Volume 10 Number 94
                       Produced: Tue Dec 28 12:32:24 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Matthew Ian Tigger Subotnick]
Censorship and Children
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
Divine Providence in the Workplace
         [Sam Goldish]


From: Matthew Ian Tigger Subotnick <iggymoot@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1993 15:33:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Censorship

There has been much discussion recently about the validity of censoring 
information or study of other religions.

If you believe that it is the duty of a jew to study, to learn, to enrich 
our minds and souls in order to come closer to hashem, then the idea of 
censorship should be distasteful to you.

More importantly, in a modern, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic world, 
how can we not strive to learn as much as we can about our neighbors, in 
order that we can live in harmony, and peace?

It is not the policy of judaism to recruit, though we believe that we 
have a covenant with hashem, and that if we abide by this covenenat then 
we shall see a great miracle when the mashiach comes, a time of great joy 
and happiness, we as a culture and religion do not have the gall to 
assume that we are any better or worse than our fellow brothers and 
sisters. This is not our way.

Isn't, excepting history and inbred racial intolerance, the whole reason 
jews have been persecuted for so long, that there was the holocaust, that 
there is daily bloodshed in our homeland, isn't the primary reason a lack 
of understanding and a will to live in peace with those who are different 
than us?

Hashem does not teach us through the torah, and talmud alone. Nor do our 
personal actions define what we are as jews. We have to take lessons 
anywhere we can find them, and try to learn. and grow.

There is a noble beauty in the buddhist goal of achieving enlightenment 
and trying to gain a holistic understanding of what they believe hashem 
to be. Or the hindu belief in non-violence to the point that the thought 
of eating meat is distateful to them. Even mainstram commercial 
Christianity has valuable lessons to teach jewish children, (mind you 
they only echo teachings that you learn every shabbat), these are the 
belief that community and family are important, that there is a good 
reason and purpose in fulfilling your spiritual needs. So they believe 
the mashiach has come and that jesus is his name, can we convince them 
otherwise? No. should we? Why, if we can instead focus our energies on 
living harmoniously together.

Just because one is born jewish does not mean that they will 
automatically take the tanach to heart and follow all the mitvoth. One 
has to choose to practice. and ususally, "forcefeeding" religion to 
modern youth has a negative effect. How much more pleasant it is to grow 
together, to study our rich heritage, and those of other cultures and 
religions so that when the time for bar or bat mitzvah comes, we can see 
what a wonderful tradition it is. And why we can take pride in it.

This may sound a bit modern, but in light of history, and on the dawn of 
peace in Israel, it seems the right and good path to follow.


Matthew Subotnick
<iggymoot@...>  Public Access User --- Not affiliated with TECHbooks
Public Access UNIX and Internet at (503) 220-0636 (1200/2400, N81)


From: <VISWANATH@...> (Meylekh Viswanath)
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 13:31:40 -0500
Subject: Censorship and Children

Uri Meth and Avi Laster responded to a recent posting of mine on the
subject of MJers censoring knowledge of christianity from their children.  
I had said in my original posting:

>I remember other postings where attempts were made to keep 
>children from knowledge about christianity.  I was surprised then, 
>and I am surprised now, that this should be considered desirable 
>among m.j. readers.  The existence of christianity and christians in 
>the world in which we live is undeniable; it permeates literature, 
>music, and other disciplines, such as e.g. history.  How could it be 
>desirable to keep children ignorant of these things?  Rather, I would 
>think it is better to inform and _explain_ to our kids what these 
>things are; that they are not shayekh [relevent - Mod.] to us. 

It is unfortunate that I chose to make my remarks in the context of
Najman Kahana's account of his unwitting rental of a Pinocchio video
with christian content.  I did not mean to suggest that we should all go
out and rent the Pinocchio video or read from the new testament to our
children instead of a bedtime story.

I was responding more to the tone of several postings (including, it
seemed to me at the time, the Kahana posting--but I apologise if I
misread the intent of Najman's posting) where active efforts were made
to shield children from knowledge of christianity.  A typical example of
the kind of action that I am referring to, is the case of the poster who
explained to his kid that Santa Claus was "Fred."  The converse of this
is not taking children to Rockafellar Center to view the christmas tree,
as Avi Laster suggests:

>However, I don't have to take them on a trip to New York City to 
>view the X-mas tree in Rockafeller Center and to Lincoln Center to 
>view "The Nutcracker" in order to give them this knowledge.

Rather, it is explaining that who Santa Claus is, in whatever terms the
parent deems appropriate, without the use of untrue statements.

Uri Meth says:

>(Children) are are very impressionable.  A child who is brought up 
>in a religion and is also bombarded with ideas of other religions can 
>become very confused and lose his way.

I agree with Uri.  That's why I think it is appropriate that children
learn about these things from an appropriate source (rather than from
some other uncontrolled source).

Uri adds:

>Are we any different from parents in the Charaidi (hassidic) 
>community who mold their children they way they see fit.   

I believe we are not different from the khasidic community in that we
try to mold our children the way we see fit.  But I think we do differ
from the khasidic community in the nature of the molding.  I think there
is a definite difference between most MJers and most khasidim in terms
of the breadth of knowledge that is considered desirable for a Jew to

Similarly, I am in agreement with Avi Laster when he says:

>Assuming exposure to the secular cultural disciplines you mention 
>is permissible/desirable it certainly can be accomplished with some 
>careful research and selectivity.  One can provide children, or 
>oneself, with exposure to examples of all of the above which are 
>not inundated with Christian content.

However, I am not sure of the relevance of another of his statements:

I'm sure there are those people out there who could provide you with
Halachic precedent showing the undesirability of Jewish people indulging
in secular cultural activities and information.

First of all, one should not confuse indulging in secular cultural
activities on the one hand, and secular information, on the other.
Second, I'm sure that even if there is halakhic precedent showing the
undesirability of Jews acquiring secular information, there's halakhic
precedent showing the converse as well.

I understand that MJers are not all homogenous.  However, that is no
reason why one should not present one's point of view and seek to
convince others of it.  In this case, I presumed a commitment to a
certain breadth of knowledge and suggested that certain kinds of
censorship went counter to it.

Meylekh Viswanath (<viswanath@...>)


From: Sam Goldish <0005891269@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 19:41:04 -0500
Subject: Divine Providence in the Workplace

Two topics of discussion in M-J/Volume 10--Davening in the 
Workplace, and Divine Providence--taken together, evoked memories 
of a bizarre incident that took place the U.S. Government Office 
Building here in Tulsa, where I worked, and which I would like to 
share with our readers.

For twenty years, prior to my retirement, I was an engineer with 
a branch of DoD known as "Defense Contracts Administration 
Services"--DCAS, for short.  We dealt on a daily basis with 
defense contractors in our area who had been awarded Army, Navy, 
or Air Force contracts.  Out of approximately 90 people in our 
Tulsa area office, I was the only Jewish employee, as well as the 
only engineer in the group.

By way of explanation as to how such a weird event could have 
transpired in a Government workplace, let me preface my narrative 
by reminding our readers that Oklahoma is in the heart of the so-
called "Bible Belt."  For example, Tulsa is the home of Oral 
Roberts University, with its spectacular campus.  (My nephew, now 
a musmach of Ner Israel Yeshiva, once commented, as I drove him 
past ORU on a sightseeing tour of Tulsa, "You know, Uncle Sam, 
this is a 'yeshiva' for the goyim!").

Circa 1975, a Tulsa defense contractor received a sizeable 
contract to design and produce U.S. Army tank driver trainers, 
for delivery to the Israeli Defense Forces.  Because of U.S. 
State Department and congressional involvement, this contract had 
a lot of visibility in top DoD echelons, and special monthly 
meetings had to be scheduled in our office to review the 
contractor's progress and report on any problem areas.

During one such meeting, about a dozen DCAS representatives and I 
were huddled around a conference table, reviewing a stack of 
modifications requested by the Israeli Army.  As I leaned over 
the table, our office manager sidled over to me and whispered: 
"Sam, there's a long white thread hanging down from your belt.  
Let me remove it for you."  Not realizing what it was, I replied, 
"O.K., thanks."  As he tugged on the "thread," I soon realized he 
was pulling out the tzitzis of my arba-kanfos.  "Sam, what in the 
world is THIS?" he exclaimed, in a puzzled tone.  I quietly 
replied, "It's a religious garment.  Let it go.  I'll take care 
of it." 

By then, I could sense that the meeting had already been more 
than a little distracted by the exchange; I felt all eyes 
focussed on me as I tucked my tzitzis back in place.   "O.K.," I 
said, "Let's get back to the design changes."   But, obviously, 
it was already too late.

An industrial specialist named Lorene immediately spoke up: "Sam, 
I heard you say those threads are part of a 'religious garment.'  
How does that fit into the Jewish religion?"  I replied--as 
subdued as possible--"Lorene, it's a commandment in the Bible.  
We can discuss it after the meeting."

No way!  Drawing herself up to her full imposing stature, Lorene 
addressed the entire assemblage:  "My father was a Baptist 
minister.  I was raised in the church.  I used to sleep on the 
church pews.  I know the Bible forward and backward, and I don't 
recall ever seeing any commandment to wear that garment.  Sam 
will have to cite book, chapter and verse to prove that to me."
There really was no malice in Lorene's statement--she simply 
wanted "proof," and she wanted it now.

Before I could divert attention back to the meeting, another 
specialist, Paul, chimed in: "I've got a bible in my desk.  Let 
me get it, and maybe Sam can show us where that commandment is."  
In less than a minute, Paul returned with his bible--a huge KJV 
edition--and placed it before me on the conference table.  I felt 
a rush of panic (as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, it was the 
"moment of truth").  All eyes now were fixed on me, awaiting the 
next move.

I know the tzitzis mitzvah is in the Maftir "aliyah" of Parshat 
Shelach Lechah, but the KJV bible doesn't go by "parshas"--only 
by chapter and verse.  I had visions of having to scan page after 
page of "The Book of Numbers," trying to pinpoint the exact 
location.  There was no way that I could gracefully back out of 
the corner into which I had so unexpectedly been thrust.  The 
room was hushed with anticipation.

Standing before the bible, I placed my thumb firmly on the edge 
of the book and opened it.  Instantly, before my eyes, appeared 
one word: "fringes."  I felt a wave of exultation pass through my 
body.  "Here it is," I said, trying to maintain a semblance of 
nonchalance, "Book of Numbers, Chapter 15, Verses 37 through 41."

Lorene, visibly taken aback, walked over to the open bible.  I 
pointed to the verses, and she read them aloud for all to hear.  
"Well, I guess that's one chapter I missed," she said.  "But, 
Sam, how in the world were you able to open the bible to the 
exact page you wanted?"

I replied: "You might call it 'Divine Providence.'"

Sam Goldish


End of Volume 10 Issue 94