Volume 19 Number 27
                       Produced: Mon Apr 10  1:46:40 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

giving of Tora & free will
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Nadav and Avihu
         [Stan Tenen]
Sources for "Saveri Maranan" in Kidush
         ["Hershler, Ariel"]


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 1995 13:33:00 -0500
Subject: Re: giving of Tora & free will

Sam Fink asked why Nadav & Avihu didn't simply look at Parshat Shmini to
see that they were going to die.

The same can be asked of Korach, and Moshe & Aharon as well, along with
the entire nation & the spies.

Obviously, there is a wrong assumption being taken here.  When Moshe
received the Torah, he received the mitzvot.  Nothing is said about his
being told the history of the nation until the end of the period of the

There is a disagreement in the g'mara as to how the actual text of the
Torah was given to Moshe, was it piece by piece ( m'gilla - m'gilla ) or
all at once ( chatuma ).  I think that the opinion that says he got it
all at once assumes that this was at the end of the 40 years, in which
case no one seems to say that Moshe, or anyone else for that matter, had
advanced notice of future events.

Eliyahu Teitz


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 1995 08:59:00 -0800
Subject: Nadav and Avihu

In m-j 19 #7, Sam Fink asks why Moshe did not intervene, if, just after 
receiving Torah, he must have known what Nadav and Avihu would do? (I am 
paraphrasing broadly.) And he asks: "...--after the giving of Torah, was 
there any free will left, or did the Jews simply 'follow the script?'" 

As many here know, I do not have a Yeshiva education, so my 
understanding of this issue is not from a traditional perspective, but 
from a scientific perspective.  (But, while this response is independent 
of traditional teachings, I want to be clear that I strongly support 
what our sages teach on this issue; I am sure that others can state our 
sages' views better than I; and I assume that like many issues in 
Judaism, there are dissenting opinions.)

My study of the topological relationships at the beginning of B'Reshit 
lead me to give strong credence to the kabbalistic view.  Namely, that 
when the Torah was given, it consisted of sequences of unvowelized 
letters that were not broken up into words or verses.  Only after an 
event that was to be part of the Pshat (narrative) level of Torah 
actually took place did it become clear how the letters were to be 
separated into the normal phonetic-language words of the narrative.  
This is consistent with our understanding that the Written Torah 
requires the Oral Torah for proper understanding. 

So, in my technical understanding, the Written Torah that Moshe had 
before Nadav and Avihu acted was not understandable as narrative 
language.  It was the letter-by-letter record of the feeling experience 
that Moshe was given on Horeb Sinai.   We know that the language was not 
ordinary when it was given, from several sources.  For example, the 
message was "synesthesic" - sounds and sights were mixed.  This is not a 
description of the presentation of a Heavenly Narrative in ordinary 
phonetic language.  In my technical opinion, this is the description of 
an event in consciousness - that is not yet formed in 
physical/historical reality in ordinary time.

There has been some discussion here about the languages known and used 
at the time of Moshe.  In my technical opinion, it is not implausible 
that Torah Hebrew was not spoken at that time.  Instead, very similar 
phonetic languages were used locally and for commercial purposes, and 
Torah Hebrew was reserved for Torah only.  In my technical opinion, and 
based on my research into the letter sequences in B'Reshit and the 
origin of the Meruba letters, I think it is likely that the first 
Written Torah could not be understood at the Pshat (narrative) level in 
its entirety.  Only the history that had already occurred could be read 
as a narrative with an accepted Pshat-level meaning.  Beyond the current 
date, the first Written Torah was more likely understood as similar to a 
letter-by-letter "map" of the sequence of "meditative/prophetic" feeling 
experiences that HaShem "projected" to Moshe. 

In my technical opinion, this is the true source and meaning to the 
equal interval letter skip patterns presented by the Aish/Discovery 
Seminars and for the knotted topology of the letter patterns that I 

So, there is no loss of free will after the giving of the Written Torah.  
Torah does not restrict free will and it cannot tell us what we will do 
before we do it.  

It is interesting to note in this regard, that the letter skip patterns 
that seem to predict the names of sages or historical events intertwined 
with the appropriate dates are NOT statistically significant.  (The 
patterns are there, but they cannot be shown to have an a priori meaning 
and they cannot be shown to have been predictive.)  The only equal 
interval letter skip patterns that are statistically indisputable, are 
not adequately explained by their discoverers and they do not predict 

With all due respect, Prof. Gans is wrong when he invokes the 
Uncertainty Principle, Godel, etc., to explain the predictive patterns.  
They do not need any explanation because they are not statistically 
meaningful, and because alternative, non-predictive, explanations have 
not been explored..

In my technical opinion, we most certainly do have free will and Torah 
most certainly cannot be used to tell us what will happen or what an 
individual will do before they do it.  In my opinion, that approaches 
dangerously close to superstition or idolatry.

