Volume 15 Number 3
                       Produced: Wed Aug 24 23:16:59 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dairy products from treyf(?) cows
         [Meylekh Viswanath ]
Fair Testing
         [David Charlap]
Haredim and Police Brutality
         [Joel Goldberg]
Politics & Halacha
         [Yisrael Medad]
Test Medians
         [Jules Reichel]
Test medians
         [Constance Stillinger]
Yeshivas for Gedolim or Learned Baale Batim
         [Abe Perlman]


From: Meylekh Viswanath  <PVISWANA@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 19:16:15 EST5EDT
Subject: Re: Dairy products from treyf(?) cows

 Nathan Friedman <nathan@...> writes:
> Readers may be interested in hearing about the situation regarding milk
> and dairy products in Montreal.
> The local
> rabbonim finished checking the cows used to produce Stern products
> yesterday and found that the number of cows which had had some kind of
> corrective surgery was small enough that there was no problem

If the procedure in question does, indeed, render the animal treyf, 
is there not a problem even if the numbers are small?  I am 
assuming that (at least in some cases), the dairy farm in question 
produces the milk for the jewish kholov yisroel distributor. In this case, 
is there not a violation of the prohibition 'eyn mevatlin iser lekhatkhila?' 
i.e. that we are not allowed to be mevatel the iser ex ante. ( Of course, 
the question applies a fortiori if the dairy farm solely supplies kholov 
yisroel milk.)

On the other hand, I heard from my rabbi that the procedure is not 
considered to make the animal treyf, since the inflicted stomach wound 
heals and the animal tends to live for more than twelve months, and it is 
only in the case of the lungs that we accept the khumra that a puncture 
once inflicted renders the animal treyf, independent of any later healing.  
According to this analysis, there would be no problem even if the 
numbers of treated animals were large.

I also heard from a local deli owner (Teaneck, NJ) that local kholov 
yisroel distributors had negotiated with their producers that animals 
requiring the procedure would be sold, so as to avoid any question at all.

Meylekh Viswanath
P.V. Viswanath, Rutgers University
Graduate School of Management, 92 New St, Newark NJ 07102
Tel: (201) 648-5899  Fax: (201) 648-1233  email: <pviswana@...>


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 14:01:37 -0400
Subject: Fair Testing

Constance Stillinger <cas@...> writes:
>I will add to his excellent post one of the most basic results from
>classical test theory: in order to maximize the variance (ie, to
>spread out the students' scores as much as possible) the test should
>have a fairly low mean score (fairly low compared to the high averages
>that today's college students expect).

Why do you want to maximize variance?  Have you forgotten the purpose
of an exam?  You aren't trying to decide who in the class is best and
who is worst.  You are trying to decide who knows the subject and who

A student who knows all the material should get 100%.  And if
everybody gets 100%, that's great - it means they were all successful
in learning the subject.  Why should you care how they rank against
each other if they all know the material?

A student who knows the subject and gets what seems to be a low grade
may conclude that he is incapable of learning the subject and give up
entirely.  I've seen it happen.  It happened to me in a few classes.
I was in a class where the professor set the passing grade at 40%
without telling the class.  I concluded that my 50% scores were
indicative of failure, and I nearly dropped the course to protect my
transcript.  (Fortunately, the university required me to get the
professors approval to drop the course, so he explained everything to
me and I continued on and received a good grade at the end of the

>Eg, if the test consists of a bunch of questions scored right/wrong,
>then the BEST mean score for the purpose of discriminating among
>students is 50%.

Again, I want to know why you are trying to discriminate among
students.  What purpose does it serve besides demoralizing otherwise
bright students?

<burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton) also writes:
>If even one student out of the ninety gets 0% or 100%, then my test
>has failed to fairly evaluate that student---I'll never know how much
>worse or better than my test she really is.

Why do you care how much better or wose than the test the student is?
A student is required to know a certain amount of material in order to
pass a course.  If a student knows all that material, he should be
capable of answering every question you ask.

I wonder what Halacha would say about a professor who makes exams so
difficult that his students assume they are incapable of learning the
material to the professor's satisfaction and give up learning

I had one professor in college who opened each semester by stating
that 50% of the class will receive a failing grade.  How does such an
attitude help anyone?


From: <goldberg@...> (Joel Goldberg)
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 1994 03:08:20 -0400
Subject: Haredim and Police Brutality

    Recently, we had an exchange in which Warren Burstein stated that
the proper response to police brutality was through the (Israeli)
courts, and Isaac Balbin questioned the Halachic source for doing this.

   There is construction going on in the Modi'in region, here in Israel.
Archeologists are excavating there to remove antiquities before they are
destroyed by the construction process.

   Last night (Tuesday, August 2) there was a demonstration in Kikar
Shabbat (Meah She'arim) against the excavations. At the demonstration,
leaflets were handed out with the names of 350 archeologists in Israel.
The leaflets listed as well, their addresses, phone numbers, place of
work and make of car.

   I wonder what the Halachic justification of this is.


From: MEDAD%<ILNCRD@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 94 09:23 IST
Subject: Politics & Halacha

Re Eli Turkel's clarification on "just" his objection to having a
Rabbi's call to demonstrate appear on the list:-

If a Rabbi is a Halachic authority (at one level or another), and if
issues regarding Eretz-Yisrael are Halachic topics, and if Mail-Jewish
is a list that discusses, informs, etc. about Halacha, then I can't for
the life of me fathom what Eli is perturbed about.  You don't have to go
to the demo; you might not agree with the issue; you might go to your
LOR to understand more; you might read a few s'forim (tomes); or you
might not do anything.  But to disagree whether it belongs on the list
discussion?  Some of the topics on this list seem a bit far-out to me
sometimes (I'm still waiting for someone to ask whether a woman who
shaves her legs during the S'fira period is acting properly or not) but
as long as it falls whether the realm of Halacha, what's the problem?

Yisrael Medad


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 13:05:34 -0400
Subject: Test Medians

IMHO Prof. Burton is in error when he rationalizes that test medians of
50% with passing grades of 25% have educational value and are valid
outcomes. I remain convinced that they are examples of instructional
failure. He asserts that unless he keeps medians very low he will "never
know how much worse or better than my test she (the student) really is."
That's *a* goal, but it's not *the goal* which your adult student
customers had when they came into your classroom. Your students came to
you because you are an expert and they want to be uplifted in their
knowledge and self-confidence by seeing you displaythe material and
challenge them to understand its intricacies.
 They trust that you can set the standard for subject mastery. You are a
yardstick which is specially calibrated to their level of
education. When they receive a grade of 25% they assume that they are a
bottle which should be full but which unfortunately is 1/4 full. It's a
clouded outcome. My *guess* is that you are a person of high
standards. That's highly to be praised. I mean that sincerely. The next
step is to find methods for getting your students to rise up to the
challenging level which you have set. Until that happens, it'snot a
successful process.  


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 14:58:46 -0400
Subject: Test medians

Oops!  I lost the attribution!  I'm sorry

> It's coming round to that time of year again, and I have to think about
> my own grading practices, in order to give my students a reasonable idea
> what to expect from the start.  Recently there have been a lot of
> comments in this forum suggesting that tests with a median around 50%
> and a passing grade around 25% or 30% are a symptom of rampant
> incompetence on the part of the teacher.
> Am I the only university-level teacher here who thinks this is crazy?
> ...

No.  I agree with you (I used to be a professor).  Your arguments are
very good.  I would also add that knowledge is not like gold dust that
pours from teachers' mouths into students' heads.  Blaming teachers for
students' bad grades is very unfair unless you have independent
information about the quality of the teaching.  Many, many students
don't want to be in your class, and want to get through it with the
minimum work they can get away with.  Others just don't have the talent
for the material to do well even if they work hard.  In neither case do
they deserve good grades.

Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger    <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University


From: Abe Perlman <abeperl@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 94 23:25:20 EDT
Subject: Yeshivas for Gedolim or Learned Baale Batim

Perets Mett wrote concerning a story I wrote about Rav Meir Shapiro
concerning yeshivos which produce Gedolim and those who produce learned
Baale Batim:

My letter appears directly below.  Perets Mett's comment appears afterwards.

>>MP> Regarding yeshivos which appear to cater only to producing the Kli
>>MP> Kodesh, the Rav, the Rosh Hayeshiva etc. I thought it would be of
>>MP> interest this story I heard.
>>MP> A Baal Habos came to visit the yeshiva of Rav Meir Shapiro,
>>MP> Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and saw 500 talmidim there learning. he
>>MP> asked the Rosh Hayeshiva, "Where are you going to find positions
>>MP> for all of these? There aren't that many positions for a Rav etc.
>>MP> in all of Poland? Rav Shapiro answered," Only one will become a
>>MP> Rav, the other 499 will learn how to appreciate a Rav."

Perets writes:
>Even if the gist of this story is true (and it does have the ring of
>truth about it) the details are not.  There were more than 900 kehillos
>in pre war Poland, including many large kehillos with many appointments
>for Rabonim.

     I spoke to a historian and he told me as follows.  It is true that
Poland had over 900 kehillos before the war.  However, most of these
positions went automatically to the son or son-in-law of the present
Rav.  It was the same style in Germany.  He also mentioned that if we
extrapolate a little we will notice that these were unmarried boys who
wouldn't stay for more than 5 years and then a new batch would arrive.
One comes to the conclusion that after 20 years one would have 2000
potential Rabbonim which there certainly were no positions for.
Therefore, the overwhelming majority of the boys would end up as learned
Baale Batim.

Mordechai Perlman,  Toronto, Canada     <abeperl@...>


End of Volume 15 Issue 3