Avodah Mailing List

Volume 17 : Number 063

Monday, June 5 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 14:19:44 -0500
From: "CBK" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
Re: Avodah V17 #61

>: Actually, the Chovos haLevavos (shaar haYichud) disagrees with you. He
>: maintains that anytime you can add to something or subtract from it,
>: it does not have the true qualities of infinity...

This is not born out by the simple mathematics of infinity. The set
of all whole numbers is infinite. Subtract from that, all of the even
numbers and the remainder is still infinity. The inverse is also true. An
infinite set (e.g. all negative numbers) can be added to any number
(rational or irrational) and the sum is still infinity.

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Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2006 15:34:46 -0400
From: hankman <salman@videotron.ca>
Re: measuring the mean lunar month

RMB wrote:
> By the time you had enough months to have an accurate average molad,
> the number you're trying to measure has changed.

I think we all agree on the science, although we were talking at
cross purpose. I was concerned with the actual change of duration from
conjunction to conjunction, while you were referring to the minor drift
in the mean value over longer periods.

> Either is easier to accurately time than the molad, the first sliver
> of moon of visible size.

Just a minor point. I believe, most (if not all) of the modern tabulated
data for lunation is for conjunction based on the center of the bodies
and not based on visibility. When you consider the actual visibility
of the molad there are more variables that come into play. The most
significant parameter is the lunar/solar separation at conjunction due
to the plane of the lunar orbit as well as the season. But many of the
parameters pertain to the location of the observer, such as the latitude
of the observer, atmospheric conditions, time of day etc. Thus if any
of these parameters of visibility were different at the first and the
last lunation taken to calculate the average this too could vary the
resulting mean. Furthermore, visibility is a subjective thing in the
sense that one's vision may be more or less acute than another's. So
the threshold for visibility needs to be defined as well for such a
calculation. I suspect (don't really know) that these variations could
throw more than 3 seconds/century into the mix.

Kol Tuv
Chaim Manaster

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 04:43:59 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Tzimtzum KePeshuto

On June 3, 2006, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> I agree that the details of tzimtzum are not appropriate for an internet
> discussion.

I did too and mentioned it in one of my first posts on this
topic. However, the thread did continue and perhaps I improperly justified
my ongoing input due to the olam's involvement. As a form of hisnatzlus,
I'd like to mention that since this particular topic in Kabala has been
publicly debated for so long, its parameters deliberated so extensively
in open discussion, perhaps there are mitigating factors which somewhat
absolve one, to an extent, from adherence to Shlomo haMelech's injunction
of "kvod Elokim haster davar"...I hope...

> My sole concern was to object to the criticism directed against gedolim
> who have asserted tzitzum kePeshuto. Gedolim have every right to accuse
> other gedolim of being mistaken. However I don't understand how any member
> of this discussion group can assert - based on their own reasoning - that
> some gedolim hold views that are kefira or close to it. As a minimum
> it is necessary to cite other gedolim to substantiate that assertion.

It's late at night and I hope to respond to the rest of RDE's email
time permitting but I couldn't let the above go without comment. I've
been involved in this thread from the beginning and I don't recall
anyone mentioning that a particular baal shita was a kofer chs'v. We are
discussing shitos, not ba'alei shittos. There was one poster (whom I agree
with) who mentioned a situation of "almost kefira" but I am convinced
that he does not believe that there are any "gedolim" who maintain a
view which he would characterize as 'almost kefira'. Allow me to explain.

The term tzimtzum k'pshuto is misleading. It implies that there are only
two options; T Kipshuto and T lav kipshuto. This is incorrect. There are
four possibilities; shna'yim she'heim arba. The above formulation can
be understood as applying to 'Manifestations' of Hashem, alternatively
referred to as 'Or' or 'Or Ein Sof' or 'Hanhaga' or 'Shechina' and other
terms. Or it can apply to what is alternatively referred to as Atzmus,
Atzmus Ein Sof, Maor, Atzmuso Yisbarach and other terms.

No one is claiming that tzimtzum kipshuto is heretical if applied to
"Or". The claim is that tzimtzum kipshuto is close to kefira only if it
is used in conjunction with 'Atzmus'. I assume that anyone who maintains
this approach presumably attempts to interpret any machlokes gedolim
in this doctrine as applying only to 'Or' thus absolving the ba'alei
plugta from any issue of heresy. If, after due diligence, it is revealed
that there were indeed shittos which maintained TK in Atzmus (currently
incomprehensible to me), posters on this list would, by necessity, have
to reconsider their condemnations of this view (vis-a-vis the baalei
shita at least) although I don't feel said posters would, in any way,
have to accept both views as valid, a dynamic which has been interminably
promoted on this list.

After further reflection, I decided to address one more comment. RDE
> Rav Dessler does not carry much weight in the world of Kabbala. I assume
> that is true also in the world of chassidus as indicated by the fact
> that the Lubavitcher Rebbe specifically rejected it.

There is a Maaseh with R' Baruch Ber as follows. RBB was a superb baal
tefilla (it was related that he could listen to any niggun one time
and know it). His rebbi, R' Chaim, was apparently unable to carry a
tune. Once someone was speaking to RBB and made a deprecating comment
to the effect that that R' Chaim was tone deaf. RBB was so shocked he
was unable to speak. Someone had insulted the Rebbe! After some time,
RBB regained his composure and with a big smile, stated as follows;
when Hashem was creating human beings, he created various levels of
perfection. When he decided to create the highest level, my rebbi R'
Chaim was born. However, in order to make it clear to people that he
was not an angel, he gave him a slight chisaron...he has difficulty
with the chush haniggun...OTOH, I am so full of chisronos that Hashem,
in His mercy, bestowed me with one ma'ala; the chush haNiggun....

I feel a similar shock to RDE's words as RBB felt to his conversant's
remarks. Saying that R' Dessler did not carry much weight in the world of
kabala shows a marked lack of awareness as to how profound Rav Dessler
really was. First of all, RDE's contention is simply not true. Rav
Dessler had much massah u'mattan with the sefardi mekubalim in Eretz
Yisrael who respected him inestimably. But even if this was not true,
Rav Dessler lived in the olam haYeshivos. Obviously his influence was
primarily limited to that world. To imply that his shittos in kabala
can in any way be marginalized as a result is pure folly. Furthermore,
the fact that the LR rejected his approach to tzimtzum has nothing
to do with his standing in the Chassidishe velt. Rav Dessler learned
Chassidus extensively, was admired by the greatest Chassidim such as R'
Itchele Masmid, and is currently admired by Chassidim who are aware of
Litvishe gedolim who crossed the line into Chassidus. I don't mean to
be disrespectful to RDE whom I hold in high regard, but I believe his
above comment was entirely uncalled for.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 02:00:47 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Nevu'ah in Hebrew?

>> Reb Dovid told him softly, "you must be mistaken.  Nevuas are only given
>> in Hebrew." Whereupon the young man thanked him  for his clarification
>> and he proceeded to remove his  tefillin.

> Was RDL "stretching" the truth for the greater good when he told  this
> fellow that nevu'ah is only in Hebrew?

I have heard before that nevuah is given only in loshon hakodesh but
don't know the source.

This story reminds me of the famous story of the boy who thought he
was a chicken, sat under the table naked and licked up seeds from
the floor. I don't remember which famous rav it was but someone --
sat under the table with the boy, said, "I'm a chicken too." Then,
"Who says a chicken can't wear clothes?" "Who says a chicken can only
eat from the floor?" etc until he got the boy to act normal.

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2006 09:07:17 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re: Eruv Tavshilin

RZSero asks about eruv tavshilin
>Why does the nusach suddenly switch from Aramaic to Hebrew, for the
>last phrase?

I don't know. In this way, it is a tiny bit like a ktuvah, which starts
in Hebrew and then continues in Aramaic. I don't know why that that is
either, but the Rama in EH notes this, and says that although a shtar
should be written entirely in one language, Hebrew and Aramaic are
considered one language for this purpose.

I said ET in Hebrew. ET is in the category of things, like hatarat nedarim
and bittul chametz, that the uninformed (not the present company) think
are some sort of prayer, but are actually declarations, and the language
in which they are said is unimportant, as long as it is well understood
by the declarer.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2006 09:22:56 +0200
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

R' Marty Bluke wrote:
> There is a bigger question on this, what about the mitzva of Tosefes
> Yom Tov which according to some rishonim is d'oraysa? How does Temimos
> fit with that? How come we do not fulfill the mitzva of Tosefes Yom Tov
> on Shavuos?

