Volume 10 Number 21
                       Produced: Wed Nov 24 13:47:53 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Critical need for funds
         [Yapha Schochet]
EMES, Sheva Mitzvos & Yeshiva curriculum
         [Seth Gerstman]
Erring Prophets
         [Danny Skaist]
Rabbinic Authority
         [Anthony Fiorino]
:Brit and Evolution
         [Carolyn Lanzkron]


From: Yapha Schochet <YAPHA@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 03:37:31 -0500
Subject: Critical need for funds

I just wanted to add to Bob Klein's message about Rachel Bassan Horwitz,
the 31 year old woman in need of a bone marrow transplant. Rachel is
suffering from a bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma) very rare in
anyone so young. She has decided to undergo the transplant at the
University of Rochester Hospital because of their experience in treating
such rare occurances of the disease.  Multiple myeloma usually effects
the elderly and almost never stikes people under 60.

Rachel used to be my co-worker at the Bibliograpahic Center of the
Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University. She was our PC
facilitator, but left a little over a year ago in order to spend more
time with her 3 small children.  As Bob Klein mentioned the treatment
will cost some $200,000 not covered by the family's medical insurance.
Bob gave the address for contributions in the U.S.  In Israel
contributions can be send to:

Gemilut Hasadim Fund of the
Maale Adumim Women's Group
18 Mevo Katzarus
Maale Adumim 90610

If no receipt is needed a contribution can be deposited in
Bank Leumi - Maale Adumim Branch
Account No. 5276-73

Rachel's Hebrew name is Rahel Leah Bat Pearl Margalit. Please also add
her to your prayers.

Yapha Schochet


From: <sethg@...> (Seth Gerstman)
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 93 18:12:15 EST
Subject: EMES, Sheva Mitzvos & Yeshiva curriculum

	Some thoughts in response to various issues/questions I saw
posted recently.

	There was a question about Yaakov and his trait of Emes.  I seem
to recall having heard once that the purpose of the seeming trickery was
indeed to get to the Emes.  How else was the "older brother" going to
get the appropriate Brochah from Yitzchak?  The Emes was that Yaakov
deserved this Brochah.

	In a Shiur which I attend in Masechta Sanhedrin, we happen to be
learning about Sheva Mitzvos B'nai Noach (Daf 57).  The Rebbi in the
Shiur (a Rabbi Eisenberger) indicated that the Goyim rejected the Sheva
Mitzvos.  Their rejection did not constitute a revision of their
obligation.  Thus, they are still obligated.
	(A note on the subject.  A member of the Shiur commented that a
lady who is consciously trying to fulfill the Sheva Mitzvos complained
to the Rosh Hayeshiva of Ner Yisroel that the obligation of not stealing
(which for a Goy would include making use of something less than a
P'ruta 's value) is to hard to fulfill.  Rabbi Eisenberger agreed that
this is very hard -probably because of the society we live in- but it is
nevertheless an obligation.)

	In terms of Gemilus Chessed in Yeshiva curriculum, I do believe
that the Talmidim in Ner Yisrael are encouraged to do things in the
community whether Bikur Cholim at the local hospital/nursing homes, giv-
ing Shiurim in town (mostly from the Kollel).  This are two items I am
aware of and I am sure that there is more.  I don't understand the
reasoning of the person who suggested spending only time learning,
finish the curriculum, get a job and then do Chessed (my understanding
of the letter).  First, if the community is supporting a Yeshiva, a
Yeshiva must give some- thing back to the community.  (This would be
simple Hakoras HaTov -showing appreciation.)  Secondly, to suggest to
not to actively pursue Chessed would seem to lose the point of learning.
(In the famous story of Hillel who teaches the whole Torah to a Ger
while standing on one foot, he says "Do to others as you would want them
to do to you.  The rest is commentary.  Go and study.")  

My point is that the responsibility of man to his fellow is an integral
part of leading a Torah life.  Without this Chessed a person is missing
the point of learning.  This Chessed may take different forms.  One
Yeshiva which I visited for a Shabbos has a rule that the Talmidim do
not do things in the community at large (they don't get involved).  But
when I visited for Shabbos, I was treated like royalty.  It seemed like
every Talmid welcomed me and wanted to participate in hosting me.  (The
rule of the Yeshiva is based on the adiministration's understanding of
the expectations of the parents of the Talmidim to protect them from
outside influences seemingly.)

Seth Gerstman


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 06:19:53 -0500
Subject: Erring Prophets

>Eli Turkel
>with) is that gedolim are not prophets and so can err and in fact have
>erred in the past.

Kings II, (4:27) (also used as haftorah vayerah) Elisha (who WAS a prophet)
says " and the Lord has hid it from me and not told me." Even prophets don't
know unless they were told.



