Saturday, January 05, 2008

Avodah Zara Test 3

These notes are unofficial and unedited. Any flaws and misquotations are mine; anything you find meaningful is from Rabbi Kenneth Auman. If you fail because you studied off these notes, that is completely your own fault. These are meant to aid you, not guarantee As.

What you don't have in the Torah is a clear definition of activities meant by U'bechukoseihem- in their statues. You should look at peshuto shel mikrah and conclude pesukim usually referring to avodah zara (and sometimes giluy arayos). But we don't have piskei halakha based on peshuto shel mikrah. So is there an additional interpretation?

U'bechukoseihem is much more subtle- not that clear. As to what kind of activities are in mind: Is bechukoseihem a cultural aveirah or religious aveirah? Do we say don't follow their culture or don't follow their religion?

page 51- List of holidays related to Avodah Zarah- gives list including birthdays and weddings and then death rites. Seems they would burn the King's personal effects so as to prevent them from being used from others.

page 52- Rabbi Meir versus the Chachamim- Sereifah at funerals- the question of whether Avodah Zara rites can only be applied by an important first-class king (that's where pagan rituals will emerge)

page 47- The Malbim here is referred to as HaTorah u'HaMitzvah. Malbim also prints the Medrish Halacha in addition to his commentary in order to show how indications in the Torah- reasons for Halakha (he is combating the Reform Movement.) This is the Sifra- Medrish Halakha. There's the Midrash Aggadah- which has stories and midrashim. Then there's the Midrash Halakha- it takes a pasuk in Chumash and shows which halakhos in Torah She'baal Peh come from that pasuk. It's the logical step before Mishna- suggested by some scholars that original form of learning the Oral Torah is Midrash Halakha.

Mishna was written and kind of eclipsed Midrash Halakha- it's more concise, easier to memorize; that's probably why it became the book.

What are the primary Midrishei Halakha?

1. Mechilta (Bereishis)
2. Sifra, also called Toras Kohanim (Vayikra)
3. Sifri (Bamidbar & Devarim)

What are the Midrishei Aggadah?

1. Midrash Rabbah
2. Midrash Tanchuma

page 48- This is the Sifra. Look at KLB". Yachol here means "Do you mean to say/ could it mean?" Question is what does U'bechukoseihem lo taleichu mean? Maybe it means they can't build buildings (as in, because the gentiles build buildings?) No, no! What it comes to say is that you can't:

1. Have a man marry a man
2. Man marry a daughter and mother
3. Have a woman marry two men

but this is odd- this is all based on things that are assur otherwise (later on). So why does it matter? Maybe saying you can't legalize it. Okay, so what did the Torah leave out that it has to say U'bechukoseihem lo taleichu?

1. Theaters/ Circuses
2. Different hairdos/ hairstyles (popular amongst the gentiles)

page 49- ND"- where the arrow is. This is the Sifri in Devarim. The pasuk in Devarim, parshas Re'ei- Perek Yud-Beis, Pasuk Lamed- "Hishamer Lecha pen Tivakesh" - look up the Ramban on this pasuk

You shouldn't try to follow them/ look like them-pen tevakesh- lest you be trapped in their ways (can't follow their ways- to be like them.) They're wearing purple- I'm going to wear purple.

page 52- Last time we saw there's a machlokes in the mishna between Rabbi Meir and the Chachamim about the King's funeral- question of holiday for Avodah Zara. Rabbi Meir is of the opinion that it makes no difference whether or not you burn a king's possessions or personal effects (there will be Avodah Zarah regardless.) We can therefore deduce that sereifah d'rabanan is a chok l'avodah zara because they connect sereifah with Avodah Zara. But there's a beraisa that says by Jewish Kings they also burned their personal effects (and this was not considered darchei emori.) So not Avodah Zara in terms of sereifa. But Chachamim say when sereifa happens by goyim it's an important king (so there'll be Avodah Zarah then) but if there is no sereifa by the funeral, that means the person is not as important so they won't serve Avodah Zara there.

Now brings in the situation where Jeremiah is telling Tzidkiyahu he'll die and have indecent funeral- his personal effects will be burned (this will be done by him.) When Rabbi Gamliel died, they burned 70 manna (not money, but of things) - his personal effects.

So comes to the conclusion that sereifa is not a chok l'avodah zara.

page 50- Sanhedrin Nun-Beis, Amud Beis- This is Perek Arbah Mitot in Sanhedrin (very gory perek)- here known as hereg/ sayif- decapitation (but done with a sword/ hatchet.) Machlokes about how they did it.

Proper way to do hereg- they behead him with a sword, but that's also the method the Roman government employs! So Rabbi Yehuda says that's disgusting- make him put his head on a chopping block and they'll chop it off with a hatchet.

So then they say that's disgusting!

He says "I know it's awful but what can I do? Because the Torah says Bechukoseihem Lo Taleichu" so we can't use a sword."

The Chachamim say no- it says sayif- in the verse it says v'haveisi lachem cherev- the Torah tells us to use a sword. It's a gezeiras shava from yakum u'nekom- also says lefi cherev.

(Devarim 12: 30- look up the Ramban there. Start from al derech peshat or one or two lines from the end of the Ramban.)

If you don't say like this, you're allowed to burn the personal effects of the Jewish kings and it's not considered Darchei Emori. Since it talks about this practice in Navi, telling Tzidkiyahu his personal effects are also going to be burned, so learning from the Torah, which is fine.

So per this Gemara we're fine- because just as we learned from the Gemara that when you have a source in Tanakh, like we do by burning personal effects, that burning personal effects is fine and not Avodah Zara, so too do we see that killing by a sword is fine.

But we're in trouble now!

According to the Gemara in Avodah Zarah, the Chachamim should have answered "Why do we care that the goyim do it?" That's what they said by sorfin al ha'eish etc- so there the logic is based on the fact that this has nothing to do with Avodah Zara- but here they needed a source pasuk! So which is it- that it has nothing to do with Avodah Zara or the fact that when there's a source pasuk in the Torah, we're fine?

Rabbi Auman thinks that this is the reason so many parameters for Bechukoseihem lo Taleichu.

Look at Tosfos on page 50- look at Ela keyvan dichtiv sereifah- taima- (so, it's a tough question)- even though chok that goyim keep, why is it muttar? Because it's written in the Torah. They conclude by sereifa not in this category because it has nothing to do with Avodah Zara, but here it seems to be that it is Avodah Zara- the only way to get out of it/ for it to be permissable to do anyway is for there to be a source pasuk. But now Tosfos says "If it were a chok for Avodah Zara, even if it were written in the Torah, we couldn't do it!"

Lav chuka hi l'sheim Avodas Kochavim day hoy chukah l'Avodas Kochavim

[Know any place where this is not okay? Matzeivah (good job SJ!) - it was like an altar/ mizbeach. Matzeiva was generally one stone. So lo takum lecha matzeiva because I hate it, God says. Rashi says the avos made matzeivos (points to Jackie!) pre-matan Torah, Hashem liked them! (hurrah for A.B.!) So what happened? Goyim started using them for Avodah Zara.]

So Tosfos is saying if something is really connected to Avodah Zara- then source pasuk in Torah won't help me.

But we are discussing a chok l'avdei kochavim shelo l'sheim avodas kochavim. (That's what burning by funerals, killing by a sword is...)

There are two tiers in terms of issur of Bechukoseihem lo Taleichu:

1. Something that is really associated with Avodah Zara (source pasuk won't help)
2. Established practice by goyim wich has nothing to do with Avodah Zara (and then need source pasuk to allow that)

[Rabbi Auman now gives a fantabulous speech which rocks my world, except that he thinks Gemara is far more important than Tanakh, which makes me sad.]

See it clearly with Rashi and the Rif- they lived at the same time. What did Rashi spend his time doing? He wrote his peirush on the Shas. What is the purpose of this peirush? To make it learnable. Owe him debt of gratitude. Artscroll did today what Rashi did 2000 years ago. Rashi was the first one to do this- anyone who knew vocabulary, learned with Rebbe- could then do this- that was Rashi's goal, to make it learnable.

Rif wrote a halakhic code. Now if you are dedicating your life to writing a peirush, you feel that learning Gemara is much more important than learning Tanakh. Has to choose between learning Gemara and Tanakh- chose to learn Gemara- without derashas Chazal won't know anything.

[Once when the Rav was very angry/ furious on Yom Ha'Atzmaut- he had the misfortune of stumbling into a Bnei Akiva minyan at YU- they said hallel with a bracha, special haftorah-he came to shiur and was furious. He gave an anti-Israel tirade. "People think they should go on aliyah- what, you can't learn Torah in chutz la'aretz? Look at the Ramban! He wrote ____ in Spain! And when he came to Israel, what did he write?! A peirush on Chumash!

So one student tentatively, hesitantly asked him "But what about the dreams of Joseph?" So the Rav answered "Leave me alone with the dreams!"

The Rav had a lot to offer- multifaceted and brilliant.]

So the Rif wrote a code- extract from Gemara what you need in everyday life. Learning of Gemara in order to know what to do- dealt with practical aspects of what applied in his day- he was faithful to tradition of his forefathers and tradition of his times. These were all halakhic tracts- once Rashi wrote the peirush on the Gemara, his Talmidim started learning contradictions. Tosfos already went to the next step- what if one Gemara says one thing and Gemara elsewhere says something else? Now have to deal with contradictions! So in a sense just continuing what the Gemara does- reconciling contradictions- what Ba'alei HaTosfos did for the Gemara is what the Gemara did for the Mishna.

So reconciled problems- stiros- contradictions in didfferent places.

Chachmei Sefarad not overly concerned with it. The Rif occasionally asks such a question. So when the Rif was faced with a stirah, bothered them in different way- Rif only bothered by it on the practical level- what should I do? So he had to decide- so would something say whichever Gemara, main Gemara or this Amora is more authoritative, then that Amora is the one I will follow.

Ba'alei HaTosfos focus on how to understand it and reconcile contradictions- how to understand one Gemara in the light of another Gemara. In Ashkenaz they already adopted the style of the Ba'alei HaTosfos.

Now Ramban as far as I can tell is part of the school of the Rif- his code is a more inclusive code. Around the 1200s when Ramban was becoming active he had the good fortune and his relative Rabbeinu Yonah- having Rebbeim who were emigrees of Ba'alei HaTosfos- Ramban and Rabbeinu Yonah learned from these Rabbis- the new style of learning. So he knew the old style, the Chachmei Sefarad approach, but he also learned the new Chachmei Ashkenaz approach.

Ramban was able to do something- only other person who could do this was R' Chaim- Ramban was able to create a revolution so he brought (popularized) this. So wrote Ramban (Chiddushei ____) might have thought this would create tremendous opposition- all of a sudden the Ramban bringing in something new- but nobody blinked an eyelash. Part of the reason, I think [as in, Rabbi Auman thinks], and this is purely my theory, is that he did not challenge any existing halakhic practices of/ in Spain. Know that on the contrary- he used this new method of learning to defend the Rif from the Meiri- the Ramban defended the Rif and used learning of Chachmei Ashkenaz to defend the Rif and so-called institutions of Spain. He revolutionized the method of learning but not the conclusions.

Then Sefarad learns like Ashkenaz- Talmud of the Ramban, then Ritva, Ran, Nemukei Yosef- appears to me that Ramban was much more brilliant than Rabbeinu Yonah. In some ways more brilliant than many higher-ranking Rishonim.

The premise of the Ba'alei HaTosfos was that the Gemara was an open book meant to be- Geonim and _____ looked at it as a closed book. Discussion in the Gemara is open book- Rif could leave it be but Ba'alei HaTosfos wouldn't leave it be- depending which approach you follow yields different conclusions.

So with Ramban you had the synthesis of the Chachmei Ashkenaz and Sefarad approach as one. So the Rush was helpful as well- he lived later than Ramban- he also brought a lot of Ashkenaz to Spain- continued in that process. According to the Ba'alei HaTosfos, tremendous chumra here- any practice done by non-Jews is only muttar if you have a source pasuk. Of course, it has to be a chuka hacha____ lahem (not just eating pizza.)

page 53- Here's the Ritva. "From The Mixed Up Files of Rabbi Kenneth Auman-"

This is the Ritva in Avodah Zara- raising questions from the other end- says if you have a source pasuk it is muttar, elsewhere says ____. So sugya- two sugyas argue with each other (throwback to Spain days). Seems to be saying Sanhedrin is the ikkar one- question of how we practice, though- so two sugyas argue and can't be reconciled.

Now look at Tosfos on page 52-

V'i Chukah hi- What's the Gemara's question? Maybe it is a chok, maybe because it's written in the Torah- quotes in Perek Arbah Mitot- if we don't say this way, how would we be allowed to do it? so too by sayif- now Gemara says "Im Kein"- if this is so, chok avodah zarah- but also pasuk in Torah! If the pasuk doesn't help, Rabbi Yehuda's approach- then the answer is sereifah not actually having anything to do with Avodah Zarah.

Sorfin is not chok l'avodah zara- Gemara there says it is prohibited as a chok- so ultimately this is a clash between two sugyas.

Basically Tosfos gives the same answer (even quotes the case of matzeiva.)

So basically says the ame thing as the other one- just elaborates a little more.

So they are concerned by the stirah between 2 gemaras- implication of Gemara in Sanhedrin is that if there's a pasuk in the Torah it's muttar to do it even if the goyim are doing it. On the other hand, Gemara in Avodah Zara- Gemara says that's why sorfin al ha'melachim is okay- seems to say that if something is a chok l'avodah zara then it's assur - if it's a chok l'chashivus (simply for importance) then it's all right. Tosfos raised the stirah between the two Gemaras.

Two-tiered halakha:

1. Any practice associated with Avodah Zara is off limits
2. If non-Jewish practice and we don't have a source pasuk saying it's okay, then we can't do it

We're still on page 52- peirush Ri- (in the middle of the long Tosfos)

There are two kinds of chok:

1. Avodah Zarah
2. Hevel u'Shtus (narrishkeit practices)

In our sugya it's discussing the chok for Avodah Zarah.

R' Yehuda feels you can behead with an ax. R' Yehudah holds cherev can refer to ax also and Chachamim either don't or say it needs to be a real sword.

Need a pasuk to be mattir even soething that's not a chok l'avodah zara and instead is a chok hevel u'shtus.

page 54- This is the Rif. He wrote in Aramaic. Things that make sense are permitted. There is a reason - the Ran is explaining the Gemara here in Avodah Zara (does not bring in the Gemara in Sanhedrin at all) and says anything done for a logical reason is all good. The Ran probably is following the shita of the Ritva which is that the 2 sugyas are really not compatible.

The Rif over here also- theRif has a policy that let's say - he goes through Gemara masechta by masechta. Let's say the Gemara in Gittin is connected with a get- he'll quote that in Masechtas Shabbos. The Rif organized halakhos according to THEMATIC sections. But one would expect him to bring in other ideas where applicable (pasuk in the Torah) but he doesn't which implies he feels the other source is incompatible. We would expect him to bring the Gemara from Sanhedrin over here. So the Rif seems to agree with the Ritva.

The Ran becomes a lot more meikil than Tosfos.

If you look at the Shulchan Aruch, you come away with unclear view of what's assur and whats' muttar- this is on page 56:

KA"KH- Ein holchin- Can't go in ways of ovdei kochavim- shouldn't wear their clothes, shouldn't have the same hairdos as them- don't build buildings like their temples/ that look like their churches. Now are these hairstyles/ is their clothing connected with Avodah Zara?

Now this is the Rama speaking- the Rama seems to be agreeing with the Mechaber and summarizes "rather, you should be different." Now it isn't assur but only refers to things the goyim do for peritzus/ immodesty. They wear red clothes- that's what the officials wear evidently.

[Insert the fact that I am wearing a bright red sweatshirt here.]

Davar she'nehegu l'minhag u'lchok- and there's no good reason for it. But something that they do for a good reason, a uniform for doctors for instance- if you're a certified doctor, you're allowed to wear a certain gown- and he quotes the Ran so you see he's quoting the Ran and before he quoted the Maharik- R' Yosef Cologne who lived in Italy (period between Rishonim and Achronim.) Starts off "you have to be different" but only if it's l'sheim peritzus or for absolutely no good reason or if it represents Avodah Zara.

Question posed to Maharik- doctor wanted to know whether he could wear a certain uniform (there in Italy?) Maharik ruled that he could. Chok l'avodah zarah- this is only applicable under these conditions- as in, you cannot wear the clothes the goyim wear under these conditions:

1. Peritzus
2. Avodah Zara
3. Something which makes absolutely no sense (and hence by wearing it, the only reason you'd be wearing it is in order to look like them)

Maharik is a little different from the Rama.

page 57- This is the Beiur HaGra. He quotes all the relevant Gemaras but quotes them cryptically so unless you know them it's hard to deal with. Aval b'Sanhedrin- okay because we have a pasuk (this is back to the whole idea of burning posessions) if we didn't have a pasuk...

