Volume 17 Number 4
                       Produced: Fri Dec  2 14:47:51 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davar Torah for Hanuka
         [Ari Shapiro]
Kashrus Organizations
         [David Charlap]
Kol Isha
         [Meylekh Viswanath ]
Other life in Universe
         [Jonathan Katz]
Sherus Li'oome and Daas Torah: Repy to Y. Menken
         [Mechy Frankel]
The curse of the artichoke
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Yaakov vs. Yisroel
         [Yehuda Harper]


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 94 19:45:32 -0500
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.

In that spirit I offer the following dvar torah.  Everyone knows the 
famous question of the Beis Yosef why is chanukkah 8 days? After
all  they had enough oil for 1 day so the miracle was only 7 days.
Countless answers have been given, the Baalei Mussar offer the
following.  They say that in reality the fact that oil burns is a 
miracle.  We just call it nature but we should realize that oil burns
because Hashem said so just as we are only alive because of the   
kindness of Hashem.  Therefore to bring out this point channuka is an 
extra day saying that what happens in our everyday life is as big
a miracle as the oil lasting for 8 days.

Ari Shapiro     


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 94 14:13:18 EST
Subject: Kashrus Organizations

David Steinberg <dave@...> writes:
>Is there any way for us to pull together a database with enough
>information to support decision making?  Ideally, as a first step we
>would develop a uniform questionnaire to describe the standards of the
>organization and the affiliations of the Rav HaMachshir and key
>[No objections from me to the task in principle. My only question is how
>to turn this into something practical? You cannot have a database that
>says group A is acceptable and group B is not, because for starters I
>doubt that there are too many hechshers out there that all 1300+ mj'ers
>would agree is acceptable... ]

How about something like this for starters.  (Others here will
certainly imrprove on this start):

	(describe or draw a picture)

Name of product:
	(for things like "K" which could be many different
	organizations, depending on what product it's on.  For an
	organization whose symbol is non-ambiguous, enter N/A)

Name of organization:
	(include rabbi's name if appropriate)

Affiliation of organization:
	(Orthodox, Conservative, etc...)

Groups that generally accept this hashgacha:
	(For example, OU is accepted by nearly everyone)

Groups that generally don't accept it:
	(Exceptions to the list of groups that accept it.  For
	instance, Chassidim don't accept OU-certified meat, but only
	meat from groups that demand the higher tolerances of kashrut
	that Chassidim demand.  If possible, the reasons for the
	group's non-acceptance should be included.)

Additional info:
	(Stuff that doesn't fit into the above categories.)

So an example entry might be:

Symbol: Letter U in a circle (O-U)
Name of product: N/A
Name of organization: Union of Orthodox Rabbis
Affiliation: Orthodox
Groups that generally accept: Almost everyone
Groups that generally don't accept: Chassidim may not accept O-U
	certified meat.  This is because they have stricter rules for
	shechita than most of Orthodoxy demands.
Additional info: N/A


From: Meylekh Viswanath  <PVISWANA@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 12:54:00 EST5EDT
Subject: Kol Isha

Ari Shapiro attempts to prove that the reason for forbidding listening to a 
woman sing cannot have been because of the possibility of sexual 
arousal.  He says:

> Rabbi Willig in his sefer Am Mordechai states that the prohibition 
> CANNOT BE because of sexual arousal, if that was the case it should
> be prohibited to listen to a pnuya(unmarried woman meaning a non-erva)
> sing lest he become sexually aroused (which is prohibited no matter who
> the woman is).  

I don't understand the logic here.  It is stated that the problem could not 
be one of sexual arousal, because if this were so, then listening to a 
pnuya sing would be forbidden as well, and the implied reason is that 
'becoming sexually aroused' is prohibited, no matter who is in question.  
I was not aware that 'becoming sexually aroused' in itself is prohibited.  
If so, then there would seem to be good grounds for prohibiting listening 
to a pnuya sing, as a fence around the Torah.

Ari continues:
> Therefore the prohibition is that you won't come to z'nus
> (having sexual relations with her) and since the prohibition is not as 
> stringent for a pnuya(unmarried woman)  with respect to z'nus as an erva
>  they did not prohibit the singing of a pnuya.  Therefore the singing of
> female guests at the Shabbos table would be prohibited.
> NOTE: Nowadays every pnuya is considered a niddah and would be
> prohibited.

