Avodah Mailing List
Volume 16 : Number 119
Monday, February 6 2006
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 22:39:30 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Subject: Re: the Mabul
> On Wed, Feb 01, 2006 at 11:31:02PM -0500, T613K@aol.com wrote:
>: R' Simcha Coffer wrote:
>:> I happen to be speaking to RJO and he mentioned that the law of
>:> gravity would make 7:19...
>: But as has been mentioned, parts of Eretz Yisrael are below sea level,
>: and yet they are not inundated with water...
> And the teiva wasn't big enough to hold all the animals.
> Why are we analyzing a neis for how it could work beteva?
I think there tend to be two conflicting approaches to the mabul, and
part of the problem we having is that there is a confusion of one with
The first is to understand the mabul in extremely miraculous terms.
The fact that it was impossible to fit all of the animals in the teiva
without a neis is brought inter alia by the Ramban (6:19), but the neisim
do not stop there.
After all according to the Sforno (based on various sources), prior to
the mabul there was no such thing as winter and summer, all the days were
of equal length (see 6:13) and "perfect". Post mabul this was destroyed
(see his comments at 6:13, 8:22), meaning that the quality of the food
produced was lessened (which is why people were permitted to eat meat
post flood) and why their lifespan was shortened.
Not only that, but in the seven days prior to the commencement of
the flood, the complete laws of nature were turned on their head, so
that eg the sun rose in the west and set in the east (see inter alia,
And the mayim was not normal water, but something thick like shifchas
zera, and boiling hot (again Sanhedrin 108b).
Once you are discussing nissim of this magnitude, trying to understand
what went on in any kind of historical or scientific way makes no sense.
The whole episode is outside history in any meaningful way - if the
water can be of the nature of boiling hot semen, it also could be of
the nature that it leaves no trace behind it. Epecially as despite this
particular nature, it eg according to the Seforno again (7:23) destroyed
humans and animals but not vegetation (not what one would expect from
boiling hot semen like fluid).
On this view one just has to treat the whole episode as completely
miraculous and outside of history - although I note that you do seem
to need what might be called "follow up" miracles which are presumably
within history, such as what I call the "airlifted animals" miracle.
Take Great Britain for example. I believe pretty much everybody (ie
including secular scientists) agree that Great Britain was not settled by
human beings until relatively late, well after the period we are talking
about. The reason for that being that the channel formed an effective
protection from humankind until their boating skills got relatively
sophisticated. Now, that means that assuming that Great Britain got
fully flooded then after the flood waters went down and the earth started
looking like it does now (whether or not it did before which means that
it was) it was isolated by the channel. That means there was no natural
way for the descendents of the badgers and stoats and deer and foxes and
hedgehogs and adders and rabbits etc etc who were coming off the ark to
get there. So it seems to me you pretty much have to assume an further
neis, some time after the animals all disembarked, and after they had
had time to propagate, whereby they were all airlifted into England.
Similarly for other isolated land masses, like Australia and all its
exotica (although as there are no kangaroos and koalas etc etc in the
rest of the world, that air lifting could have taken place fairly soon
after disembarkment - noting of course that today, with modern aeroplanes,
the flight time is around 15-20 hours in the air to get from the area we
are talking about to Australia). Similarly of course for various other
isolated land masses like Madegascar, and somewhat similarly for the
Americas - because while there is arguably a bridge to the Americas, it is
pretty close to the pole, and bederech hateva most of the animals in the
Americas could not make it across those kind of distances in that kind of
cold. So we need some sort of follow on miracle to sort these animals out.
On the other hand, the other approach is to try and minimise the number
of miracles involved (based on an understanding that part of the glory of
Hashem's creation is that everything was pretty much set from breishis,
and that even miracles needed to be created as part of Breishis, hence
the reference in Pirkei Avos 5:8 that ten things were created b'erev
shabbas bein hashmashos such as the mon, the rainbow, Bilaam's donkey's
mouth etc) - and therefore it is appropriate to understand the mabul
as something that was part and parcel of laws of nature as we know them
(noting that the mabul itself, as opposed to the rainbow, was not listed
in that list of miracles in Pirkei Avos). The idea being that we should
be keeping miracles for those limited places where we are specifically
told there was a miracle performed.
