Avodah Mailing List

Volume 27: Number 44

Wed, 10 Feb 2010

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 16:53:02 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Mar'is Ayin and Personal Standards

R Akiva Miller:
> I'm really not sure what you're asking. Isn't this a great example of
> being machmir on oneself? Or do you feel that the owner is imposing *his*
> chumros upon *you*?

Someone mentioned to me that we may not make up our own "mar'is ayin"
issues. implying it MUST stem from halachic sources and NOT from seichel.

Akiva, I think your post hit the nail on the head - FOR ME. But I wonder
if others will say:
"Look at this owner making up his own shulchan aruch? Who says he may
not use just the boes of treif or dairy? Vu shtayt geshribben?"

So my question is addressing THAT SHEETAH, not my own issues.

Get it?

> I'll go one step further... Is the owner saying he think it's assur to use
> those boxes? It sounds to me like he's saying it's simply bad marketing.
> I see RRW's post, like some of the cases in the discussion of policy vs
> taqanah, as blurring the distinction between a tactical decision with
> a halachic one. (That's not to say he is; just that it's how it looks
> to me.)

> E.g. When the OU did away with OU-DE, they didn't say that milchig
> keilim ought to have the same din as milchig ingrediants. Rather, they
> felt that for tactical reasons, given that much information posed a
> nichshal that just wasn't worth it. The question wasn't on the halachic
> level altogether.

"I'll go one step further."

I'll see your one step and raise you one even further!

May Kashrus agencies be *machmir* beyond halachah for soicological or
marketing or ch'shad reasons - using seichel over the balck letter of
the law?

> When the OU did away with OU-DE, they didn't say that milchig
> keilim ought to have the same din as milchig ingredients.

That was NOT MY COMPLAINT! It was that instead of educating consumers
on Nat bar Nat they were blurring a distinction that is jeopardy of
being lost!

Count the many halachos in Rambam and SA that we no longer "know how
to distinguish!".

A simple note on what DE is or a note saying treat as dairy unless you
understand it would have sufficed.
FWIW Kaf-K is NOT concerned.

> like some of the cases in the discussion of policy vs taqanah, as blurring
> the distinction between a tactical decision with a halachic one.

AISI RRW is only reporting what posqim from Gaonim and Rambam through
Mishnah Brurah have already done dozens of times. EG Rema on hagala
requiring ONLY using eino ben yomo! And MGA and MB calling it a "gzei'ra
atu less than 60"

And just Friday night my chavrusa - who FWIW has s'micha - says this
stuff is indeed all over the place already! IOW he thought what I have
been saying is pashut, so I'm rather astounded at the nature of the
debate when to many of us it seems obvious!

Maybe this is similar to RYK on shimush, that rabbis in the field read
texts differently than mere textual "scholars"

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 2
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 17:29:49 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Firing a Rabbi

My 2 cents re: RJJB's post

I think a congregation indeed may fire a rabbi
And like a divorce - they should pay a "k'subba" or IOW a decent severance pay.
AIUI, the "custom" in North America is one month's pay per annum served.

Once my shul closed [Jan., 2006] and I was already over 50 years old,
getting another position became difficult. So a decent severance is IMHO
the "menschlich" thing to do.

Tenure? Perhaps not.
A good severance resembling a k'subba? Definitely.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 13:03:53 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Chezkas Kehunah

On Tue, Feb 09, 2010 at 05:29:37PM +0000, Allan Engel wrote:
: If today's Kohanim would be considered "safeik kohanim", would they be
: obliged to do a Pidyon Haben on their firstborns, mita'am sofeik d'orayso,
: or would it be a sfek sfeika?

But they aren't. There is a chazaqah in place.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 4
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 18:42:20 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Rights in halakhah

R' Micha Berger asked for more examples of where I have a halachic right to do something.

I have the right to choose whom to give my tzedakah money to. There are
cases where someone is in particularly dire straits and he can demand my
help, but under normal circumstances, I can choose to give to that one
instead of this one.

Akiva Miller

Love Spell
Click here to light up your life with a love spell!

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Message: 5
From: Isaac Balbin <Isaac.Bal...@rmit.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 09:16:10 +1100
Re: [Avodah] Habituation

> From: Michael Makovi <mikewindd...@gmail.com>
> Thank you, then, for that explanation. I still hold by my position. I
> tend to prefer the positions that reconcile as much as possible.

I'm not sure I understand this general rule. Are you saying that where
there is a Jewish Mesora or traditional understanding which in one's eyes
doesn't reconcile "as much as they understand", that a yid may choose a
minority opinion which is not at all accepted?

As I understand it, such a decision is taken not by an individual yid, but by a Posek to whom one directly addresses the question.

A Posek learns how to pasken especially through the shimush he undertakes which is a continuation of a Mesora.

At University, there is no Mesora and we can choose an argument because it
makes most sense and can justify it. The study of halacha is an
intellectual exercise, but the determination of halacha by a yid transcends
the intellectual exercise.

> Furthermore, I prefer a few kelalim to many peratim - Occam's Razor.

Is this a preference, together with its ramifications that have been
communicated as being the basis of valid conclusions lehalacha and l'maaseh
for a private yid to make on their own, or are you just being mefalpel?

> So I'll still prefer my own position, viz. that hair-covering applies
> to married and unmarried women equally, but that hergel mitigates the
> issur. This is the simplest explanation, and has more kelalim and
> fewer peratim.

> But still, Rn' Chana has at least made the AhS's position sensible and
> coherent.

I do think all yidden have to be exceedingly careful with their choice of
words. It goes hand in hand with Kabolas Ol Malchus Shomayim and being
Kafuf to one's Posek/Rav HaMuvhak.

The AhS's position was always "sensible and coherent".

(to be sure, it is alleged that one reason the Aruch Hashulchan was "replaced" by the Mishna Brura was this controversial ruling).

R' Chaim Ozer had a Psak on Gelatin. It wasn't miskabel, despite the
uniformly acknowledged gadlus of R' Chaim Ozer in Psak. One would not also
decide to follow R' Chaim Ozer's psak on this because it has more klalim
and less peratim. A yid learns the psak etc and then discusses how they ACT
based on their Posek.

That being said, I'm assuming that you are a yid who has not reached the level of Horaah. Correct me please if I am wrong!

> I still disagree with it, but at least it makes sense to me
> now. Thank you.
> [Email #2. -micha]
> As I said, I don't see a meaningful difference between distraction and
> habituation.

I'd suggest that if you ever did shimush (please correct me if you have done shimush!)
this would show many examples of people who break your rules.
Should one consider doing away with Hilchos Yichud on this basis as well?

> Either way, hirhur / hana'ah is absent, and that, to me,
> is the critical factor. If a blind man cannot see an attractive woman,
> for example, that seems to me to mitigate the issur of looking at her,
> even though he's neither habituated nor distracted.

Is a blind man (today) patur from Hilchos Yichud? There was a recent Psak
that a blind man may use his hands to determines how a woman "looks" if
that is important to him being able to determine that she is attractive to
him for the purposes of marriage. 
Can he also use those hands on any woman he sees in general in order to determine what she "looks like"?

I think the analogy is flawed. There is a Gavra and Cheftza shel Isur here and there is a Metziyus. One can't extrapolate in the way you suggest

> So we have a three-tiered progression:

I'm not at all sure why the term "progression" is used here.
The Aruch Hashulchan and Mishneh Brura's world were the same.

> 1) Everything is absolute; women must cover their hair, and men cannot
> say berakhot around uncovered hair, regardless of hirhur - Mishnah
> Berurah
> 2) Men's berakhot can take habituation into account, but the issur for
> women is absolute regardless of societal norms - AhS

> 3) Everything is subject to societal norms - Me, Rabbi Yosef Messas,
> and a very very very very few others
I am not acquainted with R' Messas. It might be an idea to discuss his position with R' Ovadya or one of his sons?

> I myself wholeheartedly agree with your belief that tzniut is bound
> entirely by societal norms, and that none of its laws are absolute.

You quote R' Henkin's book below. Please re-read the section on (for
example) the length of a skirt. Based on your thesis, there should not be
such a shakla v'tarya. Today, it is commonplace for women to wear tight
jeans and very short skirts. As a result *most* of us (!) don't have hirhur
and the shok should be redefined.

Does a Posek agree with that reasoning?

> However, I must admit that I am differing with the AhS in this.

It is one thing for a yid to say that they understand the svaros and shakla
v'tarya of (A) better than they understand that of (B), but a yid has to be
kafuf to their Posek or Rav HaMuvhak. If a yid's posek decided to pasken
against the Aruch Hashulchan, that's another matter. What is the meaning of
the "Tzarich Iyun" that many conclude with?

>> Handshaking is prohibited only b'derekh hibat biah, so indeed,
> handshaking is prohibited only where there is hirhur / hana'ah. All
> the more so would merely touching (say, poking) a woman be permitted,
> as long as hirhur / hana'ah is absent.

Is a yid allowed to poke if he could call attention by raising his voice or asking another lady to tap the woman whose attention he was seeking?

> What I suspect, however, is that different occasions call for a
> different standard of hirhur / hana'ah. With your spouse, the
> slightest bit of hirhur / hana'ah will lead to the bedroom, and so all
> physical contact is prohibited.

Many people subscribe to statistics that the slightest intimacy between (unmarried) males and females today leads to the bedroom.
Would there be less 21 year old virgins today or more, when compared to 100 years ago?
What has habituation achieved?

> By contrast, with a stranger or
> platonic friend, a mere handshake is unlikely to lead to the bedroom,
> and so a different level of hana'ah / hirhur is tolerated.

Where do Chazal define a "platonic" woman?
(I'm assuming we aren't talking about those with a different gender bias,
but having mentioned that, I wonder why the Rambam according to your thesis
should not have absolved homosexual males from all tznius issues relating
to women? Lo Plug? Well, indeed. Lo Plug cuts both ways. A yid can't pick
and choose based solely on their sechel)

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Message: 6
From: Samuel Svarc <ssv...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 22:48:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Halacha vs. Policy - Poll re: Who To Marry

On Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 9:21 AM, Meir Shinnar <chide...@gmail.com> wrote:
> WRT the discussion about RYK's psak, and whom it would actually apply
> to - as the person who it would apply to would not normally be asking
> she'elot - on another email list, several years back, there was a
> discussion by a RW member - who was vigorously championing the
> position that RYK rejected - that one should rather marry a non Jew
> than not keep taharat hamishpacha - and the nafka mina was whether one
> should try to be meshaddech two nonobservant Jews - or steer a
> nonobservant Jew towards a non Jewish mate - and this RW poster was
> insistent that it was preferable to steer the non Jew towards a non
> Jew, and was against much of the activity of others for Jewish
> shidduchim.

I fail to see what this adds to the discussion, besides confirming
that the "inexperienced student" that RYK referred to wasn't a figment
of his imagination. As this wasn't in doubt one wonders if the real
agenda was to somehow asscociate this mistaken position with the "RW"
(notice that you stressed the mistaken posters as RW, yet failed to
mention that RYK was RW as well.).

> Therefore, the question does (and did) arise, and has a nafka mina
> lehalacha for those who actually care about halacha
> (most of the people on the list were shocked by the position taken -
> but it is the extreme version of going by the book and determining
> what is the most extreme issur involved...)

True, but it is more a failing in 'm'halchie hap'sak and shimush' as
RYK makes clear and not so much as an over reliance on textual
knowledge. This is readily demonstrated by the fact that RYK brings a
proof to his position from another text, namely, Rambam (Hilchos
Issurei Bi?ah 12:7-8). Accordingly, if, as you have written, the
pimary issue is going by the book, then a little more "book knowledge"
would have helped. However, RYK blames the lack of shimush, IOW a lack
of mesorah and m'halchie hap'sak. And this is only logical, one needs
guidance in "how to learn", in what is a "good" sevara and what is a
"bad" sevara. This type of knowledge is only through mesorah.


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Message: 7
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 23:04:02 EST
Re: [Avodah] Habituation

From:  Michael Makovi _mikewinddale@gmail.com_ 

>>  If a blind man cannot see an attractive woman,
for example, that  seems to me to mitigate the issur of looking at her,
even though he's  neither habituated nor distracted. He won't have
hirhur / hana'ah from her,  and to me, that's enough.  <<

Michael  Makovi

I wish you would elaborate a bit more on this heter of a blind man looking  
at an attractive woman. I am having trouble picturing it or understanding 
the  practical application.  Does Playboy come in a Braille edition?  Oh  but 
that would be looking at pictures -- and you are talking about looking at 
an  actual woman.  How would the blind man do that?  What is it you are  
confidently asserting he is allowed to do -- turn his head in her general  
direction?  I think even a fully sighted man is allowed to look at an  attractive 
woman, if his eyes are closed or she is wearing a burka or for some  other 
reason he cannot see her.

--Toby Katz


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Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 13:12:24 +0200
[Avodah] adar

<< Beginning Rosh Chodesh Adar there is a custom to hang a sign in the
home that says "Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'simcha" -  "When Adar comes
in, one increases his happiness". Some have the custom to place this
sign to cover the "Zecher L'churban"  (in memory of the destruction of
the Beis Hamikdash) unfinished wall area that many have the custom to
retain in their home. Yalkut Avraham 686, Piskei Tshuvos 686:5 >>

Anyone familar with this minhag?

Eli Turkel

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Message: 9
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 23:19:08 EST
Re: [Avodah] Rights in halakhah


From: Micha Berger _micha@aishdas.org_ (mailto:mi...@aishdas.org) 

>> I dont  believe that halakhah is based on a philosophy of rights.
However, there are  specitic halakhos which clearly imply the existence
of a  right.

Phrasing the issur of waking someone else up as "gezel shinah"  implies
that a person owns an intangible right to sleep. Not just that I have  a
duty to let you sleep if you wish to, but chazal articulate it in  terms
usually used for property.

Similarly geneivas da'as.

The  only other example I could think of is this right to select a kohein
to whom  to give your terumah.

Can anyone else think of others?   <<

Micha  Berger             

In the coming parsha, Mishpatim (Shmos 21:10), I believe a wife is  granted 
a right to s'eir, kesus and onah -- food, clothing and  consort.  (Or is it 
possible that the husband has obligations but the  wife does not have 
rights? Surely that wouldn't make sense.  It must be  that his obligations = her 

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 10
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 2010 18:05:48 -0500
[Avodah] Limudei Chol

[Copied over from his Areivim post. Areivim context deleted. -micha]

"When I was in the illustrious city of Vilna in the presence of the Rav,
the light, the great Gaon, my master and teacher, the light of the eyes
of the exile, the renowned pious one (may Hashem protect and save him)
Rav Eliyahu, in the month of Teves 5538 [January 1778], I heard from his
holy mouth that according to what a person is lacking in knowledge of the
"other wisdoms," correspondingly he will be lacking one hundred portions
in the wisdom of the Torah, because the Torah and the 'other wisdoms'
are inextricably linked together ..."

    From the Introduction to the Hebrew translation of Euclid's book
    on geometry, Sefer Uklidos [The Hague, 1780] by R. Barukh Schick
    of Shklov.

The Gaon encouraged R. Schick to translate Euclid's geometry into Hebrew,
which he did. We also have the Gaon's sefer Ayil Meshulash that deals
with analytic geometry, trigonometry and solid geometry.

The following is from pages 148-149 of Judaism's Encounter with Other
Cultures: Rejection or Integration?

Given what the GRA said below, one can only wonder why music is not
taught in all of our yeshivas.

R. Israel of Shklov (d. 1839) wrote:

I cannot refrain from repeating a true and astonishing story that I
heard from the Gaon's disciple R. Menahem Mendel. It took place when
the Gaon of Vilna celebrated the completion of his commentary on Song of
Songs. . . . He raised his eyes toward heaven and with great devotion
began blessing and thanking God for endowing him with the ability to
comprehend the light of the entire Torah. This included its inner and
outer manifestations. He explained: All secular wisdom is essential for
our holy Torah and is included in it. He indicated that he had mastered
all the branches of secular wisdom, including algebra, trigonometry,
geometry, and music. He especially praised music, explaining that
most of the Torah accents, the secrets of the Levitical songs, and
the secrets of the Tikkunei Zohar could not be comprehended without
mastering it. . . He explained the significance of the various secular
disciplines, and noted that he had mastered them all. Regarding the
discipline of medicine, he stated that he had mastered anatomy, but not
pharmacology. Indeed, he had wanted to study pharmacology with practicing
physicians, but his father prevented him from undertaking its study,
fearing that upon mastering it he would be forced to curtail his Torah
study whenever it would become necessary for him to save a life. . . . He
also stated that he had mastered all of philosophy, but that he had
derived only two matters of significance from his study of it. . . .
The rest of it, he said, should be discarded." [11]

[11.] Pe'at ha-Shulhan, ed. Abraham M. Luncz (Jerusalem, 1911), 5a.

And then there is this.

R. Yhonason Eybeschutz wrote in Yaaros Devash 2:7 (as translated by
L. Levi in Torah and Science, pages 24-25):

For all the sciences are "condiments" and are necessary for our Torah,
such as the science of mathematics, which is the science of measurements
and includes the science of numbers, geometry, and algebra and is very
essential for the measurements required in connection with the Eglah
Arufah and the cities of the Levites and the cities of refuge as well
as the Sabbath boundaries of our cities. The science of weights [i.e.,
mechanics] is necessary for the judiciary, to scrutinize in detail whether
scales are used honestly or fraudulently. The science of vision [optics]
is necessary for the Sanhedrin to clarify the deceits perpetrated by
idolatrous priests; furthermore, the need for this science is great in
connection with examining witnesses, who claim they stood at a distance
and saw the scene, to determine whether the arc of vision extends so
far straight or bent. The science of astronomy is a science of the Jews,
the secret of leap years to know the paths of the constellations and to
sanctify the new moon. The science of nature which includes the science
of medicine in general is very important for distinguishing the blood of
the Niddah whether it is pure or impure and how much more is it necessary
when one strikes his fellow man in order to ascertain whether the blow
was mortal, and if he died whether he died because of it, and for what
disease one may desecrate the Sabbath. Regarding botany, how great is
the power of the Sages in connection with kilayim [mixed crops]! Here
too we may mention zoology, to know which animals may be hybridized;
and chemistry, which is important in connection with the metals used in
the tabernacle, etc.

Now, how much secular education do you need to understand Torah properly?
It would seem quite a bit!

Yitzchok Levine 

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 06:22:14 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Rights in halakhah

On Tue, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:19:08PM -0500, T6...@aol.com wrote:
: In the coming parsha, Mishpatim (Shmos 21:10), I believe a wife is  granted 
: a right to s'eir, kesus and onah -- food, clothing and  consort.  (Or is it 
: possible that the husband has obligations but the  wife does not have 
: rights? Surely that wouldn't make sense. It must be that his
: obligations = her rights.)

In effect yes. But I spoke about the law being based on rights, and this
law is not. It's based on his roles in the covenantal community we call
marriage, which since they are to a specific recipient, in this case
imply that she has rights.

I was talking about the legal philosophy, not the pragmatic outcome.

My belief is that duty-to-another based law can too easily decay into
and that rights-based law too readily decays into a culture of
entitlement. (Because a culture of getting guaranteed rights naturally
leads to wanting more and more things guaranteed.)

However, halakhah is based on a third philosophy -- joining together in
a whole. Duty to a relationship, of which I am a part, in contrast to
duty to the other. The whole concept of beris.

Still, while that's the overall legal philosophy (I argue) there are
exceptional cases where specific laws are phrased as rights. She'eir
kesus and onah don't qualify, as they are phrased as duties. Legally,
being phrased as a right would have no nafqa mina (that I can think
of). In terms of culture, though, chazal wouldn't have framed in that
way because we don't in general relate to rights.

"Kol hamaavir al midosav" is inconsistent with a rights-based philosophy
of law.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When faced with a decision ask yourself,
mi...@aishdas.org        "How would I decide if it were Ne'ilah now,
http://www.aishdas.org   at the closing moments of Yom Kippur?"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 12
From: j...@when.com
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 10:56:51 -0500
[Avodah] Shulchan Aruch VS Our Own understanding

What should a modern Jew take from the Maharal's quoteregarding the
shulchan aruch? Does living by the shulchan aruch waterdown Judaism? I have
heard in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz thatthe only reason an
individual today cannot argue with a tana, amorahect.. is not due to an
inferior intellectual ability but due to aninferior possession of
information. Regarding achronim, we are allequally distant from the Mesorah
subsequent to a certain point inhistory (the exact point in history is
unclear- but a line is certainlydrawn for the shulchan aruch).	

"When firstpublished, the Shulkhan Arukhwas greeted not with unanimous
praise, but with thesame objections that greeted all the previous codes of
Jewish law. As oneexample, the Maharal of Prague wrote: 
"Todecide halakhic questions from the codes withoutknowing the source of
the ruling was not the intent of these authors. Had theyknown that their
works would lead to the abandonment of Talmud, they would nothave written
them. It is better for one to decide on thebasis of the Talmud even though
he might err, for a scholar must dependsolely on his understanding. As
such, he is beloved of God, and preferable tothe one who rules from a code
but does not know thereason for the ruling; such a one walks like a blind
person." [From the Maharal's NetivotOlam, by A. Siev,"Rema", p.360, n.2). 
Otherprominent critics of the Shulkhan Arukhincluded Rabbi Yoel ben Shmuel
Sirkis and Rabbi Meir ben Gedaliah. [See Rabbi Mendell Lewittes,
"JewishLaw: An Introduction" p.157-158" 


-Josh Schulman


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Message: 13
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 16:37:06 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Halacha vs. Policy - Poll re: Who To Marry

MSS <ssv...@gmail.com>:
> And this is only logical, one needs
> guidance in "how to learn", in what is a "good" sevara and what is a
> "bad" sevara. This type of knowledge is only through mesorah.

Which sheetos have been favored by posqim and which ones have been rejected

An example of a shift is how we NOW treat suicides as opposed to how
older texts did. NOW the presumption is that "da'as" is lacking
That it was an emotional "ones" or similar

Reading texts would not give a student a clue of how we view m'abeid
atzmo l'da'as in the field. Because
[Excepting the very radical] We DO bury them and give them taharos etc.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


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