Avodah Mailing List

Volume 38: Number 117

Mon, 28 Dec 2020

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Zvi Lampel
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2020 11:01:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] "Ha'od Avi Chai?"

I wrote:

> Reuvain was not present when Yosef was sold. Why not? Because it was his
> turn in the rotation to be meshameish Yaakov. But Yosef was also with
> Yaakov! It seems that although all the other brothers took turns being
> meshameish Yaakov, Yosef's role was to always stay and study with him.
> (Likely adding to the brothers' concerns).
> So now, in addition to the strangeness of Yaakov sending Yosef out to see
> the welfare of his brothers (who what, needed Yosef's protection?) is the
> strangeness that all of a sudden, Yaakov sends out to them not Reuvain, but
> Yosef!
My mistake. True, Reuvain was with Yaakov, not the brothers, at the time of
the sale. But he was with the brothers, not Yaakov, at the time Yaakov sent
Yosef to them.

Nevertheless, since they took turns being meshameish Yaakov, one of the
other brothers was with Yaakov together with Yosef at the time Yaakov sent
Yosef to the rest. So the main point, the rhetorical question, stands: Why
didn't Yaakov send whoever was with him, rather than Yosef?

Zvi Lampel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201225/d480b3c2/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Michael Poppers
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2020 12:56:59 -0500
[Avodah] Who sent the wagons?

In Avodah V38n112, RAMiller wrote:
> Bereshis 45:27 tells us that Yaakov saw the agalos (wagons) that Yosef
had sent. Rashi there explains that Yosef was sending a coded message, by
way of a pun, because when Yosef left Yaakov, they had been learning about
the eglah arufah.
>  But actually, in Bereshis 45:19, Paro commanded Yosef to tell his
brothers to take wagons. it was not Yosef's idea to send wagons at all. The
idea came from Paro.
>  Technically, Yosef DID tell his brothers to take wagons, but my point is
that it wasn't Yosef's idea. It seems that in order to send this message to
Yaakov, Hashem inspired Paro to command Yosef about the wagons.
>   Comments?

(As I briefly noted to RAM last night, I had the same Q this week while
doing ShMOT.)
From the earlier *p'suqim*, one would have said that Par'oh sent the
*agalos*, but RaShY explained in 45:27 as he did because the *pasuq* now
says Yosef sent the* agalos*, hence "agalos" in this *pasuq* cannot mean
what it meant when Par'oh was the power behind the dispatch of wagons.
RaShY (as he often did) may have been following Onqelos -- the *targum* for
the previous instances of the word was "agalan" but, in 45:27, is "eglasa".

P.S. From MG.AlHaTorah.ORG
<https://mg.alhatorah.org/Full/Bereshit/45.27#e0n6> I see Medrash Rabbah
explaining that the wagons sent by Par'oh never reached Ya'aqov...; and
Mizrachi noting this isn't the first time "vayar" actually means "vayishma"
(such that our attention moves from the wagons to what Ya'aqov's sons were
telling him...).  Also, FWIW, Sifsei Chachamim treats "agalos" as the
*k'siv* for the *q'ri* of "eglos".

Best wishes for a gut'n Shabbes/Shabbas Shalom!
and all the best from
*Michael Poppers* * Elizabeth, NJ, USA
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201225/de6ba295/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2020 21:47:57 -0500
[Avodah] Rameses or Raamses?

Since beginning Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum this past June, I've written a
few times about how it has given me insights into Aramaic and Hebrew. But I
must also stress how much Chumash I've learned! Forcing myself to enunciate
every single word has made me notice things that I never noticed when
simply "reading" (or even studying) the parsha.

Today's word (it's actually a place name) is spelled Resh Ayin Mem Samech

When finishing up the parsha before minyan this morning, I noticed in
Bereshis 47:11 that both the Ayin and Mem were spelled with a Sh'va. My
Simanim Tanach confirmed my guess that the Mem was a Sh'va Na, so the name
should be read Ra-m'-ses.

This surprised me. I'm used to a different pronunciation. The Haggada
quotes Shemos 1:11, where the same five letters appear with a Patach under
the Ayin: Ra-am-ses.

