Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shaving on Chol HaMoed

See the guest post on Hirhurim by Rabbi Michael Broyde on this topic.

This post is not halacha lemaaseh, but just some of my own musings on the subject.

The Mishna in Moed Katan 13b-14a reads:

מתני' ואלו מגלחין במועד הבא ממדינת הים ומבית השביה והיוצא מבית האסורין והמנודה שהתירו לו חכמים וכן מי שנשאל לחכם והותר והנזיר והמצורע מטומאתו לטהרתו ואלו מכבסין במועד הבא ממדינת הים ומבית השביה והיוצא מבית האסורין ומנודה שהתירו לו חכמים וכן מי שנשאל לחכם והותר מטפחות הידים ומטפחות הספרים ומטפחות הספג הזבין והזבות והנדות והיולדות וכל העולין מטומאה לטהרה הרי אלו מותרין ושאר כל אדם אסורין:
Thus, only a subset of people may מגלחין during the chol hamoed. The straight implication is that most Israelites may not.

However, what does מגלחין mean? The verb encompasses both shaving and hair-cutting. But since most Israelites in the time of Chazal did not shave their beards, since it was forbidden, this Mishna would not be coming to forbid shaving, but rather what Israelites did, namely hair-cutting.

What I am saying is that we can treat מגלחין as a homonym, meaning both shaving and hair-cutting, and take care not to select the wrong one of the two meanings. (I get the sense that in modern Hebrew giluach means only shaving while tisporet means a hair-cut. Is this correct?)

What was the reason for the rabbinic prohibition of hair-cutting during the moed? The gemara elaborates (Moed Katan 14a):

גמ' ושאר כל אדם מאי טעמא אסורין כדתנן אנשי משמר ואנשי מעמד אסורין לספר ולכבס ובחמישי מותרין מפני כבוד השבת ואמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר ר' אלעזר מ"ט כדי שלא יכנסו למשמרתן כשהן מנוולין הכא נמי כדי שלא יכנסו לרגל כשהן מנוולין

So that they should not enter into the Regel when they are unkempt. And note the two activities לספר ולכבס, to cut hair and launder clothing.

Hair-cutting is typically a maaseh uman, done by a professional barber. And indeed, the barbers stayed open until chatzos on Erev Pesach. In the Mishna in Pesachim perek 4:
ד,ז  [ו] רבי מאיר אומר, כל מלאכה שהתחיל בה קודם לארבעה עשר, גומרה בארבעה עשר; אבל לא יתחיל בה כתחילה בארבעה עשר, אף על פי שהוא יכול לגומרה.  וחכמים אומרין, שלוש אומנייות עושין מלאכה בערבי פסחים, עד חצות--החייטים, והספרים, והכובסין; רבי יוסי ברבי יהודה אומר, אף הרצענין.
Thus, both professional launderers and barbers were open on erev Pesach.

Why? Because כל המרבה לספר ביציאת מצרים, הרי זה משובח. :)

People nowadays do not seek to get their hair, on the top of their head, cut on chol hamoed. The only question is shaving. And shaving nowadays is typically self-administered and done quickly, without any particular skill of precision. It is a maaseh hedyot rather than maaseh uman.

And it is something you need to do daily to look kempt. It is akin to showering or combing your hair. Had electric shavers existed in the time of Chazal and people used them as part of their daily grooming, it stands to reason that Chazal would not have gone out of their way to include it in their decree.

That is, it was not part of the initial decree and further, given the reason behind the ban of giluach, they would not have wanted to include it.

[I am saying something different than the Rav here. As I understand it, he would say that shaving was part of the original gezeira but that since societal norms and what is being done have changed. to the extent that shaving before the moed and refraining from shaving during the moed accomplishes the very opposite of Chazal's intent, the gezeira does not apply. And that this is different from the typical simple case of batla taam, where it appears to be a machlokes whether the decree falls automatically, because there it is just neutral, rather than counter to their very purpose.]

