Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 131

Fri, 10 Jul 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 18:26:50 -0400
[Avodah] Tzeni'us and gender roles

The topic arose on Areivim. I brought up a Torah topic there, but since
I didn't say anything I didn't say here before, I didn't think it would
turn into a thread in its own right, and therefore could stay on Areivim.

I was wrong. So, here's what I said on Areivim on this topic so far.

RYLevine raised the example of a woman who teaches Torah in public, and
in the general conversation asked:
: Is causing a stir now equated to not being Tznius? ...

Actually, I think by definition. Tzeni'us is more about avoiding the
spotlight than sexuality.

Someone may have overriding reasons, such as an ability to motivate
people. But taking the podium is to my mind is textbook a violation of
tzeni'us. Whether a woman, a rav giving his Shabbos morning derashah,
or a chazan.

To which R Daniel Israel <d...@hushmail.com> added:
> And given this understanding, the dynamics of women's roles becomes
> completely different. Not that this won't sound like apologetics to
> women who are not happy with the halacha.

> Men also have to be tznius. The difference is that they are chayiv in
> certain mitzvos that require public spotlight. So a man has no choice
> but to get an aliya, or to be a shaliach tzibur, or a Rav (assuming he
> is the community's choice). If men have the attitude, "Wow, look at me
> everyone, I am getting big time kavod," then women who absorb this message
> will feel excluded. However, if men have the attitude (which I admit is
> a challenge to cultivate), "Oy li, that I have to put aside my tznius for
> the sake of the community need, if only I could sit quietly in a corner,"
> then perhaps women will start to appreciate the advantage they have.

Rn Rena added:
}  This is the best written explanation I have seen on the subject. And no, it
} certainly doesn't sound like apologetics. Kol HaKavod.

My A/A border crossing post in reply was:

In fact, that understanding of tzeni'us and why women who seek a greater
role in shul are misguided is one I got from R' Herschel Schachter. We
discussed it on Avodah several times.

Eg, see his essay at

A woman shouldn't want to be chazan. For that matter, a man shouldn't
either, which is why we're supposed to decline the first couple of times
the gabbai asked. In practice, it makes for a miserable gabbai, so I
usually ignore this halakhah. Halevai that were one of my larger chataim.

In any case, the goal of empowerment is often in direct conflict with
the ideal of tzeni'us.

To quote from the above URL:
    Part of our obligation of v'holachto b'drachav, to imitate G-d, i.e.
    to preserve and maintain those divine attributes that were implanted
    within us, requires of us to lead private lives; not to be seeking
    the limelight; not to be loud in speech, in dress, or in action.
    Hakadosh Baruch Hu is described by the Navi Yehsaya as a "kel
    mistater". He hides from man (see Nefesh Harav pg. 281).

    This concept is what is called tsnius; to lead a life of tsin'a -
    as opposed to a life of farhesia (public). Sometimes the Torah
    requires of us to compromise on our tsnius and to do things in a
    public fashion. We need a government; we need kohanim sacrificing
    korbanot in the Beis Hamikdosh; we must have tefilla b'tsibbur. Even
    when we are required to compromise on our middas hatsnius (privacy)
    and enter the public eye, the halacha tells us that som tasim alecha
    melech - melech v'lo malka, that women should always try to maintain
    their privacy. Let the men run the government. Let the men offer the
    korbanot in the Temple. Let the men serve as chazzan for the public
    prayer, and let the men read from the Torah in public. If we simply
    do not have any other choice, we would call upon women to run the
    government and read from the Torah. But if a woman were to run the
    government or read from the Torah, this would indicate that we had
    no choice in the matter, that from all of the men present we were
    unable to get enough of them to take care of these activities. This
    creates a problem of kavod hatzibbur.

    The motivation to allow women to get aliyot is not because we
    don't have enough men to do the job. Some women are looking for
    empowerment. Receiving an aliyah which was traditionally viewed as
    an act of compromising on one's privacy, has been looked upon by
    the amei ha'aretz as an act of empowerment. Pushy individuals try to
    "grab the omud" and "grab maftir" whenever possible. This attitude
    is in outright violation of the entire principle of tsnius. Hakadosh
    Baruch Hu is a Kel Mistater, and always tries to be maalim Himself.
    Why should we even consider giving someone an aliyah for the sake of
    empowering that individual if this attitude is totally contradictory
    to our whole outlook on life?

