Volume 26 Number 92
                      Produced: Sun Aug  3 19:02:31 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Haym Soloveitchik's thesis
         [Chana Luntz]
R Dr Haym Soloveitchik's Article
         [Richard K. Fiedler]
Terror bombing and the 3 weeks
         [Elanit Rothschild]


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997 20:05:52 +0100
Subject: Haym Soloveitchik's thesis

In message <199707311145.HAA13950@...>, Harry Maryles <C-
<Maryles@...> writes:

>In response to a critique by Dr. Chavel, Hayim Soloveitchik (in the most 
>recent edition Y.U.'s Torah Umadda Journal) tries to defend and explain 
>his thesis on the reason there has been a rightward swing and a 
>concentration on chumros through the medium of the printed word as 
>expressed in books such as the mishna berurah.

One thing that completely fascinates me about this latest response of R'
Dr Haym is the statement:

"What struck me was that while there were new humrot in what was
admissible into the kitchen (ie the new products of food technology)
there were no humrot in the actual running of the kitchen.  The laws of
milk and meat (basar b'chalav) as practiced by the traditional Jewish
housewife (yidishe baleboste) still held sway."


Do people out there think this is true?  My instinctive reaction, I have
to confess, is to disagree.  For example - how about the fact that
increasing numbers of housewives seem to soak vegetables in vinegar
(part of the bug scare), or do without (while checking lettuce etc was
good enough for my great-grandmother, and my guess is, good enough for
everybody else's on this list)?  How about - well somebody told me that
in certain households she had heard that the women were taking down the
hems of all items of clothing and then restitching them up as part of
the search for chametz (pesach may not be a good example, it has long
been recognised that what the yidishe baleboste did and does was way
beyond the halacha).  How about the chumrot that have come by way of
affluence? (if one can afford to have a big enough kitchen for two
milchic, two fleshig and a pareve sink, set in completely different and
isolated tables, one increasingly does so - and it is getting to the
point where people find the idea that one might use two different
plastic basins on top of two separate gratings alternating in one sink
highly problematic - don't let us talk about the two different gratings
that Rav Moshe Ok's in his teshuva).  And I came upon somebody in the
keli mikva in Australia, tovelling plastic tupperware (I asked them,
actually, and was told that there were some opinions that held that one
should, without a brocha.  I haven't started tovelling plastic, but I
could easily see something like that spreading like wildfire).

The funny thing about the kitchen though, is not so much that their are
new chumras, but that a return to text may actually lead to kullas.  I
remember very clearly taking a class on bishul on shabbas - and I
remember pointing out to the Rebbe in question that what he was saying
was all very well, but I doubted that anybody I knew would eat in my
house if I did what he said. - And I once had something of an argument
with a guy I was dating (with smicha) - because he said that it wasn't
necessary to have two dish drainers (ie where you put the dishes once
they are washed so that they can dry)- one would do nicely and there was
no possible halachic risk.  And I said that he might have been right
textually (he was the one with smicha, not me), but I didn't know
anybody who had only one dish drainer - and I wasn't about to embark
upon such a dubious practice in my kitchen  - I also suggested to him,
since he regarded himself as something of a feminist, that maybe by this
attitude he was undermining the female contribution to halacha.  Come to
think of it, maybe I somewhat pre-empted R' Dr Haym in this debate (ie
text versus mimetic tradition), although certainly not his father, who
most definitely drew the distinction between halacha as she is lived,
and halacha as he is learnt.

But this does very much raise the question as to where women are in all
this?  R' Dr Haym clearly sees them as being, to an extent, less
involved in this more modern mindset (the kitchen is the place where
women retain most held control), perhaps even the last hold outs - but
it is not fully clear to me to what extent he feels that women play a
part in this rupture and reconstruction (despite the fact that the Beis
Yaakov movement must be considered the most clear cut illustration of
the movement away from a mimetic society).

