Volume 31 Number 70
                 Produced: Tue Feb 29  5:03:11 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Aliyah (2)
         [Yosef Braun, Carl and Adina Sherer]
Aliyah and Cheshbon haNefesh
         [Carl and Adina Sherer]
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
One may be obligated to say bad things in certain Circumstances
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 04:44:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello all, and my apologies for dropping out of sight / sound for a week
with no warning. I was traveling, but was in email contact and expected to
be able to continue with normal operations. Obviously :-) my expectation
were not quite realistic.

I will be on the road again shortly, and this time I know that I will have
trouble being in email contact. Mail-Jewish will be on "sporadic" mode
from March 2 until after Purim (March 24). I expect there will be some
issues being posted, but I know it will not be every day.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Yosef Braun <yb770@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 13:09:06 EST
Subject: Aliyah

 There has been a lot of discuusion about the practise and attitude of
many frum Jews to the mitsva of yishuv erets yisrael. Many of the
posters seem to ignore the fact that rov minyan and rov binyan [how do
you translate that?]  of shomrei mitsvos [frum] are currently not in
erets yisrael? Wouldn't that imply something about the "significance" of
this mitsva? To suggest that they're simply lazy; seeking excuses and
justifications etc. would IMHO be R"L [heaven forbid] motsi la'az on the
majority of shomrei mitsva; perhaps worse than dibat ha'arets.
 The reality, however, is that most gedolei yisrael throughout ALL
generations, even post 5708 [1948], didn't emigrate to erets
yisrael. These were people who would do anything in their ability to be
able to fulfil even a hiddur mitsva. Obviously, issues such as financial
difficulty; social and family issues; local government policy
etc. didn't have much weight in their eyes when it came to following the
word of Hashem. So what was their justification? There was no need for
justification. In fact , even the best excuse was never sufficient, in
their eyes, to justify themselves refraining from kiyum
hamitsvos. Rather, they simply didn't percieve it as a mitsva. Moreover,
some even were concerned that mass immigration to erets yisrael might be
an issur.
 Historically, it was pretty-much a non-issue (with few exceptions)
untill the chibath zion movement begun. This movement, though led by
some great geonim, was in opposition to the opinion of most gedolei
yisrael of the time.
 Our literature is replete with sources and references about the
conensus of most poskim on this matter. One need only look in the sefer
tikkun olam which contains many letters of gedolei yisrael to this
effect.{Prof.  Weingarten's theory about this book has no SCIENTIFIC
justification}.See also sefer vayo'el moshe for a listing of the
different opinions on this sensitive issue. {Though his extreme opinion
about zionism is quite different from mainstream in many ways, he does
however provide valuable refeerences on this matter}.
 I do not wish to undermine the effort and good spirit that is being
maintained to encourage peple to fulfill this INYAN (which some consider
a mitsva; others -an issur);however, it would be wrong to sugeest that
our frum brethern are trying to "avoid" a mitsva. Rather, they're
following the path of the majority of gedolei yisrael of all times.
 I'll conclude with a vort which might be controversial, but don't hold
it against me because it's not mine. Chazal say: if one resides in erets
yisrael it appears as thogh he has a G-d; if one resides in chuts
la'arets it appears as though he has no G-d. The sefer hachayim (written
by the brother of the maharal mi'prag)explains: it APPEARS as though he
has a G-d , for in reality he doesn't. The fact that issues of
natonality are of such priority in his eyes (more than mitsvot?)
indicates a deficiency in his belief of G-d. If , however he's happy and
content (whilst in galut) to live in chuts la'arets, for kiyum hamitsvot
is his high priority, not nationality, it APPEARS as though he has no
G-d ,but in reality he is the true believer. Don't judge by appearance
and extenal issues ;look at the deeper reality.
 Provacative? Yes! But 1)I warned you and 2) it's not mine!

