Avodah Mailing List

Volume 32: Number 23

Mon, 10 Feb 2014

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 06:14:19 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 4:55 AM, Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net> wrote:
> God's response to Moshe making this argument was presumably different than
> it would have been had Moshe used a different rationale.  Think of it as a
> test.  Let's say I want to daven for a parnasa.  I could say, "Hashem, I've
> had a cruddy past few years, and I think I ought to get something nice for
> a change."  Alternatively, I could say, "Hashem, I have a family to
> support, and shul dues and lots of other stuff, and I do what I can to keep
> Your mitzvot and make the world a better place."  Both of those are
> "reasons".  Both of them say different things about me.  If I say the
> first, Hashem will "know" that I'm an immature twit.  I say "know", in
> quotes, because obviously He'd already know that, but He may respond to me
> based on that.  More than that, my immature twittiness is out there, and
> it's something that I'll remember down the line, when I've grown up a bit.
> It will make a difference to me.

> If I say the second one, Hashem may see that as an indication that I'm not
> just gimme-gimme-gimme, but rather that I'm being reasonable and mature in
> trying to support my family.  And He may respond to me based on that.  And
> I'll know that davening that way is different than I would have, say, back
> when I was in my 20s.

Yes but that just begs the question, Hashem is all-knowing so he knows what
my motivation is without me having to say it. What is the point of
vocalizing it?

> We use logical arguments because that's how we think.  That's how the
> people Hashem created think.  We act, in many ways, as though Hashem is
> akin to a king of flesh and blood, kaveyachol, but just greater.  Because
> it's a way in which we can grasp things.  You'd hardly daven to "all of
> existence".  It'd be weird.

> Also, making logical arguments helps us to refine our reasoning.  To
> understand why it is that we want certain things.  We don't try and
> persuade Hashem.  Not really....                              even in our
> davening, we often use "May it be Your will, Hashem", to indicate that
> we're simply hoping that Hashem will decide to do X, rather than trying to
> push Him into it, so to speak.

Again this begs the question, Hashem is perfect and unchanging so Hashem
will not change his decision based on anything I say.

This discussion led to me recall a famous aggada related to the Churban.
After the churban Yirmiyahu rouses Moshe Rabenu to daven for the Jewish
people and then Avraham and Yitzchak to no avail and finally Rachel davens
to Hashem saying that in the merit of what she did for her sister the
Jewish people should be saved and Hashem answers her prayer.

How are we to understand this aggada? Moshe, Avraham etc. are dead, why are
they davening? The can't be trying to get closer to Hashem through tefilla
because they are dead. What do they hope to accomplish?  Why does Hashem
listen to Rachel's tefilla?

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 06:17:00 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:44:17AM +0200, Marty Bluke wrote:
: Then why bother even trying logical arguments? We make our choice and his
: decision is made, that is fine, but what is the point of logical/emotional
: arguments?

Again, hitpalel is in the reflexive -- including those logical arguments
or emotional pleas. We make logical arguments to internalize to ourselves
that logic. Our brains may know a right reason for wanting wealth,
but that doesn't mean our core motivations are as possitive.

And the more we internalize the truths that (1) wealth comes from HQBH,
and (2) we will only get some when our goals for that wealth align with
His, when He judges that it would do us more aid than harm, then we
*become* that person for whom wealth is appropriate.

A related topic:
Why did Avrhaam need nisyonos? Did G-d need to test Avraham to know who
He was dealing with? Or did Avraham need those tests to make latent
abilities stronger through expression?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Problems are not stop signs,
mi...@aishdas.org        they are guidelines.
http://www.aishdas.org           - Robert H. Schuller
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 3
From: elazar teitz <emte...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:48:32 +0200
Re: [Avodah] this is the only sidra from the beginning of

>> What we call "Nitzavim" is not a whole sedra; the sedra is what we call
>> "Nitzavim-Vayelech", but it's sometimes read over two Shabbosos...

>Says who?

     Among others, R. Saadia Gaon, Rashi, the Zohar.

