Volume 13 Number 34
                       Produced: Tue May 31 18:40:40 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cholov Yisroel and other Chumras
         [Bruce) Krulwich]
Chumrot (3)
         [Michael Lipkin, Eli Turkel, Rabbi Freundel]
Chumrot And Attitudes
         [Esther R Posen]
Chumrot and Kula (Minimum Standards)
         [Janice Gelb]
Telling Children about Television
         [Francine S. Glazer]


From: <krulwich@...> (Dov (Bruce) Krulwich)
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 16:50:43 -0400
Subject: Cholov Yisroel and other Chumras

Dr. Parnes writes, in response to Esther Posen:

> > I explained to him that hashem told all people that they don't have to
> > eat cholov yisroel, but that we think he will like it better if we do.
> I think this is the gist of the issue. I know you believe that you are doing
> all these "better" things, but I don't. I don't accept the fact that chalav
> yisrael is necessarily better.

I'm curious "al mi lismoch" (on whom to rely) for this opinion.

Given (a) that we have a chiyuv [obligation] from the Mishna to eat
Cholov Yisroel, and given that (2) the notion on Cholov Stam that we
(myself included) rely on is a modern innovation, and given that (3) the
posek on whom we (myself included) rely for this says explicitly that
people should make extreme effort to eat Cholov Yisroel, and that he
gave the psak he gave because at the time Cholov Yisroel was largely
unavailable, and that the preference for eating (as it were) Cholov
Yisroel is so much that, for example (in a tshuva), a school should take
money away from educational programs in order to feed the students
Cholov Yisroel, it strikes me as hard to say that you don't accept that
Cholov Yisroel is in any sense "better."  (How's that for a run-on

> This is not to imply that there is no halachic basis for chalav
> ysrael, but chalav yisrael should not imply no halachic basis for
> chalav stam in this country.

I agree with this wholeheartedly.  But that's seperate from what you say
above.  There are many chumras given in classical halachic sources as
chumras, which I agree with you should definitely not be the defining
basis for "frumkeit," but nonetheless are stated by our gedolim of every
generation as chumras that "a yiras shamayim should do," or that "it
will be for them a blessing."  Any appraoch that we take to evaluating
chumras should take into account the mesorah we have for numerous
chumras of this sort, that are definitely considered "better" practice
in some sense.

Let's also not forget the Gemorah that says that (as I remember it)
anyone who takes all strict views is a fool, but anyone who takes all
lenient views is an apikores.

Bruce Krulwich	Associate Scientist
Center for Strategic Technology Research	Andersen Consulting -- CSTaR
<krulwich@...>				100 S. Wacker Drive
(312) 507-1895					Chicago, IL 60606


From: <msl@...> (Michael Lipkin)
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 13:25:49 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

[It does look like Highland Park has a high level of participation on
this topic. Mod.]

I've had the opportunity to discuss the minimum standards issue with
both Esther Posen (via direct e-mail) and Jerry Parnes (in person) and I
think we basically agree.  Jerry quotes Esther and says in MJ 13:30.

>> On to minimum standards... I believe they exist.  Isn't anybody who keeps
>> Shabbos, Kosher and Taharat Hamishpacha considered "frum"?

>   So do I, though Michael Lipkin seemed to take issue with that notion. I am
>hoping that I misread him. Yet it is my impression that keeping shabbat,
>kashrut and taharat hamishpacha is insufficient evidence to a large segment
>of the religious community in places like Boro Park, Williamsburg, Crown
>Heights, Monsey, etc..

(Note: I am hereby factoring out the IMHO from the following paragraphs)

I agree that the "big 3" that Esther refers to is a minimum threshold
for being considered to be orthodox.  However, I don't think that's what
we are dealing with here.  I believe our discussion is centered in the
arena of Jews who are committed to striving for excellence in their
observance of Torah and Mitzvot.  It is within this arena that I do not
think one can establish minimum standards for halachic observance.  Yes,
giving the appearance of observing Shabbos and Kashrut let's one into
the "club", yet someone can appear to be generally observant in these
areas and still, intentionally or unintentionally, be violating many of
the myriad of Halachot that comprise them.  It is for these Halachot and
the thousands more not included in the "big 3", that I believe it is
impossible to set uniform minimum standards.

I've learned a lot from the discussion of the chumra issue and think I
may have even answered my own question asked in MJ 13:5, "isn't there a
path of normative halacha?".  The answer is no.  Within the subset of
orthodox Jews who are truly committed to "striving for Torah's goal" (a
phrase which should have special meaning to any "old" N.J. NCSYers out
there) there are infinite paths to that goal.  In order not to get blown
away by this variability of approach one needs to establish for himself
a guiding force to help him through the morass.  This force could be in
the form of a rav, a rebbe, a yeshiva, a movement, a sect, even a
self-styled hashkafa (philosophy), etc., all of course within halachic

I think problems arise when people, as is human nature, compare
themselves with those around them.  To most, but especially to those who
are not secure in their own approach, differences need to be
rationalized (if I remember my developmental psych I think this is
called cognitive dissonance).  One way to rationalize different
approaches is by finding inconsistencies with the "other" approach and
thereby discrediting that approach.  Hence the reason there is so much
of this business of pointing out other people's or group's deficiencies.
As intelligent adults, and not developing children, we should be able to
rise above our need to resolve our cognitive dissonance.  At least we
should realize that when we see inconsistencies in other people's
halachic behavior we are only seeing a few frames of a movie that is
years long and the only one capable of watching the entire movie is
Hashem.  We must learn to accept that there are legitimately disparate
approaches to serving Hashem, to work on improving our own deficiencies
(we've all got 'em) and becoming secure in our own approach, and not
concentrating on the deficiencies of others even, maybe especially, if
one of those deficiencies is that "they" try to discredit "us"!

Well, now that I've learned so much about myself I can kick my heels
together 3 times and head back to Kansas!


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Sun, 29 May 94 13:18:48 +0300
Subject: Chumrot

     What topic that confuses me with chumrot is how does one decide which
chumrot to take on. For example, I know of no group that says we should
take both Rav Yosef Karo (sefard) and the Remah (ahkenaz) and always take
the more stringent. Similarly the eda hacharedit in Jerusalem (which is
known for their chomrot) are very insistent on their halachot even when
other groups are more stringent. It sometimes seems to me that we are
telling future poskim that we value their opinion only if they find another
chumra. If they find a leniency they we respond that some else was more
stringent and we take that opinion.

     There is the story that Rav Chaim Soloveitchik did not put on teffilin
on Chol haMoed. His son, Rav Moshe, asked him whether he should at least 
put it on without a blesing since at least it is in doubt (safek). Rav
Chaim answered that for him there was no doubt that the opinion that 
teffilin should not be worn on chol hamoed was right. Even Chazon Ish,
who took into account many "safekot" was lenient when he felt that was
the right way. He was never stringent for the sake of being machmir.

      What bothers me most is the concept of "kim li". This basically states
that in any monetary dispute the one holding onto the property (muchzak)
can find some acharon who agrees with him and then the judge is stuck.
It basically takes away all inventiveness from the court. As long as one
(or possibly two) respected poskim hold a position all the rabbis in the
world are powerless against them until a Sanhedron is reestablished.


From: <Dialectic@...> (Rabbi Freundel)
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 16:44:13 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

In response to Esther Posen: what i find lacking from your responses is
the distinction between din, minhag and chumrah. To suggest that

   "I explained to him that hashem told all people that they don't have
   to eat cholov yisroel, but that we think he will like it better if we

is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature and origin of minhag in a
way that would ultimately require all Jews to keep every single minhag
that exists in every single community an impossible and
self-contradictory task.  Minhag reflects one community's understanding
of how it embodies certain values and ritual expressions. It is neither
better or worse than anybody elses. If G-d "likes" anything it is that
we remain true to the minhagim of our individual community (I exclude
here people of a stature to be able to make judgements on individual
minhagim). It is this type of approach that I think you should use with
your children Your approach, no matter how you soft sell it is creates
elitism and a sense of superiority which is inappropriate.  This is
different than encountring someone who violates a din. If there is a
clear violation then children need to know it while being cautioned to
continue to respect the people involved. Drawing the distinction between
actions and people here is all important. Proper understanding of the
halachik status of different things is critical to one functioning
correctly within the system.


From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: 24 May 94 12:53:04 GMT
Subject: Chumrot And Attitudes

In case I am presenting a situation that looks like all Jews are
intolerant I figured I should set the record straight.  My daughter
reported the other day that all her friends, when they make birthday
parties, are so nice to the two girls in the class who only eat/drink
cholov yisroel.  She explained that they buy the two of them "special"
ice cream and one friend didn't serve the ice cream cake she had bought
because she forgot to buy something else for the cholov yisroel crowd.
(I told my daughter that I hope she told her friend that this was



From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Thu, 26 May 1994 14:44:27 +0800
Subject: Re: Chumrot and Kula (Minimum Standards)

In mail.jewish Vol. 13 #16 Digest (sorry - I've been out of town!), 
Esther Posen says when discussing chumrot:

> Onto minimum standards... I believe they exist.  Isn't anybody who keeps
> Shabbos, Kosher and Taharat Hamishpacha considered "frum"?

Not really. If you add "davens at an egalitarian minyan and believes 
in them," I'm afraid the person would drop right off the "frumometer."

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 


From: <fglazer@...> (Francine S. Glazer)
Date: Tue, 24 May 94 11:46:32 EDT
Subject: Re:  Telling Children about Television

Jules Reichel says:
> Esther Posen's posting links a lot of different behaviors under the
> chumrot title. Category 1 are personal private acts affecting ones
> search for a deeper spirituality. These are generally more respected.
> Category 2 are the belief that God wants man to be ascetic. There is a
> claim that pain, difficulty, avoidance of the world, profound
> self-denial, primitivism, and needless customs and fences to guard such
> practices, are inherently beautiful. Sorting the categories is the human
> confusion. Esther apparently selected TV as one of the needed
> self-denials. It's her home. She should do as she wants. Her difficulty
> in rationalizing this behavior to her children is that it can't be done.
> It's a personal choice. I think that she should say, "I have lived. I
> have thought about life. This action will bring beauty to me. I do not
> urge you to do it.  Certainly don't do it for my sake. If by watching
> me, you too grow to see its beauty, then choose to do it. If not search
> life in your own way." Everything else will drag her into the claim of
> Category 2, I'm better than you.

I think there is another way to explain the decision not to have a TV
in one's home, and while I don't presume to know what Esther Posen's
rationale is, I do believe that many people who don't own a TV do so
(or rather, DON'T do so) because they don't want to be influenced by
the excessive amount of trash on TV, preferring to get their news from
other sources.  Such a decision could easily fit under Mr. Reichel's
"category 1".  (My own understanding of Judaism is that it is NOT an
ascetic religion, but in fact the opposite, so I'm not convinced that
category 2 as presented above is a wide-spread motivation for many
people.)  I think that parents who choose not to have televisions
might be able to explain to their children, certainly as they grow
older and more mature, that they (the parents) choose not to have a
television in the home for a variety of reasons: to avoid being
inundated with certain undesirable biases/mores/values/influences of
the surrounding culture; as part of their chinuch (education) of their
children; because in their opinion television is only a good way to
waste lots of time that could be better spent in other ways.

Fran Glazer
(Send in your glossary terms with translations, please!!)


End of Volume 13 Issue 34