Avodah Mailing List

Volume 38: Number 85

Mon, 19 Oct 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2020 19:23:06 -0400
Re: [Avodah] forms of teshuvah

On Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 11:57:21PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> > Of these four, the first is what we consider standard teshuvah and
> > the second is going above and beyond. The third and fourth are not -
> > and should not be - practiced today. The Vilna Gaon's brother (Ma'alos
> > Ha-Torah, introduction) makes clear that we cannot undergo these harsh
> > forms of teshuvah in our time (his time, even more so in our time)
> > and emerge physically and religiously healthy. Instead, he recommends
> > intense Torah study.

> what is the nature of the paradigm change claimed by the Ma'alos Ha-Torah?

I don't know if he says what changed.

But you're comparing Chasidei Ashkenaz during the Middle Ages to Jews
living after the Enlightenment. A whole different attitude toward man
and sin swept the west in between. Changing how people would respond
to self-flagellation.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Worrying is like a rocking chair:
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   it gives you something to do for a while,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but in the end it gets you nowhere.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2020 19:32:11 -0400
Re: [Avodah] What will be with Simchas Torah

On Thu, Oct 01, 2020 at 11:12:27PM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> Instead, I will reiterate and strengthen my first comment: Does anyone
> explicitly say that this siyum is on the public laining? Perhaps this siyum
> (Simchas Torah) is really on our accomplishment of having completed a full
> cycle of Shnayim Mikra! And if so, then this year's Simchas Torah is as
> genuine as ever, at least for those people who continued learning even when
> the shuls were closed.

I argued that the fact is, we daven with the Seifer Torah we lein
from, not the Chumash (or digital device) we learned 2M1T from. And we
celebrate with Chasan Torah and Chasan Bereishis -- the last and first
people called up for an aliyah in each cycle.

> In fact, I'll note that when we have a regular Siyum, we generally have the
> Mesayem learn his final piece, and that leads to the celebration. We might
> begin by sitting down and making Hamotzi, but always, the learning precedes
> the celebration...

The learning precedes the se'udah. As it is supposed to on Simchas Torah.
The ubiquitous pre-leining qiddush evolved (1) only after the dancing
and leining ran after chatzos, causing halachic problems with facting
all morning; (2) very late altogether in the development of ST. Perhaps
even not until the 20th cent. So how can you say it's a defining feature
of the intent behind its establishment, perhaps a millennium earlier?

> Once upon a time, I did learn Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum regularly. But I
> was young, and still in yeshiva, and didn't appreciate the Aramaic, and I
> gave up on it...

FWIW, I did 2M1Hirsch for some years. Then I found the Metzudah Translation
of the targum on line. So I went to reading a translation of the targum,
followed by a rishon who gives peshat. This year -- Seforno. (I fell in love
with his Other-Focused Orthodoxy intro in Kavvanas haTorah. I translated
what was for me the maney quote at

> Another example that I noticed a few days ago: I should have figured this
> out decades ago, from the word "yalfinan" ("we learn"), but it was not
> until I saw Onkelos on Devarim 33:10 that it dawned on me that "ulpan" -
> the place where olim learn Hebrew - is an Aramaic word!

The irony is delicious!

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Rescue me from the desire to win every
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   argument and to always be right.
Author: Widen Your Tent                 - Rav Nassan of Breslav
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                 Likutei Tefilos 94:964

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2020 19:20:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Vegan Restaurant Without Hashgacha

On Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 08:14:40AM -0400, Prof. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> From today's OU kosher halacha yomis
> A. No. Rolls may contain non-kosher oils, stabilizers and emulsifiers.

It depends on why they're vegan. Those motivated by Eastern Religions
are maqpidim not only on miniscule ingrediants, but also many care about
vegan keilim. Certainly to the point that I would think stam keilim
einam ben yoman is a safe assumption.

E.g. see

It is true that "certified vegan" <vegan.org> doesn't go that far,
but some smaller cetification agencies like V Label do

So, I am not sure why the OU makes such a pessimistic blanket statement
about all vegans. I would have gone by spelling out that you would need
to be a very savy consumer to know what they mean by "vegan". And otherwise
the word alone doesn't tell you anything.

Or explain why even the die-hard vegans aren't trying to check for
everything we do.

Because if saying you're "very very vegan" when you're not is a risk
to business, I would want to see an argument about why the claim isn't
in principle sufficient, or pragmatically hard to make use of.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 It is a glorious thing to be indifferent to
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   suffering, but only to one's own suffering.
Author: Widen Your Tent                    -Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 07:43:49 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Analogies

R' Joel Rich asked:

> From the RCBC (Rabbinic Council of Bergen County): Just as our
> exile from Israel was intended as punishment, but has become
> comfortable and even preferable to many, the same may be said
> about our exile from shul and yeshiva.
> Question-What priority (resources/time) should/do the American
> orthodox community (and its leadership) spend on thinking about
> the first part of this statement? Does the analogy resonate with
> them?

The analogy certainly resonates with me. Whenever I talk about the benefits
I experienced in the spring while the shuls were closed, I make sure to
point out that it is merely a silver lining in the cloud, and it is *not*
the way we are meant to be. Along similar lines, whenever I decry those who
violate The Rules in order to hold otherwise-forbidden minyanim or shiurim,
I am careful to add that I wish I was as devoted to these things as they

But if you are trying to quantify a specific prioritization level for
thinking about this, I believe the search to be fultile. Suffice it to say
that it is important; to ask *how* important is like trying to prioritize a
tzedaka that you identify with very closely even though it is
geographically distant versus one that merely happens to be very local. The
question does have an answer, but you won't find it with mathematics.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 5
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 08:18:17 +0000
[Avodah] Fishy Story: Purchasing Fish from a Store without

Please see the article at


A Fishy Story: Purchasing Fish from a Store without Kosher Certification -
Jewish Action<https://jewishaction.com/food/kashrut/a-fishy-story-purchasing-fish-from-a-store-without-kosher-certification/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&;utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=shsh%20Bereshit%205781%20old%20template%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=32658320&spUserID=MjM3MTAxNzY3NzIS1&spJobID=1803712920&spReportId=MTgwMzcxMjkyMAS2>
Guidelines from Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, the OU Kosher fish expert

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Message: 6
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2020 23:23:52 -0400
[Avodah] Toho VaVohu

I heard somewhere this week that Null and Void is a translation of Tohu 
and Vohu. Has anyone else ever seen or heard this? Wish I could remember 
from whom I heard it!



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Message: 7
From: Joseph Kaplan
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2020 10:14:45 -0400
[Avodah] Shemini Atzeres as a time for Hislamdus

I was the chaver Micha referred to in his lengthy explanation of his quote
from Rav Wolbe about hislamdus which references  the Rambam?s full
statement about a father not teaching his daughter Torah.  

Minha thinks it?s about the ability of ?picking the elements they accept out of the ones
they don't.? That?s not what concerned me at all not do I think that was my failing. Rather, i was concerned with history and educational techniques. 

By history, I mean that I know what an obstacle the Ramban?s statement was
to those who fought hard ? and in my circles fought successfully ? to get
to a stage where the level of Torah taught to women is equivalent, it
almost equivalent, to that taught to men. It was hard and it took a long
time. The non-O jews That Micha refers to weren?t, I guess, clued into that
history and thus could easily slough off the statement. Those of us who are
could not, and it has little to do with picking out elements. 

As for educational techniques, I?ll use an analogy. (As all analogies, this one is imperfect. But I think close enough. Feel free to disagree.)

A literature professor is making a point about fiction writing and chooses
as his text a section from Huck Finn in which the word ?nigger? is used
several times. The use of that word is not relevant to the point being made
and the professor makes no comment at all about it. I believe the teacher
made a serious error. He didn?t have to spend the lecture on it. But he did
have to recognize it and, at the very least, acknowledge there?s an issue
about it that he?ll leave fir another day. 

If you think ignoring the use of that now objectionable word  was good
teaching in the English class then you should have no problem with the
hislamdus post. I think, however, both were errors from an educational


Sent from my iPhone

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Message: 8
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 07:41:26 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shemini Atzeres as a time for Hislamdus

R' Micha Berger wrote:

> The relevant factoid of the Rambam is that someone who cannot
> learn behislamdus, in a reflective way that aims at
> internalization, doesn't gain much from learning. A man may be
> a metzuveh ve'oseh anyway, perhaps in hopes that someday he has
> a good moment. But if a woman isn't metzuvah and cannot learn
> behislamdus, there is so little zekhus in learning without
> hislamdus, it's not worth the risk of turning it into tiflus.

