Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 122

Tue, 23 Jun 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 15:31:03 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Text vs. Practice

Plz post:
Joel Rich:
> In particular:
> There is a general difference in approach among poskim regarding how
> to weigh local custom against textual authority.? The Tosafot in many
> places endeavor to reconcile the text with the custom (see for excample,
> Shabbat 48a d.h. De-zeitim); other sages more readily condemn custom on
> the authority of the plain sense of the text.

The Pri Chadash wrote a long arichus on Minhag

The Best Overview I've seen is by Menachem Elon which may be found in
any of his major writings.

Not only do posqim differ on the weight of Minhag vs. Text, but some
posqim are self-contradictory

The Tur defends Minhag Ashkenaz re: the bracha of hannosseinlaya'eif
ko'ach -based upon his text of the Ashkenaz Siddur

OTOH he quotes the tshuvos RemaH as virulently anti-piyyut.

One Hassidic group made drastic changes to nusach Tefillah and minhag
based upon the Arizal, yet in some cases invokes the Maharil to defend
Minhag Avos!

Talk about being Tofeis two contradictory sheetos!

And of course there are various genre of Minhaggim. FWIW I started
systematically covering Rav Hamburg's Shrashei Minhag ashkenaz for a
comprehensive history of Minhaggim

Another interesting sefer is "minhag avoseinu b'yadeinu"
Which even-handedly lists the pros and cons of many of the controversial
minhaggim that are based upon the yearly cycle of haggim etc.

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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 12:22:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] R Tzadok-TSBP


Professor Shapiro's article is largely concerned with the fact that even
though the Brisker method fails to explain what the historical Rambam
actually intended, the Brisker method nevertheless succeeds in creating
hiddushim that are authentic in their own right. Says Professor Shapiro:
However, one must not conclude from this that because these hiddushim
are not historically correct explanations of Maimonides' view, that they
are not "true." They are indeed true and as much a part of Torah study
as are all other hiddushim. Presumably, R. Hayyim knew that his
hiddushim, even though they were consistentwith the words of Maimonides,
did not reflect the historically accurate position of the latter.
However, uncovering the historically accurate teaching of an author is
the work of an historian or a commentator who concentrates on the
peshat. It is not the realm of the interpreter, who, by all available
measures, produces hiddushim, however much he denies that his
interpretative endeavor should be characterized as such. Such an
expositor is only concerned that his ideas be consistent with the work
he is commenting on, the work he is using as a springboard for his
hiddushim. He is not interested in original intent. In his mind, a book
has a life of its own and can be interpreted on its own terms.
Me-Which is fascinating in its own right.  The results of implications
not dreamed of by the author receive greater weight than the more likely
original intent of the author. Yet the weight given is based on the
original author. Implication - HKB"H "inspired" the authors in every
generation to write in a way that someone could read more into it than
the author intended but this undreamt implication is amita shel torah!
(or HKB"H really doesn't care about the actual result, just the process)

R' Rich Joel once ([Avodah] What is Midrash?
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol25/v25n366.shtml#04) brought us
Me- unless the President of YU was participating , I think this was R'
Joel Rich :-)

Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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Message: 3
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 21:12:15 +0300
Re: [Avodah] R Tzadok-TSBP

Professor Shapiro's article "The Brisker Method Reconsidered the
Analytic Movement: Hayym Soloveitchik and His Circle By, Norman
Solomon" (Tradition 31:3, Spring 1997), from which I previously
quoted, also discusses the fact that often, we pasken by the book
(Yad, Shulhan Arukh), and not the person (ignoring Rambam's own
teshuvot explaining the Yad, ignoring R' Karo's own works when they
contradict the SA, etc.).

In like vein, see the following article by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman of
Chabad.org, regarding moral difficulties in Hazal and Tanya:

1) http://emet.blog-city.com/chabad_theology_conversation
2) http://emet.blog-city.com/chabad_theology_conversati



       It strikes me that we Jews tend to think of books as more real than
people. What I mean is that if the Rambam would walk into the room and
start arguing with a typical rosh yeshiva, he would probably ask one
of his talmidim to ?bring me the Rambam.? It doesn?t matter that the
Rambam is standing in front of him?the real Rambam is the book. Just
as the real Moshe Rabenu is not the flesh and blood tzadik who lived
3300 years ago, but the Moshe Rabenu who appears every week in the
Torah we read in shul.

