Avodah Mailing List

Volume 33: Number 130

Thu, 08 Oct 2015

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:39:28 -0400
[Avodah] Cancel Simchas Torah!

Date: Sat, 3 Oct 2015 23:59:19 -0400
Subject: [RCA Forum]: Fwd: fyi - Cancel Simchas Torah!
I like the sentiment. Not sure about the actual 
suggestion. Any thoughts on doing something, or 
not,to acknowledge the current situation?
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Rafael Medoff" <<mailto:rafaelmed...@aol.com>rafaelmed...@aol.com>
Date: Oct 3, 2015 10:28 PM
Subject: fyi - Cancel Simchas Torah!
To: <mailto:rafaelmed...@aol.com>rafaelmed...@aol.com


by Rafael Medoff

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is the founding director of 
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust 
Studies, and winner of a 2015 Rockower Award from 
the American Jewish Press Association for Excellence in Jewish Journalism.)
One of the most poignant anecdotes I have 
encountered in thirty-plus years of Holocaust 
research came out of an interview I conducted 
many years ago with the daughter of a Brooklyn rabbi.

She told me of a remarkable rule that her father, 
Rabbi Baruch David Weitzmann, imposed on his 
Brownsville congregation in 1942, after the first 
reports about the ongoing mass murder of Europe's Jews were confirmed.

"He wanted us to feel the tsa'ar of the Jews who 
were being killed in Europe," the rabbi's 
daughter recalled. "So if somebody wanted to get 
married--and there were a lot of these 
situations, involving boys who were about to go 
into the army--they came to our house, there was 
a little chuppah, some cake and soda, nothing 
more. No celebrations, no dancing, just the 
chuppah. He explained to us that you cannot 
celebrate at a time when other Jews are dying."

Consider, for a moment, how drastically this 
deviated from normative Jewish practice. The 
mitzvah of making a bride and groom happy at 
their wedding is considered so important that it 
is one of the few commandments which supersede 
the obligation to study Torah. Normally stoic 
rabbis set aside their books to take part in wild 
dancing and assorted ribaldry to entertain the newlyweds.

The Talmud (Tractate Brachot 6-b) declares that 
one who gladdens the hearts of the bride and 
groom at their wedding "merits to acquire the 
knowledge of the Torah." One Talmudic sage 
compares making newlyweds happy at their wedding 
to bringing a sacrifice in the Temple in ancient 
Jerusalem; another says it is the equivalent of 
rebuilding some of the ruins of Jerusalem.

This is the mitzvah that Rabbi Weitzmann in 
effect temporarily suspended in 1942, in order to 
raise Jewish awareness of the mass murder in 
Europe and, hopefully, galvanize his congregants 
to action. The importance of feeling another 
Jew's pain, he decided, took precedence over the 
obligation to celebrate at a wedding. There is a 
time for singing and dancing, but there is also a 
time for mourning--and mourning sometimes must 
extend beyond one's immediate family.

The very existence of the American Jewish 
community, after all, is based on the premise 
that Jews should care about, connect with, and 
assist each other. We are not merely a haphazard 
mass of individuals who happen to practice 
similar religious rituals in our private lives. 
We join together--in prayer, in celebration, and 
in other activities of communal partnership. The 
classic United Jewish Appeal slogan, "We are 
one!," resonated deeply precisely because it 
spoke to the essence of Jewish peoplehood.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, in his seminal book "Were 
We Our Brothers' Keepers?," confronted the 
painful fact that most American Jews in the 1940s 
failed to adopt an appropriate sense of urgency 
with regard to the plight of Europe's Jews. "One 
looks in vain," he writes, "for a sign that 
American Jews altered some aspect of their 
lifestyle to indicate their awareness of the 
plight of their European brothers [and] keep the 
matter at the forefront of their consciousness 
and to generate feelings of sympathy and 
solidarity?.The Final Solution may have been 
unstoppable by American Jewry, but it should have 
been unbearable for them. And it wasn't. This is 
important, not alone for our understanding of the 
past, but for our sense of responsibility in the future."

One wonders how Rabbi Baruch David Weitzmann 
would have responded to this week's brutal 
murders by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel. 
Two rabbis stabbed and shot to death in the 
streets of Jerusalem. A young couple gunned down 
in front of their four children. The latter 
attack hit particularly close to home for 
American Jews, as one of the victims, Rabbi Eitam 
Henkin, was the son of the renowned educator 
Rabbanit Chana Henkin, who has touched our lives 
through her writings, lectures, and her Nishmat 
school, where so many young women from our community have studied.

If he were alive today, maybe Rabbi Weitzmann 
would cancel the singing and dancing of this 
year's Simchas Torah holiday. Maybe he would say 
this is a time to feel the tsa'ar of the Jews in 
Israel, not a time for celebrating.

