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Volume 16 : Number 019

Thursday, November 3 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 02:27:22 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Ikkare Hashkafa

On November 1, 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 28, 2005 at 01:52:26AM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
>: The second, more profound reason is that the concept of kadimus does
>: not necessarily have to denote precedence in the dimension of time
>: alone. It can also relate to precedence in terms of significance, of
>: importance...

> To my eye, it's used to mean "logically prior"; not more significant,
> but the cause. When we say that the Torah was created before the world,
> we mean that it is Hashem's purpose in creating the world. The Torah
> is the prior idea, from which the idea of making the world flows
> logically. (To Hashem's ability to trace the logic, at least.)

> It means that "histakeil be'oraisa ubara alma" is not just that the
> Torah is a blueprint, but that it's the requirement for which the world
> was made to satisfy.

Essentially I agree with you. I worded it my way because the person who
taught this klal to me expressed it in terms of chashivus rather than
a logical flow. I believe the two can be reconciled by saying that if
something is causal, it posses more importance in the sense that without
it, the effect would not exist although the cause might.

>: At the risk of being blasted by the righteously indignant, I propose
>: that the first four perakim of the first chelek in Derech Hashem are
>: indispensable to the proper understanding of hashkafas haYahadus whereas
>: the 13 ikkarim are not necessarily indispensable (although one must
>: be aware of these ikkarim in order to possess the halachic title of a
>: Jew)....

> DH presents a logical and compelling hashkafah, but that's all it is
> A hashkafah. The ikkarim define the parameters of which hashkafos are
> within the parameters of non-kefirah, apiqursus and meenus.

Once again I agree with you. The problem is, I don't see how you think
we differ.

> Returning to RSC's post:
>:                            As far as your comment re ein melech bilo am,
>: once you assume the reason of hatavas Hashem lizulaso, you have already
>: incorporated within your reasoning the idea that there seems to be some
>: kind of lack kaviyachol in the Shechina which necessitates the existence
>: a beriah. Consequently, however one chooses to resolve this dichotomy
>: is ultimately able to be applied to ein melech bilo am also.

> Yeish mei'ayin implies that Hashem wants yeish, not ayin, and therefore
> the ayin was missing something. There was no lack in the Borei because
> there was no time before the beri'ah in which a lacking Deity would
> exist.

Why not? Who says the Borei requires the dimension of time within which
to exist and if we assume what the Ramchal says that it is in the nature
of tov to be maytiv, how are you understanding the fact that the Deity
was not lacking before the beriah?

>                               .... Maharal adds that after the beriah was
>: created, the concept of "am" was necessary in order to maintain this
>: control in the new circumstances as the Shechina, inasmuch as it is one,
>: is only nisaleh (i.e. elevated via our increasingly qualitative perception
>: of the Shaechina as the Master Controller) when we are biachdus.

> That's the Shechinah requiring an am, rather than the Ein Sof. It ascribes
> melukhah to our perception of Him -- whether a kavod nivra or entirely
> a product of perception -- not the Borei be'Atzmo.

My goodness, I agree with you three times in a row. That's a record!
However, once again I wish to emphasize that this is what I was
saying. The fact that we employ the terminology ratzon when discussing
the borey is another way of saying that on an essential level, he is the
ein sof and thus incomprehensible just as a person's ratzon, lihavdil,
cannot be analysed any further back than its inception..

> Which does readily avoid the problem.


Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 01:40:29 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: rabbinic misconduct

On November 1, 2005 Chana Luntz wrote:
>>Oh contraire. Your 87 "k'mashmao's' are all followed by terminology that
>>denotes *Medrash* as opposed to the apparently pashut pshat in the pasuk.In
>>our case, no such terminology is employed. Rashi states "kmashmao
>>v'Rabboseinu amru" which indicates that Rashi is saying that Chazal said
>>(amru), regarding this mashmaus, that it is to be understood in a modified
>>fashion. Run your Bar Ilan search again and I'll bet you'll find only 3
>>places in Rashi where the word "k'mashmao" is followed by the words
>>"v'Rabboseinu amru"

> Actually when I run it, I only get one Rabboseinu amru, the one we are
> discussing.  I do get three cases where k'mashmao is followed by
> "VRabbosainu" but the other two are v'rabosainu perishu. However I am
> aware that the search is not picking up everything.

Actually, you are correct. The other two places are v'rabboseinu pirshuhu
however I consider this formulation just as telling as the former and
perhaps even more so. As I mentioned earlier, these three places are the
only ones that the word k'mashmao is not followed by a variation of the
word "drash" as you yourself pointed out in your original 87 quote search.

> I think however there are some significant and rather fundamental
> problems with the approach you are taking.  In you eagerness to defend
> the bnei Eli, as well as Eli himself in my view you are actually
> undermining a whole host of basic concepts, some of which I will list
> below.

Rebbetzin, with all due respect, the only eagerness I detect here is your
attempt to prevail in our debate. You have imputed ulterior motives to
my conclusions in this post no less than five times as follows:

1) "In you eagerness to defend the bnei Eli, as well as Eli himself in
my view you are actually undermining a whole host of basic concepts,
some of which I will list below."

2) "On the other hand, in your desperation to defend the bene Eli,
you initially proposed a drash that what Rashi means by a word in 84
or more places is not what he means in this one."

3) "So in your eagerness to elevate the matters referred to as Rabbosanu
amru, you end up denigrating the matters referred to using one of the
other formulations, but which in fact come equally from Chazal."

4) "In the once case it means (has to mean, because you refuse to believe
it could mean anything else) rumour, in the other case it means true news"

5) "Because you are determined that Eli cannot but have doubted what
had to be the exaggerated reports, you are forced to interpret the term
hashamuah as meaning a rumour, something that is not known to be true."

6) then in fact what you might end up doing by trying to defend Eli is
undermining one of the basic tenets of our emunah completely off your
own bat.

And while these six quotes, compounded with the general tone of your email
(I am desperate #2, denigrating #3, in denial #4, stubborn #5, and last
but not least, a heretic #6 ...I feel like I need a shrink) are superb
polemical devices, I, contrary to your implications, am animated by my
conviction in the verity of the concept I am espousing and therefore do
not feel compelled to resort to facile formulations to make my point. Not
that I don't enjoy a good debate (and you seem eminently capable in
this regard), but please don't ruin it by resorting to transparent
expedients that border on the disingenuous. Like Joe Friday would say,
"just the facts ma'am, just the facts". Now down to your points.

> 1. Rashi's perush:  One of the most notable things about Rashi's perush
> is the emphasis he places on explaining the use of a word in one place
> by reference to the use of that word, or its root, in another.  On the
> other hand, in your desperation to defend the bene Eli, you initially
> proposed a drash  that what Rashi means by a word in 84 or more places
> is not what he means in this one.  Here it means "like he [Eli] heard",
> everywhere else it means something very similar to k'pashuto . While as
> I said it is a cute drash, it rather cuts across the whole nature of
> Rashi's perush.

Whenever Rashi uses the term kimashmao, he is pre-empting what he
considers a possible misunderstanding in pshat in the pasuk. This is
a hard and fast rule that applies to every instance of Rashi's usage
of this term. In our case, one learning the story might automatically
reject the apparent meaning of the words due to the cognitive dissonance
that can easily be generated by such an episode. Thus, Rashi has to
say that these words are kimashmao. The question now arises, *what* was
kimashmao? Did Rashi mean to say that the action described in the shemua
that Eli heard was kimashmao, or was the shemua itself the object of the
modifying adjective kimashmao? Both scenarios are equally shocking. In
the latter case, a reader would tell himself "gee wiz, did Eli really
hear such radical shemuos about his sons or is the navi amplifying the
rumours much as the Torah employs the process of amplification in the
case of Reuven"? In the former, he would say to himself "is it possible
that these actions were really true or is the navi amplifying etc."

