Volume 16 Number 32
                       Produced: Wed Nov  2 21:06:27 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Lot & the "Orthodox Rabbi" of a Conservative Shul
         [Norman Tuttle]
Modern Orthodox
         [Yehuda Harper]
Rav Shlomo Carlebach TZ"L
         [Steven Goldstein]
Talmudic Induction
         ["Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth"]
Wifebeating and the Koran


From: <ntuttle@...> (Norman Tuttle)
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 94 17:57:22 -0500
Subject: Lot & the "Orthodox Rabbi" of a Conservative Shul

One of the mail-jewish members indicated that a position was open for a
Conservative synagogue, and that an Orthodox Rabbi would be welcome to apply
for the position.  Other posters indicated that there might be Heterim
(permissible reasons or rulings) for an Orthodox individual to accept such a
position or that doing this was a positive thing.  Whether or not such
Heterim exist, and I would be loath to follow them had I the erudition/
experience/Smicha to be called "Rabbi", it is my opinion that any individual
who wishes to keep the title of "Orthodox Rabbi" cannot consistently preside
as spiritual leader of any non-Orthodox congregation and maintain that title.

   While this opinion is based more on ethical/logical premises than clear
Pesukim from the Torah, I believe that a comparison with the Mussar-based
narrative section of the Torah will similarly show that an individual
following the "Torah way" will come to similar conclusions.

   In Parashat Vayera, we see Lot settled comfortably in Sodom after having
separated from Abraham.  Not only that, but the Midrash (echoed by Rashi)
tells us that he had just that morning been appointed judge of Sodom, the
morning when Sodom was doomed for destruction.  Let's take a moment here to
see the significance of this appointment:  Sodom had reversed the function
of the court system so that its purpose was to justify the social and
moral depravity of the populace.  What did Lot wish to achieve by being a
justice, possibly to raise the moral level by judging in an enlightened
manner (assuming he was on a higher level than the rest of the populace)?
How did he achieve the merit of receiving this appointment (in the minds
of the Sodomites who were willing to appoint him)?  The ultimate test is
how he would deal with a crisis situation in which his ideals are directly
in conflict with those of the populace of Sodom which he is supposed to
represent, and how they react to his resolution.

   Lot is faced with the crisis at the beginning of his judicial career, in
which he provides hospitality for some strangers (who just happen to be
angels) in direct opposition to Sodom's moral system.  While Lot remains
true to his ideals, protecting the strangers and even offering
"replacements" for the men who are under his custody (the act of offering
his daughters to the men of Sodom is not correct, and Lot is punished for
it later when his daughters commit incest with him), the response of the
Sodomites is predictably anti-Lot.  They consider his actions as a ruling,
and against the prevalent laws of Sodom!  With their command to "Move away"
they show that they no longer respect Lot's property rights.  It is certain
that without the Divine intervention of destroying Sodom, they would have
fired him from his job as judge (and who knows what else?)!

   While we cannot brand Conservative Judaism as a complete "Sodom", the
analogy of an Orthodox rabbi stepping into hostile territory by becoming
a "judge" in a Conservative pulpit still applies, coming into an
atmosphere where "dynamic halacha" as interpreted by the Conservative
rabbinate is the modus operandi, and the congregation is expecting to see
its application to the environment of the Shul.  Where, in such an adverse
environment, is there room for the idealism of the Orthodox Rabbi to be
manifested?  If the rabbi gave his opposition to driving on Shabbat in a
speech to the congregation (in which he included driving to Shul) or placed
a Mechitza in the midst of the congregation, what sooner way to be out of
a job!  In his personal life, he might be an Orthodox individual, with some
exceptions, but I would not consider such a person an Orthodox Rabbi.
(Assuming you are Orthodox) Could you imagine asking a Rabbi whether you
can attend his Shul?  What answer would this "Rabbi" give?

   As far as a poster who attributes his present Frumkeit to the "Orthodox
Rabbi" of his Conservative Shul, I would tend to believe that if not for
the existence of such a rabbi, he would have still become Frum some other
way.  H-Shem always provides a Shaliach (messenger) for those who are
interested in being in His Service.  Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch held that
we must not bring the religion down to the level of the people, but bring
the people up to the level of the religion.  He took steps to create a
separate Kehila (congregation/community) rather than compromise on
religious issues.  How can we compromise on Shabat for which nonobservance
is tantamount to idolatry, by paying lip service to a dynamic Halacha which
ignores the importance of Sabbath observance over the synagogue (Lev. 19:30
"Et Shabtotai Tishmoru UMikdashi Tira'u...")?  How can an Orthodox
individual compromise himself on the Mechitza when we feel that separation
of the sexes is required at solemn occasions such as communal prayer?
Anybody Orthodox looking for a Heter to officiate at a Conservative
synagogue must question his motivations, particularly monetary (since
Conservative shuls tend to bring in more money for the Rabbi than Orthodox)


From: Yehuda Harper <jrh@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 14:45:51 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Modern Orthodox

I saw Aleeza Berger's post about modern orthodox and agree with her that
defining the difference between centerist and modern will help define
modern.  Here in Houston, there are two ashkenazic shuls (besides
Chabad) that seem to me to be very good for comparision.  One shul, UOS,
considers itself modern.  The attitude of the shul to frumkeit is "do we
really have to do this?  What is the minimum requirement?"  The mechitza
at the shul is at the minimum height (around 40 inches) and is made of
plexiglass.  The rabbi actively discourages people from keeping glatt
kosher, insists that all hechshers are acceptable, and generally goes by
the most liberal opinion possible.  If something is acceptable b'd'eved,
its usually done all the time.  The attitude of the rabbi and,
therefore, the shul in general is very cosmopolitan.  Congregants who
don't go to college are sort of frowned upon.

The other shul, Young Israel, is more of the YU centerist type of shul.
Most of the people keep glatt kosher, the mechitza is about 4 1/2 feet
tall, and the people range from very liberal to black hat in practice.
However, everyone is accepted for the path they choose to frumkeit.
There's neither encouragement nor discouragement of chumrahs.  Some
people go to college and some people go on to yeshiva after high school
without college.  Whatever fulfills them spirtually.  And the attitude
toward the secular world, while not cosmopolitan, is accepting.  I'm not
sure what modern was originally intended to be; but it seems to me that
centerist attiude that I find at my Young Israel is probably more in
line with what modern may have been in the past.

Yehuda Harper


From: Steven Goldstein <steven_goldstein@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 94 10:11:27 EST
Subject: Rav Shlomo Carlebach TZ"L

Moshe Koppel is right, everyone should be commenting on their personal
encounters with and feelings for Shlomo (it's definitely more uplifting
then the wife-beating discourse going on).  My feeling always was that
Shlomo was one of the hidden Lamed Vav Tzaddikim.  He brought so many
back to yiddeshkeit, probably more then any baal tshuva movement in our

I saw Shlomo a week before he was niftar at a shiur in my town.  He was
a huge anav, but when pressed he discussed some of the work he had done
through the years with baalei tshuva.  One anecdote he related was that
he was very proud of someone he had been mekarev, many years before.
This man became such a great lamdan and eventually a Rosh Yeshiva.
Shlomo said that the man became so great, he even refused to talk
anymore to Shlomo.  But it never bothered him, because Shlomo was so
secure in his own right that he understood.



From: "Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth" <METH@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 10:56:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Talmudic Induction

In m-j 16:27, Dr. Sam Juni responds to Sharon Hollander's request for
examples in the Gemara of inductive proofs.  His second example is "an
ox who gores three times 'graduates' to higher payment ratios."

The Gemara in Baba Kama discusses that the three-time chazaka is
restricted to the type of incident triplicated, e. g., an ox which gores
three oxen in a row is a Mu'ad [three-time loser] only for oxen, while
if it gores a goat, a sheep, and an ox, it is a Mu'ad for all animals [I
believe it may even be restricted to only domestic animals].  The Gemara
then asks an interesting question: Suppose an ox gores the following, in
order: a sheep, a goat, an ox, an ox, an ox.  If it gores a goat next,
is it a Tam [first or second time offender] or a Mu'ad?  Do we say that
the first three incidents have established it as a Mu'ad for ALL
animals: the first ox gored is attached to those first three, and the
second and third ox, start a new trend which is not extablished yet?
Or, do we look at the last three incidents, which are all oxen, thus
establishing the offending ox as a Mu'ad only for oxen, and the owner
only pays Chatzi Nezek [half of the damages] to the last goat?

The question is unresolved in the Gemara [teiku].  I leave it to the
reader to draw conclusions about inductive proofs from this sugya.


From: Meylekh Viswanath (<pviswana@...>)
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 1994 09:37:01 EST5EDT
Subject: Wifebeating and the Koran

"Ezra Dabbah" <ny001134@...> says:
>  Allow me to quote the following:
>   Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior
>   to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them.
>   Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has
>   guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish
>   them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you,
>   take no further action against them. God is high, supreme.
> The preceding passage is from the koran chapter women 4:34.
> I can only thank Hashem that our Torah approach towards our wives is 
> light years ahead of everyone else.

I think Ezra's posting is unwarranted.  I would not have posted Koranic 
exegesis on mj, because it is irrelevant, but since it has been brought up, 
I have two comments:
1) I presume that we follow the Torah because God gave it to us; that 
we think the Torah's commandments to be lofty because they are God's 
commandments.  Or do we perhaps subject the Torah to some other 
yardstick and decide whether it is good or better than the Koran?

One _may_ argue (I know not everyone on mj will accept such an 
argument) that there are matters not referred to in Torah, where one 
may/must use one's conscience, i.e. there is an ethical component that is 
not (explicit) in Torah.  However, this is not the same as the implicit 
yardstick that Ezra uses.  

2) We know that the (seeming) literal translation into English of khumash 
can be misleading.  Everybody knows the example of 'an eye for an eye; 
a tooth for a tooth.'  If so, why conclude that a literal translation from 
Arabic into English is correct?  Here's another translation of the same 
verse, by A. Yusuf Ali of Lahore, Pakistan:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has 
given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support 
them from their means.  Therefore the righteous women are devoutly 
obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what God would have 
them guard.(*)  As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and 
ill-conduct, admonish them (first),(**) (next), refuse to share their beds, 
(and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not 
against them means (of annoyance).(***)

A. Yusuf Ali provides the following explanations based on traditional 
Koranic commentaries called tafsirs, and muslim legal works:
(*) Or the sentence may be rendered: "and protect (the husband's 
interests) in his absence, as God has protected them."  If we take the 
rendering as in the text, the meaning is: the good wife is obedient and 
harmonious in her husband's presence, and in his absence guards his 
reputation and property and her own virtue, as ordained by God.  If we 
take the rendering as in the note, we reach the same result in a different 
way: the good wife, in her husband's absence, remembering how God 
has given her a sheltered position, does everything to justify that position 
by guarding her own virtue and his reputation and property.

(**) In case of family jars (that's what the text says; it's obviously a 
misprint, but I can't figure out what it should be; my note) four steps are 
mentioned, to be taken in that order: (1) perhaps verbal advice or 
admonition may be sufficient; (2) if not, sex relations may be suspended; 
(3) if this is not sufficient, some slight physical correction may be 
administeerd, but Imam Shafi'i (he was the head of one of the four major 
islamic legal schools of thought; my note) considers this inadvisable, 
though permissible, and all authorities are unanimous in deprecating any 
sort of cruelty, even of the nagging kind, as mentioned in teh next 
clasue; (4) if all this fails, a family council is recommended in 4-35 

(***) Temper, nagging, sarcasm, speaking at each other in other 
people's presence, reverting to past faults which should be forgiven and 
forgotten,--all this is forbidden.  And the reason given is characteristic of 
Islam.  You must live all your life as in the presence of God, who is high 
above us, but who watches over us.  How petty and contemptible will 
our little squabbles appear in His presence.

It does not seem to me that this viewpoint differs so much from certain 
viewpoints espoused in the Talmud and in Jewish law (at least according 
to some people's reading).  So, if one wants to denigrate other people 
and their religion, let them make a proper study of it, especially a religion 
that was declared by the Rambam to not be avodah zarah.

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


End of Volume 16 Issue 32