Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 90

Tue, 14 May 2013

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 11:33:31 -0400
[Avodah] Are there actual limudei chol?

On 5/14/2013 11:51 AM, R Eli Turkel wrote to Areivim:
>> See Rambam Yesodei haTorah chapters 3 and 4 where in Mishne Torah the  
>> Rambam teaches astronomy which he equates with Maasei Bereshit.
>> This is repeated in Moreh Nevuchim in the introduction where maaseit  
>> bereshit is described as the natural sciences (chochmat hateva). See  
>> aslo there 1:34.

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 04:10:01PM +0300, R Ben Waxman replied there:
> But even the Rambam there says that before getting into those subjects  
> you first have to fill your stomach with bread and meat (Gemara).

Are you arguing that not only are limudei chol part of Torah, but
even are the Pardes? The reference I believe you're making is to
Yedosei haTorah 4:13.

    The topic of these four chapters which is these 5 mitzvos they are
    what the first chakhamim call Pardes, as in 4 entered the Pardes, and
    even though they were gedolei Yisrael and great chakhemim, not all of
    them had the ability to know and to grasp all these things to clarity.

    And I say that it improper to tour in the Pardes except one who
    fills his gut with bread and meat, which is to know the explanation
    of what is prohibitd and permitted and the like from the rest of
    the mitzvos...

But really the only mention of nature rather than metaphysics in those
4 chapters is 2:1's advice to study nature and philosophy in order to
reach ahavas Hashem, and perhaps his discussion of the spheres -- but
that's in relation to the metaphysical intellects above them.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 49th day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        7 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Malchus: What is the ultimate
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            goal of perfect unity?

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 11:54:23 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Reading a Newspaper on Shabbos

On Mon, May 13, 2013 at 07:35:55PM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
>> Yes, shinui sheim is situational, and changes with the times and
>> location. Why is that a difficulty?
> If so then we have the absurd situation that in America the "paper" remains
> a "paper" and thus is not nolad, while in EY "neyar" becomes an "iton" and
> thus is nolad!  I don't think that's supportable...

I am saying I don't see a problem. You're replying that it's self-evident
that it's absurd doesn't cut it with someone who already said he doesn't
consider it a problem, never mind thinking I would take your word for
it without need for proof.

There are other cases where local norms mean the same act in two
different societies has different dinim. The berakhah on a raw onion
is shehakol for an American (because Americans don't just bite into a
raw onion) but ha'adamah for an East European.

The gemara's maqor for shinui hasheim is keves vs ayil WRT qorbanos. It
isn't limited to Choshein Mishpat.

In any case... Why not ask the same "absurdity" WRT qinyan?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 48th day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        6 weeks and 6 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Yesod sheb'Malchus: What binds different
Fax: (270) 514-1507             people together into one cohesive whole?

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: David Wacholder <dwachol...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 12:05:06 -0400

SMaK - Sefer Mitzvos Ketanos and the SMaK MiTzurch are printed in a
beautiful three volume edition on HebrewBooks.org.

On the very first Mitzvah, they ask - where is the source for Tzipita
Liyeshuah - as a basic question - so much so that when a person goes to
Olam Haba that is top of the list?

They answer that it is included in Pshuto shel Mikra - just as I saved you
from Mitzrayim -- you can trust me to save from all the Galuyos.  The
Midrash learns it from Ehkeh Asher Ehkeh - just like this Tzara, I will
save you from the next Tzara, and the name HVYH is a variant used by Bnei
Yisrael with the same content.

The letters of Anochi are expanded to initial [Notarikon]  - ANA NAFSHI
Katvit Yehavivit - Shabbat 105 - is the signature line of  Shtarot legal
contracts in ancient EY. The idea is that the Aseres Hadibros are a
Marriage Contract - a Shtar Kidushin with all the Chumros - and begins with
Hashem's signature as Mekadesh and actual writer.

Some Geniza marriage documents say "Harei At Mekushet B'Kos Zeh uv'mah
sheb'tocho - with this cup and its contents. That may be why the Kallah
drinks from the cup.  Perhaps the Aseres Hadibros are like Kessef Kidushin,
a present to Klal Yisrael.

