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Volume 36: Number 109

Sun, 23 Sep 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: M Cohen
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:42:26 -0400
[Avodah] mixed prayers at the Kotel

YL ... My understanding is that one is not supposed to daven outdoors, and
davening at the Kosel is indeed davening outdoors, is it not.

RZS... We've already discussed this before.  No, the Kosel is *not*
"outdoors" in the sense relevant here, i.e. an open field; it is an enclosed
space that happens to have no roof.

Agreed. Yereiim v'shleimim dovened at the kosel 'outside' for centuries.

Also, dovening in wrt issue means shmoneh esrai. Therefore slichos is not an

Also, this is not a blanket prohibition, but is a preference when possible
(as per the permission for travelers).
Bc of the number of people in this case, there is no alternative.

Mordechai Cohen

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Message: 2
From: Simon Montagu
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:47:49 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Ha'azinu

On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 8:35 PM Jay F. Shachter via Avodah <
avo...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:

> I am utterly puzzled by this Zohar, because tzur and sela` are two
> totally different words that mean different things.  Their meanings
> don't even overlap.

Please expland. What is the distinction between these two words?
Brown-Driver-Briggs, Even Shoshan and Kadari are not aware of it.
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Message: 3
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:41:38 +0000
[Avodah] Succah Decorations

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. I am visiting my parents for the first days of Sukkos and my in-laws for
the last days. We hung up, in my parent?s Sukkah, decorations that my
children made in school. Can we take them down and bring them with us and
hang them in my in-law?s Sukkah?

A. Not only does a Sukkah have special holiness, but the decorations are
infused with holiness as well. One may not remove Sukkah decorations from a
Sukkah for no reason, unless they were hung before Sukkos on condition that
they should not become holy. (There is a specific wording that one must say
to prevent them from becoming holy ? ?aini bodel mayhen kol bein hashmashos
shel ches yamim.? [I do not separate myself from them all the twilights of
the eight days (of Sukkos).]) However, if one is concerned that they will
be ruined or stolen, they may be removed (Piskei Teshuvos 638:7 ? citing
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt?l). Similarly, Tzitz Eliezer (13:67) writes
that if the intent is to hang them in another Sukkah, this too is
permitted. He explains that this is not considered ?bizui mitzvah?
(belittling of the mitzvah), since the decoration is being transferred to
another Sukkah. Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita points out that one may not
decrease the level of sanctity of the
 ions. If the decorations were hanging from the s?chach, they should be
 hung again on the s?chach, which has a higher level of holiness than the
 walls (Mo?adim U?zmanim 6:68).

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:42:21 -0400
[Avodah] Neurological evidence for the existence of neshamos

An article in Christianity Today, by Dr Michael Egnor Sep 14, 2018
or <http://bit.ly/2MQOymU>
> Michael Egnor, MD, is a neurosurgeon and professor of neurological
> surgery and pediatrics at Stony Brook University.

I'll quote his opening stories before summarizing the philosophy:

    More Than Material Minds
    As a Christian and a neuroscientist, I keep learning that to be
    human is to have a soul.
    Michael Egnor| September 14, 2018
    More Than Material Minds

    I watched the CAT scan images appear on the screen, one by one. The
    baby's head was mostly empty. There were only thin slivers of brain--a
    bit of brain tissue at the base of the skull, and a thin rim around
    the edges. The rest was water.

    Her parents had feared this. We had seen it on the prenatal
    ultrasound; the CAT scan, hours after birth, was much more
    accurate. Katie looked like a normal newborn, but she had little
    chance at a normal life. She had a fraternal-twin sister in the
    incubator next to her. But Katie only had a third of the brain that
    her sister had. I explained all of this to her family, trying to
    keep alive a flicker of hope for their daughter.

    I cared for Katie as she grew up. At every stage of Katie's life so
    far, she has excelled. She sat and talked and walked earlier than her
    sister. She's made the honor roll. She will soon graduate high school.

    I've had other patients whose brains fell far short of their minds.
    Maria had only two-thirds of a brain. She needed a couple of
    operations to drain fluid, but she thrives. She just finished
    her master's degree in English literature, and is a published
    musician. Jesse was born with a head shaped like a football and
    half-full of water - doctors told his mother to let him die at
    birth. She disobeyed. He is a normal happy middle-schooler, loves
    sports, and wears his hair long.

