Volume 29 Number 73
                 Produced: Wed Sep  1 12:28:48 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Being Strict vis a vis Lefnei Iver
         [Binyomin Segal]
Kiddush ha-Shem
         [Mark Dratch]
Pshat vs Teitch (translation)
         [Joseph Geretz]
         [Carl M. Sherer]


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 19:25:10 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Being Strict vis a vis Lefnei Iver

I apologize for not responding to this in a more timely manner, I am
just now catching up on the reading I missed during a short vacation.

Moshe Nugiel was disturbed with my post about lefnei iver since I
  * seems to ignore
  * the ground-breaking p'sak of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
and based on that suggest that I am part of a trend to "just be machmir".

Because I too am bothered by the trend to just be machmir and would be
more than glad to list sources supporting the idea that it is a bad idea
(like my personal favorite the shach in his rules of psak where he says
that saying it is assur if it is muttar is just as bad as saying it is
muttar if its assur) - i was slightly perturbed by Moshe's placing me in
that camp, and so I thought I might defend myself a bit.

first and foremost, I thought i made it clear that I was developing the
ideas found in one tshuva from r. moshe feinstein. he certainly has the
right to ignore a "ground breaking tshuva" from rav shlomo zalman.
certainly a contemporary posek should look at both, but i was presenting
one piece.

further, i am not at all sure that the two are incompatible. rav shlomo
zalman (as presented by moshe, i have not seen him inside) suggests a
cost benefit analysis in regard to kosher food/brachos.

since the person could get food elsewhere, and therefore it is rabbinic
"mesayah" rather than the real torah "lifnei iver" I find it not at all
difficult to believe that rav moshe as well would suggest a cost benefit
analysis. my understanding of rav moshe is that in a true torah
situation of lifnei iver - that is the sinner can not sin without you -
you do not have the right to perform a cost benefit analysis.

hope this clarifies.


From: Mark Dratch <MSDratch@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 17:17:52 EDT
Subject: Re: Kiddush ha-Shem

<< Please give an isntacne where "Kiddush HAshem" is the basis for
 NULLIFYING a mitzvah in the Torah. >>

Talmud Yerushalmi, Baba Kamma 4:3: "The Roman government once sent two
officers to learn Torah from Rabban Gamliel and they learned from him
mikra, mishneh, talmud, halachot and aggadot.  When they were finished,
they said to him, "All of your Torah is pleasant and praiseworthy except
for these two matters in which you maintain ... and in that which you
maintain that it is prohibited to steal from a Jew but that it is
permissible to steal from a non-Jew.  At that very moment R. Akiva
decreed that stealing from a non-Jew would be prohibited because of
hillul ha-Shem."

Hil. Melakhim 6:5 based on Gittin 46a: Yehoshua took an oath, or,
according to others, made a public promise not to kill the Givonom as he
entered the Land of Israel.  "Since he swore mistakenly, he could have
legally killed them, were it not for the Hillul ha-Shem."

Hil. Gezeilah va'aveidah 11:3.  "It is permissible to retain the lost
object of a non-Jew as it is written, "the lost object of your brother."
One who returns such an object commits a sin because he is strengthening
the wicked of the world.  However, if one returns the object because he
desires to sanctify God's Name in order that [the non-Jews will] will
glorify Israel and will know that they are trustworthy people, he is
praiseworthy.  And when [withholding the object would constitute] a
desecration of God's Name, [retaining] his lost object is prohibited and
he is obligated to return it."


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 12:24:24 -0400
Subject: Pshat vs Teitch (translation)

Sorry for the long posting, I hope the readers will bear with me.

I'd like to again adress several posters in a single response. Also, I'd
like to correct a misconception of my position which seems to have crept
in to the discussion. I'd also like to emphasize that disregarding of
literal translation in certain cases should not be understood as
disregarding the literal words in the original Lashon Kodesh.

David Curwin wrote:
> I think this is an easy one. The purpose of the Mishna, Talmud, etc. is
> to determine halacha, not to determine the pshat (simple
> meaning/translation) of the text. Remember the rule, that in certain
> cases "halacha okeret mikra" (halacha uproots the scripture).

