Volume 30 Number 09
                 Produced: Sat Nov 13 20:22:43 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Democracy--A Torah Value?
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Disabled Children
         [Micha Berger]
Kiddushin and shiduchim
         [Jordan Hirsch]
Modern Jewish Music
         [David I. Cohen]
naw'avaw vs. na'avaw Ps. 93
         [Mike Stein]
Parshat Ha'azinu as a segula
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Status of Chabad vis-a-vis the Rebbe
         [Jonathan Katz]
Yom Tov Sheni
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 00:35:23 +0200
Subject: Democracy--A Torah Value?

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:
>Joseph Geretz wrote:
>> We are in agreement though, that Democracy is not the Torah ideal for
>> our government. (Although presumably, this is an admirable form of
>> government for B'nei Noach.)
>First off, there are no democracies currently in existance today.  The
>US, and similar governments, are republics.  In a democracy, the people
>directly make policy.  In a republic, the people elect representatives
>who make policy.  Those representatives are free to go against the
>wishes of the public.
>In an ideal world, a monarchy or a theocracy would work better.  The
>problem is that both of these systems assume that the person (or
>organization) in charge will act for the good of the nation.
>Historically, this amount of supreme power has always been abused - if
>not by one king, than by his successors.  Even the Jewish kingdom had
>this problem - after the northern kingdom split away, there were many
>unjust kings who did far more damage than good.
> ...
>So, a theocracy or a monarchy may well be ideal for the age of Moshiach,
>when the leaders are chosen by God (who we can assume to be acting for
>the overall good of the world), but a democracy (or republic) is better
>for today, when leaders are usually more interested in their personal
>good than the good of their nation.

I think that David is using the words "democracy" and "republic" in a
fairly unconventional manner.  Generally the word "democracy" refers to
a system of representative government in which certain basic human
rights are guaranteed.  A republic is simply any government that does
not have a hereditary head.  So for instance, while Iran is a republic
(neither the positions of head of state or head of government are
hereditary) and Great Britain is not, Great Britain, unlike Iran, is a

I'm not sure if the Torah considers a monarchy as an ideal form of
government.  Samuel (Samuel I 8:11-22) tried to dissuade the people from
requesting a King to rule over them.  The idea of a monarchy is
described as at best a practical necessity, but hardly an ideal.

The monarchy during the First Temple period, was certainly not a
democracy, but it did have some democratic elements, the main one being
that the Head of State himself had to operate (at least theoretically)
according to the Law and even had to write out a personal copy of the
Torah.  This is very different from the "divine right of kings"
according to which medieval rulers would claim that they were
responsible only to God with no understanding on what that
responsibility was.

Also, while the Torah does not recognize the full range of individual
rights that are usually guaranteed by a modern democracy such as freedom
of press, speech and religion, it did ensure the right to a fair trail
and certain property rights.

Ed Ehrlich mailto:<eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: Micha Berger <micha@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 09:39:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Disabled Children

On the subject of the social stigma of having a special child, I'd like
to repost the following diatribe that originally appeared on another
forum. If you are reading this, I would assume it means that Avi agrees
that the urgency of the issue outweighs the nettiquette violation of
such a repost. [I agreed, piy it on queue, then fell behind. But here it
is now. Mod]

I should also apologize, I get kind of rant-y.

: Yes, but the issue of not acknowledging societal problems is true here in
: the states as well. Allow me to climb onto my soapbox to discuss a totally
: unrelated example close to my heart:

: Every day children are born handicapped. In many communities this will
: affect shidduchim for that child's siblings. Or perhaps the couple already
: has numerous children and can't handle the burden of another one. Often this
: child is placed for adoption. Particularly in the case of mental handicaps,
: given our culture's stress on learning, the frequency of Downs in births
: by older women, and the number of those older women who may have numerous
: other children to marry off. Sometimes through Jewish auspices -- although
: our community does not have a single adoption agency aimed at keeping Jewish
: children in Jewish homes -- and sometimes not. One Chassidishe Rebbe, one
: with tens of thousands of Chassidim, actually advised such couples (and I
: know first-hand of at least two cases) to abandon their child with Downs'
: in the hospital and tell everyone it was a neifel ch"v!

: Picture children born in frum homes being raised as non-Jews r"l!

: The lack of agencies does not, b"h, translate to a lack of networks and
: volunteers. However, I can guarantee that the rov of these kids do not
: end up within the Jewish community, frum or non-frum. Catholic Charities
: will place one of our children ahead of one of their own if faced with
: more families than children. As will most other church-run adoption programs.
: And they are far more organized then we are.

: US law protects ethnicity, but not religion. On the state level, this means
: that if a child is born of a Jewish mother and Black father, the agency is
: expected to find a home for the child in the Black community, if possible.

: Most states require "due diligence" in finding a home that matches the
: ethnicity and religion of the birth-mother. "Due" is a subjective term,
: though.

: There used to be an active smuggling ring based in Har haTzofim that
: offered poor Jewish families the finest American life for their handicapped
: children. The children were taken out of Israel and brought to Utah, to
: be raised as Mormons. When the story broke, we as a community were given
: 48 hours to place 19 children with Downs before they could be placed by the
: agency that first obtained the children. That's "due diligence".

: And so on...
: Real sh'mad (destruction of souls) is going on here.

To add a strength to this sentence: R' Dovid Cohen, as well as more than
one of our LORs took it as a given that my wife answers her "adoption
line" on Shabbos and Yom Tov. R' Cohen's words to me were: Why are you
even asking?

: Those who are interested in adopting a Jewish special needs child can contact
: my wife at the number in my .signature file.

Among those that offer services are:

- The Jewish Children's Adoption Network, Denver Co.: 303 573-8113
  They were founded to deal with this issue, but have since expanded to more
  general adoption assistance for Jewish families.

- Heart-to-Heart: they aim at helping the family care for their own children.
  Including convincing them to do so. My wife is part of their network for
  placing children when their efforts fail.

- Ohel and Jewish Women's League deal with adoption as tangential to their
  primary sevices. They will place children in their care (residential or
  foster) who are freed for adoption.

Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for 10-Sep-99: Shishi, Bereshis
<micha@...>                                         A"H 
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 36a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Haftorah


From: Jordan Hirsch <TROMBAEDU@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 14:35:16 EST
Subject: Re: Kiddushin and shiduchim

<< The Gemara says that Rav lashed someone who **gave Kiddushin**
(check the wording) i.e. gave a ring or reasonable facsimile thereof,
without having had "shiduchim" previously.>>

I stand corrected, as I was unaware of the exact language of that
Gemara. As a side point, does not the Gemara use Kidushin for both the
engagement (giving of a ring, which we know took place some time before
Nisuin), and as a generic term for the getting married?

Jordan Hirsch 


From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 19:15:47 EST
Subject: Modern Jewish Music

In Vol. 30 #5 Paul Shaviv wrote:
    <<A less controversial example than sex is music, where the frum
<<community has adopted / adapted the worst and cheapest of modern music,
<<and, tragically, seems to think it is wonderful.>>

    This is not the first time I have seen on this (and other lists) 
denigration of modern Jewish music, with no explanation, as if it were a 
given with no posibility of dissent. Now, I am not sure what specific music 
is being referred to. However, in general, if the objection is to the music 
popular among the young, that has borrowed from the secular rock idiom, then 
I am at a loss to understand why there is no objection to "classical" 
chassidic music, such as Moditz or Lubavitch, which is based musically on 
popular Eastern European folk music of the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, 
I would venture to guess that there hasn't been indigenous Jewish music since 
the Leviim stopped singing in the Beit Hamikdash. I also predict that the 
next generation will also object to their children's popular Jewish music, 
and pine for the good old rock n roll nigunim!
David I. Cohen


From: Mike Stein <mike@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 07:46:38 -0600 (CST)
Subject: naw'avaw vs. na'avaw Ps. 93

The recent thread on tranliteration reminds me of an old question of
mine.  In T'hillim 93 (H' Malach ...), many siddurim (including
ArtScroll) IN KABBALAT SHABBAT, point the word "naw'avaw" as in
"l'ves'chaw naw'avaw kodesh" as I have written it here, in ashkenazi
transliteration -- that is, qamatz, hataf-patach, qamatz.  Yet a check
in any reliable tanach shows that the nikud of this word is patach,
hataf-patach, qamatz.  This is true even in the Sefer T'hillim which
is included at the end of some ArtScroll siddurim.

Is there any reason for this deliberate deviation from the nikud of
the tanach, or is it just an error?

Mike Stein


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 16:41:07 -0500
Subject: Parshat Ha'azinu as a segula

An inquirer wanted a source for the idea that reciting or memorizing
parshat Ha'azinu is a segula for "all good things".

I don't know what others may find in some obscure midrash about the
subject.  However, the very idea of turning words of Torah into some
good luck charm is objectionable.  Studying and knowing the Torah is
commanded by the Torah and is a vital component of Jewish life.  The
Torah specifically commands Moshe to teach parshat Ha'azinu to all the
people so that its poetic message of tribulation, exile, and ultimate
redemption will be inscribed in the hearts of Israel.  Unfortunately,
study of the Torah proper has been relegated to a minor role compared to
study of Gemara.  While I would greatly encourage memorization of the
parsha,  it is unbecoming to think of it in terms of any segula.  It has
incalculable value in and of itself.  Someone may have used the idea of
segula to encourage the public to study Ha'azinu, but that is not the
real or proper reason.

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Jonathan Katz <jkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 15:09:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Status of Chabad vis-a-vis the Rebbe

Before I begin, let me just say that I do not mean this posting to offend
or hurt anyone in any way. But I think the issue is an important one, and
should be discussed.

[In publishing this, I will publicly clarify my prejudice here. I will
not accept any postings defending the position that the previous
Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L is alive and the Moshiach. For the purpose of
this list I rule that position outside what I consider normative
halachic judaism. My prejudice, but my list and I view that position as
an insult to a man I view as having been a Gadol BeYisrael. I also will
not post any submissions that simply call the above position an
abomination, as I've already said I view the position outside normative
halachic judaism. So what I would really like to see, as I have found
myself in the same position as Jonathan, is whether anyone has seen or
heard any discussions from contemporary poskim on what to do if one
finds oneself in that position. Mod.]

What is the status of those Chabad congregations who still maintain that
the Rebbe was Moshiach? (I don't know what "official" Chabad position is
on this issue, but I do know from visiting various Chabad shuls that some
play up the issue while others ignore it or oppose it)

I was in one such shul this past Shabbos while traveling, and frankly was
quite uncomfortable when I saw two posters in the shul: one, the picture
of the Rebbe with "Y'chi Adonanu Melech HaMashiach" written underneath
(which was at best merely "suggestive" of the fact that the Rebbe was
Moshiach) and the second, a picture of the Rebbe under which was written
(paraphrasing from memory into English): "May our teacher, rabbi, king
Moshiach live forever and ever", which more strongly indicates that a)
they consider Moshiach to currently be alive b) that they consider the
Rebbe to be Moshiach.

To tell the truth, my immediate response was to walk out of shul. But upon
further consideration, I realized that I did not know what the actual
halacha was, and to walk out without having halachic justification for
doing so would be wrong, considering the ramifications of the statement I
would be making.

In fairness to Chabad houses worldwide, I should point out that I daven in
a Chabad shul at home, one in which there are no statements to the above
effect in shul.

I believe this was discussed before on mail-jewish, right about the time
the Rebbe died, but could not find references.

Jonathan Katz


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 22:41:55 +0200
Subject: Re: Yom Tov Sheni

>From: David Ziants <davidz@...>

>It seems, though, that other poskim hold other views ranging from
>allowing the Israeli to do melacha, even in public, but only if residing
>in a place where there is no Jewish community, upto not allowing melacha
>at all, even in private...

 While in England on shlichut during 1975-77, the custom among some
religious Israelis (not all) was to park their car a few blocks away
from their home, and when leaving on a Yom Tov Sheni, to wear a hat that
they normally didn't wear so as to "disguise" the fact that they were
Orthodox Jews when doing a melacha outside.
 I couldn't figure that out completely as wearing hats was a common
practice among Orthodox Jews just to disguise the fact that they were
Jewish.  But that's a subjective observation.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 30 Issue 9