Volume 29 Number 47
                 Produced: Thu Aug 12  6:14:22 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cancer in Israel and Operation Refuah
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Morality of slavery (3)
         [Shmuel Himelstein, Jay F Shachter, Rachel Rosencrantz]
Sheasani Kirtsono
         [Jay Rovner]
South Park (3)
         [Zev Sero, Chaim Shapiro, Alana Suskin]


From: Carl M. Sherer <csherer@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 1999 15:03:03 +0300
Subject: Cancer in Israel and Operation Refuah

Robert Israel writes:

> As for cancer, according to the WHO Databank
> (http://www-dep.iarc.fr/dataava/globocan/who.htm), in 1994 Israel's
> age-standardized rate of mortality from all cancers was 129.2 per
> 100000 for males and 104.3 for females, while the US had 160.6 for
> males and 109.9 for females.  Again, especially for males, Israel is
> doing very well.

Well, yes, until you consider that from 1981-92 those rates were under
120 for males, and for all but two years from 1982-89 it was under 100
for females. Those are pretty sharp increases over the last 7-10 years.

The US rate has been over 160 for males since 1976 (it actually dropped
below 160 for the first time in 1995 and 1996), and has been between 108
and 111.4 for women every year since 1958.

It seems to me that the rate has been increasing much faster in Israel
than it has in the US, R"L.

-- 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: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 13:18:29 +0300 
Subject: Morality of slavery

Somehow, I find it hard to accept the view that the only reason we think
slavery is immoral is because we have been conditioned to think so. It
seems to me that we don't have to look very far to see that the Torah
disapproves of slavery - certainly in terms of Jews.

The simplest proof is that of the Eved Nirtzah, the Jewish slave who,
when his servitude is up, decides that he would rather remain a
slave. His ear is pierced, says the Midrash, because the ear which heard
"Avadai haim" - they are My servants - and then voluntarily accepted
slavery, deserves to be pierced. To me, this is a clear example that the
Torah posits that slavery is a B'di'avad (ex post facto) construct, and
not a LeChatchila (ab initio) construct. In other words, it seems to me
- and again I say, at least in terms of Jews, the Torah regards the
institution as an evil - even if under certain circumstances it might be
a necessary evil.

To say that this institution will then be restored at the time of the
Mashiach would seem to negate all the logic of the above.

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 09:05:16 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Morality of slavery

Concerning Persons as Property and Human Rights in Ancient Israel and
the United States:

On Wed, 28 Jul 1999 16:02:44 -0400 someone wrote:
>  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.

The author of the above excerpt appears to be comparing the culture
and society of ancient Israel to the culture and society of America.

I do not know about other American countries, but it appears from
context that the author's two cited references to "America" denote,
specifically, the United States of America, and that is what I shall
assume in my remarks.

Apparently the author of the above excerpt is unfamiliar with the
Constitution and laws of the United States.  Although the
Constitution, as currently amended, appears to forbid involuntary
servitude, it is not inimical in any way to one man being the property
of another.  This is quite clear from the Uniform Code of Military
Justice, though perhaps not in any other set of laws currently in
force among the various jurisdictions of this country.  Under the
Uniform Code of Military Justice, if two drunken sailors beat each
other up while on shore leave, each of them can be charged with
"destroying government property".  The same applies to a serviceman
who harms his own body, for that matter.  For example, a soldier who
goes to the beach on his day off and gets sunburned can be found
guilty of "destroying government property".

A more difficult problem is the clause in the thirteenth amendment
which forbids slavery and involuntary servitude, yet military
conscription, undeniably a form of involuntary servitude, has been
practiced in this country many times.  But it has been long recognized
by jurists in this country that clauses in the Constitution can
contradict each other.  Congress is given the power to wage war, and
the doctrine of "implied powers" as first articulated by John Marshall
in McColloch v Madison has been understood to mean that if Congress
has the power to wage war, then it must have the power to wage war
effectively, which includes, e.g., the power to conscript, even though
such power be inimical to the thirteenth amendment.  Another good
example is, inter alia, the Korematsu case.  No clear-thinking person
disputes that the collective incarceration of citizens of Japanese
descent during World War 2 was a denial of equal protection of the
laws (a right guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment), but courts
consistently found that the act was a legitimate exercise of the
Congressional power to wage war notwithstanding that it denied
citizens a right seemingly granted by the Constitution (and, in fact,
it is only State governments, not the Federal government, that are
prevented by the fourteenth amendment from denying its citizens the
equal protection of the laws).  All Jews who live in exile and think
that the laws of the land will protect us should read Korematsu v
United States, 323 U.S. 214; 65 S. Ct. 193; 89 L. Ed. 194 (1944).

I am not intimately familiar with the "pop culture" of ancient
Israel.  We have a more complete record of the laws of ancient Israel
than of its "pop culture".  It appears that slavery, despite its
legality, never developed there to any significant degree, and it
could very well be that the "pop culture" of Israel found slavery
every bit as repugnant as does the "pop culture" of the United States
by which the author of the above excerpt claims to have been
brainwashed.  But if we compare those components of the culture which
are more accurately known -- i.e., the laws -- we find that the United
States is closer to ancient Israel's explicit acceptance of slavery
than anyone has yet admitted.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St
			Chicago IL  60645-4111

From: Rachel Rosencrantz <rachelr@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 02:28:22 -0400
Subject: Morality of slavery

>From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
>Russell Hendel writes:
> <<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). >>
>What about those who were sold as slaves because of inability to pay
>debts, or because they were so poor, that they had no other way to
>support themselves or their families? Rav Hirsch's reasoning would not
>seem to apply.

First off, what we commonly think of as slavery (ala slavery in the USA)
is quite different from what slavery is defined as in the Torah.

It is said "He who acquires a slave acquires a master."  (Kiddushin)
After looking at the laws of slavery (at least a slave who is a Jew) its
hard to see why anyone would want to have slaves.

In a case where a person is sold as a slave because of their inability
to pay back for crime, part of the purpose of slavery is that the one
who owns the slave will teach by example how to live morally (not commit
the crime they got arrested for) and how to provide for oneself.

In the case where someone sold themselves as a slave because they had no
money, likewise it is intended as a period for the person to learn how
to live on their own.  At the end of 7 years the slave is to go free.
If the slave chooses to stay it is seen as a problem.

The slave master, in the mean time, must treat the slave according to
the way they are accustomed to be treated.  Provide them with proper
clothing and housing.  Abuse is strictly prohibited.  Although it is
called slavery it is in many ways more like a long term contract for
live in help.  Room and board is the payment (plus the payment up

The Torah does not permit things or more specifically command things
because "it's human nature" to want these things or "human tendancy" to
do certain things.  The Torah permits things because by doing these
things we uplift and transform the world.  Certainly they can be done
the wrong way, or with the wrong spirit. But if the Torah outlines it as
a mitzvah it is a G-dly thing and moral and just.



From: Jay Rovner <jarovner@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Aug 1999 14:16:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Sheasani Kirtsono

	There is a remarkable comment on this berakhah from the siddur
of Zvi Elimelekh of Dinow (1785-1841), the author of Bene Yisa(s)khor.
The siddur is called: Siddur Bene Yisa(s)khar.
	"the Tur wrote 'that women have have accustomed themselves
(nahgu) to recite sheasani kirtsono etc. which is like someone
justifying a judgment upon himself.'
	"this is not acceptable to me, for what 'justifying of a
judgment could there be,' which implies that she was guilty of a certain
sin before being created, for which reason she was created female. In my
opinion, the [reason for this berakhah is like R. Abbahu contrasted the
passages 'male and female he created them' and 'in the image of God he
created the adam. How are we to understand this? [as follows:] that He
first thought to create two, and in the end He only one was
created. According this, then, afterwards, when ha-Shem took the rib and
created a female from it, then the thought (which was the initial
desire) was completed. It is for this reason that women recite 'sheasani
	Comments on the R. Z.E.'s commentary.  1. I think that he means
that the berakhah has nothing to do with anything but the manner in
which Eve (and, symbolised by her, all women) were created. It was more
complicated than the creation of men, and took longer to bring
about. Hence it was miraculous, similar to shabbat which came to round
out creation: sof maaseh be-mahahsavah tehilah (though it was realized
last, it was first in the mind of the creator). If the analogy is
correct, then the comparison with shabbat makes it clear that 'sheasani
kirtsono' is a blessing of praise. (it balances 'she-lo asani ishah'
nicely, valuaing gender differences; perhaps Z.E. has women's blessing
even greater?)
 2. Historical quibble re: the plain sense of the Tur: I think the Tur
meant that women are acknowledging that they do not have as many mitsvot
(rashi?'s point about 'she-lo asani ishah'). The berakhah is also
mentioned in Abudraham, a spanish commentary on the siddur from the same
14th cent. (same as the Tur)
 3. Z.E.'s initial comment could be applied to the undesirable
situations that MAY result from (ill-chosen) apologetics.


From: Zev Sero <zsero@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:51:21 -0400
Subject: Re: South Park

South Park delights in spitting in the face of political correctness.
Yes, its portrayal of Judaism as practised by the Broflovsky family
is often completely wrong, but then they make absolutely no attempt
to get it right.  It's been pretty much established (especially in
the `Mr Hanky' episode) that the Broflovskys know very little about
Judaism, to the extent that pretty much all Kyle knows is that Jews
have to have a bris and that he can't celebrate Christmas (`Chanukah
is nice but why is it/that Santa passes over my house every year?').
As the character thumbnail description at southparkmovie.com puts it,
`Kyle's the smart one, the reasonable member of the group. And yes,
he's Jewish, but he doesn't know exactly what that means...'.
Unfortunately that is the state of Judaism among many Jews nowadays.

As for Kyle's dad being a grasping lawyer in the `Sexual Harrassment'
episode, grow up.  There's no antisemitism in it, he's just a character.
It's not as if they came up with his character just for that episode
and decided `hey, let's make him Jewish, because Jews are all like

From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 17:24:41 EDT
Subject: South Park

    South Park is a very popular cartoon, especially on College Campuses.  
The references you made, to Jewbilee and to Kyle's greedy Father are 
accurate.  However I have to wonder, at what point should we be upset?  Yes, 
South Park ridicules and misrepresents Judaism.  However it does the same to 
all Religions.  If one takes offense at South Park, it should be for its lewd 
contents, not the fact that on occasion they throw in a Jewish joke.
    How many shows can be attacked for anti Jewish content?  Most all 
comedies!  But let me conclude by saying, no one in their right mind 
(Especially if they are religious) should watch a show with such blatant and 
obvious sexual content (myself included).  What makes it worse is that the 
show is packaged as a cartoon which attracts children.  
Chaim Shapiro

From: Alana Suskin <alanamscat@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 20:20:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: South Park

I would really try not to worry too much about ugly portrayals of Jews
on South Park --after all it IS a show that regularly features talking
excrement as a character...

Alana Suskin


End of Volume 29 Issue 47