Avodah Mailing List

Volume 37: Number 45

Tue, 04 Jun 2019

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Martin Brody
Date: Fri, 31 May 2019 10:45:31 -0700
[Avodah] It's called Megillat Esther.....

...because she wrote it.

Martin Brody

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Message: 2
From: Michael Poppers
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 2019 16:51:58 -0400
[Avodah] Shva Na's etc.

In Avodah V37n42, R'Micha wrote "the Gra's" and then -- forgive me,
R'Micha, but that's the way I perceived your comments -- harped on the tree
and ignored the forest by noting, 'I don't think Hebrew is supposed to have
any consonant blends, including the /br/ you would end up with.

Maybe I should write it "b'rakhos", rather than "berakhos", but I wouldn't
write "brakhos", that just seems wrong.' and 'BTW, RMP, what would you do
with "v'hoda'os"? /vh/ doesn't blend; you
can't say vav and hei without a vowel in between. (I guess you can fully
combine them into a single aspirated /wh/, given a waw instead of a vav.)'
The main point is that a sh'va na' begins a syllable; the ancillary point
is that it can never be a syllable unto itself and therefore should never
be pronounced in a manner which would cause confusion with a vowel that can
be a syllable unto itself.  Precisely how one should then pronounce a sh'va
na' may depend on the consonant it's gracing, on whether that consonant has
a dageish, and perhaps on the following consonant; but just because the
"vav" consonant with a sh'va na' does not smoothly continue into the
following consonant does not, at least to me, mean that a beis w/ a sh'va
na' cannot smoothly continue into a reish (likewise, and this is why I
quoted the GRA acronym, a gimel followed by a reish); and (in case this was
not clear before!) while I really was addressing pronunciation and not
orthography, I'm happy that R'Micha and I can agree that transliterating a
sh'va na' with an "e" can lead to mistakes (see the ancillary point above).

Gut Voch
and all the best from
*Michael Poppers* * Elizabeth, NJ, USA
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Message: 3
From: Lawrence Levine
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2019 15:42:19 +0000
[Avodah] Is it permissible to make early Yom Tov on the

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. I know it is customary to wait to daven Maariv until after nightfall on
the first evening of Shavuos. Is it permissible to make early Yom Tov on
the second day of Shavuos?

A. The Taz (beginning of OC:494) writes that one should not daven Maariv on
the first night of Shavuos before nightfall.  The counting of the 49 days
of Sefira concludes with Shavuos.  If we daven Maariv before nightfall, we
declare it to be Shavuos, and the last day of Sefira will have ended

What about the second day of Shavuos?  The reasoning of the Taz would
seemingly not apply since the Sefira was concluded a day earlier.  However,
some poskim point out that it is inappropriate to start Yom Tov early on
the second day of Shavuos as well, based on an additional comment of the
Taz.  The Taz (OC 489:10) writes that one should count Sefira on the eighth
day of Pesach before Kiddush.  By delaying the recitation of Kiddush, we
preserve the Kedusha (sanctity) of the seventh day of Pesach, which is a
Biblical Yom Tov, for a few extra moments, before initiating the Kedusha of
the eighth day of Pesach, which is of Rabbinic nature.	The same argument
can be applied to Shavuos:  It is inappropriate to daven Maariv on the
second day of Shavuos before nightfall and diminish the sanctity of the
first day of Shavuos, which is a Biblical Yom Tov.

The Minchas Yitzchak (10:41), based on the Kaf Hachaim, adds an additional
concern.  If we begin Yom Tov early on the second day, it may lead to
confusion, and people might start Yom Tov early on the first day as well.

The Minchas Yitzchak concludes that regarding both concerns, there are
dissenting views, and if there is a strong need, such as for those who are
ill, there is room to be lenient.

It should be noted that even if one starts the second day Yom Tov early, it
is forbidden to begin preparations (such as lighting candles and warming
food) for the second day until after nightfall.

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Message: 4
From: Lawrence Levine
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2019 16:49:27 +0000
[Avodah] Avi Fishoff: Yeshiva Systems Needs Major Overhaul

From https://is.gd/znrz8P

Brooklyn, NY - A well known and respected voice in the world of at risk
behavior is calling for a drastic change to the religious education system,
observing that the one-size-fits-all approach taken by many yeshivos is
failing a substantial number of students.

In an 18 minute video, Avi Fishoff of TWiSTED PARENTiNG noted that in the
post-war years, the educational system focused on producing students who
could reinvigorate the Torah world by building yeshivos and other communal

Having successfully created that infrastructure, Fishoff said that the time
has come to prioritize maximizing the potential of each child instead of
encouraging every student to become a long term learner, a goal that leaves
many feeling like failures.

?Otherwise we will have a majority of our children leaving the yeshiva
world feeling like they are not a success, the hatzlacha that they were
meant to be, which is false, and the result of that can be disastrous,?
said Fishoff.

Please see the above URL for more.  In particular, there is a video at the end of this article that is well-worth seeing.


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Message: 5
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2019 06:44:24 +0300
[Avodah] How many bones in the human body?

The Gemara in  bechoros 45 says that the human body has 248 bones and that
women have 4 additional bones, 252 in total. The modern consensus is that
an adult has 206 bones the same number for men and women.

What explanations are given to resolve these discrepancies besides nishtane
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Message: 6
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2019 21:10:31 +0000
[Avodah] Kriat Hatorah

R'YBS held that the order of kohein, Levi, Yisrael for aliyot is a
requirement in the kriat hatorah (not in kavod) and thus, if not observed,
there would not be a kiyum krait hatorah bshlaimuta (complete completion of
the mitzvah of kriat hatorah (see Halakkic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchik - Page 101). This would preclude what seems to be the somewhat
common approach of asking the Cohain to leave so that his aliyah can be
given to a Yisrael.
All other things being equal, should you seek out a minyan with a Cohain to get the complete mitzvah?

Joel Rich

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Message: 7
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2019 22:56:35 +0000
[Avodah] Some thoughts on Blessings and Thanksgiving-

Blessings and Thanksgiving- Reflections on the Siddur and Synagogue
Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik
The editors have drawn from a number of The Rav's presentations to provide
us with insights regarding prayer and the synagogue. These are two areas
where we could all probably use a little chizuk(strengthening.) The use of
the word reflections in the title is indicative of what seems to me to be
the best use of the book. It?s not meant to be a prayer or synagogue
companion but rather a text to provide us with an opportunity to reflect on
the deeper meaning of our prayer and synagogue participation which will
hopefully inform on our experiences in those venues. The summary below is
but a pale reflection of The Rav?s brilliant intellect and communication
Chapter 1 The Morning Blessings
In this chapter, The Rav demonstrates in practice that a true scholar must
never lose his childlike curiosity. He begins with some simple questions
concerning the morning blessings which lead to an analysis of Chazal's
phrasing and an understanding of their main elements. We see that the
essence of prayer is our relationship with God who is beyond our ability to
praise appropriately. Our prayers also establish ethical norms for us. The
morning blessings deal with both our aesthetic and ethical experiences and
remind us of our total dependence, on God from both a practical and legal
standpoint. Because of this dependence, we are insecure and the antidote is
our relationship with HKB"H. The Rav then analyzes the individual blessings
and shows how the opening and closing morning blessings reflect our
physical and spiritual creation by HKB"H which is the basis of all Jewish
Chapter 2 - Psukei Dzimra and Kaddish
In this chapter, the Rav compares our praise of HKB"H through Psukei Dzimra
to that through Hallel. While not explicitly mentioned here, The Rav?s
opinion that prayer requires a matir (permission) leads him to an analysis
of these two forms of praise. He concludes that the praise of Psukei Dzimra
is grounded in our inability to praise God appropriately and thus we can
only use the specific Tanach texts already established by those much
greater than us. Hallel however is praise directly commanded by HKB"H
(indicated by the mitzvah blessing it starts with) and thus God's
commandment itself is the matir. Psukei Dzimra concludes with yishtabach
which is a reflexive term indicating that only God himself would be able to
praise himself appropriately. We thus use yishtabach to reflect on the fact
that all the praises we?ve said up until that point are still insufficient.
The Rav then compares the kaddish we say prior to barchu with barchu and
kedusha. He concludes that kaddish is grounded in our inability to
appropriately praise God whereas barchu and kedusha are grounded in the
command obligation to praise him. The Rav sees the role of kaddish before
barchu as taking a disparate group of individuals and forming them into a
cohesive kahal (congregation). In our age of radical focus on the
individual, this message of community focus becomes all the more important.
Chapter 3- Keriat Shma and the Blessings of Torah
In this chapter The Rav develops the role of Keriat Shma as the acceptance
of the heavenly yoke, mitzvot and remembering leaving Egypt. He notes a
parallel between each of the blessings recited around Keriat Shma and the
themes of the three paragraphs of Keriat Shma.
The learning of Torah includes both intellectual and emotional components
but the blessings refer to the emotional one which require a total
commitment to Torah as our highest priority. The Rav describes his own
mesora experience in the most poignant manner. The purpose of the blessings
includes a quest for truth and chesed as a person moves from object to
subject and seeks to relieve his existential loneliness.
Chapter 4 - Birkat Hamazon , The Grace After Meals
Grace after meals demonstrates both the need to do chesed (loving kindness)
every day [e.g. inviting those who are hungry] and to be kadosh (holy)
[e.g. the ability to withdraw from the from forbidden]
Birkat Hamazon is not primarily a blessing on thanksgiving but rather of
recognizing and remembering God?s mastery over the world and our ability to
benefit from it. From the requirement for a zimmun(group of 3 or more) we
see the importance of group recognition of God's mastery. The themes of the
specific blessings are God as caretaker for all of creation, the great gift
of the land of Israel and thanks to God whether we are are in times of good
or adversity.
Chapter 5 - Grant us Understanding to Know Your Ways
The amora Shmuel wrote the prayer of havineunu which summarizes the middle
blessings of the shmoneh esrai in order to be used if time were short.
Although we do not say this blessing today, the text reveals a number of
insights into the meaning of the blessings of the shmoneh esrai.
They include: human intelligence is the source of our bliss and suffering,
recognition of our mortality and acceptance of our burden, prayer is a
result of distress, our purpose is to know God?s ways (which will also form
our personality), we need to expose our heart to the word of God, we choose
the ethical over the social norm, there is a requirement not just to seek
God but to find him , there are three forms of mesora -
lomdus(intellectual), practical and haleiv (experiential) and the last is
the most difficult to transmit, individual redemption can come through
Torah and prayer which transport us to another reality, we pray for the
community redemption, the righteous will be for fulfilled with the
rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, prayer is needed for redemption but
we must ask for that redemption, prayer is both intellectual and emotional,
zeaka (anguished cry) is not regular prayer but a wordless prayer/cry.
Chapter 6 Praying for the defeat of evil
The first two chapters of Psalms reflect the destruction of evil and the
triumph of good, one on a communal level and one on individual level. Psalm
104 is the first hallelujah which reflects the destruction of sin rather
than of sinners. The lesson is that God dwells in each of us and each of us
is capable of repentance.
Chapter 7 Berakhot in Judaism
Blessings are not primarily about praise but about self-actualization and
increasing goodness, renewal and expansion in the world. Kabbalists see the
role of blessings as discovering God in this world. The formulation of the
brachot is about asking God to reveal the glory of his dominion. Using
Adona-i is about lordship meaning that everything (including our material
and mental elements) belong to him. Use of Malchut allows us not to commit
sacrilege when using his belongings. So what does God asks of us? We must
contract (mtazmtzeim) and defer to his rules (halacha as a hedge of
lilies), we must act with humility and anonymity and we must be silent and
accept suffering with love.
Chapter 8 - Communal Prayer and the Structure of the Synagogue
The prayer leader stands in the middle of the synagogue in front of the
Torah because the minyan is a miniature assembly representing the entire
congregation of Israel.
Voluntary prayer is compared to both personal pleading and the communal
sacrificial service. Individual prayer is important but communal prayer
bonds us all together in a communal sacrifice. The Torah amalgamates all
our prayers into a single prayer and that?s why the prayer leader stands in
front of the Torah as we bond together into a single community of
Chapter 9 - The Synagogue as an Institution and an Idea
The Rav reflects on the laity?s view of the synagogue in his day, it?s certainly worth thinking about whether times have changed or not.
The main issues a with the synagogue across all branches of Judaism in his
day was that there was a general anti-establishment mood, the commitment to
Israel outweighed the commitment to the synagogue and Rabbis did not always
meet the peoples? needs, especially the younger folks who wanted more
religion. Because of these and other issues, people tended to wander from
synagogue to synagogue and tfila btzibbur was not considered a priority.
The Rav explains that man is in exile and must pray in order to redeem
himself. The exile is both historic and existential. The beit knesset is
not a house of prayer but a home of prayer. It is really not God?s home but
the home where God comes for his appointment to meet man. The shaliach
tzibbur is an existential agent for the tzibbur (community) and the tzibbur
in turn represents all of knesset yisrael- now and throughout history, thus
the beit knesset becomes the home for all of knesset israel
Chapter 10- Old Prayer and New Jews
Jewish prayer is not ceremonial in that it is not superstitious, illusory
or requiring of an officiant. True prayer has both an act (maaseh) and a
completion (kiyum). The completion of prayer is the heartfelt emotion, the
actions are the words of prayer. We really don?t understand how prayer
works and why God should care what we say, but we know he does because we
know our great forefathers prayed. Because of the need to follow in the
footsteps of our forefathers, The Rav was very against any changes in that
prayer text or adding additional prayers. What we have managed to do is
infuse fixed prayer with feeling(me-halevai)

Joel Rich

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