Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 15

Sun, 18 Jan 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 14:48:29 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Midrashim, Elu VeElu, and History

Harvey Benton wrote:
> 1. The concept of Elu VeElu Divrei Elokim Chaim is well known.  My
> question is how does it relate to historical (non-Halachic) Chazals's
> such as Midrashim, Gemmoras and Zohar's.  If competing Chazals present
> a historical description of events in different, non compatible ways,
> how do we then hold from Elu VeElu? 
> For instance Avraham coming with many men (gem. of Eliezer) v. Eliezer
> alone. Or which exact species was eaten in Gan Eden (Etrog, wheat,
> grape, etc.,).  Many such examples exist.	(Note: The gemmara (Shabbas
> 63b) does not say Elu VeElu Divrei Elokim Emes.)
For an extreme position see Michtav Me"Eliyahu III pp. 353-354.

David Riceman

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Message: 2
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 00:41:45 EST

From: Cantor Wolberg _cantorwolberg@cox.net_ (mailto:cantorwolb...@cox.net) 

The Chasam  Sofer asks why should all rabbis have the title of rabbi  
precede their  name, whereas with Moshe, his name preceded his title:  
Moshe Rabbeinu.  He answers that even before matan Torah, Moshe was the  
greatest of the  rabbis, whereas all the other rabbis are great only  
because of the  merit of the Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu taught, so  
that's why he was  Moshe Rabbeinu and not Rabbeinu Moshe. 

Well, it's a nice little vort, but "Moshe Rabbeinu" seems to follow the  
normal, natural rule of [old?] Hebrew:  Avraham Avinu, Yosef Hatzaddik,  Aharon 
Hakohen, Dovid Hamelech, Eliyahu Hanavi, Esther Hamalka, Yehuda Hanasi,  Saadya 
Gaon.  Name before title, regular rule.
I guess that the Chasam Sofer was not asking, "Why is Moshe's name first  and 
his title second?" but "Why do we nowadays put the title first and the name  
second?"  The obvious (at least to me) answer is that our Hebrew has been  
influenced by European languages.  

--Toby  Katz


**************A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy 
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Message: 3
From: "L. E. Levine" <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 05:44:07 -0500
[Avodah] ?I shall be what I will wish to be.?

The following is from the new translation of the 
commentary of RSRH to Chumash Shemos:

3: 14 Thereupon God said to 
Moshe:  Ehyeh  ahsher  Ehyeh  [I shall be that 
which I wish to be]! He said: This is what you 
shall say to the Children of Israel: ehyeh has sent me to you.

14 If I am to give an idea of Myself that will effect, in the person who has
understood it and become absorbed by it, decisive change, raising him
above and beyond all the other creatures and bringing him into direct,
intimate relationship to Me, then I will state My Name and say of Myself:
?I shall be what I will wish to be.?

All other beings are what they have to be; their existence is bound
up with the Will of the One Who alone can say ?I am? and also ?I shall
be what I will wish to be.? This Name expresses the personal, absolute,
and free nature of God. Inasmuch as God does not say here ?I am? but
?I shall be,? He stresses that the future is completely dependent on His
Will and is free of any other dependence. This Name gives expression
to the characteristic Jewish conception of God, an entirely new conception,
which is to be made known to mankind through Israel?s deliverance
from Egypt, and which eventually will bring about the redemption
of the whole world.

Non-Jewish thought conceives of God as, at most, the Cause of the
physical existence of the world, ever since it came into existence. Even
when this thought rises above viewing God as part of the world (immanence)
? a view that is tantamount to denial ? and recognizes His
existence beyond the world (transcendence), it still limits God?s work
to the past. At one single moment God was in touch with the world,
the moment in which the world was brought from the potential ?
God?s Power or Will ? into the realm of the actual, i.e., actual existence.
 From that moment ? according to this view ? God?s work, the world,
was completed. Everything, even the most distant future, is simply the
necessary result of the general order that was imprinted on the world
when it was founded.

According to this worldview, everything follows unchanging, fixed
laws, which, at most, once originated from the immense power of a
higher Source. Hence, only man, with his ? apparently ? free powers
of action can fashion an ? apparently ? new future. But how can it
be that God and the world are bound, and man is free?! To save the
honor of unfree, bound God, this view is forced to deny the freedom
of man. This freedom, this definite reality in the consciousness of every
human being, which contradicts the pagan view of the world and of
God, is therefore passed off as a delusion. Man is not free. What he
imagines to be his own free decisions are but the unconscious effects
of influences rooted in and arising from his past. And so, in heaven
and on earth, in the whole expanse of the universe, there is no one
who can say ?I shall be!? for no one can say ?I will wish to be!?

