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Volume 08 : Number 016

Monday, October 15 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 10:30:52 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
RMF on Agunos after the Shoah

Here are some mareh mkomos re RMF on Agunos in the light of the Shoah and 
mass diasters :
1) AH1:41, 43,44, 48, 50, 
2)AH 4: 53,56,57,58

I would suggest that we all look and see how a Gadol HaDor handled these 
issues before we add our own comments.
                Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 10:17:07 -0400
From: "Yitzchok Willroth" <willroth@voicenet.com>
Re: arba minim in succah

>>> FWIW, Rav Elyashiv comes to the Kotel every day of Chol HaMoed to bentch
>>> arba minim exactly at hanetz ...

>> I wonder if there is any element of lulav nitel shiva bemikdash
>> included in this practice.

> Yes, that's why Rav Elyashiv (and thousands of other people, including
> me) go to the Kotel during Chol haMoed - to be choshesh for the Rambam
> and the possibility of there being a d'oraysa even today....

Funny, Briskers _don't_ go on Chol HaMoed for precisely the same reason...

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Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 10:52:50 -0400
From: Qumran <qumran@optonline.net>
Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret-early mekorot

This post is based on a chapter on this subject in Prof. Yitzchak
(Eric) Zimmer's Olam Keminhago Noheg (Mercaz Zalman Shazar, 1996).
IIRC, previous posts have generally not focused on the early mekorot.

Rabbenu Chananel (Sukka 46b-47a) records that we follow the gemara
and sit in the sukka with no bracha (Uvatar hachi paskenan...). Zimmer
assumes that RH heard of a contrary minhag; otherwise RH would not have
had to emphasize the psak. Still, this is not conclusive (as Zimmer
says) Sefer Hapardes (ehrenreich edition, p 240) mentions divergent
minhagim explicitly. Rashi followed the Gemara, and so did Rabbi Yakkov
ben Yitzchak Halevy (the father was one of Rashi's 3 rebbeim) . But his
two brothers ate in the house at night and in the sukka during the day.
They based themselves on a Yerushalmi (Sukka 4:5 and Berachot 6:6)
The Pesikta says the same (p. 173 in Buber's Pesikta Drav Kahana).
(Basically, one who wishes to eat in the sukka on 8A must make make a
heker that he is not doing so leshem mitzva, but for pleasure. Thus, there
will be no problem of Bal Tosif). The author of the pardes (a talmid of
Rashi) asked Rabbi Yaakov, and he said that originally, his father Rabbi
Yitzchak Halevy sat in the house at night and the sukka during the day. In
his old age he was inconsistent regarding where to eat the meal at night.

Rabbi Alexandri agreed regarding RYH's early minhag, but claimed that
Rashi had convinced RYH to follow the Talmud Bavli and eat all meals
in the sukka. Rabbenu Shneur Halevy did the same as Rashi. Z continues
by showing that Rav Yoel ben Yitzchak Halevy (Raavan's son-in-law),
the Or Zarua and Maharam Rothenburg agreed with Rashi. Rabbi Aharon
Hacohen Milunel mentions that some in France follow the house at night,
sukka during the day minhag. He says, "veein taam lidivreihem." Rabbi
Yitzchak, the author of Shaarei Dura refutes this minhag as well (Minhagim
Yeshanim Midura, edited by Elfenbein). He says that its proponents are
trying to observe the chumrot of the Bavli and Yerushalmi simultaneously.
"vaaleihem neemar: 'Haksil bachoshech holech.' ". They are wrong because
the Yerushalmi is dealing with the reality of EY where there is no Sefeka
Deyoma. It is not applicable to Chu"l; there, the Bavli must be followed.

I'll discuss late rishonim in another post.

Daniel Schiffman

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Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 11:35:53 -0400
From: Qumran <qumran@optonline.net>
Sukka on Shmini Atzeret--Late Rishonim

(This post is based on a chapter on this subject in Prof. Yitzchak (Eric)
Zimmer's Olam Keminhago Noheg , Mercaz Zalman Shazar, 1996).

