Avodah Mailing List

Volume 39: Number 43

Mon, 10 May 2021

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: David Riceman
Date: Wed, 5 May 2021 12:41:52 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Moshe Rabenu got rich from the shivrei luchos


> That veered from our topic. We are discussing the maamar Chazal that
> says that Moshe Rabbeinu only got rich through selling the pieces of
> sapir he chiseled to make the luchos sheniyos.

You?re right that I confused ?shivrei luchos? with ?psoles haluchos?.  But I think that my point can still be salvaged.

What MR learned from the incident of the Eigel was that Torah is not a
priori.  There?s a two way dialectic between Torah and the Jews, and the
luchos need to be chiseled to fit the Jews and not only the Jews to fit the
Torah.	And this is sameah b?helko, that he was happy with the people he

 In fact this fits the very Gemara you?re citing, Nedarim 38a, which makes
 a heikesh between the psolet and the ktav, and says Moshe generously gave
 the ktav to Bnei Yisrael.  And, the Gemara continues, what is the ktav,
 pilpula b?alma.   So rather than a fixed a priori Torah, the luchos
 shniyos represent dialectic.  This also fits the midrash that the first
 luchos didn?t need to be reviewed the way Torah does now.  See Tzafnat
 Paaneah al haTorah Deut. 31:19.

There is a strand of Midrash which says that Moshe?s grandson was obsessed
with wealth (Yerushalmi Berachos 9:2, 64b - 65a in the reproduction of the
Vilna edition I have).	I wonder if that?s related to ?lo hamor ehad mayhem
nasasi? at the beginning of Korah (Nu. 16:15).	Several midrashim associate
that with the requirement that a dayyan be impervious to bribes, which
works either with literal or metaphoric wealth.  So maybe RSS was following
that strand of midrash.  But of what value is wealth in the desert?

David Riceman

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Message: 2
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Wed, 5 May 2021 05:44:18 +0000
[Avodah] tyuvta

The following passage in Chulin sparked my interest:
[Chullin 28a: Digest recipients, see
https://www.sefaria.org/Chullin.28a.13-14 for legible text. -micha]

????? ???? ???? ????? ?? ?? ???? ?
?"?: ???? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ?? ????? ????? ??
????, ???? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???, ?????? - ???? ?? ???
????; ?????? ??? ??? ?? ????! ??????. ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ???????!
???? ???? ???, ????? ???? ??????.

Perhaps I am making the wrong assumption but a statement of tyuvta
followed immediately by a mai havei aley seems almost schizophrenic
(roughly translated in English -- the gemara asks after tyuvta (total
rejection of one opinion), mai havei(what was the final determination)
and then the gemara is surprised at the question (which seems to be its
own question). It then goes on to present a new differentiation (mlika
[cohen pinching the birds neck] vs. shechita) which it certainly was
aware of when the arguments were being made prior to the tiyuvta.

Could it have something to do with the gemara actually being "edited"
over some time period (e.g. ravina, saboraim, geonim)?

Joel Rich

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Message: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Wed, 5 May 2021 16:37:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Moshe Rabenu got rich from the shivrei luchos

On 5/5/21 12:41 pm, David Riceman via Avodah wrote:
> But of what value is wealth in the desert?

As I pointed out on the first go-around, there were traders serving the 
camp, with all the luxuries of the world available for sale.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a healthy summer

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Message: 4
From: Chana Luntz
Date: Wed, 5 May 2021 20:21:38 +0100
[Avodah] Bonfires

RMB writes:

<<On Sun, May 02, 2021 at 08:51:06PM +0000, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah
> https://web.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/bonfires_mandel.pdf

> I think you will find this article an interesting read.

Maybe, if we didn't go around this circle EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Derekh Emori is only assur if it serves no other purpose. CS's rejection of
/any/ innovation aside, we permit the Shabbos morning sermon. (And no, I
don't really care whether or not you personally find them meaningful or

I think you are being somewhat unfair to RSM (who wrote the article to which
RYL points) as he concludes:

<<Is there anything osur about a bonfire on Lag Ba'Omer, or waiting to give
a son a haircut until he
is 3 or until you go to Meron? Certainly not. As I believe R. SBA has noted,
the opsheren provides
an excuse for a party that is connected with the boy's beginning to learn;
it could be done without
the haircut, but if people feel that it is important to give a haircut as
well, there is no issur.
Certainly no one who lights bonfires or celebrates opsheren has any idea
that the source of these
customs is extremely questionable. And after 130 years most Jews forget the
origin of customs
anyway and just assume they are old Jewish customs.. However, those who
studiously avoid eating
turkey on Thanksgiving should know that the origin of the customs of the
bonfire on Lag ba'Omer
and halaqa/opsheren are much more suspect.>>

