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Volume 09 : Number 085

Tuesday, September 3 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 18:48:25 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Administrivia: Lost Avodah posts

Sorry, but I just deleted every submission to Avodah since v9n84. If
you submitted something, please resend.

Thank you.


Micha Berger                 A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org            It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org       and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 14:55:20 -0400
From: "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
RE: Tehillim after davening (was "explanation of shitos of the GR"A in tefillo")

> I see nowadays how when perokim of Tehillim after davening become
> institutionalized (e.g. now for 'the matzav' in EY), they often soon
> degenerate into rote recitation by many, with little if any kavonnoh.
> Tehillim can be said - gezunter heit - but must they always be
> institutionalized betzibbur ? When they are said for special occasions
> and not continuously, they seem to get much more kavonnoh...

I agree. I don't know how long the Matzav is going to last (hopefully
Moshiach will come before the end of 5762), but I do know that I am
not saying the tehillim after davening with nearly as much kavanah as I
used to. I am afraid that children growing up in our times will think
that the tehillim after davening was institutionalized by the Anshei
K'neses Hag'dolah....

KT and Kesivah v'Chasimah Tovah 

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 19:51:38 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: "halachik intuition"

On Mon, Aug 26, 2002 at 02:52:08PM -0400, Gil Student wrote:
: http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol06/v06n120.shtml#09

This link is about lo bashamayim hi. I have yet to be convinced that
intuition is a claim of linkage to shamayim. But it does address
a question discussed in another post.

On Wed, Aug 28, 2002 at 06:29:30PM -0400, Joelirich@aol.com wrote:
: In a message dated 08/28/2002 4:11:28pm EDT, sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu
: writes:
:> Anyway, there are bas kol's that do determine halacha, so nevuah not 
:> determining halacha is not hard and fast.

: The Maharatz chiyut iirc would not agree 

You might also look up my summary of the Encyc. Talmudit's entry on
bas qol. It's a machloqes rishonim. Yes, the MC might not agree, but
since it's open to discussion, RYGB's denial of it being hard and
fast stands.

It's at <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol02/v02n087.shtml#02>.


Micha Berger                 A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org            It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org       and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 15:48:47 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Fwd: Halachik Intuition

Apropos of our conversation on halachik intuition.
The Unconscious 'You' May Be the Wiser Half

According to Plutarch, the inscription at the Delphic Oracle advised,
"Know thyself." To which Timothy D. Wilson, professor of psychology at
the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, responds, "Good luck."

Dr. Wilson is one of a growing number of psychologists and neuroscientists
whose research is showing the importance of the unconscious -- "mental
processes that are inaccessible to consciousness but that influence
judgments, feelings or behavior," as he puts it. But this isn't Freud's
unconscious, that maelstrom of primitive emotions and repressed memories.

Instead, the unconscious being excavated by scientists processes data,
sets goals, judges people, detects danger, formulates stereotypes and
infers causes, all outside our conscious awareness.

In fact, there is a growing consensus that the unconscious is a pretty
smart cookie, with cognitive capacities that rival and sometimes surpass
that of conscious thought. How smart is the unconscious? Two experiments
probing the power of intuition sold me.

In one, volunteers watched a computer screen divided into quadrants.
Whenever an X popped up, the volunteer was to push a button indicating
which quadrant it occupied. Unbeknownst to the volunteers, the appearance
of the Xs followed strict and somewhat arcane rules (the X never appeared
in the same square twice in a row, for example, and never reappeared in
its first location until it had shown up in two others).

The volunteers got faster and faster at pressing the right buttons. That
suggests they anticipated the X's appearance correctly, or at least knew
where it wasn't going to be. But none could verbalize this -- or even
tell the scientists that there were hidden rules. They just seemed to
know intuitively what was going on.

In another study, researchers led by the noted neurologist Antonio
Damasio of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, had volunteers draw
from four decks of cards. Each card was marked with an amount "won" or
"lost." Two decks had big wins and losses and, if played consistently,
yielded a net loss; the other two had smaller wins and losses and,
over time, returned a net gain.

Almost all the volunteers learned to avoid the risky, losing decks,
though as in the game of X's, none could articulate why the losing decks
gave them a bad feeling. But if the conscious part of their brain was
confused their body was not: choosing from the losing decks increased
skin conductance, which measures minute levels of sweat and correlates
with stress.

Volunteers with damage to the brain areas called the ventromedial
prefrontal regions, however, never experienced a rise in skin conductance
and never learned to avoid the bad decks. Our "gut feelings" reside
behind our forehead, not in our digestive system.

An association between two events -- such as the appearance of a new X
and the location of the previous ones, or a deck of cards and gambling
losses -- is called a covariation. Covariation is extraordinarily tough
to spot (whole forests have been felled for textbooks explaining how to
prove covariation statistically). Yet somehow the adaptive unconscious
does it intuitively, and better than conscious mental processes.

This sophisticated system operates under the radar of consciousness not
because it has something to hide, as Freud argued, but for the sake of
efficiency. We need to process so much information to survive that some
of it has to occur unconsciously, much as a computer runs on machine
language that no one wants to see on the monitor. Even while our mind
is otherwise engaged, we can profit from unconscious calculations.

The adaptive unconscious also sizes up people's motives, character and
intent -- judgments crucial to reach quickly. It even seems to have its
own personality. Although conscious personality influences deliberative
responses, the adaptive unconscious guides responses made unthinkingly.

Do you regularly snap at underlings who mess up in meetings? Blame your
unconscious personality. After rumination, do you invite them into your
office for a helpful chat? That reflects your conscious personality. Do
you hold doors for old ladies but swear at drivers who cut you off? Your
conscious personality is kind, but your unconscious might have an angrier,
aggressive bent.

Contrary to revealing our deepest feelings, motives and beliefs, looking
inward can be counterproductive -- as I'll describe next week. For now,
as you head off for the unofficial last weekend of summer, don't agonize
over whether to hit the beach or the mountains: Follow your gut. Er,
your unconscious.

Write me at sciencejournal@wsj.com1.

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 20:11:43 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Teaching goyim Torah

This question came up just today.

I took two of my kids to work, and one of my co workers asked them their
names. "Zack" didn't generate any questions, but I was asked where the
name "Shifra" comes from. I explained the reference to the midwife in
the begining of Exodus. And I was about to mention the connection to
Yocheved when -- because of this conversation -- I wasn't sure if it was

In general I tend to answer questions pretty frankly. For example, I'm
often asked why there is blue in my tzitzis, but not in Shalom's (Shalom
is a chossid). I was asked if it's like karate belt colors. <grin>

On Tue, Aug 27, 2002 at 03:00:45AM -0400, T613K@aol.com wrote:
:                                                 .... It seems to me that
: this would apply to the Chumash going all the way back to the Septuagint
: (Targum haShivim), and that necessarily, if you could teach them Chumash...

We morn the writing of Targum Shiv'im. It's the reason for a fast day
in Mefillas Ta'anis on 8 beteives and associated with 10 beTeves. So I
would this this is a ra'ayah against.

However, one has less of a problem talking Tanach with my Catholic
co worker than with Greek pagans.


Micha Berger                 A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org            It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org       and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 15:05:24 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Keeping The Faith

A series of three interesting essays by R. Nathan Lopes Cardozo titled
"Keeping The Faith":

His distinction between "belief that" and "belief in" (which is not
originally his, of course) and his application of it towards yedi'as Hashem
could perhaps be termed differently as whether we are obligated to know G-d
"through acquaintance" or "through description".  With the former I mean an
experiential knowledge and with the latter an intellectual knowledge (see

Gil Student

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 19:45:22 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Machshavah vs Ma'aseh

On Mon, Aug 26, 2002 at 07:02:59AM -0400, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: I like your choice of words. "Mechanics" reminds me of once when I tried
: to develop a concept of "metaphysical machines" such as mida kneged mida
: and shomea k'oneh, which form the mechanics of shamayim, much as the
: wheel and lever are among the basic "simple machines" of this world. To
: be continued in another thread someday, if I can find my notes...

When I got to this point you had me nervous. Saying it's among the
basic simple machines would imply that there is no simpler explanation.

B"H you then procede to give something.

I want to point out that before you get to the simple machines, you
need the basic laws of physics, the F=ma.

Similarly, before discussing the mechanics between ma'aseh or machshavah
and sechar va'onesh you need to decide lefi what connection between them.

Which is why I asked that it be explained in terms of the notion
that ma'aseh causes changes to the self which then can impair or
inhance one's ability to recieve shefa, and affect what kind of
shefa one gets (e.g. sechar vs yisurin -- both are shefa, the latter
is corrective).

: But then why does it work only for mitzvos, and not for aveiros? Machines
: are supposed to be amoral, right?

I don't know if we can assume this. We're dealing in a sphere where
morality is one of the "forces".

: So too here. A person planning to do a mitzvah really does want to do
: it, and machshava mitztaref l'maaseh works like it is supposed to. But
: a person planning to do an aveira does *not* truly want to do it. Or,
: if you prefer, he does want to do it, but that desire does not meet the
: requirements for the sort of ratzon which would make machshava mitztaref
: l'maaseh operative.

Mati'm li.

: According to the above, machshava mitztaref l'maaseh is *not* based
: on rachamim, but on din (which in this context, I translate not as
: "justice", but as fair, balanced, or mechanical)...

I'm not sure if din, by this definition, doesn't include rachamim.

Rachamim isn't only in the action, but in how the system was set up.

Teshuvah, for example, can be explained rationally and causally. One
erases the flaw that causes the onesh. However, the fact that Hashem
made us capable of doing this is a great act of rachamim.

Besides, when you dig deep enough, it's all One HQBH, and there can't
be a real, non illusory, dichotomy between His Chesed and His Din.


Micha Berger                 A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org            It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org       and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 16:35:11 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Hasagat gvul

Is hasagat gvul (yored ltoch umanut chavero/ani hamihapech...) diuraita
or drabbanan?

Joel Rich

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 17:31:02 -0400
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
Re: My 9/11 Miracle, More Or Less

> I still would have been out of danger that day
> because I work in midtown Manhattan, miles away from Ground Zero. How many
> other stories of such hashgacha peratis are really just common events seen
> through hindsight? Not that there is no hashgacha peratis, but is every
> ordinary event so miraculous?

> So what's my point in sending this? I don't know. It's been haunting me for
> a year that I had a great 9/11 story IF ONLY I had been in some danger.

> If we're to thank Hashem for saving us from some danger
> hink how much we need to thank Him when HQBH keeps the sakanah away
> ltogether!

This approach certainly works well according to Rav Dessler. However,
according to the way Rabbi Carmy (in his "Suffering" book) explained
RYBS shitah based on/modifying the Rambam, people are subject to nature
except that to the extent they deserve it, they are subject to varying
amounts of hashgacha pratis. So according to RCarmy, it's possible that
the reason you took you took your job in Midtown is due to hashgacha
pratis, but it's also possible that there was no divine involvement
(ie, you were not in danger because in the natural course events, you
had no reason to be going to the WTC. Note that IIRC Ramban in sefer
Breishis on "ki yi'dativ" talks about hashgacha pratis of the few who are
zocheh to saved from mikrim--this implies that if there are no mikrim,
you don't have to be saved). The mere possibility of hashgacha pratis
(or the possibility that you don't deserve it) should be enough to spur
you to be m'fashfash b'ma'asecha.

Query to RMB: since you tend to follow RAKaplan on issues of
hashgacha--doesn't RAK concede the existence of nature, just that Hashem
fine tunes its application to individuals via of the indeterminacy
of nature. If so, in the case of Gil's "neis nistar" why wouldn't you
follow RCarmy's approach that there's a possibility that there was no
miracle at all. After all, if he's never worked near the WTC, there's
nothing in nature to be indeterminate.

Kol tuv,
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld (www.BlackBerry.net)

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