Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 136

Monday, February 20 2006

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 19:57:27 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Valentine's day

 From a recent Mail-Jewish post from R' M Broyde. There is no URL
available as yet, if anyone wants the entire post, please email me .

Joel Rich (who grew up in a Roman-Catholic neighborhood where in PS-100
it was still called St. Valentine's Day)


I think it is the conduct of the pious to avoid explictly celebrating
Valentine's day with a Valentine's day card, although bringing home
chocolate, flowers or even jewerly to one's beloved is always a nice
idea all year around, including on February 14.

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 01:04:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@panix.com>
Re: Kashrus reliable enough

 From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
> In between (in si'ifim bet and gimmel) is his reasoning - which again
> includes extensive citations, but which boils down to this. It is a
> situation of safek safeka - because firstly *maybe* in fact the animal
> that he is eating was in fact glatt (ie it had no sirchot at all)
> (because it is not as though they will reject those animals, just that
> they will accept some which are not glatt). And secondly *maybe* the
> halacha is like the makilim who say the halacha is that a certain level
> of sirchot are kosher (ie the Rema). And on a safek safeka one can rely
> probably l'chatchila and certainly in these kinds of circumstances.

I found the above very interesting for the following reason. For many
years the US had no reliable non Glatt meat, so most people that were
makpid on Kashrut began keeping Glatt because that there were no fully
reliable non Glatt.

In the last few years there has been a reliable non Glatt around. That
brand is from the largest Glatt producer in the US. (it is marketed under
a different name and under a different hashagacha.) These are apparently
those that are rejected as Glatt, but do qualify as plain kosher.

These do not have the sfeik sfeika that is referred to above. Would Rav
Yosef allow that beideived or not?

Harry J. Weiss

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 16:28:01 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe@internationaltax.us>
Re: Ikkar Ha Din an Chezkas Kashrus

I wrote:
> We are talking about a rav ha'machshir who is a talmid chacham and yirei
> shamayim (but is known to require only ikkar ha'din, not chumros on
> hashgachos given by his kashrus organization). Would such a person not
> qualify as a chaver in the time of the mishnah? I note that the Rambam

RYGB wrote:
> 1. How do we know he is a TC? I know several respected rabbis who are
> Amei Ha'aretz in regard to Eruvin.

If someone is the rav in charge of all kashrus of a respectable kashrus
organization, we can assume that he is a TC with respect to kashrus.

In my experience, when a kashrus is disparaged, it is not because of
a belief that the rav hamachshir is not a TC but because he is overly
meikil, or because he makes too many mistakes.

> 2. How are you measuring Yiras Shomayim?

A yirei shamayim for these purposes is someone who knowingly would not
be machshil anybody.

Kol tuv,

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 09:25:08 +0200
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
zebu and turkey

Akiva Blum wrote:
> Slifkin misunderstood the tshuva of the Netziv. The Netziv was not mattir
> based simply on the fact that many people are doing it, and it would be
> wrong to say all those people did avairos. The problem with turkey is
> a lack of mesora, so he suggests that since many people are eating it,
> they must have started based on a mesorah that we now are not familiar
> with but did really exist.

I thank Blum for his interest in my essay. But I do not see where the
Netziv says that one assumes that there was a mesorah. After discussing
why he believes a certain bird not to be permissible to eat, he writes
as follows:

"However all this is if it approaches us from the outset. But after they
are already conducting themselves to eat them, and presumably then too
it was due to the ruling of a scholar to whom it appeared that it was
a type of kosher duck, and they grasped hold of this (huchzaku bazeh)
such that it was permissible, we are not to prohibit it and to raise
murmurs against our ancestors that they ate a non-kosher bird, heaven
forbid." He continues to discuss the tarnegolta d'agma of Tosafos, and
states that people ate it even without a mesorah since it appeared to be
kosher, and nobody protested until it was shown unequivocably otherwise.

Natan Slifkin

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 09:01:15 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Zebu and Turkey

At 08:13 PM 02/19/2006, you wrote:
>The zebu issue began
>in the 50's and the CI claimed that there are no Jews eating it with a
>mesorah. Eating it for 50 years will not help us invent new facts which
>we know did not exist.

I was told that the Yemenite Jews have been eating this for at least a
thousand years. I have not seen the actual writings of the CI regarding
this issue. Am I to presume that he claimed "there are no *Ashkensic*
Jews eating it with a mesorah?" Or, is it possible that he was unaware
of the practice of Yemenite Jewry?

Yitzchok Levine 

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 08:32:50 -0500
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
RE: Tal Umotor

We follow the tekufa of Shmuel which basically corresponds to the Julian
calender. Therefore even though the rest of the world shifted to the
Gregorian claendar the calculations for tal umotor didn't. This is why
in chu"l it starts on Dec. 5th.

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 04:03:44 -0600
From: "Aish.com" <newsletterserver@aish.com>
What's Bothering Rashi - Mishpatim

An interesting take on the difference in approach between Rashi and
the Ramban.


Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24)

What's Bothering Rashi:  Mishpatim 5766
by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek 

*	*	*

After the Ten Commandments in parshat Yitro, the Torah gives us parshat
Mishpatim, which deals with many laws. Most, though not all, are civil
laws between man and man. Some are truly revolutionary, like the law to
give released slaves a special 'Retirement Package.' Below we read of
medical compensation for someone injured in a brawl.

"If he gets up and about outside on his staff, the one who struck is
absolved." (Exodus 21:19)

"On his staff" - RASHI: "In his [former] healthy state and vigor."

Rashi takes the words 'upon his staff' in a figurative sense. What would
you ask here?

Your Question:


The Torah says "he went outside on his staff." Why not take these words
literally? Remember the rule, "The Torah verse never abandons its plain
meaning." We also know that Rashi generally prefers the "plain meaning"
(see his comment to Genesis 3:8) so why does he abandon it here?

What's bothering Rashi?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The previous verse tells us that if man hits another man,
but does not kill him, yet the injury causes him to be bedridden, then
(our verse says) "if he rises and goes outside on his staff" the villain
is free from punishment for murder.

But Rashi implicitly asks: Why is he free? Seeing that the injured man
is still showing signs of his injury (he needs a staff to get around),
he still might have a relapse and die. Why, then, is the aggressor free
from punishment?

How does Rashi's comment deal with this difficulty?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi's interpretation (his healthy state and strength) avoids
this difficulty. It says that only if the injury is completely healed
("he goes about on his own strength") is the aggressor free.

We must keep in mind that the aggressor is being held as a possible
murderer (see the next Rashi-comment "And the one who struck will be

Note that our verse says that in any case the aggressor must pay for the
victim's medical expenses and loss of wages. So the only charge that is in
doubt is the charge of murder. How can we absolve him of such a serious
charge if the injured man still has not recovered completely? Thus Rashi
(and the midrash Mechilta) says he is no longer crippled; he walks around
on his own, unassisted, strength.

But how can Rashi turn the words of the Torah on their head? "On his
staff" seems to mean weak, needing assistance, yet Rashi says "strong."

Your Answer:

An Answer: The Hebrew word "mishenet" means "a support"; but here the
word is "mishanto," "his support." Rashi takes the word "his" to mean
his own, internal, support and not an external support, which in the
final analysis is not really "his." The Ibn Ezra makes the same point
by saying that the Torah used the word "mishenet" to tell us the man is
not dependent on others for getting around.


The Ramban quotes Rashi and then goes on to say:

"In my opinion mishanto is to be understood literally [a staff] just as in
the verse 'every man with mishanto [his staff] in his hand in his old age'
(Zechariah 8:4). Scripture is thus stating that if the injured person's
health improves sufficiently to enable him to go out walking as he wishes
in the streets and in the broad ways with his staff like those healed
with some prolonged disabling injury, 'then he that smote him shall be
free.' It also teaches us that if the injured man is careless [later]
about his health and dies after that, in his weakness, the assailant
is free from the death penalty. Scripture says 'and he walks outside'
because it speaks of the ordinary way of life, for injured men who
were laid up in bed do not go out walking again until their wounds have
healed and they are out of danger, this being the sense of the phrase
'and he walks outside,' because if he just gets up and walks in his
house on his staff and then dies, the assailant is not free."

The Ramban continues:

"In the words of the Mechilta 'If he rises up and walks' I might think
this means within the house, Scripture therefore says, 'outside.' But
from the word 'outside' I might think that even if he was wasting away
[the aggressor would be free]; Scripture therefore says 'if he rises up.'

This explanation [the Ramban continues] too is very correct, that
Scripture should be saying that if the injured man gets up completely
from his bed and goes steadily outside without having to go back to his
bed when returning from outside, as those do that are wasting away, even
though he is weak and has to lean on his staff, the assailant shall be
left off. In general all this is to be interpreted as being figurative
language expressing people's usual conduct. The basic rule is that he
must have been assessed as being capable of recovery."


By his final statement it would seem the Ramban does agree with Rashi,
that the term "mishanto" is not to be taken literally. Yet this would
contradict what he said at the outset of this commentary, i.e. that the
word should be taken literally!

In one word, how are the words "walking on his staff" seen by:

The Ramban?

Your Answer:

Answer: Ramban: as an example.
Rashi: as a metaphor.

The Ramban is saying that if, in fact, the injured man recovered
sufficiently to walk outside on his cane, then the assailant could no
longer be held accountable for any future setbacks. This is an example,
says the Ramban, of the kind of a reasonable, normal-type recovery, and
therefore the assailant is free of any further responsibility. Walking
around outside is but a common example of healthy recovery from an injury.

So it is both an example and a general rule. The rule, as the Ramban
clearly says is: That he must be assessed as being capable of recovery.

Rashi, on the other hand, says that "walking outside on his support" is
but a metaphor of a complete recovery. But in fact, if the man was still
using a cane, even if he walked outside, he could not be considered
completely recovered. If he had a relapse, according to Rashi, the
assailant would be responsible. There is a clear difference in Halacha
between Rashi and the Ramban.


This dispute is a fortunate opportunity to examine the different
approaches to Torah interpretation by these two great expositors.

To better understand Rashi, let us see his source. It is in the Mechilta.

It says: "If he rises up and walks outside upon his support," that means
restored to his health. This is one of three expressions in the Torah
which Rav Yishmael interpreted figuratively..."


Rashi follows Rav Yishmael that this verse is to be taken figuratively. We
can deduce from Rav Yishmael's statement that all other verses in the
Torah (besides the three he mentions) are not to be taken figuratively,
rather in their "simple meaning," p'shat. We know that Rashi is committed
to p'shat interpretation, but this is qualified by the Sages' view of
p'shat. This is an important point to understand if we are to fully
appreciate Rashi's approach to p'shat interpretation. For Rashi, p'shat
is not independent of the Sage's view. P'shat, in Rashi's approach, is
tempered by midrashim which can fit into the words of the Torah. As Rashi
said in Breishis, (Genesis 3:8) he is interested in "p'shuto shel mikra
and the aggados that explain the words of the Scripture in a manner that
fits in with them ." In short, Simple Sense, p'shat, interpretation also
includes under its umbrella the interpretations of the Sages, as long as
the Torah text can accommodate them. In our verse an authoritative Sage,
Rav Yishmael, says that the verse is to be taken figuratively and Rashi
does so.

This view of p'shat is not universally accepted among the Rishonim. For
example, the Rashbam, Rashi's own grandson, argues with Rashi over the
p'shat interpretation of various verses. Many Rishonim understand p'shat
as we might, vis-a-vis what makes most sense in the context of the verse.

The Ramban views Torah interpretation similarly to these Rishonim and
differently from Rashi. He will often argue with Rashi regarding the
interpretation of a verse and the argument frequently revolves around
what is considered p'shat. In our verse the Ramban, while fully aware
of Rav Yishamel's opinion, offers a different view. While Rav Yishmael
takes the words "walking on his support" as a metaphor, the Ramban sees
the literal interpretation as closer to p'shat and does not hesitate
to say so. For him p'shat and Rabbinic interpretation are two separate
realms, they need not be combined nor confused. Rashi seems to combine
midrash and p'shat and molds from them his own type of p'shat. He does
this out of conscious consideration of the Sages' view. Rashi's only
qualification for using midrash as p'shat is that the midrashic meaning
must fit into the words of the Torah.

Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek


To purchase Dr. Bonchek's series of books called "What's Bothering Rashi"
go to www.feldheim.com

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study
of Rashi." The Institute is in the process of preparing a new volume. If
you would like to sponsor a volume or part of one, please contact us.

For reprints and redistribution, please give proper attribution:
Article from http://www.aish.com, the website of Aish HaTorah. 

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 10:55:33 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Creation & allegory

As I stated in my original post I am merely stating that the Abarbanel
and Shem Tov understood the Moreh Nevuchim 2:30 to mean that the Rambam
did not hold that the six days of creation were historical but were
allegorical. If you accept this view - that would mean according to
the Rambam's insistence that time was part of creation - all those
who hold that everything was created ex nihilo on the first day -
would also understand the subsequent days to be allegorical.

My posting concerned whether or not is the correct understanding of how
the Abarbanel and Shem Tov understood the Ramam in this matter. I have
absolutely no problem with someone rejecting the view of the Abarbanel
and Shem Tov - but that is not relevant to my post. The sole issue is
whether these two (three if you include R' Moshe Narboni) understood
the Rambam as treating the description of days as not being historical
but relational.. It is obvious from your postings that you accept that
the citations I provided of both Shem Tov and the Abarbanel can be
understood as saying that the Rambam is asserting that term day in MB is
allegorical. The issue remains as to whether the additional citations
that you and R' Lampel cited of Shem Tov and Abarbanel mean that they
either changed their mind or didn't mean what they said.

S & R Coffer wrote:
> On February 14, 2006, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>> What I am getting at is that if one read Shem Tov's explanation
>> without preconceived ideas as to what the right answer can be - it is
>> more reasonable to understand that he is asserting that the Rambam is
>> rejecting the temporal nature of the six days of creation. 

> Just for the sake of argument (RZL already pointed out to you that Shem
> Tov states openly that MB is to be taken kimashmao - pg 61 5th wide
> line which, lichora, should be the deciding factor)

I don't see that Shem Tov's statement concerning the creation of Adam
and Eve indicates a change or modification of what he stated previously.
Shem Tov is merely paraphrasing what he understands the Rambam is saying
to express more clearly the Rambam's views. Your error is plucking the
expression of "kimashmao" out of context. and insisting that Shem Tov
changed his mind or didn't mean what he clearly stated earlier.

The Rambam in this section states [according to S Pines ] "Know
that those things that I shall mention to you from the dicta of the
sages are sayings that are of the utmost perfection; their allegorical
interpretation was clear to those to whom they were addressed, and they
are unambiguous. Hence I will not go too far in interpreting them, and
I will not set forth their meaning at length. For I will not be one who
divulges a secret." However it will suffice for someone like you if I
mention them in a certain order and by means of slight indications. One
of their dicta is their saying that Adam and Eve were created together,
having their backs joined... Understand in what way it has been explained
that they were two in a certain respect and that they were also one....How
great is the ignorance of him who does not understand that all this is
necessary with a view to certain notion. This then has become clear."

Shem Tov paraphrases the above, "This that it is stated that they were
created together having their backs joined - the remez of this - even
though Maaseh Bereishis in entirely as literally stated - there is an
allusion that they were joined together ... as if Adam were one and also
that he was a muliplicity...."

Shem Tov has just finished saying that according to the Rambam the days
of Creation are not describing historical days but are to be understood
as descrbing relationship. In other words this is what he believes
is the Rambam's peshat.[literaly meaning] of the term days. Now he is
saying that while the peshat of the Torah's account of MB - including
that the term day is relational - is correct there are also remazim.
That man who was created single was also double.

>> This in fact led the Rambam to specifically reject
>> the understanding of Chazal is this chapter.

> Take a look in Kapach's edition page 233 footnote #21. A close reading
> of the Rambam yields the real pshat. He wasn't rejecting Chazal. He
> was rejecting the apparent implication of their words. He (Rambam)
> himself did not believe that they meant this. Kapach's interpretation
> is actually supported by the Rambam himself who states, regarding R'
> Eliezer, "would that I understood what this sage holds...(2:26).

Actually what R' Kapach says is "It is not conceivable that chazal would
mean what they seem to be saying - just as the words of R' Eliezar are
not to be taken literally. Because G-d forbid that a Jew should believe in
the eternity of the Universe as indicated by the literal reading of their
words. Even if you stubbornly insist that they meant what they said - one
should not pay attention to the authority of the one who says it. Truth
is not determined by authority but by the validity of what is said."

S Pines translates the passage "Consider what was the difficulty for these
two Sages. It was the notion that time existed prior to the existence of
this sun. The solution of what seemed obscure to both of them will soon
become clear to you; unless - by G-d! - those two meant to say that the
order of time necessarily exists eternally a parte ante. That, however
is the belief in the eternity a parte ante of the world, and all who
adhere to the Law should reject it. This passage is to my mind only the
counterpart of the passage in which R' Eliezer ways, Wherefrom were the
heavens created? To sum up: you should not, in considering these points,
take into account the statements made by this or that one.

Friedlander translates the passage, "Consider the difficulty which
these two Rabbis found in the statement that time existed before the
creation of the sun. We shall undoubtedly soon remove this difficulty,
unless these two Rabbis intended to infer from the Scriptural text that
the divisions of time must have existed before the Creation, and thus
adopted the theory of the Eternity of the Universe. But every religious
man rejects this. The above saying is, in my opinion, certainly of the
same character as that of R. Eliezer," Whence were the heavens created,"
etc., (chap.xxvi.). In short, in these questions, do not take notice of
the utterances of any person."

> I would like to clarify something. RDE is obviously influenced by the
> Abarbanel's shita that Chazal could not have meant to claim that yeish
> mayayin did not occur on every day. Thus, he sees the Rambam, Rashi and the
> Ramban to be understanding MB allegorically, at least to the extent that
> there was no creation on days 2-6. My response to this is that the Rambam et
> al is not forced to accept the Ababanel's problems as real issues. 

As I have repeated stated - I am not asserting my views on these
matters. I am merely citing what Shem Tov and the Abarbanel are clearly
stating. The fact that you disagree with them is irrelevant to this
point. Furthermore you haven't presented convincing evidence that the
Rambam et al would reject the understanding of Shem Tov and the Abarbanel.

Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 23:10:42 +0200
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
reading in the bathroom

what kind of materials can be read in the bathroom?
Ramah says he studies Jewish philosophy while Maharshal studied
dikduk. This seems to imply that one can read any Jewish topic like
Jewish history except for explicit Torah items. Since philosophy and
others involve Jewish thought I was not clear on the difference

Eli Turkel

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >