Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 2

Wed, 02 Jan 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 15:38:58 +0200
Re: [Avodah] charging ribis to a Jew / non-Jew

> R' Micha Berger wrote: "WRT ribis, the pasuq implies what the difference
> is when taking ribis from a Jew vs taking it from a non-Jew. It uses the
> word "achikha". It's not that ribis is inherently immoral, it's that
> brothers don't charge brothers interest."
> Fahr vos nisht?  Do brothers not charge brothers 5 cents for a gum ball?
> Also, I do not know what the phrase "inherently immoral" means.  Please
> provide some hesbir.

I think what he means is that there is nothing intrinsically wrong
with charging interest. Hashem commanded us, however, to go beyond the
letter of (what could have been) the law with our brethren.

However, see what I posted in the lashon hara thread, with the quote
from Rav Epstein's book, that Chazal looked down on charging interest
to a gentile, and in fact Rabbinically prohibited it, and Tosafot's
justification for why we no longer follow that prohibition (viz. high
taxes paid to gentile authorities precluded not charging interest).

It would be interesting then, to do a heter iska with a gentile. The
Gemara offers that it is permissible to pay interest to a gentile,
just not charge, so perhaps no heter iska would be needed if he wanted
to charge you interest. That's fortunate, because it would certainly
be an interesting thing: go to a bank to take out a loan, and ask the
bank employee to sign an Aramaic document permitting you to pay him

Anyone more expert on this issue than me?

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 2
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 15:55:49 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Lashon Hara about non-Jews

> "Charging interest and failing to return lost property are not negative
> actions, which come from or could engender bad middos.  They are the
> normal way we should expect to interact with strangers... And if someone
> has been careless enough to lose something and you were lucky enough to
> find it, why on earth should you expend time and energy to track them
> down, and then give it to them?  What have they ever done for you, that
> you should do them such favours?"

Charging interest being an okay thing, I would question. Given that
money in the time of the Torah's giving was primarily for emergency
situations and not for ordinary daily spending (and thus charging
interest would be to charge someone in davka the time of his financial
struggles), and given that it is prohibited (at least Rabbinically) to
pay interest to a gentile (though we follow Tosoafot in not keeping
this prohibition anymore), it seems difficult to say that charging
interest is morally fine. Now, on business matters, I see no problem -
and apparently Chazal didn't either, since they created the heter
iska. But notice that he heter iska is forbidden for personal
household type transactions - it seems to me that Chazal felt that
morally, it would be wrong to use a heter iska to permit interest for
necessary household goods. Only for non-necessary (i.e. business)
transactions did Chazal permit interest.

As for finding lost objects: to find and keep is the ordinary moral
way? Can one honestly suggest that there is no intrinsic moral problem
with finding and keeping? Is this idea not davka what the Torah comes
to tell us is false? Are we really meant to look at the mitzvah of
returning lost property, as a chok without any rationale or lesson for
our living? Even the "ritual" mitzvot have some sort of symbolic
meaning behind them, and yet we are to suggest that returning lost
property has no meaning whatsoever?

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 3
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 16:00:29 +0200
Re: [Avodah] About Lashon Hara about non-Jews

>>RMichael Makovi writes, "[A]ccording to Mesechet Gerim 3:2, Vayikra
19:33 (love the ger) applies to a ger toshav."

>My Shas must be defective. It doesn't appear there, nor anywhere else
in Maseches Geirim.

I checked the Soncino Minor Tractates (translation) as well as an old
Vilna-type edition; it was in both. Actually, it only quotes Vayikra
19:33 and another pasuk earlier in Vayikra 19 and a pasuk from Devarim
(24?), to the effect of "don't abuse him" etc., but it does not cite
the sources of these pesukim (viz. Vayikra x:y, etc.), nor does it
quote the "love the ger" part of the pasuk, so you have to know that
it is quoting a "love the ger" pasuk.

I can only assume that if one of the "love the ger" pesukim applies to
them, they all do. I see no reason why Vayikra 19:33 would apply but
not the ones in Shemot for example. So I can only assume that the
pesukim quoted are not meant to be complete.

The quote from Vayikra etc. comes immediately after the part about
their tuma'ot and taharot; it is the same halacha for some reason,

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 4
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2008 16:39:12 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Mitzvot That A Non-Jew Cannot Do

> Long story short, the question arose "Why can't non-Jews keep Shabbat?"
Chasam Sofer says that a non-Jew who is not an idolator can in fact keep 
Shabbos. Also look at Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:7 and  O.H. 5:18 page 46. See 
also the Biur Halacha 304:24 concerning the Magen Avraham who permits a 
ger toshav to observe Shabbos.

*Chasam Sofer[1] <#_ftn1>(Chullin 33a): *Look at the Rambam(Hilchos 
Melachim 10:9-10) in which he appears to distinguish between non-Jews 
who are idolators and those who are Bnai Noach who have accepted on 
themselves not be idolators. Bnai Noach are allowed to keep Shabbos and 
to fullfill whatever other mitzvos they wish. Therefore we can accept 
their sacrifices and teach them Torah and accept tzedaka from them. 
Consequently there is no difficulty presented by the gemora which says 
that a non?Jew who keeps Shabbos - since a non?Jew who is not an 
idolator is in fact allowed to keep Shabbos. This also resolves the 
gemora?s question as to why it is not considered part of the Seven 
Mitzvos. I think that the Rambam  is relying on Nedarim (31a) for his 
psak which seems to indicate that these halachos are not in fact 
prohibited for non?Jews. Thus the halacha follows this view expressed in 
Nedarim rather than the view expressed in Sanhedrin because Nedarim was 
composed later than the other tractates.**


????? ????? ??? ???"? ??? ?? ????? ???? ???? ??? ???"? ??? ???? ????? 
?????? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ?????? ??????? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ????, 
????? ??"? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??"? ???? ?????. 
?????? ?' ?"? ??????? ???? ?' ????. ??"? ???"? ???? ??"? ????? (??.) 
????? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? 
???? ?"? ????? ?????? ???? ????? ?????:

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Message: 5
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 10:08:26 EST
Re: [Avodah] "Sometimes Chutzpah is Praiseworthy"

From: Richard Wolberg cantorwolberg@cox.net>
>, the father is not  upset with
his daughter -- he is pleased  and delighted with her wit and chachma!"<[--TK]

>>Sorry, but  that doesn't cut it! A parent child relationship should be  
one of  respect and to allow a child that type of behavior is a poor parental 
example. That's the same "cute" mentality of allowing a child to call  the  
parent by the first name which is against halacha.

I think  the p'shat that says she acted brazenly toward her father is  
no  different from the fact that the Torah portrays everyone as they are and  
all their foibles....

....Perhaps chutzpah may be  praiseworthy in certain select, limited  
situations, but disrespect of  parents is hardly praiseworthy even if meant 
in jest. Maaris ayin   
overrules chutzpah.<<

It is completely impossible to put Miriam's behavior in the same category  as 
calling parents by their first names.  Nor is Amram's acceding to her  
superior wisdom/nevuah in this case -- and re-marrying Yocheved -- remotely  similar 
to the case of an indulgent father who gives in to his kids' whining and  
spoils them with toys and presents.  If she was called Puah because of her  
"brazenness" it is in no way meant to say that Puah is a "bad" name meant to  
denigrate her.  The flow of the pesukim and of the meforshim is  unmistakable -- 
that what she did was praiseworthy in this  case.


One thinks of the medrash about Hashem Himself laughing and saying  
"Nitzchuni banai" about -- I don't remember what.  But He wasn't angry when  His 
children "bested" Him in an argument, He was pleased.  There is  unacceptable and 
acceptable chutzpa.  You really do have to look at the  whole picture.

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 6
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 10:15:24 EST
Re: [Avodah] irrational anti-Semites?

From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
>>.....both  the Jews and the Hyksos 
were alien forces whose increasing numbers and  influence were a threat 
from within the Egyptian society. At the same time  there were Hyksos and 
their allies who lived outside of Egypt. Therefore  there was a second 
danger if they would overcome the control the Egyptians  had over them 
and escape to join the outside enemy. Thus there is nothing  irrational 
about the fear. There was an internal threat in numbers and an  external 
threat which their escape would exacerbate. There is also no need  for 
psycho-historical analysis.<<

very good answer, makes sense
although it seems to me that what you have written /is/ "psycho-historical  

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 7
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 19:04:26 +0200
[Avodah] The Mitzvah of Aliyah

On Jan 1, 2008 4:23 PM, Michael Makovi <mikewinddale@gmail.com> wrote on

> <<As my rabbis have put it, the difficulty that exempts one
> from aliyah, is that one cannot make the arduous land-sea journey, to
> a barren desolate land with almost no livelihood (livelihood = enough
> food to live on, enough clothing to keep you warm in the winter, and
> some form of living shelter) and filled with disease. Today, my rabbis
> say, the ease of hopping on an El-Al flight and earning enough money
> to buy food (conditions in Israel are not so bad that one will
> starve), means that for the vast majority today, there is no
> exemption.
> I think the Gemara says that one should leave Israel when the price of
> grain triples, or something like that. In other words, one has
> permission to live in chutz, when living conditions in Israel are
> absolutely unbearable.>>

It should be noted that not all rabbanim agree with your rabbis, certainly
not Rav Moshe Feinstein (whose position in EhE 1:102 is discussed at

As to the gemara you cite: Rav Moshe explains that (as noted by the Rambam
Hil. Milachim 5:9) once one has moved to Eretz Yisrael, it is forbidden to
leave except for the reasons of finding a wife, learning Torah and
transacting business.  But one who has not moved to EY does not violate any
issurim in staying.

I have no doubt that even according to Rav Moshe this is not just a mitzva
kiyumis like wearing tzitzis but one that is the focal point of Jewish
existence.  In contrast to Rav Moshe, I myself consider the Ramban's
position to be correct, given the general tenor of Sefer Devarim and given
the Ramban's understanding of mitzvos in general as he explains on "k'doshim
ti'h'yu" and on "v'asi'sa ha'yashar v'hatov" as I explained at

Kol tuv,
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Message: 8
From: David Riceman <driceman@att.net>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2008 12:38:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Dvar Hashem me'Yerusalmi: A New Answer to an

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer wrote:
> I always had difficulty assuming Rebbe was not enough of a Ba'al 
> Mussar to overcome such a seemingly petty antagonism.
See Horayoth 13b-14a, and see Rabbi Tzuriel's comments in Otzroth 
HaAgadah on Horayoth 13b.

David Riceman

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Message: 9
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 18:51:00 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Ribbis from non-Jews (was: LH about non-Jews)

RMikha'el Makovi writes: 

> Actually, it is forbidden by the Torah to take interest from a
> gentile. The Torah permits interest to a nochri, which, as the Hertz
> Chumash teaches, is a gentile passing through the land, not an
> inhabitant.  

     WADR to the Hertz chumash, it is explicit in the g'mara (Bava M'tzia 72a) that one is permitted to take interest even from a ger toshav, who is hardly a "gentile passing through the land."  Indeed, according to most rishonim, it is a mitzva to charge the goy (though not the ger toshav), but Chazal restricted it to only what is necessary for sustenance, so as to prevent the Jew from coming into too close contact with his debtor and learning from his actions "b'rov y'shivaso imo" -- hardly the description of a transient association. (See, e.g., Rambam Malveh v'Loveh 5:1-2.) 

Easy-to-use, advanced features, flexible phone systems.  Click here for more info.

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Message: 10
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 18:17:02 EST
Re: [Avodah] Mitzvot That A Non-Jew Cannot Do

From: "Michael Makovi" _mikewinddale@gmail.com_ 

>>Hashem  blessed the Shabbat and declared it holy, long before Am
Yisrael existed.  Furthermore, Shabbat testifies to the creation of the
world - should not  gentiles acknowledge this too?

There is no problem understanding our  obligation to keep Shabbat and
the gentiles' (hypothetical) exemption. What I  cannot understand is
their (in reality) prohibition.

