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Volume 36: Number 25

Mon, 05 Mar 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2018 20:19:05 -0500
[Avodah] Commemorative Fast Days

It is common knowledge that crying is generally a sign of great sadness. It
is equally well-known, I think, that occasionally, crying can also signify
other extreme emotions, including extreme happiness. I suspect that fasting
is similar. We usually fast as a sign of affliction, to spur us to do
teshuva. But sometimes, fasting can be a tool for other purposes. For
example, this is what The Book Of Our Heritage (written by Eliyahu Kitov,
translated by Rav Nachman Bulman) writes in Vol 2 pg 205:

"The fast of the first born on the fourteenth of Nisan is a reminder of the
fact that the firstborn of Israel humbled themselves before G-d and
accepted the yoke of G-d's Sovereignty. The abstention from food and drink,
is a sign of a heart subdued before G-d."

It is interesting to note that if a firstborn did not attend a seudas
mitzva, and actually fast on that day, then he would include Anenu at
mincha. (So says MB 470:2, about 5 lines from the end.)

My question concerns the whole paragraph of Anenu in general, but most
particularly the phrase "kee v'tzara gedolah anachnu - for we are in big
trouble". Exactly which tzara are the bechorim referring to when/if they
say this? I can easily understand saying Anenu on other fast days, because
even "if" there is no immediate crisis (I put "if" in quotes because one
could argue that we DO live in a crisis), there is still the tzara of being
in galus, and we daven for that with particular fervor on the fast days.
But I don't see that as relevant to Erev Pesach, or at least, no more
relevant than on any other regular non-taanis day of the year.

Actually, I thought of this question yesterday, at mincha on Taanis Esther.
My understanding is that, like Taanis Bechorim, this fast is also "merely"
a remembrance, and not for any current tzara. At least, that's my vague
recollection of Taanis Esther. But I can't point to any sources, and that's
why this post focuses on Taanis Bechorim. But if anyone can offer ideas,
I'd be grateful.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2018 21:53:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Missing Hearing a Word of the Megillah

R' Micha Berger wrote:

> The phrasing in the AhS (OC 690:12) is "lishmoa milah
> bemilah". The MB is even more explicit "vetzarikh hashomeia'
> leha'azin ozno velishmoa kol teiva veteiva".

RMB asked some good questions based on the verbs used here. My
question relates to the *nouns*.

We are taught the importance of hearing every single *word*. Are the
letters less critical? If I heard the word, but I missed a letter of
it, am I yotzay? This is not an academic question. In my experience,
it is not at all unusual for letters to be slurred, especially
prefixes, and especially if the reader is trying to go fast.

One side of me wants to say that if one misses a letter, then it is a
different word, or maybe not even a real word at all, and therefore he
*has* missed the word. The other side of me says that normal speech
should suffice, and occasional slurring is normal in regular
conversations, as long as the listener can grasp the intent of what is
being said. Then my first side responds that "grasping the intent" is
irrelevant because one does not need any understanding of the words to
be yotzay, only that it be read correctly.

Is anyone aware of any psakim on this?


Akiva Miller

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Message: 3
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2018 11:50:46 -0500
[Avodah] Machatzis Hashekel in the Mishkan / Mikdash

We read yesterday about Machtzis Hashekel. On Ki Tisa 30:13, Rashi cites
the Midrash that Hashem showed Moshe a sort of fiery coin whose weight was
a half-shekel, and said, "They will give something like this."

I understand that Hashem needed to show the New Moon to Moshe so that he
would see and understand the proper shiur and such. I also understand that
Moshe couldn't figure out what the Menorah should look like until Hashem
showed him. But this case seems different. Why did Hashem have to show
Moshe this coin? What did Moshe get from this vision that he couldn't
figure out from the rest of that pasuk, "shekel hakodesh", "20 gerah", etc?

