Volume 19 Number 56
                       Produced: Thu May 11 23:40:10 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Derech Eretz
         [George Max Saiger]
Flying and Bentshing Gomel
         [Mike Gerver]
         [David Goldhar]
Vav DeGachon and the Codes issue
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Voting   19 #31
         [Neil Parks]
YU's support of gay clubs
         [Jeff Stier]


From: George Max Saiger <gmsaiger@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 1995 16:00:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Derech Eretz

It had seemed that the thread about gays at Y.U. had run its course
without input from me, but the appearance of yet another posting moves me
to comment.  My concern has to do with the absence, by and large, of
compassion and derech eretz in dealing with fellow Jews when the issue of
homosexuality becomes part of the discussion. The disagreements were largely
framed around the issue of how to extrude gay people rather than how to absorb
them.  This is in contrast to an interesting vignette that appeared in the
New Yorker some years ago as part of a series about Chabad.  The author,
looking for critics of Lubovitch for her final installment, had
interviewed a self-identified gay man.  "How can they possibly be
accepting of you?" she asked. (My paraphrase).  The answer:  "They see me
as in process of t'shuvah."  Mail-Jewish posters and readers-- and modern
Orthodoxy in general-- would do well to take notice.  Rather than sneer
about the gay mixers serving kosher food or take umbrage over their
distribution of sholach monos, we, like the hassidim on their
mitzvah-mobiles, should rejoice in that.  What we all, chassidim and
misnagdim alike, have to learn from the Rebbe, ZTz"L, is that we need to
meet all Jews where they are.  Kiruv (coming closer) proceeds from there.

I wish all the members of the Mail-Jewish community a hag sameach v'kasher.


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 3 May 1995 1:20:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Flying and Bentshing Gomel

There was a thread around the middle of volume 18 on this topic, and
someone (I can't locate it now) asked why one should, according to some
opinions, bentsh gomel after any plane flight, but not after driving the
same distance in a car, which is much more dangerous statistically.

It occurred to me, while taking off in a plane yesterday, that there is
a sense in which flying in a plane _is_ unusually dangerous, more
dangerous than driving in a car, and that might explain why it is
appropriate to bentsh gomel after the experience. Most plane crashes
occur during takeoff or landing.  During the few minutes that you are
taking off and landing, the probability per unit time that you will die
in a plane crash is rather high, compared to typical risks that people
experience. For example, if you are flying in a commercial flight of a
major airline, then the probability of dying in a plane crash during
those few minutes is about equal to the probability of dying from a
heart attack or stroke, if you are in your 50s. If you are younger than
50 and in good health, or if you are flying in a commuter plane or in
the airline of a third world country, then the probability of dying in a
plane crash during those few minutes is several times greater than the
probability of dying of a heart attack or stroke during the same period
of time. This is not true if you integrate the probability over an
entire flight lasting an hour or more, and certainly it is not true if
you integrate the probability over your whole life, but it is true that
for those few minutes, you have a substantially greater probability of
dying than you usually do. For this reason, one might feel a little
nervous during that time, and it is proper to feel grateful afterwards
for having survived it.

While driving between the cities, the probability is spread out over
several hours, rather than concentrated in a few minutes, and the
probability per unit time of dying in a car crash is less than the
probability of dying of other causes. There are certain circumstances,
of course, e.g. a near miss of colliding with another car, when the
probability of dying is much greater per unit time than normal, but
these are precisely the situations where it is appropriate to bentsh
gomel after driving a car.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: David Goldhar <dgoldhar@...>
Date: Tue, 09 May 95 18:48:03 
Subject: Interest

The Biblical injunction against taking interest from a Jew for lending
money is not dependent on whether or not a risk exists in such a loan.
In fact their is no risk, since the borrower is responsible for
repayment and methods exist to recover delinquint loans. The reason for
the injunction is explained by the Sefer HaChinuch as being a form of
Gemilos Chasadim, derived from the passage "v'cha achica imach", ie,
that a Jew should help his fellow Jew by lending him money if he (the
borrower) is in need.

