Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 020

Monday, May 23 2005

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 09:12:00 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
SheLo Asani Isha

On Fri, 20 May 2005 Harry Maryles wrote:
> So I remain with the Kasha. Why do men make the Bracha, SheLo Asani Isha?

Simple. The pasuk says, "harba arbeh itzvoneich vi'heroneich, bi'ezev
teildi banim, vi'el ishaich tishukasaich v'hu yimshol bach" Those
are three very good reasons why I thank Hashem that he didn't make
me a woman. In fact, they're so good that woman have to admit that on
the surface, these reasons are very persuasive and thus they declare
"sheasani kirzono".

Simcha Cofffer

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 09:26:38 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Sanhedrin Overturning a Previous Drash

On Sun, May 22, 2005 at 09:01:18AM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
: I don't know why you categorize mimetic tradition as minhag. As long as the
: chachamim don't have a drasha opposing our collective tradition, the
: tradition adopts the property of halachah. It is only when the chachamim
: come up with a drasha to negate the accepted tradition that the mimetic
: tradition retroactively assumes the properties of minhag.

I don't. I'm saying REED does. It seems to me to quite clearly be the
essence of his position. The testimony about the tzitz in Rome only
is in the category of minhag because it lacks ish-mipi-ish textualist
mesorah and no known way to establish it from TSBK or sevarah.

Mimetic tradition is left only with the authority to validate one
textualist position over another.


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 06:21:25 -0400
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Netzach sheb'Netzach

[From Micha's signature generator: -mi]
> When is domination taking control too extreme?  

The first answer that comes to mind is that it becomes too extreme when
man's free will is taken away. I'm sure there are exceptions to that
answer such as someone incarcerated who certainly has much of his free
will taken away but with justification. The same type of situation
exists when HaShem took Paro's free will away-with justification.
And the mere fact that HaShem took it away is ample justification.

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 09:01:18 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: Sanhedrin Overturning a Previous Drash

On Sat, 21 May 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
> On Sun, May 15, 2005 at 01:19:16AM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
> :                                   R' Eliezer was a perfectly valid eid
> : re'eeya however, Chazal were beholden to follow the kelaly hapesak and
> : based on their drashos, they concluded that it needs to be written on
> : two lines and thus overturned the previous method of doing it. (See
> : Michtav MeEliyahu chelek dalet in the ma'amar titled Torah sheba'al peh
> : uminhagim for a further clarification of this subject)

> I would not have phrased REED's position this way.

> Acccording to this ma'amar, in order for something to be TSBP, it needs
> to either be a direct mesorah from Sinai or based on TSBK. Therefore,
> what R' Eliezer reported doesn't have the power of Torah, but only of
> minhag. Their pesaq, deriving from TSBK, /is/ Torah.

> This pretty clearly relegates mimetic tradition to the realm of minhag,
> and carries no halachic weight.

I don't know why you categorize mimetic tradition as minhag. As long as
the chachamim don't have a drasha opposing our collective tradition, the
tradition adopts the property of halachah. It is only when the chachamim
come up with a drasha to negate the accepted tradition that the mimetic
tradition retroactively assumes the properties of minhag.

Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 00:21:32 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
alarm clocks on shabbos

On Thu, 19 May 2005 Gershon Seif wrote:
> This past shabbos I was told by someone that a well known Maggid shiur
> in our city quoted some teshuva that said that it is proper for bnei
> Torah to not use alarm clocks on shabbos. Does anyone know of the mekor
> for this? 

No, but I do have a mekor that alarm clocks are entirely mutar to use on
shabbos. See sh'v Beer Moshe chelek gimmel.

> If it's a real issue,
> any suggestions for how I should make it in time for krias shma? ;-)

I asked this to my Rosh Yeshiva twenty years ago. He answered that one must
go to sleep with an "ol" on his head. Consequently, he won't have a problem
waking up. I still haven't mastered the technique yet but that's the info


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 12:53:35 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: What should a kohen do?

T613K@aol.com [forwarded from her husband, R' Michael  Katz -mi]:
>>This morning, I davened at a shul at which I rarely daven on weekdays.
>>They had 3 chiyyuvim -- to bar mitzvos, and a yarzheit (my zaidee's).
>>The gabbai knows me, but I don't think he saw me. When Torah reading
>>started, I didn't know that there were any bar mitzvos there, and the
>>gabbai called out, "ein kan kohen, ya'amod", and i shouted, 'wait! i'm
>>a kohen!' ...When I said it, they just kept going...

