Volume 10 Number 99
                       Produced: Wed Dec 29 21:09:37 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Morris Podolak]
How to determine if Mormonism is Avoda Zarah
         [Sigrid Peterson]
Lo Tasur
         [Eli Turkel]
Mesorah and the Codes/ Reb Levi Yitzchak
         [Daniel A. Yolkut]
visit to Israel
         [Harold Gellis]
Yemenite vs (Ashkenazi and Sefardi) Torah Text
         [Marc Shapiro]


From: Morris Podolak <morris@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 93 03:52:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Gedolim

 First of all, I found Yosef Bechhofer's "test" for gadlus very
interesting.  I don't know if Yosef had the same thing in mind when he

> Practical example of the Oversimplified Test: Both the Lubavitcher Rebbe
> and Rav Shach are Gedolim, but your average LOR is not (sorry!).

but I always worry when people ask their LOR.  On standard issues this
is certainly the correct procedure.  There are nonstandard issues,
however, such as agunot, where an LOR is simply a starting point, and
the issue is passed on to a posek who makes the final decision.

I have a question about the application of Yosef's test, however.  Let
us agree that Rav Schach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe both pass the test.
Then both are gedolim, and their opinions represent the opinion of the
Torah.  From what I have read in the papers, I get the distinct
impression that Rav Schach does not view the Lubavitcher Rebbe as a
gadol.  Now since Rav Schach is himself a gadol by Yosef's test, then he
must be correct in his view of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  And yet we all
agree that by Yosef's test the Lubavitcher is a gadol.  It seems the
test is not completely self consistent.  Or am I missing something?

Larry Weisberg writes:

> The topic of "picking" your Gadol Hador reminds of a somewhat similar
> conflict that some have regarding which Sefer Halacha to use.  Most
> Yeshiva Bochrim learn Mishneh Brurah (M.B.), and always follow the
> M.B.  Rav Lichtenstein many times told his students that they should
> study the Aruch Hashulchan (A.H.), since it gives a much better
> overview and background to any Halachic discussion.  Someone asked,
> but shouldn't we learn M.B. so that we know what to do (i.e., to find
> the definitive Psak)?  Rav Lichtenstein responded, "I never gave
> either (M.B. & A.H.) a Bechinah in order to know who was the bigger
> Gadol."

I would just like to point out something I saw in the responsa "Bnei
Banim" by Rav Yehudah Henkin.  He quotes his grandfather Rav Eliyahu
Henkin ztz"l a renowned posek and certainly one of the gedolim of his
generation who said that when there is a dispute between the Mishna
Berura and the Aruch Hashulchan on some matter, and both give good
reasons for their points of view, one should follow the Aruch
Hashulchan, since he was more "charif" (sharper).



From: <petersig@...> (Sigrid Peterson)
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 23:10:12 -0500
Subject: How to determine if Mormonism is Avoda Zarah

> From: Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...>

	[...][Orthodox patronage of Mormons - examples deleted]
> 	I think that, perhaps, the time to "talk" is over, and the time
> to get clear Psakim has come.

This raises the question to me of how a posek would determine whether
Mormonism is Avoda Zara--I assume that would be the she'ela. I'm not
aware of orthodox poskim with intimate knowledge of Mormonism. Would
such knowledge be necessary to determine whether AZ halakha should be
followed? I will shortly be writing a Religious Studies paper about
Mormonism as an independent world religion, and am interested in the way
in which she'ela (question) and tshuva (responsa) are formulated, and
the halakhic bases for making a determination.

Sigrid Peterson  UPenn <petersig@...>


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 93 23:12:06 +0200
Subject: Lo Tasur

      Shaul Wallach asks about the prohibition of "Lo Tasur".
This is discussed in my article and also by Yonasan Sacks in the 
recent Tradition. Basically there are three possibilities.
1. Lo Tasur applies only to the Great Sanhedrin while it was in the 
   Temple. (possibly the Rambam)
2. Lo Tasur applies to the Great Sanhedrin as long as it lasted,
   about 300-400 years after the destruction of the Temple.
   (seems to be the majority position).
3. Lo Tasur applies throughout the ages (Chinuch).

