Volume 10 Number 52
                       Produced: Wed Dec  8 17:56:28 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An interesting (posisbly new?) thought on the Holocaust
         [David Charlap]
Differences Between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Sifrei Torah
         [Benjamin Edinger]
         [Raphael Neuman]
Holocaust and Gedolim
         [Lisa Gardner]
Reuven, Yosef and the Pit
         [Joel Goldberg]
         [Michael Broyde]


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 12:52:19 -0500
Subject: An interesting (posisbly new?) thought on the Holocaust

I came up with this idea yesterday.

I was thinking of the recent discussion on why the great rabbis didn't
order the Jews out of Europe, and why some told their followers to
remain.  The common explanation was that God hid the future from them,
so they would decide the way they were.  But it occurred to me that they
might acutally have known, and chose their decision for a reason.

I then started to think of a possible reason, and I suddenly made a
connection between Hitler's ravaging Europe and the destruction of Sodom
and Gommorah.

If you recall, God was willing to save the cities of Sodom and Gommorah
from destruction if He could find but ten people living there that were
as righteous as Lot was (and he wasn't particularly great, we're told).

Well, perhaps the same held here.  Perhaps God had wanted to completely
destroy all of Europe, and it was the merits of the Jews that He
"merely" destroyed some of it.  Perhaps, without the Jews remaining
behind, God's destruction of the continent would have been complete.

The idea is not so far fetched as it sounds.  Historically, every nation
that expelled its Jews has collapsed soon afterwards.  The best example
is Spain, after the Inquisition.

Anyway, I figured I'd post this theory and see what responses I
get out of it.

-- David


From: Benjamin Edinger <ta-bwe0@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 11:18:18 -0500
Subject: Differences Between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Sifrei Torah

In response to the question Malcolm Isaacs asked about the differences
in text between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Sifrei Torah I would like to
offer a few sources.

Differences in Words:

1. Devarim 23:2 - see Minchat Shai. See also Rav Ovadya Yoseph's Ychaveh
Da'at vol 6. sec 56. This is the most well know of the differences
between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Sifrei Torah. The Ashkenazim have the
word "daka" with an "aleph". The Sephardim have it with a "hey ."  It is
interesting to note that the Taymanim, like the Ashkenazim, have "daka"
with an "aleph" (see Ychaveh Da'at).

2. Berashit 9:29 -see Minchat Shai. The Minchat Shai says that some
Ashkenazi Sifrei Torah have an "extra" "vav" at the end of the word
"vahyhe" making it "vaheyu." The Minchat Shai concludes that the
"sifarim miduyakkim" do not have the "vav". Again it is interesting to
note that the Taymanim have the "extra" "vav" just as some Ashkenazim
(see Ychaveh Da'at).

Differences in Malei and Chaser:

Variations in malei and chaser in the text of the Torah are numerous.
One need only glance at a random page of Minchat Shai to verify this.
These variations are often irrespective of ethnicity
(Sephardi/Askenazi). Many of these differences between various Sifrei
Torah are at least as old as the Gemara.  The Gemara in Kiddushin 30a
quotes the "Sofrim" as saying that the "vav" of Gechon marks the middle
of the Torah. Rav Yoseph (circa 300 C.E.) asked if the "vav" is part of
the first or second half of the Torah. (He must have known that there
were and even # of letters in the Torah.)The Gemara suggests taking out
a Sefer Torah and counting. To which they respond "we are not experts in
melaot and chasarot." Thus we see that even in the times of the Gemara
there were uncertainties in the text of the Torah with regard to malei
and chaser.

Differences in Spacing:

It should be noted that there also exists variations in the spacing of the
text of the Torah. For example:
Vayekra 7:22 -  There is a debate amongst the poskim if there is to be a
parsha ptucha at this point in the text or no parsha at all. The Rambam in
Hilchot Sefer Torah perek 8 lists all the parshot in the Torah. There is a
machloket between the Hagot Maymoni and the Keseph Mishna whether this one is
included or excluded from the Rambam's list. The most widely accepted opinion
(by Askenazim and Sephardim) is that of the Keseph Mishna that there is no
parsha at this point. (The Taymanim do have a parsha ptucha)

I would like to add two points.

