Avodah Mailing List
Volume 23: Number 54
Sun, 18 Mar 2007
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
From: saul mashbaum <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 22:37:54 +0200
Subject: [Avodah] Microphones on Shabbos
RMB wrote, regarding microphones on Shabbat:
I do not believe the teshuvos are *based* on the problems. Rather, there was a
gut instinct that it doesn't fit with the gestalt of hilkhos Shabbos. Then it
was a matter of reasoning through why that is.
Which would explain why so many poseqim reached the same conclusion through
such different means -- hav'arah, bishul, makeh bepatish, boneh... The
reasoning is actually ex post facto, justifying something they knew to be true
in some ineffable way, the gefeel of din.
In his most recent weekly shiur, Rav Asher Zelig Weiss expressed himself about electricity in almost exactly the same terms as RMB does here: the prohibition was determined first, and then the poskim looked around for a category to fit it into.
He cited a Yerushalmi (which unfortunately I cannot quote pefectly accurately) in which chazal categorized actions forbidden on Shabbat; any activity they knew, apparently intuitively, was prohibited which they could not fit into one of the other categories was classified as makeh-b'patish. This illustrates the concept that in some cases,the prohibition anteceded the classification.
I think it's fair to say that he indicated that this phenomenon is uncommon, but he was emphatic that it definitely exists.
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From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 23:05:17 -0400
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Microphones on Shabbos
In his most recent weekly shiur, Rav Asher Zelig Weiss expressed himself
about electricity in almost exactly the same terms as RMB does here: the
prohibition was determined first, and then the poskim looked around for
a category to fit it into.
He cited a Yerushalmi (which unfortunately I cannot quote pefectly
accurately) in which chazal categorized actions forbidden on Shabbat;
any activity they knew, apparently intuitively, was prohibited which
they could not fit into one of the other categories was classified as
makeh-b'patish. This illustrates the concept that in some cases,the
prohibition anteceded the classification.
I think it's fair to say that he indicated that this phenomenon is
uncommon, but he was emphatic that it definitely exists.
I have heard him say the same thing but I think Micha's point iiuc was
that this is a more general phenomena. (I would guess this is what R'
YBS was referring to when he commented on the broad flexibility
available to the chochmai hamesora)
BTW R'AZW also iirc said given the technology explosion we need a broad
shouldered creative thinker (iirc he mentioned like the Rashba) who
could deal with all the new questions.
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From: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 04:04:53 GMT
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Nefilas Apaim in Yerushalayim
R' Danny Schoemann wrote:
> The Be'er Heitev brings the SKNH"K (who's that?) in the name of
> the Rokeach that "if there are other seforim they have the din
> of a ST, and that's what we rely on nowadays."
I suggested that a siddur should suffice for this, since it includes
Shema, laining, lots of mishnayos, and other items which one might
learn. (I had meant to add that if a siddur really does suffice, then
davening by heart would be a situation where the nefilas apayim is
R' Zev Sero responded:
> And yet the Baer Hetev, by whose time printed siddurim were
> already ubiquitous, didn't draw this obvious conclusion. Nor
> did any of the later authorities who quoted him. Therefore
> it seems obvious that even according to the Shirei Knesset
> Hagedolah one needs something more than a siddur. Just what,
> isn't clear.
History is not my strong point, so for the sake of argument, I'll
accept your point that "printed siddurim were already ubiquitous".
But for this to make sense in context, you'd have to say that printed
*Chumashim* were not similarly ubiquitous. Or at least, it would not
be ubiquitous for one to have a siddur in his hand, but not a chumash
in the same room.
Anyone want to comment? How common might it have been to have a shul
with siddurim, but no Torah and no Chumashim? Or let's talk about
someone davening at home. I know that the typical person of a few
centuries ago did not have as many seforim as we have today, but was
it nothing more than a siddur? No Chumash?
(For this discussion, I'm willing to put a Tehillim in the same
category as a Siddur, but I have great difficulty accepting the
suggestion which was made on these pages, that only a Gemara would
count, as if to say that a Gemara has more Kedusha than a Chumash.)
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From: Meir Shinnar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 01:20:40 -0400
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Ikkarim Redux
On Mar 17, 2007, at 10:35 PM, email@example.com wrote:
> I am not sure what RMS means by "ikkarim", and I am pretty sure he
> gotten my definition, at least to its full implications.
