Volume 21 Number 57
                       Produced: Thu Sep 28 23:51:32 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Consitutional Rights and Halachic Observance
         [Eric Jaron Stieglitz]
Halakha & scientific method
         [Shalom Carmy]
Israeli statistics
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Let us make man
         [Shlomo Grafstein]
Rabbiner Hirsch, Halachah as Experimental Data
         [Micha Berger]
Reward given for Honest Weights
         [Dave Curwin]
Telephone Answering Machines
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Eric Jaron Stieglitz <ephraim@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 22:49:07 -0400
Subject: Consitutional Rights and Halachic Observance

  > I realize this is not a specifically Jewish question, but rather a
  > religion/state issue which affects many religions, including us -
  > such as the (chas v'shalom) possibility of an Orthodox Jew with
  > beard and peyas being sent to prison and being forced to shave.

  In a recent case in NY involving an Orthodox Rabbi who was sent to
prison, he was asked to shave his beard so that the authorities could
place a photo of him on file. Apparently all inmates are required to
have a photo taken of them without facial hair.

  In order to accomodate the rabbi, a photo was taken of him with his
beard and peyos, and was later modified by computer to show him without

Eric Jaron Stieglitz    <ephraim@...>
Home: (212) 853-6795/4837       Assistant Systems Manager at the
Work: (212) 854-6020            Center for Telecommunications Research
Fax : (212) 854-2497    http://www.ctr.columbia.edu/people/Eric.html


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 09:22:14 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Halakha & scientific method

Joseph Bachman states that Halakha is unlike science because scientists 
design experiments that generate new data, whereas Halakha operates on a 
closed canon.

Let me note that Dr Bachman's criterion excludes retrospective science: 
astronomy, geology, taxonomic biology all explain the past rather than 
hypothesizing the results of new experiments.

Philosophers of science have dealt with the fact that not all sciences 
are like experimental physics. Many of the solutions are applicable to 
Halakha. Thus for example a theory that explains a specific range of data 
turns out to be applicable, in a way unanticipated by the original 
theorist, to another realm of data. The second application is, in effect, 
the control for the first.

Note also that the discovery of manuscripts also adds, in its way, to the 
available data. The Rav zt"l, who was quite satisfied to delve deeper 
into the classical Rishonim would nevertheless remark, on occasion, that 
if his approach was correct, he would not be surprised to learn that one 
of the newer MSS corroborated it.



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 12:24:11 GMT
Subject: Israeli statistics

Friday's HaAretz newspaper carried a number of interesting Israeli 

a) Israel's intermarriage rate is now 53%, compared to the 52%
intermarriage rate in the US - with one major difference. The Israeli
rate represents intermarriage between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, not
between Jews and non-Jews (as is the case in the US). About 20-25 years
ago, the rate in Israel was about 20%. It will be interesting to see
what effect this will have in the long term in terms of different
customs and practices.

b) In the last elections, about 22,000 Arabs voted for either the
Natioonal Religious Party or for Shas, pretty evenly divided.

c) In the last elections, about 20,000 Arabs voted for the Likud.

           Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem 97280, Israel
    Phone: 972-2-864712: Fax: 972-2-862041
   EMail address: <himelstein@...>


From: <RABIGRAF@...> (Shlomo Grafstein)
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 1995 17:10:53 -0300
Subject: Let us make man

