Friday, October 31, 2008

Covering One's Succah With the Arba Minim? pt iii

Candle Lighting today, in Kew Gardens Hills: 5:34 PM

As Josh L noted on the previous post in this series, the Samaritan position, of specifically making the Succah out of the 4 species, and not to take the lulav bundle, is also the Karaite position on the matter, as we find in Ibn Ezra on Emor, in Vayikra 23:40.

We should, perhaps, hear it directly from the horse's mouth. Pictured to the right, taken from JNUL, page 180, is the work of Aharon ben Yosef, the Karaite scholar. He was after Ibn Ezra, but is a Karaite. I did not reproduce the supercommentary here, but it is available there as well, so follow the link. I do not have the time right now to transcribe and/or translate it... Perhaps later.

Ibn Ezra's commentary, where he responds to the Karaitic position, may be found in the Mikraos Gedolos, here and then here.

Or in plain text of Ibn Ezra:

ולקחתם לכם -
אנחנו נאמין בדברי המעתיקים כי לא יכחישו הכתוב אף על פי שמצאנו ויקחו להם איש שה לבית אבות. גם הם העתיקו כי פרי עץ הדר הוא אתרוג, ובאמת כי אין פרי עץ יותר הדר ממנו. ודרשו בו הדר באילנו בדרך אסמכתא כאשר פירשתי בפסוק לעם נכרי.

והצדוקים אמרו:
כי מאלה תעשו סוכות והביאו ראיה מספר עזרא
ואלה עיוורי לב הלא יראו כי אין בספר עזרא ערבי נחל ולא פרי עץ כלל רק עלי חמשה מינים ואין זכר לעלי הדס ועלי עץ עבות, טענה על קדמונינו וכן מין הדס אין אילנו גבוה והנה הם שני מינים גבוה ונמוך והגולה מארץ קדר לארץ אדום, אם יש לו עיניים ידע סוד המצוה זאת.

Meanwhile, Shadal appears to skip out on commenting on the particular pesukim, but beforehand, endorses lulav as a separate mitzvah, writing on pasuk 39:
אך : ביום כיפורים נכתב " אך " ( פסוק כ " ז ) מפני העינוי שאין דוגמתו בחגים , ובחג הסכות נכתב " אך " מפני הלולב והסוכה שאין דוגמתם בשאר מועדים

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bush as Gog -- But Why Not Obama?

In her latest post, Nava at DreamingOfMoshiach admits she has no understanding of US politics. But still, she is confident of her prediction that Bush will cancel the elections, based on her knowledge of Torah. And she quotes Ben Bag Bag as to הפוך בה והפוך בה דכולא בה.

The first problem is that it takes knowledge of the metziut to be able to figure out what the Torah is speaking about. And the second problem is that is not just any know-nothing who is competent to be able to look at Torah sources and determine what they mean. And the third, related problem, is that one can use partial citations, often out of context, to bolster any thesis, ignoring Torah sources to the contrary of the thesis. One example of this, where she used a partial citation when the full one contradicts, is in this earlier parshablog post about Voices in the Sixth.

To this end, she cites a bunch of sources out of context, and does not note the probably hundreds of other sources which do not match. And she asks who these sources best match: Bush, McCain, or Obama? With the implication that Bush is clearly the best match. Let us look at the sources, and see if we agree it is Bush, and whether we agree that this is the correct interpretation of sources. Thus:
Otzar HaMidrash (בית המדרש חלק ג קמ"א)
ויתגאו בני מערב ויבואו ויחזיקו מלכות בלא אפסים
And the Westerners are proud and they will come and hold on to the Kingdom without end

ובימים ההם יקום מלך עז פנים...והוא מחזיק מלכות בחלקלקות
And in the end days a shameless King will rise... and he will hold on to the kingdom by fraud
So this is taken to refer to the USA, and the one "holding on" to it by fraud would presumably be Bush, who either assumed power by voter fraud (?) or will do so by canceling the elections.

How about מחזיק meaning grabbing on to the position of Malchut, such that it could be Obama or McCain? And how about noting Obama's association with ACORN, and thus voter fraud, which might give him the election? And some might say Obama has no shame about his various embarrassing associations.

Not that I believe that it applies to any of the candidates. I am just noting this alternative, and questioning just how Nava is so sure it applies to Bush.

Also, she Dowdified the quote, by putting in elipses. Quite sneaky. The full quote is available here:
ויתגאו בני מערב ויבואו ויחזיקו מלכות בלא אפסים ויבאו עד מצרים וישבו כל השביה. ובימים ההם יקום מלך עז פנים על עם עני ודל (דניאל ח') והוא מחזיק מלכות בחלקלקות, ועל אותו הזמן אמר ישעיה (כ"ו) לך עמי בוא בחדריך וגו'.

I highlighted in red the portions Nava conveniently left out. If we are going to apply this to the US, then how come we have not heard anything recently about an invasion of Egypt? And how exactly did Bush (Gog) arise upon a poverty-stricken nation?

We can interpret this, again, as referring to Obama. People will be poverty-stricken because of the Wall Street problems, and Obama is using smooth-talk (חלקלקות) and promises of tax cuts to seize power.

Next source Nava cited is Daniel:
Prophet Daniel zs'kl 7:25
ויסבר להשניה זמנין ודת ויתיהבון בידה עד עדן ועדנין ופלג עדן
And he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall give into his hand until a time and times and half a time.
The implication it seems she intends is that Bush will have more than the two periods in office. But, that is Nava's interpretation of the pasuk. But how about the Midrash's interpretation of that pasuk, from the same link as above:

אמרו חכמים: רבי חייא ציווה לדורו כשתשמעו שעמד מלך עז פנים לא תשבו שם, שהוא גוזר כל מי שהוא אומר אחד הוא אלוהי העברים ייהרג, והוא אומר נהיה כולנו לשון אחד ואומה אחת, והוא מבטל זמנים ומועדים ושבתות וראשי חדשים, ומבטל תורה מישראל, שנאמר: ויסבר להשניה זמנין ודת ויתיהבון בידיה עד עידן עידנין ופלג עידן (דניאל ז'), עידן שנה עידנין תרתי ופלג עידן חצי שנה.
Thus, the changing of the times and the law is changing Jewish practice, to not let them practice Judaism. Has Bush done that? Rather, he had a Chanukka party in the White House!

And what about the time and times and half a time? The midrash interprets this as 1 year plus 2 years + 1/2 a year, for a total of 3 1/2 years. That is less than one term in office. In contrast, Bush has been in office for 8 years!

Indeed, if we assume it is Obama, then he could be elected to office for one term, but then be impeached. Or McCain, with Palin taking over for the last 1/2 year.

Next quote:
Zohar Chadash - Parshat Balak
בלקומאן דלא אתחזי למלכא ייתון ליה למישלט
Someone who was not suitable to rule will be brought to rule.
Where the emphasis on "was." Is this really Bush? I am sure many republicans would think otherwise. Perhaps she is saying he was not suitable because he already had two terms. Perhaps.

But going with Obama, the charge brought against him is that he lacks the experience to become president. So perhaps it means Obama. Or perhaps it means McCain, which would place Sarah Palin just a heartbeat away from the presidency, where people claim that she lacks the experience to be president.

Next quote:
ובגו שפה רפייא, וממלל רכיך, יעביד כרעותיה ישלוט
With a smooth and soft voice, he will do as he pleases, and he will rule.
You say Bush. I could just as easily put the focus on "with a smooth and soft voice" and identify Obama, who will then do as he pleases.

Next quote:
וההוא מלכא דהוה שליט בפום רכיך, ישלוט ברגז בגיאו נס ובתוקפא על עמא קדישא
And the same king that ruled with a soft voice, will rule with great rage and wrath and will attack the holy nation (am Israel).
So by same king, we are to assume it means Bush, who was "king" before? But how about Obama? Remember the comments of Joe Biden (Obama's vice presidential pick)? He said:

"Watch. We're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

"And he's going to need help . . . to stand with him. Because it's not going to be apparent initially; it's not going to be apparent that we're right."

At any rate, while she is certain 100%, at least she says she will admit it if she is wrong:

If it turns out that Bush will not stay in power, which is highly-doubtable, I apologize and take full responsibility for my error of misunderstanding our holy Torah.

