Avodah Mailing List

Volume 17 : Number 056

Monday, May 29 2006

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 11:46:13 -0400
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
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.

See: <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/719950.html>

Has anyone read this? Is it in Hebrew? It looks fascinating although
I get into trouble even with some of my RWMO world when I suggest that
knowing a posek's personality/circumstances would be helpful.

Joel RIch

'I will sing for Rashi' 
By Rafael Benjamin Posen 

"Rashi" by Avraham Grossman, The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History,
311 pages, NIS 76

Grossman overcame this predictable barrier in the first chapters of the
book, which serve as appetizers for the rest. In charming descriptions
supported by references and quotes, he paints a vivid portrait of
Rashi. He reveals unknown details about his youth, describes his
relationship with his teachers, sheds light on his personality and
esteemed leadership and informs us of his tendency to opt for the more
lenient interpretation ("From the day I first understood the words of
the Talmud, my heart has leaned towards those who are lenient").

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 20:17:07 -0400
From: "david guttmann" <david.guttman@verizon.net>

I found in my files an article sent to me by Prof. Lowinger of bnei
brak on Arvis and Kiddush on Shavuos. I am not sure who Hamburger is and
the sefer he copied it from. It should resolve all the questions on the
issue. Gut Yomtov.

[See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/qidushShavuos.pdf>. -mi]

David Guttmann
If you agree that Believing is Knowing, join me in the search for Knowledge
at http://yediah.blogspot.com/ 
Ve'izen vechiker (Kohelet 12:9) subscribe to Hakirah at www.hakirah.org 

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 12:50:22 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Call me Pinhead

Sun, 28 May 2006 from: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> Just FYI, the question was ... whether or not the number was finite.
> The debate was about whether infintesimals exist, phrased as whether
> an angel can get infintesimally small -- and therefore if an infinite
> number of angels can fit on the head of a pin.

Which assumes that angels are corporeal beings subject to space (and
time?), which Rambam (together with all others?) denies.

By the way, do you know who (in the "Age of Reason," IIRC) first used this
debate as an illustrative representation of religious life to ridicule it?

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 18:57:36
From: "Dr. Josh Backon" <backon@vms.huji.ac.il>
Re: Doctor's fees

The Nishmat Avraham YD 366 #9 goes into detail under what
conditions a doctor can charge fees [BTW the Nishmat Avraham
is also an MD]. He also intensively discusses (rishonim and
acharonim) how rabbanim can charge fees. He does indicate that
it is prohibited to withold treatment from a patient who can't
afford to pay (he lists a number of acharonim on this matter).


Josh (who doesn't take private patients)

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 13:55:48 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Avodah V17 #55

> (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..)

Why on earth?  Since when is one not allowed to give family discounts?

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                       	                          - Clarence Thomas

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 13:57:12 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Doctor's fees

Mon, 29 May 2006  R. Meir Shinnar wrote:
> RZL cited a private reply of mine (not quite edited for posting).
> let me expand on some of his points.

I apologize for publicly replying to a private reply. Although I
noticed Avodah was not in the address list, the content indicated it
was intended for Avodah; I should have realized it may not have been
completely edited. I suggest that in such private communications,
"OFFLIST" be indicated.

Meanwhile, RMS has responded with a thorough reply, and before reading
it, I had already finished editing some posts on the "Calling A Spade
A Spade" thread. I'm sure that there will be repetitions and hopefully
clarifications. Bli nedder, once the existing posts are published,
I'll leave off on this subject.

Zvi Lampel 

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 14:05:02 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Calling A Spade A Spade

RMS has repeatedly made the assertion that the Rema held his position
permitting financial support of rabbanim and students to be a
bedieved. This gives me the opportunity to reply to an old post where
he made that assertion:

> ...the rama, quoting the rambam, says-
> kol hamesim al libo la'asok batorah velo laasot melacha lehtiparnes min
> hatzedaka hare ze mehalel et hashem umevaze haotora.

