Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 009

Monday, October 24 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 21:40:26 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Admin: AishdasWiki

[Actually, it's the Avodah wiki, figuring it would be a "best of Avodah"
and "Avodah FAQ" kind of thing. -mi]

(I'm sending this to both Areivim and Avodah. I hope that's okay.)

It's now over two weeks since RMB started the AishdasWiki. It has a lot of
potential, but we need more people to really get it going. We hope it to
eventually be an encyclopedia of all sorts of things Aishdas. A perfect
complement to the rushed and almost ephemeral nature of quick notes via
email, the Wiki can be a repository of the ideas we've developed and
conclusions we've reached.

To go to the home page, just click on http://www.aishdas.org/wiki and
you'll see that we've already started branching into several areas.

Whatever your favorite topic is, you can easily write a new article, or
update an existing one. Current articles include: Machashavah, Mussar,
Halachic Process, American Yeshivos, Chassidic Groups, Urban Legends,
and MUCH more!

The more diverse a group of writers, the more complete the Wiki will be.
Even if all you do is small modifications to just a few articles, it
will really help out!

Thanks to all, Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 09:37:20 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Re: colors in the gemara

> Are there other exceptions or problems? Was "kachol" used as "blue"
> in gemara times?

I'm fairly sure that "kachol" was coined by Eliezer Ben Yehuda

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 09:55:22 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>

<It seems to me that #3 of this list is pretty close to the gemara's
situation, provided that we stipulate "zahav" and "techeles" to be the
names of *substances* rather than of colors.>

I dont understand the difference. Colors are named because of substances
that have that color. In English orange and gold are obvious examples
as are rose etc.

Thus zahav refers to a color though based on gold.

Seeing the diffrence between white and techelet would also seem to be
based on the color. Again the color techelet is based on the substance.

It is not clear whether "yarok" refers to a single color in the
green-yellow range or it in fact refers to a range of colors and means
different colors in various contexts,

Eli Turkel

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 15:11:27 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: colors in the gemara

I had suggested that (like "zahav") "techeiles" might not be a color,
but that name of a particular substance, namely a particular sort of
dyed wool.

R' Micha Berger quoted RSRH: <<< We find only three terms to encompass
the colors of the spectrum: adom for red, yaroq for yellow and green,
and techeiles for blue and violet.... >>> So RSRH says No, techeiles is
not the name of the wool, but is in fact the color of that wool.

But if so, then where does "argaman" fit into this? If it's not the name
of the fabric, then wouldn't it perforce be the name of the color?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 14:01:14 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: colors in the gemara

On October 22, 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
>  From RSRH, "Collected Writings" (Volume III page. 126):
>     We find only three terms to encompass the colors of the spectrum:
>     adom for red, yaroq for yellow and green, and techeiles for blue
>     and violet....

>     Red is the least refracted ray; it is the closest to the unbroken ray
>     of light that is directly absorbed by matter.

Other than white.

>     Red is light in its
>     first fusion with the terrestrial element: adom, related to adamah
>     Is this not again man, the image of G-d as reflected in physical,
>     earthly matter: "vatichsareihu me'at mi'Elokim" (Tehillim. 8,6).

>     The next part of the spectrum is yellow-green: yaroq.

Technically the next color is orange but I suppose it can be included
in the "red" spectrum.

>     Blue-violet is at the end of the spectrum: techeiles.
>     The spectrum visible to our eye ends with the violet ray, techeiles,
>     but additional magnitudes of light radiate unseen beyond the visible
>     spectrum.

On the visible spectrum there is Infrared on one side and ultraviolet
on the other but they are both invisible to the unassisted eye although
technically they are visible.

[Email #2. -mi]

On October 23, 2005 I wrote:
>>     Red is the least refracted ray; it is the closest to the unbroken ray
>>     of light that is directly absorbed by matter.

> Other than white.

Sorry, it was late at night and I wrote impulsively. After re-reading
RMB's submission this morning, it would seem that RSRH was referring
to the chromatic spectrum of wavelengths (such as the pure spectral
mono-chromatic colors of the rainbow) whereas white is a non spectral
achromatic color. The (perception of the) color white would be applied
to a surface that diffusely reflects all wavelengths *equally* and thus
does not enter into the spectrum (pun intended) of RSRH thesis.

