Volume 36 Number 35
                 Produced: Mon May 27  9:09:20 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Good Reason for calling Sefer Shmuel, Shmuel
         [Russell Hendel]
Lecture e-mail announcement
         [Joseph Mosseri]
Rashi and Ruach HaKodesh
         [Andrew Klafter]
Rashi and Ruach Hakodesh (2)
         [Milton Polinsky, Israel Rosenfeld]
Ruach Hakodesh
         [Israel Rosenfeld]
"Thanksgiving" Berachot in Amidah
         [Michael J. Savitz]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 22:41:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: A Good Reason for calling Sefer Shmuel, Shmuel

There have been about a dozen postings on WHY IS SEFER SHMUEL CALLED
SHMUEL (v36n20-30). It has been correctly pointed out that the division
into two books is not Jewish.

But this does not answer the reworded question: >Why did chazal, when
they canonized the Tnach group the stories in Samuel 1 and 2 into one
book<. In other words: What is the unifying theme of this book? Could
this theme be divided into 2 books?  Could the book have been named
after someone else (eg David,Chana?)

The simple answer is that Jewish history has the anomaly that one Kings
reign (Saul) was PERMANANTLY rescinded while another Kings reign (David)
was TEMPORARILY rescinded (Part of it was given to the Israelite

To prevent future strife it would therefore be very important to record
the fact the permanant rescinding of Sauls monarchy from the tribe of
Benyamin was done under prophetic order.  Hence the stories of Saul and
David form a natural unit(The two books cover the reigns of Saul and
David: Kings deals with the reign of all other kings).

A further reason for combining the stories of Saul and David is that
without this combination, Samuel, who was a great prophet, would be
perceived as a failure(After all Saul failed) The Book(s) of Samuel-1,2
end with the 2 moving victory and vision Psalm-Prayers of David (2S22
and 2S23-01:07). Thus, so to speak, the Book of Samuel, now has a Happy
ending since Samuel is seen as establishing BY PROPHETIC ORDER, the
Davidic dynasty.

Finally we come to the issue of alternate names. Note that books in the
prophets are always named by themes (Judges, Kings, the 12) or by
prophets. Hence we could not name the book Chanah (as Janet suggested)
since she was not one of the 7 public prophetesses. We could
theoretically have called Samuel 1, Samuel and Samuel 2,David, but a
constant theme in Samuel 2 is that David failed propheticlly (He asked,
according to the Talmud to be tested AGAINST PROPHETIC ADVICE, and
sinned by having Uriah killed; similarly he erred in the census).

I think the above gives a sound reason for the naming

Russell Jay Hendel;http://www.rashiYomi.Com/(Now Hebrew Enabled)


From: Joseph Mosseri <JMosseri@...>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 00:25:32 -0400
Subject: Lecture e-mail announcement 

The Center for Sephardic Heritage Presents:
A Public Lecture

The Ornament of the World:
How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in
Medieval Spain

Professor Maria Rosa Menocal
Director, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University

Professor Menocal is the author of many books and studies on the culture
and literature of Medieval Spain including her latest book The Ornament
of the World (Little, Brown publishers).  We will have copies of the book
for sale at the lecture.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002
8:30 p.m.

Congregation Beth Torah
1061 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, New York


From: Andrew Klafter <KLAFTEAB@...>
Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 07:56:47 -0400
Subject: Rashi and Ruach HaKodesh

There has been enjoyable and spirited discussion on the question of
whether Rashi wrote with Ruach ha-Kodesh.  There are certain facts,
however, which might narrow the scope of our disagreements with one

1. The Shnei Luchot Ha-Brit, at the beginning of Shavuot (paragraph
which starts "Kat Meshugoyim"-page and column varies depending on where
the book was printed), states that Rashi wrote his commentaries to the
Torah and Talmud with Ruach Ha Kodesh.  The significance of this is that
poeple nowadays who claim that Rashi wrote with Ruach Ha Kodesh may rely
on the Sh'LaH as an authority.

2. There is an often quoted opinion in books by Lithuanian kabbalists as
well as by chassidic masters that any book which was universally
accepted throughout klal yisrael as part of the the basic required
staples of Torah learning (e.g. Shulchan Aruch, commentators in Mikraot
Gedolot, etc.) are ALL written with ruach ha kodesh.  (I'm sorry that I
don't have sources at hand for this-i'm at my office.)

