Volume 31 Number 15
                 Produced: Mon Jan 24  7:30:44 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Contradictory References to same Posek (4)
         [Carl Singer, David Zilberberg, Joseph Geretz, Mark Steiner]
High schools and a mother's broken heart (4)
         [Anonymous, Linda Franco, Jonathan E. Schiff, Chaim Wasserman]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 15:23:25 EST
Subject: Contradictory References to same Posek

Akiva Miller writes

<There are many cases where a posek says something, and it becomes part
of our all-too-easily-distorted oral tradition, and in those cases, I
feel the same way as you do. It is often frustratingly difficult to
determine the truth.

In this particular example, however, Rav Moshe actually wrote about the
"flag in shul" question, and published it in his Igros Moshe, so now
anyone who is able to read/learn such texts can determine the truth for
himself.  Unfortunately, I am now at work and my Igros Moshe is at home,
but I hope to find that teshuva for you sometime over the weekend and
let you know.>

I agree, but to further explain my concern, how do I know that (only for
example) the Igros Moshe that sits on my shelf accurately reflects what
Rav Moshe said, or is complete (reflects earlier or later statements on
a given subject.)  AND I AM NOT being specific re: Rav Moshe, B"H I can
contact his son Rav Dovid, shlita, -- but I am speaking generically.
For example in the Jewish Press I see pages and pages of tshuvas and
quotes re: the Brooklyn Eruv --

Although none of my parent's or grandparents .... seforim survived the
war, I have an 1860 Gemorah Sanhedrin from my wife's great-grandfather.
It is (of course) censored as were volumes of that time, but publishing,
etc. was difficult and scarce then.  Save for the known censorship, I
believe it is accurate.  I imagine my household (sons and I) have more
seforim than many of the Gedolim of a few hundred years ago.  My son's
Bar Ilan CD is an awesome use of technology in furthering G-d's Torah.
But that may in one sense be a problem -- I have a friend who is an
archivist for the (U.S.)  National Archives, he told me that President
Lyndon Johnson (hamavdil) used to write notes on matchbook covers -- so
the Archives has saved all of these covers (they removed the matches
because of the potential fire hazard.)

Today just about anyone can write (more accurately, edit and publish) --
I believe in the integrity of the authors, but people have biases,
people make mistakes, people feel the need to censor -- something as
trivial as painting yarmalkes on pictures of bare-headed men.  Even if
everyone is benevolent (chas v'halileh people are editing with
malevolence) mistakes (more accurately, changes will occur.)  There are
already several "doctored" books that have been changed long after the
author was nifter -- I believe this will only lead to catastrophic
errors in the future.

Gud Shabbos

Carl Singer

From: David Zilberberg <ZilbeDa@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 09:30:01 -0500
Subject: Contradictory References to same Posek

Re Carl Singer's question re the R.Mose's flag psak: 
 As I recall, R.Moshe did not endorse having an american flag in a shul
(I think he called it "shtus" or stupidity).  He did say that it is
preferable to have it near the netrsance than near the aron kodesh.  He
concluded by saying that in any event it wasn't a big deal either way
and that people should not start fights or form new congregations over
the issue.


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 00:07:08 -0500
Subject: Contradictory References to same Posek

I don't know what R' Moshe ZT"L paskened regarding this subject, but I'd
like to use this example to propose a general rule, regarding P'sak.

Maybe R' Moshe said both of these things? Maybe a Posek takes all
factors into account when rendering a decision, so that two situations
will generate two different decisions, even from the same Posek. Maybe
R' Moshe decided that, in the second case, a decision to remove the flag
from inside the building would alienate some congregants to the point
where they might abandon the congregation. Maybe, R' Moshe felt that in
this case, cost-benefit would dictate leaving the flag in the
building. Maybe, in the first case, R' Moshe understood that the nature
of the congregation was such that no one would be offended if the flag
were restricted to the outdoor flagpole.

