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Volume 26: Number 37

Tue, 17 Feb 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 07:54:12 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Stature of Moshe Rabbeinu

At 10:28 PM 2/15/2009, T6...@aol.com wrote:
>He may have mentioned Wessely in The Nineteen 
>Letters, but not likely in his commentary on 
>Chumash.  If you can find a place in the Hirsch 
>Chumash that mentions Wessely by name please let 
>me know where, thanks.  Your Britannica citation 
>shows Wessely to have been a modernizer and 
>perhaps proto-maskil but does not show that Hirsch quoted him.
>In any case Wessely was not an actual Reformer 
>nor was he an advocate of the Documentary 
>Hypothesis since he lived before the Reform 
>movement and before Haskala (though in some ways 
>he could be considered a forerunner of Reform 
>and Haskalah). He died in 1805.  Hirsch would 
>probably not have considered him an 
>apikores.  Wessely was an observant Jew.  I 
>think he wrote part of Mendelssohn's Biur (on 
>Vayikra?) and unless I'm confusing him with 
>someone else, I think some people consider his 
>contributions to have been "frummer" than those 
>written by Mendelssohn himself.    As we have 
>many history scholars here among the 
>distinguished Avodah membership, perhaps someone 
>more knowledgeable than I am can weigh in here.
He mentions Wessely in his commentary on Vayikra 
11:3. "Wessely, too, in his Commentary on this 
verse, interprets it in this way."

Also in his commentary on 13:3 and 13:4. Indeed 
on 13:4 he writes  "Wessely?s interpretation here 
is the best among the interpretations of this verse."

In fact, Wessely is mentioned in a number of 
other places in RSRH's commentary on Vayikra.

>You are most probably correct when you say "In 
>any case Wessely was not an actual Reformer nor 
>was he an advocate of the Documentary Hypothesis 
>since he lived before the Reform movement and 
>before Haskala (though in some ways he could be 
>considered a forerunner of Reform and 
>Haskalah)." Clearly RSRH did not consider hiim a reformer.

>The following is from the Jewish Encyclopedia 
>http://tinyurl.com/cus7yu  Clearly Wessely was a 
>person surrounded by controversy.  YL

Wessely was an ardent advocate of the educational 
and social reforms outlined in Emperor 
JosephII.'s "Toleranzedict." He even risked his 
reputation for piety by publishing a manifesto in 
eight chapters, entitled "Dibre Shalom we-Emet," 
in which he emphasized the necessity for secular 
instruction, as well as for other reforms, even 
from the points of view of the Mosaic law and the 
Talmud. This work has been translated into French 
as "Instructions Salutaires Adress?es aux 
Communaut?s Juives de l'Empire de Joseph II." 
(Paris, 1792); into Italian by Elia Morpurgo 
(Goerz, 1793); and into German by David 
Friedl?nder under the title "Worte der Wahrheit 
und des Friedens" (Berlin, 1798). By thus 
espousing the cause of reform, as well as by his 
support of Mendelssohn, Wessely incurred the 
displeasure of the rabbinical authorities of 
Germany and Poland, who threatened him with 
excommunication. His enemies, however, were 
finally pacified through the energetic 
intervention of the Italian rabbis, as well as by 
Wessely's pamphlets "Me or en," in which he gave 
evidence of his sincere piety. In 1788 Wessely 
published in Berlin his ethical treatise "Sefer 
ha-Middot," a work of great moral worth. He 
published also several odes; elegies, and other 
poems; but his masterwork is his "Shire Tif'eret" 
(5 vols.; i.-iv., Berlin, 1782-1802; v., Prague, 
1829), describing in rhetorical style the exodus 
from Egypt. This work, through which he earned 
the admiration of his contemporaries, was 
translated into German (by G. F. Hufnagel and 
Spalding; 1789-1805), and partly into French (by 
Michel Berr; Paris, 1815). His commentaries on 
the Bible were published by the society Me i e 
Nirdamim (Lyck, 1868-75) under the title "Imre Shefer."

