Avodah Mailing List

Volume 28: Number 158

Fri, 12 Aug 2011

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 09:32:00 -0400
Re: [Avodah] tachlis of creation

This question is too rich for the human mind, and so we each have different
ways of casting shadows of the infinite Truth onto the surface of our
imaginations. Each of us looks at it from a slightly different angle, and
therefore gets a different shadow. Communication causes feedback, forming
groups of people who share very similar such "shadows", and we call those

The split between Chassidus and Litta could be seen as being about how they
model the takhlis, see RYGB's "Forks" essay
<http://www.aishdas.org/rygb/forks.htm>. So I can only answer this question
by prefacing it with the acknowledgment that this is only true of my own
derekh, and nowhere near a universal answer.

"It is the nature of good to have someone to whom to be good." With these
words the Ramchal explains Hashem's purpose for creating man (Derech
Hashem 1:2:1, see also Rav Saadia Ga'on, Emunos veDei'os). The human
being can be defined as a keli for shefa, a receptacle for emanations of
Divine Good and sustenance. Simply and personally put, you and I exist
so that G-d would have a recipient of His Good.

And yet, there is much unhappiness in this world. Hashem could have
insured that receiving shefa would make us happy, but He didn't. While
it is important to note the difference between bestowing good and making
happy, that isn't enough to explain why this would be true. Suffering,
even if it is in some cosmic sense "good", is a lack of goodness in how
that cosmos was created. After all, we are speaking of the Bestower who
defined the emotion of happiness, and created within us the mechanisms
that generate it. He could have chosen to make the two identical,
that true good and only true good would make us happy. Man is therefore
lacking in two ways: we are not receiving His full goodness, and amongst
that Divine Good that we lack is that very union between what we want
and what is good for us.

We are left with a dilemma. We would conclude that Hashem created
imperfect keilim, and that is why we are not receiving the full
shefa. However, we would need to explain why a Perfect Creator would
make beings that don't perfectly fulfill His purpose for them.

In the Torah, Hashem introduces the idea of creating people with the
words "let Us make man in Our Image, like our Semblance" (Bereishis
1:26). The ultimate good the Creator has to share with us is His own
"nature", the gift of being free-willed, having the capacity to make
meaningful decisions, and to create.

This is the root of the ideas in Rav Dessler's Qunterus haChesed (a
section of Michtev meiEliyahu vol. I). Man's higher calling is giving,
not taking -- which is distinguished from receiving. Love is based on
this interplay of giving and receiving.

We therefore find that even gevurah, Divine Restraint, is actually a
manifestation of chessed.... (For the rest of this thought through to
man's dialectical nature and how many of RYBS's dialectics are caused by
this one, see the <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2007/02/dialectics.shtml>.)

Aside from REED, there is also R' Shimon Shkop, whose introduction
to Shaarei Yosher I often refer to as "the words I aspire
to live by" -- my understanding of that haqdamah lies at the
core of my own personal derekh. I translated the haqdamah at
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2007/02/dialectics.shtml>. Its opening
is relevent:

    Yisbarakh Haborei Veyis'alah Hayotzeir -- Blessed shall be the
    Creator, and exalted shall be the Maker, Who created us in His
    "Image" and in the likeness of His "Structure", and planted eternal
    life within us, so that our greatest desire should be to do good to
    others, to individuals and to the masses, now and in the future, in
    imitation of the Creator (as it were). For everything He created and
    formed was according to His Will (may it be blessed), [that is]
    only to be good to the creations. So too His Will is that we walk
    in His ways. As it says "and you shall walk in His Ways" -- that we,
    the select of what He made -- should constantly hold as our purpose
    to sanctify our physical and spiritual powers for the good of the
    many, according to our abilities

Within this derekh, the ultimate tachlis is to (1) be good to others,
which as a prerequisite requires (2) refining oneself into a helping
being, and (3) internalizing Hashem's definition of Good.

Is that not a literal read of Hillel's answer to the ger? "Zil gemor."


Micha Berger             The Maharal of Prague created a golem, and
mi...@aishdas.org        this was a great wonder. But it is much more
http://www.aishdas.org   wonderful to transform a corporeal person into a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "mensch"!     -Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 10:08:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] "God who knows the future"

On Thu, Aug 04, 2011 at 06:21:29PM -0400, Micha Berger wrote:
: I emailed RDR the following summation of how he and I read the Ramban...

: I'm saying that "ulai" introduces one hypothetical outcome...
:                                              HQBH the "Yodeia' asidos",
: ... was ascribing to HQBH knowledge of the future with no exceptions.

