Volume 12 Number 87
                       Produced: Thu Apr 28  7:29:00 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Awaiting Mashiach
         [Gedalyah Berger]
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Da'as Torah
         [Mitch Berger]
Employment Dilemma
         [Jules Reichel]
Long Payists(Earlocks?)
         [Ari Shapiro]
Reading on Shmoneh Esreh
         [Mike Gerver]
Teaching position Dilemma
         [Shimon Schwartz]
Watching TV, Videos, and Dating during Sefiras Haomer
         [Lon Eisenberg]


From: Gedalyah Berger <gberger@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 1994 15:09:23 -0400
Subject: Re: Awaiting Mashiach

> >> im kol zeh achakeh lo    - with all that I'll wait for him
> >> b'chol yom               - every day
> >> sheyavo                  - that he will come
> >> Does this mean we expect him to come today? If so, what is the part
> >> about 'sheyismame'ah'? Does it mean every day I wait?

Yacov Barber writes:

> There are those who translate this "ani mamin" to mean that we need to
> anxiously wait for Moshiach every day, however the actuall day of
> Moshiach's arrival will be when ever it will be. If this is the true
> understanding of the "ani mamin" then it should read "b'chol yom achake
> lo sheyovo". Since it is written "achake lo b'chol yom sheyovo" this
> teaches us that we are obligated to anxiously await Moshiachs arrival
> everyday.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the correct
interpretation is that we are always supposed to expect moshiach to
arrive today.  First of all, I don't really understand the proof from
the language; "achakeh lo bechol yom sheyavo" is just a poetic syntax
for "bechol yom achakeh lo sheyavo," and in any case I don't see why one
syntax inplies your reading more than the other.  The simple way of
saying what you say it means would be "bechol yom achakeh lo sheyavo
akhshav" or something like that; there is no word in the existing text
which means "now" or "today."

Second of all, I have trouble understanding the principle altogether if
it means "I expect moshiach to arrive today."  What is the makor
(source) for this?  Why should I expect moshiach to come when 90% of the
Jews in the world do not believe in Torah and mitzvot and a significant
percentage do not believe in God altogether?  I find it very difficult
to believe that the Rambam would consider someone who believes that
moshiach will arrive tomorrow a kofer be`ikar (heretic, rejecter of a
basic tenet of faith).

The nevi'im (prophets) give two different scenarios for the arrival of
the ge'ulah.  In some places they speak of an en masse teshuvah movement
by kelal Yisra'el, resulting God's saving us by dint of our being
deserving (this scenario is prominent in Yirmiyahu).  In others, they
speak of our being so low and devoid of hope that God redeems us despite
our madregah (level) because we've reached a point of no return
(prominent in Yechezkel).  We presumably hope and pray that the first
will be the case, that our `avodat Hashem will reach a point where God
can proudly return us to our exalted state, rather than our having to be
led back to Eretz Yisra'el with our heads hanging in shame because we
failed so miserably.  Ba`avonotenu harabbim [due to our numerous sins],
given the state of world Jewry in 1994, if one expects moshiach to come
today one is expecting only the latter.

Gedalyah Berger
Yeshiva College / RIETS


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <bqs@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 1994 20:09:22 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

I don't accept Dov Krulwich's criticism on this subject.  There is no
"cry of 'chumra!", nor is anyone trying to "delegitimize" any opinion by
calling it a chumra.  In plain Aramaic, chumra means strictness and kula
means leniency.  I'm sure everyone reading mail-jewish follows lenient
rulings on some issues and strict rulings on others, since you can find
two rulings on just about anything (except, perhaps, for the question of
selling one's husband to a goy).

The difficulty which this discussion has addressed is what to do when
adoption of a strict standard brings one into conflict with other
halacha, such as when an insistence on Glatt damages normal social
intercourse.  It is imperative then to understand the halacha one
follows, so as not to be brought into nonsensical situations such as
"Glatt pots."

As an aside, I enjoyed Y. Bechhofer's enlightening rejoinder to the
effect that Glatt is not a chumra.  It was, however, quite beside the
point.  Compared to non-Glatt, Glatt IS a chumra.  Compared to
Beit-Yosef-chalak, Glatt is a kula.  So what?  Once the various
alternatives have been laid down by poskim, you can't say somebody's
kitchen is tref (or that he is a fanatic) if he follows one alternative
or another.

Ben Svetitsky      <bqs@...>


From: <mberger@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 94 11:02:52 EDT
Subject: Da'as Torah

In v12n51 Yitzchok Adlerstein quotes the Radbaz (#1258):
>          "Show him my letter.  Show him that I said he is MISTAKEN! If
> he relents, give him another chance.  If not, by my authority [imagine -
> a good few hundred years before Aguda supposedly "invented" the idea of
> Da'as Torah, Radbaz was using it and throwing it around!], dismiss him.

My comment is with his interjection. No one questions the authority of
Rabbanim on matters of Halachah, interpretation, etc...

What was innovative [no connotation intended in either direction] was
the use of Rabbanim qua Rabbanim as political leaders, psychological and
business advisors, etc.... I heard the phrase Da'as Torah attributed to
R. Yisrael Salanter. I don't know if the Aguddah's notion originates
with him or the Besh"t, or some synthesis of the two.

Clearly Torah is not just about facts, but about how to think. We could
very well argue the Rav who has cultivated his thought to be in line
with torah-think has a clear advantage in how he manipulates the facts,
when he gives advice.  On the other hand, would you want advice in
electrical engineering from the Aruch Hashulchan? (See the discussion
about electricity on Shabbos.) Why should the soft sciences be any

The change in dynamic is that while we have obligations to follow our
Rabbanim in halachic matters, are we so obligated in non-halachic
matters? Is there such a thing as a non-halachic matter? We does one
draw the line? The Aggudist who approaches the Rosh Yeshivah for advice
about a career move would consider himself under some form of obligation
to follow it.

| Micha Berger       | (201) 916-0287 | On Torah, on worship, and |    |  |   |
| <mberger@...> |<- new address  |   on supporting kindness  |    |  |   |


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 17:16:53 -0400
Subject: RE: Employment Dilemma

No Carole Shamula it's not right to penalize you for taking a position
in a Conservative institution. Might you be hurt? Yes. Why? Have you not
done so out of love of your people? I'm sure that you know all this
without my telling you. What I think you're really asking yourself is
whether you have courage to stand up against unrighteousness. And you're
also asking, why me? I'm trying to lead a decent life. I'm not asking
for trouble. Why should I be afflicted by meanspiritness? Even in an
Orthodox community strident meanness exists.  A Chassid Rabbi friend of
mine calls it the "I'll bury you" syndrome. It's too bad. No one will
finally answer your question. Courage is in your own heart.


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 94 10:58:22 -0400
Subject: Long Payists(Earlocks?)

In this past weeks parsha we read about the Lo Taaseh not to cut off
your payists.  In recent years I have noticed that in many circles it
has become fashionable to grow long payists (like behind the ears).  I
was wondering where this came from since halachically speaking there is
no requirement for this.  Although there is a machlokes (dispute) where
the bottom border for payists is (i.e. middle of the ear, bottom of the
ear etc.) it seems everyone agrees that each hair only has to be a very
minimal length.  The mitzvah is to leave over a part of every hair in
that area.  (T'shuvos Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 154).  The Rambam in
hilchos N'zirus (5,11) states that a Nazir does not violate the
prohibition of cutting his hair if he leaves enough of the hair so that
it can be bent back upon itself.  This shiur(amount) is adopted by the
Minchas Yitzchak (Part 4 chapter 119,5) and the Chasam Sofer brought
down by the Darchei T'shuva (151,15) with respect to payists.  In fact
some people grow the hair long but leave no hair past the middle of the
ear while in fact there is a big dispute where the bottom border for
payists is. To me these people are being machmir (stringent) in the
wrong place.
   Someone mentioned to me that maybe it is a Hidur mitzvah to grow each
hair longer.  However, this is problematic for the following reason.
Many assume that hidur mitzvah(doing the mitzvah in a better way) works
based on the idea of n'dava and aino mtzuveh v'oseh (volunteering as
someone who is not obligated) and if so this only applies to positive
commandments I can volunteer to do more, however you can't volunteer not
to do negative commandments (see Maharal in gur Aryeh (Parshas Vayigash
chapter 46 verse 10) that the Avos only fulfilled positive commandments
because of this idea).  Therefore payists being a negative commandment
would fall in this category and there would be no hidur mitzvah by
growing them long.
   Ari Shapiro  


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 1994 2:58:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Reading on Shmoneh Esreh

In response to Todd Litwin's request in v12n47 for books analyzing the
Shmoneh Esreh, Freda Birnbaum, in v12n57,  recommends B. S. Jacobson's 
books, a recommendation which I will enthusiastically second. I 
particularly enjoyed Chapter 12 of "Meditations on the Siddur," which
traces the various nusachim from their origins in Bavel and Eretz
Yisrael. In addition to Ashkenaz and Sephard, he also mentions many
little known nusachim, some of which still survive in a few small towns,
or did until recently. For example, there is the French nusach, which
almost disappeared after the expulsion from France in 1394, but survived
in the northern Italian towns of Asti, Fossano, and Montcalvo. In nusach
Avignon, the last bracha of the shmoneh esreh begins "shalom rav" even
in shacharit. (I have assumed on the basis of this that if I say "shalom
rav" by mistake in shacharit, instead of "sim shalom," I should not go back
and repeat it if I have already said the bracha, since I am only doing what
would be correct to begin with in nusach Avignon. Is this conclusion


From: <schwartz@...> (Shimon Schwartz)
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 13:24:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Teaching position Dilemma

> From: <FVSA10A@...> (Carole Shamula)
> the position requires you to read the Torah on Mon. and Thurs.
> mornings in our egalitarian minyan.
>         This opportunity is very enticing however I have been told by
> rabbis and colleagues that this would be commiting political suicide.  I
> was told by a principal of a prominent Orthodox yeshiva in Brooklyn that he
> wouldn't have a problem hiring a teacher who tyaught or who is
> simultaneously teaching at a Conservative school but if I were to read the
> Torah at their minyan I'd look like I myself am Conservative and that would
> be a problem.
>         Hopefully I will find a position within the Orthodox world but if
> not, is it right to penalize me for taking a position in a Conservative
> institution and possibly influencing some students towards Orthodoxy?

I find it clearer to remove the "Orthodox"/"Conservative" labels and
reexamine the situation.

Carole has been offered a teaching position in a day school.  A job
requirement is for her to read Torah at an egalitarian service.  Without
further details, this appears to be a public violation of the halachot
regarding davvening, and additionally is an educational experience for
her students.  In that context, I would also object: not to holding the
teaching position, but to the contra-halachic behavior required by the
employer.  As a teacher, she would be promoting this davvening as
proper.  Further, as (I assume) she publicly identifies as an "Orthodox"
Jew, she would be perceived as condoning this davvening as b'davka in
the spirit of the halacha.

How would you feel about taking the position if it required that you
drive to synagogue Friday night, or eat non-supervised cheese?


From: eisenbrg%<milcse@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 01:50:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Watching TV, Videos, and Dating during Sefiras Haomer

Yonah Wolf asked about these items.  He also referred to "there are many
tshuvos available on listening to music".  His implication is that one
is not permitted to listen to music during sefirah, but I would
disagree; this prohibition is actually a form of halakhic inflation.

Check the Mishnah Berurah.  The only prohibitions mentioned associated
with Sefirah are weddings and haircuts.  It does go on to say that if
you have an engagement party, there should be no dancing (nothing about
music).  I would find it difficult to extrapolate from weddings,
haircuts, and dancing to "Watching TV, Videos, and Dating".

Admitedly, there may be other sources (which I haven't seen) that prohibit
music; however, I think the Mishnah Berurah is well enough accepted.


End of Volume 12 Issue 87