Avodah Mailing List
Volume 16 : Number 035
Monday, November 21 2005
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 22:54:59 -0500
From: "Samuel Svarc" <email@example.com>
Subject: Torah Riddles
Here in Lakewood, there is a weekly riddle sheet. Some are quite good. I
figured I would post them every now and then when Avodah seems a little
slow. For it to work, I would ask those Areivimites that live in Lakewood,
and know the answers, to kindly not give them away. After a suitable
time period, say a week, I or anyone from Lakewood could then post the
answer. If it wasn't already worked out. This sheet, called "Ha'ichud
B'chidud" accepts any answer that technically, and correctly, answers
their question; each answer gets entered into a raffle for a free trip to
Eretz Yisroel. The number to submit answers is: (732)370-2328. Hearing
an answer from someone else doesn't disqualify a person, the criteria
is knowing the correct answer.
When is it permitted to say that you heard something from someone,
even if in truth you haven't?
Although giving a case of being "m'shaneh m'pneh hashalom" would
technically answer the question; that is not the answer we're looking for.
P.S. For those that really know every word that RSRH wrote (I am,
unfortunately, not in that group) there is an alternate answer.
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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 10:09:03 +1100
From: Rael Levinsohn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: transgression for its own sake
On my blog I wrote up a post called "Transgression for its own sake"
An excerpt that I want to share with you is the following:
"An interesting idea that I have not seen anyone make the connection to,
is that of zealotry as an "aveira lishmo". The follwing source gives
expression to this idea [http://www.halachabrura.org/parsha-e.htm]
"The Gemara says that if a zealot asks Bet Din if he should kill the
sinners, they deter him. The Rosh infers from this that there is no
mitzvah to kill them, only permission. But the Ran holds that it's a
mitzvah, only Bet Din does not tell anyone to carry it out, because
the mitzvah is only for "zealots", and the fact that someone asks shows
that he isn't a zealot. " ("Pinchas One who lies with a non-Jewess --
Zealots kill him" based on Birur Halacha, Sanhedrin 82a)
My thought process on the above source was as follows:
Surely a person is bound to following the ruling of the beis din in
a situation where a psak has been giving[?]. How can it be that this
man has fulfilled a mitzvah by killing the perpetrator, but yet if he
had stopped to ask the beis din the question, his act would have been
forbidden[?], possibly a sin[?]"
I was wondering if anyone agreed / disagreed with this contention,
or perhaps I have misunderstood the entire issue.
Looking forward to feedback,
- Rael Levinsohn
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Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 19:13:17 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Kabbalah today
On November 16, 2005, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> I just want to verify that we are in agreement that Yashka was familiar
> with Kabbalaistic concepts. Thus you admit the possibility that the
> religion Yashka started might be based on kabbalistic concepts. Our
> only point of disagreement is whether Rav Tzadok is indicating that both
> Yashkoa and ST were at some time on high spiritual levels prior to their
> spiritual collapse.
I agree that Yoshko could have *possibly* been aware of kabbalistic
concepts although I highly doubt it. You are no doubt aware of the
restrictions Chazal put on transmitting sodos haTorah to their talmidim
as the Rambam illustrates from the maaseh in the Gemara about a man
who approached some other men and asked to be taught maaseh merkava in
lieu of him teaching them maaseh bereishis. But by the time they had
imparted the wisdom of MM to him, he changed his mind and decided not
to hold up his end of the bargain. Not, says the Rambam, because he was
mean-spirited but because he understood that they were not yet on the
level of comprehending the sod of MB. RYBP was no doubt aware of his
talmid's inadequacy. I'm sure he didn't impart to him much in the way
of kabbalistic teachings. Thus, any kabbalistic bent to Christianity
is warped, at best, much like the rest of their cheap imitations of the
rest of our Torah.
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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 09:17:14 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: m'dameh davar l'davar
My wife asked the following question:
If taking a strainer containing tea leaves out of a cup of tea on Shabbos
is borer, why isn't taking a tea bag containing tea leaves out of a cup
of tea on Shabbos borer?
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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 10:58:57 -0500
From: Micha Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: m'dameh davar l'davar
On Mon, Nov 21, 2005 at 09:17:14AM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: My wife asked the following question:
: If taking a strainer containing tea leaves out of a cup of tea on Shabbos
: is borer, why isn't taking a tea bag containing tea leaves out of a cup
: of tea on Shabbos borer?
Your wife asks a good question. AIUI, it IS boreir (SSK 3:58, besheim
RSZA). The trick is to use a spoon, so that you take ochel out along
with the pesoles. Alternatively, remove the back rapidly so that it's
When drinking from a cup with an embedded filter (eg I own
<http://tinyurl.com/baqk2>, or drinking Mate through a bombilla), since
the act of drinking is the same act as the birur, my LOR considers it
akhilah le'alter (unsurprisingly IMHO).
Micha Berger "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
firstname.lastname@example.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: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 10:37:31 -0500
From: "R. Alexander Seinfeld" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Writting His name in full
Mishna Berura in "Peh" (85:10) seems to poskin explicitly that one may
indeed erase "God" in other languages if not in Hebrew (but may not
utter those names in vain or in disrespectful manner.
Shulchan Aruch 334:21 states that the sefer Torah written by an apikorus
or mumar does not get saved from fire on Shabbos.
Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld
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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 10:58:03 -0500
From: Zev Sero <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Writting His name in full
R. Alexander Seinfeld wrote:
> Mishna Berura in "Peh" (85:10) seems to poskin explicitly that one may
> indeed erase "God" in other languages if not in Hebrew (but may not
> utter those names in vain or in disrespectful manner.
Which fits with both the Shach and the Kitzur. If it shouldn't be
said in vain or disrespectfully, then it also shouldn't be written on
something which will be disposed of in a midden.
> Shulchan Aruch 334:21 states that the sefer Torah written by an apikorus
> or mumar does not get saved from fire on Shabbos.
That's a completely different issue. If it wasn't Shabbos, such a sefer
torah must be burned. On Shabbos you can't burn it, but if Hashem seems
to have taken matters into His own hands, so to speak, then why should
we interfere? Perhaps if we'd burned it before Shabbos the fire wouldn't
But it's "sefer torah shektavo min", and I think that "min" in this case
is davka, and not a synonym for "apikores" or "mumar". It's specifically
a sefer written by a Christian that must be burned, because every time
that he writes the Name, he doesn't mean Hashem, he means his god.
A sefer written by an apikores, or by a mumar to a non-Xian religion,
shouldn't be different than one written by a goy, which must be buried
rather than burned, because its Names were intended to refer to Hashem,
even if the scribe doesn't actually believe in Him.
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Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 00:18:49 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: disagreeing with rishonim - haskafa
On November 16, 2005, RET wrote:
> [R Simcha Coffer:]
>> If this is so,
>> it would seem that whenever a maamar Chazal, aggadic or otherwise, is
>> duly established, the CS would understand the Ramban to be saying that
>> it must be accepted without reservation. Essentially, this is precisely
>> what I am attempting to demonstrate.
> I certainly hope you are not accepting aggadot literally virtually
> all achronim warn against this. Most Aggadot are meant to give ethical
> lessons not teach nature, history or science.
Most? How do you know? To me it seems pretty much an equal split
however either which way they must be accepted without reservation,
either literally in the case of ethical aggados, or with appropriate
interpretation in the case of sodosdic type aggados (see Ramchal in
maamar haHaAgados...he breaks up the aggadic literature in Chazal into
two types, ethical and spiritual and regarding the latter he claims that
often times they are not to be taken literally as opposed to the former
category). If we do not have the key to unlock the proper meaning in
some aggados, than we remain with a tzarich iyun but we don't dismiss
them out of hand. BTY, the famous R' Hai Gaon that seems to do just that
is apparently referring to aggados that are 1) not established and b)
not based on pesukim. During the course of the generations following his
death, Bavli and Yerushalmi and some medrashim were further verified,
redacted, annotated etc. to the extent that it would, IMO, be highly
tenuous, to say the least, for someone to merely dismiss a maamar Chazal
out of hand in light of his understanding of the situation. Offering an
*additional* pshat to Chazal though, is permissible.
[Email #2. -mi]
On November 7, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>>I didn't mean examples of names of Rishonim. I meant examples of instances
>>where the above-named Rishonim diverged from Chazal. So far, only R'
>>Micha has responded with an example from the Rashbam and JSO has jumped
>>in with a response so I'm going to sit this one out.
> I am surprised that this is a matter for discussion. There are countless
> examples. Those below I cited in Daas Torah page 222.
Despite my original intention to "sit out" this discussion, I would like
to clarify my position in light of RDE's well researched post (I would
like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to RDE for his
painstaking work in researching the mareh mikomos and supplying us with
a nice list to work with). Ideally I would like to write an article on
this issue however ein adam niftar min haolam v'chatzi ta'avaso bi'yado
so I'll make do with a few short remarks for now.
> *Ohr HaChaim**[i]* (Bereishis 1:1): *You should know that we have
> permission to explain the implication of the verses after careful
> study--even though our conclusions differ from the explanation of our
> Sages. That is because there are 70 faces to Torah...
This source does not claim that we can reject Chazal's biblical
interpretations or dismiss them out of hand. It merely states that we
may offer *additional* interpretations, as do the next three sources
from the Ohr haChaim.
> *Ohr HaChaim**[ii]* (Bereishis 46:8): ...
> *Ohr HaChaim**[iv]* (Vayikra 26:3): ...
> *Ohr HaChaim**[iii]* (Devarim 32:1): *Even though I am explaining this
> differently than our Sages but we know that there are 70 faces to Torah
> (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:16). Concerning Agada it is permitted to offer
> explanations even if they contradict those of our Sages as long as they
> don't contradict the Halacha....
I have left RDE'S entire quote intact in this final quote because this
particular one from the OH requires the most attention. The OH seems
to say that we can contradict Chazal but again, this must be understood
within the context of shivi'im panim laTorah where sometimes one verse can
actually have seemingly contradictory explanations. This phenomenon can
be understood in various ways (and I have recently illustrated at least
two approaches that reconcile this apparent dichotomy and JSO just showed
me a third, incredible approach by the Gra...I'll let him post it) but
one thing is clear: the pshat must be considered a valid representation
of shiv'im panim (which means it has to be emes) and the pasuk has to
be sovel this pshat (as opposed to a drasha from Chazal which does not
have to fit, in an apparent way, into the pashut pshat of the pasuk)
Also, the OH would much rather have both pshatim fit into the pasuk
as he says one line later (not translated by RDE above) so offering a
seemingly contradictory pshat to Chazal is only a bidieved in his eyes.
> *Vayikra Rabbah**[i]* (22:1).* Torah, Mishna, Halacha, Talmud, Tosefta,
> Agada, and even what a faithful disciple would say in the future were
> taught to Moses on Sinai...
You missed a part of the translation. The Medrash actually says
"what a veteran disciple is destined to say *in the presence of his
teacher*"... An alternate nusach can be found in Tanchuma Shemos perek 17
"and even what a veteran disciple will ask his teacher"...