There is a second opinion that the second Dibros were - ANA NOMIKO  Katvit
Yehavivit -- Nomiko means Scribe writing - Moshe Rabeinu writing on the
Luchos rather than Hashem.


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

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 16:16:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Segulot, Practical Kabbala

On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 04:39:21PM -0400, Nachum Binyamin Klafter, MD wrote:
> I don't know exactly what you mean when you say "What do you make of...?" 
> If you are asking me how it was possible for the Chacham Tzvi to believe  
> such things, then the following is my answer:  I think that the 
> intellectual world of the Chacham Tzvi was Medieval, pre-Enlightenment, 
> and based on metaphysics rather than on scientific observation.  
> Astrology, alchemy, and magic were accepted by the vast majority of 
> people as being real phenomena.....

As are nissim that violate nature. Once you go from the Ralbag's position
on the rationalist-mystical axis, where even those are denied, as little
as to the Rambam's, you have already opened up the door to the idea that
empiricism is insufficient to explain how the world will behave.

> Micha Berger:
> In my opinion you misunderstand the relevance for us of those passages 
> from the Moreh Nevhuchim.  First of all, the real point of that passage 
> is that angels are actually the forces of nature...

The real point is to map the chain of intellects back up to the Prime
Mover which makes up the centerpiece of Aristotilian and (moreso)
Neoplatonic metaphysics to the levels of mal'akhim between us and HQBH
from mesorah.

Every action in Aristo's physics begins with an intellect, which imparts
impetus (kind of like momentum, but it runs out and need repleneshing)
to an objection, which then moves and changes. Therefore Aristo had to
associate natural events with intellects, and consequently the Rambam
identifies *some kinds* of angels with natural forces. Not all angels.

But his "real point" was to assert that the Neoplatonism that his
host culture took for granted as the one true way to think of how the
world works is the description of how the world works that one finds in
the Torah.

> believed in the Aristotelian model of our universe which involved a the 
> Hylar Matter ("Hiyuli" in Hebrew), and he believed that "angels" 
> described in Tanakh and chazal were their way of describing the system of 
> spheres which he lays out at the beginning of Hilchot Yesodei Ha-Torah...

Below the angels, or perhaps the lowest angel, is the Active Intellect,
which in turn moves the spheres... The spheres are NOT angels, but below
them in the chain of causality, as we are. Angels are thought without
matter, form without substance.

>                                                              It would 
> similar to someone in our times writing a handbook of Jewish belief which 
> starts off with the best, contemporary scientific account of the Big Bang 
> and the expansion of the universe.

And I argue the same with the various theories of astonomy we find in
Chazal. If one pays attention to when the rabbi speaking lived, and
whether he lived in Bavel (exposed to Persian culture) or EY (Roman
Empire), it's pretty consistent.

But that's tangential to the point I was /trying/ to convey. What I was
focusing on is that the Rambam's metaphysics has just as much room for
supernatural events as the Qabbalah does. The fact that he excludes them,
aside from nissim, is a distinct machloqes to that of whether creation
emantes as Or Ein Sof through a sequence of universes, or His Will
reaches and causes creation through a sequence of intellects.

Lumping it all into mysticism vs rationalism is too imprecise for the
kind of critical thought we need to bring to talmud Torah.

BTW, I'm working on a blog post about the Bahir, showing how it fused the
traditions we find in Seifer haYetzrirah and in Heikhalos literature to
be the first book to be published which contains what most of us think
of when we hear the word Qabbalah. (Phrased that way, "to be published",
to avoid questions of when how much of the Zohar, and for that matter
of the Bahir, was written.)

I find it an important point, because it dates the promulgation of
Qabbalah in print to before the Moreh Nevukhim -- 1176 Provence.
Probably within 10 years of the Moreh, but first. I think we need
to emphasize that the seeds of the explosution of Qabbalah's circulation
was already in place before the Maimonidian Controversies. It's *not*
a counter-reaction.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 49th day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        7 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Malchus: What is the ultimate
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            goal of perfect unity?

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: cantorwolb...@cox.net
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 16:54:14 -0400

GREAT MATERIAL FOR TONIGHT    (Probably the attached link is easier to read) 

The following is a very interesting question raised many years ago by a
Darshan. The Bible relates that when Moses died, "He was buried in the
valley of the land of Moab over against Bethpeor; and no man knoweth of his
sepulcher unto this day." (Deuteronomy, 34,6.)

