Volume 32 Number 83
                 Produced: Tue Jul  4 19:23:14 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Eliezer Diamond]
Ethical/Halakhic Salary Dilemma
         [Warren Burstein]
'Mixed' religious/secular Jewish couples
         [Elanit Z. Rothschild]
Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz? (3)
         [Carl Singer, Yisrael Medad, Chana/Heather Luntz]
A winning coke bottle
         [Chaim Shapiro]


From: Eliezer Diamond <eldiamond@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 13:03:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Bookburning

    In the spirit of "derekh eretz qadmah la-torah" I wish first to
object to Yisrael Medad's use of presumptuousness ("The discussion was
*not* etc." - as though a discussion has formal predetermed parameters
or, alternatively, it were Medad's role to define what those parameters
are or ought to be) and snide condescension ("Now that I hope that is
clear"). I am all too familiar with these modes of discourse from my
professional academic life and I ask Medad not to use them in the
present context.

    As for matters of substance, I agree with Medad in one respect: My
remarks probably should have been directed to him rather than to Zev
Sero. My point was, and is, that the implication of Medad's remarks
seemed to be that, in theory at least, he would countenance the burning
of books at present. Other writers either understood Medad differently,
were unaware of this implication, or were not bothered by it. In any
case, those who wrote about the "historical" - to use Medad's term -
question of bookburning made no reference to its implicatins for
today. I found it disturbing that bookburning could be discussed without
considering these implications, particularly because this discussion
group is primarily about Torah, not history. The working assumption of
the group is, in my understanding, that "ma`aseh avot siman le-vanim."
Therefore, when we discuss bookburning in the past, it is useful and
important to acknowledege that this has implication for the present and
future as well.

    In fact, there have been Jewish bookburnings in modern times - one
example is the public burning of the Reconstructionist prayer book (I do
not remember at present who did the burning when, and I think it
happened more than once).  Moreover, our generation has witnessed a
related phenomenon, the excision of statements that part of the Orthodox
community finds objectionable (such as the censored version of R. Judah
ha-Hasid's Torah commentary and the Artscroll translation of Rav Zevin's
Ha-Mo`adim Ba-Halakhah, which deletes his positive sentiments concerning
the State of Israel). I am opposed to this censorship and my insistence
that one consider the question of bookburning as a present-day religious
and intellectual question is rooted in part in that oppostion.

    Finally, Yisrael Medad seems to think that the question of whether
or not Mein Kampf or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ought to be
burned is a rhetorical one. For me it is not: I am unalterably opposed
to the burning of any book, including the two mentioned above. The first
reason for my stand is that I hold very dear the right of free human
expression. Clearly this must include protecting the expression of views
that I find hateful. The second is that, as in the case of the burning
of Rambam's writings and the subsequent and consequent burning of the
Talmud, once the bookburning genie has been let out of the bottle it is
very difficult to put it back in. I do not trust anyone, including and
especially myself, to have the wisdom to know what must be burned and
what may remain. Third, in the particular case of books such as Mein
Kampf and the Protocols, we need not to burn these books so that we can
read them, understand better what and how our enemies think, and find
ways to respond effectively, in the spirit of "dah mah le-hashiv le-
epikoros." If we burn the book, we do not destroy the idea; we merely
send it underground, where it often proves to be more
dangerous. Consider, for example, the net effect of censorship in Soviet
Russia; its main accomplishment was to encourage creative circumvention
through the writing of clever allegory and the widespread circulation of
samidzat, which were subject to no government regualtion whatsoever.

    Of course, there is another solution: Burn the people who write the
books.  That, of course, was what Kafka prophetically foresaw.


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 01:13:48
Subject: Ethical/Halakhic Salary Dilemma

Before I made aliya, a speaker at a campus aliya organization (who I
think was a Shaliach Aliya) spoke of the same problem at his job at a
goverment-owned company.  He asked his rabbi, who replied that as a
civil servant, he fills out the same form (and while he didn't say any
more, the implication was that since no one cares if one drives the
specified number of kilometers or not, it isn't lying).  The speaker
wasn't satisfied with this answer, and added the word "not" to the form
so it read "I did not drive X kilometers", which made no difference to
his paycheck and allowed him to not have to sign his name under a lie.

