Volume 29 Number 67
                 Produced: Sun Aug 29 11:05:50 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An Eye for an Eye
         [Richard Wolpoe]
Breuer's tanach
         [Joseph Tabory]
Gender in Translation
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Girl's school uniforms
         [David Charlap]
Hate and Murder (2)
         [Chanie Eisenberg, Jeff Silver]
Pshat of "in the city"
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Rambam in Egypt
         [Ari Z. Zivotofsky]
         [Gershon Dubin]
Why Bais Yaakov schools use Uniform Outfits
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 17:07:51 -0400
Subject: An Eye for an Eye

From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 09:15:46 EDT 

> The discussion of the "literal meaning" of verses in Torah becomes
> confusing because many posters seem to think that the terms "literal
> meaning" and "p'shat" are synonymous.

David will recall the late Mr. Berniker from Hartford.  He once told me
pithily: "A translation is like a woman; the more beautiful the less
faithful, the more faithful, the less beautiful..."

Russel Hendel's point re: context is well taken.  As such, I would
consider "an eye for an eye" to be a legal idiom, similar to "habeus
corpus".  Habeus corpus literally means produce a corpse.  The PESHAT as
I understand it is either charge my client with a specific crime or let
him go.

So the literal eye for an eye might mean take out an eye, but as a legal
idiom it means one must justly or fairly compensate for an eye (simlar
to a pound of flesh no more no less?! <smile>).

My rebbe, R. Yeruchim Gorelick asked us rhetorically, if the Torah meant
financial compensation, why doesn't the Torah just say so literally?!
{Briefly} He pointed out that since we humans cannot exact the precise
heavenly justice therefore we are limited to the monetray aspect. (The
Talmud eloborates several cases in which the literal punishment would be
unjust).  However, on a heavenly plane, the attacker serves to lose an
eye, therefore the Torah used a harsh idiom to teach us a point on a
spiritual level, too; i.e. the attacker deserves to lose an eye, even
though the court can only go so far as to make the attacker pay.  The
idiom therefore works on several levels, the peshat re: the halochoh is
monetary, however the peshat re: the how we view the evil of poking out
an eye is more severe.

Rich Wolpoe


From: Joseph Tabory <taborj@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 17:24:13 +0000
Subject: Re: Breuer's tanach

I think that the big discussion in B'nei Brak is about megillat esther
which survived in the keter. Articles and pamphlets have been published
about this issue. I believe that the proponents of "tradition" claim that
any attempt to "restore" what was true many years ago is basically
'reform". This does not fit in with the idea that the Torah was given in
Vilna about 200 years ago and anything that was true at that time can never
be changed. In a similar vein, the latest attempt to publish a "siddur
hagra" includes an introduction by R. Serayah Deblitzky in which he states
that we can not change the tradition as it has developed to go back to the
customs of the Gra. Although he does seem to admit that a new community
could adopt the customs of the Gra.

Joseph Tabory
Department of Talmud, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 59200
tel. at home: (972) 2-6519575
email: <taborj@...>


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 12:40:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Gender in Translation

a slight tangent from the translation question:

in languages such as english where only personal pronouns are gendered
(as opposed to french where all pronouns have gender or hungarian where
not even personal pronouns have gender), what is the least halachically
problematic way of translating pronouns which refer to hashem?

the current practise is to translate "hu" as "he," but it was pointed
out to me by a reform jew that to an anglophone ear, "he" always implies a
person (or perhaps something we ascribe personality to, such as a pet),
and may thus cause someone to unthinkingly anthropomorphise g-d,
especially in a culture where the majority religion's god is somewhat 
regularly pictured in and spoken about as if it had human form.

to change the way of translating into english, of course, holds the
problem of appearing to endorse a course of action which has led a tiny
minority to rewrite the -hebrew- liturgy, though i was told that the
practise in most reform synagogues is to simply replace every pronoun
with a proper noun in reading translations.

this quandry seems to be situated firmly between "ways of the gentiles"
and "ways of other movements."  i'm not sure which is worse.



From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 16:54:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Girl's school uniforms

Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...> writes:
> I don't have an answer for this, but perhaps I can amplify the
> question.  What about wearing a jacket and tie? (Note that some
> chassidim deliberately do not wear ties, and that they dress with
> long coats rather than short jackets.)

I don't think the preferred chassidic dress is really relevant here.  It
should be noted that the long coats and felt hats were the way bankers
and other businessmen all dressed in Eastern Europe in the 18th century.
(With some small changes - like coats that button right-over- left
instead of left-over-right.)

At the time the chassidic movements got started, they were dressing very
much like non-Jewish businessmen of the time.  The fact that they didn't
change when the rest of Europe changed say something, but I'm not sure

-- David


From: Chanie Eisenberg <crew-esq@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 11:46:44 -0400
Subject: Hate and Murder

Mayer Danziger <mdanziger@...> brought up an interesting point
from Parshas Shoftim, describing how hatred leads to murder. He then
adds that

>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. 

I obviously can't speak for all defenders of the First Amendment, but I
do not agree that the Constition denies, or even addresses, the
correlation between hate and violence.

Light is the best antidote to darkness. We cannot expect hate groups to
just go away if we pretend not to see them. When hate groups are not
allowed to demonstrate publicly, their message is still spread
underground, but it cannot be publicly refuted. But when, as happened
recently in DC, there are more counter-demonstrators than Neo-Nazis at a
Neo-Nazi rally (four marchers showed up), we send a very strong message
condemning hate.

Chanie Eisenberg

From: Jeff Silver <silverjeff@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 09:45:14 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Hate and Murder

Mr. Danziger misconstrues the argument of First Amendment advocates.
The argument proceeds from the assumption that the "correlation between
hate proliferation and violence" may be perfect.  The Constitution
nonetheless protects expressions of hatred, unless they incite imminent

There are many sound reasons for this policy.  First, while the line
between hate and non-hate may seem clear in many cases, it is in fact
very fuzzy.  Once the government arrogates to itself the power to draw
such a content-based line, we (the people) will have no control over
where the government draws it.  What happens, for example, when the
right-wing zealots gain political ascendancy (in your city, county,
state, nation).  Never forget that the teaching of Torah was banned in
the time of R. Akiva because the Romans viewed it as a threat.

Second, outlawing hate is bound to be stunningly ineffective.  Such a
policy will not eradicate hate.  It's harder work than that, the work of
tikkun olam.  The greatest lawgiver of them all, Moshe rabbeinu, was
unable to eradicate hate with Torah alone.  Can one honestly expect the
Congress of the United States to better him?  So-called "hate crime"
laws are, in the words of Justice Brandeis, the work of "men of zeal,
well-meaning, but without understanding."


Jeff Silver


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 17:31:11 +0300
Subject: Pshat of "in the city"

David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> wrote:

>Sometimes, for example, a
>midrash can actually provide the "p'shat" of a verse, which would be a
>far cry from its literal meaning. For example, in Bereishit 18:26 the
>words "in the city" are clearly superfluous. The midrashic idea that the
>people who would save S'dom must be involved in the city life (and not
>cloister themselves), according to Nechama Leibowitz, is the actual
>p'shat of that phrase.

While I haven't had a chance to look at Nechama Leibowitz on that verse,
the explanation you quote does not seem to be pshat, but rather a
midrash which is also true. It seems to me that the reason that the
Torah says "in the city" in 18:26 is because Avraham said the same
phrase in 18:24.  And the reason that Avraham said it, is because he was
specifically referring to Sdom (see Rashbam).

I think therefore the pshat can be determined, as Russel Hendel wrote,
by looking at the verse in its context.

By the way, I think we should not be so worried about words in the Torah
being "clearly superfluous". As Rabbi Yishmael said, "The Torah speaks
in the language of man" (and here he disagrees with R' Akiva who says
you can interpret every letter in the Torah.)

There is a very interesting responsa of the Rashba (#17) which deals
with this issue. After discussing a difference between sections of
Shmuel and Divrei HaYamim, he writes the following (my translation):

"But in the other cases of divergent texts, when you have a case where
the meaning is the same (but the texts use different language - D.C.),
there is no problem. Because the text is careful only about meaning, not
about words.  And this applies even in the Torah itself. In the section
about the Ten Commandments (compare the texts in Shmot and Devarim --
D.C.) the Torah was only careful about preserving the meaning of the
texts. And this also applies in the case of people's names...Therefore
the Torah was not careful about which words were used, as long as the
meaning was preserved."

So at least according to the Rashba, not every instance where the Torah
uses two different words or phrases to describe the same idea in two
different locations can be analyzed to determine the pshat of the text.
But obviously, the Rashba does not disqualify that procedure for drash,
since it is used regularly to determine halacha.

David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Ari Z. Zivotofsky <azz@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 16:55:22 -0400
Subject: Rambam in Egypt

Over the years I have often heard that the Rambam while living in Egypt
would sign his correspondences with "ani Moshe ben Maimon ha'over al
gimmel lavim bechol yom", in reference to his living in Egypt against a
biblical commandment. I also recall once reading something to the effect
that this was merely rumor and had no basis in fact and that none of his
letters found in the geniza had such a statement. Can anyone shed light
on this or direct me to references?




From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 20:52:38 -0400
Subject: Uniforms

> However, there is one point I have noticed repeatedly -- the school
> uniforms of girls in  the religious schools in, say, Brooklyn (Boro Park,
> etc.).

School uniforms were once much more common than they are now,
particularly in Europe.  They are not a uniquely nonJewish mode of
dress.  As such, they fail the test of the Shulchan Aruch.

> If I were blindfolded and not told where I was and then the blindfold
> was removed, I would think that I would be looking at a group of girls
> that go to a Catholic Parochial school

If you needed to know, you could look at the length of the skirts.
Those from Jewish schools are at least knee length; from Catholic
schools they are several inches above.  This p a s s e s the Shulchan
Aruch test, since the one criterion given for uniquely Jewish dress is
that it is more modest than nonJews are wont to wear.



From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 22:40:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Why Bais Yaakov schools use Uniform Outfits

Dr Berlin in mj-V29n56 asks why having unifrom outfits in Bais Yaakov
schools is not a violation of walking in the "ways of the Goyim"

The explanation I heard of why Bais Yaakov schools have uniforms is to
prevent the girls from "competing in dress and jewelry" (A situation
where the parents keep on having to buy clothes because their daughter
feels left out because everyone else is wearing...)

Russell Hendel;Phd ASA;Moderator Rashi Is Simple


End of Volume 29 Issue 67