Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 27

Tue, 19 Feb 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 12:31:53 -0500
[Avodah] Persian history

At 10:37 AM 2/18/2013, R. Eli Turkel wrote:

>As we approach Purim I again review some of the difficulties with the
>traditional history of the Persia as given by chazal
>  According to Chazal there were 4 Persian kings
>1) Darius the Mede
>2) Cyrus
>3) Achasverosh
>4) Daryavosh (conquered by Alexander the great)
>Darius the Mede & Cyrus - 5 years
>Achashverosh 14 years
>Daryavosh 35 years
>total 54 years
>70 years aftyer Chruban Bayit Rishon came in 2nd year of Daryavosh
>Jews ruled by Persian for another 34 years afterwards


See Rav Shimon Schwab's article Comparative Jewish Chronology at 
that deals with these issues.

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Message: 2
From: Moshe Zeldman <mzeld...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 17:53:48 +0200
Re: [Avodah] A question for the chevre

I appreciate all the feedback, especially Chana's point about gemara that
deem certain mitzvos as 'keneged kulam'. Having given it some more
thought, I think that what the Rav was getting at was a jab at a certain
hippy approach to Torah-- that the ikar is what you feel, not the
technicalities of what you do.
I think the Nefesh haChaim in the perakim is dealing with a not dissimilar
issue. He attacks the chasidim of his day who give too much weight to
kavana in mitzvos, and not enough weight to the halachic parameters. He
mocks the Jew who, by taking so much time to build up a good kavana in
Kriyas Shema, misses zman kriyas shema. The Nefesh haChaim's proof is the
halacha that if a person says the words of shemoneh esrei without kavana
(after the first bracha), b'dieved they're yotzei. But if they have kavana
but don't actually enunciate the words at all, they're not yotzei. My kasha
on the Nefesh haChaim is that by the mitzva of Kriyas Shema, I believe it's
the opposite. If a person can't say the words (he physically can't talk, or
he's in a dirty place), he's bedieved yotzai by thinking the words. On the
other hand, if he says the words with no kavana whatsoever, he's NOT yotzei.
Am I missing something? Is this a good counterpoint for the "feeling vs
doing" question?
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Message: 3
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 17:56:27 +0200
Re: [Avodah] A question for the Chevre

That there is something called Shabbat.


On 2/18/2013 11:42 AM, Chana Luntz wrote:
> So what have you achieved by teaching him about taking bones out of fish?

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Message: 4
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:13:58 -0500
Re: [Avodah] partnership minyanim


<<Yet there has, to the best of my knowledge and research, not been any 
formal attempt to discuss in writing whether these practices are or are 
not Halakhic. In effect, Halakhah has been the silent partner in the 
development of Partnership Minyanim.>>

I don't subscribe to Areivim, and maybe this has been said there, but to 
my mind halachic responses to partnership minyanim miss the point.  
Partnership minyanim are a watered down version of the critique of 
orthodoxy that goes back to the egalitarian movement: in a world in 
which men and women are treated the same in so many other domains, why 
does Judaism not assign equal status to women? And that is a moral 
critique, not a legal critique.

I think moral critiques deserve moral responses.  And I think this 
particular moral response has to start with a fundamental theological 
question: why do we have two sexes? Why didn't God avoid the issue by 
creating (treating and creating are only one letter apart) men and women 
the same?

David Riceman

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Message: 5
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 13:25:13 -0600
Re: [Avodah] partnership minyanim

On 2/18/2013 8:18 AM, Chana Luntz wrote:
> But the real problem with Rabbi Freudel's analysis is, as I have mentioned,
> that in his zeal to write partnership minyanim out of Orthodoxy, appears to
> be doing a good job to write the Sephardi Community wholesale out of
> Orthodoxy.

With all due respect to RnCL, the context of today differs from the
context of the Bach and the Mechaber. I don't think that either of them
would agree with allowing practices such as partnership minyanim at a time
when there are large movements such as the Conservative and Reform which
present a "Judaism" so wholly at odds with what we consider to be Judaism.

I'd go further than that, and say that if the Conservative and Reform
movements made it a regular practice to allow ketanim to be shaliach
tzibbur for chazarat hashatz, and if there were what amounts to a
kulturkampf regarding the question of whether discrimination on the basis
of adulthood or lack thereof is legitimate in Judaism, Rav Ovadiah would
almost certainly be much more machmir about it.

