Volume 11 Number 31
                       Produced: Wed Jan 19 19:12:31 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Gedolim (4)
         [James Diamond, Nadine Bonner, Hayim Hendeles, Harry Weiss]
Help for Woman Thinking of Conversion
         [Jan David Meisler]
Identifying a Gadol
         [Ben Berliant]
Letter Exchange re. the Rav
         [Anthony Fiorino]
On Equal Time
         [Esther R Posen]


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 94 18:41:08 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

It has been some heavy weather here on the US East Coast (and lots of
other places as well). Monday night I managed to have a bit of the two
major "nature" stories here in the US. I was in Reading, PA and we got
about 12 inches of snow. When I finally made it to the hotel room, we
had a small aftershock from an earthquake that hit Reading over the
weekend. Driving in this weather is exhausting, which is part of the
reason that there has been a slow down in the mail-jewish issues going
out. I'm going to remedy that over the next two days, and try and clear
out much of the backlog. So I will be going over the 4 per day rule for
a bit, but will try to keep the total for the week below 28.

Several of you responded to the request for setting up a mail-jewish
advisory board. I have sent out a message to all those whose mail I
could find, but I suspect that I lost one message. So if you volunteered
to serve on a mail-jewish editorial advisory board and you did not get
my message, please send me mail again. If you did not respond before but
would like to be involved, send me mail. Once we have the list of
people involved, I will post that to the list. Once we establish how we
are going to be working, I or a board member will post that to the list.

There are many of you who sent me private email, and I have not yet
responded to much of that. I will try and do so over the next few days.

To those of you who sent me notes with your mail-jewish subscription
fees, I thank you for your kind and supporting words. I really
appreciate hearing from you all, even if I find it hard to be able to
properly respond.

The backlog queue is quite large right now, later in the evening I will
try and get a proper summary of what is there.

Now to start putting the issues together and deluging you all :-).

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: James Diamond <diamond@...>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 94 16:24:33 -0500
Subject: Gedolim

Aside from what has transpired between Rabbis Shach and Shneerson, can
someone please enlighten me why the questions of "who is a Gadol?" or
"who is the Gadol hador?" are even important and have a claim on our
limited time and energy?  If these are really isues of substance, do we,
then, also need to define criteria and put up candidates for for the
title "Ma'or hagolah"?

-- James S. Diamond

From: <n.bonner@...> (Nadine Bonner)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 23:44:06 -0500
Subject: Gedolim

  I've been following this discussion with interest.  During the ten
years I lived in Israel I was often embarrassed and ashamed of the
political representatives of the various religious parties.  Like many
ba'al abatim, my picture of Rav Schach came from the newspapers and
television news programs.  The picture that filters through the media is
that of a vitrolic power seeker, not a Gadol by any definition.  I'm not
saying that this is the TRUE picture; just the one that emerges.
  I feel that there is something basically corrupt about the political
arena. This is a sad statement since wherever we live, the politicians
dictate much of our daily lives, but it seems to be a situation that is
getting worse, not better.  And somehow when a Rav enters the scene, he
becomes contaiminated.  His words become distorted through the press.
And I cannot help but think that with a microphone stuck in ones face,
things come out that would not be said under normal circumstances.
  I certainly don't believe that our Torah scholars should remain in
ivory towers, but I think they should function more in the background,
as lobbyists for example, than in the forefront of political parties.  I
feel they lower their stature by scrambling for shekels and making
compromising deals to get power.  And if they choose to place themselves
in the public eye as a Rabin or a Shamir, than they have to risk getting
the same mud thrown at them.
  Nadine Bonner

From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 94 10:41:12 -0800
Subject: Re: Gedolim

I would like to extend a public apology to Eitan Fiorino. In a previous
post of his, he had phrased quite elgantly, and with extreme Derech
Eretz, this *apparent* paradox of Gedolim exhibiting some "extreme
positions" - to put it mildly. This post was following a previous post
by another reader on the same subject.

