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Volume 26: Number 6

Fri, 09 Jan 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "L. E. Levine" <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 2009 12:42:45 -0500
[Avodah] Tribes of Differing Traits

The following is from the new translation of 
RSRH's commentary to Chumash Bereshis.

48 3 Ya?akov then said to Yosef: The 
All-Sufficing God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me.

4 He said to me: Behold, I will  make you 
fruitful and multiply you and let you become a 
community of peoples, and I will give this land 
to your seed after you as an everlasting possession.

5 And now, your two sons who were born to you in 
the land of Egypt, before I came to you, are 
mine: Efrayim and Menashe will belong to me like Reuven and Shimon.

6 But the children whom you beget after them will 
remain yours; they will be named in their 
inheritance according to their brothers? names.

It is difficult to contend that, in a family that already included eleven
sons, this small addition would be considered so significant that it could
be indicated by the words hen'ni maf'r'cha vhirbisicha.

Rather, as we already noted (ibid. [35:11]), the expression k'hal goyim ? here
k'hal amim ? assigns the people of Ya?akov its distinctive mission: This
people is to consist of diverse tribes of differing traits, while maintaining
complete unity through one common task. This people should represent
the agricultural nation, the merchant nation, the warrior nation, the
nation of scholars, and so forth. As a model nation, it should demonstrate
for all to see that the one great mission ? common to all men
and all nations and as revealed in God?s Torah ? does not depend on
a particular vocation or trait. Rather, all of 
mankind, with its rich diversity,
can equally find its calling in the one common mission.

The division of the nation into diverse tribes, and the resulting division
of the Land into different provinces for the different tribes, whose
distinctiveness is thus to be retained ? that is what is indicated here
(in v. 4). Only thus is there any importance to Efrayim and Menashe
becoming two distinct tribes. Without the division into diverse tribes,
all distinctiveness would be absorbed in the consolidated mass of the
nation as a whole, just as the land would be divided among the nation
as a whole and not according to different tribes.

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Message: 2
From: Michael Poppers <MPopp...@kayescholer.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 18:26:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] al Hanissim (was "Re: 'Al Hanisim")

REMT replied to me:
> I don't understand your point. <
When REMT wrote...
<<Probably because unlike Al Hanissim, "v'al kullam" refers explicitly to 
the string of v'als in Modim, and is thus a continuation thereof.>>
...I understood him to be contrasting the "v'al kulam" of the Amidah with 
the "Al haNissim" insertion, saying that the "v'al kulam" referred back to 
the "Modim"-stanza "v'al"s (while "Al haNissim" didn't), and thus I noted 
that the "v'al hakol" of BhM also refers back to the "Nodeh 
l'cha"-stanza's "v'al"s (while "Al haNissim" doesn't), yet the "few 
commentators" mentioned by RJJB make a distinction between the Amidah ("Al 
haNissim") and BhM ("V'al haNissim").

> "R'tzei," on the other hand, is completely independent of the paragraph 
which precedes it, so there is no call for a vav hachibbur. <
One could argue that "R'tzei" shares themes with "Racheim [na]," both in 
its first half (which connects with the "v'harvicheinu" section) and in 
its second half (which connects with the overall Y'rushalayim & Tziyon 
theme that is continued in "Uvnei").

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ, USA
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Message: 3
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 16:37:55 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Truth v Peace: The White Lie (J. Sacks)

R. Jonathan Sacks (as brought down by R. Micha Berger):
Truth matters, but peace matters more.

HB:  Pirkei Avot 1:18 says: R. Shimon ben Gamliel says the world is sustained on 3 things:  Din, Emet, Shalom.   Shenemar: Emet, Umishpat, Shalom ...
In both of these 2 lists Shalom (Peace) is listed after both Din/Mishpat and Emet (Truth).  

If these 2 lists are described in their order of importance, can we learn
that perhaps there can be no Peace without either Din/Mishpat and/or Emet
existing first?  

Further, the 2 cases mentioned by R. Saks involve: 1. Hashem omitting words 2. Joseph?s Brothers fabricating words.  

What is not brought down is Jacob?s deception of his Father Yitzchak.  In
that case, Rashi tells us that Jacob was careful with his words so as to
not outright lie to his Father.  This is not something the Brothers did
when they spoke to Joseph.

Also not brought down is Shimon & Levi?s deception of the people/prince
of Shchem.  It appears that Shimon and Levi were not motivated by Peace,
but rather by revenge or mishpat. 

It would appear to me that at the very least both the Brothers, Jacob, and
Shimon and Levi were involved in Ganeivas Daas, and possibly violated the
injunction of Midvar Sheker Tirchak for whatever reasons. 


