Avodah Mailing List
Volume 13 : Number 054
Monday, July 26 2004
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 21:12:29 +0000
From: Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Evolution
On Fri, Jul 23, 2004 at 01:50:34PM -0700, Daniel Israel wrote:
: But given that, as you say, total overthrow of established theory is
: rare we might expect an asymptotic approach to a resolution.
It means that there will always be conflicts, just progressively more
dependent on progressively more picayune details of the theory.
The gap used to be whether or not there was a yetzirah, now it's how
far back the yetzirah occured.
From an upshlug perspective, a qushya is a qushya. If the two don't jibe,
it doesn't make a difference if they used to contradict more blatantly.
Go to top.
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 12:28:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moshe Feldman <email@example.com>
Subject: Wearing tefillin on chol hamoed if you have moved to Israel
Even though I used to wear tefillin on chol hamoed before I made aliyah,
I have not done so since making aliyah, as minhag Eretz Yisrael is not to
do so. Someone told me that he knew of gedolim in Eretz Yisrael who put
on tefillin privately but not b'farhesya. He asserted that minhag hamakom
is not a reason to be mevatel a din; it should impact just minhagim.
Go to top.
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 13:34:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moshe Feldman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: The Dynamics of Anger
R. Micha Berger wrote regarding Moshe Rabbeinu:
> I can only think of one example of Hashem faulting him for having
> a temper.
Perhaps Hashem faulted him outright only once, but there are a number
of instances (in addition to mei meriva) where chazal claim that Moshe
was punished for being angry:
1. Vayikra 10:16: Anger ("va'yikzof") at Elazar and Itamar for not
eating the chatas in the aftermath of the death of Nadav v'Avihu--
nisalma mimenu halacha.
2. Bamidbar 31:14: "Va'yiktzof Moshe al pikudei he'chayil"--forgot
halachos of klei mateches.
3. Shemos 16:20--"va'yitktzof Moshe" on those who left over the mon,
and therefore forgot to teach hilchos shabbos.
Vayikra Rabbi (Margoliyos) 13 s.v. "R. Pinchas" collects these cases;
so does Yalkut Shimoni on Parshas Shmini 247:533.
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Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 00:26:00 +0200
From: "Simi Peters" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: heicha de'ika lemidrash darshinan
From: Daniel Eidensohn
>> Does "heicha de'ika lemidrash darshinan" mean one *has* to darshen,
>> or that one *may* darshen? Or does it mean something else?
> This is discussed in the Mar Karshisha [page 124] of the Chavis Yair.
> It seems from a quick perusal that he feels that where there is a
> possiblity for a derasha - it is legitimate to ask why it wasn't used.
> He does note that this is not consistent across shas.
Thanks. This sort of leaves me where I was, but at least it helps me
understand why it doesn't seem consistent in the Mizrachi.
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Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 10:11:29 +1000
From: "SBA" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here is an email from a friend of mine who obviously knows much more of
this topic than I do.
This refers to a debate here some time ago regarding 'Gilgulim'.
To: "S B Abeles" <email@example.com>
We ended our last round of gilgul with a statement by one to the
effect that we find no source prior to the Ari regarding gilgul in
lower forms of life. At the time I made a quite thorough search and
could not refute it. This afternoon I found what I was looking for,
(and I'd had it all along...)
The sefer Avodas HaKodesh (R' Meir ibn Gabbai - born approx 50 years
before the Ari/Remak) part 2, chapters 32-34 in chapter 33 lambasts the
Ikkrim for his scepticism:
'He writes as if the kabbalists thought up the subject in the same way
that he and his colleagues thought up their ideas and then tries to put
them over as if they are the opinion of Chazal.
Why then does he make reference to kabboloh and its scholars?
He should have realised that this the whole subject is impossible were it
not received from the prophets and Moshe Rabbeinu....And with regard to
what he writes that 'this is even less credible... if it happens to be
so because his mind is philosophical, it happens to be more credible to
those scholars whose mind is that of the G-dly prophets and who have
received this teaching - quite apart from the biblical sources and
teachings of Hazal.'
Then in chapter 34 he details all sorts of possibilities of gilgul in
other forms of life, and cites the Sefer HaKoneh and Sefer HaTemunoh
(or rather the Sefer HaYihud by the same author - or is it part of
the Temunoh?) on this.
The Temunoh and Koneh are difficult to date (cf Shem HaGedolim) and the
Remak is particularly scathing of the Temunoh (with reference to shmittos
and yovelos, though I have found places where he himself refers to them);
R Bahye refers to them (Behaalos'cho, I think) and the Ari relies on them,
(and so do some of his talmidim, but that is another shmuess).
However one thing is certain, they are early seforim, perhaps as early as
the Geonim, or at least early Rishonim - which places them well before
the period in which Zohar was revealed (after the Ramban) - and they
accept gilgul in lower life forms.
In all events, Maharam Gabbai was amongst the Meguroshe Sefard and
completed his work 20 years before the girush. He also stresses (in
the citation I translated for you) that these are not just ideas that
someone thought up to solve a problem but are actual transmissions
(to use a modern phrase) - ie Kabbolos.
In other words, these ideas were in vogue in Spain well before the
gerush, a century of so before the Arizal, and were then accepted and
looked upon as ancient.
So, to cut a long story short, we've established the connection back to
the Spanish mekubbolim. It is not something first revealed by the Ari.
Go to top.
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 23:29:16 -0400
From: "Seth Mandel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Gilgul
From: "SBA" <email@example.com>
> Here is an email from a friend of mine who obviously knows much more
> of this topic than I do.
> This refers to a debate here some time ago regarding 'Gilgulim'.
>> We ended our last round of gilgul with a statement by one to the
>> effect that we find no source prior to the Ari regarding gilgul in
>> lower forms of life. At the time I made a quite thorough search and
>> could not refute it. This afternoon I found what I was looking for,
>> (and I'd had it all along...)
>> The sefer Avodas HaKodesh (R' Meir ibn Gabbai - born approx 50 years
>> before the Ari/Remak) part 2, chapters 32-34 in chapter 33 lambasts the
>> Ikkrim for his scepticism:
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is well known that
the Ari did not invent the idea of gilgulim. the question is how did
they come to pre-expulsion Spain, when they were not mentioned at all
by earlier rishonim, even by the m'qubbolim such as chasidei Ashk'naz,
and contradict some of their ideas. But no one serious claimed that
they did not exist in the time of the later rishonim.
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 07:18:32 +0300
From: "Danny Schoemann" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: nine days question
> Lekha Dodi isn't said on Shabbos -- except when you're running late and
> it's said after sheki'ah. <snip> Also, do people in such a situation
> not say "Hamakom"; for that matter, do aveilim enter earlier?
In Yerusholayim (based on my experience) it seems the norm to have
Lekha Dodi sung around sheki'ah time (even though candle lighting is 40
What they have done in my shul (Chazon Ish) is to stop Lekha Dodi in the
middle in order to usher in the aveilim (a few seconds) before sheki'ah.
They then continue Lekha Dodi.
(Disclaimer: The Rov is never there before Maariv on Friday night,
so he may not know about it. OTOH most of the 200 congregants would
qualify for the position of Rabbi in the US of A.)
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 00:18:09 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <email@example.com>
Subject: Names of the Parshios
I recently noticed an interesting pattern regarding the names which are
commonly assigned to the 54 parshios.
