Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 116

Mon, 31 Mar 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 11:13:18 -0400
Re: [Avodah] What is a saris?

Micha Berger wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 09:45:05AM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
> : Saris definitely means eunuch; when Yeshaya says "ve'al yomar hasaris
> : hen ani etz yavesh", he doesn't mean "royal servant"...
> : As for Haman, if saris is meant literally, perhaps he was castrated for
> : the sake of his career after he had his children.
> What about "Potiphar saris Par'oh" (Bereishis 39:1)? Or is that why
> eishes Potiphar was looking for men elsewhere?

See Rashi Bereshit 41:45 (but see Ramban there).

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                                                  - Clarence Thomas

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Message: 2
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 10:50:57 -0400
[Avodah] Bedikas Chametz with Electric Light

We have discussed here in the past the question of performing bedikas
chametz with a flashlight, vis-a-vis ner/avukah.

My question is, do our houses simply have a din of achsadra?  The Darkei
Moshe (OC 473:2) brings the Mordechai who is mashma that a room with a lot
of light has a din of an achsadra.  Even according to the BY, MA, Taz, GRA,
etc. who say that the din of "Achsadra L'orah Nivdekes" is b'dieved, and
that l'chatchila you are chayav to check on leil 14, that should not be a
problem - unlike an achsadra, a room with electric light can be checked
"l'orah" at night!

As to any general objections to using electric light, I see no difference
between it and solar light.  The limud from the pasuk that some understand
to require ner davka and not other methods of checking would exclude solar
light just as much as electric, and the precedent of achsadra refutes this

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Message: 3
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 14:00:28 +0300
Re: [Avodah] What is a saris?

> My shocking statement that led to all this was that when the Megillah says
> sarisei hamelech, it means eunuchs, and not just servants.
> Any comments on my translation of saris as eunuch?  Am I crazy, or are all
> the people who are surprised by my translation crazy?
> KT,
> Michael

It says Memuhan was one of the sarei (shin-resh-yud), not a saris
(sin-resh-yud-samech) (1:14). He was a prince, not a servant/eunuch.
If Haman = Memuhan = sar (shin-resh), no problem saying saris = eunuch
not servant.

Anyway, b'li safek those in charge of the harem were davka eunuchs -
you want someone trustworthy around women permitted only to the king.
2:3 speaks of Heigeh the saris ha-melech shomer ha-nashim.

As for the rest of the king's servants (i.e. his servants who served
elsewhere besides the harem, eg. messengers and cooks and waiters,
etc.),  I would ask an expert in Persian history. How about R' Yaakov
Elman at YU (I have his email)? I figure he knows the Megilla somewhat
well (I'm being facetious), and I know he knows Persian history.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 11:52:01 -0400
Re: [Avodah] What is a saris?

Michael Kopinsky wrote:

> Do we see that the term eunuch or saris was extended to refer to a 
> fertile, procreative royal servant?  According to Wikipedia[1], "by Late 
> Antiquity the term "eunuch" had come to be applied not only to castrated 
> men, but also to a wide range of men with comparable behavior, who had 
> "chosen to withdraw from worldly activities and thus refused to 
> procreate."  However, I see no indication that men who did procreate 
> were still called eunuchs.

In any case, that refers specifically to Byzantine Christian usage,
as explicitly opposed to pagan usage.

Zev Sero               Something has gone seriously awry with this Court's
zev@sero.name          interpretation of the Constitution.
                                                  - Clarence Thomas

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Message: 5
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 19:51:41 +0300
[Avodah] driving on shabbat

Even if they have heard of the concept of not driving on Shabbos
doesn't mean they assume that  Yidden are forbidden to do so; they
assume it's a personal chumra of a select few. >>

reminds of a story from our local LOR in Raanana.

RSZA paskens that if a car stops you on shabbat to ask directions
you should remind him its shabbat and then give him directions to limit
his chillul shabbat.

