Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 040

Sunday, November 27 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 19:12:58 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Noda B'Yehuda on bittul by non-Jews

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Please see <http://www.ka.org.au/ahalachicdiscussion.htm> and
(claiming that we pasken like the Noda B'Yehuda and therefore there is
no reason for kashrus agencies to insist that there not be bittul by
non-Jewish companies).

Any comments on the latter?

Shavua tov.

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Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 11:43:08 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>

On November 21, 2005, RYGB wrote:
> The Maskilim in Eastern Europe held up the Gra as their role model and
> initially perceived Maran Reb Yisroel Salanter as one of them.

The Gra was so patently anti-maskil that he had one of them strung up
and beaten in Vilna for contradicting Rashi's pshat in Shir haShirim
about one of the lishonos shel simcha.

As far as R' Yisrael Salanter goes, it didn't take very long for them
to learn how opposed he was to them. There are famous stories of R'
Yisrael's disputes with them.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 22:55:48 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Rishonim and Chazal

In  Avodah V16 #39 dated 11/26/2005 RJO writes:
>>And because the later sages realized  this fact (may they rest in
peace), that all of their  predecessors' words were clear and pure,
with nothing  superfluous stated, they commanded and exhorted us
that no  man may ridicule them: "Anyone who ridicules the words of
the  Sages is sentenced to boiling excrement [in the Hereafter]"
(Gittin, 57 A). <<

What I want to know is, are we to understand "boiling excrement"
literally or figuratively? Maybe it means that Gehenom is very, very
unpleasant. Or is there actual excrement there?

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 23:11:30 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Thanksgiving

In Avodah V16 #39 dated 11/26/2005  RSC writes:
>>A certain gadol writes in his tshuvos that celebrating  Thanksgiving
is mutar. ....This gadol knows as much about Thanksgiving as I know
about Chinese holidays....celebrating thanksgiving is abuzrayhu d'avodah
zara.<< [--someone quoting R' Avigdor Miller]

I do not believe that a godol would base a psak on ignorance. This seems
to be R' Avigdor Miller's way of disagreeing with the gadol without saying
he didn't know halacha -- better to say he didn't know Thanksgiving.

My father did celebrate Thanksgiving to some extent -- we did not make a
big deal of it but we always had pumpkin pie (no one in my family liked
turkey, besides which Thursday was usually a milchig supper). After he
moved to Eretz Yisrael he did not celebrate Thanksgiving. He knew what
it was. He considered it an American holiday, not a Christian holiday.
And a good thing, not a bad thing, that Americans thanked G-d. The real
abomination is today's pagan Americans, who have removed all mention
of G-d from their celebrations -- and have school textbooks falsely
teaching that it's the day the pilgrims thanked the Indians!

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 00:06:43 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
RE: Rabbi Broyde on Thanksgiving

[R Simcha Coffer wrote:] 
> Rav Avigdor Miller, when queried by a questioner during the question and 
> answer period about eating turkey on Thanksgiving, replied as follows: 
> ... 
> A certain gadol ... asks 
> his grandson ..."so the gadol 
> writes in his tshuvos "Thanksgiving....no problem!" ......I 
> don't go to gedolim to find out about secular holidays, I go to 
> goyim. ... 

Fri, 25 Nov 2005 "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com> posted:
> I am not mekabel this quote which would have one believe that R'AM
> felt that "A certain gadol" would write a tshuva on this basis. I
> don't know where the error lies but I prefer to think it's in my lack
> of understanding.

I can verify the quote. I heard it, too. Perhaps the issue is precisely
as stated after the final elipsis (that's the three dots): "I consulted
three different encyclopaedias, and three perfectly kosher goyim state
that Thanksgiving is a church holiday."

Does one determine the halachic status of a celebration by encyclopedias
(for our purposes, let's call this "historical fact") or by how the
hamonei am consider it, when the two views are in conflict?

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 01:27:57 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
RE: Rabbi Broyde on Thanksgiving

R' Joel Rich:
> I am not mkabel this quote which would have one believe that R'AM felt
> that "A certain gadol" would write a tshuva on this basis. I don't
> know where the error lies but I prefer to think it's in my lack of
> understanding.

I heard a similar story about R' MF. Someone called up, and asked him
what beracha one should make on a pretzel. He asked his wife what a
pretzel was, and she answered, "Ah min mezonos." He told the caller that
the beracha is mezonos.


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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 14:57:06 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
RE: Greeting Women

From: "S & R Coffer" <>
> The Gemara in hasocher ess hapoalim (BM 87) says that al yidei shliach
> it is mutar to be shoel b'shlom eesha. The Rishonim point out the apparent
> contradiction to the Gemara in asara yuchsin and make a distinction
> between greeting and inquiry. Thus, a simple good morning is permissible.

So writes clearly the Aruch Hashulchan.


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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 18:29:08 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>

From: "brent kaufman" <>
> WADR, If you would read enough passages of RSRH, you would realize
> that with all the great svoros in the world you may try to offer, RSRH
> stated explicitly, way too many times, with way too much passion, that
> the whole tachlis of human existence is living TIDE,

That's interesting.
I recently picked up a copy of the Hebrew translation of the 19 Letters
and read the foreward and IIRC it states that whilst RSRH is famous for
his TIDE hashkofo - it is hardly ever mentioned in his seforim..


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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 10:29:12 +0000
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: "Es" lerabos

R Micha Berger wrote:
> REMT, RMP, and others on Mesorah count the derashos based on "es" amongst
> those built by "accounting for words" (or conjugations or spelling).

Is their position closer to what I suggested (accounting for words,
rather than looking for superfluous words, i.e., the drashah explains
as many words as possible without the need for superfluousness)?

> I, OTOH, assumed they were derashos, implementation of R' Aqiva's middos
> of ribui umi'ut. And just as kelal uperat or gezeirah shavah do not
> require that the words have are not accounted for al derekh hapeshat,
> neither does "es".

How is this different from the above?
> ("es/eis"), or conjugation. In Latin, where "Brutus" is the subject,
> "Brute'" is the accusative case used for direct objects. Thus, Julius
> Caesar is alleged to have said, "Et tu Brute'?" not "... Brutus." In
> addition is has a dative case used for indirect objects. Hebrew has
You have an impressive grasp of grammar, did you study Latin? I only grew
to understand and appreciate these things recently (ok, two-three years
ago) when I learned German, where the differences between numinative,
acusative, dative and genitive are significant. Only then did I truly
begin appreciating the word "es". (sure, I knew about direct object, etc.,
but since none of the other languages I speak had anything but vestiges
of the different conjugations, this wasn't meaningful enough for me)

> RMP pointed to the trop, which would disambiguate. I
> countered that the text determines trop, it's not the role of trop to
> define the choice of text.

I agree with you.

> And since I believe "es" (or "eis") is usually a necessary word, part
> of saying things gramatically, I could not see how the derashos could
> be of the "extra is merabeh, omission is mema'eit" sort.

... which is why I ask how your position is different from that of all
the others, including mine.

Gut vokh,
Arie Folger

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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 11:17:40 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: "Es" lerabos

On Sun, Nov 27, 2005 at 10:29:12AM +0000, Arie Folger wrote:
: You have an impressive grasp of grammar, did you study Latin?...

No, large exposure to RSMandel when I was a teen. I only remembered the
basic idea; I used google to look up the proper terms and details.

:> And since I believe "es" (or "eis") is usually a necessary word, part
:> of saying things gramatically, I could not see how the derashos could
:> be of the "extra is merabeh, omission is mema'eit" sort.

: ... which is why I ask how your position is different from that of all
: the others, including mine.

If we found a pasuq that demonstratively needed the "es" for simple peshat
(say the pasuq was of the structure verb-noun-noun), so that the word
would be fully accounted for without a derashah. Would Shim'on haEmsoni
have a derashah for it, or not?

I would say that he would, since it does not depend on needing to find a
reason for H' using the "es". RMP and REMT (and you to, if I understand
your "accounting" position) would have no basis for him to do so.


Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
micha@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham

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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 18:47:38 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Rishonim and Chazal (was One Opinion)

Jonathan Ostroff wrote:
>In addition to the above quotes (from RMB and RDE), RGS writes that the
>GR'A and others "disputed the interpretation of the Sages" (Avodah Nov 9,
>see link to his blog). I believe they are not correct on this issue (on
>the assumption that they intend #1 below), and in this post I will focus
>on the Rashbam and the GR"A, but I believe this can be suitably extended
>to the other sources quoted by RDE as well (but I leave that for a later
>post perhaps, time permitting). Two positions are possible. They are:

>[1] The (in my view mistaken) notion that most Rishonim, when giving a
>Peshat different from Chazal, do so because they believe that Chazal made
>and error, and these Rishonim are therefore (c"v) disputing Chazal, or

>[2] The Rishonim believe that Peshat is a legitimate derech fully
>authorized by Chazal, even where the Peshat is not only different from
>the Derush, but even asserts what appears to be the opposite. In this
>case, the Rishon merely reveals one of the Shivim Panim of Torah given
>to Moshe Rabbenu at Har Sinai.

View #2 above represents a new type of rational for the reality that
Rishonim sometimes rejected the views of Chazal. From my research this
distinction was first mentioned by the Maharal in various places in the
Gur Aryeh regarding Rashi - when he deviated from the views of Chazal.
He does not use it to justify the Ramban's deviation - but simply
strongly criticizes the Ramban for deviating from Chazal.. It is also
mentioned in the Sifsei Chaim in his major article on this subject where
he also asserts that the Gra had a similar understanding of pshat versus
drash. It is also asserted in introduction to the Machon Megilas Sefer of
the Ramban on chumash. However as I pointed out previously Rav Dessler
does not use this rationalization but rather simply says the deviant
views of rishonim were the result of writing for an audience of confused
people who would not accept the position of chazal - so these less then
true views were substituted. The Yaavetz also did not use this rationale
but simple indicates the rishonim were wrong. One would think in the
700 year period that the various commentaries of the rishonim have been
known that there would be copious examples of this explanation - but I
couldn't find them. The Maharal seems to be the major transition figure
from the medieval to the modern age and thus is concerned with modern
issues. See his explanation of the term "umdena" found in the writings of
the gaonim regarding aggada. Contrast it with that of the Menoras HaMeor.

One of the interesting examples of the independence of rishonim -
especially the Ramban - is found in the issue of the length of the
Egyptian Exile. He rejects the view of Chazal - which is found in
Seder Olam. This is not a generic chazal but represents the views of
Rav Yossi which chazal tells us were particularly accurate. I find it
hard to understand the idea of pshat versus drash in determining actual
historical reality - though the Sifsei Chaim seems comfortable with it.
What follows is a citation from the controversial work of the Meor Ainayim
- Imrei Binah Chapter 35. This is the sefer that the Maharal banned
[See the Sdei Chemed's section on seforim] for using non-Jewish sources
to judge the historical statements of Chazal and also for his attitude
towards aggadah. It is interesting to note that the Meor Ainayim uses
the Ramban and others rishonim to justify his independence regarding the
nature of chronology. The excellent translation is that of Dr. Weinberg
[Yale Press 2001]. [The Tzemach Dovid (student of the Maharal) also
acknowledges that the disagreement between the rishonim and Seder
Olam.]. From the evidence I have seen - at best you can assert that even
though the rishonim did in fact disagree at times with Chazal, but since
the revelation of Kabbala which provides us with a deeper appreciation
of Chazal - it is no longer allowed to do so. This is what Rav Tzadok
(Sefer Zichronos) does with the fact that the rishonim did not hold by
the kabbalistic understanding of yichud HaShem and hashgocha protis. He
does not assert that the rishonim held that HP applies to everything
but that if we hold by the views of the rishonim it **now** constitutes
heresy. This approach has also been used to justify the ban on R'
Slifkin's writings - despite that he cites rishonim to justify his views.

"As regards the length of the Egyptian exile, Scripture states, /The
length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt was four hundred and
thirty years /(Ex. 12:40). In the Seder Olam,5 the Mekhilta,6 Shemot
Rabbah,7 Tanhuma,8 and above all in the Targum of[ps.] Jonathan ben
Uzziel^9 regarding the verses, /The length of time. /(Ex. 12:40) and /At
the end of the four hundred and thirtieth year ./.. /all the ranks of
the Lord departed from the land of Egypt /(Ex. 12:41), our rabbis state
that the Egyptian exile began in the seventieth year of Abraham, from
which time thirty years elapsed until the birth of Isaac, and from then,
400 years until the exodus from Egypt. According to rabbinic calculation,
the exodus occurred in the year 2448 anno mundi as is shown in the Seder
Olam cited above and in the Pesiqta which is cited by the author of the
Yalqut on the verse, /the wonders You have devised for us /(Ps. 40:6).10
And yet, there were many of our well-reputed sages of later times who
disregarded their arguments and challenged them on this count, although
they, too, were not of one opinion. Indeed, the Gaon Rabbenu Hananel of
blessed memory whose view is cited by Rabbenu Ba.hya in his commentary
on the verse, /The length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt
was four hundred and thirty years /(Ex. 12:40) wrote: "The 430 years are
calculated from the birth ofIsaac."" Accordingly, the exodus from Egypt
should be postdated and 30 years added to the figure 2448 proposed by our
rabbis. The same opinion is expressed by the wise Don Isaac [Abravanel]
in his com­mentary on the Torah^l2 and in his work entitled /Zeva.h Pesafh
/with regard to the paragraph, "Blessed be He who keeps His promise to
Israel."l3 He said that the 400 years intimated to Abraham by the Holy
One blessed be He were reckoned from the

4. 'Histories,' lit. the other events, an expression taken from a
phrase used frequently in the books of Kings, e.g., /The other events
of Solomon's reign /(IK. II:41).

