Volume 18 Number 07
                       Produced: Mon Jan 23  0:19:05 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halachic Innovation
         [Avi Weinstein]
Moshe, Free Will, and Matan Torah
         [R. Shaya Karlinsky]
Special Education
         [Josh Backon]
Talmudic recipes
         [Reuven & Ellie Gellman]
Tzitzis and T'cheles
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Avi Weinstein <0003396650@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 95 06:31 EST
Subject: Halachic Innovation

I was under the impression that "Bchukoshem lo seyleychu" referred to
those things that were were done to copy gentile religious practice.  I
guess the feminist movement could be viewed as an idolatrous heresy, but
my understanding of mainstream feminism is that it was a movement born
out of repression of a certain group, namely women.  Would we say that
equal pay for equal work is forbidden to female day school teachers
because "bechukoseyhem lo seyleychu"?  Even though this was (and in many
cases still is) common practice.  BTW the fact that institutions get
away with it doesn't mean it would be forbidden for them to correct it.

Would you argue that the fact that the awareness that one hasn't been
fairly compensated emanated from a secular movement made one's complaint
illegitimate?  Ah, but we're not talking about the neutral workplace but
we're talking about a place that is clearly within the 4 cubits of
halacha, namely, the Beit Knesset and Bat Mitzvah.

It is clear to me that it is very easy to determine seriousness of
motive halachically and that is by whether the so-called "innovator"
keeps traditional halacha, has a poseq and identifies with a
halachically observant community.  I assume that the strength of that
commitment is enough to presume purity of motive.

It may be that one can find halachic precedent for a Bat Mitzvah, just
as one can find a Tosefta and a Ramban which speak of a "Shavua Habat"
(Literally the "Week of the Daughter") vis-a-vis birth, but the
awareness that more had to be done to celebrate the rites of passage of
girls came from the so-called outside world.  The "Sridei Aish" said,
"In these days of so-called emancipation where women have so many rights
in other fields, how can we hurt the feelings of a young woman who has
reached maturity by not having some formal acknowledgement of her
assuming the yoke of mitzvot..."  He also wanted to keep the celebration
out of the synagogue.  Nevertheless, he was reckoning with the issue of
fairness and wished to find a halachic way to remedy what he viewed as a
problem.  He was concerned about peoples feelings.  Why?  Because he
wanted more people to keep mitzvot and the perceived inequity of
celebrating male maturity and not female maturity may indeed hinder that
goal.  If the halacha allows one to do something and my motive is
because I'm hungry, or because I wish to earn more money I'm permitted.
So, if my motive is I want to feel more a part of my community in a
halachically permissible fashion why all of the sudden is that

If one wishes to see "Kevod Bat Melech Penima" (a woman's glory should
be private) as a guiding halachic value, then one has limitations on how
to address the issue of fairness.  It might be a nice thing to reckon
with the issue instead of dismissing their motives out of hand as
illegitimate and therefore being "their problem".  It seems to me that
Beit Ya'aqov schools were started precisely because of haredi girls
exposure to the outside world and the negative effects of them not being
formally educated. Letting girls learn chumash with rashi contradicted
the well-known mishnaic statement that was corroborated by the Rambam,
"Anyone who teaches their daughter Torah is as if they taught them to be
foolish" (or some interpret it as licentious).  I don't remember anyone
questioning the motives of the Chafetz Chayyim.

It may be that innovations in shul procedure are halachically
problematic, but not because of someone's motive, but because of other
considerations.  A healthy halachic organism has core values which
assimilate and reject knowledge from the outside world all the time.  It
is secure enough to do so without impuning the character of "Bnot


From: R. Shaya Karlinsky <msbillk@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 1995 07:56:01 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Moshe, Free Will, and Matan Torah

	In reviewing some material for a shiur, I found a translation that 
I had prepared last year of the Meshech Chochmah that has been under 
discussion. I thought it would add some clarity to what has been written 
here on the subject.  (Sorry it wasn't posted before Shabbos Yithro.)


     The prophecy of Moshe transcends that of all prophets.  Other
prophets validate their prophecy (or at least their credentials as
prophets) through miracles and wonders, and even one who believes in
these signs has a nagging doubt about their absolute validity... Only
because the Torah has commanded us to believe in a prophet who performs
miracles, the way we are commanded to believe two witnesses who testify,
despite the possibility they may not always be telling the truth, do we
accept their words.  We saw that prophets can perform miracles to tell
lies with Chanania ben Azur (Jeremiah Ch. 49; T.B. Shanhedrin 69a).
Initially he was a true prophet, but in the end gave false prophecies.
     The prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu is of a different caliber.  The
entire Jewish people, through (temporary) ascent to a level of their own
personal prophecy, saw G-d speak with Moshe "face to face", ...  (See
Shemot Ch. 19, V. 9)  As long as their belief in Moshe was based on the
miracles they saw in Egypt, another prophet could have performed other
astounding miracles and neutralized this belief.  But now, even hundreds
of thousand of prophets performing miracles while transmitting the
message to change even one detail of the Torah, cannot be listened to.
Rather, as the Torah commands us, they are to be executed as false
prophets.  For we ourselves witnessed the Divine communication with
Moshe, which is why G-d then promised "and they will also believe in you
     But if man has free will, how could G-d be absolutely sure that
despite a definite communication with G-d, later in life Moshe would not
deviate from faithfully transmitting the word of G-d?  We must conclude
that from that point, free will was taken from Moshe, and he became
compelled to serve G-d the way an angel does.  While the purpose of man
in this world is to constantly excercise free will, and without that
ability, he has no superiority over any other creation, Moshe struggled
to reach the level where he was able to nullify his free will to do
anything but the will of G-d.  He purified his material side to such an
extent that it had no drive but to follow the will of G-d, exactly as an
angel.  This was accomplished by Moshe himself, and when he reached that
level, G-d was able to testify about him that he would remain faithful
     (The Jewish people were temporarily accorded this spiritual level,
to enable them to rise to personally witness G-d's communication with
Moshe.  But after the event of hearing G-d speak directly, they were
returned their normal level, to enable them to continue operatin within a
system of free will.)

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


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Fri,  20 Jan 95 10:29 +0200
Subject: Re: Special Education

Reb Aryeh Blaut queried as to the availability of funding a special
education program for children in his community. If we're already on the
topic of education, I'd like to suggest a program that the army here used.
Although my field is neurocardiology, in 1978 I was *borrowed* from the
medical corps to the Israeli Air Force Training Command and became the
head of the Teaching Methods Unit and Assistant Head of R&D of the Training
Command. One of the learning techniques we investigated was developed by
an American psychologist by the name of Dr. W. Wenger (POB 332, Gaithersburg
MD, 20884, Tel: 301-948-1122). Curiously, his technique looked like ARICHAT
SEFATAYIM (as mentioned in Pirkei Avot). I was always intrigued by the
number of brilliant GEDOLIM and Roshei Yeshivot throughout the ages who
had a command of all of SHAS. Jews always had a disproportionate number
of people with high IQ's. With the finding in 1984 of a correlation of .95
of Spearman's General Factor of Intelligence with the enzyme glutathione
peroxidase and the linking of this with interindividual rates of lipid
peroxidation, the missing link explaining HOW Wenger's technique worked
became clear. I won't go into the neurochemistry involved but suffice it
to say that differential brain hemispheric activation can affect free radical

TACHLIS: the  nitty-gritty of the technique is quite  easy to follow (I've
even given free instruction to a number of rabbanim in Bnei Brak and
Yerushalayim in a 30 minute demo) but even the instructions here are
sufficient. Danny Skaist, a fellow reader of MJ, knows the story of a
then 16 year old borderline-retarded boy from our community who in 1978
tape recorded a one hour instructional session in the technique. Within
6 months, this boy went from the lowest level school to a major yeshiva
and is now a brilliant talmid chacham and rav. David was able to look at
a daf of gemorra and memorize it completely. They called him an ILLUI and
married him off to the daughter of the rosh yeshiva.

SUPER TACHLISS: with eyes closed, describe an image OUT LOUD using all
modalities (touch, hearing, sense, smell, etc.) for AT LEAST 5 minutes.
Example: With EYES CLOSED, I describe OUT LOUD what my living room looks
like. What's in front of me, what's in back, what I'm wearing, what it feels
like when I place my hand on the door, time of day, season of year, etc. etc.

The technique  costs nothing to implement and has been validated in an
experiment at a state university in the Northwest to increase IQ by 3/4 of
a point for every hour of training. If one adds some dietary components
(antioxidants such as ginger and turmeric) the effect is even faster.

I hope day school principals could implement this simple zero-cost technique
in their schools.

Good luck.

Dr. Josh Backon


From: <rsg@...> (Reuven & Ellie Gellman)
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 1995 21:49:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Talmudic recipes

In the off-the-beaten-track department:
We have always wanted to stage a mishnaic meal-- one that would
resemble dinner at the time of the mishna. The outer trappings
seem reasonably straightforward: individual tables, reclining, mugmar
[incense of some sort], wine (diluted?). But what about recipes?
If anyone knows of sources (or apparently authentic recipes) which
deal with this (aramaic text, hebrew or modern), we would be thrilled
to hear.

Please respond directly-- I can't imagine that there's a great hunger
for this info out there on m-j!

[But if you do pull this off, please do post back here the menu and
recipes, I'm sure that there will be people interested. Mod]

Reuven & Ellie Gellman
"Lo ra'av lalechem v'lo tzamah lamayim" (well, sometimes)


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 1995 21:10:03 -0500
Subject: Tzitzis and T'cheles

In MJ 17:97, Rabbi Eliyahu Teitz wrote:

>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

In MJ 18:2, Jeremy Nussbaum asserted:

>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.

With all due respect, I have never heard of any opinions suggesting that
non-tcheles tzitzis are only a rabbinic mitzva. If there are indeed such
opinions, I would very much like to hear who they are. My understanding is
that Tzitzis is a mitzva of the Torah, even though there is no t'cheles
available. (Some confusion may arise from the fact that the Torah prohibits
us from wearing a four-cornered garment without tzitzis, but it does NOT
require us to wear such a garment to begin with. But this question has
nothing to do with the presence or absence of t'cheles.)

My understanding is that "t'cheles" refers not only to a particular
color, but also to a particular fabric, namely t'cheles-colored
*wool*. "Shaatnez is permitted in tzitzit only if t'cheylet was used"
NOT because of some magical dispensation that "that is the way the torah
established the mitzva", but because if someone has a linen tallis,
there is NO OTHER WAY to completely do the mitzva of tzitzis, other than
by putting t'cheles wool on the corners.

My above assertions are based on the Sefer Hachinuch. The remainder of
this post is a loose translation of several quotes from the Sefer
Hachinuch, Mitzva 386, paragraph "Midinei Hamitzva":

(In the popular vowelled edition published by Eshkol, page 229, column
1, four lines from bottom) When the Mishna writes that the white and
t'cheles strings are independent, it does not mean that they are two
separate mitzvos.  Rather, it is one mitzva and there are two ways to do
it. For example, nowadays, when we do not have t'cheles, we can still
put white strings on the corners of a tallis - without t'cheles - and
still say a bracha on it as if we had done it fully with the
t'cheles. Likewise, if one did have t'cheles strings but no white ones,
he could put the t'cheles string in each corner without the white, and
say a bracha on wearing it.

(Page 230, column 1, line 9) T'cheles is definitely wool, because the
color is not good with linen (lo haya yafeh b'pishtan), rather with
wool. (Same, 5 lines from bottom) T'cheles is impossible except with

(Column 2, line 4) Any time you have a positive and negative commandment
together, if you can observe them both that it best; but if not, then
the positive takes precedence over the negative. And nowadays you *can*
keep both, because since there is no t'cheles to put on the linen
tallis, you can simply use white linen tzitzis. Using woolen tzitzis
would be shaatnez, and forbidden, period.

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 18 Issue 7