    Some people with deficient brains are profoundly handicapped. But not
    all are. I've treated and cared for scores of kids who grow up with
    brains that are deficient but minds that thrive. How is this possible?
    Neuroscience, and Thomas Aquinas, point to the answer.

    As a medical student, I fell in love with the brain. It's a daunting
    organ: an ensemble of cells and axons and nuclei and lobes tucked
    and folded in exotic shapes. ...

    But I was wrong. Katie made me face my misunderstanding. She was a
    whole person. The child in my office was not mapped in any meaningful
    way to the scan of her brain or the diagram in my neuroanatomy
    textbook. The roadmap got it wrong.

And he closes:
    I see her in my office each year. She is thriving: headstrong and
    bright. Her mother is exasperated, and, after seventeen years,
    still surprised. So am I.

    There is much about the brain and the mind that I don't
    understand. But neuroscience tells a consistent story. There is
    a part of Katie's mind that is not her brain. She is more than
    that. She can reason and she can choose. There is a part of her
    that is immaterial--the part that Sperry couldn't split, that
    Penfield couldn't reach, and that Libet couldn't find with his
    electrodes. There is a part of Katie that didn't show up on those
    CAT scans when she was born.

    Katie, like you and me, has a soul.

Notice Dr Egnor isn't saying this is anything like statistically
normal. Just that it can /ever/ happen should cause one to question

But I just had to include the narrative in the original, as I think it
gives an emotional "argument" I couldn't reproduce.

Dr Egnor frames the debate between monism and dualism as one that dates
back to the start of science. (As opposed to Natural Philosophy, its
predecesor.) Rene Descartes believed in dualism, that the brain and the
mind are two different things, gashmi vs ruachani. The two were linked,
somehow, although no one can explain how, mind and brain are like "the
ghost in the machine".

Science was founded on Francis Bacon's tradition, during the
"Enlightenment, it became fashionable to limit inquiry about the world to
physical substances: to study the machine and ignore the ghost. Matter
was tractable, and we studied it to obsession. The ghost was ignored,
and then denied." That denial being "scientism" -- since science works
and gives certain answers, let us deny that any other topics are real.
A worldview that is quiote popular in many circles today.

Dr Egnor uses Aquinas only to make a point that we would draw from
mesorah as both are using terms you also find in Plato, Aristo and
Plotinus (Neoplatonism). Souls come in four forms -- domeim, tzomeiach,
chai and medaber. And his position is that neurologists never found the
kochos specific to a medaber when looking around the brain.

If minds were identical with brains, or something the brain does the
ways computers run software, there would be no freee will. A mechanistic
worldview has room for algorithms, where the inputs force the outputs,
and for randomness -- so that there is unpredictability, but like a coin
toss, not a choice.

And so, he boils down his claim to (1) the mind is metaphysically
simple (ie not divisible), (2) the intellect and will are not
material, and (3) free will is real.

The Mind is Metaphysically Simple:

He says neurology found this to be true when looking at patients who
had a type of epilepsy where a treatment would be to cut the
corpus callosum, the bundle of brain fibers by which the two sides
of the brain are in communication.

Roger Sperry studied scores of people who underwent this surgery.
Yes, there are test cases where there are odd symptoms. If
an object was only shown to the left eye, it only reached the right
side of the brain, and the patient couldn't name the object as
speech is on the left.

However, in daily life... Patients didn't notice a change. A person could
have two brains -- the sides aren't connected, after all, and still be
one person. No indecision between the two hemispheres reaching different
conclusions. A single identity and will.

The Intellect and Will are Not Material

Dr Wilder Penfield (who was one of the pioneers of the corpus callostomy)
was one of the first people to operate on people's brains when the
patient was awake. (None of the neurons in the brain feel pain, and the
scalp and skull only need a local anesthetic.)

Using electrodes to stimulate the brain, he could cause a patient to
jerk an arm, have a memory, see a flash of light, feel tingling,
whatever. But the patient never attributed that arm movement to his
own decision. Nor could he cause the patient to feel mercy, to feel
righteous indignation, or solve calculus problems.

"Penfield began his career as a materialist. He finished his career as
an emphatic dualist."

Free Will is Real

Benjamin Libet is /the/ name to look up when discussing bechirah
and the brain.

He set up a machine with a screen that had a lit dot on it. The dot would
complete a circle once per second. This was a way of measuring the time of
a decision with quite a bit of precision. (For human interactions. Not
for my "in how few microseconds can you get that stock order to the
market?" job.) We're talking to the nearest a hundredths of a second
or 2.

He gave each subject a button. They can choose when to push it. When they
did decide it, they would not where the dot is. Then he could measure
the time they decideded to pushe the button, how much later the brain
started firing up to push the button, and how much after that they
actually pushed it.

Turns out that the brain wave he named the "readiness potential" to put
the button is 1/2 second BEFORE the decision to push it. At this point
the argument circulating in journals was that free will was disproven.
What we think of as our conscious decisions are /after/ the wiring did
the real decision-making. Choice is just a story we tell ourselves after
the fact.

(Although some tried defending free will by saying that there is a time
lag between when a person makes a choice and the time they are aware of
having made the choice. Free will vs self-awareness of using it. If this
takes 1/2 second or longer, then the free will decision causes the
brain wave, then people realize they decided and note where the dot is,
and then finally the button is pushed.

(I personally, watching on the sidelines, had no problem since I bought
into the notion of nequdas habechirah. Libet's first experiment didn't
so much disprove free will as give some reason to say at least some
decisions aren't free will. When a subject pushes a button in an
experiment is kind of arbitrary. So what if it isn't in NhB territory?)

But then Libet did a second variant on the experiment. He asked the
subjects to second guess their decision immediately after making it.
So that the first decision to push the button isn't necessarily followed
by actually pusshing it. And they're to mark where the dot is (effectively,
the time) when they make that first decision.

As Libet put it, we may not have free will, but we do have free won't.

Turns out that the readiness potential brainwave is there when they
decide it is time to consider pushing the button whether or not they
end up actually pushing it. The command to your muscle is only being
prepped *in case* you need it.

Enger emphasizes what Libet couldn't find -- any activity in the
brain that actually correlated with the decision itself. They have
not found will in the brain, even as they did find where the
physical action was being readied.

Libet actually terms this in language much like that of mussarists.
The brain (vs? the nefesh) is a sea of taavos, middos and kishronos,
and the role of bechirah is which we bring to po'el.

In the language of soul (translating from Aquinas to our language)
-- Libet found the aspect which is chai, but not the medaber.


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: 5
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 21:06:53 +0000
[Avodah] Is a Canvas Sukkah Kosher?

Please see the video at https://goo.gl/wLnXSU

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:08:39 -0400
Re: [Avodah] How to put together a Lulav According to Chabad

On Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 10:24:44PM +0000, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: This certainly different from the way I have seen it done.  YL
: Please see the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-5vywJjkOc

Many chassidim do 4 aravos and 9 hadasim. Their braided holders have 2 arms
on one side for 2 aravos each, and 3 for 3 aravos each on the other.

I saw in the video that they do not use braided holders at all. That's
also a Granik / Brisker thing. Although there is no explanation as for
why 3 rings holding the minim together.

And no explanation why the haqpadah about putting the knot on the
green side.

More interesting to me was the surrounding of the aravos with hadasim. It
reminds me of Chabad outreach -- they put the no-smell-no-fruit aravos
inside the community, surrounding them with people who can teach Torah.

The way most groups do it, the hadasim are on the left, next to the
esrog. Putting the hadadim around the aravos also puts them next to
the esrog.

But more so, it fits the late bayis sheini norm. See the back of sheqlim
from this era -- a lulav, two longer branches curving out on either side
(aravos - as there are two), surrounded by hadassim (which often are
depicted with berries on them?).


Micha Berger             We look forward to the time
mi...@aishdas.org        when the power to love
http://www.aishdas.org   will replace the love of power.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                - William Ewart Gladstone

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Message: 7
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2018 00:40:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Yasis Alayikh


R' Zev Sero wrote:

> AFAIK the verb "liv'ol" in Tanach means "to marry", "to become
> the husband of", and is never used in the anatomic sense that
> it takes in the gemara.

"Never"? A good example of where it clearly *does* have that meaning would
be Devarim 24:1 - "Ki yikach ish ishah uv'alah", which Kiddushin 4b
understands as "a woman can be acquired via biah."

Most other examples are quite debatable, subject to the mindset or
sociology involved. For example, does the common phrase "beulas baal" mean
"the wife of a husband" as a legal status, or does it mean "the subject of
a master" in a sexual sense? I suspect that this question makes sense only
to modern minds who have differentiated those two concepts, but in older
days they wouldn't even understand the question. This is similar
(identical?) to asking whether "besulah" means "biological virgin" or
"unmarried girl". The basic literal meaning could easily be one while the
actual colloquial usage refers to the other.

[Disclaimer: I am quite the amateur at this stuff, and would happily listen
to anyone who wants to explain a different view.]

Akiva Miller
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Message: 8
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2018 22:44:16 -0400
[Avodah] V'zos Habracha "United We Stand, Divided We

This is the only parsha that can never be read on Shabbos
outside of Israel. It is read on Simchas Torah which can never
fall on Shabbos outside of Israel. This portion speaks about the
b?racha that Moshe blessed all the Jews before he died. The concept
of a blessing is contained in the sh?moneh esrei: ?borcheinu ovinu 
kulanu k?echod,? which simply means God should bless us all together.
But in Tanya, the alter Rebbe gives a deeper meaning of it. ?Borcheinu
ovinu,? when can God bless us? ?kulanu k?echod,? when we?re all united.
If the Jews are not united, then there is no blessing. This applies to ALL
Jews ? the Reform, the Reconstructionist, the Conservative, the 
Orthodox, the Confusadox, etc.
To reiterate ? in order for God?s blessing to be valid, we must be united.
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Message: 9
From: D Rubin
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2018 08:51:57 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Nusach Ashkenaz in the Center of Chasidic

Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2018 18:08:07 -0400
From: Zalman Alpert <zalmanalpert...@mail.gmail.com>
> Let me add that I was told that a siddur that the BESHT used is in the
> Chabad library in Crown Heights and it is Nusach Ashkenaz.

To echo R' Zalman and add, I have [a copy of] the Toldos' son's siddur,
written during the Besht's lifetime, and the Sidur R Shabsai [shliach
tsibbur of the Baal Shem]: they both are nusach Ashkenaz except where
the Ari specified otherwise: e.g. boruch she'omar after hodu, kesser in
kedushas musaf etc

What the Maggid did institute was the use of 'ksav Ari' for all stam.

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Message: 10
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2018 10:48:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Yasis Alayikh

On 23/09/18 00:40, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> .
> R' Zev Sero wrote:
>  > AFAIK the verb "liv'ol" in Tanach means "to marry", "to become
>  > the husband of", and is never used in the anatomic sense that
>  > it takes in the gemara.
> "Never"? A good example of where it clearly *does* have that meaning 
> would be Devarim 24:1 - "Ki yikach ish ishah uv'alah", which Kiddushin 
> 4b understands as "a woman can be acquired via biah."

I would suggest that that is drush, not pshat.

> For example, does the common phrase "beulas baal" 
> mean "the wife of a husband" as a legal status, or does it mean "the 
> subject of a master" in a sexual sense? I suspect that this question 
> makes sense only to modern minds who have differentiated those two 
> concepts, but in older days they wouldn't even understand the question. 

The distinction between "husband" and "master" would indeed have been 
blurry, but I don't think there's any sexual sense there.  It would of 
course be assumed that there *is* normal married life going on, but it's 
not implied in the word.

> This is similar (identical?) to asking whether "besulah" means 
> "biological virgin" or "unmarried girl". The basic literal meaning could 
> easily be one while the actual colloquial usage refers to the other.

An unmarried girl would be assumed to be a besulah, unless she was known 
not to be.   But I think the opposite, in leshon Tanach, would not be 
"beulah" but "naarah lo besulah" or something like that.

cf the first part of the very pasuk whose second part we're discussing; 
"ki yiv`al bachur besulah yiv`aluch banayich".  I don't think it's 
possible that there could be a sexual undertone in the nimshal, and 
therefore it seems to me there can't be one in the mashal either.

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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