> I said they have halachic import, as they are used to assess people
> for stam
> yeinam and geirus. Then there is also shechitah. This includes
> things like
> RASoloveitchik's lenient ruling WRT meshichtzin, which was written
> in terms of
> the 12 ikkar. In addition to RHS's comment, which wasn't meant as a
> pesaq, but was made by a noted poseiq in a prepared public talk.
1. The facts that poskim occasionally frame things in terms of
ikkarim does not mean that they are actually normative - ikkarim are
used as a shorthand for the issues of belief - but not in the formal
sense that you would like to use them in.
2. RAS psak, to my mind, proves the reverse - in dealing with all
the people who are ban happy, he says, essentially - that if you take
ikkarim as defining kfira, they don't violate ikkarim - but doesn't
go to the next level - that the ikkarim actually define kfira.
3. RHS prepared public talk is, WADR, proof that poskim may be good
at what they do - but not necessarily at anything else (the MO take
on da'as torah...) - and the attempt to use halachic categories in
areas where they don't apply is problematic - whether that is
politics or philosophy. As per our discussions, RHS's talk is highly
4. The rambam in hilchot gerut nowhere talks about using all ikkarim
as part of the gerut process. Again, the facts that some poskim use
ikkarim for gerut doesn't mean that they should - nor does it mean
that they actually mean ikkarim.., as ikkarim are a shorthand. RMB
mentioned only one posek he spoke with - RJL, and while RJL nominally
used "ikkarim", in practice he doesn't. For stam yeynam too, he
would have to show sources. I know many people who will say that the
yayin of a kofer is assur, and that a kofer is one who denies the
ikkarim - but know of no posek who actually does this in detail - eg,
this violates precisely this ikkar, this is the limit......- and this
is clearly not standard practice.
I would point out, for example, that RM Feinstein, who believed that
most C rabbis were mehallel shabbat, and therefore viewed them as
pasul le'edut, accepted the testimony (and marriage) of those known
to be shomer shabbat - without questioning about ikkarim - even
though blblical criticism is standard material. In the end, shmirat
hamitzvot is determinative...
> IIUC, RMS invokes "lo dak" on the use of language (a point he
> stressed more in
> previous iterations), and where they do mean the ikkarim bedavka,
> the poseiq
> involved doesn't know the true breadth of the history involved, and
> are erring
> on the "metzi'us" behind the ruling.
> I am NOT talking about how to define when someone else is to be
> excluded from
> our community. I do not believe we should be in the business of
> people from a pragmatic perspective, not in the business of judging
> altogether from a halachic one -- except where necessary.
but ultimately, it is exclusion - and the notion that it is necessary
is a major hidddush.
> Nor am I even talking about much room personal usage. After all, if
> I honestly
> get to the wrong answer I am not a kofeir, if someone rebels their
> way there,
> guidelines won't mean much.
as the ultimate issue is determined not by the answer one gets, but
by how one gets there, the ikkarim are no longer part of halachic
> I am speaking specifically of the notion that they are not
> ignorable because
> halachic questions overlap with aggadic data.
The statement that they do requires proof
> Which is why I do not understand RMS's comment:
> : I find this realm to be quite unproductive - because the
> : assertion - that the discussion of the ikkarim is subject to
> : methodology - is what needs to be proven.....(and I thought you
> weren't a
> : brisker...)
> When not dealing with the halachic realm, there is no concept of
> pesaq, and
> any position honestly and accurately derived from the mesorah is
> valid. I am
> intentionally speaking of the halachic realm, because -- while this is
> tangential to the Rambam's question of who is a Yisrael WRT "kol
> Yisrael yeish
> lahem cheileq leOhB" -- it is invoked by acharonim to make halachic
> But if halakhah requires that we treat them differently in these
> ways, we
> can't simply relegate the ikkarim to one opinion among many -- it's
> opinion whose major features made it into halakhah.
My argument is that it didn't make it into halacha legitimately - and
its occurences there reflect either a shorthand or ignorance.
Every realm has its own rules - and one is on dangerous ground in
using the rules of the wrong realm.
eg, for a less controversial issue, consider esh on shabbat. There
are halachic parameters defining esh. In assessing new models, one
applies the halachic definitions to determine whether something (eg,
incadescent light, fluorecent light, LED) is esh - and clearly,
whether or not it is physically a fire is not the relevant issue.
