Avodah Mailing List

Volume 11 : Number 052

Monday, August 11 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 14:37:25 -0700
From: "herbert basser" <basserh@post.queensu.ca>
Re: tan du

"Specifically, what comes to mind is R' Soloveitchik's statement that
when chazal said that women preferred any husband (tav l'meitav...) over
no husband, it was an absolute unchanging reality."

Well for a ketana who is subjected to our mode of hinuch-- after age 39,
99% true-- we design her to be a gedolah- which implies- wife of a talmid
chacham and hopefully mother of gedolim and other mothers as their "soul"
worth. Thats the conformity issue, we push compliance and the gedolim have
a large success rate in obedience due to large birthrates of thr frum
( I have 11 (youngest is 3, my oldest already has 9 of her own!). The
majority of Jews today under 8 yrs old will subscribe to this doctrine.

For a yalda who is subject to current modes of education-- at any age
99% false-- we make her into an isha-- professionally capable and able
to live well on her own, or with others, I think I saw figures showing
that marriage in the West is rapidly becoming passee for those under 25
today. (although same sex marriages are on the rise!) But they will not
reproduce themselves over the long haul. Project the future to yourself.

In halacha we only have the ketana-- and that is who we hinuchcate:
goal is to be a complete gedola.
In secular society we have the yalda, who has rights and personhood and
can be educated with unisex goals to make choices for herself.

ketana/yalda: hinuch/education

most of us, certainly me, opt for the hinuch tag, unfortunately we think
that means totally discarding the education model. A long time ago when
I was at YU (which I rarely admit to anymore) we used the word synthesis
as a catch term for combining hinuch and education. Others called it
sin-thetic. hayu zemanim.


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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 22:11:11 +0200
From: mali and david brofsky <brofsky@netvision.net.il>
mukse and pets

As I am rushing to catch a plane... the Tosafot and other rishonim
(hagahot ashri in name of maharach or zarua who permits playing with
birds) in shabbos discuss this issue. SSC, while stringint in the text,
discusses the lenient approach in a footnote (pg 343 ftnt 96). (sefer
piske teshiva cites some acharonim who are mekil)

The issue may depend upon whether animals are mukse becasue they have
no function, or becasue of a seperate gezera (related to shechita).

I recall seeing in Shut MeRosh Tzurim, by Rav Shmuel David, former Rav
of Rosh Tzurim, currently (?) Rav of Afula, who cited Rav Lichtenstein
as saying that because of the many sefekot, one may pet animals,
but shouldn't carry them. Safek if they are at all mukse, and safek
whether petting is a form of tiltul. A neighbor received the same psak
(in person) from Rav Aaron.

Off to the airport...

Kol Tuv,
David Brofsky

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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 22:09:57 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re:Maseces Midos on Tisha Bav

> He cleverly responded that the
> Tosafos Yom Tov (and, I think, the Rambam) in his introduction to Midos
> writes that the tachlis for Maseches Midos is that it will help us build
> the third Beis HaMikdash. Thus, R' Hirsch concluded, Maseches Midos
> is somewhat of a nechamah and therefore inappropriate for Tisha B'Av.

What about learning Maseces Midos or other Torah which is not Tisha Bav
oriented after chtazos? Isn't the MB in the BH quite adamant that it is
better to learn after chatzos than to batul the day away?

Steve Brizel

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 13:12:47 +0300
From: "Danny Schoemann" <dannyschoemann@hotmail.com>
Re: Sitting low

R' Gershon Dubin asked:
>My impression from the way the halacha is stated is that one sits low for 
>kinos, and then continues until chatzos the next day.

>Meaning, that one need not sit low for Ma'ariv. Is this correct, and if so 
>why is it not done, and if not, can anyone cite a source?

According to the MB (SA actually) the above is incorrect.

SA OC 559:3: The evening of 9 bAv and its day one sits in shul on the
floor until Mincha.

RMO: Now the custom is to sit on their benches right after leaving shul
in the morning, and one drags out kinos until shortly before midday.

MB 11: Floor: I.e. after answering Boruch Hashem Hamevorach etc. as this
needs to be done standing.

