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Apr 9, 2006

measuring your matzo

I remember when I was a teenager, I do not remember the exact age or year, the one year before Pessach, my brother brought home the newest thing. He was very excited. It was a luminated chart delineating the exact sizes one needed to eat of the various mitvot for the Pessach Sedder. There was a square for the matzo and a rectangle for the lettuce (marror) and another one if you only eat the stalks rather than the leaves, etc.

The colors on it were awful, something like a really ugly brown, yellow and orange. It woul.d not work today and has since been redesigned and redecorated to look nicer. But then it was new and everybody was excited to have it and measure out exactly how much matzo and marror they would need to eat. I remember we prepared everything in advance that year and had piles of pre-measured matzos and lettuce which were handed otu during the sedder at the appropriate times. I do not remember what we did for those of us that ate actual marror (cut horseradish root), but there was probably a section on the chart for that as well.

In the following years, I refused to use the chart, while other persisted. The chart has taken "root" (pardon the pun) in religious homes and can very commonly be found erev pessach as children prepare the sedder plate. While everyone else around the table pull out their plastic bags pre-prepared with matzo and marror, I grab my matzo out of the box and I cut my horseradish root at the table (this year I might separate my Romaine lettuce leaves at the table as well, as of yet undecided on that) and dig in.

Why have I rejected the use of the matzo chart? It seems like an excellent tool.

Back then when I was younger, I did not know why I rejected it, I just knew I did not like it. As I got older and thought about it more I realized why I did not like it, and why I like it even less now. The matzo chart allows a person to eat the exact amount of matzo/marror required by halacha. I do not remember how it relates to the different opinions in the size of the kezayis or other shiurim, but it probably takes the largest of the sizes. This is wonderful, as eating the matzo is a mitzva m'deoraisa (Torah mandated mitzva) which is rare in our day and age, as most are m'drabanan (Rabbinic mandated mitzva). By using the chart one can be sure that he has fulfilled the Torah mandated requirement.

So if the chart is so wonderful, why do you dislike it so much?

I dislike the chart because it gives me a feeling of doing the mitzvot with no emotion. It makes it into a cold premeditated act. While it is true that most of the mitzvot I do are like that, cold and with little emotion and just an act of rote, I do now and again notice that I am doing that and try to improve my mitzva observance. I feel I have matured in my observance as I matured in my age and I have improved many of my mitzvot and infused them with some emotion and some less rote/habit.
The chart makes me feel like I am measuring my mitzvot and doing the mitzva with precise exactness. That is not how life is lived (even though I am a yekke). I do not remember ever seeing someone finish his matzo from his pre-prepared bag and then lean over to the box of matzo and take more. The chart means you are measuring out exactly how much you do the mitzva, both for the minimum and for the maximum.

The maximum is what bothers me. I prefer to take my mitzva and eat it. If I eat too much, that is even better. The chart is good for the minimum, but who wants to do just the bare minimum?

32 comments:

  1. well now you are venturing into the realm of my world. The typical breakdown between the sects of judaism are delineated by the emotional resonance of the culture. Meaning, orthodox jewry claims the the rules are themselves important regardless of a single persons attitude or beliefs and that the rules are a guide to growing closer to god. Further, that god gave the rules so that one had a set path to grow closer. One's emotion along this path is less important then the following of the rules...ein lshmah, bah lshmah. This lack of emotional resonance, cultural understanding, changing times and technology and historical anthropology are why the vast majorityof jews (and other religions) are not orthodox. Most jews celebrate judaism as a culture and history replete with emotion and replicate those rules, such as holiday observance, which have emotional resonance while discarding or understranding the vast majority of rules as man-made constructs. The point of those man-made rules are less about judaism then they were about the specific rabbis or leaders at the time responding to issues of that time and consolidation of power.

    This is not to say that orthodxy precludes emotional resonance, not at all, rather, emotional resonance as a concept is simply not the issue for orthodoxy, obeying the rules are the issue.


    p.s. MAZAL TOV

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  2. aneinu@sbcglobal.netApril 09, 2006 8:55 PM

    the chart is not a contradiction to emotion and enthusiasm - it is used and should be used as a minimum. When you are measuring it beforehand, add more if you want to be machmir.
    There should be a shaila in the poskim if adding more to the required amount is part of the mitzva.
    I personally have not used the chart for there are other variables in the shiur besides the size, such as thickness and that can make a huge difference

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  3. which is so my point. You can debate the size and other variables untill the point is honed to a legalistic razor's edge all in an effort to fufill the orthodox understanding of the mitzvah.
    Or, you can eat the matzah focused not on qunatity but on the event you are commeorating.

