Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 165

Sun, 04 May 2008

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 18:41:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Hilchos Sefirah

On Thu, May 01, 2008 at 09:56:48PM +0000, kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
: From what I've heard, yes, most definitely. From what I've gathered over
: the years, there are several things in this category, and what they all
: have in ccommon is that they are not prayers. They are declarations. A
: prayer is best when one understands what he is saying, but he is yotzay
: even if he doesn't. But a declaration is meaningless unless he understands
: what he is saying.

Avakesh is currently exploring this topic on his blog.

See "Saying Shema in Other Languages"
and "Where Does Speech Take Place" (mind or mouth, and if in the mind,
what does that mean WRT using other languages?)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 18:44:54 -0400
Re: [Avodah] newspapers and LH

On Thu, May 01, 2008 at 11:47:35PM -0600, Daniel Israel wrote:
: > It could be the pesaq is bedi'eved -- you shouldn't have been told,
: > but if you were... Hil' geneivah have many laws about what to do with
: > stolen objects; that doesn't imply that there is a case where theft
: > is permissable.

: Except that the CC seems to indicate that one who says LH is suspected 
: of speaking sheker.  So in a bedi'eved case where you shouldn't have 
: been told, it is LH, so you can't believe it, because a person who will 
: say LH would also say sheker, and therefore the can be no heter to act 
: on it.  So the gemara must be speaking of a case where it was muttar for 
: the person to tell you, and moreover, you know it was muttar.

Which is more probable -
the existence of a case in which the person is allowed to repeat it
to you
the existence of a case in which the person is allows to believe
something that should not have been told.

Each requires a corner case. Why is the possibility of it being allowed
to be retold so much more more likely?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 19:24:01 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Lying to protect the simple of faith

On Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 02:03:45AM -0400, Michael Makovi wrote:
: I've been having a debate on the Zohar at
: http://www.fa
: cebook.com/topic.php?uid=2313958934&;topic=4034&start=0&ha
: sh=a8312a32e51a84740189bd00fe73a8c2,
: and at one point, I brought up ibn Ezra saying that there could be
: post-Moshe pesukim, and Dr. Marc Shapiro of course came up. I made the
: following post, from which, for Avodah, I would like to discuss my
: second point regarding a Torah authority lying to protect the simple
: of faith (but I'll post my entire post).

Lying it the wrong term. First, it has problems on a kavod harav level.
But in terms of content:

The Rambam defines the entire purpose of man in terms of knowing the
truth. He has no room for a concept of lying for the greater good.
OTOH, he does believe that the masses are incapable of comprehending the
full truth, and that there is an oversimplified version that is the
best they can do. In the Rambam's worldview, this is the difference
between the exoteric and esoteric.

However, the 13 ikkarim define the minimum belief. Definitionally,
they are the points even those of "small souls" can not accept in a
simplified form. IOW, if the Rambam made it an ikkar, it's an essential
truth, not a "good enough" approximation for the less bright masses.

: I had previously there brought up an article by Dr. Shapiro that
: mentions this opinion of ibn Ezra, but then...

It is not so clear the IE believed in multiple authorship of the Torah. He
refers a number of times to the "secret of the 12", each time at a point
where the Torah refers to something from a perspective later than the
settling of Israel. E.g. "and the Kenaani was then in the land". The
Tzofnas Paneiach assumes this refers to later additions to the Torah.

It should be pointed out, though, that there are Chassidim who agree
that the TzP is saying the IE believed in real multiple authorship --
but they therefore don't learn IE. IOW, the belief that there were no
inserted verses, even contextual ones within a naarative, with no nafqa
mina elmaaseh, was (until this generation's LW) held stronger than the
belief that the IE is on the list of "real rishonim".

Second, the Ibn Ezra's unstated "secret of the 12" is more subtle than
multiple authorship. On the list of Edmite kings (Bereishis 36:31), he
condemns a Rav Yitzchaq ibn Yashush or "Hay?sh?sh" (I never figured out
the vowels) for saying that since the list of kings goes beyond Moses'
day, and even says "before there was a king in Israel" it must have been
a later addition. So, even according to the Tzofnas Paneiach's take as to
what the secret is, one can't simply call it multiple authorship. That
would sound like the IE was okay with ideas he not only rejects but

Note therefore that the problem isn't changes in language, nor
anachronisms, but a specific problem with tense.

Also, the Tzofnas Paneiach seems to assume that the 12 in question are
the 12 last verses of Deuteronomy. The Talmud records a debate as to
whether Moses wrote the tail end of Deut that describe his own death and
mourning, or Joshua did. The talmud discusses 8 such verses. Thus there
is very little in "the secret of the 12" linking it to later authorship,
and it could well be a grammatical rule about when past tense was used
in the Torah. For example, the book was written to match the tense of
the majority of its readers, not necessarily to match proper tense at
the time of dictation.

The IE discusses his position at greatest length at Deut 1:2. Also of
value is Shadal's (Shemuel David Luzzato's) rebuttal of Spinoza's attempt
to cram this idea into the Ibn Ezra's words.

: Just this past Yom Tov Pesach, I saw Marc Shapiro's book The Limits of
: Orthodox Theology, and I saw that it truly is a magnificent sefer -
: basically, he collects classical Torah opinions that controvert
: Rambam's 13.

It is a history. Academic study of a topic is a different modality than
talmud Torah. The question of what was believed doesn't necessarily
determine what should be believed today.

: 1) When Rambam says the Torah we have is the same as given by Moshe,
: Rambam cannot possibly believe that this is literally true, for Rambam
: was extensively involved in textual study of different texts, and even
: advocated certain Masoretic texts (ben Asher I believe) over
: others....

IOW, denying "Higher Criticism" doesn't mean denying "Lower Criticism" or
R' Meir's statement that we lost the true list of chaseiros and yeseiros.

: 1a) Rather, then, Rambam is saying that no deliberate additions were
: made after Moshe...

Or even semantic accidental changes. Cheseiros and yeseiros, or variations
in the spelling of "petzua daka", may change the kashrus of a seifer,
but unless you have a beis din ready to derashin a din from that pasuq,
they won't make a stitch of difference.

: For ibn Ezra, as interpreted by a large list of authorities, held that
: many verses are post-Moshe...

Conjecture taken as fact. One I will not accept until you can distinguish
the position you're attributing to the IE from the one he condemns in
Bereishis 36:13. And then, I would at most be compelled to drop those
portions of IE from my study list.

Another problem with academia; bigger claims get more attention, and more
future funding. There is a pressure, therefore in favor of theories that
"debunk" accepted wisdom.

: 2) As an alternative to point 1 above: Rambam knew that there were
: textual variants in our Torah scrolls, but he very well have lied
: about this, and said that there were no variants, and that we today
: have the exact same scroll as given by Moshe. In fact, in his Iggeret
: Teiman, Rambam makes exactly such an explicit lie....

What a wild claim to throw in without substantiating?

As above, though, I believe the Rambam was referring to the absence of
anything that would have any semantic content.

BTW, the gemara speaks of whether Yehoshua wrote the last 12 pesuqim
in Sinai. Despite the Rambam's phrasing that the whole Torah had to be
relayed via Moshe Rabbeinu, most of us discuss "Torah miSinai", which is
preserved according to both tannaim. Even without Moshe telling Yehoshua
what to later write, or spelling it out in tears for him to later trace
in ink.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 19:53:30 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Letter of RSRH

I feel a need to clear up RnTK's claims about what I said:

RSRH said nothing about today. End of story. What we can say is what
RSRH held about his own day. And that was pretty vehemently ANTI Zionist.

What would he have said if he lived? Anything.

He disagreed with most of the Agudah WRT TIDE. Maybe he would have
disagreed with post-Holocaust consensus. Maybe not. The assumption that
there is a single opinion of daas Torah that he would inevitably have
come to is inconsistent with the unique shitos he held in reality.

(This kind of da'as Torah doesn't exist, violates basic principles of
halakhahm denies that Beis Shammai produced gedolim, etc... It's an
absurdity not worth ascribing to RSRH.)

The Belzer Rebbe concluded that one of the things produced by the
Holocaust is that it was then possible for a Jew to die al qiddush
Hashem simply for being a Jew, his existential essence despite his
personal unobservance. And thus the provided a metaphysical mechanism by
which we could be brought one step closer to ge'ulah. A new definition
of Klal Yisrael.

Such an argument would distinguish between Austritt pre-Holocaust vs
more unity Kelapei Chutz post-Holocaust. Could RSRH have reached the
same conclusion? We'll never know. I'm just citing the Belzer Rebbe to
show how few givens in RSRH are really inherently unchangable.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 19:58:38 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Letter of RSRH

On Fri, May 02, 2008 at 04:55:29PM -0400, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: This si not a matter of WHY but of historical facts.  During the Nazi era
: allJewish communities co-operated [it could be construed as hor'as hsa'ah
: but read on before jumping to any conclusions]

: If you beleive that God works through history this WHAT trumps your Why.
: Maybe HKBH was NOT pleased with Austritt and gave a draconian reason why.

We all believe Hashem works through history. That's hashgachah minis.

The question is whether we can draw conclusions from it. Since no "Why?"
provided for the Holocaust should ever satisfy, I have no idea what
we're supposed to draw conclusions from; never mind what conclusions to

The meaningful question, how to respond, can only be answered by those
called upon to respond. Which excludes RSRH.

: It is also interesting how ideology trumps reality [emess?] we really think
: that since ideology was X so the facts on the ground MUST have matched. Kind
: of like Assuming that Yaa'kov Avinu MUST have worn a Yarmulka or Shtreiml
: [take your pick]

And not only in this thread, WRT what RSRH would definitely have
concluded, but also in the thread about who went swimming where. (And
that's even with the caveat that because of differences in bathing attire,
there are no lemaaseh implications to be drawn to today.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 20:01:27 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Rabbi Michael Rosensweig - Kedoshim Tihiyu: The

I was asked offlist for a clearer description of my problem with RMR's
devar Torah.

IMHO, halakhah is made by analyzing the sources to obtain what
possibilities exist. Then, one weighs the pros and cons of the various
options. I described the criteria for such assessment as falling
into three categories:
- textual arguments: Ideas such as the majority of sources, whether the
  idea appears in a code or in a teshuvah, the bredth of acceptance of
  the author, etc... (IOW, sevara doesn't simply tells us what options
  exist, some options exist more or less.)
- mimetic weight: what did my father and grandfather do?
- hashkafic value: does one or the other fit my general approach to
  avodas Hashem or otherwise help me relate to the mitzvah?

The Gra favored the book sources (at least for his own practice), Yekkes
will accept much textually weaker arguments if they justify halakha
as received. Whereas Chassidum changed numerous practices to fit the
Chassidic worldview.

Brisker derekh is in the first camp. I'm not sure this is where R'
Chaim Brisker himself was, as he fought being a poseiq lemaaseh, but
the approach his derekh halimud fostered in further generations is
highly textualist.

I believe that both RRW and I lament this shift.

RRW mourns the loss of consideration of minhag avos, and the loss of
inertia it creates.

My concern is more on the hashkafic plane -- pesaq is increasingly
divorced from anything that can create passion.

On other threads, REB, RERackman, and Prof Sperber take this concern
too far. (Obviously, IMHO.) They so seek to reintroduce Torah values
that they understate the role of that first step, the textual analysis
of which positions are actually viable options. They each question the
current width of range of choices, not just the choice being taken.

Here, I find RMRosensweig is making a comment I think is classically
: The Obligation to Internalize Halachic Values and Adopt a Halachic World
: View
: Rabbi Michael Rosensweig
:                     ... the Ramban projects the obligation to cultivate
: kedushah as a fundamental approach to halachic life. He formulates
: kedoshim tihiyu as the requirement to strive to internalize halachic
: values, insuring their application beyond the obligatory norm. He seems
: to extend this analysis to argue that kedushah relates to the cultivation
: of a religious personality ("aval ha-perishut hi...she-baaleha nikraim
: perushim"). Indeed, the Ramban strongly condemns individuals who abuse
: and exploit the halachic system by scrupulously observing the letter
: of halachic law, ever the while trampling on its fundamental values and
: contravening its most sacred principles. Kidoshim tihiyu, as understood
: by the Ramban, demands that we not only punctiliously observe halachic
: law but that we embrace a broad halachic worldview.

Not at all! The Rambam is saying that we need to embrace a broad Torah
worldview, one that isn't limited to halakhah! IOW, he is commiting what
I believe is the opposite error.

His words echo those uttered in Volovzhin, when R' Itzele Petersburger
was bodily carried out of the beis medrash: A daf gemara is de bessere
(the best) mussar seifer.

Why work on Mussar, or Chassidus, when halakhah has it all?

Historically, though, we didn't actually find this happening in
practice. People don't simply study halakhah or religiously follow
halakhah and absorb the mindset that prevents becoming menuvalim.

There is a reason for the gemara containing aggadita. Torah > halakhah.

