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Volume 17 : Number 084

Monday, July 10 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:41:21 +0100
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
RE: historical contingency and brachos

> This strikes me as a very attractive theory, but I'm not convinced that it 
> fits the facts.  Consider four areas: China, Mesopotamia, 
> Peru, and Mexico. The first two had functioning literate civilizations by the 
> time of Matan Torah, even though rice has lower protein content than wheat. 

You do need to read the full book to see the entirety of thesis (which
is not solely based on crops, there are also other factors such as the
existence of domesticatable animals etc which are discussed in later
chapters). But nevertheless, one of the fundamental requirements that
Diamond identifies is a reasonably readily domesticatable cereal crop,
ideally high in protein. He acknowleges that this is of course not
the full story (especially if there are also pulses with a high protein
content which are also easily domesticatable in the area) - the cereal
crop rice, while less ideal than the cereal crops of the fertile crescent
still had many major advantages and was coupled in China with soybean,
adzuki beans and mung beans. He devotes a whole chapter to "How China
became chinese", looking at the specific chinese factors.

>  As far as I 
> know potatos (the basis of the Inca's civilization) also have high protein 
> content 

Well he does discuss root and tuber crops in passing - and while not
commenting on the protein content of the potato specifically, does make
it clear that both the taro and sweat potato (other examples of root and
tuber crops which were the staple crops in certain places) are low in
protein (p149). "Taro, for example, consists of barely 1 percent protein,
much worse than even white rice, and far below the levels of the Fertile
Crescent's wheats and pulses 8-14% and 20-20% protein respectively).

He also notes (p118) that potatoes are among the many other familiar
crops who wild ancestors were bitter or poisonous - making them
not so easily domesticated as those that do not need to have their
bitterness/poisonous nature bred out of them

> and, I imagine, they are easily domesticated.  Yet the Mayas had a 
> functioning civilization before the Incas, and the Incas lagged several 
> thousand years behind Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China.

Shavuah tov

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Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:10:14 -0400
From: "Sober Family" <sober@pathcom.com>
How do Achronim become Rishonim?

[Hamaqom yenacheim osakh besokh sha'ar aveilei Tziyon viYrushalayim.
May you have many more opportunities to share RMS z"l's Torah with us
in the future. -mi]

My husband z"l used to point out that the transition from Rishonim
to Acharonim happened at roughly the same time that moveable type was
invented (15th cent CE). Before printing, preserving and copying books
required a tremendous investment of time and resources and was reserved
for only the very best and most important works. With printing, it became
much cheaper and easier to produce books, so that a much wider range of
authors (the Acharonim) could be published.

We are now undergoing a similar transition from print to electronic
transmission of texts - it's a lot easier just to start a blog than to
go to the trouble of getting a book accepted for publication. And even
in the world of printed books, it is much cheaper and easier to produce
a book when the "manuscript" is submitted electronically and much of
the formatting is automated.

 - Ilana

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Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:02:12 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

I think the effects of monotheism on science is also a big part of it.

 From the days of the original Greek philosophers, the people who advanced
science the furthest were monotheists or deists. (Including Aristotle.)
I think technology is best served by the belief system (or at least
products of a culture founded on the belief system) that expects a
rational purposive and designed universe.

Xianity therefore indirectly gave Europe a technological advantage.

The same was true of Islam during Spain's Golden Age, although Islam since
shied away from a strong support of science for other reasons.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (270) 514-1507        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:15:21 -0400
From: Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@juno.com>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

[So what does this have to do with berakhos again? -mi]

On Jul 7, 2006, at 16:37:05 -0400GMT, R' David Riceman wrote:
> in response to RCL's:
>> Only the fertile crescent had the range of easily domesticatable wild
>> cereal crops that made a transition to intensive agriculture easy.  In
>> particular, he singles out eincorn wheat, emmer wheat and barley.  This
>> is because:
>> High productivity:<snip>
>> - the wheats offer the additional advantage of a high protein  
>> content <snip>
>> Because of the high productivity there was a corresponding ease of
>> domestication:<snip>

> This strikes me as a very attractive theory, but I'm not convinced that
> it fits the facts. Consider four areas: China, Mesopotamia, Peru, and
> Mexico. The first two had functioning literate civilizations by the  time
> of Matan Torah, even though rice has lower protein content than wheat.
> As far as I know potatos (the basis of the Inca's civilization) also
> have high protein content and, I imagine, they are easily  domesticated.
> Yet the Mayas had a functioning civilization before the Incas, and the
> Incas lagged several thousand years behind Mesopotamia, Egypt, and  
> China.

