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Volume 29: Number 2

Wed, 04 Jan 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2012 22:10:44 -0500
Re: [Avodah] my mistake: re: yosef's dreams

On Sun, Jan 01, 2012 at 03:03:26PM -0800, Harvey Benton wrote:
: if the interpretations) are to Hashem, then why does he 
: give his own interpretations?? ...

Yosef himself says to Par'oh that he can't interpret dreams,
G-d does. So I have no idea what you're asking.

Tir'u baTov!

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: 2
From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2012 15:03:26 -0800 (PST)
Re: [Avodah] my mistake: re: yosef's dreams

if the interpretations) are to Hashem, then why does he 

give his own interpretations?? did he Have Ruach Hakodesh
and/or why did he not say" Hashem explained this? to me
and/or something similar??"
we know that Moshe Rabeinu (medrash??) could read faces
and therefore could tell?? a person's personality traits?? 

( i don't know the details of the medrash); because some-
one can interpret dreams (soothsayers, etc) does that mean
that it came/comes from Hashem??
the fact that a weatherman can tell tomorrow's weather
from the sattellite imagery; doesn't mean that he is a 

{valid} soothsayer, or predictor ......


 From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
To: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com> 
Sent: Sunday, January 1, 2012 2:53 PM
Subject: Re: my mistake: re: yosef's dreams
On Sun, Jan 01, 2012 at 02:24:58PM -0800, Harvey Benton wrote:
: my mistake, the quotation was to the butler and baker:

And he makes the same claim to Par'oh. So I have no idea what you're
getting at.

Tir'u baTov!

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: 3
From: "Chana Luntz" <ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2012 00:16:37 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Forms of Bitul

R' Micha Berger writes:

>Deep down, under all the differences in shiur bitul deOraisa vs
>deRabbanan, between real taaroves and the "taaroves" of doubt, of "'isah'
>lashon safeiq hu", I believe there is one mechanism being invoked. As
>per the single pasuq from which they all derive, the use of common
>language by chazal, etc...

But you see, it is not as simple as this.  For a start, the different forms
of bitul we have been discussing do *not* appear to derive from a single

While the three pieces or Yoreh Deah siman 109 case of bitul is derived from
acharei rabim l'hatos, the milk falling into meat stew min b'aino mino Yoreh
Deah siman 98 type case of bitul appears to be derived from Bamidbar 6:19
(which allows/requires cooking of the kohen's portion of the leg in with the
rest of the nazir's shlamim, meaning that it will give taste to the shlamim)
(see Chullin 98a).  And even though Tosphos appears to understand this as
not being a drasha gamura, they, and the rest of the majority who hold that
bittul b'shishim for min v'aino mino is min haTorah clearly do not base this
assessment on acharei rabim l'hatos (And of course Rashi, who holds that
bittul b'shishim for min v'aino mino is d'rabbanan, and that min b'aino mino
min hatorah is batel b'rov, based on the pasuk of acharei rabim l'hatos,
holds that like Rabbi Yehuda the case of min b'mino, ie that it is aino

So, as I have been trying to argue from the beginning, I just don't see how
you can bring any proofs or include in the discussion the Yoreh Deah siman
98 type case of taste bitul.  At most your discussion would surely have to
be limited to comparing the Yoreh Deah siman 109 type case of bitul, and
rov.  And even there, I am not sure you get the same results for a rov
de'iqah leqaman and deleisa leqaman.

And your linking up to regular forms of safek seems very difficult too.
Those who understand the principle of safek d'orisa l'chumra to be d'orisa
(the Rashba, the Ran and Tosphos), do not, as far as I am aware, link it to
any of the psukim referred to above.  And clearly the majority (according,
inter alia, to Rav Ovadiah Yosef) who hold that the principle of safek
d'orisa l'chumra is d'rabbanan basically are holding that once there is a
safek, according to the Torah the matter is completely mutar (but of course
of those who hold this as a general principle, there are a number of
exceptions eg the Rambam, who holds that safek d'orisa l'chumra is rabbinic,
hold in the case of one piece out of two being treif, that one brings an
asham talui (see perek 8 hilchos shoggegos halacha 3) but in the case of a
piece which is safek chelev, safek shuman, one does not bring an asham
talui.  There are other examples though, eg in connection with an issur
kares and possibly others).

