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Volume 08 : Number 114

Sunday, February 17 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 14:09:26 -0500
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
Re: Segulos

Micha Berger wrote:
> As I tried to explain before, there is an inherent difference between
> physical and metaphysical causality that makes the answer work
> for the first, but not the latter.

> 1- Physical causality aids in hester panim. Metaphysical causality is a
> ra'ayah that there is Something beyond the chushim.

There's no more reason that there should be a law describing how
cannonballs move than a law describing how curses work. Both or neither
imply the existence of God - I don't see how you can logically distinguish
them. The difference is cultural. We live in a materialistic culture
(we are trained to believe only in what we see) which accepts physical
laws but denies any reason they should exist. My guess is that if we
started developing a technology based on kishuf the magical engineers
would wholeheartedly deny that it had any religious implications.

> This is the Ramban's reason for why it was fair that "hikhbadti es leiv
> Par'oh". Because otherwise the makos would have been undo influence
> toward tov.

No! A miracle is not something that violates physical law - it is
something that was assigned religious significance by a navi. It is not a
proof of God's existence. Pharoh needed help to avoid being intimidated,
not to avoid being convinced.

<2- Since we can not fully know these metaphysical laws of [non-]nature,>

a. do you fully know physical laws?
b. why can't you fully know miraculous laws?
In both cases you do the best you can with partial information (that's
why God made statisticians).

David Riceman

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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 15:42:52 EST
From: RaphaelIsaacs@aol.com
Re: lehadliq ner shel shabat qodesh

>Has any one ever seen the word qodesh added to the end of the berakhah
>for lighting Shabbat candles.
>All sources I've seen say lehadliq ner shel Shabbat.

Nusach Ari (Chabad) has the word "Qodesh" at the end of the Bracha.

Then again, Nusach Ari is by far the most radical in terms of
Candle-Lighting Brachos. On Rosh Hashana, the nusach is "L'hadlik Ner
Shel Yom HaZiqaron"!

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Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 11:42:00 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: distinction between dayyanut and rabbanut

RGS wrote:
> Correct. See the Pischei Teshuvah on Choshen Mishpat 7:4 that makes
> the same distinction.

Huh? He makes a distinction between a dayan on a beit din and a dayan
acting alone (which you probably connected to rabbanut). That is not a
distinction of who is strictly speaking fit for dayan, but rather whether
said individual has the maturity and experience to be a dayan, and even
more so if he is to act as a dan ye'hidi. IOW, if the city appointed
a 13 year old, and that kid knows his stuff (no o'eh bidvar mishnah),
his din is binding in said city. However, such appointment is unwise
and should be avoided.

Our speculation, as to whether women would be excluded from the rabbinate
but not the dayyanate, thus explaining that Devorah was a Shofetet but
not rabbanit, is not supported by the PT you refered to. Furthermore,
there is no mention of Devorah being a member of a beit din, so I would
assume she is more akin to a dan ye'hidi. Moreover, even if she were
on a panel, she would have been the av beit din (as she was the chief),
and I see no reason to differentiate between av beit din and dan ye'hidi,
espescially since the PT's justification of young dayyanim relies on the
other dayyanim's correct judgement, which is less obvious if the ABD is
not mature or knowledgeable enough.

Arie Folger

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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 23:08:47 -0500
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: Halachic methodology and chalav hakompanies

R' Arie Folger wrote <<< I have not ever heard of a gezeirah that was
nitpashet in one area but not in another. >>>

And in Avodah 8:113, Rabbi Rich Wolpoe responded <<< Kitniyos / Cheirem
derabbeinu Gershom / both are post Talmudic >>>

Yes, they are post-Talmudic, But I thought they were in the category of
Minhag, not of Gezerah. I have not been following this thread too closely,
so if they have already been established as gezeros, then please ignore
this post.

Rabbi Wolpoe has brought in an awful lot of lomdus which is way over
my head. I've been looking through the thread, trying to find where
these terms are defined. Perhaps it was in there, but I didn't notice
it. My understanding is that a "minhag" is a "way of acting"; a person
(or group of people) takes it upon himself. A "gezerah", in contrast, is
imposed on the group from the outside. I don't know where anyone would
get the authority to do that, other than a Beis Din (or maybe even an
individual) of semuchim.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 14:27:46 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Halachic methodology and chalav hakompanies

In a message dated 2/13/02 11:30:20am EST, afolger@ymail.yu.edu wrote:
:> I disagree on two points.
:> First, lomdut is not in order to rationalize nullifying the gezeirah,
:> and lomdut is dochak, it is no less an attempt to discover the historical
:> circumstances under which the gezeirah was promulgated than your attempt
:> to find the areas that historically did not accept a certain gezeirah.

On Thu, Feb 14, 2002 at 10:01:31AM -0500, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote
in reply:
: Frankly I don't get this distinctoin 

I think this is why this thread has gone on so long without resolution.

You agreed months ago that there is little indication from the text
of Tosafos that they set out to be meyasheiv minhag Ashkenaz. In fact,
the handful of places where they do end up with such a masqanah would
not argue that this was the motivation behind their work.

Now you're doing the same thing to lomdus, but in the reverse. Do you
see a single R' Chaim in which he says that he made this chiluq in order
to justify leaving minhag Vilozhin? Aren't the majority of his chiluqim
totally irrelevent to halachic lem'aseh?

:> Second, I have not ever heard of a gezeirah that was intpashet in one area
:> but not in another.

: Kitniyos
: Cheirem derabbeinu Gershom

Those of us learning C"M with the limud yomi program learned today
(1:5) about the use of nidui in cases where other the ba'al din really
deserves payment but it's a qenas and the case is outside E"Y. Nidui is
not considered tevi'as qenas, despite the similarity of effect.

It would seem suspect, therefore, to compare CdG, being a cheirem,
with actual gizrei din.

As for kitniyos, I'm inclined to agree with RAM. On Thu, Feb 14, 2002
at 11:08:47PM -0500, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
} Yes, they are post-Talmudic, But I thought they were in the category of
} Minhag, not of Gezerah.

Even though I'm putting CdG in its own category, I agree with RAM on
this part.

BAck to RRW:
: But YOU have proven YOUR point. That is if you choose to ignore the
: facts in favor of theory, then you can overlook the self-same point
: that a gzeira exists in one community and not another. But you CHOOSE
: to overlook the community and rely upon "lamdus" But you have to aks
: how it came about Rema agrees withTosfaos Lamuds and SA on the pashut
: pshat in Gmara and Seph. Rishonim.

OTOH, you choose to ignore the sefarim for practice!

Months later, you're still writing like it's minhag vs inovation rather
than a spectrum of opinions on the relative weights of the mimetic
minhag (toras imecha) vs the textual mesorah (Toras avicha) as expounded
by the ba'alei mesorah.

: Q: What drives this obvious oversight?

: A: if not <<www.chumrahoftheday.god>> how about another politically
: correct albeit historically inaccurate model for udnerstanding how
: Halachah was arived at instead of the way it really was arrived
: at? --smile--

I thought the historical school was a different movement's approach to
their "halachah".

I say this not to be hateful, but to point out how alien I am finding
things here. RRW's proposal boils down to giving more weight to theories
about the historical origins of a din than to lomdus -- including both
the reasons given in sefarim as to their point (e.g. Tosafos' motive)
as well as the reasons given in later sefarim qua lomdus (the alleged
"fig leaf", see below).

:> You find that with minhag and with local takkanot
:> (that may later develop into universal ones, such as 'haramim of RGS,
:> butnot gezeirot. On the contrary, one of the things that the nitpashet
:> vs. lo nitpashet rule of the gemarah (I believe elaborated in TB AZ
:> WRT shemen shel nokhrim) tries to achieve, is that the gezeirah should
:> be universal.

: Circular. of course in Bavel that was required to be true. but Bavel
: had NO WAY to measure universality in pther places

I see your proposal to be the circular one. If a minhag is perpetuated,
we can assume that someone had pasqened that it's din even though we
have no such source. OTOH, if a minhag is ended, it must have never been
nispasheit across that community.

