Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Biblical vs. Rabbinic niddah rules, impacting fertility

Now this is interesting.

There is a difference between Biblical and Rabbinic niddah rules. Biblically, in many (though not all) instances, there is no waiting of 7 days after the termination of bleeding before going to the mikvah. But because (possibly as a result of Zaroastrian influences, as Dr. Elman has shown) in the times of the gemara, women accepted upon themselves to sit shiva nekiim for a drop of blood the size of a mustard seed, every niddah is treated as zavah, such that the number of days of niddah are effectively doubled. This universally accepted practice then becomes halacha.

I have heard it said that there is a practical benefit to this halacha as it has developed, in terms of fertility. Thus,
As the night that the woman ritually traditionally immerses is about 12 days after menstruation started, it often coincides with a woman's ovulation, and thus improves the chances of successful conception if sexual relations occur on that night.
However, new research would seem to indicate that the opposite is true, and that the Biblical rules of niddah would do more for fertility (discounting any issues of missing ovulation for some women). Thus, this article states:

Having sex every day improves the quality of men's sperm and is recommended for couples trying to conceive, according to new research.

Until now doctors have debated whether or not men should refrain from sex for a few days before attempting to conceive with their partner to improve the chance of pregnancy.

But a new study by Dr David Greening of Sydney IVF, an Australian centre for infertility and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, suggests abstinence is not the right approach.

He studied 118 men with above-average sperm DNA damage and found the quality of their sperm increased significantly after they were told to ejaculate daily for seven days.

Of course, this scientific evidence does not do anything to change the halacha.

Interesting Posts and Articles #169

  1. I revamped the structure of my parsha sources posts, such that there are now more sources, and more sections. There is now a section devoted to Rashi and his supercommentators, one for Ibn Ezra, one for Midrash, and one for Targum. Check it out.

  2. Herschel Tzig posts on the photoshopping out of a Rebbetzin of Satmar, by a frum newspaper in Eretz Yisrael. But he does not think the Photoshopping is such a big deal. He is more concerned with her role in the proceedings.

    But I think that in this case, it is not a Photoshop job. Rather, we know from the midrash that Miriam, as one of the midwives in Egypt, was sought after by Pharaoh. But the Egyptians were not able to see her because Hashem rendered her invisible, just as Pinchas turned invisible when hiding in the house of Rachav.

    It is not inconceivable that the Rebbetzin was of similar caliber to Miriam, and so where it would be appropriate for tznius concerns to not appear in a frum newspaper, she would simply miraculously disappear.

  3. MOChassid contemplates what is more annoying, a put-on Israeli accent or a put-on Yeshivish accent. I would lean towards the latter. One is a mistaken impression that this is the "correct" and precise pronunciation of Hebrew, while the other might be an impression that it is the more authentic form of Judaism. But those are just my impressions.

  4. Wolf howls at himself first, afterwards. There is, or should be, a difference between the conduct of the chazzan and a typical congregant, though.

  5. Via a Life in Israel post roundup, Joe Settler on a misrepresentation of the decision of a religious judge in Israel:
    Now I'm not a judge or a lawyer, but I simply don't see anything sexist or racist in this Judge's decision. In fact, he could have dropped the case right there, without any fine at all.

    Yet this story (without the leftwing newspapers mentioning the details) is being touted as proof that this judge is racist, sexist, and unqualified to be a Supreme Court judge.
  6. The Five Towns Jewish Times had a Gimmel Tammuz essay comparing those who opposed the Lubavitcher Rebbe or Chabad as akin to Dasan and Aviram. See my comments here. And as a plus, in the comment section, considering whether Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz was a closet Sabbatean.

  7. Wired on scamming fake news sites, and how real news sites help them along.

  8. From a while back, at Kabbalah u'Madda: the Rambam, and whether the moon landing was faked. The Rambam apparently said that the material for the moon differed from the material on earth. When the moon landing occurred, Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky concluded that the Rambam was wrong. Though this story was later edited out:
    R. Nosson Kaminetsky told the following story about his father, R. Yaakov Kaminetsky, and the moon landing. (It is a great lecture and well worth listening to if you haven’t already. Here is the link to Of Bans, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, ) When they were broadcasting the moon landing on TV, R. Yaakov went to a neighbor’s house to watch the moon landing. He wanted to see whether or not Rambam was correct about the moon being different from the Earth. After seeing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldron on the moon, he concluded that the in fact Rambam was mistaken. In this instance his halakhah followed Aristotle and did not follow Chazal.
    Though I am no expert in these matters, I would add that I am not convinced that Rambam saying this is based on Chazal rather than based on Aristotle. Indeed, this appears to be one of the things Galileo disproved from Aristotle. Thus:

    It was his artist's eye that finally cut through our inability to see the moon's surface for what it was. For Aristotle the moon had been a perfect sphere, and that was how people still saw it in 1609. A perfect sphere, of course, is perfectly smooth. The pure moon was not of base earth. The 16th century Church had used it as a symbol for the Immaculate Conception. In 1609, an innocent was not called pure as the driven snow, but rather pure as the moon. People thought the markings they saw on its surface were merely mirror images of the imperfect earth.

    Then an Englishman, Thomas Harriot, got his hands on one of the new Dutch telescopes and produced a crude sketch of the moon's surface. He drew the terminator, separating light and dark, as a jagged line. But he didn't suggest that the moon's surface itself was jagged. Instead, he was puzzled as to why a jagged line would appear on a smooth sphere.

    Five months later, Galileo turned his own home-made telescope on the moon. He hadn't yet seen Harriot's sketch and he had two advantages. For one thing, it was he who'd already put in motion a revolution that would overturn 2000 years of Aristotelian thinking. He wasn't committed to a perfect moon.

    Galileo's second advantage was that he was an artist. He made a set of sepia drawings of the moon in its changing phases. They were beautiful drawings with a wondrous luminescent glow. Yet they left no doubt about the pockmarked surface. When other people saw his drawings they promptly saw what they hadn't been able to see before. Their moon changed from smooth to rough in a blink -- like the shift in an optical illusion.

