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Volume 25: Number 279

Sun, 03 Aug 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 15:57:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Can you build a community around Halakhic Man?

On Fri, Aug 01, 2008 at 01:47:48PM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
: >I disagree. I am not so much denigrating the masses as disagreeing with
: >your definition of pesaq and chiddush. In particular, that they serve
: >in the roles RYBS describes. (In general as well, but that's
: >irrelevent.)

: psak: "Halakhic man, well furnished with rules, judgments, and 
: fundamental principles, draws near the world with an a priori 
: relationship. (p. 19)" See the entire paragraph.  Someone seeing a 
: physical action, and cognizing its relationship with the a priori world 
: of halacha by looking up an appropriate precedent in SSK, is doing 
: precisely this.

Only once he applies what he was given to new encounters with (for want
of a better word) I'll call Mada.. It's not just a matter of HM, it's
how HM is expected to navigate the ramatayim tzofim. The 2 peaks are
to provide conflict, which then forces choice and creativity. One of
those peaks is the calling to be the HM.

: I think the main definition of creation in HM has to be understood as 
: reconstruction, since (as far as I can tell from a cursory rereading) 
: every example of hiddush in HM is a reconstruction of a previously 
: existing position.

A generalization, byu showing that the existing positions are examples
of a larger rule. Which then gives him the ability to aply that newly
identified general rule to cases that weren't yet discusses.

: >RYBS is relying on the individual's tension between cognitive man and
: >homo religiousis to fuel creativity. This creativity finds its expression
: >in halakhic man.

: WADR to Socrates in the Republic, archetypes do not derive from each 
: other through dialectic...

That's not RYBS's neoKantianism. Rather, a man's conflicts in trying to
implement archetypes are the dialectic. The causality is in the other
direction, from types to dialectic.

: ><snip> Conflict requires choice, bechirah motivates
: >creativity.

: >It's how man deals with his own encounters; not reading how others
: >resolved theirs. SSK's words aren't /his/ choices. He can choose whether
: >or not to follow them, but that's one side of the dialectic, the
: >submission of homo religious, not its resolution.

: I don't see a large emphasis on choice in HM; it is you, not the author, 
: who links creativity and free will.

This is why my intro spent as much time on RT as on HM. It's also the
Lonely Man of Faith's Adam I. Adam II seeks redemption through covenent,
by having a partner (or in this case, Partner), and Adam I is addressed
by making it a partnership of kibbush. (See pp 13-16 in the Tradition

R' Besdin reads RYBS similarly, in "Man of Faith in the Modern World",
pp 50-52.

Or R' Werzberger, Tradition 1996 (30:4) "The Centrality of Creativity in
the thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik", pg 220, the bit starting
with "R' Chaim of Volozhin, a forebear of the Rav, already utilized
these Kabbalistic ideas to define the human task as the realization of
the potential for spiritual creativity. In his view, that human beings
bear the image of God implies that they are charged with imitating His
creativity. It is through novel insights into the meaning of the Torah..."

Remember, this creativity is his way out of being torn by the dialectic.
It's not just comprehension, it's comprehension of the conflict as he
confronts it as each moement in time.

(It is probably of a piece with telling his students who are LORs to
make up their own minds, as they see the community and its issues,
rather than necessarily always following his own pesaq.)

: >If my kids were capable of becoming halachic men and women, both in
: >ability and in inclination, I would encourage it. But I am currently
: >of the opinion that doing so to a group of hundreds or thousands will
: >lead more people to compromising their observance and values than
: >to sanctity. That the gap between MO's theory and practice is more
: >fundamental than simply the limitations of real human beings. It's that
: >people below a certain point of personal development are actually worse
: >off trying to live by RYBS's words.

: Here I think is where push comes to shove.  You are identifying MO with 
: HM (the book), and I think that is incorrect.  I agree with you that it 
: would be hard to create a community of followers of HM, but that's 
: because I buy the mussar critique of the ideal of HM (as I suspect you 
: do).  HM rejects that critique (pp. 74-76).  If you accept the premises 
: of the book, I think you need to accept that it can be actualized by 
: anyone.  "Morasha Kehillas Ya'akov ksiv".  "Moshe, n'div lev ..."

My blog entry as a whole was about following HM and RYBS's plan in
general. Yes, at times I worked with the sloppy assumption that MO (in
the US) was a group of people who are trying to live by RYBS's hashkafos.

But this critique of HM as it plays together with his other works --
particularly in how he handles the confrontation with olam hazeh -- is
not the "Mussar objection". It's simply that you can't teach the masses
to be creative until after you teach them how to tell when they're
creating, and when they're destroying. Creatively finding a way for
conflicting goals to coexitist, whether you use the word "synthesis"
in some non-Hegelian sense (as RNLamm does) or harmonious coesistence
(RARR's term), looks too much like an invitation to compromise. It's
not something to encourage in amateurs.

