Avodah Mailing List

Volume 32: Number 51

Mon, 24 Mar 2014

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2014 23:55:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Points to Consider

On 21/03/2014 12:43 PM, cantorwolb...@cox.net wrote:
> Another important point to consider: if the laws of kashrut were to
> better us and make us masters over our primal instincts, then
> wouldn?t the Almighty include everyone? If a parent has 10 children,
> he or she would want the best for all the kids.

They are not His children.  See Rashi on 11:2, on precisely this point;
he cites a mashal of a doctor who saw two patients, one of whom would
recover with proper treatment, while the other had no chance.  The doctor
prescribed a strict diet for the first patient, while for the second one
he said to give him whatever he wants.  So also, Yisrael are fit for life
so Hashem commanded us what not to eat, while the nations are not, so He
let them eat whatever they like.

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: 2
From: Michael Poppers <michaelpopp...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 01:05:31 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Nadav and Avihu

In Avodah V32n47, CRW noted:
> I find it mystifying why Nadav and Avihu paid with their life for a sin
we are not even sure of. It says strange fire, whatever that means. Moshe
Rabbeinu's sins of smashing the Tablets and not speaking to the rock seemed
quite serious, and yet, he didn't pay with his life, at least not
immediately. I have seen explanations given which only weakened the
argument. Any new insights? <
The death penalty for a *kohein* deviating from the Divine rules of conduct
can be seen in a few places in the Torah.  Chief Rabbi Lord JSacks'
recent *divrei
Torah* (available in many places, including Toras
have focused on the difference between a *kohein* and a *navi*, and what
happens when one deviates from Divine rules is one example of the
fundamental difference.

All the best from
*Michael Poppers* * Elizabeth, NJ, USA
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Message: 3
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 11:18:19 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Fighting the Taf Guys

RPLL cited Jack Abramowitz from his Jewish Action article:

> I just don?t understand the Sepharadic pronunciation. A *beis* is
>  different from a *veis*. A *kaf *is different from a *chaf*. A *pei* is
> different from a *fei*. So why should a *taf *and a *saf *be the same?
> A *dagesh* (the dot sometimes found in Hebrew letters) has many
> functions. It can double a letter; for example, a *dagesh* in the
> *gimmel* makes the word ?*Haggadah*,? properly transliterated with
> two g?s.

Well, I am also proud of my Ashkenazi heritage and it makes me no less of a
supporter of Israel. But I must pick some nits.

There are six (in fact seven, but that got lost a long time ago, leaving
only a trace in Sefer Yetzirah) letters that are pronounced differently
depending on whether or not they are provided with a dagesh qal. Thus, not
only is tav difrerent from saf and beis different from veis like kaf from
khaf and pei from fei, but so, too, are dalet different from thalet (th as
in the) and gimmel different from rimmel (r as in the French r, not to be
miustaken with the oft mispronounced reish, to be pronounced like the
Spanish r).

Sefardim often differentiate between g and its non derusha (r as in rimmel,
as in French ;-)) counterpart.

For that matter, tav is really different from tet (latter is emphatic) and
sav ought to be different from sin and samakh.

So both Ashkenazim and Sefardim lost some pronunciations over the ages
(never mind some differences might come from different dialects thousands
of years ago), which doesn't make either superior to the other. A superior
dialect would be what Rav Moshe and Rav Henkin supported, and teh Chatam
Sofer and his rebbe Rav Nosson Adler actually did, which was to learn some
of the letters missing from the Ashkenazi dialect, from Sefardim, to create
a more copmlex and full Hebrew. But there is no obligation to do so and it
is not easy. And it won't resolve all questions, only some.

However, I agree that modern Israeli Hebrew comes out on bottom. It
essentially combines the losses of Ashkenazim and Sefardim, to create an
easier but poorer language. Quickly, let's practice together: alef - 'ayin,
kaf - quf, khaf - 'het, rinse and repeat.

(For the record, I actually make many of those distinctions, not only in
prayer, but in speech as well, but it was hard to get there and I sound
funny to some, though I earn the admiration of others.)

