Volume 32 Number 31
                 Produced: Sun May 28 17:18:11 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bookburning and the Vilna Gaon
Circumcising Goyim
         [Michael Horowitz]
Collect Call game
         [Lawrence Feldman]
Erev Pesach- Shabat
         [Esther &Sholom Parnes]
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Israeli jobs
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Kefitzat Ha-Derekh
         [Arthur Kurzweil]
Maximum Tachanun Exclusions
         [Ed Norin]
Motion Detectors on Shabbos
         [Roger & Naomi Kingsley]
Out of print book
         [Stew Gottlieb]
Psalms as a source for spirituality
         [Lester Hering]
Seder on Motzei Shabbat
         [Batya Medad]
Shir shel yom
         [Irv Cantor]
Women and their obligation to Pray with A Minyan
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2000 23:39:25 EDT
Subject: Bookburning and the Vilna Gaon

<<  From: Sheri & Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
 I happen to currently be reading "Yahid be-Doro: Ha-Gaon Mi-Vilna -
 Demut ve-Dimui" [The Gaon of Vilna - The Man and His Image] by Immanuel
 Etkes (Merkaz Zalman Shazar: Jerusalem, 5758).  The book is a piece of
 careful scholarship that examines images of the Gr"a from later periods
 against the primary sources from his own lifetime, and from the
 testimonies of those who knew him in person.  Etkes' thesis is that
 there are, indeed, many misconceptions about the Gr"a.  But not
 everything is a misconception! >>

I have not read the Etkes book yet. I wonder if you saw the Elijah
Schochet book which is a great work lauded by Rabbi Berel Wein in a
blurb on the book jacket. Also the work 'hassidim unmisnagdim' by
M. Wilensky (Mosad Bialik) is fundamental.

One should also keep in mind what the third Lubavitcher rebbe
R. Menachem Mendel is reported to have stated - that the hassidim owe a
debt to the GR"A for opposing them, because that kept them from straying
too far from traditional ways (e.g. by stressing 'Kabbalah' excessively
as opposed to simple Torah [ways] (related in Mekor Baruch 2:619 by the
author of the ' Torah Temimah' - I believe it may be in an Artscroll
translation of the above too). It is a indisputable fact that
revolutionary movements, in which category hassidism was, often /
usually are prone to excesses.

Anyway - the points I previously made have not been refuted - that the
Tanya was not burned during the lifetime of the GR"A. Also - even if, as
you say, the GR"A was the strongest force of the misnagdim, still, the
facts show that many Rabbis were opposing hassidim - and not only in
Lithuania. Schochet, in chapter three of his work, lists well known
Rabbis from places other than Vilna who opposed Hassidim vigorously -
including such all time greats as the Noda biYehudah (Rabbi Y. Landau)
of Prague, the famed Rabbi Yaakov Emden, the author of 'Mirkeves
hamishna', the Frankfurt Jewish community, which excommunicated
R. Nathan Adler, etc. Also Schochet cites criticism of hassidism before
the Vilna excommunication(s) - in some cases well before.  Even though
the GR"A was as great as he was, still, to reduce all the other
participating Rabbis - some of whom were of substantial stature, to a
role of just being rubber stamps to the GR"A seems inadequate. As it was
just stated that the GR"A accused the bais din of Vilna of being too
lenient with the hassidim, it is clearly evident that they were not just
parroting his line word for word and exercised at least a measure of

It is not at all surprising that the existing Rabbis opposed a movement
that changed the traditional Ashkenazic order of prayer to a Sephardic
influenced one, opened competing synagogues, started their own schechita
(which was a serious - halachic and monetary - challenge to the existing
schechita of the Kahal), etc., etc. I am not passing judgement here -
just trying to set the historical record straight.



From: Michael Horowitz <michaelh1@...>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 13:58:20 PDT
Subject: Circumcising Goyim

My sister just mentioned to me that she had a "bris" to go to today for
a gentile female friends son.  I was suprised to find out that the mohel
is a prominent local orthodox mohel.

The father is Jewish, and of course that doesn't change the fact the boy
is a goy.  So I was wondering is it allowed under Torah law to do a brit
ceremony for non Jewish children.

This is not just a secular circumcision done by a mohel because of his
experience.  The parents certainly believe this was being done as a
jewish religious ceremony.

Problems I see with it are stealing, you are charging the parents for a
service they do not need.  Cruelty to children, a circumcision is very
painful to a child, so it is cruel to perform it if it is not a mitzva
from G-d.  Maraat Ayin, people will believe that the orthodox mohel
accepts this goy boy as a Jew.


From: Lawrence Feldman <dynamicduo@...>
Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 21:11:08 +0300
Subject: Collect Call game

In a recent posting regarding the 'collect call game' (v17), Daniel Wells 
makes a reasonable if debatable point:

 > The different positions surrounding the "call collect game" are like
 > that of the Jewish Vegetarian who holds that while Jewish Law allows
 > animal flesh to be eaten, prefers not to avail himself of it.

However, Mr. Wells goes on to make another assertion that, IMHO, is simply 

 >To deny the legal right under Jewish law is tantamount to apikorsus - a
 >denial of the truth of Jewish law.

The logical conclusion of Mr. Wells' statement is that the "navahl
birshut ha'torah" (roughly "the scoundrel who obeys the letter of the
Law"), whom the Ramban condemned, is actually a paradigm of
righteousness: if there's a loophole in halacha, then Hashem must have
put it there intentionally; hence exploiting the loophole is a veritable
mitzvah! Whether the loophole is in the spirit of the Law is apparently
of no concern. 

A 'counter-example' to Mr. Wells' statement comes immediately to mind.
The gemara in Perek Hazahav in Masechet Bava Metzia notes that although
one may legally back out of a deal if a kinyan (formal event of
transaction) hasn't been made, one who does so is subject to the Mi
She'para denunciation ("He Who exacted retribution from the generation
of the Flood ... will ultimately exact retribution from one who fails
stand by his word..")

Kedusha, it has been noted, is not only avoiding what is strictly
forbidden, but also involves moderating or even refraining from
indulgence in what is permitted.

Lawrence Feldman


From: Esther &Sholom Parnes <merbe@...>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 18:27:16 +0900
Subject: Erev Pesach- Shabat

I recall hearing a novel p'sak in the name of Rav Bezalel Zolti ZT"L,
former chief rabbi of Jerusalem.

The p'sak was given regarding the hotels in Israel that were full of
tourists for Pesach, and how they could deal with the issue of 3 sabbath
meals on Erev Pesach.

Obviously, whatever arrangement one uses at home presents greater
problems in a hotel setting because of the time constraints, the
logistics of serving Chametz, cleaning up and getting rid of the Chametz

Rav Zolti suggested that some of the matza bakeries bake batches of
kosher for Pesach Matzas with the condition that these matzas be baked
specifically "LO L'eshem mitzvat matza."  These matzas obviously
circumvented the Chametz problem and were edible on Erev Pesach and
lechem mishna viable, similiar to the stewed or fried matza mentioned in
Joshua Hosseinof's post.

Don't know if this p'sak was ever used.

Sholom & Esther Parnes
Hamelech David Street 65/3  -  Efrat 90435 ISRAEL
tel. 972-2-993-2227  -  fax. 972-2-655-5312 (attention : Sholom Parnes)


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 20:14:25 +0200
Subject: Haskamot

On Haskamot, see Aaron Ahrend's article "Haskamot le-Sifrei Kodesh
be-Dorenu", Alei Sefer, 18, 5756: 157-170, and literature cited there.

Yael Levine Katz


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 14:38:40 +0300
Subject: Israeli jobs

While Mail-Jewish is not generally the avenue for this, with the
moderator's permission I'd like to mention that our Jerusalem-based
software house will be moving to new, larger premises his summer (also
in Jerusalem, and is interested in hiring experienced programmers and
programmer team leaders. Our company, Versaware, is predominantly frum,
with about 75% of all employees (and almost all of management) frum. We
now number about 180 employees. We are willing to aid in relocation.

Our primary area is electronic books.

I would have posted this on the Tachlis list as well, but am at a loss
as to how to get to that list.

Shmuel Himelstein
Manager, Human Resources


From: Arthur Kurzweil <kurzweil@...>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 08:04:26 -0400
Subject: Kefitzat Ha-Derekh

There is a lengthy chapter called "Kefitzat Ha-Derekh: The Shortening of
the Way"  in Magic, Mysticism, and Hasidism: The Supernatural in Jewish
Thought (Aronson) by Gedalyah Nigal.


From: Ed Norin <EngineerEd@...>
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 23:05:42 EDT
Subject: Maximum Tachanun Exclusions

When dovening Mincha on Friday, May 5, I realized that I did not have to say 
Tachanun for four separate reasons:
1)  It was Rosh Chodesh
2)  It was the Mincha before Rosh Chodesh
3)  It was the Mincha before Shabbot
4)  It was still the month of Nisan
It struck me that if, God Forbid, I was dovening that day in the house of 
somebody sitting Shiva, I would have five reason's not to say Tachanun.  Is 
there any way to get more than five reason's not to say Tachanun?  Does this 
day in the calander have the maximum reason's for omission?


From: Roger & Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 00:14:22 +0300
Subject: Re: Motion Detectors on Shabbos

This may be a little late - but the subject is complex and intriguing,
and my son has shown me an interesting article in Tehumin (v. 14, p.432)
which is relevant to some of the issues.

The article concerns an interchange between Rav Yisrael Rosen (of Machon
Tzomet), Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l and Rav Y. Neuwirt (the author of
Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchoso) on the subject of closed circuit TV which
does not record.

Rav Feinstein ruled that "as this is writing which does not last, it is
at most a rabbinical prohibition.  And as from the point of view of the
passer-by it is at most a "p'sik resha d'lo ichpat lei" (an inevitable
consequence which is irrelevant to him), then it is mutar (allowed).
And also from the point of view of the setter-up of the camera there is
no prohibition, as it is set up before Shabbos."

Rav Neuwirt, with the backing of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z"l, held
that it is not writing at all, but wanted to know if "possibly when
no-one passed there was no current in the apparatus (as happens with a
loudspeaker)".  He was assured by Rav Rosen that this is not the case
with the standard TV cameras on the market.

This exchange seems potentially to settle the case of closed-circuit TV
cameras (as long as they do not record) and has some implications for
the case of motion-detectors where the controller is arranged to do no
work.  Of course, the possibility may exist that a motion detector does
pass current only when motion is detected - I am not an expert on this.
Then one would need to understand whether this creates a Torah
violation, so that "p'sik resha d'lo ichpat lei" might not be strong

Roger Kingsley


From: Stew Gottlieb <shmuel@...>
Date: Tue, 09 May 2000 13:40:44 -0400
Subject: Out of print book

Does anyone know where I might be able to get a copy of a book called
"The Rav Speaks: Five Addresses" by Rav Soloveitchik ?  I have tried
searching a number of sites for out of print books but have had no luck.

Any help would be appreciated.

Stew Gottlieb


From: Lester Hering <lhering18@...>
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 22:56:11 -0400
Subject: Psalms as a source for spirituality

I am preparing a series of talks on Thillim.  Can anyone recommend a
text(s) that presents the Psalms as a source for spirituality and


From: Batya Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 07:51:23 +0300
Subject: Re: Seder on Motzei Shabbat

" three small challah rolls"
I've been an Israeli housewife since 1970 and remember that pitot were
recommended, less crumbs.  We ate the "meal" on the merpeset.  Either the
entire meal, pre-measured so there will be no left-overs, out of the house
on disposable dishes, or just the bread part, bench, then the rest of the
meal in the house.  Purim meshulash will be fun for all, especially us in
Shiloh and similar cities, wherein there are two days in a regular year.
Lots of things to look forward to...
Batya Medad


From: Irv Cantor <ibclc@...>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 16:18:50 -0400
Subject: Shir shel yom

Can anyone give me source for a discussion of the reasons for each one
of the tehilim said at the end of davening each day, based on the
content of the particular perek that is said?  I've never seen an
analysis of this.

Irv Cantor


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 00:30:03 EDT
Subject: RE: Women and their obligation to Pray with A Minyan

In MJ 31:98, Rena wrote: <<< ... Women are not obligated ever to daven
with a minyan, but this has ... >>>

Russell Hendel disagrees, and in MJ 32:19 he responded:

<<< Actually according to the Rambam (a) All people (men/women) are
Biblically required to pray (Say Shmoneh Esray) when they have needs (b)
All people (men/women)achieve a higher status of prayer by praying with a
community (c) It is rabinically required to pray with a community (10
men) WHEN you have an obligation to pray. >>>

My understanding is similar to Dr. Hendel's, that according to the
Rambam, when a person is in trouble, there is a Biblical obligation to
pray, and this applies to both men and women. (See Sefer Hachinuch 433;
I'm not sure exactly where this appears in the Mishneh Torah.)

But there is no specific form which the Torah requires for that prayer.
How can it be possible that "all men/women are Biblically required to
say Shmoneh Esray when they have needs"? Does the Rambam hold that the
text of the Shmoneh Esray was known in biblical times?

My second question concerns Dr. Hendel's third point, in (c). Suppose
that a woman has needs of the sort which gives her a biblical obligation
to pray. Is there a Rambam somewhere which explicitly states that she
must say her prayer together with a minyan of ten men?

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 32 Issue 31