Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 18

Thu, 22 Jan 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmo...@012.net.il>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 11:59:59 +0200
[Avodah] Suicide for atonement?

*Kiddushin(81b):[[ *Every time R. Hiyya b. Abba fell upon his face6 he 
used to say, 'The Merciful save us from the Tempter.' One day his wife 
heard him. 'Let us see,' she reflected, 'it is so many years that he has 
held aloof from me: why then should he pray thus?'7 One day, while he 
was studying in his garden, she adorned herself and repeatedly walked up 
and down before him. 'Who are you?' he demanded. 'I am Harutha,8 and 
have returned to-day,' she replied. He desired her. Said she to him, 
'Bring me that pomegranate from the uppermost bough.' He jumped up, 
went, and brought it to her. When he re-entered his house, his wife was 
firing the oven, whereupon he ascended and sat in it.[*to kill himself 
-- Rashi*] 'What means this?' she demanded. He told her what had 
befallen. 'It was I,' she assured him; but he paid no heed to her until 
she gave him proof.9 'Nevertheless,' said he, 'my intention was evil.'
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Message: 2
From: Rael Levinsohn <ralevins...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:50:51 +1100
[Avodah] long hair and tefillin


There is an issue raised by the poskim that having long hair is a
chatizah with regards to tefillin.

See the following secondary sources:

Notes on the Mishna Berura by R'Yosef Rimon:

The Weekly Halacha by R'Daniel Neustadt:

Lettings ones hair grow long a shiur by R'Aharon Lichtenstein:

Shiur by R'Eytan Weisberg


A couple of questions:

1) What about the issue of the nazir, surely he had long hair and yet
had to put on tefillin? Asides from the nazir, was it not common in
biblical times to have long hair and in more contemporary times rabbis
like the Rogachover Gaon and the Chatam Sofer had long hair?
2) In halacha everything has a "shiur", has anyone seen any
measurements of what is considered long hair?

My understanding:

My understanding is that the issue being spoken of is a comb over,
where the hair from the back of the head (ie hair that is growing from
a position that you cannot place the tefillin shel rosh is pulled to
the front). I would assume it is not an issue if the hair is long in
the front, provided that the hair is from a position where you can
place tefillin. Eg this picture:
http://images.buycostumes.com/mgen/merchandiser/10750.jpg would be an
example of a chatzitzah case

Looking forward to peoples comments. I have been reading as a lurker
for a long time, you people are fantastic, keep up the great work!



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Message: 3
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 18:59:04 -0500
[Avodah] Interruption in Narrative by Shemos 7:14 - 30

RSRH gives brilliant insight as to why the 
narrative dealing with Moshe's mission to Pharaoh 
is interrupted by pesukim 7:14 - 30.  Part of 
what he wrote is below. The entire commentary on 
these pesukim is at 


Let us now consider this genealogical register. It is not limited to
the lineage of Moshe and Aharon; rather, it briefly outlines the two
preceding tribes. So, too, in the tribe of Moshe and Aharon, the register
shows not only their direct lineage, but also the side branches: uncles
and cousins, great uncles and second cousins. Thus, we are shown the
relationship of their tribe with the preceding ones, and the relationship
of their family and house with the families and houses of relatives, in
previous generations and among contemporaries. We are also told the
advanced age reached by their father and their grandfather, which shows
us that not much time separated their demise from the rise of Moshe
and Aharon. Then, pointing to these two in the midst of this wide circle
of family and friends, Scripture repeatedly says: ?these were the same
Moshe and Aharon? ? on the day that God spoke to them! (see vv.

If we further consider the point at which we are given this list of
their lineage and family relations, we can perhaps come to understand
the significance and purpose of all this information.

Until now, the efforts of Moshe and Aharon have been completely
frustrated. Were it not for later events, there would be no need for such
an exact list of their lineage and family relations. Now, however, begins
their triumphal mission, the likes of which no mortal had ever accomplished
before them or will ever accomplish after them. Now it is of
critical importance to present an exact list of their lineage and relations,
so as to attest thereby for all time to come that their origin was ordinary
and human, and that the nature of their being was ordinary and human.
Right from the earliest times it has happened that men who were
outstanding benefactors to their people were, after their death, divested
of their human image and, because of their ?godlike? feats, were invested
with a ?Divine? origin. We all know of a certain Jew, in later times,
whose genealogical record was not available, and because it was not
available, and because he brought people a few sparks of light borrowed
from the man Moshe, he came to be considered by the nations as begotten
of God; to doubt his divinity became a capital crime.