From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 13:19:16 -0500
Subject: Rabbinic Authority

It seems to me that this whole debate about the decisions and statements
of rabbinic leaders in pre-WWII Europe regarding aliya hinges upon how one
views rabbinic authority.  Clearly, statements made by rabbinic
authorities regarding the safety of their communities were not statements
of pure psak; that is, one could not answer the question "should I go to
eretz yisrael" simply by finding an appropriate sugya in shas and a few
rishonim.  Extra-halachic issues entered the answering of that question --
namely, each rabbi's conception of the future safety of the Jew(s) asking
the question. 

Now, if one has a moderate approach to rabbinic authority, there is no
problem.  By "a moderate approach," I mean one who accepts as absolutely
binding the authority of rabbinic decisions in the area of psak, but does
not accept as automatically binding (and automatically true) the authority
of rabbinic decisions in extra-halachic realms.  In such a case, given the
clearly extra-halachic content of the information needed to assess the
situation in pre-WWII Europe, then the statement "stay, the Jews will be
safe" is viewed as an opinion, not as psak.  It is a valuable opinion --
it may be the opinion of a gadol -- but is falls into a different realm
than a statement like "this spoon must be kashered" and is not viewed as
binding.  Furthermore, in the moderate view, there is no problem for a
statement of opinion (as opposed to psak) being incorrect -- an adherant
of the moderate position can say, without hesitation, "Those who
maintained that the Jews would be safe were tragically mistaken." This
represents, to the moderate, neither a breach of emunat chachamim nor a
heretical statement. 

On the other hand, a more extreme approach to rabbinic authority, which
has been labelled "daas Torah," has more trouble in this situation.  A
daas Torah view sees the views of the rabbinic elite as binding even in
extra-halachic matters -- in matters of economics, politics, even in the
realm of personal issues (see L. Kaplan "daas Torah" in _Rabbinic
Authority and Personal Autonomy_ ed. J.J. Schacter; several articles in
the latest _Tradition_; less directly applicable but containing anecdotal
information are W. Helmreich _The World of the Yeshiva_, M.H. Danziger,
_Returning to Tradition_).  Since daas Torah views statements made regarding
extra-halachic matters as having the character of psak, not of opinion, to
evaluate such statements after the fact and to conclude that a particular
statement was wrong undermines the whole daas Torah system.  If the case is
simply a rebbe giving advice to a talmid to buy a certain car which turns
out to be a lemon, it is easy to explain away.  If the advice is to stay in
pre-WWII Europe, then it is less easy to explain away, and trying to
understand how such advice was given is very problematic from the
perspective of daas Torah.  As L. Kaplan describes in his article (this was
discussed on m-j also), when the adherents of daas Torah cannot explain
away a statement which clearly seems to be mistaken, they may be forced
into intellectual dishonesty by pretending the statement was never made.

It seems that much of the m-j discussion has centered upon laying
responsibility upon rabbaim who consuled against leaving Europe.  I
think that this is ultimately a futile exercise, and does not contribute
productively in any way to healing the wounds inflicted.  Furthermore, it
leaves the more fundamental (and more theologically challenging) question
of "Why were six million slaughtered?" unasked.  It is problematic for
another reason -- before one can attempt to place responsibility upon
rabbaim, one must determine to which view of rabbinic authority the
Jews in question adhered.  If they viewed the statements regarding the
safety of Europe as advice, then they were free to agree or disagree.  If,
on the other hand, they viewed the statements regarding the safety of
Europe as psak halacha, then they were not as free to leave.  In which
case, perhaps one can view the decision to stay in Europe as a collective,
communal one.  For both the advice-giver, and the advice-receivers, are
informed by the same concept of rabbinic authority and in that way all
are part of the decision-making process.

It was not my goal either to knock daas Torah or to analyze it in-depth. 
Too many Jews, myself included, too often take too lightly what our
rabbaim have to say about extra-halachic matters.  I do feel, however,
that granting to advice the status of psak is dangerous -- if that advice
turns out to be faulty, or mistaken, then one is forced into two avenues:
one can either engage in intellectually dishonest games to explain away
the apparent error (or ignore it), or one can simply loose their faith
entirely in rabbinic authority (chas v'shalom). 

Eitan Fiorino


From: <clkl@...> (Carolyn Lanzkron)
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1993 08:49:30 -0500
Subject: Re :Brit and Evolution

Why would the natural selection process become involved if another
non-natural-selective force removed the variable?  If all mousetails are
removed, how would a mouse choose a mate born without a tail?  How would
that mouse know which other mice were born with tails?

If one wanted to design an experiment where mousetails were removed by
natural selection, mousetails would have to be made inconvenient.
Perhaps some tail-hazard device, such as one of those running-wheels
modified to have the tendency to catch stray tails.



End of Volume 10 Issue 21