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Volume 34: Number 84

Thu, 28 Jul 2016

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:01:35 -0400
[Avodah] Beyond BT: Antidote for Baseless Hatred

I thought this piece was both thoughtful and quite timely for the Three
Weeks, so I wanted to share.


Home > Achdus > Antidote for Baseless Hatred
By Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

I'd like to talk about loving each other freely, and Jewish unity.

An interesting gemara (statement from the Talmud) tells us something we
already know: Jews are the most quarrelsome of people. And the talmidei
chachamim (Torah scholars) are the most quarrelsome of Jews.

Everyone knows the joke about the island where the man built two
synagogues: the one he'll go too, and the one he won't set foot in.
I've been to places like this, where there are several synagogues and
none of them has a minyan (quorum). We do this to ourselves. In Israel,
if there weren't a law requiring that every political party have at
least somebody voting for it, there'd be 5 billion political parties.

There's a famous joke that dates from the beginning of the state.
President Weissman visited President Truman, and Truman asked him,
"So, isn't it something, being a president?" Weissman replied,
"It's incredibly burdensome." Truman said, "What do you mean? I'm the
president of 186 million Americans. You're the president of only one
million Israelis." To which Weissman replied, "No, I'm the president of
one million presidents." This is who we, the Jewish people, are.

The Fragmentation of Truth

The Maharal asks why Jews are so divided. He brings a gemara that lists
many predictions about the world before Mashiach (the Messiah) comes.
One is: "Truth will be absent from the world." The word for absent is
nehederet, which Rashi (the foremost medieval commentator) explains
comes from the word eder, flock. Before Mashiach comes, truth will be
such that every group is like a little flock. And within each flock will
be sub-flocks. The fragmentation will be enormous.

The reason for this, the Maharal explains, is that to Jews, truth is
very significant. We can't be laid-back and say, "You have your truth;
I have my truth; they're both true." It doesn't sit right with us.

At the same time, we each have our own individual access to truth --
and this is what divides us. What do I mean by "access to truth"?

There's a gemara that says that when G-d created the world, He conferred
with all His attributes. He asked Kindness, "Should I create the
world?'" Kindness said go for it. Then He asked Justice. Justice was
much more equivocal.

Then He asked Truth. If you were Truth, what would you say? "Forget it!
There's no place for me in Your world. I can't exist there." Why?
Because the world is defined by time and space, which are subjective.
And subjectivity means no truth.

So what did G-d do? He picked up Truth and smashed it to the earth
so that it shattered. Concerning this, it says in Tehillim (Psalms):
"Truth will sprout forth from the earth" -- meaning there's a little
piece here and a little piece there.

But because we're Jews, when we find our own little piece of truth,
we see it as the whole picture. To give in and say "Maybe what you see
as true is also true" is very painful -- because how can I be tolerant
of your view and still be a person of truth?

Because of this, the gemara says Torah scholars are the least accepting
people, because for them truth is The issue. Either something is true,
or it's not.

In the era before Mashiach, the yearning for the whole picture, in which
each fragment of truth joins with the others and forms something larger,
becomes very great. But it's presently beyond our grasp.

Different Kinds of Truth

This is one reason for our disunity. It's not just ego. It's not just
limitation. It's the fact that we care about truth, and we're unwilling to
move from our position. The question is: Is this something we should adapt
to, or move beyond? And if we move beyond it, do we still retain truth?

We can get an idea by looking at the classical example of Beit Hillel
(the house/school of Hillel) and Beit Shammai (the house/school
of Shammai). They disagreed about a lot of things. And the Talmud's
conclusion, "These and these are words of the living God" -- i.e. they
both speak truth -- doesn't seem to work. How could they both speak
truth while saying different things? It's nice, but is it honest?

Let's look at an illustration of their differences. In the times of the
Mishnah, people would dance before the bride singing songs about her.
The Mishnah asks: How do you dance before the bride? -- i.e. what do you
sing about her? Shammai's school of thought was: Tell it like it is.
"The bride is nasty, vindictive, selfish" -- say the truth. Hillel,
on the other hand, said that no matter what she's like, say that she's
kind and nice (as the groom undoubtedly thinks).

The gemara explains that this dispute is really about the nature
of truth. Is truth in the mouth of the speaker or in the ear of the
hearer? Shammai would say it's in the mouth of the speaker. If you
believe in truth, make sure nothing false comes out of your mouth.

