Avodah Mailing List

Volume 33: Number 159

Sun, 13 Dec 2015

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2015 22:02:01 -0500
Re: [Avodah] chumrah leading to a kulah

R' Marty Bluke wrote:

> ... You cannot be mekabel shabbos before plag hamincha and many
> of the rishonim (Ramban, Rashba) who hold like R' Tam say that
> plag hamincha is 1/6 of a mil before shkia (they are assuming
> that the day goes from alos until tzeis). Therefore according to
> these rishonim you can't be mekabel shabbos 1 mil before sunset
> it is too early so you do have a chumra becoming a kula.

I want to underscore what he wrote, and I'd like to rephrase it for

Today (Dec 9) in New York City, sunrise was at 7:07 AM, and sunset at 4:29
PM, and so Plag Hamincha - according to the Gra's calculation - was at 3:30

But suppose one were to be machmir like Rabenu Tam, and suppose he chose
(among the many varied understandings of R' Tam) to calculate Plag Hamincha
based on the day beginning 72 minutes before sunrise, and ending 72 minutes
after sunset. He would find that his Plag Hamincha is at 4:27 -- only 2
minutes before sunset!

Such a person would be in a very uncomfortable on Erev Shabbos: If he
lights candles before 4:27, will the bracha be l'vatala? And if he lights
after 4:29, will it already be Shabbos? He has a window of less than two
minutes, and that presumes his clock and calculations to be accurate! I
believe that this is an example of what RMBluke meant: One's attempt to be
machmir like Rabenu Tam ends up being a kula for the Gra.

But one should not think that this problem is a rare one, confined to
specific dates or locations, or to specific ways of calculating Rabenu Tam.
For example, the example above used 72 fixed minutes; the problem is even
worse for those who would use 90 fixed minutes.

The "degrees below horizon" camp has this problem too. I've seen many
calendars use a relatively shallow 8.5 degrees below the horizon for
calculating Motzaei Shabbos. Today in NYC, the sun reached that point at
6:23 AM and 5:13 PM, yielding a MA Plag at 4:05 PM. That gives us about 6
minutes until the published Candle Lighting Time of 4:11, but areas further
north aren't so lucky. In Paris (48.85 degrees north) the MA Plag is only
ten minutes before sunset (read: 8 minutes after Candle Lighting).

Even further north? In Gateshead, if you use "72 equal minutes", then the
MA Plag is 11 minutes AFTER sunset. And even the "8.5 degrees" puts it six
minutes after.

Think it is better in the south? Consider this: Sunset in Yerushalayim
today was at 4:35 PM. If you calculate MA Plag using 72 equal minutes, it
will be at 4:29, which one might think is difficult but possible. Using 8.5
degrees, it will be at 4:03, which one might think is even more possible,
But then one remembers that the minhag in Yerushalayim is to light 40
minutes before sunset -- at 3:55 PM, and then he realizes how impossible it
is to really do ALL the chumros!

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

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2015 22:13:39 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Hallel - sung?

R' Alexander Seinfeld asked:
: Is there a l'chatchila way to say Hallel? Chanted? Sung? In
: unison? Individually?

and R' Micha Berger answered:
> Responsively, I would think. Pesachim 119b says that this was
> the custom in some medinos.

Wouldn't that same Gemara be saying that it was *not* the custom in *other*
medinos? I've seen a recurring thought in Avodah over the years, that if
the Gemara prescribes a particular procedure, that must be the best way. If
we were to apply that principle here, wouldn't it be teaching us that both
ways are equally good?

Going back to the original question, it seems to me that I've often read
about Hallel being sung, especially in the context of the Korban Pesach.
Putting it to a tune seems important, but maybe that's *only* for Erev

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

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2015 13:18:46 +0200
[Avodah] Tochacha - is it a Mitzvah to change the world or

Reb Micha asked:
> Is it Assur to buy [or maybe even eat] chocolate if we may thereby
> be able to improve the treatment of other humans? Are we prohibited
> from buying a product made by child slavery and torture to help change
> industry practices?

