Volume 26 Number 63
                      Produced: Fri May 23  0:23:38 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administriva - Mazal Tov
         [Avi Feldblum]
Caps and Gowns
         [Percy Mett]
Chalav Yisrael
         [Lisa Halpern]
Goyishe Customs
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
Hagbah response
         [Nachum Kosofsky]
         [Tzvi Roszler]
Halachic practise and the Talmud
         [Daniel Eidensohn]
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
         [Shlomo Katz]
Shavuos Flowers
         [Yocheved Barenholtz]
Textual Vs Hands On Learning
         [Russell Hendel]
the Function of Semicha
         [David Riceman]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 00:19:54 -0400
Subject: Administriva - Mazal Tov

I would like to take this opportunity to wish David and Suzanne Riceman
a Mazal Tov on the birth of a baby boy. The bris was this past
Wednesday, may you be zocha legadlo letorah, lechupa ulemaasim tovim. We
all wish the best to you for him.

Avi Feldblum


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 14:12:30 +0000
Subject: re: Caps and Gowns

Shlomo Godick <shlomog@...> wrote:
>This reminds me of a fascinating news story I saw a couple of days ago.
>An orthodox Jew by the name of Joe Loebenstein became the first orthodox
>Jewish mayor of a diaspora city when he was recently elected mayor of
>Hackney, England.  Prior to the inauguration ceremony he had the
>ceremonial mayor's gown checked for shatnez, and the results were
>positive (shatnez was detected).  So he went through the inauguration
>without wearing the ceremonial gown!

There is an interesting twist to this story. Joe (who is a senior member
of London's Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations) and I were elected
to Hackney Council in 1968. Until then the council had been in the tight
grip of a very left-wing Labour Party. Inter alia they refused to use
the mayoral robes. When the Conservatives took control in 1968 they
revived the wearing of the mayoral robes. Since then the Conservatives
lost power but the their Labour opponents have become less left-wing and
they maintained the wearing of the robes for Council meetings. 
Councillor Joe Lobenstein has been leader of the (Conservative)
opposition group for a quarter of a century, and was elected mayor (by
the Labour majority party) as a token of the esteem in which he is
held. Thus the first Conservative mayor of Hackney in almost thirty
years is unable to wear the mayoral robes (because of shatnez). 
He was also recently given another local honour - the Freedom of the
Borough of Hackney. 

Perets Mett                             * Tel: +44 171 433 6112
The Open University, London             * Fax: +44 171 433 6196
and                                     * INTERNET: <P.Mett@...>
5 Golders Manor Drive, London NW11 9HU England                        


From: <ohayonlm@...> (Lisa Halpern)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 14:37:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Chalav Yisrael

Hello all,

For individuals who live outside of Eretz Yisrael and will eat milk
products only if they are "chlav yisrael", do they eat dairy products from
Israel that are not marked "chalav Yisrael"?  Are all dairy products from
Israel chalav yisrael, or do they require a special supervision (beyond
standard kashrut supervision)?  What are the range of opinions and
approaches on this practice? 
Thank you very much.
Lisa Halpern


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 97 22:56:31 PDT
Subject: Goyishe Customs

Since my last comment on the whole subject of "goyishe customs", or in
more technical terms the prohibition of "ubechukotaihem lo teleichu/you
shall not follow in their statutes" (Lev. 18:3), I have had the pleasure
to read a very important article on the subject by Dr. Tzvi Yaakov
Zimmels, "Inyan Hukot Hagoyim Beshu"t".  The article is found in _Sefer
Hayovel leRabbi Chanoch Albeck_.
  Zimmels claims that there are two approaches to the subject which are
attempts to deal with two talmudic sources on the subject.  The first
source is Sanhedrin 52b where it is stated that it is permitted to
perform the same action as a non-Jew if it is also explicitly permitted
in the Torah.  Two examples given are beheading by sword (Deut. 12:30)
and burning incense when a king dies (Jeremiah 34:5).
  The second source is Avodah Zarah 11a where it states that the reason
that it is permissible to burn incense when a king dies is that there is
a comprehensible reason behind it and it is not an arbitrary act of idol
  The two approaches are that of the Tosafot and the Ran.  According to
the Tosafot (ad. loc.) when something is done for the sake of idol
worship even if it is written in the Torah it is forbidden, while if
something is baseless (hevel, shtut) or is not specifically for the sake
of idol worship it is permitted.  According to the Ran (ad. loc.) the
most important thing is that there is meaning behind the action
(hashivuta) and even if something is not written specifically in the
Torah and non-Jews do it, if there is meaning behind the action
(hashivuta) it is permitted.

In my opinion it is clear that a moment of silence would be permissible
according to both approaches.  It is not a specific act of idol worship
rather a way of showing respect to the dead and wouldn't be prohibited
according to the Tosafot and definitely wouldn't be prohibited according
to the Ran since there is a meaning behind the act.  While there were
many things which were prohibited in exile because of our desire to
differentiate between the Jews and the non-Jews I don't think that those
living in Israel should necessarily act in the same manner.

Name: Michael Menahem Pitkowsky
E-mail: <pitab@...>


From: <kosofsky@...> (Nachum Kosofsky)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 23:39:48 EDT
Subject: Re: Hagbah response

In Vol. 26 #61, Russell Hendel offered a possible reason for the custom
of pointing to the Sefer Torah during hagbah.  He wrote:

>The midrash (homiletic literature) states that in the future world the
>righteous will form a circle around the Divine Presence (who will be in
>the center) and dance and point and say the verse: "..This is My G-d and
>I will make pleasant with Him(Ex15:2)"
>The pointing of the finger is derived from the use of the word
>It would follow that the Hagbah is an acting out of this reward in the
>future world: The Torah symbolizes the Divine Presence and the
>congregants symbolize the righteous.

I am aware of the gemora at the end of Taanis (31a) which brings episode
that you refer to.  The gemora, however, brings a different pasuk at the
end:  "And it shall be said on that day, Behold, this is our G-d.  We
have waited for Him, that He should save us.  This is Hashem.  We have
waited for him.  We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."  (Isaiah

If this is, in fact, a possible source for the minhag under discussion,
then why the little finger?  The gemora refers to the generic "etzba"
which regularly means the index finger, not the little finger.

Nachum Kosofsky


From: <TzviR@...> (Tzvi Roszler)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:35:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Hagbe

Speaking of various minhagim for Hagbe, Gelileh, I was wondering whether
the same rules apply to the above as not to give a father and son Hagbeh
Gelilah together as is the minhag of not giving consecutive Aliyahs the
reason which is Ayin Horah?

Tzvi Roszler 


From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 12:22:06 -0700
Subject: Halachic practise and the Talmud

Mechy Frankel brought up an interesting issue is his recent posting.
> Since one supposes it beyond the fantasies of
>even the most zealous of (current anyway) Litvaks that all Chassidishe
>rebbes were unaware of such literary sources, what then could possibly
>have been in their minds to ignore such apparent uniform consensus?

Does anyone know of other cases where the currently accepted halacha of
a major orthodox community is _apparently_ inconsistent with the
conclusion of the Gemora? I am particularly intestested in whether any
major talmid chachom has any published material on this issue.

				Daniel Eidensohn

[See Daniel Sperper's Minhagei Yisrael for well documented and
researched examples. I'm currently reading through volume 2, and he has
a group discussed there where there are some custom's based on the
Tzavah of Rav Yehuda HaChasid (I think) became widespread minhagim and
they violate the conclusion of the Gemora. I'll try and summarize some
of the material, if others on the list who may know the work better do
not in the next few days. Mod.]


From: Shlomo Katz <skatz@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 13:47:28 -0400
Subject: Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Does anybody know why, in the Gemara, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is
called by his full name in Aggadata sections, but only Rabbi Shimon
(for short) in Halachah sections?


From: <babybarons@...> (Yocheved Barenholtz)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:33:42 -0400
Subject: Shavuos Flowers

Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim 494:3 mentions the minhag to spread
"asuhvim", grasses/greenery, inside on Shavuos.  The common explanation
I've heard for this is that it is to commemorate the growth of greenery
on Har Sinai, a mountain in the desert, prior to Matan Torah.  I have
observed that many people make a point of buying flowers for Shavuos,
which would not seem to serve this purpose, as there is no mention that
I've seen of flowers growing on Har Sinai.  Any comments?



