Saturday, 14 October 2017

Parsha: Noah, "Community and Individual; Ayn Rand and RSR Hirsch"


When is egotism a legitimate expression of moral indignation and when is it just conceit, arrogance and unholy defiance?

Although RSR Hirsch highly praises community elsewhere, I understood how this same community could be evil when reading his observations on Dor Haflagah. Migdal Bavel, though the paradigm of a peaceful co-operative community, set itself up in defiance of the Divine. Foreshadowing both Fascism and Communism, it sought to sacrifice the individual on the altar of the greater whole.

This suppression of the individual rightfully sparks the ego's rebellion  Why rightfully? When it suppresses the individual, any collective without sanction of the Almighty is inherently evil.

No wonder Ayn Rand flew from Godless Bolshevism. Her nature impelled her to rebel. Given the frightening parallels between Migdal Bavel and the Stalinistic 5-Year plans, her flight was well-justified! (Whether her alternative passes muster is another matter.)

R. Hirsch emphasizes that the praiseworthy community and culture is the one built around preserving and perpetuating Torah Tradition. He himself led a paradigmatic community in Frankfort when he broke with the local Heterodox Community there. It remains, although in reduced numbers, in Washington Heights. B"H, it is not the sole community based upon Torah Values.

Any community whose mission is "Hirschian" in nature deserves the deference of the individual. On the other hand, any community designing to compete against G-d deserves the defiance of the repressed individual soul.  The gray area today, dear reader, is the society that is neither culturally devoted to G-d nor out to defeat G-d. This apathy leaves us a conundrum.

Take for example, the United States circa WWII. There was no question of a society and culture which opposed Marxist Atheism in favour of a common non-denominational service to the Al-Mighty and compassion for mankind. This society had the common focus of G-d only in the most general terms, eschewing barriers between sects.

Now that Secularism is replacing this non-denominational common-denominator service to the Creator, this society is slipping off of its pedestal, teetering ever so closely to a Godless tilt, Heaven Forbid. It remains to be seen if we can restore a society that supports a common Deity in a compassionate and mutually supportive fashion as we did over sixty years ago.

Should we veer too far away, individuals will arise and break away to form tiny independent communities re-dedicated to the ideals and traditions that once made us a truly "Great Society". A new Austritt Gemeinder will have to appear to preserve a Torah life-style amid the deterioration of what was once the ideal, just as Avraham ho'Ivri crossed over to oppose the Dor Haflagah in his own day.

Shalom,
RRW

Parsha: Noach, "The Question of Dual Moralities"

This week's parsha is Noach. The topic is the Noachide Code. Most individuals believe this Code to be an abbreviated form, a subset, of the Taryag Code that applies to Jews. In fact, the Noachide Code is a fully independent system. At times it even yields conclusions that are in conflict with the Halacha that Jews are supposed to follow.

One example of this is found in the rules of judgement and justice. The noted Insight investigates this surprising reality;  how can two moral systems originating in the Divine have such distinctions?

We bring forth the article,  The Question of Dual Moralities from Nishma's Online Library in order to initiate some discussion.

Shalom, RBH

Parsha: Noah, "Fathers and Sons; RSR Hirsch on 9:24"

Years ago, I came up with a cute idea:

Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim refers to visiting the sins of the parents through, or by means of, the children. This constitutes a serious warning, "Honour your father and your mother, lest you be punished though your children."
- Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, new edition, p. 243 on Bereishit: 9:24

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch applies this to Noah's curse of Ham. Sins that children commit against their parents will be punished by the manner in which their own children, in turn, will deal with them. K'na'an's actions would be the mechanism through which Ham's dishonour of his father Noah would be punished.

This is my own P'shat on Poqeid Avon Avot al Banim. Baruch Shekivanti!

Shalom,

RRW

Parsha: Noah, "Noah's Missing Year"


According to the Torah:
  1. Noah lived for 950 years.
  2. Noah was already 600 years old before the Flood happened.
  3. The Flood lasted for 1 full solar year according to Rashi and the text.
  4. Noah lived for another 350 years AFTER the flood.
  5. Noah's total life-span is 950 years.
  6. However, if 600 + 1 + 350 = 951, Then Noah SHOULD have lived 951 years!
One person, basing his reasoning on text and on the Rashi that the seasons were suspended, has asserted that time stood still for one year. I rejected this attempt at an answer because the text notes all the dates, and  Rashi's point about one solar year would be senseless if time stood still.
Where is Noah's missing year? Which commentaries deal with this?
Why did the Torah:

1) Increase Noah's Age by 1 year from BEFORE the Flood until After the Flood?
2) One attempted answer is that time stood still for that year of the flood. If so, then why does the Torah give a chronicle of 1 solar year replete with starting and ending dates? - Viz. 17th of the 2nd month until 27th of the 2nd Month
3) How did Rashi presume 1 year based upon the text?
4) List Time expended such as 40 days, 150 days, 1 week [3 separate times] etc.?
5) Give Noah's total age when embedded  in this calculation was suspended immeasurable time?
Shalom,
RRW

B'nei Elokim - Machloqet RaSHbY and Zohar

There is a dispute on B'reisheet 6:2 re: the definition of "B'nei Elohim".
Are they angels?
Or
children of the "judges"?

[Note Onkelos has a third read - viz. children of the "powerful"]

It turns out that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai comes out on both sides of the dispute!

First, See Torah Temimah on B'reisheet 6:2 Ot 2

The TT quotes Yoma 66b re: "Azazeil" etc. and the Rashi on that passage, which favours the first defintion, and then TT says it is "mashma m'forash b'Zohar"

However, B'reisheet Rabba on THIS Passuq quotes RaSHbY that
«B'nei Elohim elu b'nei dayyana» and that RaSHbY would curse anyone who would say they were angels [B'nei Elohaya]

This contradiction is noted by the TT himself.

The TT supports the read of the Talmud and Zohar from Avot d'Rabbi Nathan ch. 31 that mentions a grave sin was a LACK of judges during that era.

This conclusion may be somewhat disputed by Onkelos' definition above that they were neither children of Judges nor angels, but children of the "mighty"

Shalom
RRW

Parsha: Noah, "R.S.R. Hirsch, Inuits, and Vegetarianism"

There is a lot of discussion about the desirability of vegetarianism.  It was the original antediluvian ideal etc.

Yet the Torah unambiguously permits consuming flesh.
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as with the green herbs have I given you all these"
Hirsch, Bereishit 9:3, New Edition P. 222.
The Torah simply equates flesh and herbs. There isn't any hierarchy of preference.

R. Hirsch elaborates as to what changed to make this so. Certainly "Eskimos" [Inuit], would find it difficult to  become vegetarians. Any cold climate could present a similar challenge

Shalom, RRW

Parsha: Noah, "The Rainbow Covenant"


There are several approaches to the OT Brit found in the Keshet in Parshat Noah. (B'raishit: 8: 21-22)
  1. The more "mystically" inclined will read that Hashem created the rainbow just to signify the Covenant. They will think the rainbow a brand new phenomena. 
  2. The more "rationally" minded will think that while rainbows had long predated Noah. Hashem was only now investing the Rainbow with new meaning and new significance through the covenant.
As per Hashqafah #2 we create Holy artifacts by sanctifying them. For example, a mundane piece of gold is endowed with holiness when dedicated to the Sanctuary or the like. Humanity's role is therefore not just to  "complete" the existing creation, but to sanctify it as well.

Shalom,
RRW

Parallels Between Sulam Yaakov and Migdal Bavel

Guest Blogger: R Shaul Robinson
* * * * *
In Israel last week I bought the Sefer "Parshut' of Rav Chaim Navon. I am a big fan of the 'pshuto shel mikra / inter textual analysis' of Chumash...

One of the ideas he discusses on the parsha was a real eye opener for me because I'd never heard of it before - the textual similarities between Ya'akov's dream and the Tower of Bavel. The examples are very persuasive - Rosh bashamayim pen nafutz vs ufaratzta - Bavel as 'Gate of G-d' vs Sha'ar Hashamayim, going to and from Kedem etc...

After reading as much as I could about this (and sites like vbm , Bar Ilan all have a number of shiurim on these parallels) I was left with the following question. None of the Rishonim from what I can see, noted this parallel. Neither, more significantly, it would appear did Chazal (at least from checking Torah Sheleimah - and , one can often find a lot of the 'new' style of p'shat interpretation anticipated in Midrashim) ... So what do we conclude from this complete absence in traditional sources of something that seems textually compelling? That it must be wrong / irrelevant because Chazal would have pointed it out? I.E. its 'outside the masorah' of exegesis..or that the links are there, but the Masorah is that it's not important, because we are supposed to draw other lessons from the story of Ya'akov's dream? Or that even though the Rishonim never said it, its a completely valid form of interpretation that one can in good conscience teach as the Emet of Torah


Kol Tuv,
RRW

Parsha: Noah, "The Flood Waters were 'Boiling'"


The Torah Temimah writes that,  "Vayashoku Hamayyim" that the flood waters were "boiling." (Noah: 8:1)

Why is it valuable for us to know that Flood which drowned was also boiling?  Why is "boiling" water necessary if the Flood drowned all the life on dry land? If the Aggadah tells us that the fish were exempt from punishment, then why would the point of this boiling water be to kill the fish?
Many years ago, I heard a d'var Torah on this subject. This information is here to teach us that two distinct processes were at work here meant to cleanse and purify the earth.
  1. Immersion or T'vilah. These drowning waters were to cleanse the earth through immersion, like a Miqveh.
  2. Hag'alah.  The boiling water would purge all impurities in a similar way to kashering pots and utensils for Passover
The knowledge gives us insight into purifying ourselves and our environment.


Shalom,
RRW

A Modern Day Noah's Ark


You Canadians have it SO good


A Modern Day Noah's Ark

And the Lord spoke to Noah and said,

"In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole Earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark.

In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark.

"Remember" said the Lord, "You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.

The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.

"Noah," He shouted. "Where is the Ark?"

"Lord, please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.

Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

"Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me catch any owls. So, no owls.

"The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have sixteen carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls.

"When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.

"Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a map.

"Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard.

"The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.

"I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational watercraft.'

"Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years!" Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm.

A rainbow arched across the sky.

Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"

"No," said the Lord sadly. "I don't have to. The government already has."



- Author Unknown (but greatly appreciated!)

--
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
RabbiRichWolpoe@Gmail.com
Please Visit:
http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/

Parsha: Noah, "Cappara vs. Teshuva"

first published October 10, 2015

Parshat Noah, 6:15 S.V. "v'chafarta", R.S.R. Hirsch, New edition p. 182

The basic meaning of CPR is a protective or restrictive covering. In a sense, then, Copher means "Cover". Cappara is a covering.

V'al kol pesha-im techashe b'ahava...

In other words, to pray for Cappara is to pray that one's sins - or that the negative impact of these sins - will be covered up.

Teshuva is "returning to the state before sin". It is a retroactive process. Teshuva is the undoing of a sin.

Here is a mashal: A man gains weight and as a result his blood pressure rises.

Cappara would be to take blood pressure medication. The man is shielded from the deleterious effects of his weight, even though he is still heavy.

Doing Teshuva would involve the man's dieting and exercising, losing the weight and reducing the hypertension. In other words, restoring his body back to the healthy way it was before the weight gain altered its body chemistry.

Of course, Teshuva is a more complete process. A thorough Teshuva might take years.

Yom Kippur is more of a quick fix.  Perhaps it's necessary to take the palliative of Cappara before the cure of Teshuva is available.

Shalom,
RRW

Noach "Oppression Of One's Fellowman Is The Worst Sin"

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
* * * * *

The Generation of the Flood rebelled against God's dominion. But the Torah itself informs us that it was not this rebellion that brought on the world's destruction. The immediate cause of the destruction was the oppression of man by his fellow.
Now the earth had become corrupt before God; and the world had become filled with oppression. (Genesis 6:12)
The Talmud learns from here that although the earth was totally corrupted by idolatry and immorality, the fate of the flood generation was only sealed for destruction because of acts of robbery and oppression. (Sanhedrin 108a)
God is endlessly tolerant of man's sins, but He listens to the cry of the oppressed, as we are taught:
You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you cause him [the orphan] pain ... if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:21-23)
God's anger must be ignited before He will consent to sit in judgment, and it only blazes when the cry of the oppressed reaches His ears. Once God assumes the seat of justice, He will administer retribution for all of man's sins, but unless He is prompted to do so by the cries of the oppressed, man can, in effect, do as he likes as God will never agree to sit in judgment.
This principle finds its strongest expression in the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities who are metaphors for evil and its consequences:
Now the people of Sodom were wicked and sinful towards God, exceedingly. (Genesis 13:13)
Yet, despite their evil, God only brought them to justice because of the outcry of an oppressed maiden.
"I will descend and see: if they act in accordance with this outcry, then destruction!" (Genesis 18:21)
The Midrash explains that this outcry, which prompted God to sit in judgment, was the scream released by Lot's daughter Plitas as she was cruelly murdered by the populace for having committed the crime of secretly feeding a pauper. (Pirkei d'R'Elazar, Ch.25)
The same thing had happened in the time of the generation that preceded the flood, and it was this kind of cruelty of man against man that led God to destroy the earth. If you want to really hurt God, then hurt your fellow man and it may be one of the last times you hurt anyone!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Parsha: B'reishit, "A New Perspective on Etz Hada'at"


In reviewing the Parshah with the Artscroll Ba'al Haturim Humash, I noticed a secondary aspect to Havvah's "sin" of eating from the "Eitz Hada'at".

The original take on Original Sin is that Adam exceeded his authority by telling Havvah not to touch the fruit. His credibility was sunk when the snake so easily debunked his Humra, that Havvah just had to give into temptation. Or did she? The Midrash adds [P. 1395] that Havvah slandered Adam in her mind "All that my teacher [Adam] instructed me is false".

We see that Hashem gave Adam a Mitzvah. Adam -acting as a "Rabbi" - violated "bal Tosif" by over-instructing Havvah. This excessive instruction enabled the Nahash to override the original Mitzvah, too.

What's the slander? After all, Havvah seems correct. She was, after all, misled by her Rabbi. This "slander" is a secondary aspect and highly instructive to any Talmid who finds a flaw in the instructions of his Rebbe. What happens when a Rabbi has apparently said something flawed, or, C"V, something definitely flawed.

How should we react?

Let me re-quote with emphasis: "ALL that my teacher instructed me is false"
This itself is jumping to a false conclusion. Making an error might impeach one's credibility. Furthermore, even while Adam was not infallible, it does not mean that all he said was false. So how should Havvah and/or our hypothetical Talmid should have reacted to a perceived flaw in instruction?
  1. A rationalist approach: "While there was a flaw in what my Rebbe said, not all that my teacher instructed me is false" 
  2. A believer's approach: "Despite a possible flaw in what my rebbe said, something, (I. E.some core principle) must be true even if he failed on some detail". 
Havvah could have reacted, saying, "wait a minute, Nahash! Just because I can touch this fruit - it doesn't mean I should go ahead and eat it!"

At any rate, this is not about berating Havvah. It's about teaching our hypothetical Talmid not to over-react and to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, Adam erred on the side of caution, but this does not license one to throw caution to the wind.

Many years ago, when I took my driver's test, my instructor told me, "Rich, the speed limit on the course is 25 MPH. But go about 20 anyway".
I proceeded to go 15 MPH. My inspector was impatiently at his wit's end. Although he lectured me about being able to make quicker reactions, he did pass me. My caution, though annoying, was not fatal.
Now, if I had said to myself, "my instructor said 20, but the sign really says 25 - so I'll do better and go 30!" I might still be trying to pass my licensing exam to this day! ;-)

As you see, "fools rush in..." Adam might be faulted for over-compensating, but some level of trust - of emunat hachamim - is a must for Torah Observance

Shalom,
RRW

Etz Hada'as - So What IS So Bad about Knowing Good from Evil Anyway?

Originally published 10/23/07, 6:17 PM, Eastern Daylight Time

Q: So wasn't the nachash [snake] right? After all, what is so bad about knowing Good from Evil?
A: Because now we are stuck in a judgmental paradigm that we cannot escape.

Q: Whatcha mean?
A: I guess, before the "sin," we were all like Zen monks. Everything just IS. We only lived for the present moment. No discussion, no planning, no remembering, just being and experiencing.

Now, we are constantly stuck in the mind game
  • Did I do the right thing?
  • Did so-and-so do the right thing?
  • Were the Yankees GOOD to Torre?
  • Was Torre's firing Good for the Jews?"
We are STUCK evaluating every last detail of our existence on this veil of tears and there is no escape!

Q: Wow! So what can we do NOW?
A: Hashiveinu Hashem...Hadesh Yameinu kekdem. Restore us to our original state of ignorant bliss. But, please hurry, it has taken way too long already!

KT
RRW

Parshah: Breishit, "Na'aseh Adam"


There are many interesting interpretations and apologetics of the First Person Plural in the case of "Na'aseh Adam." (Breishit: 1:26)

Notzrim allege a multi-faceted Divinity, [Heaven Forbid! L'havdil]. RSR Hirsch counters this interpretation, reading "Naaseh" as a royal We. Rashi favours Hashem u'veit Dino - due to HIS Humility.

I have a simple reading.  Hashem created Adam as the sum of all that went before. Adam contained components of every step of creation. Adam is therefore part Light, water, earth, reptile, bird, beast etc. - as well as heavenly and angelic.