I wouldn't get too hung up on the protein content.
Prof. Diamond's analysis seems to be mainly based on two factors:
1. the original availability of domesticable plants and animals
2. axes for the spread of innovations.

'Horizontal' axes that follow lines of latitude are more likely to have
similar climates, so that a plant that can be grown in Mesopotamia could
also be grown in China with very little or no adaptation.
'Vertical' axes that follow longitude, on the other hand, have slower
rates of spread because of the difference in climate.

Horses were able to spread along almost the entire Eurasian axis between
Europe , the Middle East and China within 1000 years; on the other hand,
native American plants and animals spread much less along the Americas'
vertical axis. Just imagine an Inuit-domesticated caribou being used as
a beast of burden by the Navajo.

I haven't read GG&S for a while, though, so I may have forgotten some  
additional important points.

-Stephen (Steg) Belsky
  "word-making is world-making."
      ~ the DAG"Z

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Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 11:19:53 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

RMB wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 03, 2006 at 05:37:18PM +0200, Arie Folger wrote:
>: Imagine a world in which dinei memonot and kenassot are being dealt with,
>: with ba'alei din saying "mossif ani 'aleikhem dayyanim", and you can
>: easily see what the shevet's Sanhedrin was for.

> I understand what you're saying -- that they existed to adjucate, not
> interpret the law. I am not sure how it qualifies as a beis din hagadol
> that way, not understand then why they need be specific to the sheivet.

Well, the judges appointed by Moshe in parshat Yitro had to be yedu'im
leshivteikhem, because being judged by your peers is considered an
equitable way to exclude ethnic misunderstanding from judgment.

> Also, even in bayis sheini, the kohanim ran their own high court to
> decide hilkhos qodshim and yuchsin. Not just adjucate. No?

You prove my point. These courts dealt with the application of halakhah,
of standard halakhah.

>: In addition, if during exile far flung communities managed to stay in
>: touch with each other and keep halakhah mostly uniform (take you lomus
>: spectacles off for a minute and look at halakhah from the outside in,
>: from the perspective of an anthropologist with no preconceived notions
>: of Judaism).

> I would agree. However, that's largely because we are building from
> common precedent. But there were no texts yet, not even standardized
> memorizable mishnayos. They had much less common ground to build on.

Good point. So I will concede that there were more regional differences
in those days, but we would qualify these as minhag and local taqanah,
rather than differences interpreting deOraita.

Arie Folger

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Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:08:11 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: me'ein hachasima

On Sun, Jul 02, 2006 at 01:19:59AM -0400, rabbirichwolpoe@aol.com wrote:
: I have about 3-4 hyptheses the common denominator is clear that:
: 1) the ancient nusach was oseh hashlaom NOT hamevareich

Both exist in old nusachos. This is an example of compromise in pesaq.

: 2) b'sefer Hayyim is an ok segue into oseh Hashalom
: 3) v'tov b'einecha is there ONLY because of the later nusach of hamevoreich.

During the course of preparing my shiurim on the siddur, I'm developing
a more general theory that Seph (and Eidot haMizrach, not speaking of
Chassidishe nusachos) looks primarily at peirush hamilim, whereas Ashk
looks more often to layers further into the onion. This is blatantly
true of our respective choice of piyutim, but I think it's true about
tefillah in general.

Many berakhos operate on two levels -- e.g. waking up in the morning
and techiyas hameisim, the creation of light and the creation of good,
etc... Where the me'ein hachasimah differs, Ashk has the more general,
less on-the-moment version than does Seph.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             When a king dies, his power ends,
micha@aishdas.org        but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
http://www.aishdas.org   beginning.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                    - Soren Kierkegaard

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Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2006 23:01:36 -0700 (PDT)
From: Philip Silverman <feivelbaruch@yahoo.com>
Re: Foie gras and veal

For those who are following the discussion on foie gras, you may wish
to know of the following story. In the new book Holy Woman, on page
63, it tells of 9-year-old Yaakov Moshe Kramer in the year 1919, who
"quietly approached his mother (living in Soka, Transylvania) and told
her that he couldn't eat any of her food because she cooked with the
fat of geese that, because of the way they were treated, did not meet
the high kashrus standards he had learned in yeshiva in Satu Mare (which
was 50 km away from Soka).

