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Volume 25: Number 136

Tue, 15 Apr 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 23:09:46 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Hasiba, the Raaviya, and a Potential Halachic

RRWolpoe cites the Yerushalmi:

Q; Why must one do hasiba at the seder?
A: Lest one eat STANDING UP like a servant!

RAZWeiss has cited this g'mara several times in his Shabbat Hagadol
drashot, and says that this is "l'mayse": one may not be yotze mitzvat
achilat matza while standing,. He tells that once his daughter got up
during the eating of the matza at the seder to care for her baby who
started crying. R. Weiss said that the part of the matza she consumed while
standing did not count for mitzvat achilat matza, based on this Yerushalmi.

R. Weiss has also said several times that the obligation to eat 2 k'zaytim
for motzi-matza (since two brachot are made on the matzot)  applies *only*
to the seder leader who alone makes  birkat hamotzi (according to common
practice). The other participants, who say only birkat "al achilat matza",
are only required to eat one k'zayit, even l'chatchila. He says that this
is l'halacha ul'mayse. He has also written so explicitly in his hagaddah,
Minchat Asher, first edition, p.36.

Chag kasher v'sameach.

Saul Mashbaum
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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 17:26:43 -0400
[Avodah] Mishnah brura

Interesting R'Reisman shiur mentions that our megilot follow rabbeinu
tam vs rashi on the spacing of the asseret bnai haman versus the mishnah
brura and gra.  A chaburah in lakewood learning safrut questioned this
and looked at the megilla used when R' AK was r"y and it follows ours.
They sent off a shaila to e"y and eventually rewrote that section of the

Lots to think about in the context of many old posts!

Joel Rich
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Message: 3
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 01:19:37 +0200
Re: [Avodah] levayah minhagim

RAF[rimmer, who-shares-initials-with-me] wrote:
>  In the United States, the general custom I observed at religious funerals
> was to have all family members (male and female) go through the shura
> together which was made up of men and women. At my first funeral in Israel
> ca 1974, I noted that the Chevra Kadisha instructed only the men to make a
> shura for only the male mourners. ?I asked the head of the Chevra Kadisha
> and he indicated that that's what is found in Rav Tackatchinsky's Gesher
> haChaim.

Our Kehillah has been in uninterrupted operation for more than 200 years. 
Consequently, our cemetary traditions are old, as well. Men and women remain 
separate at funerals, with women staying furtehr away from the grave while 
the men fill it. Then, once the men retreat, after the shurah, which is only 
for men by men, women are free to come to the grave.

Is that, which you describe as the American custom of yore perhaps not the way 
it was done way back, after all, but rather the compromise that came about 
when Orthodoxy was still insecure? (This is a sociological argument and not a 
halakhic one)

Kind regards,
Arie Folger

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Message: 4
From: "R Davidovich" <raphaeldavidovich@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 13:33:17 -0400
[Avodah] Yemenite Seder Kiddush Nusach

There was a reference in an article Dr. Levine submitted to a special
Yemenite version of Kiddush at the seder.  Google isn't helping me locate
it, so I thought I would ask you, the list members, if you know anything
about it.  Where could I locate the text of this Kiddush.

Thank you
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Message: 5
From: Cantor Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 19:38:52 -0400
[Avodah] Acharei Mot "What Happens After Develops From What

Acharei Mot is the only Torah portion with the word "death" in its  
title.  As we know, death in Judaism is associated with tamei.
However, as everything must be taken in context, so too, should  
death.  The portion "Acharei Mot" is followed by "Kedoshim".
So the context is much more optimistic than at first appearance.  
"Acharei Mot" ? "AFTER death", is "Kedoshim", holiness.
Death is not the finality; holiness is.
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Message: 6
From: <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 15:24:44 -0400
[Avodah] Malach

There is no bechira for a malach as there is no bechira for an animal.
Humans, therefore, containing a bit of the malach and a bit of the animal,
have bechira. It's the combination that radically changes the composition
of each separate entity.

