Avodah Mailing List

Volume 06 : Number 093

Thursday, January 4 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 07:45:32 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Women Davening

On Tue, Jan 02, 2001 at 05:26:05PM -0500, Gil.Student@citicorp.com wrote:
:                                               Consider the case of "kashering"
: flatware by sticking them in dirt for three days. There is no textual basis for
: it but it is a very prevalent minhag...

Al titosh toras Imecha... and this time I can use that expression in
both senses.

After seeing my mother bury a fork in the flowerpot on the kitchen
windowsill, I asked my mother why she does it. Her explanation revolved
around putting it aside for three days as a means of insuring nosein
ta'am lifgam. The cleansing action of the abrasion in the dirt is only
a side-issue -- once you have to put it aside, might as well be in dirt.


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 07:58:18 +0200
From: "Akiva Atwood" <atwood@netvision.net.il>
RE: Women Davening

> then, some will still pasken like the minhag. Consider the case of "kashering"
> flatware by sticking them in dirt for three days.

Are you commenting on Ne'itzah in general, or this specific method?

>  There is no textual basis for
> it but it is a very prevalent minhag and I've even heard of rabbonim advising
> people to kasher flatware this way.  The chassidishe poskim sometimes do this
> as well although I can't think of a good example right now.

For sources on Ne'itzah i general, R' Forst's sefer on kashrut lists YD
121:7, tosfos on Avoda Zara 76b, Shach 89:22 as textual sources.


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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 11:19:40 -0500
From: Gil.Student@citicorp.com
Re: Women Davening

Here are some other examples I thought of. Let's not quibble on the
details. I know that RYGB will protest vehemently over one and some
will protest over others. Hopefully, my pointing that out will avoid
it. Unless you disagree with all of the examples (and the many more
that I'm not bringing), don't bother picking on one or two of them.
Some of these were justified by rishonim, others by acharonim, based on
the minhag. Let me also point out that many of these examples have very
plausible rationalizations, albeit very new ones. I happen to think that
the sevara for women not having to daven is fairly plausible as well.
It just doesn't have mekoros except for maybe a Rambam.

1] Kiddush on less than a revi'is of schnapps.
2] Not sleeping in the sukkah.
3] Lighting Chanukah menorahs indoors.
4] Not washing on something that is dipped in a liquid.
5] Chadash bizman hazeh.
6] Marrying a woman who already had two husbands who died (i.e. a katlanis).
7] The takanos zecher lechurban such as leaving a square amah unfinished
in a house and not listening to music.
8] A father marrying off his ketanah daughter (see tosafos, kiddushin

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 16:12:58 -0500
From: "Wolpoe, Richard" <richard_wolpoe@ibi.com>
RE: Women Davening

Chana Luntz:
> a) the "black letter halacha" is that women should daven.
> b) the prevailing minhag (except among what I have called MO serious)
> is that women do not daven.
> My perspective is that a Rav will always, if asked a straightforward
> question without extenuating circumstances, posken like a). 

Not so fast.

Re: Chazaras Hashatz vs. a "heicha kedusha" for mincha:

The black letter of the law is to do CH
a lot of Rabbonim would pasken that a Heicha Kedusha is OK under many
conditions - e.g. at work.

IOW, a lot of Rabbanim look to common mimetics despite the texts.

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 01:29:44 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
zemer lechanuka

From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>
>                            I had been following some of the discussion on
> the zemer and was astonished to hear some of the things attributed to Ibn
> Ezra.

I don't think that CV any of us meant to slight the heilige IE.

The question rather is 1) is it really by him? and if yes 2) what is
pshat in his words?

> There is no doubt that, as with nearly all the words of any
> Rishon that we do not understand, the cause is our own ignorance, not the
> "wierdness" of the Rishon.

Of course. Agreed 100%.

> (That said, there is poem about Shabbos attributed to Ibn Ezra that is
> much more troubling.)

Which one and why?

> First, contrary to another poster's contention, the zemer is not only
> NOT criticized by Rav Ya'akov Emden but is printed in his siddur witht he
> following introductory words: "Zemer na-eh le-shabbbos chanukah vechathum
> AVRAHAM hu ibn Ezra.")

