Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 48

Tue, 29 Jan 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "hlampel@koshernet.com" <hlampel@koshernet.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 19:51:50 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Diberah Torah

Re: Diberah Torah (Zvi Lampel)

RMB wrote:

On Fri, January 25, 2008 12:23 pm,
hlampel@koshernet.com wrote:
: But the Rambam, for instance, said that this is the
meaning of what
Chazal said. For example, Moreh Nevuchim (1:26):

: You, no doubt, know their saying, which encompasses
: all the various kinds of interpretation connected to
: this area. namely what they said: "The Torah speaks
: according to the language of man."? This implies that
: expressions that can easily be comprehended and
: understood by all at first thought, are necessarily
: associated to the Alm-ghty, yis-aleh...

RMB: I think we would both agree the Rambam is talking
about idiom, not metaphor.

ZL: Yes.
RMB: Yes, that does imply an underlying concept
lying beneath R'Yishma'el's objection to R' Aqiva's
"doreish tagin".

ZL: Glad we're still agreeing.
RMB: But still it doesn't make it broad enough to
include many of the
things the phrase has been used to justify both here
and in print in
the last few decades.

ZL: Sorry, I must have missed the use you're
referring to and discounting. Can you give some examples?
RMB: The idea is still to look at the meaning of
a phrase, not the mechanics of the words used.

ZL: "Mechanics of the words used"? I don't know what
you mean. Sorry again if I entered the discussion out
of context.
RMB: And nothing about going beyond that
meaning to hidden meanings. (If anything, it might
imply the reverse!)

ZL: I've lost you, both reverse and forward.

Zvi Lampel

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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 22:48:04 -0500
Re: [Avodah] What would a Torah government look like

Micha Berger wrote:

> As for the topic of enforcing mitzvos bein adam laMaqom or mitzvos
> shim'iyos... I think the advisability and permissability is sorely
> curtailed by tov sheyihyu shogegin.

Though mutav sheyihyu shogegin doesn't apply to explicit d'oraitot.

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 Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 23:16:58 -0500
[Avodah] "Borei nefashos rabbos VECHESRONAM"

Someone wrote:
That is indeed one of the interpretations given by the Rishonim, but  
another one does indeed understand "v'hesronan" as "defects" or "lacks".

This brings to mind Isaiah 45:7  "I form the light, and create  
darkness: I make peace, and create evil; I am the Lord Who does all  
these things."
Actually, the term evil (ra) here denotes calamity and suffering.  
These serve as means of punishment for the sins of man. Moral evil, on  
the other hand, does not proceed from God, but is the result of man's  
actions. Moral evil is an absence of God's morality. In most Siddurim,  
the phrase is changed to 'create all things.' Some commentators have  
detected in this verse, in which God is declared to be the universal  
Creator of both light and darkness, good and evil, a directr allusion  
to, and intentional contradiction of , the Persian belief in dualism  
according to which the world is ruled by two antagonistic gods, Ahura  
Mada, the god of light and goodness, and Ahriman, the god of darkness  
and evil. (Though we have Soton, it is never referred to as a god).  
More modern exegetes doubt the allusion and understand the declaration  
as a general denial of all polytheistic systems -- not just Persian  
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Message: 4
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 05:42:03 -0500
[Avodah] Beautiful Messianic Insight and Hope Excerpted from

Chafetz Chaim raises the classic concern how the latest generations  
consider meriting the advent of Mashiach? If previous generations who  
undoubtedly more pious than ours did not merit Mashiach how could our  
shameful generation merit him? Chafetz Chaim answers that, on the  
contrary, no
generation ever qualified for Mashiach as much as ours. He explains  
that in previous times, mitzva observance was, basically, a foregone  
conclusion. It
did not require endless self sacrifice and had therefore had  
relatively limited value. In our days, however, foreign influences are  
so rampant that even basic
mitzva observance requires tremendous devotion and sacrifice. In  
present times, we may add, morality has fallen so low that attaining  
any level of purity and self
negation is a tremendous accomplishment. In this light every mitzva  
has such great value that we, above all, display Hashem's greatest  
glory. Hashem undoubtedly
tells His angels, "Look at My people who manage to remain moral and  
pure even in their corrupt and free thinking environment." "Can anyone  
bring Me greater
glory than them?!"

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Message: 5
From: Richard Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 05:48:56 -0500
[Avodah] Lo Bashamayim Hee

The Sages relate that the angels complained to Hashem when He chose to  
share His precious Torah
with His people. They argued, "Your glory (Your Torah) should remain  
among the Heavenly beings. They are
holy and Your Torah is holy, they are pure and Your Torah is pure and  
they are everlasting and Your Torah
is also." One of the answers to that is three words from the Torah:  
"Lo bashamayim hee".

However, Midrash Shochar Tov 8 says that  Hashem responded that the  
Torah could not remain amongst
them because they are perfect spiritual beings with no mortality,  
impurity or illness. Hashem's true glory would
ultimately come from man plagued by impurity and mortality.


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Message: 6
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 12:49:56 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Cave or desert island

>> I said (all >> = me)
>> The Sifra says this on the Tochacha (I think) - when you go into
>> galut, keep doing mitzvot, AS A REMINDER. Our doing mitzvot in
>> chutz
>> la'aretz is only a reminder so that we remember how to keep them in
>> haAretz. It is davka in haAretz where we will be a mamlechet kohanim
>> v'goy kodash, and thus an ohr lagoyim.

> R' Micha said (all > = R' Micha)
> And the Radaq, and the Ramban. However, this simply can't be peshat,
> as then Hillel and Shammai had no justification for staying in Bavel
> while their rebbe was alive. In Bavel, you would argue, they have no
> real mitzvah of talmud Torah. It would be assur to die al qiddush
> Hashem in chu"l, since suicide is 7 mitzvos, and qiddush Hashem is
> not.

Why would there be no mitzvah of talmud torah and chiddush hashem in
chutz? All 613 are completely 100% obligatory in chutz. It's just that
they're not intended to do what they were meant to do originally at
Sinai. It's practice for the real thing, in EY.

And we seem to havea machloket between Bavli and Yerushalmi. The Bavli
for example has Rabbi Zeira's three oaths and such. And yet Midrash
Rabbba has Reish Lakish castigate Rabbi Zeira, and Rabbi Zeira
recants. (However, the Bavli also tells us to prefer an EY city of
idolaters to a Jewish city in chutz. So the machloket might not be
large.) So for any Amoraim who stayed in Bavel, we can say...
a) ...the conditions in EY were simply too difficult, what with the
persecutions and all. But ideally, they'd have made aliyah.
b) ...what Reish Lakish said.

> And what about the person lost in the Negev a little north of Qadeish
> Barnei'a? He lives in EY, thus he would be chayav to wear tefillin no
> less than someone living in the Rova in Y-m. But does nothing toward
> advancing the rest of Kelal Yisrael, or even a minyan of us. How is he
> helping the nation fulfill a covenant?

Sometimes, a halacha has to be made binding even in situations where
logically, it doesn't strictly apply. Rabbi Aryeh Carmel in
Masterplan, for example, uses this to explain yichud and negia;
obviously, there are many people who would successfully withstand the
temptation, but the prohibition is a blanket one nonetheless, even for
those for whom it does not logically apply.

> And what about the Rav Saadia, Ramchal or Nefesh haChaim, who speak of
> mitzvos in terms of sheleimus ha'adam? The Rambam writing about an
> individual's yedi'as haBorei? Or Chassidishe sefarim who speak of the
> individual achieving deveiqus? Aren't the overwhelming majority of
> hashkafic sources written from the assumption that mitzvos exist for
> the purpose of ennobling the self? RMM cites RSRH quite often -- the
> whole notion of TIDE is that both are necessary to ennoble *the self*!

And RSRH speaks of the lessons of mitzvot in terms of mankind. In any
case, I cannot comprehend the idea of tzedaka to the poor only
applying for Jews, i.e. a gentile shouldn't help the poor. It seems to
me that the Noachide laws are a minimum standard, but there's nothing
to say that it isn't good if they go further. Rambam in fact in Hil
Melachim says a gentile can do any mitzvah for reward.

Therefore, mitzvot do have shleimut ha'adam, but this isn't specific to Jews.

> I stick to the theory that both berisim exist -- between HQBH and BY
> and between HQBH and each ben Yisrael. Thus, on a national level, it
> only serves as practice. But on a personal level, there is still a
> tachlis to being more than a ben Noach.
> It is true that each Jew is part of Kelal Yisrael. The Rambam is very
> careful in seifer hamitzvos to describe mitzvos BALC as being between
> parts of a whole. But it is also true the Kelal Yisrael is the sum of
> individual Jews.

I see it that a Jew is individually special, insofar as he is an
ambassador for his special nation. The nation is what is special, and
the specialness of the individual flows therefrom. But as an
individual, by himself, he isn't so different from a gentile. I might
be having a fusion of RSRH and Rav Kook here.

>> 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....

> Where is "entire reason"?
> In fact, it's not reason, "al kein" spells purpose. Why assume there
> is only one purpose?

Okay, add "mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh" and "ohr lagoyim" here. We
are a holy nation and a light to nations - the nation seems to be
emphasized. Yes, we are all individually kohanim, but I would see this
as meaning we are representatives of that nation, and therefrom flows
any individual specialness.

>> I'd agree with this, as above. A Jew in galut logically ought to
>> become a Noachide.

> You just disproved your case. Ravina and Rav Ashi concluded otherwise.

They concluded otherwise how? By writing the Gemara in chutz? This
doesn't disprove me. I said logically, in that save the fact that
we'll return and become am echad ba'aretz again, it'd be logical to
stop being Jewish. Only if we know we'll have geula and national
return, does it make sense to continue being Jewish in chutz. But
logically speaking, it would make sense to stop being Jewish in galut.

