Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 44

Sun, 27 Jan 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 16:29:11 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Torah government

RET wrote:
> Do be more theoretical there is a basic difference in outlook between
> secular law and halacha. Halacha looks at the rules given in the
> gemara and SA and fits cases into the given law. Secular starts with
> what is necessary for a good economy. If current law does not properly
> control some new process then congress or parliament will simply
> change the law for the new circumstances. Thus, congress can decide if
> patents cover software or not. In halacha one has no choice and the
> outcome theoretically depends on some extension of some teshuva based
> on a gemara. Whatever comes out is it whether good or bad for the
> economy is irrelevant

It seems to me that two quite dissimilar concepts are being unnecessarily 
combined into one. There are basic dinei mamonot, for which halachah is a 
given. These are the major principles. However, there exists legislative 
power in the community (kahal) and/or 7 tovei ha'ir, which were mentioned. We 
may argue about whether a secular government has, either partially or 
entirely, the power of 7 tovei ha'ir. It is, however, unquestionable that 
there exist bodies that can introduce decrees according to the needs of 
society, including economic rules according to the economy's need. A good 
example is copyrights enacted through a cherem by IIRC Va'ad Arba' Aratzot, 
which continued to be enforced long after that body was disbanded.

Patents and other IP rights could likewise be legislated letovat hatzibbur. 
Many other economic rules, too.


Arie Folger

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Message: 2
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 12:13:15 EST
Re: [Avodah] cave or desert island

Avraham Avinu is the paradigm of how Jews are supposed to be -- somewhat  
isolated from society and somewhat engaged with society.  He avoided living  in a 
city altogether -- certainly he wouldn't have considered living in Sodom  but 
he didn't live in /any/ urban area, didn't even live in a house.  He  created 
his own society in a rural area, his compound of tents, family,  employees.  
OTOH he and Sarah were constantly engaged in outreach and  hachnasas orchim -- 
attempting to influence other people for good.  They  were extremely sociable 
people, benefiting other people both materially and  spiritually.  
Significantly, they interacted with others mainly on their  own turf and on their own 
terms.  This balance of isolation and engagement  is the ideal.

--Toby Katz
Romney -- good  values, good family, good hair
Best hope against  Hillary

**************Start the year off right.  Easy ways to stay in shape.     
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Message: 3
From: Ben Waxman <ben1456@smile.net.il>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 19:14:38 +0200
[Avodah] planting during shmitta permitted


This article states that Rav Avraham Yosef, the head of the rabbinate 
shmitta committee, permitted planting (al y'dei goy) in some of the 
areas which were heavily damaged in last week's frost. If this land 
is under the heter mikhira (HM), why is a special heter needed? If 
the land is under the ozer beit din, is this throwing issurim out the 
window without even a HM to be somekh on?

Am I missing something here?


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Message: 4
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 10:32:12 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Is spam kosher?

On Jan 26, 2008 9:48 PM, <T613K@aol.com> wrote:

>   From: "Simon Montagu" simon.montagu@gmail.com
> >>Have any posekim addressed the question of whether sending unsolicited
> bulk emails is asur? <<
> >>>>>
> On what grounds would it be ossur?

I don't know if you saw my post on this, but what if it is annoying?  is it
OK to annoy people just because we ourselves would not be annoyed?

Illustration: I turn the radio on in the morning to WFAN. My wife hates the
radio [any station] inthe morning. is it OK to leave it on and ask her just
to tune it out of her mind?


>   What if I send something that I personally find interesting to fifteen
> people, and several of them consider it a waste of time while the others
> enjoy it -- on what grounds would that be assur to do, or might it only
> become a question in your mind if my cc list had fifty people instead of
> fifteen?
> *
> *
> *--Toby Katz
> =============
> *
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Message: 5
From: "Simon Montagu" <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 18:08:49 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Is spam kosher?

On Jan 27, 2008 4:48 AM,  <T613K@aol.com> wrote:

> On what grounds would it be ossur?

