Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 150

Wed, 29 Jul 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 13:26:19 -0400
Re: [Avodah] learning kinnot

Eli Turkel wrote:
> RYBS used to give discussions on the kinnot all tisha baav which is the
> basis of the recent book
> A friend complained that one should not learn even kinnot on tisha baav
> they are meant to be said even if not understood.
> Intellectualing them violates limud torah on tisha baav
> any opinions?
I don't know if I'll have time to look up sources before TB, so take all 
this with a IIRC attached.  There is a relevant machlokes haposkim in 
hilchos aveilus.  The Aruch haShulhan cites and rejects an opinion 
prohibiting deep study and writing down hiddushim during shiva on the 
grounds that ein lcha davar ha'aved gadol mizo.  The opinion he rejects 
argues that study in depth, even of depressing topics, is not 
depressing, and therefore is not included in the heter.  AFAIK the 
opinion rejected by the AhS is nowhere practiced.

In the case of kinnos, however, even understanding the words was very 
difficult before the advent of modern commentaries and translation.  I 
was never at Maimonides for kinnos, but for selichos we used those 
inexpensive paperback pamphlets with no explanations.  If something 
similar was used for kinnos I would have thought that basic explanation 
would add to the agmas nefesh, and was desireable according to both 

David Riceman

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Message: 2
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 19:57:54 +0200
Re: [Avodah] we live in good times

That makes sense. There are sources saying that the walls of Jerusalem were
destroyed on seperate days, but we fast only one day because the tzibbur
can't handle fasting too many days. Granted these two days (9th and 17th of
Tammuz) are close together, but if we were to fast for every tragedy, then
the effect would be similar.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <rabbirichwol...@gmail.com>
> I suspect that Rav Schwab et. al. did not wish to see the year contain too
> many mournful days because - the impact would have been too depressing.
> So instead he wrote a shoah qina for 9 Av just as there is one for tatnu
> despite the fact that it took place around Rosh Hodesh Sivan.

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 13:30:56 -0400
Re: [Avodah] tisha baav is a moed

On Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 01:56:58PM +0300, Eli Turkel wrote:
: I have always been bothered by the characterization of tisha baav as a
: festival (moed)

I think of "mo'eid" as "an appointment". As in "ki eis lechenena ki va
mo'eid", bimheirah beyameinu, amein.

When you're called to the bosses office to discuss a crisis in
productivity, you don't interrupt the discussion to raise questions of
floor space.

9 beAv is a time for a particular kind of encounter with the
Aibishter. Not the happiest of encounters, but still, we are moved by
tragedy to turn to Him. And because it's a day of encounter, we will
continue to do so in the future, when the tragic is behind us.

I would say therefore that the pasuq is being used to teach that 9 beAv
is a time for reflecting on the message of 9 beAv to the exclusion of
the personal baqashos of tachnun.


Micha Berger             Zion will be redeemed through justice,
mi...@aishdas.org        and her returnees, through righteousness.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 4
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 17:35:21 +0000
Re: [Avodah] tisha baav is a moed

> I have always been bothered by the characterization of tisha baav as a
> festival (moed)
> which is certainly not pshat in the pasuk
> Besides the gemara says that all fast days are festivals in times of
> peace and we still say tachanun on other fast days (not YK)

I don't have a direct answer

But I have posted and blogged that purim and tisha b'av have similar
liturigcal structures (I can supply links later BEH)

As such
9 av is the only taanis w/o sleichos or tachanun

And purim uniquely has no Hallel

My hypothesis:
Both represent EXTREMES.

Purim is in a sense too joyous for Hallel (too much holelus? :-)

And 9 Av too mournful for tachanun selichos

In fact you don't say tachanun at a shiva either and yekkes even omit
tiskabel at a shiva because of sasam tefilasi...

So the qar'u alay moed may refer not to festivity but to the extreme
nature of the day (indeed a day for Edom to celebrate!)

