Volume 29 Number 11
                 Produced: Mon Jul 19  6:36:47 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bilaam and Halacha as a ceiling
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Coming Late to Shul
         [Barry Best]
Is Halacha a "Ceiling"?
         [Frank Silbermann]
         [Joel Rich]
Pronunciation - Ribi and Rabi
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
Slavery (was Vegitarinism)
         [Warren Burstein]
Slavery and Morality
         [David Glasner]
Three Steps Back in Shmoneh Esrei
         [Yitzchok Zirkind]
Why Slavery will be Moral in King Mesiah's time
         [Russell Hendel]
         [Yossie Abramson]


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Subject: Bilaam and Halacha as a ceiling

I think the older thread of "Was Bilaam a Rasha?" and the newer one of
"Is Halacha/ Torah a moral ceiling?" actually relate to the same issue.

I think the problem with Bilaam is not that he wanted to curse Bnei
Yisrael. It certainly doesn't come out that way from the text. Rather,
the biggest problem with Bilaam was that he was willing to go along with
whatever God told him to do. The Mishna in Pirkei Avot compares Bilaam
to Avraham.  Avraham was the exact opposite of Bilaam in this regard.
When God wanted to destroy Sdom, Avraham questioned God's commitment to
justice. In Hebrew we have the terms "rosh gadol" and "rosh
katan". Bilaam (and Noach, among others) had the attribute of rosh
katan. They went along with what they were told. But Avraham (and Moshe)
were willing to argue with God for the sake of justice, of
"morality". And we can see that God agreed with Avraham and Moshe, when
they were arguing for the right reasons (as evidenced by the fact that
He did not always give in to them).

And so I think that a higher morality (as mentioned in the Ramban quoted
before) does exist. The generation of the flood was punished, even
though they weren't warned, precisely because they were expected to be
moral, even without (or beyond) divine command.

And I think we can take this one step forward. The Zionist movement,
both secular and religious, was opposed by much of the religious
establishment. And yet this "rebellion" against "halacha" (although I
don't think halacha actually opposed aliya), succeeded. All of religious
Jewry benefits from the "Zionist" state. And I would even go so far as
to say that God agreed with the "rebels", those with the "rosh gadol".
For "unless God builds the house, those who build it labor in vain".

David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Barry Best <barry.h.best@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 15:58:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Coming Late to Shul

regarding coming late to shul... many of the halachos we have in
connection with rading the Torah are specifically because of late comers
to shul.  See Maseches Megillah, the firdst few pages of HaKoray Omed.
Apparently this was a problem even as far back as Talmudic times


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 21:39:31 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Is Halacha a "Ceiling"?

Bill Bernstein's commented on vegetarianism: "a real problem I see
often: many people hold there is a standard of morality that goes above

In response, Jeffrey Bock quoted Rav Yehuda Amital proving that ethics
does not end with that the specific commandments.  Conceding Jeffrey
Bock's points, I see no problem with those who claim vegetarianism to be
a means towards greater holiness.

The key word in Bill Bernstein's comment is _standard_.  For a Jew there
is no _standard_ of morality above Halacha.  Higher levels of morality
are, by definition, above the standard.  Thus, those who say that eating
meat is immoral or unethical are guilty of lashon hara against the many
great Tzadikkim of our tradition who ate meat.

(Analogously, a person who keeps "Chalov Yisrael" should to say, "I do
not rely upon the opinions permitting Chalov Stam."  Considering that
those observant Jews who drink Chalov Stamm do so with the permission of
great rabbeim, saying that ordinary USDA milk is tref is, with respect
to the laws of lashon hara, problematic.)

Frank Silbermann


From: Joel Rich <Joelirich@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 08:36:04 EDT
Subject: Re: Payos

<<  From: Susan Shapiro <SShap23859@...>
 Payos is not the only thing.  There is a difference in religiosity with
 many of us who are much more frum than our parents.  Has that caused any
 damage?  I think that, if it is for religious reasons, and the children
 want to be more religious than the parents, there is no problem. Isn't
 that our goal as parents, to make our children better than us?  My son
 decided to grow his payos cos he wanted to bei n Guiness Book of World
 Records.  It took a while, but we finally convicned him that it wasn't
 going to work, and we trimmed them to the bottom of the ear.  Meshugas?
 I don't know, but I'd rather have it towards something more religious,
 than Chas Vesholom, the oppposite.  >>

With all due respect, your response seems to make the implicit
assumption that one who grows payot(meaning the more obviously visible
type versus sideburns past about mid-ear) is "more religious" than
someone who keeps the commandment in a less visible way. I disagree with
that assumption and would be happy it to discuss the issue at greater

She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,
Joel Rich


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 23:38:39 -0600
Subject: Re: Pronunciation - Ribi and Rabi

Shlomo Godick wrote:
>What is the grammatically correct form: "ribi" or "rabi"?  Or is "ribi"
>correct in Aramaic only, with "rabi" being correct for Hebrew?

I would hazard a guess that the latter is the case. The Hebrew word for
"master" is "rav" or "rab" according to all pronunciations; since the
title "rabi" is supposed to mean "my master," it makes sense that it
would keep the same vowel in the possessive. Also, both Sefardim and
Ashkenazim use the pronunciation "rabban" for the titles of R' Gamliel,
etc., where "rabban" means "our master" - which, again, is evidence that
the singular possessive should indeed be "rabi" (or, actually, "rabee,"
since there's a yud at the end of the word, making the chirik a "long"

On the other hand, in Aramaic, the word for "master" is "ribon" (as in
"Kah Ribon Olam"), so the possessive of that should be "riboni" (as in
Targum Onkelos to Bereishis 18:12) - which might have been cut down to
"ribi" in popular pronunciation.

All of this would mean, then, that Sefardim use the Aramaic form of the
word, and Ashkenazim use the Hebrew form - possible evidence for the
idea proposed by historians, that many of the differences between
Sefardim and Ashkenazim are traceable to the respective usages of Bavel
and Eretz Yisrael in antiquity.

Kol tuv y'all,


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 23:48:58 +0300
Subject: Re:  Slavery (was Vegitarinism)

>From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
>	Hillel brings an intriguing point here.  What happens when Torah
>morality is not in conjunction with pop culture morality?  One of the
>most obvious examples is in terms of slavery, which according to the
>Torah is moral when done properly.  How many people out there are
>willing to say that they believe slavery is moral?

Is the only objection "the world" has to slavery "pop culture morality"?

>	I, in fact, have made that argument on several occasions in my
>college classes.  The basis being that Life and Liberty are invented
>concepts and that slavery bereft of racism does not violate the
>utilitarian view of morality.  However, I would say that most Jews would
>disagree with me on the strongest terms.

In the discussion (which I may participate in, in the event that someone
posts arguments rather than assertions), I urge people to be clear if they
are discussing Eved Ivri and Amah Ivriah (a Jewish "slave", although
bondsman/woman is more accurate, who serves for a limited period, whose
owner is obligated to support the Eved/Amah) or Eved Cnaani and Shifcha
Cnaanit (a non-Jewish slave, who serves for the duration of his or her life
unless freed by the owner (according to some authorities, the owner ought
not to do so), whose owner has no obligation to support the slave (although
the owner is encouraged to do so), children of a female slave are theselves


From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 11:36:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Slavery and Morality

For all our sakes, I hope that when you attend your college classes, you
are well disguised.  Are you saying that the thousands upon thousands of
people who dedicated and often sacrificed their lives to the abolition
of slavery did so in the cause of "pop culture morality"?  How would you
evaluate the morality of monogamy?  Is that another example of "pop
culture morality"?

