Avodah Mailing List

Volume 17 : Number 055

Monday, May 29 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 07:28:34 -0400
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>

Is anyone aware of a katan shenitgayer who renounced the geirut at bar/bat
mitzvah (or when they found out if later)? What is the status of any
deeds they did (is the geirut undone lmafreia)? IIRC according to some
(Rambam?) opinions even an adult ger could have a similar issue if the
original geirut were not "complete" (i.e. bet din watches the individual
after the fact to determine the status of the original kabbalah)

Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 09:42:28 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: geirut

On Mon, May 29, 2006 at 07:28:34AM -0400, Rich, Joel wrote:
: Is anyone aware of a katan shenitgayer who renounced the geirut at bar/bat
: mitzvah (or when they found out if later)? What is the status of any
: deeds they did (is the geirut undone lmafreia)? IIRC according to some
: (Rambam?) opinions even an adult ger could have a similar issue if the
: original geirut were not "complete" (i.e. bet din watches the individual
: after the fact to determine the status of the original kabbalah)

I am not aware of one.

The Tosafos on Kesuvos (11a) that discusses geir qatan speaks of a giyores
who marries a kohein before she turns 12. If she would not accept mitzvos,
then she is a non-Jew lemafrei'ah, and may not eat terumah. But the
gemara holds it's too rare to be chosheish for -- and a girl in that
position MAY eat terumah. Even though the gemara writes that we do not
give her the kesuvah until afterward.

Also, it would be logistically difficult to determine. Geirus is
de'oraisa, and therefore the renounciation would have to be when the
child becomes a gadol de'Oraisa -- 2 sa'aros. One tokh kedei dibur later,
and the geirus is chal and any desire not to keep mitzvos would be a
yehudi shechata.

In practice, batei din in this situation look to see if the child is
shomeir Torah umitzvos throughout the whole period that includes that


Micha Berger             Today is the 46th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        6 weeks and 4 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Netzach sheb'Malchus: How can some forms of
Fax: (270) 514-1507                         "unity" be over domineering?

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 11:21:22 +0300
From: "Danny Schoemann" <doniels@gmail.com>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

> Virtually every shul will wait on the first night of Shavuous to daven
> Maariv after Tza'as HaKochovim.

I once heard a shiur from the late Rav Alter Eliyohu Rubinstein zt"l
(before he became Rav in Antwerp).

He proved that in halocho there is no concept of Temimim regarding hours
in days.

IOW: A bris can take place 7.5 days after birth, as we don't count hours
WRT 8 days.

So too, the "hours" are irrelevant to 49 days (or 7 weeks).

He proved this from all over Shas, and extended it to other units of
time as well, but I no longer recall the details.

This brings me to the interview with Rav Neuwirth (the SSK) printed in
the memorial magazine for Rav Moshe Halberstam zt"l. He was asked about
the fascination of the hareidi world WRT chumros.

He answered that RMH and both their mentors (RSZA) believed that it
simply shows a lack of knowledge. "It's easy to pasken l'chumra - you
have to learn in order to pasken l'kula".

IOW they weren't impressed, and "Koach d'Heteira Odif" still applies.

Where I grew up the second night Shavuous was the "late night" - though
being mid-winter it didn't matter much.

A Gutten Yontif,
 - Danny

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 14:24:25 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
measuring the mean lunar month


It has been asserted several times on list that the sod ha'ibbur is the
mean duration of the lunar month, and that it can only be calculated with
current technology. 'Hazal having such a good estimate of its duration
means they must have gotten it from Tradition.

I had a little talk about this with Professor (Rav?) Eli Merzbach,
former dean of the mathemathics department at Bar Ilan and former
president of the Orthodox scientists' organization in Israel (don't
recall that organization's name). He claims that the great knowledge of
'Hazal is not apparent in their awareness of the mean lunar month, for -
contrary to what has been claimed here - that is quite easy to calculate:
just divide the length of time between two successive eclipses (don't
recall if he meant lunar or solar, probably the former) and divide by
the number of months.

Instead, he suggests that 'Hazal's great wisdom is apparent in their
knowledge of the length of the *solar* year, which is much harder
to measure.

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 15:00:40 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

RYL wrote:
> Anyone interested in going back to the old-time
> religion and having an early minyan this Thursday evening?

Being an old-tradition Ashkenaz kehilloh (we celebrated our 200 years
last year), we still follow the old minhag and daven early. I then give
a shi'ur, and finnish it at such a time so that the people will arrive
at about tzeit at home for kiddush.

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 11:06:12 -0400
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <rygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Tzimtzum KePeshuto

Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> The attached is part of an article published in "Heichal HaBesht" [1:1]
> - a Chabad magazine published in Monsey.. It also addresses the defense
> of Rav Dessler's position by his son in law.
> [See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/tzimtzumKePeshutoHaBesht.pdf>
> -mi]

 From what little I know of the Heichal HaBesht, it is malei v'gadush
inaccuracy, and this essay is no exception. Tzimtzum in the *_*Ohr*_*
Ein Sof (OES) is *_*not*_* what is commonly known as tzimtzum k'peshuto
(TkP). TkP refers to tzimtzum in the _**Atzmus**_ Ein Sof (AES). The
essay from Heichal HaBesht erroneously conflates the two. It is the TkP
in AES that is heretical. (BTW, IIRC, Chabad refers to its Rebbes as
"OES melubash b'guf" - it is the difference between AES and OES that
saves that doctrine from being heretical, as our competitor religion,
l'havdil elef alfei havdalos, is of the belief that their Saviour was
AES melubash b'guf.)

The following website, <http://www.foreveryjew.com/tanya/tzimtzum.html>,
cites my Uncle Immanuel without attribution. In his work "Mystical
Concepts in Chassidism," p. 53 n. 15 and p. 54 n. 18 (I have marked and
inserted these notes in the text below where they appear in the book),
he makes it quite clear that the TkP that is at issue is the one in AES,
and it is to that position that I refer as heretical.


> Jewish - Tzimtzum - creation of the world
> One of the basic theological problems is concerned with the seeming 
> enigma of reconciling Hashem with the universe: how can there be a 
> transition from the Infinite to the finite, from pure Intelligence to 
> matter, from absolute Unity or Oneness to multifariousness? More-over, 
> how do we reconcile the Divine creation or bringing about of the 
> universe and its multifarious parts with the eternal and inviolable 
> absolute perfection of Hashem, of who Scripture affirms "I the 
> Eternal, I have not changed" (Mal. 3:6)? In essence, the concepts and 
> doctrines discussed in this, and the chapters following, all relate to 
> these issues.

> Creation is often explained in terms of a theory of emanationism: by 
> means of a progressive chain of successive emanations from "higher" to 
> "lower" the finite evolved from the Infinite and matter evolved from 
> spirit. But this suggestion as it stands is insufficient. to speak of 
> a causal evolutionary process of successive emanations merely begs the 
> question but does not answer it. For regardless of how long this chain 
> of causal evolutions may be, there always remains some relationship, 
> qualitative as well as quantitative, between the effect and its cause. 
> Just as in a material chain the links are interlocked, connected and 
> interrelated retaining a basic relationship between the first link and 
> the last one - so, too, would it be in a gradual process of causal 
> evolution. Thus, since the beginning of the chain of emanations is 
> Hashem, the Infinite, the aspect of infinity is never really cast off: 
> Had the worlds descended from the light of the Infinite according to a 
> gradual descent from grade to grade by means of cause and effect, this 
> world would not in such a case, have ever been created in its present 
> form - in a finite and limited order - nor, for that matter, even the 
> (spiritual) Olam Habah (World to Come), the supernal Garden of Eden, 
> or the souls themselves. In a gradual evolution and causal process 
> "The effect is encompassed by the cause, in relation to which it is 
> essentially non-existent... Thus, even numerous contractions will not 
> avail to there being matter as dense as earth by way of an evolution 
> from the spirituality of the abstract intelligences, nor even (that 
> most subtle and diaphanous type of "matter") of the angels." Again: 
> "The creation of the worlds is not by way of development from cause to 
> effect... for even myriads upon myriads of occultations and evolutions 
> from grade to grade in a causal process will not avail the development 
> and coming into being of physical matter - not even the matter of the 
> firmaments - out of an evolution from spririt. Rather, it is the power 
> of the blessed En Sof (Infinite), the Omnipotent, to create... ex 
> nihilo, and this is not by way of a developmental order but by way of 
> a "leap".

> Hence, that something non-divine and finite should come about, 
> necessitates there being in the process of emanation a "radical step", 
> a "leap" or "jump" which breaks the gradualism and establishes a 
> radical distinction between cause and effect: a radical act of 
> creation. Only after that has occurred, can we speak of an 
> evolutionary proccess culminating in finite and material entities. And 
> this principle is at the root of the doctrines of tzimtzum and Sefirot 
> introduced by the Kabbalah to solve the problem of creation.

> The word tzimtzum has two meanings: (1) contraction; condensation; and 
> (2) concealment; occultation. Though both these meanings apply in our 
> context, the second one does so, perhaps, more than the first. For the 
> doctrine of tzimtzum refers to a refraction and concealment of the 
> radiating emanation from the G-dhead, in a number of stages and in a 
> progressive development of degrees, until finite and physical 
> substances become possible. This intricate theory is first treated in 
> detail by R. Isaac Luria. The basic works of his system all begin with 
> an exposition of tzimtzum. R. Schneur Zalman partly deals with it in 
> Tanya, more extensively in Sha'ar Hayichud Vehaemunah, and above all 
> in Torah Or and Likutei Torah

> Prior to creation there is but Hashem alone. Hashem as He is in 
> Himself is called En Sof: the Infinite; He that Is Without Limit. Of 
> Hashem as En Sof nothing can be postulated except that He is En Sof: 
> "High above all heights and hidden beyond all concealments, no thought 
> can grasp You at all... You have no known name for You fill all Names 
> and You are the perfection of the all"

> In a mystical way, rather difficult to explain, there is a 
> manifestation or self-revelation of Hashem qua En Sof even before the 
> act of creation. This manifestation is called Or En Sof (the light of 
> En Sof), and we speak of this Light as equally omnipresent and 
> infinite. This distinction between En Sof and Or En sof is extremely 
> important and must be kept in mind. For when speaking of tzimtzum and 
> the Seirot we relate these to the Or En Sof, the light and radiation, 
> rather than to the Luminary and Radiator (Ma-or), the En Sof.

> Now, "when it arose in the Divine Will" to bring about the world and 
> the creatures, the first act in the creative process was to bring 
> about space in which the Divine emanations and, ultimately the 
> evolving, finite world could have a place to exist. This "primordial 
> space" was brought about by a contraction or "withdrawal" and 
> concentration of Divinity into Itself: the omnipresent, infinite Light 
> of the En Sof was "withdrawn" into Himself; that is, it was screened, 
> dimmed, hidden and concealed, and where it was dimmed - where these 
> occultation and concealment of the Light occurred - and "empty" place, 
> a "void" (makom panuy; chalal) evolved into primordial space. This is 
> the act of the first tzimtzum, the radical act of dilug and kefitzah, 
> as it were: an act of Divine Self-Limitation, so to speak, as opposed 
> to revelation. How ever, this does not mean that the chalal is 
> literally empty and void of all Divine radiation, that the Divine 
> Presence is literally and totally with-drawn therefrom. Such 
> interpretation [_**note #15**_ in my uncle's book appears here, and 
> reads: "There have been some interpretations of this kind. Their 
> inherent difficulties are dealt with critically in Shomer Emunim 
> II:34ff., and Tanya II:7."] would suggest an illegitimate ascription 
> of spatiality, and hence corporeality, to the Infinite, and violate 
> the principle of omnipresence affirmed in the most literal sense by 
> Scripture and tradition. The chalal is metaphorically spoken of as a 
> void, in relation to that which is "beyond" or "outside" the chalal: 
> "outside" the chalal there is a full manifestation of the Or En Sof, 
> the Luminary tzimtzum. Tzimtzum relates only to the Light of the En 
> Sof. Moreover, even in the Light per se there is no real change 
> whatever: it is neither reduced nor removed but merely concealed. Even 
> this concealment and occulation is strictly relative: relative to the 
> void and its subsequent contents, without - strictly speaking - 
> affecting the Light itself in any way Moreover, in relation to the 
> void there is not an absolute and total withdrawal: some residue or 
> vestige (reshimu) of the Light remains in the chalal. [_****note 
> #18**_ in my uncle's book appears here. It is very long. The very end 
> of it reads: "But, as already mentioned, there have been other 
> interpretations of tzimtzum that take a more, or altogether literal 
> view of the doctrine (see supra, note 15). For the four types of 
> interpretations that have been suggested at various times, see Respons 
> of R. Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, Bitaon Chabad (Kfar Chabad 1970), 
> no. 31, p. 43."]

> Despite all these qualifications and the metaphorical interpretation 
> of the withdrawal of the Light, this first act of tzimtzum is a 
> radical "leap" (dilug) that creates the possibility for a gradual 
> process and evolution of emanations to take place and to culminate in 
> the creation of finite and corporeal entities. The principal purpose 
> of tzimtzum is to create a chalal in which the Divine creatures would 
> be able to exist and subsist as opposed to becoming dissolved in the 
> Divine Omnicity. The infinite radiation of the Divine Light having 
> been dimmed and concealed, as it were, will now no longer consume and 
> nullify the contents of the chalal in the way, for example, that a 
> spark is totally consumed and nullified in the flame itself, or the 
> way the light of a candle would be totally absorbed and nullified in 
> the very intense light of the sun.

> In the second phase of the creative process an overt ray or radiation 
> of the Divine Light is made to beam into the primeval space of the 
> chalal. This thin ray or "line" (kav) irradiates the chalal and is the 
> source of the subsequent emanations: it is both the creative and the 
> vivifying force of the creation; it is the immanence of Hashem in 
> creation while the concealed Light is the all-encompassing 
> transcendence of Hashem taking in all creation. However, the kav 
> itself also undergoes a series of numerous, successive contractions 
> and concealments. Each of these contractions and concealments makes it 
> possible for a successively lower stage or creation to take place, 
> ultimately culminating in the lowest stage and creation represented by 
> this finite, material and pluralistic world. It is via this kav that 
> the process of successive emanations and causal development takes 
> place. Unlike the first tzimtzum which was by way of dilug ("leap") 
> this development and evolution can be spoken of as gradual and causal.

> To summarize, tzimtzum is "Something in the nature of an ocultation 
> and concealment of the flow of the light and life-force so that only 
> an extremely minute portion of the light and life-force should 
> irradiate and flow forth to the lower beings in a manifest way, as it 
> were, to be vested in them and influence and animate them so that they 
> may receive existence ex nihilo and be in a state of finitude and 
> limitation. "There is, thus, no change whatever in His blessed Self 
> but only for the created entities which receive their life-force... 
> through a process of gradual descent from cause to effect and a 
> downward gradation by means of numerous and various contractions 
> (tzimtzumim) so that the created entities can receive their life and 
> existence from it without losing their entity.
> These tzimtzumim are all in the nature of a "veiling of the 
> Countenance" to obscure and conceal the light and life-force... so 
> that it shall not manifest itself in a greater radiance than the lower 
> worlds are capable of receiving.
> Hence it seems to them as if the light and life-force of the 
> Omnipresent, blessed is He... were something apart from His blessed 
> Self... Yet in regard to the Holy One, blessed is He, there is no 
> tzimtzum, concealment and occultation that would conceal and hide 
> before Him and "the darkness is even as the light" (Psalms 139:12) as 
> it is written "Even the darkness does not obscure from You..." 
> (ibid.). For the tzimtzumim and "garments" are not things distinct 
> from His blessed Self, Heaven forefend, but "like the snail whose 
> garment is part of its very self" (Genesis Rabba 21:5)."


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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 16:34:29 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
re:Avot and Mitzvot

I have a serious question on the subject of Avot and Mitzvot.

It is well known that one of the kushyot on the idea that the Avot
did mitzvot is that Yaakov Avinu married 2 sisters, something which is
forbidden by the Torah.

Also well know is the position of the Ramban, who maintains that the
Avot kept the mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael, not in chuz laaretz. Indeed,
when Yaakov returned to EY, his wife Rachel died.

However, from Parshat Vayishlach it seems that Yaakov lived in EY
(Shchem and environs) for a significant period of time (according to
chazal, 2 years) before Rachel died on the way to Beit Lechem. Thus it
seems that Binyamin was not only born but conceived in EY. How would
the Ramban reconcile his position with this fact?

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 16:40:50 +0200
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: Chumres (was: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous)

> He answered that RMH and both their mentors (RSZA) believed that it
>simply shows a lack of knowledge. "It's easy to pasken l'chumra - you
>have to learn in order to pasken l'kula".
> A Gutten Yontif,
>  - Danny

Rashi says so from time to time. I remember such a remark in the first
perek of Beitze, for instance.


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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 16:43:42 +0200
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

RAF wrote:
> Being an old-tradition Ashkenaz kehilloh (we celebrated our 200 years
> last year), we still follow the old minhag and daven early. I then give
> a shi'ur, and finnish it at such a time so that the people will arrive
> at about tzeit at home for kiddush.

Why delay kiddesh?


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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 11:10:00 -0400
From: "Prof. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

At 09:00 AM 05/29/2006, Arie Folger wrote:
>RYL wrote:
> > Anyone interested in going back to the old-time
> > religion and having an early minyan this Thursday evening?

