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Volume 25: Number 228

Mon, 23 Jun 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 11:38:53 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Tachnun

Cantor Wolberg asked:
> Do any of you not say tachnun until the 13th?

Shaarei Teshuva 131:19 explicitly says that some say Tachanun on Sivan 13, and that in Chu"l, because of Sfeika D'Yoma, some omit it on Sivan 13.

(I was directed to this by the Nitei Gavriel on Shavuos, except there seems
to be a typo there which points to ST 131:3, whereas my Shulchan Aruch has
it at ST 131:19.)

But I must admit that I have no personal knowledge of any shuls which actually omit it on the 13th.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 2
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 17:54:14 GMT
Re: [Avodah] MR was king

R' Richard Wolpoe asked:
> So how did the Avos keep the last mitzvah, i.e. of writing
> a Sefer Torah?

Well, if we can do that mitzvah by purchasing a Mishneh Brurah, I suppose
their public relations efforts of spreading Hashem's Word accomplished at
least at much.

(Not that I am zocheh to understand how my purchasing a printed volume of TSBP can accomplish the mitzvah of writing a scroll of TSBK...)

Akiva Miller

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Message: 3
From: Cantor Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 20:41:46 -0400
[Avodah] Korach Tzaddik Katamar Yifrach

There are eleven Tehillim which have in its first verse a recognition  
of the "livnei Korach."  Korach appeared to be seeking "kedusha" for  
all Jews. However, his comment "For all the congregation are holy" was  
an egregious error and missed the major point that our holiness is not  
an automatic condition, but rather, a potential for which to labor,  
not an assured state. In addition, Korach was challenging authority --  
not for the sake of improvement and good -- but rather for self  
serving motivations. In other words, the machinations of Korach were  
not legitimate. The sages of the gemara welcomed sincere dissension  
and controversy. Machlokess was and IS -- HEALTHY -- and is referred  
to as "controversies that are in the name of heaven," (l'sheim  
shamayim) as opposed to controversies like Korah. So how does one tell  
the difference?

We see from Datan and Aviram's accusation, that instead of their  
working for improvement and for a better future, they are  
romanticizing about the past. They are rejecting the present reality  
and are ultimately doomed to fail since they are blinded by jealousy  
and by their own personal agendas. The portion of Korach is a grim  
reminder of how selfishness and anger warps our thinking and distorts  
how we perceive the world

There is no doubt that when we see injustice, it is necessary and  
essential to speak out and be a positive force in changing the status  
quo. But we will hardly succeed if we do the right things for the  
wrong reasons.

The sages realized that while the Korah rebellion ended so tragically,  
it had the seeds of redemption. In Psalm 92 we read: Tzaddik katamar  
yifrach, "The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree." The last  
letters of these three Hebrew words (in order) spell Korach!  So the  
lesson here is that even though Korach was a great sinner, his concept  
(out of selfish context) was good and with repentance, God is  
forgiving. Given the proper motivation, we can turn even the most  
difficult situations around and eventually succeed!

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Message: 4
From: Cantor Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 21:17:19 -0400
[Avodah] Do Not Separate Yourself and Do Not Believe in

Very interestingly, Hillel is often quoted with: "Al tifrosh min  
hatzibbur"  Do not separate yourself from the community. However, what  
follows immediately is "v'al ta'amin b'atzm'cha ad yom mos'cha."  Do  
not believe in yourself until the day you die.

This is very curious. We are always taught to believe in ourselves. So  
what's this about "Do NOT believe in yourself until the day you die."  
Does that mean that we can only believe in ourselves the actual DAY of  
our death. That's rather impractical seeing that most of us don't know  
when that day will come.

