Avodah Mailing List
Volume 17 : Number 025
Friday, April 28 2006
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 05:36:15 -0400
From: Micha Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Drifting of the Hebrew calendar
On Fri, Apr 28, 2006 at 10:42:44AM +0400, Simon Montagu wrote:
: I don't really understand the mathematics of this myself but it sounds
: as if the answer to your question is that we would need a cycle of 106
: years with 39 leap years.
The proportions day/month, month/year and day/year are all irrational
numbers. (Meaning, none of them are a fraction that can be expressed as
a ratio of two whole, or even rational, numbers. As decimals, they will
go on for ever, never repeating. You can always calculate the number to
any given degree of precision, but you can never represent it exactly.) A
cycle of 106 years is simply a more precise approximation, at the expense
of complexity. But ANY calendar will have to be an approximation.
It may make more sense to simply adjust for the current accumulation
of error, and reset a 19 yr cycle. The Sanhedrin might decide based
on the abilities of computing devices in their error. (I could just
see them publishing an algorithm in pseudocode; that is to say, an
almost-programming-language representation, the way these things are
published in computing journals.)
Micha Berger Today is the 15th day, which is
firstname.lastname@example.org 2 weeks and 1 day in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org Chesed sheb'Tifferes: What is the Chesed in
Fax: (270) 514-1507 harmony?
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Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 12:26:23 +0200
From: Minden <email@example.com>
Subject: pronouncing sheimes (was: Spilling out drops of wine at the Seder)
> "etzba Elokim" (which he spells with a heh, by the way).
Which reminds to ask the following question:
Do you pronounce the sheimes in the aggadic parts of the Haggode in their
"liturgical" way, or in the modern "lerning" way? My impression is that
most people inadvertently handle the text as if it was a tefille, though
they'd never pronounce the full names when they le(a)rn. Is it the nikked?
And: When did people stop pronouncing them un-K'd when learning mishnayes
and gemore anyway? Maybe at the same time 50 years ago when they stopped
writing God with an o, but I'm not sure.
Go to top.
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 07:22:40 EDT
Subject: Re: Spilling out drops of wine at the Seder
> Every year
> someone mentions the reason given by the non-O clergy as "we feel
> sorrow for the death of the Egyptians" and every year I, Lisa Liel
> and Zev Sero mention that this has zero factual basis in traditional
> Jewish sources....
> .... No touchy-feely "nebich the poor Egyptians" naarishkeit, a bizarre
> hypothesis that came out from the halls of the Reform and Conservative
> clergy in the late 1940's.
Since my father said it and he was a Gerrer chossid, I do not believe
it was a modern, newly made-up explanation.
There is a Chazal about Hashem saying to the angels, "My creatures
are drowning in the sea and you say Shira?!" The true explanation is a
combination of sorrow that human beings -- even evil ones -- had to die,
and sorrow that a part of Hashem's Creation had to be destroyed for
our Ge'ulah to take place.
From Avraham Avinu we see (by implication) that Jews do feel sorrow
about the deaths of human beings, even reshaim.
Also see the ArtScroll Machzor (quoting Sefer Hatoda'ah, whose original
source I don't know) that we blow the shofar 99 times to cancel the
100 wailings of Sisra's mother. Why not 100 times? Because we don't
totally cancel the tiny part of genuine grief felt by a mother at the
loss of her son -- even such a mother and such a son.
To my mind the fact that liberal Jews worry so much about the poor
Palestinians (while the poor Arabs do not worry about the sufferings of
the Jews) shows their essential Jewish neshama -- even if misguided in
terms of Realpolitik.
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Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 08:01:12 -0500
From: Lisa Liel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Spilling out drops of wine at the Seder
On Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 06:15:06 -0400, Micha Berger
>>>Thus, having compassion on the Mitzriyim is a Jewish value. Not,
>>>as R"D JB is portraying it, some non-O assimilation of American values.
>>None of these sources say that *we* are to have compassion on the
>>Egyptians. Only that Hashem did.
