Volume 10 Number 23
                       Produced: Wed Nov 24 19:11:42 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ear Piercing
         [Gedaliah Friedenberg]
Listening to Non-Jewish Religious Music (2)
         [Jeff Mandin, Anthony Fiorino]
Making non-Jews happy
         [Robert A. Book]
Music - Karl Orff and Carmina Burana
         [Steve Wildstrom]
Yaakov (2)
         [Nicolas Rebibo, Alan Zaitchik]


From: <friedenb@...> (Gedaliah Friedenberg)
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 03:17:37 -0500
Subject: Ear Piercing

In v10n19, Rick Turkel writes:

> Women have been piercing their ears since time immemorial, and many
> more than half of the women and girls I know have pierced ears

I few years back I asked whether ear peircing is considered desecration
of one's body, and the resposes that I got were of the form: "Jews have
been doing it for as long as anyone can remember, so it must be OK."
Can anyone explain to me WHY piercing one's ears is/is not desecration
of the body.

Gedaliah Friedenberg
-=-Department of Mechanical Engineering
-=-Michigan State University


From: Jeff Mandin <jeff@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 18:44:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Listening to Non-Jewish Religious Music

><barryk@...> (Barry Kingsbury) writes:
>Let me put this as a question: "Is it wrong for a Jew to appreciate art
>of the nonJew if the art was derived from or is related to the artist's
>religion?"  If yes, am I prohibited from reading for enjoyment the works
>of Homer, Virgil, and Dante? 
> ...
>Doesn't a prohibition upon this kind of music say that beauty isn't
>beautiful if there is a nonJewish religious connotation?

Aside from the halachic issues, it seems to me that in Jewish tradition
there is little notion of "art for art's sake", or of the elevation
given to the aesthetic realm by European thinkers like Schiller.  Just
about all old "Jewish art" that one sees is "decorative", rather than
"stand-alone", and is usually in the context of "hidur mitzvah"
(beautifying a mitzvah).

R. Moshe's tshuva mentioned earlier seemed to relate to music as a kind
of "taanug" (pleasurable thing), and didn't talk about aesthetics.  In a
similar vein the Mishnah Berura on Hilchot Berachot compares hearing a
"nigun"(tune) to pleasures like eating and smelling fragrances, and says
that no bracha is made on the nigun because it doesn't enter the body.

I would be interested in any Jewish sources on art and aesthetics that
anyone knows of.

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 21:26:39 -0500
Subject: Listening to Non-Jewish Religious Music

Barry Kingsbury asks many questions regarding music to which it is
appropriate to listen; the questions are asked in light of a recent
posting which reported the contents of a teshuva by Rav Moshe.

The first point is -- one should certainly consult a rav before deciding
if a particular CD should be tossed out (or even anything less drastic);
other poskim have no doubt written on the subject and Rav Moshe's
teshuva may not be indicative of where the halachic consensus lies.

The second point is that the nature of the references to "religion" in
Rav Moshe's teshuva need to be clarified.  When he prohibits music with
vocals which has religious content, is this an avoda zara issue?  If, in
fact, such music is prohibited because it is a form of idol-worship,
then perhaps the vast majority of European classical music would not
fall under this category, as it is Christian in nature, and there is no
shortage of sources indicating that Christianity is not avoda zara (for
instance, Rabbenu Tam and the Meiri).  Of course, if Rav Moshe's ruling
is not about avoda zara, but rather is refering to gentile religions in
general, then the status of Christianity is irrelevant.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 23:12:55 CST
Subject: Re: Making non-Jews happy

Mike Gerver (<GERVER@...>) writes:

[Regarding ordering software from Mormons:]

> 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.

What possible halachic problem is there with doing something for one's
own benefit which as a byproduct might make non-Jews happy?  Are we not
command to treat non-Jews well, "since we were strangers in the Land of

(Also, I suspect the issue of ordering on Sunday would be irrelevant,
since I don't think the Mormons do business on Sunday.  Thus, they
wouldn't accept the order anyway.  Even if that isn't the case, why
should we accord any halachic recognition to another religion's

--Robert Book


From: Steve Wildstrom <wild@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 93 21:43:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Music - Karl Orff and Carmina Burana

Barry Kingbury wrote, inter alia:
> Let me put this as a question: "Is it wrong for a Jew to appreciate art
> of the nonJew if the art was derived from or is related to the artist's
> religion?"  If yes, am I prohibited from reading for enjoyment the works
> of Homer, Virgil, and Dante? Was it wrong to view and admire
> Michaelangelo's <Pieta> at the 1964 New York World's Fair? Was it wrong
> to hear the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood perform <Carmina Burana>?

