Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 057

Monday, November 26 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 10:38:43 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: Avelut/aninut

1. R'YBS held(see Nefesh Harav p253) that it's inappropriate to learn
mishnayot in the bet avel. AIUI, a common practice seems to be to
learn mishnayot even with the avel present. Is anyone aware of what
the mattir is to allow the avel to learn? (I've heard it said that he's
being passive but that seemed weak to me)

2. During aninut-is one permitted to learn halachot pertaining to one's
immediate duties as an onen? I've seen it brought dowwn with regard to
shivah but not with regard to aninut.

Shabbat Shalom,
Joel Rich

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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 08:54:43 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>

 From a cousin of mine who is not an Avodah member:
>Interesting to note that Rav Herzog ZT"L refers to him in his Teshuva
>regarding reinterring him in Eretz Yisroel as "Manhig Yisroel Hadagul
>Vehanaratz Dr. Herzl Z"L" and says that he doubts anyone in Am Yisroel loved
>his people as much as Herzl.  However although it is late and I do not have
>a clear source I doubt whether the Chazon Ish would have concurred.   But a

I previously did a search on Herzl on Bar Ilan and came up only with a few 
teshuvos in the Yabi'a Omer and PDR that concern  Rh' Herzl and reinterring 
on Har Herzl and one from the Kol Mevasser on burying Dr. Weizman on Har 
Herzl, but this teshuva did not show up - I thought RYIHH's teshuvos were 
on the BI, but perhaps not. If someone might find the teshuva, it would be 
of interest.

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 17:38:08 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Fwd: HaRav Steinberger's Shiur #5762-4

Part 3, and final installment.


"Torah UMaddah in the Thought of Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchick Zt"l
(Excerpts from an article that appeared in HaTzofeh Last Sukkot)
Part III -- Last in the Series

The Rav, despite his wish to present Torah as attractive to the academic
eye would not change the authentic style of learning inside the Yeshiva.
The academic dressing expressed itself as a separate entity in the
Rav's oeuvre (see, the comparison between him and Rav Hirsch in Part
II). Through this approach he managed to give prestige to the classical
"yeshivish" learning and encourage thousands of college graduates in the
United States and beyond to set aside time for learning. Were it not for
him, many would have related to a page of Gemara as an anachronism. Thus,
the Rav broadcasted, indirectly, a new ethos: "Be an authentic Lamdan
in your Beit Midrash, and simultaneously an intellectual outside". (A
paraphrase, but much more proud and positive than the original, which
was coined in Germany by the Reform and Enlightenment movements: "Be a
Jew at home, but a German outside"). The Torah, studied at RIETS in the
"Gemara Seder", was not any different than that in Lakewood or the Mir,
and the College there resembled any good academic institution in the USA.

In order to emphasize the separation between the "Torah" and the "Maddah"
in the Rav's approach, an interesting fact should be noted. The close
family members of the Rav usually did not enroll in YU which was headed
by him for forty years. He preferred to send them to more prestigious
universities but as far as their Torah education went, he preferred to
tutor them personally. This approach was based on two elements. First,
it constituted a continuation of the family tradition that held no Yeshiva
fitting as an alternative to the personal contact through Torah between
father and son -- grandfather and grandson. (Besides the Soloveitchick
family there were other Torah families who acted similarly. R' Meir
Simcha, the author of "Ohr Sameach", the "Chzaon Ish", Rav Herzog were
all their father's students and never attended a regular Yeshiva. By the
way, even the Gr"a never enrolled in a Yeshiva, he learnt privately by
great scholars like Rav Katzenellenbogen of Brisk). The second element
was based on the conception that if a "Talmid Chacham" should receive
a secular education, in order to appear great and influential outside,
why not the best? Thus, with all respect, the "Y" in YU would be better
achieved through a "chavrutah" with the father, and the "U" in YU could
be more prestigious at Harvard or Yale.

[This separation meant that there should not be an actual mixture between
"Torah" and "Maddah" even within the framework of YU itself, at least
not on the Halachic -- philosophical level. Pragmatically speaking,
there has been a lot of criticism against certain courses and their style
in the College and the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies
in YU. It has been said that most of the problems that characterize
the "Wisensaft" movement regarding Bible and Jewish philosophy exist in
YU. Likewise about the teaching of certain things in science, involving
evolution and courses in theater and the fine arts which presented issues
of prudence, etc. The Rav and the Ramim in Yeshiva did not say much
about these studies and it often seemed that there existed a dangerous
spiritual gap between the different worlds of the YU student.

