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Volume 29: Number 14

Wed, 08 Feb 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2012 13:54:53 -0800
[Avodah] why stop learning?

so then the sentiment is that  davening  for  a person , is a bigger zchus 
 than  learning  for that  person?
and certainly more  than doing  a chessed for the zchus of that person?

because we are now in an era of  all kinds of  sgulos /ceremonies  for 
healing  eg  baking challa 
then the conclusion would  be , that  actually  dropping  all those acts 
and just  davening   would  be more  efficacious.

and is there an analogy  in the le'ilui nishmas category?     i presume 
there leading davening  in the 1st year is kenedged kulam .
but what  about  after that?  there seem to be an endless varieties  of 
memorial  gemachs/funds  etc ; so presumably there isn't one thing better 

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 14:53:37 -0500
Re: [Avodah] s&amora

Related to this discussion:


    Bein Adam Le-chavero: Ethics of Interpersonal Conduct
    By Rav Binyamin Zimmerman

    Shiur #14: Tzedek II -- Middat Sedom and Its Relation to Us

    In last week's lesson, we developed the concept of tzedek, righteous
    behavior rooted in feelings of legal obligation and responsibility. We
    tried to illustrate how God seeks to clarify for Avraham the proper
    definition of tzedaka and mishpat, by revealing to him that the legal
    system of Sedom has produced an incorrigible society, to which the
    only remedy is destruction. We started to identify Sedom's corrupt
    system of legalized cruelty; in fact, a true understanding of their
    outlook is essential for recognizing similar inclinations amongst

    Before identifying the evil of Sedom, we must be very clear on what
    the Jewish understanding of tzedek is, as we discussed last week. A
    proper delineation of tzedek is essential for any individual
    who strives to be a tzaddik, a righteous individual, one who
    fulfills all the dictates that Avraham gave to his descendants. An
    accurate definition of tzedek is essential for another reason as
    well. Sometimes we find ourselves giving undue credit to ourselves
    because of "righteous" behavior that we exhibit. While this is indeed
    praiseworthy, many of our activities are rooted in obligations; the
    simple reason is that they express an outlook of Jewish justice in
    which not everything we have is truly "ours."

    Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler explains that a priori, people may feel
    that tzedek, righteousness, should demand that all which they own is
    truly theirs; however, this is, in fact, viewed as characteristic
    of Sedom. Avraham's beseeching God on behalf of Sedom reveals that
    there is no tzedek and there are no tzaddikim in Sedom. He explains
    why this is:

        Truthfully, when God gives out property to individuals, he
        gives out property that in reality belongs to others; if so,
        what belongs to my friend is in my possession, even though
        it is really his. So says the Rambam. My father zt"l would
        say that even a friendly face when greeting your friend is an
        entitlement that others have a right to demand from you, and if
        you do not provide it for your friend, then you are performing
        an injustice... Therefore, the root of tzedaka is tzedek,
        because it is unjust not to give to another what, in fact, is
        rightfully his. This is Jewish justice... outside of the realm
        of chesed. (Mikhtav Mei-Eliyahu vol. 5, p. 36)

    Sedom's outlook stands diametrically opposed to this Jewish
    understanding of tzedek. They espouse the philosophy "What I have
    is mine, and what you have is yours" (Avot 5:10) -- unless "I" know
    how to appropriate "what you have" legally. This becomes known as
    "middat Sedom", the behavior, trait or values-system of Sedom,
    for all generations.


    Middat Sedom

    The Mishna in Avot (5:10) lists four different character types...

    Among the character types listed here are the unlearned, the wicked,
    the pious, and the initial character type which some define as
    average and others as "middat Sedom." Regarding this first individual
    mentioned in the mishna, the one who says "What I have is mine and
    what you have is yours," the question can be asked: how could it
    be that the two opinions are so divergent? Some scholars consider
    this attitude to be innocuous, average, while others view it as the
    root of all evil, middat Sedom. The various commentators attempt to
    understand the distinction between the two opinions in ways that
    would explain their diverging outlooks. Rabbeinu Yona asks this
    question in a very straightforward manner.