Ehyeh  ahsher  Ehyeh rises up against this delusion, the denial of the freedom
of God and of man, tears it down, and upholds the truth instead:
God, Who freely determines the future; and with Him, free man, whose
future is in his own hands.


These words ? Ehyeh  ahsher  Ehyeh? break man?s chains, the chains of
any other power, and set man upright and free in the service of God,
to build the future in partnership with God. Free man, obeying the free
God, rules the world for the sake of a future delineated by the free Will
of God. With every impression of godliness that man impresses on his
own inner world, with every such impression that he stamps on the
external world about him, man helps to build this future.

The guarantee that this future will ultimately be completely realized
lies in the fact that God, in His freedom, created the world for the sake
of this future. Hence, even seemingly antithetical conditions and events
must be leading to this one, sure and exalted goal. We express this
confidence in the recurring Kaddish avowal, which is woven into the
order of our prayers: Yisgadal v'yiskadash sh'mei 
rabbaw B'allmaw dee v'raw chir'usei,
?God?s great Name will be recognized in all its greatness and holiness in the
world which He Himself has created according to His free Will.? 
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Message: 4
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 21:25:27 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Smoking and Other Sakanas

R. Arie Folger wrote:
RZS wrote:
> IIRC R Bleich wrote an article many years ago arguing that there is no
> precedent for the claim that "venishmartem" applies to actions that pose
> no immediate danger, but only increase the probability of developing a
> disease at some time in the future. ?
Thus, whereas the 
first cigarette would not be assur on account of a direct piqua'h nefesh.. 

HB:? What exactly constitutes an immediate danger, or a direct pikuach
nefesh?? Is it 1 hour, 1?day, 1 week, 2 years, etc.?? What about having
unprotected relations (where one might CV die 7-10 years later from AIDS)??
If someone is marrying a non-betulah, do either or both of the parties have
to get checked for diseases before marriage?
R. Ari discussed living in a polluted city.? What about more
immediate?sakanas?like crime or terrorism?? Is one allowed to live in
Sderot (missiles), settlements, or even Crown Heights, NY, if crime levels
reach above a certain point?? What about driving on Israeli Roads where
there are numerous fatalities (more I believe than from terrorist
actions).? Other potentially (immediate) dangerous activities include
bungie jumping, motorcycle riding, etc.
Where and how do we assign percentages for sakana (R. Ari on living in a
pollouted city), and subsequently act on them?? Is a 50 percent sakana the
cutoff rate??And 50 percent of?what?? Dying in a day, a week or in 20
Finally, Chabad sent Shluchim back to Mumbai after what happened there.? Is
a heter required to be there (which?also would put others like a Shaliachs
family and or Shabbas guests in Sakana)?? What?would have?to happen (CV) so
that a makom would eventually obtain a chazaka of a makom sakana; which I
would assume would require immediate action to thereby leave.? HB
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Message: 5
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 22:24:15 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Is Smoking Mutar?

RArie Folger:
>In a personal communications when I took his contemporary halakhah course, R' 
Bleich opined that we look at the cumulative effect of toxic absorption to rule 
when one becomes obligated to shield oneself from exposure. Thus, whereas the 
first cigarette would not be assur on account of a direct piqua'h nefesh 
(though it may be assur on account of it being addictive and indirectly 
leading to danger), at some point, the cumulative intake of tobacco smoke will 
halakhicly compel the smoker to quit.

HB: I don't quite follow the logic of R. Bleich's psak.? The smoker must
quit halachically on what grounds?? If not for a direct pikuach nefesh then
for what?? Because of reduced life expectancy (as RAFolger below)?? But
even in cases of ?reduced life expectancy (RLE),??can?we say that any one
individual cigarrette contributes enough halachically to a 
RLE, and is therefor assur??
>The same goes for living in a poluted city. 

>(snip) .... one would have a 20% chance of dying a year early, this would 
not be actionable, as 20% is smaller than 50%. If OTOH, after 20 years living 
there, one would reach a 50% chance of a significantly reduced life expectancy 
(significant being in the eyes of society IIRC), then the chap would have to?move to a clean air sanctuary.

HB: The same logic should apply to heavy drinkers (liver damage), high
cholesterol individuals, and overweight Yidden.?Is the above 50 percent a
halachically mandated number????Would?one have to put down?a hamburger and
french fries NOW, because of what may happen in 20 or 30 years?? And would
any halacha be applied to only NOT doing something (e.g. smoking, drinking
or eating) or would the same halacha mandate us to DO something active,
like exercising?to lose weight.??
Finally, are certain professions like firemen, policemen, or career
soldiers, not permitted because of RLExpectancy?? Or must the chances of a
RLE be above 50 percent for any halacha to kick in?? HB
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Message: 6
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 20:11:03 -0500
[Avodah] Our Attitude towards Segulos

The following is from 
This article appeared some time ago in the Hamodia.

