Volume 18 Number 42
                       Produced: Mon Feb 13 22:49:24 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Acquiring & freeing slaves today
         [Akiva Miller]
Are men and women really different?
         [Rachel Rosencrantz]
Avera L'Shma (v18n37)
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Flying over water
         [Joshua W. Burton]
Reward; Women's participation
         ["Freda B. Birnbaum"]
Tachanun with Chatan
         [Elhanan Adler]
The Feminists' Intentions
         [Seth Weissman]
Women, observance, etc.
         [Zvi Weiss]


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 03:36:31 -0500
Subject: Acquiring & freeing slaves today

Several recent issues of MJ (vol 18, #19) have mentioned the idea of
acquiring a non-Jew and making him one's halachic slave, and then freeing
him, as a way for a mamzer to produce a child who is *not* a mamzer.

This issue was dealt with in great depth in the Journal of Halacha and
Contemporary Society, volume 28, Fall 1994, pages 73-104, by Rabbi David Katz
of Ner Yisrael, Baltimore.


From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 11:15:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Are men and women really different?

In an earlier issue someone said that the issue isn't that men and women
are different and so they should pray different. I understood their
reasoning to be that everyone is different and therefore we shouldn't
single out the differences between men and women unless we are being
sexist.  (I don't have the posters name, and if I got your meaning
incorrectly I appologize.)

The thing is it is precisely that men and women are different that their
means of reaching/communicating with Hashem is different.  Yes, everyone
to some extent is different, but there are more differences between men
and women, in the area of communication, than between individual people.
If you will not accept the Sages wisdom on this matter because you feel
that they are too influenced by the sexist attitutdes of earlier
cultures look at todays best seller lists.  All of the latest psychology
books on communication seem to be clearly and emphatically stating that
men and women communicate differently.  (And from the number of books,
this is a big issue on the common culture mind.)  We have _You Just
Don't Understand_, _Men are from Mars Women are from Venus_, _Things
your Mother Couldn't Tell you and Your Father Didn't Know_, and
countless others.  If the purpose of prayer is connect and communicate
with Hashem, then wouldn't it make sense to have a way that is more
natural for women for women, and a way that is more natural for men for
men?  We need to have some structure to keep us on the path and prevent
us from getting caught in the morass of the common culture, but the way
should be one that is natural to the way the neshama(soul) was created.



From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 00:10:27 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Avera L'Shma (v18n37)

In my sefer, Bigdei Shesh on Bava Basra, I have an extensive discussion
on this topic (Agada Section, Siman 4). It is relevant to a Gemara
coming up in Daf Yomi this week, 119b, about Tzelafchad as the Mekoshesh
Eitizm. I will send photocopies of it by mail (it is in Hebrew, so no
e-mail requests, please) to anyone who wants it.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 95 09:02:30 -0500
Subject: Flying over water

I would assume that R' Eliezer Waldenberg checked the statistics before
ruling, and therefore knew how extremely safe _all_ commercial aviation,
including `smaller, older propeller planes', is.  (In the last twenty
years, about twice as many people have been killed by horse-drawn
carriages as by commercial plane crashes, according to Underwriters'
Laboratories.)  We don't say birkhat ha-gomel when getting out of the
bathtub either, of course...nor each time we get out of our cars.

It seems clear to me that the danger of flying long distances, especially
over water---even though infinitesimal---has some special status, perhaps
connected with the fact that it seems so miraculous we can do it at all.
In my head, I know a 767 can make it back from the middle of the Atlantic
on one engine, but in my heart I have a lot more kavana for saying
ha-gomel when landing in one than when doing so in a nice, safe, four-
engine 747....

Weren't `digital' and |========================================================
`manual' synonyms not |  Joshua W Burton   (401)435-6370   <burton@...>
too long ago?         |========================================================


From: "Freda B. Birnbaum" <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 12:19:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Reward; Women's participation

In V18N37, Moise Haor asks:
>In response of Chaim Stern's posting V18#31, let me point out that in
>Pirkei Avot, 2nd Chapter, 1st mishna, says "Consider the cost of a
>mitzvah against its REWARD, and the REWARD of a SIN against its
>cost". So there is a concept of "reward" for a sin....but i have no
>further details...
>Any one with a deeper understanding?

Perhaps the reward of the mitzvah is taken to be the reward in olam
haba/olam ha-emes (world-to-come/world of truth), where God will have
the last word, versus its cost to the performer in this life, and the
reward of a sin is taken to be the immediate gratification in this life
versus its cost in the next.

BTW, on V18N33, Cheryl Hall comments, in the "Women, Men & Observance"

>It moved us. The imagery the authors brought to life, binding
>oneself with HaShem, enwrapping us in sheltering wings, dancing
>with love of the word, going beyond oneself to study and learn
>each of seventy faces. They all said these are the joys and ways
>you experience Judaism.  We spoke English a non-gendered
>language; we went to the best universities to study law,
>medicine, sciences, engineering; we had careers and dressed for

Well, I'm afraid I will never be accused of dressing for success
:-) or :-( , not sure which, depends on your outlook! but:

>We took all the images and metaphors to heart. You see it never
>occurred to us you didn't mean all of us.  So we beginners read
>them and were moved by them and needed to be a part of them. 

Yes, that's it exactly!  It never occurred to us!  So imagine the pain,
disappointment, and confusion, and then the resentment when we began to
realize that while some of the exclusion WAS built into the halacha
(e.g. counting for a minyan), a good deal of it WASN'T (e.g. women's
megilla readings, women dancing with a Sefer Torah (in an appropriate
setting, of course).

I'm finally beginning to get what thye meant when they said in the '60's
and '70's, usually in the context of the stuggle for civil rights and
equal opprtunities for all Americans, "If you're not part of the
solutuion, you're part of the problem."  I used to think that statement
was a bit too high-handed and self-righteous, but I'm beginning to see
that occasionally it has appropriate applications.  Seems to me that if
there is a legitimate halachic possibility of women doing something,
that those who disagree with it can go do things their own way in their
own place, and leave the women alone, just as you don't insist on every
shul davening with your shul's nusach.

Freda Birnbaum


From: Elhanan Adler <ELHANAN@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 9:57:15 +0200 (EET)
Subject: Tachanun with Chatan

Martin Friederwitzer asked:
>In Halacha Yomit we just learned that a Choson should avoid entering a
>Shul for the entire seven days of Sheva Brochos because with his
presence the Minyan will not say Tachnun. (Siman 131 Siman Katan 26 at
>the end) Is this our Minhag? I know many Shuls that are thrilled when a
>Choson comes to Shul.

I came across this several years ago when I gave a series of shiurim on
tachanun (I believe the Mishnah brurah says the choson should step out
during tachanun - not avoid going to shul!). I asked our LOR about this
and his answer was that this was a perfect example of the difference
between Lithuanians (misnagdim) and Hasidim - The "Lithuanian" approach
is "Go be happy by yourself" and the Hassidic approach is that your
simcha is everybody else's simcha as well.

* Elhanan Adler                   University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-240535  FAX: 972-4-257753    *
* Israeli U. DECNET:      HAIFAL::ELHANAN                                  *
* Internet/ILAN:          <ELHANAN@...>                          *


From: Seth Weissman <sweissman@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 95 12:12:48 EST
Subject: Re:  The Feminists' Intentions

Regarding the recent discussion over feminists and their intentions in
performing rituals, the concensus seems to be that intentions matter.
Specifically, the following criteria is applied to the woman's
motivation for performing the act(s) in question: If the purpose behind
the feminists desire to perfrom an action previously undertaken only by
men is l'shaim shomayim, then it is permissable and commendable.
Alternatively, if their motivation is merely political, this initiative
is inappropriate and should be discouraged.

There are several difficulties that arise from using this particular
criteria, and these problems can be generalized to any decision rule for
feminism or test of the feminist's actions stemming from an analysis of

1.  Complexity and Motivations: There is no a priori reason to assume
that the feminist's actions are uni-dimensional.  In other words, her
intentions can be both LSS (l'shaim shomayim) and political.  These two
catalists for behavior are not mutually exclusive.

Example of complexity and lack of mutual exclusivity: Her desire to
perform rituals can stem from a desire to serve God (LSS) AND to advance
the cause of women wishing to do what previously was limited only to
men.  In listing the motivations behind her actions, we cannot quantify
the seperate contributions from each of her two motivations.  Even if it
were possible to determine that precisely 45% of her motivation was LSS
and the remaining 55% political, what is the halacha?  Does the 45%
"good intentions" outweigh the 55% "bad intentions?"  What is the cutoff
point.  Halacha offers no metric for determining measuring the quality
of the "good" LSS concerns and no measure for the depth of "bad"
political concerns (although the issue of their being bad is subject to

2.  Inseperability and the Correlation of LSS and political concerns:
Suppose her interest is to perform the mitzva and to advertise the
appropriateness of her actions to men and other women for educational
purposes.  This second purpose will be dismissed as political by her
detractors, although the label of combination LSS and political would be
more accurate.  These twin aspects of her primary goal (the second one)
cannot be seperated.

3.  As far as the appropriateness of judging people by their
motivations, I refer to the story of David's annointing in Samuel I. (I
don't have a Tanakh in my office, but I beleive it is in the 14th
chapter.)  Samuel was sent by God to annoint as King of Israel the 'son
of Jesu' in Bethlehem.  Since Samuel was a prophet and judge, we can
assume that his understanding of human nature and insight into the
motivations of particular people was far superior to our own, and in
fact far superior to that of our greatest g'dolim today.  Yet, he made
the mistakes of attempting to annoint David's older brothers (being
impressed with their charisma), and dismissing David as a dirty,
scruffy, ignorant child.  God rebuked him by saying "you see the surface
but only God can recognize what is within."

By an application of transitivity (knowing that Samuel had superior
perception to today's leaders, and that Samuel's perception was
insufficient for the task of evaluating an individuals' worthiness and
motivations), we can deduce that the perception of our leaders is
inadequate to the task of judging the feminists.  In a time where the
intermarriage rate exceeds 50% and the participation rate of Jewish
people in rituals is dangerously low and falling, it remains for us to
to apply the commandment of dan lekav zchut (grant the benefit of the
doubt when information is limited) and the observation/law of nature
mitoch s'low lishma bo lishma (the performance of good deeds resulting
from imperfect intentions will lead to the performance of good deeds
with pure intentions).  We must cease the practice of asking intractable
and unanswerable, derisive and divisive questions about motivations and
admit the legions of women anxious to perform rituals and serve God to
our ranks.

Seth Weissman


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 15:33:24 -0500
Subject: Women, observance, etc.

 I believe that this was touched upon once.  However, Cheryl Hall's
recent posting has brought it to the fore and I beleive that this is a
critical pont that we must address.
 Given the society that women are exposed to: a "genderless" language,
more opportunities than ever before available in our secular society.
Given the fact that many come from a background where they are first
exposed to Judaism in terms of getting called to the Torah, dancing with
the Torah, or even leading Tefillah.  Given that even women who ARE
"Frum from Birth" are no longer necessarily satisfied with a "role" that
their parents may have been satisfied with....
 How do WE the "Frum community" respond to these yearnings and desires?
I do *not* believe that every woman who dances with the Torah is "trying
to make a statement of politics" -- they may indeed be making a
statement of love of Torah.  I respect that women ARE becoming more
knowledgeable and more interested in Torah and I strongly "hold by" the
statement of the Torah Temima who quotes a Responsa that a woman who
wishes to learn Torah and does so will succeed and reach "great
heights".  My question is: how are we responding to these
legit. feelings that women -- both Ba'alot Teshuva as well a "Frum from
Birth" -- may have?  How do we respond to them within a HALACHIC
 If "dancing with the Torah" is not the answer, then what is?  How DO we
convey to wonmen the feeling of "binding one's self with Hashem" if we
are going to tell them not to wear Tefillin?  How do we convey the idea
of the "light of Torah" if we still look askance at women who DO study?
 These are serious questions?  I have no answers and I am pessimistic
about solutions based upon the "wagon train" mentality that I see in the
overall Frum Jewish Community.  Does anyone here have suggestions that
we can brainstorm with?



End of Volume 18 Issue 42