Do note that the one piece out of two leading to the requirement to bring an
asham talui is not very far from the one piece out of three where one has
rov - and yet this is an *exception* to the Rambam's principle and not
consistent with it.

>So, I expect parallel shitos between rov and taaroves. So, someone who
>holds that you can eat each piece one after the other is really saying
>that batul is batul, and we don't redo the math after the situation ends

But only in the very limited case connecting the three pieces and acherai
rabim l'hatos, where we already know there is a connection from the gemora,
because we are told that the pasuk applies to both.

>Of course, as you noted, the rishonim in question wouldn't have discussed
>a reversal of a taaroves. But at the time I dreamed up the centerfuge,
>it was in response to your assumption that bitul is somehow more real,
>more manifest, than ignoring mi'ut. And an example you brought was the
>possibility that one may not eat all three pieces in a row.

I think you misunderstood me if you thought I brought this is an example.
What I was trying to do was to explain the completely different nature of
the two types of ta'arovos and bitul, the siman 98 kind and the siman 109
kind.  With the siman 109 kind being the case that was similar to the ones
you were discussing, and the siman 98 kind being totally different.  I don't
have any problem saying that the siman 109 kind is very similar, the gemora
and halacha uses, as you say, the same pasuk.  What I was objecting to was
the jump to assume the same thing about the siman 98 kind, as that to me is
totally different (and, to get back to the original conversation, the kind
of bitul that an approving authority might use, not the siman 109 kind).  As
I have indicated above, they appear to be based on totally different psukim,
and to my mind, are totally different concepts.

>My first response was the centerfuge... who said that those who don't
>recombine minorities to produce a majority wouldn't recombine the
>mi'ut, 1:60, 1:100 or 1:200 (even if the supermajority is only required
>derabbanan) of a taaroves if it were all brought to the end you're
>eating? This was an assumption that I simply didn't share.

And my objection was to the mixing up of the kinds of bitul, the siman 98
kind and the siman 109 kind, this centerfuge was clearly aimed at the siman
98 kind, and I thought all the discussions which arose out of the siman 109
kind didn't apply.

>My second response was to draw a parallel to eating all three pieces
>from the difference between touching and carrying taaroves with tum'ah
>in it. A person is metamei through carrying, which would parallel the
>case of eating all three pieces of fat at once -- unlike WRT touching,
>you carry the entire taaroves at once. You know the original cheilev is
>in the mix, why would the bitul matter?

This is exactly the problem of the Rosh.  He solves it by distinguishing
between tumah and eating.  But again, we are only talking about cases which
are clearly linked by the gemora to acharei rabim l'hatos.

>I hear chazal talking about safeiq as though it were a mixture. Why not
>take that at face value, rather than imposing statistics on a model that
>predates the field by just under 3 millenia (Sinai to Pascal or Fermat)?

So how about the really classic safek - the timtum, or the koi?  As I
understand the debate, some hold that the tumtum is a beriah in and of
itself, and some hold it is a safek, but those who hold such a person is a
safek hold that "really" such a person is a man or a woman, we just don't
know which, it is not as though essentially and to the Torah such a half man
half woman exists.  Ditto a koi - we practice the halacha giving it the
chumras of behama and chaya, but the options appear to be that it is an
independent creation of its own, or it is *really* in the eyes of the Torah
one or the other, but we don't know which.  Look at the way the psukim are
interpreted whenever these come up.

Secondly, if you hold that safek d'orisa l'chumra is a rabbinic precept,
then clearly this doesn't work.

>Thus, when we have doubt, we entertain both possibilities, and therefore
>a safeiq in metzi'us is not just idiomatically being called a kind of
>taaroves or isah. It actually is a mixed identity.

>RYBS uses the notion of mixed identity, or as he put it, that halakhah
>doesn't use a bivalent (black-and-white, true-vs-falase) logic in Ish
>haHalakhah, as well as in a yarchei kallah shiur I attended one Elul in
>the early 80s. Bein hashemashos is a safeiq yom safeiq lailah, but it's
>also when the two days overlap (eg it extends the esrog's status as a
>devar mitzvah to the subsequent day).

But the esrog's status is rabbinic - and therefore the fact that the rabbis
extended it because *we* are not sure, doesn't mean that there is anything
intrinsically a mixed identity about bein hashmashos, just that we don't
know what it is.

To postulate a genuine mixed identity eg in the case of bein hashmashos, it
seems to me you have to be saying that safek d'orisa l'chumra is d'orisa, ie
the concept of safek really exists within the ultimate truth of the Torah.
And while there are achronim who appear to take this position (ROY
attributes this position to  the Shach, on the basis of which he understands
the Shach's ruling that one cannot make a safek sfeka l'kula unless we have
a masorah to that effect, which is what enables him to disagree with the
Shach) ROY disagrees and argue that the majority disagree, so it seems to me
that if you posit this position, you are writing out of your hashkafa
(assuming ROY is right) the *majority* of rishonim and the Shulchan Aruch.
And the basis on which most of ROY's psak is based.

Thus no matter how intellectually attractive your mixed identity thesis
might be it doesn't seem to me to do the job if it only explains half of the
known world, and possibly the less dominant half at that (although that does
not mean that there could not be other ways of maintaining a Litvishe,
rather than a chassidishe approach to aspects such as timtum halev - nor do
I see a chassidishe approach as necessarily precluding the position of the
Rosh.  If the entire world is being recreated every day, then is it not
possible that a piece of meat that may have its source from a piece of
nevila could, through it perceived mixing with two other kosher pieces and
the application of the divine law of bitul b'rov not be recreated as a piece
of kosher meat, indeed turned into kosher as the Rosh understands it with
all the necessary kosher sparks within it).

Tir'u baTov!



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Message: 4
From: t6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2012 20:39:15 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Vayigash

From: Liron Kopinsky <liron.kopin...@gmail.com>

There is a midrash which says that each of the shevatim was born with a
twin daughter. So now you just need to figure out why those daughters were
not counted among the 70.

Kol Tuv,

"Benosav" could refer to daughters-in-law and grand-daughers, too.  Serach bas Osher, for example.

As for twins, I read somewhere that all those twin sisters died before the
family went down to Egypt.  There is some kind of physics like that too,
maybe somebody here knows what I'm dimly remembering -- something about
virtual particles and anti-particles that spontaneously arise in the cosmos
and then meet and destroy each other, thus preserving the something or
other of the universe.	Some law of Newton, maybe, that something can't
arise just out of nothing, but if it immediately destructs, it's OK then. 
Give Yakov some extra daughters for "benosav" then quickly take them away
for "shiv'im nefesh" and all's right with the world.  Yosef, well, if he's
dead, his father will grieve all his life, but a bunch of girls -- who'd
miss them?  Ho hum.  They're just virtual girls, anyway.

There are, of course, non-literal ways of understanding those medrashim --
e.g., that with each shevet, his zivug was created somewhere, the woman he
was destined to meet and marry.  It's also possible that women just didn't
count among the 70 unless they were important women, a principle we
actually see throughout the Torah, especially at the beginning when
generations are named, and very few women are mentioned by name -- those
who are mentioned by name being the especially important women, like
Noach's wife and the Imahos.  And Dinah, and Tamar, and Yocheved and
Miriam, and the wives of Yosef,  Moshe and Aharon, and the daughters of

But for ordinary women, they usually aren't named and "don't count."  So
maybe Yakov did have lots of daughters -- real ones, not virtual
mathematical ones -- but anyone who wasn't named in the Torah, just wasn't
counted among the 70.	Consider, for example, the likelihood that many of
Yakov's grandchildren were already married and great-grandchildren had been
born -- yet none of those wives or great-grandchildren were named or
counted among the 70, either.

As evidence that many grandchildren must already have been married, I point
you to Yehuda's first two sons, both of whom had already married before
Yakov went down to Egypt.  And all the shevatim had sons -- very likely,
some of them were married already too.	And if not, if they all married
only after arriving in Egypt -- who did they all marry?   Did they all
marry Egyptian women?  Or did they marry girls from their own family? 
Girls born -- how?  To what mothers?  Egyptian mothers?

I think a lot of them must have already been married to Canaanite women and
to Aramean women, cousins, and maybe to Ishmaelite women, also cousins (but
partly Egyptian, come to think of it) even before they went down to Egypt. 
And/or there really were sisters born and they married each other's
sisters, from different mothers.  But the point is, none of those wives
were named or counted among the 70, even though they must have existed.

--Toby Katz


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Message: 5
From: Simon Montagu <simon.mont...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2012 08:14:17 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Vayigash

On Mon, Jan 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM,  <t6...@aol.com> wrote:
> <snip> ... a principle we actually
> see throughout the Torah, especially at the beginning when generations are
> named, and very few women are mentioned by name -- those who are mentioned
> by name being the especially important women, like Noach's wife and the
> Imahos.

What was Noach's wife's name?

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Message: 6
From: "M Cohen" <mco...@touchlogic.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2012 10:48:55 -0500
[Avodah] Vayigash

...There is a midrash which says that each of the shevatim was born with a
twin daughter. So now you just need to figure out why those daughters were
not counted among the 70.

See below.

From Rabbi Reisman ? Parshas Vayigash (Zos Chanukah) 5771

..46:26 (????-????????? ???????? ????????? ???????????, ??????? ???????,
????????, ?????? ?????-???????--????-??????, ????????? ???????) 
There is a Kasha that I had for many years regarding all the Seforim of
Tanach, wherever people are counted, women are not typically counted. We
understand that in the Midbar they counted the Yotzei Tzavah so the women
were not counted. Still here in Parshas Vayigash we have a particular
difficulty. This is because Yocheved is counted as she is the 70th person
who was born Bain Hachomos. Even if we ignore that she was counted, what
about Serach Bas Asher and Dina who were counted? What about the rest of the
women, could it be that Yaakov Avinu at the age of 130 had only 3 female
descendents and 66 male descendents? This is very difficult to understand. 

Rashi learns (?? ???? ???? ?????: ????? ???? ???? ???? ??????. ???? ???? ??
???? ???, ??? ???? ????, ??? (???? ? ??) ???? ??? ???, ???? (???? ?? ?) ???
??? ??? ??? ?? ????, ????? ???? ???? ???"?, ??? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ??
??? ??? ???? ???. ????? (???? ???? ??) ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ?????,
??? ???? ???, ????? ???? ????? ???"?, ??? ?????? ?? ??? ????? ????? ?? ????
???? ???? ??????? ??? ????? ??? ??????. ?????? ????? ?????? ????? ?? ??????
?????? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ??????, ???? ?? ???? ???. ????? ?????? ???
(? ?) ??? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ???? (???? ?? ?) ????? ????, ????
????, ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ????, ???? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ???,
??? ???? ?????? ??? ???) that according to the one who learns that each
Sheivet was born with a twin girl you have to say they all died. 

Many are Matmia on this saying that how can it be that Yaakov suffered such
a tragedy and it is not mentioned anywhere. Rav Moshe in the Darash Moshe
has a fresh approach to the whole topic of women being counted in Tanach.
Rav Moshe writes that a man and his wife are counted as 1 because they are
one Neshamah. Therefore, men and women are not counted as two people. 