    It seems to me that even the Chinuch would agree that today it would
only apply to a community that had a well defined Bet-Din or Rav they
follow. Thus, for example, Sefardim are not required to follow decrees
of the Ashenazim, e.g. on polygamy by Rabbenu Gershon and not eating
kitniyot on Pesach.
    It is not even clear why Amoraim in the Talmud never disagree with
Tannaim. Two main possibilities have been advanced. Either that the
Mishna was compiled by Rebbe and his sanhedrin and so Lo Tasur does
apply (Rashi and expanded by Mahartz Chayot) or else that the Amoraim
could have legally disagreed but chose not to because they felt they
were not on their level (I heard in the name of Chazon Ish).  Similarly,
there is a discussion why we don't disagree with statements in the
Talmud. Rambam and Kesef Mishne explain that there was a general
agreement among all the Sages not to disagree with the talmud and this
agreement is binding on future generations. Tosaphot YomTov (on Nazir
5:5) states that one can disagree with any explanation in the talmud
concerning interpreting the Torah or the Mishna as long as it does not
change the Halakhah. For example, both Rambam, Maharshal and Vilna Gaon
explain mishnas in ways they differ from that given in the Gemara.
Similarly, many of the commentaries on the Torah at times explain the
verses in ways that contradict the interpretation given in the Talmud.
     In terms of non-halachic statements in the talmud, Rambam, Rav Hai
Gaon, Rav Sherira Gaon and others have stated that one is not bound by
them. Thus, for example, they simply state that the Sages were not
doctors and so their medical treatments are not binding.  Chazon Ish
states one who does not believe in the Aggadot are Apikorsim and their
Shechitah is not valid. It is not clear from his statement whether he
means a literal acceptance of the Aggadah or he also accepts that one
can reinterpret Aggadot. Most commentaries assume that Aggadot should
not be taken literally. Thus, for example, The Maharal from Prague has
lengthy explanations about the "true" meaning of some aggadot. Rabbi
Aharon Feldman has a book, "The Juggler and the King" on the Vilna
gaon's interpretation of the stories of Rabba Bar Bar Channah and the
riddles of Savvei DeVei Atuna. Rabbi Feldman stresses that aggadot
should not be taken literally. He brings several reasons why the rabbis
spoke in hints rather than telling their message directly. I will bring
one example from his book.
     The Talmud advises a person whose father owns a supply of figs to
sell them as soon as the market opens and not to wait for his father to
sell them. The Vilna Gaon explains that the Talmud is not teaching us
how to run a business. Rather this a hidden statement teaching scholars
to teach their wisdom (figs) in public even if one is still a student
(son) dependent on his teacher (father).


From: Daniel A. Yolkut <yolkut@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 93 00:35:05 -0500
Subject: Mesorah and the Codes/ Reb Levi Yitzchak

Last year, Discovery had a shabbaton at Gush where they presented the
codes. one of the issues that was raised was how the codes are accurate
since l'maaseh we know there are some changes in the text of the torah
as we know R' Meir and also some of the Rishonim tried to establish an
accurate text and went by the principle of "rov" or majority which
obviously would not always yield the most accurate text. Also there are
minor differances in the Teimani Torah. The answer that they gave was
that the text of the Torah we have in front of us is the correct text
that HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted us to have in front of us. Just as the
Chazon Ish ruled (source anyone?) that if Moshe Rabenu's Sefer Torah was
found and was absolutely identified as being Moshe's and there were
differances from the standard sefer torah it would not be acceptable
Halachically, so this halachic truth about the torah means that it is in
some metaphysical way the text G-d intended us to have when we had
computers able to "find the codes." Not entirely satisfying, but at
least it takes this fact into consideration.

Also, someone asked about the story of the Rav whose daughter's wedding
location was Yerushalayim pending Mashiach's arrival. To the best of my
knowledge the story is told about Reb Levi Yitzchak Mi Berditchev. I
have seen some wedding invitations with this formula on it, although it
somehow seems less pious in an era when a wedding in Jerusalem could
easily be booked at the Plaza..... oh well.

Bvirkat HaTorah VHaMitzvot
Daniel A HaLevi Yolkut


From: Harold Gellis <GELYC@...>
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 93 23:40:57 EST
Subject: visit to Israel

I will, IY"H, be in Israel during the first part of January.  If
anyone would like to receive a copy of my article on Jewish
Networking, or meet with me, during my visit, to discuss
developments in Jewish Networking for future articles, you can
contact me at the Kings Hotel in Jerusalem - (02) 247-133.  I can
also be reached at <GELYC@...>.

Heshy Gellis


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 93 23:40:48 -0500
Subject: Yemenite vs (Ashkenazi and Sefardi) Torah Text

For those who have asked me to explain the difference between the
Yemenite text and our (i. e. Ashkenazi and Sefardi) Torahs I will do so
now. To begin with, eveeryone who has written me saying that the only
difference is the alef in the word daka is wrong. Rabbi Bleich also
makes this mistake in his book With Perfect Faith. There are actually
nine differences and they are as follows:

Gen 4: 13 they read mineso without a vav.
Gen 7: 11 they read maayenot without a vav.
Gen 9: 29-they read vayihyu
Ex. 25: 31 they read teaseh without a vav
Ex. 28: 26 they read ha-efod without a vav.
Numbers 1: 17 they read be-shemot without a vav
Numbers 10: 10 they read hadshekhem with a yod
Numbers 22: 5 they read beor without a vav
Deuteronomy 23: 2 they read daka with an alef

What is really interesting is that the people who are making up these
codes have no idea about these differences. Furthermore, they don't
realize that the Yemenite text is more accurate and any codes should be
experimented with using the Yemenite text. Now people are going to ask
why the Yemenite text is more accurate. The answer is that our texts are
reproductions of what our masoretic scholars thought the Tiberian
Masoretic text looked like in its perfect form. The most perfect text
was that of Ben Asher and it is this text which Maimonides used. The
Yemenite text is closer to the Ben Asher text than our text is.
Interestingly enough, the few times when the Ben Asher text differs from
the Yemenite text it agrees with our text. Due to Jordan Penkower's
amazing discovery we now know without any doubt what Maimonides' text
looked like. Since this was regarded as the most perfect text by all
Masoretes, and this was the text they were trying to achieve, by all
rights we should now adopt the Ben Asher text. If Ramah was alive today
he would tell us that both us and the Yemenites are obligated to correct
our Torah's in accordance with Ben Asher. Of course this will never
happen since we have a tradition of a few hundred years, yet the fact
remains that we can now achieve what Ramah could not, i. e. a Ben Asher
text.  It will not be long before Bibles are printed in Israel in
accordance with Ben Asher and this will create havoc for the codes'
people because different people will have different texts and you won't
be able to tell people to count fifty letters etc. without knowing what
Bible they are using.
	The problem we are now facing is similar to that faced by poskim
when they discover that a halakhic decision of the Shulhan Arukh is
based on a faulty manuscript of the rishonim. Do we now reject Karo's
decision or not?  As I noted already, since Ramah was trying to
reconstruct the Ben Asher text the fact that we now know what he did not
should force us to correct our scrolls. If there are any sofrim on the
line I would be interested to hear what they have to say.
	One final point,this is a very touchy subject and it would take
a decision by a renowned gadol before we could change our Torahs. Even
then it would not be accepted since people would argue against it on the
basis of tradition (not knowing where our tradition comes from!). It
will also take awhile for Penkower's new research to find its way into
the literature that poskim read. In fact, I doubt if any of the gedolim
are even aware that we now have an accurate witness to the Ben Asher
							Marc Shapiro


End of Volume 10 Issue 99