Volume 11 Number 47
                       Produced: Thu Jan 27 23:25:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Censorship & Reform Responsa
         [Sam Saal]
         [Mitch Berger]
Joseph and his father
         [Uri J Schild]
Rav Goren's Psak on Refusal To Serve
         [Najman Kahana]
Sigrid Peterson on Sons of God
         [Alan Zaitchik]
         [Marc Shapiro]


From: Sam Saal <SSAAL@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 94 17:23:57 -0500
Subject: RE: Censorship & Reform Responsa

I am usually a strong supporter of Avi Feldblum, mail.jewish's
overworked and underpaid moderator, but I'm afraid I must break that
string because of something posted recently.  I'm sure I'll be back to
my tradition soon enough.

In mail.jewish Vol. 11 #19, Daniel Faigin writes:

>In the case of the issue in question, I quoted from the {Reform}
>responsa because it appeared to bring in another halachic justification
>for allowing women to pierce their ears (adornment and beatification)
>that had not been mentioned before. Many of the authors of the Reform
>responsa, although not currently Orthodoxy, did have Orthodox training
>in their youth and use this training in their writing. Their opinions,
>when citing halacha, should be examined with as much skepticism as any
>other layperson quoting on the net that you do not know. I don't find
>that an insult to them, for examining halacha can only lead to further
>learning.  Certainly, we shouldn't just ignore what they say.

When I first read Dan's original post I also wondered whether it was 
appropriate for mail.jewish.  After thinking it through, I came to the 
conclusion that it was better that it _was_ posted, if for no other reason 
than that it leaves the door open for questions on the very interesting 
boundary of Halacha.  When a later poster pointed out the errors in 
scholarship, I began to have doubts about my conclusion and Dan's response 
has lead me to reverse it completely.

The charter of mail.jewish requires posts to assume a halachic basis.
Had Dan's sources been RFB (Reform From Birth), or even assimilated who
moved up in observance to Reform, as opposed to those who reject
Orthodoxy, I would have been more comfortable accepting the input as
appropriate in mail.jewish. But these people have explicitly rejected
orthodoxy and that is just as explicitly counter to the mail.jewish
charter.  I find it harder to defend posting their scholarship in
mail.jewish given this rejection of the charter.

>Lastly, I would like to let you know that I *do* read M.J, just as Avi
>reads M.L-J, as part of the bond of brotherhood between our two lists
>(and in many ways, I do view M.L-J as a younger sibling of M.J). As
>brothers, we learn from each other as we grow and mature, and I am
>thankful for that.

While this is all well and good, a call to brotherhood becomes a political 
cry for legitimacy where no such discussion is even appropriate in this 

Sam Saal


From: <mitch@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 94 17:02:25 EST
Subject: Re: Gedolim

Gedalyah is correct, our sentiments are roughly in line. Neither of us
believe in a seperate set of "gedolim" whose halachic status is qualatatively
different than your LOR. I also concur that no one is uniformly good in all

I disagree, however, with his notion that:
> Personally, it would not bother me to ask a shaila in Yoreh
> De`ah or Orach Chayyim to a rabbi whom I respect as a great talmid
> chakham and posek but whose middot I found lacking.

Much of paskening is subjective - does this one's shita "feel" more correct
in this context, is the need great enough to warrant this type of heter,
etc... To a large extent you are relying on your posek's ability to
"torahthink", or perhaps "torahfeel". If the Rav were lacking in middos I
would have a hard time accepting his conclusions - even if he knows more of
the source material (Rishonim, Achronim) than other people. He would appear to
me as someone who knows the material but has little ability to internalize
it into his priority scheme. Without the right priorities how can you trust
his subjective opinion?

A tangent:
"veshinantam livanechah - and you shall teach them to your children"
The word veshinantam is rare, the normal term would be "limadetam". It has
been translated "lishanot - to repeat" from "shnayim - two". Or, to teach
the deep hard material. R. SR Hirsch gives this translation based on the root
"shein - tooth" to indicate sharpness.
Why then is this not the phrase the gemara uses to show that the obligation to
learn Torah is primarily on males?

I want to sugest my own p'shat based on R. Hirsch's etymology. It means to
give over to them the Torah not just as facts but as a value system. That the
Torah is the means for cutting between right and wrong. This would apply
both to males and to females.

The connection to the current discussion is the distinction between book
knowledge and internalized knowledge. Gedalyah feels that lilmod is sufficient
to make one a posek. To my mind the concept of lishanen (dikduk?) is at least
as important.

  . |  . |  | Micha Berger     | Voice: (201) 916-0287 | On Torah, on worship,|
  : |  : |  | 129 Ascension St |   Fax: (212) 504-4581 | and on supporting    |
  : |  : |  | Passaic NJ 07055 | Email: <mitch@...>  | kindness  - Avos 1:2 |


From: <uri@...> (Uri J Schild)
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 1994 00:19:32 -0500
Subject: Joseph and his father

While the point [that Yosef believed his father to be part of a plot] is
quite interesting, it doesn't sound right.

And the final exclamation:
	I'm Yosef. Is my father alive?

is very much in context. Please recall: Yehuda tries to convince Yosef,
that the father (Yakov) will die, if his son Binyamin doesn't return.
Yosef, remembering his own pleas to spare him for his father's sake,
reveals himself: "I'm Yosef. And my father's still alive? Did he love me
less, than Binyamin?  Why didn't you apply these nice and correct
arguments in my case back then?"

And his brothers couldn't answer, because of SHAME...


From: Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 09:30 JST
Subject: Rav Goren's Psak on Refusal To Serve

>From: MEDAD%<ILNCRD@...> (Yisrael Medad)

	Please note: I am responding to explain what MY feelings are,
NOT to imply that this is the way others should act.

>Responding to Najman Kahane in V11 N1:
Please, my name is Kahana (a, not e).  We are related, but not the same.

>Priorities are always a problem: suppose you were told to eat treif in
>the Army or suppose you were told to evacuate an Arab village?

Not an unusual condition.  ALL religious soldiers have had to face the
"clear" problem (food cooked on Shabat, mixed dishes, etc). So if the only
food available is treif (no one can make you eat it!), such as in a Mutzav
(a small output), eat canned food, and complain.
If you have to decide to evacuate an Arab village, or better yet, to press
the trigger on a cannon firing at Arab houses in Lebanon, the problem is
much more complex. I have no idea what the Halacha is.

Every soldier has had to make the choice in the not-so-clear areas.
(Example: A tank must have its engine turned on at least once in 24 hours.
If the soldiers fight this rule , on Shabat it will be 25 hours!)
The supreme court was involved in the case of "the right of a soldier to
phone home" (on shabat), and the right of a religious soldier not to give
him a line for a non military purpose, since then the operator has a problem
with Shabat.

>What comes first in the Jewish state of Israel, basic Jewish values or
>universal, progressive, liberal, humanistic values *when*, of course,
>there seems to be a very obvious conflict between them?

My answer (let each person do his own "soul searching" !):
	- Alacha.
		- The military problems are neither trivial, nor obscure.
		 There are many halacha books which cover most of the problems.
		  I find Rav Goren's "Meshiv Milchama" very clear.
		- Many Yeshivot (Hesder, Shiluv, etc) prepare their students
		  to deal with the specifics.  Their Rabanim went thru it.
	- Army regulations. (may not conflict with LAW 1)
		- Take the time and trouble to learn the rules.  In MOST cases
		  in which there is an Hilchati problem, the Law is on your
		- In many, if not most, real humanistic conflicts, there are
		  regulations which open doors to avoid these conflicts.
		  You do need the "guts" to demand your rights.
	- My own set of values.
		- I will neither explain, nor defend them to the "world" !.

As for "universal, progressive, liberal, humanistic values", one man's
freedom is another man's chains.
After I decide what MY values are (using all input, including universal ..),
I will do my best to live up to them.

>Some may be saying "but this is political".  Nevertheless, since Rav
>Goren highlighted the issue as one of Halacha (Can Israel's government
>order a soldier to act in contravention of the Halacha which commits a
>Jew to live in Eretz-Yisrael?) we have no choice but to relate to it

	I agree completely.  In the last week, or so, many other Rabanim
(I ain't gonna use "gdolim" :) ) have declared themselves publicly in
agreement with Rav Goren's psak.
The Friday Jerusalem Post (7-Jan) has an open declaration which includes
the former Chief Rabbi Shapiro, hardly a "right wing fanatic".

	Yisroel, this is to explain myself, and my position, not to challange
you, or anyone else.

Najman Kahana


From: Alan Zaitchik <ZAITCHIK@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 15:27:19 -0500
Subject: Sigrid Peterson on Sons of God

The expression "bnei elokim" or "sons of God" does indeed appear in in
TaNaKh, right in Breshit (chapt 6 verse2 ) where the obscure
antidiluvian episode of the "bnei elohim" who came upon the "b'not
ha'adam" is told. What the term means is not clear, and the commentators
give a wide variety of explanations, from descendents of Cain to
powerful people to (fallen) angels. Interestingly the Septuagint has
"angels" for this occurence!

Of course the term "elohim" (but not "beni elohim") -- all cases being
chol or "profane"-- occurs repeatedly in Exodus in contexts where it
means judges, and so "sons of Elohim" could arguably mean the sons of
the judges or powerful. An interesting case is in Psalm 83 (or is it
82... sorry but I have no TaNakh at hand), namely the Psalm recited
every Tuesday, where corrupt judges are criticized. The Psalmist says "I
had said (thought) you were "elohim" and "bnei elyon" but now surely you
will die like all men (any man?)". I am not a scholar of these things
but it seems that putting "beni elyon" next to "elohim" in the context
of judges once again lends some crdibility to the tradition of talking
the "beni elohim" of Breshit 6 as "powerful people" rather than as an
allusion to mythological creatures.

Hope this helps. 

/alan zaitchik


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 94 00:12:07 -0500
Subject: Re: Yaacov

A number of people gave interesting explanations as to why Joseph didn't 
contact his father. The most interesting is the one which claims that 
he thought his father was part of the conspiracy. This approach achieves 
further cogency when one looks at the names Joseph gave his sons. 
Menashe, because he wanted to forget his father's house, and Efraim 
because he wanted to prosper in his new land. In other words, he had 
given up hope of returning to Canaan. He demands that Benjamin be brought 
to him, and he doesn't care how much it hurts his father, because 
Benjamin is the only brother who is not guilty of selling him. These are 
the major points. There are also a number of smaller proofs which point 
in this direction and I don't know if they are made by Rabbi Meidad. In 
fact, he was not the first one to develop this approach. Almost ten years 
ago a friend and I developed it (and I assume that there were many who 
did so previously) and I then published it. 
	For those who are interested in solving these types of problems 
based on peshat, how about developing some answers on Jacob and Leah, i. 
e. how was she able to spend the entire night with him without him 
knowing. My own approach is as follows: Jacob was drunk. There are a 
number of proofs to support this, the major one being that the only other 
time in Torah the phrase bekhirah and tseirah (older and younger) is used 
is with the two daughters of Lot in a context of drinking, thus hinting 
at the fact that our passage also refers to drinking. Note also that the 
root of mishteh is related to drinking and the commentators explain that 
the major part of a mishteh is wine. There are other proofs but they are 
of less importance.
						Marc Shapiro


End of Volume 11 Issue 47