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Volume 34: Number 162

Thu, 22 Dec 2016

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:35:07 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Geonim, Rambam and Other Rishonim on Mesorah and

The sources to RZL's most recent post are available at
including part of Derashos haRan #5 and Yevamos 62b.

On Sun, Dec 18, 2016 at 08:53:49PM -0500, H Lampel via Avodah wrote:
: RMB (Avodah Digest, Vol 34, Issue 157) maintains that the Ran broke
: with the Rambam and Geonim by asserting that Hashem and Moshe
: literally transmitted, as truth, both sides of future disputes,
: despite their being contradictory and incompatible...

Not at all.

I am again going to back away from the sources and draw the big picture,
since the feedback I'm getting from RZL's posts is that my position is
not coming across.

I am saying that according to all rishonim, Hashem gave Moshe most of
the peratim of halakhah by giving him a system from which they could
be derived (*). This is how the story of MRAH visiting R' Aqiva's shiur is
most popularly explained in contemporary sources. Moshe didn't know the
conclusions, but they were given to Moshe implicitly.

As RZL put it:
: This is similar to what R. Avahu tells us in Sh'mos Rabbah (41:6):
: And did Moses actually learn the entire Torah?! It (Iyov 11:9) says
: that '[the Torah] is vaster than the Earth ... and wider than the
: Sea.' And in forty days Moses learned it all?! No. It was the
: overall principles that G-d taught Moshe."

Also, the rishonim realized that in practice we regularly do reach
conflicting conclusions using the rules of derashah and sevarah.

According to the vast majority of Rishonim, this is understood by taking
the gemara (found in both shasin) literally -- Hashem intentionally gave
us 49 means of proving each side of the din. He also gave us a rule for
deciding which to follow. But it's not that one is wrong and one is right,
because MRAH (for example) would be incapable of counting the heads when
they voted on one of the dinim he heard R' Aqiva present. The answer, like
the head count, is contextual -- which is better for us as our history,
culture and avodas Hashem evolve. (Or, as the Maharal put it, which of
the elements that go into the din come to the fore in our situation.)

This is also what one would conclude reading "eilu va'eilu divrei E-lokim
chaim" literally.

According to the Rambam, and Maimonidians like Chakhmei Provence
(mentioned by the Shlah; possibly also according to the Chinukh,
but he could be read either way) this is logically impossible. Law of
Contradiction and all -- how can two conflicting answers both be emes?
So, HQBH did know that we humans would give divergent interpretations
of halakhah -- but only because of human fraily. Rov is not part
of what makes the law the law, but a means of minimizing the chance
that we are following a faulty derivation of the din rather than
the rish one.

But then one has to read peshatim into what the gemaros "must have"

And there is no proof that the mesorah bought into the LoC. There are
other indications, such as the treatment of safeiq and tannaim, to show
that Classical Logic may not be how halakhah works.

I've pointed out known cases where Classical Logic is eschewed for more
modern variants. Two central examples:

1- When describing a spectrum, Fuzzy Logic, Proability, Confidence levels
work better than trying to make binary predicates and falling prey to
the Sorites Paradox (removing which grain of sand separates a mound of
sand from having no mound)?

2- The human condition is all about conflicting values, dialectics,
antinomies and ambivalence. When you describe human events, two ways of
analyzing what happened can produce conflicting but accurate results.

Both of these appy. When human life begins is an example of a 9 month long
Sorites Paradox. And whether one chases Chesed or Gevurah, Shalom or
Emes, can separate Batei Hillel and Shammai. But does that make either
choice "immoral"?

AND... Halakhah is a law, not a truth. Even if we were in a domain where
conflicting truths cannot co-exist, does that rule out conflicting valid
interpretations of the law?

And from this we get the Rambam's pesaq in Mamrim 2:1, that accepted
interpretations do not require says that new legislation requires a BD
gadol mimenu bechokhmah uvminyan to be overturned. (Even though 2:2 says
that new legislation does.) Because "ein ladayan mah she'einav ro'os"
and if that earlier BD's conclusion appears to be in error, then he can
overturn it.

Most of our qehillos have a far stronger notion of precedent than that.
For example, the rules in the Shakh's qunterus (after YD 242) #1 -- a
poseiq can overturn a ta'us on a devar mishnah, but not when the cause
for differing is shiqul hada'as.

Even the Gra and Brisk only follow their own interpretations lehachmir
(mayim acharonim) or when they would be equally yotzei either way
(eg 2 matzos, skipping the pasuq from Zekhariah at the end of Aleinu,
or the like).



I think that the Rambam's desire to treat halakhah as a Classical Logic
truth system ties back to his Aristotilian theory of akrasia. (Akrasia:
why people make bad choices.) That it's all about opionion, which can
be faulty, versus knowledge. Right behavior is a side-effect of correct
knowldge. Just as he opens and closes the Moreh by talking about how
knowledge is the ultimate form of human perfection, moreso than ethics
and middos. And he puts nevu'ah on the same spectrum as philosophy,
if beyond it. Hashgachah peratis is also proportional to knowledge.

All of which is very hard to justify from Chazal as well. The Ramnbam's
very Greek way of looking at Torah impacted how he saw the process of
pesaq as well.


* On the subjevt of all rishonim believing that most of halakhah was
given implicitly, in derivable form:

Rashi appears to say differently on that gemara (Menachos 29b, DH
"nisyashvah da'ato). Rashi says that Moshe was calmed because it was
given in his name "even though he hadn't yet received it". One could
ttake that to mean that Moshe did receive every perat during the course of
matan Torah, but he visited the future before finishing his own studies.

However, Rashi himself (and followed by the Ritva) draws a distinction
between disputes in law and disputes in what someone said. So Rashi
must mean that even the means of deriving the dinim Moshe heard in R'
Aqiva's shiur weren't given yet. With Rashi assuming that MRAH would
be capable of filling in the gap himself and realizing how R' Aqiva and
the rabbanim before him reach the taught law. Had Moshe's education been
complete before the trip.


: I argued that this is a misreading of the Ran, because he explicitly
: rejected the concept that it is merely by the decree of the sages
: that objects are tahor or tamie, and actions are mutar or assur.

Not mutar or assur.

: Just as poison is poisonous even if the consensus of doctors
: otherwise, he says, so too a tamei object or a forbidden action will
: produce negative effects on the soul, regardless of the consensus of
: the sages.

And yet he also says that Hashem gave us both shitos. The answer being
that he only expects halakhah to minimize our exposure such metaphysical
danger, to usually be right. In fact, the text you circle in blue (on daf
19, pg 2 of the pdf) says "umah shehayu metam'in LO HAYAH RAQ MIQOTZER
SIKHLAM". I am not sure why you circled this, did you miss the "lo"?

But I already played this game twice now, you cite things, I show how
parts you didn't highlight contradict your conclusion, you cite more
things, not addressing my quotes. I'm kinda done with that. Here was
something interesting, as in that paragraph the Ran spells out the
Constitutive theory. Including in the part you circle.

: In his more recent post, RMB raises an interesting point, that
: Hashem's response to Moshe's request for clarity does not direct him
: to apply the methodology to arrive at the halacha...

My point was that the methodology doesn't guarantee truth. Moshe is
told that the future generations' vote is more determinant than his own
first-hand opinion.

: Additionally, if one speaks of ''rov rishonim,'' one must factor in
: the opinion of (how many?) Geonim in addition to the Rambam.

And how many baalei Tosafos?

In any case, as you hopefully now see, the difference between the Rambam's
understanding of the other derivation being wrong and the rov's position
that the other derivation is simply less useful for us as we stand now
is too subtle to assume that we know what the geonim held.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It is harder to eat the day before Yom Kippur
mi...@aishdas.org        with the proper intent than to fast on Yom
http://www.aishdas.org   Kippur with that intent.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 2
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 21:00:34 +0200
[Avodah] 10 tribes

we traditionally mention the 10 northern tribes versus the 2 southern
tribes (based on pesukim to Yaravam).

However, there were 3 tribes in the south Yehuda, Shimon (absorbed in
Yehudah) and Binyamin.
So who are the remaining 10 tribes (ie I count only 9).
This is all based on including Ephraim and Menashe and excluding Levi.
If we list Levi and combine the other 2 into Yosef then there were 4 tribes
in the south (assuming most Levites and cohanim were wth the Bet HaMikdash
in Jerusalem)

Eli Turkel
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Message: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 16:53:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] 10 tribes

On 19/12/16 14:00, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
> we traditionally mention the 10 northern tribes versus the 2 southern
> tribes (based on pesukim to Yaravam).
> However, there were 3 tribes in the south Yehuda, Shimon (absorbed in
> Yehudah) and Binyamin.

Who says Shim`on was absorbed into Yehuda and remained in the south?  On 
the contrary, it seems clear that Shim`on was one of the rebel tribes 
that went with Yerov`om.   For instance DH2 15:9 tells of defectors from 
Efrayim, Menashe, and Shim`on.   Also Ya`acov said that Shim`on would be 
spread out among the other tribes, so most of it would have been in the 

Zev Sero                Winter has officially begun

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 20:47:04 -0500
Re: [Avodah] 10 tribes

On Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 04:53:52PM -0500, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: Who says Shim`on was absorbed into Yehuda and remained in the south?

Yehoshua pereq 19.

According to the Ralbag, the use of "yeser ha'am" in Melakhim I 12:23
when describing Yehudah and Binyamin it refers to Shim'on.

Divrei haYamim I 4:31-43 seems to have them moving out in David
haMelekh's day. To places like Gedor and Har Sei'ir in Edom --
not the north.

Shalesheles haQabalah says that Sancheirev's inroads into Malkhus
Yehudah succeeded in dislocating Shim'on. Or perhaps, those of Shim'on
who remained.

This requires assuming that Shim'on's cities were on the border
of Yehudah, not in the middle. Which would fit if their nachalah
was originally supposed to be Azza / Eretz Pelishtim, and they
never conquered it. 

It is noted that "Shi'on veLevi achim", and neither got their own

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Our greatest fear is not that we're inadequate,
mi...@aishdas.org        Our greatest fear is that we're powerful
http://www.aishdas.org   beyond measure
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Anonymous

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Message: 5
From: Isaac Balbin
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:37:06 +1100
Re: [Avodah] The Mizinke Dance: Tradition, Folklore or Other?

On 19 Dec 2016, at 4:44 pm, via Avodah <avo...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:
From: "Professor L. Levine via Avodah"
> Please see the article at
> <http://tinyurl.com/gl2o6mc>

> from Jewish Action Magazine.
>> "Based upon the information I had culled, I felt it reasonable
>> to deduce that the mizinke had become a staple at weddings due to one
>> reason: bandleaders."

Professor Levine,

You and perhaps other readers may be interested with what I found.

I wrote it 5 years ago ago, and can't remember; I am also a band
leader/singer (and academic) and I can assure you it is not I who push
for this, anymore than the Hungarians push for their Badchan interspersed
with dancing with the Kallah. I also don't push back. I do as I'm told :-)

I was once asked to sing it when out of state because the band was
unacquainted, so I obliged. Don't rush too quickly to conclusions.

In Melbourne, with the 2nd largest number of Polish Holocaust survivors
in the World (outside of Israel) I can assure you, that Mezinke was
ubiquitous, and lots of fun and simcha for the families (as well as very
emotional in some cases).


I'm not sure if I captured every post I did on this with the above link
but start from the bottom and move up.

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Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 14:03:15 +0000
[Avodah] Why do many people say ?Bli Neder? (without making a

From today's OU Halacha Yomis

Q.  Why do many people say ?Bli Neder? (without making a vow) whenever they say they will donate money to tzedakah?

A.  There is a Biblical requirement to fulfill one?s vow, as detailed in
the beginning of Parashas Mattos (Bemidbar 30:3).  Ordinarily, to be
considered a vow a person must explicitly say, ?I swear (or vow) to do such
and such.?  However, if a person pledges to do a mitzvah, it is considered
a vow even if the person did not use the phrase ?I swear.?  Similarly, if a
person performed a good deed three times, it attains the status of a vow. 
Because of the risk inherent in not fulfilling a vow, the Shulchan Aruch
(YD 203:4) recommends adding the words ?Bli Neder? (without making a neder)
whenever one pledges to give tzedakah.	Even when adding Bli Neder, the
pledge should be fulfilled in any event.  Nonetheless, if one inadvertently
forgot to give the tzedakah, a vow is not violated if one said Bli Neder.?

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Message: 7
From: saul newman
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 14:34:51 -0800
[Avodah] cha-nittel

various nittel oriigins have been attributed--- including issues of tum'ah
but also mourning.
[eg  torah/relations are forbidden on tisha bav, and also to those who
practice Nittel].

i wonder why there wasn't a specific admonition to specifically limit
hanuka celebration when dec 24 nite and 1st candle coincide--  especially
since one aspect was forbidding jews [by the goyim ] to have candles lit on
the eve of the xtian feast...
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Message: 8
From: saul newman
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 14:26:41 -0800
[Avodah] origins of Nittel


on the interplay between xtian folk practices and jewish reaction in the
origins of Nittel
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Message: 9
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2016 11:21:32 +0200
[Avodah] Rachel didn't burn the idols because she wanted to

R' Yitzchak Zilberstein was quoted as saying the following (

*Rachel Imenu sat on the idols and didn't burn them. She wanted to
denigrate the wisdom of the other nations, she didn't want to burn them,
rather to teach the Jewish people, I don't need any outside wisdom and
therefore she was priviliged with having Yosef who astounded the world with
his wisdom which was solely torah based. *

*We have to instill in our daughters: A jewish home that is free of any
trace of non-Jewish wisdom and learns only Torah will never be hurt.*

Does anyone know a source for this idea that Rachel didn't burn the idols
because she wanted to denigrate outside wisdom? Rashi explains that she
stole the idols to stop her father from worshipping them and the simple
pshat is that she simply hadn't had any time to do anything with them
(destroy them) because they were running away from Lavan.
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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2016 06:32:34 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Yom Kippur Thought

On Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 11:18:51PM -0500, Moshe Yehuda Gluck via Avodah wrote:
: Besides everything everyone else said, there's a fundamental difference
: between a bad thought and a bad action - when we have a bad action, we did
: it, we can repent. But a bad thought can still lead to a bad action - so the
: "potential energy" of the bad thought is worse than the bad action. 

Isn't this caused by a more fundamental difference?

Teshuvah for a bad action is teshuvah for something in the past.

Teshuvah for a bad de'iah (thought, middah, whatever) is for smething
that is still in your head, in the present. And the teshuvah is doing
something material to get rid of it.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             The true measure of a man
mi...@aishdas.org        is how he treats someone
http://www.aishdas.org   who can do him absolutely no good.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                   - Samuel Johnson

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Message: 11
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2016 16:58:30 +0200
[Avodah] electronics on shabbat

A psak of R Rabinowitz allows the use of card readers and many other
gadgets used for opening hotels doors on shabbat
see for more details


Eli Turkel
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