An interesting point appears in the President of YU, Rabbi Norman Lamm's
book "Torah UMaddah" (NY 1990 p. 35). Dr. Lamm tells that in 1946 two
prominent Chareidi Roshei Yeshiva -- Rav Mendelovic of "Torah VaDaat"
and Rav Hutner of "Chaim Berlin" agreed to turn their institutions to
religious universities. Only the intervention of Rav Aharon Kotler
of Lakewood prevented the materialization of this plan. Through this
story, Dr. Lamm tries to enlist those early luminaries as supporters
of his synthesis of "Torah UMaddah". Nevertheless, the YU president
conveniently ignores the fact, that he himself mentions, that those
Yeshivot never talked about incorporating problematic courses, like
the ones mentioned above. The plan was limited to business and social
sciences. Dr. Lamm also forgets that these very Yeshivot, even today,
permit their students to study in College at night but not on their own
premises. Thus the "Tana DeMesayeah" -- supportive opinion, drawn from
this story is not that meaningful, as far as the "Derech" of YU and its
president's conception of "Torah UMaddah" are concerned.]

The combination between "Torah" and "Maddah" and its practical
implementation has always posed some serious problems. How to keep a
proper balance between the two, what are the optimal frameworks, at what
age should it start. YU has been a model of synthesis starting at the
Kindergarten level up to the Master's degree in the University. YU also
has Yeshiva high schools, and while it does not have elementary schools,
but there is a clear style of elementary education which fits the YU
concept. The old Cheider does not provide students for the higher YU
system. In other words, we are talking about a horizontal combination
between sacred and secular, from childhood till maturity. The Rav
obviously endorsed this. Not only as the Rosh Yeshiva of YU, but also as
the founder and president of the co-ed Maimonides school in Boston. (By
the way, Maimonides, is quite a liberal institution, which seems to
emphasize the "Maddah" at the expense of "Torah". Our interpretation
of the Rav's "Derech" as doing the opposite, is contradicted by the
approach of the Rav's own scholastic creation. But this question, when
voiced earlier, got a cryptic answer: Boston is different. The Rav,
apparently, considered the community of this intellectual bastion, as
a "BeDieved", as something where one must adopt a more liberal lenient
Halachic approach, lest things fail completely. The left wing groups, who
used the Rav's Boston example as proof for his supposedly liberal modern
Orthodoxy, naturally used the above example to support their own views).

Observing the Rav's biography one cannot help marvel at his awesome
achievement, on the one hand, and wondering about the possibility to
imitate him, on the other. Not just because of his genius, but mainly
because of the combination between "Torah" and "Maddah" that existed
in the life of the Rav. Rav Soloveitchick hardly started his secular
education before he had already matured into an outstanding Talmudic
prodigy in his early youth. Already as a child his name was revered as
the "Brisker Iluy" and his great paternal grandfather, R' Chaim, who
never missed an opportunity to learn "Bechavrutah" with his beloved
grandson, had forecast that R' Yoseph Dov was going to be a great
luminary (see Rakefet Volume I, ibid.). One cannot imitate such a life
pattern by combining horizontally, as it is done in the YU system, of
"Torah UMaddah". There is no resemblance whatsoever between a vertical
combination a la Rav Soloveitchick's and the current YU "Derech". How can
one who is lacking a firm, pure and holy basis of Torah in his youth,
like the one that the Rav had before going on secular studies, cope
successfully with the challenges of the secular world? [See the moving
poetic biographical descriptions of the childhood Torah experiences in
the essay -- in Hebrew -- "About love of Torah and Salvation of the
Soul of the Generation". See also "Mah Dodech Midod", where the Rav
compared his illustrious family's love of Torah to that of a happily
married couple. Other scholars, writes the Rav, loved the Torah on a
lower level. In Brisk, one was "married" to Torah, elsewhere -- just
"Betrothed -- engaged". By the way, Rabbi M. Meiselman, the Rav's
nephew claims that all those views attributed by the Rav to his uncle,
the Gr"iz, in that eulogy, actually represent his own views about Torah.
(See Tradition, Fall 1998, p. 8).] The Rambam himself, an even greater
"tree", used by the "Torah UMaddah" people, had a similar biography
of combination, like the Rav's. He had become "the Rambam", before he
acquired his medical and philosophical education (See Ribash, Responsa
45). The same could be said probably about every Gadol, who has ever
been well versed in general knowledge.

Summing it up, it is obvious that the "Derech" of the Rav has not been
simple or without some contradictions. It is certainly not a formula for
the masses of Yeshiva students. Only the very gifted, and the ones who
have experienced a positive warm exposure to Torah and its values in early
childhood, could succeed in following the Rav's "Derech" (even according
to our "right wing" interpretation). All we were trying to do here is
to bring attention to some fine points observed after having studied
the Rav's writings and collecting some biographical data. [Besides,
I had the privilege to spend some time with the Rav 25 years ago during
a summer in Boston. I attended his informal shiurim. The high point of
that visit was a three hour private audience I had with the Rav talking
to him mainly in learning. Not only had I not seen any difference
between the Rav and other Gedolim, I had had the opportunity to meet
and study with, but I could feel the unmatched love for Torah emanating
from him. He was already a very old and fragile man. Yet, when presented
with an interesting question on a certain Rambam, he listened carefully
and liking the "Sevarah" involved did not hesitate to display the kind
of enthusiasm characteristic of a young learner, as if we were peers,
he, the Gadol HaDor and I, an excited young "Avrech". Then and there,
I understood perfectly what is the behavior of a Talmid Chacham who is
"married' to the Torah.]

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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 10:35:21 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Dr. Eliezer Berkowitz and the Abrogation of the Shulchan Aruch

This past Tuesday evening I attended The HTC annual banquet and at each
of the tables was several copies of a new publication by yeshiva, a
journal of Orthodox Jewish thought consisting of faculty entries. In it,
I found an essay by R. Chaim Twerski critiquing Dr. Eliezer Berkowitz's
book "Not in Heaven - The Nature and Function of Jewish Law", a book
published in 1983.

As many of you on the list know, Dr. Berkowitz was my primary philosophy
professor (4 courses) and had a great deal of influence on my way of
thinking. Dr. Berkowitz, was a Musmach of R. Leizer Yudel Finkel, the
famed RY of Mir, and a Ph.D. recipient from the University of Berlin. He
is also known as the person primarily responsible for salvaging the
works of the Sridei Eish, R. Yechiel Weinberg, and he considers himself
R. Weinberg's disciple. Indeed he wrote a magnificent tribute of his
mentor upon the his death which was published in an early issue of
"Tradition Magazine". During his lifetime Dr. Berkowitz was considered
one of only two Orthodox Jewish philosophers extant on the Jewish scene,
the other being RYBS.

Never having read the book, I was curious about the article.

R. Twerski proceeded to state the main elements of Dr. Berkowitz's
thesis and I was amazed at the extent of the departure from mainstream
Orthodoxy his views really were. In essence he adopted the view of the
Conservative movement that Halacha could easily change. What makes this
view so unusual is that Dr. Berkowitz considered himself Orthodox.
He rejected the Conservative theology which denies the divine origin of
the Torah , the Torah only being divinely inspired. (This of course leaves
the Conservative movement much room to maneuver and change Halacha as
needed since ultimately the Torah was written by Man, divinely INSPIRED
though he was, and subject to error.) Dr Berkowitz's held to the
Orthodox theology that the Torah is of Divine origin. Never-the-less,
as R. Twerski points out in the essay, Dr. Berkowitz, right along with
the Conservative clergy, claims that it can be altered quite readily.

In this Dr. Berkowitz stands alone and it is quite shocking for me to
have read the outline of his ideas in R. Twerski's critique.

I will repeat Dr. Berkowitz's arguments here and am interested in hearing
(seeing) discussion and debate as to the legitimacy of these views or
the refutation thereof. Obviously if there is anyone on the list who has
read his last and most controversial book, I would be interested to hear
from you and your take, defending or refuting Dr. Berkowitz's ideas.

The following are Dr. Berkowitz's principles which he elicits from the
Talmud and are taken from R. Twerski's critique:

A) The Halacha is meant to viewed from the subjective truth of the human
perspective and not from the Divine objective Truth.

B) Both minority and majority opinions are equally valid, since
objective Truth is of no concern to the Halacha. That is to say that
majority opinions are valid even if it veers from the objective truth.
Minority opinions can be followed in later generations in instances
where it's logic or where practical considerations render the minority
opinion more reasonable than the majority opinion.

C) A judge is instructed to render his rulings according to the
dictates of his own intellect and not necessarily to the intellect
of his predecessors. He is thus free to disregard the rulings of his
predecessors if his intellect compels him to disagree.

D) The Halachic authority may uproot and overturn Biblical laws if the
situation calls for it.

E) When needed, authorities have the power to abrogate a minor law in
order to uphold a major one.

F) Certain situations are so unique that no previous law can govern
the situation and a Haroas Sha'ah (law of the hour) will be dictated by
common sense.

I repeat, Dr. Berkowitz's elicits these ideas from the Talmud.

Dr Berkowitz further contends that the codification of Torah SheBal Peh
(oral law) is an aberration of it's essential nature, an imposition
created by historical exigencies, compounded by the destruction of Bayis
Sheni. He claims that Judaism in Galus is a confrontation of Torah
and reality in which preservation of Halacha in adverse situations is
the primary concern. The codification therefore is nothing more than
an exercise in the preservation of Judaism itself and as conditions
in Galus became more adverse, Halacha became more restrictive and
defensive binding itself to a text, as self-preservation became the
primary goal. He further claims with the advent of the State of Israel
and therefore in control of our own destiny, we no longer need the oral
law codified but rather we should attempt to return it to it's pristine
stage of being just that... oral.

R. Twerski does a masterful job in critiquing Dr. Berkowitz which I
am not going to go into because this post is long enough. But I would
love to see a debate by the many scholars on Avodah on the merits of Dr.
Berkowitz's arguments, especially those who have read his works.


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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 13:43:00 -0500
From: "David Glasner" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Re: Dor Revi'i (b'sheim aviv ha-gaon) on Ya'akov's dream

va-yeitzei Ya'akov mi-B'eir Sheva va-yeilekh Haranah va-yiphga
ba-makom va-yalen sham ki va ha-shemesh . . . v'hayah ha-Shem 
li lei-lokim: 

The Gemara explains the words "and Ya'akov went out from B'eir 
Sheva, and went towards Haran.  And he lighted upon the place" 
(va-yiphga ba-makom) as follows: "when he arrived at Haran, 
Ya'akov said, "is it possible that I passed by the place at which my 
fathers prayed (i.e., Mount Moriah) without praying there as well?"  
When he set his mind to return (kad yahiv da'ateih li-m'hedar) the 
land leapt for him (i.e. his journey was miraculously shortened), 
and immediately he lighted upon the place.  After he prayed, he 
wanted to return.  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, íthis 
righteous one has come to my inn and is it right that he should 
leave without sleeping?'  The sun set immediately."

My father, my teacher, my master, the gaon of blessed memory 
(R. Avraham Glasner, 1826-78) explained that Ya'akov, who had 
been ensconced for fourteen years in the academy of Sheim and 
Eiver, had longed to study the Torah so passionately that he 
despised all worldly activities and had only grudgingly complied with 
the commandment of his parents that he travel to Lavan's house to 
marry and become involved in mundane activities.  So the Gemara 
tells us that as soon as Ya'akov arrived in Haran after passing by 
the Divine mountain, the place dedicated to prayer by Avraham and 
Yitzhak, he said, "is it possible that when I was immersed in Torah in 
the academy of Sheim and Eiver that I could have passed by such a 
holy place without feeling its holiness?"  And because he had just 
passed by Mount Moriah without feeling its holiness, Ya'akov decided 
that his intention of going to Lavan's house to become involved in 
mundane matters was not right, for that intention had already shown 
its effect: to profane him and to separate him from his attachment to 
what is holy.  He therefore set his mind to return to the academy of 
Sheim and Eiver, because only there could he be "a plain man, abiding 
in tents" (ish tam, yosheiv ohalim).  For what would he accomplish by 
engaging in worldly pursuits that would only detract from his holiness?  
Ya'akov was immediately transported back to Mount Moriah and he 
prayed.  When he finished, he wanted to return, i.e., return to the 
academy of Sheim and Eiver.  He immediately fell asleep there, because 
the sun had set (va-yalen sham ki va ha-shemesh), and then the Holy 
One Blessed Be He showed Ya'akov that his intention to return to the 
academy was not right.  For to separate oneself entirely from the 
valuables of the world and to be involved only in reflection is not the 
function of man in this world.  To be involved in reflection only is the 
calling of an angel that has no evil inclination.  But a human being 
perfects himself by living in a community and rejoicing, as the Torah 
permits, in the temporal life.  In this way one fills the commandment "to 
know Him in all your ways" (b'khol d'rakheka da'eihu), thereby uniting 
body and soul.  This was the message of the dream "and behold a 
ladder set up on earth" (v'hineih sulam mutzav artzah).  The ladder 
symbolizes man in this world, the world of action, because, at each 
moment, he is either ascending or descending, going either to a higher 
level or a lower level.  Although the primary place and condition of 
man is on the ground ("mutzav artzah"), but his head may reach the 
heavens ("v'rosho magia ha-shamayimah"), for one is required to use 
this world as a preparation for the next one, as we are told "prepare 
yourself in the vestibule so that you may enter the banquet hall" 
(Avot 4:21).  The phrase "and behold angels of G-d going up and 
down on it" means that angels at first stand on a higher level than 
man, but they may be surpassed by a complete person who fulfills 
his obligation to know G-d in all his ways.  As the Gemara here 
(Hulin 91b) explains, Israel is more precious than angels to the Holy 
One Blessed Be He.  And should you say that this test is too difficult, 
for who can survive a battle with the evil inclination if he does not 
enclose himself within the four cubits of the law, that is why Ya'akov 
was shown that "the Eternal stood above him" (ha-Sheim nitzav alav) 
that is, to watch over him.  And when Ya'akov awoke he said, "how 
fearful is this place" (mah nora ha-makom ha-zeh) by which he meant 
that this path that he was directed to follow * to join the two opposites 
in order to unify and perfect himself * is awesome and perilous.  Ya'akov 
continued, "this is none other than the house of G-d" (ein zeh ki im beit 
Elokim), which means that his ultimate goal must be to unify his heart to 
his Heavenly Father, "and this is the gate to Heaven" (v'zeh sha'ar 
ha-shamayim), which means that the way to achieve this goal is to follow 
the path on which I have started to Haran * to mary a wife and to tend 
the sheep of Lavan.  The path is awesome and perilous, for who knows 
if I will merit to achieve my goal.  Ya'akov therefore vowed his vow: "If 
G-d will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give 
me bread to eat, and a garment to put on, So that I return to my 
father's house in peace and the Eternal shall be my G-d, then this stone 
which I have put for a pillar shall be G-d's house: and all that Thou shalt 
give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee."

