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Volume 25: Number 415

Thu, 11 Dec 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 19:10:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Seeing the Swiss Alps

At 06:59 PM 12/10/2008, T6...@aol.com wrote:
>On Areivim, R' Yitzchak Levine posted something about Hirsch urging 
>his students to see the Alps -- his famous line, HKB'H will ask you, 
>"Have you seen My Alps?"

There was nothing in what I wrote about nd quoted from RSRH that said 
anything about students.  The Wondering Jew piece appeared some time 
in the 1860s in the journal Jeshurun.

Indeed, my impression is that almost all of RSRH's writing were meant 
for the public at large. It is true that he gave a Chumash shiur 
which was the source for his commentary on the Chumash, but to say he 
was "urging his students to see the Alps" has, IMO, no basis. He was 
urging everyone to look at nature and gain a greater appreciation for Hashem.

Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 2
From: "Eli Turkel" <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 12:42:46 +0200
[Avodah] ner ish u-beto

<<What kind of kiyum mitzva can you have if you don't live there?  I
can understand the train situation 150 years ago, when they spent, as
someone wrote, 3 days on the train, so it would be similar to
achsenai. But a plane?>>

There is a major debate among poskim whether one needs a house in
order to light candles. Is the mitzvak on the person (gavra) or the
house (heftza - that each house needs candles). Proofs are brought in
each direction.

As R. Pick indicated R. Elyashiv seems to hold that one who does not
have a home eg an airplane does not light. Other poskim disagree.
Another difference would be soldiers or hikers sleeping outdoors

Eli Turkel

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Message: 3
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 10:24:04 -0500
[Avodah] Rav Shteinman and Niagara Falls

At 08:02 PM 12/10/2008, Joshua Meisner wrote:

>Wouldn't R' Shteinman's actions be consonant with the ruling in Avos 3:9
>regarding not interrupting one's learning to comment on natural beauty?
>Granted, if my simple reading of the mishnah is correct, I'm not sure why
>the ability to make a bracha would change things.
>Joshua Meisner

The following is from the new translation of 
RSRH's commentary on the Chumash, Bereishis 28:10

10 Ya?akov left Be?er Sheva and set out for Charan.

Ya?akov goes forth in order to establish a Jewish home, and to achieve
this he needs only the resources inherent in his own personality. Thus
begins the story of Ya?akov, for everything that follows revolves around
the establishment of that home. Ya?akov was the first to give expression
to the idea that God is to be sought within the home. He was the first
to articulate the profound idea of beis elokim (below, v. 17), Beis El (below,
v. 19 and 35:15), ?the house of God,? which essentially means: The
sphere in which man blossoms and thrives, the place to which he brings
all that he acquires and in which he acts and builds his life ? that sphere
is the greatest and nearest place for the revelation of God.

Ya?akov fulfilled in his life what Noach had envisioned at the new
beginning of human history: Whereas the culture of Yefes ennobles
men?s souls through the sense of beauty, the mission of Shem is ?to
pitch tents in which the Shechinah may dwell.?

The Sages of Israel have expressed an idea that contains within it a
complete worldview: Ikir Shechinah b'tachtonim, 
?the principal place of the Shechinah
is on earth? (Bereshis Rabbah 19:7); or: ?The angels laugh at
those who raise their eyes toward heaven, imagining they have to seek
God up above? (Sefer Chassidim, 18, end); or: ?He who is walking out of
doors while studying, and interrupts his study and says: ?How beautiful
is that tree!? or ?How beautiful is that field!? (thus revealing that, for
him, the study of human life and its beauty when lived in accordance
with God?s Will does not overshadow the beauty of nature) is regarded
as though he has forfeited his own soul? (Avos 3:9).

These and similar statements are a legacy to us from the spirit of
Ya?akov. Under the influence of the culture of Yefes, man flees from
ordinary, ?prosaic? life and takes refuge in the beautiful ?poetry? of
nature. The heirs of Ya?akov find God and His Shechinah first and
foremost in the home . Herein lies the difference between the spirit of
Judaism and non-Jewish culture.

BTW, to see what R. Steinman missed go to



Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 4
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 08:21:23 -0500
[Avodah] The CC on Yaakov Learning and Working

Please see http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/cc_yaakov_learn_work.pdf

Yitzchok Levine 

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Message: 5
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 13:32:45 -0500
[Avodah] RSRH on Gid Hanashe

Below is part of RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 
32: 33. I have left out the original Hebrew 
verses that appear in the text and only included 
the English translations given, because my email program cannot handle Hebrew.

