Avodah Mailing List

Volume 24: Number 105

Tue, 25 Dec 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: David Riceman <driceman@att.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 10:32:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Freedom of exegesive interpretation

Richard Wolpoe wrote:
> Tangential question:
> Can normative Halacha be derived Bb Rishonim/Acharonim directly from 
> p'ssukim w/o Talmudical sources?
See Tshuvoth HaRambam, ed. Blau, #286, esp. note 10.

David Riceman

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Message: 2
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 10:44:27 -0500
[Avodah] Interesting Netziv

[This was already posted to Areivim, and R' Micha suggested it be posted

See Birchas HaNetziv on Mechilta, Yisro, 4, s.v. Kol Zman She'hu Holech
where he says that at Churban Bayis Sheini there were three groups, the
Essenes, the Philosophers, and the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah (not in
actuality, but their Hashkafic descendents, Perushim/Pharisees). The
Essenes, he says were ascetic, separated from people and were a Merkavah
L'shchinah. They were unsuccessful at ensuring the survival of Klal Yisroel.
The Philosphers ended up producing the Tzedukim. Only the Perushim, who were
Osek B'pilpula D'oraisa and were Marbeh Talmidim succeeded in ensuring Klal
Yisroel's survival.
The reason why I bring this up - and it might be obvious to everyone here
but me - is that it seems from this that the Volozhin school of thought, as
explicated by the Netziv, which was predisposed against Chassidus (which
could be seen as a parallel to the Essenes) and against secular study
(analogous to the Philosophers), saw itself as keeping alive the tradition
which dated back all the way back to the Churban Bayis Rishon and the Anshei
Knesses Hagedolah who said Haamidu Talmidim Harbeh (see the Netziv who
discusses that Mishnah). Given that context, it seems foolish that anyone -
from the right or the left - would think themselves able to change that
tradition. Also, it provides context to why the newer movements weren't seen
as Shiv'im Panim but as Kefirah (almost) because they had already been
demonstrated as unsuccessful in keeping Klal Yisroel alive. I'm curious what
the Olam thinks about this, and also if the Netziv was the originator of
this school of thought, or was he continuing a trend of thought that began
earlier, say with R' Chaim Volozhiner or the Gaon, or even earlier.


P.S. Sorry for rambling.   

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Message: 3
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 13:02:29 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Nittelnacht

Richard Wolberg wrote:

> Does anyone have an answer for:  If one of the reasons for this minhag 
> was the danger of getting beaten up outside, then why isn't there a such 
> minhag for Easter?                                                                   
> In fact, the danger was much greater on the latter day, since that was 
> when anti-Semitic sermons were delivered blaming the Jews for the 
> crucifixion. Any ideas?

Yes, the obvious answer is that this is a made-up reason, which AFAIK
doesn't appear until the late 19th century, whereas the minhag is
attested to far earlier than that.   AFAIK there is no evidence that
there ever was a goyishe custom of beating up Jews on Xmas eve (for
one thing Jew-beating is an outdoor sport, and Easter has better
weather for it...)

Similarly, given the obvious similarity between "nittel" and "natal"
I think we can safely dismiss *all* other theories about its etymology,
no matter how well-attested they are.  All of these other theories are
obviously post-hoc speculation by people living in countries where the
goyim called it something other than "natal", "natale", "nadal", etc.

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: 4
From: "Doron Beckerman" <beck072@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 10:03:22 -0800
[Avodah] Lashon Hara about non-Jews

I understand that there is no prohibition involved in telling Lashon Hara
about non-Jews, but someone asked me a question today. Assuming Lashon Hara
causes a Hashchasas HaMiddos, (or, alternatively, stems from a Hashchasah of
needing to feel superior to Ploni by putting him down), why would the Torah
allow us to spread Lashon Hara about non-Jews?
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Message: 5
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 13:39:11 EST
Re: [Avodah] Nittelnacht

From:  Richard Wolberg _cantorwolberg@cox.net_ (mailto:cantorwolberg@cox.net) 

>>Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik used to comment that "he is  willing to see  
the Hell  he gets                                                             
                                                  for learning Xmas eve....

