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Volume 25: Number 340

Wed, 24 Sep 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Ira Tick" <itick1...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 09:09:04 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Free Will vs. Physics

On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 9:20 PM, <T6...@aol.com> wrote:
> I heard a great quote this past weekend from a guest, don't know who said
> it, but here it is:  "We have to believe in free will.  We have no choice."
> *--Toby Katz
> ============*

Toby!  I told you, the quote is from Isaac B. Singer!

Ira Tick
6519 N Whipple
Chicago, IL 60645
(414) 699-8285

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Message: 2
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 15:50:05 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Geirut

Sorry, I have been busy and not had time to look up sources or write:

RMB writes: 
> On Tue, Sep 02, 2008 at 12:49:35PM +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
> : On the other hand, it is also Tosphos and those following 
> him who understand the whole story of Hillel and the convert who only 
> converted on condition he
> : could be kohel gadol as giving leeway to the beis din "l'fi 
> ra'os enei beis
> : din" - where we are dealing with a case where a mitzvah was 
> rejected...
> As opposed to the Maharsha?

It would seem so.

> And how does that fit the 
> position of Tosafos repeated in the SA (above)?

What it points to is that Tosphos understands KOM as being not equal to
Bechoros 30b - ie it opens up the meaning of KOM according to Tosphos -
remember at least one of the arguments on this topic is that while KOM is
required, it does not mean Bechoros 30b, but wanting to join the Jewish
people.  That view holds that KOM is defined by the statement in the gemora
Yevamos 47a quoted almost in its entirety [is there any significance to the
minor differences, or was it a girsa difference] in the Shulchan Aruch  in
Yoreh Deah siman 268 si'if 2 "when he comes to convert we say to him,  what
did you see that you come to convert?  Do you not know that Israel in this
time are afflicted, oppressed,  downtrodden and harassed [thanks Artscroll,
I was struggling with the translation of this little list] and issurim come
upon them and if he says I know, and I am not worthy they accept him
immediately and make known to him some of the mitzvos kalos and the mitsvos
chumros ..." The alternative argument to the one you are proposing, ie that
KOM means every last mitzvah as per Bechoros 30b, is that KOM means what is
set out in this passage - ie that the person wants to (in the language of
the Shulchan Aruch, but note not in the language of the gemora as we have
it) "l'chitchaver imahem".  A by-product of that is an obligation in

> The way I read the Tosafos is that beis din can choose how 
> much to teach the geir. The absence of acceptance could be 
> rejection, but also it could be ignorance. Like for kiruv, 
> where you don't necessarily teach or inforce the mitzvos that 
> are harder for the person to accept first. Things he would 
> reject if he knew now, but BD believes he would accept if he 
> knew more are simply not taught. It is up to their assessment 
> of the geir whether he would reach that point or not.

That is difficult in the case of the Hillel story - because it was not just
a case of the person being ignorant of the halacha, he specifically wanted
something that was assur - ie he came to Hillel and said the equivalent of -
I want to convert on condition that I can eat pork.  Even if he was ignorant
that pork is assur, and you decided that he was not ready to be told that,
still, to actually convert him while he was holding by this particular
tnai... You are suddenly a long long way from KOM the way you have been
arguing it.  If you can say that, well then you can certainly convert your
Russian ignoramus who thinks that what it means to be Jewish is what his/her
secular Israeli friends all do, if you think (hope) that eventually they may
come round. 

That is why one can well understand the Maharsha feeling the need to say
that it is all about agreeing to educate him prior to conversion - because
that means that at the actual time of conversion (ie at the mishpat) the KOM
was based on real knowledge of the reality of halacha, not some complete
fantasy that bears no relationship whatsoever to halacha.  But if you don't
say that, and say that this convert dunked in the mikvah completely under
the understanding that he could be a Jew and also be kohen gadol, then why
is it any different if a convert dunks in the mikvah completely on the
understanding that he can be a Jew and still violate Shabbat and eat treif. 

> : There are two possibilities in relation to this:
> ...
> : But secondly, even if you follow Tosphos and the Rosh - 
> they do *not* state
> : that KOM means acceptance of every single mitzvah.  On the 
> other hand, they
> : do not state that it doesn't.  The only evidence we have is a) their
> : treatment of this story regarding Hillel and b) the fact 
> that the Shulchan
> : Aruch does not bring Bekhoros 30b.  It is however not an 
> unreasonable
> : inference that it doesn't, given the sources.
> What about the fact that Tosafos don't need to farenfer 
> Berkhoros 30b? They simply let the gemara pass without a comment.

Tosphos does not work the way this comment would imply (ie making a comment
on every gemora on that gemora).  Rather they tend to comment elsewhere and
bring various gemoras together.  I don't think this amounts to much of a

This of course is different from Rashi (which of course they knew all of).

Rashi's main comments on Bechoros 30b is itself not found there but on
Shabbas 31a.  Note that this Rashi is on the earlier story of the potential
convert who came to Shammai and said convert me on condition that you teach
me only Torah Shebichtav, and Shammai sent him away and then he came before
Hillel and Hillel converted him.  Rashi's comment there on why Shammai sent
him away was because of what it teaches in Bechoros 30b that if one comes to
accept upon himself divrei torah chutz medevar echad aini mekablin oso.  He
then explains on "and he converted him"  - that this is not similar to
"chutz medevar echad shelo haya kofer be torah she baal peh ele shelo meamin
shehi mepi hagvura.  Ie Rashi clearly understands there to be a maklokus
regarding the meaning of Bechoros 30b between Hillel and Shammai - so that
following Hillel it is OK for somebody to be converted in a circumstance
where they do not believe that Torah she baal peh is from Hashem (and hence
presumably are not preparing themselves to keep torah she baal peh), so long
as they are not kofer in it.  From this we can see that he holds that the
conversion happened before the full acceptance of torah she baal peh, and
secondly given that he does not comment on the later story regarding the man
who agreed to convert only on condition that he was made cohen gadol, that
while presumably Shammai's rejection of him was triggered by the same logic,
he did not even need to comment on why Hillel was then able to accept him.

Tosphos takes up the discussion of what is necessary in terms of belief and
what a beis din should do and the case of Hillel and the converts not on
Bechoros 30b, not on Shabbas 31a, but over in Yevamos 24b - where they are
discussing the case of a) the Kusim, and b) people converting for ulterior
motives (such as to marry a particular person), and c) people converting in
the time of David and Shlomo.  In s'v  "halacha k'divrei haomer" - they make
it clear that according to them - a convert who claims to convert but
continues to worship idols is not a convert unless they later convert
properly.  Ie there is clearly something sufficiently fundamental that it
will invalidate a conversion.  However, in s'v "lo b'yamei David" they inter
alia discuss the case of Hillel and the convert who wanted to be cohen
gadol, and it seems pretty clear that according to them that conversion
occurred at the point where Hillel is merely having faith that ultimately it
will be leshem shamayim.  

> I can't find this Bach.

It is right towards the end of what is a very long long discussion - vechal
inyanav starts, in my edition towards the top of the previous page (in my
edition page 214a) but the relevant piece isn't until page 214b - and it
starts three lines above the next s'v "hamal".  It commences af al pi
d'katav harav Moshe bar Mamoni d'kasher  af al pi shelo haya l'shem kabalat
mitzvot kol ikar mihu hatosfot vharosh cholkin al zeh d'kabalat mitzvot
vadai meakev 

 But in any case, isn't "kol ikar" 
> more like "not entirely", but in some tafeil way, yes, as 
> opposed to leaving off any modifier to mean "not needed"? 
> When is it taken to mean "not at all"?

I think it is clear from the full sentence quoted here that the only way to
translate kol ikar here is not at all.  (I confess I think it would usually
be translated that way, but there are unquestionably greater experts on that
one than I am).

> Tosafos there leave it up to the BD to decide what to leave 
> the candidate in ignorance of. Just like in kiruv, you don't 
> start with the hardest mitzvos to swallow. And so, if the 
> person accepts what they know and BD assess him as being 
> later capable of accepting what they don't, the geirus is chal.
> Ignorance is a third ground between accept and reject.

