Avodah Mailing List

Volume 38: Number 30

Sun, 03 May 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2020 17:07:18 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Report: Orthodox Weddings to Resume with

On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 08:13:40PM +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
>> So, I take Chazal (and the Rambam) as demanding we take lessons from
>> what happens to us. Whether or not we find THE cause. What did the
>> pandemic and current lifestyle bring up for you?>>

> That also makes sense to me.

>> The thing you are
>>     already motivated about is the ideal thing to be working on.>>

> I wonder about that though.  A plague seems a bit extreme as something
> merely to give you a push along the lines that you were already working. 

That's because it didn't come out right. I was thinking of "already" in
terms of before you formally ask "What does Hashem want of me from all

To phrase more clearly (I hope): The thing that naturally comes up for
you from the experience is the ideal thing to be working on.

Hunting for something to work on should be focused on becoming more
self-aware about what thoughts and emotions are already brought up by
the pandemic before the hunt.

Which will tend toward the correlation you quote from R Leuchter:

> " In this, too, we find a correlation between the physical and the spiritual
> aspects of a plague. On the physical level, the fear of plague-certainly
> that we are currently facing-is not necessarily a fear of personal infection
> and illness....

And thank you for bringing his words to my attention. To repeat the
URL for others:
> https://iyun.org.il/en/article/coronavirus-the-charedi-response/covid-19-a-view-from-above

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Today is the 18th day, which is
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   2 weeks and 4 days in/toward the omer.
Author: Widen Your Tent      Netzach sheb'Tifferes: What is imposing about
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                           balance?

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Message: 2
From: <mco...@touchlogic.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2020 20:09:51 -0400
[Avodah] Q & A from Horav Shlomo Miller

For those interested I have an updated Q & A from Horav Shlomo Miller 

Email me offline for a copy


2650 short Q & A.

on every topic under the rainbow. English


Mordechai Cohen 

mco...@touchlogic.com <mailto:mco...@touchlogic.com> 

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Message: 3
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2020 23:40:15 -0400
Re: [Avodah] How To Religiously Respond to the Pandemic

It is wonderful and vital to give people hadracha and hope during this

However, isn?t there a much bigger proverbial elephant in the room?


1. Covid-19 is not killing indiscriminately. It is discriminating very
clearly between people with robust v. weak immune systems. This fact is
becoming more and more clear as more data become available.

2. Some people?s immune systems are beyond their control. Most people,
however, have control over their immune systems. For instance, someone who
exercises vigorously every day, eats leafy green vegetables every day, takes
vitamin-D supplements and maintains a healthy BMI will have a stronger
immune system than someone who lacks any of the above. The death rate among
the obese, sedentary, smokers etc is far, far higher than the thin, active

3. The Medrash (Vayikra Raba 16:8, last week?s parsha) states that 99% of
people do not live their full potential lifetime due to neglecting their

Isn?t the halacha that one must be more cautious about our health than
avoiding issur? 

Does it not appear that if every Yid were caring for his health
appropriately, the Covid-19 death rate would be very low if not zero?

What would it take for the Rabbanim ? in kehilas, blogs, magazines - to
speak and write publicly about personal responsibility for health-promoting
daily practices in addition to avoiding sakana?

"Rambam puts the responsibility for your health on you; whatever happens,
you?re the one who is responsible." - R? Avigdor Miller (Rav Avigdor Miller
on Emunah and Bitachon, p. 84)

Alexander Seinfeld

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Message: 4
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2020 12:04:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] How To Religiously Respond to the Pandemic

So a pack a day to keep the virus away?

