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Volume 24: Number 31

Fri, 26 Oct 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 22:24:15 EDT
Re: [Avodah] A few notes on Parshas Vayeiro

From: "SBA" _sba@sba2.com_ (mailto:sba@sba2.com) 

>>"Ba'asher Hu Shom  (21:17) - Rashi: "Achshov ma hu? Tzaddik.."

But only a few pesukim  earlier Rashi repeatedly accuses Yishmoel of AZ, GA
and shefichas damim and  that he went out 'letarbus ra' (pesukim 9,10,11,14).

This is a  tzaddik??<<

First of all, the word "tzaddik" is sometimes used to mean "a person who  has 
more good deeds than bad"  -- like when we are judged on Rosh Hashana  -- 
rather than the way we are used to thinking of it, as an exceptionally good  
person with no aveiros.  Here it means "an innocent person" -- innocent in  the 
sense that he has not yet done anything that he would be chayav misah  for.
Second of all, all his sins of "AZ, GA and shefichas damim and that he  went 
out 'letarbus ra' " were subtle -- he hadn't yet done anything obvious and  
overt.  Sarah was able to spot where he was heading (and where he would  lead 
Yitzchak, if he hung around long enough) but Avraham couldn't see it (until  
Hashem Himself told Avraham that Sarah's insights were correct).  So  obviously 
whatever Yishmael was doing wasn't yet glaringly obvious.  He was  only a 
teenager, 17 years old  -- a kid.
 BTW I sometimes think of a "compare and contrast" essay between the  two 
17-year-olds in the Chumash -- Yishmael and Yosef.  Both were immature  and yet 
in both cases, where they were eventually going to end up was already  obvious 
at that young age.
While on this subject I will also mention something else about this  story.  
Yishmael was a young man of 17 yet in his mother's eyes he was a  "yeled" 
because he was ill and she thought he was dying.  When my son was  17 he was quite 
ill at one point, had to have two operations and spend nearly a  month in the 
hospital.  B'H he is well now, almost 19, and learning Torah  in 
Yerushalayim, "where my heart yearns to be."  But when he was in the  hospital and I spent 
night after night in the hospital with him, he really did  seem, despite his 
height of six feet, to be a sick little boy -- a yeled.   I really felt for 
Hagar, I have to say.
Another question I have about this parsha -- "ba'asher hu sham" -- is,  how 
does this square with the Jewish children who were killed in Mitzrayim,  baked 
into the bricks  -- because if they were allowed to live, they would  end up 
being reshaim and doing horrible things?   A possible answer is that  this way, 
 they would die innocent and never have the opportunity to sin  and acquire 
gehenom, so it was for their benefit, but then why wouldn't Hashem  "benefit" 
Yishmael the same way and let him die innocent?  Oh wait maybe  there is a 
reason -- because ultimately Yishmael did do teshuva.

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 2
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 04:27:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Mikveh l'zona

R' Dov Kay wrote:
> Leah is also having a relationship with a non-Jewish man and going to 
> mikveh.  I would prefer not to elaborate as to the circumstances in 
> order to avoid identification.  I will say that she is publicising her 
> conduct in her workplace, much to the embarrassment of other Jewish 
> employees.  I strongly surmise, based on other facts, that she is 
> doing this in order to have a baby.
> There is no doubt much that could be said about Leah's mindset and our 
> recommended response to it on Areivim, but I have question for 
> Avodah:  Is there any point at all in her going to mikveh?  Is there 
> an issur of niddah in such a case?
As Rav Moshe once noted regarding the permissibility of a woman prime 
minister - none of the relevant people asked. Similarly the young lady 
is obviously not looking for a psak as to whether to go to the mikveh. I 
think it is akin to a murderer piously chosing a method which doesn't 
damage the victims clothing. A posek's concern in this case would be to 
prevent her being involved whith the non-Jew. She is a chasid shoteh who 
has lost her spiritual bearings and focuses on  secondary issues.  A 
doctor once told me of the problem of two frum lesbians who were 
frustrated because they couldn't get their periods synchronized and thus 
were forced to abstain from physical contact with each other most of the 

Regarding the  halachic issue - did Esther go to mikveh before being 
with Achashveros? Megila(13b) said  she would  go  to mikveh before 
visiting Mordechai. The commentaries i.e., Maharsha and Tosfos say she 
was with Achashveros while she was a niddah. However Rashi is 
understood  as meaning that  she went to the mikva for Achashveros. This 
is rather difficult to understand since she obviously couldn't tell 
Achashveros to stay away from her when she was a niddah.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Message: 3
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 03:25:43 GMT
Re: [Avodah] What's important when paskening LeKula or

RnSBoublil writes
<Rav Aviner wrote a summary of the questions regarding Heter Mechira and Otzar Beit Din.

