Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 044

Friday, December 2 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 14:56:00 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com

> RSRH invented NOTHING -- he only tried to give the classic Jewish
> understanding of Torah the best possible formulation in the clearest,
> most lucid and most attractive language he could....
> The tension between engagement in the world and separation from the
> world is implicit in ALL the classic sources since the beginning --
> you will find it even in Bereishis, in the life of Avraham Avinu.
> You will find it in the Mishna and Gemara and numerous seforim.

WADR, an objective reading of the old ( not the recent) edition of the
Nineteen Letters establishes beyond any reasonable POV that RSRH responded
to the threat of R by setting forth O in a way that showed its eternal
relevance and compatibility with the emerging culture of his times. There
is no sense of any apologetics or horaas shah in The Nineteen Letters,
but rather a strong critique of both R and the ossified Orthodoxy of
Germany as well. IMO, that is revolutionary and pioneering

Of course, engagement and separation is a major theme in Torah. The
concepts of Kiddush and Havdalah are prime exhibits that are on display
in the Mishnah , Talmud and all Baalei Machshavah. Yet, Avraham Avinu,
the first kiruv worker, withdrew from his contemporary culture porecisely
because he was offering a revolutionary concept-belief in monotheism.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:09:01 EST
From: T613K@aol.com

In Avodah V16 #43 dated 11/29/2005 R' Yitzchok Levine writes:
> IMO a very good source to use in order to understand what RSRH meant by
> TIDE are the footnotes to the Nineteen Letters that Rabbi Joseph Elias
> put together. I personally found his notes and the extensive quotes
> from the writings of RSRH eye opening.

Unfortunately I do not know the specifics of what bothered him, but I
do know that my father was critical of some of what R' Elias wrote.

He considered R' Elias to have significantly deviated from TIDE and to
have misrepresented Hirsch in order to make his hashkafa seem more in
keeping with the black-hat yeshivish Torah-only view.

 -Toby  Katz

[R' Steve Brizel <Zeliglaw@aol.com> submitted a similar sentiment. -mi]

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Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 14:47:49 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
RSRH on Eisav's chinuch

RSRH writes that the chinuch Yitzchok and Rivka gave their children was
too narrow and "one size fits all". Eisav needed a chinuch that was al
pi darko. Since he didn't get it, he became Eisav.

Rav Dessler, actually Rashi too, says something completely
different. Eisav was born this way, and no matter what anyone would have
done, he was not going to get with the program.

Other that a few subtle hints in the lashon of the psukim, does anyone
here have some mekoros that say the same as RSRH on this subject?

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Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 15:54:33 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
From today's Haaretz-Does anyone know what the objection is?

Remains of 34 Jewish camp inmates to be reburied in Germany  
By Amiram Barkat

The bones of 34 Jewish inmates discovered in a mass grave in a military
camp in Germany will be reburied in the camp, a spokesman for the
Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) told Haaretz yesterday.

RCE sources said genetic tissue and DNA tests will not be held due to
the objection of ultra-Orthodox circles, including the Zaka emergency
rescue and recovery organization.

Joel Rich

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Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 22:35:28 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: TIDE and TuM

On November 29, 2005 Harry Maryles wrote:
> For the record, TuM is not about integration into the gentile culture. It
> is about utilizing the best of it, which does not contradict the
> Halacha.

Like what? And why would TuM presume to institute such an innovation,
that we should utilize gentile culture, if it was not an ideal for the
past 3000 years?

> It is about enjoying and renewing oneself,

There's a lot more renewal and enjoyment in living a life of Yiddishkeit
than anything the goyim could possibly have to offer.

>                                                     ...about adhering
> to the Torah dictum: Mekadesh Atzmechem B'Ma SheMutar Lach.

Which is precisely the opposite of the philosophy you are presenting
as TuM! Kadesh means to refrain, not to indulge.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 06:22:02 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: TIDE and TuM

On Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 10:35:28PM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
: Like what? And why would TuM presume to institute such an innovation,
: that we should utilize gentile culture, if it was not an ideal for the
: past 3000 years?

