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Volume 41: Number 57

Thu, 03 Aug 2023

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2023 17:04:32 -0400
Re: [Avodah] a few questions

On Tue, Jul 11, 2023 at 07:55:08PM -0400, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> The machloket between Rashi and Tosafot, as to whether kal vachomer is the
> only one of the 13 midot that one can learn on their own without a
> tradition or is gzeira shaava the only one needing a tradition seems very
> late in the game (meaning one would've expected to see this disagreement
> articulated earlier on)

It may have also happened very late in the game.

Perhaps it isn't that in principle gezeira shava (and potentially most
other rules of derashah) requires a mesorah. Perhaps it is a statement
that too much of the art of composing a new g"sh was lost for anyone to
still compose new ones.

First, derashah was an art form, like poetry.

Then, we started losing the art, so Hillel, then R Yishmael and R Aqiva,
gave them formal structures, finding categories that the set of existing
derashos fit to make rules of derashah.

In fact, that line of reasoning could even reduce the machloqes you
speak of. (It's on Shabbos 97a, no?) Perhaps they are asking about the
generations of R Yehudah ben Beseirah through R Aqiva in particular. At
that point in time, everyone agrees that we lost too many details of
g"sh to coin new ones. And today, we don't make new derashos. But when
did we lose the details necessary to make the other forms of derashah?

As for qal vachomer... No surprise that rule has longevity. The bigger
surprise is how a simple rule of logic got onto the list of derashos to
begin with.

One guess I have been harboring, but have no way to confirm or disprove:
The a fortiori itself is all logic. But there is an inductive step. To
put that another way: Once you say that X is more stringent across the
board than Y, any stringencies you find in Y must also be true of X. But
how do you established that X is always more stringent than Y? We build
it up inductively, from laws that are known to be stricter. E.g. issur
kareis vs a regular lav, or melakhos Shabbos vs those of YT.

The right to build a rule like that is, I am arguming, closer to a binyan
av from laws written in the Torah to establish that X is categorically
more chamur.

> Somewhat similar on Dina dmalchuta, why did it wait until Shmuel to be
> articulated?

In which case, it wouldn't be articulated until true.

But derashah in general went through systemization, and notably nearer
to the end of its creative life. (Which is why I built up the above
model.) From Hillel's 5 broader categories, later tannaim build up
theories involving the derashah of concepts (R Yishma'el's 13 rules) or
the derashah of words (R Aqiva's 19). Not that any of this discussion
about systemization stopped R Aqiva from making a kelal uperat, or R
Yishmael from making a ribui umi'ut.

So, discussing which rules were lost would wait for them being lost,
and for coining the terminology in which to be able to give labels for
what was lost.

Of course, if you understand the idea that derashos require mesorah mean
that each and every derashah is miSinai, you have to explain machloqesin
(perhaps the pasuq was pointed to but not the din?), how Moshe Rabbeinu
couldn't understand R Aqiva's shiur (Rashi: he was brought to visit the
shiur before he learned that sugya directly from HQBH), and the medrash
on Rus that says that "Moavi velo Moavis" was first darshened when Rus's
presence raised the quation. (And Peloni Almoni declined because he was
afraid that a future Beis Din would invalidate his children.)

> Lastly, on the Gemara in Magilla which discusses saying kriat shma lmafrea
> the conclusion dvarim hadvarim lo mashma -- how would you explain the
> disagreement to a 13-year-old as to why one party would say that is worthy
> of a drasha and the other party says no?

There was a fundamental machloqes about what drives derashah.

R Aqiva even darshened tagin. And the word "es". His ribui umi'ut rules
are based on keywords -- akh, raq, kol... He dealt in words. Aseir
ta'aseir may be normal grammar, but why would the Torah double the root
like that if not to draw our attention? Very textual.

R Yishmael held that dibera Torah belashon benei adam. The hei of
hadevarim works grammatically, as does aseir ta'aseir, or the word "es",
and there is no derashah to be made. A kelal is the nature of the meaning
of a clause in the sentence, not like ribui's categorization of words.

