Volume 10 Number 87
                       Produced: Sun Dec 26 22:37:56 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Fraternity" in Sydney, Australia
         [Jonathan Goldstein]
Approaches to Authority
         [Jeff Mandin]
Codes Research
         [Marc Shapiro]
Discovery and Torah codes
         [Goldberg Moshe]
Maoz Tzur Verse
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Polemic versus reasoned discourse
         [Robert J. Tanenbaum]
The problem of evil
         [Jonathan Mark]


From: <Jonathan.Goldstein@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 93 23:19:35 -0500
Subject: "Fraternity" in Sydney, Australia

The "Fraternity" is a group of young Jewish men in Sydney, Australia, who are 
committed to learning and living a Torah-true life.

In many cases an individual who has done some serious learning in Israel or 
elsewhere returns to his family in Sydney and cannot maintain the level of 
observance and committment to learning that was reached whilst away from home.

The problems arising due to differing attitudes of the baal tshuva and his 
family and non-frumm friends usually cause a gradual loss of direction, often 
resulting in a complete re-absorption into the non-frumm world.

The most difficult aspect of a return to home is dealing with the lack of 
common interest amongst family and friends. Recognising this, the Chabad 
Yeshiva Centre in Bondi, Sydney, on the initiative of Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein, 
has generously provided a residence for young single Jewish men.

Here several people live and learn together in an atmosphere that closely 
resembles that found in a residential yeshiva for baale tshuva. Classes are 
held on a regular basis, attended by both residents and other men who are 
interested in learning. Although Chabad funds this project, adherence to 
Chabad philosophy is not a pre-requisite for involvement.

The aim is not to dissociate oneself completely from family and friends, but 
rather to continue the learning process in a way that brings family and 
friends closer together, ultimately resulting in the growth of Yiddishkeit 
throughout the wider community.

All young Jewish men who are either returning to or visiting Sydney are urged 
to contact the Fraternity to ask about learning programmes and the possibility 
of becoming a resident.

telephone: Rabbi David Slavin at the Yeshiva Centre, +61 2 387 3822
email:     Jonathan Goldstein, <Jonathan.Goldstein@...>

Jonathan Goldstein       <Jonathan.Goldstein@...>       +61 2 339 3683


From: Jeff Mandin <jeff@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 19:20:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Approaches to Authority

Frank Silbermann writes:

>We expect halachic debate to follow the academic model --- reasoned
>discourse between scholars of varying degrees of accomplishment, where,
>in the frenetic competition to be heard, we give higher priority to
>hearing those with a reputation for clear thinking.  This is how _we_
>interpret "listening to our sages."  Though we take special effort to
>listen to a sage's words, his words are expected to stand on their own
>Those with a more authoritarian mentality believe the sage's authority
>eminates not from soundness of his arguments but from his very
>personhood.  They consider it outrageous for a low-status person to
>challenge the reasoning of a high-status person, just as we would resent
>being corrected by our children in public.

I think you've succinctly described an essential difference of approach.

One time I was telling a kollelnik that I found learning a particular 
Hasidic book on the Torah different from learning one like the Meshech 
Chochma because w/ the Hasidic one you basically just have to take his 
word for what he's saying(eg. that a letter yud hints to ten levels
of something - as opposed to an argument that can be understood and
evaluated).  I was a little surprised by his unsympathetic reaction.

Jeff Mandin


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 93 15:12:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Codes Research

A few weeks ago I posted a question to the practitioners of the codes. I
noted that advanced codes had been found in other literatures and not only
in the Torah (By the way, I am sure the same codes found in the Torah
could be found in Nach). I also raised the most important issue, namely,
that of the history of the Biblical text. Apparently, the codes people
believe that our Torah is the exact same as that of Moses, R. Akiva, Rashi
etc. etc. Since this is not true, I wanted someone to explain the basis of
the codes. I still plan on waiting a few weeks to see if there is any
response before I give my conclusion and explain why, in my opinion, even
though the codes are a fraud I do not have any problem using them in
Discovery like seminars. This is in opposition to the opinion of my friend
Prof. Leiman who told me that the codes are dangerous. He also told me
that some missionaries have found codes saying Jewus is God. 
	I have received a number private letters asking me to elaborate
on my second point, but due to time constraints, I have not been able to
reply to everyone. Please accept my apologies. Since some people asked
me for examples of what I have referred to, I shall give one (others
have pointed to Rashi examples. Furthermore, with the recently published
book of Jordan Penkower, we now know that Maimonides' Torah text was
identical to that of the Yemenite text currently in use. Thus, if you
take Maimonides literally, we are all heretics for we do not accept his
version of the Pentateuch as the authentic Mosaic pentateuch.
 	The example I shall pick is one which was somewhat controversial
a few hundred years ago. If you look at the last page of Abulafia's
Masoret Seyag la-Torah you will find a question about how to write the
word Aharon in Ex. 29: 15. Some say it is written with a vav and some
say without. Now obviously, all of the codes in this part of the Torah
depend on how this dispute is answered. We have chosen to write it
without a vav but who says we are right? (In truth, even if we had
chosen to write it with a vav, the codes would not have been
fundamentally affected.  The computers would have come up with just as
many other codes that agreed with this form.)
	To everyone who has written me with quotes from their LOR, I am
not sure how to respond except to say that I now am convinced that in
addition to Yoreh Deah, Hilkhot Shabbat etc. rabbis should also be
trained in Masoretic matters. Everything that I have been told in the
name of LOR is incorrect. We are not talking about theology but about
facts that can be established empirically.
						Marc Shapiro 


From: <vamosh@...> (Goldberg Moshe)
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 19:08:16 -0500
Subject: Discovery and Torah codes

>> From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
>>      Personally, I don't think it is healthy or stable for someone to
>> base their belief in G-d, Torah, and/or Judaism on the codes.  The
>> central role they (used to?) play in Discovery Seminars always made me
>> uncomfortable.  On the other hand, I have always been surprised by the
>> "knee-jerk" reaction of those who maintain that these "codes" couldn't
>> possibly be there, or could not have any siginificance if they were
>> there.

Yes, the codes are still playing a central role in the Discovery seminar, at
least in the way it's advertised.  In a flyer about a seminar to be 
presented on Long Island on Sunday Dec 19, there are two prominent topics:
(1) Codes research
(2) "FAILSAFE -- a series of workshops which employ the techniques of the 
    Israeli Mossad to explore the Torah's origin."
Does this suggest a carnival atmosphere? Does anybody have more information
about this (new?) subject, FAILSAFE?  Is there any doubt that the "Israeli
Mossad's techniques" will demonstrate the divine origin of the Torah?

I get the feeling that part of the reaction to the codes research is connected
with how they seem to be intimately connected with Discovery.  And, the two
conflicting claims I sometimes sense about the way the seminars are
 *  Ask if the codes are supposed to convince someone to return to Mitzvot
    and you are told something like "Of course not, it's just interesting
 *  If you read the Discovery brochures, however, they seem to be saying 
    that they will convince you if you are not already enlightened.


From: Aryeh Blaut <ny000592@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 93 23:55:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Maoz Tzur Verse

The ART SCROLL SIDDUR has as part of its commentary on the last stanza:

	""Bare Your holy arm".  This final stanza is generally regarded
to be a later addition (about 1500) by a different author.  The initial
letters of the first three words form the acrostic "HaZaK" (be strong).
Since it contains a strong plea for Divine vengeance against Israel's
foes, this stanza was subject to much censorship by Christian
authorities.  Accordingly some siddurim have replaced certain stiches
with others less offensive to the censors.  The Red One refers to
Eisav/Edom, whose descendants brought the current exile.  The seven
shepherds (Michah 5:4) who will conquer Israel's oppressors are David,
Adam, Seth, Methuselah, Abraham, Jacob, & Moses. (Succah 52b)."

Aryeh Blaut


From: <btanenb@...> (Robert J. Tanenbaum)
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 10:05:14 EST
Subject: Re: Polemic versus reasoned discourse

Frank Silbermann writes:

> The Orthodox Jewish media, particularly the right wing Orthodox media,
> frequently speaks to us as though we were children --- polemics which
> shout out overstated positions, politically correct censorship,
> scolding.

Many years ago I used to read "The Jewish Press" on Shabbos and absorbed
their angry intolerant tone and felt angry until it wore off by Thursday.
When they started an editorial barrage against Rav Goren for suggesting
that there was an area on the Temple Mount which was outside the
restricted area and suitable for a Beit Kenesset -- that's when I decided
they were going too far and gave up the paper totally.

Since then, my Shabboses are much more peaceful and more filled with the
joy of Torah.  Any so-called Torah oriented paper which doesn't allow
for "elu v'elu divrai elokim chaim" [ this and this are both the words of
the Living G-d ] and goes into character assasination of leading Rabbanim
and refuses to acknowledge that halachic discourse should be open and
unprejudiced is not only guilty of enormous conceit but is presenting a
very distorted and illigitimate approach to Torah study and Halachic practice.

The simple answer for me was to stop buying the paper. The principle of
"know thy enemy" was not strong enough for me to buy "The Jewish Press"
to see what the dogmatists were raving about this week.

Peace to all.
Here's wishing everyone a prosperous new tax year.

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum	1016 Central Ave	Highland Park, NJ 08904
home: (908)819-7533	work: (212)450-5735
email: <btanenb@...>


From: <jsmark@...> (Jonathan Mark)
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 93 09:31:33 -0500
Subject: The problem of evil

Frank Silbermann writes (12-13-93):

>It is said that G-d cannot do a logical impossibility (e.g. to create a
>stone so heavy that G-d could not lift it).  Maybe stopping the
>Holocaust would have been inconsistent with the continued existence of
>the universe.  Who can imagine what might have been at stake?...Perhaps
>we would have to enroll in Universe Engineering 101 to understand the

    I think this is what the book of Job means when it says (Job 11:7):
"Canst thou find out the deep things of God?  Canst thou find out the
purpose of the Almighty?  It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?"
    However, Frank Silbermann's comment leads to the following question.
Did God create logic?  If so, how can God be bound by it?  If not, and
the universe flows from logic, then how could God be the creator of the
    Moreover, if the Holocaust and the continued existence of the
universe were hypothetically logically related, then could God have
created some other logic whereby everything would be exactly the same
but the six million Jews would not have been killed?

                                                         Jonathan Mark


End of Volume 10 Issue 87