Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 11

Tue, 15 Feb 2022

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2022 15:30:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Corners of the Chatzeir

On Wed, Feb 02, 2022 at 07:45:25PM -0500, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:
> Were there amudim at the corners of the chatzeir?
> If one of the back's 10 pillars was in the corner, i.e. 0 amos from the
> corner, then the second is at 5 amos, the 3rd at 10... and the 10th at
> 45 amost from that first corner. Not yet at the second corner.

And yet if the corners were at a diagonal from a pillar 2-1/2 amos from
the corner to another 2-1/2 amost from the other corner, there would
have been too much fabric. The diagonal corner would be appx. 3.54 amos,
instead of 5 amos. But the fabric for each side was the same as the
length of the side. As though we did a corner (2.5*2) not the hypoteneus

Someone emailed me the privately that he saw in
Machat shel Yad al HaTorah by R Yitzchak Dovid Frankel a thought by
R Dov Kramer at <https://www.aishdas.org/ta/5765/terumah.pdf>. (IOW,
a thought by a former chavrusah of mine hosted on tech I manage. But
I needed someone else to point it out to me.)

RDK offers some possibilities, see there. He favors the solution of
the Beraisa deMelekhes haMishkan (5:3). It suggests that there were
a sort of curtain rod hung on the pillar that held the curtain out
2.5 amos on either side. Allowing for right-angle corners and no
pillar in the corner.

As already noted, the Mishkan coffee table book's picture has the
same basic theme, siwth a slight variation.

I am unsatisfied with the assumption of a whole mechanism that isn't
mentioned in the Torah.

RDK gives his problems with the other suggestions. See there.


Micha Berger                 "The worst thing that can happen to a
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   person is to remain asleep and untamed."
Author: Widen Your Tent             - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF


Micha Berger                 It's never too late
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   to become the person
Author: Widen Your Tent      you might have been.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                    - George Eliot

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2022 19:50:46 -0500
[Avodah] Administrivia: The Kloiz -- notification of my

I am excited to announce the launch of a new project I'm calling
"Zelmele's Kloiz", starting with a shiur on Thursday evenings.

First, about the shiur: We will be looking at a series of texts that
relate to fundamental questions of our purpose in life, the nature of our
souls, and practical ways to get from where we are now to where Hashem
wants us to be and where our souls would be happiest being. Needless
to say to anyone who knows me, these texts will all present answers in
terms of wholeness, relationship and Widening our Tents.

The first shiur is scheduled for Thursday, February 24th, at 7pm Eastern.
It will be on Zoom at the handy URL <http://thekloiz.aishdas.org>. (Yes,
it will be recorded with shiurim on shiurim.aishdas.org, but the shiur
will be much more engaging for all of us if you're there to ask
questions!) We start by looking at the Maharal's commentary on Pirkei Avos
1:2, and see how his thought gives us hints as to what the Mishkan really
was about, and why so much of the Torah is spent going over its details.

Feel free to forward this email to someone you think might want this
kind of shiur!

<Image: 1890 Holman Bible illustration, The Tabernacle in the Wilderness>

                             Bilvati Mishken Evneh
                            Is so much of the Torah
                          really just about a building
                          that lasted only 440 years?

    A look at the Maharal's Derech Chaim on Avos 1:2 and how it provides
    hints about what the Mishkan was really about, and what these
    parshiyos are telling us about how to live our lives.

    Part of a weekly series of shiurim
    about Widening our Tents
    the purpose of our lives
    and the nature of being human
    Thursday nights at 7pm Eastern Time.

                            Zelemele's Kloiz: http://thekloiz.aishdas.org
                            Thursday, February 24th 2022
                            7:00 pm Eastern Time
<End Image>

Now, just what is The Kloiz? "Kloiz" is a Yiddish term for a house where
scholars would assemble. (For example, the Hebrew term "Beis Mussar"
is a translation of the Yiddish idiom "Mussar Kloiz".) In Lithuania,
where Torah study was so emphasized as the central worship, it was their
parallel to davening at a Chassidishe shteibl. A place of Torah study
and of fellowship.

"Zelmele" refers to my great-great-grandfather, Rav Shlomo Zalmen
Birger. He lived in Suvalk (Polish: Suwalki) a city in Northern Poland,
so that its Jews' minhagim, Hebrew accent, and attitude toward life were
Lithuanian. Our family owned a textile dying plant, which freed up time
each day for the men to study Torah as the women equally ran much of the
day-to-day business. Rav Dovid Lifshitz, who was still considered the
Suvalke Rav decades after the Shoah when he became my rebbe, recalled
the Birger home as hosting "Zelmele's Kloiz", where they, friends and
students exchanged ideas.

And so, as we gather "here" in our way, studying sefarim as they did,
and hopefully building camaraderie too, I thought it would be nice to
think of this enterprise as a continuation of the past. Zelemele's Kloiz.

Tir'u baTov!

PS: If I cannot flout list rules every few years, what's the point of
being its sole moderator?

Micha Berger                 There's only one corner of the universe
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   you can be certain of improving,
Author: Widen Your Tent      and that's your own self.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF             - Aldous Huxley

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2022 14:38:16 -0500
Re: [Avodah] For he is his property

On Fri, Jan 28, 2022 at 07:31:03AM -0500, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> We often try to avoid translating "eved" as "slave". We often prefer terms
> like "servant" or "long-term employee", because "slave" tends to objectify
> a person, it removes his humanity. We point out the many obligations that
> the baal has towards his eved, and how the Torah stresses the care that the
> baal must put into this relationship.

A baal even has responsibilities toward his beheimos. We make a point
of not eating a meal if our dogs haven't been fed yet. Just in case a
pet dog has the din of a beheimah. (And it was a good teaching moment
when the kids were younger.)

Which gives you an idea how far eved kenaani's life would be from the
treatment of enslaved black people in the US.

But it also says that responsibility doesn't mean we are bestowing
humanity on the eved. Or that we are denying it. Just that responsibility
isn't correlated to the question of personhood.

> I understand from various meforshim that these pesukim are talking
> specifically about an eved canaani, and the situation is such that the baal
> assaulted his eved specifically for purposes of discipline. In such cases,
> the pesukim teach us that if the eved dies more than 24 hours after the
> assault, then the baal is not held liable, "kee kaspo hoo" - for he is his
> property.

Baalus in indeed about responsibility. And a qinyan is a way we
formalize accepting responbsility -- whether acquiring an item, she'er
kesus ve'ona'ah, or the qinyan sudar used to appoint a shaliach to sell
my chameitz.

But here the word is kaspo. Kesef is silver and consequently money.
It's pretty hard to say it's not property.

OTOH, the language of baalus and qinyan implies that it's not that
someone is responsible for their property, but the responsibility is
logically priori to their ownership. A person can make use of an
object because he is its baal -- responsible for it.

> So I am not really bothered by the Torah saying that the eved canaani is
> "property". Rather, I am bothered by the ramifications of that relationship
> in this specific case, namely, that the baal is authorized to physically
> discipline his eved so severely that if the eved dies a few days later from
> that assault, the baal is not held accountable.

On the other hand, we allow people to take risks for their parnasah.
Maybe "ki kaspo hu" refers to the fact that being a chattle slave is
how he gets his room, board and clothing. Not that the baal has looser
rules because the eved is his property, but because he accepted corporeal
discipline and the associated risks as part of the trade between becoming
someone's kesef and receiving his livelihood.


See Hil' Issurei Bi'ah 14:9. The Rambam says an eved is asked whether
he wants the quasi-Jewish status or not. If he says yes, you teach him
the basics of halakhah and bring him to the miqvah.

If not, you give him 12 months. If he still says no, you sell him
to nachriim. Now, during those 12 months, what's the status of /
responsibilities to that eved? It must be lower than a usual eved
kenaani, no?

But there is a third possibility -- that not being mal and tovel was
a condition set up when the eved was acquired. In an era with yovel
de'oraisa, he can remain your slave. So now you have someone who can
remain an eved, who isn't a quasi-Jew.


> of humanity than an ordinary free man....

Addressed above, when I tried to split the topics of X's reposibilities to
Y and Y's humanity.


Micha Berger                 "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
http://www.aishdas.org/asp    'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
Author: Widen Your Tent       'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                   - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2022 15:19:58 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Those Whose Halakhic Status Is Questionable

On Sat, Jan 29, 2022 at 08:47:32PM -0600, Jay F. Shachter via Avodah wrote:
> Personal status is not a matter of fact, it is a matter of halakha.

I would say that halakhah is a matter of how we relate to and percieve
fact. And therefore come to the same next sentence:
> That is why Eliyahu will not tell us who the mamzerim are...

Normally we deal with unknowns by being worried for both possibilities,
whether via the rules of rov or of qavua. We think about an unknown
piece of fat as "probably shuman" or "probably cheilev", and it would
be mutar or assur accordingly. Or if we once established which halakhah
this fat had -- qavua, we have to play safe.

But Mamzeirus is a special case. Kivan denitma, nitma. We are obligated
to ignore the "may be mamzer". The normal doubts that become part of
the metzi'us (relationship to the facts) the halakhah addresses, are to
be quashed, not accomodated.

On a totally different topic, but same subject line...

On Sun, Feb 06, 2022 at 08:09:05PM -0500, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> (Another difference between then and now: Someone once pointed out to me
> that Boaz recognized Ruth's tzidkus from how she was careful about tzedaka
> and the agricultural halachos, and not a word appears about her Shabbos and
> kashrus.)

Something I wrote about in Widen.

We see this in hilkhos geirus as well. The gemara (Yevamos 47a) and
the Rambam (Issurei Bi'ah 14:2) say that we teach a prospective geir a
broad overview of mitzvos. But there are mitzvos they specifically name
as ones that must be taught: leqet, shikhechah, pei'ah and maaser ani.

And just like we are nohagim to lein Rus on Shavu'os, parashas Emos
(23:22) inserts the mitzvos of leqet, shikhechah, and pei'ah into the
same position in describing Shavuos as maztah and as 4 minim and Sukkah
in their respective yamim tovim.

This shift from leqet, shikhechah, pei'ah, maaser ani to "Shabbos,
Kashrus and Taharas haMishpachah" is indicative of the shift from
Chazal's priorities (Torah begins and ends with Chessed -R Simlai)
and the dream of being an ehrlicher Yid to today's focus on frumkeit.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 If you want others to be happy,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   practice compassion.
Author: Widen Your Tent      If you want to be happy,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    practice compassion.


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