Volume 28 Number 08
                      Produced: Sun Nov  1  8:48:27 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Michael E. Rosenberg]
Another angle/angel on the Akedah
         [Yehoshua Kahan]
Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better
         [Yaacov Dovid Shulman]
Derech Eretz
         [Reuven Miller]
Singing as an Interrupion during Sheva Berachot
         [David Oratz]
Singing during Sheva Berachot
         [Shlomo Katz]
Singing Magen Avot
         [AJ Gilboa]
Toyro t'hey
         [David Herskovic]


From: Michael E. Rosenberg <merosenberg@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 05:24:50 -0800
Subject: Akeda

In asking Avraham to kill Yitzchak, God is seeing whether or
not the previous killings had been done totally for His sake.  Avraham
passes his final test.  He demonstrates that his first priority is
service to Hashem.

As shown by the fact that when he is told to stop, he stops immediately.

Chazal tell us that the Akeda was a test of Avraham Avinu's readiness to
carry out the dvar HaShem without question.  G-d tells him he will
create a great nation from Avraham's zera', and that this zera' will be
realized through Yizchok for whom he has waited and davened for 100
years.  He then tells him ha'aleihu...take Yitzchak up for a korban
olah.  Avraham could have questioned and asked for clarification of the
obvious contradiction. He doesn't. He wakes up early and begins
preparing wood.

Later, when the malach tells him to stop, according to the medrash he
doesn't want to stop. Avraham still wants to draw blood and only then
begins to argue. The answer given by the malach is you were told
ha'aleihu (take him up) not shachteihu (slaughter him).


From: <orotzfat@...> (Yehoshua Kahan)
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 14:30:56 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Another angle/angel on the Akedah

In response to Moshe Nugiel (Vol. 28 #02), who claims that the Akedah is
a "tikkun" for Avraham's basic nature, which a straightforward reading
of Bereshit seems to him to indicate is all to willing to spill blood:
How is Avraham's demonstrating, by your reading, his readiness to once
again spill blood any sort of a "tikkun"?  Presumably, he was killing
the four kings and their retinue at Hashem's behest, he sent out Hagar
and Yishmael explicitly at Hashem's behest (who confirms Sarah's
dictate: drive them away - without slaves and guidance, I would presume
- Avraham's unbidden provisioning of them could be taken to violate
Hashem's will - "KOL asher tomar lach Sarah"), and now he shows he's
willing to kill Yitzchak at Hashem's behest.  By your reading, Avraham
does not reveal any deeper or finely nuanced aspects of his basic
        You come to your reading of the Akedah by asserting that
Avraham's basic nature is one of Chesed/lovingkindness.  It is true that
from the perspective of Kabbalah, this is a tautology: Avraham = Chesed.
Yet, if you want to read the account of Avraham's trials from the
perspective of Peshat, may I suggest the following: In challenging
Hashem, however humbly, regarding Sdom, Avraham demonstrates his
unswerving dedication to justice.  Avraham hears the voice of Elokim
loud and clear.  The question is: does he hear the voice of Hashem
(Y-H-V-H).  Thus: The Akedah present Avraham, overcoming his powerful
love for his divinely appointed heir and unhesitatingly setting out to
obey the word of Elokim.  As he approaches the site, as the excruciating
moment draws ever nearer, the action slows down: seven verbs describe
each step of Avraham's actions in verses "They came to the place which
Hashem said to him, Avraham BUILT there the altar, he ARRANGED the wood,
he BOUND Yitzchak his son, he SET him upon the altar above the wood, he
SENT FORTH his hand, he TOOK the knife to SLAUGHTER his son".
        "To slaughter", but he doesn't slaughter, for then an angel of
Y-H-V-H appears (first time for the angel, first time for the name) and
before the seventh action can be completed (see the various midrashim
which flesh out this suspended action), stays his hand.
        How can a human being, pumped up with immeasureable awe of the
Divine and certainty of His Will necessary to procede with the
unimaginable demand to sacrifice "your son, your only one whom you
love", careening forward in slow motion but with inexorable momentum
toward heavens-rending moment, hear the angel's whisper?  [after all, it
wasn't an angel of Elokim, but Hashem Himself "wearing" that name - see
Midrash Rabbah on Vayerah: "I am called after My actions/qualities"].
        Avraham hears.  Chesed is manifest from the midst of din, and
fuses with it.  For anyone else - schizophrenia.  For Avraham, the
deepest oneness.  This is the rock from whom we are hewn.

        Rav Berachot,
        Yehoshua Kahan


From: <Yacovdavid@...> (Yaacov Dovid Shulman)
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 00:39:54 EST
Subject: Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better

I recently saw a letter to the editor in Commentary Magazine by (I
believe) Rabbi Mottel Twerski, in which he speaks of women's souls being
superior to those of men.  This is an argument that I have heard a
number of times, in various permutations.  For instance: Men need to
pray on a regular basis whereas women don't, because this keeps men's
greater sexual desire in line.  Men need more mitzvos on a regular basis
because they are more likely to get into trouble; women have less
mitzvos because they don't need to be elevated.  And this one, that in
essence women have a higher soul than do men.

As far as I can tell, this is a doctrine, or apologetics, that is no
more than twenty years old.  I do not know of any gadol espousing it,
yet it seems to be extremely widespread--reminding me of the golem
stories that were created and published for the first time at the turn
of the century, and which are now accepted as part of the Jewish
tradition.  Would you concur with this view?  Does anyone know anything
about this doctrine?

In a related matter, I would very much be interested in others'
understanding of, or reaction to, Rav Kook's description of the
difference between women and men in his Olas Harayah (pp. 71-2).

He writes (I translate roughly), 

Neshamos, in the destiny of their lives, are divided into active and
passive; into those that make an impression upon life and its being in
all its secret treasures, and those upon whom life impresses itself.

This is the essential difference between the nefesh of a man--who is
active, influencing, conquering and subduing, and the nefesh of a
woman--who is impressed upon, acted upon, influenced and conquered and
subdued--in regard to the man's conduct.

How many exalted and good qualities, how much happiness and breadth
exist in this good portion, when the neshamah is the the neshamah of a
man--who is active, creative, inventing and broadening activities and
ideas, ideals and actions, in accordance with his inner essence in the
frameworks of his holiness.  It is superior to the nefesh of a
woman--which, when compared to the creative neshamah of a man, is like
an object compared to the form.

Therefore, how great is the obligation of every man to give thanks to
the Creator of the neshamah: 'Who has not made me a woman.'

Women say, 'Who made me according to His will.'  Despite all the
advantage possessed by a man, who acts and sets the impressions of his
influence and activities upon life and the world, there is a
corresponding advantage that the passive woman possesses.  She is made
with a character that receives impressions.  In regard to those
quintessential activities and arousals of action, a man (adam) uses them
to form an impression, constricting them into his own physical and
spiritual might.  Because of this, he can at times turn aside from the
exalted, divine goal.

But this is not the case with regard to woman's passive character--when
she is straight.  She tends to receive impressions and to be acted upon
from the attribute of the outpouring of activity that God has made, from
that straight character with which He made humanity (adam) and the
world, the physical and spiritual content in existence, in direct line
with His supernal, simple and straight will.  Therefore, a woman gives
thanks for her good portion: 'Who made me according to His will.'

I would be most interested in your responses.  

With thanks,

Yaacov Dovid Shulman 


From: <millerr@...> (Reuven Miller)
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 14:09:22 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Derech Eretz

Does any know the origin of the Hebrew "saying" "derech eretz kadma

Reuven Miller


From: David Oratz <dovid@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 17:41:46 -500
Subject: Re: Singing as an Interrupion during Sheva Berachot

I had the privilege over the years of being able to discuss this very
subject with two renowned poskim in Yerushalyim, and each of the
discussions is a great (short) anectode in its own right.

About a dozen years ago I was an "eid kidushin" at a wedding in which
Rav Gustman ZTL was the "mesader kidushin". Right after we walked the
couple into the "yichud room" I asked him whether singing during the
bracha was an interruption. His answer was a classic that I will never
forget. Freely translated from the Yiddish it was: "I don't know; but I
know that when I was at a wedding in which the Chofetz Chaim was the
Mesader Kiddushin we did sing it"!!!

A bit over a year ago, I was at a wedding in which Rabbi Sheinberg
Shlita was the "mesader kidushin" and he stopped the people from singing
during the bracha. The subject was brought up to him by the group
walking him away from the chupah and I, knowing how scrupulous Rabbi
Sheinberg generally is about the rulings of the Chofetz Chaim (and
perhaps with a modicum of chutzpah), repeated the above story. He nodded
sagely and immediately shot back: "Yes, that's the Chofetz Chaim
'leshitaso' [consistent with his opinion] who rules (in the Mishnah
Brurah) that singing during Birkas Kohanim is not a 'hefsek'
[interruption]"! His clear implication was that others consider both an

So there you have it. Both agreed that according to the Chafetz Chaim it
is not considered an interruption. However, Rabbi Sheinberg seems to
have ruled against the Chofetz Chaim on the matter.

Dovid Oratz


From: Shlomo Katz <skatz@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 07:56:43 -0500
Subject: Re: Singing during Sheva Berachot

There are (or used to be) many instances of the congregation singing in
the middle of a berachah.  For example, the berachot after the haftarah
are broken up into paragraphs which do NOT represent the end of the
berachah because the congregation used to sing at that point.  (I don't
have the source for that in front of me, but if anyone wants, I can look
it up.)

The recitation of Yetziv Pitgam in the middle of the haftarah on Shavuot
represents a similar though not identical problem.  (All of this will be
discussed in my book on Haftarot which I am again actively working on
after a hiatus of too long.)


From: AJ Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 14:51:21 -0800
Subject: Re: Singing Magen Avot

> While not an answer, we do find that Friday night the chazan stops in
> the middle of a bracha for the congregation to say "Magen Avot".
> Interestingly enough I recall seeing certain Rabbis who do not allow
> themselves to be interrupted during the 6th bracha (though I can't
> recall who they were).
> For that matter in Yeshivat Pachad Yitzchak (when it was still in
> Mattersdorf) I recall that they didn't stop Friday night - the chazan
> went straight onto Magen Avot without stopping and the congregation
> remained silent. For the record, the Kitzur in Siman 76:5 says "...and
> the custom is to say WITH HIM (the chazan) Magen Avot" (my translation
> and emphasis).

All this goes to show that minhagim are not always governed by strict
logic. After all, "magen avot" is an abbreviated form of hazzarat
hasha"tz (included in Arvit of Shabbat for special reasons not relevant
at this moment), so what business does the congregation have reciting it
at all - with the hazzan or before the hazzan? Pahad Yitzhak apparently
felt that the halachic logic was more valid than the minhag as
faithfully reported by R. Shlomo Ganzfried in "Kitzur Shulhan Aruch".
Others have "compromised" by allowing the congregation to precede the
hazzan but requiring that the hazzan repeat the whole thing solo. This
is consistent with the equally "illogical" practice of many
congregations where the tsibbur sings an occasional selection from
hazarat hasha"tz of shaharit, musaf or minha of Shabbat either before
the hazzan or with him. (I might add that the almost universal practice
among Ashkenazim is for the congregation to say the prelude to kedusha
(n'kadesh, na'aritz'cha) before or with the hazzan even though it is
clear that this is meant to be an invitation (zimun) to the tzibbur
(just like "bar'chu" or "rabotai nevarech" that are NEVER said by anyone
but the sha"tz or m'zamen)). Presumably, minhagim such as these have
their own logic based on the desire of the congregation to participate
actively in the MUSICAL rendition of tefilla. This is certainly in the
spirit of "ze Eli v'anvehu" and should not be discouraged. Even the
Carlebachian tendency to excess in this direction should be understood
as a true and valid outpouring of religious emotion. On the other hand,
for talmidei hachamim who are anxious to get back to their books (if
indeed this is their ultimate oneg shabbat), it should be permissible to
take a strict and logical view with the purpose of shortening the
tefilla as much as possible. 

"Elu va'elu divre Elohim Hayyim".

Yosef Gilboa


From: David Herskovic <david@...>
Subject: Toyro t'hey

There are a series of psukim [verses - Mod.] for children to say in the
morning after moyde ani printed in the front of most sidurim.

One of them is 'Toyro t'hey _emunosi_ v'keyl shakay b'ezrosi'.

Does anyone know a source for this line. The reason I ask is that some
sidurim have it as 'Toyro t'hey emunosi...' which translates as 'may the
toyro be my belief' while others have 'umonusi' which would mean 'may
the toyre be my profession'. So which is right?

David Herskovic


End of Volume 28 Issue 8