Avodah Mailing List

Volume 39: Number 2

Mon, 04 Jan 2021

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Sun, 03 Jan 2021 08:31:30 -0500
[Avodah] Gartel (was Is it permissible to eat while walking

At 09:49 PM 1/2/2021 ,R Micha Berger wrote:
>The AhS (se'if 4) gives a reason to put a gartl on even if you are
>wearing a belt. The pasuq reads "Hakhon liqras E-lokhekha Yisrael".
>The gemara (Shabbos 10a) gives examples of such hakhanos. The AhS brings
>down this gemara earlier (se'if 1) and refers to it here.
>Putting on a gartl has become a traditional way to prepare oneself to
>meet the RBSO, and even if today's fashion makes it rarely necessary
>for ein libo ro'eh es ha'erva, the AhS believes the practice should not
>be stopped.
>And that's from the Litvisher poseiq known for finding meqoros for
>justifying minhag! I would guess that in Litta, gartelach were far more
>common than among today's "Litvish".

I recall hearing a story about Rav Schwab and a Chosid.  The Chosid 
took off his tie and used it as a gartel for davening.  Rav Schwab 
said,  "He should have left his tie on his neck.  He already had a 
separation between his upper and lower body, since he was wearing a 
belt. Wearing a tie is appropriate for davening"

I doubt that men in LIta wore gartels based on what the AhS 
said.  After all, in Minhagei Lita the author wrote that  no one in 
Lita wore their tzitzis out,  not even the Chofetz Chaim, even though 
the MB says one should wear them out.


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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 10:14:39 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Gartel (was Is it permissible to eat while

On Sun, Jan 03, 2021 at 08:31:30AM -0500, Prof. Levine wrote:
> I recall hearing a story about Rav Schwab and a Chosid.  The Chosid took off
> his tie and used it as a gartel for davening....

Yes, it could be that dressing fit for a melekh when speaking to the Melekh
Malkhei hamlakhim is more important than putting on a gartel if you are
already wearing a belt.

Not really relevant to whether one should wear a gartel when there is no
such trade-off.

> I doubt that men in LIta wore gartels based on what the AhS said.  After
> all, in Minhagei Lita the author wrote that  no one in Lita wore their
> tzitzis out,  not even the Chofetz Chaim, even though the MB says one should
> wear them out.

Mah inyan shemitah eitzel Har Sinai? The MB and AhS are very different
books. One of the more spoken about differences is that the MB is a
survey of acharonim who post-date the standardized SA page. The MB
therefore leans toward clean-slate theory. He doesn't give much weight
to centuries of accepted practice. So, the MB could say something about
wearing tzitzis out that no one did.

(Also, because he tells you the book is a survey of later sefarim,
there is no reason to believe he expected people to follow his seifer
lemaaseh. And thus it is less surprising that the CC himself didn't
always follow what was written there.)

The AhS is famous for finding how accepted practice is theoretically
sound. (When possible, of course.) If some hold a gartel is necessary
and some not, so that both sides are sound pesaqim, the AhS will almost
always side with whatever is being done.

Thus, the AhS's pesaq is evidence of what Litvaks held, whereas the
MB's pesaq isn't. It's a methodology difference between the two works
discussed on-list repeatedly.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 The goal isn't to live forever,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   the goal is to create so mething that will.
Author: Widen Your Tent
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 3
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 14:39:18 +0000
[Avodah] Rav Shimon Schwab on Chillul Hashem

The following is from Rav Schwab on Chumash pages 191 to 193. Note his message to the embezzler!

Living in Caius America, the malchus shel chessed, only strengthens
the Jew's obligation to create a kiddush Hashem. The Rav taught that
every form of chillul Hashem decreases awareness of the Divine presence
in this world. If the perpetrator is supposedly an observant Jew or, worse,
a so-called Torah scholar, then the offense is that much greater.
He would ask: "How can a person who has cheated his neighbor or
defrauded the government have the audacity to stand in front of the
congregation and recite Kaddish, a prayer for sanctifying G-d's Name in
the world?"

The Rav's greatest fear was of a chillul Hashem. On his checks, he
never used the title "Rabbi." He told me that he was always concerned
that if, G-d forbid, a check were to bounce, "Rabbi" would add to the
chillul Hashem.

Many years ago, a shameful scandal erupted around a Jewish
businessman who was tried for embezzlement. Influential members of
the embezzler's community approached Rav Schwab with a plea that
he do what he could to save the man from prison. Rav Schwab became
extremely agitated. He pointed out that the man's behavior, widely
publicized in the media through the printed word and the television
screen, had caused a tremendous chillul Hashem; the man had become
.a virtual rodef of Kial Yisrael, because Jews everywhere would suffer
aniti-Semitism due to his actions. He forthrightly told the visitors that the
embezzler deserved to sit in prison for a long time.

