Avodah Mailing List

Volume 37: Number 70

Wed, 28 Aug 2019

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2019 14:51:27 -0400
Re: [Avodah] 15 Av

On Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 10:18:06PM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> Near the bottom of Taanis 30b, Rashi tells the story that in the Midbar, on
> each Erev Tisha B'Av, everyone would dig a grave for himself and sleep in
> it that night. Most people woke up in the morning, but not all. (Other
> seforim do the math: 600,000 were to die each of the 40 years, which comes
> to 15,000 each Tisha B'av.) In Rashi's words:

Rashbam, according to Tosafos there.

> Here's my question: If someone says 'Perhaps we made a mistake in
> calculating the month,' then that person is clearly rejecting the halacha
> that a declaration of Rosh Chodesh is valid even if the "wrong" day was
> declared...

There is a parallel gemara on the bottom of BB 121a.

The Ramban ad loc avoids your problem. Which doesn't help us answer the
Pesiqta Rabasi (33:1) Rashi quotes, but...

In the 40th year, why was anyone worried? After all, everyone left knew
of themselves they weren't of age or perhaps even born when the decree
was made. So who was lying in graves? So he says Tu beAv is the date in
year 39 that shiv'ah ended for the last time for those who died because
of cheit hameraglim.

Whereas Tosafos (BB) say they died in year 40 too, and they knew the
gezeira was over when there was no one left to die. In fact, looking
back at the Ramban, he cites "HaRav R Shmuel za"l" -- perhaps the baal
tosafos in question? (Aside from being 1 year later.)

Now, continuing for both...

... And that is the definition of "kalu meisei midbar".

Fits even better when you look at the next line (in either gemara),
where it continues to say and that's when Moshe's panim-el-Panim nevu'ah
returned. (Based on Devarim 2:16) Since nevu'ah requires simchah, tying
it to the end of aveilus seems intuitive.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   I do, then I understand." - Confucius
Author: Widen Your Tent      "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2019 19:23:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Showering During the 9 Days

On Mon, Aug 12, 2019 at 10:04:17PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> IIUC the Rav did Not disagree about hashkafa being important but rather
> felt that it was derived from halacha...


RYBS's hashkafah is more existential than metaphysics or theology. Meaning
(since I likely abused at least one word in that last sentence), RYBS
focused on what it is like to be an observant Jew, and not about issues
of G-d, how He runs the universe, etc...

For example, when RYBS speaks of tzimtzum, he speaks of Moshe's anavah
emulating Divine Tzimtzum. And nothing about how the world came to

He has dialectics of archetypes, and all of them speak to his own

Second, those existential observations are taken as lessons from halakhah.
(As RJR said.) RYBS's term is "halachic hermeneuitics". What halakhah
says to me is a different hunt than thinking one can find the reason or
Hashem's purpose in commanding something.

From Halakhic Mind (pp 101-102):
    ... [T]here is only a single source from which a Jewish philosophical
    weltanschauung could emerge: the objective order - the Halakha ... Out
    of the sources of Halakha, a new world view awaits formulation.

Not only ein dorshin taama diqra, but while obviously studied the
classics of hashkafah, and those who look for the nimshalim of medrash
and aggadita, that's not the basis of his own hashkafa.

It's as close as a Brisker could get to an interest in hashkafah: one
has to have halakhah come first and is the only objective truth.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 When faced with a decision ask yourself,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   "How would I decide if it were Ne'ilah now,
Author: Widen Your Tent      at the closing moments of Yom Kippur?"
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                          - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2019 20:48:02 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tartei d'Satrei

On Sun, Aug 25, 2019 at 12:55:05PM -0400, David Riceman via Avodah wrote:
> RMB:
>> Would the Sanhedrin have had two unrelated votes on halakhos where the
>> pesaqim are tightly correlated?
> I looked for this over Shabbos. I didn't find anything conclusive,
> but I did find some hints. Conceptually, though, that would imply that
> the Sanhedrin can't function as a court of appeal for normal disputes,
> which seems unrealistic.
> See. H. Sanhedrin 10:5.
> I'm guessing here that RJR's inconsistencies are correlated the the
> Rambam's ta'amim. But see Shach HM 25 SK 19:2
> http://beta.hebrewbooks.org/tursa.aspx?a=cm_x8762
> who suggests that there is a typo in the Rambam.
> And see Pischei Tshuva SK 7 there who cites the Noda B'Yhuda second
> edition HM 3 (which I didn't't look up inside) confirming a psak BD
> based on two contradictory ta'amim (with the third judge advocating no
> monetary award)...
> And there is an issue d'orayysa for a judge to refuse to rule after
> having decided a case, so I don't see how RMB's elegant suggestion would
> be viable.

I missed the connection.

I am not talking that it's assur to rule on the same question in BD,
or even the topic I thought we were talking about -- related questions.

Rather, that Sanhedrin has an obligation to find consistency. So that if
rov end up holding Y on the second question, that rov could overturn a
vote which ruled X on the first one. That you can't vote on one case
without simulatenously it being a vote on the other.

