Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 100

Thursday, March 24 2005

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 05:08:11 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: Uprooting Torah

From: Micha Berger [mailto:micha@aishdas.org] 
>: Perhaps you can explain why these reasons, which are not mentioned in
>: the Torah, forced(allowed) Chazal to uproot a mitzvah doraita?

> No! I'm not arguing batlah ta'am, batlah mitzvah.

> Rather, that the problems of midevar sheqer, bal tashchis and multiplying
> copycat murders satisfies the requirement that the gezeirah laaqor davar min
> haTorah besheiv ve'al ta'aseh must be to protect a more chamur de'oraisa.
> Which other deOraisa is most relevent depends on the ta'am for eglah arufah.

Why didn't the gemora mention this mechanism (or the possible
reinstatement) at all?


Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 08:01:11 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
chasimas hatalmud

It is well recognized that parts of the gemara where written after Ravina
and Rav Ashi (as an aside there are several Ravina and this seems to be a
later Ravina) both by Rabbonam Savorai and even as late as the geonic era.
If one relies on some miraculuous siyata deshmaya then this miracle
was not a one time occurrence but happened continuously over several
hundred years.

Of corse any miracles also runs afoul of "lo bashamayim hi". The Chatam
Sofer points out that even the Sanhedrin in Lishkat haGazit was not
infallible because of this reason.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 11:42:16 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: fallibility or non fallibility of chazal

S & R Coffer wrote:
>On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote

>>1) Disagreement between amoraim is not inherently related to the issue
>>of infallibility. See the classic statement of eilu v'eilu in Rashi
>>Kesubos 57a.

>Interesting. This is precisely the Rashi that I always quote in defence
>of my view. I enjoin you to look at Rashi again. He specifically states
>that when two amoraim are arguing in a sevara, it might be possible to say
>elu v'elu because although one sevara may make more sense, with a slight
>change in circumstances the other sevara would gain ascendancy. Thus,
>there is room for both sevaros (akin to what the Ritva says in chagiga)
>However, if they are arguing factually, "chad meenayhoo mishaker" that
>is, one is (inadvertently) misrepresenting the truth and therefore elu
>v'elu would be impossible to say.

As I said - disagreement is not inherently related to the issue
of infallibility. I think that you will find that the majority of
disagreements do not deal with history but rather with sevara. Rav Moshe
Shapiro noted that there is a specific and rarely used term - badusa -
indicating an actual error.

>>As the Maharal points out in Baer HaGolah - halacha is
>>something which has to be decided amongst alternatives. The rejected
>>views are not necessarily mistakes.

>Although they may be. In fact, the Maharal's shita is that subsequent
>to Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel, we do not necessarily say elu v'elu in
>halachic matters at all.

Maharal has a much more restrictive use of the term eilu v'eilu but he 
is not disagreeing with the basic concept.

Maharal( Baer HaGolah 1 page 19): It is important for you to know
that is only in the dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel that we
say /eilu v'eilu/. That is because they were the beginning of the Torah
disputes. Prior to Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel there were no disputes
concerning the Torah at all. Their disputes were in fact considered
/eilu v'eilu/. It is not proper that the Jewish people should go from
the highest spiritual level where there was no dispute to one in which
one side is right and the other is wrong. Therefore the first dispute
was /eilu v'eilu/ where both sides are "the word of the living G-d."
Afterwards began period of disputes. It is very important to understand
this fully. I have explained elsewhere the nature of /eilu v'eilu/
and this is not the place to discuss it fully.

Maharal (Derech Chaim 5:17): The Mishna says that the dispute between
Shammai and Hillel is the example of a dispute for the sake of Heaven.
That is because their dispute was entirely for the sake of Heaven and it
is impossible to find any aspect which was not the sake of Heaven.... In
contrast while the other disputes between our Sages were also for the
sake of Heaven, there was some aspect which was not entirely for the
sake of Heaven. Consequently through careful analysis it was possible to
resolve these other dispute... G-d Who is an absolute unity is the cause
of opposites. Therefore a dispute which is for the sake of Heaven, even
though the dispute involves opposites and these opposites by themselves
can not constitute a unity, but from G-d's view since He is the cause
of opposites "these opposite constitute a unity... However concerning
practical Halacha it is impossible for person to do both opposites,
but the opposites themselves and their reasons are from G-d since He
includes opposites. Therefore if a person learns the two opposing view
since they are from G-d "he is learning Torah.... Regarding the issue
of Halacha, even though there is clear and equal justification for the
opposing views, however, it is possible that one is more relevant for
Halacha... When a person understands the term /eilu v'eilu/ (these both
are the words of the living G-d) he will understand that it alludes to a
great matter. That is because in disputes which are not /eilu v'eilu/,
even though both positions are from G-d, nevertheless one position is
closer to G-d than the other. In contrast, concerning the dispute of Beis
Shammai and Beis Hillel they were both absolutely equally the words of
the living G-d. That is why theirs was the only dispute that the term
is applied.

