Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 071

Monday, December 7 1998

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 19:29:33 -0500
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>
Avoda #70

From: Yisrael Herczeg <yherczeg@netmedia.net.il>
Subject: changing psak based on manuscripts

Noah Witty asks:
>May we change p'sak based
>on our scholarship and unearthing of manuscripts and later shittos rishonim
>concerning such a case?

Without getting involved in the specific example given in the posting, the
Chazon Ish in Kovetz Igros, vol. II, no. 23, says that newly found
manuscripts are of little value in arriving at halachic conclusions. See
also vol. I, no. 32, where he has a similar attitude toward versions of the
Talmudic text which are not mentioned by the rishonim.

Yisrael Herczeg

Noach Witty coments/asks: R' Yisrael Herczeg and others have noted the
Chazon Ish, zatzvk"l; however, since I don't own a copy, I am constrained to
On what rational basis can we ignore material that appears valid, relevant,
not forged, Rishon-ic or earlier, and decide that just because the Bais
Yoseph did not see it, we may choose to ignore it? A shitta/derech in a
sugya that may be thought to have been considered and accepted or rejected
by a rishon seen by Bais Yoseph hardly needs to be discussed in this
context--unless we assume, as appears some do on list, that B.Y. went by
majority, in which case this, too, presents a serious issue.
Especially is the issue pertinent, I think, when the recently discovered
rishon presents a p'shat or din or day'a that is not at all covered by the
rishonim in front of B.Y.'s eyes.  My impression is that some nos-ei kailim
on Shulchan Aruch were, in fact, more lenient or stringent in certain rules
because they had rishonim that Rabi Caro did not.
Another way of presenting the above would be: Is there appropriate authority
to decide that the Bais Yoseph was the "ne'eelas ha-psak" in the way that
Shas is presumed to have been closed up for further contributions?  I would
say that Rabbi Moshe Isserles did not think so; that Rabbi Gombiner did not
think so w/ respect to RaMA; the GRA (not the gra, the GRA! :)) did not
think so; and so on. Comments and answers are invited.

Noach Witty

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Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 21:38:29 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: objective chilul Hashem


See Rambam Hil TT 3:10.

> We don't find in Rambam or SA a din that a mitzva should not be done if
> it results in a chilul Hashem (however you choose to define it) - what
> is the precedent for this claim? 


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 21:42:29 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>

Hope Micha doesn't berate me for this one...

From the R' Shlomo list, only slightly blasphemous.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

---------- Forwarded message ----- 

[Quoting our teachers to bring Mashiach: This came to me tagged as coming
from Rabbi Joe Black, with several additions by Rabbi David Zaslow, and I
have made several emendations in accord with more recent anthropological/
halakhic research into the question. -- AW]

Q:     How many Hassidic Rebbes does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     What is a light bulb?

Q:     How many Orthodox Rabbis does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     Change?

Q:     How many Conservative Rabbis does it take to change a light bulb?

A:     Some members of the Committee on Law and Standards say it takes a
minyan, some say the minyan can be made up of men and women, some say only
men, and some say only men OR women.  Some say the light bulb can be changed
on Shabbat only if it is in a car driving to a synagogue, others . . .   There
was no majority, so the issue remains subject to the decision of the mara

Q:     How many Reform Rabbis does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     None, anyone can change it whenever they want to.

Q:     How many Jewish Renewal rabbis does it take to change a light bulb?

A:     If the Rabbi leading the process is sufficiently skilled in channneling
Spiritual Energy (Trademark Pending), the light bulb will relight by itself. 

Otherwise, it depends: 

Just one, if it is certified to be an eco-kosher (TRADEMARK PENDING) bulb that
is not going to be lit from  nuclear-powered electricity and is not made by a
company that is poisoning the Hudson River. 

Otherwise, three: one to change it, one to do a Buddhist mindfulness practice
during the change, and one to document the paradigm shift in a best-selling
book called "The Jew in the Lightbulb" (Trademark Pending.)  

But if the local community is more than 720 miles from Mt Airy, Boulder, or
Berkeley, four are required -- the extra one  to lead a retreat weekend at
Elat Chayyim, exploring experientially the psycho-halakhic (Trademark Pending)
meaning of the experience.

Q:     How many Shlomo hassidim does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     Gevaldt, it's mamash such a great opportunity to do t'shuvah. So it
takes everyone there to get real close, sing a niggun, listen to an Ishbitzer
teaching, tell a Levi Yitzchak story, and change the bulb at 2 in the morning.

Q:     How many Reconstructionist Rabbis does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     Five. All chant the word "Civilization, civilization, 
civilization. . ." while each one changes the bulb, and when the fifth is
finished they all start changing it over again. 

