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Volume 39: Number 56

Thu, 24 Jun 2021

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2021 18:02:06 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Alef-Lamed in a gett

Turns out the reverse question shows up in the Rama, EhE 125:16:
    If he wrote the lamed alef of Yisrael together, some say it is kosher
    when it appears in the tofeis (tshuvos haRosh). And in a situation
    of igun, one can be meiqil.

That would make a lo kol shekein for my case, where it was written
correctly even though the ex-husband never would. But then, we had gotten
there already.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 2
From: Ben Bradley
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2021 12:14:40 +0000
[Avodah] Dating of bo bayom

There is some discussion as to the year of the important historical event
of the deposing of R Gamliel of Yavne. I haven't seen any rigorous analysis
but keep hearing rumour of claims that it was within a couple of years of
the churban in 70CE.
I don't think that can be correct, and I'm going to plump for a significantly later date, of 10 to 20 years after the churban. So 80-90 CE.
This dating has ramifications for the other famous maaseh of that time, the
seder in Bnei Brak, with largely the same protaganists. Which people also
date as straight after the churban, also incorrectly I think, for the same
reasons I'll show.
 Here are my thoughts leading to this dating.

  1.  The age of R Akiva. Assuming, if you, will that his age at death was
  literally 120 as stated by Chazal, and given that he died in the Bar
  Kochba revolt in about 135, then he was born in about 15 CE. So he
  started learning Torah at age 40 in 55 CE. He was famous and had students
  by 24 years later at his second visit home, in about 79. The main gemara
  about bo bayom in brachos makes him a candidate for nasi if not for his
  yichus, and he seems highly unlikely to have achieved this status before
  about 80 CE given these dates. If the aggadeta about his age is not
  literal then he was younger than 120 in 135 CE and this would push the
  date of bo bayom later.
  2.  The age of R Eliezer at the time. He was a talmid of R Yochanan b
  Zakai before the churban, dates there are uncertain but unlikely more
  than 20 years before the churban.. He was also a rebbe of R Akiva, who
  as, above, was advance in his career by bo bayom, making E Eliezer quite
  elderly by that time. He was also not yet in cherem, ie this is before
  tanur shel achnoi, because he appears in a mishna, in Lod, in
  conversation with another tanna, explicitly dated at the time of bo
  bayom. So he was elderly but well short of his last years. That puts it
  well after the churban.
  3.  R Yehoshua, also a rebbe of R Akiva, is clearly elderly in the story.
  4.  R Shimon b Yochai is also in the story as the trouble stirring bochur
  who started off the commotion with his query and context was probably a
  teenager then. He died in about 160 well after the Hadrianic
  persecutions. Even if he was 100 at his death, which seems unlikely, then
  bo bayom has to be no earlier than about 175-80
  5.  Absence of R Yochanan b Zakai from the story, the previous nasi. Presumed deceased by this time, so again probably some years after the churban.

So, in summary, it has to be late enough for R Akiva's rebbeim to be old
and him to be a gadol hador, and early enough for his talmid to be very
young. The 80s then seems about right. If that's correct then they probably
weren't hiding from the Romans in Bnei Brak, because persecution was not
high in the 80s as far as I know
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Message: 3
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2021 22:38:49 -0400
[Avodah] Vayisa m'shalo vayomar

There's a word that appears frequently this week in Parshas Balak, and I'd
like to understand it better: mashal (often translated as "parable", not to
be confused with the homonym connoting rulership).

According to my concordance, the word "mashal" - often translated as
"parable" - appears only 9 times in the Chumash. Of those nine, only one
(Devarim 28:37) is not in reference to Bil'am. One of the other eight is in
Chukas (21:27, which Rashi says refers to Bil'am), and the other seven
(23:7, 23:18, 24:3, 24:15, 24:20, 24:21, 24:20) are in Balak obviously
referring to Bil'am. Apparently, whatever "mashal" might mean, Bil'am did
it better and/or more often and/or more famously than anyone else.

What's more, of the seven times it appears this week in Parshas Balak, all
seven are in the exact same phrase: "vayisa m'shalo vayomar".

Does anyone go into the meaning of this word? The usual translation
(parable) makes me think of stories and the underlying point of the
stories. I see that the Ibn Ezra on 23:18 points to two phrases that appear
further on ("k'soafos re'em" in 23:22, and "k'lavi yakum" in 23:24) as if
to say that those phrases are the mashal, whereas the rest of the speech is
normal. I'd prefer not to argue with the Ibn Ezra, but are those phrases
really that much more complicated than the rest of the speech? I think most
or all of his words were deeply laden with meaning.

It seems to me that all the quotes from Bil'am can be divided into two
categories. When Bil'am spoke with Balak about the terms of employment,
they used normal everyday simple prose. But when Bil'am was actually on the
job, doing what he was hired for, "vayisa m'shalo vayomar" and he used a
whole 'nother kind of speech. The Torah refers to this other kind of speech
as "mashal", and I suspect that "poetry" or "metaphor" might be better
translations than "parable".

In fact, on pasuk 23:7, RSR Hirsch sends us to Bereishis 4:7, where we have
the verb "timshol - rule over", and he reconciles the "rulership" meaning
with the "metaphor" meaning. But I'm still not entirely satisfied, because
in the context of Bil'am, the Torah's word "m'shalo" is singular, not
plural, as if to say that each speech is a parable with a single nimshal,
and does not need to be parsed phrase by phrase.

Another approach to my question could involve the use of the verb "vayisa"
here. If mashal was a parable, any verb of speech could work, like
vayidaber or vayagid. Why use nun-sin-aleph (to raise or lift)? It gives me
an image of a preacher (or darshan or maggid) who knows how to use his
voice to make a point. But maybe that's just an inaccurate cultural bias.

To close:

If the word "mashal" in the context of Bil'am never bothered you, that's
fine, and I sincerely apologize for taking your time; please do not think
about it any further.
But if it *has* bothered you, please let me know your thoughts; I'll
probably find it interesting.

Thanks to all!
Akiva Miller
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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2021 22:51:31 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Dating of bo bayom

On 22/6/21 8:14 am, Ben Bradley via Avodah wrote:

> This dating has ramifications for the other famous maaseh of that time, 
> the seder in Bnei Brak, with largely the same protaganists. Which people 
> also date as straight after the churban, also incorrectly I think, for 
> the same reasons I'll show.

The date I've heard suggested (probably on this forum) for that seder
is 97, during Nerva's short-lived reign.  The idea was that these were
the same delegation who traveled to Rome to try to establish better
relations with the new emperor; the story of them on the ship was on
the way back, and when they landed at Yaffo Rabban Gamliel hurried to
Yerushalayim, but Rabbi Akiva invited the rest to spend yomtov with him, 
since he lived the closest.

If this theory is true then had they flown they would have landed at Lod
and spent Pesach with R Eliezer instead.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a healthy summer


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