Avodah Mailing List

Volume 30: Number 168

Sun, 09 Dec 2012

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2012 09:55:51 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Is there a Reshus Harabim D'oraysa nowadays?

Tanach, when it enumerates diglei midbar, uses "shesh me'os elef", but 
Hazal use "shishim rivo".  Any idea why the terminology changes?

Given that Hazal sometimes used numbers qualitatively rather than 
quantitatively this could hint at a radical resolution of the question.

David Riceman

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2012 10:22:41 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Is there a Reshus Harabim D'oraysa nowadays?

On Thu, Dec 06, 2012 at 03:27:43PM -0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
:>However, Rebbe spends over 1/3 (guesstimating) of the space on hilkhos
:>Shabbos (mesechtos Shabbos and Eiruvin) discussing hotza'ah.
:>Disporportionately huge, if you think there are not only 28 other
:>melakhos, there is some mention of muqtzah (aside from Mes' Beitzah),
:>shevus, mitzvos asei of Shabbos, etc... It makes it hard for me to
:>believe hotza'ah wasn't a big part of their Shabbos experience in his

: Actually, that can be argued to be a proof the other way.  
: http://www.chabad.org/holiday
: s/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/1067385/jewish/What-Happened-to-Tractate-Chanu
: kah.htm

: teh answer given is that, given the gezera on writing down torah she baal
: peh, and the fact that the only reason it was permitted to be written down
: was because it was a horas sha'ah, because otherwise it might be forgotten -
: therefore Rebbe did not write down those aspects of halacha that everybody
: knew and were in no danger of being forgotten - like tephillin and tallis
: (which people wore every day, and for many, all day every day) and Chanukah,
: which people remembered.  

Bemechilas kevod the Lub Rebbe, I do not see it.

People knew Chanukah better than matzah? Shofar blowing? When they said
Shema every day?

I'm happy with blaming the coverage in Megillas Taanis for the lack of
need to document hilkhos Chanukah.

Perhaps tefillin and tzitzis had a different preexisting "documentation"
-- you can copy what already exists. The weakness with is that WRT shofar,
the mishnah does tell you that the animal used is relevant -- don't copy
that ram shofar using a cow horn! And there are similar details that you
could justify pointing out WRT tzitzis as well. You need at least one
knot de'oraisa, and derabbanan two knots with a set of at least three
windings between them. Someone could see a tied pair of tzitzis and not
realize which features are me'aqvos. Tefillin certainly. In Rebbe's day
there were multiple parashah orderings in use, you could find a min's
tefillin with different parshios in it, etc...


Micha Berger             One doesn't learn mussar to be a tzaddik,
mi...@aishdas.org        but to become a tzaddik.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2012 09:56:16 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Rabbis say observant Jews can eat in secular

At 05:08 AM 12/7/2012, Eli Turkel wrote:
> In any case it is clear from the psakim of RSZA, ROY, CI and others
> that indeed being attuned to the public and avoiding a chillul hashem
> is indeed part of halacha

I still stand by what I wrote above, namely, what does being attuned
to the public mean? Which part of the public? The non-religious,
the Chareidi, the Dati, the MO, etc. Surely they will have varying
opinions on most issues. Is it really possible to be in tune with all
of these groups simultaneously?

I wonder at you pointing out "voiding a chillul hashem is indeed part
of halacha." Was this ever a question? Please see my article

"Sanctification or Desecration" The Jewish Press, July 10, 2009, page 1.


Go to top.

Message: 4
From: cantorwolb...@cox.net
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2012 11:28:27 -0500
[Avodah] Vayeishev

Three interesting things I'd like to share in this portion.
1) When the brothers brought the tunic to Jacob, they asked his "Kaker na hak'tonet BINCHA hee em na?" [37:32]
"...Is it YOUR son's tunic or not?"  I find it so strange that they are asking their father about their brother in the odd
way: "YOUR son's..." Wouldn't the normal way have been "Is this Joseph's coat...? Why would they say YOUR son?
Did they think he wouldn't know who Joseph was? The answer I would give is more psychological. Joseph was alienated
from them and they already washed their hands of him by their heinous crime; hence, YOUR son, divorcing themselves
from referring to him as part of their family.

2) They are totally unemotional in their dialogue with Jacob. One would think that they would act sad. But their behavior
is as if they are asking their father what time it is. The only thing it says is that all his children arose to comfort him. But wasn't
it THEIR brother, too?! So one would expect they also were bereaved, but there is nothing to indicate that they even acted
as if they were bereaved. All they did was to show sympathy to their father. Again, it is as if they told their father that a dear friend
of his died and they comforted him.

