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Volume 16 : Number 111

Wednesday, February 1 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 21:02:11 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Pascal's Wager

On Sat, Jan 28, 2006 at 08:27:50PM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
: My two cents. The Kuzri seems to present the above argument like RDR,
: IOW, 2 million people at Har Sinai is a "preponderance of the evidence
: in our favour" type argument as opposed to an 'impossible to conceive
: otherwise" argument that Pascal's Wager implies.

Except that, as I noted, the Kuzari comes out against the use of
philosophical argument. And, as R' Ken Bloom already wrote, it's hard
to even find the text someone would construe to be the oft-missited
"Kuzari Proof".

:                                       The Kuzri was a rationalist who
: advanced his arguments in a logical fashion. He felt that the Torah
: should be related to in the same fashion; hence his many Scholastic
: (RMB) type arguments in support of the Torah. 

I do not know why you put my initials in there. It's the OPPOSITE of my
take on the Kuzari. He is very systematic, but uses arguments that are
more transcendental than scholastic.

In short he feels that Jews posess that Kant would later call a
synthetic a priori truth. IOW, that we know "anochi Hashem E-lokekha"
as a postulate, not as something we know from a proof build upon
postulates. Again, see the URLs I gave you of my numerous blog entries
on this.


Micha Berger             A life of reaction is a life of slavery,
micha@aishdas.org        intellectually and spiritually. One must
http://www.aishdas.org   fight for a life of action, not reaction.
Fax: (270) 514-1507      		      -Rita Mae Brown

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 14:46:26 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Rape of Dinah

MSDratch@aol.com wrote:
> I'm not so sure that the punishment of Shechem was for rape... what I
> mean, it seems from a simple reading of the text that it was more about
> "family honor" and was a variation of honor killings.

This doesn't solve my problem It isn't onlyabout the absurdity of
punishing a rapist by forcing him to marry his victim. It is also with
the alternative punishment of a fifty dollar fine. It was a dishonor
for the family, that a sister... and daughter of Jacob... was raped. So
much so, that the punishment that her brothers saw fit to implement was
a mass execution of the perpetrator and his entire village.

And the Torah says that such things are worthy only of a fifty dollar


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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 22:21:37 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Whip Cream

> My guess: nolad. The product is not whipped cream while it is  still
> in the can, but some kind of liquid that becomes cream as it is  sprayed
> from the can. [--TK]

> Then the same should apply  to ice cubes. R' Moshe paskens it is mutar
> to make ice cubes on Shabbos. The  same should apply to whipped cream.

Well, I was only guessing. But some people in fact don't make ice cubes
on Shabbos.

Since the whipped cream can in question says "Consult your rabbi"
it seems there is a question involved which some will posken one way,
some another. (In my house we do make ice cubes and we do use whipped
cream -- keep it in mind if you ever come to visit and have to decide
whether you can eat here......)

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 22:32:07 -0600
From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@gmail.com>
Re: Whip Cream

In v16n180, Shalom Kohn asked:
> 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?

(based on R. Dovid Ribiat: 39 Melochos. Melaocho Zoreh)

The melacha of Zoreh is "winnowing", which is sorting through the use of
air currents. The Gemara (Shabbat 73b) asks what the difference is between
Zoreh and Borer. The Yerushalmi says that the melacha of zoreh has nothing
to do with sorting, rather it's the act of indiscriminately scattering
a substance or liquid. The Rema (OC 319:17) concurs with the Yerushalmi.

One application of this melacha is with spray cans, including aerosol
spray cans. 39 Melochos discusses aerosol spray cans, but cites Igros
Moshe as permitting the use of aerosol spray cans.

It seems to me that since your milage may vary depending on your Rav,
they print this warning on the can to alert you to that.

 -Ken Bloom

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 23:03:35 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Benching Gomel frequently (after flying)

> IMHO benching gomel every few weeks trivializes the whole thing.

I agree. It would be like a person saying the t'filas ha-derech every
time he or she goes to the supermarket (although for some, that is a
big trip). I've always been under the impression that you bentch goimel
for the 4 reasons articulated and also when you've had a close call
with death. In any event, in davening 3 times a day we can certainly
express our gratefulness, etc. etc. for every single miracle that takes
place every second of our lives. For that matter in the "asher yotzar"
we articulate how fortunate and grateful we are that everything is
working and that if even one thing failed, we would be doomed. So IMHO,
we should save the goimel for special situations which would then make
it all the more special.

I am reminded that as a kid (not goat, but child) I often dreamed that
I was falling. The myth that went around was that if you dream you are
falling, you will die if you hit the ground. Many people believed that.
A friend of mine had the same dream and bentched gomel. When asked why,
his response was that he had a near death experience and was grateful
that he didn't hit the ground.

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 10:31:16 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
RE: Benching Gomel frequently (after flying)

Simcha Coffer wrote:
> What does this have to do with the halacha? If you watch people during
> birchos hashachar, there isn't much emotion then either although they
> are thanking for all of their daily needs and more. If one follows R'
> Moshe's psak, he should train himself to recognize the benefit Hashem
> bestowed upon him by allowing him to traverse without incident....

There is no comparison between bircas hashachar and bircas hagomel.
Bircas hashachar are part of the nusach of davening. Bircas Hagomel
however, is only said when a person was in danger. The Rishonim conpare
it to a korban toda.

Regarding halacha, I did not express myself well. Clearly, if someone
holds like R' Moshe they bench gomel. The point I was trying to make was
that if someone is trying to figure out how to be noheg (like R' Moshe,
or RYBS) should the consideration of trivializing the bracha enter into
the mix.

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Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 09:44:38 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Everyone on the Same Level

R. Yitzchok Levine wrote (in an email entitled: Are all Hashgochos to be
Considered on the Same Level?):
> It seems to me that an underlying assumption in all of the back and forth
> about eating at other people's homes or at all caterers or whatever is
> based on the following assumption. Namely, all supervisions are equally
> reliable. If this were indeed the case, then there really is no reason
> not to eat at the homes of others or at any catering hall, assuming
> that people are careful to use products requiring supervision that are
> under supervision.

No, they are not "equally reliable," but the other supervisions are
"reliable enough" me'ikar ha'din that one can rely upon them in cases
of necessity.

As I mentioned on Areivim, on page 86 of the second vol. of V'aleihu Lo
Yibol, it records that Rav SZ Auerbach said that when one is a guest at
the home of another person who is a yirei shamayim but uses hashgachos
which the guest himself is machmir not to bring into his own home, the
guest *should* nevertheless eat the food. He exclaimed, "they are not
feeding you neveilos u'treifos!" RSZA noted that he would do that--for
example, at a wedding he would eat chicken with a hechsher that he would
not admit into his own house, and that R. Chaim Sonnenfeld would eat meat
at Sephardic families [even though he presumably did not bring such meat
into his own home]. RSZA said that me'ikrar ha'din, all the well-known
rabbanut hechsherim are good, just that certain hechsherim are machmir
with regard to various issues which are not related to ikkar ha'din.

Even if you have heard of incidents where a certain kashrus supervision
made a mistake, that does not mean that the supervision cannot be
relied upon. Every supervision-and every person-makes mistakes.
A supervision which has mashgichim who are yirei shamayim but once in
a while make mistakes is still reliable. I once lived in a mid-sized
American city where there were two major hashgachos. The old hashgacha
"X" was by an alumnus of Ner Yisroel, and the new hashgacha "Y" was by
Lakewood rabbanim. Everyone agreed that the NYis alum was a major talmid
chacham and visiting NYis people told me that he was a yirei shamayim.
Yet the Lakewood people spread the rumor that X was unreliable. I asked
one of the Lakewood rabbanim to explain and he told me a story about a
restaurant under the X hashgacha in which a non-kosher sandwich of an
employee was found in the refrigerator. I spoke to the NYis alum and he
told me, "I can tell you similar stories about Y, but I don't because
every hashgacha makes a mistake once in a while." To me, that showed
yiras shamayim-he stood to benefit financially by putting down the other
hashgacha, but didn't. Unfortunately, new hashgacha "Y" didn't exhibit
similar scruples in their bid to expand their hashgacha business.

And remember, hashgacha is a business. It is to be expected that many
of the newer hashgachos will spread negative information about the older
hashgachos because otherwise the newer hashgachos will not make a profit.

(FYI I lived in a different American city where after investigation I
decided not to rely upon the most popular hashgacha because the rav,
who was very old, maintained standards of the 1950's rather than the
more machmir standards of today. But that was an unusual case-not in
the New York area.)

R. Y. Levine continued:
> Thus, it is very possible that in the home of a Yorei Shomayim or at
> an affair that he will make that one person may find products being
> used that one would not personally use in his home. One person may use
> "Chassidishe shechita, Glatt meat" that another does not use. Is a person
> required to "abandon" his standards and eat in such a home or place?

According to RSZA, yes. If that person is a Yorei Shamayim, you can be
sure that he exercised due diligence (and halachically can rely upon him
because he has a chezkas kashrus). I'm sure that as you and he think
differently, you and he may make different decisions with regard to which
kashus supervision to rely upon optimally. But at the end of the day,
both standards will be reliable me'ikar ha'din.

If you investigate the other person, at best you'll find a d'rabbanan
or chumras rishonim that is problematic. But you also run the risk of
violating many de'oraisos bein adam l'chaveiro. And you'll also have
less of an opportunity to be fulfill "v'ahavta l'rei'acha ka'mocha"
because you will refrain from sharing meals with others, and sharing
meals leads to feelings of community and closeness.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 22:24:39 EST
From: MSDratch@aol.com
Re: Rape of Dinah

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> writes:
> I guess it is just too difficult to separate my mind from its modern
> orientation. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that the Torah treats
> rapists as punishibale by either forcing them to marry the victim
> or fining them fifty dollars. In fact even the other puinishment,
> the fine... is troubling. Can you imagine any court today, finding a
> rapist guilty and then fining him fifty dollars?

But that's exactly the point, there was no punishment for the rape of
a single woman, only a fine paid to her father for the monetary loss he
would suffer when he would not receive the full virgin dowry. the rape
was a crime against his property. Period. The punishments come when
the girl is betrothes or maaries and then its a metter of adultery if
she consented.

This also grates on my ears and conscience, but we cannot be anachronistic
and impose modern sensitivities to the ancient world. B"H, over the
generations, Halacha has compensated for these problems.

Mark Dratch

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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 22:52:39 -0600
From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@gmail.com>
Re: Pascal's Wager

Aryeh Englander wrote in v16n105:
> Pascal (you may have heard of him in science or mathematics classes)=20
> proposed that faith should be based on a bet: If the atheist is right
>  then both he and I will lead reasonably decent lives and then go
> *poof* and that's it. If I'm right, then I'll spend eternity enjoying
> the unimaginable bliss of Olam Habah while he goes through the
> unimaginable agony of hell. So how much are you willing to bet? Are
> all of your issues and questions and perceived lack of proofs for our
> mesorah so compelling that you'd be willing to risk eternal torture
> of an unimaginable magnitude? Are you really THAT sure of yourself?

Stephen Belsky wrote in v16n106:
> The question is, whatever happened to Twelve Month Geihinom?

 From the Wikipedia entry on Pense'es:
> The Pense'es (literally, "thoughts") represented an apology for the
> Christian religion by Blaise Pascal, the renowned 17th century
> philosopher and mathematician. Pascal's own religious conversion had
> led him into a life of asceticism, and the Pense'es were in many ways
> his life's work. Pascal's Wager is found here.

As I suspected, Pascal's wager was concerned with Christianity, not
Judaism, so naturally eternal torture would certainly be in the equation

Furthermore, it's harder to make a case for Judaism with 613 Mitzvot
requiring signifcant effort, than to make a case for Christianity where
the only requirement AIUI is to believe in Yashke. (I have no idea what
that really entails though.)


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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 00:03:49 -0500
From: "Aryeh Englander" <iarwain1@earthlink.net>
Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

From: "Lisa Liel" <lisa@starways.net>
> But why would anyone want to answer that objection? There's no reason
> to suppose the Mabul was local in the first place.

This is your own opinion, based on your understanding of chronology and
the pesukim. Some, however, may not agree with your chronology revisions
and therefore may look for other answers, and they are perfectly entitled
to do so. As for the pesukim, I have shown that at least one gadol,
R' Gedalya Nadel ztz"l (based on what he perceived to be the Rambam's
mehalech) felt that it was perfectly feasible to say that the Mabul was
local. So yes, there is good reason to suppose that the Mabul was local.

> But when I found that revisions other than Rohl's
> were not to be discussed on the list (nor criticisms of Rohl's revision),
> I left. It may have changed in the intervening years; the description
> on the group's page doesn't seem to indicate it, though.

> With all due respect to David Rohl, his revision doesn't work.
> ...

Of course Rohl's revision doesn't exactly fit the Torah the way we have
it - he wasn't trying to make it do so. But if anybody is interested
in figuring out alternative revisions based on his and others' works -
something that Lisa has pioneered and that would IMMENSELY help
Yiddishkeit in this world - I believe I have provided significant
resources. And yes, from what I've seen, that group does discuss other
possibilities as long as *they* consider them worthwhile (that probably
means published, I guess).

I don't know if Avodah is really the place for this, but if anybody
is interested in researching the Mabul and ancient Middle Eastern
chronologies with a view to fitting them with the Torah, but has little or
no background in the subject, please contact me at iarwain1@earthlink.net
and I would be very glad to help, even though I also do not have that
great a background in the material. Of course, you can just leave the
work in the capable hands of Lisa Liel, but I'm not sure I agree with
her revisions, so I think having some other well-researched possibilities
would be great. (Lisa, don't slaughter me on this forum, I will bl"n look
through your stuff and send you any questions/comments I have privately
in the not-too-distant future.)

Aryeh L. Englander

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 00:08:25 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

: Where does the Torah say this? I have always understood the mabul as
: being a global phenomenon but a cursory reading of the mabul episode in
: the Torah reveals that the Torah never utilizes the term ""kol haaretz"",
: just ""aretz""...

> Bereishis 6:13 - Qeitz kol basar ba lefanai
> 6:17 - leshacheis kol-basar asher-bo ruach chaim mitachas hashamayim,
> kol asher ba'aretz yigva
> 7:11 - nivqe'u kol ma'yenos tehom raba
> 7:19 - vaychassu kol-heharim haggevohim asher-tachas kol-hashamayim
> I would think that 6:13 and 7:19 are pretty clearly encompassing at
> least the entirety of civilization.

RSC and others are proposing the possibility that all referrence to "aretz" means the localised area of Mesopotamia (although until these pesukim "ha'aretz" -- as in haShamayim v'ha'aretz-- meant the entire planet, and that all human and animal life were concentrated in that area, so that the Mabul did destroy all life under the heavens but did not cover the entire globe. So the above pesukim don't necessarily counter the idea.

Nevertheless, I disagree with the proposal, first of all because of how
I see mesorah sources take words and thoughts when unmodified -- if they
thought th e pesukim's words did not mean what they naturally imply,
they would say so, as indeed the one who says that Erretz Yisroel was
/not/ flooded, says so. (This -- to my mind universal -- methodology
needs to be explained more clearly, but not now); and secondly because
of the following pesukim:

11: "There will never again be a mabul to destroy the earth." There have
been plenty of floods that destoyed parts of the earth. Unless one would
suggest that Hashem's promise was never again to bring a destructive
flood on the Ararat area of the world.

14: All the birds outside the Ark were also destroyed. If the Mabul was
localized, why couldn't the birds just fly outside of the area?

And speaking of birds, if omnly Mesopotamia was flooded, what did Noach
think he would gain by sending a bird out of the Ark to see if the
wayters subsided? Surely the bird could simply fly beyond the area and
pick up some olive leaves from unflooded land. (Indeed, why did Noach
have to build an Ark altogether, if he could have simply relocated
outside the area?)

19: "The waters rose very much on ha-aretz and covered all the high
mountains /asher tachas haShamayim./" All life beneath the all the
heavens. This expression seems overkill (pardon the expression) if the
life we are talking about was all in this one tiny region.

21: "I will never again curse the adamah." Was just the region cursed
by the Mabul? Will only this region not be cursed again, whereas the
rest of the globe might be cursed by a Mabul?

