Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 025

Thursday, November 10 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 20:58:40 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: The Power of Speech

On Fri, Nov 04, 2005 at 02:32:33AM -0500, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
:> The point isn't that speech is a real thing, the point is that every real
:> thing is in truth just speech! "Vayomer E-lokim...."

: I'll take the bait: if you say that about "Vayomer," what do you say
: about every non-speech-related transitive verb in the Torah whose
: subject is Divine? ...

My point isn't all that novel. "Be'eser ma'amaros nivra ha'olam" --
the world is made of speech. Hashem may do things to those objects,
but those objects consist of His speech. Reality is His words. All I
added was the following mussar vort: And so is it any question that our
words are realities?


Micha Berger             A person lives with himself for seventy years,
micha@aishdas.org        and after it is all over, he still does not
http://www.aishdas.org   know himself.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 03:25:07 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Eliyahu was not a Cohen?

R' Eli Turkel asked <<< It is clear that some take literally that
Eliyahu was a Cohen. ... For example if Eliyahu could touch the dead
child because of pikuach nefesh it raises the question of how he knew
it would help and if he can rely on nevuah to be metamei le-met. >>>

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:174, Anaf 1, second
paragraph from the end) is among those who take it literally
that Eliyahu was a kohen, and he answers the other questions as
well. See his words there, or my analysis of it in Avodah 4:130

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 00:35:17 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Ushpizin

In  Avodah V16 #24 dated 11/8/2005 [Joel Rich:]
> AIUI he bought an etrog for over 20% of  his assets - isn't this in
> violation of takanat usha?
> When calculating  the 20% is it of gross or net assets?

I thought of the question you ask while I was watching the movie: isn't
he spending too much on the esrog? But in a scene right after that,
he explains to his wife that he had a special reason for buying the
best possible esrog, a reason I won't divulge so as not to spoil the
movie for people still planning to see it. (If you definitely don't
plan to see it and want to know, write to me off list). Since the
esrog will serve more than one purpose, it may be that the high price
is halachically justifiable.

Maybe in six months when everyone who wants to see it has had a fair
chance to do so, we can discuss other issues that arise in this movie.

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 00:38:40 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Eliyahu was not a Cohen?

Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com> wrote:
> For example if Eliyahu could touch the dead child because of pikuach
> nefesh it raises the question of how he knew it would help and if he
> can rely on nevuah to be metamei le-met.

What's the problem?  He relied on nevuah to bring a korban on a bamah.

Zev Sero

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 09:11:44 +0000
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Ushpizin

Ren Joel Rich wrote:
> Anyone see the movie?
> AIUI he bought an etrog for over 20% of his assets - isn't this in
> violation of takanat usha?
> When calculating the 20% is it of gross or net assets?

AFAIK, Assets are not gross, always net. You probably mean income and want
to know whether to consider taxes, amortorization, etc. as deductible
from income. That question is, I believe, mentioned in the poskim when
discussing how to establish ma'aser kesafim.

Arie Folger

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 05:52:13 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>

On Sat, Nov 05, 2005 at 10:13:11PM +0200, Eli Turkel wrote:
: Obviously the Rambam himself spent much time leraning Grrek and
: Arab philosophy.

I would say that's TuM, not TIDE.

On Sun, Nov 06, 2005 at 07:18:29PM +0200, Eli Turkel wrote:
: Im confused. Do you expect RSRH to write that I really believe in what
: I am writing and it is not a horaat shaah? ...

More than that, it's blatant in his words. He doesn't simply say "live
the TIDE lifestyle".

One doesn't wax poetic over the beauty of a lifestyle one considers only
a hora'as sha'ah. One doesn't deride the *alternative* as a necessity
foisted upon us by circumstance.

RSC is correct that for many, invoking TuM or TIDE became an excuse for
being O-lite. However, that doesn't justify misrepresenting RSRH's


Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 22:13:40 +0200
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <dbnet@zahav.net.il>

In Areivim after a discussion of adding a K in non-erasible names of 
God to avoid pronouncing or even writing them, I noted in my comment:

<< Further, ROY has stated that Kel is not a name of God. One who
make up names for God that make no sense and are not one of His names,
(such as Adoshem, Kaw, Elokim, etc.) is m'charef um'gadef. Years ago
when ROY replied to sh'elot on a radio program he would say, for example,
"Um'var'khim Barukh ata Hashem EloHeinu melekh.... Hashem is a reference
to God's name. EloKenu is not God's name but a meaningless made up word.

