Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 100

Tuesday, January 24 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 09:42:35 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

>  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.  [--old TK]

>>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?<< [--RMF]

Though airplanes don't fall flat (luckily), sometimes my attempts at
humor do. I neglected to add a smiley face, sorry. (However, I really
do find the laws of physics to be counterintuitive, hence, to a liberal
arts major -- miraculous.)

 -Toby Katz

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 13:06:03 +0000
From: saulweinreb@comcast.net
Tefilas Haderech nowadays

I'm sorry that I am jumping in on this topic late in the game and I
haven't seen all of the previous posts. I just wanted to say that I
learned from my rabbeim that tefilas haderech should be said whenever
one feels that he is in danger on the road. Although leaving a city may
be mechayev tefilas haderech, this is no reason not to say the tefilah
if it is for example during a storm and the roads are treacherous or if
you are on a dangerous highway. Arguably, someone should probably say
tefilas haderech every time he or she gets into a car. If more people
get killed in car accidents than in airplanes, and one is Modeh that on
a plane you must say tefilas haderech, than certainly everyone who gets
in a car should say it. In fact, the overwhelming majority of deaths in
car accidents occur within a few miles form home, not on highways far
from home.

There is no problem of bracha levatala when you are saying a tefila which
is a bakashas rachamim. As long as you are being mispallel to Hashem it is
an appropriate tefila. In fact, even to say shemone esrei an extra time
would be muttar as a tefilas nedava, the only problem being that most
people couldn't fully concentrate and would end up making a bracha for
nothing. This would not apply to a short vtefila like tefilas haderech.

RTK mentioned how she is nervous about flying on an airplane, I would
submit that NOT to be nervous when travelling might be considered some
sort of gaavah. Just remember Yaakov Avinu how he was afraid when he
said "Katonti mikol ..." if Yaakov Avinu thought he didn't have enough
zechusim al achas kamma vekamma ......

In short to say tefilas haderech is a tefila, the din of leaving a city
is simply a mechayev, it does not mean that you can't say it at other
times. Indeed, I was taught that if you are really nervous on a plane,
you can say it more than once on the same trip. There is no limit on
being mispallel to HKB'H.

Shaul Weinreb

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 07:59:21 -0600
From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@gmail.com>
Re: Tefilas Haderech nowadays

In v16n94, I noted a she'elah about travelling between two cities each
surrounded by unpopulated areas, situated 72 minutes apart, but when
travelling between them one passes through other cities on the way.

> Consequently, I ran into a she'elah when traveling from Sunnyvale, CA
> to Davis, CA (by the route shown at http://tinyurl.com/7mupn). Between
> leaving the city limits of the San Francisco Bay Area (between Fremont
> and Pleasanton) and reaching Davis, CA there were more than 72 minutes
> of travel, but I passed through several other geographically distinct
> towns on the way. The question is: Assuming Sephardi minhag and ROY's
> ruling on time, does this require ThD and Gomel? (I haven't asked my
> Rav yet, since the question is merely academic when I'm in Chicago,
> so I can't give you an answer, but b'li neder, I'll ask in a couple days.)

I asked my Rav this morning, and he said that this trip does require
ThD and Gomel.


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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 14:06:47 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
RE: Jewish Clothes

R' Aryeh Stein quoted:
> With his encyclopedic knowledge of Medrash, he immediately responded
> that the color of Yissochor's stone in the Choshen was black. This is
> the source of black for those who are the contemporary Yissochors -
> the Bnei Torah.

The only problem with this is that Bnei Torah in pre-war European
Yeshivas, including those in R' Elchanan's own yeshiva, did NOT wear black
(nor did they have beards or payists behind their ears). If you look at
any pictures from that time you will see that the bachurim wore stylish
grey suits and grey hats. These included future Roshei Yeshiva such as R'
YM Feinstein, the founder of Beis Hatalmud, R' Shach, and many others.

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 07:03:04 -0600
From: Lisa Liel <lisa@starways.net>
Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

"Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu> wrote:
>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).

This is true.  But with all due respect to RMS, there is a difference 
between saying that history is not the purpose of the Torah and 
saying that peshat in the Torah is not historically true.

We know very little, for instance, about the Avot.  Even if we were 
to include all of the midrashic material, we still have a few dozen 
vignettes covering all of their lives.  The historical Avraham Avinu 
is all but unknown to us.  The Torah gives us only the bits that were 
necessary to teach us what Hashem wanted.  If we knew all the details 
of Avraham Avinu's life, we might see someone very different 
overall.  But that is a far cry from saying that the details of his 
life that the Torah does tell us didn't actually happen.  Or didn't 
happen as described.

>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.

