Volume 22 Number 10
                       Produced: Mon Nov 20 23:49:11 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Burial Service for Rabin
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Differences is a "State" Funeral
         [Michael J Broyde]
How rabbis were misinterpreted
         [Roger Kingsley]
Milchemet Mitzvah - Required War
         [Gershon Dubin]
Rabin Murder
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Returning Land
         [Michael J Broyde]
Yigal Amir's Title
         [Sheldon Z Meth]


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 17:58:50 -0500
Subject: Burial Service for Rabin

In a message dated 95-11-19 17:12:50 EST, you write:

Mordechai Perlman (MJ22#4) writes:
> in Yerusholayim, there appears to
>be a consensus of certain customs which are followed by everybody and
>for everybody.  For instance, none of our g'dolim were ever buried more
>than 24 hours after their death if they died in Yerusholayim.  Now, Rav
>Moshe Feinstein was buried more than 24 hours after his p'tira (death)
>but his body was not kept in Yerusholayim for more than 24 hours or even

Not So! When my father died in Yerushalyim and two of the children were
in the USA, (one of them was the only Kaddish) he was burried as soon as
the children could come, (first flight) and that was about 36 hours
later. That was the suggestion of the Ashkenazi Chevra Kadisha (=burial
society) in Yerushalyim. Therefore, based on this experience, this is
the minhag ha'makom (=local custom) for such circumstances. I think that
the 24 hours rule is not as rigid as presented.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 1995 19:04:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Differences is a "State" Funeral

One of the posters asked about why the custom of having children not
follow the deceased (as is common in Yerushalayim) was not observed in
the case of Prime Minister Rabin.  There was a series of teshuvot on the
death rites for President Azer Weizman written by Rav Herzog where he
discusses why the normal customs of burial did not apply to the death of
President Weitzman.  My notes indicate that these teshuvot were set to
be published by the Machon LeRav Herzog (I saw these 10 years ago and
took notes at that time).  Rav Herzog avers that halcha permits one to
deviate from the normal minhaga kevura in the case of a President
entitled to a "state" funeral.  (I appologize to the reader who wants to
know where these teshuvot are published.  I am writing from my notes,
and all errors are my own).

Michael Broyde


From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 95 21:43:38 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: How rabbis were misinterpreted

 Shmuel Himelstein wrote in V22#4 :
> The one person singled out by him (Rav Yoel Bin Nun) was Rav Nachum
> Rabinowich of Ma'aleh Adumim, and the national TV news program played
> an old interview with the latter in which he stated that anyone who
> gives away Jewish property "mitchayev benafsho" (i.e., is guilty of a
> capital offense).  During the news program, Rav Rabinovich called in
> and elaborated as follows: He had said that IF one believes that what
> he is doing in handing over Jewish property is for the good of the
> Jewish people (i.e., Rabin), then what he does is a Mitzvah for him;
> however if the one who does so does not think it is good for the
> Jewish people, then it is an Aveirah for him - one for which he is
> Mitchayev benafsho.

I do not have any reliable source for Rav Yoel Bin Nun saying this,  
but I do have a serious problem with this.  It seems to me fairly clear 
that the phrase "mitchayev benafsho" in standard halachic discussion 
refers only to "mitha bidei shamayim"  (the penalty of death is in the 
hands of Heaven).  In a halachic context, this is clearly differentiated 
from the penalty of "mithat beth din" (the death penalty executed by 
the Sanhedrin) which can not be implemented now, and is miles away 
from the dinim of "rodef" or its derivative "moser", which are the only 
possible basis of any attempt to justify, or even understand, Yigal 
Amir's apalling action.
  As such the phrase is generally used only to emphasise the gravity of 
a particular action.
  The problem as I see it is this.  If phrases such as this are to be 
capable of being misunderstood - and I am not sure whether the 
problem is their being misunderstood by such as Yigal Amir, or by 
people seeking to discredit Yiddishkeit -   does this mean that genuine 
halachic discussion in public will have to be severely limited.  Do we 
start avoiding certain subjects in case they get into deep waters?  Will 
we have to lose the fairly rich level of programming that has grown up 
on the radio here in Israel because some nut-case or anti-religious may 
be listening?  And what about this Internet group?  - will it require an 
extra level of censorship from the moderator, or can we get away with 
careful translation so as not to confuse any Shabaknik (security
serviceman) who is checking up?
  I have no idea of the answers to this.  The prospect seems rather 
scary.  Are we in for a whole new section to be added to the Misnah in 
Chagigah (chap. 2) of subjects approved for private study only?
Roger Kingsley


