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Volume 16 : Number 137

Tuesday, February 21 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 21:06:41 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
RE: Shiras HaYam

From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> Thu, 16 Feb 2006:

On February 14, 2006 Zvi Lampel wrote: 
>> Here's a mehalech. Tefila is chal on items that can be changed such 
>> as banei chayey u'mizonee. Tefila is not chal, and is inappropriate, 
>> as regards to things that are unchangeable. One does not pray that the 
>> sun should rise the next day. One gives shvach v'hoda'ah for the sun, 
>> not tefila. 

>> Now, Chazal say that the splitting of the yam suf was one of the tinaaim 
>> of Maaseh Bereishis (vayashav haYam liEisano...litna'o haRishon). That is, 
>> Hashem decreed during the creative process of MB that the yam suf would 
>> split when it "saw" klal yisrael trapped in the desert.... 

> But "Mah tita'ak ay-lai" sounds like a criticism. This would only seem 
> appropriate if Moshe Rabbeynu was already aware of this "programming." Was 
> he? 

Either he was or he wasn't. What's the difference? If he was, the
criticism is obvious. If he wasn't then perhaps the criticism is that
he should have been....

ZL:Why, and how, should he have been aware of how Hashem programmed the world?

...Alternatively, Hashem was communicating a fundamental principle to
Moshe in the form of a criticism. He didn't really mean to criticise
him. I can perceive several benefits of communicating in this fashion.

Somewhat better, but in any of your possibilties let me introduce another
problem that still remains: Hashem's criticism of Moshe Rabbeynu's praying
seems a non-sequitor; one would have expected the prior posuk to say
that Moshe Rabbeynu started to pray, but it doesn't. (Some answer that
the fact he prayed is to be inferred from the criticism; others answer
that he is naturally among the "B'nay Yisroel" who, we are told several
pesukim before [14:10], cried out to Hashem. But either peshat does not
flow smoothly with the pesukim, IMHaughtyO.) This seems particularly
hard to take al pi peshat, since the words immediately before Hashem's
criticism for praying says Moshe Rabbeynu told b'nay Yisroel "Hashem
will save you, v'atem tacharishun," "and you should be silent!" He just
told them to be silent, and then Hashem tells him to stop praying?!

A less weird peshat than I already suggested ("What?! Cry out to
Me!") would be based on the principle stated by Rashi in Parshas VaYera
(Bereishis 18:3) s.v. Vayomer, second peyrush: that it is standard
procedure for pesukim to report someone's statement /after/ an event
even if he actually made that statement /before/ the event. With this
in mind, I suggest that the posuk "mah tits'ak aylie..." is giving the
/background/ to Moshe Rabbeynu's saying they should travel through the
sea. I.e., the real chronology of events was that after Moshe Rabbeynu,
along with Klall Yisroel, cried out to Hashem, Hashem said "Mah tits'ak
aylie?!" (with your explanation). "Tell the BY to travel towards and into
the sea, and you raise your staff to split it." Then Moshe said to BY,
"Hashem is going to save you! You can now stop praying!" And the Ohr
HaCHaim's peshat can now fit in as well, that the salvation depended
upon their doing the teshuva of demonstrating their bitachon baShem.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 23:25:14 -0000
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Zebu and mesorah

RKB writes
> 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.

This is I think the third time in the last couple of weeks I have come
across the use of the term mesorah in a way that I just don't understand.

Let's take the classic case of mesorah and loss thereof.

Everybody knows that certain grasshoppers/locusts are kosher.

The Yemenites retain a mesorah as to which ones, and how to identify them,
the rest of us don't.

This is not surprising, as the Yemenites remained living in places where
these creatures were frequent, and eating them was a frequent necessity
(as they often ate up all the other crops) so not surprisingly they
passed the tradition as to what could and could not be eaten carefully
from father to son and Rav to talmid.

In deepest darkest Lithuania there were no locusts, and so no particular
incentive to eat any, so not surprisingly it was not a key bit of
information that had to be passed on, so the loss of this bit of
information is not so surprising.

But let's take the case given above of a turkey. Nobody since matan
torah can have seen a turkey, except as part of some sort of nevuah -
up until the first Jews ran into them on landing in the Americas.