> Interestingly enough, the Netziv in Chumash agrees that you shouldn't
> daven maariv early on Shavuous night for a different reason (he rejects
> the Taz's reason of temimios). He says that since it says b'etzem hayom
> hazeh by Shavuos (in Parshas Emor), b'etzem teaches us that there is no
> din of tosefes yom tov. This is the Netziv's chiddush, there is no such
> drash in Chazal.

R' Hamburger shlit"e in vol. IV of his excellent Shorshe Minneg Ashkenez
writes about this.

Some teaser points:
Tosefes YT is an issue also at the beginning of the seven weeks.
The Taz doesn't explicitly say to postpone Maarev until after nacht,
BTW, but only to delay it.

[ 8~)

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 23:07:30 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Tikkun Leil Shavuot

In a message dated 6/3/2006 9:30:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time, zev@sero.name  
> Was it
> the Shelah himself, or some bochur hazetzer working from the  Shaloh's
> general instructions? 

It is the Shaloh himself, see begining of Miseches Shvuos (Vol. 1
page 29b).

Kol Tuv
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 11:31:37 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: measuring the mean lunar month

RMB wrote:
> Alternatively, someone was lucky, and got the correct value by
> surrendipitous error. Could be, but is it more likely than just taking
> the Mekhilta at face value?

Wouldn't it be likely, considering the systemic drift, that any reasonably
close estimate will be almost precise at some point in history? If the
length of the month were not currently so close to the actual average
value, we would probably discover it either was accurate x hundred
years ago, or wiould be in x hundred years. Remember that, after all,
an observer deriving the average month's length from the interval between
two eclipses would start with a reasonably close estimate.

I also wonder (as I do not know whether I know enough basic astronomy
to use eclipse data for this purpose) whether the length of the month
varies so much when derived from the interval between solar eclipses as
between lunar eclipses.

Finally, I have a little request to our more astronomically versed
chaverim: could someone either compile or point to a short list of key
astronomic terms and their definition in layman's terms, relevant to
'ibur hachodesh and 'ibur hashannah? I will be very grateful being able
to familiarize myself with it in preparation for my Rosh haShannah daf
yomi shi'ur. (that gives the volunteers a few months to prepare)

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger

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Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2006 12:15:09 -0400
From: Moshe Shulman <mshulman@ix.netcom.com>
RE: Tzimtzum KePeshuto

At 11:52 AM 6/1/2006, S & R Coffer wrote:
>On June 1, 2006, Moshe Shulman wrote:
>> Also I notice that many posters are just saying things that they have
>> no real understanding of. They seem to be scanning seforim, and coming
>> to conclusions that if they had read and understood they would see were
>> the opposite of the truth. (I think some of what has been said about
>> the leshem is a good example.)

>Riddles my friend, riddles. Two views were stated. One was R' Daniel
>Eidensohn's that the Leshem feels tzimtzum is a reference to Hashem's
>essence and R' Y.G. Bechhofer that it refers to his emanations (Or). Which
>one do you find problematic and why?

Both are incorrect.

>>> denominator between them is a form of limitation of the Ein sof. As far as
>> I think that depends one whether you understand what the nimshal is or not.

>You think incorrectly. All of the musagim in kisvei Arizal are a mashal as
>is well known but the infrastructure of the mashal is understood to
>perfectly express the reality of the nimshal in a form that can be grasped
>by our minds. If the mashal is problematic, it is not an accurate
>description, on a human level, of the reality of the nimshal. No one can
>relate to the reality of Atzmus nor can anyone fully relate to the reality
>of Or Ein Sof as it is beyond our frame of reference but that doesn't stop

You like to use terminology that is taken from Chabad. Some do not see
it that way. The Ari did not use Chabad terms.

>the kabbalists from discussing the issue on the level of the mashal. All of
>the baalei shita I have seen (The Arizal, the Mishnas Chassidim, The Shomer
>Emunim, R' Yaakov Emden, R' Yonasan Eibishitz, The Gra, the Tanya, R' Chaim
>Volozhiner, Rav Dessler and the LR) all discuss tzimtzum on the level of the
>mashal. There is no other way to discuss kabbalistic concepts.

