Avodah Mailing List
Volume 16 : Number 041
Monday, November 28 2005
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 23:10:08 GMT
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <email@example.com>
Subject: re: Bilam's klalos (was: rising Torah star)
R. SBA asks
> The above posuk about Hashem transforming Billom's kelolo livrocho
> [also, also BTW, mentioned in the RBSO that we say during duchening] is
> puzzling. After all Billom did NOT curse the Yidden - much to Balak's
> displeasure. So how and why did Hashem 'convert' his 'non-klelos'
> into brochos?
I am puzzled by the puzzlement. Bilam was compelled to say the words
Hashem put in his mouth -- "Hadavar asher yasim Elohim b'fi oso adabeir."
What came out was the exact opposite of what he wanted to say, as the
g'mara says: "Mibirchaso shel oso rasha ata lamed mah haya b'libo."
Hence, Hashem changed the intended k'lalos into b'rachos.
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 22:24:11 +0000
From: Arie Folger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: "Es" lerabos
> If we found a pasuq that demonstratively needed the "es" for simple peshat
> (say the pasuq was of the structure verb-noun-noun), so that the word
> would be fully accounted for without a derashah. Would Shim'on haEmsoni
> have a derashah for it, or not?
> I would say that he would, since it does not depend on needing to find a
> reason for H' using the "es". RMP and REMT (and you to, if I understand
> your "accounting" position) would have no basis for him to do so.
Well, eh, hmmm, let's say that you misunderstood what I wrote in that
case. I believe that in such a case, where the es is demonstrably
necessary, there would (could?) still exist a derashah, since rather
than looking for a superflous word, I suggest accounting for all words,
including necessary ones.
At first sight, the above can be tested by looking at all the pessuqim
of which we know that they contain an es that is being expounded
upon. However, this isn't so simple, as the definition of a necessary es
isn't clear cut. I would tend to require an es in almost every accusative
phrase, but I know that the Torah often skips out on the es. I am not sure
whether it is so easy to establish which es is absolutely necessary. Does
somone care to compile a list of all es based derashot available in Shas,
to enable us to check whether the es is at least somewhat dispensable?
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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 18:48:59 -0500
From: "L. E. Levine" <email@example.com>
Subject: Rav A. Miller and Thanksgiving
>Rav Miller was very much opposed to the celebration of Thanksgiving.
>Being American born he certainly knew in detail how it was celebrated.
A fellow who learned in Chaim Berlin when Rav Miller was the mashgiach
there told me the following story. It was Thanksgiving Day and his
parents wanted him to come home from yeshiva in the afternoon to join
in the family celebration. He told Rav Miller he was leaving to go
home. Rav Miller asked him, "Are you going to home for Thanksgiving
dinner?" "Yes," he replied. "Are you going to have turkey?" "Yes." "With
stuffing?" "Yes." "With yams?" "Yes." With pumpkin pie?" "Yes." "Ok,
then go home."
As he was just about to walk out of the Bais Medrash, Rav Miller shouted
at the top of his lungs so that everyone in the Bais Medrash could hear,
"It's Yarog v'al Yaavir!!!"
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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 19:46:28 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Shemoneh Perakim Chap. 6 (Also: Re: Halakhah and emotions)
On Mon, Oct 03, 2005, R.S. Carmy <email@example.com> wrote:
: Mefursamot is not the same as our "rational." I have a more complicated
: view about what the Rambam does mean in Shemona Perakim but it's not
: in print. (A similar position may be discerned in the writings of my
: teacher R Walter Wurzburger zt"l. ve-ein kan makom l'haarikh)
and on Thu, 6 Oct 2005 R' Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org> responded:
> As I neither know RSC's "more complicated view," nor even comprehended
> the chiluq he already made here, I can only ask for more elucidation.
Perhaps I can help, based on R.M.D. Rabinowitz's commentary on
Shemoneh Perakim (Mosaad HaRav Kook, p. 194, note 7): In addition to
sh'maios/hukkim and mefursomos, the Rambam (see Moreh Nevuchim II:33)
holds a third category of biblical mitzvos called "sichlios" -- mitzvos
consisting of concepts that the intellect, sans prophecy, is called upon
to grasp; and this small category consists of the first two dibros, alone
(Anochi Hashem and Lo si'h'yeh...). Thus, I believe, R. Carmy's comment,
"Mefursamot is not the same as our 'rational.'" I.e., mitzvos whose object
are clear and which decent people "feel right about," are not, in the
Rambam's terminolgy, to be called "sichlios"/"rational" mitzvos. Rabbeynu
Saadia Gaon does classify all mitzvos into "sichlios" and "hukim," and it
is to this detail which the Rambam objects, considering its acceptance as
an illict influence from the "Medabrim" sect of Mohamedans. (Nevertheless,
Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon held no less than the Rambam th! at it is only to
our limited minds that hukim are without reason, and that Hashem does
have specific reasons for them beyond being totally arbitrary "decrees
of the king"). The only objection Rambam has to Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon is
the latter's terminology in calling all non-shemaiyos/hukim commandments
I would also point out that in Moreh Nevuchim (III:49) the Rambam
emphasizes that those with advanced intellects (and in possession
of necessary information, such as ancient texts detailing idolatrous
practices of the past) can indeed fathom Hashem's reasons for even the
hukim. (They just are not "mefursim," /widely/ known.) Thus he explains
that the prohibitions against basar b'chalav and shaatnez (as features
of ancient idolatry) and arayos are particular acts chosen by Hashem
to train us in avoiding actually "mefursam" (blatant and understandably
proscribed) acts of idolatry and licentiousness.
(Nevertheless, the Rambam holds that since apparently any number of other
acts could accomplish this same aim, it still remains unfathomable why
one particular act is chosen over all the others, if there is a particular
reason at all.
Here are some illustrations of this principle quoted from the third
section of Moreh Nevuchim (basically Friedlander translation, with
modifications based on Pines and Rav Kephach):
(MN III:35): Of the classes into which we divide the precepts
and which we have enumerated, to the fifth [Nezikin], sixth
[Criminal penalties], and seventh [Kinyanim and MIshpattim], and
part of the third [Hilchos Deyos], belong the mitzvos sheh-bayn adam
l'chaveyro. All the other classes [including the 14th -- Forbidden
Sexual Relationships -- ZL] contain the mitzvos sheh-bayn adam
l'Makom. For every mitzvah that improves the moral or intellectual
condition of mankind, or regulates such of each man's actions which
[directly] only concern him and lead him to perfection, are called
laws concerning man's relation to God, although in reality they lead
to results which concern also his fellow-men. This is because these
results become only apparent after a long series of intermediate
links, and through comprehensive considerations, whilst directly
these laws are not intended to prevent man from injuring his
fellow-man. Note this.
(MN III:48): Meat boiled in milk is undoubtedly gross food, and
makes overfull; but I think that most probably it is also prohibited
because it is somehow connected with idolatry, forming perhaps part
of the service, or being used on some festival of the heathen.
CHAPTER XLIX: The precepts of the fourteenth class are those which we
enumerated in Seder Nashim, Hilkot issurie biah. The laws concerning
animal kela-im and circumcision belong also to this class. The
general purpose of these precepts has already been described by
us. We will now proceed to explain them singly.... The law about
forbidden sexual intercourse seeks in all its parts to inculcate
the lesson that we ought to limit sexual intercourse altogether,
hold it in contempt, and only desire it very rarely.
The Ohr Yisroel
This understanding, I believe, underlies Reb Yisroel Salanter's
explanation (in Ohr Yisroel, 7) of the Rambam's stand in Shemoneh
Perakim. Rambam writes:
"The philosophers said that "one who overcomes his yetzer" is one who
does superior acts despite his urges against them... but a "Chasid"
is someone whose nature and desire compel him to such deeds. And
they say that the Chasid is superior. And this is borne out by
passages in Tanach. But Chazal say that the greater a man is, the
stronger are his temptations for sin and the harder it is for him
to keep from sinning, and they cite occurrences of this. Moreover,
they say the greater one's pain in conquering his yetser, the greater
his reward. Even more: they said: One should not say, 'by nature I
do not have desire for this sin, even were it not forbidden by the
Torah. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel [our girsa: Rebbi Elazar ben Azariah
-- ZL] said, 'One should not say, "ee efshi [It would give me no
pleasure] to eat basar b'chalav, to wear [a garment which happens to
contain] shaatnez, la-vo al ha-ervah [to have sexual pleasure with
a woman to happens to be classified as an ervah]." Rather: "Efshi
[I would get pleasure from it], but what shall I do, my Father in
Heaven decreed upon me [not to do so].
"But there is no contradiction....the evils the philosophers have in
mind are those which are mefursamim among all mankind as evil [i.e.,
recognized as such -- at least intellectually, even despite their
succumbing to them and which morally sensitive people actually feel
repugnance for -- ZL], such as murder, theft and robbery, persecution,
hurting the innocent, returning a good with bad, disrespecting
parents, etc. These are the mitzvos which Chazal described as
'Things which had they not been written were fit to write."
The Ohr Yisroel explains: When it comes to mitzvos of commission or
omission that your average person understands the need for ("mefursomos"),
the internalized desire or repulsion is desirable. But when it comes
to those mitzvos whose connections to idolatry, licentiousness, etc.,
the average person does not realize, one must nevertheless develop,
in association to them, his general desire to obey and repugnance to
disobey Hashem's Will.
* (MN (III:49): If we knew all the particulars of the Sabean worship,
and were informed of all the details of those doctrines, we would clearly
see the reason and wisdom of every detail in the practices prescribed
in the sacrificial service, and the forms of tum’ah and other matters
whose reason cannot, to my mind, be easily grasped. ...Accordingly, every
commandment or prohibition of the Torah whose reason is hidden from you
constitutes a cure for one of those diseases which today, thank G-d,
we do not know anymore.
** MN (III:26): There are commandments which are called "hukkim," such
as sha'atnez, boiling meat and milk together, and the sending of the goat
[into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement]. Our Sages use in reference
to them phrases such as, "These are things which I have fully ordained
for thee: and you dare not criticize them;" "Your evil inclination is
turned against them;" and "non-Jews find them strange." But our Sages
generally do not think that such precepts have no cause whatever, and
serve no purpose; for this would lead us to assume that God's actions
are purposeless. On the contrary, they hold that even these ordinances
have a cause, and are certainly intended for some use, although it
is not known to us; owing either to the deficiency of our knowledge
or the weakness of our intellect. Consequently there is a cause for
every commandment: every positive or negative precept serves a useful
object. In some cases the usefulness is evident, e.g., the prohibition
of murder and theft; in others the usefulness is not so evident, e.g.,
the prohibition of enjoying the fruit of a tree in the first three years
(Lev. xix. 73), or of a vineyard in which other seeds have been growing
(Deut. xxii. 9). Those commandments, whose object is generally evident,
are called" judgments" (mishpatim): those whose object is not generally
clear are called" ordinances" (hukkim).
*** This is how I would explain the following passage in MN (III:26),
where the Rambam is first introducing his thesis on the reasons for
the mitzvos, which otherwise would patently contradict everything else
"I will now tell you what intelligent persons ought to believe in
this respect; namely, that each commandment has necessarily a cause,
as far as its general character is concerned, and serves a certain
object; but as regards its details we hold that it has no ulterior
object.... The law that sacrifices should be brought is evidently
of great use, as will be shown by us (infra, chap. xlvi.): but we
cannot say why one offering should be a lamb, whilst another is a
ram; and why a fixed number of them should be brought. Those who
trouble themselves to find a cause for any of these detailed rules,
are in my eyes void of sense: they do not remove any difficulties,
but rather increase them. Those who believe that these detailed rules
originate in a certain cause, are as far from the truth as those
who assume that the whole law is useless. You must know that Divine
Wisdom demanded it -- or, if you prefer, say that circumstances made
it necessary-that there should be parts [of His work] which have no
certain object....The repeated assertion of our Sages that there are
reasons for all commandments, and the tradition that Solomon knew
them, refer to the general purpose of the commandments, and not to
the object of every detail.
"The prohibition of homosexuality (Lev. xviii. 22) and carnal
intercourse with beasts (ibid. 73) is very clear. If in the natural
way the act is too base to be performed except when needed, how much
more base is it if performed in an unnatural manner, and only for
the sake of pleasure.
"... In order to create a horror of illicit marriages, a mamzer
is prohibited from marrying a Jewish woman (ibid. xxiii. 3): the
adulterer and the adulteress are thus taught that by their act
they bring upon their seed irreparable injury. In every language
and in every nation the issue of licentious conduct has a bad name;
the Law therefore raises the name of the Israelites by keeping them
free from the admixture of bastards....
"The reason it is prohibited to cohabit with a menstruous woman
(Lev. xviii. 19) or with another man's wife (ibid. 20), is obvious,
and requires no further explanation."
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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 20:06:03 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: "Es" lerabos (Avodah V16 #40)
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> And since I believe "es" (or "eis") is usually a necessary word, part
> of saying things gramatically, I could not see how the derashos could
> be of the "extra is merabeh, omission is mema'eit" sort.
The Malbim's next-to-last rule (#612) in his Ayaless HaShachar deals
with when "ess" is used l'rabos. Can anyone explain it to me?
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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 19:56:38 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Rishonim and Chazal (Avodah V16 #40)
Sat, 26 Nov 2005 TK613K@aol.com wrote:
> In Avodah V16 #39 dated 11/26/2005 RJO writes:
> >>And because the later sages realized this fact (may they rest in
> peace), that all of their predecessors' words were clear and pure,
> with nothing superfluous stated, they commanded and exhorted us
> that no man may ridicule them: "Anyone who ridicules the words of
> the Sages is sentenced to boiling excrement [in the Hereafter]"
> (Gittin, 57 A). <<
> What I want to know is, are we to understand "boiling excrement"
> literally or figuratively? Maybe it means that Gehenom is very, very
> unpleasant. Or is there actual excrement there?
The Rambam there continues:
And you have no greater boiling excrement than the stupidity which
made him degenerate into ridiculing the words of the Sages! Thus,
you will never find anyone who brushes aside their words, except
for a man who seeks superficial gratifications and overindulges in
physical pleasures, one who did not enlighten his heart with anu of
the shining brilliance of Torah.
I highly recommend this book. It's a very good read.
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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 09:56:03 GMT
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Going to shul during Shiva
> Can anybody find a mekor for aveilim going to shul (besides for 9 B'Av)
> in the SA?
Where no minyan is available in the aveil's residence, it is a machlokes
of the Chochmas Adam (go to shul) and the Magen Avraham (daven without
a minyan). See Pischei T'shuva in YD 393:2. To the best of my knowledge,
the minhag is to go to shul.
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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 23:22:31 +1100
From: "SBA" <email@example.com>
Subject: Fw: Shnayim Mikra V'echad targum
From: Yaakov Ellis [Areivim]
> To expand the question back to my situation: The extra number of hours
> spent to do shnai mikrah in depth (versus superficially) comes on the
> cheshbon of some other learning that I could be doing (ie: daf yomi and
> halacha yomi, both of which I have fallen behind on). Is the answer
> just that if I find fulfillment from doing an expanded shnai mikrah,
> then I should do so and factor that into my learning schedule? Or maybe
> it is more that this is the lechatchila way of doing shnai mkirah (ie:
> doing it in such a way so that I actually get something out of it)
> and is almost part of the chiyuv itself?
Good questions. You could add another.
Afilu Im tirtzah lomer that SM "in depth" takes precedence over, say,
DY, what if one ONLY has enough time available to do SM 'superficially'?
Does that too take precedence to a shiur in gemara?
Ie, what is more of a chiyuv - 'superficial' SM or limmud hatorah?
Lechoreh I would initially think that SM comes first, being a requirement
in halacha. OTOH maybe not - as al pi din, bedieved, it has 'hashlomo'
all year, so one may presume that until Hoshana Rabba/Simchas Torah he
will find the time to catch up..
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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 09:29:26 -0500
From: "Allen Gerstl" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Sun, 27 Nov 2005 18:29:08 +1100 R' "SBA" <email@example.com> Wrote: Subject: TIDE
>From: "brent kaufman" <>
>>RSRH stated explicitly, way too many times, with way too much passion, that
>>the whole tachlis of human existence is living TIDE,
>...I recently picked up a copy of the Hebrew translation of the 19 Letters
>and read the foreward and IIRC it states that whilst RSRH is famous for
>his TIDE hashkofo - it is hardly ever mentioned in his seforim..
There have been several attempts to make RSRH fit current RW fashions;
however IMO such is not easily done.
As I mentioned before, in the Summer, 1996 and in the Fall, 1996 editions
of Jewish Action, Rabbi Shelomoh Danziger reviewed a new English language
edition of The Nineteen Letters having a new translation and commentary
by Rabbi Joseph Elias. Then there followed a point-counterpoint debate
as to whether RSRH intended TIDE as le-chatchilah. I think that Rabbi
Danziger's proofs are pursuasive.
I think also that if someone reads a booklet on the TIDE haskhafah of
RSRH written by Rabbi Modechai Breur, The "Torah-im-derekh-eretz" of
Samson Raphael Hirsch, Feldheim, Jerusalem and New York, 1979 he will
IIRC the opinion of a Hirsch decendant to the same effect.
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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 17:57:45 -0000
Subject: "Es" lerabos
[Off topic, but since I posted an error, I will let the correction
<<In Latin, where "Brutus" is the subject, "Brute'" is the accusative case
used for direct objects. Thus, Julius Caesar is alleged to have said,
"Et tu Brute'" not "... Brutus." In addition is has a dative case used
for indirect objects.>>
Brutus is declined as follows:
Nominative case (ie subject): Brutus
Vocative case: Brute
Accusative case (used for direct objects): Brutum
Dative case: Bruti
Ablative case: Bruto
R' Micha is correct that the dative is used for indirect objects. However
"Brute" is vocative, not accusative. There is no verb in "et tu, Brute'"
of which it can be the direct object.
