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Volume 23: Number 17

Mon, 12 Feb 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 12:01:37 +0200
[Avodah] amalek

From an article in the YU commentator that just appeared, by Shmuel Boylan

"I last spoke to the Rav after he had retired from the yeshiva and was
living in relative seclusion in Boston with his daughter and
son-in-law. Once again, access to the Rav was restricted, due to his
illness and infirmity-but this time, I was successful, and was granted
entry. The Rav was frailer than I remembered him. I first asked the
Rav about an opinion he had quoted from his father, zt"l, that a
nation (such as the Nazis) could be transformed into Amalek; I asked
whether such a halakhic designation would then have implications with
regard to innocent wives and children, as well. The Rav strongly
rejected such a concept, reminding me that the Rambam required an
approach for shalom prior to milkhemet Amalek-and that such a
requirement made action against innocent parties impossible. I then
asked the Rav for a brachah for my son (now a Sh'oel U'Meishev in the
Brisker Kollel), which he graciously granted. Such was my effort, on a
personal level, to ensure that the Rav's blessing would be carried
over to the next generation."

Eli Turkel

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Message: 2
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 14:17:35 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Megila on Shabbos

R' Danny Schoemann asked
<The question arose tonight in Daf Yomi, how come we read Megilas Shir
haShirim and Koheles davka on Shabbos - and M. Esther cannot be read on

The answer may be that there is no chiyuv on each individual to read Koheles
or Shir Hashirim, at best it is a chiyuv on the tzibbur while Megilas Esther
is a chiyuv on each person. Chazal were only choshesh where there is a
chiyuv on individuals. Acharonim use this rationale to explain how come we
lain from the torah every shabbos.
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Message: 3
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 12:33:31 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Pisuq raglayim

RMB writes:

> Just to start at the beginning. We discussed pisuq raglayim 
> back in volume 2, v2n157 - n160. Take a look at
> <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol02/v02n155.shtml#01>, where 
> RYGB raises the question of pisuq raglayim and men, and the
conversation that 
> ensued at
> RAGLAIM>, and the subsequent two entries in the topic index.

I don't think I was involved in that conversation, but I have had a look
at it.

You bring:

> RYZirkind found Rashi in Pesachim 3a "lashon neqi'ah", which 
> speaks of the issur of women taking harchovas haposi'os. A different
problem that is
> somewhat related. But at least shifts the kohein's precedent 
> to a question of women.

I am a bit confused by this reference.

The Gemora at the beginning of Pesachim (actually 3a-3b) is discussing
the attribute to use "nice" language in preference to not such nice
language (the example that is given that starts off the discussion is a
pasuk where the term "anno tahora" [is not pure] is used in preference
to using the term tamei or inpure, even though it would be shorter to
use the term tamei.  From this the Gemora learns that one should use
nice terms, such as tahor, or ano tahor, rather than tamei.

The Gemora then moves on to other examples where we learn that it is
better to use nice terminology rather than not such nice terminology.
And the example is brought where in the case of a man (in the particular
context a zav) the term used is "to ride", while the second half which
refers to a woman (a zava) the term used is "to sit".

Now the Gemora itself does not explain why it is not nice to refer to a
woman as riding, but only as sitting, but a number of commentaries
(including Rashi) that it is not nice to recall riding in a woman
because when one rides, there is "pisuk raglaim".

The Gemora then goes on to question the whole assumption that one does
not use the term ride when referring to a woman, and brings several
psukim to show that in fact one does.  The first is by Rivka and her
handmaidens, but the Gemora explains that this is because we are dealing
with camels.  Again, the Gemora does not explain why camels are
different, but Rashi explains that this is because of how high camels
are, and because of the fear of falling, women do tend to ride so they
can hang on with hands and feet. But at the very least the inference one
must derive from this is that for camels, pisuk reglaim is OK, so at the
very least some circumstances involving pisuk reglaim are OK, even
according to Rashi.

The Gemora then brings a second pasuk that refers to women riding, when
it refers to Moshe and his wife and his sons riding down to Mitzraim,
but rejects that as a proof on the grounds that most of the riding
reference goes on the sons, not on Zipporah.

The Gemora then brings a third pasuk which refers to Avigail riding on
her donkey when she goes off to meet Dovid (soon to be) HaMelech, but
argues that this is an exception as well, for several reasons.

Now there are two ways to try and understand this Gemora.  The first is
that this is no commentary on women riding or not riding, but only on
whether it is nice to talk about it (in the same way as there are tamei
animals out there, it is just whether there is a problem talking about
them). The second is that if there is a problem even talking about women
riding, then even more so there must be a problem with them actually
riding (or, if you accept that the problem is pisuk raglaim, then
possibly there is a problem with any sort of pisuk raglaim).

Now the second understanding would make a lot of sense from what is
written in the Gemora here - especially given the reasons why the Gemora
suggested that the Torah used the term ride when discussing Rivkah and
Avigail, which seemed to suggest that riding (and hence separating the
legs) was an unusual activity, engaged in only by women in extreme
circumstances.  However, there are some problems with this even in the
discussion itself.  If it was such a problem for women to ride, then why
did Avraham Avinu send camels knowing that his future daughter in law
was going to be riding back on them and surely she, as a modest girl,
should have refused to go until more modest transport was provided (and
I am surprised Lavan etc did not use that as an excuse why she should
not go altogether).  However this problem can be surmounted if in fact
camels were the only way of getting there and back (although that rather
seems unlikely - Ya'akov seems to have managed to go there and back
without camels) (The question about Avigail is much easier, as there was
pikuach nefesh issues involved, so you could understand that, in such
circumstances, modesty would need to be pushed aside).

However a more fundamental problem that I have with this second reading
is that it appears to be contradicted by the Gemora in
Baba Meztia 9b - something that, unlike what has been described above,
seems to be brought down in halacha.  The Gemora in Baba Meztia is
describing when one can make a kinyan [acquire] an animal, and
specifically whether riding on an animal is a way that one can make a
kinyan on an animal.  And the Gemora holds that it depends on how people
generally make a kinyan (ie the common custom) and that the custom is
that if one rides in the field, one is koneh the animal, but not if one
rides in the city, because the custom is for men to ride in the field,
but not in the city.  However, if one is an adam chasuv [important
person], or one is a woman, then one is koneh even in the city because
the custom is for them to ride even in the city. Rashi explains that in
the case of a woman, this is because she is not so strong, so it is the
derech [way] of a woman to ride even in the city, because otherwise the
animal might get away from her (BTW although this is there in the Rashi
at the side of our shas, it is even clearer in the girsa of Rashi
brought by the Magid Mishna). This halacha about how one (or
specifically a woman) can make a kinyan on an animal is brought down
l'halacha by both the Rambam in hilchot mechira perek 2, halacha 10 and
Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat siman 197 si'if 5).

So - what this last halacha seems to be suggesting is that it is
customary for women to ride, including among lots and lots of people
(that is why, by the way, that men generally don't ride in the city, it
is too crowded with people) and it would seem slightly odd, to say the
least, if the halacha was that women were customarily acquiring animals
by means of something that was immodest and which they should not be
doing, and that the halacha should give the nod to this without even
commenting on this fact.

So what does that do for this gemora in Pesachim.  One option is that we
do not posken like the gemora in Pesachim (that seems to be true for the
general sugya, in the sense that the gemora concludes that if there is a
contradiction between speaking in learning by the most short and direct
route, and the one that is "nicer" one should go for the short version).
Alternative, we could go back to the idea that the Gemora is not
objecting to riding by women (and if you follow Rashi and the other
commentators that the hava mina was pasuk raglayim, then to pasuk
raglayim) just the use of the terminology when it was not necessary.

> So, what needs justification isn't why women can't wear  pants,

And note that this involves yet another intellectual leap, from riding
to wearing of pants.  Rashi appears to raise the question of pisuk
raglayim vis a vis riding - where it is clear that the legs have to be
pushed quite wide apart to fit on either side of the animal. Even if you
say that the gemora is banning riding except in unusual circumstances,
and you push off the proof from Baba Basra that I just brought, all you
have is, at most, a halacha banning riding - or at most, a halacha
banning an activity that involves pushing the legs quite widely apart so
they are straddling something.  You then have to go further and say that
the ability to see the two legs constituted by the wearing of pants is
the same thing as riding.  I don't see where you see this in Rashi, or
elsewhere for that matter.

So while the statement "Pisuq ragalayim isn't a modern invention. It's
das Moshe, Sinaitic, assur" might indeed be considered true when you
look at the reference to it found in Yechzkel 16:25 - to make this as a
catagorical statement about the wearing of pants based on this Rashi
when there appear to be three hurdles to overcome a) that the gemora is
talking about actually riding not speaking; b) that we posken like the
gemora in Brochas rather than the gemora in Baba Metzia; and c) that
wearing pants is in the same category as riding, seems some what

Hilchot tzniut are, like everything else, a part of halacha.  The same
potential issues regarding bal tosif must surely apply there as well as
elsewhere.  And precisely the same risks that come with being mosif
apply here as elsewhere - one of which of course is that if you claim
the mutar is assur, people will not take you seriously when you try and
claim that the assur is indeed assur (that being precisely the lesson
that the gemora in Sanhedrin learns from Chava and the pri eitz hadaas).

> Tir'u baTov!
> -mi



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Message: 4
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 13:28:00 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Megila on Shabbos

<The question arose tonight in Daf Yomi, how come we read Megilas Shir
haShirim and Koheles davka on Shabbos - and M. Esther cannot be read
on Shabbos.>

      This question was put to the Vilner Gaon, as an intended 
disproof of the obligation to read the other megillos from a klaf.

      His answer was that unlike Esther, the other megillos are not 
an individual obligation, but a chovas hatzibbur, so there is no 
reason to fear an individual's carrying it to fulfill his 
obligation.  It is no different from a sefer Torah, or a klaf for 
haftarah, which are read on Shabbos.


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Message: 5
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 15:43:40 +0200
[Avodah] walking on the kevesh vs steps

In a shiur I  recnelt heard the rav stressed that the difference in
walking up a ramp or up steps is very little. The idea of the prohibition
of steps is that in the bet hamikdash one has to be aware of even small

I find any connection between this prohibition and what the cohanim wore
and its application to wearing pants very strange. This is strictly a
halacha of the bet hamikdash and has no application to anything else.

BTW to the best of my knowledge trousers was introduced by the
Mongol invasion.

Eli Turkel

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Message: 6
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:29:05 EST
Re: [Avodah] Upsherin

From: R' Noah Greenfield:

>>I am under the impression that  the GRIZ and R Chaim Kanievsky both oppose
the minhag of upsherin, even  suggesting that there might be pagan
influences. If this is correct, is it  proper to attend a colleague's
(child's) upsherin ceremony? Is there any  legitimacy in attending if I think
my colleague would otherwise be offended  in any way? Should I point out to
him the potential pagan-ness of his  party?

Also, how should this be presented to students who may have  had
upsherin themselves. Should we be warning them against this  ceremony?<<

Noah  Greenfield

Lots of things we do have at least some slight pagan or foreign influence  
behind them (e.g., leaning at the seder as Roman aristocrats did, or lighting  
bonfires on Lag B'Omer which some say comes from some old Arab holiday, etc  
etc).  In my family growing up, lighting birthday candles was considered  chukas 
hagoyim and verboten.  
However, once something has been established as a minhag for several  
generations -- and in my chassidishe natal family, upsherenishes were definitely  the 
minhag!  -- then the origin no longer matters.  Especially when  the origin 
has long been forgotten.  (Sorry for clumsy English plural  "upsherenishes"  -- 
don't know the correct Yiddish -- I've forgotten most  of my Yiddish -- 
chaval al d'avdin.)
One reason that I've heard for the opsheren is that the child reaches the  
age of chinuch at three, and at that age you want him to start being aware of  
the mitzva of payos.  Even if he doesn't wear long payos, he should know  not 
to cut the payos too short when he has a haircut.  If his hair was  always 
short, he won't notice the difference now.  But if he has his first  haircut at 
three and the payos are pointed out and carefully /not/ cut, he will  be aware 
of his payos.
My husband is a Litvak so my son did not have an upsheren, and I was just  as 
happy, because I never really cared for the look of long and unkempt  hair 
and pony tails on boys.  I guess I was just destined to marry a  Litvak.
As for your question, since the minhag is of such long standing and so  
widespread in Torah circles, you certainly /should/ go to your friend's  
celebration, bring a present and wish him mazal tov.  Any comments you  want to make 
should be made in a casual conversation at some /other/ time and  place.  
You should /not/ tell children whose fathers are bnai Torah that their  
family minhag is pagan, assur and wrong.  You /can/ tell them that there  are 
varying opinions among the poskim.  When children are older -- high  school age -- 
they can be told that a few poskim suspect the upsheren to  be of pagan 
origin.  Young children should not be told anything that  will lead them to doubt 
whether their fathers can be relied on, but at the same  time they should be 
told enough so that they can appreciate that the other  guys have sources and 
poskim, too.  Those Litvaks who don't have  upsherenishes should not hold 
chasssidim in contempt, or vice versa.
As for the the GRIZ and R Chaim Kanievsky, theirs is definitely a minority  
opinion in the Torah community, and therefore you need have no qualms about  
joining in the simcha of friends who follow the opinion of other rabbonim and  
poskim.  This is not anything like the "Should I go to a Reform bat  mitzva?" 
type of question!
BTW I don't know who the GRIZ is.

--Toby  Katz
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Message: 7
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:29:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] early bird specials and ribbis

I find that I'm getting a bit confused by this discussion, so I'd like to 
start by putting the facts in order.  Let me start by citing three 

(i) YD 173:7 : "If a person purchases something worth 12 for 10 because he 
pays in advance: if they are in the possession of the seller but he lacks 
access until his son comes or until he finds the key it is permitted; if 
they are not in his possession it is prohibited ....  Rama: ... this applies 
only if it's unexpressed, but if he explicitly says "If you pay me now I'll 
charge 10 and if you pay me later I'll charge 12" it's prohibited.  This 
applies only to something with a fixed price, but if the value is unfixed it 
is permitted."

(ii) YD 176:6 :"A person may overcharge for rent of land.  How? If he rented 
him a courtyard and, before (the non-owner) occupied it he (the owner) said: 
"if you pay me now I'll charge you ten selah's a year, and if not I'll 
charge one selah a month", that is permitted, and it is also permitted when 
hiring a person.

(iii) YD 176:8 :"If someone hires a worker in the winter to work for him in 
the summer at a dinar a day and pays him early but the normal summer salary 
is a selah a day (4 dinrim) it is prohibited; but if he says work for me 
from now until that day for a dinar a day it is permitted since, because 
he's already started working it doesn't appear as though he's getting a 
discount for early payment."

> Because there is no prohibition on discounts for paying early.  The
> prohibition is only on surcharges for paying late.

This is in general false.  See halacha (i) above.  What I originally thought 
RZS meant was that this is ribbis d'rabbanan instead of ribbis d'orayysa. 
That seems to be the consensus of the poskim, but see Rashbam BB 87a s.v. 
"v'tisbra", who holds that it's d'orayysa when the price is fixed.

I misunderstood RZS.  He meant that it's mutar in the context of hiring (see 
halacha (iii) above).  The problem here is that it's mutar only if the 
employee is currently employed.  Why is that? The gemara (BB 87a) explains 
"zilzulai bischirus mi asrei?", which the Rashbam explains to mean that 
wages are not fixed, and workers are eager to have jobs at any price, so 
people don't treat it as a discount if someone agrees to a long term 
contract at lower than normal wages.  If, however, (continue the gemara and 
the Rashbam) payment precedes the initial employment, that does appear like 
a discount for early payment.

Now I'm not sure that the context of hiring is at all relevant here.  The 
distinctive feature of hiring (according to the gemara as understood by the 
Rashbam) is that there's no market price for labor.  In our case, however, 
the camp director has established the market price.  Nonetheless let's grant 
RZS his presumption.   He still has a large hurdle to overcome.  The halacha 
says "if he says work for me from now until that day for a dinar a day it is 
permitted" requiring continual work.  I'm going to cite RZS in extenso at 
the end of my post, since this part of the discussion took place off-line.

REMT had another suggestion:
<<I think that the question of early-bird discounts or late-
payment penalties are completely unrelated to ribbis, since there is
no factor of agar natar.  There is no loan, nor any charge nor
payment for use of another's funds.>>

See halachoth (i) and (iii) above.

     <<If an item has been sold at a given price, and the merchant
raises the price, he has certainly done no wrong.  Why should there
be a problem if he announces his intent to raise the price as of a
certain day?>>

But the item in this case does not yet exist and it hasn't been sold.  All 
of the purchasers are to receive the item at the same time.

Anyway, I remain puzzled by the psak this camp director received.

David Riceman

Here's the full text of the two offline posts of RZS:
<<Because at the time when the discount is available, payment is not due
yet.  If they want your money now, they need to appeal to your good will,
by offering a discount.  Everyone understands this.  So the fact that if
you don't pay until the due date it will cost you more, is not ribbis.
The only question is whether, as in the case with a wage advance to
a non-employee, it *looks* like a loan.  Would an observer mistakenly
think that this was a loan, completely unrelated to camp fees, and
the fact that they later allowed your kid to attend their camp was
repayment of the loan, and since the value of the camp attendance is
higher than the amount of the loan, they have paid you ribbis?  Put
like that, then answer is obvious: our observer would not jump to
such a conclusion, because 1) this practise is normal, and many other
parents are also paying at about the same time; 2) it's published in
the camp brochure; 3) your payment is accompanied by an application
form; possible 4) you may have written "camp fees" on the cheque,
where it says "purpose".  It's obvious that this is early payment for
camp fees, and not a gemilas chesed.
These factors make it unlike the case of wages, where it is unheard
of for a person to advance wages to someone who is not his employee,
but has agreed to become one at some future date.  This point is
illustrated by the fact that it *is* permitted to advance wages at
a discount to a *current* employee.  The nature of the transaction
is exactly the same.  The wages are not yet due, the work they are
paying for has not yet been performed, and the employee is not legally
obligated ever to perform it.  The only difference is the existence
of an employee-employer relationship, which explains to the observer
why money is being paid, and the fact that such transactions are
normal between employers and employees.>>
<<I should have added that if you sent at least one of your kids to the
same camp last year, then you have an ongoing relationship with the
camp, similar to the relationship that allows an employer to advance
wages to his employee without it looking like a loan.>>

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Message: 8
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:34:05 EST
Re: [Avodah] Megila on Shabbos

From: "Danny Schoemann" _doniels@gmail.com_ (mailto:doniels@gmail.com) :

>>The question arose tonight in Daf Yomi, how come we read Megilas  Shir
haShirim and Koheles davka on Shabbos - and M. Esther cannot be  read
on Shabbos.<<

Two guesses:

1.  Women and children are required to hear M. Esther but not every  town has 
an eruv.
2. Groggers  -- mechiyas Amalek.

--Toby  Katz
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Message: 9
From: "Meir Shinnar" <chidekel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 11:55:24 -0500
[Avodah] Social responsibility, halacha, and psak

One of the defining characteristics, for the RZ and MO, of the charedi
community in Israel - is the fact that it is a community that
separates itself from the general, non haredi community - even while
remaining dependent on it and relying on the outside for many vital
services.  The reasons and desirability of this situation is one
thing, but there is a sense that this situation should lead to a
change in mentality - reflected as well in the psak of its leaders,
not just in the amcha.
This may be difficult to document, as this change can be subtle.
However, I ran across an interesting source that suggests precisely
this change.

In the Minchat Asher (quite popular haredi work) on parshat yitro, he
has an essay whether shabbat is dechuya or hutra with pikuah nefesh -
quite erudite and interesting.
At the end, he brings the question whehter someone who has on call
responsibilities should either try to switch his call with some one
else, or, recognizing that he will be more diligent, deliberately take
call on shabbat.   He brings down Rav Moshe's answer that this depends
on the issue whether shabbat is dchuyah or hutra - if hutra, one
should take, if dchuya, one should switch.
He then adds - that he disagrees - that it is better that one tries to
keep an intact shabbat with one's family even if shabbat is hutra -
and therefore avoid call.

My sense is that this is actually a quite radical position - which
reflects the reality and comfort of depending on others to fulfill
vital functions - and therefore reflects ways in which current reality
seep into all aspects of psak.
Meir Shinnar


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