Volume 14 Number 47
                       Produced: Mon Jul 25 18:16:47 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Censorship, Democracy, and Western Bias
         [Daniel Levy]
Cheating (2)
         [Hillel Eli Markowitz, Phil Chernofsky]
Free Will and the Akeida Test (2)
         [David Steinberg, David Charlap]
         [Mordechai Torczyner]
         [Mitchel Berger]
Stealing from Gentiles worse than from Jews
         [Saul Djanogly]
The test of the Akeidah
         ["Yitzchok Adlerstein"]


From: <daniel@...> (Daniel Levy)
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 94 00:11:43 -0500
Subject: Censorship, Democracy, and Western Bias

I think it is rather interesting that many m-j subscribers were quite
upset at reading Dr. Juni's posting regarding deception.  It seems to
me, however, that this general upsetedness comes not from the notion
that it is outright immoral, but from the general perception that such
things are viewed as "wrong" by the culture most m-j readers happen to
be immersed in. Some even went so far as to hint that such discussions
should be censored.

I believe the reason so many of us are "touchy" about subjects like this
is because we want to fit withing the conceptions of ethics and morality
that exist where we live.  It would pain us to be viewed as immoral and
because of this we are sometimes willing to accept ethical standings
that are extreme to the point of absurdity. Because of this, we attempt
self-censorship where we would be quick to point out the drawbacks of
censorship in a more open debate (one with non-jews expressing opinions
we may highly dislike).

I know many who would defend democracy as if it was Torah l'moishe
misinai, and not a greco-roman (or American Indian) derivative.  We
defend honesty in a context not jewish but rather one adopted by the
white anglo saxon culture as if we were afraid old george washington
would remind us about the old fruit tree he chopped down.

I think many would hesitate to state judaism has condemned even hints of
democracy.  Shaul stated (regarding the war with amalek) I have sinned,
because I feared the people and listened to their voices (Khatati ki
yareti et ha'am vaeshma bekolam) .  However, this is not something we
would want to characterize us, so we keep a low profile regarding these
matters.  I think m-j should worry a little bit less about what is
generally perceived and allow for more serious open discussion.

Daniel Levy,
Mexico City, Mexico.


From: <HEM@...> (Hillel Eli Markowitz)
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 23:42:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Cheating

I would just want to point out that there is a pasuk in this past week's
parsha (Vaeschanan) "Va'asisem hayashar vehatov bainai Hashem" [and you
shall do the proper (straight) and good in the eyes of Hashem].  This is
a halachic requirement and leads to a number of takanos as well as
examples in the Talmud.  See Professor Nechama Leibowitz's Studies in
the Parsha (Devorim volume) on this parsha for a discussion of this
issue and some examples.  At the very least, cheating falls under this

The discussion is not whether cheating is permitted but under what 
category it is forbidden.  That is a theoretical discussion and is not 
meant to imply that it is correct at all.

|  Hillel Eli Markowitz    |     Im ain ani li, mi li?      |
|  <H.E.Markowitz@...>   |   V'ahavta L'raiecha kamocha   |

From: Phil Chernofsky <philch@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 11:49:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Cheating

Dr. Sam Juni suggests that he might have "missed a beat" in his posting
because of his lack of concentration (or something like that). I
wholeheartedly agree that he missed a beat (actually, several beats). I
do not understand why someone would post to this list without thinking
out the content.

In the areas of theft and cheating there are a few technicalities which
might, at first glance, seem to permit an act (more often, to permit an
inaction - such as not returning extra change to a non-Jew), that our
"gut" tells us is wrong. However, the potential of creating a chilul
HaShem closes (almost) all such technical loopholes in the letter of the
law. As does the potential creation of a kiddush HaShem, which requires
us to do many things that we might technically not be required to do.

To the two examples in Dr. Juni's posting...

HaKarat HaTov is a Jewish moral and halachic concept. Not giving the tip
to the Japanese gas pump owner is a prohibition of Kafui Tov and a
potential chilul HaShem.

The pathological thief or Dr. Juni forgets that theft is one of the 7
Noahide laws, which would make the absurd aspiration to become a goy,
pointless, in addition to ridiculous.

One last point...

Theft, cheating, lying, in addition to the affect on the one stolen
from, cheated, or lied to, has a harmful affect on the thief, cheat,
liar. This cannot be underestimated and should input into a person's
evaluation of the various questions discussed in this thread.

   Phil Chernofsky, associate director, OU/NCSY Israel Center, Jerusalem
   Email address (Internet): <philch@...>
   Tel: +972 2 384 206   Fax: +972 2 385 186   Home phone: +972 2 819169
   Voice mail (to record a message): (02) 277 677, extension 5757


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 20:06:04 +0100
Subject: Free Will and the Akeida Test

I would propose one answer to Sam Juni's connundrum about Ata Yadati -- 
the conflict betwwen Hashems perfect knowledge of the future and man's 
freewill. The Avrohom who existed after the Akeida was different 
than the pre-Akeida Avrohom (ala the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle).  
Thus it was not Hashem's knowledge that changed it was Avrohom.

David Steinberg

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 1994 11:59:38 -0400
Subject: Free Will and the Akeida Test

Sam Juni <JUNI@...> writes:
>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. ...

(3 possibilities for this given: That free will isn't predictable, God
 doesn't predict but observe the future, God is looking for a piece of
 Avram's personality that wouldn't exist until after the test.)

A fourth possibility is that the test isn't for God's benefit at all,
but for Avram's, and for his followers.  Until this point, Avram talked
a great game.  He told everybody about God, and many had witnessed or
heard of the miracles that happened to him (like his surviving being
thrown into a furnace.)  He's been telling everybody to give up on their
old ways of worship, and to follow him and his god.
    The Akeida is the final "put up or shut up" test.  Avram's followers
all see (well, hear about, anywaay) how Avram was willing to obey God,
no matter what the task.  He was asked to kill his son, and he was
willing and able to do it.  The world saw this.  The world also saw that
at the last minute, God spared Yitzchak.
    With this one act, the world saw the level of faith and commitment
one can and should have to God.  And they also saw that God is not
cruel, and does not demand human sacrifices.


From: Mordechai Torczyner <torczynr@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 1994 00:05:57 -0400
Subject: Halacha/Morality

Yosef Bechhofer writes:

>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. 

	Perhaps the discussion has already touched upon this point, and
if so I ask mechila, but how does the notion of a separate morality deal
with the Gemara in Sanhedrin (I think 96b) which forbids the returning
of a non-Jew's aveidah, on penalty of "God will not forgive him" ("Lo
Yoveh Hashem Siloach Lo")?
	Rashi there explains that the purpose of the issur is to prevent
the practice or addition of mitzvos on the basis of moral feeling;
perhaps a separate morality could be maintained, so long as it was not
confused or merged with Yahadus and Halakhah? The question, then, is
whether the warning against returning the aveidah extends to all cases,
or not?


From: Mitchel Berger <aishdas@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 1994 09:50:55 -0400
Subject: Nisayon 

I think the problem Dr. Sam Juni has with the Akeidah (the almost
sacrifice of Yitzchak) is because of a basic misunderstanding of the
word "nisayon".  He seems to take it to mean "test", however, I think
"challenge" may be more appropriate.

For example, we find in Iyov (Job) 1, the Satan challenges G-d, claiming
that His beloved Iyov serves Him only because life is easy, and would be
incapable of the same piety under duress.  We then spend the rest of the
book watching Iyov grow through having to deal with, and come to terms
with, one catastrophy after another.

The Satan, as we Jews understand it, is not an angel that is inherently
evil. Rather he is appointed to make it possible for us to CHOOSE good
by allowing alternatives to exist. It is the choice that Hashem
cherishes, not the mere act.

This is why the Satan's role in Iyov is to point out how Iyov was in a
rut -- he grew all he could as a nobleman, and required a new
environment with a new set of challenges. This is in line with the
angel's mission -- allowing man to grow by providing opposition.

Even if G-d knew for certain the results of the akeidah, and therefor as
a test it was pointless, it still had value as a challenge. Avraham as a
human being and proto-Jew needed to go through the motions and the pain
in order to become all he could.


From: <saul@...> (Saul Djanogly)
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 06:11:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Stealing from Gentiles worse than from Jews

Re. Dr. Sam Juni's recent comments on this issue,see Tosefta Baba Kama
Chap.  10.15 which states

'Robbing Gentiles is a graver offence than robbing Jews because of
Chillul Hashem.'

Rabbeinu Bachai on Bamidbar 26.50 explains that when a Jew robs a
Gentile, the Gentile questions and ridicules the Jewish faith hence the
Chillul Hashem but a Jewish victim does not share the same
reaction. Rabbi Chavel in his notes suggests that the Jewish victim's
reaction is to ascribe his misfortune to his own sin.

This explanation that Jewish on Jewish crime does not involve Chillul
Hashem or indeed that Jews will never have such a negative Torah denying
reaction to a crime perpetuated by a fellow Jew seems to contradict the
Rambam in Hil. Yesodei Hatorah 5.11( based on Yoma 86a) who states that
unseemly, even though not sinful behaviour on the part of a talmid
Chacham causes a Chillul Hashem.

I suggest two possible answers

1. The 'Beriot' referred to by both the Rambam and the Talmud as having
this negative reaction means Gentiles.(Is this a correct translation
i.e. humanity excluding Jews?)

2.Misbehaviour on the part of a Talmid Chacham even to fellow Jews does
cause a Chillul Hashem amongst them but not that of a layman.The Chillul
Hashem being one that leads to the disparagement of the value of Torah
learning rather than one that leads to questioning the validity of the
Torah itself.

Having seen Rashi,I am more inclined to answer 1.

saul djanogly


From: "Yitzchok Adlerstein" <ny000594@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 94 18:50:21 -0800
Subject: The test of the Akeidah

Dr. Sam Juni writes:

>... 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.  

See Netziv, who makes this exact point.  In part, he bases this on
an observation that the "test" word that the Torah uses in this
parsha is "NiSaH"  rather than "BaCHaN."   He differentiates
between three kinds of "test," and asserts that the purpose of the
Akeidah was NOT to demonstrate anything, but to effect a change for
the better within Avraham.  We grow in the process of doing;
navigating through the struggle changes the quality of our neshamos


End of Volume 14 Issue 47