Avodah Mailing List

Volume 35: Number 135

Mon, 04 Dec 2017

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:11:31 +0200
[Avodah] What are the main mitzvos to focus on?

The last daf in Makos (24a) states that the Neviim took the 613 mitzvos and
reduced them to a smaller set for people to focus on.

Michah gave three Mitzvos for people to focus on - "Asos Mishpat..."

"Asos Mishpat" is monetary laws;
"Ahavas Chesed" is bestowing Chesed;
"V'Hatzne'a Leches Im Elokecha" is escorting the dead and bringing a Kalah
to Chupah;

Yeshayah later gave two primary Mitzvos - "Shimru Mishpat va'Asu Tzedakah."

The mitzva of learning Torah which we understand to be the most important
and fundamental mitzva does not appear in these lists. How do we explain
the omission of learning Torah in these lists? Additionally, these lists
seem to consist solely of mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro, are there no
mitzvos ben adam lamakom that are important enought to appear on these
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Message: 2
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:20:44 -0500
Re: [Avodah] More on Yaakov, sheep and the rods

Why not just interpret this as an example of  phenotypic plasticity,
meaning the genetic potential is there in every generation, and the
environmental factors stimulate its expression?


As everyone who had genetics 101 will realize, if you eliminate 100% of the
phenotype, and breed the remainder you will still get some of that
phenotype in the next generation with recessive genes. So it always
bothered me why was all the hokus pokus by Yaakov necessary. Even more so
the pasook itself seems to ascribe the results as caused by the sticks even
though a simple natural explanation for the reappearance of the phenotype
in the next generation is quite simple. The only explanation I could come
up with is that the percentages were much higher than one would expect as a
result of genetic calculations thus the nes (and Yaakov?s efforts
[hishtadlus] to produce it) is described at great length.

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Message: 3
From: Chaim Tatel
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2017 09:30:37 -0800
Re: [Avodah] Gid ha'nasheh

When I was studying Zoology in college back in the 70s, I did some research
on Yaakov?s battle with the malach.

The big question I had was ?why should Yaakov Avinu get hit in the gid
hanasheh (sciatic nerve)? Why not somewhere else in the body??

As I learned in my Anatomy and Physiology class, there are several nerves
that branch off from the sciatic nerve. One of these is the pudendal nerve.
This is one of the nerves responsible for sexual function (and other

Current research follows:

The pudendal nerve is found in the pelvis. It is the biggest division of
the pudendal plexus (a network of nerves) and is located behind the
sacrospinous ligament, near the tailbone. The nerve extends from the sacral
plexus, through the pudendal canal, the perineum, and the gluteal area.
These are structures located near the genital, rectal, and gluteal
(buttock) regions.

(see: https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/pudendal-nerve)

The peripheral nerves supply the bladder, anal canal, and perineal skin.
The pudendal nerve is the primary somatic nerve to this region. Motor
fibers in the pudendal nerve innervate the bulbocavernosus muscle, external
urethral sphincter, external anal sphincter, and pelvic floor muscles.

(see: www.humanneurophysiology.com/sacralmonitoring.htm)

I also remember that one of the meforshim (commentators) on Chumash had a
similar answer. (Sorry, I can?t remember where I saw this, it?s been over
40 years).

At any rate, it makes sense that Yaakov would be hit there, as a reminder
that his marriage to Rachel after his marriage to her sister Leah would not
hold up when he entered Eretz Yisrael. (not long after this episode, Rachel
died in childbirth of Binyamin).

Aside from feeling the psychological pain of Rachel?s death, perhaps Yaakov
also had to feel physical pain.

Chaim Tatel
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Message: 4
From: Lisa Liel
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2017 22:56:18 +0200
[Avodah] knife sharpeners

Are knife sharpeners mekabel taam?? And noten taam?? Do you need 
different onces for meat, dairy, pesach, etc?

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Message: 5
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2017 20:01:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] knife sharpeners

On 02/12/17 15:56, Lisa Liel via Avodah wrote:
> Are knife sharpeners mekabel taam?? And noten taam?? Do you need 
> different onces for meat, dairy, pesach, etc?

Since they don't ever contact food, I don't see how they could.

Zev Sero                May 2017, with its *nine* days of Chanukah,
z...@sero.name           be a brilliant year for us all

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Message: 6
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2017 06:40:43 +0000
[Avodah] Women and Torah Study

My comment to a recent post on Lehrhaus on women and intensive talmud study:
Is encouraging intensive study of Talmud for women a community priority or
is the priority to make such study available for those who choose to avail
themselves of the opportunity? Especially if the former, where does it
stand in relation to other community priorities and how does the answer
differ from study for men? IMHO these questions have not been sufficiently
addressed.  Do my concern resonate at all?
Joel Rich

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Message: 7
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2017 14:18:20 +0000
[Avodah] Davening on Airplanes

Very often people make minyanimm on flights to Israel.

The following if from https://goo.gl/j8hdXR and is a quote from Rabbi Hershel Schachter.

