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Volume 40: Number 86

Fri, 23 Dec 2022

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2022 13:47:55 -0500
[Avodah] A Torah-Based Tikkun Olam

I was intrigued by the following column by R Dr Hillel Goldberg (author of
a number of mussar books, some practival, some more academic -- including
his PhD dissertation on R Yisrael Salaneter). With his mother's passing RHG
is alsoo the editor-in-chief of the Intermountain Jewish News, where he
has a weekly column.

A lichtikn un freilechn Chanukah!

Restoring tikkun olam to the rainbow
Hillel Goldberg
January 20, 2022

To redress the grievances of the poor
"" """"""" """ """""""""" "" """ """"

"To redress the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to
protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the
hands of his oppressor."

This is the definition of the function of a rabbi offered by the
legendary Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik (1853-1918), the rabbi of Brest
Litovsk (variously in Lithuania, Poland or Belarus). At his insistence,
his gravestone was to make no mention of his towering intellect and
worldwide impact on Talmudic study.

Rather, he preferred to be remembered for his kindness, which is simply
beyond our ken. His home was unlocked. Anyone was free to enter and
to eat from his kitchen or to sleep there anytime. The poor were free
to take from his storehouse of logs for heat. When community leaders,
who paid his salary, objected, he said that if the poor were to have no
heat, neither would their rabbi. Sometimes his own bed was occupied and
he was relegated to sleeping on a detached door. He and his wife took
in many foundlings. It was known that if a young woman were in trouble,
she could leave her baby at the Soloveitchik doorstep, and it would be
cared for -- personally, by the Soloveitchik family, not by an agency.

He left in his will that his epitaph should contain but three Hebrew
words, "He was a man of kindness."

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes, "There is a direct line between Reb Chaim
and the 50 percent of California Jews who, when asked what being Jewish
meant to them, replied 'social justice' -- three times the figure for
any other factor."

Rabbi Sacks continues, "The restless drive to 'perfect the world under
the sovereignty of G-d' [tikkun olam be-malchut Sh-ddai] is a Jewish
instinct that survives long after other practices have been abandoned."

The light of Rabbi Soloveitchik's practice of tikkun olam has reached
down through the generations.

However, his outreach to the poor and defense of the oppressed overlaid a
tall scaffolding of other rabbinic duties. True, he rescued unbelieving
communist Jewish youth from the Tsar, he defied the wealthy of his
community when they insisted on unearned privileges, he personally raised
the funds to rebuild all the Jewish neighborhoods of Brisk after they
burned down and would not sleep in a house until everyone else's house
had been rebuilt -- but most of the time Rabbi Soloveitchik fulfilled
other rabbinic functions. He studied or taught Torah virtually every
waking moment not given to prayer or other mitzvot. His revolutionary
approach to Talmud study drew an unending stream of students to Brisk
for his tutelage, sometimes in formal groups, sometimes not. His genius
was legendary, contagious and all absorbing.

Are we free to choose between Rabbi Soloveitchik's other Jewish practices
and his instinct for tikkun olam? Is it unrealistic to go for more
than one or the other? Can tikkun olam and other Jewish practices be
mutually enriching?

Regents Park
""""""" """"

Rabbi Sacks describes Regent's Park in northwest London, completed
in 1827. I imagine I would enjoy it, for "it is a glorious mixture
of lakes, tree-lined avenues, open spaces for games, and flower beds
that half the year are a masterpiece of blazing color. There are coffee
shops and restaurants, a zoo and an open-air theater and a magnificent
rose garden. There are places for children to play and for people to
have picnics or rowboats on the lake or simply stroll and enjoy the
view..." Who owns this park? Everyone and no one.

"What defines the park and makes it so gracious a part of city life is
that it is public space. It is somewhere we can all go -- rich and poor,
newcomer or resident -- on equal terms."

A park, writes Rabbi Sacks, "is a public good, something that exists in
virtue of being shared, and public goods, by definition, are things I
as an individual cannot buy, or make, or own. I can only participate in
them by being part of the 'We' that creates the shared arena for the 'I.'

"What the park is in space, Shabbat is in time."

Just as the park, as a public space, is a place I step into, not a place
I create, Shabbat is a time I step into, not a time I create. Just as I
step into a park, I step into Shabbat. Rabbi Sacks: "It [Shabbat] is not
'free time,' time to dispose of as I wish. It differs from a vacation
the way a park differs from a private garden. It is a world that exists
only in virtue of it being shared by a community."