But today's Jewish community may not be ready for 
such a dramatic step. Perhaps something more 
modest would be in order. There are seven 
extended dances in the synagogue during the 
Simchas Torah celebrations. Why not cancel the 
seventh one? --and, of course, explain the reason for the cancelation.

Still too drastic? How about just shortening the 
last dance--and pausing to speak about the 
Henkins, about their orphaned children, and about 
what practical steps American Jews can take, in 
the realm of political action, to respond to the 
murders. Is that too much to ask of American Jewry today?

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2015 15:05:32 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shaving with a Skarp - permitted?

(Refer to the original post for more information about how this shaving
device works.) The first and most obvious comparison would be to a
lift-and-cut electric shaver, which many forbid because it cuts the hair
too close. However, I was taught that the issur of hashchasa refers not to
the destruction of the beard, but to destruction of the skin, and since ALL
electric shavers have some sort of screen or guard between the skin and the
cutting mechanism, they are all mutar to use. According to this view, I
would imagine that the critical question is how well this device can
distinguish between hair cells and skin cells. (I imagine that the
designers have already solved this, or else everyone would consider it

Akiva Miller
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2015 23:58:50 -0400
[Avodah] Happy Isru Chag

I was just wondering if anyone agrees with my analogy
that Isru Chag is like Melave Malka.

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2015 07:54:05 -0400
[Avodah] When to say Hallel?

As far as I know, whenever Hallel is said, it is said immediately after the
Shmoneh Esreh of Shacharis.This applies to both the full Hallel and the
"half Hallel", for all occasions, in all minhagim, and the only exception
(by obvious necessity) is the Seder night.

My question is why we don't seem to take the rule of "Tadir v'she'eino
tadir, tadir kodem" - when choosing between two mitzvos, all else being
equal, we do the more frequent one first. According to this rule, we ought
to say Hallel after Krias Hatorah on Chanuka (and Yom Haatzma'ut and Yom
Yerushalayim), and after Musaf on all other days. After all, we read the
Torah 3 mornings per week, plus holidays, which is close to 200 times per
year even if we omit Shabbos mincha. And Musaf - let's see... somewhere
around 52 Shabbosim, 18 Rosh Chodesh, and a bunch of other holidays. By
comparison, even in Chu"l Hallel is said only about 45 (8 Pesach, 2
Shavuos, 9 Sukkos, 8 Chanukah, approx 18 R"C) times.

The only explanation I can think of is to count each Musaf as distinct,
because it has a distinctive Korban and text, and also counting each Krias
Hatorah as distinct because it has a distinct text. If we do that, then
Hallel will be far more frequent, even if we count the full Hallel and
"half Hallel" separately (because they too have distinct texts). Is this
the reason, or is there something else that I missed?

Akiva Miller
(AkivaGMiller gmail)
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:35:13 +0300
[Avodah] esrogim from Israel

First I am curious if anyone know if most of the esrogim sold in the US
this year were from Israel or from Morrocco/California or other places.

Enclosed are directions from R Kelelmer of West Hempstead on how to treat
esrogim of shemitta

The following are guidelines concerning the use of Esrogim after the
conclusion of Yom Tov as they relate to Shemittah (the 7th year in Israel)

   1. Any esrog picked in Chutz- L?aretz (outside Israel) one may use for
   any constructive purpose (e.g. cooking / crafts). Otherwise one can discard
   the Esrog. However the minhag is to wrap it in plastic before discarding.
   This also includes leftover parts of the Esrog. These Esrogim do not carry
   any prohibitions relating to Shemittah.

   1. Esrogim picked ? or which have become ripe during the 7th year in
   Israel, carry a special set of Halachos highlighting their sanctity. One of
   the Halachos is the prohibition to initially export Esrogim from Israel to
   Chutz L?aretz. One of the exemptions to this prohibition is the concept of
   ?Otzar Bais Din? (treasury of a Rabbinic court) which hires farmers to
   harvest produce with great latitude ? allowing them to perform work in the
   orchards/ fields which would not normally be allowed to the individual
   farmers. These Esrogim may be exported. Indeed you may have notice on your
   esrog box a seal of a particular Bais ? din with the words: ?Otzar Bais
   Din?. These Esrogim according to most Poskim allow the marketing of Esrogim
   in Chutz L?aretz, and the charge for the Esrog is for the payment of the
   farmers whom the Bais ? din hires. If your esrog box does not carry such a
   seal please contact Rabbi Kelemer or Rabbi Goller.

   1. Esrogim from Israel carry kedusha even if purchased through ?Otzar
   Bais Din? and are treated as sacred fruit.  As mentioned they can be used
   for normative purposes- however any leftover parts must be placed in a
   container (preferably with a note saying ?Sheviis produce?. (A sheviis bag/
   box designated to eventually be discarded.) One waits until these parts are
   no longer edible (or otherwise no longer usable for any purpose) and then
   discarded with the container sealed. Additionally, the cooking and
   consumption of these Esrogim must take place before Rosh Chodesh Shevat.

   1. Unfortunately, there is much confusion as to the caliber of present
   ?Otzar Botei Dinim? and their detailed observance of the Halacha. In our
   community the Esrogim with the seal of the Bais Din of the Chassidic sect
   of Belz have been marketed and are highly reliable.

   1. Finally, you may have heard ? or previously followed the practice ?
   of returning the Esrog to Israel. This is indeed an intelligent chumra
   which a minority of Poskim require. If you chose to do so you may leave
   your esrog in a box in the office lobby designated: For Israeli Esrogim.?

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:36:46 +0300
[Avodah] Fwd: demons

from the sefer of Shnerb (keren zavit) on parshat ha-azinu

He brings that according to most commentators the Amorain of Bavel neleived
in "sheidim" (see eg baba Batra 73a, meilah 17, SA OC 179:109). Rambam
never explicitly denied demons but rather whereever they appear in halacha
would bring a different rationale. His son R Avraham was more explicit.

In the late 1800s there were 3 hospitals in EY (Rotschild, Bikur Cholim and
Misav Ledach) (actually in modern terms they were more clinics) For those
that couldn't afford to pay there were women who would take care of the
demons, one of the rabbis from Syria (R Mnesahe Sathom) declared this was
AZ. in a sefer of 127 pages. Much deals with the opinion of the Riaz who
seems to allow it. Even the Abarbanel opposed the Rambam based on parshat

Shut Maharam Lublin 116 discusses the case of a woman who had an affair.
The woman clains the partner was not human but a demon. Maharam not only is
"matir" the woman but claims that this type of affair is allowed! see aslo
Chida (Chaim Sheal 1:53) and Bet Shmuel (EH 6:17) agree.

The amazing story occurred about 100 years ago in Chotcha in Slovakia
(Ausrian-Hungary empire) A woman gave birth though it was obvious that he
husband was not the father (eg he was away over 1 year) allowed the woman
to remain with her husband and said the child was not a mamzer based on the
teshuva of the Maharam of Lublin!  There were debates about this psak and
in 1939 R Miller (shut chaye Asher 123) discusses a case of a shidduch with
the Chotcha family which many refused to marry descendants of the family. R
Miller allows the shidduch to be cancelled without a fine and says that the
descendants of this family are known to be trouble-makers.

According to the yiddish wikipedia this family is one of the prominent
families in the Satmar community in Williamsburg!!!
For Shnerb's cute remark on this case see his book

Eli Turkel

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 12:36:28 -0400
Re: [Avodah] 13 Middos

On Sun, Sep 06, 2015 at 08:56:08PM -0400, Micha Berger wrote:
: Hashem doesn't ask us to say the pesuqim, He asks us to do them.

Rabbi Zev Leff discussed this in his Shabbos Shuvah derashah. (Which
BH ran 2-1/2 hours long, just 2 weeks after the whole family converged
at his bedside expecting the worst!) I was in Moshav Matityahu and had
the opportunity to attend; but thanks to being away in Israel in an
apartment without reliable wifi, I didn't get to writing this email
until back home and much of the detail forgotten.

Of that, about an hour was on this very topic. Although most of his shiur
was on the "emulation" model I took for granted, as that was the position
of most of the acharonim he cited.

He does also discuss the position of the Benei Yisaschar, that Hashem made
a promise about the words themselves. Unfortunately, RZL didn't discuss
rishonim, so he had no call to mention Rashi. But among the acharonim
he named, the BY was alone in this. Still, RZL gave an explanation to
both shitos.

He understands the Benei Yisaschar in a manner that isn't all that far
from RMYG's post <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol33/v33n121.shtml#13>.
RZL tied it to HQBH's greater beris to BY, rather than Oheiv amo Yisrael,
but still about our invoking the beris rather than earning the outcome
through emultion. But by making it about the beris, RZL can consider
it an "obligation" on HQBH that can override justice in deciding how to
treat us.

To add his point that motivated my writing this post:

When someone's animal is "roveitz tachas masa'o" there is a lav against
ignoring it and not helping the person (even sona'akha) unburdent the
animal (Shemos 23:5). The gemara (BM 33a) comments, though, "'roveitz'
-- velo ravtzan." This is only if the animal happens to be crouching
under this particular load; not if the animal is a croucher by nature,
and would do so under normal loads.

RZL explains "whomever says Hashem is a Vatran" will be punished for
it because that says that "leis din veleis Dayan". But that doesn't
rule out a Dayan who sometimes is mevateir in favor of delaying justice
until after meeting other goals.

(I since saw that the Rizhiner Rebbe said something similar about the
grammar of the siddur's "ki Atah Salchan leYisrael". HQBH doesn't merely
occationally solei'ach...)

This is the central point of Zikhronos and the role of mentioning on RH
the concept of Hashem "remembering" berisim.

RZL also addressed the evidentiary problem -- the fact that many
tzadiqim have said the 13 Middos shortly before tragedy struck them.
Promising that the prayer will not return empty doesn't mean that it
will return with what we asked for.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
mi...@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

Go to top.

Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 18:19:45 +0300
[Avodah] teshuva

In the latest shiur of Rav Zilberstein we had a controversy.

Rav Zilberstein brought a story from Ben Ish Chai (in brief): A poor man
went a robbed the house of a rich widow. A short time later he regretted
his actions after learning that ones income is pre-determined. He then
returned the stolen items before the widow realized anything was gone.

A short time later the widow came to the Ben Ish Chai and requested that he
suggest a shidduch. Ben Ish Chai suggested this man (thief) and in fact
they got married and lived haooily married without the wife ever knowing
the story.

R Zilberstein was unhappy how the Ben Ish Chai could suggest this marriage
and felt that in fact it was a "mekach taut" since if the widow ever found
out about the robbery she would immediately demand a divorce.

Most of the doctors in the audience disagreed and felt that since the man
returned the money he was on the high level of ball teshuva. R
Zilberstein's response was that may be true between man and G-d but he
wouldn't want his daughter to marry such a man. I brought up the story of
Resh Lakish and R Yochanan and his response was that Chazal had ruach
hakodesh to understand the potential of Resh Lakish.

R Zilberstein quoted the Steipler who claimed that if a person has a
blemish (mum) that would prevent a marriage but would be overlooked once
the marriage was successful then one did not reveal this before the
marriage and it certainly is not a "mekach taut".  However, R Zilberstein
felt that robbery was such a serious crime that it would not be overlooked
after the marriage and returning the items was not sufficient.

The discussion ended in a stalemate with most doctors and R Zilberstein
sticking to their opposing sides. However, R Zilberstein did admit that
since Ben Ish Chai did it he (R Zilberstein) cannot oppose it even though
he doesn't understand it.

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 14:34:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] LXX

Only 2 of the 15 loose translation listed in Megillah 9a-b are in the LXX.

But there is another alternative to saying the gemara was ahistorical --
the extant LXX isn't the Targum Shiv'im (72, really) but an Early Xian
adaptation of it or some other translation. Thus the use of parthenos
(virgin) for alma in Yeshaiah 7:14 and some other christological

Then the Xian test was accidentally renamed when confused with the
famous translation. Or, intentionally passed off a the Targum Shiv'im,
so as to give artificial authority to those partisan adaptations.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
mi...@aishdas.org        greater vanity in others; it makes us vain,
http://www.aishdas.org   in fact, of our modesty.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              -Louis Kronenberger, writer (1904-1980)

Go to top.

Message: 10
From: saul newman
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 08:27:35 -0700
[Avodah] LXX

looking at this text [<http://j.mp/1MhGfgL>]
lxx/read-the-bible-text/ ,
according to chazal, wasn't the first word they gave ptolemy [theos]
? did the Greeks rewrite what the zkeinim gave them ; or is that medrash
not literal?

Go to top.

Message: 11
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 16:48:55 +0000
Re: [Avodah] teshuva

R Zilberstein was unhappy how the Ben Ish Chai could suggest this marriage
and felt that in fact it was a "mekach taut" since if the widow ever found
out about the robbery she would immediately demand a divorce.

Most of the doctors in the audience disagreed and felt that since the man
returned the money he was on the high level of ball teshuva. R
Zilberstein's response was that may be true between man and G-d but he
wouldn't want his daughter to marry such a man. I brought up the story of
Resh Lakish and R Yochanan and his response was that Chazal had ruach
hakodesh to understand the potential of Resh Lakish.

Perhaps I might suggest it depends on the nature of the ?tshuva?. IIRC R?
YBS  (based on the Rambam in hilchot tshuva) differentiated between tshuva
for a specific item (which could be based on practical considerations as
well) versus a tshuva personality change (much as a dieter based on
tactical considerations often achieves results but then does not maintain
that result long term but one who changes his eating habits can maintain
the new normal).  In this case, if it was the first type, the person is
still a ganav personality, in the second he is a new man.
Joel Rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
strictly prohibited.  If you received this message in error, please notify us 
immediately by replying: "Received in error" and delete the message.  
Thank you.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list



Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >