Avodah Mailing List

Volume 27: Number 13

Fri, 08 Jan 2010

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2010 17:40:56 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Hilchos Kaddish

CC: Mesorah

On Fri, Jan 01, 2010 at 05:19:46PM +0000, kennethgmil...@juno.com wrote:
: "Tzitzis" is found four times in Tanach (according to Mandelkern). Three
: times in the Shma, and once in Yechezkel 8:3. All four have only one yod,
: the first one. Does that prove anything?

Tangent: this appears to be a general rule. "Luchos" is spelled in the
chumash with the melupum malei, and the cholam chaseir. Even though
"-os" is otherwise usually spelled malei.

Someone know the kelal?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
mi...@aishdas.org        heights as long as he works his wings.
http://www.aishdas.org   But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 2010 16:41:29 -0500
Re: [Avodah] More on What are the Bracha Rishona and Bracha

Gershon Seif wrote:
> <<Ideally, one should eat the granola bars after having washed on a meal
> containing bread.>>
> Of course if one does that, then he may have a different problem...
> Isn't there a Yerushalmi somewhere that states "hani Bavloi Tipshoi
> d'achli nahama b'nahama"? 

It's a Bavli.  Beitza 16a.

Zev Sero                      The trouble with socialism is that you
z...@sero.name                 eventually run out of other people?s money
                                                     - Margaret Thatcher

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2010 16:21:10 +0000
Re: [Avodah] The Dynamic of Post-Talmudic Brachos

R Zev Sero:
> If you're collecting post-talmudic brochos, here's another one:
> R Akiva Eiger, who was surely aware of the rule against post-talmudic
> brochos, holds that if one moves into a house that already has mezuzos,
> and so one can't say "likboa mezuzah", then one says "lodur bevayis
> sheyesh bo mezuzah".  That bracha is surely not mentioned in the gemara.
> Now I've never heard of anyone actually following this psak of RAE, but
> that is how he paskens, despite the rule.

And even the Ro"Sh himself - who as per Ta"Z apparently decries adding
brachos after "siddur Rav Ashi" - adds "al n'qiyyus yadayim" when one
has no water. And this is pasqened by the Tur

The AhS O"H laments that we should pasqen like the Rashba and NOT change
the nusach habrachah away from "al netilas yadayyim" BUT "what can I do
when the Ro"Sh and the Tur.."

Here is a rule that never may be broken ;-)
"Ein l'meiden min haklallos". [If the irony goes over your head read it
again!]. ;-)

Or as Rabbi Kanarfogel wrote about the Ri Migash that they don't always
follow their own "programmatic statements"

[Context: The Ri MiGash told rabbis to use 2ndary sources and to not
pasqen directly from Shas - a rule he himself ignored.]

Re: Rice
As per S"iddur Rav Ashi"

1 what's the brachah acharonah after rice?
2. What brachah acharonah do we say?
3 what is the source for Number 2?
4 what's the authority for #3?  EG Minhag?

Similarly  we may also ask
5 what's the earliest source for lechem Mishnah on YT? [On Shabbos it
  is in Shas, but not for YT]


I will probably Blog the following questions:

What are the earliest sources limitting -
A Amoraim from disputing tannaim [not necessary mishnayos but even
  Braissos!]. First generation [or so] Amoraim [unwittingly?] dispute
  Braissos a lot and get tiyuvta's
B Adding brachos after Shas.  It's a nice rule.  Who made it up?  When?
C passing g'zeiros after Shas - who was the first to say "no no"!

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 03 Jan 2010 05:55:52 -0500
[Avodah] RSRH Digest - parashas Shemos

[This week I combined two posts. -mi]

Date: Sat, 02 Jan 2010 18:56:15 -0500
Subject: Definition of the Noun Tzadik

How would you define the word Tzadik? To put it another way, how would
you characterize someone who is a Tzadik?

RSRH in his Essays on the Psalms (Collected Writings of RSRH, Volume IV)
writes on pages 264 - 265

    The noun Tzadik, righteous, denotes the one who accords every being
    and every relationship its due, and does not tamper with or destroy
    them by acts of commission or omission.