    This [disagreement] raises a question. How can it be that the Sages
    of the Talmud disagree about the classification of middot? Everyone
    is familiar with them and agrees as to what they are. The prophet
    Yechezkel explicitly states that withholding charity is the midda
    of Sedom and our Sages (Ketubot 68a) often call one who does so
    totally wicked...

    One can divide the various explanations into different categories:

    A group of commentators explained that the attitude "What I have
    is mine and what you have is yours" is to be viewed differently
    depending on one's motives; it is not identical for all who share
    this attitude. For instance, Rabbeinu Yona explains that the Mishna
    is definitely not referring to a difference of opinion as to how to
    view one who does not give tzedaka. Rather, it must refer to someone
    who gives charity for the wrong reasons, and therefore there is
    room for different outlooks on this individual. He identifies the
    person discussed as one who provides for others out of a sense of
    religious obligation, while inside he is selfish; he will, therefore,
    only provide what the strict halakha obligates him to give.

    It must be that they only disagree about the specific characteristics
    which this mishna refers to, namely giving charity as required
    by Halakha, because the giver is God-fearing, but not because
    he is generous. By nature he is not a giver, but a miser. He is
    not generous, for he does not want the world to benefit from his
    property. He also does not want to benefit from others, because "one
    who hates gifts will live" (Mishlei 15:27). This is average; some
    say it is the trait of Sedom. However, even if he is not naturally
    generous, he still does give to the poor when asked because he
    is God-fearing. If so, what does it matter what sort of nature
    he has? His behavior is average. Others say that his behavior is
    characteristic of Sedom; its roots are evil, and it distances one
    from generosity.

    Rabbenu Yona seems to imply that the second opinion in the mishna
    holds that middat Sedom can be very subtle; it does not necessarily
    refer to someone who refuses to give charity. Even one who provides
    for the needy without the proper measure of generosity might fit
    into this category, which is a rather scary thought.

    Rav Hirsch explains succinctly that this attitude, while objectively
    average, is liable to undermine an individual's caring heart, until
    it completely corrodes a person's empathy:

        It would seem that the idea that every person should keep that
        which is his and that no one else should derive benefit from
        the property of another is midway between good and evil. Some,
        however, feel that it is a most reprehensible attitude, because
        it would expunge from the human heart and mind the guiding
        principle of loving-kindness without which man would lose his
        divinely-given nobility, and human society would be deprived of
        the goal ordained for it as its destiny.

    Many others commentators view the directive as societal. One
    individual in a community who does not want to share with and does
    not expect others to share with him is tolerable. However, when it
    becomes the prevalent attitude of society, then one will witness
    the cruel and deplorable outlook that will infest the minds of all
    inhabitants, so much so that major efforts will be made to protect
    this middat Sedom. (See Lachmei Toda and others.)


Continues with the halakhos of kofin al midas Sodom, as I already
raised before reading this mailing (but after printing it up and simply
seeing it).

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When we are no longer able to change a situation
mi...@aishdas.org        -- just think of an incurable disease such as
http://www.aishdas.org   inoperable cancer -- we are challenged to change
Fax: (270) 514-1507      ourselves.      - Victor Frankl (MSfM)

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 14:58:11 -0500
[Avodah] The Day of Death

Another YHE ("Gush") email raises the question of whether the advice
R' Levi bar Chama repeats in the name of Reish Lakish really works:

    R. Levi bar Chama said in the name of R. Shimon ben Lakish: A
    person should always incite his good inclination against his evil
    inclination, as it says: "Tremble and do not sin." If he succeeds,
    well and good; if not, he should engage in Torah study, as it says:
    "Commune with your own heart." If he succeeds, well and good; if
    not, he should recite the Shema, as it says: "Upon your bed." If
    he succeeds, well and good; if not, he should remind himself of the
    day of death, as it says: "And be still. Selah" (Berakhot 5a).

