Avodah Mailing List

Volume 17 : Number 078

Wednesday, June 28 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 17:10:09 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Tzimtzum KePeshuto

On Thu, Jun 22, 2006 at 12:09:35AM -0400, hankman wrote:
: So perhaps they wanted to be given Torah to carry out its commandments
: (in the version of their instantation in your terminology)? Yet that
: would require that they have a bechira and change their entire nature
: from spiritual automoton to an entity with bechira and thus deserving
: of olam haba and the purpose of creation? Was this a struggle (request)
: to become the purpose of creation and resident of olam haba? The words
: t'no hodcha al hashomaim can be viewed as a more expansive request than
: the more direct t'no torascha al hashomaim. So again, "why didn't the
: angels put up a bigger fight," and what was MR's answer? It also raises
: the interesting question of just what sort of nivra can have bechira. Is
: it not only a murcav of ruchni and gashmi (guf and neshama) that can
: have bechira?

The idea would be a parallel to explanations of why Adam ate from the
eitz hada'as -- the notion that he did it in order to have the higher
level of avodas Hashem enabled by the more complicate bechirah of having
two yetzarim we all now live with.

A spoiler to the parallel: "Eitz Chaim hi", not eitz hada'as. The
mal'achim were asking for the tavlin to da'as tov vara, not the da'as
(and the yeitzer hara) itself.

Let's try to understand the medrash given the idea that Moshe Rabbeinu
knew they were speaking of a shamayim-dik instantiation of the Torah.
So then what is he responding to the mal'achim by asking them "Do you
have parents?"

After all, perhaps mal'akhim could observe the same emes by showing
kavod and yirah to those lema'alah meihem, which the Rambam describes as
their cause. It would parallel the idea of kibud av va'eim being on the
first luach because of the similarity in dynamic to our relationship to
HQBH. Or perhaps something else is the mal'akh's parallel.

But they would have no "versus" about it. In the human world, having
parents means having excuses not to show them kavod. The interactions
are personal and messy.

Moshe's answer is very much about bechirah, not only the level at which
the mitzvos are instantiated for us. Bichlal, because we do perform
mitzvos in this world, that's why there is an ability to desire doing
otherwise. And the instantiation of mitzvos in higher olamos, while
possible, could never have this critical element.


Micha Berger             Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
micha@aishdas.org        greater vanity in others; it makes us vain,
http://www.aishdas.org   in fact, of our modesty.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              -Louis Kronenberger, writer (1904-1980)

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Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 14:31:24 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: face painting

On Thu, Jun 22, 2006 at 10:11:19AM -0400, Jacob Farkas wrote:
: Makeup is easily removed. Semi-permanent and permanent may indeed be 
: problematic according to *some* opinions.

Actually, a google for "permanent makeup" seems to indicate that common
usage is actual KQ. Women who are allergic to makeup, or who r"l have
tremors or other difficulties applying it regularly may choose to have
the pigments tattooed in.

So, perhaps we should stick to discussing "semi-permanent".


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Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 23:09:40 +0300
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
are sociological statements of Chazal binding

RAA wrote on Areivim:
> "2) Chazal, being human, were subject to emotions (like jealousy and anger)
> like everyone else. Under more control that the rest of us, I'm sure, but
> still subject to it. There's no way of knowing to what degree their
> statements are based on personal feelings and opinions or sociological
> conditions -- which makes it dangerous to apply them today."

RJS wrote on Areivim:
>  This
> is a huge chiddush, and is one of  the reasons RYBS was so angry with
> Rabbi Rackman, for implying that statements of Chazal are dependent on
> social mores (specifically for saying that the rule of tav lamativ tan du
> does not apply anymore).

One can believe that individual members of chazal were subject to emotions
(even Moshe Rabbeinu, according to the Rambam, was punished for getting
angry and hitting the rock), yet believe that statements which were
accepted into our mesorah were divinely inspired and therefore are
free from such biases. The question is whether we believe that (1)
all statements (even aggadic statements made by individual amoraim) in
the gemara were divinely inspired, or just that (2) central statements
accepted by the gemara as psak halacha fall into that category. The case
of tav l'meitav falls into the latter category, as it is the basis for
halachos in hilchos kiddushin.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 16:56:44 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Nevu'ah in Hebrew?

On Mon, Jun 19, 2006 at 11:48:00AM -0400, Jacob Farkas wrote:
: Sefer haKuzari [ma'amar 2:68] mentions that Avraham spoke two languages,
: Aramaic , which was the language of Ur Kasdim, and Ivris, which was the
: language of Eiver, his family's language. He used Ivris as his lashon
: haQodesh, and Aramaic for mundane speech.

Ryha"l is probably relying on the notion that Aramaic was the language
of Padan Aram and Aram Naharaim.

I don't know if the children of Aram and of Arpachshad (including Eiver)
lived all that far apart yet. Avraham didn't. Which means that I am not
sure how different the two languages were yet.

This gets into the question of whether Adam's language was the same as
those immediately pre-Migdal Bavel and Avraham avinu and the similarity
between Avraham's Hebrew and the Chumash's.

I don't know if RJF and R' Seth Mandel's time on Avodah overlapped. But
we did discuss this in RSM's day, and RSM is quite knowledgable about
semitic languages. (A good resource if you want to know what the Peirush
haMishnayos lehaRambam said in the original. Aside from being the one
you rely on whenever eating OU meat.)

In <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol11/v11n076.shtml#12> RSM writes
(in part):
> The Torah existed before the world, but dibb'ro Torah bilshon b'nei odom
> -- meaning the language by spoken by people at the time it was given.
> HQB'H planned Mattan Torah from the Beginning and knew how people would
> be speaking at the time. Had he given it to Noah exactly as it was given,
> Noah would have probably understood it but thought its language to be
> a little funny: he might have used other words that were more common in
> his time.

On Areivim he spoke of these earlier versions of LhQ as proto-Hebrew
(a fact already made public on Avodah beshe'as ma'aseh). Complete with
the theory that there were once two ayin's that collapsed into a single
letter before matan Torah.

Which opens up the possibility (not discussed then, introduced now by
myself) that LhQ and Aramaic didn't yet diverge. Avraham could have
spoken both bevas achas!


Micha Berger                 Time flies...
micha@aishdas.org                    ... but you're the pilot.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - R' Zelig Pliskin
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 08:42:58 +0300
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva@atwood.co.il>
Re: Mechirat Chametz

> But the non-chametz stuff *hasn't* been sold. 

Yes, it is. The sale form here includes, for example, spices (and other
things that MIGHT have chametz in them) plus a "fill in the blank" where
people list other items they are selling (like kitniyot produce that
"might" also include chametz/suffek chametz, flour, etc).

If the item is listed there then it's SOLD. 

> Now I would maintain that you don't need explicit permission to enter in
> order to retrieve your property; 

I'd agree -- which was one difficulty In the story reported (that just
opening the warehouse was problematic)

> The chametz, however, is not yours, and even if you take it that just
> makes you a thief, not an owner of chametz on pesach.

The buyer (at least in some sales) is informed that people MIGHT need
to use his purchase -- and that he will be reimbursed after pesach. That
should solve the theft issue.

> Why would kitniyot be sold?

It doesn't have to -- but a lot of people here do (or burn it erev

> But if it's safek chametz, how can you take it during Pesach.

"safek chametz" could have 2 different meanings: 1) produce with
a potential to become chametz (biscuits, for example); 2) food which
MIGHT have chametz in it, either on purpose or by accident (basically
anything non kosher l'pesach for the seller, which could include kitniyot
for ashkenazim).

I'm talking about case 2 here.

Practical example -- I sell my kitniyot baby food powder. My neighbor
runs out and needs some at 10pm. I open my locked cupboard, remove the
non-Jew's kitniyot baby food, and give it to the neighbor.


There are two kinds of speeches and two kinds of silences. Speech is either
truth or a falsification, and silence is either fruition or heedlessness. If
one speaks the truth, his words are better than his silence, but he who
invents falsifications, his silence is better than his speech.

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Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 20:13:21 -0400
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Etymology of ""teva"" & Rashi's ""I Don't Know""

Sun, 25 Jun 2006 from: Mike Singer mike_a_singer@yahoo.com
> ...Some of us "know" that the Iraq war was a mistake. Others, that it
> was precisely the right decision. Some "know" that species evolved from
> other species. Others, that they didn't. Some "know" that educational
> vouchers will be terrible for public schools. Others, that they would
> be wonderful. We think a lot of things, but know a good many less.

As we say in Tachanun, "Va'anachnu lo nayda mah na'aseh, ki aleycha

The commentaries translate "ki" here as "but," but that has always
bothered me. Has anyone seen the translation that makes much sense to me,
"Hashem, we don't (or never will) know what to do, precisely /because/
our eyes are upon You." Those with personal agendas and pet theories
often think they know what to do, but because our eyes are to Hashem,
wanting to know His will, but are often left without answers, we admit
we often don't know what to do.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 06:01:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mark Levin <mlevinmd@verizon.net>
Etymology of "teva" & Rashi's "I Don't Know"

[RYZ, in reply to RMASinger:]
>> 1. What  is the etymology of "teva," the Hebrew word for "nature"?
>> Is it a  relatively modern word, or is it also used in classical  sources?

> AFAIK it is not found in TN"C, according to the Oruch it comes from the
> Shoresh of "Matbeia Shetovu" something that has a specific set of rules.

