Volume 24 Number 28
                       Produced: Mon Jun  3  7:24:09 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Thought On Matan Torah
         [Moishe Kimelman]
A thought on Matan Torah
         [Chana Luntz]
Kollel and Shidduchim
         [Stephen Fleischer]
         [Steve Oren]
Public Apology and Request for Mechilah
         [Ira Benjamin]
Real Learning
         [Eli Turkel]
Shidduch enquiries
         [Neil Peterman]


From: Moishe Kimelman <kimel@...>
Date: Sat, 01 Jun 1996 20:05:29 +1000
Subject: Re: A Thought On Matan Torah

In # 25 Warren Burstein wrote:

>1) We voluntarily accepted the Torah, but God held the mountain over our
>heads to indicate that we may not later change our minds.

This is similar to the answer given by Tosafos (Shabbos 88a) who write
that Hashem wanted to prevent the acceptance of the Torah being
retracted through fear when BnaiYisrael would witness the great fire
that accompanied Matan Torah.

From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 1996 22:50:21 +0100
Subject: A thought on Matan Torah

In message <199605312318.TAA24522@...>, Warren Burstein writes

>Two resolutions I know of (I do not recall the sources) are
>1) We voluntarily accepted the Torah, but God held the mountain over our
>heads to indicate that we may not later change our minds.
>2) The Midrash is not describing a geological event, but is symbolic of
>compulsion which actually consisted of all the miracles performed for us
>after which we wouldn't have been capable of refusing the Torah even had
>we wanted.

The one I like is (I think, but could be misquoting, I don't have the
sefer handy and it has been a while) the Maharal: - that the reason is
based on the halacha that if a man forces a (non married) woman, he is
forced to marry her (if she desires him), and cannot divorce her all his
days. Since Matan Torah was like a marriage between HaKodosh Baruch Hu
and Israel (with the mountain being like the chuppah), the fact that
HaShem 'forced' us means that under the halacha *He* cannot ever divorce
us.  Our acceptance is just the other aspect of the requirement for a
valid marriage.




From: Stephen Fleischer <SMFLEISC@...>
Date: Thu, 30 May 96 11:40:00 PDT
Subject: Kollel and Shidduchim

In a recent edition Harry Maryles eloqently defended his position vis a
vis kollel and who should and shouldn't be in one. I agree with nearly
everything he says except one point: I disagree that every guy should
learn in yeshiva at least 5 years post high school, some of just can't,
plain and simple.  One year or maybe 2 is frequently as much if not too
much for some of us.  We can be koveh itim but more than that is really
not in many of us.

On another related note re: my earlier posting on this subject I would
like to thank all of the people who have contacted me about potential
shiduchim etc.



From: Steve Oren <soren@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 1996 00:13:22 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Masorah

In vol 24, No.17, my old friend Russel Hendel states that the
invariability of the Torah's text is "doctrinal". The obvious question
is: what do we mean when we can say something is doctrinal? Is it not
(this is explicit in the Sefer ha-Ikkarim of Yosef Albo and explicit in
the Rabad) that this is what the Tannaim, Amoraim, Rishonim, and
Aharonim believed? If someone were to say that something Rashi ( I pick
this example deliberately in view of what follows) said is not in accord
with Jewish doctrine, that Rashi is either confused in his mind or is a
heretic, would we not all agree that such a statement is absurd?

Now, Rashi comments on Job 32:3 (my translation) "This is one of the
places that scribes repaired the language of the text. "And he made him
evil" in regard to the Omnipresent it should have said but the text was
changed. And so (Psalms 106:20)"And they exchanged their glory in the
likeness of an ox" My glory it should have said but the text was
changed. And so (Numbers 11:15)"And let me not look on my evil" Their
evil it should have said but the text was changed and so many places in
Sifri and in the Great Masorah." Rashi evidently does not believe in the
invariability of the Torah.

By the same token, Rashi's Italian contemporary, Natan Ben Yechiel of
Rome writes in the Arukh, s.v. Kaved "The changes of the scribes 18 they
are. And it is explained in Midrash Yelamadnu [see below] (Zechariyah
2:12) "For the one who touches them is as one who touches the apple of
his eye". In the first texts it wrote "as the apple of My eye""

The Arukh's quote, and quite possibly Rashi's source, can be found in
Midrash Tanhuma BeShallach Chapter 16:"And so it says (Zechariah 2:12)
"For the one who touches them is as one who touches the apple of his
eye." My eye it should have said but the text was changed. That is to
say, as if to say, in regard to Above. And they changed the text that it
was a repair of scribes, the people of the Great Assembly. Similar to
it...[I omit a large number of examples from Nach] (Genesis 18:23) "And
Avraham stood yet before HaShem" but they changed the text. Similar to
it (Numbers 11:5) "And if thus you do to me, please kill me if I have
found favor in your eyes and let me not look on my evil" Similar to it
(Numbers 12:2) "Please, let her not be as a corpse, that in his coming
out of the womb of our mother and there is eaten half of our flesh" but
the text was changed. Similar to it...[more nach omitted]but the people
of the Great Assembly changed these verses." I am aware there are
commentators who wish to amend the Tanhuma's text but I do not believe
there is presently manuscript evidence for such change.