But again, this very Rema goes on to qualify his statement: "All this is
regarding someone who can support himself by engaging in a /small amount/
of melacha or derech eretz (v'chol zeh b'bari v'yachol la'asok b'meleacha
o b'derech ereta /ketzatz/ u-l'hachayos atzmo)...; and some say that it is
permitted even for an able-bodied person, and therefore [for example --
ZL] everywhere Jews were, the practice was for the city's men to support
their Rav so that he would not need to be involved with work and [in
contradistinction to the Rambam's thinking -- ZL], thereby denigrate the
Torah in the peoples' eyes. But this is only allowed for a chacham who
needs this, but it is prohibited for someone who is [already] wealthy. And
some are even more lenient and permit the chacham and his talmidim to
accept support from those who provide it, in order to strengthen those
who study Torah, and allow them to learn Torah b'revach. Nevertheless,
one for whom it is possible to suooirt himself through hisown hands
and enagage in Torah study, THIS IS MIDDAS CHASIDUS. But this is not the
middah of everyone, because it is impossible for every man to so engage in
Torah study as to become wise in it, while providing his own parnassa...."

This is the Rema's statement, which should not be distorted by quoting
only his introductional citation of the Rambam's opinion. There
is bedieved, l'chatchilla, and middas chasidus. Rema poskens that
Rambam's shitta is middas chassidus, not lechatchilla. Our practice is
lechatchilla, not bedieved.

> When you have schools who will not take parents who work for a living,
> how can you argue that this is not against the rama?? Not working has
> become not a necessity for having communal rabbis, but an ideal in and
> of itself - something that is not mainstream halacha.

RMS laments problems he sees with the current situation, and the concerns
are very valid and need to be addressed, but these were not the concerns
raised by the Rambam or others, or the subject of my thesis that people
today are mistaken to use the Rambam's shitta to object to Kollel,
as opposed to say, rabbanus; and the Rambam's shitta, per se (which
equally prohibits pulpit rabbis from accepting salaries), was never in
theory accepted by mainstream Judaism.

> Again, the bottom line is that l'ma'aseh, for us, taking payment for
> Torah-pursuits is acceptable -- especially through using concepts such
> as s'char b'tayla. (And this, after all, ends up permitting anyone to
> accept payment as long as he is not simultaneously partaking in some
> enviable turn-key business or is in possession of a large inheritance.
> We must not forget that the Rambam's lechatchilla was spending the
> /overwhelming majority/ of one's day in Torah study, a far cry from
> the situation in which we find ourselves today. Let's not cherry-pick > lechatchillos.)

> Actually, no... The issue of providing support for talmidim is not based
> on schar batala. ...

I'm aware of that. I wrote, referring to payment for "all Torah-pursuits"
(which includes rabbanus) "concepts /such as/ s'char b'tayla." I'm aware
that s'char betayla applies only to some Torah pursuits, while other
concepts (such as eis la'asos laShem, shelo tai-avaid Torah miYisrael,
the shitta that there never was a prohibition against stipends and public
financial support for rabbanim, dayaninm, students, etc.)apply to other
pursuits, including pure Torah-study.

I had cited, as advocating financial support of both rabbanim and their
talmidim, the Kessef Mishneh on the Rambam (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10),
the Rema on Yoreh Deah (246), Shach approvingly citing Maharshal, Darkei
Mosheh, Bach, Rashbatz [Rav Shimon bar Tsemach] and the Derisha. (I
would also add the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 27:2, quoted below). I also
showed that they consider the Rambam's shitta (that a Torah scholar must
refuse financial support from others) an unrealistic ideal for most, and
a middas chassidus to be practiced by rare and exceptional individuals.

RMS responded:
> It is clear to everyone, including the rambam, that the customary habit
> is to support rabbanim - the truth has to be faced. The question,
> of course, is how one views that habit - and there are three approaches....

> 1. Rambam - this approach, in spite of its venerable history and
> support, is clearly mistaken and a hillul hashem.

I agree that this is the Rambam's view, but only regarding communal,
not family support. I would add that some (contra Rambam) also saw
a difference between (a)institutionalized communal support (e.g.,
using collected tsedaka monies to support talmidei chachamim), which
they agreed was wrong, and (b)private tsedakka given by individuals to
support talmidei chachamim in their studies, which they praised. This
distinction is made by the Abarbanel (on Ahvos Chap. 4), and the practice
of private support is recommended by the Tur (YD 246:1), Chayei Adam
(Hilchos Berachos U-Tefillos 10:1) and the Kitzur Shulcan Aruch (27:2):

"Anyone who does not know how to learn at all, who finds it impossible
to learn because of numerous troubles (rov tirdos), should financially
support others who learn, as our rabbis derive from the posuk concerning
Yssachar and Zevulun...and as we likewise find concerning Shimon Achi

> 2. Some - What has been done is what should be done - and ideally,
> communal support should even be increased.

