Volume 38 Number 57
                 Produced: Thu Feb 13  5:17:53 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Becoming a Gadol
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Double Mizmor at Altneushul
         [Howard S. Joseph]
Double Mizmor Shor Leyom Hashabat
         [Joseph Mosseri]
Gedolim - Malbim
         [Eli Turkel]
Holy Places (2)
         [Dick Kleiman, Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Rav Soloveitchik and Menachem Begin
         [Mike Gerver]
Shechiyanu on Shabbat Candles
         [Gershon Dubin]
Shuttle and Torah
Tablet K Hashhgacha
         [Douglas Gershuny]


From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Sun, 09 Feb 2003 22:02:45 +0200
Subject: Re:  Becoming a Gadol

Since Russell Hendel offered a point-by-point refutation of my response
to his posting about becoming a gadol, I would like to respond:

1.  Russell wrote:
<<Jonathan claims I used circular logic when I claimed that since
"All those who accomplished something really great dedicated
themslves singlemindedly and gave up everything else in life" (assuming
this to be true, for the argument's sake) therefore
All those who dedicate themslves singlemindedly and give up everything
else in life accomplish something really great."
Jonathan claims I inferred a converse (B implies A from A implies B)
Actually however I was using INDUCTIVE reasoning. If all Gedolim have
put in long hours then it is a correct initial inductive step to assume
that this is a law.>>

Russell may have thought he was using inductive thinking, but he was
confusing what is a "necessary condition" for gadlut--i.e., putting in
long hours and working hard at learning--with this being a "sufficient
condition."  I would agree that it is a necessary condition, but there
are other things required as well.

Call it circular reasoning, call it arguing from converses-- this line
of reasoning is flawed.

2.  Russell sates:
<<Jonathan lists 3 prerequisites for being a Gadol (a) Knowledge
(b) Insight and analytical capability (c) Charisma....  To answer, I
note that the Rambam PROMISES that those who learn every night will be
rewarded with CHARISMA.  The Rambam's
exact phrase is A STRING OF KINDNESS, which I have translated as

Sorry, but there's no way that you can make "Hut shel hesed" to mean
charisma.  The phrase means something like Divine love, protection,
blessing.  Charisma means "ability to inspire followers with devotion
and enthusiasm; attractive aura, great charm" (Oxfurd Desk Dictionary
and Thesaurus, American Edition).  There is not the slightest
indiacation that this is what Rambam is talking about there.

3.  Russell concludes:
<<Finally Jonathans statement that INSIGHT requires inborn ability is
derived from Jonathans citation of an English maxim that genius is 99%
perspiration and 1% inspiration. I however dont believe this to be the
Jewish way---Rav Hirsch EXPLICITLY states on Gn41:33 that INSIGHT
naturally emanates as a result of acquisition of knowledge. I therefore
believe there is room for discussion here--- does Judaism in fact
believe in some magical ability that people need to become a Gadol or it
hard work the only ingredient. We might also cite the Talmud---IF A

      "Success in learning" means becoming a talmid hakham, feeling that
one understands Torah clearly, that what one once found opaque is now
clear, etc.  But "becoming a gadol' is much much more than that.  Again,
I frankly don't understand this near obsession with "becoming a gadol"
as the main motivation for learning.

     But I must add something.  I kept getting the feeling when reading
Russell's posting that there is something detached from reality in what
he writes here.  He's talking on the level of theory, not concrete,
ordinary observation of people.  Both Russell and I have been in this
world enough years to have learned something fom life experience.  Have
you never meant hard-working plodders, who by dint of hard work become
competent in their chosen field of endeavor, but are utterly lacking in
any spark, in what we call brilliance, creativity, originality?  Surely
these are also qualities of a gadol.  Or, for that matter, all those
numerous levels in between, who may occasionally have interesting things
to say or write, but who are not graced with the touch of genius.

    An example.  Every Friday night, I enjoy the privilege of davening
in my local shul with Rav Adin Steinsaltz.  We also have the official
neighborhood Rav in our shul, a talmid hakham and yarei shamayim, a
good, dedicated man, who I'm sure works hard at his learning.  Sometimes
I see the two of them talking together after shul, or even participate
in these conversations.

