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Volume 16 : Number 017

Tuesday, November 1 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 06:36:42 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: rabbinic misconduct

On Thu, Oct 27, 2005 at 11:15:11PM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
:> Relevant to our case because it shows that (1) big rabbis can commit
:> very serious aveiros and (2) the system doesn't always work to prevent
:> this - their own father was basically a tzadik, and the kohen gadol,
:> and yet he did not do anything effective to prevent this abuse.

: You obviously were never exposed to Slobodka mussar or you wouldn't be
: talking like this....

I don't really associate your point with Slabodka. Yes, Slabodka tends
to present biblical figures as arechetypes, near perfection. But also,
the Alter taught his talmidim to strive to be like them. Not just "a
little along the lines", but to treat Avraham's chessed or Yitzchaq's
gevurah as reachable goals. Stressing their differentness is not
condusive to that.

It's more Kelm, as in your reference to Chokhmah uMussar and MmE.

And, as pointed out, Rashi didn't take "eino ela to'eh" that way, so
there's no way you can insist RnCL understand the Na"kh as you present

On Sun, Oct 30, 2005 at 07:28:05PM +0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
: And while it was unquestionably the custom of girls to be married off
: young (why say bat mitzvah, why not from three?) I think it highly
: unlikely that everybody was indeed able to successfully do this....

It would depend when Tu beAv observances began. 3 yr olds didn't go
to their friends and borrow dresses to go out dancing.

Also, was Yiftach's daughter visited in her hermitage by her fellow


Micha Berger             "As long as the candle is still burning,
micha@aishdas.org        it is still possible to accomplish and to
http://www.aishdas.org   mend."
Fax: (270) 514-1507          - Unknown shoemaker to R' Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 09:53:20 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: rabbinic misconduct

In Avodah V16 #15 dated 10/31/2005 Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
> Well, then you get into the question as to whether it is technically
> z'nus if there is only one man involved, the man is a kosher,
> etc. etc. A kedasha was traditionally one who was available to many,
> not necessarily a woman who was seduced once by the most powerful man in
> the land (the man in question may be obligated to marry her and never
> divorce her, and pay her husband a sum of money, but is there indeed
> the issur znus on top of that?).

I assume you meant to say "pay her /father/ a sum of money" ?

--Toby  Katz

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 06:42:07 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Kohain gadol

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 09:11:38AM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
: The taavah for power and kavod was so strong that they thought the risk
: worth it.  And each one may have deluded himself that he was different,
: and wouldn't die....

More likely... Someone who would buy the kehunah was likely someone
who wanted it as a political seat of power. As we saw the Chashmonaim
did. Would he take it as a given the deaths were min haShamayim, or would
he harbor doubts that maybe it was political intrigue of the sort that
brought Roman emperors to power?

I could just picture this candidate noting that the rabbis had plenty
of opportunity to poison him (and drive him paranoid with fright about
his own death) before the big day... Skeptics always have a way to
explain away miracles...


Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 10:59:02 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
Rebbi Eliezer Hagadol

Does anyone know where there's a translation of the first 2 prakim of
Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer? I've been trying to google it and came up empty
handed. I need to show this to someone who doesn't read hebrew.

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 06:43:39 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Gezerot Tovot?

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 01:58:55PM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
: Well, we pray "kra roa gzar deenaynu"...
: OTOH, there appears to be a minhag to say the words "roa gizar" together
: so as not to say the words "gizar deenynu" together which could be
: interpreted bilashon zivuy...

Actually, as both "roa" and "gezar" are conjugated for semichut (meaning:
the x of y), all three words should be said together: "tear [up] the
evil of the decree of our judgement."


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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 06:48:24 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: migdal bavel

On Sat, Oct 29, 2005 at 09:48:00PM +0200, Eli Turkel wrote:
: Earlier the pasuk talks about Nimrod who was established in Bavel, Akad,
: Calneh in Shinar Later he establihed Assyria, Nineveh, Resen and others.
: A look at a map indicated that Nineveh is quite distant from Bavel.
: Earlier when talking about Yefet the Torah says (10:5) that from these
: (Greeks) the island people went out according to their language and
: nation.

: Does this mean that all these varied peoples left their homes and traveled
: perhaps thousands of miles to Shinnar to build the tower? ...

I believe the earlier pesuqim are usually understood as describing the
post-Migdal situation, and the geneology was simply brought intact rather
than split by the naarative.

However, one could have said that while people were scattered, there was
one civilization and one culture -- and even literally, one language --
until they all sent work forces to Shinar to build the tower. Then,
Hashem introduced differences to their living situations that caused
a divergence in language and a split into competing civilizations,
as well as barbarism.

