Avodah Mailing List

Volume 23: Number 159

Thu, 26 Jul 2007

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2007 16:07:33 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Ploughing HHB

On Fri, July 20, 2007 6:11 pm, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: Could be.  There is a source somewhere that Hadrian was originally
: friendly to the Jews and considered re-buidling the Temple at  first
: but turned on the Jews.

You are probably referring to Bereishis Rabba 64:10.

Hadrian gave permission to rebuild the BHMQ, and R' Yeshoshua ben
Chananiah made a party in Akko to celebrate the event.

According to BR, Kussim convinced the emperor that we were planning on
using the BHMQ as a fortress from which to rebel against Rome. This is
much like their accusations in back in seifer Ezra, which delayed
binyan bayis sheini, and eventually led to the Persian-Median law that
bayis sheini be built on a flammable wooden foundation. The Kussim
suggested that rather than do a blatant about-face, Hadrian order it
built to different dimensions or at a different location.

Another version of the story has Hadrian changing his mind when he
learned that becoming a Jew would mean giving up his relationship with
one of the boys on his staff.

When messengers reached the party in Akko with the news of the new
decree, everyone was understandably bereaved. RYbC gave nechamah with
a mashal:

A lion was eating an animal, and got a bone caught in his throat. He
couldn't get it out himself, so the lion proclaimed a great reward for
whomever would remove it. A crane flew over to the lion, and with its
long beak was able to reach down the lion's throat and pull out the
bone. The heron asked for his reward. The lion replied -- how many
others could put their head down a lion's mouth and live to tell the
story? That is your reward.

I can not tell if this story is intended to be historical, or a
commentary about another religion later adopted by Rome and thereby
modified beyond recognition. That there is an advantage that Yahadus
was not the religion that won over the west.

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

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 01:49:30 GMT
Re: [Avodah] 2AM Friday Night

R' Micha Berger asked:
> What if there is sunset, but only for a minute or two? Do we
> follow a 2 minute night, or do we follow the arctic circle pesaq?

If I understand the question, RMB is actually asking "What if there 
is sunset, but there's not any tzeis hakochavim?" Halachically, I 
can't imagine any difference between whether twilight lasts only two 
minutes, or whether it lasts several hours. The question is the same 
either way. And the reality is that it is very common for this period 
to last several hours: Because the sun never really rises very far 
above the horizon, it never gets too far below it either, so you can 
still have enough light to keep the stars hidden.

The latest issue of Kashrus Kurrents has an excellent article about 
many various Extreme Zmanim situations, at http://tinyurl.com/2xdn7d

I was going to quote what he says, but I think it is too long. Anyone 
who wants to see his words, go to that link, and his answer for this 
particular question is in the section titled "Summer - Below the 
Arctic Circle".

For those who won't or can't go to that link, I'll spoil it for you: 
Tzeis is at Chatzos Halayla.

RMB also asked:
> What if the sun only sets partway? Does it follow leading edge,
> the middle of the sun, the lower edge?

Hanetz and shkia both occur when the *upper* edge of the sun's disk 
crosses the horizon, i.e., when the sun passes from slightly visible 
to not at all visible, or the reverse. (I've seen this in several 
places, one of which lists Beur Halacha 58 "Kmo shiur" as the source.)

At the equator, where the sun's path is perpendicular to the horizon, 
it takes about 2 minutes for the sun to cross the horizon. In the far 
north and far south, where the angle of descent is very shallow, this 
can take a very long time.

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 12:23:10 GMT
[Avodah] Tzitzis on Tisha B'Av

The ArtScroll siddur for Tisha B'Av includes instructions *not* to 
kiss one's tzitzis during Baruch She'amar and Krias Shema of 
Shacharis, even though we do wear the Tallis Katan that day, and we 
do kiss the tzitzis at these points the rest of the year. ArtScroll 
offers no explanation for this change, and I have long wondered what 
the reason is.

Yesterday, I asked two knowledgeable people, who both offered the 
same suggestion: That Tisha B'Av is comparable to a funeral, and so 
the problem of Loeg LaRash applies, so although the tzitzis are worn, 
they are not displayed.

I asked who the Rash is in this case? Who is the niftar that is now 
unable to wear tzitzis, that we hide ours so as not to make him feel 
bad? Of course we are aveilim on Tisha B'Av, but pushing the idea 
that far doesn't make sense (to me). They couldn't answer.

I understand that we avoid wearing our fancy Tefillin and Tallis 
Gadol until the afternoon, but that does not apply to the Tallis 
Katan, nor to the Tzitzis, so I do not understand why we would 
pretend that we really aren't wearing them. Can anyone suggest a 
reason? Thanks very much!

(Note: I have a sefer which points to Shut Riv'vos Ephraim 1:383 as 
the source for not kissing the tzitzis during Shema. I don't have 
access to that, but if someone else does, it might offer a reason.)

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 12:05:38 -0400 (EDT)
[Avodah] Fighting for oneself

On Areivim, we're discussing how history remembers or should remember
Rudolf Kasztner. Yad Vashem is trying to rehabilitate his memory. Here
is some of the metzi'us behind the question, from
> Kasztner ... headed the Relief and Rescue Committee, a small Jewish
> group that negotiated with Nazi officials to rescue Hungarian Jews in
> exchange for money, goods and military equipment.

> In June 1944, the "Kasztner Train," with 1,684 Jews, departed Budapest
> for neutral Switzerland. His negotiations also diverted 20,000
> Hungarian Jews to an Austrian labour camp instead of a planned
> transfer to extermination camps, according to Yad Vashem.
> But detractors accused Kasztner of colluding with the Nazis to spare
> his well-connected and wealthy Jewish friends, while hundreds of
> thousands of others were shipped to death camps.
> The Israeli government sued Grunwald for libel on Kasztner's behalf
> in a trial that lasted two years and riveted the nation. The court
> acquitted Grunwald of libel, concluding that Kasztner "sold his soul
> to the German Satan."

> Kasztner insisted his dealings with top Nazi officials, including
> Kurt Becher, an envoy of SS commander Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf
> Eichmann, who organized the extermination of the Jews, were necessary
> to save lives.

> Kasztner was demonized by the Israeli public. A year after he was
> killed, Israel's Supreme Court overturned the lower court's ruling
> in the libel case, clearing his name.

One last note:
> Kasztner himself didn't board his famous train to freedom, instead
> staying behind and negotiating the further release of Jews, risking
> his own life.

So RK saved his people at the possible expense of others, but it
wasn't self-motivated. To discuss the question in general:

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel is the "bible" of a school
of psychology called Logotherapy. The majority of the book is his
recollections of life in the camps and his observations of the people

In it he claims that the Holocaust cost us our most idealistic people;
that anyone who survived had to have the ability to place saving
themselves and their own ahead of others.

Lehalakhah, I if the same number of people are going to live either
way, is it appropriate to try to save your own? In the introduction to
Maqdishei H' by R' Tezvi Hirsch Meisels which is even more on topic. A
man came, r"l, because his ben yachid was among 1,400 children on a
train which according to rumor was headed for the crematoria. He had
the opportunity to bribe his son's way out. Should he risk it; is he
permitted to?

RADK refused to pasqen. How can anyone take on a question so great
without yishuv hada'as, without access to his sefarim? The story
continues (as translated by R' Yoel Schwartz). The father replies:
> "Rabbi, I have done my duty as the Torah requires me to do. I brought
> my question before the rabbi. There is no other rabbi here. If His
> Honor, the rabbi, cannot answer that it is permitted for me to redeem
> my child, that is a sign that he is not completely sure that the
> halacha permits [it]. If it were permissible without any doubts,
> certainly you would tell me so. To me this means that according to
> the halacha it is forbidden to me. I accept this with love and joy,
> and I shall not do anything to redeem him, because that is what the
> Torah commanded..."

> All my pleadings to him not to put the responsibility on me were to no
> avail. He only repeated what he had said, with heartrending weeping.
> He fulfilled his words, and did not redeem his son. That whole day,
> Rosh Hashana, he walked and spoke to himself joyfully, saying that he
> merited to sacrifice his only son to God, since even though it was in
> his power to redeem him, he would not, seeing that the Torah did not
> permit him to do such a thing. This would be considered by the Holy
> One, Blessed is He, like the Binding of our Father Isaac, which also
> had taken place on Rosh Hashana.

Lehashkafah, it's certainly the implication of the Shaarei Yosher's
definition of chessed that it would be appropriate to save someone
closer to you at the expense of someone with whom you're less
connected. (The haqdamah in question is available in Hebrew with my
translation to English at
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/ShaareiYosher.pdf> -- Hebrew starts at the
last page and heads backward, so that the pages turn correctly for
Hebrew. Warning: The English is stilted. I preserved the ability to
make many of the diyuqei halashon I made in the original. Not that
readable, though.)

Chessed is motivated by enlarging one's "Ani" to include ever more
people. Self interest is described by RSS as a positive thing, one to
be leveraged in this way to create chessed, not abnegated. A few
paragraphs, just to motivate reading the whole thing. Note his quote
of R' Aqiva is a halachic one -- chayekha qodemin.

> HOWEVER, what of a person who decides to submerge his nature, to reach
> a high level so that he has no thought or inclination in his soul for
> his own good, only a desire for the good of others? In this way he
> would have his desire reach the sanctity of the Creator, as His Desire
> in all of the creation and management of the world is only for the
> good of the created, and not for Himself at all. At first glance one
> might say that if a person reached this level, he would reach the
> epitome of being whole. But this is why our Sages of blessed memory
> teach us in this Midrash that it is not so. We cannot try to be
> similar to His Holiness in this respect. His Holiness is greater than
> ours. His Holiness is only for the created and not for Himself because
> nothing was ever added to or could ever be added to the Creator
> through the actions He did or does. Therefore all His Desire could
> only be to be good to the created.

> But what He wants from us is not like this. As Rabbi Aqiva taught us,
> "your life comes first."6 [Our sages] left us a hint of it when they
> interpret the scripture "Love your neighbor as yourself" in a negative
> sense, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your peers." In
> terms of obligation, it is fitting for a person to place his own good
> first.

> There are also grounds for asserting that in the very foundation of
> the creation of Adam, the Creator planted in him a very great measure
> of propensity to love himself. The sages of truth7 describe the
> purpose of all the work in this language, "The Infinite wanted to
> bestow complete good, that there wouldn't even be the embarrassment of
> receiving." This discussion reveals how far the power of loving
> oneself goes, that "a person is more content with one qav [a unit of
> measure] of his own making than [he would be of] two qavin that are
> given to him" ? even if from the Hand of the Holy One! ? if the
> present is unearned.

> From here it should be self-evident that love of oneself is desired by
> the Holy One, even though "the wise shall walk because of it and the
> foolish will stumble over it."8...

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


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 23, Issue 159

Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

< Previous Next >