Comments for Torah Musings Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:31:33 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on How Does A Tzadik’s Blessing Work? by blubluh Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:31:33 +0000 I think the difficulty in defining, let alone understanding, the concept of “bracha” presents itself much earlier in the Chumash. By the way, I am treating “brachos of thanks” – ie, birkas hane’enin” – as completely different phenomena, despite identical terminology.

In Breishis, 1:22, HaShem “blesses” sea creatures and fowl. Defining “bracha” as prayer in that case would be ironic, at the very least (is HaShem “praying” to himself and, if so, what does that mean?)

Prophesy or, better, the declaration of a fundamental change in “reality”, would seem a more satisfying definition of “bracha”.

Hence, a “blessing” from a tzaddik is somehow – obviously, with the buy-in from HaShem – supposed to alter the course of “reality”, in a more fundamental way than a prayer, which I would define as a request (in other words, prayer is less dependable than a bracha).

Comment on Daily Reyd by MiMedinat HaYam Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:54:07 +0000 The article doesn’t say those schools are government funded (or say if we are talking about “ultra” O schools that may or may not teach a credible secular studies program.)

Wikipedia on “ofsted” says they inspect all schools; but they are mired in ineffectiveNess over the past few years.

Comment on Daily Reyd by Nachum Lamm Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:39:36 +0000 “A lesson on the failure of coercion”

“Coercive” drafts have worked pretty well throughout history, including in Israel up until this day. Better to write “A lesson in the failure of a toothless law and a leadership determined not to enforce it combined with a population resistant to any sort of compromise.”

Comment on The Rain/Dew Inconsistency by micha Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:33:51 +0000 Since this post is more on the straight grammar, rather than the prior post about the hashkafah of tal, I think it’s worth repeating here fn 1, “Following the Vilna Gaon’s approach that prayer adheres to Biblical grammar.” If one is praying in Mishnaic Hebrew, as the Sepharadim do, it would definitely be “geshem”, as Mishnaic Hebrew has no pausal forms. This is also why they end the berakhah “borei peri hagefen”, rather than “hagafen” (as Ashkenazim and Teimanim [“hajafen”] do).

Rabbi Seth Mandel’s survey of siddur manuscripts, mentioned on Avodah, also turned up that Mishnaic Hebrew was more common for Ashkenazim as well at one point in history. In those siddurim, we have “sab’einu mituvakh, vesein chelqeinu besorasakh…” etc.. With the Mishnaic use of “-akh” ending for both masculine and feminine, rather than using “-ekha” for masculine. Although we never lost “Modim anakhnu Lakh”, rather than “Lekha”.

Comment on The Rain/Dew Inconsistency by Nachum Lamm Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:24:36 +0000 For the record- and anyone correct me if I’m wrong:

In the 19th century there was a push by midakdikim- essentially, religious maskilim- to “correct” the language of the siddur to match Biblical Hebrew. Many of these changes persist in the German minhag to this day. Thus we sometimes hear “Shelo Asani Nochri” (“Goy” in Tanach simply meaning “nation,” including Jews) or “BeSafa Berura U-Veni’ima Kedosha” (“Kedusha” not being a Tanach term) and so on.

So they searched through Tanach and saw that at the end of a phrase, including in the term “Morid HaGashem,” it’s a kamatz.

For some reason, this caught on especially among those who otherwise consider haskala treif. Thus Artscroll originally had “Geshem” and, while it was able to put “Gashem” in as an unobtrusive footnote in the all-Hebrew editions, had to plunk it right into the body of text in brackets in the later translated editions. (This was around the same time they bowed to pressure and redesigned their kamatzes- another story.)

Of course, the flaw with all these attempts is that the Siddur was written by Hazal, and they wrote Mishnaic Hebrew, not Biblical. So their language is completely acceptable, and trying to change it is a bit of a fool’s errand.

Comment on Dew’s Disappearing Comma by The Rain/Dew Inconsistency - Torah Musings Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:30:27 +0000 […] here for R. Ya’akov Kamenetsky’s explanation of this […]

Comment on Dual Aspects of a Human Being by micha Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:06:17 +0000 I would suggest that the third morning berakhah (placed together in older siddurim), Birkhas haTorah, is about the tools to walk the dialectic of body and soul.

Not on topic for the Rav’s thought, but it bothers me and maybe some reader knows…

“Asher Yatzar” refers to the human body as “ha’adam”. “E-lokai Neshamah” refers to “neshamah shenasata bi — the soul which you placed within me.” The resulting model is that a person is a body in which Hashem places a soul.

HOWEVER, I never thought of that as a particularly Jewish worldview. I can find sources that say that a person is a synthesis of body and soul. And I can find sources to show that a person is a soul who wears a body, or rides a body the way a tzadiq rides a donkey (chomer-chamor).

But that the person is the body, and the soul external to him?

Comment on Daily Reyd by joel rich Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:10:27 +0000 Question for those whose parents don’t follow R’ Shafran’s parent’s example – had his brush with outside thought came later, would the result have been the same?

Comment on Slaughterhouses, Sacrifice, and Sanctity by disqus_8xPnZogBVF Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:54:25 +0000 One thing you forgot: if the animal rearing and slaughter is not transparent and up to our ethical standards, we shouldn’t eat it. Period.

Unfortunately, this excludes almost all meat, eggs, and dairy available today, but it’s what Jewish values require of us, and is why so many chief rabbis (like Shlomo Goren, Shear Yashuv Cohen, Jonathan Sacks, David Rosen, etc.) — not to mention so many rabbis and Jews generally — have gone vegetarian.

Comment on Deception and Justification by Aryeh Baer Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:54:59 +0000 Joel Rich –
And yet the Torah itself shows no such reluctance. Neither does a host of rishonim (including the Ramban) and achronim. Case in point, many of the thoughts in my post above were from Rabbi Sacks.