This is a big file, so it will some time to download.

The Mezhbuzher Rav, Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel Bick, shlita :

[Segulos ] are nothing more than bubbe maasos, eitzas yetzer hara that
give people a license to spend money way beyond their means and then ask
for a yeshuah. All these formulae ? saying Shir Hashirim forty times, Tehillim
HaChida, etc. ? are methods used by the yetzer hara to take from us the little
[spirituality] we have left.

Prayer, on the other hand, is not a segulah ; 
prayer is a way of communicating with the Ribbono
shel Olam. When we use segulos to get what we 
want, it?s as if we are stealing something from Him,
something that is not rightfully ours. It reminds 
me of today?s Chinese auctions at charitable events.
Whereas women used to give charity without 
ulterior motives, they have now replaced their mitzvos
with Chinese auctions.

Now here is a man who speaks my language!!!!
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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 22:33:07 -0500
[Avodah] More On Segulos - Yated - The Kishke Segulah Parts I

Below are two links to articles about Segulos that appeared in the 
Yated this past June.

Part I is at


Part II is at


Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 8
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 12:06:06 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Our Attitude towards Segulos

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> I find myself incapable of understanding why the Borei
> would create other forces that simply get in the way of
> the tachlis of the beri'ah. Physical forces are tools
> by which bechirah makes sense -- I can accomplish things
> and plan (at least statistically) ahead only because the
> world follows patterns of behavior. Metaphysical forces
> lack that role.

Here are two (perhaps interrelated) suggestions:

1) These forces enhance our bechira. You can't have white magic (nissim)
unless black magic exists also. And segulos exist in both types - donations
invoking R Meir Baal Hanes tends to reveal lost objects, and stepping on
cut fingernails tends to cause miscarriages.

2) You mention statistics, and (predictable) patterns of behavior. It seems
to me that metaphysical forces may exist precisely to remind us that we
don't have it all figured out yet. Bring a radio transmitter and receiver
back in time a few hundred years, and ask them if this force is physical or

Akiva Miller

Click here for free info on Graduate Degrees.

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Message: 9
From: "Chanoch (Ken) Bloom" <kbl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 19:06:01 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Age of "Ancient" Minhagim

On Fri, 2009-01-16 at 00:09 -0500, Michael Poppers wrote:
> (Still way behind in digest reading, so please excuse me if this
> thought has already been mentioned in a recent digest.)
> In Avodah Digest V26#3, RYG noted:
> > The widespread custom of the bride and groom not seeing each other
> for the week before the wedding is apparently of quite recent origin.
> <
> An "ancient"-minhag favorite :( of mine: b'nei mitzva not wearing a
> talis [gadol] until they're ba'alei batim (i.e. married). Not only is
> it a relatively-recent phenomenon that many take for granted nowadays,
> but it's downright improper (e.g. see BH 17:4, quoted in MB 17:10, as
> well as MhSh ad loc.) in an era when most parents can afford to buy
> taleisim for their sons (and do purchase talisei qatan for those sons
> even years prior to age 13 mishum chinuch).

The source for this minhag is the Maharil, darshening the juxtaposition
of "Gedilim ta'aseh l'cha" (Devarim 22:12) with "ki yikach ish
ishah" (Devarm 22:13). If that's recent, then I'd be hard pressed to
find an Ashkenazi minhag that isn't recent. 


Ken (Chanoch) Bloom. PhD candidate. Linguistic Cognition Laboratory.
Department of Computer Science. Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Message: 10
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:31:03 +0200
[Avodah] schechinah in the west

There is one opinion in the gemara that the schechina is in the west

1. What does that mean versus the opinion that the schechina is everywhere
which seems to be more obvious

2. What is west for me is east (or north or south) for someone else.
Thus, not putting certain types of activities to the west of the city may be
to the east of some other city and vice-versa

Eli Turkel

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Message: 11
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 18:59:48 +0200
[Avodah] tehillim at night

what is the origin of the custom of not saying tehillim at night?
The question arose for those that volunteered to say certain tehillim for
the welfare of the soldiers.
What does one do on shabbat?
Some say not to say tehillim as a request on shabbat and others do not
say it on motzei shabbat. Doesn't leave much time in between

Eli Turkel
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Message: 12
From: "Stuart Feldhamer" <stuart.feldha...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:45:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] sheimos