I teach a class in Chumash at Dalhousie University.  It is open to
all.  Among the attendees is a Baptist Minister.  Last night he
raised the old question of "gods" since the verse referring to HaShem is
in the plural (Genesis 1:26) "let us make man in our image...."  Does 
anyone on mail-Jewish have additional ideas besides the ones below:
 Firstly in our class we use: Judaism's Bible --- a new and expanded
translation (it has an approbation from Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l)
"Before forming the unique spiritual being, the man, the ALMIGHTY in His
modesty took counsel, consulting with the celestial spiritual beings,
the angels, so that they would not be jealous of man who possesses
celestial qualities.  Then The ALMIGHTY said to the angels, "Let us*
make man in our image, --- in the mould prepared for his creation, and
after our spiritual likenss --- with the unique ability to understand
and discern...."
 * The Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b gives an answer to the heretics who use the
verse as proof of the existence of more than one GOD.  See the following
verse (verse 27), "The LORD created (singular verb in Hebrew) the man."
If so why does The Torah mention "let us" (plural), an indication of
plurality; GOD forbid, a form of plurality can assist a thought of
heresy?  The Midrash indicates: Let all who seek to misinterpret My
Words do so, for I have granted man freedom of choice.  My purpose is to
instruct man that The LORD, CREATOR of both great and small humbly
approached his angelic servants for advice.  Therefore, to all who do
not follow suite, declare: "Learn from your CREATOR.  BE like The
ALMIGHTY."  (Genesis Rabbah 8:8) Even if you are the owner or director
of a company, or the executive director of an aorganization, humble
yourself and consult those under you for their advise in various
 In addition, the plural form ("us") can also be viewed as pluralis
majestatis or commonly termed `the royal we'.  See The Book of Numbers
22:6 and Daniel 2:36.  It is a plural of Majesty, such as is employed by
kings in their edicts and proclamations.  See Emunah VeDayoth 2:9 of Rav
Sa'a'dia Gaon (Befliefs and Opinions, Yale University Press, 1948), who
quotes additional examples.
 Furthermore, this is similar to an individual who speaks in the plural
when making a solemn resolution.  The plural may be explained by an
analogy with a king, who, having dominion over all desires to indicate
that all are comprehended in him and in all.  Therefore, he adopts the
royal "we".  So too, GOD wishing to show that the whole world is His,
comprehended the whole in His Hand and spoke in the plural, thus
teaching, "HE is all."  GOD charged the earth saying, "You physicaly
produce the body, and I will produce the soul." (Midrash HaNeelam, Zohar
Chadash 16)
 According to Rabbi Eliahu of Vilna, The LORD was requesting all of
creation to contribute a unique quality which it possessed so that the
microcosm of the universe, the man, would share the special
characteristics that would be harmonized within him.  The plural is
employed as if GOD were addressing the elements (Radak) of the earth and
all that fills it.  (Mincha B'lulah)
 The plural is an allusion to the angels, i.e. "let us create man..,"
who shall be created similar to the agels in understanding.  However, he
shall be unlike them, but rather like GOD, possessing free will.  The
angels lack free will to choose good or evil.  (S'forno)
 When the time came to create man, The LORD spoke in the plural: "Let us
make man."  All of The Divine Attributes joined to make man, i.e. The
Divine Attributes of Strict Justice and The Thirteen Divine Attributes
of Mercy.  Man had to be created in this manner because he was created
in The LORD's image.  Thus, just as GOD has two types of Attributes
(chesed and Gevurah), man had to be created and endowed with both types
of Attributes. (Ohr HaChaim)
 For one to GOD-like, a person cannot be extreme and only utalize one
quality, such as loving-kindness all the time.  Rather, one must employ
the trait of justice too.  However, justice is always tempered with
loving-kindness, whereas loving-kindness is not always tempered with
justice.  (Original)
  Hopefully with the New Year we will all merge and blend our trait of
justice into the loving-kindness trait so that we can achieve "tifereth"
A life of Splendour.

A very sweet year to all
Shlomo Grafstein
1480 Oxford Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada B3H3Y8


From: Micha Berger <aishdas@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 08:47:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rabbiner Hirsch, Halachah as Experimental Data

In v21n55, L. Joseph Bachman <jbachman@...> makes some
comments that made me realize that I did not describe Rabbiner SR
Hirsch's metaphor very well.

First off, it's a metaphor, as far as I can tell, Hirsch is NOT
calling the process of p'sak a scientific experiment, rather
	Reform : Orthodox  ::  Alchemy : Science

>                                     The problem with alchemists was not
> that they created "experiments to fit a pre-existing thoery," but rather
> that they disregarded results from the experiment that didn't fit the
> pre-existing theory.

In terms of how I understood "19 Letters", this was R. Hirsch's
description of Reform. They disregard those halachos that don't
fit there pre-existing theory. Morality dictated halachah, instead
of halachah dictating morality.

>                                                          Halachic
> Judaism also has a world view (e.g., G-d made a covenant with Israel,
> gave us the Torah, oral and written to be the basis for our halacha,
> etc.), and from that halacha is formulated to fit into that world view.
> Otherwise halachic Judaism makes no sense.

Halachic Judaism presents us with a set of laws and the rules for
how they change. From this we derive the idea that it is covenantal,
the Oral Law was given at Sinai, there is power to enact Rabbinic
law, etc..  Halachic Judaism makes sense because we created a world
view to fit it.

Think how much more agreement there is in halachah vs.  that in
hashkafah. For example, we don't even agree on man's goal in life:
is it to perfect the self, or to cleave to G-d? We are more sure
of the demands of halachah than its purpose. Wouldn't this imply
that purpose is derived, and halachah the given?

But I think I can make myself clearest if I explained by example.

When an O Rabbi formulates the reason for blowing shofar, he first
starts with the number of sounds, the length of the sounds, the
different kinds, their order, their location in regard to tephillah,
the laws of the physical shofar. From there he builds a p'shetl
(small discourse) to be given before shofar blowing, hoping to
bring his congregation to teshuvah.

When a Reform Jew studies shofar blowing, he decides that the number
of blows is based on an arcane midrash about the mother of Sisera,
an enemy to the Jews, and therefor lacks meaning to him. 30 sounds
is sufficient.  And, you know, those long Teimani shofros are so
much prettier than a ram's horn. How does the the ram of the akeidah
(the almost sacrifice of Isaac) speak to me? That Abram was almost
mislead by Moloch worship, and resisted the temptation of human
sacrifice? We really ought to use the prettier mountain-goat shofar.

Instead of studying practice and finding meaning, Reform rejects
(and creates) practices to conform to a pre-existing ethic and

Micha Berger 201 916-0287        Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3249 days!
<AishDas@...>                     (16-Oct-86 - 28-Sep-95)
<a href=news:alt.religion.aishdas>Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed</a>
<a href=http://haven.ios.com/~aishdas>AishDas Society's Home Page</a>


From: Dave Curwin <6524dcurw@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 1995 13:11:41 EST
Subject: Reward given for Honest Weights

Everyone is probably familiar with the famous saying of Chazal that only
two mitzvot have rewards given for them: honoring ones parents, and
sending away the mother bird. But I just noticed that in the end of
Parshat Ki Tetze (Devarim 25:15), the mitzva of keeping honest weights
also has a reward given for it - "that you may live long on the land
that God is giving you". This is almost identical to the reward given
for honoring one's parents in the Ten Commandments. Any ideas why this
was not mentioned by Chazal?

David Curwin		With wife Toby, Shaliach to Boston, MA
904 Centre St.          List Owner of B-AKIVA on Jerusalem One
Newton, MA 02159                   <6524dcurw@...>
617 527 0977          Why are we here? "L'hafitz Tora V'Avoda"
          *all opinions expressed here are my own*


From: janiceg@<basilisk-154@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 10:12:24 -0700
Subject: Telephone Answering Machines

Rafael Salasnik says in Vol. 21 #53:
> My understanding regarding telephones on Shabbat/Chagim is that there is
> a prohibition on both dialing and talking.
> If that is so then by leaving an answering machine on one 'aids' a
> non-orthodox person who phones you to commit the aveirah. If one
> knows/expects such calls should one disconnect the ansaphone ?  Does the
> proportion of calls from Jews and non-Jews affect this ?

I don't see how this contributes to the non-orthodox person dialing;
they have no way of knowing you have an answering machine on until
they've already dialed. Of course, *telling* someone you always leave
your answering machine on so they can feel free to leave messages on
Shabbat and you'll be able to hear them is another question entirely.
But just neutrally leaving your machine on does not seem to me to be
encouraging anyone to be mechalel Shabbat.

One issue that I haven't seen raised in this discussion is the rampant
curiosity one can feel when in a situation like mine over the chagim: I
always leave my answering machine on and when I got home from shul on
first day Rosh Hashanah at 3 in the afternoon, my answering machine had
a single message on it. Needless to say, one of my first acts after
Havdalah was to listen to the message! (Which turned out to be from my

G'mar tov,

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


End of Volume 21 Issue 57