       What I mean to bring out from this is that, in concert with the
post-moderns, to us, the word?and therefore the interpretation?is
everything. And this it turns out is a very powerful mechanism to
adaptation. It means that we do not have to concern ourselves with the
original intent of the authors, whether they be rishonim or tannaim.
Our concern is with the meaning of the text. That?s where we believe
Hashem?s Divine Spirit rests, as the Beis Yosef would write, ?This is
the mishna speaking in my mouth.? Or as the prophet said, ?The spirit
of Hashem speaks within me and His words are on my tongue.?

       I am saying that we are permitted to reinterpret chazal as time
progresses and as the people around us begin to conform to the morals
they have gleaned from our Torah. I don?t think this is heresy?I think
this is what we have been doing all along.

(End quote)

Michael Makovi

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 17:09:53 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tiqun Olam

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 07:03:32PM +0300, Michael Makovi wrote:
: I just read Kuzari 2:47-48, where I realized that according to Rav
: Hirsch, the Kuzari (i.e. the king) is correct and the Haver is
: incorrect. Rav Hirsch's criticism's against the Rambam (19 Letters)
: fully and completely apply to the Haver as well, and the Kuzar King's
: remarks are in marked line with Rav Hirsch's own beliefs.


R' Hirsch's complaint against the Rambam reads (letter 18):
    The age gave birth to a man [R' Drachman's footnote: Maimonides], a
    mind, who, the product of uncomprehended Judaism and Arabic science,
    was obliged to reconcile the strife which raged in his own breast
    in his own manner, and who, by proclaiming it to the world, became
    the guide of all in whom the same conflict existed.

    This great manm to whom, and to whom alone, we owe the preservation
    of practical Judaism to our time, is responsible because he sought
    to reconcile Judaism with the difficulties which confronted it
    from without instead of developing it creatively from within, for
    all the good and the evil which bless and afflict the heritage of
    the father. His peculiar mental tendency was Arabic-Greek, and his
    conception of the purpose of life the same. He entered into Judaism
    from without, bringing with him opinions of whose truth he had
    convinced himself from extraneous sources and he reconciled. For him,
    too, self-perfecting through the knowledge of truth was the highest
    aim, the practical he deemed subordinate. For him knowledge of God was
    the end, not the means; hence he devoted his intellectual powers to
    speculations upon the essence of Deity, and sought to bind Judaism
    to the results of his speculative investigations as to postulates
    of science or faith. The Mizvoth became for him merely ladders,
    necessary only to conduct to knowledge or to protect against
    error, this latter often only the temporary and limited error of
    polytheism. Mishpatim became only rules of prudence, Mitzvoth as well;
    Chukkim rules of health, teaching right feeling, defending against the
    transitory errors of the time; Edoth ordinances, designed to promote
    philosophical concepts; all this having no foundation in the eternal
    essence of things, not resulting from their eternal demand on me,
    or from my eternal purpose and task, no eternal symbolizing of an
    unchangeable idea, and not inclusive enough to form a basis for the
    totality of the commandments.

    He, the great systematic orderer of the practical results of the
    Talmud, gives expression in the last part of his philosophic work
    to opinions concerning tlie meaning and purpose of the commandments
    which, taking the very practical results codified by himself as the
    contents of the commandments, are utterly untenable cast no real
    light upon them and cannot go hand in hand with them in practice,
    in life, and in science...

What then is RSRH's complaint? That the Rambam was too Aristotilian,
and it led him to study Judaism from the outside, casting upon it the
Hellenic philosopher's priority of knowledge rather than morality, and
as proof -- the Rambam couldn't use his philosophy to build a meaningful
system of taamei hamitzvos.

it is in error on this point as well. Neither the Kuzari nor the Ramchal
make life's mission to be the intellectual comprehension of G-d. Neither
speak the philosopher's language and try to fit a Torah hashkafah into
those categories.

: As Levine notes, "It is through their [the mizvot] effect upon both
: nature and history that, according to Hirsch, they enable Israel to
: fulfill its mission to humanity." Additionally, Rav Hirsch, in a few
: places, explicitly says that the duty and purpose of man and life is
: tzeded u-mishpat; see for example his comment on G-d's musings over
: Sodom and Amorah, about Avraham teaching his children tzedek
: u-mishpat.

Horeb's system is about inculcating values. Not only fulfilling a mission
to humanity, but more becoming the vessels capable of doing so. Not
ethics and justice, but becoming an ethical and just person. Otherwise,
RSRH would have no room for Chuqim, Eidos, and perhaps Mitzvos (the
category) neither.

It is actually quite similar to Mussar, as I noted in a recent
dialog with RRW, which he blogged at
My thesis:
    Look how similar TIDE and Slabodka are in terms of objective. The
    ideal Herr Rabbiner Doctor is cultured, refined, pays attention to his
    dress and the impression he creates. An emphasis on human dignity as
    part of Jewish expression. The Mensch-Israel. Ands what would I have
    to change of that to describe Slabodka's ideal alumnus? Less value
    assigned to cultural development -- although they valued personal
    creativity in poetry and music, secular education was relegated to
    satifying curiosity on the side. It was expected that you were well
    read; but nothing like a PhD.

    There is a fundamental difference in how they define refinement. R'
    Hirsch speaks in terms of culture. Slabodka, unsurprisingly, in
    terms of middos.
    RSRH makes it about internalizing messages. And therefore when the
    message is unclear, he invokes symbology. Symbols do present
    messages in a manner where they can be better internalized. Thus the
    power of poetry over prose....
    Mussar looks to mitzvos to behaviorally change the person....

The Ramchal's path is actually less cerebral, and thus less similar to
the Rambam's, than RSRH's.

: Regarding Kabbalah, Levine rightly notes, "It need be stressed that
: though Hirsch's sharpest criticisms are directed against practical
: mysticism and its performances, the logic of his position requires his
: opposition to the very basis of the Kabbalah: a belief in
: supra-mundane worlds and the effects of the religious act in spheres
: not directly related to man and his world."

And yet Dayan Grunfeld, in the introduction to Horeb, points out how
the symbology of RSRH's system /is/ qabbalah. His analysis of 6, 7 and
8 is the Maharal's. R Joseph Breuer, describes the prepatory notes
of Horeb containing much use of the Zohar. See also Hamaayan v4n4,
1965 pp 50-51, where R' Yonah Emanuel shows the roots in the Zohar for
RSRH's description in Vayiqra of the role of qorbanos. R' Munk ("Rabbiner
Hirsch als Rationalist der Kabbalah") is quoted by Dayan Grunfeld about
other mitzvos. His own siddur was rife with marginal notes of statements
of qabbalah. He received a Zohar from his grandfather as a teen, and
said it had much influsence on him (Shemesh Merapei p 276.) (Much of the
above evidence collected by R' Elias.)

He had no problem with qabbalah, he had a problem with people making
religion about higher worlds and making effects on the universe *as
opposed to effects on the doer*.

See DG's intro to Horeb, footnote on pg cxx.

In short, I disagree on three points:

1- That RSRH saw the role of mitzvos as being about doing the right and
the just rather than developing oneself into the kind of person who does
the right and the just.

2- That his complaint against the Rambam revolved around his description
of mitzvos on impacting on the self, rather than his use of Aristo to
define the wrong kind of impact.

3- RSRH had no problem with qabbalah, he had problems with how many
people related to it, and therefore taught it accordingly.

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 07:15:38PM +0300, Michael Makovi added:
:                                               . The Kuzari, in 2:48,
: agrees, only he replaces speculation with performance of ritual
: mitzvot. In Kuzari 2:44, the Haver says that all mankind and creation
: exists for those who cleave to the Inyan haEloki, and Rambam in his
: Introduction to the Mishnah agrees, only he replaces Inyan haEloki
: with the Active Intellect, and he limits perfection to Jews (Rambam
: would seem to include non-Jews in the capability of perfection).

Actually, 44 says that hashgachah is a product of shemiras hamitzvos,
not the point. 48 also discusses hashgachah, and in particular the
relationship between natural morality, "being the basis and preamble
of the divine law" and the rest of mitzvos. They earn us our extra

I don't know how you can assert this is a discussion of the purpose of
mitzvos. I would instead look to 1:79 and 2:26. The latter is where he
calls them spiritual medicine.

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 07:34:47PM +0300, Michael Makovi wrote:
: On the other hand, the Kuzari's treatment of the Golden Calf was
: simply brilliant. It turns out that Rabbi Jose Faur's "The Biblical
: Idea of Idolatry"
: (http://faur.derushapublishing.com/_The_Biblical_Idea_of_
: Idolatry_by_Jose_Faur.pdf)
: is taken almost whole-cloth from the Kuzari, even though he cites the
: Kuzari only once or twice. The only thing Rabbi Faur adds is a
: brilliant refutation of academic claims that the Biblical Jews
: believed in henotheism. Actually, he doesn't so much disprove
: henotheism, as much as he proves that henotheism is a kosher Torah
: belief for a frum Jew. (I don't believe the Kuzari would ever dare say
: such a thing, and a few people have accused me of heresy for relying
: on Rabbi Faur here, but I believe his arguments are true. See there.)

And black is white. Did you actually buy into an argument that polytheism
is a permissable belief as long as a person only worships one of them???

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
mi...@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Message: 5
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 17:17:19 -0400
Re: [Avodah] shinuy on Shabbos

Ben Waxman wrote:
> I believe that the definition of shinui is doing something in a way 
> which is not only different, but less efficient.
Do you have evidence for this belief? The Hayyei Adam 9:2 seems not to 
be aware of this constraint.

David Riceman

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Message: 6
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 21:35:03 +0000
Re: [Avodah] shinuy on Shabbos

> Do you have evidence for this belief? The Hayyei Adam 9:2 seems not to 
> be aware of this constraint.
> David Riceman

This seems to be the underlying svara as to why cooking by means of
the Sun is muttar on Shabbos

See Rashi on that Gmara and RMF/IM on the matter of microwaves (IM quotes
Rashi in an interpretive manner)

OTOH shinuy may not be limited to ONLY the less effective manner/method;
it may be more inclusive and allow for effective but unusual techniques
as well

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 7
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 17:23:11 -0400
Re: [Avodah] lo dmus haguff.....

Harvey Benton wrote:
> hb: from chabad.org/library: yehoshua chapter 5:13. And it was when 
> Joshua was in Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and saw, and, 
> behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his 
> hand; and Joshua went to him, and said to him, Are you for us, or for 
> our adversaries? 14. And he said, No, but I am the the captain of the 
> host of the Lord; ....snip....15. And the captain of the Lord's host 
> said to Joshua, Remove your shoe from your foot; for the place upon 
> which you stand is holy. And Joshua did so.   (end reference).
> hb:Yehoshua according to pshat was standing and had to take off his 
> shoes.... can a person stand while dreaming or while having a 
> prophetic vision acc. to the rambam???....doesn't the rambam say that 
> all novi's except 4 moshe rabeinu lose control of their bodies 
> (shaking, convulsing, etc??) (see also megilla 3b where it clearly 
> states that it was a malach that appeared to yehoshua, and gave 
> yehoshua the 2 reasons that he was there?.)
Joshua, in his vision, saw himself standing.  The same principle applies 
in the other cases.  See Ibn Ezra Hoshea 1:1 (it's pretty long; you can 
get the essence by starting in the paragraph beginning "n'um Avraham 
hamehaber ..."

David Riceman

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Message: 8
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 22:02:13 +0000
Re: [Avodah] R Tzadok-TSBP


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Message: 9
From: Michael Poppers <MPopp...@kayescholer.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 23:02:43 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Vayikra Moshe l'Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua

In Avodah Digest V26#116, RnISE wrote:
> As things turned out, of course, the people seem not to have given such
overwhelmingly great weight to Yehoshua's words when he came back with a
positive report. <
Perhaps if YbN indeed had "come back with" a report -- the Torah notes that
CbY ("Vayahas Caleiv") spoke up, but we don't see YbN's name mentioned
until after "vayivku ha'am," etc.

Gut Chodesh and all the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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Message: 10
From: Michael Poppers <MPopp...@kayescholer.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 23:11:33 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Vayikra Moshe l'Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua

P.S. See BT Sotah 35a, esp. RaShY d'h' "d'chaziyeih" (which may be "d'ka
mishta'ei" in the girsa I see?).

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Michael Poppers
    Sent: 06/22/2009 11:02 PM EDT
    To: "avodah aishdas list" <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>
    Subject: Re: Vayikra Moshe l'Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua
In Avodah Digest V26#116, RnISE wrote:
> As things turned out, of course, the people seem not to have given such
overwhelmingly great weight to Yehoshua's words when he came back with a
positive report. <
Perhaps if YbN indeed had "come back with" a report -- the Torah notes that
CbY ("Vayahas Caleiv") spoke up, but we don't see YbN's name mentioned
until after "vayivku ha'am," etc.

Gut Chodesh and all the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 10:55:45 -0400
Re: [Avodah] crime and punishment

I would make a different chiluq than did RSN, when he wrote on Tue,
Jun 16, 2009 at 12:49pm PDT:
: unfortunately , our communities suffer  allegations of crime,  with 
: defendants/convicts..
: it is not clear at  what  point it is permitted to believe or  act on 
: these allegations/convictions.  i am  not sure even after conviction what 
: halachic remedies there are or need to be --
: 1]  monetary crimes 
: 2]  abuse type issues

To me the big question would be whether the crime is likely to be a
one-off, or if the community needs to protect ourselves against repeat.
In the case of abuse, if it was physical abuse or neglect of their own
children, and the state put those children in foster care they might
not pose a threat to anyone else. Sexual abuse, however, carries with
it a huge potential for severe harm to others and a high recidivism rate.

According to the CC, one is chayav to take a "what if" approach to people
who pose potential danger. Not an assumption that they are definitely
guilty, but you aren't expected to be foolhardy either. This is based on
the story of Gedalyah's assasination (he made the "al tehi tzadiq harbei"
mistake and refused to accept LH to the point of not protecting himself
from Yishmael, the assessin) at the end of Melakhim II, and discussed
in the gemara, Niddah 61a.

However, only as far as protecting oneself, no further. You can't mete
punishment or run the guy out of town.

See LH pereq 6 and Rechilus pereq 9.

In my own shul, we kept one person out of shul who was charged with
sexually abusing children befor he moved to town until he was willing
to take and pass the state's psychometric test. If he couldn't pass it,
then NJ would assume the society requires protection against repeat;
and R' Shmuel Kamenetzky (Yeshiva of Philadelphia) and our LOR decided
that's a good criterion for our qehillah as well.

Lemaaseh the goy was charged with abusing two local boys before the
test results were fully evaluated, and the whole thing became moot.

The second question would be at what point does the finding of a secular
court become accepted as fact, rather than an allegation about which
dan lekaf zekhus would apply.

: 3] does it make a difference if halacha says the crime is muttar, but the 
: government says no, and criminalizes it?

Which ties into our longstanding DDD (dina demalkhusa dina) debate,
and how frequent it is that something criminalized /can/ be mutar.

:  4] status in halacha if a klei kodesh is the convicted.  can one retain 
: rav/rabbi/rebbie/rebbe  status when leaving jail---or is this purely up to 
: the community  they serve? 

I'm not sure of the significance in terms of halachic category (beyond
a kohein accused of murder). Either you think the guy is innocent or did
teshuvah in jail, in which case both kelei qodesh and anyone else should
be treated just like the masses, or the person isn't a good role model.

: 5] if this type  of data is important , what vehicle should disseminate 
: it? 

I think this is an Areivim question. WHomever does it, though, needs to
have a serious poseiq.

: 6] where does the public right to know  interface with the halachic right 
: to be free of lashon hara?

"Right to know"? What's that? (I know what it is in Western Legal
dialog, but this is Avodah...)

Halachically, geneivas da'as (GD) does imply an ownership of knowledge,
and thus what Lockian philosophy (an underpinning of US legal theory)
would deem "a right". But GD is about intentionally misleading people,
not keeping silent.

The case of not needing to clear up a misunderstanding in which someone
accidentally thinks they got a favor or an honor is discussed in Ch"M
228:6. It would seem there is no "right to know".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
mi...@aishdas.org        heights as long as he works his wings.
http://www.aishdas.org   But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 12
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 18:40:22 +0000
[Avodah] Rambam on Metaphors

I am working on hilchos yesodei hattorah. An acquaintance is researching
the Moreh on "ayin tachas ayin"

This thought occured to me:

Given: It is clear that the Rambam holds that every anthopomorphic
reference to HKBH is metaphorical

Therefore couldn't the Rambam apply this to "ayin tachas ayin" too?
And so it too has no peshat other than its halachic implementation?

And if there is a hilluq to be made between EG Yad Hashem being
metaphoircal and Ayin tachas Ayin not being metaphorical; what is
that hilluq?

NB: I am only working within the confines of the Rambam and his sheetos.
Others may indeed have other approaches.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 13
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 21:45:39 +0300
Re: [Avodah] R Tzadok-TSBP

Regarding post-modernism, as exemplified in Shapiro, Wyschogrod, etc.
my mind is still not entirely made up. The objective historical
approach naturally appeals to my sensibilities, but somehow, the
post-modernist approach is so absurd-sounding, that I feel I must
believe it. (No one would say something so counter-intuitive unless it
was true! I never understood this aphorism until now.)

First, I'd note that the historical approach, in a peculiar way,
actually assumes a bit of post-modernism. If one assumes that
historical circumstances beyond the author's control influenced his
view, and if one assumes that the author himself is not totally aware
of these historical factors, then the upshot is that the author
himself is not totally aware of all the influences on his writing.
Professor Shapiro notes that this is the issue which separates
traditional halakhists from historians, and that this distinction is
what lies between Frankel and Rabbi Hirsch, and also between the
Hildesheimer yeshiva and Rabbi Hirsch. Professor Shapiro discusses
this - albeit without any mention of post-modernism - in a review
essay of his, ?The Uses of Tradition: Jewish Continuity in the Modern
Era, Jack Wertheimer, ed. (Jewish Theological Seminary of America,
1992) 510 pp. Ha/acha in Straits: Obstacles to Orthodoxy at its
Inception by Jacob Katz, Hebrew (Magnes Press, 1992) 287 pp.",
Tradition 28:2 (1994), the very same issue, in fact, containing
Wyschogrod's review of Fox. Regarding the traditional and historical
views, Professor Shapiro there writes:
(Quote begins) "This basic difference in outlook can be seen again and
again when comparing the approaches of the halakhic historian with
that of the pasek and can be illustrated most vividly by looking at
Haym Soloveitchik's description of the Tosafist atttude towards
martyrdom. According to Soloveitchik, professor at Yeshiva
University's Bernard Revel Graduate School, there were occasions when
contemporary circumstances led the Tosafists to create a new legal
standard and in so doing were responsible for a radical new
development in halakha. Soloveitchik's method of describing halakhic
development is shared by such leading scholars as Katz, Ephraim
Urbach, and Yitzhak Gilat, all of whom identify with Orthodoxy, and it
is this method which is rejected as factually incorrect, and even
heretical, by those who do not recognize any real history or sociology
of halakha. The dispute is, of course, not new and was one of the
basic points of disagreement between R. Samson Raphael Hirsch and R.
Zechariah Frankel, and to a lesser extent Hirsch and R. David
Hoffmann." (End quote)

But I'm still not convinced of this post-modernist approach; it still
leaves a foreign taste in my mouth. My general approach seems to be
something like what Rabbi Bar Hayim says: perush (Rav Kook's term in
the hakdamah to Ein Ayah for peshat analysis of the author's intent)
and biur (expository drash) are both legitimate, but one must admit
which is which. Similarly, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, as quoted by
Shapiro, who said that Brisker analysis is legitimate as one realizes
one cannot put Rambam's name behind the final view.

So what I seem to do in practice is to utilize whatever historical
knowledge I have to determine what Rambam or someone himself actually
meant, and then I'll also add, alongside that, whatever I personally
think, or whatever I'll personally do with what Rambam said, or what I
personally think of when I think of Rambam's view, etc.

For example, regarding the clarifications Rambam himself gave
regarding his own halakhot, I'd probably note that Rambam himself
explained like that, and then I'd add that perhaps the halakhah can
also be explained in another way, in a way that I personally prefer.

Similarly, when I learned Shemonah Perakim, I found myself noting the
Aristotelian sources of Rambam, and then I'd tweak Rambam's view to be
less Aristotelian and more German Neo-Orthodox. I'd try to draw a
distinction between Rambam himself meant, and the way that I was
personally utilizing Rambam for my own purposes.

In this way, one can be both historically accurate and still render
the work a living breathing one with edifying benefit; the conflict
between these two goals is discussed by Kreisel on the Kuzari, op.
cit. Kreisel says that in the quest to achieve the perfect historical
reading, one not only loses the living edifying meaning, but also, he
says, it isn't possible to achieve anything more than a range of
historically *possible* readings, none of which can be proven as the
definitively correct one. He seeks a compromise, a philosophic
post-modernist reading which nevertheless is restricted by what the
historical view considers legitimate.

Michael Makovi

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Message: 14
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 20:29:37 +0000
[Avodah] Angel Hierarchy

In Yesodei Hattorah Rambam demarcates a very specific angelic hierrarchy

Touger notes that the Zohar has a similar albeit slightly different


hierarchical. It was the most natural way to design and to comprehend

As things evolved hierarchical DB's became passe and relational DB's
driven by SQL have become the rage.

As such we don't think as hierarchically as we used to. This marks a
paradigm shift in our way of thinking.


So too the 10 orders of mala'achim and the 10 sephiros etc. Can be
"re-thunk". IOW instead of a rigid heirarchy with contradicting models;
perhaps these can be viewed NOW as Ten spirtual interfaces

Let me use a simplistic but inaccurate mashal. Inaccurate because as
per Rambam we address HKBH directly. But let's pretend that we were
allowed to g through gates or interfaces.

Lemashal if the people of Israel needed 4 requests they could channel
them via 4 different interfaces - none higher then the other.

So we might need:
Protection (hagganah)
Avenging our enemies
Learning or Enlightenment

So hagganah we get the Michael interface
Vengence - Gavriel
Healing - Rephael
Learning - Uriel

We can play the same game with the Sephiros

We may need Hashem's Hessed or His Gevurah. Instead of a hierarchy it
could simply be a ring of interfaces.

(As to why we need interfaces at all ein kan mekomo leha'arich)


Of course we do not address these interfaces as per the Ikkarei hadas,
but it seems that HKBH does work via them to Manifest HIS will.
And now there is a possible re-structuring of our visual model moving away
from a hierarchical, layered model to parallel, functional interfaces.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 15
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 18:45:00 -0400
Re: [Avodah] R Tzadok-TSBP

On Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 9:45pm IDT, Michael Makovi wrote:
: Regarding post-modernism, as exemplified in Shapiro, Wyschogrod, etc.
: my mind is still not entirely made up...

There are times you come across as reaching these corner-pocket positions
because you insist on standing with those on the outside looking in.

My apologies for putting that harshly, I just don't know how else to
say it and the topic is a recurring theme in your posts. Such as your
recent accepance of a viewpoint on RSRH in an article you saw R' Breuer
prove as otherwise flawed. And yet, RMBreuer, Dayan Grunfeld, R' Elias,
IOW, people from across the Breuer's community (TiDE to yeshivish) see
the Zoharic roots of RSRH's work. And his description of RSRH's notion
of the goal of mitzvos ignores the entire thesis built in the essays in
CW VII, titled "Mentch-Yisroel".

I repeat my comment about objectivity and talmud Torah. The academic is
trying to get to truth by staying objective and not allowing negios to
cloud his judgment. Talmud Torah is about internalizing the Torah, not to
eliminate bias, but to induce a bias that matches that of the material
learnt. For this reason, academic study is inherently less valuable
at obtaining the nature of Torah or halakhah. Even when conducted by
an O Jew, there is a difference between academic analysis and talmud
Torah. (You should hear R' Dr Aharon Rakeffet on this; being a RY who
also has a PhD in Judaic Studies, it is a topic he thought about long
and hard.)

For example, what difference does it make what Shapiro or Wyschogrod
think of post-modernism compared to the people actually doing halakhah?
Did you ever hear Rav Ovadiah say that he's deconstructing a text?

On Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 9:12pm IDT, Michael Makovi quoted someone
(whose opinion I'm about to attack, so I'm leaving off his name):
: What I mean to bring out from this is that, in concert with the
: post-moderns, to us, the word -- and therefore the interpretation -- is
: everything. And this it turns out is a very powerful mechanism to
: adaptation....
: I am saying that we are permitted to reinterpret chazal as time
: progresses and as the people around us begin to conform to the morals
: they have gleaned from our Torah. I don't think this is heresy -- I think
: this is what we have been doing all along.

I think this is explicitly C. It's such a poweful mechanism for
adaptation, it's Mordechai Kaplan's transvaluation. Olam haBa is something
that can be experienced in the here and now, godliness is something we
feel most when interacting with other people, and thus preparing in the
prozdor so that one may be neheneh miziv hashechinah in OhB becomes a
bein adam lachaveiro imparative. I actually heard a C Rabbi lecture this.
Mesilas Yesharim stripped of classical Jewish theology (or the Ramchal's
riff on that theme in Derekh Hashem) and replaced with some Levinisian
encounter with the other. And when he was done, there were people in
the audience who were nodding as though he really captured the Ramchal
for them!

On Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 06:33pm IDT, Michael Makovi wrote:
: Professor Marc Shapiro, in "The Brisker Method Reconsidered"
: (Tradition 31:3, Spring 1997), writes,
: The story of the "oven of Aknai" (Bava Metsia 59b) teaches that as far
: as Torah interpretations are concerned, original intent is not the
: decisive factor. It is the conclusion of the sages which is central.
: Even when God Himself reveals His intention, we do not listen to Him,
: for it is God's will that after the  Torah was given, it be explained
: through human intellect.

And yet that's not what any of the rishonim found in it. Nor the Maharal
or R' Tzadoq.

Eilu va'eilu divrei E-lokim chaim can well mean that both opinions were
part of original Intent. The question is the authority to choose between
valid shitos, not intent.

: Professor Shapiro's article is largely concerned with the fact that
: even though the Brisker method fails to explain what the historical
: Rambam actually intended, the Brisker method nevertheless succeeds in
: creating hiddushim that are authentic in their own right...

