Avodah Mailing List

Volume 38: Number 88

Tue, 27 Oct 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Jay F. Shachter
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2020 17:38:21 +0000 (WET DST)
Re: [Avodah] 304 Days Per Year

> (* I know many of you were under the impression the two added months
> are Jul and Aug, but really they were renamings of Quintilis and
> Sextilis. Jan and Feb were added later. In Julian and Augustus's
> era, Rome had a decimal system -- 10 months for a total of only 304
> days per "year".)

I don't know that this reply belongs on Avodah -- except insofar as
the Torah requires us not to make things up and then proclaim them
publicly to be true -- but this is preposterous.  The Romans did not
aggregate 10 months into a "year" because they had a decimal system.
Everyone has a decimal system; nevertheless, even people who did not
engage in agriculture, or who lived in equatorial regions without
pronounced seasons, knew what a solar year was, and that it was not 10
months long.  March was originally the first month, February the last
month (although that was already ancient history by the time of the
Julian reforms), but the Romans did not have a 10-month year, that
notion is, as I said, preposterous.  Not even Danton and Robespierre
would think of doing something so idiotic.  The Julian reforms
involved eliminating the lunar month as a unit of time, replacing it
with slightly longer units with no astronimical significance (except
that they did not lengthen February, which they considered unlucky,
beyond the length of a lunar month).  The reason for the Julian
reforms is that the term of political offices in ancient Rome was one
year.  The pontifex maximus would decide whether a year should have 12
months or 13 months, and, instead of making the decision for sound
agriculture or meteorological reasons,if the pontifex maximus was
allied with the people in power, he would give them an extra month,
and if he was not allied with the people in power, he would not give
them an extra month.  The calendar thus ceased to track the solar
year, rendering it useless.  The Julian reforms fixed the calendar and
took away the power of the pontifex maximus to manipulate it, but at
the cost of eliminating lunar months as a unit of measurement.  As
always, politics messes everything up, then as now.

                        Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
                        6424 North Whipple Street
                        Chicago IL  60645-4111
                                (1-773)7613784   landline
                                (1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice

                        "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2020 20:36:50 -0400
Re: [Avodah] 304 Days Per Year

On Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 05:38:21PM +0000, Jay F. Shachter via Avodah wrote:
> I don't know that this reply belongs on Avodah -- except insofar as
> the Torah requires us not to make things up and then proclaim them
> publicly to be true -- but this is preposterous.  The Romans did not
> aggregate 10 months into a "year" because they had a decimal system.

Take it up with the Britannica.

   The early Roman calendar

   This originated as a local calendar in the city of [92]Rome,
   supposedly drawn up by [93]Romulus some seven or eight centuries before
   the Christian [94]era, or Common Era. The year began in March and
   consisted of 10 months, six of 30 days and four of 31 days, making
   a total of 304 days: it ended in December, to be followed by what
   seems to have been an uncounted [95]winter gap. [96]Numa Pompilius,
   according to tradition the second king of Rome (715?-673? bce), is
   supposed to have added two extra months, [97]January and [98]February,
   to fill the gap and to have increased the total number of days by 50,
   making 354. To obtain sufficient days for his new months, he is then
   said to have deducted one day from the 30-day months, thus having
   56 days to divide between January and February. But since the Romans
   had, or had developed, a superstitious dread of even numbers, January
   was given an extra day; February was still left with an even number
   of days, but as that [99]month was given over to the infernal gods,
   this was considered appropriate. The system allowed the year of 12
   months to have 355 days, an uneven number. ...

Or this page from Prof James Grout (U Chicago) Encylopedia Romana,
which offers dates, details, and primary sources:
Gut Voch!

Micha Berger                 The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpelei Tohar

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Message: 3
From: Sholom Simon
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2020 22:04:12 -0400
Re: [Avodah] simple eruv question

Yes, thank you, I did intend to write gud achis.

Take a bridge that goes over a local road.  Can we say that the side of the
bridge (presuming it is straight) forms a mechitza, and we extend downward
via gud achis?  Or do we say pi tiqra because we treat the bridge like a
roof?  (I think you are explaining this, but I don't fully get it).

(And thanks for repeating your "why" of "halacha vs reality"!)

-- Sholom

On Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 5:03 PM Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 12:36:51PM -0400, Sholom Simon via Avodah wrote:
> > What's the difference between "gud asik" and "pi tikra yored v'soseim" ?
> A gud asiq "pulling upward" an existing piece of wall that is near the
> floor.
> A gud akhis, which is what I think you meant, is "pulling downward" an
> existing piect of wall that is near the top.
> Pi tiqra is treating the end of a roof as defining the end of the space,
> thereby implying a wall. So, gud akhis doesn't involve the space being
> covered, and pi tiqra doesn't require the edge of the roof having a
> "lip" for a gud akhis.
> I recently answered on FB something about the "why" of all this. Since
> we're touching the subject, I'll see what people here think.
> Someone wrote:
>     Has anyone read an article on why halacha operates with concepts
>     outside of physical reality? For example the concepts of lavod,
>     Barayrah, ...? Did surrounding cultures have these ideas (such as
>     (legal) Halachic reality versus objective reality)?
> My reply, drawing from a philosphy of halakhah that I posted about
> here repeatedly:
>     I would say, before dealing with your question, that you are looking
>     at the wrong set of realia.
>     Halakhah is a tool for refining people. Therefore its "facts" are
>     human experiences, not objective realities. To take your example
>     of lavud: If something is enough of a wall to feel like it defines
>     a space, it defines a space. And if the soul / character shaping
>     experience requires a defined space, feeling like you're "in"
>     something, we wouldn't care about whether or not there is a gap in
>     the wall.
> :-)BBii!
> -Micha
> --
> Micha Berger                 If a person does not recognize one's own
> worth,
> http://www.aishdas.org/asp   how can he appreciate the worth of another?
> Author: Widen Your Tent                - Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye,
> - https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                author of Toldos Yaakov Yosef
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Message: 4
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2020 06:20:31 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Names of Months

Not only did Moshe have many names, few people called him ?Moshe? in his
lifetime. (His father called him Avigdor, his mother called him Tovia,
Bnai Yisroel called him Sofer etc.)

But it seems to me that he likely called himself Moshe, and therefore when
Hashem addresses him for the first time (at the Bush), He is teaching us
derech eretz ? namely, call a person what they call themselves.

Regarding the months is an interesting question because Chazal use those

You con?t ask about days of the week (in English) - Rav Hirsch writes in
one of his essays how much it bothers him that people use idolatrous names
for the week days.

On 10/23/20, 5:04 PM, "avodah-boun...@lists.aishdas.org on behalf of
avodah-requ...@lists.aishdas.org" <avodah-boun...@lists.aishdas.org on
behalf of avodah-requ...@lists.aishdas.org> wrote:

>Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2020 21:46:35 -0500
>From: Brent Kaufman <cbkauf...@gmail.com>
>To: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
>Cc: The Avodah Torah Discussion Group <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>
>Subject: [Avodah] Names of Months
>    <CAJDWUYuECD+vT7KdrEd29+vM6LV-EZg2SCQvuA7PCfM1pnO...@mail.gmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>Now that the ancient pantheons of gods have been brought up, can anyone
>give an explanation for why the we name our months after Babylonian gods?
>Why does Megilas Esther change the Hebrew names of the 2 heroes of the
>story to those of Babylonian gods? (marduch and ishtar) And why did the
>Torah choose, for our greatest Navi and teacher, an Egyptian name shared
>Paro himself- Ra Musa or Ra mes; the noun ?ms? meaning born, the first
>syllable being the name of their sun god, or born of ra.
>I mean, Moshe Rabbeinu had ten fine Yidishe names, yet HKBH wants him to
>known through his Egyptian name. Why?
>The Torah has taught us to be a very insular people, using the names of
>avodos zaros is even prohibited by Halacha.
>While I understand that these things bring tikunim to certain aspects of
>the world, I am asking on a more pshat level.

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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2020 13:51:51 -0400
Re: [Avodah] simple eruv question

On Sat, Oct 24, 2020 at 10:04:12PM -0400, Sholom Simon wrote:
> Take a bridge that goes over a local road.  Can we say that the side of the
> bridge (presuming it is straight) forms a mechitza, and we extend downward
> via gud achis?  Or do we say pi tiqra because we treat the bridge like a
> roof?  (I think you are explaining this, but I don't fully get it).

Assuming the bridge has some kind of support running along the side to
invoke gud achis, I would think both are in play. But you don't need that
support to qualify as a mechitzah, since pi tiqra would would on its own.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 6
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2020 16:58:31 +0000
[Avodah] The Definition of a Tzadik

The following if from RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 6

9 These are the products of Noach. Noach, a righteous man, was morally pure in his times: Noach walked with God.

A  Tzadik is one who gives everyone and everything their due.  A Tzadik is
objective toward everything; he looks at everything from the standpoint of
his duty, and not from the standpoint of his own personal interests. The
primary meaning of Tzedek is social justice;

When I once related this to someone while walking home from shul he said,
"There is no mention of piety."  I let this comment go,  but I should have
replied, "This IS piety."

See http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%206%20Fried.pdf

also writes on this pasuk

Tamim, on the other hand, is usually construed with halach and derech. The
primary meaning of derech is a person's development toward the perfection
of his own personality, his gradual progression from step to step. The
Tzadik who acts and performs deeds pays no attention to his own
personality. In the case of derech , however, the aim is the satisfaction
of one's self and the perfection of one's personality, which, accordingly,
includes also the physical aspirations. Tamim derech is one who remains
pure even when satisfying his physical aspirations.

Later on in his commentary on this pasuk  Rabbiner Hirsch writes, "It is
far more difficult to remain morally pure in an age of immorality than to
remain honest in an age of dishonesty."


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Message: 7
From: <mco...@touchlogic.com>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2020 08:55:58 -0400
[Avodah] Halakha Approaches the COVID-19 Vaccine

The article and its approach are incredibly upsetting. With a clear agenda
to justify mandated covid vaccination.

The authors attempt to bring proof from previous poskim on the smallpox

I waited in vain for the authors to point out that clearly covid and
smallpox are NOT comparable, because of their vastly different morbidity

The smallpox vaccine was mandated because of the small risk to vaccination,
vs the large risk to not vaccinating.

Covid is a risk for some (especially with preexisting issues), but not in
general for the average person.
(it is true that a tiny minority of younger/healthy people have strong (and
even fatal) reactions, but the number of these people is v small)

Do the authors propose mandated flu vaccination?! 
I assume not, because they understand there is a difference between flu and
And so to wrt covid for the average person.

(covid vaccination may be advised for the elderly and those more at risk)

It is against halacha to demand/propose a mandated administration of a
vaccination with unproven long term effects (and with government bias to
claim safety) for a population that does not need it. 

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Message: 8
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 14:00:34 +0000
[Avodah] Fwd: Halakha Approaches the COVID-19 Vaccine

> ?
> It is against halacha to demand/propose a mandated administration of a
> vaccination with unproven long term effects (and with government bias to
> claim safety) for a population that does not need it.
> ////////
For whom is against halacha? Local secular authorities? American authorities? Exactly which Halacka is it against?

Who makes the determination concerning whether a population needs it or
not? Isn?t it always the case that long-term effects are unproven until
people use it and  the long-term passes :-)
> Kt
Joel rich
distribution or copying of this message by anyone other than the addressee is 
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Message: 9
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2020 15:54:33 +0000
[Avodah] What Is Genuine Chassidic Jewishness?

The following is from Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer's essay Our Way that appears in the volume A Unique Perspective: Rav Breuer's Essays 1914 - 1973:

Genuine Chassidic Jewishness strives for Chassidus, which in
itself is a lofty achievement on the ethical ladder which the Yehudi
must attempt to climb. This is demonstrated for us by R. Pinchas
ben Yair (Avodah Zarah 20b): Our highest duty is Torah and its
study; this leads to carefulness which in turn leads to active striving;
to guiltlessness; to purity; to holiness; to modesty; to the fear of
sin; and, finally, to Chassidus. Accordingly, a Chassid is a Jew who
gives himself in limitless love to the DivineWill and its realization,
and to whom the welfare of his fellowmen constitutes the highest
source of satisfaction (see Chorev, Ch. 14). Thus, in the Talmudic era,
the title ?Chassid? was a mark of highest distinction ? and this is
what it should be today.

The so-called Chassid who confines his Avodah to prayer does
not deserve this title, as this ?Avodah of the heart? does not call
him to the Avodah of life where he must practice and apply the
precepts of Chassidus.

He does not deserve this title if he is particular regarding the
kashrus of his food but fails to apply the precepts of conscientiousness
and honesty to his business dealings.

He does not deserve this title if his social life is not permeated
by love and deep interest in the welfare of his fellowmen; if he does
not shun quarreling, envy or even abominable Loshon Hara; if he does
not earnestly strive to acquire those Midos  for which Rav Hirsch (in
his Chorev) calls so eloquently.

Certainly the mere exhibition of a certain type of clothing or the
type of beard worn or even the adornment of long sideburns does
not entitle the bearer to the title of honor?Chassid. These may be
marks of distinction ? but they must be earned to be deserved.

Even study of the Zohar does not necessarily signify the attainment
of Chassidus. If this were so, only a few chosen ones would be eligible.

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