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Volume 27: Number 131

Sun, 20 Jun 2010

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Michael Poppers <MPopp...@kayescholer.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 16:54:02 -0400
[Avodah] using a pat of butter (was "Re: Making Ice Cream on

Segue from the Avodah V27n130 discussion: can one use solid butter on
Shabbos (I'm thinking of 'shmearing' a pat onto baked goods, but I guess
the Q would also be relevant to placing a pat onto a hot food)?  Seemingly
involves not only a change from solid to liquid but also (more
importantly?) m'macheiq.  Normally, I would first ask such a Q of my Rav,
but as the issue is totally theoretical for me but may have general
relevance/applications....  Thanks.

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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Message: 2
From: Zvi Lampel <zvilam...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 16:41:20 -0400
[Avodah] Korach Question

Sun, 13 Jun 2010 Richard Wolberg<cantorwolb...@cox.net>  asked:

Also, wasn't Korach present at Har Sinai?  Didn't all the people hear/and
or see the actual voice of HaShem for the first 2 Commandments? So how
could Korach, after witnessing this, deny it?

My answer:

The Rambam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah) 8:1) states that Moshe Rabbeynu's 
miracles of the desert were performed to solve problems, not to prove 
his prophecy (i.e., not to prove that anything he would ever report as 
being said by Hashem actually was).*

Yet, one of the examples the Rambam himself brings seems to directly 
contradict his thesis: Korach's assemblage denied Moshe---i.e., denied 
Moshe's proclamation that it was Hashem Who dictated the appointment of 
Aharon as Kohen Gadol, and accused Moshe of fabricating the claim. And 
to stop the rebellion and prove that he was indeed merely transmitting 
Hashem's dictation, Hashem caused the earth to swallow them up. As the 
Torah says: Moshe declared, "By this you will know that Hashem sent me 
to do all these things; that it is not from my mind" (B'Midbar 16:28).

So the miracle */was*/ performed to prove his authenticity as a prophet! 
How can the Rambam maintain his thesis in face of this fact, not to 
mention cite it as an example?

Answer: The Rambam ends this passage as follows:

* *

And where is it stated that the revelation at Mt. Sinai was the sole 
proof that Moshe' prophetic messages were true beyond all 
doubt?---"Behold I come to you in a thick cloud for the purpose that the 
nation will hear My speaking with you, and will believe also in you 
*forever.*" It is therefore implicit that before this thing, they did 
*not* trust in Moshe with a trust that stands forever, but with a trust 
that carries afterwards second thoughts.

The Rambam all along was talking about the trust in the authenticity of 
Moshe's prophecies that is /forever enduring/, not a belief that lasts 
for only a short while. The fact the verse says that now the people will 
trust in Moshe /forever /means that until now--such as when the verses 
said that at the splitting of the sea "and they believed in Hashem and 
in Moshe His servant"--the emunah referred to was not an emunah 
*l'oloam__.** Only when we ourselves heard Hashem assigning Moshe 
Rabbeynu the role of conveying His Will, we /knew directly/ that /from 
then on, /whatever Moshe would say in Hashem's name was authentic. 
Proofs that a prophet is authentic based on miracles alone, however, 
does not provide enduring trust in that prophet, because miracles carry 
the suspicion of trickery.

But /Maamad Har Sinai/ did not remove free-will from humans. One is 
still free to allow his desires---a desire for honor, in Korach's 
case---to overcome his reason. Hashem's guarantee that whatever Moshe 
would say in His name is indeed His will, was a fact sincere reason 
could not deny. The problem was Korach's influence on the people to 
disregard the fact their reason told them to accept Hashem's will 
conveyed by Moshe Rabbeynu. This was a need that had to be addressed by 
the dramatic, miraculous punishment brought upon Korach and his 
followers. This miracle, as all others, had neither the ability nor the 
purpose of proving that Moshe Rabbeynu's prophetic instructions were 
always authentically from Hashem; the miracle was merely a quick fix to 
restore the people's clear thinking.

