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Volume 16 : Number 141

Monday, February 27 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 22:25:19 +0200
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Kashrus reliable enough

On 2/26/06, Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu> wrote:
> I must say that this confuses me. He is "muchzak b'kashrus," if he eats
> kosher. According to whose standards?

> How can we know if he eats kosher unless we set up standards to judge this.
> And who is to determine what these standards are to be? Is each person to be
> investigated?  If yes, then by whom?

Ah, but I didn't write "know if he eats kosher." I wrote: "makes sure to
eat kosher." I.e., this is not a measurement of his kashrus standards
but a measurement of his subjective desire to subject himself to kashrus

To be clearer about this, let me quote the Aruch Hashulchan (ibid)
in toto: "Muchzak b'kashrus does not mean that he is a yirei elokim or
chasid or tzaddik, but rather anyone who puts on tallis and tefillin
and davens three times a day and washes his hands for food and leads his
household [towards] Torah, such a person is called 'muchzak b'kashrus.'
It may very be that such a person is suspected of violating certain
issurim which *he* considers to be light; nevertheless, with respect to
all other issues he is considered a muchzak b'kashrus."

Now, a person who is muchzak b'kashrus to make the effort to buy items
which are considered kosher "in the general frum world" may not be
undertaking certain chumros. If you are dealing with such a person,
presumably you would rely upon him to fulfill the ikkar ha'din but would
not rely upon him to be makpid on those chumros.

As I've said in prior posts, I believe (and have cited proofs) that one
should eat at the home of one who fulfills ikkar ha'din if not eating
there would in any way slight that individual.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 17:16:52 -0500
From: "Prof. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Kashrus reliable enough

>Now, a person who is muchzak b'kashrus to make the effort to buy items
>which are considered kosher "in the general frum world" may not be
>undertaking certain chumros.

At the risk of belaboring a point, I must again ask you what is meant
by "considered kosher 'in the frum world'"? I doubt that you could
get 10 people to even agree on the definition of the word "frum."
Indeed, if I recall correctly, there were many on this list who said
it had to do with externalities. I find the word Ehrlich more to my
liking. In today's environment "frum" is really a "pareve" term with no
"punch to it." In some circles if a person does not wear an "up hat,"
he is not considered frum. In others, if his wife wears a "pony-tail"
sheitel the family is not considered frum. In some circles people who
go mixed swimming are considered "frum." In others they are not.

The point is that without a precise definition, I personally find these
terms meaningless. (I will grant you that Ehrlich also suffers from
not having a precise, clear definition.) But this *must* be the case,
because people are individuals, and one cannot categorized individuals
into neat categories. This is the beauty of human nature.

I think that many people decide to eat or not to eat in a person's home
based on "gut feelings." Sadly, we had the infamous Kosher Spot incident
here in Flatbush some time ago. The person who ran this establishment
had all of the "right" signs. I personally would have vouched for his
reliability when it came to kashrus based on my years of dealing with
him. Nonetheless, he was caught selling non-glatt (according to some
perhaps even non-kosher) meat as being glatt. Some rabbonim went so far as
to say that those who used this meat should kasher their kitchens. Others
said that there was no need for this.

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 17:25:33 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Kashrus reliable enough

>Now, a person who is muchzak b'kashrus to make the effort to buy items
>which are considered kosher "in the general frum world" may not be
>undertaking certain chumros.

I just read some of the discussion on Areivim about a person dancing with
his wife in public. Do those who do this qualify as being "frum?" (I am
not judging, just asking.) I am certain that you will get very different
answers to this question, depending upon whom you ask.

My point again is that the terminology "frum" is really meaningless.
This then renders "in the general frum world" also meaningless.

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 15:38:25 -0500
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkar Ha Din an Chezkas Kashrus

Moshe Feldman wrote:
> 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.

This is circular reasoning - how did he become respectable in the
first place?

>> 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.

> I fail to see the nafka mina. Essentially, he is a TC in certain areas 
> and in others not. That there are such people is certainly no chiddush.
> A yirei shamayim for these purposes is someone who knowingly would not
> be machshil anybody.

That is not a good working definition. Conservative and Reform Rabbis
would not knowingly be machshil Orthodox Jews either.