It's not an inovation. Utilizing nachri culture and wisdom was the norm,
until the nachriim ghettoed us. And once those walls started falling,
or in venues where they were never built... The Gra advocated it. The
early Chassidim (not to be confused with Chassidim haRishonim) did as
well. Kelm had limudei chol, and while Slabodka did not, the students'
discourse presumed knowledge of Marx and Freud, and the other contemporary
Isms. Chazal learned from the Romans. R' Saadia Gaon, the Sepharadi
rishonim, and the Rambam et al picked up Aristotilianism from the Moslems.

The innovation was in 1801, with R' Chaim Vilozhener (NhC vol IV)
and the yeshiva movement. And shortly later in Hungary, when they
held onto the culture we were forced into as minhag Yisrael saba --
"chadash asur min haTorah!" after all.

History is being rewritten. Let's start with something easier to swallow:
Under the Netziv, they did allow limudei chol in Vilozhin. He wasn't
happy about it, but they had it. And that's the citadel of the "Torah
only" innovation!


Micha Berger             "The worst thing that can happen to a
micha@aishdas.org        person is to remain asleep and untamed."
http://www.aishdas.org          - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 11:58:24 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Shnayim Mikra V'echad targum

R'SBA asked
> Afilu Im tirtzah lomer that SM [shenayim miqra -mi] "in depth" takes
> precedence over, say, DY [daf yomi], what if one ONLY has enough time
> available to do SM 'superficially'? Does that too take precedence to
> a shiur in gemara? Ie, what is more of a chiyuv - 'superficial' SM or
> limmud hatorah?

Excellent question, but not excellently phrased.

For the answer to be meaningful, the question -- which distinguishes
between superficial Shnayim Mikra and in-depth Shnayim Mikra -- must
also distinguish between superficial gemara and in-depth gemara.

My guess is that if a person is really in the situation of the same
amount of time being used for either Shnayim Mikra or for gemara, then
if the gemara is "Daf Yomi" then it too will be superficial, but a
"shiur in gemara" could be in-depth if it covers less ground.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 19:35:39 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: RSRH on Eisav's chinuch

On November 29, 2005, Gershon Seif wrote:
> RSRH writes that the chinuch Yitzchok and Rivka gave their children was
> too narrow and "one size fits all". Eisav needed a chinuch that was al
> pi darko. Since he didn't get it, he became Eisav.

I heard recently from one of Rav Aharon Kotler's talmidim that his rebbi
had a kabbala that it is assur to criticize the Avos on any point that
Chazal were not critical of. Apparently RSRH didn't feel that way but I
personally do not accept his criticism of Yitzchok. In fact, it sounds
rachok meod. Chazal say on the pasuk "vayigdilu haniarim" that Yaakov
and Eisav were virtually identical in their formative years and the
difference between them only began to arise in their teens and even
then it was initially subtle. By the time Yitzchok could have known,
it was too late. Besides, Eisav was always fooling his father. Also, the
Zohar says that Hashem hid Eisav's evilness from Yitzchok. So although
I'm sure Yitzchok understood that Eisav required more attention than
Yaakov, he was 1) no longer in the position to assert his influence to
the degree necessary to change Eisav and b) was essentially unaware to
what extent Eisav had degenerated.

> Rav Dessler, actually Rashi too, says something completely
> different. Eisav was born this way, and no matter what anyone would have
> done, he was not going to get with the program.

Rav Dessler says no such thing. And as far as Rashi goes, there is a vort
from the Satmar Rav on the Rashi you are referring to. Rashi says that
whenever Rivka passed by a Beis Medrash, Yaakov began kicking to get out.
Whenever she passed a bais AZ, lihavdil, Eisav was mifarches la'tzeis. The
Satmar Rav says that Eisav was kicking to get out because he wanted to
smash the Avodah zara to pieces. The following is dilation on this vort.

Eisav carried on the mida of his father Yitzchok, the mida of gevura. The
nature of gevura is to constantly maintain the struggle against evil
by focussing inward and constantly being mivatel the yetzer hara in all
of its manifestations. Through this, the giluy kvod shamayim engendered
by the mida of gevura is asserted. But there are issues with this type
of Avodas Hashem, one inherent, and one a matter of choice. Inherently,
evil must always exist for this mida to function as a means of giluy kvod
shamayim. The second issue is that if one is in the habit of focussing
inward, it could lead to the "pisoles" of this mida which is ga'ava. Eisav
had the ability to swing in either direction. He *chose* left instead of
right. He had bechira and failed. Had he succeeded, he would have been
side by side with his brother assisting him in his avodas Hashem just
like Antoninus and Rebbi. There could have been two parallel nations,
one complimenting the other, right down to present day. This, IMO, is
the proper perspective on Eisav. Yitzchok is not to blame, and neither is

As far as RSRH, although I disagree with his hashara regarding Yitzchok,
his ikkar vort is beyond reproach. Unfortunately, michanchim are
insufficiently aware of the wisdom of his words in this matter.

Simcha Coffer 

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Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 14:33:59 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>

On November 29, 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
>: 1) Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah (or Im Ein Derech Eretz, Ein Torah) - The
>: idea that derech eretz (DE) is a prerequisite to Torah such that if a
>: person has Torah, he must have derech eretz. DE in this context refers
>: to proper behaviour and attitudes towards Hashem and towards man that
>: can be acquired even without the Torah....

> Towards man, yes. But where is a maqor that DE refers to behavior toward

Where's your mekor that it applies just to bein adam lachaveiro? Yours
is a common mistake. Please look up the meforshim in Vayikra Rabbah. For
a well developed thesis on Toras derech eretz, which existed from the
times of Adam haRishon until Moshe Rabbeinu, see the hakdama to Chovos

>: 2) Yafeh Torah Im Derech Eretz - Being mifarnes es atzmo u'vney beiso...
> Where do you get that DE here means parnasah?

Every single mifaresh on that mishna. Perhaps you should look up sources
before responding. Besides, even without looking up the meforshim,
what do you think "she'yigiyas shneihem mishkachas avon" might mean? Do
you think, like you write in the next paragraph, that it means to be
miyagaya in Humanism? Yigiya means toil and either one toils in Torah
or one toils to make a living. It's simple pshat.

>                                                    That would be "im ein
> qemach, ein Torah", a different mishnah in Pirqei Avos.

Both mishnayos are imparting a similar message however there are subtle
differences. I'll let you do your homework.

> Leshitas RSRH, both uses of DE are the same. As already discussed,
> RSRH's TIDE implied a humanism.

Humanism is useless. In fact, it's an excuse for being godless. I'm no
baki on RSRH but I'm sure he doesn't mean humanism. What he is probably
espousing is that our mission is to ultimately encompass all of humanity
within our spiritual achievements, to attempt to advance the spiritual
betterment of mankind in general. This idea is surely a fundamental
tenet of Yiddishkeit and has been a part of our messorah for thousands
of years. For instance, the korbanos on Succos represent this idea.

>: 3) Im Yomar Licha Adam Yesh Chochma BaGoyim, Tamin - for short, Torah
>: Umadah (not the movement)....

> Not at all. Nor relevent to TIDE. Chokhmah bagoyim ta'amin means that
> you can rely on their observations. In context, that they may actually
> know the gestation period od a snake better than we do. It's a statement
> about using non-Jewish sources. How does that imply anything about the
> value of secular knowledge?

Hmm... If I require a source in secular knowledge and I can choose to
constantly rely on an outside source for this knowledge or rather procure
it for myself, you would see no value in the latter? Do you send your
kids to limudey chol?

In any case, "chochma bagoyim", besides having practical applications,
is a statement by Chazal admiring that branch of Chochma and thereby
giving it inherent qualities of wisdom.

>: 4) TIDE and RSRH - When attempting to present a short synopsis of this
>: movement, I encountered a major obstacle....

>  From this point onward you make statements without providing any basis
> at all.

