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Volume 16 : Number 097

Monday, January 23 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 10:51:39 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Halachic Man

Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com> wrote:
> In the class in Jewish Intellectual History I took with Rabbi Shalom
> Carmy (many years ago), he noted that RYBS did not consider the
> "Halachic Man" to be the absolute ideal.  Rather, RYBS wrote Halachic
> Man to describe a typology--what a Halachic Man would really be if
> taken to the Nth degree.  The description of R. Eliyahu Feinstein
> (RYBS' maternal grandfather) putting on tefillin in the minutes before
> his [child] died goes pretty far.  IIRC Rabbi Carmy said that RYBS
> didn't consider his grandfather R. Chaim to fully fit the typology of
> the Halachic Man, and RYBS actually preferred R. Chaim as an example
> of how to lead one's life.

That's interesting. After reading his work (or should I say
studying... one cannot simply read it) I sensed that his master work was
precisely a definition or illustration of what the ideal Jew should be. I
similarly concluded that I'm not sure any human being can ever acheive
it but the examples he gave of his ancestors behavior along those lines
were precisely the idea behind what the ideal Jew should be like.

That R. Chaim was AN example, yet not the PERFECT example of the Halakhic
man kind of demonstrates that.



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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 21:09:19 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Halachic Man

On 1/22/06, Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote:
> That R. Chaim was AN example, yet not the PERFECT example of the
> Halakhic man kind of demonstrates that.

Actually, Rabbi Carmy said that RYBS considered R. Eliyahu Feinstein
to more closely resemble the Halachic Man than did R. Chaim, yet RYBS
nevertheless preferred R. Chaim's model (which had more elements of homo
religiosis IIRC).

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 20:28:13 +0100
From: "Simone and Earl Maser" <semaser@commvia.com>
Question on parshat Shmot -- yes!

Saul Mashbaum wrote (re Shemos 4:1-9):
> There is a certain non-symmetry, which I find interesting, in the three
> signs Moshe was given to show the Jews...In the third sign, the water
> transformed to blood is not restored to its original state. I wonder if
> this has been noted by anyone, and if anyone explains the significance
> of this difference between the signs.

Yes, our Sages deal with this, to bring out signs of hope for the
Jews. The different signs are to remind the people of the Patriarchs
and the promises to them. See Midrash Rabba on Shemos, perek 3, and the
Maharal of Prague, sefer Gur Aryeh on verse 9, and his development at the
end of perek 27 in Gevuros Hashem. Interestingly, it is the third sign,
corresponding to Yaacov, that remained -- Yaacov avinu lo met.

Regarding this third sign, the water which would become and remain blood
on the dry land, see Rabbi E. Munk zatsal on Shemos 4:9 in The Call
of the Torah. He comments that the Jews understood by this that Moshe
had come to avenge the blood the innocent Jewish children who had been
drowned in the Nile.The close repetition of the verb "vehoyu" (see Rashi)
meant that the blood on the ground would remain until justice was done.
This sign raised the hopes of the Jews in Egypt. Along similar lines,
see the sefer Meshech Chochmah.

Yitschak Maser
Montpellier, France

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 22:32:15 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

R' Moshe Feldman raised some interesting questions regarding Tefilas

After looking at some of the modern poskim I think the following points
need to be considered.

1. There is no chiyuv to say tefilas haderech in the city. This is pointed
out by RSZA in Halichos Shlomo, R' Sternbuch in Teshuvos V'Hanhagos ,
and other poskim. Chazal were only mesaken tefilas haderech for a trip
where you leave the city. 2. RSZA maintains that Tefilas Haderech
was only niskan for the dangers that Chazal listed and that we can not
add modern dangers (car accidents). Other poskim such as R' Sternbuch,
Az Nidberu and others disagree and believe that accidents are considered.

Given these 2 points, a trip to the store in the city is never mechayev
tefilas haderech. The question remains how do you define the city. RSZA
takes an expansive view and suggests that even a highway nowadays is
considered in the city because so many people travel on it. Others take
the opposite view that a highway is always considered out of teh city
because it is disconnected from the houses.

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 23:26:44 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

On 1/22/06, Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com> wrote:
> 2. RSZA maintains that Tefilas Haderech was only niskan for the
> dangers that Chazal listed and that we can not add modern dangers (car
> accidents). Other poskim such as R' Sternbuch, Az Nidberu and others
> disagree and believe that accidents are considered.