BTW, only a crow would sing "Caw ree-bone".

On this, R'EMT asked << if saying the shem shamayim is permitted in such
a case, why the euphemism "Hashem"?>>

Areivim Modulator requested that my reply be sent to Avodah. So, here

To avoid pronouncing YKVK, the shem Adanut was introduced to replace
it. As I wrote in my previous post, Hashem is not a name. It is a noun
describing an attribute of God. He is Adonai, our Master. As this
descriptive noun appears in Tanakh and is considered in itself as holy
and as a name, it was replaced in turn by Hashem. Hashem means "the
name" and refers to The Name, YKVK, not to the descriptive noun we use
to replace YKVK in prayer.

ROY evidently approves avoiding holy names by words that have meaning,such
as Hashem. He does not approve of inventing new meaningless words as
names for YKVK.

I should have added to my original posting that, despite what I wrote on
the subject, I, an Ashkenazi, use words like EloKenu or Kel because that
is what I was taught as a child, continue the tradition and so taught
my children. Similar to the Sefaradim, I do not use the K in zemirot,
even if repeated because the words in zemirot have serious intent. I do
not use the K intentionally when I quote a complete pasuk from Tanakh
although it sometimes slips in by accident. I hope nobody on this list
uses it in mi khamokha ba-eilim, elohim lo techalel, bnei ha-elohim etc.,
or the second eloah in ha'azinu - although I have heard them quite often.

ShalKom to all,

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Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 11:24:09 -0500
From: mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: Kabbalah today

S & R Coffer wrote:
>On November 6, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>>If you accept Rav Tzadok's assertion that Yashka [ and Shabtzai Tzvi]
>>reached very high spiritual levels before being destroyed by their belief
>>that they were divine - it is reasonable that Yashka was aware of the
>>kabbalistic ideas in the period of Chazal.

>Where does R' Tzadok say this?

Machshavos Charutz #1

There is an interesting story in Shibhei Habesht of the Baal Shem
Tov having a vison of Shabesai Tsvi, and in some versions, Yoshka in
inferno. He reached out to the Besht and attempted to pull him to sit
on the same bench but the Besht avodied it. The English translation
translated and edited by Dan Ben-Amos and Jerome R. Mintz, out by Jason
Aronson has a discussion of this in the introduction. Re: Shabesai Tsvi
see the recent biography of R. Y. Sassaportas, Moshian shel Isroel, about
Shabesai Tsvi's high level and him being entrapped by the forces of evil.

M. Levin

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 13:27:48 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Kabbalah today

> 3) Gra's statement YD 246 criticizing the understanding of Pardes of the
> Rambam & Rema - is a forgery. Similarly his attack on the Rambam in YD
> 179 is also a forgery. (Rav Shurkin)

I saw an academic article from about 50 years ago that ably proves
that this rumor was fabricated by maskilim, but I've long forgotten
where the article is (other than somewhere in my files). Maybe a
librarian can help you find it.

> 9) Rejection of the validity of Kabbalah is rejection of the validity
> of the Oral Torah - and thus constitutes heresy (Shomer Emunim)

I've heard this in the names of RSZA, perhaps on this list.

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: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 15:12:06 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Kabbalah today

On Sun, Nov 06, 2005 at 12:24:25PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
: 1) R' S. R. Hirsch did not accept the validity of post geonic Kabbalah
: (Jewish Action Fall 1996 R' Danziger) - and that he viewed Kabbalah as
: a type of aggada.

Comparing content, that's hard to believe. The Maharal's take on
the 3 amudei olam, the Gra's naran as in Peirush al Kama Agados and
RSRH's red-green-blue or six-seven-eight are the same thing described
behaviorally, spiritually and symbolicly. Similarly RSRH's 7 as being
the holiness within and the Maharal's (Gevuros H' ch 46(?)) 7. Other
points of parallel abound. It points to a common source.

If RSRH was of the qabbalah as metaphor school, his semniotic system
would flow naturally from that.

: 5) R' Yisroel Salanter asserted that he was not familiar with Kabbalah
: and thus it is not relevant for the Mussar Movement

I agree withthe latest reply (that I know of) from Prof. Etkes in
his debate with RHGoldberg. Any qabbalah that RYS knew is of little
significance, since none of it figures in the derekh he established.

That said, I agree with RHG's assertion that he did know qabbalah.
If nothing else, how would RYS get a following in a Litta where it
was expected knowledge in any gadol?

