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Volume 38: Number 89

Fri, 30 Oct 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:41:39 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Definition of a Tzadik

On Sun, Oct 25, 2020 at 04:58:31PM +0000, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
>                                                                      The
> primary meaning of Tzedek is social justice;

Justice, yes, but social justice? Even taking out assumptions now associated
with that idiom, I am not sure tzedaq refers to societal-level justice
more than the one-on-one kind.

After all, "tzedeq tzedeq tirdof" is a command to a litigant to make a point
of looking for an honest court. (Sanhedrin 32, Sifrei, Rashi Devarim 16:20)
And the context in Devarim is right after telling the court not to favor one
litigant nor o take bribes.

It's not an order to the king, or to the Sanhedrin 

> RSRH also writes on this pasuk [Bereishis 6:9]
>> Tamim, on the other hand, is usually construed with halach and
>> derech. The primary meaning of derech is a person's development toward
>> the perfection of his own personality, his gradual progression from
>> step to step. The Tzadik who acts and performs deeds pays no attention
>> to his own personality....

Then how did they become a tzadiq?

I don't see how the 2nd and 3rd sentences work together.

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: Rich, Joel
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2020 23:24:31 +0000
[Avodah] rosh hashana

Rosh Hashanah has been difficult for me for a long time. Rosh Hashana is
both a Yom Din and a coronation night(malchiyot). F Scott Fitzgerald said,
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed
ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
So how can we experience the pure joy of a coronation at the same time that
we feel the dread of judgement day?
But now I realize that I had really heard a possible  answer many decades
ago from Rav Nissan Alpert ZT"L. Everyone questions why on Pesach there is
no blessing over saying the Haggadah, after all we are completing the
mitzvah of sippur yetziat mitzrayim. Rav Alpert explained that we need to
consider the text of a bracha which is usually of the form, "elokeinu
MELECH haolam, asher kidshanu bmitzvotav VTZIVANU". This text implies that
before there can be a commandment, there must be an accepted commander.
Since on Pesach we are re-experiencing the exodus in which we accepted the
commander, we cannot say a blessing before such an acceptance.
I think this applies on Rosh Hashanah as well. It is the very act of
accepting HKB"H as our king that engenders the fear of the Yom Hadin. If we
don't perceive authority, we have no reason to fear. It's only once we
accept that authority that we can experience our responsibility to that
authority. Thus both feelings are caused by the same acceptance. We are
thrilled by the ein od mlvado nature of our unique relationship with HKB"H
even at the same time as we feel the weight of our assumed responsibility.


Joel rich

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Message: 3
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:20:55 +0000
[Avodah] The Danger of Being Too Isolated

The following is from the new translation of RSRH's commentary on the Chumash.
Dare one suggest that Chareidi and Chassidic educators keep this in mind when dealing with their students?  YL

Bereishis 20:1  Avraham journeyed forth from there to the south country and settled between Kadesh and Shur, and he sojourned in Gerar.

Avraham settled (i.e., took up permanent residence) between Kadesh
and Shur, but he also sojourned (i.e., took up temporary residence) in
Gerar. What were the reasons for these two contrasting actions?

We have seen that, initially, Avraham sought to isolate himself and
his household from the atmosphere and society of the cities. For this
reason he first settled in the desolate south, and only gradually established
ties with the cities, finally settling among his allies, Aner, Eshkol,
and Mamre, who related to him with respect and esteem.

Now we see him, in his waning years, returning to the south. He
settles between Kadesh and Shur, in an isolated, uninhabited area near
the wilderness of Shur, which is known as a complete wasteland. At the
same time, however, he seeks contact with city life and occasionally
stays in Gerar, the capital of the Philistine kings.

Unless we are totally mistaken, we would venture to say that what
prompted Avraham and Sarah to change their place of residence was
the expectation of the imminent birth of their son. A Yitzchak should
be educated in isolation, far removed from any negative influence.

On the other hand, complete isolation, which denies the student all
contact with people who think differently and whose aims and way of
life differ from his own, is a dangerous educational mistake. A young
person who has never seen a way of life other than that of his parents,
never had an opportunity to compare his parents? lifestyle with that of
others, and never learned to appreciate the moral contrast between the
two, will never learn to value, respect and hold fast to the ways his
parents have taught him. He will surely fall victim to outside influences
at his first encounter with them, just as one who fears the fresh air and
closets himself in his room can be sure of catching cold as soon as he
goes outdoors.

Avraham?s son, the future bearer of Avraham?s heritage, should, from
time to time, enter the world that is alien to the spirit of Avraham.
There he can evaluate opposing ideas and strengthen himself to keep
to the ways of Avraham in a world that is opposed to them. For this
purpose Avraham chooses the capital of a Philistine prince.

In the land of the Philistines the degeneracy had apparently not spread
to the extent that it had reached in Canaan; hence the Philistines were not
subject to the destruction decreed upon their Emorite neighbors.
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Message: 4
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2020 12:35:05 +0000
[Avodah] Tzar baalei chayim (the restriction against causing

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. Is tzar baalei chayim (the restriction against causing pain to animals) a Biblical or Rabbinic prohibition?

A. The position of most major Rishonim is that needlessly causing pain to
animals is Biblically prohibited. This is the opinion of the Rif, Rosh and
Rashba. Some maintain that according to the Rambam, tzar baalei chayim is
Rabbinically prohibited. Shulchan Aruch (OC 305:19) and Rema (CM 272:9)
both agree that tzar baalei chayim is a Torah prohibition.

What is the Biblical source for tzar baalei chayim? Most Rishonim infer
this from the mitzvah of ?prikah? (the requirement to help unload an animal
in distress). However, the Meiri (Baba Metzia 32b) derives tzar baalei
chayim from the prohibition of muzzling an animal while it works (Devarim
25:4), and the Hagos Chasam Sofer (Baba Metzia 36b) writes that it is based
on the pasuk ? and His compassion is on all His creations? (Tehilim 145:9).

In general, there is no halachic difference if tzar baalei chayim is a
Torah or Rabbinic prohibition, as either way, it is strictly prohibited.
However, poskim point out one area where this issue is relevant. Shulchan
Aruch Harav (305:29) writes, although it is prohibited to milk a cow on
Shabbos, one may ask a non-Jew to do so. The justification is that if a cow
is not milked for 24 hours, the animal will suffer much pain. Since the
Shulchan Aruch rules that tzar baalei chayim is a Biblical prohibition, the
Torah imperative overrides the Rabbinic injunction of amira lo?akum (the
prohibition against asking a non-Jew to perform melacha on Shabbos).

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Message: 5
From: torah...@torahweb.org
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2020 20:38:59 -0400
[Avodah] [TorahWeb] Rabbi Mayer Twersky - Do Not Be

(I had to transliterate for the purposes of the digest. They are kept
in brackets. -micha)

Rabbi Mayer Twersky

An adapted, English version of [Al Tehi Tzadiq Harbei], published 7
Cheshvan 5781 / 25 October 2020


For the past months within several of our communities we have been
confronted by a strange, dissonant reality.

* On the one hand, we are scrupulously observant, and yet, on the other
  hand, shockingly contemptuous of the cardinal [mitzvah] to safeguard
  life ([venishmartem me'od lenafshoseikhem]).

* As multifariously evidenced both on a collective, communal level as
  well as a personal, individual level, we are extraordinarily kind and
  compassionate. And yet, we have been acting with extreme cruelty in
  transmitting a potentially lethal virus to each other with predictably
  catastrophic consequences.

* We are committed to protecting the honor of Heaven ([kavod Shamayim])
  and yet, time and time again, our contempt for public health measures
  has greatly profaned the honor of Heaven ([chilul hasheim]).

Who would have thought that such a contradiction fraught scenario could
possibly exist? And yet, indisputably, this scenario prevails in several
of our communities.


Let us present and reflect upon one cause (inter alia) of this dissonant
reality. (Human behavior, like humans themselves, is complex, and we
ought to steer clear of reductionism.) "Human nature is such... that a
person emulates his fellow citizens" (Rambam, Hilchos De'os 6:1). "It is
prohibited to adopt gentile practices or emulate their ways... Rather a
Jew should stand apart from them, distinguished in his dress and conduct,
just as he stands apart in his knowledge and character, as the Torah
states, 'I have set you apart from the nations'" (ibid. Hilchos Avoda
Zara 11:1).

Throughout the millennia we have made a consistent, concerted effort to
overcome susceptibility to negative influences, thereby retaining our
singular identity and remaining a distinct, unique people. In recent
decades, however, in several of our communities we have adopted a
greatly exaggerated stance. A Weltanschauung has emerged and crystalized
which indiscriminately rejects and contemptuously dismisses the outside
world in toto. Our motivation is noble, but our actions are decidedly
ignoble. This extreme Weltanschauung with its intellectual xenophobia
embellishes the Torah's imperative of separateness. In embellishing,
we diminish, undermine, and imperil ([kol hamosif goreia]).

Contempt and hatred inevitably result in extreme, anomalous behavior
([sin'ah meqalqeles es hashurah; Rashi, Bamidbar 22:21, Sanhedrin
105b). The painful, sacrilegious, dissonant reality we have experienced
these past months results from entrenched, indiscriminate contempt and
blind, self-destructive hatred. As previously discussed, there is vital
need for discriminating, targeted rejection of outside intellectual
and cultural currents. Undoubtedly, most of contemporary society's
intellectual and cultural output is anathema and, as such, must be
blocked and rejected. Additionally, there is room for legitimate
difference of opinion regarding a small percentage of society's
intellectual output. But there is equally vital, halachic need to
"accept truth from whomever speaks it" (Rambam, introduction to Eight
Chapters). Rejection of societal culture must be discriminating because
Halachah is discriminating; while it unequivocally rejects that which is
antithetical, it unabashedly welcomes, even seeks, certain elements of
[chokhmah] even when they emanate from the outside world. Case in point:
Halachah recognizes, respects and relies upon medical knowledge and
opinion from the outside world. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 618:1.)

And yet, in clear, indefensible violation of Halachah, we have (in several
of our communities) throughout the pandemic ignored and rejected medical
science, its warnings and protocols. In so doing we have acted against
our own halachic principles; cruelly inflicted suffering and death upon
ourselves; and betrayed our most sacred trust of [kavod Shemayim].

This profoundly anomalous, self-contradictory, self-destructive behavior
has resulted from the toxic hatred and exaggerated, indiscriminate
contempt for the outside world.

An even more pronounced form of the self-contradiction has been
rejecting medical knowledge even when shared by Torah observant medical
health professionals who otherwise are highly respected within our
communities. All this rejection and negativity despite the fact that we
ourselves, in other medical contexts, seek the best medical treatment
available. Apparently, when the initiative is ours, we embrace medical
knowledge from the outside world. But when we perceive the initiative
as coming from the outside, our visceral contempt self-destructively

Plagued by a mindset of contempt and suspicion, we also become especially
susceptible to misinformation, deception and falsehood cynically
propagated to contradict and erode confidence in medical knowledge and
guidelines. Our association with such primitivity and perversion adds yet
another dimension to the terrible [chilul hasheim]. In this context we
are unavoidably reminded of the measles outbreak within small segments
of some of our communities due to lack of vaccination.


Currently, within our aforementioned communities, there are calls for
compliance with public health protocols and guidelines. And yet the
distortion of Torah and the [chilul hasheim] continue unabated. The
reason being, that we do not attribute the need for compliance with the
Torah's zealous, proactive, preventive protection of life. Instead, we
attribute the need to comply with our desire to have Yeshivos re-open
or remain open. We thus outrageously insinuate that ours is a callous
religion r"l exclusively devoted to study, cruelly and irresponsibly
impervious to loss of life. Other voices within our communities cite the
second wave as a reason for compliance, as though Halachah only reacts to
loss of life ex post facto. Our stubborn, ongoing distortion of [Torah]
is staggering and frightening.