The Raavyah (Sukka Siman 672) and Aguda say that one should eat in the
sukka laila vayom, but not sleep there. This avoids the appearance of
being mosif. The hagahot on Minhagei Rabbi Isaac Tirnau mentions that
some eat the last half of the daytime meal in the house. The author
says he cannnot find a source for this, but he finds a "raaya brura"
from the Tanchuma in Pinchas. The Tanchuma says that chachamim allowed
us to leave the sukka on the last day of sukkot, so that our tefilla
for Geshem will be "belev shalem."

Sefer Maharil relates that Rabbi Meir MeIgra ate in the house at night
and the sukka in the daytime, just like "mishpachat Lombardia." . Maharil
visited him after eating his own meal in the sukka; it does not say
that he tried to convince R. Meir MeIgra to change his minhag. (I'll
stop here, since Z continues to quote the Bach, Taz and Magen Avraham,
which are more familar to us).

From all of the above (including my first post, citing the earliest
mekorot on the subject), it seems to me that R. Yitzchak Midura is
correct, and the application of the Yeshulami Sukka 4:5 to Chu"l is
erroneous. Nevertheless, there was a mesora to follow it even in chu"l
(which probably came to Germany via Italy). Live minhag and mesora was
very important in early Ashkenaz, so the minhag stood even though the
raaya from Yerushalmi is problematic. Later on, some began to leave the
sukka in mid-meal during the daytime. Beginning in the 16th Century,
the Mekubalim advocated a new view--not to eat in Sukka at all. The
chasidim followed suit (one souce claims that the Besht was bikdushat
EY on 8A because "yichud gamur" is nishlam in EY on 8A and in Chu"l on
Simchat Torah).

No doubt, the cold in Europe was also a contributing factor (Korban
Netanel on Sukka says that if it is cold, it's obvious that you aren't
sitting there for pleasure. Then there is no heker and you have a problem
of nireh kimosif). It's hard for me to give much weight to the sevara
that the Rebbe and/or his chasidim are mitztaer, because there isn'y
enough space in the sukka. If that's really the reason, they should
leave the sukka during sukkot itself.

Daniel Schiffman

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Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 19:32:37 -0400
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Re: rambam's iqqorim

From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" 
<.... I do not recall any meaningful disagreements amongst sources that
we consider to be Rishonim, and not just "scholars" that happened to
live contemporaneously with the Rishonim.>

Gil Sudent:
<Which is why RYGB said that he thought that Shapiro proved the antithesis
of his point. IMHO I think that Shapiro's point remains... regard to
Creation Ex Nihilo (Beriah yesh me'ayin), all he really has from the
mainstream is a debatable Ibn Ezra....>

Guys, guys -- you're losing sight of the ball. The issue is not whether
the majority agreed with rambam, or how large that majority may have
been, so attempts to assert that number disagreeing was minimal are
off the mark. they are also incorrect, but that's another matter which
I'll return to. The TUM focus is rather on whether some disagreed and
whether such disagreement caused them to be regarded as heretics. To
which he answers yes to the former and no to the latter. None of your
arguments even begin to address this thesis at all, let alone "proved
the anti-thesis" as RYGB has it..

Before i deal with the detailed comments proffered by RGil (and implicitly
by RYGB), i should like to make a methodological point which i believe
is mafrich Rgil/RYGB l'mafreoh. RYGB would blow off the whole inyon
with the casual blanket dismissal that <I do not recall any meaningful
disagreements amongst sources that we consider to be Rishonim, and
not just "scholars" that..>. setting aside just for the moment RYGB's
implied authority to lift someone's rishonic status, RYGB and RGS wish
to argue ex silencio. Thus, e.g. RGS's remark below that he can find
maybe three obscure rishonim who believed in some form of corporeality --
inferring that the vast majority did not. Now, the plain factoid is that
the vast majority of ashkenazic rishonim did not write philosophical
works, indeed it is far easier to marshal contemptuous references to
philosophy than to find actual philosophizing in rishonic ashkenaz. Thus,
we are unlikely to discern, say, R. Eliezer Hag'godole's, r. gershom's,
or R. Yosef b. Sh'muel Bonfils' take on di novo vs ex nihilo (not usually
appreciated that rambam actually requires both beliefs, at least according
to the exoreticians, who are of course the majority -- but see below)
or R. Abun or R. yehudoh hachohen or even the smag's position on the
intrinsic heresy of corporeality, etc. etc. i do not claim that their
silence means they have no positions, but the truth is we simply don't
know. They didn't write about such things. Thus for RGS to list even
three rishonim who e.g. had something positive to say about corporeality
(either believing in some form or at least denying that such belief
constituted heresy) may not be all that small a number. I am well aware
that you can find vehement anti-corporeal statements in rishonim, but how
many of even those can you find? Should we assume that the distribution
of actual opinion on each iqqor is directly proportional to the number
of negative vs positive opinions in published rishonic works? If so,
i doubt that RGS or RYGB would find the answer comforting. But in truth,
this is a flawed methodology which RYGB/RGS should not be utilizing for
far reaching extrapolations.

