Avodah Mailing List

Volume 06 : Number 099

Tuesday, January 9 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:17:36 -0500
From: "Wolpoe, Richard" <richard_wolpoe@ibi.com>
RE: heicha kedusha

D. and E-H. Bannett
> Chana Luntz and previous postings for and against heicha kedusha, IIRC,
> all ignore the Rambam and his son R' Avraham who recommended abolishing
> the chazarat hashatz and had at least partial success...

AIUI, the Rambam was concerned with people talking and not paing attention
to CH.

And IIRC the Arizal made a special avodah of intently listening to CH as
a separate form of Tefilah iva listening instead of via slient recitation.

If so the two schools have one thing in common, either pay attetion to
CH properly or dispense with it.

I suppose that on Shabbas and Yom Tov, CH was spruced up by cantoral
pieces and/or congregational singing in order to keep the tzibbur focused.

The German Minhag has many repsonsive pieces on Yomim Noraim, I think
with the intention of keeping the tzibbur focused and involved.

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:30:45 -0500
From: Gil.Student@citicorp.com
Re: heicha kedusha

David wrote:
> Chana Luntz and previous postings for and against heicha kedusha, IIRC, all 
> ignore the Rambam and his son R' Avraham who recommended abolishing the 
> chazarat hashatz and had at least partial success. Although later posekim 
> reversed their decision, to this day many Sephardic shuls on Shabbat Mussaf 
> have heicha kedusha and no silent shmoneh esrei.

Fascinating.  Do you have a source for that?

I always thought that the only meaning left for chazaras hashatz was based on 
the Rambam's concept of tefillas HAtzibbur.

Gil Student

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 17:43:06 EST
From: YFel912928@aol.com
Learning out loud

What's common-practise/halach-l'maaseh regarding learning out loud?

Shulchan Orach HaRav disallows it, and accounts it of no avail unless
one is delving into something in his mind. I've heard that RYBS held
that the inyun of learning out loud was an eitzah tovah b'almah, as an
aid to retention.

But what if the individual truly learns better in silence, and is able
to retain that way better, too?

-- Yaakov Feldman

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:02:26 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Har Habayis

From: Joelirich@aol.com
> would those that hold no Jewish entry onto har habayit at this time
> also hold that we should forbid non-Jews from Har Habayit(based on
> "black letter" halachik reasons)?

Barring entry might be an issue of shemiras Mikdash,  which I know
little about.
However, sovereignty is an issur of lo sechanem,  is it not?


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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:57:16 -0500
From: "Wolpoe, Richard" <richard_wolpoe@ibi.com>
RE: Women Davening

From:  Gil Student
> The way I see it, Rishonim have the right to create new interpretations
> of gemaras that acharonim can not do. The Gra, with all of his halachic
> innovation, was always paskening like an opinion of some rishon.

AIUI this is because Rishonim had Mesoros for either:
A) Understanding the Gmoro a certain way
B) Perhaps ruling against that Gmoro

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:26:16 -0500
From: Gil.Student@citicorp.com
Re: Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 388:7

Keeping in mind that R. Yechiel Michel Epstein lived in Czarist Russia
and that, among many other things, his brother-in-law's yeshivah was
closed down by Russian authorities, there are a number of indications
that the Aruch HaShulchan was self-edited. Here are three that I noticed,
without doing any methodological study.

1. The Aruch HaShulchan's general introduction to Choshen Mishpat is so
laudatory to the Czar that it seems clear that it was written out of fear.

2. Hilchos Avodah Zarah is skipped.

3. In Orach Chaim 156 the AH writes that it is forbidden to have a
partnership with an Arab. The halachah is really regarding an idolater.
I would suspect that the AH meant Christian but wrote Arab as a code word.

Gil Student

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:42:41 -0500
From: "Wolpoe, Richard" <richard_wolpoe@ibi.com>
RE: Ibn Ezra and Shabbat

From: Isaac A Zlochower
> Amihai alluded to Avraham Ibn Ezra's polemic against those who allegedly
> defamed the shabbat by insisting that the biblical day started in the
> morning and ended the next morning.  He further gave a reference to a
> Rashbam in the beginning of Bereishit.  <snip>

Is it possible that the Ibn Ezra's polemic was against the Kara'im?

Rich Wolpoe 

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Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 00:16:14 +0200
From: "Amihai & Tamara Bannett" <atban@inter.net.il>

Rich Wolpoe
> Seth said: uvash'vi'i ratzita BO. In those cases, the antecedent is yom,
> Hagoho: I say the antecedent here is shvi'i.

