Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 41

Sat, 11 Jun 2022

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 14:18:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] free will vs hashgacha

R' Joel Rich asked:

> I'm discussing  a case where HKBH has to intervene so that a
> desired end be accomplished (thought experiment - the sum
> total of everyone's free choice would result in the annihilation
> of the Jewish people (lo aleinu) - how does hkbh intervene
> to ensure this doesn't happen?)

It seems to me that your experiment presumes that Hashem HAS to do a
certain thing, and then you ask how He would go about PREVENTING it.

Isn't that contradictory? How is your case different from "How would He
make a rock so heavy that He can't lift it?"

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 11:57:38 -0400
[Avodah] Did we just celebrate Chag haBikkurim?

I learned the following just before Shavuos:

The Ohr haChaim (Devarim 26:2) says that since Shemittah crops are not
"asher H' Elokekha nasan lakh", there would be no bikkurim during the
Shemittah year.

The CI (Orlah 11:18) pasqens (if the word applies to someone not writing
bizman sheBHMQ qayam) that because you don't own the first fruit as it
grew, there is no bikkurim during Shemittah.

Rashi (Shemos 23:19 "reishis") appears to say there is bikkurim during
a Shemittah year. Our text explicitly says, "af shevi'is chayeves
bebikkuim". BUT, the Maharal (Gur Aryeh ad loc) says, "Bevadai ta'us
hasofer hu", and then giving the OhC's argument.

So, was this past Sunday "Shavuos" without being "Chag haBikkurim"?

Tir'u baTov!

PS: Could someone explain on Areivim when Hebrew terms are considered
proper names to be capitalized, and when not? I capitalized "Shemittah"
by parallel to the commonplace "Shabbos", but I see I had not parallel
instinct to capitalise "bikkurim".

Micha Berger                 The trick is learning to be passionate in one's
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   ideals, but compassionate to one's peers.
Author: Widen Your Tent
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 15:53:35 -0400
Re: [Avodah] When Early Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh

I want to bring a whole new axis to this conversation. (I know 3 weeks
later is forever in email list time. Sorry!)

I heard RYBS speak at a yarchei kallah in Boston, in August, sometime in
the early 1980s, about bein hashmashos. One bit particularly stuck in
my head because one doesn't expect to hear the expression "multivalent
logic" in the middle of a Yiddish sentence.

Bivalent logic has two levels -- true or false. In a bivalent logic,
the only possible kind of safeiq is one where the state is A or B,
we just happen not to know which.

But the gemara (Kesuvos 14a) calls a family with a chalal problem, but
we aren't sure who a "mishpachas isah", explaining that "'isah' lashon
safeiq hu". "Dough", i.e. a mixture, is a term for safeiq. There are
times where we cannot say the state is A or B because it's both. (And
there are also cases where we cannot limit ourselves to blue or green
because there are items that come in ambiguous shades of aqua. But that
wasn't RYBS's topic.)

Our topic was an esrog that was only used for part of Sukkos. Once it
is qodesh part of the day, it is qodesh and assur behana'ah the rest of
the day, through until tzeis. But, once it is qadosh after sheqi'ah the
next day, it is qadosh all of that day too!

And that was when RYBS declared the concept of date to require multivalent
logic. (IIRC, he said this about safeiq in general. But we don't need
to see whether my memory is accurate for this discussion.)

So maybe we should be distinguishing the laws of bein hashemashos where
we are trying to determine on when one day ends, in contrast to those
where we are trying to determine when the next day begins. And consider
the idea that -- like the case of esrog -- in all these other cases
the safeiq of bein hashmashos makes it part of both days.

Tarta desasrei only comes up when you are arguing that the day both ends
and doesn't end at sheqi'ah, or the next day both begins at tzeis and
began already. (Which is why that esrog isn't assur behanaah forever,
iteratively going to the 3rd day, the 4th day...)

Let's look at the aveilus example (including meat or wine during the
9 days [Ashk] or shavua shechal bo [Seph]): the problem with aveilus
is being mis'abel on Shabbos. So we stop aveilus when Shabbos starts,
even though the previous day ends later than that.

Whereas a ta'anis ends when it ends, not when the next day begins.
So, Asarah beTeiveis (or taanis chalom, or any other hypothetical
taanis) would continue into Shabbos.

