Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 124

Tuesday, March 12 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 04:29:43 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Yesodos of the Beri'ah, AND Important Questions (Work in progress!)

At 01:31 PM 3/8/02 +0000, Micha Berger wrote:
>: GLL comes from gilui - to reveal, as in "Va'yogel es ho'even mei'al pe
>: ha'be'er" - and since the gilui is via rolling off the stone, it comes
>: to mean something round. Of course, it then comes also to mean davar
>: v'he'pucho, as gelilah (at least of a Sefer Torah) closes it up....

>And how about "ge'ulah"? (He asks rhetorically...)

Of course, another davar v'hipucho here is galus, as galus is clearly the 
antithesis of gillui and ge'ulah. And it seems that both revealation and 
exile share the same shoresh of GLH! Davar zeh omer darsheni.

Still not clear if Ugga has anything to do with agol and gillui.

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

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Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 13:42:23 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Ayin ho'Ra

I was asked by one of the Chicago Daf Yomi chevra to dwell a bit on
the topic of Ayin ho'Ra (AR). It is now particularly timely to do so,
as in yesterday's daf (BM 107b) we had the remarkable assertion that
the overwhelming majority of individuals die because of AR and very few
because of "regular" reasons.

Of course, the Rambam does not pasken like Gemaros based on AR, and I
would suspect that a rationalistic approach would necessarily reject
AR to either a complete or partial extent. I would be interested to
know what RSRH had to say, if anything, on the topic. I would assume
that the rationalist might accept AR as a form of kitrug in shomayim,
similar to walking under a precarious wall - and, thus, it would not
be a direct impact of the onlooker on the person on whom he had looked,
but rather a from of triangulation: The aspersion cast by the onlooker
makes an impression in the Heavens, and things that might have been
overlooked then become significant and may doom an individual that was
otherwise cruising "unnoticed' despite his iniquities.

The classic approach - that of Reb Tzadok, and even, surprisingly, the
Malbim - is that rays emanate from your eyes when you look at something.
When you look at someone (or even something: "Al tilcham es lechem ro
'ayin" - Mishlei 23:6) askance, the rays that emanate from your eyes are
poisoned and that poisonous quality then inheres in the person or object
upon whom or which you have looked. Reb Tzadok (Dover Tzedek 80a) says it
works in a relative fashion, as the object of the gaze may be impervious
to that type of venomous ray, such as was the case with Yosef ha'Tzaddik.

This perspective is in line with several Gemaros, such as the Gemara
in Shabbos where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochay and his son Rabbi Elazar come
out of the cave and everywhere they look is consumed, and then after the
second time they exit RSBY's gaze heals where RE's afflicts; the Gemara
in a couple of place (BB comes to mind) where Rabbi Yochanan looked at
a wayward talmid and turned him into a pile of bones, etc. This is a
direct impact that harms the subject or object of the rays that emanate
from the eye of the beholder.

There are rationalistic explanations of those Gemaros, however, as well,
including the Telzer Rov, RYL Bloch who says that making an individual
into a pile of bones means to make him feel that his entire existence
is meaningless.

Perhaps it is because the Rambam felt strongly that vision does not work
in this manner that he rejected AR. Be that as it may, l'ma'aseh one can
accept a spiritual dimension to a gaze even if one does not accept that
vision works that way.

REE Dessler in Michtav me'Eliyahu vol. 4 p. 5 offers another explanation:
All souls are intertwined in some way - some to a greater degree, and
some to a lesser to degree - but a universal connectivity is a spiritual
reality. Thus, my attitude towards your soul affects its status: If
we are very closely bonded spiritually then the impact is greater, and
vice versa. Still, some "griphold" is essential: If a person is totallyl
l'shem shomayim and other-directed; or very humble and self-effacing,
the interaction between him and others is more out than in, and others
who deploy AR against him will not be particularly successful.

This approach is in line with a couple of other Gemaros concerning Rabbi
Yochanan (who was impervious to AR, IIRC, as a descendant of Yosef)
with him causing the deaths of Rabbi Kahane (reversed) and Reish Lakish
(not reversed) - while at least in the latter case the impact was not
immediate (although it seems to have been direct), it seems that it was
the interaction between the souls that caused the effectiveness of the AR.

