Volume 10 Number 17
                       Produced: Tue Nov 23  7:54:06 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birkhat Kiddush Hashem
         [Aryeh Frimer]
         [David A Rier]
Genealogical Software
         [Mike Gerver]
Halacha and the Shoah
         [Daniel Weiss]
Kavod to Gedolim
         [Marc Shapiro]
         [Elchonon Rappaport]
Martyrdom vs. _Living_ by Halacha
         [David Charlap]
         [Alan Mizrahi]
         [Josh Rapps]


From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 06:19:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Birkhat Kiddush Hashem

     In resonse to Eitan's query regarding a Brakha on Kiddush Hashem:
Such a Brakha does indeed exist and the first source for it is the Shlah
(Shnei Luchot ha-Brit) who cites it as "Lekadesh et Shmo be-Rabim". The
subject is discussed in one of Rabbi Oshri's volumes of responsa on
from the Shoa: "Mema'amakim". There are 5 volumes and I believe it to
be in one of the first two.


From: David A Rier <dar6@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 1:33:30 EST
Subject: Forgiveness

Someone has asked me for references to classical Jewish sources on the
concept of forgiveness, both human and divine (not just as it relates
to repentance).  Private responses are fine. David Rier 
<dar6@...>    dar6@columbia


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 2:45:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Genealogical Software

In v10n1, Gordon Berkley discusses the PAF (Personal Ancestry File) software
produced by the Mormons, and Avi asks whether there might be any halachic
problem with ordering it. I was concerned about this question too, since the
Mormons developed this software in order to provide a convenient way for
their members to enter their family trees into the data bank they keep, as
a religious obligation. I asked a shayla of my former LOR (now LDOR, Long
Distance Orthodox Rabbi), specifically asking whether it was possible for
software (as a opposed to a concrete object like a tree) to be forbidden
because it was used for avodah zarah [idol worship]. Even if the software
were developed primarily for avodah zarah (assuming Mormonism even is avodah
zarah), the particular floppy disk you buy was probably manufactured primarily
for commercial sale of the software, not necessarily for use by church members.
In any case, the reply I got back was that there was no halachic problem in
ordering the software, only I should not order on Friday (since they would
then probably send it out on Shabbat, for my benefit), and it would be better
not to order it on Sunday, in order to avoid making them happy on their
Sabbath. Of course, readers should consult their own LOR.

I should add that I specifically did not ask about using the Mormons'
data bank to research my own ancestors, something that I have heard some
halachic authorities prohibit. I didn't ask this question because I was
afraid of getting a negative answer, and I have more than enough to do
following up non-Mormon sources of possible information. Readers should
of course ask their own rabbis about this issue as well.

Although I got the reply several months ago, I still haven't gotten
around to actually ordering PAF, let along using it. So I cannot answer
from first hand experience the question brought up by Smadar Kedar and
Hillel Cooperman, in v10n3, about genealogical software for the Mac. But
there was an article on this topic in the Fall 1993 issue (Volume 9,
number 3) of Avotaynu, on p. 26, by David Chapin. (If you cannot find
this journal in your library, you can subscribe to it or order back
issues by writing to P. O. Box 900, Teaneck, NJ 07666.) Briefly, he
compares three Macintosh programs:

	1) Reunion, produced by Leister Productions, PO Box 289,
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055, (717)697-1378. Version 3.01 costs $129. This
was the most expensive program, but by far the best of the three. It
supports GEDCOM, allows cutting and pasting of pieces of family trees
into other documents, incorporating scanned photographs, etc. It uses
HyperCard. The bad points were that it can be intimidating to a new
user, and can be slower than PAF on older Macs.

	2) PAF costs only $35. It supports GEDCOM, but does not allow
cutting and pasting of family trees into other documents, it only
alllows you to print them out. It is easy to use, but its data fields
are fixed.

	3) MacRoots, a shareware program, with a $35 shareware fee. It
is does not support GEDCOM, the standard format for entering
genealogical data into data bases.

The Jewish genealogical data base mentioned by Gordon Berkley was the
one at Beit Hatefutsot. But, as discussed in Avotaynu Vol. 7, number 2
(Summer 1991) on p. 3, the data base project at Beit Hatefutsot has been
poorly managed, and has failed to enter large amounts of data sent to
it. (I don't know if the situation has improved since 1991.) As a result
of these problems, Gary Mokotoff, the publisher of Avotaynu, started the
Jewish Genealogical People Finder (1485 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ
07666). Data can be submitted to them in GEDCOM format on an
IBM-compatible floppy disk (of either size).  There is no charge for
submitting data. People are urged to be careful about submitting data on
births or marriages that may be a sensitive issue in their families, and
they will remove data on people who don't want to be included if they
request it. Microfiche of the data base (with 200,000 entries so far)
can be ordered from Avotyanu, Inc, PO Box 900, Teaneck, NJ 07666, for
$22.50, plus $1.50 for shipping and handling.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <danny@...> (Daniel Weiss)
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 11:59:14 -0500
Subject: Halacha and the Shoah

I am a newcomer to the mail-jewish forum so please excuse any mistakes.
I was intrigued by the messages that I have seen posted regarding rabbis
and halacha in the time of the holocaust. I am 31 years old and the son
of holocaust survivors. My maternal grandfather, olov hashalom, was one
of the leaders of the Judenrat in what was then occupied Czechoslovakia
under the Nazis (yimach shemam). He died when I was seven years old and
so I know little of his travails first-hand, but from what my maternal
grandmother and my mother tell me he was chosen by the Jews because of
his combined Torah and secular education. He himself relied upon what
rabbinicaL authority remained (and was available) in order to make
decisions regarding unspeakable situations. Some answers he got from the
rabbis troubled him but he endeavored to follow halacha, as it was best
applied during those times. For example, the Nazis told him that since
there were two Chazanim (cantors) in the community and the Jews only
really needed one, one of them would have to be deported or both would
be deported if they were not given a name. Apparently one was orthodox
and one was what we would now call conservative. The rabbis told him to
deport the conservative one. The pain that he felt still reverberates in
my grandmother's voice as she recounts the story. Were they rabbis
right? Who can say, here in 1993 in freedom? What should my grandfather
have done? (He listened to the rabbis and gave the Nazis the conservatve
cantor's name). What would any of you do? Unfortunately our halacha has
all to many psaks (decisions) on how to deal with such terrible
situations, because of our history. Yet, we always seem to be subjected
to a new one not "covered" exactly by pre-existing Halacha. I welcome
your comments.

Daniel Weiss, M.D.


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 22:31:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Kavod to Gedolim

People have been saying that we should show kavod to all gedolim
whatever their affiliation. This is not true. See R. Yehudah Henkin's
recent volume of responsa to see how one is supposed to relate to rabbis
who defame gedolim. According to the gemara and Rambam someone who
defames a gadol is a heretic and we cannot show him kavod. If a certain
rebbe says that all Zionists are heretics and refers to Rav Kook with a
yemach shemo after his name, is such a man deserving of kavod? If
someones says I am a heretic do I have to show him respect?
 M. Shapiro


From: <ELCHANAN@...> (Elchonon Rappaport)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 16:30:53 IDT
Subject: Martyrdom

Finley Shapiro write:

>> 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.

I was always under the impression that we are mostly descended from
those who left, and that those who remained and masqueraded were
lost to the generations.

Anyone have any solid evidence either way?



From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 93 12:36:53 -0500
Subject: Martyrdom vs. _Living_ by Halacha

Frank Silbermann <fs@...> writes:
>Though we are commanded to give up our lives rather than engage in
>public idolatry, we may take a lenient view of the Marranos, as Rashi
>did not consider Christianity to be idolatry.  Considering that we are
>commanded to _live_ by Halacha, I long wondered why it is considered
>commendable to choose martyrdom over conversion to Christianity.
>Eventually, I arrived at an understanding which makes sense to me.

The middle-ages argument, while interesting, is not the reason.  Jews
have been martyring themselves for God for much longer than that.  Many
many great rabbis chose death over conversion when Babylon and Rome
occupied Judea.  Many were executed in horrible ways - flaying and
burning, among others.

During the Holocaust, however, rabbis encouraged Jews to live for

What's the difference?  In all prior cases, the nations of the world
wanted to extinguish Judaism.  A conversion would be sufficeint to be
left alive.  In the Holocaust, this was not enough - Hitler wanted
_death_ to Jews - even ones who had converted away for many generations.

When someone attacks Judaism, one is obligated to choose death over
defeat.  But when your death is the enemy's goal, choosing death serves
absolutely no purpose.

As to why one should choose martyrdom in the first place, I can make a
speculation.  Torah and mitzvot are food for your soul.  Just as your
body can not live without food, your soul can not live without Torah.
To abandon Judaism is tantamount to suicide in the world to come.  It is
better to give up this (temporary) life in order to not destroy your
future (permenant) life in Gan Eden.


From: <amizrahi@...> (Alan Mizrahi)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 14:25:48 EST
Subject: Pronunciation

In a previous mailing, I asked about the origin of pronouncing taf like
an "s".  Avi responded by saying:

> I suspect that based on previous discussions, 1) we probably don't
> know what the original pronunciation was, and in addition if by taf
> you mean the last letter of the alphabet without a dagesh in it, then
> 2) pronouncing it like a t is probably not the original pronunciation,
> so your question [satisfying the requirement to recite the Shema]
> would apply there as well.

This is all true, but the reason I picked out that one difference in
pronunciation is because it is the least subtle of all of them.  Between
other letters that vary only by a dagesh, there is a similar sound, kaf
and khaf for example.  Though taf without the dagesh almost surely was
not pronounced the same as taf with a dagesh, I would think that the
sound was more similar to a t then an s.

-Alan Mizrahi


From: <jr@...> (Josh Rapps)
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 93 22:19 EST
Subject: Re: Yaakov

As far as equating Yaakov with Chesed, I would offer the following

The Rov ZT'L in discussing the 7 attributes that some include after
counting Sefirat Haomer mentioned that each midah refers to one of the
Avot. The first, Chesed, represents Avraham who's outstanding attribute
was performing acts of kindness through which recognition of Hashem was
enhanced. Yitzckok represents Gevurah which the Rov described as the
hidden and unknown. Not much is written in the Torah of Yitzchok and his
life. He is most closely associated with a complete dedication to Avodas
Hashem as would befit one who was an Olah Temimah. Yaakov represents the
blending of the first 2 in that he showed characteristics of both Chesed
and Gevurah.  Tiferes notes that Yaakov was the Bechir Shebeavos, the
special and chosen among the patriarchs.

josh rapps


End of Volume 10 Issue 17