Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 16

Thu, 10 Jan 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 00:00:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Accent on the Right Syllable in Krias Shema

On Jan 9, 2008 4:54 PM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> What makes an element of havarah authoritative vs being an error?
> Sepharad lumps tav and sav, folds together many of the tenu'os,
> Ashkenaz has problems with ayin and ches (although I would argue that
> the lack of ayin has to post-date the nickname "Yankl"), etc... Is it
> possible that Ashkenazi norm not to be careful on mile'eil vs milera
> is similar? That baAH vs BAah is as validly/invalidly ambiguous as
> "ach" vs "akh"?
> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha
> --
> Micha Berger

Agreed the Rema's silence re: the Ayyin bespeaks that there used to be an
Ashkneazic Ayyin. I have been trying to reconstruct it somehow for many

Dutch Sephardim did the Ayin like the French ng [as in Filet MIgnon]  or the
Spanish n with a ~ on top [e.g. manana]

I am guessing that the Westernized Ashkanzim had a  simlar Ayyin,  like the
ni in Onion

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 00:12:44 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Blei Gissen" should we believe in this?

Micha Berger wrote:
> I just sent out:
> : As RZS already noted, though, it is hard then to make heads or tails
> : of pereq Bameh Ishah. The discussion on Shabbos 61 is about medical
> : kemei'os. This gets into the whole question of what is wrong with
> : "whispering". As well as the question recently asked on another thread
> : about placebo effect.

> But I didn't say my own take... I would guess they're extra-halachic
> mnemonic devices, aids to kavanah, that cite a pasuq or keta that
> inspires the wearer. Thus, reducing kemei'os to sechar va'onesh. (As
> I'm trying to do to all these references.)

That would work if these amulets contained pesukim, and ones known to
the wearer.  But many do not seem to involve writing at all, and those
that do would seem to contain nonsense spells ("lechashim") rather than
anything that could inspire a person.  And the wearer seems not to have
to know what's inside, any more than we know the chemical makeup of
the medicine our doctors prescribe for us.  So I don't see how that
theory can be made to work.  Which is a pity.

PS: Almost the sole remnant of the amulet culture that remains with us
is the Shir Hamaalot that is put up for a newborn.  And it has long
seemed to me that someone ought to do one that doesn't have any of those
hands and strange combinations of letters and references to Lilith, and
instead just had the kapitel tehilim in large letters, with an English
translation, and a note asking people to please say this kapitel in the
baby's merit.

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: 3
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 00:37:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "My Sin Is Not A Perfume"

On Jan 6, 2008 11:52 PM, Elazar M. Teitz <remt@juno.com> wrote:

>      There is certainly nothing in the pasuk itself which "shows that
> Hashem's choice of Yaacov over Esav happened *before* there were any
> differences between them."  There is no mention at all as to the why; there
> is only the what.  Indeed, all the commentaries I have seen who discuss the
> issue say that the hatred to Esav was because of his actions, and the
> contrast is to show that the love for Yaakov was because of himself, not
> merely on account of his being zera Avaraham v'Yitzchak, since otherwise
> Esav, too, would have shared in that love, as he was equally their
> descendant.
>     And why should the RShO hate Esav without a reason? V'chi leis din
> v'leis dayan?

I consider one of the most under-rated themes in the Torah is the prohibiion
against intermarriage.  Bot Yitazchka nad Ya'akov went to great lengths to
marry a kosher wife

It is my interpretation that the evil of Edom was not so much esav himself
but his progeny from his wives - viz. the b'nos cheis. That is artciualted
by Rivka's kazti bechaya minei b'nos cheis.

Had Esav had a koshe mipshpach with a wife [suach as a lei'ah or a Dina] he
might have been OK after all.  [not a taddik but  like a Yisme'el someone
who would eventually do teshuva  etc.]

The evil of esav is that he produced nothing but bneir heis and s'eir,
nothing really worthwhile. And so when the navi or Hazal speak of the evil
of Edom it is imho more about his descendants because of whom he married.
And I guess the RSO might have felt like Rikva did, too

This is just my understanding.  Hazal tell us of many evil deeds that Esav
himself did. It is not easy to reconcile my approach with those Midrashim.
So you can take my drash with a grain of salt - but it sure does explain the
evil of his children [e.g. Amaleik]
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 4
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 12:40:33 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Chiyuv l'kabel gerim

On Jan 9, 2008 1:29 PM, Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il> wrote:
> There are in fact several sources that there is a mitzva to convert
> non-Jews. The Zohar HaRakiya (#40) who views it as a subset of Ahavas
> hager and R' Yitzchok Barcelona. Rav Perlow discusses these in his
> commentary on Rav Saadia Gaon's Sefer HaMitzvos (page 294-295) in which
> he asserts that it is  a subset of Ahavas HaShem.
> There is an analysis of these views by Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh
> Halachos (16:92). He rejects these views and assets that in fact that
> the mitzva is for the non-Jew to convert and we are commanded to assist
> him with his mitzva. This is also supported by Yevamos (48b)

So Rabbi Klein concludes that the gentile has a mitzvah to convert,
and we are to assist him by facilitating his conversion, but we don't
have a mitzvah on ourselves.