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  4. aneinu@sbcglobal.netApril 09, 2006 10:03 PM

    which runs the risk of commemorating without fulfilling the mitzva. performing the mitzva is the number one concern - not the only one but most important. That is why the Talmud discusses if Mitzvos requires kavanah, or even w/o it is still valid.
    I am not understating concentration , enthusiasm and intent - but one should make sure that comes about with fulfillment of the mitzva.
    There are other types of Judaism who stress 'feel good' Judaism.

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  5. All good points, which were the main idea of my post. I think people who would not be eating the correct measurement (i.e. people who are only going to nibble at the matzo because they are old or do not like matzo or do not believe or know of the shiur) are not going to use the charts anyway. the people who are using the charts will be eating more than enough if they did not have the charts. The charts serve the purpose of voiding the mitzva of most of the emotion/intent. (UNless someone can't eat alot for whatever reason and needs to know what his minimum is)

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  6. coming from the brother who brought you that chart, and still uses it, let me wxplain. I have the opposite feeling. for me, the chart made sure I qaulified - that I did at least as much as I am supposed to. I know that before the chart, there was not one of us who ate the "minimum" amount - we all guessed and laughed. The chart helps me focus on the mitzva. instead of grabbing "some" matzo and eating a handful, I take out the matzoh measure it out and then eat, satisfied that this is one of the few mitzvos I actually put some effort into doing correctly. It also makes me focus on the mitzva more than before,

    chag kasher v'sameach
    \
    bro shaya

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  7. Shaya - maybe so. if it helps you improve your mitzva, go for it. Maybe as a kid we ate a little bit of matzo which was not enough. As kids we did not know what we were doing anyway.
    As an adult I find it as I described it.

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  8. 'There are other types of Judaism who stress 'feel good' Judaism. "

    I know...isn't that just crazy, that some people want a religion/culture that has emotion and meaning and has not been pilpulled out of all recognition.

    Which makes for an interesting tangent. I am fascinated that Judaism (and other religions) have created a closed loop where if the leaders say something it creates an onus on the god to follow and enforce the new explanations...despite the minority status of orthodoxy...you'd think that if what the rabbis say is law, that the new laws should be based on what the majoraty of rabbis say, not a minor minority...which would then make the issue of matzah size less relevant because most the vast majority of rabbis nowadays would say that the commemoration is the important aspect...but like hillel and shamai, followers who believe in their minority sect rarely give credence to the majority explanation.

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  9. Orthodox might be a minority, but Orthodox is also the original and authentic, unchanged version. that is why (I think) Orthodoxy discounts other viewpoints on judaism, despite the Reform/Conservative/other sectors (none of these should be grouped together, but for arguments sake, why not) majority in the Jewish world. After all, they corrupted it to fit their needs and desires. Their corruption of Judaism does not give them the authority to decide what authentic Judaism is.

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  10. Orthodoxy is the origional unchanged version?

    so don't boil a calf in its mother's milk does follow with the sentances, and thou shalt have two sets of dishes and need a hechsher on parsely and thou shalt not have chicken with milk or fish with meat....who said god wants you to be machmer? the rabbis did...perhaps god only wanted us not to boil an animal in its mother's milk. The who geder lfnay hdin is a rabbinical construct. In your origional post you admit that most mitzvot are d'rabanan...why is making something more strict less of a corruption than making it more leniant?

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  11. of course now that I posted my response I bagan to recollect all the leniancies that the orthodoxy created to suit their needs...such as taking away animal sacrifice and polygamy and for jews to live outside of israel....so orthodoxy is proficient at corrupting the religion to make it stricter or weaker as their needs and desires demand.

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  12. aneinu@sbcglobal.netApril 10, 2006 2:02 AM

    Dan G

    In your first post, you mentioned that majority should rule - it got me to thinking that this is true - however in the times of the Rabbanan, the Rabbis who made these rules ( most of them were passed on from generation ) were basically the only ones - there were Tzidukim and Karoim who took the Biblical word literally, but they were an extreme minority. It's only now in the last hundred or so years that there is a new school of thought and these Rabbis are the ones who bend,cut off, distort the Torah for their own benefits - they might be a majority now, I dont know - but without a tradition to stand on.

    Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman says that majority rules only when there is a doubt.

