Volume 11 Number 14
                       Produced: Fri Jan  7  8:51:25 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Censorship & Reform Responsa
         [Lenny Oppenheimer]
Laundry Detergent
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
         [Avi Hyman]
Reference of Reform Responsa (2)
         [Jonathan Goldstein, Najman Kahana]
Reference to Reform Responsum
         [Robert A. Book]
When Does the Next Day Begin
         [Israel Botnick]
Yosef help
         [Barak Moore]


From: <leo@...> (Lenny Oppenheimer)
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 94 10:40 EST
Subject: Re: Censorship & Reform Responsa

There has been much discussion recently about 2 issues, both of which are
part of one underlying question.

1) Censorship - Should we/our children study other disciplines that are not
based on Torah, and even contain anti-Torah ideas?

2) Authority of Non-Orthodox Halacha - May we accept the possibility that
there may be truth that can be gleaned from a Halachic/Theologigical argument
advanced by a person who does not accept the premise of a divinely based 

It is clear to me that these questions are based on a dispute which
we see among our Sages, going back at least until the time of the Mishnah,
if not beyond.

The basic question:  

   Do we accept factual truth from whatever the source, no matter who 
   the author is? 
   Do we demand that the source of any learning must be pure and untainted
   i.e. free of any anti-Torah attitudes which discolor even the "facts"?

Examples of disputes based on this question abound.  I will cite only two
of the more famous ones.

Rambam - It is well known that much of the controversy surrounding the
writings of the Rambam, some of which survive till this day, revolve around
the Rambam's study of Aristotle.  From his time, when his books were
publicly burned by great Rabbis, through the Vilna Gaon, who alleged that the
Rambam had been too influenced by Aristotle, till today, when the Moreh
Nevuchim [Guide to the Perplexed] is viewed with suspiscion in some
circles, the basic question remained whether this source tainted the Rambam
and made his books unfit as sources of Torah.  Great Rabbis have lined up
on both sides of this issue.

Rabbi Meir - The famous story of Rabbi Meir, author of a great plurality
of the Mishnah, and his relationship with his teacher, Elisha ben Avuya,
is equally well known.  And it revolved around the same question - Could
Rav Meir successfully "eat the fruit and through out the [unfit] shell",
or must all of Elisha's teaching be rejected, as held by the majority of

Personally, I subscribe to the philosophy of "Torah Im Derech Eretz" of
Rav Hirsch zt"l.  From my limited understanding of his position, one may
and should accept truth from any source, while scrutinizing very
carefully when regarding any Halachic issue.  However, I recognize that
this viewpoint was not accepted in the majority of the "yeshiva" world.
This includes both those who reject any secular learning, and those who
follow "Torah U'Mada", which lends greater validity to secular knowledge
than did Rav Hirsch zt"l.

I posit that this question will continue to remain with us.  Let us just
accept that both viewpoints have a large and glorious history to back
them up.

Lenny Oppenheimer


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 10:12:59 -0500
Subject: Laundry Detergent

> From: Alan Cooper and Tamar Frank <ACOOPER@...>
> Cam someone recommend a pamphlet or article on issues pertaining to the
> kashrut or non-kashrut of laundry detergents?  A friend who works for a
> major manufacturer of such products has asked if there is anything in
> print that is both informative and authoritative.  I have directed her
> to the local Vaad, of course.  If this does not strike you as an
> appropriate topic for the list, please respond to me privately.

This isssue came up when I was in a kosher apartment in the MIT dorms,
and a question was asked of Rabbi Kelemer, who was then the Rabbi of
the Young Israel of Brookline.  His response was that a hechsher was not
required, though it was a nice thing to have.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: <ahyman@...> (Avi Hyman)
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 93 21:42:05 EST
Subject: Re: next issue of JEWISH STUDIES JUDAICA eJOURNAL

[A little late, but contact Avi Hyman if this is something that you are
interested in.The other Avi Moderator]

The December issue of JEWISH STUDIES JUDAICA eJOURNAL will be mailed out
by email early next week.

	To subscribe in time to receive your free copy automatically,
please send the message:
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 or, at your option, the message:
       SUBSCRIBE H-JUDAIC your_name
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JEWISH STUDIES JUDAICA eJOURNAL is the world's largest online journal
devoted to ongoing research and current event in Jewish Studies.

This Month features articles on contemporary Jewry, Biblical Studies,
job postings, conference calls and much much more.


From: <Jonathan.Goldstein@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 08:47:19 -0500
Subject: Re:  Reference of Reform Responsa

In Volume 10 Number 88 Joseph Greenberg <72600.225@...> writes:

> Regarding Mayer Danziger's comments regarding the use of a Reform
> responsa, I have one question: if a Reform Rabbi quoted from Rambam,
> would we by definition reject that Rambam, or ignore what the Rabbi
> had to say? Clearly not - Rambam is open (such as it is) to all Jews,
> and all people.... religious affiliation and observance aside. The
> simple fact that a Reform responsa was mentioned on this list (which
> I admit suprised me, but for different reasons) does not invalidate
> the content of that post or this list, and I would add that the
> manner in which it was mentioned, as our Mod. pointed out, was what I
> would consider exemplary..... who you learn from isn't as important
> as what you learn.