For everyone to participate doesn't mean that every person stopped
farming, shepherding, etc... and they all starved and froze while the
tower was being built. It obviously was literally every person.


Micha Berger             "As long as the candle is still burning,
micha@aishdas.org        it is still possible to accomplish and to
http://www.aishdas.org   mend."
Fax: (270) 514-1507          - Unknown shoemaker to R' Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 07:27:49 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkare Hashkafa

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 01:52:26AM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
: The second, more profound reason is that the concept of kadimus does
: not necessarily have to denote precedence in the dimension of time
: alone. It can also relate to precedence in terms of significance, of
: importance...

To my eye, it's used to mean "logically prior"; not more significant,
but the cause. When we say that the Torah was created before the world,
we mean that it is Hashem's purpose in creating the world. The Torah
is the prior idea, from which the idea of making the world flows
logically. (To Hashem's ability to trace the logic, at least.)

It means that "histakeil be'oraisa ubara alma" is not just that the
Torah is a blueprint, but that it's the requirement for which the world
was made to satisfy.

: At the risk of being blasted by the righteously indignant, I propose
: that the first four perakim of the first chelek in Derech Hashem are
: indispensable to the proper understanding of hashkafas haYahadus whereas
: the 13 ikkarim are not necessarily indispensable (although one must
: be aware of these ikkarim in order to possess the halachic title of a
: Jew)....

DH presents a logical and compelling hashkafah, but that's all it is
A hashkafah. The ikkarim define the parameters of which hashkafos are
within the parameters of non-kefirah, apiqursus and meenus.

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 10:40:41AM -0400, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: After this, all of Moreh Nevuchim 3;14 is devoted to astronomical
: calculations to show how large the universe is in relation to man, to
: emphasize how trivial man is in the cosmos, and therefore how ludicrous
: it is to think that the world is created for man.

: This is, therefore, very explicit in the rambam. Many have been bothered
: by it, as it goes against a major trend in hashkafa,and speak harshly
: about it - but he is quite explicit (and the rambam on many controversial
: issues is not explicit), and I don't know of any who will deny this is
: the rambam's position. Of course, some are willing to write the rambam
: out of the realm of "hashkafa" - but that is a separate issue.

If not out of hashkafah, out of the realm of hashkafos that work (in the
sense of producing AYH) for people of our mileau.

Again, an issue of "a hashkafah" vs "the hashkafah".

Returning to RSC's post:
:                            As far as your comment re ein melech bilo am,
: once you assume the reason of hatavas Hashem lizulaso, you have already
: incorporated within your reasoning the idea that there seems to be some
: kind of lack kaviyachol in the Shechina which necessitates the existence
: a beriah. Consequently, however one chooses to resolve this dichotomy
: is ultimately able to be applied to ein melech bilo am also.

Yeish mei'ayin implies that Hashem wants yeish, not ayin, and therefore
the ayin was missing something. There was no lack in the Borei because
there was no time before the beri'ah in which a lacking Deity would

                              .... Maharal adds that after the beriah was
: created, the concept of "am" was necessary in order to maintain this
: control in the new circumstances as the Shechina, inasmuch as it is one,
: is only nisaleh (i.e. elevated via our increasingly qualitative perception
: of the Shaechina as the Master Controller) when we are biachdus.

That's the Shechinah requiring an am, rather than the Ein Sof. It ascribes
melukhah to our perception of Him -- whether a kavod nivra or entirely
a product of perception -- not the Borei be'Atzmo.

Which does readily avoid the problem.

As would the Tanya's understanding of ein od milvado -- Hashem didn't lack
an am, the am isn't distinct from Him.

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 02:24:19PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn quotes
the MN 3:13:
:                          In other words, that which comes into existent
: through an intelligent being of necessity must have gained existence for
: a reason or purpose. ...
: After this introduction one can conclude that there is no basis to
: seek a purpose for the universe either according to our view that the
: world was created or according to the view of Aristotle that the world
: is eternal... In conclusion it is necessary to accept that one should
: not search for the purpose that G-d created the world but rather it is
: because of G-d's Will or Divine Wisdom that He brought it into existence.

Is the Rambam saying that Hashem has a Will and Wisdom, but no purpose?
Without a purpose, what is the Wisdom figuring out? How is it Wise for
X to exist, how is existence the product of Will and not randomness,
it it lacked a logically prior concept that it was connected to?

On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 11:07:29AM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
: > that it was inappropriate for anyone

: Including Himself? I think you mean any human being. The Ramchal presents
: this as a facet of human nature, but does not (as far as I could tell
: last time I thought about this question) explain why God decided to
: create people this way.

Although both RASeinfeld and myself gave variants that show that people
being that way is a logical consequence of Hashem being the Ultimate Good.

