Avodah Mailing List

Volume 34: Number 146

Sun, 13 Nov 2016

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 20:59:19 +0200
[Avodah] questions about krias hatefillah

from wikipedia

The language of the Amidah most likely dates from the mishnaic
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mishna> period, both before and after
the destruction
of the Temple <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_in_Jerusalem> (70 CE)
at which time it was considered unnecessary to prescribe its text and
content.[5] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amidah#cite_note-5> The Talmud
indicates that when Rabbi Gamaliel II
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamaliel_II> undertook to fix definitely the
public service and to regulate private devotion, he directed Samuel ha-Katan
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_ha-Katan> to write another paragraph
inveighing against informers
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage#Agents_in_espionage> and heretics
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy_in_Judaism>, which was inserted as
the twelfth prayer in modern sequence, making the number of blessings
nineteen.[6] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amidah#cite_note-6> Other
sources, also in the Talmud, indicate, however, that this prayer was part
of the original 18;[7] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amidah#cite_note-7> and
that 19 prayers came about when the 15th prayer for the restoration of
Jerusalem and of the throne of David (coming of the Messiah) was split into

From numerous gemaras it is obvious that the exact details of many brachot
were not detailed
 for many generations. It is obvious as Micha points out that some form of
the amidah is
from second Temple times. The question is how rigid it was until R Gamaliel
and even later

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

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 13:59:01 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Questions about Krias Ha Torah

On Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 11:01:35PM +1100, Isaac Balbin via Avodah wrote:
: Why does change worry you? Mixing Fish and Milk is the Science of the
: Tannoim but it is wrong today.

Yes, in general, but for this example -- not necessarily. You take the
Rambam's shitah for granted. Most of us did not drop this one when the
rest of their medical advice was dropped with a "nihtaneh hateva".

But how is this related to R/Prof Levine's question? He asked about the
way in which we fulfill a mitzvah change just because halakhah allowed
a range of possibilities and the norm changed. And if mitzvos did once
have such room for variation, "why is there so much emphasis in Judaism
today regarding doing mitzvas in a very precise and prescribed manner?"

You raise a different topic, how the application of the very same
halachic position will produce different results if the situation or
our understanding of the situation changes.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Worrying is like a rocking chair:
mi...@aishdas.org        it gives you something to do for a while,
http://www.aishdas.org   but in the end it gets you nowhere.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 14:29:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] tefillin on chol hamoed

On Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 12:58:27PM -0500, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: That there is such a thing as minhag shtus is an explicit Tosfos on
: the first amud of Bava Basra (dh Bigvil).  In general, to be binding
: a minhag must have been established with the consent of a talmid
: chacham; if it just arose organically it's not a minhag.

See my post of Tue 11:33am EST, where I argue that minhagim are grass
roots and just arise mimetically. They may (c.f. Rambam Mamrim 2:2)
require validation from a rav after creation to qualify. But I'm not
sure. E.g. the Ran says minhag is binding as neder (derabbanan; built
through chazaqah) and the Rambam says (according to RMSoloveitchik)
the problem is perishah min hatzibbur -- neither relies on rabbinic

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "As long as the candle is still burning,
mi...@aishdas.org        it is still possible to accomplish and to
http://www.aishdas.org   mend."
Fax: (270) 514-1507          - Anonymous shoemaker to R' Yisrael Salanter

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Zev Sero
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 14:40:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] tefillin on chol hamoed

On 10/11/16 14:29, Micha Berger wrote:
> See my post of Tue 11:33am EST, where I argue that minhagim are grass
> roots and just arise mimetically. They may (c.f. Rambam Mamrim 2:2)
> require validation from a rav after creation to qualify. But I'm not
> sure. E.g. the Ran says minhag is binding as neder (derabbanan; built
> through chazaqah) and the Rambam says (according to RMSoloveitchik)
> the problem is perishah min hatzibbur -- neither relies on rabbinic
> authority.

I don't have references handy, but there's a lot of shu"t on the subject 
saying that without the endorsement of a rav, it's not a minhag.

Zev Sero                Hit the road, Jack
z...@sero.name           but please come back once more

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 15:04:42 -0500
[Avodah] The Role of Indoctrination in Chinukh

I think R' Eliezer Eisenberg's (CC-ed) post deserves a larger discussion.
Please see "Pavlovian Conditioning: The Role of Indoctrination in
Religious Education" at <http://j.mp/2eNWBDe>.

It reminds me of discussions as an NCSY advisor about the lines between
religion and cult, and which side of the line /we/ were on...

Tir'u baTov!

Beis Vaad L'Chachamim

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pavlovian Conditioning: The Role of Indoctrination in Religious Education

My brother recently remarked that the putatively higher OTD rate,
rachmana litzlan, in the Litivishe/rationalist community as compared
to Chasiddishe/Kabbala oriented community is evidence of the latter's
greater authenticity. I responded that the OTD rate says nothing about
validity of the mesorah.

Which brings me to this question. What is the place of conditioned
response in religious education/inculcation/indoctrination? When I say
conditioned response, I mean Pavlovian training and its less offensive
but fundamentally the same other forms of indoctrination. Or call
it brainwashing. There's no gettin away from words with negative

I remember hearing of a scene in a movie about communists going into
children's classrooms and telling a child to pray to God for candy,
and of course, nothing happened. Then the children were told to pray
to Stalin, and handfuls of candy were showered down upon them. The
children would then associate the sweet reward with putting their faith
in comrade Stalin. This is a fiction, of course, but I use it as an
example of how children can be conditioned. I found it, of course,
on Youtube. This is the scene from the movie, "Europa, Europa"

We find such such devious manipulation horrible, planting a conditioned
response in people as if they were animals, tricking them into "believing"
by throwing candy. But....

Putting honey on the letters of the Aleph Beis for a child is not the
only example. The song is about "Ve'ha'arev na," and sometimes, you
need a little help to feel that areivus, that joy and pleasure. So is
it right or wrong? Should our schools be phlegmatic stoa of reason?
And the truth is that all reward and punishment is a form of
conditioning. Are all forms morally defensible? Do we draw the line at
some arbitrary point?

I sent this question to three people whose opinions I respect. Each of
them is a talmid chacham of very high standing far beyond rabbinic
certification, a scholar, a decent person, and a PHD.  One said
something absurd, which I'm not reproducing.  Here are the others.


I'm sure you are correct that the OTD rate says nothing about the
validity of the mesorah. In addition, I highly doubt that the
Chassidishe community has a lower rate. Not long ago I read an
article which approximated that 1,300 adults leave Orthodox Judaism
in Israel each year; the individual cases portrayed were all
Chassidic. ( Think of the multitudes of Russian and Polish Jews who
arrived in America during the first quarter of the last century who
came from Chassidic backgrounds and whose children cast off their
ancestral past with lightning speed).

I shall answer your second question first. No, our schools should
not be phlegmatic stoa of reason. One of the main problems within
the orthodox world is the lack of any sense of personal religious
experience and inner feeling. As adults, our emotional depths are
barely, if ever stirred  during much of our religious observance.
Most of us soldier on like automatons, going through the motions and
all the while feeling quite cold and detached from what we're doing.
Orthodoxy is thus redefined as "Orthopraxis" and its' adherents are
viewed as soulless bodies. It is to avoid such a situation, that Rav
Kook z"l sought to incorporate a full program of instruction in
poetry, music  and art in his yeshiva. He wanted his students to
give expression to their souls, to cultivate their inner depths
through those human arts which he thought  nourished refinement and
sensitivity.  ( Alas, these plans were never carried out.)

Which brings me to your first question concerning the role of
conditioned response in religious education. I am against it for the
reasons you mentioned; it is devious and manipulative. Even more
basically, it offers a false picture of reality which will be
realized as such when these children grow up and lead them to
abandon Judaism which they will now identify as a web of lies into
which they were entrapped. Conditioned response is different though
from other quite legitimate methods of encouragement and motivation
which form a natural part of the educational process, e.g. awarding
praise and prizes for academic excellence, ( candy for memorizing
bentshing, a sefer for learning ten blatt gemara ba'al peh , etc.
etc.).  In addition, it is absolutely appropriate to make the school
environment as pleasant and beautiful as possible so that the child
will associate learning with things delightful and pleasing to all
the senses. ( Just as we all remember and identify the shabbosim and
yomim tovim of our youth with the sweet smells and tastes of our
mother's cooking, of the flowers on the table and lovely appearance
of the table settings, etc. )


Dear R' Eliezer

Thank you for your interesting note/query. It's never an imposition
but I have no clue why anyone would think I'm qualified, not to mention
uniquely qualified, to address it. [please don't post this anywhere on
the internet under my name] There are several questions here, and I can't
quite follow the logic of the whole. Regarding OTD: I don't know where
the statistic came from. I don't know anyone who keeps statistics about
OTD for either of these religious communities. Certainly, dubious numbers
could not lead to any claims about a phenomenon that has been part of our
history since antiquity. It is structurally a case of a tiny minority
in a large and alluring culture; there is always attrition and always
has been. (remember the Hellenistic Jews of bayit sheni, the converts
to Christianity in medieval Europe--all were OTD in their own day)
The reasons that any individual has for choosing a different life path
from the one they were born into are too many to list and only a small
percentage are based on the perception of greater rationalism. Personal
conflict with the parental home, social or psychological issues,
lifestyle choices, partners from another community or disillusionment
with religion are just some of the reasons--no two people leave for
the same reason. I don't believe it has to do with "truth" of the
society they are leaving.All people are raised with a view of the
world that is inculcated in many ways. Knowledge imparted can leave a
greater impression when other senses are called in: we sing the ABC's,
enact historical events and wars-- historical traditions need ritual,
narrative, etc to be transmitted and remembered over generations.

This is a technique that every teacher and parent uses, and the teachers
and parents who inculcate Torah are using the best available. It is only
brainwashing when the adults doing it know it to be false or dangerous,
and they persist because they need their jobs (or afraid for their
lives). Tricking children for Stalin is to knowingly perpetuate a lie;
lovingly admitting children into the mystery of literacy is not on the
same plane in any sense that I can think of.That's my two cents worth.

In any case, I think the common denominator is that a just and moral
society has the right and even a moral obligation to propagate its
fundamental beliefs, and if conditioned response training does it, that
is fine. I guess that's true. There are things that children simply will
not pick up on their own, from manners to toilet training to any physical
or mental discipline, and you have to impose these thing upon them.
If Pavlovian conditioning does it, so be it.

I know this is not a new question for educators, but it's the first time
I'm thinking about it seriously. Here are some papers I found online on
this topic: I only glanced at them, but they did not immediately strike
me as absurd, so maybe they have something to offer.

How to use this Website

Divrei Torah with a personal style and perspective; it may be negiyus
but we enjoy them. Also, there is the occasional excellent insight.
These Divrei Torah are collaborative and iterative. Thanks to erudite
and opinionated readers, posts almost never make it to the end of the
week unchanged. If it doesn't make sense in the beginning of the week,
check back later.
Some of these posts might require an investment of time and thought.
While others are just divertissements and trifles, if you find nothing
worthwhile here you're probably not paying enough attention. *** The
writer of these posts is neither emotionally needy nor a narcissist; he
writes for the pleasure of dialogue, for the benefit of intelligent
criticism (which is incorporated into the evolving post), and so that
readers might enjoy a novel Dvar Torah, *** The yeshivishe jargon may
put some people off. This writer doesn't understand Pound or Derrida,
and he is not expecting them to accommodate him. *** A long time ago,
the author received Semicha from Rav Rudderman (1977) and Reb Moshe
(1985). Those yellowing documents are insufficient to establish the
validity of his current opinions in halacha or hashkafa. Reliance on
his opinions can only be the product of credulity or indifference. ***
The writer can be contacted at eliezere at aol.

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 21:22:18 -0500
Re: [Avodah] questions about krias hatefillah

R' Eli Turkel wrote:

> Many machzorim have piyutim in the midst of berachot kriat shema
> but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Yes, but as far as I know, *everyone* includes Kel Adon every Shabbos
morning. Would this count as an exception to that?

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

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: via Avodah
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 01:15:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Practice During the First and Second Bais


From: "Prof. Levine via Avodah"  <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>

Are you asserting that Torah shel Baal  Peh was not given with 
precision and definitiveness?  If so,  then  this is a chidash to me.


I'm sure you know the answer to your own question but here is a brief  
answer anyway.
[1] Some of the halachos that were given to Moshe Rabbeinu ba'al peh  were 
forgotten over the course of centuries, especially after the churban bayis  
sheini, with the mass deaths and dispersions that occurred at that  time.  
This was precisely the reason the chachamim began to write  the Mishna and 
later the Gemara -- because they saw that details were being  forgotten.
[2] Some of the original laws were davka not given with precision and  
definitiveness.  For example, there was an obligation to daven but the  exact 
wording of brachos and tefillos was not given on Har Sinai.
[3] Over time there were many enactments made by Chazal.  Holidays  (Purim 
and Chanuka) and fast days (Tisha B'Av et al) were added to the Jewish  
calendar to commemorate historical events, and the laws specifying how these  
days were to be observed were, needless to say, not handed down on Sinai.   
There were also enactments like declaring chicken to be fleishig, or the rules 
 of muktza, and many more.  If you were magically transported back in time  
and invited to share a Shabbos meal with Dovid Hamelech, you would hardly  
recognize his religion.  (He wouldn't recognize your religion,  either.)
[4] Finally, and most dramatically, with the importation of  potatoes from 
the New World, ancient chulent and kugel recipes were  rendered obsolete.  
--Toby Katz


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

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 11:01:07 +0200
[Avodah] aliyah to EY

This week's parshah has (at least) 2 problems.
1) At the nd of Noach Terach and Avraham head to Canaan. No reason given
for leaving Ur Kasdim and for going to Canaan.  They stop in Charan. Then
in Lech Lecha G-d commands Avraham to go to Canaan.

2) Pesukin 4 and 5 from the beginning of Lech Lecha seems to repeat the
same idea that Avraham went to Canaan

Answer I heard this morning:
There are two types of aliyah to EY: both legitimate
1) Person leaves a place because of persecution or economic reasons etc.
Once leaving already he goes to EY rather than somewhere else because EY
has something special about it.
2) One goes to EY because it is a mitzva (on whatever level)

Terach  (and Avraham) leave for EY for some reason  i.e. (1). Once in
Charan Avraham continues for reason (2).

The Zohar explains that G-d doesn't just help people. Once one starts on
one's own then G-d helps. So once Avraham started the journey to Canaan but
stops for some reason then G-d comes and  helps/commands Avraham to

Historical examples
1) Ramban leaves for EY only several years after the debate in front of the
king. Rumor has it that he had to leave because he distributed the
deatils of the debate with his arguments against Xtianity. Once he leaves
he goes to EY at the age of over 70.

2) Tamidei haGra and Talmidei of Besht leave for EY because it is a mitza.
i.e. they feel an active desire to move to EY

3) Herzl and many later zionists move (or at least advoacte moving) because
of anti-semitism in Europe. Once leaving they want a Jewish homeland in EY.
The Uganda proposal was not adopted.

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

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 11:33:10 +0200
[Avodah] chinuch

> I had another idea a few days ago. I would like to suggest that
> mitzvas chinuch does NOT require us to concoct halachic mechanisms to
> enable the katan to do the mitzvos with all its details. Rather, it
> is totally acceptable for a child to do a mitzvah in a partial manner,
> and the parent is doing his chinuch thereby, provided that the parent
> explains this to the child... >>

Thew key word is "partial manner" . POskim state that one should not give a
4 minim that are pasul because that is not chinuch. In davening the child
does not have to say everything but it has to be at least a partial
davening, i.e., complete portions and not half of many things.

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

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 05:53:26 -0500
Re: [Avodah] chinuch

On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 11:33:10AM +0200, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
: 4 minim that are pasul because that is not chinuch. In davening the child
: does not have to say everything but it has to be at least a partial
: davening, i.e., complete portions and not half of many things.

I understand 4 minim, which is all or nothing.

But in terms of davening, there is a qiyum of a partial manner. For
that matter, there is a baseline -- not partial -- qiyum of every
mitzvah one can fulfill davening beyechidos with just saying from
Birkhos Shema through E-lokai Netzor. (For that matter, you can --
and some rishonim hold you should -- skip much of Yotzer Or, and not
say Qedushah biychidus.)

But in any case, there is partial or complete qiyum in partial portions
too. A serious lack of hiddur. Jumping right into Shema without Pesuqei
deZimra will almost certainly be a Shema with less kavanah. Aside from
losing the opportunity (Berakhos 4b) to be assured of olam haba by saying
Tehillah leDavid (Ashrei) 3x daily.

So why would this rule not imply teaching a qatan (eg) the chasimos
of birkhos Shema first, so that they can have a qiyum of saying all
three earlier?


Micha Berger             What you get by achieving your goals
mi...@aishdas.org        is not as important as
http://www.aishdas.org   what you become by achieving your goals.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              - Henry David Thoreau

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 05:34:29 -0500
[Avodah] How to Pasken - R Asher Weiss

From <http://en.tvunah.org/2016/11/11/psak-halacha>, R Asher Weiss's
opinion on some of our perennials.


Beit Midrash for Birurei Halachah Binyan Zion
Under the Leadership of Maran HaRav Asher Weiss Shlita
For the Zechut of R' Zion Hilu

Psak Halacha
Posted by: Rabbi Akiva Dershowitz
In: Miscellaneous Halachot, [Kelali] Tags: halacha, mesores, tradition

> Shalom le Kvod Harav

> I have some questions about the rules of the Psak Halacha.

> Every person who learns Gmara with Rishonim and then Tur, Beit Yosef,
> Darkei Moishe and Shulchan Aruch with Poskim sees that there are different
> opinions on one topic. For example we have Psak of Mechaber and Ramo
> who contradicts him and then Taz disagrees with Ramo and Shach has his
> own opinion, and then Pri Megodim paskent his own psak and so on...

> 1. So if a person comes to a Rabbi according to whom the Rabbi is
> paskening?
> Only Pri Megodim? Or Aruch Ashulchan? Or the Rabbi can give the Psak
> according to Taz or Shach?

A qualified Rav will have the expertise and training to know which of
the opinions is the "mainstream" generally accepted by opinion to rule
in accordance with, as well as which other opinions may be relied upon
in extenuating circumstances.

> 2. Can a Rabbi pasken for example according to the Psak of the Rambam
> or Rosh or there is a rule that we are pasken only according to Achronim?

Our psak is based on the Shulchan Aruch and Rama with the opinions of
the great poskim after them [mentioned above]. Generally, one can not
over ride their psak because of an opinion in the Rishonim which was
not codified.

> 3. And if there is a Machloket for example between Rav S.Z. Oerbach and
> Rav Ovadia Yosef can a Rav give a Psak to a ashkenazic person according to
> Rav Ovadia, or to a sephardic person according to Rav Oerbach, or there is
> a rule that is not allowed and Rav should pasken to Sepharadim according
> Sephardic Poskim and to a Ashkenazim according to Ashkenazic Poskim?

Certain areas of halacha are dependant on whether you follow Sefardi
or Ashkenazi custom, while aside from that there are many areas where
the above luminaries argue in areas not connected to specific lineage
in which case a Rav may pasken with either ruling he deems correct.

> 4. And how about Orach Chaim should a Rav Pasken according to Mishna
> Brurah, or if he wants he can pasken according to Baal Hatanya or Chayey
> Odom or Magen Awroom?

All of the above are reliable sources for Psak Halacha, when there are
disputes, see above 1.

> [5]. If there is a sefer where such rules are wriiten?

The halachic process is learnt by studying under an experienced qualified
Rav who has received this tradition from the generation before him.

> 5. And the last question: Why Ashkenazim should always go according to
> Ramo and Sepharadim according to Machaber? From where it comes? Because
> if we speak about question that there is a difference for people in
> Germany or Poland and Israel, because of some minhag or climate then
> it is understandable. But when there is only machloket in understanding
> some Mitzwa Deoraita or Derabanan with no shaichus to differeces in the
> lands-so why the people should go according to his Posek-Ramo or Mechaber?

One of the cornerstones of halachic practice and Jewish law is
"mesorah" the tradition passed on from one generation to the next.
Naturally Ashkenazim throughout the generations followed the psak of
the Rama which is based on the traditions of the lands they came from.
The same is true for Sefardim.

> Thanks a lot!

Go to top.

Message: 12
From: Saul Newman
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2016 19:18:11 -0800
[Avodah] Buying a letter

When various campaigns 'sell' a letter/pasuk/parsha etc in a torah, does the 'buyer' own anything?  Is the buyer mekayem any mitzva other than tzedaka?

Sent from my iPad


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 >