Volume 29 Number 91
                 Produced: Wed Oct 27  6:40:08 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chumra or Ikar haDin
         [Chaim Mateh]
Hirhur halev and yetzer hara
         [Chaim Mateh]
Lashon Harah
         [Moshe and davida Nugiel]
Mature Love
         [Howard Joseph]
Midat S'dom (?)
P'shat and drash/"Mature Love"
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Previous Generations
         [Mordechai Kamenetsky]
Previous generations and mixed swimming
         [Lawrence M. Reisman]
Shidduchim and Lashon Harah
         [Freda B Birnbaum]


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 23:10:00 +0200
Subject: Chumra or Ikar haDin

In Vol. 29#88, David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> wrote:

<< Saying that the Gedolim in the 50's and 60's took less stringent
opinions because Orthodoxy was not strong at the time is just theoretical
apologetics. It is just as credible to say that maybe the Gedolim of that
era were not as afraid of being vilified for taking more lenient halachic
positions on issues.>>

It is credible (or said differently: a possibility) that the Gedolim in
America in the 50/60s took less stringent positions.  It is no less
possible (credible to say) that they held correct positions vis-a-vis
what the Hallacha is but looked the other way while concentrating on
more "dangerous to Klal-Yisroel" issues.  Is it possible that they took
lenient positions because they weren't afraid of being vilified?

However, the bottom line is what indeed is the Hallacha on these issues
(mixed swimming, women singing in the presence of men, even married
women's hair covering).  Did the Gedolim of the 50/60s hold that it is
Hallachically premitted for men and women to go mixed swimming?  Did
they hold that women may sing in the presence of men?  Did they hold
that a married woman doesn't really have to cover her hair?

All we have to go on is what they did or did not do.  IOW, they did or
did not condone mixed swimming, etc.  Their wives did or did not cover
their hair.  Can we infer a Hallacha from these actions/inactions?  Of
course not!  OTOH, had any of these Gedolim published their views
regarding these issues, we would know exactly what their Hallachic views
were.  But they didn't.  Why didn't they?  After all, they were
supposedly not afraid of being vilified.  So why didn't they publish
their (lenient) views?  OTOH there is enough Rabbinic literature to show
that it is Hallachically forbidden to swim mixed, uncover hair, etc.  So
why the subtle implications that these things may possibly be permitted?
Has someone produced a Hallachic responsa that says that they are
permitted?  Or are we simply trying to understand the actions/inaction
of those Gedolim of 40 years ago?

I once had a discussion with a "Traditional" (aka Conservadox or
pseudo-Conservative) Rabbi regarding married women's hair covering.  I
brought him enough sources to prove that it's forbidden to go in public
without hair covering.  The only proof he brought that it is permitted
was the story about a great Gadol in the 50/60s whose wife did not cover
her hair.  That's it.  That's his "proof" that it is Hallachically
permitted.  No Torah Responsa from that Gadol.  No Responsa from any
other Torah Scholar.  Just a story.  Is this how Hallacha is determined?
Of course not!

Is it a Chumra for a married woman to cover her hair?  Or is it Ikar
haDin?  Is it a Chumra not to go mixed swimming?  Or is it Ikar haDin?
Does anyone know any source that these are _not_ Ikar haDin?

Kol Tuv,


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 23:28:13 +0200
Subject: Hirhur halev and yetzer hara

In Vol 29#88, Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...> wrote:

<<Do you mean that any description/presentation of human love between men
and women is lewd? That would leave out an awful lot of what is widely
considered great literature, including
poetry, novels and plays. And although the vast majority of movies today
are forgettable entertainment, some films are inspiring and uplifting. Do
you distinguish between pornography and art? If you object to any
presentation of romantic love in any artistic medium
--although you certainly have a right to your opinion -- I would guess that
a lot of secularly educated "frum" Jews would disagree.>>

How would you distinguish between porno and art?  A nude statue in a
museum is art or porno?  An exciting novel that has some/many
descriptive acts; is this literature or lewd (from the Jewish religious,
Hallachic POV)?  An inspiring and uplifting movie that has a few
suggestive (or more or less descriptive) scenes; is this art or porno
(from the Jewish religious, Hallachic POV) or art?

Yom Kippur just passed.  Two of the "ahl chets" were "hirhur halev"
(inner thoughts) and "yetzer hara".  This means that we aren't supposed
to do things that give the yetzer hara an upper hand or an easy task of
causing us to sin.  And even bad inner thoughts is wrong.

IMHO, "presentations of romantic love in an artistic medium" (movies,
books, etc) would be giving the yetzer hara effective ammunition for
causing us to sin in our inner thoughts (if not worse).

Kol Tuv,
(a secularly educated frum Jew)


From: Moshe and davida Nugiel <friars@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 22:20:42 +0200
Subject: Lashon Harah

Chiam Shapiro's recent posting (v28 n88) entitled "Shidduchim and Lashon
Harah" prompts me to present a similar problem to this list.  A major
point of Chiam Shapiro's posting was the bind in which he found himself,
to wit: the laws of lashon harah are strict to the degree that, not
infrequently, compliance will result in mismatches, failed marriages,
and the ravages of divorce, victimizing especially the innocent
children.  My own question, while dealing with a problem which is
certainly not as potentially damaging, is based on the same underlying
problem, as will become clear, be"h.
    Our community of Beit Shemesh has a wonderful email chat list.
Amongst other functions, posters will ask for others' experiences with
particular tradesmen/professionals.  Or more likely, one will simply ask
the list, "does anyone know of a good widget-maker in town?"  Recently
the question has been raised as to whether one is transgressing the laws
of lashon harah by posting to the list information, especially negative,
about local vendors.  It is argued that one is forbidden to potentially
damage someone's parnasa and/or reputation.  OTOH, it is equally well
argued that if someone is providing substandard goods or services, that
the community should be warned, and that that person's parnasa ought to
be reduced!
    Although I certainly have not made a detailed study of the
literature (and I guess I'm appealing to this list in lieu of doing this
difficult work), I'm under the impression that the codification of the
laws of lashon harah under which we act is that of the Chafetz Chiam.
Unlike most other halachic areas, there is not the usually found range
of lenient to strict opinions.  We accept the guidelines of the Chafetz
Chiam.  If the result is that our neighbor gets cheated on a set of new
tires, or, chas v'shalom, that a marriage takes place which we know is
doomed to failure, so be it.
    Is there a legitimate, more lenient set of guidelines, which can
solve Chiam Shapiro's dilemma, and also help protect the consumers of
Beit Shemesh?  Or is there relative unanimity of outlook by the poskim
on this issue (which in itself would be a marvel)?  Can it be that one
man's reputation is sacred to such an extent that we must sacrifice the
psychological health of future generations in order to protect it?

Moshe Nugiel


From: Howard Joseph <hjoseph@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 11:10:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Mature Love

On the question of 'mature love'
The Neziv was referred to on this question in an entirely inapporpriate
manner. Besides the question of why he closed the Yeshiva he himself spoke
beautifully about  'mature love.'
See his comment to Bereshit 2:25 'and they were not ashamed'
Howard S. Joseph


From: <Adviral@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 17:14:41 EDT
Subject: Midat S'dom (?)

In the several years I have read mail-jewish, I have been struck by the
seriousness with which the participants regard halachic questions.  I
would therefore like to run the following situation by them, with the
hope that they will comment on its halachic ramifications.

My wife teaches in a public high school.  Since the beginning of the
semester, she has been helping a new colleague ("E") in her department
who had never taught before.  A few weeks ago, an announcement was
posted that experienced teachers could apply to be "mentors" of new
teachers.  For this they would receive either extra pay or have to teach
one fewer class.

My wife spoke to a frum colleague in her department (call her "D"), who
had previously participated in this program.  She told "D" that,
inasmuch as she was already helping "E", she was thinking of applying to
this program.  "D" did everything she could to discourage my wife from
applying, telling her it was a lot of work, there were a lot of
meetings, and it wasn't just assisting a colleague.  My wife applied

This week, my wife spoke to "E" about a problem she was having.  During
the conversation, "E" informed her that the mentors had been chosen -
and that her mentor was "D", the teacher who tried to discourage my wife
from applying.  Obviously, my wife was appalled at the deviousness and
underhanded behavior displayed by "D", especially since, like my wife,
"D" is frum.  My wife believed that "D" had every right to apply to this
program, but that, when she spoke to "D" about this program, "D" should
have told her she was also applying.

Now for my halachic questions.  Aside from the general boorishness of
"D's" behavior, is there any specific halachic issur that this falls
into?  I somewhat vaguely recall, from a shiur I heard about 5 years
ago, that this behavior falls into one of the categories described by
the Talmud as "Midat S'dom".  Is this true?  What should my wife's
reaction to this?  How should she behave towards "D"?  I would be
interested in your readers' response to this situation.

Richard Alexander


From: Carl M. Sherer <csherer@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 12:14:35 +0200
Subject: P'shat and drash/"Mature Love"

Gitelle Rappaport writes:

> >Mature love is never lewd. However the *publicization* of (so-called
> >mature) love (e.g. movies, love songs, etc.) is always lewd.  Actually,
> >it is the publicization which removes the maturity, resulting in simple
> >lewdness.  Mature love is by definition private.
> I don't understand this. Do you mean that any description/presentation
> of human love between men and women is lewd? 

I think what the original poster meant is that any graphic description
of mature love would be considered by halacha to be lewd. One of the
elements of tznius (modesty) is that we do not discuss with others what
goes on between a husband and wife behind their bedroom door.

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: Mordechai Kamenetsky <kummings@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 14:58:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Previous Generations

I've watched with interest the discussion on the p'sokim of previous
generations and I did see that Meir Shinnar refered to a film of the Rav
z"l dancing publicly with his wife.  Did anyone raise the question of
the p'sak of the Remo in Even Ha'Ezer (21:5) that a public display of
affection to one's wife is prohibited (c.f. Beit Shmuel #12)?  I find it
hard to believe that such a film does in fact exist.

Mordechai Kamenetsky


From: Lawrence M. Reisman <LMReisman@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 14:16:44 -0400
Subject: Previous generations and mixed swimming

Dr. Shinnar writes that "The issue is not whether or not there are
people who assur it to their community or when asked.  The issue is the
people who took it upon themselves to impose their psak on other
communities with a different halachic tradition.  In Igros Moshe Even
haEzer, Volume 1 No. 56, Reb Moshe talks about mixed swimming in terms
of "gilui arayos" and "yeherag veal yaavor."  This is something more
emphatic than "halachic tradition."  In Yechaveh Da'at Volume 5, No. 63,
R. Ovadia Yosef addresses the question of whether someone who must bathe
in the ocean for reasons of health is allowed to go to mixed-gender
beach.  R. Yosef first states in no uncertain terms that mixed swimming
is assur, and then discusses the various sources, both talmudic and post
talmudic.  I suggest reading both sources, since it seems that both
these gedolim believe that it is assur across the board.

    Dr. Shinnar also writes that , "much of the rabbanut of Hungary and
Austria came to Trieste, where mixed swimming with modesty standards
similar to the 1950s was the norm."  How many of them actually went
swimming, or even to the beach in the daytime?  And which rabbis?  Also,
what written halachic sources are there supporting mixed swimming?

Levi Reisman


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 16:18:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Shidduchim and Lashon Harah

Chaim Shapiro "asks very well", as Rabbi Riskin used to say...

The post is so good I'm tempted to repeat it in its entirety, but won't...

It seems to me that THE DUTY TO WARN also kicks in here.  If someone can
come up with sources....

Ask yourself, "If this were someone _I_ were being fixed up with", etc.

And it seems to me that very often people operate based on stereotyped
or idealized ideas of how thing work or ought to work, and confuse this
with halacha.... and/or with reality....

Wish I could offer more.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"
[.sig really on purpose this time!!]


End of Volume 29 Issue 91