Avodah Mailing List

Volume 24: Number 62

Mon, 19 Nov 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Gershon Dubin" <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 16:08:09 GMT
[Avodah] Tum'at Yadayim

From: Galsaba@aol.com

<<Takanat Chachamim that Sefer Torah makes hands to be secondary Tumeah.Sefer Metamei Yadaim Lihyot Sheniyot.
What about the Seffer Torah itself.
Is it Tamei? or just Metamei?>>

The difference being....?
<<The Gemara (Berachos 22a) where R. Yehudah ben Beseira said, "The words of Torah do not receive Tum'ah". This is learned from Yirmiyahu 23:29 - "are not all my words like fire, said Hashem?". Just as fire does not receive Tum'ah, so too the words of Torah cannot become impure - also, the Beis Yosef OC 88 DH v'Aha.>>

This is intended, both in the Gemara and in the Shulchan Aruch, to say that when a PERSON is tamei, he may still learn Torah.  Nothing at all to do with touching KISVEI HAKODESH, whose tum'ah (one of the 18 gezeros in the 1st perek of Shabbos) is for a completely unrelated reason.

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Message: 2
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 16:33:11 GMT
[Avodah] Neglected Amens (was: Borchu UVoruch Shemo between

R' RallisW asked:
> BTW What is the most neglected Omein in Tefilloh? Either
> V'aazor or V'Sigoleh and the following ...vnomar Omein
> before Krias HaTorah. How many answer Omein?

I'll concede that those amens are indeed quite neglected, and probably do hold the record for it. But OTOH, there are not responses to actual brachos, and so the lack of an amen is not quite such a big deal.

In contrast, I'll use this opportunity to cite one of my pet peeves, that the most neglected Amen to a *bracha* is probably the one after Hamachazir Shechinaso L'Tziyon. I am amazed by how many people skip the Amen and go straight to Modim.

On the other hand, at least some of the fault for this must go to the chazanim. I have noticed that in many cases, each of the other brachos are ended on a low note, which signifies the end of a paragraph, which invites the people to respond with Amen. But time after time, I keep hearing "Hamachazir Shechinaso L'Tziyon!" ending on a *high* note, which invites the people to continue with "Modim".

I hope that your shul is not like mine, but if you listen carefully, you may see what I mean. (Disclosure: I confess that I am human, and prone to daydreaming, and I occasionally find myself responding "Modim" along with all the other sheep.)

Akiva Miller

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Message: 3
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 18:17:40 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Semi-circle menorah

<<I was a asking whether having the lights arranged in a straight row is preferred to a semi-circular or curved arrangement. In other words, is a semi circle problematic in terms of being k'madurah?>> 

<See KSA 139:9: "Haneros yihyu beshureh achas beshaveh lo echad gavoah
ve'echad namuch.." which one could read as you say.>

     The KSA explains b'shaveh as "lo echad gavo'ah v'echad namuch." Obviously, he is referring to it being vertically "shaveh," and makes no reference to the horizontal.


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Message: 4
From: regalkit@aol.com
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 13:31:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Torah Institutions = Tzeddakah?

regalkit@aol.com wrote:
> I don't know if this was discussed in the past, however I was wondering 
> if anyone knows the source for calling Torah Institution donations 
> tzeddakah?

Zev Sero responded:
No, it's not tzedakah in the strict sense.  But today the word "tzedaka"
in common usage means any worthy cause, any mitzvah, whether it's actual
tzedaka or talmud torah or other mitzvos.   In part this comes from our
minhag to give maaser, which can be used not just for mitzvat tzedaka
but also for any other mitzvah or good cause.  So all of those get lumped
under the term tzedaka, which they are in a broader and more vague sense.

Frankly, as no one disputed your interpretation of tzedakah, it would seem
?that there would be universal agreement to this definition among the group 
here. In other words most people (AFAIK most lump all charity together)
?mistakenly feel that they are obligating their ?Mitzvah of Tzedakah  
with donations to all charitable causes, thinking that all the benefits 
linked with the giving of Tzedakah are theirs as a result of their charity donations.

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: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 21:18:01 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Was Lavan daft, dense or what?

On Monday, 19. November 2007 13.20:37 Zev Sero wrote:
> No, I'm saying that there was nothing in the revelation that ought to
> have made him reexamine his pagan beliefs. ?All the revelation showed
> him was that there is at least one god, which he already believed.
> Why exactly should he have deduced from the confirmed existence of one
> God that all other gods are false?

I guess I implicitly assume that revelation is so overwhelmingly powerful and 
unequaled, that one would instantly distinguish that from other experiences 
and feel the truthfulness of that particular experience, intuitively leading 
to dismissing all other experiences, hence making monotheism obvious.