Before I specify my questions, I will first share my source material. I
compared four different sources (Artscroll Tanach, Koren Tanach, Hertz
Chumash, and a Chumash-with-Rashi from Hebrew Publishing) and came up
with the following consensus:
Bereishis, Noach, Lech Lecha, Vayera, Chayei Sarah, Toldos, Vayeitzei,
Vayishlach, Vayeishev, Miketz, Vayigash, Vayechi, Shemos, Vaera, Bo,
Beshalach, Yisro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Sisa, Vayakhel,
Pekudei, Vayikra, Tzav, Shemini, Tazria, Metzorah, Acharei Mos, Kedoshim,
Emor, Behar, Bechukosai, Bamidbar, Naso, Beha'aloscha, Shlach, Korach,
Chukas, Balak, Pinchas, Matos, Masei, Devarim, Vaeschanan, Eikev, Re'eh,
Shoftim, Ki Seitzei, Ki Savo, Netzavim, Vayeilech, Haazinu, V'zos Habracha
For 46 of those parshios, all four sources agree on the name (with
wide variations on transliteration style, of course). For the other 8,
I noted the following differences (none of which are relevant to my
Lech Lecha - Hebrew Publishing calls it just Lech
Ki Sisa - HP calls it just Sisa ("Tisa"?)
Acharei Mos - Artscroll calls it just Acharei
Behar - Koren lengthens it to Behar Sinai
Shlach - Hertz lengthens it to Shelach Lecha
Ki Setze - Hebrew Publishing calls it just Setze (Tetze?)
Ki Savo - Hebrew Publishing calls it just Savo (Tavo?)
V'zos Habracha - Hebrew Publishing calls it just Bracha
I noticed that there seems to be no rule requiring the name to be from
the beginning of the first pasuk, or even from the beginning of the second
pasuk, as a good number of them are from the middle of the second pasuk:
For example, Terumah could have been called Vayikchu, Kedoshim might
have been called Adas, B'haalosecha could have been Aharon, and similarly.
Be that as it may, whoever picked these names deliberately chose some
word from the first two pesukim, and that stuck. The only variations
are where some use a single word, and others use a two-word phrase.
We are accustomed to think that the word(s) chosen actually does appear
at the beginning of the parsha, and I want to challenge that presumption.
Twelve names (Vayera, Vayeitzei, Vayishlach, Vayeishev, Vayigash, Vayechi,
Vaera, Vayakhel, Vayikra, Vaeschanan, Vayeilech, V'zos Habracha) begin
with the prefix "vav". Six names (Bereishis, Beshalach, Behar, Bechukosai,
Bamidbar, Beha'aloscha) begin with the prefix "beis". One name ("Miketz")
begins with the prefix "mem".
But not a single parsha name begins with the prefix "heh".
Ever hear of any of these parshios? -- Hamishpatim, Hashemini, Hametzorah,
No, neither did I. But they should all sound familiar; that's how the
words appear in the Torah.
It would be easy to dismiss my question and say "ahh, the heh is just
a prefix, it's no big deal, so they dropped it." But the vav, beis,
and mem are also "mere" prefixes. Yet they are consistently retained,
in every single case.
What's more, in the four lists that I cited above, the one (Hebrew
Publishing) which dropped the first word from "V'zos Habracha" did not
leave it as "Habracha", but deleted the heh as well, apparently in order
to conform to this "no heh at the beginning" rule.
In all fairness, I must admit that I got the above parsha list from
the Torah Portion Archives at www.torah.org, and it differs from the
consensus of the other four sources in only one case: torah.org refers
to the last parsha as "Zos Habracha", which omits the "vav" prefix. There
are probably other sources with other variations as well.
Nevertheless, it seems that a fairly consistent pattern does exist,
whereby the name of a parsha is identical to a word or two near the
beginning of the parsha, except that an initial heh hayedia is omitted.
So my question is: Does anyone know who/when/where these names were
developed, or why this one exception was made?
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 08:29:35 +0300
From: Akiva Atwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Wearing tefillin on chol hamoed if you have moved to Israel
> Even though I used to wear tefillin on chol hamoed before I made aliyah,
> I have not done so since making aliyah, as minhag Eretz Yisrael is not to
> do so. Someone told me that he knew of gedolim in Eretz Yisrael who put
> on tefillin privately but not b'farhesya. He asserted that minhag hamakom
> is not a reason to be mevatel a din; it should impact just minhagim.
There are a lot of kehillot where they put on tefillin Chol HaMoed. (In
general, every "yeshiva" minyan I've seen does).
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 17:31:00 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <email@example.com>
Subject: Storks and Tzedakah
There's a famous idea that the stork is called Chasidah because it acts
with chesed to its companions, sharing food with them. (This is commonly
claimed to be a Gemara in Chulin 63a, but actually it's only according to
Rashi's explanation; the Gemara itself seems to be refering to chasidus,
piety, rather than kindness). Anyway, the question goes, if the stork
is such a tzaddik, why is it treif? The answer, reportedly given by
the Radzhiner Rebbe, is that the stork is only kind to its own kind,
not to other species. This idea is very widely beloved and repeated,
but without going into the scientific aspects, my question is this: Do
we really believe and act any differently? As far as I know, the mitzvah
of tzedakah for non-Jews is only due to darkei shalom. Does anyone have
any thoughts on this? I have heard one possible explanation, that while
the mitzvah is only due to darkei shalom, there is still an inyan of
giving tzedakah to non-Jews. But I'd like to hear what the listmembers
have to offer.
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 09:14:11 +0200
From: "Avi Burstein" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ksav ashuris
In a discussion I has over the weekend, someone expressed the idea
that the script that we use to write a sefer torah - commonly known as
"Ksav Ashuris" - is of relatively modern vintage, no earlier than 2nd
temple period or thereabouts. I never had actually thought much about
this issue, but I had just naturally assumed that this script was THE
official style of how a sefer torah had always been written, going back
as far back as one can go, which would seem to be to the dor of the
Midbar, even if there weren't actually sifrei torah written then as we
have now. Even if not used in sifrei torah, I had understood that those
letters were the type of letters that were being referred to when there
was some mention of Hebrew letters, such as on the aseres hadibros,
or the writing on Moshe's staff, or regarding the midrash that Moshe
was shown R' Akiva expounding on the tagin of the letters, or a certain
midrash about there being letters of black fire, etc.
Although I'm aware that archeological findings have never shown a script
that is identical to our ksav ashuris, (which would support such an
idea) I simply figured that was because the everyday script that is
found on things other than "official" sifrei kodesh was allowed to be
different and allowed to evolve and be influenced by other cultural
styles. But the fact is it's called ksav ashuris - "Assyrian Script",
which would seem to indicate that this style came about through some
sort of outside influence.
What is the earliest known source for using that style of script? The
dead sea scrolls, which have whole books from Nach, don't use that
style, but it could be argued that since there is evidence that they
were some sort of splinter group, it doesn't prove anything about our
actual tradition. How about the Cairo Geniza? Is there anything there
that would support this?
Is there more to this issue than is commonly taken for granted? Is the
notion that ksav ashuris stretches back to the very beginning of our
tradition just a misconception that I've never had rectified?
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Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 18:47:04 -0700
From: Gil Student <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: ksav ashuris
See the last section of this essay:
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 14:39:54 -0400
From: Isaac A Zlochower <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Who was Iyov
Iyov is a unique composition amongst the sifre Tanach. Superimposed
on a simple story we find strange heavenly converstions and elegant
poetry uttered by Iyov in the midst of his physical and mental anguish.
The bulk of this work deals with Iyov's accusations of divine injustice
and the responses of his friends. Given the nature of the work, it is
not surprising to find dispute amongst chazal about the identity of the
characters and the purpose of the work.
> Any ideas on why the Gemora here seems to take
> the flip side and identify so many different possible ID's especially
> since the Gemora [T.B. Bava Basra 15a,b]seems to focus on Moshe as
> the author.
Rav Levin answered:
> It's a great question. I sugest that this is because Yiov is mentioned
> as a real person in Ychezkel 14,20, along with Daniel (but spelled
> without a yud) and Noach. Why would Ychezkel quote him as an example
Yechezkel's use of Iyov together with Noach and Daniel as examples
of righteous men who would not be able to save their families in the
course of a general calamity need not imply that the narrative of Iyov
must be taken literally or, even, that Iyov was a real person. He and
the other 2 are only cited as examples to those who were familiar with
their basic stories. We need not assume that the prophet was told to
use Iyov as an example. He was given a message, but the phrasing of the
message was largely or partially a product of the prophet's own voice.
