Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 185

Sun, 18 May 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 15:14:20 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Ta'am of eating matzah

> :> I find it hard to believe that a mitzvah ledoros depends on something
> :> from Egyptian culture that is not ledoros and not even mentioned in
> :> the chumash.
> :> R' Micha

> : Self evident to those who grew up in Egypt. That was the original intended
> : audicence....
> : R' Rich Wolpoe

> Ch"v -- the original intended audience was the entire history of the
> Jewish people! The mitzvah was given ledoros, not to one generation.
> R' Micha

But R' Rich has a point - there are MANY cases in the Torah which
modern studies have shown connections to ancient practices and
knowledge that the first generations would have been very very well
aware of. Surely it cannot be mere coincidence!

(As an aside, I recall that in the Hertz chumash, it is pointed out
that bread is a very "Egyptian" food. I forget whether he says this
regarding not eating chametz on Pesach, or not putting chametz on the
mizbeach, or where, but I know it's somewhere.)

To add more examples:

- In the Torah we find many Semitic idioms. If one follows R' Yishmael
that the Torah speaks in the language of men, then it means that many
of the literary oddities we find in the Torah and try to darshon, are
simply ordinary everyday Semitic idioms that no one originally found
odd at all. Even if one wants to say we can darshon them nevertheless,
the fact remains that no one can deny the presence of many ancient
Semitic idioms. I even saw an article by a rav at Bar Ilan (published
in Azure) in which he shows that the Torah's account of the giving of
the covenant and Ten Commandments in Shemot is put in the style of an
Assyrian suzerainty treaty, which would have underscored, to that
generation, the idea that there is a mutual contract between us and
G-d, and that we are favored servants of His (I can elaborate later if
anyone is interested).

- With the goring ox, we are told that the owner must pay, even if it
gores a child. Rabbi Hertz points out that until the Code of Hamurabi
was discovered, no one knew why goring a child ought to be different.
Answer: you might have thought that the ox's owner's children ought to
have been punished. Aside from this, many Torah laws are phrased very
similarly to Hammurabi-ish laws (especially parshat Mishpatim),
whether because of common idioms and style (see above), or in order to
draw a contrast with what is different between the laws (eg: in
Hamurabi, a slave's ear is bored if he tries to escape, whereas we
bore his ear when he refuses to leave). Presumably, our ancestors were
familiar with ancient Semitic laws. Also, many practices of Avraham
clearly resonate with Hamurabi law (in fact, many maximalists use this
as evidence that the Torah was not written in Exilic times). There are
many more examples, which I unfortunately cannot think of at the

You are taking issue with the idea that the Torah presumes knowledge
of Egytian bread and pagan meat and milk, but surely you must admit
that even if we know the basic details of idolatry, our ancestors were
MUCH more acquainted with exactly what went on at a pagan festival and
what different gods signified. The lifestyle too, they would have been
much more aware of. The question then is simply one of degree - our
ancestors absolutely positively knew more than us about many ancient
practices and beliefs, and the only question is which practices
specifically, and how much.

Actually, this is in fact davka why Rav Hirsch says we must learn
Canaanite, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Roman culture and history - he
says we cannot understand the Torah's moral laws without knowing what
they are polemicizing against. I will humbly suggest we extend Rav
Hirsch's words to many ritualistic laws too.

So you object that if we aren't aware of them, this poses a difficulty
to their being otot. But a few points:
1) G-d wanted to give us 5 books, not 50. He couldn't include a
history book to summarize all of the foreign cultures. He gave us what
was manageable for a scribe.

2) If we don't remember this things, perhaps it is simply a sign the
Torah did its job! If we aren't even aware that anyone would have even
conceived of punishing a child for his father's crime, it means that
all the more so, we won't conceive of that idea! If we aren't aware
that pagans eat meat and milk as a fertility ritual, then we too won't
do the same with that kavana. So in some way, forgetfulness is good.