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Message: 4
From: Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 20:56:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Care in reading a ketuba

On Mon, 05 Jan 2009 17:39:51 -0500
Zev Sero <z...@sero.name> wrote:


> REMT would have been sure not to make!)  This same RY was also clearly
> flummoxed by the name Dovber, spelt dalet vav beit ayin reish, and took a
> guess at how to pronounce it.  If the reading is to function as a final

A friend of mine points me to a discussion of the five letter name you
mention in the work Hagor Ha'Efod (Mazkeres Gittin 69:7), available
from HebrewBooks.org:


[p. 42 of the PDF]

Bein Din Ledin - http://bdl.freehostia.com
A discussion of Hoshen Mishpat, Even Ha'Ezer and other matters

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Message: 5
From: Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 21:21:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] If I knew Him....

On Wed, 07 Jan 2009 16:33:08 -0500
Zev Sero <z...@sero.name> wrote:

> T6...@aol.com wrote:

> > I have heard it as "Ilu yadativ, hayisiv" -- "if I knew Him, I would be 
> > Him."  Is that correct, and where does it come from?
> This page <http://www.kipa.co.il/bikorim/show_art.asp?id=33582> sources
> it to Sefer Ha'ikarim, maamar 2, chapter 30.

It is indeed there, at the very end of the chapter, available (in djvu
format) here:


[p. 38]

> I've heard it sourced to the Rambam, but not to any specific place, so
> this seems more plausible.

R. Y. Albo attributes it to "the wise man", so it's apparently not from
Rambam, or he'd know that and say so.

Bein Din Ledin - http://bdl.freehostia.com
A discussion of Hoshen Mishpat, Even Ha'Ezer and other matters

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Message: 6
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 04:58:50 GMT
Re: [Avodah] 'Al Hanisim

I thank R' Michael Poppers for bringing my attention to a post that I missed when it was first published.

In Avodah Digest 25:432, R' Jonathan Baker wrote:
> Baer notes that almost all old siddurim, both Ashkenazic
> and Sphardic, don't use V'al, but Al.  He notes that even
> those few commentators (Mateh Moshe and a couple of others)
> who add the Vav only do so in Benching, where there is a
> string of V'als.  In Shmoneh Esreh, though, the string of
> V'als is broken by Hatov ki lo calu rachamecha vehamerachem
> ki lo tamu chasadecha.

Okay, but I'd like to note that the Mishneh Brurah 682:1 writes:

>>> It's written in sforim that in the text of Al Hanisim, one should say "v'al hanisim" with a vav, both in Tefilah and in Birkas Hamazon.

Aruch Hashulchan 682:1 says the same thing in different words:

>>> All eight days of Chanukah one says Al Hanisim in Birkas
>>> Hamazon in Birkas Haaretz. That is, he begins "nodeh l'cha"
>>> and says up to "uvchol shaah", and afterwards he says "v'al
>>> hanisim" until "l'shimcha hagadol", and afterwards he says
>>> "v'al hakol Hashem Elokeinu anachnu modim lach." And likewise
>>> in Tefilah, after Modim until "kivinu lach v'al hanisim" ...
>>> ... And it seems to me that one must say (tzarich lomar) "v'al
>>> hanisim", because even before it there are thanksgivings, and
>>> this is additional. In the sidurim it is written "al hanisim",
>>> but it appears that one must say with the vav.

Akiva Miller

Click here to become a professional counselor in less time than you think.

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Message: 7
From: Dovi Jacobs <dovijac...@yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 03:01:56 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Aruch Hashulchan Yomi

According to the AishDas calendar, the current cycle for daily learning
of the Aruch Hashulchan will end on 11 Sivan 5769 (June 3, 2009):

It is not scheduled to begin again until November of that year:

I have no idea what the reason for the gap from June to November is,
but perhaps it is for the best for reasons I will explain below. In
this post I would like to describe how I view daily study of the Arukh
Hashulchan (AHS), and offer some suggestions for re-thinking the daily
study program.

[It's a simple programming error, but since RDJ's proposals are worthy
of discussion I took the time to fix his email (it was sent with
technical gliches) and bounce it to the list. -micha]

What the AHS is to me:
For most of my life I have been aware of the Aruch Hashulchan, and I
always admired it, but only studied small parts of it sporadically. It
is only in the past few years (since Shavuos 5766) that I started to
work on it continually as a form of personal "kovea itim latorah" in the
area of practical halachah. Since then I have managed to cover large,
significant portions of Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah, and learned a
tremendous amount. I admit with some shame that throughout countless
years of formal yeshivah study (which included halakhah & Shulchan Arukh),
and personal Torah study thereafter, there were still significant parts
of Yoreh Deah and even Orach Chaim I had never completely gone through
siman-by-siman before this (and even some large parts I had hardly looked
at). Not to mention Even Haezer and Choshen Mishpat...