This injunction does not apply to non-Jews since "v'cha achica imach"
does not apply. The natural inclination to charge for the use of one's
money is permitted in this case; in fact it is a positive injuction TO
TAKE INTEREST in such a case (since a Jew is enjoined to show chesed to
a fellow Jew on account of his fellow Jew's keeping the mitzvos; to a
non-Jew, and according to some opinions Jews who do not keep mitzvos,
since he does not keep mitzvos, he is not enjoined).

The Heter Iska is a means wherein a Jew seemingly lends another Jew
money and collects interest. In fact he is lending half of the sum
without interest, and investing the other half in the recipient. The
'interest' payed is a pre-agreed fixed 'return on investment' for the
investment portion (in place of splitting the profits, which might
require the recipient - the 'borrower'- to appear in Beis Din and swear
that the declared profits - or losses! - are correct.). All this must be
stipulated in advance of the monies being given to the 'borrower'. The
basis of this Heter is a seeming investment; the problem with the use of
the Heter is when it is used as a cover for what is in fact merely a

Much has been written about this Heter, and it is not the place in this
posting to address further this complex subject. An interesting footnote
concerning this, however, can be found in a comment of the Torah Temimah
on this week's parsha (B'Har, Vayikra 25:36, note 192).  He wonders why
no hint (remez) exists in the Torah regarding this Heter, and how,
therefore, Chazal were able to institute it. His explanation is that at
the time of Torah, money (kesef) was a currency for transacting
business, and not a commodity (ie the object of the business). Therefore
the above mentioned injunction applied.  Subsequently, however, money
came into use as a commodity itself; entire sectors of the economy deal
in money like any other commodity.  This was particularly so for the
Jews in the Gola since they were displaced from their own land and
restricted from owning land in the Gola. This necessitated and validated
the institution of the Heter, since in this case no violation of "v'cha
achica imach" occurs.


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 1995 13:54:19 -0400
Subject: Vav DeGachon and the Codes issue

Mechy Frankel (MJ 19#17b) correctly points out to the flaws in the
numerology of the various masoritic poniters, such as "vav DeGichon"
(VaYikra 10:42) which is suppose to be the middle of the Torah in
letters, and is off by about 5000 letters and other similar
examples. Indeed, the Talmud in Kidushin 30a, where this assertion is
made, already concludes that "Inhu bekiey be'chaseirot vi'yeteirot -
anan lo beki'inan" They [who made this statement] knew all the lettering
variations - we [who are discussing this subject here] are no longer
knowledgeable in the subject of full and deficient lettering". The
Talmud is therefore stating that even in their [Talmudic] time, they
lost the ability to follow these numeric rules.

The preservation of the masoritic text was very important to ba'alei
ha'mesorah, and these numeric rules were used to preserve the texts in
the most accurate way. The word "Sofer" (scribe) comes from counting the
letters of the Torah "Nikreu sofrim shehayu sofrim ha'otiyot shebatorah"
(Kidushin 30a). Another method of preserving the accuracy of the Torah
was by comparing it to "Sefer Ha'Azarh", a Torah which was kept in the
Azarah (courtyard) of the Temple, and which was considered a flawless
Torah. (Moed Katan 12:2 ; 3:4; See also Rambam,Hilkhot Tifilin 7:2).

"The numbering of chapter and verse in the Bible was introduced for
Christians (probably early in the thirteen century) by Stephen Langton,
Archibishop of Canterbury" (Notes on the new translation of the Torah by
H.M.  Orlinsky, JPS, 1970, pp 20-21) The verses discussed in the Talmud
are not necessarily the same verses used today. In addition, the Talmud
itself notes that there were variations in the devision of verses
between Israel and Babylonia (Kidushin 30a).

Hayim Hendeles (MJ19#33) correctly quote R. Moshe Feinstein that if one
reads 2 long pesukim for an aliya he maybe OK. R. Feinstein states that
one should make a distinction between long and short pesukim especially
in the second half of the Torah since "ve'hitgalach" is supposed to be
half of the Torah in pesukim, and we found it in [parashat] Tzav [i.e.,
not in the middle] (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim, 1:35).