David Glasner

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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 13:51:49 -0500
From: "David Glasner" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Re: Dor Revi'i on va-yiqah mei-avnei ha-maqom

va-yikah mei-avnei ha-makom . . . va-yikah et ha-even:  

The Tosafot wrote (Hulin 91b) that the simple explanation is not that 
Ya'akov took many stones which were miraculously combined into a 
single stone, but that he took one stone from the stones of the place.  
However, if that were the proper interpretation, it would be difficult to understand why Hazal deduced from the verse that all the stones 
gathered into one place, and each one said "let this righteous one lay 
his head upon me."  The most reasonable interpretation would have 
been that he took that one stone that he had taken earlier, not that 
there had been a miraculous combining of many stones.  But it appears 
to my poor judgment, that Hazal did not deduce that a miracle had 
occurred because they saw any contradiction between the verses.  
Rather, they were troubled that since there had been many stones 
available, since it is written "he took from the stones of the place" 
(va-yikah mei-avnei ha-makom), why did Ya'akov specifically take that 
stone upon which he had laid his head, a stone that had been put to a 
mundane use.  It would have been more appropriate to have taken a 
stone that had never been used by anyone, which would be greater 
homage to Heaven.  They therefore deduced that the stones of the 
place gathered together and were miraculously transformed into a 
single stone, so that no others were left.  And the proof that this is 
so is that if the basis for the deduction were, as is usually supposed, 
a contradiction between the two verses, why was it said that all the 
stones of the place gathered together?  Was it not Ya'akov who took 
some stones and arranged them as a kind of border around his head, 
as Rashi comments on the verse in the Torah.  And if so, it was only 
those stones that had been selected already by Ya'akov that were 
arguing.  So it must be as we have explained it that all the stones of 
the place were arguing and were transformed into a single stone.  And 
according to the Kabbalists who say that these stones were from the 
altar upon which Yitzhak had been bound by Avraham, all the stones 
desired that Ya'akov should lay his head upon them. And one could say 
that Ya'akov was inspired to use that stone as a pillar owing to his 
modesty, because he did not believe himself to be sufficiently holy for 
the stones to have been arguing for his sake and that a miracle was 
then performed to transform then into a single stone.  He instead 
attributed the argument and the miracle to the desire of the stones 
that to be part of the pillar that they anticipated that he was going to 
set up.  And in this Aggadah I would explain in a pleasant way 
Ya'akov's words "and this stone which I set up as a pillar shall be G-d'sh
 ouse."  See the commentaries of Rashi and the Ramban.  According to 
what has been said previously, one could say that a pillar was 
prohibited when the Torah was given, as it is written, "thou shalt not 
set up for thyself a pillar" (lo takum lekha matzeivah).  But the Sages 
said that although a pillar was beloved in the time of the Patriarchs it 
was despised later, because the idolaters prescribed it as the 
procedure for offering sacrifices.  But this is very difficult, because 
the idolaters built so many altars, as it is written "and ye shall uproott
 heir altars" (v'nitzatem et mizb'hotam), (Deuteronomy 12:3) and we 
see that Bilam built many altars, and the entire procedure of offering 
a sacrifice was followed in idolatry, as it is written "so that they shouldn
 ot sacrifice further to the satyrs" (l'ma'an lo yizb'hu od la-s'irim), and it 
is also written "and they will eat the sacrifices of the dead and drink thew
 ine of their libations."  So there was no difference between our 
method of sacrifice and theirs except that they were sacrificing to 
demons and not to the Deity, while we were sacrificing to Heaven to 
the blessed Ein Sof, and with the intent that was prescribed by the 
Torah.  And if so, what was the difference between a pillar and any 
other altar?  But the difference, as Rashi explains, between a pillar anda
 n altar is that a pillar is a single stone and an altar is made up of manys
 tones, so that, according to what has been said here that all the stonesw
 ere combined into one, the pillar that Ya'akov set up really had the 
status of an altar, not a pillar, because it was made up of many stones. Y
 a'akov therefore said, "this stone that I have set up as a pillar will bef
 itting to be the House of G-d even after the Torah is given."  And in 
truth, a pillar was always despised by G-d, because of some hidden 
reason, but Ya'akov's pillar was different because it was like an altar. v
 'dok ki hu kaftor va-pherah b'siyata di-shemaya.

