Volume 26 Number 11
                      Produced: Sun Mar 16 16:05:42 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Basherete vs Bechira
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Cloning in Halacha
         [Michael J Broyde]
Fast of Esther
         [Reuven Miller]
Four non-kosher animals
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Halachic sources on lesbian behavior
Honor System
         [Shlomo Godick]
Targum Onqelos to lo tevashel gedi
         [Alan Cooper]
The Female Chat Enactment of the Great Assembly
         [Russell Hendel]
Three Steps Forward
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
Why Hebrew was Preserved for 4000 Years
         [Mark J. Feldman]


From: Chaim Shapiro <ucshapir@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 1997 10:20:54 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Basherete vs Bechira

	Two concepts, each taught at a very young age.  We all have our
basherete predestined from before birth.  It is our job to find that
individual, to make ourselves whole once again.
	G-d preditermines much about an individual, his appearance, the
amount of money he will make, but he and he alone has the bechira to
determine if he will be good or bad, live a life of torah or depravity.
	Two important concepts that illustrate G-d's love and concern
for Kalal Yisroel.  But, what if these concepts are in direct conflict?
	 Usually an individual marries someone similar to himself, they
may share many likes and dislikes, have compatible personalities, etc.
Just as important is having similar and compatible beliefs.  It is rare
for a frum jew to marry an individual who has decided to live a life
contrary to torah.
	herein lies the question.  If an individual chooses the path he
follows, and assuming that normally (and I am not claiming always)
individuals marry partners who are similar in haskafa and observance,
how can a partner really be predestined?  What is to prevent a
predestined couple from taking two distinct paths in life?  What if one
is frum while the other chooses to use his bechira to lead an immoral
	At first I assumed this question was similar to that raised by
the Rambam and other Meforshim, if G-d has foreknowledge, how does any
bechira exist.  G-d knows where a person and his zivug will be when they
reach marriagable. Perhaps the predestination of a mate takes that into
consideration.  But, upon further contemplation, I beleive there is a
slight distinction.  There is a diffrence between G-d knowing I (am or)
will do X and G-d knowing that I am X and THEREFORE I will do Y.  In
other words it is different saying that G-d knows I will lead a life of
torah, than saying G-d knows Iwill lead a life of torah and therefore I
will marry an individual who does the same.


From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 11:13:13 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Cloning in Halacha

Has anyone encountered any articles dealing with cloning and halacha, and
does anyone have any thoughts on this topic.  If I could suggest a
framework of three issue: (1) Is cloning mutar, assur, mitzvah; (2) Who is
the father/mother/brother/child of this relationship? (3) How does halacha
respond to the ethical slippry slope arguments?

Michael J. Broyde
Emory University School of Law
Atlanta, GA 30322
Voice: 404 727-7546; Fax 404 727-3374


From: <millerr@...> (Reuven Miller)
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 11:21:25 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Fast of Esther

The Mishna Brura states that the reason for taanit Esther is _not_ the 3
day fast of Esther and the Jewish people on Nissan before Purim but rather
the fast of the people during the fighting on 13 of Adar.
The Tora Temima, the Aruch HaShulchan, Sefer HaTodaah disagree and say it
_is_ to commemorate the 3 day fast of Esther. The source of the Mishneh
Brurah is the Tur. What is the source for Torah Temima and others?

|  Reuven Miller                        |
|  E-mail: <millerr@...>   |


From: <mshalom@...> (Saul Mashbaum)
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 12:53:16 GMT-2
Subject: Four non-kosher animals

I don't have anything to add to the recent halachic and biologic
discussion of the four non-kosher animals listed in the Torah, but it's
interesting to note the symbolic significance of these animals according
to the midrash (Vayikra Rabba 13:5).

The four non-kosher animals listed in the Torah represent the four
nations which have dominated and subjugated the Jews since their entry
into Israel - Babylonia, Persia/Medea, Greece, and Rome. All nations
which have subsequently dominated the Jews are considered continuations
of Rome.

The Klei Yakar to Yayikra 11:3 explains how this midrash is grounded in
the text of the Torah's description of the four animals.