So what could the mesorah have been? The visionary discription of what
this bird will look like when we finally come across it? The prophesy
that Jews will eventually land in America and find a kosher bird there?

And this piece of nevuah, really, was transmitted from father to son
all the way from matan torah over several thousand years to all of the
people who started eating the turkey in America, without anything being
written down in any of the talmud, rishonim or achronim to give a hint
to the matter. And then a couple of hundred years after they began
eating based on this tradition, but again without anything at all being
written down about it justifying it, this prophetic tradition disappeared
without a trace, so that the most learned members of the generation
(eg the Netziv), who were still in Lithuania as they had been without
much disruption since the turkey eating tradition had taken root, had
to surmise such a mesorah without any other reference.

Does that not strike you as a very odd use of the term mesorah?

Some of the other uses are not so clearly as surprising, but if you
think about them they are if anything more unsettling. The idea for
example that being from a generation of 20 rabbis today gives one a
mesorah that thereby gives the authority to contradict what would seem
to be the pshat of the Torah not to mention shas, rishonim and achronim,
and on the basis of which one is permitted to amend rishonim to suit
agree with one's position seems something of a risky one, and rather a
dangerous concept to let loose.

But that seems to be what is being asserted, rather disquieteningly.


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Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 23:22:26 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
reading in the bathroom

R' Eli Turkel:
> 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

IIRC (which is always up for discussion), R' Ya'akov Emden has a teshuva
in which he permits reading Lashon Hakodesh in the bathroom.

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 09:25:15 -0500 (EST)
From: "Shalom Carmy" <carmy@yu.edu>
How much time in the toilet?

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

As far as I recall, Rema says that he studied philosophy at times
when other people rested or took walks. There is no reason to assume
that he spent every free moment, when not studying Torah, in the
bathroom. 16th century toilets were not as comfortable as ours, so
it's unlikely.

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:38:01 -0500
From: "Dubin Avrohom \(Abe\) P" <Abe.Dubin@buckconsultants.com>
RE: Tal uMotor

From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
> 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.

If I understand your post correctly, your point is (or must) be that
following the Tkufa of Shmuel means that the Tkufos do NOT necessarily
fall on the solstices and equinoxes. Do you have a source for that and
how then would you explain the concept of Tkufa according to Shmuel?


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Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 23:31:36 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Calling A Spade A Spade: Rambam and Kollel

On Tuesday, February 14, 2006, I wrote regarding the Rambam's writing
that his brother, before he was shipwrecked, had with him "mammon li
v'lo u'l'acheirim," that this meant he had money destined for the Rambam;
and this was not an indication that the Rambam's brother carried with him
"my money" that he invested in the business. I wrote:
>"Li" means "to me" 
> or "for me." "Lo" means "to him" or "for him." "Li" and "Lo" do not mean 
> "mine" and "his," neither in lashon chachamim nor in lashon mikreh. When 
> joined with a verb of being, as in "lo yihyu" and "li hu," it means 
> "it will be to him," and "it is to me," which is the equivalent of "it 
> will be his" and "it is mine." But "mammon li" means "money for me," 
> not "my money." 

> ...I challenge anyone to find either in biblical or rabbinic Hebrew, or 
> in any of Rambam's writings (or in any Hebrew writings by rishonim or 
> acharonim, for that matter), the usage of a prepositional possessive 
> joined to a noun -- -- to mean "mine" or "his." 

I failed to frame my challenge fully. I meant that "something li" cannot
mean "my thing" where there is no expressed or implied verb of being
between the noun and the indirect preposition (such as in "u-b'yado
mammon rav li," "and in his hand was much money for me" -- where there
is no verb expressed or understood between the words "mammon" and "li"),

as opposed to where there is, as in the posuk cited by RDR, "Li Gil'ad
v'li Menashe" -- To me IS Gil'ad and to me IS Menashe" or Lavan's "The
sheep ARE to me," cited by RMS.

In such cases of an expressed or understood verb of being, "li" ultimately
indicates "mine," only after still maintaining the literal translation of
"li" as "to me." "Something /IS/ TO ME" ultimately means: that thing is
"mine." As opposed to where there is no such verb, as for example in
the phrase, "ee kushya le, kushya lach," "if it is a kushya TO ME, it is
a kushya TO YOU." One wouldn't translate that as, "If it is MY kushya,
it is YOUR kushya." Nor would one equate "Give it to me" to "Give mine."

