Volume 21 Number 42
                       Produced: Sun Sep  3 21:12:31 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Definition of Orthodoxy & A Shocking Rashash
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Definition of Orthodoxy
         [Steve White]
Observent Nonbeliever
         [Eli Turkel]
Prenuptial Agreements
         [Elozor Preil]
The 3rd meal on Shabbos
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Yasher koach
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
Yeyasher Koach
         [Ralph Zwier]


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 1995 23:52:53 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: A Definition of Orthodoxy & A Shocking Rashash

> Dr. Eli Turkel writes: 

>    With that said I disagree with Rabbi  Bechhofer  definition  of 
> orthodoxy, though I find his orthopraxy interesting. Since he  has 
> the backing of Rambam it is difficult.  Nevertheless,  I  get  the 
> feeling that many authorities  of  recent  generations  have  down 
> played principles and stressed the practices of the "simple"  Jew. 
> To the best of my knowledge the Talmud itself does  not  doctrines 
> and this began in the middle ages. 

Well,  as  you  said,  I  do  have  the  Rambam's  backing.  In  fact,   the 
clarification of principles is  a  distinctly  codification  type  exercise, 
which is precisely what the middle-ages Rishonim began to do and the  Talmud 
does not. But, then, most definitions require the precision inherent in  the 
codes, which, again, the Talmud, as a record of discussions, generally  does 
not provide (after all, if it did,  we  would  not  have  so  many  Halachic 

I do believe, moreover, that my  definition  is,  in  fact,  rooted  in  the 
Talmud, in Perek Chelek, to which, of  course,  in  his  Commentary  on  the 
Mishna, the Rambam  attached  the  Thirteen  Principles.  My  definition  of 
Orthodoxy, based  on  the  criteria  of  the  Principles,  approximates  the 
parameters of the minimum set of beliefs necessary to  merit  the  World  to 
Come (without factoring in the "Tinok she'Nishba" factor). These  principles 
are discernible,  to  a  greater  or  lesser  extent,  from  Chelek.  To  me 
(obviously) it seems that this is a very logical definition of  Orthodoxy  - 
it does not seem logical to me to take Halachic observance as a criterion if 
all that observance isn't getting  that  person  anywhere  in  the  ultimate 
reckoning. Of course, I concede that it will be difficult to determine about 
someone else whether he or she meets these criteria (unless  they  are  very 
candid) because man sees only to the eyes, and only G-d sees to  the  heart, 
but, again I am proposing an absolute definition.

> Is the wine touched by a Sadducee "yayin nesech"?  Since  many  of 
> the priests and even  High  priests  in  the  Second  temple  were 
> Sadducees then  the  blood  they  poured  on  the  alter  was  not 
> acceptable. 

I am not an expert on the Sadducees, but I would tend to  believe  that,  in 
fact, a self-proclaimed Sadducee's wine would be questionable and that their 
Divine Service would be unfit (what is modern Halacha's attitude towards the 

>    To  take  an  extreme  (made-up)  example  of  someone  who  is 
> "sociologically Orthoprax" Let us imagine someone growing up in  a 
> religious neighborhood. He follows all  the  mitzvot,  maybe  even 
> attends a kollel. If someone were to press him he would  say  that 
> he never  really  thinks  about  G-d,  certainly  not  a  creator, 
> Messiah, resurrection etc. These are too philosophical for him and 
> are irrelevant. He does mitzvot because that is how he was brought 
> up and has no inertia to change. Such a situation is certainly not 
> ideal and his prayers to a G-d that he has  feeling  for  are  not 
> very valid. However, I find it difficult to say that such a person 
> is not orthodox! 

Halacha is  a  legal  system  that  makes  frequent  use  of  "chazaka"  and 
"muchzakus", i.e., if we see something that  seems  to  indicate  a  certain 
pattern of inner belief or attitude, we take that as sufficient  for  Jewish 
legal purposes. Thus, we learnt in  the  3rd  perek  of  Sanhedrin  more  or 
less precise external proofs of "Teshuva".  Does  "Ba'al  Teshuva"  behavior 
really indicate that a person did true Teshuva? Of course not, but, what can 
Halacha demand of us - that we use ESP to determine what's going on in  this 
person's heart? Once the Kohen Gadol swore he would not act like a  Sadducee 
on Yom Kippur, that is a sufficient muchzakus for us to rely on  his  Divine 
Service - yet, of course, we don't really know for sure. If,  in  either  of 
these cases the person in question candidly admits that,  external  behavior 
notwithstanding, he or she possesses heretical beliefs,  then  indeed  these 
people are not Orthodox!

