Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 91

Thu, 09 Aug 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2018 16:07:20 +0000
[Avodah] Halacha: ?How to Shoplift? YouTube Videos

From https://goo.gl/JYWdxg

There are YouTube Videos that teach people how to go about shoplifting from
various stores. There are quite a few that teach a person how to shoplift
from Walmart. These Youtube videos are actually filled with what seem to be
well thought out pieces of advice.

Imagine, the following case: A frum father and mother force their children
to watch these videos. Not only do they force them to watch the videos,
they test them on the content. After the theoretical tests come the
practicals, or the labs. They physically recreate the Walmart environment
and take the children on practical runs. They then rate their performance.
Finally, there is graduation. But after all of this, they do not tell them
to steal.

Does this sound astounding? It may be a reality. The Mogain Avrohom (OC
165) explains this is a regular occurrence whenever one neglects to educate
their children in a career.


The point is that we as parents should make sure that our children embark
on a career as well as gain the skills necessary to thrive in the
workforce. The Mogain Avrohom rules in accordance with Rabbi Yehudah, not
the Tanna Kamma. Going into a business may not be the answer. They need a
job and job skills.

See the above URL for more.  YL
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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2018 15:26:13 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Halacha: ?How to Shoplift? YouTube Videos

On 06/08/18 12:07, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> The Mogain Avrohom (OC 165) explains this is a regular occurrence 
> whenever one neglects to educate their children in a career.

As RSBA often reminds us, "hastu nachgeschaut?"  If you had, you would 
have found that OC 165 is "The law of one who went to the toilet and 
wishes to eat".

Never mind, the reference is obviously to OC 156.

Also, the machlokes referenced is on Kidushin 30b, not 29b as the 
article has it.  These things are important.  It's not honest to cite 
someone else's sources as if they were ones own.  If one is unable to 
look them up oneself one should cite them as "x as cited by y", because 
ones own source is y, not x.

> The Mogain Avrohom rules in accordance with Rabbi Yehudah, 
> not the Tanna Kamma.

This is simply not true.  He explicitly paskens that one must teach ones 
child a trade *or how to do business*, in other words like the Tana Kama 
and against R Yehuda.

Zev Sero            A prosperous and healthy 5779 to all
z...@sero.name       Seek Jerusalem's peace; may all who love you prosper

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 04:21:44 -0400
[Avodah] Was the Rambam Really a Rationalist?

I have seen some discussion elsewhere of https://www.thelehrhaus.com/scholarship/mysticism-and-its-alternatives-rethinking-maimonides/
or http://bit.ly/2njjYrK

Mysticism and its Alternatives: Rethinking Maimonides
The Lehrhaus
by David Fried

Mosaica Magazine's choice of snippet:

     Human perfection, [for Maimonides], begins with the intellectual
     knowledge of God, but the higher goal is not the knowledge itself
     but the experience of love and awe brought about by meditation and
     reflection upon that knowledge....

     The sixth [of Maimonides' seven levels of perfection] is that
     attained by individuals who have mastered the study of metaphysics,
     [whom] Maimonides exhorts to strive for the ultimate achievement
     in human perfection.... [T]he path that Maimonides advises to
     ascend from the sixth level to the seventh is clearly meditative,
     a training of the mind to dwell exclusively on God and not merely
     intellectual study....

     [According to Maimonides'] general theory of knowledge. An intellect
     that is not actively cognizing is merely a potential intellect.
     However, when one actively cognizes the form or essence of a thing,
     the form enters one's mind... and "in such a case the intellect is
     not a thing distinct from the thing comprehended."...

     We can now apply Maimonides' general theory of knowledge to [his
     seven levels of perfection]. The intellect that understands the
     idea of God, but is not actively cognizing it, knows it only in
     potential. True knowledge occurs only during the moments when one
     is actively cognizing. It further follows that just as when we
     cognize the form of a tree our intellect becomes identical with
     the form of the tree, so too when cognizing the idea of God, our
     intellect becomes identical with Him. What more powerful expression
     of mystical union with the Divine could there be?

     Additionally, there is a key difference between cognizing trees
     and cognizing God. Obviously, when cognizing the form of a tree,
     our intellect does not become a tree, for a physical tree is not the
     same as the ideal or form of the tree. Physical objects consist of
     matter that can reflect form only to greater or lesser degrees. God,
     on the other hand, does not consist of matter, and therefore the
     idea of God is not separate from the essence of God, as Maimonides
     explains [on two separate occasions], "He is the knower; He is the
     known; and He is the knowledge itself."

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I always give much away,
mi...@aishdas.org        and so gather happiness instead of pleasure.
http://www.aishdas.org           -  Rachel Levin Varnhagen
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 05:27:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Was the Rambam Really a Rationalist?

On Tue, Aug 07, 2018 at 04:21:44AM -0400, I posted (although really
I posted it at 4:21pm +0800, as I am in Singapore on business):
: ... http://bit.ly/2njjYrK
: Mysticism and its Alternatives: Rethinking Maimonides
: The Lehrhaus
: by David Fried

My own 2 cents (which is only 1.5c American):

I was pretty convinced by the Leshem's Kelalim that the Rambam and the
Qabbalists' metaphysics overlap so much, they are more two different ways
of modeling the same basic beliefs than an actual dispute on core ideas.

To give an overview:

The Rambam (following Aristo) has a metaphysics that centers on a chain
of thoughts from G-d's Thought which had a thought which had a ... and
so on down through the angels, the spheres, and eventually to us and
then physical matter. (See, eg Yesodei haTorah ch 2.)

According to the Leshem, this is a different mashal, but a description
of basically as the Qabbalists' Or Ein Sof shining down from Hashem,
through the various worlds, with the substance of one world being the
forms of the world immediately below....

Would that mean the Rambam was not a rationalist?

Rationalism meant something different back then. Scientific method and
basing oneself on the data wasn't invented yet. Artisto was based on
untested common-sense ideas about how the world works, and how the world
must logically run given a belief in an aesthetic universe.

(Tangent rant: This still happenes, as in recent discussion in the
physics community about whether String "Theory" isn't getting attention
even though it apparently hasn't gotten anywhere, simply because of
it's mathematical beauty. See Scientific American, for example, at
http://bit.ly/2vqSZ1J But returning back to Avodah topicality...)

So "rationalism" in an age where science is testing empiriclly, rather than
relying on what makes sense, is a different idea than what the word meant
when the Rambam first got that title.

Or, maybe we should refine "rationalist" slightly differently than
"someone who tends toward rationalism". Perhaps these dwefnitions are
more useful:

A mystic is someone who finds meaning in how greater G-d and Creation
are than his own understanding.

A rationalist is someone who finds meaning in that which he /can/
understand, the glimpses of Divine Order a human is capable of getting.

Defining the terms not by the ratio of empiricism to mysticism in their
thought, but how much their religiosity is defined in terms of each. Do
they try to explain theology rationally, or revel in the fact that
people can't?

And by that definition, even if the Leshem is right that the Rambam and
Qabbalah gave different models of only slight variants on a single basic
metaphysics, the Rambam wasn't a mystic. And mequbalim are split on the
issue. (The Ramchal being an example of a rationalist mequbal.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A wise man is careful during the Purim banquet
mi...@aishdas.org        about things most people don't watch even on
http://www.aishdas.org   Yom Kippur.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 5
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2018 12:37:04 +0000
[Avodah] The Disconnect of Mattan torah from Shavuous

The following is from pages Rav Schwab on Chumash 538 - 539:

You are to celebrate the festival of Shavuos for Hashem, your G-d. (Devarim 16:10)

It is highly noteworthy that nowhere in the Written Torah is it mentioned that
Chag Shavuos is also Zman Mattan Toraseinu. The Torah tells us that Pesach is
Zman Cheiruseinu, the season of our freedom, and that Sukkos commemorates
the forty years of wandering in the desert. Why doesn't the Torah state that Shavuos
is the day of the Giving of the Torah?

Let us consider: What did we actually receive on Har Sinai on the sixth of Sivan,
the day of Mattan Torah? We did not receive the five sections of Torah shebichsav.
the Written Torah. These were written out by Moshe Rabbeinu at the end of (or
according to some opinions, during) the forty years in the desert. Nor did we receive
on that day the Luchos engraved with the Ten Commandments. Those were given to
us on the following Yom Kippur. What happened on that day was that we heard the
Aseres Hadibros. In other words, we received Torah sheb'al peh, the Oral Law, which
Hashem taught us when He communicated the Ten Commandments.

Therefore, the Torah shebichsav, Written Torah, omits the connection between
Mattan Torah and Shavuos in order to emphasize that Shavuos is a celebration
of the day that we received the full and complete body of G-d's communicated
will ba'al peh, orally. The Torah shebichsav is merely an outline of those teachings.
Therefore, it was left to Chazal (i.e., Torah sheb'al peh) to inform us that Shavuos is
the day of the Giving of the Torah.

Similarly, in the Written Torah Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Yom Terua, the Day
of the Blowing of the Shofar. Nowhere in the Torah does it state that Rosh Hashanah
is also the Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment. This information is revealed to us by

This may be understood in the same vein. But first we must understand an
essential aspect of the difference between Torah shebichsav, the Written Law, and
Torah sheb'al peh, the Oral Law.

