Avodah Mailing List
Volume 23: Number 92
Wed, 02 May 2007
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 02:19:18 +0300
Subject: [Avodah] Right vs. Wrong; Tzaddik vs. Rasha
I would like to offer a summary of this topic, as I see it.
When it comes to right and wrong, I can identify whether what I am doing is
indeed right or wrong. I can judge myself with assurity as I know my
thoughts, why I am doing what I am doing, and hopefully, I am able to be
honest about myself.
Tzaddik vs. Rasha are value judgements of a person. It's easy to judge a
person whose Bein Adam LeChaveiro is either all good or all bad, but most
people are not all of one or the other. Many times, the true value of a
person is only known when they pass away. I have friends who consider it
their goal in lives to raise "a tzaddik". This brings to mind Chaim Potok's
book "The Chosen".
I prefer to work to raise a Oheiv Shamayim and Yerei Cheit. The kid will
have to decide what he chooses to be himself. Hopefully it will be closer
When it comes to "the other", I face a complex issue.
Yes, I know what's right or wrong, but I don't know what they are thinking
or why they are acting as they are doing so. I recall a tale, several years
ago, of a person who got stoned on Shabbat for driving his car -- and he was
in the process of saving a life.
So - he was wrong to drive on Shabbat. Some onlookers considered him a
Rasha -- and stoned him.
But - he was saving a life, which is Docheh Shabbat, so he was actually a
Tzaddik, and those who stoned him were endangering not only the person who
was already in danger, but the driver himself, should a stone have harmed
As for the source in Pesachim quoted, we should recall that when Hillel
HaZaken and Rabbi Akiva chose to give a single sentence that embodies all of
Torah, they used terms that were connected to caring, not hating. They were
concerned with our own actions more than with what "the other" was doing.
I do believe that it is a choice we make: do we concern ourselves with
ourselves and our connection to Hashem, or do we concern ourselves with the
Other and their connection to Hashem?
An article I found on the net presents these ideas better than I did:
I generally prefer Rav Kook's take on this matter:
HaTzaddikim HaTehorim Einam Kovlim Al HaRish'a -- Ela Mosifim Tzedek
Einam Kovlim Al HaKefira -- Ela
Einam Kovlim Al HaBa'arut -- Ela
Mosifim Chochmah (Orot HaKodesh part III)
The pure Tzaddikim do not complain of evil -- rather, they add justice;
do not complain of heresy -- rather, they
do not complain of ignorance -- rather, they
Shoshana L. Boublil
Go to top.
From: "Doron Beckerman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2007 17:37:32 -0700
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Torah Study vs. other contributions to society
A few points in response.
1) The comparison to an idiot savant, even as an extreme example, holds no
water at all. Such a person may very well be Pattur from all Mitzvos.
A normal person who is a Baki who collates material will have Chidushim
almost involuntarily. As a simple example: A person learns the Gemara that
one who steals a Shaveh Perutah must bring it to the person "even to Madai".
[Pshat - far away place]. The Avos D'Rabbi Nosson says that Madai is a place
of very many wealthy people. So, "even to Madai" might mean "even to a place
where people are wealthy and probably don't care about a Perutah".
This is something that a Baki with barely average intelligence might very
well come up with, and he should write it down on Chol HaMoed with no
(The truth it that I think it was the GRA who said this) :)
2) ROY is certainly a great scholar. He has integrated his vast knowledge
into becoming a fine person, - I appreciated many of his Hashkafic
perspectives as put together in a two volume "Halichos Mussar" which I found
valuable for its application to day to day life issues. (This is not an
invitation for dredging up quotes etc.)
3) I'm very confused about the conflation between getting secular knowledge
and a priori that means that one is out of the ivory tower, in terms of the
GRA. There are many great professors who have great knowledge in of the
secular who are wholly detached from society.
4) The Chazon Ish actually did read significant medical journals according
to R' Gedaliah Nadel. His acceptance of the Posek HaDor seems irrelevant - I
think R' Moshe Feinstein was viewed as the Posek HaDor despite having
inferior knowledge of both science and philosophy relative to that of the
Chazon Ish. I cannot imagine RMF making any statement about Kant at all,
while the Chazon Ish did make a statement that indicates familiarity with
Kant. (He dismisses Kant).