David Glasner

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Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 13:56:18 -0500
From: "David Glasner" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Re: Dor Revi'i on va-tiqra sh'mo r'uvein

 From the Dor Revi'i website (as were the previous two postings)

va-tahar Lei'ah va-teiled bein va-tikra sh'mo r'u'vein ki amrah ra'ah
ha-Shem b'onyi:

Rashi comments that our Sages explained that she said, "see (r'u) the
difference between (bein) my son and my father-in-law's son who himself
sold his birthright to Ya'akov and yet wished to kill him afterwards.
This one (my son) did not sell it (his birthright) to Yoseif , yet
he did not raise any protest to his being regarded as the first-born,
and not only did he not raise a protest but he even wished to take him
out of the pit and so rescue him from death" (Berahot 7b). And the
question arises what prompted the Sages to interpret the name R'u'vein
in this way and why they did not accept the explicit explanation of the
Scripture that she named him R'u'vein because G-d saw her affliction.

And it appears to our master that whereas the names of all the other sons
of Ya'akov are recorded only after the reason for the name is given,
here the Scripture first records the name and then provides the reason
for the name. So it must be that Lei'ah had another hidden reason,
which she did not want to reveal. And that is the reason given by our
Sages: "see the difference between my son and my father-in-law's son."
But she was not permitted to disclose this reason, just as Yitzhak
was not permitted to disclose to Ya'akov what had happened to Yoseif.
She therefore had to state a different reason for the name, which is
the one recorded by the Scripture.

[see also porashat sh'mot on va-tomer mi-yaldei ha-ivrim zeh]

David Glasner

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Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 23:57:38 +0200
From: "D. and E-H. Bannett" <dbnet@barak-online.net>
Zikhrono/zikhro livrakha

R' Carl asks: << the non-fruhm media here say "zichro l'bracha" rather
than "zichrono l'bracha." Why? I have no idea.... >>

I think that zikhro just makes more sense or, to be polite, is more in
line with modern usage in the language. True, the two words zeicher and
zikkaron are close in meaning.

Note that we say zeikher l'ma'asei bereishit and also zikkaron l'ma'asei
b'reishit. But, nowadays at least, the difference in meaning is the
difference between memorial and memory.

Zikhro, coming from zeikher, means "his zeicher", so we are wishing that
our memory of him shall be a b'rakha. This is a memorial.

Zikhrono is from zikkaron, memory, the ability to remember or forget,
So zikhrono livrakha means today: "may his ability to remember be a
brakha". This is not what zikhrono livrakha was meant to mean originally.

Do we say zeikher tzaddik livrakha or zikhron tzaddik livrakha??
Would you think it made good sense if saying "zikhron tzaddik livrakha"
became a habit and common usage?

The use of zikhro is not limited, as R' Carl stated, to the non-fruhm. I
suppose that R' Seth would say it is Yiddish and not Hebrew. But
then, even among Avodah members, many do not seem to be familiar with
non-Ashkenazic customs and do not realize that not all Israeli Jews have
a Yiddish background.


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Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 03:16:15 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: Avelut/aninut

On 23 Nov 01, at 10:38, Joelirich@aol.com wrote:
> 1. R'YBS held(see Nefesh Harav p253) that it's inappropriate to learn
> mishnayot in the bet avel. AIUI, a common practice seems to be to
> learn mishnayot even with the avel present. Is anyone aware of what
> the mattir is to allow the avel to learn? (I've heard it said that he's
> being passive but that seemed weak to me)

In most places that I have been what has been learned is Ailu M'galchin
with the idea that since it is nogea to the aveil l'maase it's mutar
for him to hear.

-- 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.

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Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2001 15:08:19 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Did the Rambam trump himself

From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@ymail.yu.edu>
> The only principle of faith that Rambam claimed to prove on the basis
> of logic (and I'm not sure how "human" logic differs from logic) is
> existence of G-d (& scholars debate even that).