    Thanks for the dialouge

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  13. There is always doubt...that is the point. The non-orthodox rabbis bend and cut-off as do the orthodox. In the days of the rabbonim there were many who disagreed and of varying understandings of interpertations. Whether it was hillel and shamai or the sanhedrin and jesus and james or the variety of kings and shoftim and kohanim gedolim who all had their interpratations. It is all too easy to say, this is the way it is and anyone who does different is doing wrong. It is much more difficult to say that this is one interpertation and this is anouther and both are valid because they are both based on perspective. Whether it is regarding the literal reading of the torah, or the strict orthodox legalistic reading or the cultural/anthropological reading of the reform/reconstructionist/conservative jews. They all have traditions. And their traditions all date back to the beginning. It is simply a matter of which tradition fits your perspective. The orthodox don't say the temple was detsroyed because the minutia of the mitzvot were not adhered to, they say it was destroyed over sinat chinom. so the rabonnim decided to do away with animal sacrifice and now we debate the size of a kzayit of matzah but have no korban pesach meanwhile the congregation that has mixed seating is the group that has changed the laws so radically?

    And thank you for the dialouge as well.

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  14. It seems like the word matzah has really taken on its literal meaning of strife. Allow me to settle the score here by stepping back and looking at the big picture. I lean towards Rafi's side of not using the chart, but on the other hand I agree with Shaya that one should know the minimum required. So obviously, we are looking at one family and different approaches, which is fine. Since we as Jews are all one family, we can agree to disagree, which is what Dan is doing here, I assume. However, we must understand something very fundamental about mitzvos, and Pesach especially. There are many mitzvos that are not performed nowadays, and yes, it is because we have no Bais HaMikdash. Yet, what is the reason that we have no Bais HaMikdash? Sinas Chinam. So, although many in the Orthodox camp do not even reckon with Reform and Conservative, we still have to recognize that we are all using "charts" to measure each other. Size of yarmulke, size of payos, size of beard etc. The Alter of Slabodka (I believe) said that when Reform created a new prayer book, the Germans yemach shemom will create a new order saying every Jew, regardless of affiliation, will be killed. Now, granted, we can blame the Reform for the holocaust, but we will probably all agree that the Reform and other deviant sects come from one perspective, which is, if I do not like what you are doing, then I will show you how it should be really done, or not done. This means that we have to make changes to show everyone we're still in, but on "our" terms. This is my question to the Conservative, Reform and beyond camp: “If you don't like it the way it is, why take part at all?” If you want to take part, and we encourage you to do so (I worked for Lev Leachim, an outreach organization in Israel) then you must use a "chart" to at least know what the bare minimum requirements are. To quote the Gemara, "psik reishi vlo yamus," if you cut off the chicken’s head, will it still live? You can't cut off the heads of the Jewish People, i.e. the rabanan, and expect the tradition to continue. So whether you use the chart or not, the most important thing to remember is that we can only measure our own mitzvah performance and no one else's.

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  15. aneinu@sbcglobal.netApril 10, 2006 5:32 AM

    Dan G

    3 things

    1. I dont think the arguments between Hillel and Shamai are comparable at all to the reconstructionists

    2. I dont believe the Reform had a tradition. It started in Germany as a break off - they themselves dont claim it as a tradition

    3. Why do you keep saying, the Rabbis got rid of animal sacrifice? This was done in the Temple and now there isnt any - besides problems with us being 'tamei' unpure to perform the services and other technical difficulties.

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  16. Absolutely no strife, rather an exchange of ideas...a tradition which dates back millenia.
    However, I have zero respect for anyone who blames the holecaust on jews. I think that is a disgusting concept. Not only do I not respect that thought I have nothing but contempt and disgust for anyone who would claim that a jew's belief is the cause of the holecaust. But I guess disgusting concepts are frequently normal and applauded in the name of god...whether it be hamas or the alter of slobodka or the frequent genocide that the early jews commited in the name of god when they killed every man, woman, child and beast.