>Being an old-tradition Ashkenaz kehilloh (we celebrated our 200 years last
>year), we still follow the old minhag and daven early. I then give a shi'ur,
>and finnish it at such a time so that the people will arrive at about tzeit
>at home for kiddush.

It is nice to know that there are still some places that cling to the
practices of their forefathers. :-)

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 12:18:25 -0400
From: "Meir Shinnar" <chidekel@gmail.com>
Re: Doctor's fees

RZL cited a private reply of mine (not quite edited for posting).
let me expand on some of his points

> R. Meir Shinnar:
>> ...I would point out that, as I suspect the poster intended, there
>> are similarities to the pay for rabbanim.

> The doctor is right on the money <g>!

>> However, there are also differences.
>> a) The issue of social necessity - the requirement for doctors -
>> applies just as much ... However, there is no issue for doctors of being
>> mechallel hashem, mevaze hatora, umechabe or hadat -as there is for any
>> paid rabbanut.

> Agreed, the Rambam (for whom these are issues regarding public support of
> rabbanim and students) may not have foreseen the circumstances spurring
> medical professionals to commit the ethical lapses widespread among them
> today (Medicaid fraud, etc). He did not envision government programs
> that would support medical services to those who cannot afford them,
> by taxing its citizens, and then forcing health professionals to rely
> on inefficient and paltry government distribution of those taxes to
> defray the costs. Indeed, the Rambam does not even mention any limit in
> a doctor's fee.

RZL, IMHO, completely misunderstands the nature of the rambam's issur for
rabbanim taking money. While there is an element of concern that purely
unproductive labor will lead to "sofo melastem et habriyot", that is not
at the heart of the rambam's position - it is the concern that the mere
taking of public support is in and of itself a hillul hashem, bizayon
hatora, and kibuy or hadat. It is the equating of studying and teaching
torah to any other profession that is problematic - because then torah
will be judged by the same criteria as any other profession. Torah should
not be used for human purposes, and definitely not to elevate oneself..

To cite a ma'amar from avot drabbi natan, perek 11 - relevant to this (and
to some other discussions, eg, da'as torah - about the appropriateness
of someone requiring kablu da'ati because of his gadlut)
    amar rabbi akiva kol hamagbiah atzmo al divre torah lema hu dome?
    Linevelah mushlechet baderech. Kol over veshav maniach yado al hotmo
    umitrachek mimena...
    rabbi akiva said - anyone who raises himself through divre torah to
    what is he similar? to a corpse in the street, every passeryby puts
    his hand on his nose and distances himself...

RZl points out that problems of hillul hashem can be found in doctors
too. Far be it from me to praise the moral greatness of doctors (I
know them...). However, the problems that he outlines, which are real,
illustrate (IMHO) a completely different issue. It is human nature to
succumb to temptation - and even doctors, who are not poor, and can make
a decent living honestly - can succumb to such temptation. That is not
unique to doctors - and occurs in every area of human endeavors - people
can succumb to temptation (and those with moral backbone can withstand
it...). However, outside of the issue whether the doctor (or other worker
- businessman) is publicly perceived as a member of the torah community,
there is no specific issue of hillul hashem related to his being a doctor.

The real implication is that if one puts torah study into the general
marketplace - they too can succumb - and that becomes a real (and far
greater) hillul hashem (Pell grants, anyone??)

> But the Tur we are discussing does not follow the Rambam's absolutist
> shitta prohibiting public financial support of rabbanim and students. (It
> is first introduced into the Shulchan Aruch by the Remah, and only
> to go on to re-cast it as a chassidus.) The Tur is instead quoting
> the shittas HaRamban (from Toras HaAdam), which does not entertain the
> Rambam's shitta and most likely holds--as did the Rambam's predecessors,
> contemporaries and successors--that the only issue is the more general
> one of accepting payment for performing any mitzvah. So whether regarding
> rabbanus or medicine, the issue in the Tur/Shulchan Aruch is the same.

The fact that the remah, at the least, views this as "chassidus" implies
that the issues for talmud torah are fundamentally different than other
mitzvot. The issue with talmud torah has always been this tension between
perceived need and realization that the rambam reflects a fundamental
problem with the system - something that doesn't exist in other areas.

One sees this in a very simple issue. Even the rambam (and clearly
other poskim) allow paying and taking payment for a melamed who teaches
torah shebikhtav - which is also clearly a mitzvah - and the pay is not
limited to schar batala.

>> b) Rabbanim don't have a general marketplace to compare their
>> services. Doctors do .... - so the marketplace determines them.

> Which makes the high doctor fees even more problematic if, as so many
> posters have suggested, the hetter is "sechar batala." All explanations
> of "sechar batala" I've seen depict it as an ad-hoc fee less than, not
> equal to, the fee a dedicated professional would charge. Whereas there
> may not be any gauge regarding the market value of the work of rabbanim
> and students, there is one for doctors, as RMS is pointing out.

The definition of schar batala is complicated. One definition would
be the minimum wage alternative - but most reject that, and view it as
compensation for that he could have made by doing something else.

What else could a doctor do?
   a) Equal or less training - go to law school
   b)  as a doctor -
      a) work for insurance companies
      b) work for drug/biotech companies
      c) work in a nonJewish environment.

Note furthermore that most doctors today do not work for themselves,
but work for a group and/or institution - and the amount of freedom they
have to set fees is quite limited (determined by the group negotiations
with the insurance companies) - and their ability to reduce fees to an
indiviudal patient would typically violate their legal obligations to
the group.

(I would add that a doctor who charges his Jewish patients less than his
gentile patients is in clear violation of federal law - and as this is
a monetary issue (determination of schar batala) , dina dmalchuta dina..)

> In any event, even if one would posit that there are non-Torah-learning
> counterparts (clergy? academia? researchists? think-tank members?) by
> which to gauge the value of rabbanus and Torah-study, I have the strong
> impression that rabbanim, and certainly kollel yungerleit, are paid
> less than those.

RZL highlights the rambam's problem - the moment torah study is in the
marketplace, it becomes the equivalent of other professions, and we try
to generate equivalencies.

> But is there any difference between the fee charged by
> shomrei-halacha doctors and that of others (who also have the necessary
> intelligence for higher-paying jobs, but choose the one they're doing)?

> Incidentally, note that what underlies this entire rationale is the
> value and necessity the public perceives in the one service as opposed
> to the other. And this illustrates my oft-repeated point that, contrary
> to how the Rambam perceived it (and in line with the rationale expressed
> by some of his opponents on this issue), non-payment to lomdei Torah
> reinforces the idea among the masses that Torah-learning is less valued
> than paid-for occupations, not more.

No, you misunderstand the issue. torah learning is so well valued that
it should be incumbent on everyone - and those who do it do not need
material reward. It is precisely the notion that torah learning is an
occupation like any other that then leads to the notion that it should
be judged by its pay .... It is precisely the problem that the rabbinate
has become a profession that leads to this misapprehension.

>> I don't know of sources that require a religious doctor to charge
>> substantially less than the marketplace fees ...

> Neither do I -- besides the halacha in Shulchan Aruch we are
> discusiing. Which is my problem: "How this squares with today's doctor's
> fees."

Why isn't the marketplace the schar batala? What is the proof for saying
it isn't?

> Perhaps all doctors are really earning the bare minimum necessary to
> survive, once one deducts their overhead and expenses and can't afford
> to charge any less. But their lifestyles do not seem to support this idea.

Schar batal is not defined by most as minimum wage....

>> c) There has been a drop in the quality of applicants to medical
>> school, because the purely economic case for being a doctor has become
>> far less attractive in comparison with other options available to the
>> top potential candidates. The social necessity issue is a real one -
>> even if we don't like it.

> I don't understand how point (c) illustrates a difference between rabbanus
> and medicine. Seems to be another similarity.

Because the case for rabbanus was never (or should never have been)
an economic one

>> d) The notion that there is a general issur on taking fees for
>> performing mitzvot is problematic - after all, even the rambam allows
>> paying (and accepting) for teaching torah shebikhtav (eg, a melamed) -
>> where that is the norm. This is clearly qualified by normal practice,
>> social needs, etc.

> Indeed. The same can be said for rabbanus -- and for Kollel. But somehow
> one does not sense the righteous indignation against new ways Torah study
> is financed today, because of socio-economic changes, that one senses
> about the b'dieved practice, brought about by soci-economic changes,
> that condones paying physicians.

Medicine ultimately remains a profession - one that does good (hopefully),
but still a profession. RZL shows that he also thinks of rabbanut as
a profession - and he is right that viewed strictly as a profession,
it is underpaid. The question is whether that means that the view of it
as a profession is wrong....

Meir Shinnar, MD PhD

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