Volume 50 Number 19
                    Produced: Fri Nov 25  8:06:57 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening with a minyan
         [Mark Symons]
Ibn Ezra (3)
         [Ben Katz, LPh Minden, Russell J Hendel]
Ibn Ezra -- He Was Frum -- Why he said the things he did
         [Aryeh Gielchinsky]
Internet Bans
         [Stuart Pilichowski]
Ketuba (2)
         [David Mescheloff, Anonymous]
Parshat Hashavua vaYeira
         [David Mescheloff]
Yeridas Hadoros
         [Sam Gamoran]


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 23:45:43 +1100
Subject: Davening with a minyan

      From: <MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein)

      One additional comment about davening with a minyan when a minyan
      already exists: I know that for many people, the simple act of
      being with a tzibbur can inspire one's own tefilla. Many times I
      find it difficult to get up in the morning and daven with a
      minyan, wondering whether it is necessary and/or important. But
      then when I get there, I might see someone to my right davening
      for a sick child, or someone to my left celebrating the birth of a
      child. That in itself is inspiring to my own davening, regardless
      of whether or not my presence affects the minyan. Personal prayer
      can be inspired by being part of a larger group.

That seems to give weight to Ari Trachtenberg's point that attending a
minyan is selfish, but on the other hand, I think that the more
individuals that become inspired in their own t'fila, the more the
minyan/community as a whole becomes inspired in theirs.

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 11:21:23 -0600
Subject: Re: Ibn Ezra

>From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
> >See also Ibn Ezra Bemidbar 21 on the Canaanite king of Arad. (Shalom Carmy)
> >Even more amazing than the IE on this verse is that Abravanel harshly
> >castigates the Ramban (of all people) for writing (although it is not
> >in our texts of the Ramban) that this whole section of the Torah was
> >written later! (Ben Katz)
>         I don't understand what is "amazing" about the IE on the
>verse--he denies flatly that the verse was written later than the time
>of Moshe, and offers an alternative pshat.

I was being hyperbolic here.  The amazing really relates to the
Abravanel/Ramban issue.

>         Add to this the comment of the IE that I originally quoted, that
>a book arguing that Biblical material was written in the time of
>Yehoshaphat should be burned.
>         Do you think that a man who could burn a book saying that a
>whole parsha of the Torah was written later, would likely hold that, on
>the other hand, a single verse might be written later?

Yes, since he says this about the last 12 verses of the Torah.

>         I think the most plausible reading then of IE's comment on the
>verse (ve-hakena`ani az ba-aretz) that there is a "sod" here, is that to
>understand how a verse in the Torah could take a position from a future
>point of view, requires a mystical approach to the Nature of the
>Almighty.  The word "sod" appears in IE's commentaries at least 163
>times, and my intitial look at the (highly mystical) trend of IE's
>thinking persuades me that the "contradiction" in IE's views about the
>authorship of the Torah is a pseudo problem.

 With all due respect to Dr. Steiner, I am not as aware of mysticism in
IE's commentary as much as astrology (in which IE believed).

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: LPh Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 11:44:24 +0100
Subject: Re: Ibn Ezra

A short article on an important supercommentary to Ibn Ezra:

LPh Minden

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 08:36:46 -0500
Subject: RE: Ibn Ezra

In response to Dr Katz who agreed with me that Ibn Ezra was religious,
if you carefully look at the citations I quoted I said more. The
citations I quoted from the IEs intro to the Torah clearly and
explicitly state that '....all midrashim of chazal(The talmudic sages)
are pure gold and founded on sound principles....' Consequently I am
saying more than 'ie is frum'; I am stating that ie BELIEVED IN THE

Before proceeding I wish to make it clear that this is what I believe IE
held; that is I would take all examples where IE 'appears' to disagree
with Chazal and show how IE and chazal agreed.  Since some postings seem
to contradict this I will cite 3 counter examples given and show how the
above thesis can be kept.

(Example 1--From myself) If you look at Lv13 IE seems to say (actually
he does say) that a doubling of root letters WEAKENS the meaning of the
word: YRK=green; YRKRK = light green while chazal clearly state that
doubling STRENGTHENS meaning of word (YRKRK=pure intense green). But if
you then look at IE on Ps45, IE states the total rule: DOUBLING of
terminal root letters weakens while doubling of initial root letters
(YFYFTH) strengthens. More can be said. But I am using this to
illustrate the IE did not(as he appears and actually says) deviate from
Chazal IE is at most explaining chazal by giving further distinctions ;
that is not disagreement.

(Example 2--Avi Feldblum). IE's point on the beginning of Vayayrah is
that the chapter forms ONE PARAGRAPH. So the first verse GOD APPEARED TO
ABRAHAM and the 2nd verse HE SAW THREE PEOPLE must form part of same
paragraph--that is one sentence is a development of the other. CHazal
THEREFORE state that the 3 men were men in a vision, angels. IE states
that THEREFORE the 3 men were prophets who delivered the vision. While
there are some technical differences both IE and CHAZAL are saying more
or less the same thing (In passing: Angels come in two types---there are
angels like Gavriel and Michael which are presented to us as angels and
there are angels like Moses (cf Ex24-01) who are human prophets with
angelic rank...so IE could intend that 3 prophets with angelic rank came
to visit Abraham and deliver the message.  My main point is that IE and
Chazal agree...IE is at most explaining Chazal.

(Example 3--Ben Katz) In an article coming out in th Jewish Bible
Quarterly (and as found on the Rashi website) I show how the Bible did
not use what modern authors call footnotes directly; instead when the
Bible wished to indicate a footnote it would repeat the verse with a
minor alteration. The minor alteration then FUNCTIONS as a footnote. On
the Rashi website we call this the ALIGNMENT method. So if one verse
says WATCH the Sabbath and another identical verse states REMEMBER the
Sabbath, then I, IE, and chazal view the REMEMBER as a footnote to WATCH
(or vice versa). All we are saying is that the concept of WATCH (a
negative prohibition) is coupled with a positive commandment to REMEMBER
and COMMEMORATE (Which we do thru recitation of blessings on wine to
'invite' the Sabbath). There are assumptions in this: I, IE and Chazal
are assuming the BIble is one text whose cross references illumine each

Now chazal took this principle and dressed it up in catchy flashy
language---'Watch and remember were said in one breath' --sort of like a
hifi system with multiple components. In story telling this is called
the exaggeration technique. Denying the exaggeration content does not
mean you disagree with the substantive content of the saying! So IE (and
I and for that matter chazal) could agree that WATCH and REMEMBER were
said at ttwo different points of time by two people (God, Moses) BUT
that since they both made the Torah they FUNCTION as footnotes
illuminating each other.

The above is sufficient for a posting. If however there is further
interest in this I would be happy to explain other IE similarly. Again
my thesis based on the IE own statement is that all Midrash is

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Aryeh Gielchinsky <agielchinsky@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 17:19:01 -0500
Subject: Ibn Ezra -- He Was Frum -- Why he said the things he did

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>

> Nevertheless, IE had no problem interpretting Torah differently from
> Chazal.  He does this numerous times.  (Rashbam did this >even in
> halachic contexts.)

I'm not commenting on IE's frummness, just a comment about Rashbam.  See
the first Rashbam to Mishpatim where he says, "I'm here to explain
things simply, but the important part is the Halacha." He wasn't
disagreeing with Chazal, he was giving another inturrpitation, and even
then says Chazal is more important. (He says this in the begining of
Mishpatim because he contradicts Halacha many times in Mishpatim).

Aryeh Gielchinsky
President of the Yeshiva University Physics and Engineering Club, retired


From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 13:15:01 +0000
Subject: Internet Bans

This is basically a hashkafik (world outlook/philosophy) issue.

Lakewood feels the dangers lurking on the web are way too plentiful for
average people to withstand. Therefore ban it. Build a fence and keep
out all foreign enticements. That way you'll remain a fine, upstanding

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: David Mescheloff <david_mescheloff@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 09:55:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Ketuba

 Chaim Tatel brought to my attention that he heard the sentence about
"not writing more briefly" being "for lack of time" attributed to Rashi,
not to Winston Churchill, as I had heard.  A quick internet check shows
that the correct attribution is, apparently, to Blaise Pascal.

I hope the rest of what I wrote will not be so easily proven mistaken!!


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 20:47:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Ketuba

David Mescheloff wrote, inter alia:

> As to "Anonymous"'s concerns - cherem d'rabbenu gershom genuinely
> changed the playing rules

1.  If the cat eats the Kesuba, must the husband flee the house (issur
yichud bli kesuba) until a replacement document is duly created and
given to the wife?  My shulchan aruch says Yes, that has not changed.

2.  If, based on a clause in seder get shlishi, beis din is obligated to
destroy the kesuba in the course of any get procedure -- then with
respect to divorce isn't the document a "chaspa b'alma"?  (If you agree,
where are you sleeping tonight?)


From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 19:21:05 EST
Subject: Re: Minyan

> going to a minyan (that already has at least ten men and when you
> don't have other explicit obligations such as kaddish) is
> intrinsically a selfish act:

How do you know, on any given day, that there will be a minyan without
you.  The selfish one is he who "doesn't need" a minyan, because he's
not saying kaddish and has no yahrzeit today, so he doesn't go to
shul. I'm glad I live in a community which has three minyanim every
morning for shachris, a mid-day mincha, a mincha plus maariv at shkia,
and a late maariv. Right now, I believe there are fewer than ten men
saying kaddish in the shul.


