Volume 36 Number 05
                 Produced: Wed Mar 13  5:18:40 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birkat Cohanim
         [Akiva Miller]
Birkat Kohanim
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Cheleck Eloka Me'maal (2)
         [Netanel Livni, Stan Tenen]
Neshomos (souls) of Children with Down's Syndrome - another angle
         [Stan Tenen]
Parshat Zachor (2)
         [Joel Rich, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 23:34:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Birkat Cohanim

Mark Symons asked <<< In the phrase Am K'doshecha Ka'amur, does Ka'amur
qualify Am K'doshecha - Your holy people, as it is said - which is what
it sounds like when the kahal recite this as a phrase immediately after
the chazan calls out Cohanim - but why is it necessary to add Ka'amur?

Ben Katz answered <<< In Sidur Rav Sadia Gaon the language is "kohanay am
kedoshecha ka-amur" with the phrase Mr. Symons is troubled by modifying
the priests, not standing alone.  It seems to me this girsa makes the
most sense and obviates the difficulties posed. >>>

I don't see how this text solves anything.

The word "ka-amur" is always followed by a quote which supports the idea
which had preceded the "ka-amur". This is most commonly seen in all the
various versions of Musaf, which talk *about* the Korban Musaf, and then
say "kaamur -- as it is said:" followed by the source of the korban in
the Torah.

So too by the text which the chazan says when there is not any duchaning
in shul: (paraphrasing for brevity) "HaShem, please give us the bracha
which should be given by the Kohanim, Your holy people, as it is said,
'Yivarech'cha...' " (Or, according to Rav Sadia Gaon, "... by the
Kohanim of Your holy people...)

But when you pluck these words out of context, it loses all
meaning. "The Kohanim [of] Your holy people, as it is said!" I don't get

Akiva Miller


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 08 Mar 2002 15:24:04 +0200
Subject: Birkat Kohanim

A while back there was a discussion on whether Kohanim should
be congratulated when descending the Duchan and then, to complicate
the issue, what response do they reply.

Well, recently, I've taken to telling them "Avodah Tova" which can
easily mean "good job done" or

Yisrael Medad


From: Netanel Livni <n_livni@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2002 11:03:35 -0800
Subject: RE: Cheleck Eloka Me'maal

Neil Normand Wrote:

>The fact that we have a relationship with G-d, and the existence of
>Hashgacha is completely independent of the nature of G-d as being one
>of inherent unity. G-d can be immanent(Tehilim, in Ashrei, KAROV
>him, yet our souls are not part of his essence. The argument which states 
>that which is inherently one cannot have any parts is a simple and basic 
>one.  Midrashim are not meant to be understood literally, and should not be 
>taken in a vacuum to determine fundamentals of our religion.

I agree which what you say about midrashim.  Obviously their purpose is
not to be taken literally.  However, the mystical tradition interprets
them differently than the rationalist one.

As far as what you wrote on hashgacha.  In a pure sense, G-d being
involved in this world necessarily compromises our perception of his
unity.  same as 'chelek Eloak mimaal' might compromise our perception
but not G-d's actual unity C"V.

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Subject: Re: Cheleck Eloka Me'maal

Netanel Livni wrote:
>Neil Normand Wrote:
> >Your assertion that "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" is, in my opinion, incorrect
> >and goes against a basic tenet of Judaism, the unity of G-d.
>While the Rambam might very well find the concept of 'Chelek Eloak
>Mimaal' objectionable.  That does not mean that this idea contradicts
>the unity of G-d.  The idea that G-d is both transcendent and immanent
>precedes the Rambam and can be found in many midrashim.  The Rambam
>himself admits at some level to this paradox since he never takes a
>'deist' approach to theology.  The Rambam admits that G-d is involved in
>this world, a fact that greek philosophers believed can not coexist with
>a totally transcendent G-d.  The Rambam just seems to draw the line
>where where G-d's immanence stops at a different point than the mystical
>tradition does.

The confusion arises -- as Netanel points out -- because of the
difference between our view of God as Transcendent, and our view of God
as Immanent.

In fact, this confusion extends to other religions, and has led to a
good deal of misunderstanding.

For example, Mormons teach that we humans will all eventually grow up to
become like god, and that god started out like us.  When I first heard
this, I thought it was ridiculous.  But now, I realize it's due to this
same misunderstanding between the meaning of the words "Lord" (YH-VH)
and "God" (Elokim), and between the Transcendent and the Immanent.

We run into a good deal of problems with the Moslem model, because in
English, we're confused about words like "one", "only", and "God".
Moslems use the name "Allah" and they don't seem to distinguish between
Hashem and Elokim.  "Allah" is an analog of Elokim, but not an analog of
Hashem.  This is hard for us to understand, because of the way we
usually understand the Sh'ma.  After all, Hashem-Elokim = Echod.  So, we
don't appear to distinguish between these names.  But in fact, we do.
In the Moslem context, the declaration that there is only One God, is
what adds in the "Hashem" aspect.  It's included in the word "One", and
this is the key to the problem.

When we say there is only One God, we mean two different things.  We
mean that Hashem and Elokim are the same, One; but we are referring only
to the singular, infinite, Transcendent aspect of Hashem -- not to the
all-inclusive aspect designated by Elokim.

The connection is simple geometrically.  Hashem is utterly Singular,
like the mathematician's delta function.  This is the Transcendent
aspect.  Elokim refers to the same Singularity, but spread out as the
one-Whole _spectrum_ of All-There-Is.  It's in this spectrum that each
of the frequency components -- us, that is -- are all included.  Thus,
there is a multiple of us little "ones" included in the Big One, from
the perspective of Immanence.

This also shows up in our dichotomous association with God.  We have
Yirat Hashem (because God is a Single Lord above us), and we have Ahavat
Elokim because we are lovingly included in All-There-Is.

Likewise, our free will and conscious volition feel to us to descend
from a single deep Fountain in our minds.  This is the Transcendent
nature of Hashem, who as a Lord grants us free will.  Our choices, the
elements of our volition, come in _single_ units.  You can't make half a
choice.  This is the operational effect on our lives of the Singularity
of the One-Transcendent Source of all consciousness.  (One Source leads
to one choice at any one time.)

We act with our autonomous free will, as agents among many others who
also have autonomous free will.  We act in the immanent world, which all
together is identified with "All-There-Is," or in other words, Elokim.
To put it another way, the word Hashem represents the One One, while the
word Elokim represents the Whole One.  It's a geometric play on words.
The One One is the point in a circle, while the Whole One is the whole
of the circle.  Both are utterly singular, but one is exclusive, and the
other inclusive.  One is transcendent, and the other is immanent.  (So
to speak.)

Strangely, we don't talk much about our own "wave-particle duality" with
regard to the One.  We don't often distinguish between YH-VH and Elokim,
even when we probably should, because we're afraid that that would imply
that we think there are "two gods".  The duality that we experience
(including the wave-particle duality we experience in quantum weirdness)
is an aspect of _our_ limitation, not a quality that interferes with the
Utter Singularity of Hashem-Elokim.  (The math regarding the delta
function parallels and demonstrates this exactly.)

I believe we could end a good deal of our own confusion on some matters
of Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah, and could clear up an enormous level of
confusion in a number of other traditions that also live on our
Abrahamic tree, by getting back to basics.  There's nothing more basic
in Judaism than the Sh'ma, and we should not only notice its
identification of Hashem-Elokim as Echod, but also its use of two
different words -- Hashem and Elokim -- and we should not fear that our
precise use of these two different words, separately, in different
appropriate contexts, in any way implies that God is dual.

If we're going to get along with other faiths that have confused this
issue, we need to make an example of how to properly understand this,

Immanence and Transcendence go together, but they're not the same.  Put
simply, immanence is whole, and transcendence is singular.

The only place where I disagree with Netanel is with regard to the idea
that God's Immanence stops at all.  A better way to think of the
immanence -transcendence issue is as an analogous to the wave-particle
paradox.  The idea is that complementarity is not negation, but rather,
the very essence of identification.  An electron is _always_ wavelike
and particle-like, depending on how we approach it.  So, too, us.  So,
too, our view of Hashem-Elokim.

Good Shabbos.



From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 23:43:27 EST
Subject: Neshomos (souls) of Children with Down's Syndrome - another angle

Recently I posted a query on the above topic (re what is the source for
the belief of some that such people have special, highly elevated

Without getting into the issue of the correctness of the idea, I have
been alerted to another important consideration - namely, even if such
an idea is a legitimate view within Torah Judaism, nevertheless, should
it be publicized and promulgated far and wide, to one and all, or
perhaps it should not be widely publicized.

Arguments that can be made for the latter position are 1) traditionally,
Kabbalistic matters were not discussed by the masses, being reserved for
more private dissemination of a more limited nature (at least among
non-hassidic Ashkenazim) and 2) it could have negative side effects,
along the lines of a letter I received
    ............. text follows.......(slightly edited)

'I'm in special education, and am often exposed to similar ideas. I'm
especially interested in down's syndrome........

Without getting into kabballah, which I have no pretensions to truly
understanding, I deal with this topic on a practical level.

There is a Rav in Yerushalayim who gives extensive lectures on all
children with special needs as being a gilgul of a neshama with special
characteristics.  Most of the academics who deal with special kids have
very negative feelings about him and others who speak similarly, mainly
because it often causes the child to be elevated to the extent that he
need not learn, need not be obedient, need not be toilet trained,
etc. as who can dare to reprimand a special, highly elevated neshama."

To close, I will state that what we see here is that ideas that can seem
good on the surface, sometimes can have serious negative side effects -
and they must be considered.



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Subject: Re: OU BACON

Rabbi Yisroel Finman wrote:
>Although a small amount of fat is needed during the process of recucing
>tree sap into viable syrup, no reputable kashruth organization allows
>the use of lard.The word BACON on the bottom of the Trader Joe's brand
>maple syrup has nothing to do with the ingredients. It is the name of
>the manufacturer of the plastic container.


This is my guess also.  The only problem is, the word "BACON" is in
simple, large block letters without any association with a logo or
address, while other manufacturer's mold markings are usually in a logo
typeface (and/or contain some sort of address).

My posting was not a critique, nor any sort of question, with regard to
the integrity of the OU.  It was a "Purim-dik" observation that here we
have a prominent and legitimate OU on a food product, only an inch or
two from the word "BACON" which on a food product has got to be a
suspicious anomaly.

It's one of those sort of anomalies that's sometimes called a "bar bet"
(though I've never really been in a bar): what legitimate food product
labeled "BACON" has an OU?  It's a joke-question.  The question itself
is supposed to make us smile.

Thanks for confirming the plausible answer.

Now, answer the hard question: How come this silliness hasn't been
noticed before? <smile>

Be well.  Good Shabbos.



From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 05:29:38 EST
Subject: Re: Parshat Zachor

> benjamin dreyfus wrote
> "The obligation to hear Parshat Zachor (Deut 25:17-19) comes from the
> commandment to "remember Amalek".  From where is it derived that this
> obligation is in effect once a year, rather than once a day, one per
> lifetime (like brit milah), etc.?"

IIRC the Rambam holds it is a daily mitzvah - see the "6 rememberances" 
printed in many prayerbooks.

Joel Rich

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahem@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2002 21:46:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Parshat Zachor

> The obligation to hear Parshat Zachor (Deut 25:17-19) comes from the
> commandment to "remember Amalek".  From where is it derived that this
> obligation is in effect once a year, rather than once a day, one per
> lifetime (like brit milah), etc.?
> Benjamin W Dreyfus             <dreyfus@...>

At a shiur recently I learned that there is one posek (Chasam Sofer?)
[sorry, my memory is leaking just now] who actually holds that the main
mitzvah was once a lifetime.  As a result, the first Parshas Zachor of a
Bar Mitzvah is extremely special.  As far as the concept of once a year,
that is from the idea that after one year, a human "forgets" the
original intensity of emotion caused by an event.  Thus, one must
"relive" the attack by Amalek every year just as one must relive Yetzias
Mitzrayim in order to fulfill the mitzva of "Zachor".

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
<sabbahem@...>, Sabba.Hillel@verizon.net


End of Volume 36 Issue 5