Volume 16 Number 31
                       Produced: Wed Nov  2 20:54:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Netziv ...
         [Shaul Wallach]
nonJewish influences
         [Eli Turkel]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 94 21:44:07 IST
Subject: Netziv ...

     In Vol. 15 No. 77, Zvi Weiss has differed with my interpretation of
the Netziv's statement in Ha`ameq Davar on Lev. 19:4 and the connection
between the `Eruv and peace between man and his fellow. In the interest
of brevity I will not quote him here in full, but will kindly refer the
interested reader to the issue cited.

     My purpose here is not to respond to all the points that Zvi made,
some of which I agree are well taken, but merely to try and present
again what seems to me the plain sense of what the Netziv wrote. I
realize, of course, that not everyone will agree, and am certainly not
asking everyone to accept my opinion, but nevertheless wish to offer my
interpretation as an alternative for your consideration.

     Before presenting what the Netziv wrote, however, there are two
minor issues to clear up.

     Zvi wrote:
>1. For some reason, he assumes that when I speak of women "getting out
>   to mix", I imply some non-tznius anti-halachic philosophy.  I use the
>   term in direct opposition to "staying in the house" and not being
>   able to get out. ...

    Apparently I misunderstood your language. Here's what you wrote in
the original post:

>Shaul Wallach minimizes (or appears to minimize) the "social effect" of
>eruvin allowing people (incuding women -- a fact that Shaul appears to
>forget) to "get out and mix".  I would refer people to the Netziv at the
>beginning of Kedoshim where he explicitly states that a major purpose of
>eruvin is the "shalom" that is engendered by allowing people to [easily]
>get out....

     In this language, the "women" appeared too close to the "people"
for me to conclude that they were to "get out and mix" separately. This
is the source of my misunderstanding, and I'm grateful for the

     It remains for me to explain the distinction between "getting out"
and "getting together". It is quite simple. "Getting out" is what you
see every Shabbat afternoon on Rabbi Aqiva St. in Benei Beraq. "Getting
together" means visiting the neighbor next door, downstairs or across
the way - inside, not outside. Of course you have to leave the house,
but the purpose is to meet inside, not outside.

     With this in mind, let us quote the Netziv again, this time
sentence for sentence, in order to try and see whether his language fits
the interpretation I gave before.

>... And here (Hashem) is talking about keeping the days of rest and
>delight for friendship between man and his fellow.

    Before this the Netziv remarked that Yom Tov is also regarded as
among the "days of rest". But it is not clear at all how the Shabbat
brings "friendship between man and his fellow".

>And because of this our Sages of blessed memory instituted `Eruvei
>Haseirot (combining the courtyards).

    Now we see. The Netziv tells us that `Eruvei Haseirot is the means
our Sages gave us in order to establish this friendship. He specifically
mentions `Eruvei Haseirot - among neighbors all of whom know each
other and for whom friendship would be feasible - as opposed to
Shittufei Mevo'ot (combining the alleys or streets), in which only one
representative from each courtyard need participate. For example, I
know all of my neighbors in my own apartment building but not all those
in the buildings next to mine. I think our Rabbis were more concerned
that I be on good terms with my immediate neighbors - peace begins at

     But how does the `Eruv bring peace? That's what the Netziv tells
us next:

>And it is in the Yerushalmi and brought in the Ri"f (on) `Eruvin Ch.
>"Halon" that it is for bringing peace. Thus our Sages of blessed memory
>came to cause something that aids the nature of the sanctified day.

     This is the section that gives us the trouble. The story in the
Yerushalmi tells us how just making the `Eruv itself brought peace
between a woman - by means of her son - and her neighbor. We are not
told whether they even met on Shabbat at all. The Netziv, too, gives us
here not the slightest hint that "something that aids the nature of the
sanctified day" actually involves either "getting out" or "getting
together" on the Shabbat itself. To judge by the story he refers to in
the Yerushalmi and his own language, it could very well be that a loose
connection is intended - i.e., the very fact that the neighbors made
peace by means of something (the `Eruv) which is connected with the
preparations for the Shabbat is in itself the means by which the `Eruv
"aids the nature of the sanctified day." That is, it is a day whose
preparations bring peace between man and his fellow.

>And Yom Tov too; it is known that the joy of Yom Tov is only in the
>company of a feast of friendship.

    Only here, on Yom Tov, do we see explicit mention of people "getting
together" in a "feast of friendship." But as Zvi already noted, no `Eruv
is needed for that.

    If, therefore, we insist that the Shabbat peace as well is brought
by a "feast of friendship", then we arrive at a paradox. Why would the
Netziv, then, omit all mention of "getting together" on Shabbat by means
of the `Eruv and leave it for Yom Tov when no `Eruv is needed in the
first place??

    I will admit here that this is the first time I have ever looked at
the Netziv's Ha`ameq Davar in depth. It could be that the Netziv really
did mean that the Shabbat brings peace also by letting people get
together - on the Shabbat itself, by means of the `Eruv - and that this
is hinted at by inference in his juxtaposition of Yom Tov to Shabbat to
make the connection. But again, I don't see this either in the plain
sense of his language or from the story in the Yerushalmi he cites. If,
as Zvi tells us, all the mizwot in Qedoshim have as one purpose to
increase "peace and domestic tranquility" (in Zvi's words), then perhaps
the looser connection mentioned above is enough. This might be in spirit
of the name Ha`ameq Davar (lit. "to deepen a matter"), but again, I am
not a student of the book and could be wrong.

     One thing, however, seems clear to me. The Netziv is not concerned
here with the practical details of the `Eruv, whether it be in a single
courtyard or an entire city. He is more interested here in the deeper,
transcendental relation between the Mizwot and peace between people who
know each other. I therefore feel it is somewhat meaningless to speculate
whether his commentary here can bear on the question of how he would
regard the way the `Eruv is being exploited today either in Benei Beraq
or anywhere else.




From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 94 15:57:19+020
Subject: nonJewish influences

      Having just returned from a wonderful visit to Prague and Budapest
I have had another chance to think about ways that Jewish people
throughout the ages have been influenced by their surroundings and this
has affected halachah.

     When I speak of changes of halachah I do not mean that we don't keep
shabbat because of advances in modern conveniences. Rather I mean that
the appropriate halachah for some circumstance changes as society changes.
As Rav Herschel Schachter has stressed because we live in a modern world
paragraph B of some section of Shulchan Arukh is now appropriate whereas
in the past paragraph A was the one used. We don't throw out halachot
or create new ones. We do however, change our behavior in accordance with
other criteria that has already been brought down. These changes are
sometimes conscious (as in ending capital punishment and the Sotah waters)
and sometimes subconscious. This is in contradistinction to what is called 
the Hungarian approach (my apologies to those of you of Hungarian descent) 
which says that we must do things exactly as they were done in Europe 
independent of modern conveniences. 

1.  The architecture of the synagogues in Prague (up to 700 years old)
    is all based on contemporary building styles. No one would build a
    shul in the 1400s based on styles from 1200. This is based on styles
    and not on better ways of building. In fact the dating of the age of
    the altneushul is based on its architecture.
    In the altneushul the chazzan steps down before the amud which is
    physically lower than the rest of the shul ("min ha-ma-amakin
    kerati lach") whic is brought down in the Talmud. Similarly the
    number of windows was constructed as 12 and many other decocrations
    are 12 in number symbolizing the 12 twelves. Not many modern
    synagogues keep these practices which again are brought in the
    shulcan arukh (the altneushul was built before the shulchan
    arukh was written and probably before the Tur was written!).
    Similarly the music of Hungarian/Rumanian Jews is very similar to that
    of the surrounding peoples and is very different from Jewish music
    from Arab lands.

2.  As others have pointed out many of our basic philosophical ideas come
    from the Greeks - through Rambam, Saadiah Gaon etc. One example
    is the concept of Teva as nature

3.  The chapter notation in the Torah was introduced by gentile printers.
    Also, our use of time and space are all based on Roman (and earlier)
    conventions. I don't know of people who measure time in chalakim,
    use seasonal variable times (shaot zemaniot) and distances in amot
    even though that is what chazal used.
    Even the use of a calendar based on the date of creation is relatively
    new. In the days of chazal and the geonim the calendar was the
    Seleucid (Greek) calendar.
    In fact any calendar is a Greek idea. In Tanach most dates are from
    the local king with no global dates. Occasionally events are dated from 
    the exodus leaving Eygpt. The Talmud avoids any dating of current events.

4.  Many of the differences between Sefard and Ashkenaz customs can be
    traced to differences between Xtian and Muslim society.
    One example is Rabbenu Gershom's takanah against marrying more than
    one wife, which was not accepted in sefard communities.
    Another is the use of socks. Mishnah Berura states that cohanim should
    not bless the people barefoot but should wear socks because it is not
    proper (kavod) to be barefoot in shul - this is a European concept.
    In Muslim countries one enters a mosque barefoot and so Sefardi
    poskim consider it very proper to be barefoot in shul.
    Some historians claim that the stringent attitude of ashkenazim to the
    9 days and 3 weeks (which is much shortened according to sefardim) is
    because of all the tragedies that befell the ashkenazi communities that
    were less prevelant in Arab lands.
    Many rishonim who lived in Spain were active in poetry, Hebrew grammar, 
    etc. These were respected fields among the arab populace. In ashkenazi 
    communities these activities were almost unknown as most of the local 
    population was illitrate.
    On the other hand in one of Rabbi Wein's tapes he mentions that during
    weddings in medieval Germany (time of tosaphot) the entertainment
    sometimes consisted of jousting matches between Jewish knights !

5.  Chasidei ashkenaz (12th century Germany) stressed very much doing
    teshuva by punishing ones body (very different than Rambam's approach
    to teshuva). This attitute was very common among gentiles at that time.
    Again, I stress that does not mean that these ideas were taken from 
    the gentiles. However, ideas that existed before were stressed because
    they were part of the culture while Rambam, in Eygpt, did not stress
    these ideas.
    In many modern shuls the fast days of mondays and thursdays are no
    longer observed as well as fasting during the 10 days of pentinence.
    The answer that "we are weaker today" (yorda chulsha la-olam) does
    not account for the fact that we are really healthier than they were
    in the old days and better able to fast. Rav Soloveitchik mentions
    that there was a custom in his family not to fast except for Yom Kippur
    and Tisha ba'av. He did not observe that custom since he felt that he
    was healthier than he ancestors were.
    Similarly, many poskim today are more lenient about drinking/eating
    before davening (especially on shabbat) than they were in past

6.  While most modern appliances present no problems one exception is
    modern indoor plumbing. When first introduced some rabbis objected
    that it is not proper to relieve oneself inside the home and this
    was always done outside the house where one lived and had ones
    holy books. I know of no group that is "machmir" on this. The convenience
    of indoor bathrooms outweighed all objections.
    Rav Eliyahu (former sephardic chief rabbi of Israel) has paskened
    that wiping oneself with toilet paper is not sufficient to recite
    prayers rather one must cleanse himself (herself) with water.
    I doubt many ashkenazi poskim would agree.

7.  As I have mentioned several times the present day culture among charedim
    differs strongly between Israel and US/Europe. When the Satmar rebbe
    recently visited Israel the chassidim that accompanied him from the US
    were warned not to display their video cameras etc. which are unknown
    among Satmar chassidim in Jerusalem. A store as 47th photo which is
    owned by Satmar chassidim is inconceivable in Jerusalem.
    In the U.S. and western Europe it is not uncommon for women from
    charedi homes to work in businesses around the city as secretaries,
    book-keepers, hosiptal workers etc. In Israel woman are strongly
    discouraged from working except as teachers.

8.  Many halachot were "created" due to economic necessity. Selling chametz
    on Pesach was invented when Jews were in the liquor business. Heter
    Iska was invented when business loans became a necessity. The Gemara's
    version of an iska was good enough for their times but not for the
    way business is done in a capitalistic society. Today's use of a
    heter iska for every non-business loan goes way beyond what the
    originators intended. When the Jews were in the wine business 
    (Rashi's day) some halachot in gentiles touching wine were interpreted 
    so as to allow the jews to stay in business.  The Talmud frowns on 
    interest loans to gentiles but this was ignored when it was the only way 
    of doing business and today it is taken for granted.

    For mail.jewish readers it has become necessary to find leniencies
    in the requirement for "sheimos". With computer printing many thousands
    of pages appear every day with divrei Torah both in english and
    Hebrew. There is no conceivable way to bury every religious newspaper
    that appears with Torah words. Thousands of pages are distributed
    every shabbat with words on the weekly sedra. What once was done in
    Cairo with their geniza is just impossible today.


End of Volume 16 Issue 31