Volume 10 Number 8
                       Produced: Thu Nov 18  8:14:50 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Finley Shapiro]
Avram's converts
         [Barak Moore]
B"H and BS"D, and Tzitzis on a Shawl
         [Constance Stillinger]
Herzfeld/Mantinband sitting Shiva
         [Yosh) Mantinband]
Rambam Yomi
         [Warren Burstein]
Ramban on Gen 1.1
         [Philip Beltz Glaser]
Samaritan Lineage
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Finley Shapiro <Finley_Shapiro@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 13:48:15 -0500
Subject: Ancestors

Allen Elias writes:

>During the Crusades and Inquisition millions chose to die rather than
>give up their religion.

I do not wish in any way to question or minimize the devotion or
martyrdom of the people.  However, perhaps it should be pointed out that
many, and probably most, of us are descendants of people who made the
opposite choice and converted back when the situation improved or when
they were able to go to a different country.

Finley Shapiro


From: Barak Moore <cquinn@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 12:11:10 EST
Subject: Avram's converts

(This message is from Barak Moore)

Regarding Jonathan Baker's question: "What happened to Avram's

1. It is possible that they were part of the rescue party for Lot-- 318
male members of Avram's household.

2. Avram lamented that without a son his steward, Eliezer of Damascus
would inherit him. This could indicate that he was a convert, although
Damascus is far from Haran.

3. It seems that they were spun out of the Jewish people by the time
that Yaakov went down to Egypt with 70 souls (12 were male sons). This
is not surprising because even children of Avraham, Yitzhak and Rivka
were pushed out of the Jewish lineage and Avraham was intent that the
converts not marry Yitzhak.

4. Perhaps they were not converted to Judaism, but became like the other
monotheists we hear about who had separate existences from Israel:
Balaam, Malki-tzedek and Yitro.

5. In any case, it is not surprising that they were not discussed: it
seems that a principle of the Torah is that nothing gets mentioned that
is not significant to the history of Israel. Even the people pre-Avraham
are discussed only because they pass a sort of Divinely chosen lineage
to Avraham.  Note that only Cain, Abel and Seth are mentioned of the
children of Adam and Eve.

6. The bottom line is that conventional wisdom is wrong: at that point,
the Jewish people was not composed of a charismatic religious innovator
and his followers. Rather Avraham was a privileged scion of
distinguished lineage who did teach others, but jealously guarded his
yichus from the tainted heritage of even his converts! There is a Rashi
that explains why Avraham was so keen on choosing an idolater wife of
good lineage for Yithak rather than one of his converts: baruch
("blessed": Avraham, Shem) and arur ("cursed": Canaan) don't mix.  Rivka
continued this tradition: even though she must of known that her brother
was evil, she still sent Yaakov to Lavan to find a shidduch.

Barak Moore


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 93 00:23:37 -0500
Subject: B"H and BS"D, and Tzitzis on a Shawl

We just moved so now my trusted LOR is LD (long-distance) rather than L

So here are a couple of hopefully easy, non-urgent questions.

1. What's the difference between putting B"H and BS"D at the top of a
personal letter or a research article or any other document?  I see
both, and now realize I'm not sure what's appropriate when.

2. I recently received a large square (3.5' on a side) acrylic shawl
that I like to wear in the morning in the house because it can be cold.
Am I transgressing halakhah because it doesn't have tzitzis?  What
should I do about this, if anything?




From: <ak764@...> (J. Y. (Yosh) Mantinband)
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 93 18:29:45 EST
Subject: Herzfeld/Mantinband sitting Shiva

			  Baruch Dayan Emet

	    With great sorrow we announce the passing of

	   Rabbi YAAKOV (Eugene) b"r Shlomo HERZFELD z"l

	    on Sunday, Rosh Hodesh Kislev (30 Marheshvan)

   His wife, Magda (Sara) Herzfeld, and children, Hadassah 
   Herzfeld-Mantinband, and Robert Herzfeld are sitting Shiva until 
   Sunday morning at

	Mitzpe Nevo 83, Apt. 11
	Maale Adumim, ISRAEL
	Tel: +972-2-352112

   Minyanim are at 6:15, 16:00, and 20:00.

   Land mail may be sent to:

	Mitzpe Nevo 98/1
	Maale Adumim
	Tel: +972-2-351841


I apologize to those people I had planned to visit or call in the 
States, but wasn't able to before I had to return home on short 

Yosh Mantinband		 


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 93 22:51:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Rambam Yomi

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund writes:

   The clarity and systematic approach of the Rambam is superb. I'm sure
   the scientific minded audiance on the net can appreciate the 
   methodoligical approach which the Rambam takes towards categorizing,
   clarifying and organizing halacha.

But the "scientific minded" are likely to sorely miss citations :)

[I would say that finding the ciations for the "scientific minded"
should not be hard at all. From my memory, the source for the Rambam's
halacha is almost always given by one of the commentaries on the side of
the Rambam. With Shas and Rambam on CD ROM these days, it is only a
matter of time before someone puts in the hypertext link, so you will
click on the halacha and bring up the gemorah in a second window. Avi

 |warren@      But the ***
/ nysernet.org is not *** at all.


From: <glaser@...> (Philip Beltz Glaser)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1993 09:45:39 +22305714 (EST)
Subject: Ramban on Gen 1.1

Alan Cooper and Tamar Frank write:

> With all respect, David Clinton has completely misunderstood Ramban to
> Genesis 1:1.  Mr. Clinton is correct in his characterization of one of
> Rashi's statements about the verse, namely that the fact of creation
> justifies God's apportioning territory to whomever he chooses--a sort of
> divine right of eminent domain.  But Ramban cites that interpretation in
> order to reject it--yesh lish'ol bah, he writes ("This must be
> questioned.")!  Much more is at stake in this story, according to
> Ramban, then an apology for Israel's dispossession of the Canaanites.
> Rather, it is shoresh ha-emunah ("the root of our faith"), containing
> profound secrets that can only be comprehended by means of the qabbalah.

While it is true that Ramban does not accept wholesale Rashi's
interpretation of the verse, it is an oversimplification to say that he
"cites that interpretation in order to reject it." The formulation "yesh
lish'ol bah" should be translated somewhat loosely as "one should
inquire about it." This formulation is much softer than in other places
where Ramban says, for example, "'einenno nakhon" ("it is not correct").
Rather, it seems that here "yesh lish'ol bah" means some- thing like --
"there is reason to ask questions about this interpretation," but that
does not mean outright rejection. More importantly, a careful reading of
Ramban's complex discussion of this verse shows that Ramban did not at
all reject the midrash cited by Rashi, but only modifies both its moral
message and its exegetical application.
 First, Ramban does note that the importance of teaching about God's
creating the world derives from the fact that it is "shoresh ha'emunah"
-- a fundamental of Jewish belief.  The importance of this belief is so
obvious that the midrash cited by Rashi, Ramban is saying, could not
possibly be trying to explain why the creation story itself is the first
item in the Torah. Ramban is really only objecting to Rashi's exegetical
application of the midrash, for further on he accepts the midrash but
understands it in a different way from Rashi ("ve-natan rabh yizhak
ta`am lazeh . . .").  Here Ramban says that the story of creation about
which the midrash speaks is not the first few chapters of Genesis, but
rather the chapters beyond, up to the stories of the flood and the tower
of Babel. According to Ramban, the midrash is saying that the point of
these stories is to show that, by God's providence, sinful people are
exiled from their places and righteous people come and occupy their
place. All the more so Canaan, continues Ramban, because Canaan was
cursed by Noah and so does not have the merit to inherit the choicest of
God's lands.  Rather, only God's faithful servants should occupy that
 When all is said and done exegetically, Ramban preserves the basic idea
of the midrash as quoted by Rashi. It is true that Ramban does not
accept that God gives the land to Israel simply by "divine right of
eminent domain," as Rashi seems to understand.  Rather he refines the
idea: the purpose of the organization of chapters in Bereshit is,
indeed, to provide a justification for Israel taking the land of Israel;
but that justification is not based simply on God's sovereignty, but
also on the fact that the inhabitants of the land were evil and that
God's chil- dren were righteous. One could argue about whether Ramban
was tampering with the plain sense of the midrash, but it is clear that
he manages to synthesize the main idea of the midrash cited by Rashi and
his own belief that creation is a fundamental pillar of Jewish faith.


Philip Beltz Glaser


From: MEDAD%<ILNCRD@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 93 08:51 IST
Subject: Samaritan Lineage

I asked my neighbor here in Shiloh, Reuven Kantor, who works at the
Civil Administration offices in Shchem to clarify the issue of the
Samaritan lineage.  His reply, from the mouth of a Samaritan who works
with him there is: patrilineal.

Any other requests concerning Samaritans will be accorded similar
on-the-spot research.


End of Volume 10 Issue 8