I have no competance even to discuss the halachic aspects. However, Karl
Orff is a difficult and special case. He lived and worked in Germany
throughout the war. And unlike some, such as Furtwaengler or Schwartz-
kopf, who could make the poor claim that they were unwilling party
members (in fact, I'm not even sure that Furtwaengler was a member) Orff
was an enthusiastic Nazi and the mock-primitivism of Carmina Burana fits
well with National Scoialist ideology. The difficulty of Orff's case
comes from the fact that he developed marvelous methods for teaching
music to children, methods which are still widely used. Should they be
rejected because Orff later turned out bad?


From: nre%atlas%<cesar@...> (Nicolas Rebibo)
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 17:47:39 GMT
Subject: Yaakov

Here is an explanation I have heard when I studied this paracha last
year.  The Thora may ask us to renounce to some of our objectives.

At the material level, though one may want to earn as much money as
possible, we have to stop working on Shabbat (even if this is the best
commercial day), we have to give a certain amount of money as

What we are ready to do at the material level, we should be ready to do
it at the spiritual level: The Thora may ask us to abandon one of our
spiritual goal. The exemple is given by Yaacov who had to renounce to
its main spiritual characteristic in order to accomplish what G-d wanted
him to do at that time (as it had been said by prophecy to his mother).

Nicolas Rebibo

From: Alan Zaitchik <ZAITCHIK@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 14:56:24 -0500
Subject: Yaakov

I think that Uri Meth (v10 #20) gives a very clever answer but for
those who want to stick a little closer to the pshat I would like
to insist on remembering these background points:
(Sorry I cannot cite chapter and verse here, but I am not at home
right now and have no Tanach handy...)

1.	With (almost) no exceptions, oldest children in the Torah (and
	generally in Tanach until the period of the Kings) are less worthy
	and less successful than the youngest or one of the youngest
	children. Some examples: Ka'in vs Hevel, Yishmael vs Yitschak,
	Esav vs Yaakov, Bnei Yaakov vs Yosef, Leah vs Rachel,
	Zerach vs Perets, Menashe vs Efraim, Nadav/Avihu vs Elazar/Itamar,
	the sons of Yishai vs David, the older children of David vs Shlomo.
	(Other more complicated cases: Reuven rejected in favor of Yehuda,
	Rabbinic tradition that makes Yefet older than Shem, Rabbinic
	tradition that favors the younger daughter of Lot over the older,
	even Aharon/Miriam vs Moshe. But I do not want to argue these 
	latter cases...)
2.	Why can't characters in the Torah (such as Yaakov) "learn" 
	or "grow" -- and not necessarily monotonically? So
	Yaakov may start as a trickster who is NOT "emet" in any actual
	sense... and through his dealings with a real "fadrei kop" like 
	Lavan and his botched relations with his wives and sons,
	come to learn what "emet" involves. True, it is unclear how
	Yaakov could be described as "tam", but that is a problem on
	ANY interpretation of the text. What would a "tam" know
	about manipulating the reproduction habits of sheep for his
	own gain? I will leave "tam" for some other occasion...

In fact, there are many hints about this right at the level of pshat. 
For example, Lavan's remark about marrying off the "tseirah lifnei hab'chirah" 
(the youngest before the oldest daughter) evokes Yaakov's stealing
the bracha from Esav. This is tit-for-tat and Yaakov has no
reply to make. He did trick his brother even as he is now tricked.
(Rashi makes this point as I recall.)

So too the struggles between Yaakov's sons. Yaakov deceived Yitshak 
-- and he is deceived by his own sons regarding the fate of Yosef. 
As many people have noted the verb "haker" is used in multiple contexts 
(Yaakov to Lavan, the sons of Yaakov to Yaakov, later also Tamar to Yehuda 
and, later still, Yosef to his brothers).

We clearly are meant to tie the stories all together as an UNFOLDING
story in which characters develop. Yaakov comes to the well to find
Rachel, just as Eliezer found Rivkah by the spring; Yaakov happens to
notice the sheep Rachel has with her just as Lavan earlier noticed the
gold Eliezer gave Rivkah; but whereas Rivkah watered Eliezer's
livestock, now it is Yaakov who draws water for Rachel. And instead of a
flowing spring it is a b'eer, a well -- and a stopped up one at that!

The final story in this sequence, when Yaakov blesses Efraim ahead of
Menasheh, is a clear example. Yaakov, like Yitschak, is old and "blind".
He gives precedence to the younger child (in Yaakov's case he is of
course also blessing the older child, but never mind...). But this time
when Yosef wants him to recognize the b'chor (Menasheh) Yaakov says
"yada'ti b'ni yada'ti", i.e. it is not a mistake this time, I know what
I am doing, unlike my father. The cycle of deceptions is completed.
(Well, almost, for the brothers are still going to deceive Yosef about
their father's parting words...)

I cannot see any reason to make believe that Yaakov was a "man of truth"
from the start of the story.

alan=aharon zaitchik


End of Volume 10 Issue 23