Avodah Mailing List

Volume 27: Number 16

Tue, 12 Jan 2010

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 16:51:25 -0500
Re: [Avodah] burning bush

On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 09:46:54PM +0200, Danny Schoemann wrote:
: R' Eli Turkel  asked:
:> If someone were near Moshe when he came to the burning burn:
:> 1. Would he also have seen it was burning but not consumed

I'm less sure about this than the other question. I would think it
depends on whether the fire was physical (but a neis) or a chazon.

And the Rambam would point to the mal'akh who first calls Moshe and
use that as proof that it had to have occured within nevu'ah and thus
inaccessible to others.

:> 2. Would he have heard G-d talking to Moshe Rabbenu rl would
:> have thought Moshe is talking to a bush

: The Torah Shleimah (Shmos 3:2:[29]) says that we learn from "Eilav"
: that only Moshe saw it. (Shmos Rabo 2:8) and that there were lots of
: other shepherds with him at the time.

See also the second Rashi in Vayiqra, "haqol holeikh umagi'ah le'aznav,
vekol Yisrael lo shome'in". And the 3rd Rashi (still on 1:1), "Eilav -
lema'eit es Aharon."

Now before we assume this means the "qol" was direct to Moshe, not
physical, we then get to the 4th Rashi (quoting Chazal, guessing from
the language) "mei'ohel mo'eid -- melameid sheyahah haqol nifsaq velo
hayah yotzei chutz la'ohel". That *could* mean that Rashi's source is
describing Hashem directly communicating with Moshe, but that's a stretch
from the actual wording.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             None of us will leave this place alive.
mi...@aishdas.org        All that is left to us is
http://www.aishdas.org   to be as human as possible while we are here.
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - Anonymous MD, while a Nazi prisoner

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Message: 2
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 22:58:35 +0100
Re: [Avodah] burning bush

> If someone were near Moshe when he came to the burning burn:
> 1. Would he also have seen it was burning but not consumed 2. Would he
> have heard G-d talking to Moshe Rabbenu rl would have thought Moshe is
> talking to a bush

Some data points: From Daniel perek 10 (JPS 1917 translation):

4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by
the side of the great river, which is Tigris, 5 I lifted up mine eyes,
and looked, and behold a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded
with fine gold of Uphaz; 6 his body also was like the beryl, and his
face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as torches of fire,
and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass, and the
voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7 And I Daniel alone
saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision;
howbeit a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide

So those present saw nothing. On the other hand, from Divrei haYamim
aleph perek 21 (JPS 1917 translation):

15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was
about to destroy, the LORD beheld, and He repented Him of the evil,
and said to the destroying angel: 'It is enough; now stay thy hand.'
And the angel of the LORD was standing by the threshing-floor of Ornan
the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of
the LORD standing between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn
sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the
elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 17 And David said
unto God: 'Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even
I it is that have sinned and done very wickedly; but these sheep, what
have they done? let Thy hand, I pray Thee, O LORD my God, be against
me, and against my father's house; but not against Thy people, that
they should be plagued.'
18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that
David should go up, and rear an altar unto the LORD in the
threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 And David went up at the
saying of Gad, which he spoke in the name of the LORD. 20 And Ornan
turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons that were with him
hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger,
Latest blog posts on http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/
* Newsflash: King David had Literate Servants
* Was die j?dische Frommigkeit animieren soll
* Equal Justice for All - even in Israel?
* The Warmongering Laboring Amazons

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Message: 3
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 23:08:18 GMT
Re: [Avodah] New Brachos

It seems that I am missing some extremely basic information on the definitions of Bracha L'vatala and Bracha She'eino Tzricha.

R"n Chana Luntz wrote:

> The classic case of a brocha sheaino tzricha is saying an
> extra brocha over a food during the course of the meal
> which is not necessary because of the earlier brochos said
> at the beginning of the meal.
> As I understand Tosphos and the Rosh, they are saying that
> such brochos are not actually forbidden d'orisa, not real
> brochos l'vatala, but are only forbidden d'rabbanan.  And
> that the further kinds of brochos you are discussing are
> not even brochos sheino tzricha (it is not as though they
> are covered by other brochos) and hence they are allowed.

I understand the first part of this. But the last part is a big chidush to me.

You seem to be saying this: If I am in the middle of a hamotzi meal, and I
see and smell a really delicious steak in front of me, and so I thank
HaShem for it by saying a Shehakol on eating it - that's assur. But suppose
I am walking down the street and I see a very pretty rock. It is so pretty
that I want to praise HaShem for it, so I say, with Shem and Malchus and in
Hebrew, "Baruch Hashem Who makes pretty rocks." That's NOT assur.

Can that be right? What am I getting backwards? I've always figured that if
the brachos which Chazal composed can be said only in specific situations,
then the brachos they did NOT compose can't be said at all.