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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 14:10:39 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Meal Mart Update - Zebu

The following is from <http://yudelstake.blogspot.com/>, the blog of
Rabbi Yehudah Shain of Lakewood, NJ. To put it mildly, Rabbi Shain is
"well-known" for his stands on various aspects of kashrus.

    THE "ZEBU"

    ALLE Meal Mart Co. starting this week will not be using the Zebu. Up
    until now some of the South American may have had some Zebu meat.

    All of the American USA Beef was not of the
    Zebu type. TO SEE THE ZEBU, click on link.

    The ZEBU has that distinct hump.

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 21:27:38 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Kibbud Av v'Em --Prof. Blidstein

RMF quoted a point made by  Prof. Blidstein in a lecture
> - Lots of the stories in the gemara are about Roman parents
> and children. The Romans were known for their honor of their parents
> (cf. story of Eisav and Yitzchak), and the Rabbis said that we could
> learn from the Romans in this regard.

The essentail point made here is well taken, but I was surprised
at the parethetical remark. It is well known that Edom, descendent
of Esav, is identified in rabbinic thought with Rome, but to connect
Esav's personal treatment of Yitzchak with Roman practice seems quite
a stretch to me. Does anyone know of an explicit rabbinic source which
makes this connection?

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 22:32:44 +0200
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Kibbud Av v'Em --Prof. Blidstein

On 2/26/06, saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il> wrote:
> The essentail point made here is well taken, but I was surprised
> at the parethetical remark. It is well known that Edom, descendent
> of Esav, is identified in rabbinic thought with Rome, but to connect
> Esav's personal treatment of Yitzchak with Roman practice seems quite
> a stretch to me. Does anyone know of an explicit rabbinic source which
> makes this connection?

Rav Mordechai Breuer has spoken about his view that midrash is not the
rabbis' view of what happened historically (which is pshat, not midrash),
but the rabbis' attempt to convey a moral message to their listeners.
In the case at hand, the rabbis elaborated upon the Yitzchak-Eisav story
and embellished the kibbud av v'em involved. As their listeners identified
Edom with the Romans, it is clear that the rabbis were praising the Romans
for their fulfillment of the filial obligations. And the rabbinic view
that the Romans were to be emulated for this is evident from the fact
that so many of the kibbud av v'em stories in the gemara are about Romans.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2006 19:46:09 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: creation & Allegory

On February 26, 2006 David Guttman wrote:
> I know that as a new reader I am jumping in at the end of a long
> discussion, I was just struck by the debate of whether Rambam agrees with
> R.Yehuda ben R.Shimon and R.Abahu. The above quote of Rambam defining
> the question has to be tied with his own answer to the question which
> is different than the two Rabbis (Tana and Amora?). It appears a little
> further on page 350 (Pines)- Ii is according to this opinion which is
> indubitably correct, that the doubt that impelled Rabbi Judah the son
> of Rabbi Shimon to say what he said may be resolved.It was difficult
> for him to understand whereby the first day..

> Clearly (at least as I read it) Rambam offered an alternate answer to
> his question .

Not necessarily. In fact, I'm convinced otherwise. It is exceptionally
tenuous to conclude that the Rambam understood several Tanaim and Amoraim
(R' Eliezer haGadol, R' Abahu and R' Yehuda b'r Simon - spelled samech yud
mem vav end-nun as opposed to Pines who apparently rendered it shin mem ayin
vav end-nun) to be upholding the doctrine of kadmus. As I posted before,
please see Kapach's footnote #21 on page 233. As Rambam says, "G-d forbid
that any religious person should believe this..." He could not have been
including several members of Chazal in the aforementioned characterization.
He was merely playing devil's advocate. See also 2:26 wherein it is clear
that the Rambam was being machniya himself to R' Eliezer as opposed to
rejecting his memra.

Simcha Coffer 

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Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 03:26:12 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Creation & allegory

S & R Coffer wrote:
> On February 20, 2006, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:

>> 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 

> Actually I don't. But for now, I would like to focus on the Abarbanel. I
> will leave the Shem Tov for another post (hopefully RZL or RJO will
> jump in). Although I accept that you may have been misled by some of
> the Abarbanel's verbiage in his kushyos, his maskana is unequivocal.