However, one has to understand the physics so one can understand
which halachic principles apply....- and misunderstanding the physics
makes the psak problematic.
The ikarim were a set of statements by the rambam that summarized a
philosophical viewpoint that he thought represented the minimum that
a Jew needed to know ( the meaning of the arabic term the rambam uses
does not refer to a blind faith - although does not refer to a
detailed knowledge). The decision of their truth or validity,
according to the rambam, is determined not by halachic methodology -
but by methods that aim at the truth - and halachic decision making
is geared at reaching a decision, but not necessarily the truth
(abbaye isn't wrong - that is the fundamental issue of elu
ve'elu....) - and modern halachic thinking, with the emphasis on
leshitato and being yotze as many shittot, fundamentally accepts
that every major position reflects a different truth - and halachic
decision making therefore does not declare that truth to be wrong.
. That is my statement. The application of halachic methodology to
determine what is the minimal set of knowledge - but now formulated
as beliefs - strikes one as fundamentally wrong - as wrong as
determining the age of the world by halachic methodology, or as
determining the proper way to build a bridge by halacha...
Now, this is not a statement a la misinterpreted Mendelson that there
are no fundamental truths - someone who believes that there is no
god, or in a dualistic universe, or that moshe forged the torah-
would not be accepted in the community, and if asked to explain why,
a posek might well say the ikkarim. However, my point is that the
precise boundary has not ever been closely defined by the ikkarim -
and there is not that close debate one finds in other areas, such as
hilchot shabbat. eg, for the fifth ikkar - there are poskim who hold
that various piyutim are kfira because of tfila lemalachim. However,
I know of no posek who holds that who also holds that those who say
those piyutim are kofrim - and, for example, the wine (to use the
halachic example that you gave of why one needed to define ikkare
emunah) of a chasidische hashgacha is therefore assur, or a ger who
says them, his gerut is questionable.
It has far more been defined by the sense of rebellion against
beliefs of the community - and the attempt to preserve the community
- which is why , sometimes, issues unrelated to the ikkarim are used
by some. There is a realization, perhaps implicit, perhaps explicit
- that while the ikkarim do, in some shorthand, provide a summary of
important ideas - halachic debate is not the right way to decide
their details. It is the wrong methodology. Halacha does not
determine truth - it determines obligations.
This is especially true as most poskim, both today but also
historically, lacked philosphical training - and a posek who lacks
philosophical training is as ill equipped to pasken on ikkarim as a
posek who lacks knowledge of physics is to pasken on electricity on
> IOW, I am no Brisker. (In fact, I consider the perpetuation of
> Brisk into an
> era where there is no culture of "Erev Shabbos Jews" to be the
> primary problem
> underlying most of the O community's imperfection. Halakhah uber
> ales only
> works in conscious thought when everything else is provided
> culturally on a
> preconscious/unconcious/subconscious [don't know the terms well
> enough to
> choose] level.)
> Still, it is only in the halachic realm that the question of
> mandate has
> meaning. Noting that there is halachic impact means that side of
> things can't
> be ignored. A Brisker would say it's the only meaningful question.
> But one
> needn't be a Brisker to say it is an essentual question.
the fact that only in the halachic realm that the question of mandate
has meaning means here that the question of mandate has no meaning -
and I think close reading of the halachic literature bears this out.
> So, what do I think are the 13 ikkarim as utilized in halakhah? I'm
> not sure.
> There is plenty of gray area subject to machloqes. But then, we use
> as a unit of measure even though the range of possible values is
> greater than
> a factor of 2 from smallest pesaq to largest. (All of the pesqim I
> know of are
> larger than archaeological consensus. But I would assume by now
> utilized digs on Har haBayis to form a new shitah.)
elu ve'elu divre elokim chaim has never applied to ikkare emunah -
while it applies in shiure zetim ( he follows the tzlach's shitta,
and I follow a different shitta - elu ve'elu. He follows what I
think is kfira - that is not elu ve'elu...
The fact one is unable to define what the 13 ikkarim used in halacha
are means that they are not used in halacha. It isn't that they are
subject to machloket - a la size of zetim. There is a large
literature that deals with the issue of zetim - and dealing with at
least some of the other shittotl. It is that you can't find halachic
literature that will deal in a comprehensive fashion with the
machloket on ikkarim and try to set the boundaries, in awareness of
the existence of other positions. The grey zone exists because no
one actually uses them. It is possible, that as a response to RM
Schapiro's book, some will try to formulate such a literature - but
that is no the current norm -nor, I would argue, would such a
formulation be legitimate.
> So my claim is limited in both domain (a narrow applicability) and
> range (a
> wide set of possible outcomes). But I think it still has import. If we
> actually pasqen (e.g.) that Jews who do have messianic beliefs at
> odds with
> the 12th ikar can't handle our wine, then there really is a line
> keeping such
> people from ever feeling or being considered fully "there". RAS
> implies as
> much when he says that meshichtzin don't qualify rather than
> denying there is
> anything for them to qualify for. We may try to make them welcome,
> but as
> RMShinnar noted, it will be tough going.
People have paskened many things. There are psakim that people who
deny aggadot hazal or da'as torah or the authorship of the zohar
or... are all kofrim - none related to the ikkarim. everyone has a
line - but that line is not truly based on ikkarim.
> RMShinnar writes "the rambam would have vigorously fought against
> the idea
> that universal acceptance implies truth" and "a doxa is quite
> different than
> statements of hilchot shabbat - and has always been treated
> differently." But
> I'm talking about "hilkhos Shabbos", not doxology or determination
> of truth.
> Which is why I feel I am not getting the idea across.
> I would then add that one can legitimately derive communal-
> implications from the halachic development, which is closer to the
> role of
> doxology. Not in the sense of you must believe X to be Y, but in
> practice, you
> wouldn't be treated by other O Jews the same as most of them
> without such
> BTW, R Zvi Pesach Frank required yayin mevushal when having tinoqos
> shenishbe'u at the table, not only rebellious koferim. At an OU
> program on
> wine and grape juice, RHS recommends being chosheish for this when
> unobservant seder guests. (Despite RYBS's reluctance to use
> mevushal for 4
tinokos shenishbu are an issue for mehallel shabbat befarhesya -
which is the commonly cited reason for questions about wine. The
whole question whether today's non Orthodox have the full din of a
tinok shenishba, or merely a similarity to it, is one that was
frequently debated here in the past - but I am not sure that the
question of ikkarim factors into it - and to the extent that it does,
it is because the non O may lack truly fundamental beliefs - going
far beyond any debate over the range of the ikkarm (so again, not
because they don't fully believe in the 13th ikkar or 12th ikkar)
The fact that the O community does not treat someone as Orthodox is a
sociological issue rather than halachic - and while RMB is right on
the sociology, the question whether that is positive or not is a
different one. The fact that RHS doesn't follow RYBS is no surprise.
> One last question for RMS: Since you don't believe one is supposed
> to use even
> a loose definition of the ikkarim even in this halachic context,
> the question
> of the width of opinion is more on yourself. I am saying that there
> is a
> near-universal consensus around (although not actually at) a
> certain point.
> What then is a kofeir? Which guests at your table wouldn't you serve
> non-mevushal wine to? If one denies the 13 ikkarim serving in this
> doesn't one need to have some other set of beliefs in order to know
> what to
As above, I don't deny the existence of chovot halevavot - but
question the emphasis on the details. A universal consensus that
can't be defined doesn't exist.
(your defnition sounds perilously close to a known judicial
definition of pornography ...)
Now, even RM Schapiro would admit that there is universal acceptance
of some issues - but the resultant set of criteria are actually quite
small ( IIRC, he brings down a gra in Tikkune Hazohar that requires
only two items...). I would argue that any position accepted by any
major figure is automatically within the techum. Furthermore,I think
that the radvaz's position is normative - the essence is the
motivation and nature of the error - rather than the specific error.
Errors reached through reason, or education, even faulty - are not
The converse side of focusing on the ikkarim leads to morally
problematic relations with the rest of am yisrael. To cite your
source of RH Schachter's speech, by focusing on the ikkarim, he
concludes that what does it mean to be a Jew who doesn't believe in
the ikkarim - one can't sell them hametz on pesach, or use them on a
shabbes, goy - but would be expected to fight in wars voted on by
those who believed. The focus on the ikkarim leads to a distortion
of our relationship with am yisrael - and we have a greater
obligation that we act right than that they believe right.
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