>>2) Do you have any source for your chidush? There seem to be three basic
>>views of the authority of Chazal. Kesef Mishna (Maamirim 2) states that it
>>is possibly the result of being universally accepted. Chazon Ish rejects
>>this and says they are authoritative because of their vast superiority
>>based on Ruach Hakodesh. Rav Shlomo Fisher allows for different types
>>of authority based on different traditions of what was accepted by a
>>particular group. None of these views state or indicate that there was
>>a unique flow of siyata dishmaya or ruach hakodesh at the close of the
>>Mishna or Talmud.

>Ok, here we go. The Rambam in his hakdama to the Yad states as follows:
>"All of the things that are found in Talmud Bavli, all of Klal Yisroel are
>obkigated to follow...since all of these things found in the Talmud were
>agreed upon by the entire yisroel, and the chachamim of that generation
>that considered and judged...comprises the entirety of talmedei chachmim
>that existed in that generation, and they had a direct mesorah (ish mpee
>ish as the Rambam delineates a bit earlier).

>There are different ways to understand this Rambam. R' Elchonon (Kobetz
>Shiurim chelek beis kuntris divrei sofrim siman beis) contrasts this
>Rambam to the Rambam in Hilchos mamrim and brings a ra'ayah to his thesis
>that if ALL of the talmedei chachamim of a generation come together
>and decide something and it is accepted by all of klal yisroel, it has
>the same din as a beis din of shiv'im and cannot be contravened. (Rav
>Elchonon rejects the explanation of the kesef mishna) This is one peshat.

The above paragrah is not clear. Where do you see that Rav Elchonon 
disagrees with the Kesef Mishna. See the exchange of letters with the 
Chazon Ish.

>The second peshat is the kesef mishna's peshat. You have differentiated
>his approach from that of the Chazon Ish's but I believe you may have been
>hasty in your conclusion. The KM states that klal yisroel collectively
>undertook not to argue on the ammoraim. TheChazon Ish *appends* to
>this that this could not have been simply because we were "doing them
>a favour";

My text of the Chazon Ish says no such thing. He says that the Kesef 
Mishna did not do Klall Yisroel a favor by proposing that authority is 
based upon the acceptance of Klall Yisroel. Chazon Ish says authority is 
based on the superiority of Chazal.

Chazon Ish (Letters 2:24): The truth is that the generation after the
Mishna witnessed a decline in stature relative to the Tannaim. The new
generation knew for certain that the truth was always with the Tannaim.
Once they knew the truth of the matter that it was impossible for
them to comprehend something that had not been understood by one of
the Tannaim "it was no longer possible to disagree directly with the
Tannaim on their own authority. Therefore, they only taught what they
understood to be the teachings of the Tannaim. Similarly with the close
of the Talmud, the words of an amora "who was unaware of the teaching on
that matter of a tanna "were not null. The only exception being Rav who
because of his greatness his words were not null. All their conclusions
were reached with Divine guidance and ruach hakodesh which manifested
itself. Their rulings were in agreement with G-d as it says in Bava
Metzia 86a "Rebbe and Rav Nachman were the end of the Mishna. Thus,
it was at the conclusion of the Talmud as it says that Ravina and Rav
Ashi were the end of hora'ah. This that Rav Yosef Karo says that the
authority came because the Jewish people accepted them as authoritative
(Kesef Mishna Hilchos Mamrim) "he did not do us any kindness or good
with the sages. The fact is that their authority is because they had the
truth. Because how could we do according to our opinion if we know that
our understanding is limited and we don't have the truth? How could we go
against the sages? In fact, the entire Torah was given at Sinai "even
that a student would "create" in the future. The Tanaim recovered that
which had been forgotten and up to the time of Rebbe, not everything
had been revealed. However, at the end of the Mishna, everything that
was appropriate to reveal was revealed and henceforth nothing new was
revealed. In fact, everything was hinted at in the words of one of the
Tannaim. Thus, it was revealed the Mishna from the first generation of
the Amoraim until the last generation of the Amoraim. Our portion is only
what is mentioned in the words of the Amoraim. In addition, this was a
tradition that they had as it says in the gemora Bava Metzia and Avoda
Zara 9a "there were a period of 2000 years of Torah "this alludes to
the Tannaim because this period ended shortly after them