The Torah is replete with capital offenses, yet R. Elazar b. Azariah
said that a court that imposed the death penalty once in seventy years
was a blood-thirsty court (I forget his exact characterization).  And
R. Akiva and R. Tarphon both said that if they were judges they would
have seen to it that the death penalty was never imposed.  R. Shimon
b. Gamliel criticized them and said that their bleeding-heart approach
would have caused an increase in the amount of innocent blood shed.  But
he apparently wasn't concerned about an increase in Sabbath desecration
or adultery or other capital offenses.  If it is okay to keep adding
chumrot (which we eventually regard as halachically binding) to our
observance of mitzvot bein adam la'makom, why is not okay to add chumrot
to our observance of mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro (which may be morally
and ethically binding as well halachically binding).  The mitzvah of
k'doshim t'hiyu presumes the possibility of being a naval b'r'shut
ha'torah!  , so there is an external standard of morality (which evolves
together with society) that we are also required to observe.

David Glasner


From: Yitzchok Zirkind <Yzkd@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 11:09:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Three Steps Back in Shmoneh Esrei

>  Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...> answers:
>  Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chaim, 123 et al discusses this.  Specifically to
>  your question, Mishna Brura there, middle of seif koton 13, says:

>  Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...> answers:
>  I can't recall any sources per se but I remember my ninth grade rebbe-
>  Rabbi Yitzchak Mann a"h explain that we want to show that we are
>  uncomfortable with leaving God's presence so we start the three steps
>  back at the end of the shemoneh esrei with the left foot (he didn't
>  account for lefties) . He also explained that we didn't need to take
>  three steps back to start the amida only three steps forward. The reason
>  for taking three steps back at the beginning was to make sure there was
>  room for the three steps forward. I don't recall if he mentioned a
>  preferred foot for the three steps at the beginning but I'm not sure if
>  it matters.

The source is the Rokeiach brought in the Ramoh O"C 95:1, while it does
seem that the obligation is only to go forward, and we go back only to
make room, the Yavetz in his Siddur (before Shmone Asrei (19)), says to
go back 3 and return 3 steps, (on the other hand at the end of the
Shmone Asrei, there is Machlokes whether we have to return or not,
Mogein Avrohom 123 (6)), WRT lefties see Mogein Avrohom 123 (10) & Baeir
Heiteiv (9).

Kol Tuv



From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 19:21:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Why Slavery will be Moral in King Mesiah's time

Chaim Shapiro (v29n04) makes the rash remark that "Slavery bereft of
racism does not violate the ultiate view of morality". Despite Chaim's
fears that he would be attacked no one even commented.

So let me add fuel to the fire and explain WHY Slavery is
moral. According to Rav Hirsch slavery is moral because the person who
was sold by the courts was a thief (without enough money to pay).

Under our prison system the person would go to jail, possibly get
involved with criminals, drugs and sex and therefore not come out a
better person.

But our way of doing it is different. The criminal becomes apprenticed
to a single Jew who acts as his mentor and social worker. This person
has total rights over the criminal (monetary, sexual etc). In the ideal
world the Jew uses these rights to show the criminal how to do a descent
days work and treat people nicely. The result: when he "earns back what
he stole" he is a transformed person and goes free.

True in our present world no one individual should be trusted with such
a responsibility (which is why there is no slavery today). But when the
Mesiah comes the slavery method will be preferable to the prison method.

I really think that Chaim and I deserve at least some comments!!!

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Moderator Rashi Is Simple


From: Yossie Abramson <yossie@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 17:42:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Wine

>From: Aryeh Blaut <rebbeb@...>
>I have been asked a number of questions regarding wine and why today 
>the halacha is still that a non-Jew may not have contact with it 
>(obviously I am refering to the non-boiled type).
>Any sources that I can pass along in English to the person asking me
>would be appreciated.

The issur of wine handled by a non-jew today is different than the issur
in the times of the Gemorah. In those days the issur was because of
Yayin Nesach.(wine prepared for idol worship). Nowadays, the issur is
Stam Yayin.  Of course, wine from a church would be the more chumradik
issur of Nesach.



End of Volume 29 Issue 11