Similarly, in Hilchos Berachos 11:14, the Rambam writes, "One who did a
mitzvah [such as making an eruv or blowing a shofar] /lo u'l'acheirim/
simultaneously...." it means one who did a mitzvah simultaneously for --
on behalf of -- himself, and for -- on behalf of -- others; not "his
mitzvah and others' mitzvah."

Likewise, in Shoftim (11:12): "Mah li VaLach" "What is it to me and to
you" -- not, "What is mine and yours."

Again, in Vayikra Rabbah 34:1, we find:
    Said Rebbi Yonah: It does not say "Ashrei 'nossein' l'dal," --
    "Happy is the one who /gives/ to the poor one," but: "Ashrei 'Maskil'
    el dal, b'yom ra'ah y'ma-le'tey-hu (Tehillim 41) -- "Happy is the one
    who /acts astutely/ with the poor one...." -- Look into him to figure
    out how to get him the money. When Rebbi Yonah would see someone who
    was financially wiped out, yet too embarrassed to take [charity from
    others], he would approach him and say, "Since I have heard that you
    have gained an inheritance from across the sea [and can cover any loss
    you may accrue], take this item. When you make a profit from it, you
    give it to me. And when [after making earnings] he would [attempt to]
    give it back to him, he would tell him, "Mattanah 'L'cha' Nassassive."

Does the last phrase translate, "I gave you /your/ gift"? No. It means,
I gave /to you/ a gift."

Nor can one translate "uveyado mammon rav li," wherein the Rambam speaks
of his monetary loss through his brother's tragedy, "and in his hand was
much of my money." It translates: "and in his hand was much money for me."


R. Arie Folger [afolger@aishdas.org] sent: 2/14/2006:
>The language uveyado mammon rav li sounds like a strange expression, if what 
>he meant was that his brother supported him. ...

My reply:
(Needless to say, the fact that Rambam's brother supported him and thereby
enabled him to freely spend his time in Torah-study is explicit in the
letter under analysis, as well as the fact that the fatal sea accident
terminated that arrangement. This was not under question.

(The issue being discussed was whether "uveyado mammon rav li," indicated
that the support was contingent upon the Rambam supplying capital with
which his brother would transact his business. This claim depends upon
translating "uveyado mammon rav li" as "he had much of my money [that I,
Rambam, provided, which my brother utilized to conduct business]," as
opposed to "he had money [as a result of his successful transactions, sans
any monetary investment on my part] for me [since we had an agreement that
he would provide me income so that I could spend my time in studies].")

RAF (and RMS wrote similarly): 
>...You see, support is something given and received, but generally
>not owed. The words "uveyado mammon rav li" rather imply that he was
>bringing back monies which belonged rightfully to Rambam, even as they
>had not reached him yet.

By saying the words imply he was /bringing back/ monies to the Rambam,
rather than taking along the Rambam's monies, you are agreeing with
me that the phrase was not referring to monies the Rambam provided. We
disagree over whether the terminology "mammon li" indicates that these
monies resulted from an investment on Rambam's part (I say it doesn't),
based upon whether only such an investment would justify Rambam's
stated expectation of receiving it -- what you refer to as the more
selfish-sounding "owed to him" (with which I disagree).

To me it seems that once there was an understanding that Rambam's brother
would provide him a portion of monies earned, it would be perfectly
appropriate for the Rambam to refer to these as monies coming to him. And
I maintain that one cannot cull from the phrase we are focused on whether
these monies rightfully belonged to him only because he invested capital
in his brother's business, or whether they rightfully belonged to him
because his brother agreed to support him in his learning. (Even in
a case where one knows that another is on the way to him with money
intended as a pure gift, I would consider it perfectly appropriate for
the receiver to tell someone "uveyado mammon rav li," "and in his hand
is much money for me.")

