Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 040

Wednesday, November 5 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 21:03:51 -0800 (PST)
From: sam pultman <spultman@yahoo.com>
Re: Nusach Ari

There were many Siddurim written by Ba'alei Kabbala and there was even
more than one Siddur called Siddur HaAri Z'L. What the Ba'al Hatanya did
was make a siddur that was Nusach HaAri utilizing kisvei HaAri as the
source. The Ba'al Hatanya also made it simple for the layman hence he
even omitted the kavanos HaAri (Sha'ar Ha'Kolel in the hakdamha siman 7
and 6:9). The best source of information on this subject is sefer Sha'ar
Ha'Kolel. There were also some fascinating articles written in the last
few Pardas Chabad concerning the Ba'al Hatanya's Siddur.

Shmuel Pultman

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 09:40:19 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Halakhic Advisors

In a message dated 10/16/2003 10:21:34 PM EST, gil@aishdas.org writes:
> Dr. Wolowelsky continues, "[W]e should keep in mind that rabbis
> who lack talmudic semikha -- and that includes all rabbis today --
> have no real halakhic function granted by virtue of their ordination"
> (ibid.). Again, this is simply incorrect. It ignores both the purpose
> of contemporary semicha and historical decrees that require it. See, for
> example, Shu"t Rivash no. 271 and Shem HaGedolim part 1, yud, no. 238. R'
> Hershel Schachter's "Kuntres HaSemicha" in his Eretz HaTzvi also has
> relevant discussion. There is status granted by ordination but without
> scholarship, piety, etc. it is independently insufficient.

Assuming this to be a fact that 
 - neither the Amora Shmuel nor the Ba'al Mishnah Brurah had Semicha when
they made their Halachic statements
 - What is the implication of anyone lacking Semicha from giving a
 Halachic opinion?

I guess R. Giil alluded to this when he sitinguishes between paskening
Halachah and quoting Halachah.

If I understand the impmlicatoin correctly then it would seem to me that
Women -or any non-musmakh- m ay quote Halachah
but only a musmach may pasken a shei'lah?

Is this correct?   

Kol Tuv - Best Regards
Richard Wolpoe <RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com>
The above post is dedicate to the Memory of My Mom 
Gertrude Wolpoe OBM, Gittel Bas Nachum Mendel Halevi A"H

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 10:44:07 -0600 (CST)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Who is a Posek?

R' Aryeh Frimer recently sent in an interesting post to Mail-Jewish.
I'll reproduce it here and add a brief comment:

Choose your Rabbi well! R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yom haShishi, 16 Iyyar 5757
(May 23, 1997), p. 26 and again on 27 Tevet 5762 (January 11, 2002)
p. 26, has indicated that one should not rely on the halakhic rulings of
a rabbi who, despite his recognized general scholarship, is known not
to be an expert in halakha. Should one rely on such a halakhic ruling,
if the rabbi's pesak later proves to be in error, the questioner is
held fully culpable (ne-hshav ki-meizid) for his/her misdeeds. A similar
position was stated by R. Hayyim Volozhiner, Resp. Hut haMeshulash, I,
end of sec. 13. See also Resp. Rashba, I, sec. 98 (end).

R' Yehuda Henkin writes in Bnei Banim vol. 2 no. 10 that the issue of
Women's Tefillah Groups can only be paskened by "gedolim". His word
choice, not mine. He evidently disagrees with those who claim that a
LOR should do whatever he thinks is best.

Gil Student

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 11:35:52 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Kullos & Chumros was: Rabbi Yosef Bechhofer & Eruvin

In a message dated 10/20/2003 9:14:24 AM EST, micha@aishdas.org writes:
> Other examples where Chazal actively hunted for qulos: agunos,
> mamzeirus, hefseid merubah (which in a way includes the previous two),
> and aveilus. If anyone can help create a complete list, I'd appreciate
> it. I started collecting these to prove to a C email friend that these
> are the exception, and that in general the halakhic process is not about
> hunting for qulos qua qulos nor chumros for their own sake.

