Volume 21 Number 07
                       Produced: Wed Aug 16 22:10:27 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chezkas Kashrus and Political Debate
         [Kenneth Posy]
Da`ath Torah
         [Lon Eisenberg]
Experts on the Present Peace Process
         [Carl Sherer]
Psak Shopping
         [Binyomin Segal]
Rav Amital on Abandoning bases
         [Kenneth Posy]
Religious Zionists
         [Shmuel Himelstein (n)]


From: Kenneth Posy <kpposy@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 1995 11:25:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Chezkas Kashrus and Political Debate

Mr. Goldstein writes:
> Reb Shmuel asks if the rules of giving benefit of the doubt (HEVI DAN ES
> KOL HOODOM LEKAV ZECHUS) applies to one who is not religious.  Although
> I do not have the sources in front of me, I know that the rule applies
> to person who has a CHEZKAS KASHRUS, a reputation for doing the right
> thing. (Or someone who one does not know at all) However, when a person
> is known to be a ROSHO, then he does not deserve the benefit of the
> doubt.  Therefore Mr. Peres does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

IMHO, I have two difficulties with this formulation.
 1) My understanding of "chezkas kashrus" is that if you have a safek,
the chazaka tell you how to decide. For example, if you have a witness,
and you do not know if he is a pasul, you assume he is not b/c of his
chezkas kashrus.  "Havei dan l'kav zechus" is a moral dictum in pirkei
avos that you should not go around looking for fault in others. This
should apply even if he has no chezkas kashrus and you can't trust his
 2) "Hanistaros L'SHEM Elokeynu". Is Mr. Peres really a rasha and do we
have a right to make that determination? While he might be known to be a
m'chalel shabbos and o'chel n'vailos u'traifos (an eater of carcasses),
and you might even say that he does it l'hachos (spitefully), and have
no chezkas kashrus, is it really in our realm to determine whether he is
a rasha? That doesn't mean you have to except his eidus and eat in his
home (although, you could probably do both: he is not a rasha
chamas{lier for money} and as foreign minister his home is probably
under relatively decent hasgacha); but to say that he is a rasha, and by
implication, is damned, seems to be going a bit far.
     While I would not go so far as to accuse Mr. Goldstien of lashon
hara, (I don't even think that it applies here (aren't you allowed to
say lashon hara against a mumar l'hachas, as the Mr. Goldstein clearly
assumes Peres is?) I think that there is another dictum that is relevant
here: "V'nasi b'amcha lo teor"-- while the direct statuatory nature of
this prohibition obviously does not apply, there is also a deeper lesson
to be learned. We should elevate the level of political dialogue above
ad hominem attacks and relate to the issues on that basis alone.


From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 11:55:07 +0000
Subject: Da`ath Torah

Mordechai Perlman paraphrased the "Hinukh" (v20#97):
"... And then he says that included in this mitzva is that one must listen and
obey in every generation the Great Chochom which is among us".

He then goes on to say:
>     Therefore, I would submit that Da'as Torah is certainly a viable
>institution in our Torah way of life and that when the Great Chochom
>speaks, one should listen and obey.  However, since today we have
>divergent views among our Great Chachomim, one has to choose HIS Great
>Chochom and stick to his views.

I think this a quite a leap.  I would say that since we can't all agree
who the "Great Haham" is today, that we can't apply what the "Hinukh"
says about him.  I especially disagree with the concept of voting
according to what a particular "gadol" says, especially since different
"gadolim" disagree about this issue.  I also think that what a "gadol"
says can often influence his "gadluth", causing some who once thought he
was a "gadol" to then choose a different "gadol".

I don't want to necessarily imply that democracy is the best form of
government, especially from a Torah prespective, but if that's what
we've got, let's use it the way it was designed: You should vote in a
SELFISH manner, that is, what's best for you.  That way, what's best for
the majority is the outcome.  Yes, you should consider the opinions of
the "gadolim" in determining what is best for you, but then vote

Lon Eisenberg   Motorola Israel, Ltd.  Phone:+972 3 5659578 Fax:+972 3 5658205


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 95 23:59:20 IDT
Subject: Experts on the Present Peace Process

Eli Turkel writes:
>    Instead of expert shopping Carl Sherer then talks about "pask
> shopping" .  He hints that the psak of Rav Lau is not reliable because
> he is a political appointment.

Chas V'Shalom! I would never say or even hint that a psak of Rav Lau is
"not reliable".  In point of fact Rav Lau to my knowledge has never
rendered a psak on this issue and he certainly did not do so in the
interview which was discussed in my previous post on this matter.

What Rav Lau said in the interview (if my memory serves me correctly -
it's been a while) was that he would not have issued such a psak and
after much pressing by the news anchor he stated that if chas v'shalom
(his words - not mine) there was ever an evacuation of army bases or
settlements it would divide the country if soldiers did not follow

What I *was* trying to point out is that because Rav Lau was elected by
a political process, he is constrained in what he can and cannot say in
public, and I suspect his true views on such a sensitive issue would not
come out in such a public forum for so long as he is Chief Rabbi.

Mr. Turkel then goes on to state:

> First to the best of my knowledge Rav Schach did not publically support
> any candidate. Rav Goren stated several times that after he left the
> office of chief rabbi there was no one else qualified to fill the
> office.  Rav Shapira also stated that after he left the office he felt
> no obligation to listen to his successor. The non religious have no

The first I won't bother to respond to because it's neither here nor
there.  But as to Rav Goren zt"l and Rav Shapira shlita the fact that
they feel that way is not at all surprising - and I think that Rav
Ovadia Yosef shlita and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlita also have similar
feelings on the subject.  Quite simply, the "term" of a Chief Rabbi is
an artificial limitation which, to my knowledge, has no basis in
Halacha.  In Europe, once a Rabbi was elected, not only was he elected
for life, but in many cases he was entitled to pass the position on to
his son if his son was worthy of it (there is a Mordechai somewhere that
discusses this, unfortunately I've forgotten the citation).  So again,
this just proves that the way the Chief Rabbinate is set up in Israel is
unlike any sort of Rabbinic position in Jewish history (unless you want
to count the Kohanim Gedolim in the Second Temple which did not exactly
win Chazal's approbation).

And by the way, without getting into a lot of Israeli political history
which is off the topic here - if you're arguing that the Chief Rabbinate
here is not a political position, how do you explain the origins of the
Shas party (which was started *as a result* of a Chief Rabbinate

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 1995 22:33:41 -0500
Subject: Psak Shopping

Carl Sherer asks a number of very good and very difficult questions. Though
Im not going to attempt to answer them I might suggest a starting place.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z"l wrote a book called Handbook of Jewish Thought. (ive
seen a second volume that was published after his death - but volume 1 is
the one i mean) in it - in his section on halacha he deals with some of
these questions - and whats even better is his practice of giving his

like i said a great place to start.



From: Kenneth Posy <kpposy@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 11:53:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rav Amital on Abandoning bases 

Just a sidepoint first:
> There is no requirement that a Rav be an electrician before he rules
> on matters of electricity.  And, there is no requirement that a Posek
> need have served in the IDF before ruling upon a halachic issue.

Rabbi Weiss should also mention that the Rabbanei Yesha are heads of
Yeshivot Hesder, and thus deal with halachik military issues on a daily
basis, and are as close to experts on it as exist.