I believe that Rambam's definition of a'hdut haBore & noncorporeality
to be philosophically derived. Those who keep tabs may have noticed that
this is the only ikkar on which I posted, mentioning as a normative but
differing position the various inyterpretations of 10 sefirot.

Arie Folger

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Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 21:02:30 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Ikkarim as Halakha?

In a message dated 11/20/2001 12:35:38pm EST, afolger@ymail.yu.edu writes:
> As I mentioned in my post, ikkarim are predominantly concerned with
> elementary absolute truth, which is itself not subject to psak, since
> it either is or isn't truth. 

Wrong the ikkarim are the sine qua non contra very specfic heresies suc has 
Xtianity Islam and Karaism

They are what makes Rabbinistic Jews Rabbnistic.  It really has nothing 
reictly to do with anything else.  It is based upon Sanhedrin 99a re: what is 
an apikoros and how that manifests in a world that other religions CLAIMED to 
be based in the Torah and this is the Rambam's response.  the entire universe 
of Rabbinistic Jews pretty much agreeed that this formula was definitive, 
more was unnecesary, less was insufficeint.  The only differences are 
quibbles such as 
Torah MSUT be miSinai.  Details are in flux - as in every OS
that ONLY HKBH should be praised.  Whether intervening Mal'achim are OK. IOW, 
is it OK to say machnisei Rachamim even with a disclaimer of Maran Divihsmaya 
lach mischaneinan afterwords as a disclaimer or not?

Unfortuantely the Ikkarim have evolved (revisionistically perhaps) to become 
something else.  They are essential to understand how an Oservant Jew for J 
is outside the pale, or why a rabbi cannot darshen his own Torah and ignore 
the Massorah as Karaism allows, etc.

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 23:05:07 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Ikkarim as Halakha?

On Sunday 25 November 2001 21:02, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
>   ... the ikkarim are the sine qua non contra very specfic heresies suc has
> Xtianity Islam and Karaism

> They are what makes Rabbinistic Jews Rabbnistic.  It really has nothing
> reictly to do with anything else.  It is based upon Sanhedrin 99a re: what
> is an apikoros and how that manifests in a world that other religions
> CLAIMED to be based in the Torah and this is the Rambam's response....

Could you please elaborate on the following:
Rambam fases his ikkarim in absolute terms, and intentionally so. When
there are disagreements about the exact nature of the ikkarim, even as
we agree on the general idea, are we not saying that
	* yes there are ikkarei emuna, and 
	* yes, if identified, they could be the basis for branding
	  somebody an apikores, but 
	* they are not the Rambam's ikkarim, and 

because of that, many of the to the Rambam important details, are no
longer part of the ikkarim, because massorah of other rishonim disagrees
with Rambam?

I will quote from a previous post of mine:
    "I believe that Rambam's definition of a'hdut haBore & noncorporeality
    to be philosophically derived. Those who keep tabs may have noticed
    that this is the only ikkar on which I posted, mentioning as a
    normative but differing position the various interpretations of
    10 sefirot."

I believe that there is ample support among the "cannonized" rishonim
who were kabbalists, to understand the notion of a'hdut haBore and
His noncorporeality in terms that are significantly different from the
Rambam, and therefore, I believe that it is reasonable to state that
those ikkarim [as stated by Rambam] were not accepted. You should also
check out the Sefer Shiur Komah, which enjoyed/enjoys considerable support
among kabbalists. Rambam has a tshuvah where he wrote that he never even
believed it (evidence to the contrary from a certain manuscript of perush
hamishnayot notwithstanding), however, kabbalists feel very attached to
it and ascribe its contents the status of supreme secrets. Seemingly,
it discusses the dimensions of the Boreh; extremly corporeal! There are
interpretations to make it less problematic, but it is hard to explain
the corporeality issue completely away unless one takes a less extreme
definition of noncorporeality than Rambam. Kabbalists will tell you that
the dimesions are spiritual, etc., but all that is impossible according to
Rambam who considers it logically impossible to talk about dimensions of
G-d. So here you have a book which has been around for 1500-2000 years
that enjoys considerable support among some highly regarded gedolim,
that is pure heresy according to Rambam. The work still enjoys support,
so you cannot make the statement that the ikkarim have been paskened
upon and accepted universally as Rambam understood them.

This is not to say that according to the kabbalists one may believe that
G-d could have a son and became incarnate in him. 'Has milhazkir. I merely
am pointing out that the ikkarei emuna as accepted are not Rambam's,
even though they resemble Rambam, and therefore, the Yad ha'hazakah,
Perush hamishnayot and the Moreh cannot act as the final arbiter in the
interpretation of the ikkarim.

I thought that, since rav Yossef Albo came up with his 3 ikkarim because
of the confusion we are dealing with, that his ikkarim were more workable
for distinguishing the heretic from the one who has possibly the wrong
beliefs (or possibly the right ones, depnding on the specific belief) than
Rambam's ikkarim. However, if you propose to keep to 13 ikkarim and simply
reinterpret them in a way that Rambam would barely recognize them, and do
so with regard to the multitude of conflicting but possibly acceptable
(definitely not heretic defining) shitot harishonim on a variety of
ikkarim related topics, then feel free to do so, but do confirm/deny this.

P.S.: your previous reply on this, about poems, psuedepigraphy etc. was
funny. You didn't really believe that there is no significant support
for disagreements on the ikkar re: a'hdut and corporeality, did you?

Arie Folger

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Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 07:48:47 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
FW: zaddik (Rav Saadya)

with Regard to Rav Saadia Gaon, RYGB wrote
> The RSG is exactly my ra'ayah - he says there that tzaddik and rasha here
> are used just as we use the term "hot" to describe a substance that is
> relatively warmer than another substance, even if it is not truly "hot",
> and, vice versa, for rosho, we use the term cold to describe a cooler
> substance even if it is not absolutely "cold".

Hu asher dibarti lei'mor.

BMKVT, I find this strange.

The discussion is whether the term zaddik refers solely to some absolute
notion (as RMB notes, One last nequdah: Tzidqus (as used in this context)
is an absolute.), or instead to a more relative notion.

In rav saadya, there is no absolute notion of zidkut (the closest is
a shalem or zaddik gamur, which is still a far cry from the notion of
absolute zidkut promulgated here.
     For him, all of humanity (including Moshe rabbenu) is part of a
continuum, and one's place on the continuum is determined by one's

One can change one's place by changing one's actions. Whoever is at a
certain place of the continuum is called a zaddik. It isn't that this is
zaddik bedino versus zaddik, Rav Saadya seems to lack this absolute notion
of zidkut, and is therefore highly relevant to the current discussion.

RYGB writes about my citation of RAYK
> True, RAYHK called the chalutzim's strivings glimmerings of teshuva

BMKVT, RAYK is far more radical than that, and ascribes to the actions
of the chalutzim far more value than glimmerings of tshuva.

first, the famous passage in Orot (Orot hatechiya, chapter 43) hanefesh
shel poshe yisrael shebeikvata dimeshicha, otam shehem mithabrim beahava
el inyane clal yisrael, leeretz yisrael velitehiyat hauma, hi yoter
metukenet mehanefesh shel shlome emune yisrael.

(he does differentiate between the nefesh and the ruach, but this is
not quite mere glimmerings of tshuva)

With regard to the discussion about the requirement of kavana, and
leshem shamayim, again, this is not rav Kook's position. Many places,
but one that quickly summarizes this is brought from Aviezer Ravitsky,
Messianism, ZIonism and Jewish radicalism, p. 113 - no direct citation
is given to where from Rav Kook it is taken)

We need never lament the lack of mention of the divine in the achievement
of social justice, for we know that the asapiration to justice, whatever
form it may take, represents in itself the most radiant divine influence.
[Consequently], while [the protagonists] may believe that the good they
accomplish is contrary to the Torah, it is in fact of its very essence.

lastly one passage from arpiley tohar , p. 37(translated by Ish Shalom,
Rav Avrahahm Itzhak Hacohen Kook, between Rationalism and Mysticism, p. 95

Every positive attribute and manner of living is part of the Torah,
and every wisdom originates in Torah, and every good quality in man
and community shines with the name of God, but there is a difference
between he who knows that all is light sparkling with the name of God
and he who does not know. Yet this difference of knowledge is only
a matter of degree, and really depends on the inward point of will,
to what extent it is verified to the good.

RYGB may wish to join the illustrious group of those who objected to
ascribing religious value beyond the conscious intentions of the doer,
but let us be clear about RAYK's position.

lastly, with regard to herzl personally, RZY Kook wrote (brought in
likute haraya vol 3 p. 477, from linetivot yisrael part 2 p 60 in the
writing fo binyamin herzl z"l, there are no words of epikorsut. In his
diary it is written "our nation is only a nation because of its faith".

Who thinks, talks and writes in this fashion is a man of faith and
not an epikoros,, And these these things come back to the holiness of
his descent , from the gaon hakaddosh rav yosef taytatzak z"l. One can
argue with the historical accuracy of the assessment of Herzl's personal
spirituality/ religiosity. However, many shlome emune yisrael had a
very high appreciation of his personality, including the RAA Kaplan, and
is indicated by the large number of children who were named herzl within
religious (and rabbinic families). I therefore am still unable to fathom
the depths of opposition to the use of a simple, widely used honorific.

Meir Shinnar

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