>The Doros HaRishonim states that Rabbeinu Hakadosh had special siyata
>dishmaya to compose the Mishna and he quotes the Gemara that form Moshe
>Rabbeinu to Rabbeinu HaKadosh there was never a man who encompassed within
>himself Torah ugidula (power) in one personality. The purpose of having
>these character traits was to ensure the universal acceptance of the
>Torah by the entire klal yisroel and this feat was accomplished a third
>time during Rav Ashi's generation. (the Gemara states that Rav Ashi also
>encompassed the trait of Torah ugdula bimakom eched) The Doros HaRishonim
>spends almost two entire volumes on this phenomena and bringss many proofs
>that Rav Ashi, for instance, was the recipient of an immense amount
>of siyata dishmaya. Not the least of these ra'ayos is the fact that he
>"ruled" uniterupted for 60 years, much longer than any other amaorah did.

>My approach is basically a synthesis between the Doros HaRishonim and
>the KM/Chazon Ish. I have much more to say on this inyan but I won't
>bore you with the details.

I am not being bored - just confused - I just don't see how your
assertions follow from the sources.

Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 07:33:37 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
On the Akeida

From: Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu>
>>I need help with a source. Some time during the past 2 years I read a
>>D'var Torah that stated that the Akeida came (in part) to teach us and
>>the world that sacrificing children is Assur.
>>Does anyone know the sources for this?

The following is excerpted from Yeshivat Har Etzion; SICHOT63 -04:
Parashat Vayera.

     When  God tells Avraham not to offer Yitzchak - "Lay
not  your  hand upon the lad" - He is making it clear  to
Avraham  and  to the world that He is not  interested  in
human  sacrifice.  He is interested in  man  serving  Him
through  living  in  this world  and  not  through  self-
destruction.  The verse in Parashat Re'eh (Devarim 12:31)
refers to sacrifice of children as "an abomination, hated
by  God."  Rav Yosef Albo, in his Sefer ha-ikaraim  (3:14
s.v.  aval) explains that one should not think  that  the
problem  with idolatry is only whom they are worshipping,
but  also  how  they worship.  Based on the  verse  cited
above,  he explains that the method of idolatrous worship
is  despised  by  God;  the  verse  comes  to  point  the
direction   of  our  Divine  service  away   from   human
sacrifice, for that is abominable to Him.  Rav Albo  ends
that  passage  by citing a midrash that the  offering  of
Yitzchak never crossed God's mind, so to speak.

     After  the  akeida,  this  message  of  serving  God
through  living in accordance with His will, rather  than
killing  oneself for it, became part of Avraham's mission
to  the world.  The Rambam (Hilkhot Avodat Kokhavim  2:3)
speaks of Avraham spreading the notion of the worship  of
God among the peoples of the area.  Clearly, the negation
of  human  sacrifice was an integral part of his message.
We  must remember not only the beginning of the story  of
the  akeida, which displayed Avraham's obedience to  God,
but  also  its end, where God showed that He rejects  the
notion of human sacrifice.

Richard Wolberg

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 08:22:53 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Re: On the Akeida

I've just remembered a Tanhuma which connects Yiftah, Melech Moav, and
the Akeda and might be what you're looking for. It's Vayera 40 (Buber

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 02:03:04 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Re: Tefillin Parshiyos and pesaq

R Arie Folger wrote:
> RMB mentioned repeatedly the well know tefillin dating back to Qumran 
> and even to the 'Hashmonaim, some of which are in accordance with 
> Rashi and some of which with RT, while others follow a third 
> interpretation.

> RMB, could you perhaps post a link to some material on these tefillin? 

R' Margolis discusses this extensively (IIRC) in his glosses on Sha'alos
u'Teshuvos Min Hashamayim (Mossad HoRav Kook). If anyone wants the exact
citation, I'll gladly look it up.

Interestingly, the context is that the author of Sha'alos u'Teshuvos
Min Hashamayim, Rabbeinu Ya'akov m'Miroish (IIRC) says that he asked,
using a she'alas chalom, what the proper order for placing the Teffillin
parshios is. The answer he received - drum roll, please - was that it is
a machlokes between HKBH and the pamalya shel ma'alah. Unfortunately,
as R' Margolis discusses (IIRC), there is a question in the girsa,
and we don't know who said what. To cross-reference to another thread,
I wonder how eilu v'eilu applies here. IIRC, the gemara in BM discusses
a similar story in which Rabbah was called upon to adjudicate such a
heavenly disagreement.


Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 10:05:45 -0000
From: <davidhof@bankisrael.gov.il>
Re: Uprooting Torah

Tosfot (Ketubot daf 11a), in considering the question of how giyur of a
kotan can be effective, advances the proposal that indeed min haTorah
it is NOT effective, BUT that Chazal have the power -- not merely to
suspend performance of a mitsva -- but actually to decree changes in
halakhic reality (l'akor davar b'qum v'aseh). I have to admit that I
did not yet understand how Tosfot's proof-text from Yevamot proves this.

Note how sweeping this idea is: A bet din converts a female child, who
grows up, marries a yisrael and has a daughter, who in turn grows up,
marries a kohen and has a son, who in turn grows up to become the Kohen
Gadol and does the avodah of Yom Kippur in kodesh ha'kodashim. According
to Tosfot's idea, following din d'oraita, this man would be a nochri,
but in reality (which is determined by Chazal) he's a kohen tsedek and
his avodah is m'khaper for Klal Yisrael.

According to Tosfot's mehalekh, how is this different from R and
C? Perhaps the answer is simply that they don't have the necessary
authority (either because nobody today does or because of their
inability to muster a broad enough base b'chochma u'vminyan of modern
Torah scholarship for their ideas...leaving aside the question of at
what point their rejection of halakhic authority and/or the Ikkarim
is so far gone that they no longer have a vote at all). After all, if
nearly all the true g'dolei hora'ah of our generation had determined to
mattir hav'ara b'shabbos l'tsorekh tefilla b'tsibbur (in the framework of
operating an automobile), how many of us would have thought it necessary
to oppose them?

Kol tuv,
David Hoffman

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 13:31:39 -0500
From: "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
Taanis Esther/Tzom Esther

Someone just asked me the following question:
> Why is it referred to as Taanis Esther and not Tzom Esther?  Why is
> it referred to as Tzom Gedaliah and not Taanis Gedaliah?

Some related questions:

1) Is there a difference in the meaning between the words Taanis
and Tzom?
2) Why are these the only two fast days that have the word "fast" in
their "title"? (Although this question may not even start, since the
other fasts are called tzom ha'revi'I, tzom ha'asiri, etc.). I can
think of some balebatish answers, but I'd like to find something more.

KT and FP,

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 11:49:24 -0500
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@cs.columbia.edu>
schiavo case

so I've been wondering about this case, and one thing in particular.

If someone's is on a feeding tube, actions have to be explicitly done
to keep on refilling it.

Is not refilling it equivalent to taking someone off a respirator?

could one argue that perhaps she's in such a state that you can't do
anything to help or hurt her. wouldn't this preclude refilling the
feeding aparatus?

just wondering.

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 21:21:18 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: schiavo case

From: Shaya Potter [mailto:spotter@cs.columbia.edu] 
> If someone's is on a feeding tube, actions have to be explicitly done to
> keep on refilling it.
> Is not refilling it equivalent to taking someone off a respirator?
> could one argue that perhaps she's in such a state that you can't do
> anything to help or hurt her. wouldn't this preclude refilling the
> feeding aparatus?