My paycheck includes all sorts of allowances - car, telephone, and some
that I don't have any idea what they're for - but I'm not asked to sign
anything that says that I drive, use the phone, or otherwise use the
money for the stated purpose.


From: Elanit Z. Rothschild <Ezr0th@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000 23:57:15 EDT
Subject: Re: 'Mixed' religious/secular Jewish couples

Anonymous wrote in MJ 32:69:

<< From the little bit of anecodatal evidence I've heard on this (and it
 seems intuitively right), it seems that in such cases, children are in
 the long-term more likely to end up non-observant than where both
 parents are observant.  Does this square with people's experiences? Of
 course people also leave observancy even if they grew up in an observant
 family, but that may be for different reasons.

 What do the Jewish sources say about such matters? >>

I'm not sure what you mean by "Jewish sources," but from personal
experience I can tell you this: My siblings and I were raised in a
"mixed religious/secular" home (I call it "traditional,"
i.e. "mesorati"), and, like us, all of the traditional friends that we
had growing up, were sent to yeshiva day schools and high schools.  It
sounds ironic, but my parents (and I presume my friends parents as well)
wanted us to learn the Jewish tradition and Torah as well.  My sister
and I became observant during high-school, and so did many of our

I obviously can't quote you serious statistics, but it is not
necessarily true that children raised in a traditional home end up
non-observant.  Apparently, at least in the cases that I am aware of, it
is the exact opposite.

<<  I would think that even if one keeps an observant atmosphere at home,
the fact that one of the parents for example doesn't keep kosher outside
of the home, can't but impact on the children's development (in this
particular example, they would probably think keeping kosher clearly
isn't very important, I would think). >>

I don't think that that is such a fair statement.  If keeping kosher
wasn't very important to the parents, than there would be no point in
keeping kosher in the house, either.  And the impact on the child(ren)
isn't as negative as one would think.  Although from the outside it
might look a bit hypocritical, you quickly realize that it is not,
because Judaism is not a do-all or nothing religion.  And if the child
is in a Jewish day school, he learns pretty quickly of the religious
analogy to the escalator (that, in Judaism, one's religious life is
never stagnant; you are always on your way up or down at one point or

Elanit Z. Rothschild


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 09:52:13 EDT
Subject: Re: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz?

I feel a bit like a detective.  You live in a 'borderline neighborhood',
but meshluchim still come to your door.  And one who had a cell phone?
How lucky can you be.

Some years ago -- perhaps someone from Edison / Highland Park has a
better memory to the the details -- the community was being overrun with
meshluchim, many of questionable authenticity -- among other failed
attempts was getting some kind of local "certification" -- someone to
call Israel or wherever to check their credentials, then take a photo
and prepare a certificate, etc.  -- when the dust settled, this turned
out to be too much work (volume & time spent) and somewhat unpleasant at
times for the volunteers and the program folded.

I do recall, however, that one of the local Rabbi's (an LOR, as we're
been saying on the web) suggested (I don't know if he paskened, per se)
that a woman who is alone at home need not open the door for a male
stranger.  With the standard previso of CYLOR, it would seem that this
is even stronger considering the neighborhood and the late hour.

A bit of unsolicited advice (and hard as I try, I don't follow it

Try to look from the inside outwards vis a vis tzedukah -- i.e., I have
$X to give to tezdukah (based on tithe, circumstances, etc.)  How can I
best PLAN to distribute that money -- in accordance with halachik
requirements (certain community institutions come first) and my feeling
towards various organizations, etc..

Rather than from the inside - out: i.e., there's someone at my door or
in my mailbox -- how much do I give them.

Although I've never said no to someone at my door, this viewpoint has
strengthened my resolve to be comfortable giving only Chai or whatever
-- because despite the worthiness of the cause -- it's an allocation
issue -- there are causes closer and worthier to me, and I am, in effect
robbing Yankel to pay Shimon.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer

From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 19:32:42 +0300
Subject: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz?

I find that if I ask how much a commission they receive, it can put them
in their place.  Also, ask for a receipt.  here at Shiloh, we insist
that the Rav supply them with an "ok" note.  But, of course, all this is
for when you're not in the mood to give.

and ps.  congrats on the fact that the next posting from her husband
correlated with the facts of the story.  not bad at all.

From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 22:19:18 +0100
Subject: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz?

In message <20000703102424.26334.qmail@...>, Aliza
Fischman <fisch.chips@...> writes:
> I was nursing, my mother had
>gotten undressed and into bed (she was not fasting well), and my father
>wasn't home from work yet.  As such, my husband answered the door.
>There were two Hebrew speaking meshulachim.  My husband speaks Hebrew,
>but, like most Americans, is by no means fluent.  He explained that this
>was not his home and that my mother was asleep because she was not
>feeling well, and that my father was not home.  These men had the
>chutzpah to actually say, "Please wake your mother-in-law." 

This raises something that I have wondered about for a while.  The
halachas of tzedaka as set out in the Shulchan Aruch are quite clear,
that a collector of tzedaka is not allowed to take from (at least a
married) woman anything more than a d'var m'uat [a small amount, a
trifle] (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah siman 248 si'if 5).  The meforshim
there discuss various scenarios (eg the Pischei Teshuva brings a teshuva
of the Noda B'Yehuda that permits if she specifically says the husband
permits, and he has made her his shaliach) and presumably it would
depend on the financial arrangements in the household, but the standard
arrangement where the husband provides support [mezonos] for his wife
means that taking anything approaching a significant amount from the
wife without knowing that the husband agrees would seem to be defined in
the halacha as theft [gezel gamur].

And my understanding is that, up until relatively recently, this halacha
was reasonably widely observed, ie meshulachim always used to insist on
talking to the father of the household (if anything, I know a number of
women from the older generation whom this used to annoy). And I don't
quite know on what basis it changed.  Admittedly, the impact of feminism
has meant a greater number of women earning, and a greater number of
single women with disposable income who are not living in their father's
house or being supported by him (into which category I would guess that
the Anonymous of the orginal posting falls).  And while the language of
the Shulchan Aruch refers to women, without qualification, and not
solely to married women, the substance of the discussion of the
surrounding commentaries appears to suggest this is not refering to
single self supporting women.

But in a case like the mother described above we are clearly not talking
about a single woman - so I was wondering on what basis, al pi halacha,
this meshulach could have taken money from her (and i assume he was
after something more than a trifle, if he was willing to wake her up)
even if she had been up and about and ready and willing to answer the

Kind Regards



From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 01:19:37 EDT
Subject: A winning coke bottle

Coke is currently running a promotion by which an individual can win up
to $1,000,000 with a single can/bottle.  A wonderful event to be sure,
if one is lucky enough.  But, what if the ownership of the can is not so
clear?  Here are several possibly scenarios in which ownership of the
can may be in question.

1) I have guests at my house, and I am serving coke.  A guest pops open
a can which is a winner.  I see several way to look at this situation.
I you are in a State with a deposit on bottles, I would assume that the
host fully intends to give the guest only the soda within the can, but
not the can itself, meaning that the prize should belong to the host.
The one problem with this approach is the fact that if the guest had not
finished his soda in his one sitting, and took the remainder home, most
hosts would not be makpid (concerned) about the lost deposit, allowing
the guest to take the can home and redeem it himself.  Can it therefore
be claimed that the can was given to the guest as well as the soda, in
which case it would appear the prize belongs to the guest (akin to candy
bar wrapper which wins a prize.  No one is Makpid on the return of their
paper wrappers)?

What of State's without deposits?  Can it be safely assumed that the
owner is not makpid on the can and therefore any prize would always
belong to the guest?

2) A guest is leaving my house and I throw him a coke for the road.  I
would claim that whether there is a deposit in that State or not, the
prize belongs to the guest, as the soda and can were given to him
without any thought of having the can returned.

3) What if the winning bottle is at a Shul kiddush.  Whether there is a
deposit or not, I highly doubt the shul, which deals in large quantities
of food checks the bottle to see if there is a winner.  Had I not
checked, the bottle would most probably have been thrown out.  As a
further point, what ownership, if any does the shul retain on any food
or disposable utensils it puts out for a kiddush?

4) A bar mitzvah at a hotel in a state with or without a deposit.  A
third party (the caterer) is putting out the soda, and would retain any
soda cans not used at the bar mitzvah.

5) A wedding in which there are arguably two hosts (both families).  If
the Halacha is that the host would receive the prize in the bar mitzvah
case, which family would receive it?

Chaim Shapiro


End of Volume 32 Issue 83