Volume 15 Number 1
                       Produced: Wed Aug 24 22:50:03 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

After-Life and Statistics
         [Turkel Eli]
Bitachon; Tay-Sachs
         ["Freda B. Birnbaum"]
         [Harry Weiss]
First Selichot On Sat. Night
         [Josh Rapps]
Habitual Neheneh's
         [Warren Burstein]


From: Turkel Eli <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 10:24:20 -0400
Subject: After-Life and Statistics

    Dr. Juni objects to my stories about afterlife based on

>    Thus, the reported (positive) data are very selective, 
>    and their proportion to negative is probably infintesmal.

     I object strongly to a statistical approach to such stories and
other "miracles" . One problem with our generation is that we have
become too scientific. Everything in belief is subjected to scientific
research and statistical studies.

    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the outcome of
an (quantum) experiment is affected by the observer. I would suggest a
spiritual counterpart: the outcome of a spirtual event is affected
by the observer. The Talmud tells us that a bleesing is found in
things that are hidden from the eye (samei min ha-ayin). Thus, if
we continually count our possesions it prevents G-d from increasing
our wealth in response to some mitzvah since then we would notice
a sudden jump in our wealth which would be unaccountable and G-d does
not perform public miracles except in very unusual circumstances.
Hence, performing a statistical study in itself would prevent the
event from happening.
     To see this better let me give specific examples:

   There is a concept of "goral ha-gra". There are procedures to
get a message from G-d by going through a sequence of verses in the Torah
to arrive at the answer to some question. A famous case is with Rav
Aharon Kutler. When fleeing Europe he received a telegram from Rav Moshe
Feinstein asking him to come to America. he also received one from his
father-in-law inviting him to his yeshiva in Israel. Rav Kutler did the
lottery and arrived at the verse "G-d told Aaron to go the Moshe in the
desert" . He interpreted this as refering to himself as Aaron, Rav
feinstein as Moshe and America as the desert. On this basis he moved to
the US and established the yeshiva in Lakewood.
    I have not the slightest doubt that if one performed this "goral" in
the laboratory thousands of times one would find a random selection of
verses according to standard probability theory. However, we believe that
for special people and special circumstances it does work. Rav Kutler
himself did not use the goral everytime he had a decision to make. Only
for super-major decisions is this to be used and only by top level
people. Hence, statistical analysis is meaningless and misleading.
Tp strengthen this if a scientist found the original "Urim and Tumin"
and used it he would find that it was not effective. G-d would not
answer his questions about the stock market.

    Similarly with respect to after-life stories. The fact that many
patients tell nonsense stories just means that they did not reach the
appropriate stage of "death" or else were not worthy of seeing their
parents etc. The fact that these stories match up with Kabalah (which
the patients were not aware of - in fact most were Gentiles) shows to me
that there is something to these stories.

    I know of several people who tell stories of ESP (extra-sensory
perception) and know of events that happen to relatives thousands of
miles away. When I speak to these people they describe feelings much
stronger than dreams or "I felt" they say "I know". I have several
times felt events happen that never occurred. All this proves is that
I am not on the level of ESP. In doesn't happen to everyone that does
not mean its not real. Tje jewish religion is filled with stories about
angels, Gabriel etc. The fact that science can not verify angels doesnt
mean they dont exist.

     The way we see the world is the way we look at it. The Talmud
gives us blessings when seeing great mountains, and other great
natural events. These are meant to instill in us the appreciation
to G-d for these events and things. A geologist would merely say that
he knows the tectonic plates, ice movements etc. that caused this
chain of mountains to happen. This may be true but it was G-d that
caused these natural events to happen at a particular place and time.
Many of us have had stories were they were saved from some tragedy by
a "miraculous" event. I find it very cycnical to just pass it off as
coincidence. During the Gulf war many scuds came very close to
major buildings in Israel but just missed and major tragedies were
avoided. Many secular Israelis consider it a miracle that a scud
missle just missed the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv. There were no
major deaths in Israel due to the scuds. One can attribute this to
"pure luck", coincidence, or to G-d. I prefer the latter.

    The purpose of the blessing when saved from an accident (birchat
ha-gomel) is again to tell us that being saved was not purely
fate but rather that G-d performed a miracle to save us from an
accident that could have killed us.
As such I strongly disagree with Sam Juni's attempt to pass off these
after life stories as being very selective. Rather they prove that
some people get to see portions of the next world before they
"really" die. These experience stay with these people for the rest
of their lives. The fact that many others are delerious is irrelevant.



From: "Freda B. Birnbaum" <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 21:06:32 -0400
Subject: Bitachon; Tay-Sachs

In catching up with mail-jewish after some time out of town, I noted
with interest Yaakov Menken's EXCELLENT post about the coverage of Dor
Yeshorim in USNWR.  Yaakov and I do not always agree about numerous
issues, but his undertaking to respond, and to respond so well, to the
magazine's clearly biased and/or ignorant coverage of this issue was
truly outstanding.

I was struck by Yosef Bechhofer's response in V14N99:

>Like US News & World Report, I too am troubled by the extension of dor
>Yeshorim testing to the non-fatal (as I understand, Rabbi Adin
>Steinzaltz has this disease and has led quite a productive life)
>Gaucher's disease, and question the Bitachon issue here.

I can see the point here, in a general sense, but I am very uneasy about
one individual pointing to another individual and suggesting that the
other individual ought to have more bitachon and take on some horrendous
burden.  Decisions like this can be made only by the persons who will
have to pay the price.  I know a family where there were TWO Tay-Sachs
children (before testing was available).  I attended a shiur on this
subject where the father of this family (there were other healthy
children in the family) was also present.  Various views had been
discussed, ones hostile to amniocentesis (and possible abortions as a
result of learning the test results) and ones not hostile.  The man told
me that he would rather burn in hell eternally than suffer through yet
another Tay-Sachs child.  (This was a serious frum person.)

The issues Dor Yesharim raises are not even as loaded as the
amniocentesis --> abortion issue.  We are talking about exercising
judgment and minimizing risk, before any conception will even take
place.  What's the cutoff point between bitachon and foolishness?
People ask me, how can you ride the New York subways at night?  I reply,
not joking, that it does great things for my prayer life.  But I do have
a cutoff point, there ARE some limits as to how late and what
neighborhoods my "bitachon" (or foolhardiness, or common sense, or...?)
can stand.  Everyone has her/his own cutoff point/understanding of what
they can deal with.  I don't think it's helpful to wave "bitachon" at
this issue, certainly not before the fact.  Once you're in the bad
situation, that's another question.  Why not do all you can to prevent
these situations?

>Which Gedolei Hora'ah have approved this extension, if any?

Which have forbidden it, if any?

Freda Birnbaum, <fbbirnbaum@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"  -- AND HOW!!


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 94 22:46:29 -700
Subject: Cheating/Yeshivoth

In all of the discussion of cheating recently no one argued that it is
okay to cheat.  I remember many years ago when I was in High School in a
well known right wing Yeshivah in Brooklyn we had to take the Regents
exams in a nearby public high school.  The proctors were bochurim from
the Beis Hamidrash.  If a student had a problem with a question the
proctors were always willing to help.  After all secular subjects were
an unavoidable waste of time that could be better used for learning
Torah.  I am wondering if that unofficial school sanctioned cheating
still goes on in the right wing Yeshivoth.

At that time the Yeshivah attitude was that in dealing with non
Yeshivish crowd anything was okay and the end justified the means.
During the Six Day War we were sent out to raise funds for the "Israel
Emergency Fund".  This money was sent to the Jerusalem branch of the
Yeshivah, not the UJA.

The attitude of the Yeshivish crowd in looking down and trying to limit
contact (except when fund raising) with the Modern Orthodox community
(nothing to say about the non Orthodox and non Jewish community) is
definitely still in existence today, just more so.  If the Yeshivish
world would try to work with the Mainstream Orthodox community both
communities would benefit.



From: <jr@...> (Josh Rapps)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 94 01:31 EDT
Subject: Re: First Selichot On Sat. Night

I recall the Rov mentioning that the first Selicha is said Sat. night
(after Chatzot) because the main Pizmon (responsive paragraph) in the
first Selicha is B'Motzaei Menucha Kedamnucha Techila (On Motzaei
Shabbos we begin to recite Selichos). I believe his reason was that this
indicates that it should be said at the beginning of the Rachamim period
closest to Motzaei Shabbos, hence around 1 A.M.

(I don't have an answer why the same wasn't done in Europe. Perhaps it
was more practical in terms of getting the people together for
Shacharis. Perhaps people took Selochos and Yomim Noraim more seriously,
and felt the Tefilos and the need for Tefila more strongly than we do
today. Thus, some may have been up an entire night reciting Tehilim or
the like, as a prelude to Selichos, but these are just suppositions on
my part.)

I would like to raise the issue of our appreciation of Tefila nowadays.
I have this perception that Yomim Noraim has been turned into a fashion
show instead of Ymay Tefila Vtachnunim (days of prayer and supplication)
in many communities and Shuls. As a child I recall the tears in the eyes
and the emotion in the voice of the Chazan when he said Unesane Tokef,
when he said Mi Yichyeh Umi Yamus(Who shall live and who shall die), Mi
Baraav Umi Batzama (who by famine and who by drought). I recall my
mother mentioning to me that when they said this in Europe they felt
each word. I can recall a true Tefila IM HATZIBUR (prayer that united
the entire congregation) during the Persian Gulf War, when we packed the
Shul as a community and davened with all our heart and soul, Kish Echad
B'lev Echad (As one person with a common heart).

Perhaps some of the blame for our lack of Kavanah is that the Tefilot
are not emphasized enough in school. How many times has a child been
taught that dip the apple in the honey and we eat carrots on Rosh
Hashonah. But how many are taught the true meaning of the WORDS that we
recite during davenning. How many understand to some degree the concept
of Uneshalma Parim Sefataynu (Our tefilot are a substitute for the
sacrifices of the day that brought us atonement)? How many understand
that the Chazzan and the congregation go through the Avodas Kohen Gadol,
reciting it in words that make us almost visualize the beauty of that
service, and how we are suddenly shaken violently out or our nostalgic
dream and are awakened to Kinos on Yom Kippur! The Rov mentioned on
several occasions that I know of that the Piyutim were to be studied as
one would study a Rishon or author of earlier periods, for who else were
the authors of our Piyutim!  If we don't sensitize people to the meaning
of the Tefilot to some degree, we run the risk of a group of
disconnected individuals and not a TZIBBUR, that at best is silent
during the Tefila and at worst is disruptive.  Yom Kippur epitomizes the
united community, focused on one goal, atonement. This requirement of
unity is no less today. Sharing an understanding of the Tefolos Yomim
Noraim is an important step towards that unity.

Perhaps with the latest round of Machzorim that provide more information
on the Tefilot, people will become more interested in what they are
saying. I think that adult classes in Tefilas Yomim Noraim should be
given in each community, if they are not already provided. Tefila is the
one religious activity that we perform most in common with our
children. If we could bolster our children's appreciation of Tefila and
they the same for us, we would all enjoy a more meaningful Tefila

I don't mean to imply that all Shuls have a lack of feeling towards
Tefilos Yomin Noraim. I do think that increased education on Tefilos
Yomim Noraim would benefit all in a greater appreciation of Yomim Noraim
and Tefila IM HATZIBBUR in general.

-josh rapps


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 07:07:03 GMT
Subject: Re: Habitual Neheneh's

Danny Skaist writes:

>Stop for gas on the way in, and let Reuven pay his share.

Would one be allowed to claim to have forgotten one's wallet so that
Reuven would be induced to pay?  How about one puts all of one's money
in the glove compartment and truthfully says there isn't enough money
in my wallet?

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon." -- Stuart Schoffman
/ nysernet.org


End of Volume 15 Issue 1