     For an interseting discussion of the topic (and of the division into
sidros in general) see

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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 10:12:50 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "This is the only Sidra from the beginning of

On 10/02/2014 12:05 AM, Lisa Liel wrote:
> On 2/9/2014 8:13 PM, Zev Sero wrote:

>> What we call "Nitzavim" is not a whole sedra; the sedra is what we call
>> "Nitzavim-Vayelech", but it's sometimes read over two Shabbosos...

> Says who?

Says everyone, as far as I know.  I don't think it's at all controversial.
There are supposed to be 53 sedarim.  "Gan sidrei oraita". If you count
Vayelech as a separate one you get 54.

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: 5
From: elazar teitz <emte...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 14:00:43 +0200
[Avodah] Leap year

>I think it's only said during the half-year that is both in the same year
as Adar II when counting years and when counting months. Otherwise, we have
an excuse to revert to the non-modified nusach.

     I believe theree is a simpler explanation.  It is not said until after
Rosh Hashana because, as the g'mara in Sanhedrin 12a notes, the year could
not be declared a leap year until then, v'im ibruha eina m'uberes.

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Message: 6
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:11:38 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

RMBluke further asked:
> how does telling God that the Egyptians will talk if Hashem
> kills Bnei Yisroel make Moshe a better person and closer to God.
> Logical/emotional arguments seem like tefilla is to persuade God to
> change his mind which as pointed above can't be.

Asse lema'an shemekha does not mean that we play no role in the process, it
means that we, as petitioners, see our needs suddenly in terms of our role
in G"d's service, and hence we ask that we be allowed to fulfil our destiny
in G"d's service and that it be granted that this happen in a manner that
allows also for the fulfillment of our request. I.e., since G"d desires
that His reputation be spread among humankind, I therefore ask G"d to heal
my sick relative lema'an shemo, so that I and he or she will be able to
thank G"d publicly and proclaim His Name through this healing.

That is also definitely a process that brings us closer to G"d. For
instance, Moshe essentially asked "let 'Am Yisrael fulfil its destiny of
aggrandizing Your Name by breathing, even though they are at present
undeserving on a personal level. Since Thou hast irrevocably connected Thy
reputation in history to the wheelings and dealings of the descendents of
the Patriarchs, Thy proposed solution of making the Nation of Israel out of
me and my descendants won't cut it. But if you do save them, willy nilly
they will have to accept more of their historical destiny and be Thy
marketing agents here on earth.


Arie Folger
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Message: 7
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 07:48:19 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

On 2/10/2014 2:44 AM, Marty Bluke wrote:
> On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 7:11 AM, Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net 
> <mailto:l...@starways.net>> wrote:
>     Who said anything about Hashem changing His decision?  I might
>     decide that if my daughter does her homework, she can watch TV and
>     if she doesn't, she can't.  Her actions will result in one or the
>     other conclusions.  She hasn't changed my mind -- in fact -- but
>     to her, the different actions get her different results.  Yes,
>     with Hashem, He knows what we're going to choose.  But it's still
>     our choice, and He can still have a set of responses, each of
>     which is applicable to a different choice we might make.
>     Lisa
> Then why bother even trying logical arguments? We make our choice and 
> his decision is made, that is fine, but what is the point of 
> logical/emotional arguments?

I don't understand your question.  Our arguments are part of our 
choice.  We choose what arguments to make.  Maybe God has already 
decided that if you make argument X, you get result Y, and if you make a 
different argument, you get a different result.  Maybe He wants us to 
make the correct arguments.

You know... this may come as a surprise to some people, but I'm a bit 
argumentative myself.  No, seriously, I am.  And I've found over the 
years that arguing helps me clarify my own positions. Additionally, if I 
notice flaws in my own arguments, or if someone points them out to me, I 
can grow from the experience.  So why *wouldn't* God want us to make the 
best arguments we can?


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Message: 8
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 10:23:10 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

On 9/02/2014 11:14 PM, Marty Bluke wrote:
> How are we to understand this aggada? Moshe, Avraham etc. are dead, why are
> they davening? The can't be trying to get closer to Hashem through tefilla
> because they are dead.

So?  How does that prevent them from getting closer to Hashem?  Tzadikim
ein lahem menucha, they are always moving higher and closer to Hashem.
(Not that I'm accepting the basic premise that this is how tefillah works,
but given that premise, I don't see how someone being dead invalidates it.)

