Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 108

Tuesday, January 31 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 05:54:07 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: women, mitzvot and sachar

> ... while people tend to think of mitzvos shehazeman grama as
> being tangential to a woman's role in life, getting married and
> having children come pretty close to a lot of people's definition
> of the tafkid of a woman. So why is it optional? Why would it seem
> that the halacha seems to say, -- well it is a nice to have (and
> sure you get schar for it) but if you want to you can walk away,
> no taynas? Why is that the fundamentals of women's lives are not
> actually determined by the dictates of the halacha, in the way
> men's are? Why does the halacha not seem to recognise this concept
> of tafkid in the most basic way?

I think it is because of the inherent dangers of pregnancy as well as
the pain involved. The Torah does not mandate for mankind things which
automatically give them pain and possibly cause death. The Mitzvah does
not cause pain or death to men hence for them it is an obligation.

But I concede the apparent imbalance... the Stirah. It seems quite
absurd that the requirement of Pru Urvu mandated on men is at the mercy
of individuals who at their discretion may refuse. In theory men could
be prevented from ever being MeKayem the Mitzvah if all women exercised
their legitimate option not to get married. That of course would mean
the end of the human race. But at least in theory the commandment is
conditional on women cooperating. Yet the Mitzvah was not given to us
in conditional terms. Pru uRvu is an unconditional Mitzvah for men.

I guess that the answer might lie in the recognition by the Torah of human
nature. The human race wants to reproduce... to perpetuate itself. It is
human nature. Furthermore it is a still Mitzvah for women to procreate
even if it is not a required one. Since there is danger and pain involved
for women, the Torah in its infinite mercy did not mandate it for them
allowing those women who do not want to go through it, to have the option
not to... without the consequences of being Over an Issur Asseh.

But when it comes to the Schar of this Mitzvah... is it possible to
say that even though she is an Eino Metzuve VeOseh, that her Schar is
equal or greater than that of a man? I think the answer might be yes,
the Schar is greater, because even though there exists the principle
of Gadol Ha Metzveh... that is only true in cases where all things are
equal. In this case things are definitely not equal.


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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 06:11:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: the Torah's response to sex offenders

Joe Slater <avodah@slatermold.com> wrote:
> Rapes such as these are identified by the fact that the participants
> were not married and that the intercourse took place in a secluded
> place. Many of them were undoubtedly consensual, and I don't think
> a subsequent marriage would necessarily have been compromised.

Onnes U'Mefateh means rape and seduction. The punishment is the same
for both. You're OK with this? 

> When the
> intercourse was nonconsensual (i.e., when what we would call rape had
> actually occurred) it's possible that the girl might agree to marriage
> anyway. Many rapes take place between people who know each other;

You can devise a scenario that makes the situation a bit more
palatable. But the Torah doesn't make those distinctions. It bluntly
equates rape and seduction and says the punishment options are either
a forced permanent marriage or a fine. I ask you again: If your 12
year old daughter were raped... even it were by the neighborhood hero,
you'd consider him fine husband material? You'd be OK with this Shiddach?
Mazel Tov?

It seems inconceivable to me.

[Email #2. -mi]

Cantor Wolberg <cantorwolberg@cox.net> wrote:
> HM wrote:
>> Certainly the Maaseh with Dinah and Schem brought out more than just a
>> fine in how her brothers treated it. They mass murdered the entire town.
>> So it can't just be that attitudes about rape were looked at differently.

> That would be a great argument except that you're overlooking one major
> difference. The low life of Sh'chem were not Jewish.

That's true and of course it enters into the equation. But I think it is
also true that it was the rape that really upset them more than anything
else. I can't imagine the Torah telling a story about some other injustice
to Dinah that would have brought about a similar response.

This Halacha brought down in the Torah has always been troubling to me.


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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 16:43:55 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: the Torah's response to sex offenders

On Mon, Jan 30, 2006 at 06:11:58AM -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
: You can devise a scenario that makes the situation a bit more
: palatable. But the Torah doesn't make those distinctions. It bluntly
: equates rape and seduction ...

The Torah empowers the girl's father to make that distinction.
And thereby it avoids the problem the US courts have determining whether
the act was consensual relations or "date rape".

On another note, I too was taught (by a rebbe in YU, which means RMWillig,
RNAlpert and RDLifshitz are the most likely sources) that the kippah
was used for things other than feeding barley to the condemned killer.

Beis din is no less charged with preserving an orderly society as the 7
mitzvos charge Benei Noach to have laws to do so. Dangerous rapists had
to be dealt with. And even if the Torah didn't mandate a particular manner
how, BD still had the chiyuv to do so in the manner they thought best.


Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 23:53:24 +1100
From: "meir rabi" <meirabi@optusnet.com.au>
enzymes in honey & cheese

>If an enzyme needs supervision, why is honey kosher? (and the related

Now that we've figured out that honey is kosher in spite of its being a
product created/converted only through an enzyme of a non-kosher species,
we may wish to explore why cheese created/converted through an enzyme
is different.

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 18:45:49 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
choni hameagel

I am now learning the sugya of choni hameagel and it seems very strange
to me. Does anyone know of sources that discuss it? A search on the bar
ilan cd gave very little information

1. His question of dreaming for 70 years does not seem very strong.
The fact that Jews in exile dreamt of the return for 70 years does not
imply that one can sleep continuously for 70 years

2. At the end of the 70 years he is not recognized and dies because
he doesnt fit in. What connection does this have to the beginning of
the story?

3. Any connection between this story and the previous story of his
requesting rain and not moving from the circle and his reroach by Shimon
ben Shetach?

On another note the Yerushalmi seems to connect the 70 year sleep directly
to the time of the Babylonian time. That would put Choni hamagel at
the time of churban bayit rishon rather than a contemporary of Shimon
ben shetach

Eli Turkel

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 13:13:59 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
RE: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

R Gil Student wrote:
> I think this raises an important point: What is the status of
> non-ikkarim? Is the fact that a belief does not have the status of an
> ikkar emunah mean that one has the right to disagree with it at will or
> just that someone who disputes it does not receive the stigma of heresy
> but is still wrong.

My understanding of the Tosafos Yom Tov's position has already been
posted. I just want to apply it to RGS's questions.

As you may have since seen, the TYT defined "megaleh panim shelo
kalakhah" to the extent that the mishnah denies them cheileq le'olam
haba as including someone who find a new peshat even in "veTimna haysa
pilegesh". But that may just mean that the TYT is agreeing with the
Abarbanel (that there are no specific ikarim because everything is
an ikar).

Or, it could mean that perhaps it doesn't bestow a chalos sheim of kofeir,
but it's violating something equally grave.

> In Menachem Kellner's introduction to his translation of Abarbanel's
> Rosh Amanah, he states that Rambam's positing that there are ikkarim make
> philosophy possible while Abarbanel's final position that everything in
> Judaism is an ikkar makes philosophy impossible. He seems to be taking
> the stance that disagreeing with a non-ikkar is "mutar" and not "patur
> aval assur".

I don't think I would agree. There would be room for philosophy even
according to the Abarbanel's point, in two arenas. 1- There are many
things about which the mesorah is silent. 2- It could allow one to choose
one tzad of a machloqes over the other.

Shinnar, Meir wrote:
> There are allegorical interpretations of gan eden (IIRC abarbanel, and
> different mefarshim of the rambam, and rav kook seems to endorse it as
> well), although this is close to ma'aseh breishit.

Rav Kook's approach is to look at the allegory of Gan Eden. He doesn't
write whether the mashal was historical or ahistorical.

> Furthermore, depends on your definition of allegory. The rambam's
> statement that any events wherea an angel appears did not occur literally
> but in a prophetic dream applies also after ma'ase breshit - eg, to the
> beginning of parshat vayera. Would understanding the flood not as a
> moshol, but occuring in noah's prohetic vision be better?

I think this is tangential. The question isn't whether we have the right
to declare something as an ahistorical allegory or not. It's whether we
have the right to assign wildly new peshatim in contradiction to the
mesoretic options in order to accomodate data (synthetic judgements)
from outside mesorah. The question is equally strong whether we call it
prophetic vision of real events in order to do so, or whether we call
it allegory. (Despite my chasing this particular wild goose in the past.)

However, in the case of the Rambam on parashas Vayeira (et al), he DOES
bring a maqor from within the mesorah. R' Chiya haGadol in Bereishis
Rabba 48.

> The rashba's comments indicate that that was a thread - which is far more
> extreme than anything proposed - and we know that it was held by major
> rabbanim in Provence (the Meiri defended them against the rashba, even
> though he doesn't himself necessarily advocate that). Dismissing people
> as aristotelians doesn't mean they don't count....

I agree with the last point. It would be folly to dismiss the opinion
of the philosophical rishonim from R' Saadia Gaon, to the Rambam, to
the Ran and Ikkarim.

But just to repeat mys,lf) there is no indication the Provencial rishonim
meant that the avos were symbols to the exclusion of being historical
figures. Yes, we see the Rashba thought they were. But I haven't seen
the primary sources. "Maaseh avos siman labanim" means that their lives
are metaphor, implicitly the lives themselves, not the text of the Torah
describing their lives.


Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org         - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 17:35:52 EST
From: MSDratch@aol.com
Re: The Torah's response to sex offenders

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Arie Folger  <afolger@aishdas.org> wrote:
>> AFAIK, the woman doesn't have to  accept the proposal. 

> Can anyone imagine what the chances of such a  mariage succeeding are?
> But more importantly what kind of a punishment  is it for the rapist to
> force him to marry the object of his rape? Which  victim would ever say
> yes to such a Shiduch? 

The reason for forcing the marriage (dependent, of course on the woman's
consent) was meant to protect her interests. In the premodern world,
a non-virgin, especially one that was raped, was "damaged goods" and
marrying her off was next to impossible. So, while the marriage to
her rapist was detestable, not being married in a "man's" world was
even worse.

Mark Dratch

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 19:03:01 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: the Torah's response to sex offenders

> On another note, I too was taught (by a rebbe in YU, which means RMWillig,
> RNAlpert and RDLifshitz are the most likely sources) that the kippah
> was used for things other than feeding barley to the condemned killer.

I'd love to see a source

> Beis din is no less charged with preserving an orderly society as the 7
> mitzvos charge Benei Noach to have laws to do so. 

Wasn't this the melech?

Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 20:26:25 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: the Torah's response to sex offenders

On Mon, Jan 30, 2006 at 07:03:01PM -0500, Rich, Joel wrote:
: Wasn't this the melech?

Not in bayis sheini.


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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 17:21:40 -0600
From: "Kohn, Shalom" <skohn@Sidley.com>
Whip Cream

On a can of aerosol whip cram (pareve), from one of the "heimishe" brands,
there appeared the following admonition: "Consult your rav before using
on shabbos".

Does anyone know the halachic issue being raised?


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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 22:35:00 -0800
From: "Doron Beckerman" <beck072@hotmail.com>
Re: The torah's response to sex offenders.

About Harry's comments on who would want such a Shidduch, it is germane
to point out that in some cultures,even today, a woman who is raped is
unable to marry. This happened to many women who were raped in Bosnia.
See here (pg. 14 second column) <http://pdf.dec.org/pdf_docs/pnacj322.pdf>

It may very well be that this was the outlook of the general populace
of the Middle East at the time of the giving of the Torah, which is at
least somewhat concerned about issues of family honor/shame as related
to sexuality ('Es Aviha Hi Mechallelles'), and therefore the option
of a Halachically mandated marriage to the perpetrator was offered to
the victim.

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 00:19:46 -0500
From: "Moshe & Ilana Sober" <sober@pathcom.com>
the Torah's response to sex offenders

The Ran in the beginning of his 11th Drasha explains that the laws of the
Torah are not designed to - and will not - create tikun m'dini. Instead,
the Torah commanded us to appoint a King, whose role is to create social
harmony, law and order.

Criminal law exists very much within a social/historical context - a
prohibition or punishment that's appropriate in one time or place may be
completely inappropriate in another. (For example - the thorny problem
of gun control. The legal status of guns should be completely different
in a rural environment where people regularly hunt deer or encounter
bears, or in pioneer settlements surrounded by hostile populations,
than it is in urban centers plagued by drugs and gang violence.) Thus,
while the Torah is quite specific about compensation (civil law), it does
not always set out specific punishments for crimes (except kidnapping
and murder). This is not because these crimes should go unpunished,
but because the punishment should be set by the King and the court/legal
system under his authority to fit the particular society in which they
take place.

For example, the Torah prescribes that a thief who is caught pay back
double what he stole (unless he sold/slaughtered a sheep/ox). Nothing
about jail, makkot, etc. Not a strong deterrent - if the thief
can manage to get caught less than 50% of the time, he will make a
profit. Presumably, the King has the authority to impose stronger
punishment if necessary. The Torah specifies the compensation for the
victim, but leaves open (to the King) the question of punishment.

Rape is similar - the Torah specifies compensation for lost marriage and
ketubah opportunities (including the option of marrying the rapist). But
the King has the authority to impose stiffer penalties if necessary.

Regarding the metziut - there are lots of different kinds of rape. When
I was in university, the people who were trying (unsuccessfully) to
control the complete moral chaos on campus lectured undergraduates
incessantly about "no means no." In fact, in their zeal to stem the
epidemic of "date rape," they actually tried to formulate detailed rules
specifying at precisely which points in the progression of a physical
relationship the gentleman should stop and request permission from the
lady to procede further. All of which means that plenty of nice young
men who were undergrads at Yale and who are probably now fine fathers
and husbands did not necessarily stop short the moment the nice young
woman to whose room they had been invited at 2 a.m. after everyone had
had a few drinks said "no."

That's one end of the continuum. At the other extreme is the monstrous
predatory rapist who would make a nightmare husband.

