Volume 17 Number 77
                       Produced: Sun Jan  8  0:30:09 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Article by Rav Hayyim Soloveitchik
         [Jonathan Rogawski]
Charity, beggars
         [Shimon Schwartz]
Codes in the Torah
         [Stan Tenen]
Pointing at Torah
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Relativistic Halacha
         [Mike Gerver]
Yeshivat Darche Noam / Shapell's
         [R. Shaya Karlinsky]


From: Jonathan Rogawski <jonr@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 95 01:50:38 PST
Subject: Article by Rav Hayyim Soloveitchik

My thanks for Arnold Lustiger for calling attention to the article
"Rupture and Reconstruction..." by Rav Hayyim Soloveitchik. I look
forward to reading it. My reaction to those parts that Arnold quoted was
almost a deja vu - R. Soloveitchik beautifully expressed feelings that I
also have also had but was never able to articulate clearly.

Yes, I have no doubt that many of us have become Jewish "technocrats",
seeking by intellectual means to make up for the vast spiritual riches
that were somehow never passed down to us but should have been. With
apologies in advance to some of the scientists on this line, I must say
that many of the science and torah discussions seem to be part of this
syndrome, e.g., searching for HKB"H in technical discussions of the big
bang, perhaps in the statistics of the codes, etc.

We know that World War II and the Shoah created an immense spiritual
divide. I felt this personally in my relationship with my grandmother
z"l. I often had the feeling that she and I lived in utterly different
worlds - she was born in 1891 and lived more than a century - her basic
sense of the world around her was different.  Of course, this is
precisely what is communicated in the magnificent photographs of Roman
Vishniac in "A Vanished World" Perhaps R.Soloveitchik's article is
really the text that goes along with those photographs.

Jonathan Rogawski
(math prof., ucla)


From: <schwartz@...> (Shimon Schwartz)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 17:19:53 +0500
Subject: Re: Charity, beggars

> From: AVIGDOR%<ILNCRD@...> (Avigdor Ben-Dov)
> I would like to ask knowledgeable readers about the practice of giving
> charity, or rather, the practice of many beggars to enter into the
> congregation of shuls and go from person to person, no matter where they
> may be holding in their tefilah, and shake a handful of coins in one's
> face to attract attention or demand a contribution. I find this objection-
> able and disruptive of prayer. I feel guilty by not giving tzedaka, but
> what about the violation of kavanah (intent) in davening? 

Our shul in Manhattan receives several such visitors each morning.
However, they are generally respectful of davenning.  One beggar, 
notably a Gentile (so I'm told), usually waits until after Kedusha
to circulate.  Occasionally, the Rabbi or a Gabbai will give them money
from the pushka, and -very- infrequently will introduce a solicitor
to the congregation.  Most beggars tend to wait a few seconds by a person, 
then move on if they don't get anything.  

This can indeed be disruptive, though I haven't seen much "shaking coins
in someone's face."  My reluctance to complain stems from the awareness
that while I'm asking G-d for my personal and communal needs, 
a person who needs something small from me is standing two feet away.
I have the feeling, which perhaps one of you reading can provide
formal sources for, that if I take care of that person, G-d will take 
care of me.  So, while he might be disturbing my otherwise flawless  :-)
kavana (attention to the task at hand), my davenning about real-world 
issues is taking place in the midst of real-world problems, which also
require my attention.

If I felt a yetzer to complain about distractions, I would begin with
casual conversation during tefila, which frequently does not involve
a mitzva act.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 00:06:21 -0800
Subject: Codes in the Torah

In m-j 17,64 Meylekh Viswanath may have put his finger on at least one
of the problems with the Letter Skip Codes: "In practice, their null
seems to be that bereishis is comprised of random sequences of letters,
which is not much as a straw man."

Traditionally we are taught that there is meaning in every letter of
Torah; there is a Sod level to Torah.  Independent of the letter skip
codes, my own - non-statistically based - work demonstrates letter level
coding in B'Reshit.  The letter Samek, which occurs on average every
100-150 letters in B'reshit, does not occur even once until the 2207th
letter (in the word Sobabe, "encircles" in Gan Eden.)  This is not a
letter skip pattern, but it is highly anomalous.  So, there should be
little doubt that B'reshit is NOT comprised of random sequences of
letters.  No matter how attractive or how carefully conducted,
statistics based on this assumption cannot be trusted.

