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Volume 24: Number 76

Mon, 26 Nov 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 09:13:28 +0100
Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d

RZS wrote:
> You have two choices. Either it's a fact, or he was a liar. ?And *that*
> is a very dangerous position.

What is the source for either statements, that the Besht studied with A'hayah 
haShiloni, and the Ari with Eliyahu?

Arie Folger

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Message: 2
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 10:48:39 +0200
Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d

R' Zev Sero wrote:
<You have two choices. Either it's a fact, or he was a liar.  And
*that* is a very dangerous position.

Not at all. There are many explanations including that he never said
it, he was misunderstood etc. There are so many chassidishe maases out
there, do you really believe every one is true?

In any case, did the Gra accept this? R' Chaim Brisker, the Netziv, R'
Meir Simcha, any of the non-Chasidic Gedolim? Clearly not because they
did not become Chasidim, in fact most of them were very anti-Chasidic.

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Message: 3
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 12:28:29 +0100
[Avodah] status of the Ari & Besht

> <As for the question of rishonim and acharonim and yeridas hadoros,
> that model doesn't fit the Baal Shem Tov, whose rebbe was <Achiyah
> Hashiloni.
> To state that the Baal Shem Tov's Rebbe was Achiyah Hashiloni as an
> undisputed fact is a bit much. The Gra certainly didn't believe that
> the Baal Shem Tov's Rebbe was Achiyah Hashiloni. I don't think that
> any of the Litvishe Gedolim (certainly not the Briskers) throughout
> the generations ever believed this story. As RYBS would say it is a
> chassidishe maase. To state that because of this maase the Baal Shem
> Tov is not governed by the general klallim of yeridas hadoros and
> rishonim is very dangerous.

You have two choices. Either it's a fact, or he was a liar.  And *that*
is a very dangerous position.>>

Does this special status of Ari and Besht apply to halacha or just hasgacha?
The ability of the Ari and Zohar to outweigh SA seems to be a
machloket of Eidot Ashekenaz
and eidot Sefard. However, certainly NO ONE outside of chassidic
circles gives the Besht the
right to override SA. In fact this was one of the main complaints
against the early chassidim i
including zemanei tefillah.
In recently RMF does not understand the right of chassidim to change
their nusach tefillah.

To accuse all these poskim of calling people a liar and being a
dangerous position seems itself to
be a dangerous position

Eli Turkel

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Message: 4
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 10:19:36 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Borchu UVoruch Shemo between Borchu and Shmono

>> I do not know why RYBS recommended saying the berakhah with the Chazan,
>> to avoid having to think about not wanting to be yotzei a mitzvah. Why
>> didn't he simply suggest answering BHUBS, and thereby not be yotzei?
> Iiuc he didn't answer bhbs to any brachot(minhag hagra?)

According to R' Bezalel Naor, the Gra opposed saying "BHUBS" because
missing the vav of "uvaruch" made the gematria of the phrase 814,
which is Shabtai Tzvi.  So he found ways to avoid saying it.  Perhaps
the Briskers (and RYBS) picked up on this aversion to BHUBS, even if
the original reason had since gone away?

And what is the significance of just saying "br'shmo", which seems to
be the most commmon way BHUBS is actually pronounced?

    Jonathan Baker      |  I have a little dreidel, I made with some gluons
    jjbaker@panix.com   |  When it's dry and ready, it'll spin like muons.
                    Blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com/

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Message: 5
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 08:03:22 -0800 (PST)
Re: [Avodah] Fables and Lies

"kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com> wrote: 
  At this time of year, it is common for American Christian families to teach their children a particular such "fable and lie", in order to motivate those children to good behavior. This is so widespread, in fact, that it is a rite of passage when those children come to learn the truth of this fiction.

For many years, I was particularly proud that all of the Midrashim, legends, and stories which we tell our children are true. And even if an occasional story might appear with different details in different versions, the main thrust is generally accepted as genuine. Torah Truth has no need for fiction.

