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Volume 30: Number 175

Wed, 19 Dec 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 16:04:47 -0500
[Avodah] Nietzsche on Science and Religion

Yeah, Nietzsche. I'm surprised too. Anyway, here's the quote:

    Would it not be quite probable, conversely, that precisely the
    most superficial and external aspect of existence -- what is most
    apparent; its skin and its sensualization -- would be grasped first
    and might even be the only thing that let itself be grasped? Thus,
    a 'scientific' interpretation of the world, as you understand it,
    might still be one of the /stupidest/ of all possible interpretations
    of the world, i.e. one of those most lacking in significance. This to
    the ear and conscience of Mr Mechanic, who nowadays likes to pass as
    a philosopher and insists that mechanics is the doctrine of the first
    and final laws on which existence may be built, as on a ground floor.

    Suppose one judged the /value/ of a piece of music according to how
    much of it could be counted, calculated, and expressed in formulas
    -- how absurd such a 'scientific' evaluation of music would be! What
    would one have comprehended, understood, recognized! Nothing, really
    nothing of what is 'music' in it!

                        - Friedrich Nietche: The Gay Science 373

(BTW, I hear echoes of Adam I vs Adam II in Nietzsche's Mr Mechanic vs
the philosopher he thinks he is.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Live as if you were living already for the
mi...@aishdas.org        second time and as if you had acted the first
http://www.aishdas.org   time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - Victor Frankl, Man's search for Meaning

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:27:56 -0500
Re: [Avodah] isha ra'a

On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 08:22:47PM +0000, Elazar M. Teitz wrote:
: Searching for "isha ra'a" in Talmud, using Ma'agar Sifrus haKodesh,
: turned up twelve occurrences....             Interestingly, the
: occurrence which prompted the discussion is _not_ cited...

Does the search engine usually know to match words with prefixes? MBDR
said "umei'ishah ra'ah" -- perhaps the "umei-" tripped up the search

In either case, if I accept that "ishah ra'ah" is an idiom, then MBDR
would have to be referring to being saved from a bad wife, as REMT proves
pretty conclusively. I'm not sure I do assume it's idiomatic, because we
also have "umei'adam ra" (as RnTK pointed out) *AND* (as I pointed out)
we have all indications that MBDR was happily married and the goodness
of his wife was a known entity.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's nice to be smart,
mi...@aishdas.org        but it's smarter to be nice.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - R' Lazer Brody
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:50:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Kabbala at Odds with Torah

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 09:42:57AM -0500, Prof. Levine wrote:
: From: <mgis...@nydesign.com>
:> Today's Judaism ignores God's words, and instead, favors 
:> incomprehensible and heretical notions found in man-made works like 
:> Kabbala, Tanya, Breslov and other works that assume an identity 
:> similar to Christian doctrines. When the priority of God's words is 
:> rejected, this is no longer Judaism.
:> A reliable resource to assist in this need:  <http://www.mesora.org/>

:> Rabbi Marshall Gisser

: I cannot agree more with what Rabbi Gisser wrote about this topic.

How can we say that Qabbalah is "incomprehensible and heretical"
when we all rely on the work of Maran Bet Yosef? Are we to exclude both
Chassidus as well as the Gra and RCVolozhiner from the mesorah? The Ari,
the Maharal and the Ramchal?

: IMO, this phenomenon is a result of what I term "The New Religion."
: The New Religion contains large doses of things that our forefathers
: never knew anything about and were never concerned with...

So you don't say Barukh sheAmar and Yishtabach, because they apparently
post-date shas? Do you not wash your hands in specific patterns for
neigl vasr and before hamotzi? What about Qabbalas Shabbos?

There is a shift to segula'ism, to greater use of yahadus as a means
to other things, thereby distorting it beyond recognition. So there
is something out there I would agree is "new religion". I don't think,
though, this is it.

And I presume from previous posts that if you saw Mesora.org, you would
not agree with his recommendation. As I wrote last July on Areivim, R'
Moshe ben Chaim (the primary voice on mesora.org) et al are talmidim of
RIChait, and promote a view in which only textual mesorah has validity,
and accepted practice is not given any weight in pesaq.

