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Volume 25: Number 326

Mon, 15 Sep 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 00:01:48 GMT
Re: [Avodah] HaShem as God's Name

R' Moshe Y. Gluck wrote:
> 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.

I was hoping someone would mention this.

I have very clear memories of a gemara in which an amora (or maybe a tanna)
was quoted as saying "Elo-him!" in a context which I was unable to tranlate
in any manner other than as a meaningless exclamation. The gemara spelled
that name with the usual five letters, and no fancy abbreviation marks.
I've mean meaning to ask about it for many years, but unfortunately I've
forgotten where it appeared. Does this ring a bell in anyone's memory?
Anyone know where it appears?

Akiva Miller

Click for online loan, fast & no lender fee, approval today

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Message: 2
From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 22:56:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Geirut

> 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.
you distinugish between issues of improper motivation and issues of  
QOM.  My understanding - that again, I think is simple pshat and that  
of most mefarshim - that the issue of QOM is not merely being willing  
to do the actions as part of the communtiy - qabbalat mitzvot - but  
qabbalat ol mitzvot - one would like lecatchilla  a ger not only  
commited to orthopraxy, but commited to mitzvot.

The problem of gere arayot and gere mordechai or being mitgayer for a  
cause is a problem with QOM - because even if, after the giyur, they  
perform the mitzvot, the motivation is wrong - and, lacking proper  
motivation, one's performance can easily lag, because there isn't  
real QOm, merely qabbalt or arayot or qabbalat ol mordechai or ahavat  
davar  - and they can easily backslide.   It is clear that the  
midrashic literature treats gere arayot in this sense.  Therefore,  
the problem with all the improper motivation is precisely the idea  
that their commitment to QOM is not complete but rather faulty - but  
still, even though the bet din may reject them, once converted - they  
are gerim, in spite of improper QOM.

Now, we can never be certain about motivations - so QOM for a bet din  
ends up being a technical issue of public declaration as well as  
assessment - but the issue of faulty motivation is an issue of faulty  

> ...
> : 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.

Yes, as you understand - there are two things - geirut and then QOM -  
and the word order is clear that the QOM is after the geirut - so  
geirut in and of itself does not require QOM - that seems clear in my  
reading, as well as in your reading.

You would like QOM to be pre geirut as a condition - but that is not  
the rambam's order - so QOM is something, as you acknowledge,  
separate from geirut - and can occur after geirut.  This would seem  
to end the discussion - as you recognize that geirut lechud and QOM  

The question then seems about what QOM actually does - and as you are  
committed to QOM being part of geirut, you argue that it is required  
for shem yisrael - although then the quesiton is what is geirut?

I think that this is a misunderstanding of the rambam and the role of  
QOM.  The rambam doesn't say that after QOM he is a yisrael - but  
rather, that after QOM, he is yisrael lechol davar..... (I wold argue  
that after geirut he is yisrael...)

There are two basic models of gerut:

1) Geirut is about becoming part of the faith community - and  
therefore QOM is an intrinsic part of the process.

2) Geirut is about becoming part of am yisrael and getting shem  
yisrael.  Once one is yisrael, one is automatically hayav in all the  
mitzvot - so once one is mitgayer, QOM is required to become a Jew in  
good standing - rather than a yisrael mumar....  The hiyuv in the  
mitzvot isn't part of the process - it is a consequence - and  
therefore QOM can occur after the process is complete - because it  
determines whether the ger (who is now yisrael) is willing to accept  
the obligations that are now imposed on him.

The Rambam makes complete sense according to the second model - there  
is the process of geirut - and then, to be fully recognized as a  
member in good standing - there is QOM - otherwise one is possibly a  
yisrael mumar (perhaps ledavar echad, perhaps lechol hatora kula -  
but a yisrael who does not accept the mitzvot has that status...- and  
one would not want lecatchilla to accept such a yisrael.  WIthout  
public QOM - one does not know - and therefore chosheshin lo

According to your model, you end up with a problem in the word order  
in the rambam - QOM should have been prior to geirut - and  
contradictions between 13:13 and 13:14.  By my model - everything is  
a coherent whole - the word order is precise, there is no contradiction.

RCL has cited the Bach as understanding the rambam as I do. My Bar  
Ilan is not working, and my source list that I wrote  is not  
available, but my recollection is that this understanding - that the  
rambam does not require QOM - is not just the bach, but is the  
standard one in most poskim (and,  IIRC. every major posek pre 19th  
century - even when they disagree with the rambam halacha lema'ase -  
and even most 19th century poskim understand the rambam in this  
fashion- eg, RS Kluger).