Our Moshe was human, remained human, and will never be anything
but human. When his countenance had already become radiant
from what he was allowed to see of God; when he had already brought
down the Torah from Heaven, and had already miraculously led the
people through the wilderness and won for them victories of God, God
here commanded him to present his genealogical record and thereby
affirm the fact that b'yom diber Hashem el Moshe 
b'eretz Mitzraim (v. 28), on the day that
God first spoke to Moshe in the land of Egypt, everyone knew his
parents and grandparents, his uncles and aunts and all his cousins. They
knew his whole lineage and all his relatives. For eighty years they had
known him as a man of flesh and blood, subject to all the failings and
weaknesses, worries and needs, of human nature, a man like all the
other men among whom he had been born and 
raised.  ? they were flesh and blood like all
other men, and God chose them to be His instruments in the performance
of His great work; they were flesh and blood like all other men,
and they carried out His great work.

This ?certificate of origin? is meant to negate in advance and forevermore
any erroneous deification, any illusion of an incarnation of
Deity in human form. It is meant to uphold this truth: Moshe, the
greatest man of all time, was just a man, and the position he attained
before God was not beyond the reach of mortal human beings.
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Message: 4
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 19:52:08 -0500
Re: [Avodah] tehillim at night

R' Eli Turkel:.
Birkei Yosef also brings the Ari that one shouldn't learn mikrah at
night except for thursday and friday night(?) (or hashishi)


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Message: 5
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopin...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 22:07:25 -0500
[Avodah] Mitzvah to visit a friend?

The MB in OC 531:4 writes that it's assur to leave EY for a visit, unless he
left to earn money or to visit a friend, which are considered dvar mitzvah.
I can understand earning money, since you need to put food on the table, and
that obligation has many sources, such as kesuba, lo saamod al dam reiacha,
etc. etc. But what's the mitzvah to visit a friend?

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Message: 6
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 01:25:58 EST
Re: [Avodah] Titles Before Names


From: "Jay F Shachter" <j...@m5.chicago.il.us>

>> The schools really need to teach girls more Talmud.

The  Talmudic titles Rabban, Rabbi, Rav, and Mar all precede the name.

Micha  Berger has already sarcastically suggested that maybe the
western language  (he changed "European" to "western" when making his
sarcastic comment) was  Greek.  But in fact, even in the Torah you can
find titles that precede  the name.  <<

Yes, RMB also pointed out that the Tannaim and Amoraim are referred to as  
Rabbi Ploni.  In the time of the Mishna and Gemara, Jews certainly had  
extensive contact with Greek and Latin.
Nevertheless Moshe Rabeinu, Avraham Avinu, Eliyahu Hanavi and so on are  
normal, standard old Hebrew, requiring no special drush to "explain" why the  name 
precedes the title.
I can also think of a couple of examples to support what you say, that  the 
title can precede the name in Tanach -- e.g., "Hamelech Dovid zaken ba  
bayamim."  So scratch the "foreign influence" theory.

--Toby  Katz


**************A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy 
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Message: 7
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <r...@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 15:07:12 GMT
Re: [Avodah] le Dovid

REli Turkel wrote:

<< Interestingly RYBS says that the difference between the customs of 
saying le-Dovid after minchah or maariv revolves exactly about this 
question. Is it an extra saying of tehillim which is not appropriate at night or is it part of the tefillah which can include pirkei tehillim>>

RZev Sero responded: 
<Or is the difference that in Ashkenaz they often davened Maariv before
dark?  In any event, I assume that it originally started as amirat
tehillim, and only later became part of seder hatefillah.>

    The origin of saying L'David ori are murky, so it's hard to say how it
    started and how it subsequently developed.	Lam'natzeiach in the beis
    aivel, though, is an interesting phenomenon.  It began as a S'faradi
    custom said before Ma'ariv.  The Ashk'nazim borrowed the practice, but
    changed the time.  It would thus seem that they b'davka wanted it after


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

Click here to compare top medical billing products, get demos, and quotes.

