Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 124

Wed, 31 Oct 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Harry Maryles
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2018 16:49:03 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Reading Newspapers and Other secular Literature

On Oct 28, 2018, at 4:35 PM, Prof. Levine <larry62...@optonline.net> wrote:
> Did you take the time to read the Tradition article? It seems to be
> `well documented.

I glanced at it. But I did not read it. All I was doing was saying what
my rebbi told me personally


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Message: 2
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2018 22:06:13 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Baptized Jews and the Law Of Return


R' Micha Berger wrote:

> You should see R' Aharon Lichtenstein
> http://books.google.com/books?id=_QshqTu9nGIC&;lpg=PA363&pg=PA57#v=onepage
> ...
> RAL offers three different approaches to resolution. He ends
> up siding with #3, that the convert in Yevamos is someone who
> reverts to the rituals of his old religion. But someone who
> goes beyond that to give up their Jewish identity would indeed
> not be Jews.

One must be wary of the phrase "would indeed not be Jews". As RAL
reiterates there, over and over, "Jew" can mean different things in
different contexts. For example, Please see what he wrote there on pages
66-67, distinguishing between "shem Yisrael" and "kedushat Yisrael":

> If we ask, in purely descriptive terms, whether anyone born of
> Jewish parents is a Jew, the answer must be yes. As an epithet,
> the term "Jew" remains applicable to any individual who was
> ever endowed with Jewish status - even to a mechumad. Hence, he
> is obligated to pursue a Torah life, and should he decide to
> return, he would perhaps require no new conversion.[38]
> However, if we ask whether a meshumad has anything of a Jewish
> personality and character, and whether, therefore, he continues
> to be endowed with the personal status of a Jew, the answer is
> a ringing no. He remains a Jew without Jewishness. What he
> retains is simply the descriptive epithet: shem Yisrael. Of
> kedushat Yisrael, however - of the sacredness of the Jewish
> personality, that which essentially constitutes being a Jew - he
> is bereft.

> [38] The first point, that the obligation remains, is certain.
> The second, that reentry would not necessitate gerut, is open
> to question. One might argue that even for one who is endowed
> with shem Yisrael, the recovery of kedushat Yisrael requires
> gerut. It may also be contended that gerut would not be required,
> but only because the return to the fold would retroactively
> cancel the earlier renunciation.

My point is that - according to RAL - even the very most extreme meshumad,
who severs his connection to the Jewish people so completely that he has
totally lost his kedushat Yisrael, still has shem Yisrael, and IS STILL

This is a critical distinction. To refer to such a person as a non-Jew
would easily mislead people to think that he is now relieved of his Jewish
obligations. It would be most tragic if the meshumad himself was led to
such a conclusion, for it would divest him of the last shred of motivation
to return. He would think of himself as an ordinary outsider, for whom
gerut is totally optional.

(As a side point, I am somewhat disappointed that RAL focused so totally on
the status of the meshumad himself. I would love to know what he would say
about the next generation. Suppose we are talking of a woman meshumedet,
who still has shem Yisrael, but abandoned her kedushat Yisrael. Do her
children have shem Yisrael or not? It has always been my presumption that
her children (and the children of her daughters, etc etc ad infinitum)
would be obligated in mitzvos, but this article makes me wonder about that.
To phrase it in more technical terms: For a newborn to have shem Yisrael,
does it suffice that his mother has shem Yisrael, or must she also have
kedushat Yisrael?)

Akiva Miller
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 15:03:01 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Baptized Jews and the Law Of Return

So, here are the three shitos RALichtenstein discusses about how to resolve
the apparently conflicting gemaros.

1- The Rashba (Yavemos 22a) takes the case of the marriage of a backslid
geir (Yevamos 67b) as primary. And the gemara about Kusim does not mean
that Chazal reject their attempt at conversion. Rather kol demeqadeish
al daas chakhamim meqadeish gives Chazal the power to deny the validity
of their attempts to marry (other) Jews.

Variant on this theme:

1b- The Ittur (quf, Qiddishin 78a) says that R' Yehudai Gaon says that
Chakhamim DO allow their marriage to a Jew, and that the statement is
about stam yeinam, shechitah, and other laws that are limited to maaminim.

Th SA (YD 159:3) similarly says that we may not pay a Kusi ribis, but
we may charge him.