The problem with taking the Iyov narrative literally is not that a
righteous man is made to suffer. History has many examples of righteous
people who suffered greatly. In such cases, we assume that these are
"yesurim shel ahava"; that Hashem desires to have the righteous person
rise above his current level of divine service. Iyov's friends were not
aware of this possiblity and judged Iyov as meriting his misfortunes
and sufferings. This unfeeling reproach to a friend whose misdeeds they
can not name in order to justify the divine action brings about Divine
wrath that would be directed at them. Hashem counsels Iyov to pray for
his friends. When he does, he, himself, is healed. The need for such
dramatic actions lies, presumably, in the fact that Iyov served Hashem
out of fear (1:1,8,etc.). In order to get him to rise above that level
of service, all that he had feared was brought to pass. Now that nothing
worse could happen (Iyov welcomed death), would Iyov still serve Hashem
and how? In the end, Iyov does not really learn the intended lesson,
he is only overawed by the divine appearance that does not truly answer
The problem with a literal interpretation of the narrative is that
it makes Iyov's misfortunes (death of sons and loss of wealth) and
suffering a result of a trivial seeming bet between GOD and the Satan.
At one point, having brought about the death of Iyov's children, GOD is
allowed to exclaim to the Satan (2:3), "....you persuaded me to swallow
him up for naught". To which, the satan answers (2:5)"However, if You
would stretch out your Hand and touch his bone and flesh - (see) if he
will not "bless" You to Your Face". GOD then gives the satan permission
to afflict Iyov, but not to kill him. Do we really want to believe that
such a conversation occurred? Is it not theologically better to assume
that this heavenly conversation is merely a literary device intended to
remove GOD from direct causation of apparent evil?
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:41:34 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <email@example.com>
Subject: Hoshgocha Protis - only for the tzadik?
Recently came across this statement in the Michtav M'Eliyahu that is
relevant to a discussion we had a while back. This statement could
readily have been written by the Rambam and the other rishonim.
Michtav M'Eliyahu (2:75): Hashgocha protis (individualized Divine
Providence) is only relevant for a person on the high spiritual level of
serving G-d without ulterior motivations. In other words a person who --
using his free will and deeds -- reveals G-d's glory in this world. It is
called protis (individualized) because the providence is personalized
for each person according to his service of G-d. That is why it is
also referred to as hashgocha ishis (personal Divine Providence) by the
Rishonim. This process is carried out with great precision according to
the person's deeds in order to give him the necessary means to fulfill his
service of G-d. There are also times when G-d incapacitates him in order
to cause him to contemplate and improve his deeds. Our sages (Yevamos
121b) refer to this accuracy when they say "G-d is very particular
with His pious ones to the precision of a hair's breadth." In contrast
hashgocha clallis (general Divine Providence) is for those who don't
serve G-d at all or serve Him in a mechanical fashion without any inner
awareness. Therefore their deeds do not reveal G-d's honor in a direct
manner. These type of people function simply to provide assistance to the
true tzadik in his service of G-d. They develop the physical aspects of
the world to enable the tzadik to serve G-d. Therefore what these people
get in this world does not correspond directly to their deeds. That
is because their personal accomplishments have no inherent value. They
have merit only to the degree they assist the tzadik. Consequently the
Divine Providence for them is not direct and that is why it is referred
to as clallis (general). That is because it is possible that the needs of
the tzadik require that equal portions be given to many people inspite
of individual dffierences in their deeds. This is the Providence that
applies to the nations of the world as well as all those Jews whose main
occupation is developing this world. It applies also to those who are
occupied in Torah and mitzvos in a superficial manner out of habit or
for ulterior motivation.... In fact those who slumber and are relatively
insensitive to spiritual issues... i.e., all non Jews and most Jews --
except for some exception -- they are without a doubt under the control
of natural laws... This is no different than the animals whose Divine
Providence is not for the individual but only for the species -- because
it as a species they fulfill G-d's will.
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