Skipping to the maqanah of http://vbm-torah.org/archive/aggada72/13aggada.htm

    Despite the cogency of the above approaches, I believe that a
    more profound argument lies at the heart of R. Shimon ben Lakish's
    reluctance to use the day of death as a spur to repentance. R. Reisher
    argues that the day of death is a very effective medicine, but one
    with dangerous side effects. But one can challenge R. Reisher's
    assumption that remembering the day of death is effective. R Eliyahu
    Lopian (1876 -- 1970) was an influential Rosh Yeshiva and Mashgiach
    (Yeshiva head and spiritual advisor) in England and Israel. In his
    Lev Eliyahu (parashat Toldot), he insightfully explains why musing
    about death may be ineffective. Thoughts of mortality certainly
    create a sense of urgency; given little time, we rightfully focus
    on what we truly care about. Yet some people's ultimate concerns
    revolve around the trivial and the mundane. If a person's lifetime
    goal is pursuing the perfect steak, then thinking about the limited
    time remaining will only energize his attempts to locate novel steak
    options. As Yeshayahu pointed out long ago, some react to the prospect
    of death by indulging in physicality: "And behold joy and gladness,
    slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine--'Let
    us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die!'" (Yeshayahu 22:13). A
    sense of urgency only helps those whose heart is in the right place
    to begin with.

    R. Lopian cites an earlier biblical source for this idea. Esav
    says: "I am at the point of death; what do I need the birthright
    for?" (Bereishit 25:32). According to Rashi, Esav considers the
    many halakhic restrictions involved in Temple service and foresees
    committing a capital offense. In a more straightforward reading, Ibn
    Ezra explains that hunting reflects a dangerous lifestyle, so Esav
    harbors constant doubts about how long he will live. Either way,
    thoughts of mortality do not bring Esav to greater religiosity;
    on the contrary, they make him think about his next meal.

    Chatam Sofer's creative reading of a different gemara echoes
    R. Lopian's insight:

        Reish Lakish sold himself to the Ludae (Rashi Shabbat 10a says
        that they Ludae were cannibals. Marcus Jastrow says that they
        were people who hire men for gladiatorial contests). He took with
        him a sack and a stone. He said (to himself): "I know that on a
        person's last day (before they kill him), they grant him whatever
        he wishes so that his blood will be atoned for." On his last day,
        they said: "What would you like?" He said: "I want to tie you
        up and sit you down and give each one of you a sack and a half
        (i.e. hit them with the sack)." He tied them up and sat them
        down. He hit each one of them, and their spirit departed. They
        gnashed their teeth. He said: "Are you smiling at me? I still
        have another half to give you." He killed them all (Gittin 47a).

    We could take this gemara at face value, portraying Reish Lakish as
    heroically and cleverly removing scourges of society. Accepting such
    a literal approach, Tosafot think this story must have occurred
    in the earlier stages of Reish Lakish's life, before he joined
    the world of the beit midrash (see Bava Metzia 84a). Yet given the
    fantastical nature of this tale, it might make more sense to read it
    allegorically. R. Sofer does so by connecting this gemara with Reish
    Lakish's statement in Berakhot 5a. He identifies the Ludae as the
    evil inclination that consumes flesh. The hit refers to Shema and
    Torah study, the preferable ways of subduing the evil inclination;
    the half hit refers to recalling the day of death, a less optimum
    strategy. Given Reish Lakish's righteousness, the first hit knocked
    out the evil inclination, and he did not require the half hit.

    Like R. Lopian, R. Sofer mentions the possibility of mortality
    motivating a turn to hedonism. He says that remembering the day of
    death only works when one first studies Torah and recites Shema. Given
    the right background and priorities, thoughts of death can help. Yet
    this strategy has great limitations; it requires the right context
    to work and, even when effective, causes negative side effects.

    Educators who are frustrated by their students' apathy may try to
    up the emotional ante by talking about such matters as death or
    the Holocaust. They feel that only such powerful themes will affect
    indifferent students. R. Lopian and R. Sofer remind us not to quickly
    adopt such an approach. Torah study and reciting the Shema are more
    basic and positive educational strategies.

(Personally I get a kick out of noticing how often teshuvah-related
discussions in the gemara involve R' Shimon ben Laqish.)

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: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 15:04:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] s&amora

On Tue, Feb 07, 2012 at 02:53:37PM -0500, Micha Berger wrote:
: Related to this discussion:
: http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/chavero/14chavero.htm

More, now from the prior email in that series:

    An analysis of the Midrashic sources yields a still darker picture
    of Sedom: a society based on social norms of iniquity beneath a
    cloak of legality. The inhabitants of Sedom relapsed, returning to
    antediluvian crimes. The Midrash Rabba (31) teaches that they would
    steal items worth less than a peruta, the minimum amount for criminal
    liability. Sin was sanctioned; violating the cruel laws was not.

    Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer (25) states that public ordinances were
    issued, making it the law of the land that pity was a capital offense:

        They issued a proclamation in Sedom saying: "Everyone who
        strengthens the hand of the poor and needy with a loaf of bread
        shall be burnt in the flames."

    Lack of hospitality was not merely the norm; it was mandated and

    One could imagine that the people of Sedom had arrived at their
    legal system based on some deep-seated beliefs -- for instance,
    that each man gets what he deserves from God. However, the verse in
    Yechezkel seems to speak of haughtiness and the failure to perform
    kindness. The Tosefta (Sota 3, quoted in Sanhedrin 109a) describes
    their mindset as based on an understanding of the beautiful land
    they had (13:10-11) and a fear that outsiders would flood their
    region and take it over. The Ramban expresses this clearly:

        The people of Sedom intended to prevent the entry of all
        strangers. They believed (as our Rabbis maintain) that many
        people would come to their land on account of its fertility. They
        refused to share their bounty with the less fortunate... Yechezkel
        similarly testifies that this was their offense... They rebelled
        in their prosperity and persecuted the poor... According to our
        Sages, they were notorious for every kind of evil, but their fate
        was sealed due to their persistence in failing to support the
        poor and the needy. They were continually guilty of this sin,
        and no other nation could be compared to Sedom for its cruelty.

    Rav Hirsch (v. 19) puts it nicely as he answers some pressing
    questions: What was the message of the despicable system of justice
    employ in Sedom? Where did it go wrong that it had to be destroyed?

        Sedom was a pleasure-seeking world, addicted to sensual
        enjoyments, a world that ultimately valued a person only to the
        extent that he was useful or provided pleasure. Precisely such
        a world is likely to twist the idea of strict justice into a
        double-edged sword of shameless sophism, arguing, "What I have is
        mine, and what you have is yours" (Avot 5:10). According to this
        worldview, egoism is a sacred principle of life, helplessness
        is considered a crime, and offering assistance is considered
        a folly and an offense against the public welfare. Under the
        rule of the principles of Sedom, entitlements were dictated
        only by achievements, not by needs; the poor and the needy were
        despised. Only a wealthy man, like Lot, who was bound to provide
        jobs and profit, could perhaps be granted rights; but begging
        was forbidden, and those who could not support themselves,
        were punished, imprisoned and exiled.

        Mishpat without tzedaka is deprived of the human spark, and it
        turns into cruelty. By contrast, Avraham's testament to his
        descendants places tzedaka before mishpat. What is more, in
        certain cases the legal code of the children of Avraham regards
        tzedaka too as mishpat, a legal obligation... Avraham is to direct
        his children to give Jewish tzedaka, not the pittance to the
        poor that makes the giver proud and humiliates the recipient,
        nor the public aid designed to protect the rich against the
        bitter anger of the destitute and despairing. He is to direct
        his children to practice the mitzva of tzedaka, which entitles
        everyone who is in need to exercise rights vested in him by
        God. This mitzva helps the poor stand tall before the rich and
        makes the rich man realize that he is merely the custodian of
        funds that rightfully belong to the poor.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You are where your thoughts are.
mi...@aishdas.org                - Ramban, Igeres Hakodesh, Ch. 5
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 5
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 00:07:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] why stop learning?

so then the sentiment is that  davening  for  a person , is a bigger zchus
than  learning  for that  person? 
and certainly more  than doing  a chessed for the zchus of that person? 


I just saw a great story that says the opposite. The Rogatchover was known
for his short tefillos on Yom Kippur. He used to daven quickly, and then sit
down and learn for the rest of the day. He explained that when he davens,
he's talking to Hashem. And when he learns, Hashem is talking to him. "And
on Yom Kippur, I'd rather Hashem is talking to me than I am talking to Him!"



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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 15:10:11 -0500
[Avodah] The Workings of Tefillah

Last in a series of teasers for YHE emails, this one on approaches to
tefillah, and how to understand what we hope to accomplish. Obviously,
the Borei doesn't need to be told of your need, He isn't going to be
swayed by our nagging, and He would do what is best for us either way.
So why are we davening?