My comments were written in response to the original post; however I
freely borrowed excerpts from Eitan's post, because I thought he had
summarized the paradox so elegantly. My comments were extremely sharp,
but were poorly written, and although solely intended at the earlier
post, implied that I was attacking Eitan, or his position.

This was not my intent, and I would like to publically express my regret
to Eitan for having done so.

In conclusion, I fully agree with Eitan in that Derech Eretz must
proceed the Torah. As the Talmud states, one must only learn from a
scholar who is like an Angel-of-G-d. BUT, most unfortunately, sometimes,
even the most pious and greatest of scholars are forced to take an
extremely harsh and bitter stand to protect the Torah and the Jewish

As Rabbi Schwab shlit"a once explained the Gemara "Any scholar who is
not 'nokem v'noter' like a snake, is not a scholar". Although this
implies that at times, a scholar must fight bitterly, he must do so like
a snake. A snake we know eats "the dust of the earth", and gets no
pleasure. And so must it be when a scholar takes up arms for the sake of
the Torah, he may have to fight, but he must not get any personal
pleasure from it.

Hayim Hendeles

From: Harry Weiss <73132.2266@...>
Date: 06 Jan 94 20:21:02 EST
Subject: Gedolim

The submission from Hayim Hendeles 11#6 raises several points that
concern me.

Hayim said that MJ is" dominated by centrists who have no tolerance for
other viewpoints."  I am a relatively new subscriber to mj, but have
noticed that all viewpoints are reflected.  Viewpoints seem to range
from those that are on the far right to those that are completely
outside of Orthodoxy.  In almost all cases there has been respect for
the other viewpoint.

 From Hayim's post it almost seems like that he feels that to reflect
the "right wing" view point everyone must agree with it.  As long as
someone has their views the right purpose it is good to have
disagreement.  This disagreements are L'shaim Shamaiym like the disputes
between Hillel and Shamai.

This raises the balance of Hayim's posting regarding Gedolim in general
and Rav Schach specifically.  There was only one posting against Rav
Schach whose tone was out of line.  That poster realized that and
followed with an addendum to his posting.

While Hayim refers to Rav Schach as "THE" gadol Hador, there are many in
all portion of Orthodoxy who do not agree with that.  It is Hayim's
absolute right to look to Rav Schach as the Gadol Hador and for someone
else to look at another sage as the Gadol Hador.

What is not right and as bad if not worse that Marc Shapiro's posting
about Rav Schach was Hayim's indirect references to others Torah Sages.

Everyone knows who were the recipients of Rav Schach's "antagonistic
behavior".  Hayim's posting implicitly compares the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Shlita and Harav Steinzalts with Korach and Zimri.  That is uncalled
for.  Hayim is the one who needs to do Tshuva for his Bizayon Hatorah.



From: Jan David Meisler <jm8o+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 20:34:26 -0500
Subject: Help for Woman Thinking of Conversion

I have recently been contacted by a woman who would like to learn more
about Judaism with the intention of deciding whether she wants to try to
convert.  She is Catholic, but has always felt a strong "pull" towards
Judaism.  Although this is not relevant, she thinks that it is possible
that Judaism may actually be running in her family a number of
generations back.  She has wondered why it is if the "founder of
Christianity" was born Jewish, why is it that everyone doesn't practice
the laws of Judaism?  She feels that at the very least exploring Judaism
will enable her to make a true commitment to her faith, or will raise
enough questions that she may have to reevaluate her commitment to
Catholicism.  In that event, she would like to explore the possibility
of conversion.  She has volunteered the information that she has a very
special friend (male) who is Jewish, and she concedes that he may be
part of the reason she is "just now" considering exploring Judaism.  But
she feels that if that is true, it will become pretty evident fairly
quickly that her interest in Judaism, while not superficial, is not
sufficient for anyone to allow her to convert.

She would like to talk some of these issues out with people who in the
past have had experiance dealing with these issues.  If anyone has had
that experiance, please contact her via email at <gomez@...> or

Also, if anyone knows of a Rabbi out in her community that she might be
able to contact, that would also be of help to her.  She lives north of
Denver, and works in Boulder, Colarado.


From: Ben Berliant <C14BZB@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 14:19:09 -0500
Subject: Identifying a Gadol

	Much bandwidth on the list has focused on defining the term
"Gadol" and on the identifying characteristics of such an individual.
All of these posters (from the simple "Aguna" test, to Harry Maryles' 11
"qualifications") seem to be struggling with how we can identify a
"Gadol".  I do not wish to disagree with any of these suggestions -- all
of them describe characteristics I, too, expect to see in a "Gadol" --
but I believe that these are irrelevant.  The suggested characteristics
may be necessary, but (IMHO) are not sufficient.

	Zishe Waxman's test (tongue-in-cheek thought it may have been)
seems best to approach a useful measure.  Therefore, I propose the
following definitions:

1. a Rav (Rabbi) is someone who:
	a. has Semicha
	b. is accepted by a group of Jews as their posek.

2. A Gadol is someone who is accepted by many Rabbis (Rabbanim) as a
"Gadol". (or Posek, if you prefer).

	I believe that these conditions are neccessary and sufficient to
define a Gadol.  By extension, if one sought to define "the Gadol Hador"
perhaps we should define "The Gadol" as someone who is accepted by (all?
most?) Gedolim as The Gadol.  In the current Jewish world, it is
unlikely that any such individual will emerge. ;-)

					Ben Zion Berliant


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:19 -0500
Subject: Letter Exchange re. the Rav

The proper sequence of events in the letter-exchange re: the Rav is:

1.  Obit. in the Observer
2.  response to #1 by R. Tendler in the Algemeiner J. (June 4, 1993 I believe)
3.  response [editorial] to #2 in Algemeiner J. (perhaps July 9 or 16,
	1993, I believe) 
4.  response to #3 [by Rav Ahron Soloveitchik] in Algemeiner J. (July
	23,1993) in Algemeiner J. 



From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: 6 Jan 94 15:35:26 GMT
Subject: On Equal Time

Recently, Avi commented that he is feels he is being fair about giving "equal 
time" to all opinions.  I believe a distinction needs to be made between 
"opinions" and "character assasinations".  Surely, we all have the "right" to 
disagree with Rav Shach, Rav Solevetchik, the Lubavitcher Rebbe or our 
neighbors.  We may want to be very careful when exercising that right because 
we "may have hell to pay" (excuse the pun), but that is our perogative as 
thinking orthodox jews.  I believe that Arnie Lustiger's original post dealt 
with his personal dilemma in exercising choice.  Although he stated that he 
found some of Rav Shach's views abhorent, IMHO there was no malice or 
character assasination in his post.

What happened after that, again IMHO, is that we took the direction of "Rav 
Shach is not worthy of respect as a person therefore his opinions are 
invalid". That's where us "defenders of the faith" began to see a problem in 
the posts. I have not saved them but Marc's was the icing on the cake.  If my 
recall is correct, there were a number of posts that were beginning to veer 
off in that direction albeit more subtley.

If we were to compare the right wings "feelings" about Rav Solevetchik,
I think they are more along the lines of "How could such a big talmid
chacham have such opinions?"  That was Arnie's question of Rav Shach (I
think) and is, boiled down, a show of respect.  In general, people don't
care about the opinions of those they don't respect.

I am anticipating responses along the lines of "Rav Shach said this and
this about so and so isn't that a character assasination.  Aren't we
entitled to do the same, etc."  Frankly, I think not.  As Arnie
originally stated gadlus is a meritocracy of some sort.  Gedolim are
supposed to lead us.  Different groups of jews are lead by different
gedolim.  Let's leave public defemations of character to them when and
if they feel such steps are necessary.  They have the "breita plaitzes"
(broad shoulders, I can't think of an equally descriptive english phrase
but "breita plaitzes" is a requirement for being matir agunot as well)
to make such judgements.



End of Volume 11 Issue 31