The midrash notes that although in Vayikra each animal is cited in a
separate verse, in Dvarim three animals are mentioned in a single verse,
and the chazir (which represents Rome) is mentioned in a separate verse.
This symbolizes the fact that Rome's subjugation of the Jews is as cruel
and oppressive as all the other subjugations combined (or even more so).

The midrash relates several other biblical passages to these four
nations, and makes many interesting comments about them and their
relationship to the Jews. I think many MJ readers would find this
section of the midrash very enlightening, and highly recommend looking
it up. For obvious reasons, this midrash has been subject to intensive
scrutiny by censors, and not all editions of the midrash have all the

In conclusion of this passage, the midrash says that the first 3 nations
were each followed by another nation (maaleh gera = gorer, each one
dragged in another one), but the fourth one will not (lo yigor). The
coming redemption will be the final one, may it be speedily in our days.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 15:15:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Halachic sources on lesbian behavior

I have been following a discussion elsewhere with someone (not a
disinterested party) who is trying to make out a case that you can't say
that the sources actually forbid lesbian sexual behavior (as distinct
from an orientation).  She feels pretty strongly about this.  She quotes
a bunch of stuff and then concludes that the behavior is okay since it's
not actually forbidden. (Reminds me of those (secular) college bull
sessions where people would argue that "it doesn't say anywhere in the
Bible that you can't... whatever".)

Can anyone point me to some definitive sources to use in this


From: Shlomo Godick <shlomog@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 17:03:59 -0800
Subject: Honor System

Shoshana L. Boubli wrote:

> In Israel in most Ulpanot and many religious girl highschools we use the
> honor system with nearly 100% success rate 

I was under the impression that at least certain forms of the "honor
system" are halachically problematic, such as the requirement to
report a cheater to the authorities.  What are the rules of the 
the honor system you mentioned, and were they "cleared" with
a halachic authority? 

Kol tuv,
Shlomo Godick
Rechasim, Israel


From: Alan Cooper <amcooper@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 10:50:01 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Targum Onqelos to lo tevashel gedi

Reuven Miller <millerr@...> writes:

>The Targum Onkelos translates "lo tavashel gdi..." (do not cook the ...)
>in the three times it appears in the Torah as "lo tochloon" (do not
>eat).  The Talmud teaches that "lo tavashel gdi..." means do not cook
>meat and milk together,do not eat and do not have benefit from that
>which was cooked together. Why does the Targum _only_ translate "do not
>eat"? I would expect either a literal translation of do not cook or a
>different translation(do not cook,do not eat, do not benefit) on each of
>the three times that this verse appears in the Torah.  I ask this
>question three times a year for a number of years. Can anyone help me?

The whole Onqelos rendering is "Don't eat meat with/in milk," which is more
of a recasting than a "translation" of the clause.  Shada"l classifies this
as a case in which Onqelos has translated "in the interest of the Oral
Torah and rabbinic interpretation" (Ohev ger, pp. 9-10, paragraph 16).  In
the present case, he states, "Onqelos wisely translated so as not to
provide an am ha-arets with an occasion to distinguish between a kid and
other animals, or to say that eating without cooking might be permissible.
He did not translate the word 'tevashel' because if eating is forbidden,
there is no point in cooking.  If he were to mention 'eating, benefiting,
and cooking,' he would be deviating from his translation principles (haya
yotse mi-kelal metargem)."

The last point seems a bit shaky: once you're already paraphrasing, why not
paraphrase in accordance with the "standard" rabbinic interpretation (i.e.,
as Reuven correctly states, lo tevashel refers to bishul, akhila, and
hana'a, respectively, in its three occurrences)?  Well, maybe it *wasn't*
standard for Onqelos.  The Nefesh ha-ger of M. Loewenstein (p. 65) suggests
that Onqelos was following another opinion, namely that the three
occurrences of lo tevashel refer to three different kinds of animals
(Horowitz/Rabin Mekhilta, p. 336), in which case the consistent translation
of lo tevashel as "do not eat" would be appropriate in view of Shada"l's
general principle.