This definition was certainly an eye-opener for me.

Date: Sun, 03 Jan 2010 05:55:52 -0500
Subject: Yissachar/Zevulun Partnership

Most people understand a Yissachar/Zevulun partnership to mean that
Zevulun works and supports Yissachar, who spends /all/ of his time
learning and does not work at all. However, the following commentary
on Bereishis 49:15 by RSRH does not seem to agree with this. Indeed,
it is clear from the remarks of Rav Hirsch that the members of the
tribe of Yissachar were farmers who, as a result of their profession,
had more time to learn than those involved in other occupations.

        15 He [Yissacjar] saw that leisure is the good thing, and that
        the land is suited for it; so he bent his shoulder to bear and
        became one who pays the tribute imposed by landwork.

    Yissachar is happy to work, but only to the extent and in such a way
    that the work is of value to the Jewish people. While Yehudah is the
    tribe of rulers and Zevulun the tribe of traders, Yissachar represents
    the true nucleus of the Jewish people: the Jewish farmer. He does not
    work so as to labor without letup and accumulate wealth. The Jewish
    man of the people does not subjugate himself to his work; he works in
    order to gain Menucha. He leaves it to Zevulun to earn millions with
    his products; as for himself, he prefers to stay at home. He regards
    the leisure he earned by his own labors as his greatest asset and
    most prized possession. For leisure enables a person to stand tall
    and to find himself. Yissachar therefore lowers his shoulder to bear
    burdens, leaving the rulers scepter to Yehudah and the merchantmans
    flag to Zevulun. Neither military glory nor business profit attract
    him. He knows other conquests, other treasures, which can be won
    and retained only in hours of leisure.

    Thus, it was the tribe of Yissachar that became the guardian of the
    nations spiritual treasures.

    When, after the fall of Shaul, the tribes of Israel rallied around
    David, thousands and hundreds of thousands came from all the tribes.
    Yissachar sent only two hundred, the Roshim, the heads of the tribe;
    the others stayed at home and worked. But these two hundred were
    Yodeah binah laitim (Divrei Ha-Yamim I, 12:33); they brought with
    them Binah, discernment, the ability to see between (bein) things,
    to recognize the interrelationships of persons and things and their
    potential effects on one another. This insight, attained by Yissachar
    during his hours of leisure, was Daas binah, concrete perception,
    not sophistry but practical understanding of the true relationships
    of persons and things, which is acquired through genuine Chochmas ha
    Torah. And it was laitim: it came through correct evaluation of the
    uniqueness of any given moment. That was why Kol Acheichem al pihem
    (ibid.), all of Israel lived by their pronouncements.

    Knowledge of Torah and its practical application to current
    circumstances are not attained by one who immerses himself in
    business. Rather, they are attained by one who, in his hours of
    leisure, frees his mind of all else, of whom it can be said that
    Vayar menucha ki tov, he regards leisure as the true profit to be
    obtained from work; thus Oseh Torahso keva oo'malachto aroiy (see
    RAMBAM halochos talmud Torah 3:7), he regards Torah study as the
    main goal, and work as merely an incidental means.

    Yissachar regards Ha'aretz, agriculture, as the surest path to this
    goal. Hence, he devoted himself with enthusiasm to the taxing chores
    of tilling the soil: Vayehi l'mas ovad.

    Use of the term Am Ha'aretz to denote an ignorant person dates from a
    much later period, when Jews were prevented from enjoying the quiet,
    leisurely life of the farmer. This was a time when knowledge and
    culture were concentrated in the cities, and Jewish villagers lived
    scattered about, a few here and a few there. Cut off from the centers
    of learning, they degenerated intellectually and often also morally
    under the heavy burden of their daily labors.

    In Tenach, Am Ha'aretz denotes the general community, in the noblest
    sense of this term.

Yitzchok Levine

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 00:37:04 +0200
Re: [Avodah] John Locke and Tzedaqa

Oh, and as Rabbi Emanuel Rackman notes in One Man's Judaism, the
obligation to separate terumah and ma'aser absolutely does NOT imply
an obligation to actually hand it over to its intended recipients. One
must separate the tithe in order to render his food kosher, but
following that, he may let the tithe rot in his cupboard. G-d may hold
you accountable, but no human will. Thus, personal autonomy is
retained as against government coercion. Moreover, it ensures that the
kohanim and levi'im, who were the rabbis of the day, will be
solicitous for your welfare. If they want to get paid (unlike the
Egyptian and Mesopotamian priesthood, the kohanim were not landed),
they had to cultivate a warm relationship with you. You were
technically required to give them their tithes, but they could not
force you to do so; your compliance with the law was between you and

Rabbi Rackman's book, I might note, is filled with libertarianism,
cover to cover. His newest edition also has some fascinating
statements about Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg and Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits on
qidushei b'tenai, and about Barukh Goldstein and Yigal Amir.
Obviously, Avodah and Arevim cannot discuss Goldstein and Amir. I just
want to point out that Rabbi Rackman talks about them. I'm not saying
WHAT he says about them, however. I'll just say I agree with every
word he says on the subject.

Also, it would appear that some of my libertarian concerns HAVE been
voiced by Jewish authorities before me. In Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel's
The Jews of Rhodes, we read (p. 26),
> One of the persistent and complex problems associated with haskamoth
> was the question of whether the majority the right to pass an ordinance over the
> objection of a dissenting minority of the community. Does the majority rule, or
> is unanimity imperative? Over the centuries this question evoked considerable
> rabbinic discussion.
> It seems the Jews of Rhodes resolved this dilemma by distinguishing between
> different types of haskamoth. In matters involving an improvement that was
> needed for the general community, a majority was sufficient to enact a haskamah.
> But in matters involving taxation, a unanimous decision was required in order to
> protect individuals from a barrage of levies imposed on them by the majority of the
> community. In the final analysis, the situation surrounding each haskamah had to
> be carefully evaluated before determining whether a majority or unanimity was
> required for its adoption.
> Rabbinic law allowed for the institution of herem, excommunication, in order to
> give communities power to enforce their laws. Yet, herem was more a threat
> than an actual procedure.

As Rabbi Angel's larger discussion shows, many (if not most) of these
haskamoth were regarding tzedaqa to the poor. So the community
accepted that it could not pass a new haskamah, even for the poor and
for tzedaqa, without unanimous approval by the community. In other
words, the Jews of Rhodes were concerned with the tyranny of the
majority no less than Alexis de Tocqueville and the Federalist Papers
were, even regarding the issue of tzedaqa. The solution was different
than mine, but the question was the same libertarian one.

R' Zev Sero: Thank you. You've given me the best, most reasoned
response I've gotten from anyone yet. Let me respond then:

> And He has made each of us responsible for our fellow Jews,
> and authorised us to use force if necessary to make each other
> keep halacha.

A very good point, thank you.

But first, we are entitled to fiddle and tinker around with Locke a
bit. There's a difference between a liberal and a communal democracy,
with the latter being less individualistic and more societal. America
is mostly liberal, but even things like the Civil Rights Act are
communal. According to pure Locke-ian liberalism, if I want to keep
blacks out of my store, that's my prerogative. If I hate people in
wheelchairs and don't want to build them ramps, hey, that's my right!
So a communal democracy would take a broader outlook, and look at
things from the standpoint of the society at large. It'll tend towards
more positive liberty, but it's still closer to negative liberty than
to positive liberty. You could still say the black and disabled people
have a right not to be discriminated against, and you're enforcing
their negative liberty. You're using positive liberty and infringing
my right to keep out anyone I don't like, but you're also using
negative liberty and upholding their right to be respected as equal
human beings. It's a little bit of violence against Locke, but not too
terribly much. It's still more libertarian than not.

Based on that, we can still execute Shabbat violators, for example. If
Shabbat expresses G-d's existence, and if G-d's existence is the basis
for all morality, then anyone who violates Shabbat is liable to
violate all morality. It used to be that if you violated Shabbat
today, that you'd murder tomorrow. This is no longer true, as the
tinok she-nishba shita of the Arukh la-Ner says, but it used to be.
Back then, executing Shabbat violators was perfectly libertarian.

(Luckily, according to Rabbis Akiva, Tarfon, and Rashbag in Makkot, we
don't have to execute Shabbat violators anymore. Rabbis Akiva and
Tarfon say they wouldn't execute murderers, and kal va-homer they
wouldn't execute Shabbat violators either. As for Rashbag, he argues
against Rabbis Akiva and Tarfon that they'd cause murder to
proliferate. Ergo, he has no problem with their failure to execute
Shabbat violators. Based on this, I'll tell people, with a completely
straight face, that a theocracy in Israel would not necessarily entail
any coercion to keep Shabbat, or to keep anything else in halakhah for
that matter. That's what's great about Judaism - lo bashamaim hi. To
paraphrase Jackson's statement to Marshall, if G-d wants Shabbat
violators dead, then let Him do it.)

Rambam describes coercing the recalcitrant husband in terms of
positive liberty. I.e., his yetzer ha-tov really wants to divorce his
wife, so we force him to do what he really wants to do. But even then,
we could classify it as negative liberty, of the wife's right to be
divorced. So it's still acceptable to a libertarian.

But collecting tzedaqa is something different. At least with Shabbat
and tefillin and gittin, there are definite objects of my observance.
I have to put tefillin on ME. I have to avoid lighting THAT fire, and
I have to divorce THAT woman. But with tzedaqa, there are a million
different possible recipients of my money. How can you force me to
give money to this poor guy, when maybe, I want to give it to that
other poor guy?

A second distinction: I'm not into the sugya right now, but there's
the whole discussion in Makkot I think about giving makkot for a lav
that can be corrected. Do we lash you when you fail to correct your
transgression, or only when you render it impossible to ever fulfill
it in the future? I think it was something like: if you take the
mother with the eggs around, you can always put the eggs back. So do
we lash you the moment you fail to put the eggs back immediately, or
do we lash you when you eat the eggs and make it impossible to ever
put them back? I forget exactly, but I think that's the gist of the
discussion in Makkot. Tzedaqa is like that sugya in Makkot. Yes, I
have to give 10% of my income. But maybe I'll wait until I'm on my
deathbed and I'll give 10% of everything I've ever earned in my entire
life. So until the day I die, you cannot be sure I haven't done the
mitzvah of tzedaqa. With Shabbat, you know I violated it the moment I
light a match. With tefillin, you know I violated it the moment the
sun went down. But with tzedaqa, how can you be sure I violated it?

A third distinction: with murder or Shabbat violation or tefillin, my
violation is concrete, and my punishment is concrete. If I have to be
killed for Shabbat violation, it doesn't matter to me which beit din
kills me. Whether or not the beit din is one I accept, either way, I'm
dead. But with tzedaqa, when the beit din takes my money, they'll give
it to the social cause THEY like themselves. So now, it really does
matter to me which beit din takes my money. So who is this beit din to
tell me I have to give tzedaqa? Maybe I'd prefer it if the other beit
din took my money.

So even under libertarianism, it's relatively easy to justify
punishing for Shabbat or tefillin, as long as you feel free to fiddle
with Locke a little bit. But tzedaqa remains a huge question. It was
to answer that huge question that I offered my oqimta between small
communities and nations.

R' Arie Folger responded to my libertarian assertions regarding tzedaqa, saying,
> Eh, halakhically not true: kofin 'al hatzedaqa.
> Rambam hil. matnot 'aniyim 7:9[10]:
> http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/7207.htm
> Whoever does not want to give charity, or  gives less than what befits
> him, the court forces him, and beat him, until he will give as much as
> [the court] establish he should give. And [the court may authorize for
> its designated agents to] go into his domain and take whtever it
> befits him to give.

Indeed. I know the halakhah, and I'm not trying to argue it. I'm
trying to reconcile Locke and halakhah. Thus, I suggested that
perhaps, in a small self-contained community, coercion like what
Rambam describes is legitimate.

Now then, R' Montagu said,
> This is true even of a minimal tzibbur of 10, who have the right to compel
> one another not to leave town on Yamim Nora'im, or to pay for a replacement.
> (end of OH 55).
This is the kind of law that'd have troubled me even more I learned
Locke. This kind of law just so totally cuts against my grain, I'll
have to scream. So I'll have to think about this one more. I don't
want to touch this law yet with a million-mile long pole, until I've
really thought about it deeply. Thanks for pointing it out.

Michael Makovi

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 23:19:01 +0000
Re: [Avodah] The Scope of the "7 Mitzvos d'Rabbanan"

R Zev Sero:
> A ballebatishe answer is that men don't make the bracha, so it wasn't
> on their minds. Perhaps they didn't even know their wives were making
> it and teaching their daughters to make it; or perhaps they knew but it
> didn't need to be written down because it wasn't relevant to the
> expected readership, who would never make it.

And the brachah on hafrashas hallah they DID know?  ;-)


Perhaps Before any of us Jump to premature conclusions it would be wise
to consult sources such as BeHaG and Hareidim ;-)

See Hareidim 48:3,4
[P. 173] ... Divrei Sof'rim tluyyim b'Veishet

?3 Shumanu shell gid?

see the Bavli in Hullin on this issu This is apparently a basic bottom-up
Minhag - "yisroel am qakdoshim"started it and it made the Rav Ashi cutoff
and is treated iirc even by Rambam as a full-fledged issur d'rabbanan,
and not a mere "minhag" or Humra Even though Rav Ashi himself suggests
just that. [The stama digmarah iirc does treat it as a d'rabbanan.]

It "begs" the question, what if it was a Minhag only during the Talmudic
era, what would have been its subsequent status if it became universally

And what if that Minhag itself originated during the post Talmudic era -
which leads us to
4 ?Bassar sheshahah shloshah yamim b'li m'licha...?

Apparently Rivash [see Beis Yoseph] has dismissed this as a mere "minhag
hamaqom" but Hareidim counts it as a lav midivrei sofrim[mamash]

Now I'm neither endorsing Sefer Hareidim's approach nor opposing it. But
do we tolerate it as Ev"E or dimiss it for going "over-the-top"?

- Does Hareidim have an invalid sheeta
- a valid sheeta we should consider
- a valid sheeta that simply makes us too incomfortable to accept so we
  choose to ignore it? ;-)

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 00:05:14 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Dynamic of Post-Talmudic Brachos

On Wed, Jan 06, 2010 at 04:59:09AM +0000, rabbirichwol...@gmail.com wrote:
: 1 Everything brachah in the Talmud is "axiomatic" - a given
: IF the minhag [Catholic Israel] is to say the brachah -even If it's
: post-Talmud "ein l'vatlah"
: So "Talmudic" does not exactly equate to Post-talmudic BUT Post-Talmudic
: brachos can be legit.
: Now see Rambam Haqdama on post-Talmudic Taqqanos/G'zeiros/Minhaggim.  
: Now you'll pretty much be able to intuit my understanding of Post-Talmudic
: g'zeiros too.

I don't know if the parallel could be made between berakhos and all three
of the Rambam's categories.

A pesaq can be nispasheit and accepted, even after Ravina veR' Ashi sof
hora'ah. But we haven't really established a concept of "local gezeirah"
in the Rambam's category-of-legislation sense of gezeirah.

: Talmud is binding because all Israel [Catholic Israel] accepts it.

We accept it as a point of departure. But there are exceptions.

This already demonstrates a different model for halachic authority than
the Rambam's. According to the Rambam, shas is basically a BD; there is
no room for exceptions. In Ashkenaz, there are numerous exceptions.

Similarly, if "being binding" is all or nothing, the SA+Mapah isn't a
modern parallel to shas. Whereas if it means "point of departure", the
SA was pretty widely accepted in that sense.