The problem is, since when does a gentile have a mitzvah to convert?
Isn't the whole idea behind dissuading would-be converts, that Hashem
loves gentiles as they are (if they keep their laws)?

So we know that we have no mitzvah to go out and seek converts. And I
find it difficult to say that gentiles have a mitzvah to convert.
That's why it seems to me that the chiyuv, IF there is in fact a
chiyuv (which is of course davka the point under discussion), could
(if a source is found) be for us to accept a sincere would-be convert
when he comes - the mitzvah is on us, when he comes; not on him, and
not on us to go out and find him.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 5
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 14:00:38 +0200
Re: [Avodah] "Blei Gissen" should we believe in this?

We know that there are plenty of remarks in the Gemara on magic (mix
the ashes of this with the water of that, say the following
nonsensical words). I have always just grouped the Gemara's belief in
magic, amulets, astrology, etc., all into one pot. If one takes this
all as legitimate, then end of discussion.

If one takes all this to be shtius, then there is of course a separate
question of how Chazal could have held by it. Rambam said it was all
minority opinions and allegories, and that the majority of Chazal saw
it all as shtius just like Rambam himself did. I personally find this
untenable, as it seems that these opinions were not fringe ones. I
personally just say that Chazal followed many of the superstitions of
their times, end of story. Obviously, I'll find plenty of academics to
back me up. Finding a rabbi is a bit more difficult. But I found that
Rabbi Steinsaltz in his Essential Talmud says that astrology and magic
are superstitious elements syncretistically adopted by Chazal,
especially in Babylonia. And surprise surprise, Rabbi Hertz and
(Rabbi?) Abraham Cohen's (editor of Soncino Tanach) Everyman's Talmud
take this for granted. And I would be willing to bet that Rabbi Yaakov
Elman at YU would hold by this, as according to him, far far more than
merely superstitious folk customs were bought by Chazal.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 6
From: "david guttmann" <david.guttman@verizon.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 07:06:06 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Blei Gissen" should we believe in this?

RDWells wrote on Areivim:
: But is Torah itself in all its many facets completely rational?
: If it was, then homo sapiens would have managed quite well without it!

Rambam in MN3:31

"THERE are persons who find it difficult to give a reason for any of the
commandments, and consider it right to assume that the commandments and
prohibitions have no rational basis whatever. They are led to adopt this
theory by a certain disease in their soul, the existence of which they
perceive, but which they are unable to discuss or to describe. For they
imagine that these precepts, if they were useful in any respect, and were
commanded because of their usefulness, would seem to originate in the
thought and reason of some intelligent being."

See the better translations for stronger impact but note "They are led to
adopt this theory by a certain disease in their soul" which is quite strong
language. Rationalism is what Torah teaches as opposed to superstition and
idolatry which apparently is still prevalent. Re the Talmudic quotes, you
have a kashya. I think there is an answer that is based on the knowledge of
the times but it is a long discussion and I have not worked out all the
cases and issues. "Fun a kashya shtarbt men nisht" applies here.

David Guttmann
If you agree that Believing is Knowing, join me in the search for Knowledge
at http://yediah.blogspot.com/ 
Ve'izen vechiker (Kohelet 12:9) subscribe to Hakirah at www.hakirah.org 

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Message: 7
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 14:54:51 +0200
Re: [Avodah] The Burning of the Golden Calf

> I am very unschooled in these matters, but I was thinking that maybe a
> strong acid could bore its way through the gold, causing a chemical change
> as it went along??
> KT,

A strong acid would just dissolve the gold into a salty solution. By salt I
don't mean table salt, but rather salt in the sense of a metal and nonmetal
ionically bonded.

For example:

Sulfuric acid + gold

H2SO4(aq = water) + 2Au

H2SO4(s = solid) + H2O + 2Au

SO4 (-2 charge) + 2H(+1 charge) + H2O + 2Au

SO4 (-2) + H2 (gas) + H2O + 2Au(+2 charge)

Au2So4 (aq) + H2 (gas)

You end up with a solution of dissolved gold sulfate salt and hydrogen gas.
Thanks to first year college chemistry and a refresher from the Wikipedia
article on acid. Chemistry is some fascinating stuff, I'll tell you what. I
used to my chemistry to determine that you can easily detarnish silver using
a bucket of water lined with aluminum foil - basic electrochemistry: the
aluminum will donate electrons to the silver sulfide tarnish (I needed a
household metal higher on the activity series than silver, and aluminum fits
the bill nicely, but lead, iron, and copper would also work,  but lead would
be a health hazard), creating pure silver and aluminum sulfide - you've
created a battery! Then, you just need some baking soda (base) to prevent
the formation of hydrogen sulfide gunk (via an acid-base reaction). Connect
the silver and aluminum to create an electrical contact, and wait many many

Mikha'el Makovi
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Message: 8
From: "Alan Rubin" <alanrubin1@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 13:01:28 +0000
Re: [Avodah] charging ribis to a Jew / non-Jew (Micha Berger)

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> Charging interest isn't really wrong ("inherently immoral"), and thus
> not a middos issue. However, brothers should have an achdus haleiv,
> and ribis causes pirud.

