Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 099

Tuesday, January 24 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 09:48:47 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Gut instincts vs Halachic Man

R' H Shachter commented in a hesped for the Rav that the great Talmidei
Chachamim pasken based on their gut, on what their first instinct is. Only
after their "muskal rishon" do they go and look at the sugya and see
that/if they are right. He quoted a story about the Chasam Sofer who used
to leave his teshuvos to be reviewed by his son the Ksav Sofer who would
then mail them out. The Chasam Sofer saw that 1 teshuva was not being
mailed so he asked his son why not? His son answered, the questioner
is a big talmid chacham and you answered him with a weak proof from a
gemara. The Chasam Sofer replied that with the above yesod and therefore
he said he doesn't need to bring tremendous proofs. He paskens based
on his "muskal rishon". RHS also mentioned Rashi in Parshas Tzaveh who
when explaining some of the Bigdei Kehuna writes I don't know what this
is but "libi omer li" and then proceeds to give an explanation. RHS's
point was that RYBS was on this level, he had that instinct to pasken
based on his "muskal rishon", Torah was so embedded in him that he just
knew what the din was. RHS commented on himself (in humility) that he
doesn't have that instinct and doesn't pasken that way.

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 09:03:09 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Re:Re: Timtum Halev - Tie in to "Shelo asani..."

From: "Samuel Svarc" <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com>
> 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...

The problem starts with the assumption that mitzvot were intended for

> 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?

...Mitzvot were given (besides the basic issue of Sachar) to teach and
bring us closer to Hashem.
So, going with the sources that claim that women have an extra level
of Ruchaniyut and men need more help to get there -- then the men are
saying a Bracha on the opportunity that Hashem gave them, by giving them
extra mitzvot, to also achieve a high level of Ruchaniyut.

> 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).

But, if the basic Sachar is closeness to Hashem, then by giving men more
mitzvot, Hashem actually leveled out the playing field, assisting men
in reaching the sought for closeness to Hashem.
And this is what they are actually saying the Bracha about.

>>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. 
> 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. 

I'm glad you said this. Could you perhaps help change the situation
whereby in both Israel and the States, women get paid approx. 70% of
what men do -- for the same job with the same skills?

(Yes I realize this was off-topic <g>)

As you said, Hashem is just. The goal is spiritual closeness. Sachar is
not davka gold and riches in the physical sense. It's learning Ahavat
Hashem; it's not a question of the number of mitzvot or the weight
of mitzvot. The mitzvot have an impact on our Ruchaniyut, and as such,
the issue of numbers is irrelevant.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 11:37:03 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Everyone on the Same Level

I wrote:
<<Perhaps only a major
rav could adopt such a chumra, as people might not feel slighted by his
not eating. A regular ba'al ha'bayis, even one who is a tzaddik nistar,
might be ill-advised to adopt such a chumra, as (1) this would impact
on de'orasos of bein adam l'chaveiro....>>

Here are some excerpts from "The Making of a Gadol" pp. 649 ff.:
<<[R. Yisrael] Salanter said he had a "collosal question" (kushya atzuma)
on one of [the Chofetz Chaim's Shmiras HaLashon] rulings, namely, that
if one's friend does not know about his having been maligned, one must
reveal to him what he sinfully said about him and ask forgiveness.
Since the victim knows nothing of the matter and will be anguished when
told, R' Yisrael asked, what gives the sinner the right to hurt his
friend just to satisfy a personl need for repentance?
This approach is consistent with R' Yisrael's principle that bein adam
l'chaveiro is never compromised by bein adam la'makom considerations.
In accordance with the his dictum, to wit, "The other's corporeal needs
(tzor'chei ha'guf) are my soul's interests (inyanei ha'neshama),"
interpersonal relations are essentially *also* bein adam la'makom, and
therefore cannot be eclipsed by (other) bein adam la'makom encumbrances.>>

Kol tuv,

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 13:33:55 +0200
From: Danny Schoemann <doniels@gmail.com>
Brochas over spices

In a thread named "Re: Kashrus which became: Bal Tashchis and burning
Chometz" R'bn Chana Luntz says:
(Note however that I have not heard of bringing different kinds of besamim
into the house [of a (sefardi) mourner] 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).