Q:     How many Jews does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     50. One to change the bulb, 13 to discuss it and give contradictory
advice to the person changing the bulb, and 36 to live elsewhere, act
mentshlich, and not mention the light bulb to anyone. Others say : 50, one
each to open the hidden gates of the Primordal Supernal Light. 

Q.     How many Lubavitchers does it take to change a light bulb?
A.     None, it never died.

Q:     How many Breslover Hassidim does it take to change a light bulb?
A:     None. There will never be one that will burn as brightly as the first

Q:     How many congregants does it take to change a light bulb in a
A:     CHANGE? You vant we should CHANGE the light bulb? My grandmother
donated that light bulb!!!


End of REB-SHLOMO Digest 529

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Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 22:21:43 -0600 (CST)
From: Cheryl Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #68

On Sat, 5 Dec 1998, Eli Turkel wrote:

> >  Is there any Gemara that brings an action of the avot as support for a
> >     halachic discussion
Can we include the parameters for the mitzva of onah based on what yaakov
gaVE to esav as gifts--the gemara in Ab Zah also learns laws of dealing
with goyim from Yaakov and esav--I'm sure there are others
Elie Ginsparg

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 15:53:52 +0200 ("IST)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

Subject: chillul hashem

Yitzchak writes

>> I assume you are basing this on his (Rav Dovid Cohen) letter in the 
>> Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society XIX p. 127.  
>> While noting that his tone is speculative and he particularly denies
>> drawing any halachic conclusion, his argument is fairly straightforward.
>> He says "The plain reading of the verses in Yechezkel 36: 17-21 is
>> that relinquishing or leaving Eretz Yisrael as a result of weakness
>> is considered a Chilul Hashem."  But see the rest of his letter.

I would appreciate the opinion of some Nach experts on this list.
However, my reading of these verses is not at all the same.
I read Yechezkel as simply saying that because of their sins the
Jews were exiled and this caused a chillul hashem. Nothing at all to
do with "leaving Eretz Yisrael as a result of weakness"
In fact I understand Jeremiah as warning the Jews that Babylonia
was much stronger and any revolt was futile and warning against
warmongers (who possibly were claiming that it would be a chillul hashem
to appear as weaklings to Bavel).

As I previously quoted Rav Schach clearly disagrees with Rav Cohen
and very strongly states that Jews survuved for 2000 years by not
starting with the goyim, i.e. Jews survived in galut by accepting
all the beatings and degradations of the goyim and not reacting to it.
He then extends this philosophy to the state of Israel (this is the
weak link).

My personal philosophy, based on Rav Soloveitchik, is between these
two extremes. It is necessary that the policy of Israel be flexible
and not be pinned down in advance. Demanding that Israel never
negotiate except from strength or demanding that Israel alway give
in can both destro the country. Each situation demands to be examined
on its on merit - which in paryicular means relying on the military
and politicians and not on poskim.

Finally, Rav Cohen takes for granted that chillul hashem overrides
pikuach nefesh. However, it is not listed among the 3 sins that
override pikuach nefesh. It is true that if there is a decree
specifically against the Torah than one must give up his life
even for minor points. However, it is far from clear that the
chillul hashem of appearing as a weakling falls into this category.
Furthermore, I would argue that there is a difference between
an individual giving up his life and demanding that the country
commit suicide.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 10:05:22 -0600 (CST)
From: Saul J Weinreb <sweinr1@uic.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #70

Regarding HaRav YGB's assertion that Avraham Avinu argued with HKB'H that
the mitzvah of Bris Milah would discourage geirus, I would like to respond
as follows.  Yes, Avraham did feel that Hashem should not command him to
do this mitzvah, but nowhere is it suggested that he would Chas Vechalilah
have disobeyed Hashem's command because of his own cheshbonos.  Similarly,
Rav YGB mentioned in his Friday night parsha shiur this past shabbos that
Avraham Avinu felt that the command of lech lecha would cause a chillul
hashem because he would not be mekayem the mitzvah of kibbud av ve'em.
Again nowhere is it even hinted that Avraham even considered not doing the
mitzvah for this reason.  In fact, the entire nisayon of the Akeidah,
according to many mefarshim was that even though this went completely
against common sense, and completely against everything that Avraham Avinu
stood for, and completely against Avraham Avinu's conception of
HKB'H, but still - this is Hashem's explicit command, and he had to do
it belev shalem because He commanded him to.
To suggest that we shouldn't do a mitzvah Min HaTorah because of Chillul
Hashem is, in my humble opinion, a ludicrous suggestion.  What greater
kiddush Hashem can there possibly be then to be mekayem mitzvosov against
"public opinion"  The possible end results of such a philosophy could
Chas Veshalom lead one down the path to Kefirah MaMesh RCH'L.  Let us
first do away with Hilchos Mamzeirus, because they are "inhumane."  Then
let's work on the special halachos of kohanim marrying gerushos.  And how
about the woman who can't live with her husband because she has an
irregular period?  Then maybe we can reduce the "chillul Hashem" by
allowing women with recalcitrant husbands to remarry without a proper get.
I think you see where this is heading.  If Hashem commands us to do
something, we don't have to "agree" with it to do it.  This is about as
basic a concept in our religion as belief in One G-D.
I challenge HaRav YGB to find one mekor in chazal, which suggests that we
should not do an explicit mitzvah because of chillul hashem.
Even leaving this debate aside, I disagree with the entire premise of
HaRav YGB that holding on to Eretz Yisrael is causing a chillul Hashem.
Yes, the violent acts of Jewish extremists does cause a chillul Hashem,
but those acts are assur min HaTorah for many many reasons, including
Chillul Hashem.  However, those that feel beemunah shelaima that a Jew has
the right  to live in Artzeinu HaKedoshah, anywhere in Artzeinu
HaKedoshah, are by no means being mechallel shem shamayim Chas veshalom
because of their opinions.
Shaul Weinreb

