Friday, August 30, 2013
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
There is no special reason for my posting this picture other than the fact that I think it is beautiful. My wife took it using a very plain and simple digital camera, and I was surprised at just how clear the image came out. The location is about 2 hours or so from NY. My batcave is just behind the waterfall : )
There is a parsha sheet called Divrei Si'ach with divrei torah and piskei halacha from R' Chaim Kanievsky that is available in a few places. I tend to take what I read published in parsha sheets in the name of contemporary gedolim with a grain of salt because I have no way of ascertaining the reliability of what is quoted. With that caveat in mind, here's what they cite in R' Chaim Kaneivsky's name regarding women saying slichos:
1) He recommended that women do try to say slichos;
2) He said women can say slichos even before chatzos (without the 13 midos) since they need their sleep to have the energy to care for the children;
3) He said that women should omit tachanum after slichos because it is not "derech kavod" for women to do nefilas apayim.
Taking them in order:
1) I checked the Halichos Beisa and he simply says women are exempt from slichos because it is only a minhag, not a real chiyuv. I assume what he means is that women never accepted this custom. My daughters go to a school that affiliates with Beis Ya'akov and there is no extra davening time alloted for them to say slichos (and there is no encouragement to say it the night before, so I don't think that's what they have in mind). Is the same true in other Beis Ya'akovs? Except for those who stay up the first night where shuls make a big thing of it, do most women say slichos during the week? I think not, but would be thrilled to hear I'm wrong.
2) Why is this kula limited to women? If m'ikar hadin you can say the slichos before chatzos, then the same should apply to men as well. I need my sleep too (seriously - I have to be at work pretty early and am usually going on as little sleep as I can handle without getting up earlier for slichos. Don't tell me I'm the only one?) Is it specifically the 13 midos that are said with a minyan that necessitates waiting until after chatzos? If so, why the need for women to omit the 13 midos -- since they have no minyan, it is simply reading pesukim?
3) What's special about tachanun after slichos and what does he mean that it's not "derech kavod"? Does R' Chaim Kanievsky hold that women should never do nefilas apayim?
This was just one point on the sheet. These type things are interesting, but I always walk away with more questions than answers. If the summer coming to an end and talking about slichos makes you feel down, here's a butterfly picture (also taken by my wife with the same camera) to brighten your day:
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
Now, I admit that cherry picking quotes out of context is not the fairest way to do things. If you want to argue that had I presented the full picture it would be far easier to sort things out, neicha, I'll grant the point. Still, you would think that at least with respect to Orthodox vs. Reform/Reconstructionist ideology, what I think is fair to call opposite ends of the spectrum, there could be no possible way to conflate the two -- or could there be?
Is the glass is half-empty or half-full? Should we be thrilled that even Reform and Reconstuctionist leaders speak of Torah in ways that are not so different than their Orthodox counterparts -- perhaps there is far less that divides us theologically than some might assume -- or should we be distressed that even those who self-identify as Orthodox in fact subscribe to a theology that is for all intents and purposes indistinct from the other branches within Judaism?
If most historians say that there is no evidence for Israel gathering at Mount Sinai in the 13th century B.C.E. or thereabouts (they do), and if they say that there is ample evidence that Israel did not even exist as a cultural or political entity at that time (they do), then how should we reconcile those observations with the teachings of the Torah? The answer for most --xxxx-- thinkers is that the revelation at Mount Sinai in Exodus is a story that teaches great truths about the way that God is revealed in our lives, not facts about an historical incident.
Given the data to which modern historians have access, it is impossible to regard the accounts of mass Exodus from Egypt, the wilderness experience or the coordinated, swift and complete conquest of the entire land of Canaan under Joshua as historical…
The stories of the Torah reflect the ways the prophets of old refracted their encounters with divine wisdom through the prism of mnemohistorical narrative. Adam is the story about why humans are here, and Noah is the story about the precariousness of our position and the existential need to be good people in order for our existence to have meaning. The stories of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are about who we (Israel/Jews) are as a people and how we found God/God found us; the Exodus and Conquest tell us about Israel’s mission as a nation and our covenantal relationship with God.
It is precisely the sacredness of these texts that requires of serious students to employ every piece of scholarly equipment to unpack their contents... Judaism does not seek to limit our thinking, only our actions.
The Torah is not divine.... Is the Torah authoritative? Absolutely. But is it divine? No.