They established two batei medrash, from which came the medrashei
halakhah. And one can divide the styles of the medrashei halakhah by
whether they are DeVei R Yishmael or DeVei R Aqiva.

Until R Aqiva started a new way of teaching halakhah. A work passed on
to his talmid R Meir, and eventually completed by Rebbe. (See R Yochanan
on Sanhedrin 86a, Tosefta, Sifra and Sifrei also went from R Aqiva to
a talmid who ends up being the voice of the "stam", and then completed
during the first generation of amoraim.)

With the acceptance of the mishnah, R Aqiva's school "won".


Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 The mind is a wonderful organ
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   for justifying decisions
Author: Widen Your Tent      the heart already reached.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 2
From: Brent Kaufman
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2023 20:18:48 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Motive for the Restart of Smicha

>>Personally, I would think that any suffering that breaks one out of a
rote that includes sins would be mechaper. After all, they effected
teshuvah-like change by giving an opportunity to think about resuming
one's old ways.

Suffering in general is always mechaper. I'm not going out on a limb with
this idea.

Chaimbaruch Kaufman
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2023 11:19:02 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Learning is Good

On Sun, Jul 30, 2023 at 08:54:51PM -0500, Brent Kaufman wrote:
> [Micha, paraphrasing the Meshekh Chokhmah:]
>> The last 8 pesuqim are subject to a
>> machloqes as to whether Yehoshu wrote them down because they are not
>> part of the Torah, they are a codicil required for a Sefer Torah to
>> be kosher the way the kelaf is.

> This certainly goes against the Rambam's 13 Ikarim....

This is the author of the Or Sameiach we're talking about. I doubt R
Meir Simchah haKohein simply ignored the Rambam.

Here is how I understood him... The MC had a gemara which had a machloqes
about who wrote the last 8 pesuqim. And he EMBRACED the Rambam's last iqar.

So you have a choice:
You could reject the iqar, or modify it to include a single episode with
Yehoshua during the shiv'ah for MRAH.

You could decide that R Yehudah or R Nechemiah (isn't that R Meir's
real name?) was a daas yachid, and consensus was that Moshe wrote these
pesuqim too. The Rambam has other cases where he says that something in
the gemara was a daas yachid and not Chazal as a whole's hashkafah.

R Meir Simcha haKohein appears to have taken a third route: He says the
Torah must end before these 8 pesuqim. These pesuqim are a codicil, an
epilog. Part of the seifer Torah, but not part of the Torah. And
therefore not within the Rambam's iqar.

Note that in the gemara (BB 15a) R Yehoshua replies by questioning if a
"seifer Torah" could be missing even a single word. Not "the Torah".
And therefore says Moshe wrote these pesuqim, but bedim'ah.

So RMShK seems to be saying that the whole reason why the machloqes is
within the 13 iqarim is because these last pesuqim weren't included by
the iqar articulated by the Rambam either.

>                                           "And why are they there? To
> teach the importance of passing the baton to the next generation.",
> seems so trite vis-a-vis the infinite depth of Toras Hashem.

Again, this is the MC, not Micha Berger. Perhaps my wording, because it
was an extreme summary, came out trite. To the MC, this one comma between
seifer and Torah implied by the gender of "zeh" is the reason to launch
into a discussion of the relative value of learning and teaching. E.g. why
going to give a shiur (hekhsher of teaching) outranks sitting in a sukkah
(mitzvah), but actual learning doesn't even justify not attending to
building a sukkah (learning is trumped by heksher mitzvah).

He also uses it to explain "ashrei mi shelo nivra" and why the Y-mi says
that someone who learns just to learn would hve been better off been
strangled in birth. Since learning is easier if one stayed with the mal'akh.
We are here to apply what we learn.