> 3. Majority - what has been done is acceptable, but the rambam is not
> just dismissed, it is taken as the ideal - and the question is
> reconciling the ideal with reality.

RMS continues to misrepresent the majority position of lechatchilla
advocacy of community support of rabbonim and talmidim as some sort of
begrudging acceptance of an unfortunate development against the wishes
of the majority's preference. But the fact us that before, during, and
since the Rambam's time, the majority position advocated, as the ideal,
that the public support Torah full-time studies by individuals who were
not already independently secure, as long as certain criteria were met to
avoid the issur of using the Torah "as a spade." The majority never took
the Rambam's categorical position as the ideal; they always took a far
more modified position as ideal. Whether this constitutes "dismissing"
the Rambam's position is perhaps symantics.

Having access to an admirably wide range of sources, RMS also cited
the Machzor Vitry's payrush in the mishneh, which explains why in his
day rabbannim were paid, and he cites historical sources that show that
rabbonim stressed to the public that their acceptance of salaries was
not to be misunderstood as payment for Torah study per se. None of this
contradicts the original thesis I presented, and which each of RMS's
posts actually consistently demonstrates, that the objections towards
Kollel learning commonly heard today (including those of RMS) are not
the objections the Rambam or any of the halachic authorities had.

And the majority position, which does not share the Rambam's categorical
opinion, is all the more germane today. The Jewish world would be at
a more enviable spiritual level if, as the Rambam perceived it, the
public actually looked upon Torah as a higher pursuit than all other
fields of endeavor. Were this so, then indeed a talmid chacham accepting
public financing for his goals would be diminishing the Torah's value by
equating it to those other fields of endeavor, and that outlook would have
to be overcome. But the unfortunate reality is precisely the opposite:
People today, more than ever, value the other academic endeavors high
above Torah learning. Whereas they have no qualms over contributing funds
to support those endeavors, because they perceive in them a high value,
they do not perceive such value in Torah study. At best, the attitude is,
"Torah study is fine if it makes you happy, but don't make me pay for
your happiness out of /my/ pocket." At worst, it's "When a! re you
going to do something that contributes to society?"

The Israeli animosity RMS laments has much to do with politics, financial
straits and taxation, intrinsic lack of appreciation for Torah-study
(vs. other academic pursuits, the taxation for which is not as strongly
objected to), and socialist anti-clerical baggage. It has nothing to
do with the Rambam's shitta that, in RMS' words, "the support of torah
denigrates the ohr of torah - and that therefore the money should not
be spent." If only it were true that Israeli society's distaste for
Kollelites was a high respect for Torah learning which places it above
other pursuits, rather than below them!

The notion of schar batala as classically applied was that the person
was available to provide service to the community - whether to teach
or pasken - not that he would sit and learn....There is a tremendous
difference between providing payment to the rav hair, or even the dayan
ha'ir, or to the day school teacher - and providing support for someone
learning in kollel.

This reply again confirms my point that the common complaint (and that
of RMS) against kollel learning has little to do with the Rambam. The
Rambam does not subscribe to "s'char batala" as a hetter for paying for
Torah pursuits for a reason. The whole rationale of permitting payment
on the grounds that it is "s'char batala," or that it is a payment for
services, or for students to prepare to become communal functionaries
is based on a fundamentally different understanding as to why payment
is prohibited in the first place. His dissenters saw the prohibition
purely as a rule that Torah ought to be dispensed freely, as it was
by Hashem, and therefore designating the payment as renumeration for
one's batala, instead, circumvents the issur. The Rambam, however,
objected to Torah scholars receiving financial support (from outside
his family) because, he holds, this fosters the idea that limud Torah is
"just another business." All the more so would he object to paying Torah
teachers if it is represented as paying them for time lost, for providing
a service, or for preparation to become a community functionary. The
only circumvention the Rambam recommends is for a scholar to actually
be involved in a business independent of his studies.

The current situation is far different - especially in Israel - where the
ideology, based on Rav Dessler, is that the community should support any
one who wants to sit and study The ideology is not that the students are
there learning to be future communal functionaries, nor are they providing
a public service (except that the actual study of talmud torah is viewed
as public service). The study of torah lishma is a fine ideal - but the
communal support of studying torah lishma is far more problematic.....

The Torah leaders of each generation, who truly love the Torah and
value its spread, react to changing societal and economic situations
by periodically adjusting the system of spreading Torah education and
advising those responsible for it (who sometimes follow the advice, and
sometimes don't, but all with the best intentions). The changes involve,
among many things, who should teach children, what environment which
children should be taught in and, in later years, who should spend his
full time learning, in what form, at what age, in what marital status,
in what semicha-status, in what kind of financial arrangement, and for
what goals. Their ideas are not necessarily monolithic, any more than
were those of the Rambam and his contemporaries, or the Maharal and his.

The most efficient way of conducting Torah-education has been in
flux at least since the days of Ezra and later of R. Shimon ben
Gamala. R.R. Wolpoe has pointed out the changes in the rebbi-talmid
relationship, which together with current economic and societal
differences make duplicating the arrangements of Tannaitic and even
medieval times impossible. This is one area where it can be clearly
maintained that we ought not freeze our practices to duplicate
those of 18th-century Eastern Europe, not to mention those of the
Rambam's day. Today's economic and intellectual realities simply do
not allow for the Rambam's preferred paradigm of minimal working and
intensive study. One wonders if today the solution would be the Rambam's
recommendation, which RMS favors, of arranging for businessmen to accept
(token) capital from yungermen and then providing them with parnassa
from their profits. Is it practical? Is it realistic? (If RMS would be
willing, I'm sure there would be talmidei chachamim who would seriously
consider his offer...)

[Email #2. -mi]

Tue, 14 Feb 2006 from: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
>...there was a major uproar when Rav Yisrael Salanter provided support >for married students in his Kovno kollel.

I have seen RMS state this before in other venues, and perhaps he has
a valid source. But in "Rabbi Israel Salanter and the Mussar Movement,"
Immanuel Etkes mentions no rabbinical opposition to the Kovno kollel's
supporting married students at all. He does mention (p. 275) that while
under Rav Blazer's leadership, "the kollel was principally attacked by
the Haskallah authors" because of its emphasis on mussar. If this is the
opposition RMS is referring to, it in no way supports his implication
that 19th century rabbinic opinion objected to formal public support
of married talmudic students--not because of the Rambam's objections,
quasi-Rambam objections, non-classical use of the "sechar batala" concept,
or for any other reason.

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 13:31:40 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: geirut

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> 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.

A giyoret marrying a cohen?  How can such a thing be?  I went looking
for this tosafos but couldn't find it.  Which DH is it?

> 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.

Surely this applies only when the child knew that he had this option.
If he didn't know that, then how can his continuing to keep mitzvot
be taken as a sign of consent?  He did mitzvot because he thought he
had no choice.

I also wonder whether nowadays, when 12- or 13-year- olds are
completely dependent on their parents, they can be said to be free at
that age to retroactively consent to their giyur.  After all, what
choice do they really have?

OTOH, a point often missed in these discussions is that, AIUI, the
child's retroactive consent is only required in the case of adoption.
If the child is being raised frum by his biological parents, then the
giyur is an unadulterated zechut, and he may not opt out when he comes
of age. 

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                       	                          - Clarence Thomas

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 13:37:05 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: measuring the mean lunar month

Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org> wrote:

> 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.

It shouldn't matter, lunar or solar eclipses should do equally well, but
solar eclipses are more noticeable, and it's easier to tell exactly what
time they occurred.

> 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.

But we have no evidence or reason to believe that they *did* know that.