3) In halacha, excessive grief is not allowed. Jacob articulated that he would grieve the rest of his life. In other religions when a 
woman loses her husband, she dresses in black and mourns the rest of her life. This is against halacha. How is it that Jacob, one of
the three Ovos, went against halacha and indicated he would definitely be grieving excessively? I've seen several responses -- none 
of which satisfied me; such as Jacob was grieving because there was no dead body and therefore he might still be alive and therefore
there was no closure. In other words, Jacob was grieving because he felt Joseph might still be alive. The fact that Joseph was alive, is
really irrelevant because the Torah indicates that Jacob was convinced Joseph was killed and hence, his response was to mourn the
rest of his life.  The answer that is most reasonable is that you cannot legislate emotion -- or I should say, you could legislate emotion but
it cannot be enforced. In other words, how can one tell a parent that after 30 days (or a year), that they cannot grieve or mourn any more.
To tell someone who is devastated, torn apart, depressed, etc. that life must go on and you can't grieve any more is not realistic. Some 
people are able to turn it on and off but the majority of people grieve in their own way and own time frame. Jacob is human and halacha
can't dictate his emotion. Also, another answer is that at the time of a child's death, a parent may very well say that they will mourn the
rest of their lives. But after some time passes, they are able to see beyond. However, I personally know parents who have lost a child and
they never "got over it" and did grieve and mourn the rest of their lives.    

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2012 11:29:28 -0500
[Avodah] Rabbis say observant Jews can eat in secular homes

At 10:12 AM 12/7/2012, R. Akiva Miller wrote:
> Many of them, for example, simply do not understand the concept of 
> "forbidden" or "obligated". They often see halacha not as law, but 
> as social or cultural choices. They are genuinely incredulous when 
> they ask, quite sincerely, "You mean you *never* cheat? Can't you 
> *ever* make an exception? What would happen if you did?"

My experience with both gentiles and non-religious Jews is that they do
understand this when it is explained that Orthodox Judaism has laws that
restrict what and where an Orthodox Jew eats. My former PhD student
Father Gabe Costa understood this when I explained it to him, the
gentile secretary in the Math Department at Stevens understands this,
as well as many others who I have come into contact with over my 42+
years at Stevens.

Shortly after I came to Stevens in 1968 I was asked by a non-religious
Jew who also taught in the Math Department to join the Faculty Club.
I pointed out to Joel that since I ate only kosher food, I would
not be joining, since one feature of the Faculty Club is eating in a
special area with other faculty. Joel said, "Surely there must be way."
I mentioned to him that there were frozen kosher meals. On his own he
went ahead and contacted the Stevens Dining Hall and had them arrange to
have such meals for me. After this I did become a member of the Faculty
Club for a year or two. This non-religious Jew certainly understood
that I, as an observant Jew, ate only kosher food.

At Stevens when I attended luncheon meetings it was always arranged for
me to have a kosher meal. I and my wife were served kosher meals in
the Stevens President's (H. Raveche) home when we were invited there.

In the 1980's I ran a program to retrain college faculty so they could
teach computer science. Ken Rogers was then the president of Stevens, and
he told me he wanted to make a dinner in honor of the program concluding
its first year. I asked him to make it kosher, and he readily agreed.
I arranged for a caterer to come in, kasher part of the kitchen and the
dinner was kosher. The person who held the second highest position at
the time in the NJ Department of Higher Education was a Jew. At the end
of the dinner he said to me, "I do not care how much it cost to make
this dinner kosher. The kosher food we were served was 4 times better
than anything I have ever been served before at Stevens."

When I was at West Point I was also served kosher frozen meals a number
of times. When a non-Jewish faculty member invited me to have dinner in
his home, I explained to him that I ate only kosher and could not eat in
his home. He understood, and he, his wife, Father Costa (who was also at
West Point that year) and I went to Monsey to eat in a kosher restaurant.

My personal experience over many years shows that people do understand.
Of course, one must be consistent, and explain things in a pleasant
non-threatening manner.

At 12:29 AM 12/7/2012, Ben Waxman wrote:
> That would still a problem if she came to your house. What do 
> you do then when she comes to your house in a low cut dress?

Am I to deduce from your making this point that you no longer think that
this idea of eating in secular homes or even of inviting secular Jews
to eat in one's home is a good one?


Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 18:13:38 +0200
[Avodah] Fwd: eating in secular homes

Prof. Levine writes
<<I still stand by what I wrote above, namely,  what does being attuned to
the public mean?  Which part of the public?  The non-religious,  the
Chareidi,  the Dati, the MO, etc.  Surely they will have varying opinions
on most issues.  Is it really possible to be in tune with all of these
groups simultaneously?>>

RSZA among others discusses the issue of having a secular Jew eating in
your home when he won't make a bracha. Basically he allows it when other
options will cause a chillul hashem.
As an extension Bet Hillel is saying that when is eating in a secular
person's home one can continue with th the guidelines they provide. I
understand "attuned to the public" means the secular public that might be
insulted if a guest refuses to eat. In that case they state that one can
indeed eat in their homes though obviously with restrictions.

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 19:26:06 +0200
[Avodah] reshus harabim

<<E.g. RMF says that the 600K must all be in
the streets of a city at one time, but not necessarily in the same street,
and one can assume that there will be times when 20% of the population
will be out, so any place with a population over 3M qualifies, and since
(he has been told) both Manhattan and Brooklyn have such populations,
they qualify, assuming the other criteria are also met.>>

In the latest version of Hakirah there is a 40 page article by Adam Mintz
about the controversy over the Eruv in Brooklyn.Among the major questions
is whther Brooklyn is considered a RHR.
One of the questions involved is whether Brooklyn is surrounded by man made
R Chaim Ozer allowed an eruv around Paris because it is surrounded on 3
sides by waterwaves (WWII prevented the actual construction). R Weissmandel
& R. Menashe Klein supported the Brooklyn eruv on the same grounds. RMF
held that if the population was over 600,000 then seawalls were not enough.
Part of the recent fight was over intrepations of the psak of RMF.
In any case RMF says that RHR requires that 600,000 people traverse the
city on a daily basis and he calculates that a city with 3 million people
satisfies that requirement and he is told that a million people enter
Brooklyn every day. Unfortunately the real number in 2000 was only about
230,000 people entering daily into Brookly. Visitors to the beaches don't
come on a daily basis. RMF further wites that Flatbush and BoroPark have
populations more than 600,000  while in truth Boroprak has about 100,000
while Flatbush has about 200,000. In later teshuva about Detroit RMF admits
that the areas don't have 6000,000 people. However, he contends that since
most people are not familar with population counts no eruv should be built
around a big city. R Menashe Klein diasgrees and points out that contra to
RMF Warsaw had an eruv around the town and not just the Jewish city (BTW
the recent eruv in Vienna contains large sections of the city)
RMF further argues that the requirement of a street that goes through the
city (mefulash) only applies to a walled city. In contrast R. Klein quotes
many gedolim who hold that the requirement of mefulash for RHR applies also
to unwalled cities.

One interesting topic of debate is renting the premises of the city for the
eruv. Does this work also for the O Jews who disagree with the eruv?
Interestingly RMF views the eruv as mainly for non-O as the O Jews have no
need to carry in public areas in todays society and people will forget the
laws of eruvin. (again RMK disagrees). R. Menashe Klein bases much of his
defense on the use of eruvin in Europe with the haskama of their gedolim
and ignores American rabbis except for RMF.

Unfortunately besides the halachic debate between RMF and R. Menashe Klein
there were other acrimonious disputes and fierce battles.

As an aside the next article in the issue is by Ari Zivotifsky on the nasty
fights over the kashrut of Kingklip.

<<And either they were right or we are. We can't both be right. If our
shita is right, then it was always right, and theirs was wrong; that's why
we have to follow it, and can't defer to what they did. If they disagreed
with us, and thought they were right, then they had to do what they did
and couldn't defer to us. But only one of us is right. The definitions
of day and night didn't change when the majority of poskim changed.>>

The debate over Eilu-ve-Elu has been discussed many times. While some agree
with Zev that only one opinion is right many disagree. However, in real
life psakim change over time. While the SA and most communities once held
like Rabbenu Tam both for kula and chumra there is almost no community left
that relies on Rabbenu Tam le-kula and many (most?) communities now follow
the opinion of the Geonim/Gra/Shulvan Arukh HarRav.

Interestingly one of the applications is the lighting chanukah candles on
motzei shabbat. i.e. are those that normally hold like RT on motzei shabbat
to light chanuka candles that late? The psak I heard was it depends if the
hold like RT only for chumra or even for kula.

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel%gmail....@aishdas.org>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 18:41:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe (Micha Berger)

[Micha, your friendly neighborhood mod, replied to Dr Shinnar: -micha]
> On Wed, Dec 05, 2012 at 08:23:05PM -0500, Meir Shinnar wrote:
> :                                         We actually do care (and most
> : rishonim and achronim did care) about what actually was the historical
> : reality - the true commitment is to mesorah and torah misinai. One of
> : the reasons that halacha kevatrai is precisely because we hold that the
> : batrai were aware of the opinions of the kadmai...