Ai, some women are counted? There are exceptions. There are situations where
a woman has become greater than just the role of being a support for her
husband. Not to belittle the role of a women being a support for their
husband. A wife and husband working out one Tafkid, nevertheless there are
women who reach beyond that and who fulfill more than just the Tafkid of
just helping out their husbands. Those women are counted separately. Serach
Bas Asher and Dinah are counted separately. The other daughters of Yaakov
who presumably married the Shevatim who were only half brothers and were
Muttar at that time, they are not counted because Ish V?ishto are Chad Kufa
and therefore, they are counted as one. 

That explains Derech Klal why in Tanach that is the way that it works. It is
a beautiful thought and what is even more beautiful is that the Otzar
Rishonim Chumash, the Chumash of Rav Yehuda Hachasid says on the Posuk that
says (????????, ?????? ?????-???????) the wives of the Bnei Yaakov were not
counted because husband and wife count as one.

It is a beautiful thought into the idea that husband and wife are counted as
one and Mimeila they were counted this way. The exception being those
extraordinary people.  

The only difficulty with this is with Yocheved if she was just born how did
she already fulfill her great Tafkid and why was she counted if she couldn?t
have reached her Tafkid? 

The answer is that Yocheved was single and was not married. The others were
all married, however, Chazal Darshuns that Ish U?baiso Ba?u that every
person who came was married and therefore, Yaakov wanted that even the young
ones should come to Mitzrayim with the anchor of marriage. Therefore,
Yocheved was the only woman who was not married and Mimeila of course she is
counted. This is a fresh idea, a new approach, and is very Geshmak...

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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2012 08:28:24 -0500
[Avodah] Parshas Vayechi: Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsch -

 From http://revach.net/article.php?id=5178

Unlike every other Parsha, there is no break between the end of 
Parshas Vayigash and the beginning of Parshas Vayechi. The Medrash 
brings several reasons for this. Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsh offers 
his own explanation for this as well.

Parshas Vayechi starts with Yaakov settling in Mitzrayim. These were 
the best and only peaceful years in Yaakov's strife filled life. He 
watched his family grow and learned Torah with his children and 
grandchildren. Surely this deserves a Parsha by itself. However say 
Rav Hirsch the opposite is true.

All of Yaakov's troubles laid the foundation for the building of Bnei 
Yisroel. Every tragedy he suffered was another building block in the 
future of Klal Yisroel. His time in Mitzrayim may have been 
enjoyable, but did not add to the future legacy of the nation. These 
years were a reward for his lifetime of avodah in the face the turmoil.

This is why says Rav Hirsch, Parshas Vayechi is not a separate 
parsha. It is merely the epilogue of Yaakov's life and is attached to 
the parsha before and the conclusion of his life. We are not here on 
this world to coast, says Rav Hirsch. It is only through our 
suffering that we can accomplish anything.

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Message: 8
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2012 15:40:29 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Vayigash

On 1/2/2012 12:14 AM, Simon Montagu wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM,<t6...@aol.com>  wrote:
>> <snip>  ... a principle we actually
>> see throughout the Torah, especially at the beginning when generations are
>> named, and very few women are mentioned by name -- those who are mentioned
>> by name being the especially important women, like Noach's wife and the
>> Imahos.
> What was Noach's wife's name?
There's a midrash that says it was Naamah, sister of Tuval Kayin.


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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2012 19:12:38 -0500
Re: [Avodah] spitting / sinat chinam

On Sun, Jan 01, 2012 at 08:04:47PM +0200, Ben Waxman wrote:
>> You are allowed to hate someone guilty of hating the Borei, for example.
>> (I write "guilty of" rather than "who hates", to avoid tinoq shenishba
>> tangents.)

> BW: The second one I find problematic because you can always say that  
> the other guy hates God, that the way he does mitzvot proves that he is  
> a rasha l'hachiss.

It doesn't prove lehach'is. See my parenthetic about tinoq shenishba
and guilt.

Following the other side of a machloqes can't make one a rasha, no
matter how greviously wrong you think their side is. For that matter,
even if their side isn't even legitimate, unless it's something
they are capable of second-guessing their authority figures on, they
aren't resha'im.

Someone who follows DL poseqim can't be more of a rasha in the eyes
of anyone (even the Satmar Rav zt"l) than Rambam's opinion of Qaraim.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             In the days of our sages, man didn't sin unless
mi...@aishdas.org        he was overcome with a spirit of foolishness.
http://www.aishdas.org   Today, we don't do a mitzvah unless we receive
Fax: (270) 514-1507      a spirit of purity.      - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 10
From: Simon Montagu <simon.mont...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2012 11:05:29 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Vayigash

On Mon, Jan 2, 2012 at 11:40 PM, Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net> wrote:
> On 1/2/2012 12:14 AM, Simon Montagu wrote:
>> On Mon, Jan 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM,<t6...@aol.com> ?wrote:
>>> <snip> ?... a principle we actually
>>> see throughout the Torah, especially at the beginning when generations
>>> are
>>> named, and very few women are mentioned by name -- those who are
>>> mentioned
>>> by name being the especially important women, like Noach's wife and the
>>> Imahos.
>> What was Noach's wife's name?
> There's a midrash that says it was Naamah, sister of Tuval Kayin.

Indeed there is, but midrashim are not relevant when we are discussing
which women the Torah names explicitly! Worse, I suspect that that
midrash was at least partly intended to answer the question why Na`ama
is named when we know nothing else about her -- in other words,
without the midrash, she is an exception to the rule that only
especially important women are named, so this becomes a circular

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 05:54:54 -0500
Re: [Avodah] binyamin as werewolf?

On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 07:37:15PM -0800, Saul.Z.New...@kp.org wrote:
: http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2011/12/was-rachel-im
: einu-killed-by-werewolf.html 
: opinion of a rishon

This is just silly.

And to posit that anyone not from a modern urban setting would think for
a moment that a newborn puppy wolf had the ability to bite or draw blood,
never mind kill a person.... and even us city dwellers can see the
absurdity immediately, once pointed out.

RNS himself notes the rishon could be talking poetically, but rejects
it. Mind you, this runs counter to his general approach to aggadita,
which does accept that the language of aggadita is often metaphor.

I would suggest that had RNS not have an agenda of showing how much
more we know of the world than they, and thus how much room we have to
question earlier sources on these matters, he never would have blogged
such a thing.

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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Message: 12
From: "Chana Luntz" <ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 10:50:29 -0000
[Avodah] Balancing needs

On Areivim I wrote:
> One might argue about the Meah She'arim yellow star protesters --
> they were clearly craving publicity, and not publicising their action
> might have prevented what is clearly significant hurt to the remaining
> Holocaust Survivors and their descendents (not to mention the rest of us).

> But from what I hear from people who are a lot closer to the RBS situation
> than I am, things have gotten infinitely better for the little girl in
> the news report and her classmates since the media clip. Before, they
> had been begging the Mayor and the police and everybody they could to
> do something, and nothing was done, with them feeling very alone. Now,
> suddenly, there is a wave of support, the Mayor is lighting channukah
> candles and apparently promising some support, the police are engaged and
> things are happening to keep little girls safe, with the girls getting a
> very clear message that what has been done to them is unacceptable. Nor
> were the spitters craving media publicity, they did not invite the media
> in, it was the victims of the spitting that did so.

> The historic justification for pressuring parents and others not to
> go to the police in child abuse cases is precisely this. Once it goes
> to the police or the media, then bad publicity will almost inevitably
> result for the Orthodox community. And this is of course absolutely
> true - once the parents or whoever goes to the police or the media,
> bad publicity will result for the community as a whole, despite the
> abusers being only individuals. There are those who hate the Orthodox
> community who will unquestionably use any report of child abuse to
> tarnish the whole community. Better, the argument therefore goes,
> that individual children suffer and continue to suffer than the whole
> community be tarnished. The Catholic Church (and other groups, such as
> prestigious boarding schools) historically also used precisely the same
> justification. However my impression is that, at least in the US and
> Australia, I am not so convinced about the UK, all Orthodox communities
> are rejecting this argument in favour of the one that says that children
> need to be protected no matter what, and hence the police and media need
> to be involved, even if that does make the community look bad.