But he pleaded with them to give the embezzler a message: The m;111
should shave off his beard and take off his yarmulke when appearing i11
court or on television, because by wearing these religious accoutremenh,
he would be creating a new chilluf Hashem every day and would be a
living disgrace  for the Jewish People.

In  Selected Writings,  Rav Schwab   wrote extensively on the topic of
chilul Hashem:  "If one steals from a non-Jew, swears falsely and dies, his death does not
atone for his sin because of chillul Hashem (Tosefta Bava Kamma 10). Let us repeat.
The profaners and desecrators give us all a rotten name, aiding and abetting our
many adversaries and antagonizing our few friends. Therefore, no white-washing,
no condoning, no apologizing on behalf of the desecrators. Let us make it clear that
anyone who besmirches the sacred Name ceases to be our friend. He has unwittingly
defected from our ranks and has joined our antagonists, to make us suffer in his wake.
And -noblesse oblige- the more prominent a man in Orthodox Jewish circles, the more
obligated he must feel to observe the most painstaking scrupulousness in
his dealings with the outside world."

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 08:32:03 -0500
[Avodah] Can a besula become pregnant?

I remember once hearing that there's a chazal somewhere, according to which
it is impossible for a besula to become pregnant from her first sexual act.
Is this accurate? If so, can someone point me to that chazal? And if there
*is* such a chazal, does anyone argue on it?

Spoiler alert: The reason I'm asking is that I have found some evidence
(within Chazal) that a besula *can* become pregnant from her first act. But
I don't want to expound on that evidence pointlessly, so I'll come forward
only if there really is such a Chazal.

Thanks in advance.

Akiva Miller
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Message: 5
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 11:36:26 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Targumim from Sinai

About 11 1/2 years ago, R' Simon Montagu started this thread, exploring how
authoritative the targumim are.

This morning, as I began learning Parshas Shemos, I noticed that the first
pesukim contain the word Ivri (Hebrew) several times in various forms, and
in every case, Onkelos translates it as some form of Yehudai (Jew). In my
opinion, this is a very reasonable translation if Onkelos was trying to
explain the Torah to his contemporaries, but it is highly unlikely that a
translation dating from Sinai would have used this word. So I decided to
post this as evidence that although the ideas and concepts which appear in
Onkelos' translation might date from Sinai, the exact words were probably
his own.

M'inyan l'inyan b'oso inyan...

I wondered why I didn't notice this translation in recent parshiyos. It
turns out that forms of the word Ivri appear six times in Sefer Bereshis
(14:13, 39:14, 29:17, 40:15, 41:12, 43:32) and Onkelos *always* translates
it as some Aramaic form of Ivri -- "Hebrew", not "Jew".

It's not until Sefer Shemos that Onkelos changes his style. Never again
does he leave Ivri as Ivri; we are (or are becoming) a nation, and it seems
that Onkelos wants his audience to be able to identify with that nation, by
unambiguously translating it as Yehudi. This is true in Shemos 1:15, 1:16,
1:19, 2:6, 2:7, 2:11, 2:13, 3:18, 5:3, 7:16, 9:1, 9:13, and 10:3.

(After Parshas Bo, the word Ivri does not appear again in the Torah, with
three exceptions: Shmos 21:2, and twice in Devarim 15:12. All three of
those are in the context of an Eved Ivri, and Onkelos translates "Ivri" as
"Bar Yisrael." I find this to be a very reasonable change: If Onkelos had
used either "Ivri" or "Yehudi", then the result would have been ambiguous,
possibly meaning an eved who is *owned* by a Jew. By translating as "Bar
Yisrael" in those cases, it clearly refers only to an eved who *is* a Jew.)

Akiva Miller
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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 13:04:47 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Existing practice driving halacha

On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 07:34:51AM +0000, Ben Bradley via Avodah wrote:
> There's a recurring discussion on the list about the mechanism for
> existing Jewish practice being a source for ongoing psak halacha. In view
> of which I thought it useful to share an essay by R Hutner in Pachad
> Yitzchak on Chanuka, maamar 14. He posits that there are two distinct
> drivers of the obligation to maintain any given takana...

Isn't this a different topic?

Taqanos and gezeiros are dinim derabbanan. And the source of our obligation
here would be the source for considering a new halakhah as binding:
> the beis din concerned and the extent to which Klal Yisrael accepts and
> keeps the takana. Each works independently.

But pesaq is an interpretation of existing din. The AhS, noted for
his support of minhag Yisrael (as I recently noted yet again on another
thread), doesn't pasqen that married women don't have to cover their hair.
Instead, he talks about how sad it is that this is the norm, and dicusses
the impact of that norm on hilkhos qeri'as Shema. (Seeing a married woman
with uncovered hair isn't a distraction when the site is commonplace,
and therefore saying Shema in that situation is permitted.)

Speaking of the AhS...

