Avodah Mailing List

Volume 23: Number 110

Mon, 14 May 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 18:08:54 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Rav Unno

For many years, a member of that family, Rabbi Yosef Unna, 
was a neighbor of mine in Kfar Haroeh and another, Moshe 
Unna was a Mafda"l member of the kneset .  I think you will 
do better in Google if you try the spelling "Unna" to find 
the former rabbi of Mannheim


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Message: 2
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 14:45:03 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Torah Study vs. other contributions to society

This thread went on for quite a length before I found the time to
contribute, so rather than structure this as a reply to a dozen or so
posts, I will try to just state what I'm thinking, rather than phrase
it as a dialogue.

We went on a detour about what the proper criterian for judging
learning. First, while I don't want to go into a discussion of whether
artificial intelligence is possible, I think we could agree that a
computer with a Bar Ilan CD doesn't actually "know" the Torah on the
disk. Computer storange isn't knowledge.

It's true that computers (at least today) lack the creative ability to
be mechadeish. But that doesn't mean that chidush = intellect, and
being able to invent chiddushim = a more valuable limud.

I would still say the most valuable talmud Torah is more about
hasmadah and hislahavus than success. Yes, this leaves us unable to
judge whose learning is more valuable. But isn't that what the mishnah
tells us, to as as careful bemitzvah qalah kevachamurah because we
can't possibly
know secharan hel mitzvos? The fact that we can't judge for ourselves
would actually prove the *correctness* of the criterion.

Of course, when forced to choose priority, halakhah will have to use
some criterion. There is a mitzvah qalah and a mitzvah chamurah, even
though we can't use this or any crietion to know the true value of the

While the question before us, the relative importance of talmud Torah to
other mitzvos, isn't the central question of TuM. However, the
connection seems obvious to me. Someone who believes their horizons
are supposed to be broad enough to include mada would probably
advocate a similar broadness between TT and other mitzvos.

This doesn't quite work, but for reasons specific to RYBS's
formulation. Leshitaso, TuM is about a life of having to navigate two
worlds -- but both of them worlds of the intellect. Which would place
mada in a different relationship to TT than other mitzvos; not simply
further away from TT in a similar kind of relationship.

Rav Hutner writes on "kol hama'arich be-'echad' ma'arichin lo es
yamav". To extend the "echad" is not only a manner of davening -- it's
a way of living life. One must extend the achdus Hashem over as broad
of a life as possible. Elsewhere in Pachas Yitzchaq he gives a mashal
contrasting the person who lives in a house, and then buys an
apartment with a person whose home has two rooms. The first person is
living a double life -- his friends at the house, his family, etc...
vs his contacts and setting at the apartment. The latter person isn't
living two lives, rather his life is broadened by having multiple

In that formulation, if one says that the need for breadth means TIDE
is the idea, then of course one must have breadth in their mitzvos,
and not learn Torah to the extent that there is no time left for the
other 612.

Similarly in RSRH's earlier formulation of TIDE -- the ideal is a
refined, ennobled, cultured shomeir Torah umitzvos. Torah without the
refinement is inferior. TIDE's breadth must qal vakhomer include a
more all-around interest in mitzvos.

Most telling is the Seridei Eish's explanation of RSRH's position:
    The Torah, according to Rav Hirsch, is the force that gives form.
    Form, to Aristotle's thought, means a thing's essential nature in
    distinction to the substance from which it is embodied. Derekh
    Eretz is merely the matter on which Torah works.
       (Essay in "Shimshon Rephael Hirsch: Mishnaso veShitaso")

To never leave the "ivory towers" of talmud Torah to apply that Torah
beguf and to the real world would be form with no substance, empty and
without embodiment.

The question of when one may interrupt one's learning differs from
nidon didan in a critical way. It's not about how to prioritize one's
mitzvos. It's about whether to interrupt the mitzvah one is in the
midst of in order to perform another.

The same Pachad Yitzchaq discusses the problem with asking an
off-sugyah question of one's rebbe. Usually it is explained in terms
of avoiding the possibility of embarassing one's rebbe in public.
(Lema'aseh this is impluasible. Even with our current round of
gedolim, who do not pretend to be on the level of tannaim or amora'im,
it would be difficult to catch them off guard about a sugyah, and rare
for one of them to be embarassed over it.)