>I understand that R. Moshe held that it is adequate for the gabbai to
>say "bi'mechilas k'vod Kohanim" and not even ask the Kohanim to leave
>as the assumption is that the kohanim would be mochel if requested to
>do so. R. Soloveichik, on the other hand, held that the whole layning
>is questionable if the first aliya does not go to a kohen.

According to my brief perusal of Igros Moshe OH II #34 page 218 the
above assertion is not supported nor is the action of the gabbai.

Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 16:42:14 +0300
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Swimming pool is a kosher mikveh?

See http://kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=10004 

Anyone care to comment?

Kol tuv,

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 01:18:56 +1000
From: "SBA" <sbasba@gmail.com>
Lechoved Pesach Sheini

I heard a shiur on the Pesach Sheni theme this morning which included
the following interesting piece, which the speaker later informed me
is from a [reasonably] new collection "Shollol Rov" by a Rav Avrohom
Yisroel Rosenthal [parshas Behaloscho p 127].

The gemoro in Pesochim 115a tells about Hillel's minhag of Korech,
which is based on the posuk (Behaaloscho 9:11) [and which we also say
in the hagodo] "...shene'emar - al matzos umrorim yochluhu".

Many ask the obvious question, why Hillel brings a rayeh from that
posuk, which actually refers to Pesach Sheni, rather than a similar
posuk by Pesach 'rishon' - "Umatzos al merorim yochluhu" (Bo 12:8)?

He brings a lomdish answer on this from the Tshuvos CS OC 140 and others.
[See also Reshash on the gemoro.
The Hagohos RB Ransburg actually corrects it to the posuk in Bo].

Bederech drush, the sefer quotes the first Belzer Rav, the Sar Sholom
asking this and being answered by his son the 2nd Belzer rebbe,
Rav Shiyele, that the kavono of the Baal Hagodo is that we say this
'beloshon bakosho'. Ie, that sadly, now - at the seder - we do not have
a korban Pesach, and therefore we only do a 'zecher lemikdosh'. But
we are being mispalel for the geulah and yeshuas hashem keheref ayin,
and for the Beis Hamikdosh to be rebuilt - still before Pesach Sheni,
when we will be able to still bring this year's korban Pesach...
And we are actually saying: "RBSO, Halevai that still this year - on
Pesach Sheni - we should be zocheh '...lekayem ma shene'emar - al matzos
umerorim yochluchu'.."

(The sefer adds, that Rav Yosef Shaul Natanson [baal Sho'el Umeshiv]
queries this pshat, quoting 'yochid nidche lePesach Sheni, ve'ein tzibur
nidchim lePS?'

The Belzer rebbe replied with a Yerushalmi (Pesochim 63b) the shittah
of Reb Yehudah that if the BHMiK is rebuilt between Pesach and PS,
klall yisroel WILL bring the korban Pesach on PS.}

Ayen shom also how the above pshat farentfers a shverr Tshuvos CS (YD233)
where he writes "...yom ...Yud Iyar Yom Bikur Pesach Sheni",
which is lechoreh against a gemoro pesochim 96a that only korban Pesach
Rishon requires Bikur for 4 days before shechiteh - but not for PS!


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 09:18:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: What should a kohen do?

T613K@aol.com wrote:
> In Avodah V15 #17 dated 5/20/2005  R' Russell Levy writes:
>> This morning, I davened at a shul at which I rarely daven on weekdays.
>> They had 3 chiyyuvim -- to bar mitzvos, and a yarzheit (my zaidee's).
>> The gabbai knows me, but I don't think he saw me. When Torah reading
>> started, I didn't know that there were any bar mitzvos there, and the
>> gabbai called out, "ein kan kohen, ya'amod", and i shouted, 'wait! i'm
>> a kohen!'
>> ....When I said it, they just kept going...

First of all there is no such thing as a Chiyuv for a Zaidee.

> [I asked my husband, the resident kohen in our house. Below is his
> answer --TK]

> I understand that R. Moshe held that it is adequate for the gabbai to
> say "bi'mechilas k'vod Kohanim" and not even ask the Kohanim to leave
> as the assumption is that the kohanim would be mochel if requested to
> do so. R. Soloveichik, on the other hand, held that the whole layning
> is questionable if the first aliya does not go to a kohen.