Alan Cooper


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 22:38:49 -0500
Subject: The Female Chat Enactment of the Great Assembly

Several local newspapers last Friday had a headline "RAPE" which focused
on a daytime classroom rape of a high school girl.  The newspaper
discussed "precautionary measures" which had already been taken among
which were use of the buddy system when going to the bathroom.

I immediately recalled the Chat Amendment made by the Prophet-Sages of
the so called Great Assembly of Ezra the Scribe, the second greatest
assemblage of Jewish minds in human history.  Under this amendment women
are asked to chat in the bathroom with each other so that possible
molestors will infer that they are not alone. This rabbinical enactment
IS a law and brought down in authoratative Jewish Lawbooks.

The reason I bring this up is because of the reaction I have received
when discussing this inocuous law with people: For example, "Why should
I have to chat to prevent "him" from molesting me," a common "I-him"
criticism made by many feminists.

The point I am trying to clarify is that many Jewish laws have known
reasons which are sound and accomplish their goal without much
inconvenience and yet we are too ready to criticize them in a myriad of
ways---does everyone hold that way? Is the reason reflective of Chazal's
time? Is there a hint that someone is second class?...

What struck me (and hurt me) here is that the school principle and
teachers thought of this enactment by themselves to help the frightened
girls.  The law works! It is not an inconvenience for girls to chat! It
does ward off molestors! The law is simple!  The law does not warrant
any criticism.

I am simply suggesting that we should have a more positive attitude to
many rabbinical enactments, be "eager" to fulfill them and be "proud"
that we had legislative minds that could think like that.

Any reactions?  Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d,ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu 


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 21:36:41 -0800
Subject: Three Steps Forward

The ArtScroll Siddur commenting on the practice of taking three steps
forward before Shimone Esrei says, it relates to Moshe going through
three on Sinai.  In the Hebrew Sefard edition they explain that it
refers to Choshech, Anan and Araphel.  The quote is attributed to the
Rokeach.  Two questions: 1) what is the significance of the three levels
and 2) can anyone find the source of the quote. In the edition of the
Rokeach that I saw a different reason was quoted.  I do know of a source
called the Nehorah Shalem from Rabbenu Aharon Levi printed in the Siddur
Derech HaChaim Avodas Yisroel editied by Rabbi Shlomo Gansfried.


From: Mark J. Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 13:06:57 -0500
Subject: Why Hebrew was Preserved for 4000 Years

Russel Hendel (vol 26 n9) writes:
>> Arnold Kuzmack (Vol 26 n8) writes that the reason we can read Hebrew
>> today is because the normal process of linguistic change was
>> intrerrupted by two millenia during which it was not much used as
>> language of daily life
>First of all: The High Holy day literature is filled with Poems not
>readily understood by people fluent in Hebrew.  Similary the responsa
>and post Talmudic literature are not readily understood by people fluent
>in Hebrew. So Arnold's claim that Hebrew was not much used is not
>completely accurate. It WAS used and was used differently!
>The real point, is that although the language changed, nevertheless, we
>weekly read the Torah and Haftorah's and preserved the original Hebrew.
>In other words, it was the process of education that preserved the
>original Hebrew ALONGSIDE a growing and changing language.  >>

I disagree.  Because Hebrew was not a SPOKEN language for two thousand
years, it did not evolve the way spoken language evolves.  American
schoolchildren have read Shakespeare for generations ("alongside"
idiomatic English) and nonetheless that work is not easily understood by
the average American.

The example regarding Medieval Hebrew is no proof: while Medieval Hebrew
is not easy to understand, it was not a spoken language at the time and
subsequent generations read the Torah more than they read the Medieval
poems.  This should be associated with Hebrew's existence as a written
language rather than a spoken language.

Lastly, when Ben Yehuda (et. al.) started using Hebrew as a spoken
language, he favored Biblical Hebrew over Mishnaic Hebrew.

I believe that the real test is whether the average non-religious
Israeli will be able to read the Torah in five hundred years.
(Religious Jews will of course be able to read the Torah, but that is no
different from their ability to read the Talmud today.)  Given the way
most languages develop, I would be surprised if he will.

Kol Tuv,


End of Volume 26 Issue 11