Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rabbinic Literature as a Source for Jewish History Test 1


Daddy, you will like this a lot. And aren't you happy I'm doing my homework in advance?

If you benefit from these notes in any way, I suggest giving a donation to YU or purchasing one of Rabbi Kanarfogel's works as a way to say thanks.

Rabbinic Literature as a Source for Jewish History
JHIS 1325H
Dr. E Kanarfogel

How do you write history based on Rabbinic literature? Intellectual history is the history of ideas, minhagim, how you use these mekoros to make the stories happen.

The theme of this class is “Individuals in Society.”

A yachid facing larger societal issues/ constructs, an apostate (someone who converts to Chrstianity and now wants to come back to Judaism), what does he need to do? Does he need ritual immersion?

We’re going to focus on a fairly narrow medieval mode- meet new sefarim and make new friends. What sources do we bring to the table?


Jacob Katz, a’h, taught for many years at Hebrew University in Jerusalem- Hungarian yeshiva bachur who got his doctorate, pioneer in the history of halakha, not only in the learning sense but in the sense of how it impacted Jewish society. The Shabbos Goy is a fascinating book- what was permitted, what wasn’t permitted, how those practices changed- generally speaking, Northern French Tosafists tended to be more stringent than German Tosafists and vice versa. Then there was a physical meeting- Germans showed up in a French place and learned- have to pull out limudim for historical purposes- interaction between Jews and Christians, halakhos; there’s a famous case of the mishna at the beginning of mesechtas avodah zara that you shouldn’t deal too closely with gentiles (Christians) during their festivals because then they’ll thank their gods. So how practically could that have been involved? Rabbeinu Tam involved, Ri involved- learning and history.

Professor Katz once came into seminar and would say nobody knew historical mekoros he didn’t know, but gemaros I expect you to know! Cristicim frum historians get is that they are too close to the mekoros- by now, if we can get people who can handle the mekoros, we won’t hold their frumkeitagainst them! Mekoros- rabbinic texts are harder to work with than historical method- history of halakha. Wrote medieval and early modern periods. Professor Hayyim Soloveichik one of his early students- covered topics of moneylendings, yayin nesach- which is a very big economic issue in terms of economic vitality-

Yaakov Katz came late to this- Hebrew version of his book has longer ma’arei mekoros, more extensive. His book is very readable, published in 1959. Katz was about 55 years old. In Hebrew Univesrity they didn’t want him to write this because they didn’t know it was relevant- Rabbi Kanarfogel is getting that statement from his biography. We start putting out books in America very young.

Between the ages of 55-90 he put out a whole field- wrote an autobiography, had three sons (Kanarfogel met him), he was a short man, had a daughter killed in milchemes ha’shichrur- didn’t know that, though, nobody talked about that. He died at age 93, almost exactly same dates as Rav tz”l. Sponsored 25 or so dissertations at Hebrew U. There was never a right or wrong historical solution if mekoros are right. You could always argue with him- I wish he would tell me why I’m wrong (on the topic we’re about to discuss)!

Katz put forward the position that RASHI held strongly that a Jew who had convereted to Christianity fundamnetallly remains a Jew, so much so that from the moment that he wants to come back, he’s considered back! RASHI (1040-1105) lived through the first crusade. No doubt he was asked about the status of such people, although not aware of major persecutions other than Crusades in 1096, issue of conversion to Christianity was not a dead issue. There was martyrdom, but still accepted Christianity against their will or together- after the fact, once Jews accept Christianity, what then? RASHI is talking about real cases.

One question was, while the person is practicing Christianity, what is their status? Well, yayin nesach and one cannot break bread with them, count them into a minyan but one may not charge such a Jew interest. RASHI says you don’t treat them as a non-Jew. Issues of yerusha- do his Jewish children inherit him? You treat his assets as Jewish assets, says RASHI. The other side of it is once this Jew decides to return, their return is blocked by nothing (no probation period, etc.) Af al pi she’chata Yisrael hi.

No matter how heinous the chet, the Jewish status cannot be obliterated. Once they reassert their Yisraelis in a public way, they’re Jews! We don’t have strong evidence in this early period that many people wanted to argue with RASHI. Katz’s point is that virtually everyone agrees with basic parameters of RASHI’s position. RASHI in tefillah very often doesn’t win (interesting to note.) We’re not even so familiar with RASHI as a posek- we know him as a meforash. He doesn’t always win.

There were RISHONEI ASHKANAZ who said that a kohen who had made himself Christian (the RISHONEI ASHKANAZ are predecessors of RASHI) may not duchan when he returns. Once you’ve violated your kehunah, it’s not recoverable. Same as kohen who commits a murder (solder in IDF, yeshiva bachur, kohen- goes and kills people, what then? Interesting questions!) and does teshuva can’t duchan. But RASHI holds with regard to someone coming back from Christianity, they can duchan.

There can be larger categories- individual status of person or interaction with community. As Katz shows, in early modern period this seems to change. Katz holds that in period of early Europe- this type of halakhic attitude changes. A Jew who was converted to Christianity will have to jump through more hoops to go back to community- look at the ACHRONIM. What is gap between Jews and Christians during medieval period as opposed to the early modern period? Argues that because the gap is so large during the medieval period, just coming back demonstrates that you are a fully committed Jew- that is all that is required. But during the early modern period, since the gap is muddled, they put you through a procedure to return- the TAZ, BACH, SHACH- virtually everyone says they need to re-enter in that way. Also you can’t eat from them in the first week, you can’t count them in a minyan right away- pretty consistent line of demarcation. Uses that to argue difference between Jews and Christians in eastern/ western Europe. Exclusivity vs. tolerance.

Part of the purview of halakha- BACH in one place- R’ YOEL SIRKUS, father-in-law of the TAZ- he got his name from Sarah (his mother’s name) which was pronounced Surki so Sirkus. Same thing by the MAHARSHA- R’ SHMUEL ADELES (mother’s name was Adel.) The BACH at one point says that the minhagim of 3 weeks and 9 days have extended a lot past the basic mishna/ gemara have said. BACH says once upon a time Jews knew how to mourn so they didn’t need all these restrictions. As Jewish history unfolds, Rabbanim did up the ante; they did add but not capriciously-they put forward additional stimuli- Rabbanim put in what would work (some from shiva, some from shloshim.) Use- always development. So these people don’t disagree with RASHI but say RASHI is great- now we need Plan B.

Eastern European Jewish society was still a very closed society. Today we’re in a cosmopolitan society. 16th century Jew brats up a Jew- Beis Din handled that. Jew got sic- Bikur Cholim department sprang into action. Nowadays it’s the police that handles this, not the Beis Din. Today if a Jewish community had to stop all this violence, Jewish blood would be spilled. Problem is you have to go by governmental rules. That kind of society- difference in community structure. Difference between full modernity today versus then. Today if Jews want to have illicit fun they can do it within the community! Everything’s messed up. In terms of protection of life/ property, it’s better. In terms of how you treat Jews who are not with the program, not okay- must be very gentle.

Mikvah Issue was popular/ common- Jacob Katz found that it wasn’t mandated by Rabbis. Even today there’s a gap between technical halakhic decision and practice- you’ll ask a Rav what is the din of wearing whatever and the Rav will say it’s mutar- technically mutar but we don’t do that. Community- come to a wedding dressed like an Israeli and they’ll think you’re the waiter! Is it muttar to go to a wedding without a jacket? Katz says any possibility of tevilah in this period is a POPULAR response. The people are saying “Feh! You were where? In a church, doing what! You were there? Go to the mikvah!” Maybe it’s even reciprocal- a way of “undoing” the baptism.

[In response to a question a classmate asked, Rabbi Kanarfogel says, “Then again, when does the Jewish community ever do something without thinking it through?” Gales of laughter.]

Metzius b’Halakha- What happens when a new situation comes along? REALIA- there are rules ad issues of what Rabbanim can do similar or dissimilar to predecessors. Takanos and gezerios- very high mortality rate in middle ages- parents expected to give certain dowry to daughter and there was a question of holding it back because what if the woman dies in childbirth? If that happens, all the money from her dowry goes to the dreaded son-in-law! RABBEINU TAM made a takana here that if the woman died in the first year of marriage a certain part of the dowry can go back. Could we do that today? Some say yes. CHASAM SOFER says takanos of that type cannot easily be done today- with person of that authority- also audience listened much more carefully to gedolim in olden days. Today you can have gedolim and rabbanim get up and people say “I think I’ll change my membership.” The audience counts.

Ashkenaz people made more than Sephard people. Kefifah L’Smachut- beholden to halakhic leadership. Instinct ritual- knew what made sense, different relationship between poskm and olam.

RASHI did not collect his own teshuvos. Even through responsa was written by many Ge’onim, there is a question of who collected them. Depending on who collected the teshuvos, question of who wrote them all (as a sidepoint, Besamim Rush is a forgery but R’ Akiva Eiger quotes them for halakha- what do you do?) teshuvos RASHI put out for 900th anniversary of his yartzheit. RASHI is from Beis David- all descendants of RASHI showed up in Madison Square Garden- all kinds of nice things- had that in 2005, 63 RASHI conferences all over the place.

Elphenbaum put these teshuvos together but every once in a while there is a question about which teshuvos are RASHI’s- there will be an opinion of one choker who says it isn’t RASHI’s teshuva.

Page 1- Look at KS”CH

I’m getting these from a number of manuscripts. Teshuvas R’- it doesn’t say RASHI but just reish in manuscripts, for a variety of reasons. KS”CH bottom footnotes demonstrate footnote variance. There is a small possibility that this isn’t teshuvas RASHI.

Elphenbaum also puts these things together- arranged by topic. RASHI dealt with questions of yayin nesach also- his begadim get caught without his intention. Normally yayin nesach has to be a purposeful touch. RASHI paskens that it is mutar here. Next one is about anusim. Final question is on this topic.

Siman KS”T there’s a variant to the left- what is that first abbreviation? Shiboles Haleket. Shiboles Haleket is an Italian work; its author is R’ TZIDKIYA BEN AVRAHAM HA’ROFEI and he is from Anav. Flourishes in mid-13th century. Dies in 1216. Shibolei Haleket is a repository of teshuvos RASHI. R’ Tzidkiya had contact with Ashkenazic centers- also an important indication. This is just to show you there are earlier collections of this Gemara.

Should it be easier for someone who was converted against their will to come back as opposed to those who accepted it?

But the question here: Once someone has openly accepted Christianity, you have to stay away from their yayin nesach. So now they’re coming back. But how do we change their status or do they need to have a probation period? It has to be some kind of public teshuva. Question is how long do we wait before trusting their food? What about these new anusim (possibly from the Crusades) where there’s no precedent for the and we haven’t seen the do teshuva? What do we do- l’hachmir u’lhafrish from their wine?

Couple of things:

1. We hav forced converts who claim to have done Teshuva but we can’t verify their Teshuva- how many weeks/ years do we wait?

2. Other converts who have done Teshuva but we don’t see it?

So RASHI answers:

They didn’t intend to do avodah zara, therefore not in the same state as if you’ve done things willingly. Not to mention the fact that here the WINE is not sign of main worship; it’s not as though they are pouring wine libations. (They use wine as part of Eucharist but it’s not a sacrifice. Wine plays role in their service but not the same role.)

Just because they became Christians doesn’t make them ovdei avodah zara, presuming there IS an element of Teshuva. Our uncertainty should be applied to them in a good way; there are some mitigating circumstances here.

Now we have a question: Is RASHI relating to only forced converts or also to willful converts?

Now see- certainly these ones, who have done it under duress- even those for whom the sword wasn’t going to fall- not really yayin nesach now- even they can be let off the hook, so those that were under the law- You haven’t seen their Teshuvah but they’ve claimed they’ve done Teshuva- once that’s they’ve accepted Judaism again, that’s it! Kashrutan!


A) If willing converts, Teshuvah still helps- no yayin nesach
B) Even less to talk about if under duress

All you need is for them to claim they’ve done Teshuva. Katz gets excited about this. Once they say they’ve done Teshuva, they’re back in the fold- entitled to be part of the community.

MEIRI says those nations that have religious guidance don’t have a din of avodah zara. Those religious principles make you an os ovdei avodah zarah. R’ YAAKOV EMDEN says this, too. Problem is that the MEIRI and R’ Emden are not the most popular for psak (we don’t really pasken like that.)

RASHI says a Jew who engages in certain Christian practices may not be doing avodah zara and also once they say they’re doing teshuva, you may eat their food/ consider them part of halakhic community.

Shatzmiller/ Yerushalmi readings: People took it very personally when people went over to the dark side and returned- they wanted to smack it out of you- it was emotional. Katz’s point, partly. Halakha is calm per RASHI. Group is saying it is not calm. RASHI wants to dispel the notion that people need to go through some intense things.

MAHARAM FROM RUTENBERG- brings down story where husband left town and never came back. 3 non-Jewish highwaymen said they saw him dead in a grave. You may accept non-prejudiced testimony to verify where he was- only problem is that the highwaymen were executed! Then there was the testimony of some guy who was Jewish but who wavered back and forth- one week Jewish, one week he isn’t- he says that he saw the husband still alive.MAHARAM FROM RUTENBERG says he’s with the three gentiles on this one.

Very interesting- other popular evidence for dipping in mikvah-almost an “unbaptism.” Bernard Gui was an Inquisitor. What Yerushalmi found was a Latin text that dealt with Jews- record of leading Inquistor in Southern France named Bernard Gui. Bernard Gui was questioner- in lengthy dossier of what he heard from Jews who converted back to Judaism- Yerushalmi has several pages of material where a Jew talks to the Inquisitor about how he was received back into the Jewish community- dipped in water, rubbed with sand, especially pronounced on forehead, chest and arms (because of baptism) so clearly unbaptizing. The nails of his hands and feet were cut, sometimes he was rubbed/ treated this way until he bled- and his head was shaved. Then he was immersed three times and a bracha was recited. Yerushalmi has Latin words for tevilah.

Yerushalmi says that I went to Jewish legal sources and found nothing (requiring this.) Standard medieval codes- Katz mentions this, but this isn’t a halakhic statement.

But later on, there are plenty of indications that someone (MAHARSHAL, RAMA, BACH, SHACH) dips in mikvah. We can’t prove with finality that the rejudaizing rite as described by Bernard Gui is authentic- but the custom of tevilah definitely existed. Debaptism as popular custom did not have Rabbinic approbation at first but later the poskim are actually asking for it.

WC Jordan says something along the lines of “Whatever elitist Rabbinic views might have been, an unbaptizing ritual was being practiced.” Yerushalmi says in Eastern Europe for sure but several hundred years later! This is a popular custom and NOT a halakhic custom.

(WC Jordan is William Chester Jordan- black devout Catholic who teaches Jewish Studies at Princeton and is an ohavei yisrael.)

Shatzmiller focuses on RASHBA. RASHBA is a Sephardic RISHON who dies somewhere around 1310. RASHBA’S dates are from 1235-1310 approximately. Very significant portion of Spain which is now Christianized. The RASHBA quoted by Shatzmiller suggests that tevilah is not required, so Shatzmiller points to a RITVA- another Spanish source who seems to say something about a tevilah. Katz quotes a NEMUKEI YOSEF on this. RASHBA represents halakhic legal position, the RITVA mentions popular kind of follow-up. One of the reasons Shatzmiller thinks RASHBA doesn’t require tevilah is because that would make it seem as though there is some legitimacy to Christianity. This is a shakul- consideration (what it looks like.)

NEMUKEI YOSEF on page 25: According to everybody, doesn’t require tevilah but some kind of acceptance of being part of the community- therefore references tevilah d’rabanan, quoting the RITVA. Shatzmiller thinks that’s a more popular tevilah. It’s kind of Rabbinically approve- it’s quasi- tevilah- in between status. Shatzmiller is working off of Katz, assuming in absence of a strong halakhic statement saying that YES, tevilah is mandated, it must simply be a popular thing.

Now here’s a question- can you add a halakha or law l’kavod ha’tzibur?

Key Issues: Is a Meshumad Ha’Chozer B’Teshuva (henceforth referred to as simply meshumad because I don’t want to type it out every time) treated like a total and complete Jew or a little like a geir (convert?) That’s a halakhic issue.

Carlebach reading: Quotes a teshuva from the TERUMAS HADESHEN which is R’ YISRAEL ISSERLEIN who lives in the 15th century. The RAMA quotes him in the MAHARA. R’ Isserlein has a question asked of him as to whether a meshumad may be shaved on Yom Tov (when it comes to Yom Tov, there are exceptions made by shaving when it comes to someone who just got out of jail, same thing by Joseph when he goes to see Pharoah) so can we shave this meshumad on Chol Hamoed because we want to take him to the mikvah? And he says YES. Minhag avoseinu Torah hi.

So Carlebach interprets that to mean that it’s a minhag that had some approbation- what’ the status of a minhag? TERUMAS HADESHEN answers no problem- you can set aside the idea of not shaving on Yom Tov for this minhag- so this becomes a matter of importance. Carlebach assumes that the idea of tevilah is a popular idea that the Rabbanim start to accept.

Fromm also talks about TERUMAS HADESHEN – his take is that what started out as some kind of folk custom the TERUMAS HADESHEN has accepted and now we even have some kind of Rabbinic text to support it- that’s the way most scholars see it.

TERUMAS HADESHEN was 15th century. The name TERUMAS HADESHEN- well “deshen” connotes ashes so it’s like he is saying “I’m cleaning the ashes,” I’m a late RISHON-could just be modesty. Also “deshen” is 354 in gematriya and 354 represents the number of days in the lunar year because TERUMAS HADESHEN has 2 parts- shailos and teshuvos- 354 simanim of shailos. He synthesized the questions to cover current questions that he received.

In fairness to the opposition here, I want to present a couple of mekoros in the Ba’alei HaTosfos that seem to support the Katz approach (some printed on fancier texts.) Look at Page 2- it’s a sugya in Pesachim, page tzaddi-bet. It’s talking about milah for Korban Pesach. Gemara is saying (it seems) that when an arel gets a bris milah, a tevilah b’makom is also in order (just a person without a bris milah, not a meshumad or anything.)

The RIVA says “I don’t understand this sugya because we have a cardinal principle; someone who is born a Yisrael never goes to mikvah for teir Jewishness. Nobody goes to mikvah for Jewish identity in that sense.” Even d’rabanan!

You can extend this to mean, “A Jew who is born a Jew never goes to mikvah to be a Jew!”

Same thing in printed text: RIVA wonders about this, quotes a different Gemara here where sometimes we impose tevilah on you (this is by an onen) where not indicated but never in a case like this (where Jew is going to mikvah for his Jewishness.) Argument partly from silence, but if there were such a thing by a meshumad, the RIVA wouldn’t ask this question!

Who is the RIVA? Very early ba’al ha’Tosfos named R’ YITZCHAK BEN ASHER HALEVI. He’s from Shpira (Spire.) Spire was one of the main communities that suffered during the Crusades. RIVA is arguably the FIRST Ba’al HaTosfos. [Now for some background on RASHI, which will become relevant soon: RASHI dies 1105, learned in Mintz and Worms. We think RASHI didn’t even learn so many years there- not more than 10 years or so. RASHI post First Crusade establishes Troyes as a center of learning, so northern France and Germany are splitting.] RIVA is a student of RASHI who also brings material from RASHI and works with it- RABBEINU TAM quotes TOSFOS from the RIVA. Interesting sort of bridge- RIVA is from before RABBEINU TAM. So in any case, the RIVA is pretty strong- he holds similarly to RASHI that there is no such tevilah (or else one can logically assume he would have brought it up.)

page 2- What are the TOSFOS HARASHBA? There’s a French RASHBA- R’ SHIMSHON BEN AVRAHAM- from a place called Shantz. He’s usually called RUSH M’SHANTZ. He is the best student of RASHI’s great-grandson the RI.

TOSFOS RUSH M’SHANTZ is arguably the best collection of Tosfos we have. Reading Tosfos is hard because it is cryptic. Sometimes these other Tosfoses are longer and more involved- made clearer by these variants. Ba’alei Halakha are always very concerned with these variants- so question becomes, do variants have greater/ lesser/ similar/ no status? Sometimes different opinions due to variants!

Later Tosfos are shorter and have less names because they are compressed and due to the editing job that takes place. R’ Moshe says that we pasken according to printed Tosfos. The printed Tosfos, he says, is like the Mishna; TOSFOS HARUSHis like the Baraisa, outside the Gemara. Poskim for last 400 years didn’t have TOSFOS HARUSH!

page 3- The RI here is R’ YITZCHAK BEN AVRAHAM who is the brother of the RUSH MISHANTZ. He’s called the RITZBA. The RITZBA dies around 1209.

This page supports Katz (he didn’t have this text, though):

A meshumad who comes back doesn’t need three to accept him (doesn’t need three to accept him in a Beis Din.) [So in terms of the question of whether he is a geir- the answer here is no- since he doesn’t need three to accept him in a Beis Din!] Why isn’t this necessary? Because this is self-evident- we can tell. How can we tell? Because you can see what the meshumad is doing (if he’s behaving like a Jew, etc.) His wine is considered kosher as long as he is practicing.

And now we have very interesting words- V’afilu lo taval- So is tevilah necessary? No. So no matter whether or not there was a tevilah (popular idea or not) he is fine. It’s happening (as evidenced by the statement “And even if he does not dip”) but it’s not necessary. And now it goes on to say that even if this meshumad was lending money to Jews with interest and he hasn’t given back all the money yet, he’s still fine. Here it’s a little like a geir (it says domeh ktzat l’geir) because your prior actions are almost irrelevant. If you fix your perversion (in religious sense), good! But teshuvah is not hanging on money- it is hanging on BEHAVIOR. So even if he doesn’t give the money back, he isn’t stopped in terms of teshuva.

The next passage cites R’ ELIEZER OF WORMS who is a German hakham who dies around 1130- author of the ROKEACH. He has a similarly lenient postion but he’s after the RITZBA. We’ll get back to this later.

Go back up on the page- “kasav RI’ M’korbil”- says that person who does Teshuva doesn’t need to bring a letter of eidus saying that he’s returned. The EVI HA’EZER says differently- he paskens that you need to put a razor on your head, tevilah, need 3 people to convene (tevilah can be at night but Beis Din needs to be in the morning.) EVI HA’EZER is the author of a sefer called EVEN HA’EZER. His name is R’ ELIEZER __ YOEL HALEVI (HA’RAVIYAH). Assuming this is him, he is very significant.

1. Not absolutely certain every single time that this is the RAVIYAH
2. We have lots of material from the RAVIYAH now- this psak doesn’t appear in what we have (doesn’t mean it’s bogus but it doesn’t appear there)

SMAK- SEFER MITZVOS KATAN is a book written by R’ YITZCHAK OF KORBEI who dies in around 1280. It’s not an absolute abridgement but a shorter version of the SMAG (SEFER MITZVOS GADOL) which was written around 1240. Shorter version of practical halakha. There is a very interesting peirush on the SMAK called the SMAK OF ZURICH. R’ MOSHE OF ZURICH writing in early 14th century- first and only reference we have to the RAVIYA so a bit of a problem- we would love to have this closer to the dates of the RAVIYA.

One of several examples of EVI HA’EZERs that appear here but not elsewhere- some we have verified- I’m going to bring other texts of well known RISHONIM who require tevilah just as it seems to be the RAVIYA did.

The RASHBA quotes RITZBA and R’ ELAZAR OF WORMS- RASHBA had this material as well. RAVIYA wasn’t mentioned. Still, should be taken seriously. HE may be most radical but definitely not alone; RAVIYA will begin to look less radical.

page 4- RASHBA starts out quoting- some lenient Gaonic material is documentation in Gaonic material- teshuvos ha’geonim- as long as see him acting like a Yisrael, his wine becomes permitted.

Hotz’as m’Kitzei Nirdamim- Wake up the sleeping people (except really manuscripts were sleeping.) Late 19th century. Wistenetzky published this edition of SEFER CHASIDIM based on the Parma manuscript. R’ YEHUDAH HACHASID wrote SEFER CHASIDIM (they’re both German.) Parma manuscript is the better version. (Manuscripts end up all over the place- oldest manuscript we get of RASHI on Chumash is 1233- problem is a bunch of people added on their own comments- friendly talmidim added on to what he said- the accretions are from his students. But which from who? There are 66 addenda where RASHI says “hosafti.” Most works are from RASHI but sometimes you can detect- the modern Chumashim are impossible; there’s a piece of Zohar that fell in…Debra Abakesis did her dissertation in order to figure out the best RASHI. She decided to look at the Ba’alei HaTosfos on Torah and see what nusach they had- the problem is that the Ba’alei HaTosfos have some of the same accretions as we do, the same issue- it doesn’t bother them if RASHBAm fell in there.

RASHI on Shas is arguably less played with- the problem is the printers.

SEFER CHASIDIM –hard to put an author to it. Take a look at siman R”T (R’ YEHUDAH HACHASID dies in 1217) arguably reflects the late 12th, early 13th century Germany. Here it says somebody has to be aware that he’s doing teshuva- “ka’asher yaruhu ha’chachamim”- SEFER CHASIDIM is big on acts of penance. Tikunei Teshuva- self-flagellate.

CHACHMEI ASHKENAZ and the Franciscans- did they both self-flagellate? Jews were impressed by how “frum” some Christians were. Who is physically on the line, different perspective. Are Gemaras which talk about yissurim and kabalas yissurim – R’ Moshe Feinstein shows why this isn’t the way to go now. There are Jewish sources for this- but back to R”T.

From the time that he accepts his teshuva acts, can daven with him in the room and can count him in a minyan! He has to be acting like other Jews (saw a phrase like that in RASHI, in the RITZBA- other lenient places.) Verification is it looks good- he’s accepted/ done teshuva. That’s how we verify that he’s doing the right thing. Birgalim- footnote in Chagiga chaf-vav. The key to am ha’aretz is that he’s not trusted on tumah and tahara- opposite of that is the chaver. Tumah and tahra especially important during the Shalosh Regalim. We assume amei ha’aretz are more careful and we also don’t want to split Bnei Yisrael by ostracizing amei ha’aretz- more lenient with assuming that amei ha’aretz is tahor. Amei ha’aretz’s declaration and behavior accepted. Therefore, as long as meshumad has some contact with chacham- person says he’ll follow procedures and does then he can be relied upon. If am ha’aretz wants to be permanently chaver-ized he has to go before the Beis Din to be certified.

(Of course, there is a kind of peer pressure on the am ha’aretz in such a situation.)

Tribunal examination to be certified as chaver- can you compare temporary to permanent status?

Let us now make a distinction:

RASHI: Meshumad according to him is reversion to former state, not promotion
SEFER CHASIDIM: Am ha’aretz promoted to chaver, same thing by meshumad promoted to Jew again

Katz thinks that maybe he hears a whisper of mikvah here- “harei m’shaa she’kibel”- from moment he accepts and starts practicing he’s accepted- as opposed to theoretical people who might NOT accept without a tevilah.

So to recap, here is our list at the moment:

NO MIKVAH: RASHI (dies 1105), RITZBA (dies 1209) , SEFER CHASIDIM (dies 1217)

page 6- This is also a SEFER CHASIDIM, but the edition is the Balogna script. This was put out by R’ REUVEN MARGOLIS- incredible scholar. Just to show others have been thinking about these issues.

page 7- This is the first very clear figure in the tevila scheme- and he is important. This is two cases that come from the RI- R’ ISAAC BEN SHMUEL OF DANSPIERRE (Rebbe of the RITZBA.)

This RI- Rabbi Kanarfogel fell upon it in a very good manuscript- called a Vercelli- here it’s a bishop’s seminary- catholic place with Jewish manuscripts.

This is a gigantic SEFER MORDECHAI witH all kinds of glosses. Two of the glosses are relative to us- page 291, the reverse side. It’s a 15th century manuscript, written in Italian hand. 99.9% sure it’s the RI.

Meshumad came by and he came to Troyes. Two Jews asked him if he did teshuva and he said yes. He went inside and got out of there and he became a waiter/ a server and he serves wine. And RI received a question about the wines that he touched and RI said the wine is kosher because you don’t compare him to an am ha’aretz who needs 3 people (in order to be promoted to a chaver) because in that case an am ha’aretz is trying to become a chaver and it is not enough without 3, but over here this meshumad knows the whole time that if he didn’t dip tevilah and accept on himself divrei chachamim he is considered like a gentile. (So this meshumad knows that if he is faking it he’ll be treated like a non-Jew.) So running a tremendous risk; there’s tremendous deterrence involved.

By the case of the am-ha’aretz vs chaver, there if the am ha’aretz blows it, he is still an am ha’aretz- here if the Jew is not truthful, he will be treated differently, like a non-Jew. So there is that deterrence involved. Therefore the RI says he doesn’t need a Beis Din.

We’re not exactly sure about the m’chayev of this tevilah is for the RI – clearly it is considered some type of obligation- but what exactly this is halakhically is not clear. The RI has clearly accepted or initiated tevilah for meshumad-

How does Rabbi Kanarfogel know this RI is the RI?

1. They’ll quote one of his Tosfos later
2. Second teshuva- quotes full name

This kesav yad is what in some ways turns this whole discussion around- first case was the RI.

page 7- First piece makes it seem like this is necessary- tevilah required.

Question: Obviously a halakha, but halakha based on what? Is it based on geir/ am-ha’aretz analogy, takana-gezeirah, popular minhag which the RI is now approving? is this some kind of un-baptism?

Look at the second paragraph which is in the MORDECHAI in Yevamos:

There’s idea of a convert/ geir who did tevilah at night with a pasul Beis Din (bris was at night.) RI says you have problems- a night bris milah isn’t good and the tevilah is also a problem. As long as we have no proof (as long as only milah we know of happene at night, maybe have to retake dam bris. So we have a problem.)

Again, does a Beis Din have to see whole milah when they are normally not there for milah- try to do this correctly, then. If we compare paragraph alef to paragraph bet, though- if really milah and tevilah for geir, lots of requirements. Put that next to the piece on meshumad – you see the tevilah as between him and himself (it’s NOT a tevilah for geirus per din of geir. ) Also, we think it’s the RI since his name was written out in the second paragraph.

So he requires tevilah for meshumad but we still don’t know why.

RI goes on RAVIYAH side except RAVIYAH is more extreme.

So here’s our list now:


page 8- This SEFER YOSEF MKANEI is a polemical work of anti-Christian polemics by JOSEPH THE ZEALOT who is a mkanei to respond to Christian critiques of Tanakh. There’s a story about a meshumad here:

So there was a meshumad who was very religious and he says to RABBI YOSEF BECHOR SHOR what do you say about this parsha? BECHOR SHOR says “Shoteh! Your ears should hear what your mouth is saying- your servant will be illuminated”- and if he is really a God, how can he call himself “your servant” (Jesus is part of the Trinity!) The meshumad immediately tore kriah and rolled around in the dirt and did teshuva.

page 9- This is TESHUVOS U’POSKIM- came out about 30 years ago, published by Ephraim Kupfilm (in Hebrew University, microfilms.)

Next page, page 10, has a minhag of men going to mikvah on Erev Yom Kippur- it’s R’ SIMCHA M’SHPIRA (Spire.)

Page 10
is OR ZARUA- R’ YITZCHAK BEN MESHY’- look at second paragraph- there’s an idea that young woman was captured by AKUM, ate their food and so on and when she came back they recommended tevila for her.

Now go back to page 9- A girl (Jewess) who was submerged (by which they mean she fell I with non-Jews) and lived with them and had two children with them and went back and did teshuva with her children. Now, the children needed a bris. According to this case, they threw them in the mikvah before the bris. What does that prove? Well, obviously not tevila for halakhic purpose because they didn’t even have a bris yet. So what’s that about? (Question of whether they are mamzeirim- we say no- we say they are Jewish) and you don’t need 3 Talmidei Chachamim at their tevilah (so no Beis Din) because it is not being performed l’sheim geirus and it can even be held at night! This is a tevilah l’sheim chazara, as it were.

But don’t think this is a tevila for no reason- they need this tevilah!

Now quotes story from the AVOS D’RABBI NATAN-

Tevilah in the books for coming out of non-Jewish captivity (about being a ba’al teshuvah- have done sins!) Now in context of woman and her two sons, one flavor- now put it into THIS context and you see it’sthat she lived with them/ part of their community. Teshuva on being part of a community- but obviously these kids were not so why did the kids nee tevilah? Because they were part of the community!

R’ SIMCHA OF SHPIRA gives his psak that ba’alei teshuva need tevilah- gave in one case, then extended it.

If these little kids would have touched wine before the tevilah, they wouldn’t make it yayin nesach because they were never non-Jews. And even gadol who was meshumad was unsure what they were doing before and then wants to come back – from moment accepted to come back, you don’t make yayin nesach. So the tevilah has nothing to do with yayin nesach- they don’t make yayin nesach anymore- tevilah is not to make you Jewish; it’s teshuva for having left the community and THEN it trickles down to all Ba’alei Teshuva. Also, no Beis Din is necessary, so it is definitely not a geirus.

Who says all of this?

R’ BONAFORT in the name of R’ SAR (SAR= R’ SIMCHA OF SHPIRA) He says the purpose of this tevilah is to purify them from aveirot.

So let’s recap our list:


Then quotes sugya in Pesachim from which the RIVA got that Jews who are Jewish don’t go to mikvah about their Jewishness- but he learns it differently! RIVA said he didn’t understand, but here this other person learns Pesachim to support him.

Now a proof from Esther- when she would go back to Mordechai from Achashveirosh. She’d go to mikvah in between- just because she was with him (Achashveirosh)- spiritual uncleanliness idea- seems to have a spiritual un- avodah zarah. Teshuva is linked to extricating yourself from avodah zara in a spiritual sense.

Anything going from totally chol to kodesh- needs tevilah. You can buy a vessel from a non-Jew that he never even used, but it still needs tevilah!

Spirtual goal: extricate yourself completely and totally from Avodah Zarah.

(Sounds a little like a Rabbinic Unbaptism! What started out being an opinion of no Tevilah has turned into a flood.)

URBACH, by the way, reads TESHUVOS RASHI as the TESHUVA OF THE RI – so URBACH appoints Katzian view- thinks the RI is the one who said that (didn’t have those manuscripts.)

Why aren’t there German Ba’alei HaTosfos in Tosfos? And how would you find them if you are looking for them?

Printed Shas Tosfos is more French than German. Frenchmen produce peirushim that we call Tosfos. The Germans invested their strength in RAVIYA. Big sefarim that covered most sugyas in mesechtas that have practical halakhic moment.

page 10- OR ZARUA, student of R’ SIMCHA OF SHPIRA, talking in paragraph 2 about/ broadly that these people need tevilah- so needs tevilah as sign of Teshuvah (so not an unbaptism but instead a sign of Teshuva.)

Simcha Immanuel- SHIVREI LUCHOS- The Lost Works of the Tosafists- he’s put forward lots of missing names and works.

Something is going on now in Northern France and Germany- most French Tosafists appear/ function as Roshei Yeshiva. Germans are Roshei Beis Din. They see themselves as dayanim with extensive psak. So question as to whether it’s Beis Din lomdus or lomdus Beis Din? And where do we see them and where do they see themselves?

RIVID, RAMBAM- we see Tosfos on page but it’s not true- optical illusion. The RAMBAM is codifier- questions the divide between lomdus and halakha.

Now pages 11-12- R’ ELAZAR OF WORMS- He was also mentioned in the SMAK M’ZURICH text on page 3. R’ ELAZAR OF WORMS is the second most famous chassd. The SEFER ROKEACH is an important sefer halacha. Different German pietists but still in this group. SEFER ROKEACH reads more like halakhic sefer than Tosafists. R’ Elazar requires tikunim- penitential acts.

If I’m kofer b’ikkar and come back to the community, community in late 12th century Germany (full of anti-semitism) surely I’ve done teshuva- why else would I come back? ma’asav mo’chichin alav- so join back; it’s obvious that you’ve done Teshuva. (Somewhat reminiscent of the fact that you need to tell a potential convert that being part of the Jewish people is such a drag.)

The ROKEACH taken here doesn’t say anything about mikvah- seems to fit into the RASHI school (which is how he’s recorded by the SMAK.)

So look closely at pages 11-12- MOREH CHATAIM (The Guide to Sins- or rather, the Sefer Kaparos- how to atone.) This treatise of R’ ELAZAR is found in some printed text- the COLBO. SEFER COLBO has a fraternal twin- ORCHOS CHAIM- R’ Aharon Milunel. So these two are fraternal twins (similar.)

In this particular case, this is an anonymous collector- this treatise is found in the Kolbo. These are likutim. KOLBO- COLLECTION (KOL BO= ALL IS IN THERE.) Special melachim waiting for accepting Ba’alei Teshuva- so page 11 is just here for the title and introduction. Nevertheless, he says, you need to come to do teshuva by putting the body on the line a little bit- some type of regiment of Teshuva.

page 12- For particular sins, there are certain restrictions- can’t bathe in beer, eat fancy food, etc. You ask forgiveness and we give you malkos- whipping. For the sin of lending money with interest to a Jew, doesn’t require physical afflictions bu you must pay back and must swear off monylending for a year. Depending on what you did, punish yourself more. Kofer b’Ikar and you’ve changed religions- no shampooing, no wine, don’t wash- It uses the word zuhama here to refer to a “spiritually bad stench.” Literally it means filth.

R’ ELAZAR mentions some kind of tevilah by Teshuva and Kapparah, same as R’ SIMCHA OF SHPIRA and says it’s for purposes of zuhama. Seems replicated by R’ Elazar. So now Shpira and R’ Elazar share similar views with regard to this.

Have to think about all the things you did and truly repent. True that relative to acts themselves, doesn’t throw the book at the Kofer B’Ikar. But the idea of tevilah is certainly there. How do we reconcile the KOLBO version and the SMAK M’ZURICH issue?

1. Chronologically closer
2. SMAK M’ZURICH doesn’t rule out Tevilah- it just says that by R’ ELAZAR as compared to other aveiros, less is required here

Not a big problem (in terms of reconciling the two.)

Interesting to put it next to Shpira’s text.

page 14- This is the KITZUR SEFER MITZVOS GADOL. This is not simply a summary of the SMAG but that kind of work. This is by AVRAHAM SON OF EPHRAIM. This is stuff neither the SMAG nor the SMAK has- but something else, ended up languishing in manuscripts. The question is: If we get guests and they say they are Jewish, can we believe them? Can they touch our wine? Answer is yes. We do believe them.

Now echoes the RAVIYA as quoted by SMAG on page 3- Three men, Beis Din, Tevilah can be done at night. EVI HAEZER- we had a problem because wished RAVIYA would have said so himself- hesitation. What’s the problem with the KITZUR SEFER MITZVOS GADOL or page 14- the problem is that they’ve got no names! It just says “Omrim” so this gives credence to the fact that someone before him had this shita. This is the same shita appearing.

Shave= Full body shave + Tevilah (stresses that here)

Not a geir mamash because he’s not but as close to a geir as possible without going over. What would be the rationale behind these actions- why compare meshumad to metzora? Because also doing Teshuva, also sent out and also reincluded. Metzora imagery is not bad imagery here.

There is a strong position which RAVIYA seems to espouse that there needs to be a tevilah, needs to be in front of 3, could be at night, kabala is necessary in the morning.

So here’s the progression:

We’ve got the position of the RAVIYA.
We’ve got the SMAK M’ZURICH in the name of the RAVIYA.
We’ve got the KITZUR SEFER MITZVOS GADOL (KITZUR SMAG) cited as “b’sheim omrim.”

Appreciate RI who had said tevilah serves important purpose- no matter the reason for the tevilah, the RI is supportive.

Postion of pro-Tevilah just gets fleshed out. Now not just a tevilah but now it’s tevilah with an oomph!

RI supports Tevilah between meshumad and Maker (his action is private because he is not a geir at all.)

RAVIYA position- got to be acceptance before 3 people by day but tevila can be at night.

page 15- This is a sifra to Parshat Emor. It’s about the Mekalel (man who curses God) on Sefer Va’Yikra.

Why are they calling him a ben ish yisraelis and ben ish mitzri? Why do you have to call him both names? Sifra asking about ben ish mitzri- guy who’s been m’tgayer- comment on lefthand side- the peirush here- peirush she’aviv n’tgayer. So going back and forth- so while he’s discussing this he comments in passing about how you become a geir. How do you do it? Per the minhag- custom! What’s the minhag? Cut the fingernails and go to the mikvah and cut hair. This is not as extreme as the RAVIYA. This is further evidence of minhag yadua by Ashkenaz leaders.

RUSH M’SHANTZ- brother of the RITZBA- we’re back in France again and we’re back again but one problem- this ISN’T the RASH M’SHANTZ because it’s quoting from people who come after him (when he’s dead) so this peirush is NOT the RASH M’SHANTZ. It’s certain that it’s a German RISHON living during the first third of the Thirteenth Century but it’s definitely not Rash M’Shantz.

Open Shas to Nazir or Nedarim and you look at RASHI- you’ll see ACHRONIM and will tell you that it looks like RASHI but it’s not RASHI- you can tell forensically when RASHI’s not RASHI- RASHI on Nazir can’t be RASHI because sounds like Tosafist talking. “RASHI” on Nazir probably from one of contemporaries.

pages 19-20- R’ AVIGDOR KATZ- He is a teacher/ senior colleage of MAHARAM- successor of OR ZARUA as Rabbi of Vienna. We have here peirushim and pesukim to R’ AVIGDOR KATZ. By the aishes yefas toar, of al things- long nails, shaves head. Look at last few words on page taf-tes:

Female giyores needs to shave their heads- has to wash off haircutting- so on and so forth. Woman becomes a geyores- can’t marry for 3 months. Real geyores or Yisraelis who went to live with Christians- in this case, they don’t need havchana.

Interesting thing- line 3 on page taf-yud: Is 3 month separation needed for this couple (havchana?) The tevilah is ASSUMED! Ba’alei Teshuva, it’s assumed, must undoubtedly go to the Mikvah- footnote 27. Then says it’s in the RASH M’SHANTZ on Parshat Emor- we just saw that that’s NOT the Rash M’Shantz.

So R’ MAYER OF RUTENBERG quite possibly talking just like R’ AVIGDOR KATZ.

pages 21, 22, 23- Read RITVA text (to Yevamos mem-zayin.) The RITVA quotes TOSFOS ACHRONOS (late Tosfos) who see to say tevila has something to do with the tevila of an Eved Canaani. Attempt in Tosafist literature to halakhacize this thing.

Has to have milah and tevilah- when Eved Canaani is freed.

Katz thought this was “popular” minhag but by now we see, not so much.

page 25- Quoting RITVA the NEMUKEI YOSEF had said tevilah is required.

So some very important RISHONIM attract position of Tevilah.

RITVA- interesting acronym. Al- Ishvilli. Might be saying “from Seville.” RITVA dies somewhere around 1395 (did he say 1325?) He is a student of RASHBA. In the case of the RITVA, studies function in Northern Spain- clearly a Sephardic RISHON- by time you get to 13th century Spanish RISHONIM, notion of a 12th century RAMBAM- had to show if RAMBAM knew RASHI-

RASHI greatest pop grammarian of all time- greatest intuitive seat of the pants grammar you can find.

page 21- This is a Mossad R’ Kook RITVA

Even if he contracts kiddushin as a meshumad, we are choshesh for it-

1. When he is a meshumad, when he contracts kiddushin, these kiddushin (if the woman accepts them) are valid- you have to give her a get to free her
2. Always choshesh for kiddushin

Other problem- what if he married the woman as a full Jew and then gives a get as a meshumad- is that okay? (we’ll say yes for now) Also, as a sidepoint, there are more questions by Marranos- Marrano marriages. What if a woman escapes and then she needs chalitza from her Marrano brother-in-law back in Spain? All very complex.

Then we get into more questions- what about a woman whom the meshumad married as a Christian.

A Jewess left Judaism and she finds a non-Jewish fellow and marries him. Now she wants to come back and he wants to become a Jew. Do you have to be Jewish to precipitate arayos with a Jewish woman?

Another fun question- can a geir say kaddish for his biological parents? Answer is yes.

RIVA ends up paskening against RABBEINU TAM and says that man who was married to meshumedes (even if now wants to return and become Jewish) cannot be married to her once she returns and he converts.

pages 21- 22- If a meshumad makes a kinyan, you can’t just run around grabbing things from him. Now RITVA adds on- Yisrael that came back in Teshuva- “eino tzarich tevilah ela kabalas” – don’t need Tevilah- just need Kabbalah before Beis Din (this sounds like the RAVIYA.)

RITVA sets up some kind of comparison between meshumad coming back (kabbalah before Beis Din) compared to Eved Canaani becoming a Jewish servant.

So by now Tevilah has more quasi-halakhic position.

back on page 7- smoking gun Tosfos-

Says a lot of what the RITVA means. Why does he need a 2nd tevilah? We don’t redo his whole Judaism. People who say Af al pi shechata yisrael hi are not necessarily opposed to those who say he needs Tevilah- the Tevilah needs to be there as a HEKEIRA- a sign for notice and recognition.

Is the Eved Canaani technically a Jew before his second Tevilah? Free and now if he is m’kadesh an isha it counts, then time for Tevilah- that’s akin to what happens by RI

There are two quotes here from same Vercelli manuscript (RIF forms spine for SEFER MORDECHAI. )

HAGAHOS MAMONIYOS- On the page of the RAMBAM, virtually every printed meforash is Sefard except one commentary which is Ashkenaz called the HAGAHOS MAMONIYOS. The author/ editor is R’ MEIR HAKOHEN (he says here’s what happened in Ashkenaz with this halakha)- THE MORDECHAI is some kind of Ashkenaz report (significant time where Ashkenaz and Sephard work together) so that’s what the Mordechai is.

There were glosses to the Mordechai- basis for more Ashkenaz stuff. SEMAK in Northern France.

This TOSFOS SHITA seems to take- if this isn’t what RITVA was thinking about, I apologize. We’ve got almost a halakhic category to put this into- TOSFOS SHITA are the words/ service of one of those HAGAHOS.

This is the Tosfos- there is no printed version. This little gloss in this text is attributed to the Tosfos Shita.

So to get it all straight- this is taken from the Tosfos Shita, mentioned in Hagahos Mamoniyos on The Mordechai.

Rabbi Kanarfogel thinks this Tosfos is what was cited by the RITVA and NEMUKEI YOSEF in the name of the TOSFOS ACHRONOS.

NEMUKEI YOSEF is R’ YOSEF CHAVIVI. After RITVA came the RAN and the NEMUKEI YOSEF. Basically next generation after RITVA in Spain.

You can’t say it’s an obligation like the Eved Canaani because if it’s really a status change, then you’d have to redo all the parts! If it’s NOT a status change, then why redo anything? From slavery to freedom step by step (second after idea of changing from a non-Jew to a convert to the Jewish religion) but will have you (the returning meshumad) do tevilah. Don’t think that he’s getting a geirus- he’s NOT becoming a geir. We put the meshumad into the mikvah for purposes of HEKEIRAH (recognition/ notice/ sign.)

So he’s made a parallel here:

1. Avdus to Cheirus
2. Meshumad to Yehudi

(Similar idea by re-accepting the Torah later on in terms of Kabbalat HaTorah.)

At moment, Eved Canaani is freed and makes kiddushin, kiddushin takes effect even BEFORE the Tevilah which shows that the Tevilah is not for anything else.

Likely to be TOSFOS SHITA product of so called CHACHMEI EUREX (R’ MOSHE AND R’ SHMAYA.) This Beis Midrash produces two types of Tosfos:

Tosfos in Kiddushin- some simply quote RASHI and add a little- those Tosfos came from Eurex. URBACH’S theory is that the CHACHMEI EUREX copied over RASHI in order to spread RASHI because they had to deal with the burning of the Talmud during their time. Anyway, there’s motive and opportunity for RITVA to specifically quote these Tosfos.

Finish up point on Tevilah itself- Tevilah stressed here and is regarded as mimicking the Tevilah of the Eved Canaani. And it is only there in terms of Hekeirah- recognition/ notice- going up a step for purposes of recognition. What conditions of Eved Canaani’s Tevilah apply to a Meshumad? This Tevilah is only a Rabbinic requirement.

What happened here? Ba’alei HaTosfos. They’ve compared Tevilah to that of the Tevilah of an Eved Canaai. The TOSFOS SHITA says it’s a paradigm for the meshumad.

1. analogue
2. change in status

Not only is the shita alive but it is actually being halakhized.

Some think Tevilah of Eved Canaani is D’Oraisa- if you’d hold that way, then can it be a model for the meshumad? NO.

pages 27- 28- Variant Tosfos. These are called TOSFOS MAHARAM and RABEINU PERETZ. Again it brings up tevilah for purposes of hekeirah- but here talking about Eved Canaani and says it is Rabbinic.

page 29- The RAMBAM- here the RAMBAM makes a doraisa out of this thing-

If the RAMBAM wants tevila during the day with 3 people there then that’s already tevilah d’oraisa (by Eved Canaani.)

Tosfos would say Tevila #1 accomplishes this for an Eved Canaani but RAMBAM is saying Tevilah #2 is even necessary.

Everybody agrees on two things:

1. First Tevilah of Eved Canaani requires acceptance of mitzvoth and a Beis Din

For Tosfos, the second Tevilah is a hekerah- for RAMBAM, it completes the process (another act of geirus/ conversion.)

MAGGID MISHNA brings up Tosfos here in terms of point of view that if an eved makes kiddushin before Tevilah it counts- Ramban compromises.

But we have heard shitos in Ashkenaz that require 3 people by Kabbala/ Acceptance but not by Tevilah (that was the RAVIYA.) Using RAMBAM to suggest what we already know- that the TOSFOS SHITA has halakhacized this idea of meshumad’s tevilah. Brings tevilah of meshumad very close to geirus.

Moment comparing to Eved Canaani calling it a STATUS CHANGE.

Nobody in Ashkenaz says Tevilah of Meshumad is doraisa- all think that it is drabanan. Except the RI would say it’s less than drabanan- it’s like a tikkun drabanan.

When does this idea jump over from Ashkenaz to Sefard?

RITVA and NEMUKEI YOSEF – picks up steam in Nothern France and Germany, gets conceptually transferred (we think)- the thing percolates- which came first- the popular custom or rabbinic rethinking (hard to tell). How do we understand what’s historically going on here?

RI writes in last quarter or so of 12th century. Late 12th century rash of support for this position. By him we get to the MAHARAM (almost casual for him- goes to becoming institutionalized.) So what is happening? Here’s where we get to the history of halakha.

Chazan makes an argument- Genaral world says Ashkenaz starts deteriorating in mid-13th century (trial of Talmud, serfs, King Louis 9th, expulsion in 1290) Chazan makes argument that things fell apart in the late 12th century- does point out chronicle by Ba’al HaTosfos named R’ Ephraim of Bam who writes a sefer called SEFER ZECHIRAH where recounts all these things- recounts anti-semitic incidents: 1 in Austria, 2 in Northern France, 1 in England, 1 Elsewhere.

Chazan says deep hatred now between Jews and Christians and Christians perceive Jews as their enemies. If that’s the case, stands to reason if somebody became a Christian before this period, he’s doing a terrible thing but now in ADDITION you’re really going over to the enemy because of what is going to become a war.

Therefore could it be that in addition to religious Teshuva (halakhic) since line being crossed is much bigger in terms of public perception, Rabbanim thought it best to formalize CONTRITION when people fully returned?

Letter by POPE INNOCENT III in 1201 where he writes to the ARCHBISHOP OF ARLES. The question is: who is considered a voluntary convert to Christianity? The Church is bothered that if forced, conversion might not be good. How do you make voluntary conversion cover forced converts? So the Pope says voluntary conversion refers even to those converts who were forced to convert in order to stay alive. Pope Innocent thought he was very smart- he solved the problem because now everything is voluntary- but now it means every Jewish apostate was considered a full-fledged willing Christian (might be speaking to the idea of getting read of zuhama per R’ from SHPIRA.) Now we have to give credence because not considered involuntary- now considered voluntary- so now the Rabbanim are saying, it’s not that we recognize baptism but THEY do. Question is to what extent (obviously all halakhic moves) what in historical surroundings may be playing in appropriately to what the posek does?

What is going on in society as a whole where Jews are the minority- when you’re in a majority society of different religion- what is going on around you- we agree that the person is certainly a Jew “af al pi shechata yisrael hu” – RASHI position doesn’t change in this period. This is the standard. Katz noted minor exceptions (Kohen- when he comes back, can he duchan? Or that you CAN lend money to a meshumad with ribis.) Whereas modern-day pileons.

What we’ve seen is that when confronted with Tevilah in the mekoros, Katz tended to see it as a popular development- where the people wanted this and the RAbbanim didn’t say much. Interestingly, Katz knows about the NEMUKEI YOSEF and RITVA- didn’t make an impression on him- that one (which in some ways more suggestive) by itself not much impact.

We’ve shown in terms of Tevilah that it is not only Rabinically supported but Rabbinically mandated. It is either

1. Reset/ Deterrant of some point
2. Breaking chazakah of way treated
3. Tikunim/ Kapparah

There are other shitos-RITZBA and others- who hold that Tevilah is absolutely NOT required. In fact just noticed in TESHUVOS RIV an Italian Ba’al HaTosfos who sounds just like RASHI- point is that there’s no such shita but there IS a strong shita that requires the Tevilah- gap should be growing.

Theory may or may not hold to point- now what we started to do is external factors here. Nobody thinks Rabbanim just changed as it were- having said that, to have most awareness of what goes on around as a posek is necessary.

Chazan- have evidence that Jews more hurt by all those pogroms than not- so the 1196 events in some ways more awakening in terms of not just human emotion but what Christianity is doing to Judaism in this period. There’s this ENEMY status that Chazan focuses on- First Crusade was originally called not to harm Jews per se- he said go and rescue the holy land from infidels.

Today’s time if someone becomes a meshumad it’s a personal/ religious tragedy- but during that time it is truly like harming others because conversion to Christianity is pretty much an act of betrayal. From RASHI’S position- why not requiring the meshumad to jump through too many hoops? Once Innocent III says what he says, to make argument that symbolically it’s nothing doesn’t work- they’re saying that it’s valid and voluntary conversion. Tevilah is a way of reversing, as it were, the most effective of their baptisms (picks up on zuhama aspect)- makes conversion such a celebrated thing- so when you come back, you come back fully. It’s like fighting fire with fire. Also fits the whole hekera idea- some kind of noticeable thing/ recognition.

RISHONIM are going for the knockout punch. ACHRONIM see more possibilities.

Midieval rationalism as opposed to modern skepticism- approach someone takes.

Virtually all of these shitos except maybe one are extremes- NONE of them say without this Tevilah, this person is not a Jew.

So the inside Halakhic message: They don’t need anything (to return)
Outside Halakhic message: We want the returnee to take more halakhic responsibility

Strongly assume no bracha made on the Tevilah- very careful- not against by putting on tevilah- they could have been MUCH harsher- even R’ ELAZAR OF WORMS is comparatively calm- they could have been much harsher on the meshumad- now they just say tevilah. Tevilah, even if it’s in the worst case, not particularly painful, public or arduous in the physical sense. They could have made up much more humiliating requirements.

Nobody really thinks you have to undo anything (baptism.)

So when did we STOP requiring these things- start as option. Today conversion to Christianity- maybe some Jews would convert to Christianity but religion today not thought of as it used to be in terms of a holy war. What Yerushalmi and Shatzmiller found makes good sense- not making it up.

TERUMAS HADESHEN- minhag avoseinu Torah hi- The more stringent position (RAVIYA) seems to have become the norm (quasi-halakhacizes this)

Chalitza case is a stronger exception- if we find a number of RISHONIM holding women (where meshumad is brother-in-law) as doesn’t need Chalitzah- there is greater good (maybe he said harm?) in RASHI’s view in that case because then we consider the Meshumad a Jew still. Part of this is seeing more RISHONEI ASHKENAZ thinking a little less of these meshumadim.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Source Challenge

Okay, a couple of quick points:

1. [minor Heroes spoilers here] The word "effing" is overused. On this blog, we shall make use of the words a-ing, b-ing, c-ing and so forth. The next person to tell me this is the worst effing day of their life is going to get hurt. And while we're at it, someone please slap Hiro Nakamura for me. The kiss that fractured time? Are you kidding me? Sappy sentimental junk infringing upon the glorious "You'll be damned to hell"- gunshot- "I know."

2. I have a source challenge for all of you. I need sources that state that it is completely okay to be angry at God. The more the merrier and points if it's somehow halakhically oriented.

3. I once learned that God does not command emotions and therefore every expression of feeling in the Torah can be understood in halakhic (that is financial or monetary) terms. So when it says "V'ahavta eis Hashem elokecha," there is no true command to feel an emotion, but rather to serve God through the specific ways later delineated- through one's money, one's possessions and the like. So too, when it says to love the convert, this means not hurting the convert through various ways (again, clearly delineated elsewhere in terms of actions, not emotions.) Has anyone else heard of this approach and if you have, what is the source? I don't remember it and I need it.

In other news, I have recently been termed a Litvak, someone's hero and informed that I am a lower junior. Today's been peculiar.

On to attend to the drastically mounting homework!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yair's List of Torah Links

This is from my amazing friend Yair.

Disclaimer: I'm by no means a certified rabbi or scholar. I simply like to compile useful information from the web into one lump.

That being said, many of us find ourselves at various times during our lives in dire need of a sefer, but may not/cannot/are too lazy to find an actual hard copy of it. Luckily, the Internet has more than we think it does. The following is just a sample (I'm sure) of the amount available online. Don't fret if, at first, it seems too much to handle. Just play around with it a bit and hopefully everything should be fine. All of the links (and most if not all of the links within each site) are working, as of 10/29/07.

Practically Everything (Yair's personal favorite)

Halacha Brura and Birur Halacha Institute

All Your Basic Hebrew Text Needs

M'Ager Sifrot Kodesh
Soncino Talmud (most tractates)
Mechon Mamre
Internet Sacred Text Archive

Various Sefarim

Seforim Online (Lots of philosophical/ scientific stuff)
Hebrew Books (specializes in 20th century American journals)
Teach it to Me (downloadable sefarim)
Tsel Harim (Free Torah library)
JNUL Library (You may need to download the DjVu plug-in to view certain files)

Other/ Miscellaneous

Bar-Ilan Responsa Database (You might need a subscription form, in which case log in from one of YU's campuses)
Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon
Database Query to Semitic Etymology
Chronological Timeline of Kings
Ancient Maps of Jerusalem
Mekhilta Database
Tosefta Database
Megillas Ta'anis
More than any Kabbalah Sefer you can possibly think of
A great Mishna Berura source
Lubavitch Library
Lots of Machshava
The Complete Jastrow
Great Hebrew-English Dictionary
Specifically Ben-Ish Chai
Rambam's List of 613 Mitzvot
Over 1000 Links of Torah
A Biographical Study of Rabbi M.M. of Kotzk

Enjoy! Thank you, Yair!

NCSY! Up for Discussion

Psychotoddler started it, Ezzie ran with it and now Westbankmama has an interesting survey up.

I have several questions for the college contingent (especially for advisors/ alumni.)

How did you become involved in NCSY?
Why are you/ were you an advisor?
How do you think being an advisor benefits the NCSYers?
How does it benefit you?
What's the most meaningful experience you have had with NCSY?

It would be great if this could turn into a discussion between advisors and/or people who know others who have been through the program or part of the program. It would be really interesting to get your feedback. It'd be especially interesting if you could identify which chapter you were part of and explain how it worked (as opposed to other regions, for instance.) I'd love to hear any anecdotes, stories or constructive criticism alumni or advisors have- as long as it is done in a respectful manner.

Thanks, I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

If You Were Made Completely of One Substance...

I had a particularly interesting Shabbat and one of the best parts of it was the statement, "So and So is made of Plastic." The idea was to connote the person's character traits and qualities through that statement. So plastic has all kinds of connotations- plastic can be flexible, transparent, rigid or unyielding depending on how it is made.

Hence the question: If you were made completely of one substance, what would it be?

The substance has to accurately describe you to some extent- it has to relate to your personality and character traits.

Anyway, when I asked my friend what I would be, he said "You'd be made of sparkles!" So it'd be either that, for me, or crystal. Crystal reflects and refracts light, throws off rainbows, is fragile and delicate and easily breakable but you can still make pretty things out of it.

So Chana is made of crystal.

What are you made of?

only a girl

but she’s only a girl in a red-black tanktop
singing her soul down the organ pipe tubes
watching it whirl in the laundry chute
cough up exhaust in the glow of a car
and come out tomorrow dripping in rain

walking her voice up the coffee-pot drainer
swirling it through the dishwater scum
dancing it through a plastic retainer
smothered by butter in a breakfast run

weaving it softly across broken looms
of silver-white forges and forgotten dreams
wasting away in nightmare sequences
of darkening music and late-night screams

diving through pools of spilled coffee streamers
making their way across glass tablelight
reflecting the noon off the windows and seeming
somehow to hasten the coming of night

she’s only a girl in a red-black tanktop
singing her soul down the coiling black stove
sparking its heated red flames into action
bubbling gaily within heated chrome

turning the water from liquid to vapor

single tear trickles down silvery spout

Good Morning Sun

You've all heard of the book Goodnight Moon and its beautiful poem.

It seems to me that there ought to be a book entitled Good Morning Sun.

It's not quite the same and yet I think it would be beautiful to awake in the morning and to greet all the objects in one's room.

In the little dorm room
There was a cell-phone
And a blue balloon
And a picture of—

A woman with a golden spoon

And there were three tired girls combing out curls

And a box of dishes
And forgotten wishes

And some toiletries
And a pair of skinned knees

And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of dust

And a tired teenager who said “No, I must—“

Good morning room
Good morning sun

Good morning woman with a golden spoon

Good morning light
and the blue balloon

Good morning girls
Good morning curls

Good morning dishes
Good morning wishes

Good morning toiletries
And good morning skinned knees

Good morning notebooks
And dazed sleepy looks

Good morning dorm
And the daily norm

Good morning comb
And good morning brush

Good morning teenager who is saying “I must—“

Good morning clouds
Good morning air

Good morning noises everywhere

Friday, October 26, 2007


Every so often I have nightmares that are simply flashbacks of situations I have been in before. I dreamt of such a situation last night; it involved myself, my friend, my teacher and the classroom. This is something that really happened.

My teacher was teaching us Navi and had somehow taken a pasuk that suggested that God desires us to be happy and had decided to shoehorn her own interpretation into the words. She stated that Jews are "not allowed" to become depressed. She stated that depression wasn't so much an illness as an attitude. She then continued on to say that Jews should try not to see doctors (she seemed not to put much stock in psychologists and the like.) Of course this turned into a shouting match between myself and a few other students as we tried to explain how wrong all of this was. Some of you may remember...

One of the students in the class had a father who is a neurologist. He knows full well that depression can be an illness caused by imbalances in certain chemicals of the brain, and apparently he told this over to the teacher…rather forcefully, I believe. The teacher came back to class the next day, contrite, and attempted to explain herself away, stating- “Of course depression can be an illness; what I meant was that if you stub your toe, you shouldn’t be sad and depressed about something like that, you shouldn’t allow it to ruin your day, etc.” But that was obviously not what she had meant when she first explained it.

I woke up this morning and thought about the people I know who are truly depressed and then went on to think of what this woman had said. And I was angry, even though it was a dream and happened years ago. But I wonder how prevalent this attitude is in the Orthodox world...this thought that if people could simply will themselves to be better, they would be better. It is so cruel to other people to believe that- to make an illness someone's fault. And if you need Jewish sources for illness and depression, surely it is easy to bring up Saul's melancholia which I believe the Rambam mentions...

If you truly loved your people, how could you do this? How could you simply look away and claim that they ought to somehow become better in and of themselves, that if they only wanted to be better they would be? Aren't there homosexuals who would like to be straight- and are they? What if I suddenly wanted to grow wings and fly- could I? There are some times where wanting isn't enough! I do not say that every case is the same- of course it cannot be. But how could someone assert that depression is an attitude, not an illness; how could someone suggest that God forbids depression and that in addition to everything else, this is a sin?

I have heard the oft-quoted phrase "God doesn't give you what you cannot handle." What people rarely realize is that this is a Christian philosophy, not a Jewish one!

"No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. "

~Corinthians 10: 13

I wonder if there is a Jewish source for the phrase. I'd rather there weren't...I've heard the words Gam zu l'tova or Gam zeh y'avor but that is hardly the attitude or philosophy for every moment of one's life- there are some things that should not be accepted and that should not be borne, where one must cry out against them and fight with God rather than accept them.

"Judaism, in contradistinction to mystical quietism, which recommended toleration of pain, wants man to cry out aloud against any kind of pain, to react indignantly to all kinds of injustice or unfairness. For Judaism held that the individual who displays indifference to pain and suffering, who meekly reconciles himself to the ugly, disproportionate and unjust in life, is not capable of appreciating beauty and goodness. Whoever permits his legitimate needs to go unsatisfied will never be sympathetic to the crying needs of others. A human morality based on love and friendship, on sharing in the travail of others, cannot be practiced if the person's own need-awareness is dull and he does not know what suffering is. Hence Judaism rejected models of existence which deny human need, such as the angelic or the monastic. For Judaism, need-awareness constitutes part of the definition of human existence. Need-awareness turns into a passional experience, into a suffering awareness. Dolorem ferre ergo sum- I suffer, therefore I am.- to paraphrase Descartes' cogito ergo sum. While the Cartesian cogito would also apply to an angel or even to the devil, our inference is limited to man: neither angel nor devil know suffering.

Therefore, prayer in Judaism, unlike the prayer of classical mysticism, is bound up with the human needs, wants, drives and urges, which make man suffer. Prayer is the doctrine of human needs. Prayer tells the individual , as well as the community, what his, or its, genuine needs are, what he should, or should not, petition God about........Prayer and tzara are inseperably linked. Who prays? Only the sufferer prays. If man does not find himself in narrow straits, if he is not troubled by anything, if he knows not what tzara is, then he need not pray. To a happy man, to contented man, the secret of prayer was not revealed. God needs neither thanks nor hymns. He wants to hear the outcry of man, confronted with a ruthless reality. He expects prayer to rise from a suffering world cognizant of its genuine needs. In short, through prayer man finds himself. Prayer enlightens man about his needs. It tells man the story of his hidden hopes and expectations. It teaches him how to behold the vision and how to strive in order to realize this vision, when to be satisfied with what one possesses, when to reach out for more. In a word, man finds his need-awareness, himself, in prayer. Of course, the very instant he finds himself, he becomes a redeemed being."

-Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

To live in a world of countless shades of grey, where there is no motive or desire or pleasure to be found in all the beauty that is granted us, to feel nothing and to have no energy to engage in any kind of meaningful activity; surely this is not what God wanted for you, for me or for anyone! And to claim it does not exist or make it someone else's fault is to completely fail in terms of your duty as another person, another person who loves his fellow Jew- instead we must acknowledge the presence of illness and fight it and offer to help in whatever way we can, in whichever way is possible. There are wonderful people in our world and it is our job to help, love and support them. We cannot do that if we pretend them away, hide them in dark corners to hide the fact that we ourselves are ashamed or close our minds so as not to understand.

Oh, I am guilty of all this as well so do not think I absolve myself of blame- but I am at least aware of the times I have not wanted to hear and know that I have to try harder. Because it is people who matter, above all other things...sometimes even above God.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It appears I misheard President Joel (thanks to my friend for correcting me!) and even better, when I checked my notes, I see that he actually said "A leader is someone who takes responsiblity" and then went into the Sarah as a Matriarch example, the three blessings she brought to the house, and the different forms of leadership. So that's completely my fault and I'm sorry for suggesting that he said a leader is only someone who takes responsibility, because that was my own misconstruing of what he said.

I think what defines a leader is not only his sense of vision but his actions to bring about that vision. This is something that I had to learn, and it's something my friend used to say to me quite frequently, namely, "Stop whining." If you don't like something, if you feel that something is wrong- complaining about it isn't the way to go. You have to figure out how to change it. And you have to use whatever tools are at your disposal. If you're a college student, perhaps you use publications and the college newspaper, because those are the tools you have at your disposal. Perhaps you're involved in a club on-campus that allows you a venue for your voice. Whatever it is you do, you act. You practice what you preach. You are a role model and an example.

A leader is someone who takes charge of a situation. If something untenable is going on, if there is a disorganized mass of people in front of you, a leader is someone who is able to organize them and get them under control, usually on account of his charismatic personality and whatever skills he has going for them (perhaps his eloquence, perhaps his honesty, his character...whatever he has, he uses it to the best effect.) A leader is someone whom others look up to, rightly or wrongly. They idolize him, worship him, believe in the power of the vision which he espouses, the pictures he paints of the world that could be. Who was Hitler? A brilliant leader. His candlelit parades, his fiercely eloquent speeches all painted a picture of the way the world could be, revived dying German nationalism and gave all those people a specific way in which they could act in order to bring about this redemption and implement his vision of the world. So a leader also assigns parts, gives out roles. It is his job to make his followers feel important, make them feel like they are giving back- to him, to his country, it doesn't matter to whom. It is his job for his followers to either fall in love with him or fear him.

A leader has excellent interpersonal skills. He gets on very well with people, often because he has the ability to be charming. When he looks at a person, the person feels like he has been validated and his existence is a necessary one. The leader is an excellent manipulator. He is able to arrange people and play with them, using each one for their specific skills and the way they can add to the cause, the way they can help him implement his vision for the world. He is often able to do this in such a way that the people think they volunteered themselves and their skills on their own and don't even realize they are being manipulated.

It is my personal belief that a leader, if he is a good one, hates many of the things he has to do and dislikes the fact that so many people depend upon him. He does not like tricking people, misleading them, making decisions for them. At the same time he knows that if he does not do this, someone else will come along to replace him, and perhaps they will not have the same good intentions. Better he than they. It is also my belief that leaders don't necessarily strive for power. They are appointed by others; people flock to them without their asking. People assume that they can fix things; they tell over their problems and assume the leader has the answers.

Adina Schwartz recently wrote an article in which she claimed that her English teacher was a leader. You will forgive me, because I do not know the English teacher in question, but I highly doubt that she would qualify as a leader in the sense of the word in which I mean it. It needs to be understood that simply because you wish to praise a person does not mean you can give them qualities they do not possess (unless you are doing this deliberately and for a very specific purpose.) A teacher may be an excellent teacher. She may be nurturing, a true guide and educator, someone who helps her students grow. But the classroom setting does not allow for the teacher to be a leader, since she is not implementing her sense of vision. It is precisely in the classroom that a teacher must be most attuned to her students and to what they wish to say, to their points of view and help them to grow. Here she is neither leading nor following; here she is guiding. This is yet a different skill.

It is also very important to distinguish between someone in a leadership position as opposed to someone who is truly a leader. This is something that was made very clear to me in Templars. Simply because someone is in a leadership position, whether they be a Rabbi, a Principal or the leader of a community or presidential board...does not make them a leader. There are many unfit and incompetent people placed in these positions, people who do not have the requisite interpersonal skills, have no understanding of how to smoothly interact with, placate, run and negotiate with others. The title does not make the leader. A true leader knows he is a leader and does not need anyone else to tell him so. He knows because, or at least this is what I believe, he would give anything not to be in this position- at least until he accepts it is inevitable and then decides to run with it.

Why would people not wish to be leaders? Because not everything is about glory, honor, prestige and winning. The people who are still pursuing these fleeting dreams are often not the ones who deserve them. People who are truly leaders understand the kind of position they have acquired. It is one where they must be very careful of their followers' feelings, where their every action counts, where their words take on meanings they did not intend and they are expected to be attentive, considerate and aware every moment of the day. Rightly or wrongly, they are suddenly made responsible for many of their followers' problems and assigned "Fix-It" status. The leader is supposed to know how to fix all situations. People trust him and assuming he is a good person- and not someone simply aiming for a political reality that involves abusing that trust- that scares him to death. Who wants to deal with other people's trust? Who wants to worry about their ability to hurt other people? Nobody needs this. But that's how it goes.

So you can fight it and claim you aren't a leader and that nobody ought to follow you, you don't want people to listen to you, you don't want them to respect you; you wish that they would all go away and leave you alone. You can do all this but deep down you know that it doesn't matter and that you cannot deny what you are. The only thing you can do is accept that this is your nature and your personality and move on from there. In this case, it is now upon you to do the best with all the qualities and techniques you have been given and to make sure that you implement your vision successfully.

Are leaders born or are they made? I'm conflicted on this issue. I used to think that leaders were born, that they had certain latent abilities that simply showed themselves as they grew older. But I am beginning to think that leaders are made, that certain situations forge leaders, just as metal must be tempered by fire. Leaders are inevitably people who have undergone some soul-changing experience, who have lived lives that allow them to connect with the people around them, that have most importantly given them the sense that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed and that there is no one who can do it but them. Leaders are people of vision and in order to be a visionary you must believe firstly, that there is a better future and a better way, and secondly, that there is a method in which you can truly actualize and implement this better future. Leaders are people who deeply believe in what they stand for, who embody it in their actions, who figure out ways to accomplish their goals and who sweep people up in their goals simply by the force of their personality and presence.

I do not know many leaders. I can count the number of leaders I know on one hand. I know many good people; I know excellent speakers, guides, teachers, students, friends. But I do not think they are all leaders and I think the assumption that leadership can be taught or somehow acquired is ludicrous. There are certain people who rise to certain challenges and others who inevitably fail. All you can do is expose people to these situations and see how things work themselves out. But to suggest that there is some program you can undergo and that will immediately transform you into a leader? Impossible. That having been said, there are certainly workshops that can develop one's leadership skills, that can help a person become more secure and confident in the areas of public speaking, writing and so on and so forth. This hardly makes the person a leader, however.

A leader has a vision, a clear goal, a group of people who wish to help him (often without any tangible reward) and a process for getting to his goal. One cannot simply set himself up as a leader, stand on 5th Avenue garbed in white and boom out "I am a leader! Follow me." He is appointed as leader, chosen by the people. It is they who see him and watch him demonstrate integrity, who judge him and decide he is worthy of being followed. History and opportunity may determine how successful he will be. But overall, a leader is someone who was born with certain natural abilities that lie latent until he is tested (either because of the historical/ social situation of the time or something more personal), at which time these abilities emerge, are sharpened and honed. Given the proper opportunity, this person will then become significant in terms of his community or the world at large.

A leader is far more than a person who accepts responsibility. As adults, we all must accept responsibility- the only variant is the degree of responsibility we accept. A leader is chosen. He is chosen because he has been tested, has survived his test and developed his natural abilities, has been given the appropriate opportunity and now is in a position to implement his vision of the world.

I have never desired to be a leader- there is nothing in the world that could be scarier than being a leader. To make decisions for people? To have others look up to you, desire to follow you? To have to figure out a way to implement your vision of the world- and to have others willing to follow you? Who wants to have to deal with all this?

But sometimes it is as Dumbledore says, "It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well. "

The important thing for everyone to understand is that being a leader is not something to be prized. It is not a glorious, wonderful, exciting occupation. It is not something that people generally want to do. It is a situation which is stressful, upsetting, worrisome, in the most extreme situations, a job which takes years off your life. Generally, one does not choose to become a leader. One is appointed as leader. It is thrust upon you; you are forced to respond to the call of others. And you will, because you care about other people. But it isn't this lackadaisical "Let me put this on my resume- I'm a student leader!" position that people seem to think. No, it is one of the most serious positions one can hold- where one's every action counts and one must measure one's every word. There is a reason that Moses fought with God and did not wish to become a leader.


English class was a party today.

I love winning. :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Biblical Character

God, I love the idiocy I get to experience every day! Lately I have been informed I do not possess some special sort of "sensitivity" because I am completely willing to speak (and have done so) in front of mixed audiences. A girl making a speech- or giving a Dvar Torah over- in front of guys? Heaven forfend! Apparently this is innately- what? Suggestive? Seductive? Oh, get over yourselves!

Moving onward- here's a fun question for all of you.

Which biblical character do you feel you are most like?
Which biblical character would you marry?
Which biblical character would you want on your team (or on your side, during a war?)
Which biblical character would you want to be close friends with?
Which biblical character do you think would make an excellent Disney villain?

And of course, please give the reason why for all of those questions.

Props if you guess as to my answers (i.e. which biblical character I think I am most like, etc.)

In any case, quite curious to see what you say!