Note: Considering that G"d's statement to Lavan was quite clear, I do not 
consider it different from prophecy, but this point is just my hunch, not 
based on any sources besides chumash.
Arie Folger

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Message: 6
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 21:38:16 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Was Lavan daft, dense or what?

RDE wrote:
> M. Greenberg,
> however, has cast serious doubts on the validity of this interpretation,
> and maintains that since both the adopted son and the legitimate heir
> divide the inheritance equally, the possession of these household gods
> does not determine a title to inheritance but rather leadership of the
> family, and a claim to paterfamilias.

How would that interpretation be applicable to parshat Vayetze, since Rachel 
took the terafim as they were leaving, while the notion of paterfamilias 
seems most sensible when the larger family remains together? I.e., Rachel 
should not have expected for the family to be reunited anytime soon, and so 
there would be no opportunity nor any need for Ya'aqov to exercise the role 
of paterfamilias in Lavan's family.

Arie Folger

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Message: 7
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 17:56:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Was Lavan daft, dense or what?

Arie Folger wrote:

> I guess I implicitly assume that revelation is so overwhelmingly powerful and 
> unequaled, that one would instantly distinguish that from other experiences 
> and feel the truthfulness of that particular experience, intuitively leading 
> to dismissing all other experiences, hence making monotheism obvious.

Suppose I firmly believe in UFOs, despite never having seen one.
Now suppose that one lands right on my front lawn, little green men get
out and draw a circle in the grass, dissect my german shepherd (thinking
it to be a cow), kidnap the cat and then bring it back the next day,
after which it seems strangely sensitive about its rear end.  Should
this experience strengthen my belief that They Are Among Us and convince
me even further that all UFO reports are probably true, or should it make
me believe that there is really only one UFO, and most reports are false?

For that matter, suppose I *don't* believe in UFOs, think it all nonsense,
and then have the above experience?  Same question.

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: 8
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 19:07:10 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Was Lavan daft, dense or what?

On Nov 17, 2007 9:07 PM, Zev Sero <zev@sero.name> wrote:

> Pagans never had a problem acknowledging Hashem's existence and power.
> --
> Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
> zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
>                                                  - Clarence Thomas

I am agreeing with Zev here and adding that:

Lavan said: "Elokei AVICHEM"
IOW YOUR family's God - not mine
OPOSITE of Ruth Your  God is MY God, Lavan was saying Your God is NOT my God

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 9
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 18:43:46 -0500
[Avodah] Parshanus: How Does one Construe Silence?

Given: Rashi at times uses Gematriyas
Also Given: there are countless Times that the Ba'al Hatuirm uses a
Gematriya where  Rashi does not use one.
What can we say about this?

   1. Is it fair to conclude that if Rashi wanted to, he WOULD have used
   the same Gematriya as the Tur?
   2. Is Rashi's silence on a given Gmeatirya say nothing in particular?

   3. Is Rashi [or any parshan] always giving THE DEFINITIVE exhaustive
   4. Is the Peirush simply selecting one of several valid options w/o
   necessarily rejecting other possible explanations?

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 10
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 23:29:06 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Just what ARE the rules of p'sak anyway?

RYG writes:

> Even if we follow Rashi's explanation that the Gemara's
> (Kesuvos) question of "v'lidrosh l'hu d'ones shari" means that we
> should tell the women that they will be permitted to their husbands,

I wasn't aware there was any machlokus - it rather seemed to follow,
particularly from the reference a few lines down to the wives of cohanim for
whom the solution does not work.  How do you explain this portion if one
does not follow Rashi (ie what difference is there between stam wives and
wives of cohanim if not the permissibility of their husbands)?

> Gemara's reason for this is 'ones', to which Tosfos raise the
> objection that with regard to arayos there's no exemption for 'ones',
> since there's a rule of ye'hareg v'al ya'avor, to which RT answers that
> *that latter principle*, of ye'hareg v'al ya'avor, doesn't apply to
> non-Jewish aggressors.  There is absolutely no indication from the
> Talmudic dialectic that RT meant to say that his novelty in and of
> itself is a reason for permitting the women to their husbands; even the
> Meforshim who understand RT that way may be inferring it only m'svara,
> either by analogy to the bo'el or based on the conceptual innovation of
> RT.

I think it is more than that.  The final line discussing Rabbanu Tam's shita
is "d'lo shayich l'mamer echad l'baal v'echad l'boel b'bias mitzri".  Now to
my mind the straightforward reading of that is simply - that the concept of
the issurim which apply - echad l'baal v'echad l'boel do not apply when the
biah in question is that of a mitzri.  I can see how you want to say, well
despite the reference, this is only brought in the context of a heter in
relation to the boel, so we don't know what Rabbanu Tam says vis a vis the
baal.  But at most I think one could get out of that was you did not know
what Rabbanu Tam thought vis a vis the baal (but given the other gemoras
elsewhere, he must have thought .. ie this part is svara).  But the simple
reading still seems to be that Rabbanu Tam regards the principle of echad
l'baal and echad l'boel as being eliminated in this case, not just that half
of it is eliminated, being the boel half.  

> The Gemara in Sanhedrin is an involved discussion of the guidelines of
> mesiras nefesh for kiddush ha'shem; I see no subtext whatsoever of a
> consideration of the subsequent status of Esther or anyone else.

I agree with that specifically in the gemora in Sanhedrin.  But we know from
Megila 13b "shehaysa omedes mcheko shel Achashverosh v'toveles vyosheves
b'cheko shel Mordechai".  If Rabbanu Tam was also not explaining this, then
he needs some other explanation for this - and you would then have to
explain why that other explanation did not help with the general arayos
problem, ie why there was a need for Rabbanu Tam's explanation in the first
place.  This bit is indeed svara, but svara in the wider context of what we
know about Esther HaMalka.

> > Whereas it seems to me that afkinu in this context comes from left
> > field, its not picked up before and not picked up after, whereas you
> > would expect this to have been tussled over and discussed this way and
> > that way (just the way this Rabbanu Tam has), so at least we know all
> > the possibilities.  It just doesn't fit here.
> I don't understand your point here; it wouldn't have been discussed by
> the Rishonim, since there was no explicit responsum and in any event
> the issue didn't arise until the fifteenth century, and why the Aharonim
> don't discuss the DM has absolutely no relevance to its plausibility as
> an interpretation of the Gedolim.

The DM's use of Afkinu is clearly an extension over what is in the gemora.
And afkinu is such a useful tool that if it could be used in the way that
the DM wants to use it, you would expect it to come up all over the place.
The reason that the DM's explanation is indeed sensational as you describe
it is precisely because it is sui generis, there is no case like it.  That
militates against it being an accurate explanation.  If the Gedolim had
indeed used afkinu, you would have expected there to be an explosion of
afkinu related commentary.  And if anybody else had thought that you could
use afkinu in such a situation, given the opportunities you would have
expected lots and lots of similar afkinu references.  Whereas vis a vis the
Rabbanu Tam, well it does depend on whether or not you think my read is the
most natural one.  If you agree that it is the most natural one, then it
would be most likely that the first commentaries on it would be those who
are not comfortable with the natural read (such as the Trumas Hadeshen) and
hence feel the need to explain it differently.  And only then would you
expect those who supported the more natural read to jump to its defence and
explain the other problems with supporting the natural read (namely its
apparent contradiction in other gemoras).  That seems to be what has
happened. And against a background of the whole thing being discussed, there
might well have been some psak going on.

> I don't understand your argument at all; to the extent that he was
> mekadesh "according to his daas only", we actually *lose* any ability
> that we might otherwise have had to be mafkia the kiddushin, by virtue
> of the very fact that he didn't make it contingent on our da'as! In
> other words, afke'inhu means that since he made his kiddushin dependent
> upon our da'as, he has given us a veto.  You argue that this scoundrel
> hasn't done so, so then how do we overturn his kiddushin?  [Even if he
> has lied and mislead the woman into thinking that he was mekadesh
> a'da'a'ta d'rabanan, that probably isn't sufficient grounds for a case of
> kiddushei ta'us.]

Sorry, what I perhaps should have said is that there appears to be, as per
Tosphos in Baba Basra 48b, two kinds of, or possible explanations for,
afkinu.  The first is where the kiddushin was in fact k'hogon, ie everything
was done properly, but the get aspect was not k'hogon (a tnai in the get, an
annulling of the get before it reached the woman etc), and the justification
for afkinu was kol mekadesh adata d'rabbanan mekadesh.  And the second one
is where the kiddushin itself was not k'hogon - such as the case in Yevamos
110a where somebody snatched away the woman before she had a chance to be
properly mekadesh as an adult to the husband she had as a minor.  Where, as
mentioned in that Tosphos, it is difficult to say that the person was
makadesh adata d'rabbanan, given that they acted shelo k'hogon. If they had
intended to be mekadesh her according to the daas of the rabbanan they would
never have snatched her in the first place.  And that is why the rabbis
needed in those cases to employ hefker beis din hefker to make the kiddushin
money ownerless (or deem his biah, a bias znus if kiddushin was done that

Now you can argue it both ways.  If the person really meant what he said
about daas Moshe v'Yisroel, then he was giving the Rabbis the right annul
the wedding from the beginning if he did not act according to their daas (ie
the first case as per tosphos).  And if we are talking about their daas as
spelt out in some sort of takana then that is very easy to see.  It is
slightly more difficult if there is no clear takana to be pointed to, as he
is relying on daas he does not know about and could not be expected to know
about at the time, but still by no means impossible.  It would be easier to
get there if there were clear guidelines given at the time of marriage (one
of the ideas of a prenupt).  But it also means understanding adata
d'rabbanan as applying in today's context.

