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Volume 22: Number 4

Wed, 06 Dec 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: akiva.atwood@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 08:26:41 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Avodah Digest, Vol 5, Issue 2

> 6.     What happens at thirteen that makes the yetzer ha'tov come to 
> life?  Is it biological? Is it related to sexual development? 
>  Is it social?

Both (at least that's what we learned in cultural anthropolgy).

Throughout history (until the early 20th century) people were married
shortly after puberty. 

Puberty -- and the social expectations on the "soon-to-be" husband/father --
force the person into a more responsible course of action.

Societies where marriage is later have a much higher teen crime rate.

There are two kinds of speeches and two kinds of silences. Speech is either
truth or a falsification, and silence is either fruition or heedlessness. If
one speaks the truth, his words are better than his silence, but he who
invents falsifications, his silence is better than his speech.

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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 17:37:23 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Swimming

> AFAIK they didn't. I know that my zeide never taught my father to swim,
> and nor did my elter-zeide teach my zeide, and I'm pretty sure that goes
> back many generations, and nobody seems to have raised an objection from
> the gemara in kiddushin, probably because it's not brought down
> lehalacha.
> Zev Sero

But why wasn't it? It appears as a yesh omrim in the braita which is
brought down in the rosh and rif? Shouldn't it be at least a very good
eitzah to be choshesh for?

Joel Rich

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Message: 3
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 23:14:12 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Putting oneself in danger

R' Chaim Manaster wrote:
> In parshas Matos I noticed a vort in  Torah Lodas from the Panim Yafos
> that does clair such shailos. The Yalkut on  Vayitzbu al Midyan ... They
> surrounded them on four sides. R. Nosson says  they left the fourth side
> open "kedai sheyivrechu," so that they c[s]hould  run away. He asks why
> should R. Nosson allow them to get away? [gave a long  answer]<<
Please excuse me if I'm saying something so obvious that of /course/ you
already knew this, but -- the pshat is, if you don't allow a defeated
enemy an escape route, you corner him and force him to fight to the
death -- thus leading to unnecessary deaths among your own men.

 -Toby  Katz

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Message: 4
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 12:34:18 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Sinai - Rambam - heard all or nothing?

Zvi Lampel wrote:
> Another suggestion: Evidently, we are forced to say that even when 
> Rambam in Mishneh Torah states they heard Hashem telling Moshe [to] 
> tell them kach ve?kach, the Rambam must mean not that they were able 
> to distinguish clear words from Hashem, but only that they apprehended 
> His awesome Voice. Once we assume this, the "kach ve-kach" can be 
> referring to Hashem?s instructions as the people actually perceived 
> them: When witnessing the Voice, they did not distinctly discern what 
> specifics Hashem was telling Moshe to convey to them. This is what the 
> Rambam means when he says they perceived that Hashem was telling Moshe 
> to tell them ??something??--"kach ve-kach."
This does not fit in with the language of Mishneh Torah and if they only 
heard an awesome sound - without content it would not have convinced the 
people that Moshe was a true prophet. This is the view of the following:

Rashba (4:234): ... The only remaining option for clarifying the truth 
of Moshe's prophecy was by their own prophecy and this is what in fact 
occurred at the Revelation of Sina when they final established the 
truth.  The second reason is that G?d said to Moshe (Shemos 19:9) 
/Behold I come to you in a thick cloud in order that the people will 
hear Me speaking with you so they may believe in you forever./ It is 
well known that the physical senses can not detect G?d speaking with His 
prophets. Therefore if G?d had spoken with a physical voice ? even one 
that was very powerful and awesome and greater than that of the sound of 
the shofar, thunder and fire ? it would not have removed their original 
doubts. It would not have been more impressive than the Splitting of the 
Sea and so therefore how would it have helped. Therefore it was obvious 
that that voice that G?d spoke to Moshe with must have been prophetic 
rather than physical.

Shaoh(Mesechta Shavuos #77): ... In order to understand the previous 
issue it is necessary to explain clearly the nature of the receiving of 
the Torah and the importance of each generation who were there and each 
one received his portion in the Torah. Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:33) 
states that the sound that was perceived by the Jews at Sinai was 
something created? However it is prohibited to accept such a view. In 
fact the sound was the voice of G?d which He made heard from Heaven. I 
have previously alluded to the issue of Heaven which is the glory of 
Israel and the foundation of the Written Law. Also regarding the hearing 
of the voice at the holy assembly of Sinai, whether that which Moshe 
heard was also heard by the people or not ? the Rambam?s explanation is 
not acceptable. He incorrecly asserts that only Moshe clearly heard the 
words while the people heard only an unintelligble sound. Rambam claims 
that Moshe told the people what he alone had heard.  Rambam bases 
himself on  Devarim(5:5): ?I stood between G?d and you?, and Shemos 
(19:19): ?Moshe spoke and G?d answered with a sound? and ?In order that 
the people hear when I am speaking with you.? Rambam understands from 
these verses that G?d spoke only to him while the people heard only an 
unintelligble sound

Avodas HaKodesh(4:31): Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:33) says that the 
awesome sound which Israel heard at Sinai and through which the Torah 
was given ? was created. He explains this in Moreh Nevuchim (1:65): 
?This is especially so since all our people agree that the Torah - the 
words ascribed to Him ? was itself created. In fact speech which is 
attributed to Him ? that which Moshe heard ? was created and produced by 
G?d in the same manner that He created and produced everything else in 
the universe.? The intent according the commentaries is that if He has 
speech then the Torah is His speech and since the Torah is created He 
has no speech?.The explanation of the Rambam is a dark mountain which 
causes the feet of the believers to stumble and causes them to deviate 
from the path of the Torah. That is because they have doubts about this 
Voice which the Rambam says was created. I have already seen the 
commentators to the Rambam?s words saying, ?And all of Israel heard the 
voice that was created by Moshe as the messenger of G?d?? This harmful 
view has been taught to them a number of times in Moreh Nevuchim (2:33). 
This view of the Rambam has caused much problems by undermining proper 
faith. For example according to the Rambam?s view one can say that there 
were greatly different voices that were created for Moshe and Israel. 
But where did the voice for Moshe by which he alone heard the Ten 
Commandments come from? If it came from G?d then why didn?t Israel hear 
it after they reached a high level of spirituality. The distinction 
between Moshe and the people according to the Rambam is that only Moshe 
understood the words but they only heard the Voice but not the words. 
However something which is created would not be beyond their ability to 
perceive when they were on the level to receive the Torah and it would 
not be necessary for Moshe to create a special voice for them. If in 
fact Moshe had created a voice for them it would create doubts for them. 
For example they would have doubts as to whether it was Moshe who gave 
them the Torah rather than G?d. In fact there is a medrash which states 
that G?d acted to prevent any doubts as to whether Moshe was the giver 
of the Torah rather than G?d.  Shemos Rabbah (28:3) states...
> (By the way, the Sefer HaIkarrim (3:19) says that the people heard 
> Hashem telling Moshe, ??Tell them to go return to their tents...?? 
> This corresponds to his own shita--not the Rambam?s--that the first 
> two dibros the people heard Hashem saying clearly, the rest of the 
> dibros they heard only the His Voice and needed Moshe to delineate the 
> words, and the rest of the 613 mitzvos they heard only from Moshe.)
Sefer HaIkkarim is 1:18.  It is the basis of Rav Hutner's (Pachad 
Yitzchok (Shavuos 1:2) discussion of the issue - but it doesn't seem to 
solve the above problem.

> The Moreh Nevuchim does not say that the people did not hear G-d 
> speaking, only that although they heard his Voice, they were not at 
> the prophetic level to make out the words. I share the objections 
> other rishonim to the Rambam?s shita (the Abarbanel can be added to 
> the list). But I think RDG would point out that a careful reading of 
> the Mishneh Torah tolerates the Moreh Nevuchim?s shita: 
> The Rambam is explaining why Yisrael believed in the fact that Hashem 
> speaks to Mosheh, and the invalidity of his miracles for this purpose. 
> The proof that Hashem communicated with Moshe is not the fact that we 
> saw Moshe performing miracles, but our witnessing the awesome sights 
> and sounds at Mt. Sinai. The symmetry indicates that what one might 
> have thought the miracles verified--the authenticity of Moshe as a 
> prophet, the fact that Hashem speaks to Moshe--was really verified by 
> the Sinai experience. The verification was not dependent upon our 
> hearing distinct words, only knowing that the Voice did indeed speak 
> to Moshe. Therefore, even though the words spoken were 
> indistinguishable, we definitely "overheard" a conversation going on 
> between Hashem and Moshe (??Moshe y?daber, va-Hashem ya?anennu 
> b?Kol??), and that is all that was needed for us to know that Hashem 
> spoke with him.
> Granted, this is not the sense I would have gotten from the Mishneh 
> Torah without seeing the Moreh Nevuchim. But as I said, it?s 
> tolerable. I would also like to call attention to how the Moreh 
> Nevuchim, particularly in the passage under discussion, bases every 
> statement on Chazal.
I don't understand your point. If they heard a sound associated with 
Gd's speaking than in a technical sense they heard G-d speaking. However 
the proof of Mishneh Torah is only a proof if they heard G-d's words. 
Moreh Nevuchim rules out that possibility. Your understanding is that 
the sound was a miraculous sound and that convinced them. But the Rambam 
clearly says that miracles are not the basis of their belief in Moshe's 

In sum: If Rambam is consistent with Moreh Nevuchim there is no proof 
for the skeptical Jews that Moshe was speaking with G-d. This point is 
developed thoroughly by the above sources.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Message: 5
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 14:03:37 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Whether a super-rich person may give more than

> Interesting - permitted versus what does HKB"H want from me?
> Any sources (should one on his deathbed give it all away for his zchut
> and let his children do their best for themselves?)
> Joel Rich

According to S"A YD 249:1: One should not give more than 20% of his
earnings, lest he become poor and dependent upon the community. However,
he is permitted to give away as much as he wishes at the time of his
death, because at that point, that fear no longer exists. (This is also
implicit in Kesubos 67b.)

