Volume 17 Number 97
                       Produced: Tue Jan 17 20:13:09 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bitter Waters at Marah/Word Game
         [Rabbi Joshua Berkowitz]
         [Finley Shapiro]
Military Graves
         [Ira Robinson]
Moshe as Stenographer
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Schnorrors in schul
         [David Olesker]
Shaatnez Tzitizit
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Spider Killing
         [Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund]
Spiritual Education for children
         [Nechama Nouranifar]
Spiritual Education of Children
         [David Charlap]
Spiritual Education of Young Children
         [Richard Friedman]


From: <RYehoshua@...> (Rabbi Joshua Berkowitz)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 15:20:05 -0500
Subject: Bitter Waters at Marah/Word Game

1) In one of Rabbi Feurer's books there is an excellent homiletic
interpretation.  He suggests that the the words "ki marim hem" refers
not to the waters but to the Jews.  The water was not bitter, but the
Jews having come to expect great miracles (this is after "kriyat yam
suf") weren't satisfied with just plain water.  Hence the term
"vayilonu" is approptiate.  Otherwise, why castigate the Jews for
travelling three days without water?  The throwing in of the tree was to
teach them that just as a tree uses all kinds of waters for nourishment,
they too should have been happy with the waters they received.

2) In "Piskei Hilchot Shabbat" Harav Padawer, citing the Debrecziner
Rav, writes that it is permissable to play scrabble on Shabbat.  On
first blush I don't how what poster Jay Bailey (hi, Jay!) asks, though I
have never seen the game, is any different.


From: Finley Shapiro <Finley_Shapiro@...>
Date: 17 Jan 1995 16:40:32 U
Subject: Kobe

Readers may not yet have heard that a major earthquake hit Japan the
morning of 1/17 (Japanese time).  The port city of Kobe was particularly
hard hit, with injuries, damage, and earthquake caused fires.  The
Jewish community in Kobe has been mentioned previously on this list.
I'm sure we are all concerned how the community has fared, and would
like information from anyone on the list who can get it.


From: <ROBINSO@...> (Ira Robinson)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 12:55:31 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Military Graves

A friend of mine asked me concerning the fact that, in military cemetaries,
Jewish graves are scattered among Christian graves.  What is the halakhic
basis for this situation?

All the best, Ira Robinson


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 17:21:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Moshe as Stenographer

in response to alan zaitchik, re: moshe as stenographer,

alan writes that since yehoshua's ( and everyone following moshe )
understanding was human, and we rely on that for our psak, then why not
say the same about moshe.

yes, possibly this is true as far as the way moshe interpreted the torah
using the 13 principles of drash.  maybe once yehoshua was given s'micha
by moshe he could argue with an interpretation of moshe's.  after all,
from the statement yiftach b'doro... we see that each genration is
entitled to interpret the torah.  but this does not touch on the point
of the written segment of moshe's prophecy, the torah itself.  the torah
differs from all other writings in that moshe wrote it.  therefore,
anything stated in the torah can not be contradicted.  likewise, a
halacha l'moshe mi'sinai ( law given to moshe at sinai ) is not be
contradicted ( there are some arguments as to whether a particular law
was given to moshe at sinai, but once that is agreed to the point can
not be trumped by any logic ).

one last point: it says yiftach in his generation is like shmuel in his.
how about yiftach in shmuel's generation. would yiftach be able to argue
against shmuel or would his opinion not be as important.  if this is the
case, then yehoshua would not be able to argue on moshe. but if the
point of the statement is that yiftach would not have been elevated to
his status had he lived in shmuel's generation, then once yehoshua is
given s'micha he can disagree with his teacher, moshe.

eliyahu teitz


From: David Olesker <olesker@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 20:59:02 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Schnorrors in schul

Shimon Schwartz wrote on the subject of: Charity, beggars
> 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.

One of my father's (z'lb) favorite stories featured two men standing in
front of the aron kodesh. One; a rich man had taken some "loans" from
his unsuspecting employer had discovered that the auditors were coming
in, and needed Pounds 1,000 to replace the money.
        "Ribon shel HaOlam" he cried, "I'm desperate -- let me have
Pounds 1,000 by Monday!".
        The poor man, needed Pounds 5 for his childrens' shoes.
        "Aibishter -- please, for my children, just Pounds 5!"  he
        Each of them competed with each other for HaShem's
"attention". Each tried to "top" the other in desperation.  "I'll be
ruined", claimed the rich man. "My children will freeze" said the poor
        This went on for some time. Finally, exasperated, the rich man
turned to to the poor man and put Pounds 5 in his hand.
        "Here, take your damned Pounds 5, and let me get on with
davening!". With that he turned back to the Aron and said,
        "Now, about that Pounds 1,000...".

David Olesker <olesker@...>


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 16:58:57 -0500
Subject: Shaatnez Tzitizit

i remember hearing that shaatnez would be permitted in tzitzit only if
t'cheylet ( the special blue dye ) was used, for that is the way the torah
established the mitzva.  maybe this implies that non-t'cheylet tzitzit are
not d'orayta (i don't know) and therefore the prohibition of shaatnez would
take precedence over the combination for tzitzit purposes


From: sg04%<kesser@...> (Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 11:32:59 EST
Subject: Spider Killing

Does anyone know the source for the concept that:

For killing a spider one gets one avairah and seven mitzvot.

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund		 	            <sgutfreund@...> 
GTE Laboratories,Waltham MA      http://info.gte.com/ftp/circus/home/home.html


From: Nechama Nouranifar <nournfrn@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 12:34:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Spiritual Education for children

 Jonathan Rogawski asked the following.
> 1. How can we respond intelligently to metaphysical comments by a 4-5
> year old such as "Hashem is `clear', that's why we can't see him" or
> questions such as "Why did Hashem create dinosaurs", or more difficult,
> regarding a baby sister with an earache "Hashem could fix it in a
> second...why doesn't he?"

