Volume 41 Number 71
                 Produced: Mon Jan  5  7:19:51 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chanukah Miracle (2)
         [Nathan Lamm, Yisrael Medad]
Hanukkah miracle
         [Shalom Ozarowski]
         [Eli Wise]
Left at the Church (2)
         [Gil Student, David Ziants]
One doesn't learn halacha from aggadita
         [Josh Backon]
Original Sin (2)
         [Stan Tenen, Nathan Lamm]
Septaugint and Targum Shi'ivim
         [Amitai Bin-Nun]


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 10:01:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Chanukah Miracle

First: While the laws of Chanukah may be halakhah, the Gemara does not
say they are kept because of *this* reason. It seldom does. Therefore,
the stories are agadah, and are not binding.

Second: The Geonim fought Karaites, who disregard Chanukah altogether,
since it does not appear in Tanakh. Therefore, they wouldn't have wasted
an effort attacking a story of a miracle.

> Megilla Chanuka...miracle that was not figured out till all the facts
> came in.

Megilla Chanukah/Antiochus is late; much later than the Books of

> The Targum Shivym was not a reliable indicator nor was it meant to be

It is held to be generally reliable, even by Chazal.  In any event, the
original consisted only of the Torah. Maccabees came much later.

> Josephus was not into miracle story telling, especially not to his
> Roman masters

Josephus is very much "into" miracles. So were the Romans. As to a later
post about his not saying how special the Jews are to God- all of his
writings are full of that. In fact, the whole point of his writings is
to show how the Jews are the chosen people, and brave fighters against
their oppressors.

Nachum Lamm

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 2004 00:31:37 +0200
Subject: Chanukah Miracle

With all the responses, I do not know if this one was included: the
reason for eight days was that since the Chashmonaim were tamei met
(ritually impure through contact with the dead), they needed an
additional 7 days for the cleansing period (Beit Yosef, Siman 670)

Whether or not there was a Red Heifer is another interesting question,
due to the issue of ritual impurity today and the entrance to the Temple

Yisrael Medad


From: <Shalomoz@...> (Shalom Ozarowski)
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 16:52:10 EST
Subject: Re: Hanukkah miracle

> r' yoel bin-nun (from machon herzog in gush etzion) discusses this
> question in an article in megadim (vol. 12, around p. 49 or so -
> embedded within an article on yeshayahu). 

Correction: the article is on the nevu'ot of Haggai and Zekhariah.  The
section relevant to Hanukkah begins on page 87.

Shalom Ozarowski


From: Eli Wise <ewise@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 10:02:16 -0500
Subject: Kollel

Are we discussing the Kollel itself or the Kollel philosophy? There is a
big difference.

We should also consider that when people are supporting their children
in kollel they are less apt to donate to existing institutions. When a
person chooses to learn in Kollel he has committed his parents or
in-laws to supporting himself and his family for an unspecified period
of time.  Consider the one doing the supporting. He may be comfortable
but his charity dollars are all spoken for. What will happen to schools,
shuls, outreach organizations, frum social services agencies etc. These
institutions will either have to engage in warfare for the remaining
dollar or compromise their principles to gain needed funds. So you see
the choice of a young man to learn in kollel has a ripple effect on the
entire Jewish world.

There are those young men who truly belong in kollel. These are the
future rabbinic leaders of the Jewish people. However, there are many
who choose this life frivolously, because it is popular, or perhaps they
are afraid of the world of earning a living. At any rate, I believe that
the choice to learn in kollel should have a kind of entry process
similar to applying to a college or university. I also think that a
percentage of the kollel men should be directed to be the future
communal functionaries such as schochtim, mohelim, sofrim, etc. This
might create a more accurate financial picture. The local kollels do
serve and teach, shouldn't the existing shuls and rabbis be performing
the same tasks, that was the way it used to be.  Wouldn't it be sad if a
vital frum social service agency would go out of business and the money
would support something in a community that should already be there.

Eliezer M. Wise
Library Director, Tuttleman Library of Gratz College
7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park, Pa. 19027
215-635-7300 extension 159


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 11:10:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Left at the Church

Bill Bernstein wrote:

>I have heard several times a halakha (minhag?) that one should not give
>directions using a church as a landmark.  I have never seen a source
>for it or an explanation.

Sanhedrin 63b; Rambam, Hilchos Avodah Zarah 5:11; Beis Yosef, Yoreh
Deah 147

Gil Student

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2004 23:20:08 +0200
Subject: Re: Left at the Church

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
> b) when I was in England, I noticed that when walking to Munk's, the
> entire congregation, save for me, when approaching the right-hand turn
> off of Golders Green Road into the schule alley (if you are coming
> from
> the west), would go out to the very edge of the sidewalk as there is a
> church there and they would do all they could to avoid getting any
> closer than necessary.

With all the pesalim (=idols/statues), crosses etc. (lo aleinu) in
that church court yard (if my memory is correct), I don't blame their
behaviour !!!!

[from second submission. Mod.]

A number of people have asked me off-list, why I don't blame their

In my opinion, it is a natural reaction to want to distance oneself
physically as much as possible from something that represents the
antithesis of what one stands for. This is regardless of what the
technical halachic requirements are.

What was written though, that members of Munks community behave this
way, does surprise me because the Yekkes (= Germanic Jews - Munks is one
of the bastions of this culture) tend not to let psychological feelings,
but only the "4 Amot of Halacha", influence their behaviour.  (I think
the minimum halacha is not to bend in front of the icon, even to do up
ones shoe lace,pick up an object etc. There are no doubt people, on this
list, more qualified than I, to answer this one.)

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  1 Jan 2004 17:52 +0200
Subject: One doesn't learn halacha from aggadita

Already in the gemara (Yerushalmi Peah 13a) we see that halacha is not
derived from aggadita, and this is ruled l'halacha (Tshuvot haGeonim;
the Mavo haTalmud of R. Shmuel haNagid; the Eshkol II 47; Nodah B'Yehuda
Yoreh Deah 161). In the gemara (Yerushalmi Maasrot 3a; Yerushalmi 4th
Perek in Yevamot; Yerushalmi Brachot 62b) we see that there were experts
in aggadita but who were (as you say in Chinese A ZEYRE SHVACH) in
halacha [e.g. the expert in aggadita who "ruled" that fish require
shechita on the basis of some obscure verse and who got Malkot (lashes)
asa result]. Nor were aggadita to be taken literally (Rambam in Peyrush
haMishnayot in Perek Chelek in Sanhedrin; Rashba in Brachot 32b, 34b).

Josh Backon


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2004 10:49:23 -0500
Subject: Original Sin

Calling what happens in Eden "Original Sin" prejudices the entire story.
In fact, what is happening is very understandable, and makes the idea of
"sin" much more positive than the presumption that the headline
"Original Sin" usually evokes.

The greatest gift that God gives humankind is the gift of free will.
Without this gift, we would still be in Eden, and we would not be fully
human (as we are today).  Without free will, we could not freely choose
to believe in God.

When a person is given a new gift, particularly a gift that's intended
to be used, they, of course, begin to use it.

When a person receives a new car, they need to learn how to drive it.
If they never drive it, they will certainly never have accidents. But on
the other hand, they will also not have accepted the gift as it was
intended to be used.

What happens?

While learning to park, it's pretty much inevitable that from time to
time, a new driver will scrape or cut the tires of a car on the
curbstones.  Eventually, with practice, this happens with increasing

When we finish becoming fully human, when we can all merit to return
shalem from the Pardes meditation like Rabbi Akiba, that will be a sign
that we have learned to make full use of the greatest gift to us, our
free will.  The idea that Pardes is a return to Gan Eden is not a new
one.  In fact, Ramban, in his disputation with Pablo Christiani under
James I of Aragon, tells us that Moshiach is waiting in Gan Eden.

