Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 32

Wed, 23 Jan 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 22:08:01 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Court System Models

> On the contrary, my understanding is that the US court system is very much like Moshe Rabenu's: Any infraction, whether high-profile or low-profile, is judged by the lowest court of whatever jurisdiction is relevant.

> Akiva Miller

This is exactly what I said. With Torah, the case is pushed up when
the court doesn't know the answer. With USA, the case is pushed up
when a party claims (after the ruling) that the court didn't rule
properly ( = claims the court didn't know the answer). Not exactly the
same, but similar.

Never does it occur that the court says "This case is high profile.
Let's push it up". There is no legal definition of "high profile".
It's just that high profile cases are controversial (or vice versa),
and so they are liable to be second-guessed and pushed up higher. Or
as R' Akiva said, because high profile cases involve prestigious
lawyers who can argue successfully for an appeal to a higher court.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 2
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 22:11:36 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Court system models

> I have heard that part of the US government structure was inspired by
> Tanach:

The British (and American) philosophies of government were both very
Tanach-inspired. See

Yoram Hazony, "Judaism and the Modern State", Azure, no.
21, Summer 2005. http://azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=271


Rabbi Ken Spiro, "Jews and the Founding of America", Aish haTorah,

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 3
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 22:27:59 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Tu B'Shvat "Don't Cut Your Nose to Spite Your

> "When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to seize it,
> do not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them, for from it you
> will eat, and you shall not cut it down; for is the tree of the field a man
> that it should be besieged before you?" (Devarim 20:19)
> In the midst of a chapter dealing with warfare, which by definition is
> destructive, the Torah demands that the Jew remains conscious of the need to
> maintain his regard for the general welfare and cleave to his love of
> goodness and peace. If we try to remain good even at times that call forth
> our basest instincts, we will try not to waste even a mustard seed, and
> resultingly will be able to perfect our characters steadily. (Chinuch).

It is funny that with this pasuk, I interpret it textually as Rashi
but ta'am-ically as ibn Ezra.

According to Rashi, the pasuk is a rhetorical question - "is the tree
of the field a man?". I forget what Rashi's proposed ta'am is, but
it's not bal tashkit.

Whereas ibn Ezra says the pasuk is an affirmative statement - "man IS
a tree of the field", and his ta'am is bal tashkit - man should not
destroy trees because doing so harms himself.

Textually, Rashi fits better I think. But ta'am-ically, I go with ibn
Ezra. I interpret the pasuk as follows:

"is the tree of the field a man" - You are warring against the men,
and thus you are right (or allowed to) kill them, but is the tree part
of this war? Does it deserve to die? No! You shall preserve the trees
and most certainly not destroy them, for they are valuable and worthy
of preservation, and since they are not part of the war, you cannot
destroy them. Whereas the men you are fighting are also valuable and
worthy - tzelem elokim! - but the war justifies killing them despite
their worth. The Torah is teaching us, don't engage in destructive
fire and crater warfare - only destroy what is part of the war, and
don't needlessly destroy what is valuable to man.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 4
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 22:36:21 +0200
Re: [Avodah] "Zeh Keli v'anveihu Elokei avi va'arom'menhu"

> When the Israelites saw that they had been rescued from Pharaoh's army at
> the sea, they sang out with gratitude: "zeh Keli v'anveihu Elokei avi
> va'arom'menhu" This is my God and I will glorify Him; the God of my father
> and I will exalt Him.
> There are several questions that come up here. What is the difference
> between "...and I will glorify Him" and "...and I will exalt Him."  It seems
> like a repetition. Onkelos, Rashi, Ibn Ezra and Ramban all agree that...

I'm a Rabbi Yishmael sort of exegete. It seems to me that the Torah
speaks in the language of men (especially when it actually is quoting
men!), and since men speak in repetitions and parallelisms, etc., so
does the Torah.

Modern scholarship has found so many Near Eastern documents that speak
in the same manner as the Torah, that it seems difficult to me to
follow Rabbi Akiva's method of eliminating all (apparent) redundancies
and such. Unless we want to say that Hashem also wrote all the
non-Jewish Near Eastern writings that use the same patterns as the

Besides, Rabbi Yishma'el's solution simply makes more sense to me.
Hashem gave the Torah to us to be understood by us and close to us,
not to be a puzzle of strange and perplexing patterns that we have to
struggle to make heads or tails of, and whose intended meaning
constantly contradicts the p'shat. (This last sentence will surely
provoke controversy against me, on the topic of when Chazal's exegesis
( = intended meaning) contradicts p'shat too, and the fact that Malbim
and others sought to show there is not really any contradiction. But
I'll deal with this later when someone makes an objection.)

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 5
From: "Liron Kopinsky" <liron.kopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 15:23:58 -0800
Re: [Avodah] Court System Models

>Never does it occur that the court says "This case is high profile.
Let's push it up". There is no legal definition of "high profile".<

This is true. Each court in the US has too large of an ego to allow for the
assumption that maybe they aren't supposed to be deciding on a particular
My argument still holds, however, that since the only real way for an issue
to make it to the highest courts is with the financial backing to support
the lawyers, that the only case that make it are the high-profile cases, not
the most difficult ones.

To try and highlight my point, there is probably no example of any case from
small claims court being handled by a a higher court, however the exact
liability might be very complicated and in a halachik system would
(hopefully) have Rabbanim asking more authoritative people.

Kol Tuv,
~Liron Kopinsky
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Message: 6
From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@kayescholer.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 19:20:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Zeh Keli v'anveihu Elokei avi va'arom'menhu"

In Avodah Digest V25#31, CRW wrote:
> The first half of the verse uses the name Keil, while the second half
uses Elokim. Rav Kook explained the Song
refers to two types of love for God....A second, higher form
of love for God is acquired through thoughtful contemplation of God's rule
of the universe. This love corresponds to the name Elokim - in the plural -
referring to the myriad causes and forces that God utilizes to govern the
> I see it as the first half of the verse "Keil" (singular) referring to
God as the personal God (how each one of us perceive God). The second half
"Elokei" (plural) refers to how our parents perceived God. Each generation
must find God for itself. <
Eloqim is a plural form, but "avi" is singular and thus b'pashtus can't
refer to "our parents," else the word in the Torah should have been

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager
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Message: 7
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 02:49:16 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Kol B'Ishah and Halachic methodology

>that the halacha of 'tzarich l'hisracheik min hanashim meod meod' is
>based on a totally different societal basis, one where men and women
by >default were entirely separate, and any contact between the sexes
was >dangerous.  Nowadays, when society is in any case so mixed, I
don't >think the halacha expects me (or wants me) to be anti-social
and davka >avoid sitting at a table where a girl is sitting.

Everything below, I already said, but it was very succinct, and I got
a few of my facts wrong besides. Here is a full presentation:

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin comes to this exact conclusion in his Equality
Lost (Urim: 1999), in chapter nine, "Hirhur and Community Norms". He
asks the question, "Is there halachic justification for the relatively
open interaction between men and women in much of today's Orthodoxy,
and if so, what is it?"

Rabbi Henkin first examines Ketuvot 17a and Berachot 20a, in which two
rabbis justify social intercourse with women on the grounds that they
personally on are such levels that this poses no problem of tzniut or
hirhur for themselves.

Sefer haChinuch 188 says no one today may take such liberties with himself.

But Rabbi Hai Gaon in Rabbenu Yonah to Berachot 25a, Sefer Mitzvot
Katan 30, and the Ritva to the end of Kiddushin, all say that if a man
knows that he himself is on this level, he can permit for himself the
same sorts of acts that the rabbis in the Gemara did.

But this only permits openness for exceptional individuals; what of
societal openness? The Maharshal in his Yam Shel Shlomo to Kiddushin,
4:25, says that if an individual knows that he can overcome his
impulses, he may speak to an ervah and such; he also quotes the Ritva
in full. But he adds, "The whole world relies on this in using the
services of, and speaking to, and looking at, women". Rabbi Henkin
notes that this is in contrast to Ritva, he spoke only of exceptional
individuals; Rabbi Henkin notes that Maharshal's chiddush is that
"When an entire community is accustomed to mingling with and speaking
to women, on the other hand, their familiarity may be relied on to
forestall sinful thoughts".

Rabbi Henkin notes that Maharshal's source is Tosafot to Kiddushin
82a. R. Acha bar Ada explained his special liberty saying "hakol
leshem shamayim", but Tosafot there say "On [hakol leshem shamayim] we
rely nowadays [in] that we make use of the services of women". Rabbi
Henkin says, "The Tosafot employ this principle to justify widespread
practicess. This is precisely the equation employed by Maharshal".

Rabbi Henkin says, "It can be said that the "whole world" of modern
Orthodoxy relies implicitly on this Maharshal in using the services of
and speaking to and looking at women".

Rabbi Henkin then notes two additional authorities who follow this approach:
1) The Maharshal's student, Rabbi Mordechai Yafeh, in the Levush
haTechelet vehaChur (Orach Chayim), no. 36. There, as opposed to Sefer
Chassidim 393, he permits saying "shehasimcha beme'ono" at a sheva
berachot even when there is mixed seating.
2) Rabbi Yechiel Michal Epstein in the Aruch haShulchan (Orach Chayim
75:7) permits saying Shema in the presence of a woman with uncovered
hair, for although she is forbidden to do thus, and although she is
technically ervah in this, this has become normal, and men are inured
to it, and he may say Shema in her presence. (Rabbi Henkin notes and
vehementally opposes the common misinterpretation, that the AH is
permitting women to go without a hair covering - rather, the AH is
saying that bedieved, men may say Shema in her presence, but she is
still forbidden to dress thusly.)

Rabbi Henkin adds a caveat: "[T]he above applies only to mingling of
men and women that is  innocent in and of itself. No degree of
frequency and familiarity can legitimize what is intrinsically or
intentionally sexually stimulating. Examples are immodest or
provocative dress, erotic performances and entertainment, and other
pitfalls too numerous to be listed".

A second caveat: "[T]here is no halachic imperative to introduce
mingling of the sexes where it does not already exist. What we have
said here is a justification of community practices, not an agenda. It
is much easier to legitimize existing practices than to justify new
ones. To do the latter, we would have to take into account the
approaches of far more acharonim than just the Yam Shel Shelomoh, the
Levush, and the Aruch haShulchan". Rabbi Henkin had indeed previously
said, "We have seen then, that there exists a trend - not a dominant
trend, but a trend - within halachic thought that in interaction
between the sexes that might ordinarily lead to hirhur, frequency and
familiarity of contact can be a mitigating factor, and that a
community can legitimately rely on this 'in using the services of, and
speaking to, and looking at, women', to use the words of the


Pirkei Avot 1:5, we are told to not have too much sicha with women,
many of the commentators say that this is speaking of davka inane or
immodest conversation, but not meaningful conversation. At the very
least, they say this of the stricture against too much sicha with
one's own wife, and since this Mishna speaks of one's own wife and a
stam women as equals, and one's fellow's wife as kal vachomer, then
any heterim on one's wife ought to apply to a stam woman, and even to
one's fellow's wife (because of dayyo). Thus, it should seem that
based on this, if one is sure to limit his conversation to meaningful
matters, then social intercourse between the sexes is less
problematic. In particular, Rav Hirsch in his perush to Avot makes a
large point of the fact that sicha is davka inane conversation. And he
never limits this to only one's wife; one can only assume that Rav
Hirsch applies this to the entire Mishna. It is thus interesting that
Rabbi Henkin in a footnote says, "Mixing of the sexes at weddings,
social gatherings, and even Torah lectures was also characteristic of
the strictly Orthodox Germanic-Dutch communities".

As an aside (i.e. without any relevance to the topic at hand, but
similar because Rav Hirsch makes an okimta similar to what he did
above - hey, if the Gemara links two unrelated statements only because
the same rabbi said both, then so can I), Rav Hirsch to Avot 3:4 says
that divrei Torah doesn't
mean davka Torah per se, but rather anything (ANYTHING, even something
totally secular) that contributes to a Torah-type lifestyle of
goodness and modesty and honesty, etc. The parallel to Torah im Derech
Eretz is obvious: just as Rav Hirsch makes a large point of stressing
that secular life and matters and learning are elevated to Torah when
they infused with and directed based on Torah, so too he says that
secular conversations become Torah when they are regarding a life that
is conducted along Torah lines. In other words: secular conversations
regarding a Torah im Derech Eretz lifestyle, these conversations are
themselves divrei Torah.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 8
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 23:51:42 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Roast lamb

On Jan 22, 2008 9:30 AM, Elazar M. Teitz <remt@juno.com> wrote:

> R. Rich Wolpoe writes:
> <Roasting in a pot is not halachically roasting at all in Yorei Dei'ah
> even w/o any added water. [the meat will ooze its juices soon enough].
> Therefore I cannot fathom why it would be assur at all [even as a minhag
> or humra] on the Seder Night!  Such "zli k'edierah" is 100% not acceptable
> for Korban Pesach so what is the cheshash on Seder night?>
>     See Mishna B'rura 476:1, who answers your question. It's because of
> maris ayin, to prevent confusing it with legitimately broiled meat.
>     Obviously, those who made the takanah went to great lengths to prevent
> any chance of the eating of kodashim bachutz or the appearance thereof.
> ________

Sounds like a Gzeira on a Gziera on a minhag.  After all there WERE places
that allow Zli mamash

I see the MB's sources in Sha'ar Hatziyyun as Magen Avrahm and Sha'agas
Aryeh - yet
Chochmas Adam [for example] specifies that zli keidar is NEVER consider Zli
w/o mentioning this exception.

I'm no sure I understand the mar'is ayyin here.  Z,li Keidar does not
usually resemble zli eish, as the liquid oozes it raosts in its juices
totally different than raosting on a fire where the juices ooze into the
fire. The product does not look the same.

Any source earlier than the Magen Avraham on this?  Anyone [asidee from
Sephardim] that do not buy into this Chumra?

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 9
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 00:02:04 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Ribis and LH re: Non Jews - Crossing Threads

On Jan 16, 2008 1:21 PM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> I have problems with claiming the difference is only as a member of
> the nation. A Jew on a desert island, and thus out of contact with all
> other people, who eats treif in total privacy, would still have to
> bring a chatas. A non-Jew who does the same would not. One can argue
> that he is still mystically connected to the Jewish masses, but that's
> far from anything R' Leibowitz would have said.
> And so, I would disagree on two points:
> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha
You are conflating bein adam lamakom to bein adam lachaviero

"Robinson Caruso" would  have  few isseus of bein adam lachaveiro but still
be obligatd to do bein adam lamakom

But the ikkar Torah is in a community.  Bedi'avad of course one does what he
can on a desert island

More later BEH.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 10
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 00:09:43 -0500
[Avodah] Cave or Desert Island?

it seems to me taht the best result for self-perfction is to be a hermit in
a cave of Sedert Island
No issue of LH ribbis ,etc. No hemda, et.c no issue of bein adam lahaveira
to worry about at all
Plus one can spend Gazillions of hours in studying Mussar and achieve
monumental levels of self-perfection?
Why didn't HKBH stick with Moshe at the Sneh? Why bother with a nation at
har Sinai?  Hkbh could have worked on perfection Moshe as an indvidual Guru
of mamoth proportions w/o having to worry about the oligistics of a mation
[navol tibol indeed!]
Why bother with masses - filled with temptations to speak LH  [Miriam - kal
vachomer US!]
Hashme should have given the Torah to saintly individuals - He SHOULD have
revealed to a guru lhavdil like th Buddha or MOhammed - some individual wh
ocoud be a role model  Why bother with peoplehood at all!

For example, if a Jew is in a cave - would he bet tempte like Korach to be
jealous of a Kohein Gadol? Of course not!  There is no jealousy when the
Torah is applied in total isolation! NO competition, no kin'ah!

It's pil'ei P'lai'im that HKBH did not introduce Torah the way other
religiions were introduced, viz. privately to gurus. Hmmm

[And they say sarcasm does NOT work in cyberspace. Let's see!]
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 11
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 00:15:17 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Oshiro laShem ki gaw'o gaw'aw....

On Jan 21, 2008 6:47 PM, Richard Wolberg <cantorrichard@cox.net> wrote:

> "Oshiroh laShem ki gaw'o gaw'aw..."  "I will sing unto the Lord for He is
> highly exalted..."  The numerical value of these two words (9+9) total 18,
> alluding to our praising God daily with (the original) 18 b'rochos in the
> "amidah." (Rabbeinu Menachem)
> Also, gaw'o gaw'aw (highly exalted) is *Chai,* life, in its purest form.
Note: While the Bavli calism that birkas haminnim caused teh Amidah to morph
into 19
Minhag EY maintained 18 brachos throughout, hence the name sh'moneh esrai
was STILL literally true on weekdays until??? [1000 CE maybe]

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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