Our rabbi decided to try it out. Instead of ignoring the request as he
usually does he answered the first driver that asked him that it was
shabbat. Before he had a chance to continue and give directions the
driver said "sorry" and sped off.

In any case it is common for drivers on shabbat to stop someone with a
kippah and ask for directions. They dont even think about it

Eli Turkel

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Message: 6
From: "Danny Schoemann" <doniels@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 21:37:32 +0300
[Avodah] Subject: What is a saris?

The Torah Shleimah Megilas Esther brings the [Medrash] Esther Rabbo.

On the pasuk1:10 regarding the 7 Sorisim:Royalty never has fewer than
7 Sorisim serving the king. (Esther Rabbo 3:12)

On the pasuk 2:3 HayGay Saris Hamelech: Mochui (Saris) Hoyo. (Esther Rabbo 5:3)

- Danny

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Message: 7
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 15:59:17 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Subject: What is a saris?

On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 2:37 PM, Danny Schoemann <doniels@gmail.com> wrote:

> The Torah Shleimah Megilas Esther brings the [Medrash] Esther Rabbo.
> On the pasuk1:10 regarding the 7 Sorisim:Royalty never has fewer than
> 7 Sorisim serving the king. (Esther Rabbo 3:12)

I'm not sure what you're trying to infer from this medrash.  (Or if you
are.)  No one has disputed that these sarisim were servants.  The lashon of
sarisei hamelech makes no sense otherwise.  The only question is, were those
servants of the eunuch variety or of the fertile variety.

On the pasuk 2:3 HayGay Saris Hamelech: Mochui (Saris) Hoyo. (Esther Rabbo
> 5:3)

Can we be mashma from here that only the saris shomer hanashim was a eunuch
and not the other sarisim?  I don't know.

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 17:29:22 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Tiqun Olam

On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 07:31:26PM +0200, Michael Makovi wrote:
: Assuming I understand what you mean between idiomatically and
: literally non-idiomatically, I don't see how she'd mean the idiom -
: she specifically says she's taking it as p'shat, not according to its
: popular Kabbalistic meaning. Tikkun olam means "repairing the world".

If "tiqun olam" as an idiom is only used qabbalistically, then other
references to how one repairs the world, especially if they don't
particularly phrase it in terms of "repair", don't belong in a Wikipedia
(or any encyclopedia) article about "tiqun olam". Except perhaps as
contrast, not as a different variant of the idea.

For this reason I feel that the inclusion of RSRH's universalism doesn't
belong in a "tiqun olam" entry. It's shoehorning a different concept
into a paradigm in which it doesn't belong.

This is the same problem I have with your equating RSRH's position
with RAYK's on the role of the secular. They agree only in such
basic hand-waving terms that if you strip things out to that core,
only Rav Shim'on bar Yochai (and a subset of contemporary chareidim,
almost exclusively in Israel, who similarly shun leaving the cave)
would disagree.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:26:30 -0400
Re: [Avodah] RAYK and the end of chol

On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 10:59:34AM IST, Rt Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:
:> But the whole zerichas hashemesh model of geulah didn't stand up that well
:> to subsequent events. He wrote before WWII, after all.

: I'm sorry, but there is a basic misunderstanding of the model.  The model is 
: "Ayelet HaShachar" that is - at first it comes and goes.  In real life there 
: are ups and downs. There are moments of great steps toward Ge'ulah, and 
: there are moments of great falls away from Ge'ulah, into darkness.

Do you have sources from before Oslo that suggest such a thing? Because
it's certainly not the way Orot was presented to me. (Nor how R' Dovid
Cohen understood it back when I learned from him in camp, although RDC
isn't necessarily an objective authority on hashqafos with which he

I think that Yamit and Oslo posed such trouble for the DL community
specifically because it raised fundamental hashkafic issues. They defied
R' Kook's (admittedly more RZYK's) excpetations of the ge'ulah.

: The claim that it is a step ladder going one way is one I've seen, but not 
: in Rav Kook.

Well, it's in Eim haBanim Semeichah, IIRC. But I'm pretty sure this is
how RAYK's metaphor was understood until recently, when his followers
were forced into seeing something they hadn't noticed before.

:> RAYK thought that the world was in an accelerated path to the geulah.

: Not at all.  What he saw was that the a change has come over the
: world...
: Can anyone honestly say, after seeing Israel export fruit and vegetables to 
: the world, when comparing the situation here to what it was 120 years ago - 
: when it was a land of swamps and desert, that something hasn't changed?

(Tangent: Obviously, Agudists can. Anti-Zionists will agree something
changed, but they will say it's the introduction of a nisayon. But the
neutral non-Zionist can say that it's not a fundamental change.)

I fail to see the gap implied by your "not at all" between my "accelerated
path to the ge'ulah" and your "a change has come". I think you're saying
that the change came and it's not a new "straighter" (to speak what little
I know of RAYK-speak) path to the ge'ulah? Isn't that what "reeishis
tzemichas ge'ulaseinu", declaring it "atchalta dege'ulasa", means?

: Rav Kook's view of learning chol has nothing to do with Zionism.  So, please 
: don't mix the issues.

On this, I strongly disagree. Both depend heavily on RAYK's ability to
see the qodesh in everything. The Or Ein Sof that is even in the chol
(which is merely hidden qedushah, a/k/a a long curvy path).

: Rav Kook's view is based on the sentence (Zohar?) "Histakel BaTorah U'Vara 
: Alma". So, there is no knowledge of this world that exists that is outside 
: of Torah.  Therefore, there is no real "chol" as is common to think of 
: history, math, archeology, languages etc. and in Rav Kook's view one has to 
: study these topics and not just limit oneself to what he finds within the 
: pages of the Talmud.

And no real chol in the secular Zionist. Hainu hakh.

On Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 04:38:03PM IDT, R Michael Makovi wrote:
: Everything you just used to say Rav Kook was wrong, Rav Kook already
: responded to.

: Rav Kook said that his generation was idealistic and simply didn't
: know how to express it, and he was confident that soon they'd learn.
: You protest that time has proven him wrong, because rather than
: improving, subsequent generations have only gotten worse, and now that
: lack not only religiosity but even Zionism too (i.e. post-Zionism).

: But Rav Kook himself said that the future generations would throw away
: all Torah and Judaism, and be left with nothing of those, b'klal.

But not the idealism. That was the first peeking of the Or which RAYK
considered part of the seed that was sprouting.

: Without Torah, all their Zionism had no basis - a Jew removed from
: Torah is like a flower from water and soil, and while it can live for
: a while, and perhaps even appear to thrive, it will eventually die.
: Zionism without Torah has a very fleeting lifespan, before people
: start crying that the Arabs have equal rights and we have no right to
: the land and that we all ought to return to Europe since we want to be
: just like them anyway, etc.

Is this your extrapolation? As I have said before, my exposure to RAYK's
thought slight. It's actually limited to secondary sources and excerpts
(around 50-60 pages, but all for HS level) collected in a sourcebook by
the Misrad haChinukh. And the aforementioned hashkafah talked with RDC.

: Rav Hirsch says much the same as Rav Kook...
: So Ravs Kook and Hirsch say the same regarding disillusionment and
: return, except Rav Kook speaks of Jews specifically, whereas Rav
: Hirsch speaks of mankind.

Again, I see nothing (except in post-Oslo apologetics) in which RAYK
suggests disillusionment. My exposure, though, is limited, and pointing
me to a mar'eh maqom should help me clear up my confusion.

(BTW, R' Jack Love agreed with my impression of reishit tzemichat
ge'ulateinu, when I discussed this thread with him in shul. He suggested
that RZYK's yahrzeit should be really observed as the anniversary of 10
Av 5765.)

: However, I myself will say that the Holocaust has nothing to do
: anything here: Rav Kook is referring to the loss and regain of
: idealism and Torah by the Jewish people, and the Holocaust is an
: external event not caused by the Jews. Any objection has to be that
: the Jews are not returning to Torah as Rav Kook thought they would,
: not that the Nazis didn't behave according to what Rav Kook said the
: Jews would do.

You mean, like when intermarriage outpaces kiruv by 40:1, even factoring
in Israel?

: We still have Yafetic culture today - take a glance at Israel. What we
: need to do is Judaize it. I think Rav Berkovits is a good example of
: taking TIDE and transplanting it to Israel.

I'll reply to this after your clarification reaches a digest. I do not
read most posts for content until I can print the digest up for the
ride home.

Shetir'u baTov,

Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 17:12:07 -0400
[Avodah] R' Aryeh Kaplan's methodology

On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:57:49PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
: That is a problem - since despite R' Kaplan's greatness in Torah and 
: kiruv - I often find little correlation between what he writes as a 
: summary at the top of the page and the copious notes at the bottom of 
: the page. Also here what is clearly stated at the top seems to 
: contradict the notes on the bottom. For example note 140.

The problem is that RAK extrapolates from his sources, and then footnotes
the sources, not his process of extrapolation. Don't take a footnote
to mean the idea is there, but rather that the idea into the footnote
helped him reach the conclusion. Even if it is to ultimately reject that
maqor in favor of implications drawn from others.

His handbook needs a TSBP added to it. Unfortunately, RAK is no longer
here to provide it.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Rescue me from the desire to win every
micha@aishdas.org        argument and to always be right.
http://www.aishdas.org              - Rav Nassan of Breslav
Fax: (270) 514-1507                   Likutei Tefilos 94:964

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:33:50 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Niskatnu haDoros

On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 05:19:48AM -0400, Rich, Joel wrote:
:> If someone tries to reopen questions because they consider the
:> codification an ossification that runs against the health of halakhah,
:> they have to start by restoring the Jews who were capable of playing
:> with those higher stakes, of being the giants on whose shoulders we
:> stand.
:> And, to look at the same thing from a very different angle...
:>                           we would call that a BG gadol mimenu
:> bechokhmah uveminyan.

: Why is this "start" a requirement? Assumedly to "undo" the start of
: codification, but philosophically I've always wondered why we didn't say
: we'll follow the rules and let the chips fall where they may (i.e.
: yiftach bdoro vs. declaring a need for a change due to yiftach)

Because one rule is that bit in Edios 1 about precedent being binding
until one finds a BD gadol mimenu bechokhmah uveminyan. Therefore, as
chokhmah is lost, codified halakhah will increase. If someone refuses
to collect it in one place, they won't prevent ossification, they will
just cause more loss, and more chumros to be safe would ensue.

The rishonim, having not been through the crisis, are greater in chokhnmah
(with perhaps a handful of exceptions). It's not the SA that cauysed the
change in era, it was the qualitative loss in chokhmah and mesiras
nefesh (reishis chokhmah yir'as Hashem) that forced the writing of the
SA to prevent even more from being lost.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 12
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:46:02 -0400
Re: [Avodah] R' Angel & Geirus Redux

On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:06:59PM -0400, Meir Shinnar wrote:
: >  The Rambam and SA both list the criterion of not excluding a single
: >  din. How then can one not require the enterprise of dinim? If someone
: >  saw R' Uziel or R' Goren inside, I would appreciate explanation.

: I don't have sources in front of me, and it has been a while.
: However, as I previously said, the notion of kabbalat ol mitzvot as
: being central in the giyur process is not universal ...

This just begs my question. Given the gemara's requirement for QOM,
which the Yad and SA both take to mean that even rejecting the authority
of a single din (as opposed to rejecting a pesaq) would invalidate a
geir, what's the sevara for saying otherwise? What's the source?

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:43:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Parshas Parah

On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 02:37:05PM +0200, Michael Makovi wrote:
: What I'm curious about: It says of Parshat Parah "zocher", and the
: Gemara says that zocher means read it from a Sefer Torah.
: But if so, we have five other zochers in the Torah (see your Artscroll
: siddur after Shacharit - page 176f in the Nusach Ashkenaz), but in
: only two of the six zochers do we read anything from a Sefer Torah.

As RMM notes, neither of the first two are necessarily a problem:
: 1) L'ma'an tizcor et yom tzeitecha mei-eretz mitzrayim col yemei
: chayeicha - Dev 16:3
: We say this in Shema, but we do not read it from a scroll.

This isn't a chiyuv, it's the ta'am hamitzvah for a chiyuv. "Lema'an".

: 2) Rak hishamer lecha ushmor nafshecha me'od pen tishkach et hadevarim
: asher ra'u einecha... (i.e. the revelation at Sinai) - Dev 4:9-10
: We do nothing.

This is a lav, so the lack of chiyuv is no shocker.

: 6) Zachor et yom shabbat l'kadsho - Shemot 20:8
: We do nothing.

This is incorrect. We have a chiyuv; to prepare all week for Shabbos.

Which raises the question:
Why ask the question from parashas Zakhor to the others? Why not ask
from "zakhor es Yom haShabbos"? So why not learn that we have a chiyuv
to prepare for milkhemes Amaleiq from its "zachor"?

Or perhaps that's what parashas Zakhor and maybe Parah are? The only way
we can prepare for those mitzvos at this time is to study them. After
all, women are me'iqar hadin not mechuyavos to hear parashas Zakhor
because they aren't obligated to go to war.

Which then leaves only Miriam and parah adumah according to the rov who
do not consider Parashas Parah to be de'oraisa, to be the questions.

Perhaps there is something simple -- "zakhor" alone doesn't imply a
chiyuv. It's a TSBP thing.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 14
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:53:29 -0400
Re: [Avodah] R' Angel & Geirus Redux

On Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 11:36:56PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
: Let me add a few more sources  that  clearly indicate the uneducated 
: masses  bear guilt for sinning...

I fail to see two of them.

: *Igros Moshe (**Orech Chaim 4:91.6): ...
:                                                      Even though they 
: are inadvertent heretics and are like tinok shenishba (captive children 
: amongst non-Jews) because they have been raised that way by their 
: parents and  their surroundings. They therefore aren't punished by 
: Heaven and they aren't punished by being lowered into a pit...
:                                            Nevertheless they are 
: heretics and it is necessary to stay away from them as is stated in 
: Avoda Zara (17a)....

It sounds to me that they are heretics, but bear no guilt. Otherwise,
you're suggesting that RMF holds it's possible for someone to bear guilt
that beis din shel ma'alah doesn't punish for.

: *Binyan Tzion - New (#23): This is a theoretical halachic view which is 
: not meant to be for actual practice??? ...
: Furthermore their children who come after them - who have never known or 
: even heard about the laws of Shabbos - are identical  to the Tzadokim 
: who are not considered heretics even though they profane Shabbos because 
: they are simple imitating the actions of their parents [and not because 
: they are willfully transgressing Shabbos]. Thus they are considered like 
: tinok shenishba...
:         ???It is also possible that even concerning the Tzadokim who do 
: not normally live amongst Jews and therefore don???t know the basic 
: aspects of the religion and are not disrespectful against the rabbis of 
: the generation ??? are also not considered as violating the laws 
: deliberately.??? Many of the sinners  of the present generation are 
: similar to them and are even better than them....
:                                                            Consequently 
: in my humble opinion those who wish to treat the touching of wine by 
: these modern sinners as prohibited stam wine  - they should be blessed. 

This too implies altered halachic status without guilt attached.

: *Yabiya Omer(3:21):...
: Therefore it is certain that after they have been warned and cautioned 
: regarding religious observance they are considered as deliberately 
: transgressing the Torah....

Here he clearly does imply guilt for anyone who got hasra'ah.

I wonder, though, what ROY does with the notion that people neither no
how to give or how to receive tochakhah.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Spirituality is like a bird: if you tighten
micha@aishdas.org        your grip on it, it chokes; slacken your grip,
http://www.aishdas.org   and it flies away.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter


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