3) Who knows how much Exile destroyed our memory, by disrupting
mesorah and such? Besides the Romans killing all our rabbis, who knows
how many rabbis and grandfathers and kohanim/leviim died under Bavel,
and disrupted our mesorah? We know that the Torah was forgotten until
Ezra and Hillel, and maybe this includes much history and cultural
knowledge too.

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 2
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Date: Sun, 18 May 2008 02:21:14 +1000
Re: [Avodah] Male and Female Gemstones !?

From: Micha Berger 
But why couldn't RB simply be speaking of grammatical gender WRT domeim?

Definitely not. Ayen shom.


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Message: 3
From: "Michael Kopinsky" <mkopinsky@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 17 May 2008 22:50:10 -0600
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Dvar halacha in Choshen Mishpat

(Carried over from Areivim.)

On Fri, May 16, 2008 at 4:14 PM, Kayza Zajac <s.zajac@verizon.net> wrote:

> Firstly,the changes in societal norms do NOT <reduce the halacha to
> "Don't violate those societal norms.">  I mentioned the example of
> paying the baby-sitter.  It's a surprisingly common problem, which
> applies to many other trades people. In addition, it also means that
> even if the norm is to pay bi-weekly, for instance, that still leaves
> you with a Halachik obligation to meet pay-roll ON TIME.

That just means that halacha obligates you to follow societal norms very
strictly, even more strictly than societal norms will obligate.  But it is
the level of obligation that changes, not the requirement.  Societal norm is
to pay the babysitter when you drop her off; halacha obligates you to follow
this norm, and means that you're over several lavim if you don't pay her
then.  But halachic distinctions about poel yom, poel layla, shkiah, etc.
are for the most part (not entirely, but mostly) irrelevant.

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Message: 4
From: Kayza Zajac <s.zajac@verizon.net>
Date: Sun, 18 May 2008 02:04:45 -0400
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] Dvar halacha in Choshen Mishpat

On Sat, 2008-05-17 at 22:50 -0600, Michael Kopinsky wrote:
> (Carried over from Areivim.)
> That just means that halacha obligates you to follow societal norms
> very strictly, even more strictly than societal norms will obligate.
> But it is the level of obligation that changes, not the requirement.
> Societal norm is to pay the babysitter when you drop her off; halacha
> obligates you to follow this norm, and means that you're over several
> lavim if you don't pay her then.  But halachic distinctions about poel
> yom, poel layla, shkiah, etc. are for the most part (not entirely, but
> mostly) irrelevant.
I think you are conflating the halachik principle with specifics of
implementation. The Halachik principle is that one has to pay on time.
The implementation hinges on what does "on time" mean. Although the
halachik discussion are primarily about poel yom, poel layla and shkia,
it's not just about that.  Even then, there were workers who worked by
the week, month, or even year.  The concept applied there, too.  

Also, I suspect that the typical babysitter situation (I'm talking about
the issue of a baby sitter hired for the evening) is probably a peopl
layla situation.  In any case, I'd say that the obligation to pay the
babysitter when she is dropped of is not because that is the societal
norm, but because, in the absence of any other norm, you have an
obligation to pay by a certain time, and realistically speaking, the
only way to meet that deadline is to pay on the spot.

By the way, I think that poel yom is not as uncommon as one would think.
It's not just baby sitters.  It's skilled and unskilled workers who do
all sorts of jobs from shoveling the snow, to yard work, minor (and not
so minor) repairs etc.

In all of these cases the fundamental issue is the obligation to pay on
time, not the social norm.  The social norm is simply one of the factors
we take into account when figuring out what "on time" means.

Once that is clear, there are a number of issues that need to be
clarified.  Is it permissible for an employer to miss payroll?  What
lengths does an employer have to go to, to meet payroll / pay the worker
on time? Is it permissible to ask an employee (daily, or "salaried") to
allow a delay for the employer's convenience? When is consent

That last, by the way, is probably a good link to another whole set of
issue - ie what constitutes undue pressure.

