Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 117

Thu, 11 Oct 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 22:50:38 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shapiro Gives Fiery, Unprecedented Assault On

On Mon, Oct 08, 2018 at 05:39:41PM -0400, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: Shapiro then reached the apex of his argument:
:> Human life is a continuous process of growth, from the moment of
:> fertilization onward. Abortion is the killing of this human life.

Well, Rav Moshe holds as much, but most posqim do not.

Shapiro is conflating the fact that Yahadus considers abortion a
serious avlah with Pro-Life rhetoric that the avlah happens to be

Halachipidia <http://halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Abortion>
has the following list (my translitations):

    What is the Prohibition?

    1. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - abortion is considered murder. However,
       this murder does not come with a death penalty. There are some
       cases of murder when the murderer does not get the death penalty.
       One of these cases is someone who murders one who is terminally
       ill. [4]

    2. Rabbi Issar Unterman - abortion is considered abuzraihu deretzichah
       akin to murder.[5]

    3. It is a violation of the positive commandment of peru urvu Part of
       the commandment is to allow every potential soul to come into
       being, and if one does abortion, they cannot do this. [6]

    4. Spilling the seed/Onanism. The fetus is more similar to the basic
       seed than to a human, so destroying the fetus would be like
       destroying the seed.[7]

    5. Aborting the fetus is injuring the mother (Chavalah). Exodus 21
       says that if two men are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and
       there is no death, but the fetus is miscarried, then they have
       to pay a monetary payment. So the fetus is more a part of the
       mother than a separate life. [8]

    6. It is a Rabbinical prohibition. There is no clear prohibition in
       the Torah, so our only real sources are the rabbinical sources.[9]

    7. According to the Zohar, one who kills a fetus is guilty of
       destroying God's handiwork. [10] it is unclear if this constitutes
       a different view of the technical prohibition, or if this is just
       a reasoning explaining the severity of abortion. A punishment
       unlike that for murder is detailed.

    [4] Iggros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat, Part 2, Chapter 69
    [5] I.Y. Unterman, Noam VI (1963), 1-11 as cited in David Feldman,
        Birth Control In Jewish Law
    [6] Yevamos 63b
    [7] Talmud Bavli: Niddah 13a; Chavos Yair, Siman 31
    [8] Exodus 21:22
    [9] Sanhedrin 72; Tzitz Eliezer, Jerusalem, 1963, volume VII, number
        48, p. 190.
    [10] Hok L'Yisrael, Shemot for Monday, Zohar, Shemot 3b

Note how most shitos do say the fetus is not a person. #5 in particular
is based on the idea that the fetus is an organ of the mother. (Which is
also consistent with pen paqua.) No.s 3, 4 and 7 are about stopping the
process of later producing a person. Likely #2 (abuzraihu deretzichah)
as well, although it could be some other near-retzichah connection. And
as for #6, it depends which deOraisa the deRabbanan is supporting. But
even so, not retzichah, no human life yet.

As the Bach explains the Rambam's position... You can abort a fetus
to save the life of the mother a moment before it would have crowned,
because it is kerotzeiach -- LIKE a rotzeiach. But it's not actually a
rotzeiach, which is why in the same situation but a moment later, once
the baby did crown, one could not commit infanticide to save the mother.
A fetus before crowning is not subject to the same issur as after.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             It's never too late
mi...@aishdas.org        to become the person
http://www.aishdas.org   you might have been.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                      - George Eliot

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Message: 2
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2018 18:04:42 +0000
[Avodah] Light Magazine Article about Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer

In June 1990 Light Magazine published an article about Rabbi Dr. Joseph
Breuer dealing with "his life in perspective; what is Torah Im Derech
Eretz? ; his attitude toward modern Hebrew; and his mida of emess and

The article is at Light Magazine Article about Rabbi Dr. Joseph
June 1990

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2018 18:26:04 -0400
Re: [Avodah] two witnesses

On Mon, Oct 08, 2018 at 02:37:57PM -0400, Micha Berger wrote:
: Every question is asked at least three ways, and in different orders. AND,
: asked of each eid separately.
: And if we're talking about 2 eidim with regard to a sin/crime, the eidim
: had to have given hasra'ah. So it's not simply relying on memory; they
: had to at the time have participated in trying to stop the sin.

REMT, kedarko beqodesh, gently corrected me in private.

The eidim testifying need to have witnessed hasra'ah, and didn't have to
have given it themselves.

Which means that the tail of my post applies to sin/crim as well, not
only dinei mamunus (as long as it's not eid echad ne'eman be'isusim).
I think what I said about confabulation vs indepent derishah vechaqira of
each eid separately, and (more importantly) my argument for not assuming
that the neemanus accorded eidus isn't because we necessarily consider
it the least fallible both still stand.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             You want to know how to paint a perfect
mi...@aishdas.org        painting?  It's easy.
http://www.aishdas.org   Make yourself perfect and then just paint
Fax: (270) 514-1507      naturally.              -Robert Pirsig

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Message: 4
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:20:20 +0300
[Avodah] Longevity of Minhag haMakom

<< But does he even address the question of what right the SA, or his whole
Sefardi community, had to set minhag EY, or the minhag of all the other
countries they colonised after gerush Sefard, when there were existing
communities with contrary minhagim?  What argument works for them and
not for the subsequent Ashkenazi mass immigrants? >>

The argument is that when the sefardim came there was no established
community in EY due to the crusades etc. So they could establish a new
minhag. However, when later the Ashkenazim came there was a
sefardi community and ROY's claim is that the Ashkenazim should have
followed the existing sefardi customs.  Obviously the talmidei hagra and
the chassidim didn't agree.