As my Sabba could testify there is a more accurate nosach: Ve'Hasevi'i
ratzita bo.

Amihai Bannett.

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 15:29:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@emory.edu>
Conditional conversions

A poster asked about conditional conversions, a topic I had written about.
Thus, I share:

A Conditional Conversion?
Michael Broyde*

Recently it has become apparent that there are some Israeli Rabbinical
authorities who have in the past been inserting clauses into certificate
of conversion limiting the validity of the conversion to the physical
land of Israel. This practice raises a number of interesting problems.
This article will address two of them:

(1) Can a beit din impose conditions on a conversion; and

(2) What is the status of a convert when there is an unfulfilled implicit
or explicit conditions of conversion

I. Conditions to Changes in Status Generally

Jewish law allows one to impose conditions on many different types
of transactions. For example, one can impose conditions on financial
interactions or ritual actions. So too, one may typically impose both
prospective and retrospective conditions on a marriage or divorce.
For example, Shulhan Arukh Even Haezer 38 (which is entitled "Rules
Relating to Marriage on Condition") states that "One who marries on
condition, if the condition is fulfilled the couple is married; if the
condition is not fulfilled, the couple is not married." Indeed, Even
Haezer lists a number of types of conditional statements that one might
use in a marriage, such as a condition on the agreement of a parent or
the payment in the future of a certain amount of money.

Shulhan Arukh Even Haezer 39 discusses the application of conditional
marriages where the condition relates to the couple's present
understanding of the relationship, such as one to marries a woman on
condition that she have no current restrictive vows. These conditions,
too, are permissible.

Just like one can enter a conditional marriage, so too one can issue
a conditional divorce. Even Haezer 143:1 states that "one may divorce
on condition; if the condition is fulfilled the couple is divorce.
If the condition is not fulfilled the couple is not divorced." A woman
who is conditionally divorced, and the condition is not fulfilled may,
upon the death of her current husband marry a Kohen, since see does not
have the status of a divorcee.

On the other hand, Shulhan Arukh 169:50 (and other places), based on
talmudic statements found in Ketuvot 74a and Yevamot 106a, states that one
may not do impose conditions on a Chalitza ceremony. Tosaphot (Ketuvot 74a
"tenai") explains that the reason chalitza is different from marriage
and divorce is that it cannot be done through an agent and anything
which cannot be done with an agent cannot be done with a condition. It
that rule is correct, conversions cannot be done conditionally, as they
cannot be done through an agent.

Rabbi Moses Feinstein, in the only discussion this author has found
explicitly discussing conversion on condition, states that Tosaphot's
rule (perhaps as explained by Nachmanides, Bava Batra 126 in the name of
others) is limited to a case where it is physically possible to do the
act with an agent but Jewish law prevents one, as a matter of law, from
so doing; however, in a case where it is merely physically impossible
to do the act through an agent, he states that Tosaphot would allow the
imposing of conditions. Thus, conversions which cannot be done with an
agent as a matter of fact since the convert must themselves be in the
ritual bath, could be done conditionally.

On the other hand, Rabbi Feinstein notes that it is possible to argue
that one may not impose a condition on conversion, since Nachmanides
(commenting on Bava Batra 126) seems to reject Tosaphot's understanding
that links the ability to impose a condition to the ability to do the act
with an agent. Nachmanides instead distinguishes between conditions that
affect only the person and conditions that effect others. Conditions that
effect others (such as conversion) would be limited to cases that mimic
the conditional response of the tribes of Reuben and Gad (see Numbers
32:20-42) whereas purely private conditions (such as a persons decision
to be a nazir) could be done in much broader circumstances.

While Rabbi Feinstein does not assert a final opinion on this matter, the
flow and weight of his responsa inclines one to believe that he thought a
conditional conversion was possible and that once there is a condition,
a convert who does not heed the conversion would have the conversion
voided. Nonetheless, to the extent that one can derive evidence from
historical silence or absence it is clear that the practice is not to
do conditional conversions, at least partially out of the legal opinion
that such conversions are unacceptable.

