Volume 29 Number 32
                 Produced: Mon Aug  2  5:40:14 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halakha and a "higher" Morality
         [Joel Rich]
Hashgachos as Moral Authorities
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Lifnei Ivair & Glatt Yacht (2)
         [Zvi Weiss, Shlomo Godick]
Meat During the Nine Days
         [Joshua Hoffman]
Shir HaShirim and Megillas Esther
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Slavery (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Richard Wolpoe]


From: Joel Rich <Joelirich@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 08:33:06 EDT
Subject: Re: Halakha and a "higher" Morality

<<  In MJ 29.11 Frank Silbermann cites my comment and an opposing one on
 vegetarianism and a "higher" morality.

 > In response, Jeffrey Bock quoted Rav Yehuda Amital proving that ethics
 > does not end with that the specific commandments. 

 I should have picked up on this one sooner.  We have specific mitzvos
 both bein odom l'makom and bein odom l'chovero.  Additionally we have
 chumros on both these.  Further there are eitzos tovos from Chazal.
 Wherever we read about some unusual piece of behavior from a godol,
 frequently there is often a source attached to it.  So my question
 stands: what is the source of the "higher" morality that people
 frequently cite?  >>

I'm not sure what "higher" means but the concept of "morality" not
covered by a "specific" commandment is well established. See the Ramban
on "kedoshim tihiyu" which he sees as an overarching principle of not
being a boor within the confines of specific tora rules.

Kol Tuv,
Joel Rich


From: Carl M. Sherer <csherer@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 15:46:59 +0300
Subject: Hashgachos as Moral Authorities

Michael and Abby Pitkowsky write:

 Now a little
> political commentary, if hashgahot are going to be the moral authority
> of kosher establishments then how about they start with the cash
> register, i.e. are the books legally in order, do they pay taxes
> properly, treat employees properly-i.e. on the books and on time with
> Soc. Security,etc. Often people can be very selective as to what is a
> transgression, and more often than not (IMHO) real transgressions which
> not even open to differing interpretations are often somehow overlooked.

I am very sympathetic (to say the least) with the notion that business
proprietors should pay their bills on time and act in accordance with
the law. But I think it's important to point out that a Rabbinic
supervisor is there to protect the public - you and me - to make sure
that OUR experience in a restaurant conforms to Halachic
standards. While withholding employees' paychecks and cheating the
government on taxes may be crimes and violations of Halacha, I don't
commit a sin by eating in a restaurant that does those things. I do
commit a sin by eating in a restaurant that is not Kosher and by looking
at things I am not supposed to look at.

-- Carl M. Sherer
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, 
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel. 
Thank you very much.


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 21:55:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Lifnei Ivair & Glatt Yacht

> From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
> >From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
> >In the case of Glatt Yacht, it seems that since there would NOT be any
> >other "opportunity" of "mixed dancing", to enable to event *would* be (at
> >the least) a serious problem of Lifnei Ivair. (This -- in addition to the
> >other factors already cited.)
> I don't know how much of a clientele there is for (glatt) kosher food
> followed by mixed dancing (which is why I'm surprized that someone tried
> to set up such a setting in the first place), but I would suppose that
> they could eat a (glatt) kosher dinner at a restaurant and then go
> somewhere else to dance.

 That is NOT the same as having a "mixed dancing affair" *where* one is
eating.  The notion of having a "dinner party" seems to be that people
want to dance *where they eat*.  So, the alternative cited above does
not seem to avoid the issue of lifnei ivair.

> >BTW, I am not sure that there is a heter for public mixed dancing even if
> >it is restricted to married couples... One item that comes to mind is that
> >some of the women may not be tehoros at the time -- but be a bit
> >"ill at ease" publicizing their status by sitting out all of the dances...
> They could go another night?

 In *every* case of lifnei ivair, the "sinner" is in a position where he
or she "could" avoid the sin.  The point is that without the one
violating Lifnei Ivair, the "sinner" would NOT BE ABLE to sin and you
are now making that a real possibility.

> >Also, what happens if a husband asks another woman to dance ... would the
> >dancing be halted??
> If a patron fails to wash or say berachot before eating, should the food be
> taken away?

 There have been shailot about food being served where there may not be
berachot made... the answer seems to be that eating food -- per se -- is
OK and the lack of Berachot is not considered a "lifnei ivair" issue
(for various reasons).  I am not sure if this can be compared to mixed
dancing where MOST FORMS are not allowed and only a narrow subset would
be "permittted" (maybe -- it appears that our CURRENT poskim do not
allow even husband/wife mixed dancing in public.


From: Shlomo Godick <shlomog@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 21:20:21 +0200
Subject: re: Lifnei Ivair & Glatt Yacht

Stuart Wise wrote:  <<
I think the explanation is "treif by association."  Kashrus
organizations want to appeal to the strictest adherents of kashrus, and
one could imagine that those who would turn their nose down to what they
deem inappropriate entertainment would somehow feel, irrationally, that
it would reflect on the kashrus organization.  >>

Why is this irrational?  In the 70's and 80's many people chose not to
do business with companies having dealings with South Africa, even
though these companies were otherwise reputable, financially responsible
companies.  For idealistic reasons (or for reasons of maintaining a
proper, politically correct image), people and organizations refused to
compartmentalize their moral objections to apartheid and boycotted these

Surely a kashrus supervisory agency has a similar right to withdraw its
supervision from an affair which it regards as ethico-morally offensive,
even if the objections do not impinge directly on the matter of kashrus
itself.  A Jew should be at least as idealistic and self-sacrificing in
matters of halacha as the Gentile world is in preserving its set of
universal values.

Moreover, if the kashrus supervisory agency had gone ahead with the
supervision, they could have been accused of compromising their
principles for pecuniary advantage.  People would quite rationally
conclude that such an unscrupulous organization could not be relied upon
in its kashrus.

Michael Pitkowsky wrote:  <<
As far as I know the gemara says that the only cases which are yehareg
ve'al yaavor are idol worship, bloodshed and gilui arayot, sexual
transgressions of a very specific nature (Sanhedrin 74a).  Not only do I
see no way that mixed dancing can be categorized as gilui arayot but
there didn't seem to be any persecution happening on the Glatt Yacht
which would warrant even the use of this terminology. >>

Poskim appear to extend this terminology when they want to emphasize the
severity of the transgression and the requirement to desist at all
costs. For example, the Chazon Ish ruled that merely politely shaking a
woman's outstretched hand (thereby avoiding embarrassment) is prohibited
as yehareg ve'al yaavor (see Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky (the "Steipler"),
Taharas Am Yisrael, p. 44).  Where are the persecution and sexual
transgressions in such a scenario?

Kol tuv,
Shlomo Godick


From: Joshua Hoffman <JoshHoff@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 19:54:31 EDT
Subject: Re: Meat During the Nine Days

<<  There is a story about Rav Kook.  A workplace under rabbanut hashgacha
 served only milchig on the nine days.  Most of the nonobservant workers
 decided to eat at a nonkosher meat restaurant.  Rav Kook then decided
 that it was better that the observant workers eat meat and the others
 kasher, than that the observant workers eat dairy and the others trafe.
 I think it is still the standard in most rabbanut restaurants to
 continue to serve meat on the nine days.  >>

This story is told by Zvi Kaplan in his book BeShipulei Glimaso.Some of
the details presented above aren't entirely accurate. Rav Kook was
consulted before the nine days as to whether the restaurant could serve
meat during the nine days,because the non-observant workers would go
elsewhere- i.e., non-kosher places - to eat meat if the cheaper
restaurant served only dairy in that period.Rav Kook replid that the
restaurant shold serve meat,and the observant workers could also eaat
the meat.The reason he gave was that they would be influencing Jews to
eat kosher,which is a itzvah,and therefore it was a seudas mitzvah, in
which it is permissible to eat meat.


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 17:18:46 +0300
Subject: RE: Shir HaShirim and Megillas Esther

Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>

> First of all, we need to differentiate between plain meaning (peshat) and
> lessons to derive from the text (derush). This thread so far has been
> dealing with peshat; you're introducing a new angle, that of derush.
> Normally, it's perfectly true that the peshat is more or less equivalent
> to the literal translation. But there are exceptions, such as "bein
> einecha" (in connection with tefillin), whose literal translation is
> "between your eyes," but whose peshat, as transmitted to us by our Sages
> in an unbroken chain of mesorah as part of Torah SheBaal Peh, is "in the
> middle of your forehead." In short, we're not the ones who determine
> what's peshat and what's not; we rely on what our Sages tell us, 

I have a lot of difficulty with the above posting, and I would like to
relate to it at some length. But I'd like to ask a few questions first:

a) What is your source that there is a difference between plain meaning
(pshat) and literal translation?

b) If plain meaning refers to pshat, what would the Hebrew term be for
literal translation?

c) What is your source that "we" can not determine what peshat is?

d) Who are the Sages who can? (The Rabbis of the Talmud, Rishonim,
Achronim, the local shul rabbi)

I recommend reading Rav Mordechai Breuer's introduction to Pirkei
Moadot, in the article "HaPshatot HaMitchadshim B'chol Yom". He quotes
the Rashbam on "v'avdu l'olam" (they shall serve you forever) - Shmot
21:6. The Rashbam says: " L'olam - according to the pshat, all the days
of his life. But Chazal interpreted (darshu): Olam means 50 years".  It
would seem that "all the days of his life" is both pshat and literal
translation, and the chazal interpretation is 50 years.

Another excellent work on pshat is Rav Menachem Kasher's article:
"Pshuto Shel Mikra", which appears in the appendix to Torah Shleimah,
Parshat Mishpatim.

Again, I'd like to quote more, but if we say that pshat doesn't mean
literal translation, I'm not sure where to start.

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 16:02:44 -0400
Subject: re: Slavery

In MJ 29:25, Michael Rogovin writes <<< Slavery, in common usage, was
for an indefinite amount of time, the owner could do anything he or she
wished to the slave, and the slave was mere property and had no rights
as a person.  This is certainly not the Torah's view. >>>

I wish that I could agree with him on this. But please refer to the
Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 304, entitled "Which kind of eved must rest
on Shabbos".  The Mishna Brura there, in paragraph one, uses the
following phrase to distinguish between an eved (who is the subject of
the chapter) and an employee (who is not): "Eved hakanui l'yisrael
kinyan haguf" - "An eved acquired by a Jew, where the body is acquired."
And he uses that phrase *twice*!!! I'm sorry folks, but I cannot come up
with a more "politcally correct" way to translate this phrase. The body
of an eved is property, and is owned by someone else.

You can tell me that the owner may not mistreat his eved. You can tell
me that no human owns his body, but that HaShem does. You can tell me
that I am being overly picky on the Mishna Brura's words, and that he
did not mean this in a technical and halachic sense. You can tell me all
that, but the bottom line is the *attitude* expressed here by the
Chofetz Chaim, that one Ben Adam can be the *property* of another Ben
Adam, and that *attitude* is extraordinarily repugnant to the "pop
culture morality" of today, and even to many Americans more than a
century *prior* to the Mishna Brura.

I am not necessarily saying that I feel slavery is wrong. I am saying
that American culture has brainwashed me into *thinking* that it is
wrong, and has done such a good job of this brainwashing, that I am
unable to imagine how morality could be otherwise. And that is basically
a restatement of the question of this entire thread: Is there a morality
distinct of halacha or not?

Akiva Miller

From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 11:45:19 -0400
Subject: Slavery

From: Michael & Bonnie Rogovin <rogovin@...> 

>> As I understand the permissible forms of eved, the Torah permits
indentured servitude, with many caveats.  Indeed, the treatment of such
servants is, in some respects, more demanding on the "owner" than modern
day labor law imposes on employers. Slavery, in common usage, was for an
indefinite amount of time, the owner could do anything he or she wished
to the slave, and the slave was mere property and had no rights as a
person.  This is certainly not the Torah's view.<<

Indeed.  I think the concept of Hebrew Slave (eved Ivri) as more akin to
"indentured servant".  While that too is NOT a fllatering title, it has
fewer misanthopic overtones such as those assoicated with slavery in

As for Eved Knaani (IOW a non-Jewish slave) the term POW or captive might be 
more appropos.  Again, hardly a position of dignity, but still a position with 
definite human rights.

Rich Wolpoe


End of Volume 29 Issue 32