So your definition of tzimtzum k'peshuto is?

>My bottom line point is if one wishes to apply tzimtzum, or any concept or
>process whatsoever to the Boreh, it is automatically a form of limitation.
>The reason is because any process or concept we can possibly conceive is
>born of a limited mind and thus the concept is also limited. Saying that it
>is only a mashal is meaningless because any nimshal, even the most
>far-removed and spiritual one, is also a form of limitation of Hashem. Any
>concept that any beriah, even the highest Malach or Saraf can conceive of is
>a form of limitation of Atzmus Ein Sof. The truth is, although we think of
>Hashem as spiritual, this only refers to the level of Shechina, that is, Or
>Ein Sof. In reality, Hashem is entirely removed from any concept at all,
>even the most highly refined spirituality. You simplky cannot say anything
>about Him at all, whether biderech mashal or nimshal. This is a fundamental
>point of kabbalah and is indispensable in its proper explication. This is
>why I feel that the Gra and R' Chaim could never have been referring to AES
>as the LR claims they were.

But many seforim do speak of Him. The discussion of philosophers 
about attributes of G-d is an example of such discussions.

Moshe Shulman   outreach@judaismsanswer.com 718-436-7705
Judaism's Answer:  http://www.judaismsanswer.com/

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Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 13:15:12 -0500
From: "Kohn, Shalom" <skohn@Sidley.com>
Tzimtzum KePeshuto

I am less than a novice on Kabbalah, and certainly do not understand the
details of the debate about Tzimtzum. So, this is a question for those
learned in the area.

I had understood Tzimtzum as a simple metaphor for the following problem --
Hashem's presence "fills the world," so how could there be room for
anything else? Two objects cannot be in the same space at the same time.
So, Tzimtzum expresses the idea that Hashem has retracted Himself --
leaving to one side whether the remaining presence of Hashem is in
another dimension, or in the subatomic interstices, or what have you --
so as to give a place for the world and for human action. In other words,
Tzimtzum expresses only the concept that Hashem has granted space for
other things to function and exist. Beyond that, details of Tzimtzum
involve describing the essence of Hashem (e.g., what was before and what
was after the Tzimtzum process), which is indescribable.

Perhaps one of the experts debating these issues can explain the concepts
and areas of debate in more detail in light of the above.

Shalom L. Kohn

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Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 14:22:15 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Tzimtzum KePeshuto

Once RMShulman raised the subject, I too thought about the propriety of
continuing this discussion. I'm allowing it on list because there is at
least one chaveir who I would use as a poseiq who already contributed.
OTOH, RYZirkind is showing incredible self control by notably NOT
commenting on the subject.

For my own comfort, I will keep my posts to discussing material already
on the web. At least my misunderstandings won't add to the total qabbalah
being mis-learned. Of course that gives me pretty close to open season...

On Mon, Jun 05, 2006 at 01:15:12PM -0500, Kohn, Shalom wrote:
: I had understood Tzimtzum as a simple metaphor for the following problem --
: Hashem's presence "fills the world," so how could there be room for
: anything else? Two objects cannot be in the same space at the same time.

It's a HUGE mistake to view tzimtzum as having to do with occupying
physical space. The question isn't about melo khol ha'aretz kevodo,
because tzimtzum was a necessariy step in order for there to be an aretz.
Space itself is a nivra. Tzimtzum is the constriction of potential so
that anything other than Him, including space, can exist.

I once was given the mashal of tzimtzum being like a slide. (Remember
slide shows?) By blocking parts of the light, a slide can make a picture
on the wall. Nimshal: The light is Hashem's shefa, the slide is tzimtzum,
selectively blocking that shefa, and the picture on the wall is you,
me, the galaxy, space, time, and every other nivra. IOW, creation is
through the removal of the potential for things and attributesHashem
does NOT want to exist.

And so, if everything could exist nothing would exist, and thus the yeish
of the universe is from the ayin of the Ein Sof. Thus bringing us to L

The L Rebbe adds two axis to this:
+ Tzimtzum could be taken (1) literally (2) or figuratively; and
+ It could be taken as referring to (a) Atzmuso or to (b) His Or.