Is there a source for this?  The essence of the Torah is completely 
unrelated to the historical reality of the Avot as well, at least in 
the sense you're using.  But that doesn't mean it's possible to say 
that they didn't exist other than allegorically.  The Mabul may 
indeed be described to us in ways that have allegorical messages, but 
that's on a level of drash.  Not of pshat.

>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.

Is there a source for this?

I sometimes think that the term "faith" is misleading.  Perhaps 
"confidence" would be better.  Or "trust".  Science is not a finished 
product.  Much of it is well established.  Much of it is also 
conjecture piled upon supposition.  And when it comes to a field like 
science, that's okay.  Theories get tested, and eventually, if they 
aren't correct, that comes out (in principle, at least).  Giving 
current scientific paradigms a veto over our understanding of the 
Torah is not that different than giving current societal norms and 
values a veto.


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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 08:20:43 -0500
From: "Allen Gerstl" <acgerstl@hotmail.com>
Pas Akkum-Kashrus

From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
                                     .   .   .
> 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?...

For a summary of  the (non-kashrut) issues as to pat palter see:

(See also: http://www.whirlwind-design.com/madbaker/hlaf.html
for a 1047 (!) Anglo-Saxon law governing the ingredients of bakery bread)


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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 09:38:03 -0500
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: Pas Akkum - Kashrus

Yitzchok Levine wrote:
> The following is from http://www.kashrut.com/articles/PasAkum/
> "There is another issue that comes to mind, namely, why aren't we 
> concerned about the fact that the non-Jew made this bread in his 
> utensils, which presumably were used for “tarfus” – non-kosher food? 
> I.e. it is not enough that the ingredients are kosher, the utensils must 
> also be “kosher”. The *Shach (3)* explains that you don’t have to worry 
> about tarfus (non-kosher absorptions) because there is a presumption 
> that the utensils are not *“Bney yoman” *(used that day), i.e. they have 
> not been used within the last 24 hours. I.e. the absorptions in the pot 
> are only potent for 24 hours after use. After 24 hours, anything 
> absorbed in the walls of the pot has no effect."

> It seems to me that the implication here is that the ingredients that 
> were used to bake the bread were kosher.  Bread was flour, yeast and 
> water, and presumably nothing else. This is not the case today.  All 
> sorts of things such as oil are added to commercial bread today. Even 
> home baked bread is often made from mixes.

Having established that before the G'Zeirah of Pas Akkum, there was a
Hazaqa that bread by default was kosher from an ingredients standpoint,
I asked at what point did we drop that assumption, and why?

Your concern of 'How can we be certain?', (i.e. Safek) has to be pretty
convincing for it to break precedent. As I pointed out, there was room for
(far-reaching) Safek before the G'Zeirah, the Akkum could have had meat
in the oven at the same time (Stam Keilim would not apply), or used lard
or milk in the recipe. These Safeikos were clearly not strong enough to
cast a doubt on the bread's hezqas kashrus.

Comparing apples to apples, the bread in question should be bakery
or artisanal bread, not supermarket shelf-stable frankenbread. The
ingredients used today are not at all different, bakers may at times add
anti-staling agents, and few specialty breads call for oil in the dough.
Will you assume that these ingredients (if ever added) are derived from
Ma'Akhalos Assuros and are Nosen Ta'am so to establish a valid Safeik
in bread's Kosher status?

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 10:49:18 -0500
From: "L. E. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Pas Akkum - Kashrus

>Comparing apples to apples, the bread in question should be bakery 
>or artisanal bread, not supermarket shelf-stable frankenbread. The 
>ingredients used today are not at all different, bakers may at times 
>add anti-staling agents, and few specialty breads call for oil in 
>the dough. Will you assume that these ingredients (if ever added) 
>are derived from Ma'Akhalos Assuros and are Nosen Ta'am so to 
>establish a valid Safeik in  bread's Kosher status?

I was told (second hand) that when Rabbi Moshe Heineman first came to
Baltimore, he inspected the kosher bakeries there. The story was that
he found approximately 100 ingredients he felt were questionable. I do
not know if any of them were used in the bread being sold. Again this
information came to me second hand.

All sorts of things today may be added to flour (and everything
else). From http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/articles/single_print/13

"Bakeries are discontinuing the addition of potassium bromate to
their flour because of a possible cancer concern. Increasingly, this
industry is making use of enzymes as baking aids. Benefits include
improved dough handling, whiter flour, better crust, and longer
freshness. Some of those enzymes may be animal-derived, but all of
them require supervision. Likewise, preservatives also have to be
natural. These include calcium and sodium propionates and erythorbates
and all fermentation chemicals."

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 12:19:54 -0500
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: Pas Akkum - Kashrus

[R Yitzchok] L. E. Levine wrote:
> I was told (second hand) that when Rabbi Moshe Heineman first came to 
> Baltimore, he inspected the kosher bakeries there. The story was that he 
> found approximately 100 ingredients he felt were questionable. I do not 
> know if any of them were used in the bread being sold....

I don't doubt that Kashrus organizations would find and report about
anything plausible that would justify their involvement. I'm not looking
to discredit them either. (A question I didn't want to raise at this
time - Can Kashrus organizations be Qove'ah, for Halakha purposes, the
Hezqas Kashrus or lack thereof of any particular item based on a biased
visit to a plant, biased because it is likely that they were looking
for new clients?)

It's also unfair to shift the focus of the original discussion to the 
particulars of which enzymes are commonly used in commercial bread 
baking, but suffice it to say, that when the question was raised whether 
bread today still has a Hezqas Kashrus, the response was that we have a 
Safeik whether the bread contains any additives, and if it does have 
additives, there is a Safeik whether the additives are enzymes whose 
source is non-kosher animals (assuming that to be an automatic no-no in 
its own right).

Hud'ra Kush'ya L'Dukhta. Is there a Yoreh Deah reason to avoid bread 
baked by any Palter, Akkum or otherwise, without supervision?

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 10:41:09 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Gut instincts vs Halachic Man

RSBA asked on Areivim:
> And how would you explain the fact that 600,000
> Jews [many more really], all sang the SAME tune and words??
> It HAD to be al pi nevueh or Ruach hakodesh..

Wasn't the shirah sung responsively -- Mosheh Rabbeinu followed by
BY? If so, it's not that challenging. Although, the tune being Mosheh
Rabbeinu's would still embue it with no small qedushah, and make it a
model worth following.

I think it's safe to assume (a phrase that pretty much guarantees that
/someone/ on list will think it's a bad assumption) that no matter what
Moshe borrowed from Mitzri music theory, a tune he composed would be
shaped by the fact that He was an ideal Jew (to the greatest extent
ever embodied).

I find it interesting that someone who argues for a cerebralized
"halachic man" (which I see no evidence of in the book) on Avodah is also
acknowledging the concept of music having Jewish and non-Jewish flavors.

It's like what I wrote about coffee tables: a true Ish haHalakhah is
changed not only intellectually, but down to the gut instinct. So that
he can rely on his creativity and intuition in pasqening. And even his
choice of coffee table isn't divorcable from his Torah.

I would say that basic who-you-are is the ikkar, however, if you're
going to get it right, it must come from halakhah. Gefeel is therefore
a consequence, but not merely a by-product.

Another thing worth noting is that in the discussion of shelo asani ishah,
RtSB writes:
> ...Mitzvot were given (besides the basic issue of Sachar) to teach and
> bring us closer to Hashem.

Whereas I am coming from the other fork, sheleimus ha'adam. So, I've
been speakiung of halakhah leading to sheleimus, which is more defined
by the core of your being than ideas on the periphery. However, RtSB
could have made the parallel poi, since deveiqus too is not about the
ideas one thinks about at the periphery of one's psyche, but the ideas
one internalizes.


Micha Berger             Despair is the worst of ailments. No worries
micha@aishdas.org        are justified except: "Why am I so worried?"
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 20:11:18 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Shiras HaYam

I posted on Areivim that the Shiras Hayam may not have been sung to a
melody, but recited as poetry. It says regarding Miriam that she took a
"tof" and the women followed her with "tupim" and "m'cholos." /Then/
they recited the shira. It may be that they played the instruments and
danced during the recitation, but then again maybe not. And even if it
does mean that dancing and the playing of the instruments took place
simultaneously, these percussion instruments would not have produced a
melody (one can work up a good drumbeat sending people to dance without
producing a tune), and they may have simply "sung" the poetry to that beat
without a tune. If there was somewhat of a tune, it would seem as likely
as not that it was some version of the chant by which we lain the shira.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 20:23:21 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: FW: Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

On Sun, Jan 22, 2006 at 08:46:50AM -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
: It remains very perplexing in my eyes and deserves something better than
: an answer of "Fun Ah Kashe Shtarb'd Min Nisht".

Yes it does. That doesn't mean we're capable of more.

You see, I don't have such problems. Once you buy the Maharal's idea
that reality doesn't have to be consistent, these questions fall by
the wayside. Noach was zocheh to nissim, the contemporary scientist,
even frum ones do not. They experience conflicting realities.

On Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 12:51:26PM -0500, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: 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...

It's clear to me as well that the *essence* of Torah is not its history.

However, when using a story to illustrate a point one can use history
of myth. When the mesorah gives every indication that a particular story
is history, it's making a non-*essential* but still very real point.

All you've shown is that denying the mabul isn't kefirah. Not that it
isn't whittling mesorah down to fit science.

:                                          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...

Thor was a "god of the gaps". Lightining wasn't understood, and it was
powerful and scarey. So, they proposed a god to explain it, and thus
safety comes from keeping him happy and understanding it boils down to
reading his myth and moods. Once they felt they understood lightening
scientifically, they could do away with Thor.

