Volume 11 Number 58
                       Produced: Wed Feb  2 18:08:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jan David Meisler]
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Emden/Eibshitz and anonymity
         [Ezra L Tepper]
         [Nathan Davidovich]
         [Robert J. Tanenbaum]
P'sak and Gedolim/Rabbis
         [Gedalyah Berger]


From: Jan David Meisler <jm8o+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 20:22:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Brachos

Going along with the spirit of a question asked recently of what brachah
you make in the case of tofel (secondary food) and ikar (primary
food).....I was thinking the other day about something.  A person who is
eating hard crackers generally makes a mezonot and al hamichya on them. 
However, if he eats enough of them (I think about 4 eggs worth, if
memory serves me right), he is required to wash, make hamotzi and bentch
over them.  I also remember learning that if the person doesn't eat that
many crackers, for argument let's say he eats 2 eggs worth of them, but
he eats other "stuff" with it (for example whitefish, chumus, etc.) so
that the total is the 4 eggs worth, then he needs to wash and bentch as
well.  The minimum for any after brochoh would normally be a k'zayit (an
olive's worth).  My question is this.  Let's say the person eats less
than a k'zayit of crackers, but he put so much stuff on them that the
total was over 4 eggs worth.  Would he then have to wash and bentch as
well?  Afterall, he didn't eat enough crackers by themselves to normally
require an after brachah, let alone bentching.



From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 94 13:01:47 -0800
Subject: Re: Emden/Eibshitz

	>From: Anonymous

	It is known to me that a certain Rav, who can legitimately claim
	expertise with the writings of R. Eibshitz, is of the opinion
	that he (R. Eibshitz) was in fact a closet Sabbatean. However,
	...  he will not publish his conclusions because he is afraid
	that he would no longer be accepted in "right wing circles."

First of all, with all due respect to this "certain Rav", I doubt
he is any greater or more learned then Reb Yaakov Emden zt"l. And
we know definitively that Reb Yaakov Emden did misunderstand some
of Reb Yonasan Eibshitz' writings. Therefore, it is quite reasonable
to assume the same with this "certain Rav".

But, more important, this whole post is meaningless, and impossible
to debate. Imagine an anonymous poster claiming to know a famous
mathematician who can prove that 1+1=3, but is afraid to publish his results
because it would jeapordize his standing in the mathematical circles.

Try and disprove such a claim. 

IMHO postings like the above are of no benefit to the Jewish people.
Posting malicious rumors about people who are long dead and can no
longer defend themselves is of no benefit to the Jewish people,
and may, in fact, be Motzi-shem-Ra (slander). And how much worse is
this sin, when the target is a great Sage.

I respectfully request that this topic be considered closed, as there
can be no benefit in any future discussion.

Hayim Hendeles


From: Ezra L Tepper <RRTEPPER@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Feb 94 14:18:22 +0200
Subject: Emden/Eibshitz and anonymity

Your anonymous contributor to v11#35 describes a certain Rav

                                     who can legitimately claim expertise
   with the writings of R. Eibshitz, is of the opinion that he (R. Eibshitz)
   was in fact a closet Sabbatean. However, and this of course touches on
   the central issue of Da'as Torah and the whole question as to the place of
   scholarship in the Torah word, he will not publish his conclusions because
   he is afraid that he would no longer be accepted in "right wing circles."

May I opine, aside from all possible arguments for and against R. Emden and
R. Eibshitz in their historic conflict, that we disregard the expertise of
that anonymous Rav in all Torah matters. Any Torah scholar who is afraid
to publish his conclusions because he might no longer be accepted in "right
wing circles" appears to be violating the Torah command "_Lo taguru mipney
ish_," (fear no man). Any Rav who would do this could, in my opinion,
not be relied on in any of his decisions.

Ezra Tepper <RRTEPPER@...>


From: Nathan Davidovich <0005426728@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 94 13:18:48 -0500
Subject: Gedolim

     A great deal has been written on the subject of defining "godolim".
I recently heard a shiur on Kiddushin, 49:, by Rabbi Fishel Schechter.
The gemara was discussing the various methods of betrothing a woman with
various conditions attached.  The gemara asked the effect of betrothing
a woman on condition that "I am a tzaddik (a righteous man)".  The
gemara concluded that the kiddushin (betrothal) was valid, even if the
person was a complete rasha (wicked person) for he might intend, at that
moment, to do teshuva (repentence).  Rabbi Schechter told the following
story that can help us resolve the debate over who is a godol:

     The Kotzker Rebbe was about to marry (after the death of his first
wife) the sister of the Chidushai HaRim.  Before the wedding the Kotzker
expressed concern that the kiddushin might be invalid as based on a
false premise.  He explained that his Kallah accepted kiddushin on her
false belief that he was a great rebbe, but he knew, in his humility,
that this was not true. The Chidushai HaRim told him not to worry, that
the kiddushin was valid, and not accepted under false premises.  He
quoted this gemara that asked the halacha if a man betrothed a woman "on
condition that he was wealthy or of great strength".  The gemara
answered that the criteria is not whether you are or not, but rather how
you are perceived in the community.  If you are perceived as wealthy or
of great strength, the condition is met, and the kiddushin is valid.
Similarly, he told the Kotzker, "since people are pushing and shoving to
get near you, and think that you are a great rebbe, then it doesn't
matter that you think you are not.  You still qualify as a great rebbe."

     The same criteria can be applied to our discussion of gedolim.
Therefore, the determinative factor is whether or not a sizeable number
of people feel that a particular person is a godol.  If so, that is
sufficient, and all those persons falling into that category should be
considered gedolim, regardless of whether you agree with them, and they
should be accorded the proper respect.  In the secular society we have
no real heroes upon whom we can model our lives.  Let's take pride in
the fact that, as Jews, we have modern heroes, from whom we can learn a
great deal, while at the same time not having to be in agreement with
all of their positions.  Is that not a way to foster unity, rather than
disunity, in our People?  \


From: <btanenb@...> (Robert J. Tanenbaum)
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 94 11:29:27 EST
Subject: Re: Mashiach

Dr. Moshe Koppel raised an interesting sociological observation that 
3 groups have gained strength and influence and then declined in
parallel: Gush Emunim, Lubavitch, and Yeshivisha Velt.
All 3 have what he terms "Messianic areas of focus".

I'm not sure that one can point out these three groups as flourishing
more than the rest of Orthodoxy. Seems to me that all Orthodox groups
experienced a great resurgence in the last 40 years, including Modern
Orthodox, Chassidic, and even Conservadox.

I'm also not sure that the three parallel events: the Lubavitch Rebbe's
illness, the Madrid conference, the Reichman bankruptcy signal any
long-range setback for these groups. Time will tell.

I do have an opinion about these groups, and their "Messianic areas
of focus". Another aspect common to these groups is an isolationist
mindset and an approach to life that deliberately ignores the outside
world -- and even callously antagonizes it and denigrates it.
Even the Lubavitch outreach efforts to both "not-yet-observant Jews"
and "Bnai Noach" is not done with an "I'm OK, You're OK" attitude of
cooperation, but one of "I'm OK, and sooner or later You're going to
be OK too -- if you become like me" attitude of proselitization.

I believe this isolationism and Messianic idealism does stem from the
"earth-shattering events of the Shoah" and has created a FEAR-BASED
mentality that on the one hand pictures G-d as punishing and ruthless
who must be bought with supreme piety or dogmatic defensiveness
and at the same time searches for the utopian society.
Just as the abused child simultaneously cowers and beseeches the hated
yet deified abusive parent and dreams of some fantasmagorical perfect
family life. It's a nice dream but it does not work.

Any movement which denies reality and seeks through isolationism and
dogmatism to keep its adherants in line, carries its own seed of destruction.
This is my opinion. I am well aware that there are those who believe
the opposite. That isolationism and total commitment is what keeps us
strong. That's a matter of debate and a question of degree. 
I believe that one can have total commitment and still work in the
"realpolitik" of life. There is no magic -- but there are miracles.
To me the miracle at the Red Sea was not that G-d split the waters
because G-d can do anything -- but that a slave nation was willing to
go out into the desert and walk into the water up to their necks.
That's a miracle. Let's acknowledge the miracle of daily existence
and continuous commitment to Torah living by every observant Jew.

There will always be isolationist and messianic aspirants, and there
will always be those who go about Torah observance with full awareness
and respect for other people's opinions. Reality distinguishes between
friend and foe by their actions - not by their religion.

I think I rambled a little --- must be because my head is in the clouds
from my recent engagement.

One thing I try to always remember. There is One Judge -- and I'm not it!

Love to all -- and thanks for all those notes of congratulations.

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum	1016 Central Ave	Highland Park, NJ 08904
home: (908)819-7533	work: (212)450-5735
email: <btanenb@...>


From: Gedalyah Berger <gberger@...>
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 94 20:14:08 -0500
Subject: Re: P'sak and Gedolim/Rabbis

> Subject: Re: Gedolim

In #47, Micha Berger responded to my post about the "Gedolim" issue:

> 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?

Hence my limitation to Orach Chayyim (the portion of the Shulchan `Arukh
which deals with daily and seasonal ritual matters) and Yoreh De`ah
(mostly kashrut, but includes sundry other issues ranging from mourning
to usury), as opposed to Even Ha`ezer (marriage and divorce) and Choshen
Mishpat (civil law and litigation).

I most certainly agree that pesak involves applying not only Torah
knowledge but also "Torah-feel."  But, I do think that though the Torah
is in many respects an organic whole, some degree of
compartmentalization does exist.  I don't think that a rabbi's, e.g.,
short temper is necessarily a sign that his approach to analyzing
ya`aleh veyavo or pots and pans is faulty.  The relevant "Torah-feel" in
these cases is mostly the sense a talmid chakham develops of traditional
halakhic logic and thought processes, and much less the inculcation of
middot bein adam lachaveiro (proper interpersonal behavior).  I do not
think that his inappropriate middot necessarily reflect a generally
skewed priority scheme; obviously, sometimes they do, but in most such
cases one could probably deduce this based on additional observations.

There are, of course, exceptions even within Yoreh De`ah, such as halakhot of
mourning, and Orach Chayyim, such as issues of women and ritual, where 
"Torah-feel" in Micha's sense is paramount, but I stand by my assertion 
that this is not generally the case.

Gedalyah Berger
Yeshiva College / RIETS


End of Volume 11 Issue 58