Volume 30 Number 49
                 Produced: Mon Dec 27  7:38:51 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Fraud and Chillul Hashem
         [Stuart Wise]
Havdalah & Women
         [Steven Oppenheimer]
Kollel (2)
         [Meir Shinnar, Normy Gold]
Women not washing for Mayim Acharonim
         [Joseph Geretz]


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 11:06:39 -0800
Subject: Fraud and Chillul Hashem

Once again a frum person allegedly has been involved in a fraud, this
time $50 million or so from Medicaid.  As an Orthodox Jew, I am
embarrassed when I hear of this, even just the accusations, but when I
hear of such scandals, it brings to mind the chilul Hashem, and makes me
wonder what I can or should do if I became aware of an Orthodox Jew
engaged in a crime.  (Nor do I want to split hairs to say if non-Jews
are involved it is not a crime, or a variation of which I have heard
over the years as an excuse for the criminal behavior.)

I happen to know someone who works for this accused person, and wonder,
according to halachah, if my friend knew of this fraud, what could he
have done without having committed the prohibition of informing? Or,
would informing have nipped this in the bud before it reached to the
extent that it did, would that not have been a mitzvah and prevented a
bigger chilul Hashem.

Also, I am puzzled by the reaction by the Orthodox community.  They will
praise the philanthropy of such people -- as if the money they donate is
not tainted goods.

Suppose the person is found guilty, why is it that our spiritual leaders
do not use these opportunities to teach a valuable lesson, rather than
remain silent or actually defend the guilty?

Just some musings. Any reaction?


From: Steven Oppenheimer <oppy@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 16:27:43 -0500
Subject: Havdalah & Women

From: Stephen Colman <stephen.colman@...>
> at all, they should therefore not make havdolloh for themseves. In fact
> Mishna Bruro (35) discusses this suggestion and then says that according
> to what the Mogen Avrohom says that 'women should not drink from the
> havdolloh wine', therefore how can they make havdollo for themselves if
> they can't drink from the wine...

Dear Stephen,

You left out the end of the Mishne Brura:
"The intention of the Magen Avraham is to be lenient where the woman does
not have anyone through whom she may fulfil her obligation (to make
havdalah).  (In such a case) she must make Havdalah for herself and drink
(the wine) so as not to omit performing the mitzvah of Havdalah."

Steven Oppenheimer, D.D.S.


From: Meir Shinnar <Chidekel@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 1999 13:50:10 EST
Subject: Kollel

This subject has been discussed before on mail jewish (Avi - perhaps you can 
provide references).  Without rehashing too much, just the following points:
1) Every discussant should at least read the Rambam - hilkhot talmud torah 
chapter 3:9-10, and his commentary on Pirke avot , 4:7.
That way, we should distinguish between opposition to supporting kollel and 
opposition to respecting the torah (some posters had a difficulty)
2)The Kesef Mishne seems clear that the main reason he does not rule like the 
rambam is communal need - we would not have talmide chachamim otherwise, and 
the need for students is precisely so that we can develop leaders.  Thus, the 
communal need criteria that some posters developed seems well grounded.  
3) The discussion in the rambam, Kesef Mishne, and other poskim (until quite 
recently) is about the permissibility of supporting torah leaders and the 
educational institutions to produce them.  The discussion was never whether 
someone who is highly motivated, but is deemed to lack the ability, should be 
supported by communal funds.  Of course, this is a different issue than the 
reward the untalented individual would receive from hashem for his efforts.  
4) Even some people who were clearly supporters of a kollel system,such as 
the Hazon Ish and the hafetz haim, were reluctant to accept payment for 
studying, suggesting that the rambam's opinion is still held lekatchila ( a 
5) Human judging systems will have errors.  See the book a tzaddik in our 
time, about rav aryeh levin z"l.   When he learned under rav Isser zalman 
Meltzer z"l, he was deemed not one of the truly talented, and therefore only 
given enough food a few days a week.  (By the way, being one of the not truly 
talented under Rav Meltzer meant that he was at a higher level than most 
kollel bachurs today...).  Still, ein ladayan ela ma she'eynav ro'ot ( a 
judge can only judge on the basis of the evidence), and the fact that some 
worthy candidates will be left out is not enough to argue for a universal 
5) Universal kollel is a system unprecedented in our history. (One poster 
suggested the generation in the midbar who received manna.  Of course, one 
midrash suggests that the sin of the spies was precisely that they did not 
want to leave this ideal situation and go into the real world, fighting for 
the land of Cana'an.  Furthermore,  we do not have manna...).  As such, one 
would have thought that there would be some explicit discussion of the 
sources and the consequences, which I have not yet seen (see below).  I could 
say, with the hatam sofer, hahadash assur min hatora (the new is 
forbidden...:) :))

6) Much of the propaganda of universal kollel originated post world war II, 
when there was a dramatic reduction in the torah community, and the number of 
yeshiva students was miniscule.  Back then trying to get everyone to stay in 
kollel meant, practically, that a few people would stay.  It is not clear 
that psakim and talks from that era are applicable today, when they are 
actually taken seriously.

7)  The real issue  universal kollel adherents have to address is their model 
of society:  After all, torah is supposed to provide not just for our 
individual improvement, but for a just society.  In a society where there is 
no manna from heaven, assume that they are successful and the vast majority 
of the Orthodox community studies in kollel (as is true of the haredi 
community in Israel).  What is the preferred social organization, and how are 
they expected to live?  Is this a case of somchin al hanes (relying on 
miracles??)  Currently, most rely on support from a community whose values 
they explicitly reject.  

The only source I have seen that tries to address that is by rav Eliahu 
Dessler.  In the third volume of Michtav MeEliyahu, near the back, (my volume 
is loaned out, so I don't have page numbers) he provides the following 
justification.  He compares the ideal of Frankfurt Jewry (with rav Hirsch), 
which produced a society of observant Jews, but few home grown major torah 
scholars (his description), with the yeshiva model.  He argues that the 
yeshiva model is that the only important societal goal is the production of 
gdolim b'torah (major torah scholars).   To this end, all pursuits outside of 
torah must be banned, so the only viable options are either Torah study or to 
be a small tradesman.  The reality is that many people will be destroyed, for 
they are not cut out for a life of learning, and may even leave the fold.  
However, the general social sacrifice (and after all, this will lead, as he 
admits, to general poverty) is worth it, for it produces gdolim b'torah.

While at least this is a consistent model, the explicit willingness to 
sacrifice the  general community for the sake of producing a few torah 
scholars is something that I do not know of any precedents for in literature 
prior to the 20th century.  Furthermore, it is not a model that I, or I 
suspect even many of the kollel supporters here, find palatable.   
Traditional sources talk that the individual should be willing to sacrifice 
his material welfare for his learning, not the community.  I would also 
question the identification of the Israeli kollel system with the Lithuanian 
yeshiva model.  I would like to see if anyone has any sources for rav 
Dessler's position, or knows of any other coherent description of the 
appropriate social organization under a universal kollel system.

8) The rambam brings several rationales for why it should be forbidden to 
accept money for studying torah.  Some of them have to do with kavod hatorah 
- the honor of torah.  Others have to do with the corrosive effects of 
dependence (parasitism, to put it bluntly) on the morals of the individual, 
citing the gemara in kiddushin 29:a that any torah without melacha will be 
annulled (batel), the end of that individual is that he will be a thief.  The 
greatest of our leaders, who, in recent generations, have almost all been 
supported, have clearly withstood this corrosion.  However, its effect on the 
average kollel bachur is far less clear.  The multiple recent scandals 
involving yeshivot, such as the Pell grant scandals, reinforce and support 
the rambam's fear.  
9) Yeshaya Lebovits, z"l, in his commentary on Pirke Avot, brings down a 
conversation that he had with Agnon, z"l, about why the Torah, for which Jews 
have been willing to kill themselves for centuries, is now so disrespected.  
He suggested that perhaps the fact that Torah has become merely another way 
to earn a livelihood  is precisely the reason that it is no longer respected 
(the rambam brings precisely this fear of how the torah would be viewed as 
one of the reasons for opposing taking and giving money for learning torah)

Meir Shinnar

From: Normy Gold <NaftaliG@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 1999 12:28:35 EST
Subject: Re: Kollel

On the issue of kollelim:

     Even the Chofetz Chaim, a great believer in kollel learning, felt
that a kollel boy has to pay his maaser to the community that supports
him via the donation on one - tenth of his time to the teaching of
others. In too many kollel communities this is just forgotten or
ignored. Although I've gotten used to the concept and importance of
kollels and the like, too often no sense of obligation to the community
is fostered, as if by learning alone the kollel boys' community debt is
paid. I don't remember his exact words, but Rav Yerucham Levovits, the
great Mashgiach of Yeshivat Mir in Yerushalayim, once said something to
the effect that someone who learns without also sharing the learning
with others, is just a taker, not a giver. He felt that Torah learning
alone is not enough; he felt that implicit even in the command of
"vehagita bo yomam valayla" was the concept of sharing and teaching that
learned Torah to the community.

       I recently had an enlightening conversation with a friend's
daughter, who was dating a seventh-year Yeshiva boy in Yerushalayim. She
told me that she understood his not entering the Israeli army for
religious reasons. So I asked her, " OK, I may disagree with his not
doing army duty, while spending seven years learning in an air -
conditioned beis medrash, but if his reasons are sincere religious ones,
who am I to argue? But what else is he doing for Klal Yisrael....has he
volunteered to teach Soviet immigrants?  Had a chavruta with an
Ethiopian? Learned ever with a yatom, or poor kid?  Volunteered to teach
a baal teshuva? " All I got was a blank stare. This girl, a sweet,
bright, frum kid, hadn't even given any thought to what other
obligations this bachur had to the Klal. But that wasn't her fault. It
is too common in our communities that we foster the idea that learning
alone is giving enough. It isn't. Contrast this with some areas, where
Kollel boys are obligated to volunteer in many facets of community life,
especially teaching. One shining example is the Kollel in Boca Raton. My
nephew, after such extensive involvement in the community during his
year in kollel there, became the assistant Rav of one of the Orthodox

        Kein Yirbu !!!

         Normy Gold


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 20:01:48 -0500
Subject: Women not washing for Mayim Acharonim

While I can't supply the reason, I can with good authority confirm the
Minhag that women do not to wash Mayim Acharonim. Way back when, when I
was a bachur learning in MTJ on the Lower East Side, I had the occasion
to serve as a waiter at a Feinstein family simcha. Although
unfortunately the Rosh Yeshiva was not in attendance, Reb David and his
Rebbetzin were attending.

When it came time to bring out Mayim Acharonim, I asked Rebbetzin
Feinstein (Reb David's Rebbetzin) whether I should put out Mayim
Acharonim on the womens' tables. (Sidebar: yes, the seating arrangements
were separate.) Rebbetzin Feinstein informed me that women do not wash
Mayim Acharonim.

In an attempt to rationalize this Minhag, I've speculated that perhaps
women are by nature more fastidious than men, and the danger of getting
poisonous salts on their fingers while eating, is not as great as it is
with men. Any comments?

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.


End of Volume 30 Issue 49