Volume 66 Number 12 
      Produced: Sun, 06 Nov 22 10:05:13 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Eating Seudah Shelishis in Shul 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Mashiv haru'ach 
    [Martin Stern]
To Give Charity or Not? (3)
    [Martin Stern  Joel Rich  Ari Trachtenberg]
What is D'Oraita? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Chana Luntz]


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 3,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Eating Seudah Shelishis in Shul

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 66#11):

> Yitzchok Levine writes (MJ 66#10):
>> In light of the above. I wonder if the practice of men eating Seudah
>> Shelishis in shul should be discontinued. What do others on Mail Jewish
>> think?
> I was with you right up until the second-to-last sentence. Why on earth would
> the conclusion be that eating in shul should be discontinued?  Why not invite
> the full community to participate?  Surely there is a burden of preparing this
> meal which the shul is now carrying, and that burden should not be shifted to
> "women" to make sure they are eating (!).

What will the women who have young children who cannot walk to shul with them in
places where there is no Eruv do?  This is the case in Flatbush where I live.
While there are Eruvim that some use, many do not rely on them and do not carry.
(Rav Moshe Feinstein paskened that one could not make an Eruv in Brooklyn.)

What about those like me who cannot walk to shul and need a non-Jew to take them
to shul in a wheelchair. Do you think that it is easy to find someone to wheel
me to shul?

My suggestion would include women with young children and others who cannot walk
to shul in the mitzvah of eating Seudah Shelishis. Leah's excludes them!

Furthermore, I find it surprising that you would assume that it is the women who
would prepare the meal for Seudah Shelishis or for that matter, any meal.  In my
home, I do at least 90% of the preparation of the meals. Indeed, cooking is one
of the few things left in our lives where one actually creates something!

What you write smacks of chauvinism, although I am sure you are not a chauvinist.

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 3,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Mashiv haru'ach

Haim Snyder wrote (MJ 66#10):

> In MJ 66#10 there were 2 items which use the words "mashiv haru'ach" as if
> that is what is said in the winter only.
> That is not true. According to the Vilna Gaon and others, in both the summer
> and winter we say "mashiv haru'ach" and only the last word tells is the season
> (hatal or hagashem).
> I draw your attention to the fact that in both Tfilat Geshem and Tfilat Tal we
> say "mashiv haru'ach umorid" and only the next word changes, depending on
> whether we're saying it on the first day of Pesah or on Shmini Atzeret.

As one of the guilty parties, "Et chata'ai ani mazkir hayom [I acknowledge my
error today]" (Ber 41:9). Haim is actually quite correct but I would plead in
mitigation that this is the usual way Ashkenazim outside Israel tend to refer to
the winter insertion, rather than the lengthy "mashiv haru'ach umorid hagashem"
since they do not say "morid hatal" in the summer. Also the formulation "mashiv
haru'ach umorid" is rather clumsy.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 6,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: To Give Charity or Not?

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 66#11):
> What's my responsibility to giving tsedaka [charity] to one who comes to my
> door or to my synagogue? Am I required to give something - anything?

Provided you have money available, and you are not occupied with another mitzvah
[ha'oseik bamitzvah patur min hamitzvah], you are required to give something but
it does not have to be much. If the solicitor is not satisfied with what is on
offer and rejects it, I doubt if you have any further obligation.
> Am I permitted to excuse myself because they look like someone who has very
> different values and mode of living than I do? Meaning "they look like they
> don't go to, or send their kids to, the Army or National Service", or "they
> look like they haven't received a basic secular education".

IMHO, I think one should not make such assessments but one does not have to be
especially generous to someone whom one assesses as having brought his
misfortune on himself.
> If my personal funds are limited, and not endless, may I reserve the right to
> give my tsedaka money to those in my camp?

There are various halachic rules regarding priorities in giving tzedakah but,
subject to them, you certainly have the right to choose to whom you give [tovat

Martin Stern

From: Joel Rich <joelirarich@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 6,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: To Give Charity or Not?

In response to Stuart Pilichowski (MJ 66#11):

See Rambam Matnit Aniyim 7:7 - you give "a small gift"

Joel Rich

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 6,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: To Give Charity or Not?

In response to Stuart Pilichowski (MJ 66#11):

My understanding is that one is obligated, in general, to give charity - but
that there is not a specific obligation to give charity to everyone.  On a
partially related note, I was at shul one morning, when a man approached me (and
other daveners) asking for charity.  He noted that he was a learned rabbi who
had traveled from Israel and was in need of support.

Somehow, the conversation came to a point when the rabbi dramatically pointed
out that "Everything is in the hands of heaven".  I countered with a simple
"Except for?" - when he looked at me quizzically, I knew he was not a rabbi.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 6,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: What is D'Oraita?

Meir Shinnar writes (MJ 66#11):

> There are various nations we are told can not join Am Yisrael.  For two,
> Mitzraim (Egypt) and Edom, we are told (Deuteronomy 23:9) "banim asher yivaldu
> lahem dor shlishi yavo bikehal Hashem [Children that will be born to them - 
> the third generation can come in to the community of Hashem.]
> This seems a clear statement of the possibility of conversion - and for those
> not from a problematic nation (today everyone) - this can happen immediately.
> The process is not detailed - as in many other commandments - but the concept 
> is clearly stated

Indeed, even Wikipedia informs us:

"According to the Torah, the congregation could not receive descendants of
a marriage between an Israelite and an Edomite until the fourth generation.
This law was a subject of controversy between Shimon ben Yohai, who said it
applied only to male descendants, and other Tannaim, who said female
descendants were also excluded [Yevamot 76b] for four generations. From
these, some early conversion laws in halacha were derived."

The Mishna there at Yevamot 76b reads:

"Ammonite and Moabite converts are prohibited from entering into the
congregation and marrying a woman who was born Jewish, and their
prohibition is eternal, for all generations. However, their female
counterparts, even the convert herself, are permitted immediately. Egyptian
and Edomite converts are prohibited from entering into the congregation
only for three generations, both males and females. Rabbi Shimon renders
permitted Egyptian and Edomite females immediately.

As for his point for discussion:

> Whether everything in the oral law, not explicit in the Torah, is necessarily
> d'oraita"

In the Daf Shvu'i of Bar-Ilan:


Rabbi Dr. Michael Avraham of the Higher Torah Institute at Bar-Ilan University,
while commenting on whether repenting is a mitzva or rather only a requirement
to confess, inter alia, in treating the Rambam's opinion he writes (my translation):

"The introduction "The 14 Roots" with which the Rambam prefaces the "Book of
Mitzvot" includes in his list only mitzvot that have an explicit commandment in
the Torah. Mitzvot that are learned from a drasha (see there in the second root
[derived using the 13 hermeneutic rules]) or from an oral tradition, or were
received by oral tradition (Halakhah of Moses from Sinai), are not included in
his inventory ... There is no command in the Torah to repent and therefore it is
no surprise that in his numbering of the mitzvot he does not include a mitzvah
to do penance. We have seen that in "Yad Ha'Hazaka" that the Rambam writes that
there is an obligation to do teshuva, and it seems to be an 'absolute duty'
[hova gmura] (the mitzvah is to confess), except that it originates as an
'explanation' [svara] and not an explicit commandment in the Torah. This is
because the absence of imperatives on Halachic obligations derives from the fact
that in general these 'duties' are not important enough to be included in
'Halacha D'Oraita (that is, they are below the minimum threshold to be obligatory)".

IMHO, his use of "D'Oraita" parallels my own, not that it isn't "Torah" but
that it is not explicitly written out in the Five Books of Moses.

Yisrael Medad

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 6,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: What is D'Oraita?

Meir Shinnar writes (MJ 66#11): 

> There was a discussion a while back (up to MJ 65#94) about the nature of
> conversion, and two issues were discussed:
> 1) Whether everything in the oral law, not explicit in the Torah, is
> necessarily d'oraita, 

This is not quite right - although I can understand why he might have reached
that conclusion.  Rather the question was is ANYTHING that is not explicit in
the Torah, and whose first written mention is in the midrash halacha and the
gemara, d'oraita? The argument was - because something (originally conversion,
then the procedure for conversion) is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, and
is first mentioned in the midrash halacha and the gemara, doesn't that mean that
it is rabbinic, i.e. that written Torah equals d'oraita and therefore something
that is not explicit in the written Torah is not d'oraita.

In arguing that there is a category, generally called Torah sheb'al peh [oral
Torah) that is also d'oraita - I did not get into divisions - of which the
Rambam's is the most famous.  The Rambam's first category (according to Rav
Kafih and everybody) are "the explanations that were received from Moshe in
which there is a hint in the Torah, on which there is not in them any
disagreement at all" seemed to me to cover conversion and the procedure for
conversion, and hence falls within the definition of d'oraita, as does his
second category - halacha leMoshe m'Sinai - those which do not have a hint in
the written Torah, but do not have any disagreement surrounding them (see the
Rambam's introduction to the Mishna).

The point I made was that throughout the halachic literature, conversion has
always been treated as a d'oraita, including in the Rambam (and indeed the
consequences were it not so treated are major), proving that conversion is
d'oraita, and that one cannot say that if it is not written explicitly in the
written Torah then it is not d'oraita.

> 2) Claim that conversion is not mentioned in the (written) Torah.
> WRT first claim, it is well known that the Rambam in is Sefer Hamitzvot, holds
> that any mitzvah that is derived by the 13 middot (hermeneutical principles),
> is midivrei sofrim.

That claim seems to be to be directly in contradiction to the wording of the
Rambam in his introduction to the Mishna where he says: 

"First category, the explanations that were received from Moshe that there are
in them a hint in the text or it is possible to learn them from one of the
hermeneutical principles and there is not disagreement at all."

I think what Meir means is a reference to the third category - namely: 

"The third category, these are the laws that they learnt from one of the
hermeneutical principles, and there is a disagreement ..." 

It is the third category that the Rambam classifies as divrei sofrim, i.e. the
key thing for the Rambam is whether it has come down to us with or without
disagreement (he says the same for the second category, i.e. "The second
category, are laws regarding which they said "halacha leMoshe m'Sinai", and they
do not have a proof like we said, and also there is not any disagreement in them
..." For the Rambam, a lack of disagreement is key to determine the status of
the halacha.

> There is controversy over what that means.  Rav Kafih zt"l is explicit that
> the Rambam held that anything so derived is derabbanan, not d'oraita, unless
> there is explicit proof that Chazal viewed the mitzvah as d'oraita.  My sense
> is that Rav Kafih's position on how to understand the Rambam may be a minority
> position today, but I would hope people here would not write him out of
> Orthodoxy.

Yes agreed - and I am not even sure that Rav Kafih's position is such a minority
position and certainly would not be written out of Orthodoxy. Clearly not ALL of
the Rambam's categories are within the definition of d'oraita, as category four
and five are: 

"The fourth category are the laws that the Prophets and the Chachamim fixed in
every generation by way of boundary and fence for the Torah."

"And the fifth category are the laws that they made by way of investigating into
matters that are between people, a matter where there is not in it an addition
to the words of the Torah and not a diminishing, or matters that are for the
fixing of the world in matters of religion, and these are what the chachamim
called takanot and minhagim."

So basically what one has in the Rambam are two categories that are d'oraita, a
third that is disputed, a fourth that is clearly rabbinic, and a fifth that is
not even rabbinic, rather custom and local institutions.  Which way one falls on
the disputed category does not alter the fact that the Rambam would be horrified
by a suggestion that anything that was not explicitly written in the Torah is
not d'oraita (i.e. that his first two categories do not exist).

The problem we have is that having to translate into English, and also not to
write even longer essays than are already being written, we have had to use the
term "oral law" sometimes a bit less precisely. Using the Rambam's categories
are a much better way to clarify, and the more accurate way to phrase the
question is "Whether everything in Rambam's categories 1 and 2, not explicit in
the Torah, is necessarily d'oraita?" - the answer to that has to be yes, and Rav
Kafih would also unquestionably agree.

> However, even if one argues about whether a particular use of ger refers to
> a convert, the concept of joining Am Yisrael is explicit in the Torah.

On this he is somewhat preaching to the converted (couldn't resist) - as I (and
the Rambam/Rav Kafih) would agree with him.  But he is not thinking like a
Biblical scholar - part of the idea of modern Biblical scholarship is that one
has to abandon all the accumulated knowledge of Torah we have from Chazal
onwards, and read the text on the assumption that it was written by primitive
tribalists.  He is assuming that entering the congregation and conversion, in at
least somewhat the way we know it, are the same thing - a Biblical scholar
wouldn't (and would be accused of poor scholarship if he did), unless he can
find evidence of contemporaneous conversion procedures (e.g. amongst those
aforementioned Egyptians or Midianites or whatever), the assumption is that such
a concept is too sophisticated for our poor tribalists, and they wouldn't have
had it, so one should be trying to explain these verses in terms of what they
would have had.  Then one might go looking for when a more "modern"
understanding of conversion would have emerged historically.




End of Volume 66 Issue 12