Given that the halachic process was given by the RBSO to allow us to
produce a lifestyle that both addresses how we and our world evolve
and His unchanging Will for how we should live... then of course the
conclusions reached using the process will contain more than the
author realizes.

As a mashal... The Michelson Morley experiment proved the reality of
Fitzgerald-Lorentz Contraction. As velocity increases, space shrinks,
time stretches out, mass increases, with consequent effects on how
velocities add, the nature of momentum and energy, etc...

Einstein took this and other formula and explained it using a sevara
called spacetime. Did Lorentz think of his contraction in terms of
spacetime? No. He was just trying to come up with a formula that fit
the data. But inherent in that formula were implications he didn't

Why? Because physics describes something real that the Borei put
together with a clean logic. Different descriptions of the same
phenomenon will fit together even better than anyone notices.

And similarly WRT Torah. Lomdus works because it's not analyzing the
human constructions of how to model Torah within our limited perspective
(another way of describing pesaq as conceived by the Maharal) but
finding the truth being modeled.

Brisker method thus succeeds not in describing the Rambam, but in coming
up with a bridging principle behind the phenomena the Rambam describes.

On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 11:25am EDT, Rich, Joel quoted:
: From a Cross Currents Post:
: Halachists, of course, do not approach text this way. Neither do ninth
: graders with serious gemara background. When they see conflict between
: sources, they generally endeavor to reduce the tension as much as
: possible, sometimes by successfully harmonizing sources, and where that
: is impossible, reducing the intellectual distance between the opposing
: viewpoints as much as possible.

I think this is only part of it, and certainly not as common a result
in Brisk. How can you make chaqiros if you're trying to unify?

As I said, I think the central problem is that the academic is looking
at extraneous issues like ths history of ideas. And the ideas evolve
as ideas, with no regard to how the rules of pesaq work and how people
using them would evolve ideas differently than people who aren't. (In
principle that could be done without engaging in the system yourself
while studying those who are and the results of their work. In practice,
I don't find that happening.)

Talmud Torah is seeking G-d within the text. That might tend to
unification, as it means looking for the common theme that is the Ratzon
Hashem, rather than focusing on its outward manifestations.

To close with a variant of the theme, a case where I believe RMM
conflated an academic study of the history of a halakhah with actual
halachic study...

On Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 1:24pm IDT, Michael Makovi wrote:
: It is for this reason that Rabbi Angel, following Rabbi Hayim David
: Halevi. said that while one may be as personally strict as he desires,
: he must nevertheless respect the lenient opinions. If one wants to be
: strict, that is his prerogative. But others have the full right to
: follow Rabbi Weinberg, Rabbi Hoffmann, Rabbi Uziel, Rabbi Moshe
: haCohen and Rabbi Raphael Aaron ben Shimon, etc. No one today has any
: right to declare these opinions invalid; he may choose them to eschew
: them himself, but does he have a right to deny others use of these
: shitot? (We might make a parallel to Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai on
: mamzerut, but this example would prove the opposite of what I'm trying
: to prove. I'll admit this. Tzarich iyun. I'll admit that I am very
: troubled for what this precedent of Beit Hillel/Shammai would mean for
: the minority view of giyur today.)

However, it doesn't work once the minority position was relegated to
history. At the end of everything, halakhah keBeis Hillel, because they
had the majority. By the time the mishnah was compiled, following Beis
Shammai wouldn't have been judaism any more.

I am sorry you are troubled, but that doesn't make your position any
more correct. The trouble you are feeling I'm afraid is a symptom of
getting a very blatant statement that your picture doesn't fit how
halakhah is done.

The other acharonim's opinions on giyur can actually be gone, closed
options, and yes, declared invalid except possibly as a snif lehaqeil
beshe'as hadechaq -- assuming other snifim can be found. You don't have a
"full right to follow" whomever you want. Doubly so on an issue that has
impact ledorei doros far beyond the sho'eil and the meishiv's community
of followers.

The opinion may be "valid" in the sense of a qiyum of Talmud Torah, but
someone relying on them needs to prove that consensus hasn't taken them
off the poseiq's table. *That* needs to be RMAngel's central theme, not
that these neglected pesaqim existed, some of them made by great men
who did not have the fortune of having a major impact on the flow of
halachic development. (And RMM could have noticed that in his need to
tell us who they are.) Compared to a commonly-followed understanding of
the Rambam?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
mi...@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham


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