Volume 22 Number 79
                       Produced: Thu Jan 11 23:10:49 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aseres Hadibros
         [Edwin Frankel]
Er and Onan (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, David Charlap]
Kri'at Hatora, and Bnei Yisra'el
         [Shimon Lebowitz ]
Pinchas/Zimri and Matityahu situations (2)
         [Hillel E. Markowitz, Avraham Husarsky]
When Bad Things Happen
         [Aryeh Frimer]
When Bad Things Happen to Good People
         [Steve Schulman]
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Yehuda's Grandsons
         [Michael Shimshoni]


From: <frankele@...> (Edwin Frankel)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 19:58:30 -0100
Subject: Aseres Hadibros

>As you know, the first two were spoken directly by Ha-Shem, but the
>others were relayed by Moshe.  This is alluded to in the verse "Torah
>tziva lanu Moshe..." (Moses commanded us the Torah...).  The numerical
>value of "Torah" is 611.  Of the 613 commandments, two came directly to
>the people from Ha-Shem, but the other 611 we learned from Moshe.

I thought that Torah MiSinai means that all Torah is MiSinai.  If not, I
at minimum Sefer Habris is described as revealed text (Seere habrit is
the end of Yisro and Parshas Mishpatim are described bim'forash as
MiSinai.  If only the firt two dibros are from Sinai, then on what leg
can we stnd when we argue that Torah Sheb'al Peh is from Sinai?

Seriously, what is described above is a nice drush.  It, however, is not
the pshat of the Chumash.  While a nice drush is always exciting to
learn and provides wonderful insight, let's not confuse drush and pshat.

Ed Frankel


From: <gershon.dubin@...> (Gershon Dubin)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 96 15:00:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Er and Onan

> However to be considerd an adult ("gadol") one needs two
> requirements both age (12 for a girl 13 for a boy) and also signs of
> puberty. Thus, although Er and Onan showed signs of puberty they were
> not 13 years old and hence not subject to punishment according to
> Halakha. Thus I still don't understand how they were punished and how
> they got married. In fact the Talmud states that one is not punished
> in heaven until the age of 20!

      Er and Onan were, as were all of the Jewish people until the
revelation at Sinai, "Bnei Noach", children of Noach.  The law of 12/13
and of puberty as a determinant of majority did not exist.  I believe
the consensus of those who discuss the matter is that it depends on
their understanding i.e.  if they know that what they are doing is wrong
they can be tried in a Noachide court. 

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

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 96 11:23:22 EST
Subject: Er and Onan

> According to the description of Er and Onan's sin [coitus
> interruptus] ...

Why does everyone think that this was their sins?  From my quick
reading of the text, it is not all that obvious.

In the case of Er, it says (JPS translation) "(7)But Er, Judah's
first-born, was displeasing to the Lord, and the Lord took his life".
(Gen. 38:7) No mention of why Er was "displeasing", Although I'm sure
one of the commentaries (that I don't have access to right now) writes

In the case of Onan, it says "(9)But Onan, knowing that the seed would
not count as his, let it go to waste whenever he joined with his
brother's wife, so as not to provide offspring for his brother.
(10)What he did was displeasing to the Lord and He took his life
also."  (Gen. 38:9-10)

It seems to me that the sin Onan was killed for was not coitus
interruptus (although it is clear that he did this too) but his
refusal to have a child through Tamar.  He should have refused Yibum
(levirite marriage), and done chalitza (formal rejection of levirite
marriage) if he didn't want to have a child by Tamar.

My question is: Why does everyone focus on Onan's sexual behavior
instead of on his refusal to give Tamar a child?  It seems from a
straight reading that God killed Onan for the latter and not the


From: Shimon Lebowitz  <LEBOWITZ@...>
Date: Wed,  10 Jan 96 8:47 +0200
Subject: Kri'at Hatora, and Bnei Yisra'el

In reference to two separate topics:

<ShmuelAJ@...> (Shmuel Jablon) points out:
>  Rav Shlomo Aviner shlit"a notes that in pasuk 9 when Paraoh refers to
> us as "the People, Children of Israel" it is the first time that we are
> termed a "People."  This is also the beginning of our national

I believe this is a well known fact, but I recently read Parashat
Vayigash (see second comment below) and noticed something I hadn't
realized before.

in the final posuk of the parsha, we read: (my loose translation) 'And
Israel settled in the Land of Egypt'... 'and THEY were fruitful and
multiplied much'. the final phrase, 'vayifru, vayirbu' is written in the
*plural*, which shows that the word 'Yisrael' in this posuk, is not
referring to Ya'akov, as it has in the previous verses in the parsha,
but rather to the group entity, the 'am' (nation), even tho that
adjective WAS first used by par'o in parashat Shemot.