See MC Devarim 28:61, d"h "gam kolcholi..." for yourself. I have a copy
with my translation and commentary at

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 People were created to be loved.
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   Things were created to be used.
Author: Widen Your Tent      The reason why the world is in chaos is that
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    things are being loved, people are being used.

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Message: 4
From: Joel Rich
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2023 17:28:54 -0400
[Avodah] Vayidom Aharon

A question a student was trying to ask (or the one that?s been on my mind
for a while) is that if it is the case that Aharon was comforted by Moses
telling him that bkrovai akadeish was fulfilled through them, then it?s not
much of a paradigm for those who suffer and who don?t have an understanding
of why things happen.

Your thoughts?

Joel Rich
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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2023 10:06:59 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Learning is Good

On Wed, Jun 14, 2023 at 05:53:53AM +0300, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
>                                  Given that according to the Gra the
> mitzvah of limud torah (for men) applies anytime you're not doing something
> else that has a higher mitzva priority at that time, limud torah must be a
> very high priority.

The Meshekh Chokhmah notes that while going to give a shiur is dokheh
Sukkah, learning isn't even dokheh building a Sukkah.

He comes in strongly in favor of lilmod al menas lelameid being what
trumps other mitzvos. Leshitaso, the Torah ends at the last pasuq
definitely written by Mosheh. The last 8 pesuqim are subject to a
machloqes as to whether Yehoshu wrote them down because they are not
part of the Torah, they are a codicil required for a Sefer Torah to
be kosher the way the kelaf is. And why are they there? To teach the
importance of passing the baton to the next generation.

See his comment on Devarim 28:61, which I translated and expanded
on at https://aspaqlaria.aishdas.org/2021/08/27/learning-and-teaching

The other opinion in the gemara also complicates prioritization. Either
al menas lelameid or the point of Talmud Torah is al menas la'asos. Which
is broader than practical halakhah, as one needs motivation to bother
doing it, and the elegance of a good sugyah is a good chizuq emunah.

Either way, the priority of learning is derivative, and therefore it
is hard to use arguments of importance. If one needs to learn in order
to... learning gets priority because one is caring for the goose, not
because it is the golden egg. And so, the importance would depend on the
identity and importance of the "egg", possibly more so than questions
of metzuveh ve'oseh of the learning itself. (And possibly not. I
just want to raise the question, not take a side.)

> Starting with the cognitive (versus emotional) evaluation, how do we view
> the category of eino metzuveh voseh? ...

The way I see it, the metzuveh ve'oseh needs the mitzvah enough for Hashem
to tell him he must do it. Whereas the einah metzuvah apparently can get
by without it.

This would explain the greater reward, as well as the yeitzer hara's
resistence. We talk about the yh"r's greater resistence because of
the psychology of "why do I gotta?" But it is also bound to resist more
something making a more fundamental change. And the fact that it is
making necessary change itself justifies greater sekhar.

Nidon didan... I would argue that men for some reason are wired to require
book learning to be better Jews in ways that women can absorb in other
ways. This is the only way I could see rationally explaining why we are
metzuvim, and women are not. (Not that everyone must agree there is a rational

Men need the change theoretical learning brings, or for us are more
capable of getting that change compared to other ways that may be more
effective for women. And therefore it hits more resistence. AND, therefore
the man ends up more changed, and more a person who now needs / deserves
a different life than he did before.

> Further how might we evaluate what can make us a better eved hashem? ...

Personally, I feel that "eved Hashem" isn't a concept that does much to help
one define the goal. And I would say the same of "refining one's middos / tzelem
E-lokim". Yes, these are thinfs we are supposed to do with our lives. But...

What does an "eved Hashem" look like? What mission did the Boss give
humanity? The Jewish People? (Hopefully soon we yisraelim will be able
to add: My sheivet?" to the list.) What is His mission for me personally?

And isn't that the question we were trying to answer to begin with?

We get a reframing of the problem, but not an answer.

(And in the case of "refining oneself", too. It begs the question of what
the ideal human we are to be striving for looks like.)