By strict logic, the miracle was a weak substitute for* _indirectly_* 
demonstrating what the people themselves had already _*directly_* 
witnessed. At best, it could prove that this particular decree of Aaron 
being the Kohen Gadol was indeed Hashem's will. But it could not 
elicit---in the absence of /Maamad Har Sinai/---the enduring trust that 
_*whatever_* Moshe would ever report in Hashem's name was indeed what 
Hashem said. Indeed, as pointed out by my son Yehoshua, the lesson did 
not last more than one day: And all the congregation of the Bnei Yisroel 
complained the next day against Moshe and against Aharon, saying: Why 
are you killing the People of Hashem?" (Bamidbar 17:6).

* The Rambam specifies the miracles of the desert, excluding those of 
Egypt, probably in view of the three miracles (staff to snake, water to 
blood, pure hand to leprous) Hashem told Moshe to perform to prove his 
credentials as a prophet to the Israelites. However, even these miracles 
could not serve to prove that Moshe Rabbeynu would never lose his status 
as a true prophet. A true prophet is capable of becoming corrupt, as did 
happen with Yeravam ben Nevat, for example. (Indeed, according to Rabbi 
Akiva, it is to such a corrupt prophet that the Torah refers when it 
speaks of a false prophet who [had previously] established himself as 
authentic through the performance of miracles.)

** The Torah used "emunah" to mean temporary belief, and had to modify 
it with "l'olom" to designate permanent belief. The Rambam thereon used 
the unmodified term "emunah" to mean a permanent belief, and when 
referring to non-permanent belief modified it as "an emunah that stands 
forever and carries no second thoughts afterwards*.*

  Zvi Lampel

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Message: 3
From: Goldmeier <goldme...@012.net.il>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 00:00:16 +0300
[Avodah] The relevance of shmitta nowadays

In my shiur tonight started learning Siman 67 of Choshen Mishpat which 
discusses the halachos of shmittas ksafim. In se'if 1 the main topic of 
discussion is whether it is at all relevant nowadays m'd'rabanan.

Very interestingly, in the SMA seif kattan 2, he says that this 
discussion of shmittas ksafim being nogei'a today as a drabanan is only 
regarding shmittas ksafim, but not shmitta of charisha and zriya. He 
then gives two reasons why the chachomim never made a takana that we 
have to refrain from planting during shmitta nowadays - 1. because it is 
a gzeira nobody would listen to, as when shmitta is drabanan there is no 
bracha of shana shishis (he says the bracha only applies when shmitta is 
mdoraisa) so if they couldnt plant they would have nothing to eat. So 
chachomim did not make a takana against planting because nobody would 
have listened. 2. because it wasnt relevant to make a takana in chu"l 
because there is no kedusha there, so they didnt bother making the 
takana in Eretz Yisrael either. (whereas regarding shmittas ksafim, they 
made the takana for everywhere including chu"l)

Am I misunderstanding something? In all the arguments over shmitta 
nowadays, I never heard that we dont have to keep it at all because the 
chachomim never made the takana. And if the chachomim really did not 
make a takana to refrain from planting "nowadays", did they make a 
takana later, or why do we keep it at all? If they really never made a 
takana, so why are we so machmir and fight about hetter mechira - we 
dont have to keep any of it!It is not even a mitzva d'rabanan to keep, 
if the SM'A is correct that there was never a takanas chachomim!

Kol tuv
Rafi Goldmeier

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Message: 4
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 16:58:45 -0400
[Avodah] Volcanos and Miracles

Recently the Hamodia Magazine published a story with the title "When 
a Volcano Did Hashem's Will."  This story, in essentially the same 
form, was sent to me by several people and appeared in a number of 
publications. (Please see http://tinyurl.com/23ota8k for one version. 
The Hamodia version does not seem to be on the Internet.)

Personally, I am a bit "disturbed: by the many "miracle" stories that 
are circulated today.  First of all, I am never certain that they are 
true. Secondly, I wonder why people are so taken with them.  I have 
the feeling that today there is a trend to turn Yahadus into a 
religion of hocus pocus.

