Volume 30 Number 33
                 Produced: Sun Dec 12 10:45:30 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Definitions of Frum Communities
         [Chaim Wasserman]
Origin of Maoz Tzur tune
         [Warren Burstein]
Where would you like to live? (5)
         [Alan Davidson, Shoshana L. Boublil, Stuart Wise, Carl Singer,
Hadassa Goldsmith]
Yehudit; Megillat Antiochus
         [Gitelle Rapoport]


From: Chaim Wasserman <Chaimwass@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 14:33:32 EST
Subject: Re: Definitions of Frum Communities

Joel Rich writes that the "sociological definition of frum" and the
"theoretical definition of frum: may be two different entities.

In fact, communities - frum or not - are build around the dynamic of
society that have little or nothing to do with being frum. In other
words, there is something more fundamental and basic on which frum
communities are built.  That foundation is applicable almost anywhere
and serves as the ground floor of understanding anything about frum
community dynamics.

To try to explain this away semantically or even deny this is being
fanciful or even naive. Certain basic rules and formulae of community
organization are almost as precise as mathematical equations.

chaim wasserman 


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 01:26:37
Subject: Re: Origin of Maoz Tzur tune

If we're discussing the tune of Maoz Tzur, perhaps we could also discuss
the words.  The first stanza includes the words "l'et tachin matbeach
letzar hamnabeach".  I don't have any English translations of that, but
Rinat Yisrael explains "matbeach" as "tevach" (slaughter), so does R.
Alcalay's Hebrew-English dictionary translate it as "slaughter,
massacre".  That would make the line read "when You will slaughter the
blaspheming enemy".

While I am sure that there are many people who wholeheartedly endorse
that hope, am I alone in having some reservations?  While this isn't the
only prayer asking for retribution, I can't think of any other that is
sung so cheerfully.  I would be more than content were God to have the
enemy stop harming us, and leave the decision of what punishment the
enemy deserves entirely up to God.  Perhaps someone has a different

Interestingly, the only English translation that I have of the siddur is
"The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, Revised Edition", by Rabbi Joseph H.
Hertz, the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire.  By Authorised, I
understand it to have been the siddur used in British shuls.  It
replaces the words in question with "l'et tashbit matbeach, vtzar
hamnabeach" - "when You will cause slaughter to cease, and the
blaspheming enemy".  Was this modification used, and is it still in use,
in British shuls?


From: Alan Davidson <perzvi@...>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 10:05:18 PST
Subject: Where would you like to live?

Actually (speaking as a Sociologist) the sociological definition of frum
is probably anybody who calls themselves frum (including such ridiculous
cases like I heard about last weekend of a person who drove to shul and
upon walking into shul put on a gartel).

As for New York being more receptive to diversity it is probably true.
In Flatbush, almost anything goes -- regardless of derech or particular
minhagim you can find a shul somewhere which honors your desires with a
minimum of political conflict.  I don't know if you can say the same
about Crown Heights, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island
where the Orthodox communities are a little more inclusive historically
(in terms of type of frum community which has lived there).

From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 10:44:24 +0200
Subject: Where would you like to live?

I've read with interest the various replies to this question. When I
think of the various communities I've lived in over the years, I think
there are a few basic considerations:

1) Heve Dan Et HaAdam LeKaf Zechut - to be open minded.  While Halacha
is set for the community, we do know that rabbis have the authority to
take individual situations into consideration when paskening.  We also
know that there is no "one way" to become close to Hashem, rather each
person has his/her own duty to perform in life and his/her own way of
becoming close.

A community which demanded that everyone be the same would be anathema
to me.  Perhaps b/c I have always been "different" (not many female
chemists/physicists/software-embedded systems engineers out there), and
one of the hardest things was finding myself "defending" my choices to
people who really didn't have the right to criticize - but did so

The same goes for schools, when there is only one answer to a
philosophical question or only 1 way to draw a subject, this is
close-mindness of the worst degree, and I wouldn't want my kids learning
in such a school.

2) Caring.  There are many sources from Pirkei Avot I could quote, but
what I'm talking about is 2 opposite issues: the first is not sticking
your nose in your neighbours' pots.  The other is to be willing to
assist and offer assistance when it is needed.  There is a fine line to
walk between these 2 extremes.  When we lived in Yamit, we experienced
this among the Kollel couples: a neighbour going to the market would
offer to do shopping for others who they knew was busy with other
matters, to the point of putting milk produce in the friends'
refrigerator so she wouldn't have to come and pick it up.  I'll never
forget my first Simhat Torah as a married woman (I got married in
Menahem Av), when many guests showed up just as I was about to light
candles.  The friendship and help (making sure I had everything I
needed, which as an inexperienced housekeeper I wasn't too sure about,
and I was pretty shy about asking) was invaluable.

I think these 2 issues define what I would be looking for in an Ideal


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 11:41:59 -0800
Subject: Where would you like to live?

Regarding a child's readiness to be left home alone.  I was appalled to
see how reckless in smaller communities are about sending their children
out in the street alone.  Many incidents of children being kidnapped or
attacked don't happen among the hubbub of a big populated neighborhood.
More often I hear of such incidents in quiet communities where a child
walks alone to school, or plays outside alone, etc.  I don't know why
people are so trusting, especially since crime in the suburbs is on the
rise while it dips in big cities.

But I would hardly think 6 or 7 year old are old enough to be home alone
and be able to deal with an emergency -- say, chas v'shalom, a fire, a
burst pipe, a sibling or the child itself in distress.

Things do happen, unfortunately; parents need to be responsible enough
to anticipate the problems before something happens

From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 13:39:50 EST
Subject: Where would you like to live?