    Now, to answer your questions as to
    "If you don't like it the way it is, why take part at all?” "

    The answer is not as you claim that "we will show you how it should be done" that is an orthodox explanation of someone elses belief. The actual reason,or one reason is that this is how some people enjoy and believe it may be done. It is a recognition and appreciation that there is no right or wrong way to be a jew. That we each struggle to find our path and no path is more righteous. It is not a competition as to who is right and who is wrong, it is an exchange of philosophies which may lead to understanding and harmony as to why each group functions as they do and finds fufillment in their ideology. Which is why I have donated my time and money to organizations like hillel (an outreach program to the orthodox so that they may join other groups)


    Moving on...
    while hillel and shamai's debates (which led to a massacare of the others students) may not be a direct link to the reconstructionists, the analogy holds because different understandings of judaism create vastly different behaviors. One of my orthodox brothers holds with the eruv. The eruv was enacted by virtually all the orthodox rabbis of the community. Meanwhile, anouther relative does not hold with the eruv and believes that my brother is mchallel shabat as if he were me and drove on shabat.
    The reform and conservative and reconstructionists have a tradition as well.Perhaps the orthodox refuse to recognize the tradition but that does not mean it isn't there. The tradition is based upon the same history as the orthodox, merely diffrent understandings, explanations and perspectives.
    As for the animal sacrifice;while I don't want to get hung up on a single issue because it was merely an example of orthodox rabbis changing the rules like many other changes enacted by the rabbis, the point is that the limitation of sacrifice to the bais hamikdash itself was a change in the rules to suit the needs and desires of the rabbis in charge. The torah spells out the rules and the need for sacrifice and rabbis adjusted the rules and then did away with it altogether. It could be done. It is not done. There is an issue of tamei, but even that is beside the point. The point is that many many many rules have been changed by the orthodox rabbis, some to be machmer some to be meykel, but certainly not the judaism of the temple or pre-temple days.

    As I re-read this quickly before I post I want to assure every reader that I have nothing but love and appreciation for all jews and all people. Except those who would kill my baby daughter in gods name or condone the killing of my baby daughter in gods name.

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  17. aneinu@sbcglobal.netApril 10, 2006 3:21 PM

    Dan G

    I can see from your posts that there is a different tone completely when you respond to me in contrast to Ben's post, so I will continue the exchange.

    I am not such a historian, so please enlighten me on the two facts you mentioned. 1. the massacre which you alluded to and 2 the traditions which the Reform base themself on. you can post a link if you have one.

    Also, while the animal sacrifice is only an example, you mentioned it a number of times and i didnt understand your response.It is clear in the Torah, the sacrifices are dependent on the Mishkan and The Altar - what novel idea did the Rabbi's do?

    You have said a few times as well that the Rabbis enacted things for their own benifits and desires and needs. It is a hard point to argue, but I cant let it go by - just to comment that I obviously disagree, but understand where in people's beleifs that they would think like that. i look forward to be able to convince people that it is not true.

    I appreciate your ending and think the same.

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  18. "feeling something" sort of lacks objective measures. Orthodox Jews can perehaps comfort themselves in knowing they're meeting a standard, so that their efforts to comply with the mitzva are validated. It's possible that a truly spiritual, insightful, scrupulously honest person could properly devote himself to G-d without the "trappings" of mitzvot within the "constraints" of rabbinic Judaism, but ideals are just that--idealistic.
    For those of us in the concrete, material/materialistic world, guidelines, rules, measures, prohibitions are all the bare minimum we need to try to pursue a "religious" life. We each need to know our own limits (a la Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry)--if we don't, then we learn them at great expense, and often far too late.

    I'll agree that anyone who claims to know a "reason" for the destruction of millions of Jews, including infants, is not worth the air he/she breathes.

    Christians, l'havdil, are all about feeling & faith; acts are nice, but they're not too specific. But there is also the concept of "nivul b'rshus hatorah". wherein one can scrupulously follow rules, yet be the antithesis of a "religious" person. The upstate NY prisons are sometimes called "cheder", & I've heard that there's daf yomi (& mikvah !!??) in many of them--that's where the fallible individual human takes the spiritual rules & brings them so far down to earth...

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  19. Sorry I had to go to sleep in the middle of this discussion last night. i could not keep my eyes open any longer.

    Anybody who thinks that emotion and passion have no place in orthodoxy and Orthodox observance should read the new book called "Off the Derech". This book is an analysis of why orthodox people generally with yeshiva type educations become not religious. One of the main reasons explored and proven (there were a number of reasons investigated and found to be the cause, this is just one of them) is when people are living Orthodox lives with no passion and emotion. When we fulfill the mitvot by rote, it tends to lead to hypocrisies (sp?) and it leads to children saying why should I bother leading this empty life. The Mitzvot were given for us not just to do them, but to do them with passion and thereby bring tikkun olam. I am no authority on tikkun olam, but I know that doing the bare basics of the mitzva with no emotion, for me, brings no meaning in the mitzva and I am sure no tikkun olam. When I feel I am doing a mitzva with passion, then I also notice that that passion spills over to other areas of my mitzva fulfillment and observance (possibly the meaning of mitzva gorreres mitzva?). When I just do mitzvas with no emotion, I tend to slack off a bit and eventually find myself in some sort of a religious rut.
    The mitzvot were given with technical aspects that must be fulfilled, such as minimum measurements, maxuimum measurements and a whole variety of issues, depending each mitzva on its details (what color the esrog is, how long the candles stay lit, etc.). But the mitzvot were also given with what is called the Spirit of the Law. Neither is more important than the other, and both should be accomplished. True, the technical aspects have to be required for fulfillment of the law and without them you have done nothing, while the spirit of the law does nto stop the accomplishment of the mitzva, but in the long run doing mitzvot with no spirit of the law, will eventually cause you (or your children) to not be careful about the letter of the law either.

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  20. Aneinu,

    Thank you for appreciating the tonalities of my response. First, regarding the massacre I plead a mea culpa for having mixed my metaphors and history. I confused the behavior between the students of Hillel and shamai which was considered unwholesome at times with the plauge which god sent and wiped out the students of R' Akiva. It is interesting how many times people are considered to have been punished with death for crimes which the torah does not ascribe the punishment of death.

    I do not harbor the same feeling regarding the explanation of sinat chinom and the destruction of the temple simply because the response of sinat chinum can be understood as a thesis statement when understood that there was a political war within the kohanit and sanhedrin and rabbanit at the time and that when the new kohen gadol took over he refused to accept the sacrifice of the roman emporeror as an effort to consolidate power over the other groups. Although previous kohanim had accepted the emporeror's sacrifice this kohen did not and rome took that as a sign of revolution and sacked Israel....history.

    As pesach is near think of both the punishment of the firstborn and the babies who were stuffed as bricks and the explanations I have heard for both. Our history (and other religions)is replete with such greusomeness in the name of god.

    When I speak of the reform (and other sects) traditions I mean that the traditions are based upon the same history and is merely a different explanation. For example, an orthodox jew may read the story of abraham and Ishmael and read the rashi and agree that hagar and her child (abraham's firstborn son) were sent away to potentially die in the the desert with good cause. That is one explanation. A reform jew may read that story and reject rashi's explanation and instead see abraham as a tragic and flawed figure. Wherein ishamel was sent away not for spiritual reasons but for human emotions. Abraham may appear less holy, but also may appear more human. Neither explanation is correct and both are based upon the historical (or allegorically historical) events. The traditions are the same, the perspective has changed. The same difference of perspective may be applied to the laws, the mitzvot and averot.
    For example, historically (or allegorically historically) the jews were freed from bondage in Israel. An orthodox jew may commemorate that event of freedom by eating a kezayit of matzah (whatever that may mean) whereas a reform jew may celebrate the event and eat matzah, whatever amount, tocommemerate the event. Both are based upon the same tradition and the same love and appreciation of our shared history and culture,but different perspectives on what it means to commemorate that event. Neither is better or worse. Neither is right or wrong. Not to jump ahead too far but in the next post Sam spoke of objective measures. Whereas other jews may believe that there are no objective measures because history and fanily are not objectives to be measured, they are history and culture and family to be enjoyed and to find fufillment.

    As to the animal sacrifice, the sacrifices were demanded. When the mishkan came about sacrifices were to be done in themishkan. When there was no mishkan sacrifices were still demanded. When there was a temple sacrifices took place both in the temple and outside of the temple. Eventually in a consolidation of power the law was created (not in the torah) that sacrifice could only take place in the temple and hence when the temple was destroyed the sacrifices and all that the torah speaks of them was disbanded. Although the law to limit sacrifices to the temple was a power base construct. Now an orthodox jew may claim that the rule was based on the oral law and mesorah, but that is not nessasarily true merely because that is commonly claimed. Anthropological history would also disagree with that claim and would in fact support the version of history that sacrifice took place outside of the temple for a period. Further, with all that was written about bot the temple and sacrifice you'd think that a law limiting sacrifice to the temple would also be in the torah.

    But if that example is not to your pleasure there are numerous examples of rabbis changing the rules. Let's go back to hillel for a moment.
    According to the Biblical laws, all debts were to be remitted in the Sabbatical year; as it is written: "At the end of every seven years shalt thou make a release; . . . the loan which he hath lent to his neighbour," &c. (Deut. 15: 1-2). This measure, intended to adjust the inequalities of fortune, and well qualified for its purpose under some circumstances, was in the Herodian age the cause of much trouble. The wealthy man was loth to loan his money to those most in need of it, fearing to lose it by the provisions of this law. To remedy this Hillel, ordained that the creditor might make a duly signed deposition before the Sabbatical year, reserving the right to collect his outstanding debts at any time that he might think proper. Here hillel changed a law that was in the torah abrogating and making an "end-run" around the written law.
    Or you can take any of many rules that have been adjusted, not just animal sacrifice.

    Here is my point, an orthodox rabbi might take a text and through human logic follow a point and extract what is not in the text to make and adjust laws to be stricter or weaker or done away with altogether. That the adjusted religion is based on a legal mind does not make it more right or less right then the adjustments made for emotional or anthropological reasons.
    Not to say that I believe the torah should be taken literally, although I do not object to those who do, rather,I thnk it is possible to explain the torah in a variaty of manners. Don't eat bacon because its a chok or don't eat bacon because not eating uncured bacon in a desert is a pretty smart rule if you dont want your people to be wiped out by trichnosis. Interesting how the two desert based religions both ban pork.

    Sam,
    Aside from the "objective" issue which I touched on, Let me say that the christians have as many libraries and smart scholars and laws and specifics as we do. As do all the religions which I've studied. And much like they have contradictory gosepls which were rejected though popular at the time, we to have had our share of discarded books and added texts...dead sea scrolls, recently written prayers, tehillim. The nature of religion and culture and ethnicity and family is subjective not objective.
    An interesting thought. In pasuk yud vav (16) in breshit it says, god created two lights, a big light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night and the stars. The two "lights" are described with the same word of "or" and the stars are called cochavim. Now we know from morning prayers that there are thirteen ways to explain torah thought. Word choice and compare and contrast are important. But the sun is a star and the moon is a reflector of light. Yet the torah refers to the sun and the moon both as lights and the sun as something very distinct from stars, yet the sun is a star. Objectively I would say that the word choice is problematic. After all, the torah is very specific about word choice and our understanding and rules for reading the torah is based on those nuamces of word choice and frequently even a shift of lettering, example avram and avraham.

    Rafi,
    Isn't it wonderful where that post on that ugly chart led to?
    I will see if I can find the origional somewhere in one of those giant rubbermaid tubs. :-)

    Chag sameach to all!!

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  21. The moon was minified; it was originally equally brilliant (hence the "blessing" of the moon which prays for a resurgence of the moon's brightness; the waxing/waning is supposed to mimic Israel's fortunes, & the apparent disappearance is followed by a recrudescence.)
    About Christians: I've worked with Catholics & other Christians daily for nearly 30 years. They have no time-based "commandments", no real restrictions on their desires/passions/cravings, other than societal ones. Some go to church daily, come rarely. Many praise & thank Jesus with regularity; some wear a little crucifix, etc. Nice variety. But it's not just symbolism, it's ONLY symbolism.
    Being "good" or "tikun olam" is very subjective, & not really very substantial in so many cases. You know that the rules bein adam l'chaveiro are of major significance in the Torah, long before Rabbis got involved. These mitzvos can be measured, & not just by keeping up with the Schwartzes.
    Without delving into socialism/Marxism vs. capitalism, I'd just twist an analogy to say that people want to know what's expected of them, so they can self-assess. Objective measures (including of matza, tho I no longer use the little laminated card because I like to eat more matza & romaine & horseradish, & I know that I'm exceeding any minimum)allow for growth, and fore aspiring to DO more, not just feel more or think more or plan, etc...

    Chag KASHER v'SAMEACH

    :)

    Sam

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  22. who would have thought the conversation would get so heavy..

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  23. well, for those of you not playing and only following along, dan g is a third bro to rafi and myself. Now you all know why we don't get together all that often, and when we do, my mother won't have anyone else over!!! lol

    But, so no one misunderstands, we were raised to allow this kind of dialogue, allow each person to make their own decisions, and that we are always still family! (of course as family we can still tease the pee out of each other for our sometimes ridiculous choices and actions, me included, boy, have I made some doozies).



    shaya g

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  24. also, as much as I sometimes disagree with my bro dan, there is an interesting point in his argument. I've discussed this with my Rov when he said "well, we know the torah is true because all these people saw Har sinai. we know they all saw Har Sinai, because the torah says so". yes, he actually said this. I said Rabbi, I already beleive, but stop with the backwards logic. The fact is danny is correct. The oral law is proof that dan has a good argument. "Lo bashamayim hee". The rabbi's have constantly debated even the smallest points of halacha and changed, adapted, inferred, many various explanations of the same word. Is it so far fetched to say reform is simply one more explanation? Yes, when the deny torah misinai they've overstepped the limits. but take a simple thing like using a tea bag in a kli shlishi on shabbos. One rav holds it's mutar on shabbos and one holds you are chayiv s'kilah - not much wiggle room is there?!

    i don't have an answer, religion is a concept that is not entorel;y based on logic. Religion has extra components, call them emotions, beleif, whatever. But both rabbis who argued over the tea bag, agree that g-d gave moses the torah on har sinai - and that's where reform and danny miss the boat. while chicken is questionable and fish doesn't need schitah - although rafi would have fun trying - those are really just the minor issues. kind of like the matzo chart. some of us do better with it, others - in the same family - can't stand it.

    ok, i've ranted long enough and i'm no longer sure of where i ended up, so let me end with - MAZAL TOV on my new little nephew and DON'T KILL THE GOOSE!!!!!!!

    love ya all

    shaya g

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  25. Shaya - that is a good point and I have thought about it a lot. I have learned through about 6/7 of shas in daf yomi (aside from my yeshiva and post-yeshiva learning) and having seen and learned a large amount of the Torah SheBaal Peh, I have often noticed what you brought up. I go to a daf yomi shiur where we often discuss how these things fit in and try to figure out how they are not so subjective, but very frequently in shas you will find issues the Rabbis raised and decided on that seem very subjective to what they were trying to accomplish. Do you say it is daas torah and that is the way it is, or maybe they were doing it for social reason, political reasons, ect. and exerting their "power" of being able to decide. They set things in stone using whatever considerations they used and now we follow their rules as an unchangeable law. As Orthodox Jews, we believe they decided the rules and there are only certain ways those rules can be changed, and we believe they did it honestly and for the benefit of klal yisrael, not for personal/political reasons.
    But one can look at it and say he decreed this because he wanted that to happen or whatever and however he made the decision. Saying that will easily allow you to also say just as they defined and decided the Torah according to their needs so other Rabbis nowadays can do the same (if you say they did not make their changes for objectively honest reasons, which often appears to be the case, how can anyone criticize others who do the same now?). That is aside for all the seemingly racist and sexist statements we find in the gemora that indicate they made their decisions influenced by subjective biases.

    Again, as Orthodox jews we believe that they were deciding with integrity and my superficial reading of the gemorah might not make it clear and easily understandable how they were deciding honestly and fairly, rather than subjectively. I might not understand, and might not have the time or be interested enough to devote the time to investigate and find out how to explain it to prove that they were honest in their decision making, but I believe that they were.

    A bigger problem is when looking nowadays at the Rabbinate. When we see how the leading Rabbis (especially in Israel) are influenced by their close confidants and make statements and decisions (such as book bannings and other social influencing decisions) that are clearly mistaken (is that blasphemy?) and influenced by people with agendas, it causes one to wonder that maybe the Rabbis back then also, while they may have been honest and decided things honestly, maybe their decisions were influenced by their confidants, who may have had their own agendas. Were/are the Rabbis infallible? I do not know That is a question that has been debated throughout history, but its answer can have ramifactions on the current discussion.

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  26. Dan

    i must be brief due to time, but five things on your post

    1. sacrifices according to the literal Torah writing is for the Temple only.The gemora in Zevochim says that they were permitted bomos in Nov and Givon, like you mentioned and later it was forbidden. why do you put more stock in the permission the Rabbis gave than what they prohibited?

    2. Pruzbul - Did Hillel do this for his own business that he should be able to collect his debts or for the benefit of klal yisroel and again the gemorah explains how it fits in - but it is not an example of what you wanted to prove that they did things to fit their needs and if the reform doesnt like that one - so lets see them keep the torahs law of not collecting by shemita - period.

    3. You were pretty upset when ben said that the holacaust was due to jews sinning. why do you accept that the massacre by reb akiva was due to sinat chinam? further removed from our times? i think this is a strong question, but maybe theres a good answer.

