Volume 17 Number 24
                       Produced: Thu Dec 15  1:04:36 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Army Service
         [Nachum Chernofsky]
Future of Mail-Jewish (for posting!)
         [Shaul Wallach]
Guns on Shabbat
         [Joseph Steinberg]
Israeli Document of Independence
         [Shalom Carmy]
Keeping Torah Secrets
         [Stan Tenen]
Microwave Kashering
         [Moshe Hacker]
The very first Syag
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]


From: <F5E017@...> (Nachum Chernofsky)
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 94 12:29 O
Subject: Army Service

On Dec 1, 1994, Isaac Balbin, in responding to Esther Posen wrote:
> My difficulty with her reasoning is that she has not demonstrated that the
> Army is more conducive to a propensity to compromise one's values than life
> itself. There is much evidence for people who do business and are termed
> Chareidim. I include both women and men here. Yet, is it that the Army is
> a worse influence than life itself?                                   over

I think the difference between facing life in the Army as opposed to
facing it in a job is that in the Army you are a "captive audience".
In a job, if you find the religious atmosphere oppressive, you have
an easier chance of escaping by quitting the job.  Not so in the Army.

This is not want I really wanted to talk about.  IMHO, opposition to
military service stems from the basic Charedi opposition to the
STATE OF ISRAEL.  Chareidim always opposed Zionism and even though
they took part in the workings of the state from the very beginning
(i.e. charedi members of Knesset), there has always been an underlying
and fundamental opposition to the State and all of its institutions.

In my twenty two years of living in Israel, I have thought of many
possible ways that Chareidim could contribute to the army.  I don't
want to go into them right now.  But from a theoretical point of view,
if one is opposed to the State and all of its institutions (including
the army) then he will make no effort no effort to contribute.

Just to give an example of opposition to the State:
Everyone agrees that we should pray for our soldiers.  Why don't
Chareidim say the official prayer for the soldiers?  Because it
was formulated by the Chief Rabbinate, a state institution.

Although I'm beginning to ramble, I'll conclude with a short synopsis
of the nicest Shabbat I spent in the army.  During my basic training,
we did weekend guard duty at a base whose soldiers were taken to the
northern front (pre-Litani days 1978).  As we were finishing the
ceremony of the changing of the guard, I noticed two "black hatters"
standing near the front gate of the base (10 minutes before Shabbat,
south of Chevron).  I went over to them and asked them what they
were doing out in yenem's velt (left field) right before Shabbat.
They answered me in very broken American accented Ashkenazis: "We
came, 15 boys, from Chafetz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem to spend
Shabbat with you soldiers."

Now, that's my idea of a contribution.

Nachum Chernofsky


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 94 13:44:33 IST
Subject: Future of Mail-Jewish (for posting!)

    Avi has uploaded a partial digest of opinions on the proposed
limitations on submissions to Mail-Jewish. After going through the
file, I have a few further comments to offer.

    First, the total number of responses was 32; i.e. only a 2.4%
turnout of the total Mail-Jewish readership.

    Secondly, as Avi noted, not all the responses were included. Mine,
for example, was not there.

    As to the breakdown of opinion among the 32 responses included,
at most 22 people supported any kind of formal limitations on either
the number or size of submissions. While this is, as Avi noted, a
large majority of the responses, it is barely 1.5% of the total of
1335 current subscribers and is therefore hardly a mandate for any
restrictions on submissions.

     Moreover, even these 22 people were not uniform in their views.
5 of them recognized the need for exceptions. 4 objected to the long
postings, while others objected to the total volume. At least 3 were
concerned with keeping the moderator's work down. 2 people reported
difficulties in reading postings longer than even 1 or 2 terminal
screens. One person objected to Mail-Jewish as an open forum as
opposed to an "exclusive daily journal", while another preferred
seeing it like a digest of papers presented to a professional society.
Only one person considered unsubscribing because of excess volume.

     Moreover, nearly all those who favored restricting postings
supported implementation by placing limitations either on the size
or number of postings that each individual could submit. Frankly,
I think this is simply unworkable and would not lessen the volume
significantly. Consider myself, for example, as an admittedly
overactive submitter. I just went through my postings since 23 Sept.
(the day I became really active after Avi got the list going again).
Excluding Shabbat and Hag from the number of days, I have averaged
since then 0.93 posts per day and 86 lines per day (including headers).
And this includes 3 long posts which have not yet appeared as of this
writing. Without them, my average falls to 0.88 posts and 68 lines
per day. I doubt whether anyone would seriously considering limiting
an individual to less than this.

     I also took a look at the total volume recently. During November
74 digests came out, averaging 2.9 digests and 950 lines (including
headers, as sent to the archive) per working day. So far in December
the output has fallen considerably, averaging only 1.7 digests and 569
lines per working day. This falls far short of the targets which Avi
has set for himself - 4 digests a day totalling 1000 lines.

     The conclusion to be drawn from all these data is inescapable -
the problem is neither the volume, nor the long postings or overactive
submitters, but simply Avi's lack of help and his inability to keep
things rolling alone. Accordingly, the job of the editorial board that
I proposed last year (in v11n10) was intended not to impose arbitrary
restrictions on submissions, but to aid him with the day to day
preparation of the digests and in making editorial decisions on
submissions of doubtful quality. Several people have made similar
suggestions among the responses that Avi has just uploaded. In
particular, the attractive idea of grouping together submissions on
similar topics, which several people mentioned and which Avi has
himself been trying to implement, would answer the objections of those
who (like myself) do not have time to go through all the digests.

    In conclusion, therefore, while I once again commend Avi for his
outstanding job in running Mail-Jewish up to now, I strongly urge him
to accept in principle and practice the sharing of responsibilities
with an editorial board that will take an active role in both editing
and moderating submissions. With his permission I am willing to share
with members of the new board he is setting up the concrete proposals
that we discussed before for its operation. As I put it before:

                ... I hope our distinguished moderator will seriously
consider putting it into practice for the sake of Mail-Jewish and its
unique mission, in the spirit of Yithro's advice to Moshe Rabbeinu A"H,
as he said (Ex. 18:22): "... and it will lighten things for you, and
they shall bear with you" and (18:23) "... and you will be able to
stand up, and this whole people shall come to its place in peace."




From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 1994 16:48:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Guns on Shabbat

:>From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
:I just want to add one point to this discussion:
:If there is an `eruv, there really is no major problem to worry about.  Yes,
:a gun is mukzeh, but it is a "kli shemelahto leissur" [an item whose
:normal use is probhited on Shabbath], which may be moved when needed for
:its place or itself.  If you need to patrol (or protect yourself), then you
:need it for itself.  The real pikuah nefesh [life preserving] issues come up
:when there is no `eruv.

I was told while in Yeshivat Sha'alvim (regarding doing shemirah on 
Shabbat, etc.) that a gun is not to be moved on Shabbat unless:

  You have a potential need for it AND you know how to use it

I assume that if a gun is causing a sakanat N'fashot (i.e., it is sitting 
loaded where a child may reach it, etc.) it can be moved as well -- 
however, a situation like this should never be entered in the first place!



From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 10:09:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Israeli Document of Independence

"Tzur Yisarel" (Rock of Israel) is open to religious and secular 
interpretations. The ambiguity is deliberate, a "compromise" between the 
religious Zionists, who couldn't imagine leaving G-d out, and the 
secularists who couldn't tolerate keeping Him in. I can't quote 
supporting literature at the moment, but it's been discussed.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 14:15:02 -0800
Subject: Re: Keeping Torah Secrets

Yaakov Haber writes: "I'd like to share a thought.  Whenever the 
kabbalists taught their disciples they always did so in an ambiguous 
fashion. ....."   I know that we are taught that this is so.  
Nevertheless, it has taken me ONLY <big smile> 27-years to figure out 
that what they were saying was as simple, as straightforward as any 
human could possible say something.  They were using the least ambiguous 
language available at all times.  I believe that the presumption that 
they were not comes from later students who did not understand the 
teachings a well as their teachers.  Yes, there are cases where sages 
said that they were deliberately being ambiguous.  Even in these cases I 
believe that our sages were being _diplomatic_.  They rightly did not 
want those who could not understand to feel slighted.  - And many truly 
great sages fit this category.  Even on this conference, when I say I 
know something unambiguously that someone feels our sages did not know, 
someone inevitably feels slighted or insulted.  Only those who 
meditated, for example, could possibly understand discussions of 
meditative experience.  To all others, the discussions must remain 
ambiguous and problematic. 

Obviously I have not looked at all kabbalah, but what I have looked at 
is generally unambiguous.  What so upsets me is that I (and others doing 
similar work) are caught in a double bind.  We cannot demonstrate that 
what we have found is so (and halachic) until others examine our work, 
and no one will examine our work as long as they believe that it is 
unhalachic or impossible or that it contradicts our sages.

I (who cannot even read the original language) say that I can 
_unambiguously_ translate the introduction to the Sefer Zohar (or 
Mishneh Ain Dorshin in Hagiga), for example.  I know of no halachic, 
academic, or occult source that can do this.  There are many 
translations, but none are unambiguous.  When the geometric language is 
recognized, each and every term makes explicit sense in a coherent whole 
that serves as a perfect introduction to the Zohar.  When the geometric 
language is not recognized, the only possible translations are 
allegorical.  (There is ONLY ONE, non-ambiguous, NON-allegorical 
"Thirteen Petaled Rose," for example.)  That is like "translating" a 
BASIC program as if it were a poem instead of recognizing the actual 
formal language it was written in.  What else but ambiguity can result 
from such a presumption?  Could a computer run on a French spelling of 
the BASIC words used in the program?  No, the BASIC program would not 
run and its meaning would be ambiguous to say the least.  Should a 
programmer throw out their programs because a poet cannot read them 
unambiguously?  Should I throw out my findings because teachers today 
are not equipped to understand the mathematics involved? 



From: Moshe Hacker <HACKERM@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 10:22:06 EDT
Subject: Microwave Kashering

This is a question of CYLOR but, what I remember learning is, you 
have to clean out the microwave very well, use some commercial stuff , 
take a 8oz. glass of water bring it to a boil and operate the 
microwave on high for 5min. while the water is boiling to let the 
steam soke the sides, and clean it off. THis is the same thing you 
need to do to go from dairy to meat and vise versa.You see a 
microwave oven 
or a regular over for that matter has a different halacha than a pot 
because the food is not ment to touch the walls everthing you warm up 
or cook should be in a dish. MOSHE HACKER


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 94 8:45:35 EST
Subject: Re: The very first Syag

> >From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
> >The very first game of telephone tag:
> >G-d to Adam:    Don't eat the fruit of that tree.
> >Adam to Eve:   (unrecorded)
> >Eve to Serpent: Don't eat or touch the fruit of that tree.
> Perhaps we have here the very first case of making a "syag laTorah"?  :-)

This is indeed the topic of commentaries there.  I remember way back
in elementary school, that our class in Yeshivah Ohel Moshe in Bensonhurst
had a substitute teacher in perhaps 7th grade, and we were studying
Bereishit with him.  We made sure he did not have any Mikraot
Gedolot available, and started to ask him about just this topic.
We saw a comment in the Da'at Zekeinim on Rashi about the fact that
Chava added to God's command, and that opened up a path for the serpent
to "seduce" both Adam and Chava.  After the opening discussion, he
caused Chava to touch the tree, and after nothing happened the
serpent could successfully argue that just like there was nothing
to the "command" to not touch the tree, so there was nothing
to the command to not eat the fruit.  As they say, the rest is
history (or herstory).  I think we were successful in not having
that substitute teacher any more. :-)

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


End of Volume 17 Issue 24