Avodah Mailing List

Volume 22: Number 14

Thu, 21 Dec 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 10:40:28 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Kosher Food vs. Lifnei Iver

R' Chanani Sandler asked if there is a problem of giving food to a
non-religious Jew because he won't make a beracha.

Here is an analysis of some of the sources.

The gemara in Avoda Zara (6b) learns out from the pasuk of lifnei e'ver that
you are not allowed to give a Nazir wine. The gemara concludes that this is
only in a case of tre ivra d'nahara  (literally 2 sides of the river),
meaning he cannot do the issur without you, but in a case of chad ivra
d'nahara  (literally 1 side of the river), where he could do the issur
without you (he could ask his neighbor for wine) it is permitted. Tosafos
paskens like this, that whenever he can do the aveira without you it is
permitted and there is no lifnei e'ver. The Ran there comments that although
there is no prohibition of lifnei e'ver, it is still prohibited m'drabbanan
because of m'sayeah l'ovrei aveira, you are helping him do an aveira.

The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah Siman 151 paskens like the Ran, that even
if he can do the issur without you it is prohibited. The Rama there comments
that yesh omrim like Tosafos that it is permitted v'chen nohagim. However,
many of the acharonim disagree with the Rama (Magen Avraham, Shach, Gra) and
pasken like the Ran because Tosafos in other places assumes that there is an
issur d'rabbanan in such a situation.

The Shach as explained by the Dagul Mer'vava has a very important kula. The
Shach says that there is no machlokes between Tosafos and the Ran. Tosafos
is talking about a case where he is doing the aveira b'meizid and therefore
there is no issur of helping him do an aveira while the Ran is talking about
a case of shogeg and therefore there is an issur d'rabbanan to help him.

It comes out according to the Shach that whenever the person is doing the
aveira b'meizid and/or there is no way for you to stop him, it is mutar to
give him the issur if he could do the issur without you.

R' Akiva Eiger takes a different tack regarding lifnei e'ver. In Yoreh Deah
Siman 151 sif 6 the Shulchan Aruch writes that it is prohibited for a woman
to cut off the payists of a man according to some opinions. R' Akiva Eiger
comments that according to everyone there would be an issur of lifnei e'ver
on the woman. He then states the following chiddush. If the man could cut
his own payists and is going to do it, the woman can cut them for him and
will not violate lifnei e'ver. He explains as follows. If the man cuts his
own payists, he violates 2 issurim, makif and nikaf. If the woman cuts them,
he only violates the issur of nikaf and not makif. Meaning, that if the
woman cuts them she is saving him from an additional aveira and therefore
there is no issur lifnei e'ver as her action is saving him from an
additional aveira.

It comes out according to R' Akiva Eiger that if your action reduces the
total number or severity of aveiros committed then there is no issur of
lifnei e'ver.

R' Moshe (Yoreh Deah siman 72) discusses the following case. A religious
caterer asked him if he is allowed to cater an affair where there will be
mixed dancing. Is there a problem of lifnei e'ver?

R' Moshe answered that it is allowed for 2 reasons:
1. We pasken like the Shach as explained by the Dagul M'revava and therefore
in this case where they are doing it b'meizid (and they would not listen to
you) it would be permitted.
2. This is not lifnei e'ver. The classic case of lifnei e'ver is where you
give someone or help someone do an aveira. Here your action is perfectly
mutar both for you and the other person. You don't have to worry that he
will use it for an aveira. If that was the case (that you have to worry that
he will use it for an aveira) then R' Moshe asks how can you sell anything
to a non-religious Jew? If you sell him a pot, he will use it for non-kosher
food or basar v'chalav, etc. Yet, no one thinks that there is an issur of
lifnei e'ver there. The reason is because since your action is perfectly
mutar for both you and him therefore there is no lifnei e'ver.

