Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 325

Thu, 11 Sep 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 06:54:06 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Chumros

On Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 9:44 AM, Moshe Y. Gluck wrote:

> R' MB (on Areivim):
>> I think chumrot are great -- if people would retain the line between
>> baseline halakhah and chumrah, so that they could know when they're
>> being machmir on someone else's cheshbon....

>[RMYB:]  I agree with you in principle, but in practice, don't Chumros and Minhagim
> often have a Din Neder? So, yes, someone might be acting inflexibly, but
> only because he doesn't have a Chacham right there to be Shoel his Neder...

What is really missing then is that people should be TAUGHT that they may not be machmir on someone else's chesbon.


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Message: 2
From: "Chana Luntz" <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 15:12:50 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Geirut

RTK writes:

> My understanding of the case of the fellow who came to Hillel 
> and said he wanted to convert on condition he could be Kohen 
> Gadol was that Hillel accepted him /as a candidate/ for 
> conversion, as a student, on the assumption that after he 
> taught him Torah, the fellow would then realize on his own 
> that his demand was ridiculous (but would still want to go 
> ahead and convert).

Let's take step back, and discuss some general principles in terms of
learning gemora and then halacha.  The gemora is often cryptic. Even if
it does not appear to be so on the face of it, it can often be read and
understood in a multitude of ways.  When one is learning gemora for the
sake of it, there are a vast range of commentors that one can consult,
with different approaches and insights.

However, when one is looking at a halacha l'ma'se question, the range of
commentators whose views carry weight is often more limited (assuming
that they comment on the situation - if they don't you may need to look
further afield to find somebody who does).  As is well known, the
Shulchan Aruch looked primarily to three commentators, assuming they
commented, being the Rambam, the Rif and the Rosh, and in general
poskened like the majority of them.  As is also well known, that makes
two Sephardim (the Rambam and the Rif) versus one Ashkenazi (the Rosh).
Hence the Rema is more likely to disagree with the Shulchan Aruch and
posken like the Rosh, especially if some of the other Ashkenazi greats,
such as Tosphos or Rashi also held similarly.  And of course in general
the Sephardim posken like the Shulchan Aruch and the Ashkenazim like the

However these rules are hardly universal. There are numbers of cases
where the psak is not according to the rules (classic case: channukah
candles and who lights, where the Ashkenazim posken like the Rambam and
the Sephardim posken like Tosphos).

However, what can be seen from all of this is that what is important in
terms of halacha l'ma'ase when reading a gemora are the views of certain
key commentators - even if one might, on a pshat level, find the
explanation of some other commentators more satisfying or in tune with
what one believes.

So, let us get back to our case.  Where the gemora on Shabbas 31a says
"guyreyha" (gimel, yud, yud resh yud hey), does that means that Hillel
"converted him" or "accepted him as a candidate for conversion".  Or
alternatively, if you find it too hard to say that this word can be
understood to simply mean "accepted him as a candidate for conversion"
do you say that what appears to happen in the story *after* that
critical word (ie the section that begins "amar lo" - Hillel said to
him) which comes right after this critical word actually happened before
- so that in fact the story is not being told in chronological order.

Now the most straightforward reading, as you can see from this, is to
say that the word means that Hillel converted him, and that the
subsequent conversations and learning that is then documented happened
in the chronological order described, ie after he was a convert.

However, as has been pointed out, this would seem to lead to a
contradiction with the halacha that appears to be prescribed in the
gemora in Bechoros 30b.  So it is not that surprising that some
commentators (I gather the Maharsha, although I haven't seen it inside)
do not learn the gemora in the more straightforward manner, but in the
manner that you bring above. And given the cryptic and shorthand nature
of the gemora, such a reading is not that difficult in comparison to
many others that are employed throughout Shas.  And of course the
advantage to this way of learning is that it appears to resolve the
apparent contradiction between this gemora and Bechoros 30b.

