Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 058

Monday, July 25 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 22:51:58 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re:Covenant and Conversation - Pinchas

RMB wrote about an article by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:
>I found this vort interesting both in RJS's identifying a pasuq referring
>to separate Judicial, Legislative and Executive roles, and in his
>distinction between power and influence.

It has long struck me that although much of masechet Sanhedrin is devoted
to the relationship between the executive and judicial branches, there
does not seem to be any legislative branch in rabbinic law at all. This
is no doubt because the extant corpus of laws was divinely given and
thus perfect and inimpeachable. Nevertheless, there were gzeirot and
takanot from time to time which are a form of legislation. These were
instituted by chachamim who may have connected with the judicial branch,
but seem to be outside the judicial process per se. I wonder if others
have noticed the lack of a legislature in rabbinic thought.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 20:33:19 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re:RHM's drasha

RHM wrote
>Even though my new grandson, Noam Akiva, is not a Kohen, I hope that
>this bris Milah represents for him the Shleimus of Pinchas Ben Ealzar
>Ben Aharon HaCohen.

Part of what follows is based on ideas from R. Menachem Leibtag There
are two types of Kohanim. The first is of course "Kohanim, bnei Aharon"

The second is "V'atem tihiyu li mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh" It is on
this basis that *all* of sefer Vayikra is called "Torat Kohanim". The
first half of the sefer deals with the first type of Kohen. The second
half, with a few exceptions, deals with the kedusha which everyone in
klal Yisroel can attain.

Noam Akiva comes from a family in which Torah learning, hakpada al
hamitzvot, and masei chessed are central. This is the royal line, the
mamlechet kohanim, into which he was born. May he be a source of nachat
to his whole family.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 21:43:13 +0200
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
Re: darkhei Emori

Re: <<he doubted that the Emori were noheg kakh was meant as a joke and
was said with a broad grin.

<<Oy! After allowing myself to feel superior to those who didn't see
the joke in a recent post of RTK's I am hoist by my own petard, mida
keneged mida. Thanks for the clarification.>>

When a talmid chakham makes a joke, I've often found that there is
something to learn from it. Behind the joke, there might possibly be
a hint that this superstition is not one learned from ancient goyishe
customs but relatively new, perhaps a superstition of Jewish invention. If
I know my Litvak, I'd suspect he would blame the Chasidim. Yes, I know
him for over 50 years.


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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 23:12:08 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Avodah V15 #57

Wed, 20 Jul 2005 R' Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> posted
>> I therefore surmise that
>> gezeiros were in reaction to actual violations, rather than chazal's risk
>> analysis. This reduces my question to asking qashas (qushyos) on a maaseh.
>> But it would work a lot better if someone actually says this. Anyone
>> heard of such an idea?

> Yes. The Maharatz Chayos in his M'vo HaTalmud (English: Students Guide
> Through The Talmud, p. 72).

...which is daf 301 in Kol Kisvei Maharatz Chayos (Yerushalaim 5718).

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 23:19:03 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>

Thu, 21 Jul 2005 "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com> posted:
> ... those Rishonim and Achronim that discuss the idea of 
> "Ain mazal > l"Yisrael" (Ritva, Rashba, Ramban, Ran, Tiferess Yisrael and Yesh Omrim brought by the Ran)...

Sefer HaIkarrim (IV:4) also has an interesting discussion on the subject.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 23:51:09 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Harry Potter

>The possible issur in reading HP that comes to my mind stems from the 
>shulchan aruch in orach chaim 307, where "sifrei milchamos" are deemed 

>Opinions anyone? Does this apply to HP? Heterim? What is the nature of 
>the issur?

