Volume 16 Number 39
                       Produced: Mon Nov  7 19:46:06 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunot and Rabbis
         [Cheryl Hall]
         [Steve Albert]
Order of events in the bible
         [Yechezkel Schatz]
Ordering of Events in the Torah
         [Stan Tenen]
Salaries of Rebbeim
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
Single Fathers
         [Zvi Weiss]
Women Holier Than Men
         [Shaul Wallach]


From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cheryl Hall)
Date: Thu, 03 Nov 1994 07:17:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Agunot and Rabbis

Just a comment on the Agunot and the Rabbis. From the standpoint of
rabbinical sensitivity, I'm sure Harry Weiss's comments are very true. 
My guess is from Rivka Haut's view it is very limited. I think an important
thing that hasn't been considered is the 80-20 rule.... 80% of the work etc
come from 20% of the whole. There is a selection process going on, and only
the hard cases seek that help. 100% of what she deals with comes from the
minority of all possible cases. The cases with sensitive effective bet dinim
don't cross her desk

Cheryl Hall
Long Beach CA USA


From: <SAlbert@...> (Steve Albert)
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 14:42:19 -0500
Subject: Opera

    I am not an expert on Opera, or Kol Isha, but I want to raise a
question about Lon Eisenberg's post (MJ 16:25, "Opera").  Lon suggested
that the Mishna Berurah would permit listening to women sing, and quoted
the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 75:3 and the Mishna Berurah there as

>Mehaber: "Yesh lizaher mishmi`ath qol zemer 'ishah besha`ath qeriath
>shema`."  [One must be careful not to listen to a woman singing at the
>time he says "Shema`".]  The Rema adds: "weaphilu b'ishtho abhal qol
>haragil bo 'aino `erbhah." [even to his wife, but a regular
>(non-singing) voice is not "nakedness"/lewdness.]  Mishnah Berurah:
>zemer 'ishah. 'aphilu penuyah abhal shelo' besha`ath qeriath shema`
>shari 'akh shelo' yekawen lehanoth mizeh keday shelo' yabho' liday
>hirhur [woman singing: even an unmarried woman, but when not at the time
>of "Shema`", it is permitted, as long as he isn't listening for the
>purpose of being aroused]
>It seems like the prohibition against listening to a woman singing is
>during the recital of Shema`.
    My first problem is with Len's translation of the Rema's phrase
"aval kol haragil bo aino ervah" to refer to a "regular (non-singing)
voice."  If that's what the Rema meant, I think he would have used a
phrase like "kol diburah" (lit. "the voice of her speech") rather than
"kol haragil bo."  
   The Mishna Berurah comments on "haragil bo" as follows:
    Rotzeh lomar, kayvan sheragil bo lo yavo liy'day hirhur, v'afilu
    mey'eyshes ish, v'afilu hachi asur l'chaveyn leyhanos midiburah,...
"That is to say, because he is used to it he will not come to be aroused,
and [this is allowed] even regarding [the voice of] a woman married to
another man, but even so it is forbidden to intend to derive pleasure
from her speaking..."
     Even if Len is reading the Rema correctly (as he well may be; I
said I'm not an expert!), to be permitting the spoken voice, the M.B. says 
that even regarding speech, men may only listen if they don't intend to 
derive pleasure from the voice.  Isn't that the point of listening to an 
opera singer, to derive pleasure from hearing the voice?
    Speaking of which, a second translation question:  Len translates
the M.B.'s "'akh shelo' yekawen lehanoth mizeh keday shelo' yabho' liday
hirhur" as "as long as he isn't listening for the purpose of being 
aroused."  I think a better translation would be "as long as he doesn't
intend to derive pleasure from it, lest he come to arousing thoughts."
The prohibition applies if one intends to derive pleasure from the voice,
not just if one is trying to be aroused by it.

   Len also raises another question, saying the prohibition of kol isha
seems to apply only during the recital of the Shema.  If we look at the
M.B.'s comment on "zemer isha", he says (inter alia):
    V'zemer aishes ish, v'chayn kol ha'arayos, l'olam asur lishmoa.
"And the singing of a married woman, or of any of the other arayos (women
forbidden to a man), one is always forbidden to listen to."
He specifically includes in this category the singing of unmarried Jewish
women (since they are assumed to be Nidah once of age, and hence included
among the arayos), and of unmarried nonJewish women.  Hence the singing of
women, whether Jewish or not, whether married or not, he forbids.
    Incidentally, although the prohibition here is in the context of reading
Shema, it also appears in Shulcha Aruch Even HaEzer, where it is stated
in the context of hilchos ishus.

    To reiterate, I'm no expert, and if Len or someone else can help me learn
by pointing out any errors I made, I'd be grateful.

Steve Albert (<Salbert@...>)


From: Yechezkel Schatz <lpschatz@...>
Date: 3 Nov 1994 17:50:55 +0200
Subject: Order of events in the bible

Elly Lasson asks:
>At the end of this past week's sidra, Chayai Sarah, the Torah mentions
>the death of Avraham.  In next week's sidra, Toldot, there is the
>midrash that the lentil soup which Yaakov was preparing was for the
>mourning period of Avraham.
>Since the death of Avraham was recorded before the birth of Yaakov, 
>the chronological dilemma is obvious.  The typical explanation is one 
>of "ayn mukdam u'meuchar b'Torah" (loosley translated as "the Torah as 
>we have it is not necessariliy written in temporal order").  This rule is
>applied to reconcile many difficulties of time sequence.
>My question is simply "why not"?  Wouldn't the Torah be more easily
>followed if the evcents appeared in order.  I'm sure that someone
>discusses this.

I do think the Torah is, in general, organized in chronological order.
There are, however, numerous exceptions to this rule, as Elly has
pointed out.  I think the answer to the question "why?" is quite
simple. How would you like it if in the middle of a story, the Torah
interrupted to tell us: "and so-and-so died at the age of 900"? I think
most of us would find it rather annoying. If we analyze all the cases in
the torah where events are not given according to chronological order,
case by case, we will be able to come up with plausible explanations for
each and every case, usually having to do with the logical (as opposed
to chronological) organization and literary quality of the book.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 16:31:20 -0800
Subject: Re: Ordering of Events in the Torah

Subj: Ordering of Events in the Torah

In his posting in m-j 16, #22, Elly Lasson asks why events in Torah are 
not always in temporal order.  The following is based on my personal 
investigation.  While it makes use of my understanding of traditional 
Talmudic, Rabbinic, and Kabbalistic teachings, it is not authoritative.

There are many possible answers and they may or may not apply to any 
particular instance.  But the simple reason why events are not 
necessarily in order is that the Torah is not a history book.  

The sequences of letters were given first.  Only as history unfolded 
were the letters grouped into words and vowelized so as to reflect what 
happened.  That means that while the narrative in Torah is definitely 
true in the historical sense, what was said when was not determined by 
the order of history but rather by the sequence of letters that already 

The letter sequences can only be matched to certain historical events.  
The relationship is not arbitrary.  In B'reshit, for example (which is 
what I know most about), an invariant topology of self-organization is 
specified by the letter sequences.  Resh MUST follow Bet; Aleph MUST 
follow Resh, etc. etc.  The sequence of letters, Bet-Resh-Aleph-Shin-
Yod-Tov-Bet-Resh-......, is as inexorable as the sequence of digits in 
the decimal expansion for Pi (for example.)  If this were not so, 
B'reshit would not actually specify the necessary topology.  That means 
that the narrative, "In the beginning, .....heavens and the earth. 
......"  must satisfy two conditions (at least) simultaneously.  It must 
be an accurate word level equivalent of the letter level pattern AND it 
must make historical sense - it must be plausible (in the case of 
"creation", in the age in which Torah was first "translated") and it 
must be true history (when describing an historical event.)  There is no 
way to fully specify "creation" in just a few words, so there is no need 
for the narrative to be more than a plausible parallel.  The letter 
level carries the technical precision.

In the case of historical events, the event that actually happens, that 
is to be recorded in Torah, must be presented accurately even at the 
word level.  Plausibility is not enough when history is known.  This 
necessary restriction is what forces some events to be given out of 
historical order.  The letter sequences that correspond to the 
historical event are where they must be.  The event is what it must be.  
Re-editing (G-d forbid) the letter text to provide the correct 
historical order would destroy the spiritual (letter level) of the 
Torah.  If Torah were only stories, that would be no problem.  Because 
Torah is primarily a spiritual document determined at the letter level 
(similar to universal mathematical constants), it is the letter level 
that must, and does, take precedence.

I hope this helps more than confuses.  <grin>


From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswana@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 16:00:35 EST5EDT
Subject: Re: Salaries of Rebbeim

Esther Posen says:
> The gender inequity you describe is common in every school system that I
> know about (of course this is a limited amount of information at best.)
> I would wonder what the base salaries of "rebbeim" are versus the base
> salary of "morot".  I believe the pay scale follows the laws of supply
> and demand.

Even if this is true that is not the end of the discussion.  If in fact, a 
given yeshiva believes that smikha is worth less than 5 times additional 
elementary school experience (or whatever the market rate is), then it 
can do better simply by offering more for teachers with additional 
elementary school experience and less for teachers with smikha.  They 
will obviously have fewer teachers with smikha, but that will be more 
than made up for by the greater number of elementary school 
experienced teachers it will attract.  Assuming always that there is 
some kind of trade-off possible at the margin.  Since supply elasticities 
are not infinite (that is, offering a smaller increment for smikha will not 
drive away all teachers with smikha), the yeshiva will still have teachers 
with smikha and be better off overall.

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: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Oct 1994 00:42:42 -0400
Subject: Single Fathers

I beleive that the posting by Jeremy missed the point... It is not that a
single father will be "bad" -- it is just that that father will [probably] 
have to work so much harder to overcome the "handicap" of being a male.
Apropos [of nursing] the gemara in Shabbat cites a case of a man whose wife
dies and left him an infant and Hashem made a miracle that he would be able
to nurse..  There is an opinion that this was a sign of the man's *lack*
of righteousness in that he was not able to earn enough to hire a wet-nurse
and it was necessary to change the order of nature in order to save the son's
Anyway, the idea of the post-er [to me] appears to be that if MAN and WOMAN
are not "random evolution" but created with intent by Hashem, then (a) it is
not at all untoward to assert that /hashem created each gender with unique
abilities/skills/etc. -- even if there is a broad band involved. 

--- and that one can legitimately state that mitzvot, obligations,
exemptions for both men AND women are predicated upon this differential
and at the same time (b) it does not mean that single parents cannot
raise children.  It DOES mean that they are likely to have a harder time
not only because they are alone rather than being one of a pair -- but
because the single parent will be lacking the special skills/etc. that
Hashem "built in" to the other gender.  Does that mean the parent is no
good?  Of course not... but the single parent should not fool
him/her-self either....



From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Nov 94 21:33:05 IST
Subject: Women Holier Than Men

     Rabbi Binyomin Segal has presented a rather intriguing idea which
I believe is worth expansion:

>However, I would like to address specifically the idea that women are
>closer to G-d. I found that the Maharal (1526-1609 and certainly not a
>modern apologist) makes reference to this idea in his drashot on the
>torah (27) on the pasuk (exodus 19:3) "so you should say to the house of
>jacob and tell the children of israel" the medrash (michilta) takes the
>first phrase to refer to women (hence bais yaakov seminaries) and says
>that "say" indicates a gentler communication than "tell". The Maharal
>explains that women are existentially holier than men and as such need a
>gentle reminder rather than a stern command.
>Now before anyone tells me I am selectively quoting I will admit that
>there are various interpretations of the medrash's words, I am merely
>pointing out that this idea that women are holier in some ways than men
>is _not_ apologetics but rather a return to traditional sources. It was
>around far before the woman's movement.

     When I read this I recalled all the Midrashim that Binyomin quoted
for us at the beginning of our discussion of marital roles. I also
recall another "pre-modern" source that expresses the very same idea
that the Mahara"l enunciated above. The source I have in mind is
R. Eliezer Papo in his classic book "Pele Yo`es", written in Selistra
(now in Bulgaria) around 1811. His language under Ahava is worth quoting
- here he is dealing with the husband's duty to love his wife:

    ... And the main love is spiritual love, and he is required
    to rebuke her in pleasant talk and to guide her in matters of
    modesty ... And how good and how pleasant it is to teach her
    words of Musar (ethics) and to tell her the words of Haza"l
    (our Sages of blessed memory) in all the matters which apply
    to her and the seriousness in them. For then her heart will
    tremble (Yeherad Libbah) and she will be more careful than the

Here, too, we see that while it is the husband's responsibility to
educate his wife, it is assumed that once informed, she will be more
careful than he is. We have already given an example of this in Rabbi
Aryeh Levin's wife Hannah, who displayed greater Fear of Heaven during
their critical hours. And Yaakov Menken (v15n72) has likewise mentioned
the wife of Rabbi Aqiva Eiger, whom he eulogized as a person more pious
than himself (I also don't remember the exact source, but it might
perhaps be found in the book Alufeinu Mesubbalim by R. Eliyahu Porat

     Today, when women go to schools like Beit Ya`aqov, they are already
"informed" well before marriage. My 8th grade daughter, for example,
already knows more Midrashim than I do, and when she asks me for help
finding a new story I am hard pressed to come up with something she does
not already know. Husbands today, therefore, are in practice mostly
exempt from the duty of educating their wives, and as Binyomin says need
suffice only with a reminder when necessary.




End of Volume 16 Issue 39