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Message: 8
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 11:36:06 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Is Smoking Mutar?

Arie Folger wrote:

> This problem is dealt with by looking at the cumulative statistics and the 
> chance of reversing the negative effects by changing habits.
> Except that ushmartem meod lenafshotekhem is not obligatory where shomer 
> petaim haShem applies. In other words, risks that are acceptable in society 
> are not considered sufficiently dangerous. Smoking is nowadays considered 
> unacceptably dangerous, and to a [much] lesser extent, living in highly 
> poluted areas. Being a police officier or fireman, while dangerous, is not 
> considered unacceptable societally (noch git; can you imagine a society 
> without them? Only in moshiach's tzeiten).
> Eating oneself into obesity is slowly becoming unacceptable, and dieting may 
> hence become halakhicly obligatory for some.
> KNLAD to understand R' Bleich's then statement.

I still don't understand the basis for what seems like a reversal of
R Bleich's position as he published it.  IIRC he explained his position
then as based on the fact that all the examples the gemara gives for
"venishmartem" are of immediate dangers.  Therefore we have no basis to
forbid acts that merely add to the probability that one will die a little
earlier, many years down the road.  I don't understand how tipping that
probability from 49% to 51% changes anything; we still don't have any
basis in the gemara for supposing that "venishmartem" applies to such an

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

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 13:38:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Is Smoking Mutar?

In calculating the added risk caused by smoking a cigarette one must
take into account the fact that it's addictive. Thus the risk of one
cigarette is not only that of the cigarette itself. By smoking, one
continues and enhances the addiction. Future cigerettes and their risk
become more probable. and that too is part of the life expectancy risk
associated with the current decision. No one would be smoking their
3,000th cigarette if they didn't try their first. Or if they would have
stopped after their 2,000th.

It's not just about cumulative effect; it's that the decisions beimg
made aren't independent.

I don't know if halkhah recognized such second order effects.

Tir'u baTov!

PS: I'm leaving for vacation. (This is typed on a blackberry while
already on the road.) If you see delays in Avodah moderationg between
now and Thus (ve'ad bochlal) that could be why.

Micha Berger             Feeling grateful  to or appreciative of  someone
mi...@aishdas.org        or something in your life actually attracts more
http://www.aishdas.org   of the things that you appreciate and value into
Fax: (270) 514-1507      your life.         - Christiane Northrup, M.D.

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Message: 10
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 21:07:02 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Is Smoking Mutar?

"ushmartem meod lenafshotekhem"

Correction: V'nishmartem

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 11
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 15:15:58 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Smoking and Other Sakanas

I just learned , that Jonathan Pollard (Hashem should Help) has been eating
lots of tuna (and sardines) in jail in his attempt to keep kosher.? This
has been to his physical detriment and is causing him health problems due
to higher than normal mercury levels.? Should he stop eating fish (and eat
the non-kosher food provided) because of RLexpectancy??? HB
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Message: 12
From: Cantor Wolberg <cantorwolb...@cox.net>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 19:48:52 -0500

> Rabbi Chaim Brisker pointed out that there are two types of zealots  
> - one praiseworthy and one not.
> They can be compared to a housewife and a cat. The housewife and the  
> cat both want to rid the
> house of mice. There is only one difference: the housewife hopes  
> there will never be another mouse to
> eliminate; the cat is hopeful that there will be many more mice.  We  
> must emulate the housewife so that 				   
>						WE  
> don?t turn into cats (or mice).

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Message: 13
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:16:36 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] obligation? to take medicine or exercise?

RAF: Eating oneself into obesity is slowly becoming unacceptable, and dieting may 
hence become halakhicly obligatory for some.