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 11:45:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #68

> In v2n62, Joel Rich writes: : The Rav certainly felt that in studying
> the Rambam it was hard to know when it : was the Rambam the Jewish
> philosopher and when it was the Rambam the : aristotelian philosopher.

1. Rav Soloveitchik did not hesitate to propose such distinctions in
reading Moreh Nevukhim. See end of Halakhic Mind for examples.
2. Nowhere does he state that permitting oneself to be influenced by
"Greek philosophy" delegitimizes the Rambam's ideas. Only that those
elements deriving from external sources cannot be made the foundation of
Jewish philosophy. 

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 13:28:40 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Food for Thought

Private correspondence I received. I thought Avodah was helping overcome
precisely such problems, but perhaps I was wrong...


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

---------- Forwarded message ----------
To be honest, although I still get the list (in digest form) and do scan
them periodically (I read your thing on R. Cook & the politcal / religious
right in Israel; interesting, a large grain of truth, but overly
simplistic), I have tired of it, particularly with the list manager's (and
many of the participants's unwillingness to deal, with any kind of
intellectual honesty, with the hard issues facing Jews and Judaism, both
in the States and even more so here.  I feel more strongly than ever that
Israel, and perhaps the Jewish world in general, is becoming more and more
like the era prior to the destruction of the Second Beit Hamikdash,
including a whole slew of Rabbinic personalities (including ostensible
G'dolim whose excessive "anivut", myopia, and tunnel vision are
exacerbating the situation.  There are some bright spots but I fear they
are few and far between.

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 15:30:05 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #70

On Sun, 6 Dec 1998, Saul J Weinreb wrote:

> To suggest that we shouldn't do a mitzvah Min HaTorah because of Chillul
> Hashem is, in my humble opinion, a ludicrous suggestion.  What greater

The Rambam did not think so. See Hil. TT 3:10. 


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 18:03:15 -0600 (CST)
From: Cheryl Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
d'ktiv vs.shenemar

I was giving a shiur today on Sotah daf 14b where thegemara cites pasukim
to  be sources for som hilchos menachos. One ofmy students asked why the
gemara sometimes introduces a pasuk with shenemar and sometimes with
d'ktiv. I admitted that I never really thought about it but would try to
find an answer.Does anyone know an answer or a makor for the difference
between d'ktiv and shenemar--Next shiur is Wed.
Elie Ginsparg

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Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 06:03:37 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re: Avodah V2 #70

>>However, I reiterate my point that chillul hashem should also affect religious
legislation and coercion and many recent anti-chiloni acts. I just cam across a 
quote from Rav Lictenstein that stated explicitly that most religious 
legislation while it may make some people more religious in the short term does 
great damage in the long term.
kol tuv,
Eli Turkel<<

Note: this is similar to my point re: WTG and their banning in Queens.  The ban 
in efffect made TG a cause celebre, even if in the shor run it did prevent some 
Woomen from attending one bat mitzvo.  

It's not so unusual, think of the Etz hadaas, as soon as you point out how ossur
it is, it will become an obsession.  (nechmod)

I really think this is the implication of chachomim hizaharu bedivreichem, that 
the long term effects of an official pronouncement may go quite awry.

My freind's father who learned in the Mattesdorf Yeshiva before WWII told us 
that the Yshiva made it point to Asser learning Tanach and Rambam, so of course 
the Talmidim would sneak off and learn guess what?!

I once disucssed some of these concepts with Rabbi Ralph Neuhaus, OH.  He noted 
that the banning of people that went conservative while a somewhat successful 
detterent, also served to deter some from doing teshuvo.  

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