Volume 16 Number 97
                       Produced: Wed Nov 30 20:24:46 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Yisroel Rotman]
Are most Rabbis insensitive to the plight of Agunot?
         [Yaakov Cohn]
Bishul Akum
         ["J. Bailey"]
Davar Torah for Hanuka
         [Shaul Wallach]
Maccabees and fighting
         [Eli Turkel]
Martial arts
         [Joseph Steinberg]
Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin
         [Yechiel Pisem]
Ramban and rainbows (v16n93)
         [Mark Steiner]
What's in a name? (Yaakov vs. Yisrael)
         ["J. Bailey"]


From: Yisroel Rotman <SROTMAN@...>
Date: Wed,  30 Nov 94 13:58 0200
Subject: Allegory

I thank everyone for their comments concerning allegory and understanding
the midrash.   I'd like to pose three questions:

1.   The midrash states (if my memory serves me) that Moshe was
15 feet (10 "amot") tall, took a stick 15 feet long, jumped 15 feet and
hit Og on the ankle.    To what extent am I obligated to believe
that these are true physical dimensions.

2.   There are two opinions in the midrash (if my memory serves me)
about what happened at Yam Suf.  One opinion is that Nachshon jumped in
when all the other tribes were afraid - the other opinion is that Nachshon
jumped in when all the other tribes were fighting for the right to jump
in first.   ARe both opinions based on long-standing traditions, or are the
authors expressing their view of the type of background that motivates a
"Nachshon" by using Yam Suf as a cover story?

3.   How do we understand the statement of Rabbi Shmuel HaNagid
in his "Introduction to the Talmud"  - Section on AGGADA

" and you should know that all which the Rabbis established as halacha when
it comes to Mitzvot is from Moshe Z"L who received it directly from
God - you cannot add nor subtract from it.  But what they explained in
the verses was each according to what occurred to him and to what he
derived; what makes sense of these explanations we accept and the rest we
do not rely on."

Yisroel Rotman


From: <cohn@...> (Yaakov Cohn)
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 19:35:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Are most Rabbis insensitive to the plight of Agunot?

In Mail Jewish Vol 16 #21, Harry Weiss argues that Rivkah Haut is
incorrect in presenting the 'agunah' problem as a failure of Rabbinic
sensitivity towards women.

(Agunah: A woman, who cannot remarry because her husband's fate is unknown.
        The term is being used today to also refer to a divorced woman who
        cannot remarry because her husband refuses to give her a get.)

Harry Weiss supports his position with...
        1.      The claim that many Rabbis spent much time helping individual
                Undoubtedly true!

        2.      Hence, the logical conclusion...
                >It is true there are Rabbis that are insensitive and uncaring,
                >but these Rabbis are a very small minority.

IMHO, the conclusion is both unsupported, and fundamentally irrelevant
to the real issue raised by the agunah problem.  It does not matter if
the insentitive, uncaring are a majority, or a minority.  What does
matter is that those Rabbis who have power have neglected this crisis.

Which Rabbis have the power within this non-herarchichal, contentious,
and seemingly unstructured religious entity we call Orthodox Judaism?

I refer to the Rabbis who are the leaders of the major Yeshivot, the
religious organizations, the Batei Din (religious courts), and the
religious political parties.  It is not so difficult to identify the
'gedolei ha'dor,' the leaders of this generation.  Scan a few isues of
any of the jewish newspapers.  What Rabbis are regularly refered to in

I regard the agunah issue as the religious scandal of our times.  Mj'ers
often call up the vague concept of 'Chillul Ha' Shem.'  Would you agree
with the following working definition of Chillul Ha'Shem: behavior which
undermines Judaism's implicit claim to set an ethical and moral standard
for mankind.

I suggest that the collective response of the Orthodox leadership to the
Agunah issue meets that definition.

Yaakov Cohn

I regret that my access to Internet is ending soon.  Responses may be send
to Yaakov Cohn
5 Harvard Road
Framingham, MA 01701  USA
508-877-7147 (voice and FAX)

Yaakov Z. Cohn                    |UUCP:!uunet!pws.ma30.bull.com!eileen!cohn
MGA Software                      | Internet: <cohn@...>


From: "J. Bailey" <jbailey@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 16:55:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Bishul Akum

The last issue of the OU's Jewish Action magazine featured a section on 
Bishul Akum in regard to Hashkacha. Basically, to discourage socializing 
with goyim, we are not to eat foods cooked by them (that is the reasoning 
in a nutshell).

The article then goes on to list all the different exemptions and 
categories that allow us not to require a Jew to light a pilot, etc. It 
even mentions that there are COMPUTERS ACTIVATED BY TOUCHTONE PHONES that 
allow a rabbi to ignite an oven long distance...

I was left with one nagging question: Is this _really_ what God intended?

I am not trying to negate, challenge or ridicule the concept. I only urge 
m-jers to get their hands on the article, read it, and post responses to 
it. It seems to be the epitome of Talmudic reasoning. I mean, if you want 
to limit socializing with them, here's a great technique: Make it assur 
to EAT A MEAL with them. That seams a little more realistic, no?

Jay Bailey


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 94 11:53:52 IST
Subject: Davar Torah for Hanuka

     Perhaps it would be fitting to follow Yaakov Menken's example and
present a modest Davar Torah for Hanuka, based on what I heard a few
years ago from one of my rabbis.

    He noted that Hanuka and Purim are essentially opposites of each
other. On Hanuka we say Hallel for days, but there is no special
obligation to hold a feast or to drink or anything like that. On Purim,
on the other hand, we don't say Hallel, but there is a Mizwa to hold a
feast and to drink, and to send food to others. Why?

    The answer, he said, has to do with the events the two occasions
commemorate. Hanuka does not commemorate the military victory of the
Hasmoneans over the Greeks, but rather the miracle of the olive oil
that lasted for 8 days which enabled the Temple service to be performed
without interruption. Also, the Greeks did not seek to exterminate the
Jews but only to assimilate them and stop them from learning Torah. So
the victory was essentially a spiritual, not a physical one. In fact the
Temple lasted barely 200 years afterwards and its destruction, together
with that of the Jewish state, was preceded by internecine warfare among
the Hasmoneans themselves. So there is really no justification for
any real material celebration on on Hanuka. Purim, on the other hand,
commemorates the actual military victory over Haman, who wanted to
destroy the body, not the soul of the Jewish people, so its celebration
is accordingly more material than spiritual.

    Hanuka, then, is one of the more spiritual celebrations we have
during the year. True, Hashem didn't save the Temple or the Jewish
state, but He did save for us the soul of the Jewish people and the
learning of His Torah which has preserved us over our 2000 years of
exile, more than any military victory ever did. The oil and the light
symbolize the Torah which enlightens our lives, as the verse says
(Proverbs 6:23), "For the lamp is a Mizwa and the Torah is a light..."

    So in extending my humble blessings for the occasion of Hanuka, I
hope we will find special opportunities to learn Torah in order to
realize for ourselves the meaning which the miracle embodies.




From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 94 12:28:35 +0200
Subject: Maccabees and fighting

      Yaakov Menken gives a nice Dvar Torah related to Chanukah and concludes

>> What "Al HaNissim" tells us is that Israel cannot rely upon its military
>> might - because this is Esav's area of expertise

   I assume he meant that Israel cannot rely on its military might only.
   Let me mention some facts about the Maccabees.

     In our day we look on them as religious heros. However, in their day
there was opposition from the "religious right - hasidim". First, until
then it was accepted not to fight on shabbat even if attacked. Many Jews
were killed in an attack on a cave in which they were hiding because they
would not defend themselves on shabbat. The Maccabees stressed the innovation
that it was permitted to fight in defense on shabbat. Second, the hasidim
felt that it was not proper to fight instead we should rely on G-d to save us.
Thus, they took Yaakov Menken's dvar Torah literally. Third, the Maccabean
army was not as religious as one may have hoped for. The book of Maccabees
attributes the loss of a battle to the fact that idols !! were found on the
bodies of some of the dead Macabean soldiers.

    Finally, we should realize that the war did not end with the capture and
rededication of the Temple. It dragged on for several more years until
the Jews received political as well as religious independence.



From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 11:55:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Martial arts

:    There are mitzvos concerning protecting one's health and well-being
:that must be considered.  Sitting on the knees can damage them.  Bare-
:foot exercise can injure the feet.  Extended isometrics, which are
:fundamental in several schools, causes circulatory problems for those
:over 30.  Conditioning techniques can cause bone and nerve damage.  Some
:teachers present unacceptable attitudes toward the use of force. ...
:Joshua Proschan

Are you saying that one should 'protect his health and well being' by NOT 
studying martial arts. I think that most logical people would claim the 
exact opposite!

  E=mc^2   |  Joseph Steinberg  |  New York, USA  |  <steinber@...>


From: Yechiel Pisem <ypisem@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 09:33:26 -0500 (est)
Subject: Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin

Correct me if I'm wrong:

When there is a Machlokes in Halacha in, for example, the Gemora, each 
person involved for himeslf may follow his own view, even if the Halacha 
does not follow his view.  It is possible, however, that Rabbeinu Tam 
followed the practice regarding his Tefillin that many follow these 
days:  They fulfill the basic part of Mitzvas Tefillin according to the 
view of Rashi and then, after Kedusha, they switch to the other 
tefillin.  The Mishnah Berurah rules that Tefillin, if at all possible, 
shoul not be taken off until after Uva Letzion is finished.  

Kol Tuv,
Yechiel Pisem


From: Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...>
Date: Wed,  30 Nov 94 22:23 +0200
Subject: Re: Ramban and rainbows (v16n93)

> The word "mimashma", which Mark translates as "the plain meaning",
> invariably precedes a false premise of which the user intends to dispose,
> and is often used to present an interpretation which in fact could never
> have truly been considered correct.

     This is incorrect.  The term mimashma` simply means--"the literal
meaning is..."  There is no necessary implication that in fact the
meaning is something else.  For example, B.M. 113a: "Given the literal
meaning of THOU SHALT STAND OUTSIDE (Deut. 24:11), don't I know that THE
the Talmud leaves the literal meaning of THOU SHALT STAND OUTSIDE alone,
and seeks additional meaning for the word THE MAN (to include not only
the debtor, but also an agent of the beth din).


From: "J. Bailey" <jbailey@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 15:32:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: What's in a name? (Yaakov vs. Yisrael)

A couple weeks ago we read that Yaakov's name  is changed to Yisrael, 
first by the angel, and then by God himself in a separate "discussion". 
And yet for the next 2 parshiyot, he is refered to as Yisrael and Yaakov 
interchangably. There seems to be no rhyme or reason, peculiarly 
un-Torah-esque :) Why use Yaakov any more at all?

What I am looking for is an explanation for the _consistent_ use of each 
name at various times. I'll do a CD ROM search later to see if I can find 
anything. (Even if there are etymological explanations for Yisrael, why, 
for instance, is he called one when he sends Yosef to find his brothers, 
and theother when they tell him this son is dead?)

Jay Bailey


End of Volume 16 Issue 97