A good example of what I am talking about is something I saw some time
ago in the Hamodia.  They had a nice series where people wrote in in
halachik questions, and a Rav would provide a response.  (I don't recall
if it was only Chosen Mishpat questions, but the ones I remember were.)

A woman writes that she had a babysitter come to her house to watch the
children while she and her husband went to a wedding.  They came home
late (apparently not calling the babysitter to alert her to the problem
they were having getting home).  They got in to find the babysitter
practically waiting at the door for them, as she needed to get home.  At
this point the woman discovered that she didn't have the correct change
to pay the girl, and was having a hard time finding money.  She asked
the babysitter if it would be ok to bring the money over the next day,
and the girl agreed.  The next day (or shortly thereafter) the husband
came home from a shiur and told his wife that he realized that she
REALLY should have paid the girl on the spot. The woman was writing to
know if she really had been over, as she had asked the girl who

This raises several questions.  Firstly, what was the obligation to
prepare appropriate change.  Secondly, what should that woman have done,
since she didn't have the change and the girl was already way behind?
And lastly, can the girl's consent really be considered consent?

The answer didn't really deal with the first question, and not at all
with the second one, but focused on the third question, as the main
point of the query was that it should have been ok since the girl

By the way, although I don't think this is a source for you to prepare,
I think that a look at Aish's "Jewish Ethicist" column could give you
some sense of how much most of these halachols do not come down to
"follow social norms".

I can think of quite a few issues without even looking there.

How do we figure out what are social norms, and which ones are relevant
lehalahca (probably too general for what you are doing, though)

Ona'a / Gneivas Da'as (They often seem to go together)

Mekach To'us

Market rates - how we figure them out, and what our obligations are

Competition - fair and unfair

Hashovas Aveida (a relatively common scenario is when someone hides
something found for a while to "teach a lesson" to the person who
mislaid the article.)

Contract issues - how binding are verbal commitments, when can one party
withdraw, changing circumstances.  

Diverting a deal away from someone else to one-self.  eg someone is
close to closing on a house, and you make a higher offer, thus getting
the house.  Does the market rate make a difference here?

Employer / Employee issues.  This alone could probably go on for pages,
but just a few things that I've seen come up in practice (besides Ba'al
        Are "busy work" or jobs seriously out of the normal scope of the
employees duties acceptable?
        Can employers require (Jewish) employees to come to work on days that
the employer would find it unacceptable to come (eg Chol Hamo'ed)
        Use of workplace resources for personal use
        Employee monitoring
        What happens when an employee is doing something improper or not
completing work properly? What can, should, must another employee do?
How much risk should / must that other employee take.

-- Kayza

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Message: 5
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 18 May 2008 11:22:59 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Dishwasher for meat and milk

R' Simon Montagu wrote:
> ... in "Issur veHeter" by ROY's son R. Yaakov Yosef, he says
> that "yesh al ma lismoch" to use a dishwasher for meat and
> dairy utensils simultaneously, "veyesh mahhmirim" to do them
> separately "velishhot beinatayim me`et le`et". There is a
> long footnote with sources, which I can scan if anyone is
> interested.

First, I thank RSM for forwarding me a copy of the scan. Here are my comments.

In the main text of halacha 12, he specifies the workings of the type of
machine he is talking about: "After the machine is closed, it sprays
(zorem) onto the utensils a wash (shetef) of a lot of boiling (rotchim)
water mixed with cleaning materials. And afterwards they are rinsed
(nishtafim) in clean boiling water (mayim nekiim rotchim)."

He explains his reasoning in footnote 12. IF I am understanding it
correctly, his position seems to be that although the meat and dairy are
getting washed together, there is also a third element involved: The
cleaning materials -- which are nosen taam lifgam, and which get mixed
(cooked) together with the meat and dairy at he SAME TIME -- prevent
anything from becoming assur in the first place. (He also mentions poskim
who agree and disagree with this logic, and why he feels this view to be
the ikar.)

