Volume 24 Number 46
                       Produced: Thu Jun 20 22:41:19 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Chaim Shapiro]
Hebron and Cowards
         [Eli Turkel]
Legitimate Pesak and Conservative Practice
         [David Mescheloff]
Right wing vs. center
         [Dov Krulwich]
Why the Disparity--A solution to Chayim Shapiro's Problem
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Chaim Shapiro <ucshapir@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 22:25:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Clarification

	In a previous post, I made the comment that a person with a hat
and beard never stopped to give me a ride even once in my five+ years of
school.  I stand by that statement.  However, i have been informed that
my assertion has been misunderstood.  I was refering to situations where
neither the driver or hitchiker knew each other.  Upon rereading my
post, I can see where such a misunderstanding could arise. I probably
should have been more specific. There was one incident where a person I
knew (albiet barely...we went to day school together) with a hat and
beard recognized me and gave me a ride.  To him, (Mordechai Eisenbach) I
apologize sincerly.
 Chaim Shapiro


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 10:35:49 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Hebron and Cowards

    In a recent issue of the English version of Yated Neeman (the paper
of the Lithuanian Haredi community in Israel) there was an extended
opinion expressed against the settlers in Hebron. His main points are

   One has no right to live in Hebron as one is endangering his life
   "pikuach nefesh". Only for three commandments can one put his life in
   danger. Furthermore, this turn forces Jewish soldiers to patrol the
   area on shabbat. He claims that in the old days the Jews and arabs
   lived in peace in Jerusalem. He further quotes from the famous letter of 
   the Brisker Rav that tried to stop the Israeli declaration of independence 
   on the grounds that Jewish life would be spilt. So he warns the Haredi 
   community not to get involved in the false fights of the national religious 
   elements. He concludes "The main conclusion we need to draw from any 
   situation where a danger to Jewish life forces them to abandon their homes 
   is that 'and we, due to our many sins, destroyed the Jewish settlement'... 
   We should not go out protesting to stop the withdrawal from Hebron but 
   instead we must strengthen ourselves spiritually ..."

I found this opinion very disturbing. First on halakhic grounds there
are other mitzvot besides the famous three for which one must (may) give
up one's life. Rav Dovid Cohen of Gevul Yaavetz in Brooklyn states that
public descreation of G-d's name (chillul hashem) requires one to give
up one's life and so any action that would make Israeli appear to be
foolish requires one to give up one's life. Even more to the point
everyone agrees that the laws of war, by definition, requires one to put
his life in danger. Since, our present situation is one of quasi-war the
normal laws of pikuach nefesh don't apply.  As to the Israeli soldiers
needed to for their protection the paper does not seem to be bothered by
the Israeli poiliceman needed by the demonstrations against Sabbath
descrecration. I have always been one of the (few) defenders of land for
peace. But that concept means that in theory one can give up land in
return for a real peace and so I would be willing to some compromise on
Hebron that would enable the settlers to continue living in Hebron and
Kiryat Arba (I don't want to raise that issue again). That is a far cry
from accusing the settlers there of ignoring Halakhah for political
gains when in fact many of the people living in Hebron sit and learn in

My main point however, goes deeper than that. To make it less emotional
let's pretend this issue arises outside of Israel when some antisemtitic
groups wants the Jews to leave a neigborhead and become threating.  Does
the halakha of "pikuach nefesh" condemn us to become eternal cowards?
As soon as we are threatened are we immediately to give in and say that
instead we should have been more spiritual? I am not advocating any
particular response. Each community would choose what they feel is the
appropriate response in their situation. However, a response of we can't
defend ourselves because it would involve pikuach nefesh is one from the
middle ages when the Jews had no other choice. The author of this
opinion would not like it but in my opinion Ben Gurion was right and the
Brisker rav was wrong as proved by history. If the Brisker Rav had been
followed there would not be the Torah community that presently exists in
Israel. Instead there would still be a few thousand poor Jews in the old

Eli Turkel


From: David Mescheloff <meschd@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 1996 14:55:11 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Legitimate Pesak and Conservative Practice

In volume 24, number 30 (May 28), Rabbi Michael J Broyde suggested that
"an explicit example of a posek stating that a particular practice
should not be permitted, because the conservative rabbinate has stated
that this is permitted, could be found in a responsum of HRH"G Yechezkel
Abramsky, quoted in full in the hakdama of volume four of Tzitz

I read that teshuva, and it does not seem to me to be the explicit
example Rabbi Broyde suggested it is.  The question dealt with is the
permissibility of gelatin made from non-kosher bones, which had been
permitted by some highly reliable poskim (I don't add the word
"Orthodox" before poskim, because that is the only kind of posek there
is).  Rabbi Abramsky shares that view on halachic technical grounds, but
suggests that "in actual practice, one must give the matter very serious
thought, if permitting gelatin will not cause a stumbling block, by
appearing to prove right those who go astray, and who lead others
astray, claiming that the laws of the Torah can be changed at will by
rabbis and poskim.  For gelatin, whose nature and whose maufacturing
processes were initially not fully understood, was thought by all until
now to be forbidden, since it was well known that it was made from the
bones of forbidden meat - and some, out of ignorance, went even further
and said that the very substance of gelatin is the bone marrow.  This is
no vain fear, that permitting gelatin might strengthen the false notion,
so wide-spread in our times - by error or intentionally - that
permitting or forbidding is in the rabbis hands like the clay of the
potter.  About this it says in Yoma (40a) "Don't give the Saduccees the
opportunity to rule" - Rashi: that they will say (of the Pharisees)
'they do whatever they want'.  And so Rabbenu Hananel wrote (Shabbat
139a) "From this we learn that even permissible things such as these,
which are in the hands of ignorant people to do, one may not permit, but
must be stringent and forbid.""