There are other flaws in the "prophetic" reasoning about the Torah
codes.  Regardless of what the codes and correlations seem to show, it
is NOT necessary that they be predictive of anything.  There are other
possible explanations for the name-date correlations, for example.
Admittedly the following example may seem far-fetched at first, but that
does not mean that some similar alternative not yet thought of might not
be more plausible.  For example, has it occurred to anyone that these
letter skip codes were likely well known to previous generations of
Torah sages?  If, as my work seems to indicate, at least some Mishnot
are coded at the letter level in a way that is similar to Torah, doesn't
this indicate that the rules and laws of letter level coding were likely
known to the sages of the Talmud?

What if (this is speculation) great individuals who the community sought
to honor were given names already known to be coded into Torah?  What if
they were also given "spiritual" birth or death dates in addition to
their true historical dates and these dates were the ones already known
to be associated with a particular name given in the letter skip
patterns.  That "honorific" would have served to tie the memory of the
sage to Torah and it would have tended to associate certain portions of
Torah with particular sages.  This might help to teach Torah and to
teach about the sage.  If this is so, the correlations do not represent

I am NOT saying that the above happened.  (There are, however, many
possible alternatives and variations on the above.)  I am only pointing
out that predictions MUST be made for the FUTURE (as in science) if they
are to be trusted.  Predictions that are discovered only retroactively
cannot be science because they cannot be wrong.  (We can only notice
previously hidden retroactive predictions that come true.  How could we
notice something previously hidden that did not happen?  It would still
be "hidden.")

Statistics can point towards anomalies which deserve investigation.  I
would very much like to see the new paper when it is available.



From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 1995 20:00:10 -0500
Subject: Pointing at Torah

Seth Ness wrote (MJ 17#75):
>does anyone know why we point at the torah during hagbah with our

It is considered impolite to point the "pointer" finger at humans, and
therefore, the pinkie is used for pointing at the Torah. There are two
problems with this approach: 1.  We point at the Torah with the pointer
of the Yad for Torah reading, and 2. The pinkie is also used to scratch
the pituitary gland (clean language). I would rather see us use the
Sephardic custom of pointing during Hagbahah with the corner of the
Talit, and kiss the Talit instead.  Only when we have Torah reading
while the congregants are without Talitot (e.g., Shabbat's Mincha), or
for children under 13, and for women we should resort to the finger

Note: the Sephrdic Hagbahah is before the Torah reading.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 1:41:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Relativistic Halacha

In v17n41, Mechy Frankel asks what happens to a woman who gets married,
while elsewhere in spacetime, outside her light cone, her shaliach
[legal representative] accepts a get [divorce] for her from her first 
husband. Is her child from her second marriage a mamzer? In v17n46, 
Micha Berger says that since there is a chazakah [legal presumption?] 
that she is married until she can learn otherwise, which she cannot do at
the time of her second marriage since the information about her get cannot
travel faster than c, she would still be married to her first husband.

But there is a basic difference between this situation and other situations
where the principle of chazakah dimei'ikarah is applied. Micha gives an
example of a mikvah which is discovered to have less than the minimum
amount of water, and you don't know when the water level got too low, so
you assume it was OK until you discover the problem. In that case, and
as far as I know in other cases where this principle is used, the facts
are not known, and they are not expected to ever be known. The principle
of chazakah dimei'ikarah allows us to resolve this uncertainty by making
certain assumptions about the facts.

In the case of the relativistic divorcee, there is no uncertainty at all
about the facts. It is known that the get was delivered at a certain
point in spacetime, and it is known that the child from the second 
marriage was conceived at a certain point in spacetime. The only question
is which reference frame to use in deciding whether the get was
delivered before or after the second marriage. This is a halachic
question, not a question of fact, and I don't think the principle of
chazakah can be used to resolve uncertainties in halacha. I do remember
hearing somewhere that the principle of s'fek s'fekah [a doubt on a doubt]
cannot be used when one of the doubts is about what the halacha is, only
if both the doubts have to do with questions of fact. I imagine this
would also be true of chazakah dimei'ikarah.

