Volume 29 Number 60
                 Produced: Thu Aug 19  6:45:46 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Fundamentals of Faith
         [Joseph Adler]
Gentile taking on the yoke of Heaven?
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Hate and Murder
         [Mayer Danziger]
Kashrut of "Biofoods"
         [Jonathan Groner]
Pshat vs Teitch (translation)
         [Joseph Geretz]
Rabbenu Gershom Me'or HaGolah
         [Josh Backon]
Slavery and a Higher Moral Authority
         [David Zilberberg]
Slaves during Moshiach era
         [Richard Wolpoe]
Subject: Polygamy vs Slavery
         [Ezriel Krumbein]


From: Joseph Adler <jadler@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 09:30:37 -0400
Subject: Fundamentals of Faith

I have never received a satisfactory response to the following question.
Perhaps this list would be willing to help.

That is, if the concept of the Mashiach and the after life is so
important to Jewish faith, why then does one have to rely on a
Midrashic-like analysis to prove that the concept of the Messiah is in
fact Biblical in origin?  In particular, respondents of my question
often refer to Genesis Rabbah, Rashi, Onkelos and the Rambam to prove
that the Chumash contemplated the concept of a Messiah.  But why is this
very important article of faith left to such "superficial" exegesis when
the Torah could have explicitly spelled out the concept as it does with
various other Mitzvot? There are several Mitzvot that are enumerated in
the Torah in very clear and understandable language; why then do we need
to rely upon a Remez to prove our point in these cases?

In fact, there are several Mitzvot that appear in Chumash dozens of
times.  The Torah certainly does not mince words when it comes to those
particular Mitzvot.


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 09:02:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Gentile taking on the yoke of Heaven?

Im M-J v29n53

Isaac Zlochower writes, in an excellent post on slavery and a higher

> I also heard the late Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel, Rav Ya'akov
> Weinberg, speak of someone who observes only the letter of the law as
> akin to a gentile who has taken on "the yoke of heaven".  We can do
> better.

Can you elaborate on what R' Weinberg said about Gentiles taking on the
yoke of heaven?  Why would this be seen as a negative thing, as it appears
to in the context?

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>


From: Mayer Danziger <mdanziger@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 10:30:28 -0400
Subject: Hate and Murder

	In last weeks Parasha - Shoftim - the subject of intentional and
unintentional murders are discussed.  After discussing unintentional
murder the verse in in Chap. 19 verse 11 continues with intentional
murder as follows: " But if there will be a man who hates his fellow,
and ambushes him and rises up against him and strikes him mortally and
he dies". Rashi points out the phrase "hates his fellow" precedes the
"ambush" pointing out that his hate is what leads him to murder.
Committing the lesser infraction of "Don't Hate" leads to the much
greater sin of murder.
	First Amendment (free speech) advocates claim that hate
mongering is protected under our Constitution and that there is no
correlation between hate proliferation and violence. The Torah tells us
otherwise. Hate will ultimately lead to murder and the two are directly
	In light of the events in LA last week, I think the Torah is
giving us a very timely message.

Mayer Danziger


From: Jonathan Groner <jgroner@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 99 13:54:28 -0400
Subject: Kashrut of "Biofoods"

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that a Hasidic rabbi from
Brooklyn, an attorney who is a baal teshuvah, and other traditional Jews
(as well as assorted Christians, Buddhists, etc.) have joined a federal
lawsuit against the FDA claiming that "biofoods," which is apparently a
technical term for genetically engineered foods, are contrary to the
Divine plan, and, in the case of Jewish law, nonkosher.

It also quotes Joseph Regenstein of Cornell as saying that biofoods are 
not a problem for even strict kosher certification organizations. 

This may have been discussed before on this list, but is there anything 
that observant Jews should be concerned about here, both from a halachic 
point of view and from the perspective of hashkafah (general outlook on 
moral/ethical issues)?

Jonathan Groner

Editor at Large, Legal Times
Editor of LegalTimes.com


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 13:24:44 -0400
Subject: Pshat vs Teitch (translation)

If I may, I'd like to respond to two different posters in a single
response. From reading some of the responses it seems that I may have
been misunderstood by some readers. Many objections to my original
posting center around the argument that there are many meanings to a
single Pasuk. I'd like to start off by pointing out that my opinion
against accepting simple *translation* is not an opinion against
acepting simple *meaning*. These are two different things. Often, the
simple translation corresponds to at least one simple meaning. sometimes
however, the simple *translation* runs contrary to the simple meaning
and in these cases the simple *translation* must be discarded in favor
of the true *meaning* or *meanings*.

I originally wrote:
>Therefore, when reading the written Torah we must *always* look to
>the commentators for guidance as to whether the translation is
>sufficient for us to gain proper understanding, or whether the
>translation must be modified in the context of the explanation from the
>Oral Torah in order for us to gain a correct understanding.

Eli Clark responded:
> You refer also to the "proper" or "correct"
> understanding, as if there is only one such understanding, a very
> dubious notion, in my opinion.

I think you misunderstood me. I did not mention *the* proper or *the*
correct understanding. Both references were to *a* correct or proper
understanding. I fully agree that there is often more than one Pshat or
meaning to the Pasuk. My advice was directed toward avoiding an improper
or incorrect understanding. By looking to the commentaries for guidance
we can avoid improper understanding in cases where simple *translation*
runs counter to the *meaning* of the Pasuk, as in the case of Ayin
Tachas Ayin (an eye for an eye).

Eli Clark responded:
> Indeed, your discussion raises a more
> fundamental question: why didn't the Torah simply write "money for an
> eye," if that were its intent?  One explanation, which I heard from my
> rebbe, R. Amital (suggested by others as well), is that the Torah is
> teaching us that the villain in question deserves to lose his eye,
> though the bet din (Jewish court) requires monetary payment instead.

Beautiful! I love this Pshat. However, this is not simple *translation*
anymore. You yourself call it an *explanation*. In fact, a prominent
part of the Pshat is the qualiifer *deserves* to lose his eye. If you
look to the *translation* of the Pasuk though, you will not find the
word *deserves* anywhere to be found.

I originally wrote:
> It must be accepted that many many parts of Torah SheBichsav simply
> cannot be understood without being explained by Torah SheB'al
> Peh.

David and Toby Curwin responded:
> Why *must* it be accepted? I respectfully disagree. I believe that there
> is significance to the plain meaning (pshat) of the Written Torah.

If this is not the case, please explain the reasons for the Six books of
the Mishna, the vast writings of the Talmud, both Babylonian and
Yerushalmi as well as the vast number of commentaries which explain and
elucidate the meaning, parameters and guidelines, of the Written
Law. Please explain the *meaning* of Honor your father and your
mother. How should we honor our parents? To what extent? Do I need to
spend my own money? Must I allow my parents to insult me? Remember the
Sabbath and keep it holy: How? May fires burn in our houses on Shabbos?
How should we put on Tephillin Shel Rosh? Do we position these directly
between our eyes? Etc, etc, etc.

Also, your statment that there is significance to the *plain meaning*
does not contradict my assertion that there are certain instances where
there is no significance to the *plain translation*. Obviously, every
word of Torah is significant and filled with layers upon layers
meaning. It is the *simple translation* which is sometimes incorrect and
at odds with the *simple meaning*.

Having said that, I agree with you that in the vast majority of cases
there is significance to the literal translation. However there are
still many instances where the literal translation runs *contrary* to
the simple meaning of the Pasuk. With that in mind, it would behoove us
to check with the commentaries to ensure that our understanding gained
by superficial translation does not run counter to the meaning of the

I originally wrote:
> Therefore, when reading the written Torah we must *always* look to
> the commentators for guidance

David and Toby Curwin responded:
> Again, which commentators? We can find dozens of commentaries on almost
> every verse, some of whom are closer to pshat and some who are closer to
> drash. And even the ones who claim to be representing pshat disagree
> with one another.
> And yet there are different interpretations. See Ibn Ezra, Rashbam and
> Targum Yonatan. Which one is Pshat?

