Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 74

Fri, 15 Feb 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 11:01:44 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Does God Change His Mind?

> > Michael Makovi wrote:
> > I guess because we've found many other Chazalic
> > Maaseh Merkavah works (the Hekhalot), and Shiur Koma > >
> > fits in with these texts perfectly, and there's no basis for >
> > > doubting its authenticity, AFAIK.

> R' David Riceman wrote:
> This is not true.  As far as I know Shiur Koma is the only
> merkava text which purports to describe God rather than a > lesser creature.

> Furthermore it misses the main point.  It is true that there
> was a group of Merkava mystics in EY at some point.
> Their relationship with Hazal is (as far as I know) unknown. > For
> example, Shiur Koma purports to have been written by > R. Yishmael
> (R. Akiva's bar plugta, not his grandfather the > mystic).  I
> sincerely doubt that you will find any scholar
> who accepts this.

You'll also be hard-pressed to find a scholar who accepts that Daniel
was not written in the Hashmonean era. I mean only that this defense
cuts both ways. If you try to appeal to disputed authorship of an
apocryphal(-like) mystical work, you've exposed yourself.

In any case, I haven't yet found a scholar who can seriously
distinguish between Daniel on the other hand, and the other
apocryphal/apocalyptic works on the other, without simply resorting to
mesorah. We've got mesorah that Daniel is kosher and the other works
are not, and otherwise, the two are difficult to distinguish. See the
introduction to the Soncino Daniel, first edition. True, there are
differences, but they are very small - Daniel is less concerned with
pure unadulterated gross eschatology, and is on a higher
literary/textual level. The Soncino Daniel basically says, the problem
is intractible, and the only solution is to wait for Daniel to be
fulfilled and all the questions will be answered.

> If I understand the Rambam's position, he doesn't doubt
> that Shiur Koma was written during the times of Hazal, he > doubts
> it was written by someone mentioned in Talmud or > Midrash, someone
> we would recognize as one of Hazal.

But this only brings us to the question of who qualifies as Chazal
and/or Chazal-ic teaching. Chazal naturally cut a wide swath, after
all. I'll elaborate on this after the following paragraph.

I suspect that much of the Chazalic Merkava mysticism's nature would
surprise Rambam had he seen it. Rambam was surrounded by a
rationalistic Aristotelian environment, and AFAIK he took this
learning (e.g. tone down anthropormorphisms) for granted. Had he seen
Kabbalah, I would bet he would be astounded and have a very very
difficult time confronting it. I wouldn't be surprised then if Shiur
Koma and other Merkava works alike would provoke a similar reaction
from him, even if the former is treif and the latter kosher - I'm not
sure how well he'd be able to tell a difference. It's like my trying
to tell a kosher Hindu (from the Hindu perspective) document from a
treif Hindu document - what do I know about Hinduism?, and it'll all
look the same to me.

Prof. Urbach's Chazal/The Sages shows that some of our rabbis had
positions on eschatology not so far from the Apocalyptic view. Now, to
be sure, there are differences. But it's not black and white.

I have not seen anyone else who confronts these in the manner Urbach
does, and so I am forced to rely on what he says. The similarities are
undeniable, so I cannot simply brush them aside; one way or another,
one needs to have an answer to all this. If anyone knows of someone
who seriously confronted these, with full knowledge of their nature
(no apologetics from someone with no expertise), I'd be overjoyed to
hear it.

From what I understand (which is very little), Shiur Koma is close
enough to the other Heikhalot, that it cannot be rejected as easily as
say, an apocryphal work that espouses original sin (Enoch). It's in
the grey area, that one could declare treif, but just as well declare
kosher. It's not obviously within black or white, from what I

(I know preciously little about these matters. Anyone who knows more,
PLEASE chime in.)

It could very well be that any similarities (which DO exist) between
Chazal and the Apocalypses are evidence that the minim did have some
truth, that they inherited from mesorah; they weren't totally wrong -
surely they did receive some authentic Jewish knowledge; they weren't
totally wrong. After all, even if the Apocalypses and the Merkava have
many similarities, the fact remains that Chazal polemicized against
the minim, so it cannot be that the similarity automatically shows
fellowship. But exactly who wrote what, and what their legitimacy was,
is unclear. For example, some say the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea
Scrolls (filled with things like the war between the Sons of Light and
the Sons of Darkness; sound familiar?), but others say the Dead Sea
Scrolls were simply a geniza from some library in Jerusalem, and the
owner could have been anyone, Pharisee, Sadducee, etc.