It's not as if this is some strange and unique "agada"; it's pretty basic
to Jewish practise, going back at least to Kalev, that we do ask the dead to
pray for us.  The Zohar says that when the world needs rain, we take a sefer
torah to the cemetery to inform the dead that we need help, and they then go
to Chevron to inform the Avot, and they all pray for us and it rains.
("Doresh el hameisim" doesn't mean people who have died, it means resha'im,
who are "meisim" even while they're breathing.)

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: 9
From: Arie Folger <afol...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:04:06 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

RLK wrote:
> "Ase L'maan Shemecha etc."
> "Im Lo L'maaneinu, l'maancha pe'al"

RMBluke responded:
> That is not much of a logical argument certainly nothing like the argument
> that Moshe made. In fact this is sort of the opposite, we are asking
> to do it for himself for no logical reason related to us.
> In any case that is not part of shemone esrei which is the main Tefilla.

Eh, hmmm, vezokher 'hassdei avot umevi go-el livnei veneihem *lem'an shemo*

It's right at the beginning!

Arie Folger,
Recent blog posts on http://ariefolger.wordpress.com/
* Wieviel Feste feiern wir an Sukkot (Audio-Schiur)
* Die ethische Dimension des Schma Jissra?ls (Audio-Schiur)
* Ein Baum, der klug macht?! (Audio-Schiur)
* Podiumsdiskussion ?J?dische Religion zwischen Tradition und Moderne?
* Great Videos from the CER in Berlin
* A Priest Returns to his Faith
* The CER Berlin Conference in Pictures
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Message: 10
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 18:33:10 GMT
Re: [Avodah] "This is the only Sidra from the beginning...

R' Zev Sero wrote:

> What we call "Nitzavim" is not a whole sedra; the sedra is what
> we call "Nitzavim-Vayelech", but it's sometimes read over two
> Shabbosos.

How do you define "sedra" in this context? Are Tazria and Metzora one sedra or two? Are Bereshis and Noach one sedra or two?

Here's a related question, which might help answer the above: Is the idea
of a "sedra" a real halachic concept to begin with? Granted that on any
given day of the calendar, halacha/minhag prescribes a specific list of
pesukim to be read, and the poskim deal with situations where they actually
read fewer pesukim, or more pesukim, or different pesukim - but does the
unit called a "sedra" have any real halachic significance?

If there is indeed such a halachic concept, then it will have a definition,
and we can apply that definition to see whether Nitzavim and Vayelech are
one or two. But if not, then I suppose its significance is limited to
trivia questions, such as, "In how many sedra does such-and-such appear?"

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: j...@m5.chicago.il.us
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:23:42 -0400 (CST)
[Avodah] Recent Customs

Apropos the often-quoted (and recently, on our mailing list,
re-quoted) assertion that T'tzavveh is the only post-Genesis parasha
that does not contain Moshe's name, the following interchange occurred:

>> A common error.
>> Try finding it in Nitzavim.
> What we call "Nitzavim" is not a whole sedra; the sedra is what we
> call "Nitzavim-Vay[y]elech", but it's sometimes read over two
> Shabbosos.  The beginning of Nitzavim has to be read before Rosh
> Hashana, and normally there's only one Shabbos between RH and
> Sukkos, so that's when we read Haazinu.  But when there are two
> Shabbosim between Rosh Hashana and Sukkos we have to read something
> on each, and we can't split Haazinu, so we split Nitzavim, and read
> the part beginning "Vay[y]elech Moshe" on the second week.

A more correct (or, at any rate, a more complete) answer would be that
Nitzavim was never a separate parasha until the recent custom arose of
reading Vzoth Habbrakha on the second day of Shmini `Atzereth.  This
custom is less than eight hundred years old, and postdates the quoted
assertion (parenthetically, if you can read the Torah at night, a
practice that has no precedent in the Talmud -- either one -- or in
the Tosefta, or in Geonic literature, then you can certainly read the
Torah on Yom Ha`atzma'uth).  Notice that we still print Vzoth
Habbrakha with seven `aliyoth.

As for the fact that for hundreds of years there have been people who
have re-quoted that assertion without checking it against the changed
reality, it should not surprise you that that is the kind of person
these days who gives divrey Torah.

