Volume 17 Number 60
                       Produced: Fri Dec 30  1:34:41 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Conservative shuls and kashrut
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
Gilad Gevaryahu's Remarks on Ashkenazi and Sefaradi Hebrew
         [Moshe J. Bernsteind]
Haredim and the future
         [Zvi Weiss]
Legal Fictions
         [Ralph Zwier]
Legal Fictions.  U cant have it both ways!
         [Bobby Fogel]


From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswana@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 94 12:35:38 EST
Subject: Re: Conservative shuls and kashrut

Richard Friedman <RF@...> writes:

>      A number of recent postings have commented on standards and
> requirements of kashrut in Conservative synagogues.  Some of these
> postings have evidenced either insufficient knowledge or insufficient
> care in expression.  Esther Posen's comment in v17n54 especially moves
> me to reply.
>      She states that, "There is a difference between an Orthodox and
> Conservative affiliation," and, "Although there may be some blurring of
> the lines an Orthodox Jew is an Orthodox Jew."  These statements suggest
> a blithe assumption that one can reliably infer the level and nature of
> an individual's or institution's halachic standards from his/her/its
> movement affiliation alone.  Such inferences are simply not as valid as
> she suggests.
>      Similar inferences about individuals are also hazardous.  The fact
> that a particular Jew has a Conservative rather than an Orthodox
> affiliation does _not_ necessarily mean much about his or her observance
> standards.  

He goes on to state that:

> It should not be necessary to point out that not all Jews with
> Orthodox affiliations refrain from such practices.

I am not necessarily replying on behalf of Esther Posen, but I think
the question is not whether one may directly infer that a jew
affiliated with the Conservative movement eats/keeps kosher, keeps
shabes etc; or whether a jew affiliated with the Orthodox movement
does so.  Particular examples to the contrary brought by other mj-ers
such as Barry Lerner are irrelevant.  I think the question is one of
khazoke.  What is the probability that a jew keeps shabes/kosher given
that s/he is Conservative versus the probability that a jew keeps
shabes/kosher given that s/he is orthodox.  (You can add any other
conditioning information that you may wish, such as a restriction of
residence to the Upper West Side, or what have you.)  I believe the
first probability is going to be smaller.  If the matter is
sufficiently important, then one goes on to obtain more specific
information, but if the matter is not that important and/or one does
not have the time (the two may be related), then one uses the
information of religious affiliation.

Note that I am not touching on questions of maaris ayin or
legitimizing of a movement that includes non/Orthodox elements.
Those are different questions which may or may not apply in a
particular case.

Meylekh Viswanath


From: Moshe J. Bernsteind <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 13:00:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Gilad Gevaryahu's Remarks on Ashkenazi and Sefaradi Hebrew

at the risk of repeating what i have said elsewhere in print on this
topic, i must disagree with gilad's remarks. it is _not_ a question of
in what dialect to teach limmudei kodesh, but in what dialect to teach
Hebrew! it is virtually impossible to teach hebrew grammar in sefaradit;
try to get an israeli to vocalize anything correctly. they simply
cannot.  (confirmed recently in a conversation with Professor Yohanan
Breuer, who knows the israeli scene better than i). therefore, if our
goal is to teach students to read our classical texts, particularly
torah shebikhtav, they have to learn hebrew grammar well, even if this
means that they should learn ashkenazit first. at the same time, we
should have the goal of teaching israeli (the currently spoken dialect
of hebrew) at the same time. however one chooses to do that, the focus
should not be on the classical structure of hebrew grammar which israeli
ignores a good deal of the time anyway.

in my experience at both ends of the spectrum, teaching biblical hebrew
to college and graduate students, many of whom become mehannekhim, and
to my eight year old son, who attends an ivrit be'ivrit, sefaradit,
school, i find that it is easier to teach the dual pronunciation at the
earlier level. some of my very fine students who have been trained ivrit
be'ivrit all of their careers have difficulty learning the vocalization
of biblical hebrew properly. in particular, it is important that grade
school teachers learn the parameters of classical hebrew correctly,
whether they teach in ashkenazit or sefaradit. yet all too often this is
not the case.

