Volume 10 Number 60
                       Produced: Mon Dec 13 17:29:53 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Divine Will
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Free Will
         [Pinchus Laufer]
G-d and Evil
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Women, Golden Calf, and Rosh Chodesh
         [Barry Siegel]


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 93 09:55:36 -0800
Subject: Re: Divine Will

>From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)

>> Hayim Hendeles writes:
>> Every Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we solemnly declare that on this day
>> it is decreed who shall live and who shall die. Understand it or not, I
>> refuse to believe that any of those who perished during the Holocaust
>> were decreed for Life on Rosh Hashana.
>I find this hard to accept. Chatam Sofer already points out that one
>cannot step in front of a bullet and say that one will survive since
>one's survival was determined on Rosh Hashana.  God does not (usually)
>perform miracles to those that put themselves in danger ...

Your point is an excellent point and well taken. However, I don't
believe it is applicable in this case. The Chasams Sofers comments would
apply to a Jew, previously in no danger, who decided to go to Auschwitz
during the War. Quite obviously, this case is irrelevant to the subject
under discussion.

In our case, the Jews' lives were already in danger, through no fault of
their own, and the only question is what action might they take to save
their lives. The fact that they did not succeed, is IMHO, indicative of
the fact that the decree on the previous Rosh Hashana was not for life r"l.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1993 18:13:02
Subject: Free Will

Hayim Hendeles, in response to Freda Birnbaum, states:

         ( much deleted text)

> Thus, asks the Ramban, the Jews enslavement in Egypt was already
> predestined long ago.  So why was Pharoh/Egypt punished - why could
> they not defend themeselves that they were merely fulfilling G-d's
> will.

> The Ramban gives several answers to this question.  One of them is
> that although G-d had already forordained a period of great tragedy
> for the Jews, G-d did not decree that it would be the Egyptians who
> persecuted the Jews.  Pharoh/Egypt decided on their own that they
> wished to kill/toture/persecute the Jews.  And for that, they are
> punished.

> Perhaps, someone else may wish to post the Ramban in more depth, along
> with his other answers.

In response: Two points are being muddled.  The Ramban rejects the
approach of " it didn't have to be the Egyptians".  However, he does
discuss the role of intent.

To elaborate:  First the Ramban points out that if there is a Divine
command to perform an act then choosing to ignore it saying in effect
" not my job - someone else can do it" is an inappropriate response.

He also demolishes this sort of apologia by reference to the destruction
of the Yerushalayim - where the Neviim were unanimous in stating by name
who (nation & general) would carrry out the destruction.  In that case
in any event Nebuchadnezar was ultimately punished.

A more lengthy (but probably less clear discussion):

  In response to Hayim Hendeles' request I will venture a free form
paraphrase/interpretation of the Ramban's commentary on Bereishis
Chapter 15 Verse 14 (VeGam es Hagoy...). No deliberate
misrepresentations are included, although others may disagree on
specific emphasis.

First let me state that the Ramban backs up each of his points by
quoting verses from Tanach.  I will not transcribe them here.
Additionally, the philosophical questions are dealt with at a finer
level than I am prepared to deal with here.  The discussion of
Nebuchadnezzar and his downfall is

  (0) Ramban first quotes this literal interpretation:  Just as the Bnei
Yisroel were judged and sent into exile, so too (VeGam) will I judge the
nation which enslaved them with regard to their evil deeds.

(1) Ramban then states "VeHanachon BeAinai (i.e., the Ramban is about to
state his view) that despite the fact that HKBH decreed that Avraham's
offspring would be "sojourners in a land not their own ..." the nation
which actually carries out the decree will be judged and will not be
absolved of guilt for their actions.

proof ramban says it is obvious that the killing of all the males does
not fall in the category of " they shall afflict them ..."

Ramban then quotes the RAMBAM as saying the reason for the punishment of
the Egyptians was because the decree did not specify the AGENT, and as
such each individual (or nation) which took part in the affliction could
have said " Not MY JOB"

(2) Ramban objects vehemently to the RAMBAM's line of reasoning,
pointing out that if there is a Mitzvah to be performed not only do we
find the person who performs it praiseworthy, the laggards who shunt the
obligation onto others are considered lacking.  (Actually much stronger
language "Chomais V'Chotai Nafsho")

Returning to his own explanation (Reason 1, above) Ramban then quotes a
Medrash Rabbah that makes this point.  His goal here is to show that he
is on firm ground and not innovating. [my slant]

   REASON 2: INTENT COUNTS - that is, the Egyptians enslaved the Bnei
Yisrael because of fear "Hava Nischakma Lo, Pen Yirbeh... V'Aleenu Min
Haaretz" (Come let us plan against him. Perchance they will become many
 ... and they will drive us out of the land) [My own free translation]

Ramban forcefully states (V'Da V'Haven - know and understand) that if a
person is decreed on Rosh Hashana to be murdered that does not absolve
the murderers from punishment. (Argument being - they just carried out
the decree.)  This acts as a point of departure for discussing actions
carried out at the behest of a prophet and the various levels ...

  The philosophical questions are dealt with at a finer level than I am
prepared to deal with here.  The discussion revolves about
Nebuchadnezzar, the prophecies which are very specific, and the fact
that he is punished in the end.

The best bet of course is to just read it.


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 93 18:11:31 -0500
Subject: G-d and Evil

Andy Jacobs wrote, regarding a posting of mine:

> In a previous posting, there were references to the Rabbi's (at the time
> of the Holocaust) beeing either RIGHT or WRONG.  In that posting, it was
> clear that a decision that resulted in longer life was considered
> "RIGHT", where one that resulted in a shorter life was considered
> "WRONG".

While I think some people approach this issue this way, I have
specifically avoided this approach because I do not believe it is
correct.  I have never assessed anyone's decision, whether to stay or
leave, because to know the future result of any alternative decision is
impossible.  I stressed this point in one of my postings.  What I have
disagreed with is the following statement: a rav (or anyone else,
for that matter) who told another person or persons that Europe (Hungary,
Poland, wherever) would be safe for Jews pre-WWII was not wrong.  My
disaggreement with this statement has nothing to do with lives lost or
saved -- it has only to do with the historical fact of Jews who were most
certainly not safe in Europe.

> In his most recent posting (as of this writing) he writes:
> > On the other hand, if one means it was G-d's will that 6 million die in a
> > more specific sense, in the sense that G-d willed or desired that 6
> > million particular individuals should meat a cruel and inhumane end -- I
> > cannot accept this understanding of G-d's will because it means that G-d
> > is evil.
> . . . For example, someone threatened to
> kill Someone1, if Someone1 didn't kill Someone2.  In this case Someone1
> is required NOT to kill Someone2, even if it means Someone1 will die.
> If Someone1 were to ask a Rabbi, the Rabbi would have to tell Someone1,
> to let themselves be killed . . . .
> In Eitan's second posting, he claims that he cannot accept a situation
> where G-d willed someone to be killed, on the grounds that it would mean
> that G-d was "evil."  With my same example, I would claim that G-d
> intended Someone1 to die.  But I would not claim that this makes G-d
> "evil."

In this example, the halachah mandates death over murder -- no, I would
not say that G-d is evil in requiring my death if I am instructed to kill
another.  But to compare this situation to the Holocaust is insulting -- no
such situation applied to the victims of Nazi murder.  Furthermore, simply
providing examples of cases in which it is G-d's will that people die and
but nevertheless G-d cannot be called evil because does not disprove my
thesis, because I never claimed that in *all* cases in which death is G-d's
will, G-d is evil -- only in a particular case (or cases).

Many people have taken issue with my statement quoted above, here and
in private postings.  I have yet to be convinced that my conclusion is
wrong.  I am convinced, as was evident in my original posting, that my
*assumption* (that G-d specifically willed the horrible murders of 6
million) was incorrect.  I find that assumption incorrect because I
believe that just as G-d mourned over the destruction of the Temple (as
chazal tell us), which was the paradigmatic tragedy of the Jewish people,
so too He mourns over our other tragedies.  For me, it is unreconcilable to
hold that G-d both willed torture and death for His people and mourned it
at the same time.  Thus, though I find it an intellectually unsatisfying
answer, I must conclude that, for reasons unfathomable to humankind, it was
G-d's will *not* to intervene in the Holocaust.  I have not interest in
speculating in the reward of such martyrs.  And I have no problem in
judging G-d -- because G-d has given me the standard with which to judge. 
G-d Himself has told us He is a G-d of justice and mercy -- "Hashem,
Hashem, keil rachuim v'chanun . . ."  I find it much more acceptable to
conclude that His testimony about His attributes is accurate and that my
understanding is limited, rather than to conclude that His testimony is
innaccurate and that, in fact, He can and does will torture and misery upon
innocents if and when He so desires.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <sieg@...> (Barry Siegel)
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 09:49 EST
Subject: Women, Golden Calf, and Rosh Chodesh

In MJ volume 10 # 49: Lawton Cooper summarized the R. Frand tape on this
subject very well. I rechecked the tape and present a little more

Just to add a few words on the R. Yissochar Frand, SHLITA, Tape quoted
above.  The tape number is Parshat VaYakhail, Series 4 and the Rosh
Chodesh part is included in the Dvar Torah concluding the tape.

Rabbi Frand stresses that the women used the mirrors in Egypt for the
express reason of beautifying themselves in order to give their husbands
strength to continue within the hardship of slavery in Egypt.  The men
did'nt want to have any more children for fear of they also being
slaves, but the Jewish women of that time recognized that eventually the
servitude of Egypt would end and that the Jewish nation must keep on
going on.

Rabbi Frand continues that after the sin of the Golden Calf the men said
that we don't want a Mishkan. [Temple in the desert] If the people had
not sinned with the golden calf them G-d's presence would be all over
the entire Israel camp, so why should G-d's presence now be confined to
the Mishkan only.  However, after the sin of the golden calf, G-d said
that I need a special place to dwell among Israel. So actually the
Mishkan did not represente a spiritual height, but a tremendous falling
down. Therefore the men did not want to donate their jewelry to the
Mishkan. However, the women gave their jewelry enthusiastically and said
Israel has to go on and carry forward.  Women have this strength to go
onward and continue on.  This is what happened with the mirrors in Egypt
and by sin of the golden calf.  This is why G-d told Moshe to use THESE
mirrors in making the Basins for the Mishkan.

So of all the Yomim Tovim [Holidays] which one should we make to
commemorate this spirit.  The answer is Rosh Chodesh, because it
represents the rebirth and renaissance of going on.  The moon becomes
smaller and smaller and you think its going away every month, yet it
comes back and gets bigger and bigger, every month.  Similarly, the men
gave up the spirit yet the women did not and noted that there is hope
for the future as represented by the moon and Rosh Chodesh. So the Women
were rewarded with the holiday of Rosh Chodesh and its "prohibitions" of
work for them.

(I saw a similar explanation in "The Book of Our Heritage, Volume 1 P.

Barry Siegel   HR 1K-120   (908)615-2928   hrmsf!sieg  OR  <sieg@...>


End of Volume 10 Issue 60