I was surprised to find that these are two distinct places, at least
according to Ibn Ezra on Shmos 1:11, who points out the spelling difference
and adds, "ainenu makom Yisrael - it's not the place of Israel," which I
take to mean that this storage city was a different place than where Yaakov
and his family lived. This is supported by the fact that this place name
occurs in exactly three other places in Tanach: In Parshas Bo (12:37) and
in Parshas Mas'ay (33:3, 33:5), all of which are vowelled like in Vayigash.
Note the context: Those last three pesukim all mention our starting point
when we left Mitzrayim, so it makes perfect sense that it is the same place
as where Yaakov and the family lived. The storage city of Parshas Shemos
happens to have the same five consonants, but there's no need for it to be
the same place.

Sifsei Chachamim in Parshas Bo explicitly says that the Ram'ses in Bo is
the same place as the Ram'ses in Vayigash (though I admit that he does not
say that the Raamses of Parshas Shmos is elsewhere).

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's view on this (in The Living Torah) is unclear to me.
In Parshas Shemos he says that the same area had a different name in
Parshas Vayigash. But his notes in both places try to inform us of where it
is located, with different suggestions in each place. And in Parshas Bo, he
says that the Rameses of Bo is distinct from the Ra'amses in Parshas Shmos.
(In Parshas Mas'ay he uses two different spellings which were probably
intended to be the same as in Parshas Bo.)

Frankly, all of the above is probably old news (a/k/a not news at all) to
most of you. The translators have known all this all along, and I simply
didn't notice. "Raamses" appears in Parshas Shemos, and "Rameses" in all
four other pesukim, as translated by:
JPS 1917 version (in the Hertz Chumash)
and RSR Hirsch (in Isaac Levy's English version)
and Judaica Press (at Chabad.org)
and  ArtScroll (in their Tanach)
(and, lehavdil, the King James Version).

The translations of Isaac Leeser and the Koren Tanach are slightly
different than the above, but (like everyone above) they use one spelling
in Parshas Shemos, and a different spelling for the other four.

Akiva Miller
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201226/d8a6b3cd/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 2020 09:47:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Rameses or Raamses?

Rameses is the country; Raamses is the city.  I assume this decision was 
made by the same sort of person who thought it was a good idea to name 
two children in the same family DeShawn and DeShone.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a *healthy* and happy 5781
z...@sero.name       "May this year and its curses end
                      May a new year and its blessings begin"

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 2020 10:17:02 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Where is the Molad announced for?

R' David Cohen wrote:

> ... and I doubt that it particularly interested anybody at the
> time the calendar molad was established to figure out exactly
> what meridian it would be precisely accurate for.  For the
> purpose of the calendar, it doesn't matter.  We only need to
> know if we want to translate the molad into an actual time that
> we can point to on our watches and say "the molad is.... now."
> But the only reason we'd have any interest in doing that is if
> we're using the calendar molad to determine our window of time
> for kiddush levana, and I think that the practice of doing that
> came long after it was established for the purpose of the calendar.

For us, today, yes, I agree that Kiddush Levana is the *main* reason we
would want the ability to 'point to on our watches and say "the molad
is.... now."' More explicitly, this would allow us to know the exact window
during which Kiddush Levana may be said.

There is another situation where we would want that level of precision
nowadays (but I concede that it is much less important because errors would
not involve a bracha levatala). Namely: Suppose the molad is expected
sometime on Shabbos day. For the sake of illustration, let's say 3 PM
Shabbos afternoon. But for us who are further west, the molad will occur at
some point in the morning. When Rosh Chodesh is announced in shul, the
gabbai will need to choose between "The Molad will be at 3 PM today" or
"The Molad WAS at 3 PM today", and only by knowing the exact meridians
involved will he know which text to use. (As I said above, I concede this
to be non-critical, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of relevance.)