I don't think you would support the idea that we should follow the
Bavli or the Rambam over the Maharil and Minhag Ashkenaz. It's a very
different view of mesorah than RSRH's.

Also note R' Dayan Grunfeld's intro to Horeb, in which he has a short
section about how RSRH's symbols are in fact taken from his knowledge
of Qabbalah.

I once wrote an email to Cantor Wolberg listing my misgivings with RYC's
hashkafah. This might be the right place to share that list:

1- To RYC, *halakhah* comes from books. The fact that no one does things
the way he reads the book wouldn't stop him. No notion of following a
textually weaker opinion because of the authority of common practice.

2- RYC loves the Rambam, who is the only *rishon* who can be read as
agreeing with #1. (Or not; I can see his intro to the Yad either way.) The
fact that RYC embraced Brisker *derekh *(as has most of the yeshiva world
from YU to the Mir) gives a central position to Rambam means that his
textual approach to *halakhah* does as well. Although it would be an
overstatement to say that RYC is a Darda'i who *always* holds like the

3- He also has a Maimonidian philosophy, in which the ideal Jew is one who
has the most accurate and complete philosophical knowledge of G-d -- or at
least, of How the universe runs under His guidance and of what He isn't.
(Knowledge of what G-d is isn't really possible. Rather than the more
common answers among today's Jews (including O Jews) involving ethical
perfection and/or having a relationship *with* G-d.

I had a discussion with RMBC when he wrote an article in Jewish Times
(an e-zine on Mesora.org) attacking my blog post in which I dismiss the
"Kuzari Proof". He can't handle the notion of belief based on something
other than philosophical proof. It took a while for him to realize that
I wasn't dismissing the notion that belief requires a basis, not a leap
of faith. He was so sure that there is only one way to justify belief,
it took a couple of weeks of discussion before I could get him to see
that the Kuzari actually is telling you to rely on something else. As
does Kant, and most philosophers -- secular, Jewish, and Orthodox Jewish
thinkers in particular -- since his "Copernican Revolution".

4- And thus rejects Qabbalah, and condemns any group that utilizes
Qabbalah or any practice based in it. Red strings are idolatrous,
*kaparos* with a chicken is offering a sacrifice outside the *Beis
haMiqdash* (which the SA happens to agree to) and Chassidim are off the
path. Because *minhag* has no halachic weight in RYC's world, the fact
that most Jews have done *kaparos* for centuries, or that Chassidim
have made *shlisl challos* the Shabbos after Pesach since the 1700s
doesn't factor in to that assessment. (I would call that "peer review"
and demand a lot of proof before assuming I was right and they're wrong.)

5- Because RYC's Judaism is about Aristotelian Truth (rather than paths
to the goal Hashem set before us) there is only one right pesaq.

(I should be clear, though, that I sent my eldest son to a HS run by
a talmid of RYC on the grounds that I'm happier with a school that is
firmly founded on a hashkafah I personally am uncomfortable with than
one that doesn't impart an idealism altogether.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Rescue me from the desire to win every
mi...@aishdas.org        argument and to always be right.
http://www.aishdas.org              - Rav Nassan of Breslav
Fax: (270) 514-1507                   Likutei Tefilos 94:964

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Message: 4
From: Meir Shinnar <chide...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 19:53:45 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Mesorah

> WADR, I fin
WADR, I find that RZL;s position has far more to do with current haredi
sensibilities than with the rambam (one remembers the rambam's parable of
the palace and the role of talmudic scholars)

I will agree in one thing. the rambam did think hazal agreed with his
philosophical approach - but he is explicit that there isn't specific
grounds for every issue that he takes.
RZL deals with one of my quotes, about not having a tradition - let me deal
with another

And our efforts our to gather between the torah and the reasonable,
and will manage all things according to a possible natural order,
except what is specifically explained that it is a miracle (mofet)
and it is impossible to explain it otherwise, then we will need to say
that it is a miracle