And yes, in your typical neighborhood (as opposed to, say, a college
town), the vast majority of your audience will be amateurs.


Micha Berger             For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org        And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 15:44:56 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Differences between Charedism and Modern

On Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 05:35:21PM -0400, Rich, Joel wrote:
:> And WRT general advice: R' Dovid Cohen, certainly not MO, does not :>
believe that "the gedolim" have any guarantee of getting answers right.
:> Rather, he shows that without a melekh, some of the authority of :>
melukhah fell to the rabbanim. So RDC still says that we need to turn to
:> gedolei Torah to run a community but because of authority, not

: I've heard R'HS say something similar but what is the source? ...

See R' Algred Cohen's paper on Daat Torah at
<http://jlaw.com/Articles/cohen_DaatTorah.pdf> (RJJ, Spring 2003) and R'
Yitzchak Kasdan's response at

RDC is in "Maaseh Avos, Siman Labanim" I, which Artscroll had translated
in "Templates for Ages" at page 33: "The Crown of Torah and the Crown of
Kingship; the Hasmoneans and the Concept of Daas Torah". (That's from
RYK's fn 14.)

RYK also points out:
>                                              For example, in Gitin 62a

> the gemara calls rabbanim, "melachim." See also "Harrirai Kedem"
> (R. Michal Shurkin's sefer based on the Torah of Rabbi Joseph B.
> Soloveitchk, the "Rav") at page reish samach hei (265), where (as my 
> brother pointed out to me) the Rav zt'l compares a mara d'aatra to a 
> melech. Finally, see"Keser Torah: Based on the Words of Rav Hutner
> found at http://www.countryyossi.com/dec98/torah3.htm (anonymous

> Moreover, the linkage between Rabbis and royalty did not appear to be 
> a controversial point to a reviewer in Tradition of a 1977 book by 
> Rabbi Mendell Lewittes, "Religious Foundations of the State of Israel"
> (reprinted by Aronson Press in 1994). In his volume (at 87), Rabbi 
> Lewittes bases himself upon the Ran in Drashot Haran when he states:
> "[I]n the absence of a kingdom, the religious authorities are able to 
> assume the responsibilities of political leadership." 

So we have one mention in the gemara in an unrelated context, some
mentions that sound similar to chatan domeh lmelech, and a statement
that the religious leaders "are able"  which may mean may step into a
vacuum.  My question was given the torah's preference for a separation
of powers, why wouldn't the preferred model be to continue that if

Joel Rich
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Message: 3
From: Yitzhak Grossman <celejar@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 16:31:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Differences between Charedism and Modern

On Wed, 30 Jul 2008 16:58:18 -0400
Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:


> >From RARR's "The Rav" vol I #1.04, given by RYBS Sep 14 1968, before the
> first selichos (I happened to read it the same commute as I read RAM's
> post):
>     I once heard the following story from my father.  It was most
>     probably a true story, since the stories that were transmitted in 
>     our family from generation to generation are mostly true. They are
>     not like Chassidic stories, where miracles happen. [Laughter] These
>     stories which have been told and passed down from generation to
>     generation are usually true. These stories do not deal with
>     miracles, but with natural phenomena....
> The story RYBS tells is that of Avraham ben Avraham Hy"d, the geir tzedeq
> of Vilna, the Graf Potocki. RARR makes a point of letting you know where
> people laugh so that you know the audience who heard tone of voice knew
> RYBS was joking.

Compare to the attitude of scholarship:


We must draw a clear distinction between R. Solomon's Responsum 29,
where he inserts a copy of an historical document that was written by a
contemporary of R. Meir, and this statement in the Yam Shel Shlomo,
which was based on an oral report, notoriously subject to error.  An
oral statement made almost three hundred years after the event is
usually devoid of historical truth.


-- Dr. Irving A. Agus, "Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg, Second Edition", p.
130 n. 20, discussed on my blog:


> Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where

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

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Message: 4
From: "Chana Luntz" <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 00:51:15 +0100
[Avodah] Eliyahu on Har Carmel

I am sending this to Avodah as the chances the moderators of Areivim will
let it through there are, I suspect, pretty slim.  I have therefore renamed
the title.

RZS writes:
> Eliyahu had not just permission but a command to do it -- not from
> any beit din, but from Hashem. 

Well the Radak (on Melachim 1 18:21) is mesupik as to whether Eliyahu did
indeed have a command to do it, or whether he did it out of his own svara
an action to which Hashem subsequently acquiesced (this is despite the pasuk
at 18:36 saying ubidvarecha asiti which would seem to imply that it was done
at Hashem's command) -- because other than this later statement of Eliyahu,
there is no record of any such command from Hashem and this pasuk can be
explained to mean for Hashem's sake rather than under his direct command
(this being the explanation he appears to prefer).

 And we would need a similar command
> from Hashem to do the same.  I don't think any beit din would have
> the authority to give permission, let alone command it. 

Tosphos too takes the view (see Sanhedrin 89b) that in fact Eliyahu acted on
har Carmel out of his own initiative, precisely because the actions of
Eliyahu on Har Carmel are used by Rav Chisda on Yevamos 90b as a
justification to allow the Chachamim to act in a horaas sha'ah by abrogating
a Torah law, and if Eliyahu had acted only in accordance with a command of
Hashem then there would be no proof to Rav Chisda's position (or at the very
least, even if there was in fact a command from HaShem, the he would have
been able to act in such a way as an established navi even if there had been
no command from Hashem.  This is also because as stated in Megilla 2b, a
navi is not allowed to be mechadesh anything, so were it not for the fact
that the Chachamim have the power to suspend a Torah law in a horaas sha'ah
then neither would a Navi have that power.  They then explain [d'vrecha] as
being because Eliyahu darshened a pasuk in Breishis as pointing to his
actions on har Carmel, see there (ie Tosphos Sandhedrin 89b s'v "Eliyahu
bhar haCarmel".

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

Shavuah Tov


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Message: 5
From: Cantor Richard <cantorrichard@cox.net>
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 21:11:25 -0400
[Avodah] Devarim "Eicha esa l'vadi?"

> In this week's portion which immediately precedes Tisha b'Av, Moses  
> asks: Eicha esa l'vadi...?"  "How can I alone carry your  
> contentiousness, your burdens, and your quarrels?"
> Eicha (spelled aleph, yud, chof, hey) is expressed by God to Adam  
> after his sin in Genesis 3:8-9.
> They heard the sound of the Lord God in the garden toward evening;  
> and Adam and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees of the  
> garden. The Lord God called out to the man and said to him "Where  
> are you?" (Ayeka, spelled: aleph, yud, chof, hey).
> This "Where are you" is written as Eicha, and has no legitimate  
> answer. This same word which is the name of and begins the Book of  
> Lamentations that is read next Sunday on Tisha b'Av, is the very  
> word addressed to Adam after the very first sin in history.
> Rabbi Avohu opens his discussion of the Book of Lamentations thus:  
> "And they, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant...(Hosea 6:7)  
> This verse is a reference to when God said: "I brought Adam into the  
> Garden of Eden, I commanded him and he transgressed; I sentenced him  
> to exile, ejected him and lamented ... Similarly, with his children:  
> I brought them into the land of Israel; I commanded them and they  
> transgressed; I sentenced them to exile, I ejected them and I  
> lamented. Alas! she sits in solitude." (Eicha Raba, the 4th opening).
> Despite the comparison, there is a great contrast between the two  
> eichas.  Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden was permanent.  
> When God saw what Adam (and Eve) had done, He could not recognize  
> the person(s) He had originally created . When God looks at us,  
> despite all our failings, He can still recognize in us the remnant  
> of the patriarchs (and the pintele yid). As long as that remains  
> true, our relationship with the Almighty can survive; our historic  
> mission can continue, and we can still anticipate the ultimate  
> Redemption.
> There is a positive side of eicha in sort of a mystical and  
> enigmatic sense. The gematria of eicha is 36. Thirty-six is double  
> chai. Therefore, as we are promised in Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow  
> up death for ever; And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off  
> all faces..." And in Isaiah 26:19, "Thy dead shall live, my dead  
> bodies shall arise--Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust..."  
> Hence, the "where are you?" of eicha will be transformed to "Hin'ni"  
> Here I am; and the "How" of eicha will be transformed to "Through  
> implicit faith in the Almighty".
> rw

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Message: 6
From: Celejar <celejar@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 02:01:11 -0400
[Avodah] Happenstance In this world

On Wed, 30 Jul 2008 12:35:01 -0400 someone wrote on Areivim:

"there isn't really any such thing as a "happenstance" in this world.
If it happened then obviously Hashem planned it, but the difference is
whether the purpose of this plan is obvious or obscure."

It is certainly not obvious, and many Rishonim believed that there
most definitely *is* such a thing as happenstance in this world; see
Akeidah (Breishis Sha'ar 26) at length, and Abarbanel (endorsing the
interpretation of Akeidah) on the phrase "ki yipol ha'nofel
mimenu" (D'varim 22:8).  [See also Ikkarim 4:6.]

See Resp. Rashbash 195 for a a lucid explanation, similar to that of
Akeidah, of the classic moderate rationalist understanding of the
interplay of providence and natural law in the determination of the
destiny of men.  [This responsum is referenced by R. Akiva Eger (Gilyon
Ha'Shas Bava Kama 60b) in a different context.]

