chachmas Chitzinius. But if the GRA did make a Siyum on
>CC, that implies that he valued ALL of CC, a concept more in line
>with TuM than TIDE. By way of example I would point to the famous
>essay by R Aharon Lichtenstein where he points to his study of
>English literature in order for him to appreciate certain portions of
>Tanach better. According to the Shittas HaGRA as you outlined:  If a
>person lacked knowledge of CC's he would lack correspondingly (or,
>according to the other version, much more) in Chochmas HaTorah. This
>is TuM much more so than TIDE, is it not?

I highly doubt that the Gra included English literature in his definition 
of CC!

In any event, he was not a precursor of TuM, because he explained that CC's 
are valuable in order to understand Torah. This is in contradistinction to 
TuM, which holds that CC's are inherently valuable, independent of any 
additional understanding of Torah they may cause.


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 04:04:33 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>

> "I hope no one is going to make any comments along
> the line of "Ask your rabbi who to rely on and who
> not to rely on".

Does anyone see the issurim involved with all the kashrus hock? It
is one thing for people to be suspicious of certain hechsharim but
it has gotten to the point that people are accustomed to the phrase:
"We don't eat that hechshar." "Our rav says not to eat it." Does anyone
ask why? What are the issues involved in motzi shem ra that make people
comfortable harming another person's parnassa by whipping out a frum line
like, "My rav is choshesh that hechsar so we don't eat it." Without even
knowing why and what the issues are, we are quick to withdraw a person's
parnassa, meaning those that work for that hechshar, which may go out of
business if they are spoken about like that. What are we allowed to say
about a hechshar that we have no idea about but we heard that "those"
people down the street either don't eat that hechshar or I heard that
someone told them that there's a chashash on it.

What do we do? Is this at all proper for Torah observant families to
have these discussions which are a given?

brent kaufman

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Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 23:47:28 -0500 (CDT)
From: <zlochoia1@verizon.net>
hashkafa and pesak

 Micha objected to my designation of the Rabbi Hillel of T.B. Sanhedrin
 98b, 99a as an "obscure Amora". He is correct. In my desire to make
 it abundantly clear that we are not discussing the famous Hillel (the
 founder of the Patriarchate), I used a questionable phrase. I meant
 to imply that I am in doubt about the identity of this latter Hillel.
 He may, indeed, be the Patriarch, Hillel, who lived in the 4th century
 and was a contemporary of the Babylonian Amora, Rav Yosef (the one
 who summarily rejects Hillel's thesis that the messianic king is not to
 be expected). That would account for his title as Rebbe (as opposed
 to Rav) and the fact that Rav Yosef in his dismissal does not used
 the more derogatory phrase, "zil kri bei rav" (go back to cheder).
 On the other hand, the expression cited in the name the famous Amora,
 Rav, in San. 98b seems to be a polemic against the corresponding
 phrase used by R' Hillel - and is so understood by Rav Yosef.. Now,
 Rav lived well before R' Hillel. The Hillel in question may, then,
 be a grandson of Rebbe Yehuda Hanasi. Yet, the fact that the
 disputants of R' Hillel are only Babylonian Amora'im may indicate
 that this HIllel was a Bavli, as well.

The other question raised about the basis for assuming that Hezekiah
was the intended messianic king, and that such a kingship had become
a failed concept (the apparent view of Hillel) - is cetainly cogent.
Not only is such a view directly contradicted by Zechariah 9:9,10 that Rav
Yosef brings as proof text, but there are numerous verses from earlier
prophets that lived after Hezekiah that could be brought.. For example
Jeremiah 33:15,16 and Ezekiel 37:24,25. How, then, could Hillel make
such an error? We can only speculate. The Patriarch, Hillel II, lived
in a time when there was much excitement and hope. A Roman emperor,
Julian (called the Apostate by Christians), had arisen who sought to
undo the work of Constantine in making Christianity the religion of
the empire.. He befriended the Jews and encouraged or ordered the
rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash.. Unfortunately, his reign was brief
and his efforts came to naught. Perhaps Hillel had visions of a
rebuilt Temple in his days as a Nasi. Yet he could not make a Davidic
claim since his family's connection to David was through a maternal line
(the family of the Babylonian Resh Galuta (Exilarch) did claim such a
patrilineal descent). Perhaps he was despondent with the failure of
the new Cyrus (Julian) and his Temple project. Whatever the reason
for the error, the Gemara does not hide the fact .

Yitzchok Zlochower

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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 08:32:26 -0400
From: "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>

At 07:02 AM 06/28/2005, [RYGB] wrote:
>I too *heard* that the Gra studied chochmos chitzoniyos in oso makom. I
>now no longer believe the authenticity of that assertion and have yet
>to see it reliably verified.

The son of a friend of mine claimed that this was indeed the case. One
summer, when they were in NH, they saw an outhouse. My friend told
his son to go over and have a look. His son refused, given the odor.
My friend then said to his son, "Do you really believe that the GRA spent
time in such a place studying secular subjects?" His son replied, "No!"

Those who claim that the GRA studied secular subjects in the "bathroom"
seem to think that he had a beautiful tiled chamber in which to do this.
They have no idea of how primitive a facility an outhouse was in the past.

Y. Levine

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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 10:05:54 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
re: TIDE

At 01:09 AM 6/27/2005, you wrote:
>" I guess we must disagree then about what is ikkar and what is tafel: To 
>me, the contribution that German Jewry made to the world of Judaism was 
>not some quaint minhagim, but a weltanschauung."This is not the point - 
>(the anonymous of 8:21 pm who responded to write about the importance of 
>german minhagim is not me) - I was trying to describe the primary strength 
>of the German community and their self-identity. It's (almost) 
>inconceivable that the Yekkishe community would adhere to TIDEism and not 
>their minhagim; that's not the way things work. As already stated, the 
>adherence to TIDE is a subset of their adherence to their traditions, with 
>TIDE a late tradition. No Yekke would write as you do. I don't disagree 
>that the philosophy of TIDE is more significant than any given minhag, but 
>I am not a Yekke.

Ah, but I am a Yekke!

Rav Dessler in, IIRC, the fourth volume, makes the point that each galus
had a unique derech avodah which is their eternal contribution to Am
Yisroel. R' Avrohom Elya makes a similar point, somewhat obliquely, in
B'Ikvos HaYirah, as does, of course, Reb Tzadok, who (of course!) gives
the phenomenon a metaphysical tie-in to the land-climate in which the
derech arises (REED's note is evidently based on Reb Tzadok).

TIDE is merely a philosophical expression of the uniquely German derech
in Avodas Hashem. I believe a German Jew davening Nusach Sefarad, Heaven
forfend! :-), could be just as much a Yekke in terms of his Derech Avodah
as one who davened the High Frankfurt nusach.

And, a person, conversely, need not be a born Yekke to adopt TIDE -
witness Rabbi Shelomoh Danziger, for example. It is a commitment to a
derech, not to minhagim, that is of essence. The minhagim are peripheral.

[Email #2. -mi]

At 01:09 AM 6/27/2005, you wrote:
>"As for TuM, to the extent that it has any legitimacy as a derech, as 
>opposed to a concession to the American milieu of the time, it is only in 
>RYBS's statements on the topic that we can find its validation."Is the 
>objection to an ineffective form of TIDE in practice or to a formal 
>philosophy? I don't get the impression that TIDE crowd objected to TUM 
>formally; I think they felt that YU as an institution had failed in 
>practice to live up to the ideal. I think this is why there is so much 
>difficulty defining the difference between TIDE and TUM without recourse 
>to the personality of RYBS. There probably isn't so much difference in 
>theory. In practice, TUM was taken up by a different crowd, for different 
>purposes, and in a yeshiva-type setting rather than in a communal one.

To extend the metaphor used by RYBS in the Ramasayim Tzofim speech,
in TuM there are two mountains to scale, Chorev and Olympus, while in
TIDE there is only Chorev to scale, with some elements of Olympus used
to assist in the process.

Thus, true TuM has no problem with - would indeed encourage - the study
of areas of wisdom that are incompatible with Torah, while TIDE cannot
and would not.

[Email #3. -mi]

At 06:55 AM 6/28/2005, [RHM] wrote:
>True as well but here I would only say that in Dr. Lamm's "Torah uMada"
>he uses the GRA as one of his perspectives. If you limit TuM to valuing
>Mada on a very high level and do not flesh it out to give it independant
>value (as Dr. Lamm ultimately does) you can say that TuM DOES tie in
>nicley with the GRA's position that CC's are valuable in order to
>understand Torah. This is one of Dr. Lamm's building blocks in his
>ultimate thesis. Using the GRA's model as the definition of TuM as does
>Dr. Lamm in his book one can say the GRA was the progentor of it.

True enough. If you change TuM you can configure it to fit with the GRA ;-)


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 09:56:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
re: TIDE

"Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org> wrote: 
> True enough. If you change TuM you can configure it to fit with the
> GRA ;-)
Sender: owner-avodah@aishdas.org
Precedence: bulk
Reply-To: avodah@aishdas.org
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

I guess my point was that TuM seems to have a componenet that TIDE does
not: the idea that the study of Mada is beneficial to understanding
Torah better. This fits better with the GRA than TIDE, no?


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 10:10:42 -0400
From: arnold.lustiger@exxonmobil.com
RYBS on Territorial Compromise

Here is a translation of a five minute segment of the Rav's 1967 Teshuva
drasha (although the drasha was summarized in Al Hateshuva, this portion
never appeared). After some discussion by the moderators, it was decided
that this post was more appropriate for Avodah than for Areivim - there
are obvious political ramifications to the post which will hopefully be
subsumed under, as Micha calls it, "fodder for discussing when one goes
to a secular professional,and when a rav".

For an almost diametrically opposed POV, listen to the Rav's talmid
muvhak, RHS' lecture on the Gaza disengagement (I don't have the website,
but there are at least two pro-settlement links to the lecture out there,
in addition to the YU site.)

I donג€™t intend here to engage in politics., but this is a matter
that has weighed heavily upon me since last June. I am very unqualified
to assess the extent of the deliverance that the RBSג€™O accomplished
on behalf of Klal Yisrael and the Jewish victory over those who hate
Israel. But in my opinion, the greatest deliverance, and the greatest
miracle, is simply that He saved the population of Israel from total
annihilation. Donג€™t forget that the Arabs were Hitlerג€™s students,
Amalek, and in regard to the Arabs there is a Mitzvah of utterly blotting
out Amalekג€™s memory. Today they are Hitler, they want to uproot the
Jewish people, and it is possible that Russia is together with them in
this regard, so the status of Amalek falls upon Russia as well. The blood
congeals when one considers what would have happened to the Yishuv,
to the hundreds of thousands of religious Jews, of gedolei Yisrael,
or to all the Jews in Israel for that matterג€“ there is no difference
ג€“ all Jews are Jews. This is the greatest salvation ג€“ but also that
the State itself was saved. Because even if the population would remain
alive, but if God forbid the tate of Israel would fall, there would be a
wave of assimilation and apostasy in America as well as in all Western
countries. In England I heard that Rothchild said that the Israelג€™s
victory saved Judaism in France. He is 100% correct ג€“ this was better
articulated by him than many Rabbis in Israel regarding the ultimate
significance of the victory

But one thing I want to say. These reasons constitute the primary
salvation behind the six day War. Indeed, we rejoice in the [capture of]
the Western Wall, in the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Rachelג€™s tomb.
I understand the holiness of the Kotel Hamaarovi. I studied Kodshim since
I was a child: Kidsha leasid lavo , kedushas makom, kedushas mechitzos,
lifnei Hashem, these are concepts with which I grew up in the cradle. The
Kotel Hamaarovi is very dear, and the Har Habayis is very dear to me: I
understand the kedusha perhaps much more than many religious journalists
who have written so much about the Kotel Hamaarovi. But we exagerrate
its importance. Our Judaism is not a religion of shrines, and it seems
from this that it lies in the interests of the Ministry of religions
to institute a [foreign] concept of holy sites in Judaism ג€“ a concept
we never had. We indeed have the concept of kedushas mokom, this is the
bais hamikdash, [but] graves are not mekomos hakdoshim. As important as
kivrei tzaddikim are, they are not holy. Perhaps there is a different
halacha. To visit kivrei tzaddikim is important, like mekomos hakdoshim.

I will tell you a secret ג€“ it doesnג€™t matter under whose jurisdiction
the Kotel Hamaarovi lies ג€“ whether it is under the ministry of parks or
under the ministry of religions, either way no Jew will disturb the site
of the Kotel Hamaarovi. One is indeed on a great spiritual level if he
desires to pray at the Kotel Hamaarovi,. But many mistakenly believe that
the significance of the victory lies more in regaining the Kotel Hamaarovi
than the fact that 2 million Jews were saved, and that the Malkhut Yisrael
was saved. Because really, a Jew does not need the Kotel Hamaarovi to be
lifnei Hashem Naturally, mikdash has a separate kedusha which is lifnei
Hashem But there is a lifnei Hashem which spreads out over the entire
world, whereever a Jew does not sin, whereever a Jew learns Torah,
whereever a Jew does mitzvos, ג€œminayen sheshnayim yoshvim veoskim
beTorah hashechinah imahemג€ ג€“ through the entire world. I want you
to understand, I give praise and thanks to the RBSO for liberating the
Kotel Hamaarovi and for liberating and for removing all Eretz Yisrael
from the Arabs, so that it now belongs to us. But I donג€™t need to rule
whether we should give the West Bank back to the Arabs or not to give
the West Bank to the Arabs: we Rabbis should not be involved in decisions
regarding the safety and security of the population. These are not merely
Halakhic rulings : these decisions are a matter of pikuach nefesh for the
entire population. And if the government were to rule that the safety
of the population requires that specific territories must be returned,
whether I issue a halakhic ruling or not, their decision is the deciding
factor. If pikuach nefesh supercedes all other mitzvos, , it supercedes
all prohibitions of the Torah, especially pikuach nefesh of the yishuv
in Eretz Yisrael. And all the silly statements I read in the newspapers
ג€“ one journalist says that we must give all he territory back, another
says that we must give only some territory back, another releases edicts,
strictures and warnings not to give anything back. These Jews are playing
with 2 million lives. I will say that as dear as the Kotel Hamaarovi is,
the 2 million lives of Jews is more important.

We have to negotiate with common sense as the security of the yishuv
requires. What specifically these security requirements are, I donג€™t
know, I donג€™t understand these things. These decisions require a
military perspective which one must research assiduously. The borders
that must be established should be based upon which will provide more
security. It is not a topic appropriate for which Rabbis should release
statements or for Rabbinical conferences.

Arnold Lustiger
ExxonMobil Research & Engineering

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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 08:39:55 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Comrade Korach

At 10:38 PM 6/27/2005, [RMYG] wrote:
>Someone told me that R' Tzadok says something similar to what I said
>about Korach being a communist. Has anyone heard this and/or have a
>mar'eh makom?

Indeed, Reb Tzadok in many places makes the point that Korach was correct.
For example, Machshavos Charutz #19
(cited in Hebrew in full at: http://rygb.blogspot.com/2005/05/kedusha.html)


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 09:44:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: hechsharim

brent <fallingstar613@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Does anyone see the issurim involved with all the kashrus hock? It
> is one thing for people to be suspicious of certain hechsharim but
> it has gotten to the point that people are accustomed to the phrase:
> "We don't eat that hechshar." "Our rav says not to eat it." Does anyone
> ask why? What are the issues involved in motzi shem ra that make people
> comfortable harming another person's parnassa by whipping out a frum line...
> What do we do? Is this at all proper for Torah observant families to
> have these discussions which are a given?

One has to examine the circumstances of the current controversy. Both
eating unkosher food being Motzie Shem Ra are serious Issurim. Obviously
it is Assur to spread rumor or inuendo about a standing Hechsher
without proof or a relaible source who tells you that a given Hechsher
is untrustworthy. But when respected Talmidei Chachamim who run further
and faster away from these kinds of Issurim than any of us do... tell you
there is a problem, you have no choice but to listen to them and refrain
from eating from those Hechsherim which until now were not questioned (at
least not at this level). We are not talking about Chumros or politics
WRT to the Rabbanut MeHadrin Yerushalyim Hechsher. We are talking about
a serious problem there according to those who have issued this warning.

I have no great joy in bringing this issue to the attention of our
Chevra. In fact it pains me greatly. I hate being the bearer of bad
tidings like this. And I quite enjoyed those resaturants. Last winter
when I was in Israel I ate by some that had this Hechsher. But this past
April when I was there I was shocked to hear of these problems and was
quite saddened at the spiral downward in the trustworthiness of Israeli


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Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 16:54:15 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Fwd (office@etzion.org.il): AVOT -09: Chapter 3 #2 - Jew and Gentile

I didn't think R' Meish Taragin followed Avodah, but maybe I was wrong...


Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 14:42:20 -0700
From: Yeshivat Har Etzion Office <office@etzion.org.il>
Subject: AVOT -09: Chapter 3 #2 - Jew and Gentile
To: yhe-avot@etzion.org.il

                     YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
                    By Rav Moshe Taragin

                Shiur #09: Perek 3, Mishna 18
                       Jew and Gentile

In the eighteenth Mishna of the third perek, Rabbi Akiva provides an
important tandem of values. He articulates the ever-important issue
of how to balance our dual identities as Jews and as human beings. He
assumes that inability to identify with a broader community of humans
is both xenophobic on a moral level, and myopic at an experiential
level. By contrast, sole investment in the human condition accompanied
by disregard for the unique Jewish experience attenuates our religious
sensibilities and dulls our awareness and appreciation of Jewish history.
Balancing these dual and, oftentimes, conflicting identities is no mean
task, and is addressed here by Rabbi Akiva.

He writes, "Man is beloved as he was created in the Divine image.
Extraordinary love was showered upon him in this regard. Jews are loved
in that they are referred to as Hashem's children. Extraordinary love
was displayed in designating them as Hashem's children." Rabbi Akiva's
statement contains both symmetry and disparity. Substantively, Rabbi
Akiva distinguished between Gentiles, who possess a Divine image, and
Jews, who are identified as "Hashem's children." Stylistically, though,
Rabbi Akiva hints at some parity when he employs the same terms --
beloved, extraordinary love (chaviv, chiba yeteira) -- to describe each
population. The only appreciable difference in syntax lies between the
term chaviv (Gentile) and chavivin (Jew); however, the distinction,
though apparent, appears too subtle to imply a broad distinction between
Jew and Gentile.

II. Image and Proximity

Broadly speaking, Rabbi Akiva affirms the Divine image within every
human being, but accounts for a unique status for Jews, captured by the
label of 'child.' Rabbi Akiva's source for applying the Divine image to
Gentiles is, of course, the Torah's employment of the term in Bereishit
(1:27, 9:6), in each instance instructing about the general population
prior to the founding of the Jewish experience. In fact, the gemara in
Sanhedrin (57a) prohibits a Gentile from murder based on one of these
verses (Bereishit 9:6): "One who spills a person's blood -- his own blood
should be spilled, since man was crafted in the Divine image." Based on
this pasuk, the gemara even applies capital punishment to a Gentile who
murders a Gentile fetus. The gemara clearly assumed that tzelem Elokim
applied equally to Jew and Gentile alike. (See the Rambam's comments in
Hilkhot Melakhim 9:4, where he codifies the prohibition against murder
for a Gentile, and cites this entire pasuk, including the phrase of
tzelem Elokim.)

