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Volume 16 : Number 139

Saturday, February 25 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 18:32:35 -0500
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>
Re: Emunah and Machashavah

On Wed, 2006-02-22 at 11:53 -0500, Micha Berger wrote:

> I do not believe it's R' Dr Haym Soloveitchik's dichotomy of mimeticism
> vs textualism. Rather, it's emunah peshutah vs machashavah amuqah. The
> two chakiros are similar, but not identical. Perhaps one could say that
> one is the halachic parallel to the other's classic aggadic distinction.
> The difference between the two is what enables an era that is stressing
> textual halakhah ever increasingly is also one that is putting ever
> tighter restrictions on studying sifrei machashavah.

Can someone have both?  To be able to admit that they place their faith
in the mesorah for questions that they don't have the ability to give
good answers to at this time.  But at the same time, still struggling
for satisfying answers.

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Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 19:48:13 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Emunah and Machashavah

On Wed, Feb 22, 2006 at 06:32:35PM -0500, Shaya Potter wrote:
: Can someone have both?  To be able to admit that they place their faith
: in the mesorah for questions that they don't have the ability to give
: good answers to at this time.  But at the same time, still struggling
: for satisfying answers.

First, RDE referred me to RYBS's "Shenei Sugei Mesoret" from Shi'urim
leZeicher Avi Mori z"l. I misidentified who he was speaking of, and
therefore what as well.

Here's something to work with until we finally get the talk from AishDas's
(relatively) recent melaveh malkah on line.

In my blog Aspaqlaria, at <http://tinyurl.com/f83eo>, I wrote:
> Focusing on the Philosopher's G-d makes it difficult to see the Personal
> G-d. On the other hand, without theology, our picture of G-d is blurry,
> and often wrong.

> So the question is, what is the appropriate balance between the two?

> I found a variety of opinions:

> 1- The Rambam seems to belittle emunah peshutah....

> 2- The Baal haTanya invokes a mystical resolution....
>                   Through the unity of the national soul's yechidah,
> a single view of G-d emerges even at both planes of existance.

> 3- At the other extreme, Rav Nachman miBreslov discouraged the study of
> theology... The philosopher's G-d, while logically sound, is cold,
> transcendent and incomprehensible -- very unconducive to this natural
> parent-child style relationship...

> 4- The Brisker approach is to avoid the whole subject.... It differs
> from Rav Nachman's position not so much in that they feel it's wrong,
> but that it's pointless. The ikkar is learning halakhah and man's duty
> in this world.
> R' YB Soloveitchik puts forth this position in his essary Qol Dodi Dofeiq:
> The Jewish question [of tragedy] is not "Why?" but "How am I supposed
> to respond?" ...

> The problem with positions 3 and 4 is that they do not have the support
> of either the scholastic rishonim ..., the antischolastic rishonim, ... the
> kabbalistically inclined (eg: the Ramban), nor the Ramchal, the Besh"t,
> the Gra, R' Chaim Vilozhiner...

> 5- When thinking about this further I realized that I assumed a different
> stance ... I believe it's the position of the Mussar Movement. It reflects
> the approach I see utilized by Rav Dessler in Michtav MeiEliyahu.

> R' Lopian defines mussar as dealing with the space of an amah --
> getting ideas from the mind to the heart. We often think things that
> don't reflect how we feel and many of the forces that influence our
> decision-making....

> Emunah, bitachon, ahavas Hashem, yir'as Hashem, etc... are middos. They
> are not acquired directly through study, but through the tools of tiqun
> hamidos. (With the observation that constant return to a subject operates
> on both levels.) There is a reason why the kiruv movement is built on
> the experience of a Shabbos, and not some ultimate proof of G-d....

> Rather than seeing this as a dilemma, I saw it as a need. We can embrace
> both because each involves a very different component of self. And since
> avodah must be bekhol nafshekha, we actually MUST study both machshavah
> and mussar. Meaningful avodas Hashem must require involvement of both
> mind and heart.


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
micha@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 20:31:54 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Emunah and Machashavah

On February 22, 2006, Micha Berger wrote:
> I do not believe it's R' Dr Haym Soloveitchik's dichotomy of mimeticism
> vs textualism. Rather, it's emunah peshutah vs machashavah amuqah. The
> two chakiros are similar, but not identical. Perhaps one could say that
> one is the halachic parallel to the other's classic aggadic distinction.

This is a bit off topic but I don't see emunah peshuta as opposing
machshava amuka. I don't even know of any source for emunah peshuta the
way the term is used by the hamon am. In fact, I am opposed to it. There's
no such thing as true emunah without machshava and the more machshava a
person invests into his emunah, the more of a ma'amin he will become. This
business of emunah peshuta, IOW, "just believe blindly", is a Christian
concept. True if a person has no access to information it is a mida
tova to rely on the great verities passed down ish mipi ish from har
Sinai. This is referred to as emunah in the sense of steadfastness. But
if information is available one is not absolved from proper machshava
by resorting to "emunah peshuta".

Simcha Coffer 

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 22:56:32 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Kibbud Av v'Em --Prof. Blidstein

I was privileged yesterday to attend a lecture by Prof. Blidstein (winner
of this year's Israel Prize) on the subject: "Caring for an Aging Parent:
Halakhic Priorities and Conflicts." (I believe that much of the material
is from his book, "Honor Thy Father and Mother.")

He made some interesting points:

- Much of the material in the gemara dealing with Kibbud Av v'Em
("KAVE") deals not with young children honoring their youngish parents,
but with mature children honoring their aging parents. For example
"ma'achilo u'mashkeihu" probably isn't referring to pouring an able
parent a glass of water, but feeding an aging, and even senile, parent.
The stories (in Kiddushin 31a ff.) involving Dama ben Nisina who
bore the abuse of his parents presumably deals with senile parents.
Ditto with respect to Rabbi Tarfon's mother walking on her son's hands.
See also Rambam Hil. Mamrim 6:7

- Many people make the mistake of viewing KAVE based on how they
were taught in kindergarten-and think that the requirement of KAVE applies
just to children. In fact, the ikkar of KAVE is with respect to aging
parents, who are often more difficult to honor than parents who possess
all their faculties.

- Lots of the stories in the gemara are about Roman parents
and children. The Romans were known for their honor of their parents
(cf. story of Eisav and Yitzchak), and the Rabbis said that we could
learn from the Romans in this regard.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 06:32:03 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: chametz

R' Dr. Gary J Schreiber asked:
> The gemmara distinguishes between the 5 grains and other
> grain-like substances in their ability to become chometz.
> Similarly the gemmara distingusihes between water and juices
> in their ability to bring about chametz. Is there a noticeable
> distinction chemically in these processes or is this purely a
> halachik tradition/distinction?

Just a few days ago, I happened to obtain "The Science in Torah" by R'
Yehudah (Leo) Levi, in which he writes on pp. 11-12:

"It turns out that grains which leaven are distinctive for their high
gluten (non-soluble protein) content. When water is added to flour tpo
make dough, the gluten coalesces, forming a sticky mass. The enzymes in
the flour break down the starch into glucose and alcolhol, liberating
gasses (CO2). These gases are trapped in the gluten, resulting in a
spongy dough. This process is known as leavening.

"Other grains, like rice, millet, and corn, contain much less gluten, or
none at all, so that they do not leaven. In dough made of these grains,
the breakdown of the various compnents continues until mold develops,
releasing foul-smelling gasses, or in other words, until the dough rots."

Further on, he explains other halachos of chimutz, such as how continuous
kneading impedes the leavening process because it destroys the gas
bubbles as they form, and how the acidity of fruit juices disables the
enzymes from producing the gas.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 19:24:11 +0000
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: chametz

RMB wrote:
> By parallel, one can ask whether leavened dough made from juice gets
> the same chalos sheim chameitz as if made from water, or if different
> criteria apply. Once we said the biology doesn't map intuitively to the
> din, why not?

AFAIK, this is a ma'hloqet. Sefardim tend to believe that 'hametz is
defined as flour of the 5 grains mixed with water, while some Ashkenazi
authorities maintain that with fruit juice, the whole thing becomes
'hametz even faster. Since I didn't check these sources (a wedding
prevented me from properly preparing that shi'ur), I can only speculate
about what the latter authorities do with the Talmud's statement about
mei peirot einam ma'hmitzim.

As far as the question RGJS asked, what the difference is between rice
and the 5 grains, I vaguely recall seeing a Orthodoxy and science journal
in the YU library a few years ago, where someone explained that there
is a common ingredient in the 5 grains, which isn't found in rice, and
which explains the qualitatively different kind of rising of dough that
is found in these two categories.

Arie Folger

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 11:42:24 -0500
From: "Glasner, David" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
killing kinim on Shabbat

Micha Berger wrote:
> RnTK asked about the contradiction between the existence of the
> expression "beitzei kinim" and this din.

Since seeing this question a while ago, I assumed that it would be
answered in due course. Alas, I was mistaken. If you check the sugya
in Shabbat 107b, you will see that when the position of the Hakhamim
who permit the killing of lice is attributed to the supposition that
lice do not procreate, Abaye reacts in amazement and objects

v'kinah einah para v'rava? v'ha'amar mar yosheiv hakadosh barukh hu
v'zan mi-karnei re'eimim v'ad beitzei kinim.

Which Abaye and the Gemara believe proves conclusively that in fact
lice do procreate (kinah parah v'rava) and therefore may not be killed
on the Sabbath. Note that this is based on the existence of beitzim and
has nothing to do with their size or whether they are readily visible.
Moreover the Gemara elsewhere in the sugya has no problem assuming
that other tiny creatures, whose eggs presumably are of similar size
to lice eggs, procreate and therefore may not be killed on the Sabbath.
The Gemara is clearly operating on the presumption that lice procreate
if and only if there is such a thing as lice eggs of whatever size, since
the whole point of the master's saying is obviously to show that the care
of the Almighty extends even to the most insignificant of his creatures.
What could be less significant than the egg of a louse? This would seem
to be a conclusive refutation, but the spokesman for the Hakhamim is
able to come up with a truly breathtaking escape from an apparently
hopelessly untenable position with the following retort.

mina hu d'mikri betizi kinim

I.e., sorry, but although you thought that you knew that "beitzi kinim"
means the eggs of lice, it means nothing of the kind. "Beitzi kinim"
is the name of a heretofore unknown (and subsequently undeard of)
species. Now, aside from being totally implausible on its face, the retort
also makes nonsense of the master's saying, because the master was clearly
trying to contrast the horns of rams (very noticeable) with eggs of lice
(practically invisible) while comparing two objects that are appendages
to a living thing The retort obliterates both the antithesis and the
parallelism. Nevertheless, the Gemara accepts this answer as a rationale
for the position of the Hakhamim. But it is clear from the sugya that it
is the existence of eggs which is the defining characteristic of periah
v'riviah, so that, b'mekhilat k'vod torato, the attempt of R. Dovid
Lipschutz, which Reb Micha has tried so hard to defend, to reconcile
the Gemara with the actual metzius is mufrakh mineih u'veih.

David Glasner

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 13:00:41 -0500
From: bdcohen@optonline.net
Tal uMotor

RM Bluke wrote:
"The Gregorian calendar fixed this drift, however, our calculation for
the tekufa was never updated and therefore does not actually fall on
the equinox."

While this is an accurate explanation of why the change to tal u'matar is
Dec. 5, it really makes no sense. I assume that originally the beginning
of tekufah=solstice. The solstice was labeled, originally by the Julian
calendar as approx. Sept. 21. The solstice is constant, the drift is
in the labelling. So now, after the Pope Gregory fixed the labelling,
the beginning of tal u'mator should be sixty days after the solstice. the
date/label should be irrelevant. What am I missing?

David I. Cohen

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Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 14:30:45 +0200
From: The Salant Foundation <miler23@netvision.net.il>
The 25th of Shevat

L'zecher nishamos Rav Yochanon Motel ben Rav Ephraim and Moras Esther
Leah bas Rav Yehudah Yoseph B"H

Mussar -- The Wisdom of Personal Growth

Dear Friend,
Today is the 123rd Yarzeit of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. He professed that
the greatest way to enhance one's own spirituality is to influence others
to engage in Mussar study.

With blessings of peace and faith,

Rabbi Zvi Miller


Let a person's heart not despair if he studies Mussar and is not awakened
or if he feels no impression on his soul motivating him to change his
path. It is known with certainty that even if the physical eye does
not perceive the impression, the eyes of the intellect nevertheless,
perceive it. Through an abundance of Mussar study over an extended
period of time, the hidden impressions will accumulate, and he will be
transformed into a different person. Experience testifies even through a
cursory observation, that Mussar study elevates a person above his peers,
both in thought and conduct.

Avos D'Rebbi Nosson (chapter six) teaches: "What was the beginning of
Rabbi Akiva? It is told that at the age of forty, he had learned no Torah
whatsoever. Once, while standing next to a well, he queried, 'Who chiseled
this stone?' They responded to him, 'The water that continuously falls on
it every day.' They said to him further, 'Akiva, aren't you aware of the
verse, 'Stones are worn away by water' (Iyov 14:19)?' Immediately, Rabbi
Akiva thought: 'If that which is soft carves into that which is hard,
then all the more so, the words of Torah, which are as hard as iron,
will penetrate into my heart, which is flesh and blood!' Immediately,
he returned to study Torah....'"

We see from the fact that Chazal state that Rabbi Akiva "returned"
to study," that Rabbi Akiva experienced a problem when he began to
study. When he found his Torah studies left no impression on him, he
was convinced that it was hopeless for him to continue. They showed
him a contradiction to his way of thinking: the contradiction was the
wearing away of the stone engendered by the continuous flowing of the,
water on the stone. The changing of the stone is not discernable to the
senses, whatsoever. In reference to this, the scientists decreed that
an impression is made that is imperceptible to man. Thus, the groove on
the stone is caused by the abundant flow of water on the stone, over an
extended period of time, that continuously renders a series of cumulative,
impalpable impressions.

Let a person pour abundant water upon his soul by engaging in Mussar
study. Slowly and imperceptibly, impressions will be generated within
his heart that will guide him to the path of life -- the study of
Torah. Moreover, Torah study itself is likened to water. These sweet
waters will penetrate into his heart; they will guard him from all evil,
and transform his ways to good.

 "Emussar" Copyright  2006 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 00:42:30 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: killing kinim on Shabbat

On Thu, Feb 23, 2006 at 11:42:24AM -0500, Glasner, David wrote:
: ...                               But it is clear from the sugya that it
: is the existence of eggs which is the defining characteristic of periah
: v'riviah, so that, b'mekhilat k'vod torato, the attempt of R. Dovid
: Lipschutz, which Reb Micha has tried so hard to defend, to reconcile
: the Gemara with the actual metzius is mufrakh mineih u'veih.

But RDL's teirutz is that even though the eggs of tola'im physically
exist, since they aren't of visible size, they shouldn't impact
halakhah. Birth from microscopic eggs isn't piryah verivyah. He was
talking about achilah -- this was a shiur in Chullin.

I tried extending this to Shabbos, originally because I missed the whole
tola'im vs kinim distinction. However, I think it could still apply --
but only to kinim that come from invisibly small eggs. IOW, if some
kinim could be killed on Shabbos, and others would be the ones that we
find today.

This may involve perhaps a nishtaneh hateva in the demographics of
breeds of louse, but not one as extreme as asserting that there was
abiogenesis in the days of Chazal.


Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 11:40:51 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
RE: Zebu and mesorah

R. Joel Rich wrote:
> "What is the origin of turkey?
> Turkey is short for "turkey-cock" or "turkey-hen," originally the name
> for the African guinea fowl....
> There likely was a mesorah about the African guinea fowl which explains
> the original acceptance....

History of the turkey:

Compare these images:

IMHO a zebu is much closer to a cow than a turkey is to an African guinea

Kol tuv,

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Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 13:06:24 +0200
From: "Akiva Blum" <ydamyb@actcom.net.il>
re: zebu and turkey

>RABlum wrote:
>>The Netziv writes that the chochom compared it to a kosher goose (shenireh
>>lo shehu min avaz hatohor), i.e. a known kosher bird. Also the tarnegolta
>>d'agma of the Gemora, they compared it to a chicken (hoyu medumim shehu
>>min tarnegol), i.e. they understood that what they had was the same as
>>the type they had been eating up till now. In both cases, the heter is
>>based on continuing a known mesorah and assuming that this is included
>>within that mesorah.

>But the point is that the chochom did not believe that there was a mesorah
>for turkey itself (which is a New World bird, and therefore there cannot
>have been a mesorah), just that a turkey can be compared with a goose.

>A zebu is much closer to a cow than a turkey is to a goose!

The Netziv does not mean a common goose. He means a type of [known to
him] kosher goose. We have no idea what this bird was, except that it
must have been very similar to a turkey.

Whereas one could argue that a zebu is close enough to a common cow to
equate, one cannot claim that the CI would agree, or that nowadays he
would pasken any differently.

Akiva Blum

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Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 16:43:13 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Creation & allegory

On February 20, 2006, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> As I stated in my original post I am merely stating that the Abarbanel
> and Shem Tov understood the Moreh Nevuchim 2:30 to mean that the Rambam
> did not hold that the six days of creation were historical but were
> allegorical. If you accept this view 

Actually I don't. But for now, I would like to focus on the Abarbanel. I
will leave the Shem Tov for another post (hopefully RZL or RJO will
jump in). Although I accept that you may have been misled by some of
the Abarbanel's verbiage in his kushyos, his maskana is unequivocal. See
page 86 second column 14 lines down as follows (my translation):

"Behold you see that the opinion of the Rav (Rambam) was not that all of
MB was an allegory, rather, only a small part of it (he means Bereishis
2), and that all which is mentioned [in the Torah] regarding the activity
of the six days, from the creation of the heavens and the earth, and
all of the phenomena, and the creation of Adam and his wife, up until
[the passage of] "v'yichulu", have no allegory whatsoever for everything
(i.e. all of the verses in Bereishis 1) was [understood as] literal to
him [the Rambam], and therefore you will see that in this very chapter,
#30 in the second section, in all which the Rav has explicated regarding
the activity of the six days, he did not make [of MB] an allegory or a
hint at all; rahter, he did the exact opposite, for he made a concerted
effort to support the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and accepted all
of the verses [of Bereishis 1] literally..."

I think you will agree that the Abarbanel's view of the Rambam seems

I was bouncing my rantings and ravings off of RJO and he explained
to me that the Abarbanel has a unique literary style. Much of what
he writes in his kushyos is exaggerated; his method in laying out his
issues is professorial or pedagogue-like. One must wait for the "teretz"
in order to identify the Abarbanel's real approach. I looked back at
the Abarbanel's 42 questions and RJO'S assessment seems to be right on
target. (He actually explained it a lot better than this; I am not doing
justice to his presentation)

>> Take a look in Kapach's edition page 233 footnote #21. A close reading
>> of the Rambam yields the real pshat. He wasn't rejecting Chazal. He
>> was rejecting the apparent implication of their words. He (Rambam)
>> himself did not believe that they meant this. Kapach's interpretation
>> is actually supported by the Rambam himself who states, regarding R'
>> Eliezer, "would that I understood what this sage holds...(2:26).

> Actually what R' Kapach says is "It is not conceivable that chazal would
> mean what they seem to be saying - just as the words of R' Eliezar are
> not to be taken literally. Because G-d forbid that a Jew should believe in
> the eternity of the Universe as indicated by the literal reading of their
> words. Even if you stubbornly insist that they meant what they said - one
> should not pay attention to the authority of the one who says it. Truth
> is not determined by authority but by the validity of what is said."

I'm not sure what you are after by translating his note but I appreciate
it. As you can see, Kapach claims that the Rambam himself did not feel
that Chazal believed in kadmus "It is not conceivable that chazal would
mean what they seem to be saying"

>> I would like to clarify something. RDE is obviously influenced by the
>> Abarbanel's shita that Chazal could not have meant to claim that yeish
>> mayayin did not occur on every day. Thus, he sees the Rambam, Rashi and the
>> Ramban to be understanding MB allegorically, at least to the extent that
>> there was no creation on days 2-6. My response to this is that the Rambam et
>> al is not forced to accept the Ababanel's problems as real issues.

> As I have repeated stated - I am not asserting my views on these
> matters.

But you are. Because you understand Rashi, Rambam and Ramban to be
allegorizing MB and I quote: "the concept of the "correct" answer seems
to break down when studying Bereishis. As is obvious from the literal
meaning of the text - there were 6 historical days of creation. However
if you insist that everything was created on the first day - then
you have a problem as to how light was created on both the first and
fourth days. If you accept the view that it was the same light - then
you have to reject the original understanding that there were six days
of creation. The Abarbanel is very bothered by this issue and insists
that the language of the Torah does not allow for a non creation view
of the six days. But that is what Rambam, Ramban and apparently Rashi do.

Correct me if I am wrong (or perhaps you already have...)

> Furthermore you haven't presented convincing evidence that the
> Rambam et al would reject the understanding of Shem Tov and the Abarbanel.

O.k.... a challenge. So here's a mareh makom. Moreh 2:25. The Rambam is
quite clear there. Unless you have incontrovertible evidence (as in ten
proofs that Yad Hashem is really anthropomorphic) the pesukim must be
taken literally. QED

Simcha Coffer 

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