Sorry, but I can't agree with you here. Look to the format of the RIF or
the RAMBAM for works dedicated mainly to the transmission of pure
Halacha. The Gemara contains so much more in the way of Aggad'ta,
Midrashim, etc. The Gemara derives hints from verses all over TANACH and
tells us circumstances which occurred which have absolutely nothing to
do with Halacha. See the Mishna in Avos (4:23) R' Elazar ben Chisma
Omeir. Kinin U'Fischai Niddah, Hen Hen Gufai Halacha, TeKufos
U'Gematrios Parparos LaChachma. (Laws of pairs of [scrificial] birds and
Nidda are mainstream Halacha. Times [Seasons] and Numerical values [of
words] are spices to wisdom.) Yes, it is true the Mishna, Gemarah, etc
contain plenty of Gufai Halacha (mainstream laws). They also contain
massive amounts of Pshatim (explanations), Remazim (hints), Drushim
(expository remarks), Sodos (secrets) and Parparos Lachachma (spices of
wisdom) as well, which may or may not have any bearing on Halacha.

As for your second statement, I think we agree but use different
semantics.  Where I say "translation running contrary to meaning", you
cite the GRA "halacha okeret mikra".

I originally wrote:
> ... my opinion against accepting simple *translation* is not an
> opinion against acepting simple *meaning*. These are two different
> things.

Ellen Krischer wrote:
> And what is wrong in there being a value to both?

Nothing. And most of the time there is value to both. However
*sometimes* there is no value to the translation, since it runs contrary
to meaning.  Remember, the Torah was written in Lashon Kodesh which is
not just another language. Translation is for the convenience of those
who do not understand the Lashon Kodesh and inevitably much, if not
most, meaning is lost when Lashon Kodesh is translated into another
language (I'll provide an example below). Nonetheless, there is often
value to the translation since the translation is still in sync with the
meaning of the Lashon Kodesh. However, there are some cases where the
translation runs contrary to the meaning of the Pasuk. *In these cases*,
I do not find value to the *translation*. I think, that we have gotten
quite far afield of my original statment, with posters questioning my
value to translation as though I have said there is *never* any value to
translation. To recap:

David Curwin wrote (vol 29:32):
> 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.

I responded (vol 29:45):
> ... 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.

If you read my initial response you will see quite clearly that two
possible scenarios are presented. 1) The literal translation alone *is
sufficient* to give us a proper understanding. 2) The literal
translation alone *is not sufficient* to give us a proper
understanding. Having stated possibility #1, posters who question my
commitment to the value of translation in general, simply have not
understood my point of view. For this I apologize and I'll try to be
more clear in the future. The main thrust of my response was that,
unless one is well versed in the complete Oral Torah as transmitted from
Sinai, it would behoove one to check with the commentaries in all cases
to ensure that one does not fall into an error which is possible in
scenario #2.

I don't believe that my advice is a complete innovation. I rather think
that this is probably the imperative behind the Takana of Shnayim Mikra
V'Echad Targum. (Reading the Torah twice each week, once by itself plus
once with explanation.) Otherwise, why not simply read Shnayim Mikra?
What do we need Targum for? And no, the intent of Targum is not simply
literal translation into any language. Mainstream accepted forms of
Targum are either Rashi or Targum Onkelos (Aramaic). Rashi is certainly
not simply a literal translation and neither is Onkelos as we have
previously discussed.

Ellen Krischer wrote:
> I don't understand this at all.  How can there be no significance to the
> "plain translation?"  These are the words of God!  We believe the words
> weren't chosen arbitrarily.

Absolutely! However, let's make an important distinction here. G-d chose
the words (in Lashon Kodesh) "Ayin Tachas Ayin". He did not choose the
words "an eye for an eye". You might ask, "what's the difference, aren't
they the same thing?" I think not.