Our holy Torah is 100% accurate and truth אמת ויציב!

Interesting Posts and Articles #88

  1. A scandal in Louisiana's courts, about handling of appeals by indigent Louisiana convicts.

  2. Illegal, quite possibly politically motivated, searches on records of Joe the Plumber.

  3. As Gilui notes in a comment, these failing predictions of mashiach by the Succot which just ended were sparked by statements made by Rav Kaduri, z"tzl or perhaps made by Rav Kaduri's student in his name, based in turn on statements by the Gra applied to recent events. He notes this article at IsraelNationalNews which elaborates. If so, and this is indeed a failed prediction, then we should note that it is Rav Kaduri's (or his student, Yehoshua Meiri's) prediction which failed as well.

    Though we cannot blame the Gra on this, since his words were being interpreted and applied to present day. In terms of Rav Kaduri, he passed away and so was not making statements all the way up to Succot. I do not know what his student was saying.

    Also, this does not take the blame, or credit, from those who echoed this prediction with their own predictions, or prophecies, as the case may be in each particular instance. E.g. a navi who "steals" another prophet's prophecy, by echoing it and claiming it as his own, is still a navi sheker. And the people putting forth these claims were not advancing them solely on the authority of this prediction by Rav Kaduri. For example, the "autistics," who pretend to be prophets conveying messages from on high, were conveying their own messages about the end of days, adding all sorts of predictive details. They may have been initially influenced by Rav Kaduri or his student, or any of the other mystical websites / sources out there, but in the end, it is they who put forth their own predictions, as prophecy. The same goes for any (mis-)interpretation of sources at Dreaming Of Moshiach, or any quasi-"prophetic" dreams she may have had. These bolster the original claim, but still those who advance such claims, especially while giving it an air of authority as the words of the Zohar or as a prophetic dream, are ultimately responsible for their claim.

  4. discusses eating hot food on Shabbat, and how they (used to) suspect someone who did not do so of being a closet Sadducee. Unfortunate modern-day consequences of misunderstanding this to refer specifically to chulent, because chamin in modern Hebrew is chulent (they clarify that they mean any hot food, despite talking about chulent), or perhaps even applying it at all today when people are not really in danger of being Sadducees, may be seen in this old post at WolfishMusings about someone who was made to make a new geirut misafek, and the way it was reported.

  5. Shirat Devorah believes that the Obama campaign is going to literally brainwash millions of Americans via their TVs. I don't think so.

    If you would like to be brainwashed, though, you can see the infomercial here. Just make sure to put on your tinfoil hat first, to protect against the mind-control rays:

    But it reminds me of two stories which happened a short time back with my (fairly young) son. 1) He was running somewhere, and I made a stupid pun (I can't elaborate upon) about him being a Mayoral Candidate. He replied: Yes, I'm going to vote and vote, until John McCain decides to become President.
    2) The next morning, he was watching Word Girl. It was a rerun, and there was a evil genius, Mr. Big, who was trying to take over the town by using a mind-control device to get everyone to vote for him. (See here for a video clip of a (different) section of it, or view the same clip below.)

    But then the mind control device broke, so he had to take a different tack. He made a campaign slogan along the lines of "Vote for Change!" and took the (non-) unique approach of promising everyone everything they wanted. "I want a pony!" "Done!"
    My son saw this, turned to my wife and asked, "Is that man Obama?"

  6. Mystical Paths has a satirical take on the stabbing by a zealot of someone at the kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, at an upsherin, because of the lack of tznius in the fact that the family was gathered together, such that there was a mixture of men and women. See this article for more details. I don't know enough about the background. It could be reflective of the general encouragement of zealotry, especially in terms of tznius. But it seems quite plausible to me that the guy might just be a true lunatic, who took his cues from various messages, and should not reflect the general chareidi population or any trends they might be taking.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Covering One's Succah With the Arba Minim? pt ii

As a followup to my previous post, Berel Friedman left another excellent comment there:
The Samaritan halachah is actually an opinion that is recorded in Chazal. R' Yehudah (in Sifra Emor and Bavli Sukkah 36b) holds that the schach can only be from the 4 minim, although his stated reason is far from a literalist reading.
Indeed, that is what we find in Sukkah 36b-37a:

דתניא (ויקרא כג) בסוכות תשבו סוכה של כל דבר דברי ר"מ ר' יהודה אומר אין סוכה נוהגת אלא בד' מינים שבלולב והדין נותן ומה לולב שאין נוהג בלילות כבימים אינו נוהג אלא בארבעת מינין סוכה שנוהגת בלילות כבימים אינו דין שלא תהא אלא בארבעת מינין אמרו לו כל דין שאתה דן תחלתו להחמיר וסופו להקל אינו דין
לא מצא ארבעת מינין יהא יושב ובטל והתורה אמרה בסוכות תשבו שבעת ימים סוכה של כל דבר וכן בעזרא אומר (נחמיה ח) צאו ההר והביאו עלי זית ועלי עץ שמן ועלי הדס ועלי תמרים ועלי עץ עבות <ועשו> [לעשות] סוכות ככתוב
{The previous is also found in the Sifra. The gemara continues:}
ורבי יהודה בר הני לדפנות עלי הדס ועלי תמרים ועלי עץ עבות לסכך
ותנן מסככין בנסרין ד"ר יהודה אלמא סיב ועיקרא דדיקלא מינא דלולבא הוא ש"מ ומי אמר ר' יהודה ארבעת מינין אין מידי אחרינא לא והתניא סיככה בנסרים של ארז שיש בהן ד' טפחים ד"ה פסולה אין בהן ד' טפחים רבי מאיר פוסל ורבי יהודה מכשיר ומודה רבי מאיר שאם יש בין נסר לנסר כמלא נסר שמניח פסל ביניהן וכשירה
מאי ארז הדס כדרבה בר רב הונא דאמר רבה בר רב הונא אמרי בי רב עשרה מיני ארזים הן שנא' (ישעיהו מא) אתן במדבר ארז שטה והדס וגו':

This is thus clearly presented as a special derasha that Rabbi Yehuda is making, rather than a derasha of velakachtem lachem. The Samaritans, as far as I understand (from the article, and from this book), only use it for sechach. Rabbi Yehuda clearly holds that there is a separate mitzvah of taking the lulav, as there are various statements from him about the mitzvah's precise parameters.

They also bring in the pasuk in Nechemiah, and interpret it in the various ways. Namely that some of the materials were specifically for the sechach, and some specifically for the walls. Because after all, that pasuk clearly lists items aside from the 4 minim.

See also Tosafot, Succah 36b, d"h Rabbi Yehuda Omer, about whether or not Rabbi Yehuda derives the materials for schach from the pasuk of be`aspecha migarnecha umiyikvecha, another thing touched upon in the previous post.

Finally, this is something that I have said in the past. Quite often, we see Chazal prove things via derashot, but one can turn around and argue that this can actually be read into the literal text of the Torah, on a peshat level. If so, we might be able to argue that these derashot are asmachta, or else a binding formal method of deriving halachot, but they also of course reflect authorial intent in a way manifest on the peshat level, or at least in one plausible reading on a peshat level. This might be the case here as well, where velakachtem lachem is taken as taking the materials for the Succah (as might be understood from Nechemiah), aside from the taking of the lulav bundle. Even though Rabbi Yehuda has another basis for the law, and even though the halachic conversation in Sifra and in the gemara operates on that other basis.

Interesting Posts and Articles #87

  1. With relevance to the role of red clothing for women (and possibly for men) in Talmudic sources, here is an article about a study in which men found women wearing red to be more attractive. Thus, as part of the experiment:
    Men were then shown photographs of a woman that were identical except that the researchers digitally made her shirt red in some versions or blue in others. And once again, the men strongly favoured the woman in red.
    But as I noted quite a while back, they found a similar result of a red over blue preference in judges of Taekwondo competitions.

  2. At Hirhurim, an over-the-top (though quite likely seriously intended) article on home renovation and demons.

    Also, a noteworthy comment in the comment section:
    Two YU RY on the will of RYH {Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid}:

    1: It's "troubling."
    2: It's kefira.

    I'm sorry, but this post makes it sound like this is standard halacha that everyone accepts, when in fact many many rabbis are (thankfully) willing to say that it's nonsense.
  3. At WolfishMusings, a response to a suggestion how to deal with frum atheists, or frum suspected atheists.

  4. Google settles book-scan lawsuit for $125 million.

  5. According to the Yeshiva Words, Jerusalem mayoral candidate R' Meir Porush supports status quo in several respects, including the Gay Pride parade (because the Supreme Court will force the mayor's hand anyway). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  6. Via Chaptzem: Heard in front of a prominent heimishe girls' school:
    "I told the girls in my class yesterday that Japan is in Europe. What should I do?"

Covering One's Succah With the Arba Minim?

The Jewish Week had an interesting picture, recently, in honor of Succot. It showed Samaritans making their Succah.

As the article notes,
The Samaritans, thought to be descendants of Jews who were not sent into exile when the Assyrians conquered the land in the eighth century BCE, erect their sukkot inside their homes, with no separate walls, decorating the tops with all sorts of seasonal fruit, especially the Four Species that mainstream Jews shake during the holiday.
Some of the practice may be attributed to the fact that Samaritans do not accept the Oral Law, and thus will often interpret pesukim differently than we do. Thus, they are decorating the to
They make the roof of the Succah out of local seasonal fruits. This likely stems from interpreting velakachtem lachem as referring to the construction material for the schach, rather than as a mitzvah of Netilat Lulav.

Another aspect developed for another reason. Note they are building their Succah indoors, within their house. This is not due to some alternate intepretation of a pasuk, but rather because the outdoor Succah brought the wrath of local Arabs. See the article for more details.

What of this strange practice, of making a Succah from local produce?

Devarim 16:13 states:
יג חַג הַסֻּכֹּת תַּעֲשֶׂה לְךָ, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים: בְּאָסְפְּךָ--מִגָּרְנְךָ, וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ. 13 Thou shalt keep the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in from thy threshing-floor and from thy winepress.
which Chazal interpret that the Succot (and specifically the schach) should be made from בְּאָסְפְּךָ .מִגָּרְנְךָ, וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ

Meanwhile, a pasuk in Vayikra 23 states:

מ וּלְקַחְתֶּם לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים, וַעֲנַף עֵץ-עָבֹת, וְעַרְבֵי-נָחַל; וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם--שִׁבְעַת יָמִים. 40 And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
I personally believe that pashut peshat in the pasuk is exactly what we do, waving the lulav bundle (perhaps just as earlier in the perek there was an omer hatenufa).

However, perhaps one could interpret this as taking this produce for the purpose of building the succah.

The twist here is in Nechemiah 8:15, when they make a Succot festival.

יד וַיִּמְצְאוּ, כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה: אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה, אֲשֶׁר יֵשְׁבוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּסֻּכּוֹת בֶּחָג בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי. 14 And they found written in the Law, how that the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month;
טו וַאֲשֶׁר יַשְׁמִיעוּ, וְיַעֲבִירוּ קוֹל בְּכָל-עָרֵיהֶם וּבִירוּשָׁלִַם לֵאמֹר--צְאוּ הָהָר וְהָבִיאוּ עֲלֵי-זַיִת וַעֲלֵי-עֵץ שֶׁמֶן, וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת: לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב. {פ} 15 and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying: 'Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.' {P}
טז וַיֵּצְאוּ הָעָם, וַיָּבִיאוּ, וַיַּעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם סֻכּוֹת אִישׁ עַל-גַּגּוֹ וּבְחַצְרֹתֵיהֶם, וּבְחַצְרוֹת בֵּית הָאֱלֹהִים--וּבִרְחוֹב שַׁעַר הַמַּיִם, וּבִרְחוֹב שַׁעַר אֶפְרָיִם. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the broad place of the water gate, and in the broad place of the gate of Ephraim.
Troubling is the words צְאוּ הָהָר וְהָבִיאוּ עֲלֵי-זַיִת וַעֲלֵי-עֵץ שֶׁמֶן, וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת: לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת. The implication is that they took all these items to make booths, rather than taking them to wave. And of the things taken were וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת, which certainly sounds like things in the lulav bundle. But then, there is also the עֲלֵי-זַיִת וַעֲלֵי-עֵץ שֶׁמֶן. Perhaps we can associate the latter with the instruction of Devarim, of the produce of the goren and yekev, such that also oil pressings would be included?

At any rate, it would certainly seem at first glance that they are interpreting the pesukim in Vayikra to mean taking this produce to make the walls or the schach, with velakachtem in Vayikra being expressed by וְהָבִיאוּ.

Three ready answers:
3) To make "sukkot" means to make the festival of succot, the chag hasukkot, rather than the physical structures.
2) Just as we say by other instances, a Navi paskening halacha only has the status of a talmid chacham but not that of a Navi. And if they interpret pesukim that way, fine, but we have Tannaim who are batrai who interpreted the pesukim differently.
3) This is difficult to say, given that Ezra is supposed to be the scribe teaching all of Israel, but the pasuk 15 states וַיִּמְצְאוּ, כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה. If we read this together with a literal reading of the later declaration that they had not had such a sukkot since the days of Yehoshua bin Nun (pasuk 17), then we could just they that they were simply ignorant, and did not know the correct interpretation of the pasuk.

Here is how Rashi interprets that pasuk in Nechemiah:

The pasuk:

15. And that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain and bring olive leaves and leaves of oil trees, myrtle leaves, date palm leaves, and leaves of plaited trees, to make booths, as it is written."

Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.'
וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת: לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב

And Rashi's comments:
And that they should announce And they commanded that they announce that they celebrate the Festival of Sukkoth, and so it is customary for Scripture to speak in this manner, like (I Sam. 9:27): “Tell the servant and he will go ahead of us.”
myrtle leaves וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס -- It is explained in Tractate Succah (12a) that this is a wild myrtle which is unfit for the lulav and only fit to make a sukkah.
date palm וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים -- leaves for a lulav.
and leaves of plaited trees וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת -- This is the myrtle that is fit for the lulav as is explained in Tractate Succah (ad loc.).

That gemara in Succah is here. The objection is that וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת is understood to be hadas, but the pasuk in Nechemiah already mentioned וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס. So one is therefore the עלי הדס.

But is that all that Rashi is doing here? Explaining the seeming repetition of myrtle? Or by lelulav וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים, for "for a lulav," and "myrtle fit for a lulav," is he stating some sort of dual role -- some of these items for a lulav, and some of these items for the sechach? It seems quite possible, in my estimation. But the one who suggests this dual role is Metzudat David. See inside for this, and for how he parses the pasuk.

Here is a link to the relevant page in a Mikraos Gedolos of Nechemiah. And the relevant meforshim are pictured to the right. Clicking on the picture will make it bigger and thus more readable.

So what now? Since the Samaritans have followed a literalist interpretation of the pesukim, I feel the urge to come out saying that we should avoid using these items for schach, not because they would be invalid for schach, but rather kedei lehotzi milibam shel Tzedukim.

Except I do not think there really is that much danger of us being drawn after the Samaritans in this day and age. On the other hand, Neo-Literalism and rejection of Chazal might be on the rise.

I would note that the article notes (about a different picture, not shown even there):
Two residents of Mea Shearim, below, drag palm tree branches to line the top of their sukkah.
Indeed, my year in Israel, in Har Nof, I recall dragging large palm branches to cover the Succah. And in Nechemiah, perhaps we are reading (or perhaps not) this that they used hadasim to cover their Succah, and maybe others of the arba minim as well. And a few weeks ago, I was reading in the sefer of Minhagim of the Maharil about how they covered their Succot in Aravot, which the children would burn in festivities at the end of Succot. So it is difficult to suggest this seriously. I don't know. But an interesting topic, nonetheless.

Note: Not intended halacha lemaaseh.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #86

  1. At the LA Times, a video and article about how the copper ruins in Jordan bolster the biblical record of King Solomon. From the article, but read it all:
    Because wood was used to produce the heat for smelting, charcoal samples are available for dating. Two years ago, Levy reported radiocarbon dates from the site indicating that mining was taking place in the 10th century BC. Finkelstein and others objected, noting that archaeological evidence in the nearby highlands of Edom showed no evidence of habitation before the 8th century BC.

    To answer those criticisms, Levy's team excavated through 20 feet of slag near the center of the site, carefully documenting the location of each bit of charcoal and other artifacts. The charcoal was then dated by physicist Thomas Higham of Oxford University.

    The bottom stratum of the site revealed a period of extensive mining that lasted for about 40 years around 940 BC and produced 9 feet of slag. There was then a major disruption in mining about 910 BC, followed by a resumption in the 9th century BC.
  2. Update to the above: see the discussion at PaleoJudaica.

  3. Achas LeMaalah unfortunately supports the autistic false prophets. See here and here.

  4. A disprove of Jewish Freemasonry? A while back, in September, Shirat Devorah cited the following false prediction by Dov Bar Leib:
    "I believe by Sukkot 5769, 2 1/2 years from now, it will all be over. Baruch HaShem that we can survive this."

    Immediately before Succot, on October 5th, 2008, Dov Bar Leib posted the most recent entry on his blog. An excerpt:
    It is now seven full years since 9/11/2001 and almost seven full years since President Bush started bombing Afghanistan. The Sabbatical cycle in now complete. How G-d advances the Redemption this year, only He knows.

    We still do not know if George W. is Gog. We will definitely know by mid-January. Until then I will write sparingly. If he turns out not to be Gog, and the Redemption comes anyway, I will gladly herald the good tidings along with many other bloggers.
    Now that Succot has come and gone, and it is not all over. I guess this disproves Jewish Freemasonry. Or not. Events are being (or likely will be) "interpreted" as fulfillment of predictions. And he has now given himself at least until January, and will post sparingly, thus not putting himself out so much.

    In the comment section, a meshichist, Moshe Yess, writes:
    So far no Basra "slaughter" and no multi-national boots on the ground in Jerusalem. Oil has fallen below $100 again. Nothing in your prior posts referenced a global economic collapse on Eruv Rosh Hashanna 5769.
    He has a few nice comments there. Another excerpt:
    What occurred on Eruv Rosh Hashanna with the Dow falling around 777 points means one thing only: i.e. the Dow fell around 777points. The temperature in Phoenix may have been 83 degrees that same day. Are we to see a "sign" in that number too?

    I took issue with 3 matters stated by Dov: 1) That there was an irrefutable Bas Kol "Message from Hashem" in the number 777. 2)That we could therefore accurately extrapolate that a Divine Blessing had departed "only" from America. A corrupt and illusion-based economic structure has collapsed GLOBALLY...not just in America. 3) To spin this global event as a "Message from Hashem" to make aliya or else die by not doing so is open and shut, self serving, Zionist propaganda wrapped up in Dov's Kaballistic divination of what occurred.

    The fact remains that we are facing a global event that of itself is not new in human history. Around the 14th century there was an old world economic collapse born from the tricky practices of some Venice banks. This affected all of Europe and any country which had ties to that regional economy. Then there was the 1929 crash we all have heard about. Were those "make aliaya or die" Messages as well?

    In summary what we have before us is a global economic crisis born of greed and Wall Street fraud. This became global because the global economy is inter-connected as never before in human history. A second shadow (and unregulated) banking system was established via the free market policies that got put into place these past 2 decades by special USA interest lobbyists.

    The inherent Jewish desire for Moshiach and Geula has spawned many false announcements and incorrect interpretations in past Jewish history. Such were based upon Torah calculations of the End by emminent Sages which later proved wrong.

    I have zero doubt that Moshiach is on his way and that his arrival is imminent and that it will change the world forever. But so far the "rule of evil" has not been lifted from the world. Jerusalem is in as much golus as NYC. And the State of Israel will not be immune from all this global financial chaos. Israel needs European markets and American annual charity just to survive according to the laws of nature. Can Hashem send manna from Heaven? No question. Will such happen now? I don't know. Possibly or possibly not.

    Dov, as your long time friend, I am asking you to stop yelling "fire" in a crowded theater and creating a stampede of fear to promote "aliya".
    Sometimes, having an alternate (though likely false) belief can impel people to make some good observations.

  5. In terms of DreamingOfMoshiach's misinterpretation of a passage from the non-Zohar that Gog Bush would cancel the elections, she now suggests that Bloomberg's going for a third term, (which was not "rubber-stamped, by the way), where he still will have to run against someone else, is a precedent for Bush canceling the election. Well, November 4th is not so long from now, so we will see. Except in the same post she extended the time span for herself, just as Dov Bar Leib did, to January, stating:
    "Even if the elections will not be cancelled, January inauguration willl definitely be cancelled and no one except President Gog Bush will preside until Moshiach arrives."
  6. Tanach Yom Iyun at YU, some of it webcast:
    Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future presents
    Sunday, November 2, 2008
    Furst Hall (Corner of Amsterdam and W. 185th St), New York, NY
    Dr. David Pelcovitz:
    Yosef and his Brothers: Insights on Forgiveness from Positive Psychology

    Rabbi Hayyim Angel: Gideon: His Complexity as a Key to Understanding the Transition in Shoftim
    Mrs. Nechama Price: Shimshon: The Greyest Character in Tanach
    Rabbi Allen Schwartz: Mordechai: Why Wasn't He Accepted by ALL his Brethren?
    Rabbi Jeremy Wieder: Eisav and Balaam in the Portrayal of Chazal
    Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster: Tzidkiyahu, the Last King of Judah and the Question of his Surrender
    Dr. Mordechai Cohen: Jonah's Struggle with Man and God: A Literary Analysis
    Dr. Shalom Holtz: Yohanan ben Qareah: From Righteous Avenger to Insolent Man
    Dr. Michelle Levine: The Sacrifice or Sanctification of Jepthah and his Daughter
    Mrs. Smadar Rosensweig: Devorah: Prophetess, Political Leader and Judge
    12:15pm - Lunch
    Rabbi Menachem Leibtag: David Ha'melech- What Makes Him the Paradigm of the Moshiach?
    Rabbi Shalom Carmy:
    The Prophet and the Prostitute: A Literary and Midrashic Analysis
    Rabbi Menachem Leibtag: The Problematic Stories about David ha'Melech and the Prophetic Purpose of Sefer Shmuel
    Rabbi Mitchell Orlian: HaYotzer v'HaYetzer B'Sipurei Shimshon
    Dr. Shira Weiss: Pharoah: Malicious Tyrant or Divine Puppet?

    No Registration Required | Free Admission
    For Men and Women | For more information, please email
    Program will be partially webcast live at

Shadal: A Revii or Zakef on Noach?

Shadal emends a zakef katon to a revii on the basis of a ktav yad, and on the basis of what he knows to be the logic of trup. The pasuk is pictured to the right, from Mikraot Gedolot, with the zakef upon the word Noach.

Meanwhile, mechon-mamre's trup matches that of Shadal's emendation, or rather, Shadal's ktav yad:

וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל׃

What is the difference between the two? Well, one difference is that in manuscripts, a revii consists of a single dot (rather than a diamond shape), while zakef katon consists of two dots. So the difference is a single dot.

In terms of actual trup, both sequences are indeed possible, if we are to ignore semantics. The difference is rather in terms of how the pasuk divides. With a zakef in place on the word Noach, the first dichotomy of the half-verse ending in etnachta is on the word Noach.

וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֔חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה

with a zakef in the word Noach, would divide as follows:
וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֔חַ
וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה

The latter clause would then subdivide into:
וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ

This is somewhat weird, in how it severs the verb from the rest of the actors, and from the destination. We should expect to first separate off the destination they all went to, and then the various actors.
In contrast, with the revii in place, we have:
וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה
subdividing into
וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ

At this point, for a clause ending in tipcha, there are two trup marks which can subdivide it, and so the earlier one in the pasuk subdivides first, followed by the later one. These two trup marks are revii and tevir. So we have:
וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ
וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ

and then the latter clause will subdivide into:
וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו

and so on and so forth.

Update: See Lion of Zion where he discusses some of the manuscript evidence for one over the other.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interesting Posts and Artciles #85

  1. Gender Separation in Halacha. A short shiur by Rav Hershel Schachter. Balancing societal norms and halachic considerations, and how halachic considerations are at times defined by societal norms. But while in the past, he has said that there should be mixed seating at weddings for singles, at least, here he says that due to changing metziut, it is not a good idea nowadays. Also, a preference (though not insistence -- depending on circumstance) on separate seating at shiurim. I agree with some, and disagree with some, for various reasons, such as a general trend towards overemphasis of tznius concerns such that the shvil hazahav might demand compensation in the other direction by rabbis, to make sure that things do not get out of control. But who am I? And something would be wrong if I always heard exactly what I wanted to hear.

