Volume 26 Number 55
                      Produced: Mon May 19  7:26:09 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Learning by copying vs. learning by reading
         [Stan Tenen]
Sitting in the Succah on Shemini Atzeret
         [Yosef Dweck]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 17:43:10 -0400
Subject: Learning by copying vs. learning by reading

The recent discussions about how Jewish learning has changed from
"apprenticeship" learning to "text" learning is of extraordinary
importance because of its effects and implications.

These are two very different modes of learning with very different
strengths and weaknesses.  Text based learning is essential because,
given the vast accumulation of Torah learning over time, not even a
Moshe, if he lived today, could remember it all.  Textual knowledge is
the only form of knowledge that is fully storable.  But, it has its

Apprenticeship learning is "hands on" learning.  We see and we try and
eventually we master the tasks that our elders have mastered.  The
faculties we use for "hands on" learning are different from those we use
for textual learning.

Anyone of any age and experience can read a text.  But, they will be
able to understand the text only to the extent that they are already
familiar with the subject or with the elements of the subject.  A person
who has never seen a monkey wrench would be hard put to understand its
proper usage no matter how detailed the verbal description.  Holding and
using a monkey wrench is necessary for properly understanding what is
written about a monkey wrench.

The medium of learning has a great effect on those who use it and on
what personality types are inclined to use it.  The availability of
computer graphics has radically changed some branches of mathematics
because hands on visual manipulation and exploration of mathematical
abstractions teaches different subjects differently and attracts
visually curious persons who might otherwise not be interested in

We are taught that we should not earn a living from Torah. Rabbis are
encouraged to work for a living.  But the meaning of "work" has changed.
Until recent times, work mostly meant labor, a trade or a craft.
Laborers, tradespersons and craftspersons work with their hands (and
bodies).  Their knowledge is apprenticeship based and experiential.
They know how things feel and work and wear.  In today's world many
persons do not earn a living by working with real materials in real
environments.  Their work is real, but it is abstract.  We work on paper
with words and numbers.  We sell real estate, design computers, draw up
legal documents, design advertising, etc.  We work with our heads based
on what we have read (or been read to about.)  The more educated we are,
the more Torah learning we have, the more economically independent we
are, the more we are likely to learn and work in the abstract.  Our
executives, managers, designers, and bureaucrats do not work with their
hands.  Our garage mechanics and TV repairmen and assembly line workers
work with their hands - and they are rarely Torah scholars.

What difference does this make?  It makes an enormous difference when we
try to learn from our texts.  Our texts were written by working rabbis
who had hands on knowledge of a real physical trade or craft.  When they
wrote, they wrote using metaphors that would be understood by other
persons who had a hands on relationship with their work.  For us to
understand their written words requires us to have similar hands on
knowledge of the real world.  Torah is written in the language of
(hu)man, and the primary language of humans is work and is based on
work.  Symbolic work only carries meaning when the symbols relate back
to real experience.

I believe that Torah learning based entirely on texts interpreted by
persons who have not worked with their hands in the real physical world
is necessarily limited and, in some instances, unavoidably distorted.
Mysteries of Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah would not be mysteries if we
had the same hands on experiences as our sages.  If we are to regain
command of Kabbalah, for example, we must learn from doing things in the

For example, although it is far from obvious to the persons studying the
"Equal letter interval codes in Torah", any person who has hands on
experience with knitting or weaving or braiding can immediately see that
the letter skip patterns are weaving patterns.  There is no need for
modern analysis, no need for rocket science.  Weaving, a craft
traditionally understood and appreciated throughout the ancient world,
is a natural hands on means of encoding information.  Any craftsperson
can tell that.  But a person who has never knitted, or braided or woven
anything cannot recognize the simple solution to what current academic
and talmudic scholars find so puzzling or miraculous.

In order to understand the words of our sages we need to put ourselves
in their day-to-day shoes.  Advanced degrees and hard work in
jurisprudence or business administration do not fulfill the requirement
that our rabbis and teachers work for a living.  They do not provide the
apprenticeship in real materials and real situations that our mind's
require in order to properly and fully interpret what our sages have
written (or what was written by HaShem in the language of (hu)mans as we
were until this era.)

If we are to recover the science of consciousness in Kabbalah, if we are
to be able to learn from the "codes in Torah", if we are to be able to
reconcile halacha with modern life (without dilution or compromise), we
must regain hands on apprenticeship learning as a prerequisite to Torah
learning.  We must teach children to sew and braid challah and weave
cloth and build tents, while we are introducing them to text based
learning.  If we must work as administrators in order to feed our
families, then we must also have a hands on hobby so we can also learn
the real world skills our sages learned and drew their lessons from.

Text based knowledge without apprenticeship is like Din without Chesed.
Apprenticeship without text knowledge (including Torah!!!) is Chesed
without Din.  Neither can be fulfilled alone.

Stan Tenen
check our website: http://www.meru.org


From: <JDST156@...> (Yosef Dweck)
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 00:57:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Sitting in the Succah on Shemini Atzeret

I have noticed that there haven't been many straight answers concerning
the whole issue of sitting in the succah on Shemini Atzeret outside of
Eretz Yisrael, therefore Be'zrat Hashem, I would like to write a clear
explanation of all issues involved for those who are interested....
 *NOTE: the words of the poskim were translated from the original hebrew. I
strongly advise all who can to see everything sighted in its original place.

	It is brought in both gemaras Rosh Hashana(28b) and Eruvin (96a)
that one who sleeps in the Succah on the eighth day (Shemini Atzeret) is
given lashes as punishment. Rashi in Eruvin writes that one is punished
for doing so because he adds another day to the holiday of Succot, yet
we (outside of Israel) sit in the succah on the eighth day out of doubt
as to which day it really is. And being that it is not at the proper
time, and without the intention to fulfill the mitzvah, it is not
considered "bal tosif" (an addition to the perscribed mitzvah -- a
prohibition in the Torah), for if it is really the eighth day, we don't
have the intention of doing the mitzvah of Succah.
	It thus seems from Rashi's words that if a mitzvah is done while
not in its proper time without the intention of doing the mitzvah, one
does not transgress the prohibition of Bal Tosif. The Ran also writes in
the fourth Perek of Gemara Megilah (daf Resh Ayin Dalet a) that one who
adds to a certain mitzvah while not at the proper time and without
intention, like one who sleeps in the succah on the eighth day, does not
transgress "bal tosif" unless it is done with the express intention of
transgressing, for adding to a mitzvah at the wrong time requires intent
in order for it to be considered a transgression.
	We thus see from the Ran's words as well that adding to a
mitzvah while not at its proper time and without intention does not fall
under the prohibition of "bal tosif". In any case one could say that the
very fact we sit in the succah on the eighth day is intention enough,
and it is self apparent that we are doing a mitzvah. This notion holds
no water, however, because one who does a mitzvah out of doubt is also
not considered "bal tosif". We see this in the words of the Shiltei
Giborim on the Rif in Gemara Rosh Hashana (perek dalet at the end of
letter gimel). He writes that one who adds to a mitzvah is not
transgressing bal tosif until he has intention to do so. It is for this
reason that we sit in the succah on the eighth day, and blow shofar on
the second day of Rosh Hashana, and eat matzah on the second day of
Pesah, and although there is place to say that this should be considered
adding to the mitzvahs and in the category of "bal tosif", since it is
done out of doubt as to which day is correct, it is not the proper
intention for doing the mitzvah.
	Thus we see that we sit in the succah on the eighth day and
don't worry about the prohibition of bal tosif. It is even brought as
halacha in the gemara in Succah (47a) that all the gedolei hador in
Babel sat in the succah on the eighth day and said no bracha. The gemara
goes on to say explicitly that it is a halacha to sit in the succah
without a bracha on the eighth day.
	It is important, however, to point out that the reason the
bracha is not said is not because we don't want to show intention in
doing the mitzvah (in order to avoid bal tosif). If this were so than
