Volume 27 Number 31
                      Produced: Sun Dec  7  7:13:57 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aron placement in the Midbar
         [Moishe Friederwitzer]
Creating on Shabbos
         [Akiva Miller]
Criteria for success in kiruv
         [Rise Goldstein]
Faith in Hashem - Refuah Shelemah
         [Daniel Israel]
Jewish Studies fellowships available
         [Avi Hyman]
Kiruv (2)
         [Shmuel Jablon, Jordan Hirsch]
Kiruv and Jewish schools
         [David I. Cohen]
Marital Relations on Shabbat
         [Jon Marvin]
The "4" Megillot
         [David I. Cohen]


From: <zaidy@...> (Moishe Friederwitzer)
Date: 3 Dec 1997 18:40:18 EDT
Subject: Aron placement in the Midbar

Would anyone be able to tell us which direction the Aron faced while in
the Midbar and at Shiloh? This came up in our Kollel Ba'al Habatim.
Moishe Friederwitzer


From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 10:39:54 -0500
Subject: re: Creating on Shabbos

Many people explain that the common underlying theme of the 39
categories of forbidden "work" on Shabbos to be their creative nature.
That is, since G-d spent six days creating the universe, but did no
creating on the seventh, so too, we engage in creative activities for
six days but not on the seventh. In MJ 27:30, Ezriel Krumbein asked that
if so, then it would seem that the ultimate in creative activity -
marital relations and creation of a new life - ought to be forbidden as

My suggestion is that "creative activity" is a bit too broad an
explanation for what we avoid on Shabbos. Rather, on Shabbos we step
back from our mastery of nature, and let nature's course continue,
unhindered by human activities. At first this seems to be only a
semantic change from "avoiding creative activity", but with marital
relations the change becomes clear: When a couple has relations, they
show no *mastery* of nature, but rather *participation* in it. The
mitzva of having children is often cited as an example of where one can
go through the motions, yet have no real control over actually
fulfilling the mitzva.

To put it more simply, a person can have relations, but HaShem is the
One Who creates the new life. People don't make babies, G-d does.

Akiva Miller


From: Rise Goldstein <GOLDSTN@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 97 13:48:43 EST
Subject: Re: Criteria for success in kiruv

On Tue, 2 Dec 1997 06:21:37 -0500 (EST) Geoffrey Shisler said:
>The point of Kiruv, is to bring people as close to God as *they* want to
>come, not necessarily as far as we want them to come.
>Actually getting people to see the benefit to them to have contact with
>the Almighty, is usually the hardest part of all.
>From Kenneth Ryesky on the same subject:
>If they keep just one
>more mitzvah than they would have otherwise, then kiruv is a success.

These are excellent points and certainly got me thinking about the
issues.  I would respectfully submit, though, that perhaps we had better
broaden our definition of kiruv, or at least clarify our terms.  Among
certain mekareivim (individuals engaged in kiruv) of my acquaintance,
getting their proteges to "keep just one more mitzvah" has emphasized
minutiae of ben adam la-Makom (mitzvot between humans and G-d), with
insufficient attention to the broader scheme within which the minutiae
fit, and with short shrift given as well to mitzvot ben adam l'chaveiro
(between individual human beings).  IMHO it's great when someone becomes
diligent, for example, about keeping Shabbat.  However, I personally see
a real problem when, for example, while keeping Shabbat, the newly (or
not so newly) observant individual publicly embarrasses family members,
friends, or others who might not be similarly observant.

Aaron Mandelbaum stated:

>Any time you can
>teach a fellow Jew something, anything about our religion it is a
>success.  If a person never lit candles for Shabat, and now they do,
>that is a success.  Yes, we are very happy when a person who knew
>nothing becomes a Shomer Mitzvot, and Shomer Shabat, but that can not
>happen with everyone.  A person doing one mitzvah more than they did in
>the past is a great thing.

In general, I agree.  However, another issue I personally see in
defining success of kiruv is that, not only should a "good" outcome
involve doing more mitzvot; it should also involve a "positive"
adaptation to the new lifestyle.  Having traveled considerably around
the U.S. as well as in Israel, I have met a number of ba'alei teshuva
who are running less _toward_ a Torah- observant lifestyle and more
_away from_ something else in their lives.  They become punctilious in
their observance of certain mitzvot ben adam la-Makom, but the same
issues they are running away from, rear their ugly heads in these
individuals' dati lifestyles just as they had done before.