Based on the above we can answer our original question about giving a
non-religious Jew food. It would seem to be permitted for the following

1. R' Akiva Eiger - RSZA (Minchas Shlomo Siman 35) was asked this question
and was matir for the following reason. He explained that if you don't give
him food he will be insulted and he will violate a bigger aveira, lo sisna
es achecha. Therefore based on R' Akiva Eiger's reasoning (your action saves
him from a bigger aveira) it would be permitted.
2. It seems that we pasken like the Shach (at least by issurim d'rabbanan)
and therefore here where he is a meizid it would be mutar. R' Moshe relies
on the Shach as does R' Shternbuch.
3. R' Moshe's sevara applies here as well. You are giving him food which he
is allowed to eat. You don't have to worry that he will do an aveira with
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Message: 2
From: Shmuel Zajac <s.zajac@verizon.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 19:22:36 -0500
[Avodah] Kosher Food vs. Lifnei Iver

Well, Kosher is D'oraisa, and Birchas HaNehenin are D'Rabanan.  I would 
think that this has to come into play.  Also, I would guess that if he's 
going to eat something at that point, then that should make a difference.

-- Kayza

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Message: 3
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 18:53:06 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Prophet - mashgiach or godol hador?

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> BTW, in the shiur from R' Eli Heidad from YHE
> <http://vbm-torah.org/archive/rambam/06rambam.htm> he asks the question "Did
> the Rambam think he acheived prophecy?" He lists indications originally given
> by Heschel that the answer is "yes". Such as a letter from a talmid asking for
> instruction as to how to reach nevu'ah himself. A comment on the introduction
> to the Moreh cheleq I, where he speaks of nevu'ah in the first person, "But
> sometimes truth flashes out to us so that we think that it is day, and then
> matter and habit in their various forms conceal it so that we find ourselves
> again in an obscure night." Etc... See the shiur, the question is a section
> header.
The conjecture of Heschel is rather far fetched - especially since the 
Rambam relates in Letter to Yemen that he has a family tradition that 
prophecy will be restored in 1210-1216. That implies that up until that 
point there is no prophecy. Rambam died in 1204. On the other hand - 
aside for this mention of family tradition - the Rambam nowhere states 
prophecy ceased. It is also interesting that the family history the 
Rambam mentions is actually a Yerushalmi.(Shabbos 6:9).

Daniel Eidensohn

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Message: 4
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 01:02:25 EST
Re: [Avodah] Historu of Havarah

RMB writes:
>>RMF also makes some historical claims that are hard for me to  understand:

1- He says that from Matan Torah until churban bayis rishon  there was
only one havarah. What about sheivet Ephraim, who couldn't say the  /sh/
of "shibolet"?<<

Some people say it was not a different accent but a speech defect  that was 
common among the people of Ephraim.

--Toby  Katz
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Message: 5
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 00:54:46 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Yetzer HoRa Issues

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> So it would seem to me that people consistently define YH as a
> yeitzer whose results tend to be evil: impulsivity, unbridled
> imagination (both in contrast to seichel), hedonism (in contrast
> to sanctity), etc... Not one whose actions are defined as a draw
> to evil itself.

Great! Now, we can attempt to fine-tune it a bit...

The way I put it was that the YH is a drive to do the things which 
one understands to be evil, regardless of whether or not they 
actually *are* evil.

I must confess to having reservations about that definition.

Can it really be that a person is driven to do things which he 
himself considers to be evil?

"Ayn adam mesim atzmo rosho." Not only is it rare for a person to 
confess that he committed a certain act, but it seems to me that a 
person will rarely (if ever) admit (even to himself) that the act he 
committed was evil. Rather, he will maintain that it was actually a 
noble act, or at least a justifiable one.

Furthermore, I believe that it is very rare (if ever) that a person 
will even be tempted to do a thing *because* he feels it to be wrong. 
If a person views a certain act as wrong (whether others see it as 
wrong or not) it will be repulsive to him (to some degree or another) 
simply by virtue of his seeing it as wrong.

What can happen, though, is that a certain act will appear attractive 
to him, even though he understands it to be a wrong act. This is a 
temptation of the yetzer hara. But he is attracted and tempted 
*despite* the evil, not *because* of it. There is some sort of profit 
or gain from the action, and *that* is what is tempting him. If this 
yetzer hara is strong enough, he will see - or invent - reasons to 
justify doing the act. He may well be mistaken, or may even be 
fooling himself, but that is very different than actually wanting to 
do evil.

I suspect that what I've written so far is merely an expanded version 
of what RMB wrote.

At this point, I'd like to mention a quote from Rav Noach Weinberg of 
Aish HaTorah. Unfortunately, I cannot quote directly, because I 
cannot find a copy of this thought which I remember so clearly. (It 
might have been from the Rolling Stone article. Anyway, he says a 
very similar idea in different words on pg 28 of What The Angel 
Taught You.) So I'll quote from memory:

"What is the opposite of pleasure? Pain? No, pain is not the 
*opposite* of pleasure; pain is a *prerequisite* for pleasure. 
Pleasure *involves* pain. Nothing worthwhile is painless. The 
opposite of pleasure is *boredom*."

I cite this not because I want to discuss pleasure and pain, but 
because I want to expand our concept of "opposite". Perhaps the 
opposite of "the drive to do good" is NOT "the drive to do evil".

Perhaps the yetzer hara is not a drive to be evil, but a drive to be 

When I imagine a generic example of someone who is controlled by his 
yetzer hara, I do not see some who is hellbent on evil and 
destruction; that would describe a mindless monster, not a misguided 
ben adam.

Rather, someone who is controlled by his yetzer hara is someone who 
does what he wants, for reasons which appeal to him. It's not that he 
is *trying* to be evil, but that he doesn't *care* whether he is 
doing right or wrong. Or, more precisely, he defines "good" in his 
own way -- will this benefit his family, his friends, himself -- 
without caring whether or not G-d or society deem it to be good or 

Es chato'ai ani mazkir hayom -- How often have I said, or thought, "I 
really ought to be doing ABC, and not XYZ, but I just don't care."

If the opposite of pleasure is boredom, then then the opposite of 
altruism is indifference.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 06:15:33 -0500
[Avodah] Ufortzu Chomos Migdalai

 From my blog.

A Thought About Maoz Tzur

Posted: 20 Dec 2006 10:41 PM CST

One line in Maoz Tzur I particularly love. The 5th verse of Maoz Tzur
describes the Chanukah story. One phrase in this verse is ufortzu
chomos migdalai, which would be literally translated and they opened up
the walls of my citadel. Mentally, I always pictured breaking down the
walls of the Beis haMiqdosh, or perhaps a fortress. However, I found the
following Mishna in Middos (Ch. 2, mishnah 2 in the Yachin uBoaz edition,
mishnah 3 in Kahatis who splits up the YuBs mishna 1 into 2 parts). The
second chapter describes the Beis haMiqdosh as it would appear to someone
walking in from outside the Temple Mount to the Altar. This mishna picks
up right after you walk through the gate and onto the Temple Mount.

Inside of it is the soreg, 10 tefachim [appx 26] high. It had thirteen
peratzos (broken openings) there, that the Hellenist kings partzum (broke
open). They returned and closed them off, and legislated corresponding
to them 13 prostrations.

To help you picture what a soreg is, the root means woven. The Bartenura
describes the soreg as a mechitzah woven out of thin wooden slats running
at diagonals. The Bartenura compares it to the part of the bed used to
support the mattress, with plenty of open space inside the weave.

He goes on to say that the Hellenists opened up holes in the soreg
opposite each of the gates in the outer wall to let anyone see in. Note
the shoresh used /p-r-tz/, the same as in the piyut. The soreg marked the
limit for gentiles, they were not allowed in beyond that point. To the
Hellenist mind, this havdalah bein Yisrael laAmim, separation between
the Jews and the other nations, was repugnant. It ran against their
assimilationist efforts.

Chomos migdalei, the walls of my citadel, were not the mighty walls around
the Temple Mount or the walls of a fortress. They were a see-through
mechitzah, the realization that the Jew, as one of the Mamleches Kohanim,
has a higher calling.

(Everything above this point was published 8-Dec-2004. The following
is new.)

One possible reaction to assimilation is to build up the fortress
walls. We can hope to stave off negative influences by reducing out
exposure to the outside world. The idea that we need to stay distinct
is not necessarily one that isnt heard, but perhaps one that we are
overly stressing.

I think this too is a message of the soreg. Yes, there is a separation
between Jew and non-Jew, but it is only waist high and woven of slats
with far more space than wood. The walls of my fortress are a reminder,
not a solid barrier.

We are charged to be G-ds mamlekhes kohanim vegoy qadosh a country of
priests and a holy nation. We need to balance the separation implied by
the concept of qedushah with our role as qohanim, a priesthood providing
religious leadership. We can not be priests if we do not stay to our
special calling, but our special calling is self-indulgent if we do not
use it to serve others. Ki miTzion teitzei Sorah because from Zion the
Torah shall come forth. By wallling ourselves in we not only protect
ourselves, we prevent ourselves from teaching others.

This is an important facet of R SR Hirschs concept of Torah im Derekh
Eretz. Yes, it does mean that we are to import derekh eretz, the ennobling
elements of our surrounding culture and its sciences. But it also means
that we are are to be the worlds moral voice, to contribute to the
nobility of that society.

Noach blessed two of his sons, Yaft E-lokim leYefes, veyishkon beohalei
Sheim G-d gave beauty to Yefes, and dwells in the tents of Sheim. To
Rav Hirsch, this is a description of a partnership, Yefess mastery of
derekh eretz and Sheims spiritual gifts.

Unfortunately, by building up the fortress walls, we miss many
opportunities to act as a priesthood. It is a shame that its not the
most observant Jews who are most vocal about Darfur. If we accuse the
world for their silence during the Holocaust, then people who feel that
the events in Darfur do qualify as genocide can not stand by when it
happens to someone else. How much more so if we recognize ourselves as
kohanim to the world!

Similarly, helping out at the local soup kitchen. Earlier today I received
an invitation from a synagogue to serve meals there. I was disappointed,
although not surprised, to see that the synagogue was not Orthodox. Yes,
we need to worry about Jewish causes; there are far more people out there
to see to the general need. But I was proud of the local Young Israel,
who used to staff a similar kitchen on days like the upcoming Monday
(Dec 25th), when non-Jewish volunteers tend to have family obligations.

Antiochus breached the soreg in an attempt to unify his empire as a
melting pot, everyone Hellenized. This would have destroyed our goy
qadosh, our nations unique voice in the world. However, the ideal soreg
defines a distinction, not forces a separation. Once the tile that is
the Jewish people, our role as teachers, moral guides and a conduit
of sanctity, is protected and intact, then it can and must be part of
Hashems glorious mosaic. Only by having a serug can we balance integrity
and priesthood.

The word migdalai not only means my towers or my citadels, it can also
be read those things that make me great. Only by having both separation
and contact can the walls of our miqdashei meat, our synagogues and
batei medrash, truly be chomos migdalai.

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Message: 7
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 10:20:51 +0200
[Avodah] zman hadloko erev shabbos and motzei shabbos

R' Danny Schoeman wrote:
I don't get it. Chazal "invented" this mitzva and were fully aware of
the Shabbos issues. There's not a chance that they requested us to go
<anywhere near chillul Shabbas to light Chanuka candles.

I think you missed his point. If you really pasken like R"T then it is
vaday day for at least 58.5 minutes after shkia so there is no
chashash of chillul shabbos. The only problem that I have with this is
that no one really paskens like R"T today, everyone is at least
choshesh for the Gra l'chumra and then you do have an issue with
chillul shabbos.
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Message: 8
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 10:24:24 +0200
Re: [Avodah] zman hadloko erev Shabbos and motzoei Shabbos

