Volume 13 Number 11
                       Produced: Wed May 18 23:30:06 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

70 facets to the Torah
         [Mitch Berger]
         [Joseph M. Winiarz]
Davening when Making Early Shabbat
         [Ari Shapiro]
Interpretation [sic]
         [Bruce Krulwich]
Joseph and Interpreting Dreams
         [David Charlap]
Lecha Dodi
         [Aryeh Blaut]
postponing a circumcision
         [David Lee Makowsky]
The Spirit of Pessach
         [Danny Skaist]
         [Eli Turkel]


From: <mberger@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Mon, 2 May 1994 12:30:47 -0400
Subject: 70 facets to the Torah

The "70" facets to the Torah could be understood IMHO in two ways:
- 70 means many, as in the 70 nations, 70 languages, "if a Beis Din executes
  someone once in _70_ years"...
- As the introduction to Avos says, Mosheh taught the Torah to Yehoshua, and
  Yehoshua to the Zeqeinim [Elders]. The phrase could mean that every zaqein
  had his own opinion, and they are all valid.

Either way, it grants a plurality of interpretations of the Torah. If one
takes my earlier post about halachic truth not being boolean seriously, the
whole question of which one is objectively "true" is meaningless, not just
indeterminate. There's a good article in Higayon vol. I on this.

Micha Berger        May the Omnipresent have mercy on them and take them out of
<mberger@...>  constriction to openness, from dark to light, from slavery
(212) 464-6565      to salvation:
(201) 916-0287          Ron Arad, Zechariah Baumel, Zvi Feldman, Yehudah Katz


From: Joseph M. Winiarz <100274.1301@...>
Date: 07 May 94 16:25:37 EDT
Subject: Chumrot

Rav Yehuda Amital's sicha (talk) in the yeshiva this last Friday evening
between mincha and ma'ariv relates to the recent discussion here re
chumrot.  I will try to relate it to the best of my ability.

Rashi quotes Torat Cohanim stating that Har Sinai is mentioned in
connection with the mitzvah of shmitta to teach us that just as both the
"clalim" (general precepts) and the "pratim vdikdukim" (details and
minutae) of shmitta were given at Sinai so to is this true of all
mitzvot.  Rav Amital suggested that, on one level, this midrash teaches
us that there is a balance between clalim and pratim vdikdukim which we
should not lose sight of.  Nevertheless there are some people who have
no problem with the clalim of mitzvot but have difficutly with pratim
and we find others who are so caught up in the dikdukim that they lose
all sight of the clalim.

How can this trap be avoided and why was shmitta chosen as the example
of this lesson?  A Hasidic interpretation of a Talmudic passage: "harbe
asu KRabi Shhimon bar Yochai vlo hitzlichu" [many attempted to keep
chumrot (sic) LIKE Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and were not successful]-they
did not succeed because their actions were only similar but not the
same.  They went though the motions-imitated the dikdukim- but lost
sight of the clalim that were foremost in Rabi Shimon's mind.  The true
gadol appriciates the clalim so much that he uses dikdukim (chumrot, if
you will) as the "kli" (vessel) through which to express his attachment
to the essence of the mitzva.  If the rest of us sometimes are so caught
up in dikdukim that we lose sught of the clalim, then it is unlikely
that we will succeed in attempting to achieve spiritual greatness.  

Rav Amital also suggested that until a generation ago most Jews were
better judges of their own spiritual character and were more able to
chose appropriate dikdukim for themselves-appropriate meaning
appropriate for creating a healthy balance between clalim and dikdukim.
Why shmitta as the archtype?  In Trachtate Sanhedrin 39a we learn that
the purpose of shmitta is to teach us that the land belongs to Hashem
and not to us.  In the case of shmitta every dikduk,which limits our
freedom to do as we will on the land, is an embodyment of the clal noted
above.  The clalim and the dikdukim are in perfect symmetry and therefore
this mitzva is the perfect example of the point the Torat Cohanim is
trying to make-that there is a balance between clalim and pratim
vdikdukim that we should not lose sight of.

Joseph M. Winiarz, Allon Shevut


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 9 May 94 20:46:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Davening when Making Early Shabbat

<In the summer, our shul davens at a specific time, chosen so that mincha
<falls out before plag and maariv after plag.  However, since there is a
<machlokes between the Magen Avrohom and the Vilna Gaon (I think, this is
<from memory) as to when plag occurs, when the Vilna Gaon's time (which I
<believe is the one usually used) comes out too late to continue, our rav
<switches the calculation to use the Magen Avrohom's calculation (though
<I may have the names reversed).  As a result, during the first and last
<part of the summer we can start mincha at 7:15 P.M., while in the middle
<we are going to start at 6:45 P.M.

This seems very problematic because we don't really hold like the Magen
Avraham. Are you sure to say Krias Shema before 3 hours according to the
Magen Avraham?  How about Sof Z'man Tefila?  Besides it would seem that
this machlokes the Gra and M"A is connected to the other machlokes of
when is tzeis hacochavim (nightfall).  If you hold like the Gra for
zmanei hayom that you count the hours of the day only until shkia
(sunset) then it would make no sense to hold like Rabbenu Tam that after
shkia there is still 3 1/4 mil of day left.  If that was true then it
should be counted in the 12 hours of the day.  Likewise, it makes sense
to say the M"A holds like R"T (since there is a 3 1/4 mil left of day
after shkia we count until tzeis).  If so, to hold like the M"A would
require you to hold like R"T and all the chumros it entails.  (Many
people wait 72 minutes after shabbos and say that is R"T zman but it
probably is not true because that assumes 2 things 1)an 18 minute mil 2)
the time is constant all year Both of these are very suspect for example
we know that astronomically twilight is longer at certain times of the
year and shorter at other times.  I will leave a full discussion of this
to some later time.

Ari Shapiro


From: Bruce Krulwich <krulwich@...>
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 11:36:09 -0400
Subject: Interpretation [sic]

Jeremy Nussbaum writes:

> Similarly, the 70 faces of the Torah is an expression of how the Torah
> encompasses all of life and every viewpoint.  There is a situation and a
> context in which every viewpoint and opinion is in accord with the Torah.

So if I want to interpret the Shma as polytheistic, that's in accord with

> In fact, ultimately, we cannot determine which interpretation is "the
> truth."  "Lo Bashamayim Hi," it is not in heaven and even in halacha we
> cannot go back and ask our Creator what we should do.  He has required us
> to discuss it among ourselves and reach a conclusion.

But that doesn't mean that any conclusion we reach, using any means we want
to, is a valid one.  The Gemorah in Kiddushin (in the Lamed's) says (from
memory): "Anyone who looks only at the literal meaning of Torah is wrong, but
anyone who adds anything of his own is an Apikores."  If we ignore the
mesorah, and only take things literally, the results are simply wrong, but
that doesn't give us the right to add pshat that we didn't get by mesorah.

The same sentiment was also said by R' Solovetchick regarding Jewish hashkofa
[philosophy], that an approach to any subject is only a valid Jewish approach
if it is completely consistant with the halachic mesorah.

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 10 May 94 11:22:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Joseph and Interpreting Dreams

I don't think Joseph's interpreting the butler's & baker's dreams were
the source for his "hubris" here, regardles what his language was.  I
think it's the fact that he asked the butler to remember him.  In
other words, he placed trust in the butler to spring him from prison,
rather than trust God to do it.


From: Aryeh Blaut <ny000592@...>
Date: Sun, 1 May 1994 02:03:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Lecha Dodi

>In terms of 'direction', West is the preferred direction for
>example when turning to say the last verse of Friday night's
>L'Chah Dodi: _hashechina b'maa'rav_ (The Divine Presence is in
>the West.

We face west (or the entrance of the synagogue) at this point in 
Kabbalas Shabbas because we are welcoming in the Shabbas Queen.  Any 
host turns to face his/her guest upon entrance.  I can't think of any 
other time that we do not face Har Habi'es.

Aryeh Blaut


From: <dlm@...> (David Lee Makowsky)
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 16:13:31 -0400
Subject: postponing a circumcision

	Does anyone know why a mohel would refuse to perform a bris
for health reasons even though the pediatrician says it is ok?

	I was told by the mohel who will perform my sons bris that
halachically, they have to be more stricter than what a doctor would be.
I am somewhat confused by this, as he is using the Billy-Rubin (sp?) as
his guidline.  After the first Billy-Rubin he said it was too high (it
went down today and he said we are on for tomorrow) even though the
doctor said it could go on.

	The reason I am confused is that he told me he is hallachically
obligated to be stricter then the doctor.  Now, if the health concern is
the reason for postponing th Bris, and the doctor says there is no
health problem, why postpone?  Since the Billy-Rubin obviously was not
around when the halchas surrounding the postponement of a bris were
being formulated, there can't be anything key about a certain
Billy-Rubin level in the halacha, or can there be?



From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Mon, 2 May 1994 09:15:16 -0400
Subject: The Spirit of Pessach

>--Robert Book    <rbook@...>
                        ^^^^   can you attend Rice during pessach ?

>This may be, but in there case there could well be a very clear
>distinction between banning "potatoes" as such, versus banning
>"bread-like and cake-like products made with potato flour in place or
>wheat flour."

Then why not ban making flour. From whatever it is made. That is not the ban
however, the ban is on what could be made into flour. Kitniot.

The Chayeh Adam wanted to ban potatoes, and was told (as the story goes)
"If you ban potatoes you will take away the Chayeh Adam [life of man]". Even
so there is a "chumra" among some people in Jerusalem not to eat potatoes on
pessach.  For some reason this is restricted to people over the age of 8
years old.

>If this is really the reason for the ban on kitniyot, then perhaps
>those who prohibit kitniyot proper (rice, corn) but not kitniyot
>derivatives (corn oil, corn syrup, etc.) are correct.

Any and all reasons given for banning kitniyot do not make any sense when
applied to derivatives.  That is why kitniot derivatives were never included
in the ban.

>If the purpose of banning kitniyot is to preserve the "spirit of
>Pesach," then shouldn't the ban be on bread-like products regardless

When kosher for passover potato chips were first introduced, way back in the
50's people complained that it violated the "spirit of Pesach",  then Coke
became kosher for pessach and the entire "spirit of pessach" was destroyed.
Until then the "spirit of pessach" was one of deprivation, of doing without
any "snacks" or soft drinks at all.  Does anybody want to preserve that ?
Does anybody else even remember that ?

To my grandparents A"h the "spirit of pessach" was even worse, it was
"fleishig".  They didn't even own milk dishes for pessach (and that was in
the U.S.).



From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Tue, 10 May 94 17:40:55 +0300
Subject: Zionism

     Several people have commented about various groups being anti or
a-zionist.  I am not completely sure I know what the phrase means in
today's society. First many non-religious Jews live in Israel because
they were born there but have no special feelings for the country, are
they zionists? More to the point many of the haredim participate in the
government on sorts of levels. Shas in particular is active in Israeli
politics while Degel haTorah has held positions in the previous
governments. I have many charedi relatives in Israel and get the strong
impression that they consider Israel as "their" country and certainly
feel different than a Haredi Jew in Boro Park. I don't think that many
haredim (including Rav Schach) would really prefer to have the British
rule Israel rather than a non-religious Jewish government. Rav Schach
has spoken publically about returning/not-returning lands to the Arabs.
Such a position would be meaningless if he really didn't feel attached
to the land not just a resident but also as an owner. I am not thrilled
either with the present Israeli government on religious grounds besides
political questions.
     Artscroll makes a big deal about using Eretz Yisrael instead of
Israel in their talmud and other books. In Israel I find that much of
this anti-zionism is more formal that real (I am referring to "mainline"
haredim not Netura Karta etc.).
     Mizrachi was founded by rabbis who looked to Israel as a refuge for
the Jews scattered around the globe not necessarily as "reshit tzimachat
geulatenu". Are only the followers of Rav Kook who believe that Medinat
Yisrael is the beginning of the messianic era the true zionists? Or
perhaps is zionism measured by saying Hallel on Yom ha-azmaut (which
means a tiny percentage of the country are zionists). Personally I
prefer the non-zionist Haredi living in Israel to the religious zionist
living in America (I fully agree with the comments of Aryeh Frimer about
legitimate and non-legitimate reasons for not making Aliyah).
     In summary, I feel that the labels (pro- anti- a-) zionist are
easier to use than to define.



End of Volume 13 Issue 11