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Volume 24: Number 65

Tue, 20 Nov 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: RallisW@aol.com
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 00:23:19 EST
[Avodah] Borchu UVoruch Shemo between Borchu and Shmono

BTW What is the most neglected Omein in Tefilloh? Either V'ya'azor  or  

V'Sigoleh and the following ...vnomar Omein before Krias  HaTorah. How many


I don't recall anyone ever  answering omein and never really gave it a second
thought. It's almost as if  it's the ba'al koreh's private omein.

That would be true if the sentence didn't end with "V'Nomar Omein."

************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com
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Message: 2
From: yzkd@aol.com
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 00:31:57 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Borchu UVoruch Shemo between Borchu and Shmono

Just a typo correction.? The words AFAIK are Boruch Hu uVoruch Shmo.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com
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Message: 3
From: Aryeh Herzig <guraryeh@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 06:23:21 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Semi-Circular Menorah

If semi-circular would be OK, then why not a full circle?  After all they 
would all be visible being under 10 tefachim from the ground.

I think that the straight line is meant to mimic the straight line of the 
neiros of the menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh.

In the solid gold menorah of the Bais Hamikdosh, it would have been far 
easier to build a menorah with all its kaftorim and perochim as seven 
radiant protrusions from one stem.  It would look like a circle, looking 
down.  The is nothing in the written Torah to preclude such a shape.

This is because gold is a soft metal and the longer the pipes are, the more 
difficult it is to keep to keep them from drooping and warping.  Yet, we 
know from our tradition plus archeaology that it was built as a straight 
line, as difficult as is was for the goldsmith.

Moshe was shown how it should look on Har Sinai.  KaMar'eh Asher Hor'etha 

This "straightness" of the neiros is, therefore, a     Halacha LMoshe 
MiSinai - Torah SheBaal Peh     that is actually refered to in the written 

Chanuka celebrates Torah SheBaal Peh.  The straightness of the neiros is, 
therefore, of prime importance. 

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Message: 4
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 08:26:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d


<<Bottom line: I think Judaism, Torah, and religion in general would be
better off admitting that we really do not understand how God works
rather than parading around our speculations about God and claiming them
as Dogma.  There is a certain hubris from people that claim God wants
THIS or God wants THAT. How do they know? Did they receive a prophecy?
I can quote Torah or Nevi'im and say that God has expressed Himself in a
givne verse as demanding X but I cannot say for sure that given
thecomplexity of a particular situation that God wants any specific
action. >>

This is in essence the approach of RYBS . He was a philosopher and so
had the same problems. However, living in Israel, ROY, R. Schach etc all
know the reasons for every tragedy and publically present a very
simplistic picture.

Eli Turkel
I basically agree with R'Eli on R'Ybs. I am not a
sociologist/anthropologist etc. but it seems to me that there has been a
trend towards people expecting religion to have specific answers, make
life easier etc. (yes, R' Eli - I know R'YBS was clear that this was not
the role of religion).  What I wonder about is which is the chicken and
which is the egg - did we get leaders who answered our need or did they
create the need?

Joel Rich
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Message: 5
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 09:11:41 +0200
Re: [Avodah] What is Mindfulness and does Judaism have

> Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 09:00:26 -0800 (PST)
> From: Yonatan Kaganoff <ykaganoff@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [Avodah] What is Mindfulness and does Judaism have it

> I am trying to respond to a number of responses to my original post in a 
> single email.  Please forgive me if I err on the side of brevity.

I haven't as yet read this complete thread, so I am skipping and just 
responding to 2 issues:

>  So I still have yet to be convinced that Judaism teaches any form of 
> Mindfulness, let alone Mindfulness 2.0.

I'm not an expert on terminology of Mussar etc., so while I may not know 
what something is called, I do know that it exists.  In this case the Gmara 
brings (at least) 2 examples of mindfulness.  I'll bring one:

Lomdim Nekiyut [learning cleanliness] from the cat.

This is a perfect example of Mindfulness.  You are attentive to the world 
around you and you carefully examine it -- and learn from it something that 
impacts on your own behavior.

Other examples are present in the G'mara. Many of them are incorporated in 

>  2) I personally think it a bit arrogant to describe all of Buddhaism 
> [Mahayana, Hinayana (Theravad), Tibetan, (Rinzai and Soto) Zen, American 
> Western, etc.] in broad strokes.  Especially, as most Western Jews (and 
> Christians) practice a deracinated disconnected form of Buddhism, cut off 
> from normative Buddhaism as it has been practiced for two thousand years.
>  But I think that MB has hit on a key appeal of Western Style Buddhism to 
> many Jews.  Instead of constantly acting and reacting, constantly climbing 
> up the ladder (whether that ladder is material success, spiritual 
> accomplishment, or learning Torah) many Ju-Bus find in Buddhism the "Be 
> Here Now" a stillness that is absent from Judaism as practiced in most 
> circles.

Professor Friedman, of the Dept. of Chemistry at BIU, went to study in India 
etc. in his youth.  Many years later, when he became religious, he wrote an 
article which was published in Rav Hesse's Emunot VeDeiOt.

During discussions, ( I was his student) Prof. Friedman once summed up the 
differences between Judaism and Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies:

The Eastern Philosophies deal with "Shev VeAl Ta'aseh".  Reaching Nirvana is 
a complete stillness that does not impact on the world, or as the Prof. used 
to say "does not harm the world".

For Jews, this is insufficient.  We are ordered also "Kum Aseh" -- we have 
the obligation to impact on the world and fix it, to do things.

This would mean that it is quite logical for people who don't want to pursue 
"Kum Aseh", to limit themselves to "Shev VeAl TaAse" - the stillness you 
describe in Eastern philosophies, b/c if they studied Judaism, they would be 
required to do more.

BTW, there are quite a few testimonies of this sort here in Israel.  They 
usually include the point that as the Jewish student reached the highest 
level of study and sought for more, the Eastern teacher, after discussing 
matters with him, sent him back to Israel to learn b/c only Judaism has the 
higher level his soul required.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Message: 6
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 11:52:38 GMT
Re: [Avodah] What is Mindfulness and does Judaism have it

I was quite confused about this whole thread, and asked the threadstarter, R' Yonatan Kaganoff about it.

For the benefit of others who might be similarly confused, it could be helpful to read the article in Wikipedia titled "Mindfulness". It can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness  It is about seven pages long on my screen, and the first paragraph reads:

> Mindfulness (Pali: Sati; Sanskrit: sm'ti) is a technique in
> which a person becomes intentionally aware of their thoughts
> and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It plays
> a central role in Buddhism, with Right Mindfulness (Pali:
> sammÔ-sati; Sanskrit: samyak-sm'ti) being the seventh element
> of the Noble Eightfold Path, the sadhana of which is held in
> the tradition to engender insight and wisdom. Mindfulness may
> be paralogous in Christianity through the Eastern Orthodox
> hesychastic concept of nepsis.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 7
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 13:25:49 +0100
Re: [Avodah] What is Mindfulness and does Judaism have it

RSSimon wrote:
> I wanted to offer a few examples that come to mind when hear
> about "Mindfulness" in Judaism.
<SNIPPED example from RAMBAM>

> 2.  An extreme example of this is the spiritual reason often given
> for O"Ch 2:4 that we put our right shoe on first, to be mindful that
> the "right side", symbolizing chesed, should predominate
> how is it possible for this to help develop 
> our chesed if we are not mindful of this notion when we are doing
> this halacha?

Little nitpicking: please don't confuse the Sefirah of 'Hessed with 
gemilat 'hessed. With the right over left rule, we at most cultivate 
awareness of the Sefirotic system, i.e., in the kabbalistic scheme of things, 
G"d-awareness, not interpersonal 'hessed (though that should follow from our 
G"d-awareness, too).

> 3.  Why do we cover the challah for kiddush?  So the challah doesn't
> become embarrassed?  Rather, it's (again) to inculcate us to be
> sensitive to embarrassment.

Says who? An ultrarationalist. Many would interpret this literally, lo levazot 
et hamitzvot, even if the 'hallah doesn't know the difference. This might 
belong to proper religious mannerisms.

Arie Folger

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Message: 8
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 15:21:44 -0500
Re: [Avodah] A few MORE notes on Parshas Vayetzei

On Nov 20, 2007 10:03 AM, SBA <sba@sba2.com> wrote:

> From: "Richard Wolberg" < >
> It has been pointed out that the most striking parallel to this parasha is
> the story of the descent to Egypt. There are so many obvious thematic
> similarities and complete correspondence between the two accounts that it
> figuratively can be regarded as the same tale.
> >>
> Interesting.
> And then we have the posuk 'Arami Oved avi - vayeired Mitzrayma'
> The 2 accounts have run parallel in the Haggadah for thousands of years
already. What is new about the parallel between Par'oh and Lavan? Did I miss

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
Please Visit:
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Message: 9
From: Gershon Seif <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 11:09:20 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] origin of Megillas Antiochus

I just received an email which stated the following:

Megillas Antiochus - The Scroll of Antiochus. This
ancient scroll which dates back to the first century

Can anyone hear corroborate that? I recall once
hearing that the source and authenticity of Megillas
Antiochus is dubious.

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Message: 10
From: Elliott Shevin <eshevin@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 12:11:25 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Neglected Amens

R. Akiva Miller wrote:
> I'll concede that those amens are indeed quite neglected, and probably do hold the record for it. But OTOH, there are not responses to actual brachos, and so the lack of an amen is not quite such a big deal.
For those cases where very few answer "amen" when the chazan says, "venomar 
amen," I'd nominate Yakum Purkan.
 > On the other hand, at least some of the fault for this must go to the chazanim. I have
> noticed that in many cases, each of the other brachos are ended on a low note, which 
> signifies the end of a paragraph, which invites the people to respond with Amen. But 
> time after time, I keep hearing "Hamachazir Shechinaso L'Tziyon!" ending on a *high* 
> note, which invites the people to continue with "Modim".
Even worse are the chazanim who finish "Hamachazir Shechinaso L'Tziyon!" and 
without taking a breath dive (almost literally) into Modim, without giving the 
tzibur room to answer.
Your smile counts. The more smiles you share, the more we donate.? Join in.
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Message: 11
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <remt@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 17:55:44 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Torah Institutions = Tzeddakah?

R. Binyomin Hirsch wrote:
<I don't know if this was discussed in the past, however I was wondering if anyone knows the source for calling Torah Institution donations tzeddakah?>

R. Zev Sero responded:
<No, it's not tzedakah in the strict sense.  But today the word "tzedaka" in common usage means any worthy cause, any mitzvah, whether it's actual tzedaka or talmud torah or other mitzvos.   In part this comes from our minhag to give maaser, which can be used not just for mitzvat tzedaka but also for any other mitzvah or good cause.  So all of those get lumped under the term tzedaka, which they are in a broader and more vague sense.>

To which RBH inferred:
<Frankly, as no one disputed your interpretation of tzedakah, it would seem that there would be universal agreement to this definition among the group here. In other words most people (AFAIK most lump all charity together) mistakenly feel that they are obligating their Mitzvah of Tzedakah with donations to all charitable causes, thinking that all the benefits linked with the giving of Tzedakah are theirs as a result of their charity donations.>

     I was unaware that sh'tika k'hoda'ah applies to non-responses on Avodah, but since the above shows that it is considered as such, permit me to enter a dissent.  (In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I am a nogei'a badavar as an employee of a Torah institution.)

     I assume that all would agree that just as, e.g., giving money to an individual for hachnasas kallah represents fulfillment of tz'dakah, so too giving it through an organization dedicated to that cause is equally tz'dakah.  Obviously, giving money to an individual to pay for Torah education is tz'dakah, since it is part of "dei machsoro;" why, then, should it be any less an act of tz'dakah if it is given through an organization dedicated to the meeting of that need? 




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Message: 12
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 18:19:40 GMT
[Avodah] Shemitta Flowers in America

The Erev Rosh Hashana issue of (the American edition of) Hamodia contained a whole special magazine section about Shemittah. Page 26 began a four-page article titled, "Q&A: Harav Belsky Responds -- Piskei Halachah that apply to the mitzvah of shemittah from Hagaon Harav Yisroel Belsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah and Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, NY"

The very first of these Questions and Answers is as follows:

> Q: Since over 30 percent of the American supply of flowers
> comes from Eretz Yisrael, is one mechuyav to verify the
> source of flowers before buying them? Is a non-Jew believed
> if he says that a fruit Is not from Eretz Yisrael? (This
> question is applicable all year.)
> A: When one buys from a vendor who carries no packaging
> (boxes in which the flowers were shipped) he may assume that
> the flowers are not sheviis, provided that a solid majority
> (rov) of at least 60 percent of the kind of flower being
> marketed is not from Eretz Yisrael. If the vendor has the
> packaging, the customer should ask to be allowed to go to
> the back to take a look. The country of origin will appear
> on the box. Public-minded organizations should provide
> regular information about the percentages and have them
> posted properly. Stores that cooperate in allowing
> observation by mashgichim should be publicized so that one
> could shop at them (if they carry sheviis-free products only)
> and avoid all problems. Non-Jews are not acceptable as
> witnesses and their word is insufficient.

I have been watching ads in the Jewish Press, HaModia, Yated, and I have not seen any advertisements or announcements about flower shops which are selling non-Shemittah flowers. I am wondering: Have there been announcements that I have not seen? Or perhaps other poskim have taken a different position on this?

Is it possible that other people have other data, suggesting that Rav Belsky's "30%" figure is unduly high and alarmist? For example, I have learned elsewhere that Hilchos Shemittah only applies to *fragrant* flowers. Could it be that Rav Belsky's "30%" includes non-fragrant flowers, and that the actual percentage of fragrant Israeli flowers is negligible?

For a community that seems to love latching on to whatever chumros it can find, I've been very surprised by the silence on this issue. I hope that others have heard more than I've heard, and I hope they will share it. Thank you.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 13
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:31:39 +0200
Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d

R' Eli Turkel wrote:
> <<Bottom line: I think Judaism, Torah, and religion in general would
> be better off admitting that we really do not understand how God works
> rather than parading around our speculations about God and claiming
> them as Dogma.  There is a certain hubris from people that claim God
> wants THIS or God wants THAT. How do they know? Did they receive a
> prophecy?  I can quote Torah or Nevi'im and say that God has expressed
> Himself in a givne verse as demanding X but I cannot say for sure that
> given thecomplexity of a particular situation that God wants any
> specific action. >>
> This is in essence the approach of RYBS . He was a philosopher and so
> had the same problems. However, living in Israel,
> ROY, R. Schach etc all know the reasons for every tragedy and
> publically present a very simplistic picture.
You are creating an false dichotomy between those who claim to know the 
reason for a calamity and those who don't make such claims or have 
doubts about their assertions. There is in fact a religious obligation 
to attribute suffering to specific shortcomings - as noted in the 
sources below.  In other words it is a recognized technique for teshuva 
to make causal links between suffering and sin. The question is whether 
the link is correct and the degree that people feel confident that they 
have identified the causal relationship. In addition how much 
uncertainty should a leader admit for the technique to work. RYBS was 
inherently a conflicted individual so it was no chidush for him to admit 
so. On the other hand such public honesty doesn't make for strong 
leadership. Such public doubt just doesn't work for other communities. 
An additional problem is with modern communications. A attribution that 
makes sense in one community will be ridiculed in another. For example 
those who claim calamity results because women wear sheitel or have 
internet connection etc.

*Kuzari**[i]* <#_edn1>*(5:20): ? *The Prime Will is manifest when the 
Divine Presence is amongst the Jews. However after the destruction of 
the Temple it became doubtful?except in the hearts of those who have 
faith?whether specific events were the result of the direct command of 
G?d or the Heavenly spheres or were accidents. There is no definitive 
way to resolve this issue. Nonetheless it is best to attribute 
everything that happens to G?d, especially major things such as death, 
victory, war, success and bad fortune.

*Chovas HaLevavos**[i]* <#_edn1>*(3:8): *I have found in books 
information about Divine compulsion, decree, rulership, and will. They 
state that everything is controlled by G?d from mineral, plant and 
animal to human beings. Tehilim (135:6): G?d does whatever He wants to 
do in Heaven and earth?. There are many similar verses that teach this 
idea that man and other creatures were prepared merely to adorn the 
world. That they move only with His permission, with His power, and with 
His ability. ? Our sages had intense debates about how to reconcile 
Divine compulsion and Divine justice? Some held man has total free will 
and that is why man receives reward and punishment. Others held the 
opposite that everything is determined by G?d? When this latter group is 
asked about reward and punishment they respond that it is a mystery but 
G?d is just in whatever He does? There is a third group which believes 
in both Divine compulsion and Divine justice. But they add that whoever 
delves into the matter cannot avoid sin and trouble no matter how he 
attempts to explain the matter. They claim that the best approach is to 
have full faith that man has full free will and will be rewarded and 
punished for his deeds? but at the same time to have the full trust in 
G?d as one who believes that everything is fully determined by G?d. 
Furthermore to believe that G?d can make claims against man but man can 
not demand anything of G?d. This position is closer to resolving the 
problem than the others. That is because our ignorance of G?d?s wisdom 
is well known because of the weakness of our minds and the limited 
awareness. But in fact our ignorance is the means by which G?d shows His 
kindness to us and that is why it is hidden from us. Because if there 
was any benefit in revealing this secret then G?d would have revealed it 
to us.

* **Menoras HaMeor**[i]* <#_edn1>*(#298):* When a person has a calamity 
happen to him he should not think that it was just by chance. Because 
whoever mistakenly believes that is punished measure for measure and is 
deserted to chance without any protection? This is a very great 
punishment because there are many opportunities for accidents to happen 
and if one is deserted by Heaven he has no protection at all? This verse 
that says that evil doesn?t descend from Heaven is because a sinner 
doesn?t need to be harmed from Heaven it is sufficient that his 
protection is removed and then he vulnerable to accidents and suffering 
since there is no suffering without sin? Therefore a person must believe 
with solid faith that G?d knows the secret matters and He is the true 
judge and judges the entire world ?

*Rabbeinu Bachye**[i]* <#_edn1>*(Vayikra 26:21): /If you act with Me as 
if the world is random. /*The Torah attitude is that when a person 
achieves success and things work out properly?he should attribute this 
to G?d?s kindness and not to his merit and good deeds. This attitude is 
stated in Devarim (9:5): /And not because of your righteousness and the 
uprightness of your heart. /In contrast when misfortune and tragedy 
happens to him, he must confess his sins to G?d and attribute it 
entirely to his sins and not to chance or bad luck. If he insists on 
attributing his suffering to coincidence than G?d will add to his ?bad 
luck.? This is the meaning of this verse where it says ?Also I will 
behave to you in a random way.? This threat is repeated in stronger form 
in Vayikra (26:28) where it is an expression of anger. In other words in 
this latter verse G?d says He will pour upon you ?bad luck? out of His 
anger with you.


*Rabbeinu Bachye[i] <#_edn1>(Kad HaKemach Bitachon):*An aspect of 
bitachon in G?d is that even when a person has wealth, possessions, 
peace of mind and honor?he should not assume that this is the reward for 
his good deeds. Even if he is a complete tzadik it is better to even 
consider himself wicked and ascribe all the good entirely to the 
kindness of G?d. On the other hand if he suffers calamities or is 
attacked by bandits he should not view it as simply bad luck?. Such a 
response is the path of heresy. Rather he should ascribe the suffering 
to his many sins. In fact if he insists that his suffering is merely bad 
luck, G?d will give him addition ?bad luck??

*Rambam**[i]* <#_edn1>*(Letter on Astrology): ? *In summary, the 
philosophers claim that everything that happens to everything?whether it 
is man, animal, tree or mineral?is all due to chance. They also agree 
that the source of existence comes from G?d by means of the spheres. The 
controversy between the philosophers and Judaism is that we assert that 
what happens to a person is not chance but rather it is the result of 
G?d?s judgment? The Torah warned and gave testimony that if you don?t 
obey G?d He will punish you. (Vayikra 26:14). Therefore if you assert 
that this suffering is not punishment for sin but is merely chance you 
will suffer from additional calamities from this ?chance.? This is 
stated clearly in Vayikra (26:27?28): If you walk with Me with chance 
then I will walk with you in the wrath of chance. This is the root of 
our religion which is the Torah of Moshe?that all events that happen in 
the world and all suffering that happens to a person is a just decree 
from G?d. Thus our sages said that there is no death without sin and no 
suffering without transgression (Shabbos 55a).

*Rambam**[i]* <#_edn1>*(Hilchos Taanis 1:1?3): *It is a Torah mitzva to 
pray and to sound trumpets for every calamity that comes on the 
community. This is part of repentance so that all will know that the 
suffering is because of their sins and that the prayer is to remove the 
suffering. But if a person does not respond to calamity by prayer and 
sounding the trumpets but simply says that it was a natural event?that 
is being hard hearted. Such an attitude causes him to cling to his evil 
deeds and to receive additional suffering. That is why the Torah 
(Vayikra 26) says that if you relate to me incidentally I will treat you 
with chance. In other words ?When I bring calamity on you in order for 
you to repent?if you say it is accidental I will add to you more 
?accidents? .?

*Meiri**[i]* <#_edn1>*(Berachos 5a): *It is proper for a person not to 
question G?d?s conduct. When a person experiences suffering or 
calamities whether financial or physical?he should examine his own 
deeds. If he is unable to discover anything which would justify this 
suffering he should ascribe the suffering to neglecting Torah study. It 
is important to know and understand that there is no such thing as 
suffering without any sin to justify it. Our sages knew that there is no 
smoke without fire. Suffering from love is discussed in my book about 

*Berachos(5a):[*[Raba (some say, R. Hisda) says: If a man sees that 
painful sufferings visit him, let him examine his conduct. For it is 
said: Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord.21 If he 
examines and finds nothing [objectionable], let him attribute it to the 
neglect of the study of the Torah. For it is said: Happy is the man whom 
Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest out of Thy law.22 If he did 
attribute it [thus], and still did not find [this to be the cause], let 
him be sure that these are chastenings of love. For it is said: For whom 
the Lord loveth He correcteth.23

*Rashi(Berachos 5a):* *If a person seaches and yet can not find a sin* - 
which deserves such suffering he should attribute the suffering to 
wasting time from Torah study.

Daniel Eidensohn


** <#_ednref1>

* *


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