This puzzles me. It's explicit on the MB (216 and 217) and the KSA (58)
that there are different brochas for different types of items:

What's the source that Ashkenazim don't hold of that, besides for Motzai
Shabbes? To elaborate:

The KSA (96:8) says you should mix some "pizem - ?????" into the
besomim , as it's Borai Minay Besomim according to all opinions.

The MB (297:1:1) says that you always say BMB during havdolo so as not to
get confused even though during the week each species has its own beracho
[and in angled brackets he gives a quick summation]. He ends off saying
that it would be preferable to use a BMB spice like pizam or negilach
(cloves - http://answers.com/clove, I assume.).


 - Danny

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 18:30:33 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re: Brochas over spices

Quoting Danny Schoemann <doniels@gmail.com>:
> This puzzles me. It's explicit on the MB (216 and 217) and the KSA
> (58) that there are different brochas for different types of items:

Sorry, please ignore that throw away comment because as you point out
it is misleading (ie wrong as written). What I might more correctly
say is that for some reason I have never encounted the kind of "brocha
collecting" amongst Ashkenazim in the way you sometimes seem to see it
amongst Sephardim.

For example, certain Sephardim (the Gibraltarians spring to mind) have,
after making kiddush but before making hamotzei on shabbas, various food
items (olives and others out on the table) just so they can enable them
to make more brochas, and not have the hamotzei cover these other items.
It is only after they have sampled all of these other items that they
then go wash and make hamotzei. This is supposed to have to do with
making up the requisite number of brochas on shabbas when one is likely
to be short, but I have seen it on other occasions, as well.

But I have never seen them do that with different kinds of spices (ie
line different kinds up to maximise the number of brochas and it never
occurred to me before that maybe you could do that with spices as well).

Chana Luntz

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 07:49:38 -0500
From: "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Sending food to someone sitting shiva

At 05:57 AM 01/24/2006, I wrote:
> I spoke with someone who is knowledgeable about these matters this
> morning. He is from a Chassidishe family and wears a Streimel on
> Shabbos.

Since I pride myself on being a Misnaged, I feel that I should have
explained why I included the statement that I spoke with someone who
is Chassidish and wears a Streimel. It was because Chana Luntz wrote,
"(It is not uncommon for Chassidim to have pick up various Sephardi
minhagim, so it may be that it went that route.)

I certainly did not mean to imply that being from a Chassidishe family
and wearing a Streimel gives one any special knowledge about Availes. >:-}

One can have this knowledge with or without being Chassidish.
Externalities do not necessarily mean that a person is knowledgeable. :-)

Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 14:43:22 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re: Sending Food to Someone Sitting Shiva

Quoting Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>:
>>Just as there must be answers that
>>people have brought to justify the one over the other, so the same 
>>answers can
>>be applied to the rest of the shiva.  Otherwise you could not do the seudas
>>havra'ah either.

> The Seudas Havra'ah is a special exception to the prohibition of not 
> sending food (for Ashkenazim) or other gifts. This seems to me to be 
> clear from the sefer that I quoted from before.

Can you explain how it is clear?  

The way your book phrases it "For his second meal, however, he is
permitted to eat his own food, even if it is still the first day of
mourning" which appears directly based on the language of the Shulchan
Aruch 378:1 "aval b'shniya mutar afilu b'yom reshon".

However if what you were saying was correct then the language should
not be "mutar" or "is permitted", but it should rather be, but from the
second meal on he *must* eat of his own food, because of the prohibition
on receipt of gifts.

Note, however, that I am a bit too much of a purist to say rely,
without knowing more (especially about the level of authority of the
Rav in question), purely on an English "explain halacha to the masses"
type book, which is of necessity an over simplification of various issues
in any event, and by no means necessarily a great scholarly work.

Such works may be useful for learning purposes if they give you a lead
to the original sources (as well as having their place in practice,
particularly in a situation like aveilus, where it is very common to
suddenly need a quick synopsis of the halacha at short notice and in
difficult circumstances. It is what a teacher of mine once memorably
described as the "Can I put the chollent back on the blech scenario".
You are standing there holding a heavy chollent and all you need to know
is what you can do with it to save your aching arms, you are not looking
for a learned discussion on the macholkusim on chazara on shabbas).

So let us think a little bit more about the underlying sources. You have
identified a Rema who prohibits the giving of gifts to a mourner.
Obviously to fully understand this Rema, further research would need to
be done. What is the source of the Rema? Is it Ashkenazi practice -
ie minhag (this would seem to be the most likely since not practiced
by the Sephardim but there are other alternatives)? Is it based on a
pasuk or gemora, and if so what? If it is based on a pasuk or gemora,
are their alternative intepretations that others (such as the Sephardim)
may have taken? The Rema clearly links this to the asking after the
welfare of others "shelas shalom", given the location of his comment and
the shabbas connection he then makes, but the linkage does not appear
straightforward. Note that the Taz and the Be'er Hetev quotes the Bach
that this applies in relation invitations to eat out with others, or to
invite others to eat with you, but these are clearly not quite the same
as sending gifts - and the Be'er Hagola does not appear to help.

As I am on lunch break at work, I only have access to a Shulchan Aruch
and shas (I keep a copy at work), so I am unable to look in the Tur and
Beis Yosef, maybe they will give some clues.

On the other hand, the source for sending food for the seudas havra'ah
does appear to be rooted in both psukim and the gemora. In that regard,
you book does seem to give some useful leads to some sources, so lets
take them on face value as you quoted:

>1. Mo'ed Katan 27b. 

The relevant piece is as follows:

Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rav an avel on the first day is forbidden
to eat from bread which is his this is learnt from what Hashem said to
Yechezkel "lechem anashim lo tochel" (24:17) [NB We learn a lot from the
specific commands of Hashem to Yechezkel not to do in this specific case
about what a mourner is generally required to do].

>Ateres Zekeinjm (~378) cites Rabbejnu Yerucham's reason 
>for this law: In his grief over the passing of his dear one, the mourner does 
>not want to eat, for he wishes that he, too,  were dead. Therefore, Hashem 
>commands others to bring him their food and see to it that he eats.
>Since such bitter feelings are most pronounced at the time of the first meal 
>after the funeral, friends and neighbors should provide at least that meal; 
>afterwards - even on the first day - the mourners may eat their own food.

But this reason would rather seem to suggest that while it is essential
that a mourner not eat of his own food for the first meal, and hence
the neighbours must provide "at least that meal", even if it is a big
trouble for them, it would be a higher level for them to provide more,
to make absolutely sure that indeed he does continue to eat during the
shiva (it is almost a kind of pekuach nefesh argument, with that most
acute during the first meal, but one can understand the desire to be
machmir even later). Even if the Rema were based on some pasuk or gemora,
then if seeing that the mourner eats overrides the prohibition on gifts,
then seeing that he eats later in the shiva should presumably as well.

>  As his own explanation, Ateres Zekeinim suggests that the mitzvah of 
>providing the first meal is part of the general process of consolation, for it 
>shows the mourner that we are concerned for his welfare and do not reject him 
>to fend for himself.

Again this would seem to have application beyond the first meal.
Especially as only a limited number of people have the opportunity to
provide the first meal, there may well be others who wish to show the
mourner that they are concerned for his welfare and do not reject him
to fend for himself (note that this appears similar to the reason why it
is suggested we are makil regarding enquiring after a mourner's welfare,
as is discussed by numbers of sources).

>  Sheivet Yehudah (~378) takes a different tack in explaining the meal. If the 
> mourner were left to himself, he might seek to drown his grief in food 
> and drink on this bitter day, and might even become intoxicated, all of which 
> would dishonor the deceased. If others feed him, however, self-respect would
> force him to eat and drink moderately. Sheivet Yehudah suggests that if the 
> mourner wishes to fast,therefore, on that day, he is permitted to do so.

Again, this risk must surely be present during the remainder of the Shiva,
although to a lesser degree. If it overules the Rema during the first
meal, why not later? At the very least you need it to be clear that
when the Rema is prohibiting gifts, he is prohibiting gifts given even
when this reason is potentially present.

>2. Shulchan Aruch 378:1. However, Chiddushei R'Akiva Eiger (bc. cit.) cites 
>Roke'ach as following  the ruling of Tosafos (Mo'ed Katan 27b) that 
>the mourner is forbidden to eat his own food the entire first day of mourning. 
> Bi'ur HaGra also cites the ruling of Tosafos. The same ruling is given by 
> Tanya Rabbasi (~68), citing the chaver, R' Tzidkiah ben R' Avraham l-IaRofeh, 
> zal. This is found in his work,Shibolei HaLeket, Hi!chos Semachos , at the 
> beginning of 23. And the same ruling is given by Ravan at the end of Mo'ed 
> Katan.

So it is clear that some rishonim and achronim hold that indeed the
obligation on the neighbours extends beyond the first meal to at least
the first day (without anybody worrying about the Rema). Again if the
reasoning of Rema was such a concern you would expect that all of these
would take that into account when debating this extension.

It would seem therefore somewhat surprising that the Rema should suddenly
be used to prevent further extension so that what is not only mutar but
obligatory either for the first meal or the first day is suddenly ossur
for the rest of the shiva, without any clear source and statement to
that effect from anybody.

This is even without the further fillip the existence of a widespread
minhag gives to the matter (Im lo naviim hem, bnei navvim hem).
And especially as it doesn't seem enormously difficult to provide a
resolution to the problem. Intuitively one would have said that a
prohibition on gifts is because the receipt of gifts causes and is
intended to cause simcha (similar to the invitations to a meal of the
Bach to which the Taz linked the din). But it is almost impossible to
see how food sent during a shiva will cause the recipient simcha - the
last thing he wants is to be in the position of receiving such food.
Consolation, maybe, relief at not having to trouble himself at such a
difficult time, maybe, but simcha?

> I spoke with someone  who is knowledgeable about these matters this 
> morning. He is from a Chassidishe family and wears a Streimel on 
> Shabbos. He said, "The Sephardim do send food, but we do not." He 
> went on to say that in America people are not careful about this, 
> because they do not know better.

This minhag is, however, much wider spread than America. I have seen or
heard of it practiced in Australia, South Africa, England and Israel
amongst Ashkenazim. It was on that basis that I described it as a
minhag haolam. That is a pretty strong minhag to be attacking.

Chana Luntz

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 15:06:33 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Sending Food to Someone Sitting Shiva

R"n Chana Luntz quoted Dayan Toledano:
> 24:2: "Nowadays, however the custom is to be lenient with the
> above laws, as the enquiry about the mourner's welfare is done
> in the form of consolation and comfort so he may be able to bear
> his loss" {Footnote: Maran 385:1. And know that the custom in
> these days is to be lenient in these dinim about sheilat shalom
> even during the shiva and this is the reason that our sheilat
> shalom is in the way of consolation and comfort to the mourner
> and to lighten upon him his pain. ...

In order to make sure that I understand him correctly, I'll paraphrase
it in my own words: Nowadays, it is okay to say "Hello" to a mourner and
to ask him how he's feeling, because this will console him and help him
feel better.