:> to receive something that he did not toil for. Therefore, he decided
:> that man must have free will to make the choice to do G-d's desire -
:> or not.

: Above you said "He created Man (Adam), to be the recipient of this
: goodness". Now you're qualifying that. I think you need to elaborate
: (IIUC according to Ramchal its inevitable that the tikkun will occur,
: and free will is just an illusion on our part).

Not really, if the power to earn good is itself a greater good than
being a passive recipient.

Your parenthetic doesn't follow. Tiqun will occur, but how, when,
and through whom is up to us. Just as free will doesn't mitigate the
effectiveness of actuarial work.

: How can you draw any conclusion about (a) man's purpose or (b) this world?
: What you've told us is that God's purpose is that man "be a recipient
: of G-d's goodness" in the world-to-come.

R' Elyakim Krumbein, in his e-shiur on mussar (emailed by YHE, now
reworked into a book "Mussar for Moderns") has a long shtikl about the
dialectic between placing olam hazeh as central (e.g. the Gra's parting
words about being able to buy tzitzis for a pittance) vs placing olam
haba as central (such as this Ramchal).


Micha Berger             "As long as the candle is still burning,
micha@aishdas.org        it is still possible to accomplish and to
http://www.aishdas.org   mend."
Fax: (270) 514-1507          - Unknown shoemaker to R' Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 10:10:28 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE:Ikkare Hashkafa

> That may have been the case, but how many people today view either
> Rambam's medical contributions or response to Aristotelian philosophy
> as having much relevance, as opposed to the last third of the Moreh,
> the Perush HaMishnayot , the Yad , Teshuvos or Igros HaRambam?

The rambam himself today wouldn't view his medical contributions as
important today (except in the history of medicine, where I am too much
of a novice to know how important they were) - he was of the belief that
you use the latest knowledge.

However, while written wihtin an Aristotelian framework that is no
longer relevant to most of us,the Moreh Nevuchim remains extremely
important to authentic torah hashkafa - whether the embrace of
allegorical interpretation, the view of prophecy as a human phenomenon,
the understanding that the issue of whether the world is created is
something that is not provable and therefore not relevant to true emuna
(although mitzorche emuna for the masses) - and the insistence of the
need and legitimacy of the use of our minds - clearly ikkare hashkafa.
If you want a view how important the rambam remains , just read, eg,
Yeshaya Lebowitz's (and before people start attacking, RYBS said that RYL
was the only interesting Israeli thinker in the 1960s) books of sichot on
the rambam (and in a more secular context, Leo Strauss..)- not to mention
multiple other thinkers whose reliance on the rambam is less direct.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 08:57:51 -0500
From: mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: techeles

> What is the source for saying that argaman came from a snail? I didn't 
> think this was so pashut.
> I know people claim this, and many people seem to think that murex snails 
> were the source of argaman (including people on both sides of the murex 
> trunculus techeiles debate), but I thought there were other opinions.

As I recall (can't check now) R. Bachya says this in his commentary to
prashas Teruma.

M. Levin

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 09:10:31 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
RSRH and the symbolism of color

Just wanted to add that in Bereishis RSRH talks about Man being Red (adam
= adom) He explains that this world is like the spectrum where the color
red (Man) has diffracted the least amount of light (spirituality). Man's
task is to bring Hashem's presence into the world.

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Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 23:02:51 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re: techeles

Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu> wrote
> What is the source for saying that argaman came from a snail? I didn't
> think this was so pashut. I know people claim this, and many people seem
> to think that murex snails were the source of argaman (including people
> on both sides of the murex trunculus techeiles debate), but I thought
> there were other opinions.

In his commentary on the Torah, RSRH states that just as the wool in
the yeriot and the bigdei k'huna was of course of animal origin, so
all the dyes were of animal origin. (This connects to his explanation
of the wool as representing the animal-like, not vegetative, elements
in man) Although he does not bring any proof for this statement there,
in the Yeshurun article which he cites as the basis of his explanation
of the symbolism of the three colors he does. The Yerushalmi, Kilayim
9,1, in the course of a discussion of the bigdie khuna, says "Ma shni
tolaat davar sheyesh bo ruach hayyim, af kol davar sheyesh bo ruach
chayyim". RSRH takes this to mean "just as the shani must be of animal
origin, so the other two dyes must be of animal origin." Bimchilat kvodo,
this is a surprising and unusual interpretation of this statement. AFAIK,
"Ma.. af kol davar" is not usually understood this way (atleast in the
Bavli) The Pnei Moshe explains that the passage means that the shani
color must be of animal origin, but may come from any animal (kol davar
sheyesh bo ruach hayyim). It must be conceded, however, that it would be
strange that both the shani and the tchelet must be of animal origin, and
the argaman need not be; this is however, hardly a compelling argument.

