Avodah Mailing List

Volume 24: Number 41

Sat, 03 Nov 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 11:07:04 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Societal Needs vs.Self-Perfectin was re:

On Thu, November 1, 2007 11:19 pm, R Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: See Sanhedrin Mishna 9:5 [recnet Mishna yomis]
: The only missas beis  din that warrents Kippa due to flawed testimony
: is "horeg nefesh"
: Reason?
: Kehatti Citing Talmud: Only horgei Nefesh get kippah that even though
: that there are avieros hamuros than Shefichus damim, neverthless they
: do not entail haschasa yishuvo shel olam"
: Thus we see that the singular point is to enforce Yishuvo shel olam
: and to counter hash'chassas yishuva ehshel olam...

No, we see that the point of kippah is to enforce yishuvo shel olam.

Lemaaseh, if there are eidim rather than solid evidence, the hasraah
was valid, etc... one can get misah without risking the kelal. So it
would seem that rather than kippah proving your point, the rest of Mes
Makkos /disproves/ it.

This returns me to something I objected to earlier in this thread.
(And related to my discussion with Cantor Wolburg about chesed vs din.
Ever notice how rich we are with Rich[ard]s?) Proving one doesn't
disprove the absence of the other. You don't need to be a chassid of
RYBS to realize that life often presents you with choices between
conflicting *positive* values. Communities are built to serve their
members; the members' highest calling is to serve the community.

Dinei nefashos are based on uvi'arta hara'ah miqirbekha -- concern for
the kelal. In fact, when it comes to batei din as a qiyum of the
mitzvah to benei Noach, I may have to stop there. However, for our BD,
there is also the individual's kaparah motivating the onesh. Both are

However, like in my summary of RYBS's dialectic in "Community", people
build communities because the individual does better in a group. The
group doesn't spawn individuals. There is an asymmetry. Man's calling
to serve the community can be seen as deriving from the community's
ability to help as many individuals as possible. And thus it's really
just my calling to help other individuals -- a tool for doing so. One
can't reflect that back to the community's duty to serve the

And so, if halakhah aims to aid society, one can read it as its aim to
aid as many individuals as possible. Doing so wholesale via
constructing the right society is an efficient way to do so. But that
devolves the second side of the dialectic. Two paragraphs ago I was
willing to say that chiyuv misah is caused by both uvi'arta hara'ah
and the onesh's redeeming effect on the chotei, now I am saying that
uvi'arta hara'ah is too aiding the individual -- all the individuals
in the klal.

The reverse can not be said. The kaparah of the dying man, or of the
whipped or fined mine, usually does not measurably aid society.

And thus, one could -- and did -- establish the whole edifice al regel
achas. "Man desani lakh, lechavertikha lo sa'avod". The duty is to the
individual chaver, and thus to the chevrah. Not to the chevrah

SheTir'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: 2
From: "Richard Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 07:14:01 -0400
[Avodah] What Level Miracle?

There is a reason why the Maharal's introduction to Gevuros Hashem takes the
Ralbag to task with how tightly he embraces philosophy. In that case, it was
his rejection of the notion that nissim could defy teva.


It is my understanding that teva, though not perceived by many as such, IS a
miracle. However, it is a "natural" miracle (pun intended).

The type of miracle referred to above is a SUPERnatural miracle, and I
cannot see how he could reject the notion that nissim could defy teva.
That's the whole point of a supernatural miracle - it DOES defy teva. That's
what makes it supernatural. 

As a side, it's a miracle that we can communicate with each other via this
modality, irrespective of where we live. We don't see it as a miracle
because it is a natural miracle. But when you are told that a loved one has
a few hours to live and the person defies all medical science and pulls out
of death's door, that is a supernatural miracle that definitely defies teva.

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Message: 3
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 11:46:27 GMT
Re: [Avodah] V'sein Tal Umatar

R' Sholom Simon wrote:
> To call for a delay in a rain that hasn't come (autumn)
> isn't as bad as asking it to stop (prematurely) once it
> has started (spring).

I recall hearing something similar. What bothers me is that (in the spring) we would never actually ask for the rain to stop. We would simply refrain from asking for the rain to fall.

It seems to me that if Chazal would have chosen The End Of Adar rather than the First Day Of Pesach, it would be a simple matter for the gabbai to announce, "Remember! Tonight we start saying V'Ten Bracha!" - and what could possibly be wrong with that?

Rather it must be that Chazal were worried about a gabbai who would announce, "Remember! Tonight we don't say V'Ten Tal UMatar anymore, and instead, start saying V'Ten Bracha!" That is the critical bit: the possible inclusion of the words "Don't say V'Ten Tal UMatar".