Still, RSZA (Halichos Shlomo chap. 22 seif 1) says that one may add to
the text "and save us from car accidents." So the way I understand it
is that if the only issue is car accidents, then RSZA would be against
saying it, but if there are other technical reasons that ThD could be
said, then you could decide to say it even if your subjective reason
for saying it is car accidents.

> Given these 2 points, a trip to the store in the city is never
> mechayev tefilas haderech. The question remains how do you define the
> city. RSZA takes an expansive view and suggests that even a highway
> nowadays is considered in the city because so many people travel on
> it. Others take the opposite view that a highway is always considered
> out of teh city because it is disconnected from the houses.

In my case, I live in Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion. It's a 5 minute drive
to Alon Shevut, and that doesn't require passing through Arab villages.
Still, this is the West Bank, and Arabs do travel on the roads,
so the possibility of a drive-by shooting (however rare, relatively)
does exist. Consequently, technically, this can be said to be a place
that has "oyev v'orev ba'derech." Residents of Neve Daniel do not fear
terrorism in driving to Alon Shevut. However, many, like myself, are
aware of the numerous car accidents (and even fatalities) on the main
highway leading to Alon Shevut. Therefore, since ThD could techically
be said because of the possibility of terrorism (and presumably tourists,
who don't understand the situation, do actually say it for that reason),
I feel entitled to say ThD even though my concern is terrorism.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 17:11:49 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Chaqiros and Dichotomies

> Brisker chaqiros are an excercise in finding a dividing line about
> which you can distinguish cases to explain why seeming similar situations
> have different pesaqim, or between shitos to explain why they pasqen
> differently.
> However, that means that every question is being  turned into a dichotomy....

Yes, but...

The purpose of the chakiros is to identify two sevoros that explain a
machlokes. If this is done well, a good shtikl Torah results. If not,
a forced shtikle Torah results. Simply put, chakira is tested by its
product. It is an eminently practical tool to produce good explanations
and as a tool is not subject to abstract criticisms form the science
of logic.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 00:51:21 -0500
From: "Samuel Svarc" <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com>
Re: Timtum Halev - Tie in to "Shelo asani..."

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
>On Wed, Jan 18, 2006 at 11:55:54PM -0500, Samuel Svarc wrote:
>: And the fact that men have more mitzvos then women (thus "forces" that
>: get in the way of sechar...) doesn't bother you? And if you answer that
>: a women can reach the same level of sechar with her (fewer) mitzvos...

>You're conflating two meanings of the phrase "having fewer mitzvos".
>Women were commanded in fewer mitzvos. However, did a tzadeqes perform
>fewer mitzvos than a tzadiq? Or, did she perform the same number /
>total magnitude of positive actions, albeit of a narrower variety?

Let me see if I understand you clearly: Men were given more mitzvos
("opportunities"), but a woman can play "catch up" if she does her
fewer mitzvos more repeatedly. Or is your argument that there is only a
finite amount of time in a day (or in a lifetime for that matter...) and
therefore we all (men and women alike) must choose between the available
(to us) mitzvos and therefore women are not at a disadvantage by their
fewer choices?

Either way it doesn't jibe with the brocha; one doesn't make a brocha
on an irrelevant fact. If a woman can receive the same amount of schar
with fewer "opportunities" then what is the brocha about, the fact that
men have more? Why is that relevant?

And if the more opportunities make it easier for a man to receive schar,
is that not unjust (from our human perspective - needless to say that
Hashem is NOT unjust)?

>:                                           You don't see them making
>: berochas that they were created with beards (to give another irrelevant
>: difference). If more mitzvos has no effect then what's it about?
>Having been commanded in more mitzvos means having more opportunities
>to perform mitzvos, and the same mitzvah has greater magnitude when
>nitz-taveh ve'oseh. So, BH for those opportunities.

I addressed the "opportunities" angle above.

>: And why would Hashem make a neshoma that will be (as a woman) inherently
>: unable to reach the level of sechar of another neshoma (man)? And if
>: the sechar is the same then what is the berocha about, in the context
>: (l'fi Rashi) that it's based on the more mitzvos men have (which makes
>: no difference).

>I was intending to reply to this as RnTK did -- al tehi ka'avid
>hameshameshim es haRav al menas leqabeil peras.

