Volume 27 Number 40
                      Produced: Wed Dec 24 21:33:06 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kiruv and School
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Kiruv:  All or Nothing?
         [Steve White]
Olam Haba
         [Al Silberman]
Sources for World to Come
         [Yosef Branse]


From: <toramada@...> (Shoshana L. Boublil)
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 97 13:30:17 PST
Subject: Kiruv and School

I would like to address Seth Kadish's post.  Basically I agree.  He
brought up 3 issues: the use of fear, in its various forms as a spur to
become closer to Judaism; the intrusion of Mahzirim Be'Teshuva; and the
school system.

I'll start with the last.  When I went to school over 30% of the girls
in Mamlachti Dati were non-religious.  We learned how to cope (what to
eat or not at their homes etc.) and that was the end of it.

Nowadays, in discussing schools for my kids I come up against parents
who are willing to open a new school, and thereby destroy the old one
(not enough students) just to prevent the inclusion of the 5% who
nowadays want to go to MM"D though there homes are not Shomer Shabbat.

The funny thing is that nowadays the Sh"s school system is in the same
situation MM"D was in the past with close to 30% of its students from
non-shomer shabbat homes.

With regards to the Hillul Hashem of the Machzire BeTeshuva I totally
agree.  Some years ago a woman, who had survived the Sho'ah in Holand
came to me in tears: Her brother, who is the only surviving member of
her family won't come to her house anymore - b/c he became a Hozer
Beteshuva and as she didn't keep Shabbat and Kashrut - his rabbi told
him not to come anymore.  This was after she had already kashered the
kitchen for him, kept basic Shabbat rules when he was at her house (no
cooking etc. on Shabbat), but this wasn't enough for his Rabbi.

The use of fear is even more abhorrent to me, especially when in the
name of Kiruv Rehokim - lies are told (anyone know exactly what Geheinom
looks like?), different styles of religion are ridiculed (anyone here
that if you wear a Kippa S'ruga - your brains evaporate through the
holes?) etc.

We have such a beautiful religion, I wish they would spend more time
showing the positive instead of using negative methods to try and "hook"



From: Steve White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 10:54:41 EST
Subject: Kiruv:  All or Nothing?

I feel compelled to comment on this, being a hozer bit'shuva myself.  I
also want to express special appreciation to Rabbi Seth Kadish for his
comments.  We miss you and Shari in Highland Park, and wish you a Chag
Urim Sameach.

In a nominally Conservative, functionally non-observant home, I started
learning Torah through a variety of channels in the Conservative
synagogues where I grew up.  The single most important of these was USY,
the youth group.  (This is the equivalent group to NCSY, for those who
may be unfamiliar.)  At the end of a summer in Israel with USY, the
group leader, Rabbi Abraham Morhaim (at least then) of Peabody, MA,
encouraged all of us -- if it had been a meaningful summer -- to take
some measure of increased observance home with us and make it a
permanent part of life.  So I became kosher and shomer shabbos.

But I didn't do that in a way that the Orthodox world would appreciate,
at least initially.  With respect to kashrut, I stopped eating ham,
shellfish, or open basar v'chalav right away, and never returned (other
than once by accident).  However, I still ate foods, including meats,
that were not under supervision.  And I did eat such foods out.  With
respect to Shabbat, I did no schoolwork.  But I did watch television,
use the lights, and drive to shul.

Well, over the course of the following seven years, through my senior
year of high school, four years of undergraduate work at Yale, and three
years working, things fluctuated.  In terms of kashrut I kept that
status quo, more or less, for six years.

In terms of Shabbat, my first two years of college I more or less
dropped it.  Then the second two years I was a regular at Yale Hillel
and the Kosher Kitchen for Shabbat, and did no homework, but I did
listen to the radio in the afternoon, and went to your odd football
game.  I went to work, and dropped Shabbat again.  Then I got laid off,
and reacted by trying to take on all of Shabbat right away.  Well, I
moved back home, and went back into the practices of my senior year of
high school.  (Well, except that I had my own car.  (:-) )

I served as a staffer on several conventions of Seaboard Region USY
during my year back at home, and during the Summer Convention (LTI, to
the cognoscenti), on the subject of Conservative Judaism, I gave the
same talk to my study group as Rabbi Morheim had given me in Israel.  As
a result of that, I know at least one young woman who became completely
frum, and now lives in Israel, and others who increased their attachment
to observance.

At the same time, I said to myself, "If you believe that Conservatism
stands for observance, you ought to get serious about it."  So I did.  I
left two weeks later for graduate school, completely committed to Torah
observance.  Boston is a good community for that, and it stuck.  And
even at that, on business dinners, for about four years, I'd still eat
cooked vegetarian or fish meals out.

I moved from the Conservative community to the Orthodox community
relatively quickly.  How that happened would make this letter longer
than it already is; suffice it to say that all who know me would agree
that I am completely committed to Orthodoxy at this point, eleven years
after graduate school, and serve as one of the principal ba'alei tefila
of my shul for Yamim Nora'im.  Still, I hope I have been able to make
the following points here:

1. It is dangerously incorrect to assume that the Orthodox world is the
only place people learn Torah, or become serious Jews.  There are
certainly halachic issues that have to be addressed, but we frum Jews
must become better at assuming that Jews professing other "movements,"
whether Conservative, Reform, or whatever, have serious intent.
Institutionally, we laugh them off; is it a surprise that they band
together to fight us?  We can't go against halacha, but we have to be a
little more creative about understanding what halacha does and doesn't
allow, so that we can try to make things work with the rest of klal

2. The road to hazara bit'shuva is often not a straight, direct, simple
route.  People who do kiruv for a living understand this, but all of us
must.  And if a person has an interest in going forward, we cannot, G-d
forbid, tell them that they can never take a step back.  Instead, we
must ask them to stay ahead of where they were, and to stay open to
future opportunities to move forward again.  If we do this, we will be
more successful in returning our people to Torah.  If not, our
not-yet-observant brethren (intended as a non-gender- specific word)
will tell us, as they have been recently, to take a long walk off a
short pier.

Steven J. White
formerly of Potomac, MD, Conservative Congregation Har Shalom
now of Highland Park, NJ, Orthodox Congregation Ahavas Achim

PS -- I would be remiss in not praising the support of my teachers
throughout this journey, most chiefly Rabbi Leonard Cahan of Har Shalom,
and Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg of Ahavas Achim.


From: <alfred.silberman@...> (Al Silberman)
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 97 10:15:23 EST
Subject: Re: Olam Haba

The most comprehensive survey that I have found on this subject is in
the book "Jewish Views of the Afterlife" by Simcha Paull Raphael
(published by Aronson).

The Ramban in his sefer Toras Ha'adam has a large section with the title
of Sha'ar Hagemul (Gate of Reward) where he elaborates on this subject.
To the best of my knowledge it is his views which have become the
normative Jewish eschatological view today (though this may be a
parochial view since I grew up and live in Chassidic circles).

The subject is complex since it deals with areas that are mystical,
debated by the Rishonim and not subject to verification.

The starting point in understanding the issues is knowing the basic
tenets required by the Jewish religion in this area.
     1. The Jewish Faith requires us to believe that everything we
do is subject to reward and punishment.
     2. The Jewish Faith requires us to believe in a physical
resurrection at the "End-of-Days" following a trial and judgement.

These two are embodied as part of the Thirteen Articles of Faith by the Rambam.

Since it is obvious that all reward and punishment does not take place
during a person's lifetime, a corollary of the above two tenets is that
this reward and punishment extends beyond the person's lifetime.

The Jewish Faith does NOT require that we believe that this reward /
punishment takes place immediately after death. The reward / punishment
may take place after the "Great Judgement" which will occur (may it be
speedily) in the time of Moshiach. Whether this reward / punishment is
slated for the "Days of Moshiach" or at a later time is also unknown and
a determination of which it is - is also not part of the requirements of
the Faith.

The Ramban in the Toras Ha'adam elaborates on his view of the Afterlife
and presents the following scenario. There is a heavenly judgement of a
person's actions on the day of death with reward / punishment beginning
immediately. There will be another judgement on the day of the "Great
Judgement" which determines whether resurrection takes place and the
person's position in the "World-To-Come". The "World-To-Come" is
distinct from the "Days of Moshiach" and follows it. As I said earlier,
I believe that this is today's normative view.

I will not cite the sayings of the Talmud that support this view. The
Ramban does a wonderful job of explaining himself and proving his
points.  I would only like to point out some of the sayings in Talmud
that seem to disagree with this viewpoint so that it becomes obvious
that things are not so clearcut. The following is culled from my
personal notes on Shas.

1.  The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 16b when discussing the judgements that a
person goes through does not mention any judgement taking place on the
day of death. The only judgements mentioned are the yearly ones during
one's lifetime and the "Great Judgement".

2.  The obvious question arises that if a person is judged at the time
of death what is the point of another judgement at the
"End-Of-Days". Tosfos addresses this question on the spot (and there are
other answers) but in my opinion the question is better than the

3.  The Gemara in Sanhedrin 91a (bottom) insists that the soul cannot be
judged apart from the body and that is the purpose of the physical
resurrection and Judgement at the "End-Of-Days".

4.  The Gemara in Kedushin 39b proves that there is going to be a
physical resurrection from the story of someone who dies while in the
performance of a commandment which promises extensive rewards. However,
if rewards can be extended to the soul without the body prior to
physical resurrection then what is the proof?

5.  At the end of the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avos the Mishna says "The
newborn will die; the dead will live again; the living will be judged"
(Artscroll). The Rambam clearly says (what I think is implied in the
order of the Mishna) that the judgement referred to is the one at the
"End-Of-days" after physical resurrection. No mention is made of a
judgement of the dead.

This topic is huge and a good foundation can be built on the Ramban's
Sha'ar Hagemul.


From: Yosef Branse <JODY@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 13:45:16 +0200 (EET)
Subject: Sources for World to Come


Re: the recent query for literature regarding the concept of the "World to

Perek "Chelek", the last chapter of Masechet Sanhedrin, includes
extensive rabbinic discussion of the "World to Come," including proofs
from Biblical passages of concepts such as the afterlife, the Messianic
Era, the World to Come, etc.

The Rambam's Mishnah commentary on that chapter is a well-known
source. The commentary on Sanhedrin has been translated into English by
Dr. Fred Rosner.

I would also heartily recommend the Artscroll translation of that
chapter, in the third volume of their edition of Sanhedrin. It includes
a lot of explanatory material, and notes drawn from numerous rabbinic
commentaries.  I found it a very valuable supplement to my study of

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End of Volume 27 Issue 40