In RYGB's lexicomn "tzimtzum kipeshuto" is (1a) the literal tzimtzum
of Atzmus, and he cites REED that this is heretical. However, he doesn't
attribute this kefirah to any baalei mesorah. Quite lehefech: RYGB
is using what he considers blatant kefirah as a means of ruling out
possible [mis]understandings of various peshatim.

I raise this because I want to point out that despite the language
used in numerous replies, REED obviously isn't claiming that someone,
e.g. the Leshem, is a kofeir, but that peshat in the Leshem is NOT
that of literal tzimtzum of Atzmus (1a), because it's kefirah.

It seems clear that numerous misnagdim of the Alter Rebbe's era held of
(1) literal tzimtzum. It is far less clear whether they were speaking of
(a) Atzmus or (b) Or. The L rebbe asserts that they did hold of (1a)
literal tzimtzum of Atzmus. And that's what one finds described as
the misnagdic position in numerous L web sites. Because of the above,
RYGB asserts thay they're mistaken, confusing misnagdic belief in (1b)
literal tzimtzum of Or with kefirah (1a).

The question boils down to whose description of late 18th and early 19th
cent CE misnagdic thought tdo you believe, the LR or REED's?

I have my own perplexities with the issue, which were reflected in my
opening comment about it seeming like the Tanya uses the sun and the beam
that comes from it interchangably in relation to the light on the wall
(us). I obviously misunderstood, will work out how off-list.

Second, if you say that tzimtzum is (b) of His Or, then doesn't that
mean that all of creation really is of His Atzmus, since That was not
metzamtzeim? In a manner even beyond figurative tzimtzum.

Because of this 2nd issue, I could see less of a problem with "atzmuso
umahuso melubash beguf" than if it were referring to Or.


Micha Berger             It's nice to be smart,
micha@aishdas.org        but it's smarter to be nice.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - R' Lazer Brody
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2006 13:38:44 -0400
From: "Meir Shinnar" <chidekel@gmail.com>
Re: Calling A Spade A Spade:

There should only be a few iterations of this thread.  However.
1) RZL insistst that the phrase mamon li means that this is tzedaka
money from the rambam's brother to the rambam, and not money that the
rambam's brother earned as the rambam's agent.
RZL also cited (while trying to prove a different point) that the rambam
himself (pirke avot) uses the grammatical construct lahem to refer
to the profits generated by a businessman agent for a talmid chacham -
showing that linguistically, this is how the rambam himself used it,
so I am somewhat confused by RZL's confidence that this grammatical
structure has to refer to charity.

2) RZL misunderstands the basis of the rambam's objection to study
dependent on charity. While part of it is "sofo melastem et haberiyot",
he views the entire notion of such study as hillul hashem, bizayon hatora,
and kibuy or hadat. It is the statement of the individual that his
torah study is of such importance that other people should support it.

Given this, it is irrelevant where the source of funding arises -
if it is not self generated. Therefore, the rambam is very careful to
delineate specific exclusions - that certain types of support are viewed
as acceptable, because they are not direct financial support, but more
reflect the type of favors that businessmen would grant each other.

Therefore, given that very careful delineation, the fact that the
rambam does not list support by family (and I think it is quite clear
that among those who believe in supporting torah study, supporting a
relative talmid chacham was quite common)- is convincing proof that he
does not view such support as permissible.

3) WRT to the case the rambam brings down:
The case the rambam brings down is clearly distribution in a time
of drought. There, even though there was a food shortage, there was
a talmid chacham who refused food distribution because it was limited
to talmide chachamim. (The rambam also brings down another case where
a talmid chacham's life was in danger, and he tried hard to save it
without having to use the fact that he was a talmid chacham).
One can legitimately argue that refusing food in this situation is a
midat chassidut. However, to argue from this that it was acceptable
to distribute charity to talmide chachamim, and to accept it - seems a
deliberate distortion of the text, necessitated by the desired conclusion
(which is why I said it was a weak argument, and the kesef mishne knew
it was weak). The text is explicit that the food distribution was only
in times of batzoret. We know talmide chachamim were not necessarily
well off in general, but the food distribution was only made in times of
batzoret - proving that it was only the issue of batzoret that allowed
this to happen.

Meir Shinnar

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