The statement of R. David Nieto that TEVA is a modern word was a basis of
an accusation of leaning toward Spinoza's views. This will be discussed
in an introduction to the soon forthcoming be"h translation of his Matteh
Dan by Yashar Press.

    On Sabbath Vayeshev 5464 (November 20, 1873) R. Nieto delivered
    a sermono against the new Deistic philosophies. In it, he argued
    that what Deists called nature is nothing more than God's display
    of Providence and that what is referred to as Nature is in reality
    nothing the manifestation of God's management of the world. During
    this lecture he made a statement that God and Nature are one and
    the same. As one of his proofs, he mentioned that the word "nature"
    is of fairly recent provenance and that the Hebrew word for nature,
    teva, has its origin in medieval philosophical works and was not
    used in the same sense by the Sages of the Talmud.

    A certain wealthy individual by the name of Joshua Zarfatti perceived
    this view as being identical to that of Spinoza and mobilized a
    significant opposition to R. Nieto within the congregation. To explain
    his views, R. Nieto wrote "De la Divina Providencia: Whether it be
    Universal Nature or Naturing Nature, A theological treatise divided
    into two dialogues, wherein the identity of these terms is proved and
    authenticated from the authorities in the Holy Bible, the Talmud,
    The Zohar, and Midrashim, and confirmed by irrefutable proofs from
    the same authorities". Unfortunately this work failed to appease
    his critics and the case was ultimately submitted for decision
    to Chacham Tsvi Ashkenazi, then in Altona, Denmark. All, parties
    submitted documentation for arbitration and he completely vindicated
    R. David Nieto from charges of heresy on August 7, 1705. In fact,
    Chacham Tsvi praised R. Nieto for, "clearly following the opinion
    of the Sages that all things depend directly on God's Providence[1]".

    [1] Responsa Chacham Tsvi 18

>> 2. An piece appeared recently by R Shafran which includes a  joke and
>> discussion based on Rashi saying "I don't know" in his  commentaries:...
>> Can anyone provide references for where Rashi says that?

> See Gilyon HaShas on Brochos 25b for a comprehensive list, however the
> Yad Eliyahu on that Gemara adds more to the list.

In regard to the second question - the additional instances where Rashi
says "lo yodaati" are also brought down in R. Akiva Eiger's biography,
"Meoron shel Yisroel". I do not know if there is an overlap with Yad

  Meir Levin

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 10:25:39 -0400
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: Nevu'ah in Hebrew?

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> Which opens up the possibility (not discussed then, introduced now by
> myself) that LhQ and Aramaic didn't yet diverge. Avraham could have
> spoken both bevas achas!

Well according to Sefer haKuzari, he did use both, and they were already
distinct, as was arabic.

The hypothesis that Hebrew and Aramaic did not as of yet diverge brings
to question the definition of Ivri, or Ivris, for that matter. If Ivri
is defined as related to Eiver, then Eiver would have had to have his
own distinct language, Ivris. Should Ivri mean "other side" a la Shitas
HaRaMBaN, that all of Canaan spoke Ivris, then Ivris would be a distinct
language as well.

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 15:39:04 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

R' David Riceman asked:
> ... why should that period of time be priviliged over other
> periods? Why have a special bracha on bread because of ancient
> dietary customs? Why not make hamotzi on tacos zeicher l'galus
> America?

I recently wondered about the exact flip side of this question.
Recall our recent discussion of pashtida, where the consensus was that
pashtida is no different than pas habaa b'kisnin -- if one is eating
at as a snack, then it gets mezonos, even in the case of meat or cheese
baked inside a bread.

It seems to me that according to the ancient dietary customs which RDR
refers to, a baked mixture of flour and water is an honored food eaten
only at meals, and as such is honored with an elaborate procedure of
washing and blessing. But halacha acknowledges that this only applies to
foods which are accepted as being primarily a meal- food. Halacha also
points out that in the unusual case where one would eat such a food on
its own, it is still hamotzi, even if he at only a small crumb of it.

But as I see it (and perhaps RDR as well), our culture today does NOT
consider bread to have such a status. When a person eats a hot dog while
attending a baseball game, is his intention any different than one who
chooses a slice of pizza instead? Very few would say that a single hot dog
constitutes a meal, especially in such a setting. Why not make a mezonos?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 15:41:44 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: bishul akum

R' David Riceman wrote:
> I recently read a biography of ... where it's mentioned that
> he would eat fish in non-kosher North American restaurants.

Please cite your source.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 12:04:02 -0400
From: bdcohen@optonline.net
Mechirat Chametz

> The chametz, however, is not yours, and even if you take it that just
> makes you a thief, not an owner of chametz on pesach.

But isn't the act of stealing a type of kinyan on the property, i.e. that
the thief does become the owner of the chametz, subject to the superior
claim of the rightful owner?

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 12:27:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Re: Meseches makos question

From: "Gil Student" <gil.student@gmail.com>
>>Quick and easy question: Other than what's on the page or at the back
>>of the sefer, what are the main rishonim and achronim used when learning
>>meseches makos? (I never learned makos during my years in yeshiva.)

> Ritva and Aruch LaNer are an absolute must. The green book (Otzar
> Mefarshei HaTalmud) will give you a taste of everything else.

I think there's also one of those anthology volumes for Makos that
reprints all the major rishonim and acharonim. The red one at least,
maybe also the brown one.

   - jon baker    jjbaker@panix.com     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -

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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 19:09:31 GMT
From: "Gershon Dubin" <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

"kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com> wrote:
> But as I see it (and perhaps RDR as well), our culture today does
> NOT consider bread to have such a status. When a person eats a hot dog
> while attending a baseball game, is his intention any different than one
> who chooses a slice of pizza instead? Very few would say that a single
> hot dog constitutes a meal, especially in such a setting. Why not make
> a mezonos?

Whatever your perspective is on this, a hot dog is NOT different than
pizza, as you yourself quoted "meat or cheese" makes the pashtida a food
as opposed to a snack.


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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 16:22:30 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: historical contingency and brachos

On Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 09:14:14AM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
: I told my son recently that if the Torah had been given on Mount Rushmore
: instead of Mount Sinai we would make hamotzi on tacos. That's actually
: a slight exaggeration...
: From a historical perspective this makes perfect sense. From a more
: philosophical perspective, though, why should that period of time
: be priviliged over other periods? ...

When we return to our favorite subject of the authority of the baalei
mesorah of various eras, someone inevitably mentions the CI's shitah
that the tannaim were different in knid because they lived during the
2 millenia of Torah. We, living in the millenia of mashiach simply can
not create Torah the way they could.

This underlies RJR's answer as well. On Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 01:28:56PM
-0400, Rich, Joel wrote:
: I suppose the stock answer is that the status at certain time periods
: was kovea ldorot (e.g. treifot). Why this is is a why question I 'm
: not privileged to know the answer to nor am I sure it is knowable.

But I think that's why they could be qov'im things even if their conscious
reason for doing so no longer applies -- or never did, such as their
scientific explanations for items they put on the list tereifos.

There was a level of siyata diShmaya concomitant with this period in
history being one more connected to nesinas haTorah that our current
levels of siyata simply can't compare to.

RJR continues that post:
: On a somewhat related topic, if each shevet had its own nusach hatfila,
: why did AKG feel the need to standardize,did they standardize one and
: who did they follow?

I wrote a guess about it on my blog
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2006/04/what-is-judaism.shtml>. I think it
has a lot to do with the transition from being Benei Yisrael to being
Yehudim. My theory is that in the days of bayis rishon, many questions
simply didn't have to get posed to the Sanhedrin for resolution. People
were okay with each sheivet having it's own pesaq from its own beis din
hagadol, and fewer things were brought to a singular pesaq.

If this conclusion, made from rather pragmatic lines of reasoning,
is true, then there were distinct implimentations of the Sinaitic
covenant in each sheivet, sets of practices that differ more than did
batei Hillel veShammai. I even go so far as suggest possible differences
between Isaacarism and Judaism, just to give a feel for what I mean. But
all divrei E-lokim chaim, and all of them Toras Moshe.

> Each sheivet had the opportunity to forge very distinct implementations
> of the covenant of Sinai. Each evolved according to the rules of halakhah,
> (in addition to the idolatrous and irreligious amongst us) and therefore
> all within the covenant, all of them "the words of the living G-d", but
> with much less frequent need to impose "but the law is according to..."
> It's mind-stretching to think how different their expressions of Torah
> would be. Perhaps they would even seem like different religions.

(Note RYGB's comment:
> Not that I disagree with you, but you surely know that true blue Briskers
> would deem your understanding of the Gemara to be heretical...)

Yehudah, with its derekh based on "hapa'am odeh es Hashem" and Yehudah's
ability to admit (vidui) and agree (modeh) to Tamar's accusations, was
the derekh to survive. Binyamin's distinct derekh evaporated, just as
Shim'on's already had.

For that matter, given who returned to EY, minhag and ancestral pesaq
were pretty much an open field. The majority of Ezra and Nechemiah's
followers were BTS.

But what unifies the concepts of hoda'ah, vidui and modeh to the same
shoresh? In all three, the person accepts his connectedness to another:
I receive from him, I wronged him, or I share a truth with him. And I
think that was the basis upon which AKG felt a post-Bavel community had
to be built.


Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

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