Only sort of.  If I as a prospective Russian convert are kept in ignorance
of the importance of keeping shabbas and kashrus, based on that third ground
then according to this, their conversion would be valid.  If you think it is
really bad for klal yisroel having all these people living in Israel and
mingling with Jews and yet not being Jews, then you can convert them so long
as you keep them in ignorance.  Ie so long as you do not know for certain
that they are kofer in the full sense of the word.  That is a far far
reduced test to the one you were originally proposing.

Also given the position that most secular Jews today can be considered to be
tinok shenishbu - ie ignorant, despite being exposed to frum people in
Israel and elsewhere, then surely one must say the same thing about all
these converts - ie whatever it is you teach them, if the society they are
in can be considered ignorant, then surely they can too. In which case again
their conversion would be valid.

> Also, Tosafos isn't the only way to understand the gemara. 
> The Maharsha takes QOM so for granted, he assumes that the 
> person was taught enough to clear up their objection BEFORE geirus.

Yes, but if we have a Maharsha's understanding of a gemora and one from
Tosphos, or Rambam or Rif etc, who do we follow l'halacha?

> : Start from the other end.  A shavuah is X. If KOM fulfils 
> the requirements
> : of X, then how can you say KOM is *not* a shavuah?  If it 
> walks like a duck
> : and quacks like a duck?  That is what is odd about it.
> This threw me. I thought we were looking for a category in 
> order to make a determination about what QOM requires. IOW, 
> we are less sure as to whether it quacks than whether QOM is a duck.
Well both.  There are two separate issues here. And part of the problem I am
having is that you have something in halacha called a shavuah.  And it has
certain characteristics.  And the way KOM is being described from the one
perspective, it seems to fully fit the description of a shavuah.  But you
are saying it is not a shavuah, because if it were, it would have different
consequences than it is being assigned.  What I am saying is that one of the
problems of the KOM means a formal acceptance of each and every mitzvah is
that it seems to be a form of shavuah, but the consequences assigned to it
are not the general halachic ones.

> 1- Perhaps QOM is a neder, but anan sahadei is enough anyway. 
> Much like the implied neder of someone who follows a minhag 
> enough times to qualify as a chazaqah. We already have a case 
> where a neder can be implied.

Shavuah not neder.  Note even in the neder case one always can overrule an
implied neder by a verbal bli neder, no matter how often you do it.  Verbal

I am struggling to see how we can have an anan sahadei undermine and
completely nullify a shavuah made to beis din, without consequences?  Can't
you see what this does to the whole judicial process if applied more

> 2- The Chasam Sofer on Kesuvos writes that the ikkar of 
> tevilah is QOM. This also fits the Taz (s"q 2) which requires 
> a repetition of telling him some of the mitzvos before 
> tevilah. This would allow a Brisker to say that QOM and 
> tevilah are one -- tevilah is the pe'ulah, and it is 
> tzerikhah kavanah because QOM is its qiyum shebileiv.

Yes but it does not necessarily mean that KOM means the acceptance of every
mitzvah, rather than wanting to join the Jewish people despite their being
oppressed.  Ie you can still follow Tosphos and hold all this and understand
KOM differently.

> This notion is also supported by the observation (made by the 
> Taz) that the examples of tevilah for other purposes, qeri 
> and nidah, presume that the person was meqabeil ol mitzvos.

I think you are jumping here.  Tosphos concludes that KOM is the mishpat and
is meakev if not before beis din from these cases, as otherwise you have no
mishpat, so of course. If you understand the cases in the gemora as I gather
the Rif does, as evidentiary, well all it presumes is a formal conversion,
whatever that means.