It is thus all  the more surprising when Rav Hirsch (somewhere around
the end of chapter one  of Bereshit or the beginning of two) and Rav J.
H. Hertz (in his essay at the  end of Sefer Bereshit) both say that
Shabbat applies to all of humanity. This  fits very well with logic
that Shabbat's testifying to God's creation applies  to all of
humanity, but it doesn't fit well with the  Gemara.<<

Mikha'el Makovi

I think the generally accepted psak is that goyim /can/ keep Shabbos if  they 
want to, or at any rate can keep Saturday as a day of rest, but they cannot  
keep it exactly the same way that Jews do, because the laws of Shabbos as 
given  to Jews are between Him and us.  Thus they have to do IIRC one melacha  
de'oraisa on Shabbos (pull out two hairs).  


As for believing in Hashem, that is one of the Sheva mitzvos bnai  Noach, but 
there is no specific observance that goyim are enjoined to do in  order to 
demonstrate that belief.  (The belief that He created the world  and the 
corollary, that He rested on the seventh day, is part of believing in  Hashem.)  
Technically I think their mitzva to believe in Hashem is couched  as a lo sa'aseh 
-- they are forbidden to worship other gods.
Parenthetically I always thank my non-Jewish cleaning lady and always tell  
my kids that the cleaning lady has a zechus working for Jews, because she helps 
 us make Shabbos.

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 11
From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 20:59:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Fasting on YK

In a discussion on areivim about pregnant women fasting on yom  
kippur, the issue was raised about the tension between classical psak  
(SA- ubrot umeinkot mitanot umashlimot beyom hakipurrim), and the  
opinion of most obstetricians today (note: while I am a physician, I  
am not an obstetrician), who believe that there is a risk in  
fasting.  There is also a tension between the statistical data from  
studies that there is an increased risk of fasting, and the  
dehydration that ensues, causing a women to deliver - both on time  
and early, and the experience of individual rabbanim who have not  
experienced a problem with their kehillot.  This reflects a more  
general issue of the nature of data that should be used in psak,  
especially in medical problems. Current medical practice (in all  
fields) is to view that the individual experience of even experienced  
practitioners can be skewed, and a more accurate reflection of  
reality is obtained by larger scale studies - and significant (both  
in a statistical sense and in clinical sense) differences can easily  
have been missed in the past.

As a continuation of that discussion, shunted by our moderators to  

There are several separate issues that this raises.

1) What is the level of risk, and nature of risk, that is halachically
acceptable in this context?  Is it merely risk to the mother, or also
risk to the fetus? How machmir are we on pikuach nefesh?

2) Part of the issue that the halacha implies that there are pregnant
women for whom fasting either poses no risk, or else that the risks
for these women are within halachically acceptable bounds - and
indeed, that this is the norm for most pregnant women who are not
obviously sick.  Part of the issue is the extent to which this psak  
of the Shulchan Aruch - that it is safe for most pregnant women to  
fast - is viewed as an intrinsic psak, or merely reflecting the best  
medical practice of their time.  There is also now an intrinsic  
tension between two parts of standard psak - that most pregnant women  
should fast, and that for a pregnant woman, one listens to her  
phsyician, even non Jewish, about fasting....

Most obstetricians today would presumably (I am not an obstetrician)
argue that fasting poses some risks for all women.  As above, there is
statistical data on fasting increasing the delivery rate - as well as
mechanistic information to make this plausible.

Is it, therefore, halachically unreasonable to argue any of the
following positions:

1) Our current medical knowledge is such that we disagree with the
position that fasting is safe for most healthy pregnant women
(essentially a nishtanu hatevaim position - even if we mean by
nishtanu hatevaim that our knowledge is different (rabbenu avraham ben
(In some ways, this is similar to the metziza debate - that current
medical knowledge would suggest the halacha is based on a medical
position that is no longer considered valid - but here there is the
problem of an issur karet, which makes it more difficult)

2)  While there may be a substantial population, or even the majority,
  of women for whom fasting in pregnancy may be safe, our current
status of medical knowledge does not allow us to determine who those
women are - we have learned enough to know that there is increased
risk for some, but not enough to identify more precisely the at risk  
population - and safek pikuach
nefesh lehakel...

3) While still recognizing that some women may still be safe fasting,
to dramatically limit the number of women who would be allowed to
fast (for example, healthy women who are already at term - and  
therefore delivering right after YK would not be problematic).

Meir Shinnar


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