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Volume 30: Number 98

Fri, 20 Jul 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:50 -0400
[Avodah] Raising Nitzotzos

On Areivim, at Thu, Jul 19 1:16pm EDT, R Yosef Skolnick posted in a
discussion of R' Manis Friedman's (who is L) recording about living
biqedushah in a world that has the internet. He wrote:

:> A chosid is not afraid of klipa

: Yeah that seems to be the chabad approach -- from discussions with chabad
: semicha students.  There are a few differences in approach to dealing with
: the yetzer hara -- one is to say "ah Mr. Yetzer, your a nothing, a gornisht
: compared to us.  We will defeat you as we always do" and the other is "Wow,
: you are so hard to get around, I am too afraid to even go anywhere near
: you."  He is advocating the first approach (which is consistent with the
: lubavitch approach)

And I wonder how many times we fail to overcome the yeitzer because we
begin the battle convinced we couldn't possibly win.

In certain martial arts (Judo, Aikido) one uses circular motion to
harness the opponent's momentum against them. If they throw a punch,
don't block the punch, pull the arm in the direction it's already moving,
and thereby use their own energy to throw them.

One can play a parallel trick on the yeitzer. The person who taught it
to me (1) said it was Lub in origin and (2) associated it with the Ari's
notion of raising nitzotzos. (Although the above mashal is mine.)

Say in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei I have an irrelevent thought.
The "karate" way of dealing with it is to resist the thought by dropping
it, looking back into the siddur, paying attention to what the word

Or, one can elevate the thought. A worry about parnasah crosses the mind?
Instead of forcibly dropping it, I can remember that parnasah comes from
HQBH, and turn that worry itself into a tefillah before moving back to
what I should have been focusing on.

Even a passing memory of a woman I shouldn't have noticed on the bus that
morning. (It /is/ summer in NY, after all.) One can recall Who designed
that woman, both the appearance which hooked her image into my memory and
everything more substansive I can assume exists behind it. Do a little
mental "barukh shakakhah Lo be'olamo" and thereby give a degree of sanctity
to the thought.

I find it's much more effective than trying to abruptly switch tracks.

(My apologies to anyone thrown by my confessing to foibles we all share,
I presume, but never discuss.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
mi...@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 2
From: Rafi Hecht <rhe...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:42:38 -0400
[Avodah] The Vilna Gaon?s Theorem ? Fact or Urban Legend?

In the Yeshiva world some people like to attribute the Vilna Gaon?s
mathematical expertise (from his publication of a Trigonometry book Ayil
Meshulash) and giving him credit to Cramer?s Theorem (his grandfather?s
last name was Kremer, hence the derivative). I would like to debunk the

Read more: http://bit.ly/OJSzDN

Best Regards,

Rafi Hecht
*rhe...@gmail.com* <rhe...@gmail.com>
*LinkedIN:* *http://ca.linkedin.com/in/ra
*Facebook:* *http://www.facebook.com/rhecht*&l
*Twitter:* *https://www.twitter.com/#!/
*Personal Site:* *www.rafihecht.com* <http://www.rafihecht.com>
------------------------------------------------------- *
*Tekkie Blog:* *www.rjhsolutions.ca* <http://www.rjhsolutions.ca>
*Jewish Blog:* *www.mywesternwall.net* <http://www.mywesternwall.net>
*Favorite Quotes*

   2. This is your life. Do what you like and do it often... I wonder what
   it's like shooting spitballs at everyone? - Anon
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Message: 3
From: Rafi and Shifra Goldmeier <goldmeier.fam...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 20:23:41 +0300
[Avodah] bittul torah for a talmid chochom's levaya

there is an obligation to stop learning torah for a talmid chochoms 
funeral, until he has at least 600,000 attending.

My question is does that include creating a situation when people will 
also not learn the next day? People didnt get home until 3 am, or 5 am, 
and clearly would not be able to learn the next day after being up all 
night. My kids all went late to school and missed enough learning to 
prompt my question. I did not work efficiently today - if not for the 
fact that i work mostly for myself, I would have had a shailoh of 
short-changing a boss. So, is the next days bittul torah also included 
in that halacha or only the bittul torah at the time of the funeral?

kol tuv
Rafi Goldmeier


Advertise on Life in Israel blog!! See
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Message: 4
From: hankman <hank...@bell.net>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:01:35 -0400
[Avodah] Tefilin bamidbor (was Lehadlik Ner (on tefilin))

I have since found in the sefer Yad Nasan, more in the same vein as
I found in the Mishnas Chaim from my previous post and that I repeat
below. The YN brings several more sources that also postulate that for
various reasons they had no mitzvas tefilin in the midbor or at least the
first 39 years. He brings from the Klozenberg R. that they had no tefilin
in the midbor since the last 2 parshios were only given in Devarim in
the 40th year. He also adds another reason because in the parsha they
did have in Bo, it states vehaya ki yeviacha and one could take that to
apply to the entire parsha (including tefilin) -- so that would exclude
the period bamidbor. The YN also quotes the Panim Yafos that perhaps
(ulei) they were not mekayeim tefilin because 2 parshios were only given
barvos moav (in the 40th year). He then states there are several rishonim
that also imply there was no tefilin in the midbor. The YN then brings
a Ramban that the command (tzivui) of mitzvas tefilin is "ukeshartom"
(like RZS wrote) and this word (command) only appears in the latter 2
parshios given in devarim (year 40) whereas the wording in the first 2
parshios in Bo do not use the phraseology of a command rather the word
vehaya is used.

[Email #2. -micha]

I have found one more item relevant to my last post in the sefer Devar
Yaakov on Kid 37a. while discussing the sugya of mitzvos hateluyos
ba?aretz and those that one must do bh?l. The Shita there brings in the
name of the Raved (before the gm? comes to the idea of chovas haguf)
that since we have a hekesh of Tefilin to peter chamor, and we find that
peter chamor was done in the midbor (ie. bh?l, witness the exchange of
the animals of the leviim for those of the y-m) therefore tefilin are
also mechuyav bh?l. It would seem to me that the same hekesh would tell
us that they were also doing mitzvas tefilin in the midbor. Although you
might argue back that if it is i?efshar, since they only had 2 parshios
then, there would not be a limud from that hekesh in that respect,
just for h?l in general.

But the sefer Hamakneh writes that the exchange in the midbor with the
leviim was a one time horoas shoh so there was not a valid hekesh and
thus that would also answer my question from there.

Kol tuv
Chaim Manaster

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Message: 5
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 20:58:42 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] The Main Idea of Judaism

From: "Akiva Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>

>>  On the other hand, I remember discussing this topic once with one of my 
rebbeim.  He gave me the example of where I can choose between learning 
this sefer or that  sefer. It is absurd to think that either of them would be 
listed as assur to  learn. And as long as I do spend my time learning, can it 
be said that there is  a bigger chiyuv to learn from one over the other?

Yet, if one of them  will help me grow more than the other, don't I owe it 
to myself to avail myself  of that opportunity? How dare I squander my time 
and energy by learning the one  which will help me less! And do I really 
think that HaShem doesn't care which I  choose? (Keep in mind that I might not 
know which sefer is the better one for my  situation, but that's really 
beside the point.) <<

Akiva  Miller

One of the list's talmidei chachamim will provide the exact citation, but I 
 am pretty sure that the Gemara says a person should learn what he is drawn 
to,  what interests him, what inspires him, what he enjoys learning. No one 
person  can learn everything. Different people have different interests and 
different  abilities, and people should read and learn the seforim that 
most appeal to  them. 

--Toby Katz
Romney  -- good values, good family, good  hair


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Message: 6
From: "Daniel M. Israel" <d...@cornell.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 21:56:05 +0100
Re: [Avodah] O(n^2) algorithm for matrix multiplication

On Jul 12, 2012, at 11:22 AM, David Cohen wrote:
> Yishuvo shel olam aside, I also see inherent value in learning math:
> it is truth.  We learn Torah because it is revealed truth, and some of
> us study science because it is another reflection of the ways of
> Hashem, who is truth.  The laws of math are objectively true,
> independent of their mapping onto the physical world.

Certainly this would then apply to the sciences (although perhaps what you
write below wouldn't.)	I'm curious if you would say this about humanities.
 They truths they expose are of an altogether different type.  And art,
which doesn't generate truth, does help "fill out" all the potentialities
of HaShem's creation.  And what about art criticism, which explicates all
that are "fills out."  How far would you take this?  (I'm sitting on the
fence for now.)

>  I remember that I once shocked a friend when I said that Hashem,
>  notwithstanding His omnipotence and ability to change any of the laws
>  of physics, cannot change the value of Pi.  I don't mean changing the
>  semantics -- anybody could say that a circle means something else, or
>  that 3.14159 means something else -- but the value of Pi is
>  objectively true, independent of the physical existence of the
>  universe.

Rambam basically says this in the MN (in fact, his specific example is from
geometry).  His point is that certain things are intrinsically impossible,
but nothing causes them to be impossible, so this is not actually a limit
on God.  Now, I'm not aware of a specific source that contradicts this, but
I think there are others who would argue on that.  It seems like the idea
may well be rooted in some of the Aristotelean notions regarding what is
necessary (not that that says anything either way about whether it is
correct).  Here too, I must plead being on the fence; it seems to me that
the this is a question that ultimately asks how the process of creating
yesh m'ayin works, which is something intrinsically beyond our knowledge.

Daniel M. Israel
President, Kol BeRamah Torah Learning Center of Santa Fe

Daniel M. Israel

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Message: 7
From: "Daniel M. Israel" <d...@cornell.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 22:02:06 +0100
Re: [Avodah] The Main Idea of Judaism

On Jul 5, 2012, at 6:39 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
> ...but to open the question of how one decides what is "the
> main idea", as variously explained by the numerous derakhim.
> ...
> I have problems with the notion that there is one right answer. But in
> that part of the book, before getting to the "how to fix it" part, RGR
> effectively raises the question of how one would find /any/ right answer.

I've been review this thread from the beginning, and unless I missed
something, it seems like there hasn't been much (or any) argument against
the idea that there is a "main idea" of Judaism.

I would argue that the main idea of Judaism is kol haTorah kulah.  The
reason extracting a main idea is so hard is precisely that all the pieces
interweave so tightly.	To the extent that the Torah is echad, it is as a
singularity a main idea, but to the extent that we are incapable of
comprehending it all simultaneously as one, that's not helpful for
answering your question.  But choosing any thread will automatically
distort the whole.

This answer is not convenient: it doesn't market well, and it is hard to
build a mussar campaign around.  But that is because Torah and Judaism were
not intended to be convenient, as per RYBS's footnote 4.

Daniel M. Israel

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Message: 8
From: "Daniel M. Israel" <d...@cornell.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 21:54:00 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Medrashim [was: Egel Zahav]

On Jul 15, 2012, at 8:41 PM, <T6...@aol.com> <T6...@aol.com> wrote:
> My own policy is not to ask questions about one medrash based on a different medrash or on contradictory divrei Chazal, but to keep them separate.

I don't know about policy, but it is clear that there are midrashim that
contradict each other.	OTOH, there is also clear precedent for trying to
harmonize midrashim.  Knowing which is which is the tricky part.

However, we can't completely rule out a question just because it is based on a two separate midrashim.
> OK but there's an obscure medrash that when Pinchas stabbed Zimri and
> Kosbi, a miracle happened and they did not die until after he left the
> tent -- because otherwise he, being a kohen, would not have even been
> allowed to kill them!  A kohen can't purposely make himself tamei
> meis. 
> But that medrash depends on the assumption that Pinchas was /already/
> a kohen when he stabbed Zimri and Kosbi -- because, if he wasn't
> already a kohen, what did he need this miracle for?!
> You can't combine those two medrashim -- that he was already a kohen
> when he killed Zimri and Kosbi, or that he was only made a kohen
> afterwards as a reward for doing this deed.

Perhaps the tanna of the latter midrash doesn't agree with the shita given
by Rashi on bris shalom.  OTOH, I think reconciling this is not so hard. 
Perhaps HKBH made him a kohen immediately, even while he was still in the

> So, to be practical about it, one year the rabbi can give a drasha
> about how the Jews wanted an eigel because that's the god they were
> familiar with from their stay in Egypt, and he can wind it up by
> saying that in every generation, Jews are drawn to various idols, be
> it JC, Marx, Freud, Gaia or whatnot.

Or Ayn Rand, or Milton Friedman.  "Idols" of this type can be found on both sides of the spectrum.

Daniel M. Israel
President, Kol BeRamah Torah Learning Center of Santa Fe

Daniel M. Israel

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Message: 9
From: "Daniel M. Israel" <dan...@kolberamah.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 22:50:24 +0100
Re: [Avodah] [Areivim] what proportion would return to the

In a discussion on Areivim, Zev Sero wrote:
> tas we've been told repeatedly, once you're signed up [for the IDF] you're
> not under your control, and not under your rabbonim's control, and your
> commanding officers can give you whatever orders they see fit, and you're
> stuck with them.

You are not under your rabbonim's control, but in that sense, you are under
the control of the rabbonim of the IDF.  This raises some interesting
policy questions about who the IDF should be appointing as rabbonim, and
how much does meeting peoples hashkafic comfort zone weight against having
a more unified derech in psak for optimal running of a military.

But the question I wanted to raise here is something else.  To what extent
is an army unit a kahilah in the sense that someone joining such a unit
would be obligated to accept the local mara d'asra?  Is there a difference
between a charedi soldier and a charedi who is forced for health or
parnassa reasons to move to a town where the Rav ha'ir is RZ?  In general
in such a case the typical response is to not use the local Rav, and speak
to a more charedi Rav by phone, but there really is not halachic
justification for this, is there?  (And I write this as someone who is as
guilty of it as everyone else.)

Also, a soldier does go home sometimes, so he might be similar to someone
who lives in two different communities.  I don't know what the normal din
is for someone, for example, who divides his time between two homes, and
the rabbanim of the two different places he lives have a machlokes over
something nogeah to him.

Daniel M. Israel

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