Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 188

Wed, 13 Nov 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 21:16:41 -0500
[Avodah] Yaakov's Dreams

At 07:46 PM 11/10/2013, Lisa Liel wrote:

>On 11/10/2013 11:25 AM, Zev Sero wrote:
> > I protest against this observation.  It's a chutzpah to Yaakov Avinu,
> > who was a Merkavah to Hashem, who was so connected to Hashem that he
> > never had a keri in his life, to imply that he had become megusham
> > like this.  The Avos were not normal people, and it is wrong to
> > portray them like that.
>That's one view.  Another view is that on at least some level, they
>*were* normal people, albeit spiritually superior.  And yet another view
>is that jokes are jokes, and that one was kind of cute.

Your observation is correct.   This was meant at 
least in part as a joke!  I actually heard it 
from a choshava Holocaust survivor many years ago.

Regarding the Avos being "normal people,"  the 
following is from the new translation of the 
commentary of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch on 
Bereishis 12: 10 - 13. He is discussing the 
question of how Avraham could leave EY and put Sarah in danger.

RSRH quotes the Ramban ?Our father Avraham inadvertently committed
a grave sin by placing his virtuous wife before a stumbling block
of iniquity because of his fear of being killed . . . His leaving the Land,
about which he had been commanded, because of the famine was another
sin he committed? ? nevertheless, none of this would perplex us.

The Torah does not seek to portray our great men
as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: ?Here you
have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!? It does
not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which
we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we
must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a
model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.
Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: ?Look upon Me!
Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!? We are never to say: ?This must be
good and right, because so-and-so did it.? The Torah is not an ?anthology
of good deeds.? It relates events not because they are necessarily
worthy of emulation, but because they took place.

The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses
of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility.
The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract
from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their
stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they
been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and
unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed
with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed
free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed
to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired
by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to

Let us learn from our great teachers of Torah ? among whom the
Ramban certainly is one of the most outstanding ? that we must never
attempt to whitewash the spiritual and moral heroes of our past. They
do not need our apologetics, nor would they tolerate such attempts on
our part. Emes, truth, is the seal of our Torah, and truthfulness is the
guiding principle of the Torah?s great teachers and commentators.

In light of this, I have to wonder why some think 
that all "negatives" about our predecessors 
should be suppressed. What I am talking about is 
the tendency of some to go so far as to deny that 
certain things took place in the past if they do 
not jive with our present view of what the 
religious world should look like.  As I have 
quipped more than once, "There are Holocaust 
deniers and there are Orthodox deniers."


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Message: 2
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:33:44 +0100
[Avodah] Should we Circumcise the Children of Non-Members?

From my blog post at http://wp.me/pkLEW-Cp

Jewish communities provide many services and play a crucial role in
furthering Jewish identity and adherence. All those programs and activities
cost money, however. Different countries use different models to raise
funds. In some European countries, first and foremost in Germany, funds are
raised through a system of registration with and taxation by the state in
favor of the designated faith community. Thus, Jews (and Catholics,
Protestants and Muslims, etc.) in Germany are expected to register as Jews
(or as belonging in their respective faith community) with the government,
which will then proceed to add 8 or 9% on top of income taxes and pass that
addition on to the designated community. The act of not joining or leaving
the community, often for financial reasons, hurts the community and forces
its remaining members to unfairly bear the burden of services.

 May such a community, in addition to denying non members reduced or free
entry to concerts, lectures and sundry other events, also deny basic Jewish
services, like the circumcision of newborn boys of non-members?

Seridim, the scholarly journal of the Conference of European Rabbis, just
published my article on the subject. I have meanwhile gotten some resonses
and have addressed, respectively incorporated them in a new version, which
you may download from

I can summarize my findings at follows:

* Historically, such sanctions were enacted, but they were enacted based on
the presumption that the excommunication will rapidly have a positive
effect and the punished member will repent. That is no longer a given.

* In fact, by refusing these life cycle services, we may turn off and lose
those people forever. Only fully Orthodox communities may still reasonably
make such assumptions.

* Nonetheless, I can still see a reason not to bury such people until
appropriate payment is made, as there is no chance they will come
afterwards to rejoin the community, considering they are dead. This is all
the more so when the person in question actively left the community.

* In the case of circumcision, however, one must also consider that the
child is not guilty of anything, and by not circumcising him, we make it
harder for him to later on change his ways and become more involved in
Judaism. Thus, nowadays, we should not enact these sanctions in the case of
the circumcision of the child of non members. Especially not if the parents
weren?t members to begin with. Instead, the circumcision should be seen as
a springboard to include the parents more strongly in the community and
gently encouraging them to become members either then or later on.

* The community is obviously free to demand payment for the use of its
facilities and may demand a higher price of non members, but the pricing
structure should be reasonable, not excessively punitive. I.e. ?200 for
members? use of the synagogue, but ?10000 for non-members is sophistry.

* Even regarding weddings, I believe that we should conduct them for
non-members, too (contingent upon payment of a reasonable fee), for if we
refuse, that very possibly won?t encourage them to become members and to
become more involved, but will rather turn them off and either make them
skip the Jewish aspect of the wedding altogether, or have them fly in some
unrecognized freelance rabbi, who may or may not adhere to Jewish
tradition, so that their wedding might still not be halakhically sanctified
and we will have lost them as future members. This is obviously a judgement
call, and not every couple is at the same danger of running away from the
community. But this is why it is far better to pleasantly coach them to
join, rather than forcing them to.

* That said, as I document, it is a grave sin to declare before the
government that one is leaving the Jewish community, and it is
fundamentally unfair to either leave or refuse to join and share the burden.

mit freundlichen Gr??en,
with kind regards,
Arie Folger

visit my blog at http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/
sent from my mobile device
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Message: 3
From: cantorwolb...@cox.net
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 06:38:18 -0500
[Avodah] Yaakov's Dreams

The story regarding the following, I heard in greater detail:

This is as bad as the story of a speaker at the Agudah convention, who said that
Yitzchok Avinu was fooled by Eisav because "he liked a good dinner" ("er hot lib
gehat a gutte vetchere").   The LR at the time protested against this and said
the speakershould take a minyan to Mearas Hamachpela to apologise to Yitzchak,
because otherwise he would have to retract his words before the same audience,
which would not gather until the next year, and in the meantime Rosh Hashana
would come, and on RH one does not want to be in dispute with Yitzchak Avinu.

The facts as I heard them was the following:
At this Agudah Convention, a well known rabbi got up to speak in front of nearly a thousand people. 
This rabbi began his speech by saying that Lubavitch is like ?Yitzchok Avinu.?  Why did he say Lubavitch, Chabad, is like Yitzchok Avinu? 
He said just like Yitzchok liked Esau because he gave him food, Chabad likes the non religious Jews because they give them money.
So, in one felt swoop, this speaker insulted the patriarch Isaac, insulted the Lubavitchers as well as non religious Jews. 

Needless to say, the Rebbe was extremely upset and when his turn came to speak, everyone waited with baited breath to see how he would respond. 
Also, by the time the rebbe spoke, a couple of hundred people had left due to the lateness of the hour. 
So the rebbe got up and said: ?First of all, I want to thank you for likening Chabad to Yitzchok Avinu; it?s a big compliment. 
I mean what greater compliment is there than to liken any Jew to the second of the major patriarchs. And as the rebbe spoke, his voice got louder 
and the anger was obvious and he said to the crowd (as if the other rabbi
wasn?t present): First of all, this individual (the rebbe omitted his title
of ?rabbi?) 
that made those remarks, has to go to m?ears hamachpela to beg for
forgiveness (with a minyan) for the terrible thing he said, because there
is an actual halacha 
in the Shulchan Aruch that if you embarrass someone who died, you have to go to the grave to ask for forgiveness. The rebbe, then looked at this other rabbi 
and banging his fist on the podium yelled: How in the world did you have the chutzpa to say that Yitzchok liked Esau because he gave him food?  
It?s an embarrassment and an insult to Yitzchok Avinu.? You now have to go to Yerushalayim to the kever of Yitzchok Avinu and ask for forgiveness. 
After you do that, you have to assemble every last person who was here and beg for forgiveness from the entire body of people who heard what an idiot you were.
(This story was related by R? Y. Shusterman of L.A., verbatim)

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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 12:50:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Yaakov's Dreams

On 11/11/2013 6:38 AM, cantorwolb...@cox.net wrote:
> Needless to say, the Rebbe was extremely upset and when his turn came
> to speak, everyone waited with baited breath to see how he would
> respond.   [...]   The rebbe, then looked at this other rabbi and banging
>  his fist on the podium yelled

The LR never attended an Agudah convention, let alone spoke at one.

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: 5
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:08:35 -0600
[Avodah] kiddush question

So a situation came up this past Shabbat.  I was at a friend's house for 
dinner, and another guest made kiddush.  Just as he finished "mekadesh 
ha-shabbat", he noticed that the bottle in front of him, from which the 
wine had been poured, wasn't actually grape wine.

Someone else ran to the kitchen and brought back a bottle of wine, but 
he wasn't sure if he should just drink it or if he should say kiddush 
over it.  I didn't know, either.  So I thought I'd throw it out to you here.

(As a somewhat ironic sidenote, I asked for the bottle of the non-grape 
wine to look at it, and it turned out to be actual grape wine, only 
flavored with elderberries, and marked clearly "Borei Pri HaGafen".  So 
it turned out to be a non-issue, except for the fact that while trying 
to figure out what to do, he waited more than toch kdei dibbur before 
drinking.  But the original question still puzzles me.  And yes, I know 
the real answer is that you should check to make sure it's appropriate 
for kiddush *before* making kiddush, but b'dieved, if that wasn't done.)

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Message: 6
From: saul newman <newman...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:31:37 -0800
[Avodah] katonti

geresh or revi'i....
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Message: 7
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 12:42:15 +0200
[Avodah] How many Korban Pesachs could be sacrificed in 1 day

In addition to our previous discussion of how they could bring a Korban
Pesach for 12 million oli I would also point out that Rambam (see
requires one to bring a korban reiyah (Olay), Chagiga (Shelmamim), Simchah
(Shelmamin) on the first day of the chag.
While Korban Pesach applies to the family unit these korbanot apply to
every male, I assume above the age of 13.

So if there were 12 million olim there were at least 6 million males (in
practice I assume many came without their wives). Generously assume that
1/4 are under barmitzvah that leave 4 1/2
million Bar mitzvah age males each bringing at least one korban olah and
one shelamim for at least 9 million korbanot.

The women were also required to bring the korban simchah, however from the
language of Rambam it is not clear that that had to be on the first day of

Of course on the first day of Pesach there was more time to bring kornbanot
than erev Pesach.
OTOH the korban Pesach was eaten at home while the Olah was left burning on
the alter meaning that over 4 million korbanot olah were sitting on the
mizbeach over the course of the day.

Eli Turkel
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Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 12:23:21 +0200
[Avodah] Safeik and Taaroves

<<I often cite the case of two chatichos shuman and one of cheilev that
got mixed together so that their identities are lost. One person is
permitted to eat all three one after the other. According to the Rosh,
even simultaneously -- such as if all three are mixed into a stew.

I have used this idea repeatedly (first time was back in vol 4, most
revently in vol 29) as one of the underpinnings of my theory that safeiq
has to do with how people identify the item in question, rather than
with statistics.>>

Sorry, didnt understand the connection to statistics. The Rosh is merely
that once the issur is batel it now becomes permitted food and can be eaten.
Thus even if over time many small pieces of issur fall in (and each one is
but in sum there is a rov of issur it still is permitted to be eaten.
(presumanly there is no timtum halev anymore)

(chozer ve-near is a separate issue)

Eli Turkel
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Message: 9
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 12:12:49 +0200
[Avodah] skiing controversy

<<The Skiing Controversy

Regarding the issue of a woman?s dress during
skiing, there is a debate between Dayan Weiss,
zt?l, versus Rav Elyashiv, zt?l, and Rav Ovadia
Yosef, zt?l>>

I was once told in the name of RHS (I did not check it out) that skiing
is forbidden even for men since it is a dangerous sport.

Eli Turkel
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Message: 10
From: "R. Y. Eisenman" <ra...@ahavasisrael.org>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 12:35:46 -0500
[Avodah] [Short Vort] "The Art of Compromise"

One day Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was riding the number 12 bus from
Bayit Vegan where he taught in Kol Torah to his home in Shaarei Chesed.

As he sat immersed in his thoughts an immodestly clad woman boarded the
bus and sat down next to the Rav.

The Rav waited a minute, rang the bell and at the next stop he alighted
from the bus and waited for the next bus.

A student who was escorting him home was surprised at his Rebbe's

"Why did the Rebbe get off the bus? We now have to waste time which
could have been spent studying Torah waiting for the next bus and we
have to pay double for our ride home. It is also cold and damp outside,"
asked the student.

Rav Shlomo Zalman looked at the young student and smiled.

"I had three options in front of me.
- I could have just remained on the bus sitting next to the woman.
  However, this option was eliminated as I did not feel comfortable
  sitting next to her and therefore I realized I had to leave the seat.
- I could have just switched my seat and continued on the bus which
  would save time, money and preclude us from standing out in the cold
  and waiting for another bus. However, the woman would have probably
  noticed my actions and she would be insulted. Therefore the option of
  changing my seat was also removed from consideration.
- The only option left which allowed me to maintain my convictions and
  my comfort while simultaneously not hurting another person's feelings
  was to alight from the bus.
And that's why we are here now."

Rav Shlomo Zalman Zt"l was not willing to compromise his standards;
however, he was willing and wanting to compromise his comfort and
his time.

He did not say to others, "Accept the fact that you must move for I
cannot compromise my standards; and therefore it is 'my way' or 'no way."

Recently we have seen much in the press (Jewish and non-Jewish) about the
problem of couples whose marriages are for all practical purposes over.

However, both sides seem adamant in insisting to agree on one point:
they both cannot compromise.

I do not take the wife's side and I do not take the husband's side.

However, perhaps we should all take a moment to think about Rav Shlomo
Zalman Auerbach Zt"l.

Yet, maybe you will tell me that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach had a
wonderful marriage and if he knew about my particular case he would have
sided with 'my' side?

Maybe he would have. However, let us never forget that too often the most
difficult and intensely emotional and painful of these cases involves the
'fair' distribution of the child (or children) between the two holy sides.

Perhaps R' Shlomo Zalman is not your favorite 'Gadol'.

However, can you possibly ignore the words of another 'Shlomo'?

Let us recall a story from the true book of books?

Remember the two women?

And the other woman said, "Not so, the living (is) my son, and the dead
(is) your son," and this one said, "Not so, the dead (is) your son,
and the living (is) my son." Thus they spoke before the king.

The 'other' Shlomo of years ago said, "Wow, this problem is a hard
one. And there are certainly two acceptable 'sides' to every story."

Our Shlomo did not know what to do:

And the king said, "This one says, 'This (is) my son that lives, and your
son (is) the dead, and the other says, 'Not so, your son (is) the dead,
and my son (is) the living.' "

The 'other' Shlomo finally realized that indeed there are two sides
to this story and therefore he arrived at the first and the original
Solomonic decision in the history of the world.

 And the king said, "Fetch me a sword." And they brought a sword
before the king.

 And the king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to
the one, and half to the other."

The 'other' Shlomo decided that since the two sides both had valid points,
the only 'fair' thing to do was to cut the child in half.

Isn't that fair?

Subsequent to this suggestion the 'true' mother decided it was time to
compromise and she declared:

"O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means slay him."

Sadly, nowadays we seem to be so steeped in our belief that to be a
proud Jew you must never, ever compromise.

Indeed, too many Torah Jews adopt the non-Torah Golda Meir approach of:
"To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or
you don't be"; and by doing so they become more intransigent and obdurate
than necessary at the expense of their child (or children!).

Indeed, when given the choice of: "Divide the living child in two, and
give half to the one, and half to the other"; or of saying "O my lord,
give her the living child, and by no means slay him", they choose to
slay their children.

In fact, by 'standing their ground' they are handing their children over
to the sword.

Maybe we should re-emphasize the study of the Prophets?

Or perhaps at the very least maybe we should re-consider what type of
'Gadol' stories we tell our children?

Are our children being filled with stories of this Gadol or that Gadol
who never deviated or sacrificed even one iota of their long held beliefs?

Are our children having their impressionable heads filled with anecdotal
evidence of how 'all' of our Gedolim never surrendered even the minutest
amount of their principles and never ever compromised with anyone when
it came to what they 'knew' to be correct?

Are our sons and daughters being taught to never say, "O my lord, give
her the living child, and by no means slay him"?

Since when does living a Torah life demand that you give your own child
over to the sword rather than compromise?

Bring back Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zt"l and bring back Shlomo HaMelech!

We cannot afford to continue to sacrifice our children on the
altar-of-being-right as opposed to compromising and allowing our children
to live.

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


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