It seems to me that even though this is merely an announcement rather than a prayer, and that even though the announcement does not call for any sort of negative request but merely calls for a halt to a previous positive request, even that bothered Chazal enough to require us to continue the request all the way to Pesach.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 4
From: regalkit@aol.com
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2007 10:06:26 -0400
Re: [Avodah] women learning Torah

"If girls don't learn Torah before they're  born, why do they have a pinch under their noses?" 
By extension the same question can be asked ad to why all humans have that pinch mark under their noses, everyone from the Chinese to the lost tribes in Africa. Did they all learn Torah, and if they did is that more problematic than a woman learning Torah?
Binyomin Hirsch

Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com
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Message: 5
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 11:06:32 -0400 (EDT)
[Avodah] Minhag Yisroel

A poster (never mind bringing moshiach, privacy is paramount) writes
about women's zimmun (on the unaussprechlich list):

> Actually it /is/ uncommon.  I've been around the block a few times and 
> have yet to see a women's zimun, though I have been at tables where the
> possibility of doing it came up in conversation.
> It is never done naturally, organically, unself-consciously because, quite
> simply, no woman alive today can say her great-grandmother used to make a
> mezuman.

Here's exactly a counterpart to our argument with RnCL over women's Torah

The halacha is clearly a spectrum from "chayavot" to "muttarot"; there is
no opinion that says "assur".  But the minhag has been, until the present 
feminist age, not to do it.

In hachi nami, the halacha in the SA does not rule out women learning 
Torah outside the home, but since nobody actually did it, it's regarded
as this big break with the past.

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

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Message: 6
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2007 12:08:47 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Subject: Re: Shabbas he mi lezok (added 4th

Richard Wolpoe wrote:

> Kaddish after Aleinu [after shir Hakavod] could use its own thread.
> The usual structure is
> Kaddish Yehei Shlamah after Mikra
> Kaddish Derabbnan after TSBP

Kaddish derabanan must also be preceded by mikra, which is why we say
the mishna "R Chananya ben Akashya", which ends with a pasuk.

> Aleinu and Shir Hakavod do not fit into any of the above

They're both followed immediately by a pasuk ("Vehaya Hashem lemelech"
and "Mi yemalel") precisely for this reason.

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: 7
From: Yitzhak Grossman <celejar@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 13:33:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Did Someone Forget Eilu v'eilu?

On Thu, 1 Nov 2007 19:02:10 -0400 (EDT)
"Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Wed, October 31, 2007 8:49 pm, Yitzhak Grossman wrote:
> :> What would Ralbag do with the Mishna in Avos (5:8) that says the Pi
> :> HaAson was created Erev Shabbos?
> : That's exactly the point; he rejects that Mishnah!  Here is the
> : beginning of his remarks (Bamidbar 22:21)...
> : Note that this is not your typical peshat / derush dichotomy; Ralbag
> : is not rejecting Hazal's opinion based on the written text, but is
> : rather maintaining that it is philosophically untenable *on its own
> : terms*.
> There is a reason why the Maharal's introduction to Gevuros Hashem
> takes the Ralbag to task with how tightly he embraces philosophy. In
> that case, it was his rejection of the notion that nissim could defy
> teva.

This is a misquote of the Maharal and a terrible misrepresentation of
the Ralbag's position on miracles, the existence of which he considered
of fundamental importance.  The Maharal's objections are rather more
complex and subtle than the above; here is the beginning of the
his discussion [0]:

---Begin quote---

There are some of the sages of our nation, such as the Ralbag, who in
his work has begun to investigate miracles, and he has said that some
miracles are 'be'ezem' and some are 'be'mikreh'.  Some are be'ezem, the
transformation of the stick to a snake and the water to blood, and some
are be'mikreh, the transformation of Mosheh's hand to become leprous
and the withering of Ye'ravam's hand near the altar.  There are also
some miracles that the prophet will know of before they occur, and some
that he will not know before they occur ...

---End quote---

After summarizing Ralbag's position at some length, he then proceeds to
criticize his views quite sharply, but his critique is against the
various assumptions that Ralbag makes about miracles and the limitations
that he places upon them, not on a supposed denial of the
very existence supernatural miracles. One of his objections is to the
Ralbag's restriction of miracles to the sub-heavenly region, which
compelled him to reinterpret the verses of "shemesh be'givon dom" [1]
and "va'yashev es ha'zel ba'ma'alos asher yardah be'ma'alos ahaz
ahoranis esser ma'alos" [2], but the Ralbag absolutely accepted, and
indeed insisted upon, the basic existence of supernatural miracles.