A number of achronim have written that a super wealthy individual
("ashir muflag") is not bound by the 20% limit, because he has no fear
of becoming poor.

Kol tuv,

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Message: 6
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 14:01:10 -0400
Re: [Avodah] RYBS and chazakah tav l'meitav

[I found some material that fell through the cracks when we were
switching servers. My apologies for the huge delay. Hopefully someone
will still remember context. -mi]

> RAL answered (27:40 on the MP3) that not all chazakos of chazal are
> eternal and that RYBS spoke merely about this sort of chazakah, which
> describes how Hashem created women (i.e., it is ontological).
> Moshe

IIRC in the original talk R'YBS made this point based on this being
clearly stated in the torah "and thy desire shall be to thy husband"

Joel Rich

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Message: 7
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 10:32:53 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Yichud and fostering

RnCL ended her post with the following (which I forgot to address before
hitting send):
> And presumably if the child was placed with a non Jewish family there
> are all the issurim of allowing a chinuch aged child to eat treifus and
> violate shabbas ... as a kal v'chomer, it would seem surprising that a
> prevention of the violation of what must be at most a single d'rabbanan
> should be allowed to potentially cause the violation of many shabbasos
> and countless other d'orisas... .  And might there not also be some
> justification to say that this is a kind of a case of pidyon shevuim?

My wife asked the same R' Dovid Cohen but almost 20 years before that shiur
was taped about accepting phone calls on Shabbos. Siggy is part of a network
of people who find Jewish homes for Jewish children (mostly special needs).
RDC recommended she get a second line just for that purpose, and then accept
all calls to that line. When there is a tight timeline, phone calling to find
a home should start immediately not waiting for havdalah Finding a Jewish
family for a child before the state finds a non-Jewish one is an issue of
hatzalas nefashos. So, the comparison you make in the last line is in accord
with his pesaq, perhaps overly *weak* or perhaps we can't divorce the risk of
shemad from piqyon shevuyim.

BUT, that's adoption, not foster care. AND, it's about finding /any/ Jewish
home. Nidon didan is a home where there is no parent of the same gender as the
child. So, the heter isn't versus a non-Jewish home or one where kashrus and
Shabbos etc... aren't observed kehalakhah. It's versus the risk of not finding
an observant home with fewer yichud issues.

And yet again: If everyone reading RnCL's words would realize the severity of
the issue and therefore start seriously considering foster care, the agency
would have no problem saving this woman for placing girls. It's only because
there aren't enough foster parents among us rachmanim, bayshanim vegomelei
chasadim compared to the need that there was a she'eilah asked.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Spirituality is like a bird: if you tighten
micha@aishdas.org        your grip on it, it chokes; slacken your grip,
http://www.aishdas.org   and it flies away.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 8
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 07:07:33 -0500
[Avodah] Yetzer HoRa Issues

10) Many children do seem to have a desire to do good. How can this 
be explained, if they do not yet have a Yetzer Tov?

11) Has anyone noticed (either in themselves or in someone else) that 
this desire to do good either appears or gets stronger at bar/bas 
mitzvah age?

12) Many cartoons feature scenes in which a character is trying to 
make a decision, and observes the argument between an angel on one 
shoulder, and a satan on the other, trying to influence that 
character to do right or to do wrong. If children do not yet have a 
yetzer tov, how can we explain the fact that children understand this 
metaphor and can relate to it?

Responses to:
10) It would be analogous to a cocoon or a flower seed.  The cocoon is a potential butterfly (or whatever insect) and the flower seed is a potential flower.  The child doesn't have a fully developed yetzer tov, but the potential and bud is there. 

11) Just as the desire to do good gets stronger at bar/bat mitzvah age, so too, does the desire to do bad also increases.  Hence, the battle is harder.

12) Your question may not apply to many children. I'm sure there are many children who do not understand this metaphor and cannot relate to it.  And those that do, merely reflects the differences in everyone and the rate of growth is not the same for everyone.  Just as some children at 12 or 13 are short for their age and others are tall. Also, as explained in my response to question 10), the assumption that children do not yet have the yetzer tov is erroneous.

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