Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 122

Thu, 04 Jul 2013

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2013 17:42:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Judaism or witchcraft?

On Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:47:51AM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
> But joking or not, it's kind of scary.  It seems to be part and parcel  
> of a de-intellectualization in the frum community that's blurring the  
> line between serious frumkeit and magic.

> Is there any basis for this sort of stuff?

We revisit the subject of segulos with some regularity.

If the idea is to enhance kavanah, so that a tefillah or a mitzvah
is done with more meaning, yes. Unless you're willing to take on the
gemara's proposing simanei milsa for RH...

If the idea is to effect change in this world through manipulation of
metaphysical forces, my Litvisher ancestors would call it nichush and
a violation of tamim tihyeh.

Tir'u baTov!

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: "Daniel M. Israel" <d...@cornell.edu>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2013 18:31:13 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Women & Kaddish

On Jun 27, 2013, at 8:44 PM, Meir Shinnar <chide...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 1). In 1973-4, at Barnard, there was a student who had a letter from
> RMF saying she should be allowed to say Kaddish.  When she would go to
> a new shul, she would meet with the rabbi ahead of time to show the
> letter so there would not be any questions.  It's been a while, &
> I don't recall the details of the heter ( back then I didn't realize
> its importance ).	

A little tangent to you point but I'm curious if you recall how this was
worded.  That RMF paskened she could say kaddish doesn't surprise me; that
he would write a letter instructing the mara d'atra in any shul where the
letter was presented how he should hold for his own shul would surprise me.

Daniel M. Israel

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 16:08:22 +0300
[Avodah] Satmar growing wheat in Arizona so that no rain

Can someone please explain the reason for this? Since when can the wheat
not become wet while growing? What did the Jews in Eastern Europe do? To
the best of my knowledge it rains in Europe while the wheat is growing as
it does just about everywhere in the world where Jews live. Has something
changed in the last few years in terms of the way wheat is grown?
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-a

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2013 10:12:27 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Satmar growing wheat in Arizona so that no rain

On 2/07/2013 9:08 AM, Marty Bluke wrote:
> Can someone please explain the reason for this? Since when can the
> wheat not become wet while growing? What did the Jews in Eastern
> Europe do? To the best of my knowledge it rains in Europe while the
> wheat is growing as it does just about everywhere in the world where
> Jews live. Has something changed in the last few years in terms of
> the way wheat is grown?

As soon as the wheat is ready, it must not become wet.  In Europe they
would cut it while still a bit green, but one must be careful not to cut
it while *too* green, which makes it a difficult call.  And not-quite-
ripe wheat has its own problems; it has to be dried and checked for fungi
that will grow on it.  Using Arizona wheat, which is watered by irrigation
and hardly ever sees rain, solves this problem.  The wheat can be allowed
to fully ripen and dry before harvesting.

(Incidentally, this may be the origin of the minhag not to eat garlic on
Pesach; Areivim member Joe Slater found a memoir about this process of
checking the wheat, which refers to some sort of fungal growth as "knobblach",
i.e. "garlics", presumably because its shape is somehow reminiscent of garlic.
If one has to remove "knobblach" from the wheat to make matzah, then it makes
sense that this would develop into a minhag not to eat actual knobble.)

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

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 18:34:05 +0300
[Avodah] announcing plan for first head transplant in man


The Halachic implications of this fascinating. Halachically how would we
identify this person? Do we follow the head, the body, or neither? What is
the status of his wife? etc.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 17:44:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Da'as Torah

On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 12:05:31AM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
:> Anyway, pesaq *makes* an opinion the law -- lo sosiru mikol
:> asher yagidu lekha. The poseiq's ruling, assuming he actually
:> followed the rules of pesaq and didn't make a mistake that
:> goes beyond eilu va'eilu, is what makes it the law. ...

: But in the real world, it can and does sometimes happen that the posek
: DOES make a mistake that goes beyond eilu va'eilu.

Well, I do acknowledge the case as an exception to my rule. I am
assuming it's rare. Still, the source of rabbinic authority (when there
is no error) comes from the creative nature of a legal process. Hashem
gave us a process for deciding law, not laws. When the process is indeed
followed, what the poseiq says is law because his statement constitutes
law, not explains something preexisting.

My point in that paragraph was that this is unlike questions of daas
Torah. There we aren't asking for a ruling, or even an approach to life
problems, but for a truth. Is it safe to stay in Europe? Does protesting
for Soviet Jewry help or harm? Should we apply political pressure to
obtain Moshe Rubashkin's freedom?

: I would therefore modify RMB's statement: Their proclamations
: do not define what is right, but their proclamations do define our
: obligations. Indeed, Halakhah *IS* a legal process, and if legal authority
: rests in our rabbanim, then we're obligated to follow them. But in the
: abstract, this does not prove them to be correct.

As you may have picked up from the discussion RMRabi and I had for the
first half of 5773, I think there are three scenarios involving rabbinic
authority and pesaq:

1- The poseiq comes up with a decision that is within eilu va'eil,
but I prefer a different tzad.

I think in this case we're expected to submit to authority. (Pace RMR:
preferably not blindly, you should learn what his sevara is.) And if
this happens very often and you have a choice of posqim (e.g. there
isn't a single literal morah de'asra), maybe find a new poseiq to form
a relationship with before the next she'eilah come up!

2- The poseiq comes up with a decision that involves hora'ah, but I
think he violated halachic process.

Here it's gray area. How sure can I be that my poseiq messed up, rather
than my 2nd-guessing did? If I do not have a heter hora'ah, I believe
you're obligated to follow your rav, and any culpability is his shogeig.
Then we get to the far end of this area...

3- The poseiq errs in a zil q'ri bei rav well established and settled
halakhah. (E.g. the Chayei Adam, Qitzur, Ben Ish Hai, AhS, MB and la'az
popularizations all agree.)

Then I think one is not supposed to follow the rav, and to do so would
be the sho'el's (presumably beshogeg) error.

When the halachic process is followed, it does define what is law,
what's right. Not "merely" our obligation.

When it is not followed, it may or may not define our obligations,
depending on where the case is in the spectrum (mixed metaphor, before
it was a "gray area") between #2 and #3.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Take time,
mi...@aishdas.org        be exact,
http://www.aishdas.org   unclutter the mind.
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Michael Orr <michael...@rogers.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 19:44:05 -0700 (PDT)
[Avodah] Netziv: Shatnez Blocks Telegraph

The Netziv makes a fascinating claim while commenting on the
verse in Vayikra (19:19) that prohibits shatnez.? He states that it is one of the secrets of nature (mi'sistrei hateva), known to scientists
(chachmei hateva) that taking ?a thread that was made of twisting flax and
wool together, and tying it onto a telegraph wire, will stop the wire from
transmitting speech (dibbur).? He also states that it is known to some of
the wise of the nations of the world that wearing shatnez harms and impairs the
strength of the wearer.

-Where would he have found a source for such a claim (about the telegraph wire specifically)?

-Isn?t this claim easily disproven by experiment?

-Does a telegraph wire transmit speech anyway?? (Maybe he meant a telephone wire?)

-In my edition (Cooperman, eds.) all??these comments are in brackets.? Does this mean there is a question about
whether it can actually be attributed to the Netziv?

-Any ideas?

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

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 06:49:05 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Netziv: Shatnez Blocks Telegraph

On Tue, Jul 02, 2013 at 07:44:05PM -0700, Michael Orr wrote:
: The Netziv makes a fascinating claim while commenting on the
: verse in Vayikra (19:19) that prohibits shatnez. He states that it is one of the secrets of nature (mi'sistrei hateva), known to scientists
: (chachmei hateva) that taking a thread that was made of twisting flax and wool together, and tying it onto a telegraph wire...

I'm looking at the Friedman (NY) edition. It doesn't have the page with
all the legalese on it, so I don't know the year. But given the quality of
print, it's old. I don't see what you're referring to. Look for yourself:

Googling around for combinations of "wire" "Netziv" (or "Davar") and
"shaatnez" (or "shatnez") didn't find anyone else discussing the claim,
which would be a rarity for a topic of this sort.

What I do see in the HD with the words you quote is that wearing shaatnez
"mashchis segulas chutei tzemer ufishtim mimah shehayah." And this
is misisrei hateva and are known to chakhmei hateva.

Then the Netziv continues that this warning also applies to keeping peace
in the nation, because disturbing the seder ruchani in the olam haberi'ah
also changes seder hagashmi, because the ruach hachayah which is in all
of creation stands in a spiritual way.

