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Volume 16 : Number 113

Wednesday, February 1 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 11:55:10 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

On February 1, 2006, Zvi Lampel wrote:
> RMB:
>> Bereishis 6:13 - Qeitz kol basar ba lefanai
>> 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

I don't know about "others" but technically, I am not proposing this. I
am proposing that since the Torah states that the flood was brought upon
the world by Hashem in order to wipe out man/animal life, if we somehow
were able to determine that certain parts of the world were barren of
life, perhaps it wouldn't be problematic to say that the flood did not
inundate these parts of the world. I have no idea if Mesopotamia was
the only populated part of the world (animal life) or not.

>                        (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.

Exactly. Except that I happen to be speaking to RJO and he mentioned
that the law of gravity would make 7:19 very difficult to understand
unless the entire world was inundated. Water would run off and disperse
around the globe unless there was a uniform "inundation" which brought
the water level up universally. Sounds compelling. I should also state
that he mentioned to me that Chazal are clear on this issue. I have to
look up his references so as of now, "no comment".

> 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,

But you just agreed above that the pesukim don't necessarily address
a geographically global incident as much as they seem to address a
life related incident. If we honestly were able to determine that no
animal life existed on the American continent, what would be wrong,
masoretically, with saying that the flood did not occur here?

>                      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.

Shvach... I already mentioned that it never says "kol" ha'aretz, not
even once. Aretz here can easily be understood as relating to 'populated
' Aretz and Hashem's promise is that he will never entirely wipe out
civilization. The fact that floods have wiped out parts of civilization
has no bearing here.

> 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?

Good kasha. I'm starting to be convinced but I can still ta'anah. You
see, if civilization was truly concentrated in one geographical area,
then there would probably be an epicentre to which the birds would
gravitate. If, all of a sudden, the "floodgates" were unlocked,
specifically to wipe out life, perhaps the birds didn't have time to
escape. According to Chazal, the weather conditions during the mabul
were radical (scalding water etc). It is not difficult to imagine a
total wipe out of life although it was, perhaps, localized.

> 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?)

Your kasha is very good but it is not on me. Why didn't Noach relocate
to Eretz Yisrael? The teretz is Hashem wanted the episode of the flood to
unfold precisely the way it did. There needed to be a Noach who exercised
the midda of Chesed for an entire year to counter-balance the sins of the
dor haMubul (Rav Dessler). There's probably a thousand other reasons too.
But this doesn't mean that the flood had to be a global event.

> 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.

Who says it was tiny? Maybe life spread over thousands upon thousands
of square miles by the time the flood occurred.

> 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?

No. The entire civilized, populated 'region' was cursed. This will never
happen again.

> 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.

No. He promised that wherever mankind would observe the phenomenon of
"seasons", they would see nothing but uniformity. IOW, wherever mankind
will spread on earth, they will observe the same routine, repeated again
and again. This doesn't mean that man, or animal life, actually spread
throughout the entire globe by the time of the flood.

> 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.

"Shlish haOlam" in that Rashi surely means one third of the populated
world, no? How would the people of Dor Enosh know what happened outside
their sphere of experience? One third means one third of mankind here.

> 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.

From the populated parts of the world... (I'm not trying to be difficult)

> 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").

Obviously referring to civilization (which is why they copulated with
their Father) so I don't see your ra'aya. You don't think that Lot's
daughters thought that she was living in a physically destroyed world
that had no ability to support life right? How could they exist?

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 15:55:37 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: The Ethics of 360 Reviews

>> from Chovos Halevavos and Mesillos Yesharim.

> I recommend reading the full post (this is around 50%), and I am curious
> about others' reactions.

Expand the question to any performance appraisal system in any
organization (including yeshivot)

Joel Rich

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 23:18:46 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Re: Most Supervisions "Reliable Enough" (was "all supervisions....)

On 2/1/06, Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu> wrote:
> What about the Triangle K? I have been told not
> to rely on it. However, I do know of people whom I consider Yorei
> Shomayim who do use some of the products under the Triangle K. For
> example, when I was at West Point, I attended a gathering at which
> potato chips were served that had the Triangle K on the bag. The
> Chaplain at that time was most certainly someone whom I would
> consider a Yorei Shomayim, yet he used products that I would not
> use.  Was I supposed to, according to you, eat in his home if I had
> been invited?

Yes. AFAIK the Triangle K is run by people who are yirei shamayam (Rav
Aryeh Ralbag -- http://tinyurl.com/bqdpg is the posek) and has certain
meikil shittos (particularly regarding oils). That is analogous to the
rabbanuyot in Israel referred to by RSZA. You are not eating treif when
you eat such hashgachos, but are relying on certain opinions which not
everyone accepts.