    By Rav Joshua Amaru


    3. The Anthropocentric Conception of Prayer

    The conception of prayer most prevalent amongst the classical medieval
    Jewish philosophers is articulated most fully by Rav Yosef Albo in
    his Sefer Ha-Ikkarim.[3] Human beings cannot change God: as opposed
    to a king of flesh and blood, the King of Kings, who is perfect and
    eternal, is not subject to influence and not affected by us. Prayer
    should be conceived as a fundamentally human-focused activity; in
    other words, prayer is anthropocentric. Though addressed to God,
    the act of prayer does not affect the Divine -- it does not "work"
    by changing God's mind. Rather, it affects the pray-er and changes
    his or her personality and standing. Prayer is an act that gains
    one merit: in praying, in turning to God and crying out to Him, a
    person becomes more worthy and more deserving, and divine judgment
    may change in light of this change. God does not change -- the person
    praying is changed, and this can at times lead to the realization
    of one's prayers.

    As one would imagine, one who subscribes to the anthropocentric
    approach to prayer has an easier time accommodating prayers of
    praise and thanksgiving than prayers of petition. In encountering
    the greatness of God and His Creation, he or she is inspired and
    perhaps obliged to sing His praises; likewise the human object of
    divine grace is morally obligated to express thanksgiving. Petition,
    however, remains a problem from this perspective: it is not clear
    what human good is achieved by the detailing of our needs before an
    all-knowing God and begging for His grace.

    4. The Theurgical Conception of Prayer

    At the other end of the spectrum lies what we can call theurgical
    prayer. Theurgy is an activity in which human action affects or
    influences the divine, through prayers or rituals. Praying becomes
    part of a larger spectrum of religious ritual activity that is
    dedicated to changing and improving the spiritual world. Prayer,
    so to speak, can "work," in that it can effect a change in spiritual

    In the Kabbalistic tradition we find a great deal of sophisticated
    theurgical thinking. Such notions as "raising the sparks," and
    "tikkun olamot elyonim" (repairing of upper worlds) are metaphors
    for the ways that prayer (and mitzvot) can make a change on a higher
    plane. These approaches posit a complex theological reality, of
    which the ten sefirot are the most basic components. In performing
    mitzvot, and especially through prayer and specific kavvanot,[4]
    a person can make a positive difference to spiritual reality in a
    way that reverberates also in the everyday world.[5] The perfection
    of God is protected by the fact that divinity is mediated through
    this complex reality, such that God's higher aspect remains perfect
    while He grants people the ability to affect His lower aspects.

    Though there is great power and nuance to be found in this
    approach, there are two aspects of it that I, at least, find
    very difficult. First of all, one must affirm the reality of an
    elaborate spiritual reality that is subject to human influence in
    a manner that appears magical. The gap between the magicians and
    diviners forbidden by the Torah and permitted "magical" practices
    becomes very small. Furthermore, the conception of influence on God
    as quasi-magical promotes a kind of mechanistic theology. God is
    conceived almost as a force rather than as a person, and someone
    who has the correct knowledge and technology can manipulate this
    force. It goes without saying that this is not how advocates of this
    approach conceive of themselves.

    These extreme approaches mirror one another's basic strengths and
    weaknesses. ...

    It is important to appreciate that these brief summaries border
    on caricatures of what are profound attempts to grapple with the
    concept of prayer and, more generally, the relationship between the
    human and the divine....

    5. Rav Soloveitchik's Existentialist Conception of Prayer

    In his writings posthumously published in Worship of the Heart, Rav
    Joseph B. Soloveitchik (hereafter, "the Rav") elaborates a conception
    of prayer that marginalizes the question of how or whether prayer
    "works." Rather, claims the Rav, prayer must be understood as
    primarily a medium of religious experience, as a mode of forming a
    relationship with God:

        The efficacy of prayer is not the central term of inquiry in
        our philosophy of avoda she-ba-lev.... The basic function of
        prayer is not its practical consequences but the metaphysical
        formation of a fellowship consisting of God and man.[6]

    Prayer is the realization of a dialogical relationship between the
    individual and God, in which the pray-er is the speaker and God is
    the listener. Its parallel is prophecy, in which these roles are
    reversed. In both cases, communication leads to communion, and the
    human comes into contact with the divine.