When I began to do continuous study of the AHS in 5766, I think I was
aware that AishDas had an "Aruch Hashulchan Yomi" schedule, but it
didn't meet my needs at the time. First of all, since I had decided
to contribute the text I learned to the public (at Hebrew Wikisource),
and editing was more demanding than just reading, I found one siman per
day to be far too much. Secondly, I had some definite ideas about which
areas I wanted to learn and in what order, so instead I focused on those
areas. Nevertheless, I realize the value and power in a daily schedule
that that encourages many people to learn the same things at the same
time together.

Why did I pick davka the AHS for learning Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah?
The answer begins with my belief that Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even
Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat are not books per se, but rather areas of
knowledge. Each of them, and every siman within each of them, covers
a specific set of sugyos in a certain order, and certain shitos of the
poskim derived from those sugyos.

The scope of each siman was first defined by the author of the Tur,
along with the scope and order of topics in each of the four larger
areas of knowledge. But ever since the Beis Yosef, the very idea of
"Orach Chaim" or "Yoreh Deah" (or any particular siman within them) has
traveled far beyond the text of the Tur itself. Rather than remaining
a specific text, each of them has instead become a defined area of
knowledge based on specific sugyos organized in a particular fashion,
and has been addressed as such by countless poskim.

But this is exactly what makes them so hard to learn! Because what, in
the final analysis, should one read? Reading the Tur by itself is not
overly demanding, but it is not nearly enough. Learning the Tur along
with the Beis Yosef and the important acharonim is optimal, but it remains
beyond the reach of those who cannot invest many hours every day in such a
program (which is why such learning is usually left to semichah students
and candidates for dayanus). As for reading the Shulchan Arukh itself
(such as in the "Halachah Yomis" program), on a personal level I find
it to be extremely unsatisfying. Remember that the SA/Rema were written
as review notes for the Beis Yosef and Darkei Moshe. As such they are
an extremely poor pedagogical tool for someone who is learning halachah
on a more basic level, and in fact they were never meant to be used as
such. As terse summaries, they are also simply not enjoyable to read.

It was the Aruch Hashulchan that filled this void perfectly for me.
Writing about complex topics clearly and understandably, the author of
the AHS manages at once to summarize all of the basic dinim in the SA &
Rema, to present them in the context of the major shitos of the Rishonim
(usually also dealing with the fundamental sugyos in Shas that gave rise
to those shitos), and to summarize the major points of the acharonim
(nosei kelim on the SA).

Beyond this, there are several special features of the AHS that appealed
to me because of my own personal interests:

1. Special focus on the Rambam, who is usually cited verbatum for each
relevant sugya and dealt with at length in relation to other rishonim.

2. Special focus on shitos of the Yerushalmi where relevant.

3. Interesting chiddushim. Sometimes these are very convincing and
sometimes much less so, but they usually get right to the heart of the
sugya at hand (which makes them very worth reading).

The personality of the author is also very important in my opinion.
First of all, the author was an excellent writer and apparently (from
his writing) also an excellent teacher. This makes learning fruitful,
because when you read you feel like your rav is teaching the relevant
siman to you.

Secondly, the author was a first-rate posek. This is important because
it means that the decisions one learns are authoritative ones, positions
that may be taken into account and relied upon (depending of course on
the situation and the approach of the posek who is dealing with it). I
highly doubt that anyone who learns the AHS daily becomes an "AHS chasid"
who thinks of the AHS as "the last word in pesak halachah" (unlike the
many thousands who view the Mishnah Berurah in exactly that way). And I
believe that this lack of chasidus is a very healthy thing. More than a
century has passed since the AHS was first published, and we have our
own contemporary poskim in a vastly changed reality. But it is still
important to know that the psak one reads when learning is authoritative
and may be taken into account, even if the practical psak in your actual
life doesn't always exactly match you learned in the AHS.

The spirit of the AHS fits this approach well. The author always comes
across as a Rav, never as an Admor. On occasion he states his personal
psak in uncompromising terms, but in the vast majority of cases he offers
his opinion as exactly that: his opinion. It is an authoritative and
informed opinion, but no more and no less than that. The phrases "nirah
li" and "lefi aniyus daati" occur many times in nearly every siman of
the AHS, and this too is something that has endeared the book to me
as a tool for learning halachah. Furthermore, the author's particular
approach to pesak, which endeavors to support popular practice and common
mihagim whenever possible, and applies kocha de-hetera whenever possible,
is something that I think we need more of today.