And so I find a need to respond when a prominent Rosh Yeshiva takes the
Ramban's call for absorbing aggadic values to know how to walk lifnim
mishuras hadin, and tones it down by telling people the Ramban is calling
for absorbing the halachic mindset.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 14th day, which is
micha@aishdas.org        2 weeks in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Malchus sheb'Gevurah: How does judgment reveal
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            G-d?

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Sat, 3 May 2008 23:15:04 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Kaddish Yasom

>>I was told to not participate in the actual shoveling at my  father's 
levayah.  I was very moved by the fact that, although most of  the people 
there were not frum and were unused to filling in the grave  themselves, 
they all willingly finished the job.  [--RDE]<<

I have a question:  Is it a halacha or a minhag that only Jews --  and not 
the cemetery workers -- cover the casket with the first shovelfuls of  earth?
Also, is it right or wrong or a matter of differing  minhagim that women 
shovel earth into the grave?
What if there are no Jewish men present?  
Strangely, I actually was once at a levaya of a man who passed away here  in 
Florida, and the only people present were myself, the niftar's daughter  (who 
did not live in Florida and did not know anyone else here), and  several 
funeral home workers.  I did not know what to do and would  like to hear opinions 
here as to what we should have done.   
After the levaya I brought my friend to my home, where she sat shiva for  a 
few hours and I arranged for a minyan in my house for mincha, and then she  
flew back to her own home town for the rest of shiva.  I don't know whether  any 
of that -- sitting shiva in my home and having a minyan -- was necessary or  
even desirable, but since she had just buried her father and was all alone  
here, I thought that something should be done for her that might bring her  

--Toby  Katz

**************Wondering what's for Dinner Tonight? Get new twists on family 
favorites at AOL Food.      
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 00:03:46 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Ta'am of eating matzah

On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 1:42 AM, Daniel Israel <dmi1@hushmail.com> wrote:

> I am struck by a different question, however, related to this issue.  We
> are told that Avraham baked matzos on Pesach.  In the above inyan we see
> that matzah is connected to leil seder.  So who set the calendar before
> the mitzvah was given in Parshas Bo?
The calendar is mentioned in Chumash as early as Parshas Noach (Bereishis
7:11, 8:4, among other places).  Thus, the question (at least in my mind) is
not where did the calendar come from, but rather, what is the chiddush of
HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem?

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 00:08:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Passover and Circumcision in the Desert

On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 6:24 AM, Larry Israel <VSLARRY@weizmann.ac.il> wrote:

> After the Jews cross the Jordan, Joshua has them circumcised.  He
> explains that the babies born in the desert, for forty years, had not
> been circumcised.
> My question is how the Passover a year after the Exodus was celebrated?
> I thought that you could not have uncircumcised boys in the family and
> still eat the Paschal sacrifice.  Or was there an exception because the
> children could not be circumcised because of the constant possibility of
> travel?

As R' Micha mentioned, they did not bring korban Pesach for those years.
The interesting thing here is that the two mitzvos aseh for which one can be
chayev kares are the two things neglected for the 40 years in the desert.
I'm not sure what the meaning behind this is.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 00:10:04 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Bitul Chometz

On Thu, May 1, 2008 at 4:41 PM, <RallisW@aol.com> wrote:

>  If chometz is botel b'shishim before Pesach. If an item is already botel
> and purchased before Pesach may it be consumed on Yom Tov? IOW once
> something is  botel does it stay botel?
> My basic question is if you have a product which has less than shishim of
> chometz contained in it, which is botel before Yom Tov. What happens if you
> buy that product on Chol HaMoed? When does botel b'shishim occur when it's
> made or when you purchase it?

According to the Rambam it is a davar seehyeish lo mattirim and AFIK would
never be battel until Passover has passed over

According to Rosh and others the Bittul would have to have AIUI:

   1. Pre-Pasover Possession by a Jew [definetely]
   2. Yedi'ah that there is a bittul
      1.  [almost a slam-dunk for Rema,
      2. a high probabilty for other ashkenazim. Yedi'a  makes a
      Hallos of bittul]
      3. this can  be shown by the sugya of "kam Kama batteil
   3. The question is why is there no Hozeir v'Nei'or during Passover?
   4. The Pri Megaddim in his Pesicha to Hilchos Melicha rules agasint
   any leachtichila bitul of hametz BEFORE Passover
      1. This COULD create a problme of purchasing already battel
      hametz depending upon your definitions of:
         1.  be'diavad [iow after purchase or after using it]
         2. Assur lemi shebiteil bishvillo [See YD 99]

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 25, Issue 165

Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

< Previous Next >