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Volume 30: Number 154

Mon, 12 Nov 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Akiva Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2012 11:38:32 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Eivah

Someone in this thread suggested:

> I think we should take out of the discussion anything that was
> a direct command from God or one of God's prophets

to which R' Eli Turkel responded:

> Remember Yonah

From such a terse response, I can't tell whether RET is supporting the idea
of removing nevuah from this discussion, or whether he's citing an example
which shows that it should remain *in* the discussion, so I'll offer my

It seems to me that the basic question in this thread is what to do when
our personal sense conflicts with a clear halacha, because one can argue
that the halacha is meant for a standard case but the case in front of me
is clearly different. By "different", I mean to include all sorts of
arguments which justify the end result that our conscience has already
demanded. Quite a few of these arguments have already been stated in this
thread. (Just so that I'm clear, two examples are the Bal Tishak'tzu of
cannibalism, or the Kal Vachomer of mikveh over shul.)

But the above paragraph cannot apply to a Direct Command From G-d, because
by its very nature, a DCFG is *not* a "standard case". Once one is in a
situation, and G-d tells you directly that "You must do this", there is no
longer any room to inject arguments that He might not have thought of. Just
do it! And thus the suggestion to continue debating what we'd do on a
desert island, but to leave the Akeidah off the table.

But this question has already been asked and answered. Yonah did receive a
DCFG, and he did apply his personal senses to it, and he did conclude that
the "right thing to do" was to evade/avoid the DCFG.

And he was wrong.

And this brings us back to the Akeidah. Avraham Avinu received a DCFG, and
meforshim point out that he could very easily have gone all lomdish,
pointing out the distinction between "raise him up" and actually killing
Yitzchak. But he did not. What he did do (in the context of this post) is
to accept the DCFG at its face value, and not inject any other values, the
way Yonah later did.

So if you're on a desert island and want to invent arguments to satisfy your conscience, that's one thing. But not when presented with a DCFG.

Akiva Miller

PS: There's an appropriate quotation to tag here, but I don't remember the
exact wording or where it appeared, and if anyone can supply it, I'd be
grateful: --- "It's actually very easy to do the Right Thing. But figuring
out which is the Right Thing, that's what is so difficult."

Banks Forced to Forgive Credit Card Debt
See how much of your debt could be settled!

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Message: 2
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2012 11:12:48 -0500
[Avodah] Teaching Emunah to the Next Generation

At 05:23 AM 11/9/2012, R. Micha wrote:

>The majority of the time is spent on a mussar shmuess for mechankhim.
>Reducing it to a dry paragraph:
>Every child has questions. Therefore, don't treat the child who asks a
>fundamental question as though they had one foot out the door and a bad
>influence. (Horror stories deleted.) And we need to have at least one
>mechanekh per school who is willing to sit down and talk these things
>out. Until prevailing attitudes change, this may have to be done with
>promises of confidentiality about questions asked.
>What I got out of the talk that was new to me:
>RDS presented the following taxonomy of how youth relate to fundamental
>1- We have the success stories, the believers who have a firm foundation.
>2- The one who has no questions because it's not their nature to be bothered
>by these things.
>3- The one who has questions, but are invested enough in the system to
>be a maamin despite them.
>4- The one who has questions, but lives the lifestyle mitzvos anashim
>5- Those on their way out.
>RDS closes by mentioning that all our youth, even those from the most
>self-contained of our communities, are exposed to more sexuality than
>generations past. We need to teach this from a Jewish viewpoint as well.

There is another videos of a talk on this topic that was given at the 
2011 Torah U Mesorah Convention given by Rabbi Pinchos Jung.  It is 
at http://chinuch.org/av_library.php?id=420  One has to log on to the 
web site http://chinuch.org/   to see this video. One can sign up for 
the site at no cost.  There is a lot of interesting material on this site.

Rabbi Jung mentions at the beginning about changes that need to be 
made in the yeshiva curriculum for boys.


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Message: 3
From: Meir Rabi <meir...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2012 21:41:50 +1100
[Avodah] Meat Milk Confusion

I did NOT MEAN to write
Once it is altered and is no longer the same as it was when first emerging
from the cow, it is transformed into a product that may be cooked with
meat. [It might be a problem understanding in this case why the curds are
deemed to be MEAT]

I meant to write why the curds are deemed to be MILK


Meir G. Rabi
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Message: 4
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2012 18:29:33 +0200
[Avodah] torah and science

<<But the gemara's pesaq about 8 month babies doesn't rest on the idea
that sometimes gestation is supposed to be for 7 months. That's the
basis for saving 7 month babies, not for Shabbos trumping the saving of
8 month ones.

What changed the halakhah is the change in
neonatal medicine and care, not the science. What makes halakhah is
whether such babies can be saved in the present, not theories about why
they couldn't in the past.>>

The way I always understood it is that according to Chazal there are viable
7 month fetuses and viable 9 month fetuses and they are 2 distinct classes.
Since a 8 month old fetus dont fit into either class they cant be saved on

OTOH modern medicine rejects the entire notion of different classes. It is
not a question of modern medicine. Any doctor would tell you that a 8 month
pregnancy is preferable to a 7 month pregnancy against chazal

Eli Turkel
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Message: 5
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2012 18:43:26 +0200
[Avodah] eivah

<<Also, People have cited the discussion between Rav Amital and Rav
Lichtenstein about cannibalism. I have seen cited (it was by a former
areivim member) that they had a similar discussion about saving a non
Jew on shabbat on a desert island (eg, no repercussions) - with Rav
Amital staiting it was a mitzva to help, and Rav Lichtenstein saying
that he would help and then do tshuva for hillul shabbat - but I have
not actually seen this in their writings or on the gush website.>>

My position is close to that of RAL (cited not verified)

However, while I brought up extreme cases let me present several less
dramatic cases where I have trouble with the halacha.

1) According to YD when a person passes away relatives who are not around
(eg another country) should not be informed and someone who does so is a
fool - except for sons who need to say kaddish. For most (not all) sitting
shiva is a positive act, being informed after 30 days does harm not good. I
would assume that most daughters on the list would be very upset if not
informed of the death of a parent and missing the opportunity to fly in and
attend the funeral.
I have heard from R. Zilberstein that this still holds though I know other
rabbis who disagree. I also know of families where not informing relatives
creating great difficulties in the family dynamics.

2) According to the gemara in Baba Batra one is not allowed to open a
business near a similar business ecpet for Talmud Torah (halacha le-maaseh
there are many exceptions due to contradictory gemarot). Today the general
consensus is if that a gas station opens on a corner it is better for
businness if there are several others as it becomes a center for getting
gas. Many cities have areas where stores with similar wares are located,
i.e. a lamplight district, an electronics area etc.
I have seen articles that claim that in a purely charedi neighborhhod where
dina demalchuta wouldnt apply that this is prohibited - seems strange to me

3) I once heard from Rav Zilberstein that if one knows that a store is
having a sale on an item that it is forbidden to tell a friend since you
are favoring the friend over other businessmen which you have no right to
do (excpt for an immediate relative) - I would be very upset if my friend
didnt tell me. Certainly newspapers and magazines that specilaize in
finding the cheaper and more expensive stores and brands are all illegal
according to this pask.

Eli Turkel
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Message: 6
From: Meir Rabi <meir...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:45:15 +1100
[Avodah] personal responsibility and seeking blessings and

It's nice to get a blessing for success and assurances that Gd will assist
fulfil ones task. So why does Abraham not offer his blessing [24:7] to
Eliezer when he FIRST charges him with his duty [24:3&4] to find a wife for

In truth the introduction to the blessing [24:6 - You had better not take
my son to that place] makes Avraham's response to Eliezer's enquiry, "What
happens if she does not wish to come to this land?" sound more like a
reprimand than a blessing.

Our Sages teach that Eliezer the Eved of Avraham, was not a servant at all
but the prime minister of Avraham's empire. He was the main exponent of
Avraham's philosophy and chief public relations and marketing strategist to
promote the notion of Monotheism.

Perhaps Avraham was disappointed with Eliezer's query. Eliezer's lengthy
intimate awareness and teaching, of Avraham's philosophy,  ought to have
given him the confidence not to require such a blessing and to understand
for himself that Yitzchak was never to return to Avraham's birthplace.

Seeking blessings is a popular pursuit these days, as is seeking Segulos,
mysterious devices and strategies that are said to promote success,
happiness and all good things as well as protecting from evil. I suspect
that these are not signs of excellence, piety and purity but rather
diversions; distractions from what ought to be our true pursuit. Our
energies are directed to misguided devotions which are a poor investment of
our spiritual energies.


Meir G. Rabi
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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 09:23:37 -0500
[Avodah] The Jewish Marriage

Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer wrote Introduction to RSRH's Commentary on 
the Torah , volumes 1 and 2.  In his  Preface to volume 1 he wrote

The present popularized adaptation of Hirsch's Commentary
on the Torah tends to develop the basic concepts
and ideas of our Torah which characterize Torah Judaism
in its ideological uniformity. From the extensive material
the principal explanations to the individual chapters and
verses were selected. As far as practicable, the topics are
presented in concise and popular form, as they are intended
for a wide circle of readers and, above all, for the
mature Jewish youth. They should also serve as a welcome
addition to the material of the teacher in his preparation
for Torah-instruction.

Volume 1 "leads from the Creation over the early
history of man to Avrohom; it characterizes the latter's
significance for our people and all mankind."  It is downloadable at 

The following is from The Jewish Marriage on page 93. The emphasis is mine.

It was not passion but calm reflection that led to this
marriage. Too often disappointment follows in the wake of
passion. Here it says (and this holds true for every truly
Jewish marriage) : "She became to him a wife and he loved
her" ( 67) : *The more she became his wife the more his love
for her grew;* - "and Yitzchak was comforted about his
mother"-: here is a man of forty who is inconsolable at
the death of his old mother and who finds consolation in his
wife through whom he regains the mother! Here is the supreme
concept of woman's dignity - written on a page of
the oldest Jewish history!
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Message: 8
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 14:51:56 +0200
[Avodah] Was Eisav a Rasha by nature?

The answer according to the way the Maharal understands Rashi at the
begining of this weeks parsha seems to be yes. Rashi on the pasuk
vayisrotzatzu habanim, quotes the famous medrash that whenever Rivka passed
a house of avoda zara Eisav tried to get out. Rashi a few pesukim later
comments on the phrase mimayayich yiparedu, "min hamayayim heim nifradim,
zeh l'risho vzeh l'tumo".

From Rashi it seems clear that already in the womb Eisav was a rasha who
wanted to worship avoda zara. The obvious question is why?

The Maharal points out that a person has no yetzer hara until he is born.
The Maharal (
answers: "Mipnei sheEsav ratza latzeis lashuv el mino vtivo", basically the
Maharal says that Esav wanted to return to his nature (which was a rasha).
The Maharal makes a similar comment in Parshas Noach (8,21,
of the second column) where he says it even more explicitly
"U'bbeten imo efshar laasos maaseh ra v'ein lo yetzer hara rak shehu poel
kach b'tivo lfi shehu rasha mibeten." The Maharal says explicitly that a
person can do bad things without a yetzer hara but rather because he is a
rasha in his mother's womb.

Isn't one of our fundamental beliefs that a person is NOT born a Rasha but
has free will? How does this fit in with this Maharal? How else can we
explain why Eisav wanted to worship avoda zara in the womb according to the
Medrash quoted by Rashi?
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Message: 9
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:30:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] BELIEF


<<Only if you think that the Hebrew "emunah" is congruent with the 
English "believe". I don't.>>

The Rambam wrote SHM in Arabic, not Hebrew.  See Rabbi Heller's first 
footnote in his edition of Ibn Tibbon's translation (IIRC Rabbi Kafih 
says something similar in the notes to his translation).  See also the 
minyan hamitzvos (which the Rambam did write in Hebrew) in the 
introduction to MT.

David Riceman

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Message: 10
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:26:36 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Hasidim davening early

> If the idea is to maximize qavanah, then losing sleep is 
> counterproductive, no? It's better to set the alarm as needed and 
> delay Shacharis until they are mentally ready.
Why would he lose sleep? As is, he spends a certain amount of time every 
day sleeping, a certain amount of time preparing to daven, a certain 
amount of time davening, and so on.  Of the items on his list the one 
with the most halachic urgency to be done at a particular time is 
davening.  I'm not asking him to lose sleep, I'm asking him to 
reschedule his bedtime to enable earlier hachanos for davening.

After spending twelve days without electricity, though, I wonder if the 
issue is practical rather than halachic.  It's easier to sleep in the 
dark and get up at dawn rather than several hours before dawn.

David Riceman

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 19:32:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] BELIEF

On Sun, Nov 11, 2012 at 05:30:19PM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
> <<Only if you think that the Hebrew "emunah" is congruent with the  
> English "believe". I don't.>>
> The Rambam wrote SHM in Arabic, not Hebrew.  See Rabbi Heller's first  
> footnote in his edition of Ibn Tibbon's translation (IIRC Rabbi Kafih  
> says something similar in the notes to his translation).  See also the  
> minyan hamitzvos (which the Rambam did write in Hebrew) in the  
> introduction to MT.

I replied similarly but at greater length last Mon at

You might be interested in my raising the issue of the classical
definition of knowledge -- justified, true, belief.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Mussar is like oil put in water,
mi...@aishdas.org        eventually it will rise to the top.
http://www.aishdas.org                    - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2012 05:42:45 -0500
[Avodah] HONORING SHABBOS LUNCH and the New Religion

The following is from the 10/27/12 weekly bulletin  ( 
http://tinyurl.com/bdla7xf) of Bani Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation 
of Baltimore (http://www.bjsz.org/ )  The emphasis in the last 
sentence is mine.   Note it says that "a new religion has arisen that 
closely resembles Judaism."  Given that RSRH makes is very clear that 
Judaism is not a religion,  it follows that the new religion is not 
Judaism.  YL


One should grant even greater honor to the Shabbos day than to the evening (OC
271:3). As such the Shabbos daytime meal should include delicacies 
beyond those enjoyed
at night. Practically this is not often accomplished as on Friday 
night we are able to have a
hot meal, as opposed to Shabbos day, and there is a natural tendency 
to serve the evening
meal with greater elegance and structure than that of the day. How 
then are we to grant the
day meal greater honor than the night meal? The Maharshal (1510-1573) 
adopted a practice
of not eating fish at any meal other than the daytime meal. In this 
way he knew that there
was something special reserved for that honored time. Similarly every 
family is encouraged
to act similarly with a favorite food of theirs, reserving it for 
lunch only (see Shaarei Teshuva
271:1). (Once upon a time this was accomplished through the 
incomparable lunchtime
cholent , *but evidently a new religion has arisen that closely 
resembles Judaism* that includes a
ritual called "Friday night Cholent". Back to the drawing board!)

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Message: 13
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2012 18:32:45 +0200
[Avodah] R' Hirsch: Chinuch lessons from Yaakov and Esav

 The following is from RSRH's essay "Lessons From Jacob and Esau" that
appears on pages 319 - 331 of his Collected Writing VII. It is amazing how
his words below are so relevant to our generation. There is no question
that R' Hirsch could be speaking about the current Charedi educational
system. It is a terrible shame that his approach has basically died out as
it is so needed in our modern world.

*Down to our present day we have been able to observe the disastrous
consequences of a one-sided approach to the unique task of being a Jew.
Many a son of a pious talmid chacham has been totally lost to Judaism
because his father insisted on training him to become a talmid chacham
without considering whether his personality and inclinations truly lay in
that direction. Thus he is exposed to Jewish life in only one context: that
of a quiet existence of study and meditation for which he has neither
talent nor desire. What attracts him instead is the busy, colorful life of
the world outside. But as a result of the narrow view of life in which he
has been trained he gets the impression that in order to participate in the
active, variegated life for which he yearns, he must give up his mission as
a Jew. He consequently abandons his Judaism in order to fling himself into
the maelstrom of excitement and temptations offered by the world outside.

The story of such an individual might end quite differently if only,
instead of forcing him into the mold of a talmid chacham, his father would
raise him from the very beginning to become a man of the world who, at the
same time, is faithful to his duties as a Jew; if only that father would
teach this son that the activities of the world outside, too, have their
place in God's plan, that it is possible to preserve and to demonstrate
one's complete loyalty to Judaism even as a sophisticated man of the world.
He should make his son understand that, as a matter of fact, many, if not
perhaps the most important, aspects of Jewish living are intended primarily
to be practiced amidst the conditions and aspirations of everyday life, in
the midst of the world and not in isolation from it. He should make his son
understand that the Taryag Mitzvos are not meant to be observed in the
klaus [Judeo-German equivalent for a small synagogue. (Ed.)] or in the beth
hamidrash but precisely in the practical life of the farmer or the
public-spirited citizen. If only that father would make it clear to his son
that the spirit and the happiness of Judaism are just as accessible to a
Zevulun "in the world outside" as they are to an Issachar "in the
tents,"?who knows whether that son might not stand by his father's deathbed
and gently close his father's eyes as a loyal, pious Jew?*

He explains in his commentary on Chumash that Yitzchak and Rivka made
exactly this mistake with Esav. They tried to educate Esav the same way as
Yaakov, to sit and learn all day in the Beis Medrash. However, Esav's
personality and inclinations did not lie in that direction. Because he was
not given an alternative he turned into Esav harasha.
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