Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 58

Thu, 25 Aug 2022

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2022 10:37:35 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Worshiping G-d Without Limud haTorah

On Sun, Aug 21, 2022 at 02:07:01PM +0000, Prof. L. Levine via Avodah wrote:
> The following is from Rav on Prayer, pages 358 - 359:
> In attempting to worship G-d without limud ha Torah, he is no longer
> worshipping the Ribono shel Olam. Judaism without Torah is "another
> religion," similar to all others, which have prayers, rituals, observances
> and prohibitions, and, in former times, animal sacrifices. The attempt to
> worship G-d without limud ha Torah is called elohim acharim...

These words seem to speak more to the period of the immigrant generations
(those who fled pogroms, the Shoah, or cam to rebuild afterwards) through
the first part of my childhood.

I would say in the current generation, myself included, the opposite
problem is far more endemic. People who know how and enjoy learning who
just can't connect to davening.

I have a trick I use for some parts of davening, but by definition it
only works retail. And after you focus on a few lines of a tefillah for
some time, to extract every meaning and chiddush (even if most "chiddushim"
are reinventions of the wheel) that becomes a new rote and I have to
move on to different lines.

A problem for tefillos that objectively need more kavanah all the time --
Poseiach es Yadekha, Shema, Birkhas Avos...

And so we have far more people with a seifer open doing chazaras hasha"s
instead of listening to chazaras hasha"tz than we have people who regularly
go to minyan etc... and don't regularly learn.

We have made Yiddishkeit so intellectual, it's hard to know what to do
with an experiential obligation like davening. Qumzitz -- that works fine.
It's a rare experience that I choose to do when the mood is right. And
it's a bit stronger on experience building with the music, instruments,
possibly a bonfire, that we cannot invest in doing twice daily (assuming
minchah-sheqi'ah-maariv is one experience).

Something I asked each of my sons-in-law to get to know them in as an
umcomfortable of a way as possible is how they would imagine teaching
davening more effectively than we do. Start too early, and it becomes
teaching a habit of running through meaningless sylables. (Even for
Israeli kids who could understand more of the words.) Start too late,
and the adult has few habits to work with, and little to know nostalgia
to use for emotional connection. And how powerful would even Kol Nidre
or UNesaneh Toqef be if each didn't evoke childhood memories?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 If you won't be better tomorrow
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   than you were today,
Author: Widen Your Tent      then what need do you have for tomorrow?
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF            - Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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Message: 2
From: Joel Rich
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2022 16:25:47 -0400

From the RCA Koren:
A recurring principle in the laws of the synagogue is the need to avoid unnecessary 
burdening of the congregation, primarily through delays of the service
when a good portion of the congregation will be forced to stand idle. As
such, when the congregation is awaiting the beginning of the repetition of
the Shemoneh Esren, there is the concern that there will be a significant lag
between the point at which most of the congregation completes their silent
prayer and the Shaliah Tzibbur beginning. While the pace of prayer need not be
dictated by the fastest Shemoneh Esreh of the congregation, those individuals
who might cause a delay at this point should be mindful to not overburden
the congregation by praying significantly longer that the average member. 
These individuals might include (a) the Shaliah Tzibbur himself; (b) the rabbi,
or any person for whom the Shaliah Tzibbur waits before starting; (c) one who
is part of an exact minyan of ten, and thus must be ready to answer before the
Shaliah Tzibbur can start the repetition.

Joel rich 

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 09:36:20 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Fwd: child convert

On Tue, Aug 16, 2022 at 2:55pm EDT, R Joel Rich wrote:
> Interesting. I wonder if that means from a practical standpoint that if the
> child says I don't really believe in any of this but I choose to be
> socially orthodox a la Jay Lefkowitz is the conversion still accepted? If
> so what does this say about the general requirement for accepting mitzvot
> for converts?

I said this already while this was lost in my "drafts" folder, but as
an aside. To spell out the thought:

In general geirus has a problem because we cannot read minds. If someone
not a qatan who wants to be a geir simply lies to themself about qabbalas
ol mitzvos, maybe because they are emotionally invested in their new
social group? Or maybe, say... geirei arayos? And then they report to the
beis din that they accept mitzvos when really it's about something else.

So, as we know from the case of geirei arayos, lekhatchilah we try
to avoid the problem, and not accept a geir who is likely to have an
ulterior motive that will motivate fooling themself. (Or outright lying
to beis din.)

This would impact what kind of qabbalah is required for ol mitzvos, and
thus what kind of volition is required.


looking at kofin oso ad sheyomar "rotzeh ani!" It works in two cases,
gittin and sales. In contrast to gifts. With a machloqes rishonim about
whether a significantly mispriced sale is valid with that kind of "rotzeh

There are two definitions of the word "rotzeh" (or "want"). I could want
to do X after having weighed all the pros and cons. Or, I could say I
"want" do to X, but I have other desires and motives that overall make me
choose not to. "Ratzon" as one desire among many.

In the case of a sale, there is definitely a ratzon in the second sense.
And the Rambam famously saying that a gett that is required by BD is
not me'usah with this kind of "rotzeh ani" because we could assume any
observant Jew has a ratzon to fulfill a chiyuv -- I would suggest also
"ratzon" in this second sense. (Notice that we talk about avoiding a
gett me'usah, not oneis.)

I am wondering whether the question of the youth's volition is also one
of just making sure the ratzon is expressed beyond devarim shebeleiv.
And that there can be a qabbalas ol mitzvos just on the assumption that
someone following the way their were raised have a ratzon. Even if they
have other retzonos saying otherwise.

Or maybe we don't have to get that elaborate, and go back to my first
thought. Beis din can only assess what is visible. If they cannot ask
because the window of time in which the question can be answered is
never known, then all they have to go with is action.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Weeds are flowers too
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   once you get to know them.
Author: Widen Your Tent -- Eeyore ("Winnie-the-Pooh" by AA Milne)
-- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 11:22:40 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Child Convert

On Thu, Aug 18, 2022 at 08:03:05AM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> If/when such a mess arises, then deal with it. It's not the only sort of
> mess that results from mixing halacha with free-willed choices. Meanwhile,
> denying this option seems very cruel to me.

That's not why we deny the option of asking them. As I said, we don't
ask a geir qatan about qaballas ol mitzvos because it's impossible to.

If the question is asked too early, then it is meaningless, the answer
is from a qatan who can't decide or accept anything.

If it is asked too late, you are getting their current state, and not
how they were feeling at the time the geirus became final. And a geir
who changes their mind is still a geir.

Asking on time is impossible, because you wouldn't know when they grow
that second hair. You would have to ask the exact moment they have
shenei sa'aros, or maybe you have an "entire" tokh kedei dibbur before
and after that moment.

You would have to ask after the fact how they were feeling a day or
a week or even a month before. And hope they weren't in flux on the
subject since the last time they were definitely a qatan/qetanah.

Your idea of asking was because that is more coice than seeing if
they keep mitzvos, given that they could be simply conforming to
expectation. First, the same would be true of any verbal "yes". If they
say no to a beis din, wouldn't they be ready to not conform? But more
fundamentally, their "no" answer would only turn them from geirim to
safeiq geirim, which doesn't help anyone, including them. That's the
more cruel outcome -- they would be expected to observed, but deprived
of some of the privileges. Who does a safeiq geir marry?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Weeds are flowers too
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   once you get to know them.
Author: Widen Your Tent             - Eeyore ("Winnie-the-Pooh" by AA Milne)
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 5
From: Joel Rich
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 17:26:19 -0400
[Avodah] Customs without explanations

From another list:

Poster- What might not be "appropriate" about an aveil who, absent aveilut,
would ordinarily daven on, say, Yamim Noraim, from doing so as an aveil?
Neither Rama nor any other source I've seen has explained just why it is
customary for a generic aveil not to daven on shabbat or holidays.

Me-That?s a great question on a meta-basis. What do we do when we have an
ancient tradition which was not accompanied by an explanation. Two more
extreme examples I can think of are drinking/ crossdressing on Purim and
having a chutz laaretz minyan on the second day of yom tov in the land of
Israel. From first principles neither of these would be the accepted
practice and yet the practice is ancient and accepted.
There are a number of approaches that can be taken in these cases. The
first is to ignore the old practice because we can?t root it in the law.
This is rarely done because it might lead to mixed dancing. A second
approach is to leave it on the books but chip away at it when possible- for
example limiting drinking on Purim to just enough to take a nap. The third
way is just to leave it as is and observe it as is.

It seems to me in this case the chipping away has already been done. For
example, the original practice did not note an exception if there were
nobody better.
To me It all depends how seriously one takes it. Putting oneself in the
situation to take advantage of the exception would be viewed as a good
thing by those who don?t think there was a good reason for the original
practice. On the other hand I doubt that somebody would say it?s fine to go
to a place a month before the new year that did not have a shofar and then
just claim that they were ones when Rosh Hashanah came around.


Joel Rich
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