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Volume 25: Number 269

Fri, 25 Jul 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Yitzhak Grossman <celejar@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 20:27:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] money and halakhah

On Wed, 23 Jul 2008 06:20:52 -0400
Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 07:28:19PM -0400, Yitzhak Grossman wrote:
> : All citations are from my notes; I have not verified most of them.
> The AhS, for example, had to be speaking of metal-backed currency, not
> fiat currency. I don't know everyone you quote, but we could eliminate
> the majority of the list.

I don't understand exactly what you mean, but you ought not to
'eliminate the majority of the list' without taking the trouble to
actually read them. 

> A shetar which says "the owner has a sheqel of silver sitting in Fort
> Knox" is more like giving the actual sheqel of silver (to speak of kesef
> in the literal sense, but gold would be no different) than giving a
> piece of paper that had value because people decided you can exchange
> it for value.

Hasam Sofer (YD 134) clearly says that 'banknotes' derive their value
from government fiat, not from their convertibility into metal, from
which he infers that they are in the Halachic category of 'matbea' as
opposed to 'shtaros'.

He proves his contention that their value derives from government fiat
by pointing out that their assigned value is sometimes greater than
purely economic considerations, based on their convertibility, would

> -Micha

Bein Din Ledin - bdl.freehostia.com
An advanced discussion of Hoshen Mishpat

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Message: 2
From: hankman <salman@videotron.ca>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 18:50:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] police misdeeds and trial evidence

RMB wrote:

And to reiterate a point I couldn't "sell" in the past -- I think the
overwhelming majority of cases were resolved on this plane. Given the
need to protect society from murderers, and the difficulty in meting
out dinei nefashos, don't you think most murderers would end up in jail?

You only need 2 eidim for eidei qiyum (eg qiddishin), to outnumber the
ba'al din in a CM case (but the ba'al din can outtrump the eid echad
with his own or with a shavu'ah), or oneshim.

These are a minority of cases BD must face! (The first category not
even being a court case.) Do you think they did nothing? Or do you think
that if 5 women or evidence make it obvious the guy is really a danger
to society (or their property), the guy would be locked up?

I would be shocked to think BD did not routinely protect society this

Tir'u baTov!

See Sanhedrin 46a "shomati shebeis-din makin ve'onshin shelo min haTorah ...
and see also Rmb"m Hilchos Sanhedrin 24:4-10 based on this gemara. This
seems to be the source for extra-legal (extra-halachic) powers of beis-din.
So I guess that if the times required it, and five women testified that
someone is a danger to society, beis-din could do what they deemed
necessary (not to set a precedent, but only as a horoas shoa, as the Rmb"m
states in halocha 4).

Kol Tuv

Chaim Manaster
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Message: 3
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 23:17:47 EDT
Re: [Avodah] women giving testimony in court [was: police


RCM wrote:
>>I suspect that women can not testify because of  a gezairas hakasuv (see 
Shovuos 30a) and not as the result of some rational  sevara....<<
and later wrote: 

>>I asked our magid shiur at daf yomi  if he knew of any source for a sevara 
why nashim can not testify. He directed me  to the following Chezkuni in Gen. 
18:15 quoting a Yalkut Shimoni:
Vatekachesh  Sarah Laimor: Mikan shehanashim pesulos l'aidus, lefi 
shemekachshos mipnai  hayiroh.<<