>Actually, the medrash begins with the question of why we say Chatzi
>Hallel on the 7th day, and gives the story as a motivation.
How is that relavant, if I may ask? Nowhere does it even suggest that
we grieve. Only that Hashem grieves. You could say, as an alternate
explanation, that on the very day when Hashem displayed such grief, we
are sensitive enough not to finish Hallel. It certainly makes as much
sense, ignoring all other context, as saying that we are moderating our
joy when we clearly do *not* moderate our joy. But given that other
context, it is the *only* reasonable explanation.
Again, we do not leave obvious apparent contradictions to sit without
comment. That's not the way the Torah works. If such a contradiction
isn't noted and discussed in the Gemara, then Tosfot would catch it.
Or if not Tosfot, then other Rishonim. If they didn't note it, it's
because they saw no contradiction. No "two different views" on this
subject. And if they saw no two different views here, it's somewhat
presumptuous to read conflicting views into our mesorah simply because
doing so fits modern mores and values.
>And this position, as I wrote, has a lengthy and pretty consistent
>history of support from the days of the Yalqut Shim'oni's sources
>until R' Aharon Kotler and today. I can see discussing the merits of
>the explanation, that's what RAZZ's JA column does. Unconvincingly,
>IMHO. He uses his standard "Misconception: .... Fact:..." format,
>but then cites many sources that support the idea. It may not be THE
>reason, merely "halachic hermenutics" as RYBS would have put it,
>lessons to be drawn after the fact. But "Misconception is an overstatement.
>I do not see how one can debate the Jewishness of the basic moral
>statement, though. Too many primary sources accept the idea, even if
>it evades your comprehension and startles you that they do.
I can only repeat that it isn't those sources which accept the idea.
It is your interpretation of those sources. And interpretation which
cannot be a valid one.
>>A valid question, in my opinion. And one which casts much doubt on
>>the idea that we do a partial Hallel to limit our joy due to the
>>death of people who were coming to kill us. After all, we didn't
>>kill the Egyptians. We actually killed our enemies on Hanukkah, and
>>yet we refrain from showing the kind of inappropriate compassion
>>that R' Micha would like to present as a Jewish value, and we
>>finish Hallel all 8 days of Hanukkah.
>Perhaps our doing it rather than Hashem doing it when we started out
>at "halalu ovdei AZ vehalalu ovdei AZ" is the difference. But based
>on what you write below about Megillah 16a, you should agree this is
>a question WRT Hallel and the death of the Misyavnim either way.
I don't understand what you mean. Ovdei avodah zarah are not considered
"Yisrael". Seder Eliyahu Rabba illustrates "binfol oyivcha al tismach"
by using the example of a talmid chacham who loses an argument to a
colleague one day, and the next day, the colleague loses. Jews who go
to war against Hashem and their own people are clearly a whole different
>>I heard the following from R' David Bar Hayim...
>Nice derashah, but I don't see how a contemporary derashah undoes
>nearly 2 millenia of history of discussing an ideal you wish to
>present as entirely unJewish.
Perhaps R' Micha could explain what he means by "derashah" in this
instance. I didn't cite any derashah in the name of R' Bar Hayim, but
rather an analysis of the pesukim and their understanding by Chazal,
complete with sources given. What "derashah" is R' Micha rejecting?
And once more, because redundancy is a virtue in cases like this,
the ideal of which you speak does not exist in our tradition. You are
reading it into those sources. They would never in a billion years have
set themselves up to dispute Chazal. You know this.
>> R' Bar Hayim further brings the Gemara in Megillah 16a:
>>So the Gemara itself says what Seder Eliyahu Rabbah says. And lest
>>you argue that this applies only to Amalekites, the Gemara
>>specifically says that the verse applies only to Jews.
>And therefore, to Misyavnim?
See my comments above. *Not* to Mityavnim.
>In which case, whole Hallel on Chanukah is /still/ a problem.
