Volume 29 Number 45
                 Produced: Tue Aug 10  7:01:10 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Missing" Verses of Joshua 21
         [Michael Poppers]
Eye for an Eye
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Pshat vs Teitch (translation) - was Shir Hashirim & Megillas Esther
         [Joseph Geretz]
Rosh Chodesh Musaf Question (4)
         [Lee David Medinets, Zev Sero, Joseph Geretz, Arieh Kadosh]


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 10:02:59 -0400
Subject: "Missing" Verses of Joshua 21

Towards the end of Saifer Y'hoshua (the book of Joshua), the assignment
of various cities [as "cities of refuge"] from the other tribes to the
families of the tribe of Levi is listed.  As per the commentary of
RaDaK, who notes that they're not in ancient manuscripts, two verses
which list the assignment of four cities from R'uvain to M'rori are not
supposed to be there.  If anyone can decipher his explanation as to why
(aside from the manuscripts' evidence) and/or explain why those verses
should be missing (especially given that (a) R'uvain's contribution is
not listed elsewhere and (b) M'rori was given 12 cities, and the other
verses list a total of eight cities from two other tribes, leaving four
more cities to be delineated), I would appreciate it.  TIA!

All the best from
Michael Poppers =*= Elizabeth, NJ


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 18:13:24 +0300
Subject: Eye for an Eye

Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...> wrote: 
> I've got to concur with Alexander's point of view. Especially in view of
> Pesukim (e.g. Ayin Tachas Ayin - an eye for an eye) whose literal
> translation would mandate putting out the eye of one who had damaged the
> eye of another individual. Of course we are all aware that the oral
> tradition emphatically states that this is NOT the case and that the
> Pasuk is referring to monetary restitution of the value of the eye.

I don't think that this supports Alexander's previous idea (which I
don't agree with). While almost all of chazal view the halacha of "ayin
tachat ayin" (an eye for an eye) as being monetary (with the notable
exception of Rabbi Eliezer in the Mechilta), there are a number of
commentaries who indicate that "pshuto shel mikra" (the plain meaning of
the text) is actually an eye for an eye. A good example of this is the
Vilna Gaon, who writes: "halacha okeret mikra" (halacha uproots the
text), meaning that the halacha (in this case monetary payment) and the
mikra are different. See also Ramban (Shmot 21:24) and Ibn Ezra for
further examples of their view of the pshat of "ayin tachat ayin".

For a comprehensive analysis of Chazal's view of "ayin tachat ayin",
look at Appendix 11, to Rav Kasher's Torah Shleimah, Parshat Mishpatim.

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 00:11:00 -0400
Subject: Pshat vs Teitch (translation) - was Shir Hashirim & Megillas Esther

David Curwin wrote:
> Again, I'd like to quote more, but if we say that pshat doesn't mean
> literal translation, I'm not sure where to start.

I think we start with the fact that Torah SheBichsav (written Torah)
does not represent the sum totality of the bi-part Torah which was given
on Har Sinai; Torah SheBichsav *together with* Torah SheB'al Peh (oral

It must be accepted that many many parts of Torah SheBichsav simply
cannot be understood without being explained by Torah SheB'al
Peh. Therefore, when reading the written Torah we must *always* look to
the commentators for guidance as to whether the translation is
sufficient for us to gain proper understanding, or whether the
translation must be modified in the context of the explanation from the
Oral Torah in order for us to gain a correct understanding.

For when Rashi explains Ayin Tachas Ayin as 'one who blinds the eye of
his friend must reimburse him the monetary equivalence of his diminished
value in the marketplace' this is not a novel interperetation on Rashi's
part.  Rather, Rashi is simply stating the Oral Law which was given
concurrently with the Written Law in order to give us the correct
understanding of the Pasuk. The *translation* of the words is
superficial and runs contrary to the intent of the Pasuk.

Another indication that meaning is more important than translation is
the fact that Targum Onkelos (ostensibly a translation) routinely
introduces explanations which sometimes even run counter to the
superficial translation of the Pasuk.

Bamidbar 12:1 - Ki Isha Cushis Lakach

The translation would read: Since he had married a Cushite (black)
woman.  Targum explains: Since he had divorced his beautiful wife.

Bamidbar 12:12 - Asher B'Tzeiso MeiRechem Imo

The translation would read: Who had gone out from his mother's
womb. Targum explains: For she is our sister.

(These are just two samples of many many instances where Targum deviates
from the *translation* and instead focuses in on delivering the
*meaning* of the words.)

All of this adds up to the fact that the translation of a Pasuk is only
meaningful if there is no Oral Torah which modifies the meaning from the
pure translation. Since we are not well versed in the tradition of Oral
Torah we must in all cases look to the commentators in order to verify
the correct meaning of each Pasuk and cannot rely on simple translation.
Obviously, if there is no modifying Oral Law, then the simple
translation is also the correct meaning.

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz


From: Lee David Medinets <LDMLaw@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 17:28:35 -0400
Subject: RE: Rosh Chodesh Musaf Question

Carl Sherer wrote asking the reason that we say "ul'chaporas posha"
("and atonement for our intentional sins) in musaf for Rosh Chodesh
during leap years.  It is the kind of question that I suspect has many
good answers.  This is an answer that occurs to me, but it is offered
without sufficient proof.  It is partly conjecture.  So please don't get
mad at me if you don't like it.

HaShem's initial plan for the world was simple compared with the ages of
history that have actually occurred.  Adom and Chava were to live in Gan
Eden and they were to be the consciousness of the world, But in order to
do that, they had to stand up to the test of the Eitz HaDas.  They did
not pass that test, of course, and the result is all of history,
tortuously moving toward the same conclusion that otherwise would have
been simple and direct, as G-d initially planned.

In the desert, we had the opportunity to possesses the Torah as pure,
clear enlightenment, without the burden of digging and pondering and
searching for the Truth that characterizes the Torah we possess today.
However, we committed the sin of the golden calf, and the first Luchos
were destroyed.  The second Luchos require endless exertion to
understand.  But the final result remains just as HaShem planned:

When the spies returned of Eretz Yisroel and slandered the land, and we
wept without justification, the result was forty years of wandering
before we could enter the land, and even then, we had a weakened
connection to it, so that we have been repeatedly expelled from the
land.  And yet, we always return, and the final ge'ulah is inevitable
despite the sin of the meraglim.  And so on. Our sins may pervert and
delay the course of HaShem's good intentions for us, but they never
change the eventual outcome.

I suspect that the failure of the solar and lunar years to coincide in
perfect harmony is a product of the fundamental disharmony in the
universe (which is the source of all sin).  It is a symptom of flaws in
this world that we have not yet corrected.  I understand that the source
of those flaws predate the chet of the Eitz HaDas:

According to the Medrash, the Moon asked HaShem a question on the fourth
day of creation if it as possible for the Sun and Moon to be equally
great, HaShem agreed that it was not possible, and He therefore reduced
the Moon.  Why was the Moon reduced, and not the Sun?  G-d, Himself
agreed with the Moon's observation!  But the Moon's observation
demonstrated that the Moon saw itself as independent from the system
created by G-d, with a status separate from and antithetical to the
status of the Sun.  Under those circumstances it is, in fact, impossible
for the Sun and Moon to be coequal.  One must be lesser, and since it
was the Moon's isolation that was the source of disharmony, it is the
Moon that was reduced.  [The foregoing explanation of this Medrash is an
inadequate summary of my recollection of what I read on that subject
from Rav Matis Weinberg, sh'lita.]

This connection of the Moon with the earliest disharmony in the universe
explains, in part, why the new Moon is particularly associated with
teshuva and kaporah.  In leap years there is an additional revelation of
this disharmony, both because the leap year, itself, points out the
difference between the lunar and solar year, and also because the extra
month delays the ge'ulah of Purim and Passover.  (But notice that the
ge'ulah may be delayed, but can't be prevented from coming.)  Therefore,
it seems to me that this extra month is a special reminder of the
failure of ourselves and our world to be in harmony with HaShem and His
plans, and it is an appropriate opportunity to ask for an additional
level of forgiveness.

