Volume 10 Number 80
                       Produced: Thu Dec 23 10:53:33 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jack A. Abramoff]
Chanukah as a "beloved mitzvah"
         [Mike Gerver]
         [Harry Weiss]
Rav Hirshfeld's Letter to JO (2)
         [Shaya Karlinsky, Yisroel Silberstein]
         [Aharon Fischman]


From: Jack A. Abramoff <71544.2433@...>
Date: 23 Dec 93 01:22:46 EST
Subject: Censorship

With regard to the discussion about the video entitled "Pinochio and the
Vampires", I would like to make the following observations.

With no disrespect intended to a fellow parent concerned with what our
children are viewing, I find it difficult to see how anyone could see the
title "Pinochio and the Vampires" and not be alarmed.   While I do not
want to be seen as attacking all "family" entertainment (I am actually a
feature length motion picture producer), anyone who feels an urge to rent
this video (especially if that person is a religious Jewish parent) needs
to remember several things:

1.	The central and oft repeated message of the Disney Pinochio motion
picture is "let your conscience be your guide".  This notion is directly
opposed to our credo: let the Torah be your guide.  If we convey to our
children that the notion of letting one's conscious be one's guide is
proper, we are undoing a central tenent of our faith.  

2.	If the word "Pinochio" did not chase one away, the word
"Vampires" should have.  I state this on two levels.  First, vampires are
hardly the things that make for sweet dreams for children.  Second, and
more important to us, the whole vampire concept (Dracula and the like)
has its roots in anti-Semitism.  Dracula dressed in black, was
mysterious, was involved in night time activity, drank blood, etc.  The
Jew (to the European mentality) was dressed in black, mysterious, accused
of night time activity (this has been a constant accusation; for example,
one of the reasons that a bris takes place during the daytime is to
dispell the notion that it is some magical nighttime ceremony; I know,
there are many other reasons as well) and drinking blood relates to the
blood libel of which we were accused for centuries.  Dracula was also
wealthy.  There is some material on this which I do not have at hand, but
there is no question that the vampire notion finds its roots in this type
of thinking.

I guess the point of this is that one has to be very careful about what
one's children see.  We cannot assume that anything which is produced for
mass entertainment is appropriate for our children.  Take it from me.  I
work with these folks on a daily basis and they are not from our world.
 This is not to say that there is nothing appropriate for our children
(though filmed entertainment does dull the senses, creating little
zombies)  Actually there are quite a few nice shows and films, but
Pinochio and the Vampires cannot possibly be one of them.  

Jack Abramoff


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 1993 2:13:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Chanukah as a "beloved mitzvah"

I very much enjoyed Shaya Karlinsky's drasha in v10n50, explaining why
Chanukah is "an extremely beloved mitzvah." A closely related point,
which he did not explicitly mention, is that Chanukah is one of the last
mitzvot abandoned by assimilating Jews. Having a seder on Pesach also
fits that description, but lighting Chanukah lights is unique in that it
is not only widely observed by Jews who observe little else, but is
observed "l'mihadrin min ha-mihadrin", in the strictest most complete
way, by lighting one additional light each night, rather than the
halachic minimum of only one light each night. This has some personal
meaning for me in my own family history.

My maternal grandmother a"h rebelled against her Orthodox upbringing,
became a socialist, and my grandfather a"h had never had any exposure to
Orthodoxy because his parents had rebelled and become socialists before
he was born.  Although they always considered themselves Jewish and were
proud of it, there was very little of a ritual nature done in my
mother's home when she was growing up in the 1930s, except for going to
my grandmother's parents for seders. Certainly they did not light
Chanukah lights.

In 1947, after my parents were married but before they had any children,
the attitude toward religious observance in the Jewish world was very
different than it is now. Becoming more observant was not considered
fashionable, it was considered weird. Look magazine could plausibly run
a cover story (in 1952) predicting that American Jews would soon
disappear from assimilation. The majority of kosher butchers in Boston,
and presumably elsewhere in America, did not personally keep kosher,
according to a talk by the Bostoner Rebbe last Shabbat. By all
appearances, the home I grew up in should have been even less observant
than my mother's childhood home.

But that didn't happen. Why? Because my grandmother, seeing the recent
events in Europe, realized that she couldn't take for granted that there
would always be Jews out there to continue the traditions she had grown
up with. She may have rebelled against those traditions in her youth,
but she didn't want them to disappear. This is not to say that she
suddenly became a ba'alat tshuva; remember, she was 53 and living in
1947, not 21 and living in the 1970s. But she did go out and buy a
Chanukah menorah, gave it to my parents as a gift, and told them why she
wanted them to use it. Her reasons made sense to my parents, and we
always lit Chanukah lights when I was growing up, and had seders,
although not much else. But the decline in observance for the previous
two or three generations was halted, and even reversed to a small

I am always amazed, and very grateful, when I think of how my
grandmother, in complete contradiction to both her own past history and
the trends in society, was able to see what needed to be done, and gave
my parents that Chanukah menorah. But of course, Chanukah is "an
extremely beloved mitzvah."

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Harry Weiss <73132.2266@...>
Date: 18 Dec 93 23:26:04 EST
Subject: Gedolim

During the considerable discussion that occurred during the past few
weeks on the subjects of Gedolim I have been troubled by the assumption
that seems to be made that being a Great Talmid Chacham automatically
qualifies one as a Gadol.

There is a Professor at Hebrew Union College who is a great Torah
scholar.  Of course, his teaching at the Reform Seminary (even though he
is personally frum), would preclude him from being considered a Gadol.

There have been people in recent times who every one in the religious
community would agree is a Gadol.  Even those who disagreed with the
Piskei Halacha of Reb. Moshe Zt'l (such as the Satmar Rebbe) would agree
that he was definitely a Gadol in all respects.

The problem is where we have great scholars who do not meet this
universal acceptance criteria.  For many of these individuals, the
reasons that they are not accepted are the same reasons, their views
cannot be considered to be Daas Torah.

The two individuals discussed recently in this list are examples of the
above.  Rabbi Schach Shlita is a great Talmid Chacham.  His novellae on
Talmudic issues are wonderful.  However, in addition to the philosophic
problems with many of his views that have been discussed in length on
MJ, we cannot forget the vicious attacks that Rabbi Schach made against
the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita.  It was his animosity to a man who many
consider the Gadol Hador that caused him to split from Agudah and found
the Degel Hatorah Party.

Rabbi Yosef Shlita is considered the major Posek for the Sephardic
community.  No one can question his knowledge in sphere of Halacha.  I
cannot understand how he can stand by quietly with all the corruption
that is occurring among leader of his Shas party which is creating a
major Chilul Hashem in Israel.

Before one can be considered a Gadol and have their "extra- Halachic"
opinions be considered Daas Torah, one must be beyond reproach in all



From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1993 16:58 IST
Subject: Rav Hirshfeld's Letter to JO

     I guess I didn't expect Rabbi Hirshfeld's letter to Rabbi Wolpin of
the JO to generate quite the response it did from the Mail.Jewish
audience (MJ 10/71).  Providing a little more background to the letter
may have been in order, though I am sure that many will still disagree
with what Rabbi Hirshfeld wrote.
     But it should be noted that Rabbi Hirshfeld was commenting on an
ongoing interchange that had been taking place between Talmidim of the
Rav (RW ones, in his terminology) and the JO.  Most of the quotes, as
well as descriptions of the LW Talmidim which may have justifiably
disturbed M-J readers/writers, came from these interchanges and were the
words of the Rav's talmidim, either in public articles in various media,
or in correspondence with the JO and/or other publications.  It was in
this context that Rabbi Hirshfeld wrote what he wrote to the JO, and it
should be understood in that context.  I thought it presented a
perspective of a machlokes (hopefully l'shaim shamaim) between different
interpreters of the Rav's legacy. I hope it wasn't a mistake on my part
to distribute it publicly.
     Reading for myself the interchanges between the various groups of
the Rav's talmidim, and speaking to talmidei chachamim who learned with
the Rav for many years, it got me thinking.  While the Charedi world has
been shown to be guilty of trying to rewrite history (something that has
been well documented in a number of postings), I am not sure that they
have a monopoly on this problem.

     There was one glaring mistake on MY part which seems to have
contributed to some justifiable reaction.  I would like to correct the
mistaken impression given caused by MY ambiguous translation of a Hebrew
phrase, "ketabachut v'rakachut."  This phrase was not Rabbi Hirshfeld's,
but quoted by one of the Rav's long-time Talmidim.  David Green
correctly "jumped" on the wrong impression given by my parenthetic
translation.  (I guess I should have left it to our able moderator to do
a better job than I did.)

>ke'tubachut ve'rakachut (as professional skills)?"  There is no
>doubt but that the Rav encouraged secular learning for other
>reasons than simple professional skills.  A plumber or electrician
>will make more than most PHD's.  Nonetheless to paraphrase Rabbi
>Shrader (One of the Rabaium at Brovenders) "I never once heard him
>discourage someone from getting his PHD. This belief in secular
>knowledge is very much evident throughout his own writings, and is
>impossible to pass off.  The Rav was a gentle marbitz of torah, who
>believed in secular knowledge outside of making a living.
     I (and I am sure Rabbi Hirshfeld) agree that this was the Rav's
hashkafa (as well as both of ours, I might add).  The phrase "ktabachut
v'rakchut" was used by the original writer to mean that the Rav viewed
secular knowledge not as a value _in and of itself_, for its own sake,
but of importance because through it one increased ones understanding of
Torah; as well as giving one a better understanding of the world in
which we live, bringing one to a deeper and more sophisticated
appreciation and understanding of G-d.  This was independent of any
study for a parnassa.
     Any implication that the Rav thought differently was completely

From: yeti!<isrsil@...> (Yisroel Silberstein)
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 11:13:56 -0500
Subject: Rav Hirshfeld's Letter to JO

The Shaya Karlinsky - Hirschfeld article made for some good
science-fiction reading.  Here is my synopsis of Karlinsky, Hischfeld Et
Al. :

The Rov had not made his position clear all the years; Y.U. is in
disarray and in conflict; who will get the Rov's neshama ? Will it be
Rabbis Tendler & Genack [ The Good Rabbis ] , or will his soul fall to
the Sitra Achra ???? I.E. the likes of Norman Lamm or Emanuel Rackman.
Oh oh, it looks like it's going to Norman Lamm and Rackman !!! But Wait
!!!!!  There is one way he can yet be saved !!!!!!!  If Nisson Wolpin
can say he was really a good jew in the Jewish Observer there may yet be
hope !!! Oh No !!  Nisson Wolpin can't get beyond a " zichrono livrocho
" after his name. Well then, that seals it. Rabbis Tendler and the other
good rabbis are abandoned of their last hope. It just was not meant to
	My only take on the J.O article was if you have nothing nice to say
don't say anything. 
					Yisroel Silberstein


From: <afischma@...> (Aharon Fischman)
Date: 14 Dec 93 17:35:05 GMT
Subject: The RAV

In MJ 10-63 Rabbi Yitzchak Hirshfeld is quoted as saying
>"Shnayim ochazim b'Reb Yosef Dov."  Two are clutching Reb Yosef Dov,
>each claiming "He is mine."

Must we be so divisive? Maybe part of the Gadlut (greatness) of the RAV
is not just in his immense prowess in Halacha (Torah Law) and for those
to whom it is important his intellectual abilities, but rather that his
greatness superseded any petty (or not so petty) fractional differences
in Judaism. His desire to strive for Emmet (truth) transcended the
politics that surrounds Orthodoxy today. Proof of this is in the fact
that two opposing groups each claim him to be his own the RW (right wing
as Rav Hirshfeld calls it) and the LW (left wing). Why must we now force
the Rav to play sides in an area that he rarely delved into (My rebbe
included)? Can't we all agree that a tremendous loss to Torah has
occurred, that both 'sides' are much worse off because of it, and that
to try to make a larger rift is really not going to help Yehadut in the
long run. IMHO, I don't think _emmet_ would stand for it.

Aharon Fischman
Yeshiva University (SSSB) Class of '93
<afischman@...> -or- fischman@yu1.yu.edu


End of Volume 10 Issue 80