And then, one Yom Kippur, during Ayleh Ezk'rah, I chanced upon a comment by ArtScroll. The same who is so often derided on these pages for taking a sanitized version of history, and passing it off as true. And even Rabbi Scroll had to admit:

> that while all ten of these righteous men were murdered by the
> Romans, their executions did not take place simultaneously, as
> described here, nor could they have, since two of the ten did
> not even live in the same generation as the other eight.
> ...
> The liturgical accounts of the martyrdom were not meant as
> historical records, but as dramatic accounts of the story, in
> order to evoke feelings of loss and repentance on the part of
> the congregation.

So it's not just the Christians. We too have fables, fictions, and lies. Perhaps it is only this one solitary example. But one is not zero.

My heart is still not fully healed from the pain of this disillusionment.   ---------------------------------
  According to the great medieval commentator Nachmanides, we are not required to believe in Midrashim. In his public disputation with Pablo Christiani, an apostate Jew who had become a Christian monk challenged him in public debate about Judaism versus Christianity, Nachmanides was asked by Christiani about a specific Midrash ( I forget the exact one and exactly what the challenge was. But at the very least it made Judaism look bad.) Nachmanides responded that Christiani?s proof was from a Midrash and we don?t have to believe Midrashim. This point was recorded by Nachmanides himself (in the Vikuach).
  In my view there is nothing wrong in using Midrashim to make a Hashkafic point, as long as one realizes that, unlike the Talmud the Midrash may not be true. It seems to me, the Midrash is more of an Hashkafic tool than an accurate representation of truth.

Want Emes and Emunah in your life? 

Try this: http://haemtza.blogspot.com/
Get easy, one-click access to your favorites.  Make Yahoo! your homepage.
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Message: 6
From: "yonah sears" <y.s.sears@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 12:35:36 -0500
[Avodah] Notes on Parshas Vayishlach (SBA)

SBA wrote:
*32:8/9 - 'Vayachatz es ha'am'...'vehoyo hamachneh hanishor lifleita'.
Yaakov split up his camp into 2 (and according to the Midrash - a day's
travel apart from each other).

Presumably Yaakov's main concern here in doing this 'yachatz' wasn't to save
his cattle or his servants - but rather his wives and children.

But what do we see further on 33:1/2 ?
"Vayachatz es hayeladim" (BTW, there's that word again), but he had all the
wives and children together welcoming Esav !

So what then was the purpose of the 'shney machnos'?*

I just saw your question, but always assumed that the need for two camps was
no longer applicable after Yaakov defeated the malach, so Yaakov recombined
them before eventually reaching Eisav...
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Message: 7
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 13:36:07 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Fables and Lies



	>> To repeat [RBW's] question:
	> the people who are motivated to repent will basing their
	> Hashem based on a fable, and maybe even on a lie. Do we really
	> want that?
	RAM:  My gut reaction is to scream, "No! It is too dangerous!
How will they react when the lie is discovered!" But that consideration
does not seem to have bothered those who chose to include Ayleh Ezk'rah
in the machzor.<<
	TK:  And again, I think you are being too sensitive.  Eilah
Ezkarah is not a "lie."  Do the notes to the A/S machzor say that they
never lived and were never persecuted and were never killed by the
Romans?  No it does not.  I think the A/S is to be commended for acting
like adults and not trying to fudge the fact that this poem is just that
-- a literary device.  BASED ON A TRUE STORY -- or actually, ten true
and tragic stories.
	I think the problem is when these are taught as true (or at
least no mention is made) and then kids (adults) believe them like the
ikkarim (meaning someone who says "it's a medrash and may not be
literal" is looked at as a borderline apikores)
	Joel Rich

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Message: 8
From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@panix.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 13:42:43 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Kashrus Question Chametz sh'avar alav haPesach

> From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
> Richard Wolberg wrote:
>> As well, the purchase of bread immediately
>> after Pesach from a non Jewish establishment is forbidden if it were baked
>> during Pesach.
> Huh?  Since when?  And why?
On Motzei Pesach it was the custom of the Yiddim for generations to buy 
bread from the non Jews.  That is behind the famous story.  (I think, but 
am not sure that it was teh Nodeh Biyehuda) of the plan by the anti 
semites to kill the Jews by poisening the bread they would buy on Motzei 
Peaach.  The Rav who helped some non Jewish boy in his childhood, was 
warned by that person.  He then announced in shul on Achron shel Pesach 
that he goofed in the calculations and that it was really Shvii shel 
pesach, thus they had to keep Pesachdik for an extra day.  This exposed 
plot and saved the Kehilla.