What better example of a shared community than Jerusalem on Shabbat?

"The shops are closed, the streets are quiet, there are no cars on the
roads. In the midst of the city you hear the leaves rustle, the birds
sing, the sound of children playing, the songs of families around the
table. You can feel the Divine presence in the public square. This
is peace as the prophets envisaged at the end of days: utopia in the

It is not my personal performance that creates this. What, precisely,
does create it? The Torah, specifically its command to refrain from 39
types of constructive work whose renunciation alone yields the "rest"
(menuchah) that Shabbat mandates; the "rest" that Jewish law creates as an
"island in time."

Were the time of Shabbat to dispose of as I wish, there could be no
Shabbat in Jerusalem where the Divine presence is felt in the public
square. Vehicles rushing back and forth would recast and undermine its
quiet and peace.

The utopia in the present, week in and week out, rhythmically elevating
and embodying the essence of life, comes into existence via the laws
of Shabbat. As Rabbi Abraham I. Kuk, said, "Just as there are laws of
poetry, there is poetry in law."

What is light?
"""" "" """"""

In the nature of Jewish sacred existence, its light is white and
whole. This is what emanates from Rabbi Soloveitchik's tikkun olam. A
whole loaf, not half a loaf.

"Light" is a metaphor. What, precisely, is the metaphor? What is light?

Before Einstein, light was understood as wavular; after Einstein,
it was understood as now corpuscular, now wavular. Either way, the
metaphor of light favored by Jewish mystics, or kabbalists, retains its
coherence. Kabbalists used the image of a pure stream of white light
to signify the unfathomable essence of G-d because white light, like
G-d, is undifferentiated, absent the rainbow of color and diversity;
absolutely One.

To understand how G-d "breaks through" to us -- to contingent, fathomable,
differentiated human beings -- the pure stream of white light must be
modified. Pure light is a metaphor for G-d, not for us. The modification
that human beings require is for white light, which, as Newton showed,
contains all colors, to pass through a prism, which divides light into
its colored components and reveals the optical spectrum.

This, human beings can grasp. We need the light of the rainbow.

The number of colors on the optical spectrum is infinite. If I take the
infinite color range of the rainbow as the metaphor for the teachings
of the Divine Torah as it is made accessible to me, a human being,
I may prefer any piece of Torah -- any shade on the color spectrum --
as my personal favorite. Tikkun olam, for example.

Beware the potential slippery slope. From the choice of a personal
favorite to the choice to reject a color on the spectrum -- to exclude a
teaching of the Torah that I disfavor -- is a confusion that abounds in
Western society, which idealizes personal autonomy. The rainbow retains
its integrity only as the derivative of pure white light. All the colors,
stemming from the same source, are of equal significance. If I want to
retain the integrity of the metaphor of light, I must retain the Torah in
all of its teachings -- from the tikkun olam of the master, Rabbi Chaim
Soloveitchik, to Shabbat a la Regents Park. What the park is in space,
Shabbat is in time. I step into Shabbat, via the Torah's laws of Shabbat.

"Shabbat" here is but an example. The laws of the whole Torah I may not
dispose of as I wish. I step into them, honor and treasure them. The
whole rainbow is resplendent.

The Same Arc
""" """" """

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik's tikkun olam and dedication to Jewish law
were one. Neither overrode the other; au contraire, they were mutually
enriching, different wavelengths of light on the rainbow, derived from
the single stream of pure white light.

The opportunity for contemporary Jewry, much of which has abandoned Jewish
practice such as Shabbat, is to see it as the other half of the loaf,
on the same arc as tikkun olam. The opportunity is for a full loaf,
not half a loaf.

The Creator, expressed as a stream of pure white light, contains all the
teachings of the Torah, all the colors of the rainbow. Tikkun olam is one
of them, living and breathing on the rainbow, not in splendid isolation,
but in deep communion.


A Letter in the Scroll: Understanding Our Jewish Identity and Exploring
the Legacy of the World's Oldest Religion (2000). John Gribbin, In Search
of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality (1988).

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Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2022 05:35:05 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Gezeira Against Cloth Sukkos?

R' Micha Berger asked:

> AhS Yomi recently hit OC 630:32, in hilkhos Sukkah.
> If I understand correctly, ... the Tur assumes there is a
> gezeira in the gemara against using cloth for Sukkah walls
> even if they are tied down. Because too many don't stay tied.