In many many societies, a rape is me'uvat lo yuchal litkon - the victim
simply has very limited (if any) marriage options. And being a single
woman isn't a viable option either. Depending where on the continuum
the rapist is, she may well prefer marrying him to any of the bleak

Plus there's the deterrent factor. She and her father have complete
freedom to decide whether she will marry him, but he has no freedom to
decide whether to marry her, nor can he ever initiate divorce. This is
a particularly good deterrent against a higher-class boy raping a poor
girl - he might have thought he could get away with it (her father has
no power against him), but now that he could get stuck with her as a
wife he will think twice. See Ramban Shmot 22: 16.

 - Ilana

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 07:48:29 +0200
From: "Esther and Aryeh Frimer" <frimera@zahav.net.il>
Daughter of Rashi wore tefillin - Urban Legend

> Hey, can you toss this one out into Areivimland?
> I am looking for a ma'amar makom for the 'fact' that the daughter of Rashi
> wore tefillin every day.
> No one I have asked can find a trace of it in the rishonim.

There is no source in Rishonim or Aharonim for the "urban legend" that
the daughter(s) of Rashi wore tefillin. I have been searching for 35

    kol Tuv

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Ethel and David Resnick Professor
   of Active Oxygen Chemistry
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 23:33:28 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Niftar on Shabbos

Y.F. asked:
> Does anyone know anything about the supposed chashivus of having died on
> Shabbos?

Yes, it is a siman tov to die on Shabbos. The symbolism is the person
has made Shabbos and has earned his rest.

There is also a zchus in dying Erev Shabbos because the person has
already prepared for Shabbos and is prepared to die. It would possibly
be a great chasivus if the person died on Friday, bein hashmashos. Then
you have the best of two worlds. :-)

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 23:42:01 -0500
From: "Aryeh Englander" <iarwain1@earthlink.net>
Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
> I saw a suggestion someplace that the mediterranean basin was dry and the
> flood resulted from the opening of the Gibraltar strait with consequent
> fooding. This would explain the high mountains, which would be the banks
> of the Mediterranean. Perhaps such a flood even overflowed to result in
> a local flood, perhaps as far as the mountains of Ararat.

Sounds OK (you could use similar reasoning for a Black Sea inundation)
except that those events seem to have happened an immensely long time
ago. Whereas a Mesopotamian flood event seems to have been only a
little while before we say it happened, close enough to hope that some
chronological revision could fit it with our chronology.

Aryeh L. Englander

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 23:55:59 -0500
From: "Aryeh Englander" <iarwain1@earthlink.net>
Re: Pascal's Wager

From: "S Belsky" <draqonfayir@juno.com>
> It's not a choice between Atheism and Judaism; it's a choice between
> Atheism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, Baalism, Nuwaubu
> and every other religion, philosophy, and belief-system that has ever
> existed. And once you get into the realm of religions that posit eternal
> torment for disbelievers, how are you going to compute which is the 'best
> deal', the worst one to adopt and therefore assumedly save yourself from.

All of the comments so far on this thread seem to be attacking Pascal's
original argument, which I also disregard for the same reasons.But,
as I have already written (twice), my argument is NOT just Pascal's
argument. Instead, it uses Pascal ONLY to eliminate atheism and
personal god religions. To pick which one of the religions is best,
I am NOT using Pascal but rather am arguing from logic. The advantage
of this way of looking at things is obviously that one who thinks, for
whatever reason, that Judaism doesn't measure up to atheism in terms
of logic/probability/whatever, will still have a VERY good reason to
believe in Hashem.

Here is an excerpt from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article
on Pascal's Wager (http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/pasc-wag.htm) that explains
the type of argument I am making:

"Run-off decision theory: Some Pascalians propose combining pragmatic
and epistemic factors in a two-stage process. First, one uses epistemic
considerations in selecting a limited set of belief options, then
one uses prudential considerations in choosing among them (Jordan
1994b). Alternatively, one first uses prudential considerations to choose
religion over non-religion, and then uses epistemic considerations to
choose a particular religion (Schlesinger 1994, Jordan 1993)."

The second option ("Alternatively ...") is the one I am promoting.

Read the article for further arguments for and against the Wager. In any
case, I think that if you think it through carefully you will see that
none of the arguments against the Wager are good if you go with this
"run-off decision theory", at least the way I am saying it.

> The question is, whatever happened to Twelve Month Geihinom?

The Gemara says that an apikores (i.e.- doesn't believe in Olam Haba,
etc.) doesn't get Olam Haba. If that still doesn't mean he gets Geihinom,
it does seem to imply that he'll get burned for 12 months (at least) and
then go on forever suffering from the fact that he's not in Olam Haba -
sounds like eternal torture to me.


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