5) I think your comments on TuM enhancing understanding that Torah is the
Chochmah of the Borei are not in sync with the Torah's Hashkafah. One who
stops his learning to say how beautiful a tree is in Mischayev B'Nafsho -
and I think this is, as a Mashal, like a master artist who shows his
apprentice a painting which, says the artist, is one in which the artist has
invested his very essence, asks for his opinion, and the apprentice says
"that other painting of yours (which is nice, but not the essence of that
artist's soul) is nice."
6) Understanding Halachah and Bein Adam LaChaveiro interactions as linked to
TuM also seems flawed. Experientially, I do not think the case can be made
that the greatest Poskim are more involved in TuM than the second tier, or
that the biggest Mentches are more involved in TuM than the second tier
7) Re: Torah and nourishing the Neshama. I think it is both metaphysical and
understanding. R' Yehoshua - Ashrei Yoladeto...
8) Quantity vs. quality. There is no doubt that the quantity of Torah will
exponentially enhance its quality, perhaps even more than the Madda. L'Olam
Ligras Inish V'Hadar Lisbar.
All the best,
On 5/1/07, Chana Luntz <email@example.com> wrote:
> I wrote:
> > >Look, let me give an extreme example. My computer is (at least when
> > >attached to the Bar Ilan CD) Baki in all of Shas, Rishonim,
> > Achronim, teshuvas, what have you - at least if you know how to ask
> the right
> > >questions. But "knowing" Shas/Rishonim/Achronim in the
> > fashion of my computer does not fulfil a person's mission in life.
> > needs to be more than that. Torah and mitzvos needs to be integrated
> into a
> > >person's life. One clear way of doing this is if a person
> > is going on to be a Rav, he will be applying the Torah he has learnt
> to assist
> > >others (and that requires developing his understanding).
> > Same is true if he goes on to be a Rosh Yeshiva or teacher. But if he
> > sits in his ivory tower of a yeshiva and learns b'Hasmada, how
> > ultimately does he differ from my computer (except that my computer
> does it
> > better)? The answer that I think everybody would give is that it is
> > just having a photographic memory that is important, but it is that
> > something extra that human beings are capable of adding called
> > that can, if done properly, make this learning valuable.
> And RMSS then writes:
> > I do not believe that is the correct answer. Your computer is
> > an inanimate object that has no chiyuvim or mitzvos. The Jew
> > sitting in "his ivory tower of a yeshiva" is doing what
> > Hashem commanded him to do.
> But the contrast was between him sitting in his ivory tower of a yeshiva
> and going out into the world and becoming a medic and saving lives, ie
> pikuach nefesh. The question that was asked was in essence, what is it
> that Hashem commanded him to do out of those two? So let me give you a
> non realistic example - just for this purpose. Let us say that the
> person in question was, when it came to learning, an idiot savant, ie he
> had a photographic memory, but absolutely no ability to produce any
> chiddushim. That is, while he could on applying himself recite endlessly
> what has previously been said, nothing of his own would ever be added to
> the Torah body of knowledge. On the other hand, in some way, if he went
> out and became a medic, he would be able to save lives by using his
> abilities. Would you still say it is so clear that one is doing what
> Hashem commanded him to do if he stayed in learning? I think one would
> instinctively draw a very clear line between such a person and the GRA,
> say, who while he might well have also been able to save lives as a
> medic, produced an enormous amount of "new Torah" ie chiddushim which
> contributed to the growth and development of Torah knowledge.
> Note of course that the more one takes a Litvishe approach, the more one
> draws this line. After all, one of the criticisms in the Litvishe world
> of a Rav Ovadiah Yosef and his derech of learning has to do with the
> extent he catalogues and brings an encyclopedic numbers of sources
> rather than the more chiddush oriented approach of the Litvishe school.
> But the less you regard this "understanding that if done properly makes
> this learning valuable" as I put it as being the key, the more you have
> to conceed that Rav Ovadiah is the greater scholar.
> > >... From a TUM perspective, the same level of understanding just
> cannot be
> > achieved by remaining in an ivory tower yeshiva setting for one's
> > life, and hence by doing so this fellow has just not fulfilled his
> mission in
> > >life, which is to develop his understanding to the utmost extent
> > >possible, no matter how hard he works at learning b'hasmadah and how
> > >many mesechtos he is Baki in.
> > Experientially, this is a disproven perspective. The two
> > greatest examples of people who spent their lives in an
> > "ivory tower" are the Gra and the Chazon Ish. It's ludicrous
> > to assert that they didn't fulfill their mission in life.