Does  anyone have an answer for:  If one of the reasons for this minhag   
was the danger of getting beaten up outside, then why isn't there a   
such minhag for  Easter? <<

I heard it said about the Sochachover (IIRC) that he was willing to  risk 
whatever Gehenom he would get for learning Torah on Tisha B'Av.   Can anyone 
confirm that?
Your question about Easter -- xmas is especially associated with the night,  
with the darkness of night -- that's when their god was born and that's when  
they are all outside, going to church.  Easter is mainly celebrated on  Sunday 
morning and indeed I think that Jews did tend to stay indoors and keep  their 
heads down on Easter, but there isn't the same association with danger  
simply because it is celebrated by day and not by night.  
Also Easter often overlaps Pesach so people aren't learning so much  anyway, 
they're busy with other mitzvos.  And the first night of Pesach  especially is 
"Leil Shimurim."  I imagine in Europe when they opened  their doors and said, 
"Shfoch chamascha" they had special kavana for Easter  churchgoers and 
pogromists.  Also, speaking  mystically/kabbalistically/cosmically, Yoshka's birth 
unleashed all kinds of  evil into the world for us Jews, his alleged 
resurrection not so much.  All  this is just speculation.
(PS I said "for us Jews" because for goyim, on the whole, Christianity was  
an improvement over paganism and was better than any other religion  around at 
the time it started, or around today.  Can the same religion be  an elevation 
for goyim and a curse for Jews?  Yes.  Of course those  Christians who were 
"inspired" by their religion to commit murder lost whatever  benefit their souls 
might have had from their religion.)

--Toby  Katz

**************************************See AOL's top rated recipes 
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Message: 6
From: "Stephen R. Simons" <Shimjim2@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 13:45:16 -0500
[Avodah] Nitlnakht

Among some circles the custom is to play chess, which sharpens the intellect 
without learning leshem alias nishmas the birthday boy. Nitl is probably 
derived from natale. There is a Yiddish folk etymology that it is from 
nit or nisht as in nishtik!
Shimon Simons
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Message: 7
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 23:30:13 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Having a boyfriend equivalent to being married?

RMB Writes:

> While the gemara speaks of kesheirim when saying "ein adam 
> oseh be'ilaso..." the Rambam omits the word.

Sorry?  I don't know what editions of the Rambam you have, but my
edition has him most definitely bringing the word (as I spelled out in
my previous post on the subject see Vol 24, Issue 99 wher I quote
Hilchos Ishus, perek 7 halacha 23.) 

 Unless we think 
> it's simple shibush, it would seem the Rambam is making a 
> point; that being kasheir is a happenstance in the gemara's 
> case, not an essential criterion. It is unclear therefore 
> that the Rambam would make this connection. But the gemara 
> seems to, so I assume someone I am unaware of does as well.

Well since I see it stated explictly in the Rambam, I guess I find the
rest of this a bit difficult to fathom.

> What I was trying to day, with caps to show emphasis, was: I 
> think that RYBS's position inclines us to say that NEITHER 
> kind of chazaqah is a form of rov.

Well I note that the Encylopedia Talmudit wants (at least at one point)
divide the chazaka into three types, one of which was a chazaka m'ikara,
one of which comes from the koach of rov and one of which is an even
stronger form of anan ztadi.  I confess I am a bit underwhelmed by the
Encylopedia Talmudit's analysis of Chazaka.  For a start they seem to
contradict themselves a couple of times within the article, but you
might want to have a look to see how somebody else tried to classify the
different kinds.  Note BTW that in their analysis of ain adam oseh
beilso understand it to be a part and parcel of chezkas kashrus, but in
their article on chazaka they seem to think it comes from rov (at least
at one point, I thought they resiled from that a bit elsewhere).
> My point was that given the existence of one law of birur 
> that defies rov, we can't assume that we can dismiss another 
> because today it violates rov.