Let me clarify my original statement. "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 relational." I meant to convey
by the term allegory that day did not mean what it usually means i.e.,
time -- but that it indicated a categorization of the physical creation
into different levels.

The concern expressed in your quotes of Shem Tov and the Abarbanel
are not indications of a reevaluation of their understanding. They are
simply asserting that the Rambam did not mean to say that Creation was
not literally ex nihilo.

At this point. We both agree that both Shem Tov and Abarbanel have clearly
stated that Day is not time but Relationship. Our disagreement comes down
to whether either of them changed their mind on this matter. I simply
find it astonishing that such a devoted talmid chacham as yourself could
read the Abarbanel and Shem Tov in the selective manner of some academic
scholars... Let me provide a translation of question 9 in Bereishis

1) Abarbanel(Bereishis): "The 9th question concerns that which is
mentioned in the Moreh Nevuchim. Rambam notes that time can not exist
without the movement of the celestial spheres and the the sun and moon.
However this raises the question as how there could be time before the
fourth day when the celestial spheres and sun were created? The Rambam
answered this question by asserting that in fact the spheres and the sun
were created on the first day. Thus time existed for the first 3 days in
the same manner as it existed on the subsequent days. He explained that
in fact everything -- both the Heavens and the Earth -- were created on
the first day. The Rambam cited Chazal that the word ES indicated that
the creation on the first day included everything associated with the
Heavens as well as everything associated with the Earth. He also cited
the gemora(Chulin 60a) that everything that was created was created in
its final form. He also cited another statement of Chazal that the Heavens
and Earth were created simultaneously. Thus the Rambam believed that the
work of Creation happened all on one day and was not divided amongst six
days. He claimed that in a single moment of creation everything came into
existence. He explained that the reason for the Torah stating that there
were six days of Creation was to indicate the different levels of created
beings according to their natural hierarchy. Thus the Rambam does not
understand the word day to be a temporal day and he doesn't read Bereishis
to be describing the chronological sequence of creation..... This is
the view of the Rambam which he considered as one of the major secrets
of the Creation. In fact he tried hard to conceal this view as can be
seen in his words in Moreh Nevuchim (2:30). In spite of his efforts the
Ralbag, Navorni and the other commentators to Moreh Nevuchim uncovered
his secret and made it known to the whole world.... However, despite
the Rambam's greatness in Torah and the apparent support from Chazal,
this view of the Rambam is demonstratably false...."

There is nothing that is misleading or unclear in this statement. There
is no rhetorical flourish. There is no need to wait for the teretz
to understand what he meant. There is nothing that contradicts this
understanding in any of his writings.

Shem Tov says something very similar in explaining Moreh Nevuchim 2:30):

2) Shem Tov(Moreh Nevuchim 2:30): "Just as G-d is an absolute unity, His
actions are also unified and from His organization came out the sequence
of Creation. At the start -- time was created simultaneously with the rest
of Creation. It is incorrect to say that Creation began at the start of
time.Consequently creation consisted of entities that were separate and
distinct and prioritized -- which is not a reflection of G-d Who is an
absolute unity.Their prioritization is the result of their nature as to
what their purpose and causal relationship is in combining and interacting
with other things. Therefore it only in describing their level in reality
that we say Day One, Day Two -- but not that they were created in this
sequence. Thus the Rambam's explanation rejects the literal meaning of the
Torah verses. He asserts that everything was created simultaneously. It
is only as a reflection as to their purpose and importance does the
Torah say first second and third and the rest of the days. "

3) There is a similar statement found in the Akeidas Yitzchok Shaar #3
of Bereishis.): "The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim gives the reason for
Torah saying that there were days in the Beginning by citing the gemora
in Chullin(60a). There it states that the products of Creation were all
created complete. In other words all of creations was created at the
first instant of creation in their final perfect form. Thus he says that
the Creation description is not describing the chronological sequence
of events but the days are simply serving to indicate distinctions in
their levels and to inform of of the hierarchy of Nature. This was a
major esoteric doctrine of the Rambam concerning Creation as those who
are understanding can discern from Moreh Nevuchim 2:30) which is devoted
to this issue. However the Ralbag publicized it in detail and expounded
it thoroughly..."

