Volume 14 Number 18
                       Produced: Thu Jul 14 12:12:39 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chillul Hashem and Jewish Paranoia
         [Sam Juni]
Chilul Hashem
         [Esther R Posen]
         [David Steinberg]
Hillul Hashem
         [Meyer Rafael]


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jul 1994 14:21:39 -0400
Subject: Chillul Hashem and Jewish Paranoia

In connection with fraud in Yeshivas, there have been some postings
which invoke the idea of Chillul Hashem with the intention of impressing
upon observant Jews to be "holier than thou." I have two reactions to
this edict -- one sociolo/political and one theological/ideological --
which lead me in two different directions.  Let me outline them

The "Galus Mentality" has been a label used by Jews to describe a
groveling weak-spined stereotype of the Jew whose vantage point is one
of weakness.  I remember Rabbi Bergman giving a lucid presentation of
this construct at a Mizrachi Convention long ago.  I think it was
Nachman Bialik who stated that Israel will become a bona fide nation
only when it will have its own prostitutes and its own criminals.
Ideology aside (until the next paragraph), there is much to be said for
this position.  Jews, as citizens of a democratic society, have as much
right to be bums, crooks, degenerates, and criminals as do other
citizens.  Participation in such activities gives the host society no
right to then turn on Jews as a group and to exclude them from their
legal/ cultural process.  Political democracy, further, implies that any
citizen is able to distinguish him/herself socially and morally without
society invoking his/her ethnicity or religion in its evaluation or

Theologically, I see a different picture.  G-d intended Jews to be a
"light onto the nations," which translates into an edict to behave in a
moral and and ethical fashion as a living example onto others.  Immoral
behavior, thus, represents a failure in this mission.

I have misgivings, despite the latter mandate of being "an example"
about buying the Chillul Hashem argument when pertaining to the view of
non-Jewish society of Jews who behave unethically.  I think the
Hallachic notion that Chillul Hashem applies only to the desecration of
G-d's image AMONG JEWS can be taken as applying that we could not care
less, ideologically, what the non- Jew thinks of us. (Practically, of
course, we do care if there will be reper cussions.)

Failure to behave in an ethical fashion, and thus not fulfilling the
mission of being a guiding example to the non-Jew, is a strictly
intrinsic Jewish failing. It is not a fault which is available to the
non-Jews with which to fault us.  It is analogous to the case when Jews
fail to keep Shabbos, which is also non of anybody's business but our

Perhaps what my argument boils down to is that while behaving ethically
is certainly a Kiddush Hashem, in that we are demonstrating Hashem's
ideals to the world, behaving unethically merely makes us one of the
crowd -- not a Chillul Hashem.

I can fathom an  exception  to this formula.
        In societies (definitely not contemporary, but perhaps these
        existed in the past) where Jews were seen by all as Hashem's
        official standard- bearers, then immoral behavior might be taken
        as a message that "God's people are in fact unethical, with the
        (ludicrous!) implication that such is indeed G-d's plan. This
        would cause non-Jews to behave unethically.

I am not at all convinced, however, how to react when society wrongfully
decides to characterize immoral behavior of individual Jews as
representing the Jewish way.  This society never sees the Jew as
standard bearer for G-d way.  It will invoke the ethnic category only
when it suits a bigoted "put-down."  Is this Chillul Hashem, or do we
say "We don't care what the bigot will say"?

 From a linguistic perspective, the question of the applicability of
Chillul Hashem to Jewish scandals (in cases where Jews will be impugned)
can be phrased as: Does the construct refer as well to desecrateing the
name of Jews, or does it refer literally to desecrating the name of G-d.

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (212) 995-3474
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: 12 Jul 94 01:43:31 GMT
Subject: Re: Chilul Hashem

Chilul Hashem

Arnie Lustiger's post gave the Posens some food for thought.  I thank Rabbi 
Adlerstien for his eloquent response.  There is much to say on the topics 
Arnie raised, and, as is usual on this forum, much is being said.  

After a while I realized that my interpretation of Arnie's logic went 
something like this:

1) Yeshivas don't encourage their attendees to go to college and pursue a 

2) Most Yeshiva graduates don't end up with a viable way to make a living.

3) They certainly don't have enough money to donate to their Alma Maters.

4) Their destitute Alma Maters end up having to steal, and engage in 
fraudulent activities to remain viable.

This is faulty logic (my very educated sister who is pursuing her
doctorate in philosophy confirms this.) Points 1-3 may be valid but they
do not support the conclusion in point 4.  People and institution steal
because they are crooked and they don't think they will get caught!!  If
they are jewish, and orthodox to boot and they do get caught they are
crooks who create a tremendous chilul hashem.

I believe there was some discussion on this forum about whether cheating
from the government was part of the jewish psyche because of centuries
of persecution of jews in Europe etc.  If this is true, or there is some
other reason why we (orthodox jews) seem to be hitting the news too
often with allegations of illegal monetary dealings, we need to clean up
our act.  As Hayim Hendeles points out, the Wall Street Journal article
was based soley on allegations.  However, we, the Orthodox Jewish
Community, should have the ability to say "they don't even write such
stories about us".

Arnie also decries the yeshivas for not pushing more of their students
to pursue professional degrees.  If only the yeshivas would encourage
more of their graduates to pursue a secular education, he claims, the
yeshivas could become self-supporting.  Wrong again, IMHO.

The Highland Park/Edison Orthodox Jewish community, where both Arnie and
myself reside at the moment, must have a pretty high percentage of
"professionals".  I do not know of another jewish community that would
beat our ratio (of "professional to non-professional).  As far as I can
tell, most of us struggle to pay our mortgage, tuitions, two car
payments, insurance costs and of course camp fees.  If there is a few
dollars left over, we remodel our kitchens or add a much needed extra
bedroom.  Usually we can barely make ends meets (admittedly, not very
modest ends).

Maybe we've upped the "ends" too far.  Tuition at any of our (right,
left or middle of the road) institutions costs upward of $4000 a year.
Day camp costs over $1000 and overnight camp costs twice that.  Our
children dress to kill.  (At least they don't kill to dress - we are not
a TOTAL sociological failure.)  As I chauffer my children to parties in
gyms, theaters, bowling alleys and roller skating rinks I wonder what
happened to the "shabos parties" we called birthday parties when I grew
up. (AKA the good old days.)

Face it.  As Arnie pointed out, yeshivas have relied on the really rich
in the past.  I believe they will need to continue to do so.  Being
professional almost guarantees that you'll never really be wealthy.
Where I grew up (Boro Park and Williamsburg) there were many chassideshe
yidden who could hardly speak English who had in their employ "mine
accountant, mine lawyer and mine architect".  Being professional is nice
for your mother "my son the lawyer, my son the doctor etc.," but it will
not earn you enough money to thumb your nose in the face of your alma
mater.  Institutions are not supported by professionals because
professionals can't support them, not because they don't want to.
Professionals are not usually rich they are just educated.  Rich people
sell widgets.  Professional read this forum.

Esther Posen


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jul 1994 02:01:04 +0100
Subject: Chumras

I read with interset the two posts on Chumras in last weeks m-j.  Rather
than address them on a point by point basis I'd like to propose an
alternate view.

Chumra - that is going beyond the minimum requirements of halacha - is 
neither new nor anti-halachic.  It is FUNDEMENTAL to halachic Judaism.

First of all it is generally difficult to discern if someone is acting in 
a given manner because he is being machmir.  In many instances his LOR 
may pasken (decide) that way.  Halacha bezman hazeh (today) is not 
uniform; there exists a vast divergence in many areas amongst poskim.

A chumra is something done/not done by one who wishes to go Lifnim
meshuras hadin (beyond the requirements of halacha).  By definition, a
machmir must know the din (law) and make a conscious decision to do more
than required,

Dovid hamelech in Psalms 34 gives a prescription for 'one who yearns for
life' Sur Ma'Ra V'Aseh Tov - avoid evil (deeds) and do good (deeds).
there are two types of chumras - both equally valid: Sur Ma'ra and Aseh

Sur Ma'Ra - avoid bad deeds.  the notion of making a Syog - a barrier -
to avoid doing an aveyra is as old as the halachic tradition.  The
Talmud is full of Gezerot instituted to prevent one for doing a sin.  As
an individual, one may go beyond the halacha and take upon ones self to
heed a Daas Yachid - the opinion of an individual decisor - realizing
all the while that as a community we don't pasken that way.
Alternatively, one may decide not to accept a Kulah (lieniency).  For
example the Igros Moshe YD 1:47 discusses milk from non-Jewish-certified
companies.  He paskens that it is acceptable but goes on to say that a
Baal Nefesh SHOULD be macmir and that rav Moshe himself was machmir in
that way.

Furthermore, certain Chumras of that sort are institutionalized in the
minhagim of certain communities: Kemach Yoshon, Gebrokst and not Mishing
(eating ouside ones own home) on Pesach.

Aseh Tov.  Here too, the concept is truly ancient.  The Talmud tells us 
that for Terumah one can get by with one grain for a pile but that one 
can choose between one in sixty / fifty / forty  i.e. one can decide how 
much to be machmir.  

Halacha determines the minimum requirement for the observant jew.  The
jew can decide whether he wants to do more - knowing that he is
exceeding the minimum requirement.  Furthermore, in certain instances
one may decide that wants to ensure that he is Yotza L'Chol Ha'Deyos -
he meets the requirements of various decisors in his performance of a
mitzvah.  I have seen people in Yerushalaim for example, go to various
shuls on Rosh Hahsanna to hear shofar according to multiple customs.
Esrog is another example.  The concept of Hadar - beauty - which is
subject to individual interpretation is inherent in the mitzvah.  I also
know of people, who, after being yotze with their esrog, take other
esrogim to improve the odds that they are using a kosher esrog.  Kamma
Chaviva Mitzva Alehem - how much they love the miztva.

None of the above is contrary to the injunction of Bal Tosef - not
adding to the count of mitzvahs.  Rambam in Yad, Shoftim, Mamrim 2:9
says you are only in violation of the injuction if one claims that
something which is not biblical (eg meat of fowl with milk) is biblical.
See also the discussion in Sfer HaChinuch 454 where he (contrary to the
Rambam above) limits it to Injunctions.  Furthermore he specifically
discusses taking the Esrog multiple times on Succos or blowing the
Shofar multiple times on Rosh Hashanna (I assume without a bracha on
subsequent cycles) with the intention of being Yotze with each cycle of
taking/blowing and sees no issue with that.

To summarize, I believe that one should respect a machmir as someone who
is displying Chassidus in the classical sense of piety.  The macmir
should understand that those who do not adaopt the same stringency is no
less meritorious.  Finally to quote the end of Dovid Hamelech's
prescription in Psalms 34:15 Bakesh Sholom V'Rodfehu - seek peace and
chase after it - find ways to minimise disagreements amongst jews not to
highlight the differences.


From: Meyer Rafael <mrafael@...>
Date: Sat, 9 Jul 1994 19:28:44 
Subject: Hillul Hashem

|From: <SZN2758@...> (Barak Moore)

|I, like Arnold Lustiger, and (I hope) all religious Jews, am sickened
|and revolted by the recent articles exposing "frum" corruption. I also
|tend to agree that these incidents are indicative of systemic problems.

Bravo. This touches a excellent point; although the term 'race' is an

I have often been amused to see how the notion of 'left' and 'right' as
we knew in the cold war era has become anachronistic in modern politics.
I believe that we have a similar problem with non-meaningful identifying
slogans within Yahadut.

There is a widely held belief that 'frumkeit' is an important index of
measuring people's worth.  But traditional terminology and social
reality have drifted apart over the years.  The true correctness (ie
"classical halacha and ethics") has (in some cases) become neglected and
replaced with an emphasis on external trivialities. That such occurance
should have occurred even once and been reported in the mass media
should have given rise to much soul-searching and many drashot.

My feeling is that the fact that these unfortunate events have occured
in the *haredi* world greatly emphasizes the words of CHZAL:

Rabban Gamaliel, the son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, says, "Splendid is the
study of Torah when combined with DERECH ERETZ, because toil in both of
them puts sin out of mind..."

Avot 2:2
   Meyer Rafael                  
   Melbourne, Australia          voice +613-525-9204
   <mrafael@...>       fax +613-525-9109


End of Volume 14 Issue 18