To conclude, I personally chose to learn the AHS because it is an
excellent tool to help me cover material in Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even
Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat. It was also, for other reasons, a viable
text to contribute to the public at Hebrew Wikisource. I believe that
those digital contributions will make the AHS an even more effective tool
for those who use it in the future, as the publicly available digital
text becomes fuller over time, and ever more readable and accurate,
with tens of thousands of direct links are added to Shas and poskim.

Rethinking the daily program:

In terms of re-thinking the daily study program for AHS, my starting
point is the idea expressed above that for those who learn it, it
is first and foremost a tool for learning four major areas of Torah
knowledge: Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat.
This concept leads me to three conclusions:

1. A daily study program should cover the entire Shulchan Aruch.

There are three major sections missing in the printed versions of the
AHS. Two are in Yoreh Deah (Hilkhos Aku"m and Hilchos Nedarim) and
one in Even Haezer (Hilchos Kesubos). We know with certainty that the
author wrote them all, but none of them were ever published until R.
Simcha Fishbane published Hilchos Nedarim in 1992 from the author's
own manuscript. The rest are still missing, however, and even Hilchos
Nedarim is only available to someone who buys a full new set of AHS
from a specific publisher. In addition, the author of AHS purposely
skipped Hilchos Terumus and Maseros in Yoreh Deah because he planned
to deal with them at length elsewhere (as indeed he later did in Aruch
Hashulchan He'asid).

Not surprisingly, the current study program skips the missing parts.
That is the simplest thing to do, and if I had planned such a program
initially I probably would have done the very same thing. Such skipping
is reflected, for instance, in the following calendar:

However, if one views the AHS primarily as a tool for learning Yoreh Deah,
i.e. Yoreh Deah itself is the primary subject matter and not the AHS,
then skipping large parts of YD is not an adequate solution. "Use the
best tool you can to do the job" is always good advice, and the AHS is
an excellent tool. But when it is unavailable there still may be other
good tools to use.

My personal suggestion for these cases is to learn the Levush. The
Levush is very similar to the AHS in many ways, both of them being
restatements of the individual simanim in clear language. They both
had similar goals, and indeed the author of the AHS wrote that the
Levush was one of his primary models. Perhaps "me-az yatza masok" if
the missing parts of the AHS can serve as an impetus for people who
study halachah to become familiar with the beauty of the Levush. To
move this idea forward I have uploaded scans of the Levush on the
missing portions of the AHS at either of the following links (in
either PDF of DjVu format):

These can be easily downloaded and printed. They include a scan of
Levush Hilchos Nedarim for those who do not have convenient access
to Rabbi Fishbane's special AHS edition. (I further intend to use the
non-copyrighted Levush as a suggested supplement at the online version of
the AHS.) They also include a scan of the Levush on Terumos and Maseros
because the AHS Ha'asid is not easily available to all, and also because
there is value in seeing the topic as it is presented the context of
Yoreh Deah.

2. A daily study program should be of reasonable daily quantity.

Some daily Torah-study programs are meant to be very short: The Mishnah
Yomis is two mishnayos per day, the Halachah Yomis is three seifim a day
(from Orach Chaim with supplements from the Kitzur in other areas). These
two programs take 6 years and 3-4 years respectively for a full cycle. A
cycle of Halachah Yomis covers Orach Chaim, plus material from other
parts of the SA as summarized in the Kitzur SA.

Other daily Torah-study programs require a very serious investment in
time, Daf Yomi being the primary example. The alternative Halakhah Yomis
that does a daf-per-day in the Mishnah Berurah is also for someone who
wants to commit in advance to more than just a few minutes a day. Chabad
offers its Rambam Yomi in two formats (one perek-per-day or three)
precisely because not everyone can make the same kind of commitment
(time or energy), but even the single-perek option is more than just
minimal work if one reads the Rambam seriously.

It seems to me that an AHS Yomi program would be a middle-ground one.
Not something that requires at least an hour to do meaningfully like
the Daf Yomi, and not something concise like the Mishnah Yomis. It is
most similar to the daf-per-day of Mishnah Berurah, not just in terms
of what is being studied but also in terms of the level of commitment
that the study of such material implies.