But the *real* question on the table isn't whether or not *we* should care
which meridian the molad is based on. Rather, when Rosh Chodesh was
declared by the Beis Din after interrogating the witnesses, did that Beis
Din care about such things? It is obvious to me that they must have cared,
and known, and included these calculations in the verification of the
testimony of the witnesses. The logic is quite simple: Suppose the molad is
calculated to be at 7:00 PM, based on the Yerushalayim meridian. If someone
says he saw it in Yerushalayim at 7:05 local time, he can be believed. But
if he claims to have seen it in Bavel at 7:05 local time, he should not be
believed, because the calculated molad had not yet occurred. Similarly, if
the molad is calculated to be at 7:00 PM, based on the Bavel meridian, and
someone says he saw it in Yerushalayim at 6:55 local time, then he can be
believed, because in Bavel it is already after 7:00.

Akiva Miller
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201227/bfe35974/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 2020 15:44:58 +0000
[Avodah] "I Can Die Now"

The following is from the sefer Rav Schwab on Chumash.

Bereishis 46:30

??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ????????? ?????????
????????? ????????? ????????????? ????? ????????? ????

And Yisrael said to Yosef, "Now I can die; after I have seen your face that you are still alive."

Regarding this pasuk, I heard a beautiful explanation from my rebbi,
Harav Shlomo Breuer, in Frankfurt. When Yaakov Avinu finally met
his beloved son Yosef in Egypt after twenty-two years, during which
period he thought that Yosef had died, the Torah, in describing their first
meeting, tells us (Bereishis 46:29): -He fell on his neck, and he continued to cry on his neck.
Rashi (ibid.), quoting Chazal, explains that it was only Yosef who hugged and kissed his father,
-but Yaakov, at that exalted moment-instead of embracing his beloved son-was
saying Krias Shema. And then Yaakov speaks (ibid. 46:30): "Now I can die; after I have seen your face."

To explain this remarkable Chazal, Rav Breuer said as follows: During
the twenty-two years when Yaakov Avinu, dressed in sackcloth, mourned
and cried over what he thought was the loss of his beloved son Yosef,
his life was not worth much to him. Like the other Avos, Yaakov kept all
the mitzvos before they were given, including the daily saying of Krias
Shema. And when he said the words ????????????? ???? ??????? ?????????? ???????????????? ?????????????????? ????????????????, it was
not very difficult for him to offer his life for Hakadosh Baruch Hu. In this
state, he would not be giving up very much, as life was almost worthless
to him. However, after seeing that Yosef was not only alive, but wearing
the Egyptian crown on his head, surrounded by the trappings of royalty,
Yaakov's life took on new meaning. Now that he was reunited with his
beloved son, his life had become precious again. And it was precisely
at that exalted moment, when his life had taken on such great value,
that he offered to give it to Hakadosh Baruch Hu if the need arose. Now
he was really offering his most precious possession: his life in its most
exalted state! It was therefore necessary for him to recite Krias Shema at
that moment, and say - I am prepared to offer everything- including
my very precious life-for Hakadosh Baruch Hu, if the need arises.

For the record, Rav Schwab is referring to Rabbiner Dr.  Shlomo Zalman Breuer, zt"l, RSRH's son-in-law and successor.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201227/47df7be3/attachment-0001.html>

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 2020 18:03:47 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Vizhnitz Rebbe Asks Chasidim To Make Kiddush

R' Yitzchok Levine wrote:

> I have never understood this custom. The hours between 6 and 7 PM
> differ depending upon where one is in the world, so if Mars is
> controlling the world between 6 and 7 pm in EY, it seems to me that it
> is not controlling the world in Brooklyn between 6 and 7 pm where I live.

I don't understand it either, and this post is to explain why I'm not
satisfied with the answers I've heard.

RYL quoted an unnamed person who wrote:

> In addition to your question, if they really cared about when Mars was
> ascendent, the time would change by one hour when we move the clock.
> But by Chasidim, it remains 6:00 and 7:00. Therefore, they do not really
> care about where Mars is. QED.