Let me restate, I have no idea what R' Moshe said regarding the American
flag in a shul. But I think there is a broader lesson which can be taken
here. Every generation needs to rely on its own leaders, who can
dynamically evaluate specific circumstances and lead as
appropriate. Please don't consider my remarks perjorative toward the
greatness of R' Moshe. However, unfortunately, R' Moshe is no longer
with us. Since Psak, specifically Piskei Hanhaga, rarely exists in a
vacuum, it behooves us to look toward our current leaders for their
decisions for specific circumstances. Because, all to often, wrong
conclusions can be drawn when attempting to apply a Psak which was given
for a specific set of conditions, to a similar, but slightly different

Kol Tuv,

Yossi  Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 15:32:44 +0200
Subject: Re: Contradictory References to same Posek

My own opinion on how to relate to R. Moshe's apparently conflicting
decisions is this:

A teshuvah written by R. Moshe with detailed argumentation to a
conclusion (not a simple letter), which he intended for posterity has
the highest priority.  I believe he could expect the greatest siyata
dishmaya when he was writing for later generations, and when he was "in"
the sugya.

Advice or decisions addressed orally to individuals have validity for
those indidivuals in the circumstances they found themselves in, and
cannot be generalized to other situations.

On the issue of abortions, for example, R. Moshe expressed his opinion
as a "daas Torah" that abortion is murder.  But a family member who
worked as an ob/gyn specialist told me that he had quite a number of
patients for whom R. Moshe had ruled that they not only could but should
abort their fetus.  I don't regard this as contradictory in any
way--this was as much a "daas Torah" as the general ruling which
expressed the basic Jewish moral opposition to abortion.

	The same thing applies to any other issue, even "cholov
yisroel."  R.  Moshe might have decided that a specific individual or
school system would be better off drinking milk with a Jewish hechscher
(after all, then it would have two sources of supervision, the mashgiach
and the government).  This would not contradict the general halacha that
has been discussed.

	Both in his general rulings and his individual decisions,
R. Moshe seems to have towered over our generation, and we were
fortunate that he lived amongst us.

Mark Steiner


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 04:12:25 EST
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

I am a regular contributor to mail-jewish, but I am asking Avi not to
include my name on this posting, since my son doesn't like it when I
talk about his past.

My son, like the boys described in Louise Miller's posting, is
academically gifted but had behavior problems that got worse up to 7th
grade, and then gradually started getting better. He went to an Orthodox
day school until the middle of 5th grade, when he was kicked out, and
after a short time in a public school, went to a private special needs
school, which was paid for by the local public school district.  His
last year there he lived at the school.  Since 8th grade, he has lived
at home and gone to regular public schools.  Although he was quite
alienated from Yiddishkeit when he was living away from home, he has
become very involved in NCSY, starting in 9th grade.  He is now in 12th
grade, doing well academically, and is pretty much observant, thanks to
NCSY.  He goes to shul regularly on Shabbos (though not during the week,
unless he is at an NCSY event), and even started wearing a kippa when he
goes to his (public) school.  His skills in learning Jewish texts are
behind those of day school kids, but he wants to go to learning program
in Israel next year, before starting college, to catch up a bit.  So
there is hope!

In an ideal world, Jewish day schools would provide the special services
these kids need.  In practice, this is very difficult for them to do,
since such services are extremely expensive.  By state law, at least in
this state, local school districts cannot pay for such services if they
are provided at the site of a religious school, but they can (and are
required to) pay for them when provided off site.  Day schools can
barely afford to educate kids without special needs, charging as much
tuition as the market can bear, paying as low salaries as they can get
away with, and raising as much money as they can in the community.  It
would be impossible for them to provide the necessary services for all
kids in the community with special needs, without any support from the
government (local school district or state).  Unless the parents can
afford to pay for this themselves (perhaps hiring a full time social
worker or other professional, to work with their child at the day
school), or raise the money themselves, there is simply no alternative
to using public schools, or publicly funded special needs schools. The
only thing that would change this situation is if the law were changed,
to allow public funding of special needs services at religious schools.
But, aside from possible First Amendment issues, this would be difficult
to do politically.

