Volume 24 Number 39
                       Produced: Mon Jun 10  1:11:05 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

613 mitzvos
         [Al Silberman]
613 mitzvot
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Acceptance of Public Apology
         [Harry Maryles]
         [Yosey Goldstein]


From: <asilberman@...> (Al Silberman)
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 17:13:39 -0500
Subject: 613 mitzvos

Eli Clark <ECLARK@...> writes in MJ v24n29:

>The idea of 613
>mitzvot is presented by R. Simlai.  The number, he says, reflects the
>365 DAYS IN THE YEAR and the 248 bodily organs.  (As has been pointed
>out, this passage appears in parallel forms in Tanhuma and other

(Capitalization mine)

<akohen@...> (Albert Ozkohen) writes in MJ v24n27:

>I want to give a nice comment from Chabad (although I am not a member of it)
>about this subject :
>[Note: this is not Chabad specific in any way that I can see as the
>source is the Midrash Tanchuma, which the Tanya brings down. Mod.]
>[2] The human body contains 248 organs and 365 BLOOD VESSELS, making
>    a total of 613 distinct components, corresponding to the 248
>    positive commandments and 365 prohibitions of the Torah (Midrash
>    Tanchuma [hakadum], Ki Teitzei; see Tanya, chapters 4 and 51).

(Capitalization mine)

There is a clear difference in the symbology attributed to the 365
prohibitions in these two postings. Eli Clark's posting (365 days of the
year) comes from the gemara and as he points out is repeated in many
midrashim. Albert Ozkohen's posting (365 blood vessels) is the symbology
with which I was most familiar with (until I got to the gemara).

I found in one of R' Arye Kaplan's footnotes the origin for the symbology
of blood vessels (or sinews). The earliest written source seems to be the
Targum Yerushalmi on Bereishis 1:27 (this was NOT written by Yonason ben
Uziel). The source most often cited (I believe) is the Zohar 1:170b in
commentary on the "Gid Hanasha".

The Tanchuma in Ki Teitzei (assuming that the Buber edition is being
referred to) repeats the symbology of the gemara and NOT blood
vessels. The Tanya and most chassidish seforim use the Zohar's symbology
and not that of the gemara.

It is interesting to note that while the 248 bones referred to (I think
that bones is a better translation than organs or limbs for "Ever" in
this case) are clearly enumerated in the Mishna in Oholes 1:8, there is
no such breakdown for the term "Gid". It seems that this term is
ambiguous and no-one has determined what the 365 gidin are.


From: <mshalom@...> (Saul Mashbaum)
Date: Sun, 09 Jun 1996 13:59:27 EDT
Subject: 613 mitzvot

1) In response to Jonathan Katz's question on the source of the concept
that there are 613 commandments in the Torah, I cited and summarized (in
volume #24, issue #27) the lone Talmudic source, as did Binyomin Segal
(in a separate and independent posting also included in that
issue). Each of us cited the information in the Talmudic passage he felt
relevant to the question at hand.

Eli Clark prefaced his own response to the question, in issue #29, with
the comment

"The discussion in Makkot 23b has not been presented properly by the
various posters".

In my opinion, this phraseology is too harsh. Eli Clark is certainly
welcome describe the Talmudic discussion in greater detail than I did;
he does not have to denigrate my summary in order to do so.

2) Eli Clark's observation that in the Talmudic passage in Makkot
R. Simlai does not cite any source for his statement that there are 613
mitzvot, and the "derivation" is attributed to R. Hamnuna, is
correct. However, in the Midrash Rabba Shmot 33:7, the derivation is
attributed directly to R. Simlai (in Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:13 it is
attributed to other sages).

3) An interesting (and fanciful) source of the number 613 appears in
Bamidbar Rabba chapter 18, where it is pointed out that there are 613
letters in the Ten Commandments. This is true if we do not count the
last two words (asher l'reehcha); various explanations have been offered
for the 'discepancy' (the seven letters in these words may correspond to
the seven Noachide commandments).

Similarly, the same passage in Bamidbar Rabbah states that the numerical
equivalent of "tzitzit" is 600 (spelling tzitzit with 2 yod's, unlike
the spelling of the Torah), which with the 8 strands and 5 knots gives

If anything, these sources make it clear that the number 613 is 'given',
and the various derivations are attempts to find hints in the Torah for
something which is known through tradition.

Saul Mashbaum


From: <Harrymaryl@...> (Harry Maryles)
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 18:18:13 -0400
Subject: Acceptance of Public Apology

In a response to my position and explanation of yeshivos and kollelim
Uri Benjamin states:

>I would like to take this opportunity, as I believe is my Chiyuv,
>(obligation), to publicly apologize to Mr. Harry Maryles for misquoting
>The quote should have read "Roshei Yeshiva are incorrectly not guiding
>their students into a more productive life and are therefore
>inadvertantly creating a large community of Batllanim (time wasters) of
>varying degrees."

I accept his apology although  the tone of his apology 
is still highly critical of me, as evidenced by the following:

>Although I did, in fact, misquote Mr. Maryles, I still do believe that
>there is a room here to stand up for Kovod Hatorah upon reading such a
>statement.  It is just this sort of sweeping generalization that causes
>a "Bitter taste" in peoples' mouths when talking about Kollelim

The last thing I want is to leave a bitter taste in ones mouth.

>I do not believe that this Choshuva forum is the place to espouse a
>feeling that Roshei Yeshiva, most of whom are themselves "Yechidei
>Segula" are inadvertenly creating a community of Batllanim, as if they
>do not really understand the ramifications of what they are doing. They
>understand very well. 

I do believe that forums like this are exactly the place to put forth
ones ideas about what he or she believes as long as it is in a positive
spirit and a spirit of seeking EMES.  As far as the Roshei yeshiva
understanding the ramifications what they are doing...I agree.... I
think they DO know very well what's going on and I have so stated.
Again, the problem I feel is not in the "not knowing" but in the not

> If a parent feels that such intense inculcation for Limud Hatorah full
>time is not for their child (whether that is for the parent to decide
>upon or not is for another posting) then there is no shortage of very
>good Yeshivos that do not follow that particular Hashkofo.

Yes, there are very fine yeshivos that reflect a positive attitude
towards parnasa but the vast majority of yeshivos are... at least...very
quiet on the subject!

>Now that I do know a little bit more about Mr. Maryles' background, and
>he deserves all the respect due his situation, I am even more surprised
>that he would make such a statement in a public forum.  He himself says
>that Roshai Yeshiva have not wanted to go on record, publicly, with such
>statements.  Why then does he?

My question is, why DON'T those Roshei Yeshiva go on record?
Apparently, Uri forgot to read the section of my post where I discuss my
Rebbe, and Rosh Hayeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Aaron Soloveichik"s very public
opinion on the subject.  Why do I want to go on the record publicly on
the subject?  Because I believe very strongly in these postions.  I feel
that there is a problem that needs to be addressed in the Torah
community and eventhough I can't hope to fix it by myself, I can at
least try to make public my sentiments in the hope of bringing some
thoughts of change for the good to those people who might read this
forum and be in a better position to do so.

>I believe that there is no room for sweeping statements in this regard.
>Each boy is different; different abilities in learing, different
>abilities in Midos, and such decisions, even for 2 to 5 years post-high
>school, should be made on an individual basis in consultation with
>parents and Rabbeim.

I never intended the 2 to 5 year period to be a Yehoreg Ve al Yavor.  It
was merely stated as a guidline.  Some Yeshiva students (of the
NON-GADOL type) perhaps should not learn more than one year after
highschool....some students should learn perhaps 10 years after high
school.  I don't know.  That is open to debate.  Ideally every
individual is different and decisions should be made on an individual
basis.  THE PROBLEM IS.....THEY ARE NOT!  students are left to "fall
through the cracks" and find their parnaso's without much guidance at

>I do not beleive that there is any "brain-washing" going on in Yeshivos
>that push for Kollel learning.  The Roshai Hayeshiva that live and
>breath those Yeshivos, that live and breath Torah day and night know
>very well what they are doing.  They are doing what they believe in,
>they are doing what they believe their "Mesoroh" is, and they are doing
>it with full understanding of all the worldly ramifications that come
>with it.  For those who disagree with it, there are other alternatives.

Brainwashing is an unfortunate choice of words because of all the
negative conotations of the word.  But there is an attitude permeating
the Koslei (walls of the) Bais Hamedrash that denigrates the Bal Habos
(layman) and discourages (at least subliminally) anyone from leaving the
yeshiva and becoming one.  This attitude needs to be changed...BIG TIME.

>Leaving the walls of the Yeshiva, leaving a world of living and
>breathing Torah day and night SHOULD be a very scary decision for a boy.
>It is a switch in one's Derech Hachayim, (way of life).  It is a switch
>from a life of pure Ruchnius (spirituality) to a life which focuses more
>on Gashmiyus (material) wellbeing.  Such a decision deserves all the
>weight it carries in molding the future of that boy and the family he
>will raise.

