Volume 29 Number 97
                 Produced: Sun Nov  7 10:13:17 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Helping Children with Gemorah
         [Aviva Fee]
Mature Love discussions (3)
         [Eliezer Finkelman, Russell Hendel, Gitelle Rapoport]
Mimetic tradition
         [Percy Mett]
Naming Babies
         [Carl Singer]
Negi'ah (2)
         [Daniel Katsman, Danny Schoemann]


From: Aviva Fee <aviva613@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 13:46:10 PST
Subject: Helping Children with Gemorah

We have a friend who has what seems to be not so unique situation.

He is a baal teshuva whose oldest son is now in his second year of
learning gemorah (Talmud).  Unfortunately, the father never had a chance
to learn in yeshiva, and hence, his mastery of gemorah is limited.  His
son is coming home with gemorah homework and the father is extremely
frustrated that he is unable to assist his son.

The father is downcast that while he is working on his own gemorah
skills,.  he will not be able to assist his son fully.  Any ideas on how
to assist him in this situation?



From: Eliezer Finkelman <Finkelmans@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 14:00:28 EDT
Subject: Re: Mature Love discussions

In a letter to Mail Jewish, Gershon Dubin suggests that Judaism has no
source for a positive depiction of love between a man and a woman.

<< Look within Judaism: do you find any kind of depiction of human love
outside a halachic/aggadic framework i.e. for inspiration or uplifting
as you put it? >>

I do not know what sort of evidence would count for him.  If the Torah
says that Yitzhak loved Rivkah, that does not include much description.
If Shir HaShirim does have description, well, that's inspirational.
What if, say, great rabbis of Spain wrote apparently secular love

Shalom, Eliezer Finkelman

From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 18:50:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Mature Love discussions

In v29n89 Yosi Geretz and Gershon Dubin bring up this thread which has
surfaced for a while. I think it would be helpful if people realize that
there are TWO opposing halachic concerns each with vaidity.

--On the one hand dictates of modesty would require no discussions

--On the other hand people have a need to 'read about these things' in
order to improve their own relationships. Today these needs are
fulfilled by movies and TV as well as traditional novels on the
subject. My point simply is that IF a person feels inadequate they may
read such material if the goal is to help their marriage.

Having said that we can next inquire how to balance these two opposing
tendencies. It seems to me that we have a clear halchic directive of HOW
GOOD ARE YOUR TENTS ISRAEL which refers to the fact that these matters
are NOT traditionally discussed in public.

So as a bottom line I would say that
--mature love should NEVER be displayed in public
--there is room for it PROVIDED that particular couple needs it to
improve their relationship 
--The community has an obligation to make material accessible that
fulfills the above two criteria. 

To formulate it another way, if we object to Mature Love discussions we
should focus on the PUBLICITY of the topic or the lack of specificity of
goal (to help specific people)

Russell Hendel; <RJHendel@...>
Moderator Rashi Is SImple

From: Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 08:56:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Mature Love discussions

Chaim Mateh writes:
>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).

With all due respect -- give me a break. R. Yehudah HaLevi wrote
romantic poetry, which could be "effective ammunition for causing [some
people] to sin." Shir HaShirim could be "effective ammunition" for some
people to sin, if they let it be. So could certain other graphic
portions of Tanach and even Chumash.

Sure, the "Is it pornography or is it art?" debate has been raging a
long time, and reasonable people can disagree about the status of
individual artistic creations. (The recent brouhaha about the painting
at the Brooklyn Museum is one example.) But I don't believe that halacha
mandates that any and all suggestion of sexuality in a novel or play or
film is automatically prohibited. If the work as a whole presents a real
truth about human experience, if there are other aspects to it besides
the merely sexual, if many people react to it in ways more complex and
varied than simply being titillated, we need to seriously consider that
it is a valuable human creation. One of my nephews' teachers at a
yeshiva high school once told his class that they should not see the
film "Schindler's List," despite its powerful portrayal of certain
elements of the Holocaust, because it has a nude love scene and scenes
of naked Jews in the concentration camps.

 Is it difficult to set standards that are both artistic and halachic?
Yes. But shouldn't we try?

Gitelle Rapoport


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 11:15:39 +0000
Subject: Re: Mimetic tradition

 Ellen Krischer <krischer@...> writes:
>	On the flip side, I think there is a lot of "mimetic" (or really
>"invented") tradition that is masquerading as halacha.  The way we have
>cutting a boy's hair until 3.  The "vort" complete with breaking of a

The current celebration of an enagagement with a 'vort' and a l'chayim
is an interesting development of tradition.

The traditional celebration of an engagement was with formal teno-im
followed by a sit-down seuda. This is attested by a number of references
to seudas shiduchin in the poskim.  I certainly remember engagements
celebrated in this way, but i must confess that during the last 30 years
or so the norm has become some form of buffet reception.

The writing of formal teno-im is also much less widespread nowadays,
with most (or many) people relying on an a witnessed agreement which is
not recorded in writing (hence a 'vort'). It is of course as binding as
a written agreement. The custom of breaking a plate at an engagement
goes back at least two hundred years, and is probably much older than

I am not sure what the writer means by "masquerading as halacha". A
formal enagagement is of course a requirement before marriage dating
back at least to the time of gmoro, where we are told 'Rav mangid aman
dimekadesh blo shidukhei' Rav punished with lashes anyone who took a
wife without previously being engaged to her.

Perets Mett


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 18:28:43 EST
Subject: Naming Babies

In re:

>I have seen numerous times the experience where grandparents have given
>their children significant grief and heartache in reference to the
>naming of newly born grandchildren.

Being blessed with wonderful in-laws, and a Mother who is equally so, I
can't often relate to problems (grief) that grown children have with
their parents.  My bet is that more often than not, the baby's name is
the tip of an iceberg of who's in control.

The discussion -- or should I call it argument that the name doesn't
matter, sounds like round 2 (or 4, or 6 ....) of ping-pong argument re:
what to name the baby.  Good people don't need people named after them,
and bad people won't be helped by it.

People seeking to compromise can do so via several modes, including
English names, middlenames, etc.  Others will fight over the slightest
alteration or modification of a name -- often even switching to the more
formal form of a Yiddish diminutive.

Remember also, that it's only the Ashkenazim who name after deceased
relatives -- Sefardim honor living relatives with names.  About 18 years
ago, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law named a daughter with the same
Hebrew, (but not English) name as his (living) grandmother.  He was
quite worried that he might offend Grandma Rosa (Rochel.)  Her response
was to graciously accept the honor by saying she would adopt the
Sephardic minhag.  We just celebrated her 100th birthday, so I guess
that living a good life and not getting into needless arguments has its

Here, too, you might turn to your shule Rabbi -- his knowledge of names
and more importantly of people may help resolve the situation.

Also, some caution needs to be expressed re: the halachic aspects of
names -- deriving from the zchus that B'nai Yisrael had re: not taking
foreign (Egyptian) names during our time as slaves in Egypt.

 From a practical parenting matter, my children (all but one, now grown)
have benefited from being named after ancestors -- while growing up it
gave them a tangible link to people who were two or three generations
closer to Sinai.  As adults, perhaps in a small measure, it gives them a
better sense of who they are and where they come from.

Carl Singer


From: Daniel Katsman <hannah@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 12:13:34 +0000
Subject: Re: Negi'ah

 From: Josh Jacobson <JRJ4859@...>
> I am posting this for my son, Benjamin. can anyone asnwer this from a
> scholarly point of view, or point to any relevant literature that would
> be readable by a non-scholar?
> > I am in search of information on the topic of shmirut negi'ah.
> > Specifically, when did it first appear on the halachic landscape, what
> > the purpose of this gedder is (tum'at nidah, kidushin, or otherwise),
> > etc.

A note on terminology:

When I was a YU freshman twenty-odd years ago, someone in the shiur
asked Rabbi J. David Bleich a question about "negi'a".  "Talk like a
lamdan!" came the reply.  "The term is hibbuk ve-nishuk [hugging and
kissing]!"  In fact, the classic halakhic meaning of the term "negi'a"
has to do with an interested party to a dispute, such as a witness who
is "noge'a ba-davar", and nothing to do with physical contact between
the sexes.

On the substantive issue, a good place to start would be the Rambam,
Hilkhot Issurei Bi'a 21:1-7, and Shulhan Aurukh Even Ha-Ezer, chapters
20-21.  According to the Rambam, the prohibition is not to engage in
behavior with "forbidden women" that might lead to sexual acts with

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva

From: Danny Schoemann <dannys@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 16:32:18 +0200
Subject: Re: Negi'ah

In Mail-jewish Vol. 29 #89 Digest Josh Jacobson <JRJ4859@...> asks for
his son:

> I am in search of information on the topic of shmirut negi'ah.
> Specifically, when did it first appear on the halachic landscape, what
> the purpose of this gedder is (tum'at nidah, kidushin, or otherwise),
> etc

I found a great paperback Sefer called Pri Yitzhak written in easy
Hebrew by an anonymous author. It's really a compilation of existing
halachot with extensive references. The only clue as to the identity of
the author is an Israeli phone number (03) 618 1271.

The sefer is about the Issur of staring at women but on page 49 - 50 he
talks about shaking hands with women. I'll quote the relevant sections:

According to Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 26:1 in the B"sh, Ch"m and Gr"a
touching an unmarried girl who is not Niddah (never had a period or has
been to the Mikva since) is D'Rabanan (rabbinical).

However if this causes improper thoughts then it is a Torah prohibition
- Igeres Hatshuva of R' Yona 20, B"sh on Even HaEzer 21:2, Sm"k 24,
Orchos Chaim Vol 2 pg. 113, Kraine D'Igrsa 162.

Touching a Nidda woman or any married woman is a Torah prohibition
(Vayikra 18:19) - Rambam Isur Bia 21, Chochmas Adam 125:3 - and carries
a Yaharog V'al Ya'avor (rather be killed than transgress) - Shach Yoreh
De'a 157:10, Sm"g Lo TaAse 126, Chinuch 188 and 296, Me'iri Sanhadrin
66:, Ritva Shabbes 13., Rdv"z 1:76, Trumas Hadeshen 207, Ran Sanhedrin
75. and Pesachim 25:.

Even according to the RambaN Sefer Hamtizvot 353 who states that there
is no Torah prohibition to touch but only a Rabbinical prohibition (as
do hold R' Yerucham Netsiv 23 vol 2, Rshbt"z in Ch"m Even HaEzer 20:1)
nevertheless since it's an Avisraihu D'Giluy Arayos (appendage to
immorality - loosely translated) it has a law of Yaharog V'Al YaVor -
RambaN in Toras HaAdam, Shar Hasakana, Riv"sh 255, Gr"a Yore De'a 150:4,
Bircas Y[osef?] Yore De'a 157:5.

The Sefer Chasidim 1090 even forbids shaking hands while wearing gloves.

On the other hand on page 84 he (the Pri Yitzhak) talks about
professionals who have to touch women to do their work (e.g. Doctors)
where the Achromim argue as to whether it's permitted if he enjoys it.

On page 86 he (the Pri Yitzhak) talks about saving a woman's life where
he says you're a Chasid Shote (a righteous idiot) if you don't save her
because you don't want to touch her - as saving lives has precedence
over all other issues. (He points to Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 56)

Hope the references help answer your son's query.

Danny Schoemann
Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem


End of Volume 29 Issue 97