Now to respond more directly to RGil:
RGS: < THIRD IKKAR there is little information how many... In other
words, there were maybe three relatively obscure talmidei chachamim that
we know of who believed in some form of corporeality. This does not
demonstrate that this ikkar was in flux. To add, even among those who
we know believed in some form of corporeality, R. Moshe of Taku only
believed that G-d could, if He wanted, appear corporeal. He did not
believe that G-d is, in general, corporeal (see Torah Shelemah vol. 16
pp. 308-319). The difference between this and the Rambam's view is,
IMHO, slight. Philosophically significant but practically neglible.>

Whether one believes such beliefs were widespread or not in rambam's
time, you may be the first person in the last eight hundred years to
characterize the difference between rambam's demand for incorporeal
beliefs with even watered down versions of such belief as "slight". I
also have no idea what you could mean by the remark <Philosophically
significant but practically neglible.> after all, the whole point of all
this stuff is precisely philosophical. That's what iqqorim are about --
proper philosophical beliefs and the rambam's characterization of them
as required. Of course these are "practically negligible" in the sense
that it doesn't affect how i put on my t'filin this morning, but then
neither do many other things and such a "practical" metric would render
a large universe of utterly disparate phenomena equivalent because it
doesn't change my practice. As to your claim that there "were maybe
"three relatively obscure talmidei chakhomim", that is an unsupported
conjecture on your part which also directly contradicts both the rambam
and the raavad who both testified that many believed this, odd as that
might sound these days. besides ravaad's allusion to great scholars
who held some form of such belief, shapiro provided source references
to ramban, radaq, r'avrohom ben harambam, r. sh'lomo b. meshullom, r
sh'muel saporto,, r. yitzchof n. latif, and r. moshe alshaqar who all
speak of anthropormorphism being accepted by talmidei chachomim. (& qal
v'chomer the masses). Your assumption of "maybe three" (because these
are presumably the only specific names we may have heard of) is thus
directly contradicted by multiple contemporary eidim of irreproachable
ne'emonus. See also earlier remarks above about the methodology of

<[SEVENTH] IKKAR : With regard to prophecy, all Shapiro has is a machlokes
over whether Mashiach will be a greater prophet than Moshe. There are
two issues here. First, regarding the ikkar on prophecy, this is only a
debate over whether Mashiach will be a greater prophet than Moshe. This
is precisely what I would call a slight disagreement. Second, Shapiro
has one source. One rishon, and a controversial one at that, dissents.>

With respect to moshiach vis a vis moshe, you are incorrect in stating
that "shapiro has one source and a controversial one at that".. shapiro
also cites the ramban, ralbag, and r. chaim b. attar. Then there are
also the various qabbolistic m'qoros who would accord the arizal a status
equal to or greater than moshe. Its not that you are m'chuyov to accept
any of this, but it is inaccurate to claim they never existed. i have no
opinion as to whether this should be characterized as "slight" or not,
but i betcha rambam would have argued it wasn't.

<FIFTH IKKAR: Shapiro also points out something we already know. Yes,
there are some mekoros within Chazal about using intermediaries to reach
Hashem. And those who worked so hard to justify this, e.g. the Minchas
Elazar, have already explained this. It is not worshipping intermediaries
but using them to worship Hashem. Would Rambam protest? Yes. But this
still fits into the main intent of the ikkar that Hashem, and only
Hashem, is the object of our worship and prayers. No one would say that
we should worship anyone else or pray to anyone else. They only suggest,
in certain circumstances, requesting other beings to pray to G-d on our
behalf. I call this disagreement slight.>

I don't see how pointing out something we already knew was problematic
mitigates the problem. I also have no idea why you think this is a
"slight" deviation -- but there is no point arguing it further as it is
down to a judgement call, and your judgement differs from mine.

