Volume 19 Number 29
                       Produced: Tue Apr 11  6:44:44 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An Observation
         [Hal Husney]
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Camp Moshava in Wisconsin
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Co-ed, etc.
         [Heather Luntz]
giving of Tora & free will
         [Heather Luntz]
         [Rabbi Uri Gordon]
Solving a minhag puzzle
         [Steve Bailey]


From: <ash@...> (Hal Husney)
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 95 20:10:00 UTC
Subject: An Observation

Just a observation that most people overlook....... When one looks at
what the jews and judiasim have given to the world there is truly an
endless list..  From the bible, jewish scholars (religious and secular),
innovations, inventions.... the jews have been the leaders or among the
leaders . One thing seems to be universal and I never have heard about
(or thought about) as being a jewish idea, the 7 day week. Week in and
out the world counts 7 days and starts again. So whats the big deal you
might ask? Nothing except the understanding of the scope and greatness
of our religion and heritage. Right now before we celeberate passover,
it says that all Jews should relate the story as they had left Mtzrayim
(Egypt). With our religion, it is easy to show our connection to our
forefathers and actually feel as we to have been ourselves freed from
slavery in Egypt.

Hal Husney  <76374.201@...>


From: <AryehBlaut@...> (Aryeh Blaut)
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 17:31:09 -0400
Subject: Bris

Baruch Hashem, today (Erev Shabbas), we brought our son, Shimon
Yitzchak, into the bris of Avraham Avinu.  I would like to share with
those interested the thoughts I shared at the s'udah (meal).

During the delivery, we had a nurse who asked many questions about
Judaism.  Considering all of the doctors who were taking care of my wife
were speaking to us about various topics in halacha and hashkafa, I
guess she just wanted to blend in.

One of the questions that she asked was regarding the bris.  She asked
if the 8th day was chosen to do the circumcision because the blood
clotting factors developed by this day.

I tried to explain to her that Hashem created us so that the blood would
clot by the 8th day independent of the commandment of giving a bris.
One was not reason for the other.  She could not comprehend the
connection of a Creator also making demands and being involved in one's

I tried to make the analogy of an inventor of a machine.  The inventor
knows that the machine needs 10 minutes to warm up before using it.  He
would not, however, in the owner's manual tell anyone to start using the
machine in 7 minutes.  So to, Hashem would not have commanded us to
alter the body by doing a bris before the body would be ready.

She still could not understand.

I then explained why we chose the names Shimon & Yitzchak.

I pointed out that as I said above, it is not always easy to see Hashem
in our lives.  The gematriya (letters = numbers) of Shimon are 466 and
of Yitzchak are 208.  Add the digits together for 16 and 10.  Add these
together and one has 26, the same as Hashem's Name Yud, Key, Vav, Kay.

I ended with a Bracha that my son should grow up to always recognize
Hashem in his life and that he develops the middos of the people he is
named after.

Aryeh Blaut


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 1995 17:07:40 -0700
Subject: Camp Moshava in Wisconsin

Mr. Simmy Fleischer writes that women are allowed to learn in the kollel
program at Camp Moshava in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, but that the
requirement is two years of Israel yeshiva.  This may be true now, but
was not true as of five years ago, when a woman I know was turned down
because they supposedly did not have any way to include women in the
program (I don't know if the problem was that they didn't want co-ed
classes and she was the only woman, but the reason was gender-based and
not related to her [very strong] qualifications for the program).
Furthermore, there had never been (at that point) any women in the
kollel program, and I doubt that there have been any since; I would
welcome any more information on the topic.

As for Mr. Fleischer's comment that girls were allowed to play floor
hockey, I know this to be entirely incorrect.  During the years I was at
Moshava as a camper (1984, 85, 86), and as a staffer (1988), girls were
not permitted to play floor hockey with the exception of one motzei
shabbat game in the second week of the first session of the summer of
1988, when I played.  I was told on every other occasion, "girls don't
like to play hockey."  Mr. Fleischer claims to remember seeing girls'
bunks playing hockey, but this never happened during my tenure at
Moshava.  Hopefully things have improved.  Finally, he is correct that
some people offered the reason that some negia might take place if co-ed
hockey were allowed, but the reason that I heard at least five times as
often was, "the boys won't be able to play as seriously because they'll
be afraid to hurt the girls."  (Somehow this excuse was also given
whenever I scored a goal in that fateful 1988 game.)

(Incidentally, after several years of team and club membership in
college, I challenge any of those boys to a [shomer-negiah] rematch;
this 'girl' does like to play hockey.  =] )

Leah S. (Reingold) Gordon


From: Heather Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 21:22:24 +1000 (EST)
Subject: Co-ed, etc.

In Vol 19#25 Zvi Weiss writes:
> One of the posters was critical of the criticism that Ari Shapiro
> leveled toward Co-ed.  After noting some material floating around in the
> Iggrot and also reading the Nefesh HaRav (as authored by R. H. Schachter
> SHLITA), it seems pretty clear that co-ed is AT BEST a sort of B'dieved
> -- i.e., if it will be impossible to establish a school otherwise, then
> co-ed can be accepted...

While personally not a fan of co-education (I guess I have read far too
much secular educational material on the subject of what co-education
does to girls to find it easy to contemplate it as a serious
*educational* alternative l'chatchila, forget about the halachic
aspects) I wonder if the reading given of Nefesh HaRav is an accurate
reflection of the Rav's position on the subject.

The reason I am querying the matter, is that one of the unusual things,
so I am told, about Maimonides, as opposed to even many of the other
similar schools (maybe even Ramaz, I am not sure) is that *all* the
classes are mixed, even gemorra and other limudei kodesh, while many
other mixed schools separate for limudei kodesh.

Now holding separate classes for limudei kodesh (or for most subjects
except where there were only a limited demand due to electives), would
surely have been feasible for Maimonides, even if opening separate
schools in Boston was not. And so a decision to davka mix limudei kodesh
would seem a little strange if the philosophy was that mixing was only
acceptable b'dieved.  And given the position of the Rav in the school,
such a decision could not possibly have been taken without his

On the other hand, another thing that has been frequently commented
about the Rav was that he believed very strongly in the minhag
hamakom. So one could well see him regarding the opening of a co-ed
school in a place that had only had single sex schools as problematic
for that reason alone, even if the change might well in other respects
have been desirable.

Chag Kosher v'Sameach


From: Heather Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 21:57:38 +1000 (EST)
Subject: giving of Tora & free will

 In Vol 19 # 27 Eliyahu Teitz writes responding to a poster who asked by 
Nadav & Avihu didn't look in the Torah to see that they were going to die:

> Obviously, there is a wrong assumption being taken here.  When Moshe
> received the Torah, he received the mitzvot.  Nothing is said about his
> being told the history of the nation until the end of the period of the
> Torah.
> There is a disagreement in the g'mara as to how the actual text of the
> Torah was given to Moshe, was it piece by piece ( m'gilla - m'gilla ) or
> all at once ( chatuma ).  I think that the opinion that says he got it
> all at once assumes that this was at the end of the 40 years, in which
> case no one seems to say that Moshe, or anyone else for that matter, had
> advanced notice of future events.

In fact there would be no point to the machlokis in the Gemara (Baba
Basra 15a - and as cited by Rashi Devarim 34:5) as to whether Moshe or
Joshua wrote the final psukim of the Torah (in which it states that
Moshe died) if in general it was assumed that people had been permitted
to see the Torah before the events happened. Even according to the view
that the last eight psukim were written by Moshe, it was clearly an
unusual circumstance and one that was inherently problematic. Now as
Moshe appears virtually throughout the Torah, if Moshe only, at most,
wrote the last psukim before they happened, then surely there is
unanimous agreement that for the rest of the events of the Torah he did




From: <URI@...> (Rabbi Uri Gordon)
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 03:01:28 
Subject: Ramaz

It is a funny thing reading about Ramaz and Rabbi Lookstein and their
"status", etc . . . over the past few weeks.  Slightly more interesting
are the discussions about what centrist orthodoxy is all about - at
least they do not overtly flirt with impropriety.