Tosfos in both places- summarizes Tosfos. L'halakha you should follow Tosfos- reconciles both.

Basically we have a machlokes- Rama with Ran with Maharik on one side and Tosfos and Gaon on the other side. So this remains open. The Gaon is machmir. Halakhic ambiguity is a party.

page 55- Teshuva of R' Moshe written to a R' Binyosin. The clothing in America- Jews and goyim wear the same clothes.

Jews that come from Poland and came here to America and their descendants who are born here- are they mechuyav to keep to their Polish dress because clothing in America, the Jews and goyim look alike- so what should they do here in America?

So even if the father already changeda nd he put on modern American dress. Most people are meikil on this. We know the shita of the Maharik- know what the Maharik holds. His criteria are:

1. Peritzus
2. Avodah Zara
3. Shemetz (no reason)

So wearing modern American garb doesn't mess with these things. So it should be okay.

Even if no reason for wearing it, the only time it's assur is when he's specifically doing it to look like them. But not when there's a uniform (like a doctor's clothing.) Says people today have reason to do it. As long as not doing it specifically to look like goyim, no problem.

Nothing strange about it. Just fashion/ beauty- nothing wrong about it.

Now he's mechadesh something else: All the Jews wear this clothing, too! Jews are also wearing it/ manufacturing it. All people in America started wearing it at the same time- all religions wear the same clothing in America. Wasn't that first established for goyim and then Jews started wearing it? Rather for everyone at once.

Even a chok of hevel and shtus would be assur if done to look like a non-Jew. But that is not hte motivation here.

The Rav held same as R' Moshe with a slightly different nuance:

If you live in a society where every nationality has its distinctive costume, then you have the problem of malbush akum. But this society nowadays- we all wear the same thing.

next to last paragraph- read from the words u'bchlal b'minhagei habegadim- not sure if you could really call it a minhag- that's just what they were.

But the begadim that do have peritzus- that are immodest [all frum women used to wear sleeveless dresses in 1940s, 1950s, etc, now they doctor their pictures- revisionist history- not malbushei nochrim- this is where I argue passionately with Rabbi Auman and determine that I need to take his Tznius class]

Contemporary Issues of Dress As they Appear:

Dress serves a number of different purposes. Clothing sends out messages. Leaving aside the message of tznius, looking at someone tells you what "camp" of Judaism they belong to- Chassid vs Yeshivish guy vs YU type of guy (There's a YU type of guy? Who knew...)

People project themselves as wanting to belong to certain groups- psychology. Sure, every so often you get the wolf in sheep's clothing-but 99% of people affiliate with the groups they dress like.

Halakhic basis or not- R' Moshe says no halakhic requirement to dress according to that. Probably grounds to be meikil but other reasons for wanting it. Very insular community- mantain identity by staying insular and to my mind, it's a strategic practical decision to dress like that rather than halakhic. In this way it keeps them from going places they shouldn't- a uniform.

Most yeshiva students in Europe/ Lithuania- wanted ben Torah who looked modern- Torah should be associated with cool. Wanted people to dress neatly. They didn't keep their tzitzis out in Slobodka- didn't take out their tzitzis for keriat shema- for a person in the middle of davening to have his shirt untucked and look like a shlumpf?! Once 2 Chassidish boys came to Slobodka and asked why they didn't take their tzitzit out- so some joker answered "Shelo l'vayesh mi she'ain lo."

Rebbe gets in touch with the Alter of Slobodka- he gave a speech about the right way to tell jokes. What yeshiva nowadays do you think they give any meaningful mussar shmooze b'chlal?

Gave another speech about not acting too frum at home- they shouldn't be looked upon as freasks- need to be polite/ sweet. Trying to prove that one can learn Torah and still be nice.

This one does have halakhic basis- wearing yarmulkes. Many other things are more exaggerated today. Now come to Judaism think kaddish is important- really it's not- davening with a minyan is much more important tha saying kaddish, halakhically speaking)

Why does kaddish raise the neshama?

So the gemara- late midrash tells story- midrash of R' Akiva who had vision of a man carrying a load but he couldn't put it down. It was his punishment- he had a son but did not educate him (in the ways of the Torah) so that was the load he was carrying. R' Akiva found the son and taught him. First time the son said a blessing in shul, the man's load was lifted- actions of children credit/ detriment to their parents.

So if the children do good things, this reflects well on their parents.

People started to fight over who davens for the amud- and who says kaddish. So then rules were set in place in terms of who has kadimah for kaddish. The rules didn't help so l'maan hashalom they let everyone say kaddish together.

If you ever daven in Broyers, note that only one person says kaddish.

page 58- Way you wear a tallis is like the way you wear a garment- sometimes people keep their heads covered and sometimes they don't and it is proper to cover one's head with a tallis.

(We're reading Beis- middle part is the Shulchan Aruch.)

Now look at Gimmel in The Taz.

The Tur writes he should cover his head so head won't be revealed and Beis Yosef explains head shouldn't be uncovered from Tallis shel Mitzvah. Appears to be a machlokes about the Tur. What does the Tur mean?

1. Beis Yosef (R' Yosef Cairo)- Never should be gilui rosh anyway but should also cover head with tallis shel mitzvah (even if head is already covered)

2. Darchei Moshe (Rama)- says really what the Tur means is literally you're not wearing anything and it's only tov to keep head covered (it's a midas chassidus)

page 59- have to be careful to have tallis on, also. Now before we go further, has quite a bit more on this- very vague/ unclear for why cover your head. Not clear what the Tur meant. Just as a sidepoint, of interest to note that Magen Avraham on page 58- gimmel-

A bachur who is- unmarried doesn't cover head with tallis even if he is a Talmid Chacham. And someone who is not a Talmid Chacham, even if married, shouldn't/ doesn't need to cover his head. So Magen Avraham has two criteria:

1. Married
2. Talmid Chacham

At Broyers all men wear hats but only Rabbanim cover their heads with their Talleisim.

Made-Up Derasha: Mishna Berura sees two pesukim next to each other- some people think unmarried men don't wear tzitzis- of course they do- but sometimes idea that they don't wear a tallis (but this makes very little sense)

[Sidepoint: Rainy season began 60 days after Israel when they were in Bavel. Tekufah= equinox or solstice. Times when things change. Halakhic mechanism for calculating tekufah not exactly as it falls astronomically.]

Taz and Magen Avraham - page 59- Is it assur to walk around with nothing on your head (for men?) Maharshal (R' Shlomo Luria) says there's no issur to go without a headcovering (not found in Gemara and not like R' Isserlein- and his proof that there's no issur m'tzd ___ to go bgilui rosh- see it by kerias shema - this is a medrish, I believe. Dealing with theme that Hashem is very lenient with Kelal Yisrael. Really when proclamation comes from king, all people have to stand up and bare their heads- saying that by shema I don't make you stand up, don't make you bare your heads- wasn't matriach you to read it with your heads uncovered (so obviously there's no issur in doing so.) In the United States till Kennedy went with his head bared to his inauguration, hats were de rigeur.

Only a middas chassidus to keep your head covered- one of the Amoraim says "I can say about myself that I never walked 4 amos with my head uncovered"- even that is to walk (not same as just sitting somewhere)

Nevertheless, even when you're not davening- even not during tefillah it is proper to keep one's head covered because not covering one's head brings one closer to peritzus (Rabbi Auman is not sure exactly what he means by this)

Wear something small/ thin on your head and even if you want to make birkat nehenin and not wear anything on your head- you can cover your head with your hand if you have nothing else.

Halakha that person can't say davar she'bkedusha if libo roeh es ha'erva- what you need to do is wear clothing/ blanket to make a separation (hands not good enough.) But heads to take the place of a headcovering are good enough.

This was all a quote from the Maharshal- basically saying me'ikkar hadin you don't need to cover your head.

Says the Taz, there's an issur gamur to go without one's head covered. Ovdei kochavim- right away when they sit down, they take off their hats. One of the Amoraim- mother had dream he would grow up to be a gangster- was told to cover his head all the time so that he'll have yiras shamayim.

He says hand on head is not good enough.

Taz says since goyim take off their hats when they go inside, for us to do so might explain why this became so prevalent. This is chukas akum per Taz. Therefore we should wear hats.

(He seems to be siding with Gaon that any practice Akum do is assur. Question is why Taz doesn't object in Yoreh De'ah.)

Now historically speaking in Eastern Europe, this aspect was accepted and wearing a yarmulke became a big thing. In Germany really followed the Maharshal. (My father grew up in Frankfurt, went to Hirsch School- they didn't wear yarmulkes for secular studies, only for Judaic.)

Germany and Hungary: The threat was the Reform movement
Poland: The threat was the haskalah, Enlightenment

Chasam Sofer- chadash assur min hatorah- don't change, not one inch! Any change considered a concession to the Reform.

Approach in Gemarny: Compete with the Reform- modernize services, aesthetically beautiful davening. Sermon in the vernacular- pretty choirs. It used to be the only times the Rabbi gave a derasha was on Shabbas Shuva and Shabbos HaGadol- but then there were sermons.

Wurzberger Rav: Older than R' Hirsch- had a major dispute with him.

Hirsch was a master of public relations- writes in language that people understand.

Polish/ Russian Rabbis respected Hirsch greatly but said Torah im Derekh Eretz was a hora'as sha'ah. It was this idea of trying to compete with the Reform movement.

R' Dovid Tzvi Hoffman wrote peirush on Chumash- very special/ very great contributions - he was the head of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary (in Berlin)- R' Hildesteim more Zionist than Hirsch- people there in Poland didn't appreciate his tolerance for secular studies. Hirsch was the Chief Rabbi of Moravia and left to be Rabbi for family of 12 families in Frankfurt (no shul)- one was Rothschild, but still...why leave? Theory- where he was, they were giving him a hard time.

R' Hildersheimer in Hungary thought he'd be better off in Berlin.

We are now on page 60.

Major difference of opinion between people - Chachmas Yisrael- scholarship-

Should you apply modern methods of scholarship to the Chumash?

R' David Tzvi Hoffman tries to use scholarship to oppose biblical criticism. Or there are the da'as mikreh series- use scholarship to help one understand Chumash. But there were others who felt that in terms of Gemara, say- do you apply scholarship to study of Gemara? In many universities, department of Talmudic literature- scholarly approach- some ways are innocuous and others are more problematic.

Prof David HaLivni is an example of- as for us, I know he is an observant person- on the other hand, has no problem saying Gemara misunderstood Mishna- he has an essay published in "Tradition" saying they didn't understand each other- this could be problematic. Prof Saul Lieberman taught him. Halivni joked the people he davens with he can't talk to and people he talks to he can't daven with. [That's beautiful.]

Prof Lieberman- Orthodox person- his scholarship limited to comparing things in Greek- limited.

In last issue of "Tradition" interesting book review about Prof Lieberman. Scholarship has different people within the Orthodox community take different approaches.

Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin advocates using scholarship in their approach. As I understand it, in their mind they compartmentalized.

R' Dovid Tzvi Hoffman, R' Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg (author of the Sridei Eish)- all advocates of scholarship with limits. R' Hoffman wrote "interesting study that there is an ancient layer in the Mishna and subsequent later Tannaim who try to explain Mishna" (point was Mishna also much more of an ancient text)

The Rav was never in favor of these methods of learning Gemara- sat in Rav's shiur versus his grandfather's, no difference except that he was speaking in English. You had no idea he knew anything about philosophy while he was giving his Gemara shiur.

(Scholarship has too much gaiva and hypothesizing to Rabbi Auman- carried to extremes too much.)

The school in The Chosen is supposed to be YU?!

page 60- Teshuva Nun Vav - by she'eila- Is it possible to swear in court with one's head uncovered?

I don't have time. People used to pay bribes to get out fo swearing without anything of their heads. At the end of the 19th century, the Orthodox Rabbis in Hungary are very machmir. Very interesting that Gaon (remember Taz based idea of headcovering on chukas akum) would accept that since that's very much his shita- but Gaon says it's perfectly fine, even to say God's name with your head uncovered.

In the Orthodox community of Frankfurt, with my father can attest to personally-

[story: doing it only to show respect, nothing to do with u'bechukoseihem- story where R' ___ told him remove headcovering when meeting an important person.]

Many Sefardim don't wear headcovering- no inyan of u'bechukoseihem there either.

Real bechukoseihem is to come into shul without a yarmulke!

Now remember Ramban- imitating non-Jewish methods of worship that the removal of mechitzah by Conservative/ Reform movements and mixed seating was a violation of Bechukoseihem lo Taleichu- so for us to do something is the same.

The Sanctity of the Synagogue (book)

Rav tells famous story of man- only shul he can walk to is a Conservative shul- "I hesitated not one moment to tell him..." So the Rav forbade him to go there.

Reform movement: U'bechukoseihem

Wurtzberger Rav- two concessions:

1. Canonicals- long gowns (like what a priest would wear)
2. Moved the bimah

In England, the Rabbis of the congregations used to wear collars. R' Hirsch had a choir instituted.


page 67- This is a page of Gemara but not your standard page of Gemara. This is Ein Yaakov. It's a compilation of the Aggadah. Here it's put the Maharsha on the page- Mefarshim on the bottom of the page are also on the Aggadah.

Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. One of the Chaldeans who were astrologers said to him "On the day that she will go to her chuppah a snake will bite her and she will die." Rabbi Akiva was very upset by this. The day of her wedding she took her diadem (tiara/ crown) and banged it down on the wall/ floor and it went right in eye/ head of the sanke.

The next day she saw the snake over there- Rabbi Akiva said "What did you do?" i.e. you must have done a mitzvah that saved you from being poisoned by the snake.

She said that on the morning of her wedding day, a poor person knocked on the door and no one heard him- so she got up and took a platter of food and gave it to him. Rabbi Akiva said "You did a mitzvah- that's what saved you." Tzedaka saved you from death. So ein mazal l'yisrael- Jews can affect their future/ change the way things work for them. And from R' Nachman Bar Yitzchak we also learn there's no mazal for Yisrael-

The Chaldeans told someone's mother "Your son will be a robber." So she never let him uncover his head in order to inculcate fear of heaven in him. And she warned him to always keep his head covered so that the yetzer hara would not have rule over him. She never told him the prophecy of the Chaldeans. One day he was sitting and learning under a palm tree. His hat fell off his head. He looked up- he saw the dates on the tree (luscious ripe dates.) His yetzer hara overcame him- he went up and ate the temarim with his teeth. Then he understood what his mother meant.

page 64- Read from Kuf Yud Ches- R' Yehoshua had written a notebook- if someone is born on a Sunday, they'll be a person where there'll be no one else like them. If that means that they won't be good, that they'll be bad- but R' Ashi was born on a Sunday and he's not bad! Rather, there won't be anybody like him in badness, meaning that he will be good. R' Ashi said he and this man Dami were both born on a Sunday- "I became a melech (probably means roshei yeshiva) and he was the head of the Ganavim (Thief Lord.) Both born on a Sunday- can be for good or bad- gangster/ good person. People born on Sunday are exceptional people. Someone who's born on a Monday is going to be somebody with a temper. Why? Monday was the day that water was separated- mayim achronim and mayim tachtonim- people who create machlokes. Someone born on Tuesday will be rich and sexually promiscuous. Because grass was made on that day (multiplies a lot- proliferation.) Someone born on a Wednesday will be wise and full of light because that's when the me'oros were created (luminaries.) Someone born on Thursday will do gomel chasadim- because fish were created on that day (don't have to work for a living.) page 65- God gives food/ supports them. Someone born on a Friday will be a person who looks to do mitzvot. Someone who is born on Shabbos will die on Shabbos. And he'll be called a very holy person.

Go and tell him it's not so- it's not the mazal of the day that influences you but of the hour of the day when you were born!

Person born at Sunrise: Bright person, eat his own food (like sun provides sustenance for the world) If he steals, he won't be a successful thief- everything he does will be revealed.

Someone born under a Star Nogah, Someone Born Under Meidim- Red Star/ Mars will be a person who spills blood, R' Ashi said either he would be a bloodletter, a crook and murderer, butcher or shochet and mohel.

Riva says "I was born under Mars!" and he's suggesting- but I'm not any of these things. R' Abaye says- but you are because you're a judge- dayan- you sentence people to death.

Mazal can make you smart (influence your intelligence) - make you rich or poor and Jews are subject to mazal as well.