On a more philosophical note, is not this debate reminiscent of the
debates over utilitarianism, which to my mind were so beautifully captured
by the Ursela Le Guin short story, "Those who walk away from Omelas".
Omelas (it is O Salem backwards) is a fictional place in which the
sum total of happiness by some law of nature needs to be balanced by
the sum total of misery. Therefore the powers that be in Omelas have
arranged things so that everybody is happy, with the sole exception of
one single child, who is kept in a state of total and absolute misery,
torture and degradation, thereby ensuring everybody else's happiness. The
argument is that the greatest happiness for the greatest number trumps the
suffering of a single individual. But yet there are those who "walk away
from Omelas" ie who are not prepared to have their happiness be built
on the suffering and misery of another. Although note that even Ursela
Le Guin does not have them rising up in revolt and saving the child at
the expense of the happiness of the majority. That is presumably left
to others who locate themselves further towards the personal end on the
communal versus personal spectrum (Ayn Rand at the extreme perhaps? RTK,
weren't you at one time keen on and the person who first introduced
me to Ayn Rand?). But if one does not tolerate the physical and/or
sexual torture and suffering of individual children for the good of
the majority, the question becomes is there a line to be drawn where
the good of the community does overwhelm more limited unhappiness and
personal freedoms. Tznius as it is currently discussed is clearly one
case. To what extent can one require the individual to limit their
self expression in the form of the clothes that they wear for the good
of the community. The nudists argue never. Even most secular Israelis
would agree with some level of minimal clothing. At the other extreme,
baseball caps, denim skirts and such other non regulation forms of dress
must be verboten, and certainly anything which calls attention to the
individual as an individual, and not just part of the mass community,
is destructive of community norms and ought to be stamped out. The Ayn
Rand's of this world unquestionably have a point that uniformity of garb
is the mark of totalitarian societies everywhere, because it encourages
"we" rather than "I" thinking. The question then, as religious Jews, is
this what is mandated and/or sanctioned by the Torah. Ie to what extent
does the Torah value and sanction individualism and to what extent does
it demand and require that the individual submit, and how completely,
to the mass of the "we" and the leaders of the "we".

I of course, in numerous posts over the years, have argued that the
Torah's position is the Rambam's golden mean, in this as much as any
other area. That there is a balance that needs to be achieved between the
individual and the the community, the I and the we, and that in fact the
Tznius guidelines can be understood to be structured precisely to achieve
this balance. But in that regard I am referring to positions regarding
tznius of the form set out in R' YH Henkin's book on the subject, and
not those set out in R' Falk's book on the subject. R' Falk's book, it
seems to me, falls very much further to the side of the need to subsume
the individual into the mass of the community.

One can thus use questions balance to view the whole debate about
advertisements in Jerusalem. That while having women scantily dressed
and in provocative poses is too unbalanced in one direction, having
no women at all is too far to the other extreme, and that therefore
fighting to have women restored to advertisements does not necessarily
mean that one is advocating a return to the other extreme. Which raises
yet another issue - if society has gone too far to one extreme, to what
extent is it appropriate, if what one wants to do is restore balance,
to link up with those who actually want to swing it to the other extreme?
After all, in any pendulum swing, it may be easiest to use the force of
the extreme to get back somewhat to the centre, relying on the extremists
on the existing side to fight back, rather than refuse to use that force,
because if it works too well you will end up swinging too far.

That is why I personally have a lot more sympathy with the young men who
did not want to listen to women singing in the army, because as RRF has
pointed out, they did not seek to stop the women singing, but to remove
themselves from the situation. And the reason I am not in greater sympathy
is simply because, it seems to me, there is a much more straightforward
and less offensive remedy, that of earplugs. With earplugs the soldiers
need not leave the room, they can just look down and not hear anything
and nobody, except perhaps those immediately around them, need be any the
wiser. Given the existence of earplugs, seeking to remove oneself totally
seems more like they were taking a deliberate political stance (and
if the young men in question were not capable of thinking of earplugs,
somebody else a bit more skilled in creative thinking should have been
able to think that for them). Ie the question is not just about balance
of needs, but where smaller things can be done to alleviate the situation,
and greater things are demanded, that too is upsetting the balance.