The Shulchan Aruch gives the following two reasons for the issue:
1) Moshav Leitzim
2) Al tifnu el ha-elilim
[3) Giruy yetzer ha-ra applies to romance novels]

Regarding 2), the Magen Avraham and Biur Halachah hold that this issur
only applies to looking at something made for the sake of avodah zarah. It
does not apply to reading history or fiction. Regarding 1), the Magen
Avraham points out that this applies equally to attending a circus or
theater. That is why I wrote on my blog that "[l]et us assume that your
rabbi is lenient and allows going to baseball games and reading Harry
Potter." Generally speaking, the two issues go hand in hand.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 307:10) writes that the Rema is lenient
on this issue. He holds that the only potential problem is the gezeirah
against reading shtarei hedyotos on Shabbos. But if the gezeirah does
not apply, e.g. if the book is in Hebrew, then it is mutar to read these
books. By implication, during the week it should be entirely mutar.

The Eliyahu Rabbah (307:40, cited by the Aruch HaShulchan) writes that
books from which one can grow in yiras shamayim are permissible to read
on Shabbos. If you can derive yiras shamayim from a Harry Potter book,
then according to the Eliyahu Rabbah one may read it.

Gil Student,          Yashar Books
Subscribe to "Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life" Newsletter:
news, ideas, insights and special offers from Yashar Books

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 22:53:07 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
maaris ayin

>>Would kol haYotsei min haTame tamei apply here? Would this meat
>> truly be fleishig?

Micha responded
> It would at least have to be treated as fleishig for mar'is ayin
> reasons.

Then wouldn't veggie burgers need to be treated the same way?

That reminds me of a cute incident about 19 years ago. R. Volbe had
invited me to Friday nite dinner at his home. He pointed at his plate and
said, "You know what this is?" I shrugged and shook my head no. He said,
"It's basar paravi."

Fair enough. He kept telling me and pointing to the patti in his plate
and saying it over and over. "It's basar paravi". I just kept think to
myself, 'yeah, that's great a veggie burger.' I guess the idea of veggie
burgers were new in 1986. He got the biggest kick out of the fact that
he was eating "basar parevi".

brent kaufman 

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 22:59:14 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
darchei emori

>Another comment on my original posting stated:
>> the minhag of loosening knots on the choson is that there should be
>> no "pressure" on him when he goes to the chuppa. ..... a chasidishe
>> minhag.... which I personally would refrain from calling "crazy".

And is a belief that loosening knots can have an affect on the choson and
cause relieving of pressure on him any less of a superstition, darkhei
Emori or worse than the belief that it will smooth knots in the marriage?
Any less "crazy"

The custom among pagans as a marriage ceremony is a "handfasting"
ceremony. I was at one not too long ago. It is a symbolism. No
supernatural belief is involved. I don't know if anyone's ever noticed
before, but Jews have a whole bunch of symbolic little customs in
ceremonies. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

brent kaufman 

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 00:11:05 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: R' Chanina ben Tradyon's Daughter

In a message dated 7/22/2005 8:57:05am EDT, yisrael.medad@gmail.com writes:
> Naftali Tzvi of Ropschitz divorced his first wife, the daughter of  a
> rich merchant of Brody, when he came home and saw her primping  herself
> before a mirror.  When he commented that she didn't need to  do that as
> he found her attractive without making herself more  beautiful, she
> said:  "Ha'im l'cha l'vad ani rotzah limtzo chen,  ani rotzah laset chen
> b'ainei acherim".  Hearing this, he ran away  immediately to Zlotchov
> and got a divorce with the agreement of Rebbe  Michel.

> see Ohel Naftali, p. 3, para. 5

> --  
> Yisrael Medad
> Shiloh
> Mobile Post Efraim 44830
>  Israel

The above was sent to me offlist but I'm sending it with the writer's
permission Fascinating story (but I'm sure the conversation took place
in Yiddish, not Hebrew).

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 23:11:30 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
sinat chinam

>that has come in for criticism are quick to hurl charges of "sinas chinam"
>against the critics. Yet quite often it isn't "chinam" at all and what
>is more important, it isn't "sinah"!