The din justifies making assumptions about the justification of the din.

: The Lamuds is a fig leaf. We KNOW that any poseik can find 49 reasons
: to be metaher nad 49 reasons to be metamei

Are you saying that the ba'alei mesorah who place less value in minhag
are doing so to manipulate din to get some desired result? Doesn't lamdus
come from the dinim that are known, and exists to provide motivation
for those that aren't?

RRW is taking an approach to lomdus that I firmly disagree with. He's
phrasing it at least as through lomdus were motivated by an effort to
manipulate din. Chas vechalilah!

Rather, lomdus is a way of creating a theory by which we understand the
din. A unifying concept. Then, given that theory, we can better know
how to extend that din to a new context.

This ought not be confused with a second issue, which is how various
rabbanim consider situations for which the masses seem to follow a single
approach, but there is no formal rabbinic resolution known.

Yes, those who are inclined to give less weight to common practice are
therefore more likely to see these situations as ones in which the formal
resolutions need to be extended. And therefore will hold by the answer
suggested by the lomdus rather than the minhag Yisrael.

Continuing with RAM's response to RRW:
}     My understanding is that a "minhag" is a "way of acting"; a person
} (or group of people) takes it upon himself.

Perhaps, but there is a role of beis din in a minhag. Hilchos Mamrim
2:2-2:3 refers to a beis din that "hinhigu minhag". I suggested that
they endorse a norm already being practiced rather than takanos which
they craft themselves.

}                                             A "gezerah", in contrast, is
} imposed on the group from the outside.

A gezeirah is only one kind of takanah -- that which was created to avoid
violation of an issur through accident or habit. Takanos can also be done
to preserve a meaning of a mitzvah, commemorate a post-chumash event
(e.g. Chanukah, I'll leave Purim alone so as to avoid divrei soferim
issues), or to enforce some point HQBH made aggadically.

For example, shehiyah is a gezierah -- shema yachteh bigechalim. It also
can only be a gezeirah because only gezeiros can be assur doing nothing.
OTOH, the Rambam holds that chazarah is a din derabbanan (thereby
opening the door to gezeiros that protect one from chazarah). Chazarah
was assured because it has a gefeel of cooking, not because one might
accidentally cook.


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 23:52:12 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@zahav.net.il>
Re: Kesav Ashuris

Well, the discussion here is very interesting, so I asked an expert
Assyriologist for the source/history of Ktav Ashurit.

Apparently, "Ktav Ashurit" is the Hebrew translation of the Greek name of
this writing. It seems that Hellenists treated the areas we know as Aram,
Ashur, Bavel as the same area and many times lumped them as "Assyria".

As for the original usage -- it was the ancient Aramaic alphabet and
was in use by them.

Shoshana L. Boubli (nee Skaist)

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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 01:03:53 -0500
From: "Joseph Mosseri" <JMosseri@msn.com>
Re: re:lehadliq ner shel shabat qodesh

From: "Elazar M Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
> The addition of the word "kodesh" is a Chabad minhag.  It is said only
> when it is the last word of the b'racha; when a chag falls out on
> Shabbat, they say "l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat v'Yom Tov," since adding the
> word "kodesh," which is not matbe'a shetav'u chachamim, would be a
> hefsek, while on a regular Shabbat it amounts to just saying an extra
> word after the b'racha has been completed.

I'm sorry but I do not understand this.

How and why is the word qodesh considered an addition that is not part
of the language that the Rabbis laid down when it comes to Yom Tob. But
if it's only Shabbat it is ok and not a hosafah or a hefseq?

Please clarify.

Shabbat shalom,

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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 14:47:44 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Kesav Ashuris

On Thu, Feb 14, 2002 at 12:35:51PM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: Do we understand that not only the letters, but also the words and sentences
: read forward? How is this one nes?

I thought of a better way to explain why I think the two phenomena were
aspects of the same neis.

When something is carved all the way through, you can look through the
hole and see the other side. But this hole didn't obey geometry, so
the shape of the hole on the other side was not the mirror image. And
also, as RDR comments, the hole would not be located where expected,
but in the proper location for reading the other direction.

Which means that someone who would look through the holes would not
see what someone who looks through any other set of all-the-way-through
holes would see.

What would he see, a mirror image of the objects of the other side of
the luchos, as the scene goes through the same reversal that un-mirrored
the hole itself?


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 16:44:08 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Moshiach ben Yosef

This started as an offline discussion, but I'm moving it to Avodah.

Simcha Klagsburn asked:
>Does anyone have a verified first mention of MBY?

I don't know if this is the first time, but he is mentioned in Sukkah 52b.
I just did a Bar Ilan search and was surprised that this is the only place
in Mishnah, Tosefta, Bavli and Yerushalmi that he is mentioned explicitly.
There could be other implicit mentions.

Eruvin 43b talks about the Moshiach coming spontaneously and asks how
that could happen if Eliyahu had not already come. No mention of Moshiach
ben Yosef.

In midrashim, there is a mention in Tanchuma (Bereishis 1:1), Eliyahu
Rabbah 18, Yalkut Shimoni (1 Melachim 208; Zechariah 569, 581; Tehillim
621), and in some modern collections (Otzar HaMidrashim Eisenstein and
Battei Midrashos). These are all late works but contain some early

I found Moshiach ben Ephraim in Midrash Tehillim (60:3) and twice in
Otzar HaMidrashim Eisenstein.

Gil Student

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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 15:33:27 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
R' Amital on Commitment

This week's "Sichot" email again returns to RYA's mission to teach
contemporary Jews about the importance of commitment to mitzvos rather
than finding reasons to justify the autonomous choice to keep them.

(This is particularly interesting in light of the recent Areivim thread on
C trying to promote observance through demonstrating halachah's ability
to satisfy religious needs.)

Sicha of Harav Yehuda Amital shlit"a
Summarized by Jeremy Spierer
Yeshivat Har Etzion

Obligation and Offering

"And G-d said to Moshe: Speak to the children of Israel and have them
bring Me an offering (teruma). Take My offering from everyone whose heart
impels him to give. The offering that you take from them shall consist
of the following: gold, silver, copper... They shall make Me a sanctuary,
and I will dwell among them." (Shemot 25:1-3, 8)

"Meanwhile [the Israelites] were bringing more gifts each morning. All the
craftsmen engaged in the sacred work [left] the work they were doing, and
came [to Moshe]. They said to Moshe, 'The people are bringing much more
than is needed for the work that G-d commanded to do.'" (Shemot 36:4-5)

The Torah refers to an outpouring of generosity, nedivut lev. Not only did
Benei Yisrael bring supplies voluntarily, but they brought in excess. The
Torah's portrayal of these events is extremely positive.

Rashi, in the beginning of our parasha, explains (based on Megilla
29b) that the three appearances of the word "teruma" here refer to
three separate donations to the mishkan: the mandatory half-shekel for
the adanim, the bases of the beams, the mandatory half-shekel for the
communal offerings, and the voluntary offering of an unspecified amount
for the construction of the rest of the mishkan. The Maharal (Gur Aryeh)
finds this comment difficult. The Torah overtly relates only to the
voluntary drive for the mishkan materials; there is no apparent reference
to the other donations. The Maharal answers that logically, the demand
for the mandatory half -- shekels must precede the call for voluntary
donations. The element of compulsion is indispensable in constructing
the mishkan. Had the call for voluntary donations been issued first,
the people might voluntarily have provided all of the resources for the
Mishkan, thereby eliminating the need for the mandatory contributions
(see notes on the Gur Aryeh).

The Maharal's comments contain an important message. Nedivut lev,
voluntary avodat Hashem, is certainly positive, but only if rooted first
in a spirit of obligation, of commitment. The funds for the physical
base of the mishkan came from an obligation, not from an act of altruism.

The Torah describes the Jews' voluntary acceptance of the Torah, "We
will do and we will understand" (24:7). Yet Chazal describe an acceptance
through coercion: Hashem hoisted a mountain above their heads and said,
'If you accept [the Torah], good; if not, here will be your burial
place'"(Shabbat 88a). Their voluntary acceptance, however positive,
was not sufficient. Hashem required a firm commitment.

Western culture, particularly that promoted in America, preaches
individualism, personal choice. Nothing can infringe upon a person's
rights. In our world this has taken many forms. People desire to keep
mitzvot, to lead a religious life, but only because they want to, not
because they feel they have to.

In addition, people shy away from commitment -- to family, to society. I
visited a shul in America where I found very few children. After
inquiring regarding the reason, I discovered that most of the members
were single. They were not getting married; they were unwilling to
commit. In Israel society, people speak of lack of motivation in the
armed forces. People do not feel a commitment to defend the country;
commitment smacks of coercion.

"One thing I ask from Hashem... that I may dwell in His house all the days
of my life, to behold the beauty of Hashem and to visit in His temple"
(Psalms 27:4). King David asks to establish permanent residence in
Hashem's house -- but at the same time to maintain the excitement and
enthusiasm of a first-time visitor. Similarly, we should always strive
to learn Torah with this enthusiasm, to arrive at the beit midrash as
if it were our first time. But some days we wake up without this longing
for the beit midrash. Yet we still have to come.

Again, the overflowing generosity Benei Yisrael displayed was extremely
positive. However, Rashi places this voluntary donation third, after
the mandatory gifts. The first teruma for the adanim represents the
need for an underlying obligation. The second teruma for the communal
offerings represents an objective goal. Avodat Hashem is rooted first
in obligation and defined goals, not in subjective desire. This is the
message of the terumot.

(Originally delivered Leil Shabbat, Parashat Teruma 5757.)

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Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 19:10:08 +0000
From: "Seth Mandel" <sethm37@hotmail.com>
Re: Moshiach ben Yosef

About the moshiach ben Yosef:

As R. Gil noted, he is just mentioned once in the G'moro, in a statement
that does not tell us anything but that he is one of the 4 harashim,
together with Eliyahu and Moshiach ben David. Which is why I did not
refer anyone to the g'moro.

My memory did not desert me yesterday, and indeed it is R. Saadya Gaon who
has the oldest reasonably full discussion of him (outside of Medrashim,
which may or may not be authoritative and may or may not be datable.
What R. SG says he at least assumes to be authoritative). In Emunot
v'De'ot (p. 246 in R Qaafih's edition), he says:

A man shall arise from the descendents of Yosef in the mountains of
the Galilee, and some Jews will gather around him. He will march on
the Beit haMiqdash, which at that time will be under the control of the
Christians/Europeans, and he will hold it for a while. Afther that a man
by the name of Armilius will come and battle them, and he will conquer the
city, and will kill some inhabitants, and capture some others, and wreck
the city. The man descended from Yosef will be among those killed by him.
At that time a great calamity will befall the Jews, and the worst part of
it will be the destruction of any good relations between all the nations
and the Jews, who will have to flee to the wilderness without food and
be deprived of everything. Because of this, many of them will abandon
their religion, and only the faithful will remain, and only then will the
Prophet Eliyahu reveal himself to them and the final salvation will start.

R. SG says there is a possibility that if all Jews do t'shuva, the
period and events of the Moshiach ben Yosef will not come to pass, and
there will be no Moshiach ben Yosef, but we shall go directly to the
final salvation with the war of Gog and Magog and Moshiach ben David.
But he says the prophets had a tradition that that is not the way it
will happen, but rather the tribulations of Moshiach ben Yosef's time
will come first, and then the remaining Jews will do t'shuva because of
the greatness of their suffering, and then they will be saved.

Which is why Jews should pray to be saved from the chevlei Moshiach.
According to R. SG, not only will most Jews leave the faith (at least
that part we in ChuL are leading the way in fulfilling), but there will
be massive death and destruction in EY, even before Gog and Magog arrive,
and the Jews in ChuL will suffer as well.

Seth Mandel

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