Quote below from today's newark star ledger makes the same case-but I
don't see why it "precludes" or "requisite" ;I would think it allows not
refilling but not taking it out (similar to R' Moshe original tshuva on
oxygen tanks(IIRC)

But according to Rabbi Noam Zohar, an expert on Jewish bioethics from Bar
Ilan University in Israel, Orthodox Judaism draws distinctions between
letting someone die and causing their death.

"According to mainstream Orthodox Jewish law, it is not only permissible
but requisite to remove artificial impediments to the death process
because it is not permissible to place these there in the first place,"
Zohar said, adding that this applies only if there is no hope of recovery.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 11:08:38 +0200
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>
Purim Seudah - Poreis mappa

For personal reasons a friend of mine would like to make the Purim Seudah
Friday afternoon going into Shabbat and asked me the following questions.
I would appreciate this knowlegeable forums input, preferably with

1. The guests I will have for the seuda will be walking home Friday
night to sleep in their home. Can they light candles in my house since
it would be difficult for them to return in the middle of the meal to
their house for lighting?

2. Since not all the women will be drinking wine before I say kiddush
can I or should I say HAGAFEN for them when I recite kiddush?

3. How much of KABBALAT SHABBAS do we say - since we will be davening
way after shki'ah and after Kiddush?

4.Should we say AL HANISSIM and/or Retzei when we bench?

Below are my tentative answers:
1. To the best of my knowledge you have to preferably light in the house
where you sleep after Plag Minhah. (Be sure to be madlik al Tnai, and also
have kavanna on the electricity in case you come home before the candles
go out.) I know that people, be-she'at hadehak light where they eat -
but if they live nearbythey can jump home for a few minutes and light.

2. To avoid the Safek, have each of them drink grape juice before shkiah,
before you make kiddush. But, I do believe you can make Borei Pri haGafen
for them, provided THEY drink some of the wine. This is because the BPHG
is part of a birkat haMitzvah.

3.Although Kabbalat Shabbat was meant to be recited before Shkiah, the
minhag is to be lenient and recite it after shkiah as well. It's only
Tehillim - and Piyut, nothing really lost.

4. There are shitot every way on this one. The Hayei Adam (155:32)
indicates that if the meal goes into Friday night, because of the Tartei
de-Satrei, you should only say Retzei. The Mishnah Berura (695: 15 -
second half) rules like Hayei Adam. Rav Harari (Mikraei Kodesh, 13:13)
says that the custom is to only say Retzei. This also the ruling in the
Luah of the Rabbanut haRashit.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail: FrimeA@mail.biu.ac.il

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 04:24:35 -0500 (EST)
From: akiva.atwood@gmail.com
A washingtonpost.com article from: akiva.atwood@gmail.com

You have been sent this message from akiva.atwood@gmail.com as a courtesy of washingtonpost.com 

Personal Message:
Good discussion on what a "theory" is in science

An Argument's Mutating Terms
By Steve Olson

If you want to know one reason why the debate over teaching evolution
remains so contentious, consider the stickers some school boards have
wanted to paste in high school biology textbooks. They label evolution
a "theory, not a fact," suggesting that an alternative explanation
is possible.

To view the entire article, go to

(C) 2004 The Washington Post Company

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 12:06:27 -0500
From: mlevinmd@aol.com
What's the right way to explain it.

Can someone help me come up or direct me to an expanation of Hashem
being referred askel kana, A jelous G-d in Devarim 4, 21 and also in
the 10 commandments . In the latter it is defined as Poked avon avos
al banim. ONe of my students asked me to explain it and I found myself

I am aware of targum who says that it is only when they children
follow the deeds of the fathers, as well as the Ibn Ezra's explanation
that G-d is ling suffering waiting for 3-4 generations to collect his
debt. However, while it diminshes the question of fairness, there remains
the question that it is not just to punish someone in any measure for
sins of anther, even a father.

Thank you greatly,
M. Levin

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 14:09:02 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Startling historical beliefs

RZK wrote:
> Bottom line: As far as can be determined, all recognized rishonim held
> that Hashem is incorporeal, and this was not an issue over which Rambam's
> sefarim were criticized or burnt.

In private email, someone pointed me
to <http://chakira.blog-city.com/read/1011602.htm>. In it someone
anonymously posted on the subject of corporeality.

He quotes Machzor Vitri on Avos, pg 514, "shenivre'u betzelem E-loqim",
but that source doesn't say what he claims it does.

Kesav Tamim (which is described as being often quoted by the Or Zarua)
by R' Shamah b"r Chasdai Taqu was written to attack R' Saadia, the Rambam, the
Ibn Ezra and Chasidei Ashqenaz. In it he writes that anyone who allegorizes
these sources it "nata zar beYahadus".

Also, the kisvei yad of R' Yeshaia miTroni, in his last notebook on
Sanhedrin. He calls the Rambam's position "chutz mishitas hatalamud".

The same psuedonym was used to also post this list:

> 1. The original substance of the world was not created by God (Chomer
> Kadmon) [Ralbag, Ibn Ezra, and Kuzari doesn't find this approach heretical
> ditto the Rambam.

> 2. God does not have foreknowledge on what we will decide with our free
> will [Raavad Baa'l Emuna Ramah, R' Eliezer Ashkenazi Baa'l Maa'she Hashem.

> 3. We don't have free will it's just an illusion. [Ohr Hashem R'
> Chasdai Kreskas]

> 4. The Laws of the Torah will Change due to our being in different
> cultures and environments than the times of the giving of the
> Torah. [Sefer Ha,ikarim]

> 5. Maaseh Merkava means Astronomy, mistaken astronomy that is. [Rambam
> according to how Abarbanel in his hakdomeh on Yechezkel interprets the
> Rambam, that it is astronomy according to Babylonian knowledge and that
> it's not the correct ones)]

> 6. The Yidden at Matan Torah only heard a rumbling sound of a voice,
> that's it, nothing else no coherent utterance at all. [Rambam Moreh]

> 7. God is a physical entity, anthropomorphism in all it's glory. [some
> of the Chasidey Ashkenaz, Rishonim]

> 8. God doesn't listen to anyone's prayers [Rambam]

> 9. Many Jews were already in Israel while most Jews were in Egypt. (R'
> Yehuda Hachasid in Haggadah L'ballie Tosfat Hashalom]

> 10. Hallal Hagadol was part of the Torah but was taken out and put in
> Tehilim [R' Yehuda Hachasid]


Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 23:11:33 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Toras Purim 5765 (part 1)

Chullin 139b: Haman min haTorah menayin? "HaMin HaEitz" (Bereishis 3:11).

It is remarkable that the first place three words appear in Tanach with
the Rashei Teivos "Haman" in order is Bamidbar 34:5: "H-aGevu M-eiAtzmon

The word Atzmon is made up of almost the same letters as "HaMin HaEitz."

Moreover, the Midrash Tanchuma to "Zachor es asher asah lecha Amalek"
(Ki Teitzei #4) states that in the name of R' Levi that Yaakov and Esav
were like a hadas and an atzmoni -- so long as they were little no one
could distinguish between them. When they grew older, however, the one
extends its thorns while the other gives off a pleasant fragrance. So
too when Yaakov and Esav grew, Yaakov was an Ish Tam Yosheiv Ohalim
while Esav became Ish Tzayad Ish Sadeh.

The Midrash becomes even more relevant when we realize that the hadas
may well be Hadassah -- Esther. We thus have the divide between Yaakov
and Esav alluding to the battle of Esther and Haman.

As if to prove the point, the Targumei Yonasan and Yerushalmi to Bamidbar
34:4-5 translate the name of the place, Atzmon, to mean kisam -- a
splinter -- bringing us back to the eitz.

What is the meaning of atzmon? In the Yerushalmi, Bava Basra 32b the
word is used to describe a document in which each side imposes upon
itself exaggerated penalties (i.e., an asmachta). In the name of R'
Samson Raphael Hirsch, the Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language
translates the ayin-tzadi-mem root to connote "storing power." Thus,
when the Torah warns us (Devarim 8:17) not to fall into the trap of
believing in "Kochi v'Otzem Yadi" it is warning us not to have faith in
a perception that we have an exaggerated sense of our own power. An eitz
sustains its foliage and fruit; an eitzah sustains a person or other
living creature. An eitzah sustains another person. But otzem connotes
an exaggerated perception of strength and advantage.

