Volume 14 Number 42
                       Produced: Sun Jul 24 21:00:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cheating in Grade-Curved Courses
         [Janice Gelb]
Free Will and the Akeida Test
         [Sam Juni]
Halacha vs. morality
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
High Costs
         [Harry Weiss]
Telz Yeshiva & Baalei-Batim
         [Saul Djanogly]
Yeshiva Tuition
         [Joe Weisblatt]
Yeshivot & Baalei-Batim
         [saul djanogly]


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 1994 11:07:49 +0800
Subject: Cheating in Grade-Curved Courses

Sam Juni writes:

> Before one concludes that when one cheats to get an A in a grade-quota
> class, one is also guilty of harming another, we need to consider one
> major qualification.  The decision to deprive the other student of his A
> just because I received (his) A, is the professor's decision. Indeed,
> the decision is based on my grade, but I did not take the grade from
> anyone, per se.
> To carry it to the extreme, why not argue that it is unethical to excell
> in such a class, for with my excelling I am causing another's grade to
> drop from an A to a B? 

The professor is not making a "decision" per se in a class graded on a
curve; the cutoff point is a function of mathematical analysis.  The
number of students who fall within the A range determined by that
analysis. So if you get a score that you don't deserve, you are taking
the place away in that set of students from the next highest scorer who
honestly achieved the score necessary to be placed in that set.

If you excel in such a class by dint of your own achievement without
cheating, you deserve to be in the set of students that have achieved
the A, so you deserve the A and the next highest student deserves the B
because that is where the curve falls. You are not taking anything away 
from him or her because you each are in the set in which you honestly 

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


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 1994 13:48:02 -0400
Subject: Free Will and the Akeida Test

Reading the Parshas Akeida recently, I was struck by some point which
exemplified for me some of the abstruse points in Free Will vs. G-d's
knowledge of the future.

Hashem tested Avram to see if he would consent to sacrifice his son.
Now, G-d clearly had a picture of all of Avram's motives and psychologi-
cal dynamics, and yet proceeded with the test. G-d also knew what Avram
will choose, since he knows the future, past, and present equally. G-d
also did not call off the exercize as soon as Avram agreed to proceed,
although Avram was a man of integrity and was not trying to bluff his
his way out. Here is what this all spells out to me.

1. Free will implies that behavior cannot be consistently predicted.
   Existing psychological dynamics do not foreclose consistently all

2. G-d's knowledge of the future is of the order of his knowledge of
   the present or the past. It is not that He predicts it; rather, he
   actually "observes" it without contraints to Time. (I believe this
   view, admittedly telegraphized, meshes with the Rambam's explanation
   of the Yediah/B'chira (knowledge/choice) paradox).

3. A reductionist psychologist would conceptualize a "test of faith" via
   a behavioral mandate, by positing that behavior is an indication of
   the strength of conviction.  This poses a problem vis-a-vis the above,
   since G-d could have accurately assessed Avram's strength of allegi-
   ance without needing to go throrugh the motions.  It seems that there
   is more to a "test" than divining the strength of underlying dynamics.
   Somehow, G-d is looking for an aspect which is being "created" only at
   the moment of the test.  That aspect, which I have a hard time grasp-
   ing is at the core of the free will concept.

   I cannot say that I am at home with the above, since I live and
breathe reductionism in my professional life. In addition, I still have
a problem with G-d's phrasing of His conclusion to the Akeida: "I now
realize that you fear G-d," which seems to imply that this was a test of
underlying belief.

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


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 1994 16:23:52 -0400
Subject: Halacha vs. morality

I agree with Dr. Juni about his point that there is a morality separate
from Halacha, and even beyond that which is called lifnim meeshuras
hadin (beyond the letter of the law) and even beyond the Ramban's
definition of Kedoshim Teeheyu, i.e., to abstain from that which is
technically permitted. I believe that the Mussar movement and certain
elements of Chassidus expressed a desire to become, loosely, what Rabbi
Shimon bar Yochai called Bnei Aliya. In the Pre War years Dr. Nathan
Birnbaum tried to form a movement of HaOlim which had as its goal the
similar aims of self betterment and refinement in a way that would make
the adherents of this movement the best and most elevated people they
could be (certainly people who would never ever cheat :-) ). Permit me
in a subsequent post to note some of their guidelines.


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 94 23:46:33 
Subject: High Costs

In the recent discussion of high costs of being an observant Jew one
poster (I lost the posting and do not remember the name) referred to the
costs of the Shomrim for the price of Kosher food.

Comparing the amount the supervising agency pays the Mashgiach in
relationship to their charge to company is an enlightening experience.
The actual on site Mashgiach receives only a small fraction of the
charges paid the agency.  These fees, which could be seen as exorbitant,
is the primary reason for the cut throat competition among supervision
agencies.  The Kosher consumer is the ultimate loser.

There are other problems as well.  Everyone is familiar with the sky
high prices of Kosher cheeses.  In the supermarkets you can find store
brand cheese crackers with an ou and Charles Chips cheese doodles with
the ou.  These manufacturers obviously do not obtain their cheese from
the one company who controls most of the Kosher cheese market in the US.
Why can't there be a reasonably priced cheese for the Kosher consumer?
Is there truth to the rumors about pressure from the kosher cheese
monopoly holder?

In supermarkets the suggested mark up by the Kosher distributor is much
higher than the mark up generally added to non Kosher foods.  In
addition, at least in Northern California, the mark up by the main
Kosher wholesale distributor is many times higher than mark ups by
general grocery purveyors.

When Wilton foods decided to sell their glatt Kosher products to the
general market including discount warehouses, all of a sudden it was not
more expensive to be kosher.  Preparation, packaging and marketing are
significant portions of the costs of all prepared foods.  These costs
should not be that much more for Kosher.

Just some food for thought.



From: <saul@...> (Saul Djanogly)
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 19:09:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Telz Yeshiva & Baalei-Batim

I remember reading in an article on the pre-war Telzer Yeshiva that the
Roshei Yeshiva lavished far more attention on those students who would
become Baalei Batim than on those who would stay in learning on the
theory that they needed it more.Apparently there was a particularly warm
bond between all those who ever learnt there.Can anyone with knowledge
of pre-war Telz confirm this?

This also seems to be at odds with Rabbi Gifter's attitude of only being
interested in future Gedolim as recently quoted on mail-jewish.

saul djanogly


From: <jjw@...> (Joe Weisblatt)
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 94 15:49:41 EDT
Subject: Re: Yeshiva Tuition

I'm no tax lawyer but I would offer the following comments on the
yeshiva tuition discussion.  (You should CYLTA as well as CYLOR for
actual p'sak.)

I am as concerned about high tuitions as the next person.  (My local
yeshiva does not discount for multiple kids or even give a twin discount
[we have two sets] so I will shortly be paying 5 tuitions of just under
$5000 each.) However, I find several apparent flaws with the proposals
so far.

The "I pay yours/you pay mine" scenario seems clearly illegal.  Any
donation for which I recieve corresponding value is only deductible to
the extent which my donation exceeds the value received which in this
case it doesn't.  While I'll admit you probably wouldn't get caught
because the payback is indirect and not coming from the receiving
organization or directly back to you, you would still IMHO be less than
honest to declare your "donation" as tax deductible.

The general "let's call tuition a contribution to a scholarship fund" scenario
is a little fuzzier, but still seems problematic.  The problem is that an
obligation to donate in order to recieve services would seem to turn
the donation back into a fee.  And if people are not obligated to donate
a good number won't and the net payment by the donors would quickly
exceed their original tuition.  I believe that an institution
carrying on such activity would be very carefully scrutinized by the IRS
to disabmiguate "donations" from "tuition".

On the other hand, as I understand it, Catholic schools seem to operate
on this general scholarship fund principal on a grand scale.  The two
advantages they seem to have (this is based on my understanding based on
brief conversations with a few co-workers) are 1) that they are doing it
on a cross-institutional basis which further removes the donations from
the services received - i.e., you contribute to your church which pools
money for various projects including your local catholic schools.  2)
They seem to have a better ability to put pressure on congregants to
donate an appropriate amount to the church.

I was once at an open meeting with the local Jewish Federation where
someone suggested a setup like #1 above, but I recall the response being
that the power in #2 was missing, so it wouldn't work.

(I realize they have a third advantage - i.e., they are the Catholic
Church, which is an organization with just a tad more clout than your
local Jewish Federation, but I don't think that is relevant.  Now that
they have set the precedent, and the IRS has presumably sanctioned their
funding procedure, we certainly would take advantage of that procedure
if we could.)

I believe the real solution is EXTERNAL fund-raising.  That is, bringing
money in from outside the local community and preferably from commercial
type sources.  Our local "scrip" program is one example of a shamefully
underutilized, yet very low effort program that provides the yeshiva
with a 5% "profit" on all scrip purchases at local supermarkets.  (Note
that for reasons cited above, the purchase of scrip is NOT tax

As an incentive for creative new fund-raising ideas, I think the yeshiva
could allocate 5% of the income from a first-time new fund-raising
program as a tuition credit for its organizers.  (They were already
forced to give a 2% credit for scrip purchases to get people to
participate in the program.)

The other prime external donor, as mentioned in a previous post, could
be the government.  While it probably won't happen soon, tuition
vouchers would amount to a very significant, legal, subsidy.  So when it
comes to a ballot box near you - "vote early and vote often" :-)

(And while I'm on the topic of government subsidies I should add that
making aliya will greatly reduce your yeshiva tuition bill.)

--> Joe Weisblatt


From: <saul@...> (saul djanogly)
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 13:53:12 -0400
Subject: Re:Yeshivot & Baalei-Batim

Re the recent debate,I suggest that the following passage from Gemara
Chulin 92a is most relevant.

''Reish Lakish said.This people is compared to a vine.The Baalei Batim
are its branches.The Talmidei Chachamim are its clusters of grapes.The
Amei Haaretz are its leaves.Those who contribute nothing are its
weeds.That is why they declared in Tam 'Let the grapes pray for the
leaves,for were it not for the leaves the grapes would wither'.''

All sections of the community are inextricably bound together and are
mutually dependent on eachother in one spiritual micro-organism.But
there must be a natural balance if the vine is to flourish.Not too many
leaves,not too few etc.  Who has the responsibility for maintaining this
balance?The above suggests that all the Talmidei Chachamim can do is
pray as they themselves are part of the process rather than in charge of
it.I suggest that it is Hashem himself who tends this garden.If there is
any pruning to do,He will do it.  Furthermore just as in nature and
economies there are self-correcting cycles so the same may well apply to
spiritual cycles.In fact there may be no such thing as equilibrium but a
constant process of growth and destruction,boom and bust.(See Meshech
Chochma Bamidbar 26.44 for more on this concept.If anybody has other
source materials on the idea of 'spiritual cycles' please let me know.)
All we can do is try to perform our particular function on the vine to
the best of our ability and PRAY for its other parts.

saul djanogly


End of Volume 14 Issue 42