Volume 12 Number 93
                       Produced: Sun May  1 22:52:04 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Less Dangerous Substances
         [David Charlap]
Mitzvah of Living in Eretz Yisrael
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
         [Steven Edell]
Sheva Merachef: Ongoing Discussion with Mechy Frankel
         [Arthur Roth]
         [Anthony Fiorino]


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 94 10:38:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Less Dangerous Substances

<esafern@...> (Eric Safern) writes:
><david@...> (David Charlap) writes:
>>On the other hand, "hard" drugs are often mind altering.  They
>>completely detroy a person's ability to think straight, destroy a
>>person's ability to judge right and wrong, and often leads to violent
>>behavior.  This poses a danger, not just to the user, but to the
>>entire community.
>1) You say "hard" drugs 'destroy a person's ability to judge right
>   and wrong.' This is one of the legal definitions of insanity.
>This seems to me a dangerous statement.  Under Western jurisprudence,...

My concern is not with American law.  I never said a halachic argument
is valid in a secular court.

>2) Some of what you say is true for certain addictive substances
>   which are illegal in this country. ...
>Why should the halachic position on permitted drugs be set by the
>sometimes arbitrary schedules kept by the DEA?

Similarly, I never said we should use American law to determine halacha.
You must be mixing me up with the other individual who thinks secular
"experts" are good enough to decide Halachic definitions.

Nevertheless, I stand by my statement - many recreational drugs are
mind-altering.  And a person under the influence has no control over his
actions.  When a person on PCP gets angry, he can not prevent himself
from causing severe damage and injury to himself and others around him.

As for whether he's liable for the damage and injury, of course he is.
I don't care what "western jurisprudence" thinks - this isn't about
American laws, it's about right and wrong.


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <bqs@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 1994 13:04:15 -0400
Subject: Mitzvah of Living in Eretz Yisrael

It's interesting that several of the Rambam's followers worked hard to
explain why living in Israel is NOT a mitzvah when a thorough reading
of the Rambam (as shown by R' Shaya Karlinsky) shows that it IS.  (The
texts are collected in R' Yosef Ba-Gad's booklet on the subject, issued
in the series published by Yeshivat Nechalim.)

A straightforward explanation for the absence of this mitzvah from Sefer
ha-Mitzvot is that the Rambam held living in Israel to be a hechsher
mitzvah, preparation for a mitzvah, akin to building a sukkah so that
one can then dwell in it.  As hechsher mitzvah it doesn't qualify as a
mitzvah for the Rambam's list, but it's just as necessary as if it
did.  How many mitzvot are you avoiding by living in galut?

One can also ask how to interpret the text "vishavtem ba" -- you shall
dwell in it -- from Parashat Mas'ei.  The Ramban takes it to be a
command, and hence a mitzvah; those who deny the mitzvah say it's just
a promise.  R' Shlomo Aviner in Tal Hermon likens the pasuk to the one
in Vayelech regarding t'shuvah: "ve-shavta 'ad H' Elokecha" -- you
shall return to God.  Here also, one can ask whether it is a command or
a promise.  The best interpretation is that it is both:  You are
commanded to do t'shuvah, and you are assured of acceptance.  Thus also
for living in Israel:  You are commanded to do so, and are assured of

Back to chumrot.  Esther Posen wrote proudly (and rightly so) that
accepting chumrot means not making excuses in order to use kulot, and
it makes one feel closer to God.  I couldn't agree more.  So how come
everybody makes excuses in order to use kulot when it comes to aliyah?
If there's one chumrah that brings closeness to God, it's living in

Ben Svetitsky                      <bqs@...>
(seeing the light at the end of the tunnel)


From: Steven Edell <edell@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 12:41:05 -0400

I am hoping that you'll be interested in Jerusalem1's new list, as 
follows.  If you receive this message more than once, please bear with me 
-- I am trying to send this to as many relevant lists as I can.  Thanks.


Different cultures, especially _within_ Judaism, are intriguing.  Jews
from North Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, Russia, North
America, and other origins approach Judaism -- and life -- differently.
These differences in perspective and practice can be difficult at any
time.  One of the focuses of this list will be to help new Immigrants in
Israel to adjust to these differences.  Another particularly difficult
focus of the list is discussion of when people of different backgrounds
find themselves interacting in the same household or environment -
whether they be married, roommates, army buddies, or even just working

With a focus on the richness of culturally diverse Jewish households,
comes of course, its own unique challenges. This list explores these
challenges, as well as the special understanding and extra-fine
communication skills needed to create and maintain harmony within
different environments. While discussion will be based on occurrences
related to life in Israel, many of the points raised will be valid in
similar situations elsewhere and everyone is welcome to share their
insights and experiences.

     To subscribe, send the following message to 

subscribe culture <Your name>

substituting your name (ie, Haim Yankel) for where it says "<Your name>".

     The list owner, Steven Edell, an American who immigrated to Israel
14 years ago, has a Masters in Social Work from Yeshiva University
(Wurzweiler), is married to a Sepharadiya from Iran and has two young
daughters.  Original list subscribers include several other people in
the helping fields, and other 'mixed' marriage couples as well.

    - CULTURE is dedicated to the memory of Hannah Edell, Z"L, who passed
      away on Nisan 6 5754, March 18, 1993.

Steven Edell, listowner,         Internet:<edell@...>


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 10:45:22 -0500
Subject: Sheva Merachef: Ongoing Discussion with Mechy Frankel

>From Mechy Frankel (MJ 12:83), as part of our ongoing grammar discussion:
> 1. Responding to [Arthur's] challenge to exhibit a prefixed bais and other
> prefixes operating on the same root word with differing results,
> consider the words "lichtove" (Devarim 31/24) and "bechesove" (Tehilim
> 87/7). The sheva in the former is unambiguously nach ...
    The infinitive verb form (lichtov, lishmor, etc. = to write, to
keep, etc.)  is in the same category as the mem (see below), i.e., its
basic construction is with a chirik under the lamed, so this chirik is
not just an artifact that appears merely to avoid having the word begin
with two sheva'im.  Thus Mechy has correctly observed that the sheva
after this lamed is unambiguously a sheva nach, and the third letter
hence takes a dagesh kal if it is a beged kefet letter.  A bet in the
same situation (e.g., Mechy's example of bichetov) comes from a totally
different construction and is not analogous.  When I stated that the two
prefixes were always analogous, I was referring only to nouns, as I tend
not to think of the lamed in the infinitive verb form as a true prefix
at all (though I guess it really is one when push comes to shove).  At
any rate, Mechy has acknowledged that he could find no cases where the
bet and lamed differ with a noun, so the two of us seem to be in
agreement in all cases now.

> 2. Arthur's point that a prefixed mem is really a different case
> involving a primordial chirik rather than a sheva is mostly well taken
> and I probably only muddied the waters by including it in my list -
> however I don't think the case is entirely closed on the mem. I ask
> Arthur to consider the case of "Meketsay" (Devarim 14/28, 28/49) - with
> no appearance of the usual dagesh chazak in the second letter. Do you
> still believe that a mem never produces a merachef? - of course many
    The word miktzei/miketzei is a special case.  It is among a short
list of words for which there is a specific mesorah telling us that a
dagesh WHICH NORMALLY SHOULD APPEAR is absent in this particular case.
(Another example is the tzadi in several occurrences of the word
vayitzok.)  For this reason, several chumashim have a special "rafeh
symbol" above the kuf in miktzei/ miketzei indicating the (intentional)
lack of a dagesh in this letter.  It is hence debatable whether this
should be treated as a sheva merachef or just a special case due to
mesorah.  It could be justifiably argued that the special removal of a
dagesh that "belongs" does not constitute a sheva merachef situation,
instead giving rise to an ordinary sheva nach since the chirik under the
mem (being a "natural" vowel, as always with a mem prefix) needs closure
with the sheva once its normal closure (via the dagesh) has been
removed.  This is in contrast to "usual" sheva merachef situations where
it is easier to justify the non-closure of the previous vowel on the
grounds that this vowel is inherently a sheva rather than a "real"
vowel.  On the other hand, as Mechy says, the sheva under the kuf is
still na in the root word.  The resolution of this ambiguity affects
pronunciation for people like Mechy and myself, who pronounce a sheva
merachef as a na; in fact, I have personally wavered back and forth with
this word and have pronounced in both ways during various stages of my
thought process on this topic.  Let me conclude by adding that the two
occurrences in Devarim that Mechy refers to are by no means the only
ones; this word appears many times in the Torah, and they are not all
the same.  (I don't recall whether different occurrences appear
with/without the dagesh in the kuf, always without the dagesh but
with/without the rafeh symbol in chumashim that supply this symbol, or
in all three forms with respect to dagesh and rafeh symbol.)  There does
not appear to be a systematic way to predict based on context how any
specific occurrence will appear.