Of course, "quirks" like AR bring into play basic questions of midda
k'negged midda, i.e., precision in reward and punishment. They are
the flip side of positive quirks like segulos. Without the balance
of Olam ha'Bo (and, it seems, according to many Mekkuballim, without
a counterbalance of possible gilgullim as well) they would be classic
question marks of "tzaddik v'Ra lo; Rasha v'tov lo". These are, therefore,
areas in which we cannot fully understand cause and effect, areas which
HKB"H classified to Moshe Rabbeinu as "U'ponai lo yeira'u."

Hope that helps somewhat!

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

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Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 15:31:19 -0500
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
RE: mixed weddings/ seder

From: kennethgmiller@juno.com [mailto:kennethgmiller@juno.com]
> R' Sadya N Targum mentioned <<< I have heard it said that when RMF was
> asked about mixed seating, he answered that the korban pesach was always
> eaten with mixed seating. >>>

> I'm not sure whether I mean this humorously or not, but I'll ask anyway:
> I thought that back then we all had the seder with truly separate seating:
> each person at their own table!

I think that the separate tables were at the time of the Ba'al Hagada,
after the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. I would think that bizman
hamikdash, Jews didn't carry small (foldable!) tables with them into

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 18:42:12 -0500
From: Chaim G Steinmetz <cgsteinmetz@juno.com>
Re: Avodah V8 #122

From: Zeliglaw@aol.com Steve Brizel
> Anyone hear of a makor for the MB's shita in the name of the Maharil
> that one has two tzesim for Afikoman( zecher lpesach and zecer
> lchagigah). According to RHS, R Perlow's peirush on RSG's Sefer HaMitzvos
> quotes the Rambam as the source. This appears not just another MB chumra
> as some would be quick to observe.

See R. Perlows perush on Sefer Hamitzvos L"Rasag v1 p.432. He wants to
say that according to the Rambam (Hil. Korbon Pesach 8:3) the KP has
to be eaten "achilas sevah" - a shiur of seviah which is 2 kezeisim and
that that is what the Maharil meant ayin shom.

Chaim G. Steinmetz

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 00:45:08 +0000
From: "shlomo simon" <shlomosimon@hotmail.com>
newspapers on Shabbat

The general practice is certainly to read the paper on Shabbos (excluding
the business section). I know however that some poskim forbid having
the paper delivered ob Shabbos. What is their reason, and what do the
meikilim say to counter this objection?


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Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 21:02:22 -0500
From: "yosef stern" <avrahamyaakov@hotmail.com>
Does a talmid chacham have a yetzer hora?

Gil Student:
> Bava Basra 17a: On three the yetzer hara did not rule - Avraham, Yitzchak,
> and Ya'akov.  >Some say David also.

Note: "the yetzer hara did not *rule*". And not that they did not *have*,
which is our question.

[Email #2 -mi]

To further illustrate my question the Gemara says in Sukkah (52:1)
The Tzaddikim are going to wonder 'how where we able to conquer it
(-the Yetzer Horah)?'
Now, if they didn't have one how did they conquer it?

Also see the stories in Kedushin (81:1&2) especially that the Gemorah says
'Oisoi Tzaddik'.

The Alter Rebbe (in Tanya chapter 1) when he brings proof that a Tzaddik
Gomur does not have a Yetzer Horah he brings the Gemara Berochos (61:2)
which quotes the Possuk Tehilim (109:22) 'Velibi Chollol Bekirby' And
explains that Dovid killed it by fasting.
My question is that it is not a Dovor Muchrach to say so, because #1)
as you can see how Rashi (on the Gemara) explains it 'it is *like* dead
because I have control over it'. #2) According to the first opinion in
Baba Basra (17:1) -where it brings this Possuk- The Yetzer Horah didn't
have power over Dovid, but not that he did not possess a Yetzer Horah.
And according to the second opinion the Possuk is not referring at all
to his Yetzer Horah.

And if you want to say that it means he had no Yetzer Horah at all then
you must say that the Yidden by Chet Hoegel didn't either have a Yetzer
Horah (as the Gemarah compares them in Avodah Zorah (4:2)).

On the other hand, The Zohar (Mishpatim 107:2) says clearly that Dovid
did not have a Yetzer Horah. (but that Zohar is similar to the Gemaroh
A"Z above, which would then represent the same analogy that no Yid has
a Yetzer Horah, in which case there is nothing further to discuss)

It should be noted here that the Lubavitcher Rebbe (in Igros Kodesh
Vol.18 #6507)actually answers the question of Kol Hagodol Meichaveiro
Yitzro Godul, he says: when the person is born his Yetzer Horah is as
big as his Yetzer Tov etc. but when the person achieves thru Sur Meira
Veasei Tov he can come to the Dargo of no longer having a Yetzer Horah,
like it says concerning Dovid Hamelech.

[Email #3, in reply to R Carl Sherer. -mi]
>AIUI, Adam haRishon did not have a Yetzer Hara until after he sinned
>with Eitz HaDaas. And yet he sinned (obviously).

Pray tell what is the difference if someone has something inside him
telling him to sin or if his wife (or Nochosh) tells him to sin?

kol tuv
yosef stern

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 22:18:44 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: Does a talmid chacham have a yetzer hora?

On 10 Mar 2002 at 21:05, yosef stern wrote:
>> AIUI, Adam haRishon did not have a Yetzer Hara until after he sinned
>> with Eitz HaDaas. And yet he sinned (obviously).

> Pray tell what is the difference if someone has something inside him telling
> him to sin or if his wife (or Nochosh) tells him to sin?

Rav Nebenzahl explains this in one of his sichot. He said that there
was no yetzer hara before the eitz ha'daas and that Adam HaRishon did
it because he felt he would be able to attain a higher madreiga if he
had bchira chofshis.

-- 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: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 18:15:43 GMT
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
re: questions on segulos

R' Micha Berger wrote <<< Segulos are non-predictable. Which is why no
one develops a native notion of segulos, the way babies pick up a fear
of falling and the joys of dropping one's bottle outside the crib. >>>

Then where DO segulos come from?

Either Hashem told someone that spilling date-beer makes one poor, or
humans noticed such a pattern. If a human noticed a pattern, and enough
other humans agreed, to the extent that belief in this causal relationship
became part of their culture, wouldn't that contradict your claim that
"no one develops a native notion of segulos"?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 14:51:14 -0500
From: "Allen Gerstl" <acgerstl@hotmail.com>
Re: Segulos

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
>And yet they're all over the gemara.

>You continue to give an explanation of why appealing to segulos would
>be assur. ...
>But saying one may not use a segulah is different than saying they
>aren't real.

Exactly. Thank you for expressing the essence of my opinion better than
I did. That's the second part of my posting i.e. as to the Halacha.

In addition I intended to state in the first part of that posting that
factual views of Chazal when not involving Halacha are not binding upon
us, as per the views of the Rambam and Avraham ben HaRambam. So I am also
saying that Segulos MAY not be real (but that is a question of fact in
each case).


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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 14:14:19 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Pesach Seating

In a message dated 3/11/2002 10:54:34am CST, Akiva Miller writes:
> I'm not sure whether I mean this humorously or not, but I'll ask anyway:
> I thought that back then we all had the seder with truly separate seating:
> each person at their own table!

As I understand it, there weren't any tables. Food was served from a
low platform or floor-space surrounded by pillows and bunting. People
literally reclined in the manner of ancient royalty. The seder took many
hours. Each glass of wine was goblet-sized -- i.e., like the Crusaders'
image of the Holy Grail -- and filled to the brim with a thick, fortified
drink that probably was highly alcoholic. One imagines the state of things
toward the end of the seder, when everyone's blood-alcohol content was
around 2.2 percent, and every stomach was stuffed with several pounds
of food. THAT was true frumkeit.

David Finch

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 15:13:22 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Jewish People and Torah

[Bounced from Areivim. -mi]

I seem to recall that Rav Saadia Gaon wrote that the single uniting
factor of the Jewish people is the Torah. I can't find that statement.
Does anyone know where he said it or if someone else did?

Gil Student

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 11:49:24 -0500
From: "Jeffrey Cohen" <jcohen@dclab.com>
taking out wrong sefer Torah

[Bounced from Areivim. -mi]


Does anybody have references for the minhag of not replacing a sefer
Torah that has been removed from the aron in error, but rather rolling
and reading from that sefer? I always thought it was common custom, but
was surprised that it doesn't seem to appear in Shulchan Aruch or Mishnah
Berurah. I don't have easy access to seforim about krias haTorah now, I'd
appreciate it if somebody could please look it up and report back to me.

Avraham Cohen

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 16:07:02 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Ayin ho'Ra Footnote

Experts have responded that RSRH does not address the topic of AR anywhere.

Kol Tuv,

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

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 21:12:32 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: keruv

In v8n122 Avrohom Weidberg <EWeidberg@stikeman.com> wrote:
: <<Yechezel saw a connection between the bull and the kiruv. ..
: <<In 1:10, the chayos are described as having four faces: man, lion, ox
: and eagle. In 10:14 the faces are keruv, man, lion eagle. Apparantly the
: face of a keruv is that of a bull. ... >>

: See Chagiga 13b --Yechezkel bikeish rachamim and the ox face changed
: into a child's face

RSRH writes on parashas Ki Sisa that the mishkan of Terumah - Tetzaveh
would have been different in kind than that of Vayak-hel - Pequdei.

After the cheit ha'eigel and the subsequent Yom Kippur, Klal Yisrael
had a richer view of HQBH. They experienced the personal Majesty of His
Judgement, and the intimacy of His Rachamim and Mechilah. The invitation
to dwell in our midst was different because we built the Mishkan /after/
this experience.

Perhaps this was the problem that lead to the eigel. Until we had
the kaparah of Yom Kippur, the keruv that we related to was a conduit
between us and a transcendent notion of HQBH. So we made ourselves a
young bull.

After the kaparah, we were able to better to relate to HQBH as being
immanently with us. Therefore, the ideal keruvim are young children.


Micha Berger                 The mind is a wonderful organ
micha@aishdas.org            for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org       the heart already reached.
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 20:56:08 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: questions on segulos

On Mon, Mar 11, 2002 at 06:15:43PM +0000, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: Either Hashem told someone that spilling date-beer makes one poor, or
: humans noticed such a pattern. If a human noticed a pattern, and enough
: other humans agreed, to the extent that belief in this causal relationship
: became part of their culture, wouldn't that contradict your claim that
: "no one develops a native notion of segulos"?

No. It means that segulologists can make a formal study of segulos. The
native notion is one that becomes "common sense", so that people take
these things for granted when deciding what to do. Like the way someone
knows that throwing a rock just so is likely to hurt a person standing
over there.

In addition your first option is still possible.

Or, perhaps someone with an understanding of the kochos of the olamos
ha'elyonim was able to figure out the implications WRT date beer.


Micha Berger                 The mind is a wonderful organ
micha@aishdas.org            for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org       the heart already reached.
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 21:24:57 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Sfas Emes on Nequdah haPenimis

The SA, on Vayak-heil 5631 (in the volume on Vayiqra !?), defines a
term he uses quite often, the "nequdah hapenimis". He says it's
"chiyus Hashem Yisbarach sheyeish bekhol adam", as per "vayipach
be'apav nishmas chayim".

Shabbos, he writes, is the day when all of a persons desires and
kochos are more connected to the NhP.

I'm wondering about the connection between this and the Maharal, Gevuros
H' ch 46. There the Maharal speaks of physical objects having 6 sides,
and therefore the seventh is the hidden inner point, the ruchani inherent
in the gashmi. Which is why a week has 7 days. (Presumably he means
to include why HQBH made this place in 7 rather than some other number
of days.)

There too is a reference to an inner point, and its relationship to Shabbos.


(With thanks to R Dr Jud Leff for bringing the SE to my attention.)

Micha Berger                 The mind is a wonderful organ
micha@aishdas.org            for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org       the heart already reached.
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 04:16:39 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Matzo He'oros from my Brother in Law

Two e-mails cobbled together, only slightly edited by me.


>Makes sense that the bread Avraham made was kemach soles, as per din in S"A
>of using soles nekiya for afiyas matzah.  Also, he says to Sarah "mahari" -
>so that there should be no chashash chametz.  However, no korban pesach till
>yitzchak giving the berachos to ya'akov, and there no matzah is mentioned.
>If you insist the food is significant, you have to explain the meaning of
>the meat, the milk, and the butter as well.  Good Luck!
>Mem-tzadei is representitive of concealment of G-dliness, as it is at-bash
>for the shem Hashem yud-keiy.  Berdichiver applies this to the word mitzva -
>the first half of the word is shem Hashem b'itkasysa and the later half is
>b'itgalya, the implicit motivation and the explicit action.
>Occurred to me this year that matzah and bikkurim are the only foods that
>are mechayev haggadah - lechem sh'onim alav devarim harbeh and by bikkurim
>you read arami oved avi.  No wonder the ba'al haggadah ties them together.
>Issue when Malachim came related to whether Yitzchak born in Tishrei or
>Nissan.  Parallel machlokes by beriyas haolam, hesber being
>tishre=machshava, nissan=ma'aseh.  Was Yitzchak born a tzaddik b'machshava
>and had to develop, or was he b'poel a tzaddik from birth?
>Noam Elimelech (someone gave it to me as a gift, I guess trying to
>convert me or something) on P' Noach:  the
>yud sitting on the nun in the letter tzadi represents chochma, the source of
>the hispashtus represented by the nun.  He says it more clearly in P' Bo than
>what I recalled from P' Noach.

>Some follow up on what I last sent you -
>Mem-tzadi represents concealment, as in the Berdichiver's pshat in mitzvah.
>The Maor V'Shemesh writes that man and matzah are opposites - the 40 years in
>the midbar when man fell were marked by no korban Pesach and hence no real
>kiyum of achilas matzah (certainly acc. to the m"d that it would be
>derabbanan, but even if d'oryasa, not a full kium).  When klal yisrael come
>to E.Y., they renew the korban pesach and at the same time the man stops.
>Based on the Berdichiver, l"ad the heber is pashut - man=giluy, lechem abirim
>of malachim, food of the dor de'ah.  The mem-tzadi of matzah=kisuy, hester.
>They can never go together.  E.Y. was a retutn to life al pi teva.
>Perhaps this is pshat in the chiluk between matzah shel yom rishon before
>yetziyas mitzrayim b'geder miztva (those letters again!) and matzah the rest
>of Pesach, (see Ohr HaChaim Shmos 12:15).
>Al pi han"l maybe you could learn the kashe of the gemara in B.M. 86 "Did the
>Malachim who came to Avraham really eat" is not because there is some a
>priori reason that a malach cannot eat.  Rather, since the essence of a
>malach=giluy; man=lechem abirim food of Malachim; matzah=hester.  The matzah
>Avraham was preparing was a stira to their whole mahus and that's why they
>could not eat.
>Another thought: Perhaps its no accident that our invitation to guests at the
>seder "kol dichpin...) is couched in a reference to matzah (k'ha lachma
>anya...) - the food served by Avraham in the paradigmatic episode of
>hachnasas orchim.
>MahaRiL Diskin is medayek that although Sarah prepares 3 sa'ah of dough,
>Avraham says lushi ugos because 3 sa'ah exceeds the shiur lisha for matzah
>(ayen sham, I simplified what he wrote a bit).  2 more cents of my own: maybe
>that's why Yishmael was given the job of shchita and not matzah baking -
>gadol omeid al gabav works for a katan who is a mumcheh for shchita (20=shiur
>gadlus kodem matan torah) but not for lishma by matzah (haven't worked this
>out 100%, but I'll toss it out anyway to get the wheels turning).
>Finally: Noam Elimelech in Likutei Shoshana also discusses the malach episode
>by Avraham.  The solution to angels who eat is to redefine the word eating as
>deveikus.  Not the "usual;" approach that eating food is a form of dveikus,
>but that the word eating means to be misdabek to Hashem (V'yechezu et
>haElokim vayochlu vayishyu, as targum learns - that ref. courtsey Ariella).
>(Tangentially, he has an interesting idea for another discussion - just as
>there is dveikus in ruchniyus, zeh l'umas zeh therte is dvekus to ra as
>Question: by Avraham we have a mention of matzah, by Yitzcha/Ya'akov and the
>berachos a ref. to korban Pesach (see last mail).  Why are the two foods
>connected to the different Avos?
>Is that enough food for thought : )    Hope so - I'm tired of typing!
>Feel free to forward where ever you want.  Reply to me the the
>charlef.brown@gs.com address - I check it more freq. (work e-mail - this is
>from home).
>-Chaim B.

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Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 19:00:14 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Kishuf

RAM wrote:
> What is the difference between Segulah and Kishuf (magic) ??

Depends whether you believe either works in any way shape or form. Let's
make it more interesting. There is a significant segment of orthodox Jews
that believes in performing supernatural feats with shemot. The stories
of Baba Sali endlessly pouring from a bottle of Arak (that's good stuff,
BTW) as well as him and some others who, when driven in a car, never
needed to refuel, come to mind. Same for more explicit shamot stories.

What is the difference between doing magical feats with shemot and doing
so with sheidim?

First the rationalists:
Rav Hai Gaon, in his letter to 'hakhmei eretz Edom/kirwash (I believe the
letter went to Tunsia), published in Otzar haGeonim to mass. 'Hagiga,
claims that the shemot stories didn't happen. Abravanel on the story
of Shaul going to the ba'alat ov lists a number of opinions as top the
functioning of ov and among them are rav Sa'adyah Gaon, rav Shmuel ben
'Hofni Gaon, and Rambam who dismiss the entire technique. Thus, we see
that both the shemot and the kishuf is discounted.

Rambam is even more explicit in sefer hamitzvot when discussing a
particular form of kishuf, and dismisses it as halucinations and hypnosis.

To be fair, I must add that rav Hai Gaon above does believe in shemot
being effective in theory, but in the same breath dismisses all stories
of their use that you may have heard, even with relieble witnesses.

Now the believers:
I don't have any sources handy, but from what I recall from kabbalistic
sources, the difference is between using the powers the RBSO granted
and those of the sitra a'hra.

> ... besides, of course, the little detail that segulos are mutar and
> kishuf is asur.

Depends according to whom. Some would definitely rank it with other

> For example, what is the difference between spilling date-beer to make
> someone poor, and sticking pins in a doll to hurt him in other ways (or
> some other thing which would actually work if we knew how to do it right).

I am not sure that spilling date beer would be permissible. I thought
that it came about because of sheidim.

> Responses to this thread may help answer some of the problems in the
> other one, but let's try to keep the Subject lines distinct, okay? (And
> I recommend using the word "kishuf" instead of "magic", so that no one
> thinks we're talking about sleight-of-hand.

But, I quoted the rationalists above, who would equate al three.

Arie Folger

It is absurd to seek to give an account of the matter to a man 
who cannot himself give an account of anything; for insofar as
he is already like this, such a man is no better than a vegetable.
           -- Book IV of Aristotle's Metaphysics

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Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 15:57:20 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Segulos

On Fri, Mar 08, 2002 at 09:28:58AM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: I think now that I do understand your position...

There are still some important points about my position that differ from
your presentation.

: RMB: A segulah is something which works via the spiritual realms (above
: olam haasiyah), and teva is what works in olam haasiyah. Hence teva
: increases free will, by reducing one's awareness of the spiritual, and
: seguloth reduce free will, by increasing one's awareness of the spiritual.
: So why should God permit seguloth to work?

: DR: But EVERYTHING has its roots in spritual realms

Sure, and if you hold like REED, there is no teva. But then, REED
virtualizes segulos too ... he makes all rules to be abstracts of

In any case, whether or not higher kochos empower lower ones, or that
lower ones emanate from the higher ones, there is a difference between
something that operates via teva and something that operates without
involving lower kochos.

You went from arguing that there ought be no difference in impact
between segulah and teva to saying there is no difference in idea --
the two are the same. That bucks Abaye's statement in the very gemara
you cite as an example. He draws a chaqira between teva and segulah.

: RMB: Well, that's true, but we're talking about a typical person who
: will notice the spiritual only if it jumps up and bites him on the nose.

This should have had a question mark becore the colon, indicating
that it's your extrapolation from my argument. I never said anything
of the sort. I also do not appreciate putting a silly tone of voice
in my mouth. If you stoop to ridiculing an idea, you will not give
substansive arguments against it.

What I said was that there are no laws of spirituality that one learns
without formal study. And I raised this point not in a discussion of
whether segulah argues for the existance of a soul, but in the other

Remember, I drew two distinctions:

1- Segulos skew the balance of belief in favor of man having a soul,
or at least allow a student of segulos to find proof that he has a soul.

2- Segulos to not in in bechirah to nearly the same extent. One can
develop "common sense" physics that become unvoiced assumptions when
making decisions. The existance of physics as studied by Hawking, or as
utilized by chip manufacturers is a consequence of those same rules.

Gravity allows us to make predictions about dropped objects even if we
don't know the equations. However, without those equations, there would
be nothing for the baby to learn about the joys of dropping a bottle
from a crib, either.

: DR: But then nothing is spiritual. Why treat demons any different from
: germs and dolphins?

: RMB?: Because people think demons are spiritual.

Not at all. Because germs and dolphins are made of chomer, exist in
olam ha'asiyah. Sheidim exist without chomer, and need not enter
the olam ha'asiyah.

: DR: A few hundred years ago people thought shadows, lodestones [magnets],
: static electricity, and ball lightning were spiritual. Should God have
: kept them from working?

No, because then we never would have learnt otherwise. Nor would we have
atoms or matter as we know it without electromagnetism.

You're the one arguing social contruct, not I.

: RMB's demarcation between teva and segulah is not only artificial, it
: is culturally defined...

So there is only one olam, and we culturally invented the concept of
others? No olam ha'emes in your world view? No gan eden? If I thought
that's what you meant, I'd feel sad for you.

And if there are multiple olamos, can't one OBJECTIVELY define the
difference between forces that operate only within this one and those
that operate in others and only have effects in this one?

Or, to put it another way, between events caused by higher kochos and
events caused by lower kochos that are caused by the higher ones --
thereby introducing a level of indirection? Isn't it this level of
indirection that divides the olamos bichlal?

:> Definitionally, 3-as-segulah assumes the existance of another,
:> non-physical, realm. Add to that the fact that our actions have impact
:> in that realm, and concluding that we extend into the non-physical is
:> a logical conclusion.

: IOW it's not the spilling-beer-makes-you-poor that's the segulah, it's
: the theoretical superstructure which explains the phenomenon. But then,
: of course, we're back to the beginning (which I shall reprint):


IOW, it's not the spilling-beer-makes-you-poor that determines whether
or not it's a segulah, but the mechanism by which it occurs. Yes, it
requires a theoretical superstructure to understand the mechanism. But
our understanding of the mechanism and the mechanism itself are two
different things.

Besides, as I said above, this new twist makes Abaye's maskana equivalent
to his hava amina.

The question of whether one can misunderstand the cause, confusing
teva for segulah or segulah for teva, and whether that misunderstanding
ought have impact on the role of either is interesting, but a different

Some set of rules have to exist. There is no ro'eh es hanolad in any
decision without rules. So why should the rules weave olamos together
if one can get the same effect with rules that don't?

Increasing the number of rules means further hester panim, and less
opportunity for more direct din / rachamim.

Having a rule that when fully studied argues that man has a spiritual
nature can't be as good for bechirah as having a rule that can be
understood without such an argument.

Having a rule that exists only in situations too complex to be
consistantly observed without formal study and therefore can never become
part of man's innate decision making is of less value than a rule that
has innate as well complex consequences.

So, what do segulos add?


Micha Berger                 For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org            And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (413) 403-9905          

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