I don't think it's possible to compare a context where Judaism is under
attack on a given front to one in which it is not.

It's related that the late Yeshayahu Leibowitz used to spend Purim in
Jerusalem and then spend Shushan Purim in Tel Aviv or elsewhere, for the
explicit purpose of eliminating his chiyuv of observing Purim -- within
the dalet amot of halakha. I suggest that there is more than the dalet
amot of halakha to be considered in the case of partnership minyanim.


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Message: 6
From: Lisa Liel <lisa.liel@ gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 12:29:16 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Persian history

On 2/18/2013 11:31 AM, Prof. Levine wrote:
> See Rav Shimon Schwab's article Comparative Jewish Chronology at 
> http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/comparative_jew
> ish_chronology.pdf 
> that deals with these issues.

But please note that when he saw that people were taking his thought 
experiment as an actual statement of what happened, he retracted it 
entirely.  Posting this essay without including the retraction is a 
misrepresentation of Rav Schwab's views, and is, in my opinion, in poor 


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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:52:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Persian history

At 01:29 PM 2/18/2013, Lisa Liel wrote:
> But please note that when he saw that people were taking his thought 
> experiment as an actual statement of what happened, he retracted it 
> entirely.

With all due respect, please read the entire piece, especially the
end part pages 284 - 285. The article I posted is not the same as the
article that appeared in the

Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Jubilee Volume published in 1962. The article
I posted is a revision of this article that appeared in 1990.

I am not misrepresenting Rav Schwab's views, whom I had the pleasure of
knowing. He once a "real" rov and there are few if any like him today.


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Message: 8
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 12:27:00 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Persian history

I hope no one minds if I take this piece by piece.

On 2/18/2013 7:50 AM, Eli Turkel wrote:
> As we approach Purim I again review some of the difficulties with the
> traditional history of the Persia as given by chazal

>  According to Chazal there were 4 Persian kings
> 1) Darius the Mede
> 2) Cyrus
> 3) Achasverosh
> 4) Daryavosh (conquered by Alexander the great)

This isn't precisely correct. Darius the Mede was not a Persian king,
even according to Chazal. He was a Median king. I say this not to pick
nits, but because it matters. Chazal also say that Achashverosh was
his son, and that he only became king of Persia as well by killing Cyrus.

> Darius the Mede & Cyrus - 5 years
> Achashverosh 14 years
> Daryavosh 35 years
> total 54 years

Again, this is a little inaccurate. These years start with the fall
of Babylon. I don't think anyone argues that Darius the Mede and
Cyrus weren't around prior to that fall, since they were the ones who
implemented it. So Chazal actually don't say much about how long Darius
and Cyrus reigned. The only information even somewhat relating to it is
the idea that Darius, who was about 62 years old at the fall of Babylon,
was born when Nebuchadnezzar exiled Jehoiachin. If you need a source
for that, I'll have to look it up, but it's one of the midrashim.

> 70 years aftyer Chruban Bayit Rishon came in 2nd year of Daryavosh
> Jews ruled by Persian for another 34 years afterwards

> Difficulties
> 1) Darius the Mede doesnt appear in any other record - perhaps because his
> rule was under 1 year

Or because the Greeks, who are the source of the conventional history
of those times, didn't distinguish between Medes and Persians, and
thereby got confused. At the time, "medism" was the term they used
for the introduction of too much Medo-Persian culture into Greece.
People got accused of it the way people were accused of Judaizing during
the Inquisition.

The picture Chazal paint is of parallel, intermarried royal lines
of Medes and Persians, that had some kind of "rotation agreement".
Cyrus was clearly a stronger king than Darius the Mede, but Chazal
say Cyrus deferred to him as his liege and father-in-law. They also
say that Darius was the son of Ahasuerus the Mede, who is mentioned in
Daniel 9:1. Which is interesting, because according to the Behistun
Inscription of Darius I, son of Hystaspes, Cyrus's father and son were
both named Cambyses, and Cyrus's grandfather was also named Cyrus. So the
alternating names of the Persian kings -- which all historians accept --
match the alternating names of the Median kings according to Chazal.
Ein raaya l'davar, aval yesh zecher l'davar.