The Bible itself gives us specific signs to locate the burial place of
Moses. It says in the first place that he was buried in the valley.
Secondly, it was in the land of Moab, and thirdly it was over against
Bethpeor.  And yet it concludes that "No man knoweth of his sepulcher unto
this day."								   
	    Does not the second half of the verse contradict the first

       This Darshan went on to give a parable. He related an interesting
       story. Many years back, a small Jewish community in Poland was
       looking for a rabbi. They heard the fame of a young Rabbi who was
       recently ordained with honors at a prominent Yeshiva. They sent a
       delegation of three men						   
	 to visit the young scholar and to invite him to become the rabbi
       of their community. They were not able to offer him much financial
       inducement. The community was small and the Rabbi knew that he would
       have there very few scholars learned in the Torah with whom he could
       associate. The Rabbi was not inclined to accept.

       When the delegation sensed its failure to realize its mission, one
       of the men spoke up and said: "Do you know that some of the most
       prominent sages and rabbis of the world are buried in our
       community?? The Rabbi understood the implication. If he accepted the
       position he would be successor to a whole galaxy of		   
       rabbis. Furthermore, after he had lived his span of life on this
       earth, his earthly remains would come to repose in the cemetery of
       the community alongside his distinguished predecessors.		   
	      The na?ve, unsuspecting Rabbi was won over. He accepted the
       position. It was not long after coming to this			   
							community that the
       Rabbi realized he made a mistake. His salary was not enough for his
       basic needs and he felt rather lonely, not having any learned
       colleagues or friends in the community.	      One day, when he was
       especially lonesome, he decided that he would go visit the cemetery
       and see for himself who his great				    
	predecessors were. He walked through the length and breadth of the
	cemetery examining carefully each monument and its inscription. He
	found no names that he recognized. He returned home and sent for
	the men of the delegation who had visited him in the first place.
	When these men arrived he said to them, 			   
						   "Gentlemen, you will
	recall that you said to me that you have some of the most prominent
	and distinguished rabbis interred in your city. Pray, tell me, who
	are these rabbis, these prominent scholars?" The spokesman for the
	delegation answered, "Why, Rabbi, in our community you will find
	Rashi buried. You will also find				   
					    the Rambam and the Rema
	interred here." At this the Rabbi became infuriated: "How dare you
	say these things to me! Everyone knows that the Rambam is interred
	in Tiberias, Rashi is buried in France and the Rema's sepulcher is
	in the City of Cracow." The spokesman again answered: "Rabbi, you
	don?t understand.						   
		 Please don't get angry with
  us for we have spoken the truth. You can go to Tiberias and visit their
  school houses and synagogues and you will see that the Rambam still lives
  there. He is discussed, his words are studied with the greatest respect.
  You can go through the Jewish academies of France and you will see that  
							   Rashi lives
  there. Young and old are engaged in studying his words. He is part of the
  life of everyone who learns the Bible and the Talmud. You can go to the
  City of Cracow and you will see the Rema ? the great Rabbi Moses
  Isserles, still lives there. The people live by his rulings set forth in
  the Shulchan Aruch.							   
		However, in OUR community, all these great and prominent
  leaders of the Jewish people are dead and buried. You will never find
  anyone here repeating words of the Rambam or of Rashi or of the Rema. So
  you see, Rabbi, that all these great masters of Jewish law are buried
  here in this community."
The Darshan, on completing the parable, then went on to explain the
Biblical passage that seemed self-contradictory. Where is Moses buried? He
is buried in the valley, in a place where light does not penetrate, where
enlightenment is altogether absent. He is buried in the land of Moab, among
	       uncivilized people. He is buried over against Bethpeor; idol
worshippers have not heard of Moses. "And no man knoweth of his sepulcher
unto this day."

Anyone worthy of being a ben Torah, knows that Moses is not dead. In the
Jewish study halls and the great academies of our people, Moses still
lives.	And tonight he will give us the holy Torah.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Type: application/msword
Size: 38912 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 31, Issue 90

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..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >