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Volume 17 : Number 062

Sunday, June 4 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2006 18:19:07 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Marcus Aurelius versus Haman (was Nasi)

On May 30, 2006, Lisa Liel wrote:
> I also remember hearing a story about R' Yehudah HaNasi bowing down to
> Antoninus as a kind of tikkun for the fact that Binyamin hadn't bowed
> down to Eisav, though I may be mangling that.

I think so. Whenever Antoninus and Rebbi would meet in one of their
clandestine meetings, Antoninus would wait on Rebbi with food and
drink. If Rebbi wanted to rest, he would bend down and request that
Rebbi step on him to get up onto the bed. Rebbi never bowed down to
Antoninus. The ideal relationship between Yaakov and Eisav was this
one as foretold in the Torah (es achicha ta'avod). Had this happened
regularly, our history would have surely been different. Unfortunately the
descendants of Eisav, for the most part, did not fulfil their destiny. For
a description of the relationship between Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius)
and Rebbi, see Avodah Zara 10b.

As far as your comment regarding a tikkun for Binyamin, actually, the
proper hashkafa is "punkt farkert". The Maharal in Or Chadash (on the
pasuk u'Mordechai lo yichra vi'lo yishtachaveh) explains that Mordechai,
who was from the shevet of Binyamin, bidavka did not bow down to Haman
(Eisav). In fact, he looked for opportunities to appear before Haman just
so he could make a show of not bowing down to him. The Medrash says that
Mordechai claimed as follows: How can I bow to Eisav? I am the 'Sigamon'
of the King as it states "LiVinyamin amar Yedid Hashem...u'vein kisaivav
shachein" and thus I can not bow to Haman so that the Shechinah that
rests between my shoulders should not depart". Maharal explains that it
would have been a chilul Hashem for Mordechai to bow to Haman as if one
who is "yishkon lavetach alav (dwells in security on Hashem) must cower
in fear in front of this Rasha. Mordechai's lot was to trust in Hashem
that he would be matzil him from Haman.

For a profound understanding of this Maharal and how Mordechai's actions
relate to our Avodas Hashem please see Rav Dessler chelek Beis pg. 130.

Simcha Coffer   

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Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 18:59:02 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Something I notice every year: the chumash excerpts in the Tikkun seem
somewhat random. The beginnings get cut off, and the ends pick up, in
strange places. If it were always the first and last three pesukim of
each sedra, I would understand that. But it isn't. I can't deduce a
consistent rule from the text. So I wonder, who set that text? Was it
the Shelah himself, or some bochur hazetzer working from the Shaloh's
general instructions? If the latter, then we need pay his decisions
no attention, and can decide for ourselves where it makes sense to stop
and start (perhaps a strict 3 pesukim, or perhaps something else).

Personally, what makes sense to me is to stop where the cohen stops on
Mon/Thu/Mincha, and pick up again at maftir. Those breaks sometimes
make little sense too, and I've heard it suggested that they were also
chosen by some bochur hazetzer, but at least they're widely accepted
for better or worse.

Zev Sero

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Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 19:41:49 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Eruv Tavshilin

Why does the nusach suddenly switch from Aramaic to Hebrew, for the
last phrase?

FWIW, Machzor Livorno (Italian nusach) doesn't switch languages --
the last phrase is "lana ulechol yisrael dismichin al eruva haden".
It also gives the bracha for separating chalah is "lehafrish terumah",
offering "chalah" only as an alternative.

Zev Sero

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Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2006 22:21:16 -0400
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
"His Revelation Is Continuous. New Aspects of the Torah Unfold Constantly. The More We Study It, The More It Expands" Sefas Emes on Ps.146:19

The last few hours of Shabbos and Shavuos today witnessed a violent and
intense downpour of rain and thunder in my town. In While saying the
b'rocho for hearing thunder, I realized that the word "olom" was repeated
(an uncommon occurrence in a b'rocho). "Boruch ato HaShem Elokeinu
Melech haolom shekocho g'vuroso molei olom." [The other two b'rochos
where "olom" is repeated is "upon seeing exceptionally beautiful people,
trees or fields" and "upon seeing fruit trees in bloom during the spring
which may be recited only once each year"].

I could not help but think of the association of the thunder (and
lightening) connected to the giving of the Torah. I then saw a symbolism
of the word "olom" repeated twice in the b'rocho for thunder. The
first time "olom" is mentioned is to indicate HaShem is the King of the
universe; and the second time it is mentioned is in reference to the
Torah having been given and through the Torah we hopefully realize that
"His strength and His power fill the Universe.

In this realization, may we be worth to merit BOTH Olam ha'zeh as well
as Olam Haba.

Richard Wolberg

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 15:11:44 -0400
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Calling A Spade A Spade: Rambam and Kollel

From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
> I don't know how much of an estate Rav Maimon was able to bring with
> him to Egypt, how much had to be used towards the family, or how much
> of it the Rambam used to support his own family, although it seems that
> without his brother's support it wasn't enough.

His brother was a trader (in precious gems, if I recall correctly),
who regularly travelled to India. A trade like that required a great
deal of capital, and I don't understand why you discount the possibility
that the Ramabm's brother was the family agent rather than sole owner
of his business.

David Riceman 

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Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2006 21:35:56 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Nevu'ah in Hebrew?

In an email from torahweb.org, R' Herschel Schachter told the following:
> One Shabbos morning the students came to the beis medrash for Shacharis
> and there was a strange looking fellow, obviously not a student, and
> obviously missing some of his marbles, putting on tefillin. It didn't seem
> that he simply had not realized that it was Shabbos, so we all stayed away
> from him. When Rav Dovid Lifshitz arrived, he walked over to the young man
> and spoke to him softly in Hebrew. He pointed out that today is Shabbos
> and tefillin are not worn. The young man responded that he knows that,
> but he had received a nevuah (a prophecy) that he should wear tefillin
> today, despite the fact that it was Shabbos! Reb Dovid was not phased
> by his reply. He simply continued the conversation and asked, "in what
> language was this nevuah"? The young man replied -- in English. Whereupon
> Reb Dovid told him softly, "you must be mistaken. Nevuas are only given
> in Hebrew." Whereupon the young man thanked him for his clarification
> and he proceeded to remove his tefillin.

> We were stunned watching all of this! You have to master abnormal
> psychology to be able to convince a meshugena that he's wrong. The possuk
> in Sefer Melochim (I:5:11) says that King Shlomo was blessed with wisdom,
> and was "wiser than any other person". The rabbis understand this to
> imply afilu min hashotim -- that he was even wiser than the meshugaim!!

RnCL and I were discussing this issue as part of the greater Noach debate,
which therefore ended when the context ended. But never actually resolved.

According to the Rambam, Moshe Rabbeinu was the only one who received
devarim as nevu'ah. Every other nevu'ah was through chazon, visions,
that needed interpreting.

Was RDL "stretching" the truth for the greater good when he told this
fellow that nevu'ah is only in Hebrew? Or is he basing himself on someone
who is choleiq with the Rambam? I don't know of anyone, but that doesn't
prove much.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 00:30:17 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re:Calling a spade a spade

Wed, 31 May 2006 from: "Meir Shinnar" <chidekel@gmail.com>:
> RZL insists that simple pshat in the letter of the rambam means that the 
> rambam receives financial support from his brother, while I think that 
> the simple meaning is that ...rambam's brother ... invested the family assets....

> The pshat that beyado mamon rav li (understanding that we are dealing 
> with a hebrew translation) ...

No, the Rambam wrote it in the Hebrew we have before us (see Rav Sheilat's

> ...is quite understandable if we are dealing that 
> the rambam's brother had money invested by the rambam. RZL wishes to 
> argue that it also makes sense if the money was tzedaka the rambam was 
> expecting from his brother...However, even if, for the sake of argument, one assumes it does, at the least, the other pshat remains viable. 

No, I made it quite clear that I argue it /only/ makes grammatical and
known-usage sense if referring to money the Rambam was expecting to
receive from his brother. "Mammon li" does not mean "mammon shelli" or

> It is clear that in the rambam's discussion of support of talmide 
> chachamim, he does not have any mention of support by the family. 
> ... If the rambam believed as RZL does, he would have 
> written it.

No, because family support is irrelevant to the problem of introducing
the marketplace into Torah-learning. The Rambam also does not mention that
it is permitted for brothers to help each other in other ways, gratis or
otherwise. There is no reason for the Rambam to mention its permission,
because there is no reason to think family support is forbidden in the
first place.

> Further, in the rambam's many writings, the midrash about 
> yissachar and zevulun is not cited anywhere - and indeed, it goes against 
> the rambam's shitta (after all, the tribes of yissachar and zevulun were 
> not that close family).

That a Midrash is not cited is not necessarily a problem. But the Talmud
advocates the Yissachar-Zevulun type of arrangement between the brothers
Azarya and Shimon, and criticizes Shavna's unwillingness to support
his brother Hillel's learning (until after he gained renown). Once we
appreciate that family support has nothing to do with public support,
it becomes manifest why the Rambam does not consider these sources as
problematic to his shitta, and indeed supportive of it: the Rambam
obviously takes these two examples about brothers to be davka about
brothers, and therefore exclusive of others. And it leaves intact the
naturally understandable desireability of someone helping out a family
member without monetary input from the one being helped. Even if it's
helping someone learn Torah undistracted.

> Therefore, he insists that a possible shitta 
> be accepted just so that the rambam not be viewed as forbidding such 
> support - without any real support from the rambam.

This is a poor and false representation of my arguments.

>> It [salaries, stipends and public financial support of rabbanim and 
>> students of Torah] is called midas chassidus rather than lecatchila 
>> because it is difficult to call the practice of so many kehillot 
>> lecatchilla. 

>>(I made aan error -I meant difficult to call the practice of so many 
>>kehillot bedievad ... - this may explain RZL's post 

Funny, I actually read the original as if it did say "bedieved"! And
that's why I wrote:

>I'm afraid RMS is misunderstanding the sources. The kehillos which 
>supported their lomdei Torah had this practice predating the Rambam 
>as well as during his time and antedating him, and as he himself says, 
>they considered it a mitzva. 

>WRT his long analysis of the Kesef Mishne, he finds my interpretation 
>weak, I find his interpretation unsustainable. I don't think anything 
>will convince him - but read the kesef mishne as if the issue was not 
>such a hot button topic, but say, on hilchot eruvin - and I think that 
>my reading is crystal clear... 

Well, actually I find RMS' interpretation unsustainable, etc. Looks like
we reached an impasse.

>WRT to the one specific argument - RZL misunderstands the rambam's 
>position. This is a time of famine, and feeding them is actually 
>hatzalat nefashot (we are not talking about giving money - there was 
>a food shortage). It is well recognized that in issues of hatzalat 
>nefashot, talmide chachamim have precedence. In spite of this, because 
>of the well known and universally accepted (at the time of the mishna) 
>issur of profiting from being a talmid chacham, R Yonatan be amram refused 
>to accept the food - because he thought the issur of using the torah in 
>this case applied, because, after all, something of monetary value was 
>being distributed - and it wasn't a clear case of hatzalat nefashot.

Again RMS is just ignoring what I wrote. I already noted that this
approach can be used to take the kushya off the Rambam, but that it
neutralizes it as a raaya for his position. Also, it was but one example
of several where the Rambam's attempted raaya actually demonstrates that
refusing monetary support for learning was the exceptional decision of
an individual, a middas chassidus.

I will close by plagiarizing RMS' opening:
>However, at the end, I find his readings forced 
>and unnatural - and people will have make thir own decisions. There are 
>not many more iterations about what is, IMHO, simple pshat.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 10:58:51 +0300
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

There is a bigger question on this, what about the mitzva of Tosefes
Yom Tov which according to some rishonim is d'oraysa? How does Temimos
fit with that? How come we do not fulfill the mitzva of Tosefes Yom Tov
on Shavuos?

Interestingly enough, the Netziv in Chumash agrees that you shouldn't
daven maariv early on Shavuous night for a different reason (he rejects
the Taz's reason of temimios). He says that since it says b'etzem hayom
hazeh by Shavuos (in Parshas Emor), b'etzem teaches us that there is no
din of tosefes yom tov. This is the Netziv's chiddush, there is no such
drash in Chazal.

An additional question on the whole idea of temimos is what if you daven
maariv late on night, and then the next night you dave maariv earlier,
where is the temimos?

RYBS explained that temimos means that the count has to be consecutive
you can't miss a day.

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 10:47:54 +0300
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
RE: source for stmnt attributed to Rav Herzog z"l

Lisa Leil asked:
> Of course, this really begs the question as to whether the situation
> that currently exists is something which, if ended, would be considered
> a third exile. As opposed to a continuation of the second exile.