There are some very important principles of paskening here which every
LOR must know when and how to use.  But this is certainly not "an
explicit example" forbidding something permissible because the
conservative "rabbinate" permitted it.  First of all, there is no
*explicit* reference to the conservative "rabbinate".  Second, as I
noted, solid halachic authorities had already written that gelatin is
permissible.  Third, the source of the prohibition here is "the common
'knowledge' that gelatin is forbidden" - and there is place to deal with
the question here of "dvarim ha-mutarim ve-akherim nahagu bahem issur",
which is recognized as a halachically valid way of forbidding that which
might otherwise be permitted, independently of who it is who initiated
the prohibition.  Fourth, the misleading slogan "where there is a
rabbinic will there is a rabbinic way" has been promulgated in recent
years in orthodox circles, and is not necessarily a mark of conservative
approach - it is a mistaken and misleading oversimplification, whoever
says it.  Furthermore, Rabbi Avramsky did not state that "the practice
should not be permitted", but only that "in practice, permitting gelatin
must be done only after careful consideration" of the social
consequences.  If it "should not be permitted", it is not because the
conservatives permitted it, but because "common knowledge" of orthodox
jews has forbidden it.

I hesitated to discuss this on the list, because it touches a number of
problematic and sensitive issues, and particularly out of respect for
Rabbi Broyde's obvious preference not to open up the issue - he said
very little besides bringing the reference in Tzitz Eliezer.  However,
we live in times when Torah is out in the open for all to learn, and I
think it is generally better that way.  Furthermore, Rabbi Broyde has
written for us in the past with such great precision in quoting halachic
authorities, and has emphasized how very important it is to quote them
accurately - and I am in complete agreement with him on this - that it
seemed to me he would prefer to have an accurate picture painted than to
leave the issue in the dark, just to make a point not supported by the

David Mescheloff  


From: <krulwich@...> (Dov Krulwich)
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 16:28:57 -0500
Subject: Right wing vs. center

While it's easy for messages such as Chaim Shapiro's to lead to
bickering and machlokes, I think that it should actually serve as a
message to the various groups of Jews that are involved of at least one
person's experiences.

I passed Chaim's message on to a Rav in Chicago, Rav Avrohom Alter, and
he passed it on to at least one Rosh Yeshiva in town.  It is being
received as an indication of possible improvement, not as something to
argue with.  If this is indicative of how messages like this can be
received, maybe they should always be directed towards appropriate
Rabbonim instead of (or perhaps in addition to) being posted on MJ.

Kol tuv,

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 13:18:30 -0400
Subject: Why the Disparity--A solution to Chayim Shapiro's Problem

A number of MJ have dealt with the problem raised by Chayim that certain
ryders in cars ignored him possibly because he was dressed up as modern
orthodox.  "Why the disparity" and "What can be done about it"(MJ V

I have a very specific solution, which has the hascamah of Gedolay hador
and which seems to work. First I would like to note that Chayiim sees
his goals not as criminal but as educative.

Both Prero and Shapiro mention that the goal of the comments on the
riding incident was not to "vilify any segment of Orthodox Judaism" but
rather "I wanted people to start thinking about the
issue"(i.e. education vs criminalization).

By coincidence I saw just such an educative program for people in
Kollels at a recent fundraising event for an organization called Lev
Achim. This Israeli based organization has people in Kollels give up one
night a week of learning and going out into the community and helping
people: They might help people involved in "cults", or women
intermarried to Arabs, or non datiyim who aren't interested in
education.  As I mentioned this work received the hascamah of the
relevant yeshiva heads.

I of course should emphasize that the purpose of this outreach work is
NOT to help the Kollel people themselves but rather to help the people
they are helping (ones in cults, women intermarried to Arabs, non
datiyim etc.).  However after reading Chayiim's problem I suddenly
realized that the exposure of these Kollel people to ordinary people in
all walks of life MUST have a beneficial effect on the Kollel people
themselves. If such is the case then one component of a solution to the
"black hat -- modern orthodoxy" problem is a deliberate exposure (say
one day a week) to groups they are not used to.

I also have to make it clear that I agree with Chayiim that the person
who didn't give him a ride was not *mean* but rather *ignorant* of the
fact that Chayiim was as much a Jew as he is.  By analogy we many think
of the American business man who reacts at a sexual harassment seminar
"You mean that is harassment...I didn't know they minded"(in a similar
manner I think these black hats are shocked that Chayiim is as much a
Jew as they are). To clinch the analogy let me (requote) perhaps the
most famous black hat - modern orthodox confrontation (The story is well
known but not often connected with Chayiims problem).

The holy lamp, Rabbi Shimeon Bar Yochai left a cave after 12 years and
everywhere he went he cast his eyes and what he saw was consumed in fire
(because the world was not devoted to Torah but rather to mundane
items). A Divine Voice punished him with another year in the cave (for
being a black hat(?) and trying to destory a world which was not ultra
orthodox). After a year Rabbi Shimeon came out and saw a simple Jew
(=?modern orthodox) carrying 2 bundles of myrtles..  both for Shabbos,
one for Zachor and one for Shamor. Upon seeing this he stopped trying to
destroy the world and was freed of the cave.

 I think it reasonable to view this confrontation as an educative
process whereby Rabbi Shimeon learned that it was equally valuable
before God to study Mysticism in a cave (like he did...the black hat) or
to embellish Mitzvoth(like the simple jew=modern orthodoxy did).

I believe the above correctly identifies one component of the
solution. If so the next step is to convince the Rashay yeshivoth to
implement it by adovcating the type of Keyruv work done by organizations
like Lev Achim.

Russell Hendel, Ph.d., ASA, rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu


End of Volume 24 Issue 46