Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 65

Tue, 29 May 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 25 May 2018 15:26:01 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Does Ru'ach Ra'ah (negative spirits) still exist

On Fri, May 25, 2018 at 05:52:35PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
: IIRC R' A Soloveitchik explained sheidim this way.

It was ruach ra'ah, as per our discussion. Thus, neigl vasr.

I think RAS's understanding was that Chazal were using evidence-based
reasoning. People were getting sick, and since bad vapors were believed
to be the cause of disease, Chazal presumed there was a ru'ach ra'ah.
Which means that given that we today attibute disease to microbes,
we would transvalue ruach ra'ah to refer to germs.

I don't think too many others understand ru'ach ra'ah as a physical

Rashi (Taanis 22b "mipenei ruach ra'ah") understands ru'ach ra'ah to
be a sheid entering the person -- "mipenei ruach ra'ah: shenichnas
bo ruach sheidah..." and then he might drown or fall and die. Perhaps
psychiatric illness? In which case, there is no clear transvaluation
to today's science, as minds kind of straddle the physica - metaphysical
fence. Sheidim /are/ intellects; so how do we map sheidim talk to
rationalist psychology talk?


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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Message: 2
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Fri, 25 May 2018 12:30:34 -0400
[Avodah] Bishul Akum - Specific Products Part 2

It is often confusing when trying to determine whether an item is 
subject to bishul akum or not.  This article should help.  YL

Click here to download "Bishul Akum - Specific Products Part 2"

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Message: 3
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Fri, 25 May 2018 17:50:45 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Donating a kidney if the recipient may be

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-From The Rabbi's Desk - Choosing a Recipient, Diverting Tzedakah

Listen to the 1st part-lots to discuss

Joel Rich
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Message: 4
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Sat, 26 May 2018 21:17:24 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Does Ru'ach Ra'ah (negative spirits) still exist

True but washing one's hands is not netilat ya'diim. It is soap and water.


On 5/25/2018 7:11 PM, Toby Katz via Avodah wrote:
> >>>>>
> It is possible that one manifestation of ruach raah may be bacteria.? 
> So parents should definitely wash their hands before feeding their 
> children.

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Message: 5
From: Toby Katz
Date: Fri, 25 May 2018 17:07:40 -0400
[Avodah] Mezuzah: Protective Amulet or Religious Symbol?

From:?"Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date:?Wed, 22 Aug 2012
Subject:?Mezuzah: Protective Amulet or Religious Symbol?
One may download this article that appeared in Tradition at 

Towards the end of this article the author writes

To claim, then, that the Divine inscription, which directs the attention of
the Jew to God, is possessed of its own potency, generating protective
benefits, perverts a spiritual instrumentality into a cultic charm....

I hope I will be forgiven for resurrecting an old, old thread -- from
2012.? But I recently came across something when I was preparing for my
Pirkei Avos shiur, and it made me think of this old thread.
This is from _Ethics From Sinai_?by Irving Bunim.? On Pirkei Avos 5:22 he
talks about the difference between the disciples of Avraham and the
disciples of Bilaam.? The former have a sense of security; the latter have
no sense of security in the world.??
Today we have all sorts of insurance policies: fire insurance, flood
insurance, life insurance. On one level they represent a wise precaution
[but mainly] the man of piety places his trust in the Almighty. When he
closes his place of business at night, he knows there is a mezuzah on the
door, to betoken His protection. At bedtime he recites the Shema, to invoke
His protection. This is his basic insurance policy....
The Sages tell of Artaban IV, the last King of Parthia, who sent his friend
Rav a priceless jewel, with the message, << Send me something equally
precious>>; and Rav sent him a mezuzah.? The king replied, <<I
sent you something precious beyond estimation, and you send me something
worth one [small coin]?>> Answered Rav <<All my treasured
objects and yours together do not equal [the mezuzah] in value.? Moreover,
you sent me something I must guard, keep safe; and I sent you something
which will protect you while you sleep--for it is stated: <When you
walk, it will lead you; when you lie down, it will watch over you; and when
you waken, it will speak for you.> >>
--end quote--
In a footnote, Bunim explains that that last sentence is a pasuk, Mishlei 6:22, and it applies to the mezuzah.
This doesn't make the mezuzah an <amulet> but does say that the mezuzah is protective.
(I am using << and >> instead of quotation marks in the hope of
minimizing the number of random question marks AOL strews in my path.? If
anyone can help me solve this problem please let me know.)
--Toby Katz
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Message: 6
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Fri, 25 May 2018 16:29:34 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Benefits of Davening K'Vosikin

R' Simon Montagu wrote:

> This is one of the things that really grinds my gears too. Placards
> went up recently on the street corners in my neighbourhood pointing
> towards one of the local shuls and advertising "tefilla banetz",
> and I cringe every time I go past.
> But I try to be melamed zechut on Am Yisrael. ...

I used to cringe too. But then I thought of a different limud zechus,
and it's not just an excuse. I really believe this:

They are not speaking the language that you'd like to think they are
speaking. We are in the process of developing a new dialect, or
creole, ... I don't know or care what the technical term might be, but
consider the following phrases:

making kiddush
will be davening
had paskened
was mekadesh

Technically speaking, I do concede that "davening k'vasikin" is
meaningful, while "davening vasikin" is bizarre. But the truth,
whether you like it or not, is that when someone says "davening
vasikin", EVERYONE knows what the speaker meant. In this new language,
there's nothing wrong with saying "davening vasikin".

It is (I think) EXACTLY like the phrase "Good Shabbos", when the first
word is pronounced "good" (and not "goot") and the second word is
pronounced "SHABbos" (and not "shabBOS"). What language is that????
It's not Hebrew. It's not Yiddish. It's not English. It's something
new. (Where "new" can have values of 50 to 100 years. Maybe more.)

I am reminded of going to the bakery when I was twelve years old, and
the sign by the brownies said that the price was:

.10? each

(If your computer messed that up, it is a decimal point, followed by a
one, and a zero, and a "cents" sign. You know, a "c" with a line
through it.)

Twelve-year old me looked at the decimal point, and noted that the
sign had a cents sign, and not a dollar sign. So I concluded that the
price for the brownies was one-tenth of a cent each. I tried to buy
ten of them for a penny.

It didn't work.

And I was pretty upset about it too. I knew I was right. Plenty of
people tried to console me, but no one could explain my error. I was
right, and everyone seemed to agree.

It took about 40 years, but I finally figured out the lesson of that
incident: What people SAY is not nearly as important as what they
MEAN. Focus on the ikar, not the tafel.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 7
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sat, 26 May 2018 22:46:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Benefits of Davening K'Vosikin

Think of saying "netz" instead of "honetz" the same way you do about 
saying "bus" instead of "autobus",  "phone" instead of "telephone", or 
"flu" instead of "influenza".    I recently saw "'bus" written with an 
apostrophe, but that's very unusual.  Most people have no idea that 
these are abbreviations of longer words.

Zev Sero            A prosperous and healthy 2018 to all
z...@sero.name       Seek Jerusalem's peace; may all who love you prosper

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Message: 8
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Sun, 27 May 2018 12:00:54 +0000
[Avodah] What is the meaning of Cholov Yisroel?

Please see the video at https://goo.gl/S5mPTn
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Message: 9
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Sat, 26 May 2018 21:36:57 -0400
[Avodah] Behaaloscha YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL

Both dedications, the dedication of the Mishkan by the Nesiim and the dedication of the Menorah by Aharon were required. 
The Midrash mentions that Aharon was depressed that neither he nor his tribe was included in the dedication of the Mishkan. 
This brings to mind the time when I gave a student of mine a part in the family service that he considered inferior and unimportant. 
Convinced I had the perfect answer, I confindently and proudly informed him about the dedications of the Mishkan and of the Menorah 
and how God comforted Aharon by saying that his part of the dedication
ceremony was the greatest of all, in that he was charged with the kindling
of the Menora.
I was sure that would make my pupil feel much better but without batting an eyelash, my student immediately retorted: "Yeah, but you're not God!"
I ended up being more depressed than Aharon!
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