This Chazal can be said by person on himself, but not by an outside
force. A person could (and Chazal inform us that he should) demand
this of himself and Hashem will inquire why we did not reach this level
(amongst other questions on our ruchniyus), but in NO WAY do we ever see
that Hashem doesn't give schar for a mitzvo. [In fact, I think this is
clear from Chazal's memrie, ...al menas leqabiel peras..., what peras?
The peras that Hashem gives. Don't do it for that reason, not that you
won't receive it.] It borders on Apikorsus to intimate such a result;
the Rambam includes Schar v'Onesh as an Ikkur.

So yes, Hashem gives schar for every mitzvo that a person does and to say
that He made a system where one cannot get the same amount as another
is equivalent to a father saying to his children, "I'll pay a dollar
for every bit of nachas that I get from you. Oh, and Chaim? You should
still give me nachas but I won't give YOU any money. The REAL reason
isn't about dollars, right?" What would you think of such a father? Why
do you impute such reasoning to OUR Father?

[As for what R'N TK said, that this "inherent disadvantage" to the
neshoma is no different then the difference between Jew and NJ, etc.,
I disagree. Derech Hashem explains that NJ's were given a choice: they
could ALL have accepted. Since they didn't their children (to a degree)
suffer from that choice. But this (men and women) is different! All Jews
accepted, men AND woman; why is there a discrepancy between them?]


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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 07:33:44 -0600
From: Lisa Liel <lisa@starways.net>
Re: Emunah, Corruption, and the Mabul

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote:
> The question of the Mabul is particularly difficult. According to one
> seemingly knowledgeable commentator in RYGB's blog, it seems that there
> are millions of artifacts that testify to an unbroken chain of existence
> of various peoples and cultures that predate the Mabul. How can that
> possibly be in the context of the Torah's narrative that all human life
> on earth was destroyed in the Mabul about five thousand years ago?

There are issues with regards to the techniques used to date ancient
finds. Every single one of them relies on a chain of unproven

I know this sounds like the usual anti-science stuff you hear from
certain fundamentalists in other religions, but it's true nonetheless.
Carbon dating (the most common technique) assumes that the current
levels of carbon in our atmosphere are exactly the same as they've been
for... well, forever. That the current proportion of C14 to C12 in our
atmosphere has remained unchanged. That every state and every process
we see now is identical to the states and processes that were present
100 years ago, 1000 years ago, 5000 years ago, and so on.

Other isotope dating techniques make the same assumptions, and that
would be fine, if they were identified as assumptions. But they aren't.
They are presented as facts.

The same is true with counting tree rings. This is sometimes used as
a cross check method for radioisotope dating. But tree ring counting
assumes that only one ring is formed on a tree each year, which is
demonstratably false.

When you submit an object for carbon dating, they ask for a ballpark
estimate of the age of the object. Nothing specific; just whether
it's supposedly 1000 years old, or 1500, or what have you. And they
toss anything that skews too far from that as "contaminated". Which it
may be. But then again, maybe it's not. Either way, that's not science.
It's circular reasoning.

So with all due respect to the knowledgable commentator, it's not quite
that simple.


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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 12:51:26 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
FW: Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

[Actually, the post RMS cites was here, on
Avodah. <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol16/v16n096.shtml#03>. -mi]

In a discussion on areivim, RMB raised the issue with the allegorization
of the mabul and migdal bavel. to cite (I am doing at the behest of
the moderators)
>1- Can one create a peshat in chumash that is not addressing any problems
>within Torah? Those who are bothered by creation at least have Torah
>sources to debate. The mabul and migdal Bavel, OTOH... it's entirely
>fitting Torah around science.
>We can review RYBS's version on why R' Chaim Brisker rejected Radziner
>techeiles, and the questionable role of science in mesorah.

>2- Epistimologically, once one considers Torah amenable for being fitted
>around science, why stop at Bereishis 11? It would seem a choice to be
>inconsistent just because the mabul isn't yetzi'as mitzrayim. So what's
>next, the avos? If one is willing to dismiss biblical archeology's
>inability to find 3 million yotz'ei Mitzrayim, or the tens of millions
>of Kenaanim what implies, then why accept any of its conclusions?

>Should we be in the position of whittling Torah down to that which science
>considers unaddressed? Isn't that the "god of the gaps" approach that
>typifies paganism? (The invocation of deity just as a means to be able
>to sleep rather than being overwhelmed by fear of the unknown.)

The fundamental issue in chumash and hazal is trying to understand what
they are trying to tell us. The real issue is the nature of the torah.
The peshat that works is based on the concept that the torah is not
trying to teach us history - as facts don't have theological message -
but is trying to teach us avodat hashem (and this is simple pshat in
the first rashi on chumash).

Therefore, allegorizing the mabul is not fitting torah around science -
it is realizing that the essence of torah is completely unrelated to the
historical reality of the mabul - something that there is a strong case in
hazal for. Science is used because the mesora is telling us that it really
isn't interested in the history. Of course, there are other positions
in hazal and the mesora, which are today far more widely accepted - but
the other position is within the mesora. It is not a "god of the gaps"
- because "god of the gaps" means that there are theologically important
issues that aren't answered by the mesora, and only some leftovers -
but one that insists that phrasing it as "god of the gaps" radically
misconstrues what the mesora and torah are all about. We should thank
hashem for giving us the torah as a means of avodat hashem, and not
insist that he should have also taught us history and astrophysics,
and therefore he must have....

WRT to yetziat mitzraim, that is more problematic, because part of avoday
hashem is directly related to zechirat yetziat mitzraim.

The issue of the beit halevy and techelet is quite different, because one
has to distinguish between halachically true and pure truth. That is,
in halachic issues - whether this dyed cloth is halachically techelet ,
or this meat I found is kasher - the fact that I have pure, convincing
evidence that this cloth is identical in composition and in manufacture
to the techelet of hazal, or that this meat came from a kosher butcher
and was not exposed to anything to make it kasher, may be irrelevant to
the halachic status - that requires a mesora. That is quite different
from advocating a dual truth theory - that the truths of science and the
mesora are in opposition - and many (? most) rishonim, including for sure
the rambam, but also the kuzari, were opposed to such a dual truth theory.

I would add that this is related to two other issues.  
1) In a previous discussion, RYGB suggested that RYBS shouldn't be
considered a ba'al machshava because (and I rephrase) his thought
was expressed, and addressed, different issues and categories than
traditional ba'ale machshava. Leaving the specific issue of RYBS out,
the underlying assumption is that there is a tradition of machshava
(which, roughly, is the tradition of the ari as rephrased by certain
acharonim such as the ramchal and others) which is mainstream - which
may be accurate. What is a also implicit (although not a necessary
consequence, so I don't know what RYGB holds) is to view thoughts and
categories outside of this tradition, and especially those that reject
that tradition - as non normative, and even quasi heretical (with the
question whether the qualification of quasi would be used by many).
This is, in some ways at the heart of the recent Slifkin contretemp -
because the ability to question hazal's science is clearly not part of
that tradition of machshava. That tradition of machshava does view the
torah as giving us an understanding of the world itself, rather than
merely an understanding of our relationship to hashem - and attempts to
deny the pshat have therefore a far greater impact on that understanding.

2. One of the question is the nature of what ultimately true
faith entails - is it better to believe in a system that claims to
comprehensively explain everything, or to believe purely in avodat
hashem without all the explanations. One believes more, the other
believes more purely...

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 13:42:30 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re: Kashrus which became: Bal Tashchis and burning Chometz

Quoting "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>:
> At 08:56 PM 01/21/2006, I wrote:
>>And of course (for those of you who have never been to a Sephardi 
>>shiva house), unlike at an Ashkenazi shiva (which is what I was used 
>>to, and where the converse it true) it is considered a big zchus for 
>>the meis for those coming to be menachem avelim to eat and thereby 
>>make brochos in the house ...                             to maximise 
>>the number of brochas which were said in her honour...

> I do not see any reference to this custom in Mourning in Halachah. It 
> may be there, but I did not see it in the index.

I am not familiar with this work, but my experience in general,
particularly with books and articles (not to mention postings, divrei
torah etc) written in English is that it is very common to overlook or
ignore Sephardi halacha and minhagim. At one stage on this list I even
coined a word for it "Ashkenazocentric", (as in Ashkenazocentric alert")
meaning somebody had framed something as being the halacha, when in fact
it was on the halacha only according to the Ashkenazi poskim.

> Years ago I went to the home of a Syrian Sephardi friend who was, 
> unfortunately, sitting Shiva for a daughter.  I was not offered 
> anything to eat. Perhaps the custom you describe is not universal 
> amongst Sephardim.

I don't know whether it is done amongst the Spanish and Portuguese (my
husband says he has only ever been to one shiva under their auspices, and
food was offered there, but that may not have been typical). His family
is Syrian from Egypt (there was an entire community of Syrians who
moved to Egypt a generation before his parents) and it was certainly
done in that community, and in the wider Egyptian Jewish community.
It is also done throughout the Iraqi Indian community.

