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Volume 30: Number 134

Tue, 25 Sep 2012

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Message: 1
From: saul newman <newman...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 09:17:45 -0700
[Avodah] physics and Og

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 12:50:02 -0400
[Avodah] Rav Breuer's Derech Halimud: The Way of Old Ashkenaz

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 03:26:00AM -0400, Prof. Levine wrote to Areivim
[and I'm filling out the quote, here]:
> From http://tinyurl.com/9zxthee

"The article on Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, [HaR' Levi Yosef Beuer zt"l],
that we have been writing about in recent postings, by Rabbi Yaakov Loch
[shlit"a], also discusses his derech haLimud. Here are some excerpts
from pages 41-42 to give you an idea of how Rav Breuer learned gemara
and other parts of [TSBP]."

> "Rav [Yosef] Breuer followed the derech halimud of his father, Rav
> Shlomo Breuer, who had been a close talmid of the Ksav Sofer.... Rav
> Shlomo Breuer belonged to the school of the Chasam Sofer in his derech
> halimud... striving primarily to understand thoroughly the text at
> hand.... learned with his talmidim only 'on the daf'. Never did the Gaon
> come with prepared solutions to the gemara. He never discussed only
> those parts of the daf where he had something to be mechadesh.... he
> strove for clarity in the pshat of the Gemara... He would never turn to
> the other Rishonim until Rashi and Tosafos were clear: in particular,
> he would get annoyed if one went right away to the Rambam... he eschewed
> any attempt at pilpul, and stressed the careful understanding of an
> inyan rather than hasty coverage of subject matter.

"In recent times some have replaced the above with different
approaches. But the old way still has much going for it, even without
invoking tradition, even if it seems simple and modest and lacking
the fireworks and pizzazz of some newer approaches. If more people
today would follow such a derech, we would be the better for it, as a
people. [KNLAD]."

I think that what R/D JB called "fireworks and pizzazz" R' Chaim
Brisker would have called raising the gemara to the level of rigor
and intellectual excitement that would otherwise attract bachurim
to the universities.

We discussed the curriculum submitted by Volozhin to the gov't
in 1851. My translation of R' Dr Shaul Shtampfer's Hebrew is at

I noted that they showed much more interest in beqi'us than we do today.
All of Tanakh in 2 years, 5/6 of the Mishnah, 10 mesechtos gemara, and 3/4
of the SA. And the gemara was learned with Rashi and Rosh, implying a
focus on peshat and deriving halakhah lemaaseh.

R' AE Kaplan outlined a derekh halimmud to be utilized at Hildesheimer's,
but the RBSO took him before he could implement it. He said it was deeply
influenced by R' Dovid Zvi Hoffman (the Melamid leHo'il), his predecessor
as RY at the seminary. RAEK himself was a product of Slabodka, who started
out in Telzh. RAEK Sr was niftar before RAEK was born, which is how they
share the same name. The man RAEK called "der tatte", his step-father,
was a Telzher, and his wife was raised by Telzhers as well. So it's an
interesting mix of influences that would shape his derekh halimud.

According to according to the ArtScroll book on R' Yaakov Kamenecki (pg
85), RYK said that had RAEK lived longer, the endire derekh halimud in
all the Lithuanian yeshivos would have been restructured to follow him.

Apparently HQBH wanted the rise of Brisk.

Here's RYGB's description (from <http://www.aishdas.org/rygb/raek.htm>):
    Already in 1919 Reb Avraham Elya began pondering the derech halimud
    of Lithuanian yeshivos. He felt it was necessary to put more stress
    and expand upon the particular approach developed by the Vilna
    Gaon zt"l (B'Ikvos HaYir'ah, p. 21) and Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of
    Brisk. The underlying principle of this approach - the systematic
    application of which was to be his life's great unfinished work -
    was simple: a return to the derech of the Rishonim, from pilpul back
    to understanding (ibid., p. 163). In Reb Avraham Elya's opinion, the
    return to the Rishonim's approach began with the Gaon's, and, to a
    greater extent, Reb Chaim's emphasis on substance and understanding
    over structure and creativity. The trend among Acharonim until Reb
    Chaim's time was to resolve questions by answering them. This could
    be done essentially in one of two ways. One way is the refutation
    of the question's premise and the presentation of an alternate
    premise. The other method entailed the creation of an elaborate series
    of additional premises ("hakdamos") - not necessarily alluded to in
    the actual sugya - which would limit the application of the question's
    premise. Reb Chaim, on the other hand, did not answer questions. He
    would, rather, define the elements of a sugya conceptually, with
    such clarity and accuracy that any questions were automatically
    resolved (Divrei Talmud, vol. 1, pp. 23-24, and p. 42). Reb Avraham
    Elya proposed the systematic application of this approach to all
    of Shas. In and of itself, such a work would have been a milestone
    in the history of Talmudic commentary. Reb Avraham Elya, however,
    envisioned a much farther reaching accomplishment. Reb Avraham Elya
    set out to combine the lomdus of Eastern Europe with the scholarship
    of Western Europe. [24] He identified eleven areas of interpretation,
    explanation, and conclusion that were to be incorporated in the
    new commentary. Indeed, it is in his essay: "On the Compilation of
    a Commentary to Talmud Bavli, its Necessity and Approach" and the
    addenda to this essay, [25] that Reb Avraham Elya's extraordinary genius
    and scope is most clearly manifest. In brief, the eleven areas are:

    1) Issues not completely clarified in earlier commentaries (Reb
    Avraham Elya brilliantly leads us through an example of such an issue:
    the definition of amud hashachar [26]).

    2) Corruptions in the texts of the Rishonim.

    3) Explanations that are found in one sugya, but not in a parallel

    4) Crystallization of underlying principles.

    5) Exposure of previously unknown or little known explanations found
    in the Rishonim.

    6) Comparison and contrast of Talmudic sugyos with parallel sugyos
    in the Midrashei Halacha, Tosefta, Talmud Yerushalmi and Agada.

    7) Full and deep understanding of each sugya (here Reb Avraham Elya
    notes that the capacity to engage in this pursuit was enhanced by the
    tools introduced by Reb Chaim. He notes, however, the importance of
    reaching equal depths in the understanding of Agada, and notes his
    intention to follow in the footsteps of the Maharal in this regard).

    8) Following each sugya through to its Halachic conclusions. [27]

    9) Introduction of possible textual emendations from alternate

    10) Translations of obscure words (not necessarily foreign ones, as he
    demonstrates with an eye opening analysis of the simple word "midda").

    11) Dikduk and keria (for example, he notes, how many Talmidei
    Chachamim are aware that it is possible that the correct pronunciation
    is "kol vachomer?").


    [24] He stresses several times, however, that his spirit was far
    closer to the lomdus of the East than to the scholarship of the
    West. See B'Ikvos HaYir'ah, p. 67 and pp. 208-209.

    [25] Divrei Talmud, pp. 9-88. The addenda were compiled by Rabbi Tzvi
    Kaplan from the notes his father left, and they are attempts to apply
    the principles defined in the essay to specific sugyos. The Commentary
    on the beginning of Masseches Kiddushin is particularly impressive.

    [26] R. Pinchas Kehati zt"l quotes the Divrei Talmud in his Mishnayos
    Mevu'aros commentary on the first mishna in Masseches Berachos.

    [27] Such a project had already been proposed, as Reb Avraham Elya
    notes, by Rav Kook, and the Gemaros in the Halacha Berura series and
    Rabbi Yitzchak Arieli zt"l's Eynayim LaMishpat represent efforts in
    this areas.

And his own description is at <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/38099>. But
it was converted by a R' Eliyahu Soloveichik and R' Yoel "haQatan"
(Klein?) into text, word format, in 2003. See

BTW, anyone want to collate an organized index to the VIDC posts of 2004?


Micha Berger             "The worst thing that can happen to a
mi...@aishdas.org        person is to remain asleep and untamed."
http://www.aishdas.org          - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
Fax: (270) 514-1507
Areivim mailing list

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 14:02:03 -0400
[Avodah] Explaining Seder haAvodah

Anyone have suggestions for what to say before YK Mussaf to a room of
semi-observant O affiliated Jews so as to help them relate to Seder

What I do for myself for Mussaf (in general, not just YK) or saying
Qorbanos in Shacharis, when nothing else works, is to lament that
inability to relate itself. Being so far removed from the BHMQ that I
can't bring myself to feel the loss of animal sacrifice is itself a loss
to mourn.

But when speaking to people whose shemiras Shabbos is itself iffy, I
doubt I can get them to feel something based on an abstract desire to
better conform to the values in the Torah.

So I am begging for suggestions.


Micha Berger             It is our choices...that show what we truly are,
mi...@aishdas.org        far more than our abilities.
http://www.aishdas.org                           - J. K. Rowling
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 4
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 20:42:46 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Metz on Shabbos for hypospadias, but not

> R' Meir Rabi wrote:
>> Take heating water for the Rach HaNimol as an example. I am
>> confident and have verified this with a few doctors here that
>> hot water may have some benefits in promoting blood circulation
>> and comforting the baby, but unless a medical reason is
>> mandated by a doctor, we are not Mechallel Shabbos for this.

