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Volume 34: Number 77

Fri, 08 Jul 2016

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2016 17:54:15 -0400
Re: [Avodah] meanings

R' Simon Montagu asked:

> Another example in Hallel: ze hayom `asa Hashem, nagila venismha
> bo (is "bo" hayom or Hashem? Most translations seem to go for
> "hayom", but "veyyismehu becha Yisrael" in the kedushat hayom
> of 18 for regalim fits with "bo" meaning Hashem)

Hirsch (Psalms 118:24) translates "vo" as "in Him", but Radak (same verse)
explains that it means "on this day". Neither explicitly rejects the other

However, the Midrash does explicitly ask if one is correct to the exclusion
of the other, and it answers clearly (and rather emphatically, in my
opinion): the correct translation is "in Him". This Medrash can be found in
the Torah Temimah on Shir Hashirim 1, #66 (which is in the back of the
Vayikra volume).

Akiva Miller
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Message: 2
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2016 16:22:32 +0000
[Avodah] Are genetically modified organisms (GMO?s) kosher?

The following is from the OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. Are genetically modified organisms (GMO?s) kosher? I have heard that
they can splice the genes from one type of plant into another. For example,
canola seeds can be modified with the genes from the California Bay tree.
Does this affect the kosher status of these foods?

A. The Torah (Vayikra 19:19) forbids mixing different species of plants
(kilayim). The Mishnayos in Tractate Kilayim list specific activities which
are included in the prohibition. Included in this list, is the prohibition
of grafting a branch from one species of plant onto another. On a
conceptual level, mixing genes from different species can be viewed as a
similar violation. However, Rav Belsky, zt?l ruled that GMO?s are kosher.
He explained that the prohibition of kilayim only refers to the specific
actions that the Torah or Chazal forbade. Other forms of mixing species
such as splicing genes are permitted. As another example, one is permitted
to plant a fruit tree of one species next to a tree from another species,
even though the trees will cross-pollinate. Although Ramban (Bereishis
1:11) explains the reason for the issur of kelayim is that by mixing
species one is contradicting the command that Hashem gave for every species
to be created ?l?mineiyhu? (to its own kind)
 , and one might conclude that it is forbidden to mix and create new
 species, nonetheless the actual prohibition is only violated if it is done
 in one of the ways specifically proscribed by Chazal. Furthermore, with
 the exception of klei ha?kerem (planting vegetables in a vineyard), even
 if plants are grown through a forbidden act of kilayim, the resulting
 fruit remain kosher.

Click on the link below to hear Rav Belsky, zt?l discuss the issue of GMO?s. The topic begins at minute 30 until minute 38.


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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2016 16:10:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Are genetically modified organisms (GMO's)

On Tue, Jul 05, 2016 at 04:22:32PM +0000, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: The following is from the OU Kosher Halacha Yomis
:... However, Rav Belsky, zt"l ruled that GMO's are kosher. He explained
: that the prohibition of kilayim only refers to the specific actions
: that the Torah or Chazal forbade. Other forms of mixing species such as
: splicing genes are permitted. As another example, one is permitted to
: plant a fruit tree of one species next to a tree from another species,
: even though the trees will cross-pollinate.

Does this position on GMOs therefore qualify as hora'ah, or is it zil q'ri
bei rav?

:                                             Although Ramban (Bereishis
: 1:11) explains the reason for the issur of kelayim is that by mixing
: species one is contradicting the command that Hashem gave for every
: species to be created "l'mineiyhu" (to its own kind), and one might
: conclude that it is forbidden to mix and create new species, nonetheless

Wouldn't making a pesaq based on this Ramban be invalid because ein
darshinan ta'amei hamiqra? IOW, is the "one" who "might conclude"
a poseiq?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The greatest discovery of all time is that
mi...@aishdas.org        a person can change their future
http://www.aishdas.org   by merely changing their attitude.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                   - Oprah Winfrey

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 10:16:23 -0400
[Avodah] Icy Korach

Did anyone see a meforash make a Qorach - qerach connection?
When the question hit me while taking off tefillin, the person across
from me asked if "qerach" was even Biblical Hebrew. With my infamous
spelling I shot back "asher qorkha baderekh" but that it with a khaf
(qar + -kha).

Hitting the BDB after the market opened, I see that after all the
references to baldness, there is indeed Bereishis 31:40, "veqerach
ballaylah" as the frost or cold of night in contrast to "chorev" -
the heat of the day.

There is also "qashlikh qarcho khefitim" (Tehilim 147:17), which is
actually about ice.

Also Iyov 6:16, 37:10, 38:29; and Yirmiyahu 36:30.

In particular, Iyov's usages are very similar in niqud, being
qamatz qatan, patach. In comparison to ben-Yitzhar's cholam patach.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I have great faith in optimism as a philosophy,
mi...@aishdas.org        if only because it offers us the opportunity of
http://www.aishdas.org   self-fulfilling prophecy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                              - Arthur C. Clarke

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 13:44:48 -0400
[Avodah] Torah in Joy and Fear

AhS YD 246:27 cites Shabbos 30b that we does not sit to learn with a mindset
of depression, laziness, silliness, qalus rosh, chattiness, or
devarm betailim, rather from simchah shel mitzvah. And it asks from Rav, who
says one should sit with eimah and yir'ah. And it answers ha berav, ha betalmid.

So I guess that "llmd" is not "lilmod" but "lelameid" -- "ha berav".

However, what about gilu bir'ada (Tehillim 2:11)? Why the assumption
that simchah shel mitzvah contradicts be'eimah beyir'ah?

RAEKaplan makes a stong argument that the very definition of yir'ah is
that awareness of the magnitude of what your doing which makes something
capable of generting simchah. See <http://www.aishdas.org/raek/yirah.pdf>.
From RAEK's article <http://www.aishdas.org/rygb/raek.htm>, a loose
translation (EMPHASIS added):

    Yir'ah is not anguish, not pain, not bitter anxiety. To what may
    yir'ah be likened? To the tremor of fear which a father feels when
    his beloved young son rides his shoulders as he dances with him and
    rejoices before him, taking care that he not fall off. Here there
    is joy that is incomparable, pleasure that is incomparable. And
    the fear tied up with them is pleasant too. It does not impede the
    freedom of dance... It passes through them like a spinal column
    that straightens and strengthens. And it envelops them like a
    modest frame that lends grace and pleasantness... It is clear
    to the father that his son is riding securely upon him and will
    not fall back, for he constantly remembers him, not for a moment
    does he forget him. His son's every movement, even the smallest,
    he feels, and he ensures that his son will not sway from his place,
    nor incline sideways - his heart is, therefore, sure, and he dances
    and rejoices. If a person is sure that the "bundle" of his life's
    meaning is safely held high by the shoulders of his awareness, he
    knows that this bundle will not fall backwards, he will not forget
    it for a moment, he will remember it constantly, with yir'ah he
    will safe keep it. If every moment he checks it - then his heart
    is confident, and he dances and rejoices...
    is the secret of "gil be're'ada" (joy in trembling) mentioned in
    Tehillim. Dance and judgment, song and law became partners with
    each other... Indeed, this is the balance... A [beriach hatichon]
    of noble yir'ah passes through the rings of joy... [It is] the inner
    rod embedded deep in an individual's soul that connects end to end,
    it links complete joy in this world (eating, drinking and gift giving)
    to that which is beyond this world (remembering the [inevitable]
    day of death) to graft one upon the other so to produce eternal fruit.

What would RAEK do with the gemara, which appears to say the do indeed
conflict? And even without invoking RAEK, what does the gemara do with the
pasuq, which shows that the two can coexist?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The same boiling water
mi...@aishdas.org        that softens the potato, hardens the egg.
http://www.aishdas.org   It's not about the circumstance,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but rather what you are made of.

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 16:39:39 -0400
[Avodah] Limits of Scientism

There is an interesting article in NewScientist.com about the limits
of the kind of questions science can answer.

    A rational nation ruled by science would be a terrible idea
    Jeffrey Guhin

    Imagine a future society in which everything is perfectly logical. What
    could go wrong?

    "Scientism" is the belief that all we need to solve the world's
    problems is - you guessed it - science. People sometimes use the phrase
    "rational thinking", but it amounts to the same thing. If only people
    would drop religion and all their other prejudices, we could use logic
    to fix everything.

    Last week, US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson offered up the perfect
    example of scientism when he proposed the country of Rationalia, in
    which "all policy shall be based on the weight of evidence".
    In fact, creationism has a lot more in common with scientism than
    people such as Tyson or Richard Dawkins would ever admit. Like Tyson,
    creationists begin with certain prior commitments ("evolution cannot be
    true", for example, substitutes for "science cannot be wrong") and
    build an impressively consistent argument upon them. Just about
    everyone is guilty of some form of [43]"motivated reasoning": we begin
    with certain priors, and then find a way to get the evidence to do what
    we want.

    Scientists can't tell us [44]if it's right to kill a baby with a
    developmental disability, despite how well they might marshal evidence
    about the baby's life prospects or her capacity to think or move on her
    own. There's no easy answer on how we ought to weigh those things up,
    just like there's no easy way to decide whether tradition is superior
    to efficiency or monogamy is better than lots of random sex.

    Scientism refuses to see this. The myopia of scientism, its naive
    utopianism and simplistic faith, bears an uncanny resemblance to the
    religious dogmatisms that people such as Tyson and Dawkins denounce.

I have mentioned something similar here in the past, in discussions of
brain vs heart death. Science can provide a lot of information about
the various medical states a body can be in. But it cannot answer the
question of which we are supposed to treat as alive weith all the moral
rights and duties that implies. It can help us apply a dfinition in a sane
way. But it cannot actually determine which dividing line is appropriate.

We might find it intuitive today to associate death with the loss of
the ability to ever again be conscious. Or with breain stem death. But
if "dead" refers to an emotional attachment for the soul to the body,
and mesorah tells us this happens at heart death, then the most medicine
can do is help us determine heart death. Again, if that is the correct
definition; I am not positing an answer, just showing that one possible
(and common) answer is inherently outside of science.

And so is the proper and moral way to run society.

Last night's Aspaqlaria blog post also touches on the similarity between
scientism and other fundamentalisms <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/g-d-gaps>.

    The pagans worshiped deities to drive out the fear of the unknown.
    Blaming lightning on Thor does give the person hopes to control
    lightning by appeasing its god. But logically prior to that, blaming
    it on Thor takes it out of the realm of the unknown. And so the pagan
    associates the gods with things they don't understand and can't get
    a handle on. And thus the pagan stops seeing his gods in things they
    can explain philosophically or scientifically. This is the "God of
    the Gaps" -- the god who lives only in the gaps in human knowledge.

    And this mentality apparently motivates much of our internal
    science-and-Torah debates. On one side, we have people who feel that
    if we don't accept every miraculous claim of every medrash in its
    maximal and most extreme sense, we reduce G-d. They see G-d in the
    gaps, and therefore are maximizing G-d by insisting on the greatest
    possible gaps. On the other side, we have people with a near deist
    conception of G-d, where only that which cannot be explained in
    natural terms are left as miracles. His Wisdom is seen as being
    within nature, and miracles a concession. But they too are obsessing
    on G-d in relation to the gaps.

    In contrast, our rishonim found the need for miracle to be
    problematic. Why would a perfect G-d be unable to design a universe
    that could run without His further intervention? This is part of why
    the Seforno mentions in his introduction to parashas Chuqas and the
    Rambam (on Avos 5:6) place the design of miracles within the week
    of creation. They may be unique events, but they are placed within
    the original design.

    Science is evidence of a single unique G-d who implemented the
    universe with Divine Wisdom and a specific design. A pagan's world
    of events happening on the whim of warring gods could never produce
    science. Even the Greeks who started Natural Philosophy, such as
    Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, rolling rejected their own gods
    as mythical or irrelevant, and discussed the world in terms of a
    single Creator.

    Belief in G-d is to explain questions of ought -- morality and ethics
    -- and of purpose. Religion only overlaps with science incidentally.

    With pride and confidence in science and technology, a real believer
    feels more in control by placing G-d within science.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You are where your thoughts are.
mi...@aishdas.org                - Ramban, Igeres haQodesh, Ch. 5
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 7
From: H Lampel
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 2016 10:41:35 -0400
[Avodah] Why Did the Torah Permit Slavery?

Beginning of the Holocaust (#172) by Rabbi Avigdor Miller

Q: Why Did the Torah Permit Slavery?

A: Now let?s understand that we?re living in a time when all the 
standards are measured by the fad of the day. Slavery is today 
considered as something to be abhorred, but you have to realize this 
wasn?t the case in ancient times among Jews.

First of all, among gentiles in ancient times, what should a person do 
who had no livelihood? He had no land. Land was passed on from father to 
son. Suppose you had no land, you had no family, you were a stranger, 
what should you do? You would die of starvation. So Eliezer eved 
(servant of) Avraham who wanted to become a loyal disciple of his great 
teacher, what did he do? He gladly became an eved (slave).

In those days to become a slave meant you joined the family in a certain 
status. Hagar gladly became a shifcha (slave-girl) to Sarah; it meant 
joining the family. She was a member of the family. In those ancient 
days, in cases where the woman, the ba?alas habayis (mistress of the 
house) was childless, she gave her handmaiden to her husband and he had 
children from her. That?s how it used to be way back before the Torah 
was given. Slavery had a different face in the ancient days.
?Among Jews slavery meant that a person became a member of the family. 
First of all a slave had to be circumcised. He had to go for tevilah 
(ritual immersion) and become a Jew in a certain sense. All slaves had 
to keep the Torah. A slave couldn?t be beaten, because he could have 
recourse to the dayanim (judges). And if a person was careless ? even 
when he had to chastise a slave, even if he was hitting him for a reason 
? if he knocked out a tooth, or some other one of the twenty-four chief 
limbs, then the slave could march out a free man. If he killed a slave, 
the owner was put to death. Among Jews, slavery was an institution like 
the family.

You can judge [the Torah?s slavery] from the following. Suppose a Jew 
bought a slave who refused to circumcise, so the Jew could say to him, 
I?ll sell you back to the gentiles. That was considered a threat. And in 
almost every case the slave was willing to circumcise. Slavery was an 
institution that fit into the social structure of Jewish life and the 
Jewish slave, even the eved Canaani (Caananite slave), to some extent, 
lived a privileged life and he was protected by the Torah. Therefore 
there is no question that slavery should have been sanctioned, as it 
was, by the Torah.


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