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Volume 32: Number 90

Mon, 26 May 2014

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Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 06:48:28 -0400
[Avodah] Fwd (off...@etzion.org.il): Special Lag BaOmer Sicha

The contrast of Greek and Jewish attitudes toward the relationship of
perfection and interaction with olam hazeh. As told by contrasting (a
literal lehavdil) two Greek stories with the medrashic treatment of the
same subjects.

Rashbi is scolded for being unable to relate to normal people after his
cave experience, whereas the philosopher in Plato's famous cave allegory
is praised for it. (Other parallels between the stories are also raised.
FWIW, it's pretty certain Chazal were ware of Plato when they told the
narrative about R' Shimon bar Yochai. Plato wrote during Galus Bavel
or so.)

Similarly, Prometheus is scolded for giving humanity fire which (along
with women -- Pandora and her jar of pandemonium is also in this
story) are the source of all human problems. Technology as an evil.
In contrast, HQBH lovingly gives Adam the secret of fire and a way
to make life after Gan Eden easier.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 41st day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        5 weeks and 6 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Yesod sheb'Yesod: What is the ultimate measure
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     of self-control and reliability?

----- Forwarded message from Yeshivat Har Etzion <off...@etzion.org.il> -----

The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash


This shiur is dedicated in memory of
David Moshe Silverberg z"l
whose yahrzeit fell on this past Sunday, 18 Iyar, May 18th.

Israel vs. Greece -
The Allegory of the Cave and the Discovery of Fire
By Rav Chaim Navon

I. A Life of Wisdom and a Life of Action: Rashbi's Cave vs. Plato's Cave

One of the most famous parables in philosophical literature is Plato's
"allegory of the cave." Comparing this parable to the Gemara's well-known
account of the sojourn of R. Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) in a cave yields
fascinating results. Let us begin by examining each story on its own,
starting with Plato's parable:

    [Socrates:] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our
    nature is enlightened or unenlightened:--Behold! human beings living
    in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and
    reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood,
    and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move,
    and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from
    turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at
    a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised
    way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way,
    like the screen which marionette players have in front of them,
    over which they show the puppets. [...].

    [Glaucon:] You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange

    Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or
    the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite
    wall of the cave.

    True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they
    were never allowed to move their heads? [...]

    And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the
    prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first,
    when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up
    and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he
    will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will
    be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had
    seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what
    he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching
    nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence,
    he has a clearer vision,--what will be his reply? And you may further
    imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass
    and requiring him to name them,--will he not be perplexed? Will he
    not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the
    objects which are now shown to him?

    Far truer. [...]

    And when he remembered his old habitation [...] do you not suppose
    that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

    Certainly, he would.

    And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves
    on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to
    remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which
    were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions
    as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and
    glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
    'Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,' and to endure
    anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

    Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than
    entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

    Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the
    sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to
    have his eyes full of darkness?

    To be sure, he said.

    And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring
    the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den,
    while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady
    (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of
    sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men
    would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes;
    and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any
    one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them
    only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

    No question, he said.

    This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon,
    to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight,
    the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me
    if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul
    into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which,
    at your desire, I have expressed [...].[1]

The parable of the cave describes the philosopher's place in society.
Human society as a whole is chained in a cave, far from the light of
knowledge. People see only shadows, and even these are not shadows of
real sunlight but rather only shadows cast by a fire. Since this is
all that they see, they are certain that this is all that exists in
reality. They cannot see even themselves and their fellows properly. If
one of them manages to free himself and has an opportunity to go out into
the sunlight, it takes a long time for his eyes to become accustomed to
it. This is an educational statement about the early stages of education,
which are difficult and confusing. However, if a person perseveres,
he eventually discovers a different world: a world of real knowledge,
the world of light - the world of philosophy.

The allegory of the cave describes a profound chasm and conflict between
philosophers and regular people. Owing to the narrow range of their
experiences, regular people cannot understand what philosophers are
talking about. They therefore scorn them and view them as "loafers"
who engage in vanity and are untrained in the real matters of the world.

