Volume 15 Number 99
                       Produced: Sun Oct 23  0:50:32 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Love Before Marriage?
         [Shaul Wallach]
Rabbi Wosner
         [Zvi Weiss]
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 18:07:36 IST
Subject: Love Before Marriage?

     Alan Stadtmauer objects to the model I selected for the ideal of
love in the Jewish marriage:

>> We need only read the story of Yizhaq's marriage with
>> Rivqa in the Torah to see when love really starts (Genesis 24:67).
>While we are looking at Biblical models of love and marriage, let us not
>forget that Yaakov began to love Rachel ("Vaye'ehav Yaakov et Rachel"
>Genesis 29:18) 7 years before he married her. In fact he married her (and
>Leah) _because_ he loved her (rather than the reverse). Furthermore, the
>text emphasizes Yaakov's love 3 times -- all before their second day of
>Certainly we should not see in Yaakov an endorsement of dating for seven
>years. Nevertheless, as we look to earlier models with which to
>understand modern marriages, we must avoid selective quotations and

     I agree! But let's look more closely at Ya`aqov's marriage with
Rachel to see whether it is indeed a worthy model.

     First of all, why did Ya`aqov love Rachel in the first place? Just
look at the preceding verse (Gen. 29:17) - because she was attractive.
Leah, on the other hand, had "soft eyes", because, as our Rabbis said in
the Midrash, she had been crying since she was afraid she would be given
to Esau. But for Rachel, it was "love at first sight."

     Now what happened to this love? Well, after the first day (29:30),
we don't see it mentioned again at all! On the contrary, a little while
later (30:1-2) we see there are problems. Rachel is barren and is
jealous of Leah, and Ya`aqov gets angry with her. Further on (30:15) we
see that Rachel is more interested in the mandrakes than in Ya`aqov, and
our Rabbis said that because of this she did not get to be buried with
him (see Rashi on that verse). Not only that, but after she steals her
father's idols ("terafim", 31:19), Ya`aqov himself curses her without
knowing it (31:32), and from this curse she dies on the way (Rashi,

     Look also what happened to her sons after her death. Ya`aqov
shows favoritism to her first son Yosef, and this leads to his being
separated from him for 22 years, and in the end to the exile of the
whole nation in Egypt. Yosef himself suffers from his own beauty and
ends up in jail after the affair with Potiphar's wife. And her second
son, Binyamin, is also taken away from Ya`aqov as well.

     And in the longer run, too, how did her descendants fare? The
tribe of Binyamin is almost exterminated after the incident of the
concubine at Giv`a (Judges 19-21). The other two tribes, Ephraim
and Menasseh, are among the 10 tribes who worshipped the calves set
up by Yarav`am ben Nevat at Dan and Beit El and who went out in
exile to this day. It is Rachel who mourns over the loss of her
children and has to be comforted by the Prophet (Jeremiah 31:14-15).

     Now look at Ya`aqov's marriage with Leah in comparison. From
Gen. 29:30 it does appear that he loved her, at least at the very
start (see the Ramban on this verse). However, this verse says that
he loved Rachel more than Leah, and the very next verse says that Leah
was "hated". We might interpret this in a relative sense (as also in
Deut. 21:15). However, let's see what the Midrash says happened just
after the wedding (Bereishit Rabba 70:19):

    ... In the morning - "and behold, she is Leah". He said to her,
    "What's this, swindler, daughter of a swindler? Wasn't it in the
    night that I called 'Rachel' and you answered me?" She said to
    him, "Is there a book that has no students? Didn't your father
    scream to you 'Esau' and you answered him?"

It doesn't look like things were very happy after this argument which
Leah won so decisively. And the Midrash goes on to tell us how unpopular
Leah became because of what she did (ibid. 71:2; Ramban, ibid.):

    ... And everyone was scorning her ... and they were saying, "This
    Leah, her inside is not like her outside. She looks righteous but
    isn't righteous. If she were righteous she wouldn't have deceived
    as her sister." Rabbi Hanin, in the name of Rabbi Shemuel bar Rabbi
    Yizhaq said: When our father Ya`aqov saw the things by which Leah
    deceived as her sister, he thought of divorcing her.

    But Providence had other plans. This Midrash tells us that Leah's
motives were pure - that she sincerely desired to be married to
Ya`aqov because he was righteous and his brother was wicked. Her tears
and her prayers bore fruit and the decree was broken. Not only that,
but Hashem had mercy on her and gave her children. Nearly every name
she calls them expresses her passionate desire for companionship with
her man ("ishi"). In the end her devotion prevails. Here's how Rabbi
Hanin continues in the above Midrash:

    But after the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave her sons, he said,
    "Shall I divorce the mother of these?" And in the end he admitted
    the matter. That is what is written (Gen. 47:31) "And Yisrael
    bowed down on the head of the bed." Who was the head of our father
    Ya`aqov's bed - was it not Leah?

    Isn't it most striking that the Torah reveals not a single word of
affection on the part of Ya`aqov towards Leah while she was alive, but
mentions how he tells his sons that he himself buried her (Gen. 49:31)?
The burial is the greatest act of kindness one can do to his fellow man,
since he does not expect any recompense from from the beneficiary. Not
only that, but she also earned the right to be buried with him in the
tomb of the Patriarchs. From this we can only infer what must have been
the nature of his relationship with her after the initial stormy years.

   And when we look at her descendants, we see how her credit is with us
to this day. From Levi came Moshe and Aharon, the saviours of the nation
from Egypt, and the Priests and Levites who performed the Service at the
Temple. From Yehuda - who showed his humility with Tamar (Gen. 38) and
his integrity with Ya`aqov over Binyamin - came King David, the Messiah
of the future and our very name as Jews. And from Yissachar came the
heads of the Sanhedrin, as our Rabbis explained on the verse in
I Chronicles 12:32 (see Rashi on Gen. 49:15 and Deut. 33:18).

     We see, then, that Ya`aqov's marriage to Rachel, that came from
love at first sight, produced in the end little of lasting value. Leah,
who was hated at first but was motivated by sincere piety, gave us all
the treasures of our people - the priesthood, the kingship and the
Messiah, the Torah scholars, and above all our good name as Jews.




From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 1994 16:37:05 -0400
Subject: Re Rabbi Wosner

Shaul Wallach cites Rav Wosner for guidelines for modesty....
What he does not fully explain is that Rav Wosner has been the Rav of 
"Zichron Meir" -- the absolutely most frum neighborhood of B'nei B'rak for
many many years (unless I am greatly mistaken and a different Rav Wosner
has been their posek).
It is quite likely that Rav Wosner's piskei halacha would NOT be considered
definitive by people in this country -- and even by people in Israel.
Thus, it is much more accurate for Shaul to present this as a guideline
FOR B'NEI B'RAK rather than as definitive for all....  While the sefer was
not written by Rav Wosner, given that the Rav (author) is a member of Rav
Wosner's Beit Din, I can assume that Rav Wosner agrees -- at least tacitly
with it.  However, the sefer does not address issue that it opens up....
1. "Kol Kevuda" has been discussed extensively elsewhere...  It sounds -- in
   this context -- as an excuse to "lock a woman up" in her house...  I do
   not know of any women who go out "just to see and be seen" (like Dina).  I
   DO know women who go out to speak to friends, relatives, jobs, and shopping.
   The application of the principle seems very weak... who is going to decide
   if the woman is going out "for need".
2. I do not know who an extension can be made from "riding" in the time of the gemara
   -- which appears to have referred to ANIMALS to bicycles that can be designed
   for women -- on which they can sit in a modest fashion.  The "proof" here is
   weak and appears to be nothing more than an attempt to restrict women from
   a safe, harmless activity (I assume that it is posssible for women to 
   "female-only" cycling groups if Shaul is worried about the "mixing" aspect.
3. A modest woman speaks in a low tone.  -- Does that mean that it is OK for
   men to shout?  What is a low tone in this context, anyway?
4. There is some difference of opinion as to whether stockings have to be
   opaque or not... It is important to cite here what is the custom IN B'nei
   B'rak rather than issue absolute guidelines that do not deal with any other
   community (unless one assumes that the standard for B'nei B'rak is the only
   legit. standard).  What is a "quiet color"?  Attract WHOSE attention?
5. Depending upon where they are located and the existence of A/C, it might be
   just as legit. to tell MEN to stay away from girls' schools/clubs so that
   their singing does not present a problem.
6. Why can't girls stay overnight with a girlfriend???
7. Why should women respect men who are rude?  It is possible to interact
   with a woman without being so blatant....  It is nice to be machmir on
   matters of "ervah"... It is also nice to behave like a mensch.  Given that
   we are in a society where women are "active in the marketplace", it seems 
   that some thought should be given as to how men should behave with them
   instead of simply telling women to accept the behaviour of men who are
   VERY concerned about "Ervah" but do not seem to have any concern for
   common courtesy.
8. Who is supposed to "check the literature"??  This is particularly objection-
   able.  It is not a Tzniut issue, per se (since reading "inappropriate"
   material can lead to other issurim) but the way it is presented here
   leads one to think that there are 2 classes -- those who can read and
   "check" anything and those who must allow themselves to be censored.  This
   is also open to abuse.  I can control what people THINK by limiting their
   access...  I seem to recall cases that literature that dealt with "Hirschian
   style" hashkafa (Torah im Derekh Eretz) or "YU-style" hashkafa (Torah U'Mada)
   was -- apparently "banned"... I find such behaviour utterly revolting.

My problesm with what SHaul has presented here are several:
1. His intro where he mentions "anonymous committees" really bothers me.  To
   me, a single person (with enough resources) can be an "anonymous committee".
   Why is it that there can be no identification when someone has a problem.
   WHO protested married couples strolling on the street?  If it was a problem, 
   all it needed was for someone to PUBLICLY go to the Rav of the city or
   neighborhood and raise the question in a calm, cool manner and get a hala-
   chic answer.  The idea of "committees" who "put up notices" seems nothing
   more than an attempt at intimidation.
2. Why is it that booklets are put out telling WOMEN how to behave -- and then
   titled as "Laws and Practices in Matters of Modesty"?  Why not a sefer or
   pamphlet addressed to BOTH men AND women discussing the MUTUAL obligations
   in this area.  As reported, this booklet appears to be little more than a
   "power tool" to "keep women in line".  I am sure that may not have been the
   intention -- but that is how the matter is reported HERE.
3. On a more basic level, there seems to be a LOT of emphasis on the EXTERNAL
   and little understanding of what Tzniut is all about.  I do NOT mean that it
   is not necessary to observe halachot as long as you have a "good heart"  BUT
   by focusing on what Rzniut is REALLY about -- protecting the tzelem elokim
   within each person from any sort of potential corruption either by looking
   at something improper or by displaying something improper.  If one focuses
   upon the Tzelem Elokim, the ensuing halachic discussion is both more thorough
'  as well as more meaningful.  OF COURSE, it is improper for women to be
   "showy" (it is also not a great idea for men.... cf. the RAMBAM in his
   hilchot De'ot where he discusses proper dress).  but the focus is not the
   dress -- but by being showy, one can compromise one's tzelem elokim and, in-
   stead become perceived as nothing more than an object...  Such corruption
   can also occur if the clothing is too tight, worn seductively, etc. etc.
   regardless of the actual color...

   OF COURSE one should not shout in public ... but the focus is not on the
   shouting but that by shouting one demonstrates a coarseness/grossness which
   is in conflict with the true sensitivity that a person is expected to

By focusing upon Tzniut in the manner that he has, Shaul Wallach seems to have
demonstrated a profound lack of awareness that the rest of the world is NOT
B'nei B'rak... and in so doing, he has crippled his own presentation of
ideas of Tzniut.

I would suggest that the next time Shaul discusses woman's modesty, it be presented
as a discussion of MODESTY (not just for women) and that the analysis reflect
an acceptance that the Torah addresses itself to ALL societies and ALL times
-- not just those of B'nei B'rak -- Given Shaul's span of knowledge of source
material, I am sure that such a presentation will be challenging and stimulating.....



From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 94 14:20:15 EDT
Subject: Vegetarianism

> >From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
> The BIG problem that I have with Richard Schwartz is that he is
> campaigning to forbid something that Hashem has EXPLICITLY permitted.
> Cf. the Parsha in Noach where Noach and his children are now permitted
> to eat meat.  I find it difficult to believe that Hashem would allow
> something that is hazardous.  I find it incomprehensible that Hashem
> would mandate korbanot -- which require human consumption if they were
> inherently unhealthful to ingest. (And please do not cite the Rambam who
> states that Korbanot were just to wean the Jews from Avoda Zara... First
> of all, the VAST majority of Rishonim disagree; Second, the Rambam has
> the halachot of Korbanot in the "Yad" -- which he would not do if he did
> not think that they were still applicable; third, I heard Rav
> A. Lichtenstein say years ago that that part of the Moreh was written in
> an "apologetic" manner...).

God has permitted us many harmful things.  Certainly, one can
eat a permitted diet (even vegetarian) that is currently thought
to be extremely harmful.  There is nothing in the Torah that prevents
us from taking on additional regulation of some aspect of our lives
in order to live it more fully.  I am not intending to support
Mr. Schwartz's claims; each set of kohanim did not really have enough
time in the mikdash to have so much meat, anyway.

>  The fact is that (a) we are all required -- at the time of the Beit
> Hamikdash may it be speedily rebuilt -- to participate in the Korban
> Pesach (on pain of Karet if we do not do so); (b) anyone who visited
> Yerushalayim with Ma'aser Sheni money is told by the Torah to invest it
> in food INCLUDING (explicitly) MEAT; (c) CHAZAL were quite explicit when
> they stated that there is no simcha w/out "Bassar V'Yayin" -- true that
> this refers to the meat of Korbanot BUT it also means that Simcha is
> experienced by the consumption of MEAT.

What can those conversant with Rav Kook's writings say about these
issues?  WRT to korban pesach, only those in the area of Jerusalem and
ritually pure (tahor) were subject to karet for non participation in
the korban pesach.  Even if one makes the point that meat is not
forbidden by the Torah, it may still be a good idea to minimize
consumption of meat.  Back then, for most people, meat was indeed a
special treat for holidays.  At least in the US and many other "first
world" countries, meat for most peopele is a once or twice a day food,
and is hardly the treat it once was.  BTW, is there an opionion that
meat, as opposed to poultry is what is required (or desirable) on
Yom Tov?  And getting back to the old men vs. women issue, it is not
clear to me that meat (and especially and wine) applies to women, who
are to get new clothes on Yom Tov.  Is there any discussion about
this issue in older or contemporary sources?

>  The fact is that we do not keep the laws of Kashrut because of
> HEALTH... We keep them because of Hashem's Will and -- we beleive --
> that Hashem will not prescribe anything that will kill us.  It is in
> this context that I find the comparison to smoking PARTICULARY
> obnoxious.  To compare a food item permitted by Hashem to a known toxin
> is an supreme insult.  To cite Nathan Pritkin as an "authority" on
> Jewish matters of ANY sort is repulsive.

It hardly requires a response, but anyway... (:-])

Keeping God's torah does not absolve us from the responsibility to
understand the way the world works and to use that knowledge to live a
fuller life.  Traditionally, we look for that knowledge in any and
every way, using the best methods available at the time.  This is not
to claim that Nathan Pritkin is the most reliable source, rather that
it is valid to cite the best understanding of the world as the basis
of taking some action.  It is only recently that some publicity is
being given to a halachic view against smoking, and you still don't
see cigarettes being labelled as treif as say, stam yainam (non-kosher
grape juice/wine) or "european kosher" gelatin (gelatin from animal
sources which was used in Europe and is still certified by some
observant European rabbis).  While uncovered water was forbidden in
Talmudic times on what seems to be spurious grounds (snakes drinking
it and leaving venom in the water) there is nothing in the halachic
literature about forbidding food that is left out and can cause
food poisoning.  This seems to indicate that relying purely on
publicized halachic principles can still leave you in an unhealthy

I realize that it is very possible that the ire in your tone comes
from the specifics of the topic and tone used and it is possible
that I am misunderstanding some of the counter arguments you bring.
I don't support the general arguments used by Mr. Schwartz, but
I also don't believe that taking issue with permitted practices
is forbidden.

>  The fact is that in halacha we DO emphasize "moderation" and not to be
> a "glutton" ... there IS a thread that minimizes the importance of
> "B'sar Ta'avah" -- Meat eaten solely out of a desire to eat meat -- but
> that is a far far cry from stating that meat is inherently unhealthy.
>  Finally, to IGNORE all of the Talmudic material and snidely remark that
> the reason this is not an issue is because we eat meat and that THIS is
> what influences our response is slanderous.  It slanders EVERY single
> Posek who has ever eaten meat -- and who is just as "aware" as Schwartz
> of the ramifications of eating meat...

OK.  On the other hand, let's not slander the vegetarians among us, or
the rabbinic authorities who do support vegetarianism.  There is the
opinion that meat was permitted as a concession to man after the
flood, with the possible implication that it is better to avoid it.
It is certainly the case now that "fancy" cuisine does not necessarily
include meat.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


End of Volume 15 Issue 99