Volume 19 Number 69
                       Produced: Sun May 21 21:40:27 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ger and Lashon Hara
         [Rachel Rosencrantz]
Hameivin Yavin
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Jerusalem in the Qur'an
         [Moshe Sokolow]
Lashon HaRah
         [Zvi Weiss]
Lending and Interest
         [Mark Steiner]
Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l's Position on Coeducation
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Shape of the earth
         [Eli Turkel]
Universally Acknowledged
         [Binyomin Segal]
What to do if you violated a Rabbinical decree?
         [Ari Belenky]


From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 15:10:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ger and Lashon Hara

> >From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
> Hara.  As far as I know something is only Lashon Hara if it is a "Gnai"
> (unfavorable) in either an objective or subjective view.  If someone
> says that Mr. X is a Ger in a derogatory manner that would satisfy the
> requirements to be deemed Lashon Hara.  Otherwise unless you can show
> that being a Ger is objectively a bad thing it would permissable to tell
> somebody else that a specific person is a Ger.

Ah... but subjective also extends over to the listener.  You could say
"Yehoshuah is a ger(convert)" to Shmuel and say it in a non-derogatory
manner.  But if Shmuel likely to think "Oh, but you know those ger's,
most of them are....". Then even though Shmuel might have thought
Yehoshuah was a nice upstanding citizen and Jew and fit to be his
friend, next time he sees Yehoshuah he will think "Oh, it's Yehoshuah
the ger."  and snub him.

So, even though your intention was not derogatory the listener heard it
as such.

Now how are you supposed to know that someone will think ill of ger's or
whatever.  Well, you have to try and be as aware as possible of people's
reactions to different things.  In the area of someone being a ger since
you are not supposed to embarass gers and you are required to love them
it is probably best to not mention the fact that they are a ger unless
it is required, (like if your Kohen friend is going to go on a date with
a woman who you know to be a ger.)



From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 14:35:28 -0400
Subject: Hameivin Yavin

In MJ19#66 the source for "Hameivin Yavin" was sought.

I believe that the earliest source is in the Yerushalmi.

"mah ta'amah 'ha'yotzer yachad libam HAMEVIN el kol ma'aseihem? (Tehilim 33)
Amar R. Levi ha'yotzer yachad libbam kevar HEVIN et kol ma'aseihem"
(Yerushalmi, Rosh Ha'Shanah 1:3)

Note that this source suggests that it refers to God, whereas in modern
Hebrew it could refer to a smart person who understands from partial
information or a hint.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: <TorahDept@...> (Moshe Sokolow)
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 11:48:09 -0400
Subject: Jerusalem in the Qur'an

Regarding the absence of any explicit reference to Jerusalem in the Qur'an
(Joshua Burton, 19/63), I should like to point out that Jerusalem does not
appear in the Torah either.  Why? Because it is not referred to in TANAKH
until it became a Jewish city (or, at least, until it enterred into the
process of becoming a Jewish city).  So why should Jerusalem be mentioned in
the Qur'an if it did not become a Muslim city until its conquest by the
Caliph, Umar, in 638--6 years AFTER the death of Muhammad?!  (Incidentally,
from that moment on Muslim religious literature never stops speaking of
Jerusalem--either as Bayt al-Muqaddas or as al-Quds--there is even a genre in
Arabic literature called "Fada'il al-Quds," the praises or advantages of
Jerusalem, some of which rival midrashim and piyyutim in their attachment to
the city.)
Surely Jewish claims to the city of Jerusalem must stand on a considerably
more solid foundation than the frequency of attestations in scriptural texts.