RHS said that history decides. Bar Kochva's time period is called the Bar
Kochva rebellion and is therefore not a chutrban. RHS thought that since
Israel was recognized by the UN as a country, and is in fact recognized
throughout the world as a sovereign Jewish state, it's destruction would
be a third churban which is not going to happen.

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 14:08:21 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Waiting to Daven Maariv on Shavuous

RMB wrote:
> 1- Shiv'ah neqi'im? If bedikah is somewhat after sheqi'ah, the whole
> day could be lost. There are other examples from taharos.

??? That proves RDSchoemann's point. Min hadin, the last day need not
be complete, it is just because of the strnigency of karet that we wait
until evening. And for a nidah deOraita, it is irrelevant when in the
day she became a nidah.

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 12:39:16 +0300
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
eruv tavshilin

A question that came up this past chag which we could not find explicitly

Is there any problem is setting up a dinner on shavuot for the shabbat
immediately after assuming an eruv tavshilin has been made. The question
consists of two parts

1. Eruv Tavishin only works for things connected tro a meal. Some Poskim
allow washing dishes as that is considered as meal related. How far does
this heter apply?

2. Since one can easily set up after shabbat begins does ET apply or
only to items that are needed to be done before shabbat. We found a
shaare teshuva at the end of hichot succah that talks about shenini
azeret/simchat Torah that indicates it might be prohibited but it is
not clear.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2006 14:24:17 +0200
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: Tikkun Leil Shavuot

> Something I notice every year: the chumash excerpts in the Tikkun
> seem somewhat random. The beginnings get cut off, and the ends pick up,
> in strange places. If it were always the first and last three pesukim
> of each sedra, I would understand that. But it isn't...
> Personally, what makes sense to me is to stop where the cohen stops
> on Mon/Thu/Mincha, and pick up again at maftir. Those breaks sometimes
> make little sense too, and I've heard it suggested that they were also
> chosen by some bochur hazetzer, but at least they're widely accepted
> for better or worse.

R' Hamburger shlit"e in vol. III of his excellent Shorshe Minneg Ashkenez
writes about the different compilations.

An entirely different question is what sense it makes anyway, in other
words, why taking the first three and the last three psukem, or the
first and the last mishne of a massechte, is not considered random. Don't
advocates of "kabbala" argue it gives meaning to otherwise formalistic
mitzves and customs? (-> arvm?)

[ 8~)

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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 21:32:21 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: measuring the mean lunar month

On Sun, Jun 04, 2006 at 03:34:46PM -0400, RCM wrote:
:> By the time you had enough months to have an accurate average molad,
:> the number you're trying to measure has changed.

: I think we all agree on the science, although we were talking at
: cross purpose. I was concerned with the actual change of duration from
: conjunction to conjunction, while you were referring to the minor drift
: in the mean value over longer periods.

I'm actually speaking about both.

As RAM showed using historical data, it would require averaging over a
long period in order to get the mean molad by observation accurate to
the nearest cheileq.

However, during a long period, the mean molad lengthens. By how much?
Well, how could they have known -- they didn't have a mean molad, never
mind enough means over history to get a trend line.

So, they had no way of getting enough observations to get the mean from
the chaotic fluctuations about that mean, since there aren't enough
months to be observed for any given mean.

RJDS wrote:
> I didn't make myself clear. The figure we use as the average time
> between one molad and the next was known to Hipparchus, who got it in
> his turn from the Babylonians. To suggest that Chazal worked it out for
> themselves is to say that they did not know the standard astronomical
> texts which would have been available to all educated people...

Which also proves that it was /I/ who wasn't clear.

I'm arguing that the mean is impossible to ascertain by measurement --
by Chazal OR by the Babylonians. And thus it's quite reasonable to accept
the Chazal which says the value was given miSinai, and the Bavliim got
it from us. After all, they only used the Metonic cycle around 500 bce,
after we arrived.

Alternatively, someone was lucky, and got the correct value by
surrendipitous error. Could be, but is it more likely than just taking
the Mekhilta at face value?

When I wrote that "Chazal had to estimate", I meant that /any/ value
for the molad or for the year must be an estimate -- irrational numbers
can't be fully written out. Not that they had to come up with their
own estimation anew. So, the question is one of acceptable precision,
not of whether they were aware they were estimating.


Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2006 18:04:08 +1000
From: Joe Slater <avodah@slatermold.com>
measuring the mean lunar month

R' Micha Berger wrote:
>> With all due respect to the professor, surely Hazal would
>> have been even wiser to do what the non-Jewish sages
>> of their time did, and use the Greek astronomer Hipparchus
>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipparchus_%28astronomer%29>' tables....

> Why? Any measure of the solar year will only be an estimate. There is
> no unit of measure, other than using the solar year itself, in which the
> length would be a rational number. The ratios of molad to year or day to
> year (or day to molad) are all irrational, and can always be expressed
> to more digits of precision.

> So, chazal had to estimate. 

I didn't make myself clear. The figure we use as the average time between
one molad and the next was known to Hipparchus, who got it in his turn
from the Babylonians. To suggest that Chazal worked it out for themselves
is to say that they did not know the standard astronomical texts which
would have been available to all educated people. The same goes for the
length of the tropical year and many other astronomical periods.


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Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2006 15:30:50 -0400
From: "Prof. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Teaching Midrashim Literally

At the suggestion of an Areivim Moderator I am sending this to Avodah.

The Jewish Press [Full article at <http://tinyurl.com/lctnp> -mi]
Shortchanging Our Children By Teaching Midrashim Literally
By: Rabbi  Pinchas Rosenthal"

(Quoted from a message from Ms Toby Katz posted on Areivim.)

For a detailed critique of this article see

Also, how does all of this square with the following?
 From The Musar Movement by Rabbi Dov Katz 
(English translation) footnote, pages 301-302.

    "2. See S. Mark, op. cit., pp. 8890. The author also relates that
    Prof. Hermann Helmholtz, the famous philosopher and scientist, evinced
    an interest in meeting R. Israel, and an animated conversation took
    place between the two of them. Helmholtz seized the opportunity to
    express his surprise that the Talmud, which is built on such solid
    and logical foundations should have given space to such legends which
    sound like fanatical and outlandish fantasies, such as the stories
    of Rabbah bar bar Chana, which tell of a bird standing in the sea,
    with the water reaching up to its feet, and its head to heaven (Baba
    Batra 73b). R. Israel answered by using an analogy: They were living
    in 1871, after Germany had won its great victory over France. The
    King of Prussia had been crowned Kaiser of all Germany. His emblem
    was an eagle. Previously it had been one-headed; now it had become
    two-headed. Hundreds of poets and authors had celebrated the event
    in diverse forms. He himself had read a poem in which the author
    had given a description of the glory of modern Germany in these
    terms: The great German eagle had one head reaching out to Memel
    and the other to Metz; its one wing tip touched Kiel and the other
    Badensee. They knew the reference.

    The poet had described how far German territory now extended in all
    four directions. Now, the professor could imagine to himself that
    600 years hence  when no one would remember how Germany had been
    fragmentized in principalities and the metaphoric description of the
    rise of the monarchy  someone would find a story of a two-headed
    eagle with wings extending some 300 miles in some library. Would he
    not express the same opinion as the professor had on the stories of
    Rabbah bar bar Chana?

    Obviously, just as they understood the import of the two-headed
    eagle, so did the people of those times understand the implications
    of those stories, which were certainly richer in content than the
    mere description of an eagle. It was because the present was so far
    removed from that epoch that the description seemed so absurd to
    them. Similar approaches had to be adopted towards the other Aggadot
    of the Talmud as well. The reply is characteristic for R. Israel,
    and shows his rationalistic bent."

>BTW, I heard a similar story recently about Rav Yitzchok Blazer. The last
>Czar of Russia liked to issue edicts that disrupted the lives of people. Once
>he signed an edict evicting all of the people from a certain district.
>Everybody was forced to leave the area with very short notice.

>  At this time some Maskilim asked Reb Itzele how anyone could believe in
>fantastic midrashim. Reb Itzele picked up a newspaper that had the headline
>"Czar caused 10,000 to move with 5 drops of ink." Reb Itzele said that we
>know what this means. That by signing the edict the Czar caused 10,000
>people to leave their homes. However, in future generations people who read
>the headline will wonder how anyone could believe that with 5 drops of ink
>the Czar caused such an upheaval. "The same is true of Medrashim," said Reb
>Itzele. They have a meaning that was known at the time that they were
>written down. However, today we no longer know their meaning, and they are not
>to be taken literally.

Yitzchok Levine 

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