Volume 25 Number 02
                       Produced: Thu Sep 26 23:08:46 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Jewish vs Non Jewish souls---A halachic Contribution
         [Yrachmiel Tilles]
         [Jacob Levenstein]
Yin Yangs, Child raising, and Talmudic Distinctions
         [Russell Hendel]


From: <ascent@...> (Yrachmiel Tilles)
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 1996 16:44:41 +0300
Subject: Re: Jewish vs Non Jewish souls---A halachic Contribution

I found Russell Hendel's attack (m-j 24:87) on some of the responses to my
original post (m-j 24:79) somewhat strange and disturbing.  

>Several recent postings in Vol24 # 80 discuss the possible difference
>between Jewish and non Jewish souls.  I would like to supplement the
>discussion by quoting what the Rav Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchick said
>on the matter.

> ,,, the Rav responded by quoting Genesis 1 and noting that *all* humans 
> are created in Gods image. However continued, the Rav, there is a difference 
> between them. The Rav explained that Jews have KEDUSHAH while non Jews don't.

A good, relevant point.  

>In terms of the Mail Jewish discussion I would like to make 3 points:
> 1) If both Jews and Non Jews are created in Gods image then it doesn't
>seem to make much sense to say that one soul has "more Divine image" than
>the other.

Irrelevant.  No one asked about more or less divine image.  The question was
about difference, not about relative worth.

> 2) Alot of the sources quoted in MJ were from the mystical
>literature. The Rambam rightly prohibits reading mysticism till one is
>well versed in halacha and halachic methodology.  The reason the Rambam
>gives is because "otherwise, the mysticism will be misinterpreted".

ad hominem (sp?) argument.  Address the validity of the statements.  Nor
does the Rambam require your hechsher -"rightly" - or is that to express
contrast to other statements of the Rambam of which you do not approve. (by
the way, if someone studies Rambam by starting with the first four chapters
of Mishna Torah, does he violate (your interpretation of) the Rambam's
prohibition? Perhaps.  Of course, the Rambam did not say "reading", he said
"learning," a big difference. )

>In this particular case, people who *ignore* a Biblical verse stating
>that all humans are created in Gods image and follow some obscure
>mystical passage are grossly misinterpreting the mysticism and erasing a
>fundamental concept of Judaism (the divinity of all people).

Irrelevant.  And quite condescending. No one is "ignoring" the verse or its
implications (except perhaps at that shiur of the Rav's you referred to...).
Not, by the way, that it is clear from your post that what the Rav had in
mind by "created in G-s's image" is what you seem to be attributing to it.
Certainly not all the non-mystical classic chumash commentaries agree with you..

>3) The idea suggested by the Rav that Jews have more Kedusha is totally
>consistent with MJ suggestions that one has to "work" = do Torah and
>Mitzvoth, to achieve this status of Kedusha (albeit there is still a
>little Kedusha even if one doesn't work since the offspring of a Jewish
>women have jewish status even if unfortunately no Mitzvoth are done).

If G-d created Jews and non-Jews exactly the same, with equal innate soul
powers, why does he not expect or even allow non-Jews to fulfill the
potential of their souls _as non-Jews_ by attaining kedusha equal to that of
Jews by also doing the 613 mitzvot?  If they are identically capable, why
should they be deprived--punished, as it were--by being denied the
opportunity and the rewards--kedushah in this life, bliss in the afterlife?
It does not seem fair, and G-d's justice must be perfect.

And aren't you embarrassed to say that there are Jews that do no mitzvot.
"Even the least of Jews is as full of mitzvot as a pomengranate is of pips"
- Midrash Song of Songs.  It may not be work, but not harnessing a ox and a
horse together, not sleeping with step-parents,  etc etc etc are all mitzvot.
Who "consistent with MJ suggestions" invented the work criterion?  Perhaps
more kedusha attaches itself to mitzvot done with work, but perhaps not.
Perhaps pure intentions are more important.  How do *you* know?  Rebbe says
you don't (and I don't mean Chassidic Rebbe or Kabbalah Rebbe, see Avot 2:1).

And who are you to decide that there is only a "little" kedusha to a Jew at
birth?  And where does it come from anyway?--certainly not from his "divine
image" according to you, because according to you in that detail he is
identical to a non-Jew.  Either there is an innate spiritual difference or
there isn't.  Decide!  (by the way, to answer this point would be, finally,
to begin to address the original question).To declare that kedushah must be
earned and then grudging grant its presence at birth, in whatever measure,
is equivocation.  Even worse, your concession may serve to throw you
together with the misguided perusers of mystical texts.

Shalom and Blessings from the holy city of Tsfat.
May you  and yours be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year (for a
really great blessing, stay tuned for the forthcoming issue of Ascent

Yrachmiel Tilles
ASCENT Seminars
PO Box 296        |    e-mail: <ascent@...> (YT)
13102 Tsfat       |    tel: 06-921364, 971407 (home: 972056)
ISRAEL            |    fax: 972-6-921942 (attn. Y.Tilles)


From: Jacob Levenstein <levenstein@...>
Date: Sun, 08 Sep 1996 23:58:42 -0700
Subject: Re: Socializing

I am replying to Moshe Freedenberg's letter regarding socializing. I
understand the point that a woman has many roles in a family, and that a
person is the sum of their roles. However, in the community that I am
familiar with, which is referred to as the "ultra-orthodox" community, I
have been privy to various discussions as to the singular role a woman
has in society, this role being mother and homemaker. I am not
suggesting that there is anything wrong with this role-raising a good
home in Am Yisrael is a very difficult task which deserves a lot of
respect. But it seems a shame that these young Yeshiva boys cannot
appreciate women for the other roles that they can and do play,
including those outside of the home.
	About the quote from Pirkei Avot-I do realize that it sounded
like I was criticizing Chazal and I would like to clarify that that is
not what I intended. As you pointed out, I am aeons away from their
level of knowledge. My intention was to show the misinterpratation that
exists in the "ultra-orthodox" world of this and many other such
quotes. I have found from discussions with boys from this community that
they are taught that this quote and others of its kind prove the point
that a woman's place is in the homes, for they can only cause upheaval
outside of those boundaries. Also, you pointed out that Pirkei Avot are
guidelines that Chazal have set out for us, and that is exactly what it
is-guidelines. It is not Halacha, and therefore is not telling us what
we must do, but what is recommended.
	Another point that was made was that Chareidi men are not afraid
of girls. They may not be afraid of girls, but my experience is that
they feel uncomfortable around them. Tension between the sexes is not a
bad thing, but when it leads to disrespect and an attitude of "my point
in life is more important than yours," I cannot help but think that that
is a bad thing.
	It was also pointed out that Chareidim regard their relationship
with girls in the context of Torah. This would make sense, since a large
portion of Chareidi men spend many hours learning Torah, and I would
hope that they apply this to their lives. However, when the Torah is
learned in a way that is derogatory to women, then they are relating to
girls in the context of Torah in a negative way. "Ultra-Orthodox" men,
from my experience, learn to appreciate only one aspect of women. That
is not so bad in their community, where many of the women view
themselves in the same light. There are other Jewish communities where
this is not acceptable to the men or the women. You call these
communities "modern" and explain modern as meaning: "incorporating ideas
from their current residence in golus into their behavior to better fit
in to the society around them." As a Jew living in Israel, this doesn't
apply to me, since I am not in Galut (although I am in the Golah), and
everyone around me is Jewish, and I have no need to fit into a gentile
society. Yet in my community, which I would dare to say is as orthodox
as the "Chareidim," (For people who don't know the translation of
"Chareidi", it means to fear, as in being G-d fearing. I find it
offensive that there is one group of orthodox Jews that see themselves
as more G-d fearing than the next. I do not think that a person's fear
of G-d can be based on mode of dress, or women's status, since in
communities that are not considered "Chareidi," they are livin totally
within the context of Halacha and the Torah. I consider myself to be
"Chareidi," even though the men in my community do not only clothe
themselves in black.) the women learn Torah She'ba'al Peh, go on to
higher institutions of learning in religious and secular studies, and
participate in the world beyond the home. None of this is against
halacha-obviously it is against many opinions, but it is also within the
context of others. "Modern" does not suggest irreligious.
	It was suggested that Bnei Akiva is generally associated with
the "Modern Orthodox" hashkafa. That may be so in Chutz La'aretz, but in
Israel Bnei Akiva is a very religious (I would even say "Chareidi"-not
in the meaning that is generally understood, but the participants are
definitely G-d fearing) organization which is espoused by many great
Rabbis and produces the finest young men and women of Israel. The men go
on to defend the millions of people living in Israel, while at the same
time continuing their Torah studies in Yeshivot. The women spend one or
more years volunteering their time for the good of the country in many
hospitals and other such institutions. Bnei Akiva is run entirely within
the context of orthodox halacha and instills in these people the values
that are needed for a Jew living in Eretz Yisrael.
	"Ultra-Orthodox" Jews will, of course, disagree with most of
what I have written, but I would like to stress the point that my
community lives within the context of halacha, and is therefore no less
religious than they are. This can be attributed to the diversity of the
Jewish religion. My hope is that Jewish people will find it in
themselves to accept this diversity, instead of rejecting it.


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 11:56:35 -0400
Subject: Yin Yangs, Child raising, and Talmudic Distinctions

The recent question by Gerver, Vol24 # 94 really raises two issues: (1)
The halachic one: Can children wear face paint and Yin Yang jewelry (I
am sure MJ halachic scholars will respond adequately to that), and (2)
The Child raising issue: how do you answer (if at all) a child who when
told not to wear Yin Yangs for idolatry responds >>But I and my friends
don't use it for idolatry,we think it pretty>>

It seems to me, that whenever addressing a halachic issue one should
also deal with the emotions of the person asking the question. This
itself creates the challenge of how one communicates to children the
various types of distinctions involved. When I have dealt with such
situations I have found it helpful to utilize familiar situations from
the childs life.

Here are some sample dialogues that might shed light on the problem:

asked his daughter why her room wasn't spotless without e.g. any toys on
the floor.  She might respond that it is only when guests and specials
relatives come that her room has to be spotless (otherwise it just has
to be relatively clean).  Thus in this situation the *reason* for the
law determines if it will apply in a new situation.

PROHIBITIONS OF GREAT RISK: Suppose however a father told his daughter
not to cross the street because she might get hit by a car.  *Even* if
the child responded, "But Im going to to try avoid getting hit by a car"
the father could still respond that the risk is to great and she should
not cross the street.  Thus in this situation the *reason* for the law
does not alter its applicability in new situations.

PROHIBITIONS OF GREAT DISGUST: Similarly, if say a lollipop fell into a
toilet with fresh water, which had been carefully cleaned and the father
took it out the daughter would probably not want to eat that lollipop
even if tests showed no bacteria in the toilet.  The reason the daughter
would give is that the toilet is too disgusting and one should not eat
there.  Thus in this situation the reason for the prohbition (absence of
bacteria) would not alter the applicability of the law because of the
presence of the disgustingness of the situation.

Using these simple examples a father can explain to her daughter that
idolatry is either too big a risk or too disgusting and therefore if the
Yin Yang should turn out to be idolatrous it would be prohibited.

One can give further illustrations of the "disgustingness" of idolatry
which the child could understand.  For example if a drop of milk fell
into a fleishich dish there are various laws of majority under which the
milk might be nullified.  However if a bread crumb fell in on Pesach
there would be no nullification.  A similar stringency would apply to
idolatrous objects. One can also mention the laws of "overlays" of
idolatrous objects which are prohibited.

I believe these examples can be fruitfully used to deal with the
emotions of the child who may perceive the laws as slightly arbitrary.

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


End of Volume 25 Issue 2