     What makes the one a gadol and the other an "ordinary" Yerushalmi
talmid hakham?  I suspect the difference lies, not so much in diligence,
but in those rare, innate gifts with which Rav Steinzsaltz has been

    Russell also knew Rav Soloveitchik ztz"l, probably better than I.
(in any event, he attended the Rav's shiurim in Boston more regularly
and for more years than I).  Would Ruseell seriously suggest that the
Rav was who he was only by virtue of his hatmada, and not by virtue of
certain gifts, such as a retentive memory, quick grasp of material
learned, analytic ability, all of which are as much inborn gifts as they
are learhed skills?

    Enough said on this for now.
    Yehonatan Chipman


From: Howard S. Joseph <hjoseph@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 10:29:15 -0500
Subject: Double Mizmor at Altneushul

Sperber's theory is very well taken. However, it should be noted that
the Jews of Beirut, Lebanon, who, mostly of Syrian origin, also recite
the mizmor twice. I doubt that it had to do with the musical necessities
in Prague.

It is quite possible that there was a tradition of double recitation for
other reasons that remain to be explored. This might then have been
adapted by Prague Jews for their own needs.

Howard S. Joseph
Rabbi, Spanish Portuguese Synagogue
4894 St. Kevin Ave, Montreal, Quebec  Canada  H3W1S1
Tel. # 514-737-3695, Fax # 514-737-7430, Urgent Mobile # 514-574-5931

To: <mail-jewish@...>

From: Joseph Mosseri <JMosseri@...>
Subject: Double Mizmor Shor Leyom Hashabat

The custom of saying the 2 Mizmorim twice is also prevalent among Syrian
Jews.  The reasoning is based upon an issue of a Qabalistic nature.

Joseph Mosseri


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 16:25:20 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Gedolim - Malbim

First my apologies to the Malbim. I had stated that he was not
considered a major posek and I received several corrections.

However, my main point was that many rabbis are considered gedolim even
though they do not necessarilly excel in all aspects of Torah
studies. Many (especially ashkenazi) gedolim of the last 200 years did
not delve deeply in Kabbalah and haskafah. The Gra and some of his
immediate talmidim were experts but afterwards it was mainly sefardim
and chassidim that stressed kaballah and haskafah.  Likewise many poskim
were not fluent in Tanach.

There is a story that the Meshech Chochmah was advised not to publish his
commentary on chumash until he wrote Talmudic works as that would "ruin"
his reputation as a Talmudist.

Similarly Rav Chaim Soloveitchik told his son RMS not to study Moreh
Nevuchim. I think that many of the generation's gedolim were not familar
with Moreh Nevuchim.  Similarly. Ramah writes that he studied philosophy
in the bathroom and in response Marhalshal writes that he should study
didkuk rather than philosophy.  I am not sure exactly what Ramah was
reading but he did not know Greek or Arabic and so I assume he was
reading Hebrew versions of these works. However, he was an exception to
the rule.

After the fight among the rishonim over the Moreh and philosophy most
acharonim avoided philosophy of any type including haskafah and kabbalah
(again sefardim did get involved with kabbala as did later the

I have no idea how much kabbalah or Nach or haskafa gedolim like
R. Moshe Feinstein, Chaftez Chaim etc. knew. But i think it is clear
that their reputations were established independent of their knowledge in
these areas.

BTW it is interesting to note that scholars debate how much kabbalah
RYBS "really" knew and studied as opposed to the basic concepts that he
quotes in various derashot.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel


From: Dick Kleiman <dick@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 11:37:22 +0200
Subject: re: Holy Places

Frank Reiss asked (mail-jewish Vol. 38 #53 ) if there is such a concept
as personal holy places.

This morning,  I heard the following in a taped shiur on the book of
Joshua from R. Yitzchak Kirzner zt'l.

He spoke of the importance of place and dealing with places that are
holy to us or the opposite. The two spies had just climbed out the
window after hiding with Rahab and they heard her praying (according to
a Midrash): "May this window, and rope, and wall, which have been used
for the last forty years for degenerate purposes (for her "visitors") be
considered as holy, now that I have saved the lives of these two." The
spies now knew that she was sincere in helping them and they now gave a
voluntary commitment to Rahab to save her and her family when the time
came to conqueer Jericho.

Thus Rahab was able to change a place that had been a place of sin to a
place of holiness.