I think that perhaps Mayer Danziger may have been more wary about the
reliablity of the information in the responsa in question, rather than
whether it should be referred to at all.

 From what I know of the Reform movement, the idea of "local autonomy"
which allows implementation of a subset of Halacha as the local
authority sees fit opens the way for possible carelessness and h"v
intentional misrepresentation when referring to works accepted by those
Jews adhering to Halacha.

I am *not* attributing to the Reform movement an intention to misquote
our revered teachers, but it is obvious to me that the possibility of
this is much higher in a Reform responsa than in an Orthodox one.

So it makes sense to thoroughly check sources if using such a responsa for 
whatever reason.

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

From: Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 19:12 JST
Subject: Reference of Reform Responsa

>From: Joseph Greenberg <72600.225@...>
>Regarding Mayer Danziger's comments regarding the use of a Reform
>responsa, I have one question: if a Reform Rabbi quoted from Rambam,
>would consider exemplary..... who you learn from isn't as important
>as what you learn.

	Not so fast, my friend.

	The Talmud deals with this directly.  Rav Meir learned from Acher
(Rav Elisha Ben Abuya, who had been a great sage, but left Judaism).
The Talmud asks how come Rav Meir learned from a tainted source, and
answers that Rav Meir was unique in that he knew how to eat the fruit and
discard the pits.

	It is truly a great individual who is capable to learn from a source,
and not be influenced by its ideas.

	While not implying any parallel, I suggest looking into the Rabbinical
views dealing with Shabtaist writings.

Najman Kahana


From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 02:02:12 -0500
Subject: Reference to Reform Responsum

I agree with Joe, and I would like to add that while the Reform movement
may not accept the binding nature of Halacha, when they (or anyone else,
for that matter) attempt to deal with an issue from a Halachic
standpoint, these efforts should be encouraged, not censored.

The goal of those who believe in Halacha ought to be to encourage all
Jews to embrace the Halachic system, rather than to ostracize those who

--Robert Book

P.S.  I still disagree with that specific Reform responsum.  :-)


From: <icb@...> (Israel Botnick)
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 10:30:03 EST
Subject: When Does the Next Day Begin

Yechiel Pisem asked in vol 10 # 79
> If one davens maariv before tzais hakochavim, is it then the next day
> for purposes of chanuka candles etc?

This is a very good question. I have always found this topic to be
very interesting so I will gladly attempt to answer the question.

The short answer is that if one davens maariv before night, it is
not yet considered the next day. This is because nighttime does not
start until three stars are visible, whether one has davened maariv
or not. This is stated in berachos 27b where the gemara says that
one may daven maariv before shabbos is over(before night), but it
is still not permitted to do melacha until night. Therefore in general,
if one davens maariv, it is still required to wait until nighttime to
do mitzvot that are done at night (chanuka candles, counting of the omer).

A number of rishonim do say however, that if one does daven maariv
before nighttime, it is improper to then do anything which demonstrates
that it is still daytime (such as putting on tefilin). This is because,
by reciting the nighttime prayer, he/she has demonstrated that as
far as prayer is concerned, it is already night, so it would be
contradictory to then go back and do anything which demonstrates
that it is still daytime. This person is then in a state where it
is not night yet, but his day is effectively over. This has relevance
for many areas (such as putting on tefilin after one has davened maariv
- shulchan aruch OC siman 30). One of the best sources for this topic
is the taz (to Shulchan aruch OC siman 600) who discusses the question
of a shul which was not able to find a shofar until the second day of
Rosh Hashono after maariv but before nighttime.


From: Barak Moore <cquinn@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 11:37:03 EST
Subject: Yosef help

I would like help regarding the toughest and most obvious question about
Yosef: why did he not let his father know that he was alive in Egypt
when the predictable result was that Yakov was a broken man for over
twenty years?

Is there anything I have missed?

Few clues exist:

We do know why he put his brothers and father through the wringer of
jail and holding one brother hostage: "he remembered his dreams."
Apparently, he felt that his dreams should dictate his actions the way
that Egypt's were directed by those of Pharoah. Incidentally, this may
be why he later issued commands to his father in an imperious manner.

Yosef did not remember his dream immediately when he saw his brothers.
His initial reaction was to act like a stranger and speak to them
harshly, indicating his surface hostility.

He remained true to his God, but abandoned one of his fathers'
traditions by marrying an Egyptian woman (probably even a descendant of
cursed Canaan). It may be countered, however, that this was
understandable given the circumstances and that Yosef was unaware of his
father's intentions because he left home at age seventeen. It is
undeniable, however, that Yosef was starting a new life with no
intention of reconciling with his family.

In the episode of the rape of Dinah, Yakov receded into the background
of his family's activities. By the time Binymin was born, he was an old
man. Yosef did not know whether his father was still alive.  Seeking out
his father would have meant certainly finding ten brothers who had tried
to kill him and who may have tried again.

Because Yosef led the rare life that was micromanaged by God, he may not
have been a proactive person when he didn't feel guided by a dream.
Incidentally, that is why Yosef was seen by some to have lacked bitachon
in asking the chief steward to remember to help him.

BTW I'm interested in responses on the level of pshat.

--Barak Moore


End of Volume 11 Issue 14