Avodah Mailing List

Volume 28: Number 236

Mon, 21 Nov 2011

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 09:20:27 -0800
[Avodah] bat issues

i wonder if  you can combine  the kiddush hashem  issue with this  issue .

it seems that the approaches that allow  for  modern science trumping 
chazal science  may be considered apikorsus  [especially if by current day 
writers]   ,  in terms of kiddush hashem ,   there is  more  bizayon   of 
chazal/frum judaism  via the Traditional  approach....

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

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 12:22:26 -0500
[Avodah] Chillul HaShem and Davening on Airplanes

At 11:41 AM 11/17/2011, R. Meir Rabi wrote:
>N)     I believe that R ShZA, discouraged or prohibited people forming a
>Minyan on a plane, due to concerns of ChH. I understood that this was true
>even when all the J were davening in that Minyan and all the other
>passengers were NJ. If I understand R Zev correctly, he would insist that
>this is a KH.

Please see http://tinyurl.com/7d6a6ac

Among other things Rav H Schechter writes,

"However, when Orthodox Jews disturb non-observant Jewish passengers 
with their davening, the non-observant passengers sill remain 
non-observant and now just have another point about which to be upset 
with the Orthodox. The practice of the Orthodox passengers under such 
circumstances appears simply as an act of harassment. Rather than 
having accomplished the hidur mitzvah of davening tefillah btzibur, 
they have violated lifnei iver by causing the non-observant 
passengers to become more antagonistic towards shemiras hamitzvos. 
The shouting tone of voice employed by the shaliach tzibbur to 
overcome the noise on the airplane clearly does not constitute a 
kavod hatefillah."


"However, it is still not proper to gather a minyan together near the 
washrooms, disturbing all the other passengers and the stewardesses. 
As much as various Torah giants of our generation have expressed 
their opposition to such minyanim on airplanes[2], their message has 
not yet been accepted."

[2] Rav Shlomo Wahrman 
She'eiris Yosef  vol. 7, 
3) quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, page 75), Rav 
Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim vol. 4 siman 20), Rav 
Ovadiah Yosef, and Rav Shmuel Wosner all objecting to minyanim on 
airplanes that disturb other passengers

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

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 09:59:16 -0800
[Avodah] reality


in general, whenever Chazal make a scientific statement, they are not 
talking about the observable universe but rather the "real" universe. What 
we - and the scientists - see is only a graphic user interface, so to 
speak. The real world - the real sun, real moon, real earth - is not 
observable by current scientific means. Chazal were talking about the real 
world when they spoke. I'd recommend this Shiur    [  link  available 
there]  for a full treatment.

Therefore, the Jewish sages were talking about the "real" universe, which 
indeed behaves exactly as the Chachmei Yisroel described. The non-Jewish 
scholars were arguing with limited information, i.e. with what their 
scientists could see on the "outside," GUI world. We agree that on the 
outside, it would appear the way they say. But the Chachmei Yisroel saw 
deeper, they saw into the real world and there, their description is 

-----  it would seem to me  that  if  eg  chazal  say  2+2=  5 ,  and our 
reality sees the metzius as  2+2=4  , it still equals  5  .  this  implies 
 chazalic observations are ALWAYS  correct , it may on a more metaphysical 
or medrashic  plane . 

my question is  in general the thinking  about the now  banned  approaches 
to chazals  that don't   fit.    is it that  believing  2+2=4  is 
inherently assur  ;  or  is it  a slippery slope, that 2+2 =4   would lead 
to mixed dancing  as the old joke goes?
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 15:12:25 -0500
Re: [Avodah] reality

On Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 09:59:16AM -0800, Saul.Z.New...@kp.org wrote:
: http://www.jewswithquestions.com
: /index.php?/topic/115-scales-fins-and-the-suns-orbit/page__p__290#entry29
: 0 

: in general, whenever Chazal make a scientific statement, they are not 
: talking about the observable universe but rather the "real" universe. What 
: we - and the scientists - see is only a graphic user interface, so to 
: speak. The real world - the real sun, real moon, real earth - is not 
: observable by current scientific means. Chazal were talking about the real 
: world when they spoke. I'd recommend this Shiur    [  link  available 
: there]  for a full treatment.

I don't go for this approach, but in some sense it overlaps with my own.
As I recently suggested for the n-th time, Chazal don't speak of reality
as it is, but reality as we are able to experience it directly. Since
souls and that which impact them are more important than physical
objects, I guess you can consider "reality as we are able to experience
it directly" to be parallel to their "'real' universe".

But I wouldn't turn that into an ontological ranking...

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: 5
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <r...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 20:05:10 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Division of Mishnayos

R. Sholomyitz asked, " Who divided the mishna up into chapters & individual mishnayos? 
Did RYehudah HaNasi do this division, or did  that come later?"

     The p'rakim date back at least to the time of the amora'im.  In Bava
     M'tzia 35a, Rava says that he was learning from Rav Nachman, "upirkin
     Hamafkid hava."  The individual mishanyos would appear to be the
     decisions of printers; apparently, each perek consisted of a single
     mishna, as is the case of the first perek of Sanhedrin as printed in
     the standard Bavli.  In many places, what are different mishnayos of a
     perek in all printings are referred to in the g'mara as "reisha" and
     "seifa," indicating that they are parts of the same mishna.


53 Year Old Mom Looks 33
The Stunning Results of Her Wrinkle Trick Has Botox Doctors Worried

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 23:13:54 -0000
[Avodah] : : Re: Chillul HaShem when NJ are the observers

I wrote:
> > Whether or not one might spit at AZ, or show disgust for it, that
> > provides no justification for spitting at a person, regardless of their
> > on AZ.

And RZS replied:

> A priest, at least when he is in his robes, represents his AZ.

This is not a Jewish concept (I don't think it is much of a non Jewish
concept today either, although it may certainly have been at one time, eg
amongst the ancient Egyptians).  The halacha is very clear that while one
may not sell to a non Jew anything that is to be used for the benefit of an
idol (eg to clothe the idol, or to present food or candles before it), it is
mutar to sell to the priests anything that is for *their* benefit - ie food
or drink or candles or clothing or decorative items that they, rather than
the idol itself, will get benefit from (inter alia Rema in Shulchan Aruch
Yoreh Deah siman 148 si'if 12, siman 151 s'if 3  and siman 141 si'if 3 and
surrounding discussion).

There is a specific problem if the priest is actually wearing or carrying an
idol.  In that case you do need to be careful not to bow down or take off
one's hat to the idol (except in a way that it doesn't appear like you are
bowing, eg you drop your money)- but the Rema (Yoreh Deah siman 150 si'if 3)
notes that there are grounds to be lenient since it is known that even the
idol worshippers do not take off their hat or bow down because of the idol
but only to the sar (ie person in authority bearing it).

That is, even bowing down or taking off one's hat to a priest is mutar,
unless it might appear that one is actually bowing to an genuine idol.
Nowhere in this Rema or elsewhere, is there any idea that somehow a priest,
however he is dressed, is "representing his AZ" and is to be treated like
some sort of human AZ (were such a concept possible).  Rather a clear
distinction is made between the person and any inanimate object that he
might be carrying which is in fact an idol (but which is indeed not
considered an idol if it is for noy of the priest, ie gives decoration to
the priest).  If there is a real genuine idol being carried by the priest,
then we do need to be careful not to in fact give any form of honour to that
idolatrous inanimate object - but even if there is a real genuine idol being
carried by the priest, if in fact the idol worshippers of that particular
religion are known to be giving the honour to the priest and not to the idol
when they bow or doff their cap, giving such honour may be mutar even for
us.  Absent any idol being carried, a priest in his robes represents nothing
that triggers the halacha.
> Zev Sero        If they use these guns against us once, at that moment



Go to top.

Message: 7
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 03:43:25 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Sand and stars

From: hankman <hank...@bell.net>

>> While I  had the Chumash Torah Mai'ira open on my computer, I checked
out something  else that bothered me in the past. In the bracha that
AA would have children  as the stars in the heavens and the sand on the
shores of the sea. The  implication is that the huge numbers of grains of
sand and the numbers of  stars should be equivalent. I found this to be
a stretch not likely to be  true so I looked for other ways to understand
this bracha.

Here are  some of the peshatim he brings:

2) They should be as large as stars b'ayechus in that each star  is
individually large as an entire world, and be many b'kamus, as the  number
of grains of sand, [snip]

6) Even should they be trodden upon  by the nations like the sand on the
shores, nevertheless they will shine as  brightly as the stars,

7) they are compared to the stars that they will  be a guiding light to
the proper path to the nations, just as the stars are  guides to find the
right path in navigation, and they are compared to the  sand that they
will endure the constant trials and tribulations of the  nations just as
the sand endures despite the constant battering by the waves  of the ocean. 

Kol Tuv
Chaim  Manaster

The Torah doesn't say that the number of Avraham's descendants will be the  
same as the number of stars or the same as the number of grains of sand in 
the  world.  That would be an impossibilty, because that number of people  
couldn't physically fit on the surface of Planet Earth, even stacked up in  
skyscraper buildings.  (To picture it, picture that every grain of sand in  
the world was the size of a person!  Where would they all fit?!)
What the Torah actually says is just as the stars and the sand are too  
numerous to count, so Avraham's descendants will be too numerous to  count, and 
it uses stars and sand as metaphors for objects that are too numerous  to 
"I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth so that if one  can 
count the dust of the earth, then your offspring, too, can be counted." (Ber  
"And He took him outside, and said, 'Gaze now, toward the heavens, and  
count the stars if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall  
your offspring be.' " (Ber 15:5)
And finally:
"I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offspring like the  
stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore." (Ber 22:17)
Now, even though the Torah doesn't say that stars = grains of sand, it  
does seem to imply that.  Yet, as you say, to the naked eye of the average  
observer, there appear to be far more grains of sand than there are stars in 
the  heavens.  In fact, on a clear night with no light pollution, a human 
being  with excellent vision can only see about 5000 stars.  That is certainly a 
 number that can be counted!
Yet today we know that there are far more stars than that.
We have here one of many clues scattered through the Torah as to its Divine 
 authorship.  Thousands of years ago, when the Torah was given, what human  
being could have known that there were many, many more stars than the 
visible  ones in the heavens?
By juxtaposing stars and grains of sand, the Torah does seem to imply that  
the numbers are of equal magnitude, but who could  have known that a few  
thousand years ago?   Indeed, even a hundred years ago, people didn't  know 
Today we know that there are in fact MORE stars in the universe than there  
are grains of sand on earth!  The numbers are staggering, truly  
mind-boggling, numbers that even the greatest genius cannot really grasp.   There are 
somewhere between two billion and four billion stars in our galaxy  alone, 
and this Milky Way galaxy is only one of BILLIONS OF  GALAXIES!
There is a very suggestive Rashi on one of the pesukim I quoted  above, Ber 
15:5 -- "Hashem took Avraham outside."  The pshat, as Rashi  says, is that 
He took him outside his tent so he could look up at the night  sky.  But 
Rashi brings another explanation, namely, that He took him  outside the world 
(!) and raised  him above the stars so that he could look  down on them!  
This certainly suggests that Hashem showed Avraham the true  magnitude of the 
numbers involved and the accuracy of the comparison between  stars and grains 
of sand.
Of course, as I said, He could not have been promising that we would  
literally reach the same number, because it's not physically possible.  It  is 
just that we will be uncountable.
It is also likely that the use of stars and sand as metaphors is meant to  
convey other, additional, messages (you mentioned some).  I could make some  
up on the spot, e.g., that something which is trampled underfoot and 
considered  worthless -- sand -- can in fact be incredibly valuable and important 
-- when  silicon is turned into computer chips.  And so the Jews....etc.
I would urge you to read a magnificent, fascinating and inspiring  science 
book about how the universe not only gives signs of being Designed, but  
also gives signs that its Designer deliberately planted clues to His  
existence.  The book is called *THE PRIVILEGED PLANET: HOW OUR PLACE IN THE  COSMOS 
IS DESIGNED FOR DISCOVERY* -- by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W.  Richards. 
Meanwhile, see "The Galaxy Song," a delightful and edifying  little video 
about the vast size of the universe:

--Toby  Katz



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

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 05:21:57 -0500
[Avodah] Chabad and Putting on Tefillin on Chol Moed

I have posted Lamed Alef, Sif Beis from the Baal Ha Tanya's Shulchan Aruch at


It deals with the din of tefillin on Chol Moed.  Given what he wrote 
here, I do not understand why Lubavitchers do not put on tefillin on 
Chol Moed.  Indeed, I wonder if the Baal Ha Tanya himself wore 
tefillin on Chol Moed.


Go to top.

Message: 9
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 16:23:50 -0500
[Avodah] Is Thanksgiving Kosher

 From http://bit.ly/rBHZcv

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It 
is no longer (and perhaps never was) a 
celebration affiliated with any particular 
religion or faith, although some in America 
celebrate with religious ceremonies?.

The first and most significant issue in 
discussing whether it is 
[acceptable according to Jewish law] to celebrate 
Thanksgiving is whether it is permissible to eat 
a Thanksgiving meal, with the classical foods 
that American tradition indicates one should eat 
at this meal: turkey and cranberry sauce. Among 
the authorities of the previous generation, three 
different positions have been taken on this 
topic, and these three positions have each been 
accepted by various halakhic authorities of the current generation.

See the above URL for the rest of this article.

This article is excerpted from 
http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm  The 
article at this URL contains an appendix about Halloween.  YL

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

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 15:28:32 -0800 (PST)
[Avodah] avimielech and avraham

avimelech and avraham:
how could they swear to one another on what their
"descendants" would do??

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

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: "Joel C. Salomon" <joelcsalo...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 21:32:36 -0500
Re: [Avodah] avimielech and avraham

On 11/20/2011 06:28 PM, Harvey Benton wrote:
> avimelech and avraham:
> how could they swear to one another on what their
> "descendants" would do??

Note that Avimelekh did not obligate his descendants in any way.  Rav
S.R. Hirsch suggests that his allowing Avraham to live unmolested in his
territory was sufficient (in Avimelekh's eyes) to request that Avraham's
descendants act peacefully towards the Pelishtim.

Rav Hirsch also notes that an "Avimelekh" cannot make promises on behalf
of later generations, but can trust that an "Avraham" will raise his
children to keep their word.


Go to top.

Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 16:13:25 -0500
[Avodah] Lessons From Jacob and Esau

RSRH's brilliant essay about educating children with this title can be read at


In part he writes

If anything should draw our attention to the importance of the
right education, it surely must be the history of the families whom
Divine Providence chose to help determine the development of man-
kind in general and of the Jewish people in particular. Cain and Abel,
Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau-these three pairs of brothers were
each products of the same home and raised under the same influences.
Jacob and Esau were, in fact, twins, carried together in the same womb
and born at the same time. Each of these three pairs of brothers was
nurtured with the same care and attention. And yet, in each case the
two brothers grew up to be completely different from one another. In
each instance we see that only one of the brothers followed the godly
pursuits to which their home had been dedicated, while the other was
utterly lost to them. Should these family histories not give us pause
and spur us on to do everything within our power to raise our own
children that not only the one or the other, but all of them should grow
to follow their God-ordained spiritual and moral calling? Should we
not make a careful study of these family histories so that, if possible,
we may discover why the educational methods applied by fathers of
the stature of Abraham and Isaac failed, so that we may learn the pitfalls
that must pose an even greater threat to the educational efforts of
ordinary people like ourselves? For surely, in every other respect, the
influence of education cannot have been more successful anywhere else
than it was at the home of Abraham and Sarah. Truly, in order to
understand the power with which the Father of all mankind endowed
parental education, and the results He expects from the influence of
the proper upbringing, we need only, as the Prophet Isaiah puts it,
"look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the pickhammer
with which you were chiseled; look to Abraham, your father, and to
Sarah, who should give birth to us all" {Isaiah 51, 1-2).
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 28, Issue 236

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 >