A. Despite these differences the text of the Torah is incredibly
accurate. Due to the strict halachic standard for writing a Sefer Torah
(see Rambam's Hilchot Sefer Torah) the variations that have been
introduced are relatively few and minor. In comparison, Neviim and
Ketuvim where there is a much more lenient standard for the text (see
Rambam's Hilchot Migillah) there is much more variation. (even entire
psukim are questionable see Yehoshua 21. )

B.At first glance it seems unusual that the Taymani text is more similar
to the Ashkenazi text than to the Sephardi text (see above 1&2). One
would assume that the limited contact that there was with Tayman would
have been with Taymain's neighbors.Thus the Taymani text should be
closer to the Sephardi text than the Ashkenazi. However, it must be
realized that it takes only one "miduyak" Sefer Torah from abroad to
affect an entire community.  Sofrim of the recipient community will
meticulously copy the imported Sefer Torah. Thus it is easy to imagine
how such variations could spread even between communities with limited

Benjamin and Shlomit Edinger


From: <rneuman@...> (Raphael Neuman)
Date: 7 Dec 93 12:38:45 GMT
Subject: Holocaust

There has been much discussion about the holocaust in the past issues of
mail.jewish. Here is some additional input on the matter.

My parents are survivors of the terrible inferno that engulfed the Jews
of Europe, a fire that not only killed so many Jews, but that also
destroyed so many beautiful Kehillos, great Yeshivos and wonderful
communities that we can only attempt to rebuild.

A few years ago a fellow holocaust survivor told my father "I am envious
of a person that can believe.  How could G-D have just stood by during
the holocaust."  My father answered "Who says G-D just stood by, it was
G-D's will."  My father proceeded to quote his friend a Pasuk in
Parshath Hazinu, chapter 32, verse 30 "How could one chase a thousand
and two chase ten thousand, if not their ROCK (G-D) surrendered them and
the LORD had handed them over!"  Such tragedies can only happen with the
will of G-D.

In Grace after meals we pray "vekol tuv uh m'kol tuv leolam al
yechasreinu", "and all the good and of all the good we should never
lack."  I heard a nice explanation to the redundancy of the words "kol
tuv", "all the good."  G-D knows what is best for us, whether we
comprehend it as good or not.  Our prayer to G-D is let the good that
you have in store for us be truly good.  Many people suffer from
medical, financial and other difficulties, that is part of G-Ds plan,
and that is why we pray that the good be truly good.

R. Neuman


From: Lisa Gardner <gardner@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 10:45:44 EST
Subject: Re: Holocaust and Gedolim

The following is from the book "Dawn before Darkness" by Ezriel Tauber.
It is in the Questions and Answers section. 

Question 2:  Why didn't the great rabbis of the prewar Europe tell Jews
to leave Europe and emigrate en masse to Israel or America?

Answer:  You cannot outsmart Hashem.  This is a basic Torah teaching.
The last thing Yosef (Joseph), and our forefather Yaakov wanted, was to
go down to the land of Egypt.  However, this was Hashem's decree, and
the unforeseen string of events behind the sale of Yosef and the family's
subsequent descent into Egypt came about despite everyone's great efforts
to avoid it.  Sometimes, Hashem issues a decree and there is no escape.

It goes so far that He will even confuse the mind of the wisest of men,
if need be.  The Gemara teaches us that when the great Rabban Yochanan
ben Zakkai came before the Roman general Vespasian and failed to take
the opportunity to ask him to spare Jerusalem, that was an example of
Hashem "twisting the wise man around," (i.e. confusing even the wisest
of men).  The same can be said about the rabbis in Europe before the
Holocaust: When Hashem issues a decree, He even takes away the minds
of the rabbis.  This is part of the decree.

On the other hand, it is possible that some rabbis knew exactly what was
going to happen and still chose not to reveal it.  The precedent for this
is also in the Torah.  While Yaakov was suffering over the loss of Yosef,
Chazal tell us that Yitzchak knew exactly what had happened to Yosef and
where he was.  Nevertheless, Yizchak refrained from telling his son Yaakov
because he knew the matter had to remain hidden. So, too, we can assume
that the inevitable was not hidden from certain rabbis in prewar Europe,
but they knew the matter had to remain hidden.

The great Chofetz Chaim did indeed publicly exhort people to change their
ways, numerous forewarning them with visionary insight of the ominous path
they were heading down.  Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk wrote in the book
posthumously published in 1927: "Those who think Berlin is Jerusalem ...
[will cause] a howling stormwind will arise [and bring about their
destruction]."   (Meshech Chochmah, Vayikra 26:44)

Of course whether they knew or did not know, the truth is that there was
no place to run.  America had closed its gates to immigrants and England
had even tighter clamps around Palestine.  As is well-known, a boat full
of escapees from Hitler's Holocaust sought entry into the "free" world and
was sent back to Europe.  There was no place to run.  The rabbis knew that
just as everyone else did.

Rather than directing people to emigrate en masse to Palestine, the great
rabbis realized that without the people undergoing inner change, no
emigration or other action would be able to prevent the inevitable.
Let us say that somehow the British and Arabs allowed millions of Jews to
settle in Palestine before the war.  Rommel (Germany's greatest general)
was at the doorstep of Palestine in 1940.  The Jews who were already there
survived only because of a last minute miracle which led to Rommel's
defeat.  Nevertheless, had Hashem willed it, Jews in Palestine would have
been just as vulnerable to extermination at the hands of the Nazis as they
were in Europe.  Instead of Poles and Europeans energetically helping the
Nazis exterminate the Jews, we can be sure that the infamous Mufti of
Jerusalem would have had little problem inspiring the Arab masses to do
the job of geocide at least as well.  The botton line is: You cannot
outsmart Hashem.

Despite the inevitability of the fate of the Jews of Europe, there was a
great advantage to seeking out the advice of -- and then listening to --
the words of the leading Torah sages.  If, in the end, one was going to
die in a concentration camp or in the forests of Poland or Russia then at
least those who listened to the rabbis earned the merit of dying as a
result of the advice of Hashem's mouthpiece in this world: the great
Torah sage.
---------------------------------End of Question-------------------------

For those of you in the Baltimore/Washington area, Rabbi Tauber will be
speaking at the NorthWest Citizens Patrol dinner Motzai Shabbos December
18 at about 9:00pm (dinner starts at 8:15pm).  He will also speak at the
Agudath Israel of Baltimore (6200 Park Heights Ave) Friday night
(December 17) at 8:30pm.  The topic is "Happiness - The Definition and
Appreciation of Life".  For more information feel free to contact me at
the address below.

Esther Gardner
Hubble Servicing Mission: 2 successful EVAs, 3 to go.


From: <goldberg@...> (Joel Goldberg)
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 93 09:27:21 -0500
Subject: Reuven, Yosef and the Pit

  Subject: Divine Providence
  Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...> wrote:

> Reuven perceived it extremely likely something would happen to Joseph
> were he left in his brother's hands, being as they hated him so and
> wished to kill him. Therefore, Reuven said it is preferable to throw him
> into a pit with snakes and scorpions, rather then in the hands of his
> enemies who would not take mercy on him.

  The drash I heard last shabbat was that miracles involving the
  abrogating of a person's free will, or of interefering with the
  usual (natural) course of events, are less likely. In this case,
  staying out of the way of the snakes and scorpions is a "low level"


From: Michael Broyde <RELMB@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 11:59:45 -0500
Subject: Re: Tefillin

One of the writers made mention of relying on Rav Moshe's famous teshuva
concerning putting on tephillin at night, prior to going to work.  He
permits this even with a beracha.  Before one relys on this responsa, I
would urge one to speak to ones local orthodox rabbi.  The grounds
relied on in that teshuva might be limited to situations of greater
economic need than applicable to many in the United States (The letter
was written in the hight of the great depression in Russia).


End of Volume 10 Issue 52