R' Zev Sero wrote:
<he is in fact explicitly **rejecting** RT's shita

R' Moshe wrote that 50 minutes in NY is a kiyum of R"T's shita, he did not
reject R"T at all. His shita is very difficult and basically untenable in
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Message: 9
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 10:26:17 +0200
Re: [Avodah] zman hadloko erev Shabbos and motzoei Shabbos

R' M. Willig has a superb piece about zmanei hayom in his sefer Am
Mordechai, I highly recommend that everyone who is interested in this topic
read it. His maskana will probably surprise many of you.
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Message: 10
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 08:32:39 +0200
Re: [Avodah] zman hadloko erev shabbos and motzei shabbos

R' Akiva Blum wrote:

I don't understand this cheshbon.
Accoring to RT, visable shkiah is irrelavant. It should follow that
calculating the length of a 'hour' would include the 72 minutes after
shkiah and 72 before haneitz. Total minutes in a day is 864 (instead
of 720 acc. To Gra).
One hour is 864/12=72 minutes. One and a quater hours is 72*1.25=90
minutes. So plag is 90 minutes before 72 after shkiah which is... 18
minutes (zmanios, in the winter)  before shkiah.

<Where did I go wrong?

The Rishonim (Ramban, Rashba) say explicitly that plag hamincha is 1/6
of a mil before shkia which is approximately 3 minutes before shkia.
Based on this and other calculations R' Willig (he printed this in his
sefer on berachos and Shabbos) claims that according to these Rishonim
a mil is 22.5 minutes and therefore tzeis is 90 minutes after shkia.
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Message: 11
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 12:09:05 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Prophet - mashgiach or godol hador?

According to the Rambam a prophet has the status of a prophet only when he 
is prophesying in God's name.  The rest of the time he's a normal civilian, 
and he is entitled to any position he's qualified for, including head of the 
Sanhedrin (e.g., Shmuel) or king (e.g., melech hamashiah).

According to the Sefer Hahinnuch as understood by the Minhath Hinnuch 
(henceforth SHAUBTMH) a prophet always has the status of a prophet.

It seems to me that RDE's deductions go far beyond these premeses.

From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@012.net.il>

> My suggestion is that the Rambam views the prophet in the same way as we 
> view a mashgiach - in relationship to to a rosh yeshiva or a magid in 
> relationship to a rav. Someone who advises or suggest rather than having a 
> position of leadership. Someone who is sensitive, wise and insightful  - 
> but doesn't have political or decision making power.

The problem with this is that, as I pointed out above, the Rambam doesn't 
restrict what a prophet does when he isn't prophesying.  In fact he can be a 
king or a member of the Sanhedrin.

Rather, the plausible understanding is that the Rambam assigns no role to a 
prophet who is not prophesying simply because he's not a prophet then.  When 
he acts as a prophet he is no longer himself, he is God's emissary, and in 
that circumstance we are obliged to obey him..

This is why RDF is wrong when he says:

From: <dfinch847@aol.com>
> By Rambam, the prophet is a prescient intellectual who would know when to 
> invoke G-d's command and when to invoke the lesser province of reason and 
> argument.

The prophet has no (halachic) choice: he violates halacha if he prophesies 
when not so instructed by God and if he fails to prophesy when so instructed 
by God.

Back to RDE:

> In contrast we today view our gedollim as being endowed with ruach 
> hakodesh.

I don't know who you mean by "we".  I'm not sure, however, that the Rambam 
would necessarily dispute the possibility of ruah hakodesh in this context. 
See MN II:45, the first and second degrees.

> A specific example is that the Rambam does not allow the involvement of 
> ruach hakodesh in the Sanhedrin while the Ramban does.

Where is this Ramban? The Rambam doesn't proscribe ruah hakodesh, he just 
proscribes other members of the Sanhedrin letting it influence them.

> Another distinguishing factor between the Rambam's concept and others is 
> whether the prophet must be obeyed in everything he says or just what he 
> says in G-d's name.

Other than the SHAUBTMH I don't know of anyone who says this.  Are there 
explicit sources? It's true that Halevi says that a prophet is qualitatively 
different from a normal person, but so does the Rambam.

David Riceman 


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