33 Therefore, [even] to this day, the Children of 
Israel are not to eat the sinew of weakness which 
is on the upper joint of the thigh, for he 
gripped the sinew of weakness at the upper joint of Ya?akov?s thigh.

The memory of this incident has been preserved for all time for
Ya?akov?s descendants by the prohibition of gid hanashe. The prohibition
is surely not intended to inform Ya?akov?s descendants of the historical
fact that their forefather limped as a result of a wrestling match, just
as it is inconceivable that the prohibition of chametz  is intended only to
inform us of the kind of bread our ancestors ate when they left
Egypt. Both these facts ? in and of themselves ? are of little
importance, and their commemoration by means of a Divine commandment
can be explained only by the assumption that they bear
truths of deep significance to our destiny as a people. These truths
are given everlasting expression and renewal through the dietary restriction.

Our Sages attach such significance to this prohibition, in their
interpretation of Yeshayahu 9:7-12. The prophet says:
  ?God sent a Word upon Ya?akov, and it found its place
in Yisrael. All the people shall learn to know it, Efrayim and the inhabitants
of Shomron, who in arrogance and haughtiness say: ?Bricks
have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone; sycamores have been
cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.? And though God has
set Rezin?s adversaries against him . . . the people still do not return
to the One who truly strikes them, and they do not seek God Tzeva?os.?
Our Sages (Chullin 91a) interpret: ??God sent a Word upon Ya?akov refers to the
prohibition of gid hanashe (it was indeed a Word sent upon Ya?akov); ?and
it found its place in Yisrael? ? the prohibition has spread throughout

In light of all this, there is no doubt about the meaning of the prohibition.
Throughout their long struggle, saro shel Esav was unable to defeat
Ya?akov, was unable to throw him down; but he was able to dislocate his
joint and prevent him from using his material power. Thus will Ya?akov
make his way through history: limping, unable to stand on both feet,
without a firm stand and a firm walk. This lack of stability is a necessary
condition for opening Esav?s eyes. If Ya?akov, too, had stood at the head
of his four hundred warriors, his invincible endurance would not have
revealed the finger of God in history. Therefore the descendants of
Ya?akov (who ? precisely through his material weakness ? will become
Yisrael, and will attest to God Whose power overwhelms everything else)
are not to eat the sinew of submission and material weakness.

Whenever Ya?akov?s descendants sit down to eat, they are to be confronted
by this admonition from the chronicle of their life?s wanderings:
They are to willingly forego this sinew, forego their physical strength,
which is given over to Esav. They must not think that their survival
depends on that kind of strength. Just because they are not armed with
the sword like Esav, and cannot even walk the earth with a firm stride,
they should not consider themselves unprotected, without security in
the vicissitudes of time. The strength of Ya?akov-Yisrael depends on
other, higher powers, against which the sword of Esav cannot prevail.

If Ya?akov falls, he falls not because of his limited physical power, but
because he fails to cultivate God?s protection. Conversely, if Yisrael stands
firm, it is not because of his physical and material strength, but because
God bears him aloft on the eagles? wings of His almighty power.

This is the message that was conveyed to Ya?akov, to be borne forever
in the hearts of all Israel. This is the Word whose full meaning is to
penetrate the consciousness of the nation, when it attributes its fall and
calamity not to God?s Will, but to its own lack of military preparedness;
when, instead of ensuring its future by returning to God, it asserts in
futile arrogance: ?Bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone;
sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.?

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Message: 6
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <fri...@mail.biu.ac.il>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 15:42:41 +0200
[Avodah] Breast-Beating in vidui

Does any know of a source for breast-beating during vidui.  It is an almost universal concept - but where did it begin in Jewish sources?