Admittedly, it's just something I made up. But I don't see the connection
you're making between my hypothesis and the case you're discussing.

In fact, that Rambam and Shakh came to mind before you wrote them --
you have brought that sugya to our attention enough times I was bound
to think of them whenever the words "Sanhedrin" and "consistency" come
up. Just letting you know, someone listens.


You are jumping from having inconcsistent te'amim for a single (and
thus consistent) pesaq to allowing for two pesaqim for which no set of
consistent te'amim could exist.

And again, I am totally missing why appeals comes into this discussion.

You have to spend more time explaining; you lost me.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Never must we think that the Jewish element
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   in us could exist without the human element
Author: Widen Your Tent      or vice versa.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                   - Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

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Message: 4
From: David Riceman
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2019 20:06:29 -0400
[Avodah] Tartei dSatrei

RMB found my previous post obscure, so I'm trying to write out an argument
in full. I'm visiting relatives and have limited internet access and no
library access so l'm citing minimal sources.

Usually the Mishna quotes psak halacha -- case law. Often the amoraim
construe the psak to be an example of a legal principle. I'll use the
term ta'am. "Ta'am" can mean different things in different contexts,
but it's used for legal principles in the examples I intend to cite.

In an ideal world we could identify a ta'am from a psak, but often
amoraim disagree about which ta'am generated the psak they're
discussing. Sometimes even tannaim argue about this. <examples?>

Leaf through masseches Eduyos and you'll see that the very strong
bias of the mishna is to preserve piskei halacha without preserving
ta'amim. This bias is recognized in halacha; a beis din will record a psak
din routinely, but when asked to record ta'amim they will individuate
the record ??" one dayan said X, two dayanim said Y, and two more said

Let me introduce a bit more terminology. A "pure psak" is one that can
have been motivated by only one ta'am, and a "mixed psak" is one that
have been motivated by more than one ta'am. I wonder if there's a third
type ??" one that could have been generated only by a vote. If I come
up with an example I'll add another term here.

Let's pause to consider Tshuvos Noda B'Yehudah II HM 3. The case is
this (he gives few details). Reuven sues Shimon for $100, $50 for grama
(indirect damages), and $50 for the cost of a failed attempt at recovery
of the first $50. One dayan rules against both claims, one rules in
favor only of the first, and one rules in favor only of the second. If
there had been two votes, one for each claim, Shimon would have won both
claims, but the vote was on total monetary damages, and the court ruled
that Shimon owed Reuven $50. Rabbi Landau upheld the ruling. In summary,
RYL ruled that battei din vote on psak, not on ta'am.

It's hard to learn anything definitive about grama from this claim because
we have the details neither of the case nor of the individual dayanim's
reasoning. Observe, however, that no dayan voted for both claims. Can we
conclude that the claims are contradictory? I don't think so. But if we
impute ta'amim to piskei dinim, as one of my rebbeim often did to the
tshuvos cited in Pischei Tshuvah, and as the amoraim seem to do when
citing the mishna, we might end up drawing that conclusion.

I want to expand this point. PT on SA usually cites the psak but not
the ta'am. My rebbi of the previous paragraph grew up in a poor town in
Poland, where he did not have access to the original tshuvos, but even
in America, where we had an ample library, his preferred methodology
was to impute ta'amim to the cited psakim rather than look them up. That
seems to have been the expectation of the author of PT as well.

So what's my problem? I was trained to pasken based on ta'am. Certainly
the gemara assumes something like that. The standard question "may
kasavar?" is predicated on "doesn't this imply that the author accepts
two contradictory ta'amim?" But if a psak is mixed how can I get a ta'am
from it? Why does halacha use a methodology which increases uncertainty?

This is more of a problem now than it used to be. The life portrayed by
the Shulhan Aruch is not very different from the life portrayed by the
Mishna, so psakim can easily be followed for generations. Nowadays we
have stainless steel pots and limited liability corporations, and we can
decide their halachic status only by imputing ta'amim to presumptively
mixed psak.

So RJR worries about mixing "methodologies", because they may somehow
contradict each other. He doesn't give details, but I, obsessed as
I am, can't but wonder whether the "methodologies" are proxies for
ta'amim. Do two poskim who accept the same ta'amim necessarily use the
same methodology, or are our problems generally distinct?

RMB wonders, in my terminology, if the Sanhedrin gives only pure psak,
and I respond by saying that in some circumstances they can't -- the
decision of RYL requires a mixed psak, and the Sanhedrin can't just
refuse to pasken. How, according to RMB, would they avoid this problem?

So how do I justify the methodology I grew up with? Why does the PT not
cite ta'amim? What's really going on?

David Riceman

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2019 21:34:29 -0400
[Avodah] How Fast Do You Daven

R' Barry Kornblau posted this chart on Facebook.

The chart opens with a list of talking speeds:
        Average speed of conversation: 110-150 words per minute
        Audio books are recited at:    150-160 wpm
        Auctioneers talk at a rate of: 250-400 wpm

Then multiplies these speeds out by the number of words in numerous
tefillos. For example, a 2.9 min Nusach Ashkenaz Shemoneh Esrei,
or a 3.3 min Nusach Sfard one means you're daveing at slow
auctioneer speed.

There is a whole table. See the picture at the link.

You might want to see where you stand; could help motivate slowing
down enough to think. At least it's been of help for me for the
past day or two.

Here is RBK's accompanying text
    This Shabbat, my sermon noted that my upbringing in Reform Temple
    Beth El of Great Neck properly taught me, among other things, one
    basic halachah: the requirement to recite all one's prayers and
    blessings with feeling and understanding. One cannot do this while
    reciting the siddur at the speed of an auctioneer (daily amidah
    of 3 minutes, for example) as is routine for many Orthodox Jews;
    instead, one must speak slowly and enunciate deliberately - as is
    fitting for addressing the Master of All.
    #HowFastDoYouPray #PrayerSpeedLimit

And R Reuven Spolter blogged his response "The Pace of Tefillah: In
Defense of the Daily Minyan - the People Who Show Up Every Day" at

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 "Someday I will do it." - is self-deceptive. 
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   "I want to do it." - is weak. 
Author: Widen Your Tent      "I am doing it." - that is the right way.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                 - Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk

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Message: 6
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2019 05:56:34 +0000
[Avodah] reward for mitzvot

The Drashot Haran (Drasha #6) posits that while HKB"H set varying "gmul"
(reward) for the 613 mitzvoth, he didn't tell us which (me-positive ones)
had greater reward in order that we not focus only on those mitzvoth but
rather try to do all in hopes that we include the high value targets.
It would be interesting to see what alternative rewards system a
compensation consultant might come up with to support the same desired
results. Of course a good consultant would tell you compensation is only a
part, and often not the key driver, in the market/employee value

Joel ric

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Message: 7
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2019 05:58:44 +0000
[Avodah] community minhag

Community plays a large role in halacha (ex. community minhagim, rabbinic
leadership acceptance of Shabbat, responsibility to educate...)
Historically these started out geographically defined but seem to have
morphed to include family, prior culture, geography etc. Given the
proliferation of virtual communities will virtual community membership also
be a factor in halachic determinations?

Joel rich

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Message: 8
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2019 08:14:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Chazal accept medicinal treatments

R' Joel Rich asked:

> Clarke?s first law states that any sufficiently advanced
> technology is indistinguishable from magic. If so, how did
> Chazal accept any medicinal treatments from non-halachic
> sources (since no one knew how these treatments actually
> worked [and in the end they didn?t])?

First of all, if anyone is thrown by the reference to Clarke, please see
the THIRD law at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

Next, I would say the same thing as others have posted, but in much simpler
terms, that it doesn't matter whether these treatments ACTUALLY worked, as
long as Chazal BELIEVED they worked. [Let's be honest. Do we really know
what works? No, we don't.]

Thus, I believe the question should be reworded to <<< how did Chazal
accept any medicinal treatments from non-halachic sources) >>>.

In other words, if our best medical minds believe that a specific treatment
DOES work, but they cannot explain HOW it works, then we can (and MUST)
ask: how do we know that this is a muttar medical treatment, and not a form
of assur magic?

As a specific example, I was going to cite aspirin, which clearly works,
though I had long believed we don't know HOW it works. Then I saw Wikipedia
("aspirin") state <<< In 1971, British pharmacologist John Robert Vane,
then employed by the Royal College of Surgeons in London, showed aspirin
suppressed the production of prostaglandinsand thromboxanes. For this
discovery he was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,
jointly with Sune Bergstr?m and Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson. >>>

Given this revelation, my question will be: How was aspirin muttar *prior
to* 1971? The generally accepted belief was that it DOES work, but that we
didn't yet understand the mechanism by which it works. In such a scenario,
how did we ascribe it to muttar refuah, and not to forbidden magic?

Disclaimer: The above is intended to he a clarification of RJR's post. I
really don't think I've added anything substantial, except for people who
may not have understood the original.

On a related note, R' Micha Berger posted:

> They only talk about establishing a qemeia mumcheh or a rofei
> mumcheh or a refu'ah. They don't talk about counter-evidence.
> And yet one doesn't need to know that 3 out of hundreds of uses
> is more likely to be a fluke or "coincidence" (if your theology
> allows for actual coincidences) than proof the medicine worked.

That's according to OUR understanding of probability. It seems that Chazal
(or possibly the ancients in general) had an entirely different way of
looking at these things. (The classic example of the nine kosher butchers
is enough to convince me of that.) Note that although they weren't on our
level of requiring double-blind randomized tests, I do recall some poskim
saying things like, "It's not enough that the qemeia worked three times; it
has to work three *consecutive* times."

Akiva Miller
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