Avodah Mailing List

Volume 35: Number 104

Sun, 27 Aug 2017

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Richard Wolberg
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 07:11:06 -0400
[Avodah] Should a bracha be recited on a solar eclipse?

Shulchan Aruch (OC 227:1) lists many natural events 
for which the bracha of 'Oseh Ma'aseh Breishis' ('He performs the acts of creation') is recited, 
such as lightening, thunder and great winds. However, an eclipse is not included in this list. 
It therefore may be presumed that a blessing is not recited. Why should this be? 
Isn't an eclipse an incredible and awe inspiring event, as much so as thunder and lightning?

Something doesn?t add up. Every 28 years around April 8th, we recite the birkat hachama (last time, April 8th 2009,
next time, April 8th 20037). Every month we recite the blessing over the moon. And as I learned, the ?oseh ma?aseh b?reshis?
is over lightening but not over thunder and volcanoes. For thunder and volcanoes I thought we say ?shekocho g?vuroso malei olam.?
Regarding an eclipse as an incredible and awe inspiring event, so is being in the presence of a child being born or in the presence
of a person having being declared dead, resuscitated back to life. Is there a b?rocho for that?

> ?If you live for people?s acceptance, you will
> die from their rejection.?   
> Anonymous

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Message: 2
From: Sholom Simon
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:16:50 -0400
[Avodah] Solar Eclipses and Maaseh Bereshis

I heard a very interesting shiur at yutorah.

Everything below was mentioned, plus one other thing: a great 
explanation of a gemara (or another Chazal) that says something like:

"X" comes into the world (X might have been eclipses, or, if not, 
something related in some way) with four reasons:
- not appropriately euglogizing an av beis din
- (I can't remember)
- homosexuality
- the death of two brothers at once (or in battle)

(He started the connection my explaining the ma'aseh of the moon's 
complaint against H' at creation . . . )

Here's the problem with my post:
- I got to it via the "featured shiruim" on my YUTorah phone app -- 
and it's not there now.  I went to the desktop site, and I can't seem 
to find it
- I don't remember who it was (except that the rav who gave it over 
had a middle or eastern European accent)

(My excuse: I went to western South Carolina to see the eclipse.  The 
8 hour drive home turned into almost 13 hours because of traffic, and 
I drove alone.  I heard a lot of shiurim and my mind is pretty fuzzy . . . )


-- Sholom

At 05:40 AM 8/22/2017, via Avodah wrote:
>Message: 13
>Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 20:07:30 -0400
>From: Zev Sero via Avodah <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>
>To: Avodah <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>
>Subject: Re: [Avodah] Solar Eclipses and Maaseh Bereshis
>Message-ID: <2f63a618-b62b-b14f-5218-785c1c659...@sero.name>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed
> > The AlN says that a solar eclipse is a bad sign for non-Jews, and a
> > lunar eclipse a bad sign for "son'eihem shel" Yisrael. I don't 
> see an answer
> > to the question in his words.
>That's not the Aruch Laner, that's the gemara.   The Aruch Laner points
>out that the gemara does not say, as it could easily have done, that
>eclipses are bad signs, but instead says *at the time* when the sun or
>moon is eclipsed it's a bad sign for the appropriate people.  This means
>that the (well-understood and predictable) time when an eclipse happens
>is a time of judgement, just as there are other times of judgement or
>mercy.  E.g. Chazal also said that Wednesdays are a time of judgement,
>even though they certainly knew that Wednesdays come with very precise
>and predictable regularity!  So also a solar eclipse marks a time when
>Hashem sits in judgement on those nations to whom it is visible.
>This is just as the Ramban wrote about the rainbow, which is a natural
>phenomenon that used to occur regularly long before the flood, but
>Hashem said that from now on whenever there is a rainbow it will remind
>Him of His promise, whereas before that it didn't have that function.
>This also explains why Chazal used the example of a king who, when angry
>at his subjects tells his servant to remove the lamp from before them
>and let them sit in the dark.  Who is the servant here?  And why didn't
>they have the king simply order the light extinguished?  Why have it
>removed from before them?  This shows that they were aware that the sun
>is not extinguished in an eclipse but is merely hidden by Hashem's
>servant, the moon.

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Message: 3
From: Moshe Yehuda Gluck
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:47:00 -0400
[Avodah] The Nature of Godlessness

There was a discussion on Areivim about a particular person who was accused
of committing a particularly evil crime. Someone posted, among other
comments, ?I will add that the "rabbi" who committed these horrific acts is
objectively G-dless.  Apikores is too mild a term for him.? 


My response to this fits more for Avodah than Areivim: 


I know this man and most of the other players in this story. And while I
haven?t interviewed him recently to test R?n TK?s assertion, it is my
opinion that as reprehensible as these events are, it doesn?t mean that the
person who committed them is Godless. Is any sinner Godless? More likely, a
sinner like this carries around a huge measure of denial and/or conflict.
But that doesn?t make him or her Godless. The Gemara says, in fact, that
some sinners ? during the moment they?re sinning(!) are close to Hashem
(Berachos 63a). I?ll elaborate:


In truth, the argument can be made that any time a person sins he or she is
Godless. Tomer Devorah in the first perek makes the contrapositive point ?
that Shuras HaDin would dictate that Hashem remove himself from a person at
the time of his sin, resulting in the sinner?s instant death. His response
to that is that Hashem?s mercy is what keeps the person alive ? Hashem does
not remove himself from the person, and keeps sustaining him or her even
while he or she is sinning with the very power invested by Hashem in them
that enables them to sin. 


But probably most times well-meaning people sin, their sin comes from one of
the following three: ignorance, negligence, or lust. 


Ignorance: Not knowing or remembering something is forbidden. 

Negligence: Not caring enough to take care not to inadvertently sin. 

Lust: Being blinded to the evil that one is doing because of the strong
desire to benefit from it. 


In all those cases, the person who is sinning is not thinking about Hashem.
He?s ? in your terms ? ?objectively Godless.? 


But can he really be called that? Let?s talk about two extremes: The person
who walks in front of another person who is saying Shemoneh Esrei
(relatively minor), vs. the person who is not shomer negiah (relatively
major). In both those cases it?s not that the person is not thinking about
Hashem (which he admittedly is not), but that the person is not thinking
about sin. Or, more succinctly, the person is just not thinking. Not
Godless, but thought-less. And that can sum up all of the three categories ?
ignorance, negligence, and lust cause people to sin by not thinking. 


So what happens when a person is a thinker? There are two possibilities. The
person can be like Nimrod, "???? ????? ??????? ????? ??" ? he knows Hashem
and doesn?t listen to him, although he recognized Hashem?s existence. That?s
a plain old Rasha. But he?s not Godless ? ???? ?????.


The second possibility is that that person does think about Hashem. He does
think about his actions. He does know how bad it is what he?s doing. In
other areas, not his weakness, he does keep to Hashem?s will. He is ????
????? but he?s not ?????? ????? ??. Such a person, I think, is incredibly
conflicted. He knows about Hashem and he?s rebelling against him on the one
hand, while trying to obey him on the other. That person might be evil,
might be scum of the earth, but he?s not Godless. On the contrary. And
although we have to condemn such a person and his horrible actions, and we
don?t envy his punishment in the World to Come, we might also be a little
jealous of his relationship with Hashem. 


This may well be the reason the Gemara tells us that a person who says
Lashon Hara about a talmid chacham falls in Gehennom, since the talmid
chacham definitely did Teshuvah (Berachos 19a). How do we know he definitely
did teshuvah? Because a talmid chacham, by definition, is a thinker. He
didn?t indulge in non-thinking ? that?s not in his nature. And even if he
had a moment of weakness and did something wrong, he certainly rebounded and
regretted it the next day. (Contrast the talmid chacham with the non-thinker
of before ? he just continues blissfully on with his life not realizing or
caring that he sinned. That?s why we are not required to presume that he did


A Godless person, properly defined, is one who denies Hashem?s existence
completely. We have no basis, in this case or in many others, to assert that
those are the circumstances we?re dealing with.




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Message: 4
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:43:26 +0000
Re: [Avodah] The Nature of Godlessness

Rabbi Aryeh Klapper- Can Unethical People Be Holy?

On the topic
Joel Rich

Sent from my iPhone
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Message: 5
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 14:28:06 +1000
[Avodah] Maris Ayin, Kidney Fats of a Chaya

It seems we agree that there is no Maris Ayin banning eating deer kidney
with its fats.
So there you are, eating what looks for all intents and purposes, to be
Yet Chazal were not Gozer to prohibit this due to Maris Ayin.

Is the physical difference between Cheilev and Shuman
more than the difference between fish blood and animal blood?
Would there be no confusion between red coloured liquids, like wine and
animal blood?

