Volume 31 Number 41
                 Produced: Mon Feb  7  6:10:27 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

3 Chilling Stories About College Affecting People
         [Stuart Wise]
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Dr Louis Jacobs
         [Alexis Rosoff]
Jewish Journal of South Florida
         [Michael Horowitz]
         [Philip G, Berman]
Parnuseh and Education
         [Carl Singer]
Torah codes
         [Brendan McKay]
Using a Camera on Shabbat
         [Elan Adler]


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 10:58:55 -0800
Subject: Re: 3 Chilling Stories About College Affecting People

I don't take issue with what you say considering that all the examples 
appear to be in communities where there was not a strong Jewish community.
I would imagine there are enough excellent colleges in major cities with
Jewish populations that a frum person can feel at home and not have to
compromise their practices and beliefs

> Bottom line, according to my mother, College can change some people and
> every responsible parent should assess their situation individually.
> Russell Hendel; Phd; ASA; Math Towson;


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 20:24:05 +0200
Subject: Aliyah

Avi wrote:

> This topic is one that both can raise the emotional level (on both sides)
> but at the same time is in my opinion one of the important (but diffucult
> for many) topics that face the Orthodox Jewish community. I will allow
> this topic to continue, ask you to try and be moderate in your exchanges,
> but I will try and help as much of the discussion continue as possible,
> even if some of the postings get rather long (as is the case here), as
> long as I think there is a good exchange going on.

I think that Avi has made the right decision.  One of the things that
disturbs me regarding the question of Aliyah is not only the number of
North American Jews who say no to aliyah, but that most don't even ask
themselves the question.  Of course, I would like all Diaspora Jews who
participate in this list to "make aliyah" but I hope that this
discussion encourages them to at least consider the question.

It's important to remember that although there are many centers of
active Jewish life in the United States and Canada, and there certainly
has been a revival of Jewish learning and observance in many areas, can
anyone be sure that this will continue?  While these centers do exist,
the overall picture of Jewish life in North America is hardly
encouraging.  The process of assimilation that is continuing in the
general Jewish community will most likely continue.  The observant
sector of the Jewish community will find it increasingly difficult to
maintain religious services while being part of a general Jewish
community that is decreasing in political, economic and political

There one other point.  My reasons for staying in Israel are not
necessarily identical to those for originally coming here.  (For
instance, I've grown to really like the place.)  But one thing has
remained constant for the past 24 years.  Israel is the center.  While
there is much good work being done throughout the Jewish world, the fate
of the Jewish people will be determined here - in Israel.  What Jew
whould want to be elsewhere?

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


From: Alexis Rosoff <alexis@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 12:23:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Dr Louis Jacobs

On 24 Jan 2000 11:41:11 GMT, David Kaufman wrote:

|> >He does NOT deny the divine origin of Torah and Talmud; his works were
|> >written in response to scientific criticism of the Bible. Someone
|> >expecting heresy is not going to find it in Dr Jacobs' books.
|> In his book The Principles of Jewish Belief, an extensive excursus on
|> the Rambam's thirteen principles, he most definitely DOES deny the
|> Divine origin of Torah. He argues forcefully for multiple authorship and
|> claims that Ibn Ezra hinted at editorializing of Torah.

[I've decided to put this in (partially to close out the discussion on
Dr Jacobs) but also to help understand what the UK Masorati movement may
be. Based on our earlier discussions, while it appears to me that there
is room to argue about whether there may be letter changes that have
occured during the centuries in the current text, there is no room
within Halacha to state that haShem did not "dictate" a actual text to
Moshe which is what we call Chumash (five books of Moshe). To argue
otherwise in this forum will require some clear support from accepted
Reshonim before I would allow such a discussion to commence. Based on
this, it is clear to me that as described, Dr Jacobs theology it outside
the bounds of this list. Mod.]

You're confusing Divine authorship and Divine origin. Dr Jacobs (and
Conservative/Masorti theology) denies the interpretation of Maimonides
that states that the Torah is exactly as Moses received it at Sinai.
Instead, the belief is that the Torah is the word of G-d but that man
put it down in the form we know today. It's still divine in origin. To
many (if not most) Orthodox, this sounds like semantic hairsplitting and
a denial of basic Jewish principle. To Conservatives, the distinction is
essential: we (the Jewish people) cannot deny the origin of Torah, but
neither can we deny the human role in shaping it.

It's important to remember that UK Masorti was formed because of this
fairly intellectual schism, and was a split off the United Synagogue,
and a relatively recent split at that. American Conservatism was
primarily a split off Reform (though it was influenced by
Neo-Orthodoxy). Consequently, it's rather more right-wing than an 
American would expect from Conservatism. 

 Alexis Rosoff ---=--- http://www.mono.org/~alexis ---=--- Long Island, NY


From: Michael Horowitz <michaelh1@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 18:49:58 PST
Subject: Jewish Journal of South Florida

The Jewish Journal of South Florida has published an anti religious
article by its publisher Bruce Warshal.

Here are relevent quotes:

"...what does the kosher label on wine signify?  Here is the moral
outrage: the kosher seal certifies that only Jews has processed this
wine.  In other words, a Jew should not drink wine that was actually
touched by Christian hands.  This is base racism....

 And it is not only wine.  I mentioned the inherently kosher nature
of milk.  Yet, in ultra Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, there is now
a special kosher designation called Halav Yisrael, certifying this milk
was not processed by Christian hands.  To these fanatics all milk is now
unkosher unless it has this hecsher, theis label declaring it kosher....

 this column is a protest against the misuse of kashrut.  It is a
protest against the ultra Jews who turn inward against all people except
Jews and distort perfectly good Jewish law or tradition in their
religious exculsion and fanaticism."

I ask that the members of this list contact me at <michaelh1@...> to 
protest this article.

Mordechai Horowitz
Co Chair Citizens Against Hate


From: Philip G, Berman <PhilB@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2000 23:54:34 -0500
Subject: Mechitzas

In response to Tszvi Klugerman's question concerning mechitzas, I will
relate some of the effort my Congregation expended in resolving this

We found that there are many "correct" answers.  Sources were researched
and Rabbonim spoken to concerning this question.  If my memory serves me
(which some say is questionable), part of the answer lies in the
congregation's direction and leanings.  I have been in Lubovitch shuls
where the men can neither see nor hear women in the ladies' section. I
have been in shuls where one could sit on the top of the mechitza.
There is also a question of whether the mechitza height starts at the
floor of the men's side or at the floor of the women's side.  I
distinctly remember the question of raising the floor height on the
women's side so that the mechitza would be of adequate height on the
men's side but not preclude the women having visual access to the
reading desk.  This is part of the reason many older shuls had a balcony
for the ladies.  The balcony option has become much less practical, both
from a cost and an access to the elderly standpoint (each not
independent of the other). Best of luck, but do not think that there is
a simple answer.

Phil Berman


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2000 20:15:02 EST
Subject: Parnuseh and Education

 I got some back-channel emails on this and then a lively discussion with a 
 My generation (and perhaps the ones on either side) witnessed parents
pushing secular education on their children.  YOU (my children) are
going to have all of the opportunities that WE didn't have.  Many of my
peers are the first generation of their family to have gone to college,
or even to have graduated from high school.  Education is / was the way
to suceed in this goldenh medinah.

Today we have parents (BT's for the most part.)  who themselves have
college educations and who are convinced and thus telling their children
the YOU (my children) do not need a secular education -- is there a
dissonance here?  Is the implication that (if Messiach doesn't come
soon) these children (a) can make a parnuseh without a secular education
or (b) won't need to make a parnuseh at all?  Or that the outside world
(including everyone less frum than us) is traif?

Re: college being a bad influence -- secular society is a bad influence
in general.  But there are exceptions.

As my friend Jerry Parness (MD & PhD) points out you can't be all too
certain, even at Y.U. -- Granted it's been about 25 years since I
haunted a college campus (but I graduated from 3 major universities and
worked at a 4th) and I found that positive influences were few and far
between -- You look to faculty for academic guidance and direction, but
social and political viewpoints are there.  Fortunately, being in
engineering and business (not the social sciences) I didn't interact too
much on social basis with Jewish faculty -- but I remember secular Jews
with I might term strong "anti-Torah" viewpoints -- and know that they
were quite influential to ungrounded, searching young people.

One can't be certain, (Man tracht un G-t Lacht) but I would dare say
that it's not the choice of university but the home that influences the
children.  Not to make Jerry blush, but his kids growing up in Smadar's
and his home could go to YU, UCLA or Notre Dame and will B"H come out
fine, responsible Jews.  If we have doubts about our children
"surviving" at a given school, then the doubt may be more about our
child and our home than about the school.

Carl Singer


From: Brendan McKay <bdm@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 00:38:53 +1100 (EST)
Subject: Torah codes

In v31i09, both Dr Goldfinger and Mr Gans mention the "primer" which
Gans has written in response to our paper published in Statistical
Science.  A reply to that document will eventually appear at
http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/StatSci, but in the meantime I will
give my briefest impressions.

Since we have long been familiar with the arguments of the codes
proponents, and took them into account in writing our paper, we were not
surprised that Gans' "primer" contains little that is new in either
evidence or argument.

Gans' essential failure is due to two main factors.  First, he appears
to have not understood many parts of our paper and often produced
arguments that don't address the real issues.

Second, Gans simply ignores some careful rebuttals we have already made
to the arguments he raises.  The most dramatic example is our 83-page
paper on the appellations of the great rabbis, which refutes in glorious
detail Witztum's claims against our demonstration that equally good
appellations can be chosen to work just as well in War and Peace.  Gans'
solution to this difficulty was to fail to mention the existence of our
paper.  It can be found at http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/WNP.

Another example (of many) concerns the recording we discovered of a 1985
lecture of Rips which contradicts the received history of the great
rabbis experiment.  Witztum's attempt at a reply was copied uncritically
by Gans, without any reference to our own rebuttal of Witztum's remarks
(for which see http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/ripslect).

Gans' letter in v31i09 also addresses the "bn" experiment of Witztum
again, with the claim that it had "zero wiggle-room".  Of course that is
not so.  I already gave examples of wiggle-room in my previous article,
but the main wiggling here was the choice of the topic and rules out of
the vast number available.  The freedom to choose the topic and the
rules of an experiment is a much greater freedom than most people would
realise without doing it themselves.  We have demonstrated this several
times using a secular text.  For example, "Jesus the Nazarene" matched
against "Son of Man" and "Jesus the messiah", written in a small number
of standard ways, gives a better result in the text of War and Peace
than Witztum obtained with his "bn" experiment.  I suggest that readers
visit the details at http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/Jesus and try to
identify enough wiggle-room to explain the 1-in-a-million result.

Of course, Gans will say that Witztum had no freedom of choosing the
topic; he was just following a suggestion of (mathematician and former
MK) Alex Lubotsky.  However, referring to Lubotsky's text, we find that
he actually suggested a longer form of appellation that is not encoded
in Genesis for a single rabbi in Witztum's list!  This was naturally not
to Witztum's liking, so he had to make his own different choices.

Brendan McKay.


From: Elan Adler <eylry@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2000 12:51:35 PST
Subject: Using a Camera on Shabbat

 I have not followed closely the discussion regarding use of cameras on
Shabbos, but it made me wonder about the use of stationary video cameras
to record a Bar Mitzvah.
 I once saw a set-up in a conservative temple where the videocamera was
set up in the balcony, out of view of any worshiper, which was turned on
automatically for the duration of the service. No one touches it on
shabbos; it automatically records the proceedings. Is there an violation
of halachah in this instance?
 Also, in my shul, we have an eight man choir on shabbos and yom tov,
similar to the Breuer's shul in Manhattan. Is there a prohibition
against a non-Jew taping the choir during a shabbos, for the purpose of
having the choir listen after shabbos to fine-tune and hone their
singing with the chazzan?

Rabbi Elan Adler
Baltimore, MD


End of Volume 31 Issue 41