RYH explains it that one can't interrupt the rebbe's ameilus, his
being "in the sugyah" by switching topics. IOW, interruption is not
proof of a greater mitzvah, but of the cost of interrupting the train
of thought and trying to recover it later. Even within the same
mitzvah -- don't interupt!

As for RDR's point about the SA and the Rama writing that if divrei
Torah are to be misqaymim one must make them ikkarim, and the rest of
life tafeil... RYH writes that the reason there is only one birkhas
haTorah a day is that part of learning is lilmod al menas la'asos.
Therefore, one should ideally be going through life thinking of one's
actions as an essential part of the qiyum of TT, the la'asos, not an
interruption from it. This would fulfill the Rama's point about which
is ikkar without implying anything about priority or time division.
And explain the laudibility of RSR's friend the doctor, or our own
RDJBackon who is a doctor and in medical research, and yet finds
significant time for harbatzas Torah.

In any case, a statement about interrupting a mitzvah can't be taken
to be one about prioritization.

Second, as I said on top, the mishnah calls on us to have equal
zehirus for all mitzvos -- even ones that are qalos in some ways
compared to others! So how can we then take talmud torah keneged kulam
as proof to give it more zehirus?

Third, what about the other 6 mitzvos that are keneged kulam? My son
is currently learning an anonymous seifer called "Mitzvos haShavos"
which is based on the notion that each of the 7 represents what he
phrased a "primary value" in Yiddishkeit. Rafi adds that it is
generally accepted that the author is RSWolbe.

The value of a mitzvah would IMHO depend upon knowing the pegamim in
the individual, and knowing what needs to be addressed. Just as I have
tried to teach my children to prioritize their mitzvos so as to best
leverage the kishronos they bring in their unique combination to the

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 40th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        5 weeks and 5 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Hod sheb'Yesod: When does
Fax: (270) 514-1507      reliability/self-control mean submitting to

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Message: 3
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 14:51:17 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Justifying hatred

On Fri, May 11, 2007 9:09 am, R David Riceman wrote:
:> This is a machloketh.  See H. Teshuva 3:7, Rabad ad. loc., H. Mamrim
:> 3:3.  As far as I know the halachic consensus has been against Rabbi
:> Soloveithchik in this subject.  IIRC we've discussed this before.

I even wonder whether RCBrisker's line "nebich an apiqoreis iz bleibt
an apiqoreis", taken from a ma'aseh, was ever applied lehalakhah by
RCB himself.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 4
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 15:03:15 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] unity

On Sun, May 6, 2007 7:28 am, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: I can come up with at least one or two mechanisms for a community to
: change its minhagim.

To restore context on a thread that has been dormant "forever" in
email list terms (ie a week)... We were discussing ways of minhagim
changing in order to bring unity to the minhag.

: The first is so simple that I'm suprprised no one has mentioned it
: yet, and that is when the rav (rosh yeshiva, rebbe, whatever)
: determines that the current minhag is plain, flat-out, *wrong*.

Which would bring unity amongst his talmidim, and thus possibly to a
kehillah. But I can't believe that Ashkenazim have a unified minhag
rather than minhagim based on which Ashkenazim came from EY and which
from Bavel (or Egypt or Teiman, or...) entirely off this effect.

: The second is from Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 2:21 ...
:             He gives three examples of what consitutes *adding* a
: minhag: Mimaamakim after Yishtabach in Aseres Ymei Teshuva, L'David
: Mizmor after Shmoneh Esreh in Maariv on Rosh Hashana and YK, and
: Hallel at Maariv on Pesach. In all three of these cases, RMF writes,
: there are very good reasons not to say the thing in question, but
: that does NOT mean that they actually have a minhag not to say it.
: They simply don't have a minhag *to* say it....

This criterion is also insufficiently broad to explain how minhag
Ashkenaz arose, and why Machon Shilo are unique today (R' Goren and R'
Unterman are precedent, though) in voicing an active desire to do the
same again to create a Minhag EY today. ROY's notion of minhag EY does
not involve a "time to unify minhag" argument as much as "there
already /is/ a minhag hamaqom".