Which actually seems very close to your statement that:

<<If people find sitting around a bonfire singing together to be inspiring
in their service of the Borei, let them.>>

On the other hand I am not so sure about the following statement from the
Times of Israel:

" On Thursday, hours before the disaster, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri
bragged to the Haredi radio station Kol Hai that he had successfully
prevented Health Ministry officials from limiting the number of attendees
over coronavirus fears. Deri lamented that the professional echelon at the
ministry did not grasp that attendees would be protected by the spiritual
influence of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the second-century sage commemorated
at the Meron festival.
?The government clerks don?t understand,? he said. ?This is a holy day, and
the largest gathering of Jews [each year].? Bad things, he suggested, don?t
happen to Jews on religious pilgrimage: ?One should trust in Rabbi Shimon in
times of distress.?

The definition of Darchei Emori as found in the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh
Deah siman 178 si?if 1:

?? ???? ????? ????? ????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ????? ??? ???? ???? ??????
???? ?? ??? ????? ?????? ????????,

...or a matter in which they go for custom and for statute and there is no
reason for the matter, there is to suspect it because of darchei emori, and
there is in it a drop of idol worship from their fathers.

The idea that trusting in a saint on his holy day protects and that one
should be somech al hanes, and not even a nes from HKBH, but one believed to
be brought about by the agency of a rabbi from two thousand years ago, in
the face of both medical opinion and security opinion (the latter reiterated
year after year) which say that allowing the numbers that go is dangerous -
seems to stray uncomfortably close to this definition of darchei emori.  At
that point it is hard not to see the parallels that RSM brings regarding the
attitudes of other religions and their pilgrimages to their saints graves
(indeed, the entirety of the non-Jewish world who have commented on this,
immediately saw the parallel to what happened in Mecca, and have reported on
it in that context - that is the particular gathering that the Ran
(Chiddushei HaRan Sanhedrin 61b) specifically identified as idol worship).
And bottom line, IF the medical advice had been followed, THEN those who are
dead would be alive today as there would not have been the numbers to crush
anybody, whether they slipped or not.  It is not about singing around pretty
bonfires, it is about taking risks that rely on nissim to not end in

Tir'u baTov!


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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 5 May 2021 17:51:48 -0400
[Avodah] Tablet: The Rabbinic Network


The article is about diagrams, so you'll need to go there to see the network
he's describing.

But the prettiest and cleanest picture is a connection map with such
hubs of connections like Rava, Abayei, Rav, Rav Yochanan, Rav Sheishes,
R Huna and the like.

Tir'u baTov!

    The Rabbinic Network
    Using new digital techniques to unravel foundational questions about
    the Talmud
    By Michael Satlow
    May 03, 2021

    A few years ago, as part of my increasing interest in such digital
    approaches (which often goes under the umbrella term, "digital
    humanities" or DH), I began to conceive of a project that would
    visualize and analyze the network of ancient rabbis. Such a project,
    I decided to begin by mapping a single interaction as presented in
    a single version of a single text: the rabbinic citation network
    presented in the Vilna edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Focusing the
    project in this manner has two advantages. First, among the different
    kinds of rabbinic interactions found in rabbinic literature (e.g.,
    rabbis who ask questions of other rabbis; rabbis who visit other
    rabbis), citationsor rabbis who say things in the names of other
    rabbisare by far the most numerous, making a good test case. Second,
    a full digital version of the Vilna edition of the Babylonian Talmud
    was freely available.

    What was most important to me, though, was that the focus of
    the project was on the network as a whole rather than individual
    rabbis. My questions focused on how the network looked and functioned,
    not on the roles played by specific, historical rabbis...

    A few years ago, as part of my increasing interest in such digital
    approaches (which often goes under the umbrella term, "digital
    humanities" or DH), I began to conceive of a project that would
    visualize and analyze the network of ancient rabbis. Such a project,
    I knew, faced formidable methodological obstacles. The same problems
    that stymied our reliance on historical attributions applied to our
    work: How could such a project be conceived when the manuscripts
    were messy and the attributions potentially unreliable?