But it falls short of explaining Moed completely. Maybe someone else
can connect the missing dots

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 5
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 11:07:20 -0700
[Avodah] 3 questions

1----  anyone have a good  pshat  for  why  the karneipara/yerachbenyomo 
occurs  in tora  only bamidbar ;  why there davka?

2---- i saw this question  ,but  not a  good answer.    vaetchanan el YHVK 
 ----- but then moshe  asks  ADNY   YHVK[ELKIM]  .

if  the  tfila was  to  YKVK   , why not   the standard  YKVK ELKIM 
---instead  a  non-standard  combination

3---  there is  a  rosh chodesh  minhag to  at least in nusach sfard,  to 
concentrate on different  tzirufim  of  the YKVK  letter combinations.

can someone  point  me  to a  resource of what  those  tzirufim  each 
means , and  how  it connects  to the pasuk?

[ i know  at  least  for  tamuz  the tziruf  is KVKY -- ie  totally 
backwards, which is  what happened in tammuz]

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Message: 6
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 18:16:04 +0000
Re: [Avodah] learning kinnot

> A friend complained that one should not learn even kinnot on tisha baav
> they are meant to be said even if not understood.
> Intellectualing them violates limud torah on tisha baav

I can see the point because an avel may learn hilchos aveilus but not

However, I attended RYDS' Maimonides 9 av qinnos thrice.

I seem to recall the Rav not over-intellecutalizing but rather expounding
and was well within the parameters of understanding the dynamics of the
day and of the qinnos

He went thru one Qinna (sorry I forgot which one!) showing references
to every "miqdash" including iirc ohel sarah v'avraham, mishkan shiloh
etc. And describing each hurban

Such expounding for me intensified and expanded the aveilus beyond the
twin batei miqdash towards a more global understanding of what we have
lost over the milennia especially in the way of holy sanctuaries.

Now READING those same lectures may lack the "gefeel" of hearing them
from the Rav. The Rav was - as I saw him - more touchy-feely in person
than on tape or written page


go by a bit quuicker and the hana'ah of a sense of accomplishment -
like a "gevaldige" yom iyyun. So I guess it DID damper the suffering
to an extent.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 17:42:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tzeni'us and gender roles

On Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 10:23:09PM -0400, Yitzhak Grossman wrote:
: Unlike all the other "isms" on RRW's list, the *ideology* of capitalism
: doesn't really conflict with the Torah.  Yes, in our vale of tears
: people will often be tempted to do the wrong thing, but capitalism
: doesn't contradict the Torah or the Mesorah in the ways that the others
: do.

Except that sharing money is called justice (tzedaqah), the tuvei ha'ir
have price fixing power, the dinim of ona'as mamonos also limit the
freedom of the market. I'm sure if I thought of it, I can find other
examples that appear to reflect a not-quite-capitalist worldview.

But I understood RRW to be listing encounters we've had in the past
century and a half with other Isms that r"l tempted our people to place
their first loyalty elsewhere than the Torah. Not whether or not there
was lemaaseh a conflict.

(I think RRW is a Religious Zionist, but he put Zionism on his list.)


Micha Berger             Zion will be redeemed through justice,
mi...@aishdas.org        and her returnees, through righteousness.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 8
From: "Akiva Blum" <yda...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 22:48:31 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Sad Story: Let's Talk Tachlis


> -----Original Message-----
> From: avodah-boun...@lists.aishdas.org 
> [mailto:avodah-boun...@lists.aishdas.org] On Behalf Of Daniel Israel
> Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:38 AM
> To: avo...@lists.aishdas.org
> Cc: Samuel Svarc
> The unfortunate reality is that dealing with public reporting of 
> wrongdoing by Jews is a shailah that comes up far too often, 
> and it is 
> not clearly dealt with in Sefer Chofetz Chaim, or in any 
> other sources I 
> am familiar with.
> What about the most common case?  We read in the paper that a certain 
> Jew is accused of wrongdoing.  We have no personal involvement, and 
> there is essentially nothing we can do.  How should we respond?
> The basic halacha is obviously that we must be dan l'chaf zechus, and 
> assume the person is innocent.  Or, at least, that the accusation is 
> exaggerated, that there is some innocent reason for the action, etc. 
> However, this same obligation applies to all parties.  
> Meaning we also 
> must be DLZ on the accuser, the police, the newspaper, etc.  (For the 
> time being, assume everyone is Jewish.)