<EIGHTH IKKAR: With regard to Torah MiSinai, you can almost sense the glee
in which Shapiro goes into detail about the debates over the Masoretic
text. Yes, indeed. I don't have explanations for the deviations from
what we call the Masoretic Text. However, there are no sources who
dispute anything but individual letters and a few words. I have not
calculated percentages but I would be willing to guess that less than 1%
of Tanach is under question. I also believe that Shapiro maximized the
disagreements on this issue. There are a number of rishonim who I do
not think should be included in that section (e.g. Rashi).>

before addressing the inyon substantively I'd like to say that the
"sense the glee" remark is unworthy of RGS's more usually substantively
focused remarks. I re-read shapiro's piece and could nowhere sense
such "glee". It rather evokes the classical advice supposedly proffered
fledgling litigaters, when you have the facts, argue the facts, when you
don't have them -- argue the man. Indeed shapiro offers a host of m'qoros
both preceding and far post dating rishonim (anyone here want to suggest
e.g. that the late rosh yeshivoh of ner yisroel, r. yaacov weinberg z"l
should not have counted for a minyon because of his published writings
on this issue?). as well as rishonim themselves and his position --
that not everybody agreed with rambam on this and what's more rambam
himself could hardly have taken his own words literally, would seem
unassailable. A position that RGil himself essentially agrees with as
he attempts to do little more than attempt to peel away some support
at the edges. (imnvho he is also incorrect, but in the interests of
space and diversion from the main topic, i'll let that go. clarifying
rashi's position on tiqqun sof'rim could make an interesting -- but
possibly overheated -- subthread all its own). RGil's suggestion that he
is willing to bet that the number of divergencies, or s'faiqos, in the
masoretic text is less than 1% -- and he's right about that, and by a
large margin -- is only considered "slight" by academic scholars -- odd
that you should find yourself echoing those guys. Given the Author of this
work (as opposed to standards applied to critical texts of Homer) and as
they used to say in the hebrew national hot dog ad, He must answer to a
higher standard. a tradition that invests each letter, indeed each tog,
with q'dushoh, which believes of a lavlor 's work "... m'lekhes shomayim
hee, shemoh attoh m'chaseir oas achas oa m'yaseir oas achas nimtsais
machriv es kol ho'olom kulo" (eruvin 13a/sotoh 20b)...." may also discern
a huge theological gulf between perfection and an acceptable error rate
of less than 1%. It is hardly surprising that some disagreements persist
here as shapiro voluminously documents. It is even possible that not only
"some" disagreed with rambam's iqqor as stated, but that a majority did so
(and from his 1% remark, i suppose I must count RGS as also disagreeing
with this iqqor, or at least recognizing that others do so).

having disposed of that complaint (TMOS), i do have to say that i too find
fault with shapiro's treatment of this iqqor. And that is in his further
discussion of a different class of supposed dissenters from iqqor 8 --
the opinion that the last eight p'suqim (or twelve, or some other parts)
were authored by other than moshe. Shapiro again convincingly documents
(as we all know) that many people did not take this literally either with
some eminently non-heretical chol'qim holding that y'hoshuoh authored end
of toroh -- including rambam's own rebbe, ri mi'gas, who can hardly have
been considered a heretic with no cheleq in world to come by rambam, and
so -- shapiro concludes -- rambam himself couldn't have believed here in
his own iqqor. The problem with that, from my perspective, is that i don't
feel this is supported in the rambam's formulation of iqqor 8. While it
is true that rambam opens with references to the toroh that moshe somehow
wrote under divine dictation, however -- in the continuation of the same
iqqor -- when rambam expands his discussion to discuss the impermissible
counter belief, he only talks about the false claim that moshe may have
written p'suqim of his own free creation, not dictated by god. This
opens the possibility that rambam would not consider a heretic one who
believed that god was still dictating but someone else -- y'hoshuoh --
was doing the transcribing. It seems to me an ambiguity created by an
apparent s'tiroh between the raisha and saifoh of this iqqor and there
is no particular compulsion to accept shapiro's p'saq that the raisha is
docheh the saifoh here. Nevertheless shapiro's main thesis is adequately
demonstrated by the earlier part of his discussion of this iqqor.

BTW -- i also re-read r. bleich's sumary of this inyon in his book "with
perfect faith" and don't see how a careful reader could emerge unconfused.
On the one hand he quotes g'moroh sanhedrin 99a about one who claims
that even one posuq was an independent product of moshe -- and r. bleich
helpfully emphasizes that this means even a single letter is not from
god's dictation -- has transgressed d'var hashem bezoh and has no share
in world to come. On the other hand he quickly segues from the g'moroh
sanhedrin to a discussion of the minor difference in western vs eastern
torahs related to the spelling of p'tzuoh dacoh (of course there are
other diferences as well but this is what he fingers) emphasizing that
while there is this minor textual change, it has no effect at all on
cognitive meaning. Of course the statement by itself is true, but one
is left wondering what happened to the g'moroh sanhedrin that he just
finished interpreting previously. my quick perusal of r. bleich didn't
catch any further address of the matter.

<TENTH IKKAR : The tenth ikkar is that Hashem knows man's actions. Again,
he has a debatable Ibn Ezra The key here is debatable. Additionally,
Ibn Ezra is a controversial figure among rishonim. But don't focus on
that. Focus on the "debatable" part. It is very possible that Ibn Ezra
did not say what Shapiro claims he did (although Shapiro does note that
possibility) and, if so, there is no disagreement over this ikkar.>

I am sorry to see Ibn ezra referred to as a controversial figure again in
this context, vid my remarks above about arguing the facts rather than
the man -- i do hope you are not suggesting that you too wish to lift
Ibn Ezra's rishonic union card. Since he did not expand his remarks,
i inferred, though perhaps incorrectly, that this was precisely RYGB's
intent when he remarked -- i paraphrase -- that not all contemporaries
of rishonim should be considered rishonim, some were mere academic
scholars. (If he was not thinking of Ibn Ezra i assume he'll correct
me.) But in any event, it is again not true that all he has is a dabatable
Ibn Ezra. There is also ralbag and, with variation, r. chaim b.attar.

<ELEVENTH IKKAR: I don't think he has a leg on which to stand This simply
means that I think that he is totally mistaken.> Since you've not offered
a retrospective of any logical or documentary chain that led you to such a
belief, and TUM article cites Ibn ezra, ralbag, and a few other "scholars"
to support his, i'll have to give him the nod here. I might also add that
shapiro's treatment of this iqqor surprised me a bit as it seems that
he could have easily expanded his discussion to include the subject of
determinism vs free will. This would after all seem inherent in a belief
in s'char v'onesh -- indeed albo makes this precise point in explaining
why rambam left b'chiroh chofshis, despite his explicit endorsement
elsewhere, off his list of 13. Shapiro could have pointed to a number of
chakhomim (a minority to be sure) who held some form of deterministic
beliefs without anyone accusing them of heresy for rejecting rambam's
opinion here -- but i suppose precisely because it was only inherent
but not explicit in the iqqorim that he decided to take a pass on it.

I also notice that you've skipped Iqqor #4 which speaks to a required
belief in ex nihilo creation. This has also never been universally
accepted but here I would rather point you to nomi frankel's essay
(Maimonidean Controversy and the Story of Creation by Naomi R. Frankel)
in the articles archive at www.aishdas.org on that subject.

RGS also offers the following quotes from prof berger's new anti-lubavitch
<.. I do not believe that an isolated passage, even by a great rabbi,
automatically legitimates a theological position against the weight of
overwhelming contrary opinion. Even with respect to issues of full-fledged
heresy, one can point to isolated statements by distinguished Jews which
differ from the Jewish consensus. This is true of anthropomorphism and
even of certain issues touching on the composition of the Torah[7]. These
statements do not mean that an Orthodox Jew is permitted to entertain
the belief in a corporeal G-d or to be open to revisionist views about
the Mosaic authorship of any part of the Torah. [7]...>

I am not sure what to make of any of these remarks. For one thing it is
unclear to me whether prof berger is focused more on the contemporary
period -- when it would seem odd indeed to find an anthropomorphic
belief of any stripe, but not necessarily impossible -- i'm thinking of
qabbolistic circles to which i obviously have little entree. But then
i suspect neither does prof berger. I also have no idea what he might
be thinking of when he refers to the impermissibility of entertaining
certain ideas with respect to the composition of Torah, since it is well
documented that certain ideas clearly were and continue to be respectable,
if we measure this by the universal acceptance of the people who hold them
cited above. In any event we might note that prof berger is hardly in the
poseiq business and is not really in any position to lecture anybody on
what beliefs an < an Orthodox Jew is permitted to entertain>, and secondly
his pronouncements about the non-legitimacy of isolated passages against
the overwhelming majority are delivered in apodictic style unbecoming
a scholar who is expected to document his assertions. Shapiro has done
so. Berger, in this instance at least, has not and his opinions are thus
irrelevant to the discussion, though some may take comfort in them.. I
can have no particular opinion of his book as a whole since i have not
read it, but at least lubavitch circles (of course) would deny that he
had successfully penetrated their inner spiritual life.

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

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Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 19:23:22 -0400
From: "Jay S. Lapidus" <jlapidus@usa.net>
Re: WTC stories, Hashgacha pratis and kiddush HaShem

I had written:
>> Indeed, God does try to prevent the hijackings within the natural
>> order; however, God requires human assistance. 

On Sat, 13 Oct 2001, from: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
> G-d doesn't EVER require human assistance, but He may use it in 
> order to make things appear more natural and to give those who 
> wish to deny a nes an opportunity to do so.

To clear up the misunderstanding: I used "require" as a synonym for
"demand" or "imposing an obligation."

>>                                 God gives us mental, moral, and
>> physical capabilities. It's up to us to decide whether or not to
>> make the most of them. The hijackings were preventable, had the
>> warnings of terrorism and security experts been heeded for better
>> airport security, secure cockpits, and armed marshals on the planes.

Carl inquired. 
> And why were those things not done? Maybe because Hashem 
> didn't want them done....

Let's see: Someone somewhere in authority realized that there was an
immediate terrorist threat, but did nothing, either because he heard the
word of the Lord, or because God magically made the authority physically
unable to perform. Is _that_ what you mean to impl?! I hope not.

Those "things were not done" for the simple reason that humans freely
chose not to have them done, preferring profits to security, complacency
to effort, and savings to preparedness.
Jay to Micha:
>> I do believe that God finds the preservation of the natural order of
>> utmost importance.

> Then how do you explain things like kriyas yam suf?

It's interesting that you bring up that example, because in another post,
in response to my words:

"No, it's a choice between maintaining the integrity of the natural
order or not. God has not interrupted the natural order at any time
during recent history..."

You replied:
> .......as far as you know.

As far as I know?! As far as _anyone_ knows! If this were not so, then
what would have been the point of God's subverting nature? God performed
the ten plagues and Kriat Yam Suf in ways that were unmistakably "Etzba
E-lohim" as opposed to a natural occurence, even an unusual, natural one.

>> ... God has not interrupted the natural order at any time
>> during recent history...

> You obviously have not been in Eretz Yisrael recently. 

Ad hominem.  

> Every time a
> terrorist manages to blow himself up without taking anyone else with
> him, that's an interruption in the natural order for which all of us
> here are grateful.

You and I have different definitions of what constitutes "natural 
order" and " an interruption in the natural order."  Since we don't 
agree on the definition of the terms, I'm going to stop here.

Jay S. Lapidus     http://jlapidus.tripod.com

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Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 10:30:41 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Hashgacha peratis, bechirah, and WTC stories

Jay wrote:
: >IOW, as I was arguing, you feel that G-d "stood back" from the situation
: >because He values free will more than the lives lost.

: "Stood back" is at best an overstatement.

: >Hashem could have interrupted the natural order. 

: Not interrupting the natural order is not the equivalent of "standing
: back."  As you yourself have argued on another thread:

: >                                                 And, as I was arguing on
: >another thread, He could have prevented the hijackings /within/ the natural
: >order. (The rate at which a fuel line cracks is probably non-deterministic.
: >If not a zillion other things.)

Actually, I meant the paragraph as a whole. G-d "stood back" because
He NEITHER interrupted the natural order NOR prevented the hijackings
(really: the casualties, as that's what's more relevent here) within
the narual order.

: Indeed, God does try to prevent the hijackings within the natural order;
: however, God requires human assistance.

G-d /chose/ to demand (as you later translate "requires") human
assistance. Which, as I see it, means He values that assistance more
than human lives.

This is slightly different than before, when I made the same claim WRT
free will, but not much.

I think this is fully in concert with traditional Jewish thought. "Chayim"
is often taken by Chazal to mean "purposeful existance". "Tzadiqim
bemisasam qeruyim chayim". In Hirschian etymology, /ch-y-h/ is the
active-intensive of /h-y-h/.

But it's still an idea too hard to swallow, and we really shouldn't try.

: I do believe that God finds the preservation of the natural order of
: utmost importance.


: >It's still a choice of the free will of the terrorists and authorities
: >over the lives of the victims.

: No, it's a choice between maintaining the integrity of the natural
: order or not.  God has not interrupted the natural order at any time
: during recent history...

That anyone can prove. A lot has happened in Israel since '48 that
smells kinda fishy to me. (As Carl intimated in a comment you mistook
for a personal criticism.)

If you want to recast this into a question of valuing natural order
rather than valuing free will, you are left with the question of why
Hashem would want a concept of nature. As I said above, I can't think
of a reason without invoking the concept of free woll. The two I
came up with were:
1- To allow us an environment in which we can plan our actions; and
2- It gives us an opportunity to be heretics by making His Presence
   less blatant.

On Sat, Oct 13, 2001 at 08:14:13PM +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
:                                   If, in fact, we cannot say Hodu Hashem
: ki tov - what does it mean to say that we are required to have hakaras
: hatov?

We exist. That in itself is a tovah. What you're pointing to is that the
assumption is flawed. There couldn't be an evil deity, because such a deity
would either (possible false dichotomy alert!):
1- not create; or
2- be complex by doing at least one non-evil thing -- creating. The First
   Cause can only be purely one thing -- Absolute Good. The alternative,
   pure absolute evil (as opposed to partial evil) can't provide existance,
   even miserable existance, to others.

:        Is not our obligation to have hakaras hatov itself rooted in our
: imitation of the midos of Hashem?

Search Avodah's archives for previous discussion of Euthyphro's Dilemma.
Bekitzur: Does Hashem want us to do good, or is it good because Hashem
wants us to do it? The former would imply that HKBH is subject to some
notion of "good" that He did not create. The latter, that "good" is arbitrary;
subject to divine whim with no extranal definition.

I proposed my own resolution in
But underlying what I wrote is the assumption that "evil creator" is
an oxymoron.

:                                   What does it mean to suggest that we
: should be "better" than Hashem (which seems to be what you are saying of
: you say that Hashem is malevolent but yet we must have hakaras hatov)?

Interestingly, just lack week it was suggested to me that yes, we are
expected to be better than Hashem. After all, when He does chessed,
He is in no way diminished by giving what He does. When a person does
chessed, that person often has to subsequently do without. (If nothing
else, do without the time and energy it took to do it.)

BTW, I don't say this, R' Yeruschim did. It's not a shitah I'm personally
convinced of.

On Sat, Oct 13, 2001 at 11:17:27PM +0200, Carl and Adina Sherer wrote:
: Rav Nebenzahl argues that until Eitz HaDaas, Adam HaRishon had free
: will but it was free will applied with a cold rationalism so that Adam
: HaRishon would be as unlikely to make the wrong choice as you and I
: would be to jump out of an office tower that was not on fire....

The Rambam also says that Adam and Chavba's bechirah before the first
cheit was that of emes vs sheqer. However, he doesn't think this meant
that they would be incredibly unlikely to choose sheqer.

FWIW, this situation, where one has the ability to make choices
but there are no rational choices to be made, is how the Or Samei'ach
defines the LACK of bechirah of mal'achim.

(R"L we live in a world where you thought of adding that final

:                                                               He looks
: at Eitz HaDaas as a conscious decision by Adam HaRishon to make things
: "more complicated," to "up the stakes" if you will, by introducing the
: possibility that emotions, feelings and temptations will get in the way
: of making the right decision.

In the third paragraph of the (quite lengthy) Hagah"h in Nefesh Hachaim
1:6, R' Chaim Vilozhiner explicitly states that they had bechirah because
otherwise, how could there have been the cheit? Rather, "hutzrach hanachash
mibachutz lefayto". In his view, Adam was created from all of the qochos
hatahara, and via the cheit pulled into himself the qochos hatum'ah as well.
However, even before the cheit Adam had the power to choose amongst those
qochos -- including those within the lower olamos.

To RCV, "eitz hada'as" is named such because "da'as" is a lashon chibur.
"TOv vara", however, is lav davka; he takes it as an idiom to mean
"everything". Just as we find later in the Chumash "ra vatov" as an
idiom for "nothing".

This is similar to REED's approach to Adam qodem hacheit, except
that REED holds that both the yeitzer hara AND the yeitzer hatov were
external. Note that REED also focusses on Adam's choice to follow the
nachash who was mibachutz. To him "da'as tov vara" is the chibur of tov
and ra to the self.

I'm uncomfortable with approaches that make eating from the eitz hada'as
an aveirah lishmah. First, because it leaves you wondering how the
nachash is "arum mikol chayas hasadeh". Second, because it removes the
onesh component of the effects of the cheit or at least the justice


Micha Berger                 "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org            heart, with your entire soul, with all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org       Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (413) 403-9905          It is two how look in the same direction.

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 20:38:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: Claude Schochet <claude@turing.math.wayne.edu>
indivuality/equality - should be individual/collective

I agree with Harry that this is not a dichotomy. A more useful dichotomy
for discussion revolves around a classical (since the Greeks) debate:
is the fundamental unit of society the individual or the nation (well -
city-state in the time of Plato). This dichotomy is the simplest way to
see the critical distinction between classical (18th century) capitalist
and classical socialist (19th century) political theory. This translates
into fundamental differences in world-view between the United States,
for instance (where we put the individual as central) and China (where
the basic unit is the society).

For those who would argue that in the end there is no difference -
that maximizing individual utility for each individual is the same as
maximizing the collective utility - I refer you to the Impossibility
Theorem of Kenneth Arrow, who showed that there is no way to create a
social utility function which mediates so as to convert various individual
utility functions into a collective social utility function. (Details
on request off-list.)

Various Jewish arguments revolve around this dichotomy.

Let's translate this into terms of t'shuva, for instance. On the one
hand we have the t'shuva done by each individual. On the other hand we
have (for instance) Rav Kook's treatment of t'shuvah of the nation -
as a mystical whole - . Do we say that

a) the whole point of t'shuva is individual, and that as a result we
will all benefit, or

b) the whole point of t'shuvah is to bring the geulah, and hence the
nation (amcha) must coalesce and collectively bring this about. The
individual t'shuva is important in that it contributes to the collective

The capitalist economic system has generally won out over socialist
economic systems (cf. USSR). [Actually, my old pol. sci. prof used to say
that in the US we have socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.
That is - if Reuven Ploni is bankrupt he has to fight it out, but if
(e.g.) the airlines are about to bankrupt then Congress has to step in.)
(There's an old Tom Paxton song about this - 
  "I am changing my name to Chrysler
   I am marching down to Washington, D.C.
   I will tell those power-brokers 
   what they did for Iacocca
   will be perfectly acceptable for me"

but I digress.

At a philosophical level one may still argue both ways. This comes up
sometimes when people argue that democracy is a "Jewish" ideal (but
I could argue equally that socialism is "Jewish"). (Any other former
SDS'ers out there? Reply privately and we'll start a cell.)

Ask the question re Aishdas. Is the goal of Aishdas to help the individual
Jew better her/his relationship with HKBH and thereby benefit Jewish
society, or is the goal to benefit Jewish society - and to that end help
the individual ...


Go to top.


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