Avodah Mailing List

Volume 34: Number 19

Thu, 18 Feb 2016

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 09:05:03 -0500
[Avodah] The Jewish Press: Oldest Torah Scroll Proves

See http://tinyurl.com/zcmq6s5

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Message: 2
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 14:37:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Jewish Press: Oldest Torah Scroll Proves

It isn't a "Chabad" version.  There's nothing Chabad about it.  It's
simply the Ashkenazi tradition.   Hei is the Sefardi tradition.  The
Alter Rebbe had nothing to do  with it, except to follow it because
it *was* the Ashkenazi tradition.  I suppose he was asked because
chassidim were changing many minhagim to conform to Sefardi practise,
so a sofer may have thought to change this one as well, and the AR
told him not to.

In any case, this doesn't even indicate, let alone "prove", which version
right.  It just show that this *is* the Ashkenazi tradition, which we
already knew.  That doesn't mean it's better than the Sefardi tradition;
although we may not have Sefardi sifrei torah from that period, we know
that they were written with a hei.

Zev Sero               All around myself I will wave the green willow
z...@sero.name          The myrtle and the palm and the citron for a week
                And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm doing that
                I'll say "It's a Jewish thing; if you have a few minutes
                I'll explain it to you".

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2016 13:29:12 -0500
Re: [Avodah] inter-eidah psak

On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 07:37:30PM -0800, saul newman via Avodah wrote:
: http://seforim.blogspot.com/2016/02/some-unusually-liberal-st
: atements-by.html
: with attention to the latter segment of this article by dr shapiro. there
: is an ongoing discussion between rabbi gordimer  and him as to whether
: there are different types of psak in different eidot.
: it seems that somewhere in the last 50 yr the acceptability to pasken by a
: gadol in the 'other' camp has fallen by the wayside...

Personally, I think these are two different topics. With the rise of
daas Torah, and the blurring of the line between halakhah and hashkafah,
it became harder to be a cross-eidah poseiq. RMF or RSZA were capable of
saying "given what you believe about the signficance of haqamas haMedinah,
X is" -- or isn't -- "mutar on Yom haAtzma'ut". In a manner that the MO or
DL sho'el feels confident the answer isn't colored by bias against the
whole concept. And today, a great poseiq whose daas Torah runs against
YhA cannot touch the consequences of assuming otherwise.

That said, RHS disagrees with my assumption that my personal rosy
nostalgic memories of the gedolim of my youth is a good thing. He holds
(based on Sanhedrin 5a-b) that pesaq requires knowing something about
all of halakhah, as well as the more obvious need to have expertise in
the area in question. But all of halakhah is connected, so one can't
pasqen without knowing the big picture.

And along the same lines, RHS feels that a person should be going to a
poseiq who shares the same hashkafah. It's all one piece; a change in
attitude on one topic could be connected to something that would seem
to be an entirely different topic.

I see I wrote about this before, with links to YUTorah etc..., at

In any case, what I am describing wouldn't be an issue of different
types of pesaq as much as pesaq with different sets of non-halachic
givens. Whether it's because the metzius differs in two communities or
because of differences in hashkafah.

Which is what R Ysoscher Katz assured me he meant by "Modern
Orthodox psak", and not how RAGordimer took him. That said, my own
assessment of pesaq in Open O circles, including his own words in
<http://j.mp/1onj24a>, worries me. But to my mind that doesn't revolve
around whether "there are different types of psak in different eidot"
as much as what kinds of innovation, or IOW how much neglect of
precedent in both text and mimeticism, is pesaq at all.

Similarly, I find the trend to blur the line between pesaq and other
rabbinic guidance also worrisome.

I'm a Litvak, perhaps that means I'm predisposed to worry.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Despair is the worst of ailments. No worries
mi...@aishdas.org        are justified except: "Why am I so worried?"
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2016 16:50:20 -0500
[Avodah] Legal Theory and Halakhah

I wrote on Areivim something about Justice Scalia and how the media and
Senate discuss the approaches of various Supreme Court candidates. In
his case, the way they pay more attention to his personal politics than
to the fact that procedurally Scalia was a textualist and originalist.

I wrote that part of the reason why this bugged me so much was that it:
:> Stinks of historical school, and claims that the rabbis were
:> socilogically driven and just played the legal game

So it feeds on pre-existing and more deeply held annoyances.

On Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 10:32:43PM +0200, Eli Turkel replied there:
: Just read an article in the last hakirah by Alan Jotkowitz on the Tzitz
: Eliezer. He also admits that no posek is exclusive however he claims that
: there are methodolies. Some like Rav Elyashiv are very formalistic. They
: follow what they see as the psak irrespective of the consequences. He
: claims that Rabin Haim David Halevi and Rav Uziel took vert seriously
: meta-halkhic values in their decision making. Other claim that RSZA also
: took into account the consequences of his decisions. He feels that R
: Waldenberg fits into neither category.

This is kind of like the spectrum between textualists, originalists,
pragmaticists, intentionalist, narutal law theorists, and any other
schools of US Consisutional Law that I never stumbled on.

Which is different than assuming any of the acharonim named were ends
driven. (Aside from particular rare mitzvos where chazal tell us to:
eruv, aveilus, agunah derabbanan, and any cases I am unaware of. I have
asked for help compiling a list in the long past, but it didn't

Yes, the range of possible valid answers may depend on methodology, or
more accurately, tendency to use given methodology, and so a poseiq who
tends toward method X may end up being meiqil more often than poseiq
Y. And a poseiq who has many valid answers but a baal nefesh yachmir
approach to resolving them may end up being more machmir. But it's not
about qulah or chumerah shaopping, it's about opinions as to how the
law works.

I would even make that a "no true Scottsman" issue and question whether
a rabbi who does hunt for a result is a "true poseiq".

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Education is not the filling of a bucket,
mi...@aishdas.org        but the lighting of a fire.
http://www.aishdas.org                - W.B. Yeats
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 5
From: Jay F. Shachter
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2016 10:15:02 -0600 (CST)
[Avodah] What Do French Jews Do On Shabbath?

I've had this question for a year and a half, ever since I stopped
staying in hotel rooms and started staying in rented apartments when I
go to Paris, to save money.

Some background, for readers of this mailing list who have never lived
in an apartment building in France: A door on the street opens onto a
carmelith.  This street-facing door can be opened from the outside
only electronically, by typing a code on a keypad, or with a proximity
sensor in the newer residences.  The street-facing door can be opened
from the inside mechanically, usually.  Once inside the carmelith, the
door to the residential building or buildings can be opened from the
outside mechanically with a key (and in the newer buildings can also
be opened with a proximity sensor).  From the inside, the building
door can usually be opened mechanically, although in some of the newer
buildings there is no way to open the building door mechanically from
the inside, you have to press a button to open the door electronically
if you want to leave your building.  The same applies in some of the
newer buildings if you want to leave the carmelith and go into the
street, in some of the newer buildings you cannot push open or unlatch
the door, you have to press a button to open the door electronically.
The indoor lights, both in the carmelith and inside the residential
building, cannot be left on; the indoor lights turn off automatically
a couple minutes after being turned on, an energy-saving measure that
was imposed during World War 2 and never repealed.  In some cases
there is a motion detector in the carmelith (rarely inside the
residential buildings in my experience) that turns on the lights.

So, what the devil do French Jews do on Shabbath?  You cannot carry
your key in the street, not that it would help getting into your
carmelith anyway, you cannot carry your key in the carmelith either,
and you can't operate electronic devices.  There is also no way you
can avoid paskening that the motion detector is a psiq reisha dnixa
leh, unless you pasqn like Sholomo Zalman Auerbach and the
Conservative movement that it's okay to use electricity on Shabbath,
but incandescent lights are esh no matter how you turn them on,
fluorescent lights may be another matter.  Do they just never leave
their homes entirely, but they always leave one person at home at all
times to walk downstairs and open all the doors that need to be opened
at a pre-arranged time when the family is expected home?  (You'd have
to avoid the newer buildings also, the ones where the doors cannot be
opened mechanically from the inside.)

Now, some of you are going to answer this question by saying that I
should go and ask it of the mara d'athra of where I am currently
staying (which is Asni?res-sur-Seine, for the curious, an inner suburb
of Paris).  Well, that is in a sense what I am doing, by addressing my
question to this mailing list, where I hope it will be read by some
French Jews, or by someone who will contact some French Jews.  As for
my trying to locate the mara d'athra from where I am, I would if I
could.  You used to be able to find your local synagog on the World
Wide Web by using godaven.com or by using a search engine, but not
anymore, as far as anyone can tell nowadays, there are no synagogs in
France.  In the European Union you have a right to remove your
information from the World Wide Web, and French Jews are apparently
cowards who believe that their safety lies not in defending themselves
but in hiding from the world.  (Did you note what the leader of the
Jewish community of Marseilles advised a few weeks ago?  But I
digress.)  I can't even find an e-mail address of the Beth Din de
Paris -- who would presumably then be able to direct me to the mara
d'athra of my local community -- even though as far as I know you
cannot blow up a building thru e-mail, but apparently if you are a
French Jew there is no danger, no matter how unlikely, that does not
merit being scared of.

Up until now I have just stayed in my rented apartment for 25 hours
every week, but that is no longer possible.  I have been invited for
Friday night dinner by a person whose kashruth I trust -- because
that's how the Sfaradim roll, if they were taught how to keep a kosher
kitchen when they were growing up you can trust their kashruth for
life (and there's no question about my hostess's upbringing, she grew
up in Algeria, daughter of a Rabbi, one of her father's sons was Chief
Rabbi of Amiens, I'm not worried that she doesn't know how to keep a
kosher kitchen) -- but she doesn't know who is the current mara
d'athra of her town (not any more, the old one used to be her second
cousin) and doesn't much care, because that's also how the Sfaradim
roll, if you were a girl they didn't even teach you how to read
Hebrew, even if you are the daughter of a Rabbi.  (The Ashkenazim were
only a little better in that regard prior to the 20th century, but
there was always at least one women in each synagog who knew the
prayers and would read them for the others, but again I digress.)  For
reasons that do not have to be detailed in this posting, I have to
accept this invitation.  I have a little over two days to figure out
how.  My hostess is not going to let me come over before sunset and
then just not leave her apartment for 25 hours, with the door open,
she does have a 20-year-old daughter living with her, which doesn't
help none with the laws of yixud, but in any event it is hors de
question.  So far I have thought of renting a hotel room for two
nights somewhere within walking distance (which is bloody annoying
after I went to the expense of renting an apartment), if I can find a
hotel with an unlocked non-electronic front door, where I can walk up
the stairs to my room, without motion detectors in the stairwells, and
then unlock my door with the mechanical key that I have hidden
somewhere (I've tried leaving hotel doors open, too often there is
some helpful person from the staff who locks it for you, thank you
very much, even telling the front desk that you are going to leave
your door open and you don't want anyone closing often doesn't help,
because they are too incompetent to get the word out to everyone).
Even if a hotel that meets all of those numerous requirements exists
in Asni?res-sur-Seine within walking distance and can be found -- and
there's no certainty at this point that that is true -- it does not
totally help, because my hostess's carmelith has a motion detector
that will come on when I leave the building Friday night, and there's
no way you can say that that is not a psiq reisha dnixa leh.  Not to
mention the utter bogosity of having to rent a hotel room for two
nights every week on the other side of town, I cannot believe that
that is what the French Jews do.  If you want to tell some French Jews
to respond directly to me, I speak French, that's not a problem, and
my electronic address appears below.  Thank you in advance for any and
all replies.

                Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
                6424 N Whipple St
                Chicago IL  60645-4111
                        +1 773 7613784   ligne fixe
                        +1 410 9964737   GoogleVoice

                ? le parapluie de la tante du jardinier est ? la maison ?

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Message: 6
From: Ben Waxman
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2016 20:30:10 +0200
Re: [Avodah] What Do French Jews Do On Shabbath?

I can't answer all of your questions but I can throw out one possibility 
for one issue, the motion detectors. Rav Rabinovitch has ruled that the 
basic issue with these devices are "ovdah d'chol".  The source below 
gives his reasoning. People who learned in Maale Adumim have told me 
that he is very clear about this psak.  Therefore, RR concludes that any 
device set off when someone passes by these devices is not a problem.


On 2/17/2016 6:15 PM, Jay F. Shachter via Avodah wrote:
> There is also no way you
> can avoid paskening that the motion detector is a psiq reisha dnixa
> leh, unless you pasqn like Sholomo Zalman Auerbach and the
> Conservative movement that it's okay to use electricity on Shabbath,
> but incandescent lights are esh no matter how you turn them on,
> fluorescent lights may be another matter.


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