Let's consider the literal meanings and classic examples of these two
prohibitions. The lesser prohibition, "bracha she'eina tzricha", is an
"unnecessary bracha", such as if I would say "shehakol" on a steak during a
Hamotzi meal. This is considered an unnecessary bracha, because the steak
(having been covered by the Hamotzi) does not need a bracha. The greater
prohibition, "bracha l'vatala", is a "wasted bracha", such as if I would
say, *not* during a meal, "shehakol" on a steak, with no intention of
eating that steak. This is considered a wasted bracha, because even though
my intention was to praise HaShem for this beautiful and delicious steak,
that is not the function of this bracha. The function of this bracha, as
intended by Chazal, was to permit eating the steak, and because I did not
use the bracha for its intended function, it is considered as wasted.

I perceive a Kal Vachomer relationship here. The lesser prohibition is when
I use a bracha for its intended purpose, but it was unnecessary for me to
do so. The greater prohibition is when I use a bracha for other purposes,
purposes for which it was *not* designed. Would it not be even much more
prohibited to bless Hashem with a bracha which Chazal never even designed
to begin with?

> Note the Tosphos quoted above is specifically discussing
> women saying brochos on mitzvos aseh shehazman grama as is
> the Rosh.  The point of this would seem to be that if you
> had a mitzvah, any mitzvah, there would be no problem you
> making up a brocha from a d'orisa or even d'rabbanan point
> of view, were it not for the additional rule that we cannot
> institute new kinds of brochos post Talmud.  

[begin rhetorical questions] "Additional rule"? WHAT additional rule??? [end rhetorical questions]

Yes, I have heard of this before, that we don't write new brachos. But
until the past few days, I never perceived it as a separate independent
halacha, but only that new post-Talmud brachos would simply be *examples*
of a bracha l'vatala. Where is this additional rule mentioned? What are the
reasons behind it?

(To tell the truth, I learned long ago that "al mitzvas tzitzis" is a very
recent bracha. I always wanted to know where we get the authority to say
it. But it is only now that I'm finally asking.)

R Zev Sero and R' Rich Wolpoe made some comments, on which RCL commented:

> I just wanted to note, and I am not sure if this is an
> answer (and certainly whether it is the whole answer) but
> in the two last cases mentioned here, "lodur bvayis sheyesh
> bo mezuzah" and "al n'qiyyus yadayim" - we are dealing with
> a situation where under the rules there ought to be a brocha
> except that the metzius of the situation means that if one
> said the normal expected brocha, one would actually be
> saying a sheker ... And (and perhaps this is a further
> stretch) maybe you could say the same thing about the
> Granola bar.

You are making presumptions which are foreign to me. You suggest that
"there ought to be a brocha" for these situations. Says who? If none of the
brachos we know about fit the situation, isn't that good evidence that
Chazal had a reason for not making a bracha? There are lots of mitzvos
which we *don't* say a bracha on, and in each case, our response is not to
write a new one, but to investigate the reasons why there's no bracha. What
makes these cases different?

R' Arie Folger offered a different approach:

> Based on my recent investigation into these matters, I believe
> that we do not generally hold that Chazal legislated the exact
> wording of blessings. Rather, they decreed particular forms we
> must observe. Thus, there is a discussion in the gemara about
> whether one says motzi le'hem min ha-aretz or *ha*motzi...
> ... This same reasoning may be what prompts the 'al neqiyut
> yadayim and 'al peirot haadamah.

I see what you're saying, but I'm far from convinced. I've always thought
that the Gemara's discussion of Motzi and Hamotzi was "What text did they
establish?", not "Now that we know the basic idea, what's the best way to
express it?" But even if they did originally establish only the basic idea,
allowing future generations to write the exact text, how is that extended
to new basic ideas?

Granted that we have a bracha which is said in the morning for an act which
both cleans our hands and removes the ruach ra. How do we allow writing a
new bracha for a way of cleaning hands which *doesn't* remove ruach ra? How
do we know that Chazal considered this worthy of a bracha? Likewise, for Al
Ha'adamah, which would be a fourth type of Bracha Me'ein Shalosh - who says
that this food is important enough for such a bracha?

I suppose it is Tosfos and the Rosh and R' Akiva Eiger who considered these
things worthy of a bracha. Okay, but what basis did they have? I suppose
the answer to that must be (to invoke previous threads) that once a posek
has learned enough, he has an intuitive feel for what the halacha *ought*
to be, whether he can marshal his sources or not.

I suppose that all of these questions would probably vanish if I understood
Bracha L'vatala and Bracha She'eino Tzricha better. (File that away under
"Reasons why Akiva Miller is such a stickler for defining terms".)

Akiva Miller

Small Business Tools
Compete with the big boys.  Click here to find products to benefit your business.