Harry J. Weiss

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Message: 9
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 20:50:15 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Fables and Lies

> From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
> Subject: [Avodah] Fables and Lies

> In the thread "proofs of G-d", we were discussing the scenario that some 
> gedolim posit a linkage, that a specific tragedy was caused by a specific 
> failing, and that they do this in order to inspire people to do teshuva, 
> even though those gedolim are not neviim, and cannot say for a *fact* that 
> this failing caused that tragedy.
Okay, I don't have the sources in front of me, so any mistakes are mine.

While listening to a shiur by Rav Shabtai Sabbato on Berachot, this topic 
came up.  From what I understood, he described this issue as being a choice 
of people who reach a certain high level of whether or not every Tzara that 
happens to them would indeed be for a specific cause, intended to bring 
them through a new and higher step in their Torah education, or not.

I will continue below:

>> The liturgical accounts of the martyrdom were not meant as
>> historical records, but as dramatic accounts of the story, in
>> order to evoke feelings of loss and repentance on the part of
>> the congregation.

Forgive me, but I think that part of growing up, is learning truth from 
fable, history from tales intended to teach a point etc.  While as a child I 
enjoyed Kol Aggadot Yisrael and other similar collections of books, I never 
took the stories of the Satan speaking to people literally.  I don't think 
that these stories were intended to be taken so.  We don't believe in a 
divided power, there is only one Hashem.  What exactly does Satan represent 
is an issue for other posts (I think it was discussed in the past).

The poem Ayleh Ezke'rah is indeed one of the poignant points of the tefilla. 
It's hard to use the term "love" with regard to such a tale of loss and 
heartbreak, but every time I read it, it touches my heart.  It never dawned 
on me to take the "and next" as a literal "the next day" or even "the next 
month" or anything similar.  I also don't think anyone literally saw the 
letters rising above the flames, but I can understand what the poet was 
trying to convey.  I am very sorry to hear that some people are not taught 
from childhood to differentiate between the various types of Aggada.

What worries me more is that sometimes, it is essential for the 
understanding of a G'mara to know the historic order of Tanna'im and 
Amora'im mentioned in the sugiya, and not knowing could damage the study of 
the G'mara.

> My heart is still not fully healed from the pain of this disillusionment. 
> And I apologize if this post has disillusioned any others. But I think 
> that it is very relevant to the question which was asked in the previous 
> thread. And given RBW's comment, I figured it might be worthwhile to spin 
> it off into a new thread.
> To repeat his question:
>> the people who are motivated to repent will basing their avodat
>> Hashem based on a fable, and maybe even on a lie. Do we really
>> want that?

NO. We don't.  But disasters do cause people to ask why, and a generalized 
call for repentance is never out of place, and even a more pointed reminder 
of problems found in a community is also possible.  But without Nevi'im, we 
don't "KNOW" why something happened.  I know that there are various opinions 
on the issue of "mikreh" vs. "bechira" (as in everything is guided), but 
saying that a disaster is a reminder is okay.  Saying that xxxx caused the 
disaster is indeed problematic, IMHO.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Message: 10
From: Steven J Scher <sjscher@eiu.edu>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 13:24:53 -0600 (CST)
[Avodah] Hashgacha Pratis

> Moshe Y. Gluck:
>> Why is it so difficult for so many to believe in the concept of Hashgachah
>> Pratis (without getting into if it is correct according to the Mesorah or
>> not)? Is it because of conflicts with Bechirah?

R' David Riceman:
> It's because what actually happens in the world seems to conflict with
> God's justice -- tzaddik v'ra lo is a tremendous problem.  See Chavel's
> introduction to the Ramban's commentary on Iyov.

Forgive my naivete in this discussion... I"m just trying to understand.

But, does hashgacha pratis only apply to making sure that good things 
happen to the tzaddikim and bad things happen to the reshaim?