- Danny

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 13:38:49 +0300
From: "Danny Schoemann" <dannyschoemann@hotmail.com>
Re: technique to allow Kohanim to visit kever - legitimate ?

R' Mordechai asked about something he read in a book: donning some
type of contraption (something like boxes on their feet [and hands
?]) to enable Kohanim to visit the (late Lubavitcher) rebbe's ohel,
without transgressing.

 From what I know:

- There's no way for a cohen to enter the ohel of a corpse. Being under
the same roof makes him tomei. [Kitzur SA 202:2] (Hence a cohen doesn't
spend needless time in a hospital.)

- A cohen is not allowed within 4 amos of any kever. [ibid 8]

- Tumas Meis travels vertically "all the way up". (Hence the problem of
airplanes flying over cemeteries.) However, if there is 4 tefachim of
space between the corpse and the "roof" above him then the tuma stops
travelling vertically. (This is why the Beis hamikdash was built above
a system of "arches over arches".) (I can find you sources if you wish).

So, theoretically, if a cohen wanted to walk over the ohel of a meis,
he could build a hollow platform (with 4 tefochim of hollow and 4 amos
distance) over the ohel, being careful to always remain entirely above
the platform. (A similar system was when transporting the Red heifer
"workers" to ensure no tuma from long lost graves.)

Having hollow shoes and gloves wouldn't do the trick. Even being in a
sealed airplane doesn't do the trick.

See also Kitzur SA 202:14: There are "cohanim hedyotim" who visit kivrai
tzadikim saying that kivrai tzadikim doesn't cause tuma. They are mistaken
and one has to object.

- Danny

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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 22:15:23 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re:Technique to allow Kohanim to visit kever

IIRC, RHS discussed this issue with respect to Kohanom visiting the
MMoras Hamachpelah. There is a medrash that is possibly quoted by the
Zohar but rejected by most poskim that Kivrei Tzadikim aino mtame. RHS
pointed out that most poskim understood the Medrash in a non literal
sense and have held that Kohanim should avoid such a situation because
of the tumas ohel issue.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 22:56:11 EDT
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

This question of why the Keruvim were entangled specifically at the time
of the churban was asked from the Magid of Mezeritch who answered that it
is the sod of the halacha that a man must visit his wife before embarking
on a trip. The original source of this idea is in the seifer Chemdas
Hayomim that has split the Jewish world at its time as possibly being a
Sabbatean Work. The answer is beutiful but may be lot more problematic
kabbalistically than it sounds.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 01:34:17 -0400
From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@bellatlantic.net>
pi and chazal

ecent notes on areivim have commented on the use by the talmudic sages of
a rough value of 3 for pi in the calculation of circular areas despite
the fact that more accurate values were known and used at the time.
For example, "Googling pi" quickly yields a reference to the history
of estimates made in antiquity. There we learn that Archimedes,
the Greek scientist who lived in the 3rd century BCE, demonstrated
that pi was between 22/7 = 3.142857 and 223/71 = 3.140845. Archimedes
accomplished this feat by calculating the perimeters of inscribed and
circumscribed polygons and dividing by their diameters. He reasoned
that the more sides to a polygon, the more it approximated a circle,
and the polygons inside and outside the circle would converge to the
intermediate circle. The tediousness of this calculation led him to
stop after some high value for polygonal sides. Had he kept going he
could have reached the value, 3.14159268358979 which is accurate to 15
places. Its numbers can be remembered via the following cute mnemonic
which uses the number of letters in a word for the corresponding digit in
pi: "How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures
involving quantum mechanics". Of course, pi is a trancendental number
("worse" than irrational) which can not be represented with complete
accuracy by any finite string of digits. There is no way, then, that
Moshe could have been taught a totally accurate value of pi - only an
algorithm for calculating it to an arbitrary number of decimal places.

It is rather futile, then, to look for mnemonics or Gematrios in Tanach
which will give an "accurate" value for pi. The scheme mentioned in
Areivim (30*111/106 = 10 pi = 31.4150943396) from the verse dealing
with the construction of Shlomo's brazen reservoir (Kings I 7:23) has
been attributed variously to the Vilna Gaon and to Isaac Newton, but is,
apparently, of much more modern origin and is not that accurate. A better
estimate using ratios of 3 digit numbers is 355/113 = 3.14159292035. The
latter estimate is a 300 fold improvement in accuracy over the gematria
derived value. In general, finding a gematria or an equidistant letter
code in Tanach that alludes to a known fact does not demonstrate that
such was the hidden intent of the verse or section since we may suspect
that only the "successful" searches will be reported.

A more basic issue is the use by the sages of an interpretation of
biblical verses to attempt to establish physical reality, when the
evidence does not support their assumptions. This seems to be the case
with the dating of the duration of the 2nd temple. Based, apparently, on
an interpretation of Daniel 9:24, the Tannaitic author of "Seder Olam"
assumed that 490 years elapsed between the destruction of the 1st and
2nd temples. This calculation provided for only a very brief period
of Persian rule. Yet contemporary histories spoke of an Achaemenid
Persian empire that lasted some 200 years. Nor was the collapsing of
the reigns of Cyrus, Darius the Great, and Artxerxes into one consistent
with either the contemporary Greek histories or the separate mausoleums
built for these emperors. The same problem exists for pi. The sages in
T.B. Eruvin 14a appear to insist on the accuracy of their interpretation
of Kings I 7:23 which speaks of a circumference of the brazen reservoir
of Shlomo as being, ostensibly, 3 times its diameter. That value of 3
for pi is taken as accurate since it has a biblical origin. Tosfot on
that page ("Veha'eecha...") have already noted that this value is not
in accord with mathematical knowledge, and leave it as an open question.
The question is not on the author of Melachim since the large vessel may
not have been perfectly circular in crossection, or the basin may have
been flared at the top. In the latter case, the 10 cubit diameter may
have been measured at the flared top, while the 30 cubit circumference
may have been measured lower down in the cylindrical section (the sages
in Eruvin demonstrate that the bottom part of the basin must have been
square in crossection in order to account for its volume).

In matters of religious consequence, the sages have the authority to use
any approximation that they see as proper in determining the halacha.
In civil matters, I suppose that the services of a surveyor using modern
tools would be used in establishing rights over land. The sticky point
has to do with matters of historical fact or of academic distinctions.
Should we always rely on the views of the sages as the guideposts to
truth, or are allowed to use our own judgement based on outside knowledge?
I know that this more general topic has been the subject of heated debate
in this forum, and I don't intend to instigate a reprise. I only wished
to add a new element to that discussion. Hopefully, further discussions
will focus on pi, Eruvin, and more generally on talmudic measurements.

Yitzchok Zlochower

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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 10:19:40 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Re: Someich Noflim

>On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 11:57:51PM -0400, YGB wrote:
>: "Someich Hashem l'kol ha'noflim v'zokef l'kol ha'kefufim."
>: The questions are obvious:
>We say this numerous times a day, oy lanu that we're first noticing the
>issue now!

Sad thing is, of course, that we really do not daven at a pace nor usually 
in a place that allows for such analysis. That's why I like giving shiurim 
on Beurei Tefillah.

[Email #2. -mi]

A great he'oroh by a correspondent and my response:
>  I am wondering if this is what Dovid haMelech was
>looking to realize when he asked HKB"H to test him?
>Perhaps he was looking to shore up his own bitachon
>rather than the standard view of testing his "Yetzer
>HaRah"control? ...

I like it! Perhaps this is is pshat in "Baruch ha'gever asher yivtach
ba'Hashem v'hayah Hashem mivtacho" - it is not just enough to trust in
Hashem, because it also requires that Hashem mivtacho. And that would be
an explanation of the Gemara's amazing statement that Dovid was framed -
he expected Hashem to be mivtacho, but Hashem did not act accordingly,
as the concept of "Av" that Dovid was attempting to achieve requires
"Hishalech lefanai" - to advance without the mivtach.


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Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 23:03:36 EDT
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Woman as Temptress

> And yet the halacha clearly acknowledges that men do find women a
> temptation against which they must guard themselves. Or how are you to
> understand the references in all the discussions about handshaking and
> dancing and tznius to the concept of lifnei iver?

Yes, but it is not something that makes a woman evil; in fact, it is
more of a man's problem. As a good friend, women should make it easier
for men to avoid temptation for which men should be grateful.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 13:33:57 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Woman as Temptress

On Sun, Aug 10, 2003 at 11:03:36PM -0400, Mlevinmd@aol.com wrote:
:> And yet the halacha clearly acknowledges that men do find women a
:> temptation against which they must guard themselves. Or how are you to
:> understand the references in all the discussions about handshaking and
:> dancing and tznius to the concept of lifnei iver?

: Yes, but it is not something that makes a woman evil; in fact, it is
: more of a man's problem. As a good friend, women should make it easier
: for men to avoid temptation for which men should be grateful.

Along similar lines, I've argued on scjm repeatedly that the prohibition
against women singing in mixed company is lifnei iver.

Kol Ishah would prohibit men from being present in a location where they
can hear/listen.


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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 15:45:26 +0200
From: "Ari Kahn" <kahnar@mail.biu.ac.il>
Ahavas Chinam

The Ibn Ezra of Vayikra 19:17 almost says Ahavas Chinam, what he does
say is that hating ones brother in the heart is the opposite of loving
ones neighbor, and by keeping Love of ones Neighbor we will return to
the Land, because of groundless hatred the second temple was destroyed.

The Sefer Chareidim section 66 says that just as keeping the commandment
to love your neighbor, is like keeping the entire torah, hating ones
neighbor is a rejection of the whole Torah

Ari Kahn

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 16:14:01 +0200
From: "Ari Kahn" <kahnar@mail.biu.ac.il>

> we know that in good times, the two keruvim faced each other lovingly, and
> that in not-so-good times, they didn't. as i recall, in the not-so-good
> times, they both turned around and had their backs to each other. That
> sounds pretty harsh. i'd like to think that throughout all the tochachas
> and punishments, HaShem never really gets angry at us, and is only doing
> what's necessary to bring us home.

> is it possible, does anyone suggest, might we interpet it, that although
> our keruv turned its back on HaShem, *His* keruv kept facing ours? if
> His turned around as well, that's a picture that i really don't want to
> think about.

His keruv turned away as well. See Sefer Hatoda'ah re Tisha B'Av. But the
famous end of the story is that when things were at their worst--when He
poured anger out on us and destroyed the BHM'K--the keruvim were found
locked in tight embrace. A beautiful and moving image. Love most intense
when we thought we were rejected.

Even though the keruvim were a type of spiritual barometer of the
relationship of God and man, I am not convinced, that one is ours and
one is Hashem's. but if you do like this approach, the Beni Yisaschar
writes, that just as a man must embrace his wife prior to a journey,
so did the shechina embrace the kruv at the moment when the Shechina
was about to take leave.

The Keruvim which have the image of innocent looking male and female
children first appear in the Torah when man in expelled from Gan Eden,
it is possible that they represent Adam and Eve prior to the sin.

I have developed this idea in my book Explorations, if anyone is
interested I will gladly email that chapter.

Regarding the apparent contradiction which has been noted by the
commentaries, on the one hand we are told when Israel followed the will
of Hashem they embraced, when Israel left the will of Hashem they turned
their backs, yet at the point of Churban they were found embracing.

I have a simple suggestion, prior to the churban the people did not
believe the Navi, and did as they pleased, perhaps they didn't believe
it possible that the Beis Hamikdash could be destroyed, when did they
start to believe this, only at the point of churban, there response was
to pray with incredible kavanah, as is evidenced by the loving posture
of the keruvim.

Unfortunately it was too late.

Rav Zadak hakohen says that this prayer is what caused for the birth of
Messiach on Tisha Bav.

Ari Kahn

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 16:34:23 +0200
From: "Ari Kahn" <kahnar@mail.biu.ac.il>
tu Bav

Here is an article I wrote on Tu Bav
Ari kahn 

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 17:23:18 +0300
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@fandz.com>
Re:Maseces Midos on Tisha Bav

On 10 Aug 2003 at 22:09, Zeliglaw@aol.com wrote:
> Isn't the MB in the BH quite adamant that
> it is better to learn after chatzos than to batul the day away?

I believe that the BH to which you are referring (553:2 s"v v'lachen)
is referring to Erev Tisha b'Av (while the SA is referring to Erev Tisha
b'Av that comes out on Shabbos, the MB says that he is meikil to learn
even on Erev Tisha b'Av during the week).

-- Carl

mailto:cmsherer@fandz.com      mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.

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Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 17:58:34 +0300
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva@atwood.co.il>
RE: technique to allow Kohanim to visit kever - legitimate ?

> See also Kitzur SA 202:14: There are "cohanim hedyotim" who visit kivrai
> tzadikim saying that kivrai tzadikim doesn't cause tuma. They are mistaken
> and one has to object.

I know of a Cohen T.C here in Yerushalayim who holds that way.


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Date: Fri, 08 Aug 2003 13:20:45 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Fragmantation of the self, was: Woman as temptress

[RYGB allowed me to forward the following article in response to the
comment by RMLevin:
> The story of Kain is likewise about the fragmentation of the self,
> internally through separation of personality into the Yetser Hatov and
> Yetser hara and externally through fratricide. Again, reaunification
> of personality is accomplished through mamshala. This is why the
> languages are similar but they express the identity of the processes
> of fragmentationa and reabsorbtion and not some kind of facile reading
> of a woman as the evil impulse. Externalization of yetser Hara and
> its replacement on to another human (Jew, woman, heretic) is a very
> characteristic Christian mode of thought.


The Pinocchio Problem
Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

Many readers are doubtless familiar with the 19th century children's
story "Pinocchio." If you are not, let me summarize the tale (taking some
liberties) for the purposes of this essay. If you are familiar with the
work, by all means, skip the next paragraph.

Pinocchio is a wooden puppet, or marionette, created by the woodcarver
Geppetto. Pinocchio is "alive" - walks, talks, engages in human-type
behavior - but is not a human being. Marionettes are generally controlled
by strings. Pinocchio has no strings attached - externally - but the
point of the tale is that there are internal strings as well.

Geppeto's ardent desire is to see Pinocchio become a human, and Pinocchio
is kind of interested in this pursuit as well. Pinocchio is granted a
conscience, Jiminy Cricket, who tells Pinocchio what the "right" thing
is to do. The adventures that form the bulk of the plot test Pinocchio
with temptations and compromising situations. Ultimately, Pinocchio's
altruistic side vanquishes his inclinations towards indulgence and
amoral activity. He is then granted true humanity, becoming a son to
Geppetto. Along the way, Pinocchio was endowed with an interesting trait:
When he lied, his nose would grow, as if the wood of which he was carved
was alive. When he resumed telling the truth, his nose returned to its
original state. Ad kan ha'nogei'ah l'inyaneinu.

Something about the story suddenly struck me the other day: It is a
very powerful metaphor for a particular problem that we face in our
society. The problem is this: We often externalize our "conscience." Why
is this such a problem? Because then, the battle between our conscience
and our drives takes place outside our selves.

Let me explain: We Torah-true Jews have a common perception of what
is "good" and "holy." We possess, however, great desires, drives and

Chazal tell us that we are born with our yetzer ho'ra; but we acquire
our yetzer ha'tov only at the age of bar or bas mitzva. Our conscience -
our yetzer ha'tov - begins work late and comes from outside of us, like
a Jiminy Cricket. In the meantime, we can identify internally with our
drives and our own agendas - our yetzer ho'ra.

At that point - and often beyond - we are, in essence, stuck in the mode
that we (well, at least some of us) experienced in our school days:
There is a system that we know, in some abstract way, is "good." We,
however, test the system, bend the rules, and exploit its weaknesses
("naval b'reshus ha'Torah," or worse...). All too often we adhere to
the system as minimally as possible so as not be expelled, suspended or
otherwise punished, scraping by and passing to get "through."

The un-internalized rituals and clothing of Yahadus ha'Torah may thus
comprise that Jiminy Cricket, the external conscience which we retain as
a societal identity - but it is extrinsic - what the Mekkuballim call an
Or Makkif - an enveloping light that does little to affect the internal
state of the soul. The yetzer ha'tov does not become an Or Pnimi -
an internal illumination.

With a conscience that is outside and distinct, we can maintain a
superficial identification with a good and holy system, yet simultaneously
do as we please - as long as the system doesn't "catch up" with us and
castigate us. We are much like a fellow who will speed as long as he
sees no policeman. True, we may feel somewhat guilty over our pleasures,
but as Chazal note at the end of Chagigah, guilt does not help very much
in restraining us from negative activities.[1]

Internalizing the conscience is the process of becoming fully "human."[2]

While it would be great to emerge victorious over our yetzer ho'ra,
the reality is that most of us must battle our yetzer. If my yetzer
ha'tov is still a Jiminy Cricket, the battle is between my yrtzer ho'ra
and me. What, however, if my yetzer ha'tov is no longer outside of me,
but inside me? If I have internalized my conscience, it is part of me,
and it is ever present in my consideration.

We may equate this stage with maturity. In Pinocchio, it is equated
with humanity. Pinocchio is no longer a puppet to be manipulated by
"strings" - he is a free human being. "Ein lecha Ben Chorin elah me
she'oseik ba'Torah." I am no longer my subjective agenda struggling to
find the weaknesses I can exploit in the system. I have a component
within myself that weighs matters objectively - and I need to make
decisions. This of course, restricts my "fun." A 19 or 20-year-old may
express his resistance to maturity[3] thus: "Eventually, when I am 21 or 22
and get married, I will lead a full Torah life - now I'm young, I want
to enjoy myself." The danger in this behavior becomes obvious from the
original fairytale: Pinocchio attempts to squash that annoying talking
cricket. "Ha'Omer echtoh v'ashuv ein mapikin b'yado la'asos teshuva."

Let us introduce the most germane issue of this whole discourse by
continuing our mashal. Pinocchio faced many temptations. Sheker, however,
had the most immediate and dramatic effect: It provoked an immediate
warning sign - the growing nose.

What is this conscience that we seek to have internalized? There are
several definitions of both the yetzarim -. For this discussion, I believe
the definitions given by Reb Yisroel Salanter zt"l are most relevant.

Reb Yisroel[4] says that yetzer ha'tov is often a synonym for the intellect
("seichel") while yetzer ho'ra is frequently identified with emotion
("kochos ha'nefesh"). Not, says Reb Yisroel, that intellect is always
used for the good, nor that emotion is always for the bad. The converse
can, and does, occur. Nevertheless, following intellectual conclusions
will usually lead one to good; following emotional drives will generally
lead elsewhere.

When a person internalizes Emes, the awareness and contemplation
thereof give him the objectivity necessary to perform a true Cheshbon
ha'Nefesh. Indeed, the Rambam tells us that the first test of Odom
Ho'Rishon was not that of good vs. evil, but rather that of emes
vs. sheker. When Emes is relegated to the shoulder, when Sheker holds
internal sway, then evil follows - extending gradually, imperceptibly,
at first, then sprouting and growing beyond control.[5] External awareness
cannot do the trick.[6] The battleground must be internal, not external.

But, indeed, how do we educate ourselves and others to achieve Emes?

This question leads me to another facet of my experience. My wont, when
giving a Hashkofo Shiur, is to always strive to present objectively
all sides of the issue at hand, even those that I will ultimately
reject. Someone once asked me: Why present positions that are against the
Mesorah that has come down to us from the overwhelming majority of Gedolim
even as an intellectual Hava Amina? Suffice it to say that the Gedolim
oppose position X, s'iz doch keggen undzer Mesorah, and that's that!

At first glance, this approach is tantalizingly appealing. It certainly
saves significant mental exertion, which perhaps, may then be devoted
to mego, rov and chazoko. Furthermore, there is a strong, and very
legitimate, emotional appeal in "Ru'ach Yisroel Sabbah." There is
much literature in our circles that is based on this approach. I hope,
however, that the reader by now realizes that this apparent short cut
is not without potential pitfalls:

Declarative statements may remain extrinsic. The battle may remain
external. Nominal, even occasional, commitments are still "valid"
options. It is only by inculcating the quest for truth and meaning; by
imparting (or, if you are on your own, acquiring) both the truth and
its basis; and, by training oneself and others to rigorously assess,
analyze and critique, that the conscience is internalized, te battle is
internal, and we "mohn" (demand) of ourselves. It is only when we make
those demands of ourselves that they are truly inescapable.[7]

In taking our mashal to its conclusion, we might understand an interesting
perspective of the Zohar Ha'Kodosh. The Zohar calls the 613 mitzvos
"Taryag Ittin" (613 suggestions). To be sure, although there are other
interpretations, the simple derivation of mitzvah is from the verb tzaveh,
i.e., command. Why does the Zohar depart from the simple meaning?

Perhaps the Zohar is pointing at the difference between the external
Jiminy Cricket and the internalized conscience. At the earlier stage, the
mitzvos resemble the rules and regulations that an external system must
impose on its constituents. This is the level of Avdus - the impositions
of a Master on His servant. These rules are necessary, for the as yet
immature individual - be he seventeen or seventy - needs a system and
its confines to keep him - and society - on the straight and narrow.

But it is not for that end that Ha'Kadosh Baruch Hu created us: "Banim
attem la'Hashem Elokeichem." The more we internalize "Hashem Elokeichem
Emes" the more we achieve that true Tzelem Elokim which is our innermost
essence, the more it is not imposed command but inner truth - no longer
the directive of a Master to a servant but the loving advice of a Father
to his beloved - and loving son.[8]

After a long, long look, Pinocchio said to himself with great content:
"How ridiculous I was as a Marionette! And how happy I am, now that I
have become a real boy!"

(The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, 1881)

[These are some notes to an editor that RYGB included with the article.
The footnotes are below. -mi]

Here is some initial critique I received from an e-mail pal on the essay:

I read through the article carefully and loved it. However, I'm not
sure that it is as clear as it can be. It took me two reads to really
understand it. I tested it out by giving it to my wife to read. She
couldn't fit the pieces together until I explained it to her.

Perhaps you could expand your transitions from section to section and
explain how your ideas build on each other. Particularly, the move from
yetzer hatov as intellect (which, BTW, is more from Chovos HaLevavos than
R' Yisrael Salanter; the latter has a two-part concept of yetzer hatov -
see the Iggeres HaMussar) to the importance of emes.

Another e-mail pal suggested that I need to be marchiv the mashal a
tad, as he was choshesh, as you were, that much of our Oilem may not
be familiar with the Pinocchio story, Others felt that it is indeed
well-known, but I am certainly willing to add a line or two.

My wife herself found the writing too "stream of consciousness" and says
it needs tightening - no doubt due in part to the time at which it was
written, but part because that was the mindset in which I wrote it.

I have also started looking for additional mareh mekomos - there is,
for example, a really interesting Reb Itzele Volozhiner in which he says
the yetzer ho'rah is omed bein ha'pnimi'im v'ha'makkifim. There is also
a Derashos ho'Ran on seichel vs. the yetzer, etc.

In any event, as I noted l'chatchilah, it's a work in progress, and I
acknowledge the need for revision, even significant changes (while not
expanding its length overly much - my wife said there's plenty of room
to wield a knife), and am still eager, at this point, to get a nod on
the concepts as such.

Derech agav, I would like to note to you once more that the rubba
d'rubba - perhaps 75-80% - of my talmidim are from "Heimishe" (whatever
that means - here defined as Yeshivishe and Chassidishe) backgrounds,
and many of them are unequipped for independent thought, understanding
and articulating emes. This has had, for a significant number of them,
ramifications in the present as I have described in the essay, an utter
dissonance between the positions they espouse (min ha'sofo v'la'chutz)
and elements of the lives they lead, and, more so, gives me great concern
for their stability in the workforce - they need to know, that it is no
just OK, but imperative, that they deploy their seichel and understand
emes. I think the Pinocchio moshol had a penetrating impact, and, of
course, I must continue to build on it.

[This appears to be another bit of feedback that RYGB included. -mi]

There are four possibilities:
1. Identifying with both the YhT and YhR 
2. Identifying with only the YhT 
3. Identifying with only the YhR 
4. Identifying with neither

Of those four, the only undeniably good one is 2 - identifying with
only the YhT (I don't think being oved Hashem with both yetzarim means
identifying with both).

I would say that the most common are 3 and 4, which RYGB address in
his article. Some feedback ... all in my humble opinion of course.
1) The essay seemed to be three sub-essays, and the structure linking them
together didn't come through to me. 2) The key yesod was the Pinnochio
one -- i .e., internalization vs externalization of the yetzer hatov. I
think that much more can be done with this (e.g., yetzer hara being
born with a person rather than the yetzer tov coming at bar mitzvah).
3) the discussion of intellect versus emotion was extremely troubling to me
(i.e., did not corrrespond to reality and seforim). More importantly for
the essay, it did not seem relevant to the Pinocchio thesis: after all,
one can internalize good emotions or good intellect and vice versa. 4) The
point of how bad chinuch is (currently) and the need to understand the
fundamentals of yahadus is important but (should be) trivial. Again,
the point is true without (necessarily) validating your key point.


[1] It is concerning a person at this stage of life that the Michtav
Mei'Eliyahu insightfully notes that when he speaks to himself about his
drives and desires he says things like: "I want this"; yet when he speaks
to himself about proper behavior he admonishes himself in the format of:
"You shouldn't do that."

[2] It is interesting, in this context, to note that Reb Itzele from
Volozhin zt"l, in his he'oroh at the beginning of his father's Nefesh
Ha'Chaim, cites Mekkuballim who locate the yetzer ho'ra between the
penimi'im and the makkifim.

[3] I am sorely tempted to bring Peter Pan in here, but enough fairytale
metaphors for one essay!

[4] Or Yisroel Iggeres 30, p. 84 in the Vilna 5660 edition and its
reprints. The truth is, of course, that everything I have tried to bring
out in this essay (and more) is essentially explicit in the Or Yisroel
there and in the very first lines of the Iggeres ha'Mussar. Sometimes,
however, a good mashal is a helpful tool...

[5] Sukkah 52b.

[6] "Yod'im Resho'im she'darchom l'miso, v'yesh lohem chilev al kislom"
- Shabbos 31b.

[7] Of course, it may seem somewhat strange for us to build all of this
based on Pinocchio. Excellent point. Let us turn, therefore, to a parallel
in the Maharal: Be'er Ha'Golah, end of Be'er 7 (free translation):

    When an individual does not intend to scoff, but rather only to
    state his belief, even if these positions stand against your belief
    and system, don't say to him: "Don't talk, seal your mouth!" Then,
    the system will not become clear. On the contrary, in such matters
    we say: "Speak as much as you want, all that you want to say, so
    that you will not be able to say that were you granted permission
    to expand I would have spoken further [and convinced you with my
    beliefs]." If, however, you so close his [the questioner's] mouth and
    prevent him from speaking, that indicates the system's weakness. This
    is the opposite of people's impression that it is not permissible
    to discuss the system, and that thus the system is strengthened -
    on the contrary, thus the system is undermined... And thus a person
    comes to the inner truth of matters... For [after all], any hero
    that wants to compete with another to demonstrate his might wants
    very much that his opponent muster as much strength as possible -
    only then, if the hero overcomes his opponent, does it indicate that
    he is the mightier hero. What might, however, does he display if his
    opponent is not permitted to stand strong and wage war against him...

Cf. the Alter from Kelm's Chochmo U'Mussar vol. 2 p. 50 and p. 76,
that both Mesorah and Thought must go hand in hand.

[8] I contemplated linking the level of Avadim to "Shemi'ah" and the
level of Banim to "Re'iah," but let us leave that for another time.

Go to top.


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