: RDR us saying that "Yodeia' asidos" describes HQBH as knowing some of
: the future... ulai ... does mean Divine uncertainty.

I still find the notion of saying "the Knower of parts of the future"
is a weird way to read a title being used to denote G-d.

But we don't need to rely on the one quote before us. RZL sent me scans
of some pages from RCChavel's Ramban from Iyov (intro) and Qoheles.

In RCC's edition, the sentence that runs across Iyov pp 17-18 and the
one on Qoheles pg 195 line 5 both explicitly refer to Hashem's knowledge
of the future as part of His Knowledge of every perat. Neither can be
read as discussing only some things about the future, because of that
knowing every perat context. Take a look, because the paragraphs are
far too long for transliteration.

As some background, here is how I see some problems understanding the
rishonim on HQBH and time:

1- In Aristo's physics, time is a property of a process. If nothing is
moving there is no time. In our worldview, time is a context, a dimension,
in which processes occur. (Probably beginning with Galileo's observation
about the time it takes for a pendulum to swing, when he noticed that
different processes all operate at predictable rates. Until that theory,
no one applied math to science, and these things weren't quantied or even
quantifiable. I have no idea what they mean by lemaalah min hazeman, but
I believe can't be close to what we mean. I think that's why it's not
until the Or Samayach that we get to resolving hakol tzafui vehareshus
nesunah in terms of Hashem having no concept of "knowing *now*".

2- Everyone (except the Ralbag and some outliers most of us never heard
of) holds that G-d knows everything in every detail. The question is
whether a question about the future is "something". Does it even have a
true-or-false status that we can talk about knowing which it is? Again,
given my question about what rishonim meant by lemaalah min hazeman,
it might be consistent with some rishonim to say that Hashem knowing
everything can't include those non-factual questions where there is
nothing to be known, yet.


Micha Berger             Every second is a totally new world,
mi...@aishdas.org        and no moment is like any other.
http://www.aishdas.org           - Rabbi Chaim Vital
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 10:48:25 -0400
Re: [Avodah] God who knows the future

On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 05:26:08PM +0000, kennethgmil...@juno.com wrote:
: The reason some people are bothered by Hashem's foreknowledge (or,
: alternatively, those who would be bothered by the presence of tomorrow's
: newspaper, even if it stays unread) if that they think the foreknowledge
: determines the choice...

IOW, we have a natural assumption that causes precede effects in time
to the point that even when we know that the usual rules of time have
been violated, we still imagine that causation runs in that direction.
That assumption is being violated, creating the illusion of a problem.

In the case of getting tomorrow's newspaper, or being told by HQBH
the future, or even if He simply treated us in a manner that reflects
our future decisions, there is a problem -- the grandfather paradox.
This is a famous problem among philosophers and science fiction fans,
a basic problem with time travel. What if someone went back in time and
killed his own grandfather before his grandparents event met. In which
case, the father is never born, the killer is never born, there is no
one to kill the grandfather, and so the father and son DO exist...

Similarly where the cycle is consistent. Someone goes on a trip to the
past, and loses his ball point pen. Mr Bic finds that pen, takes it
apart, and patents this idea. Who invented the ball point pen?

It would seem that either time travel is impossible, or it causes a
constriction of free will -- killing one's grandfather would simply
never succeed. (Science fiction writers tend to take a version of
the former -- time travel puts you back in time, but thereby causing
a new parallel universe. You don't act within your own past.)

This is why I would remove the concept of Hashem knowing now what will
happen in the future. It avoids understandings in which HQBH is the arrow
closing a cycle in causality. The cycle would only be closed if HQBH
would act today based on that knowledge of the future, thus causing an
effect that precedes its cause within time.

This begins to answer the question RDR asks about my position in his

On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 05:41:37PM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
> The problem for RMB is why a prayer before pregnancy is different from a  
> prayer after pregnancy.

The prayer doesn't change G-d or His knowledge, it is attempting to
determine the baby's gender. Which is where Hashem inserts an effect
within the timeline.

A prayer before pregnancy creates a world in which a child of the desired
gender is more likely to fit Hashem's plan. Cause precedes effect.
A prayer after 40 days of pregnancy places the effect that Hashem
inserts into the timeline before the cause, and thus would be demanding
a causal loop. If Hashem were to do that, free will would be curtailed
(as I tried to show with the Grandfather Paradox).


