Volume 10 Number 58
                       Produced: Sun Dec 12 20:44:37 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Mechael Kanovsky]
Bontshe Shveig (4)
         [Rani Averick, Warren Burstein, Moshe Waldoks, Bob Werman]
Bontshe the Silent, The Chosen, and Young People's Reading
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Eclipse as an Omen
         [Robert A. Book]
Recommended books
         [Cristin M Quinn]
Separate blessings on Hanukah lights
         [Jeff Mandin]
Small Cattle
         [Jack A. Abramoff]


From: <KANOVSKY@...> (Mechael Kanovsky)
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 16:35:56 -0500
Subject: Re: Amalek

About Amalek, Rav Soloveichik zt"l in his book 5 drashot says that today
Amalek is more a concept then a certain nation. If a certain group has
on its agenda the extermination of jewish people then they become
Amalek. In the book (I guess that drasha was given sometime in the
fifties) he uses as an example Nasser and Egypt as Amalek. Most other
poskim write that since Sancherev mixed up the nations we cannot say who
exactly is Amalek.
	According to the gemara (tractate Megila) the offspring of Haman
(who was from Amalek) became heads of yeshivot in Bnei-Brak.  (mi'bnei
banav shel Haman rashei yeshivot bi'bnei-brak), I doubt that there is a
mitzva to go kill rav Shach and freinds :-) .  mechael.


From: <rya@...> (Rani Averick)
Date: 10 Dec 1993  11:56 EST
Subject: Bontshe Shveig

The discussion of Bontshe Shveig brings to mind my own experience
learning this story. As a grade-school student I was taught one ending
to the story, and as an adult I heard the real (as far as I know)
ending.  The real ending, of course, made an entire difference in the
moral of the story!  As follows:

The humble, poor, uncomplaining Bontshe was greeted with great fanfare
in heaven and was honored by the heavenly court with any request his
heart desired.

Ending 1, that I was taught as a little girl: 

  "If you please, could I possibly have a hot roll with butter?"  
   (...The End)

  The moral that went along with this ending that I remember being 
  taught was the honor of humility;  simplicity;  not to demand 
  too much;  be satisfied with your lot, etc.

Ending 2 (as far as I know, the real ending is something like this.
Correct me if I'm wrong!):

  "If you please, could I possibly have a hot roll with butter?"
  The defense attorney hung his head, the prosecutor smiled,
  and Gd turned away and cried.

P.S. I heard this second ending from Rabbi Riskin at a class at
Bravender's in Israel.  As I wrote this posting I wonder if I
misinterpreted him.  When he quoted this as the ending, he may have
meant "the ending" in quotation marks, i.e., what the real point of the
story was. Can someone who has the text of the story clarify this?



From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 93 04:13:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Bontshe Shveig

I'm afraid I don't understand the point of the story or why it's being
discussed here.  I don't reall the name of the author either (I'm sure
it's not Singer, though), but I do recall that the last line is not
the buttered roll, but the prosecuting angel laughing.

/|/-\/-\       The entire auditorium		Jerusalem
 |__/__/_/     is a very bitter signature virus.
 |warren@      But the cabbie
/ nysernet.org is not paranoid at all.

From: <WALDOKS@...> (Moshe Waldoks)
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 93 20:33:54 -0500
Subject: Re: Bontshe Shveig

I.B. Singer's "Gimpel the Fool" (his first story translated into English
by Saul Bellow in the early 1950's) is his reaction to I.L. Peretz's
"Bontshe". The latter is an example of black humor and the "retarded"
Bontshe is not portrayed as a model of how Jews should react to
adversity. "adaraba" [the opposite - Mod.]  Peretz bemoaned the
passivity of many "shtetl yidn." 

 Moshe Waldoks

From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 93 03:59:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Bontshe Shveig

Susan Slusky is mostly right but surely not a bagel mit putter,
it would be a bilkele mit putter.

__Bob Werman


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 93 23:09:30 -0500
Subject: Bontshe the Silent, The Chosen, and Young People's Reading

      Bontshe the Silent, The Chosen, and Young People's Reading

   I first read Bontshe the Silent in fifth grade, I believe.  At a
class Shabbaton in sixth grade (this is HANC in 1972) I even attempted
(unsuccesfully as I recall) to mount a play of it. I t was many years
later only in retrospect that I realized that Peretz was actually
attacking the religious Jewish perspective on suffering.  I firmly
believe that his point is that one cannot say that suffering is for our
benefit or a test, as we believe, because its only result is the
dehumanization and trivialization of human nature and aspiration, so
that all we are left with is a yearning for the minimal requirements of
existence (bread and butter is the highest pleasure Bontshe can
imagine).  In general, there is something to be said for censoring
children's reading to a certain extent. I read The Chosen around the
same time, perhaps even earlier, for the first time.  Of course, not
having yet had a firm theological grounding, I was sympathetic to the
heroes - just as Potok wanted me to be - the Malters, and hostile to the
forces which opposed them, such as of course, the Saunders.  This
relates not to their Zionism, as there is nothing pernicious or nor
unorthodox in Religious Zionism, of course, but to their Talmudic method
(which, if I recall correctly, is even more pronounced in The Promise).
It was not till years later that I realized that this was a Conservative
bias that was being subtly perpetrated on the unsuspecting, naive
reader.  You may say, so what, you (i.e., me) survived not much worse
for the wear in both these cases, but I reply, who guarantees that will
always be the case?


From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 93 20:28:34 -0500
Subject: Eclipse as an Omen

In MJ 10:42, Jack A. Abramoff <71544.2433@...> write:

> Unlike the rainbow, which is a sigh of Hashem's
> covenant with the Jewish people, Chazal (the Rabbis) have indicated that
> an eclipse of the moon is a bad omen for the Jews.  This is brought down
> in the Mechilta to Parshas Bo (second chapter) as well as in the Talmud,
> tractate Sukah 29a.  The Gemorah (talmud) cites four reasons for an
> eclipse: 1) people engaging in forgery, 2) bearing false witness, 3) the
> breeding of small cattle in Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel) and 4)
> the cutting down of fruit trees.

I find this a bit bothersome in light of the fact that with "modern"
(since the 1600's) science, we can predict with great precision eclipses
of both the moon and the sun.  Does this mean that people engage in
forgery, bearing false witness, etc., with the same clock-like
regularity as the movements of the sun and the moon?

--Robert Book


From: Cristin M Quinn <cquinn@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 19:14:53 EST
Subject: Recommended books

I wanted to recommend two fabulous books:

1. Patterns in Time, Rav Matis Weinberg (English, series--one volume per

A unique book that weaves a tapestry out of brilliant Torah insights.

 2. A Place Among the Nations, Benjamin Netanyahu.

I expected a rehash of the party line. It isn't religious, but it's


From: Jeff Mandin <jeff@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 17:51:17 -0500
Subject: Separate blessings on Hanukah lights

Zvi Basser writes:

>The custom is that at least all males, if not females too now, light
>hanuka lights separately in separate oil/candle holders and make
>separate blessings. [Text deleted - Mod.] Why should everyone make a
>separate blessing as is now the custom and not wish to fulfil the main
>commandment and its blessings with the lighting of the first candle lit
>in the house?

I heard that there is a tshuva of R. Akiva Eger on this topic - his
answer is that even though having each member of the family light is a
"hidur"(enhancement), typically each person lighting has intention not
to fulfill the mitzvah with the first lighting, and thus is able to make
a blessing.

He goes on further to state that the second family member would be able
to light his candle from the first person's Hanuka light, because the
principle of "ein madlikin mi-ner le-ner"("one cannot light from one
candle to another") applies only when the second light is a light of

Jeff Mandin


From: Jack A. Abramoff <71544.2433@...>
Date: 09 Dec 93 18:04:22 EST
Subject: Small Cattle

Mr. Neil Parks queried the reference from the Gemorah in Sukah 29a with
regard to "small cattle" (beheimah dakah).  This topic is covered
extensively in the Mishnah and Gemorah in Bava Kama 79b (as well as many
other places) and deserves a much better treatment that provided here,
however, perhaps for now, the best explanation is afforded by the Rashi
on Sukah 29a wherein he states that these are cattle which cannot be
adequately contained by their owner and, hence, wander into his
neighbor's field (presumably to do damage).

What would be of interest to me would be to hear the list members'
responses as to the connection between the four things which the Gemorah
(Sukah 29a) brings as causes of a lunar eclipse.  To remind, the
include: 1) forgery, 2) bearing false witness, 3) breeding of small
cattle and 4) the cutting down of fruit trees.  Any thoughts?

Happy Chanukah!

Jack Abramoff


End of Volume 10 Issue 58