However, the Maharsha, while commonly learnt for the aggadaic part of
gemora, is, not generally regarded as one of the heavyweights in the
halachic process.  So for a question of halacha l'ma'ase, which of
course conversion is, one would much rather want to know what those
commentators say.  Do they learn it in the manner that would seem most
straightforward, or do they not?

Now for Tosphos and Rashi we seem to have an answer, because both of
these comment in relation to this daf that Hillel acted despite the
statement in Bechoros 30b, ie they see there being a contradiction.

The Rambam does not comment directly, but by implication he does,
because he does not bring Bechoros 30b in his code.  If the Rambam does
not bring a statement of halacha in his code, that means he does not
hold by it (although of course, that does not necessarily tell you what
he does hold).  And if you do not hold like Bechoros 30b, then what
reason do you have to move away from what would seem to be the most
straightforward reading of the gemora?

Note also that in this particular case, the views of Tosphos would seem
to carry more weight even than the norm, because it would seem that the
Shulchan Aruch, contrary to his general rule, poskens like Tosphos and
the Rosh (the Rema notes this explicitly) regarding what is required
before a beis din of three, including KOM and not like the Rambam or the

> Anyway, I think the question of the halachic status of 
> somebody who was forced or compelled to convert to Judaism is 
> somewhat different from the question of somebody who comes to 
> a bais din for conversion on a purely voluntary basis

I agree that it does.  Again, this is dealt with explicitly in the codes
and on this the Shulchan Aruch in siman 268 si'if 12 quotes the language
of the Rambam that a beis din is required to try and understand whether
the person comes to convert because of money or high position or fear
[there is your coercion] or because he or she wants to marry a Jew or
Jewess - but then adds explicitly that if in fact the conversion takes
place in any of these cases "herei ze ger afilu node shebishvil davar hu
mitgayer..." and all of the other language of the Rambam that RMB and
RMS have been debating (ie what does chosheshinan mean).

This is of course is a different si'if in the Shulchan Aruch than the
one that specifically mentions KOM (268:3 versus 268:12). 

Note again while we are discussing halachic understanding versus pure
learning, the same thing can be said about this debate between RMB and
RMS.  In terms of learning the Rambam, it is a very interesting debate
as to what the Rambam actually meant.  But in terms of halacha l'ma'ase
questions, the opinion of the Bach carries a lot more weight that the
opinion of our own RMB, and it is hard to criticize somebody for relying
on the Bach's understanding of the Rambam, - while going against the
Bach would seem to need somebody of some significant weight (query
whether anybody alive today could be considered to have the necessary
authority to come out against the Bach - perhaps, but they would
probably prefer to have somebody regarded as more comparable to rely

> --Toby Katz
> =============



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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 15:27:24 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Geirut

On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 03:12:50PM +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
: RTK writes:
: > My understanding of the case of the fellow who came to Hillel 
: > and said he wanted to convert on condition he could be Kohen 
: > Gadol was that Hillel accepted him /as a candidate/ for 
: > conversion...

: So, let us get back to our case.  Where the gemora on Shabbas 31a says
: "guyreyha" (gimel, yud, yud resh yud hey), does that means that Hillel
: "converted him" or "accepted him as a candidate for conversion"...

RnTK's understanding is that of the Maharsha. He takes it for granted
that the gemara couldn't have meant he converted without QOM first.

This doesn't touch on my disagreement with RMS about whether QOM is
a requirement, or a desiratum lechat-khilah on who beis din ought to
consider as a candidate. Because the implication of the gemara in Shabbos
is that Hillel would have violated either understanding.

: The Rambam does not comment directly, but by implication he does,
: because he does not bring Bechoros 30b in his code...

He actually state the halakhah /more/ strongly than the gemara does. In
the gemara, one might explain "sheba leqabel divrei Torah" as RMS does,
that it's only about who BD should accept as a candidate. Thereby
implying that bedi'eved, geirus without QOM would be chal.

However, according to the Rambam (IB 12:17), it is only "kesheyisgayru
veyiqablu aleihen kol hamitzvos shel Torah" who are "keYisrael lekhol

It is on this point that my entire understanding of the Rambam diverges
from RSM's, and I therefore can't see how he can explain pereq 13 as
he does. Mind you, my explanation is also left with open questions,
but at least it fits this statement that QOM is necessary for having
the din of a Yisrael.

: I agree that it does.  Again, this is dealt with explicitly in the codes
: and on this the Shulchan Aruch in siman 268 si'if 12 quotes the language
: of the Rambam that a beis din is required to try and understand whether
: the person comes to convert because of money or high position or fear

That's a different topic. One can be improperly motivated but still
accept all the mitzvos, or be motivated by wanting to do what G-d said
at Sinai but not believe that mandates keeping the mitzvos.

On Tue, Sep 09, 2008 at 09:17:32AM -0400, Meir Shinnar wrote:
: The question is someone who is megayer without QOM - and the simple
: pshat in the gmara about the machloket about whether gere arayot and
: gere mordechai are gerim is that we wouldn't have accepted them
: lecatchila - but once they underwent gerut they become gerim - but
: because they lacked real QOM, they remained problematic.

: There is a shitta in the gmara that gere arayot are not considered
: gerim - but that is rejected halacha lema'ase by the gmara and
: poskim..

Again, QOM and geirei arayos are different questions. Who said they
weren't QOM. They could have agreed out of the wrong motivations to
do the mitzvos.

: This distinction - between lecatchilla accepting and what to do once
: being megayer - is explicit in the rambam 13:12

And explicitly denied in 12:17 (or 12:13, as you would put it).

If we could resolve this halakhah and what it says about pereq 12, all
the other pieces would fall into place.

: > I find the word order difficult. I would have assumed, given this
: > halakhah's placement in a discussion of pre-conversion (pereq 12),
: > that QOM is a precondition. But the wording in the halakhah itself
: > places it second.

: Precisely.  The rambam in 12:13 is a  "clear statement that the
: Rambam"  does not require  QOM as an intrinsic part of the gerut.
: (again, preconceptions) - QOM is part of becoming  a member in good
: standing of the community- rather than merely a member who is
: problematic...

Where is any of that in 12:13? He says that one needs two things, geirus
and QOM in order to have the full halakhah of a Jew. The fact that he
requires 2 things rather than subsuming QOM under the word "geirus"
doesn't change the Rambam's requiring QOM in order for the person to
have the din of a Yisrael.

(Personally, I think it's because, as the gemara writes, QOM is a
precondition to geirus, not part of geirus itself. Thus, the gemara
doesn't mean *only* lekhat-chilah should a BD look for QOM, but that it
must be first. This would explain why the Rambam places it in pereq 12,
who may be megayeir (between a discussion of avadim, shefachos and one
of accepting geirim who are Mitzriyim, Edomimim, Amonim, or Moavim),
rather than in 13 with geirus itself. But I'm just guessing.)

Where do you see anything about "joining the people" in that? Or that
it's not just as necessary as if it were intrinsically part of geirus?

: This is clearly related to the chosheshin lo - the notion that once
: one is mitgayer, if one didn't have QOM or there is a perceived
: problem in the motivation...

And again, the topic switched to motivaiton, which I agree could well be
only lekhat-chilah.

:> But in any case, his speaking of "kol hamitzvos shel Torah" is similar
:> to the gemara's excluding the convert "haba leqabeil divrei Torah chutz
:> midavar echad" (Bekhoros 30b). The question remains why he shifts out
:> of the gemara's negative statement of the din. And why "mitzvos" rather
:> than "davar"? But it's pretty close, regardless of subtle differences
:> in implication.

: It is actually talking about completely  different issues - the gmara
: is talking about the bet din's decison whether to accept the candidate
: - the rambam is talking about relationship to the individual after
: gerut..

"Harei hein keYisrael lekhol davar" is about our relationship to the
individual? Where do you see such a limitation in "lekhol davar"? And
his source pasuq is "chuqah achas lakhem"!

The only mention of marriage is contrasting geirim in general with one
from the four nations I mentioned above.