(To be continued)

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 12:11:09 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Age of the Universe and guided evolution

On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 06:10:32PM -0500, RYGB wrote:
:>> I don't think he is even allowing it. He is saying it is possible to
:>> reconcile with the pesukim - kinda like the Rambam on kadmus...

:> I don't know how you see that in a paragraph that poetically links the
:> slow unfolding of beri'ah implied by machshavahan and qabbalah with
:> evolutionary theories.

: I'm not talking about the source in "Orot HaKodesh" - I'm talking about
: the one in the "Igrot" - the one in OhK is really no ra'ayah at all.

We say that even though Eishes Chayil is a mashal, it is still
complementary to women. Just assuming that Torah or the Jewish people
can be compared to her is itself a complement.

RAYK writes poetically about the parallels between evolution and the slow
unfolding described in qabbalah. That's not something one does with a
theory one doesn't even allow. What would be the point he is trying to
make with the comparison if R' Kook didn't think they were both emes?


Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 13:15:59 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: psak in haskafa

On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 11:07:55AM -0600, Gershon Seif wrote:
: Your understanding suggests that at the time of chasimas hashas, all
: the conclusions were infallible through ruach hakodesh or a special
: siyata diShmaya. How about considering the following alternative
: explanation? Even if chazal were fallible, their maskanos were
: binding...                    One case in point I offer is the famous
: mayseh of tanur shel achanoi. Even though the bas kol told them that R'
: Eliezer was "correct", the psak went like their "faulty" svara....
: ...      The halachic process isn't concerned with absolute truth. That
: was the whole point of lo bashamayim hi....

In a constructivist model, their rulings define correct because halakhah
gives man the power to decide what is law. Pesaq is not about truth vs
falsehood, but law vs non-law.

Second, if one believes in a literal eilu va'eilu, than there was no
bas qol saying that Rabbi Yehoshua was wrong. Saying Rabbi Eliezer
was correct says nothing about whether a contrary position isn't also
correct? Besides, rishonim argue over whether the bas qol should be
taken at face value. See

All of the above is a rationale for saying chazal are infallible (by
definition) WRT din that doesn't necessarily apply to everything else.
Perhaps to metaphysics, where the Maharal would say that Devar Hashem
can only be imperfectly captured by the human mind. (The blind men and
the elephant effect.)

R Eli Turkel wrote:
> Micha writes
>>> That does not make them toim.

>> In the eyes of the one who believes the other tzad of a historical
>> matter, their tzad is in error, a ta'us. Therefore they are to'im.
> As to "toim" this has been applied to every area of halacha. We have all
> the expressions that women who wear sheitels will go to "gehinom"....

I think there is a semantic misunderstanding here. I was defending the use
in a post that contrasted "to'im" to "apiqursim". The whole point of using
the word is to contrast being wrong on fact with violating the din. The
range of mutar beliefs is wider than the range of true ones. Therefore,
one can make a ta'us in the sense of an error of judgement, without
being a min, kofeir or apiqoreis. Such a person would fit as "to'eh"
in this contrasted usage.

> However, in spite of these statements I believe in Elu V'elu which implies
> that if one listens to the psak of a major rabbi then it will be accepted
> in Heaven. As the gemara says the community of R. Eliezer followed his
> psak even though we do not pasken that way. There is a major discussion
> whether Elu v'elu implies several possible "truths" or is just a practical
> guide to halacha. Either way it says that G-d will not judge us by the
> ultimate truth but by what is accepted by a significant portion of Jewry.

Actually, we don't know that. If R' Eliezer and R' Yoshua were both
right, than both the majority and R' Eliezer's kehillos were following
the ultimate truth. And so it would be until it becomes an issue of
violating the rules of pesaq; he may still be following HQBH WRT the
tanur, but not WRT "lo sasur mikol asher yagidu lekha".

> This applies to both historical arguments (length of Bayit Sheni,
> ktav Ashurit/Ivri, Pilagesh Be-givah etc.) as well as to science vs
> Torah issues as well as to philosophy/Kabbalah issues and of course
> "straight" halacha.

But that is a statement on how we are judged. Not on whether we're
correct. Kelapei Shemaya galya (LAD), Rivqah was either 3 or 15 when
Eliezer met her. Not both. However, I also believe that the tanur achnai
would be both tahor and tamei, 49 different ways for each, and it's we
who decide which derekh to follow.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >