Avodah Mailing List

Volume 39: Number 97

Wed, 24 Nov 2021

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2021 18:07:39 -0500
[Avodah] Story details

I understand that the Torah is not a history book. The stories have
profound meanings, and our job is to figure out those meanings. And yet,
the stories and events, in general, *did* happen in the physical,
observable world. The pesukim must make sense on a practical level too.

Bereshis 37:12, 14 -

> His [Yosef's] brothers went to pasture their father's flock in
> Shechem. ... He [Yaakov] said to him [Yosef], go and see to the
> welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring
> me back word, so he sent him from the valley of Chevron and he
> arrived at Shechem.

Google Maps shows Chevron and Shechem (Nablus) as being about 48 miles (78
km) apart in a straight line. At Chazal's estimate of a person walking 40
mil per day, that's a two day trip if going in a straight line. And much
slower at the rate I imagine the sheep would mosey along. Is it normal for
shepherds to choose such a far destination? How long would it actually take
a group of shepherds to get from Chevron to Shechem?

Ramban 37:14 says, "haya merchak rav beineihem - there was a great distance
between them." But Seforno 37:13 says, "ayn derech rechoka ad sham - the
road to there is not far." Am I getting the locations mixed up? Are the
endpoints somewhere other than Chevron and Shechem?

Pasuk 17 tells us that after the brothers were in Shechem, they went to
Dosan. I suppose that they might have had other stops as well, on the way
to Shechem, and/or on the return trip back to Chevron. I have to wonder how
long these pasturing trips took, and how frequently they were done. Can
anyone suggest a short, layman-oriented description of how shepherding was
done back then?

Bereshis 37:18 -

> They [the brothers] saw him [Yosef] from afar, and before he got
> close to them, they conspired against him to kill him.

How far away was Yosef when they saw him and recognized him? Exactly *how*
did they recognize him? One possibility is that Yosef was close enough for
them to see the details of this stranger's face, but in that case, how was
there enough time for them to formulate their plan? (It is clear from the
pasuk that the planning was done in the time between seeing him and getting
close.) Was Yosef carrying a large flag with his name on it?

Maybe Yosef had a few servants accompanying him. Upon seeing a group of
shepherds in the distance, perhaps Yosef told the servants to run ahead and
see who that is. "If they are my brothers, tell them I'm here." This would
have given the brothers time to discuss their plans. But wouldn't the
servants have defended Yosef from the brothers' attack? Or did the brothers
kill the servants?

I am not really complaining about these stories. I'm not suggesting that
there are any real contradictions or inconsistencies in the text. But there
are an awful lot of details left out, and I'd like to have a better
understanding of exactly how it all happened. This is actually true of most
of the stories in the Chumash. (Frankly, it's also true of most stories in
today's newspapers and magazines. After all, the written word is limited in
many ways.)

These two stories are just the most recent examples that I came across. If
anyone can offer some background information on them, I'd like to hear it.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2021 03:51:50 +0000
[Avodah] ger katan

I was looking at ger katan and thinking that he must be patur from 7
mitzvot for, if not, conversion to Judaism would be a case of going to
kedusha kala (if chayav as a ben noach but not as a jew). Thoughts?
Joel Rich

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Message: 3
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2021 03:52:49 +0000
[Avodah] titanu (you let us wander)

I always wondered what titanu (you let us wander) was doing at the end of
the al cheits. Are we blaming HKB"H for our freely made decisions? When
learning Rambam's hilchot tshuva, it occurs to me saying that he can't make
us do the right thing, but he can answer our prayer to help us identify the
right path for us to go through with our own free will. Thoughts?
Joel Rich

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Message: 4
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2021 16:55:31 +0000
[Avodah] Thanksgiving: Harmless Holiday or Chukos HaGoyim?

From https://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/6105
Thanksgiving: Harmless Holiday or Chukos HaGoyim? ? Insights into Halacha ?
Ohr Somayach<https://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/6105>
Biur HaGr?a (Yoreh Deah 178: end 7) and Gilyon Maharsha (ad loc. 1). The
Gr?a is bothered by the fact that the sugya in Sanhedrin seems to imply
differently than the views of the Maharik, Ran, and later, the Rema, that a
Chok Goyim, even one that is not a Chok Avodah Zarah should still be
prohibited. Others who ask this question and conclude tzarich iyun on the
Maharik?s shittah include ...
One of the interesting aspects of being American and living in the ?Medina
shel Chessed? is dealing with secular holidays. A day off from work, more
time to learn, and suspended Alternate Side parking rules are always
appreciated. Of these holidays, Thanksgiving is by far the most popular
among Yidden, with many keeping some semblance of observance, generally as
a way of saying ?Thank You? and showing a form of Hakaras HaTov to our host
country. Although all agree that showing Hakaras HaTov is prudent, on the
other hand, it is well known that many contemporary poskim were very wary
of any form of actual Thanksgiving observance. This article sets out to
explore the history and halachic issues of this very American holiday.


As with many issues in halacha, there are different approaches to
Thanksgiving observance. In fact, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt?l alone has
written four different responsa on topic[11]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn11>.
Although in the earlier teshuvos he seems to be against the idea of a
Thanksgiving celebration, (possibly there were more religious connotations
involved in the early 1960s celebrations than in the 1980s), nevertheless,
in his later teshuvos he does allow a Thanksgiving observance (he notes
that it is not a religious celebration) with turkey being served, as long
as it is not seen as an obligatory annual celebration[12]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn12>, but
rather as a periodical ?simchas reshus?. All the same, Rav Moshe concludes
that it is still preferable not to have a celebration b?davka for

Other contemporary poskim who allowed eating turkey on Thanksgiving include
Rav Eliezer Silver, Rav Yosef Dov (J.B.) Soloveitchik (the Boston
Gaon)[13]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn13>, the
Rivevos Efraim,[14]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn14> and
Rabbi Yehuda Hertzl Henkin.[15]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn15> They
explain that Thanksgiving is ?only a day of thanks and not, Heaven forbid,
for idol celebration?. Therefore, they maintain that merely eating turkey
on Thanksgiving cannot be considered Chukos HaGoyim.

On the other hand, other contemporary authorities disagree. Rav Yitzchok
Hutner[16]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn16> is
quoted as maintaining that the establishment of Thanksgiving as an annual
holiday that is based on the Christian calendar is, at the very least,
closely associated with Avodah Zarah and therefore prohibited. He explains
that its annual observance classifies it as a ?holiday? and celebrating
Gentile holidays is obviously not permitted. It is well known that Rav
Avigdor Miller was a strong proponent of this view as well, as
Thanksgiving?s origins belay that it was actually established as a
religious holiday[17]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn17>.

Similarly, Rav Menashe Klein[18]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn18>
ruled that it is a prohibited to celebrate Thanksgiving. Aside for citing
the Gr?a?s opinion, which would prohibit any such celebration, he mentions
that although the Thanksgiving holiday was originally established by
(Pilgrims) rejoicing over their own survival, that they didn?t starve due
to their finding the turkey, and might not be considered Chukos HaGoyim,
nevertheless there is another prohibition involved. In Yoreh De?ah (148,
7), the Shulchan Aruch, based on a Mishna in Maseches Avodah Zara (8a),
rules that if an idolater makes a personal holiday for various reasons
(birthday, was let out of jail, etc.) and at that party he thanks his gods,
it is prohibited to join in that celebration. Rav Klein posits that the
same would apply to Thanksgiving, as it commemorates the original Pilgrim
Thanksgiving, thanking G-d for the turkey and their survival, and would be
certainly prohibited, and possibly even biblically.

An analogous ruling was given by Rav Dovid Cohen (of Gevul Ya?avetz), and
Rav Feivel Cohen (author of the Badei HaShulchan)[19]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn19>,
albeit for different reasons. Rav Feivel Cohen takes a seemingly extreme
position, maintaining that not only is it forbidden for a Jew to celebrate
Thanksgiving, it is even prohibited for a Gentile to do so as
well[20]<https://ohr.edu/6105#_edn20>! Rav
Dovid Cohen, on the other hand, writes that for a Jew to eat turkey on
Thanksgiving expressly for the sake of the holiday should be prohibited by
the rule of Tosafos, as it would be deemed following an irrational rule of
theirs that is improper to follow. Yet, he concedes that it is not
prohibited for a family to get together on a day off from work and eat
turkey together, as long as they do so not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but
rather because they like turkey. Even so, he concludes that it is still
preferable not to do so.

See the above URL for more.

I recall being at an Agudath Convention sometime in, I believe, the early
1980s. On Thursday,  the first day of the convention and Thanksgiving Day, 
turkey was served!  I am willing to bet that turkey will not be served this
year on Thanksgiving Day at the convention.

 Let me add that a friend of mine told me that when his children saw
 pictures of their grandparents' wedding,  they asked "Were Bobbie and
 Ziadie Jewish when they got married?"

The frum world has certainly changed over the years.

Prof. Yitzchok Levine

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:34:56 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Thanksgiving: Harmless Holiday or Chukos

R Dovid Lifshitz celebrated Thanksgiving with a goose.

You'll find that many gedolim who found refuge here celebrating
Thanksgiving. More so than people who grew up with the holiday.

As for the goose... It was the standard holiday food in Suvalk. And,
Rav Dovid didn't eat turkey. As a chumerah; his wife and children ate
/ eat. But because of the wonky mesorah about turkeys, my rebbe was
personally machmir not to.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 A wise man is careful during the Purim banquet
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   about things most people don't watch even on
Author: Widen Your Tent      Yom Kippur.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                     - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2021 15:05:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Prayer in Temple Times

On Fri, Nov 12, 2021 at 04:50:49PM +0000, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> From
> https://outorah.org/p/110844
>> Originally, people composed their own prayers. The Shemoneh Esrei was
>> composed by the Men of the Great Assembly at the end of the Biblical
>> period -- again, while the Temple was standing -- and standardized about
>> 400 years later. So prayer and sacrifices definitely co-existed.

Tamid 5:1 spells out the liturgy in the Beis haMiqdash. Not what the
Q asked for, since it doesn't list what was said in synagogues,
but interesting nonetheless.

Ahavah Rabba
Aseres haDiberos
Shema (3 paragraphs)
Emes veYatziv
Avodah ("Retzei" but without "vehasheiv es ha'vodah.." for obvious reasons)
Birkhas Kohanim

And on Shabbos they also gave the leaving mishmar a berakhah.

The memuneh over the goral would introduce Ahavah Rabba and the closing
berakhos by calling for them to bless the nation 1 and 3 berkhos,
respectively. Worth knowing that Ahavah Rabba was written for blessing
Kelal Yisrael, in addition to its roles as shevach to HQBH and a surrogate
Birkhas haTorah.

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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