>> Likewise, we don't serve for Olam Haba. See Rav Hirsch towards the
>> end
>> of Bereshit perek tet. There, 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. In fact, I'd say that Olam
>> haBa is almost meaningless, because after all, we're just going to be
>> resurrected and live on the physical world again....
> Tangent: Machloqes:
> Rambam, Ikkarim -- eternity is spent in Olam haBa, after techiyas
> hameisim and a second death
> Ramban -- eternity is spent on some perfected physical plane after
> techiyas hameisim -- but that plane is Olam haBa (not the post-death
> non-physical existence)
> R' Kook -- a fusion of the two: The wall between this world and the
> non-physical one a person enters after death is an illusion. At some
> point, the world will reach a level where the illusion is broken, and
> people will thus be both in a post-death reality and in a refined
> version of our physical world.
> End-tangent.


I knew about Rambam and Ramban, but I never saw Rav Kook's! This
explains Rabbi Isidore Epstein in Faith of Judaism and The Jewish Way
of Life - he waxes for awhile about the value Judaism places on the
physical world, and he says that therefore Judaism places its ideal
world in the temporal world. But then he immediately turns around and
says that the ideal world will be spiritual, but unlike other
religions, Judaism sees no intrinsic distinction between kodesh and
chol, and so this is no problem. I could never figure out whether
Rabbi Epstein was following Rambam or Ramban! So now I see, he was
following Rav Kook!

In any case, all these ideas of techiyat hameitim seem too
philosophical and far from the p'shat. What's the problem with saying
we'll be resurrected into the temporal present physical world? It
makes beautiful sense: the Messianic Era comes, and all the dead are
resurrected to live therein for all eternity. Simple and elegant. See
Rabbi Berkovits towards end of G-d Man and History.

> The Ramchal says we do serve Hashem so that we can give Him the
> opportunity to share his Ultimate Tov with us in olam haba. The
> ultimar Tov must include tzelem E-lokim, and thus must have an element
> of being self-made. You can't just dismiss this part of the Rambam's
> thought as being an Aristotilianism, as that doesn't describe the
> Ramchal.

Tzelem elokim is not the ultimate tov itself, but rather the way to
achieve it, according to my understanding, and Ramchal's too I think.
Tzelem elokim = free will = allows us to do good and avoid evil and
thus win the ultimate tov through our own effort and not as a gift.

I see nothing Rambam-ist here. Rambam said that knowledge is the
ultimate tov, as per Aristotle. I don't see Ramchal saying any such
thing. But then again, I'm not an expert in Derech Hashem.

> Second, for sechar va'onesh to have any meaning, I would think it's
> correlated to the meaningfulness of the action. And thus, even just
> diagnostically -- the individual must be doing something qua
> individual if the reward is qua individual.

Tov. The person is doing Hashem's will. Hashem does want everyone to
be righteous and caring towards his fellow, etc. Far be it from me to
dispute this!

Rather, I'm saying that it is not the individual by himself that
matters ultimately. In order to be good, I have to have a neighbor to
be good to. Taking this to the logical conclusion, it means that
society is intrinsically necessary for the Torah to be carried out.

This I believe is one of the axioms of TIDE; a life of seclusion and
self-perfection is meaningless. One must involve himself in society
and the world.

It's like how sewing one stitch is not a melacha. Normally, hetzi
shiur is assur, but here's it mutar. Why? Because sewing one stitch,
you haven't done anything! It takes two stitches to sew anything.
Likewise, writing one letter means nothing, because there's no word in
Hebrew with only one leter.

In order for any of your bein adam l'chavero mitzvot to accomplish
anything, you have to have a society of at least two people. And the
glory of the King is in the masses, or something like that. As for
bein adam l'makom, obviously this is important too. But it seems to me
that Hashem favors the l'chavero - if He wants l'makom, he has the
angels for that. Furthermore, Rabbi Telushkin b'shem Dennis Prager
points out that just as a parent would prefer his children love each
other and hate him to love him and hate each other, so too Hashem.

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 12:56:08 +0200
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] assisted suicide

>> Some of the people who spoke in favor of the bill tried to show how Shimshon
>> would have been in favor of assisted suicide.

> I'm surprised that I haven't heard people bring Shimshon as a support
> for Palestinian suicide bombers (Yes, I'm sure google will produce
> some).

I've thought about this before, and it has troubled me.

Well first, the suicide bombers are wrong. They may disagree, but we
know they are criminals. So there's no question with them.

But what about a Jewish terrorist and/or vigilante? Maybe he is like Shimshon?

Based on Rabbi Henkin's article in Equality Lost, I've come to the
conclusion that ther are at least three differences between a Jewish
terrorist (JT hereafter) today and Shimshon:

1) JT = chillul hashem. Whereas with Shimsohon, he hid his
Jewish loyalties through (apparent) intermarriage.

2) With Shimshon there was no ordained government; there was nothing
to do except vigilantism. But with JT , there is an IDF and a court
system to take care of things.

3) JT doesn't accomplish anything. He's too small by himself, and the
situation in Israel is too large and politically complex. This simple
fact that it is futile means it has no justification. He'll just do a
chillul hashem and bring a wave of backlash agains the very cause he's
trying to represent (and no one said his cause itself is wrong - see
Rav Hirsch on Shimon and Levi - their intention to defend Dina's honor
was true, but their Esav-ic method was not).

Mikha'el Makovi


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