Examples would include individuals from very adverse family backgrounds
who use their religious observance as a weapon against their relatives,
those with drug or alcohol abuse problems who approach yahadut in a
similarly "addictive" manner, and those with other forms of inability to
relate to the worlds in which they previously resided, who seek refuge
they ultimately are unlikely to find in the dati world.  They try to
convince themselves and the others whose opinions in whatever sense
matter that they have truly found their niche, but frequently when the
"honeymoon period" ends they're emotionally back to square one.  And,
too often (at least when I saw much of what I'm describing, 10-20 years
ago), the mekareivim who deal with these individuals are neither
inclined nor qualified to help such people deal with those preexisting
issues in adaptive ways.

NOTE: I am not in any way trying to assert that we should ever
_discourage_ someone from taking on more mitzvot.  However, using that
as the sole criterion for success, when other facets of these
individuals' lives may be going seriously wrong, and when they are
unlikely ever to make a fully successful adjustment into the observant
world given the things that are going wrong, may be rather
short-sighted.  Perhaps these sorts of situations are less frequent now
than they were years ago.  However, I would respectfully assert that if
one is going to engage in kiruv work, one ought to be prepared (and I
suspect more and more mekareivim these days are) to deal with the whole
person, not just the "mitzvah count," and ESPECIALLY not to urge more
and more mitzvot on a person before s/he him-/herself is ready to take
them on.  This does not have to mean restricting kiruv work to degreed
mental health clinicians.  IMHO, it does mean that those who would
engage in kiruv ought to have some ability to recognize when there are
serious issues that their proteges need to deal with that extend beyond
the realm of learning how and why to perform the various mitzvot.  It
also means, IMHO, that mekareivim ought to be willing and sufficiently
knowledgeable to help said proteges access whatever help they need to
deal with those issues adaptively.

Rise Goldstein (<GOLDSTN@...>)
New York, NY


From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 10:50:53 -0700
Subject: Faith in Hashem - Refuah Shelemah

I just came from visiting our Gabbai in the hospice, and I had a few
thoughts I'd like to share.

This list is mostly about halacha, that is, much discussion of s'varah
and sources.  And I think that reflects how many of us approach Torah:
intellectually.  Unfortunately, we may sometimes lose sight of the
tremendous value of simple emunah [faith].

Our Gabbai, Murray Levine, is not a learned man, although is his quite
knowledgable, especially after 18 years as Gabbai here at Chofetz Chaim
in Tucson, and I don't know how many more as a Gabbai in Brooklyn.  But
his emunah is truly inspirational.  I have never met a person with such
a love of shul and such a desire to go to shul.

In the last year or so he has been too sick to come to shul.  But when I
visit him he really only talks about two things.  First, he talks about
shul: did we get a minyan, who was ba'al t'filah on Shabbos, etc.  And
especially how much he wanted to be strong enough to make it for the
next Yom Tov, or Rosh Chodesh bentching, etc.  Even when it was clearly
impossible, he still spoke of how far he was walking in the morning, and
how he planned to be in shul soon.  Second, he would say "there's only
one Doctor."  He was always grateful for the care he recieved from
doctors and nurses, but he always was very firm that healing was not in
their hands.

We all know the tremendous importance of Talmud Torah.  But I think it
is appropriate for each of us to take a couple of minutes from our
intellectual encouter with Torah to ask ourselves is our emunah strong
enough; are we firm in our faith that everything is from HaShem?  This
is a tremendous thing, and seeing a person who truly has this level of
emunah is a great inspiration.

Murray is now in a hospice, and he is almost totally unresponsive.  I
spoke with my Rav last night and he said that it is appropriate to daven
for a r'fuah sh'leimah even when the situation appears hopeless.  May
the inspiration of the emunah of Moshe ben Chaya Freidl be a z'chus for
a r'fuah sh'leimah for him and all the cholim of beis Yisrael.

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona		
Tucson, AZ			


From: <ahyman@...> (Avi Hyman)
Date: Tue,  2 Dec 1997 22:14:45 EST
Subject: Jewish Studies fellowships available

The Feinstein Center of Temple University is offering up to six
fellowships for graduate students at any American or Canadian
university.  Full details regarding the fellowships can be accessed from
the Feinstein Center Website:


Please circulate this notice widely, both electronically or on paper.


From: <ShmuelAJ@...> (Shmuel Jablon)
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 1997 07:42:05 +0000
Subject: Re: Kiruv

1) Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook zt"l notes that Pirke Avot says "love humanity
and draw them closer to Torah."  It says "and", not "in order to".  It
is true that when we love our fellow Jews, me'maylah (as a natural
biproduct) they will come closer to Torah.  But if they feel that we
love them only in order to do this, we will fail in both our love and
our kiruv!

2) I am the menahel for the Sephardic Hebrew Day School in Skokie.
Could anyone assist me in locating the sefer Keter Shem Tov, vols. 1-3,
for sale.  It is a sefer on numerous Sephardic minhagim (and their
comparison to Ashkenazi minhagim).

R' Shmuel Jablon

From: <TROMBAEDU@...> (Jordan Hirsch)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 20:02:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Kiruv

Regarding Kiruv, I must say that the responses in this issue(Vol. 27,
#30) are in accordance with my own personal view. That is to say,
everyone more or less agrees that any coming closer to Torah is an
acheivement worth noting.  As someone who has been involved with Kiruv
for almost 20 years, I must say that this view is not as prevalent among
younger Kiruv workers such as might be found in NCSY, and similar
organizations. I chalk this up to the age and for want of a better word,
naivete of these sincere young people. I just want to offer the
suggestion that Rebbaim and Teachers of these Kiruv workers ought to
spend some time sensitizing them to the various ways success in Kiruv
can be judged, and be less concerned with being M'karev the next R'
Akiva. As has already been said, the relative worth of Mitzvot is judged
in Heaven. Our job is to offer opportunities for exposure to Torah.


From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 14:02:13 EST
Subject: Kiruv and Jewish schools

I have found the recent thread concerning the goals of "kiruv" to be
most interesting. It seems that most responses have basically agreed
that any kiruv work that moves an individual in the direction of greater
commitment to torah and mitzvot, however slight, is a worthwhile
endeavor. we should not limit our activities to only those situations
where a person will make a complete life change to complete Torah
observance. I fully agree. It would also appear that the majority of the
Orthodox day schools in the US adhere to that philosophy and actively
encourage (or at least don't discourage or turn away) children of
non-observant families to attend and take part in a day school
education.  (Studies apparently have shown that a day school education
is the single most significant factor in preventing inter-marriage.)
 The question that puzzles me, therefore, is why don't the Orthodox high
schools follow the same policy? With very few exceptions, most high
schools require a prospective student to already be fully observant
before the student will be admitted. In many cases, the entire family is
examined to see if they pass the administrators religious scrutiny. Are
we not missing something if we stop organized kiruv work at the high
school door, and relegate to the inconsistently effective "youth groups"
which reach such a small percentage of Jewish youth? Is this policy


From: Jon Marvin <jonx@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 13:25:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Marital Relations on Shabbat

Regarding the permissibility of marital relations on Shabbat.  1) What
is the basis for the assumption that any "creative" act is forbidden?
Learning Torah must be the most (or one of the most) creative acts and
it is allowed.  2) I seem to recall a gemara in Nidah discussing certain
days of the week when one should have relations so that the birth will
not take place on Shabbat (I don't have a shas handy). I don't recall
what is said about Shabbat.  3) Refraining from intercourse is in line
with the Karaitic view criticized by R. Ibn Ezra on the verse "becharish
u'vkatsir tishbot."  That I recall this comment says more about me than
the issue, I'm sad to say.

Jon Marvin
Seattle, Washington


From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 13:48:49 EST
Subject: The "4" Megillot

At the Young Israel of Stamford (CT) they make use of an actual scroll
that contains 4 of the five megillot (excludes Esther) including
Eichah. The custom there is to recite the bracha (blessing) "al mikra
megilla" and "shehecheyanu" before reading the megillot from the scroll
on Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. On Tisha B'av, the bracha "al mikra
megilla" alone is recited before "eichah" is read from the scroll.


End of Volume 27 Issue 31