And yet the objection is not absolute. We don't find major opposition
to saying shir shel yom in Shacharis instead of Mussaf, etc...

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: 5
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 15:29:59 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Kasheh lvarrer

On Tue, May 8, 2007 9:19 am, Rich, R Joel wrote:
: ... we seem concerned (except for the Rosh) enough not to eat all 3
: pieces of meat when we know one was treif even though it's batel
: brov.

At the same time. Both the Rosh and the Rashba hold we can eat all
three pieces. According to the Rosh, nehepach leheter and this is even
true if all three were cooked into a single chulent, and according to
the Rashba, it is only mutar if they were eaten separately.

: It occurred to me that the difference might be in one case we know a
: treifa existed (it's a dita kamman) where in the other we don't know
: (it's dleta kamman even though statistically likely)

IIUC, you are considering the possibility that kasheh levareir only
applies to a ruba deleisa leqaman. While it is more likely to be
unable to determine an object's state with a ruba deleisa leqaman, I
don't see the motivation for limiting it.

: Has anyone heard of any detail on kashe lvarrer (versus a miut sheino
: matzui etc.)

Kasheh levarrer isn't on the same plane as mi'ut she'eino matzui. One
is talking about the size of the mi'ut. The other is saying that the
thing is far enough from efshar levareir to allow asking the whole
question of rov. If someone can determine whether or not an item is
from the rov, isn't he obligated to do so rather than rely on rov?

RHSchachter is saying that medical scanning is a level of tirchah for
birur (which would still be imperfect anyway) for which one may
instead rely on rov. The size of the rov is a second issue.

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: 6
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 15:47:51 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Yebamoth and Megilath Ruth

On Mon, May 7, 2007 1:13 pm, R Daniel Israel wrote:
: The question I would ask is why is this inyan of yibum via more
: distant relatives not mentioned l'maaseh today (or is it and I've
: just never heard it?)  Possible teretz: if there is a brother who
: performs chalitzah, maybe the possibility of a distant relative
: effecting yibum is removed....

There is no chiyuv of yibum except with a brother. Therefore, the
whole discussion is lifnim mishuras hadin. (As others proved from the
case of Rus, who -- if she was still not yet a giyores -- wasn't even
technically married to Machlon.)

Where there is a chiyuv, bizman hazeh we require chalitzah because we
are chosheshim for Abba Shaul that yibum with improper kavanah is
worse. So, if this cheshash about improper kavanah trumps a chiyuv,
there is nothing to talk about WRT a lifnim mishuras hadin.

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: 7
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 17:38:01 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Yeshiva is a Mikva to a Ben or Bat Niddah

On Mon, May 14, 2007 10:30 am, T613K@aol.com wrote:
:> I realize this is just R' Yisrael Salanter's rationalism  talking,
:> but leshitaso, are a spiritual pegam and a character defect
:> different things?

: I believe they are two different things, but a spiritual pegam can
: manifest itself in this world in a tendency to have certain character
: flaws.

However, I predicated my question on leshitas RYS. His entire derekh
is based on the notion that fixing one's neshamah is all about tiqun

I therefore asked if there was still room in his shitah for
distinguishing between spiritual and character flaws. Character is an
operation of the spirit. The character flaw is not a means of being
manifest in this world.

: (BTW can a  mamzer get an aliyah?  Just wondering.)

Why would you think not? He is still chayav in talmud Torah, and he is
still metzrareif to a minyan, so why couldn't he be the vehicle for
the tzibur being yotz'im talmud Torah?

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: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 18:33:13 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Parshas Behar (Bahar?)

This was raised on Avodah before. See the thread Parashah Question
indexed at <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/getindex.cgi?section=P>.

We never got a peshat answer. Most likely if this isn't a minhag
ta'us, it's because the rabbim ran with some derashah and encoded it
into the parashah naming.

In the next thread in the index at the time of this writing, "Parashas
Behar" I started a discussion about "behar", "bahar", "bohar" (with a
qamatz, transliterated abnormally for me to show the difference) and
"al har / hahar". "B-" is used for mountain ranges or for Moshe at
Sinai. Otherwise "al" outnumbers it 211 to 3 -- and even those three
might be ranges for all I know that for some reason are called "har"
rather than "harei". Just as the case of Yehoshua 20:7 "beHar Naftali
... beHar Efraim ... behar Yehudah" which I concluded from the third
instance were three ranges, not three mountains.