3. There is no definitive way to MEASRUE ruach-ha-kodesh.  Therefore,
ruach-ha-kodesh cannot be cited in a debate as evidence that one opinion
is more persuasive than another.  "Ain-lo-le-dayan-ele-mash'roin eainav"
("A judge may use only what his eyes can see").  Therefore, if someone
feels that a book was written with ruach-ha-kodesh, it should not stop
him from asking the same questions he'd ask about something written by a
contemporary, minor scholar.

4. My opinion: If we believe that a certain scholar wrote with
ruach-ha-kodesh, it should inform our Torah study in the following way:
We should assume that outstanding Torah authorities do not make
impulsive, irrational, or uninformed decisions.  If it seesm to us that
there is an obvious argument against a certain scholar's opinion, our
first instinct should be to assume that the scholar in question also was
aware of this potential argument and that there may be an equally
obvious explanation that we have not yet thought of.  Or, the scholar
may have already addressed this in another source.  An example: I am
currently preparing a shiur for shavuos night on mental competency in
halakha, and I will be guiding the group through a teshuva by Moshe
Feinstein, z"l.  I was quite annoyed as I was learning through the
teshuva myself because I felt there was an obvious basis for heter that
Reb Moshe could have relied upon and that much of the impressive
Talmudic inquiry in his teshuva was unnecessary, but I saw that at the
end of the teshuva Reb Moshe he discusses this idea explicitly, shows
some potential problem with my logic, but ultimately endorses the idea
that I had come up with independently.

5. Over time, all who are immersed in torah study develop more and more
respect for the intellectual competence and honesty of Talmidei
Chachamim.  It is not necessary to resort to such notions as
"Ruach-Ha-Kodesh" or "Da'as Torah" when a Torah personality says
something which we find unpersuasive.  We reserve the right, in theory,
to disagree, even with gedolei Torah.  In practice however, we are
reluctant to do so because we know that there are major sources, Torah
concepts, and legal precendents that we are simply unaware of.  It is
safer to say "tzarich-iyun" than "I disagree."

6. One final note: Not every person who writes is a talmid chacham, and
not every opinion deserves our humble deference--but Rashi DOES.

May all Jews accept the Torah this shavuos b'simcha and b'pnimiyus!

Nachum Klafter, MD

From: Milton Polinsky <milton@...>
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 23:00:55 -0400
Subject: Rashi and Ruach Hakodesh

Moshe Idel discusses some interesting sources regarding the origin of
this belief in Rashi's ruach hakodesh in his book, Kabbalah: New
Perspectives, pp. 237 - 239.

He quotes a Kabbalistic work, Sefer ha-Meshiv, written during the
generation preceding the expulsion from Spain, which says(Idel's
translation with some summarization and comment):

When you pronounce the secret of the great name, immediately the force
of the "garment" will descend downward, which is the secret of Elijah,
who is mentioned in the works of the sages(i.e.  Eliyahu was able to
traverse this world and above by donning a garment when he came down to
this world).

And by this R. Simeon bar Yohai, and Jonathan ben Uzziel learned their
wisdom and they were deserving of of the secret of the "garment"", to be
dressed in it.  R. Hanina and R. Nehunia ben ha-Kaneh and R. Akiva and
R.  Ishmael ben Elisha and our holy rabbi[R. Judah the Prince] and Rashi
and many others [learned] likewise.  And the secret of the garment is
the vision of the garment, which the angel of God is dressed in, with a
corporeal eye, and it is he who is speaking to you....And the secret of
the garment was given to those who fear God and meditate upon his name;
they have seen it, those men who are the men of God were worthy of this
state.  They fasted forty days continuously and pronounced the
Tetragrammaton forty-five times and on the fortieth day the garment
descended to him and showed him whatever he wished to know and it stayed
with him until the completion of the subject he wanted toknow; and they
(Elijah and the garment) were staying with him day and night. Thus it
was done in the days of Rashi to his master, and the later taught
him(Rashi) this secret(of the garment) and by means of it(the secret) he
(Rashi) composed whatever he composed, by the means of his mentor and
instructor.  Do not believe that Rashi wrote this down from his own
reason, for he did it by the secret of the garment of the angel and the
secret mnemotechnics, to explain the questions one is asking or to
compose a book, and thus were all the sciences copied, one by one...And
this happened in the days of the Talmud and in the days of Rashi's
master and in the days of Rashi, too, since his master began this usage
and Rashi ended it.  This is the reason all the sages of Israeel relied
on Rashi. Therefore, do not ever believe that Rashi composed his
commentary on the Talmud or the Bible out of his reason, but by means of
this force of the secret of the garment, and that force which dressed
it, which is an angel, since by means of it he could know and compose
whatever he wished....

