Saturday, 25 March 2017

P. Vayiqra - Two Mussar Maxims from Torah T'mimah

Here are two tweets giving us Mussar on the parshah from the Torah Temimah.

"@NishmaTweet: P. Vayiqra 1:1 Mussar 1 TT [1] don't enter pi'tom. Announce yourself first. Good etiquette, good psychology."

"@NishmaTweet: P. Vayiqra 1:1 Mussar 2 TT [2] don't talk or address someone w/o getting their approval first also Good etiquette & good psychology."

Thus, we see some Midrash Halachah offering us practical ethical behaviour:
Don't startle people by entering abruptly.
Don't talk or preach to people w/o asking their permission first.
Be considerate - and use wisdom when doing so.

Shavua Tov,
Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Vayikra, "Catholic Israel"



"When the entire congregation errs..." (Leviticus 4:13), Hazal equates the following :
  • "The entire congregation errs" ==> The Sanhedrin errs.
Now, In the absence of any Sanhedrin it makes sense to go back to the original text. It now follows  to imply the converse:
  • The Sanhedrin ==> The entire Congregation of Israel.
---------------------
Illustration:
The United States' of America's Congress, or the Canadian Parliament represent all of the the people. In the absence of such a representative body, then all of the people represent themselves.

Shalom,
RRW

P. Vayiqra - The Torah on Infallibility

In Hamishi of Vayiqra we see three cases of sin/error:

A. A Kohein Gadol who sins/errs.
B. The entire congregation -or as per Hazal the Sanhedrin - but perhaps BOTH understandings apply.
C. A Nassi.

In Sh'mini, Moshe apparently renders an incorrect hora'h and is corrected by his brother Aharon.
Who - I.E. what individual - in Judaism is infallible?

Shalom,
RRW

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Arba Parshiot

Originally published 3/4/11, 11:19 am. 

As we conclude the Arba Parshiot this week with, of course, Parshat HaChodesh, we invite you to take a look at
Insight 5756-12: From Purim to Pesach
at
http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5756-12.html 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pekudei: The Cloud

Originally published 2/28/09, 5:50 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
From the archives of Nishma's Online Library, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Pekudei and our topic is the cloud over the Ohel Mo'ed. It is really not so simple to assume that it symbolizes God's Presence.

We invite you to further look at this issue at
http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5769-22.htm

Vayakhel: The Motivation for Giving

Originally published 2/28/09, 5:50 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Vayakhel. The topic is tzedakah, specifically how we decide to distribute our funds for worthwhile causes. There are always more needs than available funds, so how do we determine priorities? Where would you put the call to give toward the Mishkan in a world of competing needs?

We invite you to look at an article on this genaral topic at
http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5757-10.html

Monday, 13 March 2017

Parsha: Ki Tisa, "Aaron's Honour"


We need not be overly judgmental re: Aharon's role in the Eigel Masecha when we read the following:
What's with the sarcasm against Aharon? Yes, the making of the gold into the form of a calf was, as per Rashi to 32:4, not Aharon's doing (it was done by Egyptian magicians or by Micha, as the case may be). So according to this, he could indeed correctly say: "All I did was throw the gold into the fire, and as far as I was concerned it would have just melted there into a big blob; others are to blame for the actual making of the calf.
Same thing with "hisparaku." True that Aharon tells the people "paraku," but in a transitive rather than a reflexive sense: "take off the golden rings from your wives', sons', and daughters' ears..." - but not from your own. Whereas the next verse continues that they instead brought him their own jewelry: "vayisparaku" - a reflexive form - "all of the people took off the gold rings in their ears..." (Rashi makes this point explicitly in his commentary to 32:2.) So Aharon's description in 32:24 is indeed in keeping with this. "I asked only 'lemi zahav' - go see who in your families has gold available; but 'hisparaku,' they took off their own earrings, which I had not expected."
In short, then, Aharon is giving a quite accurate summary of what happened, distinguishing between what he did (asking for people to bring their families' gold, throwing it in the fire) and what he did not do (having them bring their own gold, making the calf). He's not trying to mislead Moshe. If anything, he leaves out other considerations in his own favor, such as his fear for his life after seeing Chur murdered for opposing them (Rashi to 32:5).

Kol tuv,
- Alex Heppenheimer
- aheppenh@yahoo.com
-Mahpach list
- Reproduced with the permission of Alex Heppenheimer

When in doubt - give our "icons" a break.

Shalom, RRW

P. Ki Tissa - Rashi on Ki Shicheit Amcha

A liberal friend of mine would like to advance a correspondingly liberal conversion policy that is contrary to GPS and other more restrictive policies.

What does Rashi say about such kind-heartedness?

Ki Tisa 22:7 D"H "Ki. Shicheit Amcha"

Hashem talking to Moshe -
"You went ahead and converted them w/o consulting ME and said 'good that the converts should embrace the Sh'china' those are the ones who caused this corruption"

I'm sure that nevertheless Hashem does embrace Geirim. However, the context here is that Moshe accepted a mass of Geirim who were motivated by the Wonders of the Exodus and not by a solid yearning to embrace Hashem and the Jewish People - in stark contrast to Ruth! This "Erev Rav" was composed of "front-runners", not sincere proselytes

The Road to 'H..L' is paved with Good Intentions. Moshe's Chessed lacked the necessary restriction, and his liberalism introduced a corrupting influence, that would eventually serve as an internal fifth column

The history of the events here is not essential. What is essential is Hazal's attitude of warning us of the danger of being inclusive w/o weighing the potential negative consequences

Of course HOW restrictive we should be is a matter for discussion. It is only natural to react to a failed policy in either direction, namely either too exclusive or too inclusive


Shalom
RRW

H. Ki Tissa - Eliyahu's Ultimatum

Note: Since Haftarat Pinchas discusses Eliyahu, I took the liberty to refer to another Haftarah starring Eliyahu Hanavi.

Eliyahu:
If Hashem is your G-d then worship HIM
If Bal is your god worship IT

RRW's corollary:
If Torah is your Guide then follow THAT
If the New York Times* is your guide then follow THAT.
---
* or Political Correctness

--------------------
BE"H I will try to show how modernity may fit in

Shalom,
RRW

Parsha Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns is Not a Mistranslation

«Most commentators have simply said that Jerome mistranslated "keren" as "horned" rather than  "radiant."  But Bena Elisha Medjuck, a McGill University Department of Jewish Studies graduate student, offered a more complex explanation in his 1988 thesis "Exodus 34:29-35: Moses' 'Horns' in Early Bible Translation and Interpretation."[1]  Medjuck explains that Jerome was well-acquainted both with the variant meanings of "keren" and with the prevailing translation of his contemporary Jewish scholars – with whom he consulted!   Jerome chose the "horned" translation as metaphor faithful to the text: a depiction of Moses' strength and authority, and a glorification of the Lord!  Jerome even explained this in his accompanying commentary!  

Horns were almost universally viewed by ancient civilizations as symbols of power, not as the negative or demonic symbols they became for Christians thousands of years later.  For example, both Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun were described as wearing horns.  Mellinkoff reminds us that horned helmets were often worn by priests and kings, with the horns connoting that divine power and authority had been bestowed upon them.  


Moreover, in his book Did Moses Really Have Horns? (URJ Press, 2009) Rabbi Dr. Rifat Sonsino reminds us that the Hebrew Bible contains many other references to "horns" as symbols of power and authority....»


Ki Tissa: Moses' Horns: Not a Mistranslation > Rabbi Dr. Art Levine
http://rabbiartlevine.com/Home/tabid/2652/ID/840/Ki-Tissa-Moses-Horns-Not-a-Mistranslation.aspx


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Parsha: Ki Tisa, "Life is Complex"


It's in the Nishma tagline: Life is complex, Torah is complex etc.
Rabbi Hecht and I share a synchronicity on complexity. 

 People are seeking the old black-and-white solutions that made magic popular 1,000 years ago and dictators popular about 70 years ago. We seem to be drifting towards a new Dark Ages. Perhaps this is why Roshei Yeshiva are now being invested with "rebbe"-like infallibility -an absolute anathema to misnagidic thinking!

Anyhow - in the parsha -  we see that all 600,000+ adult Israelites were labelled with the guilt for the "Molten Calf" except for the Levi'im, Yehoshua,  women and children. Yet the Levite-produced carnage amounted to a mere 3,000 souls. This was less than 1/60 the of the total. Therefore, rabbinic thinking should deem it a nullified trivial measure!

Hazal have explained that there was not just one level of guilt, but at least 3 levels:
  1. Those who sinned with witnesses and warning
  2. Those who sinned with witnesses and NO warning
  3. Those who sinned without witnesses
There is also another hierarchy:
The Eirev Rav instigated the sin and were the ones who first started sinning. Some Israelites joined along, while some just watched without any Pinchas-like protest. Therefore, while only 3,000 Israelites were guilty of the actual sin of serving idols, the collective guilt of acquiescence or of condoning was nationwide.

This leads us to consider that not every guilt or culpability is morally equivalent. To say that since Andy Pettite was not 100% forthcoming at first makes him as big a liar as the Rocket or as McNamee is mis-leading and ingenuous. There are degrees of guilt. Fault is not a black and white continuum. There are also levels of honesty. While few humans bat 1.000 in the honesty department, not all are compulsive liars either!

That said: culpability is a funny thing! Many "public Jews" have railed that the world was silent about the Holocaust whilst it transpired, yet many - myself included - are silent as a slaughter occurs in Darfur.

A Hong Kong native who owns a Chinese restaurant lamented to me: Jews had a Holocaust . What about the Chinese!? Indeed, he is correct. In the aftermath of the Jimmy Doolittle raid "40 seconds over Tokyo" Japanese soldiers exacted revenge on 250,000 Chinese over the next few weeks. Nanking was raped!

Who in the West cares to comment!? In fact, most North Americans buy the Euro-Centric version of WWII. They begin at Hitler's invasion of Poland, almost completely ignoring Japan's occupation of China, not to mention Manchuria, etc.

Even in Europe, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War were surely part of the WWII cluster of the battles of the dictators! The point is, while standing silently by is not the same level of culpability as committing the dirty deed, nevertheless culpability there is indeed! Woe to all of us for not doing our best to protest

Shalom,
RRW

The "Oat Brit" Linguisitic Pattern

The "Oat Brit" [Os Bris] Pattern

First - please see these sections

P B'reishis     R'vii 4:15
P. Noach     Hamishi 9:5-17
P. Lech Lecha     Shishi-Sh'vii 17:2-21
P. Ki Tissa     End of Rishon 31:13-17
In the last 3 Oat and Brit [Os and Bris] appear in tandem, often repeatedly. Re: Kayin, only "Oat"

Q:
Have any "Parshanim" connected all of these dots together?
EG the number of times Oat and Brit are used? The sequencing?

For a limited example -
See Torah Temimah on Lech Lecha 17:11 quoting a Meimra from Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok in TB: Shabbat 132a, concerning "Meelah docheh Shabbos" which addresses a small subset of this pattern.


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Parshat Zachor: Choice in Destruction

Originally published 3/18/11, 9:58 am.
This article originally appeared in Nishma Update, March 1992 and is also available on the Nishma website.

