Volume 13 Number 27
                       Produced: Mon May 23 18:02:32 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Academic Research
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Academic Research, back on track
         [Mitch Berger]
Manuscript of the Shulchan Arukh
         [Eli Turkel]
Torah, Technology and the Internet
         [Dave Curwin]


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 94 00:17:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Academic Research

	Date: Sun, 22 May 1994 12:38:24 -0400
	>From: Michael Broyde <RELMB@...>
	Subject: Re: Academic Reseach

	 A person who is paid to testify about something that relates
	 to kosher or not kosher or something that is independently
	verifiable is not giving formal testimony to which the normal
	rules of disqualafication apply to, the first because of *aid
	echad ne'eman beisurim* [one witness is beleived in matters of
	issur (can't think of a good translation).  Mod.] and the
	second one because normally, *milta diavidita leglua* [a matter
	that is expected to be revealed, i.e. a matter that can be
	checked up on. Mod.] is not called formal testimony; thus a
	mashgiach is believed and so is a person reading from an
	ancient manuscript that is still extant and can be looked at by
	others.  ...

While I agree with you that with regard to "aid eichad ne'man
be'isurim", many of the strict rules regarding formal testimony do not
apply; I do not accept your assertion (without proof) that payment does
not invalidate such a witness

Reviewing the Talmudic discussion of cases where a single witness
suffices (Yevamos 87b), the Talmud includes a woman, or even
second-hand testimony, etc. All the cases, *as near as I can tell*, are
cases where there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the testimony,
except for a technicality. Certainly women can be assumed to be honest;
the Torah however  still prohibits their testimony in court. So the
Talmud tells us that in "informal" (for lack of a better term)
cases, we can accept a woman. Since there was nothing wrong wit

But you are going one step beyond this. Someone paid to testify
is *in the Torah's definition* subject to cloudy judgement and
unreliable testimony. I don't see any indication that such
testimony can be accepted in informal cases.

As far as your second point is concerned, you assert that a Mashgiach
is believed because we can check up on him. I find this difficult
to accept. Call up Coca Cola, and tell them you would like to
verify the Kashruth of the ingredients yourself - see how far you
get. I suspect that you will get the same reaction at any large
commercial plant. They probably have enough trouble with the
Mashgiach himself, that they don't want you messing around
in their factories.

I believe I can make the same argument with regard to the ancient
manuscripts, that you cited. Take for example the Dead Sea Scrolls.
My understanding is that it almost requires an act of Congress to
get permission to look at it. Only a tiny fraction of scholars
who wished to examine it, were allowed to do so.

Thus, unfortunately, I cannot accept your answer as it stands.

Hayim Hendeles

P.S. If I haven't muddied up the waters enough already, here's a
real monkey wrench! The Meharsha in Yevamos 62a asks why Moses
did not break the Tablets until *after* he had witnessed the Golden
Calf himself, despite G-d had already informed him while still on
Mt. Sinai? His first answer, based on a Midrash, is that it was
forbidden for Moses to act upon G-d's testimony, since G-d alone
is insufficient.

(His second answer is much easier to swallow. It was much worse
witnessing something 1st hand, vs. hearing about it.


From: <mberger@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 14:52:28 -0400
Subject: Academic Research, back on track

I disagree with Hayim Handeles' quick dismissal of the crux of the
academic research question. He wrote at the begining of this discussion
> While this is certainly a legitimate question, obviously, it is not one
> that can be practically discussed in this forum. The precedent of
> destroying accepted tradition is so dangerous (as history will verify),
> that such questions can only be dealt with by the Gedolei Yisroel
> (leading Torah scholars). 

> However, there is a prerequisite issue, which I believe may yield
> a fruitful discussion on this forum.

Well, most of us lack the authority to "practically discuss" the subject
of the acceptability of research. We're not poskim! You present
"fruitful" and "practical" as though they are alternatives, and I don't
see why. Most of Sha"s is spent considering opinions we do not follow.

As I see it, the actual transition from "p'sak" to "halachah" is done by
Klal Yisroel [the Jewish People] as a whole. Nothing seems etched in
stone until it becomes common practice.

More recently (v13n21) , Joel Goldberg asks:
> This approach means that any research is worthless, because the scholars
> of old were never ordinary people with the same reactions, blind spots,
> social pressures as we have. They are g'dolim, and because they are
> g'dolim they have ruach hakodesh.
> Another thought. Does no one today have ruach hakodesh?

I would say that the nation as a whole does. Perhaps this is the meaning
of "Yisrael, vi'Oraisa viQudsha Brich Hu chad" [the Jewish people, the
Torah, and the Holy One Blessed Be He, are one]. Thus, even if the
Chazon Ish's understanding about electricity is wrong, the fact that
this opinion prevailed shows that it is "correct" - regardless of its
basis. (I don't know if the word I'm looking for is "correct", "more
meaningfull", or "more valuable".)

I made a similar comment earlier about the relative authority of the
three different versions of the Iqarei Emunah. Although the Rambam's
clearly has the backing of the greatest authority, it is the Ani Ma'amin
and Yigdal that was accepted by the people.

As an aside to Joel's post:
According to R. Shim'on Shkop, as repeated to me by R. Dovid Lifshitz zt"l
maggots ARE spontaneously generated. Halachah doesn't consider anything too
small to be seen. The maggot at birth is too small to be seen. Thus, it is
the rotting meat that it grows in that causes it to halachically exist. The
maggot egg is no more a halachic concern than the amoeba we all drink. 


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 23 May 94 11:33:24 +0300
Subject: Manuscript of the Shulchan Arukh

     Hayim Hendeles writes:

> Consider the case of an academian who claims (based on an expensive and
> extensive analysis) to have found the original manuscript of the
> Shulchan Oruch (Code of Jewish Law) buried in the archives of the
> University of Timbuktu. Lo-and-behold, the manuscript contains a
> "halacha" that a Mikva (ritual bath) must be painted blue.  So, this
> academian claims that the texts of our Shulchan Oruch are missing this
> extra law, and henceforth all Mikva's must be painted blue

     This case is not as absurd as Hayim thinks it is. In fact the Shulchan
Arukh is one of the first seforim to have been brought straight to the
printing press without any manuscripts (except the authors). Hence, Rav
Yosef Karo saw and approved the original printing. Furthermore, copies of
this original printing still exist. There are currently several organizations
that are coming out with new versions of the Shulchan Arukh with many
corrections and other improvements. There are rumors that in fact there
are substantial errors in the current editions compared with the original.
Since I have not personally seen them I find it a little hard to believe
since the early commentators (e.g. Sma) seem to have had access to the
original printing.
     In any case for askenazim it is not a serious problem since the
"final" psak is in accordance with the various commentators and not
necessarily with the Remah. However, for sefardim who generally hold
like Rav Yosef Karo this could present a serious problem. What if it
is found that original psak of Rav Yosef Karo differs from that given
in today's version. One need not be as dramatic as to consider a blue
mikvah. The simple addition of a small word like "not" can have drastic
     This issue has nothing to do with academics versud rabbis.
However, I am confused by the whole discussion of academics receiving
money. The gemara in Baba Kamma (recent daf yomi) states that a physician
who heals for free is worth what you pay for him. Thus, a doctor is
worthy precisely because he gets money for his services and so is
     As to the hechser business it is indeed a serious problem. One of
the major complaints against the hechsher of the rabbanut in Israel is
that frequently the mashgiach gets paid from the company and so his
living depends on his giving the hechsher. In the US the OU frequently
uses local rabbis to give a hechsher on a plant outside of New York.
Though the rabbi is given a salary from the OU nevertheless if he takes
the hechsher away from the company he loses his (second) salary.
An even bigger problem exists with small organizations that can less
afford to lose customers than the OU. Businesses could have a major
impact on the supervising organization. In the early days of the
chaf-K there were complaints that Rabbi Senter was the entire organization 
and too prone to outside influences. In response he appointed a rabbinical
supervisor completely divorced from the business aspects of the organization.
I am not sure that this is true for other "mom and pop" organizations.

     In Israel a major problem is the presence of political pressures rather
than monetary pressures. It is easy for the eida ha-charedit to say that
they give a hechsher only on the highest level accepting every chumra.
For a local rabbanut this is almost impossible. A number of rabbanuts have
gotten around this by offering two levels of hechsher,  regular and
mehadrin. Thus, for example, gelatin is acceptable in the regular hechsher
but not the mehadrim hechsher. In my town, Raanana, every hechsher states
explicitly if it relies on the "heter mechirah" or "otzar bet din" (so
called shemittah le-chumrah). However, my personal experience is that in Israel
too often hasgachot are given without any indication that they rely on
controversial leniencies or else apply only to some groups and not others.
Thus, not all products in Israel they contain kitniyot are labeled as such
for Pesach. Some merely state "kosher for Pesach". There have been
similar complaints in reverse against the eda ha-charedit. Their wines give
no indication whether they are usable by sefardim (who demand a higher
percentage of wine rather than water). Similar the eda ha-charedit has refused
to indicate which of the canned goods are from the sixth year produce and
which are from shemittah from Arab produce since they feel it makes no
difference. The fact that it does make a difference according to most
"Bnei-brak" people is none of their business.




From: <6524dcurw@...> (Dave Curwin)
Date: Sun, 22 May 1994 14:28:03 -0400
Subject: Torah, Technology and the Internet

In the Summer 1993 issue of Tradition, Rabbi Michael S. Berger writes in
his article "RABBINIC AUTHORITY: A Philosophical Analysis" (page 76):
"Knowledge of a wide range of previous material, as well as a keen
ability to subject the material to the surgical tools of logic, were the
ideals of the academy two thousand years ago, as they are today. This is
precisely the significance of the terms 'sinai' (i.e. breadth) and 'oker
harim' (i.e.  depth of analysis) which we encounter in the Talmud
(Brachot 64a). Although the Talmud is debating which should be
considered of greater value, it is clear that both qualities are
essential in the bet midrash. But aside from that axiological question,
these two qualities, once possesed, grant the scholar authoritative
status in the community. To be sure, with each succesive generation,
there was always more material to memorize; the advent of printing and
the accessability of books only meant that one had to remember where to
look it up, instead of remembering all the details of the position or
arguement itself. (Surely those with photographic memories, such as the
Vilna Gaon or the Rogotchover, were thus rendered even more impressive
figures, and hence authoritative, with possible shades of charismatic
authority as well.) But, by then, there were so many opinions and works
to consult that an exceptional memory remained and continues to be a
prerequisite to authoritative status in the community of those who
adhere to Jewish Law. It remains to be seen how computer technology will
impact on the system. Anyone with a telephone modem can gain almost
instant bekiut in a subject as previously obscure references appear on
the screen together with better known sources."
	Rabbi Berger brings up a very important question: What is the
halachic impact and significance of computer technology in the realm of
psak and limud tora?  How should students and scholars view the internet
and CD-ROM? Will this make studying easier, increasing the availability
of sources for limud tora, or will it make it too easy, putting our
level of scholarship much lower than of previous generations?
	The grandson of Rabbi Menachem Kasher, the author of the Tora
Shleima, Rabbi Ephraim Greenbaum, gives us an answer in his introduction
to the newly published Megila Shleima. Although he does not refer to
computer technology per se, we can make conclusions from his words.
 	He quotes the Gemara in Masechet Shabat (138b): "'Men shall
wander from sea to sea and from north to east to seek the word of the
Lord, but they shall not find it. (Amos 8:12)' ... And how will I have
it be that they will search for the word of the Lord and not find it -
they will not find a clear halacha and a clear teaching in one place."
	He then quotes the Maharal in Tiferet Yisrael (chapter 56): "For
the Tora is the form of Israel and as they are themselves, so is the
Tora, and when God decreed upon Israel galut, and they are dispersed all
over the world, so you will not find a clear halacha in one place, as
Israel is not." In other words, if Israel is scattered in the galut, so
divrei Tora are also scattered.
	His grandfather, R' Kasher, writes in his introduction to Sarei
Elef (note 2) that there have been 7 periods in the history of Israel.
The period of the Achronim, according to R' Kasher, ended with the Shoa.
But we are now in a new period, the generation of the M'chansim, the
gatherers. This generation is occupied with gathering and collecting all
of the material in Tora Shel Ba'al Peh. Numerous projects deal with
this: the Tora Shleima, the Encyclopedia Talmudit, Otzar HaPoskim, Otzar
HaGeonim, and more.
	R' Greenbaum goes on to say that this is the flip side of the
Maharal; when Israel is in galut and dispersed, so is the Tora. But now,
as we are witnessing the ingathering of the people of Israel to one
place, we are also seeing the Tora gather into one place.
	Rav Kasher wrote his introduction in the 1950's. He surely could
not have envisioned the techonological advances of only the last few
years. But it seems clear, that this new technology is part of the
process of Geula. Rav Soloveitchik wrote in Kol Dodi Dofek that he is
"inclined to believe that the United Nations organazation was created
specifically for this purpose - in order to carry out the mission which
divine providence had set for it...Our sages, of blessed memory, already
expressed the view that at times 'rain' descends 'for a single person,'
or for a single blade of grass."  Perhaps all of this techology is only
for the purpose of having a "halacha brura b'makom echad". And I think
this is the reason that "Ki m'tzion te'tze tora, u'dvar hashem
m'yerushalayim" is part of the prophecy of geula.


End of Volume 13 Issue 27