My take on it is as follows: It's no accident that "Al tifrosh..."  
precedes "v'al ta'amin..."  First and foremost we are part of the  
community. With that in mind, we should not focus on ourselves and  
hence, to assure that we remain with the tzibbur, we are admonished  
not to "believe" in ourselves. Also, we should really only believe in  
the Almighty. The day we die is the day we will not be able to join  
the community. So at that time, we can believe in ourselves because  
hopefully we are going to bigger and better heights and believing in  
ourselves at that moment is the culmination of years of struggling to  
overcome our yetzer hara and hopefully we will have succeeded and can  
then believe in ourselves.

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Message: 5
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 11:47:07 +0200
[Avodah] quoting sources

<<Remember Rambam, SA and Kitzur SA all cite no sources.
Tur does at times.>>

A little unfair as R. Karo relies on his commentary Bet Yosef
There are some discrepancies but they are minor

Eli Turkel

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 11:44:52 -0400
[Avodah] Kabbalah vs Scholasticism

(In case anyone is wondering about the lack of my usual "Q" in the subject
line, I wanted something someone might actually find when hunting the
archives by subject line.)

On Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 11:23am EDT, R David Riceman replied to me:
: This deserves a long, nitpicking post.  First of all Kabbalah itself was 
: extremely scholastic...

I would agree that my use of "scholastic" rather than "philosophical"
doesn't fully avoid the problem I was trying to side-step.

However, I will stick with the use of terms because scholasticism still
shows a greater indebtedness to the Greeks. We're talking about competing
philosophies, not philosophy vs. something else.

:                        Compare the Ramak's discussion of atzmuth 
: v'keilim in Pardes Rimmonim to Scotus' discussion of substance in his 
: essay "Concerning Metaphysics".  I used to think that the major 
: distinction to be made was the classical distinction between 
: Aristotelians and Platonists: do universals exist? ...

Well, there is reason for that. Mequbalim speak in terms of finding the
shoreshim of objects and events in this world, which implies that the
world of Ideals is more real and primary to this one.

: My current impression is less clearcut...

Here is how I understand the complication. The Sepharadi rishonim
who studied Aristotle did so from Avicenna's (ibn Sina's) translation.
Avicenna's Metaphysics closes with "The Theology of Aristotle", which is
really extract's from Plotinus's Enneads. Therefore, most of the Arabic
speaking Aristotilians, particularly the rishonim who would spend much
of their philosophical speculation on theology, end up sounding somewhere
between an Aristotilian and a neo-Platonist.

:                                           One of the things that's hard 
: to remember nowadays is that there were two competing physical theories 
: in those days, unlike today when modern scientists agree on the basic 
: principles.  When it comes to physical phenomena (the existence of 
: demons is a good example) the "philosophers" were Aristotelians and the 
: Kabbalists were neo-Platonists.  Both had a legitimate scientific theory 
: on their side (and today we would accept neither theory).

: When it comes to spiritual phenomena, however, I don't think I can come 
: up with a distinction that adequately differentiates the two groups...

I think my historical observation fits your thematic one very smoothly.

I think the big theological difference from which all the others emerge,
is that whlie both are capable of seeing existence as a causal chain
starting with G-d and ending with rocks and whatnot, the mequbal is
basing his life project on it, whereas the the scholasticist doesn't
relate to the process of creation in describing the tachlis.

Thus, the mequbal may speak of tiqun olam and raising nitzotzos, whereas
R' Saadia speaks of hakaras hatov to the Borei and the Rambam speaks of
knowing Him.

: >Scholasticism is only compatable with rationalism. You wouldn't see much
: >point in using philosophical tools to understand religion if you weren't
: >defining religion as something that is to be understood.

: See my remark above about the Ramak.  The kabbalists did think religion 
: could be understood, they just used a different conceptual framework.  

I didn't say that Qabbalah was only compatible with mysticism. Rather,
a scholast could only be a rationalist, and a mystic could only be a
mequbal (of those two choices), but one could be a rationalist mequbal.

: >I use the word "Scholasticism" rather than the word the rishonim did,
: >Philosophy, because the mequbalim also used philosophical terms: tzurah,
: >chomer, atzilus, etc... are all found in Aristotle and Plato as well.

: Where do Plato or Aristotle mention "atzilus"? Maybe there are some 
: parallels in Philo and Plotinus.

Plato mentions shadows of Ideals. But the Enneads are explicitly about
emanation. The Rambam takes it as a causal chain (Yesodei haTorah 2:5),
the mequbalim as the transition of the Or Ein Sof as it enters (and
becomes) lower olamos.

The mequbalim thereby give themselves a metaphysical mechanism and a
territory to travel. Each of which we distinctly think of as Qabbalah
-- from the sifrei haheichalos to the metaphysical causality of the
parent thread.

(Interestingly, once I had to articulate my position, it sounds
different than I thought it would.)

: >In contrast, the mystic's faith focuses on the incomprehensible. Religion
: >that is centered on G-d will have much that is simply beyond
: >understanding. Rather, the mystic aspires to experience and live religion,
: >and takes joy, not frustration, in the Divine Mystery.

: This is certainly the case for many Christian and Buddhist mystics.  Can 
: you cite any examples of Jewish mystics who fit this description?

Numerous chassidishe maiselakh including the am haaretz who asks HQBH to
weave his alef-beis into tefillos and the shepherd-boy playing his fluit.

To answer both this and your request for a source for my claim that:
: >In this sense of the term, Breslov is exceedingly mystical. They shun
: >philosophy. Thinking gets in the way of happiness and thus brings on
: >despair, which in turn is the road away from productivity in general and
: >avodas Hashem in particular. The philosophical study of G-d objectifies
: >Him; and thus interferes with emunah peshutah.

See, for example, the translation from Chayei Moharan at
> Higher Than Intellect
> Translated by Avraham Greenbaum
> Tzaddik: A Portrait of Rabbi Nachman
> (Breslov Research Institute), 150
> Chayei Moharan

> My friend R. Naftali and I came into the Rebbe shortly before Shavuot
> 5565 (1805). 
> The Rebbe was saying that explanations like these have no substance to
> them at all, not to speak of the explanations given in philosophical
> works, which certainly have nothing in them.[4] The reason why the
> Rebbe forbade us to read even the philosophical works that are
> unimpeachable on religious grounds is because they raise very
> difficult problems about the ways of God and go into them at length,
> but when they come to answer them, the explanations they give are very
> weak and easily pulled down. Anyone who studies these works and tries
> to answer the questions rationally can be led to atheism when he
> realizes later on that the explanation is completely inadequate, while
> the problem continues to trouble him.

> The Rebbe told us to rely only on faith. If someone finds he has
> questions about such matters he should know that it is impossible to
> give any explanations, because with our human minds it is impossible to
> comprehend the ways of God. All we have is faith: we must believe that
> everything is certainly correct and right, only with our minds it is
> impossible to understand God's ways. Even the few explanations brought
> in genuine kabbalistic works written by holy Tzaddikim with deep
> perception and genuine spiritual powers are unable to solve the problems
> completely. Clearly the answers hang in the air and we have only faith
> to rely on.[5]

> This applies to all similar questions, such as the problem about how man
> can have free will if God knows what he is going to do ...

: >But for a rationalist who already found a basis for accepting the reality
: >of a G-d who can defy nature if He so chooses, maximalism is no less
: >rationalist than minimalism. Both are fully explanable from the same
: >first principles. It is no longer an issue of explanatory framework
: >or which issues bother me, but of whether I believe G-d minimizes His
: >interferance in the natural order.

: This is a nice distinction.  When did maximalism begin.  Can you, for 
: example, name a rishon who was a maximalist?

I can't. I think maximalism is a counter-reformational development, and
therefore 19th century. This is the reason why we collected rishonim
who supported the allegorization of midrashim, which is a necessary
component of minimalism. Maximalism is a modern invention.

To rephrase what I said in my earlier post using the distinction I'm
trying out in this one... People can confuse maximalism with Qabbalah
because Qabbalah has many more claims, being as it discusses life and
human action in light of the "space" between Hashem and the beri'ah.
However, they are distinct topics.

Similarly, people can confusion Qabbalah with mysticism because a
Scholasticist can't be a mystic. But those too are also distinct topics.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 13:17:14 -0400
Re: [Avodah] D'rabanan vs. D'oraita

On Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 03:52:49PM -0400, Glasner, David wrote:
: The point of sakanta hamira is that if you eat poison it may kill you
: because the damage done has an immediate effect. The damage associated
: with issur does not happen immediately but only over time as a result
: of repeated, independent, actions. So there is no danger with allowing
: a person to eat issur that was nullified halakhically in a rov, but the
: physical danger of eating poison is not nullified by rov and therefore
: eating it remains halakhically prohibited despite the rov. Presumably
: any non-physical sakana does not have an immediate catastrophic effect,
: so rov can nullify it. If you can specify a case where the non-physical
: sakana could have an immediate catastrophic effect, then I would assume
: that it is not halakhically nullified by the rov.

To rephrase my fundamental dilemma in a new (?) way. There are three
potential causal connections between halakhah and metaphysical effects
(and not all such connections need to be of the same sort):

1- The chiyuv / issur causes metaphysical effects. Eg: Eating cheilev is
metamteim es haleiv because that's the onesh for violating the issur.
In a case where one eats cheilev beheteir, there is no chait, and thus
no onesh and no timtum.

2- The metaphysical benefit is the reason for the chiyuv / or damage
is the reason for the issur. Halakhah is then like Manufacturer's
Instructions for the Jewish Soul -- someone who doesn't follow the
instructions gets inferior results. HQBH told us not to eat cheilev
because cheilev is spiritually harmful.

Here the D4's sevara helps. The cause of the issur requires an intensity
and long range exposure to cheilev that one wouldn't find by only eating
mi'ut. IOW, a causal connection more akin to smoking and lung cancer
than to touching a stove and getting burned.

I also noticed that in a Hirschian symbolism system, both #1 and #2
are true. The mitzvah is a symbol which communicates a truth. The
metaphysical effect is the inculcation of that truth, and thus caused
by the mitzvah. But also, the truth is what motivates the mitzvah.

Also, since HQBH kevayachol decided on both effect and mitzvah "at once",
in a lemaalah min hazeman way, the difference between these two models
are simply how we choose to model it. Interlocking causality is perfectly
viable. It was all one big creation with one unified reasoning.

But my original dilemma was really more about understanding those who
hold #3 (below) than the D4's enhancements to #2. Understanding #2
better is of help in my own derekh, but that important issue wasn't
where I was looking.

3- Common cause. Something about cheilev is inherently metamteim, and
Hashem happened to also prohibit it. In which case, it's possible to
have things that are metaphysically advantageous or harmful for which
there is no corresponding din.

What I thought was a single opening question / recurring whine is actually
two issues:

A- What would be the meaning of #3? Why would HQBH have people aided or
harmed in ways that aren't part of the usual "nature must be amenable
to some predictability is we are to capable of deciding how to act"
nor part of the moral plane of sechar va'onesh? How does it fit in a
world created by the Shofeit kol ha'aretz?

B- Why would the world as created by the Av haRachamim conform to #3
and not #2? Why wouldn't He include specific instructions about how to
navigate these waters?

Let's take my usual example, and see how the above plays out:

1- Mezuzos don't protect the home, what chazal describe is the protection
gained from mitzvas mezuzah. Someone who checked their mezuzah as required
who happened to kelapei shemaya galya has a pasul mezuzah gets the same
shemirah as someone who happens to have a kosher mezuzah. And there is
no shemirah gained for someone who despite his total nonawareness, just
happens to have a kosher scroll inside his doorframe built in there by
previous owners.

2- Hashem knew that He set up a world such that mezuzos have protective
power, and therefore told the Jewish people to hang them.

Now, what would the D4 say to this? The person could not have a kosher
mezuzah for years. This is unlike kashrus, where the effect of safeiq is
watered down by repetition (the Law of Large Numbers, or as we'd say in
the office, by the "portfolio effect" -- in the aggregate a trader only
needs to be right 51% of the time).

Here, my personal inclinations, FWIW, tend to shift from #2 (effect
motivated the tzivui) to #1 (non/compliance causes effect). I can't see
why HQBH would create a universe in which a scroll has inherent power.
My question A becomes pressing here too. When it comes to issurim,
saying that in some way I can't understand, there is a danger to my
soul that HQBH needed to write into souls and therefore He tells us to
avoid. When it comes to chiyuvim, I have a harder time accepting the
parallel notion. Observing my own inclination, I don't really have a
good explanation for it.

3- Common cause -- mezuzos protect in a distinct way from how the mitzvas
mezuzah protects. This in turn implies qemei'os can work without there
being a mitzvah qemei'ah (#1), or a Desire on Hashem's part to recommend
writing it (#2).

I'm having difficulties with this last stance, not even in terms of
accepting it as part of my derekh, but in understanding it as /a/
derekh. And on that I still need help.

OTOH, returning back to the topic in the subject line... Can a mitzvah
derabbanon have metaphysical impact:

1- Yes, since the impact is a sechar va'onesh thing. Once lo sasur
applies, there will be sechar.

2- Only if they are implementations of Torah ideas to fit post-Torah
events. Eg pirsumei nisah actions of Purim or Chanukah. The details
of tefillah. But otherwise, if there were a motivating metaphysical
impact, HQBH would have made the din Himself. Dinim derabbanan are
therefore primarily logistical advice - gezeiros to protect accidental
violation, takanos to protect us from making bad decisions.

3- How can you even ask about mitzvos having metaphysical impact?
Sechar and impact two different topics!

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
micha@aishdas.org        but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
http://www.aishdas.org   but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpilei Tohar

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Message: 8
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 13:01:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Kabbalah vs Scholasticism

Micha Berger wrote:
> R David Riceman replied to me:
>> Micha Berger wrote:

>>> In contrast, the mystic's faith focuses on the incomprehensible.
>>> Religion that is centered on G-d will have much that is simply
>>> beyond understanding. Rather, the mystic aspires to experience and
>>> live religion, and takes joy, not frustration, in the Divine Mystery.
>> This is certainly the case for many Christian and Buddhist mystics.  Can 
>> you cite any examples of Jewish mystics who fit this description?

> Numerous chassidishe maiselakh including the am haaretz who asks HQBH to
> weave his alef-beis into tefillos and the shepherd-boy playing his fluit.

Where do you see mysticism in these stories?

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: 9
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 13:35:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Kabbalah vs Scholasticism

On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 01:01:55PM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
: >>>In contrast, the mystic's faith focuses on the incomprehensible.
:>Numerous chassidishe maiselakh including the am haaretz who asks HQBH to
:>weave his alef-beis into tefillos and the shepherd-boy playing his fluit.

: Where do you see mysticism in these stories?

They clearly laud the uncromprehended faith, and are used to teach even
those who have more comprehension that the value is in the emunah peshutah
in something incomprehensible. (I left my translation in the quoted text
to highlight the correspondence.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Here is the test to find whether your mission
micha@aishdas.org        on Earth is finished:
http://www.aishdas.org   if you're alive, it isn't.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Richard Bach

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Message: 10
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 12:28:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Korach Tzaddik Katamar Yifrach

Cantor Wolberg wrote:
> There are eleven Tehillim which have in its first verse a recognition of 
> the "livnei Korach."

What has this to do with the rest of the piece?  Korach's sons lived
because they rejected him and his teachings, and their descendants who
wrote these tehillot don't seem to have been any sort of rebels, whether
for good or bad.

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                                                  - Clarence Thomas


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