I seem to remember a passage in Ezehu Neshech where someone has a Hava Amina
that they might be allowed to charge their son interest because the
difficulty it would cause would be a useful lesson. I think that at the time
of the Gemara, ribis was regarded as something that could cause people
immense problems. If that is true then I would have thought that charging
interst is indeed a 'middos issue'.

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Message: 9
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 16:23:01 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Chiyuv l'kabel gerim

R' Michael Makovi wrote:
> Isn't the whole idea behind dissuading would-be converts, that Hashem
> loves gentiles as they are (if they keep their laws)?
Where do you see such an idea? It is clear that we dissuade would be 
converts because converts are typically harmful for the Jewish people - 
either because they are the highest quality Jews or because they are the 
lowest quality Jews. It is not because G-d loves them as they are.

*Pesachim[1] <#_ftn1>(87b): *R? Eleazar said that G?d did not exile 
Israel amongst the nations except so that converts would join the Jewish 
people. This is alluded to in Hoshea (2:25): ?And I will sow her unto Me 
in the land.? Obviously no one sows unless he expects to harvest much 
more than he sowed. R? Yochanon deduced it from [the second part of] 
Hoshea (2:25): ?And I will have mercy upon her who had not obtained 
mercy [and I will say to them who were not My people, You are My people 
? Rashi].


?? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ??????? ????? ????, ????? (???? ?:??) 
??????? ?? ????. ???? ??? ???? ??? - ??? ?????? ??? ?????. ???? ????? 
??? ????: (???? ?:??) ?????? ?? ?? ????.

Regarding this gemora it is interesting to note that the Arizal said 
that it is not to be taken literally. Exile is not to produce converts 
to join the Jewish people but only to gather the sparks of kedusha found 
amongst the goyim.

*Rav Tzadok[1] <#_ftn1>(Pri Tzadik ? Parshas Parah #3): *? This that it 
says in Pesachim (87b) that G?d exiled Israel only to have converts join 
them.. This is explained [Arizal] that it doesn?t mean actual converts 
but rather the sparks of kedusha and vitality which are found amongst 
the nations


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

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Message: 10
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 17:27:35 +0200
Re: [Avodah] New king

On Jan 9, 2008 11:47 PM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Mon, December 31, 2007 10:37 pm, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
> : When the Torah says don't eat BLOOD are we entitled so say we LIKE to
> : eat Blood?
> :
> : The Gmara says YES
> I find this startling. We have discussed in the past whether a mitzvah
> implies that it is desirable for the person to align his middos
> accordingly (the position of RYS), or whether that's only true for
> mitzvos sichliyos (the Rambam).
> If one says that blood is a chok, then one should say "I want to, but what
can I do, as Avinu she'ba'Shamayim has forbidden it".

But if one says that blood is a moral idea that the animal is a creation of
Hashem's too, and we are permitted meat only for strengthening our yetzer
haTov (see Ikkarim on why Noah was permitted meat, cited in the 5 volume
green Artscroll book on the parsha, and see the similar explanation of Rav
Kook in Nechama Leibowitz's chumash, I think in Devarim where chullin is
permitted), then one should indeed inculcate in himself a repugnance towards
blood, whereas for pork he might still say he wants to eat it.

Ikkarim says that to strengthen the difference between man and animal, God
permitted meat (whereas PETA compares chickens and Holocaust victims, and
evidently still requires the lesson that according to Ikkarim, can only be
learned from eating meat).

Rav Kook says that we eat meat so that we can focus all our moral energy on
bein adam l'chavero. However, when this task is complete, and we are fully
strengthened, we will no longer eat meat, as Rav Kook says that eating meat
is undesireable and shameful.

Mikha'el Makovi
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Message: 11
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 18:16:42 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Chiyuv l'kabel gerim

> > Isn't the whole idea behind dissuading would-be converts, that Hashem
> > loves gentiles as they are (if they keep their laws)?

> Where do you see such an idea? It is clear that we dissuade would be
> converts because converts are typically harmful for the Jewish people -
> either because they are the highest quality Jews or because they are the
> lowest quality Jews. It is not because G-d loves them as they are.

In the sources we have seen, I have admittedly not seen this idea. But
in more modern (but Orthodox) writings, I have seen nothing except the
idea that gentiles are dissuaded because Hashem sees no need for them
to be Jewish. Indeed, if Jews are to be a light to the nations whose
purpose is to bring the rest of the nations to worship Hashem (but
still be their own independent non-Jewish nations - Yishayahu 2), then
the idea of converting all the world's people to Judaism is utterly
illogical and ridiculous.

The philosophy I'm following is easy to back up from the Tanach. As
for sources in Chazal, I haven't seen them, but I assume Rav Hirsch
(eg, see Artscroll Siddur to Aleinu L'shabeach) and the like must have
had some Talmudic or Midrashic source somewhere.

Mikha'el Makovi


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