That's really the question I'm asking :) Apart from dina demalchuta
where appropriate. I have a clear instinctive reaction that it's "not
on", but is that social conditioning or does it have a halachic basis?

> What if I send something that I
> personally find interesting to fifteen people, and several of them consider
> it a waste of time while the others enjoy it -- on what grounds would that
> be assur to do, or might it only become a question in your mind if my cc
> list had fifty people instead of fifteen?

I'm not referring to an individual sending an individual email even to
fifty people that he or she knows personally, but to things sent from
an anonymous address to addresses possibliy harvested from websites or
mailing lists.

I might also send something that I find interesting to a bunch of
people, but if I found a listserv that sent interesting daily emails I
would send them subscription instructions rather than subscribing them
myself. Again, am I just following social norms and missing an
opportunity to be mezake et harabbim?

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Message: 6
From: Ben Waxman <ben1456@smile.net.il>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 19:52:13 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Is spam kosher?

> From Rbn TK:
>On what grounds would it be ossur?  What if I send something that I
>personally find interesting to fifteen people, and several of them 
>consider it a
>waste of time while the others enjoy it -- on what grounds would 
>that be assur  to
>do, or might it only become a question in your mind if my cc list had  fifty
>people instead of fifteen?

Without getting into the question of issur or muttar, the example 
that you give above is NOT spam in any sense what so ever. See 
http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html. The people in your address 
book presumably want, appreciate, or at least permit you to send them 
material. Therefore it is not spam.

I will note that since ISPs forbid sending spam, anyone doing so is 
abusing his contract.


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Message: 7
From: "Joshua Meisner" <jmeisner@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 12:50:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Praying for the end

On Jan 26, 2008 8:38 PM, Zev Sero <zev@sero.name> wrote:
> Jonathan Baker wrote:
> > RZS:
> >> That it's permitted to pray for the end to come is clear in the gemara.
> >> Not just for oneself but for someone else.
> >
> > Huh.  That's interesting.  Where in the gemara?
> 1. Rebbi's maid praying for him to die (and actively distracting
>    those who were praying for him to live)
> 2. R Eliezer (deMila) praying for his son to die

3. The chachamim davening for Rabbi Yochanan to die after he lost his
mind following the death of Reish Lakish (BM 84a).
4. And to consolidate from a parallel thread, Choni HaMe'agel davening
for his own death after he woke up following his 70-year sleep and was
unable to come to terms with the changes in society that precluded him
from finding colleagues. (Ta'anis 23a).  According to the Yerushalmi
(Ta'anis 3:9), the sleeper was the grandfather of the famous Choni
HaMe'agel who had the same name, whose 70-year sleep spanned from the
churban bayis rishon into the binyan bayis sheni.

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Message: 8
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:12:22 -0500

Having gone through minor surgery recently, my mind has been very  
active in spite of a very inactive body. The following are thoughts  
that have occurred to me in this unusual state:

It has been explained that in religious life there are two states of  
holiness: one in which ?the blessing of the Divine grace is  
perceptibly revealed,? and another in which ?grace, as it were,  
retires and remains hidden.? I can readily identify with this hidden  
state at present. This state has been described as one of ?inward  
drought and abandonment,? and may be the result of bodily  
indisposition or mental weariness. At such times ?we should hold to  
God?s word, Whose truth and grace are independent of our changing  
moods and feelings; and remain confident that even in states of  
deepest abandonment, God is with us, although with veiled face. This  
is similar to ?hester ponim? ? God, hiding His face. Nevertheless, as  
in the game ?Hide and Seek?, if we are persistent and positive, we  
will find Him.

What also occurred to me is that life is like taking a book out from  
the library. It doesn?t belong to us, but it is there for us to use  
and enjoy. If we are careless and tear the book, we are responsible to  
repair it. If we lose the book, we must pay for its value. And if we  
don?t return it on time, we are fined each day until we do return it.