[R' Akiva Miller replied:]
> If you asked about *hot* water, then what you write seems reasonable to me.

> But consider this: Perhaps the medical benefit is not from *hot* water,
> but from *cooked* water. In other words, pasteurized, disinfected water.
> Perhaps Chazal saw this benefit in hot water, and did not realize that the
> benefit remains even after the water has cooled.

My (AF) response: RAM, that is a very bright insight that offers a
great alternate peshat in teh gemara. However, R' Dr. Halpern spoke of
hot water, to promote blood circulation in limbs that are at risk of
becoming gangrenous. And hot water is also what the Rishonim seem to
have understood.

Gmar chatima tova,
Arie Folger,
Recent blog posts on http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/
* RCA Decries German Threats on Brit Milah
* Unterschriften-sammlung fr einen offenen Brief zum Schutz des Rechtes auf Beschneidung
* Plumbing the Depths of Aggaddic Exegesis
* Did the Talmud Suggest G-d Has a Head? Learning to Interpret Rabbinic Legend
* Photos From Interfaith Meeting

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Message: 5
From: saul newman <newman...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 11:06:02 -0700
[Avodah] trig problem

in a local  magazine there was an article about  the  use of  canvas walls
 for the sukka with the in herent problems.  a shitta brought down [dont
have it in front of me ]  was that  lechatchila  the flex wall would have
to 'not lift up 3 tfachim'  in a ruach metzuya.    i  knew  there were
poskim like the CI talking about lateral movement  3 tfachim.   i cant
 imagine a wind  taking it  vertically up 3  tfachim, but i could imagine a
suspended from the top  sheet being lifted 3 tfachim up  when swayed a
certain number of degrees from the vertical  ie  the hypotenuse of this
triangle would  be missing  more than 3 tfachim when measured vertically
from where it has been angled.  i wonder if someone could do the math ,
assuming an 8 ft high sukka.
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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 16:22:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] trig problem

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 11:06:02AM -0700, saul newman wrote:
: ...                                                i  knew  there were
: poskim like the CI talking about lateral movement  3 tfachim.   i cant
:  imagine a wind  taking it  vertically up 3  tfachim, but i could imagine a
: suspended from the top  sheet being lifted 3 tfachim up  when swayed a
: certain number of degrees from the vertical  ie  the hypotenuse of this
: triangle would  be missing  more than 3 tfachim when measured vertically
: from where it has been angled.  i wonder if someone could do the math ,

You seem to assume the top is tied to the pole, and it's the bottom
that isn't stable.

Let's start with the first extreme: If the billowing is on top, then
the fabric is going straight out, and then down. And so for the facric
to rise 3 tefachim, it would be billowing out 3 tefachim.

The hypoteneuse is always shorter than the sum of the legs of a right
triangle. After all, it's the "straight line" which is "the shortest
distance between two points", whereas going down and then across to
reach the same point is not. Unless the billowing is straight out from
where it's tied to the top pole.

To deal with the other cases, I need to convert to a single unit
of measure. So, I will speak of a 96" high sukkah, where the fabric
is raised 9" (appx 3 tefachim a/k/a 1/2 ammah).

The other extreme is that the billowing is on the bottom. You have an
96" hypoteneuse -- the fabric, and the top majority of the wall that
has fabric makes for a 96-9 = 87" vertical side. So your question is
what would be the length of the horizontal side.

87^2 + x^2 = 96^2 -- Pythagorean theorem
x = 40.6" = 3' 4.6"

That's billowing out pretty far!

The middle case would be if the billowing were halfway up. See this
"picture", in a fixed-width font
   | \
   | /

The vertical line is where the wall should be, the diagonals trace
the fabric, and the horizontal line is the widest point of the bulge.
We can just divide the problem. Each triangle accounts for half the
height, so the vertical side for one triangle is (96-9)/2 = 43.5".
Each triangle also takes up half the fabric, so your hypoteneuse is
96 / 2 = 48" (4').

So, it's
43.5^2 + x^2 = 48^2
x = 20.3" = 2' 2.3"

IOW, the lower the billow the further out it has to be to raise the

And that's being silly, and assuming the billow is more like a
triangle than some weird curve.

So, if it billows out 3 tefachim, it won't take up 3 tefachim of the
height of the fabric.

Of course, fabric doesn't really move in triangles, and in fact
ripples chaotically in the wind. So all this math is only to give a
ballpark feel of an answer.


Micha Berger             You are where your thoughts are.
mi...@aishdas.org                - Ramban, Igeres Hakodesh, Ch. 5
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 7
From: "Akiva Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:26:46 GMT
Re: [Avodah] tunes on YK

R' Eli Turkel asked:

> RYBS points out that selichot stress the unworthiness of man
> while piyut stresses the grandeur on man. On YK both these
> elements are displayed. However, RYBS states that on kol
> nidre night the emphasis is on selichot and not piyut. One
> example he brings is "ke-hinei ke-chomer beyad hatozer". The
> idea is that G-d fashions everything and we are just the
> object of G-d's maniuplations.
> Nevertheless, in all the shuls I have attended this is sung
> with a happy tune which seems to be the opposite of the intent
> of the selicha that we are lowly beings.

Far be it from me to dispute Rav Soloveitchik. If I saw his words inside,
I'd probably respond differently. But I don't see "unworthiness of man" and
"lowly beings" as equivalent.

Unworthiness is when my requests excess what I deserve. Lowly simply
describes how I was created. "Ki hinay kachomer" surely does describe how
we were created, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. One could even say
that we are honored to have the privilege of being HaShem's puppets (a
metaphor not found in my edition of that selicha, but could just as well
have been there, in light of the ones which do appear there).

The refrain is, perhaps, even more telling: "Labris habet! -- We made a
deal! You promised!" The tune of that refrain with might be described as
"expectantly triumphant", which I think fits nicely.

For more about this poem, I suggest the just-published machzor of British
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (ISBN 9789653013452), who spends almost four
pages (lx to lxiii) on it in his Introduction.

Akiva Miller

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

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Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 00:02:52 +0200
Re: [Avodah] tunes on YK

<<Far be it from me to dispute Rav Soloveitchik. If I saw his words inside,
I'd probably respond differently. But I don't see "unworthiness of man" and
"lowly beings" as equivalent. >>

There are 70 ways to learn and so different approaches.
Instead of my imprecise explanations, let me quote some phrases from Noraot
haRav vol 13, p107

"In my humble opinion the service on Yom Kippur night revolves around the
motif of man as a guilty and worthless creature. Thus the central selicha
on Yom Kippur night
(again he had previously discussed the difference between piyut and
selicha) is that of - Ki Hine ke-chomer be-yad ha-yotzer - We are as a
formless matter in the hands
of the artisan. This conveys man's complete dependence on G-d his weakness
and helplessness. On Yom Kippur night we also recite - Re-eh amidatenu
dalim ve-rekim - we also recite
selichot of - Umnum ashmotenu rabu - and - ata mavin ta-alumot lev - both
of which contain a complete condemnation of man. The piyut - Shomeah Tefila
- recited at
the commencement of each selichot sets the tone that man is a worthless
being. ... On Yom Kippur night we do not recite any piyutim that describe
man's preeminent position.

In Neilah we have both morifs
Me anu me chayenu ... ha-lo kol ha-giborim ke-ayin le-fanecha ... u-motar
ha-adam min ha-behemah ayin ki ha-kol havel
this is one of the most pessimistic statements about the philosophy of man
However we then proclaim
Ata hivdalta enosh me-rosh ve-takirehu la-amod le-fanecha ...
So in YK we fluctuate between the two motifs

Eli Turkel
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Message: 9
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 18:32:35 -0500
Re: [Avodah] physics and Og

It's midrash.  Moshe wasn't 18 feet tall.  He didn't jump 18 feet in the 
air with an 18 foot spear.  Taking midrashim literally like that robs 
them of their real meaning(s).


On 9/24/2012 11:17 AM, saul newman wrote:
> http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-phys
> ics-of-superheroes-as-applied.html 

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:36:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] physics and Og

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 06:32:35PM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
> On 9/24/2012 11:17 AM, saul newman wrote:
>> http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2012/09/
>> the-physics-of-superheroes-as-applied.html 

> It's midrash.  Moshe wasn't 18 feet tall.  He didn't jump 18 feet in the  
> air with an 18 foot spear.  Taking midrashim literally like that robs  
> them of their real meaning(s).

That's the conclusion the blog post reaches.

One commentor offers an alternate that takes a position different than
the numerous rishonim and acharonim (RDE posted a list once) who are
against taking fantastical medrashim literally.

> At [Mon Sep 24, '12] 10:08 PM, Milhouse said...
>> Og's ankle was 45 feet off the ground, meaning that he was 300-400
>> feet tall.

> You assume that he was proportioned normally. But the Chumash tells us
> almost explicitly that he was not: his bed was nine amos long [be'amas
> ish], which Rashi tells us means with his own amos. In other words,
> in proportion to his height, his arms were 1/3 the size they should
> be. So, perhaps he had tiny arms; or perhaps he just had enormous feet,
> relative to the rest of him, and his 45-foot ankles supported a body
> that was only another 30 or 40 feet tall. If the rest of him was more or
> less in normal proportions, and his head was ~35 feet above his ankles,
> then his forearms would be ~10 feet long, and a 90-foot bed would make
> sense for an 80-foot Og.


Micha Berger             Between stimulus & response, there is a space.
mi...@aishdas.org        In that space is our power to choose our
http://www.aishdas.org   response. In our response lies our growth
Fax: (270) 514-1507      and our freedom. - Victor Frankl, (MSfM)

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Message: 11
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 06:13:11 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Definition of Religion

At 03:24 AM 9/25/2012, Ben Waxman wrote on Areivim:

>The halacha recognizes this point. We are supposed to cook all our 
>food before Yom Tov but if cooking food ahead of time will result in 
>poorer tasting food, we can make it fresh.

>I am unaware that "We are supposed to cook all our food before Yom 
>Tov."  Indeed,  my understanding of the halacha is that there is no 
>problem with cooking food that will be eaten on Yom Tov on Yom Tov 
>regardless of taste issues.

Please supply a halachic source for your statement "We are supposed 
to cook all our food before Yom Tov but if cooking food ahead of time 
will result in poorer tasting food, we can make it fresh."


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Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 10:21:41 -0400
[Avodah] More on Gmar Chasima Tovah?

I posted the following on Areivim, and I am 
continuing the discussion on Avodah.

Over the past few days people have been wishing 
me a "Gmar Chasima Tova."  I do not understand 
why they do not simply say "Chasima Tova."

My understanding is that the Ksiva is on RH,  and 
the Chasima is on YK.  According to some the 
final Chasima is on Hoshana Rabba.  If so then it 
seems to me that Chasima Tova is appropriate for 
the period between RH and YK, and Gmar Chasima 
Tova should be reserved for the period between YK and Hoshana Rabba.

Someone pointed me to the following at http://tinyurl.com/97vzrho

Please see Yerushaseinu, volume 2 pages ? tof mem 
gimel - tof mem daled , By Rav Binyomin Shlomo 
Hamburger. In short, here is a translation:

?G?mar Chasima Tova is not old, and has not found 
by any of the Rishonim or Acharonim before the 
Chasam Sofer. Even the Chasam Sofer himself would 
say Chasima Tova without the word G?mar. See 
SH?UT Chasam Sofer, Yoreh Deah were he begins 
?Chasima Tova?Moshe Hakatan Sofer from Frankfurt 
am Main??also see ?and other places in the Chassam Sofer.

?There is only one responsa of the Chasam Sofer 
were he uses the language of G?mar Chasima Tova, 
found in SH?UT, Yoreh Deah, responsa resh daled, 
were he says ?Hashem yigmor b?ado, g?mar chasima 
tova?. In this situation, Chasam Sofer is merely 
using the language of David Hamelech in Tehillim 
Ches, Koof lamed Ches. This does not imply that 
this was the Chasam Sofer?s normal manner of speech.

?The phrase ?Chasima Tova? that the Chasam Sofer 
was accustomed to was known more than 100 years 
before he wrote his teshuvos as we find the 
lashon of ?Chasima Tova? in a responsa of R? 
Efraim HaKesher, author of Adnei Paz, [were he 
specifically mentions this lashon in conjunction 
with Ashkenaz ? see it inside this is a lot to 
type and translate]?We clearly see from here that 
in the days of the Adnei Paz the lashon was ?chasima tova?.

The phrase ?chasima tova? was common among all of 
Western Europe until the ?dor Ha?acharon? (I?m 
not sure if that refers to WWI or WWII ? perhaps 
I?ll ask R? Hamburger), and is the same phrase 
that is common among Sefardim. It is also 
mentioned by R? Menachem Gotleib of Hanover?

?R? Avraham Gershon ben Mendal Zaks, Rosh Yeshiva 
of Chafetz Chaim, was often makpid to only say 
Chasima Tova like the ancient Minhag. We see from 
here that even in Lithuania there were Talmedei 
Chachamim who recited the bracha in this language.?


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Message: 13
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 14:40:56 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Definition of Religion

Start with the second chapter of Shmirat Shabbat K'Hilchata. He says it 
there clearly and brings all of the relevant source material.


On 9/25/2012 12:13 PM, Prof. Levine wrote:
> Please supply a halachic source for your statement "We are supposed to 
> cook all our food before Yom Tov but if cooking food ahead of time 
> will result in poorer tasting food, we can make it fresh."
> YL

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