As I previously posted, the zemer 'takeh' appears in the standard editions
of the RYE siddur - however, that siddur was not published by RYE himself
but much later. There are many additions in that siddur with RYE.

In fact, I heard (and IIRC saw published in one of his sforim) that
the Minchas Elozor z'l was quite upset when someone first published a
nussach Sfard version - saying that that was not RYE's nussach.

In our Shul there is a very recent 2 volume edition - completely reset -
and based on the original RYE edition - and does NOT include the zemer.

My informant Rav Shimon Opman (a person extremely knowledgeable in such
matters) told me that he has definitely seen negative comments about
this zemer by RYE (in another one of his sforim).

RSO is currently in EY for the wedding of his son - so I cannot obtain
further info for a few weeks.

>                        May this be a zechus for a refuah shlaima for
> Betzalel Eliezer ben Esther Chaita be-toch she-ar cholei Yisrael.


> Timkor--sell
> Tachkor--sharecrop, as in "khakirus"
> Tiskor--NOT "tishkor" as was erroneously suggested

I can't recall anyone writing that.

> Bevais HaYayin nalin--let us reside in, meaning visit, the house of
> wine...

Wouldn't 'nolin' mean 'overnight stay'?

> ...see Ibn Ezra on Shir hShiriim 2:4 where he interprets Bais HaYayin as
> "Bais HaShem." At first, I thought this meant we go to shul. I think
> another or perhaps more primary meaning may be that this reference to
> the Bais haMikdash refers to hatavas hanairos which took place . . .

My search actually brought up the IE's pshat on Beis Hayayin as Beis Hamikdosh.

The rest of your pshat is excellent - I have printed it out to show other
interested parties, but I think there is still room for more work on it
(plus on the extra verse - which RMP posted (and is included in the
Slonim edition as well.)

> Yehi ratzon she-zchus Rabbeinu ya'amod lanu le-yeshu-os u-refuos lanu
> u'lechol Yisrael.



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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 04:16:00 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
taleissim and atifas Yishmoelim (2)

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> Not "tallaisim", "tallisos" or "talliyos"!

From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
> Would the fact that most of Klall Yisroel (well, at least those from
> Eastern/Central European background - say 'Taleisim' PROVE that until
> recently our ancestors didn't care too much about perfect dikduk (at
> least in speech).

After writing this, I did a seach on my new Bar Ilan and found that the
Mishnah Berurah/Biur Halocho, KSA, Chasam Sofer and many others, often
use the word "taleisim" - but lav davka always - they also use "talisos".

But it seems that the Rishonim almost exclusively used "talisos".

Al ken nireh - that indeed the influence of Yiddish - went all the way
thru to the Gedolei Yisroel - who incorporated it in their sforim.

(Does that make "taleisim" an 'al titosh toras imecho'?)

MSB:     it means they spoke Yiddish. Similarly "Shabbosim".

I'll have to do a search on that a well...

> I also recall seeing in one of the sforim of the Munkatcher Rov z'l
> (I'll try to search it) that the method that most people do for atifah -
> ie covering their eyes is totally wrong - after all the Yishmoelim
> want to see where they are going..

For a very interesting 'essay' on this you should look up the Nimukei
Orach Chaim from the MR, which has about 2 pages on it.

I have been told (but haven't yet seen) that he also has a tshuvo on
this in ME.

A Local Munkatcher chosid told me that there is a letter from Rav Meir
Shapiro z'l to the Munkacher Rov thanking him for being mevarer this
matter - which obviously had bothered him as well.


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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 09:47:18 -0500
From: "Wolpoe, Richard" <richard_wolpoe@ibi.com>
RE: Chanukah--Al haNisim

Seth Mandel <sethm37@hotmail.com> [WRT asking for nissim in Al haNissim]:
> Rambam:"ul'amm'kha Yisra'el 'asita pele v'nissim; k'shem she'asita
> 'immahem nissim ug'vurot, kakh 'ase 'immanu nissim ug'vurot ba'et
> uva'ona hazzot."
>         The Tur (O.H. 682) brings both opinions mentioned in Tosfot,
> and says that his father the Rosh skipped it. The SA (682:4), true to
> his principle of paskening like the triumvirate of poskim, says you
> don't say it (because the Rosh was the only one to address the issue
> specifically and he said not to say it).