> we use connection with HKBH or perhaps the Rambam's first mitzvah of
> knowing HKBH as partial measures?

The Rambam expects people to do the right thing out of knowledge of Hashem
and The Truth. More so than out of middos (see the opening 2 peraqim
and the closing of Moreh Nevuchim). I don't think too many people see
themselves this way, and psyhologists certainly don't. Our emotions,
drives, and unconscious thoughts drive our beiefs far far more than the
other way around.

So personally, if one is talking tachlis, I would avoid the Rambam or
any of the Aristotilians.

> After I wrote this, I found this from R' Amital:
> The study of Torah brings you closer to God. No one understands how this
> works. But if you focus your study on Jewish philosophy, Tanakh, or other
> subjects -- you will fail. The Oral Law is the basis for everything -- faith,
> Torah, yirat shamayim, love of mitzvot. Afterwards, of course, it is
> necessary to supplement with aggada and mussar, Tanakh and philosophy. But
> the foundation of all foundations is the Oral Law.

And with all due respect to the Rambam, the unemotional contemplation of
its truth doesn't do the same for me.

I dunno about the "no one understands"... What speaks to the truth of Torah
and embracing it as a lifestyle more than the experience of that lightbulb
going off when all the pieces fit together?

There is something about a good math proof that mathemticians look at
and call "elegant". I am not talking about the emotional response, but
the thing that triggers it. It is neither the aesthetic judgement itself,
nor a Maimonidian getting back to pre-sin Adam, i.e. getting above one's
middos through thought.

Learning gives you that same perception of elegance as a good math proof.
The kind of thing one only finds when looking at Truth.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 You cannot propel yourself forward
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   by patting yourself on the back.
Author: Widen Your Tent                      -Anonymous
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2023 15:37:53 -0400
[Avodah] When not to be machmir

First of two posts from the Arukh haShulchan Yomi group I wanted to share here.


From Todd Berman:
> Serious mussar! AHS YD 112:22

> House owner and guest. Guest generally eats Pat Akum but HO
> does not. Two loves on table: one Pat Yisroel and one better Pat
> Akum. Incumbent on HO to say the beracha on the better bread (the Pat
> Akum) he would normally not eat! And he must eat it the entire meal so
> as not to disgrace the beracha.

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2023 09:19:31 -0400
[Avodah] Fwd: Rabbi Hershel Schachter - Kosher Style Cuisine

TL;DR: Mitzvos anashim meilumada cultural observance = "kosher style".
Yelling "mesirah" to silence people from reporting criminals who are
harming people or pose a public menace (in a context where no BD is
equipped to effectively handle it) is just as treif as a a "kosher
style deli".


-- Forwarded message from TorahWeb <torah...@torahweb.org> -- 
Rabbi Hershel Schachter
Kosher Style Cuisine

Years ago, there used to be restaurants which would advertise that they
were "kosher style". That meant that the food was not kosher at all but
rather kosher "style". Bnei Torah realized that that is a farce. The laws
of the Torah are very detailed and if one of the necessary conditions
is for kashrus is missing, it does not help that it is "kosher style";
it is absolutely not kosher.

The same is true in all areas of halacha. Halacha is very detailed and
very complicated. Many non-observant Jews raise a question, "do you
really think that G-d is so pedantic that He really cares about all of
those intricate details??" Rav Soloveitchik zt"l once pointed out that
the same G-d that gave the Torah also created all living creatures in
the world. The DNA of a simple butterfly is extremely complicated. The
same G-d who came up with the idea about complicated DNA also came up
with all of the halachos, including all of their complicated details.

Every so often, Jewish folklore takes over a certain halacha and succeeds
in totally distorting it, sometimes l'chumra and sometimes l'kula. The
Torah tells us (Devarim 17:11) that when the rabbonim issue a psak, one is
not permitted to ignore that psak by either going to the right or to the
left -- "[lo sasur min hadavar asher yagidu lekha yamin usmol -mb]". Some
of the commentaries interpret that going to the right means l'chumra, that
one feels that the rabbonim were too lenient; and going to the left means
l'kula, that one feels that the rabbis were too stringent in their psak.

Over the years, folklore has taken over the laws of mesirah and
misrepresented this halacha as if it implies that no Jewish criminals
may be given over to the police. Those who follow the Daf Yomi have
been learning the Gemorah Gittin the last three months. In the first
perek in Gittin (7a), the Gemorah makes it clear that sometimes mesirah
is permissible and even required. If one is a public menace, or one is
harming other people, it is clear from the Shulchan Aruch and all of the
classical poskim that there is no prohibition of mesirah and because the
Jewish community in chutz la'aretz has no beis din which can take care of
the matter, we have no choice other than to report the individual to the
governmental authorities. Just the other day, I read a beautiful essay
on this topic in a sefer called shu"t Ishei Yisroel (volume 6 page 522),
by Rabbi Aschi Dick (a young talmid chacham who gives shiurim in the
OU center in Jerusalem) which quotes all of the sources that indicate
clearly that the prohibition of mesirah definitely does not apply in
such a situation.

Let us not fall in to the "kosher style" attitude that used to be so
prevalent in the area of kashrus years ago. All the details of every
halacha are significant, folklore notwithstanding.

(C) 2023 by TorahWeb Foundation. All Rights Reserved

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2023 15:44:23 -0400
[Avodah] The Arukh haShulchan on eating borcht made by a

Arukh haShulchan Yomi post #2, this one is mine.

One wonders how we get from [AhS] YD 112:12 to today's kashrus

RYME the siman is about pas aku"m. And se'if 12 discusses why borscht
is not a problem. It seems it was common to put breadcrumbs in the
borscht. "And maybe there are maachalos asuros among the readcrumbs? In
any case they are certainly beteilin beshishim and there is no safeiq
about this. And someone who wants to be machmir should be machmir for
himself and not others."

For the actual words

It increases my belief that the main reason why we today need to look
for hekhsheirim is the existence of those very hekhsheirim. And before
we made such things an efshar levareir, kashrus was a lot easier.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but it is my chief duty to accomplish small
Author: Widen Your Tent      tasks as if they were great and noble.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                            - Helen Keller

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Message: 9
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2023 14:22:55 +0000
[Avodah] All About Tachanun

The following is from the article at


which discusses saying Tachanun in detail.

From this article
Postscript: Is Tachanun Obligatory?

Although this author has heard it opined that the common ?custom? of
skipping Tachanun for reasons not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch nor
Poskei HaDoros is due to the Tur?s citing of Rav Nitoranei Gaon?s dictum
that ?Tachanun recited in the Beis Kenesses is a
nevertheless, both the Bach and the Prishah explain that that is far from
his intent.[37]<https://ohr.edu/10045#_edn37>
These authorities point out that they very next line in the Tur states that
Tachanun is not recited when a Chosson is present.

They explain the juxtaposition of these two statements is meant to clarify
the Halacha. If the reciting of Tachanun is an actual din, then we would be
obligated to recite it even with a Chosson present (akin to ShemonehEsrei
etc.). That is why the Tur prefaced it with Rav Nitoranei Gaon?s statement
that Tachanun is a Reshus: to allow us leniency in certain specific
halachically mandated cases. In other words, the recital of Tachanun is
similar to Tefillas Maariv: although officially titled a Reshus according
to some opinions (see Gemara Brachos 27b), it is nonetheless still
required; it just has certain nuances that are relaxed in specific

The reader is referred to Rav Yisroel Reisman?s excellent forward to the
English sefer titled ?Tachanun,? where he decries, in his inimitable
manner, the common lackadaisicalness and underappreciation many have for
this important Tefillah.[39]<https://ohr.edu/10045#_edn39>

See the above URL for much more.

Professor Yitzchok Levine

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