Micha Berger             A sick person never rejects a healing procedure
mi...@aishdas.org        as "unbefitting." Why, then, do we care what
http://www.aishdas.org   other people think when dealing with spiritual
Fax: (270) 514-1507      matters?              - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 4
From: Hankman <sal...@videotron.ca>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 10:34:19 -0400
Re: [Avodah] God who knows the future

RAM wrote:

I have total free will to go right or to go left, and when I make that
choice, that's when Hashem's foreknowledge will be determined. Until then,
the contents of the newspaper will be indeterminate.

CM asks:

So in what sense is this FOREknowledge?

Kol Tuv

Chaim Manaster
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Message: 5
From: Doron Beckerman <beck...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 16:34:24 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Moshe's reasoning

The problem with the two tribes staying back was not that they were not
going to participate in the battle. Shevet Levi didn't participate either.
The problem with that was, as Moshe says explicitly, that they were like the
Meraglim who discouraged entering into the land at all. Providing the comfy
option of staying *out* of EY where others might easily prefer that over
toughing out the war of conquest was the problem. So it isn't the people
*in* EY who don't fight who parallel Reuven and Gad. They parallel Shevet
Levi. It is the people who live comfy lives in Chutz LaAretz who discourage
toughing it out in EY who have the 'splainin to do.
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Message: 6
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 12:08:42 EDT
Re: [Avodah] tachlis of creation//why davka? amalek??

From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>
>>  yes,  but why should Hashem care what we think about him??
and how do we know what  the tachlis of this creation is???
i thought it was to test us  <<

The tachlis of creation is to shower goodness and blessings on His  
creatures.  One of Hashem's midos, in addition to His being All-Knowing and  
All-Powerful, is His being Good -- hatov vehameitiv.  Without creatures  upon whom 
to shower His blessings, He would have no way to manifest His  goodness.
He could simply give us food every day the way He provides for birds,  
animals and insects, but He chose to do us human beings, and especially us Jews, 
 a far greater and higher Good, by giving us the possibility of "earning"  
His blessings and benevolence in the context of a mutual relationship with  
Think how much more a child appreciates a prize that was awarded to him in  
recognition of some achievement of his, as opposed to toys that are given 
to  spoiled children by indulgent parents who buy their kids whatever they 
want just  to quiet their whining.  Least appreciated of all are presents 
given to  children randomly by absent parents whom they don't even know, after 
the  parent has abandoned his children and gone away somewhere to build a 
life for  himself without his kids.

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 7
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 11:56:08 EDT
Re: [Avodah] moshe's reasoning

From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>

>>  moshe's reasoning and anger at the 2 tribes who did not want to go into 
the  land, was that it was not fair that some people risk their lives, 
homes and  properties, while others stay behind in lush lands and graze their 
cattle. why  does this reasoning not apply to today's army exemptions? which, 
the groisa  rabbonim, are fully aware of????? many of them are baki b'shas, 
and if not baki  b'shas, they are fuly aware of this pasuk(im) and their 
import and meanings.  <<

The two tribes were not proposing to live an austere life of Torah learning 
 with minimal material comforts.  They were proposing (Moshe thought) to  
live in the lap of luxury in chutz la'aretz, on lush and beautiful farms, 
with  all the wealth and comfort humans can imagine, while their brethren had 
yet to  conquer their allotted property and did not yet have parnassah or a 
place to  live.  
Instead of asking why Torah scholars should be exempt from the army, you  
should ask why is it permissible for us to live lives of material plenty and  
abundance in America while our brethren face war and economic hardships in  
Eretz Yisrael?  Did the writer of this post himself serve in the Israeli  
army?  (That's an actual question, not a rhetorical question -- perhaps he  
did, I don't know.)
I would answer -- though it is only  a very partial answer -- that  Jews 
who do enjoy material wealth in chutz la'aretz have an obligation, at the  
very least, to provide material help and support to their fellow Jews in Eretz  
Yisrael, especially to those who live in poverty in order to learn Torah 
day and  night.  At least those who live in chutz la'aretz would thus be 
enabled to  some degree to share in the zechus of those whose Torah learning they 
 support.  I would also say they should support other organizations in 
Eretz  Yisrael as well, in addition to yeshivos and kollelim -- organizations 
like Yad  Sarah, Tomchei Shabbos, Zaka, children's homes, organizations that 
help  soldiers, and many many other worthy causes.

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 8
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@Kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 18:05:24 +0100
Re: [Avodah] shelo asani isha

RMB writes:

> But we started out with an aggadic question -- what does the berakhah
mean? Well, we know its *primary*
> meaning. It could take on other meanings; and in fact I would argue
> that no good idea ends up becoming din if it weren't rich enough to do so.

But the aggadic question is all very well, but if the answer given to the
aggadic question is not how we posken in halacha then that cannot be the
meaning that is ascribed today, otherwise the entire bracha needs to be
dropped as not in accordance with the halacha, but rather in accordance with
a minority opinion that never made it to halacha.  

> : That is, if you adopt the position above, and the current order of
> : the brochos, then you are assuming that an eved has fewer mitzvos
> than
> : (or at least the same number as) a woman.
> No, I am assuming R' Yehudah, who wrote the currently used triad of
> berakhos, set it up because /he/ holds that way.
Which is fine.  But then you have to justify why we say it today if we do
not hold like this position.  (I am not saying that is the case here, you
can, presumably, hold l'halacha that avadim are not chayav in any more
mitzvos than women, but if you do not hold vadai that is the case, then you
have a problem saying that this is in any form the reason of the bracha
today, regardless of what the intention was of Rabbi Yehuda. You have to
say, at best, that the reason it was originally formulated was X, but the
reason we say it today is not in fact X, but Y).

> Which, I realize, requires a discussion in light of my position on
> legal evolution being more important than original intent. I am not
> /that/ patient right now for a question no one actually may be bothered
> by. But beqitzur, see above: Halakhah is a legal process, but aggadita?
> Taamei hamitzvos?

But this isn't just about taamei hamitzvos and aggada.  As you correctly
quoted, the Magen Avraham used this reason for the bracha to posken halacha
- ie if you say shelo asani isha before you say shelo asani eved, then you
cannot go back and say shelo asani eved.  Why? Because it then becomes a
bracha sheano tzricha (you have covered the field).  But the flipside has
also to be true.  According to the Magen Avraham, if in fact avadim are
chayav in mitzvos more than women, then if you say shelo asani eved you
*cannot* then say shelo asani isha.  And if you do, you are over on a brocha
sheano tzricha (a d'orisa according to the Sephardim and a d'rabbanan
according to the Ashkenazim).

So it would seem that if you posken like Tosphos, the Maged Mishna or the
Turei Even, or are even mesupik that they are correct, then this reason
cannot be the reason for the bracha today, otherwise you may be prohibited
(either d'orisa or d'rabbanan) from saying it.  In the face of this, why it
was coined, historically, would seem to be a matter of historic interest

> :-)BBii!
> -Micha

Shabbat Shalom


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Message: 9
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 12:22:54 -0500
Re: [Avodah] God who knows the future

On 8/12/2011 9:34 AM, Hankman wrote:
> RAM wrote:
> I have total free will to go right or to go left, and when I make that
> choice, that's when Hashem's foreknowledge will be determined. Until
> then, the contents of the newspaper will be indeterminate.
> CM asks:
> So in what sense is this FOREknowledge?

Well, it's a matter of point of view.  If I choose to go left, then 
Hashem always knew I was going to go left.  If I choose to go right, 
then Hashem always knew I was going to go right.

There's no such thing as foreknowledge or hindknowledge from Hashem's 
point of view, because He isn't contained by time.  There's just 
knowledge.  It's a semantic fallacy to talk about "when" He knows something.


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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 15:24:45 -0400
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] shelo asani isha

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 08:01:47PM +0000, shalomy...@comcast.net wrote to
: The Yerushalmi/Rashi explanation that we say shelo asani isha because of
: our greater chiyuv in mitzvos is fine, but that highlights the fact that
: men have a greater chiyuv in mitzvos ... which is a preferable state (why
: else are we thanking HaShem for that; why else do we say Baruch... asher
: kidishanu b'mitzvosav vitzivanu).

Life is too complex to be reduced to one axis and one ranking system.
Most aspects of the human condition have multiple ways of being measured.
E.g. A mal'akh is more qadosh than a person, as it is entirely set
aside to do Retzon haBorei (the definition of qedushah), but a person
is betzelem E-lokim and a mal'akh is not.

Having more mitzvos means having more opportunities to refine oneself,
get sekhar, etc... But also more opportunities to mess up. It means that
men are playing a higher stakes game.

However, our mean is less holy than that of women. (Compare who brought
gold to the eigel, vs who donated gold to the mishkan. Or the Maharal
on Shemos 19:3.) Men have more opportunity to rise (or fall), but still,
we start at a lower point.

So, men thank G-d for the extra mitzvos, and women thank G-d for
being made closer to His ultimate Will.

Each has its positives, and both could see their glasses as half full.


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
mi...@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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Message: 11
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 21:01:29 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Characterizing our era

R' Micha Berger wrote:

> In the past I suggested two different lines -- the SA for Seph,
> and the Mappah for Ashk. The SA (speaking inclusively) recentered
> halachic discussion around a new book, ...
> This potential post-acharonic period lacks a similar book. While
> the MB is rising to that role, it's only one of 4 Turim.

Perhaps the MB is not merely *rising* to that role. Perhaps it is filling that role *precisely*.

Consider the comparison **you've** made between the Tur and the MB: The Tur
(and it's relatives, such as the SA) were the standard-bearers for
centuries. The a major upheaval occurred, in which a new standard-bearer
appeared (the MB), which focused only on a particular section of the prior
one, concentrating on those halachos considered most relevant for the

Is this not exactly what the Tur did to the Rambam?

And the Rambam to the Gemara?

Akiva Miller

Penny Stock Jumping 3000%
Sign up to the #1 voted penny stock newsletter for free today!

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Message: 12
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 11:28:03 -0700
[Avodah] r reisman's question

The question of the week is: the Laining that we have on Tisha B?av 
actually comes from this weeks Parsha and starts 4:25 ??  ????-??????? 
??????? ??????? ??????, ?????????????? ????????; ?????????????, 
??????????? ?????? ????????? ????, ??????????? ????? ????????? 
?????-????????, ??????????? If you look at the Laining you notice that 
there are actually very few Pesukim of Toichacha in this Laining. There 
are quite a few Pesukim of Nechama in the Laining. Normally we know the 
rule that you leave out Pesukim of Nechama on Tisha B?av, so it is strange 
that at Shacharis we would Lain Pesukim of Nechama together with Pesukim 
of the Toichacha? 
What is even stranger is the language of the Mishna Berura where he 
discusses the Ba?al Koreh preparing the Laining and he takes it as Pashut 
that the Ba?al Koreh can prepare the Laining on the morning of Tisha B?av 
because it is all Inyanei Tisha B?av. Ai it is Inyanei of Nechemta as 
well, so it seems to be a little inconsistent with the ordinary order of 
the day, however, maybe Kriyas Hatoirah might be different but the 
question remains a question.          

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Message: 13
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 17:33:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] why not two sided??

On 11/08/2011 11:34 PM, Harvey Benton wrote:
> if the definition of a brit is simply unilateral, then why not
> just call it a law, or din, or halacha?

Already answered.  A treaty *is* two (or more) sided, but the voluntary
participation of all sides has *never* been seen by anybody as a requirement.
Therefore I don't understand the premise of the entire question.  When has
anyone questioned the validity of a treaty, merely because one side was
brought to the table by force?

Zev Sero        If they use these guns against us once, at that moment
z...@sero.name   the Oslo Accord will be annulled and the IDF will
                 return to all the places that have been given to them.
                                            - Yitzchak Rabin


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Message: 14
From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 14:46:15 -0700 (PDT)
[Avodah] isnt koach of being maykil greater??

re: buses....
i thought going lifnim.....is ok on yourself maybe, but not on your family,
or others (not even in your group/mindset), or esp 

other groups in society.....
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Message: 15
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 18:01:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] isnt koach of being maykil greater??

On 12/08/2011 5:46 PM, Harvey Benton wrote:
> re: buses....
> i thought going lifnim.....is ok on yourself maybe, but not on your family,
> or others (not even in your group/mindset), or esp
> other groups in society.....

Again, nobody is imposing a higher level of kedusha on others.  Instead,
it is the fanatical integrationists who are imposing their lower level
of kedusha on those who would aspire to a higher level.  It's exactly
like forcing non-glatt meat or pas palter down the throat of someone who
is trying to keep a higher level of observance.  You can eat your pas
palter, I'll eat pas yisroel, and let the free market and the relative
numbers decide who has more options available to them.  If the demand for
pas yisroel is high enough in one neighbourhood, then the shops will not
find it worth their while to stock pas palter; and vice versa in other
neighbourhoods.  And if I put a sign up in my shop that "no chometz is
allowed in here at any time", do not bring chometz in, just because it's
Iyyar and next Pesach is nearly a year away.

Oh, and the answer to the question in the Subject header is that you have
completely misunderstood that line.  It takes more certainty to be meikil,
precisely because one may always be machmir, whether it's necessary or not,
so when in doubt that's what one should do.  If you see someone who knows
his stuff eating a particular thing, then you know he holds it's kosher;
but if you don't see him eating it, then you don't know that he holds it's
treif.  That's *all* "koach dehetera adif" means.  It certainly does not
mean that there's a preference for kulah.

Zev Sero        If they use these guns against us once, at that moment
z...@sero.name   the Oslo Accord will be annulled and the IDF will
                 return to all the places that have been given to them.
                                            - Yitzchak Rabin



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