4) Ralbag says in Book Six of Milchemes HaShem Section II Chapter VIII
[Prof Seymour Feldman's translation] You already know from the preceding
that the generation of the universe by God occurred in no time, since [its
generation] was from nothing to something. Thus, our Rabbis maintain that
the heavens and' the earth were created simultaneously. As it is said
in the Chapter [called] "One Does Not Interpret": "Both were created
as one. For it is said, 'Yea, Mine hand hath laid the foundation of
the earth, and My right. hand hath spread out the heavens; When I call
unto them they stand up together. "'2 It is therefore evident that
the description of creation as being completed in six days is not to
be construed as [implying] that the first day preceded the second,
for example, by one [whole] day [i.e., twenty four hours]. Rather,
they said, this is in order to show the priority amongst various created
things. For example, the movers of the heavenly bodies are causally and
by nature prior to the heavenly bodies, whereas the latter are causally
and by nature prior to the elements and to that which is generated from
them. Now, the elements are prior to that which is generated from them
according material priority3, and the compounds of the elements are also
[related] to each other by this kind of priority.For example the plant is
prior to the animal; and similarly the imperfect animal is prior to the
perfect animal. In the same way, an aquatic animal is prior to a flying
animal, and the latter is prior to a walking [i.e., terrestrial] animal
while the latter is prior to the rational [animal, i.e., man].4 For an
aquatic animal produces an imperfect egg, whereas the bird produces a
perfect egg; the walking animal, however, produces a living animal in
its own body. For this reason Aristotle says in The Book, of Animals
that the bird is more perfect than the aquatic animal and the walking
animal more perfect than the bird.5 And there is no doubt that man is
the most perfect animal amongst the walking animals.

5) In addition the Radak says the same thing.

You are saying - "Ignore the above because I can find isolated statements
which if the context is ignored can be understood as rejection of the
above. I already pointed this out concerning your translation of Shem Tov
- and you are repeating the error with the Abarbanel. They are both saying
that the Rambam's pshat of days is relational and not temporal. They are
saying that Creation actually happened according to the Rambam. In order
for your reading to be verified you need to find a simple statement in
any of these commentators that says - "I erred in my understanding of
the Rambam." There is no such statement! Your misreading is especially
egregious in the case of Shem Tov. You are insisting that in the very
section where he is asserting that Day is relational he rejected it in
the next paragraph without admitting that he was changing his mind!?

>  See
> page 86 second column 14 lines down as follows (my translation):

> "Behold you see that the opinion of the Rav (Rambam) was not that all of
> MB was an allegory, rather, only a small part of it (he means Bereishis
> 2), and that all which is mentioned [in the Torah] regarding the activity
> of the six days, from the creation of the heavens and the earth, and
> all of the phenomena, and the creation of Adam and his wife, up until
> [the passage of] "v'yichulu", have no allegory whatsoever for everything
> (i.e. all of the verses in Bereishis 1) was [understood as] literal to
> him [the Rambam], and therefore you will see that in this very chapter,
> #30 in the second section, in all which the Rav has explicated regarding
> the activity of the six days, he did not make [of MB] an allegory or a
> hint at all; rahter, he did the exact opposite, for he made a concerted
> effort to support the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and accepted all
> of the verses [of Bereishis 1] literally..."

> I think you will agree that the Abarbanel's view of the Rambam seems
> indubitable.

I agree that the Abarbanel is very clear -- it is not a contradiction
to what he said in the questions 5 & 9. He is just emphasizing that
the Rambam really believed in Creation ex nihilo. There is no way the
sources you cited indicate that the Abarbanel changed his understanding
of the Rambam.

The bottom line of the above sources clearly indicates that the
Rambam was widely understood to mean that the story of Creation did
not take place in 6 historical days. This has major consequences on our
understanding of the age of the universe. As well as the issue of change
and development. Even the Alschich seems to hint that the description
of Creation as not describing exact chronology..

6) Alschich (Bereishis 1:1): [Rabbi Munk's translation] [[Bereshit Rabbah
1 comments on the repeated use of the word ES, i.e. Es HaShamayim. The
first ES is supposed to include the solar system, whereas the second ES
is a reference to all the vegetation on earth. This sounds perplexing,
seeing that vegetation is specifically reported as having been created
on the third day, and the galaxies are reported as having been created
on the fourth day; so how could they have been included by the words
ES at the very beginning? The answer is that the author of the Midrash
did not want foolish people to think that what we know as a time-frame
was indispensable for the development of the physical universe from its
inception to its completion. We must not be allowed to think that G'd
required six days to accomplish' what He did. This is one reason why G'd
did not say in the Ten Commandments that He created the universe in six
days The words used are "six days," as distinct from in six days, etc.
20,11) The idea conveyed in that verse is that G'd created these six
day simultaneously with creating heaven and earth. The Midrash goes on
to tell us that the word ES in that verse is to alert us to the fact
that heaven already contained all the elements for the galaxies, etc.,
and that "earth" already contained beneath the surface all the elements
of vegetation, etc. These elements became revealed only at a later stage
during the creative process.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 21:17:12 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re Mabul

RMB writes
>: RMB writes:
>:> Actually, it looks like RSRH folded in the airlifting of animals with
>:> the haflagah. That part of creating new languages is the creation of
>:> new environs, new experiences, and therefore differing perceptions of
>:> the world.

>: I am no RSRH expert, bu I am rather surprised to hear you say this.

>I reached this conclusion reading his commentary on Ber' 11:1-9. I invite
>you and Avodah's readership at large to check for themselves and comment
>if they think I'm streching it.

I don't have a copy, but I went on shabbas and had a look in my local
shul library at the English translation they have of his commentary,
and I confess I don't seem to see what you see.

My reading of what RSRH was saying is that prior to the haflagah,
language was fundamentally objective in nature, rather than subjective
and hence people could always communicate - because objective reality
remains the same. After the haflagah language was changed into something
dependent on the subjective perspective of the individual. That meant
that, as people spread out over the earth the differences (that already
existed) in climate and environs meant that their inability to communicate
became complete.

To try and give an example (not one that RSRH gives) but one that is a
bit more simple than the kind he gives. If you go and live in the north
pole, you will come to regard anything above freezing as "warm", that is
a subjective judgement that will make it difficult to communicate with
somebody who grows up in the African desert and who regards anything below
10 degrees Celsius as "cold". An objective language would mean that both
parties would talk in terms of say, 5 degrees Celsius and understand they
were each talking about the same thing. It is not that different from
the old saying that the eskimos have umpteen different words for snow -
once language is subjective, then the climatic reality will shape the
nature of the language.

I don't see anywhere where he seems to suggest that there was any change
in the physical reality of the time, except for the fact that people
were then scattered out over all the earth (something documented in the
Torah, at 11:9). I also don't see where or why there is any connection
to animals in RSRH's thinking (I didn't see RSRH as reading the "them"
in that pasuk as being wider than the people whose language had been
confused). In fact as translated RSRH's reading seems less miraculous
than it might be - he did not seem to be suggesting that the scattering
of the people throughout the earth was miraculous, something one might
possibly have inferred from what appears to be the active intervention
of Hashem in this posuk, in contrast to the various scatterings that
occurred a little earlier (eg 10:18).

Chana Luntz

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Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 01:53:55 +1100
From: Joe Slater <areivim@slatermold.com>
the Mabul

Simcha Coffer wrote:
> I haven't done enough research on mabul
> evidence but the Christians have. I'm not recommending you visit their
> sites but I know of no Jewish site that has invested as much effort as
> they have in this field. It's too bad. We should be leaders in this field,
> not them.

If this sort of stuff is to be learned from Christians it is ipso-facto
not Torah. There are lots of other reasons why the subject is not worthy
of attention (1), but the fact that it is promoted for religious purposes
by a foreign religion is enough to conclusively demonstrate that it has
no place in our theology.


(1) Among these are that it's nonsense, gibberish, flapdoodle, balderdash
and poppycock. <http://thesaurus.reference.com/roget/IV/497.html>

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