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Volume 24: Number 30

Fri, 26 Oct 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:23:42 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Religion and Falsifiability

On 10/25/07, Elliott Shevin <eshevin@hotmail.com> wrote:
>  Richard Wolpoe wrote:
> > And I can tell you ma'asim where rich people are told NOT to perfect
> > themselves but to be ba'alei tzedakkah instead in order to support the
> poor
> > of the community....
> > Certainly we all work on middos to a degree but self-perfection is not
> for the
> > masses. Most of us have jobs to do first....
> It depends on what you'd call "self-perfection."

I am saying that the role and societal obigatiosn of of certain individuals
transcends their rqeeirement of self-perfcetion.

If they self-perfect fine, but not at the sacrifice of their primary role,

Illustration: had Yonah run off to get better midos it mihgt have done him
some good but not at the scrifice of his calling to speak to Nineveh. That
mission was parament no mater how grumpy a character he appears to be.

A B'al Musasr MIGHT have said:  " You know Yona is a mal-conentent who lacks
hakaras hatov and is so grumpy he should FIRST perfect his middos and THEN
take off to Ninenveh."

OR when Moshe Told Yehosvhua 'becahr lanu anashim" Yeshoshua COULD have
said, "Look Moseh Rabeeinu!  I know I am a great general, but remember how I
judgemntal I am by saying things like "adoni Moshe kelo'eim.'   I think I
need a course in savlanus first before I take on the role of general."

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 2
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:28:29 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Birkat Kohanim

On 10/25/07, Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net> wrote:
>  Was it an onesh, or a causal connection? Hashem made His Presence
> manifest in a way that made it clear He was greater than the sun. Such
> brightness blinds.
> But to answer your question... Blind people tend not to look at too many
> things. What second time?
> That's a very interesting  concept. It would be like drinking poison. You
> wouldn't die as a result of an onesh, but rather the consequences of the
> deed.

This is my read of Nadav v'avihbu and it is based upon the way Uzah died in
the haftara incident re: peretz b'uza. The parallel being they were killed
by a radiation from God not from any Sin.

The straight read in Shemini is a bit difficul for this read, but the
Haftara and the read in Acharei Mos are more supportive...



Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
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Message: 3
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:34:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rambam and Elitisim, was Religion and

On 10/25/07, Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@hotmail.com> wrote:
> I find this letter very uplifting. It puts to rest the accusation of an
> elitist Rambam. He was elitist in the sense of having expectations for
> constant self-improvement but he saw it as a universal capability.
> Everyone
> has the ability to grow! I also find fascinating the importance Rambam
> gave
> to his great work. He really had a realistic view of what he had
> accomplished and his own self worth. He did not indulge in false modesty.
> It
> is a trait we find in all his writings. He was a real Anav - more on this
> at
> another occasion
> Truly inspiring!
> KT
> Eliyahu

AIUI, Rambam showed dfferent faces to different audiences. To his Mishneh
Torah audience he tended to be very authoritarian.   Probably he felt
Halacha had to be cut and dry and not dilly-dallied with.

And many wil tell you that RYBS was a different personna in Boston than In
NYC. Perhaps had RYBS lived to witness the 2004 Red Sox victory that too
might have changed..

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 4
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:54:14 -0400
Re: [Avodah] A few notes on Parshas Vayeiro

On 10/25/07, SBA <sba@sba2.com> wrote:
> Q: Why did HKBH 'complain' to Avrohom - "Lomo zeh tzochako Sarah"?
> After all, if a few itinerant Arabs tell a 90 year old woman that she will
> soon become pregnant - isn't she justified in laughing it off?
> True, Sarah was greater in neviyeh than Avrohom, but - al pi pshat - it is
> quite obvious that she didn't realise that this promise was coming from
> Hashem. (Ayen Ramban - posuk 15)
> And from Rashi (18:16) dh 'Leshalchom' it is mashma that even as they
> left,
> Avrohom still thought of them as guests - not malochim.
> (See the Or Hachaim Hakodosh (18: 13-15, some very nice pshat on these
> matters.)
> Also, lechoreh, it seems that Avrohom didn't talk too much to Sarah - even
> important matters - eg. Hashem's promise to him (Lech Lecho 17-19) that he
> and Sarah will have a son !!