The current AHS study cycle is based on the simple idea of one
siman-per-day. The problem with this is quantity: Since simanim can be
extremely long or extremely short, and you often have several huge ones
or several tiny ones in a row, they do not provide a viable base for
dividing the material into units for daily study.

No daily study program in perfect in this respect. Daf Yomi sometimes
covers extremely long or difficult dapim, sometimes easier or shorter
ones. But in the final analysis the unit of a *page* means that there
is some limit to the variations. You won't find a series of long and
hard dapim each of which takes 20 times as long to teach in a Daf Yomi
shiur than does a less demanding daf. But this happens all the time in
the SA and works based on it.

Therefore, I recommend daily units based on more even quantity. Very short
simanim can be combined, and very long simanim should be divided. Creating
a schedule of this type will obviously take more work than a simple
"one-siman-per-day" formula, but I see no other way to create a realistic

In general, I suggest that the daily units should usually be roughly
a daily "blatt" of the AHS, i.e. about 12-14 seifim, and never more
than about 20 seifim. Such a schedule can be worked out without too
much trouble based on the convenient Tables of Contents at the Hebrew
* <http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:OH>
* <http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:YD>
* <http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:EE>
* <http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:HM>

3. Flexible topics.

The current AHS Yomi program is based on the simple idea of learning the
AHS "straight" from start to finish, from the very beginning of Orach
Chaim to the very end of Choshen Mishpat. I would like to suggest a more
flexible alternative.

It is important to begin with the axiom that not everyone is interested
in learning the same things, or even capable of doing so. Orach Chaim
is probably the most directly relevant part of the AHS for most people
and the most popular part to learn. Yoreh Deah is far less popular,
although it contains many areas that are extremely relevant to the
average Jew who learns halachah. In general, over the past few years I
have become ever less convinced that "hora'ah" is an adequate explanation
for which material is contained in Yoreh Deah. Are Hilchos Sefer Torah &
Mezuzah areas that require "hora'ah" more than Hilchos Tefillin in Orach
Chaim? Do Hilchos Kibbud Av va-Em require rabbinic hora'ah more than
Hilchos Berachos? Despite the classic image of bringing the chicken to
a rabbi for a psak, I am not even sure that the first chelek of Yoreh
Deah is truly less relevant to the average person's practical halachah
than many parts of Orach Chaim, nor that it is meant primarily for rabbis.

On the other hand, the bulk of material in Even ha-Ezer and Choshen
Mishpat is truly meant for dayyanim (except for the first part of EE that
is relevant to mesadrei kiddushin). There are obviously some halachos
in EE and CHM that are highly relevant to all, but not the vast majority
of topics.

Therefore, I think we can identify three different basic areas of interest
to people within a daily study cycle: (1) Orach Chaim; (2) Yoreh Deah;
(3) Even ha-Ezer and Choshen Mishpat. Is is possible to build a more
flexible cycle that would let people choose which area they want to
study each year? I think it is.

Orach Chaim: OCH has three clear parts: (A) Seder ha-Yom, (B) Shabbos &
Eruvim, (C) Moadim. On a practical level the Moadim should be studied
before the relevant moed each year, and there is a mitzvah to do
so. Therefore, I suggest the following basic approach for a study cycle:

Moadim are studied for a total of 4-5 months each year at the relevant
times of year. On a practical level this means studying the last part of
Orach Chaim during Adar-Nisan and Elul-Tishrei, plus a bit more during
other times of the year.

Elul-Tishrei: Hilchos Rosh Hashanah, Yom Hakippurim, Sukkah, Lulav,
Chol Hamoed, Rosh Chodesh (120 simanim or 94 dapim in the AHS) in about
two months.

Adar-Nisan: Hilchos Megillah, Pesach & Chodesh Nisan, Yom Tov (113
simanim or 114 dapim in the AHS) in about two months.

Summer: Tisha be-Av & Taanis = 32 simanim or 25 dapim in the AHS (about
two weeks of study).

Winter: Chanukkah =16 simanim or 12 dapim in the AHS (about a week
of study).

This leaves more than seven months per year (more than eight in leap
years) for one of the other two parts of Orach Chaim: Seder ha-Yom
or Shabbos.

Seder ha-Yom is 241 simanim or 219 dapim in the AHS, to be completed
in about seven months or 210 days, for an average of a little more than
a daf-per-day.

Shabbos & Eruvin is 175 simanim or 265 dapim, for a similar average of
a little more than a daf=per-day in seven months.

Thus, Orach Chaim is completed in a two-year cycle, where each year
one learns the relevant moadim at the appropriate times, plus *either*
Seder ha-Yom *or* Shabbos. The moadim are somewhat heavier in terms of
daily quantity (closer to two dapim-per-day) but are also reviewed more
frequently. Plus, they are already fully available in digital form,
edited and formatted for easier study:
* <http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:OH>

A similar schedule could be worked out to complete Yoreh Deah (403
simanim) in about two years along with the moadim. The combined Even
ha-Ezer and Choshen Mishpat could be completed in perhaps three years
(178+427=605 simanim), maybe four.

To conclude, the AHS Yomi cycle would allow a person to decide whether
he wants to learn Orach Chaim that year (choosing either Seder ha-Yom
or Shabbos), or Yoreh Deah. Or alternatively to choose a multi-year
cycle for Even ha-Ezer and Choshen Mishpat.

There is a further advantage to this: Not everyone who wants to learn
halachah according to the seder of the SA wants to study davka the
AHS. But the simanim in the AHS are the same as the SA, and very
similar in terms of their length (i.e. a long siman in the SA is long
in the AHS, etc.). So no matter what a person wants to study each day,
whether it is SA/Rema, Tur/BY, Mishnah Berurah, Levush, AHS, or
anything else that fits the seder of the SA, he could be accommodated
by the above study cycle. Why not make its appeal as wide as possible?
It could be the "Shulchan Aruch" study cycle, but with special
emphasis on the AHS.

Online version:

At this point the online version is available for most of Orach Chaim:
All of the moadim, most of Shabbos & Eruvin (about 3/4 complete), and
the beginning of Seder ha-Yom. Some significant parts of Yoreh Deah
are also done.

I believe that the online version will make the AHS a far easier book
to read and study. It will also make it more widely available, now
that it is accessible to all and can be used and distributed free for
any purpose, as well as continually corrected and improved.

When the current AHS Yomi cycle ends after this coming Shavuos, Orach
Chaim will be closer to completion IYH (I hope to finish Hilchos
Tefillah sometime around Pesach, and Shabbos may be already be close
to done by then by my co-contributer). By November, when the next
cycle is scheduled to start, all of Orach Chaim may be complete. This
would give people the chance to do daily study (regardless of how
cycle is arranged) with the digital version, and hopefully also
improve it along the way while they learn. Any ideas to make it more
useful could also be implemented as they cover Orach Chaim.

Everything I've written is, when all is said and done, impressions and
ideas. It would be great to get further ideas on Avodah about how to
give a push forward to the comprehensive study of halachah in general,
and the AHS in particular. Any and all ideas are welcome.


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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 09:42:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] slippery slope

On Wed, Jan 07, 2009 at 08:30:51PM +0200, Eli Turkel wrote:
: I still am confused if the objection to any change in halacha due to
: changed circumstances or just to those with a preceived femimist
: motivation.

Neither. I would say it changes with what the community can absorb
without real danger of fatally damaging the process that keeps us bound
to halakhah.

: As many have pointed out halacha constantly changes with circumstances.
: A famous case is Chanukah candles...

Feminism issues change lifestyle, redefine entire roles. It's of more
fundamental scope than whether we light outside near the door or by the
front window.

: It is interesting to note that I have seen opinions that someone on an
: upper floor should not light on the ground floor since that changes
: the custom of lighting inside!!! i.e. we dont abandon a custom of the
: last 1000 years for that of chazal

Qitniyos is also a minhag that defies Chazal. It is not like the topic
doesn't come up in the gemara. It's raised on Pesachim 114b and R Yochanan
ben Nuri is explicitly labeled a da'as yachid!

The problem is that if we allow a gap between the people and mimeticism
that proves to start a longer process, we will lose one of our greatests
tools (our greatest?) in perpetuating shemiras hamitzvos.

: If slippery slope applies only to "feminist" changes then we start
: analyzing the motives of people. Many women have objected strongly that
: their motives are to increase and display their
: spirituality and not for feminist reasons...

Both sides of this debate I think fail because they're being absolutist.
It's the desire for spirituality of a feminist. It's not necessarily
"in order to advance the feminist cause", and it's not spirituality
in the absence of feminism. It's that feminism was accepted as a value.
The world changed, and people live in that world. Given who they are now,
what can they do to be more spiritual, to better connect to the A-lmighty?

Is it to find new avenues of expression, or to learn how to roll
back applying feminism? (Altogether? To this aspect of their lives?)

I think that if the motive is to "display their spirtuality" or to
promote feminism as an end in itself, the discussion would be different.
However, I agree with RET about the countrproductiveness of simply
assuming negative motivation.

: Now changes in halacha become more of a political issue than the halachic
: poretz geder which seems to apply more to people who are conscientiously
: going against halakha such as not keeping yom tov sheni of galut

Actually, as I wrote after searching Ber Ilan's CD poreitz geder
appears to be a violation of minhag (e.g. MB OC 550:1) or even labeled
"bad behavior" (such as the mesacheiq bekubiyah case I brought from the
Tashbatz) that threatens to cause an unravelling of the whole minhag
system (as in the already quoted Leli Yaqar: "zehu inyan pesichas
hapesach shehizkarnu, she'al yedei hapesichah rabim boq'in bo...". It's
a variant of the slippery slope, but one in which an established minhag
was violated.

Which still allows one to ask whether the absence of these changes are a
"geder" or lo ra'inu eino ra'ayah before one can formally say "poreitz
geder [yinshechu nachash]".

However, the KY is clear that it is appropriate for a poseiq to not only
take into account the halachic merits of an issue, but also the question
of where it would lead. It's not always dismissable as "politics".

Tir'u baTov!

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

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 10:01:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] If I knew Him....

On Wed, Jan 07, 2009 at 09:21:00PM -0500, Yitzhak Grossman wrote:
:> T6...@aol.com wrote:
:>> I have heard it as "Ilu yadativ, hayisiv" -- "if I knew Him, I would be 
:>> Him."  Is that correct, and where does it come from?
: R. Y. Albo attributes it to "the wise man", so it's apparently not from
: Rambam, or he'd know that and say so.

In <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedaiah_ben_Abraham_Bedersi>, the
wikipedia entry on Yedaiah haBedersi (R' Yedaiah ben Avraham from
Beziers), they mention Isaac Husic's (Gratz College, d. 1939; translated
the Ikkarim and author of "A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy")
position that haBedersi was the chakham in question.

HaBedersi, in turn, wrote 37 chapter poem "Bechinas haOlam", after the
expulsion from France. He finds a spiritual connection to their treatment
of the Rambam's work. He concludes had this description of the Rambam:

    Finally, turn neither to the left nor to the right from all that the
    wise men believed, the chief of whom was the distinguished master
    Maimonides, of blessed memory, with whom no one can be compared from
    among the wise men who have lived since the close of the Talmud;
    then I shall be sure that thou, enriched with all the knowledge of
    religion and philosophy, wilt fear the Lord thy God.

So, it's quite likely that while the Rambam wasn't the Ikkarim's
"the wise man", my guess that it flowed from the Rambam's basic
Yodei'ah-Yadu'ah-Dei'ah unity is probably valid.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
mi...@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org         - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 10
From: "Micha Berger" <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 16:53:14 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Your Father Instructed that You Must Forgive Us

On Wed, January 7, 2009 4:11 pm, Zev Sero wrote:
: On the same topic (Yosef and his brothers):  What was the big
: revelation with "aval ashemim anachnu"?...

Perhaps it didn't need to be a revelation.

Compare their words to "aval anachnu chatanu", the vidui given in Hil'
Teshuvah 2:8. The Lechem Mishnah notes that the gemara in Yuma 87b
defines this as the essence of vidui, and Shemu'el only stood for
those three words.

Perhaps the whole point was the process of vidui.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
mi...@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 18:26:14 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Truth v Peace: The White Lie (J. Sacks)

On Wed, Jan 07, 2009 at 04:37:55PM -0800, Harvey Benton wrote:
: R. Jonathan Sacks (as brought down by R. Micha Berger):
:> Truth matters, but peace matters more.

: Pirkei Avot 1:18 says: R. Shimon ben Gamliel says the world is sustained
: on 3 things: Din, Emet, Shalom. Shenemar: Emet, Umishpat, Shalom ...
: In both of these 2 lists Shalom (Peace) is listed after both Din/Mishpat
: and Emet (Truth).
: If these 2 lists are described in their order of importance...

I don't think this assumption is teneble. After all, if RSbG thought the
order was significant, wouldn't he have placed din after emes, parallel
to mishpat's location in the pasuq?

However, you did remind me of something RMFeinstein explained to his
nephew (who married a cousin of mine, and therefore he had opportunity
to tell me).

RMF was not overly picky about giving out te'udot ishur to people who
claimed to be aniyim. Anyone who asked got a letter attesting to their
poverty. So his nephew asked what about emes? Is it fair to the people
he is going to collect from for them to see a piece of paper that doesn't
mean as much as they think it does?

The truth is there is a straightforward halachic origin to this
prioritization. But rather than cite rishonim, RMF referred to a different
pasuq. In the 13 middos, HQBH's actions are described as those of a
"Rav Chessed veEmes". Why does chessed come before emes?

Because we shouldn't get so caught up in the pursuit of the emes that
it reduces the chessed. Chessed comes first.

There RMF does assume order means priorization. Although it's chessed,
not shalom, that is placed ahear of emes.

Also, R' Shim'on says (Bereishis Rabb 8:5, see my translation at the
start of <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2008/04/geulah.shtml>) that to
resolve the warring mal'akhim, emes was thrown down, and peace was
knowingly ignored. Of the two, it's emes that was cast to the ground.
So it would seem peace plays a greater role in the running of things.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
mi...@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (270) 514-1507        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Message: 12
From: Celejar <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 20:39:40 -0500
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Play 'Women's Minyan' addresses blind

[Redirected here as per moderator request.]

On Wed, 7 Jan 2009 20:43:49 -0500, someone (on Areivim) cited this:

"In the Haredi way, the wife is supposed to bear a baby a year and make
a living for the family so the husband can study the Torah," Hefferon
said. "A woman is like a fruitful vine. It's her duty to bear children
and obey her husband at all times."


and objected to the assertion of the Haredi insistence on both duties
mentioned in the last sentence.

I responded:

Are you denying that it's a wife's duty to obey her husband, or that
there's an ethical imperative to have as many children as possible?  We
obviously don't live up to *any* of our ideals in all cases, but are you
denying that these *are* ideals?

[I know that a woman isn't commanded in Piryah Ve'Rivyah, and that it's
the man's obligation.]

After all, Rambam *does* write (Ishus 15:20):

"And so have our Sages commanded that a woman honor her husband
extraordinarily, and his fear should be upon her, and she should
perform all her actions according to his will ("al piv"), and he should
be in her eyes like a noble or king, she goes according to the desire
of his heart and distances all that he dislikes (or "hates")."

See my discussion of related matters here:


I am not claiming that this is necessarily exactly what we should be
advocating as the contemporary norm; I am merely pointing out that
there *are* such notions in the sources.

Of course, you can always argue for Islamic influence on Rambam's
thought, a la Shaul Maggid, for example:

"I, too, have sensed the Islamic influence on Maimonides, especially
when reading his works with Muslim colleagues. Once, when discussing
passages from The Guide for the Perplexed and Mishneh Torah, a Muslim
scholar insisted that Maimonides' positions were "pure Islam" and that
"Ibn Maimun" -- as he is known in Arabic -- "is a small 'm' Muslim,"
citing chapter and verse of thinkers Maimonides never mentions.

The fact that Maimonides cites some Islamic sources, especially the
philosopher Abu Nasar al-Farabi (c. 870-950), is well known. More
subtle is the way even his ostensibly Jewish positions, and the methods
he uses to reach them, appear to be taken, sometimes verbatim, from the
Muslim tradition. One of Maimonides' great theological innovations, for
example, was his Thirteen Principles of Faith, a list of Judaism's
central beliefs. As Judaism is a religion founded on law and not on
belief per se, no such creed had been attempted before. But the notion
of principles, or pillars, of faith had existed for some time in Islam,
and Kraemer contends that several of Maimonides's specific articles of
faith -- including the first (God's existence), second (divine unity)
and particularly the third (God is not a corporeal being) -- reflect
the influence of such Islamic thinkers as al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn
Tumart, founder of the Almohad movement."

[Hat tip:

This is a rather provocative thesis, though.  I have proposed something
similar with regard to Abravanel, but merely in one particular area:


Bein Din Ledin - http://bdl.freehostia.com
A discussion of Hoshen Mishpat, Even Ha'Ezer and other matters

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Message: 13
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2009 22:12:13 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Care in reading a ketuba

Yitzhak Grossman wrote:

> A friend of mine points me to a discussion of the five letter name you
> mention in the work Hagor Ha'Efod (Mazkeres Gittin 69:7), available
> from HebrewBooks.org:
> http://hebrewbooks.org/8471 
> [p. 42 of the PDF]

Thank you.  That's a fascinating teshuvah, rich with cross-cultural
information, both about the differences between communities, and about
how aware various communities were of the existence of these differences.

1. Can Ashkenazim and Sefardim use each others' STaM?
2. Even though both STaM and gittin must be written properly, the reasons
are completely different, and that difference may lead to halachic
3. Different ways the sound "J" was written in Hebrew: In Rome it was
written gimel yud, while in Salonica it was written as a gimel with an
umlaut over it.
4. How many teshuvot quote Graetz?

Zev Sero                                     May the light of Chanukah
z...@sero.name                                brighten your life


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