Now, I must admit that if there was no statement from Chazal on this
issue, and all we had was this one word from Rashi, I probably would have
learned pshat in Rashi like you and would not have had the presence of
mind to be aware that there are actually two possible interpretations. But
in view of the fact that Chazal do express their view, quite clearly,
I now have cause to suspect that the pasuk may indeed be referring to
the shemua rather than the maaseh. What seems to support my contention
is that in all of your 87 places, whenever Rashi brings the opinion of
Chazal after stating the word kmashmao, he uses some type of terminology
denoting drash which seems to indicate that he feels certain aspects of
the maamar Chazal he is quoting correspond somewhat to the third of the
four methods that we employ in biblical exegesis. However, in this case,
and the other two I mentioned, he omits this terminology entirely and uses
a much more forceful expression. This salient feature further encourages
me to learn Rashi in the way I've described. Am I wrong? Possibly, but
I don't believe so. I have further support for my approach to this Rashi
but I will consign it to a later part of this post.

> I think you have gone back somewhat on that in the above, because now
> you seem to acknowledge that k'mashmao pretty much means the same thing
> across all cases, just that "v'rabosainu amru" is a modifier which is
> different from u'medrashu.  

Not entirely accurate. First of all, I'm not going back on anything; it's
what I meant all along although it seems I wasn't sufficiently clear.
Second, I believe that the term kimashmao means *precisely* (as opposed
to "pretty much") what it means everywhere else just that in this case,
there are two scenarios that the term could be modifying. The way I
am interpreting it is that Eli *heard* that his sons were *literally*
inappropriate with the women as opposed to the narrator informing us
that Chofni and Pinchas were literally inappropriate. If you look in
the pesukim, there is no hechrech to ascribe the latter interpretation
to the pesukim. In fact, I believe that the lishonos of the mikra are
a hochacha to the former. More on this shortly.

> 2. Dividing the Gemora:  You have sought to draw a distinction between
> "v'rabosainu amru" and the various other formulations that Rashi uses.
> But Rashi in the vast majority of cases is merely quoting the gemora,
> whether he says u'medrashu or one of the other formulations.  So you
> have effectively drawn a distinction within the gemora - something Rashi
> quotes as v'Rabbosanu amru is true, something that Rashi quotes using
> the other formulations is "just a medrash".  But there is usually
> nothing in the gemora to support this low level "just a medrash"
> formulation.  So in your eagerness to elevate the matters referred to as
> Rabbosanu amru, you end up denigrating the matters referred to using one
> of the other formulations, but which in fact come equally from Chazal.

There are several flaws with the above critique. First of all, I never
said "something that Rashi quotes using the other formulations is "just
a medrash". There is nothing "just" about a Medrash. Anyone who learns
knows that there are four distinct derachim employed in understanding the
meaning of pesukim in Tanach: Pshat, Remez, Derush and Sod. What I meant
was that when Rashi quotes a maamar Chazal that contains some elements
of the third methodology, he introduces it with a variation of the term
"DRaSh" (three letter shoresh of Medrash). In three cases out of 87,
Rashi employs no such terminology thus indicating that the maamar Chazal
and Rashi's "kimashmao" happen, in these cases, to be identical on a
Pshat level.

L'havharas haInyan, I would like to append some klalim that pertain to
the proper understanding of Rashi's pirushim. I have presented them as
"Klal" and "My commentary". The Klal category is, I believe, apparent
in Rashi and I don't think anyone on Avodah would disagree with them so
I stated them matter-of-factly. The "My commentary" portion is just that.

Klal 1) Amongst the parshaney hachumash, Rashi can be characterized as one
of the gedoley haPashtanim (see Nefesh Hachaim in the beginning). Rashi's
primary purpose in his pirush on Tanach was to reconcile the pesukim
with the most simple and straightforward interpretation. Thus we read
(Bereishis 3:8) "va'ani lo basi ela lipshuto shel mikra u'liagada
hamiyasheves divrei hamikra davar dibur al offanav".

My commentary
This statement is very telling for several reasons but I would like to
single out one in particular. Rashi states that his matara is pishuto
shel mikra and towards this end he utilizes maamarei Chazal which he
refers to as "agada hamiyasheves etc." IOW, there are some "aggados"
that he considers pishuto shel mikra and some that he does not. This
distinction is important, especially in our case because when Chazal
make a very clear and unambiguous statement, such as the one we are
discussing in Shabbos, it would seem to fit perfectly into this category.

Klal 2) Although Rashi's primary goal was "pishuto shel mikra", he did
not shy away from supporting his commentary from aggados Chazal that were
noteh, at least somewhat, to what he considered pishuto shel mikra. Rav
Chaim Dov Shevel ztz"l explains this apparent dichotomy as follows:
(my translation) "However, it is a fact that Rashi did not shy away
from incorporating in his words the "drash" that leaned towards the
"pshat". And he is fully justified (v'hadin eemo) - for what is drash
if not the spirit of the masoretic text? And thus, it too is [to be
considered] pishuto shel mikra".

My commentary
We have now established that there exist "coalescent" aggados that
combine both elements of pshat and elements of drash.

Klal 3) There are instances where Rashi interprets the pasuk al pi pishuto
and subsequently introduces a medrash aggada that has no connection with
the pishuto shel mikra like he does with para aduma (see all the Rashis
beginning from Perek 19:22 and on). See also Vayikra 26:17 Bamidbar
15:41 and other places.

My commentary
Despite the fact that Rashi was a self professed pashtan, he felt it
necessary, on occasion, to introduce elements of non-halachic or non
"kipshuto" aggados into his pirush. Not because one maamar Chazal is more
"elevated" than another, as you ascribe to my approach above; Rather, it
is because Rashi felt that certain aggados Chazal where more important
than others in the understanding of the pesukim within the context
of his own unique style of commentary whereas other maamarey Chazal,
although equally important, did not fit into the scheme of what Rashi
was attempting to accomplish with his pirush.

Klal 4) Sometimes there is such an abundance of commentary by Chazal
on a pasuk, Rashi finds it difficult to simply omit reference to them
although they fall entirely outside the parameters of his unique style
of commentary. In such a case Rashi will be mifaresh the pasuk kipshuto
and than make mention of the fact that many aggados exist on this pasuk
but will refrain form mentioning them in his pirush. For example, please
see Shmos 13:17.

My commentary
This last rule seems to assist in defining Rashi's goal in his pirush
by illustrating conclusively that Rashi's primary goal was pishuto
shel mikra.

There are many more klalim that have been written regarding Rashi's pirush
but the above four klalim are all that is necessary for elucidation of
my approach to the Rashi in Shmuel. Keeping these klalim in mind, I'd
like to clarify my approach in the form of a logical string expressed
in number format with a sub-format called categories as follows:

1) We've mentioned that if Rashi utilizes the word kimashmao, it is to
address some kind of issue that might cause someone to think that it is
not kmashmao. This is self-evident and requires no explanation.
2) We've mentioned in Klal #1 that Rashi's primary goal is to explain
the pesukim in a straightforward manner and towards this end he
supplies support from aggados hamiyashvin "divrei hamikra davar dibur
al offanav". In the commentary we made note that there are obviously
aggados that are taken literally and can be used by a literalist like
Rashi in support of his pirushim.
3) In Klal #2 we noted that there are instances when Rashi also brings
down a maamar Chazal which has combined elements of drash and pshat.
4) In Klal #3 we mentioned that sometimes Rashi augments his standard mode
of pashtus and introduces what seems to be a primarily drash type maamar.
5) In Klal #4 we illustrated that there are aggados that Rashi would
not even think of ever mentioning in his pirush.
End Categories
6) Now, the question arises. What type of maamar Chazal would the Gemara,
quoted in Rashi on Shmuel, be? Would it fall into category #'s 2, 3,
4 or 5 above?
7) Well, right off the bat, we can eliminate number 5. That leaves us
with # 2, 3 and 4.
8) Due to the straightforward nature of the maamar in Shabbos (Don't
think Chofni and Pinchas really sinned because then you would be in
error) we can basically eliminate #4 too which refers to maamarim that
are primarily drash type aggados that are not directly connected to the
subject of the pasuk. So now we're left with #3 and #2.
9) So which one is it? Rashi begins his pirush with the word kimashmao.
According to Rn Luntz, Rashi means to say that Chofni and Pinchas were
literally inappropriate (euphamism) with the women. So what is Rashi's
intention by bringing down the Gemara. If the Gemara is category #2 or 3,
it is in direct contradiction to what he just finished being mifaresh
so in what way does it lend support to his pshat?
10) The only thing she can respond is that it is #4 and Rashi is directly
arguing on Chazal. This is highly tenuous as Rashi never does this even
when employing #4. When bringing down an alternate aggadic type pshat,
such as in the parsha of para aduma, none of the components of the drash
contradict the pshat per se. They are merely introduced as an entirely
new dimension of meaning. So in what way does bringing down this Gemara
in Shabbos fit into any of the klalim mentioned above which define the
style of Rashi?