This discussion began with the premise that the phraseology in this
letter /proves/ that the money coming to the Rambam, the money to which
the phrase in question is talking about, was contingent upon the Rambam
providing the original capital. I maintained it does not, and the burden
of proof rests upon those who insist that the Rambam refused family
support, and somehow had capital he supplied his brother (gained through
a side, basement-business, perhaps, carried on between sugyas?)

Therefore, I think that it may imply that he was bringing back money some
debtor owed him, or ... the profits from what had been traded.... the
money being brought back wasn't the money that had been invested, but
rather the new money earned....

I agree of course to the second possibility, which was my original
contention: The Rambam's brother, without benefit of the Rambam's capital,
provided the Rambam with a portion of his profits, so that the Rambam
could spend his full time in Torah studies without being encumbered
by business dealings. (And the sea accident would be the cause of his
losing the money that was coming to him -- the "uveyado mammon rav li.")

The first possibility, that Rambam had some debtor residing across the
Indian Sea, seems less plausible to me. I'm not sure if you're suggesting
that lending money was the regular source of the Rambam's income. It would
not seem to be so, because then his brother's misfortune would not have
caused the cessation of his ability to learn without distraction. The
Rambam could have just continued his money-lending activities and not
begin practicing medicine professionally.

And this brings one to the unlikelihood that the support by the Rambam's
brother was contingent upon the Rambam's monetary backing. Remember: the
Rambam mourned not only the loss of money involved in this particular
sojourn, but his henceforward inability to continue studying Torah
without parnassa concerns.

The Rambam did not object to accepting family support for Torah-based
activities, because his objections to Torah scholars accepting communal
support do not apply to it. As opposed to communal support, family
support would not produce "a chillul Hashem in the eyes of the masses
because they would [then] consider a Torah pursuit a job like any job by
which a person earns a living, and it [thereby] will become disparaged
in their eyes." This objection does not apply to a rich brother (or a
rich father or wife) who recognizes the zechus of supporting the related
scholar without financial investment on the latter's part. The Rambam
in Mishneh Torah does not mention the praised Yissachar and Zevulon
(Breishis Rabbah 72:5; 99:9) or Shimon and Azariah (Vayikra Rabbah 25:2;
Sota 21b and Rashi) arrangement, wherein one brother freely (without
accepting monetary investment) supports another in learning--and without
waiting for the learner to gain prominence, for which Hillel's brother,
Shavna, is criticized (Sota 21b and Rashi). However, given these sources
it makes sense to say that Rambam is mechaleik between brothers and
non-relatives. (The last case of Shavna is illustrative of this, for
Rambam on Ahvos cites Hillel as an example of one, who because of the
prohibition, did not gain from "anshei doro." His own brother is not
merely "anshei doro.")

Once we recognize that the Rambam accepted family support but objected
to community support, we can understand why he first felt compelled to
enter a profession only once he could no longer rely on his only brother
to support him. If, as RMS and RAF understand it, that his income had
been based on an arrangement contingent upon his providing capital for
his brother's business, he could have continued "business as usual"
by reestablishing this kind of arrangement with some other businessman,
and sharing profits on the condition of providing capital. But he never
had such an arrangement, and for whatever reason preferred not to begin
one now. Before he could rely on his brother; now he had to provide
for himself.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 10:17:17 +0200
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
zebu and turkey

> 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?

RHS has an article in the recent Mesorah journal that claims that a
mesorah needs to claim to go back to Moshe MiSinai. Anything based on
"recent" Mesorah is only good for that particular community that has
the Mesorah and not for anyone else.
In practice he demands that the Mesorah be verifiable from the days of
Rabbenu Yonah (some 800 years). So if the Yemenite mesorah is really
over 1000 years that would be good enough.

OTOH RHS is one of the few that don't eat Turkey. I am pretty sure that
the OU gives a hechsher on turkey even though RHS is one of their poskim

Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:52:09 +0200
From: "Danny Schoemann" <doniels@gmail.com>
zebu and turkey

I must be missing something in this debate.

Turkey data points:
* We have a "recent" mesora/psak that it's a kosher bird.
* Some people don't eat it.
* It's non-trivial to identify a kosher bird, and it can be
debated that the turkey doesn't pass all the tests. (Wikipedia
<http://tinyurl.com/qvt28> claims that "they are omnivorous, eating
acorns, seeds, berries, roots and insects, sometimes snakes, frogs or
salamanders." From what I was taught, kosher birds are herbivorous.)

Zebu data points:
* Looks, smells, sounds, breeds and tastes like a (hunch-backed) cow
* Passes all the test of being a kosher animal.
* Identifying a kosher animal is trivial: Split-hooves and ensuring
it's not a chazir.

Why is there such an ongoing outcry about the zebu and it's ilk, yet
the turkey issue is ignored? (Or: Why has the zebu been unequivocally
declared non-kosher, yet the the turkey has a "follow your LOR" status?)

Can somebody fill in the missing piece, please?

 - Danny

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 05:21:21 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: Zebu and mesorah

> But let's take the case given above of a turkey. Nobody since matan
> torah can have seen a turkey, except as part of some sort of nevuah -
> up until the first Jews ran into them on landing in the Americas.
> Some of the other uses are not so clearly as surprising, but if you
> think about them they are if anything more unsettling. The idea for
> example that being from a generation of 20 rabbis today gives one a
> mesorah that thereby gives the authority to contradict what would seem
> to be the pshat of the Torah not to mention shas, rishonim and achronim,
> and on the basis of which one is permitted to amend rishonim to suit
> agree with one's position seems something of a risky one, and rather a
> dangerous concept to let loose.
> But that seems to be what is being asserted, rather disquieteningly.

IMHO the simplest explanation (which I've never discussed with anyone)
is based on the following premise (quote from dictionary.com)

"What is the origin of turkey?
Turkey is short for "turkey-cock" or "turkey-hen," originally the name
for the African guinea fowl, and eventually for the Western hemisphere
fowl with which the earlier bird was confused. "

There likely was a mesorah about the African guinea fowl which explains
the original acceptance. The part that's out of my league is do we assume
the Torah uses the same rules for differentiating between species as we
currently do (i.e. are these 2 birds halachically from different species)

Joel Rich

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 00:01:56 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: the Mabul

On February 17, 2006, Micha Berger wrote:
> No, I mean that nissim aren't experienced by someone whose awareness is in
> olam ha'asiyah. The essay is all about teva vs neis and the differences
> in olamos. And in it REED explains why a difference in perspective truly
> puts someone in a different olam.

For some reason you are choosing to focus on certain passages in the
ma'amar and intentionally averting your gaze from others. Rav Dessler
states clearly that there are three levels of nissim. The first is felt
even by plebeian people such as the esser makos and krias yam suf. The
second category is seen by plebes but not felt (chush hamishush) such
as the manna to a non-Jew. The third, like kefitzas haDerech or the
amidas hashemesh is seen only by specific people. But even these nissim
are not seen exclusively by these people because others *cannot* see
them; rather, they are not seen by them because Hashem *doesn't want*
them to see them. Because these plebeian people have not adopted the
perspective (hasaga) of the olam yetzira (i.e. considering spiritual
concepts absolute as opposed to material ones) they are not *zocheh* to
by privy to a neis which is a hishtalshelus of the reality of Yetzirah
into Asiya. The biggest ra'aya that this is true is because Rav Dessler
himself admits that the goy must have seen the amidas hashemesh in the
case of Nakdimon ben Guryon. In fact, he entertains the idea that the
entire Yerushalayim may have been privy to this neis. Surely they were
not ALL living in the olam haYetzira.

Simcha Coffer 

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Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 00:06:17 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Learning Yerushalmi

Translated from my handwritten copy of sefer Mara D'ar'ah D'yisroel,
vol. 1, page 145, in the name of R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld:
    "Tzion b'mishpat ti'padeh" is the same gematria as "Talmud
    Yerushalmi". "V'sha've'ha b'tzedakah" is the same gematria as "Talmud
    Bavli". This teaches you that only through the fulfillment of the
    two Talmuds will Zion be redeemed from the hands of the gentiles -
    and not with army or strength. When they said this gematria in front
    of HRHG Zev of Brisk, he was stirred up, and said, "In Brisk we were
    not from the Chasidim of gematria, but this gematria, I am sure, was
    said with Ruach Hakodesh - and it could be that that is also a reason
    why they called the two Talmuds, Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi."

Just thought I'd share that...

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