Completely Unrelated:
For all you Daf Yomi Learners out there: To utterly shatter your preconceived 
notions on who wrote the Mishnayos, see the first Rashash on Shavuos 4a.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 20:19:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Definition of Orthodoxy

In V21#34, Betzalel Posy writes:
> [omitted]  You cannot steal a million dollars and be frum, even if
>you keep shabbos and wear a kipa. There are many non-orthodox jews who
>do not keep shabbos but also don't murder, does that make them Frum?
>With allowance for human frailty: this is an all or nothing lifestyle.

But it's this last point that makes definitions so difficult at all.
Let's suppose this "frum" guy who steals a million dollars did it one
time because he had an opportunity, and he then regrets it and makes
restitution, and spends the rest of his life in agonized teshuva for it.
Is he frum?  I'd say yes.  And according to Rambam, if he never gets
another chance to steal a million dollars, he may never get a chance to
do teshuva gemura (complete teshuva), and may therefore have some mark
against him for the rest of his life.  So that's his penalty, but on the
whole I'd say he's frum.

Of course, I understand what Mr. Posy is referring to, and I have often
made the same point myself that people who are, for example, regularly
dishonest in business have no right to call themselves frum.  But let's
be honest.  I'm willing to be that most of us have something that we
know the halacha doesn't allow that we do anyway, not to be rebellious,
but just because of human frailty.  Talking in shul during davening (to
use one recent mj thread) is probably a good example for a lot of
people.  So you can't even define Orthodoxy, or even OrthoPRAXY, by
"someone who would never willfully do something against halacha."

I don't see the point, anyway.  In #38, ME Lando pointed out that

>Remember, "orthodox" is a 19th Century term caused by [the German and
>Austrian Jews'] schism.

Who wants a term caused by a schism.  We should be working during this
month of Elul to _remove_ boundaries and work toward the reunification
of k'lal yisrael; let's never draw boundaries to exclude people.

Steve White


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 95 13:08:04 -0400
Subject: Observent Nonbeliever

     Rabbi Bechoffer sidestepped my question of the nonbelieving yeshiva
student by saying that each person has a chazakah, we do not check
credentials but assume he is a believer. To get around his answer let me
pose the question more directly.

1.  A yeshiva student comes to his LOR with the following question.
  He is completely observant but has read modern Bible critcism
  and now no longer believes that the Torah was given to Moshe at
  Sinai. What should he do?
  As I see it the LOR has two options:
  A: Declare that we have a major disaster and tell the student
     he can no longer consider himself orthodox. Hence, the LOR
     should embark on a campaign to explain things to this student.
  B: Tell the student to forget his "philosophical" questions and
     go back to learning and keeping mitzvot and hope everything
     will straighten itself out.

   As I understand Rabbi Bechoffer based on Rambam the first option
is the only available one. However, the Steipler Rav in his letters
recommends the second approach (though there is no indication there
what was the hashkafa problems of the students - I made up the
As I mentioned such cases are brought as real problems to the Steipler Rav
in Bnei Brak. I suspect that in modern orthodox circles with easier
access to outside material such cases are not uncommon. So I feel that
the treatment of atheist but observant Jews cannot be shoved under the rug.
In some case we are involved with a Baal Teshuva but in many cases the
person involved has gone through the full gamut of orthodox day schools.
Obviously an atheist prays only for the ritual aspects it has no inner
meaning. Nevertheless, I feel it is important to have such a person
consider himself orthodox and continue within the orthodox system.

2.  I read a while ago of a professor of Bible Criticism who said
  he was completely observant (possibly an oxymoron). He claimed 
  that the Bible was written over many centuries by inspired rabbis
  and so he follows it and all future rabbinic decrees (ie
  Shulchan Arukh). Is this person orthodox? Can someone else
  eat in his house when the professor says everything is glatt
  kosher? As someone else pointed out can he pour his own wine
  for kiddush?

