Volume 27 Number 04
                      Produced: Thu Sep 25 10:42:13 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artscroll and History
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Artscroll History
         [Saul Newman]
Custom of Red String (2)
         [Mordechai Torczyner, Gershon Dubin]
Halachic Methodology of History
         [Hayim S. Hendeles]
Rabbi Akiva
Torah u-Mada; Torah im Derekh Eretz
         [Eli Clark]
Truth and History
         [Russell Hendel]
Women learning
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Yosef Bechhofer <sbechhof@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 09:18:02 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Artscroll and History

A lot of discussion here has equated the withdrawl of "My Uncle the
Netziv" with Artscroll sanitization of history.

While I have no vested interest in defending Artscroll, in all fairness
to them, they did not publish "My Uncle the Netziv" - it is a Targum
Press/Feldheim book - and they certainly did not retract it - Lakewood
Cheder School did.

In fact, Artscroll has published some pretty good books, including the
recent biography of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt"l, who no less an
august historian than Rabbi Rakkefet praised in the current issue of
Jewish Action, except for one point he took exception to.

(Another book that comes to mind is the translation of the biography of
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt"l, which has a very good chapter on Rav
Kook zt"l.)

My hunch is that a lot depends on the author, as for example, Yonasan
Rosenblum has written some undocumtented and some documented books, both
types published by Artscroll. Their editorial policy is probably laxer
than a scholarly publishing house - but that is to be expected, as they
are popular publishers.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
c/o Shani Bechhofer


From: Saul Newman <Saul.Z.Newman@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 07:51:59 -0700
Subject: Artscroll History

  I agree with all the sentiments expressed in this issue. R M. Tendler
was known to have protested some of the exagerations told about R Moshe
after his passing. He said the truth was great enough without making him
appear superhuman, to which we won't aspire( quoted by r leff, 97 w
coast ou convention).  My longstanding fear is that the Tora media is in
the hands of the Aguda-Yeshiva world (as maybe it should be); and this
will consequently limit the audience of any publication of a different
  In some ways, this is similar to the concept of daas tora, that
essentially every facet of life is in the purview of the roshei eshiva.
If their decision is that baseball is bitul zman (wasted time), I don't
think these histories will discuss the stickball skills of a
posek--they'll rather say he completed shas by his bar mitzva etc.  And
certainly they'll never say that he went to college, chas vshalom. So
I'm not sure where the legitimate 'religion' interest ends, and where
the 'politics' or 'party line' ends...


From: Mordechai Torczyner <mat6263@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 08:25:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Custom of Red String

> From: <Jerry_Schneider@...>
> I've seen people put a red string around a baby wrist to keep away  
> Ayin Harah, the evil eye. Where did this custon come from? Why the 
> color red?

	I cannot explain the details of the string, but it is worth noting
a Tosefta in Shabbos (7:1) which a friend showed me:
	"These items are [forbidden as] ways of the Amorite nation...and
one who ties a red string around his finger."
	This would seem to forbid the use of a red string in association
with mysticism, but I am not quite certain how to take this Tosefta.

From: <gershon.dubin@...> (Gershon Dubin)
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 16:08:58 -0400
Subject: Custom of Red String

>Just to go a little farther in Ben Rothke's question on Ayin Harah. 
>I've seen people put a red string around a baby wrist to keep away  
>Ayin Harah, the evil eye. Where did this custon come from? Why the 
>color red?
	Rabbi Berel Wein,  on a tape on custom and halacha,  quotes
someone as saying it was an ancient superstition with origins,  if I
remember correctly,  in some backward Italian hill country.  Puts a
litttle different spin on it,   I think,  and explains why Rabbi Simon
Schwab zt"l,  among others,  was firmly against the custom.



From: Hayim S. Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 09:29:11 -0700
Subject: Re: Halachic Methodology of History

In a recent post, Chana Luntz wrote:

> To take my Uncle the Netziv, for example.  It is recorded there that the
> Netziv used to read a newspaper on shabbas.  Now some parts of our
> community regard reading a newspaper on shabbas as forbidden, and some
> regard it as perfectly permissible.  To delete it as a "less than
> stellar incident" is to do more than indicate conflict with the secular
> notion of history, it is an attempt to push psak on a particular issue
> in a particular direction.  

Although you have a good point, I must take issue with you here.

IMHO the statement *had to be deleted*. And I say this, because
you and I *DO NOT KNOW* what the word "newspaper" means. To some,
it means the New York Times, to some it means the Yated Neeman
(which contains the news from a Torah perspective as well as
numerous Divrei Torah), and to others the word "newspaper" means
one of these sleazy British tabloids.

While I am not a Rabbi, and I cannot pasken, whatever the laws are
about reading newspapers on Shabbos, there may well be a difference
between the sleazy British tabloid and the Yated Neeman.

If this is true, unless you know the nature of the paper read by
the Netziv, it would be deceiving to state his position that
newspapers are permissible. Thus, the honest and ethical course
of action would be to omit details that will be misinterpreted.

Hayim Hendeles
E-mail: <hayim@...>


From: <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 23:00:58 EDT
Subject: Rabbi Akiva

Does anyone have an explanation why the phrase "ad shebah Rabbi Akiva"
(until Rabbi Akiva came) and taught...is used specifically with Rabbi



From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 11:17:00 -0400
Subject: RE: Torah u-Mada; Torah im Derekh Eretz

Elana  Fine <ef91@...> asks:

>The motto of YU is Torah U'Mada. The motto of the Breuers Kehila is Torah
>Im Derech Eretz. What exactly are the difference between these two
>phrases? Don't they both mean that you should incorporate secular
>knowledge into your Torah studies? In terms of Hashkafa, how exactly do
>these two Washington Heights community differ?

This simple question touches on matters with deep political
implications.  I shall attempt a concise and objective response.

A motto by its nature is general and open to interpretation.  At Yeshiva
University, some individuals interpret the Torah u-Mada (Torah and
Science) slogan expansively, others narrowly.  The phrase Torah im
Derekh Eretz (Torah and Culture) was coined in the 19th century by R.
S.R. Hirsch and has also been subject to various interpretations.

As implemented today, Yeshiva University offers a secular college
curriculum within the same institution as a yeshiva of advanced Torah
learning.  For some, that is what Torah u-Mada means.  Some YU studnets
view the study of natural sciences as a quasi-religious endeavor -- the
study of God's creation.  For some this is what Torah u-Mada means.
Some YU students actively seek to integrate within themselves the two
different courses of study (seeking, for example, to harmonize what
science teaches about the universe with what the Torah says, or to view
the study of humanities as complementing their religious growth).  For
some this is what Torah u-Mada means.  YU also offers a number of
courses in which principles drawn from secular culture are applied to
Torah texts, for example, a literary analysis of Megillat Rut.  For
some, this is what Torah u-Mada means.

The Washington Heights community of Kehallath Adath Jeschurun
("Breuer's") was founded by descendants of Rav Hirsch.  As currently
implemented by this community, Torah im Derekh Eretz refers to
supplementing one's Torah education with secular knowledge for pragmatic
reasons, i.e., primarily in order to function in a modern society and
support one's family.  Some have suggested that Hirsch intended Torah im
Derekh Eretz to mean something more; for example, in a speech R. Hirsch
gave in the school he founded on the centenary of the birth of the
German poet Schiller, R. Hirsch claimed that the universalistic
principles of Western culture embodied in Schiller's writings are Jewish
values originating in the Torah.  But this is certainly not the approach
which is currently in practice in the Breuer's community.  Indeed, I
have been told (but do not know for a fact) that Breuer's regards the
broader interpretations of Torah u-Mada adopted by some at YU to be a
distortion of Rav Hirsch's philosophy.




From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 19:38:58 -0400
Subject: Truth and History

Both Meir Shinar and Chana Luntz raise interesting points in Vol27n1 on
whether history should be given in full detail or have deliberate
omissions and coverups--the main purpose being avoidance of Leshon

I would like to supplement this discussion with 3 halachic categories
which may give a framework into which these comments fit:

* The Biblical commandment(s) against LaShon Harah (Bad Talk, Slander)
are well known (e.g. Deut 24:9, Lev19:16).  By contrast there is no
explicit Biblical commandment against lying EXCEPT in Judicial matters
(e.g. Ex 20:7, Ex 23:1, Ex 23:7, Ex 23:8).

True there is a commandment to IMITATE G-D--just as he is truthful so
should we be--but the real Biblical emphasis is on avoiding slander not
on telling truth. Indeed, the Talmud notes that G-d Himself 'lied' to
avoid hurting someone elses feelings( Cf Gen 15: 12 vs 13---G-d omitted
Sarah's statement 'He (My husband) is old..how can we have children').

In fact I once heard the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchick, contrast Judaic
values with Kantian ones: "In philosophy, truth is THE ideal. By
contrast Judiasm has a concept of lying for the sake of Peace" Indeed
Peace is one of G-d's names while Truth is only his seal.

So my first point is that Peace and avoiding slander are the important
moral norms to us not Truth.

* My second point is that there is one place where Truth is important..
in Judicial process. I once heard Rabbi Berman ask the Rav after a
Gemarrah Shiur, "But Rabbi Solveitchick, if most Jewish court cases are
settled by compromise then why should we emphasize the Code of Law (The
shulchan Aruch)." The Rav Responded, "Because a judge shouldn't effect a
compromise till he knows the true verdict--the compromise must be built
around truth".

* My third point is that based on Ex 20:3, there are many prohibitions
(one can find them in the Idolatry Laws in Rambam) prohibiting praising
idolaters or giving them credit or allowing them to think that their god
has done something for them.

The above three principles now suggest a convenient approach to history:

* PERSONAL INCIDENTS: If I go to a wedding I must say the bride is
beautiful (even if she isn't). Similarly if I record the wedding in a
history book I should so record it. Truth in this instance has no value
in halacha. Shinar and Luntz might retort, "Well why include them in the
history" and that is fine but I have no objection to putting them in

* IDOLATROUS INCIDENTS: The application of the prohibition of praising
idolaters to modern times depends of course on whether any legal
authority considers people today idolators. All I am saying is that if
they are idolators, don't praise them--if we don't consider them
idolaters we should not take away credit from them

* JUDICIAL PROCESS: This seems very specific. But I have in mind here
ANY concept over which there is DISPUTE. Take Chana's example of
learning secular studies (and the citations about "My Uncle--the
Netziv"). Well in this case "secular studies in the Yeshiva" is an issue
of dispute. It is not personal and it is not idolatrous ( I mean
really...those who oppose it have to admit there are two sides). So my
position would be that history must be completely accurate here.

I believe this three fold approach: Lying for personal----hiding
achievements of idolators----and being completely accurate in matters of
legitimate dispute may help our understanding of all the controversies
related so far

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;ASA; RHendel @ mcs drexel edu


From: <janiceg@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997 10:21:48 -0700
Subject: Women learning

In Vol. 27 #03, Rachel Mestetsky said: 
> I was given a slightly different explanation towards women learning Torah.
> Women are responsible for offspring.  Any stay at home mom will tell you
> that it's not a full-time job, it's a 24/7 job.  Men work 40 hours a week,
> get 40 hours a week to themselves, and then Shabbat and Sunday off.  Women
> don't.  A baby needs to be fed and clothed and changed on Shabbat, in the
> evenings, in the middle of the night, etc.  This means that any mother
> would not be able to dedicate a set amount of time to intense study, and
> thus it would be forced to take a "back seat" to raising children.  Torah
> study is extremely important, and so are raising children.  So the
> compromise is the man has the obligation to study Torah, and the woman has
> the obligation of bearing children.  This is why as the Rambam said "women
> are not prepared for serious study" - it's impossible to put Torah study
> ahead of raising children.

If this were truly the explanation, I've always wondered why it does not
say that this only applies to women who are raising children. Why does
the same reasoning apply to women who are single or childless or whose
children are grown?

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


End of Volume 27 Issue 4