22: "Od kol y'may ha-aretz zera v'katsir etc." The seasons and
the day-night cycle will not cease again for the all the days of
ha-aretz. Again, "eretz" obviously not referring to one region. Unless
one proposes that Hashem promised that the seasons and the day-night
cycle will not cease in Mesopotamia, but might in the rest of the world.

And of course there's the Rashi citing BR (26:7) on "v'gam acharay ken,"
which blames the dor haMabul for not learning from the Dor Enosh in
which the Okyynus rose and covered [just] /one third/ of the earth.

And the Rashi that explains the word "mabul" to refer to the fact
that the Mabul's waters /brought/ everyone to that low area of Bavel
("called Shinnar, sheh-nan-anu sham kol m'say Mabul" -- "because all
the dead of the Mabul were moved over to there." So they ended up there,
which means they came from elsewhere.

And the Rashi citing BR (51:8) that Lot's daughters, after Sodom's
destruction, thought that the entire world was destroyed, /as in the
generation of the Mabul/ ("sevuros hayyu sheh-kol ha-olom necherav,
k'mo b'dor ha-Mabul").

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 00:13:56 -0500
From: "Aryeh Englander" <iarwain1@earthlink.net>
Re: Eternal Torment?

From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>:
> On the contrary, I understand it to mean that he doesn't get into
> Gehinnom. Gehinnom is not Hell, it's Purgatory. AFAIK, Judaism doesn't
> believe in Hell. The purpose of Gehinnom is to be cleansed of ones
> averot, so that one can enter Olam Haba...
> Think of the story of Acher, who was originally not allowed into Gehinnom....
> So what happens to those who don't get into the system? I assume that
> nothing happens to them, that they simply expire...



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Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 06:22:46 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Everyone on the Same Level

At 02:44 AM 02/01/2006, Moshe Feldman wrote:
>No, they are not "equally reliable," but the other supervisions are 
>"reliable enough" me'ikar ha'din that one can rely upon them in 
>cases of necessity.

I suggest you call the OU and ask someone there to speak to you
off the record. Then ask him if the OU will use products from /all/
of the 409 kosher certifying agencies listed in Kashrus Magazine at

I was told by someone who is most knowledgeable about hashgochos, "__
is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to supervisions." From this
I deduce that I should not use products under this supervision.

In the 1980s, when I was going to EY, I asked Rav Shimon Schwab, ZT"L,
about kashrus in EY. He told me that in Yerushalayim I could rely on
the Rabbanut, but not outside. He said one had to know specific details
about each Rabbanut hashgacha outside of Jerusalem.

Now, I know that much has changed in 20 years or more. Still, the point
here is that all hashgachos are not "reliable enough."

I really do not know what more I can say to convince you of this fact.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 19:36:40 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Everyone on the Same Level

[Let's not drift into assessing various kashrus agencies. -mi]

I wrote:
> No, they are not "equally reliable," but the other supervisions are
> "reliable enough" me'ikar ha'din that one can rely upon them in cases of
> necessity.

On 2/1/06, Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu> wrote:
> I suggest you call the OU and ask someone there to speak to you off the
> record. Then ask him if the OU will use products from /all/ of the 409
> kosher certifying agencies listed in Kashrus Magazine at
> http://www.kashrusmagazine.com.

Again, I never suggested that any kashrus agency accept the standards of
any other agency. The OU has its standards, which it believes represents
the best application of halacha. That doesn't mean that a OU rav will
not eat at the house of his brother-in-law who uses heimeshe hashgachos.

> In the 1980s, when I was going to EY, I asked Rav Shimon Schwab, ZT"L, about
> kashrus in EY. He told me that in Yerushalayim I could rely on the Rabbanut,
> but not outside. He said one had to know specific details about each
> Rabbanut hashgacha outside of Jerusalem.
> Now, I know that much has changed in 20 years or more. Still, the point here
> is that all hashgachos are not "reliable enough."

On the contrary: RSZA made the comment specifically about rabbanut
hashgacha and would have told you to eat at houses of relatives who used
rabbanut hashgacha. Nevertheless, he would have advised you to follow
R. Schwab with regard to food you yourself bought. So the point is: it's
"reliable enough" when a bein adam l'chaveiro is involved, but should
not necessarily be reliabled upon otherwise.

Kol tuv,

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