Volume 28 Number 19
                      Produced: Tue Nov 10  7:15:43 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chelek Leolam Haba
         [Robert Korolnik]
Gendered Souls & Mitzvos
         [Hannah Gershon]
M-F Equality
         [Frank Silbermann]
Making 3 shidduchim
         [Akiva Miller]
Male and Female Souls
         [Zvi Weiss]
Men's and Women's Souls and Mitzvot
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]


From: Robert Korolnik <RKOROLNI@...>
Date: 06 Nov 98 12:49:49 +0000
Subject: Chelek Leolam Haba

Chaim Shapiro stated
>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.

This is a very hot and complex topic. Chaim it is not only a mistery to you.
The answer can fill walls of books and will still leave more questions.

As you know the statement in Pirkey Avoth: "Kol Israel Yesh Lohem Chelek
Leolam Haba" Caused one of the greatest discussion in hashkafa.  One of
the questions asked there is. Is really every Jew equipped by birth with
a "card blanche" for the entrance to the Olam Haba? Or must he really BE
A REAL Jew? But then what is a real Jew?

After all this was the initiator of RAMBAM to write his 13 Ikarim
(principals of Jewish faith). 
There are also many English lectures on that on all level of complexity. 
Two nice English publications on that issue are on my mind.
-My Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Weinberg (shlita)from Baltimore.
-Plus there is an publication by the OU (or NCSY) written by Rabbi Arie
Kaplan (s"zl)

Please forgive for not giving exact titles but I do not have access to my
library here at the office.

Kol Tov
Pinchas Korolnik


From: <GERSHON@...> (Hannah Gershon)
Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 13:46:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Gendered Souls & Mitzvos

Baruch t'chi'as hameisim! It's wonderful to have M-J back! Thank you, Avi!

   I never had the opportunity to learn under an instructor of gemara
(since apparantly I have a female soul *as well as* a female physical
form), so I am lost in this discussion of male and female souls.
Several people have seemed to have said that women are not "required" to
do as many mitzvos as men for various reasons.  I'm in the dark about
many things, but two things in particular I wish to ask here regarding
this thread:

   1. What is the source for understanding neshamos to be gendered as
are physical bodies?  (Is it from a kabbalistic principle that
postulates a direct & active corelation between the realm of gashmius
and ruchnius, ie, the material world and the "spiritual" world?)
   2. I thought women were originally required in the same 613
commandments, but then (or simulteaneously at Sinai?) were *exempted*
from mitzvos dependent on "fixed times."  *If* so, isn't there a
difference in kind between the implied significance of one who is
commanded and exempted verses one who is never commanded in the first
place?  Further, what is the meaning and significance of the exemption?
Don't other cases of "command-and- exempt" imply the presence of
extra-ordinary variables (eg, certain categories of illness exempt one
from fasting)?
      I know Hashem spoke to the women first (Beis Ya'akov) at Har
Sinai.  Does that mean Hashem commanded the women in "women's" mitzvos
only, and that Hashem NEVER commanded them in all 613?  If so, then why
is there so much discussion in the gemara (so I've been told) about
*exempting* women from fixed-time mitzvos?  And, last but not least, why
does the principle of lo ploog ("no exceptions") apply to the category
of female regarding the exemption from fixed-time mitzvos?  That is,
just as each individual (regardless of physical gender) is evaluated as
to whether or not one falls into the category of illness which exempts
one from fasting, why is not every individual woman evaluated as to
whether or not her situation exempts her from fixed-time mitzvos?

   Many apologies for the really basic info-gathering questions in the
midst of an intellectual discussion.  I appreciate this space as an
opportunity to learn!  Thanks!
 hannah gershon


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 20:31:03 -0600 (CST)
Subject: M-F Equality

Actually, gentiles as well as Jews considered women to be on a higher
spiritual level than men -- that was the whole basis for the sexual
"double standard."

Feminism does not complain about women being insufficiently valued, but
rather about women having fewer social options and opportunities for
leadership (i.e. less power than men).  The feminist ideal of treating
women as being completely interchangeable with men is incompatible with
Judaism.  (On the other hand, we need not limit women's roles any more
so than that which halacha makes absolutely mandatory.)

Frank Silbermann


From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 09:27:50 -0500 
Subject: re: Making 3 shidduchim

Chaim Shapiro writes:
<<< E. Springer asks if there is a source for the assertion that making 3
shidduchim guarantees 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? >>>

Here are my guesses:

If one is guaranteed a chelek, a portion, there is no guarantee on how
large that portion will be. Something larger than zero, that's all,
which might not be inappropriate, even for a rasha.

Regarding the point that the seven sons were a gift from Hashem, and are
not a personal accomplishment which deserves any kind of reward: This is
true, but perhaps the seven sons are not the *cause* by which he earned
his chelek, but rather it is a *sign* which shows him to be deserving of
(at least a small) chelek. In other words, the fact that Hashem chose to
give him seven sons is a sign that there is something special about him
that we do not see, and it is for that which he is promised his chelek,
whatever its size may be.

Akiva Miller


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 09:30:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Male and Female Souls

> From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
> 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?

 No. For two reasons.  First, these are not berachot of request.  They
are berachot of "praise".  It is not logical to "praise" by making a
request (in effect admitting to an inferiority).  Second, the idea is
that one thanks G-d for what one *does* have.  Thanking G-d for
something does not demonstrate an intrinsic superiority.

> 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.

 These berachot (shelo asani Goy, shelo asani aved, and shelo asani
Isha date directly from the gemara.  It appears that they are berachot of
praise that relate to the obligation to perform mitzvot.  As noted above,
these berachot are to express praise to G-d and not to indicate the
intrinsic superiority of someone or something.

> 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?)

 Please provide a source that the reason for the beracha is that men
do not have to go through child birth.  The formulation in the gemara
seems to be clear that it is focusing upon the increasing level of
obligation in mitzvot.

In particular, I noted once that R. Yosef Shani quoted from R. Chayim
Vital that when there is a "gilgul" (soul coming back to earth), the soul
of a Jewish man can sometimes come back as a Non-Jew or as a woman (!)  In
that context, it oculd be that the praise here is that the soul was given
the opportunity to perform mitzvot that it may not have had a chance to do
"the last time around"...

> From: <Rebbezev@...> (Zev-Hayyim Feyer)
> 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?

 There is a fundamental difference.  The non-Jew never accepted the
Mitzvot.  For them, the mitzvot are simply to ensure the social stability
of the world.  And, if a non-Jew sincerely keeps the mitzvot, G-d rewards
that person.
The Torah -- on the other hand -- was given to us as a "bluprint" that
includes the enhancement and uplifting of our beings.  If G-d chose not to
give as many Mitzvot to women, the logic is that within this "blueprint",
they do not "need" as many to enhance themselves.

On a more kabbalistic level, the Non-Jew does not have a level of "soul"
greater than "Ru'ach" (There are three levels: Nefesh, Ru'ach, and
Neshama).  It is only the Jew who has the level of "Neshama".  And,
Mitzvot of the Torah are only of "benefit" to the Neshama.  Therefore, the
Non-Jew (who has no neshama) was not given these additional mitzvot.
However, the Jew *has* a neshama.  If the female Jew with a Neshama was
not given certain mitzvot, the reason was because her "neshama" does not
"need" those mitzvot to reach the appropriate level of "fulfillment".

In short, one cannot compare the Non-Jew's obligation in Mitzvot to the
Jew's obligation in Mitzvot.



From: <Alexander_Heppenheimer@...> (Alexander Heppenheimer)
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 12:54:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Men's and Women's Souls and Mitzvot

Rabbi Feyer wrote:
>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?

I would venture that only specific types of mitzvos - specifically,
positive ones - indicate a soul's level, because this tells us what parts
of G-d's creation that particular soul is able to elevate and make into
vessels for G-dliness; negative mitzvos, by contrast, refer to those parts
of the world in which the G-dly spark is beyond the pale of redemption, at
least until Moshiach comes (see Tanya, chs. 6-8). As an aside, for this
reason the Sages eventually came to the conclusion (Eruvin 13b) that "it
would have been better for man not to be created," because the number of
negative mitzvos - i.e., parts of G-d's creation that are off limits -
exceeds the number of positive mitzvos, i.e., items and forces that we can
use as tools to make the world a "dwelling-place for G-d."

The Gentiles' 1.14% "market share," then, consists only of negative
mitzvos, because G-d gave the capability to turn physical objects into
spiritual ones only to the Jewish People, and that - only at the Giving of
the Torah; before that, as the Midrash (I don't have the source at hand)
puts it, the rule was that "the higher realms shall not descend below, and
the lower realms shall not ascend above." (See note below.) The fact that
the Gentiles have mitzvos at all is only because "G-d did not create the
world to be chaotic; He formed it to be inhabited" (Yeshayah 45:18) - and
therefore everyone in the world needs to be bound by a basic moral code
that ensures that civilization can exist and flourish.

On the other hand, all Jews, both men and women, have positive mitzvos,
which means that they are spiritually equipped to extract sparks of
G-dliness from G-d's creations; the capability to do this indicates a high
spiritual level.

Note: Apropos of this week's Parashah, this is why Avraham asked Eliezer to
swear by putting his hand under Avraham's thigh (Bereishis 24:2), which
Rashi explains to mean that Eliezer had to swear by Avraham's bris milah -
because that was the only material object with intrinsic holiness that
Avraham possessed. Even though Avraham kept all the mitzvos (Yoma 28b), and
therefore put on tefillin and ate matzah and so forth, those objects could
not actually absorb holiness: they remained holy objects only so long as
they were in use.


End of Volume 28 Issue 19