: -Isn't this claim easily disproven by experiment?

I was thinking that it could mean splicing in shaatnez INTO the
line. But this would be true for replacing a bit of wire with wool or
linen individually.

: -Does a telegraph wire transmit speech anyway? (Maybe he meant a telephone wire?)

I think it does. You're being caught up on the word "speech", which has
connotations that may not match the original.

The phoe was invented Feb 11 1876 by Elisha Gray -- a member of the tribe.
Gray files a patent caveat on 14 Feb 1872 at 9:30am. Bell patents his
telephone at 11:30am, and Gray completes his patent at 1:30. Thereby
assigning Mr Gray to obscurity. As RARR is wont to say: Ein mazal leYisrael.

1893, when the Netziv was niftar, was a year after the first telephone
switch (capacity 99 lines) was installed in LaPorte Indiana. It was
likely a rarity anyone could make any claim about in Litta and people
would believe it. OTOH, it might have been too young and too rare for
such secondary claims to exist. Just the phone itself was still a marvel.

Still, I think telegraph works, as dibur could well include Morse Code.

: -In my edition (Cooperman, eds.) all these comments are in
:  brackets. Does this mean there is a question about
:  whether it can actually be attributed to the Netziv?

I don't know what their brackets mean, but I'm *guessing* from my
experience that Cooperman added material that wasn't in the original. It
could have been manuscript, so it could still be the Netziv's. Maybe even
(guess upon guess) the Netziv dropped that piece when he found out it
wasn't true!

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

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 14:44:17 +0100
Re: [Avodah] kesiva and tzovea

R' Eli Turkel asked:

> Next Question:
> Kesiva requires 2 letters near each other.
> If one writes (on paper/parchment) only one letter why is one then not 
> chayav for tzovea anyway?

I am no dye expert, but I wouldn't have thought that the amount of colouring
involved in writing one letter would require the necessary shiur for
colouring - namely that it colours a thread of four tefachim in length- or
something from which it is possible to spin a thread of four tefachim
(Rambam, Hilchos Shabbas perek 9 halacha 13).

Then R' Micha Berger asked:

>A question I've been wondering about since the start of this thread....

>Ink can crack or peel off parchment. It more rests above the skin than
penetrate within it. Would medium be considered tzoveia in any case?

Well if you consider that not to be permanent, then you don't have the
melacha of kesiva either.  The Rambam in the continuation of the above
halacha on tzovea, notes that one is only chayav if the dying is permanent,
but if it is not permanent, then one is patur (of course, aval assur). The
two examples he gives of non permanence is painting one's face, and painting
on to iron or copper.  But the fact that non permanence is considered patur,
not chayav, is learnt out from kesiva, as the Magid Mishna there notes.  And
if you do consider it permanent, then it would seem yes, you do have the din
of tzovea - given the examples of painting on iron or copper, which is only
not chayav because it is not permanent.

Earlier RAM wrote:

: > Has anyone suggested tzove'a (coloring) as a basis to forbid these
: > devices?

I replied:

: Well tzovea always comes to mind if we are anywhere near ksiva (and
: kesiva vis a vis texting and computer use would seem to be a real
: question) - but, is the production of light photons really tzovea -
: much bigger step, it seems to me, that makeh b'patish, or LEDs being
: light and hence ma'avir.

And R' Micha Berger further replied:

>Plasma panels suffer from the same issues as fluorescent bulbs.

>More common is an LCD display backlit by CCFL (cold cathode fluoresent
lamps). The cathode is way hotter than yad soledes, but not hot enought to
glow. >I mentioned this and the problems defining it as aish or as
definitively saying it's not. Sometimes the backlighting is LED.

>But the tzovei'ah itself is the LCD, the phtons are being produced by
something else and passed through something whose colors you're changing.
>You're effectively coloring a window.

>Also, if things are judged by effect, does any of the above matter? It
still has the effect of giving a surface colors that it didn't have at the
start >of Shabbos.

>E-Ink is a bigger problem, as the text and drawings will persist on their
own. Most LCD systems require refreshing the picture, so that the original
>drawing is not "shel qayama". With e-Ink, though, the LCD will retain the
picture it was given for months or years unless someone sets a new image.
>I don't think a regular LCD would pose a deOraisa issue. I know kesivah
with disappearing ink is derabannan. What about tzoveia? 