: 8) Christianity is based on a distorted understanding of genuine
: kabbalistic ideas ...

The purported author (name deleted) regrets saying that.

However, I could make an argument that Notzrus is based upon taking the
qabbalah's role for Yisrael and giving it to Yeishu. Making his job the
redemption of the world, making him the alleged one with "the word" and
their god" in contrast to the Zohar's "Yisrael, veOraisa veQBH chad",
making him instead of us the suffering servant, etc....


Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 13:23:05 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: only one opinion

> Can you name me any Rishonim who eschew maamarey Chazal whenever
> they are contrary to the simple pshat? Examples please. Perhaps if you
> illustrate your point we can flush out the issue.

See this post on my blog where I quote from Ramban (Bereishis 47:18),
Gra (Aderes Eliyahu, Shemos 21:6) and R. Chaim Friedlander (Sifsei
Chaim, Umunah u-Vechirah vol. 2 pp. 257-272).


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: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 15:34:35 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and communal sheleimus

On Fri, Nov 04, 2005 at 12:45:38PM -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
: What is Torah if not Halacha? Following Halacha almost by defintion
: means doing so L'Shma and not by rote or for social reasons...

But only "almost". Halakhah doesn't require kavanah (for the overwhelming
majority of mitzvos), never mind lishmah!

Following the das vadin of halakhah is an insufficient definition of
following the Torah. Or, if you insist on defining Torah in halachic
terms, Brisker-style, I would say that following halakhah means taking
posession of the tool, which does not necessitate using it for it's
job. As I wrote in an earlier post, what I saw as two possibilities
really only differ in terminology.

In Even Sheleimah, the Gra explains the comparison of Torah to water in
terms of plants. Water helps plants grow. Whether that means you grow more
beautiful flowers or even nastier weeds depends on what you use it for.

Along with the das, one needs passion, aish. Thus "AishDas".

Chassidus places that passion in the search for deveiqus. Mussar from
a search for sheleimus. The rest of Litta also sought sheleimus, but
believed that Talmud torah is sufficient to stoke the fire.

Brisk in particular relied on a cultural relaying of the passion of
Judaism, and never directly addressed the question. Thus, RYBS's lament of
the loss of the "erev Shabbos Jew", someone who would feel that Shabbos
is coming, not just keep hilkhos Shabbos (no matter how meticulously).
Brisk succeeded in capturing much of the mindset, but with the culture
getting ruptured by son'ei Yisrael y"sh, it is failing in relaying
that passion. People who want it end up experimenting with things like
Carlebach minyanim because it's not in current mainstream O modalities.

According to the Alter of Novorodok, RYS's mission was to take the loss
of cultural transmission of values and passion caused by the hakalah
and give people the tools to learn them manually. Post WWII the need is
doubly critical and we see the effects of its not being met.

BTW, the bifurcation between aish and das isn't clean. Mitzvos that
lack precise analyzable limits, which includes vehalakhta bidrakhav,
qedoshim tihyu, and many (most?) mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro (which
can't be quantified without knowing the individuals involved), require
inculcating values and priorities, not just laws.

:                                          Are those who would be
: raised in a grossly abormal environment truly be responsible for their
: actions... even with Bechira Chafshis? Say a Jew was raised by Billam and
: knew what the Torah said, would he be responsible for becoming another
: Billam, like his father?

That's the whole idea of tinoq shenishba, no?


Micha Berger             One doesn't learn mussar to be a tzaddik,
micha@aishdas.org        but to become a tzaddik.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 15:45:25 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkare Hashkafa

On Fri, Nov 04, 2005 at 04:36:50PM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
:> The Rambam is addressing the question of who is "Yisrael" WRT "kol
:> Yisrael yeish lahem cheileq". The Ikkarim isn't....

: I don't believe you are correct on either count. The Rambam states that
: this Mishana is the most appropriate place to mention the 13 Ikkarim
: however this doesn't mean that the primary significance of the Ikkarim is
: to act as a definition of eligibility for olam habba....

I don't know what you mean by this since you write later in the
same post:
: The reason the Rambam chooses this Mishna to state his thirteen ikkarim
: is because the salient feature of an Ikkar is that its denial (or its
: ignorance) leads to a loss of olam habba....

:>                               The Ikkarim isn't. He instead is seeking
:> the minimal list of primary principles that from which you can reason
:> your way to a complete emunah. They both use the same word "ikkarim",
:> but to mean different things: necessary belief vs postulate.