The life analogy as I see it is that our lives are on loan from God.  
When we are careless and cause damage, we are required to make  
whatever repairs are necessary. If we throw away our lives, then  
somehow it will have to be replaced in whatever way the Almighty deems  
necessary. As far as returning it on time, God takes care of that.  
However, if for some tragic reason we decide to return it prior to  
when it is due, the fine imposed may be quite high.

The ideal is to take out a good, worthwhile and meaningful book.  
Metaphorically, the cover of the book is the hand we are dealt:  
family, location, health and externals. The content of the book is our  
choice. The better the choices, the better the book. Even a shabby  
cover doesn?t take away from the content of the book.

May our personal books put us in the ultimate Book of Life.

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Message: 9
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:16:27 EST
Re: [Avodah] Cave or desert island

From: "Michael Makovi" _mikewinddale@gmail.com_ 

>>  It is davka in haAretz where we will be a mamlechet kohanim
v'goy kodash, and  thus an ohr lagoyim.

As Rabbi [Eliezer] Berkovits puts it, it takes  a nation to influence a 
Despite Rav Hirsch's words to the contrary,  the gentiles will not be
disposed to looking to Jewish aliens in their midst  for guidance; for
one, we are weak and unattractive in galut, and two, we  don't have an
army, government, or economy....<<
TK:  I agree with R' Hirsch and emphatically disagree with R'  Berkowitz.  
One of the reasons that we were dispersed all over the world  was precisely 
because we failed to accomplish our mission of "ohr lagoyim" when  we were in our 
own land.  We were therefore given another way and another  opportunity to do 
it, scattered among the nations.  
In the nations that we live among, Jews have acquired a reputation for  being 
intelligent, industrious, law-abiding and peaceable citizens.  We  have had a 
positive influence on the entire course of history and  Western civilization. 
 Tragically, all too many of our  fellow Yiddelech have also been among the 
major destroyers of civilization  -- the name of Marx especially comes to mind, 
but one may also count Freud,  Asimov, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan, Peter 
Singer, Noam Chomsky and many  other Jewish mechablim, great and small.  But the 
list of Jews who  have benefited the countries they lived in, and who created a 
wondrous  name for the Jewish people, would literally fill pages.
"We don't have an army, government, or economy"  -- we don't  /need/ an army, 
government or economy to be a memleches  kohanim and ohr lagoyim.  Remember 
R' Saadia Gaon's famous  dictum, "Ein umaseinu umah eleh betorasa"  -- We are a 
nation by virtue of  our Torah.
While our main purpose as frum Jews scattered among the nations is to  live 
Torah lives and serve as a model of probity and morality, we also  have an 
obligation to positively and actively influence the goyim  among whom we live. Of 
course, that obligation holds only to the extent that  circumstances make it 
possible.  In America, we have an obligation to  vote for the candidates who 
will most advance the morality of the country.   We also have an obligation to 
make our voices heard in the public square.  
The post that was sent in by R' Gershon Seif, about his wife's testimony  
before the Wisconsin Senate, was an excellent example of this. (He wrote that  
she testified against a bill that would legalize physician-assisted  suicide.  
This is the type of issue where the Agudah has been very strong  and active.)

RMM:  >>....Likewise, we don't serve for Olam Haba....Rav Hirsch  says that 
Judaism exists for
this world, and that is why the Torah doesn't  speak of olam haba -
because it's really not very important. ....Rather, the  Messianic Era will 
come, and we'll be
resurrected, and thus we'll live in the  Messianic Era for eternity -
see Rabbi Berkovits [in] G-d Man and  History.<<

TK:  I am very uncomfortable with the way you keep  quoting R' Berkovits and 
RSRH, as if they were equals and  contemporaries.  The two are simply not 
comparable, and R' Berkowitz is  barely even on the normative Orthodox scale.  I 
also think you are  seriously misreading Hirsch if you have come to the 
conclusion that "olam haba  really isn't important."  Your understanding of Hirsch 
has been influenced  by your reading of a modern left-Orthodox philosopher, it 
seems to  me.

RMM:  >>But why? Why did He choose us? Why did He love  us? Why did He 
us with His mitzvot and proclaim His name on  us?