I can't answer your questions, but I had the same experience once when
reading the book "Understanding Comics" in the bathroom. The shaim Hashem
all of a sudden jumped out at me and I was at a loss as for what to do.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: avodah-boun...@lists.aishdas.org [mailto:avodah-
> boun...@lists.aishdas.org] On Behalf Of Steven J Scher
> Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:27 PM
> To: Avodah List
> Subject: [Avodah] sheimos
> ok.  so, as I usually do when I get into my office, I picked up a copy
> of
> the student newspaper, and retreated to the rest room.
> imagine my surprise when I opened the paper and saw the editorial
> cartoon
> about israel.... no, I wasn't surprised that it was about israel, what
> i
> was surprised about was that it included correctly drawn hebrew
> characters.
> upon closer look, I realized that among the characters were
> yud-key-vav-key...
> this raises several halachic dilemmas (dilemmae??):
> 1) what do I do about the fact that I now have sheimos in a bathroom?
> I
> couldn't exactly get up and walk right out.
> 2) what is my obligation with this paper and, more importantly, with
> all
> the other copies that I see lying around?  Do I have to try and pick up
> as
> many as I can to dispose of properly?  Do I have to seek them out, or
> can
> I just get the ones I happen to see in improper places (e.g., the
> floor,
> etc) and dispose of them properly...
> and, for a question without torah emphasis: does the chevra think its
> worth writing a letter to the editor to the paper to complain about
> this?
> - steve
> ps - I did a quick search on the cartoonist.  he is israeli born,
> american
> educated, getting a master's in art here at eastern illinois
> university.
> that explains his command of hebrew, but raises other questions about
> his
> position vis-a-vis the war.
> ***********************************************************************
> ****
> Steven J. Scher              sjsc...@eiu.edu         Listen to WEFT
> 90.1FM
> Department of Psychology     217-581-7269            www.weft.org
> Eastern Illinois University
> Charleston, IL 61920         I would discuss the holy books with the
> learned
> USA                          men seven hours every day.  That would be
> the
>                               sweetest thing of all...
> _______________________________________________
> Avodah mailing list
> Avo...@lists.aishdas.org
> http://lists.aishdas.org/listinfo.cgi/avodah-aishdas.org

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Message: 13
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 12:08:47 -0500
Re: [Avodah] schechinah in the west

Eli Turkel wrote:
> There is one opinion in the gemara that the schechina is in the west

One opinion?  Is there another one?

> 1. What does that mean versus the opinion that the schechina is everywhere
> which seems to be more obvious

Is this a contradictory opinion, or something entirely different?  I've
never heard of them contrasted.

> 2. What is west for me is east (or north or south) for someone else.
> Thus, not putting certain types of activities to the west of the city may be
> to the east of some other city and vice-versa

It's the direction, not some particular location.  The only specific
location where the shechinah can be said to be in a way that it isn't
elsewhere is the BHMK.  Which is indeed west of Bavel, where the gemara
was written.  That is *part* of what that idea meant, for the inhabitants
of Bavel.  In Bavel the sun-worshipping pagans all prayed to the east,
while Jews turned our backs on their AZ and prayed towards the shechinah,
which is stronger than the sun (see below).

But it's not restricted to that meaning; long before Jews came
to Bavel, in the BHMK itself and in the Mishkan before it, the heichal
and kodesh hakodashim were in the west.

Ultimately it's got to do with the fact that even though the natural
direction in which all the stars and planets rotate is to the east (i.e.
both the general movement of the universe through the night sky, and the
individual movement of the planets, except for a very few "retrograde"
ones that go west), they are forced (by the daily rotation of the earth)
to move west and bow to the shechinah.  

Zev Sero                    A mathemetician is a device for turning coffee
z...@sero.name               into theorems.                   - Paul Erdos

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Message: 14
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 16:23:30 -0500

On Sun, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:41:45AM -0500, T6...@aol.com wrote:
: I guess that the Chasam Sofer was not asking, "Why is Moshe's name first  and 
: his title second?" but "Why do we nowadays put the title first and the name  
: second?"  The obvious (at least to me) answer is that our Hebrew has been  
: influenced by European languages.  

Ummm... "Rabbi Aqiva"? From what western languaage, Greek?

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 15
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 16:26:01 -0500
Re: [Avodah] tehillim at night

Eli Turkel wrote:
> what is the origin of the custom of not saying tehillim at night?

The kepeida is not just on tehillim but on any torah shebichtav.  Al pi
kabalah, from dark until midnight one should learn only torah sheb'al peh.
The parts of TSBK that are in davening are not counted, because they're
not there as torah but as tefilah, which is OK.  But tehillim-saying is
a form of limud hatorah, so it's not appropriate at night before midnight,
unless it's an emergency.

> What does one do on shabbat?

The whole thing doesn't apply on Shabbat, which is why it's OK to be maavir
sedra on Friday night.

Zev Sero                    A mathemetician is a device for turning coffee
z...@sero.name               into theorems.                   - Paul Erdos


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