Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 21

Fri, 25 Mar 2022

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2022 06:45:25 -0400
Re: [Avodah] who determines norms?

R' Joel Rich asked:

> I once posted: I've never really resolved myself how I feel
> about the concept that the first people who do something are
> sinners but if enough of them do it becomes the norm and
> acceptable. Thoughts?

I don't have any sources or answers, but I do have a parallel situation,
and perhaps it can yield some helpful sources.

You are asking about the transition from assur to muttar.
Please consider the transition from optional to required.

In other words, the first people who choose to do a certain act, or to do
something a certain way, are mere individuals who have no effect on the
public. But if this thing catches on, and enough people do it, it may
become an official minhag which others are then required to follow. At
exactly what point in time does this change occur?

I suspect that in both cases, there is *no* specific point in time for the
changeover. Rather, it is all about appearances. When it *appears* like
most people are doing it, that is what is relevant. (Alternatively: When it
appears like [choose one: the great majority / the vast majority / almost
everyone / apparently everyone] is doing it, that is what is relevant.)

There are many cases in halacha where appearance is more important than
reality. (Are your tefillin square?) Perhaps this is one of them.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2022 11:27:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Saviv vs S'chor S'chor

Jastrow translates "s'chor" as "surrounding", and "s'chor s'chor" as 
"all around".  From this is derived "s'chora" or "s'chorta", which can 
end either in an alef or a hei, which is "1. going around, circuit; 2. 
circulation; 3. trade, traffic, goods".

Zev Sero            Wishing you a happy and kosher Pesach, and a
z...@sero.name       healthy season appropriate to your hemisphere

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2022 15:08:34 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Saviv vs S'chor S'chor

On Thu, Mar 17, 2022 at 09:25:51PM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> My question is about the meaning of the single word "s'chor", and why does
> Onkelos double it so often. My wild guess is that "s'chor" indicates a mere
> circular motion, while "s'chor s'chor" indicates a complete circle...

I couldn't find a non-doubled use. Except as a verb, as in Bereishis

I think Zev points to the answer without saying it outright. Once sechor
became the aramaic for selling or merchandise, perhaps Unqelus used
"around and around" to disambiguate.

IOW, perhaps not your suggestion of "partly around" vs "encircle" but
"merchandise" vs "encircle".

If you have a non-doubled use in Unqelus, it would help me.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpelei Tohar

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2022 09:46:15 -0400
[Avodah] 5TJT - Wordle and Halacha

R Yair Hoffman wrote an interesting column for 5tjt.com on the halakhos of
cheating, and then lying to one's friends about it.

   Wordle and Halacha
   March 17, 2022 8:57 pm
   By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

   A recent study about the online daily word-guessing game "Wordle"
   revealed that a significant number of Americans are cheating at it.

   The game was purchased by the New York Times in January and since then,
   cheating has been at an all-time high, according to a study done by
   WordFinderX, a website that is described as one that assists players
   in word games.

   According to the study, the biggest cheaters are the residents of the
   following states - New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington,
   and Massachusetts. [Yes, this is the order].

   Our purpose here, however, is not to reveal who the biggest cheaters
   are, but to determine the halachic and hashkafic implications of
   this finding. But before we get to that, there is one more vital
   piece of information that we need to know before we proceed to the
   Torah implications of this phenomenon.

   It seems that built into the mechanism of the Wordle game is the
   ability to share the personal results of "how one did" with others,
   albeit without revealing the answer to the daily wordle. The subtext
   of this component is, "Haha, my dear friend! My intellectual abilities
   lay far beyond yours! I got the answer in 3 tries or 4 tries! Let
   us see how you fare in this intellectual duel - where we match wits
   with each other!"


   Now, if cheating is, in fact, so prevalent - we have a halachic
   question here. The Torah tells us in parshas Mishpatim, "MiDvar
   Sheker Tirchak - stay away from a false matter (Shmos 23:7)."

   Regarding this prohibition itself we have three opinions: The Chofetz
   Chaim writes in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed that the verse, "MiDvar Sheker
   Tirchak" is a full-blown biblical prohibition. There are Rishonim who
   seem to write that it should be understood as good advice, but is not
   fully binding. (This is how many authorities understand the position
   of the Sefer Yereim Mitzvah #235.) A third opinion, attributed to
   Rabbeinu Yonah, may hold that the verse was directed to judges in
   a court case, and not, in fact, to the general aspect of lying.
   [However, see Rav Chaim Kanievsky [zt"l -mb] (Kusim Siman 30) where
   he explains the Rabbeinu Yonah somewhat differently.]

   How do we rule? The halacha follows the view that it is a fully
   binding Mitzvah.


   We are left with another question, however. Does this biblical
   admonition apply to non-monetary matters as well? Or do we say
   that the verse would only apply to monetary matters, wherein the lie
   affects a purchase? An example of this would be saying something like,
   "Oh no maam, this bobka was baked this very morning.."

   One's first reaction brings us to the Gemorah in Kesuvos (17b),
   where Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel debate whether it is permitted
   to praise a bride's beauty. When Bais Shammai asks on Hillel from
   the words in the pasuk, "Distance yourself from a lie" it clearly
   indicates that it refers to all matters - not just monetary ones.


   But what if one does not share his or her results with others?
   Then would it be permitted to cheat?

   To answer this question we need to go to two different sources: The
   first is a well-known Rashi on Makkos about Rav Safra, and the second
   is a section in the Shacharis davening that people, unfortunately,
   skip at times.

   We first place our attention with Rav Safra, who it seems was some
   sort of shopkeeper. There were items for sale and a customer entered
   the shop. The customer lifted up the item for sale and gave an
   offer. Rav Safra did not respond. The customer must have thought,
   "Wow, this shopkeeper is a master bargainer and negotiator. He is
   not giving my offer even the courtesy of a response. Brilliant!"
   He raised his offer. Again, absolute silence. He raised the offer
   again and again. Finally, Rav Safra responded, "I will sell you the
   item for the first, lower sum that you offered, because I had already
   agreed in my heart to that price."

   Rav Safra revealed that he was unable to respond to the offer because
   he was in the middle of reciting the Krias Shma. But in his heart
   he had agreed to the price. This is the known as the level of,
   "dover emes bilvavo - speaking or seeking truth in one's heart."

   We next go to the section found in the siddur after brachos and before
   boruch sh'amar. There, the siddur tells us that a person should always
   demonstrate fear of heaven both publicly and privately and also be
   "modeh al haEmes" admit the truth, and be, "dover emes bilvavo -
   speak truth in one's heart."

   We see from here that one should also speak truth in one's heart.

   The question now is, what are the person's intentions when doing the
   Wordle, but one cheats at it, by Googling what other's have revealed
   through their hard work? It is likely, that there is some sort of
   self-deception going on here.

   What the siddur is advising us here is that we must be true to
   our own self, we must reach that level of Rav Safra. Rav Safra put
   aside all concerns for making extra money in order to reach an ideal.
   That ideal was being true to one's own self.


   Let us perhaps delve a little bit further into the idea of
   self-deception. Why do we do it? Why do we lie to ourselves?

   Hashem placed certain mechanisms in the world. One mechanism is pain.
   When dealing with fire or danger, pain is helpful. It ensures that we
   very quickly remove ourselves from the source of that pain in order to
   preserve both life and limb. This is, in fact, a second mechanism -
   the mechanism of avoidance of pain.

   Just as there is physical pain, there is emotional pain.
   We self-deceive, it seems, in order to avoid emotional pain. But,
   ultimately, self-deception is not the ideal. We may need this salve,
   this crutch, in order to get by in life when it is difficult - but
   it is not the ideal.

   What this passage may be telling us is that there comes a time
   when that emotional crutch should be sent away (shiluach ha Cane!),
   and rather we should grab hold of something else that remedies our
   low self-image. We should think, "I do not need this crutch of
   self-deception to get by - I pride myself on speaking truth in my
   heart - to mine own self, I am true."

   Doing so can rid us of the sadness associated with low self-esteem,
   and it is absolutely becessary to get rid of this sadness, because
   otherwise we will not be serving Hashem with joy and happiness.
   Rav Yitzchok Feigelstock zt"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mesivta of
   Long Beach once said, "Serving Hashem without a sense of joy is not
   considered serving Hashem at all."

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Message: 5
From: Joel Rich
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2022 02:32:16 -0400
[Avodah] ?Libi Omer Li?.

A poster's comment:I don?t know anyone else who seriously tries to dissect
the ?Libi Omer Li?.
Me-Rabbi Asher Weiss often uses the phrase when describing a position which
is not based on concrete sources, especially when it?s due to new
technology or circumstances. I?ve usually heard it referred to as halachic
If one looks outside the Yeshiva they?ll find that this is a subject of
much study in the Academy. Here?s one example :

The bottom line is intuition may be simply the subconscious accumulation of
a lifetime?s worth of experiences.

My own footnote is that I believe it is on this basis that those who say
anybody who has seen anything outside the Torah world is not fit to be a
posek because their intuition has been affected by outside sources. Of
course, I would argue just the opposite but that?s for another time.

Joel Rich
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Message: 6
From: Joel Rich
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2022 10:11:32 -0400
[Avodah] terminology

what terms besides baal nefesh and yirei shamayim would you expect to be
used for a higher level of observance rhan mikar hadin(al taharat hakodesh?
joel rich
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Message: 7
From: Chana Luntz
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2022 22:39:08 -0000
[Avodah] who determines norms?

RJR writes:

<I once posted: I've never really resolved myself how I feel about the
concept that the first people who do something are sinners but if enough of
them do it becomes the norm and acceptable. Thoughts?>

I confess I don't really understand your problem.  Particularly in relation
to the subject of the sources you asked us to consider (which relates to men
not wearing women's clothing and the counterpart prohibition).  The
distinction seems clearly to be about the motivation for wearing the
garment.  The first person who wears a woman's garment is clearly doing it
davka.  Indeed the understanding of Rashi (Devarim 22:5  - and the Rif and
the Rosh, see the discussion in the Beis Yosef Yoreh Deah siman 182 letter 5
and see also Nazir 58b-59a) is that the Torah prohibition is for a man to
wear such garments with the intent to go amongst women - as such actions are
borne out of sexual motivations.  With this understanding - the Torah
prohibition is to cross dress so that one can go amongst women and the
rabbinic prohibition is to deliberately wear items that are those of the
other sex, even though it is obvious from the other garments worn that you
are your own sex.  So clearly at the point that the wearing of such a
garment becomes normal and acceptable, the person wearing it is no longer
trying to break boundaries  - either to disguise themselves as the other
sex, or to stand out as wearing a garment of the other sex - but just to
wear an item of clothing that is no longer identified as being of that sex
and hence has no sexual connotations.   And even according to the Rambam (at
least given the Beis Yosef's explanation of the Rambam) where the Torah
prohibition is linked to the view of the observer.  Ie will the observer
identify this as being a woman's garment or not (and if it is somewhere
hidden, like shaving the armpits, there is no Torah prohibition as that is
not generally observed), the first people to do this will be presenting to
view items that are identified by observers as garments of the other sex.
But later, they will not be presenting such items to view, as people will
regard such garments as worn by both.

So, it seems to me, all you need to do is reframe the prohibition (or
rather, state the prohibition correctly).  People are prohibited from
wearing garments that are identified (by themselves or others) as garments
of the other sex. They are permitted to wear garments that are identified,
by themselves and others, as garments which are worn by both sexes.
Garments can change what they signify to others (just as words can) through
usage (it is difficult today to go around using the word gay to mean happy
without any other connotation - even though as a child I learnt a poem for a
speaking exam which included the line "the train went gay" with absolutely
no sexual connotation meant).  And yes, that means that people can wear
exactly the same thing, at different times in history, and have that action
mean something different.  But similarly they can say exactly the same
thing, at different times in history, and have the words mean something
different.  And that doesn't seem odd to me at all.

>Joel Rich



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Message: 8
From: Chana Luntz
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2022 23:52:47 -0000
[Avodah] Rabbi not answering a question

RJR writes:

<Question about a statement made in a shiur that there were some questions
that a rabbi shouldn?t answer but let the person do as they will. I wasn?t
clear as to whether that was based on the thought that the person would not
listen or some other basis. What I would want to understand is if someone
comes in asking for a psak why is it preferable not to tell him what we
understand God?s will to be?>

There are at least three  halachic concepts that directly relate to this:

a) mutav sheyihu shogegain v'al heyhyu mezidin (see Beitza 30a) - if you
suspect that they will not follow the halacha anyway ,better that they do it
out of ignorance and do not sin deliberately;

b) Halacha v'ain morin ken - a concept that is used at least seven times in
the Talmud (see Shabbat 12b, Eruvin 7a, Beitza 28b, Baba Kama 30b, Avodah
Zara 37b and  Menachot 37b).  Over simplistically - the concept of halacha
v'ain morin ken is used in circumstances where there are significant risks
of misunderstanding whether wilful or otherwise, with, usually, the
potential consequence of more significant breach of the halacha.  This
differs from the above in that it is not so much in relation to the
particular matter being asked about, but as a knock on effect, e.g.
something might be derived, or understood from what is said that leads to
other actions being taken that are incorrect; and

c) that the particular person is not able to handle the answer.  While this
comes up mostly in relation to women (the Torah will be turned to tiflut)
there is also a concept of a (male) student who is not hegon and should not
be taught Torah until he returns to good (see Yoreh Deah siman 146 si#if 7).
Your assumption is that the question is necessarily a matter of yes/no psak,
but it might not be.  It might be a question that takes you more deeply into
the sugya, and hence the Rabbi might not answer because they do not think
the questioner has the ability to handle the answer or will handle it


>Joel rich




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