    There was also a scientific reason to disagree with Aristotle, on the basis of optics:
    In Europe, Aristotle's theory was first convincingly discredited by the work of Galileo Galilei. Using a telescope, Galileo observed that the moon was not entirely smooth, but had craters and mountains, contradicting the Aristotelian idea of an incorruptible perfectly smooth moon. Galileo also criticized this notion theoretically – a perfectly smooth moon would reflect light unevenly like a shiny billiard ball, so that the edges of the moon's disk would have a different brightness than the point where a tangent plane reflects sunlight directly to the eye. A rough moon reflects in all directions equally, leading to a disk of approximately equal brightness which is what is observed.
    So if Rambam said what he said, it was likely the result of Aristotle, not Chazal. And while a moon landing might provide concrete eyewitness evidence that Aristotle was wrong, this was disproven many years previous.

  9. Rabbi Slifkin, at Rationalist Judaism, contrasts a rationalist vs. non-rationalist approach to the reasons for mitzvot.

  10. Mystical Paths takes note of a troubling decision in Israel regarding granting kashrus certification to a messianist.

  11. Rabbi Yaakov Klass instructs a baal teshuva on how to prioritize mitzvot. The question:
    QUESTION: I am a ba'al teshuva and as such I am so grateful at having found G-d, even at this stage in my life. As such I find great difficulty at times to judge and carefully weigh my actions especially as it relates to the various mitzvot which, one who is born religious just does automatically, or so my friends tell me. Is there any guide that will offer me the ability to organize my mitzvah performance relative to their rewards and importance?
    But counseling on tadir vs. non-tadir, or any of the other halachic classifications in the previous segments of these series, seems to me to be beside the point. I don't think the question was -- or should have been -- to know a series of mechanical rules to apply to make such a decision and prioritization. Rather, it is how to react organically and fluidly as a practicing Jew. Imposing a new system of rules, however correct they may be, would seem to go against this very idea this person's friends are telling him. This is more cultural and mimetic.

Did the Amoraim rely on Divine knowledge of medicine, or on contemporary gentile medicine?

Here is what I would consider to be a good source. Both Rabbi Yochanan and Abaye lacked knowledge of how to treat scurvy on the gums. And they turned to non-Jewish people who told them of the cure. Thus, in Avodah Zarah 28a and elsewhere:
R. Johanan was troubled with scurvy [on his gums] and he went to a certain [heathen] lady who attended to him on the Thursday and the Friday. Said he: What about to morrow? She replied: You will not need [the treatment]. But what if I do need it? he asked. She replied: Swear unto me that you will not reveal [the remedy]. Said he: I swear, to the God of Israel I will not reveal it. She then divulged it to him and on the morrow he referred to it in the course of lecturing. But did he not swear unto her? — He swore: 'To the God of Israel I will not reveal it,' [implying that] I may reveal it to His people Israel. But is this not a profanation of the Name? He mentioned [that proviso] to her originally.
What did she apply to it? — Said R. Aha the son of Raba: Leaven-water with olive oil and salt. Mar son of R. Ashi said: Geese-fat smeared with a goose-quill. Said Abaye: I did all this but was not cured, until a certain Arab told me to get seeds of an olive not one third ripe and burn them on a new spade and spread [the ashes] on the gums; which I did and was cured.
Not only that, but Rav Acha bar Rava and Mar bar Rav Ashi argue what that cure was. How could they argue about this metzius? Should they not know it beruach hakodesh? And then it does not even work! This would imply that Chazal can be wrong in science!

If Rabbi Yochanan mystically knew how to treat scurvy on the gums, why did he have to mislead the gentile woman with a false vow? (Though the gemara makes it into a provision she knew before.) But even with all this, why should he have to seek this knowledge from her? He should have known it already! And the same with Abaye, who tried ineffective treatments first. What happened to sod Hashem liyreav?

Furthermore, are you going to grant the Chazon Ish ruach hakodesh to know this sort of stuff but restrict it from Rabbi Yochanan and Abaye?!

I am sure that some of these questions can be answered without too much of a kvetch. But I don't think all of them can. Rather, pashut peshat in this gemara is that Chazal, at times, relied on contemporary science from the gentiles. (I would add, this is a good thing, and an additional reason to should respect Chazal.)

New from Google Adsense - Ad Review Center

At least I think it is new. This is better than the competetive ad filter. Depending on the settings, some ads can still get through. But it is better. I haven't gotten it working yet, and they write at the bottom "Due to backend limitations, we cannot support sites with more than 100 web properties associated with them (for example, hosting or blog sites)". So perhaps I won't manage to get it to work. Anyway, they write:

Introducing the Ad Review Center

The Ad Review Center is a new publisher tool which enables you to allow or block specific placement-targeted ads, giving you more transparency and control over the placement-targeted ads appearing on your sites. You can choose to allow or block individual ad groups and advertisers, as well as filter ads by type.

When you block ads in the Ad Review Center, you'll need to provide the reason for blocking the ad group or advertiser. We use this information internally to help improve products and share it with advertisers to help them improve their campaigns. This feedback gives advertisers more insight on how to create ads that are relevant to your site. By opting into the Ad Review Center, you allow us to tell advertisers you have blocked their ads, as well as share your reason for doing so.

Once you enable the Ad Review Center, there will be two options available to you for reviewing ads: auto-allow or manual review. We recommend you choose to automatically allow all ads for advertisers you trust, and to review all other incoming ads as often as possible. Please note that when you first opt into the Ad Review Center, you will only see ads targeted to your site since opting in. You should see previously targeted ads in the allowed bin over the next day or two.

Due to backend limitations, we cannot support sites with more than 100 web properties associated with them (for example, hosting or blog sites). If your account is associated with such a site in the future, we may disable access to the Ad Review Center. Please contact your Account Manager if you have further questions.

Rav Yaakov Emden and Opponents of the Rebbe and Chabad: Like Korach and his Edah?

In a Mishna in Avos:
כָּל מַחֲלוֹקֶת שֶׁהִיא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, סוֹפָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם. וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, אֵין סוֹפָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם. אֵיזוֹ הִיא מַחֲלוֹקֶת שֶׁהִיא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, זוֹ מַחֲלוֹקֶת הִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי. וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, זוֹ מַחֲלוֹקֶת קֹרַח וְכָל עֲדָתוֹ:
And so naturally, anyone who feels he is being wronged and the target of an unfair attack will classify the machlokes as the latter, rather than the former.

In an Anonymous comment last week (please choose a pseudonym) on parshat Korach, someone wrote:
Somone Showed me a funny comment from Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz as we all know Yackov did not want to mentioned But said Rav Yonasan I have myown Yackov Reb Yackov Emden.
If i Remeber the sefer I will post it.
This is very funny. Meanwhile, while some might allege that Rav Yaakov Emden was acting out of jealousy for the position, I think that he honestly believed that Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz was a closet Sabbatean. (And there is some good evidence that he was correct in his allegations.) But by saying this, the strong implication is that this is a machlokes Korach vaAdato.

Related to this, there was a first page essay in the Five Towns Jewish Times in honor of Gimmel Tammuz asserting that those rabbis and others who opposed the Rebbe and Chabad were simply troublemakers, who wanted a fight. And that they are to be compared to Dasan and Aviram. Thus, a small sampling:
Professional Rabble-Rousers

These four incidents paint a fairly accurate picture of Dasan and Aviram’s characters. They were not idealistic adversaries, disputing Moshe for ideological reasons; the fact is that they quarreled between themselves too, independent of Moshe. Nor were they driven by envy, seeking the power and prestige possessed by Moshe; the fact is that they fought Moshe long before he became a leader.


If They Only Knew…

This Thursday, June 25, the third of Tamuz, marks the 15th anniversary of the passing of one of the great leaders of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn.

One of the most outstanding features of the Rebbe was the way he dealt with those who opposed him. Sadly, some individuals in the Jewish world never missed an opportunity to criticize the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to denigrate him and scoff at him. Some individuals even made it an important mission to sow hatred against him and his movement among their students. Motivated by ideology, ignorance, envy, or arrogance, these people made his life difficult. And yet, the Lubavitcher Rebbe never ceased to love them and seek ways to terminate the animosity and separation. The Rebbe never made peace with the fact that “some Jews just won’t get along with each other.” He loathed disunity among Jews and sought every opportunity to foster mutual respect and affection.

I always remember thinking that if the Rebbe’s opponents would only know how much he cared for their well-being, they could never harbor negative sentiments toward him.

I am not making a statement that all those, or any of those, who opposed the Rebbe or Chabad beliefs, were or were not rabble-rousers. Still, it is interesting how these patterns emerge.

Similarly, we see that in the time of the Shabbetai Tzevi controversy, people had to account for the opposition of some very frum-seeming rabbis against their mashiach. The answer was that these rabbis, deliberately or innocently, had something spiritually wrong with them, were the erev rav, etc., an idea which manifests itself nowadays. (The erev rav are associated with machlokes shelo leshem shamayim according to Tikkunei Zohar.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chukat sources

by aliyah
rishon (Bamidbar 19:1)
sheni (19:18)
shelishi (20:7)
revii (20:14)
chamishi (20:22)
shishi (21:10)
shevii (21:21)
maftir (21:34)
haftara, with Kli Yakar, Malbim, Ralbag (Shofetim 11)

by perek

Judaica Press Rashi in English and Hebrew
Shadal (here and here)
Daat -- with Rashi, Ramban, Seforno, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Rabbenu Bachya, Midrash Rabba, Tanchuma+, Gilyonot
Gilyonot Nechama Leibovitz (Hebrew)
Tiferes Yehonasan from Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz
Chasdei Yehonasan
Toldos Yitzchak Acharon, repeated from Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz -- not until Balak
Even Shleimah -- from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich
R' Saadia Gaon's Tafsir, Arabic translation of Torah (here and here)
Collected commentary of Saadia Gaon on Torah
Zohar, with English translation
Baal Haturim
Baal Haturim (HaAruch)
Torat Hatur
Imrei Shafer, Rav Shlomo Kluger
Ateret Zekeinim
Mei Noach
Arugat HaBosem
Yalkut Perushim LaTorah
R' Yosef Bechor Shor
Ibn Gabirol -- not until vaEtchanan
Rabbenu Yonah
Aderet Eliyahu (Gra)
Kol Eliyahu (Gra)
Sefer Zikaron of Ritva
Chiddushei HaGriz
Noam Elimelech
Michlal Yofi
Nesivot Hashalom
Tzror Hamor
R' Eleazer miGermayza
Tanach with He'emek Davar -- Netziv

The following meforshim at JNUL. I've discovered that if you click on the icon to rotate sideways, change to only black and white, select only the portion which is text, it is eminently readable on paper.
Ralbag (pg 312)
Chizkuni (JNUL, 122)
Abarbanel (304)
Shach (233)
Yalkut Reuveni (pg 142)
Sefer Hachinuch (pg 120)
Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite (206)

Daat, Rashi In Hebrew (perek 19, 20, 21)
Judaica Press Rashi in English and Hebrew
MizrachiMizrachi (on Rashi, 258, JNUL)
Gur Aryeh (Maharal of Prague) -- and here
Berliner's Beur on Rashi (here and here)
Commentary on Rashi by Yosef of Krasnitz
R' Yisrael Isserlin (on Rashi, 14, JNUL)
Two supercommentaries on Rashi, by Chasdai Almosnino and Yaakov Kneizel
Rav Natan ben Shishon Shapira Ashkenazi (16th century), (JNUL, pg 134)
Levush HaOrah
Yeriot Shlomo (Maharshal)
Moda L'Bina (Wolf Heidenheim)
Dikdukei Rashi
Mekorei Rashi (in Mechokekei Yehuda)
Yosef Daas
Nachalas Yaakov
Medayek HaRashi
Prachei Rashi
Also see Mikraos Gedolos above, which has Rashi with Sifsei Chachamim

ibn ezra
Daat, Ibn Ezra in Hebrew (perek 19, 20, 21)
Mechokekei Yehudah, (Daat)
Mechokekei Yehudah (HebrewBooks)
Mavaser Ezra, a supercommentary on Ibn Ezra
R' Shmuel Motot (on Ibn Ezra, pg 43, JNUL)
Ibn Kaspi's supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, different from his commentary (here and here) -- not until Balak
Mekor Chaim, Ohel Yosef, Motot
Avi Ezer
Tzofnas Paneach
Ezra Lehavin
Also see Mikraos Gedolos above, which has Ibn Ezra with Avi Ezer

Daat, Ramban in Hebrew (perek 192021)
R' Yitzchak Abohav's on Ramban (standalone and in a Tanach opposite Ramban)
Kesef Mezukak
Rabbi Meir Abusaula (student of Rashba)

Targum Onkelos opposite Torah text
Shadal's Ohev Ger on Targum Onkelos
Chalifot Semalot
Avnei Tzion -- two commentaries on Onkelos
Bei`urei Onkelos
Or Hatargum on Onkelos
Targum Yonatan
Commentary on Targum Yonatan and Targum Yerushalmi
Midrash Rabba at Daat (19)
Midrash Tanchuma at Daat (19)
Bamidbar Rabba, with commentaries
Midrash Tanchuma with commentary of Etz Yosef and Anaf Yosef
Commentary on Midrash Rabba by R' Naftali Hirtz b'R' Menachem
Matat-Kah on Midrash Rabba
Nefesh Yehonasan by Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz
Midrash Aggada (Buber)
Yalkut Shimoni
Tanach with Sifrei, Torah Or, and HaTorah veHamitzvah

haftarah (Shofetim 11)
Haftarah in Gutnick Edition
Rashis in English
As a haftara in a chumash Bamidbar, with Ralbag, Malbim, Kli Yakar
In a Tanach with Targum, Radak, Ralbag
Yehuda Ibn Bilaam (11th century Spanish parshan), in Judeo-Arabic
Daat, which includes Yalkut Shimoni
Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite

How atypical is Korach's lineage?

I believe it is extremely atypical. And I premised a good part of my analysis of the midrash on that fact. But others may disagree. Thus, Chaim B. of Divrei Chaim commented on my past post:
The Torah traces lineage back numerous times and never goes all the way back to the Avos (see Maharal).
I replied that I don't believe this to be the case. (See there.) But here, in this followup post, I would like to explore this idea further. What do we consider "tracing back lineage?"

Looking at the Maharal in Gur Aryeh, we have:
"And it does not mention 'son of Yaakov'."
And if you will say that it does not need so write 'son of Yaakov' for in every place it only mentions the lineage until the tribe, and from then on, it is known by itself, so why is it necessary to write further?
And he goes on to analyze and suggest.

However, I do not agree that this lineage throughout Torah proves anything. What seems to be almost unique about Korach is that as a person, he is introduced as A ben B ben C ben D. This is not the same as a genealogy. In a genealogy, we work from the top down. Start from Reuven, and say his sons, and their sons, and so on. But this is no genealogy, in a genealogical section. Within a narrative section, when introducing a person, the pattern is A ben B, or perhaps A ben B of the tribe of Z.

Look for example at that very pasuk with Korach. How are Datan and Aviram's genealogy? How is that of On ben Pelet?
א וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח, בֶּן-יִצְהָר בֶּן-קְהָת בֶּן-לֵוִי; וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב, וְאוֹן בֶּן-פֶּלֶת--בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן.1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;
Korach is Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehat ben Levi. There is no gap in generations, so it seems as if we are simply recounting ben achar ben all the way up. In which case it is somewhat strange to stop one short.

Meanwhile, Datan and Aviram are brothers, but it is Datan ben Aliav ben Reuven. That is A ben B, son of tribe_name. Eliav was not one of the sons of Reuven. Rather, he was the son of Pallu, who in turn was the son of Reuven. So we are not enumerating every single generation, and so there is no sudden stop at Reuven. Reuven is the tribal affiliation in this instance.

How many instances in all of Tanach -- that is right, forget this claim of all of Torah, but rather all of Tanach -- where we have A son of B son of C son of D son of E son of F son of G son of H son of I son of J son of K son of L and so on and so forth, all the way to one of the 12 brothers?! That is the comparison, not the lineages in general, where indeed you would expect to find this pattern! I would expect that they could be counted on one hand. And so, this pattern, whether or not Yaakov was mentioned, is atypical, and calls out to be darshened. And then the various reasons for darshening I discussed in that post, and in the comments to that post, come into play.

So again, it is not just the stopping at the level of shevet. That seems to be to be a superficial treatment of the style here. And the question of Maharal thus never gets off the ground.

I should note that just there in Divrei Hayamim we have this pattern. On occasion we see Z, Y his son, X his son, W his son, and so on, but I would say it is rather atypical to have the genealogy go in the opposite direction with such comprehension. But in Divrei Hayamim I 6:
יח וְאֵלֶּה הָעֹמְדִים, וּבְנֵיהֶם: מִבְּנֵי, הַקְּהָתִי--הֵימָן הַמְשׁוֹרֵר, בֶּן-יוֹאֵל בֶּן-שְׁמוּאֵל.18 And these are they that took their station, and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel;
יט בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-יְרֹחָם, בֶּן-אֱלִיאֵל, בֶּן-תּוֹחַ.19 the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah;
כ בֶּן-ציף (צוּף), בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-מַחַת, בֶּן-עֲמָשָׂי.20 the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai;
כא בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-יוֹאֵל, בֶּן-עֲזַרְיָה, בֶּן-צְפַנְיָה.21 the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah;
כב בֶּן-תַּחַת, בֶּן-אַסִּיר, בֶּן-אֶבְיָסָף, בֶּן-קֹרַח.22 the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah;
כג בֶּן-יִצְהָר, בֶּן-קְהָת, בֶּן-לֵוִי, בֶּן-יִשְׂרָאֵל. {ס}23 the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. {S}
כד וְאָחִיו אָסָף, הָעֹמֵד עַל-יְמִינוֹ--אָסָף בֶּן-בֶּרֶכְיָהוּ, בֶּן-שִׁמְעָא.24 And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand; even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea;
כה בֶּן-מִיכָאֵל בֶּן-בַּעֲשֵׂיָה, בֶּן-מַלְכִּיָּה.25 the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah;
כו בֶּן-אֶתְנִי בֶן-זֶרַח, בֶּן-עֲדָיָה.26 the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah;
כז בֶּן-אֵיתָן בֶּן-זִמָּה, בֶּן-שִׁמְעִי.27 the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei;
כח בֶּן-יַחַת בֶּן-גֵּרְשֹׁם, בֶּן-לֵוִי. {ס}28 the son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi. {S}
כט וּבְנֵי מְרָרִי אֲחֵיהֶם, עַל-הַשְּׂמֹאול--אֵיתָן, בֶּן-קִישִׁי, בֶּן-עַבְדִּי, בֶּן-מַלּוּךְ.29 And on the left hand their brethren the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch;
ל בֶּן-חֲשַׁבְיָה בֶן-אֲמַצְיָה, בֶּן-חִלְקִיָּה.30 the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah;
לא בֶּן-אַמְצִי בֶן-בָּנִי, בֶּן-שָׁמֶר.31 the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer;
לב בֶּן-מַחְלִי, בֶּן-מוּשִׁי, בֶּן-מְרָרִי, בֶּן-לֵוִי. {ס}32 the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. {S}

and you might have others on occasion, with multiple generations, though not all the way to the shevet. Thus, in perek 9 in Divrei Hayamim I:
יב וַעֲדָיָה, בֶּן-יְרֹחָם, בֶּן-פַּשְׁחוּר, בֶּן-מַלְכִּיָּה; וּמַעְשַׂי בֶּן-עֲדִיאֵל בֶּן-יַחְזֵרָה בֶּן-מְשֻׁלָּם בֶּן-מְשִׁלֵּמִית, בֶּן-אִמֵּר.12 and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer;
This is not the same phenomenon to which Maharal is referring, and even this is atypical and differs from these occasional examples.

Interesting Posts and Articles #168

  1. Cross-Currents on A. Y. Karelitz, M.D. Would the world be better off has the Chazon Ish become a doctor? Well, the matzah industry would not be so well off... And my own take on a throwaway line that received some slight attention in the comment section -- is it unimportant how the Chazon Ish knew urology? I would say it is critically important.

  2. Rabbi Lazer Brody on how abortionists prevent the coming of mashiach, which is why the best of doctors go to heck:
    So, when for some reason the baby is not born, then the soul cannot leave "Body" (or 'Guf' in the original Hebrew), the heavenly warehouse for unborn souls. Until Guf is empty, Moshiach is delayed in arriving.
    Similarly, those who preach (even) abstinence to high-schoolers will have to answer for it after 120 years, since they are delaying mashiach's coming. And Rabbenu Gershom has a lot to answer for for not allowing men to take multiple wives.

    This is an interesting idea in general, in terms of how it may work with other conceptions of mashiach's coming. If we are working with the ketz, then this was destined to happen until that predetermined ketz, such that all this was calculated in advance. And if we are not working with the ketz, but with the massive teshuvah or the opposite of kelal yisrael, then is he saying that it cannot come? We daily await his coming, and in the gemara, Eliyahu said that he could come tomorrow if everyone did teshuva, presumably despite not all the souls having come down in those times.

    Leaving aside kabbalah, there are major halachic disputes about the propriety of abortion in certain cases, having to do with the mother's health and possibly even the mother's psychological health. Consult your posek and rebbe for such an important and painful life decision, and don't be guilted by thoughts that you are doing something terrible in delaying mashiach.

  3. At Daas Torah, a teshuva from Rav Reuven Feinstein on kiruv and intermarriage, and its implications. Check out the comment sections.

  4. Life In Israel on an interesting "machlokes" on prayers that don't work -- whether it is shaatnez or talking during davening, with the latter based on this Hebrew article. And see the translation and comments at Vos Iz Neias.

  5. Finally, an explanation for crop circles. Nope, not divine messages, or coming from UFOs. Not even drunk and/or bored farmers, this time. Rather, drugged wallabies. Reminds me slightly of the actions of Shimshon Hagibbor.

  6. Orthonomics on paying yeshiva tuition, and a plea not to charge it to a credit card.

  7. Brisk Yeshivish has been hoping for some attention for his blog. So here is a link to the Rebbe and Meshichism for Dummies.

  8. On a post of mine about transforming prayer for others into a segulah, an anonymous commenter noted that in the last five minutes of this shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, he goes off on the challah-baking segulah by 40 women. (Initially, you cannot skip to the end. The entire video has to load, but not play, before you can skip to where you want to skip.) However, note that he leaves the door open for challah baking as a supplement to more typical methods, such as teshuva, tefillah, and tzedaka. And note that part of the ritual that has evolved for this challah baking is to daven for the sick person and so give some tzedaka, IIRC to Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes to make it an even better segulah.

  9. Menachem Mendel on Ibn Gabirol meets Rock 'n Roll.

  10. E-man links to my post on Ralbag's position about the relative roles of Korach vs. Datan and Aviram, and portrays it as an extension of the midrashic occupation with making Datan and Aviram at the center of all sorts of negative events.

  11. Ishim veShittos on incantation bowls and how early the name Raziel appeared.

  12. Rationalist Judaism on "Tone" or Approach. I would say that the person he is responding to is being silly. It is not a matter of mere tone to refuse to come to a conclusion. And saying "I don't understand the gemara" is not the same as saying "I understand the gemara in accordance with the Rishonim that Chazal can err in science." This is no mere difference in "tone." It is unfortunate that "frumkeit" and false modesty make people believe that they are not allowed to think.

    And meanwhile, if one refuses to come to a conclusion out of piety, there is little to no chance of making use of a conclusion. And understanding that, and how, Chazal made use of contemporary science is potentially extremely useful in coming to understand the correct peshat in countless gemaras.

    Furthermore, so many of these non-rationalists are under the mistaken impression that saying Chazal relied on contemporary science and thus erred on occasion detracts from Chazal. In fact, it is just the opposite! I have greater respect for them for this. They did not close their minds to evidence and to knowledge from secular sources, thinking that scientific statements about the world from centuries past were Divinely given. Rather, we see from explicit examples and many implicit examples that they looked to contemporary science. They believed in Torah UMaddah on some level! Which we rationalists respect greatly, even as some non-rationalists do not. That occasionally, or frequently, this led to adopting mistaken positions is no reflection on the piety, or the intelligence of those who held these up-to-date scientific positions.

