Volume 35 Number 95
                 Produced: Thu Feb 21  5:58:11 US/Eastern 2002


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cheilek Elokah mimaal ('a piece of G-d from above') (3)
         [A. Seinfeld, Jack Wechsler, Jonathan & Randy Chipman]
Falafel, mashed potatoes and peanut butter
         [Caela Kaplowitz]
Kiddush Halevonah
         [J.B. Frank]
Maot Hittin
         [Mark Steiner]
Sifrei Kodesh
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Source Request
         [<Danmim@...>]
Subject: Neshomos (souls) of Children with Down's Syndrome
         [Moshe Kinderlehrer]


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From: A. Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 09:49:10 -0800
Subject: Re: Cheilek Elokah mimaal ('a piece of G-d from above')

Akiva Miller writes:
> 2) What is the nature of that Breath Of Life? ---
> One explanation that I've heard is that it is the ability of free will.

See the Targum on that passuk - "breath of life" = ability to speak

Yeshaya Halevi writes:

> Similarly, when the Torah says God took us out of Egypt with "an
> outstretched arm and a strong hand," this is an anthropomorphic metaphor
> and must not be taken literally.

On the contrary - if we are in God's image, then God has the true arm
and hand - ours are only images of His - we are "deomorphic", if you
will.

Alexander Seinfeld

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From: Jack Wechsler <wechsler@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 22:21:49 +0200
Subject: Cheilek Elokah mimaal ('a piece of G-d from above')

<Mhayehudi@...> (Mordechai) asks, <<I have heard it said that
the neshomoh (soul) is a 'cheilek Elokah mimaal' (literally - piece of
G-d above). I have had trouble understanding how Jews can say such a
thing, being that one of the things we reject about christianity is
their belief that a man can be a G-d. So how could we (at least some of
us) say / believe that every neshomoh is a 'piece of G-d' from above'?>>

I would like to refer Mordechai to an excellent "quntras" written by
Harav Chaim David Halevi z"t"l published in the second book of "Asey
Lecho Rav " He goes into the whole aspect of a person leaving this world
for olam habo and goes into many aspects of what is the neshomoh that we
talk about .Well worth while reading in my humble opinion.

Jack Wechsler
<wechsler@...>

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From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 17:23:41 +0200
Subject: re: Cheilek Elokah mimaal ('a piece of G-d from above')

In v35n92, Mordechai <Mhayehudi@...> raises theological objections
to the concept that <<the neshomoh (soul) is a 'cheilek Elokah mimaal'
(literally - piece of G-d above)>>

He asks <<how Jews can say such a thing, being that one of the things we
reject about christianity is their belief that a man can be a G-d....
One (Sepharadic) Rabbi told me that this belief is 'keffirah' (a
forbidden belief for a Jew). .  Also, is this belief mostly a hassidic
belief, especially among Lubavitchers (as it seems to be mentioned in
the Lubavitcher tanya, chapter two), or is it accepted by others as well
(e.g. misnagdim, german Jews, etc.)?>>

Several comments:
     1.  There are several important points of distinction between this
and the Christian doctrine of incarnation:
    First, before considering the incarnation specifically, it should be
kept in mind that we reject Christianity simply because it is not
Judaism;  i.e., in the same way as do any non-Jewish religion;  and also
because it makes a big point of abrogating the mitzvot.
    More to the point:  Christians believe that Gd was embodied
specifically in a particular individual in a unique and singular way.
This is of course not implied by the above belief.  Moreover, they hold
that Gd "the Father" was wholly embodied in Jesus, who is
"simultaneously entirely human and entirely Divine."  Learned Christians
struggle with the logical contradiction of this position, and are forced
to such views as that "these two statements, though contradictory, are
true, and this is one of the mysteries of the faith.^  (thus, for
example, I was told by Dominican philosopher Father Marcel Dubois)  The
belief in question, by contrast, only speaks of each soul being a "part"
of the Godhead.

 2.  Leaving Christianity aside:  basically, Judaism has very few
absolute theological dogmas, and contains within it a great deal of
latitude and differences of opinion on many theological issues -- far
more than it does in halakhic matters, where there is a notion of
pesak.  This is proven by studying some of the great Jewish thinkers and
noting the great variety of positions on many central issues of emunot
vede'ot (beliefs and opinions).  True, Maimonides formulated his famous
13 principles in the Commenatry on Perek Helek, but there are many who
disagree with him on one or another point.  (In any event, I don't see
where this specific belief contradicts any of Rambam's principles).
       In particular, there is basic disagreement between the more
rational, philosophical school, best represented by Maimonides, and the
mystical stream, found in Kabbalah and Hassidut.  Perhaps the most basic
difference between the two schools relates to the nature of Gd:  is He
basically transcendent, as held by the rationalist school:  that is,
wholly and exclusively above this corporeal world of material beings?
Or is He both transcendent and immanent, as held by the mystical
schools:  both above or "surrounding" the world, and present therein,
indwelling, "filling the world," immanent, being Himself the very stuff
of creation?  This latter view differs from pantheism in that Gd is
never present ONLY within the world, and is not identified with Nature,
but is both present within and simultaneously greater, beyond,
transcendent that world.  Philosophers of religion describe this
position as "panentheism":  i.e., everything is within Gd, but He is not
defined, limited by the world, but is beyond it.  To cite just one
source:  "He is the place of the world, but the world is not His place"
(Genesis Rabbah 68.9).  In our day, Rav Kook was one of the better known
proponents of this view.
     The idea of the soul being "a portion of the divine, literally," is
one expression of such a view, and is a perfectly legitimate one within
Judaism--and I understand it as being intended literally (but see
below).  The sense is that the Divine presence is manifested within
every human being -- or, according to some, within every Jew -- through
the soul.
     A very similar view is expressed by Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, who
speaks in many places in Sefer Hakuzari, the classic early medieval
"apologia" of Judaism, of the "inyan elohi," the Divine element within
the Jew, which facilitates prophecy, etc.

    3.  One last imprtant point:  Mordecai mentions that "Others said
that it was not to be taken literally. I tend to take things literally
though, so that did not find favor in my eyes..."  But if you believe in
an incorporeal, transcendent Gd, you have to become accustomed to
metaphorical, symbolic modes of discourse.  Religious language, almost
by its nature, must be non-literal, because it deals with matters that
are far too subtle and removed from our tangible experience for us to
comprehend them as they are in any simple way.  Hence Scripture,
midrashim, etc. use various indirect forms of language to convey their
message.  This is in fact the central message of the First Book of
Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed!

    Rav Yehonatan Chipman

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From: Caela Kaplowitz <caelak@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 21:50:48 -0500
Subject: Falafel, mashed potatoes and peanut butter

According to the "Laws of Brachos" by Rabbi Binyamin Forst (Artscroll)
the chickpeas in falafel are chopped up and not finely ground (True,
I've made them from scratch. The chickpeas are not even cooked
first. You soak them overnight and chop them up raw)and therefore are
Ha'adama instead of Shehakol. However this explanation does not explain
why mashed potatoes are also Ha'adama instead of Shehakol. Even smooth
and creamy peanut butter is Ha'adama and you can't say that it's not
finely ground.

Caela Kaplowitz
Baltimore, MD

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From: J.B. Frank <jbfrank@...>
Subject: Kiddush Halevonah

I was just wondering is the mekor (source) for the minhag of Kiddush
HaLevonah and the making of a brocha on it. I know the Tanna Debei Rabbi
Yishmoel (Ilmolei Lo Zachu, etc.) we say at the end of the Kiddush
HaLevonah, but are there any other sources?

Also, does anyone have a satisfactory explanation on the inyan of Miyoot
Halevonah?

I would greatly appreciate any input.

Best regards,

Jechezkel Frank, Johannesburg

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From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 13:30:03 +0200
Subject: Maot Hittin

Adar, 5762

Dear Friends,

 The State of Israel is fighting a war against terrorist organizations
who aim to wipe us off the map, God forbid.  This war has been going on
since Rosh Hashana, 5671, and not a day passes without an attempt being
made on the lives of innocent people.   Many of these attempts are
"successful," and about these you read in the newspaper.

 Aside from the tragic loss of life of soldiers and civilians (often the
breadwinners of their families), fighting the war is causing a large drain on
our material resources.  The tourist industry is close to collapse, and many
other industries are not doing much better.  Large plants are closing down,
throwing people out of work, and the unemployment rate is sharply up.

 Now that Pesach is around the corner, the Kupat Ezer, more than in
the past, is inundated with requests--appeals--for assistance. This year,
helping the poor celebrate Pesach with the basic needs is an extra mitzvah:
showing Jewish solidarity and resistance to terror.

 As in the past, you can make your check out to Kupat Ezer, and send
it to the address below or to me:

Mark Steiner
23 Kovshei Katamon Street
Jerusalem, ISRAEL

 All of your contributions, with no overhead, will go directly to
helping poor Jews purchase their Passover basics.  On behalf of the poor of
Jerusalem, thank you.

    Mark Steiner
    For the Kupat Ezer

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From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 18:08:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Sifrei Kodesh

Sorry if I'm rehashing an old issue, but I searched in the mail-jewish
archives and couldn't find anything.  I recall seeing a huge array of
sources on the subject once.

Is "sifrei kodesh" an instance of smichut (i.e., books of the holy) or a
grammatical mistake (holy books)?  When I mentioned this on
soc.culture.jewish someone mentioned "baal koreh" as a mistake (instead
of "baal kriah"), but lashon hakodesh seems to be "language of the holy"
(though it could well be a mistake instead of halashon hakodesh).

Someone else pointed out tallis katan (instead of tallit ketana) ---
either "young person's tallis" or a mistake.

Thanks for help,

Janet

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From: <Danmim@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 19:51:43 EST
Subject: Source Request

searching for the sources;
1 may a father recite at the the bat mitzvah of his daughter the bracha 
'shapitrani' with shem and malcus.
2 where do we find the lashon for the bracha we recite for our daughters on 
friday nights as we do with our sons.
 thank you

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From: Moshe Kinderlehrer <mkinderlehrer@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 22:19:04 -0500
Subject: Subject: Neshomos (souls) of Children with Down's Syndrome

Mordechai,

There are a number of sources where the ideas you mentioned are
contained. For an English language source which contains virtually all
of the ideas you mentioned, I recommend the book by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz
entitled "Special Child Special Parent" which is based on his earlier
1996 Hebrew sefer entitled "Chinuch Hameyuchad Bi'r'iy Hayahadus"

As for the sources themselves, he brings down the accounts of the Chazon
Ish and the Steipler standing in the presence of developmentally
disabled people. He also makes reference to the "many many biurim of the
kabbalistic debates as to whether they are gilgulim of tzadikkim or the
gilgulim of ordinary people". And there are many others, including the
Maharal, the Ramban. However, there are not that many explicit
references to early sources on this exact topics (a lot of supporting
gemaros, pesukim though) .

Another source to check out is the Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah Chelek Gimel
Siman 131.

I hope this helps.

Moshe Kinderlehrer

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End of Volume 35 Issue 95