What is interesting is that he raises many issues that we have discussed here in the past, including the question of when a chumra in one matter actually impacts and causes a kula or even an aveira in another matter.


He also brings Marei Mekomot.>

     WADR to Rav Aviner, what he has written is a polemic, not a summary.  

     He begins by positing that there is no question about the validity of the hetter mechira in view of the g'dolim who permitted it 112 years ago -- without even a mention that (1) there were g'dolim of equal caliber at that time who held the hetter invalid, and that (2) even among the mattirim, there were many (if not most) who felt it should be applied only in the extreme sh'as had'chak that was the then-current situation, and which might not apply today.

     Obviously, if one quotes only mattirim and not osrim, one can then claim that not to rely on the hetter is only midas chasidus, and can then argue that it is wrong to say "asur," and mention all sorts of problems one can be led to by a chumra.  But since his basic premise -- that it is indisputably only a chumra -- is false, so is the entire halachic edifice he constructs on that foundation; and the marei m'komos he cites are all about those consequences, not about the assumption itself.

     He does, however, raise serious objections to the otzar beis din hetter.  But here, too, I imagine that there are those who have responded to the objections, yet he makes no mention of them -- another indication of the agenda-driven, rather than halacha-centric, nature of his remarks.

     In the readers' reactions following the remarks, there was one worthy of note.  Rav Aviner strongly makes the point that one should not purchase from non-Jewish agriculture. (Parenthetically, the tenor of the article, especially its opening, gives the impression that it is a prohibition of greater importance than mitzvas sh'mitta.)  The questioner essentially asked why equal care was not given to this "issur" in non-sh'mitta years as well.  And it isn't -- certain vegetables, such as cucumbers, are almost all Arab produce.


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Message: 4
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 04:13:15 -0400
Re: [Avodah] An-im Zemiros

R' Zev Sero:
> Al pi nigleh the reason not to look at the Cohanim, or at anything
> else, is so as not to be distracted from hearing the bracha.  It has
> long seemed to me that going under a talles with several people,
> including screaming kids, is *less* conducive to focusing on the bracha
> than forgoing the talles and just closing ones eyes.   Also, a talles
> with several people under it gets hot and stuffy, especially if the
> Cohanim sing at great length between words, and by the end one is
> waiting impatiently for it to be over, which is not what it's about.

R' Yaakov Emden agrees with you - he says (in his Siddur - he references
"Chiburi" which I assume is Mor U'Ketziah, where I assume he explains his
reasoning) that both the Kohanim and the rest of the people should not cover
their faces with their talleisim.


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Message: 5
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgluck@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 05:21:32 -0400
[Avodah] ...She'taaseh L'maan Kedushas Chasadecha...

The Yehi Ratzon commonly said before the end of Bircas Kohnim was, according
to Siddur Rashban, established by the Ari Hakadosh. Other Siddurim brought
down that the Sefer Shaarei Tzion says to say it (instead of repeating
Ribono Shel Olam a third time). Does anyone know where I can find out more
information about the source of this Nusach? I would assume it's somewhere
in Kisvei HaAri, but I have no clue as to how to find it.


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Message: 6
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 11:03:51 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Minhag Yisroel and Gra on 2 Matzos vs.3

RAF write:

> R'n CL wrote:
> > I thought that, to the contrary, I suggested
> > that for some people, a particular question may be so important to 
> > them that it shapes their whole hashkafic outlook on life, 
> and hence 
> > they would indeed categorically exclude choosing someone 
> based on the 
> > particular desired answer to a particular question.
> Well, I do have an issue with that. Our actions should flow 
> forth from our principles, don't you think so?

While this sounds like some sort of platonic ideal - we sit an
philosophise and develop principles and then act in accordance with
them, I don't think this is how things work for many people (maybe it
works that way for the people of the Rambam's ideal).  If you don't want
to hold by the idea that most people are therefore a write-off (in which
case, I suspect, whatever you posken for them probably doesn't matter),
then maybe you need to legitimise the actual way people end up drawing
hashkafic conclusions, which would seem to be a bit more bottom up than

> I will be less likely to post in the coming three weeks. 
> Please do not feel 
> offended by my silence.

No problem.
> Arie Folger

And then RRW wrote:

> See YD 1:1 BY and Schach
> Not exploiting a textual heter is by no means a slam dunk in 
> either direction. The levuch posits the reaons women were 
> excluded for Shechita was due to faintin?