As I mentioned earlier, Lashon Kodesh is far superior to other
languages.  Lashon Kodesh is filled with meaning and G-d's
intent. Translation to other languages inevitable loses these meanings
and *most* of the meaning of the Lashon Kodesh is lost. All sorts of
Gematriot (meaning in numerical values), S'muchot (meanings derived from
juxtaposition) and all sorts of other Drashot which can be applied
against and derived from the original Lashon Kodesh are lost when
translated. In fact, the original translation of the Torah was seen as a
negative occurrence. The Gemara describes how the earth shook and
darkness descended for 3 (?) days when the Torah was translated to

Let's return to the phrase Ayin Tachas Ayin. The word Tachas can also
mean under or beneath. Imagine the Aleph Bet arranged vertically, rather
than horizontally. Bet is under Aleph, Gimmel is under Bet, etc. Examine
the letters of the word Ayin - Ayin, Yod, and Nun and select from the
vertical Aleph Bet, each letter which is under (Tachas) each letter from
the word Ayin. You will select the letters Phey, Chaf and
Samach. Rearrange these letters to spell Kesef - money! Ayin Tachas Ayin
= Kesef - These are the words of Elokim Chaim. This meaning vanishes
when translated as "an eye for an eye" and all you are left with is a
brutal paganistic approach which runs completely contrary to Jewish
philosophy and Halacha. In my opinion, there is no value to this
simplistic *translation*. This is different than saying that I find no
value (Chas V'Shalom) to the words Ayin Tachas Ayin, a view to which I
most emphatically do *not* subscribe!

David Curwin wrote:
> Can you give examples where all commentators agree
> that what you call the literal translation is not correct?

Yes. Take a look at Shir HaShirim. (If you remember, that's what started
this whole topic.) Take a look at Artscroll's translation of Shir
HaShirim.  The literal translation of the words is so far afield of
Shlomo HaMelech's meaning that Artscroll doesn't even present a word by
word translation, rather they translate each Pasuk according to Rashi's

I wrote:
> 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!!??".

Ellen Krischer wrote:
> TORAH!!!!  As opposed to what many schools are teaching now which is some
> mish-mash of Torah, halacha and drash.

How about if your 6th grader came home before Pesach, with Shir HaShirim
translated as a lewd love song (Chas V'Shalom)? Would you be just as
happy with your son's Rebbi? If so, then it seems we have fundamentally
opposite views on Pshat vs Teitch and we'll just have to agree to
disagree. I'm not familiar with your reference to 'what many schools are
teaching now' but perhaps what you term 'mish-mash of Torah, halacha and
drash' I call 'Torah SheBichsav & Torah SheB'Al Peh'.

In the past, certain groups have accepted simple *translation* in
preference to *meaning* as defined by the transmitters of our Oral
Mesorah. The Tzedukkim, Baisosim and Karaites knocked each others' eyes
out, sat in the dark on Shabbos and wore Tephillin over the bridges of
their noses according to literal *translation*. Not to Chas V'shalom
brand anyone partaking in this discussion as being categorized in these
groups. However, those who uncritically accept and derive meaning from
literal translation in all cases, without considering the Oral Torah
transmission, are succeptible to these types of mistakes in our day and
age as well.

I therefore maintain - check the commentaries.

Kol Tuv,
Yossi Geretz


From: Carl M. Sherer <csherer@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:01:01 +0300
Subject: ZTZVK"L

Yehuda Poch writes:

> On a related matter, I have seen on numerous occasions, the letters
> zain-tzadik-vav-koof-lamed in place of z'l or z'tl.  Does anyone know
> what this longer abbreviation stands for?
> [Zecher Tzadik V'Kadosh Livracha - The memory of the tzadik and holy one
> should be a blessing, usually used in my experiance when the person
> referenced was killed in sanctification of the name of God. Mod.]

In Eretz Yisrael it has fashionable to use it with respect to Gdolim.
Where someone is killed al Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying G-d's name) who
is not a Gadol, one is at least as likely to see the appellation HY"D
(Hashem Yinkom Damo - may G-d avenge his blood).

-- Carl

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.


End of Volume 29 Issue 73