Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 10

Mon, 12 Jan 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Jay F Shachter" <j...@m5.chicago.il.us>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 05:29:10 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Answering "Amen" To Various Brakhoth

> One Sunday morning an obviously Sefardi fellow whom I had never seen
> before was davening for the Amud. After a moment or two Rav [Pinxas]
> Teitz stopped him and said, "You can pronounce any word the way you
> want except for HaShem's name.  You cannot say A--nai (that is,
> pronouncing a kamatz as if it were a pasach as some Sefardim
> do.). You must say A--noi (pronouncing the kamatz with an Ashkenaz
> pronunciation.) Your pronunciation is Chol for us and we cannot
> answer Amen.

(Parenthetically -- this is not the reason for my posting -- is there
a reason, other than ignorance, why some people say "pasach", as was
done by the poster quoted above?  I am looking for a way to be "dan
l'khaf zkhuth" on those people, and so far have not found one.)

It is regrettable that R' Pinxas Teitz is no longer alive to defend
himself; perhaps one of his living descendants will speak for him,
because this psaq, assuming it is correctly reported, does not appear
to be well thought-out.  A brakha can be recited in any language that
you understand.  The shliax tzibbur could have recited the entire
prayer service, except for birkath kohanim (which was probably not
done in R' Teitz's synagog), in English.  Now, if you can fulfill your
obligation by listening to a brakha in English, assuming you
understand English and understand what is being said, then surely that
is no worse than listening to a brakha in bad Hebrew, assuming you
understand what is being said.  So there seems to be no reason why R'
Teitz's congregants could not fulfill their obligations by listening
to the brakhoth of a shliax tzibbur who, like, e.g., Rashi, pronounces
the qamatz gadol like a pattax, because surely they understood what
was being said.  And yet, R' Pinxas Teitx, if this story is correctly
reported, publicly embarrassed someone rather than rely on this
normative halakha.

What did R' Pinxas Teitz do (he is, alas, no longer alive to tell us,
but perhaps there are people on this mailing list who witnessed the
event, and can report what, if anything, they witnessed) with the
people who, like my father, say "ello high knee"?  If he ruled that
the Hebrew must be pronounced correctly to be valid, and was even
willing to interrupt someone publicly whose pronunciation, in his
opinion, was incorrect, does that mean that he interrupted publicly
the people who say "ello high knee", rather than allow his
congregants, who surely understood what was being said, to answer
"amen" to such brakhoth?  If not, did he articulate a difference
between this case and the former one?

It is admitted that birkath kohanim, and the xalitza ritual, are
different from brakhoth, because, unlike brakhoth, they must be
performed in Hebrew.  That is why there is an undisputed halakha that
men who do not distinguish between an `ayin and an 'alef are unfit to
perform birkath kohanim (although, if, like many Americans, they do
not mispronounce the 'alef like an `ayin, but only mispronounce the
`ayin like an 'alef, they might possibly be fit to perform birkath
kohanim, since there is no `ayin in birkath kohanim, and thus no
evidence of their inability to pronounce Hebrew correctly; they would
unquestionably be unfit, lkhatxilla, to preside over a xalitza ritual,
since that requires them to say "xalutz hanna`al", although, bdi`avad,
if the recitations of the xalitza ritual are not made, the ritual is
still valid, provided the participants were capable of making the
recitations had they wanted to).

                        Jay F. ("Ya`akov") Shachter
                        6424 N Whipple St
                        Chicago IL  60645-4111

                        "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"

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Message: 2
From: "I. Balbin" <Isaac.Bal...@rmit.edu.au>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 22:37:43 +1100
[Avodah] [Areivim] Answering Amen (Was Brochot at the Chuppa

> Message: 2
> Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2009 18:41:03 -0500
> From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
> Subject: [Areivim] Answering Amen (Was Brochot at the Chuppa
> Since then I am often in doubt when some Israelis or a "real" Sefardi
> daven for the Amud. Should I answer Amen or not? Usually I do not
> answer Amen.

Apart from Rav Ovadya who I am pretty sure has a Tshuva on this, if I  
recall the first Tshuva in Heichal Yitzchak from HaRav Herzog z"l  
discusses this. Rav Herzog can certainly be relied on. Others who  
agree include Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank.  If I recall correctly, Rav  
Shlomo Zalman and Rav Elyashiv and I forget the third person) used to  
go to Rav Herzog every Friday morning for a Chaburah. He was a huge  
Talmid Chacham. Some think that when it's said with a Patach sound  
that it's plural. Others say it's always plural anyway.

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Message: 3
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 13:26:34 GMT
Re: [Avodah] "Ancient" Minhagim

R' Harvey Benton asked:
> I mean no disrespect to your father, but other jewish
> practices and sects have also survived the test of time -
> including xians and karaites.  That doesnt mean they are
> legitimate.  What if chabads errant beliefs and practices
> stand for CV another 100 years?  Would that legitimize them?
> I feel that my original ? still stands - ie what principles,
> halachic or otherwise, do we have to guide us when new
> practices arise?

This question has bothered me for decades, ever since I begin wondering if
I should leave the conservative movement for the orthodox. My conclusion
was that no objective principles exist for this, because if such objective
principles *did* exist, the errant movements would have vanished long ago.

Even more: This applies not only to Jewish practices and sects, but to the
non-Jewish ones as well. Just as none of the "proofs" of G-d's existence
satisfy everyone, so too there is no guaranteed way to prove that an errant
religion or movement or individual is mistaken.

> what principles, halachic or otherwise, do we have to
> guide us when new practices arise?

None. All we have is each individual's responsibility to do his best to
find Truth. Each of us has a different yardstick in this task. Most people
accept what they've received from parents and teachers, and judge the new
things by that standard. A big problem, though, is how to know whether that
received knowledge is valid or not.

R"n Toby Katz wrote:
> My father once commented to me that had he lived at the
> time of the Vilna Gaon, he would never have become a
> chossid.  His basic posture towards anything new was
> similar to that of the Chasam Sofer -- "Chadash assur
> min haTorah." 

With all due respect (and, as one who remembers Rav Bulman from my Ohr
Somayach days, I truly mean that) I really wonder if that's how he would
have felt. If he had lived at the time of the Vilna Gaon, but in an area
that was predominantly Chassidic, and had a Chassidic family, a Chassidic
shul, and a Chassidic school, perhaps he would have thought that it was the
Chassidim who were the faithful and traditional Jews, and that it was the
*Gra* who was bringing a new and objectionable type of Judaism to the

Akiva Miller

Click for online loan, fast & no lender fee, approval today

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 09:49:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] 10 B'Teves on Shabbos

On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 09:31:05AM +0200, Danny Schoemann wrote:
: The popular Zemer of the Ibn Ezra "Ki Eshmro Shabbos" also clearly
: states that we don't fast on Shabbos except for Yom Kipour Avoni.

Thanks for the summary. Just chiming in to vote against this diyuq,
though. A zemer isn't a work of lomdus. Since lemaaseh 10 beTeves can't
happen on Shabbos, it's true that we only fast for Yom Kippur. There is
no reason to assume the IE was saying even hypothetically...

: The Shut Shoel Maishiv (Ed. 1, Vol. 3, OC 179) and the Or Sameach
: (Rambam, Taniyos 5:6) try to reconcile the Abudraham with "everybody
: else", the latter by trying to explain that since 10 B'Tevet falls on
: Friday - and we have to fast until nightfall - so we essentially are
: fasting 10 B'Tevet during part of Shabbos.

As RRW posted. Let me convey my "Barukh shekivanta!"

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
mi...@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: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 10:23:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Chabad on Arba Minim (Baal Tosef?)

On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 07:09:33PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: Not just chassidim.  The rishonim quote customs of taking 68 (gematria
: lulav), 69 (gematria hadas), or 70 (like the parei hachag).  The Tur
: quotes Rav Amram as saying that the custom in his yeshivah was to take
: no fewer than 68 hadassim, and some took up to 70.

Chernoble descended Chassidim (Chernoble, Boston, Tolna, Skver, ... look
for rabbeim named "Twersky") many of the Rtend to have 2 PAIRS of aravos
and 3 SETS OF THREE hadasim. (I mentioned this in Oct, v23n209, in a
discussion of "Lulov Pockets" and the picture on the back of a bayis
sheini period dinar.)

: The Rambam  (Lulav 7:7) encourages adding to the hadassim but rules that
: one may not add to the aravot, but he later changed his mind and allowed
: extra aravot as well...

