Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 204

Thu, 12 Dec 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Richie <cantorwolb...@cox.net>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 08:20:45 -0500
[Avodah] Quote

R' Micha uses the following great
quote by Rav Yisrael Salanter  (one of his many great quotes):		The
fittingness of your matzos (for the Seder) isn't complete with being
careful in the laws of Passover. One must also be very careful in the laws
of business.	

This reminds me of the famous anonymous quote: One should be just as concerned what comes out of his mouth as for what goes in.

Sent from my iPhone

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Message: 2
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:13:22 -0500
[Avodah] Marc Shapiro on the question of obligation of belief

 From http://tinyurl.com/l9ckm4s

You can read or download Dr. Marc B. Shapiro's article in the new 
issue of Milin Havivin 
The article is called "Is There An Obligation To Believe that the 
Zohar Was Written By Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai?".  While I thought the 
question was settled years ago 
here) and subsequently had to reconsider 
you can read what Shapiro has to say in his interesting article. <Snip>

Once can also read some classic works on the question of the Zohar's 

R. Elijah Del Medigo - Bechinas Ha-das <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/9403>here
Yaavetz - Mitpachas Sefarim <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/33319>here
R. Moshe Kunitz - Ben Yochai <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/5706>here
Shir Rapoport - Nachalas Yehuda <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/34147>here
R. Leone Modena - Ari Nohem <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/23812>here
Shadal - Vikuach al Chochmas ha-Zohar, etc. 
R. Elia Benamozegh - Ta'am Le-shad <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/22067>here
R. Eliyahu Nissim - Ana Kesil 
R. Shlomo b"r Eliyahu Nissim - Aderes Eliyahu 
R. Moshe Yisrael Hazzan - Shearis Ha-nachalah 
R. David Luria - Kadmus Sefer Ha-zohar <http://www.hebrewbooks.org/34758>here

The above list is not meant to be exhaustive.

The entire issue of Milin Havivin 5 can be downloaded 

Yitzchok Levine
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Message: 3
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 08:51:29 -0500
[Avodah] "Insights Into Halacha: Fasting On Friday?".

 From http://tinyurl.com/m2jzere

An interesting calendrical anomaly is set to happen this week. The 
appearance of which is quite sporadic and actually quite unique on 
the Jewish Calendar. I am referring to the upcoming Fast of Asarah 
B'Teves, which this year falls out on a Friday. Unique to this fast 
is that it is the only one that we do actually observe as a fast on a 
Friday[1]. Even Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the actual 
destructions of our Batei HaMikdash, gets pushed off. Yet, this 
Friday, for a fast best known for being the year's shortest (for 
everyone in the Northern Hemisphere), all of Klal Yisrael will fast.

See the above URL for more.  YL
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Message: 4
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 09:17:20 -0500
[Avodah] Rav Asher Weiss' Talk About Kashrus Verification -

It turns out that I had saved this talk to my computer.  I just 
uploaded it and now one can listen this talk at


I strongly suggest that people listen to this talk,  because it 
dispels what appear to me to be some people's misconceptions about 
relying on certain things when it comes to kashrus.

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:34:24 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Rashbam and peshat

On Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 05:22:57PM +0100, R Arie Folger replied to Zev:
: We are talking about two separate matters. You are talking about when Rashi
: deviates from peshat, and I am trying to define what Rashi considers to
: fall under the purview of peshat....

Ah, so I see where we're on different pages. I don't believe Rashi ever
deviates from giving what he calls peshat. I therefore disagree with
the description of Rashi you gave on Mon, Dec 09, 2013 at 03:51:12PM +0100:

: However, there is a school that understands peshat to be intimately linked
: to the literal text, to the disregard of all other sources of information.
: That matches Rashi, who, when he says he came to report peshuto shel miqra,
: tries to fit in a fair amount of midrash that most of us would not consider
: peshat. The reason Rashi can do this may be because while we find it
: incredible that Rivka was three when she met the servant of Avraham, there
: is nothing in the text to contradict that peshat.

Whereas I was saying that Rashi actually gave it as peshat, as is
everythinng in his qunterus. (Perhaps what I'm saying is what RMMS
already said before me.) I was assuming Rashi uses a FAR broader
definition of peshat than you attributed to him. That leshitas Rashi,
any Chazal that explains an unanswered textual issue is peshat. Derashah
only includes things that do not answer questions raised by trying to
just read the text.

Which is how I set up Rashi vs Rashbam as using two different meanings
of peshat. Rashi I was giving something similar to your #4 "whatever the
text could bear", but more like "whatever the text suggests it is bearing".

: Rashi incorporates them without second thoughts, not because they are
: peshat, but because in Rashi understanding of peshat, those interpretations
: do not violate peshat. How could that be? Because those are only non-peshat
: if you insist on using common sense and common experience as a source of
: what is a reasonable interpretation of the text. Many Roshonim insist on
: that, but Rashi doesn't.

And your "many rishonim" includes my understanding of the Rashbam.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A sick person never rejects a healing procedure
mi...@aishdas.org        as "unbefitting." Why, then, do we care what
http://www.aishdas.org   other people think when dealing with spiritual
Fax: (270) 514-1507      matters?              - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:51:54 -0500
Re: [Avodah] definition of 'shabbosdik'

On Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 10:22:53AM -0500, M Cohen wrote:
: What exactly is the definition of 'shabbosdik' activities?

Others mentioned excercise.

There are a number of things that are assur as uvda dekhol that aren't
excercise. It's a pretty diverse collection. The best I can come up with
is that they're activities that make the scene so commonplace, you could
forget for a few moments it's Shabbos. And then you could ask (if you
buy into my guess) whether that's because it's inherently problematic
to forget, or because falling into the weekday routine makes doing a
melakhah that much more likely.

Quoting RMTorczyner's list at http://www.webshas.org/shabbos/gezairos.htm :

    Uvda DeChol - "Weekday" Types of Work - In General
        Rabbinic Prohibition against performing "weekday work" on Shabbat:
            Shabbat 137b-138a
        Delivering food and other gifts on Yom Tov: Beitzah 14b [as
            explained by Rambam in Peirush haMishnayot]
        Delivering gifts with large groups of people: Beitzah 14b

    "Weekday work" in preparing food
        Setting up, and using, a strainer on Shabbat: Shabbat 137b-138a,
        Scraping of the skin: Shabbat 147a, 147b
        Preparing an oil-and-wine plaster: Shabbat 134a
        In preparing food: Shabbat 140a
        In methods of sponging up wine or oil: Shabbat 143b
        In methods of collecting spilled fruit: Shabbat 143b

    "Weekday Work" For a Mitzvah or Public Benefit
        Financial Calculations for a Mitzvah: Shabbat 150a, Ketuvot 5a
        Pledging Charity: Shabbat 150a, Ketuvot 5a
        Public Gatherings for Public Needs: Shabbat 150a, Ketuvot 5a
        Meeting in Theaters and Circuses for Public Needs: Shabbat 150a,
            Ketuvot 5a
        For Saving a Life: Shabbat 150a
        For tending to the needs of a bride: Shabbat 150b, 151a
        For tending to the needs of a corpse: Shabbat 150b, 151a
        Preparing medication, to continue a pre-Shabbat cycle of
            medication: Shabbat 140a

    "Weekday work" for Business
        Calculations which do not have practical ramifications: Shabbat
        Avoiding mention of actual sums: Shabbat 151a
        Hiring workers, for work on another day: Shabbat 150a
        Calculations of past wages, where some of the salary is/isn't
            still owed: Shabbat 150b
        Arranging apprenticeship & education on Shabbat: Shabbat 150a,
            Ketuvot 5a
        Speaking about weekday business: Shabbat 113a-b
        Thinking about weekday business: Shabbat 113a-b
        Waiting by the edge of the Shabbat Travel Border, to do something
            outside of the Border after Shabbat: Shabbat 150a, 150b-151a
        Differentiating, in the above line, between a purpose which
            could or couldn't be done on Shabbat: Shabbat 150a, 150b-151a
        R' Abba's Rule: Anything I could ask someone to do after Shabbat,
            I can wait by the limit of Shabbat travel to do myself: Shabbat
            150a, 150b-151a
        Discussion where it is possible for the fulfillment of the purpose
            under discussion to become permissible on Shabbat: Shabbat 150b

    Other Issues in "Weekday work"
        Not Marrying on Saturday Night, to prevent Meal-Planning on
            Shabbat: Ketuvot 5a
        Setting up Couples on Shabbat: Shabbat 150a, Ketuvot 5a
        Waiting by the edge of the Shabbat Travel-Limit to bring an
            animal in after Shabbat: Shabbat 151a
        Scattering straw on a hazardous surface to enable people to
            walk on it, in the manner one would employ for scattering such
            materials during the week: Eruvin 104a

I know the Rashba also includes Beitza 2:8's case of grinding a pepper
mill. Even though crushing with the side of the knife would be mutar.
From which the Rivash concludes (SA 321:10, Bei'ur Halakhah 12 "Midei")
that one cannot do techinah with a keli made for that function.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Every second is a totally new world,
mi...@aishdas.org        and no moment is like any other.
http://www.aishdas.org           - Rabbi Chaim Vital
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 18:10:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Gym, the Carpool, and Tzniyus

On Thu, Dec 05, 2013 at 08:30:04AM +1100, Rabbi Meir G. Rabi, its Kosher! wrote:
: I believe it is well accepted in our traditions that there are innate
: tendencies within our soul, our thinking, which gravitate towards
: Mentschlechkeit....

It's sad that Freud was a tinoq shenishba, because his theory really
suffered from his whole notion that the drive to do good resided in
the Super-Ego and was really a drive to conform to society and parental
expectation, rather than an inherent desire to do good.

(If this topic doesn't interest you, I address a different one of RMGR's
points further down. Look for the ----- .)

Without an offsetting drive to do good, Freud then ends up with this
whole thing about suppressing, repressing and sublimating one's gashmi

R Wolbe (Psychiatria veDas, Bishvilei HaRefu'ah vol 5 pg 68
<http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=28406&;st=&pgnum=68>) writes
about the Torah's parallel to the concept of subconscious. To quote
my translation of that section of the essay, pg 9

    Subconscious and Super-Conscious
    """""""""""" """ """""""""""""""

    There is one last question for us to discuss: Does the Torah
    recognize the [existence of a] subconscious? The answer is in
    the affirmative. In the Tanakh we find that "Hashem [Tzevakos is
    a righteous judge] who examines the kidneys and heart" (Yirmiyahu
    11:20). And the Talmud establishes, "the kidneys advise, the heart
    understands" (Berakhos 61a). The heart is the seat of the conscious,
    the kidneys -- an idiom for the subconscious.

    However, the subconscious known to Torah scholars is not that of
    Freud, which is created by the suppression of desires or unpleasant
    experiences. It is also not the unconscious of Jung, who believes in
    archetypes which reside in a collective unconscious. We must turn
    to the words of the Gra, "the Vilna Gaon": "All of a person's ways
    follow the original desire; the original desire as it initially arises
    is correct in his eyes." (Commentary on Mishlei 16:1-2) As if to
    say, the desire is formed in such depths that our conscious has no
    dominion over them. The "I" (perhaps: "Ego in the Freudian sense)
    that is known to us is only a very small part of the essence of
    a person. Hidden desire directs our ways -- they are the "advising
    kidneys" in the idiom of Tanakh and our Sages, which we don't directly
    feel in our activities. For the sake of brevity, we will have to
    refrain here from bringing examples from the Torah about how this
    "original desire" acts. Suffice it here to say that the hidden desire
    has the ability to strive for things of the body or the spirit.

    From the Torah's perspective, we would have to speak of a subconscious
    and also of a super-conscious. There are lofty desires which originate
    in the godly soul within us. They push us to ethical elevation and
    closeness to God, and they bring us to more lofty emotions. This
    spiritual original desire is appropriately called "super-conscious,"
    and we must leave the term "subconscious" for original desires
    that draw one to satisfy physical indulgences. The desires of our
    super-conscious are certainly no less strong than the desires of the
    subconscious. This understanding of super -- and subconscious does not
    invalidate the mechanisms of repression. We already saw above that it
    was already known to Rabbi Yisrael Salanter 60 years before Freud. But
    the Torah understanding does contradict Freud in a sharp way in that
    he only finds the Libido in the subconscious, and in dreams which are
    the window into the subconscious, only sexual matters. (Cf. [Victor]
    Frankl's writings, Das Menschenbild der Seelenheilkunde, Stuttgart
    1959, and Der Unbewusste Gott -- Psychotherapie und Religion.)


: When I suggested that Tznius is the Hashkafa of not shouting to the
: world - Look At ME; I was defining Tznius. I was not explaining it. We
: have various levels of Tznius, some of which are absolute whilst others
: are subjective, as is seen in Halacha.
: We link lust to Tznius, but it is not necessarily so in all cases.

I think lust is linked to tzenius for the same reason Madison Ave so
frequently turns to sex and sexiness -- it's an easy way to get attention.
"Sex sells."

And so I think RnCS's (a/k/a "Chana Luntz") three categorizations of
"tzeni'us" all do derive from RMGR's definition.

1- Calling attention to oneself.

2- Intentionally being sexy, as it calls attention to oneself.

3- Trying for sexiness as per the surrounding culture, as it's the most
   effective version of #2. Especially since our surrounding cultures tend
   to identify importance with fame and with sexiness.
   (And the reisha "fame and importance" touches what I said about
   tzeni'us meaning not wanting to be Chazan, and how being American
   tells women that not being able to be Chazanit or Rabbah would be
   barring them from the important roles.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's never too late
mi...@aishdas.org        to become the person
http://www.aishdas.org   you might have been.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                      - George Eliot

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Message: 8
From: "Sholom Simon" <sho...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:02:56 -0500
[Avodah] definition of 'shabbosdik'

> Running is not Shabbosdig.  Walking is the only form of locomotion  that
> is Shabbosdig, because by its nature walking is peaceful.

I once heard a shiur discussing some of the prohibitions on Beitzah 36
(riding, swimming).  The rav posited that the "real" reasons for these
prohibitions (as opposed to: I might break a branch off for a whip --
really?) was just as Rn T"K said: locomotion (other than walking) is not
shabbosdicke.  The reasons given in the gemara were only "convenient pegs"
upon which to put the hat.  This yesod ("not shabbosdicke") is, for me, an
easier to understand in other situations, too -- e.g., vis-a-vis a


-- Sholom

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Message: 9
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 18:41:21 -0500
[Avodah] Eating Out

At 04:42 PM 12/11/2013, R. David Riceman wrote:

>RYL has hinted, but not stated clearly, that his reluctance to eat at
>others' houses is religious in origin.  What precisely is the motivation?

I only rely on the OU and not on other hashgachos.  I use only 
factory  packaged meat and poultry.   This is my thing,  and I know 
that others do not follow it nor do I expect them to.  Hence, I do 
not eat in the homes of other people.

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Message: 10
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:19:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Sledding on Shabbat

On 11/12/2013 12:52 PM, T6...@aol.com wrote:
> 1. Exercise -- breaking a sweat -- similar to running -- not "Shabbosdig"

Exercise is only forbidden when it's not fun.   The SA explicitly
exempts young men from the prohibition on running, because they
typically enjoy it.

> 2. Making grooves in the snow and/or smoothing out the snow.

I don't see what issur there is in making grooves in snow.  It's not soil,
so you're not ploughing.  And I'm sceptical about applying "memarech" to
smoothing out snow too, if that is indeed something sledders would typically

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: 11
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:23:55 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Quote

On 11/12/2013 8:20 AM, Richie wrote:
> This reminds me of the famous anonymous quote: One should be just as concerned what comes out of his mouth as for what goes in.

It's not at all anonymous.   Matthew 15:11, Mark 7:15.

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: 12
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:05:45 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Yosef, a despot or a brilliant strategist and

On 11/12/2013 11:13 AM, Liron Kopinsky wrote:
> I also noticed this year that the enslaved Egyptians still had their own slaves.

Yes, it wasn't unknown in Chazal's time either for slaves to own slaves.
Technically, of course, everything a slave owns belongs to his master,
so his slaves are really his master's slaves, but in practise slaves
did have their own property that their masters chose not to confiscate,
presumably so they'd have an incentive to work well.

On 11/12/2013 1:38 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 10:38:42PM -0500,T6...@aol.com  wrote:
> : Yosef let people keep 80% of what they produced.  Halavai we should  have
> : such "socialism" in America, with only a 20% tax rate!
> Vayiqbotz es kol okhel -- 341:48

This does *not* mean the entire crop. It also doesn't say how he obtained
that which he did gather; since the land didn't yet belong to Par'oh,
so Par'oh didn't have the right to just take it, the most obvious answer
is that he paid for it. That's not socialism, it's capitalism! He was
a speculator, hoarding in good years in anticipation of making a profit
in bad ones.

> which is why
> Vatir'ov kol Eretz Mitzrayim, veyitz'oq ha'am el Par'oh lalacham -- v. 45
> and Par'oh tells them to go to Yosef "asher yomar lakhem ta'asu" (ibid).
> Rashi ad loc quotes Bereishis Rabba that at the point of pasuq 45,
> all the other food was gone -- Yoseif had a monopoly.

Rashi also says *why* all the other food was gone. Yosef didn't take
it away. On the contrary, the Mitzrim, being forewarned, *did* each
store plenty of food for themselves, presumably enough that should have
lasted them seven years (since they knew that was how long the famine
would last). They were hungry because their stores rotted, not because
Yosef confiscated them.

On 11/12/2013 1:55 PM, Liron Kopinsky wrote:
> What was interesting to me this year is that during the 7 years or plenty, Yosef also taxed them at only 20% (and that was taxation).

Where do you see this? "Vechimesh" means "he should mobilise", not
"he shouldfifth".

Zev Sero

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Message: 13
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:49:15 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Gym, the Carpool, and Tzniyus

On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 04:21:03PM +0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
: > That's not what he says, though. A gezeira is enacted to prevent
: > violation. He speaks here of a commonly accepted and binding practice
: > to further the ideal of tzeni'us.

: Read the Meiri carefully.  Down the bottom he indeed talks about commonly
: accepted and binding practice to further the ideal of tzni'us, but that
: wasn't what I was focussing on.  What is much more fascinating is the
: Meiri's explanation higher up "that is to say, not [just] at the end of the
: matter when she commits adultery does she lose her ketuba ..." ...

I don't see the Me'iri as switching midstream from saying Das Yehudis is
din derabbanan to saying it's a gezeira.

Rather, I saw him as saying DY is a din derabbanan. But the forfeiture
of a kesuvah for violating it is a gezeira.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 14
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 21:06:10 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Eating Out

On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 12:34:06PM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
> RMB:
>> if someone habituates in being machmir to avoid accidental sinning,  
>> because he personally likes the sevara or taam hamitzvah of some shitah  
>> that he knows isn't iqar hadin (e.g. many men who don't use the eruv but  
>> their wives do), that's a hanhagah rather than an actual minhag.

> Does this practice falls under the rubric of halacha at all.  To take an  
> extreme example, Nero Wolfe wears only yellow pajamas.  If he were an  
> observant Jew would that be allowed to override any practice mandated by  
> Judaism, or is it simply an aesthetic practice irrelevant to religion?  

I intentionally picked practices that are under the Ramchal's definition
of perishus (MY pereq 14), implementations of qedoshim tihyu and/or
ve'asisa hayashar vehatov. The Ramchal has:

1- perishus behana'os: not to live a life of empty endulgence (I think of
  the Ramban's naval birshus haTorah)

2- perishus bedinim: being machmir on sefeiqus and shitos that aren't
   accepted as baseline law

3- perishus beminhagim: for spiritual ends

I tried flipping that list from a sur meira focus to an asei tov.

> What's the binding mechanism? Is it a type of implicit neder?

That is my understanding. I know people who received pesaqim to "be matir
neder" when switching to using the eruv or drinking chalav hacompanies.

But I don't know Nedarim well enough (despite the relative recentness of
Mes Nedarim and having just finished Shevuos) to address the rest of your

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The mind is a wonderful organ
mi...@aishdas.org        for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org   the heart already reached.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 15
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:47:56 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Sledding on Shabbat


<<I'm looking online at the permissibility of sledding on Shabbat and I 
see one of two things: 1) "There is no problem with that" 2) "Athletic 
activities, bicycle riding, tennis, ball playing, swimming, skating and 
sledding are forbidden.>>

I don't think you can lump all these things together.  Ball playing, for 
example, is a mahlokes between the Mehaber and the Rama (OH 308:45).  
Swimming has a number of special issues (e.g. sehitah) which can lead 
reasonable people to be stringent.  Bicycle riding has led the Tzitz 
Eliezer to enact a new gezeirah (much to my astonishment).

David Riceman

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Message: 16
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:22:18 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Eating Out

To cite R Mordechai Torczyner (CCed) for the second time in two days,
here is the English subset of

These are notes fcr "Shiur Theatre". Act I is about minhagim, act II
-- hanhagos (minhagei chassidus), and act III raises the issue of the
permissability of incurring the social cost (pirud).

I haven't yet digested it, but this seems to address so many recurring
Avodah discussions, I couldn't wait to share it.

Tir'u baTov!

The Rebbetzin's Husband

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Frumming Out, Fitting In - A Source Sheet
... [Header and Intro deleted micha]

                          Frumming Out, Fitting In

             R' Mordechai Torczyner - torczy...@torontotorah.com

   Act One: Swapping Minhagim (Customs)

   1. Tur Choshen Mishpat 368, citing Rav Sherira Gaon (10^th century Babylon)
   As far as your local custom, that one who purchases from bandits and
   thieves must return it to the owners and collect his expenditures from
   them: If this is so, then all are obligated not to diverge from the
   custom. As we say: "How do we know that custom is substantive?
   Deuteronomy 9:14 states, 'Do not trespass the boundary of another, set
   by early generations.'" This is certainly true for a practice which
   inolves great improvement and elimination of strife. Therefore, do
   according to your custom, do not diverge, and be at peace.

   2. Sheiltot of Rav Achai Gaon (8^th century Babylon), Vayyakhel 67
   Rav saw someone planting flax on Purim. Rav cursed him for working on
   Purim, and his flax did not grow. But why did Rav do thus? Have we not
   learned that they did not accept Purim as such a holiday [on which
   planting would be prohibited]? Rav Kahana explained: This was a place
   where their custom was not to work on Purim. Then why did Rav not
   excommunicate him? The failure of his flax was his excommunication. And
   how do we know that custom is substantive? Rava bar Abba cited Rabbi
   Yochanan citing Rav: Proverbs 1:8 says, "Listen, my son, to the ethical
   instruction of your father, and do not reject the teachings of your

   3. Jerusalem Talmud, Yevamot 12:1
   Rabbi Ba and Rav Yehudah said, citing Rav: Were Elijah the Prophet to
   come and declare that a shoe may be used for the chalitzah rite, we
   would listen. Were he to say that we may not use a sandal, we would not
   listen to him, for many customarily use the sandal, and custom
   overrides law.

Tidbit: Rabbi Ba = Rabbi Abba. (Yerushalmi often uses nicknames that drop
or slur the beginning of the name. And/or, add a Greek suffix, so that R'
Yehudah haNasi is at times "Rabbi Yudan". The most confusing is that R'
Illa is often quoted as "Rabbi Lo", so that "Rabbi Lo said" and "Rebbe
said: don't..." look identical.)

   4. Emile Durkheim (20^th  century France), The Elementary Forms of the
      Religious Life
   If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is
   because the idea of society is the soul of religion.

   5. Rich Sosis and Candace Alcorta, Signaling, Solidarity and the Sacred,
      Evolutionary Anthropology (2003)
   These authors maintained that one of the primary functions of religion
   is the promotion of group solidarity.  They argued that collective
   rituals enable the expression and reaffirmation of shared beliefs,
   norms, and values, and are thus essential for maintaining communal
   stability and group harmony.

   6. Talmud, Pesachim 50b-51a
   Regarding practices which are permitted, but people customarily
   prohibit: You may not permit these in front of them.

   7. Rabbi Ben Zion Uziel (20^th century Israel), Piskei Uziel b'She'eilot
      haZman 2
   All division of custom in prayer and mitzvah activities, and
   contradictory rulings issued regarding communal matters performed in
   public in one synagogue, fall under the prohibition of "You shall not
   split yourselves." One could almost call this a mitzvah achieved
   through transgression! It is clear that this is not the choicest form
   of the mitzvah; just the opposite, we are obligated to maintain and
   make evident, in our every situation and service of the Gd of our
   salvation, the unity of the nation of Israel and its Torah, via which
   Gd is glorified among His people.

   8. Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet (Rivash) (14^th century Spain),
      Responsum 105
   [This source deals with protocols for contracts, established by local
   custom.] There may be cases in which a generic custom will not override
   law, unless that law is uncertain. Clear law cannot be overridden by
   generic custom, but only by custom stipulated by communal agreement.

   9. Rav Hai Gaon (10^th century Babylon), cited in T'mim De'im of Raavad
   How do we know that we are obligated to blow shofar on this day? And
   regarding the essential text of the Torah, how do we know that this is
   the Torah of Moshe, written from Gd's word? It is from the mouth of the
   Jewish nation. Their mouths testify to it, and they also testify that
   our deeds fulfill our ritual obligations, and that this has been
   transmitted by tradition from the prophets, the law of Moshe at Sinai.
   The words of the masses testify to every mishnah and gemara, and beyond
   any proof is the [Talmudic] principle, "Go see what the nation says."
   This [national practice] is the essence and basis, and after that we
   look at the declarations of the mishnah and gemara in such matters, and
   whatever emerges from them and we resolve is good. Anything that does
   not match that which is in our hearts and which cannot be proved does
   not uproot the essence.

   Act Two: Accepting personal stringencies

   10. Maimonides (12^th century Egypt), Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deiot 4:2
   One should not eat to the point that his stomach is full; he should
   lack about one-quarter of his satiation.

   11. Rabbi Yehudah haChasid (12^th century Germany), Sefer Chasidim 12
   The great and superior fence for this [special piety] is abandonment of
   food, for satiation brings on bad thoughts. How should one practice
   this? If he has fish or meat or other delicacies before him, he should
   not refrain from eating altogether, but out of awe of Gd he should not
   fill his belly to the complete realization of his desires.

   12. Talmud, Berachot 17b
   [Addressing a personal stringency to avoid work on Tishah b'Av, in a
   place where the community normally does work:] Since everyone does
   work, and he does not do work, this will appear like self-righteous

   13. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (20^th century Poland), Biur Halachah 639:7
       ["Vekhol Patur"]
   [Regarding the Code of Jewish Law's condemnation of a Jew who sits in a
   succah in the rain:] This applies specifically where there is a
   violation of law involved, as in the case of one who is pained, thereby
   desecrating Yom Tov.

   14. Tosafot Chullin 2b ["Aval"]
   [Regarding rabbinic disapproval of taking vows:] You might ask: Genesis
   28 records, "And Yaakov vowed," and Yonah 2 states, "That which I have
   vowed, I will fulfill!" One could say that in a time of need this is

   15. Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b
   "And you shall inform them" - This refers to [Torah] their source of
   life. "The path" - This refers to acts of kindness. "They will walk" -
   This is examining the sick. "In it" - This is burial. "And the deed" -
   This is justice. "They will perform" - This is to transcend the letter
   of the law... As R' Yochanan taught, that Jerusalem was destroyed only
   because they judged the law of Torah therein. Should they have used the
   laws of force?! Rather, they insisted on the law of Torah, and did not
   transcend the letter of the law.

   16. Talmud, Pesachim 40a
   A person of spiritual strength will not even soak wheat, which is
   tough, on Passover.

   17. Nachmanides (13^th century Spain) to Leviticus 19:2
   After the text specified that which is entirely prohibited, it
   instructed, generally, to separate from the permitted.

   18. Talmud, Berachot 30a
   Given the chance to be good, do not put yourself in a position to be
   called bad.

   19. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein (21^st cent. Israel), Does Judaism
       Recognize an Ethic Independent of Halakhah?
   If, however, we recognize that Halakhah is multiplanar and many
   dimensional; that, properly conceived, it includes much more than is
   explicitly required or permitted by specific rules, we shall realize
   that the ethical moment we are seeking is itself an aspect of Halakhah.

   20. Deuteronomy 13:1
   Regarding all that I command you, take care to practice it. Do not add
   to it, and do not subtract from it.

   Act Three: Personal Practices, Communal Strife

   21. Talmud, Nazir 4b
   He told me, "I was a shepherd for my father in my town, and I went to
   draw water from the spring, and I saw my reflection. My nature became
   agitated and began to draw me from the world. I told myself: Empty one!
   Why are you arrogant about a world that is not your own, when in the
   end you will be decay and worms? By the Temple Service, I will shave
   you off for the sake of Heaven!" I stood and kissed him on his head and
   said, "May there be many more nazirites like you in Israel."

   22. Rabbi Yehudah haChasid (12^th century Germany), Sefer Chasidim 11
   This is the root of piety: One must transcend the law in all matters,
   as it is said, "Gd is pious in all of His deeds."

   23. Mishnah Berachot 2:5
   Rabban Gamliel recited Shema on the night he was married. His students
   said to him, "Haven't you taught us, our master, that a groom is exempt
   from reciting Shema on the first night?" He replied, "I won't listen to
   you, to keep myself from recognizing G-d as king even for a moment."

   24. Lawrence Kohlberg (20^th century USA), Stages of Moral Development
   III. Post-Conventional, Autonomous, or Principled Level: The individual
   makes a clear effort to define moral values and principles that have
   validity and application apart from the authority of the groups of
   persons holding them and apart from the individual's own identification
   with the group.

   25. Proverbs 22:6, R' Shimshon Raphael Hirsch translation
   Raise the boy according to the course his life will take when he is
   grown; then he will not depart from it even in his old age.

   26. Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Chatam Sofer) (18^th/19^th century Hungary)
   1: Orach Chaim 197
   All of the law which is contained in the Shulchan Aruch is that which
   was given equally to all Israel, with no one excluded. However, he who
   possesses only Torah does not even possess Torah (see Yevamot 109b),
   for then his performance becomes trained habit, and that which fathers
   pass on to sons (Yeshayah 38:19). Therefore, he who would act piously
   with his Creator would be recognized by his deeds - that which his
   heart originates for the sake of heaven, to vow as a nazirite in
   whatever manner his heart desires. In this matter no two individuals
   have the same style, because no two people love Gd in the same way.

   27. Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (Netziv) (19^th century
   Russia) to Numbers 24:6
   Each garden has one central variety, and small quantities of other
   varieties are planted around it. So, too, each Jew is filled with the
   mitzvot of Gd, but each has one special mitzvah in which he is extra
   careful, as is seen in Mechilta [Beshalach 251], "One who performs a
   single mitzvah, faithfully, is worthy of Divine inspiration." And in
   the Jerusalem Talmud [Kiddushin 1:9], regarding the statement, `One who
   performs a single mitzvah is given good things,' they explain that this
   refers to a person who designates a single mitzvah for himself, and
   never violates it.

   28. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak haKohen Kook (20^th century Israel), ["Al"]
   We will not measure every acquisition by our personal measure.
   We will know that each individual is only a unit,
   one portion, a share of our community,
   and how could the whole judge but little?...
   Each person toward his heart's desire will travel and succeed,
   and from the fruit of their hands, their nation will be elevated.
   Each in his trade will breathe the breath of life;
   when he builds for himself a home, the ruin of our people will be

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