HB: Is one halachically required to take medicine??Similar question here;
can one be obligated halachically to DO something (as opposed to being
forbidden to do something) like excercise? or for instance to extricate
oneself from a dangerous situation? -- like a battlefield?? Not
discussed?previously are coal-miner or other industrial jobs that?can
expose one to carcinogens, and percentage wise RLexpectancy?? Are they
considered socially acceptable???
Also, when would Shomer Petaim?Hashem apply in these cases, a(nd when not)?? ? HB
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Message: 14
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 23:35:26 +0200
[Avodah] le-dovid

> Interestingly RYBS says that the difference between the customs of
> saying le-Dovid after minchah or maariv revolves exactly about this
> question. Is it an extra saying of tehillim which is not appropriate at
> night or is it part of the tefillah which can include pirkei tehillim

Zev writes
<<Or is the difference that in Ashkenaz they often davened Maariv
before dark?  In any event, I assume that it originally started as
tehillim, and only later became part of seder hatefillah.>>

Obviously Zev is not a Brisker. RYBS would never accept an answer that
it depended on circumstances. His whole approach was to explain why
different customs were based on different conceptual approaches.
I highly recommend the article by RAL conceptual approach to learning
in the orthodox forum
(available on line or I have a pdf version)

Eli Turkel

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Message: 15
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 12:42:24 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Davening after the Zman

I recently found myself davening Mincha late.  I noticed the time only after I
had already started to daven Shemone Esreh, and didn't know wether to
continue or not.  To continue I thought, would possibly involve brachos
levatala?  (I ended up finishing the Shemone Esreh).? What should I have done??
Are there any possible aveiros associated with davening a prayer after the Zman?
 For instance, if one davens Shacharis at midnight is there a problem?  

>>Avodah (v4 no.2; Pre-Midnight Selichos Ramblings) 
Sammy Ominsky: Funny, I learned just this morning that (at least according to
R' Ovadiah Yosef) if one is praying after the z'man, one would not say
p'sukei d'zimra (or most of it anyway), as they have the same z'man
as tephilah itself. Again, as usual, I'm at work, so no sources

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Message: 16
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 16:30:35 +0000
Re: [Avodah] 'Al Hanisim


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"

Perhaps another illustration of acharonim Modifying minhag/nusach of rishonim?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 17
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 21:09:04 +0000
Re: [Avodah] tehillim on shabbat

FWIW Once upon a time we said tehillim on a Friday night @ Ner Israel Toronto for a young man thought to have had lung cancer.

Kt rrw
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

-----Original Message-----
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 08:17:20 
To: avodah<avo...@aishdas.org>
Cc: Toby Katz<T6...@aol.com>
Subject: [Avodah] tehillim on shabbat

The problem with tehillim on shabbat is that one is not supposed to ask for
personal requests on shabbat which why we dont say the regular shemonei esrei
on shabbat.
I asked a talmid chacham and he said that this case is considered
pikuach nefesh and is
permitted as would be saying tehillim for a very sick person.
BTW the same would apply to saying tehillim at night which would be permitted
even according to kabbalah for pikuach nefesh

Eli Turkel
Avodah mailing list

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Message: 18
From: Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 22:39:01 -0500
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Rakhel Immeinu and Gaza

On Thu, 22 Jan 2009 09:30:52 -0500
Zev Sero <z...@sero.name> wrote [on Areivim, cited with permission]:

> [Someone] wrote:
> > In addition, see R. Cherlow's assertion that this story involves 
> > "derisha el hametim" and is to be eschewed.
> > _http://www.ypt.co.il/show.asp?id=31179_ and write-up in Ynet - 
> > _http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3659660,00.html_]

> Sigh.  This contradicts an explicit Zohar, which you can find in the
> "Maaneh Lashon".  The "meitim" whom we may not seek out are the resha'im;
> tzadikim who have passed away are the "meitim shekvar meitu" whom Kohelet
> praises, and asking them to intercede for us, is minhag yisrael since Yosef
> and Kalev, and chas veshalom to claim that it is forbidden.

This is unfair.  There are major Poskim who have indeed invoked the
prohibition of doresh el ha'mesim against praying to the deceased to
intercede for us, e.g. Rav Haim Paltiel [0] and Hochmas Adam [1].

These sources are taken from this discussion:


[0] cited in Bah, YD end of 217
[1] 89:7, available here:


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


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