An argument against the former position... How could there be a machloqes
in which the chachamim require 2 aravos, and R' Aqiva would require
1 -- and thus consider using 2 assur? There would be no way to have a
norm that was okay lekhol hadei'os. And yet, this is a din carried out
by everyone, annually. How would the machloqes sustain itself? Aren't
machloqesin in such dinim (eg order of parshiyos in tefillin) about
which is preferred existing shitos, not where the shitos are mutually
exclusive? Puq chazi! Was there ever an aravos shortage in which knowledge
of the norm(s) was lost?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It is harder to eat the day before Yom Kippur
mi...@aishdas.org        with the proper intent than to fast on Yom
http://www.aishdas.org   Kippur with that intent.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rabbi Israel Salanter

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:01:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Torah Geography & Dream Brachos

On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 04:00:33PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: PS: Another thing which may have confused R Chanina is that the Euphrates
: is the *north-eastern* border of EY.  And as everyone knows, Bavel is on
: the Euphrates.  Therefore it stands to reason that Bavel must be north of
: EY.  The fallacy here is that the Euphrates is a long river, and it flows
: south-west, not south.  The point at which it is one of the borders of EY
: is in its far upper reaches, near Aleppo.

I don't think it was confusion. Rather, one needs to enter an entirely
different worldview. We see the world in terms of maps, and therefore
think geometrically. Without maps, the world becomes more of a network of
relationships. Travel paths between nodes. IOW, the confusion is in the
communication across the centuries; in thinking we mean the same thing
-- we're talking vectors, they're talking travel routes. The disjoin is
not between R' Chanina's description and reality.

To get from EY to Bavel, one would normally travel the Fertile
Cresecent. Thus, the path from EY to Bavel did head NE, as did the chain
of Rosh Chodesh fire signals. And that's what NE would mean to R' Chanina;
not a vector in space.

Along related (but non-identical) lines...
Is Israel SE or NE of the US? The Great Circle shortest path is NE.
Traveling today, we head NE. However, I don't think that's common pesaq
when setting up a shul. I couldn't find historical travel routes from
from Mediterranian to Nort America, to see if the same notion holds.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A life of reaction is a life of slavery,
mi...@aishdas.org        intellectually and spiritually. One must
http://www.aishdas.org   fight for a life of action, not reaction.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            -Rita Mae Brown

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:23:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Halacha: How to prepare if you are going to be

On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 09:29:56PM +0200, Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:
: Lieutenant colonel Rabbi Eyal Krim published the instructions at:
: http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/183953

Along similar lines, I'm attaching two essays from this week's Shabbat
BeShabbato (from the NRP and Machon Zomet).

One is about the limits of the halachic demands of the humanitarian dilemma.
I don't think it goes very far, but I'd like to see us have that

The other is more on topic with RnSLB's post; it's about whether one may
take one's tefillin along if they are called to duty on Shabbos.

Tir'u baTov!

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:33:11 +0200
From: "Shabbat BeShabbato" <shabbat.beshabb...@gmail.com>
To: d...@zomet.org
Subject: Shabbat-B'Shabbato -- Parshat Shemot

Humanitarianism -- How Far must we Go?
Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute

I really had hopes that this week we would be able to return to our
mundane routines and to discuss the "wars of the Jews" with respect to
the elections that are coming so soon (or will they be delayed?). But
this is not to be! The campaign in Azza looms too large, and neither our
heads nor our hearts are free to engage in anything else right now. As
we write these lines, we turn towards the Divine armies which continue
to struggle courageously and valiantly against the audacity of the forces
in Azza, which continue to spew out their terrorist missiles.


Once again we are faced with a humanitarian dilemma, and we must look
at it from the ethical point of view, including our own feelings and
the approach of the Torah. We have discussed this painful subject in
the past, and even though "once it has been written down a Mishna does
not move from its original position," there is room -- together with
my own internal urge -- to discuss it again in the light of current
events. The questions in which we are involved are certainly important
to "humanists" who draw their outlook from the depths of their own
conscience and from accepted ethical and moral codes, as is well known,
"Derech Eretz -- acceptable human behavior -- came before the Torah"
[Tana D'bei Eliyahu 10]. But they are even more vital to wise men of
Torah who are responsible for teaching the message of the Torah and of
Judaism in general, and combining all of this into a way of life.

The classic dilemmas of war and ethics are in the realm of collective
punishment (such as preventing supplies from reaching civilians)
and harming innocent people who are caught up in the fighting. These
questions are relevant and provide a large measure of the media activity
with respect to the war in Azza. It is clear that there are also questions
related to tactical elements such as profitability, since we are always
in need of support and understanding from the world at large, but the
current discussion is at a level of principle and not tactics. In these
matters there is no established halacha -- not in the Rambam or the
Shulchan Aruch, not in the writings of rabbis and authors of responsa
on the subjects of specific scenarios.

It is very easy to gather sources and quotes showing that there is an
"image of G-d" within every human being [Bereishit 1:27], including the
Gentiles, and that it is forbidden to harm any creature, even including
plant life. These statements provide an educational framework and are
halachically binding in a sterile situation, when they are not opposed
by problems of existence, saving lives, or in wartime. Below we give
a small sample of the opposite side: sources from our religion which
emphasize the need to be tough and to act in a cruel way during a war,
while overcoming our natural humanitarian feelings.

Surroundings Which Give Support and Encouragement

The words of the Rambam justifying the revenge of Shimon and Levi on
the entire population of Shechem are widely known: "since Shechem stole
and they saw and knew it but did not punish him." [Hilchot Melachim
9:14]. The question of collective punishment also comes up as a complaint
against Moshe when Korach's community was punished: "If one person sins,
will You then be angry at the whole community?" [Bamidbar 16:22]. But
the Almighty did not pay attention to this rhetorical question. Rather,
in this case we have been taught that "Woe is to an evil person and woe
is to his neighbor" [Rashi, 16:1, based on Bamidbar 12]. From the context
and from the words of the sages we can see that this expression does not
mean to give free reign to the sword such that evil and righteous people
will be killed together. One who looks into the matter will see that the
"neighbor" is punished for active support and for having an influence --
but this is not the right place to expand on this theme.

The Torah writes explicitly about a person who sacrifices his son to the
idol known as the Molech: "And I will pay attention to that man and his
family" [Vayikra 20:5]. "Rabbi Shimon said: How did the family sin? This
teaches you that there in any family with some members who are bandits
all of the people are in effect bandits, because each one provides cover
for the others" [Torat Kohanim, ibid]. The same idea is hinted at in
the previous verse: "and if the people of the land will turn their eyes
away from that man" [20:4]. The punishment is for ignoring the evil,
but this is considered as being as serious as participating in the sin
itself. (See Haamek Davar, written by the Natziv: "they try to save him.")

"There is a Time to Kill... and a Time to Hate" [Kohellet 3:3,8].

The Natziv quotes the above verse in the Torah portion of Noach, when
all of humanity is commanded about the serious crime of spilling blood:
"If one spills blood among mankind, his blood will be spilled" [Bereishit
9:6]. But he precedes this with a comment on the previous verse, that G-d
will demand the punishment for murder, "each man from his brother" [9:5]
-- "The Almighty explains, a man is to be punished at a time when it is
appropriate to show brotherly love, as opposed to a time of war, which
is a time to hate and to kill. And in this case there is no punishment
at all, since this is the way of the world." The Maharal of Prague uses
similar words in justifying the events of Shechem, "This is the way all
wars operate" [Gur Aryeh, Bereishit 34:13].

The Kohen anointed to maintain the morale in a war encourages a fighting
spirit by declaring: "Listen, Yisrael, you are close today to waging
war over your enemies" [Devarim 20:3]. The Mishna gives details of the
order of the day. "This is not like when Yehuda fights Shimon or Shimon
fights Binyamin, such that if you fall into their hands they will have
pity on you... You are going to meet your enemies, who will not have any
mercy if you fall into their hands... Do not have any fear." [Mishna
Sotta 8:1]. What is the message of the Chief Chaplain of the IDF if
not an attempt to spread a feeling against exaggerated mercy? This also
corresponds to the words of the Ramban, "He who is naturally righteous
among the people should put on a face of cruelty and anger when he goes
out to fight the enemy." [commentary on Devarim 23:10]. The Torah warns
the soldiers against their natural instincts by telling them "to guard
against all evil things" [23:10] in the realm of illicit sex and "cover
over your wastes." [23:14]. But it has nothing to say about suppressing
the natural tendency towards cruelty and anger. I submit that this is
quite remarkable!

(Some of the quotes above were taken from an article by Rabbi Meir Batist,
"Collective Punishment," Techumin volume 12, page 229.)

Taking Tefillin along on Shabbat
Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel

Question: If a soldier is drafted on Shabbat in an emergency (or if he
is sent on Shabbat for combat duty which may continue for more than one
day), is he allowed to take along Tefillin to be used later in the week?

Answer: Three factors are involved in the answer to this question: (1) Are
Tefillin considered "muktzeh" -- not to be touched or moved on Shabbat;
(2) The prohibition on Shabbat of making preparations for the weekday;
(3) The Shabbat prohibition of carrying an object beyond the boundaries
of private property.


The Talmud states that "Shabbat is not a time for Tefillin" [Eiruvin 95b]
but it doesn't explicitly prohibit putting them on during Shabbat. The
violation is explained by the Tosafot (Sanhedrin 68a) as being based
on a fear that they will be carried outside. However, the Zohar quoted
by the Beit Yosef (31) notes that Rashbi says that there is a specific
prohibition of wearing Tefillin on Shabbat or a holiday. This would seem
to imply that wearing Tefillin is a violation of the laws of muktzeh,
since by putting them on one is making use of an object whose use is
forbidden on Shabbat.

On the other hand, the RAMA writes explicitly that Tefillin are considered
an object which can be used on Shabbat (308), so that they can be moved
even if the Tefillin themselves or their place is not needed for another
purpose. TAZ and Magen Avraham question this, based on the ruling of the
Shulchan Aruch following the Zohar (see above), who states that wearing
Tefillin is prohibited, and that therefore the Tefillin themselves are
muktzeh (31). The Mishna Berura rules that in a case of emergency one
can follow the RAMA and be lenient. Thus, in the case of our question
about a soldier, which is clearly an emergency situation, one can rely
on the RAMA and not consider the Tefillin as being muktzeh.

Preparing on Shabbat for a Weekday

The prohibition of preparing for a weekday is relevant even when the
preparation is needed in order to perform a mitzva (Shulchan Aruch 667).
However, the Chayei Adam allows bringing wine on one day of a holiday
for the second day in an emergency, on condition that it be brought
while it is still daytime (such that the wine could conceivably be
used on the first day). This approach is based on the fact that the
prohibition of preparing for a mitzva is a secondary violation. The
Mishna Berura agrees with this approach (7), adding that Tefillin are
needed on Shabbat to provide protection from demons. Based on this,
Rabbi Shlomo Goren ruled that one can take Tefillin with him on Shabbat
(Meishiv Milchama volume 2,71). In my humble opinion, we can add that
the fact that a soldier knows he has his Tefillin with him will help
calm him down before he enters a battle. Thus, we conclude that we can
be lenient with respect to the laws of preparing for a weekday on Shabbat.

Carrying Outside of a Private Area

The third problem with respect to taking Tefillin is moving them from a
private area ("rashut hayachid") to a public area ("rashut harabim") --
or to what is termed a "karmelit," which has properties of both kinds of
area. In the case we are considering, the Tefillin are carried together
with other objects which one is permitted to carry because of a mortal
danger, and the Tefillin are a burden that has been added on to the
permitted one.

The early rabbis disagreed whether an increased load of this type is
prohibited by Torah law or only as a rabbinical decree. The RAN feels that
it is a Torah prohibition (commentary on the RIF, tractate of Beitza),
while the Rashba feels that it is merely a rabbinical decree. One may
then ask if we can be lenient according to the Rashba in the area of a
karmelit, since the entire prohibition of carrying in a karmelit is only
a rabbinical decree in itself. The Chafetz Chaim permitted soldiers to
carry in a karmelit, following the approach of the Rashba, and suggested
that even according to the RAN one can be lenient in areas that are
prohibited only by rabbinical decree (this should be studied further,
since the Mishna Berura accepts the ruling of the RAN, see 318:13).

Recent rabbis have questioned the approach of the Chafetz Chaim, based
on a Baraita which states that one who carries both food and a dish on
Shabbat must bring two Chatat sacrifices to atone for the sin, implying
that adding a heavier load is a Torah prohibition. However, Rabbi Tzvi
Pesach Frank, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, differentiated between a case
of mortal danger, when adding to the load is not prohibited by the Torah,
and a case where the carrying is forbidden, when an added load is indeed
considered separately.


During a time of war, the mitzva of Tefillin has very special
significance, since one can return from the battlefield because of it,
and we pray that it will be the instrument for fulfilling the verse, "and
he will devour the arm and the forhead" [Devarim 33:20] (as interpreted
by the ROSH). One may therefore be lenient and take his Tefillin, based on
all three elements discussed above: muktzeh, preparation for the weekday,
and carrying from one type of area to another (adding these to other
reasons for being lenient).

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:30:40 -0500
Re: [Avodah] maps

On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 5:38am EST, Rich, R Joel wrote:
: Does anyone dispute this position? If not, how is it explained by those
: who hold the no errors in mesora theory, that the mesora (our
: forefathers lived there) was lost?

I mentioned a number of times in the past my take on RDLifshitz's position
on kinim ein lahem piryah verivyah. That the beitzim have no halachic
mamashus, being invisibly small, and the visible goreim that allowed it
to grow to visible size was the meat.

I think my recent post (written before I got to this post by RJR) takes
a similar approach to this question. We think scientifically, products
of being moderns. We therefore take the notion of whether or not maggots
lay egges or whether Bavel is to the NE as objective statements of
what's actually out there. However, Chazal were more concerned with the
subjective, how we relate to what's out there.

And just as RDL managed to provide meaning to Chazal's statement even
with today's science, my answer inadvertantly reflects an answer to
RJR's question as well. R' Chanina wasn't wrong, he was speaking of
the travel route leaving Israel being NE.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "The worst thing that can happen to a
mi...@aishdas.org        person is to remain asleep and untamed."
http://www.aishdas.org          - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 9
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:22:32 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Torah Geography & Dream Brachos

Micha Berger wrote:

> I don't think it was confusion. Rather, one needs to enter an entirely
> different worldview. We see the world in terms of maps, and therefore
> think geometrically. Without maps, the world becomes more of a network of
> relationships. Travel paths between nodes. IOW, the confusion is in the
> communication across the centuries; in thinking we mean the same thing
> -- we're talking vectors, they're talking travel routes. The disjoin is
> not between R' Chanina's description and reality.
> To get from EY to Bavel, one would normally travel the Fertile
> Cresecent. Thus, the path from EY to Bavel did head NE, as did the chain
> of Rosh Chodesh fire signals. And that's what NE would mean to R' Chanina;
> not a vector in space.

I already covered this.  R Chanina reasoned that since the pasuk says
Bavel is north of EY it followed that EY must be south of Bavel, and
that's how Bavlim should face in prayer.  But if direction was to be
determined by the route one would take to EY, then that reasoning flies
out the window; and R Chanina was certainly wrong, because in that sense
Bavel and EY are *both* north of each other.  The route from EY to Bavel
heads north, but so does the route from Bavel to EY.

> Along related (but non-identical) lines...
> Is Israel SE or NE of the US? The Great Circle shortest path is NE.
> Traveling today, we head NE. However, I don't think that's common pesaq
> when setting up a shul.

It seems to me that this is just ignorance.  I can't think of any
justification for using a rhumb line, which is merely an artifact of
a particular method of navigation.  Either face NE, or towards the
highway that you would take to the nearest airport.

Zev Sero                    A mathemetician is a device for turning coffee
z...@sero.name               into theorems.                   - Paul Erdos

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Message: 10
From: "Doron Beckerman" <beck...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 19:18:10 +0200
Re: [Avodah] 10th of Teves on Shabbos

The Avudraham does indeed state that even if it would fall on Shabbos we
would fast becasue of B'etzem Hayom Hazeh. The Ohr Sameach to Hilchos
Taaniyos 5 has a fascinating source for this from Eruvin 40b, where the
Gemara has a Safek about a Bar Bei Rav who is fasting on Friday, whether he
should complete it. The question is why the Gemara had no such Safek
regarding a Taans Tzibbur, and the OS answers that during the time of the
Amoraim Kidush Hachodesh was Al Pi Cheshbon, and the only Taanis Tzibur that
can fall out on Friday is Asarah B'teves. Since one would fast Asarah
B'teves even on Shabbos, there was no question that one would be Mashlim it
from Friday into Shabbos.

The Sevaros for the Avudraham revolve around the allowance for Taanis Chalom
on Shabbos. See Chasam Sofer in his Drush to 7 Adar (Yom Din on Binyan Beis
Hamikdash in the future), R' Chaim (stencil Simman 44 - it has to be fasted
today), and the Ohr Sameach there (only Assur D'oraysa if fasting MeEis
L'eis, and the B'etzem... of the Avudraham is just to distinguish it from
Tzom Gedalia and 17 Tammuz; Tisha B'Av would be Assur MiDeorysa).

[All the above taken from recently published Sefer Minchas Aharon on
Taaniyos Tzibbur]
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Message: 11
From: "Eli Turkel" <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 21:05:53 +0200
[Avodah] new customs

In the Bar Ilan parsha sheet ob Vayechi, R. Daniel Sperber points out that the
custom of blessing ones children and citing the blessing of
Ephraim and Menashe first appears in the siddur of R. Yaakov Emden.
Furthermore the custom of some to use only one hand when blessing the children
only has a mystic support of not combining mercy and justice. The story that the
Vilna Gaon blessed the Nodah BeYehuda is based on a mistake. A contemporary
brings that this happened because the Gaon's hand was dirty and Nodah BeYehuda
didn't want his shtreimel dirtied. Later in life he regreted caring
more about the shteimel
then having the Gaon put 2 hands on his head in the blessing

Eli Turkel

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Message: 12
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 15:03:33 -0500
Re: [Avodah] psak halacha

On Fri, Jan 09, 2009 at 8:54am EST, Rich, R Joel wrote:
: [R' Eli Turkel:]
:> BTW we once had a discussion of a automatic psak computer. Such a
:> computer of course could not account for such extra-halachic issues

: I think I would disagree in theory in 99% of the cases- just need a bigger
: computer and better fuzzy logic/AI programmers and poskim who can detail
: how they reach a decision. Of course it's hard to detail how you would react
: to a black swan.

