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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Could we bring enough Korban Pesachs for everyone?

There is a chiyuv on every person to bring a Korban Pesach, in fact it is one of the 2 mitzvos aseh that you are chayav kares for not fulfilling. However, it is very difficult to see how the Jewish people could actually have ever fulfilled this mitzva in the practical sense and certainly with the population today (~14,000,000 Jews) it is hard to see how enough Korbanos could actually be brought.

The Gemara in Pesachim 64b states that King Agrippas wanted to take a census so he had the Cohanim count the number of Korban Pesachs that were brought and it came out to 1.2 million korbanos, 12 million people (10 to a korban).

1.2 million korban pesachs seem to be a very problematic number. There are a number of major issues:

  1. The Korban Pesach is only brought on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan after the korban tamid is brought. The Mishna (58a) states that on Erev Pesach the Tamid was brought from 7.5 - 8.5. That leaves just 3.5 hours (8.5 -12) to bring the korban pesachs. That means that they had to sacrifice over 340,000 korbanos an hour, over 5700 a minute and over 95 a second. That is simply impossible.  Let's think about what needed to be done.
    1. shechita
    2. collect the blood
    3. sprinkle the blood on the mizbeach
    4. Skin the animal and take out the organs to be burned on the mizbeach.
    All of this at the pace of 95 a second??? Just for comparison a modern slaughterhouse kills about 1000 animals an hour, so in the time allotted could get to 3500 animals. 
  2. How could they possibly fit all of the people and animals in the Azara? The Gemara states that the Korban Pesach is brought in 3 shifts. 1.2 million korbanos means 1.2 million animals and at least 1.2 million people, even in 3 even shifts that is 400,000 people and animals a shift!!! The Beis Hamikdash was simply not that big the whole thing was 100 ama x 100 ama. Even assuming a large ama of 2 feet that is only 40000 sq feet. In addition the Kodesh Hakadoshim was 20 ama long which takes away 1/5 of the total space. In any case, not only does it not fit 400,000 people and animals, it doesn't even fit 40000 people and animals. In addition, moving 400,000 people into and out of a confined space takes hours, the whole 3.5 hours would have been taken up by simply trying to get the people in and out without having time to do anything.
  3. This leads to the question that given the dimensions of the Mishkan and the Beis Hamikdash and the number of people, how did everyone ever bring a korban pesach? The numbers just don't work. 
  4. As I mentioned above there are over 14 million halachic Jews today, more then in the time of King Agrippas, if Moshiach came now, how could we all possibly bring a korban Pesach in the 3.5 hour window on Erev Pesach
I have seen various answers suggested all very difficult:
  1. The numbers are an exaggeration. This is difficult for a number of reasons:
    1. Nowhere in the Gemara (or in any of the Rishonim/Acharonim that I saw) is there even a hint that these numbers are not real.
    2. Even much smaller numbers are unrealistic, even 1/10, 100,000 korbanos, is impossible
    3. How would we do the mitzva today if Moshiach came with the population numbers as they are?
  2. It was all a miracle. This is also very very difficult:
    1. The fact is, that on this very daf, indeed, just a few lines above, there is the famous machlokus between Rava and Abaye on ... are we allowed to rely on nissim. "Abaye said: it was taught that it was closed [referring to the gates of the azarah] , Rava said, that they closed it. What is between them? This is between them: to rely on a miracle.  Abaye who says that it was closed, like it was closed by itself and they relied on a miracle [to ensure there were two other groups].  Rava says they closed it, and we do not rely on a miracle. ..." If the entirety of the aliya laregal and particularly the korban pesach was ma'aseh nissim from beginning to end, then Rava's position is rendered untenable - nobody went into the Azarah for pesach without relying on countless miracles, so what is the closing of a door or allowing it to be closed in the grand scheme of things?   And generally machlokus Abaye and Rava we posken like Rava - so where does that leave us halacha l'ma'seh?
    2. This is quite a big miracle and yet nowhere in the Gemara or even the Rishonim or Acharonim do we have a hint about this very big miracle.
Here is another point to consider. In addition to the Korban Pesach which would have 10 or more people in a chabura there was a chiyuv on every male to bring an olas r'iya on the first day of Yom Tov, this is 1 korban per person, so if there were 1.2 million korban pesachs each with at least 10 people, that is at least 6 million olas r'iyas that needed to be brought.

In addition, there was the chagigas yud daled which was supposed to be brought to provide meat to eat at
the seder (especially if there were big chaburas for the korban pesach) plus additional shalmei simcha. This all adds up to hundreds of thousands if not millions of additional korbanos besides the Korban Pesach that needed to be brought at this time. It just doesn't seem possible.

Until now we have discussed how this could have worked in the Beis Hamikdash. However, Bnei Yisrael brought the Korban Pesach the second year in the Midbar as well. At that time there were only 3 Cohanim, Aharon and his 2 sons. The population was 600,000 men plus presumably 600,000 women, assuming even 20 people per chabura that leaves 60,000 korbanos. Even if the shechita was done by a non-kohen, 3 cohanim had to do all the other avodos, kabolos hadam, holacha, zerika, ... burningthe emurim on the mizbeach. That is certainly an impossible task for only 3 cohanim. Could 3 cohanim really be makriv tens if not hundreds of thousands of korbanos in a 3.5 hour window?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Labor is the new saviour of the Charedim, really?

The heads of the Charedi parties (especially Deri and Liztman) have been going around and proclaiming that they are done with the Likud and Netanyahu and that they will be working to make Yitzchak Herzog, the head of the Labor party the next Prime Minister of Israel.

However, lets take a look at some of the positions of Labor and Herzog:
1. Draft of Charedim - Labor and Herzog are in favor, in fact, Herzog said that he would have voted in favor of the current draft bill that includes criminal sanctions.
2. Women's right - Labor and Herzog were in the forefront against הדרת נשים and are opposed to mehadrin buses.
3. Reform Rabbis - Labor and Herzog support the state recognizing Reform Rabbis and ending the Orthodoc monopoly on Judaism.
4. The "Peace Process" - Labor and Herzog have always pushed for the "peace process" and a Palestinian state and they have no problem with dividing Jerusalem.

On other words, it is clear that Labor not only does not support the Charedim on their big issues, but in fact, Labors positions on these issues are probably worse for the Charedim then the Likud. If so, why are the Charedi MKs pushing Herzog? The answer would seem to be petty revenge. They are very upset with Netanyahu and believe that he betrayed them so they want to take revenge on him. The problem is that they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is there causality between the number of full time Torah learners and the results of Israel's wars?

R' Yair Hoffman posted the following chart which he claimed showed that the correlation of loss of life of IDF soldiers r”l in the wars to the amount of Yeshiva students studying in Yeshiva, shows a clear inverse relationship: the more students in yeshiva, the less loss of life.
Name of WarTotal loss of life, r”l# of Yeshiva Students in Israel
1982 Lebanon War72512,150
2006 Lebanon War16551,084
2012 Operation Cast Lead1366,000
Clearly, the number of lives lost is only 1 factor in the success or failure of a war  and is very much dependent on who you are fighting and what kind of war. Fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza should lead to fewer casualties then fighting an all out war against multiple Arab armies armed with the latest weapons. Therefore, the fact that only 13 soldiers were killed in Operation Cast Lead does not show anything about the efficacy of Torah learning, the low number of casualties was expected based on the military situation. In fact, IMHO a much better barometer is the actual outcome of the war and if we use that as our measure of Torah learnings protection we come to the opposite conclusion. 
Name of WarOutcome of War# of Yeshiva Students in Israel
1948Miraculous Victory400
1967Miraculous Victory600
1973Hard fought painful victory800
1982 Lebanon WarNot a clear cut victory, led to an almost 20 year occupation of Southern Lebanon12,150
2006 Lebanon WarDraw51,084
2012 Operation Cast LeadMarginal at Best66,000
Based on the chart above one can make the argument that as the number of full time learners mushroomed the outcomes of the wars became progressively worse. 

Is any of this conclusive? Of course not, but I think that my analysis makes a lot more sense then R' Hoffman's.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why the 3rd Beis Hamikdash will come down from Heaven

The Tolna Rebbe had a fascinating (and humurous) explanation of why the 3rd Beis Hamikdash will come down from Heaven.

Picture for yourselves how this Bais Hamikdash will be built.  Let me tell you what is going to happen.

“The first ones who will enter the picture will be Agudas Yisroel who will say ‘Of course we are the ones who will build the Bais Hamikdash.  We are the ones who worry about all the needs of the chareidi community. Is there any doubt that we should be the ones in charge?’  They will convene a whole assembly of gedolim in order to decide what needs to be done.

“Meanwhile, R’ Meir Porush will come and say, ‘And what about me?  The Agudah represents everyone?  I want this to be under my auspices.’  And then there will be a second group of Rabbonim discussing how to build the Bais Hamikdash.

“The Litvaks will come next and they will start to scream. ‘Gevald! The chasidism should build the Bais Hamikdash?  They will all be dancing because they don’t know anything about the actual halachos of building the Bais Hamikdash.  They will offer to find one Kohein who actually knows the halachos of the avoda. But they will tell us:  “for this part, you are going to need the Kollel Chazon Ish.  For that part you are going to need the avreichim in Brisk.”  What are you, crazy?  We will build the Bais Hamikdash.’

“Then will come Satmar, from both sides, and they will say, ‘You are all Zionists!  You are unfit to build the Bais Hamikdash.’

“The Chabadniks will also get involved.  ‘You are all crazy!  Moshiach is ours!  It is our Rebbe, our Moshiach, what are you talking about the Bais Hamikdash?  You are all insane.’

This is so true, it is hard to believe that a Chasidic Rebbe would say this.

Source: Jerusalem - Tolna Rebbe: Why We Won't Be Able To Build The Third Bais Hamikdash On Our Own

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A different take on the new draft law for Charedim

If you read the Charedi press today it seems like a terrible day. The headlines in the Charedi press are all doom and gloom and say things like "A day that will be remembered in infamy." However, the fact is that the law that was passed was actually quite generous to the Charedim.

The law states that in the summer of 2017 the Charedi world must supply 5200 soldiers, sounds like a lot, however, this is from a potential group of 50,000. Of course this is only in 3 years, for the next 3 years there is complete peace and quiet, no draft whatsoever. Additionally, if there aren't 5200 soldiers in 2017, the law gives an extension of 6 months before any criminal sanctions take place. Last but not least, 3 years is a long time in Israel and there will most probably be a new government before then which can of course change the law.

The bottom line is that this law is actually quite favourable to the Charedim. If that is so, why the gloom and doom? The answer is very simple, it serves the Charedi interests. It creates unity and a common enemy and preserves the notion of us against them, the Charedim vs the evil Israeli government.

Source: החרדים דווקא מרוצים מחוק הגיוס החדש

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tefilla for the Yeshivas in Israel

I wonder who if anyone is actually saying this.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Cults in the Charedi world?

To my great surprise Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew) had a long article about cults in the Charedi world. They describe how charismatic individuals who seemt o know kabbala suck people in and take charge of their lives. They detailed how a Rosh Kollel got sucked in by a charismatic leader who spouted kabbala and seemed to know things about the Rosh Kollel. The leader then proceeded to take command of the Rosh Kollel's life in terms of decision making, all decisions had to be run by the leader etc. and of course the leader found ways to extract money until his family extricated him.

The writer of the article asked the obvious question, how is this different then Chasidim (or today even non-Chasidim) who ask the Rebbe before making any decision and of course contribute financially to the Rebbe? The answer given was not very satisfying to me and leaves the question very much open to me.

Take a look at the picture below of the Satmar Rebbes vacation villa in Miami Beach Florida. Keep in mind that Kiryas Yoel is the poorest town in the United States. 

Also take a look at my post The richest Rabbis in Israel. When you combine the money with the societal pressure to conform and stay in the fold (e.g. משמרת הצניעות), it is hard to see the difference.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The success of Charedi Kiruv

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote about the success of Charedi kiruv in this past weeks Mishpacha magazine. However, his description of how they are successful is very troubling:

I would agree that neither ignorance nor poverty are major selling points for Torah. 
involves frequent lectures from Orthodox Jews who have achieved prominence in fields to which the students might aspire. The subliminal message is: Becoming shomer Torah u'mitzvos does not require eschewing the career to which you previously aspired.

The problem is that it is a big lie. All of the examples that they bring are either Baalei Teshiva or people who were brought up in a more Modern home. Using these people as examples of how well religious Jews can fit into society is very misleading when the institutions/mekarvim themselves don't believe in that hashkafa. According to Charedi hashkafa, University study is prohibited and any secular study is very much discouraged, yet those are the examples they site when trying to be mekarev people. If a Baal Teshuva raises his children in a Charedi environment it means that his children cannot follow in his career path or any secular career path because they won't learn any secular studies in school.

Aish Hatorah published a similar article, Women at Work,  a few years ago which claimed that Orthodox women can work at any job that they want.

Let's get something perfectly clear: Jewish women work. One of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
And nowadays, like women all over the Western world, they work in every field. Some run their own businesses or are part of a larger corporation. Here in Israel one of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. Another is a school principal. Several good friends are lawyers. One's a pediatrician. Two are successful artists. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
My point is, little is forbidden to us. We work in the fields we want. We have open choices. We can choose to work part-time or full-time. 

Again we see the big lie. Aish Hatorah is a Charedi institution and it's goal for it's students is that they join Israeli Charedi society. The fact is that if Elizabeth had been born to a Charedi family she would not have had a choice to be a veterinarian, a nuclear physicist or anything other then a school teacher. University study is strictly prohibited. In Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak even getting a high school diploma is prohibited.  As I mentioned above, all the women that she brings as examples fall into one of 2 categories:

1. Baalei teshuva
2. They grew up in modern homes

None of the women cited grew up in a Charedi home in Israel, because if they had they would not be where they are today.

Charedi kiruv may be successful in attracting the initial generation, however, it is not at all clear that it is successful with the next generation.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yated published an ad for women's clothes which included women's pants

How embarrassing

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How would you like to be called the "בדיעבד Ideal"?

The Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew) had a long article about the American Aguda Yarchei Kalla in Yerushalayim. They interviewed one of the organizers who called himself a simple baal habayis. The newspaper described him as the ideal b'dieved, that if chas v'shalom you have to work (בדיעבד) and not sit in Kollel then he is the ideal as someone who works but learns seriously.

This is so typical of the Israeli Charedi hashkafa that anyone who is not sitting in kollel is בדיעבד.

The newspaper went on to quote Harav Asher Weiss who said that Israel needs more Baal Habatim like these from America, who work but also learn seriously. IMHO this will not happen if you call them בדיעבד. Once you give someone a negative connotation it is then very difficult to then ask them to try to grow spiritually as they feel that they are בדיעבד so there is no point.