The problem with C might be simpler put.
Objective Halachah should yield about a 50-50 breakdown over the longterm.
Lemashal Thsuvos of R. Moshe introduced many kulos and many chumros.
Certainly, a deviation from 50-50 is possible, some poskim are probably
60-40 one way or the other.

There has to be a max somewhere, where the underlying agenda overwhelms

It would seem obvious that since C's find {lemashal} 90-99% kullos
therefore that is not objective Halachah.


Now there are other methodologies that might cause the batting average
to be a bit skewed. I'm trying to define a list of such methodolgies

The C model combines at leat one or more of the following:
a) Cherchez la kullah
b) Assume that contemporary society and the current trends is correct
and bend Halachah to comly

O's use one or more of the following methodoglogies:

1) Rov Poskim or at least Rov Major Poskim {I would call this Beis
Yosef model}
2) Asheknaz Minhaggim/Massorah  {Maharil - Rema Model}
3) Mimetics over Text {perhahps Chayyim Soloveichik or Aruch Hashulchan}
4) Earliest known version {restorative model}
5) Latest psak {azlinan basar basro'i or midges on shoulders of giants model}
6) Follow the Bavli exclusively {Ri migash?? model}
7) Follow Bavli - AND Yerushalmi Tosefta Sifra, etc.
8) Follow Svara {develop a hypothesis as to the underrlying dynamics
of a Halacahah, say that this is how the takkanah was meant to be and
then retrofit Restorative model}
9) Yotzei yedia chulam {Mishnah Brurah - Mussar Model}

lemashal re: giving aliyyos to women
a  C would use a & b

O might use 3 & 8 to be mattir
another O might use 6 and then deal with k'vod hatzibbur using 8

Most O's would probably use 1-3

The problem with SOME O poskim is that they might generally eschew 1-3
in general and then rely upon it to prohibit women alliyos. This is
what I call the inconsistent methodology

Micha is correct that legabei Agunos we have a tradition to be meikel.
But I am disappointed that O poskim have been unable to nail a solid
solution using the above models. That is because there is a real
need to solve this problem. Forgive my political incorrectness <smile>
but I don't see a coresponding need to give women aliyos. Aderrabbo,
as Minhag/Massorah devotee, I would say iit's not broke so don't fix it.


There is also a danger I se among O's is to accept a Method when an O
poseik uses it but to reject the same method in the hands of a C poseik.

It goes something like this.

We have a Massorah to do X
Due to dilligent research an O poseik shows that al pi the Gmara X is
really a bit flawed and the Halacha should be X' instead. Meanwhile,
said O poseik ingores post-Talmudic decision making that either accepted
X or pree-supposed X to make other decisions

OTOH, when a C poseik does the same thing, the objection is brought -
how can you ignore the post-Talmudic Massorah?

This is the slippery slope.

Kol Tuv - Best Regards
Richard Wolpoe <RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com>
The above post is dedicate to the Memory of My Mom 
Gertrude Wolpoe OBM, Gittel Bas Nachum Mendel Halevi A"H

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 12:30:34 -0600 (CST)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Counting the Non-frum for a Minyan

Regarding the discussion on Areivim about counting for a minyan someone
who does not keep Shabbos, R' Moshe Feinstein writes that one can count
someone who is not frum for a minyan. See Iggeros Moshe OC 1:23, 3:14.
So does R' Yitzchak Herzog in Heichal Yitzchak OC 2. These lenient views
are chiddushim and many others disagree with the chiddush.

An interesting source I found that is strict on this issue is R' Yehuda
Henkin in Bnei Banim 2:9 in a footnote.

Gil Student

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 21:48:44 +0200
From: D & E-H Bannett <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Re: Morid Hatal

R' EMT wrote <<I believe that the second edition of the [Ezor Eliyahu]
siddur changed hatal to a patach.>>

I do not have the first addition. The "corrected edition, copyright 2000"
has a segol in hageshem and patach in hatal. The footnote states hageshem
b'segol. kein hu in all old siddurim and the change to a kamatz was by
Vaye'tar Yitzhak [Satanov]....Hatal b'fatach. Ken hu in most old Ashkenaz
mahzorim (in tefillat tal) and old Sefardic siddurim....etc...more or
less as I wrote in my posting.


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Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 13:45:35 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Emanation and Panentheism

Just came across an article that might be of interest to this thread.
"Total Nature" and Particular Nature" on the identification of G-d with
Nature by Alexander Barzel Daat 17 pp67-80 summary found in journal:

"When R' David Nieto - in his sermon delivered in ...London 1703 -
identified G-d with nature, the listeners were shocked. He was called
upon to explain his "heretical" drasha, but instead, he reaffirmed
his argument, relying on the Scriptures and other well known sources.
Problem was now presented before Chacham Tzvi and he together with two
other rabbinic authorities of his time justified Nieto's identification.
In spite of the fact that this event occured in the span of one generation
from Spinoza's statement, "deus sive natura" not one of the documents
mentioned it and all the disputants refer to traditional rabbinic
sources. The author of this paper interpreting the Responsum #18 of
Chacham Tzvi shows further roots in Jewish thought of the identity of
the dispute. Nieto and Chacham Tzvi distinguish between the "particular
Nature" the very heat of a particular dish, the rain on this very soil,
the corporal defect of a particular individual... and the "Total nature"
or Nature as totality. Nieto declared that his intention was to identify
G-d with the Totality of nature i.e. with the Totality of Providence
and Lawfulness. There are only two not three levels: not G-d and Nature
as Totality and particular occurrences of nature, but G-d i.e. Nature as
Totality and the particular occurrences of nature. Chacham Tzvi justified
his argumentation and added more sources. The Supreme Order of Nature,
the Totality of Lawfulness is G-d that is Providence."

Haven't read the article myself.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 14:45:34 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Hashgocha protis and suicide

Gil@aishdas.org wrote:
>R' Elchanan Wasserman posits that this is a machlokes rishonim.

>Tosafos in Kesuvos 30a sv ha-kol write that one may commit suicide
>even if it has not been previously ordained - "de-ha vadai she-be-yado
>le-hamis atzmo".

>REW in Kovetz Ma'amarim, peirushei aggados on "ha-kol biydei shamayim"
>cites this tosafos and suggests that the Chovos HaLevavos disagrees.

I assume you are referring to this: [R' Feldman translation]. I don't
see any indication of disagreement. Both indicate that a person can kill
himself unless G-d intervenes miraculously.

Chovas HaLevavos( 4:4): ...Although your life's end and the length of
your days are determined by a decree of G-d, you must nonetheless pursue
life's necessities...and not leave them to G-d saying "if G-d decrees I
should live, He will keep my body and soul intact without food my whole
life long, so I should not have to bother earning a living on my own.
You must not expose yourself to danger by trusting the Creator's decree
and drinking poison by risking your life fighting a lion or any other
wild beast needlessly, by casting yourself into the sea or into a fire,
or by doing anything else risking and dangerous. The verse has already
warned us about this when it said "Do not test G-d as you tested Him at
Masseh (Devarim 6:16). For one of two things could not help but happen
to you if you do: you will either bring about your own death and be held
responsible for it as you would have had you killed another (even though
you would have technically died as a result of G-d's decree and will).
Because we have already been warned not to murder, as it is said "do
not murder Exodus 20:13) and also because the closer the murderer is
to his victim the more fitting the punishment as it is said "Because
he chased after his brother with sword and cast off all pity...(Amos
1:11), indicating that one who kills himself should surely be severely
punished...Or you might be rescued with G-d's help but your merits would
be destroyed and you would lose any reward you would have earned...

          Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 22:55:41 -0500
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Re: IE and Qadmus

R Micha Berger: <<RMFrankel asked why anyone would assume the IE held
of qadmus. He writes that most of his contemporaries did not. I don't
know who those contemporaries are. I could use mar'eh meqomos.>>

2. Me: << I'm wondering whether RMicha has mis-typed since he has asked..
the non-controversial question. To give mareh m'qomos for contemporaries
who do not hold qadmus (even of matter) is the "mainstream" position, i.e.
if you don't hold qadmus you hold b'rioh ex nihilo. But this is hardly
controversial. A short list would include r. saadia gaon, the ramban,
the (exoteric only) rambam, ran>>.

3. Rmicha: <<RSG explicitly speaks of yeish mei'ayin in pereq 1. The
Ramban speaks explicitly of yeish mei'ayin in Ber' 1:2 -- the creation of
hyle yeish mei'ayin,..already cited on the thread is R' Kafeh's repetition
of the Rambam's position -- "Tzur" refers to HQBH as the borei yeish
mei'ayin. I don't have a citation for the Ran, but the Ikkarim.. does
assert yeish mei'ayin >>

I'm puzzled what point Rmicha thinks he's making by citing mareh m'qomos to
demonstrate these rishonim held yesh me'ayin. That is after all precisely
what I said in paragraph #1 (i.e. in areivim-speak, those who "do not
believe in qadmus" = those who do believe in yesh me'ayin = ex nihilo). as
i said this is the "mainstream" shittoh and I'm surprised at the challenge
to produce sources -- and remain puzzled why Rmicha's citation of those very
same sources would seem to him problematic for anything I said. And BTW the
Ran can be found in his peirush to torah, p3-4.

RMB: <<After all, beri'ah yeish mei'ayin dates back to Rabban Gamliel....I
already gave a citation... Second, in Bereishis Rabba 1:9, Rabban Gamliel
is challenged on this very point by a Hellenist, who complimented G-d's
artistry but then claims that the Torah tells us G-d made the universe
from "tohu", "bohu", "choshech", "ru'ach", "mayim" and "tehom". Rabban
Gamliel then defends the concept of yeish mei'ayin by bringing a pasuq
showing the Creation of each of the items..>>

It hardly needs pointing out that R. Gamaliel nowhere mentions yesh
me'ayin, that is your, and others, interpretive gloss. The creation of
each of those items could as easily have been me'yesh. It is in fact
entirely as convincing, or not, as the very same kind of reasoning (which
you rejected) which sought to find a moqor for tannaitic qadmus in pir'qei
d'r'elozor. note i am not claiming that rabbon gamaliel did not believe
in ex nihilo, merely that it can't be proven from any citations. In fact,
the first direct and unequivocal articulation of the concept in jewish
sources of which I am aware didn't come for another eight hundred years
or so -- by r. saadia gaon.

R Micha: <<I know of no maqor for qadmus. SO there's a burden of proof to
be crossed if one wants to insist in a difference that has implications
beyond the looser ruled domain of parshanut.>>

The problem is you don't want to accept those that are offered. Amongst
rishonim who do perceive chazalic opening to qadmus are both ramban --
see kis'vei ramban, vol 2, p694 chavel edition, who finds a platonic
position in the pir'qei dr'lozor which you rejected -- as well as rambam
who perceives a platonic position in b'reishis rabboh 3:8-9 -- see rambam,
moreh, part 2, ch. 30. amongst rishonim who did not perceive qadmus of
matter to be incompatible with "orthodox" Judaism (though they personally
preferred ex nihilo) are the Kuzari (ma'amar 1, s.67), and r. chisdoi
crescas, amongst others who actively rejected ex nihilo we have ralbag
(milchomos hashem, part 6).and r. avrohom abulafia..

What it comes down to is you seem to assert a burden of required proof
beyond that indicated by "best judgment" from available evidence. I
reject that. Instead I (re)assert that a belief in qadmus of matter was
not considered religiously objectionable by many near contemporaries of
IE, and was actively endorsed by a few. It is thus not extraordinarily
unusual to entertain the notion that IE also leaned in that direction
if his direct words so indicate, even if you can kvetch some other
reading into them, which of course you can. But without considering this
meta-evidential requirement you want to impose, I think this is the most
reasonable interpretation of IE.

RMB: <<I'm perfectly happy with the assertion merely that the IE doesn't
speak at all about what he held occured. He only says the peshat of
the pasuq has nothing to do with yeish mei'ayin. He says nothing about
things that occured with no description of the pasuq, or whether derashah
derives other facts.>>

I'm curious how you also explain away IE's sly "v'hammaskil yovin" which
accompanied his p'shot in boroh. Not that it can't be docheiqed away. But
again, that's your personal judgment call and I am not about to dispute
your happiness with it. But there is a long interpretive history of IE
by others starting from r yosef tov elem (bonfils), abarbanel and ending
with me (nisqatt'nu haddoros references here appropriate if unappreciated)
who weighed the written evidence without the meta-baggage you've imposed
and arrived at a different conclusion.

anyway, that's it for me. i'm all IE'd out.

Mechy Frankel

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Date: Wed, 05 Nov 2003 09:43:31 +0200
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva@atwood.co.il>
Learning in the "little library"

[Bounced from an Areivim discussion. I chose the title, as the original
from Areivim no longer fit. -mi]

> So then any book or newspaper with the word "God" in it is assur to
> read in the bathroom? Forget the Friday edition of the Jerusalem Post
> - you probably can't read it in the bathroom the rest of the week
> either if there's an article in it about charedim.... Somehow this
> strikes me as going too far.

Do we differentiate between "They believe in God" (JPost), "God-d*mn"
(modern novel), and "In the beginning God created..." (Printed tanach)?

Can one read a printed tanach in the bathroom?

Does the language matter?


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Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 14:10:51 +0200
From: dbnet@zahav.net.il
Shana vs. shanim

To R"t Rena's question on shana vs. shanim, In Hebrew as it used to
be, the plural is used only from two to ten items. shana achat, sh'tei
shanim, shalosh shanim,....eser shanim, ahat-esrei shana, esrim shana,
meah shana. See Sarah's 127 years and Ahashverosh's 127 countries

Years ago in Israel, as inflation inflated, a banknote was printed
for esrim shekel and hamishim shekel. When reprinted some years later,
and when higher denominations were added, the new bills were hamishim
sh'kalim, meah sh'kalim. Puk chazi mai 'ama d'var. As people talk,
so goes the language. Olim brought to Israel the same ideas of plural
usage that Olah Rena brought with her. And so languages move forward and
'Abazi"t develops.

For newcomers, 'Abazi"t = 'ivrit bat z'maneinu


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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 21:19:47 -0800 (PST)
From: sam pultman <spultman@yahoo.com>
Re:Book Search.... Ssedah LaDarekh

I believe that Hebrew University has the 1554 edition. For some
information on the censoring of this sefer see Kiryat Sefer, v.7
1930-31. See also Davidson, Otsar ha'shirah, v.2, p. 313.

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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 23:14:16 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Ziknah and illness (was: Zaknus and Illness)

<<< Al Tashlichenu L'eis Ziknah, Kichlos Kochenu Al Tazveinu. >>>

As long as everyone else is commenting on this, I'd like to add what I
heard several times from Rav Pinchas Teitz, zt"l.

This tefilah is usually translated along the lines of "Don't push us
away when we get old; when we grow weak don't leave us."

Rav Teitz suggested that this sounds a little apikorsish, as if we are
asking HaShem not to abandon us later on. Are we so confident that we
can take care of ourselves in the present?

The way I remember it, he offered a different punctuation: <<< Al
Tashlichenu L'eis Ziknah Kichlos Kochenu, Al Tazveinu. >>> (Do you see
the comma is moved two words down?)

He noted that it is very common for people to become more religious as
they get older. In their youth, people don't feel as close to G-d. This
tefilah, he suggested, *is* speaking about the present: "Don't push us
off until we get old and weak. We need You now! Don't leave us!"

(Having glanced at the pasuk which this tefilah is based on (Tehillim
71:9), and seen that the esnachta is on the word "ziknah" like the usual
translation, I would suggest that Rav Teitz's objections would only apply
to our recital as a tefilah. In the context of Tehillim, perhaps David
HaMelech wrote this one when he was already older, so those objections
would not apply.)

Akiva Miller
Elizabeth NJ

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Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 10:37:18 EST
From: M613K@aol.com
Re: Eiver Min HaChai

In a message dated 11/4/2003 10:45:57 PM EST, gil@aishdas.org writes:
> Even for a non-kosher animal? The Shach (YD 27:2) seems to say that
> shechitah does not help with animals from non-kosher species.

I don't understand your point. Non-kosher animals are not mutar to us
with or without shechita so forbidding them to goyim with or without
shechita while it is mefarcheses would not be forbidding something to
goyim while allowing it to us.

[Email #2, forwarded by RnTk. -mi]

In a message dated 11/4/2003 

> It's not that simple. The Rambam, in Hilchos M'lachim 9:12,
> seems to say that it _is_ assur to a goy and permitted to a Jew, as
> elaborated upon by the Kesef Mishneh in 9:13.

Since I read these notes at work and not at home, I don't have seforim
to look up. Anyway, this p'sak was given to me by Rav Moshe Heinemann
and, subsequently, seconded by Rav J. Dovid Bleich. Both recommended
that B'nai No'ach only buy organ meat such as liver from kosher sources.
Both applied the principle of "mee ikkah meedee she'assur la'akum u'mutar
lanu." It would not surprise me to learn that we do not pasken like the
Rambam since that is not at all uncommon.


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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 21:45:37 -0600 (CST)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Eiver Min HaChai

R' Michael Katz wrote:
>Secondly, after shechita the meat is mutar even to a goy because of the
>principle that there is nothing that is assur to a goy while being mutar
>to us.

Even for a non-kosher animal? The Shach (YD 27:2) seems to say that
shechitah does not help with animals from non-kosher species. He also
says that regarding neveilos but the poskim tend to reject it (the Yad
Yehudah is ma'arich on this point).

Gil Student

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Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 12:01:57 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Ssedah Laderech

From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
> I'm looking for a book. It is called Tzeidah LaDerekh by Menahem Ben
> Aharon Ben Zerah.

Harvard's catalogue lists several editions, from the first down to 1991.


> A friend is looking for it for a Rabbi of his. This Rabbi last saw
> the book about 40 years ago in Panama. Since then he has been unable to
> locate it. This 1st edition supposedly is not just halakhot but an added
> section of scientific and medical explanations for the missvot. This
> section does not appear in subsequent editions.

Try to find the new 1991 edition, that may include some of it.

Kitzur Chovot Halevavot; Hanhagat Haberi'ut, hamedaber be-vriat ha-adam
umezago... all part of the subtitle.

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Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 01:07:03 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Hashgocha protis and suicide

> In Avodah V12 #37 dated 11/3/03 Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
> writes:
> How then does one understand suicide according
> to the view that suffering - even at the hand of a person - is always
> a Heavenly decree? Does that mean that there is a Heavenly decree that
> this person must die and that he should be his own murderer?

old TK: "Hakol beyedei shomayim chutz miyiras shomayim." That is one of
the principles that applies here.

RDE: 1) How? Would appreciate an explanation of why you think this
principle applies to the case of suicide.

TK: First of all, I made an English mistake that I must correct.
Should have written: That is one of the principles that apply here.

OK, now why I think it applies is, death is a Heavenly decree that is
not in the person's own hands. He can attempt suicide, but whether
he succeeds or not is not in his hands. The only thing he has total
control over is his intention, yiras Shomayim or the opposite. If he
shoots himself the gun can fail to fire, or he can shoot his own jaw
and not die (saw a case like that in the paper). The same is true if
someone decides to kill another person, of course.
 He can shoot and miss, or only injure the victim, and the victim may
recover. So yes, it seems to me that a person can only succeed in killing
himself if it is so decreed in Heaven.

> Old TK:  For the other principle, you talmidei chachamim will have to
> supply the quote, ...

RDE: 2) Kiddushin (40a) [Soncino translation]: <snip> Said R. Assi:
Even if one [merely] thinks of performing a precept but is forcibly
prevented the Writ ascribes it to him as though he has performed it. Evil
intention is not combined with deed,32 <snip> Then how do I interpret,
behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their
thoughts? 34 Intention which bears fruit 35 the Holy One, blessed be He,
combines with deed; 36 Intention which does not bear fruit the Holy One,
blessed be He, does not combine with deed.

I don't understand how this is relevant to understanding the paradox of
free will and providence. Please elaborate.

TK: I think I had better start with a disclaimer, though this disclaimer
is probably so obvious it's not needed. DISCLAIMER: The following is
just my understanding of how things work. I do not claim certainty that
I possess THE truth.

Further disclaimer: I don't think any human being really understands
how hashgacha works.

OK, back to the problem at hand.  Paradox of hashgacha and free will.

We do not really have that much autonomy. Most of the choices we make
in life are illusory, or are forced choices. I can decide to go the
airport but get stuck in traffic or have a flat tire and never get there.

Of course, because we do not know what G-d has in mind or how He is
pulling the strings, we have to proceed as if we do have autonomy.
I mean, what else are we going to do? Let's say He decided we're going
to have a certain job, or buy a certain house. We can't wait for a bas
kol to tell us which job to take or which house to buy. We have to go
through the steps of looking and choosing. But afterwards we see that we
were really led in a certain direction by the confluence of circumstances.
The choices were illusory.

So where was our bechira?

It was all in the kavana, to do His will or not. That's the only thing
that is in our hands.

Look at the quotation you gave me from the Soncino. "Intention which
bears fruit the Holy One, blessed be He, combines with deed; Intention
which does not bear fruit the Holy One, blessed be He, does not combine
with deed." But He was the one who decided in the first place whether
the intention would bear fruit or not! You decided to kill someone,
the gun jammed: your intention did not bear fruit. The gun didn't jam,
your intended victim is dead: your intention bore fruit.

First He makes it come out that your intention succeeds, or doesn't
succeed. Then He discounts your intention if it didn't succeed, but
counts it if it did succeed! But He decided to begin with whether it
would or wouldn't succeed.

See how this is getting rather circular here? Bottom line, how did He
decide whether you would succeed in your evil plans or not? By looking
into your heart, I would say, and seeing what you had REALLY chosen with
your bechira, in the limited area where you really DID have bechira,
namely, to fear Him, or not.

> Old TK:  You can see that there is a tremendous amount of hashgacha
> involved in whether one's intentions ever come to fruition. ...
> It is all in G-d's hands. The ONLY thing in our hands is yiras Shomayim
> (or the absence thereof)...

RDE: I am a bit confused at the leap between 1 and 2. Are you saying
that a person only has freedom of thought but not action? Therefore if
he actually does something it was because G-d made him do it?

TK: Not because G-d "made" him do it, but because G-d ALLOWED him to
do it. Not one of us can lift a finger, whether to turn on a light on
Shabbos or to kiss the mezuza, without Him moving that finger for us,
and making it possible for us to carry out our intentions.

RDE: <snip> If so how can you make the distinction in (2) between
intending to perform an evil and actually carrying out his intention -
when you just said that a person can't carry out his intention unless
G-d makes him and therefore only his intent is meaningful?! ... If he
intended to kill but his gun misfired he should be treated as murderer -
but he isn't.

TK: I grant you there is a paradox here beyond human understanding, but
there it is. Hashem will punish his intention to murder if he succeeds
in murdering, but will not punish his intention to murder if he does not
succeed. Yet it was Hashem who decided whether he would succeed or not.

If he laid careful plans and his plans went awry, whose fault is that?
Hashem's. But why would Hashem foil his nefarious plans? One reason
might be that the victim hasn't been decreed to die. Another might be
that Hashem sees that in the deepest recesses of the murderer's heart,
he doesn't really want to be a murderer. Both of those factors, and a
dozen others, may come into play.

If the person is truly a rasha, chooses with his bechira to be a rasha,
then sooner or later some act of rishus on his part will be carried
to fruition.

RDE: Please explain how this fits with these sources which seem to assume
that man has freedom of action. Tosfos (Kesubos 30a): Everything is from
Heaven except cold and heat ... However Shabbos (32a) says that a person
should always avoid standing in a dangerous place implies that a person
is able to guard himself from calamity. <snip>

chovas HaLevavos( 4:4): It is wrong for a person to put himself into
danger and rely on his trust in G-d to save him.

TK: We have no choice but to proceed as if we do have autonomy, since
the strings that control everything are hidden from us and the future
is veiled.

Putting yourself into danger and relying on G-d to save you miraculously
is a sin, because there is a mitzva in the Torah to guard yourself.
Choosing to sin, or to do a mitzva, IS within your bechira.

If you do something risky and die as a result, it will look like it is
just nature, just statistics, but it will really be hashgacha acting as a
result of your bechira. For instance, if you smoke heavily for years and
then die of lung cancer, it will look as if the odds were just against
you bederech hateva, but really you chose to sin when you smoked despite
knowing the sakana, and the punishment for that sin was lung cancer.
Your area of bechira wasn't whether to smoke or not, but whether to sin
or not.

RDE: As cited above (Kiddushin 40a) a person is generally not judged
for his thoughts only his actions.

TK: Yet every action had a prior thought, and it was that intention,
that thought, that was the true area of bechira. The action was only the
objective correlative of the thought. It must be presumed that at some
level beyond our understanding, evil thoughts that never come to action
were never really real, and that's why they never were reified in deed,
and also why they are not punished.

RDE: One of the best summarizes of the paradox between free will and
Providence is the Chovas HaLevavos(3:8) [ R' Feldman Translation] -
this is only an excerpt and it is best to see the fully text.

Chovas HaLevavos(3:8): <snip> "Unless G-d decides to build the house,
those who build it work in vain; unless G-d decides to watch over the
city, the watchman wakes in vain" (Tehilim 127:1). <snip>

"Yet we find something in the Torah that contradicts this view,
which teaches us that man acts of his own volition, that he himself
decides to do whatever he does, and that he acts willfully and by
choice, which is why he is rewarded for his service or punished for
his transgressions. "See I have set before you today life and good,
or death and evil... therefore chose life" (Devarim 30:15,19) <snip>

"And what is said there about reward for our service and punishment for
our transgressions teaches us that man's deeds are in his own hands,
and that G-d's Glory plays no part in our being good or evil, righteous
or wicked....

"Some see a need for both Divine compulsion and Divine justice. But
they warn that anyone who delves deeply into it cannot help but sin and
stumble regardless of how he explains it. They therefore say that the
correct approach is to
act like those who hold that we act on our own and are rewarded or punished
for our deeds and that you are to do what will profit you in both worlds. But
you should also trust G-d as much as one to whom it is clear that all deeds,

movements, all good and bad fortune comes about by the decree and with the
permission of G-d....

"For our ignorance of G-d's wise ways is well known, and is based on
the weakness of our minds and the limitations of our understanding."

                    Daniel Eidensohn

I can't put it better than the Chovos Halevovos, for which citation I
thank you.

--Toby Katz

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