But following that approach means you end up with concepts like a local
flood (in which case you don't need all the animals in the world on
the ark, so there is not necessarily a space problem). And there is no
great problem with the various psukim quoted as being problematic if
you understand them in the vein of hatorah dibra b'lashon bnei adam.
That is, when the Torah refers to the earth, what it means is what
was sometimes referred to historically as "the known world" ie the
world known to mankind at the given time. (there are some wonderful
maps from the thirteenth or fourteenth century that show the world,
but show sea where the continent of Australia is, because they had no
idea it existed - of course that is why the Dutch sailors at that time
kept getting shipwrecked off its coast, because they were bumping into
a land map that according to them did not exist).
On that basis "all the mountains under the heavens" means all the
mountains known to mankind at the time (which given mankind's geographical
spread, did not eg include any English or Scottish mountains), "all
the animals" meant all of the animals known at that time to the dor
hamabul, which probably did not include elephants much less kangaroos.
This still makes this flood unique in human history, because no other
flood dealt with all of the known world. This locating the text in the
context of human knowledge at the time also fits with the concept that
comes through very clearly from the Torah (as further detailed in the
meforshim) that the mabul was a punishment for the actions of mankind.
The talmud even askes (see Sanhedrin 108a) if mankind sinned, what
did the animals do? One answer that is given is that the animals were
also corrupted, but again that would seem to be as a result of human
corruption, and if there were no humans, why would they have become
corrupted? And the other answer (the one given by the talmud there) is
that it is analogous to somebody who made a wedding feast for his son
then his son died, since he then had no use for the feast, the person
thought nothing of destroying it. - But that only really seems to make
sense for those animals that actually served mankind in the dor hamabul.
Those animals, such as eg in England, who were never going to be of use
to the mankind constituting the dor hamabul but only to much much later
generations don't seem to fit so easily with that analogy, so the extra
effort involved in their destruction does not appears necessarily to
make much sense. The idea therefore being that they can legitimately be
(and were) ignored as not being important on the world stage at that time.
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Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 17:59:12 -0500
From: Micha Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul
On Tue, Jan 31, 2006 at 09:47:29PM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
: I agree with most of what RMB has stated thus far but I disagree with the
: above. Ovadia would have found precisely the same "set of writings" but
: would have interpreted it differently than one influenced by scientism. I
: mention scientism because, as RMB points out, the Torah cannot contradict
: the imperatives of the beriah. It is merely our lack of understanding
: that causes apparent contradictions to surface.
That's a totally different position than the one I was advocating.
I'm saying that according to the understanding of nissim of the Maharal
and REED, different people experience different realities. The person
who sees justice as more real than gravity, will actually experience a
universe in which moral law holds sway at the expense of physical law.
This person will experience nissim, whereas other people would live in
a reality where nature holds sway.
So, I was not distinguishing between the religious vs the scientific
interpretations of reality. (Given the number of Orthodox scientists,
I don't know how one can assert the two are necessarily at odds anyway.)
I was talking about the different realities between someone who lives
on the plane of neis vs the rest of us.
I was suggesting that we don't dig up evidence of nissim for the same
reason we don't experience nissim. That doesn't mean nissim didn't happen
for people who did (and will) live on that plane.
Once you believe that empirical reality needn't be consistent, it's
impossible even in theory to show a contradiction between the empiricist's
results and the Torah. One reflects the teva experience of reality,
the other, the neis.
Later in that post, RSC writes:
: I made the same argument but RDE called me on it. One of the things that
: were created bein hashimashos was the rainbow. Thus, it would seem that
: Chazal understood the phenomenon of the rainbow as being outside of the
: parameters of normal physical laws.
Another is writing. Do you go beyond the parameters of normal physical
laws every time you put pen to paper? I thought some items were natural,
but could not exist without a jumpt start, like the yeish omerim adding
the first set of pliers to the list.