Simcha Coffer 

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Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2005 23:14:36 EDT
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Shofar on Shabbos

I would like to expand on my previous mention of Matteh Dan.Here is a
short summary of his long and involved argument on this issue.

The scholar returns to the Sages' role as guardians and protectors of
Torah law. We had already seen that they enacted Rabbinic laws toward
that purpose. He now explains that circumstances sometimes require
limited suspension of Torah laws - in order to preserve them. In such
cases, the Sages have sometimes acted to void obligations for a time,
in a passive manner and in limited circumstances. Here too they act
with God given authority and in order to protect and defend. In a highly
original argument, the scholar demonstrates that in days past there were
very large numbers of Jews who did not have access to Torah education and
that the concern that they may violate Sabbath while trying to fulfill
the commandments of Lulab or Shofar is well based. As the penalty for
carrying on the Sabath is death by stoning, suspending the obligations
of Lulab and Shofar on Sabbath is equivalent to saving lives. Danger to
life suspends almost all religious obligations and the Sages' voiding
of these obligations on the Sabbath is entirely justified within the
framework of saving lives.


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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 00:32:29 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: sugya correctly

On October 22, 2005 SBA wrote:
> From: "S & R Coffer" <>
> > As far as the comment regarding psak and horaah not being the bailiwick
> > of lomdus, this is the standard attitude in most of the chareidi Yeshivos
> > that I am familiar with. My Rosh Yeshiva, for instance, doesn't have
> > semicha and never put his kochos into halachah. This state of affairs
> > is an unfortunate side-affect of golus and yeridas hadoros. Whereas 300
> > hundred years ago every Rav in the city was also its "Rosh Yeshiva"

> 300 years ago??
> Maybe in certain countries.

In all countries. Three hundred years ago there was no such thing as
official Yeshivos. Every Rav in every shtetl gathered together the local
boys and taught them in the local shul. It was only with the advent
of the Volozhiner Yeshiva in Lithuania and the Hungarian Yeshiva in
Pressburg that official yeshivos began to flourish in the 1800's.

> In prewar [Greater] Hungary (only 60 years ago) there were many [I have
> heard the figure of 300!!] yeshivos, which were mostly headed by the
> rav or a dayan of that Kehilla.

I strongly doubt that there were 300 Yeshivos in Hungary however,
whatever the case, a distinction must be made between the litvishe and
chasiddishe approaches to learning.

Whereas the litvishe Yeshivos put a stress on learning bi-iyun rav,
a derech passed down from R' Chaim Volozhin, the chassidishe yeshivos
put a greater stress on bekius, on the volume of Torah learned. Anyone
familiar with litvishe and chassidishe yeshivos today knows that this
status obtains ad hayom. The truth is that both approaches are necessary
and must ultimately be incorporated into one's learning however, the
poel yotze of these two approaches seems to yield a higher percentage of
lomdishe Roshei Yeshiva in the litvishe world (Volozhin type Yeshivos)
versus a higher percentage of bekeim and halacha oriented people in the
chassidishe world (Hungarian type Yeshivos).

When I was in Lakewood, there were hundreds of solid "career" talmeeday
chachamim living in Lakewood and yet the Yeshiva had only two poskim
for the entire population of the Yeshiva (Rav Forscheimer and Rav
Lieberman). I don't know what the situation is now but I am sure it
hasn't changed much since I was there (20 years ago) other than a dramatic
increase in kollel yungerliet and bachurim (4000 by the last count).

> > today
> > most people do not possess the ability to become proficient in lomdus and
> > halacha simultaneously; thus the generally pronounced distinction between
> > roshei Yeshiva and Rabbanim. Fortunately we still have some people left
> > that encompass both qualities. As it happens, Toronto (where I live)
> > has a few such people, most notably Rav Shlomo Miller shlita.