II. Unfulfilled Implicit or Explicit Conditions of Conversion

Like the case of conditional conversion, the case of conversion by mistake
is not discussed in the Codes or responsa; however, there is one case
discussed in the Talmud of a conversion predicated on a mistake of fact.
The Talmud (Yevamot 45b) recounts that a Gentile slave of Rabbi Cheah bar
Ami had sought to marry a particular non-Jewish woman. Realizing that as
a Gentile slave he could not marry a Gentile woman, the slave arranged
for this woman whom he wished to marry to convert to Judaism. After
the conversion, the slave was informed that just like he cannot marry a
Gentile, he cannot marry a converted Jewess. The Talmud then recounts
a number of different ways to solve this person's dilemma. However,
the simplest solution is left out: why not posit that the conversion
was based on a mistake of fact -- the mistaken belief that after the
conversion the couple could marry -- and thus void the conversion. Thus,
it can reasonably be derived from the Talmud's silence that a conversion
once validly done, even if predicated on a mistake of fact and even if
the mistake of fact was part of the conversion itself, is nonetheless
valid and the convert is a Jew.

On the other hand, one could assert disagree with the force of this
analogy and limit the Talmudic case to a conversion based on an implicit
condition that is not fulfilled. According to this analysis, the Talmudic
case only demonstrates that when a condition is not voiced, it is not
a factor. Indeed, that is in harmony with the general rules Jewish law
uses for all conditions. Essentially, the rules governing conditional
financial transactions are as follows:

1] One may impose conditions on any financial transaction.

2] If one imposes a condition, and if the condition is not fulfilled,
the transaction is voided.

3] One can implicitly impose a condition by announcing that one's actions
are predicated on a future event and that is a valid condition, even if
a condition is not explicitly stated as a condition. (For example, if
one announces at the time of the sale of one's house that one is selling
the house to move to Israel, should it be factually impossible to move
to Israel for whatever reason at the time of the sale, the sale is void.)

4] However, one who does not announce the factual predicate for one's
actions at the time of sale, no matter how apparent they are to others,
cannot seek to void the sale when the unvoiced condition is not fulfilled,
as conditions voiced solely in the heart are not legally significant.

If one were to accept these rules as the proper one to use in the
conversion case, one would conclude that if the condition to the
conversion were imposed at the time of immersion and were vocalized as
a clear expectation of the convert (either by the convert or the beit
din) the breaching of the condition would void the conversion. On the
other hand, a condition which is not announced, even if it is implicit
in process and widely known to those who participated in the conversion
would be of no effect and the breaching of the implicit condition would
not retroactively annul the conversion.

This author is aware of only one response that even touches on this issue.
Rabbi Feinstein in Iggrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:124 raises these issues
without resolving them except to indicate that in a circumstance where
the condition was not stated, and the person is completely observant,
even if the conversion was for the sake of marriage and the marriage
did not occur, the person is Jewish.

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 18:50:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@emory.edu>
Re: Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 388:7

I did not think that the first two  of these were persuasive.

> 1. The Aruch HaShulchan's general introduction to Choshen Mishpat is so 
> laudatory to the Czar that it seems clear that it was written out of fear.

Agreed, but it is clearly set aside so that no one would think it to be
real halacha.  The same is true for his many italics notes dealing with
dina demalchuta.  This is an in the text comment.

> 2. Hilchos Avodah Zarah is skipped.

So is hilchot Ketubah.  Between us, I would wager that it wrote on it all
and it is lost or waiting to be published.  Nedarim was just published 10
years ago by Simcha Fishbane.

> 3. In Orach Chaim 156 the AH writes that it is forbidden to have a partnership 
> with an Arab.  The halachah is really regarding an idolater.  I would suspect 
> that the AH meant Christian but wrote Arab as a code word.

I agree that this case is a code word, and clearly intended as such.  Is
Choshen Mishpat 388:7 also a code, and if so, for what?

Michael Broyde

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 18:50:14 -0500
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: [heicha Kedusha and] Davening

(Warning: contains hochocho...but it isn't meant personally.)
In Avodah V6 #96, CLuntz responded:
> I have now checked Yoreh Deah (siman 124, si'if 3)...

I don't have YD at the office, but perhaps you meant OC 124:2?

> ...and note that the Rema explicitly provides for heicha kiddusha
> bsha'as hadchak and specifically gives the example of running out of time.
> That, to my mind, takes it out of the category of an action against the
> text and puts it firmly within the category of "black letter halacha".

I know RW can defend his own words, but I think you're misreading them --
by "BLH," he apparently meant the Halachic _norm_, not Halacha in toto,
as no one argues that "sha'as had'chak" is an extra-Halachic concept.
That said, MB 124:6 couldn't be clearer -- a takanas CHaZaL is not Mickey
Mouse stuff.