Moreover, Plato notes, "if any one tried to loose another and lead him
up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put
him to death." He places this statement in the mouth of his teacher,
Socrates. And indeed, this is exactly what happened to Socrates; the
people of Athens killed him. Socrates' death is a stark illustration
of the terrible hatred borne by the "people of the cave" towards anyone
who tries to bring them out into the light.

But the allegory of the cave is not altogether pessimistic. Plato writes
that he is describing "the way in which they may be liberated from their
chains and healed of their blindness." In other words, he maintains
that the philosopher still stands some chance of convincing the masses
to emerge from the cave to the light. It is for this reason, it seems,
that the philosopher who has already emerged into the light agrees to
return to the cave, even though he would rather "endure anything, rather
than think as they do and live after their manner." The philosopher
would prefer to live secluded in his home and to engage in wisdom. So
long as he is closed up in his house, he is in fact the only person
who is free. But he has a moral obligation to engage in social matters,
to try to educate people and to guide them towards wisdom.[2]

Let us now consider the story of the cave of R. Shimon bar Yochai:

    He [R. Shimon bar Yochai] and his son went and hid themselves in the
    beit midrash. Each day, his wife would bring them bread and a pitcher
    of water and they would eat. When the decrees became even more severe,
    he said to his son, "Women are of unstable temperament. She may be
    subjected to torture and end up revealing our location." So they went
    and hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob-tree and a spring
    of water were created for them. They would strip their garments and
    sit up to their necks in sand, studying all day. When it was time
    for prayer, they would dress themselves, pray, and then take off
    their garments again, so that they should not wear out. And thus
    they lived for twelve years in the cave.

    Then [the prophet] Eliyahu came and stood at the entrance to the
    cave and proclaimed, "Who will inform bar Yochai that the emperor
    is dead and his decree annulled?" So they emerged. Seeing people
    plowing and sowing, they exclaimed, "They forsake eternal life and
    engage in temporal life!" Whatever they cast their eyes upon was
    immediately burnt up. A heavenly voice emerged and said, "Have you
    emerged to destroy My world? Return to your cave!"

    So they returned and stayed there for twelve months, saying, "The
    punishment of the wicked in Gehennom lasts [no more than] twelve
    months." A heavenly voice then emerged and said, "Go forth from
    your cave!" They emerged, and wherever R. Elazar inflicted damaged,
    Rashbi would heal. He said to him, "My son! You and I are sufficient
    for the world."

    On the eve of Shabbat, at twilight, they saw an old man holding two
    myrtle branches and running. They asked him, "What are these for?" He
    answered, "They are in honor of Shabbat." [They were puzzled:] "One
    [branch] would suffice." [He replied,] "One is for `zakhor' [the
    commandment to 'Remember the Shabbat day'] and the other for 'shamor'
    [the commandment to 'Observe the Shabbat day']." [Rashbi] said to
    his son, "See how precious the commandments are to Israel!" Their
    minds were set at ease.

    R. Pinchas ben Yair, his son-in-law, heard of it and went out to meet
    him. He took him to the bathhouse and massaged his [Rashbi's] flesh.
    Seeing the sores all over his body, [R. Pinchas ben Yair] wept;
    the tears streamed from his eyes onto the sores, causing Rashbi to
    cry out. He said, "Woe to me that I see you in such a state!" [Rashbi
    replied,] "Happy are you that you see me thus, for if you did not
    see me in such a state, you would not find me thus [learned]."[3]
    For originally, when R. Shimon bar Yochai had raised a difficulty,
    R. Pinchas ben Yair would give him thirteen answers. [Now,] later,
    when R. Pinchas ben Yair raised a difficulty, R. Shimon bar Yochai
    could give him twenty-four answers. (Shabbat 33b)

R. Shimon bar Yochai lived with his son in a cave for twelve years. His
nourishment was provided like the manna in the desert - through a
special miracle that God performed for him. In other sources, we find
Rashbi declaring that the Torah was given to be studied by those fed
on manna (Mekhilta De-Rabbi Yishmael, Beshalach, massekhta de-vayehi).
Perhaps he was referring here to himself, expressing his longing for the
period he had spent in the cave. R. Shimon bar Yochai testifies that by
virtue of that period, he had been elevated in his Torah study, and his
wisdom now exceeded by far that of his son-in-law, R. Pinchas ben Yair.

While the gemara records that R. Shimon bar Yochai ultimately understood
that the world must not be destroyed, attention should be paid to the
precise formulation of his conclusion. He does not assert that people
who engage in "temporal life" have value; rather, his conclusion is that
"You and I are sufficient for the world." In other words, it suffices
that there are some people who live their lives in the way that Rashbi
believes that they should. One might be tempted to interpret his words
more freely,[4] but there are many sources that show that R. Shimon bar
Yochai maintained his view that the only life worth living is a life of
Torah study, and that in order to study Torah, a person must cut himself
off from this world, and especially from concerns relating to making
a living.[5] In a certain sense, R. Shimon bar Yochai was a Platonic
thinker: he believed that the only life worth living was a life of the
spirit, of study, a life lived by elitist scholars who seclude themselves
with their books and their fellow scholars.

In any event, the story expresses a negative view of R. Shimon bar
Yochai's approach. When he and his son start to wreak destruction,
the heavenly voice banishes them back to their cave. They remain there,
serving the sentence of the greatest sinners - "The punishment of the
wicked in Gehennom lasts [no more than] twelve months." The cave is
depicted at first like the Garden of Eden. R. Shimon bar Yochai and
his son need not work for a living; they live off fruit that God causes
to grow for them in a miraculous manner. Ultimately, however, the cave
becomes a sort of "Gehennom." When they emerge for the second time into
this world, they are ready to reconcile themselves to it, at least post
facto. Only then does God permit them to live outside of the cave.

The two stories - the Platonic allegory and the Talmudic account - have
a strong common theme. Both describe the tension between the life of
contemplation and study that is followed by scholars seeking the truth
and the practical reality of the masses. However, the two stories are
also very different. The most obvious difference concerns the question of
who is in the cave. For Plato, it is the masses who live in the cave;
in the Talmudic account, it is the sages, cut off from the world,
who live there. This is a most significant difference. Plato's story
conveys nothing but scorn for the simple masses, who do not attain a
life of truth. Chazal, in contrast, convey tremendous respect for the
simple people, as embodied in the beautiful and wholehearted devotion
of the old man who loves Shabbat. It is not clear whether R. Shimon bar
Yochai and his son show the man the appreciation that he deserves, but
the narrator clearly does. And the man is not just performing an action;
his action is based on Torah knowledge: he is aware of the different
formulations of the Ten Commandments in Sefer Shemot and in Sefer Devarim.

In both stories, the sage is forced to return to the cave against his
will. For Plato, his return is apparently meant for the purpose of trying
to bring the masses out of the darkness of their ignorance, into the
light. This is the philosopher's social responsibility. For Chazal, the
sages return to the cave as punishment for their scorning of the simple
masses. The paradoxical picture that arises shows the sages imprisoned
in the cave in a manner hinting to "the punishment of the wicked in
Gehennom," while the simple people live their lives on the outside,
in the light.

In the Platonic allegory, someone needs to forcibly drag the first
subject out of the cave. It would seem that this must be his teacher,
the philosopher, who forces the subject to look at the light, although
at first it is a difficult, painful, and unrewarding experience. In the
Talmudic account, the prophet Eliyahu comes to invite Rashbi and his
son out of the cave. They don't need to be forced out; their eyes have
not been dimmed to such a degree. The prisoner in Plato's story is at
first blinded by the light. Rashbi and his son are not blinded; on the
contrary, their gaze burns everything around them. In both scenarios,
the rupture between the cave and the world outside causes damage that
is related to the eyes.

