Volume 64 Number 38 
      Produced: Wed, 07 Aug 19 10:48:26 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An ascent to Paradise? 
    [Martin Stern]
Balak problem 
    [Yisroel Israel]
Fast Days Becoming Yamin Tovim 
    [R. Nachman Cohen]
Rape (3)
    [Yisrael Medad   Michael Rogovin  Leah Gordon]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 5,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: An ascent to Paradise?

Further to my submission (MJ 64#37), a further idea regarding the Kabbalistic
four-world concept occurred to me.

Though many are of the opinion that the Kabbalah was an innovation 'invented' in
thirteenth century Provence/Spain, its rapid spread and acceptance would suggest
that many of its concepts were familiar. 

In particular the idea of four worlds seems to have been widespread and appears
in many places in our liturgy dating back millennia. In my book A Time to Speak
(Devora Publishing Company, '10, p. 85), I suggested that it was reflected in
the structure of First Paragraph of the Shemoneh Esrei composed by the Anshei
Kenesset Hagedolah.

Another place which might reflect it is in the conclusion of Hakol yodukha which
forms part of the first berakhah before the Shema on Shabbat (and for Sefardim
also on Yom Tov) just before the piyut Keil Adon:

1. Adon uzeinu,

2. Tzur misgaveinu,

3, Magein yish'einu,

4. Misgav ba'adeinu

followed by the parallel quartet:

1. ein ke'erkekha 

2. ve'ein zulatekha

3. efes biltekha

4. umi domeh lakh

It then combines them to show their connection to another aspect of the four

1. ein ke'erkekha Hashem Elokeinu ba'olam hazeh - olam haasiah

2. ve'ein zulatekha Malkeinu lechayei ha'olam haba - olam hayetzirah

3. efes biltekha Go'aleinu liymot hamashiach  - olam haberiah

4. ve'ein Moshieinu litchiyat hameitim - olam haatzilut

Any comments?
Martin Stern


From: Yisroel Israel <arzei@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 28,2019 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Balak problem

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#35):

> It struck me that there are several different words used for cursing - arah,
> qavah, za'am - in the Balak/Bilaam narrative. I presume they do not all have
> completely identical meanings but could not discover any distinguishing
> nuances. Can anyone elucidate?

I found the following article "Clarifying a Collection of Curses" by Rabbi
Reuven Chaim Klein, which discusses precisely Martin's problem:


The Torah says, "A judge you shall not curse and a prince/king in your nation
shall you not curse" (Ex. 22:27). This passage forbids cursing a judge or king
because one might otherwise be tempted to do so if the judge or king does
something against one's own personal interests. In other words, if a judge rules
against somebody in court, or a king makes a decree which negatively impacts a
given individual, that person might vent his frustrations by 'cursing' the
relevant authority. In order to offset this attitude the Torah expressly forbids
cursing a justice or sovereign. Interestingly, in this context, the Torah uses
two different words for 'curse'. Regarding the judge the Torah uses the word
kelalah to denote cursing, while regarding the king the Torah uses the word
arur. Why, in the same verse, does the Torah switch from using one word to using
the other?

The Vilna Gaon explains that there is a difference between the word kelalah and
arur. The word kelalah, while colloquially used to mean 'curse', is literally a
diminutive, which one might invoke to belittle another, but is not truly a
'curse'. The word kelalah is related to the Hebrew word kal which means 'light'
or 'easy', as one who offers a kelelah about another essentially dismisses him
as someone unimportant. When discussing one's 'cursing' a judge the Torah uses
the word kelalah because, in general, the harm a judge can do to an individual
is not usually so damaging (especially given that society always strives to
appoint upright judges), so his 'victim' will merely suffice with disparaging
the judge and need not actually curse him.

However, when discussing an individual who feels wronged by a king, the Torah
uses the word arur because a king's powers are more overreaching than those of a
judge, so he can potentially hurt somebody more than a judge can (especially
given that kingship is commonly an inherited position and the king's moral
standing is generally irrelevant). In such a case of grave maltreatment one
might be tempted to actually curse the king, not just disparage him. Because of
this the Torah uses the more intense word arur when warning one not to curse a king.

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg writes that arur is a broad, all-encompassing
curse that wishes all sorts of calamities and misfortunes to befall one's
adversary, while a kelalah is the word for a specific type of curse, and cannot
be used to stand alone. In other words, one who curses another with an arur can
simply declare that an arur shall befall him, while one who offers a kelalah
must specify in what way that curse should affect his victim (i.e. he offers a
kelalah that ...).

Furthermore, Rabbi Mecklenburg writes that an arur can apply to something
abstract while a kelalah can only apply to something which physically exists.
Based on this, Rabbi Mecklenburg explains G-d's promise to Abraham in which He
says (Genesis 12:3), "Whoever curses (kelelah) you, I will curse (arur)". G-d
promises to protect Abraham so much so that whoever curses Abraham with a more
specific curse - a kelalah - will receive in return an all-encompassing curse
(arur) from Above.

There are two more words found in the Bible to mean curse: kavah and allah. How
do these words differ from the other words that mean 'curse'?

Malbim explains that kavah refers to a general curse in which one declares a
certain individual and everything pertaining to him 'cursed'. Furthermore,
Malbim explains that kavah denotes a curse uttered in public in which the name
of the cursed is stated explicitly (e.g. see Num. 1:17), while an arur does not
have such connotations. On the other hand, arur refers to the practical
ramifications of a curse manifested in a specific element of one's victim (for
example, his body or his property). It is related to the Hebrew word mearah
which means 'decrease' (see Deut. 28:20) and refers to a reduction in the net
yield of, for example, his property as a result of a curse.

Regarding the curse-word allah, Radak explains that an allah is specifically a
type of curse in which one expressly invokes G-d to carry out the misfortune.
Rabbi Mecklenburg disagrees with this assessment and instead explains that an
allah is a curse with conditions. Meaning, if one imposes a curse with certain
stipulations (e.g., "Whoever does such-and-such should be cursed"), that curse
is called an allah.

Yisroel Israel


From: R. Nachman Cohen <ravnachman@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Fast Days Becoming Yamin Tovim

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 64#35):

> I remember being taught in school that after Moshiach arrives the fast days
> will become Yamim Tovim. I'd often wondered why that would be the case
> instead of the fast days simply being abolished - for example, if we fast on
> Tisha B'Av because the Temple was destroyed and hasn't been rebuilt, then
> once the Temple has been rebuilt one woulod have thought that the fast has
> now become obsolete.
> I recently came across an answer to this in "A Time For All Things" by Nachman
> Cohen (Torah Lishmah Institute, Yonkers, New York, 1985) where he writes that
> Zechariah's prophecy (8:19) of the fast days being turned into days of joy
> refers to the days that became days of mourning had the potential to have been
> days of joy, and should have been.
> On 17 Tammuz, we should have completed the receiving of the Torah when Moshe
> Rabennu came down Mount Sinai with the Tablets, but instead the golden calf
> was worshipped and the Tablets were broken, and so 17 Tammuz is a day of
> mourning.
> Similarly, the original 9 Av should have been the day when we began to enter
> the Land of Israel, but because of the evil report of the spies, we ended up
> with a day of mourning.
> Based on this, I would suggest that when Moshiach comes the potential of these
> days will finally be realised and achieved, and so these days will become
> Yamim Tovim.
> How does this idea work for the other Rabbinic fast days, namely Tzom
> Gedaliah, 10 Tevet and the Fast of Esther? (If no-one knows the answer, then
> may we find out the answer speedily in our days!)

I was forwarded Immanuel's post. Here is my response:

Fast of Esther was not one that was mentioned by the navi. It is in a class
by itself. It is sometimes termed a Fast of Nitzachon.

According to many, Gedaliah was killed on Rosh haShanah. The fast is a nidcheh.
Each year RH  is meant to be a day of simchah gedolah during which Israel
proclaims that HaShem "was, is, and will be forever be the King of the Universe." 

In Nechemiah's time, when he read the Torah to the assembled on RH, they mourned
for the transgressions they realized they had and continued to commit. Their
proclamation that HaShem IS King lacked truthfulness. Thus, while they followed
Nechemiah's ruling that they must rejoice on RH because it is a Day of Joy for
HaShem, the celebration that year and in subsequent years remains muted. It is
only when Israel truly repents that Rosh haShanah [and its nidcheh Tzom
Gedaliah] will become a day of simchah gedolah because their coronation of
HaShem on that day will be with a lev shalem..

My suggestion for 10 Tevet is the following:

After Adam sinned, on each succeeding day there was less and less daylight. Adam
was worried that due to his sin the world would eventually be plunged into
eternal darkness. At tekufat tevet (winter solstice) the daylight began to
lengthen. Adam proclaimed: The shortening and lengthening of the daylight
portion of the day is due to physical law and is independent of my
transgression. Subsequently, each year they celebrated for 8 days before and 8
days after tekufat tevet (Avodah Zarah 8a). Originally, these days were
celebrations to HaShem. Eventually, they became idolatrous holidays. Maharal,
based on Rambam, maintains that on the year Adam was created the tekufat tevet
fell on 25 Kislev (Ner Mitzvah, p. 24).  If the celebration of the second 8 days
began on 26 Kislev in a year that Kislev had  29 days, then the festivities
would run until the 5th of Tevet. Now in the Zekhariah's prophecy, he refers to
the four fasts by the month and not the date. With regard to the Fast of the
Tenth Month (Tevet), while R. Akiva maintains that it refers to the 10th of
Tevet, the date that coincides with the siege of Jerusalem, R. Shimon maintains
that it refers to 5 Tevet -- the day that the news reached the Diaspora
that the temple had been destroyed. Thus, 5 Tevet, a day that had been
celebrated from the days of Adam and was meant to be a celebratory day to HaShem
forever became of a day of tragedy. Zekhriah thus proclaimed that in the End of
Days its status as a day of celebration will return to its glory.

Yet, one can justify the prophecy even if it refers to 10 Tevet. The Talmud
teaches that 8 - 10 Tevet were the darkest days of the year because on these
days the Torah had been translated into Greek for Ptolemy. In Devarim, Moshe was
instructed to translate the Torah into the vernacular so that all of creation
know the Word of HaShem. Thus, in principle, what occurred on these 3 days
culminating with 10 Tevet should have been the greatest days of celebration.
Yet, the Rabbis saw that the actual consequence was just the opposite.

Thus, only several days after the culmination of a celebration of the renewal of
daylight, and years later, when the Chanukah celebration increased spiritual
Light into the world, what should have been a Day of Celebration became of Day
of Darkness. Zekhariah's prophecy foretells that when the nations of the world
repent and recognize the Torah in its full purity 10 Tevet will be truly return
to being a Day of Celebration.

For more information on the relationship between Tekufat Tevet and Chanukah see
R. Yehuda Zeldin: https://www.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/8023

R. Nachman Cohen


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 30,2019 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Rape

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#37):

> traditional Jewish practice has been to frown on gender interaction outside
> the immediate family on any but the most superficial, and clearly
> non-relational, level - and flirting would clearly be a prime example of this
> sort of behaviour.

Can one, male or female, flirt on a shidduch date? Or traditionally, is that not

Yisrael Medad


From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 31,2019 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Rape

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#37)

> I was certainly not suggesting that "one can associate flirting with rape" 
> but, as he says it is "certainly a way of indicating interest or attraction" 
> and this is liable to be misinterpreted by some men. It is for this reason 
> that traditional Jewish practice has been to frown on gender interaction 
> outside the immediate family on any but the most superficial, and clearly 
> non-relational, level - and flirting would clearly be a prime example of this 
> sort of behaviour.
> Whether flirting involves a Torah or Rabbinic prohibition, or is 'merely' a
> breach of traditional practice, is irrelevant - it is certainly unwise outside
> marriage precisely because of the possibility of misinterpretation.
> Unfortunately, in some more 'modern' groups, gender-distancing has been
> abandoned as being too 'extreme'...

I am unclear what is meant by "misinterpretation." Is Martin suggesting that
it is possible that a man would think that by flirting (ie, expressing
interest) that the woman wanted to be raped? Meaning, how is it possible to
understand flirting, smiling, joking, etc. as saying "I want you to grab
me, hold me down, and force yourself on me?" I mean, I can understand that
it MIGHT be an expression of sexual interest. But rape? If a storekeeper
shows off his goods and expresses an interest in selling them to me, can I
possibly interpret that as an invitation to pull out my gun, tie him up,
and rob him of all of his merchandise (I apologize to those offended by
this analogy, I am not happy with it either)?  The only way that one could
even conceive of such a "misinterpretation" is a society that sees women
not as people b'tzelem elokim, but as mere vessels for the satisfaction of
men's lust. They are there to be taken and discarded, like the young woman
that several self-proclaimed religious Israeli teens had sex with and then
tossed out of the room when they were done. Even if that wasn't rape, it
was certainly an attitude toward women as disposable. I would hope that the
Torah sees women differently, but the evidence does not appear conclusive
on this.

> Within marriage, one would hope that the couple would have evolved sufficient
> understanding for them not to misinterpret their spouse's intention - so
> Michael's comparison seems unjustified.

Given the many instances of rape in marriage, and injunctions in the Talmud
about obtaining spousal consent, it would seem that my comparison is quite

In the end, Martin and I have different opinions about what is and is not
appropriate in terms of interactions between men and women. I understand
that and respect his POV however much I disagree. I know where he is coming
from and that this is the norm in many more right-leaning communities.
However, I do not understand or respect any notion that there is ever a
time in any community where a man might interpret any behavior of a woman,
no matter how provocative, as an invitation to forcible sexual intercourse
(aka rape).

Kol tuv

Michael Rogovin

From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 31,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Rape

With respect to Martin Stern's comments (MJ 64#37):

There seems to be a problem with Martin's understanding of why rapists rape
their victims.  Rape is a crime of power and violence, using sexual organs as
the weapon.  Most men do not rape women, but those who do, nearly always do it
more than once.  Rape is used as a weapon in wartime, and rape is statistically
more frequent against those weakest in society, e.g. homeless women and children.

There is, as I understand it, no chance that a non-rapist will become a rapist
because a woman flirts with him.  Even if he is attracted to her. Even if he
wants to have sex with her.  Nice guys simply cannot maintain erections when the
woman is crying and trying to escape.

As we've discussed before on MJ, as long as everyone sticks to a standard of
Explicit Sustained Enthusiastic Consent in physical relationships, there's no
risk that the "nice guy" will even cross any personal boundaries.

As concerns separating the genders - we have discussed this before on MJ and I
remain firmly in the camp opposed to such separations.  Normalizing friendships
and work relationships is the only way to ensure that open communication and
consensual behavior occur in such relationships.  If you think that keeping boys
and girls separate will prevent harassment/rape, this is certainly a mistake. 
But it does make dating, even shidduch-dating, much more fraught for those involved.

Leah S. R. Gordon


End of Volume 64 Issue 38