> Or is it only like hunting for sport, an activity that is Muttar but
> something Jews should not want to be involved in [eg Nodah biYhudah YD
> 2:10]? AKL=Ad Kan LeShono

But perhaps it is not even to be discouraged, because only about a Yid do
we say that they may/should not engage in such crude activities but is
there any duty or any value to prevent Gyim killing one another? Even
giving Tzedaka to Gyim is not encouraged but for its reflection and
well-being upon Yidden. As is Chillul Shabbos to save the life of Gyim,
ONLY when non involvement threatens Yidden.

The Mitzvah is that of Tochacha but there is no Mitzva to be Mochiach
Gyim - so if it is a Yiddishe business, are we commanded to Mochiach,
is there anything wrong being done? [other than a possible reference to
the NBiYehudah, but there is a significant Chiluk between making Parnassa
and fishing for pleasure/sport] Besides the Mitzvah of Tochacha, must
be continued until they are almost beaten up by those they are trying
to influence. But AFAIK there is no duty to take any action to further
the Tochacha.

Not only is it probably Assur to ACT against them due to Lo Sikom, it
would be Assur as Lo Sikom to even desist doing them a favour, i.e. we
must not desist from eating their chocolate.

But if it is a non-J business is there an Issur altogether??

The reason we may not return lost items to Gyim is that by doing so we are
suggesting we know better than HKBH how to implement His Mitzvos [Rashi
By treating Gyim as we treat Yidden we are also denying the special
relationship that HKBH has created which binds Yidden together.

Meir G. Rabi

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2015 11:04:42 +0200
[Avodah] Definition of a Mechalel Shabbos Befarhesya

Is it not true that the status of a Mechalel Shabbos BeFarhesya is not so
much a reflection upon the actual Aveira but upon the mindset?

The guy who smokes at home during Shabbos is ashamed to publicly display
his mutiny - at some level there is a degree of respect for Shabbos,
although it may well be the smaller part of his motivation.

Whereas the guy who walks down the street on Shabbos, smoking a cigar, is
not just satisfying an urge, or even rebelling between himself and HKBH, he
is wanting to publicly display his disdain for Torah and Mitzvos.

This however would only be true where pretty much the entire town are

Where a significant proportion are not ShShabbos, it cannot be
characterised as being rebellious. Eating Maccas is not an act of
rebellion, walking into the packed Shule with a Maccas pack is an act of

These days most non Frum Yidden do not see driving during Shabbos or eating
Maccas as an act of rebellion - they look at the Frummies waking to Shule
in the rain and the heat the way others look at the Chassidim wearing their
extravagant dress code - it is quaint but actually has little to do with
being loyal to HKBH


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

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Lisa Liel
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2015 17:30:22 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Definition of a Mechalel Shabbos Befarhesya

On 12/10/2015 11:04 AM, Rabbi Meir G. Rabi via Avodah wrote:
> Is it not true that the status of a Mechalel Shabbos BeFarhesya is not
> so much a reflection upon the actual Aveira but upon the mindset?
> The guy who smokes at home during Shabbos is ashamed to publicly
> display his mutiny - at some level there is a degree of respect for
> Shabbos, although it may well be the smaller part of his motivation.
> Whereas the guy who walks down the street on Shabbos, smoking a cigar,
> is not just satisfying an urge, or even rebelling between himself and
> HKBH, he is wanting to publicly display his disdain for Torah and
> Mitzvos.

You could say that, but you could also compare it to geneiva/gezeila.

A guy who smokes at home during Shabbat is afraid of what people will say,
but not of Hashem's judgment, while a guy who walks down the street on
Shabbat smoking a cigar just doesn't really care.


Go to top.

Message: 6
From: via Avodah
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2015 12:42:18 -0600 (CST)
[Avodah] Mention of rain in Shavuos piyyut

One of the piyyutim on Shavuos, intended to be recited in birchas
gevuros in chazaras ha-Sha"tz (it's in the machzor), mentions rain --
either geshem or mattar. I I thought that I saw the issue raised in by
Rav Sternbuch in Mo'adim U-Zmanim but I have searched unsuccessfully
there even for the question, let alone an answer. If anyone has a source
that discusses this issue, I'd be grateful for the information.