On the other hand, if it can in fact be shown that the person in general had
little respect for rabbinic authority of any kind (true in a lot of cases
today, where numbers of those who technically fall within the category of
mesorev haget are not religious - albeit in many of those cases the wife
does not care either), it can be argued that the whole kiddushin was lo
k'hogan and hence the route to afkinu is hefker beis din hefker (kiddushei
biah being almost non existent today).  Now my understanding is that hefker
beis din hefker might be somewhat easier to apply today than working out
whose daas he relied on at the time of his kiddushin, and whether that can
be applied to the rabbis of today.  But the only precedent we have for this
kind of afkinu is where the kiddushin was lo k'hogan.  And further, one of
the things that distinguishes the society of today from previous societies
is the level of general lack of respect for rabbinic authority (not to
mention Torah authority) generally.  The intention to act properly is not
the given it once was.

It also depends on who it is you are trying to help.  Is it just nice
religious women who would not dream of remarrying without a rabbinically
sanctified resolution of their marriage, or is it also, perhaps, the
offspring of parents who didn't necessarily care less, but where there was
an Orthodox marriage in there somewhere because it was the conventional
thing to do.

> Yitzhak



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Message: 11
From: "Richard Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 22:10:34 -0500
[Avodah] Borchu UVoruch Shemo between Borchu and Shmono Esreh

Is there any support for those who answer Borchu UVoruch Shemo  between 

Borchu and Shmono Esreh? Why is it so ingrained in a lot of  people?

It was always my impression that between bor'chu and the amidah it would be
considered a hefsek and therefore not done. It seems to me that the people
who do it are unaware of the halacha or they feel "for every action, there
is a reaction." 


BTW What is the most neglected Omein in Tefilloh? Either V'ya'azor or  

V'Sigoleh and the following ...vnomar Omein before Krias HaTorah. How many


I don't recall anyone ever answering omein and never really gave it a second
thought. It's almost as if it's the ba'al koreh's private omein.


Kol tuv/best regards.


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Message: 12
From: "Richard Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 22:16:17 -0500
[Avodah] A few MORE notes on Parshas Vayetzei

It has been pointed out that the most striking parallel to this parasha is
the story of the descent to Egypt. There are so many obvious thematic
similarities and complete correspondence between the two accounts that it
figuratively can be regarded as the same tale.


We see the following literary parallels as well:  Yaacov 'works' (vaya-avod
-- 29:20) for Lavan and Israel were made to 'labor' for Pharaoh (vaya-a-vidu
-- Sh'mot 1:13);


God 'sees' (ra-iti -- 31:12) what Lavan has done to Yaacov, and God 'sees'
(Sh'mot 3:7) the affliction of His people;  


Yaacov became (m'od m'od 30:43) 'exceedingly' wealthy and Israel
'exceedingly' (bim'od m'od -- Sh'mot 1:7) multiplies;


 Yaacov 'fled' (vayivrach -- 31:21) from Lavan and Israel 'fled' (varach --
Sh'mot 14:5) from Pharaoh;


 Lavan is 'told' (vayugad -- 31:22) that Yaacov has 'fled' and Pharaoh is
'told' (vayugad -- Sh'mot 14:5) that Israel has 'fled';  


Lavan 'pursues' (vayirdof -- 31:23) Yaacov, and Pharaoh 'pursues' (vayirdof
-- 14:8) the children of Israel.


The other fascinating parallel is that according to Rashi (Sh'mot 14:5),
Pharaoh learns of Israel's failure to return on the 'third day' of their
Exodus and finally catches up with them at the Reed Sea on the 'seventh
day', exactly as is recorded concerning Lavan:  "Lavan was informed on the
'third' day that Yaacov had fled and he pursued him a distance of 'seven'


As one can see the story of Yaacov and Lavan is the same story as
Israel/Pharaoh, but with one significant difference:  Yaacov's enslavement
and redemption is about an individual whereas Israel's enslavement and
exodus is the story of a people. The God of Israel is interested and
concerned with both aspects of human existence: the personal and particular
as well as the communal and collective. 


Kol tuv/Best regards



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