Volume 28 Number 15
                      Produced: Fri Nov  6  6:47:59 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better
         [Shlomo Godick]
Bowing in Karate (2)
         [Joel Rich, Robert Korolnik]
Equity and Equality or Different and Equal
         [Binyomin Segal]
M-F Equality and Kavannah
         [Stan Tenen]
Making 3 shidduchim
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Male and Female Souls
         [Jeanette Friedman]
Men's and Women's Souls and Mitzvot
         [Zev-Hayyim Feyer]


From: Shlomo Godick <shlomog@...>
Subject: re: Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better

<Yacovdavid@...> (Yaacov Dovid Shulman) wrote: <<

I recently saw a letter to the editor in Commentary Magazine by (I
believe) Rabbi Mottel Twerski, in which he speaks of women's souls being
superior to those of men ...
As far as I can tell, this is a doctrine, or apologetics, that is no
more than twenty years old. >>

I tended to agree with the above until I heard Rav Yechiel Yaakovson of
Zichron Yaakov make similar remarks in the name of R. Chaim Vital (who
lived hundreds of years ago, long before suffrage or feminist movements
were heard from).

I have yet to see R. Chaim Vital's words "inside", but the following is
the gist of R. Yaakovson's remarks:

According to R. Chaim Vital, the blessing that a woman makes (sh'asah li
kirtzono - Who made me in accordance with His Will) echoes the words of
the kaddish (b'alma divrah kir'utei -- in the world that He created in
accordance with His Will).  Woman, who enjoys a more serene, spiritual
nature, was created more perfectly, more in accordance with the ultimate
Divine Will.  Man's given nature is coarser, more spiritually flawed;
therefore, he requires the spiritual regimen of Torah study and an
abundance of mitzvot as a "tikkun".

Kol tuv,
Shlomo Godick
Rechasim, Israel


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 19:33:24 EST
Subject: Re: Bowing in Karate

 >Seth Kadish asked: 
 >"Does anyone know anything about the issue of bowing for observant Jews
 >who participate in a karate dojo?  The bowing consists of both knees on
 >the floor and falling forward with hands and face on the ground.  They
 >also say something in Japanese (I have no idea what)."

Rav Schechter in nefesh harav(p233) retells that The Rav was asked about
karate bowing . While he didn't feel it was an act that involved idol
worship, he felt it was not permitted due to it being an act of

Kol Tuv
Joel Rich

From: Robert Korolnik <RKOROLNI@...>
Date: 05 Nov 98 07:29:25 +0000
Subject: Bowing in Karate

I am practicing Karate now for many years, taking lessons by a native
Japanese Master. He is taking the correct traditions seriously. I asked
him for the translation of the ritual announcements both at the
beginning and at the end of the lessons. I know there are as many
"minhagim" (lehavdil) as there are styles but in Shotokan these rituals
go as follows.

All face the front of the Dojo.(Room of the training)
then the student with the highest rank calls out "shomei nire"
(translation: We greet the Honorables) followed by a bow.
Then the Master turns to the students.
the student with the highest rank calls out "sensei nire" (translation We
greet the Master) followed by a bow.

As some earlier writers wrote. I think the second statement and bowing
goes in line with respect to the local customs and it's not religious
basis. But I personally have great difficulties with the first
statement. I am sure there are halachik problems with that. I personally
try not to sit the rightmost position. (So I do not have announce these
words in question) Plus while bowing down I lift my knees of the ground
to prevent any halachik issues. I was never criticized for not going all
the way down.

Kind regards

Pinchas Korolnik


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 15:44:04 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Equity and Equality or Different and Equal

Yaacov Dovid Shulman wrote:
* that in essence women have a higher soul than do men.
* As far as I can tell, this is a doctrine, or apologetics, that is no
* more than twenty years old.  I do not know of any gadol espousing it,
* yet it seems to be extremely widespread--reminding me of the golem
* stories that were created and published for the first time at the turn
* of the century, and which are now accepted as part of the Jewish
* tradition.  Would you concur with this view?  Does anyone know anything
* about this doctrine?

This tradition is quite old. In an earlier edition of this same list, I
quoted a maharal that says that women's souls are more elevated. The
maharal is cited in the work HaIsha V'Hamitzvot (don't remember which
volume). I don't have the original cite handy here at work, but if you
can't find the original note in the archives, i can probably look it up
again at home.

The problem with a presentation of this idea, and the reason it seems
like apologetics, is that we are _sure_ that judaism values the male
contribution. And in fact it does, as referenced in the article from rav
kook. The problem is one of seeing things that are different (women are
more "holy" men are more "active"??) as being equal.

In American culture there is a very disturbing tendency to equate
equality with equity.  We have a hard time seeing that two things can be
different and yet equal.  Imagine a musical piece played with just one
instrument, with everyone playing the same notes. Yet that is exactly
how the american public would run its educational system - where
everyone gets the same opportunities. Instead the truly equatible thing
to do would be to give every student different opportunities, the
opportunities that that unique neshama requires to fully develop. (Rav
Hirsh has a long article on this idea which he equates with mishlei's
statement "chanoch l'naar l'fi darcho")

As a result of this trend, americans are very uncomfortable with the
jewish idea that women and men are different but equal. And yet that is
clearly the jewish concept - two complimentary sexes that each have a
unique contribution to make to a jewish home and a jewish nation.

So how does one present to American students this idea? Add to this the
further complexity that America today, "even" Jewish America is quite

And to top it all off, there is the perception among many American Jews
that historically we were more sexist. That God is portrayed as male,
not because that is the guise God chose for himself, but rather because
the patriarchal society ruled by chazal chose that guise.

One solution - and i think a very effective solution - is to focus on
the sources that show the other side of the coin. In a class I once gave
on this issue, I started the class by asking every person who thought
judaism was sexist to raise their hand. (Most did) Then I presented a
number of medrashim that showed chazals respect for women (eg that women
did not sin with the golden calf, that "it is through the merit of the
rightous women of israel that we were redeemed" from egypt, that miriam
told her father to remarry - he listened - and as a result the savior of
the jews is born). Then I ask a simple question, if the rabbis truly saw
women as secondary, as less important, why do they report these events
that show the importance of the jewish woman?

Once our prejudices about what the rabbis must have thought can be
reexamined, we can begin to see that statements complimenting women, and
statements complimenting men (along with the statements that disparage
both) are not contradictory, but rather complimentary. They are meant to
help us develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and our community.



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 11:49:34 -0500
Subject: M-F Equality and Kavannah

As those who are familiar with my postings already know, I'm far from an
expert in halacha.  However, I hope all would agree that one of Hashem's
names is Emet, and that therefore, Emet as logic is an essential part of
halacha, with regard to mitzvot which we can understand.  

Two questions currently being addressed here are the relative
soulworthiness of men and women, and how one should pray with Kavannah,
given limitations of time.  These are very different issues, but there's a
logical thread that connects them. 

When we compare ourselves to each other, we find differences.  Men and
women are different in some ways.  But when we compare ourselves separately
to Hashem, we're all equal, because Hashem is infinite, and we are finite.  

If we measure our distance from Hashem,because Hashem is infinitely far,
there is no difference between the merit of a man's or a woman's soul.
There's always someone of greater merit than each of us, and there's always
someone of lesser merit than each of us, whether man or woman.  So, in that
context -- topologically speaking -- we're all in the same place. Some are
better, some are worse, and we're all the same distance from Hashem.  

But if this is so, if we really are all of equal merit and potential
compared to Hashem's infinite merit, and yet we're clearly different from
each other, then we have to explain how that's possible.  The simplest
explanation that I'm aware of is based on our realization that God's
greatness includes an infinite number of perspectives, means of approach,
or gates.  

What is important is not which gate we choose or find ourselves in, male or
female, speed praying or slow praying, but whether we use that gate to its
maximum potential.  

When we really recognize that Hashem is infinite compared to ourselves,
when we really have Yirat Hashem, we are humble, and our personal will is
nullified.  This is the key.  

Whether a person is a man or a woman, or whether they choose to pray
quickly or slowly, is peculiar to each of us.  If we use "our gate" to its
maximum effectiveness by reducing our ego to its very minimum, then we're
doing the right thing.  

For example, there are persons who pray in Hebrew who do not understand
Hebrew.  How should they pray?  What is Kavannah for this person?  Clearly,
even if they pray slowly, they can't pray as if they're having an ordinary
conversation, because they don't understand the words.  For such a person,
the "sacrifice of will" is praying itself.  Just making the time to go
through the prayer is a sacrifice, because the person praying can't even
hear the meaning.  Would they be better off praying in English?  Maybe.
Who's to say?  _Whatever_ leads to their greatest reduction of personal
wilfullness, whatever best expresses their Yirat Hashem, that's the basis
of prayer, and that's what they should do.  

Why is this so?  Prayer is not our asking Hashem to do what we want.
Prayer is relinquishing some of the personal will we received from Hashem's
Will, back to Hashem, so that we can do what Hashem wants. (And Yirat
Hashem includes our trusting that Hashem best knows how to satisfy our
needs, regardless of what it is we may think we want.)   When we constrict
our personal will, we make room for Hashem's Will.  This is a reversal of
the process of tzimtzum, wherein Hashem withdraws his Will so that the
universe (where we are given to express our free will) can come into being.  

And this also explains (in part) the difference between the level of men's
and women's souls.  As several of the posters here have pointed out, a
typical woman's soul is more passive than the typical man's soul.  That's
the key.  One component of passivity is relative egolessness.  To the
extent that a woman is naturally less personally combative and aggressive
than a man, their wilfullness is also less -- and this is a measure of the
greatness of their soul.  (Moshe's soul was great enough to receive Torah
_because_ of his great humility.)

It's not that a woman's soul is necessarily more meritorious than a man's,
it's just that it's naturally easier for it to be so.  

The same is true with the merit of prayer.  Whether quick or slow, the
Kavannah of prayer is in the intention of the pray-er, as motivated by
their Yirat Hashem.  Neither speed nor depth of understanding is as
important as what expresses the most Yirat Hashem for the person praying.
This is also why a child or an uneducated person who gets many details
wrong can still have great merit in their prayer, and why sometimes a
person with great knowledge has less merit, expressly because of their
perceived personal greatness.  



From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 00:24:40 EST
Subject: Making 3 shidduchim

	E. Springer asks if there is a source for the assertion that
making 3 shidduchim garuntees one a "chelek".  In response, I would
mention the concept of a man who has seven sons also earning a chalek.
What if he is a rasha, committing all sorts of evil acts?  Does he earn
a chalek simply because he had seven sons, a bracha which was provided
to him by Hashem?
	I cannot see that as being the case.  What those sayings mean,
and if they have any true basis in Jewish haskafa has always been a
mystery to me.  

Chaim Shapiro


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 08:49:46 EST
Subject: Re: Male and Female Souls

How could women's souls be superior if men make a bracha every morning
saying "she lo asani eisha?" Wouldn't it be logical that they would ask
to have the souls of women?

For that matter, how come we don't all say, She Asani Kirtzono, since
all of us, and all our souls, are different, and some men's souls are
better than some women's and the other way round as well, and this would
cover everyone.

After all, the explanation for why women make that bracha differs--one
of them being that the men are thanking God that they don't have to go
through the pain of childbirth because Chava was the one who offered the
apple to Adam--which is a form of punishment for Original Sin.  (And
isn't that a Catholic concept to begin with?)

Jeanette Friedman


From: <Rebbezev@...> (Zev-Hayyim Feyer)
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 18:45:35 EST
Subject: Men's and Women's Souls and Mitzvot

Several individuals have written concerning the idea that women are
required to perform fewer mitzvot than men because their souls are at a
higher level and they therefore are less in need of mitzvot to reach a
high level of spirituality.  I find this argument -- for all its appeal
-- to be less than convincing.  Indeed, it appears rather disingenuous.
Women have -- let us choose a reasonable figure -- perhaps 75% as many
mitzvot as men.  Do not fault me if the exact number is somewhat greater
or less; it is the concept to which I am speaking.  The logic that says
that women's souls, being at a higher level than men's souls, require
only 75% of the mitzvot must lead us to the conclusion that gentiles'
souls, requiring only 1.14% of the mitzvot of Jewish souls, must be at a
far, far higher level than the souls of Jewish men or women.  Is anyone
out there either
 (a) willing to take such a position, or
 (b) explain why it is that fewer mitzvot imply a higher level of soul in one
instance but not in the other?
 B'shalom uv'ahavah
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer


End of Volume 28 Issue 15