Arthur Roth


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 10:55:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Soap

I posted a question regarding soap made from human remains on the
Holocaust discussion group; below is a summary of the replies I received. 
I have quoted directly from some, but I have not identified the
respondants because I did not receive explicit permission from anyone
about disseminating this information in their names.

Many survivors have given eyewitness testimony to seeing soap they
believed was made from Jewish fat.  But this debate is among the most
controversial of Holocaust topics.  There is no doubt, however, "that the
Nazis used skin with tattoos and apparantly sometimes the ashes (other
survivors report the ashes simply being dumped, as at Auschwitz). The hair
and clothing also evidently used."

As was reported on mail-jewish, 

> From: Ezra Rosenfeld <zomet@...>
>    I spoke to Dr. Ephraim Zuroff, the head of the Wiesenthal Center in
>    Yerushalayim this morning. He confirmed what Eitan had written. I
>    remember seeing exhibits in Yad Vashem but Dr.  Zuroff said that this is
>    one of those stories which, over the years, have turned out to be myths.

> From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ny000594@...>
>    Aaron Breitbart, Senior Research Associate at the Simon Wiesenthal 
>    Center, reports the following:  
>    There are legitimately conflicting views.  The "recipe" for making soap 
>    was introduced at the Nuremberg trials, which lends credence to the view 
>    that the Nazis (yemach shemam) did manufacture it.  On the other hand, 
>    some scholars have their doubts.
>    Aaron believes that both may be correct.  They began making it, but
>    found the project unattractive economically, and so dropped it. 

Four other responses I received from the Holocaust list are below:

> I recently had this discussion with a former student of Raul Hilberg.
> According to his student, Hilberg claims that the soap story is an
> exaggeration.

> I seem to remember reading remarks by the Holocaust scholar
> Yehuda Bauer saying that despite their other atrocities, the Nazis
> never made soap out of humans and, accordingly, we should stop saying that
> they did. I have a recollection that it might have been in a letter to the
> editor of the Jerusalem Post a few years ago that I saw this.

> Re soap:  I have read accounts of survivors, who claim that the prisoners
> were convinced of this fact.  At times a dark coarse soap was distributed,
> bearing the stamp, RJF, which the prisoners were convinced meant "rein
> judisches Fett" (pure Jewish fat).  I suspect that such threats, at least,
> of turning Jews into soap were often made by the SS to Jewish prisoners.
> Certainly, in a related vein, those prisoners of the Sonderkommandos who
> were forced to undertake massive projects of burning bodies in open pits,
> reported using the technique of skimming off melting human fat as it
> collected and pouring it back on the pyre to increase temperatures.

> It seems the only valid answer is "maybe". One thing is certain - even
> if soap was manufactured, it wasn't a large scale operation. However,
> some serious historians do believe there was an attempt to commercially
> produce soap from corpses, but it wasn't a success and therefore was
> dropped. I have written the "Institute for Contemporary History" in
> Munich about this sometime ago, and I have their answer, which I have
> to translate from German; when done, I'll post it.

Although it seems unfair to state that such soap was never made, I think
as a matter of historical accuracy, and as a major point of distinction
between us and the various revisionists, it is important to state,
whenever mention is made of such soap, that there is debate about this
particular atrocity (but not others).

Eitan Fiorino


End of Volume 12 Issue 93