Torah shebichsav is a heightened example of middas hadin, justice and exactitude.
For example, if even one corner of a yud from a sefer Torah is erased, the entire sefer
Torah is pasul - rendered unusable.

Furthermore, the Written Torah dictates that a sinner is to be given a full forty
lashes for his violation. The Torah sheb'al peh, however, represents rachamim, mercy.
The Torah sheb'al peh comes to lessen the severe middas hadin requirement of forty
lashes. It teaches that actually up to forty lashes (i.e., a maximum of thirty-nine)
may be administered.

Another example of rachamim and din, as represented by the two Torahs: The
Oral Law explains that the law of aiyin tachas aiyin - an eye for an eye, is not to be taken
literally, but means only that one is required to pay the monetary value of an eye.
The Oral Torah, whose essence is rachamim, mitigates the stringency of the Written
Torah. Consistent with this idea, Torah sheb'al peh always refers to Hashem as
Rachmanah -the Merciful One.

Therefore, we can understand that the Oral Law, which represents Hashem's
leniency in judgment, is the vehicle through which Rosh Hashanah is presented
to us as the Yom Hadin. For it is on Rosh Hashanah that we beseech Hashem's
mercy, we return to Hashem in repentance, seeking to be judged with mercy and

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Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2018 12:47:16 +0000
[Avodah] Women Refraining From Doing Certain Melachos on Rosh

The following is from today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis:

Q. I have heard that there is a custom for women to refrain from doing certain melachos (activities) on Rosh Chodesh. What is the basis for this custom?

A. The Pirkei D?Rebbi Eliezer (Chapter 44) writes that because women
refused to contribute their jewelry toward the building of the Golden Calf
they were rewarded with special aspects of observance on Rosh Chodesh, more
so than men. Based on this, Shulchan Aruch (OC 417:1) writes that there is
a custom for women not to do melacha on Rosh Chodesh. Why was Rosh Chodesh
chosen as the reward for refusing to contribute to the Golden Calf if the
sin did not take place on Rosh Chodesh? The Rosh (Shemos 35:22) explains
that the reward was given to them on Rosh Chodesh Nissan when the Mishkan
was assembled. The women refused to contribute their jewelry to build the
Golden Calf, but eagerly donated their jewelry for the building of the
Mishkan. By contributing to the Mishkan with enthusiasm, the women made it
clear that their earlier refusal was not because they cherished their
jewelry, but because they recognized that the Golden Calf was sinful. The
holiday was initially established o
 n Rosh C
 hodesh Nissan and then extended to the other Roshei Chodashim as well.

Mishnah Berurah writes that this special observance is only for women.
There is no custom for men to refrain from work on Rosh Chodesh. Rav Shlomo
Zalman Auerbach, zt?l (Halichos Shlomo) writes that the custom among many
is that only married women refrain from work. (To be continued?)

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Message: 7
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2018 12:43:22 +0000
[Avodah] Q. What types of melachos (activities) must women

The following is from today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.  UL

Q. What types of melachos (activities) must women refrain from on Rosh Chodesh?

A. It is clear that the custom that women refrain from doing melacha on
Rosh Chodesh is more lenient than the requirement not to do work on Chol
Hamo?ed. Whatever one can do on Chol Hamo?ed, one can do on Rosh Chodesh as
well. This allowance would include davar ha?aved ?work that is performed to
avoid a financial loss (see Eishel Avrohom [Buchatch] Tinyana 417). The
Aruch Hashulchan (OC 417:10) writes that women who are employed outside the
home, and cannot take off Rosh Chodesh, are exempt from this custom while
they are working. When they are home, they should refrain from all melachos
as on Chol Hamo?ed. The Rema (OC 417:1) writes that the custom of each
community determines which melachos are prohibited. The Mishnah Berurah
(Beiur Halacha 417, s.v. Vehanashim) writes that if a woman does not have a
communal or personal custom, she must accept upon herself some melacha that
she will refrain from doing on Rosh Chodesh, as a fulfillment of her
observance of this holiday. Rav
 Emden writes in the Mor U?ketziya that only a melacha that involves effort
 is prohibited on Rosh Chodesh. For example, many women have the custom not
 to sew or do laundry on Rosh Chodesh. Nonetheless, Rav Shlomo Zalman
 Auerbach, zt?l writes that nowadays, women may wash clothing in a washing
 machine, since it is a simple task.

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Message: 8
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2018 21:45:15 +0000
[Avodah] The Double-Header Haftarah

Directly due to the interesting circumstances of this week, Parshas Re?eh /
Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Elul, an unusual occurrence will transpire in a
fortnight on Parshas Ki Seitzei: a double haftarah. Not a printing mistake,
this double haftarah will actually be recited by the vast majority of
Ashkenazic congregations worldwide.

Please see https://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/7001

For more on this topic.   YL<https://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/7001>

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