The following is gleaned from Torah L'Daas on Parshas Emor.

The Chiyuv to Give a Cohen the first aliyah is based on the Psuk in
Parshas Emor "Vekidashto Ki Lechen Elokecha Hu, Makriv Kadosh Yihiyeh
L'cha, KI Kadosh Ani HaShem M'Kadishchem (21:8). In recognition of this
high status vested by God into Cohanim, we are to give them special
honor. By honoring a "King's" servants (the Cohanim) we honor the
"King" (God). One of the many ways we do this is by giving the Cohen
the first Aliyah.

But before we get into the concept of Giving honor to a Cohen, The
following should be noted.

Emor El HaCohanim Aharon V'Amarta Alehem L'Nefesh Lo Yetama B'Amov
(21:1). This entails the Issurei Tumah, and Issurei Chasunos to Gerushos,
Chalolos, or Zonos.

As the special servants of God they are required to maintain a higher
status of spiritual purity. This is the reason that Terumah may only be
eaten in a state of Tahara (for both the Cohen and the Terumah itself).

B'Zman HaZeh Cohanim are supect. That is, they are not Meyuchasim.
They have no pedigree. Except for the renowned Rappaport family of
Cohanim (... they have documentation dating back to the Sifsei Cohen(the
Shach, who was a Cohen Meyuchas), today's Cohanim are in effect Safek
Cohanim. This effects Halacha L'Maysa and our behavior towards them in
certain instances. For example, Even thogh technically we are required
to give Matnas Kehuna today to Existing Cohanim, We can tell any Cohen
who asks for it to go prive they are Cohanim first and we do not have
to give it to them. Also, eating "Chalah" or Termuah D'Oraisa would
be problematic for a Safek Cohen. And according to most Poskim, another
interesting Kula that results from their current status is that if a Cohen
inadvertently married a Chalutzah, we do not force him to get divorced
(Even though we Paskin L"Chumra in a case of L'Chatchila).

Another interesting aspect of a Cohen's status today is the process of
Pidyon HaBen. Since Cohanim are in a State of Safek, it would be advisable
for them not keep any money given to them at a Pidyon HaBen. The only
reason we do a Pidyan with a Safek-Cohen today is because we have no
choice. But that does not give a Safek-Cohen the right to keep the money
because if he isn't really a Cohen he has that money MeSafek Gezel. An
interesting question arises: If they are indeed Safek Cohanim, why don't
they do a Pidyon HaBen on their own Bechorim as well?

As far as giving a Cohen the Kibud of the first Aliyah, (V'Kidahsta)
we are Machmir to do so because there is no Halachic downside to doing
so. According to the Rambam, (for Coahinm Meyuchasim) it is a Mitzvas Aseh
to give a Cohen special Kavod... although Tosfos and the Rosh argue that
it is only a D'Rabbanan. Worst case scenario, we gave a Yisroel or Levi
Kavod. So we err on the side of caution. But it isn't only Aliyos that
we are require to give, it is Kadioma in any area where a kibud is given,
if a Cohen is there he gets the Kibud. If there is a Mezuman or a Minyan
and a Cohen is part of it, we are required to give him the "Bentching".

Halacha L'Maysah (SA, OC 135: 3 and 4) is that a Kohen gets the first
Aliyah B'Zman HaZeh even if he is an Am HaAretz in the presence of a
Yisroel Talmid Chacham. The MB paskins that a Kohen must be given first
Kavod in all circumstances where Kavod is an issue. But, if a Cohen
wants to be Mochel his Kavod to a Rebbeor someone greater than he he is
permitted to do so EXCEPT for his Aliyah L'Torah. This he cannot be Mochel
M'Shum Drakei Shalom. This is to prevent Machlokesim developing between
those who feel they are most deserving of an Aliyah to supplant the Cohen.

Interestingly, the Mogen Avrohom paskins that if it is the Minhag in a
Shul to sell the first Aliyah in Parshas B'Reishis, and a Yisroel buys it,
The Cohen is to be Mochel his Kavod and leave the Beis HaKnesses.If he
refuses to do so, we may forcibly remove him, so as not to be M'Vatel
the Minhag and for Kavd HaTorah. I do not know if this rule applies
to other times of the year such as special Simchos (e.g. Bar Mitzvos
or Aufrufs). It would seem from the explanation of the MA that if the
conditions he stated above are extant (i.e. it is a Minhag HaMakom and
it preserves Kavod HaTorah), then it would be permissible to do so.