Look to all of them. Eilu Va'Eilu Divrei Elokim Chaim. I don't think we
fundamentally disagree with each other. My contention was against
universally accepting *literal translation* as *Pshat* without checking
the comentaries. Sometime the literal translation is Pshat. In many
cases it is only one of many Pshatim because the Torah is so deep and
vast, with layer upon layer of meaning. In other cases though, the
*simple translation* runs counter to P'shat and should be diregarded in
favor of the proper *meaning*. In these cases, the proper *meaning* is
derived from the literal words, (and the literal words may contain other
layers upon layers of hidden meaning) however the simple *translation*
is simply incorrect.

If I had a third grader who came home reciting "Ayin Tachas Ayin - an
eye for an eye". I would not think, "Oh, very nice. Today they
translated, tomorrow they will learn Pshat". I'd be on the phone to the
Rebbi in an instant asking "what in the world are you teaching!!??".

Eli Clark wrote:
> Derosh ve-kabbel sakhar (interpret and receive your reward)!

Absolutely! But make sure you get it right - check with your

Kol Tuv,
Yossi Geretz


From: Josh Backon <BACKON@...>
Date: Tue,  17 Aug 1999 14:09 +0200
Subject: Rabbenu Gershom Me'or HaGolah

Rabbenu Gershom b"r Yehuda (Me'Or Ha'Golah) was born in the Lothar area
of Germany in 4728 (968 CE) and died in the year 4800 (1040 CE). He was
the talmid of R. Yehuda haZaken b"r Meir haKohen Leontin in the yeshiva
in Mainz. According to the Tshuvat HaMEHARSHAL, Rabbenu Gershom was also
the talmid of R. Hai Gaon. His students (R.Yaakav ben Yakkar and
R. Yitzchak haLevi were the teachers of Rashi.

The connection to Italy may be in the fact that the first yeshiva in
Mainz was set up by Rabbenu Moshe ben Kelonemos from Locca, Italy.

Josh Backon


From: David Zilberberg <ZilbeDa@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 09:22:55 -0400
Subject: RE: Slavery and a Higher Moral Authority

I agree with the posters who point to other non-halakhic sources such as
kiddush hashem (sanctifying God's name) and "you shall do what is good
and righteous" as sources for morality above halakha, and would add that
perhaps the most compelling argument against slavery is contained in
bereishis when God creates man "in His image." Whats troubling about
these arguments is that they run counter to the blackletter halakha-
slavery is not just permitted, but halkha seems designed to perpetuate
it- one who frees his non-jewish slave transgresses a positive
commendment. There is no equivilent duty, for example, not to divorce a
second wife.


From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 15:47:39 -0400
Subject: Slaves during Moshiach era

From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...> 
>Some recent postings suggest that slaves can't own and can be beaten as
> much as a master wants. Richard Walpole countersuggests that slaves
> have a POW status.  

Several clarifying points.
 1) The above was my suggestion wrt to Eved Canaani or non-Jewish
slaves.  A typical scenario was that they were captives or POW's.
 2) Eved Ivri (Hebrew Slaves) I compared to "indentured servants".
 3) No Torah-based model I know of is similar to the American type of
Slavery.  I think basic human diginity is a given in the Torah, even
extending to executed criminals (see this weeks Torah reading re:
"Killelas Elhim Toluy" Deut: 21:23).
 4) I am not taking sides as to will happen during the Moshiach era re:
slaves.  I can say that our current forms of incarceration are perhaps
as inhumane as any Torah sanctioned slavery.  Not to mention that other
societies today still engage in torture, etc.  Certainly US prisoners of
war during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam will likely think slavery as a
welcome alternative.

Rich Wolpoe (and for the record not Walpole) 


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 00:00:04 -0700
Subject: Subject: Polygamy vs Slavery

> From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
> Rabbi Amnon Haramati. Rabbi Haramati pointed out that WITHOUT EXCEPTION
> every polygamous marriage in Tenach had strife due to the polygamy (eg
> Sarah and Hagar, Rachael and Leah, Chana and Peninah). Therefore we
> can encourage its prohibition.
> But we can only encourage the prohibition of slavery if NO good ever
> comes out of it. 

I think there is a big difference between no good and without exception
causing strife.  Do you count the birth of the shevatim as no good?

Kol Tov


End of Volume 29 Issue 60