    4. tradition - the orthodox have one that goes all the way back - the only tradition that you say reform and others have is the tradition of interpreting the torah according to their leisure - that doesnt seem to be some mesorah.

    i had a 5th comment, but forgot right now

    keep well

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  27. Sam,

    Whether or not the moon was minified has no bearing on the issue. The minimizing of the moon explains why one light was big and one was small. The issue is word choice. Even if you say the moon was minimised it is not a light source it is a reflector of light. Further, it is not a star like the sun, it is a rock. Yet both are described with the same word. Further, the sun is not called a star. Stars are described as a seperate entity. The point is that You can't have it both ways. You can't say that it is objective and then overlook the inconsitancies and contradictions within the torah. Unless you want to say that the sun is not a star and that while the sun and the moon have varying levels of brightness they are comprised of the same matter. Which also addresses to;
    Shaya
    as to why many sects and the vast majoraty of jews nowadays, in the world where we have more precise science then we did previously and issues may be scrutinized and tested, the vast majoraty of jews today explain that the torah is a compilation of allegory and history and parables and laws of our tribe, of our family which has created aunique and fufilling and meaningful culture. And regardless if one believes in the existence of any god or a heirarchal god the history and stories of our past contain meaning. And yes, the orthodox and the rest of jewry have differing opinions on the godhood of the torah. But it is hard to read the rambam on a the tumah of a mouse that is half mouse and half dirt or issues like the genocide the jews were ordered to commit in gods name or the contradictions with science that have only in the last few hundred years become abundantly available.

    Rafi,
    as to intention....one thing I've learnt is that you never know what exists in the hearts of man. But to paraphrase dostoyefsky, the evils in one's own mind are the greatest terror. The point is that even for those rabbis who did have honest intentions, human is human. Not all had honest intentions and some who did may simply have been misguided (shabtzai tzvi...jesus...etc) After all, shaul tried to have david killed and david had his enemy killed to take his wife and the kohanim and sanhedrin were frequently replaced by outsiders and by politicos all which had great influence on the writings and thoughts which entered the stream and fabric of the judeo conciousness at the time. It is easy to imagine that 2-3000 yrs ago life was a utopia and all rabbis were perfect and in harmony with god...but like the diaspora jews today who cannot believe, who are shocked that there is any crime in israel or any wrongdoing I say that Israel is not a jewish theme park. It is a real country with all that a country means.

    Aneinu,

    The torah does not limit sacrifice to the temple. It commands that sacrifice also takeplace in the temple and themishkan but sacrifice is not limited. Thelimitation was created by the rabbis. Again,as there are so many examples of rules change it is a minor point except that the torah devotes many words to sacrifice and the rabbis created a situation that forced its disollution.

    2- Perhaps I was unclear. I was in fact commenting that I felt the explanation of the plauge against R'Akiva's students was greusome and abhorent. I was contrasting that to the destruction of the temple where sinat chinom played out in a real world fashion that, sparked a rebellion, or the fear of one, by rome who then treated Israel as any rebellious province. Untill the roman sacrifice was rejected by the new kohen gadol Judaism was the only religion allowed throughout the roman empire other then the pagan polytheistic religion. Judaism was described as religo legitimo (a legitamite religion) All other religions were banned. But internal jewish strife forced romes hand and then she wipe out Israel.

    3- pruzbel, what I ment by changing the rules to suit your needs was not literally each rabbi's personal needs, much like a reform rabbi responds to the metaphorical needs of his or her community, hillel responded to the needs of his community and made an end run around a very clear and precise rule within the torah.

    4-The tradition of the orthodox is a tradition of explanation and study of the torah and our history. The behaviors are based upon those explanations. The explanations are not based upon the behaviors. Therefore, if an explanation changes the behavior changes. The explanation is based upon the same tradition, the tradition of study and history. As new data arises (like science and math and physics and equal rights etc) the torah is studied in a new light with new explanations and behaviors adapt.

    Zai Gezunt

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  28. back to my "star" vs. sun/moon...
    the principle is that "dibrah torah b'lashon bnei adam", in that it is a very modern discovery that the sun is (merely) a star & the moon its reflector. But I'm sure you can find many other real or apparent contradictions/inconsistencies.
    When I mention objective measures for practitioners of religion it is only to stress that there is a need for objectivity--when Shabbos starts, how much matza, etc.

    you can add, or you can ignore, but at least you know where/what you're doing & can judge--for yourself, the only arbiter you will anser to, rather than should/must answer to--where you stand on your stroll/struggle thru life.
    I like the length of the sentence; it's a shiur of a paragraph but has tzura of a sentence.

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  31. Meier g - those posts were extremely inappropriate. I gladly allow differing opinions on ym blog, as you can see from Dan's posts and the discussions that we have been having. Feel free to comment with any theory you wish to propose. However profanity and the thnigs you wrote about are inappropriate for my blog and will not be allowed. Please respect common decency. Thank you.

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  32. and that's the 4th bro! hahahaha


    hiya meier

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