I did not see this in the gemara, but I looked in the Tur and the AhS, and
I see no mention of "gezeira" at all. It is all advice and suggestions on
how to build one's sukkah properly.

Here's my translation of the relevant section of the Tur (siman 630 near
the end):

"One who makes his sukkah among the trees, and the trees are its walls, it
is kosher, provided that he ties the branches of the trees so that the wind
will not move them, for any mechitza which can't stand up to a common wind
is not a mechitza. R' P' wrote that therefore, it is improper to make all
the mechitzos from yerios of pishtan without reeds, even if they are tied
well, because sometimes they get untied accidentally, and it becomes a
mechitza which can't stand up to a common wind. [If] someone wants to make
[his sukkah] out of sadinim, it would be good to weave reeds into the
mechitzos, less than 3 [tefachim apart]."

The first thing that occurred to me here is that he is distinguishing
between two different kinds of fabric walls: "yerios of pishtan" and
"sadinim". I do not know what the exact difference is between them, but
then I realized that it doesn't matter, because both are fine if they have
reeds, and both are "improper" if they don't have reeds.

AhS 630:32 seems to say the exact same thing. It's all about whether you
can secure the mechitzos well enough that they can stand up to a common
wind, and whether or not there is a chance of getting accidentally untied.

> he says that one can rely on the Taz for a single cloth wall
> only "bemaqom tzorekh".

If something is allowed (or not) for one wall, the halacha would be the
same for the other walls too, no? Why on earth would someone allow a
substandard wall for only one side of the sukkah but not two sides? The
obvious answer to me is that the single cloth wall would indeed be pasul,
but he would still be left with a three-walled kosher sukkah.

> So, would the AhS have a problem with the ubiquitous canvas
> Sukkah? If not, why not?
> I was thinking that maybe this was leshitaso with chalav
> Yisrael; maybe his derekh is to be quite strict on gezeiros
> even / especially when it looks like batlah taam.

Again, I didn't notice any difference between the Tur, Taz, and AhS on this
issue. It seems to me that according to all of them, if the mechitzos can
stand up to a common wind, and there is no (reasonable) chance of getting
accidentally untied, then there's no problem.

Another thought to ponder: My understanding is that gezeiros remain in
force even when batlah taam. Yet we do seem to find cases where batlah taam
seems to justify ignoring the gezeira. I suggest that in such cases, it was
not a real gezeira to begin with. It was an instruction of a lesser degree,
perhaps mere advice, such that one can decide the case on its merits,
without worrying about violating a Gezeira D'rabanan.

On a more practical matter, concerning what RMB refers to as "the
ubiquitous canvas Sukkah". Today's canvas walls are not tied with ropes and
knots. They are MUCH more secure than that. Even if there really is a
gezeira against <<< yerios of pishtan without reeds, even if they are tied
well, because sometimes they get untied accidentally >>>, perhaps such a
gezeira simply doesn't apply to most modern sukkos.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2022 13:57:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Gezeira Against Cloth Sukkos?

On Thu, Dec 22, 2022 at 05:35:05AM -0500, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
>> AhS Yomi recently hit OC 630:32, in hilkhos Sukkah.
>> If I understand correctly, ... the Tur assumes there is a
>> gezeira in the gemara against using cloth for Sukkah walls
>> even if they are tied down. Because too many don't stay tied.

> I did not see this in the gemara, but I looked in the Tur and the AhS, and
> I see no mention of "gezeira" at all...

Except that the Tur says (besheim Rabbeinu Peretz) that you may not
use the Sukkah even if the cloth is tied down tight. (Unless you have
rigid pieces that are a lavud-laden halachic wall without the cloth.)
And the Taz, which is why I mentioned the Taz...

>> he says that one can rely on the Taz for a single cloth wall
>> only "bemaqom tzorekh".

> If something is allowed (or not) for one wall, the halacha would be the
> same for the other walls too, no? Why on earth would someone allow a
> substandard wall for only one side of the sukkah but not two sides? The

This is exactly why I thought "gezeira". If it were advice, then you
can second-guess advice if the motivation doesn't apply. And yet the
Tur naysays the idea even if you tied it down well. But if it is a pesul
derabbanan, then it could well exist or have parameters that go beyond
the taam.

Altoghether, the treatment smells like a gezeira based on avoidaing a
risk, and not "merely" advice to not do something risky. To my mind,
so much so, I didn't even notice the reasoning step that got me there.

Admittedly Rabbeinu Peretz (whom the Tur is quoting) doesn't say "assur"
or "pasul" but "eino nakhon".

OTOH, the Taz says "chaishinan d'mintiqa". Not that one is avoiding a
possibility (e.g. "shema mintiqa"). Cheshash is a language I associate
with gezeiros. (Or gezeira-like minhagim, I guess.)

Also, there is a reason why one wall would be okay -- a Sukkah only needs
two real walls. Perhaps the bit that isn't flapping in the wind is too
likely to be a tefach to worry about the third semi-wall being pasul too.

But this isn't the Taz's reasoning. The Taz says that if the person
tied it well, why would the Sukkah be a problem? Therefore, "vetzarikh
lomar debekhol hamechitzos hikhmir".

As I said, that seems to be someone setting up an issur, not discussing

> Again, I didn't notice any difference between the Tur, Taz, and AhS on this
> issue. It seems to me that according to all of them, if the mechitzos can
> stand up to a common wind, and there is no (reasonable) chance of getting
> accidentally untied, then there's no problem.

Actually, they all seem to take for granted that chaishinan (whether you
buy my subconscious diyuq or not) that there is no way to make sure the
Sukkah remains tied down for the whole YT. At least, the Taz would say
if it's all the walls, and the AhS, if it's one of the main 2 walls.

A lichtikn un freilechn Chanukah!

Micha Berger                 Strength does not come from winning. Your
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   struggles develop your strength When you go
Author: Widen Your Tent      through hardship and decide not to surrender,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    that is strength.        - Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Message: 4
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2022 13:59:46 +0000
[Avodah] What is the reason that children receive Chanukah

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. What is the reason that children receive Chanukah Gelt, special monetary
gifts, on Chanukah? Why do some have a custom to give Chanukah Gelt only on
the 5th night of Chanukah?

A. The word Chanukah is related to the word chinuch (education). The Greeks
wanted to make us forget our holy Torah. When they were defeated, it was
necessary to begin reeducating the Jewish people, especially the children.
Monetary gifts were given to the children with the intention of
strengthening their love of Torah. As a reminder of these past events it
has become a tradition to give monetary gifts during Chanukah to our
precious children (Sifsei Chaim, Moadim vol. 2, p.134 in the name of the
Ponovizher Rav zt?l).

Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt?l offered a slightly different explanation.
Initially the minhag was to give a monetary gift to the child?s rebbe on
Chanukah because he played an integral role in the chinuch process.
Subsequently, the custom evolved and the ?delivery boy? was given a gift as
well (Emes L?Yaakov Siman 670 in the footnote).

Rav Belsky zt?l related that Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt?l used to give money
to his children on the fifth night of Chanukah (see Piskei Halacha Vol. 1
p. 120). Many choose the fifth night for Chanukah Gelt distribution since
this night can never fall on Shabbos, when the distribution of money would
be prohibited.

Professor Yitzchok Levine
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Message: 5
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2022 08:43:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Gezeira Against Cloth Sukkos?

R' Micha Berger wrote:

> Altogether, the treatment smells like a gezeira based on
> avoiding a risk, and not "merely" advice to not do something
> risky.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

*My* opinion is that we have far too many minhagim which are mislabeled as
halachos, and far too many d'rabanans which people mistakenly think to be
d'Oraisa. And therefore, I prefer not to take something I see in a sefer
(no matter how much authority that sefer has) and decide on my own to call
it a Gezeira D'rabanan. (If someone *else* assigns it that label, that's a
different story.)

Akiva Miller
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Message: 6
From: Zvi Lampel
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2022 20:28:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Tamar Not Embarrassing Yehuda

From: Chaim Dovid Kaufman <cbkauf...@gmail.com>
> ...Why wouldn't Yehudah need to give a reason for halting
> the din?

Perhaps, as the judge who gave the original pesak without explanation (as
far as we can tell from the pesukim), he could simply say that upon further
investigation he discovered that the original pesak was incorrect. (Let the
people think Tamar was forced, for example.)

> [It seems that regarding Onein] the issur of zera l'vatala is
> what...bothers
> everyone. [But the pesukim indicate it was an issue of a] brother's
> selfishness....
> I think the Malbim treats this issue.