"And humans are also left [in the lower world] to chance events
['mikrim'], but He pays attention to His pious ones ['hasidim'] to know
them individually, so that His guardianship always cleaves to them, the
knowledge and memory [of them] does not separate from Him at all" 

-- Ramban Breishis 18:19, although he seems to contradict this in his
celebrated passage at the very end of Bo.

I believe that some contemporary Hareidi thinkers have denied that any
Rishonim actually reject the contemporarily popular maximalist belief
in divine providence, but I can't see how their position can be
taken seriously, in view of the perfectly clear language of the

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

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Message: 7
From: "Meir Rabi" <meirabi@optusnet.com.au>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 16:18:44 +1000
[Avodah] Hating a Meisis to Kefirah, Should be - Hating any

I don't really follow the discussion.
There is a prohibition to hate a fellow Jew IN ONES HEART. That means
secretly. There is no prohibition transgressed if one discloses that hatred.

If one has valid cause to hate someone, for example, they have sinned and
not responded to encouragement to repent and repair the damage they caused,
we are obligated to hate them.

We are taught that it is against Halacha to deny someone a favour because
they denied us a favour. This is the rule of not taking revenge.

We are similarly instructed to obliterate from our memory the event of being
denied that favour. This is the rule of not bearing a grudge.

We must define what the Halacha instructs us to do in the manner of hating
such people.

We are not permitted to physically attack them or their property but we are
certainly permitted and I believe even commanded to deny them any
assistance. In certain circumstances we are permitted and I believe even
commanded to publicise their behaviour.

We are commanded not to be Chonef (which is often translated as "flattery"
but that fails to accurately capture the scope or the severity of this
prohibition) We are not permitted to show any support in any manner to
someone who has wrongfully hurt a fellow Jew even if that support is not at
all related to the evil that has been perpetrated. This prohibition
according to R Yona must be avoided at all costs even where ones life is

And may I add, as we are in the sad month of Av, Chazal saw the Chanufa of
the Chachamim to Agrippa the king as the cause for the destruction not only
of the Beis HaMikdash but the broader consequences of the Churban. (The
Artscroll English Gemara seems to have inadvertently misinterpreted the
Mishnah of Sotah to blame not the rabbis but the people.)

We are only commanded to assist them in circumstances where their life is in
danger, unless they are a Meissis. I think this is the only circumstance in
which there is a diff between Meissis and other ReShaIm.


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Message: 8
From: "Josh Skolnick" <joshskolnickavodah@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 01:19:41 -0500
Re: [Avodah] being a policeman, fireman


> I must assume that you are referring to EY.
> In chul, I don't know why you refer to 'occasional work on Shabbat' as a
> policeman/fireman as mutar.
> Mordechai cohen


I believe that the volunteer firefighters in our area will respond to a
confirmed fire on the chance that it is Jewish home, and it will be pikuach

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Message: 9
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 16:34:06 +1000
[Avodah] Chasam Sofer zt'l: England is Eretz Yisroel !

This morning someone showed me a Teshuva by the Mahder rav, HaRav Mordechai
Leib Winkler zt'l (one the pre-eminent poskim of pre-war Hungary, baal
mechaber Shaalos U'Teshuvos Levushei Mordechai), quoting the Chasam Sofer
that  England is "me'iyei Eretz Hakodesh"!

Big chiddush to me. 


PS: Scan available upon request.

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Message: 10
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 00:01:55 -0700
[Avodah] Erev Tisha B'Av on Shabbos, when do you take off

The Rama is clear, after Borchu you take your shoes off. This is the
minhag that I remember when I was growing up and none of the acharonim
(MA, Taz, MB comment on this).

However, recently a new minhag which makes a lot of sense has evolved.
People go home after mincha, eat, and then at Tzeis Hakochavim say
boruch hamavdil, take off their shoes, change their clothes and then
go to shul to daven maariv. This seems to work better then the old
minhag of taking off your shoes in shul. The question is, why didn't
the Rama advocate this minhag? One answer is that in the days of the
Rishonim and Acharonim it was hard to get people to come out to shul
at night and therefore if people had gone home they wouldn't return
for maariv. You have to wonder is this really true? Was this the case
in Eastern Europe 100-150 years ago?

Any thoughts on this evolution?

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Message: 11
From: "Moshe Feldman" <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 23:45:54 +0300
[Avodah] [Areivim] Following Aruch HaShulchan over MB

Article in Yeshurun by R. Eitan Henkin at p. 159: both R. Y. E. Henkin
(as reported by many of this talmidim as well as his grandson) and R.
Moshe Feinstein (as reported R. Dovid Cohen of Gevul Yaavetz; see also
Or Hamizrach, year 31, choveres 1, p. 324) said that where there is a
machlokes of AhS and MB, the AhS should be followed.  R. Henkin
considered AhS "the most important of the later poskim."

Shavua tov.
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