My father said that women can't be eidim (eidos?)  because they tend to see 
the whole picture and don't confine themselves to "just  the facts, ma'am."   
They will not only say that the guy picked up the  knife but will also include 
his emotions, his motives, the whole context.   He also said that HKBH judges 
people the way women do -- seeing the big picture,  the inside of a person as 
well as his outward actions -- but a bais din cannot  judge that way.
No, I am not claiming that is *the* reason but I'm sure it's part of the  
He also gave other reasons:
One reason is similar to why women are exempt from mitzvos asei shehazman  
grama -- they have household duties that are of greater importance than public  
affairs.  And you can't make a rule that exempts some women and not others,  
or that lets women themselves decide whether they're too busy to testify or  
not.  Women as a class are responsible for children and households.
And another reason is concern for the dignity and modesty of women, not to  
subject them to the hurley-burley of court.
Yes, yes, I know that women nowadays don't /want/ their dignity protected  
this way and don't /want/ to be responsible for children and home and so on and  
so on.  I know, I know.
BTW my father also said that you see from other mitzvos that the reason for  
exempting women from testifying is NOT because they are not trustworthy.   In 
matters that are of utmost weight -- even involving possible penalties of  
kareis -- a woman's word is totally believed.  If she says she did bedikos  and 
is not nidah, or if she says she went to the mikva, or if she says she  checked 
the rice for bugs or kashered the kitchen for Pesach, etc.,  etc., her word 
can be relied on.

--Toby  Katz

**************Get fantasy football with free live scoring. Sign up for 
FanHouse Fantasy Football today.      
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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 06:07:07 -0400
Re: [Avodah] police misdeeds and trial evidence

In any case, as I pointed out earlier, non-eidus evidence, including
women's testimony, is admissible in order to impeach witnesses.

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: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 12:33:13 -0400
[Avodah] Buying a dirah

We're discussing on Areivim the fellow who comes door to door asking
for money to help buy a dirah for a soon-to-marry couple. The question
is whether is qualifies as tzedaqah to buy a couple an apartment in an
expensive area just because that is their societal norm, where cheaper
apartments are available.

I would think that it's a case of dei machsero, as per Kesuvos 67b. Is
an apartment in a neighborhood that already has the neighbors you're
seeking more of a chiddush than a runner to go before your horse?

The Shitah Mequbetzes (Kesuvos 67b "afilu") tells the recipient only to
accept based on dei machsero if no one knows he lost his wealth. Perhaps
that would distinguish the cases -- no bushah. However, we're asking
from the giver's perspective.

I would therefore conclude that it is tzedaqah and would qualify as
maaser kesafim. (One of my per topics is the variety of shitos WRT MK.
Shelah: deOraisa, Maharil: deRabbanan, Bach: minhag at most -- possibly
minhag chassidus [uncertainty is the Bach's]!)

That said, prioritization of tzedaqos would place the chiyuv to support
the impoverished or a kallah's actual *needs* -- 2 kallos getting cheap
apartments vs 1 staying in Y-m -- should go first. Unless (for emotional
reasons,eg you know the people in the dei machsero case) you are moved by
someone's plight to give something that you would not have given another.

While on tangents about MK.... I believe that feeding your 12 yr old
daughter would qualify for maaser money. Don't think that's a great idea,
but in terms of the technical din... You have no chiyuv qua parenting
to feed or educate children who are gedolim. Shouldn't 100% of your HS
tuition quality -- once you already got to say Barukh shePatrani?


Micha Berger             Never must we think that the Jewish element
micha@aishdas.org        in us could exist without the human element
http://www.aishdas.org   or vice versa.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

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Message: 6
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 06:16:43 -0400
Re: [Avodah] what G-d can't do

kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:

> Doing things against logic --- I'm not sure what is meant by this.
> Surely He cannot make a five-sided triangle, nor a rock so heavy that
> He cannot lift it. (See footnote later.) But my understanding of these
> examples is not that Hashem is incapable of making such a thing;
> rather the thing is undefined and incapable of existing.

The opposing view is that yes, He can make a five-sided triangle, or an
object that measures 2.5 amot long, but when put into a 20-amah wide room
doesn't take up any of those 20 amot.  According to this view, He can make
a rock so heavy that He can't lift it, and He can still lift it, because
He is not bound by the Law of Non-Contradiction.

This sort of paradox is central to Chabad philosophy; it's what Chabad
means by bringing Sovev into Memalei, which is the purpose of Creation.
The "dirah batachtonim" that the Tanya talks about means a world that
is both finite and infinite at the same time.

