Volume 23 Number 36
                       Produced: Fri Mar  8 10:46:39 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

120 / 2 = 60 years
         [Nicolas Rebibo]
Black hat vs. kippah
         [Avraham Husarsky]
G-d's Mercy and Sending away the Mother Bird
         [Avrohom Dubin]
         [Yosey Goldstein]
         [Sean) Engelson]
Kollelim, or the value of Talmud Torah
         [Meir Shinnar]
         [Lisa Halpern]


From: <nre@...> (Nicolas Rebibo)
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 15:26:09 +0100
Subject: 120 / 2 = 60 years

As we are on the "120 years" subject, I was wondering if anyone is aware
of special minhagim when a person reaches 60 years.

I once heard that since that person reached more than half his theorical
lifespan, he was not subject to the Karet punishment (and will not be, because
we are following the majority) and he should have a Seuda.

One problem I have with this is that Karet is at least one of the following
"removal" (as far as I know):
- to die at an early age
- to die without children
- having no share in Olam Haba

any comments ?

Nicolas Rebibo  <rebibo@...>
                listowner: <judaisme-l@...>
 Communaute On Line: The French Jewish Network
<col@...>               http://www.iway.fr/col


From: <hoozy@...> (Avraham Husarsky)
Date: Tue,  5 Mar 96 18:14:05 msk
Subject: Black hat vs. kippah

>From: Howard M. Berlin <berlin@...>
>I have just finished watching "A Stranger Among Us" (for the bizillionth
>time), which may or may not be an accurate representation of certain
>aspects of the Chassidic community.
>Please pardon me if this question has been delt with before here (maybe
>long ago) but what defines when a chassid wears his black hat (with
>kippah undeneath) and when only the kippah is worn?

Your perceptions here are accurate.  I'd would just like to add a quote
from my chassidic uncle when I questioned him on these things - "today
it's all externals, it's just a fashion" in that respect he may be
correct.  There really isn't much significance to skver chassidim's
knee-high boots, gerer spudiks (the "tall" streimel worn by polish jews
and some yerushalim's (rav kook wore one like this) the satmar "flat"
hats, etc., beyond group identification.

BTW gerrer chassidim are very flexible on footwear, and at my uncle's
kiryah in the galil i have seen quite a number of men in the full
shabbos getup sporting black reeboks.  i have it on good word that the
gerer rebbe himself used sport shoes (possibly reeboks, anyone for a
joint advert with charles barkley) until someone politely pointed out
that he might want to change his shoes for appearances sakes.

Name: Avraham Husarsky         
E-mail: <hoozy@...>, avraham.husarsky@pobox.com, 
        <lucifer@...>, ahuz@netvision.net.il


From: Avrohom Dubin <apdubin@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 1996 13:01:08 -0500
Subject: G-d's Mercy and Sending away the Mother Bird

A number of recent postings have focused on the contradiction between
(i)#the treatment of the commandment to send away the mother bird
("Shiluach Hakan") as an educational discipline to teach us the attribute
of mercy and (ii) the Talmudic injunction against referring to Shiluach
Hakan as an example of G-d's mercy on his creations.

The Sefer Hachinuch dealing with Shiluach Hakan quotes verbatim from
the Ramban's (Nachmanides) commentary on the Mitzvah of Shiluach
Hakan, where the Ramban raises the same issue.

The Ramban first quotes from Maimonides in Guide to the Perplexed,
whose position is that the two quoted positions are in fact at odds with
each other with respect to the basic question of whether or not we are
supposed to look for the underlying reasons of the Mitzvos.  Maimonides
conclusion, according to the Ramban (I did not verify this independently -
the Ramban's word is sufficient for me) is that we are to, and do indeed,
follow the opinion that we are supposed to seek out reasons for the
performance of the Mitzvos.

The Ramban disagrees with Maimonides in (approximately) the manner
described by Israel Rosenfeld in his posting.  The Ramban suggests that
to state that G-d is merciful (or, for that matter, any other specific
character trait) would impose a "limit" on the limitless Creator.  My
understanding of this position is that if G-d were to be intrinsically
merciful, it would be in some fashion difficult for Him (G-d forbid that we
think such a thing) to act otherwise than mercifully.

Because G-d is, however, all powerful, He is above and beyond any
limiting attribute, regardless of whether or not mortals would deem such
character trait to be meritorious.

The Ramban therefore explains that there is no contradiction between
the injunction against attributing mercy to G-d and the obligation upon us
to learn mercy from Shiluach Hakan.  We are not to learn from the
mitzvah of Shiluach Hakan that G-d is merciful because that is limiting and
perhaps blasphemous (precisely because it is limiting).

G-d in His infinite wisdom has decreed, however, that we are to be
merciful and He has provided us with mitzvos such as Shiluach Hakan
(and the prohibition of slaughtering a cow and its calf on the same day,
among others) in order to teach us the attribute of mercy.

The Ramban emphasizes that there is no contradiction between our
learning the attribute of mercy from Shiluach Hakan and our being
warned lest we attribute mercy to G-d as an intrinsic character trait.

After quoting the Ramban at length, the Sefer Hachinuch apologizes for
the length of the explanation but states that he felt it necessary due to
the importance of the issues raised.

My apologies are similarly extended for the length of this post, and for
the same reason.

Avrohom Dubin


From: Yosey Goldstein <JOE-G@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 96 14:58:05 EST
Subject: Intermarriage

In response to the request for information as to what to do for his
friend that is considering marrying out of the faith.  There is a book
written by Rabbi Kalman Packousz of Aish Hatorah That deals with this
topic. He has an Email address but does not know if he can handle
"Volume mail" I am attaching both the "snail mail" address and email.