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Message: 2
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 22:14:46 +0200
[Avodah] bittul

<<It's not for nothing that Chazal, and l'havdil the FDA, accept the
notion of bittul. There is no danger (physical or spiritual) from
those few parts per
million of extra organic matter. The only halachic concern is because a
berya is not battel. >>

Which leads to the question whether bittul is lechatchila or beidieved.
I assume that if we know that a piece of treif meat fell in a pot with
60 kosher pieces many people would forgo the steak even though
halachically it is kosher because of bittul. There are even shitot
that one can eat all 61 pieces (not at once) since each is a safek.
Again I assume many would forgo that privelege.

Thus, if one was sure that there were pieces of bugs in ones food but
they were battel would everyone say that one can eat it lechatchila or
would some say that there is at least a minhag chassidut not to eat

To put it another way if there are 2 hasgachot available on an item,
one uses bittul in their hasgacha and the other one doesn't is there
any reason to prefer the more "machmir" hasgacha ?

Eli Turkel

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Message: 3
From: Shlomo Pick <pic...@mail.biu.ac.il>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 23:44:35 +0200
[Avodah] hirsch and wessely

R. Naphtali Herz Weisel (Wessely) was the first to author a commentary that
explained the connection between Torah shebeKtav and and Torah sheba?alPeh.
He did this in the Biur on Vayikra, and was the first to have done so,
blazing the trail for R. Mecklenburg to do so in his Ktav veKabbalah
(1839).  The latter quoted Wessely extensively with the abbreviation RN?U =
R. Naphtali Weisel.  [Dayan Grunfeld in his introduction to the Hirsch
Chummash, vol. breishis, 2nd ed. 1971, p. x, discussed the development of
this type of commentary but unfortunately omitted Wessely?s primary
commentary of this genre.]

Hirsch quoes him in his commentary to Avot, I,1, i.e. right at the beginning
of his peirush (Hirsch siddur, [feldheim 1972], p. 416.

And for all the doubters out there, in hirsch?s commentary to lev. 13, 3,
(p, 332 of the judaica press, 1971, 2nd ed., vol 1 of lev. ) Hirsch quotes
Wessely and I assume there are more places also.

I have a report from an ?migr? from FFaM, who recounted that Hirsch would
quote Mendelsohn, as he did in his 19 letters, and his chummash was studied.
When hirsch?s son-in-law took over, with a strong Hungarian influence, the
mendelsohn commentary became prohibited. I would presume that the same
happened to Wessely. Concerning Wessely?s activities in the haskalah, see M.
Eliav?s volume (his phd actually) Hachinuch haYehudi beGermania (Jerusalem,
1961) [Hebrew] which gives an extensive account including the bans upon him,
the removal the approbations to his Avot commentary, quoted by Hirsch as
noted above.

Hope this adds to your understanding.

Shlomo Pick




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Message: 4
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 15:17:50 -0500
[Avodah] More on the Stature of Moshe Rabbeinu According to

The following is from RSRH's commentary on Bamidbar 10: 31 - 32

10: 31 But he said: Please do not leave us! For I 
am asking this because you are familiar with the 
places of our camping in the wilderness and you
can serve us as eyes.

10: 32  If you go with us, it shall be that the 
same good that God in His goodness will do for us, we will do for you.

This request that Moshe made of his father-in-law and recorded for
all time is of great importance, for the request that his father-in-law
should help them with his judgment and with his knowledge of the
terrain can bring us to a correct evaluation of Moshe?s mission.

As we have already seen (Shemos 18:13-27), Yisro?s organizational
advice proves that Moshe did not have the organizational skills required
of a state-building lawmaker. Likewise, the fact related here refutes all
the idle chatter about Moshe?s knowledge of the ways of the wilderness,
according to which the Divine wonder of our journeying in the wilderness
is merely the result of clever and shrewd leadership. Moshe, who
needed the advice of his father-in-law in order to organize the judicial
system and to make proper arrangements for the camps, and recorded
both of these instances for everlasting memory among his people ?
this man could not have led his people and given it Torah on his own;
he could have accomplished it only as the instrument of God. He would
have been the very last person to ascribe to himself a halo of superhuman
insight and miraculous power (cf. Commentary, Shemos 18:24). 
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Message: 5
From: D&E-H Bannett <db...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 23:01:53 +0200
Re: [Avodah] The Stature of Moshe Rabbeinu

Re:  RnTK's comment that <<Wessely was an observant Jew. I 
think he wrote part of Mendelssohn's Biur (on Vayikra?) >>

R' Naftali Hertz Wiesel, (a.k.a., Hartwig Wessely, both rav 
and poet) wrote the Biur for Vayikra.  It is a most 
fascinating peirush. I reread at least parts of it every 
year. The Biur on Shemot and part of Breishit were written 
by R' Shlomo Dubno and are also top quality.  R' Shlomo also 
wrote the Tikkun Sofrim, masoretic comments on these two 
chumashim, an excellent job even if Prof. R' Menahem Cohen, 
of reconstituted Keter fame, shows that, in removing 
incorrect metagim according to Ohr Torah's shita, Dubno 
removed the wrong ones.


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Message: 6
From: Steven J Scher <sjsc...@eiu.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 16:06:09 -0600 (CST)
[Avodah] Stature of Moshe Rabbenu


> 24 Nothing could be more instructive than this information regarding the
> first State institution of the Jewish people, coming just before the chapter
> on the Lawgiving. Moshe?s stature as a lawmaker was so small, and his
> talent for organizing was so inadequate, that he had to learn the basics
> of state organization from his father-in-law.

In his drash this shabbos, R'Max Davis identified Moshe Rabbenu's 
acceptance of Yisro's advice as a prime example of MR's humility.

He went on to say that the fact that he adopted this idea (from cohen 
midyan, no less) was an intentional display.

(What follows is basically my interpretation of R'Davis' drash injected 
with my ideas.  Anything good in it can be attributed to R'Davis, but not 
anything bad):

What was the intention of the Torah here?  To convey the mida of humility. 
Its not that MR COULDN'T have come up with the system of delegating 
authority.  But, that would not have effectively communicated the message.

Furthermore, it seems to me that this system also reinforces the idea of 
lo bashamayim hi and lo sasur.  Would this message have been as effective 
if Moshe had simply instigated the system of judges himself?

We may have seen that the authority of bes din and the 
authority to pasken rested only with those designated directly by MR. 
(Does the concept of semicha or of Avos 1:1 imply that we SHOULD believe 

- Steve

PS - In addition to the ideas, I liked this drash because it was the rare 
occasion where a drash can include references to Shay's Rebellion and the 
XYZ affair.

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Message: 7
From: "I. Balbin" <Isaac.Bal...@rmit.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:03:51 +1100
[Avodah] Sameach Tesamach vs Samach Tesamach vs Sameach

There is nothing like one's own child's impending wedding to re- 
acquaint oneself with the various issues involved. I certainly know a  
lot more about the process than I did during our wedding many moons ago.

In Sheva Brochos, the "standard" text reads Sameach Tesamach Reim ...

Chabad are makpid to say "Samach Tesamach"

I listened to the Rov, RYBS zt"l say the brocha and he said "Sameach  

Alas, I don't have much time left to research this, but I'd be  
surprised if someone hadn't already done so.

Can anyone provide pointers or further elucidation of this text?

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Message: 8
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.du...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 23:06:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Sameach Tesamach vs Samach Tesamach vs Sameach

On Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:03:51 +1100 "I. Balbin" <Isaac.Bal...@rmit.edu.au>
Chabad are makpid to say "Samach Tesamach"

Correct, AFAIK only Chabad says it that way.  I'm not sure why, but I
recently saw a Chabad
source whose origin I forgot that also said sameach.  Which is the lishna

Click now to choose from thousands of designs for your checks!

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Message: 9
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 03:23:51 GMT
Re: [Avodah] The Stature of Moshe Rabbeinu

R' Yitzchok Levine wrote:
> I have always pictured Moshe Rabbeinu as a "giant" of a
> man with tremendous abilities. After all, he had the
> clearest revelation of HaShem of any of the Neviim.
> ...
> On the other hand, I have wondered from time to time why
> Moshe himself did not institute a system similar to the
> one suggested by Yisro before Yisro arrived.
> I would be interested to hear what others think about this.

Whenever my children (or other people) point out that a particular person
is unusually weak in a certain trait, I try to point out that everyone is
strong in some areas and weak in others. Often, I use this very example to
show that even Moshe Rabenu lacked certain skills.

I'm unclear what would lead one to think that Moshe Rabenu excelled in
every possible thing. We know, for example, that he was not the best public
speaker. The exact nature of this weakness is subject to debate, and need
not be gone into here. My only point here is that he was not perfect in all

Given that he was not perfect, I'd like to focus on this particular
weakness. For example, I don't know whether or not there are any sources
which tell us whether his artistic abilites were above or below average.
But that's just an example. The real question is this: Are there any
sources which suggest whether his <<< talent for organizing
>>> (to use RSRH's phrase) was above or below average?

I believe that yes, there are several arguments one can use, to show that
even if Moshe was not a superman, he still might have been able to come up
with this idea himself, without Yisro suggesting it.

If a judge today would try to resolve a child custody battle by suggesting
to split the child in half, everyone would recognize this to be a trick.
This is not necessarily because we are so very intelligent nowadays; it is
also due in good measure to our knowledge of history and how Shlomo
Hamelech already used this ruse.

Similarly, I think that before we can proceed in this topic, it is critical
to know the history of world court systems. Is it possible that at this
point in history, no one in the world had yet established a system of
higher courts and lower courts? If such systems were common throughout the
world, then Moshe should have thought of it too. But if no one had yet come
up with this idea, then Yisro's genius at organization should be no more
surprising than Betzalel's artistic abilities.

Here's another idea:

The man who came up with this system (Yisro) was not a stranger to Moshe
Rabenu. Moshe married his daughter, and lived with him for several
*decades* prior to this incident. I would imagine that much of Yisro's
chochma (as in the phrase "chochma bagoyim - taamin") would have been
learned by his son-in-law.

But I think it is possible that the hierarchy suggested by Yisro was a
truly new idea, as revolutionary as the ideas of Plato or Aristotle.
Perhaps Moshe did indeed learn everything that he could from Yisro during
those decades, but this idea was new even to Yisro. Even Yisro did not
think of this idea until Moshe's dire situation demanded a truly new

In fact, please note Yisro's words, "You'll wear yourself out!" Perhaps
Yisro saw that this erosion had already begun; if so, this could be an
excellent reason why he was able to come up with an answer which escaped

And a third idea:

I wrote above of the many years Moshe spent with Yisro. What about the many
years he spent with Paro? I have strong (but admittedly vague) memories of
many Chazals which attest to Hashem's designs, that He chose to have Moshe
grow up in the royal palace, specifically to learn leadership skills. It
seems to me that one of the most basic leadership skills is that of
delegating various tasks to one's underlings. Is this not *exactly* the
problem that Yisro solved? If so, then the real question is not "Why was
this giant unable to figure it out?" (as RYL asked), but rather, "Did he
forget what Paro taught him?"

Akiva Miller

Click now for professionally poured concrete solutions!

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Message: 10
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 08:49:48 +0200
[Avodah] Can we force Hashem to do something?

The Gemara Bava Metzia 85b has a fascinating story. The Gemara
recounts that Eliyahu Hanavi used to come to Rebbi's shiur. One day he
was late. He explained that it was Rosh Chodesh and he had to wake up
Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov to daven and he could not wake them
together because if they davened together they would bring the Geula.
Rebbe asked if there was someone in his generation who could bring the
Geula and Eliyahu answered R' Chiya and his sons.  Rebbe then called a
Taanis and had R' Chiya and sons daven. When they said Mashiv Haruach
the wind blew, Morid Hageshem, it rained. As they were about to say
Mechaye Meisim the world was trembling and in heaven they sent Eliyahu
Hanavi down to distract them so they wouldn't have Kavana and bring
the Geula.

The obvious question is, why the distraction? If it wasn't time for
the geula so don't bring the geula. Why would Hashem be forced to
answer the tefillos of R' Chiya and his sons? It sounds like from the
gemara that if they had succeeded in davening with Kavana the Geula
would have come against Hashem's wishes. Why? Why would Hashem be
forced to bring the geula just because they davened?

Similarly, the Gemara in a number of places recounts how a person's
time was up and the malach hamaves came and could not take the person
because he was learning torah. The malach hamaves then created some
distraction which caused the person to stop learning for a second and
the malach hamaves then took his soul. Again, the question is why does
the malach hamaves need to do this? After all, it is the person's time
to die. Why does the malach hamaves need to distract the person why
can't he just kill the person while he is learning?

In short, it seems very strange that distractions need to be created,
why can't Hashem just do what he wants?

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Message: 11
From: Yitzhak Grossman <cele...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 16:17:07 -0500
[Avodah] Hebrew verbs for killing and murder

A while ago we discussed the precise meanings of the verbs harag, razah
and hemis.  Wolf2191 has posted some interesting remarks on the topic


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

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Message: 12
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 22:32:50 +0200
[Avodah] taam elyon

anyone know the origin of using taam elyon to layn the
asseret hadibrot either on shavuot and/or in yitro and etchanan?

Eli Turkel

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Message: 13
From: Simon Krysl <skr...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 16:18:49 +0100
[Avodah] meein olam haba

Dear all, c
could anyone refer me to the origin of the phrase "meein olam haba...
yom shabbat" outside of the zemer Ma Yedidut?
I assume there are various places in Chazal where the Shabbat is
referred to as an "extension" - for the lack of a better word - of the
world to come, but would love to know where to start.
Many thanks and apologies

Simon Krysl

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Message: 14
From: Gershon Seif <gershons...@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:41:10 -0800 (PST)
Re: [Avodah] The Stature of Moshe Rabbeinu

Moshe's greatness was his humility. Just like when he set up the mishkan,
there was no way he could lift those beams on his own, and yet was told to
do so - and he tried and could only accomplish that with Hashem's help,
here too I think he attempted to be available to all, even though logically
this was impossible. He must have figured it would be unfair to ask the
people to hear the Torah a few steps removed from the source. He would do
his part and Hashem would do the rest. And Hashem did! He sent Yisro and
his advice!

Quote from RSRH:


Moshe?s stature as a lawmaker was so small, and

talent for organizing was so inadequate, that he had to learn the

of state organization from his father-in-law. This man Moshe worked

himself to exhaustion and could not, on his own, organize such a

institution, or one similar to it, so beneficial to himself, to the

and to the matter at hand. This man, who needed Yisro?s counsel to

appoint judges, could not have invented statutes and laws and given

them to the people. This man was strictly the faithful instrument of

God; he told the people God?s Word ? and nothing more.


reconcile with my "gut" impressions of him as a
"giant" of a man.? On the other hand, I have wondered from
time to time why Moshe himself did not institute a system similar to the
one suggested by Yisro before Yisro arrived.   

I would be interested to hear what others think about this.

Yitzchok Levine 

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Message: 15
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 14:26:32 +0000
Re: [Avodah] shatz saying things out loud

Shlomoh Pick:
> In any case, why deviate from the original takkanot chazal?

Good question!

When discussing these things in the beis midrash some have suggested
that the printing press changed everything.

Notice that the shatz in different nusachos has different roles.

Eidos mizrach almost 99% out loud

Eastern European very little out loud.

Yekkes a bit more.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 16
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 14:21:36 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Can we force Hashem to do something?

Marty Bluke:
> In short, it seems very strange that distractions need to be created,
> why can't Hashem just do what he wants?

The entire concept of "Theurgy" is quite controversial....

FWIW when the malachim comained zo torah v'zo sechara? Re: the 10
martyrs HKBH Shushed them by threatening tohu vavohu.

You could read this several ways:
1. Hashem got what He wanted
2. Hashem needed them to stop davening lest His hand be forced.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 17
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 18:14:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Aromatherapy (really about nihyeh vs nihyah)

I wrote:
: The Ya'avetz (teshuvos 95-95) says the Chakham Zvi (his father) laughed
: at those who said "nihyeh". He quotes R' Zalman Hanau as saying it
: should be "nihyeh", but dismisses him as a grammarian, not a halachic
: authority. RZH's rationale is that we speak in descriptions in berakhos,
: not verbs. Even though this is passive, we should take it to mean "that
: which exists through", not "is existing".

: The AhS has "nihyeh" (OC 167:6).

Now, to correct my typoes (hat-tip to RMP). RZHanau had nihyah, with a
qamatz, which is why the Yaavetz dismisses him.

The Magein Avraham (167:8) has nihyah, lashon avar.

The AhS and Be'er Heiteiv (204) have "nihyeh", IOW the word as a

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A life of reaction is a life of slavery,
mi...@aishdas.org        intellectually and spiritually. One must
http://www.aishdas.org   fight for a life of action, not reaction.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            -Rita Mae Brown


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