Similarly omer has nothing to do with when Shabbos starts, so you can
count during tosefesh Shabbos.

I wonder if this idea can be applied to all our cases.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 For those with faith there are no questions.
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   For those who lack faith there are no answers.
Author: Widen Your Tent                        - Rav Yaakov of Radzimin
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 15:20:17 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rabbi not answering a question

On Fri, Mar 11, 2022 at 06:19:29AM -0500, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> I too wonder why someone would withhold knowledge of the Ratzon Hashem from
> someone who came seeking it. Ideally, this question should be posed to the
> person who made that statement, not to us.

On Qiddushin 40b, R Tarfon says that ma'aseh gadol (greater than Talmud).
R Aqiva said that talmud gadol. The zeqeinim who were mesubin in Natzah's
attic in Lud, where these statements were made, sided with R Aqiva reasoning
    Talmud gadol,
    shehatalmud meivi liydei maaseh.

The implication I would take would be that if the talmud wuold get in
the way of maaseh, maaseh would trump it.

Or, in other words, the experiential knowledge one gets of Ratzon Hashem
by following it is more valuable than the intellectual knowledge of
studying it.

Because a good pianist isn't one who read every book on fingering and
the other skills, but someone who actually practices it. Muscle memory
and learned emotional patterns are more critical to vehalakhta bidrakhav
than abstract knowledge of it is.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Never must we think that the Jewish element
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   in us could exist without the human element
Author: Widen Your Tent      or vice versa.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                   - Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

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Message: 5
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2022 15:07:57 +1000
[Avodah] free will - hashgacha

HKBH never says, "I really did not want that to happen, but what could I
He never has to say that.
HKBH can make an omelette without cracking any eggs.

We do not understand that  - that is OUR problem.

Chazal tell us that HKBH prepares the Refuah BEFORE the Makkah.
What difference does it make WHEN HKBH prepares the Refuah?

Chazal are telling us that EVERYTHING is prepared EVERYTHING is known in
That is not to tell us how great HKBH is
It is to advise us and give us the confidence that EVERYTHING is PLANNED
We may be surprised but HKBH is not.

By way of a Mashal - if the Hatzolah emergency volunteer notices that every
single time he arrives at a medical emergency he has precisely what is
required for that emergency - not a single spare band-aid when he's
completed his tasks, and not ever short of a bandage -
That is spooky - how did the guy who is preparing his kit figure out what
to pack - and every single time?

We are not supposed to delve into understanding HOW this works
We ARE SUPPOSED to dwell on the CONCLUSION - HKBH never messes up. No one
falls between the cracks.


Meir G. Rabi

0423 207 837
+61 423 207 837
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Message: 6
From: Jay F. Shachter
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 23:11:13 -0500 (EDT)
[Avodah] Circles Where It Is Not Done Today

>> There was a time when the Kallah was brought to the men's side of
>> the hall, she sat down next to her Chasan, and men danced in front
>> of them.  In many circles this is no longer done today.
> In those circles where it is not done today it was never done.

This is not true.  Or, if it is true, it is true only because you are
defining your terms idiosyncratically, to the point where you are
saying nothing useful.

Your point is well taken (anticipating a point that you are likely to
make in reply) that the term "circles" must refer to communities and
not to individuals.  You are not making a statement about individuals.
You are not saying that, for every individual person at whose wedding
there is total separation of the sexes, there was also total
separation of the sexes at that person's previous weddings.  You
cannot be saying that, because an individual person, typically, only
has one wedding.

Rather, you are making a statement about communities: you are saying
that there are communities, made up of individuals, such that, at the
weddings of those individuals, there is total separation of the
sexes.  And you are saying that, for every community of which this is
true in the present, it was also true in the past -- i.e., when the
past members of those communities had weddings, there was total
separation of the sexes at their weddings also.

And when I attempt to demonstrate the falseness of your statement with
a counterexample -- when I say that there is a man living on Diamond
Street between 52nd Street and 54th Street at whose wedding last night
there was total separation of the sexes, whereas there was a woman
twenty years ago living on Diamond Street between 52nd Street and 54th
Street, at whose wedding twenty years ago there was not total separation
of the sexes -- you will say that this is not a counterexample, it
does not disprove your statement, because the set of people living on
Diamond Street between 52nd Street and 54th Street is not a community,
so your statement is still true.