From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 20:01:31 -0400
Subject: Textual Vs Hands On Learning

I would like to thank Stan Tenen for bringing up the issue of how we
learn(Vol 26n55)

Allow me to make two small points.

1) A beautiful textual support for Stan's thesis that "textual learning
without hands on experience is of inferior quality" is in fact one of
the themes of Rambams introduction to his mishnaic commentary on the
order of "Holy Things(ie Sacrifices)".
 In fact the Rambam remarkably and explicitly states what Stan says:

"..But today we have no temple PRACTICE. And therefore even the greatest
scholars and the heads of Yeshivas are deficient in understanding of
Talmudic passages on sacrifices because there are no hands on experience
to reinforce the texts."

2) I think Stan's statement:
	>> not even Moshe (Rabaynu) if he lived today could remember it all>>
 is a little harsh. First of all the Talmud explicitly states that Moses
saw every novelty of every student in Jewish History. But I would like
to use a different angle: Namely besides TEXTUAL and HANDS ON EXPERIENCE
there is a third approach to learning: CONCEPTUAL LEARNING.

Let me give an analogy from mathematics: A student who knows how to
derive formulae is obviously better able to memorize them then a person
who just memorizes them.  Furthermore, the CONCEPTUAL learner will
RETAIN the information longer.

Throughout Jewish History pure textual learning of laws and regulations
(Mishnah) has always been accompanied by the ability to conceptually
derive these laws from underlying or unifying principles (Talmud: See
e.g. Rambam: Laws of Learning: 1:11)

In conclusion I believe Moses would be able to "remember it all"
today---but I don't believe that Moshe Rabaynu had a better memory than
me or Stan---rather I believe that he had a better conceptual framework
by which to derive and understand laws.

I think hands on experience is important for the continuity of Jewish
Learning. But I also think that the intensive learning of Midrash
Halachah (the derivation of legal minutae from Biblical nuances is
equally important)

I hope that what Stan and I have said increases peoples ability to learn
and retain.

Russell Jay Hendel; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu 


From: <dr@...> (David Riceman)
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 11:00:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: the Function of Semicha

  This is a somewhat confused answer, based solely on memory, because
I've had a rather hectic week-and-a-half.  The most enlightening
discussion I recall on this subject is a response of the Rivash.
  The gemara says that two types of people destroy the world: those who
are moreh horaa (explained below) when they are incompetent, and those
who refrain from doing so when they are competent.  There are, however,
caveats.  Even a competent person may not be moreh horaah if he's under
forty (with certain unusual exceptions), in the presence of his teacher
(without explicit permission), or in the presence of a greater scholar
(with lots of exceptions).  Presence means a distance of around 10
miles, so these are non-trivial conditions.
  Semicha is (a) a certification by your teachers that you are
competent, and (b) permission by your teachers to be moreh horaah in
some version of their presence.  This is commonly called yoreh yoreh.
  Yadin yadin is a different concept.  The reish galuta in bavel (and
the moral equivalent in eretz yisrael) had the authority to appoint
judges (whether through the permission of the gentile rulers or through
some purely halachic mechanism is a machlokes rishonim).  Yadin yadin is
the delegation of the authority to judge (there are lots of details I'm
too lazy to go into).
  In principle a person can neither be moreh horaah nor judge unless he
knows the entire corpus of halacha; that principle is almost universally
  Being moreh horaah refers specifically to deciding which halacha is
applicable to a particular circumstance.  There's a machlokes rishonim
whether codifying a law has any halachic significance, but it is
certainly not the same as being moreh horaah. So that Rabbi Kagan, when
he wrote the Mishna Berurah (and several other of his books) was not
being moreh horaah.  The rabbi who, when asked a particular sheilah,
read out the answer straight from the Mishna Berurah, was.
  I hope this helps.

David Riceman (still under forty)


End of Volume 26 Issue 63