I believe that we all need to become more familiar with these difficult 
issues.  We need intellectually honest, Popperian refutable, 
independently repeatable study that goes well beyond the investigative 
tools of mathematics (including statistics and topology), if we are 
going to truly understand and appreciate the Torah view of these 

Stan Tenen


From: "Hershler, Ariel" <ahershle@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 95 11:06:03 
Subject: Sources for "Saveri Maranan" in Kidush

In response to an earlier posting of mine, Nataniel Leserowitz asked in
MJ 18, 91 as to the sources of the words "Saveri Maranan veRabanan
veRabotai" (= "Attention, teachers and wise men, my rabbis") and of my
custom to include my parents in these words, which are said before
saying the beracha (= blessing) over wine during the Kidush
(= sanctification of holy days).  I apologize up front if this posting is
not "concise"; it is indeed quite long!  Also, please note that I bring
these opinions only to "widen our horizon" and am not trying to make a
"psak halacha" (= halachic decision).  In any case, if someone wants a
"psak halacha" on this or any other matter, his/her LOR is the
appropriate address.

The word "Saveri" literally means "what is your opinion". It is found in
this original sense in the Midrash Tanhuma on parshat Pekudei. The
Midrash tells us there about the way witnesses were questioned (the
translations are mine). "[At] the time that witnesses are questioned
about a transgression that someone has done, the Sanhedrin and all of
Israel go out to the street of the city, and bring out there the man who
is guilty and has to be stoned or get one of the four capital
punishments of the law, and take two of them or three who are greater of
them and ask for witnesses. And when returning from questioning, he says
to them: 'Savere Maranan' - What is your opinion? And they say, if to
life, 'leHayim' - to life, and if to death, 'lemavet' - to death."

Immediately following this story in the Midrash Tanhuma is the use of
the words "Savere Maranan" when making the beracha over wine. In the
words of the Midrash: "And so also the Shaliach Tsibur (= cantor) when
he has a cup of Kidush or Havdala (= literally "division"; blessing said
over wine at the end of holy days) in his hand and he fears of the
death-drug that it will not be in the cup, and he says 'Savere Maranan',
and the congregration says 'leHayim' - to life, as to say that the cup
will be to life".

It is this second use of the words "Saveri Maranan" which are later
mentioned in Tosafot on the Gemara (Babylonian Talmud) in Masechet
Berachot, 43a, in an article starting with "ho'il". To understand this,
we have to understand first what the Gemara is talking about here. The
Gemara is discussing the last sentence of the preceding Mishna, stating
"'Ba lahem yajin' - [If] wine is brought to them during their meal, each
one makes the beracha for himself, [but if the wine is brought] after
the meal, one makes the beracha for all of them".  The Gemara says on
this: "'Sha'alu Ben Zoma' - it was asked of Ben Zoma, why does it say
'Wine is brought to them during their meal, each one makes the beracha
for himself, [but if the wine is brought] after the meal, one makes the
beracha for all of them' ? He answered 'ho'il' - this is because the
mouth is not empty.

The Tosafot now, explains this answer of Ben Zoma: "'veyesh mefarshin' -
there are those who explain: when he says 'Saveri Morai' - Attention my
teachers, they stop eating so they can listen to the beracha and answer
Amen, so that they will be free [of making the beracha for themselves]".
The Tosafot continues to bring opinions who disagree with this.

The Rosh, on this piece of Gemara, also brings this opinion, and says:
"'she'im hamevarech' - if the one who is saying the beracha is saying
'Saveri Rabotai' - Attention my rabbis, and they empty their mouths so
that they can hear, it is as good [as saying the beracha each for
themselves].  But this is maybe not such a good opinion, since they can
hear anyway even though they are eating, and they will have done their
duty [of saying the beracha or listening to it] and therefore it looks
like the reason is as it says in the Yerushalmi (the Jerusalem Talmud)
because they can't answer Amen, since we don't speak during the meal,
for fear that food will go into the air pipe." And the Rosh brings here
the discussion of the Yerushalmi where it is stated that you are not
allowed to say "Asuta" (= "Gesundheit") to someone who sneezes during
the meal, for this reason.  It says there: "'En Mesichin' - One does not
talk during the meal, to avoid choking."

The Rambam (Maimonides) however, did not bring this opinion at all in
his discussion of the case when wine is brought in during the meal.  In
Hilchot Berachot, Perek 7, paragraph 6: "[We] do not talk during the
meal. Therefore, if wine is brought during the meal, each and every one
makes the beracha for himself. Because if one were to make the beracha
and the other[s] would say Amen while their mouth is filled, they could
come to danger."

The Haga'ot Maimoni'ot says with respect to this decision of the Rambam
(in paragraph 9): "In the prayer books it is written that if he says
'Saveri Morai' - Attention my teachers, and they stop eating and listen
to the beracha, all fulfill their obligation with the beracha of the
one, and my teacher the Rambam doesn't think this opinion to be right,
since Chazal [very clearly] decided that every one makes the beracha for
himself, and this shouldn't be changed, and even so most do according to
what is stated in the prayer books."

The Kol Bo, at the beginning of Hilchot Birkat Hamazon, also brings the
words "Saveri Mori".

The Tur, in Siman 174, brings "Saveri Maranan".

The Beth Yosef (rav Yosef Karo), in Siman 167, writes in the name of the
Shibole haLeket who learned from Rabenu Hai: "'Ze haklal' - This is the
rule; one says 'saveri' only over wine and one says 'birshut' (="with
permission) only over bread. What is the reason?  Bread is optional,
since if he doesn't want to eat bread, he has permission [to do so],
therefore he asks for permission so that all will agree with him [to eat
bread]. But Birkat haMazon (= Grace after meals) and Kidush and Havdala
are mandatory, he doesn't have to ask for permission but [just] says
'Saveri Morai', since the wine can cause someone to become drunk, for
fear [of this] he says so and they answer 'lehayim'".

In the Shulchan Aruch (which was written by Rav Yosef Karo as well)
Siman 174, paragraph 8, it says only that "on wine which is within the
meal, each one makes the beracha for himself, even if they lean
together." The Rema inserts the words "since they can't answer Amen",
whereupon the Shulchan Aruch continues: "since we are afraid that some
food will enter the air pipe [and cause choking]".

The Rema brings immediately after this the second opinion: "'veyesh
omrim' - there are those who say that if he says to them 'Saveri
Rabotai' and they listen and their intention is on the beracha and they
will not eat during [the beracha], and they answer Amen, one can say the
beracha for all of them, and this is the custom. And he says 'Saveri
Rabotai' which means 'Are you of the opinion to fulfill your obligation
with this beracha' and he should not say 'Birshut Rabotai' - with your

The Otzar Dinim Uminhagim brings the opinion that the words "Saveri
Rabanan veRabotai" are said during the Kidush over wine, but if the
Kidush is made over bread (if he doesn't have wine) he should say
"Birshut Meranan veRabotai", and if he sits at a table with his father
he should say "Birshut Avi Mori veRabotai" (= "with permission [from] my
father and teacher and my rabbis").

In the Sidur Shira Chadasha (Eshkol Press), the Kidush is indeed printed
with a dividing line in the middle: it states that over wine, the words
"Saveri Maranan veRabanan veRabotai" are to be used immediately prior to
the actual beracha over wine, and if the Kidush is said over bread, the
words "Birshut Maranan veRabanan veRabotai" are used before the beracha
over the bread.

The Sidur Rinat Yisrael transcribes the word "Saveri" with the Hebrew
word "Hakshivu", which literally means "listen!", but is also used in
the sense of "attention". Indeed, in the Israeli army, when soldiers are
called to attention, the term used is "hakshev".

The Sidur Minchat Yerushalayim Kol Bo Hashalem, which has a lot of
explanations etc., brings most of the aforementioned sources, and some

>From the above it can be seen that the words "Saveri ..."  were used to
call attention to the fact that a beracha was about to be said to which
all the participants in the meal were to answer Amen in order for them
to fulfill their obligation. According to some sources, the "Saveri" was
to saveguard against accidents when people would have a full mouth and
tried to say Amen. We can see that each source is using different
honorifics for the participants: teachers, rabbis, wise men, father and

As we saw from the Otzar Dinim Uminhagim, if someone is making Kidush in
front of his father, he should say "Saveri Avi Mori". Since women also
need to hear and/or say Kidush, (and we would certainly not want mother
to say Amen with a filled mouth!), there is no reason not to mention
"Imi Morati" (= "My mother and teacher") in case we make Kidush in front
of her.

The interesting part is that the words "Saveri Maranan" were originally
proposed to be used when drinking wine within the meal. As we saw, the
Mishna stated that in such a case, each one should make his own beracha,
and to make it possible for one person to make the beracha and others to
fulfill their obligation by hearing his beracha, the words "Saveri
Maranan" were proposed by Tosafot, the Rosh, and many of the other
poskim (most of whom I quoted above).  Only the Midrash Tanhuma speaks
about the case of Kidush (before the meal, or maybe even in Shul).  Also
the Haga'ot Maimoni'ot, when speaking about the prayer books stating the
custom of saying "Saveri Maranan" may actually have meant to refer to
Kidush, since most prayer books bring Kidush, but only very few bring
the case of wine within the meal explicitly.

Now, according to another halachic principle, whenever we honor a
yisrael, and a kohen is also present, we should first mention the
kohen. From this comes the reason to say "Saveri Kohen Maranan ...".  We
mention the kohen first, before we mention the other categories of
people, except father and mother, since kibud av/em is a higher
obligation (see Hilchot Kibud Av ve'Em in Shulchan Aruch).

Wishing all the MJ people a Pesah Kasher veSame'ah (Kosher and happy



End of Volume 19 Issue 27