Dovid Medinets

From: Zev Sero <zsero@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 14:52:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Rosh Chodesh Musaf Question

Carl Sherer <sherer@...> wrote:

> because of the possibility that we have made a mistake in making the
> year a leap year, and if we are wrong, we could be eating chametz on
> Pesach. Avraham Yaakov was not satisfied with that answer. He argues
> that even if the year was incorrectly made into a leap year, we would
> still not be guilty of eating chametz on Pesach because fixing when the
> Yomim Tovim (holidays) fall has the rule of "ma'aseh beis din" (an act
> of the Rabbanic court). Therefore, even if the fixing of the year as a
> leap year was mistaken, it still stands, and Pesach really is when the
> beis din (in this case, our calendar) says it is.

That sounds right to me.  After all, the calendar was given to us to
determine `afilu mezidin' - even if we deliberately make the `wrong'
decision, whatever we decide is by definition true.  That's why we say
`mekadesh hashabat, Yisrael vehazemanim' - Hashem gives Shabbat its
holiness, but *we* give the festivals their holiness, by deciding when
they're going to be.

We also have R Yehoshua's example, when he publicly performed work on
the day that in his opinion ought to have been Yom Kippur, because
despite the fact that he still thought he was right in principle, and R
Gamliel was wrong to have declared (Rosh Hashana and therefore) Yom
Kippur when he did, he acknowledged that the power was given to the
Sanhedrin, and Yom Kippur was whenever R Gamliel said it was, regardless
of all other considerations.

And we have the case when Chizkiyahu declared a leap year on the day
which would otherwise have been the 1st of Nissan.  This was completely
against the rules, and the chachamim disapproved of it, but I don't
recall seeing anywhere that there was any doubt about the validity of
the decision once it had been made.

So I think your son is right to question the answer given in Taamei

If you care for some sheer speculation on my part, I suggest that it
might have to do with the fact that if not for Rosh Chodesh, the only
public chata'ot would be the ones brought on the festivals, and
therefore between Sukkot and Pesach we would go 6 months without any
forgiveness being available for the type of sins for which these
korbanot atone, and in a leap year we would have to go 7 months without
this atonement, so we thank Hashem more in a leap year than in a normal
year for having given us the opportunity to wipe these sins out every
month by bringing a public chatat.

Zev Sero

From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 19:12:23 -0400
Subject: Rosh Chodesh Musaf Question

Carl wrote:
> In Rosh Chodesh Musaf during leap years (at least until Nissan) we add
> the words "ul'chaporas posha," (and to atone for sins).

Sorry, I don't have a source for this, but this explanation sticks in my
memory from my childhood. It was explained to me that the additional
phrase is inserted so that our requests correspond numerically to the
months in the year. As to why this specific request, it was explained to
me that in a year containing an extra month, we require an extra degree
(1/12th additional?)  of forgiveness than in a year containing only 12

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz

From: Arieh Kadosh <akadoch@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Aug 1999 20:29:39
Subject: Rosh Chodesh Musaf Question

Carl and Adina Sherer, or more accurately their son Avraham Yaacov asks
why extra words are added during Rosh Chodesh Mussaf during a leap year.
Carl & Adina are on the right track by stating that the time of Pesach
has 'changed', however all the Torah and Rabbinically-mandated Mitzvohs,
such as eating Matzah, etc... do not get altered by this change.  I
believe it is a more fundamental issue of when the first month really
is, or more accurately when the last month of the year really is.  From
a d'Oraitha (Biblical level) point-of-view, as well as d'Rabbanan (See
1st Mishnah, Tractate Rosh HaShanah), Nissan is the first of the months
in the Jewish Calendar, and by intercalating a month just before it
(i.e., Adar II), Beis Din has somehow to a small degree changed a
Torah-mandated nature of the 12-month Jewish year.  I have also heard on
occasion that because an extra month was added to the year, Beis Din has
unavoidably delayed Geulah which comes with Pesach.  In addition, since
Shavuos falls 49 days after Pesach, and not by a specific date, in
essence that has also been delayed by the addition of a leap month.

Arieh Kadosh


End of Volume 29 Issue 45