Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 199

Wed, 28 May 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 23:38:07 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Lo Bashamayim Hee

A much-expanded version of a previous post of mine to this thread,
regarding my...err...radical view of TSBP:

> Hazal wanted us to know that once the
> Torah left the heavens it would no longer remain the pristine Perfect
> Handiwork of HKBH, but would henceforth be managed and interpreted by
> error-prone humans. Nevertheless - despite the loss of innocence for
> the Torah - this step was necessary. The time had come for the
> innocent Torah to mix it up with the mortals and to help us even if if
> would not remain in its original state.
> Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
> RabbiRichWolpoe@Gmail.com
> see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner makes a large point of this, saying that
the truth of Torah She'be'al'pe is not what Hashem says but what we
say (Rabbi Eliezer and the oven), in line with Drashot haRan #5 on the
oven and Sefer haChinuch on the mitzvah of following the judges, that
we follow our rabbis even when they're wrong.

See also Rabbi Gil Student's "Halachic Responses To Scientific
Developments" (http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/science.html) citation
of Yad Yehuda 30:3, quoting Rambam Hilkhot Shekhita 10:12-13, that we
cannot question Chazal's decisions regarding which animals are treifa,
because all we have is Chazal's decisions, and they are sealed.

According to Rambam, drashot can be overturned by a later Sanhedrin.

In fact, Rabbi Glasner, quoting the Midrash Shmuel on Avot, "aseh
sayag laTorah", says that the Oral Law was oral davka to make it
flexible and subject to change. This explains the Gemara's apocalyptic
permission to write the Oral Law, viz "eit la'asot lashem"; by writing
the Oral Law, to save it, a vital piece of it was destroyed, part of
its raison d'etre in fact! Because once a piece of the Oral Law was
written, it became authoritative, and no longer subject to change and
evolution as was previously the case.

Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits  (who received semicha from Rabbi Glasner's
son, Rabbi Akiva Glasner) expands extensively on this point, that the
writing of the Mishna, Gemara, and the Codes successively ossified the
halacha in a way that the Oral Law was never meant to be, making us
Karaites of the Oral Law.

See Rabbi Glasner's hakdamah to his Dor Revi'i, perush on Chullin. It
is partially translated by Rabbi Yaakov Elman at
http://www.math.psu.edu/glasner/Dor4/elman.html. See also the
biography by David Glasner at
http://www.math.psu.edu/glasner/Dor4/Dorrev7.html. As for Rabbi
Berkovits, he makes his points in a variety of locations, including
Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha (aimed at
secularly-educated scholars), Halakha: Kocha v'Tafkida (aimed at
rabbinical scholars), Towards Historic Judaism, and Crisis and Faith.

Rabbi Glasner simply takes this entire philosophy a bit further than
most. Likewise Rabbi Berkovits on Moshe seeing Rabbi Akiva's class and
not understanding and learning from this that Torah does evolve over
time; both are more extreme than most, but the gist of what they say
is quite normative, as far as it seems to me. In fact, once we say

1) halachot could be forgotten and had to be recovered by humans,
2) many drashot were in fact used by humans to actually derive the law
(often **but not always** they were asmachtot for laws already known
as kabbalot)

(See, for example, Dynamics of Dispute by Rabbi Zvi Lampel,
"Interpretation" by Menachem Elon in Encyclopedia Judaica, Rabbi
Isidore Epstein's introduction to the Soncino Midrash Rabbah, Rabbi
Gil Student "Midrash Halakha" at

we are admitting the human element of many halachot, and we can no
longer say it is purely m'Sinai as most say Torah She'be'al Pe is, and
we are forced, as it seems to me, to adopt some sort of opinion
similar if not as extreme as those of Rabbis Glasner and Berkovits, as
least as far as theory goes (Rabbi Berkovits's actualization of this
philosophy is a matter for a separate debate.)

Therefore, for example, we ought to realize that an Amora's
explanation of a Tanna may be his own personal thoughts, similar to
any rav's understanding today of the intent of a prior authority.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his Essential Talmud remarks on the peculiar
Talmudic method of okimta, remarking that it aspires not for
historicity, but rather, it attempts to make as many pieces of
evidence agree as much as it possible.