These and some other thoughts prompted me to write a letter to the 
Editor of the Hamodia Magazine. The Hamodia published this letter in 
this week's issue of the magazine. It is at

on Volcanos and Miracles" Letter to the Editor of the Hamodia 
Magazine June 16, 2010, page 5.

Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 13:03:49 -0400
[Avodah] Predictions of Oneshim

I commented on Areivim in a discussion about RALSteinman's warning that
if the gov't were to cut stipends to full-time learners, Israel's economy
would collapse. My problem is that this kind of cause-and-effect isn't
what we encounter in life.

Which is why I'm expecting to learn it stated as a warning -- "could",
not prediction -- "will".

I wrote:
>> But even without hesteir panim, there is still the problem of "tzadiq
>> vera lo". Even if RALS holds that cutting the stipends was necessarily
>> an act of rish'us, they could still be the rasha vetov lo.

On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 05:13:33PM -0400, Zev Sero replied on Areivim:
> It could be, but since when do we *count* on it?  Isn't the 11th ikkar
> still operative?  Don't we still say it and aren't we required to still
> believe it, no matter how many times it appears to us to fail, at least
> temporarily?

You shifted argument. My point is just that midah keneged midah and
belief in sechar va'onesh don't get translated to being able to predict
the given onesh if someone were to make a decision. I'm saying we can't
count on the fulfilment of these rules, not that we can count on them
not being fulfilled.

The simple understanding of these things leads to a terrible disjoin
with life experience. I couldn't pen the words David haMelekh did,
"Naar hayisi", yes, but I have seen a tzadiq where "zar'o mevaqeish
lakhem." Perhaps the answer is in the word "ne'ezav", the tzadiq who
can't feed his family has no sense of abandonment -- he is living
within "gam zu letovah". But now we're leaving simple understandings
and entering murkiness.

It also invites a "No True Scottsman" fallacy. Andy Flew invented the
term. Here's a simple rendition of the fallacy. Hamish McDonald reads
an article about the Brighton Sex Maniac. He declares that "No Scotsman
would do such a thing." The next day he reads his newspaper and learns
of a man from Aberdeen who was even worse. Rather than admitting he was
wrong yesterday, Mr McDonald says to himself "No true Scotsman would do
such a thing."

In our case, if you did find a tzadiq who was neezav in the sense of
feeling abandoned, wouldn't the natural resolution be, "Well then,
he couldn't have been a true tzadiq"? IOW, that interpretation is
meaningless, as it presumes its conclusion in the word "tzadiq".

A mashal for my original statement:

Ani maamin beemunah sheleimah in Newton's First Law of Motion:
     Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that
     state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
(As modified by General Relativity's definition of "uniform motion",
requiring me to say "uniform motion relative to a given inertial frame
of reference.")

And yet, we live on a planet where friction is nearly inescapable and
lemaaseh any object I've seen move will eventually come to rest due to
energy lost to that friction, if it hasn't already. (Even the moon is
slowing down.)

Similarly, there is a concept of onesh, but I have no idea how it will
actually play out. Midah keneged midah can happen in so many ways,
short of HQBH spelling it out in nevu'ah, how can anyone predict how it
will happen?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A pious Jew is not one who worries about his fellow
mi...@aishdas.org        man's soul and his own stomach; a pious Jew worries
http://www.aishdas.org   about his own soul and his fellow man's stomach.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 6
From: "Gershon Dubin" <gershon.du...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 19:37:29 GMT
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Mida keneged Mida

From: Micha Berger mi...@aishdas.org

<<Which is why I'm expecting to learn it stated as a warning -- "could",
not prediction -- "will".>>
I too was addressing the narrow point that "who says that HKB"H always acts
mida keneged mida".  Clearly, without nevuah, the keneged part will be
unclear to us a good portion of the time.


Get Free Email with Video Mail & Video Chat!
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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 09:50:38 -0400
[Avodah] The Avos in History

So, I get in my mailbox a link to
or http://bit.ly/9iWDc7
(Their hook being between Father's Day and the avos.)

So I see the title "The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History?", and brace
myself for the worst. Instead, I find this:
    What objective evidence, independent of the Bible, do we have to
    support the Middle Bronze Age as the Patriarchal Age?

    As it turns out, quite a bit.

    The Price of Slaves

    One important item involves the price of slaves in silver
    shekels. From ancient Near Eastern sources we know the price of
    slaves in some detail for a period lasting about 2,000 years, from
    2400 B.C. to 400 B.C. Under the Akkad Empire (2371-2191 B.C.), a
    decent slave fetched 10-15 silver shekels, though the price dropped
    slightly to 10 shekels during the Third Dynasty of Ur (2113-2006
    B.C.). In the second millennium B.C., during the early Babylonian
    period, the price of slaves rose to about 20 shekels, as we know from
    the Laws of Hammurabi and documents from Mari and elsewhere from the
    19th and 18th centuries B.C. By the 14th and 13th centuries B.C.,
    at Nuzi and Ugarit, the price crept up to 30 shekels and sometimes
    more. Another five hundred years later, Assyrian slave markets
    demanded 50 to 60 shekels for slaves; and under the Persian Empire
    (fifth and fourth centuries B.C.), soaring inflation pushed prices
    up to 90 and 120 shekels.

He then compares this to Yoseif's price (Ber 37:28), 20 sheqel; Shemos
21:32, where the repayment for an eved by a shor shenagach is 30 sheqel,
and Melachim II 15:20, where the price is 50 sheqel.

Another snippet:
    Treaties and Covenants

    Another kind of evidence comes from our knowledge of treaties and
    covenants from as early as the third millennium B.C. The subject
    is a complex one, but suffice it to say that we can now construct a
    typology of treaties that allows us to date them by their essential
    form and structure, which vary from time to time and from place
    to place.

Then he shows that Bereishis reflects current knowledge of then-current
geo-political conditions, the rise of Egypt, naming conventions, and
social life (compared to the Nuzi tablets). And last, the author shows
that our knowledge of history that far back wasn't even unique for
the Middle East.

This level of detail is the exact opposite of the assumptions used by
"Higher" Criticism in dating the alleged texts that were supposedly
folded into the Torah.


Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
mi...@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Message: 8
From: Gil Student <gil.stud...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 09:58:10 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Avos in History

This article was written by Prof. Kenneth Kitchen, a long-time
supporter of the historical veracity of Tanach and author of the
voluminous book: On The Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans,

Gil Student

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Message: 9
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 09:03:39 -0400
[Avodah] Klalei horaah

Why did the gemara come up with klalei horaah (rules for psak) rather than
deciding each disagreement on its own merits?(e.g. was Rav always right in
cases of issurin?)
Joel Rich

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Message: 10
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 17:07:06 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Klalei horaah

I assumed that the klalei hora'ah were algorithms *based on* having decided
each disagreement on its own merits.  Once this process was completed, the
gemara states its conclusions that, e.g., Rav wins every machlokes in
issurin over Shmuel, and that we only follow Abbayei over Rava in 6 cases. 
After all, even the exceptionless klalei hapsak don't always pan out

Joshua Meisner
Did a little research - see  tosfot gittin 60b "vhashta"-may be that not everyone accepted this rule!
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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Message: 11
From: Joshua Meisner <jmeis...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 16:34:58 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Klalei horaah

On Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM, Rich, Joel <JR...@sibson.com> wrote:

>  Why did the gemara come up with klalei horaah (rules for psak) rather
> than deciding each disagreement on its own merits?(e.g. was Rav always right
> in cases of issurin?)
> KT
> Joel Rich

I assumed that the klalei hora'ah were algorithms *based on* having decided
each disagreement on its own merits.  Once this process was completed, the
gemara states its conclusions that, e.g., Rav wins every machlokes in
issurin over Shmuel, and that we only follow Abbayei over Rava in 6 cases.
After all, even the exceptionless klalei hapsak don't always pan out