How far one goes back is part of a responsa by RMF that one who davens
"chassidic" can change to Ashkenaz but not the other way since the original
minhag was Asjkenaz and changed by the early chassidim. So according to RMF
the fact someonepnes great...grandather 10 generations ago davened in
nusach Ashkenaz has halachic meaning

As to minhag EY and minhag Yerushalayim most date back about 100 years ago
and a few to the days of takmidei hagra and the early chassidim. Almost
none to earlier than that.

The minhag of having a single drummer at a wedding in Jerusalem has mostly
been replaced by a single organ player that can simulate a whole orchestra.
Others claim that it holds only in the old city or that it was established
by the old yishuv some 100 years ago and they are not part of that community

One widespread minhag EY from the talmidei hagra and hasidim is not to wear
tefillin on chol hamoed. Even in this case I have heard of some olim who
put on tefillin after they return from shul.

One really ancient minhag in Yerushalayim refers to not leaving a corpse
overnight and so having funerals in the middle of the night.

Eli Turkel
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Message: 5
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:01:59 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Fish With Legs?!

In Parshas Noach, we read about how Hashem brought the Great Flood and
destroyed all living creatures, save for those inside Noach?s Ark and the
fish in the oceans, who were spared as well. It would be fascinating to
find out on which side of the Teiva a ?fish with legs? would have been.
Would it have been considered a fish or an animal? Far from being a
theoretical question, this actually happened when...

To find out the full story, read the full article "Insights Into Halacha:
Fish with Legs?!<https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fsable.madmimi.com%2Fc%2F10500%3Fid%3D225210.1101.1.818ef17faa63b5269a32516b9b7ab332&;data=02%7C01%7Cllevine%40stevens.edu%7C547f0132bd3a4a0c45a308d62f537b4a%7C8d1a69ec03b54345ae21dad112f5fb4f%7C0%7C0%7C636748432944206855&sdata=CceR13FJzUy8V0F7uW6V3w%2BR1dKfsIntfhDPLcUXZDg%3D&reserved=0>"
For all of the Mareh Mekomos / sources, just ask.



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Message: 6
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2018 09:58:05 +0000
[Avodah] RSRH on the First Pasuk in Noach

The following is part of RSRH's commentary on the first Pasuk in Noach

It is far more difficult to remain morally pure in an age of immorality
than to remain honest in an age of dishonesty.

I ask,  "What are the implications of living in today's age of both immorality and dishonesty?"

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:49:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] RSRH on the First Pasuk in Noach

On Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 09:58:05AM +0000, Professor L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
: The following is part of RSRH's commentary on the first Pasuk in Noach
:> It is far more difficult to remain morally pure in an age of immorality
:> than to remain honest in an age of dishonesty.
: I ask, "What are the implications of living in today's age of both
: immorality and dishonesty?"

The Meshekh Chomah notes...

Pausing here for a shameless plug: I am now giving a quick (15-20 min)
talk on Facebook Wed nights 9:30pm EDT. This comment is from that. So,
the MC notes...

That the dor hamabul sinned both
- sexually - ki hishchis kol basar; and
- financially - chamas.

And he writes about the opening pasuq, based on a Rashi on the
Gemara (AZ 6a):
tamim -- anav ushefal ruach
tzadiq - [bemaasav -gemara] - belo chamas

RMShK writes that Noach "bedorosav" -- his 2 doros -- had very different

Living in the pre-flood dor, being a tzadiq bemaasav and not influenced
by the general dishonesty and sexual license around him, was the greater
challenge. (How often does someone cut ethical corners because "that's
how business is done now?") However being tamim in his midos, his anavah,
was easy. The culture didn't value his tzidqus.

However, in the post-flood dor, everything existed becaus of him. And
the people around him had learned from the experience of tending to
the animals for a year. Little challenge from peer pressure, but a much
bigger challenge keeping his ego in check.

This is a point the MC makes on "Malki-Tzedeq melekh Shaleim" -- the
year in the midbar was a lesson in sheleimus, and that's his part of
the foundation of Y-m. Avrahama added "behar Hashem Yeira'ah" to
make Yerushalayim. (And thus the "-ayim", pair, in the name.) See
MC Bereishis 22:14.

Back to the point, it would seem that chazal attribute both difficulties
to Noach's pre-flood life. It too was an "age of both immorality and

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Time flies...
mi...@aishdas.org                    ... but you're the pilot.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - R' Zelig Pliskin
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 8
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2018 15:58:19 +0000
[Avodah] The Shape of the Tavah

The following is from RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 6:14

Make yourself an ark of gopher wood ? make the ark [to consist] of enclosures for animals ? and
cover it inside and out with pitch.

In any event, a tavah is shaped like a
box or chest, unlike a boat. It is wide at the bottom, tapering toward
the top, the reverse of the shape of a boat; for it is not designed to cut
through the water, but to be borne on the surface of the water.

Clearly the ark that was built and is shown at https://arkencounter.com/ has no relationship to the one Noach built.

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