Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 045

Thursday, July 7 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2005 14:20:50 -0400
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>
Re: [Areivim] RE: hechsherim

On Wed, 2005-07-06 at 13:53 -0400, Samuel Svarc wrote:
> As long as your being "a mentsch in public" doesn't lead one to decide
> by himself what is a "chumrah" and what is "m'ikkar hadin". As with any
> other matter of Halacha, your LOR or poseik is the right address for
> that.

Heck, just look at mishnayot demai 3:6, you can't even trust your own
mother in laws kitchen :)

Though I'm a bit confused about this mishna in general.  As the only
reason demai is an issue is becaues of a special takana that was made,
so why would one's mother in law fall into the same category.

i.e. if she's in the category of an am ha'aretz, why does it matter that
she's a mother in law and wants to impress her daughter's husband, and
if she isn't an am ha'aretz, why is there any chasash that she'd have
demai in her house.

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Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 18:08:08 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
REED and Ahavas HaShem

My understanding of Rav Dessler is that love is not a sort of gratitude
which I feel to the one who has given me something. Rather, it is related
to the emotional investment when I give *TO* someone: Because I have
given to the other, I want him to succeed, and I feel good when things
go good for him.

How does this relate to the love we should have for HaShem?

One could raise this question from the angle that HaShem has no needs or
lacks, and so how can one give to Him. But that is not the direction I'm
asking from, because we *can* still give to Him, even though He doesn't
need it.

For example, it is our goal - expressed in tefilos like Kaddish and
Kedusha - that the mitzvos we do should have the effect of making
Him greater and more holy. This seems to fit nicely with Rav Dessler:
Just like my efforts at transforming my child from what he is now into
something greater will create a love for him, so too will my efforts
at transforming my G-d from what He is now into something greater will
create a love for Him as well.

My problem is in seeing the transformation.

I get feedback from my child when I see my efforts pay off in how he has
grown and developed. But I get no such feedback from HaShem. I don't see
that He more Kadosh today than yesterday, or than last year. I guess I'd
have to admit that I do perceive Him as greater and more Kadosh than a
century ago, in the sense that certain nissim in Eretz Yisrael have made
Him more visible, but that has nothing to do with my personal efforts,
and will not engender more Ahavas HaShem. (At least, not the kind of
Ahavah that REED is describing.)

L'mah hadavar domeh? Let's say that there are two tzedakahs, both of them
orphanages. The only difference between the two is that one simply takes
the money from the donors, but the other sends news to the donors about
the things that his donation has accomplished. The donors will feel more
love to the second one, but HaShem seems to operate more like the first.

I guess my question might be phrased like this: I know that HaShem
wants and appreciates the mitzvos that we do. But this knowledge is an
intellectual knowledge. How can I transform it into an emotional feeling?

Akiva Miller

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Date: 06 Jul 2005 13:49:14 -0400
From: aishdas@aishdas.org
Shim'u na hamorim

If you look at Rashi on Bamidbar 20:10, he comments (in part) on "hamorim"
that "leshon Yevani: shotim". IOW, Rashi is literally saying that Mosheh
Rabbeinu said "Listen, you morons!"

("Moron" is from the Greek "moros", which I assume is the word Rashi is
referring to.)


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Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 05:21:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gil Student <simcha365@hotmail.com>
[Hirhurim - Musings] Latest Development in Slifkin Controversy

I thank all the many, many readers who have been kind enough to send me
the latest article/letter to emerge in the Slifkin Controversy. I have,
in fact, had a copy of the letter for almost a week. Last Friday, a rabbi
asked when I was planning to respond. While I wrote a semi-response, I've
decided not to post it. Enough already. I think just about everyone's
mind has been made on this subject and I've already aired most of the
points I want to make.

I just want to post here an excerpt from R. Eliyahu Dessler's Mikhtav
Me-Eliyahu that Rabbi Slifkin brought to my attention (vol. 5 p. 348):

    "Scripture does not teach us anything about the chronological order
    of events" -- Rashi. The reason for this is that the ten utterances
    with which the world was created (cf. Avos 5:1) are the ten sefiros
    whose order is the order of distinguishing revelations (havhanas
    ha-giluyim). The Torah instructed us according to this order in
    Creation, not according to the order of physical time.

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Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 11:14:46 +0200
From: awi blumenfeld <awiblumenfeld@web.de>
Maziloe Nefesh Nochri BeShabbes

I know this has been mentioned a few times in previous avodah sections...
in one of my shiurim the question over maziloe nefesh nochri beshabbes
occured, and I believe to have read an answer by the Melamed leHoil
Reb David Zvi Hoffmann about it..can anybody help me out in general
and particular

beemes uvejirah
awi blumenfeld

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Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 22:47:27 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Ribis

>Question for the group. If I take out a loan for family member from a
>lending institution. He pays back the loan including the ribis. Do I
>need a heter Iskah? Please offer MM.

I'm pretty sure that Rabbi Reisman discusses this in his Ribis book in
terms of mortgages in someone else's name, and he says that you do
need a Heter iska. I don't have the book handy to look this up, so
don't take my word on it.

Gil Student,          Yashar Books
Subscribe to "Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life" Newsletter:
news, ideas, insights and special offers from Yashar Books

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Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 00:29:34 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Re: Ribis

On Wed, 06 Jul 2005 13:07:35 -0400 Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu> writes:
> This situation commonly occurs with credit cards where one person
> "borrows" another's credit card. Here the issue is not only interest
> payments, but I would think it could also be a problem with fees for
> late payment.

If the late fee is a percentage, yes. If it's a flat fee (i.e. no
different if you're one day late or two weeks) then it's not a ribis


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Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 01:08:45 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Tinok SheNishbah

Shabbos 68b: Tinok SheNishbah

????? ???? ???? ??? ?? ?"? ?"?:
???? ????? ???? ????? ?? ???? ????? ??????? ???? ???? ?????? ??? ??? 
????? ????? ??? ?????? ??? ??????? ???? ?????? ???? ?????? ??? ???? ???? 
???? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ??? ??? 
???? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ??????? ??? ?????? ???? ?????? ???? 
?????? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? 
????? ??? ??? ?????? ????:

R' Yochanan and R' Shimon ben Lakish both said: "...but a child who
was captured among the non-Jews, or a convert who converted among the
non-Jews, is exempt [from any atonement offering]." They challenged this
view from the following Baraisa: "...a child who was captured among the
non-Jews, or a convert who converted among the non-Jews who performed many
forbidden activities over the course of many Shabbasos is only liable to
bring one atnoment offering [for all his Shabbos]... but Monbaz exempts
[the 'child who was captured' from any atonement offering]."

Regardless of whether the tinok shenishbah, the "child who was captured"
is exempt from an atonement offering altogether, or liable to bring at
least one offering, his responsibility, and hence his guilt, is far less
than that of a person who was brought up in a proper Jewish environment.

Contemporary Halachic literature explores the application of the principle
of tinok shenishbah to modern times. Many of them follow the approach
of the Rambam (Hil. Mamrim 3:3^1 ), who categorizes children who were
raised and grew up among elements of society that were heretical (viz.,
Karaites) as tinok shemishbah and worthy of kiruv.

R' Yaakov Ettlinger, the Aruch LaNer,^2 suggested that it is possible
to extend this line of thinking in regard to Karaites, to Jews raised
in modern non-observant environments. As a result, he suggests that
the contact of modern non-observant Jews with wine may not render it
forbidden to drink, as the contact of non-observant Jews who are not
categorized as tinok shenishbah would. (See also R' David Zvi Hoffman's
comments on non-observant Jews in America.^3 )

Nevertheless, writes R' Moshe Feinstein,^4 although it is proper to save
a tinok shenishba who is in danger [and also to save his life even if
Shabbos must be desecrated to do so - see Chazon Ish, Yoreh Deah 13:28,
and Tzitz Eliezer^5 ], and to attempt to bring them to teshuvah, because
they are still violating the Torah's laws, they remain incapable of
serving as witnesses, and hence, a marriage ceremony for which individuals
categorized as tinok shenishbah served as witnesses would be null and
void. In fact, Reb Moshe suggests that Jews who are not observant of
Torah and Mitzvos in our day and age are less guiltless than the Karaites
that were the Rambam's concern, for, unlike the Karaites who had no
interaction with the observant community, many of today's non-observant
Jews have had such interactions and are knowledgeable enough of Torah
and mitzvos that they cannot be categorized as tinok shenishbah.

R' Shmuel HaLevi Wosner^6 writes in a similar vein, but specifically
regarding non-observant Jews in the land of Israel, where contact with
observant Jews is prevalent. However, in another responsum,^7 he defines
anyone who grew up and was raised in a secular environment as a tinok
shenishbah, and that the principle of diminished guilt even applies to
heretical beliefs, not just to sins committed out of ignorance. Hence,
almost every non-observant in our day is in the category of tinok
shenishbah, and it behooves us to demonstrate love and kindness towards
them and through Kiddush Shem Shomayim bring them to Teshuvah.

???"? ????? ????? ??? ?' ???? ?': ??? ????? ?????? ???? ???? ????? ???? 
?? ??????? ??????? ????? ??, ???? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ??? ????? 
????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ??????? ??? ?? ?????? ?????, ??? ??? ?????? 
???? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ????? ?????? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ?? ????, 
??? ??? ?????? ????? ?????? ??????? ????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ???? 
??? ????? ???"? ???? ??"? [???? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ??? ??? ????? 
???? ?????? ?? ?????] ?? ??? ?????? ??????? ????? ????? ?????? ????, 
????? ???? ??????? ?????? ?????? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ?????.

??"? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ?"?: ??? ?????? ????? ???????? ?? ????? ?? 
???? ??? ??? ????"? ???? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ?? 
?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ??? ???????? ????? ??? 
??????? ????? ???? ???"? ?????? ??? ??????? ???????? ?????? ???? ???? 
??? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ??? ???? ?"? 
????? ?????? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? 
?????? ??? ??????? ??? ????? ??????? ???"? ??????? ??? ???? ????? 
??????? ?????? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ????? ????? ?????? (??' ??"?) ??"? 
?? ????"? (??' ?"?) ????? ??? ??????? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ??? ???? 
?????? ??? ????? ?????? ????? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ???' ??"?. 
????? ?????? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ?????? ??"? ?????? ?????? 
???? ??"? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? 
?????? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??????? ???"? ????? 
??????. ???? ??? ??????? ???????? ?? ????. ???? ???"? ?????? ?????? 
????? ??? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????. ??? ?? ??????? ?? 
??? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? 
???? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ????.

??"? ???? ?????? ??? ?' (??"?) ???? ?"?: ??? ????? ???? ??"? ????? ???? 
???? ?"? ???? ???"? ???? ????? (?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??) ???????? 
???? ??????? ??????? ??? ?? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ??????? 
??????? ??? ?????. ??? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ??? 
???? ??. ??' ???"? ???? ???? ?????? ??' ?"?. ??? ??"? ???? ???? ?? ????? 
???, ?"? ??"? ??? ?"? ??? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?????.

??"? ????? ??? ??? ??"? ?' ???? ?"?: ??? ???? ???"? ????? ???? ???????? 
??????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ??????? ?? ????? ??????? 
??????? ????? ??? ??? ???? ????"? ??? ?? ?? ????? ????"? ????? ???? ??? 
?????? ?????? ????? ?????? ????"? ????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ????? ???? 
?? ?????? ????? ????? ?? ????? ?? ????"?, ??? ????? ???? ?"? ??? ???? 
?????? ??? ?????? ?? ????? ????"? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ???? ???? 
????? ???? ????? ????? ??? ????? ??? ?"? ????? ???? ???? ????? ???"?, 
??? ??"? ???? ???"? ???? ??????? ????? ????? ????? ??"? ???? ??? ??? 
????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?? ??"? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ?"? 
??? ???? ?? ???? ???????, ??? ???? ??? ????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ??? 
??? ?? ???? ????? ??? ???? ???? ????? ?? ????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?????, 
??"? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ??????"? ????? ??? ??????? ????????? ??????? 
??????? ????? ????? ????? ??? ??????? ?"? ??? ????? ????? ???????, ??? 
??? ??????? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ????? ??? ???? 
????"? ????? ????? ???? ??? ???. ???? ???? ???? ???????? ????.