As mentioned, the Rambam says explicitly that if it is not permanent, it is
not forbidden d'orisa.

One interesting data point is ROY's teshuva in Yechave Daat Chelek 2 siman
47 where he was asked about those glasses which turn into sunglasses in the
sun (ie change colour) and then go back to clear once in the house, and
whether there is an issur of wearing them (and in particular taking them in
and out, causing them to change colour) on Shabbas.

He answers permitting their use, and begins by quoting the Rambam I refer to
above, clarifying that the changing of colour of the glass must at most be a
d'rabbanan, since the colour is not permanent.  

But ROY then goes on to say that there is no issur at all, because all the
melachos that are forbidden on shabbas we learn from the melachos of the
mishkan  (Shabbat 47b) and all that the Rabbis instituted kein d'orisa
tikun, with the intention to forbid even a thing that is not permanent as a
gezera because of a thing that is permanent, and as the colouring that was
in the mishkan was by way of by putting one item (ie dye) onto another item,
like strings of wool (or, according to the Yerushalmi, skins) which then
became the colour of techelet or argaman.

ROY also brings one fascinating analogy to our original discussion - as a
possible support for this position - namely the Urim v'Tumim. Because
according to the Midrash Shmuel and the Yalkut Shimoni on Shmuel- when Dovid
HaMelech came to ask of the Urim V'Tumim, it was Shabbas.  And according to
the discussion in Yoma 73b, to get an answer from the Urim v'Tumim, the
letters either protruded or possibly lit up in their place - and yet asking
the Urim v'Tumim on Shabbas would seem to be mutar.  On the other hand, ROY
says it does not provide such good support for his case, because the person
asking does not do any action at all, he is just a cause, and it is only if
the kohen is fitting does a message come (in contrast to these sunglasses,
where to achieve the colouring he goes out into the sunlight, which is an
actual ma'aseh).  

But getting back to our discussion, it would seem that the Urim v'Tumim
would suggest that voice recognition software, at least, leading to words
appearing on a screen, would not be considered assur.  Unless you say that
the kohen being or not being fitting is a sufficient other cause to make a
significant differentiation.

Another fascinating case ROY brings is that discussed in Shut Nishal Dovid
and also in the Pri Megadim, regarding whether there is an issur of ksiva if
you had a piece of paper on which something was written in invisible ink,
and in order to read it, you put it close to a heat source, thereby
revealing the letters.  The Pri Megadim thinks there is an issur d'rabanan,
but it sounds like the Nishal Dovid doesn't think there is any issur at all,
even though here there clearly is a ma'aseh.  Now I am not sure whether in
the case of invisible ink, once you bring it close to a heat source, the
writing remains permanently there, or if, once you remove it from a heat
source, it goes back to the way it was - but whichever it is would seem to
impact on RMB's question about e-ink versus regular LCD.

Note that ROY quotes Rav Moshe as also having permitted colour changing
sunglasses - but he cites the relevant teshuva as being in Iggeros Moshe,
Orech Chaim chelek 5 siman 45, and my version of chelek 5 seems to only go
up to siman 43 (and so does the one on Hebrew Books) so I don't know where
this teshuva is.  If there is any reasoning in that teshuva (and not just a
psak) it could also shed some interesting light on our topic.



Go to top.

Message: 10
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 04:34:58 -0400

Please see http://tinyurl.com/k8rxnv3

<http://oukosher.org/>OU Kosher presents frequently asked questions 
to-date on the OU Kosher Hotline (212-613-8241) by consumers received 
for the summer. Questions may also be submitted to 

These questions are answered by Rabbi Benjamin Geiger, the voice of 
OU Kosher's Consumer Hotline; the OU's Webbe Rebbe; and Rabbi Eli 
Eleff, rabbinic coordinator and consumer relations administrator. 
Rabbi Moshe Zywica, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator, 
supervises the OU Consumer Relations Department. The responses were 
reviewed by Rabbi Yaakov Luban, OU Kosher executive rabbinic 
coordinator; and Rabbi Eli Gersten, rabbinic coordinator and halachic 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 31, Issue 122

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 >