Honesty might be the best place to start here.  Such as we do not always 
know why Hashem does things.

> 3. What are some good approaches to the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah
> Portion) with a 4 or 5 year old, beyond the telling of the story (when
> the Parasha actually has story)? Which issues can we profitably raise
> with a young children?  Recommended books to read with children?

	The Board of Jewish Education in NY sells a curriculum for teaching
young children Chumash.  It is called First steps in Learning torah with
young children and is for 4 and 5 year olds. This might be a place to
start.  Also Torah Umesorah has LOTS of stuff for all ages that looks
	More generally have the child draw pictures of things that happen 
in the parsha.  As kids (there were lots of us) we did skits of the 
parsha shabbat afternoon for our parents (and anyone else who would 
watch).  This was a great way to keep us busy also. In addition to this 
there are parsha sheets (often given out at schools) that give stories, 
games etc..

> 4. What are the Torah principles for education at this age?  What are
> the main goals?

There are a lot of good books on this.  Try Tzivot Hashem they have a lot.

Nechama Katan


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 12:22:15 EST
Subject: Spiritual Education of Children

Jonathan Rogawski <jonr@...> writes:
>1. How can we respond intelligently to metaphysical comments by a 4-5
>year old such as "Hashem is `clear', that's why we can't see him" or
>questions such as "Why did Hashem create dinosaurs", or more difficult,
>regarding a baby sister with an earache "Hashem could fix it in a
>second...why doesn't he?"

The first thing to do is not make anything up.  If you know the answer
(maybe you asked your rabbi at a previous time) then explain the
correct answer the best you can.

If you don't know, then say so.  Many parents think they have to be
all-knowing when dealing with their children.  I see no problem (in
matters like this) in saying "I don't know".  If the child is old
enough, perhaps the two of you can go and ask your rabbi together.

>3. What are some good approaches to the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah
>Portion) with a 4 or 5 year old, beyond the telling of the story (when
>the Parasha actually has story)? Which issues can we profitably raise
>with a young children?  Recommended books to read with children?

With young children, perhaps simply telling the story would be best.
When the child knows the story (say, after two years, when he starts
answering "yeah yeah, I know...) then you can start to go into more

I found that in yeshiva high school, that there are many students who
knew lots of drash (deep explanations) but very little p'shat (simple
explanations.)  Teaching the basic story lines apart from deeper
explanations (when teaching a young person who doesn't yet know the
story) may help prevent this.

Of course, when the story mentions mitzvot, it might be nice to
explain how we practice it today.  For instance, when God tells Adam
to "be fruitful and multiply..." you can then explain that this is why
Jewish men have to get married and have children.  Similarly, when
you're reading the "shema" portion (Devarim 6) and you get to "...and
you shall write them on your doorposts..." you can explain that this
is talking about the mezuza, and show the mezuzot on your doors.

Of course, try to correctly answer any questions that your child may
bring up in the course of the lesson.

Of course, not being a father or a teacher, these ideas might be
overly idealistic.  But they seem like good ideas to me.


From: Richard Friedman <RF@...>
Date: 17 Jan 1995 15:29:15 GMT
Subject: Spiritual Education of Young Children

     Jonathan Rogawski asks fascinating questions about spiritual
education of young children (MJ 17:96).  I offer some responses, noting
that I have no academic or professional credentials as an educator, but
I am a father.

     His initial question is how we should respond intelligently to
metaphysical comments and questions.  I firmly believe that the guiding
principle should be, "Respond truthfully, based on what you believe."
There are three subsidiary principles: (a) adjust your language (but not
the content of your response) to the level your child can understand;
(b) if the truthful answer is "I don't know," or "I think X, but I'm not
sure," or "the answer is sort of X, but not exactly, and it would be
very difficult to explain the difference," then say so; (c) when the
child tunes out or shifts the subject, let the matter drop.

     I think that when kids ask these questions, they usually mean them
seriously (at least in substantial part), and they are entitled to a
serious answer.  A difficult question or comment is not a problem to be
finessed; it's an opportunity to sort out one's own beliefs on the
question (and how often do we have that opportunity?) and to engage with
one's children on an important subject.  If you do that, I think you
communicate to the child the subtext that you treat his/her question
seriously, and you encourage him/her to continue thinking about these
matters and to continue discussing them with you.

     As for some of the other questions (good approaches to Parshat
HaShavua, which issues to raise, which books to read with children,
goals for education) a reasonable starting point is that we want to
train our children that studying Torah is an exciting and interesting
and proper activity.  Thus, a good approach to the parsha can be
whatever strikes the parent as an interesting question.  It may be why
character X did what he/she did, whether the child thinks X's action was
proper, whether the child has ever seen anyone act as X did, how a
particular mitzva applies in a particular situation, or anything else
the parent thinks is interesting.

     As for a good choice of a book to read, why not the text of the
Torah itself?  If the child can read English but not yet Hebrew, use a
readable translation (e.g., the new JPS translation).  This trains the
child in studying a text.  Also, it's a helpful antidote to the tendency
of schools to give the kids midrashim as if they were part of the text

     Another way of thinking about this is to say that to a significant
degree, the process is the goal, and the enterprise is itself the end --
part of what we are teaching in studying Torah and discussing it is that
it is a Good Thing to study it and to discuss it.  Thus, it doesn't
matter so much how we do it, but that we do it, and that we do it
seriously and honestly.


End of Volume 17 Issue 97