Avodah Mailing List

Volume 40: Number 74

Wed, 09 Nov 2022

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2022 10:05:30 +1100
[Avodah] RYochanan RLakish and RElozor Asking Qs Rebuke

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, in particular your reference to YD 242
which I was unaware of.

There are clear and emphatic Halachot obligating a student to re-direct his
master if it appears that the master is making a mistake. The Zaken who is
competent in Halacha must bring a Sin Offering - a Shoggeg - if he
mistakenly believed it is correct - indeed a Mitzvah - to follow the Beis
DIns ruling even when he knows they are making a mistake, and therefore
eats what he knows is prohibited.

If we add Moreh Halacha Lifnei Rabbo to the mix as per Rbz ChL - we have
another dimension to RE - how could he permit RL to provide that ruling
knowing that it was a violation that RL would most certainly wish to avoid?

Was R Elozor disobeying the directive of correcting his master? Why did he
allow RLakish to rule on a matter that RE knew RYochanan disagreed with?
Should RE not have at least suspected that RY would want to know this?

The observation, which seems to be very true, that we more readily dismiss
a query or a probing question if it emerges from what appears to be a
mediocre student [and we ought to add, the willingness of the other
students/admirers to go along with and even support and defend a less than
satisfactory answer] is something that the Torah is vigorously opposed to;
it hamstrings the emergence of truth, it violates the prohibition of
Chanufah. What is worse is that the dismissal prevents them from properly
thinking about the challenge/query.

Perhaps this was REs way of testing and positively rebuking RLakish ?see
you are dismissing an argument that you would give greater consideration to
if only you knew it came from RY.? Perhaps the rebuke also reflected that
RL did not give enough weight to RE opinions.

Which leads to a very painful and delicate question - how do I let my Rov
know that he is treating me or someone else with disdain? How does a Talmid
in Shiur advise his MShiur that he is afraid of asking questions bcs he
sees how others are ridiculed for asking a KlotzKasheh? And how does a
parent advise a RYeshivah? Have we gone too far in venerating our Gedolim?
Do we have people today who are capable and willing to manage this
improvement? Are we so terrified that this conversation seems to be
verboten by one and all?

It seems that when the Navi rebukes Dovid HaMelech for the incident with
BSheva, that only someone who is both blind and insensitive, an absolute
narcissist, could fail to understand the meaning behind the Mashal even
before the Navi is halfway through it. Learning this episode, even little
kids can see what is coming, and are cringing - and yet the great king
failed to see and needed to be told ?You are that man.?

It should also be noted that even DHaMelech needed to be directed to this
indelicacy via a Mashal - whereas we think of this strategy being
appropriate for little children.  and an adult may well feel humiliated by
being addressed in such a condescending fashion.

Back to the Gemara Kesuvos 25b - Then comes the ruling of RLakish, which
from the Gemaras sparse wording suggests RE was just completely ignored;
fairly sharp and dismissive, no? - which likely left RE in a V difficult
situation; could he, should he correct RL in the Beis HaMedrash in front of
all the other students or even afterwards in private forcing him to retract
his ruling?


Meir G. Rabi

0423 207 837
+61 423 207 837
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20221107/a67dcb03/attachment-0001.htm>

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2022 11:58:45 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Davening direction

And now to comment ON topic...

On Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 04:41:28PM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
>> Didn't understand the logic of the rhumb line for davening
>> Gut feeling is that south east is reasonable even that is based on a
>> flat earth

> That *is* the rhumb line, and I don't understand the logic either; it seems
> based entirely on people sharing the above-cited "instinct", which is based
> entirely on a lifetime of looking at Mercator maps....

The Mercator Projection became popular because it helps sailors navigate.
RET finds following rhumb lines more intuitive for the same reason sailors
preferred following rhumb lines. The popularity of Mercator Projection
disn't cause the intuition. The intuition is more innate than that,
and it caused the popularity of a rhumb line preserving projection.

It takes immersion in the right math, like RAM's suggestion to take a
globe in hand, to overcome instinct and develop a new intuition.

Which is why I gave the wishy-washy answer -- which way is more correct
depends on the intutions of the one davening. After all, if you can't
face the right way, yekhavein es libo. Seems whichever the individual's heart
feels is the "true" definition of direction is the one to go with.

(And in any case, since we are really only make a point of facing the
quarter of a circle that Israel is in, one has to be at least as far as
Miami before either could possibly be "wrong".)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Spirituality is like a bird: if you tighten
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   your grip on it, it chokes; slacken your grip,
Author: Widen Your Tent      and it flies away.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                          - Rav Yisrael Salanter

Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2022 12:53:58 -0500
Re: [Avodah] shelo assani boor.

On Sun, Oct 30, 2022 at 09:48:13AM -0400, Richard Wolberg via Avodah wrote:
> Near the end of Brachos 64-65 it mentions 3 of the b'rochos said at the
> beginning of shacharis:
> 1) shelo assani goy
> 2) shelo assani boor
> 3) shelo assani isha

Actually, "shelo asani aved" instead of "boor" is R Meir's position
(Meachos 43b). The gemara continues: Rav Acha bar Yaaqov heard his son
say, "shelo asani boor" and the father asked him "Why not 'aved'?" Seems
the son thought shelo asani aved would make shelo asani ishah redundant,
and RAbY had to set him straight.

"Shelo asani goi... shelo asani aved" is R Yehudah in the Yerushalmi.
(Which is I think the gemara you are referring to -- Y-mi Berakhos,
vilna ed. 63b.)

R Yehudah there is also the source for the "shelo asani ishah" being
about being thankful for having more mitzvos. As opposed to making
statement about which it is better to be overall. Not apologetics; up
there with the original record of the berakhah. He says "shelo asani
boor" is because "ein boor yerei cheit".

Whereas we follow R Meir in having three distinctions WRT the number
of mitzvos. Non-Jews have the fewest, eved kenaani has more, women
have yet more than slaves, but not as many as I have as a man.

But we aren't following R Meir as he appears in Menachos either, since
we have the shelo asani goi we find R Yehudah say in the Y-mi, not
R Mei'r's "she'asani Yisrael".

However... there is a censorship issue. For example, Nusach haGra is
"shelo asani nachri / nachriah". After all, we are the "mamlekhes kohanim
veGOI qadosh". The Gra found a girsa in the gemara "nachri", and because
of the fact that we too are called "goi", he held that girsa was the
original, uncensored, version.

Something similar may have happened in the Yerushalmi. It has R
Meir prescribe assymetric berakhos "Who DID make me a Jew", "...
DID NOT make me a slave", and "DID NOT make me a woman". It could
well have been doctored from using any word like "goi" or "nachri"
to get past censorship.

(For more about the manuscript evidence and how censorship made it
impossible to know the original version, see The Three Blessings:
Boundaries, Censorship, and Identity in Jewish Liturgy, Yoel Kahn,
ch. 5. Preview available at

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Friendship is like stone. A stone has no value,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but by rubbing one stone against another,
Author: Widen Your Tent      sparks of fire emerge. 
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                - Rav Mordechai of Lechovitz

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2022 11:44:30 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Davening direction

On Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 05:24:38PM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
> Which achronim denied something that the entire world has agreed on since
> Chazal's day?  The Bavli Amora'im seem to have not yet heard of this "modern
> discovery", but in EY they had.   Certainly the Rishonim all knew.

The notion that lakes are heated at night because the sun was under
them implies a sun that goes under a flat earth. If the sun were in
orbit around a spherical earth, the sun would be further from pools of
water on this side of the planet than during the day -- the same height
of the orbit PLUS the diameter of the planet.

So, R Yehudah's "proof" that the Greeks were right that the sun goes
under earth because mist (which he took to be steam) rises from lakes in
the morning implies that even after meeting the Athenians, Rebbe still
thought the earth was flat.

I don't know indication that Chazal definitely kept up with the science
on this one. I think it is implied by how much their positions track
the most accepted theory of their mileau in general, but I can't really
prove that there is a maamar chazal about the world being round.

According to a tradition recorded by the Shitah Mequbetzes, Rabbeinu Tam
says that R Yehudah's "venir'in divreihem midevareinu" means that that
Athenian astronomy only looks more right than ours, but isn't actually
true. And numerous acharonim held like this. So there was a stream of
acharonim who trusted the gemara over their contemporaries' scientific

(Not counting the Rama. He believed the sun went around the earth only
because Tycho Brahe was the leading voice in astronomy in Warsaw in his
day. They even had acquiantances in common. So, it is unsurprising that
he embraced the Tychonic model (the sun, moon and stars go aroudn the
earth, but the planets go around the sun) rather than the Copernican

A bit more history of science... The Greeks were better theoreticians,
but the Babylonians had better star charts. In fact, their theory about
the sun stopping and reversing course at the end of the day (and the
beginning) was because of an observation that the Greeks had missed.

The closer the sun is to the horizon, the more its light is refracted.
(The effect that makes a spoon sticking out of a cup of water look
broken.) To the extent that we actually see the sun when it is already
somewhat below the horizon, but the light it bent so it looks like it
is still at it. The sun looks like it slowed down. In fact, you may
have noticed that the sun near sunset (or sunrise) looks like an oval;
the light from the side of the sun nearer the horizon is more refracted
than the light from the top.

The Babylonians didn't have a theory about light refraction. They just saw
the sun slow down, change shape, and vanish. It really would look like it
was changing directions, from traveling across the sky to moving the width
of the raqia. Their astronomy is a very logical error. One the Greeks
only avoided by not paying sufficient attention to what sunset looks like.

And that explains why the amoraim of Bavel were sticking with the science
as taught in the Sassanid Empire, while the amoraim of EY were using
the science as taught by the Greeks to the Romans. As I said earlier, the
general trend is that maamarei chazal are consistent with the accepted
theory in the speaker's surroundings.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 If a person does not recognize one's own worth,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   how can he appreciate the worth of another?
Author: Widen Your Tent                - Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                author of Toldos Yaakov Yosef

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2022 16:40:03 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Davening direction

On 7/11/22 11:58, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:
> The Mercator Projection became popular because it helps sailors navigate.
> RET finds following rhumb lines more intuitive for the same reason sailors
> preferred following rhumb lines. The popularity of Mercator Projection
> disn't cause the intuition. The intuition is more innate than that,
> and it caused the popularity of a rhumb line preserving projection.

I think you have that backwards.   Rhumb lines are useful only to 
sailors who are navigating by compass.  It is the compass, not some 
innate intuition, that makes them useful.  Since none of us are sailors, 
and we do not navigate by compass, there only reason why we would find 
rhumb lines intuitive is that we have had the Mercator world map drummed 
into our consciousness.

Zev Sero            ?Were we directed from Washington when to sow
z...@sero.name       and when to reap, we should soon want bread.?
                    ?Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.

Go to top.

Message: 6
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2022 10:54:25 +1100
[Avodah] R Lakish Looking Daggers upon RE

It seems that this was not a Lomdishe Kasheh,

Evaluating what determines reliable evidence that one is a Cohen is a
Shikul HaDaAs and may well hinge upon knowing the mood and tone of the
community - how particular are the Gabbaim to determine that the Oleh is a
Cohen before giving him an Aliyah?
Probably something like what we have today with the reputation of K
agencies being determined by - I am not sure what to say. And likely one
would have a similar Broigez if as a guest at a Rov's house asks another
guest "Is this fellow providing reliable Kashrus? You know I am Makpid."
and the Rov can lip-read

BTW I heard Rav Z Smith in a Shiur he gave about Chumros, that a student
who questioned the Kashrus of some biscuits offered by Rebetzin Kotler, Reb
A's Rebetzin, was told by Reb A that his Chutzpah warrants that he be put
in Cherem.

A Lomdishe Kasheh would indeed be better evaluated without being dazzled by
who asked the Q or said the Sevara.


Meir G. Rabi

0423 207 837
+61 423 207 837
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20221108/45fc62dd/attachment-0001.htm>


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 >