Noach Witty

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: David Riceman
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2015 15:22:08 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Halacha as a System and Deriving halachah for


<<Do you view Halacha as a system that seeks a single ultimate original 
truth(or a truth determined prior to a particular point in Jewish 
history) or one focused on a chronologically monotonic historical 
process (i.e. do we care what the Rambam originally thought or only how 
the baalei mesorah understood him through time)? If the latter, is this 
because this is what HKB"H commanded or because the rabbis determined 
this to be how an effective legal system must work?>>


<<It's true that the amora (for example) did not necessarily have the 
case in mind, especially if it involved a new invention he probably did 
not anticipate. But nevertheless he did have in mind an essential 
property (my Rebbi referred to this as the "gedder") that determined his 
p'sak in the case he dealt with, which would also determine the p'sak in 
the case he was not aware of.>>

I think both of these are too simplistic.  One of the complications of 
halacha is that one event in real life might be classified under many 
halachic rubrics.  For example, Hazal say that each judge in a court 
judging a capital crime must cite a different source for his opinion.  
Conversely (and I think I've mentioned this problem here before) just 
because a preponderance of rabbis have ruled a particular example mutar 
or assur doesn't imply that they all used the same rubric.  The SA, as a 
synthetic book, often faces this problem, but one can find examples of 
it even among tannaim (b'X savar Rebbi k'A, ub'Y savar k'B when X and Y 
argue based on one rubric implies that Rebbi used two distinct rubrics).

David Riceman

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2015 12:32:30 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Hallel - sung?

http://www.flipsnack.com/79987ECF8D6/522.html See page 5. Rav Meir Cohen 
attacks musical Hallel (and much of singing in shul), calling it a 
complete distortion of what the Levi'im did (the rav calls the Levis' 
song Avodah, not a method to raise spirits), a poor substitute for true 
spirituality which only makes things worse.

http://www.flipsnack.com/79987ECF8D6/523.html  See page 5. A response 
written by Rav Harel in which he defends the musical Hallels and singing 
in general, bringing several sources to show that this type of prayer is 
exactly what Chazal wanted.

Articles are in Hebrew.


On 12/9/2015 6:31 PM, Alexander Seinfeld via Avodah wrote:
 > Is there a l?chatchila way to say Hallel? Chanted? Sung? In unison? 

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2015 09:54:23 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Chizkiyahu's Seal

On Wed, Dec 02, 2015 at 08:23:42PM -0500, Micha Berger wrote:
: LeChizqiyahu [ben] Achaz Melekh Yehudah (spelled Yhdh, no vav).

: Now to figure out why someone known for stamping out AZ had on his
: seal a two-winged sun with by ankh symbols on each side. The ankh
: is a life symbol, but it is also found in pictures of Egyptian
: deities including pharoahs.

In case someone missed it, discussed on Torah Musings


     The image of the winged sun is clear in Hezekiah's seal. Less clear
     is what it precisely symbolizes. Is the sun here a representation
     of Hashem, as per Ps. 84:12? Or,perhaps, the might of Hezekiah
     himself? Who offers protection, symbolized by the wings again,
     God, or his servant the king? Perhaps the symbol conflates king
     and God. It is difficult to say. What is clear is that the symbol
     in no way suggests that Hezekiah worshipped an Egyptian deity.
     Were that case, the very name on the seal would read "Hezek-Amun", or
     "Hezek-Re". "Hizki-yahu" leaves no doubts as to this monarch's
     I raise this discussion not with the intent of surveying the full
     history of halachic interpretation to this verse, and certainly not
     with the aim of offering halachic guidance on the question today.
     Rather, I raise it with an eye toward how this verse may have
     been understood by a pious Judean king in the 8th century BCE.
     The simple meaning of Ex. 20:20 would seem not to limit such a king
     from employing these images. While the Rambam (Avodah Zarah 3:9)
     adopts the gemaras conclusion forbidding a graven image of the sun
     such as that found on Hezekiah's seal, the debate in the gemara may
     reflect a longstanding difference of opinion on the understanding
     of this verse.
     Josh Berman Dec 10, 15 at 4:43 pm

     In going through the above mentioned thread, I saw a reference
     to an absolutely fascinating source. It is in Midrash Ruth Rabbah
     5:4. There, R. Abun presents a list of celestial entities that have
     wings, with prooftexts. The relevant section reads, We have heard
     that the sun has wings,as it says (Mal. 3:20): But unto you that
     fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing
     in its wings. Even the verse from Malachi is remarkable in and
     of itself, within the context of the seal - [Look up the pasuq at
     <http://j.mp/1lAKUQV>, I can't cut-n-paste the Hebrew. -micha]


Micha Berger             I always give much away,
mi...@aishdas.org        and so gather happiness instead of pleasure.
http://www.aishdas.org           -  Rachel Levin Varnhagen
Fax: (270) 514-1507

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2015 19:00:10 +0200
[Avodah] halacha and history

I saw several things over shabbat that seem to go against known history

1)   *Question:*   Who was the Kohen Gadol at the time of
Chanukah--Mattisyahu--or his father Yochanan
*Answer:*  The Sefer *Shalal Rav* (p. 147-148) presents a Machlokes
Rishonim on this very point.

Obviously neither were kohen gadol at the time of chanukah. Josephus
describes the various successions of the kohen gadol  eg alcimus etc. In
fact Mattisyahu lived in Modiin and not in Jerusalem. It is not clear who
Yochanan is but in any case lived before the story of Chanukah. Some claim
that he is the Yochanan who lived 80 years and became a sadducee which
would make the story even more amazing, In fact it is not clear that the
Maccabees came from the "right" branch of priests to be kohen gadol

2)  From the daf yomi at the beginning of Gittin there arises the question
of the boundaries of Israel.  Tahbetz (3:4) claims that Ezra conquered
(nichbash) the Golan  while it is not clear if the portion of Jordan was
conquered by Ezra,

However it is clear that Ezra (or Nechemia) had no army to conquer anyone.
They had enough trouble with their immediate neighbors and succeeded only
because of Nechemia's connection to the Persian kings. Persia would
obviously not allow the Jews to conquer a far away land. It is fairly clear
that at the time of Ezra/Nechemia the Jews lived in the immediate vicinity
of Jerusalem.

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

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2015 19:13:06 +0200
[Avodah] halacha and history

An additional question

*Question:* When did the Chashmonaim win the war--on the 24th or the 25th
of Kislev--if on the 25th--should not we begin to light on the 26th?

*Answer: *There is a major dispute on this point.  The Meiri (Shabbos 21B)
writes that the victory occurred on the 24th, and the Neiros were lit on
the 25th.  The Pri Chadash brings that it is the opinion of the Rambam that
the victory occurred on the 25th, and that we begin lighting on the night
of the 25th (rather than on the night of the 26th after the victory)
because Chazal established the night of the 25th for future generations to
specifically remember the miracle of the victory in war which had occurred
on that day. The Har Tzvi (by HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Zt?l) has a fuller
discussion of this disagreement in his Sefer on Chanukah, Chapter 2.  The
Har Tzvi actually brings one authority who used a new Menorah on the second
night so that he could make a *Shehechiyanu* on the second night, as
well--making a Shehechiyanu on the first night (the 25th) for the miracle
of the war, and the Shehechiyanu on the new Menorah on the second night
(the 26th)--to also include the miracle of the oil on that night. >>

Actually the war was won many years later. Furthermore it seems that they
entered Jerusalem earlier and waited until 25 Kislev to rededicate the
mikdash. The 25th was picked because thats when the Greeks entered the
Temple and also when Chaggai dedicated the second Temple.

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

Go to top.

Message: 12
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2015 03:07:12 +0000
[Avodah] Judaism's Ecounter With the Outside World

2 very different (as I understand them) audio takes on Judaism's  Ecounter With the Outside World from RIETS Roshei Yeshiva.

Rabbi -Aaron Kahn-drosho Sichas Mussar Chanukah

Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-????? ??? ???? ???: The Perennial Challenge of Cultural Interaction and Halakhic Integrity - LiZecher Nishmas Imi Morasi

I?d be interested in reactions.

Joel Rich

distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
strictly prohibited.  If you received this message in error, please notify us 
immediately by replying: "Received in error" and delete the message.  
Thank you.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list



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 >