Hashem is "quarterbacking" or exhorting the entire "team" of creatures to pull together to make Adam Harishon.   Hashem partnered with all of his previous creations, Heavenly and Earthly, to make Adam. Na'aseh is addressed to all creatures.

Shalom,

RRW

Is Darwin Kosher?

Originally published 7/8/07, 10:45 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
 
A Tradition's Evolution: 
Is Darwin Kosher? - Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118308869790152666.html?mod=todays_us_weekend_journal 
 
In a recent discussion with some of my chevra , we concluded that TRUE science and TRUE religion - since all of the above emanate from the same God - cannot be in any conflict.

However, in the human realm, we don't really understand the ultimate truths of science yet, as we probably do not really understand Torah or God - except on a superficial level. One day, there will live a Rambam and an Einstein all wrapped up in the same person who will get to the bottom of both realms. He will discover that when you really comprehend both Torah and science, their only conflict is semantic.

I believe it was R. Sa'adya Gaon who first posited that mitzvoth will gradually become more and more rational over time, and we will then grasp their meaning.

Here is an example: Most meforshim interpret "Taninim Gedolim" as sea monsters or whales... This is loosely based on RSR Hirsch on Parshat Vo'eira. He asserts, basing himself on the Haftorah, that we can interpret "Tanim" as crocodile and "Taninim g'dolim" as great lizards - Dinosaurs. A little bit of archaeology,  some flexlible etymology, and you can point to dinosaurs within the Torah.

What is definitively true of the Torah well before Darwin is that it describes a creation proceeding from the simple and progressing to the complex. Thus we see the confluence of Torah and Mada as an evolving process. - pun most intended -

KT
RRW

Parsha: B'reishit, "Vaychula, Vaychal"

Here is an exchange on the Leining Google Group
* * * * *

I posed this question given: B'reisheet 2:1,2.
  • Vaychulu TARGUM v'ishtachlalu
  • Vaychal TARGUM v'sheitzei
Why did Onkelos change the verb?

------------------------

  • "And the heavens and the earth are completed, and all their host;"(Bereishit: 2:1)
  • "and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, and ceaseth by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made." (Bereishit: 2:2)

As you can see, the same verb is used, albeit in passive and active voices.

FREE Online Youngs Literal Translation. Genesis Chapter 2:1-25.


------------------------
As to the reason for the Targum's change of meaning, there is an old sefer on Onkelos named Patshegen (viewable at hebrewbooks.org) who explains that if "vaichulu" merely meant "completed" rather than shichlul (which he equates with the Hebrew "tikkun"), then the second pasuk would be adding nothing to the first: if the work was completed, then of course HKBH completed it. Thus, the first is interpreted as meaning perfected, while the second means completed.
- Meir  meir251@hotmail.com


Shalom,

RRW

Parsha: B'reishit, "First Rashi"


The Rashi on the first pasuq of the Torah is striking. There, Rashi quotes R' Yitzhak, mentioning another possible beginning to the Torah. Instead of B'reishit, R' Yitzchak suggests  "hachodesh hazzeh" (Shmot: 12:2).

Q:  Why should the Torah start at Parshat Hachodesh and not Be'reishit? What's so special about it?
A: There are several approaches. For instance, this was the first Mitzvah given to all Israel

Along those lines, the main significance is that this starts off the Mechilta. Since the earliest strand of Torah sheb'al Peh begins with this passuq,  it would be natural to start Torah shebichtav [Miqra] at that same point.

Shalom,

RRW

Parsha: Breisheet, "She'amar l'Olam Dai! & Darwin"

HKBH completed creation by saying DAI (DIE?).  Thus creative activity ceased.
- RSR Hirsch, B'reisheet 2:1.

It seems a certain Creative Force reined during the six Days of Creation, until S-D-Y [the Almighty] terminated it.  Yet it would appear that Creativity and even Evolution continues! So what, precisely, has stopped?

Here is a possible case of terminated creativity. As far as I know,  no human has personally witnessed a species morph into a more evolved species. No one sees mice becoming rabbits or deer. (Microbes may be an exception.) Yet adaptation has been observed within a species...

My big "kasha" on Darwin has long been this: How did Darwin understand adaptation to apply regarding evolving from one species to another? This is, as far as I know, unknown!

Now, with RSR Hirsch's assistance, I can approach a reconciliation.

When HKBH made the world during the six days, such evolution from one species to the next, or its equivalent, may have indeed reigned upon the earth.  As such, when Hashem created a certain species,  He may have done so in such a way as to evolve X into species Y and Z, etc. This pattern is coded into the original Creation Process's "DNA".

Conceivably, Darwin may have detected a legacy of that process or its equivalent. However, once S-D-Y said "DIE", this aspect of the creative process was terminated and what had already been made - and was also making - became fixed, locked. No new species would ever emerge.

Still, a remnant, a legacy of the original creativity and adaption remains, but the species have been fixed and limited - as perhaps other aspects of Creation. Therefore, since Vayachulu, the Original Creative process was terminated. Only its shadow remains

Shalom,

RRW

B'reishit: Pru uRvu & Yishuv ha'Olam

This idea is extrapolated from Hirsch Humash Breishis 1:28, New edition pm 46, S.V. "Umil'u"
*****


It seems bepashtus that the mitzva of pru urvu is about populating the world by reproducing more humans than what were there before. This does not mean merely replacing, but adding on through increasing the numbers.
While women are technically exempt from this mitzva, their participation is essential nonetheless. Lasheves yetzarah also implies a quasi obligation upon women to participate in this goal.
Now let's step back and ask: what about those [men and women] who unfortunately are not birthing children due to various circumstances and limitations? What should the childless Jew do?
Approaching this from a communal focus - instead of from an individual focus - the resolution seems also "pashtus". Men and women who are not blessed with offspring can assist others in this noble endeavor.

Digression:
The last mitzva in the Torah -  kesivas Sefer Torah - is assigned to the individual. Yet, it is rarely accomplished by the individual anymore. It usually takes a a sofer, and often it "takes a village."
So too, with bringing up the next generation. The physical parents are analogous to the sofer, and so there is room for more participation. Several tasks that can be parceled out to the community at large include:
• Assisting the new parents by providing meals or "baby-sitting" relief.
• Medical and Nursing Assistance.
• Training or Coaching "new parents."
• Training children in Talmud Torah or in parnassah.
• Participating in synagogue youth work, such as minyanim, etc.
• Giving rides when necessary for parents or children - such as to the doctor or shopping.
• Playing surrogate "grandparents" when the children have none handy.
Anyway, the list goes on. The point of this exercise is to afford an opportunity for the community to adopt this mitzva so that all may be a part of yishuv olam. So those that cannot do for themselves can still enable others in this essential Mitzva.

Illustration:
A childless woman, "Tzipporah," has dedicated her life to teaching children in a Jewish Day School. In addition, as an aunt, she helps her nieces and nephews by playing the role of "surrogate grandmother". Thus both her personal and professional life participate in participating in or enabling the mitzva of Yishuv Olam.

KT,
RRW

Monday, 9 October 2017

B'reisheet - "B'etzev Teil'dee Banim"

Originally published 10/19/09, 3:09 pm.
B'reishit 3:16 - B'etzev Teil'dee Banim...

Itzavon in modern Hebrew can mean "depression"

Could this Passuq refer to Post-Partum depression?
So as to render this phrase, "With [or in] "depression" shalt thou bear children..."

KT,
RRW

Parsha: Breishit, "Breishit and Religulous"

The pattern of Creation in Breishit starts from the most simple creation (grass), and ends with the most complex (woman :-). This seems parallel to Darwin's hypothesis.  I also find 'dinosaurs' in "taninim g'dolim." So, without working too hard on apologetics, the Humash narrative and broadly accepted scientific hypothesis seem comparable.
"But to argue against the evolutionary process completely on the basis of the literal meaning of the bible is to argue..."
-  Rabbi David Willig
Furthermore, Rabbi Willig suggests taking Torah seriously, but not literally.  Although you need some flexibility in order to ignore dogmatists on both sides of the debate, his approach may be quite informative.

We know from the Torah text that it makes no sense to assume that first four days of creation actually lasted twenty-four hours. The sun and moon were created on the fourth day, while plants were created on the third.  A fundamental reading of the text cannot really match what passes for a fundamental read anyway. Again, not apologetics, just a simple analysis of the text.

Were I teaching a "Martian," I would say that both Darwin wrote from a technical perspective, while the Torah approaches the same sequence from a more spiritual and poetic perspective- yet both were describing the same events (more or less). So it's primarily a gap in style, not a difference in substance.

Even my 9th grade science teacher - a secular Jew - taught us classic evolution and allowed for the possibility that God was pulling the strings. As far as I know, I think most of us students were quite comfortable with that perspective. None of us felt that it threatened our faith in Humash


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

Parsha Breisheet - Word Play #1 ARM


Continuing my Study of Breisheet with R.S.R. Hirsch...End of Chapter 2:25
Vayihyu sh'neihem "Arumim"
Beginning of chapter 3:1 "v'haNachash hayah "Arum"

Of course the words convey different meanings, the former "nakedness" the latter "cunning." Nevertheless the [apparently] common root - juxtaposed so closely together - seems to be an obvious literary device.
NB: While R. Hirsch does indeed mention "Eryeh" in conjunction with the earlier term "Arumim", he does not seem to focus upon that definition.. Yet Arayot - as in "Giluy Arayot" - seems to be the obvious focus of the Nahash's meddling into Havvah's business. And this is so indicated by the Midrash.

KT
RRW

Parsha B'reisheet - Word Play #2 CHWH[Y]

Chavah [HWH] is named by Adam [Breisheet 3:20] after the incident with the Nahash. Until then she is merely "ha'Ishah"

R.S.R. Hirsch points out an interesting word play with the Aramaic word "Chivya" [Hiwyah].
The root of the Hebrew Chavah and the Aramaic Chivyah [snake] are virtually the same. This suggests a very different approach to Chavah's name than the text's own reason [viz. Eim kol Ha]. At any rate, both reasons are apparently the result of the Nahash incidedent
See R.S.R. Hirsch Breisheet 3:6 p. 99 s.v. Sa'avah in the New Edition.

KT,
RRW

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Eqev, Mishnah, Sukkah - Perfect Misunderstanding

The Land Of Israel is Unique:

Dvarim 11:12

A land that the L-rd Your G-d always Seeks

Always Hashem's Eyes are upon her.

Rashi s.v. Tamid to See what she needs and to INNOVATE edicts sometimes for the good and sometimes for the evil.

##############

The mishnah was developed and redacted in the Land of Israel [EY]

Thus, it is logical and reasonable that the above supposition is a given premise - at least running in the background of the minds of the Tannaim.

##############

Mishna Sukkah 2:9

When it rains - they made a parable: like a servant who fills the goblet for his master and the master dumps it in his face.

Based upon Rashi, this is a case of a negative Gezeira that HKBH might C"V might create when Israel misbehaves in EY

##############

Perfect Misunderstanding

That is to assume when it rains in the Golah - such as in North America, that Hashem is altering the weather pattern of the masses to smite the few Jews - say in North America. This may be beyond mis-understanding and approaching hubris that the weather IN THE GOLAH - Sukkos or not - is only Jewis-centric.

This is because the context of this Mishnah has been ignored! And reasonable premises about a Jewish Society are illogically applied in a Gentile Society!

----------------------

May we all Merit to sit in the Sukkah in our Holy Land EY bimheira beyameinu

KT

RRW

Sukkot & Kohellet

See
http://nishmablog.blogspot.ca/2007/09/sukkot-kohellet.html

Zman Simchateinu

The Nishma website at www.nishma.org presents various "Hot Topics" regarding important Torah concepts. One of these is simcha which has specfic importance to the holiday of Succot as this is to be the happiest time of the year. We invite you to look at the Nishma Hot Topic on simcha at http://www.nishma.org/hottopics.html#simcha, read the material sited and comment here as you wish.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Haftarah -Scheduling of Shuvah and Dirshu

« In addition to the three haftarot of doom and the seven haftarot of consolation familiar to us, the Tosafot speak also of "two haftarot of repentance" belonging to this set of haftarot, namely Dirshu Hashem be-Himatzo that is read on Tzom Gedalya and Shuva Yisrael that is read this Shabbat.  This means that this entire set of haftarot constitutes a response to Tisha be-Av. 
The destruction of the Temple necessitates a two-fold response: 1) mourning over the loss of the Temple and the members of Israel who fell in battle; and 2) a process of repentance "in order to stir up the hearts and open the paths of repentance.  This should serve as a reminder of our own evil deeds and those of our forefathers that were as our present deeds to the point that they caused them and us these troubles, so that by remembering these things we should repent and do good."[1]
The first and immediate response to the destruction is consolation; it is urgently needed in order to revive Israel's dejected spirit and strengthen their broken hearts.  Following the great effort that was invested in this cause over the course of the summer, the time has come for the repentance that is required in the wake of the destruction as a repair of Israel's evil deeds that led to it.  We see then that reading the haftara of Shuva stems from a double obligation of repentance: a) the special obligation of repentance generated by the Ten Days of Penitence[2]; and b) an obligation of repentance in the wake of the destruction of the Temple, which is rooted in the laws of fasting, as is emphasized by the Rambam in the aforementioned passage.  Formulated in a slightly different manner, it might be argued that now that we have finished reading the haftarot of consolation, the time has come to act toward their realization and bring about the redemption.  This requires repentance and therefore we must deal with the issue of repentance in the haftarot that follow the haftarot of consolation.»
Torah on the Web - Virtual Beit Midrash
http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/haftara/54shuva.htm


Kol Tuv,
RRW



Parsha: Ha'azinu, "He Measured the Seas in the Hollow of His Hand"

We chose this article from  Nishma's Online Library  relating to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah and to start some discussion.

We encounter the artistic and poetic within Torah through the reading of Ha'azinu. It is with specifically this in mind that we direct you to the following article


Shalom,

RBH

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Parsha: Vayelech, "National Torah and Personal Torah"

We chose an article from the archives of Nishma's Online Library 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 Vayelech, and the topic is the self. We invite you to look at an article on this topic. 

Shalom,


RBH

Limits of Rabbinic Authority


Originally posted 8/26/07, 3:15 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

Are there any objective limits to Rabbinic Authority? Or can rabbis rule subjectively and perhaps capriciously to advance their opinions, ignoring Black letter Law or the concept of Eilu v'Eilu? This subject was previously broached on Nishmablog, here. More than ever, it is something to consider seriously.

Here is an e-mail I sent to The Jewish Week that was recently published. More background on this matter is available and BEH will be published on this thread or subsequent threads.
(08/24/2007)
Rabbinic Decisions
I would like to echo the remarks of Rabbi Noah Gradowsky (Letters, July 13). Certainly Orthodox rabbis should be empowered to render decisions concerning halacha [Jewish law]. That said, I have two caveats: First, they should not make decisions that are absolute when the matter is in dispute. The Lower East Side eruv controversy comes to mind. Some Orthodox rabbis are prohibiting making an eruv. Instead, they should be merely rendering an opinion as to the eruv"s validity.

Second, rabbis should not be "thought police." People should be entitled to think for themselves. The hidden thoughts are for God alone to determine. At most, rabbis can rule on prescribed behavior. However, the philosophy as to how best to implement laws should remain a matter for open-minded debate.
Rabbi Richard Wolpoe
Teaneck, N.J.
NB: The Hidden Thoughts refer specifically to "hanistaros L'Hashem Elokeinu" - [end of Shlishi in Parshas Nitzavim]. While a Beth Din has every right to enforce behavioral standards "v'haniglos lany ul'evaneinu" nevertheless our intimate thoughts [and possibly intimate behavior] are "bein Adam Lamakom" alone.

Lo Bashamayim Hee

Originally published 5/27/08, 12:37 AM.
 Some give and take on Avodah with regard to Parshat Nitzavim

First Cantor Richard Wolberg:
«The Sages relate that the angels complained to Hashem when He chose to share His precious Torah with His people. They argued, "Your glory (Your Torah) should remain among the Heavenly beings. They are holy and Your Torah is holy, they are pure and Your Torah is pure and they are everlasting and Your Torah is also." One of the answers to that is three words from the Torah: "Lo bashamayim hee".

However, Midrash Shochar Tov 8 says that Hashem responded that the Torah could not remain amongst them because they are perfect spiritual beings with no mortality, impurity or illness. Hashem's true glory would ultimately come from man plagued by impurity and mortality.
Cantor R Wohlberg»

Then RRW:
«Hazal wanted us to know that once the Torah left the heavens it would no longer remain the pristine Perfect Handiwork of HKBH, but would henceforth be managed and interpreted by error-prone humans. Nevertheless - despite the loss of innocence for the Torah - this step was necessary. The time had come for the innocent Torah to mix it up with the mortals and to help us even if if would not remain in its original state.

------------------------------------------

Hence though Torah started miSinai, it is not necessarily purely miSinai any longer. It is now an admixture.

~*~*~*~

Now for Michael Markovi:
A much-expanded version of a previous post of mine to this thread, regarding my...err...radical view of TSBP:

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner makes a large point of this, saying that the truth of Torah She'be'al'pe is not what Hashem says but what we say (Rabbi Eliezer and the oven), in line with Drashot haRan #5 on theoven and Sefer haChinuch on the mitzvah of following the judges, that
we follow our rabbis even when they're wrong.

See also Rabbi Gil Student's "Halachic Responses To Scientific Developments"
(http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/science.html)
citation of Yad Yehuda 30:3, quoting Rambam Hilkhot Shekhita 10:12-13, that we cannot question Chazal's decisions regarding which animals are treifa, because all we have is Chazal's decisions, and they are sealed.

According to Rambam, drashot can be overturned by a later Sanhedrin.

In fact, Rabbi Glasner, quoting the Midrash Shmuel on Avot, "aseh sayag laTorah", says that the Oral Law was oral davka to make it flexible and subject to change. This explains the Gemara's apocalyptic permission to write the Oral Law, viz "eit la'asot lashem"; by writing the Oral Law, to save it, a vital piece of it was destroyed, part of its raison d'etre in fact! Because once a piece of the Oral Law was written, it became authoritative, and no longer subject to change and
evolution as was previously the case.

Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (who received semicha from Rabbi Glasner's son, Rabbi Akiva Glasner) expands extensively on this point, that the writing of the Mishna, Gemara, and the Codes successively ossified the halacha in a way that the Oral Law was never meant to be, making us Karaites of the Oral Law.

See Rabbi Glasner's hakdamah to his Dor Revi'i, perush on Chullin. It is partially translated by Rabbi Yaakov Elman at
http://www.math.psu.edu/glasner/Dor4/elman.html.
See also the biography by David Glasner at
http://www.math.psu.edu/glasner/Dor4/Dorrev7.html.
As for Rabbi Berkovits, he makes his points in a variety of locations, including Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha (aimed at secularly-educated scholars), Halakha: Kocha v'Tafkida (aimed at rabbinical scholars), Towards Historic Judaism, and Crisis and Faith.

Rabbi Glasner simply takes this entire philosophy a bit further thanmost. Likewise Rabbi Berkovits on Moshe seeing Rabbi Akiva's class andnot understanding and learning from this that Torah does evolve overtime; both are more extreme than most, but the gist of what they say is quite normative, as far as it seems to me. In fact, once we say that

1) halachot could be forgotten and had to be recovered by humans, 2) many drashot were in fact used by humans to actually derive the law(often **but not always** they were asmachtot for laws already knownas kabbalot)

(See, for example, Dynamics of Dispute by Rabbi Zvi Lampel, "Interpretation" by Menachem Elon in Encyclopedia Judaica, Rabbi Isidore Epstein's introduction to the Soncino Midrash Rabbah, Rabbi Gil Student "Midrash Halakha" at
http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/11/midrash-halakhah.html)

we are admitting the human element of many halachot, and we can no longer say it is purely m'Sinai as most say Torah She'be'al Pe is, and we are forced, as it seems to me, to adopt some sort of opinion similar if not as extreme as those of Rabbis Glasner and Berkovits, as least as far as theory goes (Rabbi Berkovits's actualization of thisphilosophy is a matter for a separate debate.)

Therefore, for example, we ought to realize that an Amora's explanation of a Tanna may be his own personal thoughts, similar to any rav's understanding today of the intent of a prior authority. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his Essential Talmud remarks on the peculiar Talmudic method of okimta, remarking that it aspires not for historicity, but rather, it attempts to make as many pieces of evidence agree as much as it possible.

There is thus no guarantee that a creative drasha is the correct intent of Torah, nor is there any guarantee that an Amora correctly understood a Tanna - see Tosafot Yom Tov Nazir 5:5 for permission to permit mishna differently than the Gemara.

Evidently, the Shadal (Shmuel David Luzzatto) held similarly to this whole line of thought, that Chazal's drashot on mikra are not necessarily "correct". See Shmuel Vargon's "Samuel David Luzzatto's Critique of Rabbinic Exegesis Which Contradicts the Plain Meaning of Scripture",http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/JSIJ/sum2.html
(note: my Hebrew is 
insufficient to have read this article yet, so I am relying on the abstract).

Rabbi David Bigman, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa (on Har haGilboa in the Jezre'el), for example, advocates critical Talmud study, asking, for example, what the Tanna meant independent what the Amora thought he meant; what different codifications of Oral Law say (Bavli, Yerushalmi, Tosefta, etc.), each in their own light. See his "Finding a Home for Critical Talmud Study",
http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/bigman2_1.pdf,
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/talmud/Gemara/ModernStudy/BigmanCritical.

The Kuzari in 3:41 opines that the omer could be brought on any date chosen by Chazal, and it was Chazal who chose the second day of Pesach. If so, then it means the contrary opinions of the Tzadukim (that it was to fall on Sunday, as the literal mikra indicates) is wrong only insofar as it goes against the binding ruling of Chazal, and not because it was an invalid drasha. It seems to me that perhaps alternatively, we simply don't listen to Tzadukim even if they are correct; there is a story in the Gemara of one rabbi being put to death, and he realized it was because he once found a drasha of a min to be pleasing; even though the drasha was valid, he still should have ignored it. In any case, we can extrapolate that in general, freedom of midrash is restricted more by Chazal's binding decisions than any claim of theirs to being the only correct opinion.

I thank Rabbi Yaakov Elman of Yeshiva University for providing me with sources (most notably, he introduced me to Rabbi Glasner when I mentioned Rabbi Berkovits), as well as having extensive discussion with me on their implications. It should be noted, however, that this philosophy is still a work in progress by me, especially as I continue to learn more Chumash, Gemara, and Halacha. It should also be noted that any errors are mine, not Rabbi Elman's, as he has already pointed out certain errors in my thinking, and no doubt there are still more to be found.

Mikh'el Makovi

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Parshah: Ki Tavo - Arami Oved Avi

Question 1:
Why did Chazal choose Arami Oved Avi to illustrate the Central theme of Exodus in the Haggadah as opposed to - for example - Parshat Bo?
And given that there is a Tosefta (Peshachim 10:8) that states: "Those who live the in the city and have nobody to recite Hallel would gather in the shul".

Question 2: 
How would you know how to lead a Seder without knowing how to lead Hallel?
Here is a proposed answer to the 2 questions 
 
Originally, all farmers, when they brought the Bikurim, the first fruit, would recite Arami Oved Avi. So Chazal chose Arami Oved Avi to explain the Exodus because every farmer in Israel would be familiar with Arami Oved Avi when they brought the bikkurim annually to the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalyim.

Now we can answer both questions because we can now explain:

1. Why Hazal specifically picked this Parsha over any other
2. How a Leader at the Seder could be familiar with the Haggadah [Arami Oved Avi] yet still not be familiar with how to lead the Hallel

RRW

Ki Tavo: Free Choice

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 Ki Tavo and the topic is free choice. So often, people use the argument of free choice to explain why knowledge of God is not clear -- for it it was, we would not have free choice but would clearly not sin -- and/or to contend that there can be no consequences for our actions -- for if there were, we would not have free choice as, for sure, we would do what is good for us. If one considers the brachot and klalot in the Torah, though, one must recognize that free choice exists even when knowledge of God is absolute and the recognition of the consequences of one's actions, even the punishment for sins, is clear and accepted. We invite you to look at an article on this topic at http://www.nishma.org/articles/insight/insight5757-18.htm

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Parshah Ki Teitzie 9/11, Amaleik, Honesty and Anti-Semitism

The juxtaposition of honest weights and measures has been used by Hazal to be a causal connexion.; viz. when Jews are dishonest in business the specter of Amaleik rears its ugly head. And I have heard similar statements by Holocaust survivors. Supposedly, Anwar Sadat had anti-Semitic feelings due to being ripped off as a youngster by a Jewish businessman.

So be it.

But I would like to suggest as slight nuance shift. The concept that dishonesty in business triggers Anti-Semitism or Amaleik is difficult to perceive. How can the simple act of being dishonest bring about full-fledged persecution?

I would suggest an alternative way of understanding this point. I.E. that there are Latent Anti-Semites all over the place. However, when we Jews behave ourselves we merit Divine Protection. However, when we Misbehave we are stripped of this special shield and we are now VULNERABLE to Amaleik or Anti-Semitism. This might be viewed as a form of negative re-enforcement philosophically speaking; nevertheless in pragmatic and historical terms this can explain how a relatively minor infraction can trigger such a virulent response.

The late Jerry Falwell and other Christian Leaders voiced a similar point of view [POV] with regard to 9-11. and that is normally America merits Divine Protection but for some misbehaviour this Divine Shield was removed. In the case of the Christian Right, that was attributed to Sexual deviance, etc. While the specific attribution might betray a right-wing or Fundamentalist mindset, the concept of Divine Protection being removed is IMHO indeed a very legitimate Jewish, Midrashic concept. In the case of us Jews, the shield subject to business practices. Woe unto us re: some recent allegations re: some prominent Jewish Businesses.

In the case of America I have no idea which sin was the egregious one that removed this Divine Protection. Perhaps the Christian Right has it right, but it is also possible it has it wrong. If the Dor Hamabbul is a precedent for the world at large, the issue would be "hamas" or a form of thievery - not sexual deviancy. Nevertheless. the impact is similar, i.e. that any catastrophe must bring about active introspection and is a call for self-improvement regardless of the specific shortcoming. To put it another way. the Christian Right might have the specific misdeed all wrong but could also be 100% correct that SOME misdeed permitted this plot to succeed and we are therefore impelled to take this as a wake up call.

With thoughts of Elul time Teshuva,
RRW

Parsha: Ki Teitzei, "War and the Innocent Bystander"

This week's parsha is Ki Teitzei and the topic is the response to terrorism. In the response to terrorism, the practical reality is that there is always a great possibility that innocent individuals will also be hurt and killed. How do we understand this action within the Torah's moral perception?

We have chose the article, War and the Innocent Bystander from the archives of Nishma's Online Library both to direct you to the Dvar Torah and to initiate some discussion.


Shalom,

RBH

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

Re: [Avodah] proofs of G-d



On Nov 21, 2007, 5:38 AM, Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com> wrote:
Meshech Chochma( Shemos 13:9)writes:

"Divine Providence is manifest for each Jew according to his spiritual
level as the Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim (3:18): Divine
Providence is not equal for everyone but rather is proportional to
their spiritual level. Consequently the Divine Providence for the
prophets is extremely powerful each according to their level of
prophecy. The Divine Providence for the pious and saintly is according
to their level of perfection. In contrast the fools and the rebels
lacking spirituality are in essence in the same category as animals...
This concept that Divine Providence is proportional to spiritual level
is one of foundations of Judaism..."

Today, this idea (that the Chinuch explicitly rejects) of hashgacha
pratis on everything has taken hold. There is no question that it is a
very calming thought. You don't have to worry about chance occurrences
affecting you, everything is directly from Hashem. However, this was
not the view of the overwhelming majority of the Rishonim.

Regarding Moznay tzedek and Amaleik:

At the end of parshas Ki Teittzei there is the juxtaposition of Business ethics and Amaleik.
Questions:
  1.  how does a failing of business ethics give Amaleik any power over us?
  2. Aren't there anti-Semites all of the time,  What's new about this situation.
Speaking to my congregation - consisting of many survivors of the Nazi regime - I explained it thusly:
The normal/usual situation is that there are ALWAYS anti-Semites out there. BUT it is only when we fail to live up to the Torah standards of Business Ethics that Hashem ALLOWS them power over us [kind of hester panim due to our bad behavior]

Simlarly Ya'kov Avinu was promised safe passing by HKBH but was afraid of "shema yigrom hacheit" But we know from Rambam et. al. that HKBH never takes away a POSITIVE promise?  Shema yigrom might remove the higher level of protection that was required. [ e.g. vayhi chitas Elokim....]

L'havdil, many Evangelicals felt that 9-11 was a result of Hashem withdrawing His usual protection of America due to America's mis-behavior.  So this idea of removing Protection in the face of Sin is a fairly common concept.

--
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
RabbiRichWolpoe@Gmail.com
Please Visit:
http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/

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