Volume 16 Number 84
                       Produced: Thu Nov 24 21:35:18 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Da'as Torah
         [Avi Weinstein]
Kashering a dishwasher
         [Josh Backon]
My Daas on Daas Torah
         [Binyomin Segal]
Stan Tenen's Views on Daas Torah etc.
         [Daniel Levy Est.MLC]
sale of birthright
         [Danny Skaist]
Thinking for Oneself
         [Moishe Kimelman]


From: Avi Weinstein <0003396650@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 11:18 EST
Subject: Re: Da'as Torah

Prof.  Ya'akov Katz gave a talk regarding the origins of Da'as Torah.  Da'as
Torah as defined refers to the leaders of a generation making decisions in
non or quasi-halachic situations and declaring them halachically binding. 

THis is what is a relatively recent phenomenon.  It is not that Gedolim
don't have opinions which people revere and follow even in non-halachic
circumstances--it is whether in those instances their decision is
halachically binding, or do they even make the distinction between halachic
and non-halachic realities.  

Rabbi Nosson Kaminetzky once told me in Yeshiva that he asked his father Rav
Ya'akov ZTZ"L if a) what was his role if someone asked him whether he should
open up a business or make an expensive purchase etc...He answered that many
times one would be consulted but it was never done under the rubric of
halachic authority.  (I believe in yiddish the term he used was "drey redn")
b) Do Gedolim make mistakes?  He answered, "Of course, look at Moshe
Rabbenu."  c) What about those people who ask you to make non-halachic
decisions for them?  He answered, "Oh those nudniks."

People will always follow the advice of those whom they respect, but for
many Gedolim the limitations on what they were willing to take
responsibility for was very important to them.  They had an interest in not
assuming infalibility.  Torah learning does make one wise in a unique Jewish
way, but not all Gedolim  felt, the Chazon Ish not withstanding, that a
ceiling on their responsibility and authority was a negative thing.

Happy Chanukah,

Avi Weinstein


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  24 Nov 94 15:32 +0200
Subject: RE: Kashering a dishwasher

Moshe Hacker requested information on kashering a dishwasher. Naturally
you'd want to CYLOR; however, what I've heard is the following:

a) remove food filter
(this means that the dishes have to have food removed *before* they're
placed in the dishwaher)

b) buy new racks (you'll need one set for meat and one for dairy)

c) do not place pareve dishes inside

d) run one cycle on hottest temperature between meat and dairy

I would *assume* that to kasher a dishwasher would be similar to the
above (using same dishwasher for meat and dairy).

You thus would run one cycle on hottest temperature without (new) racks
and without food filter.



From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 00:45:26 -0600
Subject: My Daas on Daas Torah

A few thoughts about this daas torah thing.

Mechy Frankel describes what he seems to think are two extremes in
philosophy re daas torah. he describes it in practice as:

>while modern DT implementation seeks to stifle or de-legitimize
>discussion through ex-cathedra diktats...  seems to equate it,if only
>very distantly, with nevuah.

but agrees that there is a certain level of daas torah that everyone would
accept. that level is:

>essentially the assertion that Jews have always looked to
>their gedolim for general insight and advice about worldly matters

now i wonder what good it is asking for their insight and advice if you
plan not to listen to them (as they're too busy learning torah to "get
it"), but rather than dwell on that idea like to suggest that the two
descriptions are not different in philosophy.

now certainly - in public life & in private life - there are many issues
that while they may seem removed from halacha, clearly they are not. eg
instructive even if wrong. recall that republicans are generally against
abortion & democrats are generally for it. recall that murder is a big one
(even for non-jews - not to mention that jews get abortions too). it may be
that daas torah is issuing essentially a halachik psak - saving lives,
jewish & non-jewish is more important than being a democrat. now while lots
of us may yell that the rabbis are secluded and dont understand the issues
& how can they choose the fundamentalist chritian fascist republicans over
the liberal loving democrats... this example shows that they understand THE
ISSUE (no s). their perception of halacha allows them to see where it
pertains to all sorts of things. much of what daas torah is is the ability
to identify these issues.

that you need to ask a rabbi about murder etc is certainly clear & not
stifling any more than not lighting a fire on shabbos is stifling.

once we have removed it from the area of halacha, we get into the the
"stifling" daas torah. im curious what that area is? when was the last time
a gadol knocked on your door and told you what you HAD to do? are you upset
because others ask for guidance from people they respect? chacham gadol
m'navi (a wise person is greater than a prophet) seems to be an apropo
observation - the men that make it to the top of the yeshiva world are
among the best (if not the best) thinkers in the world. (it is my
experience watching bts from prestigious universities come into contact
with second string torah scholars that though they sometimes are surprised
at the lack of secular information, they are universally impressed with
their ability to think & understand). to go to the top of that stack for
help in a problem that to you seems difficult seems not very unreasonable
at all. all of us ask opinions of who we respect why is this stifling?

so can we have some concrete examples of stifling daas torah?

Stan Tenen writes:
>If Torah research has not been stifled, why is it that an essentially
>uneducated person like myself, living outside of a Torah community, with
>very little Jewish learning, has found, in the sequence of letters in
>B'reshit, an understanding of how the Hebrew letters are generated,
>while the Torah community has not?

Three possibilities. 1 Your theories are wrong 2 Your theories are right
but the mkuballim know them and 3 (which is the one i think you'll like
best & which relates to two) because your insights are unimportant to the
frum community but were important to you (and others like you). The Chafetz
Chaim was asked about the "technological explosion" of his generation. He
explained that the telegraph, the camera, and the train were all allowed to
be created as an aid to those whose faith needed a new mashal. The camera
helped people understand that G-d could record our deeds etc.

>The idea that our sages who lived only a few thousand years ago (at 
>most) were somehow greater than we could be is, in my opinion, a self-
>limiting and self-fulfilling prophesy.

And yet its an opinion shared by the great ammoraim themselves - comparing
themselves to the tannaim. "If they were like angels then we are human, if
they human, then we are like donkeys"

M Shamash writes:
>Sad to say, I have met more than one rosh yeshiva
>who sincerely thinks and teaches that the sun moves upward and away from
>the earth after setting, traverses from west to east above the firmament
>during the night, descending in the morning, based on a Talmudic

When I learned this passage in the gemara (which itself mentions the
heliocentric "theory") I asked my Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Meiselman about it.
Rabbi Meiselman btw has a phD in math from (i believe) mit with un
undergrad degree from yale. he told me that the rabbis description (as
understood by the rishonim) has _not_ been proven false. In fact he said
the difference between a geocentric theory and a heliocentric theory is
merely how complicated the math is. You can assume the earth stands still
and compute the sun & planets motion, or assume the sun stands still and
compute. Now Im not a mathmetician, so i dont know, but...



From: <daniel@...> (Daniel Levy Est.MLC)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 18:59:32 -0600
Subject: re Stan Tenen's Views on Daas Torah etc.

I will not address here a discussion on histapchut hadorot, except to say that
the problem is deeper than "obviosly our genes have not deterioraed".
What I do wish to address is Stan Tenen's insulting remark 
"we have been severely damaged by the holocaust, and that one of the
worst damages inflicted has been a reluctance of our best sages and
students to study our own works in any but the most conventional and
limited ways." Is this based on a comparative study of pre-war and post-war
yeshiva learning?  Or is it rather a bit of vented rage on the lack of 
acceptability of his own so called research?  The study of Torah is not
"go see what you can figure out with this", but rather a system of learning
transmitted generationally.  Why not go see if their are patterns and
shapes in the q'uran, or other booksey might also reveal gevaldike 
shapes forms and figures. But that is not Islam.  And neither is Stan 
Tenen's research judaism.  When Stan Tenen says conventional implies
limited, as I understood the meaning of his sentence, he insults the 
very basis of everything he claims to stand for.
Daniel Levy Est.MLC


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 12:50 IST
Subject: sale of birthright

>Chana Stillinger
>2. There's the birthright that Esav sold for the stew, and the blessing

Esav did not sell the birthright for food. Yaakov would not give him food
unless he sold him the birthright, claiming that the "birthright" carried
with it the obligation to feed his siblings.

It is recorded that Esav sold the birthright to Yaakov, price is not
mentioned. The next sentence shows that Yaakov carried out the obligations
of the firstborn by giving food to Esav.



From: <kimel@...> (Moishe Kimelman)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 15:05:17 +1100
Subject: Thinking for Oneself

In mj # 74 Eli Turkel quotes Elad Rosin:

>> 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. 

Eli replies:

>    On the contrary I feel that the problem with our generation is that no
>one is willing to think for themselves, they run to someone else with the
>most trivial of problems. We are a generation in which Rav Moshe Feinstein
>was approached with the most basic of questions. Now that he is no longer
>alive Americans call Israel. An acquaintance of mine was recently by
>Rav Auerbach who complained to him that he is getting phone calls from the
>US about very trivial problems. Today everyone runs to Rav Eliashiv and
>Rav Auerbach and neither of these poskim are young. We are not developing
>a generation of people who think. No one wants to make decisions and all we
>hear is that we are not as great as previous generations. As others
>have pointed out we live in a generation of encylopedias. Most men in
>yeshivas spend their time collecting other opinions rather than trying to
>form their own opinion.

I'd like to make two points.

Firstly, in defence of Elad, the topic being discussed was the right of 
people today to label passages of the Torah as allegory.  There is a 
qualitative difference between being brave enough to form one's own opinion 
when it comes to Halacha - Eli's point -  and comparing oneself to Chazal, 
Rishonim and Gedolei Acharonim etc. in matters of interpretation of p'sukim 
of the Tanach.  If I decide a psak halacha wrongly I have erred, possibly 
gravely, but I remain withinn the bounds of Torah-true Judaism.  If I 
misinterpret stories and details mentioned in Tanach, I may no longer be 
within those bounds.  Furthermore, even in the field of psak, if I were to 
reject Shulchan Aruch and other poskim on the basis of my own innovative 
understanding of Gemara, my psak could no longer be considered 
"Torah-correct", even if my interpretation of the section of Gemara resolves 
all previously unresolved problems there.

Secondly, regarding Eli's complaint about people being too scared to commit 
themselves to forming their own opinion.  To call on people to form their 
own opinions because they are disturbing Israeli poskim with their trivial 
questions, is equivalent to asking people to fly their own planes because 
they call for the stewardess too often.  If these people feel that they are 
not ready to decide their own opinions in Halacha, they are not only within 
their rights in turning to a competent authority to decide for them, but 
they are obliged to do so.  I am not justifying their calling Rav Auerbach 
or Rav Eliashiv - there are competent Halachic authorities in every country 
with major Orthodox Jewish communities (yes, even here in Australia!) - but 
the answer to the problems those Rabbonim face with trivial phone calls is 
not telling the callers to decide for themselves.  If the Rabbonim 
themselves do not tell that to the callers, then we certainly shouldn't.  
Rather the answer is education about local authorities, together with the 
explanation that should the LOR find the question too complex he will surely 
ask a "higher" authority.  Don't forget that what you may view as trivial, 
someone with lesser knowledge may view as complex - especially if he does 
not know how to proceed in the situation in which he finds himself.


End of Volume 16 Issue 84