5. Seder Olam, ch. I (4-6).

6. Mekhilta d'Rabbi Ishmael, bo 14 (I, II I).

7. S.R.18:II.

8. Tanhuma, bo 9.

9. On Ex. 12:40, ps. Jonathan amplifies the verse by stating that it
was 430 years from the "covenant between the pieces" until the exodus
and he renders V.41 "And it was at the end of 30 years from the making
of the covenant that Isaac was born."

10. Yalqut Shimoni to ps. 40:6, par. 738.

11. Ba.hya ben Asher to Ex. 12:40 (97). He gives three calculations
for the period: 400 years which marks the beginning of the wandering of
Abraham's descendants; 430 years that are counted from Isaac's birth;
210 years for the period in Egypt.

12. Abravanel to Gen. 15 (204, co!. b); to Ex. 12:40 (89,
co!. b).

13. /Zeva.h Pesafh /(Haggadah). The ed. pro was printed in
Constantinople 1505.


birth of Isaac, but that 30 more years were added to this figure because
of Israel's sins; similarly, the wandering in the desert was prolonged
by 40 years because of the sin of the spies. In the same vein Ramban
[Nahmanides] writes that the bondage in Egypt was prolonged by thirty
years because of Israel's sin. Don Isaac may have derived his opinion
from Ramban.^14 But as is evident from his two explanations of the
verse, /The //length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt was
four hundred and thirty years /(Ex. 12:40), Ramban reckons the 400 years
from the time of the "convenant between the pieces" which he dates long
after the time when Abraham left Haran at the age of seventy­five. IS
Thus according to his view, the redemption would have taken place 8
or 10 years after 2248. Furthermore, there is the opinion of Rabbi
Moses Latif16 of Jerusalem^17 expressed in his public sermons which he
later put into writing. *I, *together with certain reliable persons,
came across these sermons among the books belonging to Rabbi Jehoseph
Hazaq [Joseph de Forti],18 may his shield and redeemer protect him. He
discusses the fact that the age of the world cannot be known for certain
and that certain trustworthy writers increase the number of years that
our people reckon. Then, in like manner to Ramban, he adds 8 years
to the bondage in Egypt according to which calculation the redemption
would have occurred not in the year 2448, but 2456. For this calculation
he adopts the symbol /and we will take our daughter /(bitenu) /and go
/(Gen. 34:17).19 For he objected to the use of the figure 210^20 on the
grounds that it was not a prophetic tradition. It is indeed the subject
of controversy in chapter 48 of Pirqe d'Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Eleazar ben
Azariah said that the [bondage in Egypt] was /redu, /i.e., 210 years,
whereas Rabbi Eleazar ben Arakh states that it was 215 years which figure
through God's kind mercies is counted as doubled.^21 Study the passage
for yourself.^22 In the /Chronicle ofMoses^23 /our teacher, may he rest
in peace, a work which is often cited by the author of the Yalqut, the
figure of 216 is given. This is the figure that Latif is inclined to
accept, and he clinches his opinion by means of three prophetic omens
which in his view are connected with this figure: i.e., in the verse,
/And the fourth generation shall return /(Gen. 15:16), the sum of the
first letters of each word, and likewise the final letters of each word,
amount to 216. The sum of the letters in the individual word /ve-dor
/(and the generation) also amounts to 216. He is also of the

14. Abravanel does refer to Ramban explicitly.

IS. Ramban (to Ex. 12:42) disagrees with Rashi who states that the 430
years begin from the birth of Isaac since "all the days of Abraham cannot
be counted as exile with respect to his seed." Instead he argues that
the 430 years begin from the time of the "covenant between the pieces"
when it was said, /your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not
theirs /(Gen. IS: 13), which took place "a long time" after his exit
from Haran at the age of 75.

16. In his Italian translation, de' Rossi spells the name as
Latef. Normally, it is spelled Latif.

17. This maybe a reference to Moses ben Isaac ibn Latif, son of the
thirteenth-century Spanish philosopher and kabbalist.

