Avodah Mailing List

Volume 10 : Number 110

Sunday, February 23 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 14:42:24 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rambam and Yisachar Zevulun

A bunch of us had a long (75 email) off-Avodah discussion of the evolution
of halakhah and which positions, if any, on that subject would qualify
as kefirah. The launching point was RMG's comment:
: Until now you have accussed poskim of perverting the pshat in the
: Rambam and, consequently, the psak (what is the psak based upon if not
: the pshat in the rambam). Now you are implying that they perverted the
: pshat because of personal negiyos. I refer you to the end of perek gimel
: of the Chazon Ish's Emuna V'Bitachon. There he states that a person who
: accuses poskim of being influenced by negiyos is considered a mevazeh
: talmid chacham, and thereby, an apikores.

Here's a summary of an Avodah-appropriate subset, to the best of my
ability. There was a detour about whether this is an issue which divides
RW and MO, which one of us is RW/MO, and if there is a definition to
the terms anyway. Hopefully I succeeded in cleaning it up yet leaving
something one can follow.


RMFeldman 1:
> Do you truly believe that a person's surroundings have no impact on the
> way he paskens? I have to say that to my recollection, all the professors
> at Bernard Revel, including Dr. Chaim Soloveitchik and Dr. David Berger,
> would disagree with you.

> Or, is the issue here something different?

RSSimon 1: in reply to RMF1:
> In fact, doesn't the Rambam himself seem to imply as such?

> The issue was weather to die al kiddush hashem in Moslem countries,
> rather than swear something to Allah. Some posek somewhere said it
> was better to die. Doesn't Rambam, in one of his famous letters, say
> something to the effect of "how dare he make such a p'sak when he can't
> see what is happening here"?

> And, indeed, at least according to Berel Wein, isn't the view of
> X-tianity and Islam vis-a-vis avodah zarah at least slightly different
> among the Sefardim (who lived amongst one group), and the Ashkenazim
> (who lived amongst the other)?

> I have heard the phrase "they can't pasken here, because they don't live
> here", before.  Doesn't that also imply the above?

Mi 1, in reply to RSS1:
> Arguing that someone doesn't know the metzi'us is very different.

> The claim was that each assimilated elements of the surrounding
> culture, and that their pisqei halachah were influenced by that
> culture's values.

> That's like a modern rabbi trying to rewrite din to fit American
> values. We generally call that C.

RYGB in reply to RSS1:
> This is not the forum in which to discuss these maters, so I will be
> brief, ery much so:

> sholom@aishdas.org writes on Wed, 19 Feb 2003 14:57:21 -0600 (CST): 
>> Do you truly believe that a person's surroundings have no impact on the 
>> way he paskens?  I have to say that to my recollection, all the 
>> professors at Bernard Revel, including Dr. Chaim Soloveitchik and Dr. 
>> David Berger, would disagree with you. 

> Perhaps they do, but there is no way any of us are allowed to assume as
> much, no way we can know that it did, and we are therefore not allowed
> to take it into account in psak.


>> And, indeed, at least according to Berel Wein, isn't the view of X-tianity 
>> and Islam vis-a-vis avodah zarah at least slightly different among the 
>> Sefardim (who lived amongst one group), and the Ashkenazim (who lived 
>> amongst the other)? 

> Chalilah. They all held Christianity AZ b'shittuf. The question was
> whether such is muttar for goyim.

RMF2, in reply to RYGB:
> Why can't we assume that. I can tell you that the above professors
[named in RMF1]
> certainly do, at least when the cultural influences are obvious (e.g.,
> *all* the poskim from Christian countries said X while *all* the poskim
> from Moslem countries said Y).

RCSherer 1, in reply:
> Rav Yosef - if I understand him correctly - is differentiating between
> taking the influence of "surroundings" into account for purposes of psak
> and speculating as to whether such influence may have existed. The former
> is forbidden. The latter may be permitted but is meaningless as part of
> the halachic process.

RMF 3, replying to RSS1:
> First, often it is more than mere speculation.

> Second, I believe that R YH Henkin does take "surroundings" into account.
> While RYBS was not into this stuff, his son is, and I think that the
> current generation of MO poskim (depending on where they are educated)
> are more likely to take historical matters into account).

>> First, often it is more than mere speculation.

> Even if it is, that does not make it halachically meaningful. Ain 
> la'posek elah mah she'einav ro'os. 

>> Second, I believe that R YH Henkin does take "surroundings" into
>> account. While RYBS was not into this stuff, his son is, and I think
>> that the current generation of MO poskim (depending on where they are
>> educated) are more likely to take historical matters into account).

> On what basis are you making that statement? Does either Rav Henkin 
> or R. Chaim Soloveitchik say anywhere that they discount opinions of 
> earlier poskim based upon the earlier poskims' surroundings? 

RMF 4, in reply to the original post:
> I haven't been following the thread, but I would read the RRW excerpt
> differently. Not that he believes that the posek has "personal negios" but
> that the posek is influenced by many factors. I.e., the posek is fallible
> and often people misinterpret texts based on preconceived notions.

RMG on Avodah, again:
>> I refer you to the end of perek gimel of the Chazon 
>> Ish's Emuna V'Bitachon. There he states that a person who 
>> accuses poskim of being influenced by negiyos is considered a 
>> mevazeh talmid chacham, and thereby, an apikores.

RMF4, continued:
> WADR, the CI is not the last word on apikorsus and reflects a world view
> colored by the belief in daas torah (very strong Divine influence on poskim
> and gedolim).  I believe that professors at Bernard Revel would argue that
> *everyone* is influenced by their surroundings, preconceived notions, etc.

RJRich 1:
> It would be helpful to me if someone would define the exact point of
> apikorsus that is of concern.

Mi 2, in reply to RJR1:
> Let's see:

> It could be the assumption that chachamim reinterpret the Torah in
> order to produce the desired din.
> Or:
> The one that chachamim pasqen based on personal negi'os.

> Or combine the tool and one is talking historical school.

RJR 2 in reply to Mi2:
> I saw the latter as a statement that chachamim are influenced by their
> surroundings (eg our nashim are chashuvot?)- I don't think that qualifies
> as apikorsus. The former depends on the "reinterpret" and "desired"
> IIRC many hold that the torah sage based on all his knowledge etc has
> a halachik heart(per R'YBS) that leads them to know the appropriate
> conclusion - is that what's meant?

>> Chalilah. They all held Christianity AZ b'shittuf. The 
>> question was whether such is muttar for goyim. 

> Sholom's point still stands.  Could you imagine the Meiri saying that the
> umos hageduros around him happen to worship A"Z?

Rn Sarah Elizabeth Beck <sbeck@ymail.yu.edu>:
> I would suggest that whatever R. Dr. Ga'on Haym Soloveitchik says about
> poskim and their influences should be taken as a comment on a particular
> historical case, unless, of course, he explicitly specifies otherwise
> (and it'll be clear when he does). Speaking just for myself, I would
> be hyper-careful in attaching someone else's name to generalities about
> the nature of psak and/or questions of halacha l'maaseh, esp. when the
> attributee is not a posek "by profession" and is not one to be anything
> but precise when asked directly.

RDR asks:
> Is it apikorsut to suggest that poskim reinterpret earlier poskim to
> harmonize them with minhag hamakom? One could argue, on the contrary,
> that that is precisely what Chazal meant when they talked about "la'asukei
> shmaassa aliba d'hilchisa", i.e. to interpret codified law in accordance
> with actual practice.

RSS replied to RDR:
> It was posited on our list, more than once, that that's exactly what the
> Magen Avraham did vis-a-vis the obligation of women in tefilla. I.e.,
> that they _are_ obligated, but that he tried to find a heter, in order to
> be dan l'chaf, on account of his observation that women were not davening.

> Tanya demesaya lach, Rabbi Carmy told me that the infamous 14 "obvious
> apikorsus" of Mechy Frankel provenance, which he admittedly didn't see,
> may have been just that: apikorsus.

> I believe it was Gil who said that there is pesak in hashkafa, or at least
> a hachara'ah of deios, just as in halacha; Rabbi Carmy appeared to concur.

> What Rabbi Carmy may have said about psak as to what is apikorsus (i.e.,
> paskening like the Rambam vs. other rishonim) has no bearing on the issue
> of whether RHS can issue a binding psak based on his own de'ah that
> a certain view ("ascription of piskei halacha to milieu and mindset")
> is apikorsus. In the case of the Rambam, klal yisrael has accepted his
> psakim in many areas and one might argue that with regard to certain
> issues, the case is closed. The same cannot be said about contemporary
> issues, whether or not RHS takes an outspoken stand.

> Perhaps, Rabbi Carmy you could comment.

RSCarmy commented:
>> said that 
>> such ascription of piskei halacha to milieu and mindset is 
>> apikorsus. No 

> I don't know of such an imputation of apikorsut (or kefira or any other
> synonym) in Rishonim. The logic of reductionism, i.e. the claim that
> halakha is a reflex of "milieu and mindset" ultimately undermines the
> authenticity of Torah she'b'al Peh, which Rambam (Hil Teshuva 3) does
> categorize as deviancy.

RMF replied to RSC:
> We're not talking about reductionism in this conversation. We're talking
> about the concept that a posek today can decide to disregard a certain
> psak given by rishonim in Christian countries and pasken like those
> based in Moslem countries based on the argument that those in Christian
> countries were *influenced* by the fact that everyone made a living
> from dealing with Christians (who were oved AZ according to rishonim
> from Moslem countries). Rishonim in Moslem countries, who did not
> have such influence, often came to different conclusions. This does
> not imply that halacha is automatically influenced by external issues,
> but that it *can* be so influenced.

> As to whether this undermines the authenticity of Torah she'b'al Peh:
> I would argue that such a view does not necessarily undermine it: after
> all (and I recommend R. Michael Rosensweig's articles dealing with elu
> v'elu--both in the TuM Journal and in the Orthodox Forum book), we don't
> necessarily believe that chazal came up with the single correct solution,
> but that they came up with *a* correct solution (elu v'elu), and we are
> bound to follow their psak--ein lcha ela dayan she'b'yamecha.

> Moreover, even if we were to posit that chazal came up with *the* correct
> psak, it is possible to argue that they--and only they-- had s'yata
> d'shmaya (cf. the Rav's statement re "tav l'meisav"). Poskim afterwards
> were not necessarily zocheh to such levels of s'yata d'shmaya.

> I find it interesting that both Akiva and Sholom, who come from outside
> Orthodoxy originally, are more willing to consider sociological influence
> than RYGB & RGD, who come from within Orthodoxy.

> My path on this has been zig-zag.

> First (as a Reform Jew) I accepted it as fact, since that was the standard
> Reform line. (As they explain it -- it is probably kofir)

> Then, I rejected it as an unworthy denigration of those great poskim
> who were merely trying to find what HaShem wants of us.

> Now I tend to believe a more nuanced view -- in part, because of learning
> of the Ashkenazim view of doing business with Christians, etc.  I learned
> _this_ in part from tapes of R Berel Wein (MO? <g>).  (Let me stress: "in
> part" -- I have since come across other sources -- like learning the
> beginning of Maseches AZ without Wein's interpretation)

> I have no doubt that sociological influence effects psak -- just look
> at the halachot dealing with non-Jews, for example. The more persecuted
> the Jews, the harsher the psaking against non-Jews.

> Sholom's example about moslem/christian influence is another example.

> Or secular studies -- the objection to secular studies seems to be
> strongest in those areas where reform(ation) was strong.

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 17:08:03 -0500
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Avodah V10 #109

In a message dated 2/20/2003 4:51:22 PM EST, Motya Gofman writes:
> I refer you to the end of perek gimel of the Chazon
> Ish's Emuna V'Bitachon. There he states that a person who accuses poskim
> of being influenced by negiyos is considered a mevazeh talmid chacham,
> and thereby, an apikores.

But what if the posek was, in fact, influenced by personal negiyos? For
that matter, how can any posek -- or any human being, for that matter --
entirely escape the effects of negiyos on his understanding of Torah?

One answer is that poskim are larger than mere truth. We must accept
poskim as pure vessels Torah learning, and ignore the possibility of
negiyos. Another answer is that the imputation of negiyos, even if
accurate, violates lashon hara.

The answer I like the most is the simplest: It is in the posek's interest
to admonish his followers that they will tempt apikorsus if they examine
his teachings for personal motive, bias, or agenda.

David Finch

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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 10:11:09 -0500
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: Rambam and Yisachar Zevulun

> I have no doubt that sociological influence effects psak -- just look
> at the halachot dealing with non-Jews,

Does how widespread a practice is considered a sociological influence? For
example, I'm told that just before he was niftar R'SZA regretted not
knowing how widespread crockpot use was or he might not have issued his
negative psak when shortly before that someone showed one to him.

Joel Rich

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 17:11:08 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: assigning a shaliach via telephone/mail

R' Melech Schachter (father of R' Hershel Schachter) has an article on
this regarding gittin. The article is printed, I think, in Kevod HaRav
and in RHS' Eretz HaTzvi.

Generally speaking, making a kinyan on shelichus is a minhag in order
to ascertain that the appointment is done wholeheartedly. I believe
that RYBS said, at least regarding mechiras chametz, that when a kinyan
cannot be made the appointer should make sure to say (and mean) that
the appointment is done wholeheartedly (be-lev shalem).

Gil Student

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Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 21:43:42 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Minui Shaliach over the phone

Someone offlist challenged my short response that minui shelichus over
the phone suffices.

This person stated that the LR ruled that minui shaliach over the phone
is not valid for gittin and sent me the following mareh makom I have
not looked at:


The teshuva that b'she'as ha'dechak minui shelichus over the phone does
suffice (with caveats about ascertaining that it is indeed the husband
speaking on the phone) is in the Chelkas Yaakov EH 104.

The source is the sugya of mi she'haya mushlach ba'bor at the end
of Gittin.

It is common to rely on the telephone, when personal contact is difficult,
for mechiras chametz.

[Email #2. -mi]

Another mareh makom, from a correspondent:
>I don't have a Chelkas Yakkov, but I just saw a discussion in Tzitz 
>Eliezer 10:47. The ra'ayoh from bor (the way he brings it), is from the 
>fact the poskim are not mechalek (like they are mechalek by shofar). He 
>brings opinions le'kan u'le'kan.

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org  or  ygb@yerusalmionline.org
essays, tapes and seforim at: www.aishdas.org;
on-line Yerushalmi shiurim at www.yerushalmionline.org

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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 15:49:10 -0500
From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@bellatlantic.net>
dimensions of mizbeach nechoshet

I don't have the relevant Gemara in front of me, but I recall the
opinion that the 10 amot height of Bezalel's mizbe'ach alleged by one
Tanna includes an earthen mound upon which it rested. That is, the
copper clad wooden mizbe'ach was situated on a mound that was 7 amot in
height and included an earthen ramp. The actual mizbeach was then
 5x5x3 amot and could be easily carried by 4 Levites - given that it was
hollow. If, however, the mizbeach was, indeed, 5x5x10 amot then such a
massive object would be most difficult for 4 strong men to tote around.
A quick calculation which assumes that the boards of the misbeach was
1 ezba thick (2 cm) and were made into wooden walls of the mizbe'ach
which were 1 ama wide gives a wood volume of 2200 L (assuming 50 cm/ama).
Assuming a very light wood (Balsalike) with a density of 0.3 kg/L gives a
weight of 660 Kg or 1450 lbs. This does not take into account the weight
of the copper cladding. If that cladding were even 20 mil thick (heavy
foil), the above assumptions would give an additional 440 Kg, 968 lbs.
The total weight would then be 1100 Kg, or 2400 lbs. Each bearer would
then be shouldering 600 lbs. Chazal say that the aron bore its bearers,
but I have not heard that said about the mizbe'ach..

[Email #2. -mi]

I find that I must retract some of what I said in Friday's posting after
having reviewed the Gemara in Zevachim (T.B. Zev. 59-60,62a) on the
dimensions of the Mishkan's copper mizbe'ach, on shabbat. No one appears
to have the opinion that Bezalel's mizbe'ach was literally 5x5x3 amot
standing on an earthen mound that made the total height to be 10 amot.
Rebbe Yosi holds that the mizbe'ach was 5x5x9 with keronot on the top
corners that added an additional ama, while Rebbe Yehuda holds that the
mizbe'ach was 10x10x3 amot. Both mizbechot were, therefore, massive with
R' Yosi's being about 0.9x what I had estimated (540 lbs per carrier)
and R' Yehuda's being about 2/3 of that (360 lbs). To rationalize
the views of the above Tanna'im, perhaps the boards comprising the
mizbe'ach were thinner than what I assumed and had thinner cladding,
or perhaps there were more than 4 carriers, i.e. long carrying poles
with teams of carriers on each end.

Yitzchok Zlochower

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 17:24:27 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: Self Evident Apikorsus

We've discussed this many times on Avodah before but, once again...
Just because someone once held a shitah does not mean that poskim do not
have the right to pasken against it or even to pasken that it is kefirah.
It does not make, say, R' Yehuda HaChasid a kofer retroactively. Nor does
it make him or anyone who holds like him incorrect. It does, however,
give anyone who holds like him the status of a kofer (although other
issues such as tinok she-nishbah need to be taken into account).

>>1. i'm not really sure if these letters/words were actually part of the
>>original torah text, so lets just mark them for later removal or

>1. Ezra Hassofeir, per B'midbor rabboh

If taken literally. And we certainly know that not all midrashim are
meant to be taken literally.

>>2. of course the bible critics are quite correct. the torah does contain
>>many contradictory versions from different perspectives that are not
>>harmonizable as the traditionalist approach has it.

>2. R. Mordechai Breuer

Oversimplification. I don't think that anyone would consider RM Breuer
to be a kofer.

>>3. to say our torah is like moshe's torah should not be understood
>>literally, because it isn't. rather it should be understood in the general
>>sense, i.e. it is for all intents and purposes the same as moshe's.

>3. R. Yaacov Weinberg z"l (late rosh yesivoh of ner israel)

In a popular work that was intentionally vague and overly simplified.

>>6. Ezra changed words of the torah, but that only restored the original
>>version which moshe had.

>6. halivni

Only PARTIALLY restored the original version. Halivni holds that we
still do not have the original version.

>>7. the sof'rim changed words of the torah

>7. Rashi

Not a davar muskam by ANY means. Mizrachi the super-commentator,
for example?

>>8. there really is no religious objection to investigations of Lower
>>Bible Criticism (i.e. those that deal with purely textual-girsoh issues).

>8. R. Hirschenson, Malki Baqqodesh

I would be interested to know if there was even one chapter in that
sefer that did not get severely criticized throughout the Torah world.
Look at some of the letters he received in response. And we only know
the ones that he printed. By the way, in vol. 4 there is a fascinating
letter from his mechutan, R' Tzvi Pesach Frank, in which he gently
lectures R. Hirschenson about not disregarding shitos of rishonim and,
derech agav, gives some history on the founding of the Edah HaCharedis.

>>9. of course there are verses in the torah that are post-moshe (and not
>>just the joshua 8 or 12)

>9. Ibn Ezra, rasbam, R. avigdor

I don't know about the latter but the former is not a davar muskam.

>>10. anshei k'neses hagg'doloh wrote some parts of chumosh

>10. Midrash Tanchumo, R. Yehudoh Ha'chosid

The former, lav davka.

>>14.  you know, that version of the torah which the Rambam himself had
>>was not identical to our own.

>14. R. Yaacov Kaminetzky

I believe that this was regarding one letter, right?

If I didn't respond to a section it is because I don't have it at the
top of my memory and have to look it up.

Gil Student

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 18:40:46 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: apikorsus

My post attracted many well thought and reasonable objections. I list
some of them and I respond to several, so as not to make this a long
dissertationome of them.

[R Meir Shinnar quoted and replied: -mi]
>> But, is it a good position to be in to say " I am an apikoros only
>> according to some shittos but not others::
>> Or is it much better and healthier to be a kosher Jew according to all
>> the shittos

> 1) There is a great difference between what we think is the best
> lecatchila shitta, and what we think is possul even bdiavad. This also
> applies to hilchot deot....

> 2) This principle is selectively applied. For a well known example,
> simple pshat in the rambam would be that any piyyut with an appeal to
> a malach (eg machnise rachamim) is avoda zara...

> 3) One principle that is lurking in the background is the power we are
> willing to give human reason - there is a famous tshuva of the radbaz
> (4:187)that someone who rejects an ikkar because his reason forced him
> to is not an epikoros (not even a nebech epikoros...) but an anus...

> 4) Another subtext is precisely the fact that the issue is being raised -
> there were many shittot that people disagreed on and questions about the
> best way of avodat hashem. Intermittently, historically, there have been
> outbreaks where differing shittot, even though held by people who were
> clearly shomre mitzvot, were labeled as epikorsut...

I suggest another subtext: are we speaking as private individuals,
as rabbis and leaders of the community or as educators.

The responsibility of teaching or leading others quite remarkably affects
ones views.

Issues of belief are different from other issues for the following

They are much more important than issues of chumra If you on the wrong
side, you are out, ...eternally?

I think that we should be machmir to the utmost on the issues that affect
our eligibility to be a 100% bona-fide Jewish believer although we do
not need to be machmir ( but we should try) in almost all other areas of
halakha and machsovo. The reason for it is that the consequence of being
wrong are so momentous. In addition, we need to be very discriminating
about why people choose to hold certain views and to guard against
legitimizing picking and choosing matters of basic belief, that is being
"megale ponim b'Tora shelo chalacha".

I agree that we should all we can to justify others and I also agree
that " a nebach apikores" is not an apikores according to R. Y. albo,
Abarbanel and many others. But also note that none of the critics
who dealt explicitly with the 13 principles have argued about the 8th
one. All suggestions against it as formulated by teh Rambam come from
fairly obscure hints of Ibn Ezra, allusion or obscure sources shrouded
in controversy regarding their interpretation.

Rambam, however, is very clear. This is not the case in regard to praying
to other powers (see intro to Siddur Otsar Hatefillos and Artscroll
Slichos) whiich ahs extensively been discusses.

So, the Rambam's opinion appears to be accepted by all the rishonim who
explicitly discussed and wrote works about the ikkarim.

These days, many follow minority opinions because of inability to believe,
due to exposure to academic views. Following these views allows them to
remain, in their eyes, within the fold and even to feel superior to the
less enlightened folks.


is the reason for picking these views in the desire to serve G-d better
or in a desperate attempt to retain a personal emotional connection with
the Judaism of one's youth?

the bottom line is, disagreement about other matters does not threaten
one's status but disagreement about the divine origin of the torah
does. Why would one want to threaten his standing in olam habbo by
selecting to follow obscure, unclear and parenthetical views and not
widely accepted, eplicit views. The issue of motivation is legitimate
in this context.

The Rambam did not have a problem because he was machmir. The Ibn Ezta,
R. Y. Hachasid and others did not have a problem because they were not
aware of Rambam's shita, as an authoritative view. The Chassidim, as
we understand it today and as they themselves always claimed, did not
negate basic matters of belief. Ditto for R, Hirsch.

M. Levin

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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 01:48:13 -0500
From: Dovid Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>

>>R. Dovid Hojda suggested to me in a private conversation that R. Yehuda
>>Hachasid held that the limited changes were also introduced under the
>>guidance of Ruach Hakkodosh. This will allow using gematrios and even

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding about what I said: I said that this
was the opinion of Rav Yosef Tov Ellem as to how Ibn Ezra would hold as
to certain minor editorial changes that may have been done intentionally,
by later nevi'im, through nevu'ah.

Nothing to do with Rav Yehuda HeChossid's opinion on such matters.
And nothing to do with Torah Codes.

Torah Codes presumably depend on exact letter for letter transmission
from Sinai, even as regards to Chasser v'Maleh. Ibn Ezra supposedly
held that early soferim were not always particular about maintaining a
chasser v'maleh messorah.

So, I would not be so quick to enlist Ibn Ezra as a possible supporter
of Torah Codes.

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Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 16:25:41 -0600
From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
"Self Evident Apiqorsout"

Thank you for providing the members of the list with a very interesting
and educational quiz.

I saw your answer key but you have really peaked my interest, as well
as that of numerous others based upon these first replies and comments
which came in rather quickly.

Can you please supply me/us with the exact quotes and sources for each
every item.

Thank you,
Joseph Mosseri

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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 10:59:45 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: Rambam, Immortality, and Mitsvos

Mlevinmd@aol.com wrote:
>> In With all you heart: The Shema in Jewish worship, practice and life,
>> I discuss this issue extensively in a separate chapter. In brief, the
>> mitsvos earn Olam Habo; however, you need the 13 ikarim so as not to
>> invalidate their performance by performing them lshem a "foreigh god".

> I don't have access to your book, so the reference does me no good.
> Perhaps you can post some mareh mekomos here. Is your book an attempt
> to interpret the Rambam, as this thread is, or is it someone else's
> opinion? Do you take into account the discussions of hishaauth hanefesh
> in the Moreh Nevuchim? ...

I apologize. I will list some of the sources to consider that, in my
opinion lead to this view. For those interested, the book is available
at targum.com or seforim stores. I believe that Micha was planning to
place a link in the on-line sore.

The concept is also advocated by Y. Liebowitz in the Faith of Maimonides,
MOD Books,TA, 1989. I realize that it goes with his general philosophy
of belief vs. mitsvos but in this case I agree with him regarding the
Rambam's view He supports it from Guide 3:51 - "mitsvos serve as the means
to occupy and fill our mnds with G-d and not any other thing". A kind
of concept of dveykus. He supports this from Meila 8:8 and Mezuza 6:10.

The following are the sources that I discuss in the book in the context
of discussing rambam's view of the Shema as a declaation of faith:

1. Hilchos Ysodei Hatorah can be interpreted to say that the path of
philosophy is for the elect but the path of mitsvos is open to all to
acieve Olam habbo.
2. Comm. to the Misna end of Makkos - Hashem gave so many mitsvos so
that we get to do at least one in a lifetime properly and earn Olam Habo
(see how it is quoted in Ikkarim 3:29)
3. Intro to Sanhedrin: 'Purpose of knowing is to do'
4. MT, 8th ch. of Melachim - a goy needs to accept 7 mitsvos before
a Jewish Beis Din, i.e. mitsvos, not philosophy (mendelsonian issues
5. Comm to Terumos 3:9

I realize that one can argue but I think that the conventional view of
Rambam as devoted adherent of Aristotle and AlFarrabi is not sufficiently

M. Levin

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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 21:20:54 -0500
From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@seas.upenn.edu>
Re: edah conf--agunot panel

Having been at this panel discussion at the Edah conference, my impression
is more that it was R' Riskin and R' Rackman on the one hand, and R'
Broyde on a totally unrelated hand.

R' Riskin, from what I understood, was endorsing the methodology of R'
Rackman's beit din, hafka'at kiddushin (see Yevamot 90b, 110a; Ketubot 3a;
Gittin 33a, 73a; Bava Batra 48b). Basically, when we say that kiddushin
is done "kedat Mosheh veYisrael," it requires the implicit approval of
the "rabbinic establishment" to be valid. In those cases in the gemara,
chazal said that that approval is retroactively taken away, thereby
"annulling" the marriage. R' Rackman and R' Riskin maintain that this is
not limited to the specific cases discussed in the gemara, but that any
beit din of 3 dayanim has the power to retroactively remove the required
approval of the rabbinic establishment from the kiddushin that initiated
a given marriage. R' Rackman's beit din does this in cases where the
husband refuses to give his wife a get.

R' Broyde spoke about kiddushei ta'ut, which is basically where a beit
din will determine that one spouse did not know something about the other
spouse, and had he/she known, would not have entered into the marriage.
Thus, like any other mekach ta'ut, the kiddushin is null and void.
This methodology has been used by the Beth Din of America, on which R'
Broyde serves, to invalidate some marriages where the husband refuses
to give a get. In this case, though, the beit din is not invoking any
special authority to act on behalf the entire rabbinic establishment,
and is simply determining what the metzi'ut was in a given situation.

My overall reaction to the panel discussion was one of surprise that
nobody challenged the contention of R' Rackman that there is no excuse for
any beit din to not employ his methodology. Had I not already known that
the vast majority of poskim, in both the "RW" and "MO" worlds, consider
it invalid, I would not have learned that from this panel discussion.
Although they may not have meant to give off this impression, one could
have deduced from the presentations of R' Riskin and R' Rackman that
any beit din that chose not to use hafka'at kiddushin simply isn't
compassionate enough, or doesn't realize the gravity of the problem or
the pain of the agunot.

(Disclaimer: I had to leave at 4:15, when the session was supposed to
end, although R' Rackman was still in the middle of speaking. Thus,
I missed the end of his presentation and the Q&A session, if there was
one, so my knowledge of the session is not entirely complete.)


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