I just heard this the other day as follows:

We know HKBH changed the lashon from Adoni Zoken to va'ani Zokanti...
Now, the Targum supports the read that Avraham's laughter was not cynical
but Sara's was.  However, apparently the story CAN be read the other way,
that really Avraham was being incredulous and Sara's laughter was out of
genuine joy. [apparently this can be cullled from the story linee but I am
not sure how]

So according to this revision, how is it that HKBH talks about SARA and not
about Avraham himself ? This is becasue HKBH was chastising Sara ONLY as a
strawperson to chastise Avraham himself for laughing at the end of Lech
Lecha.  It was a form of an oblique hint.

There is a Yiddish saying: "She says the daughter but MEANS the
daughter-in-law" IOW when a Mother-in-law cannot chastise her
daughter-in-law directly, she instead talks to her own daughter whose and
the hint is giventhereby to the daughter-in-law indirectly.

Same idea. By HKBH telling Avrham to about Sara's laughter Sara, He was
really hinting at Avraham's own laughter.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 5
From: micha@aishdas.org
Date: 25 Oct 2007 21:31:00 -0400
Re: [Avodah] What did they learn in the yeshiva of Shem and

Is thid consistant with the LR's words during the 67 launch of the Mezuzah campaign? I thought RZS would have agreed with the LR's ascribing such powers to the cheftza IN ADDITION TO the ma'aseh mitzah. Bedavka from this gemara, which the LR did not say was about eino metzuveh ve'oseh, but simply shemirah despite the lack of mitzvah.

As for learning from the fact that Rebbe wasn't worried about getting a wreath (or the non-achronistic equivalent), I disagree with RPS's assumption one can do so. At most you can learn that if you know the recipient well enough to know that from him personally it's unlikely... But as a general kelal? No.

Shetir'u baTov!
R' Micha Berger <micha@aishda.org>
(Sent by PDA. Please excuse any extra errors caused by my choosing timeliness over having the right tool and quiet.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Wednesday, Oct 24, 2007 4:33 pm
Rebbi said it would protect him.  Presumably it could only do that if
he were doing a mitzvah with it.  ... Putting it in his doorway would be a
mitzvah, and he'd get a reward as an "eino metzuveh ve'oseh"....

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 22:56:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Minhag Yisroel

On Thu, Oct 25, 2007 at 07:16:33PM -0400, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: And is a Sanhedrin needed?
: So wjhy fan't the Jews of circa 1948 IMPOSE 5 Iyyar as a hhag for all of us
: decsendents?I

This is a totally different topic. You went from pesaq to legislation.
This conversation had a number of things that look like blurring
fundamental differences -- minhag with pesaq, legislation with pesaq,
changing the halakhah with responding to changes in environment, etc...
Of course the rules differ.

Perhaps it does. Perhaps it requires true semichah. Perhaps it requires
neither, only consensus. After all, if the person isn't really speaking
for all of kelal Yisrael, how do they "own" the calendar? We don't
know when that kind of consensus ended, but by R' Saadia Gaon's day,
we already had two claimants to ownership.

Similarly, the question of hafkaas qidushin.

: Why can[t the community issue a cherem, any ba'al that is mesarie to give a
: get will have his original Kiddushin nullified retroactively by communal
: fiat?

A cheirem doesn't remove a chalos, it says "avoid this person". But in
any case...

The BY has a teshuvah which is simply his notes of someone else's (who I
hadn't heard of before). I don't own his teshuvos to refresh my memory.
In it, the BY accepts the argument that only the 5 situations which were
named by chazal justify hafkaah.

(Notice, BTW, that all require a maaseh -- either chazal remove the
chalos of a just-performed chasunah, or they create a chalos to an
invalid attempt at gittin.)

Why the limitation? Because since chazal, who could say they are the
"das Moshe veYisrael" upon whose say-so the qiddushin depends?

:> Perhaps because those who started celebrating 5 Iyyar were already
:> bound by the minhag to mourn during sefirah, so it's arguable that
:> they had no authority to make a new exception to it.

: so a New minhag can BRECHT a din but it CANNOT brecht an old minhag?
: I would posit that the GRA's revival of 2 matzosGEBRCHTed the pre-existi9ng
: minhag that  had been 3 matzos as testified to by the Beis Yosef!

The Gra chooses the textual pesaq over the mimetic norm. Both pre-xisting
shitos. We already discussed when I believe he holds that's an option. You
use this to compare to new legislation -- which no one is sure is possible
bizman hazeh keneged esablished minhag? What's the point of comperison?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 23:13:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Mitzvat Aseh

On Sat, Oct 20, 2007 at 11:46:30PM -0400, T613K@aol.com wrote:
: It does say in Pirkei Avos "lefum tza'ara agra" but it also says,
: "Ratzah Hakadosh Baruch Hu lezakos es Yisrael, lefichach hirbah lahem
: Torah umitzvos."

And the high point of RH leining is "baasher hu sham", din is based on
where you are at the time, not your history. Thus the measure of sechar is
the progress made. More work means more real change, and thus more sechar.

BTW, the Rambam takes "lezakos es Yisrael" very different than you did.
Yeish mi shekoneh olamo besha'ah achas -- because in one moment he
could get the yedi'as H' which was necessary to get his olam haba. And
therefore, the value of Hashem giving us many mitzvos is that it means
many many opportunities to do mitzvos shelo lishmah so that we can once
have that moment where everything clicks, and ba lishmah. And that one
time, he has an epiphany and koneh olamo.

Most of us have a more dei'os (middos) oriented view of the goal than the
Rambam's intellectualized yedi'ah. But tht basic notion would still fit --
many mitzvos means many opportunities to have that moment of change. Not
necessarily that every opportunity is used in a sekhar-gaining way.

"Ba'asher hu sham" would seem to imply that if it's possible to act
without any change in the self, one could do a mitzvah and not get
sekhar for it. I am not sure it /is/ possible.

: It seems that we do get reward even for those mitzvos that we find easy to 
: keep, including lo sa'asei's we wouldn't commit even if they were permitted. 

To the extent they move the bechirah point, even decisions that aren't in
the center of its spotlight can therefore yeild sechar. Again, assuming
that some amount of change is inevitable in every situation you face.

: It would be a strange thing to say that a person who was such a great  
: tzaddik, and who had so perfected himself, that he virtually no longer
: had a yetzer hara, would not get much of a reward in Olam Haba.

As already noted his moment of greatness didn't have much history, and
didn't last very long. (Perhaps part of the RH message is to reassure
people who wonder about how they do teshuvah for the same things every
year, and what's the value of it all?) At least this time around. Who
knows? Maybe it was the seed for the teshuvah Yishmael did at the end
of his life.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 23:20:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Birkat Kohanim

On Thu, Oct 25, 2007 at 07:23:45AM -0400, Richard Wolberg wrote:
:       The question then comes: if HaShem made His presence manifest that
: made it clear He was greater than the sun, couldn't there be a more gentle
: way of informing us?...

No. Yir'ah is related to fear for a real reason. Life is played for high
stakes; sometimes people need reminders of that.

:                      With the poison, you're dealing with an inanimate
: situation, but with HaShem, you would expect more understanding. Also, the
: analogy, though appealing, really isn't satisfying (at least to me).

The poison isn't equally "with Hashem"?

Some things He does because of the value of personalized response. Other
things He does because of the value of our having predictable consequences
for our decisions.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

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Message: 9
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 20:22:04 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Just what ARE the rules of p'sak anyway?

On 10/24/07, Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org > wrote:
> > How can  I answer Rabbi ABC? As a jew in need I request YOUR help!
> I believe that the statements of RABC fail on the grounds of a lack of
> respect
> and lack of consideration for individuals who were unquestionably among
> those
> who transmitted the Torah to us.
> Let's face it, Judaism is alive, it isn't dug out and suddenly discovered
> in a
> museum. To study halakhah without the highest regard for some of its
> greatest
> transmittors displays a lack of yirat shamayim and is not very sensible,
> either. After all, just like in the aggadeta Hillel showed the candidate
> convert that TSBP is inherently part of Torah, otherwise we wouldn't be
> able
> to definitely identify the meaning of the letters and the language, so,
> too,
> we cannot truly approach TSBP and thus halakhah without the continuous
> tradition PASSING THROUGH Tosafot, as well. What they and BaHaG and the
> Tosefta posited is relevant to our understanding of TSBP.
> This does not mean that one could never choose to disagree with one
> shittah
> and choose another shittah. It might even be possible, in some exceptional
> circumstances, to come up with something altogether novel. But our
> positions
> grow out of the common beit midrash of the ba'alei hamessorah.
> We should also care to add that if one claims that particular ba'alei
> messorah, especially fairly important ones, were biased, where should he
> stop? Why not posit that the Tannaim and Amoraim were biased, too? How
> about
> some major biblical figures? No, for there to exist any messorah,
> whatsoever,
> we must accept that at least the major players were acting out of concern
> for
> Torah, and not out of mysogynism or whatever other biases they may have
> had.
> This is one of the great differences between us, maaminim benei maaminim,
> and
> Zacharias Fraenkel's historical positivist school of thought, which gave
> birth to C.
> KT,
> --
> Arie Folger
> http://www.ariefolger.googlepages.com

See a related story on how distrust of Masorah might play out in real life!

Blog: NishmaBlog
Post: The Fascinating History of Ananburg

I agree with Arie Folger's points. But I am afraid I do not find them
sufficiently convincing to win a debate on the matter

Also, I must confess that my replies to  Zev Sero are similar. It is NOT
that Zev SEro's responses are WRONG, the are just not convincing proof -
[iow they are not dispositive].

FIWIW -  I have approached several prominent Rabbis who are not quite
Gedolim but are  near-GEdolim and they both tell me that Halacha nowadays is
essentially based upon consensus - similar to the Shittos of Beis Yosef and

The problem? There are SO many times that a practice taken for granted as
normative gets tossed aside that to make the Shita of consensus as REQUIRED
is itself nearly impossible to normative.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 10
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 03:14:07 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rambam and Elitisim, was Religion and

R' Allen Gerstl wrote:
> The letter is addressed to a simple Jew in Baghdad who wrote Rambam 
> telling him that he is an Am Ha?aretz (an ignoramus), ...
> Rambam answers him:
> "First know that you are not an Am Ha?aretz! You are my pupil and 
> beloved as is anyone that is endeavoring to cleave to learning Torah 
> whether he understands one verse or one Halacha, whether in Hebrew, 
> Arabic or Aramaic. The purpose of learning is to understand the 
> subject in any language; after all reading of Shema is permitted in 
> any language how much more the commentaries. 
> R' Guttman continues:
> I find this letter very uplifting. It puts to rest the accusation of 
> an elitist Rambam. He was elitist in the sense of having expectations 
> for constant self-improvement but he saw it as a universal capability. 
> Everyone has the ability to grow! ...
You are reading way too much into this letter. According to your view, 
how would the Rambam have written if he was an elitist? Do you think he 
would have discouraged someone from learning if he was incapable of 
being a genuine talmid chochom!?
It is also important to know the circumstances regarding this letter. 
Prof. Stitskin in his "Letters of Maimonides" says the following:

"At the time of Maimonides, the authority of the Gaonate had faded. Many 
of its adherents felt that the appearance of the great Code, the Mishneh 
Torah, by Maimonides would render a final blow to that authority. One of 
the vociferous spokesmen, who may have been motivated also by personal 
considerations, was the head of the Talmudic Academy of Baghdad, Samuel 
ben Ali. He allegedly attempted to challenge the trend and restore the 
authority of the Gaonate by discrediting the credentials of Maimonides 
as a Talmudic scholar and by accusing him of disbelief in many religious 
doctrines, such as resurrection. Samuel ben Ali was not only vocal in 
his bitter criticism of Maimonides but published rcsponsa and monographs 
in which he maligned his character and his halakhic competence. One of 
the staunchest supporters of Maimonides was a reIatively unknown 
resident of Baghdad, Ibn Gabir. He had studied the Commentary on the 
Mishnah which was written in Arabic but was unable to read the Mishneh 
Torah as it was written in Hebrew. But he was determined to answer the 
objection of Samuel ben Ali by challenging the latter's 
misrepresentations. In the following letter he put to Maimonides several 
direct questions which agitated the minds of the Jews of Baghdad, hoping 
thereby to respond intelligently to the criticism levelled against 
Maimonides and at the same time reveal the malicious motives of the 
critics. Accordingly, the reply of Maimonides reflects not only his 
rational approach to halakhic problems but his philosophy of learning as 
a continuous process of growth, which constitutes the highest 
commandment of Judaism. It was written in Cairo in 1191. "

Daniel Eidensohn


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