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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 17:08:38 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Rishonim and Chazal (was One Opinion)
On November 27, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> Jonathan Ostroff wrote:
>> The Rishonim believe that Peshat is a legitimate derech fully
>>authorized by Chazal, even where the Peshat is not only different from
>>the Derush, but even asserts what appears to be the opposite. In this
>>case, the Rishon merely reveals one of the Shivim Panim of Torah given
>>to Moshe Rabbenu at Har Sinai.
> View #2 above represents a new type of rational for the reality that
> Rishonim sometimes rejected the views of Chazal. From my research this
> distinction was first mentioned by the Maharal
Actually, the Ramban states this approach openly in parshas Noach,
(8:4) when diverging from an aggadas Chazal in BR. If you read the
Ramban closely you will notice that 1) the Ramban feels like he needs
to take rishus from Rashi to be miyashev the pasuk al pi pishuto when
it apparently conflicts with a Medrash aggada 2) he mentions that Rashi
had a right to do so because of shiviim panim latorah 3) there are many
"medrashim chalukim" amongst Chazal themselves (what he means to say is
that since Chazal themselves felt justified to offer varying pirushim
on the same pasuk, we too have the right to do so) so #2 is nothing new,
especially in the Rishonim. And as I posted recently, the Ramban is very
clear on the incorruptibility of maamarei Chazal (hasagos to the Rambam
in Sefer haMitzvos shorsh sheni). Combined, these two Rambans offer a
clear picture of his interaction with all types of maamarei Chazal.
To put my number 1) above in proper context as to exactly what the Ramban
was taking rishus from Rashi to do, you may wish to see my post regarding
Rabbinic misconduct. http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol16/v16n019.shtml#02
In short, I outlined four different maamaray Chazal Rashi takes into
consideration when attempting to be miyashev the pesukim al pi pshat and
#3 and #4 were the types of maamarim that Rashi rejects in interpreting
the pasuk. Not that Rashi meant that they were incorrect; they simply
didn't assist him in being miyashev the pesukim davar dibur al ofanav
and thus my #3 and #4 type aggaditas mentioned in my post would be
classified as drush (as in pshat remez drush sod) or as shiviim panim,
like the Ramban classifies them here.
> One would think in the
> 700 year period that the various commentaries of the rishonim have been
> known that there would be copious examples of this explanation - but I
> couldn't find them.
In addition to the hasagos Ramban, the Rambam in pirush mishnayos is
another example of a Rishon that states that we cannot reject maamarei
Chazal out of hand. The drashos haRan states the same. And so does the
Rashbam (brought down in JSO's post) and many other rishonim. Explanation
#2 is thus the only rational reconciliation for the phenomenon of Rishonim
sometimes disagreeing with Chazal.
> One of the interesting examples of the independence of rishonim -
> especially the Ramban - is found in the issue of the length of the
> Egyptian Exile. He rejects the view of Chazal - which is found in
> Seder Olam. This is not a generic chazal but represents the views of
> Rav Yossi which chazal tells us were particularly accurate. I find it
> hard to understand the idea of pshat versus drash in determining actual
> historical reality - though the Sifsei Chaim seems comfortable with it.
I also find it difficult, as I do this Ramban. I don't think the Sifsei
Chaim would utilize this approach regarding historical Chazals. (As far as
the Ramban, I personally do not yet have a satisfactory approach...v'yesh
From the evidence I have seen - at best you can assert that even
> though the rishonim did in fact disagree at times with Chazal, but since
> the revelation of Kabbala which provides us with a deeper appreciation
> of Chazal - it is no longer allowed to do so.
There were many Rishonim who were familiar with kabbala even before the
latter part of the thirteenth century (when Moses de Leon published the
Zohar) and besides, the majority of them lived after this time.
> This is what Rav Tzadok
> (Sefer Zichronos) does with the fact that the rishonim did not hold by
> the kabbalistic understanding of yichud HaShem and hashgocha protis. He
> does not assert that the rishonim held that HP applies to everything
> but that if we hold by the views of the rishonim it **now** constitutes
R' Tzadok does not call people who hold like the Rishonim in the matter
of HP heretics. The heresy part is reserved for the doctrine of Yichud.
Parenthetically, I challenge you to show me in the Zohar the concept of
HP al kol prat uprat.
> This approach has also been used to justify the ban on R'
> Slifkin's writings - despite that he cites rishonim to justify his views.
If this was the justification, the ban would, IMO, be absolutely
unjustified. But it wasn't. The issue was that the book undermines
our general messorah despite listing some possible sources in its
defence. Like I mentioned in an earlier email, not all sources make it as
part of our collective messorah like Rav Hillel and mashiach for instance.
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