Avodah Mailing List

Volume 41: Number 23

Thu, 23 Mar 2023

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Joel Rich
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2023 08:16:54 +0200
[Avodah] Talmudic Arguments: The Use of Insults, Reprimands,

Talmudic Arguments: The Use of Insults, Reprimands, Rebukes and Curses as
Part of the Disputation Process-Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D


Punchline: Regardless of the reason a sage chose to incorporate heavy
language, as long as no embarrassment or intently personal attacks are
found, it can be used. This rule is not limited to ancient Babylonia,
but it is true to any society where dispute carries with it, in a healthy
manner, the element of verbal jabs and attacks...But do so with caution,
because even Rav Huna and Rav Hisda let the debate become personal,
and even Hashem [God] regrets, as it were, knocking someone else down
(Dratch, 2014).It is clear that some insults in the Talmud caused serious
problems and did not end well. In particular, the dispute between Rabbi
Yochanan and Resh Lakish where the former said:
"A robber understands the tools of his trade."

The story of Abdan and Yishmael b. Yosi also had a disastrous conclusion.
These stories demonstrate that even sages have to be careful when using
sarcasm, insults, and derision as a tool to enhance the disputation process.


Joel Rich

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Message: 2
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2023 14:29:05 +0000
[Avodah] Bankruptcy and Halacha (was The Sacrd Shekel)

Zev Sero wrote;

On 20/3/23 16:58, Prof. L. Levine wrote:
> The second element of American Bankruptcy is ?fresh start,? which makes
> it unnecessary to make payments (?discharge?) beyond those prescribed by
> the bankruptcy court.? Talmudic Halacha does not recognize fresh start.
> If someone originally lacks funds but acquires them later, he must pay
> past debts using new assets.

Read the rest of the article.   Talmudic halacha is not necessarily the
operative law in this case.  Dina Demalchusa is likely operative, and if
so it is arguably (and I would so argue) not even midas chassidus to pay
the discharged debts, unless there was a clear understanding between the
parties that they would follow Dinei Yisrael and not Dina Demalchusa.

WADR I suggest your read the article at


Bankruptcy - A Viable Halachic Option?

American bankruptcy law offers people the opportunity to avoid repaying
their debts, even if they later become wealthy. This is accomplished by
granting debtors a "discharge" of their debt, which permanently eliminates
their legal responsibility to pay. Debtors are increasingly seizing this
opportunity. In calendar year 1991, almost a million bankruptcy petitions
were filed in the United States alone.

Obtaining a bankruptcy discharge raises serious halachic problems. First,
halacha requires repayment of debt. Second, halacha generally prohibits
litigation between Jews in secular courts. This Article explores whether,
despite these obstacles, Jewish debtors may take advantage of a bankruptcy


Halacha considers the repayment of debt to Jewish creditors as a moral and
religious imperative. Most authorities agree that the payment of one's
debts is an affirmative biblical commandment.3<https://www.jlaw.com/Articles/bankruptcy.html#Note_3>
Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen (the "Chafetz Chaim")4<https://www.jlaw.com/Articles/bankruptcy.html#Note_4>
states that if a debtor who can pay refuses to do so, he also violates a
negative biblical commandment not to oppress ("lo sa'ashok") his

The Mishna declares someone in any of four categories is called an Evildoer
Quoting David HaMelech,7<https://www.jlaw.com/Articles/bankruptcy.html#Note_7>
it says that one of these is a person who borrows but, although financially
able, does not repay. To such persons the sages apply the verse "[t]hose
who acquire wealth in violation of halacha, in mid-life it(they) will leave
them(it)" (Emphasis added). The phrase "it(they) will leave them(it)" has
two meanings. Sometimes the wealth ("it") leaves the people ("them") -
i.e., the people become impoverished while still young. In other instances,
the people ("they") leave the wealth ("it") - by dying prematurely.8<https://www.jlaw.com/Articles/bankruptcy.html#Note_8>

There is no halachic equivalent to a bankruptcy discharge.9<https://www.jlaw.com/Articles/bankruptcy.html#Note_9>
Instead, if property collected from a debtor is not sufficiently valuable
to pay off his debts, the debtor remains personally liable for any unpaid
amounts. If and when the debtor acquires additional assets, he is obligated
to pay, and this obligation is enforceable by rabbinic court ("bais din").

Professor Yitzchok Levine

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Message: 3
From: Joseph Kaplan
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2023 17:55:13 +0000
[Avodah] Bankruptcy/Shemitah

"This last paragraph is exactly what Rav Schwab told the man who now wanted
to give a large donation to his yeshiva, namely, now that he has the money,
he has to pay those to whom he owed money.?

I wonder what Rav Schwab told borrowers, who had no pruzbul with their
lenders, and whose debts were wiped out in shmittah. Did he tell them to
pay the debt anyway if they had the money? Note: This is not a rhetorical
question.I don?t know the answer, I can imagine different possibilities, so
I?d really like to know what he told them.

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2023 12:07:59 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Talmudic Arguments: The Use of Insults,

On Wed, Mar 22, 2023 at 08:16:54AM +0200, Joel Rich wrote:
> Talmudic Arguments: The Use of Insults, Reprimands, Rebukes and Curses as
> Part of the Disputation Process-Hershey H. Friedman, Ph.D
> https://www.academia.edu/36323670

Since the alternative is saying that there was a widespread problem with
ona'as devarim among Chazal, Rishonim and numerous acharonim, I think
the what RJS fears is "apologetics" is the only possible explanation.

I am reminded of the day R Dr David Berger came in to shul all excited.
At the time R Schach was on a campaign against YU, whose "uMada" --
and likely any "Torah and..." -- was an anathema to the value system
RES wanted to promote.

And a few weeks after warning his talmidim away from some of the more
famous RIETS RY, R Schach lashed out against RDDB -- a Jewish History
professor who would eventually become dean of YU's Revel Graduate school,
but hadn't yet. (My guess is, because both had attacked Chabad Messianism,
someone thought or might think they were on the same side.)

The thing is, though, RDDB found it a compliment. For RES to know you
exist and have a message that is serious enough to need addressing...

I have a feeling that attitude is both (1) more common among talmidei
chakhamim (and academics, and people like RDDB who are both) and (2) more
common in most other eras. We are a pretty soft bunch, as history goes.


Micha Berger                 "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
http://www.aishdas.org/asp    'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
Author: Widen Your Tent       'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                   - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2023 18:48:23 -0700
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