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 12:29:00 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Kedusha

In Avodah V15 #19 dated 5/22/2005  Zev Sero <zev@sero.name> writes:
>> [Developing Rav Shimon Shkop's idea i]n other words (my words),
>> qedushah isn't merely separation; it's separation FOR a given purpose.

> Do you take into account "pen tikdash hamele'ah", where the word is used
> to mean "destroy"? I was taught that this was because one separates it
> from oneself, by destroying it. Clearly it is not being separated for
> a purpose.

How would you explain the meaning of the root of the word "kedeisha,"
as in what Yehuda thought Tamar was when he met her on the road?

I can think of two ways of explaining it:
1) as a euphemism where "holy" woman is a refined word meant to indicate
just the opposite or
2) that certain women were "set aside" or sanctified in the understanding
of their religions, for use in certain religious ceremonies.

The second meaning, which I'm pretty sure is the more accurate of the two,
suggests that something can be considered holy in another religion even
though it is not REALLY holy and the same Hebrew word will be used for
both genuine holiness and the ersatz product worshipped in an A'Z sect.
This root must have some intrinsic meaning that would make sense in
both contexts, something like "dedicated for some special reason" or

BTW this is one of those speculative posts where I am not actually saying
anything (so don't argue with me, because I quite literally do not know
what I'm talking about). I am, rather, asking for enlightenment.

 -Toby  Katz

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 12:34:04 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Rabbi Yehudah Davis ztvk"l and the Mountaindale Yeshiva

Phyllostac@aol.com posted on 5/2/05:
> I don't know much about Rav Davis and the Mountaindale Yeshiva - maybe R.
> Lampel can tell us about that not well-known mosad.

> IIRC, he was an American-born Slabodka talmid (from Baltimore?) with
> certain unique derochim. For one example, I heard that he had the talmidim
> be responsible to keep the Yeshiva clean - as opposed to hired help from
> outside (as it was in Kelm ?). Can R. Lampel shed light on this and other
> unique things about the mosad and about the RY? Who is the present RY? How
> many talmidim are there? Beis medrosh? Kollel? Anything else of interest?"

A biography of Rav Davis (1907-1997), ztvk"l, was published in the
May, 2000 Jewish Observer, and reprinted in the book "Torah Leaders"
(Artscroll/Mesorah, 2002). I'll repeat some of the information, adding
insights and tidbits that should interest the Avodah crowd. I will
be short on relating his gadlus beTorah; it is not for me to describe
it. I trust the Avodah readership will understand the gadlus haTorah that
forms the background to all the perhaps unexpected pieces of information
I offer.

I came to Rav Davis' yeshiva when 18 in 1968, located in Brighton Beach,
Brooklyn during the winter, and Mountaindale, NY in the summer. (Five
years later the yeshiva relocated to Mountaindale year-round.) I was
introduced to a world of Torah learning in which the Rosh Yeshiva was
revered, there was a seder of calisthenics in the morning, and it was
insisted that we spend time swimming. There purposely was no kitchen or
janitorial staff. We, the bochurim, in emulation of Yehoshua bin Nun, who
"swept Moshe Rabbaynu's tent," were to feel that the Bes Medrash upkeep
was our responsibility and privilege. We learned to clean and cook and
took turns managing the tasks. (My mother still remembers how shocked she
was when she visited the yeshiva, and her pampered ben-yachid actually
offered and made her a cup of coffee!) I remained a talmid there for 18
years, the last five of which I shared there with my aishes chayil.

Beards were out (to avoid yehora) and tsitsis were in ("because the
begged with its tsitsis is meant to be worn as a garment, not partly in
and partly out"). And if a new bochur with a beard would become a member
of the yeshiva (on a contingency basis--it was forever on a contingency
basis) he would have to go through the process of being mattir a nedder
and remove it. The beis medrash was quiet, with learning conducted
in conversational tones, in high contrast to the loud pitch heard in
most. There was no bain hazemanim--ever. "How does anyone take a vacation
from learning?" Go home for Rosh Hashonna or Yom Kippur?--How can you
be away from yeshiva on Yom HaDin?! Succos, Pesach, Shavuous?--The days
of kabbalas haTorah you want to leave the yeshiva?? Chanuka, when we
commemorate the sacrifices made to learn Torah, you want to leave the
yeshiva?? Elul Z'man? The time for teshuva? Are you insane?

Someone recently wrote to me, "I also know R. Chaim Begun (father of
Yerachmiel), ny"v, and I heard him at times mention R. Yehuda Davis
z"l with great respect and admiration (perhaps I should/could even say
'awe' ?--though he didn't speak about him at length to me), and I got
the impression that he was someone special, not just 'stam a RY'." Rav
Davis practiced a strong love for his talmidim coupled with "hard-core
mussar." Almost every Shacharis would be immediately followed by a
drilling on the sugya being learned, inevitably leading to the conclusion
that we are all "am-haaratzim," or worse. Visitors who came to Shacharis
would leave white-faced and trembling after the experience, asking,
"Is it always like this?" I would joke: "This? This was nothing compared
to what we usually get!" (I could afford to joke. The Rosh Yeshiva was
always soft on me, afraid I would fall apart under strong criticism.)

Rav Davis focussed on developing each talmid's individual strengths,
disparaging the practice of trying to fit all into one mold. But he
drilled into all of us the mandate of applying heart and seichel in the
pursuit of emmess. There was hardly a day he would not extol the value
of "seichel, seichel, seichel!" practically salivating at forming that
word. When asked why he made the permanent move to Mountaindale, where
the yungerleit would live in affordable mobile homes, Rav Davis would
quote the Sforno in Braishis that explains why Hashem saw it necessary
to place Adam in a beautiful garden: A pleasant environment is "marchiv
ess haDaas," it expands the mind's thinking abilities, and to Rav Davis,
that is the meaning of life. As always, to keep closely connected to
each bochur, the number of bochurim was kept low. I think the greatest
number we ever had was 30. This policy continues today.

Rav Yehuda Davis (1907-1997) was born and raised in Baltimore, inspired to
become great in Torah by his grandmother's stories of European gedolim. As
was the case with many in those days, his formal limudei kodesh took
place in afternoon Talmud Torah. In public school, he often expressed
his independent nature by learning Chumash rather than participating in
the lesson.

After graduating high school (called "Baltimore College"), R. Davis
attended Johns Hopkins University. Possessing a brilliant mind, he
requested permission to take the graduating exam only six weeks into the
third year, and did superbly. In 1927, he went on to REITS in New York
City, continuing his secular studies at Columbia University, only to quit
after one year. He often explained that this was out of disappointment
in finding no evidence to support the institution's claims to honest
pursuit of knowledge. I remember clearly his repeated disparagement
of college not so much on the grounds of "shmutz," as on the grounds
of lack of intellectual honesty. He ridiculed Professor Albright as
someone who rarely showed up, and ridiculed the baseless hypotheses
(I hope I'm using the correct term) built upon baseless hypotheses by
which archeologists would derive the entire culture of a civilization
from the way a dug-up spoon-like instrument was bent.

Wherever he was, Rav Davis formed youth groups dedicated to Torah
study. He was always a charismatic person, and he formed a study group of
ten, that included (later to be known as rabbis) Avigdor Miller, Mordechai
Gifter, Ber Elya Gordon, Nosson Wachtfogel, and Joseph Kaminetsky. When
Rav Davis was first introduced to R' Wachtfogel, already reputed to be
an illuy, he plied him with kushyos, upon which R' Wachtfogel responded
that for answers, one must study in the European yeshivos. Rav Davis,
ever a man of action, insisted that they follow through with this, and
after convincing Reb Nosson's parents to let him go, traveled with him
in 1931 to the Mir Yeshiva in Poland.

Rav Davis remained there a year and a half. One of his chavrusos, R'
Yosef Begun, was an originator of many projects. One was printing the
Ramchal's writings in "Yalkut Yedios HaEmmes," adding marginal notes
summarizing each paragraph. Another was authoring "Eina Pekicha," which
included a plea to resolve the plight of Russian Jews, underscoring their
need for money and encouragement. This riveted R' Davis' soul, and again,
as a man of action, he decided to undertake a clandestine mission. His
prestigious university credentials eased his entrance into Russia, and
with money tucked into the soles of his shoe, and with the KGB following
him, he transferred the funds to Rav Yehoshua Minsk's yeshiva (disguised
as a sewing shop).

On his return to Poland, however, the suspicious border guards confiscated
his visa, so that he couldn't stay. The efforts of Rav Chaim Ozer
Grodensky gained him permission to stay for a precious three weeks
more, which Rav Davis utilized to visit the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz
Chaim pressed him to continue his learning in the superior European
yeshivos, but Rav Davis pledged that through returning to America he
would send Europe more of its bochurim. Indeed, within a year (1932)
he persuaded the rest of his chevra to travel to Europe to learn. R'
Avigdor Miller became his chavrusa in Slabodka (where Rav Davis became
Rav Yitzchak Isaac Sher's talmid muvhak), Rav Gifter went to Telshe, and
Rav Gordon went to the Mir. (R' Kaminetsky was unable to join them.) No
wonder that R' Nosson would thenceforth refer to his being introduced
to Rav Davis as "the 'Sholom Aleichem' that saved America," and would
claim that "50 per cent of the Torah in American yeshivos is due to Rav
Davis."! (I've seen a number of versions of who was responsible for the
historic move of American talmidei chachamim to European yeshivos--in
one book of biographies, alone!--and no doubt more than one person and
factor contributed to the final decisions. But the above statements,
oft-repeated in R' Nosson Wachtfogel's Yom Kippur shmuessen, and an
unsolicited praise for Rav Davis that Rav Gifter made to me, crediting
Rav Davis for his decision to move to Europe, reinforces the version
that Rav Davis was certainly a major contributing force.)

During his year in America, a friend's impressed father introduced R'
Davis to his teenage daughter (10 years R' Davis' junior), who was sitting
on a hammock studying the Sefer HaKuzari. Rav Davis was impressed, and
a tannaim was immediately arranged. Rebbetzin Davis' love of learning
continued throughout her life. Rav Avigdor Miller once recalled how
impressed /he/ was when he stepped into Rav Davis' house and found the
rebbetzin grabbing intervals of time from her cooking to study from the
Rambam's Mishneh Torah sitting open on her table.

In 1933, Rav Davis returned to Slabodka, but returned again to America
in 1936 to be near his mother, who was deathly ill He then married his
rebbetzin and once again returned to Slabodka, this time with his wife,
joined by his younger, teenaged brother. In Slabodka, Rav Davis fashioned
games for his brother's after-learning play. (Even the Mashgiach, R'
Zalman Kobriner, volunteered to play ball with the boy to allow Rav Davis
to start his seder. "Just teach me the rules," the Mashgiach called from
the window!

Rav Davis was at once an independent thinker, fiercely loyal to da'as
Torah, and insistent that "normalcy" is the proper demeanor of a talmid
chacham. He was also a very good basketball player, known to be the
first (and only?) talmid of Slabodka to have brought a basketball along
with him. At times, when the learning got bogged down, he called on his
friends to refresh themselves by shooting a couple of baskets.

In 1938, Rav Davis received a formal semicha from R' Reuvain Zelig
Bengis (the Kalverier Rov, and later the Av Beis Din of Jerusalem's Eida
HaChareidis), the Kaidaner Rov, and the Kovner Rov. He then returned
to Baltimore.

In Baltimore, Rav Davis was advised by Rav Elchonon Wasserman, also in
from Europe, to refuse a prestigious, well-paying rabbinical position in
Manhattan's West Side, in order to accomplish more things for Baltimorian
Jews. He became Rav of Adas B'nay Yisroel, where he successfully inveighed
against the social dancing there, and arranged for a kol korei against
the practice, signed by Reb Elchonon and many of Baltimore's great
rabbanim. He and his rebbetzin began Baltimore's Bais Yaakov, he took
over the Conservative-controlled Talmud Torah network, and formed groups
of young men to learn in the new Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim under Rav Dovid
Leibowitz. He was among the first to innovate the idea of summer camps
in the city's outskirts combining sports with undistracted (!) study,
and favored a "hands-on" approach to learning, having the boys make their
own tstitsis and construct their own sukkos after learning the relevant
sugyos. Reb Elya Meir Bloch, in from the Telshe Yeshiva of Europe,
was very impressed by the "Amerikana" boys' hasmada, whereupon Rav Davis
suggested he start a yeshiva of his own in America, successfully icing the
cake by offering some of his own bochurim to join. Rav Bloch would later
refer to Rav Davis as the founder of the Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland.

Later (1944), Rav Davis became the General Studies Principal of the
Brighton Beach Yeshiva, where he purged its library of objectionable
material. His rejection of a Jewish history book was the last straw for
some of the staff, and this led to a din Torah. Rav Davis pointed out that
the book described the Chasmonaim as a "mighty band." "What's so terrible
about that?" Rav A. Kotler asked. Rav Davis explained that fundamental
to the Chanukah miracle was that fact that it was a miraculous delivery
of "the strong into the hands of the weak," not into the hands of the
"mighty." "So tear out that page." "But if even the explicit expression of
an attitude that undoubtedly permeates the text can escape even the gadol
hador, how will others escape its influence? Rabbi Davis' reasoning won
the case, and from then on Rav Kotler would refer questions of ideology
to Rav Davis. At the first Torah Umesorah convention, Rav Kotler asked
Rav Davis to deliver the keynote address. "But you are the gadol hador,"
Rav Davis demurred, "it is you who should speak." "But you," Rav Kotler
responded, "you are the gadol in chinuch."

As might be expected, within four years (1948) Rav Davis was no longer
principal of the school, although he did remain as a rebbi. But now
he began to have his greatest influence in Brighton Beach, reaching,
through his fiery and spellbinding love of Torah and Gedolim, the youth
of another generation, fashioning them into talmiday chachomim. Among
these were R' Binyamin Weiner (who was to become principal of a Bais
Yaakov and eventually my rebbi-in-law) and his brother R' Dovid Weiner
(Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim), and Rav Aharon Zuckerman, who felt
so close and indebted to Rav Davis that they tore keriah at his kevura.

During this period, Rav Davis created original methodologies for learning
Talmud based upon rules of logic, syntax and language. (An example:
Note that a complete understanding of a statement requires knowing
the subject/scenario, the predicate/din, the scenario's essential
property that led to that din, and the source ( a posuk, a takkonna,
or whatever) for saying that that din applies to that scenario. If
any one of these factors is not given in the Mishna, look for it in
the Gemora. If not there, then the rishonim, etc.) Professor Eliezer
(Leon) Ehrenpries is another one of Rav Davis' talmidim, who was to
convey these methodologies. In my day (the 1970's), "Ehrenpries" was
already a living legend who, as a past talmid of Rav Davis, was "one of
the top ten mathematicians of America"--or was it the world?--(although
I had never before heard of this fellow, Aaron Price), who verified that
even the best mathematicians drew pictures and diagrams to follow logical
arguments, just as Rav Davis insisted we do when learning Gemora. Again,
although Rav Davis had complaints about the educational system, he valued
secular learning, and felt that geometry was an excellent way to train
the mind for straight thinking--to be applied, of course, to Gemora.

In the mid-1950's Reb Aharon sent Rav Davis to be Rosh Yeshiva of a
Boston branch of the Lakewood Yeshiva for a year-and-a-half, and then
returned to Brooklyn. Now followed a period of personal tragedy. After a
long bout with pneumonia, he was finally able to resume teaching. But two
days later, his 19-year-old son Mayir--a tireless masmid and exemplary
baal middos--suddenly died from a brain tumor.

Rav Davis continued devoting himself to disseminating Torah learning
and ideals. He became a maggid shiur in Brooklyn's Mir Yeshiva. One
evening, two boys attending nearby Lincoln High School knocked on Rav
Davis' door and asked him to teach them. He agreed to, on the condition
that they quit smoking. From this grew a new yeshiva, to be joined
by members of the Mir Yeshiva class, named Yeshiva Zichron Mayir, in
memory of Rav Davis' son. The students themselves raised the funds to
buy a building. Among them are the present hanhalla of the Mountaindale
yeshiva in the Catskills, where the yeshiva originally spent summers
(starting in 1965), and to where it eventually moved permanently. These
talmidim and those who followed shortly thereafter became rabbonim,
roshei kollel, community leaders (Deal, NJ is a notable example, with
Rav Davis' talmid-turned-son-in-law Rav Shlomo Diamond at the head, and
other talmidim in assistance), maggidei shiur, and a writer. (Rav Davis'
son, Rav Moshe Davis, is Rosh Yeshiva of Kollel Ohr Yehuda in Brooklyn.)