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                       	                          - Clarence Thomas

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 17:16:13 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Al Naharos Bavel: Authorship and Ibn Ezra's shittah

Wed, 24 May 2006 from: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com> 
> Tehillim: R' Yitz Etshalom gives a number of sources that support 
> late composition: 

+ Shir HaShirim Rabbah 4:5 puts it in Ezra's time, which would eliminate
the problem; 

Actually, this source says in the name of Rav and R. Yochonon that
"Ten people said Sefer Tehillim," and it lists Adam and Avraham, Moshe
and David and Shlomo, Assaf, Heyman, Yedisun, the three sons of Korach,
and Ezra. (Maharzu posits, as you did, that Ezra could therefore have
been the author of "Al Nahars Bavel.") However, the Talmud states
David wrote Sefer Tehillim al-yedei ten Elders, and has the same list,
except with Malki-Tzedek and not Ezra. When the Talmud disagrees with a
Midrash, we posken like the Talmud. And before we get into whether p'sak
is relevant on this perhaps non-halachic issue, let me just point out
that all the meforshim (Radak, Ibn Ezra, Seforno) state the Talmud's
version and not this Midrash's, and based on that declare that David
wrote "Al Naharos Bavel" in prophetic/ruach hakodesh vision. In addition,
the Midrash Tehillim (Shochar Tov) states that you see from "Al Naharos
Bavel" that David saw into the future.

+ R' Moshe Gikatilla (13th c. Kabbalist) favors late composition; 

I don't dabble in kabbalah, and wouldn't know for sure what he means,
even if I had access to the text.

+ Malbim holds that as long as nevuah was available, Tehillim were still
being composed (again, down to Ezra's time). He explicitly states that
this Mizmor was written in the first year of Koresh (539 BCE).

This is what Malbim says:

"As long as the spirit of Hashem dwelt upon His prophets and
seers... [for them] to speak or sing with ruach hakodesh, the gates of
this treasurehouse were not closed.....Shir HaShirm L'Shlomo, ...bnei
Korach, Menashe ben Hizkiyahu, Hallel HaGadol [no author mentioned--ZL]
regarding the miracle of Sancherib...Assaf regarding this miracle,
Eisan HaEzrachi, Heyamn HaEzrachi, Yedusun and bnei Korach, unitl the
prayers they established in Galus Bavel concerning the burining of the
Beis HaMikdash and the galus, until "Shuv Hashem ess Tzion" in the days
of Coresh.

"Don't let this seem strange in your eyes, for Chazal say on Pesachim
in the name of R. Elazar ben Azariah that Hizkiyahu said it. And so I
explained it-- [viz.] regarding the neis of Sancherib. And so will you
find with the ancient commentators, al derech hapeshat.

"And I wrote this to remove the arguments of the mal'igim, who say,
'How is it possible that in the days of David, while the kingdom was in
its strength, Israel on its land, and the gezeyra was not yet decreed,
that they would already be singing on the duchan about the downfall of
the Nation and the galus of Tzidkiyahu (Ps. 89) and their sitting at
the rivers of Babylon, and their cursing Bavel and bnei Edom, who had
not yet sinned nor did any evil--and similar such arguments.

"And therefore I explain it according to peshat to close the mouths of
the m'or'rim and nokfim. For even according to what Chazal say, that Sefer
Tehillim was said by ten elders including bnei Korach and Assaf...it is
not necessary [in order to maintain its ruach hakodesh status, perhaps
contra to Ibn Ezra who made Tehillim's ruach hakodesh status dependent
upon David having ruach hakodesh--ZL] to say that it was all in the
days of David. For Prophecy lasted among Israel until the sealing by
the neviim, Malachi, who is Ezra, the channel [of prophecy] was open,
and he singing Leviim saw bruch hakodesh and their words are kodesh until
Ezra who sealed the kisvei hakodesh, and from then on nothing was added.

"All this is al derech hapeshat, in whose path I placed as my goal,
to prepare my arrows against the swarms of commentators whose purpose
is to diminish the honor of the kisvei kodesh [and say they were not
written bruach hakodesh--ZL].


And so, once again we are confronted by the scenario of a Torah authority
who, in order to placate people who doubt divrei Chazal, chose to declare
that it "not imperative" to accept that ma''amer (which he himself holds
fast by), in order to still maintain the larger principal (in this case,
the preservation of the honor of the kisvei kodesh and the status of
Tehillim as an expression of literal ruach hakodesh). But we, who trust
in Chazal, accept their words.

Zvi Lampel

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 >