Volume 21 Number 27
                       Produced: Thu Aug 24 22:59:28 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halacha = Morality (more)
         [Steve White]
Kashrut and the Role of the Rabbinate
         [Josh Males]
         [the Cheshire Cat]
Response to Goldfinger message about Abayudaya of Uganda
         [Karen Primack]
Telling State Dept what you think
         [Joseph Steinberg]
         [Stan Tenen]


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 10:58:42 -0400
Subject: Halacha = Morality (more)

<rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz) writes:
>P.S.  If halacha doesn't determine morality then what does?  What
>society thinks is ok?  What an individual thinks is ok?  What makes
>killing a human any worse than killing an animal?  Our inate
>sensitivity, or what G-d says?

Let me clarify my earlier post so there is no misunderstanding.  There's
never any such a thing as morality OUTSIDE the Torah, chas v'shalom.
Within the bounds of what's permitted, there may be and probably is
individual and/or societal influence on what is considered moral.  But
that's ONLY within the bounds of what's already permitted within the
halacha.  Clearly, Rachel (and Rabbi Zvi Weiss before) are correct that
the halacha defines a boundary outside of which action and thought are
_always_ immoral.

Steve White


From: Josh Males <jmales@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 95 15:47:38 
Subject: Kashrut and the Role of the Rabbinate

  This is probably a touchy subject, so let's keep the flaming to a
minimum and derech eretz to the maximum.
  Today's Maariv newspaper says that the Jerusalem Rabbinate has removed
teudot hechsher (kashrut certificates) from all Domino's Pizza branches
because the Beit HaKerem branch is now open on Shabbat and uses real
pepperoni. The J-lem rabbinate has a policy that ALL branches of a
restaurant in this town must be kosher in order to be eligible for a
  That meant that the branch where I work (Har Hotzvim) is
teudah-less. I quickly sent off an email to all our staff warning of the
teudah loss. I then did something which I regret. I added on that we
should send a petition to the rabbanut that they should not remove the
hechsher here in order not to hurt the pizza-loving folks in this part
of the woods. At the time I was quite angry over the thought that I
would not be able to order one of those thick-crusted pizzas (with
onions and double cheese), and it may have clouded my thinking.
  I was immediately flamed. Some thanked me for the warning, but then
said "maybe we should petition Domino's instead" and "as dati'im we
should show some support for the rabbanut".
  Now, my question for m-j'ers: What should the role of the rabbanut be?
There are many issues here:

   1) Should they "force" kashrut upon others? Or should they be looked
   at as a "permitting" force, enabling the public to eat at an
   establishment by giving a teudah?

   2) This is Jerusalem, a city with a sizable kosher-keeping
   population.  Would it be different from another city where
   kashrut-keepers are the minority?

   3) What should the attitude of the religious community be towards a
   restaurant that openly is mechalel shabbat and sells meat & milk? If
   Domino's receives a hechsher for its other branches, should these
   branches be boycotted? Or should they be supported?

   4) One of the replies I got here was "what if they're short on cheese
   or they bring keilim (equipment) from one branch to another?" OK. But
   what if one of the workers decides to eat a salami sandwich on the
   job?  I guess trusting a hechsher boils down to if a) there's a
   mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) always around or b) you trust the
   owner/kitchen staff (who in most cases know nothing from kashrut -
   the younger [and usually more Ashkenazi] they are, the less they

   5) The shabbat status quo is also at issue here. And the noise level.
   Nothing to ruin the shabbat quiet like the noise of pizza scooters
   making deliveries.

   6) In the US there are kosher branches of Dunkin' Donuts in cities
   which are full of non-kosher ones. Why isn't there a confusion issue
   there? Is potential confusion even an issue? I realize that a country
   full of Jews is a different situation.

   7) Why would the J-lem rabbinate confine this to J-lem? If all the
   J-lem branches were all kosher, you can still drive 45 minutes to Tel
   Aviv. That is still pretty close. How about cities in Gush Dan that
   are close together (Ramat Gan, Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv)?
   Would the rabbinate in Raanana nix a hechsher if a branch in Kfar
   Saba or Herzliya were treif?

I would also like to hear answers on a halachik level, too.

Joshua D. Males     Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York - 1982
                         Jerusalem College of Technology - 1987
                         IDF Academy of Military Medicine - 1994


From: the Cheshire Cat <alanacat@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 09:29:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Morality

> >From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
> P.S.  If halacha doesn't determine morality then what does?  What
> society thinks is ok?  What an individual thinks is ok?  What makes
> killing a human any worse than killing an animal?  Our inate
> sensitivity, or what G-d says?

Well, there is discussion in (er, I can't remember...it is Talmud, tho')
that if we hadn't the Torah, then we would be able to derive ethics from
nature (watching animals behavior) and from logical principles. So, the
question need not be either rhetorical or snide.



From: <PRIMACK@...> (Karen Primack)
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 1995 22:16:07 -0400
Subject: Response to Goldfinger message about Abayudaya of Uganda

 This is a response to Andy Goldfinger's message of 7 August 1995 about
his friend's participation in a mission to Uganda.  The mission was a
project of Kulanu, an organization that assists lost and dispersed
Jewish communities (Kulanu has a listserv that can be accessed via the
Internet; send an E mail to "<listserv@...>" with the body of
the transmission, "subscribe kulanu-l first name lastname".)

 As a board member of Kulanu and a participant on the mission to Uganda,
I was pleased that Goldfinger's message got across the seriousness and
intensity of the Abayudayas' interest in Judaism.  I was also delighted
that he solicited Rabbonim and teachers who might like to get involved
in preparing the Abayudaya for formal conversion to Judaism, which they
greatly desire.

 In fact, your readers might be interested in the following notice that
appears in the current (summer 1995) Kulanu newsletter:

 Kulanu is seeking a rabbi, rabbinic student, or experienced Judaics
teacher to spend three or more months living in a Ugandan village among
the Abayudaya.  The village has no electricity or plumbing and
transportation is difficult, but the people are kind, intelligent, and
eager to learn more about leading Jewish lives in preparation for formal
 The language used will be English.
 Former participants in Peace Corps and similar programs will be
particularly prepared; others may face a few surprises.  Applicants with
a public health, health education, or medical background will be
particularly useful.
 Cultural sensitivity is imperative.
 Kulanu will pay transportation and a modest stipend.  The real rewards
will be living the adventure of a lifetime, and performing a mitzvah of
gigantic and historic proportions!  How often does anyone have the
chance to make such a tremendous difference in the lives of 500 people?
 Interested persons are invited to send a cover letter and resume to the
Kulanu office, 1211 Ballard St., Silver Spring, MD 20910.  For further
information, call Karen Primack at 301-565-3094 or Rabbi Jacques
Cukierkorn at 703-370-5191."

 That said, I would like to point out a few errors in Goldfinger's
message that may be misleading.

 The 15-member mission included Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and
Reconstructionist Jews, each of whom is "observant" according to his or
her own movement's traditions.  Kulanu prides itself on being an
organization in which Jews of varied backgrounds and practices can work

 The Reform Rabbi who led the mission did NOT try to influence the
Abayudaya "to convert through the Reform or Conservative movements."
Here is a transcript of the tape recording of the relevant conversation:

 An Abayudaya leader: "What do you think is the best thing for the
Abayudaya to do (concerning conversion)?"
 Rabbi: "As a Liberal Jew, I don't think it's my place to tell you what
to do.  It's my place to try to inform you the best I can and allow you
to make that decision.  You will have a chance tomorrow to hear other
people teach a class, and we'll be leaving you many books.  One of the
basic tenets of Reform Judaism is the individual's autonomy.  It's not
for me to tell you what you should do."

 The visitors did NOT sit together "in protest" in a separate-seating
sanctuary.  The guests, a mixed group, were usually ushered to a table
in front that faced the sanctuary.  At other times a visitor might have
been ushered to a vacant seat (there is a shortage of chairs) that was
situated next to the section of the opposite sex.  It is Kulanu's policy
to respect the traditions of the host, and no "protests" were made.