On Thu, Jul 09, 2009 at 01:17:50PM -0700, Ilana Sober Elzufon wrote:
> So in theory, people should bid large sums of money NOT to be honoured
> with aliyot on Yom Tov?

> You present an ideal in which men reluctantly relinquish their tznius
> to perform public roles - a sacrifice not expected from women. In
> reality, men are generally eager to relinquish their tznius, so it is
> not surprising that women also do not live up to the ideal.

(To which I answered something in incredibly poor, downright Yoda-like,
grammar, so I'm rewriting.)

I would agree that it's "not surprising".

But that doesn't make it right. And certainly not right enough to warrant
changing major facets of our culture to accomodate.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "I think, therefore I am." - Renne Descartes
mi...@aishdas.org        "I am thought about, therefore I am -
http://www.aishdas.org   my existence depends upon the thought of a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      Supreme Being Who thinks me." - R' SR Hirsch

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Message: 2
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 14:18:36 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Challenge: Finding Spirituality w/o Qabbalah

> My friend's thesis is that Judaism w/o Qabbalah or Hassidus is mechanical
> and lifeless.
> And so he challenged me as follows: To List aspects of Jewish Spirituality
> that were devoid of Qaballah or Hassidus.
> R' Rich Wolpoe

Err...Tanakh? Midrash? Somehow, plenty seem to have been spiritual
invigorated by loving their fellow man as someone created in G-d's
image, and plenty have found sufficient spirituality in molding this
world and our activities according to G-d's will. Plus, there's always
prayer - see the Kuzari's emphasis on prayer and prophecy. So we have
the mitzvot bein adam l'havero and the mitzvot bein adam la'makom. Is
this not enough? I understand that Qabbalah and Hassidut can
supplement all this, but how can one view them as indispensable? I
read someone reviewing a book by R' Yitzhak Breuer: she noted (based
on a personal meeting with him) that even though he did not believe in
Qabbalah (except as a symbolic philosophy that he used only when it
was convenient for his purposes), he still seemed to be a very
spiritual individual, for whom the mitzvot and serving G-d were quite

I'm actually rather insulted, if not incensed, when people say to me
that they don't understand how I can be spiritual without Qabbalah.
The answer is that for me, the traditional sources of Judaism (Tanakh
and Hazal) are sufficient.

Michael Makovi

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Message: 3
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 15:58:55 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Challenge: Finding Spirituality w/o Qabbalah

R' Rich Wolpoe wrote:

> My friend's thesis is that Judaism w/o Qabbalah or Hassidus
> is mechanical and lifeless. And so he challenged me as
> follows: To List aspects of Jewish Spirituality that were
> devoid of Qaballah or Hassidus.

What do you (or he) mean by "Jewish Spirituality"?

I love saying Kiddush on Friday night. It truly makes me feel a deep
connection to the Creator, and it is the high point of my week. Is this not
Jewish Spirituality?

Any reading of history -- be it in Tanach or even in our daily lives --
which shows me how HaShem is "pulling the strings" and sending things and
people to their destiny, is to me a demonstration of the relationship
between the spiritual world and the physical world. Does that count?

If we believe that Mitzvos Bein Adam L'chaveiro are not merely to keep
society orderly and liveable, but are also part of the Divine Law and are
simultaneously Bein Adam L'Makom, then doesn't one feel spirituality in
simply saying "Hello" to one's friend? And kal vachomer when one puts some
effort into a more difficult mitzva, like avoiding Lashon Hara or avoiding
a grudge?

If we were in a world devoid of Kabalah and devoid of Chasidus, would these
things be mere rote actions? Would they simply be facets of our "religion"?
I sure hope not. Rather, they would still be vehicles for raising our
spirituality, wouldn't they?

On the other hand, I must loudly agree with the comment of R' Simon Montagu, who wrote:

> Discussions of this kind inevitably degenerate
> into the "no true Scotsman" argument
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman.

Indeed, we've experienced this exact phenomenon here whenever anyone has
offered their opinion of what counts as a "left-winger" or "right-winger".
I strongly suspect that RSM's prediction will be proven correct, when
someone cites the examples I gave above, and responds with, "That's not
what I mean by spirituality."

Akiva Miller

Save on a  home Heating and Cooling System. Click Now!

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Message: 4
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 14:25:32 -0700
[Avodah] rmf/eruvin


on whether  RMF  would  have  protested others  making eruvin where he 

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Message: 5
From: "Daniel Israel" <d...@hushmail.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 15:52:00 -0600
[Avodah] Power assist doors on Shabbos

Does anyone know how power assist doors work, and whether they can 
be used on Shabbos?  I'm talking about the kind of door one often 
finds in nursing homes and other public places that can be swung 
open like regular doors, but there is also a button on the side of 
the doorway which can be used to cause the door to open 

In my experience, if one pulls on such doors gently and not all the 
way open, the power assist does not kick in.  Does anyone know if 
it is permissible to open such a door (not using the button).  Does 
it matter if the power-assist kicks on or not?


P.S. A more general question: answering these types of shailos 
requires understanding both the halacha and the technology.  In 
E"Y, I know Machom Tzomet specializes in this sort of thing.  Is 
there anywhere in chu"l doing comparable work?

Daniel M. Israel

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Message: 6
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 22:42:48 +0000
[Avodah] Challenge: Finding Spirituality w/o Qabbalah

I once posted that the emes from Torah and from science by definition
cannot be in conflict because they both emenate from the same CREATOR.
(I hope that is not an emes Scotsman fallacy!  :-)

Same for nigleh and nistar. Aiui Rema says something similar and R
Eliyahu Touger says it befeirush re: science and torah in his intro to
Hil. Yesodei Hattorah...


Esp. Tanna devei Eliyahu

Esp. Tehiilim shir hahsirim and Iyyov
And all of the shirim
(EG Az yashir, ha'azinu)

8 praqqim
Most of sefer mada
Moreh Nevuchim

Hovos Halevevos


Note: Qallir might have used Qabbalah, so we might exclude his stuff.

Also Chasam Sofer apparently says that Ibn Ezra's tzam'ah nafshi is al
pi Qabbalah but I see that in a non-literal way as if to say it dovetails
with Qabbalah

Most Zemiros Shabbos are in that same vein.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 20:44:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Challenge: Finding Spirituality w/o Qabbalah

I think the problem is that we don't agree on either "finding" or

I was saying there are many sefarim that define and discuss
spirituality, but few that tell you how to find it -- and not that many
aren't based on qabbalah.

Whether Chovos haLvavos has enough how-to orientation to qualify is a
second discussion, and more one of personal taste in shiurim -- so not a
very interesting discussion.

Further down I have some formal definitions of "spirituality", but to
men here's what it means in a Jewish context:
    An orientation where one is focused on man's higher calling, the one
    Hashem made us for.

As I see it, this is the point of contemplating yom hamisah. Remembering
what's really important and focusing on it. In today's mileau, where
people can't handle the stick, only the carrot, here's a usable variant,
suggested by Stephen Covey:

    Picture your own funeral. Who attends? Who is sitting where? Who
    cares enough to help out? What do members of the family say to
    each other? Your friends?

    Picture four hespeidim. Who is giving them? What are they saying?
    What do you want them to be saying? My own addition: What do you
    think HQBH wants them to be saying?

Take time to really visualize this. Take notes for later reference.
Really picture out the entire scene so that it becomes emotionally
etched into your heart.

That's your ultimate goal; to the best of your understanding, what
Hashem yisbarach wants out of your life. Know it. Keep it in mind.
It may be easy to subdivide into short-term goals, it may be difficult.
Particularly, when making a decision, keep those goals and the steps to
get to them in mind. Even if it's just deciding whether to have a salad
or "comfort food" for lunch, see how the pros and cons tie back to that
ultimate question.

(Like in business management theory, where everything is supposed to be
able to be tied back to the mission statement.)

That, to me, is spirituality. Particularly since it's the neshamah which
is aware of our higher calling, which provides the counterbalance to our
taavos when making a decision.

I think that RSShkop would call it "qedushah". To quote my translation
of his haqdamah to Shaarei Yosher:
    So too His Will is that we walk in His ways. As it says "and you shall
    walk in His Ways" -- that we, the select of what He made -- should
    constantly hold as our purpose to sanctify our physical and spiritual
    powers for the good of the many, according to our abilities.'
    And so, it appears to my limited thought that this mitzvah includes
    the entire foundation and root of the purpose of our lives. All
    of our work and effort should constantly be sanctified to doing
    good for the community. We should not use any act, movement, or
    get benefit or enjoyment that doesn't have in it some element of
    helping another. And as understood, all holiness is being set apart
    for an honorable purpose -- which is that a person straightens his
    path and strives constantly to make his lifestyle dedicated to the
    community. Then, anything he does even for himself, for the health of
    his body and soul he also associates to the mitzvah of being holy,
    for through this he can also do good for the masses. Through the
    good he does for himself he can do good for the many who rely on
    him. But if he derives benefit from some kind of permissible thing
    that isn't needed for the health of his body and soul, that benefit
    is in opposition to holiness. For in this he is benefiting himself
    (for that moment as it seems to him), but no one else.

    In this way, the concept of separation is an aspect of the underlying
    basis of the mitzvah of holiness, which is recognizable in practice
    in the ways a person acts. But with insight and the calling of
    spirituality this mitzvah broadens to include everything a person
    causes or does even between him and the Omnipresent. In relation to
    this, this holiness is comparable to the Holiness of the Creator
    in whatever little similarity. Just as the Act of the Holy One in
    all of creation, and in each and every moment that He continues to
    cause the universe to exist, all His actions are sanctified to the
    good of others, so too it is His Will that our actions be constantly
    sanctified to the good of the community, and not personal benefit.

So, li nir'eh spirituality is qedushah, to stay separated for the purpose
of the spiritual goal, the soul's calling, the Image of G-d, what HQBH
made us to be.

Anything that could teach me how to do that would be a means of "finding
spirituality". Notice there is nothing mystical in that. It could be
mussar, it could be Horeb. The Seifer haYetzirah, not so much -- even
if I had any hope of understanding what it's getting at, it would tell
me more about what the ideal is, but not how to find it.

 -- Now for the dictionary entries:

Wikipdeia on "spirituality":
    Spirituality is matters of the spirit, a concept often but not
    necessarily tied to to a spirit world, a multidimensional reality and
    one or more deities. Spiritual matters regard humankind's ultimate
    nature and purpose, not as material biological organisms, but as
    spirits or energy with an eternal relationship beyond the bodily
    senses, time and the material world.

American Heritage:
   1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit;
      not tangible or material. See synonyms at immaterial.
   2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
   3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
   4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
   5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

   1. [music reference deleted]
   2. Religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical matters. Often used in
      the plural.

Merriam Webster:
     1: something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or
        to a cleric as such
     2: clergy
     3: sensitivity or attachment to religious values
     4: the quality or state of being spiritual

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
mi...@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Message: 8
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 00:20:50 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Challenge: Finding Spirituality w/o Qabbalah

From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
>>My friend's thesis is that  Judaism w/o Qabbalah or Hassidus is mechanical
and lifeless.

And so he  challenged me as follows: To List aspects of Jewish Spirituality
that were  devoid of Qaballah or Hassidus.

I came up with my own list.

Any  other takers out there?<<

I don't know about a "list" but Sefer Tehillim and Shir Hashirim would  
seem to negate your friend's thesis.  Are these dry and "lifeless" halachic  
tomes?  Not spiritual?  Devoid of love, simcha, yearning and  inspiration?
--Toby  Katz

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Message: 9
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 23:25:15 EDT
Re: [Avodah] "All Men and Women are Created Equal in the Eyes


On Sun, Jul 05, 2009, Cantor Wolberg wrote:
:       When the daughters of Tzelafchad heard that the land  was  
: being divided by tribes and that daughters were not included,  they  
: gathered together to take counsel, and they said: "Not as the  mercies  
: of flesh and blood are those of the Holy One Blessed be He.  The  
: mercies of flesh and blood are greater for males than for  females, but  
: the mercies of the Holy One Blessed be He are  (equivalent) for all, as  
: it is written (Psalms 145:9): And His  mercies are over all His  
: works" (Sifrei)...

RMB asked:   >>Can someone explain this Sifrei in light of the general 
ethic of  "women
and children first" (eg the lifeboats on the  Titanic)?<<

Despite a few western countries in recent centuries having a notion of  
chivalry, most cultures for most of history favored men in Titanic-type  
situations and would give precedence to a man's life over a woman's life.   It's 
my impression that this is still true today in Arab, African and Asian  
societies, except where western influence has changed the old cultures.   And 
actually /even/ in western societies the notion of "woman and children  first" 
has been thrown overboard (so to speak) in recent decades for the  
paradoxical reason that feminists object to any distinction being made between  men 
and women.  One woman too many took umbrage at having a door held open  for 
her, and "women and children first" went into the dustbin of history.   Sorry 
for the mixed metaphors.

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 10
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 00:11:59 EDT
Re: [Avodah] validity of ketubahs if .....

From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com

>>Similarly a kesubbah has  involuntary components imposed by Halachah

....So a kesubbah is NOT  really a free will agreement between 2 parties.<<

It is a free will agreement in the sense  that nobody is forcing them to 
get married.

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 11
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 23:39:22 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Is Body Paint Halakhically Clothing?

From: Michael Makovi _mikewinddale@gmail.com_ 

>>Air  New Zealand's new safety video features - aside from some
delightfully  light-hearted and endearing humor - the flight attendants
and pilot wearing  nothing but body paint. (Their body parts are
covered by deft placement of  clipboards and skillful camera work.)

Off-list, R' Ken Bloom asked,  "Halachically, are you still watching
erva if it's painted like clothes?"  <<

Mikha'el Makovi

A /picture/ of a person wearing only body paint  and holding strategically 
placed clipboards is probably OK (it seems to me)  but looking at an 
/actual/ person so attired would be a definite no no.  A  video is not a person but 
a picture of a person.  
--Toby  Katz

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Message: 12
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 23:47:05 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Is Body Paint Halakhically Clothing?

Right after I wrote that a picture of a person in body paint is OK but the  
actual person would not be, I read RMB's post:

>>The only reason why the video is of interest is that it taps  into
prurient thoughts. Intentionally causing these kinds of hirhurim  is
assur, regardless of whether deft camera placement avoids  actually
showing ervah. <<
I saw immediately that RMB was right and was surprised at myself for  not 
having realized something so obvious.  It could be that what is  prurient to 
a man might be merely amusing to a woman, so maybe women could watch  the 
safety video and then tell their husbands the safety instructions.

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 09:55:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Kana'ut

On Thu, Jul 09, 2009 at 04:47:13AM +0000, yirmey...@juno.com wrote:
: I don't know if there is any particular level one must be on...

Beautiful thought from the Sanz-Klausenberger deleted. BTW, is that the
same generation as the rebbe quoted in this signature? (No "coincidence"
of the randomizer, I manually selected it from my collection.)

R' Matis Blum wrote one of my bar mitzvah derashos, and in it he
addressed this quesion. It was this week's parashah, Pinechas but
enough decades ago that I only remember the broad strokes.

RMBlum contrasted Pinechas's qana'us with that of Shim'on veLevi. Note
that Yaaqov doesn't condemn them for their destruvtion of Shechem
beshe'as maaseh. His objection in Ber' 34:30 is pragmatic, it will
turn their neighbors into enemies. Rather, his condemnation isn't recorded
until YAAH's deathbed, and there it's linked to another act (Ber' 49:6,
second half):
    Ki be'apam haregu ish,
    uvirtzonam iqru shor

Chazal take "iqru shor" as a reference to the concept Moshe Rabbeinu
later describes as the "bekhor shor" nature of Yoseif.

The way the derashah went, Yaaqov held his assessment of the attack on
Shecham until he learned of their role in mechiras Yoseif. Until then,
it qas possible it was qana'aus, and valid. However, once he saw the
pattern, YAAH identified the attack as being be'apam, an angry outburst,
as self-interest based as when birtzonam they sold Yoseif. Had they been
entirely lesheim Shamayim, Yaaqov's only objection would have remained
"lehav'isheini beyoshevei ha'aretz".

Which brings us to Pinechas, who HQBH describes as acting "beqan'o ES
QIN'ASI" (24:11). Purely lesheim shamayim, with no personal negi'os.
Then and only then in qana'us mutar. Qana'im poge'im bo is only when
the person is acting on HQBH's qin'ah, not "birtzonam".

I want to add an observation that this closely parallels Abba Shaul's
notion (backed by Rashi and R' Tam et al to become Ashkenazi norm) for
choosing chalitzah over yibum. Unless the person is truly acting lehaqim
sheim achiv is yibum preferred. When there is more likelihood of personal
negi'os than altruistically giving up one's legacy to share it with his
late brother, chalitzah becomes the norm.


Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
mi...@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (270) 514-1507        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Message: 14
From: Dov Kaiser <dov_...@hotmail.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 11:57:43 +0000
[Avodah] Categorical imperative

On Areivim, RMB posted:


<<However, your "in genera" is a paraphrase of Kant's definition of
ethics, the categorical imperative. Most decisions are hypothetical
imperatives; IOW, if I want to cease being hungry, I should eat. (I
wonder why that example came to mind?) A moral decision is one not
based on a goal, that hypothetical. Without something to put behind an
"if", you end up with a requirement that is not conditional on anything
but the situation. The categorical imperative. The usual translation of
his exact words reads:
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time
will that it should become a universal law.
-- Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, tr James E


I have wondered from some time whether the categorical imperative finds
expression in halakha.	Perhaps I am misunderstanding Kant's concept
altogether, but I frame it my mind as follows: Supposing that there is a
halakhic imperative not to destroy grass, is there a halakhic imperative
not to walk on the grass because, if everyone did it, the grass would be
destroyed, even though my individual act of walking on the grass will
contribute only negligibly to its destruction?	This has exercised my mind
far more since making aliyah 4 months ago.  In Israel, a vast array of my
individual decisions are affected by the categorical imperative, because if
they were copied by the majority of my fellow Israelis, their impact could
be huge. 


For instance, in chu'l, my decision to buy food with one hechsher and not
that with another is largely a personal decision.  In making that decision,
I might weigh up the halakhic leniencies/stringencies which the particular
kashrus organisation applies, the cost, the impact on my family, etc.	In
Israel, the same question involves me asking questions of communal impact. 
To illustrate, a number of weeks ago, a rabbi from the kashrus department
of the Tzohar group of Rabbis advocated that all of us, including dati
Jews, only eat food with a Rabbanut hechsher, and not eat food with a
mehadrin hechsher from a private supervising body (eg the various badatzim)
unless it also bears a rabbanut mehadrin hechsher.  His argument is that,
if datiim/charedim only purchase food with the badatz hechsherim, Israeli
restaurateurs and food manufacturers who are unwilling to meet the higher
standards required by the badatzim will simply go treif, leading to secular
Israelis eating chazir tr
 eif rather than at least minimally kosher food when they go to a
 restaurant or supermarket.  In other words, what appears to be a chumra on
 my part (buying the badatz product) when viewed from an individual
 standpoint, may in fact be a kulla, or indeed a michshol, from a communal
 or categorical standpoint.  The argument is not simply that we need a
 minimal rabbanut hechsher to maintain a basic standard for the hamon am,
 it is that the medakdekim adopt the same standard in order to save it for
 the majority.


Another case in point is the heter mechira/yevul nochri dispute.  If I
alone purchase yevul nochri rather than rely on heter mechira, I have not
really contributed to foreign ownership of the Land of Israel, not connived
in the issur of lo sechonem, and, on the contrary, have avoided a number of
real halachic problems.  However, if a whole community adopts the same
course, lo sechonem and contributing to terrorism become real issues.  (Of
course, we can argue about the metzius, but that is the argument.)  A
narrow halachic approach, if I can call it that, would focus on the classic
halachic issues.  A broader halachic approach would admit the broader,
communal consequences in the decision-making process.  


However, halacha certainly does endorse the notion that some modes of
conduct are for the elite (the baalei nefesh, medakdekim, or however else
it is sometimes phrased in halachic literature).  Clearly, the intention
was never that such conduct be copied by the masses (lo kol harotzeh litol
es hashem...).	Wouldn't the categorical imperative, as I have
(mis)understood it, dismiss this approach, insisting that if the conduct
cannot be generalised, it should be not be followed?


Kol tuv

Dov Kaiser

Rehovot, Israel

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