It seems to me that the mitzva of Machatzis Hashekel either requires us to
give a certain amount of money, or it requires us to give a certain coin.
If it requires us to give a certain amount of money (as I've always
understood, and I can provide sources if anyone asks) then this vision
seems utterly superfluous. But if the mitzvah requires us to give a certain
coin, and the pasuk has already explained the material and weight of the
coin, then it must be that the purpose of the vision is to specify a
particular design for that coin, in which case, we must have been minting
specific Machtzis Hashekel Coins all the way from the days of the Mishkan
through Bayis Sheni, and they were identical to the one that Hashem showed
to Moshe. But I have never heard any description of what this coin looked
like; has anyone else?

Any thoughts? What did Moshe learn from this vision?

Akiva Miller
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Message: 4
From: <cantorwolb...@cox.net>
Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2018 22:23:17 -0500
[Avodah] Vayakhel, Pikudei

[Vayakhel, email #1. -micha]

The Torah states, "The men came with the women; everyone whose heart
motivated (n'div leiv) him brought bracelets..." Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh
explains that there is a difference between "n'div leiv -- motivated
heart" which is a noun and "asher yidvenu leibo -- to give from the
generosity of heart," which is a verb. "N'div leiv" is the essence of
the person. One who is classified as "n'div leiv" is innately one with a
generous heart. On the other hand, the one who is classified as "yidvenu
leibo" is the one who performs an act of situational generosity. Had it
not presented itself, it would not have happened. It does not genuinely
reflect on the essence of the person. He simply was motivated at that
moment to act generously. A perfect example of this is when one gives
to a charity only when solicited. That is "yidvenu leibo".

Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh continues that the one who is "n'div leiv" gives
without consideration for his own needs or taking into account his own
limitations. It is the equivalent of one who is classified by the Torah as
"nisaoh leibo -- inspired heart." The inspiration of this individual is so
consuming that his focus is solely on the cause -- ignoring his own needs.

The Gemara in Tractate Chagigah cites a verse which states, "How beautiful
are your steps, the daughter of the benefactor (bas nadiv)." The Jews
are referred to as the "bas nadiv" because they are the descendants of
Abraham, who selflessly gave his heart to God (n'div leiv). Abraham
gave of himself without limitation. When one truly loves something,
all that exists at that moment is the object of his love. Nothing else
exists at that moment to interfere with his objective. All that mattered
to Abraham was to fulfill the will of God. As a result of his selfless
behavior, Abraham was referred to by God as "My beloved." His essence was
"n'div leiv."

The Gemara tells us that mercy, shame/conscience, and acts of kindness are
characteristics that are inherent in the Jewish people. This is because
they descend from Avraham who possessed these characteristics. The Jewish
people are referred to as the "daughter of the benefactor -- bas n'div"
(Abraham our Patriarch) because every Jew inherently has the potential
to give of himself selflessly as Abraham had done.

[Pikudei, email #2. -micha]

Part of this portion goes into meticulous detail regarding the
'bigdei kehuna," (the clothing of the kohanim). The word "beged,"
in addition to meaning "garment" can also mean "betrayal" ("bagad" to
deal treacherously and "b'gidah" treachery). What is this telling us?
Clothing, garments or vestments like anything else used improperly is
a betrayal to what's right.

When the garments were used for holiness, they were "bigdei hakodesh"
(holy vestments). This term "bigdei hakodesh" (holy vestments) appears in
the Torah occasionally (Ex.39:1). Where do we ever hear of holy garments?
Could you imagine going to Macy's and requesting a holy pair of jeans
[they'd probably refer you to the Salvation Army]. The word "kadosh"
(holy) can also have the opposite meaning. If the bigdei kehuna were
properly utilized, then there was Kedusha in the most positive sense.
But if not, it was a betrayal to HaShem and the kedusha reversed.

Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in
costly attire. William Penn

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 15:10:17 -0500
[Avodah] [Divrei Chaim] Seeing the Inside

From Divrei Chaim, a blog of divrei Torah by R' Chaim Brown (CC-ed;
familiar name for our longer members) at


Divrei Chaim
Divrei Torah & assorted musings on life.