Not so. There is a different benchmark for tzadikim as for benonim, and for
reshoim. Even where all the parties deserve DLZ, they are not necessarily in
equal measure.

> So is that it?  It would seem that this takes care of 
> everything, all we 
> need to do is internalize that we really have no reason to come to a 
> conclusion about the vast majority of the accusations we 
> hear.  However, 
> I would suggest there are some other considerations.
> First, while it may not be important to draw a conclusion 
> regarding each 
> individual, it is important to know how prevalent true versus false 
> accusations are collectively.  We do need to be informed as 
> to whether 
> accusations against Jews broadly reflect anti-Jewish attacks 
> (which we 
> need to defend ourselves against, and which would have 
> consequences for 
> whether, for example, dina malchusa dina applies in that place) or 
> reflect real problems in the Jewish community (which obligate 
> us to try 
> to fix ourselves).

Then we should look at the claim itself, not individually, but whether the
problem exists within the community. We can still remain without any conclusion
as to the specific case.

> Second, if when speaking to others (non-frum or non-Jewish) we always 
> turn a blind eye to Jewish wrongdoing, this itself is a 
> chillul HaShem. 
>   In certain cases it may be possible to explain the concept 
> of DLZ, in 
> general if we always respond, "I don't believe Ploni is guilty," it 
> sounds like we have no midah of tzedek.  Again, we have to 
> find a way to 
> reflect a realistic evaluation of the news media and the criminal 
> justice system (with all there flaws, but also their real 
> value) in our 
> speech, without being oveir DLZ.

How about, I have no idea if ploni is guilty or not, unless we have some sort of
reason to really believe he is innocent, then say that you actually think he's
innocent. It's the truth..

> Fourth, I want to point out that, as far as the case that 
> sparked this 
> thread, sometimes DLZ is not saying that the person didn't do what he 
> was accused of, but that there is some mitigating factor.  In that 
> light, saying someone has clinical psychiatric problems sometimes is 
> being DLZ.

True, but if DLZ could also say innocent, as may be the case here, it would we
be an avla to suffice with 'mitigating factor'.

> Finally, much of the recent discussion on Areivim centered on 
> conflicting reports attributed on one side to a frum person, 
> and on the 
> other side to an aino-dati.  Leaving aside the question of 
> whether the 
> description of one side as not frum was fair, even in such a 
> case, it is 
> not black and white that we accept any statement of a frum 
> person over 
> that of a non-frum person.  First of all, from CC 3:7-8, it 
> would seem 
> that if the evidence of wrongdoing is very strong, one is not 
> required 
> to be DLZ m'ikar hadin, but should try to not be convinced of 
> wrongdoing. 

In our case, it's not so much the evidence per se is so strong. Rather it is
based entirely on the credibility of the accusers. After all, non of us have
actually seen the evidence. So that just gets us back to DLZ.

 Second, even on a person who is a mumar, and who 
> is outside 
> of amisecha, it is therefore permitted to believe LH about them, and 
> there is a mitzvah to be m'vazeh them for the purpose of 
> keeping other 
> from imitating them.  (I'm deliberately leaving out the whole tinok 
> shenishba issue.)  However, there is no mitzvah to be dan 
> l'chaf chov. 
> In absence of a mitzvah of DLZ, one presumably falls back on common 
> sense to evaluate their actions.  So in the case of 
> conflicting reports 
> from a frum and a non-frum person, it would seem that if the 
> evidence is 
> equivocal, one should be DLZ on the frum person (although if 
> there is a 
> way to view both positively, this would generally be preferable). 
> However, if the evidence looks much better for the non-frum 
> person, it 
> would seem to me it is entirely appropriate to suspect the 
> frum person.