R' Yochanan says "Ein mazal l'yisrael"- how do you know this? Because Hashem says you don't learn from the ways of the goyim- because goyim have to fear the Mazalot.

What does it mean:

1. Ein Mazal L'Yisrael
2. Yeish Mazal L'Yisrael

Look at Rashi on this (unbelievable Rashi!)

V'yeish mazal l'yisrael- she'ain tefiallah u'tzedakah m'shaneh es ha'mazal

If you hold yeish mazal- you're born, finished!
If you hold ein mazal- utefillah utzedakah uzechus mishtaneh mazlo l'tovah"

[Maybe consider genetics- hardwired by genetics just like hardwired by mazal]

Now look at Tosfos- ein mazal l'yisrael- Riva says there are 3 things in the world:

1. Children
2. How Long You Live (Longevity)
3. Food

Nothing to do with zechuyos-

He compared two people's lives- equal tzaddikim. Doesn't depend on zechus, depends on mazal! The Rivid says too (why tzaddik lives a short life, wicked lives a long life)

When people are born, they are given a certain amount of time to live in this world. Zechuyos could lengthen it/ aveiros could shorten it. Not sure what combination of mazal and zechus influenced that person's life. Would appear that Rambam had completely different understanding of how this works.

(Famous letter of Rambam to Chachmei Marseilles)

page 68- Mishna here talking about what jobs people should have. This is misnayos with commentaries of Rav and Tosfos Yom Tov.

Mishna Yud-Daled- Rabbi Yehuda said a bachelor should not be a shepherd. Nor should two men sleep together under the same blanket (naked.) And the Chachamim were mattir it (we're not choshed people by this.) Person whose business deals a lot with women should be sure not to have yichud with them- shouldn't teach him a trade that will require him being with women. Need clean, easy profession.

page 69- PAY ATTENTION NOW- and he might have the most advanced degrees and can't make a parnassah- other people, everything they touch turns to gold-

(Sidepoint: J.B. Priestly has a story called The Verger - who took from whom)

R' Meir says learn a trade and then be mispallel to Hashem.

Tosfos Yom Tov: Here's where tefillah comes in- have to be mispallel that your zechus should help. There explains zechus as meaning mazal. If everything is totally mazal, what good does tefillah do? Then what use is it doing any work? The zechus can affect the mazal and Tefillah can be that zechus that affects your mazal.

So this is a very confusing topic (huzzah!)

page 70- From where that you don't go to Chaldeans to know your fortune? Because it says "Tamim t'hiyeh im Hashem Elokecha."

page 71- Tannu Rabanan- a ba'al ov brings up meis (corpse/ skeleton) and spirit of meis speaks from between the bones (necromancy, huzzah!) Yidoni uses bone from certain kinds of animals in his mouth and the bone speaks.

Now look at amar raba- If the tzaddikim want to, they could create the world because it's your aveiros that separate you from God. Rava created a person-

[sidepoint: R' Yudel ___ found this manuscript- fantastic story. Dr. Lyman discovered that R' Yudel Rosenberg took a Sherlock Holmes story and put in the Maharal instead. No Royal Library in Melz. The problem is, his Haggada also comes from the so-called Royal Library in Metz!)

"The Adventures of the Maharal in London"- Dr. Lyman article (remind me that I'm totally reading this)

Vilna Gaon was not pleased with Rambam- his "cursed philosophy led him astray"

Rambam: Don't think/ believe God created the world because of Gensis, but because scientifically think so, otherwise I would reinterpret Genesis! Also, Vayera is a dream.]

So he created a person- sent him to visit R' Zira (what the heck did I write here?) so R' Zira was speaking to him and the guy wasn't answering him- so then R' Zira said "created from magic! Go back to dust from which you came!" R' Chananyah and R' Oshiyah every erev Shabbos would sit and study Sefer HaYetzira and would create a calf and they would eat it (that is freaking cool!)

Rabbi Akiva- someone looks at times and decides what's good to do and not good to do.

Bad Omens: All forbidden (But we saw formerly by R' Akiva by his daughter!) Impossible to reconcile all these things- so many contradictons/ different approaches.

Lots of different views.

Personal View, Not Authoritative In Any Manner, Form Or Shape: No serious scientist considers astrology legitimate- Gemara makes many scientific statements. Gemara believed in spontaneous regeneration- lice from sweat- impossible. Also find statements in Gemara eerily close to latest scientific knowledge! First 40 days child conceived possible to change the sex of the child- I always thought this was not in accord with scientific principles, but apparently the first 40 days sometimes possibility to be able to change. Then, in terms of sleeping, this idea of first half of the night on th eleft side and then on the right side- heartburn and digestion are apparently helped by this.

What do you do with all these things? So you're probably going to put me together with Rabbi Slifkin for this, good company in that camp- R' Salanter is in that camp-

Chazal were very astute observers of nature/ human nature. They learned a lot from it- did not have microscopes, tools, scientific theories- so therefore they combined their astute observations of nature together with whatever medical knowledge they had at the time- reflective of that. Astrology was well-accepted discipline of that time.

Compare and see whether matches with Chazal- metzizah b'peh- fact that Chazal believed was healthy and why- common belief at the time.

Whole idea of Sheidim- things you can't see (we have germs/ bacteria/ viruses- those are our Sheidim.) Same way we use germs to explain theories; they had Sheidim.

Dybbuk- possession- modern psychology is psychosis, other mental illnesses. they called them dybbuks. Theory subsequently has been disproved- now if this conflicts with your religious beliefs that everything Chazal says has to be taken literally, then consider me an apikores.

[That line is fabulous.]

Moreh Nevuchim Perek Sheni Chaf-Daled:

The Gemara in Sanhedrin says it's assur to base things on itim and shaos.

Look at page 70- how do you know we're not permitted to ask the Chaldeans- that it says tamim tihiyeh im Hashem Elokecha? You have to be whole with God, believe in God, remember other Gemaras we did- did Chazal believe or not believe in the concept of astrology?

Did- they believed stars control certain forces in the world- person born with a certain kind of temperament- born under mazal of Modin. Idea of extra chromosome of same kind -

So we know a lot of things today are based on genese- played an important role in determining what the future could be. Today's scientist might tell you astrology is bunk- as said last time, I don't want people who feel that if you don't believe everything then you are an apikores- don't want to impose my views on you- we were taught Chazal operated with the best medical and scientific information of their time.

Gemara says something about medicine- question how it determines this.

Ein Yaakov- interesting piece.

Hakotev - author of Ein Yaakov himself.

Read starting from ka'asher nedakdek- Superstitions not based on science/ logic. Totally irrational, just lo tnachashu that people say it.

Davening to Kivrei Tzaddikim/daven to Neshamos, probably not permitted (no intermediary allowed) - pray directly to God

Problem: We have a lot of tefillos in accepted core that one is davening to other people or other things. Awful lot of selichos addressed to other people- many skip certain things because of this- piyut of Yud-Gimmel Middos on Yom Kippur- talking to Midas HaRachamim to bring up Tefilos for you-

Three Bases for Forming Beliefs

"There's no movement without a mover."

Newtonian physics says "an object in motion will stay in motion." That's why the Church didn't like this. Rambam's 3 views he quotes on creation- of historical interest.

pages 138 and 139- belief in astrology- looks like Rambam building up strawmen and then knocking it down. There is hashgacha and bechira involved. Same questions as you still have today- human being- series of chemical reactions in the brain that one automatically going to happen. Other scientists who say no- doesn't mean not innate essence to a person that could change those things- do you think Rambam didn't believe in bechira etc?

Making astrology in eyes of those who believe it's so strong- don't have to believe that argument against it on religious grounds not so fair but on religious grounds to say akin to idolatry- why should it be? I also think th eRambam's understanding of astrology is that of the planets actually having power. It's just that the positions of the planets can tell you things- merely scientific observation. I don't think Jews who believed in astrology _____.

Not every question in the world is religious issue- not a matter of religion- it's a matter of fact (astrology.) Chazal believed it was there- they had a different scientific reality.

There's a teshuva of R' Yaakov Emden about smoking (talks about how healthy smoking is for the body)- that was knowledge fo the times- scientific questions- the result of that scientific question becomes a halakhic issue- what's a Rabbi going to learn about it? Certain things that are just matters of fact.

What I feel is that those amongst Chazal or Rishonim believed it to be scientifically correct- Rambam as a scientist I can accept- so all right. But bottom line is anything we know is scientifically incorrect- if person still will do it, could border on being Avodah Zarah.

If person does something because they know that it works (a lot of drugs- do clinical tests, they see it works, don't know how) but if you mumble incantations 50 times- no scientific evidence that something works- they think that it is affecting some spiritual kind of something- doing something which is not a mitzvah- so why are you doing it? You mean you believe there are forces independant of God? Nature is what God created- those you can observe; that's not a problem.

page 141- observe things, make decisions based on observed things

Border between what was science and what was magic was very permeable. In ancient world, didn't really have those distinctions- when someone was crazy, they said they wer epossessed. Rav Shach said "Whatever I'm mechuyav to believe, I believe" (talking about miracles in Torah)

Sefer Gesher HaChayim- Sefer by R' Yechiel Totchinsky. Otzer Hatefilos- compiler was Gordon.

Chelek gimmel of the Mavo was L'mi Mispallelim- 2 places where you will find comprehensive discussions of praying to people- 2 different points of view. Point is that they were writtten by people of stature- 99% of all people say them.

What does it boil down to?

Do we have a right to ask angels to pray on our behalf and bring our tefillos to God? When you ask an angel for a blessing- what is a blessing? A blessing is a prayer- God should do this for you (not that the person has any power himself) but that God should do this- that's the idea of blessings.

R' Chaim of Volozhin didn't even sing Borchuni l'Shalom but we see in Torah you *can* ask angel for blessing (it's by Jacob.)

Depends on concept of what an angel is/ how an angel functions. It's Mystics vs. Rationalists.

Mystics: Angels have some degree of freedom of choice- that's why you can ask them for blessings.

Rationalists: Merely forces of nature (like th ewind)- so how can you ask them to do anything for you?

To say Borchuni l'Shalom isn't a problem- the idea is that they come back from shul and if everything is in order, they bless the house- you are not asking for a blessing; you are saying I hope I deserve the blessing.




Anonymous said...

Thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you SOOOOO MUCH!!!

Anonymous said...

Wurtzberger Rav- two concessions:

1. Canonicals- long gowns (like what a priest would wear)

In England, the Rabbis of the congregations used to wear collars. R' Hirsch had a choir instituted.

It might interest you to know that English rabbis have only stopped wearing canonicals very recently (I think within my lifetime, although I don’t really remember seeing them wearing them). The Chief Rabbi does still wear them on occasion. Getting rid of them was very controversial, because Anglo-Jewry is very ‘small-c’ conservative.

Lots of Orthodox English shuls (including my shul) still have choirs.

I have been known to say, semi-jokingly, that minhag Anglia should be translated not ‘the English minhag’ but ‘the Anglican minhag.’

Someone born on a Wednesday will be wise and full of light because that's when the me'oros were created (luminaries.)

I was born on a Wednesday. Modesty prevents me from saying whether this superstition holds…