One can question whether one paskens like the rambam - but it is very  
difficult to read the rambam in any other way.

Meir Shinnar

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Message: 3
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 23:06:38 -0400
Re: [Avodah] HaShem as God's Name

> R' Moshe Y. Gluck wrote:
> > 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.

R' Akiva Miller: 
> I have very clear memories of a gemara in which an amora (or maybe a
> tanna) was quoted as saying "Elo-him!" in a context which I was unable to
> tranlate in any manner other than as a meaningless exclamation. The gemara
> spelled that name with the usual five letters, and no fancy abbreviation
> marks. I've mean meaning to ask about it for many years, but unfortunately
> I've forgotten where it appeared. Does this ring a bell in anyone's
> memory? Anyone know where it appears?

Comes up in a few places (simple computer search for "Ha'elohim Amar" and
"Amar Ha'elohim" will turn some up) but I am sure that you didn't see the
example on Bava Metziah 16b, because Rashi over there explains that it is a
Lashon of Shevuah. Like, "By God!" or "I swear to God!" These also should
be OK (though the person saying them should really be very, very sure that
they're swearing the truth). The "Shadai!" that I mentioned in my previous
post, I understood to be used in the context of performing some mighty act.
Like that would be the interjection used while trying to benchpress some
phenomenal amount. Not OK.


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Message: 4
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 00:10:55 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Heter Mechira

redirected from Areivim:   
>>Wholesale Chametz selling  to the non-Jew is completely different  than the
HM, in an elementary  way. If the gentile would follow through on the
purchase from Osem and  Elite, buying out their stock, they would be
overjoyed. If the Arab  followed through on the purchase of millions of
dunams of EY, there would  be war.<<


1) there's a machloket (Rambam  vs. the Geonim) if the  yovel
is included in the first shmitta or  not 

2) there's a machloket between Rashi and the Rambam on the date  
of the Churban  from which date we count the shmitta 

So for  starters there's even a safek if the shmitta today is actually 
the correct  date. 

3) Rav Pessach Zvi Frank in the HAR ZVI YD 123 ruled that there is  no 
problem of 
the prohibition of *lo techanem* [selling land in Israel to  gentiles] 
especially if they are Muslims. [According to the Kesef Mishneh  regarding 
living in Israel, today we *do* accept ger toshav]. 

4)  DAAT YACHID: first of all it's *not* a "daat yachid" [single solitary  
opinion] that shmitta today is not even d'rabbanan but a "midat chasidut".  
Those that rule this way include the RAZAH (the Baal HaMaor !), the Baal  
HaIttur [half of Yoreh Deah is based on his piskei halacha. Check the  
Beer Heitev and the BACH for sources], the Raavad in his Hassagot on the  
RIF in Gittin; the Meiri, the SMA (Meirat Einayim), and the Perisha.  
[The RAN calls them [above] "yesh chachamim"; the Rema talks about "yesh  
omrim"]. And one of those that considered shmitta today as not even  
d'rabban was the BEHAG (R. Shimon Kayara, 8th Cent. CE) who was *only*  
one of the early Geonim. 

The only reason why Shmitta today is  considered D'Rabbanan is a Ta'ut Sofer
in ONE (out of 4 manuscripts of a  Rambam with a word in the wrong order)

5) KINYAN L'NOCHRI: [having the  gentile take ownership of the property]: 
The Sefer haTeruma permits and thus  the kedusha of the land is removed. 
[See the sugya in Gittin 47 where in  Mitzvot d'rabbanan  there *is* kinyan 
l'nochri [Israel being in the  category of Syria]. The Sefer Hilchot Eretz 
Yisrael (attributed to the Baal  haTurim) specifically permits "kinyan 

6) LAND  REGISTRY [tabu]: look at what the Chazon Ish writes in Hilchot 
Maasrot  (Siman 10) ! [selling land to gentiles in Israel is *tofes* 
[valid] even if  the transaction was NOT registered in the land's registry] 
And for the past  21years, the heter mechira of the rabbanut does include 
an indication  "He'arat azhara" in the Land Registry.  
Since many  Acharonim hold that corporations have a special halachic
status, [
A corporate entity (vs. single person) even if partly


by Jews may have a different law (see:  Shaagat Aryeh 89-90;