Choice in Destruction

In Sefer HaMitzvot, Mitzva Asseh 187Rambam, when describing the command to destroy the Seven Nations that inhabited Canaan, uses the verb le'harog, to kill. The Chinuch, Mitzva 425, is similar. Yet both authors in describing the mitzva to destroy Amalek apply a different language. The command is to destroy the zerah, the progeny of Amalek and, what seems to be even of greater significance, to eradicate any memory of Amalek from this world. In Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 5:5, in codifying this law, Maimonides only mentions this latter part although in the Sefer HaMitzvot he mentions the first. What significance is there to this change in language? What is the actual essence of the mitzva

To answer these questions, at least according to the view of Rambam, it is necessary to look at a most controversial law that Maimonides codifies in Hilchot Melachim 6:1-4. According to Rambam, the Jewish nation's obligation to make peace before going to war applies even to battles with the Seven Nations and Amalek. How does this reconcile with the mitzvot regarding the destruction of these nations? The language of the Kesef Mishna is most revealing. While Ra'avad and others state that this agreement of peace must include the observance of the Seven Noachide Laws on the part of these nations, the Kesef Mishna presents a most interesting reason why - " for if they accept the Seven Noachide Laws they leave the category of the Seven Nations and Amalek and they are like bnei Noach ha'kesharim, righteous non-Jews". In terms of the Seven Nations, the mitzva is now fully understandable. The command is to kill the members of these nations, as Rambam states in Sefer HaMitzvot, they are the root of idolatry. Once someone accepts, however, the Noachide Code, they are no longer a member of these nations that are the root of idolatry and therefore there is no command to kill this individual ( in fact this would be prohibited just as it is prohibited to kill any non-Jew ). How, though, does one understand the mitzva regarding Amalek? 

On the surface the answer seems to be simple - the command regarding Amalek should be similar. The language in the Mishneh Torah and Sefer HaMitzvot however must lead to a different conclusion. Regarding the Seven Nations, the command is to kill them. If, however, the Seven Nations do not exist, because of something such as acceptance of the Noachide Code, then this mitzva cannot be performed. Encouraging the members of the Seven Nations to accept the Noachide Code may be praiseworthy and a part of the command to first reach out for peace, but it is not part of this mitzva - the language is clear. Regarding Amalek, however, the command is to destroy its memory, its progeny, its essence - its name. It would seem that any transformation of someone out of the category of Amalek would fulfil this mitzva of destroying this entity. I would argue, though, that the mitzva can only be fulfilled if the member of Amalek converts to become a Jew. While acceptance of the Noachide Code takes someone out of the category of Amalek and, as such, there is no command to destroy this individual, this acceptance would not utterly destroy the Amalek concept from this world. A subsequent rejection of the Seven Noachide Mitzvot, it would seem, could lead to this individual being re-classified as Amalek. Acceptance of the Noachide Code would simply, as in the case of the Seven Nations, mean there is no command to destroy this individual while he is in this state of a kosher Ben Noach. Amalek, however, is not fully destroyed. Becoming a Jew and receiving that classification, however, is irrevocable. As Maimonides writes in Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 13:17, even if a convert returns to idolatry, this person is still classified as a Jew. Conversion would destroy the Amalek name and as such would seem to be a method to fulfil this mitzva

The irony in this approach to the command is that attempting to do the mitzva in this way, through gerut, would seem to be a full rectification of the original mistake that led to the creation of Amalek. In T.B. Tractate Sanhedrin 99b, we are told that the creation of Amalek was a punishment in that our Avot, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov, did not accept Timna, the mother of Amalek, as a ger. Is it not a Divine paradox in that we may fulfil a mitzva through the conversion of her children? 

The major problem with this approach, however, is the Mechilta, Shemot 17:16, which declares that gerim, converts, from Amalek are not to be accepted. The Mechilta actually seems to imply that even a process of conversion would be inapplicable for David killed the Amalekite convert - a member of Amalek simply cannot convert. Rambam, however, does not codify this law when he discusses those who can or cannot convert in Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, chapter 12. Maimonides' non-acceptance of the Mechilta is further substantiated in that in Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:6 he refers to the case of the Amalekite convert as an example of the Jewish king's power of summary judgement. The major issue with the Mechilta actually arises from T.B. Tractate Gittin 57b and Tractate Sanhedrin 96b which declares that the descendants of Haman ( who is considered an Amalekite) learned Torah in B'nei Brak. If Amalekites cannot convert, how could Haman's descendants have become Jews? While some commentators reconcile the Mechilta and the Talmud through maintaining the bar on Amalekite conversion, there are others who declare the Mechilta's position not to be universal. See Torah Shelaima, Parshat Beshalach, section 185 and, for greater detail, Sefer Ner L'Meah. It would seem that Maimonides would be classified within the latter. While converting Amalek may not be an option in fulfilling the mitzva to all, it would seem to be a feasible method according to Rambam, and one that many may find more tenable.

Is Parshat Zachor d'Oraitto? - 1

Actually this would be better phrased as:

"What Is the disposition of Parshat Zachor as per Shas and Posqim?"

Let's Start with Sources - Part 1:

See the texts in the Mishnah Brurah
SA O"Ch 685:7
Some say "Zachor" is d'oraitto.
Be'er Hagolah 10
Source: Tosafot Brachot 13
Ba'er Hetev 2 quibbles over Parshat Parah
He also quotes. Tosafot shantz that no other Q'riat Hatorah is d'oraitto other than Zachor
Quoting Magen Avraham - Also Parshat Zachor with 10 is more important than Megillat Esther...
Mishnah Brura 14
"And we learn in the Gmara that Zachor must be "amira mitoch hasefer b'libo"

Next post BEH
Positions of
Kaf Hachayyim
Aruch Hashulchan
Kitzur SA

KT
RRW
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Re: Is Parshat Zachor d'Oraitto? - 2


See the Aruch haShulchan
Orach Chaim 685:6

And see the new edition with fn to Mishna Brura notes 4 and 5

Kaf Hachaim esp. #33
[Vol. 8 p. 156]

Citing Talmud Bavli Megillah 18a

«Therefore [as per Rabbenu Hannanel on the Talmud there] both reader and listener need to intend to fulfill the positive commandment of the Torah»

Also see Kitzur SA 140:3. Quoting SA, Rema et al.


KT
RRW

Liturgical Parallels between Tisha B'Av and Purim


Previously posted around Tisha b'av 2009, then reposted March 6, 2011, on Nishmablog.


The following outline lists some of the parallels, primarily liturgical, between Purim and the 9th of Av.
           
1 Maariv - Nighttime 
     A. Only Megillos that are read at night.
          - Eicho
          - Esther
     B. Similar Structure with Kaddish Tiskabel and v'Ato Kodosh

2 Shacharis - Omissions
     A.  Purim - A "miracle" Holiday , no Hallel (Megilloh instead)
     B.  9th of Av -  A Fast Day  without   
          -  Selichos (Kinnos instead)
          -  Tachanun & Ovinu Malkeinu

3 Shacharis - Chazoros Hashatz
     A. Only weekday repetitions of the Amido having Krovos/Krovatz 
at least in the common Ashkenaz / Yekke Litrugy
4 Preceding Shabbos 
     A. Purim preceded by Zachor
     B. 9th of Av preceded by Chazon

5 The Tanach's Pattern - Special Torah and Haftoro readings are read on the Shabbos 
before the event, with the corresponding Megilloh on the day of the event.
     A. Purim - The Amalek Connection
          -  Torah- Zachor 
          -  Navi - Haftoro of Zachor (Shaul's War with Amalek in Shmuel)
          -  Kesuvim Esther
     B. 9 Av - The  Eicho Connection
          -  Torah - Eicho in Devorim
          -  Navi - Eicho in the Haftoro of Chazon (Yeshaya)
          -  Kesuvim - Eicho

6. Month-wide 
     A. Mishenichnos Adar Marbin b'Simcho
     B. Mishenichnos Av M'maatin b'Simcho

7. Miscellaneous
     A. Some Pesukim in Esther are read to Eicho's melody (in particular Asher 
 Heglo)
     B. Chiyuv S'eudo vs. Chiyuv Taanis
     C. Similar Minhogim not to work


Shalom,
RRW

Leining: Is it zeikher or zekher?

Originally published 4/2/08, 11:06 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

I looked up ZECHER in the Even Shoshan Concordance - and in it I located 2 occurences of Zecher - and BOTH were proper names!

Zecher is clearly wrong. Rav Mordechai Breuer OBM has confirmed this with unassailable research While the Ma'seh Rav attests to this idea of Zecher Rav Haim Volozhiner protested this very attestation [albeit very politely]. In NO way were TWO readings ever suggested

But if safeik D'd'oraiito lehumra re: Zachor why not go all the way? [Reductio ad absurdum indeed- after all it is read around Purim time! So why not

  1. Read it from BOTH a Sepyhardic and Ashkenaic Torah...
  2. Read BOTH Scrolls with every permutation of pronunciation [e.g. litvisher, Hungarian, Yekkish, Sephardic Yemineite etc. etc.]?

The Vilna Gaon himself made fun of multiple pairs of Tefillin as ludicrous and came up with 32-64 possible permutations. Ironically we are beginning to perpetuate such a practice in his honor. [Incidentally, this proves there MUST be a God or else it would make no sense to practice such a minhag to honor the one who felt such permutation as unnecessary.]

One Rabbi insisted that whilst reading Ki Tetze both Zeicher and Zecher must be read TWICE, one for Shevii'i and once for Maftir! His argument? since we have changed the form [tzura] for Zachor therefore THAT becomes THE normative way to read it EVERY time we read the Torah, including Ki Tetze! No I am not kidding, I had a bar mitzva student who HAD to do it this way!



Kol Tuv / Best Regards,

RabbiRichWolpoe

Zachor: Zeicher vs. Zecher 1

Originally published 3/3/10, 9:13 pm.

Re: Repeating to read Zachor to accommodate both Zeicher and Zecher

There are those with whom I may never agree and in particular there is this one fellow with whom I often lock horns; he sent me a private email that expresses some of my own outrage on this matter...

I think it's safe to snip out these two points:

  1. The practice looks silly.
  2. The practice looks ... to be huqa utelula.

When you think about it, they are almost the same point.
Here is my similar reaction in a private email to a completely different colleague.
I still think it's a bad approach, a bad precedent and a bad example. We're making Reform & Conservative frummer with regards to the Masoretic text than we Orthodox Jews are. As we play more games with it, we thereby making it appear "less holy" and more susceptible to error.

Next:
Zeicher and Zecher on steroids. ;-)

KT
RRW
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Zachor: Zeicher vs. Zecher 2


Posted with permission from the author.

This post speaks for itself. -RRW


«Re zeicher and zecher.

My brother-in-law, Prof. Jordan Penkower of Br Ilan University wrote an extensive article proving that the correct pronunciation is zeicher. It's way beyond my expertise although Jordan acknowledged as a leading expert in Bible studies, Jewish manuscripts etc.

I asked a member of my shul, who is also an expert in this field and who often is the ba'al korey on Parshat Zachor, if he had read the article. he said he had and that Jordan was "absolutely" correct. So I asked him (as Jordan had asked me to) whether he would read it only that way (zeicher) on Parshat Zachor. "Of course not," he replied; "what do facts have to do with minhag Yisrael?" And sure enough, he read it both ways.

Joseph Kaplan»

Zachor: Zeicher vs. Zecher 3


Zeicher vs. Zecher on Steroids

I attended a Bar Mitzvah on Parshat Ki Teitze. There, the BM boy repeated zecher-zeicher twice
• Once for sh'vii
• Once for maftir

I found this strange. The entire Rationale for the Mishnah Brurah's requirement of repeating this - is predicated upon the premise that Zachor is d'oraitto! That does not apply to Ki Teitze.

Also it would be simple to accomodate Zecher/Zeicher by doing one way during sh'vii and the other way during Maftir! Win-win! After all the Passuq was being repeated anyway.

I asked the local Rav. He claimed that once MB changed the tzurah of how to lain this passage, it gets changed across the board in the same tzurah. I found this incredulous! Would the MB ever have made that suggestion? Seems far-fetched indeed.

But we do see that Halachah or Minhag evolves even twice in several generations. First for Zachor alone and then for Ki Teitze.

Zeicher vs. Zecher on Steroids - INDEED ;-)

KT
RRW

Zachor: Zeicher vs. Zecher 4

Originally published 3/7/10, 8:30 PM

Reb Ira Gruscott mentions that, "Of course , what he doesn't say is that prior to and even during the lifetime of R' Y.M. Kagan z't'l, it was never a minhag to repeat....even in Yeshivas Radun."

Check Marc Shapiro's post on this.
This can be spun two ways.Either
A: it's a frum shtick with  no basis either in minhag or grammar or halakha; or
B: Orthodoxy does have a halakha that is -to quote Shapiro- "dynamic" This, of course goes to the post on your blog re: how one "feels" regarding halakha

ISG»

Look, we live in an ambiguous world!

Let's face the facts. Those who can tolerate ambiguity well,  will be fine, while those who cannot, will be frustrated, angry, railing, and dueling the windmills. Most of us fall somewhere in between! ;-)

Indeed I think "minhag Yisrael" is perhaps a poor choice of words.

What I think he was really saying is that Professor Penkower's academic analysis is irrelevant to the Halachah - one way or the other. Only a Poseiq can make that call, not a professor. As to how the Mishnah Brurah's ruling caught on fire - I do not know. I understand Lubavitch does this, and they are not known to be particularly deferential to the MB

Perhaps, as Hacham Sassoon might say: we believe in continuous revelation. Others might see the Hand of Divine Providence.

What bothers me about the Mishnah Brurah's method is that he presents the safeiq as even. It's not. And as Rabbi Noah G. has noted, a Halachic Safeiq is usually approxximately 50-50.
Here it's clearly not a 50-50. For example, I might say that Rabbenu Tam Tefillin might be 50-50, but Catholic Israel did away with that opinion.

R' Mordechai Breuer's article is brilliant on this matter. I have Professor Penkower's article but I have not yet had the pleasure to complete it.

As I understand Rav Halivni and Rabbis Feldblum and Price, we don't follow "science" when it comes to halachic practice, particularly in nusach. For example, This came up regarding "unetaneh toqef" and "kivnei maron" where Albeck and others suggest "kivnumerion" instead. R' Price dismissed this as academic and not halachic, and so subject to the shifting paradigms in science. For instance, is Pluto still a planet?

The story goes that in Breslau Seminary -
Proffessor Graetz read the Haftara with his emendation based upon science

And R' Z. Frankel apparently re-read the entire passage [iirc with brachot] to make the point that we don't emend Tanach on the basis of our scientific point of view - at least not during the liturgy

Anyway, we can safely say this:
  • The Masoretes deviated from the Talmud in a number of instances.
  • The Kimchi's Grammar deviated from the Tiberian grammatical system on several points.

- I believe segol is one of those areas. Anyway, as far as I know, the Kimchi's PRONOUNCED tzeire and segol the same - obviating any need for repetition. Perhaps our very hakpadah to distinguish the two vowels has led us to this safeiq, though many would claim that this is irrelevant.

'Nuff Said.

Zissen Pesach,
RRW

Zachor: Zeicher vs. Zecher 5

R David Bannett - from the Avodah List

I started learn to read the Torah some 75 years ago in Flatbush and was taught to read both ways. We did not repeat the entire pasuk but only the phrase "timcheh et zeikher Amalek". I don't remember if I was taught the order but, many years later, I decided to read the incorrect zekher first and then correct myself by saying zeikher the second time. Similarly, in the megilla, when the megilla has the incorrect bifneihem and laharog I read as written and then correct myself by repeating the phrase only: v'ish.... lifneihem and k'hashmid.... v'laharog. If the megilla is correct I read only once.

Anyone slightly interested in the subject should read R'Mordekhai Breuer's article. Those very interested should go directly to R' Prof Penkower's article. He gives the entire history, about 45 pages, including statistics on manuscripts from the time of ben Asher as well as customs of reading, etc.
The double reading evidently started slightly before the Hafetz Hayyim made it popular. Penkower cites a ba'al Kriah who was instructed by R' Sh'neur Zalman mi'Lublin to read twice. This R' Sh"Z died in 1902. The Mishna B'rura was printed in 1906.

I was delighted to read that R' Penkower read twice despite his indisputable proofs that zeikher is correct. A few years ago I gave a Friday night talk proving that there is absolutely no justification for double reading. On the following morning I read parashat zakhor and read zekher followed by zeikher. I too do as I was taught and do not allow myself to be confused with facts. I am overjoyed to find that I follow the derekh of the expert.

It should be pointed out that no eidah other than the Ashkenazi ever questioned the correct reading. AFAIK, Yekkes are the only Ashkenazi unaffected by the double-reading syndrome.

As to developments in Israel: One of my grandchildren told me his rosh yeshiva told him to read only once (based on Breuer). On the other hand I davenned this year at a yeshiva where in addition to reading in Abazit, Ashkenoz, Moroccan, and Yemenite they also had Parsi and what might have been Iraqi.

I have also heard a ba'al k'riah reading in mivta Ashkenazi repeat Machlas and Mochlas, and yahalom and yohalom. He told me that he was told to do so by Harav Nebenzahl. At this rate, it won't be long before we'll be hearing hundreds of p'sukim read twice.

David

Haftarat Zachor - Onomatopeia

Notice the Onomatopeia "MEH" as the prophet Sh'muel rebukes the King Sha'ul

שמואל א פרק טו

יד וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל, וּמֶה קוֹל-הַצֹּאן הַזֶּה בְּאָזְנָי, וְקוֹל הַבָּקָר, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי שֹׁמֵעַ. 
Kol Tuv,
RRW

Parsha: Tetzaveh, "Sh'qalim and Zachor"


Question:
When do we read both Parshat Sh'qalim and Parshat Zachor on the very same Shabbat?

Answer:
When Tetzaveh is Zachor - the most common case - we read Sh'qalim at Mincha time.

Shalom,
RRW

Tetzaveh: One Action; Opposite Meanings

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at http://www.nishma.org/, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Tetzaveh and the topic is the nazir and the kohain. While there is similarity in many of the laws that apply to these two individuals, there are also differences. One, for example, lets his/hair grow, the other has limitations on letting the hair grow -- the term, though, kadosh still applies to both. It would seem that actions may have multiple meanings and that similar meanings may even result from divergent and opposite actions.

 We invite you to further considerate this idea by reading an article on this topic at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5761-32.htm.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

P. Trumah: Tzedakah is a Mirror of the Divine

Rav Eliyahu Safran:

«As we've noted, God is not asking for the Children of Israel to make an offering because He requires it. God has no need for the people's largesse? To suggest otherwise is to diminish God. And yet, God's command remains. So, if God is not asking for an offering for His own sake, what is He asking for?»

Trumah: Tzedakah is a Mirror of the Divine - Judaism - Israel National News

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/12874


Stay HAPPY My Friends

R Eliyahu Safran: Parshas Terumah - To Hold a Mirror Up to the Divine

«One thing we should be able to say of all mitzvot  is that their performance benefits us, not God.  For, after all, what does God need from us?  God, Sovereign of the Universe, does not depend upon us, we depend upon Him.  That is plain.  But what then does God mean when He commands Moses, "Speak to the Children of Israel, that they shall take for me an offering."»
Parshas Terumah - To Hold a Mirror Up to the Divine - Tzedakah and Gemilut Chasadim
http://www.baltimorejewishlife.com/news/news-detail.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=57584

BJL Mobile | Parshas Terumah - To Hold a Mirror Up to the Divine - Tzedakah and Gemilut Chasadim
http://baltimorejewishlife.com/m/news/article.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=57584


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Parsha: Shekalim, "Shekalim vs. Terumah"

originally posted Feb. 14, 2015

What's the difference between Shekalim and the collection in Parshat Terumah?

In Terumah, it's "n'div libbo." That's a free will offering. Sh'qalim is level, "heoshir lo yarbeh..."
L'mah haddavar domeh? To what may this be compared?


T'rumah is like a building fund - everyone gives according to his means, while Sheqalim is like dues, where each gives equally.

Please embellish this and use it to spread some good Torah.

Shalom,
RRW

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Parsha: Mishpatim, "Following the Majority Opinion"



Mishpatim: Following the Majority Opinion

A story about Rabbi Akiva, when the famed second century Talmudic sage was a young scholar...

Rabban Gamliel, the head of Sanhedrin, hosted a gathering of scholars in the town of Jericho. The guests were served dates, and Rabban Gamliel honored Rabbi Akiva with reciting the brachah achronah (final blessing). However, Rabban Gamliel and the other sages disagreed about which blessing should be said after eating dates. The young scholar quickly made the blessing - in accordance with the opinion of the other rabbis.
"Akiva!" exclaimed Rabban Gamliel. "When will you stop butting your head into Halachic disagreements?"
"Our master," Rabbi Akiva replied calmly, "it is true that you and your colleagues disagree in this matter. But did you not teach us that the Law is decided according to the majority opinion?" [Brachot 37a]
In truth, it is hard to understand Rabban Gamliel's criticism. What did he expect Rabbi Akiva to do? Why was he upset?
Two Methods to Resolve Disputes

In order to resolve legal disputes, there are two methods a scholar may use to decide which opinion should be accepted as law.

The first way is to conduct an extensive analysis of the subject to find out the truth. We examine the issue at hand, weighing the reasoning and supporting proofs for each view, until we can determine which opinion is the most logical.
However, if we are unable to objectively decide which opinion is more substantiated, we fall back on the second method. Instead of the truth, we look for consensus. We follow the majority opinion - not because it is more logical or well-reasoned - but out of the simple need to establish a normative position and avoid disagreement and conflict. If we are seeking consensus and peace, then the most widely held opinion is the preferred one.

Rabban Gamliel was critical of Rabbi Akiva because he thought the young scholar had had the audacity to decide which opinion was the correct one. Therefore he castigated him, "When will you stop butting your head into these legal disagreements?" In other words, where did you get the idea that you could use your head - your own powers of logic and reasoning - to decide issues that are beyond your expertise and knowledge?

Rabbi Akiva responded that he hadn't presumptuously tried to decide which opinion is correct. Rather, he had simply applied the second method of resolving a legal dispute: deciding the issue by consensus, according to the majority opinion.

- [adapted from Ein Ayah vol. II, p. 176]


Shalom,

RRW

Mishpatim: Understanding Torah

From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at http://www.nishma.org/, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Mishpatim and the topic is mitzvot we understand and mitzvot we don't understand. Most significantly, what we understand may actually change over time. Certain laws shich were presented as understandable in the past are now deemed not understandable. And other laws which were described as beyond human comprehension in the past are now seen as making sense. What does this indicate about the human interaction with Torah? We invite you to look at an article on this topic at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5755-13.htm.

P. Mishpatim - Midrasho vs. P'shuto

See Mishpatim 21:28
Rashi: "Baal Hashor Nakki"

The Halachah is "Midrasho"
P'shuto is something else.
So - as per Rashi - a Halachic translation here would be "al pi midrash, even though it is based upon Midrash Halachah and not upon Midrash Aggadah.  P'shat - while not anti-Halachic - does not [necessarily] imply the Halachot derived here.

Shalom
RRW

P. Mishpatim 1 - "Et Ishti" The Question

Originally published 1/27/11, 9:01 am.
I posted the following in the Leining discussion group:

See Shemot: 21:5 "et ishti."
Rashi - [namely] the shifchah.
Rashi makes perfect sense because, after all,  his regular wife goes out with him...
My query is about the term ISHTI. How is this applicable to a woman who is not his lawfully wedded wife, and is merely given over to produce children for the Adon?
The terminology ISHTI seems a bit strange because she never really belongs to this eved Ivri in the first place.
Any suggestions?

Shalom,
RRW

P. Mishpatim 2 - "Et Ishti" The Answer

I received this answer
From Gershon Eliyahu
Aka
Giorgies E. Kepipesiom


«For that matter, bonay is equally troublesome, as the children are not legally his sons, they are the adon's property, they have no yichus to the eved ivri, for example, if he later dies leaving no other children alive, these do not exempt his lawful wife from yibbum or chalitza.

My guess: the key word is "ahavti". True, she is not his, and not his wife. But he has fallen in love with this woman and these children. He is using the possessive forms ishti, bonay, in the sense of "I love this woman as if she were my wife, I love these children as if they were my own sons.

GEK»

I said "this makes sense to me" and I received GEK's permission to share.

Shalom
RRW

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Parsha: Yitro, "Navol Tibbol", Torah as a Co-operative Venture

originally published on 1/12/14

Let's recall Yitro's Mussar to Moshe Rabbenu. Moshe Rabbenu himself couldn't handle the sheer volume of Bnei Yisrael's legal cases without a ranked system of judges beneath him. 

We can easily understand why it's necessary for "G'dolim" to address knotty issues like agunot, defining death, etc. Yet if Moshe Rabbenu  couldn't manage it all,  then al achat kama vakammah, g'dolim today could be overwhelmed too! If it were required that each Rav master every Halachic complexity, then everyone, individually, would face "navol tibbol."  We'd be overwhelmed by the Yam Hatalmud, and Pos'qim, Chas v'Shalom

So it's mistavra that the role of Sarei alafim etc. is just as vital to avoiding "navol tibbol" as Moshe's own role on the top of the pyramid. Local Rabbonim, G'dolim, and any "vaad" or Dayan in between, all play necessary roles in this legal mechanism.Therefore, all levels really need each other. Recall, no one Jew can do all 613 Mitzvot! 


It seems this is the Mussar Heskel from our Parshah: Torah is a co-operative venture


Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Yitro, "2,000 Years Without Torah"

originally published on 1/12/14

Someone recently asked me the following question:

If the Torah is the guidebook for life, how could humanity have survived without this guidebook for 2000 years? In other words, why did God wait for 2000 years before giving the Torah?

I look forward to the ideas and to the discussion in your comments.

Shalom,
Rabbi Ben Hecht

Yitro: Emunah

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016
 
From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at http://www.nishma.org/, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Yitro and the topic is emunah, which is generally translated as faith or trust. The question of how to translate the word actually reflects an issue involved in understanding the word. Is emunah something we control or is it a natural response of one's being? We invite you to look at an article on this topic at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/spark5754-17.htm.

P. Yitro - Last 3 Mitzvot, the Questions

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016

 There are 3 mitzvot at the end of P. Yitro that are wedged in between the end of the 10 Dibrot and P. Mishpatim.
What are they?
What underlying theme connects these three together?
Hint: one is explicit, the other 2 are only subtly connected.

Shalom,
RRW

P. Yitro - Last 3 Mitzvot, the Answers

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016

The 3 mitzvot are
1 "Lo Ta'asoon iti ...elohei chessef..."
2. "Mizbach adama.." thru "ki charb'cha..."
3. "V'lo ta'aleh b'ma'alot...Asher lo tiggaleh ervatcha..."

The common thread?
1. Idol Worship
2. Murder [charbecha]
3. Gilluy Arayot [explicitly so]

These constitute the 3 "cardinal sins" - albeit the last two are "subtle / abbizraihu" cases related specifically to the Mizbei'ach.

Shalom
RRW

Naaseh v'Nishma 2 - The D'var Torah

 originally published 1/14/14

The age-old question or issue grappled with by the Midrash is:
"Why did the Israelites precede Nishma with Naaseh"? IOW how could any Naaseh take place without a preceding Nishma to know WHAT to do first? Seems obvious!

There are several beautiful nuggets in Rabbinical Literature on this. This D'var Torah as I recall was originally based upon a Malbim. But in subsequent years, I could not locate it there. So, suffice it to say I didn't make it up but I've forgotten the precise source. Anyone who CAN identify the source is most welcome to fill the gap.

What's the p'shat of a NISHMA that follows a Naaseh? It seems obvious that in order to facilitate any Naaseh, SOME "how- to" handbook is a given - whether oral, mimetic, or even on video, Naaseh presumes a pre-existing prescription. As such, Halachah l'maaseh is a predicate for Naaseh, and therefore Kal vochomer must precede any Nishma.
So the sequence is
Mitzva
Performance [Naaseh]
THEN
Nishma!
So what is the definition of that term Nishma?

Nishma simply may be defined as Torah Lishmah. In fact, it is Torah WITHOUT any pragmatic ramification!
So when we learn Shulchan Aruch in order to Observe Shabbat, that is NOT a function of Naaseh, it is a preparation, a "hechsher mitzvah" for Naaseh.
Nishma goes beyond Observance. It is deeper. It is unique to Israel to go beyond the Divine Command.
As such, there are many implications to this. Most reserved for an upcoming post
The simplest and most straightforward Implication is that Men AND women have an equal obligation in [most of] Naaseh. Thus any "Torah" that teaches practical Halachah is equally required for both genders
However, Nishma is purely a Masculine Obligation of "Torah Lishma"
-----------------

To briefly expand the question of whether this theoretical Torah lishma is merely Optional to or Off-limits to women is the subject of debate.
At any rate, this is the essence of the d'var Torah - that Torah studied BEYOND that which is a prerequisite for Performance THAT is Nishma.
BEH in upcoming posts I will
•.Expound on some of the other ramifications
• Offer some alternative understandings of "NISHMA"

Shalom
RRW

Yitro: The Flow of Sinai

Originally published 2/13/09, 11:45 AM.

To many, the goal of religion is to attain a greater and greater religious or spiritual experience. Within the realm of Torah, though, the Jewish nation has already reached the pinnacle of religious experiences, the Revelation at Sinai. So what then is the Jewish religious experience or process through life?

Rabbi Hecht addresses this issue in an Insight from 5758 available at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5758-13.htm

Parsha: Yitro - How to Divide the Asseret Haddibrot?

originally posted January 23, 2013

How are the "10 Commandments" to be parsed [i.e. enumerated into different commandments] according to:

A. Hazal?

B and C. The Masoretic text?
[two different answers]

D. R Wolf Heidenheim? -

Wolf Heidenheim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Heidenheim



-----------------------------------------
Shalom and Best Regards,
RRW

MISTAKES are always forgivable
If you have the courage to admit them.

Yitro Vs. Ruth

originally published on 1/12/14

We read the 10 Dibrot on both P. Yitro and on Shavuot, and technically on vo'Etchanan, too! We also read the Scroll of Ruth on Shavuot so we can easily "connect the dots" between Ruth and the Dibrot
Now let's ask -

What do Yitro and Ruth have in common, and where do they differ?

What they do have in common is the discovery of the ONE TRUE G-D! No denying the sincerity of their common quest for that Holy Grail - so to speak.

Where do they differ?

Yitro found G-d, but - despite his relationship to his daughter and son-in-law - he subsequently abandoned the Jewish People to return to Midian.

Ruth, however, cleaved to Naomi and abandoned Moab to live the life of a beggar in Judea. Her commitment motto? Ameich Ami Veilokayich Elokai!. Her declaration of loyalty to the Jewish Nation preceded her commitment to G-D!

Blasphemy? Adearrabbah - a prerequisite! Yitro is the prototype of the Noahide who has found the True G-d but needs no society.

Ruth is the true convert, the prototypical "Ger Tzedeq" (actually Giyoert of course!). There is one reason to convert to Judaism following one's Spiritual Journey - to join the Priestly Kingdom and the Holy Nation. In truth, to live a life of G-dliness as an individual spiritual seeker needs no Judaism or Peoplehood.

Ruth's progeny? David and Mashiach. Her affiliation to our peoplehood earned her common destiny with us.
Yitro? A good guy to whom we say "fare thee well". Who of Yitro's descendants makes a glorious impact? Not the descendants of Hever haKeini who are allies.

Any sincere spiritual seeker can find G-d as an individual Noahide, but the prototypical Ger/Giyoret shares Jewish Destiny and Torah, as well as G-d.

Shalom,
RRW

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Parsha: BeShalah, "Mah Titz'aq Eilai?"

originally posted January 16, 2016

See Shmot: Beshalah: 14:15


Rashi cites a Midrash explaining why Hashem tells Moshe to stop praying. He offers two reasons. 

A No time to lengthen prayer if people are suffering
B. Hashem is asking, "why Bother ME? It's in Your hands!"


This reminds me of a wise statement about Prayer and Action:
PRAY as if everything depends upon G-d,
ACT as if everything depends upon you!

Shalom, RRW

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Parsha: Bo, "Rashi on P'shat and D'rash"

originally posted January 9, 2016

Rashi D"H V'im yim'at habbayyit...(Bo 12:4 )

First, Rashi says, "X l'fee f'shuto..." 
Namely, if there aren't enough people to completely eat the Pesach lamb, and they will come to have Nottar, then these people are to join their neighbors.

V'od yeish bo Midrash: "That following 'shenimnu' they may still withdraw whilst the lamb still lives". Rashi does NOT force the P'shat to conform to D'rash EVEN when that D'rash is Halachic and not Aggadic.

Thus, P'shat of a phrase can be independent of the Halachot derived from it . Even though the p'shat here IS influenced by Halachah. It conforms to an explicit text concerning Nottar. Although we can't be certain, it doesn't seem to CONTRADICT halachah either! 

Summary:

While Rashi does suggest that P'shat conforms with Halachah,  he also mentions that Halachic D'rash adds a dimension that goes well beyond P'shat.


Shalom,

RRW

Parsha: Bo, V'yameish Hoshech Onkelos, Rashi and Sinai"

originally posted January 9, 2016

Bo 10:21 "V'yameish Hoshech"

Rashi says that, "k'mo v'ya'ameish...V'Onkelos Tirgeim l'shon hassarah k'mo
'Lo yamish'. "

If Targum Onkelos is miSinai, then how can Rashi argue that, "Ein hadibbur m'ushav al havav"
If Rashi MAY argue - then what does it mean to say Onkelos is MiSinai?


Shalom,

RRW