From: David Mescheloff <david_mescheloff@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 14:51:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Parshat Hashavua vaYeira

Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin presented us with a lovely diyuk in Avraham's
negotiation with Hashem. For the moment I would rather relate to the
brief comment at the beginning of his note.  He wrote:

> In Chibah Yeteirah I discussed the seeming contradiction in Avraham's
> arguments concerning Sodom: although he claimed to be seeking justice
> ("Will the Judge of the whole world not do justice?"), in practice he
> demanded that G-d spare everyone, righteous and wicked alike!  Sparing
> the wicked would not be justice but mercy, and how could Avraham
> demand it?.

I have not seen Chibah Yeteirah, so I don't know how Rabbi Henkin
resolved this difficulty.  If it is similar to what I will suggest now,
please forgive me.  In any event, I don't think all (if any) of the
following is original with me, although I do not remember where I first
saw it.  If no one knows the source, then I must have learned it from
my father, Rabbi Dr. Moses Mescheloff, may he live and be well (except
that he expresses these ideas far more eloquently than I).  At least
part corresponds to what the Rambam wrote on tzedek, mishpat and chesed
in the Guide; part may be from the Malbim.

The root Sh-f-t does not refer to justice, but to weighing all aspects
of a situation and coming to a considered, balanced, comprehensive
solution.  (Note, for example: chazal make quite an issue of the word
"mishpat" used in the Torah in reference to conversion, deriving some
central halachot of the conversion process from it ; this is not a
matter of justice, but of seeing comprehensively what is going on in the
prospective conversion candidate, and what his conversion will do to
him/her self and to klal yisrael. v'ekml)

"Justice" is related in different senses to "Din" and/or "Tzedek".
Thus, in appealing to G-d as "Shofet kol ha-Aretz" (note the use of
"kol" - G-d knows ***all*** that goes on in the world, and can render a
decision which takes everything into account) Avraham was saying: You,
Who can weigh everything and every one, over the course of all time, Who
has long-term goals for the human population on earth, and Who knows how
the Righteous ("Tzaddik") and the Wicked ("Rasha") interrelate and
influence each other, both in the short run and in the long run, -
indeed, Who has put me here to establish a righteous nation which will
advance His interests here on earth over the course of many centuries,
by persuasion, by teaching, by stimulating thought and feeling, and by
living - that is, by exerting the long-term influence that the righteous
can exert on the wicked; Who knows that I, a single individual, will, in
the long run, through a nation that will be the smallest of the nations
(but, metaphorically, like the small amount of yeast in the dough which
makes the whole dough rise, become soft, and tasty) - I/we will turn the
whole world around to recognize Your Kingship; indeed, You Who has
already foresworn total destruction as a means towards educating humans
- will You not make Your decision based on these long-term,
comprehensive considerations?  Will You bring to their end the Righteous
- who are the key to turning the Wicked around from wickedness to
righteousnes - together with the wicked?  What then is the point of it

This was not a request for chesed, nor for justice.  It was a request
for mishpat.  What is still surprising is how Avraham could both
recognize G-d as "shofet kol ha-aretz" in the above terms and seem to
audaciously challenge the "shofet kol ha-aretz", as if he - Avraham -
knew more.  It can only be that this dialogue was one of inquiry, in
which G-d taught Avraham about G-d's paths of Mishpat.  After all, we
are told in the introduction to this dialogue that G-d had chosen "to
know" Avraham because G-d knew Avraham would teach his descendants to
guard G-d's path of "Tzedakah u-Mishpat", for the purpose of bringing
about Avraham's destiny - as above.

Please forgive my brevity; all these terms and themes deserve a fuller
treatment than I can give the time to write up at the moment.

David Mescheloff


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 11:39:23 +0200
Subject: RE: Yeridas Hadoros

I remember hearing a lecture (sorry I don't remember where or when) in
which the speaker posited that the decline of each generation is a
lesser capability to contribute to new Torah knowledge.  However, each
generation makes a positive contribution so that the body of total
knowledge is always growing.

Furthermore although each generation contributes less it knows more in
total than the previous generation.  For this reason, halachik decisions
are rendered following the achronim (later decisors) rather than the
rishonim (earlier decisors).  If there was a possibility that the total
body of knowledge might be declining (forgotten?) then posqim would have
to follow the earliest known opinions rather than the latest ones.

At the same time this limits the ability to overturn a previous
generation's decision because they were more capable even if less

Sam Gamoran


End of Volume 50 Issue 19