If you don't like my opinion, you're welcome to disagree as long as you
forward a well reasoned argument; however, I am not michuyav to provide
you with a "basis" for every statement I make. I also have a brain
believe it or not. That's my basis. If you're looking for "sources",
visit the library.

>: The third attitude is mine. I wish to make a reconciliation between the
>: above two approaches and claim that RSRH, while really promoting the
>: above-mentioned philosophy, would not necessarily have advanced it in
>: a non-modern world and thus, in the times of Mashiach, for instance,
>: where modernity's primary purpose will be to serve as a facilitator
>: for klal yisrael, RSRH would dispense with his approach and adopt the
>: Rambam's approach at the end of Hilchos Milachim.

> But this is simply what you want RSRH to say, with no actual basis in
> anything he (or wikipedia) actually wrote!

I don't want him to say anything! I could care less what he really
meant. I am simply presenting a possible approach to understanding the
underpinnings of the TIDE movement in Germany at the time. Besides, I am
not the one who came up with this idea. Like I first posted a while back,
there are two camps. There are many people, including adherents to TIDE,
who don't agree with you. I am just trying to formulate their opinion
in a coherent post. Don't shoot the messenger.

>                                       So when a half dozen people
> post how this sentiment runs counter to the ideas dripping off many many
> pages of RSRH's writings, your reply simply is to repeat your imposing
> your desired position on his work.

There were several well presented arguments on Avodah that supported
many, if not all of the elements of my attitude. Personally, I happen to
think that since TIDE was obviously developed as a response to Haskala
and Reform, it is common sense to imagine that RSRH would not have
necessarily advocated every element of TIDE in ideal times. I'm sure
that there are some timeless components to TIDE too but as a movement,
no. And then again, I might be wrong. I'm no baki on RSRH...

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 21:39:39 -0500
From: "Jonathan Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah and Quantum Mechanics

The recent letter by Rabbi Shlomo Miller Shlit"a -- URL is at
<http://toriah.org/misc/RNS/index.htm >

regarding Rabbi Slifkin's approach to Torah and science mentions Bell's
theorem and non-locality [There are also new letters by Rabbi Perlow,
Rabbi Aharon Shechter and Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky Shlit"a].
<http://toriah.org/science/mind-qm/schwartz-stapp.htm >

What is not so well realized is that the methodological materialism that
undergirds Darwinian theories (supported in "The Science of Torah") are
based on outdated ideas about the natural world. The following article
is of great interest, with respect to Rabbi Miller's comments:


Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model
of mind-brain interaction Jeffrey M. Schwartz A1, Henry P. Stapp A2,
Mario Beauregard A3 A4 A5 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.

Abstract: Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour
generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately suffice to explain
all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the
idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and fields,
and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be
formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms
having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. 'feeling',
'knowing' and 'effort') are not included as primary causal factors. This
theoretical restriction is motivated primarily by ideas about the
natural world that have been known to be fundamentally incorrect for
more than three-quarters of a century. Contemporary basic physical
theory differs profoundly from classic physics on the important matter
of how the consciousness of human agents enters into the structure of
empirical phenomena. The new principles contradict the older idea that
local mechanical processes alone can account for the structure of all
observed empirical data. Contemporary physical theory brings directly and
irreducibly into the overall causal structure certain psychologically
described choices made by human agents about how they will act. This
key development in basic physical theory is applicable to neuroscience,
and it provides neuroscientists and psychologists with an alternative
conceptual framework for describing neural processes. Indeed, owing to
certain structural features of ion channels critical to synaptic function,
contemporary physical theory must in principle be used when analysing
human brain dynamics. The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based
predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the
prevailing principles of physics. It is able to represent more adequately
than classic concepts the neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing
number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and
mental effort to systematically alter brain function.

Keywords: mind, consciousness, brain, neuroscience, neuropsychology,
quantum mechanics

 From the conclusion: 

    Materialist ontology draws no support from contemporary physics and
    is in fact contradicted by it. The notion that all physical behaviour
    is explainable in principle solely in terms of a local mechanical
    process is a holdover from physical theories of an earlier era. It
    was rejected by the founders of quantum mechanics, who introduced,
    crucially into the basic dynamical equations, choices that are not
    determined by local mechanical processes, but are rather attributed to
    human agents. These orthodox quantum equations, applied to human brains
    in the way suggested by John von Neumann, provide for a causal account
    of recent neuropsychological data. In this account brain behaviour that
    appears to be caused by mental effort is actually caused by mental effort:
    the causal efficacy of mental effort is no illusion. Our wilful choices
    enter neither as redundant nor epiphenomenal effects, but rather as
    fundamental dynamical elements that have the causal efficacy that the
    objective data appear to assign to them.


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Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 21:40:21 -0500
From: Ezra Wax <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Re: Rising Torah Star

On 11/24/05, SBA <sba@sba2.com> wrote:
> The above posuk about Hashem transforming Billom's kelolo livrocho
> [also, also BTW, mentioned in the RBSO that we say during duchening] is
> puzzling. After all Billom did NOT curse the Yidden - much to Balak's
> displeasure. So how and why did Hashem 'convert' his 'non-klelos'
> into brochos?

The gemara says that from Billom's brochos you can see what his klolos were
going to be. So it is those klolos that were turned into brochos.


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Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 12:41:06 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
"Hihurei Aveirah kashim mei'aveirah."

[Post here by order of the Ms.]

From: Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer
> SBA wrote:
>> But it seems quite clear from Rashi [beshem Sifri] Ki Setzei 23:9
>> that it IS literal - and indeed the reason why Moavi and Amoni are ossur
>> lovoy bekahal forever, whilst Mitzri is muttar after 3 generations.
>> Vezeh leshon kodshoy:
>> "...hamachti le'odom kasha lo min hahorgo - shehahorgo horgo be'olom
>> hazeh vehamachti'o motzi'o min haolam hazeh umin haolom habo..."

> The statement here is a literal as "Hihurei Aveirah kashim mei'aveirah."

GG!! Yes, that statement is also literal.

But, [despite the way mussar seforim use it], you are correct to point out
that it does NOT mean that having sinful thoughts is worse than the actual
deed [ie, maaseh znus is lesser aveireh than having hirhurei aveireh].

It means - as Rashi explains [Yuma 29a] - "Taavas noshim kashim
lehak'chish es besoro yoser migufoy shel maaseh".

Physically, for the body thinking about sin and wanting it [but not
doing so] is far more harmful than the act.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh explains this a little bit differently saying
that while someone who did the maaseh aveireh has now satisfied his guf
[and also may even think of doing teshuva], if one is [only] meharer,
"..kashim livnei odom lifrosh mehem - she'adayen haleiv ra'av vetzama..."


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Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 20:55:38 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>

Rabbi Meshi Zahav stated that the organization is against taking DNA
samples from skeletons as this would constitute a violation of the honor
of the dead, Taking DNA samples from the skeletons involves crumbling
bones onto dust.

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Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 18:40:50 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
re: Bilam's klalos (was: rising Torah star)

R. SBA asks
> The above posuk about Hashem transforming Billom's kelolo livrocho
> puzzling. After all Billom did NOT curse the Yidden - much to Balak's
> displeasure. So how and why did Hashem 'convert' his 'non-klelos'
> into brochos?

From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <>
> I am puzzled by the puzzlement. Bilam was compelled to say the words
> Hashem put in his mouth -- "Hadavar asher yasim Elohim b'fi oso adabeir."
> What came out was the exact opposite of what he wanted to say...

I realise that pshat MUST be that way. But lemaaseh the posuk is shverr,
as 'wanting to curse' isn't the same as actually doing so.

And although very few meforshim have any problems with the posuk -
the TT does - both in the Chumash and in TB.

And the other problem is is that the gemara tells us that all Bilom's
klolos [except ma tovu] eventuated.

So how does this work in with 'vayehapoch Hashem es Haklolo livrocho"?


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