There is no MA on Ben PeKuAh that is salvaged as a non-fully-gestated, no
matter how long it lives and no matter how much it looks smells tastes and
feels like an ordinary beast.
Why is that so?

a little fantastic

And indeed we should ask - why don't we worry that onlookers will think
that beef Shuman is Cheilev?

Is it OBVIOUS that there is no reason to suspect it is Cheilev, so why jump
to that conclusion?
I do not think so.

I suspect that Chazal applied their Gezeirah pretty much to those cases
where the NAME identifies is as a product similar to the prohibited
product. Perhaps like the position that Min BeMino is determined by name
not by taste,

Chaya does not have anything NAMED Cheilev.
Shuman is not NAMED Cheilev
Red coloured liquids that are also NAMED blood are prohibited
White coloured liquids that are also NAMED milk are prohibited

Soy sausages and burgers etc. are not NAMED meat
Ben PeKuAh is not NAMED meat
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Message: 6
From: Zev Sero
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:37:28 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Maris Ayin, Kidney Fats of a Chaya

On 23/08/17 00:28, Rabbi Meir G. Rabi via Avodah wrote:
> Ben PeKuAh is not NAMED meat

Since when?

Zev Sero                May 2017, with its *nine* days of Chanukah,
z...@sero.name           be a brilliant year for us all

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 10:09:19 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Maris Ayin, Kidney Fats of a Chaya

On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 07:37:28AM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
: On 23/08/17 00:28, Rabbi Meir G. Rabi via Avodah wrote:
:> Ben PeKuAh is not NAMED meat

: Since when?

Tangent: One of my pet peeves about Brisker derekh is how "chalos sheim"
often is just begging the question. X needs a P, or else it doesn't
really have the chalos sheim X. It's an empty statement, just saying
that P is needed because the category needs P.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2017 15:13:26 -0400
[Avodah] Tax Evasion and Esrog purchasing

Back in Sep 2014 <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol31/v31n164.shtml#11<;
I wrote:
> Every year I mention the problem of buying an esrog from someone who
> offers a better price if you pay in cash. Last year I was able to shift
> from "li nir'eh it's a problem". RHSchachter reports that according to
> RJBSoloveitchik, helping the seller evade taxes in this way is lifnei iver
> (deOraisa, not "just" the derabbanan of mesayeia) and THE ESROG IS PASUL.

They just put R' Asher Weiss's teshuvah on this subject up at

    Tvunah in English

    Question: I recently went to a store and was told if a pay in cash
    then i would not need to pay taxes. If it is obvious that by me
    paying in taxes the store owner would not pay the proper tax on
    this sale to the government, am I allowed to do such a purchase or
    there is a problem of [lifnei iveir lo sisein mikhshol].
    Answer: This would not seem to be the actual prohibition of Lifnei
    Iver as cash payment is inherently permissible and he can and
    may still pay taxes. There are a number of reasons a person would
    prefer cash payments, aside from tax evasion. At the same time,
    with regards to taxes we should generally assume Dina Demalchusa
    Dina and not encourage or promote tax evasion.

It would seem RAW agrees on the halakhah, but disagrees that you should be
chosheish that the preference for cash is due to tax evasion.

Although in the first sentence the sho'el says the salesman told him
so outright!?


Micha Berger             When a king dies, his power ends,
mi...@aishdas.org        but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
http://www.aishdas.org   beginning.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                    - Soren Kierkegaard

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2017 15:29:48 -0400
[Avodah] Fwd: Eilu va'Eilu

Because how can I /not/ share something on eilu va'eilu?


----- Forwarded message from torah...@torahweb.org -----
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2017 10:31:45 -0400
From: torah...@torahweb.org
Subject: updates to Rav Schachter's dvar Torah
To: weekl...@torahweb.org

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

The Talmud, as well as later rabbinical literature, is replete with
halachic disputes. The halacha has had to decide which opinion should be
followed. Should we assume that the rejected view was mistaken and simply
incorrect? The Gemara (Eruvin 13b) states regarding the many disputes
between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel that, "eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim
Chaim -- both opinions are the words of the Living G-d." although in
the overwhelming majority of cases we have not accepted the views of
Beis Shamai, this does not mean that they were wrong; one who spends
time learning the views of Beis Shamai is in fulfillment of the mitzvah
of Talmud Torah. Beis Shamai were also basing their opinions on middos
she'ha'Torah nidreshes bohein; they were following the principles and
the rules of the Torah She'b'al Peh, just that they came to a different
conclusion than Beis Hillel. Therefore learning their opinions would
also constitute a proper fulfillment of the mitzvah of Talmud Torah. To
use the terminology of Rav Soloveitchik, their views also constitute a
cheftza shel Torah.