Also, it says "haqeshes", a particular rainbow, not rainbows in
general. (Like "pi habe'eir, pi ha'ason".) So even if the list did
mean only miraculous things, "the rainbow" is a particular rainbow,
presumably Noach's not a statement about all rainbows.
Micha Berger When a king dies, his power ends,
firstname.lastname@example.org but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
Fax: (270) 514-1507 - Soren Kierkegaard
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Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 23:08:50 -0000
From: "Chana Luntz" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re The Mabul
> But the Ramban himself, who is the one who says that the
> teiva's ability to hold all the creatures must have been a
> neis, does otherwise analyze other factors of the account al
> pi teva. For example, regarding the recently discussed issue
> of how deep the ark was in the waters,
I don't see that discussion as fundamentally being one of teva, but of
interpretation of the psukim and various other midrashim which he
prefers over those brought by Rashi (ie he rejects the explicit
calculation brought by Breshis Rabba and Rashi on the basis of of more
simple readings of the psukim).
and the natural flow
> of the floodwaters from the rest of the world into Eretz
Earlier you wrote:
> Regarding the Mabul, the Rishonim find Chazal's statement about the
> unique situation in Eretz Yisroel to be at odds with the peshat. They're
> reconciliations include saying that the Chazal mean that there was
> no water there, but the toxic vapors from the Mabul nevertheless
> destroyed all life there; or that although EY was not rained upon,
> it was nevertheless flooded by the waters coming from the rest of the
> world. (Ramban on 6:11-- "But the waters spread out throughout the world
> ["b'chol ha'olom"] and covered all the high mountains that were under all
> the heavens, as is written explicitly [k'mo sheh-kasuv mefurash (7:19)],
> and there was no barrier surrounding EY to prevent the waters from
> entering." (This addresses RCL's last observation in her post regarding
> the liklihood of EY being flooded "in a truly global flood." I.e.,
> according to the Ramban, it was.)
Can you be more explicit where this is in the Ramban? My version of
the Ramban does not appear to have him commenting on 6:11 (he goes from
6:10 to 6:12) And while he does comment on 7:19 I can't see where he
refers to Eretz Yisroel at all there. The only place at the moment I
can spot an indirect reference to Eretz Yisroel is in 6:4 where he gives
one possible explanation of the Ibn Ezra's being that he (the Ibn Ezra)
accepts the view of Rebbi that Og escaped from the flood to which the
Ibn Eztra will add that others too escaped with him - hence the plural
nephalim (not that this is an explanation that the Ramban accepts).
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Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 13:00:44 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Shiras HaYam
I previously posted about the Shiras HaYam being recited at the Yam Suf
in responsive form. I wrote that I thought I saw this stated by Philo,
but it turned out to be (lehavdil!) a Mechilta and Gemora. I now found
my Philo source and, wouldn't you know it, he says something quite
different. I'm posting it not, of course, as an authoritative source
of what happened at the Yam Suf, but as an interesting insight into how
Jews who did not follow our Tannaim during Tannaitic times behaved and
what their perceptions were -- particularly regarding how Shiras HaYam
was conducted at the Yam Suf. (However, I am not qualified to vouch for
the translation of the original Greek.)
From: Three Jewish Philosophers(Atheneum, NY 1969), Selections from Philo
edited by Hans Lewy, an excerpt from Philo's "On the Contemplative Life,"
wherein he describes the life of the Therapeutae, a Jewish sect of monks
and nuns (but not to be confused with the Essenes) living in the area
of Alexandria, Egypt.
"Twice every day they day....The interval between early morning and
evening ... they read the Holy Scriptures and seek wisdom from their
ancestral philosophy by taking it as an allegory, since they think
that the words of the literal text are symbols of something whose
hidden nature is revealed by studying the underlying meaning ...
"This common sanctuary in which they meet every seventh day is a
double enclosure, one portion set apart for the use of the men,
the other for the women. ... The wall between the two chambers
rises up from the ground three of four cubits, built in the form
of breastwork. This arrangenment serves two purposes: the modesty
becoming to the female sex is preserved, while the women sitting
within earshot can easily follow what is said since there is nothing
to obstruct the voice of the speaker.
"The feast [of the eve of Shavuos] is shared by women also, most of
them aged virgins, who have kept their chastity ... of their own free
will in their ardent desire for wisdom....[T]he men sit by themselves
on the right, and the women by themselves on the left....They do not
have slaves to wait upon them as they consider that the ownership
of servants is entirely against nature. For nature has borne all
men to be free. ... No wine is brought...[nor] meat. ...
"[T]he President of the company ... discusses some question in the
Holy Scriptures. ... The exposition of the sacred scriptures treats
the inner meaning conveyed in allegory. For to these people the
whole law book seems to resemble a living creature, with the literal
ordinances for its body, and for its soul the invisible mind laid
up in its wording.... Then the President rises and sings a hymn. ...
"After the supper they ... rise up all together and form themselves
into two choirs, one of men and one of women... "Then when each
choir has separately done its own part in the feast ... they mix and
both together become a single choir, a copy of the choir set up of
old beside the Red Sea in honour of the wonders there wrought.
"For at the command of G-d the sea became a source of salvation
to one party and of perdition to the other....This wonderful sight
and experience, an act transcending word and thought and hope, so
filled with ecstasy both men and women that forming a single choir
they sang hymns of thanksgiving to G-d their Saviour, the men led by
the prophet Moses and the women by the prophetess Miriam. It is on
this model above all that the choir of the Therapeutae of either sex,
note in response to note and voice to voice, the treble of the women
blending with the bass of the men, create an harmonious concert,
music in the truest sense."
This of course touches upon the issue of kol ishah and the "hetterim"
of songs of kedusha and mixed voices. Earlier, it also described
separate seating and a "mechitzah" during the "drasha."
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Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2006 01:01:40 +1100
From: "SBA" <email@example.com>
Subject: Torah Temimah
One of the recurring 'taanos' heard against he mechaber of the TT seems
to be that many of his pshatim and chiddushim are actually not his own,
but taken from other seforim.
[I understand that there are in fact a few seforim around which list
the names of the original sources.]
However, I think it is quite unfair to RB Epstein, as he clearly states
in the hakdomo to the Breshis volume, that he put together the TT over
a period of 15 years and the possibility of including unknowingly what
he thought was his own chiddush, after actually having seen it a while
ago elsewhere is quite possible.
[Additionally the man was obviously a huge TC and could have
come up with many of the same ideas that others had.
It happens all the time.]
This week I think I found a shtikel rayeh proving the first point.
I have often heard the TT being criticised for his novel pshat re the
Makka of Choshech, where he suggests that what actually happened was
not a darkness as we understand but rather that the Mitzrim had some
growth etc over their eyes which blocked out their vision. [Ayen in
the TT his reasons, which, WADR, I don't think are really that strong.]
This week while looking into his other sefer al haTorah, Tosefes Brocho,
I noticed that there too he offers the same pshat - but without any
reference to the fact that he had already said this in the TT.
The TB rarely repeats the TT and when it does, he says so. Obviously RBE
simply forgot that he had already been mechadesh this idea, the first
BTW, just tonight at a simcha we were discussing these issues and
one TC said that the Kesav Vehakabala also writes a similar pshat.
[I haven't checked.]
Another TC recalled the Likutei Chover Ben Chaim writes that his rebbe
the CS dismissed the idea of some 'mischadshim'
that the Choshech meant that the Mitzrim were stricken with blindness.
The LCBC also brings a nice pshat from the CS explaining it all.
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Date: Sun, 05 Feb 2006 19:57:28
From: "Dr. Josh Backon" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Enzymes in Honey & Cheese
Do we follow the NODA B'YEHUDA (Yoreh Deah Siman 26) who reads the
Rambam (Maachalot Assurot 14:10) as following Rabbi Meir in the gemara
in Avoda Zara 67b [re: the stomach lining of a nevela] and thus, only
the rennet derived from a kosher animal is permitted for making gelatin]
? Or do we follow the Rema YD 87:10; Pri Chadash 103:2; Pitchei Tshuva
87:21 who follows the Shach YD 114:21 and the ROSH on Avoda Zara 2:34,
who say that even from a nevela [a kosher animal that was not slaughtered,
or a nonkosher animal] there is no Toraitic prohibition if the stomach
lining was completely dried out like dust ? Since the Mechaber follows
the Ri MiGash that davar ha'maamid is mi'derabban, we can be lenient.
Even though there is an issur d'rabbanan of eating food that is unfit
for human consumption (see: Minchat Cohen Hilchot Taarovot Chelek Aleph
9; Pri Toar 103; Shaagat Aryeh 75; Pri Megadim Shaar Ha'taarovot 5:6)
this is not the case if the material was in a mixture (YD 103) [zeh
v'zeh gorem, muttar].
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Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 23:46:15 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Ikkar Ha Din an Chezkas Kashrus
On 2/5/06, Yitzchok Levine <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I have been told that on some of these tapes
> he definitely says that restaurants need a Mashgiach Temidi. Yotzei
> V'Nichnas is not enough, even though the owner is an observant Jew.
> Now, if in today's world Chezkas Ha Kashrus is, according to Ikkar Ha Din,
> "reliable enough," then why does the OU require restaurants owned by
> observant Jews to have a Mashgiach Temidi? Why isn't the OU satisfied with
> Yotzei V'Nichnas?
I believe that you are conflating two separate issues. Until now, we
have been discussing whether a kashrus agency headed by a talmid chacham
yirei shamayim has a chezkas kashrus. I contend that it does, even if
there are a number of kashrus agencies involved in the supervision of
the ingredients of a single product.
Now, you ask whether a store owner has a chezkas kashrus, given the
fact that he is frum. That is a different issue, given the fact that
the store owner may have a pecuniary interest in cutting corners.
The answer to this question was provided by none other than yourself,
on January 19 on Areivim:
<<In the 19th Century there was once a fellow who was a shochet. He was
known to be reliable. There was no question as to his reliability, and
everyone ate from his shechetah. The shochet decided to open a butcher
shop. He claimed that he did not need hashgocho on his butcher shop,
since he was known as a reliable shochet.
The shaila was brought to the Chasam Sofer who paskened that he did
need supervision on his butcher shop. The reasoning was that when it
came to shechitah, it did matter if the animal was kosher or not. The
shochet got paid for shechting, regardless of whether the animal was
kosher or treif. However, when it comes to the butcher shop, there is
money involved. In short, the owner is nogeah b'davar. Thus the Chasam
Sofer paskened that the shochet needs hashgocho on his butcher shop.
It would seem that given this, and I do not know the exact source, that
every person who has a business that sells food requires supervision,
no matter how observant the owner may be.
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Date: Sun, 05 Feb 2006 17:11:59 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Ikkar Ha Din an Chezkas Kashrus
At 04:46 PM 02/05/2006, Moshe Feldman wrote:
>Now, you ask whether a store owner has a chezkas kashrus, given the
>fact that he is frum. That is a different issue, given the fact that
>the store owner may have a pecuniary interest in cutting corners. The
>answer to this question was provided by none other than yourself, on
>January 19 on Areivim:
I agree that this is a different issue entirely. It has nothing to do
with your position regarding what constitutes the validity of a kashrus
agency. Apparently I did not make this clear, and I apologize for this.
My most recent issue was the question regarding whether concepts like
Ikkar HaDin and Chezkas Kashrus have changed, given the realities of
Even though the Chasam Sofer required that the shochet have supervision
on his butcher shop, I do not believe that it had to be a mashgiach
temidi. If he required a mashgiach temidi on the butcher shop, then I can
only wonder how some kashrus agencies give supervision to restaurants and
catering establishments that are owned by observant Jews without requiring
a mashgiach temidi. There are quite a number of such establishments
The point of the question was, given that the OU apparently requires a
mashgiach temidi in all of its restaurants (even those owned by observant
Jews), does this mean that we can no longer rely on Yotzei V'Nichnas
when it comes to restaurants (at least) even though this is enough ma
Ikkar Ha Din.
As an aside, I am impressed that you were able to so readily quote from
a post of mine that I made on 1/19. :-) I doubt that I could have found
it without considerable searching, if at all.
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Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 10:22:37 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Subject: RE: Kashrut reliable enough
>This whole conversation mystifies me. Does no one remember that
>there is a Meseches Demai (currently being studied as the Daf
>Yomi Yerushalmi)? Ne'emanus is not automatic by any stretch of the
>imagination. It is a privilege that is earned (Chaveirus) not an automatic
The issue of demai and chaverus is actually ra'ya listor (and I think that
RSZA and Rav Moshe were acquainted with it..) In demai, hazal established
that there was a safek - and something who was not a haver did not have
that ne'emanut. However, even in that case, it was realized that meikkar
hadin it was kasher - and therefore acceptable to eat under a variety
of circumstances. The issue of haver was also important for the issue
of those who ate hulin betahara - but not for general kashrut.
Indeed, this notion of a "haver" was never generalized to generalized
kashrut - and was not the halacha in the shulchan aruch or halacha
lema'ase in Eastern Europe (The essen tag of the yeshivot was not limied
[Email #2. -mi]
> However, not all information is freely available. Some of it is only shared
> with insiders, some issues can only be imagined by those with practical
> experience in institutional or industrial kashrut. Jochanan "Sixpack" Cohen
> doesn't necessarily know what kind of information to look for. I myself was
> very surprised at the low level of training of mashgi'him in some kashrut
> organizations. In addition, the pressure institutions put on their mashgi'him
> can be enormous.
let me give a practical example of why we rely on hazaka.
Let me start that I know of Rav Folger only through the internet -
and respect him as he seems by his postings to be yere shamayim and
talmid chacham. I can probably verify those two aspects further by
finding people who knew him in yeshiva.
I don't have any opportunity to go to Basil in the near future. If
I did, I, (and I suspect most people on areivim), would be happy to
accept his hospitality and rely on what he tells us about the diffferent
places/products he gives hashgacha to - although asking perhaps about
whether he follows some of our personal shittot/chumrot (whether we view
that shitta as a humra or not varies) -
Now, why can I rely on that? I don't know anyhting about the actual
hashgacha he gives, outside of what he tells me. Given the size and
location of Basil, I doubt that other institutions, eg, the OU, have
sent mashgichim out there to verify and check the actual hashgacha.
It is possible that all the other problems that he describes also occur in
Basil, and there may be financial issues as well Why can I rely? because
of a hazaka that since rav Folger is yere shamayim he can be relied upon,
and if he tells me it's ok, I can eat it. (lest it be misunderstood,
I am not suggesting any problems in Basil)
NOw,that hazaka does apply more broadly - not just to rav Folger -
even though there are times when it is breached. Of course, rav Folger
is in a position to know that those problems he describes don't apply
in Basil, but my sole source of knowledge is my reliance on rav Folger
That is the basis of relying on a hashgacha given by a talmid chacham -
unless there is evidence to the contrary....
[Email #3 -mi]
>The point of the question was, given that the OU apparently requires
>a mashgiach temidi in all of its restaurants (even those owned by
>observant Jews), does this mean that we can no longer rely on Yotzei
>V'Nichnas when it comes to restaurants (at least) even though this is
>enough ma Ikkar Ha Din.
The fact that major kashrut agencies now require certain level of
supervision, while it is clearly evidence that they think requiring such
supervision is halachically justifiable, it is not evidence that such
supervision is halchically necessary - as given the politics and economics
of kashrut, there is an incentive to demand more than what is necessary.
There was an article in techumin in the last several years which was
stronger, arguing (IIRC) that many hechsherim, by giving hechsherim
on articles that don't need it or only need it according to a minority
opinion that is not normally followed, and don't tell the public that
the hashgacha is only necessary for those who follow that shitta,
violate hilchot gezel...
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