:                                                       And your definition
: of the Ikkrim's term of Ikkar is, IMO, definitely incorrect.

This may be your opinion, but it's made without providing source. It's
clear from the structure of Seifer haIkkarim that R Yoseif Albo used
ikkarim primarily from which to derive the rest of the faith. This isn't
simply one citation, it's the organizational structure of the entire work.

: Betey denim l'giyur go lichumra because there's no reason to go likula
: when it comes to giyur. This doesn't mean that we pasken like the Rambam
: in all contingencies...

I would agree with that last sentence, but only because of the word
"all". There are times to be meiqil. But black-letter halakhah is
according to the Rambam. Other cases where we hold like the Rambam where
the issue isn't as permanent as yuchsin... It's enshrined in the siddur.
The current debate over the kashrus of messianist L wine or shechitah is
always phrased in terms of comparing messianism with the Rambam's ikkarim
(in some broad form, not necessarily as the Rambam meant them).


Micha Berger             The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
micha@aishdas.org        but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
http://www.aishdas.org   but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpilei Tohar

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 22:52:58 -0400
From: <myb@yeshivanet.com>
RE: Walking 4 amos in Eretz Yisrael

R' Elazar Reich Writes:
> I remember reading (many many years ago - possibly in Tnuas Hamussar by
> R' Dov Katz)) that Rav Yitzchok Blazer (Peterburger), after emigrating
> to Jerusalem in his old age used to walk a new four amos each day round
> the City for the above reason. It might be added that he lived in the
> Strauss Courtyard in Musrara, from which most directions are either
> uphill or down

In a related note, R' Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld lived in Batei Machseh,
and frequently visited Meah She'arim. On the way to MS he would exit
the old city through Sha'ar Sh'chem and on the way back he would enter
through Shaar Yaffo (or vice versa), saying that with taking this route
he is mekayim the pasuk sobi tziyon v'hakifuho...

Kol Tuv,
 - Avigdor Feldstein

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Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 17:32:50 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
The Ikkarim

I thought it would be interesting to line up the Rambam's ikkarim with those
of the seifer ha'ikkarim. R' Yosef Albo has three ikkarim (postulates) from
which he derives 8 shorashim. Shorashim are just as mandatory beliefs as
ikkarim. He also derives many anafim, beliefs that are not defining features
of Judaism.

In fact, R' Albo points out that all revealed religions share the three
ikkarim. It's the shorashim that distinguish Yahadus from them.

Ikkar 1- Hashem exists (Rambam ikkar 1)
    Shoresh 1.1- Divine Unity (Ramam ikkar 2)
    Shoresh 1.2- That He has no body (Ramam ikkar 3)
    Shoresh 1.3- That He is lema'alah min hazeman (Rambam ikkar 4)
    Shoresh 1.4- That He is perfect (Rambam ikkar 2,5, see below)

Ikkar 2- Revelation
    Shoresh 2.1- Accepting the nevi'im (Rambam ikkar 6)
    Shoresh 2.2- Moshe Rabbeinu's uniqueness (Rambam ikkar 7)
    Shoresh 2.3- The binding nature of the Torah (Rambam ikkar 8,9)

Ikkar 3- Divine Justice (Rambam ikkar 10,11)
    Shoresh 3.1- Techiyas haMeisim (Rambam ikkar 13)

So their entire machloqes, once stripped of terminology differences,
are on two points:

1- According to the Ikkarim, belief in mashiach (the Rambam's 12th ikkar)
is an anaf, part of the eitz chaim, but not necessary for its survival.
So, the Rambam declares a person who doesn't believe in mashiach a kofeir
and has no cheileq le'olam haba (Teshuvah 3:6), the Ikkarim does not.

2- R' Albo's fourth shoresh from his first ikkar is that Hashem is
uniquely perfect. The ikkarim does include the worthiness of Hashem as
a focus of worship as part of His uniqueness. I can not tell is this
is part of the shoresh, or an anaf of it. (Which would be assur, but as
avodah zarash, not alst kefirah.)

Hashem's uniqueness is part of the Rambam's second ikkar about His Unity
-- He is both indivisible and unlike everything else. The Rambam's fifth
ikkar is that no one but Hashem is worthy of prayer, specifically making
it about not having no other point of worship. So unlike my inability
to determine if the Ikkarim makes this a central belief, the Rambam is
clear on this point.


Micha Berger             One doesn't learn mussar to be a tzaddik,
micha@aishdas.org        but to become a tzaddik.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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