As to the "Codes" arguments. I do not understand mathematical typology
or statistical numerology, and could and should not express a view in
the "sceintific" issues involved in the discussion of the codes. I leave
that to Mike Gerver, Sylvain E. Capple (MJ 19#17a) and others who are
qualified to do so. However, the data (Torah) on which these methods are
applied, is flawed in the lettering AS IT IS STATED IN THE TALMUD ITSELF
and quoted above. Therefore, an analyses of flawed data can produce only
flawed results regardless of its sceintific authonticity.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Neil Parks <nparks@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 95 02:13:38 EDT
Subject: Voting   19 #31

>>  Chaim Shapiro wrote:
>> >> >I am concerned about my obligations in dealing with the Gay
>> >> Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance (GLBA).  In accordance with University
>> >> policy the GLBA has a right to a charter and funding when requested.
>> >> What am I supposed to do?  Do I follow University policy and vote to
>> >> grant them full rights and privleges, or do I actively oppose and vote
>> >> against them?  Or may I remove myself from the proceedings and abstain?

George Schneiderman replied:
>2.  If Mr. Shapiro feels that his religious convictions prevent him from
>carrying out his obligations under university policy, then I see only
>two possible ethical paths for him.  One would be for him to abstain on
>this issue, as he suggests.  If this is not possible, or if it is and he
>still feels that he must actively oppose the support for the homosexual
>group, than his only option is to resign from the unversity council.  ...

I believe he has a third option--he can vote "no".  If "university policy" 
dictates how its council members are supposed to vote, then why bother to 
have a vote at all?  If I were in such a position, I'd vote my conscience.

 NEIL PARKS  Beachwood, Ohio    |  "If you don't like Norton Utilities,
   <nparks@...>              |     you're anti-Symantec!"


From: Jeff Stier <jstier@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 18:29:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: YU's support of gay clubs


Dear Editor,
	After feeling the scorn of its Orthodox supporters, Yeshiva
University's public relations machine is now resorting to misinformation
in defense of the university's support of homosexual clubs. 

	 Yeshiva University spokesman David Rosen claims that the
university does not fund gay clubs.  That assertion is simply false.  In
an article in The Forward, Binyamin Jolkovsky accurately reported that
the Yeshiva University Lesbian and Gay Student Al liance at Cardozo Law
School (LGSA) receives Student Bar Association (SBA) dollars; the SBA
gets its money directly from Yeshiva University.  Y.U. has also opted to
give LGSA direct support by allowing it unlimited access to telephones,
fax and photocopy machines, as well as rent-free office space inside the
law school building adorned with the Torah U'maddah symbol.
	Y.U. is also off-base when concluding that the New York City
Human Rights Law requires it to support the LGSA.  In fact, the law
contains what the New York Court of Appeals, in Scheiber v.  St. John's
University, called a "broadly drafted" religious e xemption (84 N.Y.2d
120).  The anti-discrimination law does not apply to institutions such
as Yeshiva University that are "operated or controlled in connection
with a religious institution."  Yeshiva University's graduate schools,
including The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the Wurzweiler
School of Social Work, are operated in connection with Yeshiva
University's rabbinical school, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological
Seminary, and therefore qualify for the religious exemption.
	Y.U. also contends that it is not eligible for this exemption
because it is not incorporated as a religious institution.  However, the
St. Johns case spoke to that very issue: 
	 Plaintiff contends that only an entity organized pursuant to the
Religious Corporations Law can claim status as a religious organization
under the Human Rights Law, but our statutory exemption, broadly drafted,
contains no such limitation. 

	Y.U.'s support of homosexual activity is just another example of
the university's insensitivity to its Orthodox students.  In just the past
year, Cardozo forbade Jewish students from lighting a menorah in the lobby
on Chanukah, scheduled final exams on fast days, and held classes on
Purim while canceling class the following day (St. Patrick's day).  Now,
Cardozo is holding classes on Erev Pesach, during the very time we are
required to burn our chometz. 

	Now that it is evident that Yeshiva University is permitted by law
to discontinue funding for homosexual organizations, the question remains
whether this otherwise proud religious institution has the courage to act
in accordance with its ostensible Tor ah U'maddah principles. 

							Jeff Stier
							Yeshiva College,
 							Class of 1993,
							Cardozo Law
						 School, Class of 1996

Jeff Stier


End of Volume 19 Issue 56