DLZ is always an issue of common sense. It is reasonable to assume that an
average religious Jew is not committing and aveira. Even if it appears that way,
common sense says to ignore what you see and factor in the likelihood of this
person doing an aveira. The Torah obligates us here in common sense. That's why
the benchmark is higher for a tzadik. Even if the evidence is heavily against
him, nevertheless, it makes more sense that what is really happening is a very
unlikely scenario.


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Message: 9
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 22:37:46 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Tzeni'us and gender roles

Regarding Capitalism, when it compromises Torah ideals it's not Kosher

Several years ago I BH taught a course on Ethical and Compassionate
Jewish Management. It centred on Sefer Hachinuch as a text

Mitzvos such as how to not abuse a lowly eved (kol shekein a po'el)
Lo salin p'ulas sachir
Byomo titein s'charo
Lo sachsom
V'achalto anovim knafshecha
Issur Rechilus
Mitzvas hochacah
B'tzedek tishpot amisecha
(Iow don't reem out an employe until one is certain of the facts)
Emulate HKBH (as a leader too)
Ona'as devorim

(I also used En Yaakov, Avos and ADRN)

While an enlightened capitalist MIGHT choose a compassionate and ethical
management style - or might not -
A torah true Jew MUST!


They just cannot dillute or compromise Torah.

I guess under a Torah system they indeed may have their place (lakkol zman)

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 10
From: Stuart Feldhamer <stuart.feldha...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 21:50:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] tisha baav is a moed

>I have always been bothered by the characterization of tisha baav as a
>festival (moed)
>which is certainly not pshat in the pasuk

Which pasuk?


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Message: 11
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 00:52:26 EDT
Re: [Avodah] learning kinnot

From: Eli Turkel _eliturkel@gmail.com_ (mailto:elitur...@gmail.com) 

>>A  friend complained that one should not learn even kinnot on tisha baav
they  are meant to be said even if not understood.
Intellectualing them violates  limud torah on tisha baav

any opinions?<<

Eli  Turkel

Any tefilla mumbled off without understanding is worth less than the same  
tefilla said with understanding.  How can you keep a Tisha B'Av mood of  
melancholy if you mumble off the kinos with no understanding of the words you  
are saying?  You will get bored and your mind will wander.

--Toby  Katz


**************Hot Deals at Dell on Popular Laptops perfect for Back to 
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Message: 12
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 09:50:49 -0400
Re: [Avodah] tisha baav is a moed

On Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 09:50:41PM -0400, Stuart Feldhamer wrote:
: >I have always been bothered by the characterization of tisha baav as a
: >festival (moed)
: >which is certainly not pshat in the pasuk

: Which pasuk?

Eikhah 1:15, "... qara alay mo'eid libhor bachurai ..."

Peshat clearly is about the lives lost during the churban itself, not a
future festival.


Micha Berger             Zion will be redeemed through justice,
mi...@aishdas.org        and her returnees, through righteousness.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 13
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 16:20:33 +0300
[Avodah] Hashgahat Kashrut for M'halelei Shabbat

Rabbi Marc Angel has asked me to inform my contact list that his
website (www.jewishideas.org - The Institute for Jewish Ideas and
Ideals) has posted an essay by me, "Thoughts on Kashruth Certification

Some of the topics I cover therein (it is more of an opinion than an
objective scholarly writing, however):

---- Why I think denying hashgahat kashrut to m'halelei shabbat is to
begrudge the non-observant of additional mitzvot they could be keeping
---- My own answer to the objection that proffering hashgaha to
m'halelei shabbat would be to implicitly condone their violation of
---- Kiruv and approaches towards the non-observant must take
sociology and mistaken understandings of Judaism into account; truth
must sometimes be put aside for what will be effective in bringing
others to Judaism
----  Whether Rav Hirsch's Austritt evinces a lack of concern for the

To to throw out one random quotation, to attract interest:

"Many have been perplexed by the statement from the Gemara which we
read before every chapter of Pirkei Avot, "Kol yisrael yesh lahem
helek l'olam haba", "Every Jew has a portion in the World-to-Come...".
Do not "the righteous of all nations have a portion in the
World-to-Come"? What, then, is the hiddush (novelty) in saying that
all Jews (with the exception of certain heretics and sinners) have
such a portion, when righteous gentiles as well (with similar
exceptions) have such a portion? This difficulty is beautifully solved
by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary on this passage: he
says that "Kol yisrael", "All of Israel" is said not in
contradistinction to non-Jews, but rather, in contradistinction to
those Jews who reject their Jewishness, and spurn the title of "Jew".
In other words, gentiles are beyond the purview of this statement;
obviously, gentiles do have a portion in the World-to-Come like and
alongside Jews, but our present concern is not with Jews versus
gentiles, but rather with self-identifying Jews versus non-identifying
Jew. I seem to recall that Rev. Abraham Cohen's Everyman's Talmud
interprets similarly. According to this, there is tremendous value in
identifying as a Jew; even if one is not observant; anything one does
to retain his identity as a proud and consciously Jewish Jew is
something to be valued. Can we possibly begrudge any Jew an extra
mitzvah, even one done for materialistic motives? How can we deny
kosher certification to Shabbat-violating restaurants?"

Michael Makovi

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Message: 14
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 14:58:54 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tzeni'us and gender roles

Rather than state every point in a shaqla vetarya, I want to again try
to take a step back and spell out my position from square one. I am it
would be a more clear format. I'm going to go really far back, because I
think RMS's consternation is evidence of our coming from fundamentally
different paradigms.

One of the facets of our encounter with modernity is how we respond to
modern values. As Jews in the modern world, we have to decide, hopefully
consciously and willfully, which of those values to absorb, and which
we need to take efforts to eschew.

When dealing with new values, my first question would be
whether it can be accomodated within halakhah. Because of the answer is
"no", there is no 2nd question. But that's the uninteresting case. In
non-trivial cases, the telling question would be: Is it in accord or
against the values HQBH is trying to inclucate within us?

It is on this point I expressed my regret for introducing halachic
terminology into the discussion. Because there is no "hutrah" for values,
only dechuyah. Someone who kills beheter still killed, and still is that
much more able to kill in the future. The first shechitah is the hardest;
the first beris is likely to be the one where empathy gets in the mohel's
way. There is no "hutrah" because when a chiyuv conflicts with "ve'asisa
hatov vehayashar", "vehalakhta bidrakhav", "qedoshim tihyu ki Qadosh Ani"
or the like, the negative impact is still there.

This means that we're likely to disagree with other O Jews on two
different levels in this topic: The more minor level is where two
people, or camps of people, make different decisions WRT some value or
another. The more serious disagreement is where one feels that the other
didn't make a conscious decision at all, and is basically an unwitting
victim of assimilation.

When I wrote of thinking in hyperlegalistic terms, I meant that one could
focus so heavily on the first question that they confuse not finding a
specific issur with seeing it as a good idea bichlal. Something RYBS
tried pulling people away from through the use of personal anecdote and
discussion of the "erev Shabbos Jew", the piety of the Chabadnikim
of Chaslovitch and the Chassidim he met in Warsaw. But not so much in
his daily shiur.

Brisker derekh draws one's attention away form this second question.
Rather than talking about values and what we can extrapolate from
halakhah about the Torah's goals for us, it habituates us to think in
terms of chalos -- abstract states defined entirely by their halachic

Me, I'm not a fan of absorbing values that are not in the Torah. That
doesn't mean I would avoid seriously exploring the entire encounter
with modern values. There are fundamental Torah values that eroded over
time that we only regained through seeing them in the outside world,
once that world matured to the point of catching up to some of what the
Torah told us. We could end up being reminded by our neighbors of things
we lost along the way.

