Volume 38 Number 09
                 Produced: Mon Dec 23 20:44:16 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Everyone Can become a Gadol IF they make sacrifices
         [Stan Tenen]
Giving Charity to Non Worthy
         [Russell J Hendel]
Moshe Rabbenu and the AriZal
         [Zev Sero]
Political Correctness
         [Gil Student]
Standing for Bride and Groom
         [Joel Rich]
Standing for the Choson and Kallah


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 08:27:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Everyone Can become a Gadol IF they make sacrifices

>From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
>I think there is room for a serious thread here (With much
>disagreement).  I think we SHOULD publicize the fact that everyone can
>become a Gadol IF they want to give everything up.

While formally true, this is a very dangerous idea IMO.  The problem is
that people who are truly humble _never_ act this way, and yet humble
people are often closer to gedolim than the rest of us.

And it's not that a gedol needs to be humble -- far from it, a gedol
needs to speak up.  But a gedol never does so -- never appoints
themselves a gedol -- on their own authority.

Yes, of course, it is possible for a politically driven and ambitious
person such as Golda Meir to "storm the gates of the Knesset", but it is
never appropriate for any self-appointed genius to try to "storm the
gates of Heaven" by dint of their will alone.

In fact, the idea of a person of "super-will" is a fundamentally
Nietzchian idea that was co-opted by the facists.

All of us need to work wholeheartedly and flat-out to accomplish
anything to the best of our ability.  But working on "being a gedol" by
dint of will is in my opinion an emotional error of enormous

Moshe had to be convinced -- essentially, ordered -- by God to take up a
leadership position.  That's the only way a person gets to be a true
gedol.  If a person decides for themselves that they're a gedol, that's
egomania.  And if a person allows the crowd to elect them, that's
politics.  There are gedolim of ego, and there are gedolim of politics,
but these are not gedolim in the true sense.

It seems to me that Russell is confusing what it takes to succeed in
society with what it takes to be really great.  Hard work is necessary
for greatness, but greatness is only given by God, and it's not
necessarily related to what we consider to be hard work.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 23:21:09 -0500
Subject: RE: Giving Charity to Non Worthy

In v37n99 David Yehuda Shabtai makes a statement
>     This raises a clear question firstly and most obviously about
> tzedakah - that if a person is not 'worthy,' or poor enough, to receive
> tzedakah then one accomplishes no mitzvah by doing so.  Secondly, it
> raises a question in general, as to how mitzvot are defined by criteria
> that we do not control.   

I just wanted to make explicit that the laws of charity are found both
in the Shulchan Aruch as well as in the Rambam, laws of gifts to the
poor towards the end. Jewish law in fact addresses the interesting
questions raised by David.

It is made clear there that ANY PERSON REQUESTING charity is immediately
given a small amount. If he meets POVERTY criteria then he is given

Thus David is correct about a POVERTY requirement for charity.But David
is incorrect about a WORTHNESS requirement. Any Jew who believes in God
and attaches himself to the community has a RIGHT to charity.  (This is
similar in American law to the difference between Social Security
Medicare and Medicaid. ROughly speaking certain types of benefits do NOT
have requirements while other types of benefits do(eg certain benefits
require a person to have worked, certain benefits require a poverty
status while other benefits are absolute).

The philosophical question as to why we receive so much merit for giving
to charity despite the fact that the person may not be worthy was
answered by Yehuda Landy citing Rav Yoel Schwartz.

Russell Jay Hendel; P.hd.;http://www.RashiYomi.com/


From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 15:32:41 -0500
Subject: Moshe Rabbenu and the AriZal

I wrote:

> the AriZal understood Hashem better than Moshe (Moshe knew Hashem from
> direct experience, the AriZal knew Him only from books and words, but
> he understood more from that learning than Moshe did - as Chazal said,
> `a wise person is better than a prophet'), 

This got several responses.

Ben Sommerfeld <bzls@...> asked:
> Whence your information on this? How do you know the Arizal's
> understanding of Hashem was greater than Moshe's?

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:

> A minor correction. Prophecy MEANS knowing God. Moses was the greatest
> prophet and hence he knew God better than anyone else (including the
> AriZal). Rambam explicitly makes this comment in the laws of foundation
> of the Torah chapter 1.

while <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai) wrote:

> I have trouble with the claim. What is the source for Mr. Sero's claim
> that the Ar"i, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria - who lived less than five hundred
> years ago -'understood Hashem better than Moshe Rabbeinu' ? 

My source is Tanya (Iggeret Hakodesh 19), quoting the AriZal himself (in
Likkutei Torah p Ki Tisa and p Vayikra), explicitly saying that Moshe
Rabbenu's essential understanding was limited to the four lowest sefirot
(Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut), and the external aspects of the
higher sefirot which are contained in the essence of the lower ones, but
he did not understand the essence of the higher sefirot at all.  The
Tanya then points out that the AriZal himself clearly did understand the
essence of the higher sefirot, and explained at length about the essence
of levels even higher than Chochma and Keter of Atzilut, i.e. levels
that he explicitly said Moshe Rabbenu had no understanding of at all.
The Tanya then explains that the essence of the higher aspects cannot be
directly experienced, but can only be understood intellectually, and
therefore Moshe Rabbenu, whose grasp of Hashem came from direct
experience rather than learning, could not reach those levels, while the
AriZal could.  (Think of a professor who knows from books everything
there is to know about elephants, but has never seen one, versus a Thai
peasant who has never read a word about elephants, but has lived with
them all his life.)

Mordechai goes on:
> The accompanying cited teaching of 'chochom odif minovi' (a wise man
> is better than a prophet), does not support the fantastic claim made,
> as it does not mean that every and any wise man is better than any
> prophet, let alone the great Moshe Rabbeinu. All it means is that,
> *at times*, a wise man can be greater than a prophet.

I did not claim that `chacham adif minavi' proves that the AriZal *was*
greater than Moshe Rabbenu in this respect; I quoted it to show that it
is *possible* for a wise person to be greater than a prophet.  Without
actual evidence that the AriZal's understanding *was* greater than Moshe
Rabbenu's, `chacham adif minavi' alone would show nothing.  But since we
have the AriZal's own teaching that Moshe Rabbenu's understanding was
limited to levels far below those that the AriZal himself did
understand, we do have such evidence; `chacham adif minavi' then shows
how this is possible.  The laws of probability don't say that every time
one tosses ten coins they will all come up heads, they merely say that
such a thing is possible; therefore if a trustworthy person claims that
this happened to him, we can believe him.  If it were impossible for ten
coins to all come up heads, then anybody who claimed that it happened
would automatically lose whatever credibility he had before.

Moredechai then goes on:
> I believe some hassidim believe and teach what Zev mentioned, however
> I don't think that it is accepted by Jewry at large.

So?  Lots of things aren't accepted by `Jewry at large'; that doesn't
make them false.  Not to mention that chasidim are a major segment (if
not a majority) of `Jewry at large'.

> A friend who I posed the question to (R. Binyomin Yosef) stated that
> to me in an e-mail that "in the Moreh the Rambam clearly implies that
> that is impossible, because the only way to understand / know HQB'H is
> by n'vu'ah ; see his explanation of "v'ro'iso es ahorai ufonai lo
> yera'u)".

To *know* Hashem, rather than merely intellectually understanding Him,
is by definition Nevuah, and to know Him in the same way that a person
knows a friend is Nevuat Moshe (which is qualitatively different than
Nevuah).  But to *understand* Him all that is necessary is the
intellectual capacity, and a teacher who has this understanding himself.
The AriZal had Eliyahu Hanavi for a teacher; between what he learned
from his living teachers, what he read in books, and what Eliyahu Hanavi
could describe from personal experience, he surely had an excellent
opportunity to achieve a high understanding.  (Again, an example: think
of someone who has read every word that Einstein wrote, and every
biography of him ever printed, but never met the man himself; then think
of Einstein's neighbor, who may have no understanding of physics, but
spoke to the man, observed him and interacted with him every day for
many years.  Who *understands* Einstein better?  Who *knows* him

> I know that such a belief fits in well with the superlative hassidic
> exaltation of the Ar"i - however, not all gedolei Yisroel and Klal
> Yisroel exalted the Ar"i to such an extent, to make him so paramount,
> despite their high regard for him, AFAIK.

And your proof that those others who did not do so were right, and those
who did were wrong?  Perhaps those who knew the teachings of the AriZal
were correct in their assesment of his greatness, while those who
remained ignorant of them were wrong in discounting what they had heard?
Merely pointing out that something isn't universally agreed on isn't a
proof of anything.

> Also, re the fourth person mentioned, Moshiach, it was stated that
> he will teach Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu. My aforementioned friend,
> however, countered with 'how could he? Moshe Rabbeinu will not see
> y'mos haMoshiach, since, according to the Rambam, the Moshiach will
> be well before t'hiyyas haMeisim and after t'hiyyas hamesim, who says
> that he will ?'

It is written in many places that certain people will come back before
the general Resurrection, including Moshe and Aharon, who will come back
immediately upon Moshiach's arrival, or even perhaps slightly before it.
(BTW, where does the Rambam say that the Resurrection will be `well
after' Moshiach's coming?  And how long is `well after' anyway?)

Zev Sero


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 13:21:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Political Correctness

Eli Turkel wrote:
>Besides listing R. Soloveitchik as head of the Bet Bet in Boston and
>ignoring any mention of YU he points out that many of the divrei Torah
>appeared in Mesorah and even works written by RYBS himself in Moriah.

I believe that R. Shurkin wrote some, perhaps many, of the articles in
the early issues of Mesorah.

>He also makes a big deal over the spelling, in Hebrew, of Soolveitchik,
>which I didn't really agree with.

I believe that R. Hershel Schachter also makes a big deal out of the
spelling of the name Soloveitchik, preferring the Yiddish version over
the Hebrew.

Gil Student


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 08:32:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Standing for Bride and Groom

> Growing up, I don't recall ever seeing the participants at a chupah
> standing when the choson and kallah walk down the aisle.  It seems to be
> obligatory nowadays.  What is the reason? 

historically you're correct, the real reason now is that you'd be
labelled an am haaretz for not doing it (in the same manner perhaps as
one who points out that the requirement to stand when the aron kodesh is
open is much less clear than the requirement to stand when the torah is
in motion yet people would stone you for sitting with the aron open
unless you're sick but have no problem sitting on simchat torah when the
torah is in motion) 

> It can't be that the choson is a melech or the kallah is a malkah,
> because that honor is only given to them after the chuppah.

I don't think chazal ever say that the kallah is like a queen, just that
the chatan is like a king for certain purposes. Others have posited that
it's because they are on their way to do a mitzvah (similar to those who
went to Jerusalem to bring bikkurim) 

> Proof of this is that tachanun is said if the choson is attending
> shacharis right before his chatuna.  Also, standing is apparently not
> an issue that we are careful about after the chuppah, so why before?
> A more important issue was raised by Rabbi Rothwachs of Teaneck who
> asked why those standees will then sit when the elderly grandparents
> walk down?  There is a d'oraysa of mipnei seiva tokum that is being
> ignored.

Please give my regards to Rabbi R, we discussed this issue a number of
times during his sojourn in West Orange.  There may be issues from a
technical standpoint of how close(in feet) you are to the individuals
but if you are standing for the chatan/kallah it does make sense to
stand for the grandparents.  If you want to do a really interesting
sociological study, see who stands for which Rabbi when they are called
to the chuppah! 

Joel Rich


From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 21:07:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Standing for the Choson and Kallah

I am in my 40's and can remember weddings back in the early '70s. I
always recall standing for the Kallah, but don't recall standing for the
Choson. I've been to a couple of weddings past few years and don't
recall any standing for the Choson.

And yes, I was told Kallah=malka and had the same question as you - but
she isn't yet!?



End of Volume 38 Issue 9