I have two comments to make. Firstly, it would seem from the overlay
of these two nuschaos that not every proclamation made by a student is
included in this category. A lot of people speak without thinking first
and have no real source for what emanates from their mouths. Surely this
would not be included in the list of "Torah Mishna Talmud" etc. Second
of all, not every question, even if well considered, remains a valid
approach to understanding pshat in Torah. I'm sure there were thousands
of questions that Hashem taught Moshe and then responded with their
answers such that the maskana was *not* like the question although
the question may have had validity to it. Thus, not every question,
although possibly valid, can necessarily be used to reinterpret a verse
to accommodate it. There may be an answer...we're just not aware of
it. The reason I am darshening on about this is because it seems to me
that there are a lot of approaches which have been developed recently
with seemingly too callous a disregard to our traditional approaches. My
point would then be that although alternate pshatim in the pesukim may,
technically, be permissible, they must be done with eima yira reses and
zeeya. Perhaps the OH was capable of this facility; us, hmm...I just
don't know how hasty we should be in following his lead.
> *Yaavetz*[ii] (1:108): *I am upset with Rishonim such as the Radak
> and other pursuers of the simple meaning of the text (rodfei hapshat)
> whose lust for the surface understanding causes them to swallow it
> without proper preparation and without proper cooking. Many times, we
> see that they have arrogantly rejected the views of our Sages for their
> own understanding based on the simple meaning of the text. Here also in
> this case they don't accept the traditions of our Sages in understanding
> the nature of the altar of the Temple...
Sounds like my kind of quote! I think we should make it the definitive
Chareidi quote on this subject. I would leave out the arrogance and lust
part about the Rishonim though :-).
In all seriousness, although I definitely understand the ta'anah of the
Yaavetz, Rav Dessler defends the Radak and in doing so puts an entirely
different spin on the Radak's words. Who was right, the Yaavetz or Rav
Dessler? Well, as anyone who knows me can guess, I am partial to Rav
Dessler's approach in almost all subjects. I have good reasons for it
though and will list them shortly bl'n.
> *Ramban**[v]* (Bereishis 8:4): The Ark came to rest in the 7th month
> on the 17th day of the month*...--Rashi writes that we learn from this
> verse that the Ark was submerged in the water to a depth of 11 amos
> according the calculations that he wrote in his commentary. This is also
> stated in Bereishis Rabbah (33:7). However, since Rashi in various places
> minutely analyzes medrashim and toils to explain the plain meaning of the
> verses--he grants us the right to also do it. That is because there are 70
> faces to the Torah and also many medrashim contain disagreements between
> the Sages. Therefore, I claim that this calculation is incompatible with
> the language of the verse.
In my recent discussion with Rebetzin Chana Luntz,
I described this phenomenon at length. Please see
In short, what I explained there is that there are aggados hamiyashvos
es hamikraim davar dibur al ofanav and these are the type Rashi is
noteh towards and is what the Ramban means here. There are then the type
aggados that support the peshat in spirit and then those that are not al
pi peshuto shel mikra at all. The fact that the Ramban needs to be somech
on Rashi to sometimes interpret the pesukim not al pi the third category
shows how much the Ramban was hesitant to veer from the interpretations
of Chazal even when they seemed to unequivocally contradict the peshuta
shel mikra. It is only because there are various maamarei Chazal, or like
you translate above "That is because there are 70 faces to the Torah and
also many medrashim contain disagreements between the Sages" that the
Ramban felt that he could rely on one maamar Chazal over the other as
Rashi does and perhaps even interpret the pasuk with his own pshat as
opposed to Chazal's, without finding an alternate source in Chazal. In
this case though, see the following pasuk (and Shevel's notes there)
where there seems to be support for the Ramban's approach from Chazal
themselves (Beraishis Rabbah)
> *Rashbam[i] (Shemos 4:10):* It is inconceivable that a prophet who
> spoke with G-d face to face and received the Torah from Him should have
> a speech impediment. Such an assertion is not found in the words of the
> Tanayim and Amoraim. We don't concern ourselves with what is written in
> books outside the canon [The assertion found in Shemos Rabbah 1:26 that
> Moshe stuttered].