I can imagine several possible ways to resolve the halacha.

1) Since questions of mamzerut are normally dealt with as leniently as
possible, you could take the position that as long as there is _some_
reference frame in which the child is not a mamzer, he should not be
considered a mamzer. Who's to say that that reference frame is worse
than any other reference frame? You can't _prove_ that his mother was
still married to her first husband. This approach is even more plausible
in another example Mechy used, that of someone who mafkirs his field
[makes it ownerless] when he is far away, and someone outside his
light cone steals fruit from it. You can't make the guy return the 
fruit unless you can prove that it wasn't ownerless.

2) By analogy to questions of when Rosh Chodesh occurs, we could say
that the preferred reference frame is that of Eretz Yisrael, or 
Jerusalem. This works fine in special relativity, but in general
relativity you cannot unambiguously compare reference frames of people
who are widely separated.

3) We could say that the preferred reference frame is that of the woman,
or that of the shaliach, but this suffers from the same problem as #2.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: R. Shaya Karlinsky <msbillk@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 11:23:38 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Yeshivat Darche Noam / Shapell's

     Institutuional responsiblities have kept me absent from
Mail.Jewish for a number of months.  The below announcement explains
why.  We invite Mail.Jewish readers to visit us when they are in
Israel.  I hope to now have the time for some renewed pariticipation on

     The Darche Noam Institutions is pleased to announce that Yeshivat
Darche Noam/ Shapell's has moved in to its new home in Beit Hakerem,
Jerusalem, b'sha'ah tova umutzlachat.  The new facility is larger and
more comfortable than any we have known, while maintaining the special
atmosphere which has drawn so many Talmidim who are serious about
Torah learning and personal growth.
     We are now located at Rechov Beit Hakerem 5, with the same
telephone (972-2-511178) and fax (972-2-520801) numbers.
     A very special feature of the new building is three small
apartments on premises suitable for young couples who want to spend
the year learning.  Housing, both its limited availablity and its high
cost, have been hinderances for those interested in building the early
years of their marriage on learning and Torah growth.  These
apartments are being provided at well below market rent to couples who
spend the year learning at Yeshivat Darche Noam/Shapell's and
Midreshet Rachel for Women.  If there are any couples who are
considering learning next year, and our programs are suitable for
them, please contact us for further details.  (At the above numbers in
Israel, or at 908-367-9101 to reach our US office.)

     Midreshet Rachel College of Jewish Studies has also moved to a
new location, across the street from the old location.  The new
address is Rechov Givat Shaul 11b.  The new phone number is 972-2-654-
0622, and the fax number has remained the same, 972-2-519183).

     We are planning a one week "Yarchei Kallah" summer program for
couples, Aug. 20-27, in our Beit HaKerem building.  The theme of the
program will be "Brit - The Eternal Covenant" and include morning
shiurim, three half-day tiyulim, and a Shabbat program.  Details (price,
arrangements for children, accomodation options, etc.) should be
finalized by next week.  Anyone interested in more information should
send me an e-mail message with a "snail-mail" address.

     Rabbi Yitzchak Shurin, Director of Midreshet Rachel, and Rabbi
Efraim Becker, Masgiach of Shapell's/Darche Noam, will, b'ezrat
Hashem, be in the US during January to attend the AJOP convention.
Rabbi Shurin will also be at Oheb Zedek over Shabbat, Parshat
B'shalach, Jan. 13-14; at the University of Pennsylvania over
Shabbat Parshat Yitro, Jan. 20-21; and in Toronto Jan. 22-23.  For more
information our programs, or to speak with either Rabbi Shurin or Rabbi
Becker, you can e-mail me or phone our US office, 908-367-9101.
     I expect to be in the US in February and will post my schedule
when it is finalized.

Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky                   Darche Noam Institutions
Shapell's/Yeshivat Darche Noam          POB 35209
Midreshet Rachel for Women              Jerusalem, ISRAEL
Tel: 972-2-511178                       Fax: 972-2-520801


End of Volume 17 Issue 77