  2. Confessions of a reporter of bias in covering the presidential race.

  3. A review of the game Spore, by evolutionary biologists (and by a proponent of Intelligent design). It flunked. Read why.

  4. Hirhurim notes Rav Schachter's position on the Kotel cam, first one way, then another, based on what is being done on Shabbat. Read it there, together with the comments, but roughly, if nothing is being caused to be done on the webserver in Israel, but it is just streaming continuously, then receiving (in some way) that stream would not be problematic. But if logging in causes it to do some actual activity when it is Shabbat in Israel, this may indeed be problematic. This is a complicated topic. Actually, what is there is a link to an audio shiur, so a start would actually be to listen to the entire shiur, something I have not yet done.

  5. BlogInDm begins a series of posts reviewing Rabbi Ephraim Luft's book, The Torah Is Not Hefker. Rabbi Ephraim Luft is the one behind recent attempts to ban certain Jewish music.

Noach: Shadal's Rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis

{Update: Oops! As Berel Freidman notes in the comments, I read this too quickly and missed the all-important words באופן שיפלו ולא יקומו דברי האומרים. Shadal is rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis here, positing that this interchange of names within Noach disproves it. The phrase כי משה מגילות מגילות קדמוניות מצא certainly does echo the idea of megillah megillah nitnah. Oh well. Kesheim shemikablim sechar al hadrisha, kach mekablim sechar al haprisha.}

I've previously noted that the idea that megillah megillah nitnah could be understood as a sort of Documentary Hypothesis. This week, in parshat Noach, I see that Shadal makes a similar point.

והנה בכול סיפור נח מצאנו שמות אלהות והויה מעורבבים יחד באופן שיפלו ולא יקומו דברי האומרים, כי משה מגילות מגילות קדמוניות מצא, והפרשיות אשר בהן שם אלהות נכתבו בדור אחד וע"י אנשים מיוחדים, ואשר בהן שם הויה נכתבו בדור אחר וע"י אנשים אחרים, ואשר בהן הויה אלהות בדור אתר ועל ידי אנשים אחרים ג"כ. וכבר נתחבטו בחקירות כאלה החוקרים האחרונים, והעלו חרס בידם

That is, Shadal does not think that Moshe wrote sefer Bereishit, or at least parshat Noach. (And a similar idea I believe is found in midrash, IIRC, that there was text as kabbalah which the Jews brought with them even to Egypt.) Thus, Moshe found 3 different texts here: E, J, and EJ, all from different sources. (EJ being with the Divine Name of Hashem Elokim.) Moshe has a status of redactor, combining them in various ways, such that it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to pull out the individual threads. And modern day commentators have delved into this, but brought up (mere) shards of clay in their hands.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #84

  1. A Simple Jew on a "middat chassidut" of not going to doctors. And is there any heter to avoid shul on the Yamim Noraim when you are coughing and might be contagious? I wonder if one can flip the question to whether there is a heter to go to shul under such conditions. Some concepts to be brought to bear: (a) that egoz is gematria chet, to avoid the coughing in shul which would disturb concentration of perhaps the tekiot; (b) that kotz bereshut harabbim sometimes supercedes certain deRabbanan aspects of Shabbat (see e.g. here for an example, and see Shabbat 42a); (c) the concept that my fellow Jew's gashmiut is my ruchniyut.

  2. A Luekemia drug may reduce, or reverse, the effects of multiple sclerosis.

  3. Shaking the lulav. Oy vey.

  4. A McCain supporter a victim of a robbery, then attacked for her McCain bumper sticker and gets a "B" carved into her face? Michelle Malkin has strong doubts, because of refusing medical attention and because the B is backwards. And now the police find conflicting evidence at the scene and administered a polygraph test.

  5. In a St. Louis school, "Hit a Jew Day," by students, who are now being punished.

  6. Doctors administering placebos to patients, at quite high levels -- half of US doctors do this regularly. And so, this recent Bizarro comic is relevant.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #83

  1. WolfishMusings posts and comments on "The Attack of the Torah-learning Zombies," an unfortunate vision of messianic times. Perhaps I'll share my own thoughts on it in a later post.

  2. Joy of Tech presents the good news, and bad news, of the polar ice caps melting.

  3. Balashon with a discussion of the connection, or lack thereof, of the words ish and isha, relevant to parshat Bereishit. And how Rashi's lashon nofel al lashon may connote pun, despite lack of "true" etymological connection.

  4. A Cartoon-off between the New Yorker and xkcd. 9 slides, you need to click next (in the middle of the page) repeatedly.

  5. Governor Palin visits SNL:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #82

  1. The SNL clip that was taken down, put back up, etc., about the bailout

  2. The Nebraska safe haven law allowed dropping off of children, but neglected to specify age, which results in people crossing state lines to drop off their teenagers.

  3. At Lion of Zion, an early American teshuva about whether you can build a sukkah on your fire escape.

  4. In Switzerland, they must take into consideration the dignity of plants.

  5. Being male as the next potential disability.

  6. Joe the Plumber's take on the latest presidential debate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Overview: Maharik on Chukat Akum

Recently, I posted the Shu"t of Maharik on the definition of chukat akum as it applies to clothing. In this post, a bit of discussion of why this teshuva is important.

The parameters of Chukat Akum vis a vis clothing is discussed in Tur and in Shulchan Aruch, in Yoreh Deah 178. See Tur (and Beis Yosef, Bach, and Darkei Moshe) here and here. Both Rav Yosef Karo and Rav Moshe Isserles go on in Shulchan Aruch to lay down the halacha, in the same siman, here.

However, it is not enough to simply read Shulchan Aruch. To really understand what they are saying in shorthand in Shulchan Aruch, you need to read their words at length on the Tur. So you need to read Darkei Moshe and Beis Yosef. There, they discuss their sources and how they understand them. Otherwise, you may end up with an interpretation of their brief words in Shulchan Aruch in a way opposite to the true intent. (And indeed, I was recently in a discussion with someone who completely misinterpreted Rama because of this disconnect from Darkei Moshe. And it is possible that Rav Yosef actually agrees with Rama here, based on how he cites Maharik's reinterpretation of certain words of Rambam, and then goes on to use those same words of Rambam.)

But both Beis Yosef and Darkei Moshe cite a specific teshuva from the Maharik. They cite it at some length, but the teshuva is even longer. And it is also available online, here and here. And then, in seven parts, I provided a rough translation of that teshuva. (See part i, part ii, part iii, part iv, part v, and part vi, and part vii.) Reading the Maharik gives an even better picture of what was considered by Maharik to be chukat akum and what not, such that if we are going to apply the regulations to a broader range than that explicitly mentioned in Rama, we should first know the Maharik at this level of detail.

The specific question before the Maharik was whether a Jewish doctor wearing a specific garment worn only by gentile doctors, a cape of sorts, modified so that it would not require tzitzit, was a violation of chukat akum. And Maharik gives several reasons to permit the kapa specifically. In the process, though, he goes through various earlier Rishonim and through various Tannaitic and Talmudic sources, in order to explain the general regulation of chukat akum as it applies to clothing.

We see, e.g., that the discussion is about clothing that gentiles wear for excessive gaava, and that the Jews in general refrain from wearing this clothing for this reason. Then, if a particular Jew wears it, and not for a good alternate reason, he shows that he is being drawn after them, and this is a violation. And there are also the practices (and perhaps by extension certain clothing) which have no reasonable non-superstitious explanation for them, which is possibly darkei emori as superstitious practice rather than chukat akum -- though this might also show he is being drawn after them. And where specific conditions apply, there may be problems.

From the words of the Maharik, practically, the kapa is permitted. And practically speaking, it would seem that all sorts of Western style clothing, such as pants for men, are also entirely permitted, and do not constitute a violation of chukat akum.

But this quick survey, written al regel achat, does not do this teshuva justice. Do not rely upon my summary. Read it inside. Then see how Darkei Moshe and Beis Yosef use it. Then see how they summarize their words in Shulchan Aruch. Because halacha is not flat.

Note: As (almost) always, do not pasken based on blogs, or pasken for yourself. Consult your local Orthodox rabbi if you are thinking of changing your present halachically-based practice. Of course, you could perhaps show him these sources.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

May One Buy An Lulav/Esrog From A Minor?

According to Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths, if you do so, you did not own the lulav and esrog, and since there is a requirement of lachem, this is an impediment to fulfilling the mitzvah, at least the first day. And if you buy from a katan, well, he was able to acquire it in the first place and now is in possession of it, but he is not able to be makneh it.

Yet I bought my lulav/etrog set from a kid, and I did not bother to ask if he was 13 years old yet, instead relying on the common Jewish practice. Why did I not refrain from purchasing it from him, or at least ask him if he had attained majority?

I would say, first off, that the question never gets off the ground. As I understand it, these children do not buy the lulavim and etrogim and then go and sell it. Rather, they work for a gadol as salesmen. If I go into Macy's and buy an item, I am not buying it from the cashier. Rather, I am purchasing it from the store. The cashier is there to tally up the price, collect my money and perhaps remove the security tag, and make sure that people are not just walking off with merchandise.

Similarly, I am fairly certain that these children are simply cashiers. When you buy a lulav set, you are taking it into your possession from the gadol's possession. And his mind is made up that when you give the salesperson the predefined price (or however low he allows them to go), that you should be koneh the item from him when you do hagbahah. The children are just there to ensure against theft of lulav sets or the money, and to encourage people to purchase the sets.

So there is no question of kinyan from a katan in the first place.

But let us say there is. If so, they are peutot, and it seems that Rabbinically, children in the class of peutot can buy, sell, and give gifts. And if they can do so Rabbinically, then under the principle of hefker bet din hefker, the item is legally yours even on a Biblical level. (There is what to argue about this, and people do argue, but there is certainly upon what to rely.)

Where does this discussion occur? In the gemara in Gittin, and it is brought lehalacha in the Rif. From my Rif Yomi blog:
הפעוטות מקחן מקח כו'.
ועד כמה מחוי רב יהודה לרב יצחק בריה כבר שית כבר שבע
רב כהנא אמר כבר שבע כבר תמני
במתניתא תנא כבר תשע כבר עשר
ול"פ כל חד וחד לפום חורפיה
And until when {is the youngest age}?
Rav Yehuda pointed out to Rav Yitzchak his son: About six or seven.
Rav Kahana said: About seven or eight.
In a brayta it was taught: About nine or ten.
And they do not argue. Each of them in accordance with his intelligence.

וטעמא מאי א"ר אבא בר יעקב א"ר יוחנן משום כדי חייו
ואמרי' עלה בפ' מציאת האשה
אמר רפרם ל"ש אלא שאין שם אפוטרופוס אבל יש שם אפוטרופוס אין מקחן מקח ואין ממכרן ממכר
And what is the reason {that it is effective}?
R' Abba bar Yaakov cited Rabbi Yochanan: for the provision of his livelihood.
And we say upon it {this Mishna} in perek Metziat HaIsha {Ketubot 70a}:
Rafram said: They only learned this where there is no guardian, but if there is a guardian, their purchase is no purchase and their sale is no sale.
We might think this only applies to an orphan, from the reference to the apitrupis in Ketubot, and from the fact that it is a provision for his livelihood (though lehalacha it seems that this was the reason for the takana but extends even past where it is for his livelihood), but this is not explicit in the gemara, or in Tur, or Beis Yosef, or Shulchan Aruch, in the relevant siman in Choshen Mishpat. Aruch Hashulchan does start out discussing it in terms of a yatom, but later also gives as a reason a child whose father is in a far away place where he did not appoint an apotropus, a guardian.

Yet, in Orach Chaim, in Siman TarNach, Aruch Hashulchan discusses it in the context of matana al menas lehachzir and notes a problem in regard to a katan. He could acquire it, but then could not give it away. But then, the tenai should not work and so it was never his, so it is no problem? True, the condition cannot take effect, but that would have the effect of nullifying the condition but not the gift. In which case the next person, or the first person, could not take it back, and so there is an issue that it is not lachem.

But then Aruch Hashulchan notes that this should only apply to children who have not reached the age of peutot. Which means from 6 and up, if they know enough to conduct business, they are empowered to do so. And he does not restrict to orphans. Thus, even he would say that this is across the board. However, he notes that Tur just says katan and does not make a distinction, such that for some reason Tur might not take peutos out of this class. {Why, who knows? I could come up with some plausible suggestions.} But then a note that it is possible to argue with this diyuk. See inside.

Therefore, even if one is actually acquiring from the katan -- which I doubt -- it should not be a problem according to many opinions. Because they are clearly of age to conduct business. They are actively engaged in it! (And from 10 and up, if we do not hold like Rambam, so long as they are not shoteh they are certainly fine. Earlier than that, it is up to their individual business acumen.) And then, since they can acquire and sell mideRabbanan, under hefker bet din hefker it is in my possession. And so I can fulfill the mitzvah even on a Biblical level.

Please note: Do not pasken or act in accordance with a pesak on a blog. This is true for both this blog and Mystical Paths, or almost any other blog on the internet. It is an interesting question and you should consult your local Orthodox rabbi before taking any action, perhaps first printing out whatever halachic discussions you find online. But in the end, it should be evaluated by someone well versed in the issues and in the method of pesak, and someone willing to take responsibility to issue a definitive ruling to you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shu"t Maharik 88 -- On The Definition of Chukat Akum, pt vii

See part i, part ii, part iii, part iv, part v, and part vi.

And furthermore, it is appropriate, in my humble opinion, to bring a proof from that which we learn in masechet Chullin (daf 106), in perek Kol Habasar: "When Rav Dimi came {from Eretz Yisrael}, he said 'because of mayim rishonim, they fed someone flesh of swine, etc.', until 'Rabbi Abba taught -- one of these and one of these {stories about mayim rishonim and acharonim and the impact of its lack} stringently.'"

That is to say, to emphasize the stringency of the prohibition of {avoiding} mayim rishonim and acharonim.

And Rashi explains there, and this is his language:
"They fed him flesh of swine, etc., that there was an Israelite shopkeeper who sold properly slaughtered meat to Israelites, and would cook it and would serve it, and when a gentile came into his store, he would feed him neveilot {not properly slaughtered meat, since it did not need to be kosher}. And an Israelite came to wat and he did not wash his hands {in the beginning}, and he {=the shopkeeper} thought that he was a gentile, and so he fed him something impure."
End quote. And if it were so that an Israelite needs to be separate in his clothing anyway, and that even if the gentile makes {uses, wears?} a clothing in the same way of the entire world, the Israelite would still be required to turn to the right or to the left {a reference to Avraham separating from Lot}, in order to distinguish his garment from the garment of the gentile, as those who forbid think, if so, why was the fault attributed to the stringency of mayim rishonim? Just the oppostite -- there is to attribute it to the fact that he violated "bechukoteihem lo teileichu," which is Biblical, and at the very least, is better that mayim rishonim which is only because of the concern of ruining trumah, and because of mitzvah. And it should have said that "because of the prohibition of "bechukoteihem lo teileichu," he fed him flesh of swine. For perforce, that Jew was wearing the clothing of gentiles. For if you do not say this, how did the shopkeeper err and think him to be a gentile, if he was wearing Jewish clothing, which the Cutheans {=gentiles} do not wear? It would be more likely that he would think that he is denigrating netilat yadayim. Rather, certainly one needs to say that even if the Israelite wears clothing like the clothing of the gentiles, and that clothing is not distinct for the gentiles more than it is for an Israelite, that there is no basis for concern. And therefore, the Talmud attributed the fault of eating the flesh of swine or of the neveilah only in the prohibition of mayim rishonim.

And furthermore, aside from this, and aside from that, I am confounded what entered the mind of those who prohibited the kapa because of it being the garment of the gentiles. For what is your desire {mah nafshach}? If it is made in a way that it is exempt from tzitzit, as the upright, the scholar Rabbi Shmuel of Modina {known as Maharashdam, Rabbi Shmuel de Modina} wrote, then it is obvious, and indeed obvious that there is no basis for concern at all, for behold, it is quite different from them, for all who see it will recognze that this is Jewish garb, for there will be there this fix of connecting the corners of the garment in order to exempt it from tzitzit. And how can we forbid because of the garb of the gentiles, for just the opposite, it is a Jewish garb, for they only make the like for Israelites. It is quite a simple matter, more than an egg in kutach {a dairy-based dip}, that there is not to hesitate in the matter. And {the other side of the mah nafshach} if it is about a kapa which is not exempt from tzitzit that those who are forbidding are speaking about {J: and yet they are not placing tzitzit on it, which would clearly make it a Jewish garment, but rather without tzitzit even though it is required}, what is it to them {to deal} with this light matters which will not be successful, to forbid because of "bechukoteihem..."? Let them go to the weighty matters, and forbid the kapa because of nullifying the positive commandment of tzitzit, which matches up {shekulah} to all the commandments! And why do they waste their breath and speech with such utterances? And also upon those who wear the golden ornaments and golden straps they set out to speak, and cast them as those who consult to ovot {in violation of Vayikra 19:31}. And I, in my poverty, do not know what they saw {problematic} about this -- and specifically, those who are close to the royalty. And already, Rav Messer Leon has broadened the words in this matter, and it is sufficient that which he has already done.


{The actual Hebrew text of Maharik:

ועוד נלע"ד להביא ראיי' ממה דגרסינן בחולין (דף קו) פ' כל הבשר כי אתא רב דימי אמר מים ראשוני' האכילו בשר חזיר וכו'. עד ר' אבא מתני חדא מהני וחדא מהני לחומרא כלומ' להרבו' בחומר איסו' מים ראשוני' ואחרוני' ופי' שם רש"י וז"ל האכילו בשר חזיר וכו' שהיה חנוני ישראל מוכר בשר שחוט' לישראלים ומבשל ומאכיל וכשהגוי בא בחנותו מאכילו נבלו' ובא יהודי אחד לאכול ולא נטל ידיו וכסבור שגוי היה והאכילו דבר טמא עכ"ל. ואם אית' שהישראל יצטרך להיו' מובדל במלבושיו עכ"פ ואפי' יעש' הגוי מלבוש כדרך כל הארץ יצטרך הישראל להימין או להשמאיל כדי לשנו' לבושו מלבוש הגוי כאשר חשבו האוסרי' א"כ למה תלה התקל' בחומר מים הראשוני' אדרב' יש לתלותו באשר עבר על בחקותיהם לא תלכו דהוי מדאורייתא ולכל הפחות עדיפא ממים ראשונים דלא הווין אלא משום סרך תרומ' ומשום מצו' והוי ליה למימר דאיסו' בחקותיהם לא תלכו האכיל בשר חזיר דהא ע"כ היהודי ההוא היה לבוש בלבושי הגוים דאלת"ה היאך טעה בו החנוני ויחשבהו לגוי אם היה לבוש ישראל אשר אין הכותים לובשים אותם יותר היה לו לחשוב שהיה מזלזל בנטילת ידים אלא ודאי צריך לומ' דאפי' ילבש הישראל לבושי' כלבושי הגוים ואין הלבוש ההוא מיוחד לגוי יותר מלישראל דאין כאן בית מיחוש ולכך תלה התלמוד התקלה דאכילת בשר חזיר או נבילה באיסור דמים ראשוני' לבדו. ועוד בר מן דין ובר מן דין נבהלתי מה עלה על דעת האוסרי' הקאפ"ה משום לבושי הגוים דממה נפשך אם היא עשויה בדרך שתהי' פטור' מן הציצית כאשר כתב הוותיק הח"ר שמואל דמודינה יצ"ו א"כ פשיט' ופשיטא דאין כאן בית מיחוש כלל ועיקר שהרי מובדל הוא הרב' מהם שכל רואיו יכירו שזה לבוש יהודי בהיו' שם אותו תיקון המחבר כנפי הכסות כדי להפטר מן הציצית והיאך תאסרנו משום מלבושי הגוים דאדרב' מלבוש ישראל הוא דלא יעש' בכיוצא בו כי אם ישראל לבדו דבר פשוט הוא יותר מביעותא בכותחא שאין לגמגם בדבר ואם על הקאפ"א שלא נפטר' בציצי' דברו האוסרי' מה להם אצל קלות דברי' אשר אין בם מועיל לאסור משום בחקותיה' וכולי ילכו אצל חמורו' יאסו' הקאפ"א משום בטול עשה דציצי' שהיא שקולה נגד כל המצוה /המצות/ ולמה זה הבל יבהלו /יהבלו/ ולשונם יהגה הוות. וגם על נושאי עדי הזהב ורצועו' המוזהבות הפליגו לדבר ושמו אותם כדורש אל האובו' ואני בעניותי לא ידעתי מה ראו על ככה ובפרט לאותם הקרובים אל הממלכה וכבר הרחיב בזה הדבור הרב מסי"ר ליאון יצ"ו ודי מה שבבר /שכבר/ עשה:


Friday, October 10, 2008

Daf Yomi Gittin 90a -- The ethnic joke

On the last daf of Gittin, we have a brayta that finds expression even today in an ethnic joke:
תניא היה ר"מ אומר כשם שהדעות במאכל כך הדעות בנשים
יש לך אדם שזבוב נופל לתוך כוסו וזורקו ואינו שותהו וזו היא מדת פפוס בן יהודה שנועל דלת בפני אשתו ויוצא
ויש לך אדם שזבוב נופל לתוך כוסו וזורקו ושותהו זו היא מדת כל אדם שרואה את אשתו מדברת עם כל שכניה ועם קרוביה ומניחה
ויש לך אדם שזבוב נופל לתוך התמחוי מוצצו ואוכלו וזו היא מדת אדם רע שרואה את אשתו יוצאת וראשה פרוע ופרומה משני צדדיה ורוחצת עם בני אדם
עם בני אדם סלקא דעתך אלא במקום שבני אדם רוחצין
ואינו חושש
זו מצוה מן התורה לגרשה שנאמר
כי מצא בה ערות דבר
וכתיב ויצאה מביתו
They learnt {in a brayta}: Rabbi Meir would say: Just as there are different attitudes in consumption of food, so are there different attitudes towards women.
There is a man where, if a fly falls into his cup, he throws it out and does not drink it. And this is the trait of Papus son of Yehuda, who locked his wife indoors before leaving.
And there is a man where, if a fly falls in his cup, he throws it {the fly} out and then drinks it. This is the trait of any man who sees his wife speaking with all her neighbors and all her relatives and leaves her to do it.
And there is a man where, if a fly falls into the plate, he crushes it and eats it. And this is the trait of a bad man who sees his wife go out with her head uncovered {Rif leaves out: and spins cloth in the market},
{Gittin 90b}
and open on both sides {Rashi: that he underarms are exposed} and that she bathes with the men.
{Gemara interjects: } With the men, does it enter your mind? Rather, in a place where men bathe.
And he does not worry. This is a precept in the Torah to divorce her, for it is stated {Devarim 24:1}
א כִּי-יִקַּח אִישׁ אִשָּׁה, וּבְעָלָהּ; וְהָיָה אִם-לֹא תִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו, כִּי-מָצָא בָהּ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר--וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ. 1 When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it cometh to pass, if she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he writeth her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house,
and it is written
ב וְיָצְאָה, מִבֵּיתוֹ; וְהָלְכָה, וְהָיְתָה לְאִישׁ-אַחֵר. 2 and she departeth out of his house, and goeth and becometh another man's wife,

The ethnic joke:
One day an Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman walked into a pub together.

They proceeded to each buy a pint of Guinness. Just as they were about to enjoy their creamy beverage three flies landed in each of their pints, and were stuck in the thick head.

The Englishman pushed his beer away from him in disgust.

The Scotsman fished the offending fly out of his beer and continued drinking it as if nothing had happened.

The Irishman too, picked the fly out of his drink, held it out over the beer and then started yelling, "SPIT IT OUT, SPIT IT OUT YOU BASTARD!!!!"
Please note I am not endorsing the ethnic stereotypes in this joke, but rather simply citing it to demonstrate the clear parallel.