Russell Hendel is quite correct to say the view above is not the only
one and that the Minchat Shai is one of those who understands "tiqqun
Sofrim" in different ways. And as we have only 1 text from before the
1st destruction ( a copy of Birkat Cohanim which I am told is not
identical to our text) we can prove neither view. But the invariability
of the Torah's text cannot be "doctrinal."

He may also be correct in saying that currently used Sifrei Torot have
only 5 variations but this says little about the historic picture. Here,
I would point to the evidence of the Qumran texts which show quite a
number of variations reaching entire words and phrases. The Biblia
Hebraica Stuttgardensia (BHS), which has Minhat Shai as one of its
sources, should be consulted for a look at the range of varients.

For that matter, the discussion was really on those cases in which Hazal
have different texts than we do. I cited the example of B Niddah 32b/33a
but wish to note what Tosafot there says (in regard to a text from the
Torah) "lacking a vav. A question for in the Mesorah it is full but we
see that the Mesorah differs from the Talmud in Shabbat 55b..." And
Tosfei HaRosh has the comment as "A question that in the Mesorah it is
plain that it is full. And, However we find in many places that the
Talmud differs with the tradition of the texts..."

Two further examples of such differences should be cited. In M Sotah
7.5, the text is trying to prove that the blessings and curses were to
be given near Shechem." As it is written (Deut 11:30) 'Are not they
across the Jordan' etc and elsewhere it says (Genesis 12:6) "And Avram
passed in the land until the place of Shechem until Elon Moreh' What is
the Elon Moreh spoken of elsewhere? Shechem. Even Elon Moreh that is
spoken of here, Shechem." Very nice except that in the MT of Deut 11:30,
it does NOT say Elon Moreh but Elonei Moreh. THe Mishnah is quoting not
the MT, but some versions of the Greek Bible.

Again, in B Makkot 8b, we have a dispute between Rebbe and the Rabbonim.
"Says Rav Hiyya Bar Ashi says Rav "and both of them one text expound
(Deut 19:5) "And the iron slipped from the wood" Rebbe thinks authority
is with the written text (see Rashi here) Vav-Nun-yod-shin-lamed is
written and Rabbis think authority is with the read text
vav-nun-shin-lamed is read." No one in that gemara differs with Rav as
to the fact of what is written and yet our text shows no such yod. I am
aware that RItva hold s the only difference is a chirik instead of a
qametz but it is hard to understand how such could be the "written"
text. Note by the way that Y Makkot 2.2 has yet a different varient for
this word

Again, additional examples and comments would be most welcome. And,
again, special fond greetings to Russell Hendel from
 Steve Oren 


From: Ira Benjamin <benjira@...>
Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 20:23:12 -0700
Subject: Public Apology and Request for Mechilah

I would like to take this opportunity, as I believe is my Chiyuv,
(obligation), to publicly apologize to Mr. Harry Maryles for misquoting

The quote should have read "Roshei Yeshiva are incorrectly not guiding
their students into a more productive life and are therefore
inadvertantly creating a large community of Batllanim (time wasters) of
varying degrees."

Although I did, in fact, misquote Mr. Maryles, I still do believe that
there is a room here to stand up for Kovod Hatorah upon reading such a
statement.  It is just this sort of sweeping generalization that causes
a "Bitter taste" in peoples' mouths when talking about Kollelim.

I do not believe that this Choshuva forum is the place to espouse a
feeling that Roshei Yeshiva, most of whom are themselves "Yechidei
Segula" are inadvertenly creating a community of Batllanim, as if they
do not really understand the ramifications of what they are doing. They
understand very well.  If a parent feels that such intense inculcation
for Limud Hatorah full time is not for their child (whether that is for
the parent to decide upon or not is for another posting) then there is
no shortage of very good Yeshivos that do not follow that particular

Now that I do know a little bit more about Mr. Maryles' background, and
he deserves all the respect due his situation, I am even more surprised
that he would make such a statement in a public forum.  He himself says
that Roshai Yeshiva have not wanted to go on record, publicly, with such
statements.  Why then does he?

I believe that there is no room for sweeping statements in this regard.
Each boy is different; different abilities in learing, different
abilities in Midos, and such decisions, even for 2 to 5 years post-high
school, should be made on an individual basis in consultation with
parents and Rabbeim.

I do not beleive that there is any "brain-washing" going on in Yeshivos
that push for Kollel learning.  The Roshai Hayeshiva that live and
breath those Yeshivos, that live and breath Torah day and night know
very well what they are doing.  They are doing what they believe in,
they are doing what they believe their "Mesoroh" is, and they are doing
it with full understanding of all the worldly ramifications that come
with it.  For those who disagree with it, there are other alternatives.

Leaving the walls of the Yeshiva, leaving a world of living and
breathing Torah day and night SHOULD be a very scary decision for a boy.
It is a switch in one's Derech Hachayim, (way of life).  It is a switch
from a life of pure Ruchnius (spirituality) to a life which focuses more
on Gashmiyus (material) wellbeing.  Such a decision deserves all the
weight it carries in molding the future of that boy and the family he
will raise.

In closing, I ask Mechila from Mr. Maryles if I caused him any public
discomfort or humiliation.

Respectfully submitted,

Uri Benjamin


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 1996 08:16:47 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Real Learning

   Zvi Weiss writes

>> While Daf Yomi has led to lots of "good things" -- that does NOT mean
>> that it is **learning**.

    I would still humbly suggest that real **learning** meaning in depth
study is being overly emphasized. The sephardim in general and Rav
Ovadiah Yosef in particular stress the idea of learning in order to
decide practical halachah. There has been a number of debates between
Rav Ovadiah Yosef and members of the "yeshivish" community over this
issue. In fact one of things I like about the Hebrew Steinsaltz Gemara
is that he brings the halachah at the bottom of each page an idea also
advocated by Rav Kook among others.  I personally feel that many
yeshivas stress in depth learning too much at the expense of learning in
breadth including Tanach, Mussar, Haskafa, Aggadah, Halachah etc.

    In general I find this whole concept very elitist. The cobbler who
comes home from 12 hours of hard labor and learns daf yomi or mishnah or
Tanach is being told he is not really **learning**. Each person has his
level and for one without a yeshivah background daf yomi with Artscroll
can be as much a struggle as Gemara with commentaries is for someone
with a strong background. I assume most people on this list are
intelluctuals. However, not everyone is capable of in depth learning
certainly on a regular basis.  Futhermore, I understand that Rav Moshe
Feinstein learned daf yomi each day in addition to his other learning
(including covering the entire Shulchan Arukh every month) in order to
learn together with the rest of the Jewish world. He obviously felt that
it was a complete waste of his time and he wanted to encourage learning
daf yomi.

>> When I was in Yeshiva, the focus was on undrstanding the Gemara
>> "through the eyes" of a relatively small number of commentaries. Simply
>> bringing down opinions for discussion is not necessarily a disciplined
>> rigorous approach to "real learning" -- i.e., "toil in Torah".

    My training was similar to Zvi's. However, we have to be broad
minded enough to recognize that other yeshivas have other
viewpoints. The definition of "toil in Torah" is not to do things my way
but rather not to take the lazy way out but instead apply oneself each
person in the way that is appropriate for him.

Eli Turkel


From: <npms@...> (Neil Peterman)
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 1996 16:42:19 +0400
Subject: Shidduch enquiries

Having asked for piskei halocho on several occasions, my wife and I now
adopt the following guidelines when dealing with shidduch enquiries,
which other readers may like to comment on/find helpful.

 1.  We will only answer questions which come directly from the
principals, usually the parents of the boy or girl, either through their
asking or our being satisfied that the questioner, e.g. a shadchan, is
asking something the principal wants to know not something the shadchan
wants to know.
 2.  We will only respond to specific enquiries - we will not answer a
question such as 'what are your general impressions of .....', or 'is
there anything else we should know?'.
 3.  We will not make subjective value judgements as to what may or may
not be 'critical information'.  If in doubt we will take a name and
phone number to call back, using the 'excuse' that the other spouse
knows the person better.  A Rov can then be asked what to do.
 4.  We will only answer questions if we have current, first hand

We find it very difficult to keep strictly to these guidelines, but also
very difficult to apply the halocho if we deviate from them.  Providing
honest, objective information in response to specific shidduch enquiries
is not loshon hara, however damning the information may be.  Providing
colored opinions, volunteering unrequested or out of date information,
is almost always likely to lead to halachic problems.  Not responding in
a business like objective manner, or saying something like 'I cannot
answer that because ......', regardless of the reason ( unless it is
that you do not know the person or have first hand current information),
is likewise highly problematic as it will very often lead to the
assumption that there is detrimental information that is being hidden.

Personally we find the most difficult enquiries those where the boy or
girl is from a non-religious home, or a home where there are or have
been family problems, and the questioner is not interested in the
tremendous qualities of the boy or girl only the family history.  

Neil Peterman


End of Volume 24 Issue 28