But the problem seems to me bigger than this.  Because the gemora I
cited to you in Yevamos specifically says that chazaka only defies rov
according to Rabbi Meir (where you can add the miut that he is choshesh
for to the chazaka) and not according to the Rabbanan, who hold the
principle that ruba v'chazaka ruba adif, a statement again brought on
Kiddushin 80a  - which tosphos seems to bring on Yevamos there as a
general principle.  However on Kiddushin 80a, Tosphos appear to bring a
concept of a "rov chashuv" - so maybe you could say that the kind of rov
involved in your case in chullin is a rov sheino chashuv.  What makes
for a rov chashuv versus a rov sheino chashuv, I confess I have no clue
- which means I have no idea on what basis you could say that the rov in
your chullin case was ano chashuv.  But if indeed this is a rov and
chazaka conflict, I am not sure how else you get there, but that may
just as well be my lack of knowledge.  In other words, while I may have
identified one method in the rishonim of making distinctions, via this
tosphos, there may well be loads of others in other rishonim.  I am
pretty sure there is lots of subsequent discussion on this trying to
work out the individual cases.  But I think there is a very big risk in
identifying a case (such as your one in Chullin) which you assume shows
that chazaka can defy rov halacha l'ma'ase (but where it is not
identified by the gemora as doing so explicitly, so of course there may
be other reasons you and I have not thought of) and then using that to
draw conclusions, in the face of other places in the gemora where rov
and chazaka are indeed explicitly understood by the gemora as coming in
conflict, and where the gemora brings a principle which appears to be
the way we posken, namely  ruba v'chazaka, ruba adif.  At the very least
I would be very uncomfortable jumping to this kind of conclusion without
explicit rishonic support.  Otherwise aren't you saying that on the
basis of your own analysis, you are shlugging off a explicit principle
of the gemora?

> First possibility:
> We could have a law of birur that regardless of majority, we 
> assume that she felt tav lemeisav and the qidushin weren't a 
> meqakh ta'us.

In contradiction to the position, ruba v'chazaka, ruba adif.
> Second possibility:
> We could have a rov who deep down want the marriage and are 
> in denial, and thus the qiddushin weren't a mekach ta'us.

That is what I assumed he must be saying.

> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha



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Message: 8
From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@kayescholer.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 21:50:47 -0500
Re: [Avodah] A few Notes on Parshas Vaychi

In Avodah Digest V24#102, RSBA wrote:
> And the first to give a stipend to  Kollelniks !
> Baal HaTurim (49:15) writes that not only did Zevulun teach Torah to Klal
Yisroel - but he also paid all those who came to learn... <
Sorry, but the BhT is writing about *Yissachar*, not Z'vulun.
(Additionally, I wouldn't describe "shehayah maspiq lahem" as providing a
stipend but rather as providing for their overall needs, more like housing
& feeding Yeshiva "apprentices" than paying a salary.)

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2007 08:22:31 -0500
[Avodah] Who he could have been

Taking a lead from an Areivim conversation. Two people were discussing
R' Dr Hirschaut, a man recently lauded by the NY Post for his role in
getting cancer research off the ground and keeping it there. Notably, in
his photo for the paper he is sitting in front of a bookcase containing
a Miqra'os Gedolos, Kehati mishnayos, sefarim on medical ethics, etc...

The question was the hypotheticcal -- what would have been had RDYH
had been raised in a home that didn't value limudei chol? Would he
still have fulfilled as great of a role in life? After all, he has the
intellectual abilities of a talmid chakham, the business abilities of
becoming a great ba'al tzedaqah, etc...

All I know is that in that scenario, I would now be dead. Noa would never
have been born (not to mention the generations who be"H will come from
her), and the rest of my children would have been young yesomim these
past 4 years.

We're talking about a man who more than anyone else (and arguably
single-handedly) built the industry of cancer research. All those new,
more effective, forms of treatment factor into *his* cheshbon. Every
dollar given by a survivor, every wedding he made more joyous because
the kallah's mother was able to be there, every word of Torah studied by
thousands impacted though his research and all the children ad olam they
wouldn't have otherwise had... He didn't become a poseiq, but without
his work numerous kehillos from YU to chassididei Bobov would have lost
their rabbeim decades earlier than they did. There is no mitzvah he
didn't play a critical part in enabling.

Even if someone else would have done it had he not stepped in, the time
lost would almost certainly have been the difference between whether
the R-CHOP "cocktail" existed when I needed it, or not.

You ask if "hypotherically speaking, isn't it possible" he would have
accomplished an equal tafqid in life. Possible, yes. Remotely likely?

But this removes any implication from the point. I argued all of the
above because of the specifics of one person's extraordinary contribution
to society. The masses are making more ordinary contributions (by the
definition of the word "ordinary"), ones which we could well imagine
being equalled or surpassed had their lives gone elsewhere.

The Gra writes on Shema that a person must remember three things:
1- I am here to do the tafqid before me
2- I am living now in order to do the tafqid of today
3- I am the only one would could possibly do this tafqid as Hashem
   planned for it to be done.

The question of what R Dr Hirshaut would have been had he been born in
a family the "Torah only" hashkafah would have reached is pointless. Or
who a potential successor is going to be because it did reach their home,
or his mind when he "flipped out" in Israel, equally pointless. The RSO
made whom who he is, and that is not only nature, but also nurture.

Had Einstein ended up in yeshiva, he would have been one of the greatest
lights of that generation. But he wouldn't have been Einstein. He would
have be been a different person, a different soul with a different tafqid.

It is only the person for whom the choice was brought to their nequdas
habechirah in which we can say they contributed this rather than that,
and actually compare the two. Without that moment of asking oneself "im
la'eis kazos higat lamalkhus", one is asking about the opportunities
given, not what the person did with them. Might as well ask what he
could have bcome had Hashem blessed him with wealthy parents or granted
even greater intellect. Or, for that matter, had he been blessed with
a father who didn't die of cancer when he was young,

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Message: 10
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:02:35 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Who he could have been


The Gra writes on Shema that a person must remember three things:
1- I am here to do the tafqid before me
2- I am living now in order to do the tafqid of today
3- I am the only one would could possibly do this tafqid as Hashem
   planned for it to be done.


As I argued lshutatam on the blog, one could argue that even such an
individual as under discussion had a greater tafkid (learning, teaching
torah) and had he completed that alternative tafkid HKB"H would have
sent the refuah quicker, more expansive through other sources. Perhaps
some (many) are zoche to have ruach hakodesh to know what their primary
(if it exists) tafkid was meant to be. I was struck by a question asked
of John Edwards at a candidates gathering with christian believers - it
went something like "how does prayer inform on your decisions and how do
you know it's gods voice you hear and not your own?"  (he didn't answer
daas torah :-))

Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
strictly prohibited.  If you received this message in error, please notify us 
immediately by replying: "Received in error" and delete the message.  
Thank you.

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Message: 11
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2007 07:04:01 -0500
[Avodah] Abiogenesis

What I find most interesting is that the Gemara believed in  
spontaneous generation which has been scientifically disproven as the  
world was proven not to be flat. What I find to be ironic and  
paradoxical is that only God can create something from nothing. You  
would think this would have occurred to the great minds of the Talmud.  
True, their argument could conceivably have been that God put that law  
into motion, but it still could have raised a red flag.

The following came from a link given in a previous discussion by Reb  
Micha: http://www.aishdas.org/book/bookA.pdf

My Rebbe, R. Dovid Lifshitz zt"l, used a similar idea to explain a  
problem. The Gemara explains that maggots found within a piece of meat  
are kosher.
The reason given is that they were born from the meat, an idea known  
in the history of
science as "spontaneous generation". Therefore, halachah treats the  
maggots identically to
the meat.
Spontaneous generation has since been disproven. Maggots come from
microscopic eggs, not abiogenetically from the meat. Now that we know  
that the
underlying science is wrong, need we conclude that the halachic ruling  
is also wrong?
Rav Dovid taught that the halachic ruling is still applicable, because  
microscopic eggs and maggot larvae are not visible, and therefore  
(like the insects in our
first example), lack mamashus. The only cause for the current presence  
of maggots that
we can see is the meat.
Viewing the question in terms of human experience, the meat is the  
only source of
the maggots. Bugs or eggs that are too small to be seen, while we  
might cerebrally know
they are there, can?t have the existential impact as those I could,  
and ought to have,
noticed unaided.

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