Rena brings up many interesting points in her reponse -- Carl Singer

> Your address was from aol, so I assume you live in the States. Since I
> live in Israel, I have a few suggestions that maybe you never thought of

Yes, I've lived most of my life in the States -- and have lived in ten
states long enough to get mail -- and in Jewish communities of various
sizes and inclinations.

> 1. How physically safe are my children there? Can they play out at the park
> after dark or even just play outside unsupervised anytime?
> 2. Can we send the kids on the buses alone and can we leave our kids home
> for awhile without fear that a stranger might knock on the door to do some
> unspeakable damage?
> I can already tell you that every community in America fails those two
> and every community I know of in Israel passes with flying colors.

Interesting -- as only an occasional visitor to Israel, I thought (from
ignorance) after reading the first two questions that you were going to
mention dangers in Israel, not the U.S.  -- it's interesting how the
perception of safety is perhaps more important than the clinical
reality.  Much of America is unsafe, and it is difficult for Frum Jews
to trek out to the prestine suburbs.

> 3. How many shiurim are there for the balei batim? Every night, every other
> night? For the women?

Many, but never enough. 

> 4. Can I afford the schooling there that I want for my children? Do the
> schools offer real tuition assistance, or must I declare bankruptcy to
> afford them and their mandatory annual dinner fees?

Tuition assistance is really a tax on those of us who work, subsidizing
those who don't earn a good parnuseh.  If, for example my child's school
has 200 students and tuition is $5000 /per, but the operating budget is
$600,000.  Then the "real" numbers are $1,000,000 nominal tuition;
$600,000 actual tuition, $400,000 in "scholarships" 120 parents pay
$5,000, 80 pay $0.  If all 200 paid then tuition would only be $3,000
per child -- I'm really paying $3000 tuition and $2000 scholarship.
Since the Aybishter's given me a good income I can afford it it's no big
deal from a money viewpoint, but really troublesome from a social
viewpoint.  We have scholarhips parents who buy $1,800 Sheitels, drive
nice cars, spend summers in the mountains and don't pay tuition.
Government funding of tuition (in the US) is a slippery slope with many
plusses and many problems - not for this discussion.

> 5. If I work, how far will I have to commute to work? Will it leave me
> enough time to do all of the learning in shiurim and b'chavrusa that I
> really want to accomplish?

I work from home, and the time "gained" is thus put to good use, but not
everyone is so fortunate.  One pattern of American life seems to be time
consuming commutes.

> 6. If I am in kollel, is the community supportive of kollelniks? Will we be
> able to afford education, medical care, etc. there?

Why should I support kollelniks beyond a certain point / age.  If they
have rich parents, fine they can live in a Kollel 'til they're 120 --
but from a practical point of view, how do they enhance my community --
do they lead shuirrim for us balabatim, do I feel welcome if I choose to
daven with them; do their wives babysit?  Do they even say Good Shabbos
to me when they see me on the street.  There are exceptions, but many
Kollel leyteh bring their Brooklyn Midos with them, or are taught the
same by their Rebbeim, and everyone outside the Kollel is traif.  It's a
chuztpeh for someone who won't wish me a Good Shabbos to come knocking
on my door every Yom Tov asking for gelt.  I've become very choosy as to
which Kollel's I support.

> 7. Are there batei medrash sufficiently close to where I want to live?

Good point -- but it's more than close (distance), is it "open" In
Philadelphia where I once lived, I felt I could walk in to the Yeshiva
Gedolah and sit down and open a sefer and inhale the learning.  In other
communities, I've felt like I'm in interloper to be stared at (who let
him in here?), not even a prefunctory hello.

> 8. Are there enough mikvaot and are they convenient to get to (not in the
> worst area in town)?

As Jews participated in "white flight" from the inner city, many had
mikvehs in their former populations centers.  Just about everywhere that
I've lived new one have built -- fortunately as the community grows, the
needs grow so we should all have the problem of mikvehs that are too
crowded, shules that are overflowing, etc.

From: Hadassa Goldsmith <hbgold@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 08:52:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Where would you like to live?

I feel that any community has the potential to be a nice place to live
if one mitzvah is followed there. And that is the mitzvah of V'Ahavta
L'Reyacha Kamocha - Love your neighbor as yourself. This 206th positive
commandment is considered to be at the very foundation of our Torah. So
any community that practices this mitzvah amongst ALL its inhabitants is
certainly a good Torah community to live in.

If you are interested in having your community focus on this mitzvah
even more than it is doing now and therefore making it an even better
place to live - and if, at the same time, you want to bring merit for a
refuah shelaima (complete and speedy recovery) for cholim (the ill) in
your community and in all Jewish communities around the world - please
check out OPERATION REFUAH at www.operationrefuah.org

Have a nice day!

Hadassa Goldsmith


From: Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 11:01:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Yehudit; Megillat Antiochus

I have been reading a small Chanukah booklet -- halachot, tefillot,
etc.-- that I received Mfrom a yeshiva in Far Rockaway, including the
"Megillat Antiochus" and, within that, the particularly interesting
passages the editors call "Ma'aseh Yehudit" (the act of Yehudit), about
the daughter of Yochanan the Kohen Gadol who helped the Maccabees win
the war against Syrian Greeks by attracting and then killing Antiochus'
chief general. It's a very detailed, exciting story, which includes her
prayers to Hashem for success, encouragement by the Jewish leaders,
etc. Although I had heard of the story, of course, I had never read it
in that detailed form. I understand that the Megillat Antiochus is read
on Chanukah by some (Sephardic?) communities; it looks different to me
from the Megillat Chashmonaim, although I don't have the latter
immediately available. Does anyone have details about the origin of the
"Megillah" and has anyone else seen the text, or the part about Yehudit,
in either Hebrew or English?

Chanukah sameach and Shabbat shalom,
Gitelle Rapoport


End of Volume 30 Issue 33