Here's how I relate to this topic:

First and foremost, I believe it is an utter mistake to think that the goal
of Talmud Torah is the yedios that one acquires in the course of learning.
Rather, proper Talmud Torah affects one's neshama in some sort of other,
much more fundamental way. RMB calls it "hislamdus" and "internalization".
Whatever you want to call it, it is nutritious to certain neshamos, and
tiflus to others, and woe to the person who ignores the Physician's

In sharp contrast, to learn Torah specifically for the yedios, this is
learning SHELO lishmah, and is harmless. It's a very low level of the
mitzvah even for those who are metzuveh, and those who are non-metzuveh
don't need to stay away if it interests them. Of course, it is important
for everyone to acquire a particular subset of those yedios, namely those
that they need to be a believing shomer mitzvos. But if a non-metzuveh can
acquire those yedios in a manner that doesn't risk tiflus (osmosis from the
shtetl community, for example) then Mah Tov Umah Na'im.

(Footnote: I developed these ideas by noting that so many people refer to
Gemara as "real" learning, and how they discount the value of other sorts
of learning. For many decades I resented that prejudice, especially since I
personally prefer learning halacha and find gemara very difficult. But a
few years ago I came upon the idea that perhaps the goal of gemara is not
to *teach* us the *reasoning* behind certain things, but more
fundamentally, to *train* us *how* to reason. If so, the
gemara's methodology (a/k/a Talmud Torah Lishmah in general) would only be
effective for certain brains, and might be counterproductive for others.)

Akiva Miller
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Message: 9
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2020 10:25:25 -0400
[Avodah] OU Dairy and Vegan Ice Cream

 From the OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. I bought a tub of vegan ?ice cream?. It is certified OU-D. I know 
that OUD can either mean that the product contains actual dairy 
ingredients, or it was made on dairy equipment (this is commonly 
referred to as DE). If it contains actual dairy, it may not be 
consumed after meat, while DE products can be eaten after meat but 
not with meat. I contacted the OU and was told that this tub of ice 
cream must be treated as actual dairy. How can there be dairy 
ingredients in the ice cream if it is labeled vegan?

A. This particular vegan ice cream is labeled OUD because the flavor 
is certified dairy by the supervising agency. Apparently, the vegan 
company assumes that this flavor is DE and not actual dairy. 
Nonetheless, it is extremely difficult to make this determination 
because there are many layers to a flavor. A typical flavor is 
compounded from many ingredients. Some of the ingredients may be 
other flavors that are also made from multiple ingredients, some of 
which might also be flavors. An added element of complexity is that 
the various flavor components may be manufactured by multiple 
vendors, and each company may have a different hashgacha. When 
flavors are certified as dairy, the OU often finds it nearly 
impossible to track down every sub-ingredient and establish whether 
they are real dairy or DE. For sake of simplicity and because of the 
uncertainty, the OU tells consumers to treat the product as real 
dairy. In the case of the vegan ice cream, perhaps the manufacturer 
checked all the sub-ingredients and determined that they were DE and 
worthy of a vegan status, but it is possible that the investigation 
was not thorough and their decision to treat the ice cream as vegan 
was based on assumptions. Because the investigative process is so 
difficult, the OU would not rely on the evaluation of the vegan 
company without independent verification, which we are unable to do. 
For these reasons, we consider the item to be real dairy.


This email shows that one cannot rely on the list of ingredients on 
the label of a product to determine its kosher status.


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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 10:19:04 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Shemini Atzeres as a time for Hislamdus

On Sun, Oct 18, 2020 at 10:14:45AM -0400, Joseph Kaplan via Avodah wrote:
> Micha thinks it?s about the ability of ?picking the elements they accept out of the ones
> they don't.? That?s not what concerned me at all not do I think that was my failing. Rather, i was concerned with history and educational techniques. 

You cannot just edit the Yad. Once you edit primary texts, they aren't
primary anymore. You are no longer an evolution of the tradition, but
a revolution.

So, either you ignore primary sources that have implications you cannot
accept, and lose opportunity to use large chunks of texts as significant
as the Rambam. Or, you learn to pick out that which you believe is
mesoretic from that which you believe is an erroneous historical artifact.

(As for RSW's use of the text, that was back in the 1960s or '70s...)

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 It's nice to be smart,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but it's smarter to be nice.
Author: Widen Your Tent                      - R' Lazer Brody
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 11
From: Simon Montagu
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 19:04:43 +0100
Re: [Avodah] OU Dairy and Vegan Ice Cream

On Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 12:46 PM Prof. Levine via Avodah <
avo...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:

> This email shows that one cannot rely on the list of ingredients on the
> label of a product to determine its kosher status.

Without disagreeing with that conclusion, how does the email show it? It
shows what the OU *does*, not what one can or cannot do.

I remember once buying a sorbet ice imported from the USA in a supermarket
in Israel. It was marked OU-D and also had a "kosher parve" stamp from an
Israeli BD. I asked the supermarket mashgiach and he said there was no
problem eating it after meat.
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