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Volume 16 : Number 018

Thursday, November 3 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 22:21:16 +0200
From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@gmail.com>
Walking the 4 Amot

In Volume 11 of Kinnus Arzti l'Torah she'Ba'al Peh, 1969, there is added
on a 160 page review of the Laws of Har Habayit as regards entry therein
by Rav Shmuel HaKohen Weingarten.

On p. 182, he brings the act of walking as proving possession, although
his source is the Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:3. In commenting on the condition
that walking alone doesn't merit possession until a fence or some form of
construction is made (Rashi at Baba Bathra 100), he insists nevertheless
that without walking one couldn't make the necessary final elements
of possession (na'al v'gadar u'feretz kol she'hu). Since he favors
entrance into the Har Habayit, he writes that no walking inside would
be a sign of yielding on possession and ownership and that those who
prefer non-entrance, which would be sort of a "shev v'al ta'aseh" would
actually turn out to be a "kum v'aseh" with quite negative implications
[and I think he was right in retrospect].

And let's not forget Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlev who got off the boat in
Haifa, walked his 4 amot and turned around ready to go back to Europe
(see Masa HaKodesh, Chapt 6 and in Arthur Green's book [which I can't
quite locate right now].

Yisrael Medad

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Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 00:06:10 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
RE: Walking 4 amos in Eretz Yisrael

Someone wrote me that he heard Rav H. Schachter give a shiur in which
he said that walking additional 4 amos (past the first set of 4 amos)
has additional spiritual benefit, but only if the additional set is not
a retracing of 4 amos that you've already walked. (I.e., it is better
to go o= n a new tiyul than to repeat an old one.) Did anyone else hear
that? Anyone know the makor or the sevarah?

Kol tuv,

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Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 00:46:27 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Re: Kohain gadol

On 10/28/05, Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com> wrote:
> Check out Yoma 9a: There were more than 300 kohanim in the bayis sheini (420
> years). 4 kohanim gedolim served 141 years, so you have the other (at least)
> 296 kohanim in 279 years -- the average was less than a year. I understood
> the gemara to mean that they died (since they are called reshaim in a
> passuk), but I guess it could be they all got tamei...

There must have been some other factors: if the average was less than a
year, they can't all have died as a consequence of entering Kodesh

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 17:49:39 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: 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.

RMs-fascinating post. Take a look at R M Sokolow's article on spirituality
in MO high schools for a comparison of Yeshaya Lebowitz and RYBS. Similar
but hardly identical in thinking.RYBS strikes me as far more willing
to bar from other systems of hashkafa and philosophy such as Ramban
and Chabad.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 22:50:06 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Re: rabbinic misconduct

In message 
<20051101065046.USUN21026.tomts16-srv.bellnexxia.net@ronniepc1>, S & R 
Coffer <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> writes
>> Um, the slight problem with what is rather a cute drash is that the
>> "k'mashma'o" followed by a Rabbinic drash is something of a standard
>> Rashi formulation.  With the wonders of the Bar Ilan CD, I pulled up 87
>> references in Rashi in Tanach where he uses the term k'mashma'o.  Most
>> of them are then followed by some formulation of "umidrasho".  If Rashi
>> had intended the kind of interpretation you bring, he would not have
>> used one of his standard forms of language to bring two opinions, the
>> one straightforward pshat and the other from the midrash or the gemora.

>Oh contraire. Your 87 "k'mashmao's' are all followed by terminology that
>denotes *Medrash* as opposed to the apparently pashut pshat in the pasuk. In
>our case, no such terminology is employed. Rashi states "kmashmao
>v'Rabboseinu amru" which indicates that Rashi is saying that Chazal said
>(amru), regarding this mashmaus, that it is to be understood in a modified
>fashion. Run your Bar Ilan search again and I'll bet you'll find only 3
>places in Rashi where the word "k'mashmao" is followed by the words
>"v'Rabboseinu amru"

Actually when I run it, I only get one Rabboseinu amru, the one we
are discussing. I do get three cases where k'mashmao is followed by
"VRabbosainu" but the other two are v'rabosainu perishu. However I
am aware that the search is not picking up everything. I then ran a
search of v'rabosainu amru throughout Rashi and got 69 cases (which did
include our case) - but at least two cases I am aware of (in Shmos 2:5,
where the term is used twice) is not picked up by this search, so there
are clearly more.

I think however there are some significant and rather fundamental problems
with the approach you are taking. In you eagerness to defend the bnei
Eli, as well as Eli himself in my view you are actually undermining a
whole host of basic concepts, some of which I will list below.

1. Rashi's perush: One of the most notable things about Rashi's perush
is the emphasis he places on explaining the use of a word in one place by
reference to the use of that word, or its root, in another. On the other
hand, in your desperation to defend the bene Eli, you initially proposed
a drash that what Rashi means by a word in 84 or more places is not what
he means in this one. Here it means "like he [Eli] heard", everywhere
else it means something very similar to k'pashuto . While as I said it is
a cute drash, it rather cuts across the whole nature of Rashi's perush..

I think you have gone back somewhat on that in the above, because now
you seem to acknowledge that k'mashmao pretty much means the same thing
across all cases, just that "v'rabosainu amru" is a modifier which is
different from u'medrashu. But that leads us to our second problem.

2. Dividing the Gemora: You have sought to draw a distinction between
"v'rabosainu amru" and the various other formulations that Rashi uses.
But Rashi in the vast majority of cases is merely quoting the gemora,
whether he says u'medrashu or one of the other formulations. So you
have effectively drawn a distinction within the gemora - something Rashi
quotes as v'Rabbosanu amru is true, something that Rashi quotes using the
other formulations is "just a medrash". But there is usually nothing
in the gemora to support this low level "just a medrash" formulation.
So in your eagerness to elevate the matters referred to as Rabbosanu
amru, you end up denigrating the matters referred to using one of the
other formulations, but which in fact come equally from Chazal.

And of course since v'rabbosanu amru is used all over in Rashi, if you
are going to maintain consistency in Rashi, you are going to need to say
it is a modifier in all of those 69 cases, plus the additional ones not
picked up (and note that in the second case in Shmos 2:6 - Rashi brings
a pshat explanation, then says v'rabbosanu amru, and then goes on to 
demonstrate how they constructed the drash from the words "v'drashu").

>>> In fact, a plain reading of the
>>>pesukim yields this interpretation. "And Eli was exceedingly old (in his
>>>nineties) and *heard* what his sons were doing...And he spoke to them saying
>>>why do you do *like* these things...No my sons, for the *rumour* (shemua) I
>>>have *heard* is not good...etc."  (Samuel 1 - 2 22:24)

>> Note that the other use of hashemua in this story is in Shmuel aleph
>> 4:19: "and when she hear the news (hashemua) that her husband that the
>> aron was captured and her father in law and husband dead ... "  Is this
>> too to be explained as a reference to a rumour?  Is there another case
>> in Tanach where there is a reference to hashemua to mean rumour?  The
>> use of the root shema would more logically suggest to me a true hearing
>> rather than a false one.

>Rebetzin Webster's online definition for rumour is: "a statement or report
>current without known authority for its truth".

That leads us to our third problem. I have no problem with your
definition of rumour but:
> In the case of Eli, he
>surely doubted the exaggerated reports that he heard about his two righteous
>sons whereas Pinchas's wife had no reason to doubt the news she heard and
>thus reacted the way she did.

3. Consistency of terminology in Tanach: One of the things that many
many meforshim discuss a great deal is what might perhaps best be termed
in English the "word play" in Tanach (I don't like the English term,
with its connotations of triviality contained in the word "play", but I
do not know of a better one) That is in other words, the fact that the
same word or root is used operates as a form of linkage. To me, it is no
coincidence that the only two uses of hashemua is in these two cases - ie
there is a classic mida k'neged mida linkage. To you it is happenstance.
In the once case it means (has to mean, because you refuse to believe
it could mean anything else) rumour, in the other case it means true news.

4. Importation of concepts into an important Tanachi term where it is
not clear they exist. Because you are determined that Eli cannot but
have doubted what had to be the exaggerated reports, you are forced to
interpret the term hashamuah as meaning a rumour, something that is
not known to be true. But, as I mentioned, the root here is shema.
Now shema is a very important root word for us. When we say "shema
yisroel" and are kabel ohel malchus shamayim, I don't think any of us mean
"there is an unsubstantiated rumour oh Yisroel that the Lord thy G-d,
the Lord is one". What we mean when we say this is exactly the opposite
"it is unquestionably true and established that the Lord thy G-d the
Lord is one". That is why I queried whether there were other references
in Tanach where shemua or shema is used to mean an unsubstantiated
hearing, rather than a completely true and substantiated hearing.
It is quite a radical (to say the least) position to say that a root
word that to most of us means complete and utter truth actually means
a a statement or report current without known authority for its truth.
If in fact there are no definitive cases in which the root word shema
is linked to statements or reports current without known authority for
truth - then in fact what you might end up doing by trying to defend
Eli is undermining one of the basic tenets of our emunah completely off
your own bat. That is a pretty "brave" position to be in, and I think I
would want some serious back up, which is why I asked for (at a minimum)
where else in Tanach the term was used similarly.

Just some of the problems I see with your approach.

Chana Luntz

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Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 18:17:24 -0500
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>
Re: Isolation is it right or wrong

On Tue, 2005-11-01 at 10:30 -0600, Gershon Seif wrote:
> 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.
> 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.

perhaps the Rambam was saying that only if the ONLY things you can learn
from them are bad.  But it there are good things you can learn from them
as well, perhaps his running away to a cave advice wouldn't apply?  