The present Rosh Yeshiva of the Mountaindale Yeshiva is one of Rav Davis'
talmidim, Rav Yerachmiel Shlomo Rothenberg. When I had arrived at the
yeshiva, he had just gotten married. Rav Rothenberg has also been very
involved with helping "kids at risk," often visiting nearby hangouts
in the evenings. He was one of those boys of the Mir Yeshiva who took
the money from their own savings to buy the Brighton Beach building that
originally housed the yeshiva. He relinquished a scholarship in basketball
and a career as a dentist to learn under Rav Davis. Rav Yosef Rosenblum,
who married Rav Davis' eldest daughter, married off two of his daughters
to two of Rabbi Rothenberg's sons.

My memories of those Yeshiva Zichron Mayir years are precious. Baruch
Hashem, my kesher and my wife's still exist.

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 21:23:01 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
closeness to Sinai

>> This only refers to an *issur* in the matter. It does not refer to the
>> *advisability* of disagreeing with people who were close to Sinai and
>> spiritual giants.

> Also, we find a very large period of time for the tanaic era and yet
> later tanaim are found arguing with earlier ones. We therefore see that
> the "closeness to Sinai" doctrine can not always be used and thus must
> search for alternative explanations for the chiluk between the tanaic
> era and the amoraic era.

Or to phrase it differently today we pasken "halakhah kebasorai"
so we in fact give credence to the later posek because he saw both
his and earlier opinions. This seems to be directly the opposite of
closeness to Sinai.

Eli Turkel

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 11:35:49 -0500 (CDT)
From: afolger@aishdas.org
Re: Eruvin

On Sun, 8 May 2005, RSP wrote:
> This is pure conjecture on your part since there is no mention of
> mechitzos as a heter in Rav Moshe ztl's teshuva concerning the KGH
> eruv. Rav Moshe only relied on the fact that KGH is a small community and
> the eruv did not include the highways in its parameters. (These criteria,
> though, do not follow his shitos in eruvin; see my other posts.) Nor is
> mechitzos mentioned in Rav Noach Oelbaums teshuva to allow the eruv in KGH
> (Minchas Chein, 24) nor does Rav Pinchus Goldberger mention them in his
> teshuvos against the KGH eruv (Minchas Asher, 1:51-52, 2:56-57, 2:59).

The information I stated comes mipi Rav Reuven Feinstein, who, IIRC,
accompanied his father to the breakfast meeting where the eruv was
explained to RMF. I must admit, though, that the fact that KGH is muqaf
me'hitzot being omitted from the tshuvah is strange, indeed.

Arie Folger

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 22:40:12 -0400
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Re: SheLo Asani Isha

> What is so great about having more Mitzvos? If women have less Mitzvos
> required of them it is because they are created in a more perfect state
> than men are, in the eyes of God. It follows that women can achieve
> the same level of holiness or reward in Olam Habah as men do by doing
> less. Doing less is... bad? Why ...if the result is the same? What is
> so great about doing... more?
> So I remain with the Kasha. Why do men make the Bracha, SheLo Asani Isha?

All you have shown is that we do not do mitzvos for the result. You
did not prove that being commanded in more mitzvos is not something
good. That doesn't answer your kasha at all, but it does weaken it
(as there is no proof on either side).

HOWEVER, if the reason for doing mitzvos is to do what was commanded
to us by HKBH, then being required to do more (for no more reward!)
could be something good, it gives us more of an opportunity in our
everyday lives to fulfill what we must.


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 12:49:45 -0400
From: "Zilberberg, David" <ZilbeDa@ffhsj.com>
Re: SheLo Asani Isha

Apropos of this discussion, see the following link to a 15th century
Italian siddur for women that includes an alternative text: "she'asitani
isha velo ish" <http://www.jtslibrarytreasures.org/sidur/sidur.html>
(see page 14 and 15)

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 13:05:56 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <HLAMPEL@THEJNET.COM>
SheLo Asani Isha

 rivkyc@sympatico.ca Posted on: May 22, 2005:
>> ... Why do men make the Bracha, SheLo Asani Isha?

> Simple. The pasuk says, "harba arbeh itzvoneich..."

I heard this explanation from Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, ztzvk"l, when he
spoke years ago at the Young Israel of Staten Island. He said, with a
shrug, "That's the way /I/ understand it."

Zvi Lampel

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 >