To what extent do Rashbi and his son truly reconcile themselves to life
outside of the cave? To this question we have no clear answer. Despite
the clear position of the narrator, sages throughout the generations
have continued to grapple with the debate over the elitist life of study
vs. real life for the masses. No matter which position is taken, it is
clear that the point of departure for this debate in the Jewish world
is very different from - we might even say the opposite of -that of Plato.

II. The Gift of Fire: The Curse of Prometheus vs. a Blessing over the
Light of Fire

How did mankind come to use fire? Greek mythology offers the following

    For the gods keep hidden from men the means of life. Else you would
    easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even
    without working [...]. But Zeus in the anger of his heart hid it,
    because Prometheus the crafty deceived him; therefore he planned
    sorrow and mischief against men. He hid fire; but that the noble son
    of Iapetus [Prometheus] stole again for men from Zeus the counselor
    in a hollow fennel-stalk, so that Zeus who delights in thunder did
    not see it. But afterwards Zeus who gathers the clouds said to him
    in anger: "Son of Lapetus, surpassing all in cunning, you are glad
    that you have outwitted me and stolen fire -- a great plague to you
    yourself and to men that shall be. But I will give men as the price
    for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while
    they embrace their own destruction."[6] [...]

    So he ordered. And they obeyed the lord Zeus the son of Cronos.
    Forthwith the famous Lame God molded clay in the likeness of a modest
    maid [...] And the goddess bright-eyed Athene girded and clothed
    her, and the divine Graces and queenly Persuasion put necklaces
    of gold upon her, and the rich-haired Hours crowned her head with
    spring flowers. [...] Also the Guide, the Slayer of Argus, contrived
    within her lies and crafty words and a deceitful nature at the will
    of loud thundering Zeus, and the Herald of the gods put speech in
    her. And he called this woman Pandora, because all they who dwelt
    on Olympus gave each a gift, a plague to men who eat bread.

    [...] And Epimetheus did not think on what Prometheus had said to
    him, bidding him never take a gift of Olympian Zeus, but to send it
    back for fear it might prove to be something harmful to men. But he
    took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his,
    he understood. For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote
    and free from ills and hard toil and heavy sickness which bring the
    Fates upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman
    took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered all
    these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. [...] So
    is there no way to escape the will of Zeus.[7]

The story of Prometheus leads to the following conclusions:

1. Prior to the discovery of fire, mankind lived in peace, happiness,
and tranquility. Fire symbolizes technological progress, and the Greek
myth represents the same idea that was propagated much later by Rousseau:
technology came to redeem man, but ended up enslaving him.

2. The gods did not wish to give fire to mankind.

3. Difficulties and suffering in life were brought upon mankind by
Pandora, the first woman. Women and technology are depicted here as
the two factors that are responsible for introducing man to a world of
suffering and tribulations.

Le-havdil, a fathomless abyss, a thousand differences between the impure
and the pure, separate this myth from a well-known midrash:

    That [primal] light that was created on the first day shone for
    thirty-six hours: twelve hours of erev Shabbat, and twelve hours of
    the night of Shabbat, and twelve hours of Shabbat [day], and Adam
    could see by it from one end of the world to the other. Since the
    light did not end, the whole world began to sing... When Shabbat
    ended, the darkness took over. Adam grew afraid, and said, "This
    is what was meant by the curse [that God gave to the snake, with
    reference to the descendants of Chava:] 'He [they] shall bruise your
    head (yeshufekha rosh), and you shall bruise (teshufenu) his heel' -
    perhaps he has now come to harm me; 'and I say, Surely only darkness
    will cover me (yeshufeni)...' (Tehillim 139:11) [i.e., perhaps the
    snake will come and bite me in this time of darkness]. R. Levi said:
    At that time, the Holy One, blessed be He, prepared two flint stones
    for him; he struck them against one another, and light emerged
    [he produced fire]. This is as it is written, "... and the night
    will be light for me" (ibid.). And he recited a blessing over it:
    "... Who creates the lights of fire." Shmuel said: Therefore, we
    recite a blessing over fire when Shabbat ends, because that is when
    it was first created. (Yerushalmi Berakhot 8:5)