In the coming discussion of Torah I make no literalist assumptions about the historicity of the text or its revealed origins. I speak out of deep relationship with the Torah text as we have it, out of unceasing engagement (including moments of outrage and frustration), but not as a believer in it as resulting from divine dictation. The biblical scholar’s understanding of the text’s complex origins and editing are a level of truth that I recognize as valid. In my religious life, however, I continue to embrace the text as a whole, a sacred artifact rather than as historical document. I enter into the text as a participant in an unending conversation among generations of Jews, enriched but essentially unfazed by critical perspectives.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
When Rashi in Beha’alosecha writes that Yisro was given a portion of land near Yiricho for safekeeping, it doesn’t mean the land itself is the tov that Moshe promised. In light of the Y-lmi what Rashi means is that since Yisro’s descendants were able to meet the necessary precondition of owning land, therefore they could fulfill the mitzvah of bikuim, "v'samachta b’kol hatov."
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013
למה הדבר דומה? למלך שעלה מן המלחמה קילסה אותו מטרונה.
אמר המלך: תיקרי אומן של סנקליטור. לאחר ימים התחילה לערב אוננא של מלך.
אמר המלך: כך עשית?!
כך, בשעה שעשה הקב"ה מלחמת הים אמרה מרים שירה ונקראת נביאה, שנאמר: (שמות טו) ותקח מרים הנביאה. כיון, שאמרה לשון הרע על אחיה, אמר הקב"ה תיטרד למטלון! שנאמר: (במדבר יב) ותסגר מרים:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Chazal explain that the process of eglah arufah was an opportunity for the leaders of the city and judges to confess that they did no wrong. Of course we do not suspect the leaders of actually having committed murder. But who would likely fall prey to a murderer other than a lonely soul, perhaps someone passing through town, someone who had no friends or protectors close by? The city leaders are responsible for seeing that wayfarers have food and lodging; they thereofre had to declare that their city was not hostile to strangers, that a guest would find a welcoming home to stay in and accompaniment on his journey when he chose to leave.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
1) The answer the Ramban himself anticipates and which other Rishonim affirm: really there is no difference between d’oraysas and derabbanans -- they are categorically equivalent -- but the Chachamim built into their enactments loopholes like s’feika l’kula so that they should not be confused with real dinim d’oraysa.
2) The answer of the Meshech Chochma (here) and others: lo tasur is a generic issur of rebelling against the authority of Chazal – it does not mean each individual Rabbinic law takes on the character of a din d’oraysa.
כל איש שבא ביאה אסורה, מימיו אחר שהגדיל--אין המים המאררים בודקין את אשתו; אפילו בא על ארוסתו בבית חמיו, שאסורה מדברי סופרים--אין המים בודקין את אשתו
Similarly, the same appears to be true from the Rambam in Hil Na’ara Besula ch 1:
הייתה אנוסה זו אסורה עליו--אפילו מחייבי עשה, ואפילו שנייה--הרי זה לא יישאנה
Monday, August 12, 2013
The Meshech Chochma in last week’s parsha (in his discussion of “lo tasur” here) explains that Hashem foresaw that due to historical or sociological circumstances, additional safeguards would be required for various mitzvos hamitzvos. It was impossible to reveal the what and why of those safeguards in the Torah without also revealing something of those future circumstances, which was impossible, as revealing the future would impinge on our bechira. Therefore, these safeguards were only hinted at but not spelled out.
Friday, August 09, 2013
ויש יחידי סגולה שמעמיקים יותר בהבנת הרעיונות, שמאירים ממש את המציאות, וסוללים דרך לגאולה על ידי אור הדרכת התורה.
יש להעיר שבין זקני הרבנים מהדור הקודם, שגם הציבור החרדי מחשיבם כגדולי התורה, היו רבים שזכו לקבל השפעה חשובה ממרן הרב קוק זצ"ל. ואף שלא המשיכו את דרכו בהנהגת הציבור, הם קיבלו כמה מרעיונותיו ונותרו מעריציו ומכבדי דמותו עד יומם האחרון. וביניהם: הרב פרנק זצ"ל, הרב אויערבאך זצ"ל, הרב אלישיב זצ"ל, הרב ולדנברג זצ"ל. וכן יבדל"א הרב עובדיה יוסף שליט"א.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
A similar idea in the beginning of Hil Chagiga ch 1 (as noted by the Sha'agas Aryeh):
במה דברים אמורים שהוא חייב אחת על כל היום, בשהתרו בו התראה אחת; אבל אם התרו בו ואמרו לו, פשוט פשוט, והוא לבוש בו, ושהה כדי לפשוט וללבוש אחר שהתרו בו--הרי זה חייב על כל שהייה ושהייה שהתרו בו עליה,
ואף על פי שלא פשט
Even though the person is passively wearing clothes that contain kilayim and not doing any action, there is malkos because it took some action to get those clothes on in the first place. Similarly (and this may be a better example), the Rambam in Bi’as Mikdash ch 3 writes:
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Monday, August 05, 2013