How long will we distort [Torah]? And how long will we continue to be
[mechalel sheim Shamayim]?


The ongoing distortion of Torah and [chilul hasheim] demand from us
wide-ranging, incisive introspection. The following thought, briefly
presented, constitutes, at best, a partial beginning of this crucial

The pandemic has not created deficiencies or deficits within our
Weltanschauung. It has "only" highlighted pre-existing flaws and exposed
their depth. (Thus, for example, we ought to recognize that the imbalance
and disproportionality of our approach express themselves in other,
non-medical, fundamental forms and contexts.) Accordingly, the end of
the pandemic, for which we pray, will not cure these (or other) core
religious-spiritual ills.

A religious-philosophical system which distorts [Torah] and causes
continuous [chilul hasheim] is fundamentally flawed; it can neither guide
us in our lives nor provide an educational framework for our children.
Fundamental change and correction are required as part of [teshuvah]. The
task is most formidable, but not too formidable given the devotion and
dedication which characterize our communities.

"Let us search our ways, and investigate; and return to Hashem"
(Eicha 3:40).

Copyright (c) 2020 by TorahWeb.org. All rights reserved.

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Message: 6
From: Brent Kaufman
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2020 23:33:06 -0500
[Avodah] Names of the Months

> >>From: Alexander Seinfeld <seinf...@daasbooks.com>
> >>Not only did Moshe have many names, few people called him ?Moshe? in his
> lifetime. (His father called him Avigdor, his mother called him Tovia,
> Bnai Yisroel called him Sofer etc.)
> I have no reason to think that Moshe was called anything other than Musa.
It was an Egyptian word (ie. The consonants m-s) meaning ?born from?. Hence
Ramses was ?born from Ra?.

The people knew him by that name as part of the royal family. It?s unknown
whether Bnei Yisrael knew that he was one of them and the story behind his
birth and being found by bad Paro. It seems unlikely to let that kind of
information be public knowledge as it would have been dangerous if it was
well known. There are always Dasan and Aviram types around in every

I just always figured that he was called Robby Musa throughout the time in
the desert.

>>You con?t ask about days of the week (in English) - Rav Hirsch writes in
> one of his essays how much it bothers him that people use idolatrous names
> for the week days.
> I didn?t ask about them because those names were not brought into the
Torah world by a consensus of chachamim as the months were. Nisan, Iyar,
Sivan are now the official Jewish names and are used in Halachik discourse.
Whereas the days of the week are used without thinking, for convenience;
but are not used in Torah literature.

*- "When life gives you lemons, shut up and eat your lemons."*
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Message: 7
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2020 17:36:57 +0000
[Avodah] Q. Does the issur of tzar baalei chayim (the

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. Does the issur of tzar baalei chayim (the prohibition of causing animals pain) apply to insects and rodents?

A. Rav Yaakov Emden (Shailas Yavetz 110) writes that it forbidden to kill
domesticated animals pointlessly because of the issur of tzar baalei
chayim, but is permitted to kill harmful animals, as well as pesty rodents
and insects. As noted previously, one of the main sources for tzar baalei
chayim is the mitzvah of ?prikah? (helping to unload animals in distress),
which relates to animals that work and serve human needs. He writes that
even smaller animals such as dogs and cats are also included in the
restriction because they have positive functions. As support, Rav Yaakov
Emden quotes the Gemara (Shabbos 12a) that Rav Nachman would instruct his
daughters to kill lice. Thus, we see that the restriction of tzar baalei
chayim does not apply to creatures that bite, sting or otherwise cause
harm. He notes that the great kabbalist, the Ari z?l, taught his students
not to kill any living creature, including lice. However, that was based on
mystical and esoteric concepts, and does not refl
 ect mainstream practice.

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