According to Idel, other authors reiterated this mystical perception of
Rashi, such as, Gallya Raza, R. Simeon ibn Lavi and R. Gedaliah ibn
Yahya, and later the Baal Shem Tov.

Kol tuv,
Elimelekh Polinsky

From: Israel Rosenfeld <israel.rosenfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 17:53:16 +0200
Subject: Re: Rashi and Ruach Hakodesh

Seek and thou shalt find:

So as to back up my claim to the greatness of Rashi Hakadosh, I decided
to look for help.

I called a Gadol BaTorah to ask and his answer was: "Why, everyone knows that!"

HR"HG Sheer Yashuv Hacohen, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa writes that it is
brought in the Shelah Hakadosh (Amsterdam, 5458) 181a.

I "popped" the question to HR"HG Tzvi Cheshin of Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalaim.
As a true Yerushalmi, he got very excited (I am doing my best to
understate his REAL reaction) and raised his voice while despairing how
people could even THINK of such a question...

Then he concluded by quoting the Gr"a who says that Rashi Hakadosh on
Chumash starts with an aleph, ends with a taf, and has a mem exactly in
the middle. The Gr"a concludes from this that Rashi Hakadosh was written
with Ruach Hakodesh.

Behatzlacha raba.


From: Israel Rosenfeld <israel.rosenfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 20:24:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Ruach Hakodesh

> From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
> Israel stated catagorically (and further eloborated in response to my
> comment that it is basically an element of belief for him, a fully
> acceptable response, from my perspective) that Rashi wrote his
> commentary using Ruach Hakodesh. My question was what method was used
> to determine that statement.

Very simple. Both the Gr"a and the Baal-Shem-Tov are acceptable to me in
questions of belief. They both endorse the Ari Za"l.  The Ari Za"l says
Rashi Hakadosh had Ruach Hakodesh.  Therfore, I believe that Rashi
Hakadosh had Ruach Hakodesh.

> One possibly obvious response is that someone could say that he was
> informed via Ruach Hakodesh that some other event occured via Ruach
> Hakodesh. Would that statement have any validity, and if yes, why?

IMHO, anyone has the right to say it, as long as he doesn't expect me to
believe him.

> In response to a few posters who point out that from the aspect of
> halacha we have the principle of 'lo bashamayim he', then the question
> that comes up is what practical difference does it make whether or not
> Rashi wrote his commentary via Ruach Hakodesh. If you say that this
> applies only to halacha and not parshanut, then how can Ramban, Ibn
> Ezra etc disagree with Rashi if they accept that his commentary was
> written with Ruach Hakodesh.

AFAIK, there is no practical difference. I call him Rashi Hakadosh out
of recognition (, respect, fear, awe, etc.) of the fact, not because
it's "practical".

As stated by others, 'lo bashamayim he' settles the question of halacha,
and "shivim panim latorah" settles the question of parshanut.

> In the end, as is probably obvious, I see no compelling theological
> reason to subscribe to that belief, while seeing several pitfalls in
> that approach. 

As I stated above, the beliefs of the Ari Za"l, the Gr"a and the
Baal-Shem-Tov are a very compelling theological reason.

Behatzlacha raba.


From: Michael J. Savitz <michaelj@...>
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 23:37:08 -0400
Subject: "Thanksgiving" Berachot in Amidah

I have often heard and read that the basic structure of Jewish prayer is
praise-petition-thanksgiving, and thus the first 3 berachot of the
Amidah are berachot of praise, the middle 13 (on weekdays) are of
petition, and the last 3 are of thanksgiving.

But of the last 3, how do Retzei and Sim Shalom/Shalom Rav, constitute
"thanksgiving"?  (Accept our prayer, restore the service of the Beit
Hamikdash, etc.; grant us peace, good, blessing, etc.)  Why are these
not "petition"?


End of Volume 36 Issue 35