Still, the situation is far from pashut. More than this, I really do not know.

Anyone who knows more, please. If anyone can't tell, this is an issue
that has been...troubling me.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 2
From: "Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 23:26:45 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Kabbalah's Legitimacy

On Thu, February 14, 2008 6:18 pm, Michael Makovi wrote:

I don't know why no one else responded to you, but I would find it
difficult to reply to someone who states "*I* disagree" with the Rambam,
RSRH et al.


> So with Shiur Koma, I disagree with Rambam on the authenticity of the
> work (just as I disagree with Rav Hirsch on the interpretation of the
> intent of the Zohar), but agree with him that the ideas contained
> therein are...troubling (just as I agree with Rav Hirsch that the
> ideas of the literal p'shat of the Zohar are out of place in Judaism).
> On http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol25/v25n010.shtml#10, I asked for
> anyone to PLEASE weigh in on what I say. No one replied. So I'll ask
> again. Thank you.
> Mikha'el Makovi
> _______________________________________________
> Avodah mailing list
> Avodah@lists.aishdas.org
> http://lists.aishdas.org/listinfo.cgi/avodah-aishdas.org

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Message: 3
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 03:56:50 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Hot Cheese for Shabbat Lunch

R"n Toby Katz wrote:
> However I want to make a different point.  There is an issue
> of kovod Shabbos.  Unless you are a vegetarian and /never/
> eat fleishigs, it shows a lack of kovod Shabbos to eat
> milchigs for Shabbos lunch.

Not to my way of thinking. Kavod is not about ingredients, it is about
style. One chooses his/her Shabbos clothing based on how it looks, not on
whether it is wool or polyester.

On the other hand, if one is sensitive to the look of wool and the look of
polyester, then such a person would legitmately consider one to be more
kavodik than the other. So too for food: If one appreciates meat more than
cheese, then of course he/she would consider meat more kavodik than cheese.

But ultimately, kavod Shabbos (as I see it) rests much more upon the
elaborateness of the meal (which does *not* have to equate to the quantity
of the food), than upon the ingredients used. RTK might even admit to this
idea, if only grudgingly and only partially:

> /Maybe/  you could get away with something very chashuv --
> salmon and brie? -- but really it should be basar vedagim
> vechol mat'amim.

Sources, please? (Other posters have already pointed out that we don't pasken from zemiros.)

> I say this as a person who prefers milchigs ... But never
> would we have had a milchig meal on Shabbos ... It would
> have been considered distinctly not-Shabbosdig, like
> wearing a T-shirt and denim. We could easily go a whole
> week without eating fleishigs, but Shabbos meals must be
> fleishig.

I have absolutely no problem with a family who decides for themselves that
this is the sort of Shabbos that they like to have. But let's not fall into
the trap which Adam and Chava fell into, of confusing the actual law and
the personal choice. In the case at hand, let's make sure we understand
what is the actual law, and what is the personal choice. As far as I know,
the Kavod Shabbos does demand that our food and clothing be better than
during the week, but there is no objective definition of this -- it all
depends on the circumstances. A t-shirt could be very Shabbosdik for a
person who normally wears a totally sleeveless undershirt. I see nothing
about a piece of boiled chicken which makes it intrinsically more
Shabbosdik than some blintzes or (on Yom Tov) a fresh matza brei.

I know a family where they have the exact same food every single shabbos.
The same recipe for the soup. The same style of chicken. The same side
dishes every week for decades. It's not my style, but it is what *they*
like to do, and for *them* it is VERY Shabbosdik. Sort of like a security
blanket, perhaps. Once you've been doing something long enough, it feels
un-Shabbosdik to change it. Perhaps this is what RTK meant by saying that
she prefers dairy, but insists on meat for Shabbos. If an individual wants
to define Kavod Shabbos that way for him/herself, that is fine. But don't
confuse subjective preferences with objective definitions.

> We were once guests of people who served milchigs for a yom tov
> lunch (not Shavuos) -- much to our surprise.  I would have been
> much too shy to say anything, but my husband asked the hostess
> if she had a piece of cold chicken in the fridge or something
> else fleishig he could eat. Ever since then when we get invited
> out for a meal, my husband always tells me to make sure they're
> serving fleishigs.

The exact opposite happened to us. We went to friends for a three-day yom
tov (Shabbos, Sunday, Monday), and were going crazy with the monotony of
the same meat over and over. So for lunch on the last day, despite Mr.
Host's preference for meat yet again, my wife and Mrs. Host insisted on
preparing a very nice dairy meal. And ever since then, she checks with the
hostess before we go away for yom tov. (At home, we usually have milchig
for the second night of yom tov, except at the seder of course, when we
move it to lunch.)

Akiva Miller
Bolster your sales numbers with professional sales training. Click here!

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Message: 4
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 23:45:49 EST
Re: [Avodah] Hot Cheese for Shabbat Lunch

In a message dated 2/14/2008, Avram.Sacks@wolterskluwer.com writes:

You wrote:   ?it shows a lack of  kovod Shabbos to eat milchigs for Shabbos 
>>But what is  the halachic standard for ?kavod shabbos??  Is meat?any kind 
of meat?the  standard? .... I would be surprised if you could anywhere in the 
Shulchan  Arukh where it says that only roast chicken and/or brisket can bring 
kavod to  the Shabbat table. ....Also, is it kavod-dik  to stuff yourself 
with chicken and brisket, when all that your body  needs/wants is a piece of 
gefillte fish and challah?   

The standard is basar vedagim.  If there is not some kind of fish AND  some 
kind of meat, your Shabbos meal is lacking.  The fish can be herring  from a 
jar, or tuna salad, though the gold standard is gefilte fish.  The  meat at 
lunch can be cold chicken (thanks to Chazal who were kind enough to  make chicken 
fleishig, for this very purpose).  Or the meat can be cold  cuts.  The gold 
standard is cholent.  The hot food shows that you are  not a Sadducee or a 
Because I am a milchig kind of person and not always so very hungry at  
Shabbos lunch, I sometimes fudge and just eat the gefilte fish and challa, not  
actually eating any meat but telling myself that I was yotzei because I at least  
put meat on the table (cold cuts, even) and my husband and kids had meat.   I 
also fudge with the cholent because in the Florida climate I don't always 
feel  like making cholent, so I tell myself that a cup of hot tea after lunch is 
also  proof we are not Tzadokim.  Also there is often cholent in shul, if 
there's  a kiddush.
It is interesting to me how the milchig - vs - fleishig Shabbos meal is  
another one of those sociological things that fall along a LW-RW Orthodox  divide. 
 An entire list of such items would make for an interesting PhD  thesis.  The 
general tendency (although there are many exceptions on both  sides of the 
"divide") is for RW Orthodoxy to be more formal, LW more  informal.

--Toby  Katz

**************The year's hottest artists on the red carpet at the Grammy 
Awards. Go to AOL Music.      
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Message: 5
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 01:12:44 -0500 (EST)
[Avodah] Hot Cheese for Shabbat Lunch

> On Wed, February 13, 2008 3:54 pm, R Jonathan Baker wrote:

> : A friend mentioned that they do mac & cheese for Shabbat lunch.  With
> : the stipulation that one may reheat (I know many don't) dry food, is
> : mac-and-cheese considered dry or wet for reheating purposes?  Pointers
> : to sources?  If it's reasonable, we may try it.
> A more common example that I think would parallel the bishul issue...
> Would you reheat chicken in a pan which also contains the congealed
> chicken fat, or does the fact that it will melt when reheated make it
> a daver lach?
> The MB and Shemiras Shabbos keHilkhasah prohibit.

Ah, but is it parallel?  And what's the reasoning for the MB and SSK?
And where?  I'm looking at SSK 1:17 (with note 58) and he doesn't allow
reheating from the fridge at all.

IIRC, lachluchis and shamnunis are not identical.  And incidental
lachluchis, at least according to the Aish.edu website, is not a 
problem - so I imagine if you don't reheat the chicken in the juice/fat,
any incidental drops that fall off are considered part of the solid

> Another question would be the definition of liquid. Is the melted
> cheese lach even once melted? There seems to be two definitions
> Here one might be able to distinguish between mac and cheese and
> chicken fat. Melted cheese is gooey, not wet to the touch. And some

is something gooshy a davar goosh?

> cheeses won't simply fall off the noodles. Think of mozzarella making
> strings to your fork...

Debbie remembers eating pareve quiches on shabbos at other peoples'
houses, and there the lachluchis from the egg or the vegetables is
more clearly present.
> Last, I leave as an exercise to the reader exactly how much you have
> to enjoy mac-n-cheese more than fleishig to overrule ein simchah ela
> bebasar.

I dunno, sometimes one gets tired of meat.  Isn't that part of the lesson
of the slav?  That getting doctrinaire about meat when it's not necessary
is not good?  God gives us slav until it's coming out our ears - clearly
one can get tired of meat.  We have a set of Shabbos recipes, and some-
times, after 17 years, you want a bit of a change.

And that's aside from special diets, such as the gout diet, which avoids
meat and many fish.  During the gout diet, over a summer, we ate a lot
of dairy salads for Shabbos lunch, so that big salads with some kind of
protein, be it cheese or meat or fish, became our standard Shabbos lunch
in the summer.
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
> Liron Kopinsky wrote:
> > It would obviously count as Mat'amim, but the zemir says "Basar, 
> > v'Dagim" first.
> And the other zemer says "taanugim" before "barburim, slav", and
> only after that "dagim".  And yet another one puts "lechem" before
> "yayin tov", and "basar" before "dagim".  Indeed, even the one you
> cite puts "basar" before "dagim"!  What a dilemma this presents us
> with!  Fortunately the zemiros have not been added to the sources of
> halacha, and "ein mukdam um'uchar" in poetry.

OTOH, RYBS does talk about using piyutim as halachic sources.  The
yotzer for Shabbat Hagadol expresses at least one opinion which is at
odds with current practice; it's been a long time since I looked at
it, so I don't remember what it was, but RRW could probably tell you.
And IIRC Atah Conanta vs. Amitz Coach exhibit divergent traditions about
Temple practice.  But zmiros seem a lot more random, like Lehrer's "The
Elements" or the Animaniacs' song about the 50 States, grouping things
for rhyme or rhythm.

When I noted there was not much constructive advice here, Debbie's 
response: That's because they're all MEN!

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: jjbaker@panix.com     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com

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Message: 6
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 01:39:54 EST
Re: [Avodah] Hot Cheese for Shabbat Lunch

>>my husband asked the hostess if she had a piece of cold   chicken in 
the fridge or something else fleishig he could  eat.<<

A couple of people wrote me off list to ask why it was OK to embarrass  our 
hosts or to say that asking the hostess for something not on the  menu is rude. 
 Obviously my husband felt comfortable enough with  our friends that it 
wasn't an issue.  They were (are) knowledgeable  people who weren't surprised.  
They know halacha and they know my  husband!  It wouldn't be appropriate with 
everybody or in every  circumstance to speak up but sometimes it is.

--Toby  Katz

**************The year's hottest artists on the red carpet at the Grammy 
Awards. Go to AOL Music.      
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Message: 7
From: "Jesse Abelman" <jesseabe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 00:34:16 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Simchah and Oneg

    Why do you say that Simcha "has a codified non-subjective definition?"
Shaagat Aryeh (I think around siman 65, though I'm not sure about that) has
an interesting discussion of exactly what the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov is,
specifically in the context of a refutation of the contention of Tosfot
(Moed Katan 13b) that the mitzvah of simcha, post-Mikdash, is d'rabanan.  It
is a long piece, and not entirely compelling for a few reasons, but one of
his conclusions is that the mitzvah is essentially subjective, that whatever
it is that makes you feel happy is what you should do on Yom Tov.  Though
oneg is a different mitzvah, I'm curious why you suggest that subjectivity
is the distinction.   Thanks,

                            Jesse A.

On Thu, Feb 14, 2008 at 7:02 PM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Wed, February 13, 2008 5:17 pm, R Zev Sero wrote:
> : There's no mitzvah of simcha on Shabbos.  There's only oneg, and it
> : seems obvious that that depends entirely on ones subjective tastes,
> : including transient moods....
> Thanks for pointing out to me, yet again, the distinction.
> Mentally, I define the two identically, which is why (I guess) I
> confuse them. Simchah is related to wanting and having, because it is
> possible to be "sameiach bechelqo". "Oneg" is related to wanting and
> having, as the Tanya talks about the process of getting from ratzon to
> taanug. (Processes, belashon rabim: ratzon and taanug exist in Nara"n,
> or perhaps all the aspects of the soul, Nara"n cha"i. Unfortunately, I
> forgot where it is discussed, and Google was of no help. Remedial
> Chabad courses that don't clutter the discussion with m"m dominated
> the search results.)
> What does it say about simchah, that it has a codified non-subjective
> definition, whereas oneg does not? Does it imply anything about
> simchah as a midah?
> I ask because I wrote about sameiach bechelqo on Aspaqlaria yesterday
> <>. My suggestion was that "chelqo" isn't one's state at any point in
> time, but one's trip. It's a thought that makes it easier for me to
> cope with nisyonos, the pekelach everyone has in their lives.
> But in light of RZS's post, I notice my notion also implies a possible
> distinction to oneg, which could be about current state. And that
> would mean simchah requires more indoctrination than oneg; which would
> justify defining matbei'os by which to learn it.
> SheTir'u baTov!
> -micha
> --
> Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
> micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
> http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
> Fax: (270) 514-1507
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Message: 8
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 21:15:24 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Clever collector

R' Mordechai Cohen:
> why isn't this plain geneivah?
> if it is true that the exasperated gvir wrote a check that he never 
> intended would be cashed, how can you use it a kuntz to extract money 
> from his acnt?

Because he wrote an actionable document. I don't think his intent counts
here; the CM gurus on list have to answer this one, though. 
I realized after I posted the question (which I'm sure is untrue - I
posted for the theoretical value) that part of the story doesn't make
sense, because in my experience anyone can call a bank, say they have a
check on so-and-so's account #xxxxxxxxxxx, and the bank will tell them
if it will clear. So we have to modify the question that they did call,
and the bank said it wouldn't clear, and they deposited money until the
bank said that it would now clear.


Is this an anan sahadei that someone who writes a check for more than
the current balance intends it to bounce?  Who says it will be deposited
right away?

Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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Message: 9
From: "Shayna Livia Korb" <shayna.korb@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 10:09:43 -0800
[Avodah] kashering chumras

I helped a friend and a member of my community kasher his new kitchen last
night, and was witness to the most interesting set of chumras (described
below). I'm wondering if people know there's if there's a textual basis to
these, or what . My friend is from Denmark and was clear that he and his
family weren't the only ones to kasher exactly like this. He looked for a
site online to show me, but the Danish Jewish community is so small that
little is online. Because this was all so interesting, and slightly
alarming, (are you yeshivish when you hear of  a chumra that you think
"maybe i should be doing that") I checked online and the way I was taught to
kasher things - by my mother, grandmother and seminary, is basically a mix
between Star-K and OU's advice, with a few chumras.

So - hagalah - my friend heats up a piece of metal, and would put that in
boiling water, causing a pot to overflow. So far, so good - we do the same
thing with rocks, I figure metal comes from the earth, so it must be some
kind of specific minhag.

But then - when kashering things by pouring water over them - like a metal
sink (ask your halachic authority, some people say you have to fill up the
sink) my friend pours the boiling water over the metal piece, then onto the
thing being kashered.

So he concluded - which is really good internal logic - that kashering means
that you make something as hot as it would ever be, and then a little more -
so the hottest stuff would ever be in your kitchen is boiling, and then you
make it a little more with the metal. Because of this conclusion, at the end
of kashering his oven, he throws a match in. Maximum temperature it can go,
plus a little more.

Would love comments or sources.

Shayna Korb
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