 And a few minor corrections: The Abayudaya (they spell their name as
one word, not two) number about 500, NOT 300, and they currently have
four synagogues, NOT six (down from 20 before Idi Amin outlawed Judaism
while president of Uganda in the 1970's).  The correct spelling of their
founder's name is "Semei Kakungulu".  The driving time to their villages
from Kampala, the capital, is less than four hours; the mission made
sightseeing and lunch stops, which extended the trip to six hours.

 A detailed, first-hand account of the mission to Uganda may be found in
the summer 1995 Kulanu newsletter, and another in the August 25
Baltimore Jewish Times (cover article).


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 14:26:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Telling State Dept what you think

To Express Foreign Policy Opinions Via E-Mail

If you would like to give the State Department your opinion on foreign
policy and require no response, please send your comments to the Bureau
of Public Affairs: <pubaff@...> We will include your e-mail
opinion in our regular review of public opinion received through mail
and telephone for the Secretary of State.

If you require a response from the State Department, please call the
Public Information Service at 202-647-6575 or write: Office of Public
Liaison, Public Information Service, U.S. State Department, Washington,
DC 20520-6810.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 1995 06:21:26 -0700
Subject: Zodiac

Actually the Zodiac IS part of our Torah heritage.

We call a righteous person a Tzadik.  Tzadik and Zodiac are closely
related words with closely related meanings.  (Zadi-Dalet-Yod-Qof) The
Tzadik is "upright"; he/she has their "head in the (spiritual) clouds."
Tzadik (or Zodiac) is the last letter in the alphabet (when the finals
are at the end in gematria order).  It is the culmination of our efforts
to reach towards HaShem.

The pattern of the Zodiac, 12 around 1, is common to a great many
cultural and religious traditions.  Each uses a different name and
context, but all allude to the same relationship for essentially similar
reasons.  They all model "creation."  (To my knowledge, only the Torah
version - and the corresponding pure mathematics - is non-idolatrous,

The basic pattern is set in Sefer Yetzirah's designation of "Labi" (the
"heart") as being 12-fold.  This "heart" is a model of creation (at a
particular level) and it consists of the pattern of the volume of 12-
spheres packed around a single central sphere (all of the same size)
which we call a cube-octahedron or a vector-equilibrium (Buckminster
Fuller's term).  The pattern of this 3-D form can be projected onto a
plane as a ring of 12-stations about a 3-fold center station.

We know this pattern of 12 around 1 (or a group of 3) as the array of
the 12-tribes in the Israelite encampments.  The tribes correspond to
the signs of the Zodiac.

the 12-knights around the round table,
the 12-imams of Shia Islam,
the 12-months,
the 12-disciples,
and many other manifestations in many other faiths and cultures also
represent the same 12 around 1 (or triple-one) pattern.

My research indicates that all of these come from the model of creation
in B'Reshit.  (There are also 12 different letters used in the first
verse of B'Reshit.)  This model consists of 3-Tefillin-Hands arrayed in
a circle above a model "earthplane" (and 3-Tefillin-Hands arrayed below
the model "earthplane").  These 3-hands, together, have 3-thumbs and 12-
fingers.  The 3-thumbs sit together at the center while the 12-fingers
form a "circle of dancers" (to use Rumi's description in his poem about
the Sufi "Round Dance").  The circle of 12-fingers IS the circle of 12
that underlies all of the various versions of the 12 around 1 pattern.
(The 3-thumbs form a unity in the center.  This is interpreted by some
as a "trinity".)  The Tefillin-Hands, worn on the hand and seen in
different views from different gestures, generate the shapes of all of
the Hebrew letters.  (The meaning of the gesture displays the shape of
the letter whose name has the same meaning: You can see a Pe by putting
your hands to your mouth; Pe means "mouth.")

So, although we now would likely not use Zodiac symbols in a Jewish
context, that was not the case 2000 or 3000-years ago while the basic
relationships were still known and understood by our sages.  Understood
as things, the 12-signs of the Zodiac are clearly idolatrous.
Understood as outlining the pattern of Continuous Creation defined in
the opening verses of B'Reshit, the signs of the Zodiac can be a tool
for teaching (and remembering) important aspects of Torah.


For more info on our (MERU Foundation) research, email (or call 617 784-
8902) and give us your postal or other surface mail address.


End of Volume 21 Issue 27