I toyed with the idea that Moshe got the Torah while in a cave, thus
being "behar", or that Sinai is being described as the vehicle for
matan Torah -- behar as "through the aegis of the mountain". The
latter fits derashos about Sinai and anavah being the means of qabalas

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: 9
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 13:43:29 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Right vs. Wrong; Tzaddik vs. Rasha

Micha Berger wrote:

> I'm reminded of R' Yisrael Salanter's observation. It is common to catch
> someone outside announcing that they were looking for a "tenster" for
> their minya. But how often does someone stand outside offering food so
> that they can have a se'udah?

FWIW, I have seen this, though not very often.  But perhaps you're
looking at it from the wrong perspective.  You're looking at it as a
chisaron in the offerer - when he has nine men ready to daven he stands
outside and trawls for a tzenter, but when he has nine men ready to eat
he washes and sits down.  Let's see it from the other side: when there
are nine men ready to eat, they don't have to look far or hard to find
that tzenter - many people will volunteer to eat with them.  But when
they need a tzenter to daven, suddenly everyone is busy, and they have
to wait long enough and look hard enough that it becomes noticeable.

I've also experienced one that morphed into the other.  Last summer,
on holiday in LA, I was walking down the street and someone asked me
whether I'd davened mincha.  As it happened I had, but since I was in
no hurry I said I'd stay and be counted in the minyan, though not in
the six who were davening.  It turned out that they were having a
sheva brochos, and after mincha the hosts insisted that I stay for
dinner (and they were certainly not short of a minyan for benching).

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                       	                          - Clarence Thomas

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Message: 10
From: Elliott Shevin <eshevin@hotmail.com>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 13:52:28 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Yizkor second day yom tov in E'Y

 > >>This is, of course, assuming that you are keeping two days. OK.<<> > > Why wouldn't I?> > Not everyone does.My own rav had cause to remark recently that any combination of customs you can think of is endorsed by at least one posek, e.g.:      Keep one day in EY if you're there, two chutz laaretz if you're there;     Keep one day wherever you are if you reside in EY, two wherever you are              if you reside outside EY;     Keep two days in EY until you've lived there for three years;     Etc. Elly"Striving to bring Torah Judaism into the 58th century"
Change is good. See what?s different about Windows Live Hotmail.
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Message: 11
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 14:51:03 -0400 (EDT)
[Avodah] R' Unna

RSBA cautions against taking R' Unna seriously because (horrors) the Leo
Baeck Institute website references him.

I found a book (David Ellenson, president of HUC) with a chapter
title that seems to indicate R' Unna was Orthodox:

# 12. Gemeindeorthodoxie in Weimar Germany
# The Approaches of Nehemiah Anton Nobel and Isak Unna

at http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/judaica/thought/ellensonae/ellensonc.html

So he wasn't Hirschian Orthodox, but Gemeinde-Orthodox, which I think
was more R' Hildesheimer's milieu.

See pp 267-271 of Ellenson's book discussing R' Unna's position on
areivut extending to the Reform (based on R' I.E. Spektor) here
http://tinyurl.com/2x56xf despite Reform's persecution of the
Orthodox minority in Germany.

In fact, he was one of the early members of Agudat Yisrael, and
participated in their 1923 Vienna congress - from Ellenson's book.

If anyone wants to read one of R' Unna's books, there's one available
through GOogle Books (onscreen or PDF) at http://tinyurl.com/23dpkt
Die Leichenverbrennung vom Standpunkt des Judenthums: Ein Vortrag

Other books by R' Unna, via Google Books: lives of Ramban (1942), the
Gra (1921), and Resh Lakish (1908), the social and political organizations
of German Jewry (1919), Marriage in Judaism (1928), books on the Klaus-
Synagogue of Mannheim, on Aguna, on Shechita, and Shoalin veDorshin
(1964), a book of shu"t, and others whose titles I can't figure out in

Oh, and here's an article by R' Unna to tickle R'Mi's theory about
the name Shneur-Zalman http://tinyurl.com/2yrqgk.  "R Senior Salman
aus Ladi, der Begrunder der Chabad"

A biography, "Lema'an ha-ah'dut veha-yih'ud : mishnato ve-hayav shel
... Yitshak' ben ... Mosheh Una zatsal." was published in 1975.

A picture and brief biography can be found here:

I would caution against taking the first "fishy" Google reference
and using it to discredit a true Jewish leader.

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: jjbaker@panix.com     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com

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Message: 12
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 22:25:19 +0300
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Rabbi Isak Unna of Mannheim (was Re:

SBA invalidates Rav Yitzchak Unna because the Leo Baeck Institute published
a book about him, and Leo Baeck himself was not Orthodox.
Specifically, he wrote:

> <<I have no idea if Rabbi Unna himself was or wasn't R - but the fact that
> the
> R are publicing him definitely places him, WADR,  in the category of
> 'kabdehu vechashdehu".


I am mocheh.  WADR, this is not only sloppy reasoning (the Leo Baeck
Institute published books about Rav Hildesheimer as well) but violates S"A
OC 606:3, which states that it is prohibited to be motzi shem ra on meisim.

The fact is that Rav Yitzchak Unna was not only Orthodox, but his Teshuvos
Sho'alin v'Dorshin are quoted by the Tzitz Eliezer and Rav Ovadia Yosef.
The Seridei Aish contains tshuvos by Rav Unna, and refers to him as Av Beis
Din of Mannheim.

As to your Google skills: try searching in Hebrew: http://tinyurl.com/yrvlbyand

Kol tuv,
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Message: 13
From: "Prof. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 16:39:25 -0400
[Avodah] Maariv Bezam - Correction

There was a word missing in my earlier post on this topic. I left out 
the word not. Below is the way it should have read.

At 06:35 AM 05/14/2007, you wrote:

>There is a similar halocho brought down beshaim the Gr"o, that davening
>maariv bezaman (after tzais) without a minyan is better than davening
>earlier (from Plag) with a minyan, even on shabbos. Does anyone know what
>his mekor for this is, befrat the Gemoro says "Ravi Tzali shabbos beerev

I can only wonder how one reconciles this with the fact that in the 
time of the Rishonim the Ashkenazim did *not* wait to daven Maariv 
even on the first night of Shavuous. See 

Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 14
From: "Samuel Svarc" <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 17:16:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Justifying hatred of the wicked

>From: mkopinsky@gmail.com
>Subject: Re: [Avodah] Justifying hatred
>On 5/12/07, Samuel Svarc <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com> wrote:
>> >From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
>> >     Assuming the 13 Ikkarim to be y'sodos haTorah, which of them --
>> >other than the first -- can be said to be instinctively known?
>> Basically all of them. There are classical machlokisim about some, but
>> we are referring, as do countless sifrei halacha, to the yesodos as a
>> whole.
>> Like for example, the CC in Ahavas Chessed, Chelek 1, Perek 3, "...Kol
>> shu mamin b'shloshu asar ikrei hadas...".
>What is at all instictive about Nevuas Moshe Rabbeinu?  Could you figure
>that out without being told?  How about Meshiach?  or Techiyas Hameisim?
>or Nevuah at all? etc. etc. etc.
>     * natural:  unthinking; prompted by (or as if by) instinct; "a cat's
>       natural aversion to water"; "offering to help was as instinctive as
>       breathing"
>       wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

I've also written, "I was referring to the Yesodot HaTorah, were the
consensus throughout halacha has been that *this* knowledge is basically
self-evident." If you think that the difference between instinctive and self
evident is m'akev, substitute self evident.

As for some of the specific ones that you refer to above, I don't think a TS
can know those, i.e. they're not self-evident. However, reread what I wrote
above, "There are classical machlokisim about some, but we are referring, as
do countless sifrei halacha, to the yesodos as a whole." What I meant was,
and I should have been more clear, that there are some that we don't expect
the TS to know, but we still refer to 13 ikkrei hadas as one unit.

I was asked for the source of this assertion. R' Elchonan in Kovetz Mamarim
has a few essays around this topic, but in particular the one titled
"Shibush B'deos". As well, there is an English sefer that records the
shuirim from R' Yakkov Weinberg, RY of Ner Yisroel, on the 13 ikkarim.



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