Moshe Sokolow


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 14:49:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Lashon HaRah

Elad Rosin questions my characterization of telling someone that someone 
else is a Ger as being an example of Lashon Harah and concludes that it 
is not as long as it is not told in a derogatory manner.
I would *STRONGLY* urge Rosin to study the Hafetz Chaim in this area as 
it is an extremely serious issue.  While it *may* not be "Lashon Hara", 
telling over that someone else is a ger is very likely to fall into the 
category of Rechilut ("Tale bearing") regardless of whether the person 
telling this over is telling this in a "derogatory" fashion.  In 
addition, as there *are* people who do not behave properly toward Gerim 
(unfortunately), "broadcasting" a ger's status could end up causing that 
person very very real harm.
Probably, the only time that one may mention that someone is a ger is if 
the other person has a legitimate "need to know" -- e.g., a person 
considering a marriage to the ger (it would probably be permitted to 
reveal this info to a kohen contemplating a marriage to a Giyoret.. and 
probably should be mentioned to the Koehn BEFORE he gets involved in a 
serious relation with the giyoret).  However, in general, it is probably 
a very major qusetion to casually mention that someone else is a ger.



From: Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...>
Date: Fri,  12 May 95 18:24 +0200
Subject: Re: Lending and Interest

	It is misleading to state that it is a positive mitzvah to lend
money at interest to non-Jews.  True, the Rambam so rules; but Ramban
disagrees sharply.  "Lanochri tashikh" is, he says, similar to the
passage "Et zeh tochlu" [This thou shalt eat] where the Sifrei remarks
"This is a positive commandment."  Now, says Ramban, there cannot be a
positive commandment to eat all those kosher animals; Chazal meant that
if one violates the laws of kashrut one is ALSO violating the positive
commandment: EAT ONLY) THIS.  Similarly, when one lends money to a Jew
at interest, one is violating (also) a positive commandment: LEND MONEY
	Indeed, the Talmud (B. M.) explicitly FORBIDS lending money at
interest even to non-Jews for various reasons, allowing the practice
only to "live"--and during the Middle Ages, the prohibition was relaxed,
since Jews were not allowed to engage in other forms of commerce.
	The fact is, though, that the verse "Lanochri tashikh" is
understood by Chazal in a completely different manner than usually
translated.  The "hif`il" form "tashikh" is understood in Bava Metzia
and also by Rashi ad locum to mean GIVE interest, not TAKE interest
(cf. also Sforno on the pasuk lanochri tashikh in Ki Tetze): The the
verse means "If a non-Jew lends you money at interest, be sure to give
the interest; if your fellow Jew lends you money at interest, to give
the interest is forbidden."  Though I am obviously not in a position to
say which of the two giants of halakha is "correct," it seems to me that
we have here a grave difficulty for Rambam's view that it is a mitzvah
to take interest from a non-Jew.
	Since it is just before Shabbat here in Yerushalayim, I am
sending this off without citing Chapter and Verse.


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 13:27:36 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l's Position on Coeducation

See Rabbi Hershel Shechter's "Nefesh HaRav" p. 237 in which he quotes Rabbi
Soloveitchik zt"l as opposing the founding of coeducational schools. He notes 
that he heard a similar statement from Reb Yoshe Ber's son in law, 
Rabbi Yitzchok Twerski.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 08:29:32 +0300
Subject: Shape of the earth

      Rabbi Bertram writes

>> In the Mishna, Tractate Avodah Zorah 40b, it states that all idols, even if
>> they are worshipped only once a year, are prohibited. The Chachamim say only
>> an idol that has a stick or a ball is included in this ruling. The Gemara
>> goes on to ask, why only idols that have a ball? Tosafot (41a) explains the
>> Gemara by saying it is because the whole world is round. Tosafot quotes the
>> Jerusalem Talmud that Alexander the Great saw that the world was round like
>> a ball. 

   I used the phrase "most" Amoraim and Tannaim specifically because this
Jerusalem Talmud is the one reference that indicates a round world. From
Tosafot itself it is not clear if he is referring to a ball=globe or to
a round but flat world i.e. a disc. 

>> Therefore, if it was known in Days of Antiquity, I am sure that all
>> the Tanaim and Amoraim knew it.

   It is clear that some early Greeks including Aristotle knew that the
earth was a globe. In fact some Greek astronomers even made calculations
of the size of the earth which are quite accurate. It is also equally
clear that much of this knowledge was lost in later generations. One of
the more famous examples is of the "Rash" (a member of the Tosaphot who
wrote a commentary on the Mishna) who claims to have a proof that
Pythagoras's theorem is not correct for general triangles!

   With regard to the Talmud's knowledge of astronomy I highly recommend
the book "Torah and Science" by Judah Landa, Ktav Press, 1991.  The most
problematic places are Pesachim 94 and Chagigah 12a.  These Gemaras
discuss the size of the earth, how the sun revolves around (or rather
behind) the earth, the position of the stars etc. All these explanations
are based on the assumption of a flat earth.

    For rishonim, any connection between Maimonides description of the
heavens in "Yesodei haTorah chapter 3" and modern astronomy is purely
coincidental. Rambam states explicitly that his description is based on
Greek science. Ramban also states that his biology comes from the
"Greek" scholars (which also is wrong in many ways).  Rav Hai Gaon, Rav
Sherira gaon, Maimonides, his son Abraham and many other gaonim and
rishonim state the Chazal's knowledge of science was based on their own
observations and the knowledge of their day and not on any prophecy. In
the Gemara Pesachim Rav yehuda haNasi states that in the debate about
the path of the sun the opinion of the nonJewish scholars was preferable
to that of Chazal based on his personal observations (again, none of
these correspond to modern science).



From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 13:26:46 -0500
Subject: Universally Acknowledged

Rav Soloveitchik z"ls opinion of co-education is not anything I know much
about, however...

In Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey R. Woolf's zeal to undo the re-written history he saw
online here - I think he has - perhaps inadvertently rewritten history
again. He says:

 * I realize that the Rav's positions on many things trouble the Haredi
 * world, since he was universally acknowledged as the Gadol HaDor of
 * learning. But that discomfort on the part of Haredim should not be
 * allowed to disguise or moderate truth.

Don't know what universe Rabbi Woolf lives in - but in mine, he was
acknowledgest as a lamdin, perhaps even a Gadol. But _the_ Gadol? In
learning? Not in any yeshiva I went to. - If I had to guess who people
would have chosen as a "Gadol HaDor of learning" (though Im not sure that
the title even exists) from Rav Soloveitchik z"ls generation, I would
assume that most guys in American yeshivahs would have picked Rav Moshe z"l
(ever read his Dibros Moshe?) or perhaps Rav Kutler z"l. Israeli's would
probably have chosen the Kehillas Yaakov z"l.

Frankly (though this is not my opinion of reality - just an opinion of
opinions) I bet that 10 years ago Rav Soloveitchik z"l would not have made
a list of the "top 5" in most yeshivahs.

Not saying he was or wasn't - merely saying that rewriting history to
accord him a title of universality that is not true does no one honor -
especially Rav Soloveitchik z"l who has plenty of real accomplishments that
he brought with him to Shamayim (Heaven).

good shabbos (though by the time you see this gut voch is probably more


From: <belenkiy@...> (Ari Belenky)
Date: Fri, 12 May 95 01:47:17 PDT
Subject: What to do if you violated a Rabbinical decree?

Ben Rothke asked a profound question: what to do if you violated a
"Rabbinical decree"?

As all good questions this one also a little bit a puzzle.  The problem
is to construct a situation when the question has sense.

I understood it that a "Rabbinical decree" is a "decree" iff (if and
only if) you have a Rabbi (LOR) who agrees with this degree or who
poskined this decree by himself.

The only interesting development which I can imagine is that you go to
your Rabbi and tell him that you transgressed.  (Otherwise, as Rava,
said, "what is done is done".)

Rabbi may ordain several things.  If he has an authority of Rav Huna of
Sura he can order to flaggelate you (if you violated purposely).

If he does not have such an authority he may advice you to follow the
example of R.Zeira (my favorite Rabbi of Talmud) who repeated any
statement (even an opinion of his colleague!!)  40 times to memorize it.
As a reward he had a long life.

Ari Belenky


End of Volume 19 Issue 69