The Ritva (ibid) explains as follows: when Moshe Rabbeinu was on Har Sinai
and received the Torah from Hashem, he asked the Ribbono Shel Olam what
the din would be in various cases, and in some Hashem told him the din
is assur, in some He told Moshe muttar, and in some Hashem told him that
the case had elements of issur and elements of hetter and He leaves the
matter up to the Torah scholars of each generation to determine whether
-- according to their perspective -- the elements of issur outweigh the
elements of hetter, or the reverse; and since different people can each
have different perspectives even though they are looking at the same
thing, more than one can be correct. This is the meaning of the idea
that, "eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim Chaim."

This concept does not always apply in all cases. Rashi and Tosafos
(Kesubos 57a) point out that sometimes we must assume that one of the
opinions is clearly incorrect. Sometimes we see a dispute among the
later rabbinic authorities where one of the opinions imply overlooked
a passage in the Talmud, or sometimes even an explicit passuk in the
Chumash. In such a case we clearly will not apply the idea of eilu v'eilu.

Even when we do apply "eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim Chaim" it does not mean
that halacha l'ma'aseh one has the right to follow either opinion. The
original statement in the gemara regarding eilu v'eilu was with respect
to the many disputes between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel and nonetheless
the gemara (Berachos 36b) states that, "Beis Shamai b'makom Beis Hille
eina Mishna", i.e. we totally ignore the opinions of Beis Shamai with
respect to psak Halacha, and unlike other minority views that were also
not accepted, we don't even consider the views of Beis Shamai as creating
even the slightest safeik (safeik kol-d'hu.) Regarding Hilchos Aveilus
and Orla b'chutz la'aretzm, even when dealing with a d'oraysa issue, the
halacha says that in the presence of any slight safeik we go l'hakeil,
even if the probability of the doubt is nowhere near 50%. A minority
opinion which was not accepted constitutes a slight safeik. But because
the views of Beis Shamai were outvoted by Beis Hillel when they met
together and debated their issues, their opinions are totally ignored
halacha l'ma'aseh. (See my sefer, B'Ikvei Hatzon, siman 38, for more on
this topic.)

Likewise the poskim assume that when you have a shitah y'chida'ah,
a lone opinion among poskim not shared by others, this view also does
not constitute a slight safeik. The Beis Shmuel (Shulchan Aruch, Even
HoEzer siman 90, s'if kattan 6) thinks that even if the Rambam agrees
with the Ri Migash on an position not agreed upon by other poskim,
this view should be totally ignored, since the Rambam was so taken by
the genius of the Ri Migash (his father's rebbe), and would naturally be
inclined to accept his opinion without even thinking twice (even though
in several instances the Rambam does reject his opinion), this psak
would be considered a shitah y'chida'ah and should be totally ignored.

It was recently reported that a certain "beis din" permitted a
married woman to remarry without a get, because it was ascertained
that her husband was not Sabbath observant at the time he married her,
and the halacha considers one who is mechalel Shabbos b'farhesia to
be like a non-Jew. And, they reasoned, we all know that if a non-Jew
marries a Jewish woman the marriage does not take effect. This ruling
is absolutely scandalous. First of all, the consensus of recent poskim
has been that the concept of mechalel Shabbos b'farhesia doesn't apply
today since so many Jews are not shomer Shabbos and the term "b'farhesia"
has the connotation that this individual is breaking the discipline in
the community (Chazon Ish and Binyan Tzion.) The members of this "beis
din" would most certainly have been the first to say that such a Jew
would not cause wine he touched to become prohibited because he is not
considered to be like a non-Jew. More importantly, the view that a Jew
who is treated as a non-Jew because he is mechalel Shabbos b'farhesia
can't effectively marry a Jewish woman is totally ignored, because it
is against an explicit gemara (Yevamos 47b) that states that even if a
Jew converts to another religion and marries a Jewish woman the marriage
does in fact take effect. We can't apply the concept of eilu v'eilu to
this view; it is simply incorrect.

Even in an instance where we do apply eilu v'eilu, for example regarding
the views of Beis Shamai, one may not follow their opinion. Eilu v'eilu
means that one who spends time delving into the understanding of the
views of Beis Shamai is fulfilling the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, but it
does notmean that it has ramifications halacha l'ma'aseh.

There are rules and regulations regarding psak halacha; this discipline is
not hefker (is not a free for all.) The parsha tells us that the halachic
positions of the Beis Din Hagadol are binding on all Jews. The Sanhedrin
was a group of Torah scholars who were clearly head and shoulders above
all of their contemporaries. They were the gedolei hador (the Torah
giants of their generation), and the gedolei hador have the status of
rabo muvhak for their entire generation, even for those who never even
met them (see Tosafos on Berachos 31b and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah
244:10.) The halachic positions of one's rebbe muvhak are binding on
him, and the halachic views of the gedolei hador (who are clearly head
and shoulders above the other Torah scholars of their generation) may
not be ignored. None of the members of the aforementioned "beis din"
are recognized by anyone as belonging to the category of gedolei hador,
and even if it had been a case where we would apply eilu v'eilu, since
the gedolei hador have unanimously rejected it for generations, no one
today who is not in the category of gedolei hador has the right to go
against this rejection!

Rabbinic leaders throughout the generations are always concerned with
the plight of agunos, but coming up with non-halachic solutions is not
the Orthodox way. The Talmud Yerushalmi seems to hold that the concept of
pikuach nefesh doesn't only apply when one's life is in danger, but also
if one's life will be made extremely miserable this too falls under the
category of pikuach nefesh, which allows one to violate Torah laws. The
Yerushalmi (quoted by Rav Yosef Engle in Teshuvas Aguna) says that we
would have allowed every agunah to violate the prohibition of adultery
if not for the fact that we are dealing with gilui arayos (forbidden
marriages) where the halacha does not permit one to violate the mitzvah
even in a case of literal pikuach nefesh -- even to save one's life.

The aforementioned "beis din" is doing a disservice to the Orthodox Jewish
community at large, and specifically to these poor agunos, by misleading
them with absolutely scandalously fallacious piskei halacha. Let the
public beware! One must be of the caliber of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in
his generation or Rav Moshe Feinstein in the past generation in order to
determine in a given case if the halacha permits a woman to get remarried
without a get.

Regarding the aforementioned "beis din", also see important letter from
Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Rav Nota Greenblatt,
Rav Avrohom Union, and Rav Menachem Mendel Senderovitz regarding the
"International Beit Din" <http://www.torahweb.org/torah/docs/ibd-machaa.html>.

Copyright (c) 2017 by TorahWeb.org. All rights reserved.

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2017 12:42:48 -0400
[Avodah] A Poem For Elul

Saw on Facebook and wanted to share.

I am not sure if R Bin Goldman intended the title to be "a poem for elul"
(sic) and the first line read (in Hebrew, my transliteration) "Lekha Amar
Libi" or if he wrote a poem titled "Lekha Amar Libi, which he introduced
as a poem for Elul. I am presenting it as if the latter.

Tir'u baTov!

    Lekha Amar Libi
    [R'] Bin Goldman

    My daughter loves to disappear.
    With little hands over big, bright eyes
    she announces, "You can't see me!"
    Her giggles float around me like the bubbles
    we love to blow together.

    I light up when I watch her,
    but she can't tell.
    She'll never see me from her darkness
    standing there, adoring her.

    Sometimes when it's dark for me,
    I wonder: can God still see me
    or have I disappeared?
    If only I could see that
    it's me who's hiding. My daughter loves to disappear.
    With little hands over big, bright eyes
    she announces, "You can't see me!"
    Her giggles float around me like the bubbles
    we love to blow together.

    I light up when I watch her,
    but she can't tell.
    She'll never see me from her darkness
    standing there, adoring her.

    Sometimes when it's dark for me,
    I wonder: can God still see me
    or have I disappeared?
    If only I could see that
    it's me who's hiding.

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Message: 11
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2017 18:18:52 +0000
[Avodah] Mitzvot bnai noach

The Minchat Chinuch discusses from time to time whether a mitzvah is
applicable to Bnai Noach or not. If it is not one of the classic seven,
might it be subsumed under dinim (laws)? If not, where is its force
grounded? Does the Bnai Noach king have unlimited power to make his own law
as long as it doesn?t contradict the seven? Who would be eligible to be on
a Bnai Noach court and how much interpretive independence would they have?
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