Volume 20 Number 25
                       Produced: Thu Jun 29 22:08:58 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

David and Batsheva
         [Aryeh Frimer]
Historical revisionism
         [Richard Rosen]
         [Rachel Rosencrantz]
Name Game
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Names and Negiah
         [Leah S. Gordon]
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]


From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235%<BARILAN.bitnet@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 95 09:56 O
Subject: David and Batsheva

The author of the Statement that King David A"H did not sin is Rav
Shmuel bar Nahmeni, who in Shabbat 55b justifies not only the actions of
David ha-melekh but also Yehuda, Reuven, the sons of Eli, sons of Shmuel
King Solomon and King Yoash. This view was popularized by Rashi -  and
hence this is the view we learned when we were school children. However,
in each case there are dissenting views in Hazal. For example, in the
particular case under discussion in mail-Jewish, namely, King David, the
Talmud in Ketubot 9a (at bottom) asks why Batsheva was not forbidden to
King David as a Sotah. After all a promiscuous wife is forbidden not
only to her husband but also to her lover - forever. To which the Talmud
answers two answers. The first is that Batsheva was raped by King David.
That is she slept with him under duress not volitionally. Hence she
wasn't a Sotah. This first answer makes it eminently clear that King
David did indeed sin. His greatness was that he repented completely and
fully for a heinous crime of Eshet Ish.
      As a second answer the Talmud cites R. Shmuel bar Nahmeni's
explanation of the provisional divorce, according to which King David's
crime was more of a moral sin rather than a legal one. King David
obviously did something wrong since the pasuk says "Chatati" (I have
sinned) and Hashem did kill the embryo in utero  and the Navi really let
him have it for stealing someone else's wife.
     The point of this post is that Hazal are not a monolith when it
comes to Halakha, a fortiori (latin for Kal va-Homer) when it comes to
agadeta. Our view of the Tanach characters is primarily shaped by Rashi
ha-kadosh, but the Talmud, Medrash Rabba, Tanchuma and other collections
are replete with many many other views who do present these giants "with
all their warts".  According to this latter view the Greats were great
not because they were super-human. They are real models because they are
human, with sins and foibles. What made them special was that they
repented and reshaped their lives. Almost in a Hawthornian sense Sin,
once conquered, gave them greater understanding, greater compassion,
greater humanity - and ironically at the same time - greater
spirituality. This perhaps the true meaning of Hazal's statement that
where the repentant stand in Hashem's esteem, even the completely
righteous cannot stand.
    My Father zatsa"l, Rabbi Norman Frimer, pointed this out to me in a
discussion of why Aharon who sinned with the Golden Calf was a more
succesful role model with klal Yisrael than was Moshe Rabbenu. Aharon
was real, accessible - Moshe was saintly, unapproachable, almost
   There are various approaches to Agaddeta, it's binding quality etc.
For the beginner, there is Rabbi Hayot's introduction to the Talmud
which has been translated into English. Views run the gamut: I cite
the extremely liberal positions of Rav Shmuel ben Hafni Gaon cited by
Radak (I Samuel, 28:25) and Ran Shmuel Hanagid in his introduction to
the Talmud (at the end of Brakhot) in the section "Ve-Hagada" (page 45b
in the Vilna Rom edition) who maintain that the aggadic sections are
Hazal's personal views, and while they are the views of giants are not
Divine and not binding. There are of course other more traditional views
as presented by the Maharitz Hayot, and finally the literalists. The
Introduction of Avraham ben Harambam which appears in the beginning of
the Ein Ya'akov and which is translated into English at the beginning of
the English translation of the Ein Ya'akov (forget the name of the
editor/translator) is must reading as well.


From: <rrosen@...> (Richard Rosen)
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 04:59:44 -0700
Subject: Re: Historical revisionism

Pertinent to the discussions of the Avot, the G'dolim and historical
revisionism is the apparent contradiction between two threads of our
tradition: that the Avot had "warts" and that each generation of G'dolim
is successively less pious and knowledgeable than the one before. In
accepting the idea of "warts" we are saying that we see defects in
either the piety or the understanding of Halakha of the earliest
generations.  How do we know?  Because those who followed them tried to
"correct" or understand these "defects."

When efforts are made to make such corrections in our memories of the
acts of those who preceded us, we make the assumption that they were not
_more_ pious or knowledgeable than we but less so.  We judge them by
_our_ standards in deciding who has warts and whose actions are not to
be recorded in the fear that it makes them look less pious.  Perhaps the
warts are our own, and, as tradition indicates, we are less
knowledgeable than they.  Perhaps our attempts to "correct" the lives of
those G'dolim detract from lessons we should be learning from them,
rather than adding to those lessons.  And our observation of
"corrections" currently taking place cannot help but make us wonder
about what similar "cleaning" of the record has taken place in the past,
and what knowledge and learning are lost to us because of it.

Richard A. Rosen


From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 11:18:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Modesty

You know it is interesting.  In recent studies and surveys they have
found that men and women in general have been finding relations boring.
Even singles who have relations before marriage have been finding
relations boring.

Perhaps the problem isn't that the frum people are too "over sexed" but
that the world has desensitized itself to the point where it has become
"unsexed" and the only option is to resort to yet more stimulation.
Thus the increase in popularity of B&D and S&M.  (Many main stream ads
and ads in "elite" publications use imagery of bondage to be sexual
now.)  I think it is a concern when sexuality is reduced to a power play
for excitement rather than an actual joining of two souls.

Before you scoff so heartily at snyut take a look at yourself and
society.  Look at ads from just a few years ago and compare them with
the ads from today.  Where do you draw the limit.  Myself, and many
others choose to take the Torah as our guide and take the limits that
the Gedolim and the Torah have set.  Who sets yours?  If you say
society, then you may have no true limits at all.



From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 13:21:41 -0400
Subject: Name Game

Chuck Karmiel asked:
> What is the source of the law/custom preventing one from marrying >a woman
with the same Hebrew name as one's mother?

To which Gedaliah Friedenberg <gedaliah@...> replied:
> The basis for this is Ayin HaRah....Some people may get the >mis-impression
that I am involved in prohibited relations with my >mother...
         Actually, the term here is not Ayin Hara (the Evil Eye), but rather
Mar'at Ayin (appearance's sake). 
          However, since Jews are suppose to judge people li'kav z'chut,
to give the benefit of a doubt, I respectfully suggest you'd have to be
a very sick puppy to think someone whose wife has the same name as his
mother has actually pulled an Oedipus and married dear old mom.
          Nonetheless, I think the custom of not marrying a woman with
the same name as your mother still has Freudian roots, and is designed
to prevent unseemly subconscious mental/emotional associations -- but by
the husband/son, not by strangers.
          I must also respectfully differ with the note in Gedaliah
Friedenberg's posting which said:

>The prohibition against marrying a person who shares a name with your parent
only >extends to men marrying women with the same name as their mother.  A
girl who >marries a man with the same name as her father does not create the
same problem since >after the marriage the two individuals (chosson and
father-in-law) will not have the >same name.
            Of course they will have the same name.  Aharon remains
Aharon, Yosef remains Yosef etc.  It is only the last names ("family"
names) which will differ after marriage.  And last names, it must be
remembered, are a historically recent goyish invention.  When the custom
arose against marrying a woman with the same name as your mother, there
_were_ no Jewish last names.  Names such as "Goldberg" "Rosenzweig"
etc. are at most a few centuries old.
            That being the case, we still need to have explained why it
is forbidden for a man to marry a woman with the same name as his
mother, but not for a woman to marry a man with the same name as her
    <Chihal@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 15:37:00 -0700
Subject: Names and Negiah

Mr. Shlomo H. Pick writes that a female colleague of his wrote a
successful work on the significance of names, which is popular among
religous [male] Jews, but secretly, because "is pass nicht to use a book
authored by a nekeiva."  While I suspect that Mr. Pick agrees with me
that such hypocrisy is absurd and offensive, it would have been more
obvious had he condemned even the language used in that statement.  To
refer to a woman as "a nekeiva," [literally, "a female," as opposed to
"a female person," i.e. the same language as would be used to
distinguish between cattle] is offensive.

On the topic of marrying someone with the same name as the appropriately
gendered parent, Mr. Gedaliah Friedenberg writes that the reason for a
man not to marry a woman who shares his mother's name[s] is that when
she marries, and changes her name, then the full name will be
duplicated, leading to possible confusion or worse, unwitting

Surely, if this is a serious concern, it can be avoided by the bride
keeping her unmarried last name.  Although I would think that the
confusion from same first names would be an issue, Mr. Friedenberg
comments that if a man has the same first name as his father-in-law,
then there is no problem, implying that a first name overlap is not an

For a woman to refrain from changing her last name upon marriage seems
to me a far less drastic choice than the one described in the post,
i.e. the bride who told everyone to call her by her middle name instead
of her first name.

Finally, on a slightly different topic, Mr. A.M.Goldstein writes that
the poster who was worried about opposite-sex contact during physical
therapy should request his therapist to use latex gloves.  I wonder
whether latex gloves would really resolve the question.  (Of course, we
have already had several postings pointing out that there is no negiah
problem for professional [medical] contact, but I find the latex
question interesting.)

There is of course a large population that uses a mere latex barrier for
activities that are most certainly negiah prohibitions, and such
individuals presumably do not consider the latex to be interfering with
the sexual contact.  If latex were an acceptable barrier between the
sexes, then I think there would be a bit of a problem.

Leah S. Gordon


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 9:36:48 EDT
Subject: Re: Negiah

> >From: Jonathan Katz <jkatz@...>

> Joseph Steinberg recently wrote: 
> "Negiah is a prohibition of touching in a 'sexually-motivated' manner."
> As far as I am aware, this is not true. Please correct me if I am
> wrong, but I learned that the reason that touching is not allowed is
> because, nowadays, all unmarried women are impure (since unmarried
> women, as a rule, do not go to the mikveh nowadays) and there is a
> Torah-level prohibition against touching an impure woman, in any
> way. This is why people don't even shake hands.  -Jonathan Katz

While in the matter of segregation of the sexes there are many areas
ripe for strictures, I am not aware of the prohibition of touch per
se.  I see the Rambam rules that "chibuk v'nishuk lesheim ta'avah" is
forbidden by the Torah.  As was previously posted, e.g. physical
therapy or a medical exam does not violate any prohibition, even when
those involved are of opposite sex.

The issue of women being nidah is related to the basic prohibition; if
the woman involved was unmarried and not a nidah, e.g. she bathed in an
appropriate place, she would not be an "ervah" and the nature of the
prohibition would be markedly different.  Thus the only reason there is
such an auxiliary prohibition is that the woman is nidah.

Wrt social touching, e.g. handshaking, I am aware that many people avoid
such things, and I am not aware of the halachic source, and would
appreciate a pointer.  As a stricture I can certainly understand the
practice, though I wonder if it might drive some people away if their
handshake is rejected.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


End of Volume 20 Issue 25