As a matter of fact, *right in my original citations* of Ralbag's
comments on the story of Bilam's ass is a clear acceptance of the
possibility of supernatural miracles; his rejection of the simple
reading of story is because God would not have performed *this
particular miracle* since it would have been, in the Ralbag's view,

> I would be unsurprised if conteporary O Jews take for granted things
> that the Maharal did, and the chevrah respond to the Ralbag with
> surprise. There are a number of baalei machashavah the RY of the 20th
> century emphasized: the Kuzari, the Maharal, the Ramchal and REED seem
> to top the list.

Ultimately, we have the Rivash's famous assessment of the Ralbag (in
the context of a warning against the dangers of studying philosophy)

---Begin quote---

And the scholar Rabbi Levi, he too [along with the Rambam] was a great
scholar in Talmud, and he made a beautiful commentary on the Pentateuch
and the books of the prophets, and he followed in the footsteps of the
Rambam.  But he too had his heart turned by those wisdoms far from the
true way, and he contradicted the view of the Rambam on certain issues,
such as Divine foreknowledge of future contingent events, and on the
standing of the sun for Yehoshua and the retrogression of the 'zel
ha'ma'los' he wrote things that are prohibited to hear ...

And now every man should argue a fortiori about himself: if these two
kings did not remain within the correct path on certain issues,
ke'vodam be'me'komam munah, how will we, asher lo ra'inu me'oros
le'erkam, remain there ...

---End quote---

While he obviously disagreed quite strongly with major aspects of
Ralbag's philosophy, he nevertheless considered him a great thinker,
ranking him with the Rambam and referring to him with great respect.

[0] Gevuros Hashem, Second Introduction
[1] Yehoshua 10:12
[2] Me'lachim 2:20:11
[3] #45

> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha

Good Shabbos,
Bein Din Ledin - bdl.freehostia.com
An advanced discussion of Hoshen Mishpat

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Message: 8
From: Elliott Shevin <eshevin@hotmail.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 13:41:27 -0400
Re: [Avodah] collective punishment

R. Micha Berger wrote:
> Rather, he was obligated to fully exterminate Amaleiq. By> killing everyone but Agag, Sha'ul haMelekh didn't fulfil the mitzvah> -- which then turns the killing into genocide rather than mitzvah.
Or rather, a justifiable genocide? I mean, you wipe out an entire 
nation for, as I like to put it, the crime of choosing the wrong 
parents--it's genocide. It just happens to be a mitzvah in this case. 
I for one am glad Amaleich's not around and I don't have to 
grapple with what for me is a serious moral dilemma.
 > Timkheh es zeikher Amaleiq implies that the problem is having anything> that makes us think of them and their values. The focus on us, and how> having them around will affect us. I could see constructing from this> a taam hamitzvah that has nothing to do with what they deserve.
I think the last two ideas are complementary: they're exterminated because 
they deserve it; having them around affects us badly because they're the 
sort of people who *do* deserve it.
I've always figured "timkheh es zeikher Amalieq" is idiomatic for "destroy."
Remember the rest of that maftir: "al tiskhakh." You can't refrain from 
forgetting if you literally erase the memory. This meshes with what 
I've said in another thread--whatever Amaleikh is needs to be 
Nor do I think literally erasing the memory of an evil is a good idea. What 
if Ahmadinejad and his ilk were to succeed in displacing the memory of 
the Holocaust? That would open the path to another, r"l, as would nothing else.
This was manifested by the fact that, as news reports regarding certain recent 
debates in the US Congress pointed out, as Hitler Y"S (not literally!) outlined 
his plans for the Final Solution, he asked rhetorically, "Who today speaks of the 
Armenian genocide?"
Peek-a-boo FREE Tricks & Treats for You!
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Message: 9
From: "Menachem Posner" <menachemp@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2007 20:04:29 GMT
[Avodah] RE; Women learning Torah

Toby Katz wrote:
   If girls don't learn Torah before they're  born, 
   why do they have a pinch under their noses?
The source of this is Niddah 30b. Interestingly, the Talmud mentions the angel tapping the baby on the mouth but nothing about the dent (philtrum) left behind. If this is the sole source, it would render your  question and that of whey non-Jews have dents immaterial; unless there is another source which does mention it.
Shabbat Shalom!

Click to get high quality postcards printed fast and easy.
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Message: 10
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2007 22:32:44 +1100
[Avodah] Alleged story about the SM"A

From: Noah Witty < >
There is "famous" story about the SM"A who was involved in a din torah,
which he lost despite his acumen in Choshen Mishpat.  The dayanim explained
that they actually paskened like the SM"A's own peirush on the matter, while
the SM"A had, in his own behalf, taken the position of the Sha"Ch, who
disagrees with the SM"A's peirush. The story is usually conveyed as a
morality tale about the blinding effect of self-interest (negi'os

QUERY:  1)    Does anyone have a printed source for this story? If the 
answer is Krohn, pleas identify the book, and possibly a printed source 
earlier than Rav Shwadron zt"l.


Shu"t Ksav Sofer YD: 109 - where the KS writes that he heard this "Mipeh
Kadosh Abba...ZT"L, ie the Chasam Sofer.


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Message: 11
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2007 23:45:44 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Specific to general vs general to specific (was:

RSM writes:

> I believe that there are very few cases in the Mishna, the 
> obvious yesod of TSBP, in which a halachic principle is 
> *derived* from a specific individual case, as in the case in 
> Yevamot RCL cited (there's a very similar example in Ktuvot 
> perek 2). The Mishna very often formulates the law it is 
> stating in the form of a case, not a principle, but it seems 
> to me that this is for the most part a stylistic or 
> pedagogical form, not an essential difference in approach. 
> Let's look at a few examples. Let's compare Kiddushin 1:1 
> with 3:1; the former a formal statement of principles, the 
> latter specifying the law in a specific case. Is the latter 
> an example of Chazal's "tendency to work upwards from a 
> specific case"? It seems to me more of a different way to 
> present the halacha than a fundamentally different  approach. 
> BM 2:1 states legal principles; 3:1 states what the law is in 
> a case. It seems to me that the mishna in the latter is 
> applying principles it knows to the case in hand (indeed, 
> citing one explicitly) rather than deriving legal principles 
> from the case. 

My first response to this was - well what do you expect?  I give you a
case where we see Chazal in action, ie the way they function when faced
with a new case and you cite me examples of halacha Moshe miSinai - ie
the essence of TSBP.  If there was anything that was more likely to be
"top down" I would have thought it would be halacha Moshe miSinai.

But then I thought - well is that really true?  Is it so easy to dismiss
the fact that the mishna also brings a lot of case law as merely
"stylistic or pegagogical"?   It strikes me that the mishna is far more
case oriented than say, the European law codes (I don't know about legal
codes of a similar era, eg Roman or Greek codes - or how about the Code
of Hammurabi)?  If one is formulating a code, rather than setting up a
case law system like the common law legal system which really does move
dvar mitoch dvar - surely one would expect just principle, just as one
does within statute law in common law jurisdictions.

It is also in many ways surprising, when you think about it, the way the
Torah itself often gives specific examples rather than general
principles.  For example, the discussion about negligent manslaughter
whose punishment is galus is all about a man who chops wood in a forest
and some of the wood flies off and kills somebody.  And then the mishna
in Makos discusses which things are included within the punishment on
the basis that they are similar to the case of the woodchopper or not.  

Because in English (and hence Australian) law, criminal law is statute,
rather than case law, based, the contrast to the way we learnt criminal
law at law school, and particularly murder/manslaughter is marked.  We
started with concepts such as mens rea and actus reas (evil intent and
evil act) and worked from there, only later getting into the case law.
This is in contrast to much of civil law under the common law system,
such as contract and torts, where because it is mostly case law based,
we started with Carlisle v Carbolic Smoke Ball (the advertisment that
said that if you bought a Smoke Ball, you were guaranteed never to catch
a cold), and Donahue v Stevenson (the snail in the bottom of the bottle
case).  However European legal systems are generally code based, not
case law based, and hence my impression is that they would be learnt in
manner which is more similar to our criminal law. 

So it seems that there are (at least) two alternate ways of formulating
a legal system, and the Torah (really surprisingly, would you not have
expected it to be codelike?), the Mishna (at least to the extent that it
is not bringing halacha Moshe miSinai), and Chazal often seem to me to
prefer something closer to the English common law system than the Code
system, which I then described as being a tendency to work upwards from
a specific case to general principle, rather from general principle
downwards to a specific case.  RRW's language dvar mitoch dvar might
have been better,  because of course once you have formulated the
principle from the case, you then bring it to bear on subsequent cases,
but the key thing is, that because you have the original case in the
back of your mind, you are always looking also at why the current case
might be distinguishable or why the original case is generalisable in a
way it seems to me that you do less if you are working from a Code.

> I will readily concede that in the gemara, deriving halachic 
> principles from a given case is much more common, but I still 
> think that to say broadly that the fundamental approach of 
> Chazal is from the specific to the general is not accurate. 
> On the contrary, I think that for the most part Chazal tend 
> to determine the halacha in specific cases from well-known 
> and accepted general principles. 

> Saul Mashbaum 

Shavuah Tov


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Message: 12
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2007 21:00:19 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Societal Needs vs.Self-Perfectin was re:

On 11/2/07, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> However, like in my summary of RYBS's dialectic in "Community", people
> build communities because the individual does better in a group. The
> group doesn't spawn individuals. There is an asymmetry. Man's calling
> to serve the community can be seen as deriving from the community's
> ability to help as many individuals as possible. And thus it's really
> just my calling to help other individuals -- a tool for doing so. One
> can't reflect that back to the community's duty to serve the
> individual.
> --
> Micha Berger

This is imho putting the cart before the horse.  Vayichan shows the need for
communal unity for receiving the Torah [ayein sham Rashi Parshas Yisro]

Man doesn't SERVE the community. He fills his destiny by performing his
role. Yonah didn't SERVE Ninenveh by warning them he did his mission.
Yirmiyahu did no SERVE his era,. he fulfilled the role that was his destiny
[beterm etzorcha bebetten yedaticha]  Did HKBH not know Shau'l's charatctger
flaws BEFORE Sh;'mu'el annointed him?  I'm sure HBKH did and His big
ciomplaint was as a warrior Sha'ul should hve bee nmore thorough with
Ameleik and Aggag.  That is probably what Made HKBH Agog over his failure.

David may have been a beter Eved Hashme as a warrior than Shlomoh was as a
peace-maker. But Shlomoh got to build the Mikdash. As a warriro, David's
role was not as a builder.

Torah  was NEVER given to individuals and the righteous deeds of shem
v'ever are really never mentioned in Mikra at all!  Nor are the deeds of
Yisro given any shrift EXCEPT in his interactions with the People of Israel
and its leader Moshe.

Moshe was appointed the receiver - according to Hirsch - davka because of
his flaws [ a flawed public speaker]. Had he taken a Dale Carnegie Course
first he would  have been rejected for the role to being with!

The point is obvious!. Torah was and is alwasy a covenant with a community.
In fact, we always brag about 2.5 million witnesses to mattan torah vs. the
PRIVATE revlations to J. of Nazareth, or Mohammed, or Buddha etc.  That is
no co-incidence. Unlike every GURU of every religion - Torah Judaism is NOT
based upon some model ofsome enlightened guru bent on self-perfection but
upon a peoplehood serving HKBH as a nation. This is the unique mesge of
Torah that NO other religious community shares.  [Tibetans might come the
closest aisi.].

The Community is not a shell to serve the individual, the inidividual is a
cog in the greater hole. The stories are even aback by ba'alei msusar who
tell rich people to stop fasting and do THIER tasks of doing charity.

Tzibubr requires resha'im - tzibbur - notrikon Taddik beinoni rasha.
Even you Pesach Sedre would be incomplete witha visit from one special

V'hoshe Kohanim l'advodassam. etc. implies every get back to their roles. If
self-perrfection were the ideal then we COULD say, v'hosheiva Tziddikim
l'avodsom,. Hassidim leshiram v'zimram and Yesharim lin'veihem. That would
be a model of meirotcary based upon self-perfection. Let's get the
perfectionsist to run everything. But are prayers are not about
perfectinionism but proper role playing.

Let's use football as a model.  We pray that the blockers block, the passers
pass, the receivers receive, the defense tackles, the defensive line
pressures the QB and the defensive backs cover the receivers like a glove.
It's not about their individual athletic abilities, it's about their roles.

And remember while one locust is harmles, a swarm is almost invincible.
Torah is about a society.

 We all give lip servie to AL targyag mitzvos. Do you know ANYONE who has
sat down and made a list of which mitzvos pertain to thmselves as a
indiviaul [as e.g. kohen a levi ,or a man or a women etc.]?! I haven't! No
one I know makes a personlized book of mitzvos that pertains to themselves.
The whole idea of perfection is 248+365 mitzvos is about ALL 613.  Yet 613
requires a society and government, a hierarchy etc. it is impossible for any
one person to do all 613.   Read Shoftim You need a melech, a kohein, a
navi, a  Levi , a tzeva, a shofeit a shoteir. Unless one is Andy Griffith in
Mayberry one doesn't wear all those hats onself.

Self perfection is really popular in the Mussar world for about 130 years or
so.  The idea that all of Torah was about self-perfection would have
probably been a head scratcher except maybe for a groups of lamed vavniks in
each and every generation.

And also most members are Americans imbued with a kind of "rugged
indvidualism" this ide never existed in the world unilt the last 200 years
or so.  In ancient and feudal societies there was no virtually such thing as
an individual

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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