my argument extends, of course, to opposition to ivrit be'ivrit
education as currently practiced in america generally. when i published
a letter in the education periodical Ten Da'at some years ago on this
theme, the responses, needless to say, were fairly uniformly
unfavorable. but i keep trying....

moshe bernstein
p.s. by the way, when i speak hebrew, i speak, of course, sefaradit. but 
consider the following: would you prefer a student who can order a meal 
in an israeli restaurant but cannot parse a verse of Humash or a student 
who knows the language of Tenak well, but can't order the meal? 
(remember, the tafrit [menu] always has an english column!)


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 1994 18:42:28 -0500
Subject: Haredim and the future

Shaul Wallach appears to state that it is sufficient if our teachers have
a solid grounding in learning for the sake of learning and nothing else.
To support that position, he cits the numerous beneficial activities in which
Haredim are involved.

It seems, though, that he has missed the point.
1. As has been asserted elsewhere, it is impossible to get a good Torah under-
  standing without "secular knowledge", as well.  In addition to the well-
  known matter of the Rambam (and other Rishonim) being a doctor and demon-
  strating secular expertise, we know that the Gra was most interested in 
  mathematical matters.  I have buried in my home somewhere an article on
  "cave burial" which points out that much of the difficulty that Tosafot has
  with "Gollel and Dfek" (terms used in regard to burial) stem from lack of
  historic knowledgeof how cave burial was conducted.  The point being that
  knowledge of history can be very helpful in understanding our Torah
2. Shaul appears to disregard the great success of the Franfurt community
  (which continues to this day) in raising a generation of Yir'ei Shomayim
  who were able to integrate and analyze their secular knowledge under the
  guiding light of Torah.  I have at home essays by Rabbi Schwab where he
  states that his ideal is a school where every teacher is a Yir'ei Shomayim
  who also happens to be an expert in his secular area of knowledge.  I am well
  aware that Rav Dessler contrasted the "Lithuanian" and "Hirschian" approaches
  but I do not understand how Shaul can disregard it so easily.
3.The Gemara makes clear that it is IDEAL when one's medical practitioner is
  a Jew (as opposed to a goy).  In effect, Shaul subverts the gemara's intent
  by preferring to rely upon (a) goyim, (b) religious Jews who do not follow
  shaul's haredi line of thought, (c) irreligious Jews.

I understood the comment about "learning for the sake of doing, teaching,..."
as referring to the acquisition of professional knowledge and skill which can
then be used in the best interest of the Jewish community.  It is wonderful
that B'nei B'rak has all of these volunteer organizations... which do not
require special skills to run.  However, which haredi doctor will be able to
provide medical services to the poor?  Which haredi lawyer will be able to
provide the legal help that everyone [even the Haredi] need in today's
society?  Which haredi engineer will look at some of the problems that our
modern technology is likely to bring to us?  If the ansewr is that some
NON-HAREDI will do it, then Shaul has not really answerd the posting.

Note: this should not be interpreted to mean that I do not think that young
men should spend LOTS of time learning.  Only that the focus has to be on MORE
than simple "learning for the sake of learning".  



From: Ralph Zwier <zwierr@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 19:11:16 
Subject: Legal Fictions

The discussion of legal fictions or loopholes has ignored two important

a) Sometimes a halachic solution to a problem is viewed in one
generation as a stringency whilst in a later era it is viewed as a
leniency. Only in the latter case does the question of "legal fiction"

b) Sometimes the Rabbis have closed up legal fictions which they did not
wish people to exploit.

An example of both of these instances is the oft quoted Chametz removal
on Pesach. As I understand it from my learning and from articles I have

The Torah prohibits eating Chametz, benefiting from Chametz, and owning
Chametz. You can fulfil the third condition by declaring your Chametz
null and void. A person could make a sincere declaration and actually
leave Chametz lying around during Pesach. This possibility is exactly
like the legal fictions quoted in the previous articles.  This person
fulfils his obligations to the letter of the Law and apparently perverts
the spirit of the Law. [By the way, it is interesting to note that the
existence of the "loophole" itself is brought into the open only by
Rabbinical discussion, since the Torah does not explain the method of
getting rid of Chametz].