> Rav Wosner, Rav Nosson Gestetner, Rav Anshel Katz, Viener Rav in WB,
> his brother Rav Chaim leib Katz in BP, the Erlau Rav

Basically a handful. And basically chasidishe. I am not saying that the
"breed" doesn't exist. I am saying that it is not as common as having
a person who focuses either on being maamid talmidim in a derech of
learning versus someone who puts his efforts in psak and Rabbanus. Today,
practically all the big chareidi Roshei Yeshivos I can think of are not
prominent poskim such as Rav Shustal (Torah Temima), Rav S. Birnbaum
(the Mir), Rav A. Shechter (Chaim Berlin), Rav A.C. Levine (Telz),
Rav M. Stern (Passaic), R' Elya Svei (Philadelphia) Rav D. Shustal,
Rav Y. Olshin, Rav Y. Neuman and Rav M. Kotler (Lakewood) R' Simcha
Shustal and Rav Hershcowitz (Stamford), Rav Kinereck (Peekskill)
Rav Ausband (Riverdale) R' Chaim Epstein (Eastern Parkway) etc. In
fact, I am willing to wager that several, if not the majority, of the
above-mentioned people do not even posses semicha although they are
far greater talmeeday chachamim than the average fellow who "graduates"
the Yeshiva system with semicha.

BTY, I can't resist telling you an anecdote. The Chofetz Chaim was wont
to represent the Jews of Lita and Poland to the gentile authorities
and unfortunately found it necessary to do so on several occasions. On
one of his attempts, it was revealed that in order to gain an audience
with the appropriate authorities, an official "Rabbi" possessing semicha
was necessary. Unfortunately the Chofetz Chaim (who was at the time an
octogenarian) the Rosh Yeshiva of the Radin Yeshiva, one of the zikney
hador, one of the leaders of klal Yisrael and the most influential
halachic authority of the past 100 years, did not possess semicha! Rav
Chaim Ozer quickly wrote him out a klaf semicha and sent it to him.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 04:37:10 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Direction for na'anuim

Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
> Someone who is due any other direction than east from Yerushalayim, say,
> south, and davens in the northward direction. Does this person change
> the direction of na'anuim or is it still east, south, etc.?

 From what I've seen in Australia (where EY is WNW, and the shuls usually
face either N or W), the directions don't change, and one turns to face
east before commencing the na'anuim.

Which makes sense, since it seems obvious that the order (whichever order
one follows) is based on kabalah to do with the relation of the compass
direction to the sefirot: North is gevurah - mitzafon tipatach hara'ah,
the world is open on the north side, the bet of bereshit is open on
the left, etc. South is chesed - the shulchan is in the south, etc.
And east and west are front and back - achor vakedem tzartani.

This becomes more obvious when you consider that the people who devised
these orders of naanu'im almost certainly did *not* daven east. Anything
that originates with Chazal in Bavel would be based on davening west
(the traditional direction of prayer - chazal specifically associated
the idea of davenning east with Avodah Zarah). And the AriZal, living
in Tzefat, would presumably have davenned south.

Zev Sero

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 15:38:21 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re: direction for na'anumim

Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com> asked regarding direction for

Someone who is due any other direction than east from Yerushalayim, say,
south, and davens in the northward direction. Does this person change
the direction of na'anuim or is it still east, south, etc.?

The first direction is towards Yerushalayim (or the beit hamikdash for
those who live in Yerushalayim), and then, according to nusach ashkenaz,
clockwards, up, and down. Thus the order for me, who lives in the north
of Yerushalayim, is south, west, north, east, up, down.

This is the accepted practice. I do not know the sources for this

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 15:14:32 -0400
From: "Leonid Portnoy" <leonid.portnoy@verizon.net>
Re: statistics

: I agree completely with the answers. My point was that even though there
: are many sources in our tradition that the benoni is left to the whims of
: nature this is not the "popular" picture painted by contemporary rabbis
: who follow the the shitah that absolutely nothing in the world is left
: to chance.

>Frankly, the popular picture doesn't work. It makes the world entirely
>about identifying a cheit for every tragedy, and yet also acknowledges
>the notion of resha'im getting their reward in olam hazeh, and also tzadiq
>vera lo, and also ...

But does the picture where the benoni is left to the whims of nature
work? From a theological perspective, what is this 'whim of nature' or
'chance' anyway? We had this discussion before (re: hashgacha protis I
believe), but at the end it must come out that every event in nature is
decided/decreed by G-d (with the notable exception of bechira). To say
that G-d throws dice to decide the benoni's fate, would be attributing
an independent [of G-d] reality to the dice! If anything, such a picture
would be much more theologically troubling and inconsistent with the
rest of Judaism than the 'popular' picture, at least in my mind.

Leonid Portnoy

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 23:03:25 +0100
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Re: trusting kids on the web

In message <004201c5d5e1$820216a0$769d31d2@sbaws1nnv993q7>, SBA
<sba@sba2.com> writes
>>>Chazal say 'ein apitropus le'aroyos'
>>I find it  fascinating that this particular phrase of Chazal's is 
>>frequently used in precisely the way RSBA used it - as if to say, when 
>>it comes to arayos, one cannot expect to overcome one's yetzer hora by 
>>oneself, and therefore  one needs external assistance (eg, in this 
>>case, throwing away the  computer, or net nanny or whatever).

>> And yet, when Chazal actually used it, it seems to me that they used 
>>in a  way that means almost exactly the opposite.
>> But it still seems a stretch to use the case of a woman who has 
>>already  demonstrated her weakness for matters of arayos by being 
>>prepared to  seclude herself as illustrative of the ordinary person as 
>>RSBA and the  colloquial usage of the phrase has it

>Ayin Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 22:14[15]
>"We do not appoint - even a trustworthy and Kosher man -
>to guard a place[yard] where there are women,
>even if he is standing outside, 'sh'ein apitropus le'aroyos'..."

This is a fascinating cite (thanks for that) mostly because the Magid
Mishna indicates that it is based on a Yerushalmi in the first perek of
Ketubos and it turns out that the reference can be found on the discussion
on the same Mishna in Ketubos which was the basis for the (Bavli) gemorra
discussion that I brought in my previous post. As I mentioned there,
the discussion for our purposes centred on whether we believe a woman
who secluded herself with a man to say that the man in question was not
of the type (mamzer etc) that would render her unfit for the kehuna.
Fundamentally it is an argument between R' Gamliel and R' Eliezer on the
one hand and R' Yehoshua on the other, with the first two saying she is
believed and the latter saying that she is not. So far the Mishna.

In the Bavli, as I mentioned previously, an analogy was raised to a woman
who was captured - where all agree you have to assume something untoward
occurred, even if she says to the contrary. When challenged on this, R'
Gamliel and R' Eliezer say that the reason the case for a woman who is
captured is different is because avodai cochavim (namely her captors)
prutzim b'arayos while Rabbi Yehoshua says "ha nami kivan d'isteter
ain apotropos l'arayos". Note particularly the kivan which was what to
my mind suggested he was not talking about the normal case but about a
specific one where there was already a breach of yichud.

Now I did not discuss in my previous post the question about whether
the seclusion occurred in a place where the majority of inhabitants are
kosher or posel, but in fact the Bavli does overt to it to, but seems
to do by way of conclusion namely "this is a support to R' Yehoshua ben
Levi who who says that those who permit (ie R' Gamliel and R' Eliezer)
permit even in a place where most of the inhabitants are posel and those
who posel her (ie R' Yehoshua) do so even in a place where the majority
of the inhabitants are kosher".

But the Yerushalmi in discussing the same question, brings a discussion
on this in more detail - that one might think that the machlokus between
R' Gamliel/R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua applies only in a place where
the majority of people are posel and not in a place where the majority
of people are kosher, because in a place where the majority of people
are kosher, R' Yehoshua is modeh to the others that she is believed,
(on the grounds that we follow the rov note that the meforshim explain
that R' Gamliel's position is to stand her on her chazaka in either case).
So then R' Yaakov bar Acha in the name of R' Yochanan v' R' Elah in the
name of R' Lazar brings that it is even in a place where the majority
of the inhabitants are kosher there is a machlokus, because poslim go
after znus (ie therefore it is still more likely that the person involved
was a posel). And then as a final piece the Yerushalmi brings R' Zera
who says that there is a braita which argues on (according to the Korban
HaEda, R' Yochnan and according to the Pnei Moshe, R' Yehoshua) and says
that when it comes to znus the kosherim are like the poslim - because the
braisa says that we do not appoint a person even a chasid among chasidim
as an apitropos al arayos (ie because we are choshesh for znus). It does
not, at least in my version of the Yerushalmi say what it is we do not
appoint even a chasid for - but clearly the Magid Mishna links this to
the Rambam's din about not appointing as a guard over a courtyard in
which there are women, as does the Gra in commenting on the same din
when brought in the Shulchan Aruch in Even Haezer siman 22 si'if 15.

So, one might seem to have a source for RSBA's use of the phrase in the
general case, ie that the kosherim are like those who are posel. However,
it is interesting to note the discussion of the meforshim on this din of
not appointing a guard on a courtyard of women. The various meforshim
(eg the Bach, Beis Shmuel) try and deal with the question as to why
this din should be applicable even according to Rashi. According to
the Rambam and other meforshim who hold that the rules of yichud apply
when there is only one man even if there are a multitude of women, the
din is self understood, as this is one guard and lots of women in the
courtyard, but according to Rashi, why would this din apply, given that
he holds that there is no yichud if there is one man and three women
(and therefore they have to explain that the situation of the guard is
different and so even according to Rashi it would be a problem).

But the very fact of this discussion suggests that fundamentally this
case is a case of yichud, and what this din is really saying is that
don't think that somebody who may be known to be kosher and trustworthy
is thereby exempt from the normal rules of yichud.

So it is still not so pashut that we extend the use of the phrase from
somebody who is already in violation (whether that is by performing a
job that puts him in violation or otherwise) of a halacha of Chazal for
the protection of arayos to a person who is not in violation of such
halacha. We know that Chazal enacted the prohibition against yichud
because they felt there was risk of violation, and they enacted it for
everybody young or old. Anybody who says - I am so much of a chassid
that I do not need the fence that Chazal made- surely is at least in the
same category as those who said that - *I* can surely read by the light
of a single candle on shabbas because I am not going to tilt the flame-
and we know the consequence of that type of reasoning. I am therefore
not sure we can use this din to prove that the phrase is used correctly
when describing a situation where Chazal enacted no prohibition and
nobody is already in violation.

>> is this a question of how far we take ma'ase avos  siman l'banim?

>IIRC, that IS a phantom maamar Chazal...

Well the Ramban does not seem to think so when he describes (Breishis
12:6) this as a klal to be brought in all of the parshios dealing with
Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov and as an inyan gadol hizkiruhu Rabosanu
b'derech kztara, v'amru kol ma sheire l'avos siman l'banim". My Michros
Gedolos gives the reference for this as Tanchuma lech lecha 9. I am afraid
my library does not stretch to a Tanchuma, but my Toras Chaim quotes
this as "siman noten lo HKBH l'Avraham shekol ma sheire lo ire l'banav".

>> >>I have
>been trying to think of a case in Chazal of a fence that is more
>stringent on youth than it is on those who are older - but haven't
>managed to come up with one.<<<

>IIRC therre is a halacha that an unmarried man shouldn't
>be a melamed because he may meet the mothers of his talmidim.

Fair enough - although strictly speaking this is not a function of age
but of having a wife (and note that we are not worried that the other
children being taught by the melamed might come to meet the mothers of
the other talmidim), but I guess in the general case one would expect
parents to be married and children at school not to be.

It is also interesting that this is one of these halachas that seems
in my experience to be honoured in the breach quite a bit - I know of
loads of bochrim teaching and who have taught kids throughout the world.
Is it strictly enforced in your schools?

Chana Luntz

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Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 01:07:59 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: colors

 From: Micha Berger  <micha@aishdas.org>
>: It seems to me that #3 of this list is  pretty close to the gemara's
>: situation, provided that we stipulate  "zahav" and "techeles" to be the
>: names of *substances* rather than of  colors.

> From RSRH, "Collected Writings" (Volume III page.  126):
> We find only three terms to encompass the colors of the  spectrum:
> adom for red, yaroq for yellow and green, and  techeiles for blue
> and violet....

Amazingly apropos reference, how did you find it so fast or how did you  know 
about it?  AFAIK there is no concordance for the writings of  Hirsch!


 -Toby  Katz

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