> Which is different than saying that since we can dig up an olive pit or
> in another way deduce the size of chazal's olives, we should overturn
> the well-accepted but historically counter-factual opinions of what a
> kezayis means.

No - there is no significant difference - if we can truly determine
the size of hazal's olives - it becomes a data point for the halachic
process -which then has to justify why the switch.

You are viewing "mesora" as not about objective truth - but only a
tradition about the truth whose value is independent of whether it is
true or not. Almost every rishon and pre 19th century acharon would have
found that position incomprehensible, if not kefira
(The ramban was happy to use external realia for halachic shiurim...)

> You're referring to how well basrai know mesorah, not how well we know
> external historial fact. My use of the word "historical" was ill advised,
> as you're taking it more broadly than intended. OTOH, it was in a post
> about my own approach to resolving questions of mesorah vs *external*
> data.

> FWIW, though, even WRT knowing the historical mesorah, we do let things
> evolve. We care more about how the gemara understood the mishnah than
> W-t theories about what the tanna must have been referring to. And how
> rishonim understood that gemara, etc... And then there is the question of
> whether the (unquoted parts of the) Me'iri has the same halachic gravitas
> as rishonim whose texts were not lost, and thus had more impact on the
> development of the din.

The issue of whether the Gemara reflects original intent of the Mishnah
is an old debate - but at least we have accepted the authority of the
Gemara independently of the Mishnah. There is no such clear acceptance of
rishonim/acharonim when there is objective evidence that they were wrong.

Wrt Meiri - does anyone have major sources before rise of wissenschaft/
Reform that argue a la Hazon ish?

There is a story that I heard attributed to the Aruch Laner, living
at the beginning of Reform & wissenschaft, telling someone thinking of
learning wissenschaft, that if he wanted to learn w hat rashi wore, he
should learn wissenschaft, but if he wanted to learn what rashi thought,
he should learn with him.

RMB's position is no longer interested in what rashi thought - but what
other rishonim and achronim thought he thought.....

> ...
> : Let me offer one counterexample. THe rambam famously understands that
> : every time a malach is mentioned in a story, that story did not occur
> : literally, but within a prophetic vision. This of course implies
> : that the whole beginning of vayera and also sedom occur not literally
> : - as the ramban is quick to point out and criticicze It also implies
> : (as some classic commentaries did) that the akeda was also in a vision.

> The Abarbanel understands the Rambam as saying that the story did occur
> literally, thus answering the Ramban's complaint in the beginning of
> Vayeira. However, it literally happened involving prophetic vision rather
> than physical vision...

> To the Rambam, nevu'ah is a vision of things really going on but
> metaphysically, among sikhliim nivdalim.

> To the Ramban, a nevu'ah is a communication from G-d wrapped in symbols.

> But noting that the Rambam didn't consider this to be allegorical
> is off-topic. I'm not discussing when it's okay to decide a story is
> non-literal, but when it's okay to invent new shitos that contradict
> the old ones. What I am saying would be just as true about insisting
> something literally happened when chazal say it's a pure allegory.
> The Rambam felt obligated to show that his opinion was not a chiddush
> supported only by philosophy, but was rooted in mesorah. Whether or
> not we find the Rambam's understanding of R' Chiya compelling, clearly
> the Rambam himself would disagree that his understanding of angels
> and nevu'ah demonstrated a willingness to contradict mesorah when it
> conflicts with philosophy.

> The Rambam felt conflicts of the sort you're positing -- where a sound
> philosophical conclusion contradicts the mesorah -- are impossible.
> Rather than advocating reinterpreting the mesorah to fit reason,
> I would think he would tell us to wait until we can figure out which
> we misunderstood. We will find that we made an error in the data, the
> logic or understanding the existing TSBP. Not that the impossible
> happened and now we have to question the Torah we received.

> The bottom line is that I'm uncomfortable with an epistomology that
> puts mesorah as less of a justification of knowledge than science.

Ward, I think RMB misunderstands the rambam - the issue is not merely
whether Malachim can be physically seen - - but that Prophetic visions do
not occur with the recipient awake (except for Moshe rabbenu).- therefore,
all the stories with Malachim aren't merely occuring in reality with
invisible players - but are not occuring in physical reality....if the
story is of a malach talking with Avraham during an episode - Avraham
is not awake during that time....

This leads to a radical reinterpretation of much of tanach

Yes, the rambam felt real conflicts are impossible - but the mechanism
of allegory was how to address the issue. No -he did not need explicit
authority within the mesora for reinterpretation - he is explicit about
that in ma'amar techiyat hametim. Yes, there are limits - but they are
not your limits..

Meir Shinnar

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Lisa Liel <lisa.l...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2012 22:07:13 -0600
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe

On 12/6/2012 5:12 AM, Micha Berger wrote:
> Which is different than saying that since we can dig up an olive pit or
> in another way deduce the size of chazal's olives, we should overturn
> the well-accepted but historically counter-factual opinions of what a
> kezayis means.
We absolutely should.  Rulings based on a lack of knowledge should be 
overturned in the face of the knowledge that was missing.  Otherwise, we 
turn Judaism into an irrational religion.


Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 06:24:57 -0500
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe

On Sat, Dec 08, 2012 at 10:07:13PM -0600, Lisa Liel wrote:
> On 12/6/2012 5:12 AM, Micha Berger wrote:
>> Which is different than saying that since we can dig up an olive pit or
>> in another way deduce the size of chazal's olives, we should overturn
>> the well-accepted but historically counter-factual opinions of what a
>> kezayis means.

> We absolutely should.  Rulings based on a lack of knowledge should be  
> overturned in the face of the knowledge that was missing.  Otherwise, we  
> turn Judaism into an irrational religion.

The question is defining what's "rational" WRT law. Does the fact that the
law was originally tied to an empirical fact mean that we are supposed
to keep it tied to that fact? Or does the fact that it's law mean that
it is supposed to evolve as the culture and psyche of the people it
governs evolve?

I would say that defining the kezayis as 6cc could be appropriate or
not depending on the motive. If you're doing so in order to turn a
legal process into a science, that's what I would call irrational. If
you're doing so within a legal process, to hold like R' Chaim Volozhiner,
then even if you're using the science as support to his shitah, I could
understand how it fits what halakhah actually is.

In contrast, our original topic was aggadic. Were there homo sapiens
capable of science and religion in 14,000 - 11,000 years ago? Here, simply
saying that we're following a legal process doesn't work -- it's not a
legal question. Instead, if I could find a Torah-derived justification
for such an assertion, I am left with a question I cannot answer.

But, like in my GPS mashal, I can sleep at night confident that some
answer does exist. Neither part of my worldview could be that far
off if science continues to work so well explaining observation and
providing grist for engineers and if the Torah continues to produce a
community that does on a regular day what newspapers report as heroic
level post-Sandy generosity.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
mi...@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: martin brody <martinlbr...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 19:25:20 -0800
[Avodah] Pat Robertson

I don't usually listen to what he has to say, but this is an important
statement for Jewish fundamentalists.

"If you fight revealed science, you are going to lose your children"

As the Rambam said, accept the truth from wherever the source.

Martin Brody
310 474 1856
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 12
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 22:52:40 -0500
[Avodah] G'neivas Daas?

I read an article recently about photography (my hobby, hence my interest)
in which a photographer was described as setting up a dozen lights for his
studio shots. The client would be very impressed and would leave feeling
that he was getting his money's worth - with that many lights the
photographer must really know what he's doing. The trick was, that the
photographer would set one or two lights to illuminate the subject while the
picture was taken, and the other ten lights to flash a fraction of a moment
later. The eye can't tell the difference, so it looked like he used all the
lights for the same shot, but in actuality most of the lights were there
just for show. 

So, here's the question - is this G'neivas Daas? On the one hand, he's
making himself look really good through this artifice - on the other, his
pictures are the ultimate judge of his skill. If they came out in such a way
that his client is happy, is it a problem that he made himself look good
like this?

A similar situation: A computer tech I know used to do tune-ups for
computers. He was an honest fellow, and did what he said he would. But he
would write on the invoice - as one of the line items - "checked for 35,000
viruses." (This was back in the day when there were only 35,000 viruses.)
That meant that he ran a virus check on the computer. So, yes, he did check
for 35,000 viruses, but the way he wrote it made it sound a lot more
impressive than it was.

Last for this post: A frum cosmetologist used to advertise her services in
the town I used to live in. She had a typical Jewish last name, starting
with "le". So, after being in business for years, she started advertising
her name like this: LeVovitz. (It wasn't Levovitz - I don't want to post her
name in public. It was a different name and it was a lot less
cringe-inducing than LeVovitz. :-)  ) She was obviously going for the French
look, making herself look exotic and so on. What do you think? G'neivas




-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 30, Issue 168

Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

< Previous Next >