For example, the mishnah in Sanhedrin 4:5 fell by the wayside. Galus
understandably pushed us to see the world in adversarial terms, which
meant that we were motivated to downplay some of the more universalist
aspects of Jewish morality. The civil rights movement in the US was
the best thing that ever happened to "Lefikhakh nivra Adam yechidi
ba'olam... Umipenei shalom haberiyyos, shelo yomar adam lachaveiro,
'Abba gadol mei'avikha'". The mishnah would have been forgotten. (Rather
than frequently twisted? Okay, I'll conceed that to that extent, it was
a mixed bag.)

But this means that I will frequently disagree with MO conclusions about
where to go next.

After asking (1) is it mutar, and (2) do the pros outweigh the cons,
we also must ask if the question is relevent. It's pointless to discuss
avoiding something that takes us further from the Torah's ideal if there
is no way to avoid it.

I think this third question is also a point of contention in this

Once dealing with these three questions, the rav has to render pesaq. As
I wrote a while ago on this thread, this can mean what RYBS would call
prohibiting something for "political" reasons. And although I don't like
the word "political" to describe it, as "doing something for political
reasons" sounds less-than-idealistic, I am in full agreement with the
notion that some ideas may be mutar in perat, but assur because of where
they take us. Actually halachically assur, even though we're applying
the law to something non-legalistic.

This "paradox" is really due to the homonymity of the word "mutar".
"Qadeish es atzmekha bema shemutar lakh" sounds similarly paradoxical.
It's saying there is an obligation to avoid something that you're
permitted. Well, if you're obligated to avoid it, how is it permitted?
On scjm, I would post it translated as "sanctify yourself with something
that [would otherwise be] permitted to you". I would say that the
Ramban is giving an instance of something that the hyperlagalistic mind
wouldn't find a problem with. Or in other words, people who explore the
first question (is there a specific issur?) without the second (does it
take us where Hashem tells us to go?) would think it's mutar.

So much for generalizations, now onto discussing nidon didan in

As for the first question, the specific halakhos: I think it could be
argued that there is nothing about being a Maharat that is inherently
different than being a yoetzet, or just being a knowledgable neighbor
who I call when I am stuck on something. I am not saying my poseiq would
necessarily agree. (My current poseiq is a talmid of R' Aharon and R'
Shneur Kotler, so I bet not -- even though Lakewood was more liberal
then than it is now.) I'm saying it's within eilu va'eilu for hers and
her prospective qehillah's to pasqen that way. So my objection isn't
on the "legalistic" level.

The second question, that of whether the innovation advances AYH, was
raised in our discussion in two ways. The generic issue of change in
general, and then the specific contents of this particular change.

Change is inherently dangerous. We are a society that transmits many
truths culturally, and if we tamper with that culture, we weaken the
vehicle of mesorah. (Can you think of a better reason why Ashkenazim
still don't eat qitniyos on Pesach? <g>)

But let's not overstate things; the danger inherent in change as change
is minor compared to many of the things we can accomplish through
change. New realities, new needs, need to be addressed. If we need a
"wedding dress gemach" to help combat the rising cost of chasunos,
how could the minor change to how we do things -- one more gemach out
of many -- be the greater issue?

Look at the shift to widening girls' education beyond practical halakhah
and Tzena uRe'ena. Compared to the threat of losing many of our girls
to assimilation, how can one worry about the cost of change? Of course,
the halachic weight of the mishnah also had to be addressed, but I'm
only discussing cases where such concerns can be honestly met.

The change proposed by Maharat is of that kind of scale, and therefore
even without the issues raised by the particulars of the change, it can't
be dismissed trivially like the question of "a new idea to start a hesed
organization" (to quote RMS). Something that shifts our self-perception
that much needs significant justification, one has to spell out real
costs to staying the course with the status quo.