> : In addition, let us look at the gemora reference to KOM. It 
> is a bit of an
> : off hand reference in the gemora - ie it goes like this: - 
> the gemora (in
> : Yevamos 47b) is discussing a Braisa which says "echad ger 
> vechad eved
> : meshachrer" ...
> If I thought that Yevamos, not Bekhoros, was the primary 
> source, it would seem off-hand. It would even have proven 
> RnTK's instinctive position that QOM is the whole essence of 
> geirus and taken for granted.

I don't understand how you can not see the gemora in Yevamos as the primary
source.  The Shulchan Aruch brings the language from Yevamos in a number of
places almost exactly. He does not quote the gemora in Bechoros.  

> What we see in the machloqes the SA spells out is that he 
> holds that Tosafos and the Rosh consider QOM to be the 
> essence of geirus, and the Rambam and the Rif hold geirus is 
> a set of actions, but those actions require QOM in order to 
> be valid.

This is of course your understanding of the Rambam, and not the Bach's.

> RnCL spells out three different lenient positions:
> : A) the person does not have to accept each and every mitzvah (as per
> : Bechoros 30b) it is enough that they accept certain 
> fundamentals.  What
> : these are is  a bit unclear, but it is hard to see an atheist who
> : rejects absolutely everything falling within this category.
> This seems clear from Hillel's geirim, and other cases 
> already discussed.

Ah, but this would seem to be in contradiction to the straightforward
reading of Bechoros 30b that you have been arguing for previously.  

> Tir'u baTov!
> -Micha



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Message: 3
From: rebshr...@aol.com
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 11:55:26 -0400
[Avodah] Standing for Kriat Shemah

The Rav (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik)?did not kiss his Tzitziot during Kriat
Shemah, nor did any rituals out of concern for the phrase "Uvlechtecha
baderech" which he understood to mean that one should recite Kriat Shemah
in whatever position you find yourself without doing any additional
movements.?? Since we are sitting during dovening, we should continue to
sit.?? However, if one was standing during Tefilat Shacharit, one would at
the least be in no?way obligated to sit except perhaps for reasons of
Kavanah.??? If one says that one must sit lest one appear to violate
Chazal's Pesak in accordance?with Beit Hillel that Uvkumecha is talking
about time not position, then one should certainly not wear one's Tzitziot
of his Talit Katan outisde? lest one assume that Uretem Oto implies the
need to see one's Tzitziot rather than our Torah Shebaal Peh Pesak that it
refers to the need to place Tzitziot on day time garments.

Kol Tuv,

Stu Grant? 
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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 12:02:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Standing For Qri'at Shma`

Gershon Dubin wrote:
j...@m5.chicago.il.us (Jay F Shachter) writes:

> why was it so important to avoid the appearance that someone was 
> following Beit Shammai, if only as a xumra?

Because it *isn't* a chumra.  If BH's interpretation of the pasuk is
correct, then standing is not even a little bit better than sitting.
One posture is just as good as any other.  The only way standing would
be a chumra is if one entertains the possibility that just maybe BH's
understanding of the pasuk was mistaken, and the pasuk really does refer
to the reader's posture rather than to the time of day.

A key point here is that BS did *not* require standing out of respect.
On the contrary, for the evening Shma they required lying down, which
hardly seems respectful.  They required standing in the morning because
they understood the pasuk to require that posture in preference to all
others.  Once we reject that interpretation, then there simply isn't
any reason left to choose one posture over another.  Respect isn't an

Whereas if we take the question of standing for kaddish, nobody says
that this is a gezerat hakatuv, that standing is the preferred posture
for hearing kaddish.  Rather, those who stand do so out of respect;
as the KSA says, if Eglon Melech Moav stood up to hear Hashem's word,
how much more so should we do the same.  Now suppose BS came along and
said one must stand up to hear kaddish, and BH said no, it isn't
necessary, it's OK to sit.  In that case, since they're both talking
about the same thing, even BH would agree that it's better to stand,
and so it would be OK and even recommended to be machmir.

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

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Message: 5
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 10:56:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] mi yamut


        Couldn't the posek in question have told the sho'el to ask
someone else who would pasken that the youth was dead, or would this
have been a travesty of halacha?  If so, why is it different from the
cases cited above?
        Kol tuv
        Dov Kay

         Great question - I had heard the R'SZA story a while back and
discussed it with someone who was taken aback by it.  After much
discussion it was clear that he came from a background which focused on
"my way is the truth" and so felt the posek who was asked should have
given his answer immediately as "God's will".  I understood his approach
but pointed out an alternative that "God's will" is not determined until
a psak is issued on the particular case, whatever that psak is, and that
psak becomes his will as long as the halachik process is followed.  Now
how would that work if there were a Sanhedrin is an interesting
question. IIRC I  heard from a bar hachi that Sanhedrin will not
necessarily feel the need to unify all psak (it knocked my socks off).
        Joel Rich

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Message: 6
From: "M Cohen" <mco...@touchlogic.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 12:32:41 -0400
[Avodah] mi yamut

RDK writes ... I also remember reading somewhere that RSZA was once asked by
a pregnant woman whether she could abort her foetus because it suffered from
some abnormality.  He told the woman to go down the road to a nice Rabbi
called R. Waldenburg (the Tzitiz Eliezer), who would be able to answer her
question... It is recorded, IIRC, that R. Chaim Brisker would also tell
sho'alim to ask the dayan their questions, because his p'sak would be too
burdensome (as with the RSZA incident) or too radical (as with the R. Chaim
Volozhiner incident). Couldn't the posek in question have told the sho'el to
ask someone else who would pasken that the youth was dead, or would this
have been a travesty of halacha?  If so, why is it different from the cases
cited above?

it's much easier to defer the question to another when it's only issues of
v'sen tal umatar or even 
abortion (d'rabanon or only a lav d'orisa), as opposed to a question of

mordechai cohen

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Message: 7
From: "Eli Turkel" <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 13:16:57 -0700
[Avodah] psak halacha

<<Couldn't the posek in question have told the sho'el to ask someone
else who would pasken that the youth was dead, or would this have been
a travesty of halacha?>>

I would assume it depends on hogh strongly the posek feels about the
issue and the circumstances.  There is a rabbi in our town who when
asked questions about pregnant/nursing women fasting refuses to answer
and sends them to R. Nebenzahl who is very mekil on the issue.
Basically he is saying that R. Nebenzahl is a recognized posek. The
local rabbi is not willing to accept the kulah but recognizes it as an
R. Zilberstein of Bnei Brak has spoken on the issue and is machmir. He
feels that women through the ages have fasted and it is
only recently that questions like a nursing mother losing her milk
have arisen while the facts have not changed.

To take an extreme case from recent stories if someone asked R.
Elyashiv a question that relied on heter mechira for some important
issue he would definitely prohibit it and not send the questioner to ROY.

The question of the definition of halachic death is very emotional and
those that are machmir are sure the other side
is nonsense and would never send a questioner to someone who is mekil

Eli Turkel

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Message: 8
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 11:02:18 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Praying to angels


        As we get stuck into our Selichos, I was wondering what
listmembers do about the selichos which involve petitioning
things/entities other than G-d, eg machnisei rachamim, the pizmon of the
13 middos, in which we petition the middas horachamim of HKBH.  This
last, in particular, can't just be silently skipped, because it is read
allowed and is, for many, the highlight of the selichos - I think
Satmarers davka do tashlich on the day on which it is read.
        I, on the one hand, have R. Toby Katz's accusation of arrogance
ringing in my ears.  On the other hand, I have my Goldschmidt edition of
the selichos, which quotes both the Rambam and Ramban decrying the
practice of davening to angels, with the Ramban openly calling it avodah
zarah.  Does minhag trump theology (assuming that you subscribe to that
particular theological view to start with)?   
        I would be interested to hear about listmembers' practices and
        Kol tuv
        Dov Kay

         I vacillate but do know that when I asked one rav ( a follower
to a large extent of the minhagei Hagra) he told me he didn't say it.
Right now I say it but have in mind I'm really asking hashem to have
them to do their jobs  even while I don't really understand celestial
mechanics (sort of like saying each part of the machine should function
        Joel Rich 

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