So, if I understood that correctly, here's my question: If the minhag
has legitimately changed, then it must be that in previous generations,
saying "Hello" and asking how he feels had a different effect than it
does nowadays. It is difficult for me to imagine what that other effect
might have been. Can someone explain this?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 10:31:02 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Sending Food to Someone Sitting Shiva

In Avodah V16 #98 dated 1/24/2006 R' Yitzchok Levine writes:
> I spoke with someone who is knowledgeable about these matters this
> morning. He is from a Chassidishe family and wears a Streimel on
> Shabbos. He said, "The Sephardim do send food, but we do not." He went
> on to say that in America people are not careful about this, because
> they do not know better.

I don't know about that business of "they don't know any better" but
I'm skeptical. When I sat shiva with my very chareidi mother, brothers,
and sister -- in Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh -- people sent in food all week
and it would have been very difficult for us to have eaten hot meals any
other way, despite the efforts of my sisters-in-law and brother-in-law
(who live in different neighborhoods, and who did their best, but also
had families at home to take care of).

People were coming from 7AM to midnight and the phone never stopped.
We never got around to eating supper until midnight but the chessed
of neighbors in bringing in food was needed and appreciated. I am not
knowledgeable about these halachos but my brothers are talmidei chachamim
and would not have accepted food from outside if that was not the right
thing to do. We could have subsisted on cereal and milk if necessary.

BTW re a related thread, in which RYL wrote that he did not eat food from
/anyone/ else's house, and discarded the food that was sent to his home
during shiva -- I think that, too, is an unwarranted chumra. My brothers
had no compunction about eating food from close friends and neighbors.

I can understand that in the case of a godol or rav of a community he
might prefer to avoid eating anyone else's food (RYL gave examples of
several such gedolim). As someone else wrote, there might be a shailah of
deriving benefit from his position, or of gaining benefit from someone
who might come to a beis din on which he would be a dayan.

More important IMO, there is also the fear that when you are dealing
with hundreds of people, you really cannot trust them all to abide by
proper kashrus standards, and to start making ad hoc distinctions --
"From X's kitchen I will eat, from Y's kitchen I won't eat" -- may
become so impractical (and might lead to so many hurt feelings) that
it is better to just say, "I won't eat from anybody's kitchen."

But among ordinary people who are not in such leadership positions,
I think such a policy might cause an element of unwarranted
self-righteousness and pride (not that I am saying that about a particular
person) and also an unnecessary distancing between friends and neighbors.

It doesn't seem like a good Jewish practice to me, not normative and
not conducive to unity and friendship. What kind of community closeness
would we have if /everyone/ adopted such a policy and no one accepted
Shabbos invitations or gifts of food? This is not a traditional Jewish
way but very UNtraditional.

 -Toby Katz

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 13:47:25 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

Tobky Katz wrote:
> it seems perfectly obvious to me that airplanes cannot stay up in the air
> bederech hateva, and therefore every plane trip is a manifestation of the
> fact that Hashem performs miracles for us on a constant basis. Despite
> my knowledge of His constant beneficence, however, I am always tense
> until the plane is safely down on the ground again

Why is a plane anymore a miracle then any other modern technology?
Planes fly because of the laws of physics not miracles. In fact, travel
by plane is much safer then any other form of travel by any statistical
measure and therefore there is less reason to be nervous when flying
then when driving your car.

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 16:27:08 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

On 1/24/06, Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1/24/06, T613K@aol.com <T613K@aol.com> wrote:
>> it seems perfectly obvious to me
>> that airplanes cannot stay up in the air bederech hateva, and therefore
>> every plane trip is a manifestation of the fact that Hashem performs
>> miracles for us on a constant basis.

> Why should this be considered not b'derech ha'tevah? It works according
> to the laws of physics, which is teva. Why should it be considered a nes?

Intentionally or unintentionally, RnTK has provided us with a beautiful
reworking for ma'aminim of the well known quotation, "any sufficiently
advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

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