Hillel disagreed: Truth is in the ear of the hearer. What's important
is not so much what you say as how it's received.

Let me give you an example. Suppose I said about my neighbor, "He isn't
going to be arrested." If he's done nothing criminal, that's certainly
true, but what image is created in the listener's mind? Or how about,
"He's not being charged with wife-beating." Again, this is true, but
the image that he may be beating his wife is false. And that image is
created because the listener is who she is.

Now, Beit Shammai would say that's the listener' problem -- let her
learn not to hear what isn't said. Hillel would say you can't expect
her to do that -- hearing what isn't said is the human condition. The
halacha (Jewish law) is according to Hillel. But both are equally valid
interpretations of truth.

When Mashiach comes, we'll rule according to Shammai, meaning that
we'll have to take responsibility for how we hear truth. If we yearn for
messianic perfection, what does this mean? It means we have to learn to
hear the truth, no matter what it sounds like or whom it's coming from.

Dealing with Differences

We see truth differently because we have different personalities and
experiences. Imagine a nice, empathetic person, the kind who could
easily attach to anything -- the kind who cries when she sees ads for
Kodak moments. If you convince her that someone is persecuted, she'll
immediately side with him.

Now picture an entirely different person -- one who loves reality. "I
don't want to know your feelings about the sunrise -- I want to know how
hot it is. The people in the Kodak moment are not real -- they're actors
who don't even know each other. Lassie will not come home." Such a person
won't automatically empathize with someone portrayed as a victim. She'll
be concerned with truth and justice.

So the first problem in dealing with interpersonal differences is that
we tend to see the world through our own eyes. The only person who rose
above this was Moshe (Moses). The gemara says that Moshe saw through an
"aspaklaria meira," "clear glass." The rest of us see things through
the shadings of our personality and experience. So two people can see
the same thing, but not see the same thing.

The other factor influencing our vision is experience -- our circumstances
and upbringing. Different people are raised to see the world in different
ways, and can wind up with completely different frames of reference.

For example, a student of mine, before she was religious, had an abortion
clinic. She's an extraordinarily compassionate person who believes
very strongly in life. But her education taught her to see only the
mother's life and needs. She therefore concluded that abortion equals
compassion. As soon as she realized that compassion includes the unborn
child, her perspective changed.

Unfortunately, none of us will ever see things as clearly as Moshe. Our
middot (character traits) aren't perfect, and neither is our education.
So we see as far as we can, but it's not far enough. The only truth we
can rely is the Torah, because it comes from G-d and not us.

One rule, then, for getting beyond the issue of "your truth" versus "my
truth" is to question whether or not your picture of truth fits G-d's
truth. If the answer is no, then you may have to accept the fact that
your vision is limited.

Posted in Achdus

(C) 2016 Beyond BT

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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:25:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Beyond BT: Antidote for Baseless Hatred

> The Mishnah asks: How do you dance before the bride? -- i.e. what do you
> sing about her? Shammai's school of thought was: Tell it like it is.
> "The bride is nasty, vindictive, selfish" -- say the truth. Hillel,
> on the other hand, said that no matter what she's like, say that she's
> kind and nice (as the groom undoubtedly thinks).

This is not the pshat at all.  Beis Shammai certainly didn't say one should
sing about the kallah's defects!  What they said was that one should praise
whatever qualities she has, and ignore her defects.  If you can't say
anything nice, say nothing, but there's always *something* nice to say.

Whereas Beis Hillel said *every* kallah should be described as "na'ah
vachasudah", regardless of whether these are in fact among her qualities,
because these qualities are expected of every kallah, so by omitting them
from her praises one may as well be shouting from the rooftops that she
lacks them.

Zev Sero               Meaningless combinations of words do not acquire
z...@sero.name          meaning merely by appending them to the two other
                        words `God can'.  Nonsense remains nonsense, even
                        when we talk it about God.   -- C S Lewis

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:19:58 -0400
Re: [Avodah] lo yilbash

On Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 01:16:19PM +0300, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
: How is the prohibition of "lo yilbash" affected by gener neutral clothing

I am unclear as to what the question is. If it's not exclusively women's
clothing, what's the hava amina to say there is a problem?


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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:12:43 -0400
Re: [Avodah] on current day nezirus

On Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 09:41:26AM -0700, saul newman via Avodah wrote:
: http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2016/07/interesting-psak-a
: nnulling-vow-of.html
: is hatarat nedarim sufficient to remove nezirus status? of a kattan?

Yes, nezirus is a kind of neder. RSRH would say that they're connected
roots -- /nzr/ vs /ndr/, given that both /z/ and /d/ are articulated
with the teeth.

See Nazir 62a for a discussion of hataras nedarim of nezirus. It's

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Life is a stage and we are the actors,
mi...@aishdas.org        but only some of us have the script.
http://www.aishdas.org               - Rav Menachem Nissel
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:55:29 -0400
Re: [Avodah] halacha in changing times

On Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 06:27:55PM +0300, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
: According to recent daf yomi an animal that eats food in a public
: thoroughfare the owner is not liable because animals have a right to walk
: there. (BK 14 ...)

The gemara distinguishes between two beraisos by saying that the one
that says that the owner of the cattle is not liable is speaking of a
chatzeir hameyuchedes lezeh ulezeh -- bein lepeiros bein leshevarim. As
opposed to R' Yoseif's bereisa, where the chateir meyuchedes lepeiros
ve'einah meyuchedes leshevarim.

So it seems ot be more about how people plan on using the space than on
whether they have the technical right to do so.

: Does the halacha change in modern times when animals don't walk down a
: public street.

So I think the animal's owner is liable, but not because the halakhah
changed -- and I am not ruling out it could change -- but because the
other beraisa applies.

As for whether it could change if needed, it might be related to basar
kafui and chalav hacompanies. Some see melichah within 3 days and chalav
yisrael as taqanos that apply even when the reasons don't. Some see
them as taqanos, but do not apply to the current situation for other
reasons. And yet others see them as pesaqim in pre-existing dinim, and
therefore of course they no longer apply if the realities they presume
do not apply.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
mi...@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 6
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2016 17:06:24 +0300
Re: [Avodah] halacha in changing times

> As for whether it could change if needed, it might be related to basar
> kafui and chalav hacompanies. Some see melichah within 3 days and chalav
> yisrael as taqanos that apply even when the reasons don't. Some see
> them as taqanos, but do not apply to the current situation for other
> reasons. And yet others see them as pesaqim in pre-existing dinim, and
> therefore of course they no longer apply if the realities they presume
> do not apply.
> The question is whether there is a difference between "issur ve-heter" and
financial halacha

In kinyanim (4th perek of Baba Batra) it is pretty clear that the entire
perek is talking
about what is assumed to be included in a sale would change with the times.
My question is whether responsibility for damage would also change as what
is assumed to accept (animals wlaking down the middle of the street) changes
with the times

kol tuv
Eli Turkel

Eli Turkel
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Message: 7
From: Sholom Simon
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:57:17 -0400
[Avodah] Minchas N'sachim

Why does the torah tell us -- so many times -- that the minchas 
n'sachim contains 3 issaron of flour per par; 2 issaron per ayil, and 
1 issaron per keves.

L'chora, it seems a bit redundant, no?

I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this question!

Does anybody have any insights?

-- Sholom

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:08:37 -0400
Re: [Avodah] birchat kohanim

On Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 06:14:45PM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: But Minchas Yitzchak says that the real reason is that our kohanim's yichus
: is uncertain, so every time they duchen they are risking an avera.

Which is? The worst they did was recite three pesuqim. I know many
fathers who are not kohanim who use these pesuqim when blessing their
children Fri night.

And if there is a safeiq, how can they make a birkhas hamitzvah --
safeiq berakhos lehaqeil?

(There are other cases where the safeiq ends up lehaqeil, eg not showing
kavod to a niftar who earns it but is short of parents or a rebbe muvhaq.)

I take it this means the MY would not give a terumah to pircheiq kohanim.
Unsurprising, for a Galizianer -- or any Ashkenazi, the people who
(in chu"l) have this minhag WRT duchaning as well.

: Therefore, just as a safek kohen only takes teruma once a year so as not to
: lose his status, so also our kohanim only duchen on those occasions when it
: would be obvious if they abstained, and people would talk.

But isn't this circular? We only don't mutter about the kohein abstaining
from duchaning on a weekday or Shabbos because we removed the norm of
doing so. So why did the minhag go to every Yom Tov and not just Yom
Kippur -- also once a year?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You cannot propel yourself forward
mi...@aishdas.org        by patting yourself on the back.
http://www.aishdas.org                   -Anonymous
Fax: (270) 514-1507


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