If that is indeed his logic, that the cleaning materials prevent anything
from becoming assur to begin with, then I don't know why he specified that
the dishwashing machine rinses keilim with clean water afterward. His logic
ought to hold (l'shitaso) even if the clean-water boil-rinse would be
skipped. Perhaps he was merely describing the machine, and not specifying a
required step.

The point of this post is mainly to point out that IF he DOES require the
clean-water boil-rinse, and that without it the keilim would be assur, then
his psak CANNOT be relied upon, because he is operating under a mistaken
assumption. I have looked inside many dishwashers, both household and
commercial, and as far as I can remember, they all recirculate the water in
such a manner that a LOT of actual food gets caught inside the pipes and
tubes. Yes, they do allow the dirty soapy water to drain out, and then they
rinse the dishes with new water, but one should realize that by the time
the water gets out of the pipe to spray onto the dish, it will have passed
over quite a bit of actual food.

To clean out even most of this old food requires quite a bit of dismantling
of the machine, and to be confident of cleaning it *all* out is probably
impossible in most cases. If anyone has experiences which differ from mine,
I welcome the opportunity to be corrected.

Akiva Miller
Want to plan the perfect honeymoon getaway? Click now to find your destination.

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Message: 6
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 17:36:25 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Ta'am of eating matzah

On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 10:35 PM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Mon, May 12, 2008 at 11:49:47PM -0400, Richard Wolpoe wrote:
> :> When a mitzvah is an os, does it stand on its own, or does HQBH presume
> :> we know the history? And how much history beyond what we're given in the
> :> Torah?
> : HBKH was talking to the dor hmidbar they got the message. The message was
> : forgotten.
> : The entire point says 2 things:
> : good news There was a G-d talking to Refugees from Egypt who understood
> : Egyptian metaphors
> : bad news: later speculation lost he simple points and  was either
> : darshaening or rationalizing. But as we several of Rambam's hypotheses in
> : the Moreh have proven true.
> Then what kind of os is it if for the majority of its history no one
> knows what the symbol signified?

People forget 3,00 halachos after oshe died. This was probably OS that was
well-uinderstood, fogotten, and restored. What's the problem?

IF HKBH watned us to know the REALemeaning sooner He would have given us
aracheology Sooner. He choose t oreveal it to us later. Same with Cairo
Geniza, Dead Ssee Scrolls ,etc. Are you being meharheir after middosov of
HKBH why HE waited until the lat 150 years to make sense out of long
forgotten texts and traditions?

What about Techeiles. How come NOW it is availalble and ot to Rashi Rabeinu
Tam etc. Are WE better than they?  does it bother anyone that we have
techieles TODAY and they did not?  Again what's the point?

> ...
> Tir'u baTov!
> -Micha

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 7
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 17:46:23 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Education foir Women

On Tue, May 13, 2008 at 12:10 PM, Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@bezeqint.net>

> When I teach a kallah, I like to teach from Taharat Bat Yisrael or from Rav
> Chaim David HaLevy's book.  Why?  B/c they are simple, direct and easy to
> understand.  But both books have an interesting phenomenon: they mention
> repeatedly "in xxx case, ask a Rabbi".  Why not just give the answer?
> Shoshana L. Boublil
Tangentially three is a Sugya in the Gmara on topi.c Rav was teaching a
public shiur and gave humros to the people that he did NOT giveto his
Talmiddim in private.   Why? Because the public is not as well-informed to
the nuances etc. while his Talmiddim were...

In fact in  Taharat Bat Yisrael the author is attacked in the appendix for
using heteirm "unfit for a  ktizur book" and he goes on to defend himself.
[m ycrtizieu of this fine sefer is that he cites no soruces as oposed to
Darchei Tohora  which does. In D. T,. you can llok up the SA/Rambam or the
pischie Teshuvan and trace the Halocha back as far as you wish.]

But I will re-iterate, I think that MOST people - men and women - can get at
least 95%  of the necesary nuances in 2ndary books such as BTur/Beis Yosef
and other nos'ei keilim w/o consulting Shas.  True a gadol hador would not
go that route, but for most people and even most rabbnonim Tur/BY v'chulei
is quite adequate.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 8
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 17:50:09 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Lying to protect the simple of faith

On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 4:44 PM, Yitzhak Grossman <celejar@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, 4 May 2008 19:24:01 -0400
> Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> > On Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 02:03:45AM -0400, Michael Makovi wrote:
> ...
> > : 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.
> Minhas Hinuch (#613) tries to argue your claim, that we assume accuracy
> even with regard to haseros ve'yeseros as long as they are semantically
> significant, but he runs into trouble with the word 'totafos', since
> according to Rashi, the Gemara's D'rashah of the four Parshiyos of
> Tefillin is based on the plene spelling of the word in Parshas Ve'haya
> Im, whereas we have it deficient.
> > Tir'u baTov!
> > -Micha
> Yitzhak
> --
> <http://lists.aishdas.org/listinfo.cgi/avodah-aishdas.org>

I've been told that Rashi had 6-7 spelling differences in his version of
Torah from our version of the Torah. One that comes to mind is in my Sidra -

Rabbi Kanarfogel told me that such changes do come about but that they must
go through the Halachic Process.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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Message: 9
From: "Richard Wolpoe" <rabbirichwolpoe@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 17:58:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] When Things Are Only MAYBE Assur

On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 10:16 AM, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 07:32:04PM +1000, Meir Rabi wrote:
> : It is noted by the Acharonim that when the Gemara discusses questions to
> do
> : with transfer of non-Kosher flavour, there is no suggestion that a
> : connoisseur be employed... Why not?
> : And perhaps we can ask ...                   how can we have a debate in
> the
> : Gemara about matters of verifiable fact?
> : It is therefore proposed that it is not absolutely known if the flavour
> has
> : or has not been transferred...
> I was bothered by the first question, and by the absurdity in claiming
> that Ashkenazim think the entire volume of the pot is of that which
> would give flavor to the substance in it. It is akin to your question
> about a kezayis being consercutibely dunked in 1 million pots. There
> can't possibly be a physical trace -- taste-giving or not -- that is
> sufficient to prohibit.
> But I fail to see how casting the question as a safeiq explains our not
> hiring a taster.
> My answer (discussed here ad nauseum, but the list demographics shifted
> since, so I hope it's worth reopening) was more radical and went in an
> entirely different direction. If it can't be about physical tastables,
> then let's not look at physics.
> The word "ta'am" has a meaning other than "taste". "Ta'amei hamitzvos"
> "Mai ta'ama?" etc... If you assume "nosein ta'am" refers to how people
> are expected to think of the object, all three questions evaporate. The
> question is no longer easily measurable, being an about not only
> psychology, but presumptions about preferred psychologies.
> Tir'u baTov!
> -Micha

b'nosein Ta'am as expalined by Talmud/Rambam/Tur/Mechabeir [see YD Tur 98
for quotes of Rava et. al.]  is subject to te'imas kefiela for issur, and
t'eimas koshein for Trumah. Therefore  I don't get this point.

ANYTHING that is boteil beshishm is a function of bnosein Ta'am but ther ar
issuirng taht are nto bateil beshishim.
Or as one of my issur v;heter studnets explains:Botteil beshishim is a PROXY
for noesin Ta'am.

Obviously there are cases where ta;am is NOT a factor [min bemino according
to the shach but not necesarily Rema et. al. who bassare Shema]  See
Shacc's commnet on Rema [SA 98:3? iirc] ]  re: bassarr shema azlainan where
the Sahch enumerates the cases of NOT noesin ta'am.

I also think this logic would knock out the Rabbeinu Tam Ta'am k'ikkar into
a different universe or dimension.
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
see: http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/
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