I have been watching through this round of AhS Yomi, and I don't have a
clear picture of his position yet. Sometimes it seems that RYME supports
minhag Yisrael for "im lo nevi'im heim" or "she'eiris Yisrael lo yaaseh
avlah" type reasons. Collectively, we have siyata diShmaya.

At other times it seems RYME is resting on the authority of the centuries
of posqim who allowed the practice to flourish. Not directly on the
masses, but using common practice as evidence of a silent majority of
formal sources.

> However there's an important distinction in the mechanism by which
> each works. The beis din's takana works through da'as, ie the conscious
> decision to enact a practice. In contradistinction, acceptance of any
> given practice by klal yisrael works specifically without da'as...


The masses are the keepers of mimetic tradition. The second we think about
it and plan, it's textual / formal tradition, and requires the expertise
of rabbanim.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 A sick person never rejects a healing procedure
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   as "unbefitting." Why, then, do we care what
Author: Widen Your Tent      other people think when dealing with spiritual
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    matters?              - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 7
From: Moshe Y. Gluck
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 19:51:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Can a besula become pregnant?

R' AM:

> I remember once hearing that there's a chazal somewhere, according to
> which it is impossible for a besula to become pregnant from her first
> sexual act. Is this accurate? If so, can someone point me to that chazal?
> And if there *is* such a chazal, does anyone argue on it?
> Yevamos 34a.

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Message: 8
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2021 17:07:30 +0000
[Avodah] Fw: The Vilna Gaon and Secular Studies


The following is from pages 148-149 of  Judaism's Encounter with Other Cultures: Rejection or Integration?

Given what the GRA said below, one can only wonder why music is not taught in all of our yeshivas.

R. Israel of Shklov (d. 1839) wrote:

I cannot refrain from repeating a true and astonishing story that I heard
from the Gaon?s disciple R. Menahem Mendel.  It took place when the Gaon of
Vilna celebrated the completion of his commentary on Song of Songs. . . .
He raised his eyes toward heaven and with great devotion began blessing and
thanking God for endowing him with the ability to comprehend the light of
the entire Torah. This included its inner and outer manifestations. He
explained: All secular wisdom is essential for our holy Torah and is
included in it. He indicated that he had mastered all the branches of
secular wisdom, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and music. He
especially praised music, explaining that most of the Torah accents, the
secrets of the Levitical songs, and  the secrets of the Tikkunei Zohar
could not be comprehended without mastering it. . .  He explained the
significance of the various secular disciplines, and noted that  he had
mastered them all. Regarding the discipline of medicine
 , he stated that he had  mastered anatomy, but not pharmacology. Indeed,
 he had wanted to study pharmacology with practicing physicians, but his
 father prevented him from undertaking its study,  fearing that upon
 mastering it he would be forced to curtail his Torah study whenever it
 would become necessary for him to save a life. . . . He also stated that
 he had  mastered all of philosophy, but that he had derived only two
 matters of significance from  his study of it. . . . The rest of it, he
 said, should be discarded.? [11]

[11.] Pe?at ha-Shulhan, ed. Abraham M. Luncz (Jerusalem, 1911), 5a.


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Message: 9
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2021 17:23:00 +0000
[Avodah] Why do they break a plate and glass?

Yesterday my 5-year-old grandson Yisroel Meir Levine ask me the following question.

"Zaidie,  why do they break a plate and a g;ass at a Chasanah?"

A google search yields

The breaking of the glass holds multiple meanings. Some say it represents
the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Others say it demonstrates that
marriage holds sorrow as well as joy and is a representation of the
commitment to stand by one another even in hard times

I told him about the destruction of the Temple.

(I did not give him the cynical reason that I have heard,  namely, "This is the last time that the chosson gets to put his foot down!"?)

I had no idea why the mothers of the chosson and kallah break a plate as part of making tenaim.

A goggle search yields


An Old Ceremony

From the 12th to the early 19th century, tenaim announced that two families
had come to terms on a match between their children. The document setting
out their agreement, also called tenaim, would include the dowry and other
financial arrangements, the date and time of the huppah [the actual wedding
ceremony], and a knas, or penalty, if either party backed out of the deal.

After the document was signed and read aloud by an esteemed guest, a piece
of crockery was smashed. The origins of this practice are not clear; the
most common interpretation is that a shattered dish recalls the destruction
of the Temple in Jerusalem, and it is taken to demonstrate that a broken
engagement cannot be mended. The broken dish also anticipates the shattered
glass that ends the wedding ceremony.

In some communities it was customary for all the guests to bring some old
piece of crockery to smash on the floor. There is also a tradition that the
mothers-in-law-to-be break the plate?a symbolic rending of mother-child
ties and an acknowledgment that soon their children will be feeding each
other. After the plate breaking, the party began.

Does anyone have any more insight into the reason for breaking a plate?

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