When I lived in America, I myself did not buy those products. However,
I do not think it proper to embarrass someone (whom I consider a yirei
shamayim and medakdek b'mitzvos) and refuse to eat at his house, or
rummage through his kitchen.

Having learned Yoreh Deah, it is clear to me that almost all of the issues
about which the kashrus agencies argue are not de'oraisos. In fact,
the gemara is very clear on the point that ta'am depends on real taste
(which can be tested by a non-Jewish expert), and we Ashkenazim are
machmir simply because we don't trust goyim.

The other issue is how often kashrus agencies make mistakes. No agency
is 100% perfect, but I am still allowed to rely upon agencies. I would
think that as with bugs, so long as agencies make mistakes less than 10%
of the time, their mistakes will be considered a mi'ut she'aino matzui
and me'ikar ha'din we need not be concerned about it. Anyone care to
present a different opinion?

Furthermore, as almost all of these issues are d'rabbanan or minhag,
a safek on these issues is l'kula me'ikar ha'din. That doesn't mean
that I myself will pluck every Triangle K off the store shelves. But
when this issue conflicts with clear de'oraisos of bein adam l'chaveiro,
it's a different story. (I will note that when I was younger, I was not
as aware of these issues and did embarrass some people as a result.)

> Many people are not aware of the "nuances" of Kashrus. I have seen
> products under the Triangle K for sale in "Heimishe" stores in
> Brooklyn. Now it is not my place to tell anyone what to use or not to
> use. But it is my place to decide what I will or will not use and to
> make sure that I do not eat what I do not use.

The fact that it is sold in a Heimeshe store doesn't mean the owner
eats it himself. However, given the fact that this isn't treif either,
he has the right to sell it to those who rely on the hashgacha. By the
way, AFAIK R. Aryeh Ralbag is considered more reliable than his father.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 17:04:29 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Kashrut reliable enough

WRT to the thread of RYL about standards for kashrut, I think that there
are two separate issues that have been blurred.

1. Is it legitimate for me to have certain humrot, and therefore insist
that I can't eat anything ( or very little) prepared outside the home,
or outside the home? Many of the examples that he cites are precisely
this type of position - that I hold of a particular humra, and therefore
don't partake of food that I am not sure satisfies this humra.

2. Is it true that most hashgachot are so unreliable that it is wrong
for people to rely on them? I. E., my refusal to eat outside the home
is not a statement about my personal humra, but a statement that I think
meikar hadin the food is suspect trafe. This position is reflected in
several of RYL's posts - that there are such severe problems in kashrut,
that he can't give to other people food that he won't eat, etc - that
the problem isn't merely his humra, but the ikkar hadin of kashrut,
and that position, is, IMHO, highly problematic. FUrthermore, he
doesn't apply it to just a few hashgachot on a certain spectrum - but,
at least according to the posts, almost across the board.

It is one thing to argue that you won't eat a given hashgacha because
of a humra, another to argue without specific evidence that everyone
relying on it is eating tarfus - because that is being motzi la'az on
the mashgiach and the people relying on him.

Most of the people who reject specific hashgachot do so on the claim
(whether justified or not is a different issue, and we can discuss the
evidence needed (see below)) that they violate some specific standard,
or are mekil. The blanket dismissal of essentially all hashgachot,
not for personal use, but meikkar hadin, is something that is quite novel.

There is a tshuva (discussed in a previous go round several years ago of
the kashrut wars)in the last heleq of igrot moshe, where he was asked
about an establishment that had a kitchen and kelim that was shared by
several different caterers with different hashgachot. Someone wrote that
he was invited to an affair, and that he trusted the hashgacha of the
caterer that was being used, but wondered about the kelim. Rav Moshe
responded (from memory) that how could one not trust the hashgacha of
a talmid chacham, and it was a great bizayon to a talmid chacham to
doubt his hashgacha. There is another tshuva by rav moshe that for a
hashgacha to reject another hashgacha as unreliable, it must be based
on specific evidence - which should be brought to a bet din.

There is a tshuva by rav aviner where he writes that all hashgachot are
acceptable - that any hashgacha by a talmid chacham who is yere shamayim
can be relied upon meikkar hadin - even if the mashgiach tells you that
he himself won't eat there. That goes against much of the current ethos,
but I think it is far closer to mainstream traditional psak than the
position presented here .

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 17:43:53 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <llevine@stevens.edu>
Re: Fwd: Most Supervisions "Reliable Enough" (was "all supervisions....)

At 04:18 PM 02/01/2006, Moshe Feldman wrote:
>However, I do not think it proper to embarrass someone (whom I
>consider a yirei shamayim and medakdek b'mitzvos) and refuse to eat at
>his house, or rummage through his kitchen.

I have the feeling that we are now in some unending "Do loop" (as we
used to say in the old days of computing) that the readers of Avodah
must be tiring of.

You feel justified in your approach, and I feel equally justified in mine.

Let me just say the following, and then I hope that we can agree to
disagree, and this discussion.

I do not nor would I ever "rummage" through someone else's kitchen.
As far as refusing to eat in someone else's home, I think that it has
been years since I was invited to eat in another person's home. I do not
make what I do public, so it cannot be because of this. In Brooklyn,
the people that I deal with do not in general invite others to eat at
their homes, save for relatives. (This may not be a plus, but it is
the situation that I have encountered.) When I go to a kiddush that is
catered in a shul, I find out who the caterer is. If it is one that I
eat from, then I eat. If not, I talk with people, take a drink of soda
or seltzer, and eat some fruit. I do not believe that anyone notices what
I am doing. Therefore, I am very sure that I am not embarrassing anyone.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Levine 

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 19:42:07 -0500
From: "Spatz, Jeffrey" <jspatz@gfrlaw.com>
RE: Whip Cream

[R Ken Bloom:]
> (based on R. Dovid Ribiat: 39 Melochos. Melaocho Zoreh)
> 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.

There is an issue according to some poskim if the nozzle forms a design.


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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 15:12:27 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
Re: Rape of Dinah

> 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

Ilana Sober and others offered a very sound explanation by saying that
the Torah never intended to set up preventative measures for crimes. As
was already explained, this is simply a monetary compensation for the
damage done that can be measured in the marriage market.

But Mark, although you were saying just that in your first paragraph, your
second paragraph sets off some alarm bells... What you seem to be saying
is that the Torah gave it's laws for the needs of ancient times. Since
there weren't modern sensitivities then, it was ok. But now we have
become more sensitive and the Torah is apparently insensitive. But not
to worry, although we grew past the Torah's "insensitivities", Halacha
fixed the Torah's shortcomings... Surely, the Torah's sensitivities are
eternal and don't need Rabbinical fixing!

Perhaps I misunderstood you?

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 16:53:14 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rape of Dinah

R Harry Maryles wrote:
> This doesn't solve my problem It isn't onlyabout the absurdity of
> punishing a rapist by forcing him to marry his victim....
> And the Torah says that such things are worthy only of a fifty dollar
> fine?

What's the role of a halachically specified court-imposed punishment?

According to the Ran (as RnRF already wrote), beis din isn't charged
with the laws that bring order to society -- the melekh is. Without a
melekh, the job fell to beis din -- but still, that's beis din working
qua malkhus, not the same legal system as the one whose punishments are
in discussion.

Nor is it the person's spiritual sechar za'onesh, which the Dayan haEmes
didn't bequeath man.

The niche for Torah specified court administered punishment is therefore
quite narrow. One can't necessarily demand fairness to the victim,
deterrance or onsesh in measure to the cheit -- all of those are the
role of other laws (and Laws).


Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 18:18:13 EST
From: MSDratch@aol.com
Re: Rape of Dinah

Ilana Sober and others offered a very sound explanation by saying that
the Torah never intended to set up preventative measures for crimes. As
was already explained, this is simply a monetary compensation for the
damage done that can be measured in the marriage market.

But Mark, although you were saying just that in your first paragraph, your
second paragraph sets off some alarm bells... What you seem to be saying
is that the Torah gave it's laws for the needs of ancient times. Since
there weren't modern sensitivities then, it was ok. But now we have
become more sensitive and the Torah is apparently insensitive. But not
to worry, although we grew past the Torah's "insensitivities", Halacha
fixed the Torah's shortcomings... Surely, the Torah's sensitivities are
eternal and don't need Rabbinical fixing! Perhaps I misunderstood you?

Actually, you didn't misunderstand. Yes, the Torah is timeless, but
it is also timely. And it allowed for--and obligated-- development in
these matters. Didn't the Ramban at the beginning of Parashat Kedoshim
tell us that we are obligated to go lifnim mishurat ha-din because it
is possible to be a naval birshut hatorah. If the shurat ha-din was
so perfect, why the need to go beyond? And what makes the lifnim any
better than the shurah?