From: "Rabbi Meir G. Rabi" <meir...@gmail.com>
> Rabbi Lampel makes very interesting observations, thank you.

Thanks, Rabbi Rabi.

> When Y said, She is more righteous than I, who was he speaking to? HKBH?
> Himself?

I think it could be either, or to the sheluchim who brought the evidence
and Tamar's message, or to the accusers or Beis Din.

> It also remains to be explained why Tamar did not submit her evidence to
> Yehudah i.e. render herself completely defenseless, not AFTER it became
> public knowledge that she was with child, but after 2 or 3 weeks when she
> alone would have known?

Midrash Rabbah and Targumin say that the Satan made her lose the evidence
and she only found it now at the last minute. If the loss was before her
pregnancy showed (vs when she was brought out to be burnt), that would
explain it.

> Had she done so she would have given Y the opp to marry her himself or to
> Sheilo [or send her away to return later with a husband and child, or not]
> and completely sidestep any humiliating public awareness of her
> 'indiscretion' and Y's activities.

Yes, she would have been able to tell Yehuda he
accomplished the yibum, word would get out, and all would be fine.
Note: I tried to be ambiguous about what Yehuda's embarrassment would be
over: the indiscretion, or the failure to act on his promise to Tamar, or
the failureto perform the yibum himself.

> Does the Halacha permit putting oneself in danger - meaning constructing a
> situation in which one is prepared to lose their life in order to prevent
> humiliating another?

Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman presents an informative shiur on this issue,
calling the idea ''shocking." Start at the 26:30 mark.


He cites a number of mekoros that deal with this issue, and at 29:44 states
that many deal with this question and many end with a tsarich iyun.

> It seems her actions are not criticised by Chazal, as a lack of trust in
> HKBH. Why not?

Indeed, she is praised for the hishtadlus in bringing about the progenitors
of Mashiach. Deception in order to accomplish major holy ends is a theme
throughout Tanach.

> Same as to our praising Yael for her selfless actions - why is that not
> seen as a lack of Bitachon?

> Did Y act correctly in deceiving T by suggesting she will marry Sheilo
> sometime in the future?
> Is that not OnoAt Devarim? is it not a violation of Midvar Shekker
> TirChack?

I think all agree that he acted improperly. That is what he was embarrassed
about, and is praised for confessing.


From: "Jay F. Shachter" <j...@m5.chicago.il.us>
>> We are told that Tamar risked execution rather than publicly
>> embarrassing Yehuda.

> Can we please stop taking these rhetorical statements literally?
>  no one is obliged to risk execution rather than publicly embarrass
> someone.

See above link. I am also bothered by this, but as Rabbi Feldman points
out, rishonim and acharonim somehow eschew taking the statement
merely bderech guzma. Sorry.

> You are not even allowed to risk execution rather than
publicly embarrass someone (there are minority opinions that disagree).
Yes, not obligated nor even allowed. Sigh.

> And Bney Noax -- remember, we are talking about Bney Noax here -- are
> not even obliged to martyr themselves to avoid committing idolatry, or
> gilluy `arayoth.

This depends upon whether there is an obligation on Bnei Noach to be
mekadesh Hashem, an issue raised by the Gemara (Sanhedrin 94b), whose girsa
and conclusion is a machlokes rishonim (Rashi, yes; Tosafos and Rambam no).


> (Also, as has been mentioned before on this mailing list, I think the
> pshat of the psuqim is that Tamar was about to be branded, not burnt
> alive.)

 HaKesav V'Haballah writes that this is the meaning, citing the Baal
HaTurim who cites it in the name of R. Yehuda HaChasid. And he writes that
the Rosh notes that this was the Arab practice with zonos to his day.
Malbim (curiously not on the posuk of tisaref, but on the previous posuk of
Tamar covering her face) notes this as well, but curiously only in the name
of his contemporary, Avraham Ashkenazy.

Perhaps these mefarshim take the Chazal as well to mean that we learn from
Tamar that it is better to allow oneself to be branded (throw oneself to
the fiery furnace treatment ) rather than publicly embarrass another. And
this may well be meant literally. But alas, the other rishonim, acharonim
and poskim commentators take the potential burning of Tamar to be referring
to execution, which indeed raises technical problems, for which they do not
offer the solution that the statement was meant rhetorically,
hyperbolically, or in any way not literally.

Zvi Lampel


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