Joshua Meisner
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Message: 12
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2010 14:13:57 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Burning of the Talmud [was: Zos Chukas haTorah]


From: "Gershon  Dubin" _gershon.dubin@juno.com_ 
(mailto:gershon.du...@juno.com)  [on  Areivim]

>>  Today, erev Shabbos Chukas, is the yahrtzeit of  the burning of 24 
cartloads of sefarim in France.  Rabbenu Yonah said that  this was a punishment 
for the burning of sefarim of the Rambam in the same place  40 days earlier.

I had heard that  Rabbenu Yonah wrote Shaarei Teshuva in response to this 
incident and this  observation.  Is this true and if so is there a source?   

_gershon.dubin@juno.com_ (mailto:gershon.du...@juno.com) 

In his book *Herald of Destiny: The Story of the Jews in the Medieval Era,  
750-1550*,  Berel Wein writes that a ban was issued against "the  
philosophic works of Rambam" in 1232 and that Rabbi Yonah of Gerona was one of  the 
In a footnote, he writes:  
Rabbi Yonah of Gerona (1180-1263).  A great Talmudic scholar whose  
commentary to the Talmud and Rif are widely used and quoted.  He is best  known for 
his great work on piety and ethics, *Shaarei Teshuvah (Gates of  
Repentance)*.  This classic work of Torah thought was itself a byproduct of  his 
participation in the conflict against Rambam's works.  He was an orator  of note 
and, at the bidding of his mentor, Rabbi Shlomo, he traveled to many  
communities of Christian Spain, Provence and France preaching in favor of the  ban 
against the study of Rambam's works. 
He later regretted these actions and repented of his active and public  
opposition to Rambam.  *Shaarei Teshuvah* was part of his penance.  He  also 
pledged to journey to Tiberias to visit Rambam's grave and ask for his  
forgiveness.  He never fulfilled this vow, dying in Toledo while heading  the 
great yeshivah in that community.
--end quote--
R' Wein does not give a source but his work is not meant to be original or  
scholarly -- though it's a very good resource for the average reader with 
some  interest in Jewish history.  R' Wein himself probably relied on  
secondary sources in the writing of his book.  If anyone knows him, you can  ask 
him what he based this information on.  But whatever -- yesh raglayim  
ladavar, obviously.
BTW I highly recommend that you read the fascinating footnotes in the  
ArtScroll Kinos -- with the Three Weeks fast approaching -- to the Kinah  
"Sha'ali Serufah Ba'eish -- Ask, You [the Torah] who was consumed in fire...."  
(pg. 360).  This kinah was written by the Maharam of Rotenburg (the  one who 
famously spent the last 14 years of his life in prison rather than allow  his 
co-religionists to pay an exorbitant ransom).
The Maharam was a student of R' Yechiel of Paris -- the great rav and  
Talmudist who was forced to debate Nicholas Donin, the meshumad.  The  
fore-ordained result of that "trial" was that the Talmud was condemned to be  burned 
in the streets of Paris, in 1242.  In those pre-printing days, the  
confiscation and destruction of every extant ms in France was an unimaginable  
catastrophe.  The Maharam poured out his anguish over this tragedy in his  Kinah 
for Tisha B'Av.
PS.   One of the Maharam's students was the Rosh, who later fled  to Spain 
and  taught Torah there, resulting in the cross-fertilization of Torah 
between the  Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities (not the only time such 
cross-fertilization  occurred, of course).  The Rosh?s  son wrote the  Arba?ah 
Turim, whose form was used as a template by  R' Yosef Caro, two centuries 
later, for his Shulchan Aruch.   This is the ultimate game of Jewish Geography -- 
tracing the links between the  most famous Jews of all time, their 
countries, their seforim and their  connections with one another, and the way the 
chain has come down to our own  time.  Incredible Hashgacha Pratis, all of it.
--Toby Katz


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