Understandably, this assignment of Divine Image to all human beings has
given rise to considerable controversy. One question pertains to wicked
individuals who may have adulterated their Divine image. Ample source for
the tainting and abrogation of one's tzelem Elokim exists in the Zohar,
and, presumably, the abdication of this 'image' can be committed by Jew
and Gentile alike. The more sensitive question pertained whether Gentiles
in general -- even righteous ones -- really do possess a Divine image --
as Rabbi Akiva asserts and as the pesukim imply. Again, the dominant
opinion designated Divine image to all humans, but there were several
dissenting opinions who were uncomfortable granting this status to
Gentiles. Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, who wrote a seminal commentary to
the mishna entitled Tosafot Yom Tov, cites an opinion which denies the
Divine image of Gentiles. This view is based on the gemara's ruling (Bava
Metzia 114b) that Gentile graves do not confer tum'a since non-Jews are
not referred to as "Adam" (see Yechezkel 43:31). This position reasoned
that if they are not designated as "Adam," then they should not be
granted tzelem Elokim. Though the syntactical logic holds, we witness
numerous instances in which Gentiles are indeed referred to as "Adam,"
thus rendering this proof questionable. The Tosafot Yom Tov dismisses
this opinion, while adopting the classic view -- that Rabbi Akiva indeed
awarded tzelem Elokim status to Gentiles.

However, Rabbi Akiva certainly did discriminate between the two,
recognizing in Jews the unique status as children. It would be instructive
to compare Rabbi Akiva's statements to a seemingly unrelated discussion
about the source of ethics and morality. As is well known, Rabbi Akiva
designated "ve-ahavta le-rei'akha kamokha ("love your neighbor as
thyself") as the most cardinal pasuk in the Torah. By assigning such
import, he establishes this pasuk and its inherent theme as the basis
for interpersonal moral behavior. Lesser known is Ben Azzai's dissenting
opinion, that the principal verse in the Torah is Bereishit 5:1, which
reads, "This is the record of man's offspring; when he was created,
he was fashioned in the image (demut a parallel word for tzelem) of the
Divine." Ben Azzai targets the Divine image in Man as the true source
for chesed and morality. Assisting the desperate and aiding the sufferers
preserves and restores their tarnished Divine image. If chesed is prompted
by sensitivity to the imperiled Divine image, it should apply equally
to Jew and non-Jew, each of whom possesses this image. Interestingly,
Rabbi Akiva did not offer this pasuk as the source of chesed, choosing
instead a more 'parochial' verse which highlights our common 'Jewish'
brotherhood as the impetus for relieving distress. As the gemara in
Pesachim suggests, the mitzva of ve-ahavta does not obtain to sinners,
and, presumably, it would not apply to Gentiles. Just as Rabbi Akiva
structured a hierarchy between non-Jew and Jew, awarding the latter with
the title of "beloved child," so does he anchor the basis of chesed on
a uniquely Jewish experience of brotherhood.

Rabbi Akiva's refusal to broaden chesed into, primarily, a universal
human experience sheds light on yet another interesting gemara. The
gemara in Bava Batra (10a) records a challenge lodged at Rabbi Akiva by
his acquaintance -- the Roman general/philosopher Tunus Rufus. The latter
questions Rabbi Akiva on the advisability of charity: had Hashem intended
for the poor to receive these provisions, the Roman argued, He would
have supplied them Himself. Attending to human deficiency thus appears
to entail a contradiction of Divine will. Though the question initially
seemed universal or philosophical in nature, it quickly became apparent
that Tunus Rufus was challenging Rabbi Akiva with regard to charity to
unfortunate Jews. As Hashem had 'clearly' abandoned and discarded them
by exiling them, it was inappropriate to rally to their support. Rabbi
Akiva answered that since Jews are referred to as children, their "Father"
never truly spurns them. Rather, he momentarily disciplines them, without
ever ceasing to be interested in their welfare. Supporting that welfare is
thus, indeed, pursuing Divine will. Once again, Rabbi Akiva highlights the
unique status of a Jew and cited their unique identity as "children" as
a source for chesed obligations, uninterrupted by intermittent suffering
and national exile. Had chesed been based purely upon tzelem Elokim,
Rabbi Akiva might have viewed it as fragile and more subject to both
personal retention of that image, as well as historical circumstances.

The balance between loyalty to a broader 'planetary community' and our
focused investment in the Jewish experience is an issue which strikes
at the very heart of our religious experience. Perhaps centuries of
anti- Semitism and historical marginality have reduced our interest or
commitment to the broader population with whom we share this world. Rabbi
Akiva's statement at once establishes the supremacy of the Jewish nation
while it also underscores a general respect for all humanity. Throughout
Jewish history different attitudes prevailed about balancing these
oftentimes conflicting values at both a theoretical and practical
level. Conventionally, philosophers (among them Jewish thinkers),
divided the world into four elements: unliving (domem), inanimate
(tzomei'ach), living (chai) and human (adam). In a famous 'response'
Rebbi Yehuda Halevi formed yet a fifth category -- yisrael. This simple
reconfiguration of categories boldly asserted a distinct 'natural'
difference between Jew and Gentile. Rabbi Akiva described a 'religious'
difference; one community was exposed to Divine revelation and formed
a unique 'child- like' relationship with Hashem. Rebbi Yehuda Halevi's
statements assume a more innate difference; Jewish experience is so
vitally different that it warrants its own cosmological category.

Regardless of the precise nature of this balance it remains crucial that
we reaffirm our dual identities. Humanistic trends may erode our national
profile while the focused passion of religious experience may blind us
to our broader community. Rebbi Akiva both reinforced the hierarchy as
well as mandated authentic commitment to each.

This past year we witnessed a horrifying tragedy which, among other
things, challenged us to live by Rebbi Akiva's dictum. Last fall the
trauma of the tsunami and the great toll of human life and suffering
prompted (or should have prompted) a revisiting of this issue. When the
Shulchan Arukh describes the 'pecking order' for tzedaka delivery it
does not factor in unpredictable natural disasters which occur a half
a globe away. Yet failure to respond to this event -- at some level --
reflects a complete evisceration of our moral commitment to those who
share the Divine image with us.

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 17:35:16 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
Re: hechsharim

> tell you there is a problem, you have no choice but to listen to them
> and refrain

I usually turn off from any kind of conversation in which I'm told I
have no choice but to do as I'm told. It is the way of robots, not bnei
Torah. But here there is another issue involved. I know that my rabbi
says "WE don't eat that hechshar". The "WE" always means "our type of
Jew". I've asked why it is so and have gotten the response that the Vaad
Hakashrus or R. Soandso or the Badatz says so. I don't know R. Soandso and
I don't know what administrators in any of these organizations are putting
out these warnings. If a tzaddik that I know will tell me something,
that is much different. But kashrus organizations are run by guys with
"Rabbi" in front of their name. They are they ones that know what is going
on, rarely is it really a holy man who's word I KNOW that I can really
on. I've been involved with kashrus organizations enough to know this.

Often we are talking about politics. You disagree. I understand that. But
until I'm shown proof or at least a testimony from the person that
actually investigated the hechsher in question. It seems that it is more
motzei shem ra than avodas Hashem.

> But when respected Talmidei Chachamim

Who are these talmedei chachamim and how do I know that just because
they are very knowledgeable that their tzidkus is equal to their Torah
knowledge? I believe that these are very important issues that must be
clarified, especially when causing a loss of money to someone, and not a
matter of frumkeit and "emunas chachamim", which is often thrown around
but has no relevance to this situation.


Go to top.


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