I am even less certain about what part Dr Chavel feels women have played
- given that most of the discussion centers on the influence coming from
the yeshivos, and the Roshe Yeshivos - although the discussion about the
retelling of the lives of gedolim made me wonder what percentage of the
readership of such books are in fact women (I certainly would expect the
bulk of the readership of a magazine such as the Jewish Observer to be

To close, I would like to tell you a story - it is the story of a women
who just got married, and she cooked a chicken for her new husband for
the first time.  And in preparing the chicken, she cut off a part - and
the husband asked her why she had done so.  And she said that her mother
had always done so, and it was necessary to make it kosher.  Now the
husband had never heard of such a thing, so he went and asked the mother
- and the mother said that her mother had always done so and it was
necessary to make it kosher.  Now luckily the grandmother was still
alive, and the husband went to ask her - and the grandmother laughed,
and said that when she had first been married, her pot had been too
small to take a full chicken, so she had cut off a piece to make it fit.  

Clearly the moral of this story is that one cannot rely on the mimetic
tradition.  But this story is interesting.  Because it is a story told
to me by my mother, who was herself told it by her mother.  And as my
grandmother never herself had a Jewish education out of the home, she
most likely heard that story from her mother.

And I am still wondering what that means.



From: Richard K. Fiedler <dfiedler@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 07:35:45 -0500
Subject: R Dr Haym Soloveitchik's Article

Chana Luntz comments:

"Because people are finite, and the situations we can find ourselves in
can be infinite, and can occur at any of the stages of our lives - and
thus even if we all go on to be great gadolim in our old age - we could
all have been just over bar or bas mitzvah when we find themselves faced
with a flying fish, and no one around to ask, and a split second
decision to make."

And she expresses the hope that "G-d will understand" or "G-d understands"
as she concludes.

I think the problem is much greater than our finiteness and the infinite
situations we can find ourselves in. The text is not definitive!

For example let us say there is an island with two houses on it. In one
house lives Mr. Grumpy old Goy. In the other house Moshe Ex-Kollel-Nik is
house sitting.

One Shabbat Moshe Ex-Kollel-Nik is walking on the beach and hears from
out in the surf Mr. Grumpy old Goy calling for help. He has a cramp and
will drown if Moshe Ex-Kollel-Nik does not rescue him. Near Moshe is a
motorboat and certainly he could rescue Mr. Grumpy old Goy but to do so
he would be M'hallel Shabbat. What does he do?

First he thinks there is no problem because the halacha today is that
because of Ayvah we are permitted to violate the Shabbat to save a goy
so that they will save Jews should the need occur. But Moshe thinks how
can that be in this case as no one will know if I don't rescue him,
there can be no ayvah, and the thrust of the halacha is that we don't
violate the Shabbat to save a goy.

The Rambam learns that Pakuach Nefesh dohe (supercedes) the Shabbat from
Chai B'hem and this is only for Jews*. I must let him die. But then he
thinks of the Ramban who learns Pakuach Nefesh dohe the Shabbat from
V'Chai Emuch. The Ramban holds Pakuach Nefesh dohe the Shabbat to save a
Ger Toshav as well**.

[* See Leviticus 18-5 and the Rambam's Hilchot Shabbat 2-3
** See Leviticus 25-35, the Ramban's Addendum to the Sefer HaMitzvot
Positive Commandment 16, and Chemdes Yisrael Pg 27]

In a matter of seconds Moshe starts up the motorboat and rescues Mr. Grumpy
old Goy. In my humble opinion God not only understands - God applauds.

Now I think it is important that we learn the texts. But I think it is
just as important that we learn outside of our texts. Had Moshe
Ex-Kollel-Nik had an insular up bringing he might not have had enough
respect for all of life itself and he would have let Mr. Grumpy old Goy

By the way I believe that there are problems with the Rambam's use of
Leviticus 18-5. The midresh seems to say that Chai B'hem refers to the
world to come. And the Chemdes Yisrael, reluctantly it seems, makes the
point that maybe according to the Ramban this is simply an issue of a
positive commandment (our responsibility to save the life of a Ger
Toshav) superceding the negative commandment (those of Shabbat).

    Dick Fiedler    <dfiedler@...>
    Skokie Il   (847) 329-9065 Fax (847) 329-9066       /\
    Efrat Israel  (02) 9932706  Fax (02) 9932707    \--/--\--/


From: <Ezr0th@...> (Elanit Rothschild)
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 15:01:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Terror bombing and the 3 weeks

 	As most of you (surely all of you) already know, more fatal
bombs exploded yesterday in Machane Yehuda.  Today is yet another day of
mourning in Israel.
 So, add another 15 names to the death toll list that started its
running in 1994.  The first emotion that I felt when I awoke to the news
was utter shock.  It seems like just yesterday when my family gathered
for last year's Purim Seudah and we solemnly remembered those that were
killed- 24 on February 25th, 1 on February 26th, 18 on March 3rd and 12
on March 4th.
 There was yet another this year in Tel Aviv, which killed 3 women, but
for some reason, many here in America did not feel the same about that
one as they did about the others.  Today, for everyone, reality hits
once more.
 Today, I feel the utter helplessness again.  

 	If one thinks about it, there really isn't much that we can do
about what is happening to our brothers and sisters 6,000 miles away in
Israel.  We can't stop the bombs from exploding or the rocks from being
thrown.  We can definitely not stop the people who think that they have
the G-d given right to kill others "Leshem shamayim."  Or can we?  There
are those that, in order to vent their anger and frustrations, blame the
leaders or other political figures that were elected into office.  "It
is his fault because he is the one that released the terrorists the
other day."  "No, it's their fault because all they want to do is take
take take, but not give."  For those people, this is a legitimate outlet
where they can show their emotions, most of the time peacefully, without
feeling any regrets later on.  But I would like to offer another,
probably more effective way to channel one's emotions to a place that is
more accepting and loving.

	In a week and a half, we will once again be fasting and mourning
on Tisha B'Av, the day when, among other events, both Batai Mikdash were
 We all know why they were destroyed.  One of the midot that was lacking
in Bnei Yisrael was "Ahavat Chinam," loving the other, just because he
was one of Hashem's creations.  Since the destruction of the Second Beit
Hamikdash, we have become masters of the midah of "Sinat Chinam," hating
the other, just because.  Why do I say masters?  Because, if it were not
for that one midah alone, I believe that we would not be sitting in our
homes sending email, watching TV or going shopping.  We would be
bringing the Korban Tamid, the daily sacrifice, to the mizbaach.  We
would be living in Eretz Yisrael, with Yerushalayim Habenuyah in our
hands to brag about.  But, instead, we find ourselves in a very
compromising and hazardous situation.  There is so much sinat chinam
built into our society that one can not look at another person without
already figuring out if that person is worth helping, or worth saying
"good Shabbos" to, or even worth smiling at.  The tension sometimes is
so thick, you can't even begin to slice it with the sharpest knife.  Why
is that?  How did we dig ourselves into such a deep hole?

	There is no coincidence that this particular bombing happened
during the 3 weeks, during the time when we should be looking inward
instead of outward, realizing our weaknesses and turning them into our
strong points.  I also don't see a coincidence with the Shir shel Yom
that we said yesterday as well. "Ad matai reshaim yalozu.  Yabeu yidabru
atak, yitamru kol poalei aven.  Amcha Hashem yidkau, v'nachalatcha
yeanu. . ."  "How long shall the wicked exult?  They speak freely, they
utter malicious falsehood, they glorify themselves, all workers of
iniquity.  Your nation, Hashem, they crush, and they afflict Your
heritage. . ."

	This summer, unfortunately, more than a few people in camp hurt
their legs- whether it was a sprained ankle, broken bone, fractured
heal.  The first reaction everyone (including me) had was that we should
check the mezuzot, to see if maybe there was a word smudged out or a
letter missing.  But, as our camp director and rabbi said, we shouldn't
first look at the mezuzah.  Before checking the mezuzah, we should check
ourselves.  Look inside to our own personal "klaf" and examine to see if
one of our letters is missing.  The mezuzah is another one of Hashem's
creations that is there to teach us a most valuable lesson.  But most of
the time, that lesson is only first looked at when a tragedy such as
this one occurs.  We all know what that lesson is.

	Each and every one of us is a walking Sefer Torah personified in
a physical body, a mezuzah cover.  Our neshama is the klaf with that
smudge, that missing letter that makes us falter.  Let's all rewrite
that klaf, perfectly and neatly, so that we don't have to mourn another
loss anymore.  As yesterday's Shir ended, "Lechu neranena laHashem,
narea letzur yishainu.  Nekadma panav b'todah, b'zmirot nareah lo.  Ki
Kel gadol Hashem, u'melech gadol al kol Elokim."  "Come- let us sing to
Hashem, let us call out to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us greet Him
with thanksgiving, with praiseful songs let us call out to Him.  For a
great G-d is Hashem, and a great King above all heavenly powers."


End of Volume 26 Issue 92