Volume 16 Number 55
                       Produced: Tue Nov 15 18:14:44 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Joseph Steinberg]
         [Bill Page]
Dictatorship and Violation of Human Rights
         [Josephine Hasler]
Husband is Obligated to His Wife
         [Shaul Wallach]
Isaac & Rebecca
         [Cheryl Hall]
Martial Arts (3)
         [David Charlap, Eric Safern, Mark Bells]
Martial Arts.
         [Steven Scharf]
Rare Shemoneh Esrei
         [Lori Dicker]
         [Seth Gordon]


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 1994 13:55:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Bowing

A recent poster asked about the permisability of Karate classes in which
bowing is practiced. Just a thought to remember: There is absolutely no
prohibition of bowing to a living person. In some Korean martial-art
schols they bow to a flag and to the 'living and dead' -- which probably
constitutes Avak Avodah Zara. Having been a student of Prof. Sober and his
school of martial arts (Tora Dojo -- play on words as Tora means tiger in
Japanese) for a number of years, I can assure you that no such practices
went on in any Tora Dojo class. 


From: Bill Page <page@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 1994 13:16:25 +0600 (CST)
Subject: Conversion

  As an Orthodox convert, I would like to raise a question about the
standards for conversion.  A prospective convert must satisfy a rabbi
who serves as conversion "coach" and, ultimately, a beit din that he or
she as accepted the mitzvot.  Typically, this process involves several
years of study and achievement of kashrut, sabbath observance, and
family purity.  At some point, the coach and the beit din must decide
whether the candidate has the requisite knowledge, practice, and
commitment to become *and remain* an observant Jew.
  Orthodox rabbis differ significantly in their subjective and objective
standards on this question.  One important area of difference has to do
with the candidate's Jewish circumstances.  Some rabbis insist that the
prospective convert live in a community shomer shabbat Jews.  If there
is a Jewish spouse, many rabbis insist that her or she be as committed
to observance as the prospective convert.  In Israel, these criteria
(and others) are applied so strictly that virtually no conversions now
take place there.
  The Torah requires that our community remain open to converts. We want
converts to be committed, observant Jews with a reasonable prospect for
staying that way.  But there is no way to predict with certainty
anyone's behavior decades into the future.  And there is no possibility
of retesting or license revocation--a conversion is for all time.
  What criteria will give adequate assurance of the convert's commitment
without detering conversion more than our tradition demands?

Bill Page                                                 


From: <negs@...> (Josephine Hasler)
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 1994 12:53:24 +1000
Subject: Dictatorship and Violation of Human Rights

My name is Josephine Hasler and I am a year 12 student at N.E.G.S. As part
of the course that I am studying, I am required to do a research project,
and I have chosen the impact of dictatorship, and violation of human
rights. The reason beind this interest, is my grandfather who managed, with
his family, to escape from Russia during the 1917 Revolution, and I am
interested in finding out more information about people who have had
similair experiences.
I am also interested in subscribing if there is such information available.

Jay and Co.
New England Girls School, Armidale Australia


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 94 23:30:49 IST
Subject: Husband is Obligated to His Wife

     Marc Shapiro writes:

>With reference to the recent discussion re. the place of women, and the
>Haredi writers who like to speak of women being "subjugated" to their
>husbands, just today I learnt the Maharsha to Bava Batra 58a where he
>says that in truth the husband is called a slave to his wife, because
>of all he has to do to provide for her sustenance.

     While I don't know to which Haredi writers Marc is referring here
(I, for one, have never used the word "subjugated" in this forum), his
comment on the Maharsha is nevertheless quite intriguing. The passage
he is quoting tells about Rabbi Bana'a who was put into jail and how
his wife got him out by going to the king's court and speaking in
riddles about a servant of hers that was taken away from her, in terms
that no one could understand until they had to call Rabbi Bana'a himself
to explain to them. The Maharsha explains that she was referring to her
husband as her servant since it was his duty to support her.

    While this is certainly a good argument, it is not conclusive
because it is an Aggada, and we do not learn Halacha from the Aggada.
The principle itself, however, is quite valid and appears quite often
in the Talmud itself (eg. in Ketubot 63a, 70a and 77a; cf. the Tosafot
on the first of these, whose language is similar to that of the

    In general both husband and wife have obligations to each other
which the Talmud often refers to as a Shi`bud ("bondage"). Thus, not
long after I was married one of my friends recited for me what our
Rabbis said (Qiddushin 20a), "Everyone who buys a Hebrew servant is
as if he has bought a master for himself." See the Rambam who brings
this to Halacha in Hilkot `Avadim 1:9, and in general the whole chapter
on how the Hebrew servant should be treated. I think the world would be
a whole lot better if we all treated our wives at least as well as our
Rabbis told us to treat the Hebrew servant...




From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cheryl Hall)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 1994 23:35:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Isaac & Rebecca

Chayyei Sara relates the story of Eliezer finding Rebbeca at the
well. This Rebecca carried a jug, watered animals, offered hospitality
etc. Her actions as a refection of her character are the signs that
Eliezer was using to determine suitablity to be Isaac's wife. The
marriage is consented to by the her family. She then carries on Sara's

A commentary in the Soncino Chumash in the beginning of Toldot states
Isaac married Rebecca when she was 3 years old. Can someone clarify
this? Hertz's Chumash doesn't allude to this. The Stone does, but again
without any explanation.

So far no one has been able to help me with this.

Cheryl Hall
Long Beach CA USA


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 94 11:48:14 EST
Subject: Martial Arts

Motty Hasofer <mottyh@...> writes:
>Two of my sons have recently decided that they wanted to learn martial 
>arts. I read a little about the procedures and activities at the sessions 
>and I was struck by the fact that there appeared to be a lot of bowing 
>and chanting of names in Japanese. Personally I felt that it *smelled* of 
>Avoda Zarah (idolatry). 

WRT the bowing, I wouldn't think much of it.  In the martial arts, as
with most oriental cultures, bowing is used as a sign of respect, not of
worship.  It has the same meaning that a handshake does in Western
society.  Bowing to your teacher or your opponent in the martial arts is
the same as when two boxers shake hands before and after a match.

WRT the "chanting of names in Japanese", I don't know what you mean.
Perhaps you should ask the class's teacher what it's about.  I took some
karate years ago, and there was no chanting involved.

You should realize that there is no one karate, but many variants,
such as:

	Tai-kwon-do (Korean karate)
	Okinawan karate

and many others.  If one school bothers you, go find another.  Some
place an emphasis on the mind-body connection, and involves various
Eastern philosophies/religions in the process.  Others don't.

From: <esafern@...> (Eric Safern)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 94 13:28:43 EST
Subject: Re: Martial Arts

As in anything else, a spectrum of martial arts schools exist.

If you are uncomfortable with the rituals in a 'traditional' Asian
martial arts school, look further.  Many schools have become
westernized, and have phased out much of the bowing and chanting which
you mention.

Of course, the ideal situation, from a Jewish perspective, is to locate
a school run by Jews, for Jews, with a Torah based hashkafa.

For me, the Torah Dojo fits the bill. We keep the bowing and Japanese
chanting down to an absolute minimum. :-)

I will try to find out if there is a branch in Australia...

From: idela!<markb@...> (Mark Bells)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 94 10:13:20 PST
Subject: Re: Martial Arts

The question was asked about responsa relevant to martial arts.  While
those answers are brewing from other MJ'ers, let me mention that our
children's day school has Krav Maga, Israeli martial arts.  I have only
seen one session and don't remember about whether there was bowing.  I`m
pretty sure there was no Japanese.

The Krav Maga is also taught to the community using the day school's
facilities.  The school is not affiliated with a specific branch of
Judaism but is observant of Kashrut.  It teaches K through 9.

If you want to know more about it I could probably get ahold of the
Krav Maga instructor or some literature and post.

Mark Bell

From: <StevenS667@...> (Steven Scharf)
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 1994 17:20:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Martial Arts.

Marty Hasofer asks about the halachik status of some of the Cultural
accompaniments to martial arts.  I have had experience in a number of
Japanese and Korean martial arts for the last 20 years and have had the
opportunity of asking a number of different LOR's about the bowing.
First of all, it is hard to generalize since different styles differ.
In most styles one bows to the master or sensai (the Moreh D'Asreh as it
were) who in turn bows back before and after the lesson.  One also bows
to one's partner in practice before and after the practice session.
Since this is a sign of mutual respect and the cultural implication is
much the same as a handshake there should be no problem with this and
both LOR's I have asked had no problem with this.
     In many styles one also bows to something else along with the
instructor before and after the lesson.  In one Japanese style my son
took, the whole class bowed to the image of the originator of the style
(now dead).  Since the implication has something to do with ancestor
worship it was clearly assur (forbidden) to do so, and the local LOR
agreed.  My son simply explained to the instructor that he would be
unable to bow in the direction of the image but would of course continue
to engage in the mutual bowing with the other live humans in the class.
This was absolutely acceptable and there were no problems.  In other
styles, the class and the instructor bow to the flag of the country in
which the style originated.  Whether or not this is acceptable depends
on the implication.  If it is like saluting the flag with one's hand
over the heart as we do in the US, then at least one LOR had no problem
with this although the other I asked felt that there might be a case of
Marit Ayin (how it looks to the outside).  If bowing to the flag had
some religious significance then it is clearly forbidden.

My suggestion is, of course to ask your local LOR for a psak.  However,
the mutual bowing should present no problems.  The bowing at the
beginning of the class may present problems.  In this case one can
explain to the instructor why one is not bowing to an image, flag or
other inanimate object.  I have never heard of a case in which anybody

Finally, I believe the discipline of martial arts, along with the body
conditioning and sense of accomplishment is extremely worthwhile for
orthodox youngsters who often work long hours with little physical
activity.  If more observant Jews became proficient, there would be more
observant instructors and fewer problematic situations.  

Steven Scharf


From: Lori Dicker <ldicker@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 1994 15:30:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Rare Shemoneh Esrei

> >From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
> This is incorrect. The original poster mentioned a Shemoneh Esrei that is 
> far more 'rare'... Purim in Jerusalem is on Shabbat far more often than 
> we say:
>  1) atah chonantanu, because it is Motzei Shabbat, 2) Ten brachah, because
> it is still before Dec. 4, 3) ya'aleh veyavo, because it is Rosh Chodesh,
> and 4) al hanissim, because it is Chanukah. 

Maybe I didn't make myself clear.  I didn't mean that (Shushan) Purim in 
Jerusalem on Shabbas is rarer than the above mentioned, but that since 
the above mentioned doesn't OCCUR in Israel because Ten brachah is only 
said until 7 Cheshvan (usually October), there must be some other "rarest 
Shmoneh Esrey" there.  I could still be wrong about what it is, but I 
wasn't comparing the two to each other.

- Lori


From: <sethg@...> (Seth Gordon)
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 1994 16:00:00 EST
Subject: Re: Roles...

David Charlap wrote:
/ If (as has been explained here by others) the Gemara assumes that women
/ will naturally want to be married, then such a mitzva would be
/ meaningless for women.

I don't understand this logic.  If there are some women who would prefer
not to get married, a mitzvah to do so would be meaningful for them.
Does every mitzvah have to mandate behavior that a majority of the
people it applies to would not otherwise do?  (How large a majority?)

--Seth Gordon <sethg@...> standard disclaimer


End of Volume 16 Issue 55