And then when I press you to define your terms, and I ask, What then,
according to you, is a community? -- unless you are being very
vigilant, because you know that you will be caught in a tautology, you
will end up giving definitional criteria that include continuity of
practice, you will say, inter alia, that a community is a group of
people, who engage in the same or similar practices over time.

But then you are saying nothing useful.  If there is continuity of
practice, then there is continuity of practice.  If a community, by
definition, is a group of people, among whom, some are fertile, who
make babies, who replace the ones who die, and among whom there is
continuity of practice from one generation to the next, then your
statement -- "In those circles where it is not done today it was never
done" -- is almost completely tautological (it is not completely
tautological only because there can be continuity of practice in some
things and not in others).

So let us understand your statement in the only way it can be
meaningfully understood.  You wrote:

      In those circles where it is not done today
      it was never done.

The only meaningful way that statement can be understood, is:

      If someone has a wedding where there is total
      separation of the sexes, then it is much more
      likely than not, that there was total separation
      of the sexes at his or her parents' wedding.

Now the statement is not tautological.  And it is now untrue.

The reverse, in fact, is true -- in most cases where there is total
separation of the sexes at a couple's wedding, there was not total
separation of the sexes at the weddings of that couple's parents.
That is because there has been, over the past few decades, a steady
increase in the separation between the sexes at weddings, just as
there has been at other events, like yeshiva banquets, so that the
separation was almost always less, a generation ago, than it is now.
Let us consider three generations of a family that you will not say
was less Torah observant in previous generations than now.  When Ahron
Soloveichik (that is the correct spelling of his name, he spelled it
differently than his brother Yosef Dov Soloveitchik) married Ella
Shurin, there was mixed seating at their wedding.  There was separate
seating at the weddings of their six children, but no mxitzoth.
Mxitzoth began to appear in the third generation.  The same trend has
occurred in other areas, as stated above.  There used to be mixed
seating at the Telz banquet (there used to be mixed dancing at the
Telz banquet).

The most important question, however, has not yet been addressed.
Why do we care?  Why do I have to correct misinformation of the sort
that was quoted at the beginning of this article?  Why do we care
if someone in Australia makes a wedding where the men and women are
separated by an opaque wall four meters high?  Or, more precisely, why
do we care if someone in Australia makes a wedding where the men and
women are separated by an opaque wall four meters high, and the people
at the wedding think that this is normal, that this is, traditionally,
what was done, in Jewish weddings?  The reason why we have to correct
misinformation of that sort is that ignorance about what is normal
leads people to violate the halakha, and we do care about that,
because kol Yisrael `areivim zeh (ba|la)zeh.

I know a man who attended his daughter's wedding, during the year when
he was mourning for one of his parents, I forget which one.  You
probably know another man who did the same, or you know a woman who
attended her son's wedding while in mourning for a parent.  Everyone
on this mailing list knows that you are not allowed to attend weddings
during your year of aveluth for a parent, and that your daughter's or
son's wedding is not an exception to this halakha.  However, everyone
on this mailing list also knows that this halakha, your Rabbinic
obligation to mourn your parents for a year, can be pre-empted by
another halakha, your Scriptural obligation to gladden the bride and
groom.  If your daughter is unable to enjoy her wedding, unless she
sees you at her wedding, then there is a long line of teshuvoth that
say that you are allowed to attend her wedding when you are in your
year of mourning for a dead parent.  I think this line of teshuvoth
originated with the Noda BiYehudah, but I have not seen the original
teshuvah, I am saying this based on what I have heard.

When I asked this man whether there was a mxitzah at his daughter's
wedding, he said "Yes".  (Actually, he said "Of course".  I was trying
not to embarrass him.)  Obviously, there can be no hetter to attend
your daughter's wedding while you are in mourning, if she cannot see
you at her wedding, and cannot even know whether you are there.  This
man dishonored his dead parent, by participating in a s`udath nisuin
during his year of aveluth.

Ignorance of Jewish history, ignorance of what is historically normal
and what is historically abnormal, thinking that abnormal things that
are common in your neighborhood -- like mxitzoth at weddings -- are
normal, leads to the violation of halakha, because teshuvoth are
written in a context, and if you are ignorant of the context, you will
misapply the teshuvoth.  If you had told the Noda BiYehudah that there
could be a mxitzah at a wedding, he would have looked at you like you
were crazy.  So of course the Noda BiYehudah would not write, in a
teshuvah that you think allows you to attend your daughter's wedding
during your year of aveluth, that it does not apply when there is
total separation of the sexes at the wedding.  He would not have
conceived of a need to write such a thing, just as he would not have
written that a teshuvah only applies to people who feel the pull of
Earth's gravity, that it does not apply to people who are weightless
in outer space.

               Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
               6424 North Whipple Street
               Chicago IL  60645-4111
                       (1-773)7613784   landline
                       (1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice

               When Martin Buber was a schoolboy, it must have been
               no fun at all playing tag with him during recess.

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 2022 10:27:09 -0400
Re: [Avodah] free will vs hashgacha

I see chaos Theory as a great way to understand how a neis nistar can
change a life or even the course of history.

In fact, I keep a double-pendulum fidget toy, one of the simplest
examples of chaos, in my pocket as a reminder. Hishtadlus can change
the odds of where the outer pendulum will be, but the actual outcome is
beyond human control.

(For the curious, something like this https://amzn.to/3NE7uFo Also in the
same pocket... apple seeds. My third set; they keep on sprouting on me!)

Another topic this discussion raised in the chain of causation. It's not
one cause learing to one effect, which is then a cause of the next effect.
It's not the chain of causation, it's more like a chain mail. A whole
web of interlocking causal links.

And infinitely more events that could have happened but didn't that are
causes of an event in the sense that their being prevented was hasaras

And any one of those could have been prevented by a neis nistar that
chaotically grew into something truly significant. Unlinking a critical
ring in the chain mail required for an event to happen.

Thought of this way, there is a lot of room for people to be able to
decide whatever we want, but HQBH still tailor the actual outcomes. And
not just for one person, but for EVERY person involved.

Like Iyov's children dying. Seifer Iyov doesn't discuss why they should
die. Or why Iyov's wife should suffer through losing them. Or their
spouses or potential spouses and children should be without. It only
discusses the one question of how Iyov was to grow from his experiencing
their death. (And seems to answer that us puny human minds cannot
really know.) The book of Eishes Iyov was never written, but it could
be equally elaborate.

On another tangent about free will, HP and causality:

Quantum Mechanics and Chaos Theory haven't been entirely combined. To
some extent, because QM says the bottom level is statistical, most of
the chaos gets blurred out. In CT, they look at cases where a system
could be one of nearly identical paths and can end up with grossly
different large scale outcomes down the line because of it. In QM, the
system is on all those paths at once, at different probabilities. So,
fewer situations where two nearly identical seeming systems exist.

But where they do... CT allows how quantum randomness can grow into
macroscopic differences. Some chaotic systems can grow differences that
are not physically deterministic into major events. I wouldn't assume
they are really random, just that HQBH does His hester panim by conforming
to the Schroedinger Equation and making sure the law of large numbers
conforms to the Born Rule. IOW, a coin doesn't have to be actually
random for it to land heads closer and closer 50% of the time as you flip
it over and over. By picking which 50% are heads, Hashem can make His
Will expressed regardless of everything we choose to do and of His Desire
not to regularly violate nature.

On Tue, Jun 07, 2022 at 02:18:52PM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> R' Joel Rich asked:
>> I'm discussing  a case where HKBH has to intervene so that a
>> desired end be accomplished (thought experiment - the sum
>> total of everyone's free choice would result in the annihilation
>> of the Jewish people (lo aleinu) - how does hkbh intervene
>> to ensure this doesn't happen?)

> It seems to me that your experiment presumes that Hashem HAS to do a
> certain thing, and then you ask how He would go about PREVENTING it.

> Isn't that contradictory? How is your case different from "How would He
> make a rock so heavy that He can't lift it?"

Yes, free will and hashgachah peratis is a paradox. Recall the Or haChaim
on why the brothers thought that throwing Yosef into a pit of venemous
creatures was better than killing him outright. It gave more range for

I don't think many moderns subscribe to such a hashkafah. The Ramchal,
Besh"t and Gra made what we used to call here "Universal HP" too popular.
As I said before the QM detour, we can use chaos theory to understand
how even their choosing to kill him outright would leave enough room for
Hashem to provide each person outcomes that are most appropriate for them.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   heights as long as he works his wings.
Author: Widen Your Tent      But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter


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