What is the mechanism that is at work here?  How will listening to a 
woman sing lead to 'having sexual relations with her' other than through 
sexual arousal?  If the mechanism is indeed via sexual arousal, then we 
are back to square one.  Is the argument, perhaps, that singing of female 
guests would lead to more intimacy, and finally to sexual relations?  If 
so, then this prohibition should be on a par with the other prohibitions 
forbidding 'sikha bateyla' unnecessary talk with a woman.  Is this so?

Meylekh Viswanath


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Fri, 02 Dec 1994 13:14:47 EST
Subject: Other life in Universe

With the debate going on about science and religion, I was reminded of a 
question I've been wrestling with for some time: what is the Jewish view
of the possibility of (intelligent) life on other planets?
Let me just present some of what I've considered.
At first, the idea sounds ridiculous. According to Judaism, humans are the
reason for the creation of the entire universe, and humans are, in some
sense or another, the "best" form of life which can exist (I am purposely 
leaving the definition of "best" vague). The existence of intelligent life
on other planets seems to challenge this viewpoint.
On the other hand, isn't it possible for other intelligent (i.e., have a 
language, conscious of their existence) beings to be intelligent but NOT
be "better" than us; but rather just be like the other life forms on earth.
That is to say, aliens could be very much smarter and more sentinent than
animals, but as far as theology goes, we would consider them in the same 
class as animals.
Another possibility is the following: what if the alien society was much
like our own, and they had different religions, all very different from
the religions on earth. However, what if there were a small group of
aliens who were Jewish (for instance, had a version of the Torah exactly
matching ours)! Could this be possible.

I don't think I've ever seen a discussion of this in any of the common
sources. Does anyone know of any sources?
What do people think?

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 241C
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 14:04:09 EST
Subject: Sherus Li'oome and Daas Torah: Repy to Y. Menken

I was going to take a pass on responding to Yaacov Menken's fervent
response to a recent posting of mine, leaving his broad brush attacks on
sherus li'oome and the Army (for girls) for someone more nogaia ledavar
than myself sitting in Silver Spring, but then I figured.... Nah.

First a note on language. I think the association of "stifling" with
"daas torah" is un-necessarily provocative and a self-evident oxymoron
if care isn't taken with the punctuation and I assume it was this
juxtaposition which served as a red flag to the bull as it were and put
Yaacov's adrenalin into such overdrive. I borrowed the language from a
previous impassioned poster who used it in a kind of challenge
show-me-who-ever-heard-of-such-a-ridiculous-thing mode. I was happy to
accept the challenge but probably should not have picked up on the
phraseology even as a goad. My own terminology would call these examples
instances where people attempted to impose their hashkafos on the
broader jewish community while declaring that opposing viewpoints, even
by gedolai hador, were totally invalid. All this without recourse to
ordinary halachic citations. Now for Yaacov's response to two of my

a) The NY Board of Rabbis case. It would seem Yaacov would like to
re-visit the controversy which swirled around the initiative of some
orthodox groups to join this "mixed" board, arguing that this would
legitimate or give equal status to conservative-reform rabbbis with the
orthos etc. This is nothing more than a now stale re-hash of the
strenuous arguments cited by the opposing Aguda side.  While Yaacov is
clearly convinced by the self-evident to him righteousness of these
arguments, he should educate himself to the fact that there were rabim,
gedolim, and tovim who held contrary views and should think thrice
before attacking many who have dedicated their lives to be marbitzei
torah and oaskim betsorchei tzibbur be'emunah (such as R. Lamm),
including many talmidei chachamim, and who acted out of their
perceptions of the cost-benefits to the kelal as a whole. In any event
there is nothing new here.

Parenthetically, i'll remark that this whole incident catalyzed quite a
partisan tumult for many years and indirectly led to a rather bizaare
turn of events during a personal encounter I had with R. Yechezkel Sarna
z"l of Yeshivas Chevron some time later. But that is a tale perhaps for
another day.

b) I will leave Yaacov's attack on women's army service for those more
immediately nogaia, perhaps as a yet unexplored toladah for those mj-ers
involved in the current army thread. But will say I found Yaacov's broad
brush attack on sherus li'oome to be close to a motzi shem ra on an
entire class and generation of frum mizrachist sherus li'oomi
girls. Three of my frum nieces have completed or are currently
completing their sherus li'oome and i resent Yaacov's implied
denigration of their idealistically tendered service and sacrifice.