> 2) According to secular history Cyrus ruled for approximately  30 years
> (various versions whether he dies in battle or peacefully) after conquring
> many lands and building cities

Yes and no. Herodotus, who is sometimes called the "Father of History",
records that he heard 4 different stories of the origins and life
of Cyrus, and that he only included the one that he considered most
plausible. Xenophon, on the other hand, records the story of two sons of
a king Darius: Cyrus and Artaxerxes. When Darius died, these sons fought
against each other for 3 years, and eventually Artaxerxes overcame Cyrus's
forces and killed him. Yossipon writes that when Darius the Mede died,
Cyrus took the throne of the Medo-Persian coalition, and that Ahasuerus,
his brother-in-law, Darius's son, rebelled and killed him after 3 years
of fighting. That's why Ahasuerus only sat on his royal throne in
Shushan in his third year. Shushan had been the royal city of Persia
since before Babylon fell.

Yes, historians call the Cyrus in Xenophon's account "Cyrus the Younger",
and portray him as a different person, but we don't know that Xenophon's
account wasn't one of the ones Herodotus didn't choose for his history.
And yes, it's possible that the author of Yossipon had read Xenophon,
but we don't know one way or the other.

> Next is Camysis (Rashi quotes from Yossipon about Canbysis)

> 3) after the death of Camysis there was a brother (real or pretender not
> clear) who was defeated by Darius I. Hence, Achasverosh could not be
> between Cyrus and Daryavosh.

There was certainly no Ahasuerus the Persian between them. But remember
who writes the histories. Even now, not all historians accept Darius's
account that Cambyses brother Bardiya was really an imposter whom
Darius killed, avenging his 3rd cousin Cambyses and rescuing the throne
from an usurper. There are many who see this as posturing, and think
that Darius actually *did* kill Bardiya, and was himself an usurper.
There's no way to know after all this time.

> Darius left many documents including large descriptions on walls giving his
> accomplishments (eg Mount Bisitun) the inscriptions on the face of the
> cliff is given in 3 languages. Darius also expanded the city of Susa
> (Shushan)

True.  I don't think any of that is problematic.

> It appears that the Persians had several capitals (in addition to Susa was
> Babylonia and especially Persepolis. The assumption is that Susa was the
> winter palace as it is extremely hot in the summer.


> 4) The next king was Xerxes (Greek name) whose Persian name is somewhat
> similar to Achashverosh (Chasiarsh) . In addition to many wars he also
> expnded the cities of Susa and Persepolis. He also is mentioned in many
> documents as the son of Darius

It isn't somewhat similar. The original Old Persian is Khshay-arsha.
I don't think there are any linguists who doubt that this name is
the original both of the Hebrew Achashveirosh and the Greek Xerxes.
And it's true that Darius had a son named Khshay-arsha. It's equally
true that there was a king by that name who campaigned through Anatolia
and engaged in war with the Ionian Greeks. It doesn't necessarily follow
that they are the same person. There is reason enough to think that the
Ahasuerus who warred with the Greeks was the father of Darius the Mede,
and that the minor king by that name who reigned after his father Darius
(the Persian) never did anything but dedicate some buildings.

> King Xerxes Proclaims: My father was Darius whose father was Hystapses etc.
> see inscription at Hamadan

> 5) Xerxes was murdered and was succeeded by his son Artaxeres. There is a
> bowl in the British museum with the inscription

> Artaxerses the great king, king of kings. king of countries, son of Xerxes
> the king who was the son of Darius the king the Achamenian in whose house
> this silver cup was made.

There are finds from the Achaemenid period (the Achaemenids are the 
Persian dynasty that included Cyrus and Cambyses and Darius son of 
Hystaspes) which modern scholars view as ancient forgeries.  Some 
attributed to Darius's grandfather and great-grandfather.  The Parthians 
who ruled Persia after Alexander's death claimed to be descendants of 
the Achaemenids.  So did the Sassanids who succeeded them.  They used 
the same royal names at the Achaemenids.  We don't know if the bowl 
cited above was written by a Parthian or possibly by a Persian pretender 
after Alexander's conquest.

> Note that all these names appear in Tanach and are consistent with Persian
> history. However Chazal accepting only 4 kings (3 without Darius the Mede)
> stated that the various names refer to the same person.