To explain the reference...

Inductive reasoning is imperfect. You see a swan, it's white. And another,
it's white. And another and another... At some point you conclude that
all swans are white. Now, what do you do when you encounter your first
black swan?

I'm not sure pesaq has much role for inductive reasoning. Perhaps qal
vachomer, to establish the chomer, we would say "if X is stricter in ways
A, B, C and D, it is obviously stricter in general". Induction over cases
is called chazaqah disvarah, and we have rules limiting its authority. In
short, I'm not sure "black swans" really poses a major issue.

On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 8:08am IST, R Eli Turkel replied:
: If the psak depends on the community then the computer would have to
: account for that.
: AFAIK fuzzy logic relies on probability and so one has a probabilistic psak.

Fuzzy Logic (FL) isn't statistic. I don't think the difference matters
to our discussion, but since it was raised...

FL isn't about the chance that someone is tall (for example). Rather, it's
about the intensity of membership to a set. Some people are definitely
tall. Some shades of color are definitely red. However, others are only
somewhat tall or red. FL is about logic involving claims about membership
in sets with fuzzy edges, gray area.

The odds that the next coin you flip lands heads is 1/2. The odds that
the next card you pick is hearts is 1/8. Since the two are uncorrelated
events, the probability that the next coin lands heads AND the next card
is a heart is 1/8. Statistical AND of two unrelated facts is computed
by multiplying.

In FL, though, AND is performed using a MIN. It's not about stats, so
correlated vs uncorrelated is a non-issue. A man who is .8 tall and .6
red-headed has a .6 membership in the class of tall red-heads.

: Obviously these are 2 poskim with different attitudes to including the
: general populace
: and not just rabbonim or even shomrei mitzvot in dancing with the torah.
: How could one put that into a computer program?

On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 5:34am EST, RJR answered:
: The same way a preference towards needs of the tzibbur vs. individual
: etc. - I assume this would be one of a number of variables that would
: need to be adjustable to mimic any particular posek.

Yes. In a fuzzy or statistical, or any other multivalent system.
(Multivalent: having multiple values; typically between "true" and
"false".) If the weighing of factors can be done algorithmically, then
all of these can "simply" be settings you put into the system.

However, I don't personally believe that "if". I believe there are
problems solvable by true intelligence that can't simply be solved by
getting "a bigger computer and better fuzzy logic/AI programmers".

This is a matter of major debate, is true AI possible? I personally do
not believe that it's possible on a computer. And therefore I have room
to believe in a process that a rav can do that AI can not.

(My own beliefs are based on The Chinese Room thought experiment of
John Searle: http://www.consciousentities.com/stories.htm#chineseroom
My experience having qualia
and the notion of koach hadimyon

(I believe that the first-hand experience of thought, that reflective
self-awareness, is what Unqelus means by "ru'ach memalela". It's not
that man can speak, it's that we think in speech, we can hear and see
our thoughts, think about thinking, and modify our thought in response.
That's the topic of that third link.)

Assuming a computer can't do AI...

How important something is could very well not be something reducible to
numbers and compared. It could be an issue of semantics, not symbols
and algebra.

This impossibility is what I meant when I called pesaq a creative
process. Not just that different settings would produce different
answers, but that it can't be reduced to any objective system, including
any algorithm.

On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 10:06pm EST, R Richard Wolpoe wrote:
: I wouldn't want a computer to spit out a psak.
: but I would like it to present the relvant factoids related to a p'sak

: For example the Abudarham's point re: 10th of Teves has been rejected by the
: BY.  That fact must be noted. It's not jsut that Rashi and Rambam ot
: Abuarhma, it's that the BY sets it aside himself!

: The various postings omitted this factoid, and are somehow rehabilitating
: the Abudarham as something more than what apperas to be a patently rejected
: da'as yachid.  A computer wouldn't do that.

OTOH, it might. It depends whether the common acceptance of the idea
offsets its being a daas yachid explicitly rejected by the BY. How the
dials are set on RJR's program.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
mi...@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Message: 13
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 15:33:28 -0500
Re: [Avodah] psak halacha


However, I don't personally believe that "if". I believe there are
problems solvable by true intelligence that can't simply be solved by
getting "a bigger computer and better fuzzy logic/AI programmers".

This is a matter of major debate, is true AI possible? I personally do
not believe that it's possible on a computer. And therefore I have room
to believe in a process that a rav can do that AI can not.

Understood.  In your construct , do you see a possible inherent
randomness element in psak?
Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
strictly prohibited.  If you received this message in error, please notify us 
immediately by replying: "Received in error" and delete the message.  
Thank you.

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Message: 14
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 16:04:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] psak halacha

On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 03:33:28PM -0500, Rich, Joel wrote:
: Understood.  In your construct , do you see a possible inherent
: randomness element in psak?

No, not random. Creative.

A process based on meaning and qualia (the experience of experiencing)
rather than algorithms that manipulate symbols and networks of tokens.

Let me quote the example I gave in the blog entry I point to earlier:
    By my own experience, conscious thought happens two ways: the internal
    monologue we call a "stream of consciousness", and by setting up
    thought-experiments to run through. For example, there are two ways
    to think through the question "Does an elephant have hair?"

    Streams of consciousness, hereafter seikhel (for reasons that will
    become evident later), are a common tool of an author's trade because
    it's thought in the form of words. A solution based on this mode of
    thought might run something like this: Elephants are mammals, all
    mammals have hair, and so unless elephants are the exception to the
    rule, they must have hair. Elephants are well known and discussed
    animals. Could they be an exception to the rule and I don't know
    it? Nah, they must have hair.

    On the other hand, when I someone, and realize he has red hair,
    I don't simply pick up another fact about the person, I have the
    experience of seeing red hair. I can remember and reproduce the image
    of him and his red hair in my mind. The knowledge isn't reducable
    to words, it involves qualia, attributes of internal experience. And
    when I imagine what he would look like with black hair, I manipulate
    an image, not simply reason with concepts reducible into the words of
    my seikhel. There is a shared feature to seeing and hearing something
    when it happened, remembering the event, and imagining what the event
    would be like. When I remember my son's face, I do not simply remember
    facts about it translatable into my seikhel, the flow of words in
    my head. I actually recreate the experience of seeing it. When I
    remember last Yom Kippur's Kol Nidrei, I reproduce the experience
    of hearing the Chazan sing it, the congregation singing along.

    This is the "koach hadimyon", "the ability to make likenesses".
    It is usually translated as "imagination", but this translation
    is anachronistic -- the word "imagination" changed meaning since
    first coined by Aristotilians (such as the Rambam). Dimyon is the
    laboratory of my thought experiments.

    Solving the elephant problem through dimyon, you can remember
    elephants you saw, or saw pictures of. The detail may be blurry,
    so you may have to manipulate the picture a bit. Finally, a version
    of the picture which has a tuft of hair at the tail, maybe (if your
    memory is good) some downy hair around the eyes and ears, strikes
    you as the most familiar, the most real. And again you could reach
    the conclusion that elephants have hair.

What I'm arguing is that while I'm not sure one way or another whether
the internal monolog could be reduced to software, koach hadimyon can
not. And besides, the two interplay to create a single mind; so one
without the either isn't really the same kind of internal monolog

Yes, the result will be somewhat subjective. Meaning is a product of
my encounter with the world. When I see red, I might have associations
with some memory of someone bleeding that another person would not.
But then, so should my trek up har Hashem reflect my personal kishronos
and netiyos. As well as the state of the community, as my participation
in the community is a huge part of it. How I proceed from where I am and
we are to the ideal is obviously a function of where I am and where we
as a community are..

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When memories exceed dreams,
mi...@aishdas.org        The end is near.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - Rav Moshe Sherer
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 15
From: Harvey Benton <harveyben...@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 12:50:19 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] Din Moser

I heard (second hand) that a big Rov and Dayan in my town recently spoke in
front of a number of people and told them that a certain person had the din
of a moser.? The Rov (allegedly) said that it was a clear-cut case in SA,
that he was chayav mitah, and that if he had been living in New York, he
would be dead already.? 

I was quite taken back when I heard this and wondered:? 1. Why would the
Rov tell that to a group of people?? If in fact he holds that way (I heard
it being told over in the presence of the Rabbi of my shul) then why
advertise it?? If a hothead acted on it, would blood, CV, be on the
Rov/Dayan's head?? 2.? I do not know if the Rov consulted with any other
Dayanim, but wouldn't at a minimum a Beis Din of 3 be necessary for
 such a life and death
 pronouncment?? 3.? We do not have a Sanhedrin nowadays that can pasken on
 such serious issues: why and to what lengths did the Chachamim empower
 post-Sanhedrin authorities to decide on things like this?? 4. Should such
 pronouncements be discouraged, in light of the fact that Yigal Amir's
 assasination of Yitzchak Rabin was possibly at the least, fueled by such
 din moser talk?? HB
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