Meanwhile, thank G-d for NCSY!


From: Linda Franco <Fauveism1@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 22:57:35 EST
Subject: Re: High schools and a mother's broken heart

Dear Louis,

Maybe the following organizations, based in the NY area, may be able to help 
you, since this is their niche. Even though they serve the NYC constituency, 
they might be able to help you:

 <A HREF="http://www.chesednet.com/mask/">http://www.chesednet.com/mask/</A>
Mothers Aligned Saving Kids

[Note: I am currently working with MASK, and I expect to announce a
mailing list for people interested/involved in this subject within the
week. I will NOT be owning/moderating the list, but will be providing
technical support for the list. Expect to see an Administrivia on it
later this week, and a more detailed Announcement on it probably within
1-2 weeks. Mod.]

Torah Alliance for Kids with Disabilities.

If you need any further info, let me know,

From: Jonathan E. Schiff <Jschiff139@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 23:20:41 EST
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

I just read the post about the parents of children with various
conditions revolving around ADHD and learning disabilities.  It's a
serious situation for many parents who are led to believe that there is
something wrong with their children because they don't fit in well in
the traditional dreary classroom.

I am very familiar with this topic, as for one, I prosecuted child abuse
cases for a number of years representing the local children services
board in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Ohio and had to deal continuously
with schools as the representative of social acting as the parent for
children in state custody. I also suffer from ADHD and some of the
related disorders as does at least one of my two children (the other
older one we only see occasionally when he emerges from his booby
trapped lair to seek food).

First, regardless of whether the child attends public or private
schools, federal law requires the local school district to provide
services to children who are designated as suffering from a disability.
Although with such conditions as ADHD, this gets complicated real fast,
it is settled at the federal level that special education requirements
include children with ADHD.  Furthermore, although giftedness is not
defined as a disability (although it should be since in most places it
may carry a stigma worse than many other personal attributes), the
school has an affirmative duty to "level the playing field" in removing
the obstacles faced by those who have disabilities not encountered by
so-called "normal" students.

Getting the school district to acknowledge this is no simple matter.  In
fact, considering that most schools can't properly educate the average
kid who is ususally pretty well beaten down by the second grade, I doubt
they are capable of even understanding the issue much less developing a
coherent education plan.  I suggest commencing flagellation of the
approprate school administrators without letup on the chance that the
dead horse will eventually move over to the water trough.  Then you can
through the horse in and hope it absorbs some of the water.  (I know, I
really tortured that metaphor).  At least you have leverage.  Especially
considering the nature of ADHD, both parent and child are probably a
good deal smarter than the typical school administrator.  I would bet
that most household pets are also.  Good luck.  I will also gladly
answer any question and send tons of reading material I've collected
over the years.

Jonathan E. Schiff

From: Chaim Wasserman <Chaimwass@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 21:05:11 EST
Subject: Re: High schools and a mother's broken heart

Louise Miller wrote about the broken hearts of two mothers that their <<
two children from yeshiva elementary schools are being treated like they
don't belong.  >>

They DONT belong. Yeshivos are not accomodating for these special needs

And who is to blame? It would be easy to cast the blame on the elitist
parenthood that we have developed, but after all is said and done this
elitism is a function of a generation of paranoid adults in total fear
of being made outcasts when there is a child who needs slightly
different learning styles.

But I much more prefer placing the blame squarely at the feet of the
major roshei yeshiva, the Moetzes Gedolei Torah and the Rabbinical Board
of organizations like Torah UMesorah whose rabbinic leaders are the same
in most cases. From this august body of Jewish leaders there have been
intermittent "peeps" about the matter. This is a matter of "dinei
nefoshos" [matters of the soul / capital matters - Mod.] and someone had
better clarify the severity of these exclusionary incidents. No one can
better do this than the corporate entities of gedolei Torah.

To say they don't care would be absurd. But, is it possible for some
reason that they are simply afraid to act? I wonder why?

chaim wasserman


End of Volume 31 Issue 15