RSRH in any event makes no reference at all to the argaman dye having
to come from a specific animal, certainly not the snail. Other mforshim,
AFAIK, do not relate to the source of the argaman dye at all (see Rashi
on Shmot 25:3, where tchelet is defined as wool dyed with chilazon blood,
and argaman is defined as wool dyed with "argaman-colored dye". It is
virtually explicit that Rashi does not understand argaman as coming from
the chilazon, and it seems that argaman-dye can come from any source,
the color is whatis important). Similarly, the Rambam in Hilchot Klei
HaMikdash does not define the source of the argaman dye at all.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 09:17:09 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
isolation - is it right or wrong?

Joel Rich wrote
> Hmmmm - did the Rambam leave? I think we need to read the entire statement
> of the Rambam - it's 6:1 - he talks about cave dwellers (oops sounds
> like a positive thing) only if the society forces you to emulate their
> evil ways. Life is grey and full of trade-offs.

Read again. The Rambam wrote at the beginning of that paragraph that
society will influence you by being a part of it. I will read it again too
but it was my impression that he was saying they will influence you and
that's enough reason to leave. NOT that they will force you. And again,
he writes that his own environment was such an environment.

You make a good point about the Rambam himself and I was wondering the
same thing. I don't have an answer, but I do know what he wrote. It
sounded pretty clear.

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 08:06:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: isolation - is it right or wrong?

Gershon Seif <gershonseif@yahoo.com> wrote:
> the Rambam at the beginning of Perek 6 (or is it 7?) of
> hilchos dayos writes that if one lives in a place where the society is
> bad, he should leave. And if there are no alternatives of where to move
> to (and he adds such as in his time) then one must move to the caves
> or desert...

> Do I detect two divergent world views here? An this is *The Rambam* who is
> so bandied about as being so open and integrated....

OK. I did something I don't usually do for Avodah or Areivim posts. I
looked it up in the Rambam. It is at the begining of Hilchos Deyos,
6th Perek. The Rambam does not advocate living in a cave in a normal
society. He advocates it in a situation that were you to live in a
completely evil society where you would be Noheg B'Minhagam HaRa, then
you are to go to a cave or the like rather than participate with them
in their evil ways.

Generally speaking, the Rambam tells you to stay away fromn Reshayim
and connect yourself to Tzadikm so that you can learn from their ways. I
don't disagree with any of it. It in fact is very sound advice.

TuM does not advocate living in Sodom. It advocates taking part in
positive elements of the general culture even though they not be Torah
based. Kadesh Atzmechem B'Mah Shemutar Lach. (...I think that's the
correct quote). We need not reject a Beatles song if there is nothing
inherently K'Neged the Torah in its lyrics, just because it is not a
Pasuk in Tanach or doesn't have Mussar in it's message.

True, there is a lot of Shmutz in Western style culture. But to advocate
living in a cave to avoid it and thereby denying Tanug from Olam HaZeh
is far from what the Rambam meant.


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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 10:30:02 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
Isolation is it right or wrong

I just looked up the Rambam we were discussing. Here's what it says:
You should avoid bad environments. If they are so bad that there's no
place to move to that's better, or if moving is impossible because it's
too dangerous to pick up and go, then live in isolation within your
environment. ---Then the Rambam adds, if they won't let you live in
isolation but require you to live among them and learn from their ways,
run away to the caves, desert, etc.

So while Joel Rich was right that the Rambam only talks about running
to the caves when they force you to be like them, the Rambam still wrote
that you should live in isolation if your society is a bad one. (The caves
was just an eitza if that's the only way to be in isolation),. And the
sentence that precedes this explains that the reason for this is because
it is inevitable that you will be affected negatively by your bad society.

Hey, I didn't make this up! Go check out the Rambam folks.

So, what would RSRH say to this Rambam? In the piece I cited on Chanoch
RSRH was calling such an attitude un-Jewish and serving the world no
use. A living death, warranting being removed from this world.

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 12:44:40 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: isolation - is it right or wrong?

On October 31, 2005 Rich, Joel wrote:
> Hmmmm - did the Rambam leave? I think we need to read the entire
> statement of the Rambam - it's 6:1 - he talks about cave dwellers
> (oops sounds like a positive thing) only if the society forces you to
> emulate their evil ways. Life is grey and full of trade-offs.

Possibly but that doesn't mean that the Rambam would have held that
one should involve himself in a society that contradicts the fundamental
principles of yahadus. Historically, the Jews always attempted to insulate
themselves from the influences of the surrounding gentiles. We should
follow their lead as much as possible. AFAIC, the only interaction between
yidden and goyim should be on a business level. No social interaction,
other than a pleasant good morning or good evening, should exist at all.

Simcha Coffer

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