Mr. Sherer writes:
> That is, the "dismantling of military bases" cannot be looked at in
> isolation of what the ultimate intent is here.
     I did not post the response of Rav Amital, shlita, and I have
actually never heard him discuss the subject. (In my year and a half at
Gush, I heard him mention politics only twice: once, to declare that the
Lubavitcher Rebbe was not Mashiach, and once to praise the signing of
the peace treaty with Jordan.) However I understood him to be making the
following chiluk (distinction): Even assuming that it is forbidden to
relinquish territories, that prohibition would fall on the government,
and therefore they would be in violation. The soldiers, who were merely
moving equiptment do not/ should not know or care about the purpose of
the order; and therefore are not liable under halacha and must obey.
     I think that this is the formulation that applies in general to
detemining when to not obey an illegal order. If the actual action
itself is illegal (lead people into the gas chamber) the soldier must
[not - Mod.] obey, unless he is aware of extenuating circumstances that
require his obeidience. But if the actual action is permissible (build a
building; that turns out to be a gas chamber) the commander/ highest
level authority is liable for the morality of the command decision.
     I do not have any first hand knowledge of this; I recall reading it
in a law journal once. Perhaps an expert in this field could correct me.
     If I understand Mr. Sherer's argument correctly, he is saying that
it is impossible for the soldier to divorce the reason for the order
from the action. Thus, his actions are contributing to the issur. I
think what Rav Amital is saying is that there is no issur for a soldier
to leave, the chiyuv of Kibush Ha'aretz (if it exists) is only on the


From: Shmuel Himelstein (n) <himelstein@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 10:58:15 GMT
Subject: Religious Zionists

Zvi Weiss questions whose P'sak the members of Oz Veshalom follow, as he
implies that both the Rabbanim of the Charedi world and the Religious
Zionist world are against their views.

I would like to point out that both Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav
Yehudah Amital have given their QUALIFIED support for the peace process,
and there have been various Rabbanim in Israel (besides these two) who
were very opposed to the P'sak of the Rabbanim of Yesha (not, of course,
implying that that is synonymous with agreeing with the peace process).

A meeting of Oz Veshalom was addressed - after the Oslo accords - by Rav
Amital and by Minister Peres. Rav Amital at the time came out in favor
of the process, but with certain reservations. I would assume his
reservations have grown since then, but he is still in favor of the

As to the Chareidi world's view, today's Kol Ha'ir (NOT a religious
paper by any shot and not necessarily in the know about the Chareidi
world) has the following in an article (take it for what it's worth,
considering the source):

a) Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah has ruled that no territory may be returned.
Included in the Mo'atzah are the Rebbe'im of Gur, Vizhnitz and Erloi (I
assume there are other Rabbanim as well, but they're not listed).

b) The Rebbi of Toledot Aharon, Rav Kahn (sp?) is against this approach,
and in the weekly _Ha'Eidah_ of the Eidah Charedit writes that as long
as the Eidah Chareidit did not support the concept of "Eretz Yisrael
HaSheleimah" (i.e., all of Eretz Israel for the Jewish people), no
calamities fell the Jewish people (a debatable point - SH).  The
decision by the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah changed the picture.

The Kol Ha'ir article also quotes a letter to all the members of the
Mo'atzah by one of its members, Rav Binyamin Yeshoshua Silber (author of
_She'elot U'teshuvot Az Nid'beru_ and a foremost Posek in Israel - SH),
who is quoted as stating, "The danger is not only with the Arabs, but
with those who want to fight against the army and against the law."
Furthermore, Rav Silber claims that "the historic settling of the land
has nothing to do with security, but is merely the realization of
Zionism." The implication that I draw from this is that Rav Silber
cannot understand why Mo'etzet Gedolei Hatorah is backing an enterprise
which is purely Zionistic in nature.

Incidentally, I would like to remind Mr. Weiss that when it comes to
P'sak, one does not take a roll-call count before deciding how to act in
accordance with the Halachah. One has one's own Rav, and the decision of
that one Rav is both sufficient and binding. In that context, both Rav
Amital and Rav Lichtenstein can certainly serve as Poskim upon whom one
may rely.

Finally, I forgot who mentioned it, but to get the record straight,
HaModi'a is the Agudah paper, not Yated Ne'eman. Yated Ne'eman is the
Degel HaTorah (Rav Shach's party) paper. The two don't always see eye to
eye with one another - and, of course, they are in direct competition
for readership.

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
<himelstein@...> (JerOne, not Jer-L)


End of Volume 21 Issue 7