From: <gershon.dubin@...> (Gershon Dubin)
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 95 23:28:00 -0500
Subject: Milchemet Mitzvah - Required War

AF> life for, and that mitzvah is "milchemet mitzvah" i.e. going out to war
AF> in order to capture the land of Israel. That being the case I don't see
AF> how giving land (not giving BACK) to the goyim can be justified on the
AF> account that it will save lives even if we knew that for a certanty.
AF> mechael kanovsky
          The issue of when a war is "milchemet mitzva" and when it is
not (milchemet hareshus) is the subject of debate among rishonim.
Certainly it is not unanimous-far from it-that the current situation is
even capable of being a milchemet mitzvah given the lack of Sanhedrin,
Urim Vetumim, etc, and as such to say that Jews should give their lives
for the land under those circumstances is a misreading of the halacha
and, IMHO, irresponsible.  The consensus of contemporary Halachic
authorities of every political hue is certainly otherwise.

<gershon.dubin@...>        |
http://www.medtechnet.com/~dubinG   |


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 1995 23:46:44 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Rabin Murder

I sent the following piece to The New York Times last week. Since I haven't
heard from them, I assume they aren't going to publish it (Surprise!):

             Rabin's Assassination and Orthodox Jewish Theology             
                        Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer                       

     Over the past few days, I have been criticized in The  New  York  Times 
Op-Ed pages. I have not been mentioned by name. My attackers don't even know 
me. Amos Oz opened the onslaught, the day after Yitzchak Rabin's  murder  at 
the hands of a  heinous  assassin.  Ze'ev  Chafets  continued  the  barrage, 
attacking  "mainstream  Orthodox  parties,  which  are  sympathetic  to  the 
fundamentalists." I perceive myself as a mainstream  Orthodox  Jew.  I  must 
assume, then, that I  and  my  ilk  are  guilty  of  association  with  "the 
fundamentalist theology" that, according to Mr. Chafets, led Amir to murder. 
Thomas Friedman explains to us that politics of the "Orthodox Jewish  right" 
(he does not explain what makes up the "right") are those of  Yigal  Amir  - 
taken to a "logical extreme." Even the  Times  news  articles  have  focused 
incessantly on those who would pervert Orthodoxy. 

     Normative  Orthodox  Jewish  theology  and  law  stand   in   diametric 
opposition to Amir's monstrous conduct. Let us even assume,  for  argument's 
sake, that Rabin was evil. The Talmud (Berachos  10a),  the  basic  text  of 
Orthodox Judaism, relates that the sage  Rabbi  Meir  was  harassed  by  bad 
neighbors. He intended to pray for their death. His wife,  Beruria,  rebuked 
him, citing King David in Psalm 104, who wrote: "Let  sins  cease  from  the 
land." Said  Beruria:  "It  says  sins,  not  sinners."  We  reiterate  this 
authentic Orthodox attitude thrice daily in the Aleynu  prayer,  asking  the 
Almighty to turn all evildoers to His truth. 

     The most despised characters in Judaism  are  Jews  that  are  actively 
involved in pagan worship. The Talmud (Avoda Zara 26b)  says  that  one  may 
seek to cause their death  (but  not,  ruled  Rabbi  Chananel  in  the  10th 
century, murder them).  Many  great  authorities,  including  those  of  our 
century, known to Orthodox Jews world over as the  Chofetz  Chayim  (in  his 
book Ahavas Chesed) and the Chazon Ish (Yoreh De'ah 13:16,25) clarified that 
such laws only applied when our Holy Temple stood  in  Jerusalem,  when,  we 
believe, the truth and beauty of Judaism were so apparent, that to  deny  as 
much was brazen and outrageous. In  our  times,  they  say,  even  the  most 
despicable sinner must be drawn back to the light that  is  the  Torah  with 
love and compassion. No "mainstream" Orthodox rabbi would rule against these 
towering pillars of Jewish thought and law. 

     The only scenario in which Jewish law allows vigilante murder  is  that 
of a person who is being pursued by another who clearly intends to kill  the 
pursued individual. A pursued individual may  kill  his  pursuer  (called  a 
"Rodef") before the latter has the opportunity to kill the former. Some have 
said that Amir found justification in this  principle.  The  application  of 
this principle to the case in point, however, is pure sophistry. Rabin never 
pursued anyone with the intent to kill - if  anything,  he  thought  he  was 
saving Jews with the peace process. In addition, he was not in "hot pursuit" 
of anyone any time, a prerequisite for the application  of  the  Rodef  law. 
Finally, if there is any other way to stop the Rodef short of  killing  him, 
then one who does not employ that alternate method is plain  and  simple,  a 
murderer (Maimonides, Hilchos Rotzei'ach 1:13). 

     The "mainstream" of Orthodox Jewish  law  and  thought,  then,  regards 
Amir's crime as a perversion. The greatest rabbis of our times,  across  our 
entire spectrum:  Rabbi  Kook,  Rabbi  Feinstein,  Rabbi  Solovetichik,  the 
Lubavitcher Rebbe, and others, in their great piety  and  refinement,  would 
have abhorred even the contemplation of violence. To impugn us  all  because 
of the warped zealots is to infer that since David Koresh was  a  Christian, 
all religious Christians  must  be  latent  Branch  Davidians,  and  that  a 
religious Christian philosophy naturally results in murder of ATF agents. 

     Orthodox  Judaism  has  not  only  survived  many  attacks   from   its 
coreligionists  over  the  past  two  centuries,  it  has  flourished.   The 
"mainstream"'s devotion to true Torah values does  not  falter,  because  it 
sees that real Orthodox leaders are paragons of virtue and morality. We will 
survive this attack upon us as well. It is, however,  disheartening  to  see 
fellow Jews focusing on those who have  fallen  away  from  Orthodoxy  to  a 
radical  distortion,  using  this  terrible   calamity   for   purposes   of 
divisiveness rather than mutual growth and healing. 

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 1995 19:13:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Returning Land

One writer states:
> HOWEVER there is annother mitzvah that does not fall on the individual
> but on the jewish populace as a whole that they have to give up their
> life for, and that mitzvah is "milchemet mitzvah" i.e. going out to
> war in order to capture the land of Israel. That being the case I
> don't see how giving land (not giving BACK) to the goyim can be
> justified on the account that it will save lives even if we knew that
> for a certanty.

This is quite mistaken on a halachic level for the following reason.  If 
one assumes (and I do not vouch for the correctness of this assertion, I 
merely make it) that if Israel does not give back land that land will be 
forcfully retaken by Israels neighbors in a way that Israel cannot stop 
and will result in bloodshed on top of that, it would be permissible to 
give back the land, as it is enevitable.  This is pointed out by Rabbi J. 
David Bleich in an article in volume 15 and 17 of the Journal of Halacha 
and Contemporary Society.  There is no halachic obligation to attempt to 
hold onto the land, only to actually do so.
 (A similar assertion is found in Minchat Hinuch regarding the mitzvah to 
destroy Amalek.  He observes that while there is a mitzvah to go to war 
with Amalek, even if some die in that war, there is no obligation to go 
to war with Amalek if the Jewish people will lose the war.  The same is 
true in Israel in the context of keeping land.  This would seem to be an 
emphirical observation best left to the experts).
 Rabbi Michael Broyde


From: <METHS@...> (Sheldon Z Meth)
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 11:14:09 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Yigal Amir's Title

In v22 n2, Bill Page adds the honorific "may his name be blotted out" to
the name of Yigal Amir.

I would like to know what his Hallachic basis is for using such a term.
As far as I know, even a person who is judged by a Sanhedrin to be
executed, does not merit such a title, let alone Amir, whom a Sanhedrin
could not judge to be executed for technical reasons (e.g., no hasra'ah
toch kdei dibbur [warning the perpetrator not to commit the crime within
2 seconds]).

To praphrase Rav Yosef Chayyim Sonnenfeld's (I think) remark when
someone uttered the same expletive in reference to Ben Yehudah: if Amir
were married with no children, and were to die, would his wife fall to
Yibbum?  And why does a childless widow fall to Yibbum?  Because the
Torah states, "v'lo yimache shemo b'yisrael" [so that his name may not
be blotted out from Israel].  If G-d would not blot out Amir's name from
Israel, what gives Mr. Page that right?

Certainly Amir committed a gross Chillul Hashem.  But to say yemach
shemo v'zichro?  I don't think so.


End of Volume 22 Issue 10