It the same attitude as "There is nothing left to do but pray". Aren't we
supposed to pray WHILE there are still other things left to do? Doesn't
our belief in a scientific resolution coexist with our belief in a
theistic one?

The idea that the mesorah includes beliefs, even as non-essentials,
which are simply stopgaps until science gives us a "real answer" is a
"god of the gaps" approach to religion.

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

And the avos? Are they too fair game? Or is there a difference
between before and after "Arami oveid avi"? I find this game
surreal. (Acknowledged that that's an otherwise content-free statement
of my own emotional makeup.)

: 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...

But neither is the option before us. The question isn't on life without
explanations, but life with conflicting explanations.


Micha Berger             Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
micha@aishdas.org        greater vanity in others; it makes us vain,
http://www.aishdas.org   in fact, of our modesty.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              -Louis Kronenberger, writer (1904-1980)

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 21:03:13 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Re: Timtum Halev - Tie in to "Shelo asani..."

Let's start by going back to the subject line -- the tie-in to what I
wrote about timtum haleiv.

I wrote that I did not see the purpose in positing metaphysical forces
other than HQBH responding to "ba'asher hu sham", which in turn is a
consequence of the person's choices. Thus, I suggested that "timtum
haleiv" is the natural consequence of cheit. By aligning oneself with
a negative middah, one has a harder time absorbing the positive opposite.

What would this mean WRT mitzvos and sechar?

In "sheleimus" terminology, we would say that mitzvos improve the soul,
and sechar is the consequence of that improvement. The sick body feels
the pain of illness, and the sick soul feels the pain of onesh.

In "deveiqus" language, as posted here recently by RtSB, the mitvah
connects one to the Borei. Through this greater channel, more shefa can
reach the individual.

IOW, it's not whether halakhah or the gut instinct that is the
side-effect. Sechar is.

Which is why one should be shelo al menas leqabeil peras.

On Fri, Jan 20, 2006 at 06:59:21AM -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
: So... men make a Bracha because they love Torah so much? Why would they
: love increased ritual without any benefit what-so-ever to the soul? Lest
: you say there ...IS... benefit, than that ...IS... the Schar....

The benefit is not the sechar. Mitzvos are for Hashem's own purpose.
The positive outcome for ourselves is a side-effect.

:> Again, I don't know if women can or cannot get as much schar as men,
:> but this question is not a good one. 

: If you concede that women are inferior in the Schar department because
: they do not have as many Mitzvos as men, then the Bracha makes sense...

Again, who said they don't do as many mitzvos as men? They may do fewer
kinds of mitzvos, for which men are happy -- we can do more of Ratzon
haBorei. But who said they don't move their bechirah point just as much
as men do, producing the level of sheleimus?

Perhaps, said tongue half in cheek: Nashim da'atan qalos means that
their bechirah points move around more easily. Thus, they can achieve
more change in fewer decisions.

On Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 12:51:21AM -0500, Samuel Svarc wrote:
: 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?

The latter.

: 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?

Because, as pointed out, the berakhah isn't about sechar. It's about
the opportunity to do His Will. One feels special when their father
entrusted them with a bigger job, regardless of whether their father
will reward them for it. Why not for their Father as well?

: 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...

That would be true if sechar was a direct consequence of the mitzvah.
But it's not. Hashem judges us "ba'asher hu sham", for what we are.
Thus it's mitzvah -> self -> sechar. And with different selves, the
sechar will differ. Which is the point of another mishnah, that we can
not know secharan shel mitzvos.

On Tue, Jan 24, 2006 at 09:03:09AM +0200, Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:
: 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.

First, I would say that the basic purpose of mitzvos can be phrased as
closeness to Hashem, but sechar is a side-effect of that not the purpose
itself. So, there's a correlation between the two in terms of magnitude,
but they aren't identical.

But let's think about this step-by-step.

Having more chiyuvim means having more opportunities to be a metzuveh
ve'oseh. It also means more opportunities to violate an asei.

This should lead to a wider range of sechar amongst men than amongst
women. We play the game at higher stakes.

Everyone is playing a fair game, since more opportunity goes hand in
hand with more dangers.

As RtSB writes, let's take the concept of "nashim tzidqaniyos" to be about
a higher starting point amongst women. Not that this would necessarily
mean more sechar, since sechar is a function of choice and change --
not standing on an absolute scale.

Between the two, it could well mean that men are capable of greater
deveiqus / sheleimus, but only those who reach that part of our wider
bell curve.


Micha Berger             Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
micha@aishdas.org        greater vanity in others; it makes us vain,
http://www.aishdas.org   in fact, of our modesty.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              -Louis Kronenberger, writer (1904-1980)

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