>Rather, I would say this disproves answers to the BY's question
>("What neis was there on the first day of Chanukah, the oil would
>have burned that day anyway -- so why isn't Chanukah a week?) that
>are based on the war. We're simply celebrating Chanukas haBayis, not
>war, not even on days when the associated battle was fought.
In Megillat Taanit, it says that the menorah on which the miracle of the
oil occurred wasn't even a kosher one. Rather, it was made of spears.
The very spears with which we'd been killing Mityavnim. That Hashem
performed a miracle on that menorah pretty much speaks to His view of
And really, you aren't suggesting that we say Hallel for 8 days because
of Hanukkat HaBayit, are you?
>But more to our point: "Binfol oyvekha", if taken literally, would
>prohibit making the day a celebration altogether, not simply
>whittling off parts of Hallel. One could smooth away the
>disagreement between this gemara and the medrash by saying that WRT
>nachriim, the joy exists albeit in coexistence with something else.
With all due respect, R' Micha, may I request that you quote Mishlei
correctly, and stop reading "binfol oyvekha" where it says "binfol
oyivkha"? As I noted in my previous post, it matters.
But you're absolutely right. If binfol oyivcha applied to the downfall
of our enemies in war, we wouldn't say Hallel at all, neither on Hanukkah
nor on Pesach. Therefore, it does not apply in that way.
Nor can you create a "disagreement between this gemara and the medrash".
We reconcile machloket. We don't create machloket where no one ever saw
it. And the idea of alloying our joy is utterly without basis in our
mesorah. We rejoice wholeheartedly in the obliteration of the Egyptians.
>>>The idea of deminishing Hallel because of the death of the
>>>Mitzriyim thus has a long history, from the Yalqut Shim'oni -- or
>>>even earlier, from the medrashim from which he takes his liqut --
>>>to R' Aharon Kotler. "Not Jewish"? "Naarishkeit"?
>>I will simply say that it is impossible, given all of the sources
>>that specifically say otherwise, to learn what the Yalkut is saying
>>the way R' Micha is learning it...
>So then perhaps it's time to open RAZZ's sources FOR the idea, and
>see how they (not just me) do learn it! It is not "impossible" if
>the ShL, the BY and the Taz do it.
That's exactly right. "If" they do it. They do not.
>>R' Elazar said: "He doesn't rejoice, but He causes others to
>>rejoice. We see this clearly when it says 'He will cause you to
>>rejoice' (Deuteronomy 28:63), rather than 'He will rejoice'. We see
>>it from that."
>>: The Gemara here states, explicitly that *only* Hashem's joy is diminished.
>No. We see that only Hashem doesn't rejoice at all.
Very well. We see a reduction (elimination, if you prefer) of rejoicing
on the part of Hashem. Hashem *only*. Not us.
>I do not call the Yalkut Shimoni "naarischkeit". But I can
>understand using that term for an idiosyncratic reading of the
>Yalkut that disregards the entirety of the Tanach and Gemara.
>Again, how many baalei mesorah must say it before it's not "idiosyncratic"?
I don't disagree with the baalei mesorah saying X. I disagree with you
deriving Y from their saying X. The Yalkut says what the Yalkut says.
The Beis Yosef reiterates it. R' Micha interprets this to be saying
something that would bring the Yalkut and the Beis Yosef into a hitherto
unknown machloket with Chazal. I call that idiosyncratic.
>>>So I stand by my insistance that by saying such compassion is
>>>unJewish, one is misrepresenting Judaism as being overly skewed
>>>toward din over rachamim. Judaism recognized the "dialectic
>>>tension" and requires us to both rejoice at the expression of
>>>Midas haDin, and feel the pain of the fact that tzalmei E-lokim
>>>had to die to accomplish it.