> What is a sufficient bsha'as hadchak is, of course, a matter of
> judgment...

...or of p'sak. I fear that many pasken for themselves in this area
without considering/understanding all the Halachic criteria; since the
area has previously been discussed on Avodah, let's leave it at that.

> ...but given that Yoreh Deah 110 explicitly deals with the conflict
> when workers have to both daven and work, this is a not unreasonable
> matter to take into account when making that judgement.

How many (the same "many" as above :-)) truly fall into this category? or
do they take their time to be more important than time spent on t'fillo?
Take the situation in my office, a law firm (where Minchah is not
billable time :-)), and you have a point, but is such always the case?
Take the situation as RW posed it some time ago (where there may not be
a minyan unless there is "heicha Kedushah"), and a posaik may make that
judgement, but is such always the case? Shouldn't we have just a bit of
yir'as Shomayim when invoking sha'as had'chak against a takonas CHaZaL?

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 22:07:00 -0500
From: Alan Davidson <perzvi@juno.com>
Tachanun at Mincha

There is also the inyan (a) not just not saying Tachanun but after plag
haMincha;  (b) not to say Tachanun when travelling (which there is a
greater probability of at Mincha than Shacharis);  and (c) only to say
Selichos in the morning -- to the extent that Tachanun in Chassidic
Siddurim add Vidui and the yud-gimmel midos of Rachamim  to Tachanun this
makes Tachanun closer to Selichos than the traditional Tachanun.  I, for
one, do say Tachanun by Mincha 

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Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 02:39:32 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: Mincha without Tachanun

On 9 Jan 01, at 21:45, Daniel Schiffman wrote:
> Does anyone know the source for the minhag of davening mincha without
> tachanun, every day? (My father keeps this minhag, but I do not.)

It's fairly common among certain Chasidim. See Sefer Divrei Torah 
of the Minchas Elazar Mahadura 3, #83.

-- Carl

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

Carl and Adina Sherer

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 19:54:31 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re:Amoraim disagreeing with Tanaim

> CI: His own opinion is that Amoraim decided they were not on the level
> of Tannaim and so undertook not to argue. Similarly after completion
> of Talmud. However, legally they had the right to argue. (REW quotes
> R. Chaim Brisk with a similar opinion).

REW quotes R Chaim Brisker in the beginning of Kesubos to this effect . 

                               Steve Brizel

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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 19:52:43 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: limud zchut

On Sun, Jan 07, 2001 at 12:16:43AM -0500, jjbaker@panix.com wrote:
:       THere's a teshuva haRema (15, I think) about Moravians who drank
: non-kosher wine, which is essentially a limud zchut (it postulates a
: fantasy rationale for the Moravians) so that we don't have to say 
: that they're completely untrustworthy....

I don't see that as similar in kind. In the other cases, we tried to
find some way of saying that what they're doing isn't so terrible --
as chata'im go. In the case of Moravian wine, the Rama's goal isn't
to minimize the issur originally discussed. Rather, he is looking at a
second question: does this violation make their wine stam yeinam.


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Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 20:07:27 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah Or What?

My old signature file contained the line "For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the
Torah its light", which assumes there is an implied "it's in "viTorah or".

Joel Rich asked about it back in Oct '99 and Jon Baker and I kicked it
about in v4n79, n80.

Here's something from this week's Ohrnet on the pasuk, in their column
of vertlack on Daf-Yomi. The makor is Sotah 21a and the Maharsha (sham):

> "For the mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light." (Mishlei 6:23) This is
> comparable, says the gemara, to the situation of a man walking along a
> lonely road in total darkness. He is afraid of the thorns which may cut
> him, the sword-like growths which may stab him and the pits into which
> he is likely to fall. In addition he is in fear of the wild beasts and
> bandits which lurk in the darkness and he is not certain that he is
> walking in the right direction.

> He comes upon a torch to light his way and is now able to avoid thorns,
> sword-like growths and pits. But he is still in fear of beasts and
> bandits and uncertain of his direction. When the light of dawn appears
> he is safe from the beasts and bandits who slink back to their lairs
> but he is still uncertain of where he is heading. Only when he reaches
> a familiar crossroads is he finally free from all the dangers which have
> threatened him.

> Maharsha explains this parable in the following fashion: Life in this
> world is compared to a journey through darkness. Man is composed of
> body and soul. The body performs the mitzvot, while the soul, which
> encompasses man's intelligence, is occupied with the intellectual
> activity of Torah study. In man's physical existence there are three
> major obstacles to security and perfection. Thorns symbolize man's
> struggle against hunger as we find in the penalty of human labor meted
> out to Adam. "Thorn and thistle will it [the earth] sprout for you"
> (Bereishet 3:18). The sword-like growth represents the sword of the
> enemy and the pits symbolize the sudden death of sickness and accident.

Sorry for interrupting, but note that "ki neir Hashem nishmas adam"
associates neir with the neshamah, not the guf (or its actions). To

> Performing mitzvot with our physical powers is similar to the torch and
> the merit of these physical actions achieves for us physical security.

> But man is also threatened in regard to his spiritual security. The evil
> inclination in man is like the beast within while the evil influence
> of bad company is like the bandit outside. These spiritual dangers can
> only be countered by the spiritual- intellectual force of Torah study
> which is like the light of day.

> What do the crossroads, which bring final security, represent? A number
> of definitions are offered by the Sages. Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak states
> that this means a Torah scholar with fear of sin. Rashi explains that
> if one has achieved the self-discipline of fearing sin after achieving
> Torah knowledge, he is safe from all dangers, for Torah educates him in
> regard to his responsibilities and what is right and wrong while self
> discipline restrains him from following his passions. This is called
> finally knowing that one is heading in the right direction.


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: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 19:15:56 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Fwd: RAV 04: The Community Part 2

As per our conversation, I am passing on another section of this wonderful 
                                 Steve Brizel

by Rav Ronnie Ziegler

LECTURE #4: The Community
Part 2 of 2


After depicting several poignant examples of the inescapable reality
of loneliness even within the closest human relationships (the sick
spouse; the alienation of the young mother overwhelmed in the middle of
the night by a crying child and a sleeping husband), the Rav explains
the necessity of creating man as both a solitary and a social being.
There are two reasons why lonely man had to be created:

    "1. The originality and creativity in man are rooted in his
    loneliness-experience, not in his social awareness ... Social man
    is superficial: he imitates, he emulates. Lonely man is profound:
    he creates, he is original.

    "2. Lonely man is free; social man is bound by many rules and
    ordinances. God willed man to be free. Man is required, from time
    to time, to defy the world ... Only lonely man is capable of casting
    off the harness of bondage to society... The 'levado'- awareness (the
    awareness of standing alone) is the root of heroic defiance. Heroism
    is the central category in practical Judaism. The Torah wanted the Jew
    to live heroically, to rebuke, reproach, condemn, whenever society is
    wrong and unfair. The 'levado' gives the Jew the heroic arrogance
    which makes it possible for him to be different... Lonely man is a
    courageous man; he is a protester; he fears nobody; whereas social
    man is a compromiser, a peacemaker, and at times a coward. At first
    man had to be created 'levado,' alone; for otherwise he would have
    lacked the courage or the heroic quality to stand up and to protest,
    to act like Abraham, who took the axe and shattered the idols which
    his own father had manufactured." (pp. 13-14)

However, God also willed that man become a social being. Why?

    "Man is not only a protester; he is an affirmer too. He is not only
    an iconoclast, but a builder, as well. If man always felt remote
    from everybody and everything, then the very purpose of creation
    could not be achieved." (p. 14)

To the Rav, Moshe Rabbeinu is the epitome of one who combined both
aspects of human identity. On the one hand, he was "the greatest loner,
who pitched his tent 'far outside the camp.'" On the other hand, he was
"the great leader, father and teacher to whom the community clung."

This example is problematic. Moshe lived alone outside the camp,
separated himself from his wife, and covered his face with a veil! He was
INVOLVED with the community as their leader, but was he really PART of the
community? On the other hand, recall that he was the "faithful shepherd"
who identified with the community to such an extent that he wished to be
destroyed along with them if God would not forgive their sin. We will
once again encounter this paradox of being part of the community while
being outside it in "The Lonely Man of Faith," where the Rav describes
God Himself as being a member of the "covenantal faith community,"
albeit the senior member.

[If we look to history, it would seem that the Rambam, for example,
viewed himself somewhat along the lines of Moshe Rabbeinu, communing
solitarily with God and at the same time guiding the community as a
teacher and leader. Perhaps we can speculate that the Rav also saw
himself in this light, identifying strongly with the community while
also feeling separate from it in his singularity and uniqueness.]


At this point, the Rav focuses on how the community is formed. The first
step is the recognition of the other, the thou. By realizing that he is
not the only significant being in the universe, solitary man "contracts"
his "infinite" existence and makes room for the other. In this, man
emulates God's primordial act of "tzimtzum" (contraction), whereby He
"made room" for an existence other than His own, i.e. the universe. (We
shall explore the concept of tzimtzum in the next lecture. Note merely
at this point that the Rav raises the issue of imitatio Dei, emulation
of God, which, as we shall see, is central to his thought.) Thus, Rav
Soloveitchik comes up with the equation: "creation [of a community or
of the world] = recognition = withdrawal = an act of sacrifice" (p. 15).

This insight is reflected in many aspects of the Halakha. For example,
the Halakha assigns great significance to greetings exchanged between
people, because recognition implies affirmation of the other person's
value, and draws the two people together into a community. Thus, we are
commanded to return greetings and sometimes to extend them even when
reciting the Shema; recognition of one's fellow, relieving him of his
loneliness, does not contradict the act of kabbalat ol malkhut shamayim
(acceptance of the yoke of Heaven). Similarly, the Halakha is exceedingly
strict in prohibiting one from causing even the slightest distress to
a widow or orphan, since these individuals are extremely sensitive and
prone to losing their sense of dignity and worth. (Note the striking
aggadic passage [Semachot 8:4] quoted by the Rav, which attributes Rav
Shimon ben Gamliel's death to inadvertently causing slight distress to a
poor widow.) Although it is not always clear whether the Rav is deriving
his philosophical ideas from the Halakha or whether he is explaining the
Halakha by means of his ideas, such insights are common in his writings,
giving his thought firm grounding in Jewish sources.


By recognizing the thou and forming a community with him, one
automatically assumes responsibility for him; recognition = commitment.
This, again, is emulation of God, who not only created the world but
also continually provides for it. On a human level, this leads to the
formation of the prayer community, which is explained thus by the Rav:

    "It means a community of common pain, of common suffering.
    The Halakha has taught the individual to include his fellow man in
    his prayer... Halakha has [thus] formulated prayer in the plural...
    "The individual prayer usually revolves about physical pain, mental
    anguish, or suffering which man cannot bear anymore. At the level
    of individual prayer, prayer does not represent the singularly
    human need. Even the mute creature in the field reacts to physical
    pain with a shriek or outcry... However, prayer in the plural is
    a unique human performance... I am aware, not only of my pain,
    but of the pain of the many, because I share in the suffering of
    the many. Again, it is not psychological; it is rather existential
    awareness of pain." (pp. 19, 21)

Due to this awareness, the prayer community must also be a charity
community. And indeed, the Jews have, over the generations, developed
a trait of sensitivity to pain and compulsive kindness (rachmanut),
as well as a glorious tradition of charity.


However, according to the Rav, the highest form of interpersonal
communion is attained through the teaching community. The true teacher
must merge his total experience with that of the student, and they
thereby attain a closeness which exceeds the sympathy and mutual aid of
the prayer/charity community. A teacher not only trains the mind, but
fashions the personality of the student; he shares not only information,
but experiences, visions, dreams - in short, his very essence. As the
Rav explains in "U-vikkashtem Mi-sham" (pp. 228-229), the personality
of the master teacher, like that of the prophet, spontaneously overflows
toward the student in an act of self-revelation. This leaves an indelible
impression upon the student's soul and binds the two together intimately.

In fact, the entire enterprise of the Massora (passing on the tradition)
is based on the unity of teacher and disciple:

    "In this principle [i.e. unity of teacher and student] is enfolded
    the secret of the Torah She- be'al Peh (Oral Law), which by its
    very nature has never been objectified, even after being committed
    to writing. The meaning of Torah She-be'al Peh is: a Torah which
    merges with one's peuniqueness and turns into an inseparable part
    of him. When it is passed on, part of one's essence is transmitted
    along with it." ("U-vikkashtem Mi-sham," p. 229)

      [A word of explanation about the previous quote:
Unlike the Written Torah, which is crystallized in a clearly defined
text, the Oral Torah is by its very nature amorphous. It is borne not by
parchment, but by the human being, who both shapes it with his own unique
contribution and understanding, and who is in turn shaped by it. The Rav
elaborated on this theme on several occasions, among them in a Memorial
lecture for his wife in 1971, which is summarized as "Torah and Humility"
on our website (see the address at the end of this lecture):

    "Can the Oral Torah pass on kedusha (holiness) ... in the sense that
    the Written Torah sanctifies tefillin, mezuza, the Torah parchment,
    etc.? ... It would be folly to conclude that the Oral Torah is
    inferior in this respect. The answer is that the Oral Torah operates
    in a more subtle manner, transmitting sanctity through study and
    its relation to the mind of the student... The parchment of talmud
    Torah is the human mind, the human heart and personality... The old
    halakhic equation that every Jew is a sefer Torah (Torah scroll)
    is, in this light, fully understandable. The living Jew is the sefer
    Torah of the Torah she-be'al peh."]

By bringing the student into the living chain of tradition, the
teacher inducts him into a community which transcends the bounds
of uni-directional time, uniting both the glorious past and the
eschatological future with the present into one great experience.
Events from the past, far from being dead, are constantly re-experienced
(e.g. the exodus, the revelation at Sinai, the destruction of the Temple);
teachers and heroes of the past are living presences who address their
words to us and whom we even can engage in dialogue (through Torah
study). At the other extreme, we eagerly anticipate the future redemption
of the world and actively attempt to bring some of its perfection into
the present. Our experience transcends clock time, giving us a sense of
eternity within the temporal, and sensitizing us to the opportunities
and challenges of the present.

In our essay, the Rav portrays the community in both horizontal and
vertical terms: horizontal communion with one's contemporaries via
prayer and charity, and, superior even to this, vertical communion
with generations past and future via the medium of talmud Torah. The
same progression can be found in the Rav's discussions of community in
"U-vikkashtem Mi-sham" and "On Repentance." In the latter, as mentioned
previously, Rav Soloveitchik details the need to link up to Knesset
Yisrael in order to participate in the atonement granted on a communal
level. (This does not detract from the need to attain personal atonement
for one's individual sins.) How does one connect to Knesset Yisrael? By
having faith in it. How is this faith expressed? In the twofold manner
we have just discussed:

    "The Jew who believes in Knesset Israel is the Jew who lives as
    part of it wherever it is and is willing to give his life for it,
    feels its pain, rejoices with it, fights in its wars, groans at
    its defeats and celebrates its victories. The Jew who believes in
    Knesset Israel is a Jew who binds himself with inseverable bonds
    not only to the People of Israel of his own generation, but to the
    community of Israel throughout the ages. How so? Through the Torah,
    which embodies the spirit and the destiny of Israel from generation
    to generation unto eternity." (On Repentance, p. 137)

As noted before, what is implicit in the above quote from "On Repentance"
is explicit in "The Community:" the highest form of community is that
which unites you with the community of all generations, not just with
that of your own. In a sense, connection to one's source and destiny
has greater axiological value than connection to one's fellow. This is
not to minimize the importance of bonding with one's contemporaries;
the Rav repeatedly emphasizes throughout his writings the necessity of
both dimensions of community. In "Kol Dodi Dofek," he has very harsh
words for those who forsake the "covenant of fate" (which unites us with
fellow Jews in suffering and sympathy) while adhering to the "covenant of
destiny" (whereby we pursue our spiritual goals of becoming a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation). Both aspects are crucial, and one's Judaism
is deficient if he maintains only one aspect.

What the Rav does mean to say is that, in terms of ultimate values,
the eternal is of greater significance than the temporal; spiritual
goals, coming closer to God and spreading His word, have greater
axiological value than sympathy between finite individuals. We must
surely be compassionate; but our mission, perhaps the very reason we were
created, is to bring holiness into the world, a piece of the infinite
into finite being, a sense of the eternal into temporal existence.
In order to realize this goal, which means realizing our true selves and
maximizing ourselves as individuals, we must join a covenantal community,
as described in this essay. Thus, the Rav concludes on a note stressing
the timeless:

    "It is a privilege and a pleasure to belong to such a prayerful,
    charitable, teaching community, which feels the breath of
    eternity." (p. 24)


1. Prayer: see "Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah" (Tradition 1978),
which we will study later in the year (along with several other essays
dealing with prayer).

2. The unity of teacher and student: see "U-vikkashtem Mi- sham,"
chapter 19.

3. The merging of past, present and future: see "Sacred and Profane"
[reprinted in "Shiurei Harav"] and "On Repentance."

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