Lecha Shlomo 238)] 
my suggestion would be that instead of the Rabbanut selling to
an Arab  (one person), they sell or LEASE the agricultural land to a foreign 
owned  corporation.
The sale would be bona fide, legally valid, and avoid the  problem of LO 
TECHANEM. [They would
actually be able to float "junk bonds" or  "penny stocks" to pay for the full 

Isn't it impressive how many halachic sources I can  quote?  And isn't it 
amazing that I've turned around and endorsed the heter  mechira after being 
dubious about it in the past?
Actually, of course, I didn't write the above post.  It was written by  an 
Areivim lurker.  I am merely acting as his amanuensis.

--Toby  Katz

**************Psssst...Have you heard the news? There's a new fashion blog, 
plus the latest fall trends and hair styles at StyleList.com.      
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Message: 5
From: "David Cohen" <bdcohen613@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 12:19:05 -0400
[Avodah] Reciting l'Dovid Hashem Ori

RMB wrote:

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

Me: I am considering the chumra which may have started as a personal
stringency, but morphs into normative practice, so that a lenient deviation
is now considered a kulah from the "normative psak".
"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."

Me: And therein lies the rub, because once it becomes the practice of
everyone in  a particular group, all others are either forced to accept or
be labeled as meikilim.

"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
: 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!

Me: I am taking the "Rupture and Reconstruction" idea further, and saying
that the loss of Torat Imecha works in only one direction, chumra. But
lenient sources are ignored and Torat Imecha reigns supreme, because
obviously the Gedolim know and rejected the lenient sources sub silentio. As
I said, sounds result oriented.

Shabbat shalom

David I. Cohen
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Message: 6
From: "Ilana Sober Elzufon" <ilanasober@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2008 09:49:51 +0300
[Avodah] rape

All of the following is IIRC. Sorry - did not have time to look up.

1) The Torah often does not prescribe criminal penalties in bein adam
l'chaveiro, except for very extreme cases (murder, kidnapping) that warrant
the death penalty. The Torah does specify civil penalties (restitution) in
such situations.

The same is true for theft - the penalty is paying back double. That means
that if the thief can avoid being caught most of the time, he will do just
fine. When he does occasionally get caught, he pays the kefel - that's just
the price of doing business.

This does not mean that the perpetrator shouldn't be punished, perhaps
severely, by the government. Thus, the government can put the thief in jail.
But setting punishments, and defining specific criteria for imposing them,
is very dependent on the specific society. This is an area of law that is
entrusted by the Torah to the melech and should be applied appropriately in
each era.

The above I learned from my first husband, Moshe Sober z"l; I think mainly
based on Drashot HaRan.

From what I have heard, the way rape laws are enforced by the secular gov't
nowadays is not a 100% perfect model. The victim can be subject to really
humiliating questioning in order to create a reasonable doubt. And the main
goal is to send the perpetrator to prison - which does not always happen,
because the defense can open up the possibility that it didn't really happen
or, if it did, was consensual. I don't know if the question of restitution
of some kind gets addressed at all.

2) The girl and her father have the OPTION of forcing the perpetrator to
marry her. They don't have to. In some cases, it is to the girl's benefit
(especially in pre-modern societies); in others not. Someone - I forgot who
- explains that this is a deterrent measure. Upperclass young men might be
tempted take advantage of poorer girls - but will be more likely to think
twice if they know that they may be creating a situation they will be stuck
with for life.

- Ilana
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Message: 7
From: "Ira Tick" <itick1986@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2008 07:41:07 -0500
Re: [Avodah] More Philosophy, If Anyone's Up to It

I'm beginning to see what you mean in your understanding of holiness
and religious commitment, especially since I see that you seem to
understand my questions and the dichotomy I made between metaphysics
and psychology, between objective and subjective definitions of
religious truths.  I really appreciate the time you put into
responding to my posts and for the suggestions for further study.  You
should know that I learned a Maharal on Pirkei Avos (about the three
things on which the world stands) that fits well with your quote from
RSS (Rabbenu Yonah's piece on the three things is also similar).