AFAIC, this Rashbam merely proves the respect he had for Chazal, not that
he felt he could disagree with them. The fact that he says that these are
not the words of Tanaim or Amoraim but words of "seforim chitzoniyim"
proves that either he didn't have this nusach in his Medrash Rabbah
or that he didn't consider all the maamarey Chazal in Medrash Rabbah
as authentic as those found in Bavli. Regardless, you certainly have
no right quoting this Rashbam to support the idea that he argues on
Chazal. As it happens, the Rashbam does offer alternate peshatim to
Chazal's interpretations but it can easily be explained as we did above.
> *Ramban**[i]* (Dispute): *We have three types of books. The first is
> the Bible and everyone believes in it with perfect faith. The second is
> called Talmud and it is a commentary on the mitzvos of the Torah. The
> Bible has 613 commandments and there is not one which is not explained
> in the Talmud. We believe in it concerning the explanations of the
> mitzvos. There is a third type of book which is called medrash i.e.,
> sermons. It is comparable to a preacher getting up and giving a sermon
> and some listening liked it and recorded it. Concerning medrash--it
> is fine if one wishes to believe them. However there is no loss if one
> doesn't want to believe them.
This may sound like pure hisnatzlus but the Ramban didn't mean it! I
have a source. Here goes...
Translation from Sheviley Zahav pg. 27: (with my bracketed insertions)
It is clear that these words that the Ramban spoke with his mouth, he
annulled in his heart. An entirely different opinion was what really
defined the Ramban's approach in these [aggadic sayings regarding
the birth of Mashiach] either like the Abarbanel's interpretations or
in other ways or possibly also according to the pathways of secrecy
[kabala]. This too is clear that these words [of the Ramban here]
have given the light-minded [kaley ha'daas] licence to disbelieve [at
will] all the words of the haggada and the Midrashim as our eyes have
seen in recent generations that those who wish to tear down all the
barriers have relied on this great peg [the words of the Ramban here]
and to take great and honourable teachings of our nation and say that
they are merely the words of hagada and we are not obligated to believe
them. And also the Ramban surely foresaw this in his great wisdom but
despite this he did not attend himself to this consideration for he saw
himself forced in the endeavour of the salvation of the whole [Jewish]
religion to somewhat uproot them [the words of aggadita] for the sake
of the survival of the whole body [i.e. religion]. End translation
Well, there you have it. My take. What I find puzzling is that anyone
who studies the Ramban on Shas or on Chumash *knows* the endless respect
he has for their interpretations. Why would someone (I don't mean RDE)
point out this Ramban which can so easily be imputed to circumstances,
in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? (RDE was just
bringing down a list of sources and was attempting to remain faithful
to his mission of revealing all possible sources)
> *Chasam Sofer**[ii]* (O. H. 1:16): *The Ramban has stated in his debate
> with the apostate that the obligation to believe agada and medrashim
> only applies to those found in the Babylonian and Yerushalmi Talmud. The
> validity of other medrashim can be accepted or rejected.
The CS apparently understood the Ramban to say that midrashim that are
not brought down in Bavli or Yerushalmi are not necessarily authentic
as is obvious from the context of the teshuva there. I would say that
this is similar to what we said regarding the Rashbam's approach above
although I personally take the approach of the Shevilay Zahav.
> page 108 Ramban rejects the views of Chazal concerning the rainbow which
> contract Greek science
Page 108? And where do Chazal differ in their view with the Greeks in
this matter? AFAIC, the above does not belong on RDE's list at all.
> *Ramban[i] (Bereishis 9:12): *We are forced to believe the words of the
> Greeks that the rainbow is a natural result of the sun shining on moist
> air--because we see a rainbow when a container of water is placed before
> the sun.... In other words, the Torah is stating that the preexisting
> physical phenomenon--the rainbow--will from now on serve as a sign of
> the covenant.
Nowhere in this Ramban does he claim that Chazal say anything different
than the Greeks. When he says "we are forced" he means kineged the
peshutam shel hamikraos which seem to indicate that the phenomenon of
the rainbow did not exist before the mabul. This mareh makom, IMHO,
must also be stricken off RDE'S list.