18. Joseph son of Solomon de Forti lived in S. Martino
dall'Argine which is in the province of Mantua.

19. Each letter of the word /bitenu /respectively represents
the numerals 2456.

20. This is derived from Jacob's command to his sons, /Go down (redu)
to Egypt /(Gen. 42:2). The numerical value of the word /redu /is 210.

21. I.e., both the days and nights are counted.

22. The idea is that the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites at
night as well as by day.

23. This is a life of Moses, belonging to the genre of the "rewritten
Bible," probably written in the tenth century. It was a popular work,
first published in Constantinople in 1516. De' Rossi appears to have
known the work only through the citations in the Yalqut.


opinion that the 430 years are reckoned from the seventy-sixth year of
Abraham-this is the year that he went down to live in Egypt after leaving
Haran-and are completed in the given year 2456. He further corroborates
this evidence by using the well-known fact as demonstrated in Seder
Olam^24 that the Israelites left Egypt on a Thursday. Calculating the
new-moon days by means of the mean motion which occur every 29 days, 12
hours, and 793 parts from the very first new-moon day (which occurred on
a Monday at the fifth hour, 204 parts), until the year 2448 or 2449, it
would be impossible for the Nisan new-moon day [the month of the exodus]
to have occurred on a Thursday such that the fifteenth of the month would
also have been a Thursday. But this could have been the case had the
exodus occurred in the year 2456. Latif defended himself for his culpable
effrontery in contraverting the Seder Olam on this matter in several ways,
above all by the fact that /justice is the Lord's.25 /This is all to be
found in the two passages in his sermons, and I and the wise I:Iazaq are
trustees in this matter since we are both alive and thus in a position
to demonstrate the opinion of Latif to whosoever is inter­ested. {For
the reader's satisfaction, I shall not desist from quoting from the
actual text of Latif of blessed memory such that he can be apprised of
the firm basis of his argument. After mentioning the two views as to
the date of our exodus, namely, 2448 or 2456, he writes as follows:..."

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 16:00:45 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Rishonim and Chazal (was One Opinion)

On November 25, 2005 Jonathan Ostroff wrote:
> Meforshim do say a Peshat in a verse the very opposite of the Midrash,
> yet this is still intended within the rubric of #2. This remarkable fact
> is explained by Rabbi Chaim Friedlander zt"l in the name of the GR"A as
> the concept of "tishapech ke-chomer chosam" (Iyov 38.14) -- as a seal
> stamps its opposite on clay. The writing of a seal is the opposite and
> the reverse of what must finally be written, and the correct text appears
> only by virtue of these two opposites being there simultaneously. (Sifsei
> Chayim - Pirkei Emunah u-Vechirah, vol. 2 pp. 257-272).

> RGS writes that the GR'A and others "DISPUTED the interpretation of the
> Sages" (Avodah Nov 9, see link to blog, original not in bold). But, Rabbi
> Friedlander nowhere says that Rishonim or the GR'A do dispute Chazal and
> find them in error (see p. 257-6, -- all the "panim" are true and they
> do not contradict each other, and everything is included in the Torah).

Actually, the Gra was not the first to assert what JSO mentions above. The
Ramban has an equally remarkable approach which seems to mirror the
Gra. The Ramban can be found in Hasagas haRamban on the Rambam's Sefer
haMitzvos Shoresh Sheni. He states as follows (select portions):

My translation, insertions in brackets: I have left certain pitgamim
intact to facilitate readability: "And that which they [Chazal] state
'ein mikra yotzey meeday pishuto'...heaven forefend, for [from] all of
the medrashic [interpretations] on the mitzvos of the Torah, not one
[of these medrashim] actually takes the verse out of its meaning for all
of them are included in the meaning of the verse although they [Chazal]
offer many different interpretations [on the same verse]...And the same
applies to all places where they interpret verses with allegory or riddles
[mashal u'melitza] they [Chazal] believe that both are true [albeit]
one an inner [interpretation] the other an outer [interpretation]... And
this is what our sages mean to say 'ein mikra yotzei meeday pishuto', they
didn't say ein mikra ela kipishuto, rather we have [the verse with its]
Medrashic meaning and [the verse with its] literal meaning and the verse
is not caused to fall outside of the parameters of either one of them but
rather tolerates all the interpretations, making both [methods] true."
End quote:

The above is the most definitive quote about maamaray Chazal ever advanced
by the Ramban and thus, IMO, all other places where the Ramban quotes
Chazal should be viewed through the prism of this quote.

Simcha Coffer

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