You can't make that blanket statement either. It all depends upon
"the individual's" feeling and motivation while he is in the act of
doing this divine act. It may be true that ideally a person should give
tochacha and point out the problems with only love in their heart. Any
mixture of anger and contempt creates a level of sinah. Sometimes that
is very little. But I think that we should be honest about this. Who
doesn't discuss the Chabad issue with a touch of contempt? Can anyone
say that their feelings and motivations for their discussing the Chabad
issue solely with the feeling of complete love and sadness that other
Jews are at a fork in the road and may eventually be lost to the Jewish
people like the xians and shabbateans? Who doesn't snicker at those wacky
Lubavitchers? It's sinah and it's no different from what was going on
before the churbon. Can anyone really say to themselves, "Feh, theirs
was sinah and it was chinom. But WE have none of that. The other guys
are really wrong and it's our holy work to "be against" them.

brent kaufman 

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 17:31:57 +0000
From: joelirich@comcast.net
Re: Re: Charedi dress and NY transit cops

> Here in Florida a few days after 9/11 a plane was diverted from its flight  
> path and made an emergency landing at the nearest airport, and two men were  
> taken off the plane and arrested--because they had put on tefillin and the  
> stewardess panicked.  When she asked them what they were doing, they just
> made gestures and didn't say anything--you get the picture.

Interesting question from areivim. Given the surrounding circumstances
were they halachically permitted/required to be mafsik to explain their
Your answer may differ derending on where in davening ou think they were.

Joel Rich

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 20:49:45 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Swimming pool is a kosher mikveh

In Avodah V15 #30 dated 6/7/2005 R' Meir Levin writes:
>Igros Moshe YD IV 17.19 page 197

> Concerning the issue of ben/as niddah

> "Since there is no issur but is it a desirable thing [not to be a ben/bas
> niddah], one can rely on the presence of good middos to say the person
> is not a ben/bas niddah. Even if it is known that the mother did not go
> to mikveh - but it is possible that she went bathing in the sea or the
> large swimming pool that are built in hotels and resorts. [snip]
> The majority of contemporary poskim agree that one need not hesitate
> in marrying a Baal Teshuva who displays the exemplary qualities of a
> Torah-observant Jew.

My father zt'l told a young FFB woman who found out that the young man
she was seeing was a long-time BT (and a ben nidah) not to worry about
it, because "yeshiva is a mikva."

Presumably that means that Torah study and observance can rectify any
bad midos or pegum resulting from mistakes made by the BT's parents.

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 20:08:58 -0500
From: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
Re: dress code

----- Original Message -----
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
To: "brent" <fallingstar613@hotmail.com>
Cc: <areivim@aishdas.org>
Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2005 4:23 PM

> I wrote:
>> Consequently, they may
>> believe that the haskama was obtained under false pretenses and
>> falsely implies that the Steipler agrees with those heretical views.=20
>> If so, a book owner has no right to say that he wishes to retain a
>> document printed under false pretenses and stating false information.
>> Whenever Mr. X sees someone asleep in the subway with the
>> paper on his lap, Mr. X surreptitiously scrawls "found by Court XYZ to
>> be libel."  Can he do it?

> On 7/24/05, brent <fallingstar613@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Not if he doesn't own the paper which he is defacing.

>> What will this lead to in the near future? People going to sefarim stores
>> and simply removing the shop owner's merchandise if they believe
>> that apikorsus (see RNS affair) is in the books? I mean if they
>> believe that "Hakadosh Baruch Hu" has been "misrepresented"
>> why shouldn't they be allowed to do this "aveira l'shma"?

> That would be going a step beyond my case. I was not arguing aveirah
> lishma, but that the actual statement legally (not just hashkafically)
> had no right to be printed.

I think it's the same thing on a larger scale. Whether or not a person has a
right to print something doesn't give others the right to destroy another
person's property.

I personally would not like to believe that the Stipler's judgement was
so clouded that he acted as plaintiff and beis din because he had not
done his job in reading what he was giving a haskama to. There is just
no justice or tzedek in this entire scenario. That is why I believe it
never happened and we are getting one of those stories that make the
rounds in the frum world and get so distorted that it is no longer a
reasonable, let alone praiseworthy story.

> I do agree that it would be best to go to a beis din rather than take
> vigilante action, but how do you know that the Steipler did not convene
> his own beis din?

A person convened a beis din to hear his own case? Bet'ya I can guess
who'll win.

brent kaufman

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 22:04:57 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Re: Swimming pool is a kosher mikveh

On Sun, 24 Jul 2005 20:49:45 EDT T613K@aol.com writes:
> My father zt'l told a young FFB woman who found out that the young 
> man she was seeing was a long-time BT (and a ben nidah) not to worry 
> about it, because "yeshiva is a mikva."

> Presumably that means that Torah study and observance can rectify 
> any bad midos or pegum resulting from mistakes made by the BT's
> parents.

I also heard this from your father, and he was quoting others in addition
to his own opinion. However, he said that many Chasidim don't rely on
this in practice.


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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 22:45:21 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Amoraim disagreeing with Tannaim and "Chisurei Michsara" and the Gra

Regarding the meaning of "chisurei michsara v'hachi k'tani," specifically
according to the G'ra:

The Tifferess Yisroel (Sota 5:5) proposes that just as with the Torah,
there could be a "peshuta" way of understanding a misnah that differs with
the "drash" of the mishnah presented in the Gemora, as long as it does
not contradict the Gemora's halacha. It seems a bit of a stretch to go
from there to saying, as has been suggested on Avodah, that by "chisurei
mechsera v'hachi k'tani" ("words are missing and the mishnah should state
as follows") the Amoraim were diplomatically disagreeing with the Tannaim
by ascribing verbiage and meaning they knew was not intended. (Would the
parallel be true re: Gra's understanding of p'shat and drash in Chumash?)

In Dynamics of Dispute, I argue that there were indeed areas where an
Amora knowingly disagreed with the Tannaim, and I bring examples of
such. But in those instances they were open about what they were doing,
and did not engage in pretenses, claiming the Mishnah meant something they
knew it really didn't. And the number of instances do not nearly number as
many the times "hachi ketani" (96) or "chisurei michsara v'hachi k'tani"
(101) occurs in the Talmud.

Two sefarim written by disciples of the Gra discuss his interpretation of
the phrase "chasurei michsara v'hachi k'tani. Both approach the phrase's
apparent meaning that Rabbeynu HaKadosh's Mishnah, in the form the Amoraim
had it, was actually imperfect by lacking something. They reject this
possibilty and each ascribe to the G'ra a different explanation of the
phrase that eliminates this idea.

Sefer Kol Yehudah* says the Gra held that "chisurei mechsera" is not
meant literally, and that only on the surface does the Mishnah seem
to be lacking words, for careful analysis will reveal that the thought
provided by the added words can be seen in the Mishnah as it is. I think
this is the mainstream attitude among b'nei Torah.

Sefer P'as HaShulchan** presents the Gra's opinion in a way that makes the
Amoraim less beholden to the decisions of Rebbi. It says the Gra held that
the Mishnah is actually the shitta of the Tanna that Rebbi poskenned like,
but the Gemora poskens like another Tanna, and amends the Mishnah to fit
that other Tanna's shitta. The phrase means, "The Mishnah's's language
should be changed to fit a different Tanna's opinion." Technically, the
Amoraim are indeed disagreeing with the mishnah and adding words to change
its intent. But this is only because they are following another tanna and
not "diplomatically" ascribing their own opinion to the mishnah. They are,
according to the P'as HaShulchan's version of the Gra's opinion, openly
changing the girsa of the mishnah to fit the opinion of a different tanna.

In the "Encyclopedia L'Toldos Gedolei Yisrael" (Yavneh, 2003),
Dr. Mordechai Margolioth cites this passage but, by leaving out a key
point (inadvertently, I trust), some people have been misled as to
the Gra's shitta (and, in my opinion, have accepted an unacceptable
idea). He writes:
    "The G'ra was gadol ha-pashtanim, and held that just as there is a
    peshuto shel mikreh, there is a peshuto shel mishnah; and the okimtos
    dechukos of the Talmud (expressed by 'chisurei michsara v'hachi
    ketani') do not mean to say that this is the payrush of the mishnah,
    that anything is missing from the mishnah, because the mishnah should
    be explained k'phshutah according to the implications of its words
    without [ascribing] any lackings. Instead, the Gemara is poskenning
    the halacha not according to [THE TANNA WHOSE OPINION REBBI ACCEPTED
    TANNA], and only according to the final halachah of the Talmud
    made complete (--v'rak l'fi maskanas ha-halacha shel haTalmud yesh
    l'hashleim eth ha-mishnah--I don't understand how this last sentence
    fits in) (hakdamas "P'as HaShulchan" by R' Yisrael MiShoklov).

If one examines the actual words of the "P'as HaShulchan," one will
see that the words I added in upper case and in brackets were "chisurei
michsara" from Dr. Morgolioth's presentation and "hachi ketani."

Both sefarim reject the idea that Rebbi's Mishnah could be lacking
any wording to get across the thought he had in mind. Neither of them
say that the Amoraim took a halachic opinion not already espoused by a
Tanna and re-worded the Mishnah to fit their own ideas, using the phrase
"chasurei michsara v'hachi k'tani" as a "polite" way to differ with all
Tannaitic opinions.

The best way to know what the Gra's shitta really was would
be to see actual statements and actual applications by the Gra
himself. Frustratingly, I can't see how either explanation fits the Gemora
(Beitsa 8a) to which the Kol Eliyahu is applying it. Besides, our girsa
of this Gemora doesn't even say "chisurei mechsera v'hachi ketani," but
only "hachi k'amar," and it seems to be a simple and necessary textual
amendation from "sheh-" to "V'."


*Sifrei HaGra, Kol Eliyahu, Chidushei Aggados Al HaShas, p. 74-75,
on Beitsa 8a:

Gemora: [The Mishnah ends, "because the soil of the oven is prepared."] But
who mentioned anything about the soil of an oven? Rabba said, 'hachi k'amar:
"and" [not "because"] the soil of the oven is prepared."...

Behold, Rabbeynu HaKadosh arranged the six sedarim of the Mishnah with wondrous
wisdom, to the extent that one within word many principles are contained,
and many sevoros in abbreviated terminology. And therefore, the Amoraim who
came after the close of the Mishnah did not possess permission to add nor
to subtract, but only to explain his words, each Amora according to what he
received from his mentor. And that which it sometimes says, "chisurei mechsera
v'hachi k'tani," one can say that in Rebbi's Mishnah there is nothing lacking
in the wording, and whatever they added is understood within the wording of
Rabbeynu HaKadosh z"l. However, in order to make it understandable in the eyes
of the masses who after their first glance need further explanation. But one
who studies Rebbi's words will see that this explanation is already included
in his words through one extra letter.... And this is the meaning of of every
"chasurei michsara."

 Sefer P'as HaShulchan by Rav Yisrael of Shoklov, introduction p. 5b, par. 6,

He (the Gra) knew every chisurei mechsera of the Talmud, with his shitta
that nothing is lacking at all in the way Rabbeynu HaKadosh arranged the
holy Mishnah. And it is not its way to be lacking anything. Rather, it is
that Rebbi held as one Tanna, according to whose opinion he presented the
Mishnah anonymously (stam), and according to that opinion the Mishnah is not
lacking a thing. But the Gemora held as another Tanna, and according to that
the Gemora said "chisurei mechsera v'hachi k'amar."

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 19:25:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gil Student <simcha365@hotmail.com>
[Hirhurim - Musings] Learning vs. Knowing II

Nedarim 8a:
    Rav Gidel said in the name of Rav: One who arises early and says,
    "I will study this chapter or this tractate" has made a great vow
    to his God. But is he not already sworn [to do so from Sinai] and
    a vow does not fall onto a vow?... We see that since he could have
    exempted himself by reciting the Shema in the morning and at night,
    therefore the vow fall onto him.

What does it mean that he could have exempted himself by reciting the
Shema in the morning and at night? The Ritva offers two answers: 1)
He could have exempted himself from learning by, for example, having to
work for a living. 2) He could have spent his time learning the passage
of the Shema and not learning the passage about which he vowed.

Without looking at the later commentaries, it seems to me that there
are a number of different ways to explain the point of divergence of
these two approaches. One way is to say that the debate is whether the
obligation to le! arn Torah is to constantly learn some part of Torah or
it is to master all of the Torah. The second answer of the Ritva can be
said to hold that one must simply learn Torah, regardless of what part
of Torah. Therefore, one has not sworn to learn this particular chapter
or tractate, because one can, at least theoretically, spend one's entire
life studying the passage of the Shema and never move on to other areas
of Torah. The first answer, however, holds that one is obligated to
learn every minute part of Torah and, therefore, had to come on to the
exemption of earning a living.

Now look at the Ran's comments on this matter. He is clearly of the view
that the obligation is to learn every part of Torah and, therefore,
uses a complex argument about whether the source of an obligation is
explicit in the Bible or derived to explain the above passage.

On this subject, see this post:

Posted by Gil Student to Hirhurim - Musings at 7/24/2005 10:22:00 PM

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Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 15:07:05 +0100
From: "Elozor Reich" <countrywide@tiscali.co.uk>
Darkhei Emori? Or worse?

"D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>
> The mesader kiddushin was the RY of his yeshiva high school. After my
> grandson made a siyyum on masekhet Kiddushin and the ketuba paperwork
> was completed, he was instructed by the RY to untie his necktie and his
> shoelaces before going to the chuppa.
> Assorted side remarks:
> Does the kalla also have to remove knots or does this magical act work
> only for males?

I think the origin of this minhag is connected with an ancient malicious
practice referred to in the Targum Yonason/Yurshalmi on the possuk in
Ki Tzaysay "Loi Yachboil Rechayim Vo'Rochev". Ayin Shom.

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Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 07:37:40 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
CORRECTION Re: Amoraim disagreeing with Tannaim and ...

> Regarding the meaning of "chisurei michsara v'hachi k'tani," specifically
> according to the G'ra:

> The Tifferess Yisroel (Sota 5:5) proposes that just as with the Torah,
> there could be a "peshuta" way of understanding a misnah...

Make that Tos. Yom Tov (Nazir 5:5)

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Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 22:38:17 +0300
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Rav Lichtenstein's halachic analysis of whether soldiers may refuse orders

On 7/24/05, Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote on Areivim:
> In a nutshell Rav Lichtenstein says that although there are those
> (Like [R.] Shlomo Goren) who Paskin'd that one should give up his life
> rather then cede land, he disagrees. Rav Lichtenstein and most other
> Poskim agree that retention of land is over ridden by Pikuach Nefesh.

While I personally agree with you, I will present the opposing point
of view (in the interest of fairness):

1. RAL believes that pikuach nefesh overrides holding onto land.  Many
opposing him believe that while avoiding large numbers of lost lives
may be docheh holding onto land, it is proper to hold on to land even
if a few people die each year--after all, people lost their lives to
create the State of Israel, and it is arguably true that if they the
Israeli pioneers had decided to emigrate to America instead fewer
lives would have been lost.  Moreover, the whole idea of milchamah to
conquer Eretz Yisrael implies that the Jewish people are willing to
lose lives in that endeavor.

2. The number of people who have died in Gaza or defending Gaza is not
that great--certainly less than the number of pioneers defending
similarly sized settlements in the early 1900's.  Sharon has not
asserted that a tremendous number of Jewish lives will be saved by the
Gaza withdrawal.  Therefore, Jews should be willing to hold onto holy
land even if this number of lives will be lost, and it is halachically
assur to transfer land to save this number of lives (see point #1).

3.  Moreover, Sharon's argument seems to be that lives will be saved,
and each life which is lost is needlessly lost given the prevailing
assumption that in any future peace agreement, Gaza will be
transferred to the Palestinians.  Rav Shlomo Levi, rosh kollel at
Yeshivat Har Etzion (RAL's yeshiva) and resident of my yishuv, gave a
public hashkafa shiur this past Shabbos on the issue of the
disengagement in which he asserted that many believing Jews believe
Hashem has given Israel back to the Jews after 2000 years of galus as
a precursor to the geulah.  Consequently, such believing Jews should
not believe that it is necessary to transfer land in order to achieve
peace; rather, Hashem has a plan for the Jewish people and will not
allow it to achieve peace until the geulah (at which point all these
issues will be resolved anyway).  If so Sharon's reasoning is
undermined: it is not true that under all scenarios Gaza will be
transferred to Palestinians, and that all lives lost from now
henceforth are needlessly lost.  (I.e., Sharon says what he says
because he is not a believing Jew.)  If so, the transfer of land is
halachically forbidden even according to Sharon's asserted reasoning.
(Remember, RAL's whole point is that a soldier must not make his own
judgement as to the military and political efficacy of a certain
action but must assume that the nation's leader is correct in his
assessment; the only issue is: assuming that the nation's leader is
correct in his assessment, does halacha forbid the fulfillment of the

4.  I don't think that it is straightforward for someone like RAL, who
believes in the permissibility of trading land for peace, to pasken
for a soldier who does not believe in the permissibility of trading
land for peace.  The fact is that just about every posek who believes
that the disengagement is a grave issur states that a soldier
fulfilling orders is no different than a soldier being asked to be
mechalel Shabbos when it is forbidden to do so.  (Rav Aviner and those
in Yeshivat Har Hamor just say that soldiers should do everything
possible to avoid being placed in the situation where they have to
fulfill such orders rather than blatantly declare their refusal to
follow orders.)  Would dati leumi soldiers go to the Satmar Rebbe zt"l
to hear his psak on the issue if he would tell them that he would
pasken with the assumption that R. Zvi Yehudah Kook was right about
the value of settling Eretz Yisrael?  Note also that the main
rabbanim/poskim in the dati leumi world, R. Avraham Shapira and R.
Mordechai Eliyahu, disagree with RAL.  (People in the US don't
appreciate the gadlus of these Israeli gedolim, but Israeli DLs are in
complete awe of them--more than in awe of RAL, who is certainly up
there in the pantheon.  One Israeli DL told me that R. Shapira was #1
in Yeshivas Chevron and would have been #1 in the charedi world if he
had not switched to the DL world.)

Kol tuv,

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Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 12:52:06 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Medicines, Charms, and Statistics

There is a recent/current thread in Areivim about a certain person who is
supposedly helping people by doing various acts -- some involving pouring
molten lead into water and looking at the shapes which are produced -
which reveal certain useful information for the people involved.

Some posters blasted these acts as foolish or even as kishuf, while
others defended them as having the support of certain gedolim.

R' Brent Kaufman wrote <<< They practice this and many people come to
see them all the time. AND they have helped many many people. Something
may be narishkeit if it doesn't work but if it does work, and obviously
it has for many people, then how can it be narishkeit? >>>

Well, I'll agree that if it works, then it is not narishkeit.

But the above paragraph is useless unless we define our terms. How do
we establish whether "it works" or not?

Many people - myself included - no, make that: myself especially -
understand the concept of "if it works" very differently than how I
think halacha understands it.

By my logic (which was admittedly shaped by the culture in which
I've grown up), we can say that something works if we test it in a
controlled environment, with double-blind tests, including placebos as
appropriate, etc., etc., doing whatever we can to ascertain that *this*
thing really did cause the help to occur, and that we are not being
fooled by coincidence or whatever. For example, to the modern mind,
the bottom line is: All else being equal, did it work in a significantly
higher percentage of cases than without it?

My understanding is that this is not how halacha sees it. For example,
Hilchos Shabbos (Orach Chayim 301:25) allows one to go outside with a
kamea, but only "if it works". "If it works" is defined there, and it gets
pretty complicated, but it seems to be based on the concept of "chazakah":
If it works in three similar situations, then it will presumably work in
other situations which are comparable to those three. But do we require
that it works on all three of the very first test cases? Or is it enough
that it worked in three cases spread over time? In any event, it is easy
to see that situations can easily develop where halacha legitimately
considers something to "work", where a modern mind would consider its
effectiveness to be laughable.

And perhaps that's what's going on with this lady and the molten lead. It
is quite easy for a modern mind (such as mine) to laugh and call it
"kishuf", when perhaps she is actually following processes which are
validly recognized by Torah.

Akiva Miller

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