I have given examples based on Bible criticsm but the same question
could be posed for any of Maimonides 13 principles.

Eli Turkel


From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 1995 03:07:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Prenuptial Agreements

Eliyahu Teitz writes:

> It should be a large enough amount that the husband
>would be significantly inconvenienced to have to pay it, but not so much
>that it would be impossible for him to pay.  ( To stipulate $1000 per
>day for a person earning $50K a year is ridiculous, likewise to
>stipulate $100 a day for a person earning $500K a year, is ridiculously
>low- it serve no purpose 

Rabbi Mordechai Willig gave a shiur on this topic last year in Teaneck.
He stated that the monetary commitment could not be linked to the
financial condition of the husband; the sole criterion was reasonable
living expenses.
 Thus, he admitted that the requirement to pay a set amount per diem
(let us say $100-$200, for the sake of argument) would not be effective
in persuading the recalcitrant husband to issue a get if the husband was
too poor to pay ("So sue me - I have nothing") or so rich that he
wouldn't mind paying.


From: <hayim@...> (Hayim Hendeles)
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 09:59:36 -0700
Subject: The 3rd meal on Shabbos

In a recent post, Barry Siegel commented:

	>It brings to mind the correct term "Seuda Shlishit" versus what
	>we commonly say "Shala Shudos" which I believe is not correct
	>Hebrew or Yiddish.

Obviously, the term "Shala Shudos" (often used) is a sloppy pronunciation
for "Shalos Seudos" - which means "3 meals". The obvious question is
why this third meal is referred to with a term referring to ALL 3 meals
eaten on Shabbos?

I heard a very interesting explanation from a Chasidic Rabbi (I forget
whom) who says that the Torah commands us to eat 3 meals on Shabbos,
Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon. The Friday
night and Saturday morning meals are normal, in the sense that we
normally eat at this time, anyway, because we are hungry.

The Saturday afternoon meal, on the other hand, is different. Then,
typically we are not hungry, and it is not our normal time to eat.

So, when one eats the 1st 2 meals on Shabbos, there is no indication
that one is doing so for the Mitzvoh - perhaps they are eating their
normal routine meal. But when one eats on Saturday afternoon, after 2 full
meals, when they are no longer hungry, and this is not a normal
meal time, and they eat anyway, it demonstrates they are doing so for
the mitzvoh of Shabbos.

Thus the eating of the 3rd meal is indicative that ALL 3 meals eaten on this
Shabbos were done for the the Mitzvoh. Hence the term "3 meals" to refer
to this one meal, because it is indicative of all meals.

Hayim Hendeles


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 11:26:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yasher koach

IMHO "yasher koach" is perfectly correct.  It's Yiddish borrowed from
Hebrew - the grammar rules and exact form don't need to be borrowed.
"Shaloshudos" is similar.  As a Yiddish teacher once taught me when I
claimed that "shabbos" was not a Yiddish word but Hebrew, once a word
enters the new language (Yiddish), it's not Hebrew any more.  All kinds
of things can happen to it, e.g. the Yiddish plurals "shabbosim" and

BTW I find inaccurate Barry Siegel's assumption that yasher koach is
what one male says to another.  I say it and it gets said to me.

Aliza Berger


From: Ralph Zwier <zwierr@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 17:34:12 
Subject: Re: Yeyasher Koach

>From: Barry Siegel <sieg@...>
> I was very recently surprised to find out that the words "Yasher Koach"
> are not correct.  Yasher Koach is what one male says to the other after
> doing a Mitzva (like getting an Aliya, Leading the Davening etc..)

I always knew in my heart that Yasher Koyach was not the right
expression, but although I once asked someone long ago, he was unable to
explain it. I also think that some knowledgeable people say "EYasher
Koyach" (leaving out the first "Yud", which is quite normative, as in
"Itzik") which we non-Yiddish speaking people assume means "A Yasher

Anyway, a BIG Yeyasher Koychacho to Barrie

Ralph S Zwier
Double Z Computer, Prahran, VIC Australia       Voice +61-3-521-2188
<zwierr@...>                        Fax   +61-3-521-3945


End of Volume 21 Issue 42