One could argue that this is based on a ma'amar hazal - olam keminhago
noheg - but  what is quite clear that this priniciple is extended in
dealing with any issue of a miracle  - one does one's best to explain it
away - unless there is such a clear and irrevocable tradition that it is
literal (not merely a lack of a tradition of allegory).  (the case of the
mabul would clearly be here - with the question of what is meant by
specifically explained and impossible to explain it otherwise, as the mabul
seems to violate olam keminhago noheg...).) )

I would go further - RMB has posited that the rambam viewed it impossible
that reason and torah should clearly conflict - which I would agree with.
 He would also probably bring a ma'amar hazal to support this. The question
of how to reconcile problems - and this is done by allegory....

Some examples can't be reinterpreted - ma'amar techiyat hametim was
composed because the rambam was attacked that he did not believe in
physical techiyat hametim, as it made little sense in his valuatio of the
body - and he responded that this one such example - where clearly hazal
were clearly insistent on physical techiyat hametim, and could not be

WRT RZL's challenge, one doesn't say hazal were wrong - and one may even
believe that one has uncovered the esoteric meaning of hazal. However, the
reason to look for the esoteric meaning, rather than what everyone else
understands, lies in new information that mandates a reinterpretation.

If you want one rishon that practices this - look at Shmuel Ibn Tibbon,
translator of the rambam, whom the rambam valued - and his *Ma'amar Yikkawu
ha-Mayim - *reinterpreting parshat breshit according to Aristotle's On

Meir Shinnar
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Message: 5
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 06:01:38 -0500
[Avodah] RSRH on Anti-Semitism

The following is from Mordechai Breuer's article about the life of 
RSRH which may be read at

Raphael Hirsch (1808 - 1888) by Mordechai Breuer

\Vhen no one in Germany as yet dreamt of the possibility of
the growing power of anti-Semitism, Rabbi Hirsch once remarked
in a conversation : ''Just as mischievous children are pulled by
the ears, so will they deal with us. The Jews are the schoolbooks
of the nations, a disorderly pupil tears them. And they
point to the high level of Gentile culture!"

Yitzchok Levine 
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Message: 6
From: "Akiva Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 16:39:58 GMT
[Avodah] Lashon Hara about poskim

In the thread "kashrut of kingklip", R' Eli Turkel wrote:

> Most gedolim don't have the means to search out and understand the facts. So they
> rely on someone who is feeding them information and that person frequently has
> his own agenda.
> ... most poskim did not have access to top experts in each field. I always
> remember some major posek discussing electricity and starting off that he
> consulted some engineer in his shul to find out what electricity is. .. if one
> does want to know something about it then issuing an important psak based on the
> local technician is worthless.
> It is well known that a chain is as strong as it weakest link. Going to a major
> gadol who uses a second level knowledge of facts isnt worth very much.

I have heard such comments before, and I've long wondered whether such
comments are muttar or not. First, the accusations are of such as general
nature that they besmirch all poskim across the board, and I can't imagine
that to be okay.

But even if one would be speaking about a specific case, who are we to say
that our expert is better than the posek's expert? Isn't such a comment
lashon hara against the posek's judgment of who to rely on? If a posek
says, "My psak is such-and-such, based on the expert explanation I got from
Professor So-and-so", doesn't that -- in and of itself -- constitute a psak
that Professor So-and-so is sufficiently reliable for the matter at hand?

If a person - for whatever reason - distrusts the posek's expert, and
chooses to follow a different psak, then that's a different matter. My
argument is when he publicly accuses the posek of choosing an unreliable

(As an aside, to those who are sincerely worried that their posek has not
investigated the matter well enough: We have said before on these pages
that halacha is not about being right or wrong - it's about following
proper halachic procedure.)

Akiva Miller

Woman is 53 But Looks 25
Mom reveals 1 simple wrinkle trick that has angered doctors...

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Message: 7
From: saul newman <saulnewma...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 08:47:03 -0800
[Avodah] what issur holds?


one  could imagine [at least in other countries  ] haredi women ,
besides all the other professions they are involved in,  as political
figures----  mayors  , senators  etc .
clearly in israel,   dati and i believe  haredi women  have served  at
least as  candidates in other parties.

one could  certainly imagine  a haredi party where women could be on
the list.but  it would seem that the political culture of  UTJ and
Shas could not manage this .  presumably  their
daas tora  forbids this.
the poster wonders based on what sin.

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Message: 8
From: h Lampel <zvilam...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 14:57:38 -0500
Re: [Avodah] ISHA RA'A

Cantor Wolberg asked:
>> >... in the Sotah ordeal. The woman has to drink the
>> >potion, etc. What if the woman suspects her husband of
>> >infidelity? Why should he also have to drink and have the same
>> >consequences as the woman?
Just a note that the Mishna (Sotah 5:1) says that when the woman does 
drink the water, if there was indeed an illicit relationship, the belly 
of the man involved bursts as well. (See also Rashi on Melachim I, 8:31, 
Divrei HaYamim II, 6:23).

Zvi Lampel

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Message: 9
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 15:28:13 -0500
Re: [Avodah] ISHA RA'A

On 18/12/2012 2:57 PM, h Lampel wrote:
> Just a note that the Mishna (Sotah 5:1) says that when the woman does
> drink the water, if there was indeed an illicit relationship, the
> belly of the man involved bursts as well. (See also Rashi on Melachim
> I, 8:31, Divrei HaYamim II, 6:23).

That's the lover, not the husband.  Though if the husband is also
guilty of adultery (i.e. with a married woman) then the water won't
work on the wife.

Zev Sero        "Natural resources are not finite in any meaningful
z...@sero.name    economic sense, mind-boggling though this assertion
                  may be. The stocks of them are not fixed but rather
                 are expanding through human ingenuity."
                                            - Julian Simon

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 16:08:51 -0500
Re: [Avodah] ISHA RA'A

On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 03:28:13PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
> That's the lover, not the husband.  Though if the husband is also
> guilty of adultery (i.e. with a married woman) then the water won't
> work on the wife.

Which is why R' Yochanan ben Zakai retired mitzvas sotah altogether.
Too many guilty wives were getting off the hook.

According to the Y-mi (Sotah 1:3 5a) if the husband continues being
intimate between setirah and getting to the BHMQ, she does not drink. And
if she does (eg no one tells the kohein) the husband is also punished
by the mei sotah -- "al kol bi'ah ubi'ah".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Man is equipped with such far-reaching vision,
mi...@aishdas.org        yet the smallest coin can obstruct his view.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 11
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:04:32 -0500
Re: [Avodah] ISHA RA'A

Getting back to Mar Breih Deravina, you seem to assume that from the
fact that we don't find many instances of polygyny among Chazal,
that they had something against it, and once MBDR had a good wife he
should no longer have needed protection from marrying a bad one.
I'd like to challenge that assumption.  That most men in polygynous
societies have only one wife is common; but the reason is usually
lack of inclination or lack of means, not a principled objection.
I see no reason to believe that *any* of Chazal dismissed on principle
the possibility of their taking a second wife, no matter how happy
they were with their current wives.  It seems to me that it would
always have been a possibility in their minds, if the right woman
should ever come along, together with a source of funding for her
support.  For most of them it just never happened, but it would make
sense for MBDR to keep praying that he be protected from marrying a
bad second wife, should he ever do so.

Zev Sero        "Natural resources are not finite in any meaningful
z...@sero.name    economic sense, mind-boggling though this assertion
                  may be. The stocks of them are not fixed but rather
                 are expanding through human ingenuity."
                                            - Julian Simon

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Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 06:27:04 -0500
[Avodah] German Rite Nusach Ashkenaz siddur-- compiled by

The following was sent to me by Rabbi Dr. Doniel Kramer.  I have put 
the siddur at


Rabbi Rallis Wiesenthal

Email: <mailto:rall...@aol.com>rall...@aol.com

Shalom Lichvod HoRav N"Y,

This will be, G-d willing, the last time you will receive this siddur 
before it is published!