Someone also pointed out the following. The Mishna lists laundering and hair-cutting together. The Rambam in Mishneh Torah, hilchot Shevitat Yom Tov, 7:21 writes:

כא  הַזָּבִים וְהַזָּבוֹת וְהַנִּדּוֹת וְהַיּוֹלְדוֹת וְכָל הָעוֹלִים מִטֻּמְאָה לְטַהְרָה בְּתוֹךְ הַמּוֹעֵד, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מֻתָּרִין לְכַבַּס.  וּמִי שְׁאֵין לוֹ אֵלָא חֲלוּק אֶחָד, הֲרֵי זֶה מְכַבְּסוֹ.  מִטְפְּחוֹת הַיָּדַיִם וּמִטְפְּחוֹת הַסְּפָרִים וּמִטְפְּחוֹת הַסִּפּוּג, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מֻתָּרִין לְכַבַּס; וְכֵן כְּלֵי פִּשְׁתָּן, מֻתָּר לְכַבְּסָן בַּמּוֹעֵד, מִפְּנֵי שְׁהֶן צְרִיכִים כִּבּוּס תָּמִיד, אַפִלּוּ נִתְכַּבְּסוּ עֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב.
Since linen clothing, etc., needs constant washing, even if they were washed from erev Yom Tov, it is permitted to wash them during chol hamoed. Rav Kapach writes on this:
: ומינה לאותם הנוהגים להתגלח בכל יום, לדעת רבנו אין איסור להתגלח במועד‎"
I could imagine a rejoinder that that sort of clothing existed in the time of Chazal and were therefore obviously not included as part of the injunction, while shaving as practiced today was not envisioned by Chazal, such that they would not think to exclude it. And I can imagine a rejoinder to that, in turn.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My wine choice for the seder



I've tried both and it's not the same

Mi Yodeya (AKA judaism.stackExchange.com) just released a haggadah, based on questions and answers on their site:


DOWNLOAD the PDF here:
Click here to download "Hagada - Mi Yodeya?" (PDF)

Here is a question I answered this morning on their site:

Can sefardim eat lafa before Pesach?

There is a custom(?) to abstain from eating matza 30 days before Passover so that the taste will be new. There are some sects of sefardic or teimani Jews who eat a type of matzah that is more akin to the lafa bread used to wrap shwarma or falafel. Do those who eat this kind of matzah similarly abstain from eating breads like pita or lafa 30 days before Pesach so that the taste is new to them?

My answer:
The basis of the prohibition of eating matzah on erev Pesach (which was later expanded to longer periods before Pesach) may be found in Yerushalmi Pesachim 68b:
אמר רבי לוי האוכל מצה בערב הפסח כבא על ארוסתו בבית חמיו והבא על ארוסתו בבית חמיו לוקה
'Rabbi Levi said: One who eats matzah on erev Pesach is like one who has intercourse with his betrothed in his father-in-law's house. And one who has intercourse with his betrothed in his father-in-law's house is lashed.'
The idea appears to be that one is spoiling one's taste for matzah by having it just before the appropriate time.
People attribute the following quip to Achad HaAm, but I've heard that it was really Bialik; I've also seen it attributed to Smolenskin:
ניסיתי את שניהם ולא מצאתי דומים
"I've tried both and did not find them to be similar."
Nowadays we have chametzdik matzah available year-round. I would guess that the minhag does / should encompass such chametzdik matzah, since it would spoil one's taste. But a flat chametzdik cracker would not fall under this custom.
In terms of laffa and soft matzah, I can echo the quip: I've tried both and they are not the same. Laffa tastes good. Soft matzah does not. It is just awful. No one would confuse the two.
(It is perhaps slightly better if you take it right out of the oven just then.) Our crisp matzah is 100 times better.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A segulah I can (sort of) support

I received the following in my Inbox earlier today:
Subject: Eitz Ratzon by Seder
Eitz Ratzon by Seder

Rabbi Fishel Shachter quoted the Apter Rav (the Oheiv Yisroel )  who says that it's a Eitz Ratzon in the Haggadah by "Va'Nitzack" , 
and by that point you can daven and call out to Hashem for whatever you want.
 

