Volume 18 Number 22
                       Produced: Tue Jan 31  0:15:58 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Codes in Torah
         [Stan Tenen]
Kashruth in Israel
         [Lon Eisenberg]
Premeditated / Desire and Mikva Story
         [Jerrold Landau]
Wedding in Shul / Bat Mitzva
         [Zvi Weiss]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 18:05:40 -0800
Subject: Codes in Torah

The recent postings from Prof. Gans are a most welcome addition to our
discussion.  In my opinion, his postings (and his videotape) on the
Codes are technically and traditionally sound.
     Given that solid folks are doing solid work on the codes, I wonder
how it is that there is so little discussion of what the codes might
mean or point to beyond their simple novelty.  If they do not offer a
"proof of Torah" or a "proof of G-d" (as I believe they do not), then
what do they prove or demonstrate?
     My question is similar to one I have asked of the "crop circle"
researchers.  Okay, let's assume that the codes (or the crop circles)
are real.  Why are they there?  Why would G-d (or "space aliens" in the
case of the crop circles) go to the trouble of sending us trivial and
content free messages when, assuming these are real phenomena, they
could have included some much really useful information?  (BTW, it is
not a trivial question to ask what would be really useful information.)
     Why list historical events or rabbis names and dates?  What do
these facts teach us beyond that Torah is special?  (I'll drop the crop
circles analogy here.  I don't think crop circles are real, but I do
believe Torah is real.)
     My findings seem to offer some possible explanations for at least
some of the equal interval letter skip patterns in Torah.  I have been
posting comments on m-j for nearly 6-months now, and have sent several
hundred packets of material on my work to those who have asked to see
it.  With a some delightful exceptions, few have followed up on this.
Okay, I understand that the Meru findings include odd and peripheral
ideas for many persons.  But I would think that some of the persons
actively working on the codes might have an interest in checking out
what Meru may have found
     I am saying that the letter codes are in Torah because Torah is
laid out in "unit hands."  The statisticians discuss that the letter
codes imply that the Torah can be read on a cylindrical form because
that would mean that the equal interval letters would form a line on the
cylinder.  The torus knots that define the Tefillin-hand shape that
makes the Hebrew letters all have cylindrical braids at their cores.
They are also on cylinders - but with their ends connected.
     These torus knots just happen to be blatantly visible to everyone
every night (when viewed over many years).  These are the patterns that
the visible planets and constellations make in the night sky. They are
reproduced in basket-weaving; we make use of these patterns to form our
calendar.  (We know that this technology was known, because Micronesians
still navigate to Polynesia by using sky and wave/tide maps woven into
     From my perspective, far more important than finding a rabbi's name
and birthday in Torah is finding a map of the night sky, complete with
dynamics.  This complements our knowledge of the calendar, and offers
some insights on traditional astrological beliefs (but not here).  And
far more important than finding the orbits of the visible planets would
be finding a elegant representation of the process of ALL
self-organization.  (This is what we think we have found.)  There is
some extraordinary and timeless mathematics of great beauty here.
     Why aren't we discussing these possible implications of the codes?
     I am confused by the reliance on and fascination with statistics
per se.  Yes, the statistics are real. Yes, statistics are a valid
scientific tool.  Yes, this was the way some of the patterns were found,
etc.  Okay, we have a bone fide anomaly that begs us for greater
comprehension.  It seems to me that we should now get on with the real
work - discovering the intended meaning and teachings carried by this
anomaly.  Neither as Jews nor as scientists should we say, "okay there's
the new world, now let's go home without exploring it."
     And until we have explored the implications and ramifications of
these findings, we might be prudent to wait to advertise them.
Certainly some people will be drawn to further study by the patterns.
But this can be for good or for ill.  I have seen Christian and Moslem
publications that are now mimicking the codes.  They are not advertising
the names of famous rabbis.  They are advertising the names of their
leaders and their beliefs which they find in the Bible or the Quran by
methods that are at least superficially similar to the codes in Torah
work.  I expect, like crop circles, the codes will appear in many places
and many different teachings will be attributed to them.  I believe that
we should be careful that the codes work is not promoted in an
inaccurate, incomplete or misleading way, because that could amount to
"damning by faint praise" in some circumstances.
     If we want Torah to gain greater respect because of the codes, we
will need to discover more than just their presence.  Their meaning and
significance must be made clear.  Only then will Torah be truly honored
by these findings.



From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 95 09:41:01 IST
Subject: Kashruth in Israel

This is an issue that I often think about, but Deborah J. Stepelman`s
recent post about her experiences on TWA with meals under the auspices
of the rabbanuth of Israel prompted me to finally write about this
issue.  As an aside, I had a similar experience a number of years ago (I
think it was on El Al) in which I received a dinner with no separation
between the meat and fish.  When I wrote a letter to the rabbi whose
name appeared along with the meal (I really don't remember who it was
any more) he wrote back that "such a thing couldn't happen; the flight
attendant must have put them together" (in a sealed package?)!

There are some people who will absolutely not use rabbanuth hekhshers
(except for "mehadrin" of certain rabbanuths, e.g., Rehovoth).  That has
not been my approach: I typically will not automatically accept or
reject something because of a rabbanuth hekhsher; I attempt to
investigate further.

Now, I'd like to ask people with more experience in this matter to post
relevant information.  I'll start with the following observations:

1. About 13 yr. ago, Rav Kook (chief rabbi of Rehovoth) told a friend of
   mine that any rabbanuth hekhsher ON A PACKAGED PRODUCT is at least as
   good as the OU in America (would he make the same statment today?).
2. I am fairly satisfied with the kashruth in the cafeterias at work
   (I've been in the kitchens).  There is concern about checking rice,
   etc.  However, the Russian's who serve the food are not careful
   enough about utensils between meat and fish (I always have to remind
   them).  When I asked the mashgiah if he eats there, he said that
   there is absolutely no problem if you are not concerned about glatt.
   He claims to eat the fish (so why won't he eat the poultry?  I'll
   have to ask him next time).
3. a) If about half the population is Sephardi (or `Edoth HaMizrah), why is
      non-glatt meat allowed?  They are not allowed to eat it.
   b) Why in America is the non-glatt meat sold to the goyim, but in Argentina
      it is sold to the Israelis!?
4. I notice that the rabbanuth accepts Rabbi Ralbag's hekhshers.
   Without getting into the reliability of Rabbi Ralbag's hekhshers, I
   still realize that most orthodox Jews in America don't use them (for
   whatever reason).
5. I can't forget the recent post (I'm sorry that I don't remember the
   name of the poster) about his experience with El Gaucho, the utter,
   and the rabbanuth's (non) response.
6. A rabbi who works for the rabbanuth of Zikhron Ya`akov is in charge
   of kashruth supervision for 10 hotels in the area.  He won't eat in
   any of them (so how can he certify them as kosher)?
7. A little over a year ago, I spent a Shabbath in a hotel in Tiveria.
   The staff used an electric door to enter and exit the kitchen, as
   well as setting up hot plates Shabbath morning for lunch and leaving
   the electric juice machine in operation.  When I questioned the
   mashgiah about these issues, his reply was "What can I do; I write it
   in my report."  If that's the power of a mashgiah, what power does he
   have in supervising the actual kashruth?  I will no longer rely on
   the rabbanuth of Tiveria.
8. A lecturer who claimed to speak to members of the rabbanuth of
   Jerusalem claimed that they stated that they won't rely on rabbanuth
   hekhshers other than "mehadrin" (that means that the one who gives it
   will eat it).


From: <LANDAU@...> (Jerrold Landau)
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 95 08:51:34 EST
Subject: Premeditated / Desire and Mikva Story

Since I posted the story about the Rosh Yeshiva and the mikva, there
have been several issues raised, which I would like to address.  First
of all, David Kramer asks about the halachic source that it is worse to
do a sin out of premeditation than out of desire.  In Hilchot Tshuva,
chapter 3, the Rambam describes among the mumarim (disbelievers) one who
does a sin regularly, even though it is a minor sin, if his aim is
'lehachis' i.e.  to anger G-d or to flaunt a mitzvah.  The mumar
lehachis (someone who sins regularly in order to flaunt his
non-observance) vs mumar leteavon (someone who sins regularly out of a
concession to his desires) is discussed in several places in the Gemara,
in Chulin and Sanhedrin.  As well, in Yoma 36B, there is a discussion on
the 3 words used to describe sin (chatati, aviti, pashati), and it is
pointed out that doing a sin out of rebellion against G-d "pashati", is
worse than doing a regular intentional sin "aviti".  In any case, these
are hashkafic distinctions, and not necessarily halachic distinctions,
and I would have to agree with David that there may not be a true
halachic source.  As well, it could be argued if the yeshiva bachur in
the story was really a 'mumar lehachis'.  Perhaps he would be a 'mumar
leteavon' even though his actions were planned and premeditated.  I
posted the story in order to give a viewpoint on the premarital mikva
issue, and I did not intend it to be a halachically binding story.  Sam
Juni, perhaps somewhat sarcastically, refers to the Rosh Yeshiva in the
story as a 'hero/educator'.  The story did not imply that he was a hero.
We must remember that the venue of the story was prewar Europe, where
the viewpoint on premarital sex in the society as a whole was much
different than it is in today's world.  As well, in a Yeshiva setting,
the reactions to infractions of this sort can often be extreme.  Perhaps
the bachur's spiritual growth would have been better served had the Rosh
Yeshiva offered councelling rather than expulsion.  However, in modern
day Yeshivas, expulsion can occur for much more minor violations.  (It
would be an interesting thread to discuss the role of individual growth
vs the well being of the entire Yeshiva in Yeshiva discipline.  There
are no simple answers to this question, I am sure.)  I was bothered by
Sam Juni's reference to his friend with colon spasms, and I don't see
the relevance to the premarital sex issue.  A man may have an
overwhelming desire to be intimate with his neighbour's wife (or worse
yet with his neighbour's husband, rachmana hatzlan).  However, Torah
dictates that man must control these desires.  Torah recognizes that man
does have the ability to control his desires -- this is one of the ways
that man is different from animals.  Man's excretory needs are purely
physical, and as such they cannot be controlled (except by delaying them
for short periods -- halacha frowns upon any lengthly delay of course).
In any case, I posted the original story having in mind that it may be a
springboard for discussion.

Jerrold Landau


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 1995 18:04:19 -0500
Subject: Wedding in Shul / Bat Mitzva

Jeremy Nussbaum asks how can it be possible to innovate based upon how he
understands Micha Berger's concern at the notion of making something "fit"
the halacha...

I think that the critical factor is whether [in Micha's terms] we are trying
to fit or satisfy "external mores".  When concerns arise *internal* to the 
community, it is more likely that we will not have so much difficulty in
seeing our way to a "halachic solution".  Prozbol, Mechirat Chametz, Heter
Mechira of Sh'mitta [which is *not* all that simple to understand] were re-
sponses to problems facing the Jewish Community because of the dynamics of
the community, itself (e.g., the need to enable the poor to receive loans
from wealthy people who are afraid of being wiped out by mass default on
the loans at Shmitta) -- not because of the need or desire to "emulate" a
more of the non-Jewish society around them.

To state that we should not light fires because of the literal reading of the
verse is -- I am sure -- not honestly meant by Jeremy as to make such an 
assertion would be to devalue the whole idea of our Torah Sheb'al Peh.  It is
very dangerous to assert anything about a "plethora of rulings... which were
not explicitly there when Moshe received the Torah".  The fact of the matter 
is that we believe that in some form or other ALL of the Torah Sheb'al Peh
WAS conveyed to Moshe (I will not get involved here with whether that meant
a literal conveyance of all of Shas or whether Moshe simply received the 13
Hermeneutical Principles and the rules of their application as that is much
beyond the scope of the discussion).  Thus, this plethora *is* in some way
contained in the Torah that Moshe received.

Jeremy's assertion that it is not just previous halachic rulings that
define the value system should be analyzed in light of the TRADITION
article by Haim Soloveitchik ... however, it does not appear that
GENTILE values were particularly important in shaping our system --
except in terms of rulings meant to buffer us from such values..  The
"respected ideas" are normally those defined in terms of the Torah
system -- not in terms of the Gentile system.

How does anyone define rulings "that truly increase respect for
Judaism"?  I am quite sure that many Conservative thinkers would assert
that their dilution of Halacha did just that -- increased respect for
Judaism.  The fact is that the parameters of p'sak include many items.
These include the questions of: Tircha D'Tzibbura, Sh'at HaDchak, Hefsed
Meruba, etc. etc. -- however, the notion of "respect for the Jewish way
of life" does NOT seem to play a definitive role.  I would be most
interested if Jeremy would cite Rabbinic Responsa where these factors of
respect and enthusiasm were primary factors.  The only area where such
factors MAY have played a role was in the area of Youth Groups (e.g.,
B'nei Akiva or NCSY) where the respect/enthusiasm issue may have been

Re Jeremey's comments about the feminist who "wants a role" should be
viewed in the light of R. Moshe's Responsa (cited by me in an earlier
posting).  Pursuing a goal for the "wrong reasons" according to R. Moshe
is more than just a shame ... it involves very very serious halachic

Perhaps, the only reason we were given a Pesach Sheni was BECAUSE of the
sincere motivations of those who asked.. In any event, there is a major
difference between questions asked of G-d Who answers directly and
questions asked of our Rabbis who work within a defined halachic system.



End of Volume 18 Issue 22