    Petitional prayer is at center of this religious experience. The
    Rav emphasizes the fact that petitional prayer is a mitzva,
    a religious obligation. In a person's realization of his or her
    utter dependence upon God, in recognition of his or her existential
    "depth crisis," both the need and the obligation to call out to God
    are formed. Every person must realize that despite the greatness
    of the human personality, each individual is a "being born out of
    nothingness and running down to nothingness."[7] We are equipped
    with infinite imagination and desire but "must be satisfied with
    a restricted, bounded existence."[8] The mitzva of prayer includes
    the responsibility that a person realize this fact and experience
    the distress attendant upon it. From the depths of crisis, a
    person is drawn to call upon God out of the realization of his
    utter dependence. This call, when issued from the depths of the
    human personality, brings about the miraculous manifestation of the
    divine presence.

    6. Prayer as Intersubjective Influence

    I now turn to a final conception of prayer, which I think is very
    widespread; it is the simple meaning of the liturgy as well as
    the mainstream understanding of prayer found in both the Torah and
    Chazal. What I have to add is merely a philosophical defense of the
    idea that petitioning God is an actual request of an individual to his
    Maker, which includes at least the possibility that the request will
    be answered affirmatively. It is explicitly an attempt to influence
    and impact upon the Divine.

    How can such a conception of prayer be accommodated to the idea of
    God as transcendent, complete, perfect and all-knowing? The short
    answer is that it cannot -- but that is not a tragedy. As I have
    emphasized in previous shiurim, insistence on the transcendence of
    God as our point of departure produces nothing but silence. We cannot
    think about or relate to a fully transcendent God -- all we can do
    is point to the presence of a being beyond our ability to grasp. Yet
    the transcendent God, in His chesed (grace), has chosen to manifest
    Himself to us, as a subject, with various personae: the King of Kings,
    the Lawgiver, the merciful Father, etc. Our relationship with God is
    necessarily limited and constrained by our own limitations, and all of
    religion is mediated by the varying conceptions we have of God. None
    of these are complete, but by negotiating our way amongst them we
    can accomplish, to some limited extent, the seemingly impossible and
    have a relationship with the Divine. That relationship can include
    situations in which we make requests of God and they are answered.

    Yet even within our human conceptions of God, petitional prayer
    poses a problem. If God is the ultimate arbiter of justice, who
    determines the fate of everyone and everything in accordance with its
    just deserts, then even the hope that God might "change His mind"
    because of someone's petition amounts to a scandal. Should a judge
    change his verdict because the convicted criminal falls to his knees
    and begs for mercy? Doing so would make a mockery of justice! How
    is petitioning God for mercy any different?

    But there is another sort of influence. How we relate to another
    is not indifferent to the nature of the relationship or to the
    forms in which it is expressed. This is perhaps easiest to see with
    parents and children. When the same child asks nicely for the candy,
    the parent might be inclined to loosen up the rules a bit (no candy
    before dinner). This is not necessarily the parent acting against his
    better judgment, but in accordance with it. It is possible to err in
    the direction of being overly rigid, even in enforcing appropriate
    rules, while it may be preferable to let things go occasionally. When
    these occasions are, and how frequent they are, will be functions
    of the relationship between the parent and the child. The trust the
    parent has in the child, as well as the circumstances, which include
    whether the child has asked for a special treat and how he has asked,
    all play a role.

    Chazal (the Rabbis of the Talmud) understood a person's relationship
    to God in an analogous fashion. They make use of different images
    to represent the ways that God relates to the world. Most prominent
    are the images of God as judge, exhibiting the attribute of justice,
    and the image of God as merciful Father, exhibiting the attribute
    of mercy. The scandal arises when we presume that justice is
    to be equated with some sort of ultimate rightness, the correct
    way for God to manage the world. If so, then any divergence from
    that is a scandal. But the Rabbis did not conceive of justice in
    this comprehensive fashion. A judge must never allow his judgment
    to diverge from the fair and the just. But God is not merely a
    judge. Justice is but one of the ways that divine concern for the
    world is manifest...

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's never too late
mi...@aishdas.org        to become the person
http://www.aishdas.org   you might have been.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                      - George Elliot

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Message: 7
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 21:52:16 -0500
[Avodah] Learning while getting a haircut

Listening to a shiur about the Rogatchover and his long hair.  Anyone know if it's assur to learn without a kippah while you are getting your hair cut?
Joel Rich

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 12:10:45 -0500
Re: [Avodah] s&amora

Thanks to an email by RMPoppers, I found R' Lord Jonathan Sacks' takes
on the issue. From Covenant and Conversation, Noach 5768

    The Netziv (R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin, 1817-1893), writing in
    Czarist Russia and prophetically foreseeing the worst excesses
    of communism, sees Babel as the world's first totalitarianism,
    in which to preserve the masses as a single entity, all freedom
    of expression is suppressed (that, for him, is the meaning of "the
    whole world had one language and a unified speech"). Intoxicated by
    their technological prowess, the builders of Babel believe they had
    become like G-ds and could now construct their own cosmopolis, their
    man-made miniature universe. Not content with earth, they wanted to
    build an abode in heaven. It is a mistake many civilizations have
    made, and the result is catastrophe.

    In modern times, the re-enactment of Babel is most clearly associated
    with the name of Nietzsche (1844-1890). For the last ten years of his
    life, he was clinically insane, but shortly before his final breakdown
    he had a nightmare vision which has become justly famous:

    Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright
    morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly,
    "I seek G-d! I seek G-d!"... "Whither is G-d? he cried. "I shall
    tell you. We have killed him - you and I. All of us are his murderers
    ... G-d is dead. G-d remains dead. And we have killed him. How
    shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What
    was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned
    has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off
    us? ... Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must
    we not ourselves become G-ds simply to seem worthy of it?"

    As George Steiner pointed out (in his In Bluebeard's Castle)
    there was less than three-quarters of a century between Nietzsche
    and the Holocaust, between his vision of the murder of G-d and
    the deliberate, systematic attempt to murder the "people of G-d"
    (Hitler called conscience "a Jewish invention").

    When human beings try to become more than human, they quickly
    become less than human. As Lord Acton pointed out, even the great
    city-state of Athens which produced Socrates, Plato and Aristotle,
    self-destructed when "the possession of unlimited power, which
    corrodes the conscience, hardens the heart, and confounds the
    understanding of monarchs, exercised its demoralising influence." What
    went wrong in Athens, he writes, was the belief that "there is no
    law superior to that of the State - the lawgiver is above the law."

In http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/babel%E2%80%99s-la
or http://bit.ly/yF49cx , the CR compares Kayin (whose children invent
cities and industry), Bavel (anothe rcity), Sodom and Mitzrayim as
a backdrop for Avraham and the birth of Yahadus. Also worth a look,
although less relevent to the aspect we're discussing.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             If you're going through hell
mi...@aishdas.org        keep going.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - Winston Churchill
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 13:06:29 -0500
[Avodah] Tu BiShvat today

Topic of conversation among the co workers who came by my cubicle for
raisins, dates, olives, and discussions of bugs on raisins or dates...

All qabbalah aside, just talking nafqa mina lemaaseh, what is Tu biShvat

All we could come up with was orlah and not saying tachanun. Did we
miss anything?

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 10
From: Michael Kopinsky <mkopin...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 13:24:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Tu BiShvat today

On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM, Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:

> All qabbalah aside, just talking nafqa mina lemaaseh, what is Tu biShvat
> today?
> All we could come up with was orlah and not saying tachanun. Did we
> miss anything?

Maaser sheini??

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Message: 11
From: Liron Kopinsky <liron.kopin...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 10:32:16 -0800
Re: [Avodah] Tu BiShvat today

On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 10:06 AM, Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:

> Topic of conversation among the co workers who came by my cubicle for
> raisins, dates, olives, and discussions of bugs on raisins or dates...
> All qabbalah aside, just talking nafqa mina lemaaseh, what is Tu biShvat
> today?
> All we could come up with was orlah and not saying tachanun. Did we
> miss anything?
> Tir'u baTov!
> -Micha

Is there an inyan of biur during a shemita year in EY? Also, is there an
issue of taking maaser of chadash al yashan, or are both of those inyanim
only nogeiah with shemita d'oraita?

Kol Tuv,
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