So the Rabbis instituted an extra mitzva of bedikat Chametz and burning
Chametz which in effect "plugs up the loophole" by making the removal of
Chametz physically actually take place. Or so they thought.

Meanwhile, selling Chametz before Pesach was always a very normal way of
disposing of it. However, as has been pointed out in earlier articles,
the use of a special sale document where the Chametz does not leave the
owner's property physically was a leniency permitted for certain
situations only.

The older Halachic works envisage the transaction taking place directly
between the two parties, not as we do today where the Rabbi is the agent
for a large number of people.

As I understand it about three hundred years ago things gradually
changed and this leniency became universally performed. BUT NOT AS A
LENIENCY. It was done as a STRINGENCY. That is, in addition to burning
your Chametz and physically removing it all, you sell the remaining bits
and pieces which have been "absorbed" into Chametzdike pots and pans and
the like to a non-Jew.

At the time it was starting to be used it was not viewed as a loophole
or a legal fiction. It was viewed as going beyond the letter of the
law. [I say this advisedly since a friend of mine was permitted by an
LVOR to trade in second hand pots and pans during Chol Hamoed Pesach,
and he was told that there is NO PROHIBITION WHATSOEVER in handling
Chametz "absorbed" in pots and pans during Pesach.]

It seems that once the practice of selling Chametz became universal
there was no reason to remove any ACTUAL Chametz so long as it is
included in the sale. voila! The legal fiction.

An interesting change in Jewish practice which has taken place during my
own lifetime is that when I was a child, Rabbis would tell people
leaving home over Pesach that they still had to do Bedikat Chametz (as
detailed in Shulchan Aruch). NOW, the next generation of Rabbis tells
the next generation of people that they should include the house itself
in the sale document, and of course you dont have to do Bedikah in a
place which you don't own and don't occupy.

I can't understand why this sale transaction of the whole property 
was not done for the last 2000 years. I can't understand why there is 
such a large body of laws dealing with Bedikat Chametz if you are 
leaving your home during Pesach, which have had such a healthy usage 
over the centuries are hardly ever going to be used again.

Ralph S Zwier
Double Z Computer, Prahran, VIC Australia       Voice +61-3-521-2188
<zwierr@...>                        Fax   +61-3-521-3945


From: <bobby@...> (Bobby Fogel)
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 1994 14:16:01 +0000
Subject: Legal Fictions.  U cant have it both ways!

I will be responding soon to the multiple responses to the Legal
Fictions thread i started a while ago.  However, until then, I would
like to interject one small addition since it hit me the other day when
I heard another Legal Fiction being used by someone on television.

Remember, the Legal Fiction we started off with was work on shabat.
Someone who does work on shabat like a baal koray or a rabbi is said to
be paid for the preparitory work he does during the week instead of the
work done on shabat.

I was home late one morning this week and tuned into the Jerry Springer
talk show.  He was interviewing prostitues and call girls.  To the
accusation made by one of the audience that the call girls are violating
the law by sleeping with a man for money the call girl responded as
follows (paraphrased by me.)

=="No, I'm not violating the law.

==What I am being paid for is to go out with the man
==(i.e., have dinner with him, go to the opera with him...whatever)

==If i decide to have sex with him at the end of the night.  Thats
==on my own time and not the time that he paid for!"

Well!  it seems to me you cant have it both ways.  Her "Legal Fiction"
is as good as the one used for work on shabat.  From a halachick
perspective I guess she's not a zona (prostitute).  Yes, she gets a slap
on the wrist for sleeping with a man and not being married, but her
reasoning would preclude her from being described as a zona.

Seems to me you cant have it both ways.  If you start using reasoning
such as this you can turn the law on its head.  And to be fair and
consistent you cannot allow such reasoning on shabat but then dissalow
the zona from using it.   Thoughts?


End of Volume 17 Issue 60