So, in fact, our lives are between Eden and Eden -- or between Pardes
and Pardes.  This is our opportunity to learn to properly drive our cars
without cutting our tires on the curbstones.

"Original Sin", taken as a headline with Christian defaults, is very
negative.  But "original sin" in its original meaning -- what comes from
learning to make good use of choices made by our own free will -- is
clearly beneficial.  For those who are well-intended, "sin" is a means
of self-improvement.

If we do not learn to properly "drive our cars", then we cannot fulfill
the commandment to "choose life".

Not only is this a much healthier view, but it's a Torah view that the
rest of the world -- perhaps particularly the Christian world -- might
well benefit from hearing about.  It is certainly a view that non-Torah
Jews need to know about, so that they do not come to believe that
Judaism is just Christianity without J (as much of the non-Western world
often does).


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 10:11:15 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Original Sin

A problem with accepting ideas of original sin in Jewish thought is that
the concept leads much further, to fundamental differences in thw
worldview of Christianity and Judaism. If we are born stained for a
reason we have nothing to do with, says Christianity, there's nothing we
can do on Earth to correct it. The religion (Protestantism more than
Catholicsm) thus tends to discount experiences in this world, writing it
of as evil, corrupt, and irreparable. This is quite the opposite of
Judaism's view: We are born pure, and only corrupt ourselves- and thus
can improve. This world is thus a wonder and a blessing, and the place
we should be almost exclusively interested in improving- and
enjoying. The differences then move on from there: Difference in
attitudes towards sex and marriage, for example, can be traced to
this. So, obviously, can the question of accepting a "saviour" as our
only option, and the question of faith vs.  reason, or belief
vs. actions.

Nachum Lamm


From: Amitai Bin-Nun <readsscience@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2004 11:27:15 -0600
Subject: Septaugint and Targum Shi'ivim

>From: <chips@...>
>The Targum Shivym was not a reliable indicator nor was it meant to be -
>it was a political (and propoganda) document meant for Egyptian
>overlords and one of the worst things that happened in our history and
>to the Torah.
>Josephus was not into miracle story telling, especially not to his Roman

I think you are confusing two separate works. Targum Shi'ivim is not the
Septuagint. First, the Targum Shi'ivim only included Chumash, while the
Septaugint incorporates all of Tanach and books from the Apocrypha such
as Maccabees II, which is under discussion here. Secondly, the changes
that the gemara attributes to the Targum Shi'ivim do not appear in the
Septuagint.  Targum Shi'ivim dates back to around 100-150 years before
the Maccabees- and could certainly have occured under the circumstances
detailed in the Gemara.  The Apocrypha was more likely a gradual
accumulation and translation of the Bible and associated works for the
assimilated community in Alexandria which probably was not as fluent in
Hebrew (think Artscroll in America).

      As far as the silence with regard to the miracle of the oil in 2
Maccabees, I have heard Rabbi Lamm suggest (tentatively, and in private)
that miracle was only witnessed by the Chasmonim, so the contemporary
account of 2 Maccabees (according to most scholars, written within 100
years of the events in 166 BCE) couldn't mention it because it didn't
know about it. Eventually, the tradition became better known and may
have been common knowledge, or close to it, by the time Megillas Ta'anis
and, 4-5 centuries later, the Gemara were written.

      Oh, and any speculation that 2 Maccabees was written by a member
of the Maccabee family doesn't really work with contemporary
scholarship. First of all, 2 Maccabees appears not to be an original
work, but a summary of a longer account that we have no trace
of. Perhaps the original account was written by a member of the Maccabee
family, but that's pure speculation- since the original work has not
been found, we couldn't possibly know.  Secondly, 2 Maccabees also seems
to have been originally written in Greek- that wouldn't really fit with
our perception of the Maccabee family, would it? And the other books in
the Maccabee series appear to have a Tzedoki bent, so we certainly
wouldn't want to attribute Maccabee authorship to them.

Amitai Bin-Nun


End of Volume 41 Issue 71