Volume 24 Number 05
                       Produced: Mon May 20  8:00:49 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artscroll and Translations
         [Israel Rosenfeld]
Artscroll Talmud Translations
Lag Be'omer/LA'omer
         [Yosey Goldstein]
Learning versus "Lerning"
         [Eli Turkel]
Pasat and Medrashim
         [Avi Wollman]
Question about Rings
         [Aaron Aryeh Fischman]
Rings and Washing
         [Shoshana Sloman]
         [Chana Luntz]


From: <iir@...> (Israel Rosenfeld)
Date: Thu,  16 May 96 18:42 +0200
Subject: Re: Artscroll and Translations

>From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
>   On a different topic, several people have expressed doubts about daf
>yomi as not really being learning. I find this an amazing opinion. Daf
>yomi was introduced early this century by some gedolim and has probably
>been the most successful innovation in many years to increase

I quote: Avoda Zara 19a - Rava said, first learn superficially, then dive.

Eli, I hope we meet before Sium Hashas.

Shabbat shalom,



From: crp <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 12:17:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Artscroll Talmud Translations

An argument has been advanced in favor of the ArtScroll translations
that they are similar in vein to what Rashi did. I feel this argument is
a fallacy. The ArtScroll are not a new commentary, they are a full
translations. There is a world of difference between the two.

Try the following experiment: Learn a Mishnayos with ArtScroll and then
with a Brinbaum(sp? is that the right name?) translation. Which one
leaves you the learner feeling more fullfilled, better accomplished and
more retentive?

Another argument has been made that the ArtScroll translations have
enabled "more people to be learning than ever before". First, I would be
shocked if the actual numbers bear that out. Secondly, the DafYomi
program was in full swing well before ArtScroll translations. Thirdly,
why is it considered a good thing that the masses are learning Gemora
BeKiyus? It is one thing for a BenTorah (like David Twersky) to be doing
so, another thing entirely for someone like me. The adage "a little
knowledge is a dangerous thing" applies in full force to Gemora. If
there is a concern about Learning among the Am, the learning should
start at the beginning - Tenach ; or for daily living - Halacha.

For Tenach, I have little problems with the ArtScroll (or Living Torah)
translations. Torah SheBiksav is unmanangable without the Ba'el Peh and
the various commentaries. The difference between the two situations is
the time and place. Having a full translation when doing Tenach, you are
learning Ba'el Peh for the sake of `Biksav. If one was using an
ArtScroll Gemora when learning Tenach i would not complain, even in a

If my views towards learning Gemora strike some as elitist - Bingo! The
Gemora was not intended and should not be used as a Learning tool by
running through it as one would a manual. And If the Am needs to learn
for a practical benefit, the Shulchan Aruch (& its type) should be
used. I do not see what the Am (to the exclusions of BenTorah) gains by
Gemorah that wouldn't be of greater value from Learning Halacha. A
Simmen Yomi would be of more value than Daf Yomi.

Finally, in regards to translations - let us not forget that Targum
Shivim is not a highlight of Jewish History and is one of the reasons
for fasting.



From: Yosey Goldstein <JOE-G@...>
Date: Thu, 16 May 96 09:12:25 EDT
Subject: Lag Be'omer/LA'omer

Micha Berger asks: "Do people who count omer using "sheheim ... shavuos
vi... yamam LAomer" call the holiday Lag LA'omer? :-)"

This had bothered me for years, until I saw the AVUDRAHAM mention the
proper Nussach is LAOMER and later he discusses the holiday of Lag
LA'omer! So the answer is YES it is , or should be, Lag La'omer.



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 08:00:41 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Learning versus "Lerning"

    A number of people have stated that the only purpose of learning 
Gemara is to do it in depth and that superficial learning of all of Shas
is of limited value. Thus, for example, Micha Berger states

>> I'm not sure of the point of a one-hour Daf Yomi class. It would seem 
>> that this is outside the intent of the Gemara. ... 
>> To put it another way. The point of Gemara is to be learnt
>> bi'iyun. Bikiyus, IMHO, has its place -- only as a way to get a large
>> supply of facts to manipulate in further Gemara study.

   I think this statement is a vast overstatement. It is necessary to
learn large sections of the Gemara to get an appreciation of the Torah
outlook on life. Many yeshivas have objected to Musar on the grounds
that one learns what to do by learning the entire Talmud. There are
several gemaras that are relatively independent of the rest of the
Talmud e.g. Berachot, Zevachim.  If one were to spend a lifetime
learning Berachot in great detail with every possible Rishon and Acharon
without learning anything else in the Talmud I think his Torah outlook
would be very limited. Similarly, most people would agree that someone
who knows only the laws of sacrfices is not a real scholar.  To the best
of my knowledge those yeshivas that specialize in the laws of sacrifices
(Kodashim) agree that this should be done after learning the more
traditional Gemaras.
   IMHO those yeshivas that learn 10 pages (blatt) in a year are doing
their students a great misservice. "Bikiyus" in Talmud, all parts of
Shulchan Arukh, Tanach is much more than just a stepping stone to the
next level. It has a great intrinsic worth.
    Furthermore, I would argue that "lerning" is only the mitzva of
learning Torah if one understands what one is learning. Obviously if one
learns a reasonable explanation of the gemara and it turns out to be
wrong (in some sense of the word) then he has fulfilled the
mitzva. However, one who completely misunderstands the Gemara (or what
is known as "krum") I have doubts that he has fulfilled the Mitzva of
learning even though he has worked very hard. I don't see this as being
any different than one who had diligently worn tefillin every day only
to find out that they have been posul for his whole life. G-d will give
him a reward for his diligence (assuming he was not negligent in check
the tefillin) but he has not fulfilled the mitzva of Tefillin. In the
mitzva of Hakhel (listening to the king every 7 years) the Gemara says
that men come to learn and women come to listen.  They may both work
hard but there is still a difference between listening without fully
comprehending and between learning.
     Hasidism has stresses the concept that one can worship G-d in many
different ways as long as it is done with love and diligence. There is
the famous Hasidic tale of the ignorant shepard who put his entire soul
into developing a tune (nigun) expressing his love for G-d and this was
more pleasing than the learning of the scholars. The Vilna Gaon rejected
this approach and stressed the importance of learning meaning one must
understand what one is learning. If one simply reads through the Gemara
Zevachim, Menachot, Hullin (recent and upcoming daf yomi) without
understanding the difficult concepts then it is probably a lower level
than reciting Tehilim.  To that extent any aids that help are welcome.

Eli Turkel


From: <avi@...> (Avi Wollman)
Date: Sun, 19 May 96 10:28:13 EET DST
Subject: Pasat and Medrashim

Will we have learned that the torah even with its deeper meanings still
keeps a peshat (=direct transalation) meaning, no where does ANYONE say
medrash (=talmudic stories) have a peshat. What is said is just the opposite
there is NO peshat in medrash. The source of what I've said is based upon
the "Maharal" and also simple logic. Just try to understand some of the
stangest mesdrshim and ask your self for what are they telling me this
is all what Hazal (=the rabbis) has to tell me what does it help me in
life, how does it make me a better jew !?.

Avi Wollman - Technical Support Engineer                               Home:
Jerusalem College of Technology                             Kochav HaShachar
e-mail: <avi@...>                            DN Mizrach Binyamin
tel: 972-2-751170 fax: 972-2-751200                       tel: 972-2-9942644


From: <afischman@...> (Aaron Aryeh Fischman)
Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 11:34:11 -0500
Subject: Question about Rings

A Question about rings..

I would ordinarily wear my wedding band while kneading dough, or any
other 'dingy' activity, so according to the Netilat Yadayim (hand
washing) litmus test, I would need not remove my ring for Washing. My
question is about tefilin. Is the ring considered a Chatzitza
(separation) between the tefilin straps and my finger, or does the same
rule apply from Netilat Yadayim?

Aharon Fischman


From: Shoshana Sloman <ssloman@...>
Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 06:27:21 -0500
Subject: Rings and Washing

> From: Josh Wise <jdwise@...>
> The Mishna Brurah primarily addresses the issue of women wearing rings
> removing them for netilat yadiyim.  He says that if a woman would remove
> her ring while she kneads dough, then she should remove it for netilat
> yadiyim.

I had heard this before and am confused by it.  I remove my ring while
kneading dough precisely BECAUSE it is loose, and I don't want dough to
get caught underneath it.  So it would seem to me that such a ring would
NOT have to be removed for netilas yadayim.  Can anyone explain the
reasoning to me?

-Shoshana Sloman


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 09:40:05 +0100
Subject: Translations

I have to confess that *I* use translations in a very different way, and
find them very handy.  The problem for me is that while in English I can
skim very fast, just looking for keywords, in Hebrew/Aramaic, I have to
actually read/learn the text. So, for example if I know that a posuk is
in D'varim, I pull out my Koren, think of the relevant keyword in
English, and turn pages, and very shortly I will find it (at which point
i will switch to the Hebrew) - while without an English translation I
would need to read the whole of D'varim.  The same applies if I remember
that a discussion occurs in the fourth perek of (or the beginning of)
Gitten - the easiest way for me to find that reference is just to turn
pages in an Artscroll (The Shteinzaltz is less useful, because they have
abandoned the standard Vilna formatting, and so it doesn't provide the
added comfort of the visual layout of the page being as you remember
it). Without an English translation, I have to do a little more research
(I was looking for something in the first half of Gitten the other day,
didn't have a translation, and was forced to skim read the Chumash for
the relevant pasuk, then use the toldos Aharon/Torah Temima for a
reference into the text and then cross reference, it would have been
much easier if I had a translation).

But then - maybe I am weird - because I find that I need to look at the
text to understand the translation ;-)

In all seriousness, I am rather baffled as to how one could learn the
translation without the text.  All translations are, by definition, a
perush on a text. The Artscroll, I know, tries to follow Rashi (mostly),
but the reality is that different languages always bring in their
different nuances, and because of this, any translation, of any text,
(be it a secular novel or whatever) is always diminished, and less
content transmitted by translation. A difficult text, like the Talmud,
cannot in any way accurately be translated, at best - one facet of its
multifacetedness can be expressed.  This is true for any difficult text
- for a text where so much of the learning involves understanding
different readings (Rashi reads it this way, Tosphos reads it this way,
the Rambam must be reading it this way to posken as he does etc etc),
any translation, even assuming tranlations could accurately convey the
flavor of the original, and were not flattened in the way i mention
above, can not possibly give more than one out of many 'takes' on the
underlying basic unknown.

Now maybe my 'take' on learning is unorthodox - I certainly have very
little exposure to a yeshiva system (for obvious reasons) - but I would
have thought that, getting students to understand the multiplicity of
understandings was exactly what the yeshiva system aimed to do.  And if
students are using a translation to work out 'the answer' instead of
struggling - it strikes me that their whole philosophy of learning is
fundamentally flawed - that is, they haven't grasped the very basics of
what it is they are doing (yes, the Artscroll perush may come easy, and
be easy to understand - but next comes Rashi and Tosphos etc etc).

So maybe what I don't understand is the philosophy of learning that is
underlying a lot of the criticism. Yes, I can certainly see, in the non
yeshiva setting, that people may easily be led to believe that they
understand 'the text' rather than a 'take' on the text (l'havidil but to
give an extreme example to make the matter clear - the way Christians
aren't able to realise that all they are working off is a translation,
and one that has a definite slant at that), and thereby be led even
further away from real learning and this understanding of a multiplicity
of readings - but how is that possible in a yeshiva setting - where
surely the Rav will set a number of different Rishonim, and it will
immediately become clear that they are often reading the text in a
totally different way?



End of Volume 24 Issue 5