The midrash paints an entirely different - almost opposite - picture.
Fire was not stolen from the gods; rather, it is a gift that God
willingly gave to man. Instead of the jealousy and hatred towards man that
characterize the Greek myth, the midrash conveys a sense of closeness
and love. In addition, it conveys a positive attitude towards fire and
technology in general. Prior to the discovery of fire, man was weak,
fearful, and full of anxiety. It was not technology that banished man
from the Garden of Eden, but rather his own sin. Fire is what gives him
the strength to deal with the outside world, as well as with his own
inner fears. With regard to woman, as well, the Jewish position is quite
different: while it was admittedly Chava who first believed the serpent,
the Torah does not attribute special blame to her beyond that attributed
to Adam.[8]

The creation of fire, in the midrashic account, is a story of
rehabilitation. According to Chazal, man was banished from the Garden of
Eden on the same day that he was formed - the sixth day of Creation (see,
for example, Yalkut Shimoni, Pinchas 782). Over the course of another
full twenty-four hour period, the primordial light of Creation continued
to illuminate the world, in honor of Shabbat. But then darkness fell. Now,
for the first time, Adam had to contend with his expulsion from the Garden
of Eden, and he did so with the help of technology. In the Greek myth,
prior to the discovery of fire, man existed "remote and free from ills
and hard toil." Technology brought an end to this state of bliss. In
the midrashic view, technology is what helps man to rehabilitate his
life after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

The two midrashim that we have examined here share a common theme - both
reflect a positive Jewish view of this world. In this regard, Heschel
presents Rashbi as the opposite of Prometheus: Prometheus gave mankind
civilization, while Rashbi sought to take it from them.[9] And while the
Greek myth has the gods angry at Prometheus, the God of Israel - le-havdil
- punishes Rashbi, who bears the opposite message. Judaism accepts and
embraces this world - a world of action and creativity, of technology
and progress.

Translated by Kaeren Fish


[1] Plato, The Republic, translated by Benjamin Jowett.

[2] Plato's words later on imply that the leaders must even force
the individuals who have attained the light to take on public roles -
i.e., to return to the cave. Micha Goodman notes that the Rambam, whose
politico-educational view resembles that of Plato in certain respects,
deviates from Plato's teaching in this regard. He maintains that the
return to the "cave" arises from a profound desire on the part of the
prophet to share the knowledge that is pouring into him, rather than
a response to any external or internal coercion (Sodotav shel Moreh
Nevukhim, pp. 122-123).

[3] The deterioration of the body is presented here as a condition for
elevation of the soul.

[4] Especially in light of the story of the old man carrying myrtle
branches in honor of Shabbat, who seemingly sets Rashbi's mind at rest.

[5] The most striking example is in Berakhot 35b: "R. Shimon ben Yochai
said: If a person plows in the plowing season, sows in the sowing season,
reaps in the reaping season, grinds in the grinding season, and winnows
in the windy season - what will become of Torah [study]?! [This cannot
be.] Rather, when the Jewish People perform the will of God, their labor
is carried out by others."

[6] The reference here is to Pandora, the first woman, who brings a jar
full of catastrophes. The message of the myth is that women, whom men
gladly embrace, bring catastrophe upon the world.

[7] Hesiod, Works and Days, II 42-105.

[8] Adam himself tries to portray his wife as the guilty party, and his
claim is rejected.

[9] A.J. Heschel, The Sabbath (1951).

Copyright (c) 1997-2014 by Yeshivat Har Etzion. Please send comments or
questions to: off...@etzion.org.il

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 10:01:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Women wearing Tefillin

On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 02:02:56AM +0000, Kenneth Miller via Avodah wrote:
: I have always understood these fasts to be straightforward halachos
: of the d'Rabanan level, for which the only heterim are of the regular
: "lo gazru rabanan" type, such as for health reasons. I never before
: heard it being contingent on persecution and/or community custom. Can
: you show me where to find this? Thanks.