Regarding RSG, I think that your reference fits well with what I said
about the difficulty in understanding the unity of the soul and how
the Unity of G-d can be defined similarly to the unity of the soul --
i.e. that qualities of "Life," "Ability," and "Knowledge" are all
really one existence in the individual person, despite our inability
to describe or depict this.  We must simply live it and know it.  As
far as the validity and permissibility of this view, I have trouble
believing that by your definition of religious truth and commitment, a
more abstract or absolutely simple definition of G-d's unity is
necessary.  It's only necessary that G-d be personal, indivisible, and
individual, like a human being, only with a very different
relationship to the world than human beings.

I still agree with my frustration with the medieval philosophers for
their ontological, rather than moral or religious, discussions and
depictions of G-d.  I continue to believe that many new and foreign
ideas crept into their thinking and colored the way they approached
religious and philosophical questions.  I also continue to believe
that in their encounter with resurrected Greek philosophy, these
Jewish philosophers developed their responses in a way that included a
concern for pagan and Christian heresies, because of the historically
cumulative nature of Jewish Polemics (this is especially easy to see
nowadays, when people ask questions and offer arguments that are
strung together from a thousand different assumptions and approaches
that were never meant to be taken together --  kind of like learning
certain Acharonim on Shas  :)   ).  But you are correct that many of
their concerns were in refuting challenges to Torah presented by Greek

As far as Christian nations and Kabbalah, one must keep in mind that
Kabbalah as we know it today began in the Arab countries as a backlash
against philosophy after the Expulsion from Spain and only later
migrated from Israel and Italy into Eastern Europe (I guess the
Maharal would be a strong exception to this).  Interestingly, much of
kabbalah shares elements with the Greek philosophic tradition (think
Neo-platonism, Pantheism, etc) and at the same time Oriental
mysticism.  It is true, of course, that Ashkenazim were exposed to
European pagan mythology and Christian mythology--demons, devils,
ghosts, etc--in a way that the Sephardi philosophers often balked at.
(BTW, we know that much of the discussion of mysticism in the Talmud
comes from Persian and Zoroastrian mythology; Lilith for example, who
has a large role in Kabbalah, comes from ancient Persian demonology).

I must also point out that in your translation of RSS, he mentions
that "His Holiness is greater than ours," seemingly in an objective,
qualitative fashion that does not easily conform to the explanation of
holiness as commitment...

I don't even want to get into the problems with the postulate that G-d
must be benevolent because "nothing can be added or subtracted from
Him."  But for starters:  Certainly, G-d's knowledge and desire could
be for malevolence, G-d forbid, or for any random goal imaginable,
without having to change with human action.  Certainly, G-d could
demonstrate His benevolence even if we viewed His knowledge, activity,
satisfaction or experience as constantly changing according to man's
deeds.  Certainly, a truly workable definition of G-d's Unity need not
have to be at odds these kinds of changes, as I have explained before,
because change in the experiential self is not "addition or
subtraction" of divisible pieces or parts, nor is it tantamount to the
division of Divinity into multiple entities.

(A similar problem is the argument for benevolence from omnipotence,
which is totally fallacious, because G-d's lack of needs does not fit
any better with benevolence than it does with malevolence; it's just
that in our experience, the self-dependent are less likely to exploit
others, but even this is not always true...  In fact, the
philosophers' obsession with an absolute definition of omnipotence is
also foolish, because that kind of uncompromising position creates
unnecessary paradox, is itself unnecessary for a relationship with
G-d, and is blatantly false given the fact that Torah itself tells us
that evil is a necessary but undesirable means towards an end -- as
much as we know that adversity and pain are "good for us" we only
believe so because of the benefits that they bring, not because we
think of them as independently desirable.   G-d does not desire evil,
but He allows it and uses it to reach His goals.  Sounds like G-d has
to put up with that as an unavoidable limitation...)

Always good to hear from you,


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Message: 8
From: Ben Waxman <ben1456@zahav.net.il>
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 12:24:31 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Y'fas To'ar

Well we could it explain it by saying that Jewish soldiers throughout the 
ages were racists. But given that that particular paper was probably the 
biggest waste of trees every committed, then maybe not.

However, if I could point something about this situation - this captive 
woman is converted. She is converting to get married? Because she has no 
choice in the matter? Because she came to see that Torah is it? Or because 
the Torah itself is willing to go to extremes to preserve the Jewish family?

> The common thread of most responses regarding my being bothered by the
> laws of the y'fas to'ar is that it is beyond the soldier's control.
> So my question is:  Are you all saying that every soldier will be
> unable to control himself?  And how do you explain the soldiers who DO
> control their yetzer hara, assuming you believe there are some who can 
> control their yetzer hara?


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