Another common mistake people make is regarding davening with a minyan (on
a plane). The Talmud emphasizes the importance of tefillah btzibur; and one
who davens with a minyan stands a much better chance of having his prayers
answered than one who lacks a minyan. However, it is highly improper for
the chazzan of a minyan on an airplane to shout at the top of his lungs to
enable the other mispalelim to hear him over the airplane noise, and
thereby wake up all the passengers around him. It is true that there is a
halachic principle of kofin al hamitzvos, i.e. that beis din has an
obligation to force people to observe the mitzvos even when they're not
interested in doing so, but this only applies when pressuring an individual
will result in his becoming observant. However, when Orthodox Jews disturb
non-observant Jewish passengers with their davening, the non-observant
passengers sill remain non-observant and now just have another point about
which to be upset with the Orthodox.
  The pra
 ctice of the Orthodox passengers under such circumstances appears simply
 as an act of harassment. Rather than having accomplished the hidur mitzvah
 of davening tefillah btzibur, they have violated lifnei iver by causing
 the non-observant passengers to become more antagonistic towards shemiras
 hamitzvos. The shouting tone of voice employed by the shaliach tzibbur to
 overcome the noise on the airplane clearly does not constitute a kavod

The halacha states that when traveling, if it is too difficult to stand for
shemoneh esrei even the "amidah" may be recited while seated. On a short
flight of an hour and a half to Canada it is more correct to daven the
entire tefillah while still buckled in, in a sitting position. On the long
flight to Eretz Yisroel it is healthier to not sit the entire time; walking
around somewhat helps the blood circulation in one's legs. As such, there
is nothing wrong with standing for shemoneh esrei, provided that there's no
turbulence at that time. However, it is still not proper to gather a minyan
together near the washrooms, disturbing all the other passengers and the
stewardesses. As much as various Torah giants of our generation have
expressed their opposition to such minyanim on airplanes[2], their message
has not yet been accepted. We wish everyone a chag kasher v'sameach, and
all those traveling to Eretz Yisroel should have a safe trip, but keep in
mind - these minyanim are she
 lo b'rat
 zon chachomim!

[2] Rav Shlomo Wahrman ( She'eiris Yosef<https://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2010/airplane-Rwharman.pdf>
 vol. 7, siman 3<https://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2010/airplane-Rwharman.pdf>)
quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, page 75), Rav Moshe
Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim vol. 4 siman 20), Rav Ovadiah Yosef, and
Rav Shmuel Wosner all objecting to minyanim on airplanes that disturb other

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Message: 8
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2017 15:15:20 +0000
[Avodah] The Forces That Have Shaped World History

The following is from RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 30:8

Ya'akov was very much afraid and distressed, so he divided the peoplewho were with him, as well as
the flocks, cattle and camels, into two camps.

We can put ourselves in Ya'akov's place, and we are especially obligated
to do so, considering the significance of the impending meeting; for,
because of this meeting, Ya'akov experienced a revelation whose memory
is forever linked with the daily meal of the man of Israel.
Just as Ya'akov and Esav oppose each other here, so they continue
to stand opposed to one another unto this very day. Ya'akov is the family
man blessed with children; hard-working, serving, weighed down by
cares. Esav is the "finished and accomplished" man (cf. Commentary
above, 25:25).

Ya'akov now returns as the independent head of a family. Even now,
having overcome all the obstacles, this privilege is, to him, the highest
prize, the greatest achievement. But to attain it, he had to toil and
struggle for twenty years, despite the fact that he had already received
the blessing and the birthright.

Others, however, take this privilege for granted; it is given to them
from birth. Esav, the "finished and accomplished" man, already possessed
it in full measure when Ya'akov first left home. While Ya'akov,
through hard work, succeeded in establishing a family, Esav became a
political force, the leader of an army, an aluf at the head of his troops.

Thus the external contrast between Ya'akov, who held on to his brother's
heel when they were born, and Esav, the "accomplished" man.

In Ya'akov and Esav, two opposing principles confront each other.
The struggle between them, and the outcome of this struggle, are the
forces that have shaped world history. Ya'akov represents family life,
happiness and making others happy. Esav represents the glitter of political
power and might. This conflict has raged for thousands of years:
Is it sufficient just to be a human being, and are political power and social
creativity of no significance unless they lead to the loftiest of all human
aspirations, or, on the contrary, does everything that is human in man,
in home, and in family life exist only to serve the purposes of political

How different from his attitude toward Lavan is Ya'akov's attitude
toward Esav. We know how steadfast is the power of one who is sure
of his own integrity, and how oppressive is the feeling of guilt, even if
only imagined. It is easier to suffer wrong and injustice for twenty years
than to face for one minute a person whom we know was offended by
us and who cannot understand our motives, which do not justify our
actions but at least excuse them.
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Message: 9
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2017 11:13:00 +0200
[Avodah] The 13 middos

The Gemara in Shavuos (4b) discusses who the Tanna of the Mishna is and
brings down a fundamental machlokes tannaim about the 13 middos. R'
Yishmael darshens klal uprat and R' Akiva darshens ribuy umiut. The
Acharonim point out that these are mutually exclusive and every Tanna
darshens one or the other but they cannot be mixed (e.g. a Tanna sometimes
darshens ribuy umiut and sometimes klal uprat). The question is how can
something so fundamental as the 13 middos be a matter of dispute? Weren't
the 13 middos given to Moshe at Har Sinai? How could they forget such a
basic thing? It is very difficult to say that both are right (e.g. elu
v'elu) because they are mutually exclusive and come to different
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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2017 10:55:38 -0500
Re: [Avodah] knife sharpeners

On Sat, Dec 02, 2017 at 08:01:31PM -0500, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: On 02/12/17 15:56, Lisa Liel via Avodah wrote:
: >Are knife sharpeners mekabel taam?? And noten taam?? Do you need
: >different onces for meat, dairy, pesach, etc?
: Since they don't ever contact food, I don't see how they could.

Since they are in heated contact with the knife, aren't there potential
na"t bar na"t issues?

Tir'u baTov!


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