The segulah of Amtelai bas Karnevo

Life in Israel takes note of an interesting segulah, which I hadn't heard of before -- that of saying Amtelai bas Karnevo, who midrashically is Avraham Avinu' mother, some number of times in order to get hatzlacha for X. Seems awfully superstitious to me. But anyway, he writes:
Today I found out that it is not just frum jews who are driven by the segulah craze, doing every segulah they hear of and ascribing more importance to many segulahs than to basic mitzvahs and behaviors. Traditional Jews always were known to do segulahs too, but today i found out the secular Jews do segulahs as well.

It seems there is a "segulah" to say the name Amtelai Bas Karnevo in order to be granted success. After some discussion with a secular jew who has done this and knows other people who do it as well, it seems it is a generic segulah and can be used for hatzlacha in almost any endeavor - she used it for a university test...
See there for the particular form of the segulah. He asks what its basis is. So I did a bit of research (or rather, Google search), and I accumulated the following.

Firstly, it seems that its basis is in the Chida. Thus, in a question and answer to hidabroot:
מי היתה אמתלאי בת כרנבו?
ומהי הסגולה לומר את שמה?

שלום וברכה

בתלמוד (מסכת בבא בתרא דף צא):ק

"אָמַר רַב חָנָן בַּר רַבָּא אָמַר רַב, אִימֵּיהּ דְּאַבְרָהָם - אַמְתְּלַאי בַת כַּרְנְבוֹ. אִימֵּיהּ דְּהָמָן - אַמְתְְּלַאי בַת עוֹרַבְתָּא. אִימֵּיהּ דְּדָוִד - נָצְבָת בַּת עֲדָאֵל שְׁמָהּ. אִימֵּיהּ דְּשִׁמְשׁוֹן - צְלָלְפוֹנִית. לְמַאי נַפְקָא מִינָא? לִתְשׁוּבַת הַמִּינִים".

וביארו ראשונים שזוהי הוכחה נגד האפיקורסים שאינם מודים בתורה שבעל פה אלא בתורה שבכתב בלבד. ולהם אנו עונים, אילולי הקבלה שבידינו איש מפי איש מנין היינו יודעים דברים אלו שאינם מפורשים בתורה שבכתב, ומאחר שאתם מודים בזה שהוא ממה שקבלנו איש מפי איש, ולא בדינו את הדברים מליבינו, תודו גם בתורה שהוא בעל פה וכל דבר שהוא בידינו, אינו אלא קבלה איש מפי איש.

ואכן יש בהזכרת שמה של אם אברהם אבינו סגולה, כפי שהביא הגאון החיד"א זצ"ל בספרו עבודת הקודש [כף אחת - ט]:ד

"סגולה להולך לפני מלך או שר ומושל. יאמר שבעה עשר פעמים אַמַתְלָאִי בַּת כַּרְנְבוֹ, קודם שיעמוד לפניו".

בהצלחה - מנשה ישראל

In terms of people recommending doing this, see here and here and here.

Perhaps the fact that it is a bit of knowledge, according to the give and take of the gemara (Bava Basra 91a) as a response to heretics, for this is only Oral knowledge, the merit of acknowledging this helps. But why specifically going before a melech or sar? Frankly, the whole thing smells of superstition to me. Next, we have to track down this Chida (in his sefer Avodat Hakodesh, Kaf Achat, 9) and see precisely what he says.

I would add one more reason to be wary. Amitlai, or rather Amiltai, is connected with the goat which nursed Zeus, and is the sign of the horn of plenty. This might then be connected with the segulah, in which case it might have roots in avodah zarah. Nothing sure, but here is the Jewish Encyclopedia article on the connection of the name Amiltai:
In Greek mythology, the goat, whose horn overflowing with nature's riches has become the symbol of plenty (the cornucopia), and that nursed the infant god Zeus with her milk. This name occurs twice in ancient Jewish legend: (1) Job's daughter, Kerenhappuch (Job, xlii. 14), is translated in the Septuagint "Amalthea's Horn," wherein the Hebrew words are reproduced. This daughter of Job, Amalthea's Horn, plays a prominent rôle as a type of saintly beauty in the "Testament of Job"—a Jewish apocrypha (see Kohler, "Testament of Job" in "Semitic Studies in Memory of Al. Kohut," p. 288); her "unicorn-like beauty" and her "smaragd-like radiance" are dwelt on also in B. B. 16b. (2) The name of Abraham's mother, called Edna (the Graceful One) in the Book of Jubilees (xi. 13), is said by Rab (B. B. 91a) to have been Amiltai, the daughter of Karnebo, which seems to be a corrupt reproduction of Amalthea-Keren-happuch, the daughter of Job—Job's and Abraham's histories being constantly interwoven in ancient legend. Possibly the Zeus legend prompted the name, as it is narrated that the infant Abraham was miraculously nourished by milk and honey in the cave where he was hidden.
Perhaps more as more surfaces.

Update: Here is more. I found it the Chida's sefer Avodat Hakodesh, Kaf Achat, 9. This is what he writes (starting at the bottom of the page):

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And yet, Shmuel does not say Chamud!

This felt like a quick and straightforward followup to an earlier post, about Moshe Rabbenu the accused adulterer. Towards the end of that post, I noted that in the Septuagint, rather that Moshe saying that he did not take a single donkey from them (or a donkey from any of them), he says
15 And Moses was exceeding indignant, and said to the Lord, Do thou take no heed to their sacrifice: I have not taken away the desire of any one of them, neither have I hurt any one of them.
This is quite clearly a corruption of חמוד for חמור. Surely donkey was the original, though I tried to work in חמוד into another midrash which developed.

Today it struck me that it would be worthwhile to check out what the Septuagint has for Shmuel I perek 12. After all, the haftarah is attached to that parsha specifically because of Shmuel echoing Moshe's complaint. And I would have something interesting to report whether they messed up this other text or not.

In Shmuel I 12, we have:
3 Behold, here am I, answer against me before the Lord and before his anointed: whose calf have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom of you have I oppressed? or from whose hand have I taken a bribe, even to a sandal? bear witness against me, and I will make restitution to you
Now, there is most certainly an influence between Shmuel's speech and Moshe's speech. And this borrowing must have happened fairly early. That is, Shmuel knew what Moshe said! It stands to reason that this text in Bamidbar stood there fairly early; and this would perhaps add to the evidence that the text before the translator of the Septuagint was corrupted. (It would have been interesting if both had חמוד.) Not that I think we really need further evidence.

Is it important how the Chazon Ish knew urology?

From Cross-Currents, a guest post from Rabbi Dovid Landesman, which begins:
I have an acquaintance in Los Angeles, a urologist who is also a well-respected talmid chacham. To establish his credentials let me say that he has completed three cycles as the maggid shiur in a local daf yomi. He told me recently that he received a call from a young man in Bnei Brak who was writing a sefer on hilchos k’rus shafchah and wanted to come to Los Angeles to consult on the medical aspects of the condition. The doctor agreed and when the mechaber arrived, they spent a week reviewing the material. One of the sources which they went through together was the Chazon Ish on Yoreh Deah.

My medical friend told me that he was absolutely astounded by the Chazon Ish’s mastery of anatomy as evidenced in his sefer and speculated what was the source of the Chazon Ish’s knowledge. Clearly he did not have a copy of Gray‘s Anatomy under his pillow. I raised the question to another friend, one of the local rabbonim, who showed me a teshuvah from Rav Wozner shlitah maintaining that the Chazon Ish had ruach kodesh. One of my more skeptical friends conjectures that since the Chazon Ish grew up in close proximity to the medical library of the university in Vilna, it is not unlikely that he may have spent some time in the reading rooms learning anatomy. Whatever the case, and it doesn‘t really matter which is the truth, many people will agree that the Chazon Ish was one of the outstanding minds of the past century.
Emphasis mine. Perhaps it doesn't really matter because that was not the point of the post, but rather whether the world would be better off had the Chazon Ish become a doctor and cured cancer.

But of course it does matter, and matters greatly, how the Chazon Ish knew this. If one maintains like one of the local rabbonim, then one can deduce that personal righteousness of an individual is sufficient to grant him knowledge from On High about scientific matters. סוד ה' ליראיו. If so, we might readily extrapolate that the present Gedolim, who are surely extremely righteous, have deep scientific knowledge of the workings of the world, despite their coming
from a culture which looks often down on secular knowledge. And if the Chazon Ish did not value studying secular subjects where they had relevance to halacha, but got the right answer anyway, then perhaps a posek need not make himself familiar with the metzius either. Nor is it likely to be deemed important for the hamon am to have some familiarity with modern science and medicine. And if you think a Gadol is simply wrong for maintaining a geocentric model of the universe, or a flat earth, or that gentiles have fewer teeth than Jews, or (and here to issues of greater concern) that the earth is young, or than evolution is nonsense and heresy, then you are not only a kofer but an ignorant one at that, for surely your shallow observations and the shallow observations of modern scientists are nothing compared with the truth which these tzadikim intuited with their ruach hakodesh.

And further, if this was true of the Chazon Ish, who was a recent Acharon, then al achas kama vechama it is true of Chazal. They must have had ruach hakodesh. And so one is a heretic for claiming that Chazal could err in science. If anything in the gemara appears to be scientifically inaccurate, the gemara either must be interpreted non-literally, with a convenient deep mystical significance, or else their science is true and it is the kofer scientists who are in the wrong.
On the other hand, if one maintains that the Chazon Ish was willing to make use of regular channels to achieve his knowledge of science and medicine; and that this was important information to get in order to render pesak, then we might derive another equally important set of conclusions. One is that there is not this automatic deep knowledge of all things medical and scientific on the basis on tzidkus. Therefore, a posek who eschews such knowledge, and paskens on such matters anyway, is giving a deficient pesak. One must know both Torah and the metzius. Furthermore, it is more likely for one to deem it important for the hamon am to be familiar with science. And if dentists all say that both Jews and gentiles have 32 teeth, yet a rabbinic source, or a modern Gadol says otherwise, then one is not a kofer for respectfully disagreeing with that Gadol, and perhaps even seeking psak in relevant matters from those rabbonim who are familiar with the science.

And furthermore, it is yet another example of rabbis in each time and place relying on the scientific knowledge of their time to make psak. If he read contemporary medical journals, then this is wonderful. But who says that all the information in those medical journals represented the precise reality? (On the other hand, in a matter of anatomy and which part goes where and functions how is going to be more or less accurate.) But science is often making great strides in development and adding new insights. And so we are saying that the Chazon Ish based himself on contemporary medical knowledge. Just as did Ibn Ezra; just as did Rambam. And then what about Chazal. Sure, we don't render them superhuman if they relied on contemporary medicine. But the approach is a normal, intelligent, and correct one for them to take. You need to apply Torah to reality, and you determine the reality as best you can for your time and place.

Rabbi Slifkin, in a comment on the post, reports:
I once asked Rav Gedaliah Nadel z”l, one of the foremost talmidim of the Chazon Ish, about the Chazon Ish’s medical knowledge. He told me that the Chazon Ish’s knowledge came from reading medical journals.
There you have it.

Meanwhile, the Chazon Ish's deep knowledge is used all the time to argue against science and the importance of science. In The Siddur Speaks to Us, published by Feldheim, it is used for precisely this purpose, in the context of emunas chachamim, to explain how Gedolim can pasken on matters studied in university when they haven't studied there. (Start from the second-to-last paragraph on the preceding page.)

There (and it is in the book) is this famous story of the Chazon Ish who suggested how to perform brain surgery, where he later said that he got the insight from hilchot traifah as described in Chullin. Thus, everything is contained in Torah.

But if he regularly studied medical journals, then this is where he got his knowledge from. If the story is indeed to be believed, and the additional detail that he got his insight from the gemara in chullin, I would say that it was a combined knowledge. Some detail in a gemara can spark an insight into the general science one knows, or a strong knowledge of science can help one understand what exactly the gemara is talking about.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Posts so far for parshat Korach

  1. Why it should not be lo *chamud* echad meihem nasasi --  Continuing a point from years past, I point out that the Samaritans also have chamud as opposed to chamor. But then explain why it is almost certainly incorrect. See also the posts from 2009, item 9, below.
  2. Ibn Ezra on deflecting curses -- I think that Rashi is absolutely correct in his explanation of העיני האנשים ההם, that it means Datan and Aviram, but that they are deflecting negative language towards others. Ibn Caspi agrees. Ibn Ezra does not, though lists it as one of several possibilities. Still, the way that he describes it seems to suggest that he does not "buy" into the idea that there is any point to such deflection.
  3. Korach sources -- revamped, with over 100 meforshim on the parashah and the haftarah.
  1. Korach sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, as well as to many meforshim on the parsha and haftara.

  2. Who in the world was Bedan? Two closed-canon approaches, and one open canon approach. In defense of the masoretic text.

  3. Korach was מקהה the teeth of his forebears. Part of a discussion of what this phrase means, and what it means in the Haggadah.

  4. The healing ketores? The poisonous ketores? It seems that Ibn Ezra is saying that the ketores Aharon used to stop the plague was not the famous ketores, but rather some special herbs with natural properties to stop the death. And some supercommentators take it further, that he is saying that earlier, the ketores of Korach, the 250 men, and possibly that of Aharon was the same herbs, which could potentially cause death, and that this was the mechanism by which they worked. And that Chazal hint to this. Related, see Rabenu Bachya reject this latter idea, and see Avi Ezer whitewash this and a related comment by Ibn Ezra. And see what seems to be the correct interpretation of that other Ibn Ezra.

  5. Careful with you tipcha, or you may blaspheme Hashem! So Minchas Shai. I analyze what the pasuk is like with the tipcha in its place, or without it in its place, as a parse. But as an Anonymous commenter points out, his concern may just be one of juxtaposition, even if the entire sentence does not make sense. This may be so, but even so, the parsing argument may be a different and valid model, and valid counterargument for when the resulting pasuk is rendered nonsensical, such that one would never choose the heretical parse.

  6. Did Ibn Ezra endorse idols? What is his position on whether Aharon sinned, and whether it is appropriate to fashion molten symbols of symbols of the zodiac to counter potentially harmful astronomical / mystical forces?

  7. Why did Korach choose now to rebel? According to Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz, it was because before he was planning to wait it out, but now Moshe would rule for the next forty years.

  8. Did Moshe not take a single donkey? Or did he not take a donkey of a single one of them? Trying to resolve this machlokes rishonim on the basis of trup and dikduk.

  9. Moshe Rabbenu, accused adulterer? What are the textual sparks of this midrash?

    Also, how in the parallel statement of Shmuel Hanavi, he does NOT say chamud.

  10. What is the big deal of the break in Korach's lineage? What is bothering Rashi? What is the basis of the midrash? And what is motivating Rashi? (link and post to come)

    And as a followup, how atypical is Korach's lineage?

  11. Dasan and Aviram were at fault, much more than Korach -- a surprising perush of Ralbag, found on parshat Pinchas, about who precisely was the driving force behind the rebellion.
  12. Rav Yaakov Emden and Opponents of the Rebbe and Chabad: Like Korach and his Edah? and what could motivate such accusations.
  1. What was Korach's charge?
    Shadal suggests that he believed in Hashem and in Moshe's shlichut, but thought that Hashem was a deity that could be controlled and influenced by particular services He liked, such that once the mishkan was built and the laws of sacrifices known, anyone could step into Moshe and Aharon's roles.

  2. Why was Levi called Levi?
    The description of shevet Levi as "joining" the kohanim is a pun.

  3. Cross-listed from Naso: What was the nature of the "bitter" waters? Ibn Ezra's explanation of the waters of Sotah, and how he connects it to the incense used to stop the plague. And supercommentaries' attempts to smooth this peirush over.

  4. Did Moshe poison Korach's ketores?! Rabbenu Bachya goes out of his way to say no.

  5. The metaphor of the tzitzis and the mezuzah, in Korach's "halachic" complaint to Moshe.

  6. A parsha roundup on Korach, and my reaction to points in the divrei Torah.

  7. A followup to a 2006 piece on the reason for the different trup on similar phrases in two pesukim. A messed up this follow-up, though the point still stands. Also associated with parshat Balak.
  1. In part of his Vikuach, about the Age of Trup, Shadal notes an instance in parshat Korach in which Rashbam diverges from the trup, such that where Eleazar collects the fire-pans, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה לוֹ refers to the instruction to collect them, rather than as the trups casts it, as the directive to Korach and his congregation.

  2. An important grammatical form
    evident in Vayikach Korach veDatan veAviram etc. The the singular verb can apply to a list of terms, and takes on the gender of the first term. This is important since others take this form as proof of multiple authorship in parshat Korach. But we see in parshat Ki Teiztzei and in parshat Behaalotecha how this form functions.

  3. The tzitzit mnemonic
    I discuss the Rashi on parshat Shelach about the tzitzis mnemonic. But I may run with it further in 2008 as it applies to the midrashic account of Korach's complaint.

  1. Why the Etnachta in the last pasuk of Balak?
    • I take apart a devar Torah which makes a derivation based on the fact that there is an etnachta in a pasuk, where contrasted to the same phrase elsewhere, there is no etnachta -- when in fact there is really no other serious choice.
  2. Korach Minyan
    • a hypothetical, with a lesson
  3. Aviram named for ancestor?
    • that's the part of this post that bears relevance to parshat Korach. The idea would be that it is derived from Avraham.
  1. Nadav, Avihu, and Korach
    • from Shemini. And how their actions, and ends alike.
  2. Nadav and Avihu vs. Korach's Edah
    • a midrashic rejection of the above
  3. The Mouth of the Earth
    • miracles and the natural order.
  4. Short-sighted foresight
    • a pattern of seeing the future, through astrology or prophecy, but misperceiving.
  5. How Many Tents?
    • I analyze trup. I consider the issues of Datan and Aviram vs. Korach's end, and the ambiguous pesukim. I resolve that the phrase mishkan-korach datan vaAviram is the Korachite tent of Dathan and Abiram, such that Korach does not enter the picture at all.
  6. Yirmiyahu's Multifunctional Almond Staff
    • Besides other implications, perhaps the almond staff Yirmeyahu sees is related to Aharon's almond staff. The allusion would be to the purpose of highlighting Yirmeyahu's chosenness, just like that of Aharon.
to be continued...


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