I will also say that Yaacov's characterization of the problem with
sherus li'oome service - "The problem is a girl can't leave her outpost
the first time a man makes a pass at her..." - and his description of
beleaguered sherus li'oome girls unable to abandon their lonely outposts
and fend off the sexual depredations of their "experienced" supervisors"
leaves me shaking my end in wonderment. Thus the irony of being accused
in Yaacov's next sentence of naievete has a certain
Alice-in-the-looking-glass quality to it. Can this truly be what he, or
perhaps the typical Jewish Observer readership, actually believes? The
mind boggles. Perhaps some resident Israeli readers can supply him with
a more balanced reality check.

c) Yaacov goes on to prove his anti-sherus li'oome assertions by
describing an encounter he had with two vacationing sherus li'oomeniks
at a Tel Aviv Beach. I imagine then that self identified Charedi,
Chassidic, Moden/Center/Peripheral/Republican/Short/Suffering From Pains
Of Psoriasis Orthodox, not to mention Agnostics and Rotarians should all
also come in for his group censure since all have produced individuals
involved in criminal behavior, and have probably cavorted on the beach
as well.  The reductio ad absurdum hardly needs belaboring but Yaacov
will find this a lonely world if such group guilt arguments gain much

d) I think what also bothered me reading Yaacov's assault on the honor
of sherus Li'oome participants, and the parents who support them, was
the same issue mentioned previously by other posters (possibly
E. Turkel) and that is the general lack of hacaras hatove. It is one
thing, perhaps, to make a personal decision, based perhaps on the
rabbonim's advice that you respect, about your daughter and your
environmental fears. it is quite another thing to attack those who,
relying on other distinguished rabbonim, may have formulated different
opinions and who are doing their best to provide the kelal yisrael with
idealistic service. The issue is not perhaps as sharp or reprehensible
as it is with soldiers not getting even aknowledgement of their service
(if that is what happens - as described by some posters) but it is

e) Finally, there is confusion in yaacov's posting, mirroring similar
confusion in some others posters, between the issue of "advice" of
chachamim and the issue of modern daas torah decrees.  No one, I think,
has ever suggested that the former wasn't a great idea, even for general
(not obviously halachic) issues of the day. It is only the latter, in
the form of the unsolicited attempts to impose a particular hashkafa or
course of action on a broader community - which in fact may look to
different gedolim - and the presumptous intent to delegitimize
chachamim, gedolim, and geonim who are not of your own party - which is

Mechy Frankel                                          W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                                    H: (301) 593-3949


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 94 07:33:55 -0800
Subject: The curse of the artichoke

I have a funny problem, which I hope someone can help me with.

The Mishna In Kilaim 5:8 refers to a "KINRAS". The Baartuneru explains
that this is the "dardar" referred to in the Torah, where G-d tells Adam
in Genesis:3 that as a result of his eating from the forbidden tree
"Kotz V'dardar tazmiach lach" - usually translated as thorns and

However, Rabbi Kahati in his commentary on the Mishna translates Kinras
as "artitchoke". And, for whatever it is worth, Jastrow translates the
word the same way.

Now if this is correct, G-d is punishing Adam by telling him: the thorns
and artichokes will abound. Doesn't sound right - or am I missing

Hayim Hendeles


From: Yehuda Harper <jrh@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 22:06:34 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Yaakov vs. Yisroel

Jay Bailey writes:

>A couple weeks ago we read that Yaakov's name is changed to Yisrael,
>first by the angel, and then by G-d 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 :)  What use Yaakov any more at all?

A related question:  G-d changed Avraham's name from Avram to Avraham.  Its
assur to call him Avram.  Yet, we say "Avraham, Yitzchak, V'Yaakov" instead
of saying "...V'Yisroel."  Why is it assur to call one of the patriarchs by
him former name but OK to call another by his?  This was a question at
shalos seudos at my shul a couple of shabboses ago; but nobody was able to
answer is satisfactorily.

Yehuda Harper


End of Volume 17 Issue 4