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail: Fri...@mail.biu.ac.il

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Message: 7
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 08:22:58 -0500
[Avodah] FW: Worth thinking about

        From R' Broyde on R' Rackman

> (1) Jewish law is a truth seeking venture which must live by the
> currency of logic and analysis, always living in the present and being
> driven by the data, both Talmudic and scientific.
> (2) Ethical people live lives of compassion with the understanding
> that life is more complex in fact than in theory and are ready to
> recognize that sometimes people are frailand in need of help. Ethical
> people are measured by how they show compassion to the weak.
> (3) Hard work is extremely important. Torah comes to those who work
> hard to acquire it, and virtually no one is a natural master of Torah.
> Regular and intense learning is imperative in being a torah scholar.
> (4) Never be too sure of yourself and listen closely to the voices of
> the wise people around you. Rabbi Rackman once remarked to me that
> "everyone really needs a mentor, since a mentor serves the purpose of
> checking that one is not egregiously in error.[3]
> =====================================================
>    Judaism's antinomies are important for an understanding not only
> of its theology and ethics, but also its Halakhah. Indeed, the data of
> Jewish theology and ethics are usually derived from the Law which
> fixes the essential character of all of Judaism. Unfortunately,
> however, many who are presently called upon to resolve questions of
> Jewish law are often oblivious to the antinomies which are implicit in
> their subject. Altogether too frequently they seize upon one or
> another of two or more possible antithetical values or interests
> between which the Halakhah veers, and they assume there must be an
> exclusive commitment to that single norm. The dialectic of the Talmud,
> however, reveals quite the contrary. Implicit in almost every
> discussion is a balancing of the conflicting values and interests
> which the Law seeks to advance. And if the Halakhah is to be viable
> and at the same time conserve its method and its spirit, we must
> reckon with the opposing values where such antinomies exist. An
> equilibrium among them must be achieved by us as objective halakhic
> experts rather than as extremists propounding only one of the
> antithetic values.
>    (me-type 1 and type II errors)
>    KT
                Joel Rich

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Message: 8
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 14:35:18 -0500
[Avodah] Sheitels

From Deiah Vdibbur - does anyone know by whom  and where this
pronouncement was made and what the reaction was ?
Forty years ago gedolei Yisroel zt"l vylct"a issued a notice on the
issue of shaitels: "Since as a result of our many sins there has been a
breach of late, leading married women to wear wigs that resemble actual
hair of different types that our forefathers never imagined could look
so much like uncovered hair chas vesholom, we hereby feel obligated to
make known the position of our holy Torah is that this is absolutely
prohibited, for even in regions where it was customary to permit wigs,
such wigs were never even under consideration. One aveiroh leads to
another, and there is no permission to wear such wigs."

Joel Rich
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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 17:20:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Sephardi-ism: some food for thought

On Sat, Dec 06, 2008 at 11:42:00PM EST, R Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: On Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 7:49 PM, Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com> wrote:
:> On Thu, 4 Dec 2008 17:56:55 -0500 Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:
:> ...
:>> RRW seems to be descriing a world in which someday a good peice of
:>> software running atop the Bar Ilan CD might be a better poseiq than
:>> any human.

:> This could be true independent of any model of Halachah and Pesak, if
:> one assumes the possibility of the development of serious AI.
: I don't understsand how a criticms of X can create an entire pgeonhole
: characterizaiotn or extrapolation of a person's OWN methodology. It is
: indeed quie silly. I am merely pointeing out that many ashkenazic 20th
: cnetury posqim will tangentially throw in a shita as a given...

I was commenting on the quoted text, not the shitah. Of course, that
text is now an ellision "..." so let me repeat what you wrote that I was
disagreeing with:
> Micha and I have endless debatges on Halchicc metholody. Regardles of what
> system one uses, it is nice to have a more obejctive system than a
> subjective system...

To which I replied:
> I even disagree with that. It's nice to think that humans have a more
> creative role than that. I would agree that the better defined the
> limits of the system are, the more useful it is. But I would hate to think
> that the ideal halachic system is one with less autonomy. Subjective within
> an objectively defined range of possibilities would to my mind better
> balance the notion that both Hashem and the chakham participate in the
> creation of pesaq.

Then I wrote the line RYG commented upon. (IIUC, he was confused by my use
of the general term "AI", saying good AI would be subjective anyway.)
I wasn't commenting on your criticism, but your desire for objectivity
"regardless of what system" which I thought meant you assumed agreement.

To repeat what I was trying to say in a manner that avoids what I believe
was RYG's confusion:

Is the ideal poseiq a database plus some natural language software (to
convert the sefarim into some data structure) and an algorithm? That would
be the ultimate in objectivity -- but it would minimize the humanity of
our contribution to the halachic process.

About my objection, RAF wrote on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 7:20pm CET:
: Not necessarily. If I understand correctly, RRW still leaves room for 
: developments in halakhah, but wouldn't want these developments to creep in 
: into lema'asseh until the innovation has been digested and criticized and 
: quoted. Thus, humans would still be those who suggest developments and come up
: with hidushim, but an impersonal algorithm would prevent any chiduush from 
: seeping into practice too soon.

An algorithm means that the results are either fully determined by the
inputs, or random. Assuming we don't value dice rolling for its own

Given the same known pesaqim (textual and mimetic) and the same new
situtation, an impersonal algorithm would guarantee a particular answer.
If halakhah were algorithmic, one might as well listen to the bas qol. It
and the process must always reach the same answer anyway.

RAF continued:
: Still, I side more with RMB, while aknowledging that it is open to abuse, 
: which RRW's system prevents.

This is why I would want a creative process with as well defined
boundries as possible. Thus, "abuse" would have a definition, even if
creativity is invited.

It's like RNLCardozo's comparison between halakhah and Bach. Before
Beethoven, music composition was a creative process within rules. If you
bent them too far, at some point it wasn't a tocatta (or fugue, or minuet
or symphany or...) and people considered it anarchic and unpleasant.
Keys had to be well defined, etc... But within those boundries, they
managed to produce a wide variety of music, with a lot of both emotional
and intellectual content.

Back to RRW's motza'ei Shabbos post:
: But ascribing this to me is silly. Beis Yosef, kaf hachahim, ROY and
: others use a simlar technique. But pershaps the greatest example in
: Ashknenaz is the monumentl encyclopedic Darchei Teshuva on YD. But even
: Pischei Teshuva and Sha'arei Teshuva do this, too.

And yet they all have exceptions. As you yourself noted, these are general
kelalim that have exceptions, not algorithmic rules. I'm arguing that
this is desired, since knowing when one kelal is outweighed by another
is where creativity comes in.

The SA had a few rules that well outweighed the other. But he still broke
with his triumverate when something was just that much more mistabeir.

On Mon, Dec 08, 2008 at 11:51am UTC, Rn Chana Luntz wrote:
: RMB writes:
:> IOW, the Sepharadim are complaining that the typical Ashk
:> methodology is different than theirs. More development of one 
:> idea and its justifications than of the list of shitos.

: Well it is more than that, because, stepping back from the
: Askenazi/Sephardi divide, the question really becomes - to what extent
: is it appropriate to ignore what has previously been said. The argument
: for those who list shitos is that we stand on the shoulders of giants,
: so how can we not take what they say into account - and so even if
: you want to disagree based on lomdus, it is important to grapple with
: those of your forebears and contemporaries who appear to say differently
: (or to find comfort from those that disagree).

We only got into the Ashk / Seph divide because RMM said the divide
was an issue of defining koach deheteirah adif, so I throught out more
likely possibilities. One of those then spawned the current thread. My
point wasn't so much to argue that the SA and ROY's shitah counting
actually is Seph norm, just that it's not a tendency toward heteirah
as other patterns that aren't particularly heter oriented fit better.
I agree that none fit well.

That said, I don't think we're talking about simply ignoring precedent.
An acharon would make an argument as to why his example is a new case,
or why one should hold like Rabbeinu Tam instead of the Rambam. I don't
think anyone would outright "ignore what has previously been said."

The question between the SA/ROY/TE and (let's say) the Achiezer or RMF
is one of how significant of a general rule is the notion of following
rov (outside the context of a real nimnu vegamru). The less weight one
gives it when looking at pros and cons, the more times the person will
violate it.

Alternatively, the more weight one gives the Rambam's authority compared
to the significance majority of sefarim or perhaps the current practice of
one's community, the more often one will violate the majority conclusion
in favor of the Rambam. (Producing neo-Briskers.)

And then, when that weighing fails, the poseiq resorts to the rules of
birur safeiq.

: Hence as you can see the two do not need to be mutually exclusive -
: you could easily do both, a survey of what has previously been said
: and the lomdus....

This is how I views halakhah, there are many different things to do,
each giving significance to their conclusion, and then the poseiq has to
weigh those considerations. But then, I believe RnCL basically agreed
with my model when I first proposed it.

: And of course the theme that seems to run throughout [ROY's] discussions
: - is the principle that a safek d'orita l'chumra a principle that is
: itself d'rabbanan or is d'orita? (of course if it is d'rabbanan, the
: mechanism vis a vis the safek sfeka is pretty straightforward, because
: the first safek turns the situation from a d'orisa to a d'rabbanan, and
: hence the second safek you follow the principle safek d'rabbanan l'kula -
: whereas if safek d'orisa l'chumra is a principle from the Torah, then this
: straightforward mechanism does not work). As you can see from the flavour
: of this, however, a safek sfeka is generally about getting to a kula.

That explanation of sefeiq sefeiqa is in Shaarei Yosher, BTW. It is also
how RSShkop explains why safeiq deOraisa lechumrah doesn't apply to lo
sasur mikol asher yagidu lekha. They made the rule only for the other 612.
(Alternate explanation: Lo sasur requires stirah. If you're not listening
to them because you're unsure, it's not contradicting their taqanah.)

:> One thing about the MB, he tends to jump to laws of safeiq
:> rather than trying to be mevareir the din far faster than 
:> most other sefarim.

: Well this is the odd thing of course. The MB seems to be being
: accused of what is here being described as being "typically Sephardi"
: - first just listing shitos, and then going to the laws of safek. And
: yet it is hard to think of somebody more Ashkenazi than the MB....

I have no problem with this, since RSM convinced me (on Avodah) that
the MB was not an attempt to write a code, but an attempt to make more
shitos accessible to the talmid, and comment upon them. See the thread at
(In the first post, RSM quotes long stretches of the haqdamah to prove
his point.) After that discussion and looking at the haqdamah and the
title page, I am convinced that the MB's goal was to publish the acharonim
that post-dated the standardixation of the SA page, for learning --
and his comments were intended for limud not lemaaseh. Which is also
why he is so willing to contradict Litvish norm -- that doesn't enter
this kind of limud.

Remember, the CC was considered the tzadiq hador, but he wasn't the one
turned to for pesaq. It is also telling that he didn't seek semichah
before publishing the MB, which would be odd if he wanted to pasqen.

RMP and I discussed this a couple of weeks back. I argued that one pretty
clear proof is how often the CC didn't practice like the MB.

Wouldn't this indicate that the MB wasn't meant to be lemaaseh?
RMP counter-argued that since the CC didn't write all of the MB, how do
we know he was acting differently than he himself wrote?

My argument was that following the MB is actually following RYKamencki
and RAKotler, the ones who established the notion of the MB as a
final pesaq. At the time, there was a counter-campeign by R' Hutner,
RSYWeinberg, my own rebbe was against, because it meant relying on
a seifer that did not try to preserve minhag yisrael saba / mimetic
tradition / whatever you want to call it.

But RYK, RAK et all isn't a terrible choice of al mi lismokh. I"m not
arguing that because it's not the CC's pesaq, it's an error.

: seems to me that one can take the approach (ie ROY's approach) that the
: correct way to be mevareir the din is to use the laws of safek. Is this
: specifically Sephardi? I confess that if you read all of the sources
: that ROY cites, one does not get the impression that it is, as he cites
: many many others who use these principles, many many of them Ashkenazi.
: The question is more when and how, and what are the sfekos identified.

On Mon, Dec 08, 2008 at 11:40:01AM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: I wonder whether the importance of precedent has anything to do with it, 
: in which case I'd expect to find towns (or whatever the unit of custom 
: is) which generate their own Rabbanim more interested in precedent than 
: towns where Rabbis are imports.

Frankfurt-am-Main imported its rabbanim and is stuanchly married to
precedent. One example is an anecdote, not data, but...

On Mon, Dec 08, 2008 at 11:35pm EST, R Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: No secular scholar would be able to state a matter of dispute as a matter of
: fact! If a Talmid of mine stated a disputed fact as a matter of Halacha I
: would ream him out. MANY times a Talmid has told me that Being Hshmashos
: Bgein at Shki'a. I immeidately challnge him waht is his source and what does
: he mean by shekia. To say what WE call sh'kia is the beginning of bei
: hashmashos is a BIG ahalchic dispute. I would NEVER accept anyone trying to
: slip in one shita as a fact when communities TODAY still differ! It might be
: a different case if the matter had been setllted 400 years ago!

Maybe in Luban it was. Just throwing out a possibility, don't hold me to

: I hate to think that academics are more machmir on things like "davar
: behseim omro" but it sure looks that way...
: If these kinds of things were not important the be'er Hagolah on SA and the
: Shaar hatziyun on the MB would never have been written.

Except if the whole point of the MB is for learning halakhah as a theory,
which better parallels the academic's role than someone who is pasqening

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Spirituality is like a bird: if you tighten
mi...@aishdas.org        your grip on it, it chokes; slacken your grip,
http://www.aishdas.org   and it flies away.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter


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