Question: Since the Rambam included it in his nusach therefore is he
not in fact contradicting the Rosh who skipped it?

Therefore how can this be a function of the triumvirate principle since
the Rosh and the Rambam are in conflict - and afaik the Rif is mum?

And is it not a bit of a stretch to say that the Rambam did not adress
this directly - after all he put it into his text?

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001 12:06:42 -0800
From: "Michael Frankel" <mechyfrankel@zdnetonebox.com>
Ba'alas Nefesh (Pax R. Acha, What of the Kalloh?)

In the various discussions of R. Acha's actions re carrying the kalloh and
his unique? ability to avoid hirhur and thus the difference between him
and others - necessarily lesser - who may not emulate his actions etc. I
find something missing - though perhaps I've just missed it somewhere.

And that relates to the rationale for heteirim which one ought to
invoke to explain the kalloh's actions. After all, it takes two to
participate in R. Acha's display and as, ordinarily one would assume
that R. Acha's actions would involve some issur or other (absent his
special-not-to-be-duplicated-in-others "excuse"), so too one would
assume that the kalloh's participation ought involve a violation of an
independent issur of her own. but this is not discussed in the moqore
where r. acha is called on to explain only his own actions. so, how may
one understand the participation of the kallohs, as well as the apparent
lifnei ie'veir vector to R. Acha's actions?

Mechy Frankel				W: (703) 588-7424
Mechyfrankel@zdnetonebox.com		H:  (301) 593-3949

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 15:06:56 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Twelve (hope I'm not too late)

On Tue, Jan 02, 2001 at 12:22:17PM -0800, Michael Frankel wrote:
:                                                                  So it
: seems to be a rather common arrangement, which if one assumes a common
: cultural thread at work (a notion which internally directed/ yisroel
: betach bodod/ traditional types might well reject), then one might seek
: a common impetus. That impetus, one can suggest , is none other than the
: calendar. All these societies inherited the mesopotamian calendar of 12
: months. Also, all these amphyctionic societies were organized around
: a central sacred shrine with a rotating caretaking...

The biggest flaw I see is that many of these societies, including ours,
did NOT have a 12 month year. 37% of all years are me'ubaros, more than
1/3 of the time a 12 community rotation would not have worked.

The second, smaller, issue is that when the switch was made from bechor
to kohein, the rotation was set up to be by week, not by month. One would
have to prove that HKBH intended bechoros to rotate differently.

Actually, the 12 month year doesn't require a common mesorah -- 63%
of all years have 12 lunations in them. Or, if therwe was a common
mesorah, it could have been from Noach, and therefore expressed amongst
many of b'nei Sheim. Much like the week -- for which there is little
scientific basis, and yet is ubiquitous across the globe.

This would also provide a reason why the imahos knew there would be 12
sons. Because the notion of dividing the nation into a monthly rotation
was yadu'ah even without nevu'ah.


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 17:45:02 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: hair covering as a das yehudis or a das moshe

On Tue, 2 Jan 2001, Harry Maryles wrote:
> Because it is listed as a Daas Yehudis. To quote SA 115:4... 

> "What is considered a Daas Yehudis?... that which is the Minhag Tznius
> and is the custum of the daughters of Israel and if she transgresses one
> of them she is liable on the transgresion of Daas Yehudis (eg)...

Perhaps you did not understand me:

Where in SA EH 21 does it say this is relativistic.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 18:58:35 -0500
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
RE: Sei'ar beIshah

From: Chana/Heather Luntz [mailto:Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk]
> Sorry, I think I misunderstood what you were saying.  I understood you
> to be saying that because the term used in the Yerushalmi could be
> translated as wig, one should therefore translate the 
> equivalent word in the Bavli (ie "kalsa") as the word for wig.

> What you now appear to be saying is that the Bavli and Yerushalmi are
> saying different things, the Yerushalmi referring to wigs and 
> the Bavli referring to kalsa (basket? small hat?).

> In which case, aren't what you saying is that the Bavli and Yerushalmi
> contradict? 

No, I do not believe that they are contradictory.  As a rule, we try not to
make a machlokes Bavli-Yerushalmi if we can help it.  Here, it is reasonable
to suggest that they agree that any minimal covering suffices to avoid
violation of das Moshe.  The Bavli and Yerushalmi give alternative examples,
which are not mutually exclusive.  I saw R. O. Yosef inside two-three years
ago; I assume that this is his reasoning.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 09:01:26 +0200
From: "S. Goldstein" <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
Das Yehudis and SA

Reb Harry Maryles writes
: To quote SA 115:4... "What is considered a Daas Yehudis?... if she
: goes out to an open alleyway or courtyard where it is a public area and
: her head is uncovered and there is no hat on her as is the manner of
: all women and even if there is a scarf..."

In fact, SA writes "even though there is a scarf".  "Even though" is always
true.  "Even if" means it can be true or false.

Shlomo Goldstein

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Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001 08:30:28 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
First Bona Fide Enviromentalist Gemoro I Ever Met!

Check out the machlokes Rabbonon and R' Yosi in the Yerushalmi Bava
Basra 2:11!

ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 17:50:17 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Topical Daf Yomi

On Wed, 3 Jan 2001 Joelirich@aol.com wrote:
> Boel aramit kanaaim pogin bo? Was there some similar aveira taking place?

Before Mattan Torah, as the Nefesh ha'Chaim espouses, Aveirah Lishmah was
permissible. See the Bigdei Shesh on the topic re after MT.

Chushim's act need not be justified by Halacha.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 23:34:42 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Topical Daf Yomi, Baal nefesh

At 12:11 AM 1/4/01 -0500, Gershon Dubin wrote:
>> Chushim's act need not be justified by Halacha.

>         Can we theorize a merida bemalchus,  either against Yaakov Avinu 
> or againstYosef?

Perhaps. Makes sense. But I think more in terms of Chillul Hashem and 
Kiddush Hashem. Chushim thought to be mekkadesh Shem Shomayim. Not a 
sufficient hetter after MT, but enough beforehand.

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Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001 09:50:22 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Aveira Lishma, was re: Topical Daf Yomi

At 10:40 AM 1/4/01 -0500, Gershon Dubin wrote:
>>> So why do the mfarshim go to great lengths to justify Shimon and  Levi
>>> vs. Schem?

>> For the lishma.

> How about the relative innocence of the anshei Shchem (nobody seem to feel
> the need to justify their killing Shchem himself) vs. that of Esav, a
> known rodef?

Hee gufa!

The justification al pi din to kill Anshei Shechem is weak. Aveira Lishma 
may legitimately cover that: "Ha'k'zona etc." is a Chillul Hashem/Kiddush 
Hashem justification, not ann Halachic one,

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 11:01:50 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Re: Aveira Lishma, was re: Topical Daf Yomi

On Thu, 04 Jan 2001 09:50:22 -0600 "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer":
> Aveira Lishma may legitimately cover that: "Ha'k'zona etc." is a Chillul 
> Hashem/Kiddush Hashem justification, not an Halachic one

	I am not clear on why Chillul Hashem/Kiddush Hashem is not
halachic justification,  but aveira lishma.


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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 18:54:08 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
Re: Aveira Lishma, was re: Topical Daf Yomi

On 4 Jan 2001, at 9:50, Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M wrote:
> The justification al pi din to kill Anshei Shechem is weak. Aveira Lishma 
> may legitimately cover that: "Ha'k'zona etc." is a Chillul Hashem/Kiddush 
> Hashem justification, not ann Halachic one,

In one of his sichot on that parsha, Rav Nebenzahl argues that Ha'k'zona 
proves that their motivations were NOT pure - that they didn't kill the Anshei 
Shchem l'Sheim Shamayim, but rather to avenge Dena's honor. He argues 
that's one of the reasons Yaakov was so angry with them.

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 16:49:29 -0600
From: owner-avodah@aishdas.org

> From domo@aishdas.org  Thu Jan  4 00:26:27 2001
Message-ID: <023d01c075aa$391bfec0$861811cb@f9p3o6>
From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
To: Avodah - High Level Torah Discussion Group <avodah@aishdas.org>
Subject: mistaken, but he is not a Kofer
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 04:21:48 +1100
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RRW wrote
> 2) Anyone who says there was a Hanukkah as described by Al
> Hanissim but the miracle of the oil never really happened, might be
> mistaken, but he is not a Kofer.

BTW see the Ramban al Hatorah at the beginning of Behalos'cho, where
(thru Midroshim) he connects it to the Neros Chanukah.


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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 15:28:09 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Dor Revi'i and TSBP

Me, based on seifer haMitzvos:
:> I- Di'Oraisa
:>     1- Those that come from the pasuk
:>     2- Halachah liMosheh miSinai
:>     3- Conclusions reached from 1, 2, and earlier halachos of this category
:>        via derashah and sevarah.
:> II- Di'Rabbanan
:>     4- Siyag
:>     5- Dinim Dirabanan

On Wed, Jan 03, 2001 at 10:12:57AM -0500, David Glasner wrote:
:                                                     A further quibble
: is that the dividing line between I.3 and II is not so clear because
: I.3 seems to refer to divrei sofrim which can have either d'oraita or
: d'rabbanan status.

The Rambam just doesn't mention divrei soferim in his discussion. Perhaps
because the concept is orthoganal to the concept he was using to make
this particular taxonomy.

He wasn't speaking about whether something is treated like midi'Oraisa
or midiRabbanan, but whether or not something can be subject to debate,
later legislation, etc...

:> To explain the Rambam, he holds that halachos that come from pisukim
:> (1) or are hlMmS (2) are immune from machlokes. There is no Rabbinic
:> input. So, when he addresses the authority of a beis din, as in Hil
:> Mamrim perek 2, he can only be talking about 3 - 6.

: I agree that he is only talking about 3 - 6, which to me seems to include
: most of our everyday halakhic practice.  But, the boundary between 1-2 and 3
: is far from clear.

1 and 2 are dinim gotten from mesorah; 3 are things known to be from
derashah or sevarah. When in doubt whether a derashah or a sevara
is the origin of a din or a post-facto explanation/mnemonic, safeik
di'Oraisa. How is there a problem?

In either case, the Rambam is spelling out the halachah, not the mess of
how to apply that halachah to reality. IOW, first you need to spell out
how/if one can change the din in each of the pristine categories before
dealing with a real-world problem.

:> Li nir'eh that 2:1 can only refer to derashos, possibly the entire
:> category 3, sevara as well. The words "shedarshu bi'achas min hamidos"
:> is pretty clear...

: Actually, come to think of it, s'vara is on the same level as category 1.
: "kra mai ba'i? s'vara hu."

This is a great question on the Rambam. Mai ba'i? Simple -- so that no
later Sanhedrin can come up with another sevra and change the halachah.
IOW, to move it from (3) to (1).

But by saying "is on the same level" and not "why isn't it", you are
changing the subject. You're now looking at the inyan given your own
sevarah, and no longer exploring the Rambam's shitah.

: Sanhedrin were to conclude that spontaneous generation does not occur, 
: that it could not change the halakhah p'sukah (whether l'heter or l'issur is
: irrelevant) concerning killing a louse on Shabbat.

I am not sure the Rambam would agree, unless he considers this to be a
din diRabbanan, not a sevarah in a di'Oraisa.

On Wed, Jan 03, 2001 at 05:17:02PM -0500, Gil.Student@citicorp.com wrote:
: I think the disagreement regards what Mamrim 2:1 allows to be changed
: by a later Sanhedrin. I am saying that it only applies to NEW halachos
: derived through the 13 midos. You are saying that it applies to any
: decision of a Sanhedrin.

If every decision of the Sanhedrin is subject to 2:1, when are 2:2 and 2:3


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 15:39:07 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Halachic eras (was Re: mishnah)

On Wed, Jan 03, 2001 at 05:26:53PM -0500, Gil.Student@citicorp.com wrote:
:          Interestingly, using "frum" chronology (which has been debated here),
: the 2000 years of Torah ended a little after Rebbi's time.  That, according to
: RHS in the name of the CI, is why amoraim cannot disagree with tannaim.

What's odd about this answer is that it makes the line between tana'im and
amora'im different in kind than that between amora'im and rishonim.

Something else I noted here in Avodah's early days adds weight to the
Maharitz Chayos's shitah, that it's books that define eras. Note that
savora'im have no qualms against being choleik with amora'im, rishonim
argue with ge'onim, and acharonim after the Bach and Taz argue with
earlier achronim. The collapse of a culture and it's mesorah, it's
higher level of avodah, yir'ah and limud Torah, doesn't always herald
a new halachic era. (It's too early to say what will happen to halachic
authority because of WWII.)

Borrowing from another thread, according to the MC, the power of a seifer
is because it has Sanhedrin-like qualities. In which case, would hilchos
Mamrim 2:1-3 apply? Would you need a (presumably post-moshiach) Sanhedrin
greater in chochmah and having more than the minyan on the page of the
Shulchan Aruch in order for halachah to no longer be determined by the
S"A and its nosei keilim?


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 23:31:26 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Some Thoughts on Limud Zechut

I find several points in RMJB's thoughts noteworthy (meaning, I noted them, 
and warning flags started waving in my head). I need some clarifications here:

At 04:03 PM 1/3/01 -0500, Michael J Broyde wrote:
>Let me start by noting the obvious. The vast overwhelming majority of
>contemporary poskim who address the issue of hair covering rule the
>obligation to cover to be a torah violation...
>                              Either one has to have an exceptionally
>clear minhag ha-Avos or be pretty foolish to defy the consensus.


But if one had a "minhag avos"?

If the vast, overwhelming, consensus of poskim stands in direct 
contradiction to that "minhag avos", is it not high time to dismiss that 
minhag as minhag ta'us?

>A limud zichus is a plausible path not taken by the poskim....
>                              When someone notes that this particular
>practice can be defended if one heads down the path not taken by the
>poskim (or by a minority of poskim), and no one can prove this path
>wrong -- i.e., inconsistent with the sources -- that is a limud zechut....

Who determines "plausibility"? By what criteria is plausibility determined?

>In my view of the halacha as a system, people who are interested in
>the halachic system not only put forward ideas, but are continuously
>asked to rate their ideas....
>'Pilpul' as a term was used to identify an idea that the person putting
>the idea forward uses to note that this idea has no halacha lemase value,
>and it is merely a concept...

>In the context of hair covering, there is quite a bit of pilpul where
>commentators advance rationales for the prohibition of married women
>not covering their hair which indicate that married woman need not
>cover their hair if religious women generally do not. By categorizing
>the prohibition to uncover in the manner they do, these poskim seem to
>indicate that the prohibition is time (or place) bound....

I am pretty much bewildered here!

Your previous paragraph denigrated some "pilpulistic" process (that I
am not sure I fathom - does "pilpul" in your lexicon equal what we call
"lomdus" - it sounds like it does not, but then...)

...Your immediately preceding paragraph seems a degradation of those
Poskim who make that time-honored distinction between penuyos and nesu'os:
Is this your intent? Likewise in the next paragraph:

>Yet other pilpulistic analysis focus on the linguistic ambiguity in the
>hebrew word "per'iah" which is the word used in Numbers 5:18, the verse
>that is the basis for the prohibition. These authorities ponder whether
>a torah prohibition is violated when women go uncovered, and appear
>to limit the torah prohibition to disheveled...

>Other ideas are plausible, and can be defended, and are put forward to
>explain why people engage in the conduct that they do, but not with
>the direction that any one should adopt the lower standard -- but
>merely to note that the lower standard has halachic basis. Consider a
>different women's issue. Magen Avraham (OC 106:2) when he puts forward
>his tentative understanding of why woman maybe do not have to pray the
>standard full prayer on a daily basis, he is not advocating that women
>stop their daily prayers, but he is explaining why women not saying the
>full prayers daily is a plausible result...