Snail Mail:
How to Stop an Intermarriage
3414 Prairie Avenue
Miami Beach, Fl 33140
check for $25 payable to:  aish hatorah.

Hope this helps


From: <engelson@...> (Dr. Shlomo (Sean) Engelson)
Date: 07 Mar 1996 15:28:53 GMT
Subject: Re: Kollel
Newsgroups: shamash.mail-jewish

From: Sam Saal <saal@...>

> I have a problem with the comparisons between academia and the Yeshiva
> world largely because the underlying philosophy of study is so different.
> I first understood this difference when it was taught to me a few
> years ago by Prof. Joe Levinson of Jerusalem.
> 	[..."who is a predecessor?" elided...]
> When an Academic does not understand a predecessor's work, s/he asks
> "what did my predecessor do wrong to come to this conclusion?" When a
> Yeshiva student doesn't understand a predecessor's work, s/he asks "what
> do _I_ not understand?" This fundamental difference, I believe leads to
> very different approaches to research. The academician will be more
> likely to attempt to knock a predecessor and possibly, therefore, more
> likely to publish. The yeshiva scholar will take his question and study
> more.

Why is it not possible to publish such clarifications of the work of
gedolim?  Or other types of chidushei Torah?  Certainly a "publish or
perish" mentality is not what's needed here.  But it would seem that at
the Kollel level, new understandings and ideas should be generated,
worthy of publication by a properly refereed journal.  An excellent
example of Kollel publication (not quite parallel to the academic kind)
is the well-known sefer "Perush `Hai" on Eruvin, which provides both a
very useful aid to the study of the Masekhet, and also shows that the
Kollel member who wrote the sefer was truly learning.

BTW, it is not at all the case that the only impetus to scientific
publishing is "what did that other guy do wrong?"  At least ideally, the
major impetus is "gee, I wonder why that happens?"



From: <meir_shinnar@...> (Meir Shinnar)
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 96 13:39:22 EST
Subject: Re: Kollelim, or the value of Talmud Torah

With regard to the recent discussion of kollelim, I recently ran across
a published dvar torah by a noted haredi rav on Megillat Esther(citation
available on request).  This dvar torah is remarkable both for the light
it sheds on the current kollel culture, as well as for its radical break
from normative halakha.  In this dvar torah, he argues that talmud torah
is more important than saving lives.

To summarize: At the end of the Megilla, it says that Mordochai was
"ratzui lerov echav" - accepted by most of his brethren.  A midrash,
brought down by Rashi, argues as that some members of the Sanhedrin
disapproved of Mordochai, because "nitkarev lamalchut vebitel mitalmudo"
- he became close to the authorities and stopped his learning.
According to this rav, this means they disapproved of the fact that he
stopped learning to save the Jewish people.  He specifically brings down
the halakha that saving lives is more important than talmud torah, only
to tell us that the true value system is not according to the halakha.
Someone who sits and learns is greater than someone who saves lives.
Following the halachically mandated course is necessary, but leads to
loss of personal spiritual growth, and pure talmud torah is preferable.

    While clearly many in Israel follow this interpretation halakha
lemaaseh, it is important to realize how radical this interpretation is.
We set up the act of learning as the ultimate goal, even more important
than saving lives.  Besides the fact that I find this evaluation morally
repulsive, it is contrary to Halakha.  Indeed, halakha is no longer the
ultimate arbiter of our values.  Instead, we follow a possible
interpretation of a midrash.  Indeed, this is not even the plain pshat
of the midrash or the pasuk. Pshat of the pasuk would seem to indicate
that this refers to the difficulty of even someone such as Mordochai
being universally accepted by his brethren.  The pshat of this midrash
seems to be that even someone such as Mordochai has an obligation to
continue learning, and they felt that he was overly consumed by his

Yet, even if the rav's interpretation of the midrash is correct, it is
strange that for our values, we follow midrash rather than the halakha.
This exaltation of Talmud Torah as the ultimate value, justifying
everything to achieve it, is clearly a radical break with the past.
Halakha no longer determines our values, because halakha puts limits on
the value of Talmud Torah.

The glorification of Talmud Torah transforms the very act of Talmud
Torah from the study of Hashem's Torah to guide our lives to an
esoteric, magical action.  To me, this version of study is not even true
Talmud Torah.

Again, Talmud Torah is vitally important, both to learn what to do (lo
am haaretz hasid (the ignorant can not be pious) as well as Torah lishma
(for its own sake).  However, until now, it has been important within
the context of our avodat hashem, not as defining it.  In a recent
post(v23n33), I cited R. Chaim of Brisk's description of the role of a
rav, as being primarily one of social justice, not learning the Rambam.

 The issue therefore is whether one favors a community where learning is
fundamentally the sole value, or one where learning is important, but is
part of an overall community and commitment to Torah life.  Is Talmud
Torah a mitzvah of the Torah, or an id(ea)(o)l to itself.

Meir Shinnar


From: <ohayonlm@...> (Lisa Halpern)
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 1996 15:32:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Tehillim

Additionally, Sara Duker z"l's mother has requested that anyone who 
wishes to make a donation in her memory please to contribute to either 
Mazon or to the JNF.

A call has gone out from Jerusalem for women to say a special order of 
Tehillim. Each women is then asked to tell three other women  to do the 
same. If you are a man reading this please pass it on to a woman.
There is a special order...
#'s 20, 130, 142
and then 119 reading all sentences starting with Kof, Rash and Ayin.
May Ha Shem answer our prayers..

Lisa Halpern


End of Volume 23 Issue 36