Volume 10 Number 15
                       Produced: Mon Nov 22 17:17:55 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

B"H and B"SD
         [Ophir S Chernin]
MacDonalds & other goodies
         [Najman Kahana]
Poskim against Aliyah
         [Michael Allen]
         [Eli Turkel]
Syrians and Conversions (2)
         [Moderator, Anthony Fiorino]
         [Aryeh Erle]


From: Ophir S Chernin <osc4@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 93 18:19:54 -0500
Subject: B"H and B"SD

B"H and bet-ayin-heih both stand for the same thing: b'ezras Hashem.  B"H
is just a shortened form.  Both mean "with the help of Hashem"

The reason that people use B"SD instead of the above is that it stands for
the same thing, but is in Aramaic and since it is not in Loshon HaKodesh
there is no possible problem in throwing it out.  B"SD stands for b'siyata
de'Shemayia, with the help of Heaven.

The reason that both of the above are unnecessary is that everything we do
is with G-d's help, and why should one be particular to mention this fact
when writing a letter (or writting on the blackboard) but not mention this
obvious fact at other times.  For those who are constantly saying or
mentioning, "With G-d's help", it is praisworthy and they should continue
to do so and to write B"SD at the top of their written material.  But for
those of us who are not on their level, we all know this most important
and basic fact, but are not continually vocalizing it, why should
we go out of our way to mention it specifically on written material, and
not at all other times?  

Ophir Chernin


From: Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 93 10:06 JST
Subject: MacDonalds & other goodies

>From: Steven Edell <edell@...>
>As many of you may know, MacDonalds has invaded Israel.  [first reports
>from the papers say are that they are expensive and "not up to usual
>standard"].  MacD contract included that it will use all 'local' foods;
>the 'Macs, although served with shakes, are in and of themselves, kosher
>meat (Tirat Tzvi if I remember correctly).
>When MacD expects to open a store in Jerusalem sometime in 1994, it will
>be kosher!  There is NO excuse now for you people who have been holding
>off Aliyah :).


The products may be Kosher, the restaurant is Glat Treif !!!

MacD has been advertising their great cheeseburgers in every newspaper.
Last I heard there were some Sheelot on this mixture :) .

Their products have a Hechsher, their restaurants do not (read their ads).
Until and if they open a kosher branch, the above announcement can be

Najman Kahana


From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1993 09:58:18 -0600
Subject: Re: Poskim against Aliyah

In mail.jewish 10.v:
>> From: Benjamin Svetitsky <bqs@...>
>> Subject: Re: Poskim against Aliyah

>> Yosef Bechhofer requested citations of psakim against aliyah in the
>> 1920's.  This is beside the point.  Show me psakim that encouraged
>> naliyah!  The absence of the latter, and its consequences, makes my case
>> that religious leaders of the time were historically and tragically
>> wrong in how they guided their people.

I don't believe we are far enough away to know if the G'dolim were
"historically and tragically" wrong.  We now have a secular state whose
Jewish population is 70% irreligious (much of that virulently
anti-religious) and whose current government was not elected by a
majority of the Jews living there.  Is this the Zion of our daily

One further point: an historical judgement of the decisions of our
G'dolim may take 100 years or more -- which is not a long time by Jewish
standards.  Remember that the G'dolim urged also that the Romans not be
opposed by force, but the Zealots ignored that advice with truly
historic and tragic consequeces.  This is not to say that our G'dolim
are infallible, only that they are not silly, and they don't say
something on a whim.  Given a choice between listening to the
"political" advice of Chachmei Yisrael and (l'havdil) political
activists, I'll stick with our G'dolim.


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 93 10:22:48 +0200
Subject: Revisionism

     Moshe Koppel describes the speech of the Belzer rebbe guaranteeing
the safety of the community in Hungary right before he made aliyah to
Israel. He further points out that later versions of this speech printed
by the community leave out the vital 22 lines.
      Indeed later Belzer hasidim have claimed that the community in
Budapest was destroyed because they did not listen to the warnings of
danger issued by the rebbe and his brother !!!  Obviously the Belz
community cannot justify telling the community to remain in Europe and
that they would be safe.  Instead they just change the facts.
      I agree with Isaac Balbin that gedolim act on the information they
are given. We all have no doubt that the Belzer rebbe and other gedolim
who recommended that their communities remain in Europe were doing so
with the best of intentions. My main point (which you seem to agree
with) is that gedolim are not prophets and so can err and in fact have
erred in the past.
      I find that the greatest danger of believing that gedolim cannot
err is exactly this intellectual dishonesty to change facts when they
contradict the theory. There is the known fact that Rav Hutner was
friends with Rav Kook when they were both students. In one of Rav
Hutner's seforim there is a picture of Rav Hutner, Rav Chaim Ozer
Grozinski and Rav Kook.  In later years, it was no longer politically
correct to be identified with Rav Kook. Hence, when the sefer was
reprinted this picture disappeared but the rest of the book remained the
same. There are documents that demonstrate that there was limited
secular studies in the yeshiva in Voloshin and that the Netziv read
secular newspapers. Since these activities are now prohibited in some
circles they revised history to deny what went on in Voloshin.
Similarly, various commentaries of both rishonim and achronim to both
the Torah and Mishna have been censored to remove comments that there
were not "politically correct"
     Israeli papers are well known for changing the facts for their
convenience. One comic story happened several years ago. Knesset member
Yosef from Shas (a son of Rav Ovadiah Yosef) complained that the army
was investigating waste of funds for religious purposes and not the
misuse of funds in searching for a light plane in which Ofra Haza was
flying. Hamodia (Agudah newspaper) in reporting the story did not want
to mention the name Ofra Haza. So everywhere where it appeared they
replaced it by the phrase "a group of singers" (in Hebrew that's
masculine).  They ending up with a sentence in the story "a group of
singers was one of six passengers in the plane".
     The editor of Hamodia was once asked what he would do if they got a
picture of major meeting of gedolim and in front was standing a woman
(Hamodia will not publish pictures with women prominently displayed).
His answer was that today one can alter pictures using computer


From: Moderator
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 93 23:59:59 EST
Subject: Syrians and Conversions

Marc Shapiro states in (10:4):

> Those who know the Syrian community can attest to the fact that strict 
> halakhic observance is not one of their shining characteristics...

This statement lead to several strong replies, and I unfortunately did
not catch it in my reading of the submission. My apologies, and I think
we can leave this particular part of the issue at rest. See Eitan's post
right after this for some substantial discussion.

Avi Feldblum
From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 15:47:24 -0500
Subject: Syrians and Conversions

I would like to quote at length from an article which appeared in
_Tradition_ (reprinted in _The Conversion Crisis_ ed. R. E. Feldman and R.
J. Wolowelsky, Ktav/RCA, 1990).  The article contains an introduction,
plus the text of the original ban (Feb, 1935), a subsequent clarification
(Feb, 1946), and a reaffirmation (June, 1984).  I will quote from the
introduction (I might add that I find it sad that I am forced to defend an
entire segment of klal yisrael from unfair and ad hominem attacks
supposedly promulgated in the name of unity):

  Blessed with some fifty thousand souls, the community maintains a whole
  range of institutions, including synagogues, yeshivot, a beit din,
  kollelim, mikvaot in Brooklyn and Deal, a bikkur holim society, a
  community center, a network of social institutions, and its own
  independent rabbinical council.

  On an individual level, there is a wide range of religious observance; yet
  the sense of community is usually able to transcend these differences.  It
  is rare to find a non-kosher home, and virtually all children receive a
  basic Jewish education, either at one of the community-sponsored
  yeshivot or at the Yeshiva of Flatbush (one-third of whose students are
  Sephardic). Ideologically, the community is committed to Orthodoxy . . . .

(EF: The contrast to the greater American Ashkenazic community is striking.)

  A close-knit pattern of social and economic inter-relationships motivates
  most people people to marry within the community; indeed, better than
  ninety percent of the families are intra-communally married.  However, it
  is the realization that no converts whatsoever will be accepted that keeps
  all but the most marginally affiliated from embarking upon serious social
  relationships with non-Jews . . . .

  The ban is based on the right of the community to promulgate takkanot and
  prohibitions.  This is codified in the shulchan aruch and goes back to
  talmudic times, when Rav found a problematic situation regarding oaths in
  the Babylonian community: Bik'a matsa ve-gadar gader -- "He found an open
  valley and built a fence."

  The current situation in America regarding conversions, whereby most gerut
  is done for the purpose of marriage, represents a sham and travesty of the
  Jewish tradition.  But the Sephardic community's approach is proof of the
  power of a kehilla to protect its heritage and traditions, even though it
  may not be reproduceable across all American Jewish communities.

  Our ban does not necessarily deny the legitimacy of any specific
  conversion; it does deny the convert and his or her Sephardic spouse (and
  their children) membership in the community . . . 

While the idea of a ban on conversions may make us uncomfortable
(especially those of us who are converts), it is hard to argue with the
positive results which the ban has produced (not to mention the fact that
the "right to convert" is not unalienable -- the gemara records that the
conversions performed in the time of Shlomo hamelech and Mordechai and
Esther, and the conversions of Samaritans due to fear of lions, were
invalid -- yevamot 24b).  Perhaps if Ashkenazim still sat shiva for children
who intermarried, the intermarriage rate wouldn't be where it is -- the
moment one abandons an uncompromising attitude towards intermarriage, one
opens the door for assimilation.  For the Syrians, there is a double
threat -- the threat of assimilation which faces all Jews, and the threat
of assimilating into the greater American Jewish community, a community
which is significantly different in terms of culture, minhag, and psak
halachah.  It is certainly clear that the ban has *nothing* to do with a
concept of ethnic purity (a slander which I hesitate to repeat for fear of
legitimization).  I know (and know of) many Syrian-Ashkenazic couples, many
of whom practice as Syrians and are part of that community -- though I
realize that this is anecdotal evidence, it further argues against any
concept of "ethnic purity" on the part of Syrians. 

Eitan Fiorino


From: Aryeh Erle <aryeh@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 93 14:19:15 -0500
Subject: Tatoos

	I was wondering about the Halacha on tatoos.  I heard that a person 
can not be buried in a Jewish cemetary if they have a tatoo.  From what I 
understand this is because the body is a temple and it is against Halacha 
to desecrate the body etc...  
But I also heard that some cemetaries do and some don't.  How do the ones 
that do bury people with tatoos get around it? and how do they justify 
earings and other forms of desecration besides the Brit Melah?
	Thanks for your wisdom.
				Seattle, WA


End of Volume 10 Issue 15