Arie Folger,
Recent blog posts on http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/
* Wieviel Feste feiern wir an Sukkot (Audio-Schiur)
* Die ethische Dimension des Schma Jissra?ls (Audio-Schiur)
* Ein Baum, der klug macht?! (Audio-Schiur)
* Podiumsdiskussion ?J?dische Religion zwischen Tradition und Moderne?
* Great Videos from the CER in Berlin
* A Priest Returns to his Faith
* The CER Berlin Conference in Pictures
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Message: 4
From: David Cohen <ddco...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 15:37:37 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Fighting the Taf Guys

[R' Micha:  Please feel free to bounce this post to the appropriate list
(Areivim? Mesorah?) where it belongs.  -- D.C.]

R' Yitzchok Levine referred us to an article in which R' Jack Abramowitz
raised some difficulties pertaining to Sefaradic pronunciation and asked
why the editors of the website for which he writes often insist on its use.

First off, I think that it is entirely reasonable for a website or magazine
to decide on a consistent standard of transliteration.  One can certainly
discuss the relative merits of choosing this system or that system as the
standard, but having *some* standard makes more sense than leaving it up to
each individual author.  I don't see any implied aspersions being cast on
those individuals who use the pronunciation that was not adopted as the
standard for transliteration in a particular publication.

Regarding the comparison to kaf, pay, and bet/bais, I assume that the
author does not distinguish between gimel and ghimel, or between dalet and
dhalet.  The ability of the six BGDKFT letters to accept a dagesh kal does,
in fact, indicate that all six of them had different pronunciations with
and without the dagesh in the Masoretic pronunciation system, but just as
Ashkenazic pronunciation dropped the distinction for two of these letters
(and even in the case of the soft tav, pronounces it as "s" rather than the
Masoretic "th"), standard Sefaradic pronunciation dropped the distinction
for three of them.  The difference is quantitative, not qualitative.

It is certainly true that the Tiberian nikkud system that is universally
used today, with its separate symbols for kamatz vs. patach and for tzere
vs. segol, most closely reflects Ashkenazi pronunciation.  However, the
now-extinct EretzYisraeli nikkud system does not have these separate
symbols, and closely reflects Sefaradi pronunciation.  The fact that Jews
who used Sefaradi-like pronunciation later ended up also using the Tiberian
nikkud cannot be brought as a proof the the superiority of Ashkenazi

All that being said, the underlying issue is the hashkafic questions behind
the fact that in Israel, almost all dati-leumi Ashkenazim below the age of
70 (with the exception of some olim) use Sefaradi (really modern Israeli)
prounciation in tefilah.  As I understand it (largely from a lecture that I
heard on the topic from Prof. Yohanan Breuer a few years ago), when this
practice began to spread in the 5690s, the idea behind it was that the
young people would connect to tefilah and keriat haTorah more if they felt
that it was being done in the same language that they were speaking on the

To some, the idea that we (meaning Ashkenazim, with apologies to those
readers who are not) would change anything about the way that we daven
because of the language being spoken on the street is sacrilegious, and is
the perfect illustration of everything that was dangerous about Zionism and
the revival of spoken Hebrew.  To others, the ability to read the siddur
the same way that one reads the newspaper is the perfect illustration of
how mitzvot can be fulfilled with more meaning in modern Israel, in their
"natural habitat" where they are integrated into everyday life, and
changing our liturgical pronunciation is a small price to pay in order to
achieve that integrated life.

The other hashkafic question -- which is entirely separate in my mind -- is
to what extent, in this era of kibbutz galuyot, we should be striving for a
unified set of "Israeli" practices, vs. sticking to our ancestral minhagim.
 On the one hand, as more and more generations pass since families left
"the old country," and there is more and more "intermarriage" between edot,
it is only natural that with time, the question of whether one's
great-great-great grandfather came from Aleppo or from Vilna will seem less
and less relevant.  On the other hand, conservatism dictates that this
natural process should not necessarily be consciously accelerated, and
given that in our generation, the different edot still very much exist, we
ought to each be "rooting for" (by practicing) our own ancestral customs.

Personally, I am a "card-carrying" religious Zionist who believes that not
just physical presence in Eretz Yisrael, but also living in a modern Jewish
state, allows us perform mitzvos in a way that is qualtatively different
from in the diaspora.  Yet at the same time, I feel very connected to the
past and believe that if we don't use the mesorah that we have received
(which includes our inherited Ashkenazi traditions) as our starting point,
and instead attempt to tear everything up and start from scratch, then we
have nothing.  So the fact that I am conflicted about the pronunciation
question reflects this tension.  As things stand, I see value in remaining
"fluent" in both, and use them each in different contexts.

-- D.C.
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Message: 5
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 11:03:02 +0100
Re: [Avodah] How to Teach History

RHM wrote:

> I am told that Rav Schwab was heavily influenced by the Lithuanian
> type Yeshivos he attended. So much so that he had ?accepted the
> Charedi view that ?RSRH only meant TIDE as a B'Dieved (as explained
> to him by R' Baruch Ber Leibowitz, whiom he consulted about it). He
> later rejected that view and returned to the view that RSRH meant it as
> a L'Chatchila.

No need to be told about it by others. I vaguely recall seeing an essys of
RSSchwab himself describing everything you wrote above. I think it is in
his collected writings, and I believe it to be the same essay where he ends
up coming back to RSRH, but only halfway, distancing himself from RSRH's
eulogy for Schiller.


> This attitie is reinforced by the current successor to R' Schwab, Rabbi
> Zechariah Gelley. He asserted that TIDE is no longer a viable option in
> our day, because we cannot practice it properly without RSRH's guidance

Not Rav Gelley, but his assistant or associate rabbi, Rav Mantel.
Arie Folger
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Message: 6
From: Michael Poppers <michaelpopp...@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 01:17:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] How to Teach History

In Avodah V32n49, RDrYL wrote:
> I knew Rabbi Schwab, ZT"L, personally....the fact the Rav Schwab was a
> Hirschian

RDrYL, kindly (a) define "Hirschian" and (b) list actual facts either
supporting or not supporting your "RSS was a Hirschian" theorem.  Thanks.

In Avodah V32n49, RHM wrote:
> This attitie is reinforced by the current successor to R' Schwab, Rabbi
> Zechariah Gelley. He asserted that TIDE is no longer a viable option in our
> day, because we cannot practice it properly without RSRH's guidance (or
> some other excuse like that). He said so during the celebration of RSRH's
> 200 birthday (IIRC)

I think RHM meant R'Mantel, not R'Gelley.  For one brief report, see this
d.html .

All the best from
*Michael Poppers* * Elizabeth, NJ, USA

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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 15:26:44 -0400
[Avodah] Fighting the Taf Guys

At 02:07 PM 3/23/2014, Lisa Liel wrote:

>So let me understand. You're okay pronouncing a gimmel with a dagesh the
>same as a gimel without a dagesh. You're okay pronouncing a dalet with a
>dagesh the same as a dalet without a dagesh -- /even though it makes it
>impossible to actually extend the dhaleth in Echadh in Kriyat Shma --
>/and you're okay pronouncing a tav without a dagesh the same as a sin or
>a samech. But not pronouncing it the same as a tav with a dagesh?

Yes, yes, yes, .yes, ..

>And never mind the fact that it's not, and never has been "taf", with a
>feh at the end. Originally, the name of the letter was tau, just like in
>Greek (which got it from us). And without a dagesh, it was thau (th as
>in thick). While a dalet without a dagesh was dhaleth (dh = th as in this).

I am fond on quipping, "Only Maskilim are concerned about pronouncing 
Hebrew properly."

All kidding aside,  I think one should keep in mind what Reb Moshe 
Feinstein,  ZT"L,  wrote about following the pronunciation of one's 
father.  This is what I do.

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 06:43:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Fighting the Taf Guys

First, I have to get something out of my system:

TAV, not "taf"!


On Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 09:27:49PM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
> There's a reason this was published in the "Humor" section of the website.

But this article only came up under discussion because it was in the
"related articles" section of the footer to R' Seth Mandel's more
serious piece on the relationship between the different niqud
systems and the various communities' accents

So let's refocus back on that.

Long-time Avodah members didn't need the article to know that RSM is of
the belief that languages evolve, that's what they do, and the search
for the one true pronunciation is meaningless.

That said, speaking as someone who sat near him in shul for Shabbos for
something near a decade, he does try to daven in an authentic, unslurred
Lithuanian Jewish accent. (Partly because there are Yemenites who validate
the historicity of the long /A/ cheilam.) IOW, his reconstruction of
what Litvaks were striving for.

Since I just put words in RSM's mouth, I am CC-ing him for an opportunity
to correct any misimpressions on my part.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
mi...@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

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Message: 9
From: "Mandel, Seth" <mand...@ou.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:39:58 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Fighting the Taf Guys

On Mar 24, 2014, at 6:43 AM, "Micha Berger" <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:
> http://www.ou.org/jewish_action/03/2014/real-story-hebrew-pro
> nunciation
> Long-time Avodah members didn't need the article to know that RSM is of
> the belief that languages evolve, that's what they do, and the search
> for the one true pronunciation is meaningless.

> That said, speaking as someone who sat near him in shul for Shabbos for
> something near a decade, he does try to daven in an authentic, unslurred
> Lithuanian Jewish accent. (Partly because there are Yemenites who validate
> the historicity of the long /A/ cheilam.) IOW, his reconstruction of
> what Litvaks were striving for.

Micha, shame on revealing my secrets!

Micha is correct, as he usually is. But what I said in my article
is correcter. Everything changes. After 30 years, I have adjusted
my own pronunciation in some details. I learned from my rebbe, RYBS,
an important lesson: never stand still. Review what you do every day,
and try to do it better.

I hope I am doing better. But, as I hoped to make clear in the article,
no one knows what "better" except for a very few things, all with
consonants, such as 'ayin vs. 'aleph. I did not have room in the article
to discuss much of anything in detail, so that is my excuse for all the
irate messages I have assumed along the lines, "why did you not mention
pronunciation X"? But I will say for the record that no community I
know of uses the "correct" pronunciation of aleph as a glottal stop.

So much to do and improve, so little time to do it...

Rabbi Seth Mandel
Sent from my iPhone

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Message: 10
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 14:23:42 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Time for the Deceased

R' Micha Berger wrote how Rav Dessler's definition of time was tied to the
experience of bechira. I raised objections, but now I believe that he and I
were talking about different things. I was defining a physical dimension,
and he was defining something which is just as real, but much more

I came to this realization while perusing "An Exalted Evening - The
Passover Haggadah with a commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph
B. Soloveitchik, edited by by Rabbi Menachem D. Genack". On Kadesh, he
writes (referencing "Festival of Freedom"):

<<< A slave is relieved of mizzvot aseh she-ha-zeman geramah, of
intermittent commandments that depend on time. This is because the slave
lacks the time experience. While everything exists in time, only the human
being is capable of experiencing time. God endowed man with time awareness,
the ability to sense and feel time and the existential stream of selfhood.
This time awareness or experience has three basic component parts. First,
retrospection: without memory, there is no time. Second, the time
experience includes exploration or close examination of things yet unborn
and events not yet in existence. This means the anticipatory experience of
events not yet in being. Third is appreciation or evaluation of the present
moment as one's most precious possession. >>>

Nowhere does he mention bechira, as Rav Dessler did, but it seems clear to
me that both are talking about a different sort of time than the time which
quantum physicists talk about. Rav Soloveitchik is explicit that he is
talking not about time itself, but about the *experience* of time, and I
suspect that this is what Rav dessler meant too.

Getting back to the question of time from the perspective of the deceased:
I would suggest that both RMB and I were taking approaches that left out
major pieces of the puzzle. Just about everyone has some sort of
explanation for the idea of Mitzvos Aseh Shehazman Grama. There are a few
more paragraphs from RJBS that I did not quote, in which he distinguishes
between Mitzvos Aseh Shehazman Grama for a woman, vis-a-vis Mitzvos Aseh
Shehazman Grama for a slave, because they are not the same, and a proper
appreciation of the Seder Night requires us to understand what time means
to a slave.

Continuing that thought, if time means one thing to a man, another thing to
a woman, and yet another thing to a slave, then I suggest that it means
still something else to the deceased, and perhaps a careful analysis of the
first categories will help us understand the last one.

Akiva Miller
Old School Yearbook Pics
View Class Yearbooks Online Free. Search by School & Year. Look Now!

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Message: 11
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 22:10:47 GMT
Re: [Avodah] How to Teach History

R' Yitzchok Levine wrote:

> For example, Feldheim keeps printing more copies of the new
> translation of the Hirsch Chumash.   Dr. Bondi,  who is an editor
> of the Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Publication Society and a grandson
> of Rav Breuer, ZT"L, has assured me that TIDE is very much alive
> and well given the constant demand for the writings of Rav Hirsch.

I don't see a connection between (A) the popularity of a perush on Chumash
which tends to explain the words and stories a certain way, and (B) a
philosophy which has a certain approach to involvement with (or insulation
from) the world at large.

If a great portion of his Chumash focused on how the Avos had regular jobs
and/or interacted with the world at large, AND showed how that makes it
incumbent on modern generations, then I would agreed that sales of his
Chumash would indicate support of TIDE. But is that so? Perhaps he
addresses TIDE here and there in his Chumash, but it doesn't seem that
often to me.

Akiva Miller
Fast-Growing Industry
A New Player In The Booming Bottled Water Market.

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Message: 12
From: Liron Kopinsky <liron.kopin...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 22:47:05 +0200
[Avodah] Why We Drink

Any thoughts on the below?
Kol Tuv,

In Parshat Shemini, after Nadav and Avihu are killed, Aharon is instructed
by Hashem not to drink wine when serving in the Beit HaMikdash. Some
commentators even say that Nadav and Avihu?s sin was that they were
inebriated while bringing their sacrifice.

When that commandment is given to Aharon, a reason is also provided:

.?????????? ??????, ???-??????? ?????? . ????? ???????? ???-?????????
?????? ????????? ???????, ?????????? ???-????? ???????????? ???????: ??????
??????, ???????????? .?????????????, ????? ????????? ?????? ?????, ??????
????????, ?????? ????????? .??????????, ???-?????? ??????????????,
????-?????????, ?????? ??????? ?????? ????????, ??????-??????

And HaShem spoke to Aaron, saying: ?Drink no wine nor strong drink, you,
nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, so you don?t
die; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. [In order]
that you may distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the
unclean and the clean; and that you may teach the children of Israel all
the statutes which HaShem told them through the hand of Moshe.?

In other words, the reason why Kohanim are prohibited to drink wine before
serving in the Beit HaMikdash is because the wine will impair their ability
to distinguish between pure and impure and between holy and mundane.

However, this is very strange because almost every time we use wine in
Judaism is in order to make a distinction. We use wine to sanctify Shabbat
and Yom Tov and to make Havdalah as we separate from Shabbat back into the
week ahead. We have wine at a Brit Mila and at a wedding, both events that
fundamentally change the status of a person.

If wine is something that impairs our ability to make distinctions, then
why do we use wine to distinguish things?

I think that the answer can be understood from Purim. On Purim, we drink
??? ??? ??? ??? ???? ??? ????? ????? ? until one can?t distinguish between
cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai?. This doesn?t mean that we simply
get smashed. It means that we have to drink until we realize that there
really isn?t a difference between Haman and Mordechai. At the end of the
day, they were both playing the roles that Hashem gave them. As Mordechai
told Esther:

???-???????? ????????????, ?????? ????????????? ?????????? ????????
???????????? ????????? ?????

If you stay silent at this time, salvation will come to the Jews from
another place.

Haman and Mordechai both had the free will to choose if they were going to
be the individual to play the role, but if it hadn?t been Haman, it would
have been someone else. And if it hadn?t been Mordechai and Esther, Hashem
would have saved the Jews through a different means.

So how does this answer the original question?

Generally, when keeping Halacha, and in particular with the Avodah in the
Beit Hamikdash, we have to be very careful to do things just right. Losing
our discretion can be the difference between doing something right and
doing something grievously wrong.

When we make Kiddish, we make the distinction between Shabbat and the week
that preceded it. But then we drink, reminding ourselves that really the
distinction isn?t as great as we think. Friday is fundamentally different
from Shabbat, but Friday is also a holy day meant to be used in service of
Hashem. And when we make Havdalah, we remind ourselves that Sunday and the
rest of the week are also days to grow spiritually. When we do a Brit Mila,
we celebrate the fact that we are the chosen people, and remember that all
people are created in the image of Hashem. And when we get married, we look
forward to the life we are going to build together, and remember that
someone who is single is also capable of great things.

Also posted here:

Liron Kopinsky
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