I have had the privilege of teaching in Ramaz for the past nine years -
on the heels of a YU education from high school through Revel and RIETS,
a couple of years in Kerem B'Yavne, a devotee of "Gush" and all it
represents, and a closet supporter of Agudah.  Moreover, time and again
growing up all that was heard at the shabbos table or seder was the
Rav's zt"l torah.  All that this autobiography is meant to convey is
that for all my ignorance, at least minimally I have been blessed with
exposure to (differing) great hashkafot on what is the nature of the
Jewish religious life.  One thing they _all_ have in common is the
notion of thinking, and then thinking again, before one speaks, and
needless to say knowing about what one speaks before one can even think
about the appropriateness of one's remarks.

I think I can trash or otherwise more politely subtley suggest nuanced
incongruities about Ramaz as it exists for the past decade with greater
accuracy than the mj'ers who have so far spoken about Ramaz almost as an
"anan sahadei"(an "established" truth based on several variables, none
of which speak directly to or from the particular issue or case).  Even
if all that was said and/or implied is true - what that has to do with
the license to ramble about it is beyond me.  Fact of the matter is, I
think the truth quotient about what has been said is also suspect.

The real issue however is that a small amount of observation and insight
would show that all types of students attend Ramaz, and that all
qualify, by definition, for the passion and respect heaped upon and
offered to "acheini _kol_ beis yisrael" (all Jews).  And, among them,
tens if not hundreds who actually love Torah in one form or another, in
a variety of ways not unexpected of people at this age in this station
in their life.

So, b'kitzur (in short) I would like to extend an invitation to any of
the people who have felt comfortable talking about Ramaz to come visit,
introduce yourself, and spend what you think is an appropriate amount of
time necessary to "get a handle" on what this school is all about.  The
first indication that you have spent enough time is when you leave one
day overwhelmed by how much goes on, and humbled by many students and
their commitment to Yiddishkeit, in spite of and fueled by and in
coordination with some of the complexities of the "centrist" life.
Right about that time you might also be struck by things that might be
odd, perhaps unintelligible, perhaps diifficult to justify, but will
have found comfort realizing the religious imperative to step back,
erring on the side of discretion when the brink of "mi'dvar sheker
tirchak" (the charge to distance oneself from anything that might be
even just a tad inaccurate) looms over the horizon.

Is not "ashreinu mah tov chelkenu" - thank God for all that we have been
blessed with - a healthier perspective, in life and in discourses such
as these, and leave the shmoozing, even painful "cheshbon hanefesh"
(introspective) type discussions to those who, working in the trenches,
are charged with doing so, in forums where "la'az" (honest, if not harsh
critique) is internally, justifiably raised and analyzed, and not
externally splattered?

Uri Gordon


From: <RSRH@...> (Steve Bailey)
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 1995 12:18:45 -0400
Subject: Solving a minhag puzzle

Much of what we do regarding observances is based on minhag rather than
halacha. One ubiquitous minhag on Shabbat and Yom Tov, when we make
"motzi" on challah, is making a pre-slice into the challah before
pronouncing the bracha. I discovered what seems to be the source of this
odd behavior (in contemporary times) in an article on breads in the food
section of the Los Angeles Times (March 30). The author noted that since
the Middle Ages, in Europe, the white bread, which only the well-off
could afford (thus only used on Shabbat), was a light, high-wheat bread
(called manchet, in England) which was baked at high heat to get the
most "rise". As a result, the bread had a very tough crust which,
literally, had to be chipped away with a knife before the soft bread
could be eaten. [The article continued to note that these chippings were
given to the poor to make a soup].
 This would account for the Shabbat host having to "chip away" part of
the crust before making the bracha so as to minimize the delay in eating
the bread after the bracha.
 I will leave it to another posting to discuss the implications of this
finding for a continuation of a minhag that no longer applies.

Steve Bailey
Los Angeles


End of Volume 19 Issue 29