The LR explains the nes chanukah in the same way: the oil was physical
natural olive oil, which burns at a known rate, it burned at that rate,
no new oil was created, and yet it lasted eight times longer than it
should have, and that's precisely what made it such a big neis: it wasn't
the laws of physics that broke, but the laws of logic, which dictate
that something is either there or not there, and once it's been consumed
it no longer exists and can't be used again.

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: 7
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 06:21:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] what G-d can't do

Yitzhak Grossman wrote:
> Zev Sero <zev@sero.name> wrote: 
>> Eli Turkel wrote:

>>> as mentioned in the article all rishonim seem to agree that G-d can't do
>>> things against logic or basic physics laws.

>> How do they deal with "mekom ha'aron einah min hamidah"?  That's an open
>> breach of the laws of ordinary topology; is there some fancy Einsteinian
>> formula that can explain this without resorting to "Hashem is not bound
>> by anything"?
> Ralbag often explains away, and occasionally even rejects outright,
> statements of Hazal that he considers to contradict True Philosophy.
> See, e.g., Breishis [biur milos ha'parshah] 1:29 and Bamidbar 22:21.  I
> plan to discuss this in depth in a paper for Hakirah.

And for that very reason not everyone considers the Ralbag to be 100%

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: 8
From: "Alan Rubin" <alanrubin1@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 11:24:52 +0100
Re: [Avodah] length of the aron

Message: 10
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 19:44:11 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Subject: Re: [Avodah] length of the aron
To: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Cc: avodah <avodah@aishdas.org>
Message-ID: <488913CB.7030908@sero.name>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed

Zev Zero  wrote:

> Of course it had a length.  The Torah gives that length.  And of course
> it had that length in the KhK just as it did outside it.  And yet it
> didn't take up space in the room.  From the wall to the aron was 10 amot,
> the aron itself was 2.5 amot, from the opposite edge of the aron to the
> other wall was 10 amot, and yet from wall to wall was only 20 amot.

Can we try a thought experiment here? Someone takes a 20 Amah length
ruler into the KhK clearly marked in half amah divisions and lies it
against the Aron. What do they see? What numbers are adjacent to the
edges of the aron?

Alan Rubin

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Message: 9
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:16:47 -0700 (PDT)
[Avodah] Differences between Charedism and Modern Orthodoxy

What exactly does it mean to be Charedi? That may be as difficult to define
as is what it means to be Modern Orthodox. Just as there are many divisions
in Modern Orthodoxy so to are there in Charedism. But there are certain
features that are distinctive to each.

As I often say, there is far more that unites us than divides us. But
people tend to focus on divisions. Sometimes vehemently so. But many of
those divisions are more about attitudes than they are about actual

One would be hard pressed to see a difference between a right wing modern
Orthodox Jew and a moderate Charedi Jew. They may both attend the same shul
send their children to the same Yeshivos, work in similar fields and learn
in the same Baatei Midrashim, sometimes together B?Chavrusa. And they
socialize quite nicely together.

But even though they lead the same lifestyles their attitudes may be
entirely different. Attitudes about secular studies and participation with
the culture are the two such areas. Even while participating in the
culture, the Charedi Jew will see such activities in a more negative light
while the Modern Ortbodox Jew will see them in a more positive light.

Differences in the extremes of Modern Orthodxy and Charedim are of course
much more pronounced and the cause of much misunderstanding and - on
occasion - even hatred between the two. Looking at the extremes of the
other as definitional is an impediment of great significance that needs to
be addressed. But that is not the subject of this essay.

It is equally important to focus on one of the more essential
misunderstandings overall between the two and not just on the extremes -
the question of the fallibility of Chazal - our sages of blessed memory.

Modern Orthodoxy has often been accused of believing that Chazal were
fallible - that they made mistakes. They were human beings subject to the
spirit of their time and that influenced how they created rabbinic law
which we must follow.

This is simply not true. Modern Orthodoxy does not believe that. Faulting
Chazal in this way is tantamount to heresy! Where we differ is in matters
of science. Charedim believe that Chazal were infallible there too. Or more
precisely scientific statements recorded in the Gemarah were passed on to
them via Mesorah ? just as were Halachic statements.

Contradictions between scientific statements in the Gemarah and the
scientific knowledge we have today is simply thought of as either a
misunderstanding of what Chazal said. Or those statements were meant as
allegory. Or were statements about Kabala - not science as they seem to be
at first blush.

There are many Modern Orthodox Jews who believe that too. But there are
many more who will rely on the various Rishonim who say that in matters of
science Chazal were simply as scientifically knowledgeable as their era
allowed. They were conversant with the best science of their day. That is
what they recorded in the Gemarah. In our day, since we have better and
more precise ways of studying nature, we have better knowledge of it.

This view - although promoted by accepted Rishonim - has recently been
rejected by Charedi Poskim who say it is heretical to believe that in our
day. Modern Orthodoxy does not consider that to be heretical at all. It is
only the Halacha that is Masoretic and there fore infallible. Not the

It should be noted that Rav Ahron Soloveichik is of the view that Chazal
were infallible in matters of science too. He takes the same view as do the
Charedi Poskim. Rav Ahron often explained difficult passages in the Gemarah
in the modern scientific terms of our day. For example, he explains the
term ?Mazikin? in the Gemarah - a term usually translated as demons - as
really referring to bacteria and uses innovative methods to come to that
conclusion. But? he agreed that they made no error even in science. Saying
so - he said - is repugnant.

This is a legitimate difference. My Rebbe, Rav Ahron, not withstanding -
many if not most educated Modern Orthodox Jews would disagree with him
relying on Rishonim who said the same thing.

But in another matter there is no disagreement. And that needs to be clearly pointed out.

In our day there have been many challenges to Chazal?s methodology by
disciplines developed over time ? such as critical or literary analyses of
the text of the Torah. Using these techniques many have raised difficult
theological questions. Some of these questions have caused people to
question the very basis of their belief.

The question must be asked, in light of these new methods of Torah study,
is there any legitimacy to them? Just because we have our own traditional
ways of studying Torah does that mean we reject out of hand ?outside?
methods of Torah study?

This question was answered quite brilliantly by Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchik -the Rav. And it can be found in yet another brilliant essay
by Chana in her blog, The Curious Jew. The answer might surprise people.
That?s because the Rav rejects out of hand any study methods outside of the
traditional ones.

The words of the Rav are very strong:

Kabalas ol malchus shamayim -- which is an identical act with talmud torah
-- requires of us to revere and to love and to admire the words of the
chachmei hamesorah, be they tannaim, be they amoraim, be they rishonim.
This is our prime duty. They are the final authorities, and an
irresponsible statement about chazal borders on, I don't like to use the
word but according to Maimonides, the heretic.


Why did he add v'hamach'chish magideha --whoever denies the authority of
the scholars, the chachmei hamesorah? Apparently the Rambam says that under
the category of kofrim batorah [16]are classified not only those who deny
for instance that nisuch hamayim[17] or avodas beis hamikdash [18] is
required, or those who deny the torah she b'al peh -- there is no doubt
about it in those cases. 

But moreover, even those who admit the truthfulness of the torah she b'al
peh but who are critical of chachmei chazal as personalities, who find
fault with chachmei chazal, fault in their character, their behavior, or
their conduct, who say that chachmei chazal were prejudiced, which actually
has no impact upon the halachah; nevertheless, he is to be considered as a

This is the correct attitude. Why this is the case can be found in Chana?s beautiful and well presented essay. It is a must read:

Want Emes and Emunah in your life? 

Try this: http://haemtza.blogspot.com/

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