    I decided to begin by mapping a single interaction as presented in
    a single version of a single text: the rabbinic citation network
    presented in the Vilna edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Focusing the
    project in this manner has two advantages. First, among the different
    kinds of rabbinic interactions found in rabbinic literature (e.g.,
    rabbis who ask questions of other rabbis; rabbis who visit other
    rabbis), citationsor rabbis who say things in the names of other
    rabbisare by far the most numerous, making a good test case. Second,
    a full digital version of the Vilna edition of the Babylonian Talmud
    was freely available.

    What was most important to me, though, was that the focus of
    the project was on the network as a whole rather than individual
    rabbis. My questions focused on how the network looked and functioned,
    not on the roles played by specific, historical rabbis...

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Message: 6
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 6 May 2021 19:28:53 +0000
[Avodah] Rabbi Zilberstein Ruled: Don?t Sit Shiva, It Could



Rabbi Zilberstein Ruled: Don't Sit Shiva, It Could Endanger The Grandmother
- Vos Iz Neias<https://vinnews.com/2021/05/05/rabbi-zilberstein-ruled-dont-sit-shiva-it-could-endanger-the-grandmother/?utm_source=feedburner&;utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+vin+%28Vos+Iz+Neias%29>
JERUSALEM (VINnews) ? Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein, the rabbi of Ramat
Elchonon, gave an interesting ruling in his weekly shiur regarding a family
who had lost their son in the Meron tragedy. The family has an old
grandmother who is in poor health and was very attached to this particular
grandchild. Rabbi Zilberstein stressed that in [?]
See the above URL for more.

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 7 May 2021 16:02:32 -0400
[Avodah] The Nomological Argument

The nomological argument isn't arguing that there must have been a Creator
from that feature of the universe or the other. Or by showing that the
Laws of Nature are so finely tuned to make sentient life possible.

The word "nomological" is from "nomos", meaning "law".

It is asking the question why nature even has any laws to begin with. Why
is there science? Why do like charges repel? Why shouldn't they sometimes
attract? Or repel, but in no predictable way? Or the elliptical orbits
of planets -- why is there a consistent law of gravity?

Turns out the existence of a Designer, i.e. a Personal G-d, could well
be the most probable explanation.

I just came across
which I recommend reading if you want more.


Big Think Edge

The nomological argument for the existence of God

Regularities, which we associate with laws of nature, require an explanation.
Tyler Hildebrand and Thomas Metcalf
03 May, 2021

The nomological argument for the existence of God

     * The nomological argument for the existence of God comes from the
       Greek nomos or "law," because it's based on the laws of nature.
     * There are pragmatic, aesthetic, and moral reasons for regularities
       to exist in nature.
     * The best explanation may be the existence of a personal God rather
       than mindless laws or chance.

   Here's a new version of an old argument for the existence of God. It's
   called the "nomological argument," after the Greek nomos or "law,"
   because it's based on laws of nature.
   Moreover, these competing theories face a different problem. Positing
   mindless laws of nature with no ultimate explanation just seems to push
   the problem back. Now we have yet another interesting phenomenon to
   explain. Why did the laws that just randomly happened to exist generate
   regularities, which are only a relatively tiny portion of the possible
   set of events? To return to our analogy, it wouldn't be satisfying to
   say that you got five royal flushes in a row because some mindless law
   just happened to guarantee that result. (Why wasn't there a different
   law, one that generated any one of the octillions of other possible
   sequences instead? Just a huge coincidence?) In any case, we say a lot
   more in our [62]journal article about why other explanations, such as
   alternative philosophical accounts of the nature of laws, don't do a
   great job of explaining regularities.

   One might worry that positing God pushes the problem back in exactly
   the same way: What explains the existence of God? Well, everyone has to
   posit something, and we can always ask for an explanation of those
   things. Because positing God is relatively modest, we think it's more
   or less on the same footing as positing anything else -- maybe no
   philosophical theory can really explain its fundamental entities.
   Another objection might be that we've just posited a "God of the gaps"
   -- simply positing God ad hoc when there's some gap in our knowledge.
   However, we haven't argued, "We don't know why laws of nature exist,
   and therefore, God did it."...
   We'll mention one last objection. Proponents of a multiverse might say
   that regularity isn't surprising, because the probability that at least
   one universe exhibits regularity is high. Some proponents of a
   multiverse are motivated by scientific considerations. However, since
   the relevant scientific theories (inflation, string theory, many-worlds
   interpretations of quantum mechanics) posit underlying regularities
   that generate and maintain the multiverse, we can simply ask what
   explains those regularities....
   One last disclaimer: Philosophy can be really hard. We don't claim to
   provide a proof, or even an especially strong argument, for the
   existence of God. Instead, we merely claim that this appeal to God has
   some important explanatory virtues and that, as a result, it deserves
   serious consideration as an explanation of why there are regularities.

