Volume 18 Number 80
                       Produced: Sat Mar 11 23:47:37 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [David Kramer]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Jewish belief in the Afterlife
         [Ari Blachor]
Leisure time
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
Life, Afterlife, Resurrection
         [George S. Schneiderman]
Logos and Religious Affiliation
         [Joseph Steinberg]
Melacha: Feminine or Masculine
         [David Schwartz]
Queen Esther was a vegetarian (?)
         [Ari Blachor]
Queen Esther's Vegetarianism
         [Moshe J. Bernstein]
Was Queen Esther a vegetarian ?
         [Saul Stokar]


From: David Kramer <davidk@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 09:06:16 -0700 (IST)
Subject: Re: After-life

>From: <Sheila2688@...> (Sheila)
> The topic is Jews and belief in afterlife.  I am not sure about whether we
> believe in an afterlife, but I think we do not.

Your belief is incorrect.

The belief in the world-to-come is one of the most basic tenets of Judaism.

[ David H. Kramer                     |  E-MAIL: <davidk@...>   ]
[ Motorola Communications Israel Ltd. |  Phone: (972-3) 565-8638  Fax: 9507 ]


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 08:01:41 -0500
Subject: Esther

In the first Chapter of Megillah, there is a reference that Esther ate
"Zar'onim" ("seeds" ?) when taken to that Persian King in order to avoid
problems of Kashrut in the Royal Household (there are actually 2 citations
there as to whether she was fed non-Kosher food or not).  This is similar to
the story in the beginning of Daniel where the boys are taken to the Royal 
Palace and eat "Zar'onim" rather than "defile" themselves with non-kosher
food.  I am not sure what this has to do with being a "vegetarian".



From: Ari Blachor <100274.3470@...>
Date: 05 Mar 95 13:38:16 EST
Subject: Jewish belief in the Afterlife

Jews most certainly do believe in an Afterlife, commonly referred to as
"Olam Habo", i.e. the World to Come. Nonetheless, your response to the
Gentile was actually very much on target. Even though a Jew does in fact
get reward in the World to Come for his/her good deeds, this is not the
reason why we should do good deeds. As the Mishna (Avos 1:3) eloquently
states, a person should not serve G-d as a servant expecting a reward,
but rather as a servant who doesn't expect a reward, i.e. one who serves
his Master out of love.

Ari Blachor


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 13:40:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Leisure time

I'm interested in sources and contemporary sociological observations on
wasting time and leisure time in various observant communities.
Shulkhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 246:23 (Laws of Torah Study) states that one
who wishes to merit the crown of Torah should be careful to spend nights
studying Torah, rather than passing even one of them in sleeping,
eating, drinking, and conversation.  I am sure that watching TV and
reading novels could be added to this list as Torah-time-wasting
activities.  This seems to be couched as a recommendation rather than an
actual prohibition. I'm interested in more sources: For example, is
time-wasting only a problem with reference to Torah study, or also with
reference to other commandments such as helping the poor?

I'm also interested in sociology: The observant community varies greatly
in the degree to which various leisure-time pursuits are considered
permissible/recommended to begin with: TV, going to a bar, anything else
people can think of. These are not-recommended because of their negative
influence, not because they waste time, but in any event, in communities
where these activities are prohibited, what do people do for leisure
time? Or do they just have less of it, and they don't miss it because
they "don't know what they are missing"? For example I have never been
to a bar except once or twice and I hated it when I went. So for me,
count as one less the leisure oppportunities open to me, but i don't
miss it.

How about spending time talking with friends? Do some communities
consider that as wasting time?  Do they put fewer restrictions on women
- i.e. are women "allowed" to waste more time without societal
condemnation, because of these communities' view that women are not
obligated in Torah study (as per the reason for the negative view of
time wasting in the Shulkhan Aruch).  Or do the women never waste a
second, spare time always busy organizing sick-visiting and other hesed
(kindness) activities? And if they had a TV, the level of community
volunteering would go down, but in the meantime, they never feel the
need to relax, since they don't know what they are missing? Is it
possible that the prohibition against TV is also because it wastes time?

I'm trying to open this one up to all kinds of observations. I am more
interested in observations about "pure" leisure time, such as TV, than
in the halakhic view of activities such as reading science or
professional books.

aliza berger


From: George S. Schneiderman <schneid@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 15:11:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Life, Afterlife, Resurrection

> on its nature.  We definitely believe that everything we do in this world 
> is in preparation for the "world to come", whatever form that may take.  
> Judaism believes in resurrection and in reincarnation--all the other 
> nations of the world got it all from us in the first place.

Whoa!  Slow down a bit!  Resurrection?  Sure, you can find kabalistic
sources supporting its existence, but I would hardly call it normative
doctrine.  Nothing on it in Tanakh, nothing I'm familiar with in the
Talmud, although I imagine it must come up, and probably has some
support.  As for the rest of the world getting these concepts from
Jews--please, show some sense of history.  The great pyramids were
already old by the time Abraham left his homeland.  They were downright
ancient by the time of Jewish slavery in Egypt.  Pyramids are nothing if
not monuments to a belief in eternal life and resurrection.  Buddhists
believe in reincarnation, and you'd be hard pressed to say that this
represents a Jewish influence.  No, if you want to see any borrowing
going on, most of it is in the other direction.

More generally, the Torah and most of the rest of Tanakh seem quite 
indifferent on the question of what happens after death.  If anything, 
the implication seems to be that this is it.  Only later sources indicate 
a clear acceptance of belief in the world-to-come.  As psalm 115 
proclaims, "The dead cannot praise the Lord, none of those who sink into 
silence."  Ezekiel's "dry bones" prophecy (ch. 37) is often read as 
refering to "michayay maytim"--the resurection of the dead--although it's 
not obvious from the context that that is what he's talking about.

The simple disagreement amongst the sources shows how unclear this whole 
topic is.  Some see "olam haba"--the world to come--as something 
spiritual, without a physical reality.  This is something encountered 
shortly after death (perhaps as much as a year later, depending upon 
how wholesome a life you lived). By contrast, "michayay maytim" deals 
with the idea of physical resurrection of all righteous people (perhaps 
all people) at the "end of time", in the days of moshiach.  This is a 
physical reality, here on earth.  While various resolutions have been 
proposed, it seems to me that there is fundamental disagreement about 
whether death is followed by a spiritual "heaven" or by physical 

Certainly, normative Judaism since at least the Talmudic era has accepted 
the basic claim that there's something after this world.  But this is not 
the same as saying that everything we do in this world is in preparation 
for the next world.  We live as we must live because we are bound in a 
covenant with our Creator to heal the world--tikkun olam.  That should be 
what motivates us, not a selfish concern with our own future in the next 
world.  We should worry about this world, and let God worry about the next.
When there is undue concern about the next world, people start to build 
pyramids and cathedrals, and stop caring about the people who die during 
their construction.

--George S. Schneiderman   <schneid@...>


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 12:55:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Logos and Religious Affiliation

The Shem HaMeforash -- Y-H-W-H -- appears on the Columbia logo in the 
hall in Columbia in which the Gay & Lesbian dances are held.
Logos do not mean anything.
Columbia is hardly a religious institution.

    | | ___  ___  ___ _ __ | |__      Joseph Steinberg
 _  | |/ _ \/ __|/ _ \ '_ \| '_ \     <steinber@...>
| |_| | (_) \__ \  __/ |_) | | | |    http://iia.org/~steinbj/steinber.html
 \___/ \___/|___/\___| .__/|_| |_|    +1-201-833-9674


From: David Schwartz <NOTES.DSCHWART@...>
Date: 05 Mar 1995 12:43:12 GMT
Subject: Re: Melacha: Feminine or Masculine

In answer to Neil Parks, if melacha is feminine or masculine, see 'Hemek
Davar' in Vayakhel (the commentary from the Netziv) where he explains
that it depends to whom the melacha refers to. In Ki Siso yeose melacha
(masculine) refers to the person doing the work, meaning the work is
only ossur (not allowed) on the Sabbath itself, but if the work is
started before the Sabbath and continues into the Sabbath (on its' own)
that is allowed. In Vayakhel, where it says 'teose' melacha (feminine),
here it refers to the Mishkan (see Rashi, she'ein meleches hamishkon
doche es Hashaboss), meaning that work for the Mishkan should not be
done on the Sabbath, here the Torah is telling us that even work
initiated before the Sabbath and continues on its' own is also not
allowed where the Mishkan is concerned because it is not proper
(honorable) for the Mishkan that the Sabbath be desecrated in its'
behalf (she'ein kavod hamishkan sheyitchalel kdushat Shabbat al yadah).


From: Ari Blachor <100274.3470@...>
Date: 05 Mar 95 16:51:47 EST
Subject: Queen Esther was a vegetarian (?)

re: Richard Schwartz (issue #72)
The source you're looking for might be Megillah 13a, 16 lines from the
bottom (Va'yeshana es na'aroseha). According to some opinions there, she
was fed (by the official in charge) various kosher foods.

Ari Blachor


From: Moshe J. Bernstein <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995 13:11:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Queen Esther's Vegetarianism

in the "apocryphal additions" to the book of Esther in Greek (Addition
C), her prayer (not, of course, found in Tenak) before going in to plead
with Ahasuerus includes the fact that she has not eaten of the food of
the king, i.e., that she kept kashrut despite having to share the king's
bed. i'm fairly certain that similar remarks are to be found in
midrashic literature as well. the analogy with daniel is not accidental.
the point to keep in mind is that any comment of this sort is meant to
keep the biblical heroine as much within the boundaries of halakhah in
her behavior as is possible. this tendency is to be found not only in
Hazal, but in much early non-rabbinic Jewish biblical interpretation.
even the fact that she and Mordechai pray at certain points in the
apocryphal additions (as they do in targum and midrash) is meant to fill
in the "gap" left in the biblical narrative by the omission of the
"obvious", i.e., a jew praying at a time of serious distress.

moshe bernstein


From: Saul Stokar <sol@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 1995 08:11:04 +0200
Subject: Was Queen Esther a vegetarian ?

In m-j, Volume 18 Number 72, Richard Schwartz asked for the source that
Queen Esther was a vegetarian. The source is the Talmud (T.B. Megilla
13a) which explains the verse in Esther (2,9) "and he (Hegay) advanced
her (Esther) and her maids to the best place in the house of the women"
as follows:

Rav said: He fed them Jewish (presumbly kosher) food.
Shmuel said: He fed them bacon (lit. pigs necks)
R. Yohanan said: Vegetables (or seeds) as it is written: "so the steward
took away the food and the wine that they should have drunk and gave
them vegetables (or seeds)" (Daniel, 1,15).

According to R. Baruch Epstein, in his commentary Torah Temima, the
three opinions represent three interpretations of the favor performed by
Hegay. Rav understood the favor as being in the "moral" plane.  Shmuel
understood the favor as being in the material plane (and hence the best
food was provided, just as T.B. Hullin 17a understands Deut. 6,11
"houses full of good things" as referring to bacon) while R. Yohanan
understands the favor as relating to the ultimate purpose - i.e. that
her health and beauty improved from the diet, just as happened to Daniel
and his friends.

There is an interesting difference of opinion concerning the opinion of
Shmuel. Rashi (ad loc) is of the opinion that Ester did eat bacon, but
wasn't culpable since she was coerced. Tosaphot state "heaven forbid
that she ate the bacon!". R. Natan b. Yehiel (Rome, 11th century), in
his dictionary "'Arukh" translates the term used by Shmuel, viz.  "kadli
dehaziri", generally translated as bacon, as heads of lettuce.
According to R. Baruch Epstein, this was because the idea that Esther
ate bacon, even under coercion, was so abhorrent to R. Natan that he
used a "non-standard" translation.

Saul Stokar
Ra'anana, Israel


End of Volume 18 Issue 80