Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 94

Fri, 17 Aug 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:18:13 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Would Rashi Have Been a Democrat?

R' MB:
So, Rashi blames the leaders of society for someone being forced into a life
of crime and getting himself killed. It's a hard Rashi for a Republican to
swallow, no? To force society to share blame with the criminal?

Chazal were clearly liberal on social justice issues; see Tamchui, Kuppah,
stress on Chessed. 


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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:00:22 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Loyalty to HKBH

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 10:12:05AM +1000, Rabbi Meir G. Rabi via Avodah wrote:
: Chazal ask -- Does HKBH care if we eat meat that was slaughtered as we do
: from the throat or just chop from the back of the neck?
: Chazal answer -- Observing these instructions does nothing for HKBH [He is
: after all perfect without any of our good deeds and He is in no way
: detracted by any of our misdeeds] rather these instructions provide us with
: an opportunity to become perfected.

"Letzareif ba es habeios". (Bereishis Rabba 44:1)

Also relevant is the machloqes Rambam and Ramban on what's wrong with
"al qan tzipor yagiu Rachamekha". This is the Ramban's explanation of the
gemara's saying that mitzvos are not for H's benefit but just gezeiros --
gezeiros for /us/, in this case, to learn rachamim. The Rambam (Moreh III)
uses it as proof that the details of mitzvos indeed may be arbitrary. (If
Hashem had to choose some way of ritualizing the big picture. And so if
you weren't asking why X and not Y, you're instead be left asking why
Y and not X?)

: The Karites similarly fought against the notion of Ben PeKuAh, in their
: eyes it was Rabbinical over-reach, perhaps an even greater fantasy than
: their stretching of the verse to mean "not to ignite a fire during Shabbos"
: although the wording actually reads, "no fire should burn during Shabbos"
: And in this great battle, Rav Hai Gaon, a champion for our traditions who
: brilliantly fought the Karites, developed a winning strategy to smash the
: Karites: he brought Ben PeKuAh beasts to every public celebration and
: processed them as Ben PeKuAh, making a BBQ to feed the assembled crowds.

The Or Zarua doesn't give R' Hai Gaon's motive, so it may or may not
have been related to debates with the Qaraim.

But apparently the CI (and following him, RHSchachter) would not apply
halakhah that the gid hanasheh or cheilev of a premature BP is kosher
(YD 64:2) to to a BP that is incubated until it resembles a full term
animal. The Rambam and Tosafos (Shabbos 135a "ben") don't even acknowledge
that premature BP calves have any special heter to begin with. So much
for 2nd generation BP.

Similarly, the SA (13:2) distinguishes between a PB born full term and
live, and one that is premie or stillborn. "Im hifris al gabei qarqa"
would similarly apply to an animal that lives to parent a next generation.

For that matter, the SA (13:2) says that the child of a fully formed
BP is treif even with shechitah -- nor any of its descendents.

Nor do we get any sense of his cultivating a multi-generational herd. He
could have brought premies who didn't get a chance to fully develop. But
if he did, we obviously don't hold like R' Hai Gaon, given that neither
the Rambam, the Tur nor the SA allow.

Tir'u baTov!

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: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:18:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Would Rashi Have Been a Democrat?

On 15/08/18 16:18, mgluck--- via Avodah wrote:
> Chazal were clearly liberal on social justice issues; see Tamchui, Kuppah,
> stress on Chessed.

But only between yidden, who are commanded to love each other and be 
responsible for each other.  Mipnei darkei shalom, if aniyei akum come 
to collect the gabai need not turn them away, but there is no mitzvah, 
let alone a chiyuv, and the donors get no sechar.

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: 4
From: Zev Sero
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2018 18:10:22 -0400
Re: [Avodah] To Whom Should One Pray At A Tzaddik's Kever?

On 15/08/18 09:59, Danny Schoemann via Avodah wrote:

> What does bechirah have to do with asking for a Bracha?
> This is a new concept for me, and may finally help answer the age-old
> question "what is a bracha and why does it work?"
> [...]
>> And thus, the Rambam's 5th iqar. (Where he also invokes the illogic of
>> making requests of something that has no bechirah.)
> I'm curious as to why that is more illogical than praying to a person
> who has/had bechira. IOW what has bechira to do with being a
> conduit/emissary of prayer? (Back I am to the "what is prayer"
> question).
> [...]
> OK - that explains how he snuck in the angels, and why "it's silly" to
> pray to angles when one could pray directly to Hashem.
> But that argument would work regarding praying to people (dead or alive), too.

