Avodah Mailing List

Volume 35: Number 146

Fri, 29 Dec 2017

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2017 11:06:50 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Historicity of Aggadta

On Mon, Dec 25, 2017 at 11:41:54PM -0500, H Lampel wrote:
: The historical mentions the Rambam's makes, treating the plausible
: Midrashim as history without making any qualifications, indicates
: otherwise.

It indicates that some medrashim which both didn't defy evidence or
his philosophy that the Rambam felt had a
literal point worth making. Not that plauisible medrashim should be
assumed to be literal history.

He spends so much time telling you they're all statements of the deepest
truths, and quoting Shelomo, that chakhamim conduct such discussions
via mashal and melitzah.

The fact that some deepest truths has historical impact doesn't give us
license to ignore paragraphs of writing.

: Regarding the Midrashic reports that Adam and the Avos spoke
: Ivris/Lashon Hakadosh, which I assume you agree the Kuzari accepts
: as historical fact (which of course teaches in its historicity an
: important thing to know)... Is your default position that the Rambam
: doesn't care whether it's historically so?

That's the default. Perhaps the Rambam agrees with the Rihal that
the history of Ivris is a significant statement, and would be meant
literally even under his view. Perhaps not. I can't guess, and am
willing to entertain anything.

But there are also reports that they spoke Aramaic, or even
that Adam spoke all 70 leshonos. See the sources I gave in
<http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol35/v35n141.shtml#11> as well as
Sanhedrin 38b (R Yehudah amar Rav: Adam haRishon spoke Aramaic). Not to
mention historical evidence.

So there is no reason for me to make the Rambam's life difficult.

To complete repeating myself, my own instinct is to say that Adam
spoke some proto-Semitic, and therefore spoke a language which could be
considered both ancient Hebrew AND ancient Aramaic, or proto-everything
and thus an ancestor to all 70 languages. And this would explain the
medrashim as well as allow us to identify Adam's speech with Leshon

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "I think, therefore I am." - Renne Descartes
mi...@aishdas.org        "I am thought about, therefore I am -
http://www.aishdas.org   my existence depends upon the thought of a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      Supreme Being Who thinks me." - R' SR Hirsch

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Message: 2
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2017 23:40:32 +0200
[Avodah] shabbes candles

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Message: 3
From: Chaim Tatel
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2017 15:43:58 -0800
Re: [Avodah] shabbes candles

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Message: 4
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2017 09:51:45 +0000
[Avodah] birur vs hanhaga in other legal systems

There's a lot of "Brisker Torah" on the differentiation between
halachically  resolving doubts by birur (clarification/resolution of doubt)
versus hanhaga (we still have a doubt but must move forward while not
resolving the doubt).  One practical difference would be that doubts
resolved by birur are considered resolved retroactively while those
resolved by hanhaga are only prospective in nature. Is anyone aware of any
parallels to this differentiation in other legal systems?

Joel Rich

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2017 11:03:25 -0500
[Avodah] Body and Soul

On Sat, Dec 23, 2017 at 10:30pm EST, Richard Wolberg wrote in a post
titled "Vay'chi":
: (The question has been asked: Do you have a soul? The answer is NO,
: you ARE a soul with a body).

I write about this in my manuscript. Here's a version I put up on Mi
Yodeya about a year ago. <https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/66941/1570>
So, it is slightly adapted, lacks a year of editing, and there will be
someone else editing the manuscript before it is a book (assuming I
raise the money).

On Mi Yodeya, "Gabriel12" asked about E-lokai Neshmah, and the phrases
"shanasata bi... nefachtahh bi... meshammerahh beqirbi... littela
mimmenni, ulhachzirahh bi le'asid lavo".
He asks:

    Here, when I say me, I'm referring to my body. And I'm thanking G-d
    for giving me back my soul. But why is the body "me"? Shouldn't the
    soul be the real "me"? Am I the soul or the body?

My answer:

    As for E-lokai Neshamah and Hashem putting a soul within me, my own
    intent when saying these words is based on the Vilna Gaon's taxonomy
    of prayer:

    Prayers that express an ideal to be repeated and internalized are what
    we call "tefillah" in Hebrew. Tefillos are consistently written in
    the plural, as our connection to the community is part of that ideal.
    Prayers written in the singular are therefore of a different sort,
    "tachanunim", expressions of what already exists in our hearts.

    This is how the Gaon explains the line in Qaddish, "tisqabel
    tzelosehon uva'usehon -- accept the tefillos and requests (tachanunim)
    of all of the House of Israel..." We say this when closing the Amidah
    -- which is such a paragon of tefillah our Sages called it simply
    "Tefillah", E-lokai Netzor -- tachanunim, (note that it's written
    about "I" and "mine", not "we" and "our"), and Tachanun.

    "Elokai, neshamah -- My G-d, the soul which you placed in me" is
    similarly tachanunim. Therefore, it's not a place to look for how
    we ought to see our self-definition, but how things feel to most
    of us first thing in the morning. The prayer reflects the fact that
    most people do in practice identify with our body most consistently,
    and only at times with their soul.

    But to answer the philosophical question...

    There is a machlokes, a dispute among the rabbis, as to how to view
    man. One side, found often among books of Mussar, views a person as
    a soul who inhabits a body, or perhaps controls it as a rider upon a
    donkey. As Elifaz describes humanity in the book of [61]Iyov (4:10),
    "shochnei batei chomer - dwellers in homes of matter." When Rav
    Yitzchak Isaac Scher (Cheshbon haNefesh, Slaboka Alumni ed., intro.)
    speaks of man's physical side being an animal, we mean that literally,
    not merely like an animal. Since much of our yeitzer hara comes from
    our living in a mammalian body, R' Scher recommends the very same
    strategies one uses for taming and being able to use the eyesight
    of a bird, the strength of an ox, the load bearing abilities of a
    donkey or the speed of a horse are applicable to gaining mastery over
    our bodies. Like any other animal, a person's animal soul has no
    ability to plan toward a goal, it simply responds to whatever urge is
    most triggered in the moment. The animal soul must be saddled by the
    godly soul and guided. And Rabbi Sherr points out with the example
    of a trained elephant, "next to whom a person like his trainer seems
    little more than an ant", to maximize its utility it must neither
    be overburdened or neglected, nor underused and let remind wild -
    and this is how we are to treat our body and our animal souls. Last
    and most importantly, neither an animal nor the animal within can
    be educated, but trained through habit and acclimation.

    This notion is a key symbol in the Gra's interpretation system --
    when one finds a chamor / donkey in a narrative, it is generally a
    symbol for the person's chomer / physicality. Avraham at the Akeidah
    or the mashiach come in riding on a donkey as a way to indicate to
    us their mastery over their own physicality. In contrast, we speak of
    Bil'am's donkey, but the Torah consistently calls it a different kind
    of animal; he does not harness a chamor, showing self-control over
    the animal's urges of the moment, Bil'am rides an ason ([62]Bamidbar

    In this viewpoint, a person is a rider of an animal, or to use a
    metaphor that may resonate better with our more modern lifestyles -
    the soul who is wearing a body.

    Another stream of thought includes the body in the definition of
    person. Rather than a person's more human side that rides his body
    as a master over an animal, in this model man is seen as a fusion
    of body and soul. For example when the gemara ([63]Sanhedrin 91a)
    explains one purpose of the eventual resurrection of the dead by
    comparing a sinner to a blind man and a lame man who conspire to
    steal fruit from an orchard. They are caught and brought to court,
    but each of the accused claims innocence. The blind man says he must
    be innocent, for he was incapable of even finding the fruit, never
    mind stealing them. The lame man also claims innocence; after all,
    he had no way to reach it. Neither alone could commit the theft, so
    each of the accused points to the other as the critical element for
    the sin, the guilty party. The judge responds by putting one atop the
    other, recreating the unit that was capable of sin, and judges the
    pair. So too, the gemara explains, the soul could claim it couldn't
    have sinned without the body giving it the opportunity for action,
    and the body could claim that the planning and execution of the
    sin are the fault of the soul. In order to judge us for our sins,
    Hashem will bodily resurrect the sinner to reconstruct the person
    as they were then.

    As the Ramchal writes, "Man is different from any other creature. He
    is a combination of two completely diverse and dissimilar elements,
    namely, the body and soul." (Derech Hashem 3:1:1)

    The dispute is not necessarily about which is true, it could well be
    that both definitions of "person" are equally valid. The dispute is
    more prescriptive: When is it more productive to think of my physical
    aspect as an outsider, which would weaken the relative weight I
    would give the call of physical drives? And when am I better off
    not thinking of myself as purely soul, because then I'm not fully
    blaming myself for "stealing the fruit"?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The goal isn't to live forever,
mi...@aishdas.org        the goal is to create so mething that will.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 6
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2017 21:57:46 +0200
[Avodah] Foreshadow

Is the break up of the united kingdom (Israel and Yehuda) somehow 
foreseen in the brothers? Was the reconciliation between Yosef and the 
brothers (and especially Yosef and Yehuda) not complete? Was splitting 
responsibility between Yehuda (he set up Goshen's beit midrash) and 
Yosef (he supplied the food) a mistake? Is there anything in Yehuda's 
personality that foreshadows David and Shlomo's failure to truly unite 
the tribes or is the fault with the latter two only?


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Message: 7
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2017 10:09:15 +0000
[Avodah] FW: Rav Moshe on Smoking

FYI-An old Avodah topic.
Joel Rich

In the attached file, there is a newly-published teshuvah from Rav Moshe
which basically confirms the rumors that he retracted his teshuvah about
smoking and would indeed forbid it.

Kol Tuv,

Reuven Chaim Klein

Beitar Illit, Israel

Check out my book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew<http://amzn.to/1FwDM0q>

[Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press) on
Reuven Chaim Klein on TorahDownloads.com]

distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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