>>With all due respect to R' Micha, I think this may be one of the
>>reasons why R' Josh compared this way of thinking to the thinking
>>common in the Conservative movement. Judaism does not deal in
>Actually, dialectic tension is the *cornerstone* of RYBS's
>philsophy. From Adam I vs Adam II (Lonely Man of Faith), to
>religious man vs cognitive man (Ish haHalakhah), to community of
>fate vs community of destiny, to man serving community vs community
>serving man, etc....
I don't know enough about the Rav's teachings to be able to determine
whether you are representing them correctly or not. Perhaps he teaches
something he terms "dialectic tension". I do not believe he would
be teaching that machlokot are simply left without comment for over a
thousand years until modern ideas of inappropriate compassion bring them
to the forefront.
>RMMS also wrote that R' Nachman required it. He was asked how one
>can say both "Mitzvah gedolah lihyos besimchah tamid" and yet
>require aveilus during the 3 weeks. His answer: one can feel both.
The "mitzvah gedolah" statement is recent, Jewishly speaking, and
it is legitimate to ask how it can be reconciled with older sources.
That's not what you're doing. You're taking two older sources, which
no one in all of our history has seen as in conflict, and reading them
in such a way as to create a conflict. The conflict doesn't exist.
There are not two views here. Conflicting views say darshenu, and don't
wait until 5766 to do it.
>But more telling was his maqor (one used by RYBS on multiple
>occasions as well): When someone gets a large yerushah, he is
>mevareikh al hara AND al hatov.
Okay, now I'm seeing what the Rav may have meant by "dialectic tension".
In that case, I have to take issue with you applying that concept to
things said by Chazal, which no one in our entire history ever saw as
being in conflict. Only Seder Eliyahu Rabba came close to doing so,
by noting the conflict between "binfol oyivcha" and "ba'avod reshaim
rinah", and his resolution was that binfol oyivcha applies *only* to
oyivcha miYisrael. And note the singular declension, please, R' Micha.
Not oyvecha, but oyivcha. A personal enemy/opponent. Not a national one.
>>When opposing views exist, we drag them out into the open and
>>resolve them...A religion that's all about the "dialectic tension"
>>would see a machloket between Abbaye and Rabba and say, "Well,
>>maybe both of them are right." The entirety of Shas could be
>>contained in a single volume if that's what Judaism was about.
>You mean, the religion would say "Eilu va'eilu divrei E-lokim
>Chaim"? <g> The reason for dragging it out in the open is to (1)
>know all the "eilu"s, as they're Torah, (2) to get to "vehalakhah
>ke-", since we could only do one thing, not two contradictory ones.
>We may be able to feel two contradictory things, but we can't both
>do and not do something.
I will repeat it again. The Torah doesn't give us conflicting values
without discussing the conflict. No discussion existed in the Gemara.
None in the Rishonim. None in the Achronim. No conflict exists.
There are not two values here. There is one.
>Second, even had Judaism not embraced plurality, it would have been
>possible that dialectic tension did not necessitate plurality. IOW,
>that dealing with the fact that people internally are not consistent
>didn't mean that the Torah itself was open to multiple valid but
>contradictory models. The Torah does include plurality, but even if
>it hadn't, that wouldn't prove that it doesn't view man as living
>within a dialectic tension.
See, this is one of the reasons why I object to non-halakhic jargon
like "dialectic tension". It allows someone to take a concept like
"eilu v'eilu" and attach a rider to it that isn't similar at all.
Whatever terminology you use, R' Micha, it doesn't change the fact that
had any of our chachamim ever seen binfol oyivcha as meaning what you
claim it does, they would have noted that there is a view that is in
conflict with every single verse and sugya that deals with the issue
of our reaction to our enemies' downfall. They didn't. You cannot,
therefore, read a conflict into their words where none ever existed.
Go to top.
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 11:19:18 -0400
From: Jacob Farkas <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Spilling out drops of wine at the Seder
R' Micha Berger wrote:
>>The Perishah, as Lisa finally showed me, points you back to the
>>gemara. For all I know, his problem is that if the death of
>>Mitzriyim was cause for halving Hallel, what about Chanukah?
> A valid question, in my opinion. And one which casts much doubt on
> the idea that we do a partial Hallel to limit our joy due to the death
> of people who were coming to kill us. After all, we didn't kill the
> Egyptians. We actually killed our enemies on Hanukkah, and yet we refrain
> from showing the kind of inappropriate compassion that R' Micha would like
> to present as a Jewish value, and we finish Hallel all 8 days of Hanukkah.
The Hallel we recite on Hannukah is a Taqanas Hakhamim that was instituted
because of the miracle of the oil, as Rashi says (Shabbos 21b sv Mai
Hanukah - Al eizeh Neis q'va'uhah). That miracle was the catalyst to
the Q'va'um va'asa'um yamim tovim b'halel v'hoda'ah. While the military
conquest was a part in regaining control of the Beis Hamiqdash and the
Avodah, the Gemara nevertheless concluded that it was the miracle of oil
that was the reason for Q'vias Yom Tov. This could help explain why we
don't take into account the death of those who died in battle. Had the
q'vias yom tov and Hellel been for the miracles of unlikely victory,
who knows whether full Hallel would be appropriate.
> I heard the following from R' David Bar Hayim. It says in Mishlei
> 24:17 "binfol oyivcha al tismach". Oyivcha, and not oyvecha, as R'
> Micha mistakenly quoted. In the singular. And it says in Mishlei 11:10,
> "ba'avod resha'im rinah". There is joy in the destruction of the wicked.
> And in Tehillim 58:11, it says "Yismach tzaddik ki chazah nakam; paamav
> yirchatz b'dam ha-rasha." And in Psikta d'Rav Kahane, it gives two
> reasons why we do not say full Hallel during Pesach. The second of
> these is that the Egyptians drowned.
While the Q'ri is Oyivkha, it is spelled like Oyevekha, which could be
why many people do quote it thusly. (Has anyone seen a reason why the
extra yud before the final kaf?)
> Given a problem like this, we don't assume a machloket, and we don't
> assume diametrically opposed views, because diametrically opposed views
> are always addressed as such. Our mesorah does not simply say two
> contradictory things and let them sit without comment.
> R' Bar Hayim notes that Seder Eliyahu Rabbah at the end of chapter 18
> actually refers to the conflict between Mishlei 24:17 and Mishlei 11:10.
> Seder Eliyahu Rabbah says on this, "Keitzad yitkaymu shnei ketuvim
> halalu?" How can these two psukim coexist? And it answers by saying
> that "binfol oyivcha al tismach" refers specifically to a fellow Jew.
> Which, R' Bar Hayim points out, fits the fact that the singular is used
> in Mishlei 24:17. It doesn't refer to our enemies, but rather to a
> personal enemy, or opponent, and one who is a fellow Jew, to boot.
Ba'avod Risho'im Rinah is used in the Gemara Sanhedrin 39b on the demise
> So the Gemara itself says what Seder Eliyahu Rabbah says. And lest you
> argue that this applies only to Amalekites, the Gemara specifically says
> that the verse applies only to Jews.
> He also notes the way in which Shirat HaYam is a full blown celebration
> of, among other things, the death of the Egyptians. "Tzallelu k'oferet
> ba-mayim adirim".
Shiras Hayam is different from Hallel, see Maharsha Sanhedrin 39b sv.
Umi Hadi QBH. [Although the Maharsha concludes that Hatzi Hallel on 7th
day of Pessah is Qorbanos related, he still introduces the concept of
Shiras Hayam being different from Hallel -jf]
>>The idea of deminishing Hallel because of the death of the Mitzriyim
>>thus has a long history, from the Yalqut Shim'oni -- or even
>>earlier, from the medrashim from which he takes his liqut -- to R'
>>Aharon Kotler. "Not Jewish"? "Naarishkeit"?
