Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 138

Tue, 25 Dec 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2018 13:14:20 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Rambam Hilchot Trumot

On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 12:33:08PM +1100, Isaac Balbin via Avodah wrote:
: When R' Aron Soloveichik z"l was asked about the difference between the
: Mesora of today and yesteryear he explained that in his generation,
: whilst they certainly knew about the Mesora -- they had the level of
: Kiblu MeRaboseinu -- theirs was accented and qualified by the mimetic
: tradition which happens via seeing the Baal HaMesora -- Ra'inu --
: performing Masoretic acts and decisions...

I am not sure we are correctly using the word "mimetic" when discussing
the unconscious copying norms and aborbing the culture of such a small
"community" as that of posqim.

However, if I understand what you mean correctly, I wrote something similar
on Torah Musincs, where I tried to nail down what RYBS and RHS mean by
the term "Mesorah".

Teasers, as they state my point without proving basis:

   The word "masorah" is overloaded with too many meanings.
   For regular pesak too there is an element that is a craft, an art, a
   skill, the kind of thing one needs to learn from shimush, not by
   studying from texts.

     Kara veshanah velo shimeish talmid chacham, harei zeh am
     If he read scripture and studied law, but did not serve a talmid
     chacham, such a person is an am haaretz (an ignorant peasant).
     - Sotah 22a

   Similarly, a poseik needs to pick up that feel, and not only the formal
   rules. He needs the unstructured knowledge of halakhah.

   Consider this rather poetic description of how the Rav experienced his
   shiur, entering the dialog of Torah through the ages as he joins his
   students in the classroom. Notice how he winds up by discussing this
   experience as "masorah":

   ... In an article in Jewish Action, Rav Schachter provides his
   definition of the word. He opens:

     What is Mesorah?

     Mesorah is not primarily a corpus of knowledge to master but a
     process of accessing a chain of student-teacher relationships that
     reaches back to Sinai. Moshe received the Torah and transmitted it
     to his student, Yehoshua, who in turn taught it to his students and
     so on, continuing through today. The nature of transmission of the
     mesorah is instruction from a rebbe to his student. We connect to
     the mesorah, to the sacred structure of laws, beliefs and attitudes,
     through our teachers.

   The Rav identifies masorah as the ineffable skill to think like a
   poseik. Masorah is a skill obtained from those who explain how the
   prior generations developed the law, how the community down the ages
   conversed about the law, from living in a culture of mimeticism.

   Without masorah, the poseik has no way of determining which solutions
   to new problems are in concert with the spirit of previous rulings.
   Halakhah is not frozen; it does not have inertia, but it does have
   momentum. Apprenticeship, training under a master, transmits the feel
   for where the halakhah has historically been taken. Following reasoning
   found in a minority ruling is appropriate only when one is motivated by
   the Torah's own principles. The person who speaks halakhah as a first
   language knows when an innovative change is within "poetic license",
   and when the result simply violates the Torah's "grammar."

   As R. Yochanan quotes in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, "gedolah
   shimushah shel Torah yoseir meilimudah - the apprenticeship of Torah is
   greater than its study".


Micha Berger             Friendship is like stone. A stone has no value,
mi...@aishdas.org        but by rubbing one stone against another,
http://www.aishdas.org   sparks of fire emerge. 
Fax: (270) 514-1507                  - Rav Mordechai of Lechovitz

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Message: 2
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2018 19:29:00 +0000
[Avodah] Is it forbidden to teach Torah to one who has not

I wonder how this applies to restaurants.  How are they allowed to serve people who do not make brachas before eating?  YL

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. Is it forbidden to teach Torah to one who has not said birchas ha?Torah?

A. In regards to birchos ha?nehenin (brachos recited on food), there is a
concept that one is not permitted to give someone food if the recipient
will not recite a bracha. Offering food to one who will not recite a bracha
is a violation of ?lifnei iver lo sitain michshol? (enabling one to
stumble) (See Shulchan Aruch OC 169:2). However, Rav Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach, zt?l (Minchas Shlomo 1:91) writes that this does not apply to
teaching Torah to one who did not recite birchas ha?Torah. Birchas ha?Torah
is a birchas ha?mitzvah. Though birchos ha?mitzvos are obligatory, we do
not find that Chazal forbade the performance of a mitzvah if a bracha is
not recited. He notes that not studying Torah (bitul Torah) is a more
serious offense than omitting the bracha. If possible, one should instruct
those who have come to learn Torah how to recite the bracha, but if this is
not practical, one should teach them Torah in any event.

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Message: 3
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2018 20:26:16 -0500
[Avodah] Angels and Requests

In the Friday night poem "Shalom Aleichem", we ask the mal'achim to
give us a bracha. We've often mentioned here that some people avoid
this poem because it is either similar to avoda zara, or perhaps might
actually BE avoda zara.

I call your attention to the morning's parsha, Bereshis 48:16, the
pasuk "Hamal'ach hagoel osi." Yaakov Avinu refers to a particular
mal'ach and asks that this mal'ach should give a bracha to Yosef's
sons. At first glance, this seems to be very similar to Shalom
Aleichem. How is this justifiable, in the view of those who consider
Shalom Aleichem to be problematic?

I came up with two possible answers, and I invite the chevra to
critique them, and/or suggest other answers.

1) Perhaps the halachos of avoda zara were less restrictive in those
pre-Sinai days, and making requests to a mal'ach was okay for Yaakov
but not for us. I suppose this is possible, but the centrality of
Monotheism to the avos, it would surprise me.

2) I note that in the immediately preceding pasuk, Yaakov addressed
Hashem. If so, then maybe Yaakov was not asking the mal'ach directly
for a bracha the way we do in Shalom Aleichem. Rather, he was speaking
directly to Hashem, asking Hashem that the mal'ach should give the
bracha. This would solve the problem of "Who was Yaakov praying to?",
but not the problem of "Where do brachos come from?" If the mal'ach is
capable of giving a bracha, that too smacks of avoda zara, doesn't it?

All comments are welcome.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2018 06:08:38 -0500
[Avodah] Bircas Kohanim when when the Shaliach Tzibbur is a

On Areivim, R' Sheldon Liberman asked:

> I heard over Shabbos that in chutz l'aretz, during the chazzan's
> repetition at shacharis, if the chazzan is a kohen, then during
> bircas kohanim, there is an opinion that the tzibbur should
> answer "Amein" rather than "Kein y'hi ratzon".
> Has anyone heard this?

The critical words here are "there is an opinion".

It seems reasonable that somewhere in a vast library of seforim,
there might be a sefer that suggests such a thing.

Whether anyone actually does this is another matter entirely. I don't
remember ever hearing anyone actually do this.

I'd even argue against it. It makes about as much sense as if one
would answer "amen" during the third stanza of "Shalom Aleichem". In
both cases we are asking for a bracha, but in neither case have we
actually heard any bracha on which to answer "amen". (When we answer
"kein yehi ratzon", it means "please give us that bracha" and not "I
believe in that bracha which You gave".)

Akiva Miller


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