Volume 36 Number 40
                 Produced: Fri May 31  6:29:52 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

3 days before Shavuot
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman]
Adam as Prophet: Rambam: Prophecy (Eden) as Vision
         [Avi Rabinowitz]
         [Solomon Spiro]
The First Jew (2)
         [Michael Kahn, Barry Best]
Non-Jewish prophets (2)
         [chihal, Shimon Lebowitz]
Rashi and Ruach HaKodesh
         [Stan Tenen]
Scientific American
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 22:33:26 +0300
Subject: Re: 3 days before Shavuot

    I had written earlier about this thread, somewhat flippantly, but
the original questioner, Michael J. Savitz, wrote me off line to point
out that he was not advocating the practice, but that his question "was
out of curiosity, not a search for a new chumra!"

      So, on that level, two further points:

     1) To the best of my knowledge, there is no such humra or hiddur
suggested for the three "days of hagbalah," certainly not in any
standard halakhic sources.  I also checked Agnon's "Atem R'item," a
sweet little book of midrashim about Ma'amad Har Sinai as well as
customs of Shavuot, arranged by the verses of Exod 19-20, and found
nothing on the verse in question to suggest such a practice.

    2) Regarding Hag Hashavuot itself, Steven White recently raised the
questiosn of sexual abstinence (in v36n38).  I do recall once seeing in
some sefer* a discussion from whish it follows that, according to a
Kabbalistic approach, it comes out that it is inapproriate to engage in
marital relations on almost all of the major hagim, at least on the
first night of each respective yomtov (which is all that has interested
these many decades, as a Ben Eretz Yisrael).  On Rosh Hashana because of
the fear and awe of Yom Hadin; on Simhat Torah because it is a kind of
day of mystical zivvug between KBH and Israel; on Seder night because it
is leil shimmurim; on both 7th of Pesah and Shavvuot because of the
custom among at least some people of all-night learning on both
occasions.  On Sukkot the mitzvah of sleeping in the sukkah can cut both
ways: to preclude marital relations, or as a de facto source of
exemption from sleeping in the sukkah as this would most likely preclude
marital privacy ("mah dirato ish veishto af sukkato..."), not to say
intimacy....  As I recall, all this was brought as no more than an ideal
picture of how "yereim" ought to behave, not as normative in any way.

    * As for the above reference to "some sefer."  I'm an inveterate
browser: I go to a shul or bait midrash or book store, leaf through it
and read a page or two that catvch my eye, and years later may remember
the ideas without having any idea of where I actually saw it.  But if
anyone is really interested in the subject, "Yesod veshoresh ha-Avodah"
and/or "Shela"h Hakodesh" seem a good place to start.

     Interestingly, the Be'er Heitav (on Orah Hayyim 495, sub section
vii, near the end), cites Sefer ha-Kavvanot of R. Hayyim Vital to say
that "leil shavuot assur bezivvug" -- that is, it is forbidden to engage
in marital relations on that night, presumably without any connection to
whether one is learning all night.  But, he adds, if it is leil tevilah
it is permitted.  (interestingly, he doesn't say "mitsvah")

    As for the objection on grounds of bittul simhat yom tov:
paradoxically, even though simhat yom tov is usually thought of as
greater than oneg shabbat in many respects, it doesn't automatically
include all that is in the latter.  Marital sex is mentioned by Rambam
in Hilkhot Shabbat 30.14 as part of Oneg Shabbat (based, per Maggid
Mishneh, on Ketubot 62b), but there is no corresponding mention of it on
yom tov.  One has to buy ones wife new garments or jewelry to make her
happy on yom tov (Hil. Yom Tov 6.17), but there is no formal requirement
to sleep with her.  That is, unless one reads Rambam, ibid,  16, which
equates kavod and oneg of Shabbat with that of Yom Tov, as including
sex.  But he doesn't say so explicitly, and the sources given by the
nosei kelim are also very general, like Beitzah 15b.  Perhasp it has to
do with Shabbat following a regular cycle, and serving as a landmark for
"onat talmidei hakhamim."  It is this lacunum that may have left the
ground open for the kabbalistically minded to disapprove of it, as
contradicting the supernal sanctity of those days.  I don't know.
Anyway, the question invites closer examination.  I think I have
stumbled on an interesting issue for a talmid hakham to write a bi'ur
hilkhati for a Torah journal.

    On the third hand, as they say, it won't be the first time strictly
halakhic and Kabbalistic considerations clash.  See, from a historical
purview, the book by the late Hebrew University historian, Jacob Katz,
"Halakha ve-Kabbalah," although I don't know if he addresses this
specific question.

    Rav Yehonatan Chipman, Yerushalayim


From: Avi Rabinowitz <avirab@...>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 21:05:58 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Adam as Prophet: Rambam: Prophecy (Eden) as Vision

Rambam in the Guide refers to Adam as a prophet, and elsewhere mentions
that all prophecies in the Torah are meant as visions (Moshe Rabbenu had
a special status); I believe one can make a case for the Eden account
and possibly the creation story as a vision.


From: Solomon Spiro <spiro@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 22:48:59 +0300
Subject: Amidah

BSD, sivan 18, May 29

Concerning the question that the gemara states ( meg 17b) the first
three brakhot are praise the last three are gratitude and the middle
ones are petitions, yet we find the last three, retze modim sim shalom,
are also petitions.

The Netiv Binah vol I( ya'acov Jacobson) cites the Shebole Haleket
(buber edition p.26) "regarding the needs of all Israel.. we may state
them even at the end for it is praise to the Master that all Israel must
come to him for their needs." ( free translation)


Concerning the custom of eating knaidlach on aharon shel pesah my father
a"h who did not eat "gebrokts" ( moistened matzoh) told me that it was
to enhance simhat yom tov, since all pesah we "deprived ourselves" of
this delicious food so we allow ourselves this "luxury" on the last day
of pesah shel galut, which is halakhicly only a minhag. Now since there
was a humrah of the chance that there was some unbaked flour on the
matzoh which would ferment when it came into contact with moisture that
would mean one should be consistent and kasher one's kelim after pesah,
for that, he told me the answer was 1) there are many humrot that we
observe but do not extend them to kelim ( bishul beshabbat, kitnyot and
others.  2) there is a year between one pesah and the next--so since
this is just a humarah we adopt the leniency of 12 months vitiating the
taste within the walls of vessels (pogem), a leniency which is not
generally used but resorted to besh'at hadehak--in emergency situations.
Those hasidim who kasher when there is no extra month ( leap year)
maintain that the 12 months must be a full calendar year. In an ordinary
year the days of pesha must be subtracted so there is no 12 full months.

How hasidim living in eretz yisrael who are stringent about "gebrokts"
eat knaidlach is a mystery to me for there is no yom tov sheni shel
galut which would allow this leniency. Perhaps they extend the last day
through tosefet yom tov and base the leniency on it not being truly tom
tov, but even then to anyone extending the holiday in that fashion, all
the humrot apply to him! (There is a debate amont the rishonim if
tosefet yom tov is min hatorah or only midrabban, but in either case it
is like yom tov.)

 kol tuv


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 02:18:45 -0400
Subject: Re: The First Jew

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:
>It would be more accurate to call Jacob the first Jew, since the Jewish 
>nation (the 12 tribes) exclusively descended from him.  Abraham and
>Isaac had children that the Jews did not descend from (Ishmael and
>Eisav).  But the Jews descended from _all_ of Jacob's children.

I disagree.

Avraham Avinu was a Jew. The fact that his son, and the son of Yitzchok
were able to become non-Jews doesn't prove anything. This is because
before Yaakov, the rule of Yisrael af al pi Shechata Yisroel Hu (A
sinning Jew remains a Jew didn't apply) In fact the Gemarah even
describes Esav as a Jew, a Yisroel Mumar, a sinning Jew. Gerim are
called up to the Torah as 'ben Avraham, not Yaakov.

As Rav Hutner explains, Avraham was the first Ger, Yitzchok the first
born Jew, and Yaakov, the first one from whom the rule of Yisrael af al
pi Shechata Yisroel Hu started with his children and continues to our

Yitzchok Kahn

From: Barry Best <barry.h.best@...>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 19:04:53 -0400
Subject: RE: The First Jew

yeshaya halevi asks about shem and ever whether they could in some way
be considered "Jewish".

I forgot the source, but I remember learning a midrash somewhere that in
the "Yeshiva of Shem and Ever", they learned Nashim and Nezikin, which
is why these sedarim are so popular in modern yeshivas.

The reason they learned nashim and nezikin is that since they were not
Jewish, they were only allowed to learn Torah that was related to the
mitzvos they, as b'nay noach (sons of noah, ie, non Jews) were obligated
to perform (found primarily in Nashim and Nezikin).


From: chihal <chihal@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 23:01:03 -0500
Subject: RE: Non-Jewish prophets

Shalom, All:

	David Charlap, responding to my inquiry about non-Jewish prophets, said
<<Adam and Noach definitely spoke with God, and they received
commandments, but they didn't receive prophecies.  At least they didn't
receive any that the Torah records.>>

	But the Torah does record that God told Noah some things which
became true, including advance notice of the flood and God's promise
never to destroy the world with another flood. Indeed, HaZaL (our sages,
of blessed memory) note that Noah dallied 120 years building the Ark, in
the hopes people would ask why he was building and then repent when they
learned of the impending doom.  The former, IMHO, fulfills the
requirements of a prophet: getting a message from God, then telling
others about it to give them a chance to change their conduct.

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 10:42:46 +0200
Subject: Re: Non-Jewish prophets

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:
> Adam and Noach definitely spoke with God, and they received
> commandments, but they didn't receive prophecies.  At least they
> didn't receive any that the Torah records.

Didn't Noach receive a prophecy regarding an expected world-changing
phenomenon, and what to do about it?

I would assume that being told by haShem that the Flood was coming, and
to build a Teiva, would be at least as much prophecy as being told to
take this or that stick, or other actions the Nevi`im were commanded.

In addition, I did not understand your differentiation between the
commandments Noach was told by G-d, and other forms of prophecy. Can you
clarify why these are not prophecies? As we say in the 13 Principles of
Faith by the Ramba"m: "... that the prophecy of Moshe our Teacher is
true...", referring to the Torah. Maybe I misunderstand, but I think
that the Ramba"m's (main) intention here was "the prophecy of Moshe is
true" and therefore we must obey the commandments he recorded, not "his
prophecy is true and therefore we must believe the 'stories' in the

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://shimonl.findhere.org/PGP/


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 07:03:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Rashi and Ruach HaKodesh

>From: David Herskovic <crucible@...>
>Since Rashi himself doesn't tell us that he wrote with ruach hakodesh I
>suppose it's all really speculation and assumptions. However, I'd be
>interested to know what the definition of ruach hakodesh is. Would
>'divine inspiration' be an accurate translation? And if so, is anything
>that couldn't have been produced without divine inspiration, lehavdil,
>if you wish, from ode to joy to any great work of art, a product of
>ruach hakodesh?

Ruach HaKodesh is based on specifics.  It's not just "inspiration".  If
that were the case, as David writes, everything would be a product of
Ruach HaKodesh (which of course is true at some level).

The attainment of Ruach HaKodesh is _a little_ like reaching puberty.
It's an initiatory experience based on internalizing Torah, and it's
related to Rabbi Akiba's Pardes meditation.  You can't get it until you
get it.

Rashi could not comment on the gemara to Ain Dorshin without having had
some sense of this explicit experience.

Persons who have attained Ruach HaKodesh often cannot bring themselves
to believe that they have attained this level, unless they are
explicitly instructed that they have.  This is because great humility is
required.  A person who prides themselves on achievement has gained too
much hubris along the way, and it prevents them from proceeding.  So
often, a person with Ruach HaKodesh would be the last person to think it
or to mention it.

There are many forms of inspiration, some mundane (the Grand Canyon, the
night sky), some extreme (near-death experiences).  But they're not all
the same.  In Torah, it's not appropriate to go one's own way, even if
that would bring a measure of Ruach HaKodesh.  So, the specifications
must be in and/or part of Torah.

Rashi demonstrates by his specific insight that he has tasted of Ruach
HaKodesh.  For the starting "specs" check the Mishna Ain Dorshin.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 22:08:56 +0300
Subject: Re: Scientific American

I suggest the library of the College of Judea and Samaria, in Ariel.

They specifically are looking for books and other items, with no
objection to used ones.  They say that they will pick them up.



End of Volume 36 Issue 40