   Though modest, this conclusion is noteworthy. As we alluded to above,
   scientific practice requires regularities. By providing a philosophical
   explanation of regularities, we are trying to explain why science is
   possible in the first place. Relatedly, many Early Modern philosophers
   thought that scientific investigation of the natural world allowed us
   insight into the mind of God. If God's relation to the laws of nature
   might be as we've suggested, theists should have a very positive
   attitude towards the sciences. Likewise, those who prefer naturalistic
   or atheistic accounts should at least be open-minded about the
   relationship between science and religion. This is not a new lesson,
   but it provides a further illustration of the fact that, while there
   may be no role for God or other supernatural entities in scientific
   explanations, this does not mean that science itself is necessarily at
   odds with religious belief.

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Message: 8
From: Jay F. Shachter
Date: Mon, 10 May 2021 08:51:42 -0500 (EDT)
[Avodah] Shir HaShirim 4:5

> Let me give you a concrete example of a Rov who clearly raised the
> level of observance and Torah learning of his baalei batim, and how
> he did it.
> When he first became the rabbi of his shul, he consciously tried to
> drive away anyone who would not follow his approach to Yahadus.
> When he saw women whose necklines were too low, he publicly said in
> shul, "Ladies, cover your utters!"  He was staunchly anti-Zionistic
> and made this clear time and time again.  He made it clear that
> married women have to cover their hair.  Those who did not like his
> views and approach to Yahadus left.  From the core that remained he
> built a dynamic Torah shul.

It has been 25 days since the above appeared in the Avodah digest.
For 25 days, I have been waiting for someone to explain the meaning of
"cover your utters".  For 25 days, I have been hoping that someone
would ask the original poster ("OP") what that bizarre expression
means.  I have been trying for 25 days to figure it out myself.  The
only explanation I can come up with (God Almighty please tell me that
I am wrong) is that this man is saying "cover your udders", and
mispronouncing it.

"Udders" is an English word that denotes the teats of farm animals.
It is only used when speaking of farm animals, specifically cows.
Apparently (God in Heaven please tell me that I am mistaken), this
menuvval is publicly telling daughters of Israel, who have come to
worship in his synagog, to cover up their moyshele in arondlokh, and
he is publicly calling them cows.  The OP, who calls this an "approach
to Yahadus", praises this menuvval (Riboynoy shel oylam, please
tell me that I misinterpreted him) for using this tactic, as a means
to "buil[d] a dynamic Torah shul".  It is liking praising a Rabbi
whose technique for building a shul in which people are careful about
the laws of ntillath yadayyim, is to tell people publicly to "clean
your paws".

Only it is much worse.  Hands are hands, they're useful, we need them,
but we don't love them, or feel any affection for them.  Women are
fond of their breasts, or they ought to be.  I am not talking about
American women, or Jewish women who think and act like American women;
American women hate their breasts.  American women hate their whole
bodies, American women go about from morning till night believing that
they are ugly.  But Jewish women, who have not been damaged by Western
attitudes toward femininity, like their breasts, because they feed
your children, which is the most important thing in the world, and
they hold your marriage together, which is the second most important
thing in the world, because your husband likes them, and you like that
your husband likes them, so that works out well.  This combination of
the maternal and the erotic gives them an affective valence that your
hands or your elbows or your teeth do not have.  Plus you did not have
them when you were a child, and you waited so long for them, and you
were so happy when you finally got them.  And now you are in synagog,
where you don't even have to go, but you go because you love God, and
you love His Torah, and maybe your parents did not teach you how to
dress according to the standards of a society you do not live in and
have never seen, but still you have come to synagog, where some
menuvval, who somehow became the Rabbi of the synagog, is publicly
talking about your breasts, and using them to call you a farm animal
(please God tell me that I am mistaken).