: again, as in previous go rounds, this is not a sustainable pshat -
: because the rambam works hard to make sure that we understand that
: this was not an error, and even if we think that there was an initial
: error - in the end, ( 13:14) ulefichach, kiyam shimshon ushlomo
: neshotehen, ve'af al pi shenigla sodan - explicit that even after it
: was known to everyone, including shimshon and shlomo,  the truth, so
: even if they might have been initially fooled, they now knew the
: truth, they could still keep their wives - and not be over on being
: bo'el a goya - because  they were still gerim...

13:13 and 13:14 (as Mechon Mamre number them) say conflicting things.
OT1H, "chashvan hakasuv ke'ilu heim goyos, ube'isuran omedin".
OTOH, "ulefikhakh qiyeim Shimshon uShelomo neshoseihen, ve'ad al pi
sheniflah sodan".

13:13 speaks of someone "shehokhiach sofan al techilasan".
13:14 says "chazar ve'avad AZ".

Do we assume they showed their true colors, and are goyos, or that they
are converts who returned to their own ways? 13:13 says the former, and
shows how Shelomo was accused of building bamos for getting to the point
where his wives would. 13:14 says the latter, and that's why he stayed

Both have wiggle room as not describing the actual din.. 13:13 speaks of
"ke'ilu". 13:14 speaks of what people did and were condemned for in 13:13.

(When looking at 13:13, I'm only looking at the QOM issue. Not that they
converted "bishvil davar" which lead to their lack of QOM.)

The question of which way to wiggle requires a kasuv hashelishi.

I think IB 12:13 is that kasuv hashelishi.

I also think there is no reason to understand the Rambam in a manner
that forces him to differ from convention.

: no - shehociach sofan means that we (and Shlomo and Shimshon after the
: beginning of the marriage) now are able to understand their true
: motives - and judge them as individuals - but as to legal status, hare
: hu keyisrael meshumad....

But hochiach sofan refers to how the pasuq judges them. Shimshon and
Shelomo's judgment isn't discussed until the end of next halakhah.

RnCL had much more to address, but as she refers to a wider sweep of
sources, I cn't do so without being nearer my bookcase.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Message: 4
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 09:38:17 -0400
Re: [Avodah] HaShem as God's Name

> > Because it could be Assur? Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 6:3 (yes, the same one
> I cited before, but earlier in the Se'if).

R' YG: 
> If it's prohibited, then so is the Yiddish form.  I know people who
> seem uncomfortable with the English, but not with the Yiddish.  Do you
> know people who won't use even the Yiddish?

IIRC, it is permitted in an appropriate, meaningful context. So to say,
"God bless you!" or "Gott tzu danken!" (and mean them) should be permitted,
while saying, "God Almighty!" or "Shadai!" (I heard that this is popular in
Israeli Chiloni circles?) should not. The Kitzur's formulation is "Shelo
L'hazkir Sh'mo Hagadol Ki Im B'derech Shvach U'berachah B'mah She'hu
M'chuyav O B'derech Limmud."


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Message: 5
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 09:42:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Chumros

> >[RMYG:]  I agree with you in principle, but in practice, don't Chumros
> and Minhagim
> > often have a Din Neder? So, yes, someone might be acting inflexibly, but
> > only because he doesn't have a Chacham right there to be Shoel his
> Neder...

R' Eliyahu Gerstl: 
> What is really missing then is that people should be TAUGHT that they may
> not be machmir on someone else's chesbon.

I'm not really following you - if I was Noder not to eat non-Cholov
Yisroel, and I come to your house and you're serving Carvel ice cream, and
you will be extremely insulted and put out if I don't eat, I still have an
Issur D'oraysa forbidding my eating.
Perhaps I misunderstood what you're saying?


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Message: 6
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 15:51:01 GMT
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] idf

R' Michael Kopinsky asked:
> Why was Galus Yavan considered galus and the days of Menashe
> not? ... but we still have the problem of towards the end of
> Bayis Sheni, when the Babylonians were essentially in power,
> even while we had the BHMK. We don't call that period galus,
> and instead we say that our current galus began with the
> Churban.
> I would like to see some kind of answer to these seeming
> contradictions.

Indeed, these contradictions are merely "seeming" contradictions.

I believe the problem is that we use the term "galus" far too generically, as if there is either "galus" or "not galus", and no other situations.

The truth is that there are at least two kinds of galus: When the Shechina
is in exile, and when *we* are in exile. These two types of galus do not
overlap exactly.

And there might be additional kinds of galus, each with its own
peculiarities, such as when we are physically present in Eretz Yisrael, and
at the same time the Shechina seems to be there as well (evidenced by the
miracles of a functioning Beis Hamikdash), yet the government is run by
foreigners. I'm not sure what sort of galus this is called, but I think the
situation was mentioned somewhere in this thread.

In short, I beleive that the question, "Does such-and-such a situation
count as galus?" is not a valid question. To be meaningful, one needs to
specific what sort of galus he is asking about.

Akiva Miller

Hotel pics, info and virtual tours.  Click here to book a hotel online.

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Message: 7
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 13:37:45 -0700
[Avodah] rape

And? Of course it's a civil matter, just as if he punched her in the
face.  If he harmed her he's still liable for the usual damages; in
addition, here he's liable for the extra damage he did to her shiduch

First a technical question: damage to shidduch prospects should be
grama and not be chayav

For substanstive it has bothered me for years that rape is a criminal
offense only if the girl is a naarah and the fine goes to the father or
else for a married woman and the husband is affected.

For a grown up (bogeret) single woman there are no criminal punishments.
The civil punishments depend on the amount of damage done. So if
the rapist was "gentle" the payments would be small or minimal. Even
boshet is very circumstance related. Perhaps if a famous movie star
raped a fan there is no boshet.

The only answer I saw was that Jewish law is not primarily punishment
oriented. Since rape is condemned that is enough. In fact rape in
marriage was not considered a crime in western society until quite
recently. There are numerous court rulings especially in England upholding
the husband's right to rape his wife. However, this was already condemned
in the Talmud as against halacha but again without any punishment

Eli Turkel

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Message: 8
From: "David Cohen" <bdcohen613@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 16:30:10 -0400
[Avodah] Reciting l'Dovid Hashem Ori

"The problem is when a young person says, "All those authorities who have
custom to say it are simply ignorant, as they are unaware of a  significant
piece of information that I have uncovered, namely, that this  custom is of
Sabbatean origin.  If they knew what I know, all Torah  authorities without
exception would discontinue the saying of l'Dovid  Hashem Ori during Elul.
I can't
follow those who do say it because  they simply speak out of ignorance."

It is this attitude which I fear may suggest or may lead in some cases to a
lessening of yiras Shamayim -- the subtle disparagement of Torah

--Toby  Katz"

Is it not ironic that when justifying a new chumra, passed generations of
Gedolim are by-passed to find original sources in the codes, showing that
the chumra is the proper deredch, but in finding a somewhat disreputable
source for a minhag, we must defer to those very same Gedolim whom we
ignored. In the former case, we justify the then prevalent lenient position
as a horaat shaah, but in the later case, cannot fathom that they may not
have had the information which has recently been uncovered.

It just sounds like a way to justify the results we want, rather than have a
consistent methodology.
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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 18:19:01 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Reciting l'Dovid Hashem Ori

On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 04:30:10PM -0400, David Cohen wrote:
: Is it not ironic that when justifying a new chumra, past generations of
: Gedolim are by-passed to find original sources in the codes, showing that
: the chumra is the proper deredch, but in finding a somewhat disreputable
: source for a minhag, we must defer to those very same Gedolim whom we
: ignored....

There are two kinds of new chumros: arte you talking about something
perople start doing knowing it's lifnim mishuras hadin, or a new
stringent pesaq?

In the former case, there is no reason to limit oneself to halachic
process, as long as one is sure not to apply the chumrah in cases where
he is being meiqil on something else.

In the latter case, the problem is quite real. It's non-trivial to say
that generations of ancestors were doing it wrong and we know better.

What usually happens is that something is taught as lifnim mishuras hadin,
but by the time the students -- or subsequent generations -- get to it,
they forget that bit.

: It just sounds like a way to justify the results we want, rather than have a
: consistent methodology.

Or, that giving significance to the evidence of minhag, or the
legislative weight of minhag, is part of that methodology. At per RRW
and my interminable debate.

I believe that's what is happening with saying "LeDavid".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org        And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 19:20:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] More Philosophy, If Anyone's Up to It

On Tue, Sep 09, 2008 at 07:08:59PM -0500, Ira Tick wrote:
: I'm sorry, I'm not an expert on Emunos V'Deos, but I read explicitly a
: translation in R J David Bleich's book "With Perfect Faith,"  wherein
: RSG discusses the problems of attributes and characteristics of G-d
: vis-a-vis His role as Creator, namely Life, Power (Ability ?), and
: Knowledge...

You're citing his discussion of Hashem's essence (beginning of 2:4).
See http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/mahshevt/kapah/2a-2.htm#4 The three are
Chai, Yakhol, and Chakham. He then (in 2:5) argues that the Xian trinity
comes from thinking these are separable.

I am prefacing that with a discussion of his theory of attributes (2:1, R
"Kapach"'s translation labels the subsection "Tekhunos haBorei beHigayon")

: Sometimes I think that Medieval Jewish Philosophers were so anxious to
: combat the blasphemies of Christianity and Paganism, that they reduced
: G-d to something He is not in the Talmud -- a completely paradoxical,
: unidentifiable, abstract idea that somehow correlates with the
: Personal G-d of Scripture...

It's unlikely, since Jewish Philosophy prospered in Moslem lands. In
Xian countries were were being more Qabbalah oriented. If the motivation
were as you say, the sefiros would have been less popular in Ashkenaz,
not more.

More probable is that the rise of Greek Philosophy among the Moslems
created new questions that the gewmara didn't have to address. They
didn't so much create new concepts of whole cloth, but recast them into
qanqanim chadashos.

I think that's true of us too... Our philosophy is significantly different
from that of the rishonim more because we're asking different questions
than because we have different postulates. Most of us today assume
universal hashgachah peratis not because we contradict the rishonim,
but because we live in an era where popular worldviews tends to share
the influences that brought Kant and the Existentialists to the fore.
They asked ontological questions, we're asking experiential ones.

: G-d to the soul of man, making Him more the sort of Soul of the
: Universe, Who's Will sustains and directs the spiritual and physical
: world which we inhabit. If man is holy, then G-d is Holy, in an
: absolute way that transcends us, just as His Will (and its effects)
: and His Machshavos transcend ours.  This is the G-d I believe in.

There is a causal relationship between G-d and the olamos that doesn't
exist for soul and body. Also, because of this, the body restricts the
soul -- free will does not include things the body can't physically
do. G-d, OTOH, is only restricting Himself, since He could have created
the universe otherwise.

:> I'm identifying the
:> higher metaphysical entities with emotion. You asked (roughly) whether
:> qedushah is a metaphysical state or an emotion. I'm answering with the
:> suggestion that they are the same thing. Human emotions are metaphysical
:> entities; the state called qedushah is a real and ontological entity.
:> It's also the feeling of qedushah.

:> This is how the tradition of the Gra and developed by the baalei mussar
:> asserts that repairing one's soul is the same thing as repairing one's
:> middos and desires.

:> Also, REED (MmE vol I pp 304-312) identifies the higher olamos with more
:> noble ways of perceiving reality. (I wrote about this at more length at
:> <http://www.aishdas.org/mesukim/5764/beshalach.pdf>.) Not quite the same
:> thing, but IMHO part of the same larger picture. The idea that these
:> metaphysical realities and psychological ones aren't quite distinct.

: I still like this part, but its novel to me that kedusha (forgive me,
: but the "q" thing drives me insane)  and the experience of kedusha
: would be one and the same.  I think I can get used to that idea,
: except that when I'm asleep, is my soul no longer holy?  Also, is it
: G-d's perception / feeling of kedusha (presumably associated with
: Himself, a sort of sense of self-worth) that makes Him Holy?  (I know
: you don't believe that G-d has perception or feeling, but humor me
: here, because frankly, your conception of G-d is close to meaningless
: for me, unless you're saying that G-d is just some Spirit of Holiness,
: without any other dimensions, including knowledge of His Creation,
: which would bother me.  And don't try to claim He has knowledge, but
: not experience, because precedent calls for both if any one is
: present, unless G-d has the instinct of a snail--which is greater
: blasphemy to me)

I recommend learning RSShkop's introduction to Shaarei Yosher. See
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/ShaareiYosher.pdf>, the Hebrew starts at the
end and works backward. It's not a theological peice as much as an
anthropological one. Here's what RSS says about qedushah (translation
> For everything He created and formed was according to His Will (may it
> be blessed), [that is] only to be good to the creations. So too His Will
> is that we walk in His ways. As it says "and you shall walk in His Ways"
> -- that we, the select of what He made -- should constantly hold as our
> purpose to sanctify our physical and spiritual powers for the good of
> the many, according to our abilities.

> In my opinion, this whole concept is included in Hashem's mitzvah
> "Be holy, [for I am Holy]." The Midrash (Leviticus, Emor, ch. 24) says
> about this verse: "Can it [truly] be 'Like Me?' This is why it continues,
> 'for I am Holy' to teach that My Sanctity is above yours." And about the
> foundation of this mitzvah of sanctity the Toras Kohanim has "'be holy'
> -- be separate". ...

> And so, it appears to my limited thought that this mitzvah includes
> the entire foundation and root of the purpose of our lives. All of
> our work and effort should constantly be sanctified to doing good for
> the community. We should not use any act, movement, or get benefit or
> enjoyment that doesn't have in it some element of helping another. And as
> understood, all holiness is being set apart for an honorable purpose --
> which is that a person straightens his path and strives constantly to
> make his lifestyle dedicated to the community. Then, anything he does
> even for himself, for the health of his body and soul he also associates
> to the mitzvah of being holy, for through this he can also do good for
> the masses. Through the good he does for himself he can do good for
> the many who rely on him. But if he derives benefit from some kind of
> permissible thing that isn't needed for the health of his body and soul,
> that benefit is in opposition to holiness. For in this he is benefiting
> himself (for that moment as it seems to him), but no one else.
> HOWEVER, what of a person who decides to submerge his nature, to reach
> a high level so that he has no thought or inclination in his soul for
> his own good, only a desire for the good of others? In this way he would
> have his desire reach the sanctity of the Creator, as His Desire in all
> of the creation and management of the world is only for the good of the
> created, and not for Himself at all. At first glance one might say
> that if a person reached this level, he would reach the epitome of
> being whole. But this is why our Sages of blessed memory teach
> us in this Midrash that it is not so. We cannot try to be
> similar to His Holiness in this respect. His Holiness is greater
> than ours. His Holiness is only for the created and not for Himself
> because nothing was ever added to or could ever be added to the Creator
> through the actions He did or does. Therefore all His Desire could only
> be to be good to the created.

> But what He wants from us is not like this. As Rabbi Aqiva taught us,
> "your life comes first." [Our sages] left us a hint of it when they
> interpret the scripture "Love your neighbor as yourself" in a negative
> sense, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your peers." In terms
> of obligation, it is fitting for a person to place his own good first.

Holiness is a commitment, not a mystical property.

: I myself believe that "higher olamos" are an enlightened sense of
: perception or experience, because I have trouble believing in realms
: of angels, etc.  However, I always believed that my emotional
: perception of people and G-d reflected something more about them than
: the fact that they too experience those emotions in association with
: me...

I reiterate my suggestion to study MmE vol I pp 304-312, which is
glaringly Kantian (ie not medieval).

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Mussar is like oil put in water,
micha@aishdas.org        eventually it will rise to the top.
http://www.aishdas.org                    - Rabbi Israel Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507


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