May Hashem answer all of your hearts wishes l'tovah , b'karov and may Hashem  have this zman of geulah be a personal geulah to you all !
While I am not entirely certain what wood is used for the Etz Ratzon, I can sort of see the positives in this segulah. I'd like to end on a positive note, so I am going to start with the negatives:

  1. Do segulot and mystical magic tricks have to invade every facet of Jewish life?! This is the seder, for goodness sake. We should be focused on the Biblical commandment of vehigadeta levincha, telling over the Exodus from Egypt via derashot. This shifts focus away from this mitzvah which we should be focusing on when we say vanitzak.
  2. Besides shifting focus, it also shifts purpose. We should do mitzvos because they are mitzvos. This turns one point of the haggadah into a panacea, instead of a mitzvah.
  3. It is made up. I am pretty sure it is not actually an eis ratzon, any more than any other time of the year. I think I can intuit some good reasoning to declare it an eis ratzon (more on that later, and maybe the Apter Rav wrote something to justify it). But just because some chassidic rabbi you (most recipients of the email) have never heard of made some declaration does not make it true.
  4. The changing of custom via mass email. Was this the minhag of your family to interrupt the seder for bakashos at this point? No, it wasn't. But due to email forwarding, and uncritical acceptance of things like this, it is going to become one of the next big segulah-memes, like that of saying parshas ha-man.
  5. Maggid is already so long, and people don't get to the matzah in time. Should we really add something more?
  6. Is there a problem of bakashot on Yom Tov? I quote:
6 PROBLEM OF BAKASHOT ON YOM TOV / SHABBOS

This is brought down by the Sefer 'Shut' "Rav Poalim", if there is a problem to say Tashlich on Yom Tov, or Shabbos; since we know that one is not supposed to ask for his needs on these days. He brings out that the "Chidah" put together, part of the Tefillos for Tashlich, amongst other Tefillos for Yom Tov that do have a request for ones needs in it. He answers this question this all true for a 'one time' personal request, yet where we have set requests in Davening, we are allowed to say them, when they were prepared for the whole congregation.

Still, I can see some positive results if people adopt this custom:

  1. It is a change of pace in the middle of maggid. There are plenty of tricks and novelties "so that the children will ask". Nowadays, tricks are needed so that the adults will ask, and wake up!
  2. If people genuinely believe this is a special eis ratzon more than other times, they will actually think about their needs and their sorrows, and turn to Hashem to genuinely ask. This differs from your typical davening, which people don't pay much attention to.
  3. It fits into the idea of reenactment of the yetzias mitzrayim. Just as the Jews in Egypt, at this very point, vanitz'ak el Hashem elokeinu, cried out to Hashem. vayishma Hashem es koleinu, and Hashem heard our voices, so too we enact the crying out for our own respective sufferings, and Hashem answers us. It is a beautiful idea.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

YUTorah on parashat Tzav

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Why the latest Rav Schachter controversy is dumb, part i

(See also this post at Circus Tent.)

Imagine for a moment that you had an enemy. And imagine that that enemy had the powers of Big Brother, able to spy on every single thing you said at every unguarded moment, and every mis-speech as you fumble for words. And that enemy would then broadcast those words, out of context, to a worldwide audience, who didn't know you and was generally uneducated in your field.

Could you do your job? Effectively?

Now stop pretending it is you. It is some rabbi. Perhaps you agree with his views in everything, and perhaps you don't. Is it good public policy to listen to, and help blow up, the reports made by his enemies? Will it cause rabbis in general to be more guarded and, e.g., not speak up about important matters to the Jewish community, such as reporting child sex abuse and child physical abuse to the police?

Consider the parallel case, in Shabbos 33b: (original here)
Now, why is he [R. Judah son of R. Ila'i] called the first speaker on all occasions? — For R. Judah, R. Jose, and R. Simeon were sitting, and Judah, a son of proselytes, was sitting near them. R. Judah commenced [the discussion] by observing, 'How fine are the works of this people!15  They have made streets, they have built bridges, they have erected baths.' R. Jose was silent. R. Simeon b. Yohai answered and said, 'All that they made they made for themselves; they built market-places, to set harlots in them; baths, to rejuvenate themselves; bridges, to levy tolls for them.' Now, Judah the son of proselytes went and related their talk,16  which reached17  the government. They decreed: Judah, who exalted [us], shall be exalted,18  Jose, who was silent, shall be exiled to Sepphoris;19  Simeon, who censured, let him be executed.
While I might not agree with such a severe polemic of the Romans, I also would not agree with the full-throated praise of the Romans. And I shudder to think that Rabbis couldn't express themselves to one another, because spies exist, such that the only thing you would hear was an insincere pro-Roman message. In such an environment, people cannot be sincere and people cannot be nuanced.

YUTorah is a great thing. They put up all sorts of shiurim. But they make the private into the public. (I don't know that this was specifically from YUTorah.) And then, Failed Messiah, which posted this, is a hate site. The blogger as well as his commenters strike me as generally ignorant and full of seething anger towards Orthodox Judaism. While there is place for criticism, these folks remind me of Rabbi Akiva's description of himself when he was still Akiva:
 "If someone would give me a torah scholar I would bite him like a donkey!' (Pesachim 49b)
They found something to criticize and so criticized it. And the Forward watched the comment of the hate site and ran with their "breaking" story. And various rabbi bloggers, including those who previously had reason to differ with some of Rav Schachters more conservative positions, or with his more liberal position (towards freeing agunos) ran with the Forward story in order to discredit. Don't do this, please. It leads to an environment in which intellectual integrity and freedom of speech is quashed.

Should I address the racism angle or the vetting of abuse claims to measure plausibility? I'm conflicted. First, because it is beside the point*. And second, because any nuance or partial explanation, will trigger accusations of racism or insensitivity to child abuse victims. Because one can only take the party line, in its entirety. Which brings us back to the point of my post.

This was a speech by Rav Schachter to a group of other rabbis, and his general point was that there was no mesirah issues for reporting child sex abuse to the police. Then, there was some nuance of when he thought it appropriate to report, based on plausibility (which one may disagree with), as well as whether it was appropriate to send a person to state prison.

At the 7:50 mark:
"The thing is, in America, there are different kinds of prisons.There are federal prisons, and then you have state prisons. The federal prisons, that's where you have daf yomi, glatt kosher, lemehadrin, so that's not really mesirah. If he deserved to be punished, so let him sit in prison. The state prisons is mamash hefker. The warden in the prison can kill you, they can put you in a a cell together with a, [repeating while trying to find words] with a, um, uh, shvartzeh, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews, everything is hefker in a state prison."
He then continues that that situation could be mesirah, since it exceeds the lawful punishment. But, he continues, there are instances in which [even] mesirah is permitted. For example, when someone is meitzar et harabbim, a public menace. A pedophile or an abuser can be reported even if it is halachically mesirah. And that it is permissible to send a con-artist, a wife-beater, or a sexual abuser even to State Prison.

I doubt that all those who are condemning understood this. And I doubt that they listened to the full 10 minute shiur. (Or if there was more to it, the entire shiur.)

I doubt that they heard his ums, uhs, repeating "with a", which made it clear (to me at least) that he was fumbling for words, and was likely trying to describe, in several sequential short phrases, the warden pairing a Jewish person with a cellmate, a person likely incarcerated for a violent crime, who was a black Nation of Islam follower, who therefore hated Jews. In technical terms, a hendiadys.

Here is how the Forward led off, with an entirely inaccurate statement:
A top rabbinic dean of Yeshiva University has warned rabbis about the dangers of reporting child sex abuse allegations to the police because it could result in a Jew being jailed with a black inmate, or as he put it, “a shvartze,” who might want to kill him.
No, he didn't warn against reporting sex abuse allegations. As he made clear in the following statements, if the person was actually a child sex abuser, then while it was technically mesirah, the halacha is to be report and be masser the fellow anyway. Because he is a menace to others. The Forward seems to have missed on this rather major point, and indeed reported it again later in the article incorrectly.

And they only put in the "shvartze" portion, and left out that the "might want to kill him" was paired with "a black Muslim", meaning likely Nation of Islam.

They also wrote talmida chachamim rather than talmidei chachamim, indicating that the author likely was unlearned. (Since corrected. Could be a typo.)

The buried the fuller quote until the end of the article:

Schachter told his audience that in state prisons “the warden in the prison can kill you. They can put you in a cell together with a shvartze, with a… black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.”

Even in that fuller quote, they edited out the repetitions, which gives a different impression.
_____________________

Note: Well, I'll say that one should not use such language, and that I am not in agreement with such a policy of vetting, and am unsure whether it is practical, assuming I understood it correctly.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chasam Sofer explains the small aleph of Vayikra

He writes:
"Vayikra, with a small aleph. There is to explain the matter, that the measure of a small letter, this is that it is 1/4 smaller than a regular letter {?} in that particular sefer, and the large letter are a measure of four times the size of a regular letter in that sefer, as is known. 
And behold, the Torah is interpreted in four different ways, namely PaRDeS, which is Peshat, Remez, Derush and Sod. And behold, the different in Peshat between Vayikra and Vayikar is that Vayikar does not allude to such greatness and glory as does Vayikra. However, according to Derush, Vayikar is a language of keri [happenstance?] and impurity while Vayikra is a language of endearment and calling from the ministering angels. As Vekara Zeh el Zeh we translate into Aramaic 'and they received, this one from that one'. And so too according to Remez and according to Sod. And see the Zohar in this parasha the remazim and sodot of this aleph.
And Moshe Rabbeinu, in accordance with his great humility, only wished for the peshat meaning. Therefore he wrote it with a small aleph, missing the other thre facets, so that one would only understand from it the peshat explanation."
There is something subversive about this explanation, I think...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

YUTorah on parashat Vayikra

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Matzah constipated Chazal

Lest one think that matzah causing constipation is a modern phenomenon, consider this gemara in Shabbat 110a:
R. Joseph said: Egyptian beer consists of one part barley, one part safflower, and one part salt. R. Papa said: One part wheat, one part safflower, and one part salt. And the token is sisane.17  And it is drunk between Passover18  and Pentecost; upon him who is constipated it acts as a laxative, while him who suffers with diarrhoea it binds.
Rather than saying that it is only efficacious during this time, between Pesach and Shavuot, say that this is when they required its use.

:)

Rav Pappa was a beer salesman. Does he have greater knowledge into the identity of Egyptian beer than Rav Yosef? After all, it is more common to make beer from barley than from wheat. And so, given that the recipe is otherwise identical, Rav Pappa the beer expert could be correcting this statement of the earlier Rav Yosef.

And it appears, based on very cursory Googling, that Rav Pappa is correct in his recipe for Egyptian beer:
All the former research showed barley and emmer wheat were grown in ancient Egypt. It was emmer wheat that the ancient Egyptians used to make beer at Tell el Amarna. Archaeologists saved the preserved emmer wheat on the temple kitchen floors. 
The alternative is that each heard competing traditions, and so both are recorded.

As you might guess, I am a bit behind in daf Yomi.

Vayikra sources -- 2013 edition



by aliyah
rishon (1:1)
sheni (1:14), missing
shelishi (2:7)
revii (3:1)
chamishi (4:1)
shishi (4:27)
shevii (5:11)
maftir (5:24)
haftara (Yeshaya 43:21), with Malbim, Ibn Ezra



by perek
perek 1 ; perek 2 ; perek 3 ; perek 4 ; perek 5


meforshim
Geonim

R' Saadia Gaon(882-942) -- see Wikipedia entry:
  1. Arabic translation of Torah, here  at Temanim.org. This is a beautiful PDF, with the Chumash text, Rashi, Onkelos, and Rav Saadia's Tafsir. All of these have nikkud, which is a very nice feature. It also designates the Temani and standard aliyah breaks, and two commentaries, Shemen HaMor and Chelek HaDikduk, on the kriyah, trupnikkud, and dikduk, on the basis of Yemenite manuscripts, which would be worthwhile even absent the other features. Quite excellent, overall.
  2. The same Arabic translation, the Tafsir,   here at Google books. No nikkud, Chumash text, Rashi, or Onkelos. But there is a brief supercommentary by Yosef Direnburg at the bottom of each page. 
  3. Collected commentary of Saadia Gaon on Torah, selected from the writings of various Rishonim and from his commentaries on other works.

Ibn Janach (Spain, 990-1050) -- see Wikipedia 

Rishonim (11th - 15th centuries)

Not really Abarbabel
Judaica Press Rashi in English and Hebrew (France, 1040 - 1105) -- ואני לא באתי אלא לפשוטו של מקרא ולאגדה המיישבת דברי המקרא, דבר דבור על אופניו
Chizkuni (France, 13th century) -- see Wikipedia  
Daat -- with Rashi, Ramban, Seforno, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Rabbenu Bachya, Midrash Rabba, Tanchuma+, Gilyonot 
Rashbam (France, 1085-1158) -- see Wikipedia 
  1. here (and Rashbam), in a printed text, collected and corrected from printed texts and manuscripts, with citations and brief supercommentary by David Rosen.
  2. At Daat, color coded and copy-pasteable.
 Abarbanel  (Portugal, Italy, 1437-1508) -- see Wikipedia -- there is a section on his exegesis 
Baal HaTurim (Germany, Spain, 1269-1343) -- see Wikipedia entry:
  1. Baal Haturim - short, consisting of gematriot and the like
  2. Baal Haturim (HaAruch), consisting of perushim, often drawn from Ramban
  3. Torat Hatur -- when the Tur (in his halachic work) cites pesukim from this parasha. Not very helpful, IMHO. Though the supercommentary on the Tur on the bottom is nice.
Rabbenu Ephraim  (France, 12th and 13th century) -- see Jewish Encyclopedia entry --  "He was the author of "Perush 'al ha-Torah," which consists chiefly of gemaṭria and "noṭariḳon." He largely followed Eleazar of Worms."


Did Rabbi Yaakov Addes cause the Pope to quit?

Heh.

For one thing, the pope was already speaking (in his book "Light of the World") about the possibility of retiring back in 2010, if he were incapacitated:
But the book, an interview with German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald, also contains many personal reflections on Benedict's health, his daily routine and his future.
"Yes, if a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation, to resign," he says.
Here is the post from yaak, reproduced in full:

Rav Yaakov Ades: "My Book Got the Pope to Quit"

This is amazing if true.

Kikar reports (with an accompanying >37 minute Hebrew-language audio interview) that Rav BuhBut from Bnei Brak had sent a book written by Rav Yaakov Ades Shlit"a called "Divrei Yaakov - Pirkei Mahashava" that was translated into Italian to the pope. The book explains the foundations of Judaism and harshly attacks Xtianity.

The pope sent a letter back that he thanks him for the book, he learns a lot from it, it brings in spirituality, and hinted to the idea that the book will continue to bring great spirituality to the entire world.

A few weeks later, the pope resigned. Rav Ades says that it seems to be because of this book. The resignation, says Rav Ades, shows that the pope is denying the foundations of Xtianity as if he was saying that Xtianity is not true and people should stop going to church. A spiritual leader doesn't just quit like a political leader, he says.

What is special about this book? "Is there a lack of books against Xtianity?" Rav Ades asks. He explains that this book shows that while in Xtianity and other religions faith replaces the mind, this book shows that faith in Judaism does not replace the mind.

Rav Ades says that the book shows that supernatural Deveikut is possible even for a non-Jew, something that was missing from Xtianity. 

(I expect a heavy dose of skepticism about this.  Before dismissing outright, however, one should realize who Rav Yaakov Ades Shlit"a is first and how he is not one to look for fame, and then carefully calculate one's words.)
R' Yaakov Addes
Just Oy. I provided my analysis in a comment there, but it is such an obvious point that I wonder how anyone can take the claim seriously for even half a moment. It reflects such... simplicity. As I wrote there:
OK, done calculating.

The facts of the story sound plausible. He sent a book to the pope and the pope sent back a form letter. Because that is what "he thanks him for the book, he learns a lot from it, it brings in spirituality, and hinted to the idea that the book will continue to bring great spirituality to the entire world" means. It is a standard polite form letter from a very busy public figure. I doubt the pope even read the book. Otherwise, a harsh attack on Christianity would not get this response. [Edit: It might, if the pope read it but still wished to give a polite brush-off.]

Then, the pope resigns. This has absolutely nothing to do with this book.

Then, Rabbi Ades interprets a connection between the two, and say that "it seems" to him to be cause of his book.

I don't think Rav Yaakov Ades shlita is one who looks for fame. Though i don't know him one way or another.

I do think that it is quite possible that he does not understand what a form letter is, and misinterpreted the form letter as a glowing haskama and a renunciation of the Christian faith.

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