Volume 16 Number 75
                       Produced: Tue Nov 22 21:35:20 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Zvi Weiss]
Daas Torah
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
         [Harry Weiss]
Public Display of Respect
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Question about narrative points re Yaakov, Esav and the Covenant
         [Constance Stillinger]


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 10:15:17 -0500
Subject: B'rachot

The Gemara in several places (mostly in Masechet B'rachot) uses the
terminology "Kol Hameshaneh .... Aino ela To'eh" -- Whoever changes from
the form that the Sages instituted for B'rachot is only mistaken.

The structure of the B'racha is very precise and substituting the
designation of Yud-Heh for the Shem Adnus ("Ado....") would appear to
invalidate the b'racha as the meaning is now changed ...  Has the person
who originally posted this checked in the Shulchan Aruch re the general
Halachot of B'rachot?

A second concern is that Chazal [presumably] set the gender of a B'racha
for a reason.  To change this would require one to have the background
and level of knowledge of Chazal.

Finlly, the requirement for "orginality" in Tefilla does not necessarily
mean to revise the text.  Normally, this is interpreted in terms of (a)
not approaching Tefilla as a "chore" and (b) adding a specific request
to Tefilla.  If the post-er feels that the notion of "orginality" refers
to actual revision of the B'rachot, sources to support this should
probably be cited explicitly.

In light of the above concerns, there is probably reasonable grounds to
state that revising the B'racha not only renders the B'racha
questionable but also leads to the very serious question of "reciting
G-d's Name in Vain".

While I do not wish to sound like a Posek, it seems that this is VERY
VERY clearly a case of CYLOR and do so ASAP.

On a separate note, I am not sure if it is appropriate for people to
alter texts of B'rachot/Tefillot based upon how they "feel".  Tefillot
were very very carefully composed and I would question if we have the
skill/knowledge/ sensitivity to properly understand the true intent of
the framers of our Tefilla.  There is a story cited [I think] in one of
the "Maggid" books (i.e., the series of books by Rabbi P. Krohn that
contain anecdotes heard from Rav Schwadron ....) where a Gadol (Rav
Abramsky ZT"L, I beleive) interpreted a phrase in Birchat Hamazon in a
very unusual way... When he was asked about that, he said that the
greatness of those who composed these Tefillot is that they were written
in such a way as to "allow" us to assign even "unusual" meanings to the
words and and that these meanings would also be considered as proper
requests and Tefillot.



From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 94 9:22:54 EST
Subject: Re: Daas Torah

> >From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
>      In addition Mr. Shamah would suggest that the concept of Daa's
> Torah is recently developed.  The concept of Daa's Torah is as old
> as the world itself.  It refers to the idea that if the Torah is
> all-encompassing, containing all the knowledge in the world, then
> those people best suited to dealing with the problems of this world
> are the same people who best understand the Torah which holds ALL
> the solutions.

I am not aware that the Rambam based his medical knowledge exclusively
on the Torah or even on doctors who were well versed in the Torah.  I
am also not aware of Gedolim who recommend that Gedolei Torah rather
than doctors recommend treatment for people who are ill.  In other
words, no one claims that all knowledge is derived from Torah study
per se, or that the Torah holds ALL the solutions to all the problems.
In certain areas it may.  Part of the study of the Torah involves the
study of the world as it is, so perhaps it may be said that the study
of the Torah involves looking at the issues involved in ALL the
solutions to the problems that come up in the world that God created
and maintains.

>      Our faith is one which may survive only through the
> continuance of the Mesorah.  Without it, it is comparable to
> wandering the streets of a foreign city with a map in a language
> you don't understand.  This Mesorah dictates that it is only if we
> follow the examples and direction of our Gedolim that we will be
> successful in our goal of Avodas Hashem.

This is an interesting image, similar to the image painted by the
Rambam in the Guide.  There too, the ideal is not the "narrow" study
of the Torah, but includes the study of the way the world works, as
mandated by Torah.  

>      There is one other point which I noticed as a common thread in
> not only this article of Mr. Shamah but the articles of many other
> people these days in a wide variety of publications.  It is the
> misconception that we in this day and age are on a comparable level
> with  our Great Sages, the Geonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim and that
> we are therefore entitled to our opinions on Halacha, Hashkafa, and
> Torah interpretation just as they are.  This I believe is the
> underlying problem which is causing numerous people to cross the
> appropriate boundary in their search to gain Torah knowledge.

I am not aware of overly many restrictions on opinions, nor am I aware
that one has to attain the level of the great sages in order to have
an opinion.  The Torah continues to be reinterpreted through the ages,
even in our day.  Only those interpretations and rulings which move
people the way those of the Geonim, Rishonim and Acharonim did will
ultimately prevail.  Ultimately, it is the cumulative opinion of those
who remain committed to the Torah which determines the way the Torah
is transmitted.  Our great leaders have transmitted the Torah
by educating each generation and earning the respect of the people,
not by ex cathedra pronouncements.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 94 22:15:41 -0800
Subject: Legalism

In Bobby Fogel's posting in MJ 16 #57 the issue of paying a Rabbi or
Baal Koreh for work on Shabbat is raised as utilizing "legal fiction".

I feel that the issues must be divided into its two components to get a
proper response.  The first is payment for Work on Shabbat/ Payment for
a Rabbi or Baal Koreh.  The second issue is utilizing legalism in
halachic actions.

There is no real prohibition of obtaining payment for work done on
Shabbat, though some people are reluctant to accept payment direct as it
gives the inference of Uvdah D'Chol (weekday activity).  It is customary
to pay youth group counselors, child care providers, waiters, mashgichim
etc. for their work done on Shabbat.  The issue of paying a Rabbi or
Baal Koreh is not directly a Shabbat issue, but an issue of paying them
for Torah.  It is stressed in numerous places in the Talmud that one
should not receive payment for Torah.  The method used to pay a Rabbi or
Baal Koreh is called Schar Batalah, payment for their "idle time" where
they could have been doing other work earning a living.  This would
create a problem on Shabbat since one is generally not working thus
"idle time" would not be appropriate.  This creates the necessity to pay
for time spent during week in preparation.  This is all part of one job
and not complete without the actual reading of the Torah, etc.
Obviously if someone does not read the Torah they would not be entitled
to compensation to cover the time they could have been working, but
devoted instead to learning the Torah Reading.  The congregation only
agreed to cover these costs if he would actually read the Torah.

The Torah was given by Hashem to the Jewish People with instructions on
how to interpret and make rulings based on the Torah.  Our observance is
a very legalistic observance.  Carrying in a public domain for 3.99 Amot
(approximately 6 feet) is permitted.  Carrying 4.01 is a capital
offense.  Those couple of inches, though incomprehensible to the average
man, are legalistically very significant.

In certain cases attaching a few 2 by 4s to several telephone poles and
putting aside a piece of matzo in someone's home may allow one to carry
in a neighborhood.  Signing a piece of paper and shaking a handkerchief
with the Rabbi arranges for one to be able to lock his liquor cabinet
and use the stuff after Passover.

We all know the legal/halachic implications of giving a gift to a woman
and saying the right few words in front of witnesses.

Based on a calculation of Hillel many years ago it is decided which day
one can eat and which day one must fast, when one can eat Chametz and
when one must eat Matzah.  These are all cases of a legalism changing
the facts and laws relating to a particular circumstance.

The poster feels that there is a sense of fraud or deception involved.
He is absolutely correct.  The Rabbinical term for this is Ha'arama
(deception).  This is sometimes fully accepted and other times strongly
frowned upon.

It appears to me that in dealing between two people it is strongly
frowned upon.  (An example of this would be various methods of declaring
property ownerless and then reclaiming the property to avoid tithes.
The Rabbis instituted penalties to insure this is not done.)  In dealing
with Hashem we are often allowed to do these, since we are doing this in
accordance rules that Hashem gave us.

In these cases the legalisms change the facts and are thus not fiction
and are totally acceptable.



From: Andy Goldfinger <andy_goldfinger@...>
Date: 22 Nov 1994 11:04:10 U
Subject: Public Display of Respect

With regard to a public display of respect on Yom HaZikaron
(rememberance day for fallen soldiers), Eli Turkel comments:

>  There is a responsa of the
> sephardic chief rabbi of Tel Aviv that it is more appropriate to say
> tehillim than to stand for a siren which is a non-jewish custom.
> Nevertheless, he stresses that in public one should stand because of
> public opinion.  Again, I would welcome a public saying of prayers or
> tehillim during Yom haZikaron rather than the utter dismissal of any
>  hakarat hatov that occurs in many communities.

   About a year ago, a (non-observant) Jewish policeman in Baltimore was
killed in the line of duty.  He was shot on Shabbos, and his family
asked the police to find a Rabbi and bring him to the hospital.  The
police came to Rabbi Heineman, who (on Shabbos) went to the hospital to
attend to the policeman and his family.

   A few days later, the funeral occured.  It was attended by literally
hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of uniformed police from all over the
country.  A large number of people from the frum community attended even
though they had no personal relationships with the policeman or his
family.  I went a bit early, and found the funeral home surrounded by
police.  The police were in a line that streched far out of sight, and
they were filing into the funeral home to walk past the casket and pay
their respects.  It was not possible for most people to get inside, but
the frum people (who, I guess, were taken to be "clergy" by the
authorities) were allowed in.  I went in, and spent an hour or so saying
tehillim, with a small group of other "black hat" people while countless
officers filed by.  I think that our presence was appreciated by both
the family and the large number of police who were present.

    When the funeral procession began, it was led by a man playing the
bagpipes, which seems to be a Baltimore police tradition.  After the
piper came the casket and pall bearers, then the small group of "black
hat" tehillim-sayers, who were ushered into this position by the
authorities, and next came the governernor, mayor, chief of police etc.
Again, I think that the presence of identifiably frum people constituted
a kiddush hasham.

   As I marched in this procession, I noticed that we were passing
between two rows of policeman streching out of sight in all sorts of
dress uniforms.  The uniforms were different since they came from many
different parts of the country, but they all wore white dress caps.
They were all rigidly at attention, and locked in a salute as we passed.

    My experience was the following: On my right, a row of white hats
and hands locked in salute.  White hat, white hat, white hat, Black Hat,
white hat, ...  The Black Hat was Rabbi Heineman.  He was standing in
line with the police, also in a rigid saluting position.

   Now -- certainly a salute is not what we usually do at a funeral.
But -- in this case it was the accepted sign of respect, and Rabbi
Heineman saw fit to use this mode of expression to show his respect.

   I think I learned a significant halacha and point of hashkafah on
that day.


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 10:49:56 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Question about narrative points re Yaakov, Esav and the Covenant

I'm interested in what other readers think about the following two
points in the first narrative about Esav and Yaakov, as they regard Esav
and Yaakov's relative fitness as bearers of the Covenant.

1. When Yaakov is posing as Esav, he makes reference to "Hashem, *your*
god."  I assume this reflects on the character of Esav, and (since
Yaakov is trying to play a convincing Esav) *Yitzchak's perception* of
how Esav thinks of of Hashem.

2. There's the birthright that Esav sold for the stew, and the blessing
that Yaakov swiped by deceiving Yitzchak.  BUT there's a third
patriarchal blessing that occurs.  At the point in the narrative where
Yaakov is about to depart for the house of Laban, Yitzchak blesses
Yaakov a second time, but this time, and apparently only this time,
directly invoking the actual Covenant with Avraham.

It might seem from these two points that despite Yaakov's machinations
and Esav's obtuseness, the Covenant was meant to pass through Yaakov all
along.  Esav seems to have rejected Hashem a long time ago, which would
plausibly disqualify him.  Yaakov, for all his warts, hasn't actually
rejected Hashem.

I'm very interested in comments and sources.


Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger        <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University      http://kanpai.stanford.edu/epgy/pamph/pamph.html


End of Volume 16 Issue 75