Avodah Mailing List

Volume 34: Number 87

Thu, 04 Aug 2016

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 22:10:20 -0400
Re: [Avodah] how do you teach emuna?

R' Saul Newman asks:

> is anybody writing / teaching with methods that are not assailable?
> is it even possible to teach in an irrefutable way, or will there
> always be a 'ta shma' on any type of proofs one tries to bring?

If there are any irrefutable proofs, I haven't heard of them. For every
"proof" I've heard for G-d, emunah, etc., there *are* doubts and questions
that can be raised.

However, while some people consider the doubts and questions to be
reasonable and significant, others consider them to be ridiculous and
insignificant. To the latter group, the argument is a valid proof, but to
the former group, the argument is just religious propaganda.

My personal belief is that Hashem designed the world in precisely this way,
lacking any unassailable proofs, so as to insure bechira chofshis, which
would not be possible if any truly unassailable proof were publicized.

As to the question posed by the subject line - "how do you teach emuna?" -
my own method is "by example". By remarking to those around me about the
Niflaos HaBorei, it is my hope that my emunah will be contagious.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Simi Peters
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 09:45:07 +0300
[Avodah] best way to teach emuna

Best way to teach emuna?  Individually, according to the needs of the
student.  It's not a one-size-fits-all proposition.


Absolutely best way to teach emuna?  By example.  If you've thought a lot
about issues of emuna (which is usually a good idea), you can often use your
conclusions to educate your children when they ask questions.  (Remember,
the mitva of hinukh is primarily incumbent upon the parent.)  If your
answers do not satisfy them, it is a good idea to have others to whom you
can direct them for answers.  And that requires openness to other derakhim
as well.  What worked for you, might not work for your children, so letting
them move to the right or the left or somewhere else in the middle (while
continuing to encourage observance of halakha) is a smart hinukh strategy.  


Bear in mind, though, that your child is ultimately a bar or bat behira and
at some point really becomes responsible for him/herself.


Kol tuv,

Simi Peters

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Message: 3
From: Ezra Chwat
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 06:25:19 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Rambam omitting sources.

H Lampel wrote:
"I am unclear how the Rambam gets this peshat in the Mishnah ....[Edyot]
1:5 goes on to explain other rejected opinion, is particular daas yachid
when there is a rabbim, although it could be other quashed opinions
And this is because some day, there may be a beis din empowered (gadol
mimenu bechokhmah uveminyan) who may choose the other side."

No one is more qualified to explain Rambam, than Rambam. In his Perush
'Sharkh alMishnah' in Edyot , he clarifies his understanding of this
Mishnah as only Bdi'eved: "kad 'amal", that is- if there was a Bet Din
that 'already' held and practiced like the minority, their position would
stand until an empowered bet din would overturn it. When the given bet
din originally practiced it, in was not yet a minority opinion. This could
only happen before the conclusion of the Mishnah. After the codification,
the majority becomes Davar Mishnah and the psaq-according-to-minority
would overturned automatically (TB Sanhedrin 33a). A ruling that's not
explicit in Mishnah would continue to be open for plurality until the
conclusion of the Gemara (Rambam MT Sanhedrin 6:1).

"The Rambam's desire to avoid that fuzziness derives from his uniquely
Accumulative approach to halakhah. The majority of rishonim believe that
halakhah is Constitutive."

Very well put. In his introduction to MT, Rambam even holds that
Halakha was universal until the conclusion of the Talmud. Uniformity of
Halakha was only lost in the ensuing 7 centuries. When this too became
unattainable, Rambam allowed himself to return the Torah Sheb'al Peh
to its original condition: "without questions and answers". Rambams
authoritative position ,may have been acceptable in the centralized
yeshivot of Africa, Andalusia and Asia, who were used to poskening
by authoritative post-talmudic Halkhic handbooks (like HG, Rif)
anyway (Shut RI migash 114). Unfortunately for Rambam, this stance was
obsolete-upon-inception in Europe, where local rabbis where still deciding
according to their understanding of the Talmud (Rosh, Sanhedrin ibid).

On the other hand (In Rambam himself, internally, there's always another
hand), in his epistle to Lunel, Rambam appears to agree, at least in
principle, with the Europeans. Here he writes that only because Talmud
study outside of Europe was so shallow, Rambam was forced (Bdi'eved?) to
conceive a uniform Code.

Ezra Chwat

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 22:34:23 -0400
Re: [Avodah] RHS on shabbat - electricity

R' Eli Turkel wrote:
> RHS felt that electricity in general is prohibited on shabbat
> only derabbanan based on a rabbinic metaken maneh. Hence, he did
> not see a major problem is using a toilet that has an automatic
> flush or even an automatic door. Flushing a toilet or opening a
> door is allowed. The electricity is not doing anything that
> could not be done manually.

R' Micha Berger qualified that statement:

> ... assuming that causing light without heat is not havarah.
> Eg the indicator LEDs one often finds on automatic devices,
> like that toilet or door.

I'd like to narrow down that qualification. One could hold that light
without heat is indeed hav'arah, but if the light of this device is
incidental to the device's main function, then it might still be "only"
d'rabanan by virtue of Melacha She'ein Tzricha l'gufa.

As I wrote on these pages in Avodah 17:93, slightly over 10 years ago:

> According to Rav Moshe Heinemann (of the Star-K; in "Guide to Halachos"
> by Nachman Schachter, published by Feldheim, pp 29-30):

>  Activating any electrical device to generate either heat or light or
>  increasing the setting on an electrical device to generate more heat
>  or light is prohibited because of the Melacha D'oraisa of Ma'avir.
>  Examples include intentionally 1) activating a heating pad, 2)
>  activating a light, 3) increasing the setting on a dimmer switch
>  and 4) increasing the setting on an electric blanket.
>  However, activating a device that provides unnecessary heat or
>  light, e.g. a phone with a lighted dial in an illuminated room,
>  is prohibited as a Melachah D'rabbanan.
>  Activating or increasing the setting on any electrical device whose
>  purpose is other than generating light or heat, e.g. a fan, an air
>  conditioner, a timer or an automatic door etc. is prohibited as a
>  Melachah D'rabanan.  ... ... ...

I concede that an indicator light such as RMB described might very well be
a melacha she*tzricha* l'gufa, and therefore d'Oraisa to those who hold
that light is hav'arah even without heat. My main point of this post has
been to illustrate that when the individual buttons of a telephone light up
in an already-lit room, it can still be d'rabanan.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 5
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 11:30:01 +0300
[Avodah] The kashrus status of genetically engineered food

I saw an interesting article
about the kashrut of genetically engineered salmon. They are mixing in DNA
from non-kosher fish to make the salmon grow at a much faster rate and the
question is does the DNA from non-kosher fish make these salmon non-kosher?

This raises fascinating questions about the future of kashrut. How will
halacha deal with these innovations? How will things like lab grown meat be
treated? Will this create a schism between the Charedi world which is
generally conservative in these areas and organisations like the OU? How
will poskim who have no secular education whatsoever, understand and deal
with these kinds of questions? Will these advances make almost everything
kosher (or treif)?
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Message: 6
From: via Avodah
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 01:08:09 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Praising the Bride


From: Micha Berger via Avodah _avodah@lists.aishdas.org_ 

>> Batei Hillel veShammai
was late bayis sheini. This is an  era when Tu beAv included guys picking
our their dates from among the girls  dancing. <<
Micha  Berger              

According to the Book of Our Heritage (Eliyahu Kitov),  the dance  
courtship of Tu be'Av dated back to the  time even before the bayis rishon,  to the 
pilegesh beGiv'ah incident, when it was instituted as a way for the  
decimated tribe of Binyamin to get wives.  Kitov says that on that same  date, the 
ban against women marrying outside their own tribe was repealed.   The day 
that ban was lifted was celebrated as a minor yom tov from then  on.

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 7
From: H Lampel
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 11:15:29 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rambam omitting sources and Rambam regarding

> On Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 09:53:02PM -0400, H Lampel via Avodah wrote:
>: The Rambam, in his response to the criticisms of R' Pinchas HaDayan,
>: addressed this issue explicitly...

>:> See how explicit it is! -- that it is /improper/ to mention anything but
>:> the finally decided-upon halacha alone, and it was only necessary to
>:> mention opposing opinions during those times that some practiced one
>:> way, and others practiced a different way, when some obtained the law
>:> according to one sage's opinion, and some according to another sage's
>:> opinion...

On 8/1/2016 5:19 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
> I am unclear how the Rambam gets this peshat in the mishnah.

> Edios 1:4 says the motive for mentioning both shitos in machloqesin
> between batei Hillel veShammah is "to teach future generations, so that
> a person does not stand on his words. For even the avos holam did not
> stand on their words."

> To teach middos, that others learn for Beis Shammai's (and occasionally
> BH's) example about how to lose a machloqes. Middos without which the
> kelalei pesaq wouldn't work.

First, to clarify, the mishna's question is why the previous mishna(s)
mention(s) the opinions of Shammai and Hillel (not Beis Shammai and Beis
Hillel) *l'batala/l'vatlan,* i.e. when they only to go on to report that
both opinions were ultimately rejected by the Sages.

And in explaining the answer, M'leches Shlomo and Tifferess Yisroel
do take the subjects of "'lo omdu" to be Shammai and Hillel, and
understand the mussar lesson and how we get there as you presented it,
but Rambam (followed by Tos. Yom Tov) and Raavad take the subject of "lo
omdu" to be the Sages, who despite the status of Shammai and Hillel,
the "avos ha-olom," rejected both Shammai and Hillels opinions when
presented with a vetted testimony as to the final decision of the previous
links in the mesorah (and in one case despite the lowly occupation of
those who presented it.) The mussar-lesson is a different one (although
not, of course, a conflicting one).

But to the point of your question: In any case, the Rambam's point is
that the premise of these mishnayos, which their answers do not abandon,
is that the Mishna was primarily composed to present the contemporary
settled and unsettled decisions, not to report formally rejected opinions
and who held them, and only reported disputes if Rebbi considered them
still unsettled, or if people were still somehow practicing the rejected
halacha . The previous three aberrational mishnas are meant to teach
a mussar lesson and are the exceptions that prove the rule. The Rambam
explains that in his Mishneh Torah he follows this system, and we see
that he also only rarely presents a mussar lesson. The issues unsettled
in Rebbi's time were mostly settled since through the darkei pesak of
the Gemora, and the practice of rejected opinions ceased, and so the
Rambam inscribed the legitimate halachos in his Mishneh Torah without
noting the opposing opinions or practices of the past.

> 1:5 goes on to explain other rejected opinion, is particular daas yachid
> when there is a rabbim, although it could be other quashed opinions
> equally.

> And this is because some day, there may be a beis din empowered (gadol
> mimenu bechokhmah uveminyan) who may choose the other side.

Again, not quite the Rambam's payrush on the mishna. The Rambam and
Raavad in his first payrush take it that the first Beis Din, after
deliberation, ultimately accepted the daas yachid. The chiddush is that
a later Beis cannot override the decision of the first Beis Din, *even
to resurrect the former Beis Din's original daas rabbim,*without being
gadol mimmenu b'chochma u-b'minyan. The Raavad supports this payrush
with the Tosefta on this mishna, although he does go on to suggest your
take as an alternate one. (And even so, this limitation, according to
the Rambam (and followed by Tos. YT) is only speaking about laws that
are not derived through darshonning pesukim.)

> Speaking even more generally, the AhS makes a point in preserving the
> full fuzziness of the law. You don't know when you might need a senif
> lehaqail or a din for a seh'as hadechaq, and you need to know the full
> field of divrei E-lokim chaim.

According to the Rambam's letter, this is the function of Gemora, but 
not a halacha code such as the Mishna or his Mishneh Torah.

> The Rambam's desire to avoid that fuzziness derives from his uniquely
> Accumulative approach to halakhah. The majority of rishonim believe
> that halakhah is Constitutive. IOW, the Rambam believes correct pesaq
> is discovered by the poseiq, whereas the dominant position is that it is
> invented. To the inventor, other positions are pieces that go into
> the construction. To the discoverer, they are wild geese to chase.

"Invention" is an ill-chosen word, although if it is to be used at all
it would apply to the Rambam's explanation of a Besi Din Gadol's ability
to re-evaluate the meaning of pesukim. The enterprise of the Tannaim,
Amoraim, Geonim and all Rishonim is to identify (without utilizing
post-Sinaitic Heavenly revelations) and follow the principles behind
the decisions of the previous links of the mesorah, tracing them back to
Sinai to apply them to current situations. I don't understand what you
mean by rishonim using "pieces" to "invent" or "construct" halachos in
a way different from how the Rambam does so. Can you give any specific
examples of pesak contrasting Rambam's with the alleged dominant position?

Zvi Lampel

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Message: 8
From: H Lampel
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 21:01:35 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rambam omitting sources and Rambam regarding

>> [Aidios] 1:5...The Rambam and Raavad in his first payrush take it 
>> that the first Beis Din, after deliberation, ultimately accepted the 
>> daas yachid...
And Rav MiBartenura explains the mishnah this way as well.
>> Zvi Lampel

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Message: 9
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2016 14:00:14 +0300
Re: [Avodah] how do you teach emuna?

Another important comment from Slifkin's blog:

"Steve Savitsky interviewed Rabbi Moshe Benovitz of the NCSY( Savitsky
Talks, "Technology and Social Media: How Are They Affecting the Post-High
School Year in Israel?", 8/1/12, 14:00 in mp3, linked below):

R. Benovitz: ...In the kiruv community, for example, they are coming to
grips with the fact that some of the arguments-- historical arguments,
philosophical arguments-- that like I said a charismatic educator could
tell a person off the street and who would know better, is checked
instantly on a hand held device that?s pulled out of a pocket. If those
arguments do not hold water, then we've done more damage than good. We need
to adjust to that, and we should adjust to that.

Steve Savitsky: Do you have an example of that?

R. Benovitz: ...This is probably beyond the scope of this limited
discussion because there are obviously complexities and layers here. But
examples like mass revelation at Sinai being the only way possible, when
you have challenges from other sources, the fact that Torah seems to have
been forgotten in certain periods explicitly in the Navi and the like. The
chain of the Mesorah-- there is certain reason to believe that were times
where it was if not broken, but then it was down to a precious few; that?s
a challenge, just to use one example, [to that] mass revelation argument of
sorts. [Similarly there are challenges] in the scientific realm, and in the
archaeological realm.

We need to be able to know that there is information at the fingertips of
our students that of course we have answers to, and of course we have ways
of responding to, but to just throw arguments out there, they?re not going
to, nor should they simply accept at face value.

Interview is available here:

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Message: 10
From: saul newman
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2016 08:54:58 -0700
[Avodah] pilegish status


any validity  to this ?
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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2016 11:20:25 -0400
Re: [Avodah] second shoresh of sefer hamitzvot

On Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 02:14:31PM +0300, Eli Turkel wrote:
: 2) Moshe Rabbenu knew only general rules. The later rabbis developed
: details and used the derashot to base them. Similar to grammar (dikduk)
: where people knew intuitively the rules but only many centuries later were
: formal rules developed.

R Dr Moshe Koppel's Metahalakhah... A native speaker doesn't need to
learn formal rules, exept in special and complicated cases. Someone
learning English as a second language is more likely to know what the past
pluperfect is than a native speaker. Similarly, halakhah should be known
as a native speaker. But as we get further from Sinai, more and more needs
to be formalized into rules your can articulate and pass on. (Related:
Rupture and Reconstruction.) Including shakhechum vechazar veyasdum --
Osniel ben Kenaz formalized the laws lost by the cultural collaps of
Moshe's petirah; the AKhG formalized the laws lost when we assimilated
elements of Ashuri and Bavli culture.

Obviously the mishnah was a major step in that direction.

A hora'as sha'ah is kind of like poetic license -- being immersed enough
to know when the grammar can and should absorb being bent despite the
formal rules not having room for it.

Search the archives for Koppel and Metahakhah; I have done better
summaries in the past.

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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