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Message: 4
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 16:44:08 -0500
Re: [Avodah] John Locke and Tzedaqa

Micha Berger wrote:
> 3- Contract isn't the right model. A beris is a covenant, not a
> contract. By which I intend to make the following distinction:
> contract: two parties enter an agreement in order to share the burden
>     of getting both of their needs met. A can't accomplish his own goals
>     without B's help, B similarly needs A, so they enter into a contract
>     to work together to accomplish both's needs.
> covenant: two parties anter into a unity in order to accomplish that
>     union's common goals. A beris is like a marriage, which is why matan
>     Torah is allegorized as a chupah, and teaching nachriim Torah compared
>     to arayos.
How would Avraham's bris with Avimelech fit this paradigm? Yaakov's bris 
with Lavan?
> - duties based law, which can be contractual or imposed. The problem
>   here is that power corrupts, and handing someone the authority to
>   impose duties can dangerously lead to oppression E.g. The US chose
>   a rights based system because the founding fathers of this country
>   felt that King Charles III crossed that line. And so they abandoned
>   duties-based gov't altogether.
I guess that you mean King George.  They didn't abandon duty based 
government, they left it at the state level (my own home state, 
Massachusetts, still fined people for not attending church until the mid 

David Riceman

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 18:57:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] John Locke and Tzedaqa

On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 04:44:08PM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: How would Avraham's bris with Avimelech fit this paradigm? Yaakov's bris 
: with Lavan?

I fail to see the problem. In fact in the latter case, it was clear
from Lavan's reaction with "yigar sahadusa" and invoking the gods of
their ancestors that Lavan understood a beris to be creating a new
unified entity. More unified than Yaaqov's intent.

: I guess that you mean King George.  They didn't abandon duty based 
: government, they left it at the state level (my own home state, 
: Massachusetts, still fined people for not attending church until the mid 
: 1800s).

This is drifting off topic, but see what I later wrote contrasting
constitutional law with halalhah. One is about guaranteeing limits, so
that rights aren't abrogated, the other is about mitzvos asei and
mitzvos lo saasei. Which are must like duties, if it were not that
the Torah is a beris rather than a contract. By "duty" I mean an
obligation to the other, and the Torah isn't framed in terms of keeping
other Jews as full "others".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's nice to be smart,
mi...@aishdas.org        but it's smarter to be nice.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - R' Lazer Brody
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 6
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 19:04:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] burning bush

R' Joel Rich:
> IIRC the gemara mentions a case where 2 tannaim (amoraim) were sitting
> together and one heard a voice telling him to return to the beit
> medrash (where he became R"Y) and the other didn't.

Taanis 21a, though it says that it was two Malachei HaShareis who were
passing. Oh, and hello everyone, I'm back! :-)


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Message: 7
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 03:25:46 +0200
Re: [Avodah] John Locke and Tzedaqa

> You seem to think that if, in your own eyes, your logic is impeccable --
> then your logic has the full status of a de'oraisa.  But I'm guessing that
> your logic is peccable.
> Rn Toby Katz

Let me clarify: I wasn't saying my logic is absolutely
incontrovertible. I was more trying to say that my logic appears to ME
to be reliable, until someone will come along and disprove me. I
wasn't trying to make a "real" d'oraita sevara. I was just trying to
say that even though John Locke isn't a Torah authority, nevertheless,
his views are logical and so can carry weight in a halakhic discussion
until they are (a) disproven logically or (b) disproven according to
an explicit halakhah that contradicts him. I was really just trying to
justify my citation of him in the first place, his very admission into
the discussion.

Similarly, Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg, regarding qol isha, says eit la'asot
la-shem, but then he notes that actually, only Hazal can make an eit
la'asot la-shem, but that anyway, since he had provided other halakhic
justification too, he really didn't need a "real" eit la'asot la-shem
anyway. His citation of that principle was rhetorical, as was my
citation of sevara being d'oraita.

R' Dov Laiser was thus correct that (1) Rn' Katz misunderstood me, but
that (2) my vague citation of sevara being d'oraita opened the door
for her objection. I should have explained myself better.

> On a tangent and by way of well intended advice, I know that you are fond
> of Rabbis Hirschenson, Uziel, Herzog and Berkovits, and that is your right.
> However, by constantly referencing a narrow slice of Jewish thinkers, the
> appeal of your arguments to others who may not share your fondness suffers.
> R' Dov Laiser

AFAIK, Rabbis Hirschensohn, Uziel, and Herzog are the only authorities
to have REALLY deeply investigated democracy from the perspective of a
poseq. If there are others, please tell me.

But your advise is well-taken. But I can only cite those people I've
yet learned, however. I'm still learning.