If HaShem has individual attention to each of us, couldn't it be that He 
is controling things for what ever grand scheme plans He has -- not 
necessarily for the _individual's_ outcome, but for the overall outcome 
for the olam.

Now, perhaps this conflicts with His beneficience.  Or, at least requires 
us to redefine His beneficience to mean a collective beneficience, rather 
than an individual beneficience.  But, that doesn't seem to me to conflict 
with Jewish belief: The Torah brims over with notions of collective reward 
and collective punishment.

I do think that hashgacha pratis conflicts with our human notions of 
bechira.  But, then, the concept of HaShem Himself is in reality 
incomprehensible to our human minds, so why shouldn't this aspect of His 
Being be beyond our understanding.

- Steve

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Message: 11
From: Steven J Scher <sjscher@eiu.edu>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 13:37:08 -0600 (CST)
[Avodah] Kiruv & Liberals

R'Yonaton Kaganoff:

>  I find it disturbing when when young idealistic Jewish activists who
have been active in liberal, left-wing political causes, are told by Kiruv
professional that these ideas could be find in Judaism, when the Kiruv worker
knows, quite well how politically and culturally right-wing most Orthodox
Jewish communities are.

Rn' Toby Katz:

>But most of the values that move young and idealistic Jewish activists
>really DO have their source in the Torah!

Like many, I am shocked to agree with Rn'TK.  As a not-so 
young, but plenty idealistic left-wing Jew, I do think that many of the 
progressive ideas that we lefties promote are Torah values.  However, 
R'YK's point is also absolutely correct: It is a problem if people 
become BTs on the basis of a belief that their liberal values are 
expressed in the Orthodox world.  As I became more and more frum, I 
quickly learned that it was a mistake to express some of my political 
beliefs in certain communities.

The solution, though, is not to deny the Torah-source of progressive 
values.  The solution is to try and build more left-leaning Torah 

And, of course, ad khan agreement with Rn Katz:

Of course, as these young 
>more Torah, in most cases they will come to see how leftists have
and misinterpreted these values of righteousness and justice.   But the
are still Torah values.

As is obvious from what I wrote above, I disagree with this.  I think that 
the Torah can certainly support many of the progressive values.

- Steve

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Message: 12
From: Yitzhak Grossman <celejar@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 15:10:51 -0500
Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d

On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 12:52:17 -0500 (EST)
"Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> My biggest problem is understanding how to define the difference
> between HP and teva. HQBH created both. The rishonim discuss a


> With a modern understanding of how the world works, The only
> difference seems to be whether we attribute His decision to the
> individual case, or to a general rule set into motion nearly 6,000
> millenia ago. Did Hasehm decide on 9/11 to save this tzadiq and allow
> that one to perish, or did He create a world in which that would be
> the outcome if people chose to do what they did that morning? Hashem
> doesn't have a concept of time, so mitzido, it's the same decision no
> matter when we attribute it to. If we view it in terms of 6 millenia
> beforehand, we're saying that HQBH knew when He set up teva, that He
> was setting up a universe in which hu yichyeh, vehu yamus.

There's a major distinction even without reference to time.  Does God
care about individual incidents and the consequences of His laws for
individual entities, or does He care solely about the fate of His
creation in the aggregate, without being concerned about the fate of
particular creations?

> To put it another way... Is it defying HP when Hashem chooses to allow
> an evil person's bechirah delay another person's sechar va'onesh? Or
> to allow the bechirah possible through hester panim, and thus allow
> the expected natural event to occur? Aren't those too His deciding
> what should happen? When speaking of the Borei who set everything into
> motion, isn't His decision not to act the same thing as His decision
> to set things up so that that inaction would have a particular
> outcome? In which case, didn't the Aibishter really act, as part of
> the "set up"?

His decision to refrain from action in a specific case might indeed be
the same as action, given Divine Omniscience, but a decision to ignore
a large class of events or created entities and allow broad natural
principles to determine their fates without regard to any individual
distinctions between members of the class or entities would not be HP.

> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha

Bein Din Ledin - bdl.freehostia.com
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