The western worldview has an entire constellation of values based
on something I consider a fallacy; the confusion of prominance with

Recall that since the beginning of this conversation, news outlets in this
part of the world nearly ground to a halt to cover one performer's death,
life, and memorial. Not that the man was known for charity, or even for
being morally upright, found a cure to some form of cancer, etc... We
follow the lives of the rich and famous, and our children confuse a
famous baseball player or actress with the notion of a role model.

The zeitgeist runs counter to R' Shimon Shkop's words (tr. mine), "In
a great engine even the smallest screw is important if it even serves
the smallest role in the engine. For the whole is made of parts, and
no more than the sum of its parts." The engine won't run without that
unnamed screw on the bottom holding part of the casing shut. You'll be
just as immobile as if the defective part were something you know the
name of and discuss more often, like a spark plug.

And it stands in distinction to the Jewish constellation of princples
that underly tzenius (not seeking to live befarhesia), anavah, halakhos,
avoiding kibud (while maintaining a pesonal kavod), etc...

I was arguing that much of feminism's agenda is taken from this basic
orientation. Or to be more accurate: much of feminism's agenda is based
on the notion that woman do and should have this basic orientation.
That since the more valuable expression is the more prominent one,
we have a responsibility to provide women more prominent positions.

It's what makes it hard to truly internalize the concept that being yet
another mother like the many others in her shul is really more significant
of a contribution than being the rav. (It was here that I went off on the
regrettable, because distracting, tangent about the center of Judaism
being in the home, not the synagogue.) Or that there is less avodas
Hashem in being the one to teach her daughter "Modah ani" than in tefillah
betzibur. Or the value of opening one's home to people who have no place
for Shabbos, or being there for other childless couples. If we knew to
value the quiet contribution of being a critical part of the survival
of the Jewish people as one of the masses, "besokh ami anokhi yosheves",
we wouldn't have the entire need to explore other religious expressions
nor the consequent questions of which we could or should accomodate.

WRT gender differences, the assymetry is created by chiyuvim. Men are
mechuyavim in mitzvos asei shehazman gerama and in talmud Torah. These
reflect a different prioritzation of tzeni'us in relation to other values,
and HQBH thereby forces us to act on a different prioritzation.

IOW, there are chazanim and not chazanos not because tzeni'us is less
important for men, but because tefillah betzibbur is more. Kol kevudah
bas melekh penimah is true because Hashem doesn't demand that women
choose to build certain communal structures.

And in weighing pros vs cons of running with innovations in the
direction of egalitarianism, the pros are thus much weaker than had a
chiyuv existed.

To return to my rephrasing when I wrote, "I was arguing that much of
feminism's agenda is taken from this basic orientation. Or to be more
accurate: much of feminism's agenda is based on the notion that woman
do and should have this basic orientation." Should they? And if not,
as I am arguing, then are we properly serving the women who are entering
the Maharat ordination seminary? Are we properly serving the women who
desire such a woman at the helm of their community?

Or, should our attention be focused on correcting the basic conflation, of
returning women to their grandmother's "bas melekh penimah" orientation?

In order to say that these pros outweigh the cons, you have to demonstrate
that these are actually pros, rather than giving up an essential element
of traditional avodas Hashem as a Jewish woman before that battle is
actually lost?

An implicit part of my argument that I didn't realize myself until I
was in the middle typing the next paragraph: Two of the issues I raised
blend into each other. I cited lack of evidence of cheshbon hanefesh, of
weighing pros vs cons. And I also questioned your assumption the change
is a given part of how we live regardless of how we structure religious
roles ends. The decision of whether we are addressing the needs of the
women involed or enabling a poor value system they assimilated depends
largely on whether that value system is part of the question, or a given.

What would happen if the first Orthodox female Supreme Court Justice
defined her Judaism in terms of kol kivudah? Would it not still teach
her the value of keeping the limelight only on the professional aspect
of her life, but yet keeping ones most personal feelings, including her
love and fear/awe for her creator just that -- personal? And isn't that
compartmentalization *exactly* how RYBS is cited as defining tzeni'us when
it comes to those men who do assume positions of religious leadership?

For that matter, how is it Rn Nechama Leibowitz or lbchl"ch Rn Esther
Jungreis was/is able to maintain a position of *religious* prominance
without redefining for themselves the basic role of women in our society?

However, I would argue that even assessing the change of values as poor
was not consciously performed. That this is an assimilation of 20th-21st
cent values that occured so unconsciously, feminism was a priori accepted
as a good. The entire importance=prominence worldview was bought into
and never analyzed.

If one accepted importance=prominence then being a chazan would be the
greater avodas Hashem to being in a minyan, and there would be no reason
to decline the first two invitations to the amud. To be tzanu'ah is to
be disabused of that falacy. It puts Torah and zeitgeist as odds.

Yes, we are products of our world, and so men at most pay lip service to
this idea. More often, those of us who think we have good voices start
walking to the amud before the quesiton is completed the first time. But
how does that reduce the conflict? Is the argument that because we fail
to stand up to the conflict, we lost the battle already and might as well
address the needs of people as they now exist? Or even that there is no
tzeni'us-anavah-avoid kibud value for us to try to relay to whomever is
still ready to accept it or to keep alive through pro-forma to preserve
whatever influence it has?

I made a point of distinguishing between RHS's essay and my variant,
but now that I think about it, I don't think I ever spelled out what
the difference was.

In essence, I don't think RHS is making a "for political reasons"
argument. I think he is saying tzeni'us is a chalos (or perhaps it's
vehalakhtza bidrekhav of the One who does tzimtzum, or... but RHS gives
it the buzzword "tzeni'us"), whose existence he tries to prove and
derive from men not supposed to rushing to the amud. Brisker reasoning.

My own habits are closer to RSShkop's derekh. Looking at the why rather
than constructing a mechanics to explain the what. To me the issue is
about middos, and whether it is assur, mutar or unavoidable to make a
change that replaces the prioritization of middos we derive from the
mesorah (both textual and mimetic) with those of our host society.

To summarize: My biggest complaint is that I do not see anyone exploring
whether the change is forced upon us, and if so questioning if it's
a positive value. I don't see the active conscious confrontation with
modernity, the whole thing RYBS describes in terms of the tension of
the dialectic.

When I personally do the math, it seems to me that the cost of this
particular change is large, as it's a huge cultural rupture, even given
the rupture of women moving into the workplace. The advantage that would
justify accepting the change would have to be equally large.

However, I do not see an advantage beyond those already addressed in
ideas of the last decade, like yoetzet. (Or of WTG over tehillim groups.)
The advantages proposed appear to me to be circular -- given a society
that bought into feminist values, there is an advantage to that society.
But that given lies at the root of the very question it's being invoked
to decide! Maybe we should not accept the needs of the woman who would
be served by having a Maharat, and instead teach her the beauty of being
able to live besokh ami, and thus be served by finding a knowledgable
female teacher/mentor/counselor with no formal title or role and a rav.
Just as it was done miymei qedem.

Last, I think that the resolution of that "maybe we should not accept" is
to my mind, "no, we shouldn't". That anavah, tzeni'us, and that entire
need to be prominent that underlies the feminist ideal (I said "ideal",
not just needing a second income to pay tuitions) is a step away from
what the Torah wants of us. And there are plenty of examples of
professional women who can be tzanu'as in the rest of their lives to
justify assuming we still have that choice.

Have an easy fast, and may RET (and the rest of us) get to celebrate
next Tish'ah beAv as a festival,

Micha Berger             Zion will be redeemed through justice,
mi...@aishdas.org        and her returnees, through righteousness.
Fax: (270) 514-1507


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