They also say that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was also the king of 
Nineveh in Jonah.  And that Eliyahu was Pinchas.  When Chazal say that 
two people are the same, it doesn't necessarily mean that they were 
literally the same person.

> Note however that Haman promised 10,000 talents of silver which is
> approximately 300 tons! according to Herodotus this was about the size of
> the annual budget of Persia.

Which made it a substantial bribe.

> According to this version the story of Purim happened in the reigh of
> Xerxes many years after the second Temple was rebuilt in the days of 
> Darius.

Except that Chazal are *very* clear about it having happened before
Bayit Sheni was rebuilt. And there's no real reason why they would have
said that if it wasn't the case. And it isn't just a matter of midrash.
The whole framework of history presented by Chazal is integrally dependent
on this part of the chronology.

> The Persian kingdom lasted for many more years (interestingly there is much
> less native documentation ie non-Greek for these later kings) and it was
> only Darius III (after several Xerxes' and Artaxerxes) who was conquered by
> Alexander the great.

I think it's telling that native is equated to Greek. The Greeks
were not native to Persia. The Jews, however, were. We lived there.
We were local. The Greeks were tourists who went around collecting
folklore for entertainment purposes. Herodotus was a raconteur.
While it's understandable that western civilization would base its
historical tradition on Greek storytelling, I don't think it stands to
reason that their vignettes are more likely to be accurate than local
traditions handed down by people whose lives revolved around the accurate
and precise transmission of information.

> In general the archaeological evidence supports the version of Herodotus
> and other Greek historians in the large though the Greek historians are
> known to be not trustworthy in many details especially in regard to the
> wars between the Greeks and the Persians where they had an axe to grind. In
> addition to the many documents left by the Persian kings there are letters
> sent to the garrison in elephantime (southern Eygpt) that corroborates this
> history together with the Jewish officers there keeping many halachot.

With all due respect, I see nothing in what was posted here to support
the claim that the archaeological evidence supports the Greek accounts.
On the contrary; using the conventional framework of the period, there
is a gap of about 150 years in any written materials from Persepolis.
Which seems odd for the greatest empire in the world at the time.

The letters at Yev (Elephantine), an island in the Nile near Aswan,
do corroborate the fact that there were kings by these names. But they
don't corroborate the Greek-based chronology.

I've been teaching a weekly class over the past year that started out as
being about the kings of Israel and Judah. We passed that a while ago,
and we're in the middle of the Chashmonaim now. But when we got to Purim,
I wrote up a brief synopsis of how things may have actually happened,
based on the information we have. If anyone would like a look at it,
it can be found at http://www.starways.net/lisa/essays/purimstory.pdf


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Message: 9
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 17:36:39 -0500
Re: [Avodah] partnership minyanim

On 18/02/2013 9:18 AM, Chana Luntz wrote:
> ?????? ??????? ???"?
> And I heard that in the country of Zachshin

Saxony, surely.

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and
z...@sero.name          substantial reason' why he should be permitted to
                        exercise his rights. The right's existence is all
                        the reason he needs.
                            - Judge Benson E. Legg, Woollard v. Sheridan

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Message: 10
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 11:12:17 +0200
[Avodah] persian era

The standard Persian cronolgy is

Cyrus - Cambysis (son)

Darius - Xerxes (son) - Artaxerxes (son).
Darius usurps the crown and as Lisa points out the exact events are murky.

These events are noted in various writings on walls and other writings that
(see for example The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the
Achaemenid Period<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415552796/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1
 - by Am?lie Kuhrt)

Lisa writes
<<Chazal actually don't say much about how long Darius and Cyrus reigned.>>

However they give the total Persian rule as 54 years
standard chronolgy says Darius I ruled from 522 to 486 BCE (36 years)
including the battle of Marathon

Lisa and I both seem to agree that his son Xerxes was Achashverosh. This
means Achasverosh
was the son of Darius and not the father of Darius as chazal seem to state.
In any case if Achashverosh is the son of Darius I then he reigned after
the Temple was rebuilt in the days of Darius