(As the story continues, he asks his mother for forgiveness for causing
her the extra trouble of cooking in a separate pot for him. She replied,
"I have nothing to forgive you for. If, at the age of 9, you have the
discriminating mind to ask to go to a yeshivah, you don't have to request
forgiveness for anything.")

Kol tuv,
Phil Silverman

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Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 09:59:19 +0300
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
checking a sefer torah

>:> In full agreement with using scientific clarifications to determine
>:> metsius (where metsius is relevant; metsios invisible to the naked eye,
>:> for instance is another issue, such as in kashrus). Computer scanning
>:> of sifrei Torah (plus human input) is an example.

To the best of my knowledge this is not a good example. Most poskim (eg R.
Wosner) do not allow one to rely on the computer exam by itself except
as an auxilliary to a human (sofer) check.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 16:24:24 +0300
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Re: Veal and RMF

> R. Tendler wrote that the animals are "socially and emotionally
> deprived" by being kept in pens. Free range chicken advocates sound
> similar themes, but to my mind, we should not assume that animals so crave
> walks in the park and schmoozes with other animals that deprivation of
> these rises to tzaar baalei chaim.

An interesting side point: If chickens are unhappy or disturbed in any
way, their first reaction is that they stop laying eggs. Even changing
their feed causes this. In preparation for Pesach, we would start a
month before to add a small amount of "non-chametz" feed and gradually
increase the amount and decrease the wheat and/or barley slowly so that
on Pesach they would not be disturbed by a sudden change.

As for the free range advocates and R"M Tendler's "the animals are
"socially and emotionally deprived": I was informed many years ago by
R' Moshe Dison z"l, a veterinarian and very dear friend, that the best
proof that penned in chickens are sublimely happy is that they lay even
more eggs than free rangers.


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Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 16:39:19 +0300
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Re: flags with crosses

Some sixty years ago it was very common for Swiss to wear an embroidered
hat similar to a yarmulke. Thus, Jewish boys could wear a yarmulke
without being noticed as different. I first noticed this in the US among
Jewish boys who had come from Switzerland and later saw it in Switzerland.

My friends and I were shocked that these "yarmulkes" had the Swiss flag
and cross on them. The cross didn't seem to bother the boys at all.
A defect, relatively minor compared to the Swiss cross, was that the
Swiss "yarmulke" was made in four sections with the seams embroidered
with double lines. When viewed from the top, these double lines also
formed a cross.

What made these yarmulkes especially wonderful, however, is that they
had a quite long tassel instead of a button as a pitam.


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Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2006 11:48:48 -0400
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: Veal and RMF

R' Bannett wrote:
> As for the free range advocates and R"M Tendler's "the animals are
> "socially and emotionally deprived": I was informed many years ago by
> R' Moshe Dison z"l, a veterinarian and very dear friend, that the best
> proof that penned in chickens are sublimely happy is that they lay even
> more eggs than free rangers.

If it can be proved that donkeys are perfectly happy with a great load
on their backs, would it be relevant to TZBH? My understanding is that
the Issur is precisely because we have no real way of ascertaining the
condition or pain threshold of the animal, so if a practice appears to
be cruel to us, i.e. if it were something that we would determine would
cause Tza'ar to humans should the same be done to us, it is forbidden.
This is in line with the actions of TZBH being linked to Akhzarios,
and why even if something isn't technical TZBH, when Tzorekh haAdam is
involved according to Rama, it could still be Akhzarios to perform.

This explanation is along the lines of something RMB wrote a few months
back about the act of TZBH being wrong miTzad the ma'aseh itself, is it
influences people negatively.

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 10:33:53 -0400
From: "Meir Shinnar" <chidekel@gmail.com>
Fwd: Rav Kook zt"l-Seperate communities are minus

In a discussion on areivim about a statement made by a rosh yeshiva that
the meaning of birkat haminim for today, I said that according to rav
Kook, those who advocated strict separation from the nonOrthodox as a
strict matter of hashkafa were guilty of a form of minut.

People asked for the source of the statement, and how he viewed the
austritt policies of Hungary (Chatam Sofer) and Rav Hirsch.

