Volume 18 Number 02
                       Produced: Thu Jan 19 19:44:56 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Call for submissions for the MJ Purim Edition
         [Sam Saal]
Educating Young Children on Spiritual Subjects
         [Micha Berger]
One Bottle of Water, Two People
         [Jerrold Landau]
Rashi - Parasha Yitro
         [Chaim Schild]
Rav Hersh Goldwurm
         [Asher Breatross]
Shaatnez Tzitizit
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Spiritual Education of Children
         [Jonathan Rogawski]
Teaching Parashat Hashavua to young children
         [Moshe Nulman]
Tzedakah and "Scnorring"
         [Avi Teitz]


From: <saal@...> (Sam Saal)
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 14:41:01 -0500
Subject: Call for submissions for the MJ Purim Edition

Mishenichnas new year marbim b'purim Torah submissions.

 From the start of the (secular) new year, we increase Purim Torah

Once again, I have the honor to collect, colate, and edit this year's
mail.jewish Purim edition.

Please send your contributions to me at <saal@...>

If you have an idea for a Purim Spiel, I'd love to help (you can see the
past years' attempts in the Shamash archive).

Here are some ideas for Purim torah:

novel interpretation
interesting customs
interesting blessings
political satire (especially of the Jewish world)
humor in the Torah,  Talmud or commentaries
humorous responses to MJ posts

I'm not yet sure how much stuff that repeats from previous years should
be included in this year's edition so originality counts!

Sam Saal
Vayiphtach HaShem et Peah HaAtone


From: Micha Berger <berger@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 13:05:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Educating Young Children on Spiritual Subjects

In v17n96 Jonathan Rogawski calls for comments about educating 0-6 year
olds on spiritual subjects. I've thought about this one, since I have 7
children in this age rage. (Anyone want to babysit? :-)

Questions about Hashem I usually admit ignorance. Usually the answer is
"Hashem is so special, people don't even know how to think about
Him. Noone really knows why...."

My daughter (age 5), recently thought that the air was god -- they're
both invisible, and they're both all over the place. I tried to explain
to her that Hashem is even more invisible than air, just like the part
of her that thinks, feels, and moves her body is. I mean, you can feel
air, you can weigh air, but you can't weigh a neshamah. She's probably
confused, but at least she knows that it's a tough subject, and that
invisible does not equal spiritual. (We then got side-tracked on ways to
experience air: weighing balloons, putting a cup in water upside down,

My kids' school teaches one chapter of Vayikra, and then switches to
Bereishis. I'm not thrilled with all of the things my 6 year old is
learning (that there is a shell of water around the stars, for example),
but unless you're going to stay home to do it yourself, nobody's going
to do it the way you would.

Even worse is the stories my two five-year-olds (not twins) come home
with. Parashas hashavua usually means reading "The Little Medrash Says"
to them. Half the time I don't know the stories they're talking
about. Either way, to teach those stories and not the moral or
metaphoric language being used is meaningless. Then, they don't even
have time to cover the whole parasha, because they are too busy with
Amazing Stories. (TM)

I guess it's the easy way out. Exciting stories hold the kids'

My main goal for my preschoolers is midos (personality and behavior). My
focus tends to be on bein adam lachaveiro (between man and gellow man),
and even the bein adam lamakom (between man and Hashem) tends to be in
those terms. For example, my daughter recently left the table without
bentching. I asked her how she would feel if she made something and no
one said thank you or paid attention to her. Would she want Hashem to
think that's how she thought of what He made?

Second, I try very hard to make sure my kids enjoy learning, and don't
find Judaism as something you "have to" do.

Other things, such as the text of bentching, aleph-beis, biblical hebrew
(whatever you need to learn 1st grade chumash), i.e. the mechanical
tools, I am more laid back about. I figure as long as they're keeping up
with school, and they want to learn, they'll do okay.

Micha Berger                     Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3014 days!
<berger@...>  212 224-4937             (16-Oct-86 - 17-Jan-95)
<aishdas@...>  201 916-0287
<a href=http://www.iia.org/~aishdas>AishDas Society's Home Page</a>


From: <LANDAU@...> (Jerrold Landau)
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 15:20:34 EST
Subject: One Bottle of Water, Two People

The case of two people lost in the desert, where one of them has enough
water to keep himself alive, but there is not enough water to keep them
both alive (i.e. if the owner of the water shares his water, both people
will die), is quite well known.  The owner of the water keeps the water
for himself.  This scenario is described clearly in the Talmud.
However, what would be the halacha if both of the people who are lost in
the desert happen upon a bottle of water at the same time (once again,
the bottle of water only contains enough to keep one of them alive)?
Would they fight to see who gets it first, would it be appropriate for
them to offer it to each other, or to split it perhaps (even though both
would die)?  An analogous scenario is if two people are in a crashing
airplane (with a minute or so until crash time), and there is one
parachute available.  Would anyone know what halacha would dictate in
this case?

Jerrold Landau


From: SCHILD%<GAIA@...> (Chaim Schild)
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 12:06:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rashi - Parasha Yitro

In Rashi in Yitro (Shemos 19:12), he states that the gevul (boundary)
SPEAKS to the people........

Does anybody know of a supercommentary on Rashi where they elaborate on
this statement which appears to derive from the "extra" "laymor/saying"
in the passuk ?

That the boundary itself speaks is certainly a novel interpretation
similar to the goral (lottery) speaking when they divided eretz Israel.



From: <ash@...> (Asher Breatross)
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 10:19:49 -0500
Subject: Rav Hersh Goldwurm

The latest issue of the Torah U'Mada Journal has a fascinating article
written by Rabbi Adam Mintz about translations of the Talmud. In discussing
the various translations, particularly the Artscroll translation, he notes
that Rav Goldwurm was editor of the translation and that he died in 1993. I
am wondering if anyone has any biographical information about Rav Goldwurm
and what was the cause of his demise.


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 11:16:40 EST
Subject: Shaatnez Tzitizit

> >From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
> 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

If not universal, it's at least a majority opinion that tzitzit w/o
tchelet is midrabanan.  Why one can go out on shabat with tzitzit is an
interesting question, and my recollection is that the mitzvah d'rabanan
was instituted k'ein d'oraita, the rabbinic command was instituted along
the same lines as the Torah command.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: Jonathan Rogawski <jonr@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 11:35:23 PST
Subject: Spiritual Education of Children

Thanks to Nechama Nouranifar, David Charlap and Richard Friedman for
responses with several good suggestions to my query concerning the
"spiritual education of children".

All three responses emphasized the importance of being honest and
genuine with children and admitting ignorance when appropriate.  This is
certainly sound advice, but let me add that this is something I was
pretty much taking for granted.  I think most of us parents don't feel
the need to appear omniscient in front of our children - in any case,
the illusion wouldn't last long!  And in all things, but especially
something so fundamental as spiritual life, we certainly don't want to
give concocted "kiddie versions" to our children.

Furthermore, as Richard points out,  

>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.  

Yes, the questions and comments of children often show a great deal of
sensitivity and perception. They can zero in on issues of profound
significance, and it's a wonderful opportunity to clarify and probe
one's own conceptions and beliefs, as well as deepen the bond between
parent and child.

Both David and Richard emphasized that to some extent, concentrating on
the straight p'shat (simple explanations) of the Torah is a good thing
since young children are not always clear on what is p'shat and what's
midrash. Good point. Nechama recommended the NY Board of Jewish
Education curriculum for teaching young children Chumash - is there a
convenient place to order those books?

I've also found one can have fun discussions with a child about halakhic
judgements - trying to decide who is right in a dispute between two
parties in various situations - this ties right in with everyday
experience at home and in school.  For this purpose, I used the weekly
e-mail newsletter sent out by Ohr Somayach encapsulating a particular
issue that arose in the Daf Yomi of the week.

In essence, the answers we give to children are same answers we give to
ourselves.  But I still think there are some deeper issues that need to
be thought out -- and probably have been by people more knowledgeable
than myself.  Furthermore, as one who did not receive a Jewish education
as a child, it's valuable to hear how those who did experienced it.
Regarding the question of how to present B'reshit (creation) to
children, I received a very interesting private e-mail response from
someone who wrote (I paraphrase because I'm not sure I have permission
to quote) that as an adult, she acknowledges and ponders complex
philosophical questions about religious belief and practice, but that
having learned as a child, in a loving atmosphere, that Hashem created
the world, provides an emotional and psychological anchor.

What about the Akeidah (binding of Isaac)? This is something we as
adults must grapple with in light of our knowledge and experience, but
shouldn't we think carefully how to best explain it to a child who has a
much more limited experience - or perhaps to wait until a certain age to
discuss it?  I'm not sure.  What about korbanot (sacrifices) in V'yikra.
They are certainly taught to fairly young children - so my question is:
how can we present V'yikra at the Shabat dinner table with young

Again, the point is not to put a sugar coating on the Torah - or to be
in any way less than genuine.  But children do respond in a direct way
to the power of the Torah, and the way we guide them has a great
influence on how that child develops his or her relationship with Hashem
and the Torah.  In the process, both child and parent or adult receive
an education, and this is certainly at the heart of Jewish life.  But
therefore it's important and worth thinking about!


From: Moshe Nulman <MNULMAN@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 1995 14:33:41 GMT+2
Subject: Teaching Parashat Hashavua to young children

Regarding Jonathan Rogawski's request on resources to teach Parashat 
Hashavua to young children. The Early Childhood Center of the Board of 
Jewish Education in NYC, is using Parashat Hashavua to develop a 
curriculum to nurture Jewish values and concepts in a developmentally 
appropriate way. It is called "First Steps in Learning Torah With 
Young Children." The target ages are from 4 - 7. To date, only 
the portion on Bereshit is available, the portion on Shemot is in 
printing and should be available soon. Bereshit is available for $25  
from  : The Board of Jewish Education
        426 West 58th Street
        New York, New York
Sorry, I don't know the zipcode.



From: <TEITZ.AVRAHAM@...> (Avi Teitz)
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 11:07:41 -0500
Subject: Tzedakah and "Scnorring"

Regarding the recent postings in Mail.jewish vis-a-vis requests for
tzedaka (a.k.a. "schnorring" - a horribly demeaning term), I think we
should keep in mind that the mitzvah of tzedakah is not dependent upon
what the requester looked like, smelled like, his/her political
philosophy, etc.  We should be makir tov that we are in the position to
help a yid, and that it is far better to be in the position to give than
to have to ask.

Furthermore, the tzedakah paradigm as currently formulated is backwards,
in that we feel as though we, the well off, are giving to the poor.
However upon reflection, one can see that it is exactly the opposite,
for while we are rich monetarily, we are poor with respect to mitzvot.
Thus, the ani asking us for tzedakah is really offering us, the
mitzvah-poor, schar mitzvah. Moreover, when these requesters of tzedakah
knock on our doors (a common paractice in our religious communities) we
also have the opportunity to be mekayaam the mitzvaah of hachnosas
orchim (by inviting them in, letting them sit in a "covadike" spot,
offering them food/drink, treating them respectfully, etc. - after all
they are offering us something of great value).  Thus, the following
question is posed: In the tzedakah transaction, who should be more
grateful, the one receiving money, or the one recieving schar mitzvah (a
rarer and infinitely more valuable commodity)?


End of Volume 18 Issue 2