This point is the crux of my diagreement with Uri.  It should NOT be a
scary decision for an individual to learn how to make a living.  With
proper guidance from one's parents, family, Rabbeim, and Roshei
Yeshiva...if one has been properly inculcated with Torah values during
ones long tenure in the Beis Hamedrash....than a decision like that
should be very positive.  Sure, there are always the rare exceptions to
the rule.  Perhaps someone could go off the track. But this could happen
even if one never leaves the Beis Hamedrash... as evidenced by the many
bochurim in the Yeshiva of Voloshin who were influenced by the advent of
the Haskala Movement and left Yiddishkeit!  We should not look at it as
Ruchnius versus Gashmius.  A Bal Habos who is supporting his family, is
koveiah itim as much as he can, and is in general living a life of Torah
and Mitzvos, can also, be said to be living a life of Ruchnius.

>In closing, I ask Mechila from Mr. Maryles if I caused him any public
>discomfort or humiliation.

Mechila granted.

Harry Maryles


From: Yosey Goldstein <JOE-G@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 96 10:54:09 EDT
Subject: Sod

    There have been several postings in Mail Jewish referring to an
explanation according to "SOD". The poster had attempted to disregard
any simple understanding with the explanation that the ONLY true meaning
is the one understood thru "SOD"

  If I may step up on my soap box once again and argue with this poster.
In understanding Torah there are 4 "approaches" 1 is the simple meaning
or Pshat. Then there is the "Hints" Or Remez. This followed by DRUSH, or
an Homiletic approach and finally there is the hidden, secret meaning or
Sod.  These four approaches are viewed by some posters as four routes
stemming from one base.  In other WORDS THE BASE IS THE posuk and one
may start with any of the four paths to explain the Posuk.  I would
thingk that even though that is what it may LOOK like it is more like a
ladder with four steps. The first being Pshat, the second being Remez
and so forth.

   The reason people THINK these four approaches are linear is because
seforim will explain a posuk using one of the four approaches.  However
this is VERY deceiving.  The commentator that was able to explain any
given Posuk using these four approaches had to reach them one level at a
time.  After understanding the Pshat in a posuk the commentator then
understood the Remez, etc.  After going thru all of these paths was he
able to come up with the correct explanation.  (Whether the final
approach is Pshat or SOD.) However, since Jews were given the Torah NO
ONE was able to understand the hidden aspects of Torah without first
being VERY WELL versed in the open aspects of Torah.  The Maharal, a
great Kabalist, said to be able to learn Torah one had to follow a
specific path to learning. One had to first master the TANACH, Then
Mishna and finally the Gemmorah. If one follows any other path one can
NOT succeed in Torah!  (As far as the accepted path of learning that
exists now and has been used for generations, which does NOT follow this
path, I asked a Rebbi and he said "For whatever reason, this is the Path
our Gedolim have told us to follow to be able to learn. Why, and when
did things change from the way the Maharal taught.  Who Knows.)

    Either way, The NIGLAH is the basis for the SOD.  To think that one
can understand SOD WITHOUT first being proficient in NIGLAH is
tantamount to a first grader trying to determine how to design a rocket
ship and plot the trajectory to send it to the moon before he has
learned to add 2 + 2! (The post quoting Rav Hutner z"l does contradict
this.  SOD is the highest level of understanding of Hashem's Torah and
as such it contains the deepest Pshat.)

    I was trying to figure out a MAHARAL on a gemmorah in Rosh Hashona
and my Rebbi said HIS Rebbi told him the Maharal wrote SOD! He wrote
ONLY the HIDDEN wisdom of the Torah.  He wrote "NISTAR BELOSHON NIGLAH"
(Or hidden secrets clothed as open and readily understood Torah
concepts) One who THINKS he TRULY understands the MAHARAL is mistaken.
I would venture to say the same is true for any poster to this forum.
Until you KNOW SHAS and POSKIM you certainly do not truly understand

    I apologize here and now if anybody is insulted by this.  I will
Just end this with the old saying people have about when Moshiach is
coming; "Those who say do not know. Thos who know, do NOT say!"  The
same applies to Kabbalah, Those who TRULY know do not write the
kabbalistic explanations in enbglish for the general public.  This
(Kabbalah) Is meant for those who have reached the spiritual and
intelectual levels which are the pre-requisite for even beghinning to
study Kabblah.



End of Volume 24 Issue 39