Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 183

Thu, 31 Oct 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:52:51 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Yaakov and Esav

On 30/10/2013 11:00 AM, Prof. Levine wrote:
> RSRH says in his commentary on Bereishis 25:24 that Yaakov and Esav
> were identical twins.  Does anyone know the source upon which this
> assertion is based?

Whatever his source, it contradicts the medrash Rashi cites on "tipa rishona"
and "tipa shniya"

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and
z...@sero.name          substantial reason' why he should be permitted to
                        exercise his rights. The right's existence is all
                        the reason he needs.
                            - Judge Benson E. Legg, Woollard v. Sheridan

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Message: 2
From: Rafael Jason Hecht <rhe...@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:29:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Eating Meat After Fish

Interestingly this is Sepharadi Halacha. I wonder what they would
say about Gefilte fish, which has so many ingredients other than fish
that perhaps that can also count as the "food in between" :-)

Best Regards,
Rafi Hecht

On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 10:15 AM, Prof. Levine <llev...@stevens.edu> wrote:
>  From http://tinyurl.com/l4s85v3
> Summary: After one eats fish, he should not eat meat until he does the
> following: washes his hands, washes the outside and inside of his mouth,
> eats something and drinks something.
> Compare this with the article Eating Fish and Meat at
> http://www.kof-k.org/articles/040208110455W-32%20Eati
> ng%20Fish%20and%20Meat.pdf
> *"One who wants to eat fish after eating meat should wash his hands and
> clean out his
> mouth. In order to be considered ?cleaning one?s mouth? (*kenuach*) he
> should eat and
> drink something.  A person can do whichever one he wants first.27 If one
> eats fish first
> like is common today then one should still do the above. One should
> remove any meat
> that might be between his teeth as well.
> "Some say there is no need to wash one?s hands today, because one does not
> eat with his
> hands, rather with a fork. This seems to be the custom."

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 16:04:36 -0400
Re: [Avodah] [VBM: Before Sinai] Shiur #02: Is There an Ethic

On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 01:30:16PM -0400, Micha Berger wrote:
: This shiur series promises to be very AishDas-y.
: http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/sinai/02sinai.htm

: R. Lichtenstein's intuitive questions pose a problem not only for
: Jewish practice but for halakha as well. Even if we could point to
: a complementary system that fills in the ethical gaps for us, would
: this imply that halakha itself is somehow, Heaven forbid, defective --
: defying our notion that "God's Torah is perfect" (Tehillim 19:8)?

See Ramban on ve'asisa hayashar vehatov. It is impossible to list every
possible situation and how to respond, and therefore after the Torah
lists specific halakhos and gives a broad idea of Torah values, it gives a
general command to follow those values as they apply in other situations.

IOW, it's not an imperfection of halakhah, it's a product of needing the
text to be of finite length whereas the number of possible situations
that a person could face and a society could evolve into providing is
not finite.

Then again, this is the same rishon who did the most to popularize the
idea of menuval birshus haTorah, which also presumes a meta-halachic

I might even identify "reshus haTorah" in that idiom with that
RALichtenstein calls din, whereas his broader notion of halakhah would
be what prohibits being a menuval (and for that matter, defines it).

But I think this whole discussion is flawed because everyone involved
was overly influenced by Brisk. The language of a broader "halakhah"
that includes more than "din" doesn't really fit historical usage. I
am reminded of RYBS confessing that it took him decades to settle the
question of the value of nevi'im given that "lo bashamayim hi" means
they can't relay halakhah. A mussarist who is used to consulting a
moreh derekh alongside his moreh hora'ah wouldn't have had the question
to begin with.

I would instead speak of hilkhos dei'os, chovos halvavos, the obligation
to be holy and not a menuval being an obligation to follow the values
aggadita expresses. Much the way there is one deOraisa that says we must
obey dinim derabbanan, but in general we don't think about the problem of
that implyig that every derabbanan should therefore really be a deOraisa.
Similarly we can talk about it being assur to be a menuval birshus haTorah
even while that invalidates calling it "birshus".

: This view maintains that morality is both inherent in nature and
: actionable without Divine input. Concepts of "right" and "good" exist
: even without Divine knowledge, which is why it is meaningful to call
: God "just" and why Avraham was able to challenge him, "Shall, then,
: the Judge of the whole earth not do justice?" (Bereishit 18:25).

I think that without halakhah, there would be too many instances where
we wouldn't know how to apply native morality. "Mah desani lakh" still
needs a "zil gemor". Your chaver doesn't always know what he would hate
the least -- in the long run.

: One possibility is to defend all of God's commandments as somehow moral,
: even if they defy our intuitive understanding. Thus R. Walter Wurzburger
: writes, "Once God is defined as the supreme moral authority, obedience to
: divine imperatives emerges as the highest ethical duty. Thus, Abraham's
: readiness to sacrifice Isaac... was a perfectly moral act" (Ethics of
: Responsibility, 19).

Or that it is moral in an intuitive sense of the word "moral" IFF we
knew the outcomes of our actions. Perhaps in a pre-Sancheirev world,
where we would surrounded by hyper-barbaric tribes, exterminating Amaleiq
and making an example out of the first people to attack us would actually
reduce the total death count overall. Or perhaps there would have been
so many victims of Amaleiq that the only way we could keep them from
killing even more people would be to bomb Dresden, taf venashim beyom
echad. Or perhaps... But there is enough room to say Hashem knows things
that would make this decreee moral if we knew them, and moral in a natural
sense of the word.

Oe in short, I side with:
: A third approach sits midway, in a sense, between the first two. It
: rejects strict halakhic formalism but seeks to locate further ethical
: duty within a broader conception of Jewish tradition and obligation,
: rather than outside of them, as natural law does. This approach wants to
: "have its cake and eat it too." It adheres to formalism by maintaining
: that the obligations of Jewish living indeed address the full range
: of ethical responsibilities, but it avoids the narrowness of halakhic
: formalism by asserting that Jewish duty doesn't end with the law.

: Of course, the conceptual strength of this approach is also its greatest
: challenge. It needs to demonstrate genuinely Jewish responsibilities
: that lie outside of the boundaries of codified halakha, something that
: neither strict halakhic formalists nor natural law theorists need to
: do. We will present two different solutions to this particular dilemma.

: As such, each of them will have to bear some of the critiques of the
: earlier responses. R. Lichtenstein, whose approach falls somewhat closer
: to the pole of halakhic formalism, articulates the counter-arguments
: himself:

:     First, if lifnim mi-shurat ha-din is indeed obligatory as an integral
:     aspect of Halakhah, in what sense is it supralegal?... Second,
:     isn't this exposition mere sham? Having conceded, in effect, the
:     inadequacy of the halakhic ethic, it implicitly recognizes the need
:     for a complement, only to attempt to neutralize this admission by
:     claiming the complement has actually been a part of the Halakhah
:     all along, so that the fiction of halakhic comprehensiveness can be
:     saved after all. (46)

Which the Ramban addresses. RAL's problem appears to be a side-effect of
his having to call it "halakhah" rather than a chiyuv to become the person
aggadita describes.

: R. Wurzburger, on the other hand, liberates himself fully from
: any halakhic formalism, but this leaves open the question of what
: "Covenantal Ethics," the term he coins, will actually draw from.
: To fill that void, R. Wurzburger speaks of "the intuitions of a moral
: conscience formed within the matrix of Torah teachings" (28)....

Here too, the author has a problem because he's too Brisk-like to
remember that Talmud Torah includes aggadita too.

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: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 16:43:42 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Mesorah

On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 09:54:48AM -0400, Zvi Lampel wrote:
> A fascinating technicality: The Rambam holds (based upon biblical,
> Talmudic and Midrashic sources, of course) that whereas angels (in the
> common sense) unquestioningly follow Hashem's orders because they do
> not have the free will to disobey?; or because intellectually they are
> so above exercising the possibility?) they do have, and do exercise,
> the free will to decide upon details as to how to go about following
> those orders. They have missions, but are free to choose how to carry
> them out where such instructions are not provided.

AIUI, the Rambam holds the former, that mal'akhim don't have
bechirah chafshi in principle, and not merely that they know too much
to ever fact two equally valid choices. He says so explicitly in his
formulation of the 5th iqar:
    The 5th Yesod
    That He Yisbarach is He Who is worthy to be worshipped and
    exalted and to proclaim His Greatness and do to His mitzvos.
    And not to do thus to someone who is beneath Him in existence from
    among the mal'akhim, the stars, the galgalim or the elements and
    that which is mixtures of them. Because all have their operation
    embedded in them (*) without judgment, without bechirah...

(* R Noach Weinberg translates "hamube'im al pe'ulosam" as "their
activities are programmed". Please excuse my forgetting which tape.)

In the Morah, the Rambam places mal'akhim in Aristotle's physics in the
place of the bottom line of non-corporeal intellects that impart impetus
to make Hashem's Will -- hashgachah peratis and hashgachah kelalis --
happen. They are also identified with Plato's Forms. Examples of both
can be found in cheileq 2 pereq 6. (Which also has what Lisa wrote,
that the word "mal'akh" can mean anyone sent to do Hashem's Will.) So,
they have no will of their own, they are where Hashem's Will touches
out to physical existences. This in turn has to do with discredited
notions in Aristotilian physics, which I discussed here a number of
times in the past, and is tangential anyway.

But because he says they lack even the theoretical capacity for bechirah,
I have a hard time understanding how the Rambam could say your seifa
about having choice about the details in their mission. Could you provide
a mar'eh maqom?

The Ohr Sameaich's position is more complex and somewhat eludes me. On
the Rambam he writes that mal'akhim have the capacity for free will in
potential, but no choices to actually make. In the Meshekh Chokhmah he
defines Adam's tzelem E-lokim as being bechirah chafshi. Is this why
Hashem speaks of "na'aseh adam betzlmeinu" belashon rabbim? Would he
really say that "betzalmeinu" means that mal'akhim also have a tzelem

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             If a person does not recognize one's own worth,
mi...@aishdas.org        how can he appreciate the worth of another?
http://www.aishdas.org             - Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye,
Fax: (270) 514-1507                  author of Toldos Yaakov Yosef

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:33:28 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Who is Eliezer?

I saw the 4 sons in standard shenayim sheheim arba format.

The first two sons try a cognitive way of relating to G-d. The one who
succeeds in conntecting to the RBSO is the chakham, the one who doesnt
get it "mah ha'avodah hazos lakhem", is the rasha.

The second two try a more experiential approach. The one who succeeds
obtains temimus, but the one who fails ends up without knowledge of
theology AND without religious experience, and is totally off the page.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:40:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] barriers come down

On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 05:34:23AM +0200, Ben Waxman wrote:
> [Topic: Why R' Aviner rejected women dancing with the seifer Torah
> on Simchas Torah as an innovation that Hashem didn't command. -micha]

> I sent my question to Rav Aviner and he answered in short video (Hebrew).

> The text of the question and the rav's answer can be found at:
> http://maale.org.il/index.php/ser/show?vidid=134546

RSA appears to say that dinim derabbanan are created by the Sanhedrin,
and practices since then would be minhagim. (Perhaps he would include
almost-Sanhedrins with such power, such as a ga'on accepted by all of
Benei Yisrael. Or Shas. Or perhaps he sets the end of the Sanhedrin
with the writing of Shas. All open speculation on my part.)

Some minhagim were accepted, and some were not accepted.

I don't understand RSA's answer.

It's not like women dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah was a rejected
minhag. It's more like a potential minhag that hasn't run the gauntlet yet.
So how does a rav decide which minhag-candidates to preemtively prohibit.

BTW, your question fails to capture the full irony of the
situation. Because the whole celebration of Simchas Torah is a late
innovation. And reading the Torah at night with berakhos is harder to
justify halachically than letting women dance with the Torah. There
is no mitzvah of leining at night, why aren't they berakhos levatalos?
And if it isn't leining, isn't it lesse majeste to take the sefarim
out for dancing?

Tir'u baTov!

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: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 13:44:56 -0400
[Avodah] What Kind of Twins Were Yaakov and Esav? (was Yaakov

At 12:15 PM 10/30/2013, R. Micha wrote:

>Hoshea 12:4 has Yaaqov grabbing Esav's ankle before birth -- babeten aqav
>es achiv. That would imply a single amniotic sack, and thus identical
>More explicitly but I have far less detail, there is a medrash that
>states that Yehudah wouldn't kill Esav out of respect for his father's
>image. This is a machloqes. The Yerushalmi (Gittin, Kesuvos) which says
>it was Yehudah who killed Esav; as Yaaqov bentshes him, "yadekha be'oref
>oyevekha". Targum Yonasan (on Bereishis 50:13), Pirqei deR' Eliezer
>(pereq 39) and Sotah (13a) says it was Chushim. Tosafos ad loc resolve
>the two versions by saying that Chushim struck a fatal blow, after which
>Yehudah gave him "final mercy" and hastened his death his death.
>One version of the Chushim story the kibud av reason, but I do not
>recall where.

See the article at http://tinyurl.com/me7smsb

There is also the abstract of the article

I do not have access to this article and even if 
I did I doubt I would understand it.   YL
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Message: 8
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:00:36 -0400
[Avodah] Collecting Candy on Halloween Harmless Pastime or

 From http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm#A10


Applying these halachic rules to Halloween leads to the conclusion 
that participation in Halloween celebrations -- which is what 
collecting candy is when one is wearing a costume -- is prohibited. 
Halloween, since it has its origins in a pagan practice, and lacks 
any overt rationale reason for its celebration other than its pagan 
origins or the Catholic response to it, is governed by the statement 
of Rabbi Isserless that such conduct is prohibited as its origins 
taint it.  One should not send one's children out to trick or treat 
on Halloween, or otherwise celebrate the holiday.

The question of whether one can give out candy to people who come to 
the door is a different one, as there are significant reasons based 
on darchai shalom (the ways of peace), eva (the creation of unneeded 
hatred towards the Jewish people) and other secondary rationales that 
allow one to distribute candy to people who will be insulted or angry 
if no candy is given. This is even more so true when the community -- 
Jewish and Gentile -- are unaware of the halachic problems associated 
with the conduct, and the common practice even within many Jewish 
communities is to "celebrate" the holiday. Thus, one may give candy 
to children who come to one's house to "trick or treat" if one feels 
that this is necessary.

See the above URL for more.

And then there is this *true* story about Rav Pam. (I add the word 
"true,"  because in the past some have questioned its veracity.)

Rav & Rebbitzen Pam and Halloween

My father-in-law studied in Rav Pam's shiur in Mesivta
Torah Vodaas for several years back in the 1960's.

When my wife's older sister became engaged in the 1990's, my in-laws
took my (future) sister-in-law and my (future) brother-in-law over to
meet Rav and Rebbitzen Pam & receive their beracha and good wishes.

What's the most vivid memory they all have of that evening?

It was October 31st. In contrast to the many Jewish homes around the
Pams who had turned off their lights to discourage trick-or-treaters,
the Pams left their front light on.

While they all chatted with Rav Pam in the dining room, his rebbitzen
was in the kitchen working the hot-air popcorn popper and preparing
plastic baggies of popcorn to give out with a smile to all the local
non-Jewish kids who knocked at their door.

They all left that night with numerous smiles, berachos, and best
wishes from Rav Pam and his Rebbitzen - but what they all remember
most is the powerful lesson the Pams taught them about interacting
with their neighbors.

Rabbi Akiva Males
Harrisburg, PA

See comment number 4 by Rabbi Males 
at  http://matzav.com/rav-rebbitzen-pam-and-halloween


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Message: 9
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:12:56 -0500
Re: [Avodah] [VBM: Before Sinai] Shiur #02: Is There an Ethic

On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 01:30:16PM -0400, Micha Berger wrote:
> This shiur series promises to be very AishDas-y.
>: http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/sinai/02sinai.htm
> R. Lichtenstein's intuitive questions pose a problem not only for
> Jewish practice but for halakha as well. Even if we could point to
> a complementary system that fills in the ethical gaps for us, would
> this imply that halakha itself is somehow, Heaven forbid, defective --
> defying our notion that "God's Torah is perfect" (Tehillim 19:8)?

Derekh eretz kadma l'Torah 26 dorot. The Torah doesn't teach us
everything. It doesn't teach us that which we are able to determine
ourselves. And I'd contend that there is a rational, objective morality,
and that we can determine that without the Torah in the same way that
we can determine the gravitational constant. And the Torah is not
"defective" for not telling us that when we can get there on our own.


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Message: 10
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 18:18:05 GMT
Re: [Avodah] rav benyamin lau proposes

R' Zev Sero explained Rav Lau's idea:

> He's not proposing doing away with the man being
> mekadesh the woman, but rather instituting an additional
> setting-aside, that before or after the man sets the
> woman aside as exclusively his, she should set him aside
> as exclusively hers.

I understand the words individually, but when I put them together I don't
know what it means. For the past thousand years, ever since Rabenu Gershom
did away with multiple wives, every wife views her husband as exclusively
hers, to the exclusion of all other women. What is new here?

When we say that a woman is set aside exclusively for a man, what we mean
is that there is a certain relationship she has with this man, and there
are certain consequences to that relationship. One such consequence is that
if any other man tries to enter in to such a relationship with her, it
simply would not work. For example, if another man tries to be mekadesh
her, the act is legally meaningless, and there is unquestionably no need
for a get from the second man.

Is Rav Lau proposing that if a married man, who has been "set aside"
exclusively for one particular woman, tries to marry a second woman, then
it would simply not work? And to the extent that no get would be needed? I
suppose that this might be possible, under the umbrella of "kol hamekadesh,
al daas rabanan mekadesh". But I don't really know enough about that to
judge the merits of that possibility.

However, there are other consequences of kiddushin, such as a chiyuv karays
when the relationship is violated sexually. Is Rav Lau suggesting that a
man is (or can become) exclusive to his wife, to the extent that if another
woman has sexual relations with him, a chiyuv karays would result? Where
would such a penalty comes from? Even Rabenu Gershom did not impose a
"karays d'rabanan", but only a social ostracism, am I correct?

Akiva Miller
Do THIS before eating carbs &#40;every time&#41;
1 EASY tip to increase fat-burning, lower blood sugar & decrease fat storage

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Message: 11
From: David Cohen <ddco...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 22:07:47 +0200
Re: [Avodah] rav benyamin lau proposes

I have great respect for R' Benny Lau, but I just don't understand the

Assuming that this is intended to be more than merely symbolic, what would
the intended halachic effect of such a kiddushin be?  From his quote in the
article, it seems that he was lamenting the inequality inherent in the fact
that the product of a married woman's extramarital relationship is a
mamzer, while the product of a married man's extramarital relationship with
a single woman is not.

Even assuming that this proposal would really "work" (which I think is far
from self-evident), why would we want to create new mamzerim in cases where
the Torah did not?!  This goes against a centuries-old tradition in psak of
going to great lengths to avoid classifying people as mamzerim, despite the
fact that the mamzerut of one's potential children can serve as a deterrent
to adultery, and I find it hard to see this as a step forward.

If it's intended to be merely symbolic, and to simply provide a way to
explicitly state, as part of the ceremony, the groom's commitment to be
monogamous, aren't there more appropriate halachic paradigms for doing so
-- a neder, perhaps? -- rather than kiddushin, with all of its halachic

-- D.C.
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Message: 12
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:23:24 -0400
[Avodah] More on What Kind of Twins Were Yaakov and Esav?

Please see the article   An Insight into the twin dynamic of Jacob 
and Esau  at



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Message: 13
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 19:07:15 +0200
Re: [Avodah] barriers come down

1) I understood his answer as you did, and was left with the same question.
2) I didn't give all the examples that I could of, obviously. But your 
question about Simchat Torah itself is part of what I intended when I 
wrote about changes happening throughout the ages. I don't know if it 
would have made a difference had I added that to my question.


On 10/31/2013 12:40 AM, Micha Berger wrote:
> It's not like women dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah was a 
> rejected minhag. It's more like a potential minhag that hasn't run the 
> gauntlet yet. So how does a rav decide which minhag-candidates to 
> preemtively prohibit. BTW, your question fails to capture the full 
> irony of the situation. Because the whole celebration of Simchas Torah 
> is a late innovation. And reading the Torah at night with berakhos is 
> harder to justify halachically than letting women dance with the 
> Torah. There is no mitzvah of leining at night, why aren't they 
> berakhos levatalos? And if it isn't leining, isn't it lesse majeste to 
> take the sefarim out for dancing? Tir'u baTov! -Micha 

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Message: 14
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 08:53:36 -0400
[Avodah] Electric applications

Rav Asher Weiss has several tshuvot on electric and related applications on
shabbat (e.g. LED lights, electric eyes[sensors] and passive
electronics[e.g. Personal monitor used by those on parole which tracks

Does anyone know of a list of tshuvot of modern poskim on such issues (not including the basic electricity tshuvot of r'sza, r'oy etc.)?
Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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