RDC cited R' Papa on RH 18a-b, which ties it to persecution, saying in
eras of neither oppression nor shalom, these taaniyos are minhag. (In
days of shalom we are assured they will be days of sason vesimchah.)

And the SA OC 550:1 which cites these taaniyos as obligatory, under the
problem of poreitz geder -- implying it's minhag.

He also gave the MA and the MB (s"q) ad loc, and ROY producing heterim
for mechankhim on these grounds.

To add to what was already cited before RAM asked:

Notably the Rambam Ta'anis 1:1 phrases it as "Yeish sham yamim shekol
Yisrael mis'anim bahem". And in 1:5 he says the days are identified
by qabbalah (ie nevu'ah), but not that actually fasting on them was
mandated midivrei qabbalah.

In contrast, the Tur has "hakol chayavim lehis'anos midivrei qabbalah".
There is either a machloqes here, or are using "divrei qabbalah"

Arguably at this point they're as much of a "reshus" as maariv is.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 41st day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        5 weeks and 6 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Yesod sheb'Yesod: What is the ultimate measure
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     of self-control and reliability?

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 10:15:39 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Spreading Fires Of Lag Baomer: Tempting

On Sat, May 17, 2014 at 09:37:25PM -0400, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: The Prescience of the Chasam Sofer
: A main exhibit of the stance of Minhag Ashkenaz on Lag Baomer, is,
: of course, the words of the Chasam Sofer about it, as we have
: discussed and linked to<http://treasuresofashkenaz.wordpress.com/
: 2011/05/20/no-no-no-no-no-minhag-ashkenaz-on-lag-baomer/>
: in the past.

The question is whether the CS's position on Lag baOmer is separable from
his general attitude toward "chadash". Is it consistent for a qehillah
in which serons are given in English (and some of the accepted tunes in
their nusach are in the major key, and...) to invoke the CS's objection
to this innovation?

Like in schlissel challah, I think their might be a problem inhering in
how the thing is sometimes done, but not the practice itself.

Quicky spirituality is a problem.

OTOH, marketing requires making numerous impressions. Each impression
is shallow and leaves little impact. But cumulatively, they get the
audience to by more product.

Lehavdil RYS says something similar about tiqun hamidos. Each excercise
might leave little reshima, but the reshima is there. And over time,
the drops of water bore a hole in the rock.

If you think the kumzitz at a bonfire is it, or that chai rotel will
buy you a yeshu'ah that isn't warranted through sekher va'onesh, then
maybe avoiding Lag baOmer practices is the right approach.

But if it's part of a steady diet of reshima atop reshima... there is
little else we can do to get from here to there.

Our shul recently had a shabbos with a special singer and a Carlebach
style davening. Many were happy with it -- many came from across the
neighborhood to attend our shul for the occation. And many of the regulars
were beside themselves with impatience by the time davening was over.
I was asked what I thought, and my opinion was similar to the above.

First, see how davening was Sunday morning. If it wasn't much different
than Fri minchah, then perhaps the emotional high was all in the music,
and not in the ruchnius.

But for those who are moved religiously, we need weekends like that one.
It's only a diet of rut-breaking excercises that can get an emotional
shift. Learning about davening, having a siddur with the best translation
and footnotes, is just that -- *about* davening. To actually feel like
one is in a meeting with the Borei, that requires mussar, it requires
emotional inclucation, not dry concepts.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Today is the 41st day, which is
mi...@aishdas.org        5 weeks and 6 days in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Yesod sheb'Yesod: What is the ultimate measure
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     of self-control and reliability?

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Message: 4
From: Kenneth Miller
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 13:11:54 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Long hebrew names for stars

R' Elozor Reich wrote:

>>> Since "Lekulom Shaymos Yikro" every star has an individual
>>> name and there are only 22 letters in Aleph-Beth, there must
>>> be many stars with long and very long names. A quick
>>> calculation of permutations shows that for the Talmud's number
>>> we need names of up to fifteen letters !

I am not familiar with the phrase "Lekulom Shaymos Yikro". Does it require them all to have *different* names?

Every person has a name, but there's plenty of duplication. Why can't the same apply to the stars?

Akiva Miller 
The #1 Worst Carb Ever?
Click to Learn #1 Carb that Kills Your Blood Sugar &#40;Don&#39;t Eat This!&#41;

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Message: 5
From: CMB
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 17:13:44 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Can you have milchigs and fleishigs in the same

This excellent recent article thoroughly answers this question.

With Shavuos rapidly approaching, it has become almost customary to
pontificate on the topic of the halachic prohibition of mixing meat and
milk and t

     *With Shavuos rapidly approaching, it has become almost customary to
pontificate on the topic of the halachic prohibition of mixing meat and
milk and the mandated waiting period between them. Many readers expressed
interest in the flip side side of that halacha. Is there a waiting period
required after eating dairy? If not, why do many wait a half hour? And,
more importantly, do I have to Bentch?*

For the answers to these questions and to gain an understanding of the
issues involved, read the full article: "Insights Into Halacha: To Bentch
or Not to Bentch (Between Milk and Meat)?... That is the

I welcome your questions or comments by email. For all of the Mareh Mekomos
/ sources, just ask.
"Insights Into Halacha<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1400775051
is a weekly series of contemporary Halacha articles for Ohr Somayach. If
you enjoyed the article, please share it with friends and family. To sign
up to receive weekly articles simply email me.
_kol tuv_and Good Shabbos,
Y. Spitz

*L'iluy Nishmas* the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R'
Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda, Rivka bas Zalman
Shevach, l'refuah sheleimah for Chaim Boruch Yehuda ben Hinda Sarah,
Yechiel ben Chana Baila, Yisrael Leib ben Ahuva Chaya, and Henna Rasha bas
Yitta Ratza and *l'zchus* for Yaacov Tzvi ben Rivka and Shira Yaffa bas
Rochel Miriam and her children for a *yeshua teikef u'miyad*!

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Message: 6
From: Chana Luntz
Date: Mon, 26 May 2014 23:00:34 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Women going to shul was women wearing Tefillin

RBW writes:

>I wrote in short hand and quite a few people misunderstood me, so it was 
>my bad.

>My basic point is that if a wife wants to go to shul, then it is 
>incumbent on the husband to try and find a way to make this happen. If 
>there is an early minyan, than he should go to it.  If there isn't, OK, 
>there isn't. But in that case, maybe organize one.  Or another common 
>situation: If husband goes to the faster minyan, he'll get his sleep and 
>still get home in time for his wife to catch Mussaf at the Chabad 
>minyan. He would like to daven in the slow minyan, where there is less 
>talking and a real drash. Is that mandatory?

>Her spiritual needs are also needs. Is it mandatory that she go to shul? 
>No, it is not mandatory that she go. But who says we do what is 
>mandatory only? For spiritual needs people make sacrifices. Kollel wives 
>work while their husbands.  Is it mandatory that they work? Not in the 
>least. But they do it, to help their partner in his quest.

I confess, to change track slightly, I suspect part of the problem is that
when it comes to women's shul going (or any shul going) we are often not
prepared to acknowledge the real issue.  Which is about social connection
versus social isolation.  Women at home with small children, and nobody to
talk to who whose conversation is above "da da" (or even where it is
marginally more sophisticated) often struggle with social isolation.  This
is particularly acute on shabbas in places where there is no eruv, but even
in eruved communities, shabbas can be worse in this regard than weekdays,
when there is more childcare and other assistance available (including mummy
and toddler  groups of different flavours, including music, yoga, art etc,
which have the terrific advantage of (a) distracting your child long enough
for you to at least get in a sentence or two of adult conversation between
demands and (b) provide readymade adult conversationalists in the form of
the other mothers, who are as desperate to bond as you are).  Shul is *the*
place on shabbas where one can find other Jewish adults - so it is a logical
magnet, but of course, that makes the Gra's critique as relevant as it
always was.

But I also think the Gra in this is somewhat cutting across Chazal.  Because
of course the same thing happens to men too, in spades.  My husband's late
uncle never married, and in later life he was in many ways very socially
isolated.  The saving grace, however, was shul.  And it was particularly
acute with him, because in a (Sephardi) minyan (ie that duchened every day)
and which was not over endowed with cohanim, his absence was so noticeable
that they Shatz had to change the nusach of his repetition when this uncle
was not there.  And whenever there was a layning, if he wasn't there, people
were generally called up "bimkom" him.  So he was desperately needed and
knew it, and this gave structure and meaning to the later years of his life.
Was he a deeply spiritual man? Does it matter?  Even if he himself had been,
there are hundreds and thousands of men who aren't and yet for whom shul
provides the structure and meaning of their lives.  Ah you say, shul going
is a mitzvah for men. But minyan is without question a rabbinic mitzvah -
and is it plausible that Chazal were oblivious to this extraordinary benefit
when they set up this system?  Is it even credible that this is some sort of
accidental side effect that nobody intended?  And then I see my husband day
after day block out his lunchtime diary so he can traipse 20 minutes each
way to the one lunchtime minyan near his work in the City, his one
opportunity to meet up with and bond with the other frum Jews that work
there.  Was the deepening communal and social ties enforced by the
requirements of this practice something that Chazal overlooked in their
setting up of a spiritual practice?  I confess I find this impossible to
believe.  Rather if anything it seems to me that they deliberately did the
opposite - they created a form of mandatory social bonding and harnessed it
towards the spiritual.  I struggle to believe that Chazal did not
understand, in setting up the parameters of minyan, that part of the
deliberate intent was to take men like my husband out of the non Jewish
environment in which they are perforce working and ensure that at least some
part of their day is spent in religious pursuits in the company of other
Jews.  Nor do I believe that they failed to understand that the mandating of
this community practice provided the social supports for many lonely people,
and so allowed for their emotional wellbeing in ways that are not
condescending and do not reek of charity.  And so, while I may be wrong, my
personal guess is the Chazal were very willing (and indeed anticipated) many
of these men coming along lo lishma, in hope of then getting to lishma, but
even if not, because of the other mitzvos that come in its wake of the
performance of this mitzvah.

What however I suspect that Chazal did not plan for (and why should they,
this is a 20th century invention) is that I too would be found all day
working in a completely non Jewish environment in the City.  I am not sure
there was ever a time in history when women could be found in any numbers
alone in non Jewish work environments (I suspect the very idea would horrify
most of our rabbaim throughout history), and could go from shabbas to
shabbas not even seeing a frum Jew (which I suspect I did numbers of times
when I was single with my own apartment and working in the City).  Shul on
shabbas was thus the time I got to see other Jews, not to mention other
eligible Jews (which is why it is no surprise that my husband and I met at
the kiddish of one of these singles shabbas minyanim).  And then moving on
to the next stage in a woman's life, my impression is that childrearing in
the preindustrial age was far more of a communal (by which I mean a woman's
communal) activity than it is today.  Older women's wisdom and childrearing
advice was often prized, but even without it, such women provided the
necessary respite and babysitting (and adult conversation) of that
community.  My sense is that modern day childrearing is a much lonelier
experience than it was in previous generations (or than it is in third world
countries), albeit it is a lot less lonely in Israel (because it is a lot
more communal) than it is in America or England.  And that the response of
people like RBW is actually an unconscious reaction to that - dressing
women's shabbas shul going up in the same garb that men's shul going is
dressed - the social need being validated by the spiritual.  Thus giving
rise to the kinds of practices that so irritated the Gra, but which can also
be found in their male form, the men who come every day or every week, but
seem to spend the whole time discussing the stock market or the football or
whatever.  And then the question becomes, do you get frustrated with that
level of behaviour or do you take the attitude, "well at least they come,
and they identify and they benefit from all the hidden benefits Chazal built
into the system?"  I suspect we are somewhat suspicious of real
spirituality, but spiritual practices that we intuitively understand are
actually about something else are paradoxically emotionally easier to





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