Aren't there other correctives in halacha based upon changing sensitivites
(i.e., kiddush Hashem, hillul Hashen, darkei shalom, etc.)? (These may
not change a de'orita, but they certainly influence how those mizvot
are fulfilled). Don't we have all sorts of takkanot in order to deal
with these kinds of problems-- take as an example shtar chatzi zakhar
(in order to make sure that daughters don't lose everything when their
brothers get the entire inheritance)? Doesn't a court-- any court-- have
the authority of onshin she-lo min ha-din and the authority to accept
ANY witness, even those who are otherwise invalid, if the circumstances
require it? Think of Beis Yaakov and formal Torah educaton for women
(I view it is a lekhatchila, not a bedieved). What about polygamy?
Slavery? Kiddushei Ketanah? Etc.

And what about a husband's right to hit his wife? Or a wife's obligation
to wash her husband's feet?

There was also a development of the sexual laws and the laws of
yichud...(See Sanhedrin 21a-b for example).

This is a long and complex topic, I understand that. And which modern
sensitivities are appropriate and which are out-of-bounds, and who
decides...and how you decide... are all very difficult issues. I am not,
chas ve-shalom, suggesting that we therefore cut and paste sections of
the Torah. If it is a gezeirah of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I accept it.
But it also doesn't mean that we don't continue to try to grow and
develop in our moral sensitities lehagdil Torah u-le'ha'adirah.

Mark Dratch

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 23:54:04 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Rape of Dinah

R' Mark Dratch wrote:
> 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. ... 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.

My first reaction was an attempt to understand how it could possibly
be that it is only our "modern sensitivities" which recoil in horror at
these acts.

Then I remembered some comments someone made a couple of days ago. Someone -
I don't remember who - did not use these actual terms, but did describe
the crime in terms which reminded me of siuations which today might be
called "statutory rape". AIUI, this is a situation which "l'maaseh" was
consentual, but "l'halacha" is *considered* as nonconsentual, because
the victim is a minor and is *technically* incapable of adequately
informed consent.

In other words, perhaps the Torah, in the section under discussion, is
speaking of a situation which was, to a great degree, non-violent. In
such cases, the girl might not be bothered by what went on, and indeed
the main damage -- or the main *perceived* damage -- was to the family.

I would note that although the story of Dinah uses the word "vay'aneha" -
which many in this thread might translate as "he forcibly raped her" --
bur Rashi and others say this describes the particular acts which they
engaged in, leaving the door open for some to interpret it as consentual
on Dinah's part.

So, if these sections deal with statutory rape, or something similar,
then how does the Torah deal with a violent rape? Perhaps such a crime
would be split into two aspects: Part is dealt with as above, and the
remainder is treated as any other assault, leaving the rapist liable to
the victim for the pain, embarrassment, medical costs, et al.

Anyone know if any such cases might have come up in the literature? If
so, I think it might answer our problem of "modern sensitivities" nicely,
by demonstrating that the ancients shared them.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 16:58:19 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Eretz Yisrael -- the highest land

In a post about the mabul, R'n Chana Luntz wrote:
> BTW, I have been told that is a geographical fact that at least today,
> Eretz Yisroel is geographically lower than most lands and countries
> (ie some points of it are the lowest or close to the lowest places in
> the world below sea level that you can stand on dry land).

I would like to go off on a tangent here and discuss Chazal's saying that
"Eretz Yisrael is higher than all other lands." It seems to me that this
has nothing to do with its elevation above sea level. Parts of E'Y are
actually so low they are /below/ sea level, as RCL says, and even its
mountains are little hills compared to the Himalayas.

What I think is that our convention of placing the North Pole at the
"top" of the world is just that, a convention. Seen from the vastness
of outer space, Planet Earth doesn't really have a top or a bottom.
Yes, it spins around an axis, but an axis can be horizontal as well as
vertical. As I said, it is mere convention to call the northernmost point
"the top." It is also just convention to orient ourselves on a map by
calling north "forward" or east "right" or west "left."

I don't think Chazal mean to say there is a measurable quality that makes
Eretz Yisrael the highest land. I think they're saying something that
/defines/ Eretz Yisrael as "the highest point." Thus, a Jewish globe would
be so oriented that Eretz Yisrael, not the north pole, would be "the top."

Parenthetically I am surprised to find that so many people don't realize
that in Tanach, forward is EAST, that South = right, and West = behind you
and North = left. Thus when Avraham goes to a place that the Chumash says
is "left of Damascus" he is going to a town that is north of Damascus. The
country of Yemen -- Taiman -- is to the SOUTH and therefore to the RIGHT --
in Arabic as well as Hebrew, apparently.

It would be cute to actually have a globe on a stand with Eretz Yisrael
on top, and the axis almost-horizontal instead of almost-vertical.

Putting Eretz Yisrael on top of the globe physically would also suggest
visually that Eretz Yisrael is the highest land spiritually as well,
which is surely part of Chazal's intention.

 -Toby Katz

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