From: Carl and Adina Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 02:01:45 +0200
Subject: Aliyah

Isaac A. Zlochower writes:

> The Rambam in Mishne Torah, Kings 5:12 does not mention Rav Yehuda's
> aphorism against going from Babylonia to Israel, but does cite the
> statement above about not going to other countries that was given in the
> name of Samuel.  The Rambam uses the verse in Jeremiah to support that
> position.  But if the verse really does imply something other than its
> simple meaning, why is Israel different than any other country relative
> to the ban against going out of Babylonia?  If Israel is, indeed,
> included (as per the Kesef Mishne -R' Yosef Karo) then how is this
> position consistent with the Mishna in Ketuvot 110b which states that a
> person can force his family to go with him to Israel and makes no
> distinction between Babylonia and any other country?  If the Rambam does
> not learn his din from the verse, but is only using it figuratively,
> then why is Babylonia given a privileged position since it was no longer
> a great Torah center in the Rambam's time?
> Any suggestions?

I'll take a shot at it. The Meiri in Ksuvos 111a s"v u'kshem, writes as
follows (my free translation):

"Just as it is forbidden to leave Israel and go to other countries, so
it is forbidden to leave Babylonia and go to other countries [Note that
he reads the Gemara the same way the Rambam does, as forbidding leaving
Babylonia to "other countries" and not forbidding leaving it to go to
Eretz Yisrael], for any place that has wisdom and fear of sin is
considered like Eretz Yisrael, as it was said, 'all who live in
Babylonia it is as if they lived in Eretz Yisrael,' for all that they
said was only because it is presumed that anyplace outside of Israel
does not have wisdom and fear of sin for Jews within all of the
suffering and the yoke of the exile that they suffer there, except
through hard work, and the pain of all the suffering that comes upon
them, and the leaving of worshipping Hashem to the few that call out to
Hashem. But in Israel it is presumed that there is wisdom and fear of
sin, until they on their own recognize the honor of their Creator and
are privileged to benefit from the glory of the Shchina, and on this
they said, even a maidservant in Eretz Yisrael has a promise that she
has a place in the World to Come, like it is said by the prophet (Yoel
3,2) 'I will spill my spirit also on the slaves and maidservants."

As I read the Meiri, he is saying that one should not leave a place that
is on the level of chochma (wisdom) and yiras chet (fear of sin) that
Eretz Yisrael is on min ha'stam (presumptively). But if one is not in
such a place, one should go to Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael is different
from other countries, because it is presumed to have these fine
qualities, while other countries are presumed not to have them.

I'm not sure the Kesef Mishna himself would hold that Israel is included
in the list of places one cannot go to from Babylonia. After all, he
does not bring the same din (law) in the Shulchan Aruch. He may,
however, have held that to be the Rambam's view.

Based on the Meiri, I think we can understand the Rambam as using
Babylonia to symbolize a place of wisdom and fear of sin.  But the fact
that he still uses Babylonia may hint to us that there has been no other
such place outside of Eretz Yisrael since the Jews left
Babylonia. Surely if the Rambam had meant anything other than a
hypothetical place outside of Eretz Yisrael, he would have mentioned
Spain, which was in its "Golden Age" at that time.

-- Carl M. Sherer
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son, Baruch Yosef
ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Carl and Adina Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 17:32:09 +0200
Subject: Aliyah and Cheshbon haNefesh

Aharon Fischman writes:

> Carl M. Sherer writes:
> >I know that I have made a lot of you feel uncomfortable with this
> >entire discussion. If it makes you feel uncomfortable enough to do
> >that real cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching) as to why you are not
> >here, then I think it inevitable that some of you will realize that
> >you ought to be here. In which case, I might have accomplished
> >something aside from raising everyone's blood pressure (including my
> >own)!
> I think Carl is right, and it follows what I had said earlier that the
> emotional decision is paramount.  All the issues pro and con of living
> in Israel vs. the Diaspora can be (and have been here) argued back and
> forth to no end.  Ultimately it boils down an emotional decision
> (chesbon hanefesh as Carl says) of whether one wants to or doesn't
> want to make Aliyah.  

I think Aharon misunderstood what I mean by a cheshbon hanefesh. I meant
it in the sense that the baaeli musar use it, and not in doing what
"feels" comfortable. I meant thinking hard, not about what I feel
comfortable doing, but about what Hashem wants me to do.

To illustrate, the following comes from Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's
Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter 3 (translation Feldheim's):

"To summarize, a man should observe all of his actions and watch over
all of his ways so as not to leave himself with a bad habit or a bad
trait, let alone a sin or a crime. I see a need for a person to
carefully examine his ways and to weigh them daily in the manner of the
great merchants who constantly evaluate all of their undertakings so
that they do not miscarry. He should set aside definite times and hours
for this weighing so that it is not a fortuitous matter, but one which
is conducted with the greatest regularity; for it yields rich returns."

It is my contention that for most of us, if we were really doing that
kind of examination of our ways each day with an eye towards improving
our performance as avdei Hashem (Hashem's servants), we would eventually
reach the conclusion that we can attain a higher spiritual level in
Eretz Yisrael than we can in the galus (exile), and we would take
concrete actions towards attaining that goal.

-- Carl M. Sherer
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son, Baruch Yosef
ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 08:36:17 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Funerals

Yes, there are many customs. In Yerushalim there are about 11 hevra
kadisha! Prof Benayahu wrote a book about the custom of not going to the
father's burial because of what happened at his father's (former Rishon
Lesion R. Nissim) funeral.  Flowers - in Israel at non religious
funerals.  Maybe because of there are so many customs, one should be
careful, not to cause hillul haShem, and hahaham enav berosho.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 12:48:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: One may be obligated to say bad things in certain Circumstances

David and Toby Curwin in mail jewish Volume 31 Number 59 writes
> addition: The sin of Dibat HaAretz (slandering the land) applies even
> when someone tells the truth (which was not done in the post Carl
> responded to-). >>>>> (I believe this refers to my post)
> The Netziv got angry at him again & said: "The spies also told the truth, &
> yet they were still punished, and this comes to teach us: Who ever tells
> "dibat ha'aretz", even if it is true, is like the spies, and his sin is
> unbearable..." (Sarei HaMeah 5:184)

Carl also made this point about Dibat HaAretz.

Already, Yitzchok Zlochower has protested comparing me to the spies. I
also vigorously protest that I violated the most heinous sin known to
Judaism, (slander). From a purely technical legal point of view you are
allowed and obligated to say bad things about a person or land or object
**IF** the statements meet the 7 criteria listed by the Chafetz Chaiim
which includes that(a) the purpose of such statements is to prevent
people from doing something bad for them (b) there is no
exaggeration. So just as I must tell a man about faults in a young lady
he is contemplating going out with seriously or just as I must tell
faults of a potential business partner so too I must tell faults of the
land of Israel to people who may go up there.

In fact at least 2 good things came from my post: (1) several people
pointed out that the situation has changed since the time that the
article that I cited had been written (there are legal changes in Israel
all the time) (2) several women have related personal experiences WITH
ADVICE...eg one piece of advice combined from several postings is that
young females who have characteristics that would probably invite
(unwanted) advances in the middle easy should delay their aliyah until
they are more established in their jobs.

I should emphasize that I do not consider the issues 'silly' or 'flimsy'
Several studies suggest that women like/pick jobs based on how their
peers treat them (workplace atmosphere) (while men are more likely to
pick/like jobs based on the opportunity for advancement). The chronicle
of higher education (sometime during the academic year 93-94) wrote an
article showing that highschool atmosphere was a **major** reason for
girls dropping out of high school (and I would imagine this observation
could be extended to jobs).

I believe the above two paragraphs should answer Yitzchok who suggests that
> perhaps it is a question of posting often enough that you are
> ultimately going to say something foolish.  It should be sufficient to
> point out the fallacies of his argument while avoiding personal attack.

Finally on a personal note to the several posters who suggest that I
have been rationalizing my own non-aliya: The reason I never made aliyah
had nothing to do with the posting I wrote---when I did inquire (several
times)about aliyah I was told that job opportunities were poor for my
professions and specialized fields. Also on a personal note (to the
person who suggested that "you and your wife would like it here in
Israel") I have never been married.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; Math; Towson University
Moderator Rashi Is Simple;


End of Volume 31 Issue 70