> R, Nachum Eliezer Rabinovitch (RY at Maale Adumim and author of Yad
> Peshuta), in his Darkah Shel Torah, ... IIRC, he
> finds a form of social contract theory in these sources.
> R' Dov Laiser

Thank you for this information. I'll have to check this reference. I
have seen fascinating things from Rabbi Rabinovitch cited by Rabbi
Jonathan Sacks.

> Like Moshe
> Feiglin, R. Rabinovitch holds that Torah's conception of democracy (yes, he
> believes it has one) requires direct elections, not proportional
> representation.
> R' Dov Laiser

As I understand Feiglin, he was not calling for direct elections. His
emphasis was on the elections being local district elections rather
than national ones. He was not discussion direct versus proportional.

In fact, according to Locke, the form of government is immaterial, as
long as it has the consent of the people. (In fact, Locke doesn't even
require elections; for him, even complying with the government's laws
grants tacit consent.) Henry David Thoreau goes even further, and says
that sometimes, voting can obfuscate democracy, because one votes and
then believes he has done his entire democratic duty; he therefore
sits back and lets the government do what it will. He pretends to
oppose the government's policies with his vote, but he proceeds to
obey the government in deed, thus granting its policies more
legitimacy than his vote ever sought to deny. (Thoreau is discussing
grave injustices, such as slavery. Especially, he is speaking of grave
injustices which the government requires that one be complicit in;
Thoreau is preaching ein shaliah b'davar `averah. He says that with
minor governmental inconveniences (unreasonably high taxes, perhaps?),
we ought to let it go, and not rebel against the government. He
distinguishes between incidental and minor friction in the machine,
which one ought let go unchallenged, versus systemic friction that has
its own part of the machine that produces more friction than useful
work - these, the individuals must protest and disobey the government
over. Voting is not sufficient.)

I don't know Feiglin's views on the matter of direct and
representative democracy, but we must realize that in the quotation of
Feiglin I brought, nothing was said about the form of representative,
only that the elections would be local and not national.

As for my own view of elections: the Torah (in Devarim) says the
PEOPLE choose the king of Israel (it says "you shall set up a
king...", i.e. am yisrael will choose the king), but nothing is said
of elections, and I doubt the technology of the time would permit
national elections. I suspect a non-electoral form of consent was at
play. Since AFAIK the mass gathering around Saul cheered for him, and
since the nation as a whole tacitly acknowledged Saul as their king,
this qualified as a democratic acceptance of him. Even though
elections were not held, an alternative form of consent was procured.
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, my rosh yeshiva in Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tiqwa,
said that there's a sugya in the Yerushalmi that says that as long as
King David ruled in Hebron over Judah, he was not halakhically a king,
because the whole nation of Israel hadn't accepted him yet. The
Yerushalmi is obviously not talking about whether King David had had
elections or not.

As for my own view of direct democracy: it is impossible in practice
to have direct democracy, and besides, it'd lead to the tyranny of the
majority. It cannot possibly be that the Torah wants us to have direct
democracy. The Torah cannot demand the impossible.

I'll answer R' Micha's more substantive objections tomorrow, bz"h.

Michael Makovi

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Message: 8
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 20:11:55 +0200
Re: [Avodah] John Locke and Tzedaqa

I. One

> If the categories and first principles [i.e. Locke, etc.]
> are alien [to Hazal, etc.], who said the conclusion reached
> from them -- no matter how sound the logic -- are not equally
> alien to Torah? This is something that would require proving,
> rather than assuming that synthesis is possible and
> interpreting Torah to fit.
> R' Micha

First, Locke derived his concepts from the Tanakh, and prima facie,
the Tanakh has many democratic ideas (the people choose a king, the
king must carry a Torah with him and abide by impartial rule of law,
etc.), so my first presumption is that the Torah and democracy agree,
until proven otherwise. Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman has written many
articles and books showing that the Tanakh itself is filled with ideas
which we take for granted, but which are actually extremely
democratic, such as the universal literacy demanded by the Torah, or
the Torah's denying landed property to the kohanim.

Second, Rav Kook said (as quoted at

 ??????? ????? ????? ?????, ????? ???? ?????, ???? ?? ??? ???? ?????
???? ???????, ?????? ???????? ?????, ??? ????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?????.
?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???? ??????.

Ke'she-ha-musar ha-tivi mitgaber ba-olam, be-eize tzurah she-tihyeh,
hayav kol adam l'qabel le-tokho oto mi-meqoro, de-haynu me-hitgaluto
ba-olam, ve-et peratav yifales al pi orhot ha-torah. Az ya'aleh b'yado
ha-musar ha-tivi, amitz u-mezuqaq.

In other words: even if the Torah and democracy are opposed, we might
have an obligation, according to Rav Kook, to accept democracy and
Torah-ize it. All the more so this would be true if the Torah and
democracy are actually not opposed in the first place!