Xerxes reigned from 486 to 465 (21 years) and was murdered by a bodyguard.
Also spent much time fighting the Greeks

from Wikipedia
After the military blunders in Greece, Xerxes returned to Persia and
completed the many construction projects left unfinished by his father at
Susa and Persepolis. He built the Gate of all Nations and the Hall of a
Hundred Columns at Persepolis, which are the largest and most imposing
structures of the palace. He completed the Apadana, the Palace of Darius
and the Treasury all started by Darius as well as building his own palace
which was twice the size of his father's. His taste in architecture was
similar to that of Darius, though on an even more gigantic scale.He also
maintained the Royal Road built by his father and completed the Susa Gate
and built a palace at Susa.

both Darius and Xerxes left many inscriptions detailing their various

Artaxerxes ruled from 465 to 424 (41 years). He is named on an inscription
in a building in Susa.
Thus the reigns of these 3 kings is from 522 to 424 approximately 100 years
and doesnt include Cyrus and Cambysis.
Again as mentioned many times Artaxerxes is mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah
and so seems to conform to standard chronology while Chazal are forced to
conflate several kings.
In addition Nehemia mentions 6 high priests not including Shimon HaTzaddik.
Thus there seems to be a total of at least 8 high priests son after son
within 54 years.
Artscroll tries to explain that Yehishua Cohen Gadol was 100 at the
rebuilding of the Temple and that each of his descendants was Cohen Gadol
for only a short period before dying.
Seems highly unlikely.

Lisa writes
<I think it's telling that native is equated to Greek.  The Greeks were not
native to Persia.  The Jews, however, were.  We lived there.  We were
local. >>

I was totally lost by this remark. Again Ezra and Nehemia seem to use the
same names as the standard secular chronolgy. Seder Olam Raba is written in
EY about 500 years later while the more detailed Gemara statement are about
1000 years after the events.
Everyone agrees that the Greek accounts need to be taken with a very large
grain of salt both because they were prejudiced and because they didnt use
modern historical methods for determining the truth.
Nevertheless they present Persian-Greco wars from about 500 to 450 (50
It is  hard to believe they made up battles between themselves and the
If the entire Persian empire lasted only 54 years then these wars began
immediately after the conquest of Babylonia and then immediately following
the end of these wars Alexander invaded Persia (implying that the
Peloponnesian wars never occurred).

Later Persian history is beyond our current interest but is discussed by
several contemporary  Greek historians

Eli Turkel
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Message: 11
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 05:38:57 +0200
Re: [Avodah] partnership minyanim

I've been told that this is an urban myth.


On 2/18/2013 9:25 PM, Lisa Liel wrote:
> It's related that the late Yeshayahu Leibowitz used to spend Purim in
> Jerusalem and then spend Shushan Purim in Tel Aviv or elsewhere, for the
> explicit purpose of eliminating his chiyuv of observing Purim -- within
> the dalet amot of halakha.

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Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 05:42:47 -0500
[Avodah] Purim Costumes

See http://tinyurl.com/a75v92r

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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 06:12:38 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Purim Costumes

On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 05:42:47AM -0500, Prof. Levine wrote:
> See http://tinyurl.com/a75v92r

It's a booklet from the Chof-K, part of a series called Halachically
Speaking, titled Purim Costumes.

Quoting page 3:
    The Source

    The custom to get dressed on Purim is not mentioned in the Gemorah,
    medrash, or the Geonim. [1] It is not clear when this custom started,
    although some state that it originated in Italy around 500 years
    ago. Some say that this idea of dressing up on Purim originated from
    the non-Jews. [2] However, this is not accurate. Therefore, there is
    no issur of "following in their ways" when dressing up on Purim. [3]

    1. Toras Hamoadim Purim page 267:footnote 5. Refer to Minhag Avoseinu
       B'Yudeinu Moadim 1:pages 292, Moadim L'simcha 3:pages 443-458,
       Meoros Nosson Purim 75.
    2. Refer to Toras Hamoadim Purim page 267:footnote 5 who brings such
       an opinion. See Keser Shem Tov 2:page 545.
    3. See Orchos Rabbeinu 3:page 60:104. 

I'm curious to know the evidence that unlinks Purim costumes from
Carnivale. If they're willing to accept, even if with a "some state"
disclaimer, that the minhag began in Italy in the 15th or 16th cent,
how does one *prove* people weren't copying the surrounding culture?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
mi...@aishdas.org        but it is my chief duty to accomplish small
http://www.aishdas.org   tasks as if they were great and noble.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                              - Helen Keller


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