??"? ??? ?????? ??? ?' ???? ?"? - ???' ????? ??? ??? ?': ??? ?????? 
????? ????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ????? ???? 
???? ?????, ??? ?? ??? ?"? ????? ????? ?? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ???? ???? 

??"? ??? ???? ??? ?' ???? ??"?: ??? ?????? ??"? ??"? ??' ??"? ?"? ?"? 
???? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ??' ?"? ???? ????? ??? ??????? ?????? 
?????? ?????? ????? ??????? ?????? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ????"? ?"?, ?"? 
?"? ?? ?? ???? ?? ???"? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???? ????"?, ??? ?? ??? 
????? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ????? ?' ????, ?"? ?? ?? ???? ???? ????, 
???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ??????? ????? ??? ?????? ?"? 
??????? ????? ???? ??"? ????? ????? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ???, 
??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ???"? ???? ?????? ????? ????? ???? ????? ???? 

??"? ??? ???? ??? ?' ???? ??"?: ????, ?. ??? ??? ????? ????? ???????? 
?????, ????? ????? ?????? ??????, ???' ???? ???? ??? ??? ???? ??? ???? 
???? ??"? ??' ??"? ?"? ????"? ??' ?"? ?"?, ??? ?? ?? ?????? ?????? ?? 
????, ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ????, ??? ??? ?? ?? ??? ???? ????? ????? 
???????... ????, ?. ??? ?? ????? ????? ??????? ?????, ?????? ????? ??? 
?"? ???? ??????? ?' ?"? ??? ??"? ?????? ?? ????? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???.

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Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 22:40:41 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: [Hirhurim] Pesak and Heresy

On Sun, Jul 03, 2005 at 12:41:22PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
: 2) A chasid must accept the teachings of the Besht - whether or not
: they contradict previously accepted views of rishonim. Therefore even
: though the views of the rishonim are not heresy even post Besht - they
: are not acceptable for a chassid to think or believe...

I think this is simply true by definition. A chassid is one who follows
derekh haBesh"t. To the extent that one does not accept one of the Besh"t's
core ideas, one isn't quite a chassid. The statement is tautological, not
some halachic or even aggadic declaration.


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Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 08:31:00 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Ribis

In Avodah V15 #44 dated 7/6/2005 RMB [R Menachem Brick, not me -mi]:
> Question for the group. If I take out a loan for family member from
> a lending institution. He pays back the loan including the ribis. Do I
> need a heter Iskah? Please offer MM.

I'm sorry I don't have MM but the answer is yes, you need a heter iska.

Men are from text, women are from mimetics.

--Toby  Katz

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Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 08:50:40 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: [Hirhurim - Musings] Shaking Hands With Women

Avodah V15 #44 dated 7/6/2005  RGS writes:
> Since a man may not touch a woman, one might conclude that this
> includes social touching such as shaking hands.....

My father zt'l permitted shaking hands if the woman extended her hand,
to avoid embarrassing her. A man should not put out his hand first.

The etiquette books (see Emily Post) say that it is the woman's
prerogative to shake hands or not, and if she does not extend her hand,
the man should not do so first.

This predates the feminist movement so I'm not sure about present-day
expectations, but it seems to me that if the woman doesn't extend her
hand, or for that matter if a man doesn't extend his hand, there will
be no hurt feelings if you don't extend your hand either.

--Toby  Katz

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Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 09:55:05 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: [Hirhurim - Musings] Shaking Hands With Women

Gil Student <simcha365@hotmail.com> posted on Tue, 5 Jul 2005 
> R. Moshe Feinstein repeatedly (Iggeros Moshe, Orah Hayim vol. 1 no. 113; Even > Ha-Ezer vol. 1 no. 56) ruled that a man enjoys shaking a woman's hand and  it is therefore prohibited. 