Any assistance towards publication would be most helpful!

(I look forward to that occurring within a short amount of time!)

I look forward to your comments, suggestions, and improvements!

[I understand after sending the siddur to a number of people, that 
there are some Hebrew grammatical errors. If any of you are well 
versed in Hebrew grammar, I would most appreciate your assistance, 
even if only would entail running the siddur through Hebrew Word.]

For the past fourteen years, I have been laboring on the holy task of 
preparing a German Rite Nusach Ashkenaz siddur. Recently completed 
with help from Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz and K'hal Adas 
Yeshurun-Jerusalem (KAYJ)

It started as a project to be compile a siddur that I could daven 
from. Living in Chicago, most of the siddurim which are available are 
Artscroll, Birnbaum, etc. Just to try and find a Rodelheim, or Baer's 
Avodas Yisroel was nearly impossible. That was about fourteen years ago.

Along the way, I compiled many versions of my siddur. What improved 
the siddur immensely was finding out about a remarkable gentleman, 
HoRav Binyamin Shlomo Hamburger Shlito, the head of Machon Moreshes 
Ashkenaz. Numerous conversations and notes from his website 
<http://moreshesashkenaz.org>moreshesashkenaz.org helped form most of 
the minhag and halachic directions in the siddur. [The sections of 
the siddur which are labeled "Machon Moreshet Ashkenaz" are taken 
directly from the website. HoRav Hamburger allowed me to use them, so 
long as I labeled them that way.]

The final piece of the puzzle, are the notes on the numerous sections 
of the text which I compiled and edited from the website of KAYJ.net. 
It's forum contains Halocho and Minhogim sections where I and others 
pose questions which are mostly answered by HoRav Hamburger himself.

I purchased 3 machzorim on the Ebay. One Yamim Nouroim Machzor [1720] 
from Bad Homburg (my father's hometown), two machzorim [1722]; a 
Yamim Nouroim & Sholoush Regolim from Bad Homburg and a Yamim Nouroim 
& Sholoush Regolim from Frankfurt Am Main.

I noticed as well that a number of old siddurim included Taamei 
HaMikroh for whole sections of Tanach and so I have included taamim 
for all Pesukei Tanach and where they originate from, as well in the siddur.
I have forwarded Pdf copies of my siddur to a number of people all 
over the world. The most frequently asked question is, "When will 
your siddur be published?".

There are a number of people, who believe that within 10 years or so, 
the nusach of this siddur, will replace the versions of Nusach 
Ashkenaz (which in reality is Nusach Lita) presently on the market. 
If one asks leading rabbonim, they will tell you that numerous 
changes and mistakes have crept into the text.

One example: the twelfth brocho of the weekday Amidoh, in most 
siddurim is  begins with "V'Lamalshinim". We know that Shmuel HaKoton 
who composed the brocho, wrote "LaMehshumodim" instead. The text was 
changed in order to spare Jews from governmental punishment. Does 
anyone believe that nowadays the text must still be "V'Lamalshinim" 
to spare Jews from being arrested or worse? Of course not!

I have attempted to replicate, to the best of my ability, the nusach 
going back to the period of the Rishonim.

As far as those who say, "Why should I care I'm not a German Jew?". 
As HoRav Hamburger says, "If you are from Europe and you label 
yourself and Ashkenazi, far enough back, you are a German Jew!".

I look forward to your reply!

Rallis Wiesenthal

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Message: 13
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 08:58:52 -0500
[Avodah] The Open Siddur Project

R. Micha Berger brought to my attention a web site dealing with

A Nusach Ashkenaz (German Rite) Siddur compiled by R' Rallis 
Wiesenthal  where the siddur I put in pdf format on my web site is 
available as well as other information about this project.  See 

This web site has a link to Tefillos L'layl Shabbos. The link is

or http://tinyurl.com/bq2c9ng

There are also other links to various siddurim and tefilos.

[As well as heterodox prayers. Caveat lector. -micha]



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