It?s an intriguing claim; however, there are numerous reasons to be
skeptical of such studies. Here are a few:

1. They are finding correlations between smoking and hospitalization, not
death rates. AFAIK, there is no study that shows that smokers are less
likely to die from covid-19.
2. The data may be completely unreliable. Does every hospital record
accurately whether covid-19 patients are current smokers? We have no idea.
What about all the people who die from it at home? These studies don?t
include them.
3. You can find studies to support almost any theory. Lot of bad science out
there. In this case, with multiple variables on both the host (human) and
virus (its effects on the body) it?s quite complicated. The first step is to
establish the veracity of the correlation, meaning the data must be
rigorously vetted. If the correlation does hold, then they have to find out
what is the cause. It may have nothing to do with smoking. Moreover, there
are other correlations that show smokers at greater risk.
4. Even if smoking does increase ACE-2 receptors (as this theory claims), it
has so many other deleterious effects on the body that the person who is
hospitalized likely has greater risks for death. If you read what they are
saying about how the virus affects the body, it?s not limited to the lungs,
it has multiple paths to disable or kill a person.
5. If smoking does ironically help in some way, how much smoking? Is there a
difference between a daily cigarette or two v. a chain-smoker? These studies
have not (and cannot) differentiate.

Therefore, if your point is that ?smokers? should remain on the side of
theory and not fact, I accept the correction. But from what I?ve read, most
doctors and researchers believe it to be true.

If there is a real cause-effect here, I suspect that it may be like this:
smoking may ironically lower a person?s chance for initial infection, but
once infected, increase their chance of death.

> Actually, a number of studies show that smokers are markedly less affected by
> this virus than non-smokers.
> On Tue, 28 Apr 2020 at 11:16, Alexander Seinfeld via Avodah
> <avo...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:
>> Facts: 
>>  The death rate among the obese, sedentary, smokers etc is far, far higher
>> than the thin, active non-smokers.

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Message: 5
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2020 13:55:17 +0000
[Avodah] Meat Before Fish

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Series

Q. I know that it is customary to not eat fish and meat together, but it is
okay to eat one after the other. I have seen fish served before meat but
never meat served before fish. Is there a reason for this specific

In halacha, there is no difference between eating fish and then meat or
meat and then fish. In both instances one should cleanse their mouth in
between by having a bite of bread and drinking a beverage. According to the
Shulchan Aruch (YD 116:3) if the meat or fish were touched with one?s
hands, the hands must be washed in between, but if a fork was used, there
is no need. According to the Rama (ibid.), there is no need to wash one?s
hands either way, as long as the hands appear to be clean. So, why is the
custom to always serve fish first?

Rav Shmuel Wosner, zt?l (Kuntres Shmiras Haguf V?hanefesh) addresses this
issue. He explains the common custom of eating fish before meat by
referencing the Rambam in Hilchos De?os (4:7). The Rambam writes that if a
person intends to eat two foods, the one that is lighter and easier to
digest should be eaten first. For example, chicken should be eaten before
meat. Since fish is lighter than both chicken and meat, it is customary to
serve fish first at the beginning of a meal.

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Message: 6
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2020 03:36:19 +0000
[Avodah] The Oral Law ? Chaim H. Schimmel

Comments on the new edition:
The Oral Law ? Chaim H. Schimmel
This book provides an approach to understanding the roles of Rabbis in
transmitting and building the oral law. They have functioned as
transmitters interpreters, legislators and regulators. There has been much
debate throughout Jewish history as to what ?oral torah? Moshe directly
received and which rules have the force of torah authority.
One underlying theme hinted at, but not fully addressed, is why, in practice, is rabbinic interpretation and legislation binding and how is it constrained?
Not light reading and the Hebrew texts in the appendix, as well as Rabbi
Simcha Wasserman?s notes (which in some cases undercut the author?s point),
may not be easy reading for some.
Perhaps this would be a good textbook for adult education on the topic!
Joel Rich

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Message: 7
From: Joseph Kaplan
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2020 01:24:22 +0000
[Avodah] How To Religiously Respond to the Pandemic

I very much appreciated what R' Micha wrote about religiously responding
to the pandemic. But one of his comments, while also speaking to me,
should have gone one step farther.

"As for my own experience, one of the things the whole situation drove
home was how one person infects two or three, and they, 6 or 7... So to me
the realization of social interaction, rechilus, or just plain spreading
negativity, was driven home more than feelings of loss of control."

Very true of course. But it works with doing good as well. We can, though
our social interactions, also infect 2 or 3 or 6 or 7 with deeds of chesed
and kindness and thoughtfulness and Torah learning and friendship. It's
all up to us.



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