RYBS made two contrasting statements on this point:

1- He likened the authority of the SA to the Rambam's explanation for
the authority of Shas; and yet
2- RYBS at another time said that "It's okay to pasqen against the SA,
but you better know you are doing so, and you better know why".

One quote implies binding like a BD, the other implies a point of
departure, a factor to figure in to one's list of pros and cons
when weighing alternative pesaqim.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Our greatest fear is not that we're inadequate,
mi...@aishdas.org        Our greatest fear is that we're powerful
http://www.aishdas.org   beyond measure
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Anonymous

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 00:12:08 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Concept of Authority

On Sun, Jan 03, 2010 at 04:46:55PM +0000, kennethgmil...@juno.com wrote:
: (I have a vague memories that some would hold this category to include
: decrees issued even more recently than the Gemara. I personally do not
: understand how the Torah's law to obey the chachamim could possibly
: apply to a chacham who does not have "real semicha". I suppose it might
: apply if a generation had one single undisputed leader. But we have not
: had any such leaders. Some point to the Shulchan Aruch as an example
: of a univerally accepted authority, but I think the Rama disproves
: that. "Universally respected" is not the same thing as "universally
: accepted".)

This is also address by the previous post.

The SA+Mapah as a unit is universally accepted -- in a heuristic sense.
We do often pasqen differently than the SA. But a poseiq wouldn't do so
without strong reasons. It's a major factor when weighing pros and cons,
but not the only one.

In that sense, we don't treat it like a national BD, where there are no
mitigating factors that can offset following it. Ask the zaqein mamrei.
(Barring annulment of the pesaq by another such BD, of course.)

The modern shadow of the real semichah with a real BD hagadol is a more
heuristic rule rather than a hard-and-fast one. Just as nimnu vegamru
is hard-and-fast, but azlinan basar ruba by looking around at various
sefarim is not.


Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
mi...@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 00:21:31 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Seeing G'zeiros Everywhere

On Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 05:59:56PM -0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
:               ... I wanted to add was that it can be very useful to keep a
: kind of church/state distinction in one's head in trying to think through
: the topic. Gezeros come from the "church" side - they are part of the powers
: that were granted to the talmidei chachamim by the Torah via the line
: enumerated in Avos....

Whereas the word "taqanah" seems to be a homonym, referring to both new
halakhah and new societal legislation.

There are places where this gets confusing, eg maaser kesafim. Rishonim
place maaser kesafim as de'oraisa, derabbanan or minhag chassidus. I
think the reason for the machloqes between the latter two positions
stems from exactly this point. Why did the autonomous qehillah collect
maaser? Was maaser kesafim a halachic taqanah or a state taqanah?

As for state penology... I assume that in a halachic state, most dangerous
people would be jailed. Eidus with hasra'ah is too infrequent to allow
for a safe society. Something else would have to be done with the person
proven guilty of theft on the evidence, without eidim.


Micha Berger             I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
mi...@aishdas.org        but it is my chief duty to accomplish small
http://www.aishdas.org   tasks as if they were great and noble.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                              - Helen Keller

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Liron Kopinsky <liron.kopin...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2010 20:26:44 -0800
[Avodah] Dvar Torah on Parshat Shmot

Hi All,
Here is a Dvar Torah I wrote on this weeks parsha:


Kol Tuv,
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 03:50:29 GMT
[Avodah] New Brachos

Some recent threads ("Post-Talmudic Brachos" and "Bracha on a Granola Bar") have enticed me to ask something I've wanted to understand for a long time.

Similar threads over the years have explained to me that there is a very
deep divide between the Ashkenaz and Sefarad poskim on several topics in
Hilchos Brachos. There is a whole list of brachos which Ashkenazim say on a
regular basis, which a Sefaradi would never dream of saying. (Example: Al
Mitzvas Tefilin) And there are brachos which are legitimate even for
Sefaradim, but situations where it standard fare for an Ashkenazi, but
unheard of for a Sefaradi. (Example: Mitzvos Shehazman Graman for women)

Some have explained the above in terms of "saying a bracha on a minhag" or
"where a bracha *is* the minhag", and similar ideas. But it all boils down
to, in general, that Ashkenazim allow a lot more leeway in these things
than Sefardim.

I want to know why these Ashkenazi practices don't count as Bracha L'vatala.

Or, better phrased: How do the Ashkenazim define of Bracha L'vatala? Their definition, whatever it is, must surely exempt these many cases, right?

I've always figured that Bracha L'vatala is defined that any bracha which
I'm not obligated to say, is therefore assur to say. I can see a small
number of exceptions to this rule, such as Shehecheyanu, which depend on
how I feel at the moment. But one could argue that this is not really an
exception, given that this bracha was originally designed that way.

But in general, I cannot decide these things for myself. I cannot say
brachos at the wrong time, or invent new brachos. No matter how much I love
bread or wine, and no matter how much I want to that HaShem right now for
making them, I cannot say Hamotzi or Hagafen right now, because there is no
bread or wine around for me to consume. Only Chazal can set up and
establish these things.

Chazal wrote many brachos. The ones they wrote become obligatory on us
whether we understand it or not. They did write a bracha for reading
Megilas Esther, and they did not write a bracha for Chavitas Aravos. We can
and do discuss and learn about the choices they made, but once they made
those choices, it seems to me that it ought to be "set in stone", so to

But there seem to be at least two sorts of exceptions to this.

The first sort of exception is the "Post-Talmudic Brachos" often mentioned
on these pages. Al Mitzvas Tefillin. She'asani Kirtzono. Al Mitzvas
Tzitzis. And now some posters are saying that even L'hadlik Ner (Shel)
Shabbos is a recent invention. I would like to think that my question is a
simple one: Why aren't such brachos L'vatala? And they indeed are not, then
why would I not write a new bracha whenever I feel like it?

The second exception was mentioned in the thread about the Bracha Acharona
on granola bars. Namely, the possibility that we might have to say an
unheard-of bracha. Now, this is not a new halacha; I learned it -- and the
Tosfos it is based on -- decades ago in regard to Puffed Wheat cereal. But
I never understood it. What is the havamina to say such a bracha?

Even further: What is the havamina that I might be OBLIGATED to say such a
bracha? Let rephrase that: What is the havamina  that there might possibly
exist a law which requires me to do something which no law has ever
prescribed? What were Tosfos thinking? Where did this bracha ("Al
Ha'adamah, v'al pri haadamah") come from?

Akiva Miller

Diet Help
Cheap Diet Help Tips. Click here.

Go to top.

Message: 12
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Fri, 08 Jan 2010 07:21:08 +0200
Re: [Avodah] More on What are the Bracha Rishona and Bracha

Where is this Tosafot?

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Yitzchok Levine 
  .  Tosfos leaves the matter in doubt, and suggests that perhaps even a
  new and previously unknown Bracha, Al Ha'adama Ve'al Pri Ha'adama
  (similar to the after Brocha on certain fruits of Al Haeitz Ve'al Pri
  Haeitz) should be recited.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 13
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Fri, 08 Jan 2010 09:00:30 +0200
Re: [Avodah] New Brachos

Or if I can say this differently: What is the havamina that I have to change 
the way I eat in order not to have the safeiq? Toasted whole grains have 
been around for awhile, a long time. Has anyone ever brought up this issue 

When I was in yeshiva, once there was some question about an inyan in which 
the Rambam was machmir and the other rishonim were meiqil. The SA paskened 
the qula. Someone asked if we should go by the Rambam anyway. The Rav 
answered that to be machmir to a da'at yahid in the Rishonim is something 
that someone like Rav Chaim could do, others shouldn't go there.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
> Even further: What is the havamina that I might be OBLIGATED to say such a 
> bracha? Let rephrase that: What is the havamina  that there might possibly 
> exist a law which requires me to do something which no law has ever 
> prescribed? What were Tosfos thinking? Where did this bracha ("Al 
> Ha'adamah, v'al pri haadamah") come from?
> Akiva Miller 

Go to top.

Message: 14
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 14:21:50 +0200
[Avodah] electricity on shabbat

Prof Zev Lev has an article in techumum 4:58 on the use of elevators
on shabbat. The article is a defense on the use of automatic elevators in
disagreement with  R. Halperin.

Most of the article is about the effect of the weight of the passenger
for a descending
elevator which was the crux of thar book of R. Halperin.
Prof. Lev's conclusions is that one can use an automatic elevator if the various
light signals are removed.

In a quick reading I didn't see that either Rabbi Halperin or Prof.
Zev were worried about
sparks but I shall search further.

Also see a summary in

Eli Turkel

Go to top.

Message: 15
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 10:12:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] electricity on shabbat

On Fri, Jan 08, 2010 at 02:21:50PM +0200, Eli Turkel wrote:
: Prof Zev Lev has an article in techumum 4:58 on the use of elevators
: on shabbat. The article is a defense on the use of automatic elevators in
: disagreement with  R. Halperin.
: In a quick reading I didn't see that either Rabbi Halperin or Prof.
: Zev were worried about sparks but I shall search further.

There issue is the incrementel effect -- is there a measurable
difference between using the elevator or not? It's unlike actively
flipping a switch.

If you argue that there is no measurable different in current, then
*regardless* of why the current is a problem, there would be no issur.

IOW, the motor sparks n times per rotation either way. If you agree
with the Beis Yitzchaq that sparking is a cause for an issur, then the
difference between using the elevator or not doesn't change the sparking
in any significant way.

(And if the problem is something else, eg maqeh bepatish, molid zerem,
etc... that too wasn't caused in any halachically significant way

Here were my assertions (meaning: I think I'm repeating myself, so let
me just sum up and leave the conversation):

1- My understanding of how things operate at home wiring voltages confirms
the metzi'us the Beis Yitzchaq assumes. There will nearly always be a
small but visible spark we just hide it inside casing (and near a ground
line when possible). And not like later posqim who seem to assume there
is no spark in a switch or a motor.

But not in battery devices.

2- don't think the CI's boneh was about battery devices; only those that
plug into an ohel.

3- Computing devices are both routinely adjusted and routinely used
to play music. (People select musical ringtones on their phones,
no? Similarly collections of MP3s are standandard computer fare.) One
factor or the other could easily place them under the gezeirah against
using kelei zemer.

4- Watches, refrigerators, etc... are a pretty well established maqeh
bepatish issue when turning on. In the ideal they are always running,
so to restart it after stoppage is repair. This was already pasqened
before these devices were invented, in the case of winding a stopped
watch. The electronic nature of the repair isn't the issue.

5- The impact of using a device -- an elevator, walking in front of a
video camera, etc... -- involves a whole set of tzedaqim lehaqeil that
actually flipping the switch does not.

These come in two flavors:
a- is it pesiq reishei, gerama, or eino niskavein, and is it nikha lei?
   This has nothing to do with the electricity end of the question, and
   therefore can be discussed without discussing the machloqes about why
   electricity is a problem.

b- use involves measuring differences rather than all or nothing. (See
   above.) The smaller change means one often isn't doing anything that
   has mamashus.

6- Last, to me what is more interesting is what it says about halachic
process that there was such broad concensus le'esor and so little
consensus over why.

RRW suggested that this showed that electricity was a matter of societal

I would instead suggest that it illustrates the role of "daas Torah",
thinking from the gestalt, using "gefeel" or however it should be
labeled -- in producing pesaq. There was an instinctive "this couldn't
fit Shabbos" which those who have a more reliable insinct about such
things all felt in common. What they couldn't converge on is the formal

I hope to find time to reread RSZA, as I think this is actually his
conclusion, after showing the problems with every one of the usual
mappings of electricity to various melakhos.


Micha Berger             The waste of time is the most extravagant
mi...@aishdas.org        of all expense.
http://www.aishdas.org                           -Theophrastus
Fax: (270) 514-1507


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 27, Issue 13

Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

< Previous Next >