Which would sort of fit with what RSRH, if the world gets so bad that
one has to withdraw from it in order to live the life Hashem wants us to
lead, then one has to ask the question, what's the point of this world.
Perhaps RSRH might also have believed that the world could never get
that bad?

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 23:39:36 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: isolation - is it right or wrong?

On Mon, Oct 31, 2005 at 12:14:47AM -0800, Gershon Seif wrote:
: Do I detect two divergent world views here? An this is *The Rambam* who is
: so bandied about as being so open and integrated. (I'm curious if someone
: from the TuM camp has a pshat in this Rambam that fits their approach

RSRH also found that there's a place for DE and participation in society
and a place for Austritt.

Saying one should integrate to the full extend possible doesn't mean
denying that there are ways in which it just isn't possible. Dei'os 6:1
defines one case in which it's impossible -- when one can't withstand
peer pressure to do the wrong thing. "She'ein meinichin oso leisheiv
bemedinah ela im kein nis'areiv imahen venoheig beminhagan hara."

Perishus is defined as separating from temptations you aren't capable
of battling.


Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 17:29:45 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>

"Historically, the Jews always attempted to insulate themselves from
the influences of the surrounding gentiles."

I am not sure of the historical accuracy of this. Yes in Poland where the
goyim were low level farmers it was true, It was less true in Sefardi
lands like midieval Spain of the golden age and more recent in North
Africa. It has not been very true since Ghettos were eliminated and Jews
flocked to the big city rather than the shtetl.

In Roman days I think there was mcu cross influence between Jews and Greek
society especially outside of Israel in cities like Alexandria and Rome.
With Chanuka coming around the corner the number of Greek lovers in
Jerusalem were quite large. Look at the model of the old city at the
end of the second Temple and one discovers a hippodrone "across the
street" from the Bet Hamikdash.
I dont believe it was only visited by Roman citizens.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 06:30:26 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
The Power of Speech

This was something of an epiphany for me, so I'm not sure I can relay
it well:

Usually, shmuessin on the subject of shemiras halashon revolve around
showing how much power is in speech, how speech has a real challos in
the world.

I realized something during leining last week (Bereishis): It's lehefech!
The point isn't that speech is a real thing, the point is that every
real thing is in truth just speech! "Vayomer E-lokim...."


Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

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Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 23:46:42 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: only one opinion

On Sun, Oct 30, 2005 at 06:42:23PM -0600, brent wrote:
:                                 It was put forth, (thankfully), based
: upon this Ramban (and the other Rishonim that hold like this)
: ... According to this opinion one is only required to accept Medrashei
: Halacha and not Aggadata.
: It is made clear by the Ramchal and others that Medrash Aggadata are
: allegories to teach deeper ideas and not historical facts....

I think the position should be rephrased.

One is as obligated to accept medrashei aggada (and aggadita in Shas)
as one is medrashei halakhah (and the pesaqim of Shas). However,
accepting medrash aggada means accepting the truth of the nimshal,
not the historicity of the mashal.

I've listed the rishonim and acharonim who make this point. IIRC,
RGSeif has a collection of mar'eh meqomos for it.


Micha Berger             Spirituality is like a bird: if you tighten
micha@aishdas.org        your grip on it, it chokes; slacken your grip,
http://www.aishdas.org   and it flies away.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 02:04:12 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: only one opinion

On October 31, 2005, Brent Kaufman wrote:
>> Many of them state
>> explicitly that one is not required to follow an aggadah pf chazal
>> contrary to the simple pshat of the pasuk as long as it doesn't change
>> halacha.

Can you name me any Rishonim who eschew maamarey Chazal whenever they are
contrary to the simple pshat? Examples please. Perhaps if you illustrate
your point we can flush out the issue.

> The Ramban says this and it was the topic of a seminar given at the
> last Torah Umesorah convention. It was put forth, (thankfully), based
> upon this Ramban (and the other Rishonim that hold like this) that there
> is no requirement to believe that Bas Paro's arm really stretched, Paro
> was an amah and a half tall, Moshe was 10 amos tall... According to this
> opinion one is only required to accept Medrashei Halacha and not Aggadata.

I would love to see this Ramban. I await your response with baited breath.
(Please don't point to the Ramban in the vikuach who says nothing like
what you mentioned)

> It is made clear by the Ramchal and others that Medrash Aggadata are
> allegories to teach deeper ideas and not historical facts. I personally
> don't get why people have the need to choose to take these literally. Can
> someone from that school of thought explain why they believe that way?