I agree that it is not a slam dunk.  If anything, the question goes
deeper than just minhag, and gets into the issues that eg the Aruch
Hashulchan discusses in relation to the prohibition of clapping and
dancing on shabbas.  Can you, where Chazal gives a specific reason why
they instituted a particular gezera, no longer keep to that gezera if
circumstances (such as the ability of individuals to fix instruments)
chances, as Tosphos and hence the Rema seem to posit.  Now even if you
agree with the Aruch HaShulchan that one cannot in the case of a
specific rabbinic gezera, then maybe you can if it is just a minhag or
the failure to take advantage of a particular heter.  So there could be
many grounds for disagreeing with RHS.  But I didn't see any value in
overstating the case that he appears to be making - because if you do
that, then you will end up constructing straw men just to be knocked
down (which is what I felt the kohen boxes probably were).

On another topic RRW writes:

> I have a bitter fed with a colleague of mine - let's call him 
> Rabbi ABC. Regarding the issue of women and kerias Megillah 
> Rabbi ABC posits the
> following:
>    1. The Tosefta in the place of a conflicting Bavli is NOTHING
>    2. The Bahag and Tosafos use the Tosefta to override the 
> the Bavli in
>    ARachin 3-4 that permits women to read megillah for men. 
> [af hein hayu b'oso
>    haneis ipmlies that like ner Hanukkah, they can do Negillah]
>    3. Ergo  Behag and Tsoafos themselves are NOT playing by 
> the rules of
>    Halacha themselves
>    4. And therefore they really are not doing Halachah, but playing
>    games  C"V
>    5. And [to add insult to insult] they are pursuing a consistently
>    misogynist agenda
> let's recap:
> He claims that the Bavli trumps all and THAT is a rule of pesak:
>    1. is that a fact?  is the Bavli the final arbiter of pesak?
>    2. Or is the the decisiveness of the Bavli a matter of debate?
>    3. are there sources to prove one side or the other? 
> [believe me I am
>    looking at this ll the time?
> Toby claims that R&C rabbis decide the issue first and find 
> support in texts that suits their agenda.  But Rabbi ABC 
> posits that Behag, Toafos and many Orthodox rabbis do this 
> frequently, too. That a decision is mad on some agenda and 
> sources are mustered to make the argument plausible, or 
> cogent post facto.  First comes a minhag afterwards come the 
> rationale.
> How can  I answer Rabbi ABC? As a jew in need I request YOUR help!
> Disclaimer: I do not consider Rabbi ABC an honest broker of 
> the facts of how Halachah works. But in the interest of da 
> mah lehashiv, I need something that can be "makheh es shinav".

The irony of this discussion is that if you were only analysing the
halachic aspect of this (and leaving out the cries of misogyny) this Rav
sounds like a Sephardi.  Funnily enough on the particular topic in hand,
in his single days my husband asked whether he could hear megilla read
by a woman, and was told he could.  Not that he has ever availed himself
of this psak, but every year he says - Oh maybe I should go to the
women's reading at Yakar (or wherever) I got this psak ... 

Of course the Sephardi halachic analysis is precisely this - the Bavli
trumps the Tosephta, and we don't follow Tosphos and the Rema.  And
while highly I doubt misogyny would be something that would be raised,
one of the Sephardi criticisms of a lot of Ashkenazi psak is precisely
about using what seem to be external sources and dubious minhagim to
trump the Bavli (and some of it might be argued to be not that polite -
I think I have read some pretty strong things about not sitting in the
sukkah on shmini atzeres).

Now of course, if you want to talk about women making brochos on mitzvos
aseh shehazman grama ... 

So, actually, I think there are lots of sources to support Rabbi ABC's
position - but I suspect that on other topics (such as women making
brochos) he is not going to want to switch what I suspect is an
Ashkenazi allegiance.  Now it is presumably a very interesting question
as to whether if one were Ashkenazi, but became convinced that the
Sephardi method of halachic analysis was correct (or even more so - if
one decided that the greatest talmid chacham of the day was Sephardi,
and went to learn by him and made him one's rebbe) - or of course, vice
versa, could one do so?  And where does minhag end and halacha begin and
end in such a case?  What about taking positions in a community?  I can
think of two cases here - one is that one of the Rabbis at Aish here is
Sephardi in origin (Syrian from the US, son of a Rav there), and very
steeped in the Sephardi tradition.  But he is working with, on the main,
Ashkenazi not yet frum, and within an Ashkenazi organisation.  He has in
general chosen to put on a united front - including, for example,
dancing and clapping on shabbas - to raise my earlier topic - where all
the sources on which he has to rely are Ashkenazi.  Is he picking and
choosing?  You can certainly see exactly why he is picking and choosing
if he is, but it does seem to be making him a bit neither fish nor fowl?
Another case is a Sephardi Rav who is now a Dayan of the London Beis Din
(OK that pretty much identifies him) and has recently become a Rav of
what is very much a predominantly Ashkenazi congregation.  I have no
idea how he is dealing with these issues - I suspect there would be some
fascinating material if he were to give some insight into his thought
processes and how he is poskening for his congregation.  He certainly is
taking an attitude that differences in minhagim, even as wide as this
should not be a bar to having a unified community.  But it seems to me
that the difference in psak methodology would be even more fundamental.
Oh and yet another example the other way.  As the gedolim of the last
few generations pass away, I seem to be hearing more and more reports of
Ashkenazi rabbaim looking to ROY when they have a case too difficult for
them.  The whole thing boggles my mind.  Having read now quite a lot of
ROY teshuvos, I would be really surprised if you would get a psak from
him where the Mechaber would be trumped by a Tosphos.  Does it matter?
Does the quality of the gadol matter more than their derech even when it
is so far away from what one might expect their tradition to produce?
Can one pick and choose if one has (like this case of megilla) the
Sephardi tradition on which to rely - especially if one really believes
that that is the "right" answer.

Shabbat Shalom


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Message: 7
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 09:13:20 -0400 (EDT)
[Avodah] Emes and Pesaq

On Thu, October 25, 2007 11:25 pm, R Elazar M. Teitz wrote:
:      WADR to Rav [...], what he has written is a polemic, not a
: summary.
:      Obviously, if one quotes only mattirim and not osrim, one can
: then claim that not to rely on the hetter is only midas chasidus,...

For the sake of promulgating observance, one may give one's own pesaq
in the name of one's rebbe or attribute it to any adam gadol who you
feel could/would have said it and they are more likely to follow. It
would be interesting to analyze the limits of the use of such "white

REMT observes that Rav X presumes the opposition's meqoros are
inadmissible and irrelevant. Therefore he doesn't cite them, which
pretty much hides the primary issue behind his pesaq as happening
before the teshuvah even begins. Given the heated nature of the
machloqes on the particular din in question (heter mechirah), it will
be taken by the reader as though he were actively telling them such
sources do not exist. Particularly since he concludes it's a midas
chassidus built entirely on that supposed lack of support. The poseiq
in question here is telling the truth, but not the whole truth, and
making deductions that really would need far more support in the face
of the untold other tzad of the machloqes. Doesn't it get into the
question of the permissibility and parameters of white lies?

OTOH, it's kind of like my recent aside on why some contexts call for
an "IMHO" while in others it is a huge blunder -- even though anything
written is perforce obviously the author's opinion. (With the
complexity of speaking of the Author's "Opinion" in one case...) Is it
the rav in question's fault that he only presents his humble opinion
and people deduce from his silence things about other opinions?

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Message: 8
From: "Richard Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:09:27 -0400
[Avodah] Did Someone Forget Eilu v'eilu?

Rambam maintains that Avraham's encounter with the three messengers was not

actual event. It was a prophetic vision. He also maintains the same with
Yaakov encounter with the adversary. So it is obvious that the Rambam treats
certain narratives in the Torah that seems to describe an actual event, as a
prophetic vision. This very well could apply to Bilaam and the donkey.

My question is: isn't it logical that the same poskim who banned Slifkin's
book should ban these parts of the Rambam's work?

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Message: 9
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 13:17:11 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Did Someone Forget Eilu v'eilu?

On Fri, October 26, 2007 7:09 am, Richard Wolberg wrote:
: Rambam maintains that Avraham's encounter with the three messengers
: was not an actual event. It was a prophetic vision....

I argued here in the past otherwise. Yes, the Rambam says it was a
prophetic vision. However, the Rambam's notion of prophecy, at least
as explained by the Abarbanel, means that visions are of real events.
Non-physical ones, but real nonetheless.

I argued that the machloqes here with the Ramban is also about the
nature of prophecy -- is it communication via visions (Ramban) or
glimpses into metaphysical realities (Rambam). This is why their
machloqes about who was the Man on the Throne in Maaseh haMerkavah is
leshitasam. The Ramban says it was G-d -- no problem, because it's
just a symbol Hashem showed Yechezqeil (and Yirmiyahu, and before them
the 70 zeqeinim at har Sinai) to represent himself. The Rambam says
it's the kavod nivra; leshitaso it must be something real and

The bit about the Slifkin ban shouldn't have slipped through moderation.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Message: 10
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 11:26:05 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Avraham Avinu's Menu: Meshech Chochma P VaYera

In a message dated 10/25/2007 7:22:34 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
meirabi@optusnet.com.au writes:

How does the MCh know that BP may  be cooked with  milk?

See Pischei Tshuva Y"D 87 ois 14, and Darkei Tshuva ibid s"k 72, for  
Machlokes Achronim on this and their Limudim.
Kol  Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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