That is how I had read R' Moshe zt"l as well. However, at my boss's
insistence, I asked R' Reuvain Feinstein, shlita, and he insisted that
Rav Moshe permitted handshaking with a woman where she extends her hand
first, on the basis of avoiding the issur of embarrassing her. This
has made life less stressful for me, but has damaged my credibilty as
a teshuvah-reader in my boss's eyes.

Thank you R. Student for a well-written post.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 10:48:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: SheLo Asani Isha

I owe RHM an apology. He continued the exchange for a while sending it
both to Avodah and my own address. However, this email, the next in the
exchange, didn't reach me for a whle. So, I was deleting the incoming
subsequent mail going to the list, thinking he forgot he took the
discussion off list and it was in error. All of my replies were private,
for the same reason. Then, the last peice (which was really the first)
fell in, but I can no longer simply approve the rest of the exchange.

We reached a conclusion, so I'm going to skip the exchange and go right
to my version of the maskanah. I invite RHM to do the same.

R Harry Maryles wrote:
> Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
>>:> In order for that answer to make sense, we must understand how Hashem
>>:> is meitiv us. Even WRT sechar va'onesh, and therefore of the mitzvos
>>:> that earn us that sechar.

>>: How... does not explain... why.

>> And why do we need it to?

> The "why" of my statement is precisely what my original quetion was.

The "why" you asked was a level before. It was "Why were we created?" Not
"Why would G-d value being meitiv us?" This second question is unnecessary
to answer in order to discuss whether love of G-d can only come in
response to sechar anyway.

Also, while we know that the answer to the first question "Because Hashem
can't be meitiv without recipients for His tov" is incomplete, we also
know that numerous baalei mesorah from across the hashkafic spectrum (from
R' Saadia Gaon to the Ramchal, as I put it) felt it was a solid enough
peice to work with to reach other conclusions. Incomplete, not worthless.

>> I fully disagree with that. People do love their infant before it is born,
>> never mind before they feel loved by it.

> There is an insinct to love a child pre-birth or an infant to love a
> parent. there is no instinct to love God.

Our basic points of contention on the subject of Ahavas Hashem come from
two places:

1- I agree with Victor Frankel that mankind is create with an innate
need to live a meaningful life. That that need is just as primary as
our desire for reward. That's why Donald Trump is motivated to build
himself towers to immortalize his name. It's also why Mr Trump is doomed
to failure, and why "hav maneh, ratzah masayim" -- money is a means, not
a source of meaning in itself. One can't find what one is looking for
by searching in the wrong place. (It may also be why those who neglect
machshavah and hislahavus can end up in the chumrah of the month club
in their search for religion.)

2- I agree with R' Yisrael Salanter (and as elaborated by R' Shimon Shkop)
that more love comes from giving than receiving. We better see ourselves
in others if we're the ones who break the me vs other barrier. And then
ve'ahavta lerei'akha kamokha -- because I realize that you and I are
parts of the same body.

This is how RYS explains one can /choose/ to fulfil the mitzvos of
ahavas Yisrael and ahavas Hashem. Act, and the emotion follows. No
external conditionals


Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 07:10:53 -0400
From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
The Kalla Tradition vs. Daf Yomi

According to tradition the Babylonian Talmud was redacted under the
direction of Rab Ashe (335-426), head of the Yeshiba and the national
Court (Bet Din), together with his colleague Rabina (d. 422). Primarily,
the Talmud contains the material that was either developed at, or
transmitted and revised by, a national institution: the Yeshiba. "All"
the traditions that were deposited in the hands of the sages, "from
the days of Moses and until his time" were "redacted by Rab Ashe in the
Talmud." The Talmud was subsequently "concluded" with the formal approval
of the elders (see Appendix 9). A key factor for the understanding of
the Babylonian Talmud is that it constitutes a formal closure of the
'oral' period: de jure "Rab Ashe and Rabina" are "the last two sages in
the chain of oral tradition inaugurated by Moses." Henceforth, no sage
would have the authority to introduce any further material in the name
of an oral tradition. Why?

The authority of the Talmud, its foundation and specific function, are
organically bonded with the Kalla institution. This institution, unique
in the annals of intellectual history and education, was established
in Talmudic times and continued to function well after into the Geonic
period. The Kalla was a month-long convention, during which students
and sages from all over the Jewish world gathered to study a Talmudic
Tractate, assigned by the head of Yeshiba five months earlier. The Kalla
began at the end of the five months period, when students and sages
attended the classes, symposia (metibtot) and judicial deliberations
carried on by the most brilliant minds of Israel. There were two Kalla
meetings per year, one in the month of Adar (winter) and another in
the month of Elul (summer). In addition to the faculty and regular
student-body, the Kalla was attended by outside-students and sages; as
well as by the magistrates and highest judicial and political officials
of the nation. During this month Jews from all walks of life exchanged
ideas, and learned and revised together the texts, legal traditions, and
the concepts and principles of the tractate at hand. At these meetings
matters of law raised by local communities all over, as well as issues
of national policy, were deliberated and brought to conclusion. In this
fashion, Jews from the most diverse backgrounds met and learned together,
fostering bonds of love and amity going all the way back to Sinai.
The Babylonian Talmud was conceived in the density of mind and spirit
of the Kalla.

According to Geonic tradition Rab Ashe served as head of the Yeshiba close
to sixty years. Under his ministry there were organized one hundred and
twenty Kalla conventions. Each Kalla focused on a particular tractate. The
Kalla meetings were divided into two thirty year cycles. These 'cycles'
are known as mahdora; "a primary" or original "mahdora" and "a final"
or conclusive "mahdora." Consequently, every tractate was studied and
further reviewed twice, in the primary cycle and thirty years later in
the final cycle. R. Hanan'el explained:

We have a genuine tradition (qabbala) in our hands that every year when
they [the sages] were fully active for two months [during the Kalla
months] they would complete [the curriculum] in thirty years, and then
they would begin all over again.

R. Nathan b. Yehi'el () author of the Arukh, to whom we owe this
quotation, added:

Rab Ashe ministered (as head of) the Yeshiba for sixty years, and every
year in the months of Elul and Adar, the months of Kalla. He completed
the Talmud twice. In the first cycle he explained.and in the second
he explained.

A similar tradition was reported by R. Judah al-Bargeloni ():

The meaning of "original mahdora" and "final mahdora" is thus. R. Ashe
ministered (as head) of the Yeshiba for sixty years. The entire Talmud
counts with sixty tractates. Each tractate was revised twice [at two
different cycles], since they studied two (tractates) per year, one in
the month of Adar and one in the month of Elul.

The Babylonian Talmud was produced at these Kalla meetings. Since the
study and revision cycles were conducted in the general assembly, with the
participations of all the sages of Israel and their disciples, the Talmud,
in fact, represent the views and opinions "approved by all Israel," and
"of all or the majority of the sages of Israel." At these meetings

.the elders [of Israel] adjudicated (pasqu) and concluded (ve-gamru)
that the law is thus. Everything, from the days of Moses until his days,
was compiled by R. Ashe in the Talmud.

The Talmud, however, is not a code of law. Emphatically, the rabbis
declared: "one cannot learn halakha form the Talmud" (see Appendix 9).
Furthermore, unlike the Mishna, it was never officially published. Rather
its authority rests on the fact that it represent national consensus as
it was articulated by the last integral society of Israel.

...Everything contained in the Babylonian Talmud is mandatory upon
all Israel. It is incumbent upon every town and city, to follow all
the policies established by the sages of the Talmud, to enforce their
prohibitions and to comply with their ordinances.

Afterwards, Jewish society was fragmented and scattered all over the
globe. With the loss of social integrity the ancient Yeshibot lost their
national status. Maimonides explained:

After the Court of Rab Ashe, who redacted the Talmud during the life
of his son and concluded it, Israel suffered a most brutal dispersion
throughout all the lands of the globe, reaching the extremes [of the
world], and distant regions. Many conflicts broke out throughout the
world and armies obstructed traveling routes. Subsequently, the study of
the Tora diminished, and Israel could no longer gather in the Yeshibot
and study in the thousands and ten-of-thousands as was done previously.

The closure of oral tradition is a direct consequence of dispersion
and social fragmentation of Israel. Essentially, this means that after
closing of the Talmudic period, no one is authorized to introduce a
tradition in the name of an 'Oral Law.' The logic is clear: without
a national institution there is no way to 'accept' (or to 'reject')
anything in the name of Israel. The authority of the Oral Law must come
from the people. With the fragmentation of the Jewish people and the
ensuing social and intellectual isolation from one another, there no
longer was a Jewish society, but societies or communities of Jews. This
affected the standing of the court. A Jewish court cannot function in
a social vacuum. Therefore, given that the post-Talmudic society was
fragmented, the post-Talmudic Court, too, could not be regarded as a
national institution representing Israel, but a Bet Din shel Yehidim,
i.e., "a community court" with only regional jurisdiction. The same
applies to the schools of learning. Since the new socio-political
conditions did not permit unfettered access to the Yeshibot they may
not be regarded as national institutions.

The Talmud was designed to capture the most complex, intricate, and subtle
organism known to humankind: the temperament and personality of a vibrant,
creative society in all its facets and modalities. Just as the Synagogue
is a virtual experience of the Temple, and the liturgy of the sacramental
services; so the study of Talmud is a virtual experience of the 'Kalla
society' in its fullness. Thus a student or a sage in fragmented Israel
can gain access to the Yeshibot of Tiberias and of Caesarea and of Lydia
in the Holy Land, and of Nehar De'a, and of Sura and of Pum be-Dita, and
countless other seats of learning in 'Babylonia.' This is why the Talmud
is much more than a book or a landscape of things lost. It is a virtual
Kalla -a holistic intellectual experience where students and sages, seat
at the feet of the great mind of Israel, partake in their discussions,
and listen to the voices of men and women who stood at Sinai and dare
to pass the celestial voice on and on. Hence, the folklore, exegesis,
psychological insights, esoteric and metaphysical meditations, stories
and tales, crisscrossing the judiciary decisions and ideas pronounced
by the sages of Israel. Without these Kalla landmarks the Jew could no
longer relate to the Scripture as a Jew: his perception would be skewed,
alien to the nation of Israel.

Quoting "a great philologist who was also a Talmudist," Chief Rabbi Hertz
(1872-1946) wrote:

Suppose the teaching of Talmud suddenly interrupted during the life of
a generation; the tradition once lost, it would be well-nigh impossible
to recover it.

To borrow an expression from Edmond Jabטs (1912-1991), the study of Talmud
is "perforating oblivion because oblivion is the thick rind around our
origins." This is why, those who engage in Talmud are much more than
teachers and scholars: they are 'sages' (hakhamim, singular hakham) or
'disciples of sages' (talmide hakhamim), for they constitute the link to
the "whole Tora, handed down continuously generation after generation
from our Teacher Moses." Commenting on a Talmudic passage censuring
those who stand up in reverence before the Scroll of the Tora but not
before a sage, R. Saul Levi Mortera pointed out that indeed "the Sefer
Tora is Law without soul, but the scholar who studies and expounds it
is a living animated Law."

Since Biblical times, Jews have confronted the sword with the book;
military defeat with institutions that elevate the quality of Jewish
life. Ezra responded to the collapse of Biblical monarchy by proclaiming
the Tora as the Constitution of Israel-the first true constitution
known to humankind! Henceforth, Jews would be under the Law rather than
under a ruler. The rabbis responded to the collapse of the Temple by
proclaiming that God may be truly worshiped "in the service of the heart,"
rendering the Synagogue and liturgy a worthy "parallel" (ke-neged) to the
sacramental worship at the Temple. When the national archives were burned
and the sages butchered, R. Judah and his Court deposited the remnants of
the national archives in the memory of the people and minted the Oral Law
into legal tender. Finally, when Jewish society was about to collapse,
rendering national consensus impossible to reach, Rab Ashe and Rabina,
together with the last national Court erected a virtual Jewish society,
where consensus could be reached, and coins exchanged and negotiated
through melisa.

For fifteen hundred years, the Talmud stood alone against cultural
arrogance, the aggression of the mighty, the epistemology of
the infallible, and the conceit of the spiritual superior and the
intellectually enlightened. The Talmud is the most maligned book in
Christian history, and with good reason. Alone it stands for consensus
rather than coercion; for a dialectics and interaction in which all
members of society have a voice, including those standing outside the
fringe of Scripture --the magicians and the heretics, the agnostics and
fraudulent, and even the depraved and the demoniac. Without these voices,
the teachings of the sages would be empty, without a soul; Israel's
memory would then fade away, and with it the words uttered by God at
Sinai. The authenticity is vouchsafed by the fact that it was "concluded"
by the last national court of the Jewish people. Its authority rests on
a single fact: it was accepted as the supreme judicial authority by the
people. In the words of Maimonides:

Given that all the words of the Talmud were set by the common consent of
all Israel, and the sages instituting, decreeing, establishing a policy,
or adjudicating a case instructing that the law is thus, are all the sages
of Israel or the majority, and they were the recipients of the judicial
tradition (qabbala) pertaining to the whole Tora, in a continuous chain,
one generation from the other until, our Teacher Moses.

Thus, to repudiate the Talmud is to repudiate the National Memory
of Israel.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 11:49:26 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: hashkafa and psak

R Moshe Feldman wrote:
> now has an ulterior motive to find RNS guilty. I note the fact that it
> was widely reported that RAF had traveled to R. Elyashiv to get him
> to rescind the ban. Now that he was unsuccessful, the next best step
> (though contradictory to the first--unless RAF simply changed his mind)
> is to agree with R. Elyashiv.

This is an unfair presentation. RAF sees this as an issue of
pesaq. Therefore, he sees his change of mind as accepting the pesaq
of someone he accepts as the greater poseiq rather than rely on his
own sevaros. Every time an LOR chooses to follow the IM rather than a
different conclusion based on his own sevara, he does the same thing.

On Sun, Jul 03, 2005 at 08:30:40PM -0700, Harry Maryles wrote:
: they are left with much contradictory data such as fossils dated much
: older than 6000 years only to be told "explanations are elusive" or "Fun
: a Kasha Shtarb'd min Nisht"? What do you think a ban like this does to
: them? And where does that leave Aryeh Kaplan who unequivically believed
: the universe is 15 billion years old. Is he now considered an Apikores?

Never mind RAK, who during his lifetime was marginialized by many. (Books
on meditation???) What about R' Gifter? Now that I can go beyond just
posting the url <http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/RavGifter.pdf>, I shall:
> ?ž?™ ?©?™?© ?œ?• ?§?¦?ª ?ž?•?©?’ ?‘?ª?•?¨?” ?ž?” ?”?•? ??™?Ÿ ??¦?œ?• ?ž?§?•? ?‘?¢? ?™? ?™? ?›??œ?” ?œ?ž?”
> .literal point of view ?©?™?“?™?“?™ ?§?•?¨?

Not only doesn't RMG insist on literalism, he writes that anyone who
understands Torah would know there is no place for literalism in it!
Not "there is room for both", he considers literalism false!

And his explanation for the ban?
> ?ž?›?™?•?Ÿ ?©?¨?‘?™? ?”? ?‘?¢?•?œ? ?”?ª?•?¨?” ?©?¨?—?•?§?™? ?ž??“ ?ž?¢? ?™? ?™? ??œ?”, ?—?•?©?©? ?™
> ?©?ž??ž?¨ ?›?–?” ?™?‘?™?? ?œ?™?“?™ ?‘?œ?‘?•?œ ?‘??ž?•? ?ª? ?”?¤?©?•?˜?”.
Literalism as a crutch for the ignorant.


Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

Go to top.


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