i didnt check VERY thoroughly, but i believe this was the first use of
Yisrael to mean a nation, or group, without the use of the words 'sons
of' or other implication that Yisrael is an *individual*.

on a second topic, as i mentioned above, i read parashat Vayigash, and,
to my shame, i made an error in reading.  AFTER i had returned from the
bima, following the reading of maftir, someone asked me: why did you
read "v'eineichem" (in the second posuk of revi'i). he showed me the
chumash, where it clearly says v'einchem.  (your EYE, singular, rather
than my mistaken reading of 'your eyeS', plural.)

this was particularly embarassing, as i had *prepared* it wrong...  may
the shame be a kapara for me.

the Rav of our shul was not present to ask about this, so i went over to
Rav Yehuda Hertzl Henkin, who davens in our shul, and asked him what to
do. his first thought which he said to me was 'you might have to read
again from revi'i ' (at which point i quickly notified the gabai to
wait... and not rush with hagbaha and gelila) :-(

however, he thought a few more moments, and told me we should ignore the
mistake, and continue with the davening. i spoke to him later, and he
explained this psak to me. (i apologize for not having the sources, but
i am sure he can repeat them to me if someone asks for them).

1. the mistake i made did not change any letters, but only vowels
   (the shva under the nun was read incorrectly, as i said a tzere there).
2. the meaning of the PHRASE was not changed, whether your 'eye' or
   'eyes' have no pity on your belongings, in both cases the true meaning
   is the same: 'never mind your belongings' (in the words of the
   JPS translation).
   this was the major "eye opener" ;-) to me, i had never heard of
   the 'change of meaning' rule being applied to a phrase, rather than an
   individual word.
3. the reading was completed, and it would have been an 'Avsha milta'
   (a big tumult?) and a tircha detzibura (bothersome to the congregation)
   to reread half the parasha.

i have repeated this to the best of my memory, and of course, any error
in the transmission of the Rav's words is mine.

Shimon Lebowitz                   Bitnet:   LEBOWITZ@HUJIVMS
VM System Programmer              internet: <lebowitz@...>
Israel Police National HQ.        IBMMAIL:  I1060211
Jerusalem, Israel                 phone:    +972 2 309-877  fax: 309-308


From: Hillel E. Markowitz <hem@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 08:14:13 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Pinchas/Zimri and Matityahu situations

> From: Channa Luntz <heather@...>
> I can see nothing that has anything to do with the category of rodeif,
> which is a specifically limited halachic category in which if a person
[rest deleted to save space]

> From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
> Zimri was not killed as a rodef but as a boel aramit.  One who is about
> to commit a murder on live TV is a rodef, just like one who is about to
> do it with only one observer.  I can't see how either case has relevance
> to someone who is about to do a different sin, even one as terrible as
> idolatry.  Nor do I understand how the princple of rodef can be extended
> to "attempting to destroy the judicial system of Bnei Yisrael" or that
> such an attempt carries a death penalty.  Wouldn't the principle of boel
> aramit equally apply to one who had no such intent?
> Please note that I am not criticizing Matityahu, I am questioning
> the explanation of Hillel Markowitz.

My apologies for not being clear on what I meant.  I was drawing an
analogy to the concept of rodeif in that someone, who was chayav misah
for committing an aveirah befarhsiyah (deliberately and in public) was
doing so in a situation which would allow him to not only get away with
it but would attack the judicial system of the Torah and the Torah
itself.  I feel that this is what allowed Pinchas and Matisyahu to kill
the perpetrator as "kanaim".  The rodeif analogy was treating Bnei
Yisrael as a "person" under attack who must be saved.  However, it is an
analogy to help understand what happened.

I should also point out that the intent of the perpetrator would not
matter as that is something we cannot tell.  We cannot read his mind, we
can only see his action, and that action is one designed to "break" the

Someone who commits an aveirah which is chayav misa in a situation where
there are aidim and the Sanhedrin can function to try him would be
subject to the normal judicial course of events.

Please note that I am saying this to address the concept of the
similarity of the actions of Pinchas and Matisyahu and why Pinchas would
justify Matisyahu.  It is perhaps an approach which can help understand
a little better the concept of kanaus (justified zealousness?) rather a
matter of the specific halacha (whether boel aramis or hora'as shaah).

|  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz |     Im ain ani li, mi li?      |
|   <H.E.Markowitz@...>   |   V'ahavta L'raiecha kamocha   |

From: <ahuz@...> (Avraham Husarsky)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 96 20:50:31 PST
Subject: Re: Pinchas/Zimri and Matityahu situations

>From: Channa Luntz <heather@...>
>I can see nothing that has anything to do with the category of rodeif,
>which is a specifically limited halachic category in which if a person
>is coming after another to kill or rape, one is permitted to try and
>save that other person out of their hand, even if it will mean killing
>the aggressor. It quite clearly does not apply to situations where
>another person is not in immediate physical danger.
>Also clearly the Jew who was willing to sacrifice on the altar was
>engaging in avodah zara b'farhessia, and therefore, would have been
>liable to the death penalty to be administered by a properly constituted
>Sanhedrin, assuming all the proper warnings were given, which Mattityahu
>was in a position to give.

the mishna on sanhedrin 73a that discusses rodeif specifically excludes
one who is attempting to worship avoda zara.  however, from the
juxtaposition it is clear that chazal certainly entertained the
possibility that such a person falls into the category of rodeif who can
be killed by an individual during the course of his/her action.  for
that matter on 74a, the gemara brings down the opinion of rabbi shimon
bar yochai who holds that oved avoda zara matzilin b'nafsho, i.e. is
considered a rodeif.  the gemara has similar discussions regarding
aishet ish.

mattityahu predated the above sages, so it is highly likely that this
argument in halacha had not been settled during his time, and he
followed the opinion of rashbi.  thus it is not necessary to bring in
horaat shaa, or the possibility that he was av beit din.

it is important not to be anachronistic regarding halacha.  what was
decided by a rov during a certain period of chazal, may not have been
the way it was practiced by everyone prior to that.  an example is the
opinion that holds that the currect practices of shofar blowing combine
a number of different variants that were extant within the land of
israel at that time.

Name: Avraham Husarsky
E-mail: <ahuz@...>


From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235%<BARILAN.bitnet@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 96 14:09 O
Subject: When Bad Things Happen

The issue of "Tzaddik ve-Ra Lo" is as old as mankind. Hazal struggled
with the issue and came up with no definitive answer. So did the
Rishonim and the Aharonim. So did our generation after the holocaust.
I've read Kushner's sensitive book "When bad things happen to good
people" and unfortunately his solution is that the Almighty is not in
control. This runs counter to the Traditional position, expressed by the
prophets of "yotzer ohr u-vorei hoshech oseh shalom uvorei ra" (creator
of light and darkness, maker of peace and creator of all). Gemarah
Berakhot notess that in order to be more poetic we avoid using "ra" in
Birkat keriat shma in the morning and instead say "et hakol". In any
case, we Jews maintain that G-d is the creator of all and thus
responsible and in control. The traditional position of "hester panim"
(hidden face) suggests that G-d chooses/wills to stand aside. Kushner on
the other hand, suggests that G-d has no control. That from a
traditional perspective negates G-ds omnipotence and is hence IMHO falls
under the category of apikursut.
     As Eli Wiesel has suggested I'd rather live with a good question
than with a bad/unacceptible answer.


From: schulman.ims%x400#@geis.geis.com (Steve Schulman)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 96 05:34:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Re: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

In Vol. 22 #74, Sharon Stakofsky-Davis <mdavis@...>wrote:
> Something that helped was reading "When Bad Things Happen to Good People",
> by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.

You may find Rabbi Frand's book interesting.  He discusses why Rabbi
Kushner's position is not acceptable to Halahik Judaism.

Steve Schulman


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 23:18:32 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

I have seen this book by Harold Kushner recommended or mentioned a couple of
times by people here on MJ. I have not read the book, but have heard that it
is beyond the pale of normative Othodox Judaism (to put it mildly) because it
either implies or states that G-d is not omniscient or omnipotent. I certainly
would not mind being corrected if my information is inaccurate, but, assuming
that my information is accurate, extreme discretion must be exercised in
making use of the book in question.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 96 13:10:08 +0200
Subject: Yehuda's Grandsons

 David Steinberg <dave@...> wrote:

>Another answer that I have heard for this question relies on close
>reading on the pasuk in VaYigash.  "VaYihyu Bnei Peretz" may be
>translated as the sons of Peretz _will be_ ...  According to this
>approach, Chetron and Chomul were included in the count even though the
>were born subsequently.  The Rabbi who told me this had other examples,
>that i have forgotten.  If I remember correctly, he explained that
>Chetzron and Chomul were included because they (in some way) took the
>place of Er and Onan.

I find  this VaYihyu" explanation  odd.  The  use of the  future tense
which becomes the past tense by the  addition of a Vav is standard.  I
could  bring all  the many  cases when  the ages  at which  people had
children (e.g.  Breshit  chapter 5)) and eventually how  long each one
lived, which starts  with VaYihyu kol y`me XXXX so  many years, surely
the past  tense is meant.   But why  go so far,  as in the  very pasuq
(verse) in Breshit 46,12 where  the above mentioned VaYihu appears, we
have also VaYamot  Er ve`Onan, also in this  future--->past tense when
surely past was meant.

 Michael Shimshoni


End of Volume 22 Issue 79