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Volume 38: Number 114

Tue, 22 Dec 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Zev Sero
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 00:38:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] If Asara B?Teives would fall on Saturday, the

I very much doubt it.  It's all very well for the Avudraham to posit 
this as an academic exercise, but if it were actually possible for it to 
happen then I'm reasonably confident nobody would actually pasken that 
way. Only because it's an impossible hypothetical do we amuse ourselves 
by playing with the idea.

Until the modern calendar was established in the mid-4th century CE, the 
tenth *could* fall on Shabbos, and yet there is no mention in the mishna 
or gemara of such a halacha.  Also the Rambam, who lays down the halacha 
for all times, not just modern times, mentions nothing of this.  He 
doesn't even bother ruling against it; the idea that it could be so 
simply never arises.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a *healthy* and happy 5781
z...@sero.name       "May this year and its curses end
                      May a new year and its blessings begin"

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Message: 2
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 16:59:49 +0000
[Avodah] May One Make Kiddush Before Tzais This Friday?

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. This year the fast of Asara B?Teives will be on Friday. Must we fast
until tzeis ha?kochavim (night fall when stars are visible), or should we
make Kiddush early to avoid fasting on Shabbos?

A. The Gemara (Eiruvin 41a) relates that one year, Tisha B?Av fell out on
Friday (this can no longer happen, due to our set calendar). Late in the
afternoon, they brought Rebbi Akiva an egg and he ate it, to show his
students that one may not enter Shabbos in a state of fasting. Rebbi Yossi
said that one completes the fast. The Gemara concludes that the Halacha
follows the ruling of Rebbi Yossi.

However, there is a disagreement among Rishonim as to the meaning of Rebbi
Yossi?s words. The Mordechai (Eiruvin 41a) cites the opinion of the R?I,
that Rebbi Yossi also agrees that one may end the fast early. His argument
was only that he holds that one is permitted to continue fasting into the
night even though it is Shabbos. Yet, if one wants to break the fast early,
it is permissible to do so. However, many Rishonim (including the Tosfos
Shantz, Rashba, Ritva and Ran) explain that Rebbi Yossi requires finishing
the fast even though it is Shabbos. This is also the ruling of Shulchan
Aruch (OC 249:4). The Rema however differentiates between a public fast and
a private fast. On a public fast such as Asara B?Teives one must complete
the fast until tzeis ha?kochavim. However, regarding a private fast, one
may break the fast after being mekabel Shabbos (accepting Shabbos), which
takes place during maariv, even if one makes early Shabbos.

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Message: 3
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2020 10:01:15 -0500
[Avodah] Vizhnitz Rebbe Asks Chasidim To Make Kiddush This

At 07:30 AM 12/21/2020,Zev Sero wrote:
>On 20/12/20 11:10 am, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
>> I have never understood this custom.? The hours between 6 and 7 PM
>> differ depending upon where one is in the world, so if Mars is
>> controlling the world between 6 and 7 pm in EY, it seems to me that it
>> is not controlling the world in Brooklyn between 6 and 7 pm where I live.

>No, it does not differ, except by the modern adjustment from actual
>solar time to Railroad Time.  On any given day Noon and Midnight are at
>exactly the same time all over the world, again before adjusting for
>Railroad Time.  And *mean* noon and midnight (which according to all
>opinions are used by halacha for "molad zaken", and according to RMF's
>family kabala are also used for all other purposes) are the same all
>over the world every day, again with the same modern adjustment.

But people are not using solar time when they do not make kiddush 
between 6 and 7 PM.  They are using local time, so what do they 
accomplish by not making kiddush between 6 and 7 pm local time?

[Email #2. -micha]

Recently I wrote that I simply do not understand this custom given that
the hour between 6 and 7 PM differs depending upon where one is in the
world. I received the following comments about this.

> I once was in a group discussion with the professor of astronomy,
> who was teaching a course I was taking while at Harvard. One of the
> group asked about astrology, and how the professor could be so sure that
> it was not true . He answered that when he was young, he investigated
> astrology with the same question. But he soon realized that most of their
> astronomical claims, such as "Saturn is ascending," were factually wrong.
> They were basing their predictions not on astronomical facts, but on
> statements made in books on astrology, and to most of them the actual
> facts were irrelevant.

> I harbor my doubts that most chasidic rebbes even understand the
> implications of the fact that the earth is round and rotates and revolves.
> Most balebatim do not really understand the implications, either, so how
> would a rebbe, who never learned basic astronomy and math? As far as
> chasidim are concerned, a statement like "Mars is the astrological sign
> controlling the world" is believed just as are stories of miracles wrought
> by this or that rebbe.. They do not want to be disturbed by actual facts.

and from the same person

> In addition to your question, if they really cared about when Mars was
> ascendent, the time would change by one hour when we move the clock.
> But by Chasidim, it remains 6:00 and 7:00. Therefore, they do not really
> care about where Mars is. QED.

 From another person

> Also, I think it should be dependent on real time which is local solar
> time. I can't believe that the time when Mars is controlling the world
> has anything to do with Eastern Standard Time which was only instituted
> about one hundred and twenty years ago. I believe as recently as the
> 1890s New York was 6 minutes ahead of Philadelphia.

Many may not be aware that time of day was not standardized until the 18th Century and in some places not until the 19th Century..

 From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_time#History

    Until the latter part of the 18th century, time was normally
    determined in each town by a local sundial of a location and enabled
    a precise time to be applied.

    Such new-found precision did not overcome a different problem: the
    differences between the local times of neighbouring towns. In Britain,
    local time differed by up to 20 minutes from that of London....
    Before the arrival of the railways, journeys between the larger
    cities and towns could take many hours or days, and these differences
    could be dealt with by adjusting the hands of a watch periodically
    en route... However, this variation in local times was large enough
    to present problems for the railway schedules. ... It soon became
    apparent that even such small discrepancies in times caused confusion,
    disruption, or even accidents.

Railway time - Wikipedia
    Railway time was the standardised time arrangement first applied
    by the Great Western Railway in England in November 1840, the first
    recorded occasion when different local mean times were synchronised
    and a single standard time applied....

See the above URL for more.

BTW, in most shuls the Molad is announced using Jerusalem solar time,
not local time where one is or even local Jerusalem time. We are supposed
to know when the Molad is when we bentsch Rosh Chodesh, yet most people
think that the time announced is local time and do not really know when
the Molad is where they are living. In some shuls they also announce
the Molad in local time.

[Email #3. -micha]

Reb Zalman Alpert, who comes from an old Chabad family, sent me the

They got it all wrong.

This has nothing to do with science. It's in the realm of Aggada and
kabbala which has no relation to logical scientific facts.

As if any scientist can prove the nissin in the Torah according to the
laws of science or the schemes of creation as plotted by the Ari.,Rashbi
or for that matter Chazal in midrashim.

How about the stories of Rabba bar bar Chona or the fact that Rav
Yehuda haNasi made kiddush after he was dead?! Let's write an essay
disproving that.

What does science have to do with this?

Those who are followers of the Besht, etc accept this at face value.
Will we get a scientist to come here and tell us there is no scientific
proof that tefillin shel rosh cause goyim to be scared of Jews? Sounds
like a task for a psychologist. If this were a matter of halacha, the
Rebbe would not waive it!

In this case of The Holy Rebbe of Vishnitz, we learn a serious moral
and ethical lesson. instead people go crazy about so called science.
Has anyone proved the Torah is true according to scientific facts?

You need to read Ahad HaAms essay on Moshe, although AH was not a
believer. it's a powerful essay as well as is Bialik.s essay on Halacha
and Aggada.

By the way, can the fellow at MIT prove Zimzum, sefirot Adam, kadmon,
sitra achra, etc, etc,, Bad news for all the haters here the Holy Gra
of Vilna and all greats like Rav Kook, Dessler, and Elyashev. They all
believed in doctrine of zimzum and sefirot.

Our MO community is fixated on science, which has very little to do with
many of our foundational myths. But in Judaism that's of minor concern,
as Halacha trumps all.

When the Holy Shinever rav of Galicia, son of the Divre Chaim, visited
Czarist Russia on a matter of heter Agunah, he went to Brisk. to Rav
Diskin, later of Jslm, who aided him. Then the Shinever said he was off
to Kovno to see the Kovno rav RIES ZL, the greatest posek of Russi. Rabbi
Diskin begged him not to go, because the Jews of Kovna have no concept
of chassidus, of a Rebbe and of their conduct. And The Rebbe did not go.

Same is true here. The MO community has no idea, as they say in Yiddish
vi men est dos - how to understand chasidic thought and customs.

By the way Chabad also observes this custom, and their last leader,
Rabbi MM Schneerson, not only studied science in an academic setting
but had an interest in astronomy, since his teen years, but he knew
science lechud and Yahadus lechud.

Zalman Alpert

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:08:59 -0500
[Avodah] Where is the Molad announced for?

Branching new thread from: Vizhnitz Rebbe Asks Chasidim To Make Kiddush
This Shabbos

On Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 10:01:15AM -0500, Prof. Levine wrote:
> BTW, in most shuls the Molad is announced using Jerusalem solar time,
> not local time where one is or even local Jerusalem time.

Because the practice is older than railroads and timezones.

Except it isn't solar time for Yerushalayim. If you figure out the mean
time of lunation, it's accurate for a meridian somewhere even further
East than the Jews in Bavel. Qandahar Afghanistan or so.

And if you add time after that, because there has to be some sliver
of the new moon for eidim to see, you get even further east.

However, the average time between new moons (lunation) is not a constant
down the centuries. It is getting longer; in other words, the moon is
slowing down. Energy is being spent pulling the tides around. And that
drag is making the moon's trip around the earth take longer.

(Also, the earth is spinning slower for the same reason. In other words,
our units of measure -- days, hours (day / 24) and chalaqim are longer
than Chazal's. But that's a smaller effect.)

So, nowadays the mean time between lunations (even when measured in days
and pieces of days) is just a shade longer than the molad. And this has
been adding up to the molad time every month for centuries so that we're
now talking the ballpark of a couple of hours.

I would therefore think that better than asking where the molad is most
accurate *now*, but for what meridian was the molad accurate for when
the din was established?

As I've posted in the past, we can equally ask: When the molad *interval*
was most accurate, on whose clock was the *time* the molad actually
happened similarly most accurate? Those are likely the same question
because the molad interval was most accurate in the mid-4th cent. Around
when our calendar was set up -- our most likely generation for enacting
the announcement of the molad time.

So, to ask the updated question: Where was the molad most accurate in the
last days of the amora'im? The answer still isn't Yerushalayim ih"q. But
someplace where the clock would read 23 min or so later. In today's
terms, it's somewhere around where Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan meet.

Let's say this line of reasoning is correct. (I am pretty sure the
actual math is; Google showed me others who reached the same conclusion.)
Why would they have chosen the clock at that meridian?

One explanation I find plausible: It's somewhere around the middle of
the Yishuv in those days, around half-way between EY and Bavel. So,
if you announce the time for the middle of the region, you minimize how
far off it is in everyone's local time.

I like to call it "Ur Kasdim Time".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                     Time flies...
http://www.aishdas.org/asp               ... but you're the pilot.
Author: Widen Your Tent                          - R' Zelig Pliskin
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:23:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Ha'od Avi Chai?"

On Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 10:51:16AM -0500, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
> Why didn't Yosef also ask about his grandfather? ...

Was Yoseif really asking about Yaaqov either? Or was it a followup to
"ani Yoseif".

As in:

Oh Yehudah, you just made that impassioned argument that you couldn't
keep Binyamin because you are so worried about our father's wellfare.
"I'm Yoseif. Well, is father still alive" after what you told him happened
to me?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Every child comes with the message
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   that God is not yet discouraged with
Author: Widen Your Tent      humanity.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                 - Rabindranath Tagore

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Message: 6
From: Zvi Lampel
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:39:06 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Ha'od Avi Chai?"

> From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
> Why didn't Yosef also ask about his grandfather? ... To the best of his
> knowledge Yitzchak might well still be
> alive, so why no mention of him? ...
> This is answered according to the approach (I posted back in 2006) that
Yosef was afraid that his father may have agreed with his sons that for his
own good he needed to be sent to golus. (After all, the last two things we
are told about their relationship is is that when Yosef reported his second
dream, ''Vayigar bo aviv,'' [and Yosef was not a mind reader to know
''v'aviv shamar ess hadavar], and that Yaakov sent Yosef out to his
brothers [why? to protect them?], who sent Yosef to golus.) And now, after
all these years, Yaakov did not order his sons to find Yosef and bring him

Yosef did not know his father thought he was killed by an animal.

So either Yaakov was in on it (and it would have been pointless for Yosef
to send a letter home, and a chutzpa for him to report that he became
Viceory of Egypt), or...Yaakov was no longer alive.

This is why Yosef was so concerned particularly about whether his father
was still alive, and asked about his welfare every time his brothers came
to him.

Zvi Lampel
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Message: 7
From: Zvi Lampel
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:59:12 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Le'ilui Nishmas an Infant

> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 13:39:22 -0500
> ZL: > But your original problem,
> >> I really don't know what le'ilui nishmas means when speaking of a
> nifteres
> >> who only lived 11 weeks,...
> >> will still remain unsolved, no?
> Yes. But we're talking about how the RBSO could be Just. I would prefer
> getting to a point of "I really don't know" than embracing theories
> that don't seem fair. It's theology. "I don't know" is a perfectly fine
> answer; we shouldn't insist we /can/ understand it all and settle for
> compromises....

True. But it is only a dilemma deserving an ''I don't know' response if you
accept the premises that the practice of saying kaddish in such a situation
is valid, somehow (although we don't know how) not in contradiction to the
sources you've brought (or in compliance with unknown sources that say
otherwise), and your feelings of fairness. Which premises I think you are
working with. Which, I think, brings us into the territory of the assumed
validity of minhagei Yisrael and the concept of bnei neviim heim.

Which I think you generally accept.


Zvi Lampel
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Message: 8
From: Zev Sero
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 18:50:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Where is the Molad announced for?

On 22/12/20 5:08 pm, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:

> As I've posted in the past, we can equally ask: When the molad *interval*
> was most accurate, on whose clock was the *time* the molad actually
> happened similarly most accurate? Those are likely the same question
> because the molad interval was most accurate in the mid-4th cent. Around
> when our calendar was set up -- our most likely generation for enacting
> the announcement of the molad time.

The practice of *announcing* the molad before birkas hachodesh is 
extremely recent. Early- to mid- 20th century.  Traditionally there was 
no announcement. Siddurim included an instruction that it is proper to 
*know* the molad at that time, so people would try to find it out, but 
for some reason the idea of informing everyone in the most efficient 
manner, by announcing it just before they needed to know it, didn't 
occur to anyone until recently.

So the rest of the discussion is not about the announcement but about 
the time itself.

The point of difficulty I have with your explanation is that it rests on 
an assumption that the interval in our tradition was completely precise 
when it was enacted. It seems to me that it was always rounded to the 
nearest chelek; if there happened to be a time when it was precise, 
that's nice, but it's not necessarily the time it was enacted. It could 
just as easily have been slightly short at the time, just as it's 
slightly long now.

I do think the plain implication in the Rambam is that it was *intended* 
to be Y'm time, and therefore was set a few centuries earlier than you 
suppose, or else the rate of change has itself changed and we can't know 
now precisely when it was accurate.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a *healthy* and happy 5781
z...@sero.name       "May this year and its curses end
                      May a new year and its blessings begin"

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Message: 9
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 18:45:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Where is the Molad announced for?

At 05:08 PM 12/22/2020, Micha Berger wrote:
>Except it isn't solar time for Yerushalayim.

 From https://oukosher.org/halacha-yomis/how-is-the-molad-calculated/

> In addition, it is worth noting that the molad is announced in 
> accordance with Jerusalem time.

> To explain what Jerusalem time means, we must first understand the 
> difference between civil time and solar time. In civil time, noon is 
> 12:00 p.m. In solar time, noon is the time when the sun reaches its 
> highest position in the sky. This is called high noon (or Chatzos in 
> halachic terms). There can be a significant disparity between the 
> civil noon and solar noon. For example, in the summer, the two times 
> may be an hour apart.

> Jerusalem time is based on solar time. 1:00 p.m. in Jerusalem time is 
> one hour after high noon, which may be 1:30 p.m or 1:45 p.m in civil time.

> BASED ON SOLAR TIME.  (My emphasis)


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Message: 10
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2020 19:57:28 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Le'ilui Nishmas an Infant

R' Danny Schoemann asked:

> Now I decide it's le'ilui nishmas a certain Opa who's Yahrzeit
> it is. Why & how would he get more credit than anybody else?
> Maybe because I'm learning specifically because it's his
> Yahrzeit? But that's not an "action" he did.
> Forget about learning a Mishna for a random childless niftar.
> How on earth does that work? or: how in heaven does that work? ;-)

I understand these situations to be similar to when one asks a tzadik to
daven for him. The tzadik is pained to some non-zero degree about the
petitioner's problem, and he asks Hashem to fix the situation. If Hashem
does so, it's not because of any zechus of the petitioner, but rather it is
to do a favor for the tzadik.

So too here. The learning is not a result of anything that Opa did. But the
learner is pained that Opa is gone, and he asks Hashem to redirect the
s'char of the learning into Opa's account. Or even if the learner has zero
pain about Opa being gone, he can still redirect the s'char the same way.

Akiva Miller
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