This has been previously discussed on avoda.

the rav kook citation is from his tshuva (kuntres yishuv mishpat)
about the attempted removal of the dor revii (rav glasner) from his
rabbinic post in klausenberg,hungary.

It is partially reprinted in Maamre Hareaya, pp.55-61 (perek behilchot

 From p 58 (my translation )

    And I am surprised about the rabbis, who helped these individuals,
    that tied the reason for the separation from the general community
    to the Zionist tendencies that they found in the gaon shlita, how
    could they not look deeply that the foundation of his position is
    just from the love of klal yisrael that is embedded in his pure
    heart, that that is the greatest midda with which were blessed
    all haside elyon and gdole hadorot - leaders of Israel throughout.
    And the entire foundation of the idea of the removal of poshe Israel
    from the nation (klal hauma), it is a forbidden idea (raayon pasul)
    and the way of minut mamash, like the stam mishna of megilla 25a,
    whoever says yevarachucha tovim hare ze derech haminut, and rashi
    explained that he does not include the wicked in his praise of the
    makom, and the sages learned on critot 6b from the helbna whose
    smell was bad, and the katuv listed it in the spices for the ktoret,
    that the katuv requires that in the performance they all be together
    (beaguda achat), and the tosfot there (d"h haomer) explain that he
    removes the wicked from the klal, even though they also gave another
    explanation. And there are other commentators who explained also
    that it is because of two reshuyot, however, it is clear that both
    are divre elokim hayim., and they do not dispute the essence of the
    position, that it is forbidden to remove the poshim from klal yisrael.
    And the ture even questioned at length the other explanations, and
    proved clearly from the language of the mishna and its organization,
    that the ikkar is like perush rashi and the tosfot, that it is derech
    minut to remove the poshim from the klal.

    And even though the gdole hadorot in the dorot before us when
    reshaim arose to destroy (lekakea betzatam) sone Israel from the
    world and wanted to become similar to the nations in all their ways,
    their main intention was because those poshim started to uproot
    (lekatzez benetiot) of the unity of klal Israel, and wanted to really
    destroy the nation in its foundation, by what they did a distinct
    appearance with religious matters, and removed the name of Zion and
    Jersualem from the prayer, and strengthening the ways of the goyim,
    in the design of synagogues, and sending their hands in horaat issur
    veheter, and similarly. Therefore, the idea of separation of these
    geonim was really to strengthen the unity of the entire nation,, and
    therefore through this the poshim are included in the clal. However,
    to say that there is a fixed idea that poshim who say that Israel is
    one nation, and one has to keep the unique character of the nation,
    even though they still err in many matters because of the galut -
    to decide that they are not part of Israel, and that the nation
    includes only the good and righteous, this is derech minut, like the
    simple pshat of the mishna according to rashi and tosfot, and it is
    a bad opinion and forbidden to be in Israel according to everyone.,
    and surely it is not possible to say that what it according to rashi
    and tosfot, and the decision of gdol geone batrai the ture even,
    derech haminut should now be according to some opinions the derech
    hakodesh and derech zadikkim, rahmana litzalan from this opinion.

    And I say explicitly that I am not talking about the practical
    conduct how to act in practice in arranging communities, that that
    is something that needs to be given to the sages who are close ,
    the gdole hamedina, and every gadol and gaon in his community, that
    will weigh in scales what is the best way to establish derech hashem
    for the good of the klal, and for the good of the the torah and true
    yahadut in Israel in kdusha vetahara. But to raise a flag and declare
    that there is chas veshalom a smidgeon of a false opinion in someone
    who says, with purity of heart, about the unity of Israel bichlal, and
    that it is impossible to remove the poshim from the klal, what is the
    way of truth and the foundation of the torah, and who says opposite
    this, one has to worry that he will not be caught in derech minut,
    this every one from Israel has to object bechol levavo, nafsho umeodo.