Monday, February 26, 2018

seeing the inside

Sometimes when you hear a shtickel torah you know right away who said
it without being told. For example, when you hear 'tzvei dinim," you
think R' Chaim, or at least someone following in the footsteps of Brisk.
Even if I didn't tell you this pshat is from R' Tzvi Yehudah, I think you
would immediately identify it as something only R' Kook (father or son)
would say:

The gemara at the end of Megillah writes that R' Yehoshua ben Korcha
was asked, "Ba'meh he'erachta yamim?" in what merit did he live such a
long life. He responded that the great merit he had is that he never
once looked at the face of a rasha.

R' Yehoshua ben Korcha was the son (according to some shitos) of R' Akiva,
who was called "ka'reiach," the bald one (Bechorot 58). He grew up at a
time of political ferment and rebellion -- remember that it was R' Akiva
who championed Bar Kochba and encouraged the rebellion against Rome.
Imagine R' Akiva, with his son Yehoshua, sitting in this armed camp,
surrounded by tough soldiers who are preparing for war. Imagine the
environment -- an army camp is not the beis medrash; these were not all
lamed vuv tzadikim in the army of Bar Kochba.

Years later, his colleagues came to the now old R' Yehoshua and asked:
we don't understand it. You grew up surrounded by the "nationalists,"
surrounded by people fighting for independence, people interested in
taking back the country, rough men of physical strength and courage,
men who were not among the yoshvei beis medrash. How then were you
zocheh to such a long life? How do you emerge from such an environment
spiritually rich and rewarded by Hashem?

R' Yehoshua ben Korcha answered: I never looked into the face of a rasha.
You see rough men, fighting men, coarse men , resha'im-- but that's
because you are only looking at the outside. When I looked, I only saw
the inside -- the greatness of their holy neshomos.

Is this not what Rav Kook, both father and son (whose yahrzeit is coming
up), were all about? They knew how to look at Jews and not see the face
of a rasha -- they knew how to see the inside.

Posted by Chaim B. at 8:42 PM

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Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 20:20:17 +0000
[Avodah] RSRH on the Aegel Hazahav

The following is some of RSRH's commentary on Shemos 32:1. Note what he says about the role of an intermediary between man and G-D.  YL

32 1. When the people saw that Moshe did not fulfill their expectation that he would come down from the
mountain, the people gathered against Aharon, and they said to him: Arise,
make us gods who shall go before us; for this man Moshe, who brought us up
from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.

In their view, the eternal bond with God was not formed by the
Divine Torah given to them through Moshe. The eternal guarantee of
God's protection and of the intimacy with God attainable by each individual,
without an intermediary, was not the Divine rules for life -
i.e., the mishpatim- which would remain with them even when the temporary
transmitter had departed. Rather, they considered the personality
of Moshe, a man who was close to God, as the vital link in their connection
with God. Only as long as he was alive could they be certain
of God's protection.

They believed that Moshe's relationship with God had been initiated
not by God but by Moshe; hence, they reasoned, if Moshe was no longer
alive they could, and indeed must, take some action on their own in
order to force God's hand. They had not yet completely absorbed the
Jewish conception that man has direct access to God, without the need
for any intermediary, as long as he conducts himself in accordance with
God's Will. Or perhaps the fear that henceforth they would have to
wander through the wilderness without a leader to guide them caused
them to doubt this truth.

They believed that Moshe's relationship with God had been initiated
not by God but by Moshe; hence, they reasoned, if Moshe was no longer
alive they could, and indeed must, take some action on their own in
order to force God's hand. They had not yet completely absorbed the
Jewish conception that man has direct access to God, without the need
for any intermediary, as long as he conducts himself in accordance with
God's Will. Or perhaps the fear that henceforth they would have to
wander through the wilderness without a leader to guide them caused
them to doubt this truth.

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