I would note that matzatz means to press, to suck, to drain, so the last example is perhaps even closer. Perhaps he is sucking out the wine from the fly, or squeezing it out from the fly. Except if so, why the change to the tamchui instead of remaining by the cup? {Soncino defines this as soup rather than a plate, and that he crushes and eats it.}

Daf Yomi Gittin daf 90: Al Tacharosh Al Re'echa

From yesterday's daf Yomi {Gittin daf 90}:
Rav Mesharshia said to Rava: If he decided in his heart to divorce her, yet she is still living with him and waits upon him {ומשמשתו}, what? {The reply:} We apply to him the verse {Mishlei 3:29}:
כט אַל-תַּחֲרֹשׁ עַל-רֵעֲךָ רָעָה; וְהוּא-יוֹשֵׁב לָבֶטַח אִתָּךְ. 29 Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
I would suggest that as a matter of the mechanics of the derash, and the way this pasuk in Mishlei is being understood: רֵעֲךָ could be understood in the sense of רעיתי, beloved, as in Shir Hashirim. And תַּחֲרֹשׁ in the sense either of "plowing" or remaining silent.

Shu"t Maharik 88 -- On The Definition of Chukat Akum, pt vi

See part i, part ii, part iii, part iv, and part v.

And that which those who prohibit rely upon the words of Rabbi Moshe {=Rambam} who wrote that "the Israelite should be separated from them in his clothing and the rest of his actions, etc.," there is no proof from there at all, for it is obvious that Rabbi Moshe did not obligate to make oneself distinct from the gentile at any rate, from the fact that he wrote after that, and this is his language:
"He should not dress in a garment which is distinct {hameyuchad} for them."
And why should he say hameyuchad for them? Let him say "He should not dress in a garment which is similar to their garments." Rather, it is clear that he only forbids in a garment which was already designated specifically to them, and the Israelites separated from it because of modesty {tzniut}, and like the explanation of Rashi in perek Ben Sorer Umoreh, or because of another reason. And it is appropriate there that it be forbidden, since it is distinct {nityached} to them because of its gentile nature, and the Israelites separate from it because of their Jewish nature, then, when the Israelites wear it, they appear as if admitting to them and being drawn after them. And this reason is only applicable by a garment which is distinct to their general population {of gentiles} because of its gentile nature, and as I have explained. But this kapa, which is not something distinct to their entire populace, but rather to their scholars because of their wisdon, and there is no gentile permitted to wear it if he is not a scholar; and also that is is not pacticed {noheget} by all the scholars of their faith, as Rav Messer Leon testified; and also I have heard that in France, no one wears it, not even the scholars -- it is obvious, indeed obvious, that this is not a garment distinct to them, since it is only distinct to scholars, and as I have written.

And you {two} have written well, that if an Israelite were to need to differentiate his clothing from the gentiles in every case, if so, there is no man righteous in the land, and this is a generation which is entirely liable, for there is no person in this generation who does not wear a garment similar to the clothing of their elders or to the clothing of their children -- and how will a person open his mouth to forbid that which all Israel practices {shenahagu} openly? At the very least, they should fear, and say, "if Israel are not prophets, they are the sons of prophets." And a kal vachomer son of a kal vachomer since they have what to rely upon from the words of our Sages, za"l, and an Israelite is not obligated to differentiate from the gentile at all, except that it should not be a garment which is distinct to them, as I have explained.

And yet, from this in perek seder Taaniyot (Taanit daf 22), there is not to prove that it is not necessary to make even the slightest change. And even though R' Benaah only took exception to the sandals, which implies that the other garments were similar to those of the gentiles, we are able to say that in that era, they {=the Jews} were only accustomed to differentiate their sandals, or even the straps of their sandals, acccording to Rabbenu Tam, and that for them it was sufficient for them since there was some minor differentiation. For according to all the commentaries, it it obvious that it did not entire the mind of the Rambam to say that he needs to differentiate all of his clothing -- for once it is recognizable that he is differentiating between Israel and the nations, it is obvious that he does not need more, and this is why he {=R' Benaah} was only insistent upon the sandals.

{J: This is thus no proof one way, but it is not a proof the other way. The point was that one could not bring a solid proof from this source that one need not distinguish at all.}

However, there is somewhat to bring a proof from this in masechet Me'ila (daf 17) in perek Kodshei Mizbeach: One time they decreed shmad {religiously oppressive decrees} upon Israel, etc., until ... Reuven ben Itzraboli cut his hair in front and went and sat amongst them, etc. {pretending to be a gentile, in order to persuade the gentiles to rescind the decrees}. And this implies that all he needed to do was cut the front hair, in order to appear as a gentile to them {the gentile legislators}. And if it were so that an Israelite needs to be different in his clothing from the gentiles in any event, it should have related {note: a different meaning of lesaper here} that he donned the garments that a gentile wears in new peace {?}, just as it related that he cut the front hair.

{The actual Hebrew text of Maharik:

ואשר נשענו האוסרי' על דברי רבי' משה שכ' שיהיה הישראל מובדל מהם במלבושיו ושאר מעשיו וכו' אין משם ראיי' כלל דפשיטא דר' משה לא חייב להשתנות מן הגוי עכ"פ מדכתב אח"כ וז"ל לא ילבש במלבוש המיוחד להם ולמה לו לומר המיוחד להם לימא לא ילבוש במלבוש הדומה למלבוש' אלא ודאי דלא נאסר אלא במלבוש שכבר נתייחד אליהם ופרשו הישראלים ממנו משום צניעות וכדפי' רש"י בפ' בן סורר ומורה אי משום טעם אחר ודין הוא התם שיאסר דכיון שנתייחד להן מפני גיותה ופרשו הישראלי' ממנו מפני יהדות' אז כשלובשים הישראלי' נרא' כמודה להם ונמשך אחריה' וטעם זה לא שייך אלא בלבוש שנתייחד לכלל אומת' מחמת גיותן כדפי' אבל הקאפ"א הזאת שלא נתייחד' לכלל אומתן אלא לחכמי' מפני חכמתן ואין שום נכרי רשאי לישאנה אם לא יהיה חכם וגם אינה נוהגת בכל חכמי דתן כמו שהעיד הרב מסיר ליאון יצ"ו וגם שמעתי כי בצרפת אין נושאין אות' אפי' חכמי' פשיטא ופשיט' דאין זו מלבוש המיוחד להם מאחר שלא נתייחד אלא לחכמי' וכדפירש' ויפה כתבתם שאם כן הוא שיצטרך הישראל לשנו' מלבושיו ממלבושי הגוים עכ"פ א"כ אין אדם צדיק בארץ ודור שכולו חייב הוא זה שאין אדם בדור הזה שלא ילבש לבוש הדומי' ללבוש זקניה' או ללבוש ילדיהן והיאך יפצה אדם פה מצפנף לאסור מה שנהגו כל ישראל בפומבי לכל הפחות היה להם לירא ולומר אם אין ישראל נביאי' בני נביאי' הם וק"ו בן ק"ו שיש להם על מי יסמכו מתוך דברי רבותינו ז"ל ואין הישראל מחוייב להשתנו' מן הגוי כלל ועיקר רק שלא יהא מלבוש מיוחד להם וכדפי' ואולם מההיא דפ' סדר תעניות (דף כב) אין להוכיח שלא יצטרך איזה שינוי קצת ואע"ג דר' בנאה לא הקפיד אלא על המנעלים דמשמע דשאר בגדים היו דומים לשל גוים נוכל לומר דבאותו זמן לא היו נוהגי' לשנו' רק המנעלים או אפילו רצועו' המנעלי' לר"ת והיה להם די בזה כיון דאיכ' שינוי קצת. דלכל הפירושי' פשיט' שלא עלה על דעת הרמב"ם לומ' שיצטרך לשנות כל המלבושים כי מאחר שניכר הוא מובדל בין ישראל לעמי' פשיט' דאין צריך יות' וזה הוא שלא הקפיד אלא על המנעלי'. אמנם קצת יש להביא ראיי' מההיא דמסכת מעילה (דף יז) בפרק קדשי מזבח פעם אחת גזרו שמד על ישראל כו' עד הלך ראובן בן אצטרבולי וספר קומי והלך וישב עמה' וכו' משמע שלא הוצרך אלא לספר קומי כדי להתנכר אליהם ואם איתא דצריך הישראל להיות משתנה בלבושו מן הגוי עכ"פ היה לו לספר שלבש לבוש נכרי נתכסה בשלמה חדשה כאשר ספר שספר קומי.


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