Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 096

Monday, February 16 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 01:36:15 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Waving at Candles

Rabbi Reisman's shiur tonight was on many "imponderables" about Shabbos.

1. Whence the minhag of "waving at the candles" before lighting the
neiros Shabbos? (Interesting aside, he told of someone who asked Rav
David Feinstein this question, and was told "nobody does that", only
to be roundly contradicted by his wife who said that not only does she,
but so did Rav David's mother)

2. Whence the minhag to begin kiddush Friday night from "vayhi erev
vayhi voker"?


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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 02:10:46 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Dishwashers on Shabbos

Mlevinmd@aol.com wrote:
> What about outdoor sprinklers. It is generally now paskined that that
> is not uvsha milsa and I alway found it difficult to understand. There
> is noise and visibility; why is this not considered different than mills
> grinding on Shabbos?

Because everybody knows they're automatic. "Avsha milta" is not a new
issur, it's just a species of Morris Ayin. Where there is no chashash
of mar'it ayin, it doesn't matter how public something is, or how much
noise it makes (which is just a way of explaining why a mill's operation
is public). Everyone who passes by a Jew's lawn with the sprinklers
going knows that the Jew's lawn is being watered on shabbat, but so what?
They also know that it's being done without any human intervention on
shabbat, so it's no different than everyone knowing that a Jew has hot
food on shabbat.

Zev Sero               I must say, I actually think what we learned during
zev@sero.name          the inspections made Iraq a more dangerous place
                        potentially than in fact we thought it was even
                        before the war.                         - David Kay

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 11:22:13 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: omek pshuto shel mikra

R Kuppeman, in one of the volumes to his edition of Mesech Chachmah,
also explores this issue in great depth. R Kupperman contrasts the views
of the Meshech Chachmah and the Netziv who advocated and worked from
this view with the views of Ksav VHakabalah and the Malbim who were
trying to econcile Torah SBcSav with Torah She Baal Peh.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 08:31:31 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Yisro's advice

SBA <sba@iprimus.com.au> wrote:
> I was thinking about Yisro and his advice "VeAtoh Sechzeh" - to MR .
> How come MR - or even Aharon or any of the other leaders of Am Yisroel -
> didn't think of this idea?
> And where did Yisro himself, get the idea from?

I see this as an example extraordinaire of the concept of MiKol Melamdei
Hischalti. Moses was the greatest leader of all time. He had more access
to God then any other Navi and had direct conversations with Him... face
to face KaVeYochal. Moses knew Torah better than anyone else in all
successive generations as well as his own. No one disputes this. His
father in law, Reuel, OTOH was an Oved AZ and even in his greatest
moment of revelation when after hearing all that God had done for the
people of Israel during Yitzias Mitzrayim ...his concession to God was
only that He is the greatest of all gods. IOW he did not concede to God
being the only Deity. Only the greatest of deities clearly retaining his
status as an Oved AZ. Yet The Torah goes to the trouble of highlighting
this episode. Why didn't God instill this relatively simple advice to
Moses? Why choose Jethro to impart it?

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that a single individual
cannot possibly handle legal debates of each and every member of the
Shishim Ribah. The lines to his office would be out the proverbial door
and any idiot would soon realize the futility of such an endeavor. It
does not take much of a brain to figure out that perhaps delegation
of authority might be a viable option here. Yet Moses despite all the
greatness he possesed and all the access he had to God did not think of
it. Nor did God Himself tell him this advice. God instead "closed the
mind" of Moses and did not allow him to recognize this relatively simple
solution to the problem even though Moses had alrady been experienced
the concept of delegation of authority when God told Moses to delegate
his authority to Aaron at the "burnig bush". Despite this experiendce
Moses did notr think of it a viable opition for himself. Instead God
chose Jethro to impart this advice.

Why? Because He wanted to teach Klal Israel something. In addition to
the advice given God wanted to teach us that the source of knowledge is
not confined to Nevuah or even Torah but can be found almost anywhere,
even amongst idol worshippers. It is for us to determine where it is and
to seek it out. God is telling us that we should be able top learn from
anyone. Mikol... Melamdei Hiskalti. Klipaso Zarek V' Tocho Ochel. We throw
out the AZ of Jethro but we take to heart as did Moses the teachings of
this idol worshipper.

Of course in our time this concept is difficult to follow as the many
sources of knowledge are sometimes intertwined with apostacy. It then
become very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaffe. This
is why one has to be very careful when embarking on a course of the
pursuit of knowledge outside of Torah. But if properly prepared through
an education which includes heavy doses of Hashkafa and Machshava the
task becomes do-able and even laudible. What we learn from this week's
parsha, is that we should in no way reject knowledge just beacuse it is
not Torah based and in fact that it a positive thing no less valuable
than Reuel's teachings to Moses. Moses incorporated this teaching into
his life despite it's source. He valued Jethro's advice. So too should
we any advice from any source that iproves our lives. As long as it does
not contradict the Torah it is to be viewed postively and sought out.


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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 18:56:14 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Euphemisms and Idioms

I noticed that the description of the mizbei'ach at the end of Yisro
stresses three points:
1- Do not accompany it with elohei chesef ve'elohei zahav
2- Do not use a sword
3- Don't have steps

IOW -- AZ, shefichas damim, gilui arayos.


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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 10:11:12 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Euphemisms and Idioms

The phrase "giluy arayos" (and all its varied forms, such as "lo s'galeh
ervas ploni") is clearly not to be taken literally. It does not mean
"to reveal the nakedness"; it is not a reference to removing a person's
clothing. It is a euphemism for [intimacy -mi].

I was struck yesterday by the final words in Parshas Yisro, which uses
this phrase to explain why we must ascend to the Mizbe'ach with a ramp
rather than a staircase: Stairs would involve giluy arayos, but a ramp
would not.

Rashi explains that this can't mean "giluy ervah mamash", because of
the slacks which are worn, but rather because of the wide paces which
a staircase requires, it is "karov l'giluy ervah."

It seems to me that because the mizbe'ach is an inanimate object, most
people understand this giluy in a literal sense, and not as a euphemism.
That is, the Torah's concern here is that the person's sexual organs
should not be unnecessarily visible. My first question, then, is if
anyone can point to other cases where this phrase is meant literally.

My second point is to suggest that, perhaps, the figurative sense is
meant even in this case.

What is the difference between walking up a ramp and walking up steps? I
can't figure what it might be. The knees bend even when walking on a
level surface. Rashi refers to wide paces on a staircase, but surely the
steps could be made small, with each step having a very small rise and
a very small forward distance, so that one's legs are no further apart
than they would be on a ramp.

If so, the only difference I can see between a ramp and stairs is the
shape. Specifically, when walking up a ramp, one can draw a flat diagonal
plane, such that the ramp is below that plane, and the person is above
it. But a staircase has a zigzag shape. When one foot is on one step,
and the other foot is on another step, the upper step is quite literally
between his legs. (Or, "between his feet", if you insist. But the Hebrew
"raglayim" doesn't make such a distinction.)

Could this be what the Torah is insisting that we avoid here? Not
"revealing the nakedness" in the literal sense, but in the idiomatic:
If one would take steps up to the mizbe'ach, it would enter between his
legs, and that is "karov l'giluy ervah". We might thus translate the
pasuk, "Lo saaleh b'maalos al Mizb'chi, asher lo s'galeh ervas'cha alav."
as "Don't go up to My mizbe'ach by steps, so that you won't have sexual
relations with it."

Any thoughts?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 12:22:05 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: kol isha al hayam?

R' Gil Student wrote, <<< I don't even understand the question. Where
in the Torah does it say that Miriam sang? >>>

I responded <<< ... the word "vataan" ... does *not* have to mean "she
chanted". ... I thank RGS for pointing out that Miriam might never have
actually sung. If I understand him correctly, "vataan" (vav, tav, ayin,
nun) would mean that she answered or responded to the men. This does
not necessarily mean that she sang at all. >>>

R' SBA gave two sources that Miriam *did* sing: <<< 1) Targum Yonoson:
"Vezomras lehon Miriam". 2) Rashi 15:21: "Moshe omar shirah l'anoshim...
uMiriam omro shirah lenoshim..."

I have no problem with the two raayos that R"SBA brought, and in fact I
*did* see them before posting. My point was that these are *peirushim* on
the Chumash; it is not the Chumash *itself* which says that Miriam sang.

That's how I interpreted R' Gil's "where in the Torah", and why I wrote
"does not have to mean", "might never have", and "does not necessarily

I don't know whether or not there are any legitimate, recognized meforshim
who argue on Targum and Rashi, but maybe there are. Too often, we tell
the stories of the Torah according to one particular view, and we get so
brainwashed by it that any other view is considered apikorsus. I'm not
the first to suggest it, and in fact, I was not aware of this problem
until I was alerted to it be various Avodah posters over the years. If
I could cite particular names and stories I would, but I don't remember
them, and I hope they'll accept this general "Thanks!" instead.

Back to the original question... Oh, actually there *wasn't* an original
question, just a link to an article with no other comment. Well, anyway,
my point is that if one wants to invoke Miriam in a discussion of Kol
Isha, it should *not* be expressed as "How could Kol Isha be assur,
being that Miriam sang at the Yam?", but rather as "How do Targum and
Onkelos understand Kol Isha, being that they hold Miriam sang at the Yam?"

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 19:41:47 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Yisro's advice

SBA wrote:
>I was thinking about Yisro and his advice "VeAtoh Sechzeh" - to MR .
>How come MR - or even Aharon or any of the other leaders of Am Yisroel -
>didn't think of this idea?
>And where did Yisro himself, get the idea from?

Ohr HaChaim( Shemos18:21) asks why Yisro deserved being the source of
the information about forming the judicial system - especially when it
implies - chas v'shalom - the ignorance of G-d's people prior to his
suggestions? The Ohr HaChaim answers is that G-d wanted to teach the
Jewish people a fundamental lesson for all generations. The lesson
being that there are among the nations of the world men of great
intelligence and understanding and these nations have awareness of
important and valuable information. G-d's intent was to show through
Yisro that the election of the Jews was not because of their knowledge
and insight was greater than other nations. They were not chosen because
of their superior wisdom and knowledge. Their election was the result
of G-d's supreme kindness and His love of the Avos. This explanation
is more appropriate according to the view that Yisro came prior to the
Revelation at Sinai. Accordingly G-d's message was that even though
their are amongst the Nations greater wise men than amongst the Jews -
the Jews were nevertheless chosen. We are therefore to praise Him for
choosing us because of his Kindness. However, even according to the view
that Yisro came after the Revelation at Sinai - a similar lesson can be
learned by the fact that Yisro is mentioned in the sequence of events
of the Torah prior to the giving of the Torah.

R. S. R. Hirsch (Shemos 18:24), learns the lesson that Moshe was not
very perceptive in this area and this lack of talent was proof that
whatever he did was from G-d's command. [Nothing is so instructive for
us, as this information regarding the first legal institution of the
Jewish State, coming immediately before the chapter of the law-giving.
So little was Moshe in himself a legislative genius, he had so little
talent for organizing that he had to learn the very first elements of
state organization from his father-in-law. The man who tired himself out
to utter exhaustion and to whom of himself did not occur to arrange this
or some similar simple solution, equally beneficial to himself and his
people, the man to who it was necessary to have a Jethro to suggest this
obvious device, that man could never have given the People constitution
and laws out of his own head, that man was only, and indeed just because
of this the best and most faithful instrument of G-d."

Ramban (Devarim 1:18) [[[R' Chavel translation]]...Now Moshe did not
mention Yisro's advice here, nor did he attribute to him anything that
Yisro proposed. It appears to me that Moshe did not want to mention the
fact that he was following his father in law's advice in the presence of
all Israel because of his humility [for people would think that, were
it not for Yisro's counsel, Moshe would not have needed any assistance
from the other judges. But would he have brought in Yisro's name into
this affair it might have appeared that Moshe himself never thought that
he would need assistance of other people. Moshe humility is thus made
apparent when he states his own inability to cope with all the problems
of the people [see Hebrew p 349] or it may be that it would not be to
his honor to mention to that generation that he married a Cushite woman
(Numbers 12:1) -- since in the case of Zimri they chided Moshe about
the Cushite woman that the had married before the Torah was given
(Rashi Numbers 25:6) he therefore avoided referring to it in order
to prevent them from stumbling into evil speech -- [Hebrew p 533]. It
is also possible that the reason for not mentioning Yisro's name was
because he had consulted the Divine Glory and this matter was done
at the command of the Almighty [Mechilta Yisro 2 'And Moshe hearkened
to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that 'amar' (He, [i.e.,
G-d] had said Exodus 18:24) the Mechilta thus explains the word amar as
referring to G-d and not to Yisro]]]

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 20:04:41 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Direction of Tefillah

SBA wrote:
>We usually davven mincha before or after a chuppah - in the 'auxiliary'
>shul. We only realised later that we were davvening with our backs
>to the oron hakodesh... [There probably was no sefer Torah there -
>for security reasons.]

Mishna Berura (94:9-10): Since it is necessary to pray facing east the
practice is to put the Aron Kodesh on the eastern wall. However if it is
impossible to put it there it should be placed on the southern wall. But
it should never be put on the western wall so that the people back would
be turned to it when they are facing east..... In the case where the
Aron Kodesh is on the southern wall and everybody is davening facing it -
even though this is wrong - nevertheless whoever prays there should follow
the practice of the tzibor and face south but turn towards the east. The
Baer Haetiv (94:3) notes that this ruling is a matter of dispute.

The Aruch HaShulchan 94 has a major discussion of these issues - in
particular whether there is any need to face Jeursalem.

                Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 19:09:14 -0500
From: "Jonathan S. Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
RE: Euphemisms and Idioms

On Behalf Of Kenneth G Miller
> What is the difference between walking up a ramp and walking up steps? I
> can't figure what it might be. The knees bend even when walking on a
> level surface. Rashi refers to wide paces on a staircase, but surely the
> steps could be made small, with each step having a very small rise and
> a very small forward distance, so that one's legs are no further apart
> than they would be on a ramp.

I once heard a shiur in 5751 from one of my teachers, Rabbi Milevsky zt"l,
the full depth of which is beyond my power to retell.

In brief, the Mishna in Avos 1.1 states that the Rabbis should make fences
to the Torah, raise many students and be patient in judgement. The Jewish
people, on their return from Babel, were at a relatively lower spiritual
level, and the advice to be patient in judgement is directed at the
leadership given the new circumstances [see also Maharal in Derech Chaim].

Sanhedrin 7b: From where is it derived that one should be deliberate in
judgement. From that which is written [the last verse in Yisro] do not
ascend the alter via steps but rather by way of a ramp, and in the very
next verse [Mishpatim] it says "and these are the judgements". Rashi
explains that steps are ascended more forcefully than a ramp, which
suggests a more gentle approach.

Rabbi Milevsky suggested that there may be an additional meaning to a
ramp. At first glance, steps are the paradigm of not skipping levels,
i.e. of careful ascent on the ladder of perfection. But the problem of
steps is that it is a predefined level not sensitive to the actual level
of the climber. A ramp allows the one ascending to advance at their level;
hence a ramp is the real symbol of patience and gentle growth.

Since this is parshas Mishpatim, the parsha of ethics and honesty in
inter-personal relationships, Rabbi Milevsky quoted the famous story of
R. Yisroel Salanter [whose yartzeit is in this parsha] who brought some
of the working Jews in the city of Memel to shemiras Shabbas with great
patience and love [Tenuas HaMussar].

Moshe Rabbeinu was instructed by Hashem to instruct the Jews patiently
not just in the halachic details but also in the deeper reasons [Rashi:
taamei hadavar] like a "shulchan aruch muchan lifnei haadam" [e.g. see
the Ramban why the very first mitzva in Mishpatim is very honourable as
it teaches us "sod yemos olam"].

Moshe Rabbeinu is instructed by Hashem to teach with the method of the
ramp -- with a sensitivity to the level of each person, and with each
mishpat followed by its "taam" [see also Sefas Emes p111 d"h: ve-aleh].

With kind regards ... Jonathan

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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 22:48:24 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: David and Batsheva

Sorry so late getting to old Avodah:

In Avodah V12 #80 dated 1/20/04 
> From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
>> Rav Nebenzahl's basic argument is that it could not have been adultery
>> because...:  [--RCS]

> I have always found these arguments wanting. Basically they all prove
> that in a formal legalistic sense there was no adultery. ...

To repeat points that were made by several posters before me:  

Had Shlomo Hamelech in fact committed adultery, both he and Bassheva would 
have been chayav misa, and certainly he would not have been allowed to continue 
to live with her.  A child of their union would have been considered a mamzer. 
 The text-narrative itself strongly suggests that whatever his sin was, it 
wasn't adultery.  It is impossible to imagine that Klal Yisrael would have 
accorded Shlomo Hamelech the honor that he has in fact been accorded all these 
generations, if his parents had been the heinous sinners you suggest they were.

Yet you do have a point when you say this:

>>...Sorry the defense sounds like that of a lawyer (sorry Carl) rather than
>>of an ethicist.

Dovid Hamelech himself apparently felt the same way, because even though he 
had technically committed no sin with Bassheva, he spent the rest of his life 
doing teshuva for what was, yes, an ethical lapse.  He accepted the navi's 
rebuke immediately, unhesitatingly and without reservation, and poured out his 
heart in remorse and yearning for forgiveness in perek after perek of Tehillim.  
For the rest of his life!

 --Toby Katz

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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 17:37:00 +1300
From: jcoh003@ec.auckland.ac.nz
Re: Hasgacha

On Wed 11 Feb Micha wrote
> To say this event is inherently good on some supernal level doesn't
> help me come to terms with it on my own level.

To which one might answer that that is the psychological problem of
the individual. This seems to be the only resolution I can think of.
How can we say that a particular event exists for the purpose of
another event that causally follows from it, given that Hashem is quite
capable of making the second event/effect happen without the need for
the first event. For instance with respect to the giving of the Torah.
One cannot say that Hashem gave us the Torah when he did because it was
necessary for Bnei Yisrael to have the Torah later on, because it could
have been given later, or simlarly it could have been given earlier.
Similarly one cannot say that the Torah had to be given then because
of the spiritual state of Bnei Yisrael at that time, because the whole
situation could have been engineered to happen 200 years previously
just by cutting a few years out of Sefer Bereshit. The fact that the
'teva' is regular is just a red herring for the sake of free will,
because Hashem is quite capable of coding nisim and hidden nisim into
nature, not to mention which the Uncertainty Principle combined with
the Chaos Butterfly gives Hashem quite enough leeway to influence just
about anything at any time without a nes nigla of any kind.

Rather one must say that the Torah was given at that time, and in that
situation, because this was the right time and he right situation b'enei
Hashem, and this is r'tzon Hashem. We can try and understand this, and
that is an aspect of the process of 'da'at Hashem', to work towards an
understanding of the 'emet', and the 'tov' of Hashem. This is similar to
saying that the whole Torah is a chok, but we can still talk about ta'amei
mitzvot as long as we keep in mind that at the 'supernal' or 'fundamental'
level it is still a chok. But if we want to understand r'tzon Hashem,
it may quite often not harmonise with our understanding of 'tov', and
we have to just remember that 'ein avlata bo', and accept the g'zera.
The classic example being the Akeidah, where Avraham nullifies his own
understanding before g'zerat Hashem. I don't know how much it helped
him come to terms with what he had to do, but he saw his duty before
him and one might conjecture, fulfilled it 'b'simcha uvtuv levav'.
Baruch Hashem such nisyonot are not visited on the regular individual.
Can you see any other resolution of this issue?

> An event is definitionally something within time. When one speaks of an
> event, or even of a Divine Act, one is speaking of how the effect is
> manifest within time.

Clearly, but when we discuss the necessity of that event, whether we look at 
two atoms colliding or if we take a bigger scale, such as an earthquake, we 
can't look to it's consequences to justify it, rather it has to be r'tzon 
Hashem itself, because the whole briya in each of it's details is r'tzon 
Hashem, and it was necessary for the sake of the whole briya for that event to 
happen at that time.  The whole tapestry of creation requires those two atoms 
to collide, and the briya exists with that specific detail encoded within it.  
Why? I don't know, except that this r'tzon Hashem, and see above, part of our 
mission is to get closer to an understanding of this, to understand darkei 

-Jonathan Cohen jcoh--3@ec.auckland.ac.nz

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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:25:42 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Yisro's advice

From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
<<I was thinking about Yisro and his advice "VeAtoh Sechzeh" - to MR.
How come MR - or even Aharon or any of the other leaders of Am Yisroel
-didn't think of this idea?>>

I believe it is the Maharal who says that in fact, this parasha is
a "yitur" on the Torah and need not have been done this way; Moshe
Rabbenu's way would have served adequately. Sorry I didn't see it inside
so I can't give further detail.

<<Another interesting note.
The Targum Yonoson on Vehizharto es'hem es hachukim vegomer.. [18:20]
translates the posukas Yisro advising MR to inform them of the 'tefilos
that they should davven in shul [!]', how to be mevaker cholim, to be
kover meisim and be gomel chesed,...and they should do lifnim mishuras
hadin for reshoim...>>

Isn't the derasha "es haderech yelechu vah" a Gemara? And, isn't it Yisro
only restating what MR was doing anyway, not advice to do something new?


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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:38:27 -0500
From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@juno.com>
Re: nesher

Regarding R. Micha's query about the use of nesher, the epitome of a
tamei fowl, for Hashem's conveying the Jews, the Chasam Sofer expresses
this thought: in Kiddushin 36a, there is a machlokes whether the Jews
are considered banim laMakom only if they are noheig minhag banim, or
in all cases. He interprets the allusion in accordance with R. Meir's
opinion that "bein kach uvein kach atem k'ruyim banim:" even with all
the simanim of tumah, nonetheless "va'avi eschem eilai."


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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 23:33:29 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Rambam and the Creation of the world

About a year ago there was an unresolved debate concerning whether the
Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:25) was asserting that if there was a clear proof
that the world was eternal he could readjust his thinking and accept it.

Just came across the following in the Ralbag's Introduction to Milchemes
HaShem in which he states unequivocally that if there is a definite
conflict between reason and our understanding of the Torah than he and
the Rambam would readjust their understanding of the Torah. Translation
is from Prof Seymour Feldman pp97-98. Of course this doesn't resolve the
debate but just shows that at least one rishon understood the Rambam to
mean what he said.

Ralbag(Introduction to Milchemes HaShem): I have decided to mention
all the possible31 opinions on a given issue of the various problems I
shall discuss and the arguments for and against them. For in this way
many principles involved in these questions will be established for us,
and it will be easier to determine the true from the false so that the
truth in these matters will be achieved in an indubitable manner. Doubt
arises on a given matter when we have contrary views concerning it;
but when the inquiry will be completed and the true will be sifted
out from the false, the doubts in this matter will vanish. Since there
have been many false opinions among our predecessors on these matters,
and we have [therefore, in our] investigation contended with them in
order to refute these views in every possible way, and yet everything
that we have been able to demonstrate is the view of our Torah, we
have accordingly entitled our book “The Wars of the L-rd.” For we have
fought the battles of the L-rd in so far as we have refuted the false
views of our predecessors. The reader should not think it is the Torah
that has stimulated us to verify what shall be verified in this book,
(whereas in reality] the truth itself is something different. 19 It
is evident, as Maimonides (may his name be blessed) has said, that
we must believe what reason has determined to be true. If the literal
sense of the Torah differs from reason, it is necessary to interpret
those passages in accordance with the demands of reason. Accordingly,
Maimonides (may his name be blessed) explains the words of the Torah that
suggest that God (may He be blessed) is corporeal in such a way that
reason is not violated. He, therefore, maintains that if the eternity
of the universe is demonstrated, it would be necessary to believe in it
and to interpret the passages of the Torah that seem to be incompatible
with it in such a way that they agree with reason.20 [ Guide 2:25] It is,
therefore, evident that if reason causes us to affirm doctrines that are
incompatible with the literal sense of Scripture, we are not prohibited
by the Torah to pronounce the truth on these matters, for reason is not
incompatible with the true understanding of the Torah. The Torah is
not a law that forces us to believe false ideas; rather it leads us to
the truth to the extent that is possible, as we have explained in the
beginning of our commentary on the Torah. 21 [21. Gersonides, Commentary
on the Torah, 2a. ] Accordingly, it is our practice in these discussions
to begin with an exhaustive philosophical inquiry into the question at
hand, and then to show that what we have philosophically discovered
concerning the question is compatible with the Torah. With respect
to some of these problems the Torah itself has, in its marvelous way,
directed us toward the truth. Indeed, this should be the case, since
the Torah is intended to guide its adherents to human as far as it is
attainable, as we have explained in our commentary on the Bible. 22
Thus, since there are here many profound problems, whose solutions are
extremely difficult to achieve, it is fitting that the Torah guide us
in the attainment of their true solutions.

             Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 16:50:34 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
Dishwashers on Shabbos, FYI

The dishwashers that met halachic criteria were by Asko, my mother-in-law
bought two (indeed, from Drimmer's).


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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:22:34 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>

From: "Avi Burstein" avi@tenagurot.com
<<I've heard these sorts of questions asked before. Basically, pointing
out an inconsistency between a (somewhat contemporary) halachic
idea/concept and the behavior of biblical figures. Am I the only one
that finds this a bit strange?>>

You may be the only one because you didn't fully understand the question.

Part of the question, which I admit was not phrased well, was, thanks
to other listmembers, reformulated in terms of comparing the nissim of
yetzias mitzraim to the times of David and Shelomo, when the Gemara says
we don't accept geirim.

The other part was whether there is any exception to our current practice
of discouraging geirim for family members, as Yisro did? This latter
nobody, to my knowledge, has addressed.

Which is your real email address-tenagurot or betera? [Answer offlist,
please. -mi]


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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 10:16:12 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

> Is this really how people feel? That immediately after Matan Torah the
> Jews were keeping everything in the Mishna Brura and Shmiras Shabbos
> k'Hilchoso? Doesn't the fact that these were different times with different
> people in very different societies mean anything? Yes, I understand that
> there are certain unchanging principles in Halacha, but didn't much of
> halacha also develop over time, in response to different circumstances?...
> Am I the only one feels this way? Is this so heretical I should be keeping
> my mouth shut about it?

This reminds me of a Jewish History professor in one of mu crequired classes in
YU. HE was a well known MO Rabbi and once he let slip that he did not think
that Dovid Hamelech wore tsitsis or tefillin. This, of course, provoked a
tempest in the class.

I think tha being Orthodox obligates a commitment to Orthodox doctrine
which has been well defined over the past 200 years. A major part of that
formulation is Torah MiSinai and this means that basically the Torah has
not changed. That is not to say that there were no Rabbinic enactments. It
does mean that barring that as derived out of the Talmud, we do assume that
Dovid Hamelech wore tefillin. The rules of geirus may have been different
and format in Yevamos 47 may be Rabbinic.

However, the derivation of tevila, mila and korban in Temura 9 is from
pesukim. The point can be argued on the technical basis and using talmudic
method but arguing it as was done above puts us into the Conservative
territory, in my opinion. Just as Orthodox has been well defined over
the past 200 years, so has Conservative. Historical approach is basically
Conservative theology.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:15:01 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Preparation for Torah Study

From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
<<Yup. This comes from the fourth part of Nefesh haChayim. As I mentioned
here years ago, it's one of the places where the Chasidim and Misnagdim
split. The Chasidim, e.g. the second & fifth Rebbes of Chabad,
recommended that one spend an hour or so meditating on a Chassidic
concept, basically, studying a maamar or something, so as to prepare the
mind for davening. Here, following R' Chayim Volozhin, R' Twersky
recommends davening or other emotional preparation for Torah study.
Same two princples (davening and lerning), different priorities.>>
The Chazon Ish in his Igros advises both:  davening properly enhances the
learning;  learning well improves davening.


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Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 10:17:34 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Omek pshuto she mikra

It is to understand the material as best you can by utilizing a variety
of tools and concepts(without regard to where they come from) in order to
give the best and clearest exposition of the text and the ideas you view
emanating from them. This is the approach of the Netziv etc. but as you
are well aware - there is an alternative approach. That is to start with
authoritative interpretations and attempt to understand how they viewed the
text. In general the avoda list typically focuses on the latter approach
while the former approach is more characteristic of the areivim list. My
present interest is in views that I can quote because I am interested in a
deeper understanding of the system as it - something that Harris does very
well. Thus while your comments are well informed, brilliant and interesting -
they carry absolutely no weight in the yeshiva - chareidi world. Thus what
I would ideally like is for you to broaden the context of your comments by
citing and integrating traditional sources as well. ..packaged in a way that
is useable within the system.

That is exactly what I attempt to do with the Midrash and Methos.

M. Levin

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