Certainly. Firstly, the Ramchal doesn't say what you claim he does. He
breaks up maamarei Chazal into two categories, halachic and aggadic,
and then goes on to break up the aggadic into two categories, ethical and
spiritual. Only in the spiritual ones does the Ramchal mention that they
are not all necessarily kipshuto. The remainder certainly are and there
is no question that we have to follow them. Chazal are full of history,
hanhagos, hashkafos, deos etc. To make a blanket statement about all
aggaditos is a gross overextension of the concept of concealment in
these maamarim.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 12:06:30 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Rambam and hazal

In an offline discussion, RS Coffer defended his understanding of the
rambam's statement that we don't decide in matters where there is no
practical application as follows (cited with permission)

> Basically the way I see the Rambam there is that when a maamar Chazal
> has no practical application, we are not obligated to pasken like one
> side over the other. Thus, if there is a machlokes R' Eliezer and R'
> Akiva if the dor hamidbar has olam habba or not, paskening like one
> over the other has no practical application in this world. OTOH, if the
> maamar has any practical application in olam hazeh such as in deos,
> hashkafos, history, hanhagos tovos etc. than the Rambam's klal would
> not necessarily apply. In fact, even if it has to do with something
> that will physically unfold in the future, as long as it is something
> that occurs here on our lovely planet earth, the Rambam would take the
> maamar Chazal seriously and attempt to reach some kind of conclusion.
> Thus, the Rambam paskens like Shmuel about how the ymos hamashiach will
> unfold. In short, any maamar Chazal that has *some* kind of practical
> application in olam hazeh is taken into consideration and can't simply
> be dismissed with whatever alternate pshat one wishes to impose.

WADR, I think that this understanding is wrong, and diametrically opposed
to the rambam's own statements.

As a preface, in every machloket of any issue, people do take sides,
and the rambam has his own take on many of these machloket - and he
incorporated some of these into the Mishne Torah. The question is the
extent to which he viewed that as a psak - binding interpretation.

Now, the relevant statement of the rambam - that any machloket that
has no practical application (to use the Rambam's own language in PhM
on Sota 3:3 kol svara min hasevarot sheeyn ba ma'aseh min hama'asim we
don't decide who is right - there has to be an actual act involved.

Now, the rambam viewed this principle as sufficiently important that he
repeated it three times in PhM - something he rarely does. Therefore,
one should go through those three times to understand what he means.

The first case is in Sotah 3:3 - and the discussion is whether zchut is
toleh in mey sotah - whether the punishment of mey sotah is deferred if
the woman has merits. This is viewed by the mishne as having important
hashkafic implications , and even practical implications about how women
should behave and be taught to behave - and even halachic implications,
as ben zoma uses this as a rationale to require women to study torah.

The rambam there states that this is one of those issues that is a
theoretical discussion "sheeyn ba ma'aseh min hama'asim" - and therefore
we don't decide. However, right afterwards, he adds that the halacha is
not like ben zoma. Therefore, even though the theoretical discussion has
potential practical implications for "deos, hashkafos,, ...hanhagos tovos
etc. " - as RSC requires - we don't decide the theoretical discussion -
although we do make decisions on the related practical issue.

THe second time is in perek helek, dealing with who didn't get olam
haba - something that has clear implications for "deos, hashkafos,
history" -because it reflects our assessment of the past - and here too
we don't decide.

The third time is in shvuot 1:2. THe issue is the extent to which
different korbanot, including the seir on yom kippur, are mechapper.
He says there lefi shehu davar masur lashem - it is something that is
given over to hashem - and therefore rabbinic discussions of it are
irrelevant. Rabbinic discussions can be decided about how the seir is
offered - but he states quite clearly that any rabbinic decision of the
extent of kappara is irrelevant, because hashem decides that.

Now, the extent to which a korban is mechapper is actually quite relevant
to deot, hashkafot, and hanhagot tovot - because people's behavior
is modified by the extent to which they think they need more kappara,
or to the extent that they have given up hope of kappara.

Therefore, it is quite interesting that in hilkhot tshuva, the rambam is
specific about the extent of kappara of the seir, as well as the extent
of kappara required for different averot, and the level of kappara
associated with different mechaprim - something that in the PhM he
specifically states is not part of the halachic process.

I would argue that that this is proof that the rambam is quite
specific that arguments of hazal about theoretical issues without a
direct practical consequence "ma'aseh min hama'asim" are not decided
halachically, even if the theoretical issue has associated practical
and even halachic consequences (as in the case in sota) - although
the halachic and practical issues will be decided. Ultimately, as the
rambam's statement about that this masur lashem shows, he views rabbinic
discussions as deciding halacha, but not reality - that is masur lashem.
This would also apply to history - a discussion in hazal about what
happened during a historical event does not decide what actually happened.

This view is radically different than most contemporary views (one thinks
of the story from the Kotzker about how since the rambam decreed there
were no shedim, they disappeared - a diamterically opposed viewpoint to
that that is davar masur lashem) - but seems quite clear.

Meir Shinnar

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