AL KEN n'kaveh...AL KEN. The reason He chose us, the ENTIRE  reason,
the entire reason for the entire first paragraph of Aleinu, is for  us
to bring the whole world to worship Him. <<
TK:  I think there is a confusion here about the two meanings of the  word 
"why."  (There may even be more than two meanings.)  "Why?" can  mean, "What is 
the reason, the cause?" or it can mean, "What is the  purpose?"  
For example, a person might ask, "Why is the kettle hot?"  One answer  might 
be, "Because I turned the stove on" -- that is the cause.   A different answer 
would be, "Because I want a cup of tea"  -- that  is the purpose.
"Why did He choose us? Why did He love us?"  
The *reason*:  the Avos chose Him.  In sharp contrast to all the  nations who 
rejected or just ignored Him, our forefathers sought Him out and  chose to 
cling to Him in defiance of all the other gods and religions of their  time.  A 
similar thing happened again when Hashem offered the Torah to all  the nations 
of the world, and once again, the goyim rejected the Torah while  the nation 
of Yisrael embraced it. 
"Why did He choose us?"  
The *purpose*:  "so that the whole world will be filled with the  knowledge 
of Hashem."  He chose us to keep the Torah and to teach G-dliness  to the whole 
BTW this is as good a time as any to quote again one of my favorite bits of  
doggerel.  This was in answer to the anti-Semitic couplet, "How odd of G-d/  
to choose the Jews."  The response was:  "It's not so odd/ the Jews  chose G-d."

--Toby Katz
Romney -- good values,  good family, good hair
Best hope against  Hillary

**************Start the year off right.  Easy ways to stay in shape.     
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Message: 10
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:19:21 -0500
[Avodah] Changing God's Mind

R' Micha wrote: By turning to the Borei one changes the factors that  
go into His

I understand the many answers given to: If God knows the future where  
is man's free will? But how would you respond to "If God is omniscient  
(and of course, knows the future), then how can His mind be changed?   
In other words, God knows what His decisions will be, so it's almost  
an oxymoron to say that your prayers may change His decision. If you  
maintain that they may change His Mind, then His Mind had already been  
made up to change.

Gut voch and gut luck (in responding to my impossible question).

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Message: 11
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 13:30:48 -0500
[Avodah] God's Answer was "NO"

HM wrote:
I have heard this Hashkafic statement more times than I can count. And  
I have a problem with it.

  When someone says he prays for something and wasn't answered, he  
means that he did not get the results he prayed for. If for example a  
parent prays that  a certain treatment to succesfully remove save a  
child from a serious disease, and then that child dies, is saying that  
the prayer was answered in the nefative the right thing to say?

  Of course it was answered in the negative. The parent realizes that.  
The child died!

  When an indvidual says his prayers weren't answered, he means that  
what he was praying for was denied. Telling a greiving parent who lost  
a child that his prayers were indeed answered but in the negative is  
not going to make him feel any better. What exactly is the point of  
saying that?

  One of the purposes of prayer is that we can change the 'mind' of  
God. If we Daven, God will hear us and cure the patient. If the  
patient then dies, is it appropriate to say that God answered our  
prayers? I don't think so. I can't imagine a greiving parent who after  
losing a child will say God answered his or her prayers!

First of all, I would NEVER tell anyone who prayed for a loved one  
that God's answer was "No."  That would be cruel and pointless. But to  
follow your logic, how is it any less cruel to tell a parent that God  
just didn't answer the prayer. The same problem still exists. God does  
what He wills, not what we will. At times, He answers our requests and  
at times He doesn't for only reasons He alone knows. To say His answer  
was "No" is just as good as saying He didn't answer them, period.  
We're really talking semantics and avoiding the much larger  
theological puzzle. The ultimate answer is that we have no answer and  
IMHO, the more people come up with different reasons, is grasping at  
unknowable straws. The only time a theory assumes ultimate authority  
is when it can be proven. That's where faith comes in.

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