2- HaGahos Mordekhai (Yevamos 107) holds that the person is literally not a
Jew -- but. Because we cannot know the extent of someone's apostacy,
we aren't mindreaders, for something as major as eishes ish, we recognize
lechumerah his marriage to a Jewish woman.

3- R' Chaim Solovei[t]chik notes that the Rambam WRT seider nashim
(Ishus 4:15, Issurei Bi'ah 13:17) as following Yevamos, like #1.
And yet WRT taharah, Peirush haMIshnayos (Nidda 7:4) says a Kusi's body
is not metamei tum'as ohalim, because nakhriim don't. R' Chaim says that
Yevamos refers to a geir who returned to his old practices, in RAL's
terms "an apostacy of action". But the Kusim and the 10 Shevatim
not only changed behavior, but also ceased identifying as Jews.

The opinion I mentioned earlier as R' Aharon's was his following his
wife's ancestor.

The quote RAM provides from Leaves of Faith pp 66-67 I saw more as a
subject - object distinction. In his own eyes, he has the din of a Jew.
But in the eyes of how others are supposed to relate to him, he does not.
And it's the latter -- how are we to classify others -- that was under

To quote RAM on another point:
: (As a side point, I am somewhat disappointed that RAL focused so totally on
: the status of the meshumad himself. I would love to know what he would say
: about the next generation...

RAL writes a little later:
> It might be be argued that it only applies to a mass secession, whereby
> not only an individual but his whole social context becomes uprooted. Or
> one might contend that only the children, born in complete ignorance of
> their origins, are affected, whereas the apostate, paradoxically, might
> remain a Jew.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Feeling grateful  to or appreciative of  someone
mi...@aishdas.org        or something in your life actually attracts more
http://www.aishdas.org   of the things that you appreciate and value into
Fax: (270) 514-1507      your life.         - Christiane Northrup, M.D.

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Message: 4
From: elazar teitz
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 12:17:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Reading Newspapers and Other secular Literature

RMicha Berger wrote:

>>And yet, the Netziv spen[t] Friday night reading the haskalishe
>>One of the things in My Uncle the Netziv, a translation of excerpts from
>>the Torah Temimah's Meqor Baruch, that got BMG to recall a mailing of
>>them a couple of decades ago.

To which RDYitzchok Levine responded:

>I have  been told that R. Baruch Epstein was not known for the
>accurateness of his writings.

Even granting RDYL's source, there is quite a difference between accuracy
in the quoting of sources and accuracy in conveying an eyewitness account.
The former would attribute carelessness and imprecision to R. Boruch
Epstein; the latter would accuse him of being an intentional liar. Even
granting the inaccuracy of his writing, it has no bearing whatever on the
accuracy of what he attests to having seen.

However, even if the N'tziv did read the newspapers, it is may have no
relevance to the current discussion.  As RMB cited, it was the haskala
press. The Netziv may have been reading it for the purpose of "v'da ma
shetashiv," which I believe would render his reading permissible on Shabbos.

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 15:54:42 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Kim lei bdraba minei:

On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 01:33:46PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
: Kim lei bdraba minei: Given the difference in the requirements for
: accepting testimony in capital and civil cases, could one be found not
: guilty for the death penalty for an act with capital implications but
: have to pay damages for the monetary damages from that act, or do we
: say lo palginon (we don't split)?

QLbdRM applies to chaivei misos shogegin. Because it's shoegeig, BD
doesn't kill him, but because he violated a law that carries dinei
nefashos, he is off the hook for paying a plaintiff as well.

Although in the case of shogegin, the Maharshal says he is chayav
to pay midinei Shamayim, even if the court can't force him to
pay, and the Qetzos questions this.

REWasserman (Qoveitz Shiurim 93) says there are two issues -- which
crime to try and which punishment to give. Because in the case of
shogegin, there is only the first -- we try for the worse aveirah,
but HQBH still holds him accountable for the onesh of the lesser
one, since that's the only onesh he is up for.

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: 6
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:40:39 +1100
[Avodah] Toivelling a flower vase more used for food

Is the classification of Kelie SeUdah determined by the manufacturer or the

The Gemara (AZ 75b) rejects the proposition that scissors acquired from a G
require Tevillah, only Kelei SeUdah require Tevillah.
The reason we may have thought scissors do require Tevillah - since once
Kashered, all food taste is gone, it's like a new device. In fact that's
how the Gemara knows that new utensils do require Tevilla.

Now, if new devices require Tevillah then it's got nothing to do with the
food of the G. In that case scissors should also require.
The Gemara rejects that because only Kelei SeUdah require Tevillah. Meaning
it's got something to do with food, at least in the potential.

The Ritva however, is troubled by the fact that it's not yet been used for
food of a G.
He explains that nevertheless, since they will be used eventually for food
they have some connection to food, therefore even new utensils of a G
require Tevillah, and he adds, because they're going to a sacred (kosher or
Jewish?) use.

But why was he troubled by the fact that it's not yet been used for food?
Could this mean that if the G never intend to use it for food, but as a
flower vase for example, but the Y chooses to use it for food, that it does
not require Tevillah?
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Message: 7
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2018 16:04:56 +0000
[Avodah] Freshly Brewed Coffee- on Shabbos?

From the article at http://cor.ca/view-891-freshly-brewed-coffeeon-shabboshtml.html

It is well known that there are various grades of roast of coffee beans,
from light roast to dark roast. When does a coffee bean become fully
roasted to the extent that halacha would allow for it to be cooked on
Shabbos? Poskim have expressed doubt as to whether roasted coffee beans
have the status of a food that is baked or roasted.8 Due to this doubt, we
are not prepared to provide the heter to use microground coffee on Shabbos,
even in a kli shlishi.9

ee the above URL for much more.

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Message: 8
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 21:12:07 +0000
[Avodah] The Difference Between Idolatry and Moral Degeneracy

Pasuk 24:4 in Bereishis says

    4 But you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for
    my son, for Yitzchak.

RSRH comments:

    Eliezer is to be guided by two considerations: First, l'vni;
    she should be worthy of being the wife of my son; she should
    justify my hope that she will become my daughter even as he is my
    son. This is the general requirement regarding her character. But
    two people can each be of the most excellent character and still be
    incompatible. Hence, l'Yitzchak; Eliezer should make sure that the
    woman is compatible with Yitzchak's individual character.

    Avraham rejected the daughters of Canaan, preferring an Aramean
    woman for his son. Let us bear in mind, though, that the Arameans,
    too, were idolaters. Thus, the reason for Avraham's decision was
    not the idolatry of the Canaanites, but their moral degeneracy.

    Idolatry is basically an intellectual error, and that can be
    corrected. Moral degeneracy, however, takes hold of the whole
    individual, heart and soul. Hence, even a man such as Avraham could
    not hope to find among the Canaanites a modest, morally pure woman
    as a wife for his son, a woman who would bring with her a nobility
    of spirit and the purity of morality, as a pearl for his home.

[Email #2. -micha]

Someone who is a rabbi with broad based knowledge sent me the following
in response to my earlier message with this subject line.

It is amazing how RSRH always can find something so very thoughtful
and true.
The Rambam alludes at the same matter: that moral failings may be much
worse even than Hillul Shabbos and AZ, because they corrupt a person to
a degree that he will never be able to do t'shuvo, and so he will lose
his Chelemer in the Olam HaBo, while it is very possibly that he might
do t'shuvo for hillul Shabbos, even if only on his deathbed.

RSRH was indeed the kind of very special and unique person that only
comes around every few generations.


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Message: 9
From: Toby Katz
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2018 03:16:31 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Reading Newspapers and Other secular Literature

From: "Prof. Levine" <larry62...@optonline.net>
>: Please see
>: http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/Reading%20Newspapers%20on%20Shabbos.pdf
>: The author points out that many are unaware of these halachas.

My father asked me not to read novels on Shabbos. He didn't say anything
to me about reading non-fiction. I was a teenager at the time.

I said he asked me, not he told me. I understood that novels were not
Shabbosdig. Secular novels, that is. There were almost no Jewish novels
back then. It is possible that he phrased it as a request rather than
halachic statement because he did not want to impose on me some stricture
that might turn me off. Possibly we are now discussing chinuch advice
for parents of teenage daughters rather than hilchos Shabbos.

From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
> And yet, the Netziv spend Friday night reading the haskalishe newspapers.
> One of the things in My Uncle the Netziv, a translation of excerpts from
> the Torah Temimah's Meqor Baruch, that got BMG to recall a mailing of
> them a couple of decades ago.

> Add to the list of issues with rewriting the past that it can cause an
> artificial evolution of halakha.

Not Friday night and not maskilishe papers.

I have a copy of the letter that was sent out by the Lakewood Cheder
School, recalling the book <<My Uncle the Netziv>> which it had sent out
as a fundraiser. The letter does not say what is wrong with the book. All
it says is, <<It does not correctly portray the Netziv, his hashkafos,
kedusha, and yiras shamayim as related to us by his revered talmidim,
the ones who knew him best.>>

There seems to be a little dig there at the Torah Temima, R' Baruch
Epstein, who was the Netziv's nephew and also a ben bayis in the Netziv's
home and of course a talmid of the Netziv in the Volozhin yeshiva. But
apparently because he thought his uncle was human, a very great man but
still human, he somehow didn't <<really>> know his uncle. After the death
of his first wife, the Netziv married the sister of the Torah Temima
(yes, married his niece), thereupon becoming not only the uncle but
also the brother-in-law of the TT. Who nevertheless never really knew
his uncle/brother-in-law, according to Lakewood.

My father (R' Nachman Bulman) wrote a haskama for the book My Uncle the
Netziv, which is a translation (by Moshe Dombey) of parts of the TT's
memoirs, called in Hebrew <<Mekor Baruch.>> The book came out in 1988. To
quote part of my father's letter, which is the first page of the book:

> The experience of Torah life derives first and foremost from Torah
> learning. But the impact of Torah learning is immeasurably richer when
> the lives of living Sifrei Torah, of Torah Sages, become educative models
> for our people. Further, such lives are vital links in the chain of Jewish
> historical knowledge. Mekor Baruch is a matchless compendium of biography,
> memoirs, and lore....A glowing portrayal of Volozhin and its last central
> figure, the venerable Netziv, is a major part of the work....

I ran into a friend of mine in Brooklyn shortly after Lakewood recalled
the book, and he asked me, <<How could your father have gotten mixed up
in something like this, to write a haskama for a treif book? How could
he have made such a mistake?>>

At that point I had no idea who the Netziv was and had never heard of
the book or of the Lakewood recall, but I knew my father. <<If my father
gave a haskama I guarantee you the book is one hundred percent kosher
and it is Lakewood that has made the mistake>> was my instant reply.

I called my father up and asked him for the lowdown. He said that
some people in Lakewood were upset because the TT said his uncle read
newspapers, but it was because Lakewood was unfamiliar with the papers
mentioned in the book. My father actually laughed out loud as he told
me this. <<Do they think the Netziv was reading the New York Times?! He
was reading the equivalent of the Jewish Observer!>>

(The other thing that upset Lakewood, according to my father, was the
book's portrayal of the Netziv's first wife as a woman who loved to
learn and had seforim piled high on her kitchen table. My father was
amused by this, too. <<We never had learned women in our history!?>>)

I will quote a couple of paragraphs from My Uncle the Netziv, to give
the flavor of the book and of the humanity, the depth and breadth of
the Netziv's personality.

    He used to say that he considered the newspapers like greetings
    from the entire world and therefore waited expectantly for their
    arrival. [They were weeklies that arrived on Friday.] He would
    not look at the paper Friday night as that time was set aside for
    reviewing [his Torah learning]. He would save his perusal of the
    paper for Shabbos morning [after kiddush].

    It upset him greatly when one newspaper slandered another....My
    uncle's wrath was particularly provoked by his favorite papers--the
    Magid and Levanon--who could not seem to talk about each other with
    any sense of dignity and derech eretz....The owner of the Levanon,
    Yechiel Brill, had unilaterally decided that his paper would be the
    sole voice of the rabbinical community and Torah outlook on all the
    issues of the day....to his great chagrin, he found out that many
    rabbonim and members of the Torah community were also avid readers
    of his arch rival paper, the Magid...

The Levanon and the Magid were both Torah publications. So no, the
Netziv's Shabbos relaxation did not consist of reading maskilishe

I recently heard, by the way, that My Uncle the Netziv is once again
being sold openly in Lakewood seforim stores (apparently it has been
reprinted) and no one remembers that old controversy anymore. They
will sell you the book without putting it in a plain brown wrapper,
and I wouldn't be surprised if some people read the book on Shabbos.

-Toby Katz


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