Rav Kook also said that

??? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??????, ???? ????? ????? ???? ???? ?????
????? ???? ????? ???, ?? ?? ???? ?"? ?"? ????? ????? ??? ????? ?? ????
?"? ????? ?????? ???? ????, ???? ???? ?"? ???? ?????.

Ve-im tapul she'elah al eize mishpat she-ba-torah, she-lefi musagei
ha-musar yihyeh nireh she-tzarikh lihyot muvan bi-ofen aher, az im
be-emet al pi beit din ha-gadol yuhlat she-ze ha-mishpat lo ne'emar ki
im b'otam ha-t'na'im she-kvar einam, vadai yi'matzei im ze (al ze?)
meqor ba-torah.

As Professor Marc Shapiro comments, "These are incredible words. R.
Kook was also 'confident that if a particular moral intuition
reflecting the divine will achieves widespread popularity, it will no
doubt enable the halakhic authorities to find genuine textual basis
for their new understanding.' (Tamar Ross) R. Kook is not speaking
about apologetics here, but a revealing of Torah truth that was
previously hidden. The truth is latent, and with the development of
moral ideas, which is driven by God, the new insight in the Torah
becomes apparent."

Of Rabbi Norman Lamm, Professor Shapiro says, "He then develops the
notion of a developing halakhic morality in which our evolving
understanding of morality lead us back to the Torah 'to rediscover
what was always there in the inner folds of the Biblical texts and
halakhic traditions'".

So that is why I am interested in democracy, even if the Tanakh and
Gemara would have been dumbfounded and perplexed. After all, wouldn't
they be equally perplexed by our revulsion at slavery, or our
rejection of polygamy?

> I should point out that this is a general problem I have with people who
> describe MO in terms of the adoption of modern ethics.
> R' Micha

The introduction by David Hazony to Essential Essays on Judaism,
discussing Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, points out precisely this
criticism against the Conservative movement. Hazony argues that
according to Rabbi Berkovits, only Jewish principles, inherent to the
Torah, can carry any weight. Even if you disagree with Rabbi
Berkovits's halakhic method, I cannot see anyone disagreeing with
Rabbi Berkovits that only Torah values and not non-Jewish values can
influence halakhah.

Alternatively, we could follow Rav Kook, as I have quoted him above.
Perhaps we might adopt non-Jewish values, but we will let the Torah
translate them into terms acceptable to us. Or, we will discover new
Torah values, latent in the Tanakh all along, which we never realized
were always there the whole time.

(The more I learn the thought of Rabbis Kook and Berkovits, the more
similar they appear to me, and the more I believe Rabbi Berkovits
merely took Rabbi Kook further than Rav Kook himself ever went. But
that's another subject.)

II. Two

> It appears to be a system for getting people to be just, and not "ish
> es rei'eihu chaim bal'o".
> Notice it's not a social contract between people to keep each other safe.
> It's an obligation imposed by a Third Party to get people to imitate Him
> (veshameru derekh Hashem).
> R' Micha

I don't think Locke would disagree. Getting people to keep each other
safe IS a large part of being just.

Additionally, back when Shabbat observance was essential to the
general moral fabric of society, then coercing another to keep Shabbat
would be part of getting people to keep each other safe.

The Torah wants us to ensure that we are all just and G-d-fearing. But
nowadays, coercion just doesn't work, and Rabbi Ya'akov Ettlinger's
omer mutar/tinok she-nishba shita shows exactly why coercion no longer
works. People no longer take religious observance for granted as a
basic part of the fabric of society. Back when Shabbat observance was
taken for granted as the Jewish way, then coercing others to keep
Shabbat was perfectly libertarian. If my next-door neighbor breaks
Shabbat, then we all get hurt by it; kol yisrael `areivim ze le-ze.

Locke's entire source for natural law is that G-d commanded it. G-d
prohibited murder, and so all have a right to live. So if G-d also
commanded one to keep Shabbat, why is Shabbat any less legitimate a
part of natural law than murder? Why can't kashrut be part of natural
law? As long as everyone is a traditionally observant Jew who takes
Sinai for granted, then the whole Torah is natural law for a Jew, and
coercing others is equally legitimate whether for murder or for
Shabbat; the distinction between bein adam l'havero and la-maqom
almost disappears. And I think Locke would agree with this, if he ever
thought about it. (I doubt he did. Orthodox Judaism probably wasn't on
his radar.)

Locke's arguments for religious toleration don't apply to Judaism.
Locke offers three arguments:
1) The government shouldn't concern itself whether you believe in
Jesus correctly,
2) Coercion won't make you believe in Jesus anyway; it'll only make
you lie with your lips and claim you believe,
3) We have to be humble, and realize we don't know which religion is
the true one.
But Judaism would reply:
1) The government may not care what you believe, but it DOES care what you DO
2) Coercion may not be effective in compelling belief, but it is VERY
effective in compelling action
3) We saw G-d on the mountain, for crying out loud! What do you mean,
we don't know which religion is the true one? We saw Him with our own

The difference nowadays is that coercing action, while effective, will
only embitter and anger people, and distance them from Judaism even
more. Coercing a person to keep Shabbat works when EVERYONE believes
in G-d and knows that there's only one kosher kind of Judaism, but
since the Reform movement came along, this is no longer obvious to
everyone - Rabbi Ya'akov Ettlinger.

But before the Reform movement came along, Locke's reasons for
religious toleration didn't apply to Judaism, and so coercing Jews to
keep Shabbat was perfectly libertarian. As I said, a Shabbat violator
hurts his neighbors by destroying the social fabric. It also gets G-d
mad, which isn't good for anyone.

G-d doesn't have a desire that we coerce each other, in and of itself.
He wants us to coerce each other because it'll ensure that we do the
right thing. But if nowadays, coercion doesn't work, then why would
G-d want us to practice coercion? He doesn't take pleasure in coercion
per se, only in its success.

One of my rabbis told me that according to the Hazon Ish, "Today,
religious coercion won't work, and even if it did, we wouldn't want to
practice it nowadays." We also all know the famous shita of the Hazon
Ish, that coercion and such was only for a time when miracles were

I have a friend who is both Kahanist and libertarian, and he agreed
with me. In his own words,
> [T]he coercion there [in tzedaqa], as stated by the Rambam, was akin to the coercion of all mitzvot,
> because in those days coercion was an important tool in maintaining a healthy community, where a
> few "bad weeds" wouldn't spoil the otherwise strongly religious population.
> ...
> Compulsion was employed by the shotrim for all mitzvot. Its clear from the beginning of Hilchot
> Sanhedrin in the Rambam that the officers maintained a certain "atmosphere" if you will on all
> issues and in all places and enforced the performance of all mitzvoth.
> ...
> Today, however, when coercion for mitzvot isn't relevant, there would
> be no governmental involvement in enforcing any commandments, including tzedaka.... And a person
> must still give tzedaka, just as he must still keep shabbat, but just as the government wont send agents
> to force him to keep shabbat at home, it wont force him to give tzedaka."

And the amazing thing is, I've gone from using Locke-ian
libertarianism to forbid the kehilla to charge tzedaqa, all the way to
justifying authoritarian religious coercion even according to Locke.
Judaism has become libertarian and Locke has become authoritarian, in
my skilled hands. Aren't I talented? But seriously, what I think
happened is, while everyone else was duking it out between Judaism and
democracy, between laissez-faire libertarianism and
positive-liberty/heteronomous Judaism, between rights-based and
obligations-based ethics, I preferred to follow Rav Kook up to a
higher vantage point, and behold from above the fray that really, all
along, there was never any argument. Even Locke would agree in a
traditionally religious community that religious coercion is proper,
and even Judaism would agree that in a modern secular society,
coercion is not proper. Locke and Judaism don't disagree; they were
just living at different times and talking about different situations.
But once you understand the oqimta, there's no contradiction between
Judaism and democracy.

> Civil law as the Torah
> expects it from any nation and Torah gov't are two different constructs,
> and attempting to extrapolate one from the other can't just be assumed.
> the beris Noach is a covenant between
> HQBH and the individual. Therefore, the nature of law isn't to produce a
>mutual service society, but to protect individuals.
> R' Micha

The Noahide laws include the obligation to set up courts, which is
very societal and NOT individual. So I think the Noahide laws are just
as societal and non-individual as the Torah is for Jews. G-d's
covenant with Noah included all humans as one giant interconnected
family of brethren all created in His image, who are tasked with peru
u'revu, populating the earth and building societies. Maybe the Noahide
laws encompass 70 nations rather than only one, but it's still
societal and not individual.

So I disagree with your distinction between Noahides and Jews.
According to me, the laws are different - Jews keep Shabbat but
gentiles don't - but the legal principles are the same. Religious
coercion is permitted or forbidden in the same cases. As everyone here
knows about me, I'm loathe to admit any significant difference between
a Jew and a gentile. So a Jewish court can coerce Jews to keep Jewish
law, and a Noahide court can coerce Noahides to keep Noahide law. The
laws in question are different, but G-d's basic expectations are the
same. In computer programming terms, the abstract class is the same
for both, only the implementation for Jews and Noahides differs. Both
of them have the same concerns vis. a vis. libertarianism versus
authoritarianism, rights-based versus obligations-based ethics, etc.
Returning to programming, their functions and methods and parameters
are the same.

> But on a more clearly positive note is parshas Yisro, the 70 zeqeinim, and "kol
> asher yorukha" -- the courts and rabbinate. But this isn't a social
> contract either.
> R' Micha

As I said to R' Zev Sero, it doesn't matter to me which court executes
me for murder, because I'm dead anyway. So the social contract is
irrelevant to courts and justice. Locke says that all equally have a
right to punish their neighbors for transgression. After all, if the
people can give the government that power, then they have it
themselves.  In the state of nature, according to Locke, when there is
no government, then vigilantism is the law. In fact, says Locke, an
unjust government is no different than nature without government, and
so, if the unjust government fails to enforce rights, then vigilantes
are perfectly entitled to take justice into their own hands. So social
contract is irrelevant to the execution of justice in courts. So I'm
not troubled by the lack of social contract in the beit din of Moshe.
Social contract is not necessary, because it's already natural law,
and you're bound by that law, whether it's a government or a vigilante
enforcing it.

In the Biblical period, I think the historicity of Sinai was taken for
granted, so Shabbat and kashrut and everything else were as obviously
a part of natural law as murder and theft. Nowadays, this is no longer
so, which brings us back to Rabbi Ya'akov Ettlinger.

My problem with coercion is davka with tzedaqa. As I said, what if I
want my money to go to this poor person, and not that one? Look at Rav
Hirsch and Austritt. He was appalled that his money was paying for the
Reform movement. It's one thing to coerce a person to keep Shabbat,
but how can you coerce him to pay money to a cause that he opposes??!!

> Here there is grounds to obligate tzedaqah, because a
>  person is obligated to better the community, the covenental whole. The
>  kehillah exists to serve its members, and the members exist to serve
>  the community -- all in a common goal, to follow the Torah.
> R' Micha

My argument concluded that in a small, self-contained community, where
all the members know each other, and where the community is a very
tangible entity providing concrete benefits to its members, that in
such a community, tzedaqa IS conscionable even from a libertarian
perspective. So your above statement, I agree with, because you speak
of the kehillah, and the community.

I might oppose paying tzedaqa, being coerced to spend my money towards
a cause I oppose, but if the community is small enough, then it could
be seen as my paying dues for the right to live with other Jews, use
the mikvah, etc. Also, if you really get dissatisfied, you can move
somewhere else, and so your staying put in the community could be
classed as tacit consent to the social contract, which Locke accepts
as sufficient. But this falls apart in a larger community, like a
nation, where there aren't any kehillot the same way, and where you
can't "move away" from the nation. I can move from Silver Spring to
Baltimore or Potomac, but if the Chief Rabbinate of Israel charged me
tzedaqa, where would I go? Egypt? Jordan?

> There is a causal connection
> between the US's rights-based approach and the current culture of
> entitlement. "Entitlement" is simply rights run amok.
> R' Micha

I disagree. I don't think it is a rights-based approach that is to
blame, but rather, it is WHICH rights are in question. If your only
rights are not to be killed and not to be stolen from, then there is
no risk of entitlement. But if your rights include the right to be
taken care of by everyone else, then you demand welfare.
Libertarianism is very rights-based, but because the rights are
sharply limited, there is no risk of entitlement. Socialism is also
rights-based, but because you have the right to be provided for no
matter how efficiently you do your job, entitlement runs amok and
there's no incentive to contribute to society. EVERYTHING is
rights-based; the only question is what the list of rights includes.

So I think the truth is the exact opposite of what you say: Locke-ian
libertarian has very little danger of leading to entitlement. By
contrast, once you start dealing with positive liberty, and building
public schools and hospitals, and providing welfare, etc., then
entitlement is a very real danger.

Michael Makovi

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Message: 9
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 13:59:58 GMT
Re: [Avodah] New Brachos

Here's another way of looking at my problem:

Let's say that the issurim of Bracha L'vatala and Bracha She'eina Tzricha
only apply when someone recites a bracha which has already been
established, either in general context, or with specific text, and then he
misuses that bracha in some manner -- but that these issurim do not apply
to a bracha which is not "on the books".

If so, then how could anyone hold that Bracha L'vatala is an Issur
D'Oraisa? Such a combination would happen only if he said Birkas Hatorah or
Birkas Hamazon wrongly. But surely, the poskim who hold Bracha L'vatala to
be d'Oraisa extend it far past these two cases, don't they?

Akiva Miller

Diet Help
Cheap Diet Help Tips. Click here.

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Message: 10
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 18:59:28 +0000
Re: [Avodah] The Dynamic of Post-Talmudic Brachos

See RIF on the brachah acharonah on Rice! Where his qayma lan trumps
a specific statement in Bavli]

I haven't finish Shas but I found nothing in Shas that limits ADDING
brachos! And even more - EG Ashkenaz altered Ligmor es Hahallel to Liqro.

I would prefer to see a map of the territory that is true to reality,
and not true to supposed "rules".

Plus with the Halachic impact of Zohar and Arizal, we see that Rav Ashi
was NOT the last word in Halachah [although he did and an era]

> Which is why I am afraid of relying on analogies. Heqesh and g"sh require
> a mesorah for a reason. You can't tell when you created a bad law by
> extending an analogy beyond its limits.

What about Binyan Av? Tzad Hashavah?
Why not fundamentally refuse to see electricity as "fire"?
Or how about the Rosh applying purchasing s'forim as a qiyyum of mitzvas
k'sivas Sefer Torah?
Analogies are a big part of the fabric of shas and posqim.

Some want to eliminate "b'rachamav" in Boneh Yerushalayim in bensching
Source: "tziyyon b'MISHPAT tipadeh"

If we are THAT strict-constructionist then I ask:
How can we equate BINYAN and PIDYON! How is this passuq at all analogous

> Rav Yochanan

I this refers to Brother-in-law of Reish Laqish then it's
Rabbi Yochanan!

Which kinda "begs" the question:

How did the Bavli - laden with non-s'muchin - become normative over the
Y-lmi which overwhelmingly had s'muchin!

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 11
From: "Tal Moshe Zwecker" <tal.zwec...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 20:30:08 +0200
Re: [Avodah] What Bracha on Granola Bars

I guess its a Machlokes Star-K vs the OU then.

"However, General Mills Nature Valley Granola Bars and Quaker Granola Bars 
are processed enough to make their brocha rishona a Mezonos and brocha 
achrona Al Hamichya."

unless something has changed since this was written


Brochos for Breakfast
Rabbi Dovid Heber, Star-K Kashrus Administrator

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
VoIP: 516-320-6022
eFax: 1-832-213-3135
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here:
http://groups.google.com/group/beermayimchaim >
> _______________________________________________
> Avodah mailing list
> Avo...@lists.aishdas.org
> http://lists.aishdas.org/listinfo.cgi/avodah-aishdas.org
> End of Avodah Digest, Vol 26, Issue 260
> *************************************** 

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Message: 12
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 14:59:27 -0500
Re: [Avodah] New Brachos

On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 01:59:58PM +0000, kennethgmil...@juno.com wrote:
: Let's say that the issurim of Bracha L'vatala and Bracha She'eina
: Tzricha only apply when someone recites a bracha which has already been
: established, either in general context, or with specific text, and then
: he misuses that bracha in some manner -- but that these issurim do not
: apply to a bracha which is not "on the books".

I think this analysis slices the matter in a confusing angle, which is
why I proposed looking at two distinct questions:
1- Does the situation call for a berakhah?
2- Is this berakhah an established nusach?

In the case of making shehakol on steak that was already included within
the hamotzi on the meal as a whole, the answers are "no", and "yes",
respectively. The berakhah is levatalah because that's what question
#1 is all about. The fact that the text said is an established coinage
doesn't change it from being sheim H' lashav.

Ashk and Seph debate as tp when birkhos hamitzvah are said; is the
defining feature "asher qidishanu" -- thus including the einah metzuvah
ve'osah -- or "vetzivanu" and thus only on chiyuvim/issurim. While the
Ashk position has a broad definition of when a situation "calls for" a
berakhah and thus saying sheim Hashem, so does picking up a spice for
the sole purpose of having a reason to say "borei minei besamim". We
don't demand strict minimalism.

But the question with puffed wheat or toasted grains isn't question
#1. The person is about to eat, so the time is appropriate, there is
no berakhah levatalah. However, arguably none of Chazal's standard
coinages apply. So then the question is between (1) using a berakhah
that post-dates gemara, (2) sheqer, or (3) not making a berakah desipte
the general taqanah to make one before eating.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             With the "Echad" of the Shema, the Jew crowns
mi...@aishdas.org        G-d as King of the entire cosmos and all four
http://www.aishdas.org   corners of the world, but sometimes he forgets
Fax: (270) 514-1507      to include himself.     - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:02:24 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Dynamic of Post-Talmudic Brachos

On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 06:59:28PM +0000, rabbirichwol...@gmail.com wrote:
:> Which is why I am afraid of relying on analogies. Heqesh and g"sh require
:> a mesorah for a reason. You can't tell when you created a bad law by
:> extending an analogy beyond its limits.

: What about Binyan Av? Tzad Hashavah?

Are these analogies? I believe they describe forms of inductive
reasoning; ie ways to build a kelal from instances.

: Why not fundamentally refuse to see electricity as "fire"?

I didn't say "refuse", I said "afraid of". Analogies have their role,
but they have to be handled with suspicion.

: Or how about the Rosh applying purchasing s'forim as a qiyyum of mitzvas
: k'sivas Sefer Torah?

That's an analogy? It's deduction from first principles. The mitzvah is
defined in terms of a function, which the Rif then says is fulfilled by
other sefarim.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Time flies...
mi...@aishdas.org                    ... but you're the pilot.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - R' Zelig Pliskin
Fax: (270) 514-1507


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