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Volume 36: Number 132

Fri, 30 Nov 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2018 20:29:32 -0500
[Avodah] Evidence of the Destruction of Sodom?

See https://www.sciencenews.org/article/exploding-meteor-may-have-wiped-out-ancient-dead-sea-communities
or <http://bit.ly/2KycxaF>.

I am including just a teaser. I intentionally ended with the note that
the researcher works at a Xian university, as that does speak toward
objectivity. We'll see what peer review says of the evidence.

Tir'u baTov!

Science News

Archaeologists at a site in what's now Jordan have found evidence of a cosmic

An exploding meteor may have wiped out ancient Dead Sea communities

By Bruce Bower
10:00am, November 20, 2018

Preliminary evidence indicates that a low-altitude meteor explosion
around 3,700 years ago destroyed cities, villages and farmland north
of the Dead Sea (shown in the background above) rendering the region
uninhabitable for 600 to 700 years.

DENVER -- A superheated blast from the skies obliterated cities and
farming settlements north of the Dead Sea around 3,700 years ago,
preliminary findings suggest.

Radiocarbon dating and unearthed minerals that instantly crystallized
at high temperatures indicate that a massive airburst caused by a meteor
that exploded in the atmosphere instantaneously destroyed civilization in
a 25-kilometer-wide circular plain called Middle Ghor, said archaeologist
Phillip Silvia. The event also pushed a bubbling brine of Dead Sea salts
over once-fertile farm land, Silvia and his colleagues suspect.

People did not return to the region for 600 to 700 years, said Silvia, of
Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque. He reported these findings
at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research on
November 17...

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2018 15:49:35 -0500
[Avodah] Weight of a Shekel

No, they didn't find a sheqel, they found something just as good -- a
beqa from bayis rishon, as in machatzis hasheqel "beqa lagulgoles". Just
multiply by 2 to get a sheqel haqodesh. (Ie a beqa is a plain old sheqel.)

(There apparently weren't 1/2 sheqel coins during basyis rishon.)

See <http://bit.ly/2SeSMrk> or

    The Times of Israel
    Straight from the Bible: Tiny First Temple stone weight unearthed in
    By Amanda Borschel-Dan 21 November 2018, 12:57 pm

    Volunteer at City of David sifting project finds rare `beka' measure,
    used by pilgrims paying half-shekel tax before ascending to Temple
    Mount, in dirt from dig near Western Wall

[Picture of weight, bearing the word beqa in kesav Ivri in mirror
writing. The caption reads:]
    A First Temple period weight measure called a 'beka' was unearthed
    in a City of David excavation in the Davidson Archaeological Park
    and discovered in the wet sifting project in Jerusalem's Tsurim
    Valley. (Eliyahu Yanai, City of David)

    An extremely rare, minuscule biblical stone weight inscribed in ancient
    Hebrew script with the word "beka" was discovered in rubble taken from
    excavations at the foundations of the Western Wall.

    Only a handful of similar stone beka weights have been unearthed in
    Jerusalem, said archaeologist Eli Shukron...

    Unlike several hundred years later, during this era, there was no
    half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in
    silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales
    in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was

    Shukron said in a press release, "When the half-shekel tax was brought
    to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so
    they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these
    silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the
    other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the
    half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was
    required to bring to the Temple." According to the release, the
    biblical shekel weighed 11.33 grams....

To give you an idea of where that stands halachically, the Rambam's (H'
Sheqalim 1:2) 384 se'or. A barleycorn is 0.044 and 0.05 gm, so the Rambam's
sheqel would be at least 16.9 gm.

Rashi (Shemos 21:32) says that a sheqel is half of a the ounce used in
Cologne. Which today we would call .5 troy oz, or 15.55gm. The CI holds
it's .51 troy oz (15.86 gm).

Once again, the evidence about shiurim from Har haBayis is below even
the Rambam's shitah.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When we are no longer able to change a situation
mi...@aishdas.org        -- just think of an incurable disease such as
http://www.aishdas.org   inoperable cancer -- we are challenged to change
Fax: (270) 514-1507      ourselves.      - Victor Frankl (MSfM)

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2018 15:26:21 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Bereishit

On Sun, Nov 25, 2018 at 06:37:28PM -0500, Zvi Lampel wrote:
:> This was already answered. The mistake people make in the more famous
:> Rambans that created the popular notion that he says everything is a
:> miracle is really the Ramban saying everything, even nature, is directly
:> from G-d.

: Ramban is not talking about everything. He is talking about the
: miracle of Hashem making Nature respond to human behavior (whereas
: otherwise he has the world follow the path of nature established at
: Creation). He does not mention whether Hashem does this directly or
: uses intermediaries.

Except that he calls it a neis. It can't both be Divine Intervention
AND left to metaphysical mechanics.

I mentioned that RDBerger et all never go around back to the first
Rambans they discuss to explain what they do mean after all. He does
deny teva in the famous comment at the end of parashahs Bo (13:16)
<https://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Exodus.13.16.1> (where he
refers you back to comments on Beresishis 17:1 and Shemos 6:2).

For that matter, he even denies teva in the sense of minhago shel olam:

   From the great and famous nissim a person comes to agree in [the
   reality of] nissim hanistarim with is the yesood haTorah. For a
   person has no cheileq beToras Mosheh Rabeinu until he believes that
   all our things and everything that happens to us are all nisim,
   they have no teva and minhago shel olam, whether in a group or alone.

And then, as he says just a bit later, after saying that everything fits
sekhar va'onesh, "hakol begezeiras Elyon."

Everything. Even the things the Rambam himself says later are left to teva.
We have to close the circle somehow.

Teva = nisim nistarim. Nistar through allowing patterns, minhago shel olam.

:> Which is not in contradiction to what I wrote. A minhag is a pattern
:> of behavior. Not a "thing". Teva isn't someTHING Hashem made that
:> behaves in certain ways and causes physical objects behave in certain
:> ways.
: I really do not comprehend this distinction--if Hashem decreed that
: it should be the normal pattern of behavior of an apple tree to grow
: apples, how is this any different from saying ?Hashem created the
: behavior of an apple tree as a ??thing?? that makes it grow apples?)

According to the Rambam, teva is the work of sikhliim nivdalim -- mal'akhim
and the active intellect. Hashem made a machine, and the machine runs on
its own -- except for those who can connects to the Reality beyond the
machine through knowing the Borei. (Moreh 3:18)

According to the Ramban, teva is begezeiras Elyon. Directly from
G-d. Neis. That's how it is in response to what we earned or what
we need. This neis is usually nistar, hidden in predictable patterns
(minhago shel olam) -- and those patterns we call "teva".

(I think this description of the Ramban is the belief most of us leave
yeshiva day school with.)

: Again, both RambaN and RambaM maintain that at Creation Hashem
: imbued the components ?of the world with their normal natures...

You say that, but I don't see it in the Ramban. Physics does not
inhere in physical objects, it inheres in Hashem's Will for His
Action to be hidden by routine.

: Rambam additionally talks about the indirect mechanism being that
: Hashem first created things/forces that produced these natures, and
: ?RambaN does not. But I do not see RambaN making a point of
: disputing the RambaM on this. ?He simply does not discuss it.

But what could the Ramban mean by everything being neis and gezeiras
Elyon if we were to assert that he does believe that intermediate sikhliim
are the gears and springs of a watch that usually runs on its own?

: But even if RambaN also disagreed with RambaM, I do not see why you
: should frame the disagreement in terms of whether nature is a
: ??thing?? or not. RambaM uses no such language. ?Nature is as much
: of a ??thing?? to RambaN as it is to RambaM...

Except that one calls it a product of the Seikhel haPoal, and the other
says it's all neis and gezeiras Elyon, even the things that aren't nissim
in the usual sense.

:> To the Ramban, the question of teva vs neis is whether the situation
:> calls for HQBH breaking His minhagim.
: To the Rambam, as well.

To the Rambam, it is whether the people invovolved have the yedi'ah
necessary to circumvent the action of the Seikhel haPoal.

: You want to say Ramban was mistaken in saying, without
: qualification, he agreed with the Rambam?

The context of the Ramban's statement is qualification enough. He is
saying that on the topic of whether hashgachah peratis is universal,
he agrees with the Rambam that it isn't. No more, no less.

Just as he didn't mean he agrees with the Rambam's that sekhar is
hashgachah, but onesh is being abandoned to teva. To the Ramban, a person
who deserves Hashem's aid in correcting himself will get oneshim from
Him as needed.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             A wise man is careful during the Purim banquet
mi...@aishdas.org        about things most people don't watch even on
http://www.aishdas.org   Yom Kippur.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 4
From: Professor L. Levine
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2018 14:18:44 +0000
[Avodah] Why Didn't The Brothers Tell Yaakov "Yosef is

The following is from RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 37:35

35 All his sons and daughters arose to console him, but he refused to
accept consolation. He said: I shall go to my grave, mourning
for my son. Thus his father wept for him.

(?His daughters? probably refers to his daughters-inlaw.)
All of them ?arose? to console him. They did not ?go? or ?come?;
they ?arose? to console him. ?To arise? in order to perform an act
implies that the act is born of resolution, an act one must bring oneself
to perform. Until this point, they themselves were immersed in grief.
No one feels so much grief as do those who must console a mourner.
To see one?s aged father inconsolable, viewing every cheerful thought
as a sin, would move even a heartless scoundrel to agonized remorse.
He would be too distraught to offer consolation, because he would be
in need of consolation himself.

But why didn?t any of them attempt to sprinkle soothing balm upon
the wound? Why didn?t they reveal to him: ?Yosef is alive!?? The answer:
because that would have been the greatest cruelty of all. In the minds
of parents, a child who was torn by wild beasts is never lost, but a child
who is wicked is worse than lost. Therefore, he who would not aggravate
the father?s grief a thousandfold would have to remain silent until the
day when Yosef would return and the joy of the reunion would mitigate
in the father?s mind even the crime that had been committed by his
other sons. Had they told Ya?akov at that time the truth about what
had been done to Yosef, Ya?akov would have felt as though he had lost
not only one son, but ten sons at one time.

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:39:51 -0500
[Avodah] Gradations of Lifnim miShuras haDin

Surprisingly, not a subject I've thought about before. Apparently, there
are different kind of lifnim mishuras hadin callings.

See Arukh haShulchan CM 222:8.

The SA (se'if 2) talks about the case where someone buys something from
one of 5 people, doesn't recall which, and each of them are tov'im for
payment. The money is held in escroe by BD until the claimants come to
agreement or Eliyahu arrives and sorts it out.

And if he is a chassid, he should pay each of them, kedei latzeis yedei

The AhS adds:
    And a chassid adif miyarei Shamayim (YS)
    because a YS does not want to be mevater his own property in a
    business matter, and a Chassid is mevater. (Shabbos 120b).

Presumably a YS is the person concerned latzeis yedei Shamayim (or else
I can't understand the AhS).

And this goes on to the case of the yoreish of one of the potential
sellers, claiming he would be patur even LYS (Sha"kh,
Ramban, Ritva.)

Whereas the Qetzos says that while he is patur even LYS,
    chassid, ra'ui lo la'asos kein mimidas chassidus.

So, there seems to be two kinds of lifnim mishuras hadin involved here,
and there is a nafqa mina lemaaseh: the YS who is concerned LYS, and
the chassid who is pursuing his midas chassidus.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
mi...@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:48:46 -0500
[Avodah] Baalus and Chameitz (was: help with 2 sugyot)

On 1 May 2013 (v23n74
I replied to a question by RAM with (in part):
> But I think the key here is the word "property". I suggested in the past
> that there is no such thing in halakhah. (With a probable exception of bal
> yeira'eh bal yeimatzei.) There is baalus, but that's a different concept.

> Returning to bal yeira'eh as an example... A son does not inherit chameitz
> from his father who dies while owning it on Pesach. The issuer hanaah
> means a lack of baalus. Even though it's the father's in the sense of
> being chameitz she'avar alav haPesach (for the part of Pesach the father
> was alive to own it).

> As is implied in what RAM writes, baalus is more like custodianship than
> what we think of when we hear "property". Which is born out in the word
> "baalus" as well. Baalus revolves around control and responsibility,
> not an abstract principle of how the world is divided up among people.

> My previous thoughts on baalus and qinyan, as shaped by prior conversations
> here, are at <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/qinyan-and-baalus>.

Well, Arukh haShulchan Yomi adds another data point -- CM 245:10.

Someone gives another a gift and the recipient uses a language of bitul
(bitul, mevatel, mevuteles hi, tivateil, etc..) to reject the gift after
it reached him, if it's metaltelin, the item is hefqer.

The AhS notes the connection to bitul chomeitz that renders it hefqeir.
However, he says this is no raayah because chameitz on Pesach isn't in
his reshus, it's only made "ke'ilu hi birshuso" by bal yeira'eh. And
that's why gilui daata is enough to get the chameitz out of his reshus.
But (citing the Ran, beginning of Pesachim), something that is mamash his
is different. The AhS concludes that bitul only makes the gift hefqer
because it's a gift, but if it were actually his nekhasim, it wouldn't
be sufficient.

(Now that I wrote all that, I seem to recall someone did along the years
mention that bitul chameitz only works because we're talking about
quasi-baalus, and not real baalus. But I invested too much to what to
skip sending this email now. And besides, I added another maqor.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
mi...@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org         - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 7
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2018 05:29:12 +0000
[Avodah] contact sports.

I know there is a debate as to whether the ability to waive liability (i.e.
Reuvain tells Shimon it's OK for Shimon to hit Reuvain) refers to both
monetary and spiritual liabilities. I was wondering, according to those who
said you can waive the spiritual liability, whether that would also work
retroactively (e.g. would somebody escape lashes for less than a penny's
worth of damage -if the aggrieved party waived the spiritual damages after
the fact of the hit)
Joel Rich

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