the bracha said on the shofar and on the matzah should also be omitted
the second day for those are done out of doubt as well. The Rosh (Sucah
47a) explains the reason that the bracha is omitted specifically on
Succot as opposed to the other holidays. He writes that since the eighth
day in this case is a doubt to the status of two holidays, one being the
last day of Succot, and the other the day of Shemini Atzeret which is a
holiday in itself, both holidays are observed to the stringent
side. This means we sit in the succah (for doubt that it may be Succot)
but do not say the bracha (for the possibility that the day is actually
Shemini Atzeret).  The Rif wrote the same reason as the Rosh. The Ran
added that we do so even if we know the proper days today, for we keep
the minhag of our elders, yet we don't say a bracha for it would be
disregarding thesanctity of the day of Shemini Atzeret. (The Ran
continued to explain why on Pesah we say the blessing for the Omer on
the second night of Pesah and are not concerned with the disregard it
shows to the Yom Tov of Pesah).
	The Ritvah proposes another reason the blessing is not said. He
states that although the mitzvah of sitting in the Succah is one from
the Torah the blessing nevertheless is from the Rabbis and when in doubt
concerning a rabbinical mitzvah we are lenient (thus the bracha should
not be said). The Ritvah himself answers and says if this were so, we
shouldn't say kiddush on the second day of Yom Tov for the whole second
day of Yom Tov is imposed on us by our Rabbis. We must therefore say
that the rabbis specifally commanded us to say kiddush on the second day
as on the first so that we don't disregard
the second day's sanctity. It is exactly for the opposite of this reason
that we don't say the bracha for sitting in the succah on Shemini Atzeret.
 For if we say it, we would be disregarding the sanctity of Shemini
Atzeret.  The Ritvah goes on to explain why saying the blessing for the
Omer on the second day of Pesah is not likened to this case (which I
will not bring here).
	Thus from all of the above it is clear that the practice to sit
without a bracha on Shemini Atzeret outside of Israel is proper
according to halacha and one should not sway right or left from this,
especially since it was bluntly stated as halacha in the gemara
itself. As was brought by the Rambam (Laws of Succah Perek Vav Halacha
Yud Gimel) and in the Tur and Shulhan Aruch (Siman Taf Resh Samech Het).
	There is, however, reason to ask why the rabbis did not
establish that Lulav and Etrog be taken as well on the eighth day
without a bracha like sitting in the succah. The Rosh (Succah 47a)
explains that they did not want to establish doing so, for if it really
was Shemini Atzeret the Arba Minim would be muktzeh and for doubt of
this they did not decree it. The Ran further explained that that the
Mitzvah of Succah is from the torah and in doubt we are stringent. While
the Lulav is only from the torah on the first day and from the rabbis
therafter, thus in doubt we are lenient.
	The Rosh added that if we were to take the Lulav and etrog on
the eighth day, it would be obvious that we were treating it as if it
were still Succot.  While sitting outside in a "gazeebo" to eat in the
shade is not something done only on Succot, and is not obvious or
aparent. The Korban Netanel, however said that for this reason one
shouldn't sleep in the succah because no one sleeps outside
regularly. The Mordechi wrote for this reason that one shouldn't sleep
in the succah for it is obvious he is doing so for the mitzvah's sake
and the succah doesn't provide shade at night. In any case, the Bet
Yosef disagrees with the Mordechi and writes that the opinion of the
majority of Poskim is to sleep in the Succah as well and made no
distinction in their words. The Hida as well wrote a great deal on this
particular subject in Mahazik Beracha and agreed with the Bet Yosef that
one should sleep in the Succah on the eighth day as well.
	In conclusion we see from here that from the gemara down, the
opinion is that outside of Israel we sit in the Succah on the eighth day
without a Bracha and according to the Bet Yosef we even sleep in the
	May Hashem grant us the ability to learn and understand his
Torah, and in its merit send us Mashiach Ben David Tzidkenu BB"A.

Bebirkat Hatorah Velomdeha,
Yosef Dweck 


End of Volume 26 Issue 55