The answer is it doesn't and thus the word kmashmao must be refering to
the shemua and the maamar in Shabbos is simply a further clarification
of Rashi's original explanation.

> And of course since v'rabbosanu amru is used all over in Rashi, if you
> are going to maintain consistency in Rashi, you are going to need to say
> it is a modifier in all of those 69 cases...

Two things. First of all, this whole modifier thing is being blown out
of proportion. I never said that all cases of v'rabboseinu amru mean that
the previous statement is being modified, because I didn't do a search to
determine that so I don't know that to be true. I am simply saying that
in our case it is a modifier, although if someone informed me that in all
cases in Rashi it is a modifier, it would certainly not seem implausible
to me. Second of all, your point is fallacious. Just because you found 69
places in Rashi with the words VA doesn't mean that the context would be
sovel a modification whereas in our case it very much is sovel this form.

>>>> In fact, a plain reading of the
>>>> pesukim yields this interpretation. "And Eli was exceedingly old (in his
>>>> nineties) and *heard* what his sons were doing...And he spoke to them
>>>> saying why do you do *like* these things...No my sons, for the *rumour*
>>>> (shemua) I have *heard* is not good...etc."  (Samuel 1 - 2 22:24)

>>> Note that the other use of hashemua in this story is in Shmuel aleph
>>> 4:19: "and when she hear the news (hashemua) that her husband that the
>>> aron was captured and her father in law and husband dead ... "  Is this
>>> too to be explained as a reference to a rumour?

The word shemua does not mean news in lashon hakodesh. It means a report.
The word bisora means news and implies a universal acceptance of the
episode being related. I used the word rumour to emphasize that someone
can hear a shemua and subsequently discover that it did not occur. If
you don't like the word rumour, just substitute report. It means
the same thing. In the case of Pinchas's wife, the report was surely
imparted to her by a reliable source who had no reason to exaggerate
the account. OTOH, Eli was aware of the tendency of people who have
been slighted to amplify the harm that they suffered. Compounded with
the fact that his sons were tzadikim, he understood that the report was
probably not true.

>>>  Is there another case
>>> in Tanach where there is a reference to hashemua to mean rumour?

Well, other than the one you quoted in Shmuel, I can only think of one
other place where it is used. In the beginning of Ovadia - shmua shamanu
mayais Hashem, vtzir bagoyim shulach etc. We (Ovadia and other neveim)
heard a report from Hashem and messengers were sent etc. The Metzudas
(there's no Rashi...too bad) explains that the way to understand this
pasuk is that Ovadia is saying that the neveim heard a report from
Hashem regarding the demise of Edom and it was subsequently verified
by the fact that messengers were sent out from amongst the nations to
amass against Edom. So it would seem, at least from the Metzudas, that
he understands the word shemua as a report that could turn out not to
be true, as opposed to "news".

Now, I know what you're thinking. How can a report from Hashem not
be true? But this is no kasha for two reasons. First of all, the
navi, for whatever reason, chose to portray the message from heaven as
a shemua rather than a nevua. Thus, the flow of the sentence is such
that the possibility of it not occurring is imputed to Hashem, although
impossible, because the navi is employing a poetic license. As if to
say, "we heard this from you Hashem but we haven't seen it...when is it
coming...ahh... it finally came...vtzir bagoyim shulach" etc.

The second answer is that even if you were to say that this shemua was a
full blown nevua, it is possible that it would not materialize much as the
nevua of "od arbaim yom vninvey nehepaches" didn't physically materialize.

> 3. Consistency of terminology in Tanach: ... the fact that
> the same word or root is used operates as a form of linkage.  To me, it
> is no coincidence that the only two uses of hashemua is in these two
> cases - ie there is a classic mida k'neged mida linkage.  To you it is
> happenstance.  In the once case it means (has to mean, because you
> refuse to believe it could mean anything else) rumour, in the other case
> it means true news.

And as I already mentioned to you before, in both cases it means rumour,
or more accurately "report". In one case it was a true report and in the
other it wasn't. Your mida kineged mida thing is meaningless. As long as
we are not violating the rules of grammar i.e. as long as the meaning of
the word is identical in both places, you do not have the authority to
make a hekesh or gizeira shaveh and say that because shmua here means a
report that occurred, it must mean the same in another context too. Even
Rishonim don't do that. The methodology of hekesh died out after the
chasimas hashas.

> 4. Importation of concepts into an important Tanachi term where it is
> not clear they exist.  Because you are determined that Eli cannot but
> have doubted what had to be the exaggerated reports, you are forced to
> interpret the term hashamuah as meaning a rumour, something that is not
> known to be true.  But, as I mentioned, the root here is shema.  Now
> shema is a very important root word for us.  When we say "shema yisroel"
> and are kabel ohel malchus shamayim, I don't think any of us mean "there
> is an unsubstantiated rumour oh Yisroel that the Lord thy G-d, the Lord
> is one".

Very funny. But I have a funnier one. I don't think any of us mean to say
"extra extra read all about it. Did you here the news? The L-rd is one!"

The word shma here does not mean "hear" at all. The root ShMA has more
than one meaning. In the case of Shma Yisroel, the word shma means to
internalize, not to hear. An example of this is what we say every day
"v'sein bileebaynu l'havin u'lihaskil, lishmoa..." Now, if lishmoa meant
to hear, it should come before lhavin ulihaskil. The answer is that
to be shomea is a process that occurs after the levels of havana and
haskala and thus has nothing to do with physical hearing. The siddurim
that translate shma yisroel as Hear O Israel without explaining the
translation are misleading.

Parenthetically, there *is* a connection between hearing and internalizing
in the sense that internalizing means to "hear" with the "ears" of
your mind.

> That is why I queried whether there were other references in
> Tanach where shemua or shema is used to mean an unsubstantiated hearing..
> If in fact there
> are no definitive cases in which the root word shema is linked to
> statements or reports current without known authority for truth - then
> in fact what you might end up doing by trying to defend Eli is
> undermining one of the basic tenets of our emunah completely off your
> own bat.  That is a pretty "brave" position to be in, and I think I
> would want some serious back up...

I believe I've addressed all your issues above in my post. I must say
that this dialogue took a hard turn to the left. I never meant to discuss
linguistics or stylistics. I simply wanted to make a point that one must
be aware of the difference in stature between the ancients and us and not
make the error of projecting our base level of impropriety onto them.
Unfortunately, I think my message got lost somewhere in the plethoric
verbosity of our communication.

[Email #2. -mi]

On November 1, 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
>: You obviously were never exposed to Slobodka mussar or you wouldn't be
>: talking like this....

> I don't really associate your point with Slabodka. Yes, Slabodka tends
> to present biblical figures as arechetypes, near perfection. But also,
> the Alter taught his talmidim to strive to be like them. Not just "a
> little along the lines", but to treat Avraham's chessed or Yitzchaq's
> gevurah as reachable goals. Stressing their differentness is not
> condusive to that.

Why not? On the contrary, stressing the dizzying heights of the avos
gives us something to strive for. If they are the same as us, than we
have no goals, nothing to achieve.

> And, as pointed out, Rashi didn't take "eino ela to'eh" that way, so
> there's no way you can insist RnCL understand the Na"kh as you present
> it.

I believe I did a good job of proving otherwise but to each his own.

Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 18:52:01 -0500
From: "Russell Levy" <russell@rentmagic.ca>
Re: rabbinic misconduct

> 4. Importation of concepts into an important Tanachi term where it is
> not clear they exist. Because you are determined that Eli cannot but
> have doubted what had to be the exaggerated reports, you are forced to
> interpret the term hashamuah as meaning a rumour, something that is not
> known to be true. But, as I mentioned, the root here is shema.

Shmuel II 13:30, melachim 1 10:7, twp pesukim I encountered in the pasr
couple days...

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