                        Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter

                        "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"

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Message: 12
From: Chana Luntz <ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 22:53:14 +0000
[Avodah] Sephardiot Wearing Tefillin

 RMB writes:

> >(First, I don't think there's a "davqa" about Sepharadim not following
> >the Rama. The Rama's whole point was simply to preserve Ashkenazi pisqa
> >in the face of the rapid spread of the SA. The davqa went the other way.)
Depends.  There is a machlokus amongst Sephardi poskim whether, in a case
where the Shulchan Aruch does not rule, or where the Rema is not
contradicting the Shulchan Aruch, does the Rema carry greater weight than
other commentators of the time. (RY writes in Klalei HHahorah at the back
of Yechave Daat klal 14 in the klei Shulchan Aruch that the minhag in Eretz
Yisrael was just to consider the Rema, to be one of the great commentators,
but that one is not obligated to follow is words, but I think the Moroccans
tended to be more deferential to the Rema).

>The Rama is quoting the same Kol Bo the Beis Yoseif (OC 38) does.

No, the Beis Yosef quotes the Orchos Chaim.  They are almost certainly by
the same author, but the Orchos Chaim is much more organised and much
fuller.  Most people believe that the Orchos Chaim is a later and more
mature version of the Kol Bo.  The alternative, that the Kol Bo is a
shorter summary of the Orchos Chaim, seems to make less sense because why
would it be less structured as well as being shorter.

The reason why this is significant is because the Kol Bo merely quotes
Rabbi Meir protesting women who wish to wear tephillin. The Orchos Chaim,
while beginning by quoting this makes two further points: (a) this position
contradicts the Talmud Bavli in Eruvin and (b) (in the name of the Rashba),
that the permissibility of women (meaning all and any women) performing
mitzvos aseh shehazman grama and blessing on them are learnt out from
Michal's wearing of tephillin.

You can't really have it both ways.  If Michal was an exceptional case (eg
with a male soul or unusual in other ways) then she cannot be the source of
learning out women's permissibility to make brachos on mitzvos aseh
shehazman grama as Rabbanu Tam does (Tosphos Eruvin 96b d'h. dilma)  But
the whole Ashkenazi tradition is predicated on this derivation.  It is fine
for the Kol Bo, who himself didn't believe that women should be making
brachos on mitzvos aseh shehazman grama, to bring a position to the
contrary, but in his more later form as the Orech Chaim, he is aware that
the implications of this psak are to fundamentally undermine the psak that
women can bless over mitzvos aseh shehazman grama and to contradict the
only gemora on which such a derivation is based.

 In addition, without the gemora in Eruvin 96b which says that the
Chachamim did not protest Michal's putting on tephillin,  you really
struggle to have a justification  for poskening like Rabbi Yosi over Rabbi
Yehuda.  Which means that women cannot perform mitzvos aseh shehazman grama
(other than perhaps taking a lulav eg to hold it for her son or husband or
sitting in the sukkah eg if it will encourage her sons to come and sit also
and where there is no chashash of issur).

> believe Yabia Omer quotes Chakham Yishaq and both holding like the Rama.

Rav Ovadiah is of course going to be in favour of this Rema, precisely
because of the above.  He holds that it is a terrible issur for women to
make brachos on mitzvos aseh shehazman grama, and if you posken like the
pisikta and the Yerushalmi, then you undermine all of Rabbanu Tam and the
Ashkenazi school's arguments from the Bavli and end up where Rav Ovadiah
thinks you should be.  This is why I think you are right that:

>This is something R' Ovadiah gelt strongly enough about for the particular
convern to overpower his general approach.

ie Rav Ovadiah is prepared to go against Maran here, and follow the Ben Ish
Chai, because the ultimate truth that he holds is against Tosphos.

 >See also the Ben Ish Chai, yr 1 Lekh Lekha, #13, who invoke "beged ish",
an entirely different argument, but also one that >actually invokes issur
rather than >mochin beyadam.

But again, you have to understand the consequences of your psak.  If you
hold that the wearing of tephillin and tallis for davenning purposes are
beged ish, then you are holding against the Bach and the Maram Shik etc
that hold that the issue is noy and kishut.  There are those who held that
way, but there are knock on consequences to that psak that affect the way
all of us live our lives, not just the few women who might be putting on

This is in addition to knocking out Michal as the basis for making brochos
on mitzvos aseh shehazman grama.

>And finally a late Sefaradi rishon (refugee from Spain who ends up in
>Italy) who actually makes the argument that's the elephant in the room
>today. The Sh'iltei haGiborim (RH 9) says it is assur for women to wear
>tefilling it because it's miderekh hason'im -- outright "don't do it
>because that's what the anti-O do".

Hmm, what the Shiltei HaGiborim says in that piece is " women are forbidden
to blow on the Yom Tov of Rosh Hashana even without a bracha since they are
not commanded in the matter and behold Yom Tov of Rosh Hashana by them is
like the other Yom Tovim that it is forbidden for all men to blow on
shabbas and yom tov and even to move the shofar the chachamim forbad and so
it is forbidden for women to lay tephillin even without a bracha because it
seems the way of the chitzonium that violate all the words of the chachamim
and do not want to learn the sources like them ..."

That is, while earlier the Shiltei HaGiborim rejects the view that women
performing positive mitvos based on time are over on bal tosif, he is
strongly against the position of Rabbanu Tam and those who rule like Rabbi
Yosi in the gemora, and holds rather like Rabbi Yehuda (who is the one who
forbids women to blow shofar).  ie who are the chitzoniim who do not learn
the sources like the Chachamim - Rabbanu Tam and those who follow act in
accordance with his psak.  And why focus on tephillin, well of course that
is the source for Rabbanu Tam's drasha to which the Shiltei haGiborim is so
opposed and from which Rabbanu Tam learns out the general permissibility of
women performing mitzvos aseh shehazman grama.

 But yes, independent of the Shiltos haGiborim, there is certainly the
moving the bima and making drashos in English type arguments of the Chatam
Sofer and others.  If the reform do it first, it becomes by
definition assur even if otherwise neutral or mutar.

>Michal's infertility was due (presumably in part) by having a soul that
>was also me'alma dedikhra.

Well the gemora's conclusion in Sanhedrin 21a appears to be is that
actually she had a son before the incident in Yerushalayim, just not
afterwards (the afterwards being a punishment due to her attitude to Dovid
HaMelech) with the alternative proposed by the gemora being that she died
in childbirth having the son that is credited to her as Eglah.  Not that
she was constitutionally infertile.

> And she was ablr to feel that her wearing tefillin would thus cause great
tiqunim. I say "presumably in part"
>because the Ari said the same thing about Beruriah choosing to wear
tefillin -- and we know she had two sons (who die on > Shabbos while still
boys r"l).

 I am no kabbalist, but from the little I know would caution against the
use of the idea of male and female souls as having any necessary bearing on
fertility and infertility.  I knew a rabbi once who had been told by a
noted kabbalist that he had a female soul, and this rabbi certainly went on
to have a large family.  ie I don't think the real kabbalists understand it
this way.

>'m too lazy to quote every source in the YY, but this deepening of the
>keli gever argument was interesting.

There are other sources as well of course, such as the Hagahos Maimonios
(hilchos tzitzis perek 3 halacha 9) who brings in the name of a gadol echad
that the problem with women wearing tephillin is because of ervah and se'ah
b'isha erva (presumably because the tephillin will then need to rest on
such hair).  I would assume he must have lived in communities in which
unmarried women also covered their hair.

But the bottom line about all this is that part of the glory of kol haTorah
kula inyan echad is that a position taken in one area has knock on effects
elsewhere and you have to be alive to those.  ie a position on klei gever
here undermines a psak about guns or unisex coats or whatever over there.
Similarly the more strongly you hold a position on the impermissibility of
women wearing tephillin here, the more you undermine the only halachic
logic there is for women make brachos on other mitzvos aseh shehazman grama
over there, or for men holding women's only shofar blowings after services
or even worse, taking such a shofar through reshus harabbim to blow for a
woman at home or in hospital.

That is why it seems pretty inconceivable that the Rema saw the Orchos
Chaim, who was alive to these implications, rather than just the Kol Bo,
who did not make the connection, and which could be read as a comment on
the medical state of the women of his day.

>Tir'u baTov!


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