This tshuva goes on - that minut (probably referring to Christianity
(me) in its essence is kfira in this holy principle (of the maharal about
the unity of Israel) is one that denied this holy principle, and removed
with the power ot tuman of this kfira to tarbut ra'a those who were were
straggling among us - this was the essence of the epikoros's question to
rav yehoshua ben chananaya(hagiga 5b), and therefore these evil minim -
they and their students and their student's students, and all who go
in their evil ways and their possul books and gilyonim, those who are
matil eva and tacharut ben yisrael leavihem bashamayim. (Shabbat 116a)

(me) Therefore, there is a great difference between the hatam sofer
deciding that there was a temporary need for separation, and viewing
such separation as an intrinsic ideal - with the former one can agree
or disagree (as the Netziv - rav kook's teacher, also strongly disagreed
with the Chatam sofer and RSR Hirsch) , the latter is derech haminut.

One could similarly differentiate from the tactical decision of the
rashe yeshiva in the 50s against communal participation with the non
Orthodox, to viewing such non participation as an eternal principle-
which is derech minut. Today, the latter is clearly the ideal of many -
and therefore the discussion of who is a min takes an interesting twist….

In the sefer orot, in orot hatechiya ch 20, he expresses himself far more
strongly - He compares the debate between whether to cut off the rebels
or stay united for peace to the two harlots before shlomo hamelech -
and the one who says "cut" is the one to be spurned. Lastly, those who
separate the wicked off are like Amalek - who attacked the stragglers
disgorged by anane hakavod.

This therefore raises who we should have kavava for in birkat haminim....

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 09:54:54 -0500
From: "Kohn, Shalom" <skohn@Sidley.com>
Tzaar Ba'alei Chaim

On the subject of Tzaar Ba'alei Chaim and veal, Jacob Farkas wrote:
> Pardon me for pointing out that testimony from Shokhtim on this matter
> is the fairness equivalent of my using PETA as a source that veal calves
> are mistreated....

1. I know and can vouch for the integrity of the shochtim I was quoting.

2. If you don't trust shochtims' word on this issue, I don't know how
you can trust them that their shechita is kosher.

He also wrote:
>In any case, reports about the mistreatment of calves is not R'
> Tendler's Hiddush, it is well known, and has been a cause of great
> controversy between cattle farmers and animal welfare advocates for years.

The magic words here are "animal welfare advocates"

He also wrote:  
> The greater question is your argument against human projection in the
> evaluation of TZBH. See an earlier discussion:
> <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol16/v16n166.shtml#09>

Not germane. The issue there was whether human suffering (by humans)
is deemed Tzaar Ba'alei Chaim.

He also wrote:
> Inasmuch as the Torah asked to intervene on behalf of animals we
> perceive are suffering, it is only human projection that can determine or
> estimate an animal's pain. Animals don't communicate, so how do we know
> that Roveitz Tahas Masa'o is TZBH, only because we perceive it to be so,
> based on our own experience given in that situation.

Let's see. How many humans would like to be attached to an oxcart and
pull it through the streets? How about having their faces muzzled,
wear a saddle, have their lactating organs attached to a machine, kept
in a bird cage, hit (even lightly) with a whip to go faster, be kept on
a leash, etc.? Humans can certainly intuit about animal suffering based
on the animal's reaction and some common sense, but I would submit that
"Da'alach Sanei Le-Chavrach Lo Sa'avid" is a halacha about "Chavrach,"
and animals do not fit that category.

Finally, he wrote:
> On another note, this isn't the first instance where I hear of T'shuvos
> in Igros Moshe being challenged on RMF mistake of fact (according to
> those challenging his p'saq on that given matter, of course). Is this a
> common challenge to Posqim, and RMF in particular, when all other logical
> approaches fail, or was RMF often misled? Should the latter be true,
> what does that say about the Siyata Dishmaya of a Poseq, particularly
> one who is crowned as Poseq haDor?

1. Rav Moshe would be the first to say that if the facts are not as he
assumed, the p'sak would not be the same.

2. He would probably also be the first to say that although he hoped for
"siyata d'ismaya," his words were not vested with nevu'ah. One hallmark
of the man was his intellectual honesty.

3. Castigating those who dispute the factual basis for a psak as somehow
not in good faith is unfair at best. On the other side of the coin,
assuming that Rav Moshe gave a heter and a metziut changed, would we
adhere to his heter regardless? We know, for example, that Rav Moshe
drank NYC water. For those who now question that water's kashrut, do we
say that tzaddikim are never nichshal on treifos (see sugya and tosafot
re: Pinchas ben Yair's donkey), or do we say the facts have changed?

                           Shalom L. Kohn

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