In relation to the balance between exposure (eg of the Meah She'arim
yellow star protesters) and the hurt that such exposure will cause
(such to Holocaust survivors) - this gets into a question of the right
balance between emes and shalom. As we know, there are times when emes
is supposed to give way to shalom (eg HaShem telling Avraham about
what Sarah said, Yosef and his brothers, etc), and the problems of
talebearing. On the other hand, there is the concept of eidus. After
all, if you are two kosher eidim, and you see a murder by somebody in
circumstances where you can be pretty sure they will not murder again,
on what basis and justification can you possibly go and report to Beis
Din? After all, going to Beis Din will not bring the victim back, and
no doubt the murderer has relatives and the like who will be humiliated
by him being hauled before Beis Din (not to mention he himself). So it
is hard to see any justification for it based purely on sholom trumping
emes, and all the more so where you are dealing with a victimless crime.
And yet there is an obligation on those who can to give eidus - even
though tzedek and shalom in this regard are generally opposites, as the
gemora in Sanhedrin notes.

It reminds me of the famous Teshuva of the Node B'Yehuda. The case was
that a certain woman committed adultery with her son-in-law. Many years
later, the son-in-law did teshuva, and asked the Node B'Yehuda whether
he needed to tell the husband of the adultery. It was accepted that
if the husband had been of an age where relations with his wife could
have occurred, then the son-in-law would have been require to tell the
husband, to prevent him having relations with her in a situation where
such relations were forbidden. But the husband was now sufficiently
old that this was considered unlikely. And the question was, should the
son-in-law perhaps not tell the husband on the grounds that (a) it was
going to cause significant hurt to the husband for no purpose; and (b)
the husband would then go and divorce his wife, the matter would become
a publically known scandal, and there were children from the husband and
wife who were grown up with families of their own, and indeed who were
prominent talmidei chachamim, and the scandal would hit them all badly.
Does kovod habriyos trump the obligation of the son-in-law to tell
the husband?

Now the Node B'Yehuda held that indeed the son-in-law was required to
tell the husband. But that given the age of the husband, it was not
then necessary for the husband to then divorce his wife, moving into
separate rooms and attempting to avoid yichud was enough. And this way
the scandal could be hushed up and not impact the reputations of the
children, although the hurt to the husband remained.

Again, it seems to me, it gets back to a question of balance. Balancing
the need for emes and exposure and justice with the need for sholom
and kovod.

In relation to the argument regarding craving exposure, is that not
the old teacher's dilemma? You have a child in your class who is craving
attention and determined to disrupt. Do you ignore them, knowing that will
provoke them to even greater and greater extremes, eventually resulting in
something (such as injuring another child) that you are not at liberty to
ignore, or do you crack down at an early stage, and not let it get to the
extremes. The logic behind cracking down at an earlier stage, even though
it is indeed giving the person what they seek, is, as I understand it,
the philosophy behind zero tolerance. Let's have the fight over graffiti
or littering rather than over physical injury. On the other hand,
if the thing that you crack down on is something that the rest of the
class have a sneaking sympathy for, you may make the child into a kind
of martyr/hero amongst their classmates, so that you may need to wait
until you get sufficiently unpleasant behaviour to alienate the class
and not create that effect. Again, a question of balance and judgment.
In the case in question, given the craving for publicity, what would they
have come up with next if even this had failed to attract any attention?
Thus my instincts are that it needed to get publicised, and certainly
if RRF is right and it did get them in trouble with those they do listen
to. Ie emes and tzedek need to trump sholom here.

But ironically, getting back to the questions discussed in the beginning,
some of the more extreme individualists would no doubt say that the
craving for attention is in fact all about repressed individualism caused
by too much of a "we" society.



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