Avodah Mailing List

Volume 19: Number 4

Thu, 07 Sep 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 10:04:43 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Tomer Devorah

On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 08:58:09 , RHG Schild asked:
: In  Tomer Devorah, the first section deals with emulating the 13 attributes
: of Mercy; the latter sections are relating through the 10 sefiros.
: What is  the relationship between the 13 and the 10 and why does he use
: both?

I think the point of the seifer's structure is that Rachamim logically
preceeds the sefiros. I don't know if this refers to the sefiros as they exist
ontologically, as they exist for vehalachta derakhav, or even if sefiros exist
ontologically or only as human perception cast "upward" into reality.

This is a question I have asked in the past. Does mankind have middos that
parallel the sefiros, or do the sefiros appear in our studies of shamayim
because it's man who is trying to model the higher reality? Or is this even a
meaningful distinction because "histakeil beOraisa ubara alma" -- neither is
logically prior?


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Message: 2
From: Dov Bloom <dovb@netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 21:09:57 +0300

>The best source is R Yisrael Stepansky's 4 volume monumental work "HaTakanot BeYisrael" published by Mossad Harav Kook (5753-1993).

In Vol 4 he devotes a chapter to the takanot of Rabbeinu Gershom (Vol 4 p 78 - 129).
Anyone interested in the subject , this is a "must read" with very voluminous notes and sources. R Stepansky also wrote an article in HaDarom in the 1960's. 

Dov A Bloom

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 19:55:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Sukkah GT 20 amot high (yesterday's daf)

On Tue, Sep 05, 2006 at 03:06:00PM -0400, Rich, Joel wrote:
:    Yesterday's Daf gives 3 reasons why a Sukkah higher than 20 Amot is Pasul.
:    (1) Rabah - Lo shalta bei eyna

20 amos is also the shiur for Chanukah menoros. It would seem Rabba

:    Any insights on how the 20 amot was arrived at...

Since shiurim are halakhah leMosheh miSinai, I assume all three
explanations  are simply post-facto.


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Message: 4
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 19:51:19 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Sukkah GT 20 amot high

R' Joel Rich asked about a sukkah higher than 20 amos:
> (1) Rabah - Lo shalta bei eyna
> (2) Rav Zeira - One is not sitting in the tzel of the Sukkah
> (3) Rava - LT  20 is a temporary dwelling
> Any insights on how the 20 amot was arrived at. Are 1 and 3
> inherent in the briah or subject to change (or are they like
> treifot-fixed in time). Is 2 geometrically defensible?  Is all
> this really descriptive rather than prescriptive?

First, I think it is very noteworthy that the same 20 amos limit 
applies to Chanuka lights, and for the same reason as #1 above.

Geometrically defensible? No way. Sitting in the sukkah's shade is 
dependent on the angle at which the sun is shining, combined with 
both the height of the s'chach and also its horizontal edges. The 
simplest example is that if one is anywhere north of the equator, 
sitting against the southern side of the sukkah is *never* in the 
sukkah's shade. (Similar arguments can be made by Chanuka: Height is 
irrelevant. The angle is significant, and maybe the distance too.)

Descriptive/prescriptive -- Neither. Rather, my feeling is that this 
halacha is a good example of how Chazal set the shiurim so that a 
typical person would be able to deal with halacha without any unusual 
skills, mathematical or otherwise. (Other examples: The solar year 
(Shmuel's?) was set at a knowingly inaccurate 365.25 days for the 
benefit of non-math geeks. And the rule for which meat can't be mixed 
with milk requires a basic knowledge of Torah (i.e., which animals 
require shechita) but does not require any knowledge of biology (i.e. 
which animals produce milk). The whole concept of "lo plug" is 
designed to keep things simple despite reasonable exceptional cases.) 
So too here: Chazal held 20 amos to be a good practical limit, 
despite the possibility of a problematic 18-amah sukkah, or a problem-
free 22-amah sukkah.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 5
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 21:04:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shape of Luchos

Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 R. Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com> wrote:
"... An article in the first volume of 
the Hebrew University's "Journal of Jewish Art" by Ruth Mellinkoff 
says that ...the curved-top form is originally a representation 
of a "diptych" or set of two writing tablets, so RZL's conjecture is 
apparently not far away from da'at gedolim :) "

Was the actual diptych curved at the top, or was the curve only in the drawings using perspective, as I suggested? If the former, why? And if the latter, did the drawings also have a curve along the bottom?

Zvi Lampel

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Message: 6
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 21:14:15 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shape of Luchos

I thought that it's pretty well accepted that the current image 
of the luchos is a product of Michaelangelo's creativity. (See 
< " target=_new>http://tinyurl.com/5ee84> for image of statue in question.) 

To me, the top of the luach looks uncurved.
Zvi Lampel
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Message: 7
From: hankman <salman@videotron.ca>
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2006 06:10:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Nishtaneh Hateva in modern women

Cm wrote:
>BTW, it seems to be generally accepted that we already apply the idea of
>nishtane hateva wrt to the menstrual cycle of modern women as different from
>that in the time of chazal.

RMSS responded:
Could you elaborate? If you are referring to vest kavauh, the nishtaneh
was (at least in major part) the invention of indoor electric lighting.
A woman can induce more regular periods if she goes to sleep at sundown
with the light in the room reflecting the moons light; i.e. a full moon
= a small night light, no moon = darkness.

Also R'n CL wrote previously in this thread:
I don't know that this is "generally accepted".  I have heard a number
of poskim say that it is not nishtane hateva, but better nutrition that
has led to changes

To which I [CM] responded:
I agree. Let me rephrase. Most will agree that the facts on the ground today
are different than they were in the time of Chazal. Some ascribe this to
nishtane hateva, while others ascribe this to better nutrition in modern

I [CM] now respond but modify somewhat:
The implication from all our discussions above is that there is Nishtane Hateva on the one hand while on the other hand there may be various causes for the change other than Nishtane Hateva, e.g., better nutrition, electric lighting etc.

Upon thinking about this further, I am not sure if our collective thinking on this is correct. Does Nishtane Hateva mean that there was some fundamental change in the nature of things as opposed to some directly identifiable cause for the change? I rather doubt this. Rather, these are the agents that have caused the Teva we see to change. I suspect that in all cases of the use of this term, no fundamental change to nature have occurred. Just some circumstance has changed causing nature to follow some slightly modified path with a different end result. Thus in our case above the Teva is Nishtane and the reason for the shinui may be better nutrition or electricity etc. One might choose to use the term [Nishtane Hateva] only when the specific cause of the change is unknown and not use the term when the cause is known. But the process is the same either way. Either way, the resultant natural phenomenon we observe is the result of some changed circumstance or cascade of circumstan
 ces that
  follow the SAME unchanged biological or physical laws, but render the result we see now that is different from that seen in the time of chazal, the Avos and earlier.

The cases where nishtane hateva is variously applied that I can come up with off the top of my head that fit this picture.
a) Anakim in Chumash
b) Lifesapn prior to the Avos
c) Sizes of eggs, olives etc. and therefore shiurim
d) Veset kavua
e) Survival of 8 month fetus born prematurely
f) Nursing cow give birth to bechor  (see Machatsis HaShekel, SA OH 173; YD 316:3)
g) Yoledes letes chadoshim ain yoledes lemekuto'in (same MH, OH 173; Remoh, SA EH 156:4)
h) Treifa can not survive twelve months or give birth (consider modern technology, surgery and transplants)
i) Certain lobes in the lung make an animal a treifa (see Tos. Chulin 47a)
j) 2 year old cow give birth (see Tos, AZ 24b)
k) No breathing = sign of death (for some?)
l) The mishna of Ubra shehericha (my addition assuming I am right)

Other cases where this is used might not fit as well. Generally the cases where modern science seems to conflict with divrei chazal:
m) Spontaneous generation, Lice etc. (Some would not apply that here, but some do)
n) Medical cures of chazal (some could fit in the first category as well, Noda beYehuda that cures are now ineffective due to climate change?)
o) Differences in human and animal anatomy between chazal and modern biology. e.g., use of nishtane hateva by CI to explain the contradiction between the gemara and science about
the connection between the urinal and semen tracts [from archive post by R Eli Turkel]
p) Various sakonos like fish and meat together (see Magen Avraham SA OH 173)
q) Things that cause loss of memory
r) Carbon dating
s) Many more that I can not remember or never heard of.

You can obviously easily quibble with the way I have categorized these. 

Any additions to this list that readily come to mind?

Kol Tuv

Chaim Manaster

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Message: 8
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 20:49:44 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Sukkah GT 20 amot high (yesterday's daf)

In Avodah Digest V2#3, RJIR asked:
> Any insights on how the 20 amot was arrived at. <
I guess R'Joel isn't satisfied by RaShY d'h' "sukkah d'Oraysa" on BT Sukkah
2a (or RaShY d'h' "sukkah" and "tani 'P'sulah'" on BY Eiruvin 2a) :-), but
perhaps Rabbeinu Chananeil on BY Eiruvin 2a will help.

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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