If you take hydrogen alone you have one element and oxygen alone, another.
Combine hydrogen with a valence of 2 together with l valence of oxygen and
you get water ? an entirely different element. 

You might say we are like the "water." And if we get too hot, we evaporate,
and if we get too cold, we freeze. The "choice" is ours to land somewhere
in between.

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Message: 7
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 16:42:12 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Denying that Chazal are Oral Torah is Kefira?

On Sat, April 12, 2008 11:59 pm, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: 1. do we HAVE the correct Girsa in the Bavli?
: 2. Would the CI hold thatRuach hakdoesh also applies to flaky/suspect
:    girsaos?

I didn't understand the CI to invoke RhQ. Rather, he invoked halachic
process plus mentioning as a 2nd layer that there is siyata diShmaya
involved in the process so that even a conclusion reached by accident
was reached because it is of value. But the authority is that of the
process, not of being able to get to the right girsa. "Nitzchuni

For example, he is quoted in the same letter as saying that we know
our sifrei Torah are NOT the original text (on a spelling level; as
per R' Meir's "yeseiros vecheseiros"). They took the majority of three
sefarim to reconstruct the Torah after churban bayis. The result
didn't match any of the 3 originals. And yet, if we were to find
Ezra's or MRAH's seifer Torah, we would have to use ours and not
switch to theirs.

That's not an issue of having the historically correct girsa, it's an
issue of the processes defining correctness.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 8
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 16:53:02 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Chinese repression in Tibet - al pi Torah?

On Sun, April 13, 2008 3:09 am, RSBA wrote:
: OTOH, atheism is lechoreh, 'shev-v'al-taaseh', while AZ is a
: 'kum-asei'- which is far more serious.

The whole question arose because the atheists are actively suppressing
religion. It's not that they simply don't believe in the Borei, it's
that they actively preach and promote his non-existence.

: In the Aseres Hadibros there is a mitzvas asei of "Onoychi Hashem
: Elokecho' and a mitzvas lo saseh of "Lo yihyeh lecho elohim acherim".
: Presumably one would get s'char for at least keeping the 2nd.

Assuming for the moment that the 10 diberos were relavent to benei
Noach, the polytheist who believes in a Creator keeps the first, but
not the second. It's a tie.

But the issue is the 7 mitzvos, for which the equivalent of the 2nd
diberah is far far looser. The polytheist may be ahead.

And here, no one has established to my satisfaction that my co
worker's "library" (2 books) misrepresents his religion. AISI, they
might be very showy in worshipping 'saints' -- people who realized
their unity with the all -- complete with offerings, effigies, etc...
but the books they present to US believers do not claim to have
multiple deities.

In fact, they claim to not touch the topic of deity altogether. I
asserted on my own that this all, a singular indivisible absolute
infinite, qualified as a deity in our book, even if not in theirs.

And so, I have no strong reason to believe they got much further than
Dor Enosh (and perhaps even arguably less far), which might not be
beyond Tosafos's heter of shituf.

The trappings of paganism are divorced from actual beliefs of
polytheism. You might say they alone are assur to a ben Noach --
although I can't think of the issur -- but one can't start making
deductions from that that just because they have icons they have many

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 9
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 17:46:51 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] WTG

On Sun, April 13, 2008 10:44 pm, T613K@aol.com wrote:
: In  Avodah Digest, Vol 25, Issue 124 dated 4/4/2008 "Stadlan, Noam"
: <nstadlan@cinn.org> writes:
: ....In other words, RHS decided that WTG was wrong, and ruled
: accordingly on the halachic issues in question....

: This is a pretty good description of how da'as Torah works, if anyone
: is still wondering about the definition of that term.  The "personal"
: opinions  of a big talmid chacham are never just personal, and tend
: to gain wide acceptance among those who respect him and who accept
: his authority.  Some of those who move in YU circles seem to be
: allergic to the very idea of "da'as Torah" but whether they use the
: term or not, that's what they're following when they accede to the
: psak of a Torah scholar whom they respect and whose wisdom  they
: acknowledge to be greater than their own.

I think a stronger example of MO daas Torah is when two YU guys pick
at the words of Qol Dodi Dofeiq to decide if we're supposed to back
land for peace or not.

You are blurring over the critical issue of topic. No one questions
the role of the poseiq to pasqen, and most of us do not dispute the
role of "Torah values" in determining between two textually valid

The machloqesin arise when you get into balancing strength of sevaros,
sources in sefarim or minhag avos against such values.

Daas Torah is when the idea is used when the question isn't halachic.
I posted a short while ago the notion that there is a spectrum between
chiyuv and issur of more and less advisability. This would seem to
imply that every question is halachic, or at least touches religion.
However, that's a question of impact. When in that gray zone, the
questions are usually about the metzi'us, not the merit of the

As for what is DT, I highly suggest reading
<http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/observ-on-daat.html> which does a decent
survey of the debate in the journals up to its time. If you have more
time, R' Alfred Cohen's (ed RJJ Journal) article is available at

The article, in passing, also makes a distinction between global
communal leadership, neighborhood leadership (should the gedolim step
in on an LOR's turf, or does he know the people better) and in
personal questions.

But I think MO more objects to the assumption that a particular set of
rabbis have DT to the exclusion of theirs, and the concomitant claim
(which is both cause and effect) that DT leads to agreement on all
essential matters. Because, after all, it guarantees the one right
answer. This defies eilu va'eilu and much of the notion of halachic
process, mandates changing history to today's DT-backed answers, and
(most irritating to MO) implicitly delegitimize the possibility of MO
and their rabbanim representing another derekh.

Until one tries to divorce oneself from that emotional issue, the MO
Jew can't really assess the ideas of the debate.

That kind of da'as Torah, as in "da'as Torah has spoken", runs counter
to the entire enterprise of the halachic process. Because there is
machloqes on very basic issues, and on very pressing communal issues,
and has been since before Batei Hillel and Shammai disagreed on
inyanei yuchsin.

And IMHO, there are many questions for which asking a career counselor
or someone you choose to be your professional mentor may give you more
clarity than your rav. No less than heading for your doctor or your
general (to cite the gemara's examples). It's only on the occasion
where you can't see which job would offer more opportunity for avodas
Hashem than another that I would think a rav's help is primary. Do I
take a job that allows me to be home evenings with my children, or one
that starts later and allows me to maintain my morning seider?

I want to close with a quote (taken from the aforeposted URL for RAC's
article) from the Baal haTanya, Igeres haQodesh #22 (note: a
chassidishe source no less!) Things were changing in the early days of
Chassidus, and the BhT was no fan of what would grow into daas Torah:

> My dear friend...."Remember the days of old, understand the years of
> every generation" ? has there ever been anything like this since the
> beginning of time?! Where, in all the books of the scholars of Israel,
> whether the earlier or later ones, have you ever seen such a custom
> instituted, to ask about a secular question, such as what to do in
> some mundane matter, even from the greatest of the early wise men of
> Israel, such as the tannaim and amoraim...but rather [people would
> turn to] actual prophets, such as there used to be, such as Shmuel
> the Seer, to whom Saul went to ask about the donkeys which his father
> had lost. But in truth, all matters relating to a person, other than
> something having to do with Torah or fear of heaven, are not
> apprehended other than through prophecy, and not by a wise man. As
> our rabbis have taught, "Everything is in the hands of heaven other
> than fear of heaven..."

> And when our rabbis zt"l said that people "derive benefit from him
> [from a talmid chacham] by advice and sound wisdom," this refers to
> words of Torah, which is called "sound wisdom".

Then RAF continues by showing a ra'ayah for DT from the Me'iri...

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 10
From: D&E-H Bannett <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 23:47:12 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Kazayyit size

Re: R'AM's <<I see the numbers, but I do not understand 
them. Is someone suggesting that we know how thick the 
matzah of R' Chayyim Volzhiner was? ..>>

The assumption of 1.8 mm thickness was simply a means to 
obtain a diameter of a round matza when knowing the volume. 
R' Greenfield measured a number of hand matzas and took that 
number as an average.  Using it, he then drew matzas with 
diameters corresponding to the different shitot for 
If you take a thicker matza, like the commercial unbreakable 
ones, the diameters will be smaller but they can still be 
compared.  If you make matzas paper thin and subject to 
breakage like I, my sons, grandsons, and one greatgrandson 
do, the diameters would, of course, be larger. (On erev 
Pesach we carry them in a Pizza box. You should see the 
looks we get.)

Re: <<The reference to "some years ago on the list" might be 
referring to the post at 
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol04/v04n019.shtml#05  But if 
so, it offers even less data than this post does.)>>

There were a number of postings. In one of mine, I listed 
the various volumes just as I did now. In another, 
commenting on the new large zeitim,  I mentioned the CS 
shita. He did not swallow the 2 zeitim little by little but, 
chewed and gathered them in one cheek after which he 
swallowed the entire amount all at once. Try putting two 
whole matzas or even one whole matza in one cheek and then 
swallowing it all at once.  Perhaps a Jewish pelican might 


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Message: 11
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 00:50:09 +0300
[Avodah] personalities in Egypt

As usual we know nothing of the Egyptian side of yetziat mizrayim

I enjoyed the old movie - ten commandments - as it showed Moshe and
Pharoh as almost brothers growing up in the same house.
Any discussion of this in midrashim?

Also does any midrash discuss what happened in Egypt and the Jews
crossed yam suf? Did they believe more in Hashem? it doesnt
seem that they became friendly towards the Jews based on fear of the Lord

Eli Turkel

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Message: 12
From: "Joseph C. Kaplan" <jkaplan@tenzerlunin.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 18:08:57 -0400
[Avodah] Da'at Torah

RTK's very clear explanation of what she believes da'at (or daas, if you
like) Torah is leaves open one issue:  once you ask advice on a personal
matter, or a community representative asks advice on a communal matter,
what obligation, if any, does the person asking for the advice have to
follow it?  Is it legitimate to ask for advice, consider it seriously, and
then decide not to follow it?  My sense is that those who follow da'at
Torah feel they must always follow the advice, but I may be wrong.  If I am
right, however, that is where the MO differ.  Many of us also ask advice on
various issues where pesak halacha is not at issue, and although we do
consider the advice given by the rabbinic leader to whom we are addressing
the question, we do not feel bound to follow the advice. 

Joseph Kaplan
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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 22:25:09 -0400
Re: [Avodah] K'zayis as weight not volume?

On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 08:10:40PM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
: In the case of matzah, the traditional conversion factor happens
: to be 1.  It appears that experimental data contradicts that tradition;
: if verified then the practise needs to be re-evaluated.  Maybe sefardi
: matzot are denser than the ones Ashkenazim use today.

No baked good could be nearly as dense as a liquid. There is incomparably
less gas disolved in water than air-holes in matzah. And soft matzah
would have to be even LESS dense than our crackers in order to be soft
(and yet made of the same material).

Picture it: ROY says the shiur if 27gm. He gave that assuming 1 gm means
1 cc, or IOW he was giving shitas R' Chaim Na'ah -- 27cc. However, in
reality anyone following his weight would be eating at least 46.6 cc
(assuming a pessimistic .58 gm/cc).

You could make a size chart with a much smaller safety factor and use
volume. The advantage of switching to mass is lost one you throw in such
a margin of safety.

The only thing I could think of: Sepharadi matza differs far more widely
in thickness than ours -- some use crackers, others use something more
like a wrap, and yet others get as thick as a laffa. Area therefore
doesn't translate cleanly to volume.

Which would mean the only alternative to using weight would be to immerse
the matzah in liquid and see how much is displaced -- which would leave
you with unusable matzah for the mitzvah.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Nearly all men can stand adversity,
micha@aishdas.org        but if you want to test a man's character,
http://www.aishdas.org   give him power.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                      -Abraham Lincoln


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