> Note that a TUM perspective would disagree vigorously with this
> statement which suggests that the Gra spent his life in the ivory tower
> of the yeshiva. The Gra was famous for teaching himself, and that
> includes all forms of secular knowledge. One doesn't have to go to
> university to satisfy TUM - just be prepared to explore all forms of
> knowledge. A TUM proponent might well say that is is easier to acquire
> this knowledge by going to university, where one is spoonfed, rather
> than teaching it to oneself, like the Gra did, and that many if not most
> people might not be able to achieve even a modicum of secular knowledge
> without that spoonfeeding (just as many people both in and not in the
> TUM worldview may well say that while it might have been possible for
> the Gra to achieve his torah learning without needing the support of a
> yeshiva setting, that is not true of most people) but that is a
> different matter.
> Regarding the Chazon Ish, a TUM perspective could well take the view
> that the Chazon Ish might have been even greater if he had had more
> secular knowledge (might not have been a daas yachid regarding the
> nature of electricity for example) - and that it was his lack of secular
> knowledge and understanding of the outside world that resulted in the
> Chazon Ish never being accepted by the entire Jewish world as the posek
> hador - so that arguably he did indeed not fulfil his mission in life.
> And RDB then writes:
> > 1) Your computer has no Neshama that is nourished by bytes of
> > Torah information. 2) Your computer is not fulfilling the Mitzvah of
> > Torah K'neged Kulam. 3) Your computer has no appreciation that it is
> absorbing the
> > Chochmah of the Borei Olam. 4) Your computer has no need to fulfill
> the Halachos
> > contained in the stored information 5) Your computer has no Bein Adam
> LaChaveiro interactions
> > that need to be guided by the Torah. Our protege interacts
> > with his family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and
> > strangers on a daily basis, just not in the context of a
> > particular profession.
> Agreed. But note that certainly 3), 4) and 5) are precisely about that
> something extra called understanding that a human being is capable of
> adding. Appreciation of Chochma is understanding. In addition one
> needs understanding in order to fulfil halacha, and to have bein adam
> l'chavero interactions. As I tried to suggest, one of the key
> differences between my computer and a human being is this thing called
> understanding, which allows the knowledge held to be applied. That I
> thought was a universal. The difference is that TUM believes that the
> understanding achieved by also picking up secular knowledge and
> knowledge of the outside world is a deepened form of understanding when
> then applied to the learning of Torah. That is, from a TUM perspective,
> when a human being learns Torah after some contact with the outside
> world, he has a deepened appreciation that he is absorbing the Chochma
> of the Borei Olam (ie no 3), it helps him to better understand the Torah
> he is learning so as to fulfil the halachos contained in the Torah he is
> learning (no 4) and thereby helps him better to do the bein adam
> l'chavero interactions better (ie 5).
> No 1) *may* not be about understanding - but only if you understand the
> nourishment to take place on a purely spiritual/mystical plane that has
> nothing to do with the intellect. If you understand the level of
> nourshment being linked to the intellectual level of the understanding,
> then a TUM advocate would again hold that by also exploring secular
> knowledge that nourishment will be increased (this also goes to the
> discussion that is being had here on Avodah about whether there is value
> in teaching a weaker student gemora that he doesn't have a hope of
> understanding, because he gets something on a mystical level. If you
> say yes, then it is not about understanding, it is about something
> mystical - which taken to the extreme might mean that say, my son David,
> who has the intellectual level of a 6-9 month baby and will continue to
> do so for the rest of his life, might get something out of being plonked
> in an advanced gemora class. But if you say that putting a weak student
> into a class that goes completely over his head is not a sensible idea,
> then you seem to be back to the idea that that nourishment is linked to
> And similarly with no 2). It depends what you mean by talmud torah. A
> TUM perspective is that the talmud torah is of a better quality if the
> mada aspect of life is explored - that is very clear from R' Lamm's
> books. So if talmud torah is kneged kulam then a better quality may
> well be better (even if it is a better quality earned at the expense of
> quantity). That is also why I was saying that Torah u'Parnasa is
> different from TUM -ie Torah u'Madda. Madda, ie literally science, is
> about the knowledge of the secular world, and the need to explore it in
> order to better strengthen one's Torah understanding. It was, as far as
> I am aware, coined by R' Lamm, but obviously was an attempt to formulate
> an explanation for the kind of teachings he received from his teachers
> (he certainly would have seen RYBS as demonstrating that ideal - a Rosh
> Yeshiva who was also a first class philosopher). Torah u'parnessa is
> about the obligation to earn a living and support one's family (with its
> roots in the Rambam and in the gemora where we would seem to posken
> against RSBY) and hence the pragmatic need to acquire the skills to do
> so honourably (and the dishonourability of turning one's torah into a
> spade). They do not necessarily overlap. I cannot believe that R' Lamm
> would have thought RYSB a failure if there had been no YU to pay his
> salary, despite not only torah but philosophy not being the most
> lucrative of professions (nor one that gives an income with any degree
> of certainty). Nor would he have thought that RYSB should have gone off
> and done medicine even if he could have saved many lives. But I believe
> he unquestionably felt that RYSB was a greater Torah scholar because of
> his studies in philosophy (and mathematics and ... ), and that he would
> have been a lesser Torah scholar had he not gone anywhere near such
> studies, but stayed within the confines of the yeshiva world. And I
> also believe he felt that this would be true even of those with lesser
> abilities, ie they would all be better Torah scholars than they would
> otherwise be if they explored madda in the wider sense, whatever that
> meant in terms of their abilities (ie it might not be philosophy, it
> might be physics, or medicine, or computing that best enhanced that
> particular individuals abilities in torah, although all of the above and
> more is more likely to be better - the ideal of Torah u' Madda is also
> the polymath). R' Lamm's idea can be extended also to non academic
> subjects, but it's original formulation was in terms of the academic.
> But however you formulate it, the ideas is that if a person does not
> explore these wider aspects of life, then that person will be a lesser
> person than they would otherwise be and as a consequence the torah that
> they are capable of will be diminished.
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From: "SBA" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 12:11:41 +1000
Subject: [Avodah] what actually is the issur
From: "M Cohen" <>
..., what actually is the issur for a Jewish lady to sing in front
of nJewish men (ie when l'fnei iver is not an issue)?
Which reminds me of a discussion recently, if there is any
issur (and if so, what?) to own a brothel - where all the
employees and customers are not mibnei bris?
This came up after someone claimed that the 'hetter' for a frum doctor
who has gone over to specialising in 'enhancing' the non-tzenius
parts of females' bodies, was, that he is osek bimelachto and
thus spared from hirhurim.
So the question arose re using a similar 'hetter' to operate a brothel.
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From: Gershon Dubin <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2007 22:29:06 -0400
Subject: [Avodah] Mincha
From: "Michael Elzufon" <Michael@arnon.co.il>
<<MJE] There is another heter that people rely on during the week and
that is to ask someone to remind them to daven ma'ariv. Why would
not asking someone to remind to say kriath shema work here?>>
We're talking about a family eating together. Not likely that anyone can
be the shomer whose arva doesn't need its own arva.
Go to top.
From: Harry Maryles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2007 19:58:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Fw: fashion models and opera singers
Daniel Israel <email@example.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>Assuming your memory extends this far: do you recall is this was a
heter to see the show, or to do the fund raiser? IOW, to what
extent was this a l'chatchila that a frum man should go to the
show? (I ask out of curiosity; the case at hand of the budding
opera singer is really more like the fund raiser than the
l'chatchila attendance, as far as the kol isha issue is concerned.)<<<<<<<<<
To the best of my recollection the fundraiser was on, and RAS was asked about it. But again it was the sixties... a long time ago.
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From: Goldmeier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 06:04:36 +0300
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Matza on Pesach Sheni
My mistake - it is not in Rite and Reason. I double-checked after I sent
the email. It was in this past Shabbos' Torah Tidbits from the Israel
> According to Rite and Reason, there are varying customs. Some eat the
> night of the 14th and some eat during the daytime. Of course there are
> some who will do both as well...
> Kol tuv
> email@example.com wrote:
>> Pesach Sheni is this week, on Wednesday. The Sefer Hatodaah (as
>> translated by RnTK's father, Rav Bulman zt"l) writes: "Some have the
>> custom of eating some left-over matzah from Pesach, as a memorial to
>> the Pesach sacrifice which was eaten together with matzot."
>> Does anyone know, according to this minhag, when would the matza be
>> eaten? On Wednesday afternoon, corresponding to when the Pesach Sheni
>> is shechted, or on Wednesday night, corresponding to when the Pesach
>> Sheni is eaten?
>> Akiva Miller
>> Avodah mailing list
> Avodah mailing list
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