> I will simply say that it is impossible, given all of the sources that
> specifically say otherwise, to learn what the Yalkut is saying the way R'
> Micha is learning it. What is the alternative? The Gemara in Sanhedrin
> 39b says:
> "What is the meaning of 'and they did not draw near one to the other
> all the night' (Exodus 14:20)? At that time, the ministring angels
> wanted to sing praises before the Holy One, Blessed be He. The Holy One,
> Blessed be He, said to them: 'The work of My hands is drowning in the sea,
> and you're singing praises before Me?'"
> R' Elazar said: "He doesn't rejoice, but He causes others to rejoice.
> We see this clearly when it says 'He will cause you to rejoice'
> (Deuteronomy 28:63), rather than 'He will rejoice'. We see it from that."
> The Gemara here states, explicitly that *only* Hashem's joy is diminished.
> Why? Because the Egyptians are the work of His hands. They are not
> the work of *our* hands. And the angels are merely aspects of Hashem
> Himself, as we know. The verse "binfol oyivcha al tismach" applies to the
> Egyptians here *only* for Hashem Himself. In the same way that we should
> not rejoice over the downfall of a fellow Jew, so too does Hashem restrain
> Himself (kavayachol) from rejoicing over the downfall of His creations.
The concept of Binfol Oyivkha is not one that should be mentioned as
hanhagah of HQBH. Read the P'suqim in Mishlei 24:17-18, where in Pasuq
18 [the reason as to why Bifol Oyivkha Al Tismah is because] pen yir'eh
hashem v'ra b'einov, v'heishiv mei'alav appo.
The message of the Gemara is that HQBH is not happy with the Mapalah of
R'shaim. When R' Yosei Bar Hanina mentions hu eino sas aval aheirim
meisis, he is not specifically referring to Q'riyas Yam Suf, but on the
earlier meimra of Sh'ein HQBH Same'ah B'mapalasan shel R'sha'im.
> I do not call the Yalkut Shimoni "naarischkeit". But I can understand
> using that term for an idiosyncratic reading of the Yalkut that disregards
> the entirety of the Tanach and Gemara.
The Yalqut Shimoni (quoting the P'siqta) cannot be read or understood
any other way, not textually or conceptually. When the Midrash asks why
don't we say Hallel after the first day on Pessah as we do on Sukkos and
the answer is because it says Binfol Oyivkha Al Tismah, is there a
different way to understand this Midrash?
>>So I stand by my insistance that by saying such compassion is
>>unJewish, one is misrepresenting Judaism as being overly skewed
>>toward din over rachamim. Judaism recognized the "dialectic tension"
>>and requires us to both rejoice at the expression of Midas haDin,
>>and feel the pain of the fact that tzalmei E-lokim had to die to
> accomplish it.
> With all due respect to R' Micha, I think this may be one of the
> reasons why R' Josh compared this way of thinking to the thinking
> common in the Conservative movement. Judaism does not deal in
> "dialectic tension". When opposing views exist, we drag them out
> into the open and resolve them. It is not an exaggeration, I don't
> think, to say that resolving opposing views is the single most
> essential characteristic of Torah literature. Far from sitting
> happily with "dialectic tension", authentic Judaism is a constant
> battle against any such thing.
> A religion that's all about the "dialectic tension" would see a
> machloket between Abbaye and Rabba and say, "Well, maybe both of them
> are right." The entirety of Shas could be contained in a single
> volume if that's what Judaism was about.
Both are right. Halakhah could only be like one of them, though.
> Furthermore, I don't believe that Judaism is skewed either overly
> towards din *or* overly towards rachamim. Not a single verse in the
> Tanach suggests that *we* should worry ourselves about the downfall
> of our enemies. Not a single Gemara says it either. On the
> contrary, there are many verses and several Gemaras which say exactly
> the opposite. In the face of this, I cannot see how anyone could
> seriously suggest that later sources were essentially disputing the
> Gemara and Tanach. They *must* be read differently.
How would one the aformentioned P'siqta differently?
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