> In fact it is such a common phenomenon that Rav Dessler felt it necessary
> to rationalize it. Not everyone agrees however with his assertion that
> the Rishonim didn't believe what they wrote- as is obvious from the
> comments above.
My primary purpose in writing this post was to make a few quick remarks
and then get down to business regarding Rav Dessler's approach but
it seems I have rambled on long enough so I'll leave Rav Dessler for
[Email #3. -mi]
On November 16, 2005, Eli Turkel wrote:
> In the recent past I have seen several cases where modern achronim
> disagree with some rishonim on haskafic issues
> 1. We have discussed R. Elyashiv's psak that one is not allowed to
> follow the opinion of R. Avraham ben HaRambam, R. Hai Gaon and others
> that chazal may of erred in scientific/medical areas.
Where does R' Hai Gaon say that Chazal erred in scientific/medical areas,
much less anything else? 9not the teshuvas geonim...he doesn't even
mention science there). Also, I don't see R' Elyashiv disagreeing with
R' Avraham ben haRambam. I see him paskening like the other rishonim. If
RABH was the only rishon who had anything to say on the matter, perhaps R'
Elyashiv would not have paskened that way.
> 2. RDE recently showed me an article by R. Zadok. He says that when
> the ARI disagrees with rishonim then the rishon is wrong. He gives the
> example that the Ran and others claim that early kabbalists including
> Ramban made mistakes. The Ari says that while many rishonim were wrong
> on kabbalistic ideas the Ramban wa= s always right. R. Zadok says this
> proves that the Ran erred.
The Shomer Emunim explains this phenomenon at length. It doesn't mean
that the Rishonim erred. It just means that post Ramban the kabala
(tradition of Kabalah) was lost and thus the Rishonim who spent time on
kabalah often-times forwarded opinions that were based purely on sevara
alone. When the Ramak came, and subsequently the Ari, they were milaket
all of the shittos and were mizakech and milaben Toras haNistar to the
point that all prior machlokesin were finally resolved and a definitive
work was written "paskening" the halachah in kabbala. Thus the Arizal
should be looked upon as posek acharon in nistar; I don't know anyone,
Chasidishe or Litvishe, subsequent to the Arizal that "farginned" him
> He firther states that once the Zohar was
> revealed one is prohibited from accepting the Rambam and others who held
> that hasgacha does not apply to every individual and especially not to
> every animal. Rather one is required to reject this opinion as apikorsus.
Chas v'shalom. Every rishon that I know of held like the Rambam in
hashgacha pratis. The Sefer haChinuch claims that no one at his time held
differently and anyone who does is a shoteh! In fact, even after the Baal
Shem Tov revealed a new dimension in hashgacha pratis (hashgacha al kol
prat uprat) Chassidishe Rabbeim strove to reconcile the Rambam's shita
with the Baal Shem Tov's. I personally have a reconciliation myself on the
most fundmental point of disagreement between them (based on Rav Dessler
of course). If the Rambam and all the Rishonim were wrong is a bazunderra
shaila however it is definitely not apikorsus to believe like them.
> 3. RYBS in Ethical Man and quotes Kuzari and Ramban that EY has an
> intrinsi= c kedushah. They use this to explain why Avraham was sent
> to Canaan. RYBS states explicitly that with all due respect to these
> rishonim he cannot accept this, Rather he holds that EY has kedusha
> because of the experiences of the Jewish people. Thus it became holy
> because Avraham came there rather than the other way.
I disagree with RYBS. My proof is from the Gemara in Zvachim 113. The
Gemara darshens from a pasuk regarding the holiness of the land that
the mabul did not descend on Eretz Yisrael. And even Rish Lakish who
disagrees says that the dead of the mabul were surely washed out of Eretz
Yisrael after the flood. This shows that Eretz Yisrael was intrinsically
holy before Avraham Avinu ever got there. There are actually many other
maamarey Chazal that indicate this but I think this one suffices to
prove my point.
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