There is thus no guarantee that a creative drasha is the correct
intent of Torah, nor is there any guarantee that an Amora correctly
understood a Tanna - see Tosafot Yom Tov Nazir 5:5 for permission to
permit mishna differently than the Gemara.

Evidently, the Shadal (Shmuel David Luzzatto) held similarly to this
whole line of thought, that Chazal's drashot on mikra are not
necessarily "correct". See Shmuel Vargon's "Samuel David Luzzatto's
Critique of Rabbinic Exegesis Which Contradicts the Plain Meaning of
Scripture", http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/JSIJ/sum2.html (note: my Hebrew is
insufficient to have read this article yet, so I am relying on the

Rabbi David Bigman, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa (on Har
haGilboa in the Jezre'el), for example, advocates critical Talmud
study, asking, for example, what the Tanna meant independent what the
Amora thought he meant; what different codifications of Oral Law say
(Bavli, Yerushalmi, Tosefta, etc.), each in their own light. See his
"Finding a Home for Critical Talmud Study",

The Kuzari in 3:41 opines that the omer could be brought on any date
chosen by Chazal, and it was Chazal who chose the second day of
Pesach. If so, then it means the contrary opinions of the Tzadukim
(that it was to fall on Sunday, as the literal mikra indicates) is
wrong only insofar as it goes against the binding ruling of Chazal,
and not because it was an invalid drasha. It seems to me that perhaps
alternatively, we simply don't listen to Tzadukim even if they are
correct; there is a story in the Gemara of one rabbi being put to
death, and he realized it was because he once found a drasha of a min
to be pleasing; even though the drasha was valid, he still should have
ignored it. In any case, we can extrapolate that in general, freedom
of midrash is restricted more by Chazal's binding decisions than any
claim of theirs to being the only correct opinion.

I thank Rabbi Yaakov Elman of Yeshiva University for providing me with
sources (most notably, he introduced me to Rabbi Glasner when I
mentioned Rabbi Berkovits), as well as having extensive discussion
with me on their implications. It should be noted, however, that this
philosophy is still a work in progress by me, especially as I continue
to learn more Chumash, Gemara, and Halacha. It should also be noted
that any errors are mine, not Rabbi Elman's, as he has already pointed
out certain errors in my thinking, and no doubt there are still more
to be found.

Mikh'el Makovi

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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 17:31:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Office Coffee machine


My office has a one-cup coffee machine. All the flavors are kosher.
However, it also can be used to dispense hot water, and packets of hot
chocolate with marshmallow mix are right next to the coffee.

Do I have to worry about someone making hot chocolate and the hevel
treifing up the machine?


Same spigot for hot water and coffee?  If so, IIRC R'HS said it's a

Joel Rich
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Message: 3
From: "Simon Montagu" <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 13:45:36 -0700
Re: [Avodah] Standing for mitzvot

On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 10:43 AM, <cherrybim@optonline.net> wrote:
> There is another mitzva which must be performed while standing --"Before the aged you shall rise..."-- ???????? ??????? ???????

I would have said that it must be performed when sitting. If you are
already standing, how do you perform the mitzva of rising?

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Message: 4
From: Lipman <lippomano@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 23:56:47 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Standing for mitzvot

cherrybim@optonline.net wrote:
> There is another mitzva which must be performed while standing --"Before the aged you shall rise..."-- ???????? ??????? ???????

No, this is one of the few mitzves that can't be performed while standing.

ELPh Minden


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Message: 5
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 00:57:52 +0300
[Avodah] first mention in the Torah

<<"We have a tradition that if we wish to discover a concept's meaning, we
should look at the first time it is mentioned in the Torah."

I found the above statement at a fine yeshivah's website. I've heard it
several times, and have seen some interesting examples, but can
someone tell me the source of the tradition, >>

RYBS mentions this principle I believe in the name of his
great-grand-father the Beis HaLevi.

It is a beautiful derasha I have used many times.
At a brit milah we state "hakatan hazeh gadol yehie".
This blessing doesn't make much sense. RYBS explained it based on the
above principle. The first time katan and gadol appear in the Torah is
the description of the moon and sun.
The difference between the moon and sun is that the moon merely
reflects the light of the sun.

Our blessing is that now the infant can only reflect that which is
given to him by his parents so he like the moon. We bless him that
when he grows up he should be like the sun with his own light shining
n the world giving instead of merely reflecting

Eli Turkel

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Message: 6
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 01:01:16 +0300
[Avodah] standing for mitzvot

"The Avudraham (in his siddur, weekday Shacharit) writes that there are
six mitzvot which must be performed while standing, and their initials
spell "alotz shalem": [the cutting of the] omer, [kiddush] levana,
tzitzit, shofar, lulav, and mila."

I thought tekiot demeushav were called that because one was not
required to stand and it is only a minhag to stand for them.

Does one have to standind for counting the days of the Omer?

Eli Turkel

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Message: 7
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 18:41:06 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Standing for mitzvot

<There is another mitzva which must be performed while standing --"Before
the aged you shall rise..."-- ???????? ??????? ??????? >>
au contraire;  one CANNOT do that mitzva while standing;  ONLY while

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Message: 8
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 23:42:19 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Rosh Hashanah 32b There's Hope For Everyone

I wrote:
> No, our ultimate goal is emphatically NOT to uncover the 
> "truth". Rather our goal is to follow the rules, wherever
> they may take us.

R' Richard Wolberg responded:
> With all due respect I disagree emphatically ...
> I think it is obvious that our goal IS to uncover the
> truth as indicated by the following (just a fraction of
> supportive documentation): ... ...

We're comparing apples and oranges.

All the quotes given are of Truth in the general sense, and I agree that
yes, our task in this world is indeed to learn about Truth, about HaShem,
about Torah, etc etc etc, to the best of our ability.

But the post I was reacting to concerned a different kind of truth. Let's
call it "truth" with a lower-case "t", not quite the same thing as "Truth"
with a capital "T". The original post as asking about a hypothetical device
which a posek might use to ...

[Time out while I go to reread that post...]

Okay, I guess I misunderstood the original post. Looks like I was wrong in
thinking he was asking about "truth", and it really was all about "Truth"
from the beginning.


Akiva Miller
Click here for great computer networking solutions!

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 22:02:47 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rosh Hashanah 32b There's Hope For Everyone

I recently wrote a series of blog entries on this. See
"Torah is not being described as Truth. Rather, it is the seed and
process from which Truth blossoms."

Pesaq is a system of defining law, not discovering truth. The purpose of
that law is to bring the people to truth; it reflects our route to Truth,
not Truth itself.

From <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2008/04/geulah.shtml>:
>> R. Shimon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He [ -- HQBH], came to
>> create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and
>> parties. Some said, "Let him be created," while others urged, "Let him not
>> be created." Thus it is written, " ??????????????? ????????????, ??????
>> ?????????? ?????????? -- Love and Truth fought together, Righteousness
>> and Peace kissed each other." [Tehillim 85:11] Love said, "Let him be
>> created, because he will dispense acts of love"; Truth said, "Let him not
>> be created, because he is compounded of falsehood"; Righteousness said,
>> "Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds"; Peace said,
>> "Let him not be created because he is full of strife." What did Hashem
>> do? He took Truth and cast it to the ground. Said the ministering angels
>> before HQBH, "Sovereign of the Universe! Why do You despise Your seal? Let
>> Truth arise from the earth!" As it is written [in the continuing words],
>> "?????? ???????? ????????? -- Let truth bloom up from the earth." [v. 12]
> -Bereishis Rabba 8:5

> Man was created with Hashem's knowledge that with the existence of
> free-willed beings, Truth would be submerged and have to emerge over
> time through the process we call history.

> The Qetzos haChoshen has a beautiful comment on this medrash. He noted
> that here truth is described as tatzmiach, blooming. When we make
> the berakhah after an aliyah, we say "vechayei olam nata besocheinu --
> eternal life [or perhaps: life of the world{-to-come}] was planted within
> us." The Qetzos explains: Torah is the seed from which our medrash
> tell us Truth blooms.
> There is an interesting implication here. (The startling element is not
> in my embellishments, but in the original Qetzos.) Torah is not being
> described as Truth. Rather, it is the seed and process from which Truth
> blossoms.
> It is possible to say that history is the process of closing the gap
> between Truth in its full richness, and Torah as our ability to make
> it manifest. Or, as the mequbalim would say, "Lesheim yichud Qudshah
> berikh Hu uShechintei -- For the sake of the unity of the Holy" -- i.e.
> Remote -- "one and His Presence" -- i.e. as we Perceive her amongst us.

And from
> In light of the idea we're currently developing, we can say as follows.
> Rav Eliezer may have even been closer to Emes than the final ruling was.
> But the purpose of halakhah isn't directly to obtain the Truth. It's
> to make the Truth bloom within us and be manifest in the world. Thus,
> the essence is our working the process. And thus, by implementing it,
> "nitzchuni banai!"

That category has 4 posts in all. I'm only giving the most relevent
portions, and much is lost without context.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 37th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        5 weeks and 2 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Gevurah sheb'Yesod: When does reliability
Fax: (270) 514-1507               require one to be strict with another?

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Message: 10
From: "Simon Montagu" <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 21:10:12 -0700
Re: [Avodah] standing for mitzvot

On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 3:01 PM, Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com> wrote:
> "The Avudraham (in his siddur, weekday Shacharit) writes that there are
> six mitzvot which must be performed while standing, and their initials
> spell "alotz shalem": [the cutting of the] omer, [kiddush] levana,
> tzitzit, shofar, lulav, and mila."
> I thought tekiot demeushav were called that because one was not
> required to stand and it is only a minhag to stand for them.

AIUI this is precisely because the tekiot demeyushav are _not_ the
kiyyum of the mitzva d'oraita, though I only ever heard this orally
and I don't know a source. The Spanish and Portuguese minhag is in
fact not to stand for them (I'm not sure about other Sepharadim).

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Message: 11
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 09:32:28 +0200
[Avodah] Names/Nitpicking (was: Ta'am of eating matzah)

RMB wrote:
> Narvoni

Assuming that his name indicates that he is from Narbonne, shouldn't that 
override the usual rules of diqduq, and the name be pronounced Narboni, with 
a dagesh? Or would you say that in Hebrew, New York has a "Tafan Zi" Bridge?

Arie Folger

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Message: 12
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 10:10:32 +0200
Re: [Avodah] ta'am of eating matza

RRW wrote:
> I could be wrong but menachos that were 'rekikim" seem to me to be wafer
> like and NOT flexible at all. That does not mean there was no suc hthing as
> bendable matzo [iow unleavened pita] but I am not convinced that this was
> EVER the exclusive matza formula...

Pardon me, but IIUC, there were four basic type of mena'hot, plus some special 
cases like min'hot 'havitin, min'hat sotah and le'hem hapanim. They were not 
all prepared the same way. While some were reqiqin, not all were.

Thus, nothing indicates that a simple min'hat solet would be hard baked. In 
fact, neither need a min'hat mar'heshet be hard, it was possibly rather a 
kind of unleavened dumpling. Min'hah 'al ma'hvat could conceivably have been 
a soft pan cake. The hard one was min'hat pitim, and the fact that it is a 
category unto itself indicates that perhaps it was the only hard baked 
min'hah. (but this is debatable, as the point of pitim is the double baking 
process, not it becoming hard.)

Furthermore, as the mena'hot contained oil, they were fundamentally different 
from le'hem 'oni, which we were discussing originally. Parenthetically 
[or, "(parenthetically? ;-))"], I can't recall whether the le'hem hapanim was 
made with or without oil. Parshat Emor mentions only flour, no oil.

Arie Folger

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Message: 13
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 12:24:42 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Baby Wipes (was: Tearing toilet paper on

RMB wrote:
> Another topic that came up was Huggies (a brand of baby wipe that
> comes out far cheaper than the alternatives for me) or tissues that
> are connected by a thin dotted line. They post a similar issue, except
> that they are so barely connected -- typically 3 or four mere dots,
> and wipes are so much thicker, that they will always come apart at the
> dotted line.

Aren't baby wipes subject to another problem: se'hittah? You use them 
precisely because they are moist AND the moisture will wash off the 
secretions off baby's skin. I know some posqim object, though I can't recall 
the references. Is anyone mattir? Why, is the kind of moisture extracted from 
the wipe insignificant? Oh, by the way, I am talking of se'hittah toldah of 
dash (extracting moisture from the cloth), not of se'hittah, toldah of 
Arie Folger


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