And then he quoted Reb Zalman Alpert

> This has nothing to do with science. It's in the realm of Aggada and
> kabbala which has no relation to logical scientific facts.
> ...
> Those who are followers of the Besht, etc accept this at face value.
> Will we get a scientist to come here and tell us there is no scientific
> proof that tefillin shel rosh cause goyim to be scared of Jews? Sounds
> like a task for a psychologist. If this were a matter of halacha, the
> Rebbe would not waive it!
> ...
> Our MO community is fixated on science, which has very little to do with
> many of our foundational myths. But in Judaism that's of minor concern,
> as Halacha trumps all.
> ...
> By the way Chabad also observes this custom, and their last leader,
> Rabbi MM Schneerson, not only studied science in an academic setting
> but had an interest in astronomy, since his teen years, but he knew
> science lechud and Yahadus lechud.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think that the above writers don't
grasp my problem with this practice. My questions aren't because this
practice is inconsistent with science. It's because this practice seems
inconsistent with *Torah*!

I am a person who believes that each year, on Shavuos, there is a hashpaah
from Above that enables us to accept the Torah yet again. And this happens
every year, on schedule, whether it happens to be the 5th 6th or 7th of
Sivan. And it happens on schedule every year, whether the last time was 12
months ago or 13. And it really does happen, despite science's inability to
see it, measure it, or verify it in any manner.( And if you don't like how
I phrased that, then please cut me some slack and replace it with whatever
words you'd prefer, cuz you DO know what I'm talking about.)

Each time I wake up, I wash my hands in a very particular way. Chazal tell
me there's a ruach ra on my hands, and even though science can't see it, I
can be cleansed of it if I follow specific rules.

The Torah gave us halachos about Kli Rishon, Kli Sheni, and Kli Shlishi.
And we follow those halachos even though a scientist understands heat very
differently, and a chef defines cooking very differently. Halacha doesn't
have to follow science, but it does have to follow its own internal logic;
it follows its own rules.

Getting back to avoiding Kiddush between 6 PM and 7 PM, I accept that this
is totally independent of any scientific observations of where Mars
actually appears. And I can accept that it *is* something to be careful
about, al pi nistar. But shouldn't the implementation of this carefulness
be based on Torah concepts?

For example: For purposes of Tal Umatar (in chutz laaretz) and for Birkas
Hachama, halacha accepts the idea of a solar year that lasts 365 1/4 days.
Further, for practical purposes, halacha accepts a rotation of 365-, 365-
365- and 366-day years. And those years do not overlap precisely with the
rotation of the Gregorian calendar, which is why we sometimes begin Tal
Umatar on Dec 4 and sometimes on Dec 5. And we certainly aren't so
subservient to their calendar that we would skip a leap year in 1900 or in
2100, which is why there is a slight drift over the centuries, for which
days of December are the switchover.

So why on earth does this practice (about kiddush between 6 and 7) bow down
to each state government's policy on how to set one's clock? Even when
daylight time is in effect?!?!

We started Tal Umatar in the 1800s on Dec 3/4, and this changed to Dec 4/5
because there was no Feb 29 1900. So too, if one avoids kiddush during a
certain hour each week, then that cycle ought to repeat every 168 hours,
even if one's state chooses to observe daylight time. In other words, avoid
kiddush between 7 and 8 in the summer. This has nothing to do with choosing
science over Torah! It is to be consistent within Torah!

Similarly: It seems to me that if the avoidance of Kiddush begins at the
same moment in Boston, New York, and Cleveland, this is a capitulation and
surrender to the secular standards. In each location, the no-kiddush hour
might begin six standard hours after Chatzos Hayom, or perhaps at sunset,
or perhaps at tzeis. But does it really make sense that this hour would be
observed at different times in England and in France, simply because their
governments choose to be in different time zones?

(Note: Throughout this post, I've been working under the presumption that
Mars' spiritual effects on the earth are similar to the sun's physical
effects. That is, each day, their effects begin on the western edge of the
Date Line (whatever and wherever that might be). And then, as the earth
rotates below, different parts of the earth come under its influence -
first Asia, then Europe and Africa, and so on. But maybe that's *not* how
Mars works; maybe Mars affects the entire earth at the same time, beginning
at some point and lasting for 60 minutes. If so, then we need to ask "From
six to seven o'clock *where*?" and adjust accordingly (very similar to the
current thread about where the Molad is calculated from). I have no idea
which way Mars works. All I'm suggesting is that it might be worth looking

Akiva Miller
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20201227/887db108/attachment.html>


Avodah mailing list



Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >