Volume 32 Number 28
                 Produced: Sun May 28  9:31:55 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Administrivia - Israel Gerver, A"H
         [Adina Gerver]
         [Eliezer Diamond]
Call Collect
         [David Charlap]
Each word divine (2)
         [Jonathan Baker, Mordechai]
Postdated Gittin
         [Jerome Parness]
Rabbenu Yonah
         [Eli Turkel]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 06:12:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Volume 32 number 24 appears to have been a fluke of the mailing software I
use and was created, as far as I can tell, as an empty issue and then sent
out as such. Numbers 23 and 25 are what I remember sending out last
evening, so I don't think any submissions got sent into that great
circular bit-bucket by whatever happened.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Adina Gerver <gerver@...>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 18:16:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia - Israel Gerver, A"H

I regret to announce the passing of my grandfather, Israel Gerver. My
father, Mike Gerver, will be sitting shiva at my grandmother's house in
NY until sometime next week, and will be finishing shiva at our home in
Brookline, MA until Thursday morning (June 1).

You can e-mail my father at <mjgerver@...>

Adina Gerver

[Mike has been an active member of this list for a long time. I'm sure
that many on the list will join with me as we express our sorrow at his
loss, HaMakom yenachem eschem besoch shar avlei Tzion veYerushalayim -
May the Almighty comfort you among all those who mourn in Tzion and
Yerushalayim. Avi Feldblum]


From: Eliezer Diamond <eldiamond@...>
Date: Fri, 05 May 2000 16:14:19 +0000
Subject: Re: Bookburning

Contrary to my usual practice, I did not respond immediately to Zev Sero's
posting concerning bookburning, hoping against hope that someone else
would feel the need to respond to his seemingly matter-of-fact acceptance
of bookburning as a part of Jewish practice. To the best of my knowledge,
the only related posting thus far has been Mordechai's pointing out
that it may not have been the Gra who burned the Tanya or R. Jonah who had
the Rambam's works burned but rather a group of students or colleagues -
as if that made things better!
To me it is clear that there was a straight line from the burning of
Rambam's Guide to the burning of the Talmud in Paris in the 1240's and
the auto-de-fe of the Spanish Inquisition. I don't understand how those
who have seen pictures of Nazis making bonfires of Jewish and other
"contaminated" writings can have anything but repugnace for the burning of
any book, however much one might disagree with or even revile it. I, for
one, thank God that I live in a time and place where I am free to read
any book I wish and consider its ideas without having someone decide in
advance whether I should have access to those ideas. The way to fight
repugnant concepts and statements is with other ideas - or, sometimes,
simply with silence. Kafka was all too prescient when he observed that in
a place where they burn books they will soon burn people.

Eliezer Diamond


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 10:56:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Call Collect

Daniel M Wells writes:
>> This has been said before... but just because it's legal, doesn't
>> make it right.
> I don't understand your logic. If Jewish and or civil law don't see
> any reason to forbid an action, then one has a perfect RIGHT to avail
> oneself of that action.

No.  And for several reasons.

1: In Judaism, you don't have a "right" to do anything.  There are
   things you are obligated to do, and things you are prohibited from
   doing.  There is nothing else.

   Actions for which you are neither obligated nor prohibited are
   simply things you may choose to do or not do.  You do not have a
   "right" to do them.  Nobody is obligated to make it easy or
   convenient for you to do these things.

   The concept of "rights" is very popular in Western legal systems
   but it has no basis in Jewish law.

2: The concept that everything not explicitly forbidden is perfectly
   acceptible is just plain wrong.  There are plenty of examples in the
   Tanach where people performed actions that were technically legal,
   but nevertheless got them punished by God.

   The example I always point out is the scenario between King David,
   Batsheva and Urial the Hittite.  David saw Batsheva and decided he
   wanted to marry her.  So he sent her husband on a suicide mission,
   on which he died.  Then he married her.  Afterwards, God punished
   him for this with the death of his son.

   What David did was perfectly legal - from a technical standpoint.
   A king is allowed to send any soldier on any mission, even suicide
   missions.  And a king is allowed to marry any single woman he wants,
   even widows.  Nevertheless, David was punished, because what he did
   was wrong, despite it's being legal.

   Another example, from the Medrash, explains the reason for the
   Great Flood (that Noach survived).  People routinely stole from one
   another, but in quantities too small to be punished for.  For
   instance, if a man would be carrying a basket of peas to market,
   hundreds of people would steal single peas from him.  No single
   theft could be punished, due to the small amount stolen, but the
   man would be left with nothing to sell anyway.  This was so wrong
   that God saw fit to destroy the world over it - despite the fact
   that nobody technically committed any crimes.

> To deny the legal right under Jewish law is tantamount to apikorsus -
> a denial of the truth of Jewish law. And obviously we are talking in
> a situation where a person does have a psak to make use of the "call
> collect game".

Please cite a source for this.  Show me some psak that states this
behavior is the right thing for people to be doing and not just
something that is permissible on the basis of a technicality.

> Fairness is dependent on either what has been agreed upon or that
> which is 'minhag hamakom' - local custom.

And if local custom is to steal miniscule amounts from large
corporations, that makes it the right thing to do?

-- David


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Thu, 4 May 2000 11:15:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Each word divine

> From: Moshe Rudner <mosherudner@...>
> The Rambam wrote that every word of Torah was written by Moses as
> dictated by G-d (Tfillah 13:6). He also wrote that anyone claiming
> otherwise, even that one letter was not dictated by G-d to Moses, is a
> Kofer BaTorah and has no portion in the world to come (Tshuva 13:8). The
> Kesf Mishneh wrote that Maimonides's decision is based on Sanhedrin 90b
> and 99b.

Actually, that's not the Rambam's position.  I was surprised to find this
out, but really, divine dictation is not the Rambam's position.  Yes,
he says in Hil. Tefillah 13:6 that all of the torah is "mipi gevurah",
and in Tshuva 3:8  (Tshuva only has 10 chapters, so it fits with the
custon to study one chapter a day during the Ten Days of Repentance
encouraged by the Briskers [Soloveitchiks and their followers]) that
"one who says that Moshe composed one verse by himself denies the Torah".

Remember, however, Rambam's position on anthropomorphism.  How could
he have received dictation from the "mouth" of God when God can have 
no mouth?  Rather, a careful reading of the Eighth Principle from the
commentary on Perek Chelek tells us something else.  God communicated
with Moshe by means of waking visions (other prophets only received
visions while sleeping, or in trance states).  These visions conveyed
precise ideational content, which Moshe then wrote down in words that
corresponded exactly to the information being conveyed.  But the words
came from Moshe.  The ideas came from God.

This is all consistent: it comes direct from God (mouth to mouth, as
it were) to Moshe, awake.  Not  one verse is based on Moshe's own 
thought.  Since Moshe received precise information, while awake,
his prophecy was an order of magnitude greater than that of other
prophets, who received vague allegorical visions, while asleep or
in trance.

> What do other Rishonim have to say on the topic?
> Ibn Ezra feels that the last 13 verses were written by Joshua. What does
> he hold with regards to the rest of the Torah?

There are those (Jeffrey Tigay, among others) who  bring the censored
intro to the Yosef Bonfils (1370) supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, which
suggests that there are other passages Ibn Ezra found questionable/
anachronistic.  There is, however, no direct evidence of that in Ibn
Ezra himself.  Bonfils bases it on references to "secrets".

> I once heard that a letter recently showed up authored by Rabbi Yehudah
> Halevi (or was it HaChassid) saying that not all of Torah was Moshe MiPi
> HaGvurah. Does anyone have any more information on such a letter or on
> opinions of other Rishonim in this area?

Yehuda heChasid.  R' Moshe Feinstein demonstrated in a teshuvah that
those passages were later insertions or forgeries.  OTOH, it's possible
to argue that such arguments are themselves suspect, in that they aim
to exculpate a famous figure from heresy - "he couldn't have thought
that, he was a chasid".

> Also, when the angels leave Avraham (Genesis 18:22), G-d is still there
> being as he had not yet left since "Vayera", but the Passuk says that
> Avraham still stood before G-d. Rashi explains that "Tikun Sofrim Hu Ze"
> to say the more respectable, "And Abraham was still standing before G-d"
> rather than the reverse. In some editions, Rashi goes on to say, "Asher
> Hufchuhu Zichronam LiVracha Lichtov Ken" which seems to very clearly say
> that Chazal changed the actual text.

Tikun Sofrim is a big question: did Chazal change them, or were they always
there, and sofrim knew about them and knew to write one thing while saying
another (substitution of vayashkevu for vayashgelu [lay with, rather than
a coarser term] being another one).  A similar question is raised by the
dotted words, which are brought in Mas. Sofrim near the end as places where
Ezra (who re-edited the Torah after the first exile) wasn't sure of a word
or a spelling, and left them dotted so that when Moshiach comes, he can
say "if it was right, I added it, if it was wrong, I dotted it as

Jonathan Baker     |  What is the 7th verse of the piut Shir haChodoshim?
<jjbaker@...>  |  The Nissan Stanza.  [1st verse in the orig. ms.]
Web page update: Teachings of the Rav http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker/

From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 16:35:47 EDT
Subject: Each word divine

<<  From: Moshe Rudner <mosherudner@...>
 Ibn Ezra feels that the last 13 verses were written by Joshua. What does
 he hold with regards to the rest of the Torah?
 Also, when the angels leave Avraham (Genesis 18:22), G-d is still there
 being as he had not yet left since "Vayera", but the Passuk says that
 Avraham still stood before G-d. Rashi explains that "Tikun Sofrim Hu Ze"
 to say the more respectable, "And Abraham was still standing before G-d"
 rather than the reverse. In some editions, Rashi goes on to say, "Asher
 Hufchuhu Zichronam LiVracha Lichtov Ken" which seems to very clearly say
 that Chazal changed the actual text.  >>

re who wrote the last 13 verses of the Torah - that matter is discussed
in the gemara (bava basra ?) I believe. The question is how could Moshe
have written the verses that record his death and it's aftermath.... Ibn
Ezra just adopts one opinion in the gemara evidently - that Yehoshua
wrote them.  Another opinion in the gemara is that Hashem dictated them
to Moshe before his death and Moshe wrote them in tears.

re 'Tikun sofrim' - An excellent essay on the topic is published in a
book by the late Rabbi David Telsner z"l called 'Assif' (Jerusalem
5750-Machon 'Tal Orot') [pages 409-415]. I recommend that the essay be
studied. However, I will mention some of the points made there.

Rabbi Yosef Albo, in the classic 'sefer haIkkarim' (book of fundamentals
[of Judaism]) writes that G-d forbid to say that it means that (a) later
editor(s) changed the text of the Torah. Rather it means that the
original text was written in a few places in the style / manner of an
edited text. Rav Yosef Kara explains this explanation further with the
following parable. It is similar to a case in which King David commanded
his scribe to record that 'David commanded so and so to do such and
such'. The scribe would write 'King David commanded so and so to do such
and such'.

A responsum of the Rashb"a (7:361) in explaining 'tikun soferim' also
clarifies that what is meant is not a later editing of the text - rather
that the text's original form was in the 'edited' manner.

Mahara"l (Gur Aryeh Bireishis 18:22) also explains that it means that as
we are taught that the Torah speaks as people do [in human idiom], so to
the text sometimes was originally written in this 'edited' manner.

Shada"l also discusses the matter, adding valuable insight.

He says that being that we know how careful the ancients were to
preserve the text of the Torah without change, it is difficult to
believe that they would themselves have changed it in a few places. In
fact, we know there are a few places where the Rabbis decreed that
certain words that could be seen as repulsive not be read as written -
rather differently - but they did not therefore amend the written text!
This shows that this was not something they engaged in.

Also - being that there were different, competing groups in ancient
Israel - e.g. the Saducees (Tzaddokim) and others that opposed the
['pharisaic'] Rabbis - How would it be possible that the Rabbis would
have been able to change the text in these 18 places without a sustained
uproar from opponents and no historical record of any such controversy?

The article also points out that a number of the texts (e.g. of Rashi)
that seem to say that the Rabbis changed the Biblical text are actually
altered texts themselves (comparison with earlier editions shows this).



From: Jerome Parness <parness@...>
Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 12:12:09 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
Subject: Postdated Gittin

Chaim Mateh wrote:

>  Does anyone know of such a "kosher" post-dated get that would free an
> agunah from a husband who is physically incapable of giving a divorce?
> If yes, who are the Rabbis who authorize such a post-dated get and
> does anyone have an example of the text of such a get?

It is my understanding that such post-dated gittin al-t'nai were written
and deposited with batei din by soldiers going off to war in the times
of ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah in order for women not to be
agunot if their husbands did not return from war and there were no
witnesses to their deaths.  Such gittin might fit the situations that
you are talking about.

Jerome Parness MD PhD
Associate Professor and Director of Research
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ; New Brunswick/Piscataway, NJ


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 14:42:02 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Rabbenu Yonah

> I just want to state for the record, that the Gaon of Vilna alone did
> not personally burn the Tanya AFAIK. If it was burned, it was by order
> of a bais din / group of Rabbis I believe - and I believe it ocurred
> after his death, if it occurred.  Some books discuss this. An English
> book is 'The Hassidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna' by Elijah
> J. Schochet (Aronson publishing).  There are some misconceptions / false
> information floating around about the GR"A. One should first verify the
> facts from a neutral and reliable source before saying certain things.
> Presumably the same with Rabbeinu Yonah - that there were a group of
> Rabbis that held as he held - not just him alone.

To the best of my knowledge Rabbenu Yonah never wrote anything about the
burning of Rambam's books.  Later generations said that he regreted the
burning when he saw the harm that it caused and the burning of the
Talmud.  I assume that later mitnagdim also regreted most of the extreme
anti-hasidic actions when they realized that book burning does more harm
than good even when the book is not to their liking.

Eli Turkel


End of Volume 32 Issue 28