I am not going to say, "Why does he even notice?", or something frum
like that.  Of course he notices.  I, too, am a man, and it is my
nature to notice women's breasts, I am as the Holy One, blessed be He,
made me.  I look away when I have to, and I don't hate myself -- or
anyone else -- for having noticed.  Maybe this menuvval hates himself
for noticing, and he projects his self-hatred onto the people whom he
notices, and he publicly blames them for sticking their tits in his
face, and he calls them cows.  This notion of projecting your
self-hatred onto others, is not Adlerian psychobabble; it is a
Talmudic insight, found in Qiddushin 70b: "kol happosel, bmumo

"Kol happposel, bmumo posel" is a description, not an explanation.
Our Sages rarely -- or never, I can think of no counterexamples --
proposed psychodynamic explanations for human conduct.  We can get
along fine without them.  Postulating the existence of a Yetzer
Hattov, and a Yetzer Hara`, was as far as they went.  But even if we
could explain this man, and understand him, it would make no
difference.  Understanding why he does what he does, does not make him
less of a menuvval.  And even if I could understand the OP (who
praises this man, and admires him, and defends him), it would not
change my moral judgement of him.

The OP is also factually incorrect, when he describes the tactic of
publicly insulting, and dehumanizing, and humiliating, women in his
synagog, by calling public attention to their incompletely covered
breasts, and calling them "udders", and driving away from his synagog,
not only the women whom he insulted, but also, anyone of sensitivity
who witnessed him insulting them, and then focusing his efforts only
on the people who did not leave, as an effective tactic for building
"a dynamic Torah shul".  A more effective tactic for building a
dynamic Torah shul would have been to bring his congregants to the
Torah without driving them away.  He could then build his dynamic
Torah shul, starting with a much larger group.

But even if it is an effective tactic -- even if it is the most
effective tactic -- it is wrong to employ it.  It violates the
halakhoth of tokhaxa.  Hilkhoth De`oth 6:7 recites in pertinent part:
"hammokhiax eth xavero -- beyn bidvarim shebeyno lveyno, beyn bidvarim
shebeyno lveyn hammaqom -- tzarikh lhokhixo beyno lveyn `atzmo,
viydabber lo bnaxath, uvilshon rakkah".  To build up a dynamic Torah
shul thru the violation of this halakha, is a mitzva habba'ah
b`averah.  C'est pire qu'une faute, c'est un crime.

Moreover, the OP, and the menuvval whom he publicly praises, and
admires, and defends, have also lost sight of the reason for building
a "dynamic Torah shul".  Let us continue the passage quoted from the
original posting, that was begun earlier:

> ... From the core that remained he built a dynamic Torah shul.
> He began learning with a group of men who had very limited Torah
> backgrounds.  One of them told me that at the very start he would
> have them write the nekudos in the text so that they would pronounce
> the words properly.  The fellow who told me this eventually learned
> through Shas many times.
> His congregation truly had positive improvement in Torah observance
> and learning.
> How many rabbis will have the courage to strongly speak out publicly
> against practices of their congregant that are not appropriate.? Not
> many

The reason for building a dynamic Torah shul is not so that people
(specifically, men) will increase their Torah knowledge, and learn
thru Shas many times.  That is not the goal.  True, we do have that
passage in Shabbath 127a -- men say it every day -- "vthalmud Torah
kneged kulam".  But that passage must be understood in the light of
the passages in Qiddushin 40b. "talmud gadol, shehatalmud meviy liydey
ma`aseh" and Avoth 4:17, "... vkhether shem tov `oleh `al gabbeyhen".

The United States of America has two founding documents: the
Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.  Of the two, only
the Constitution is a legal document, from which laws can be derived.
The Declaration of Independence is purely hortatory, you cannot derive
laws from it.  There are Jews who think that passages of the sort
quoted in Qiddushin -- and all of Massekheth Avoth -- are purely
hortatory, they think that, e.g., you don't really have to say hello
to every stranger who passes you in the street.  But we Jews do not
have purely hortatory tractates in the Talmud, halakha can be derived
from everything in it, and those halakhoth tell us what is the purpose
of a dynamic Torah shul, and what is not, and producing men who can
learn thru Shas many times, is not.  Nowadays, when there is a whole
class of Jews, and whole communities of Jews, who live off of
violating Hilkhoth Talmud Torah 1:7, those halakhoth are ignored, and
downplayed, and obscured; but they are halakhoth nonetheless, and they
are binding.

Folks, I am not a tzaddiq, as far as I know.  I mean, I could be a
tzaddiq, and not know it, but I think that if I was a tzaddiq, then
people would be coming up to me, and saying, "Yaakov, you are totally
a tzaddik", and people don't do that.  Nevertheless, even I, who am
not a tzaddiq, know what the OP clearly does not know, and what the
menuvval whom he loves so much certainly did not know, which is that
you do not tell a tzelem Elohim, in public, that she is a cow.

                        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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