Volume 16 Number 49
                       Produced: Fri Nov 11 14:55:28 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Modern Orthodox in Houston
         [Yehuda Harper]
         [Joseph Greenberg]
Talmudic joke
         [Hayim Hendeles]
The Rape of Dinah and Massacre at Shechem
         [Zvi Jonathan Kaplan]
What did Chizkiaya Hamelech do?
         [Hayim Hendeles]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 1994 14:45:38 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

Two quick items before I go upstairs and start making the chicken:

Chanuka is coming soon, so that means it is time for our annual Chanuka
Melava Malka/party. So, anyone planning to be in the Highland Park
vicinity (and vicinity is defined by how far you would like to drive to
get to my house on Saturday night) is invited for a mail-jewish Chanuka
party. RSVP is not required, but appreciated so I have an idea of how
many people to plan for. If you are planning on bringing any food,
please let me know in advance. All are welcome and I have greatly
enjoyed all our previous parties.

Summer is yet a while away, but it will be time for our third bi-annual
picnic/BBQ this summer. Anyone interested in helping co-ordinate things
this year, please let me know.

Last, while this is very last minute, I will be in Cambridge, Mass this
Sunday evening. If any mail-jewish readers would like to get together
for a late evening coffee or something like that, you can let me know by
email until about 4:00 pm Sunday, or leave a message for me at the Royal
Sonesta Hotel in Cambrige. I should getting to the Hotel by about
9:15/9:30 (? I think I get into the airport around 8:45)

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@cnj.digex.net


From: Yehuda Harper <jrh@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 20:21:53 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Modern Orthodox in Houston

I've received several flames concerning my post about UOS, an orthodox
shul in Houston.  Unfortunately, I made some wrong choices of words in
describing the shul and its rabbi.  I'm sorry.  I did not mean to be
critical of either the shul or its rabbi and I would like to address
some of Steve Albert's points.

>which he paints as not really being Orthodox.  ("The attitude of the
>shul to frumkeit is "do we really have to do this?  What is the minimum

I *never* said that the shul does things that are not really orthodox.
Everything, as far as I know, that is done at UOS is OK according to
some orthodox opinions.  Asking "do we really have to do this?  What is
the minimum requirement?" does not imply that there is anything
halachiclly wrong with what is done.  As someone correctly pointed out
to me privately, defining minimum requirements is essential.  If we
always learn only the most machmir opinions, then we are adding to the
Torah.  That's explicitly forbidden.  My point is that UOS rarely goes
above and beyond the minimum required by halacha.  There's nothing wrong
with that.  Its just different than more right-wing people would prefer.
I would hope that no one considers that "not really being Orthodox" even
its they themselves wouldn't prefer to be more machmir.

>     I live in Austin, not Houston, but I've visited on occasion over
>the past four years.  During that time the shul has gone from "mechitza
>minyan meets in the chapel" to "mechitza by request in the main shul for
>bar mitzvahs, etc." to "mechitza in the main shul unless requested
>removed for a bar mitzvah, etc., with a mechitza minyan meeting in the
>chapel."  (That was more than a year ago; they may now just have a
>"mechitza all the time" policy.)

This is a very good point.  Many years ago (back in the 1960's), I
understand that there was no mechitza at all.  The shul wasn't really
orthodox at that point.  However, over the years, the rabbi has slowly
been pulling the shul to the right.  Often, he makes the most liberal
ruling possible because he knows that, otherwise, the congregants
wouldn't accept it.  By encouraging the synagogue to install a mechitza
of minimum height, the rabbi has been able to bring the shul up to
orthodox standards.  If he had insisted on a 6 foot mechitza, hundreds
of Jews in Houston would still be davening in a shul without one.
Personally, I find his efforts commendable.

>And I would not
>agree that the rabbi goes by the most liberal opinion possible.  (And if
>he did, as long as that was a valid halachic opinion, I would not make a
>critical point of it.

I stand by my statement that the rabbi goes by the most liberal opinions
possible.  BUT, like I said, by ruling liberally, he has enabled the
shul as a whole, which probably wouldn't accept more stringent opinions,
to be a bone-fide orthodox shul.  Again, I say that this is commendable.

> Didn't Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, say that it was easy to be machmir, but
>the job of a posek was to figure out when one could be meykel?)

Exactly.  And with the history of UOS being what it is, meykel rulings
have turned a conservative shul into an orthodox shul.  A success!

>  In fact, it seems to be lashon harah to denigrate both the rabbi and
>the membership of the shul in that way.  

Its only loshen hara if one looks down upon others who don't follow the
most stringent opinions.  My original post was merely intended to point
out the differences in philosophy between a very modern ORTHODOX shul
and a more centerist shul.

BTW - My personal philosophy is much more along the lines of the Young
Israel shul I described.  However, since UOS is a kosher shul, I feel
perfectly comfortable davening there.  That's where I davened last
Shabbos. :)

Yehuda Harper


From: <jjg@...> (Joseph Greenberg)
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 94 12:29 EST
Subject: Shaving

On the issue of shaving, not that I am even close to capable of paskening;
however, I am capable of reading the norelco manual (can you believe I read
a shaver manual?) for the model Norelco 985 shaver with the patented "lift
and cut" system which I bought yesterday. It says specifically that the lift
and cut system was designed to work so that the blades do not touch the
skin. It is possible that the comb (which is the round thing that covers the
blade) touches your skin... it has to, to lift the hair, but the blade can
not touch the skin.


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 94 10:22:45 -0800
Subject: Talmudic joke

A while ago I saw a fascinating Talmudic joke on the net about a
prospective but-somewhat-off-the-mark Rabbi being tested for his
Rabbinical ordination. The test revolved around translating a whole
list of similiar sounding words (e.g. Androgonus, Grogrus, Bogros),
where the hopeful Rabbi mistakenly translated each word on the list,
as the next one. A Very cute story, which unfortunately I have forgotten.

If some kind reader knows this story, I, as I am sure others, would
appreciate your posting it.

Hayim Hendeles


From: Zvi Jonathan Kaplan <zjkap@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 1994 10:39:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The Rape of Dinah and Massacre at Shechem

	In his explanation of verses in Genesis Chapter 49 ("Bircat
Yaakov"), Rabbi S.R. Hirsch discusses the key Jewish principles to be
learned from the conduct of Simeon and Levi.

	Rabbi Hirsch views "Shimon veLevi achim" [49:5] as a compliment.
Jacob admired the brotherly passion and spirit of the two sons who
risked their lives to rescue a sister.  Nevertheless, they had gone too
far, and their actions could not be condoned.  Their passion was
excessive.  Therefore, "Besodom al tavoh nafshi."  The Nation of
Israel's Council, not Jacob's as other commentators contend, could not
enter these two brothers.  In other words, their descendants could not
make military or political decisions.  Those who make such decisions
must be able to think rationally and remain calm.  Simeon and Levi's
methods were too drastic-"Ki beapam hargu ish."  However, Jacob spread
them about the Land because it was essential that all Jews learn from
their great spirit, from their sincere devotion to the Jewish people.

	Rabbi Hirsch points out that at laying the foundation of the
Jewish nation, Jacob must condemn any wrongful act, even if done in the
public interest.  Simeon and Levi acted out of concern for the honor of
their sister and the Jewish people.  Nevertheless, their slaughter
cannot be justified.  Jacob demonstrates that the Jewish nation is
compelled to maintain higher ethical standards than all other peoples.
The Jewish nation is like no other.  Among other nations if an act is
done in the interest of the state, it is justified, no matter how
terrible the act may be.  In Judaism, the ends do not justify the means.
A sin is a sin no matter what the motive for it is or what results are
achieved by it.

	Even if we find it difficult to exonerate Simeon and Levi on the
ground that the Shechemites were sinners who violated a Noachide
commandment, as does the Rambam, perhaps, we can still offer them a
posthumous pardon.  For as we have seen, their actions indirectly led to
the establishment of a cardinal, eternal and moral Jewish principle.

                                           Zvi Jonathan Kaplan


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 94 09:31:52 -0800
Subject: What did Chizkiaya Hamelech do?

The Talmud teaches us that the King Chizkiyah raised the level of
learning to such an extent, that you could not find a child "from Dan to
BeerSheva" who was not well-versed in even the esoteric laws of purity.

However, a friend of mine asked me a question about this, that I could
not answer. Perhaps, one of the knowledgeable readers here can help me.

Presumably, the area of Dan referred to is in the northernmost border of
Israel, in the vicinity of Syria. However, Dan being part of the 10
tribes implies that this area was ruled by the 10 Tribes --- and not by
Chizkiyah who was the king of Judah, in the South.

So what did Chizkiyah do to ensure that even those children in a foreign
country, under a different King, learn? How could he have enforced
anything there?

Hayim Hendeles
E-mail: <hayim@...>


End of Volume 16 Issue 49