If I may jump in here:

Let's start with the difference between AZ and shituf.

Outright AZ is the belief that Hashem is not the boss, that there are 
entities independent of Him who have power and must be worshipped in 
order for them to give us good things and not do bad things to us.

Shituf is the belief that Hashem is the only boss, but the sun, clouds, 
etc. are his servants and ministers, so just as when we need something 
from the government it's not enough to be on good terms with the king, 
we must also be on good terms with the guy at the DMV, and we must bribe 
him and pray to him, or he won't serve us, so also we must pray and 
sacrifice to the sun to give us sunshine and to the clouds to give us 
rain, or else they might not do it.

The fallacy is that the sun and clouds have no bechira.  They cannot 
choose whether to give us sunshine or rain; they do only what Hashem 
wants and nothing else, so praying and being nice to them is like asking 
the wrench to fix your car, and trying to be nice to the wrench and give 
it presents, when you should be talking to the mechanic who is wielding it.

It follows that it is fine to ask a human with bechira for favors that 
he is able to grant, including the favor of interceding with Hashem on 
your behalf.  Thus *Hashem told* Avimelech to ask Avraham to pray for 
him, since He was more likely to answer Avraham's prayers than 
Avimelech's own.

Now we come to mal'achim.  If you conceive of the mal'ach as a separate 
entity from its Maker, and yet you ask it for things, then you are 
clearly considering it to be a servant with bechira rather than a tool 
without it.  But there are tools which we don't butter up but to which 
we do routinely address requests, and nobody thinks it silly: 
telephones.  Every day we pick up a telephone and ask it to do all sorts 
of things for us.  The proverbial visitor from Mars would surely 
conclude that we attribute not just bechira but divine powers to this 
object!  But we don't even think of what we're doing as addressing the 
phone; we're addressing the person on the other end, and the phone is so 
batel to him that to us it *is* him.  We are treating it as if it had 
not only no bechira but also no metzius. Such a prayer is obviously 
permitted, since it's directed not at the robot but at the Operator.

Finally we come to the chassidic view of tzadikim, whether alive or 
dead.  If one views the tzadik as a baal bechira, then it's obviously 
permitted to ask him for a favor he can grant himself, such as a 
donation, or help changing a tire (while he's alive, of course). By the 
same token it's also OK to ask for his prayers and blessings for aid 
from Hashem, since he has the choice of doing so or not, and the aid 
sought is to come from Hashem, not from him.  But it is not OK to ask 
for his own personal aid in matters that properly belong to Hashem, not 
to people.  That would mean one considers him capable of giving such aid 
in his own capacity.  "Rebbe, ask Hashem to help me" is good, but 
"Rebbe, help me" is bad.

If one views him as not a baal bechira but a mere merkava to Hashem then 
it makes no sense to ask him for anything.  Speak to the driver, not to 
the car.  But if one views him as completely batel to Hashem, not like a 
car but like a telephone, or like a robot that serves as its Maker's 
eyes and ears, then it becomes OK to treat him like the One with Whom he 
so completely identifies, to bow down to him, pray to him, and ask for 
his supernatural help, because one is not really speaking to him at all 
but to Him. Thus Hashem called Yaacov Avinu with His own name, and thus 
the Zohar says "Who is 'the face of the L-rd G-d'? This is Rashbi".

> RMB:
>> The Chizquni refers back to the previous pasuq, where Yaaqov beraklhah
>> begins, "Ha-elokim asher..." and says it's a request to the Borei to have
>> the mal'akh who saves me bless the children. The Netziv gives a variant
>> of the same idea.
> Didn't you just say it was illogical to make requests of something
> that has no bechirah?
> So for us it's illogical, but for HKBH it's sensible? Please explain.

HKBH would not be *requesting* the mal'ach to please do as Yaacov asked, 
He would be *having* the mal'ach do so.  He's saying "Please set the 
same security system that's been looking after me all these years to 
look after my grandchildren too".

>> The Tur says simply that "mal'akh" is a reference
>> to HQBH.
> Always? Can't be, since when HKBH says he will send an angel to lead
> us, Moshe request he do so 'personally".

Suppose you've invited someone famous to speak to your event. A 
celebrity, or a rosh yeshivah.  He can come in person or he can skype 
it.  Either way he's addressing you, but are you indifferent between 
these options?  I don't think so.  By taking the trouble to come 
bichvodo uve'atzmo he gives you the honor of showing that he values you 
enough to be worth the trouble.

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: 5
From: bk
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2018 03:18:00 -0500
[Avodah] " To Whom Should One Pray At A Tzaddik's Kever?"

I was told by a rav (R. Sofer) grandson of the Kaf HaChaim that one can ask
the niftar directly, at the kever.

I don't believe that this is "doresh el hamasim" because no tameh
techniques are used. It's a verbal request that is possible for anyone to

The "Kisvei Ari"zal" say that they, the talmidim of R. Chaim Vital, asked
permission from R. Chaim after his death in a shailas chalom, if he would
permit them to unearth his writings that were buried with him, and from
which the Aitz Chaim and other Sha'arim were eventually written.
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Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:32:55 +0000
[Avodah] Rabbi Friedman - The Soul and the Afterlife: Where

A talk on this topic given by Rabbi Feldman is at



Rabbi Friedman - The Soul and the Afterlife: Where Do We ...<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzFUXKk2B4I&;feature=youtu.be>
Sinai Indaba is an annual Torah convention of the foremost international
Jewish leaders and thinkers. See more at: www.Sinai-Indaba.com Dubbed a
"superstar" ...

Beginning at about 9 minutes and 30 seconds into the talk, Rabbi Feldman
talks about how the soul needs	us to say Yizkor and will not allow people
"pull strings" to get people l to say Yizkor.

These statements have raised questions in my mind.

From  http://booksnthoughts.com/the-relatively-recent-origin-of-yizkor/

What is the origin of Yizkor?

The custom of reciting Yizkor on the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur began in
Germany in the eleventh century following the devastation of Rhineland
Jewry during the Crusades, a trauma that was exacerbated in the fourteenth
century when Jews were butchered because non-Jews were convinced that they
caused the Black Plague. It was originally a personal family prayer recited
to remember their dead, but it soon became a prayer recited within a
community in synagogues on Yom Kippur.

 The custom of reciting Yizkor spread eastward very quickly and Polish Jews
 supplemented it with a prayer remembering the Jewish victims of the 1648
 Cossack massacre under the leadership of Bogdan Chmielnicki. The Polish
 Jews also extended the recital of Yizkor beyond the sole recitation on Yom
 Kippur to the last days of the three festivals Passover, Shavuot, and

The additional recitals were made because of popular feelings, but it
raised a problem that has not been satisfactorily answered: Yizkor can fit
into the Yom Kippur services because Yom Kippur is a solemn day, but the
three other holidays are happy days, why add a somber prayer to mar these
Since Yizkor began in the 11th century, I find Rabbi Feldman's	statements
about Yizkor and the soul  curious, if not misleading.	 What did the soul
do before the 11th century?  I do not know, and I doubt that you or Feldman

I wonder if the Sefardim say Yizkor.  I do not think that they do. I would
be willing to wager that Yemenites don't say Yizkor.  If so,  what about
the souls of Sefardim or Yemenites?


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Message: 7
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:21:33 +0000
[Avodah] Choices?

The Rambam [codified in S"A E"H 22:7] states that, if a man's business is
such that he can't avoid even "only" rabbinic yichud issues, he should
yifneh l'mlacha acheret (find another line of work). We also know that many
times rabbinic rules are set aside in the case of great loss [but see
Pitchei Tshuva Y"D 157:4] In either event, do you think we're talking about
cases where the individual originally thought these problems could be
avoided or did they go into the business with full knowledge of these
issues? Does it include cases where there are technical workarounds
available which seem after the fact?
Does HKB"H view it as equivalent to any other choice one could've made or
is one dinged for the original choice when it was made? [is moving into an
apartment building knowing one will need to use a manned elevator on
Shabbat another example? How about certain medical specialties ]
Joel Rich

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:58:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Would Rashi Have Been a Democrat?

On Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 5:18pm EST, Zev Sero wrote:
: But only between yidden, who are commanded to love each other and be
: responsible for each other.  Mipnei darkei shalom, if aniyei akum
: come to collect the gabai need not turn them away, but there is no
: mitzvah, let alone a chiyuv, and the donors get no sechar.

The Rambam says that vehalakhta bidrakhav applies. And that darkei shalom
applies. Neither are small issues -- imitating the Borei is one way at
looking at our tachlis in life, and nothing accepts berakhah like shalom.

And that's assuming they're separate issues. The Rambam unites them in
the last third of Hilkhos Melakhim 10:12. After talking about geirei
toshav, the Rambam adds "va'afilu aku"m" you must to do biqur cholim
and burying their dead mipenei darkhei Shalom. As it says, "Tov H'
laKol..." and "derakhahe darkhei no'am".

What you're portraying as not being a primary value is very much against
this Rambam. Darkei shalom isn't some survival strategy, the Rambam
associates it with ideas at the core of avodas Hashem!

If that is the pedestal on which we put "social justice", I would agree
with RMYG "Chazal were clearly liberal on social justice issues".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
mi...@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham

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Message: 9
From: Simon Montagu
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2018 10:57:18 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Rabbi Friedman - The Soul and the Afterlife:

On Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 5:59 PM Professor L. Levine via Avodah <
avo...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:
> I wonder if the Sefardim say Yizkor.  I do not think that they do. I
would be willing to wager that Yemenites don't say Yizkor.  If so,  what
about the souls of Sefardim or Yemenites?

Sefardim do not say Yizkor as such, but we do say "Hashcabot", and learn
Torah and make berachot "Le`ilui neshama". I haven't listened to R.
Friedman's whole talk, but what I did hear would apply just as much to the
Sephardi minhagim as it does to Yizkor.
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Message: 10
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:49:19 +0000
[Avodah] Rav Hirsch on Kings David and Shlomo

The following is from RSRH's commentary on Devarim 17: 14

14 When you will come to the land that God, your God, is giving you,
and you have taken possession of it and will dwell in it, you will say: I
will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me.

Among the kings appointed on the basis of this act [i.e., request] of
the people, there was one whose personality embraced all the qualities
required of a king. He had the military proficiency to prevail in protecting
the people and the Land, and, at the same time, he was filled with the
spiritual ideal of a Jewish king ?after God?s Own heart.? Neither before
or after him did there arise anyone like him, who sang Israel?s song about
the relationships of man and the people to God. In impassioned and inspiring
tones he gave expression to ideas and emotions, and through his
psalms he has become the creator and bearer of the people of Israel?s
spirit. To this very day, and also far beyond Jewish circles, directly or
indirectly, every soul that seeks knowledge of God and help from God is
uplifted to God on the wings of his song. In this king, David, son of
Yishai, the two sides of the Jewish monarchy appeared ? the sword and
also the lyre, the nation?s spiritual leadership beside the victorious defense
of the nation externally. One of the national poets, inspired by the king?s
spirit, called him simply a metziah, a ?find,? for God found him and considered
him His instrument for His work: Matzasi Dovid avdi (Tehillim 89:21).

This king, God dedicated to be the royal root of a line of descendants
reaching until the end of days; and a coming generation, which will realize
God?s Torah completely, will also bring the pure realization of the
Torah-king in Israel. This future king will bring about the fulfillment of
this reality, and ?God?s spirit will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and
understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and
fear of God.? By the word of his mouth he will rule the earth, and because
of his spirit lawlessness will die away. He will empower justness and faithfulness
to such a degree that the ?wolf ? will dwell with the ?lamb,? and
the ?tiger? will lie down with the ?kid?; and on the earth, which aspires
to the Mount of God?s Sanctuary, no evil or wrongdoing will be found,
?for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, as water covers
the sea.? This future king will realize the ideal of the Torah-king. He will
emerge like a shoot from the stock of Yishai, which had apparently been
cut down long ago, and like a long-awaited twig he will sprout from its
roots, which were hidden by darkness (Yeshayahu 11).

The military side of David?s kingship disqualified him from building
God?s Sanctuary (see Divrei Ha-Yamim I, 22:8), and this task was left for
his son, to whom he had bequeathed the peace he had victoriously fought
for. But this aspect of kingship ?in the manner of the other nations? existed
in the case of his son even during the peace. ?Shlomo,? the great
son of David, the prince of peace, whose wisdom enlightened his people
and amazed distant peoples, was not a king according to the Torah?s ideal.
He did not set as his ideal the spiritual and moral perfection of his people;
rather, he imitated the ways of peace of the kings of ?all the nations.?
Their daughters became his wives, and he competed with these kings and
even exceeded them in seeking splendor and luxury. When he violated
the three articles of the law for the king and acquired many horses, many
wives, and vast stores of silver and gold, he himself ruined the foundations
of his own enterprise, thereby paving the way for the destroyers of the
Sanctuary he had built for God?s Torah. An ancient tradition says:
On the day that Shlomo married the daughter of Pharaoh,
Gavriel, the ?messenger of God?s power,? came down and planted a staff
in the sea, on which a sandbank settled, on which the great city of Rome
was built (Sanhedrin 21b, according to the version of the Yalkut).


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