Dayan Toledano is his volume on aveilus - Everlasting Life, it is volume 4
of his Fountain of Blessings series, which is a series of halacha books in
which they restate Orech Chaim for modern day English speaking Sephardim,
although they are also usually quite careful to make sure that Ashkenazi
positions are cross referenced states as follows (the format is sucinct
halacha in English, with Hebrew sources and footnotes, I have transcribed
the English and translated the relevant footnote after it):

Chapter 32:

6. "Some have the custom to eat in the house of a mourner while others
do not. Each should follow his own custom" (Footnote: there are those
who have the custom to not eat in the house of an avel. And the reason is
written by HaRav Eliyahu Raba which is brought in the chidushim of Rabbi
Akiva Eiger Yoreh Deah siman 376 because of the ruach raah that hangs
over them all seven days. And so it is in the Keter Shem Tov daf 784")

7. The custom in Baghdad was to serve in the house of mourning coffee
and various foods on which blessings were recited, and also to make
a blessing on the scent of rose water, so that through the merit of
blessings, the soul of the departed might benefit. (Footnote: See Rav
Poelim Chelek Gimmel Yoreh Deah siman 31. That they bring rose water into
the house of an avel in order that the kahal may be caused to bless.
And so is the custom to bring coffee and make the blessing on it.
And all this is with the intention to benefit the deceased see there.
And so is the custom today amongst the Edot Hamizrach}.

Given Dayan Toledano's statement that "and so is the custom today amonst
the Edot Hamizrach", I would imagine it is pretty widespread. He himself
is a Morrocan, but one of the things he is careful in this book is to
bring differing customs of the different Edot Hamizrach communities, and
he is unlikely to have made a blanket statement like that if there was
widespread dissent. However, Spanish and Portuguese is not necessarily
within the framework of "Edot Hamizrach" (he would tend to say Sephardim
if he meant both) and groups such as the Gibraltarians may also fall
out of that category.

>Even if it is, why not make a Brocho on spices?

Well as you can see - this too. As mentioned, one of my jobs was making
sure we didn't just have food, but that we had food that would maximise
the number of brochas. (Note however that I have not heard of bringing
different kinds of besamim into the house to ensure that the different
brochas over spices are made - something that presumably would not be
of relevance to Ashkenazim either, since they do not distinguish).

Chana Luntz

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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 10:55:46 -0500
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Pas Akkum - Kashrus

[R' Yitzchok Levine:]
>Would anyone today think of eating bread baked by a gentile unless it
>has rabbinical supervision? Who knows what might be in unsupervised
>bread that could be a kashrus problem?

Are you suggesting that originally bread baked by an Akkum was Kosher
and if not for the G'Zeira on Pas Akkum that loaf of bread would be
acceptable, presumably because by default bread has a Hazaqa not to
contain any particles of Ma'Achalos Assuros that would affect the Kashrus
of the loaf of bread? If so, what changed today? Who knew what the Akkum
used (ingredients-wise) to bake with in his home? Who knew what he had
in his oven at the same time? What technological or modern condition
changed the dynamics of 'How can you be certain?'

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 22:40:39 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Re: Sending Food to Someone Sitting Shiva

From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
> Does this not imply that sending food to someone sitting shiva other
> than for the se'udas havra'ah is forbidden? I asked a Rav this morning
> about this, and he could not answer me. He said that it seemed that I
> was correct.

I looked up the matter in BIU Shu"t . There is a shu"t from Igrot Moshe
concerning this exact issue: part XIV, siman 168: His summary is that
he is inclined to permit it.

I advise to read the whole Teshuva as it is enlightening. He brings up,
for example, a minhag to bring even meat and wine, but then others forbid
this, but permit other foods.

In another halacha book from the time of the Ga'onim, they talk about
bringing food to the Aveil after the Se'udat Havra'a. (There are many
more sources, but I don't have the time).

Shoshana L. Boublil

??"? ????? ??? ??? ??"? ? ????? ???? ?"? ??? ???? 

??? ???? ?? ??????? ?? ?? ??????? ??????? ???? ????? ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ?????? ????"? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ?' ???? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ?"? ??? ??"? ???? ????? ??' ??? ???? ???? ????"?. ???? ??? ???"? ???? ????? ?? ????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ??"? ????? ???? ???? ??. ??? ????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ??? ??????. 

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