Hmmm... (note additional "m")

Do I understand accurately that you rate your limud zechus here 
(self-rated?) with that of the MA - with, it would seem, the expectation of 
similar proportions of practice to "pilpul"?

>Consider the words of the Ben Ish Chai...
>         the women of Europe have commenced . . . to uncover their faces,
>         neck, hands and heads [hair]. It is true, they uncover their hair
>         -- according to our law it is prohibited -- but yet they have
>         a justification, because they say that the tradition has become
>         accepted, both among the Jews and other nations where they live...

>This type of limud zechut is not the same as a das yachid, which is
>the view of a single (or small group) of poskim. In my view, minority
>opinions (particularly of achronim) are only really of value when they
>are counter to ones inclination, but yet not provable wrong. Let me give
>you an example of that from Iggrot Moshe...                           in
>a particular be'deeved situation, that one can rely on the view of Rav
>Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, even though in Rabbi Feinstein's opinion "it is
>not logical at all." But yet, because Rabbi Feinstein could not disprove
>this idea, he could not dismiss it....

Actually, that is not at all the case there. As you note, such reasoning 
would be totally out of character for RMF, and he does not engage in it 
there either. Rather, there he was discussing how to do something that was 
muttar under the circumstances in the manner least halachically 
objectionable, and he said that although he personally did not think that 
RCO's chiddush that a certain method was less objectionable was correct, it 
certainly was worthwhile to be *machmir* (*not* meikel) to do this 
procedure in the way RCO's suggested. V'ha'me'ayain yavin.

Nothing to do with LZ.

>posek merely is relying on the first one bede'eved. In the context of hair
>covering, the most eminent example of a das yachid Rabbi Yehoshua Babad
>(the father of Rabbi Joseph Babad, the author of the Minchat Chinuch), in
>Responsa Sefer Yehoshua, #89.  He states:
>         If the tradition had been that married women went with their
>         hair uncovered and single women with their hair covered,
>         then it would be prohibited for single women to go uncovered,
>         and married women could walk around uncovered . . . . All is
>         dependent on the tradition (minhag) of the women.

Why is this relevant?

>Similar such sentiments are taken by Rabbi Yosef Masas in Mayim Chaim
>2:110 (and Otzar Michtavim #1884), and by Rabbi Moshe Malka (Vehashiv
>moshe 34). This rationale appears to have been accepted, at least in
>theory, by the Machatzitz Hashekel (commenting on Even Haezer 21:5)
>when he states that the reason single women do not cover their hair
>is because the standards of observant women in society determine the
>permissibility of uncovering. He states this is so even according to
>those authorities who consider it a biblical obligation for single women
>to uncover their hair.

What? 1. Where is the MH? 2. What does that last sentence mean?

>Allow me to conclude with an observation. I was once participating
>in an email discussion about cheating on income taxes in Israel (I was
>against it), and one of the corespondents was quoting rationale after
>rationale and verbal conversation after verbal conversation with 'poskim'
>who permit this (he claimed). I observed that I can find more published
>teshuvot permitting married women not to cover their hair than I can find
>written teshuvot permitting cheating on Israeli income tax according to
>Jewish law! To my surprise, this statement deeply bothered people --
>even as I think it a true statement about the published literature --
>certain people view the obligation of married women to cover their
>hair as a crucial social component of orthodoxy, to which no breaches
>in the wall shall be tolerated. That approach is inconsistent with my
>understanding of how halacha ought to function.

Can you please explain this interesting "balance beam" to me? Is this not 
the classic case of "two wrongs do not make a right"? You seem to be saying 
"well, better to be machmir on taxes than on hair": Firstly, mei'heichei 
tesei, but, far more importantly, how do you come to set up this artificial 
see-saw - one must be machmir on both!

>In sum, even as I think that there is quite a bit of basis to that
>which I wrote in my previous posts and in the longer Hebrew article,
>it is just a limud zechut, and I would never put it as more than that.

Ah, but we are still little better educated as to what you hold a LZ is and 
how far it goes...

ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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