R. Kirzner pointed out Rashi's comment on Am Yisrael's reacting with
fear to the Egyptians arriving to take them back to be slaves. Their
fear, according to Rashi, was not just the physicial threat, but the
"Sare Mitzraim", which R. Kirzner explained as the hold that Egypt the
place still had over the people. Our challenge, he said, is to overcome
the negative aspects of a place, that we associate with our past sins,
and infuse the place with holiness. He mentioned that there are Tannaim
in the gemara who praise their wives, saying that the walls of their
houses never saw them uncovered. So why does it matter what the walls
see? The answer is that what we do in a place determines the kedusha of
the place.

Dick Kleiman (<dick@...>)

From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 19:30:10 +0200
Subject: Holy Places

Without discussing the essence of Frank Reiss' posting on
the Subject: Holy Places, I would like to comment on his opening:-

      If one is having extreme financial difficulties, there are many
      things he should do, in the form of prayers, Gemilus Chessed. What
      about visiting holy places? For example, If I could go now, I
      would visit the Kotel.  Many do this. The obvious reasons are that
      this is the site of the Beis Hamikdash, so it is a designated holy

a) the Kotel actually is not the site of the Beit HaMikdash but rather
the outer retaining wall of the built-up area upon which the Beit
HaMikdash existed.

b) as I have posted before, there is a body of opinion that holds that
even today there are certain areas within the walled-in precincts called
the Temple Mount that are permissible for entry that would be outside
what is Halachically the Har Habayit.

c) technically, there is only one Holy Place in Judaism, the Har
Habayit, to which to term 'kodesh' (sanctified) can be applied.

Yisrael Medad


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 20:28:23 EST
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik and Menachem Begin

Yisrael and Batya Medad ask, in v38n53,

> Concerning Mike Gerver's Rav and Medinat Yisrael-- Part II, was there no
>  reference to Menachem Begin requesting that the Rav become Israel's
>  Chief Rabbi?

Rabbi Schacter did not mention this in his talk, and in fact I had not
heard about it, but it does not surprise me, since I know that Begin and
the Rav thought highly of each other. Rabbi Israel Miller zt"l told me
about the only meeting between the two of them, which he witnessed, when
Begin was Prime Minister and visited New York. (I think I've posted this
story here before, but I'll repeat it.)  Begin wanted to come to Boston
to visit the Rav, but the Rav insisted on going to Begin's hotel in New
York, since he felt that it wouldn't be proper to make the Prime
Minister of Israel come to him. At the meeting, instead of talking about
politics, Begin reminisced about growing up in Brest-Litovsk when the
Rav's grandfather, R. Chaim, was the rabbi there.  Begin would try to
give out Zionist literature in shul, and R. Chaim would get mad at him
and throw him out.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 07:55:37 -0500
Subject: Shechiyanu on Shabbat Candles

From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
<<If wearing a new blouse merits the bracha, then all the more so should
acknowledging a new family member!>>

The halacha calls for a shehecheyanu beracha on a new family member.
Females, that is; males call for hatov vehametiv.  And I in fact made
these berachos for each addition.

However, that is not the same as making a beracha for lighting candles
for the first time, which is an option the poskim do in fact consider.
Adding a new garment is not a "hedge", except in the sense of a hedge
around the issur of berach levatala.

Making a beracha on adding a new candle is silly, considering that the
reason for adding one is usually as a kenas (fine) for not lighting the
Shabbos that the baby was born.  The shehecheyanu on the new addition is
made when she makes her appearance.

If, as you say, "I think that this is one way that women ought to be
very empowered Jewishly, acknowledging such changes...for those of us
who are not on the gadola track ;) ) "

the first step is fealty to halacha, not change for feelgood reasons.



From: <Friendlyjew@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 02:18:53 EST
Subject: Shuttle and Torah

since the shuttle carried a torah, if someone saw the shuttle burn
up. do they have to rip their clothes ( kriah ) like one does for a
burning torah??  send answer to <friendlyjew@...> fs


From: Douglas Gershuny <dgershuny@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2003 23:30:50 -0500
Subject: Tablet K Hashhgacha

I have heard from a variety of sources that the reliability of the
"Tablet K" hashgacha is not viewed in any uniform way.  However, I have
not been able to find out why this hashgacha raises doubts in some
minds.  If you have an answer to this I would appreciate hearing it.


End of Volume 38 Issue 57