Volume 31 Number 20
                 Produced: Wed Jan 26  7:28:20 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Do new talmudic interpretations allow reassesment of Responsum
         [Russell Hendel]
High schools and a mother's broken heart (4)
         [Ilana Opatowsky, Carl M. Sherer, Robert Schoenfeld, Jonathan
E. Schiff]
Home schooling
         [Bill Bernstein]
Jewish schools and the "difficult" child
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Orthodox College Students
         [Tszvi Klugerman]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 18:06:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Do new talmudic interpretations allow reassesment of Responsum

A while ago a new responsum on birth control was discovered from one of
the early authorities(Rishonim). The question was asked "In light of
this discovery can we reassess responsum of later authorities on the
grounds that 'had they known about this earlier responsum' they wouldn't
have said what they did?" I would like to posit a similar question in
the letter-perfect vs word-perfect transmission debate on the Torah.
Should a new interpretation of a talmudic aggadic passage that was
hitherto unknown change our assessments of psaks based on alternative
interpretations. Let us examine.

In discussing whether the transmission of the Torah is letter-perfect or
word-perfect I suggested that the Talmudic argument that "the Hebrew
pair DAROSH DARASH is the middle of the Torah in words" really means
that"DAROSH DARASH is the middle of all consecutive double word pairs".
Similarly the Torah forum article I referred to last time suggests that
the Talmudic statement that "The VAV of the Hebrew word GACHON is the
middle of the Torah in letters" means "The VAV of GACHON is the middle
of the JUMBO letters in the Torah (Certain letters in Torah scrolls are
written in Jumbo font and VAV-GACHON is the middle Jumbo letter) These
explanations come from a Russian emigree and were quoted in Torah forum.

I further suggested that the issues here were factual (are these the
middle or not) not issues of authority.

Avi Feldblum and Gilad Gevaryahu both responded. Avi suggested that even
if my assertions are factually correct nevertheless the real issue is
the legal obligations defined upon us by the chain of
authorities. True..but in light of the fact that we now understand a
Talmudic statement that we formerly didn't shouldn't we reassess which
of those authorities should be given priority.

Gilad cited (a) some other gmarrahs on "middles" (one of which I
explained above), (b the assertion that "Hendel's explanation could not
be correct because none of the commentaries state it"(But can't someone
today explain something that former authorities could not), (c) the
claim that my explaining one gmarrah does not suffice, rather I have to
explain all of them (but in any argument we weight both sides..I am
simply showing new arguments).

Gilad then calls my arguments *pilpul*. Certainly Gilad agrees that many
agadahs are explained by use ellipsis--all I did was say that MIDDLE

I therefore reopen the question but phrased in the manner that Avi
formulated it: Should a new explanation of an agaddic passage allow us
to reassess legal positions based on former alternative positions?

Russell Hendel; Moderator Rashi Is SImple; Math; Towson


From: Ilana Opatowsky <Boshert@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 15:50:48 EST
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

I would like to suggest an alternative to public school that may work
for gifted children and those with moderate difficulties that don't
require special ed classes.  I have been homeschooling for 4 years and
my children are doing very well.  For the secular curriculum, I started
using Oak Meadow School this year.  I am very happy with this curriculum
because it allows children to learn by doing.  This can be very helpful
for a child with mild ADD.  My 10-year-old son has been learning about
the Colonial period by cooking like the colonists, making paper and ink,
molding candles, etc.  It also works for my 11-year-old daughter who is
a gifted 7th grader.  As for religious studies, some parents have taken
the responsibility upon themselves. Other parents have hired tutors
(recent high school graduates, rabbis, day school teachers during their
off hours) for their kids.  This is not an option for me, as I am living
in the desert more than 60 miles from Los Angeles.  (Actually, this is
the main reason that I am homeschooling.)  I didn't have a day school
education myself, so teaching subjects in Hebrew is a challenge for me.
However, my kids are two grade levels ahead of their public school peers
in secular studies.  Just for the record, I have 4 children (11.5, 10,
2.5, 3 months).

Ilana Opatowsky
Lancaster, CA

From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 16:46:57 +0200
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

Anonymous writes:

> 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.

Your ideal world exists. It is called the State of Israel. Here the
State is required to provide religious education for all children with
all manner of problems. Somewhere in Israel there is a school for your
child. And it doesn't cost anywhere near the amount of tuition you would
pay for a regular school in the States, let alone a special one.

This is something that has always puzzled me. I see parents, who are
friends of ours, who have jobs that are nothing special, with incomes
that are less than nothing special, with kids with very special needs
that are ready to send their kids to public schools R"L or pay thousands
upon thousands of after tax dollars in tuitions, but they would not even
consider coming on aliya. Can someone on that side of the ocean explain
why? I am at a loss to explain it.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...>  or  mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.

From: Robert Schoenfeld <roberts@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 21:14:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

>From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
>In the space of one week, I received an e-mail and read an article
>written by two mothers with similar problems to one I will be facing in
>a few years.
>many Jewish kids get no religious education whatsoever, two children
>from yeshiva elementary schools are being treated like they don't
>belong.  How dare these boys lower the averages and sully the images of
>the fine schools that have turned them away!

In the NY metropolitan area among other resouces for such kids are HASC
(Hebrew Acacdenmy for Special Children) and OHEL also the Jewish BOard of
Gardians might be another resource. There is another school but I dont
remember the name now Have your friends e-mail me privately and maybe I
can help more

				73 de Bob
+            e-mail:<roberts@...>                   _____              +
+            HomePage:http://www.liii.com/~roberts     \   /              +

From: Jonathan E. Schiff <Jschiff139@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:47:40 EST
Subject: Re: High schools and a mother's broken heart

<< 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.  >>

I may be wrong about this, but I believe that a recent U.S. Supreme
Court decision loosened the prohibition of providing categorical
services to students attending sectarian schools.  Previously such
services could only be provided off-grounds on the theory that providing
such services within a sectarian school also benefitted the school in
contravention of the Establishment Clause.

Since the local education agency (LEA) is mandated by law to provide
special education to all qualified students living within the district,
I think an argument can be made that the public must provide services to
those children residing within the district who attend religious

Jonathan E. Schiff


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:01:21 -0600
Subject: Home schooling

Does anyone have any direct experience with home schooling, and are
there any resources for those home-schooling their children?  I would be
interested to hear experiences and opinions in the matter.

[Don't you just love it when things flow together. See above, but I'm
sure there are more experiences out there. Mod.]

 kol tuv.


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 22:35:30 -0500
Subject: Jewish schools and the "difficult" child

Louise Miller posted a disturbing piece on problems faced by parents in
placing children with certain disabilities or problems in yeshivah high
schools in NY.  Is it possible that NY schools are so much behind
current thinking and practice in education?  Surely there must be
schools in NY that are chartered to educate Jewish children rather than
organized and run as a business.  Here in a smallish "out-of-town"
community such a callous attitude on the part of a principal would not
be tolerated.  Not all children can be accomodated given the resources
available to the local yeshivot, but that is a decision that is made in
consultation with teachers and health professionals.  Moreover, there is
an ongoing educational program for teachers and administrators on
special-needs children.  Among the lecturers have been some of the
leading figures in this field - Rabbi, Dr. Aharon Hersh Fried and Rabbi
Yaakov Horowitz.  The latter operates a hot-line in Brooklyn to assist
parents of such children.  I am not only referring to children with
disabilities, but also to children with general behavior problems where
a change in the family dynamic may be an integral part of the solution.
The Cheder in Lakewood, NJ can serve as a model of a more enlightened
yet highly traditional educational institution.  It not only accomodates
special-needs children, but insists that parents attend educational
sessions run by one or more of the above Rabbis which aims at counseling
parents, particularly fathers, on successful vs potentially destructive
ways of encouraging interest in torah studies.  The existence of parent
support groups such as those mentioned by Linda Franco (MASK and TAFKID)
who can be reached through chesednet.com, and a chartered mental health
organization that specializes in yeshivot and day schools (CounterForce
- via chesednet.com) should be of value to parents of special-needs

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 20:58:06 EST
Subject: Orthodox College Students

Being very involved with students in College, I have to comment on the
recent thread.  Yes, I have seen students who go to college after
spending a year or two in yeshiva after high school- go off the derech ,
path.  I have also seen students become very dedicated to Torah and
mitzvot specifically because of the challenge and spirit of academic
investigation at college.

This was a strange phenomenon to me so I spoke to a number of Hillel
professionals and other people involved on different campuses. What I
found is not so strange as it is a lesson in reality: Students who
desire to leave the parameters of life imposed by halacha will do so
regardless of the education they received. In fact I found many students
who are products of some of the finest modern and right of center
Orthodox yeshivot leave the derech because the opportunity is now
available.  It is not college that does the damage but entry into the
world. I believe (stress believe) that the majority of these students
would leave the derech as soon as any opportunity presented itself. And
if we want to argue for a insular community - do we want people not
truly committed to Torah forming families that will only superficially
be committed to Torah?

As for the college atmosphere - many people are challenged by their
beliefs when confronted by those who have belief systems as strong as
their own. But if we have done a good job of showing our children that
we are dedicated to Torah and that it is not a burden then they will
remain dedicated to Torah.  The fact remains that I have found many
students on campuses who became more religious and stronger in their
faith because of a good support system and a chavruta (learning partner)
and rabbi who can help them explore their Judaism intellectually ,
honestly and show that fidelity to Torah is acceptable in the "real
world" of college.

And a student who is contemplating a certain college must acertain the
level of religious life at the institution. A small but strong community
ie.  Kosher food, daily minyanim, chavrutot- a place designated as a
beit midrash (house of Jewish study) will do wonders at keeping a
student on firm ground and reaching for greter heights.

A student who chooses a college where Jewish life is difficult has
already made their choice

just my 2 cents



End of Volume 31 Issue 20