Volume 32 Number 98
                 Produced: Mon Jul 17 23:16:28 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chalav Akum and "New" Chumros
         [Sam Saal]
Chumrash Mehadrin and Not Embarassing People
         [Russell Hendel]
         [Seth Lebowitz]
Derech Eretz
         [Hadassa Goldsmith]
Kocha Deheteira Adif
         [Zev Sero]
Lack of Response to Greetings
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
L.D. Schools (was Chumrot)
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Meshulachim and children
         [Louise Miller]
Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz (3)
         [Zev Sero, Anonymous, Carl Singer]


From: Sam Saal <saal@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 10:25:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Chalav Akum and "New" Chumros

Yaakov Rubin <yb770@...> wrote:

>May we safely enjoy and indulge in our "simply divine" Mars chocolate
>bar without feeling threatened by this all-encompassing view of Torah
>such as "ani lo nivraisi ela lishamesh es koni" i.e. that anything which
>doesn't directly assist my service of Hashem is purely unfit and will
>provide me with "chibbut hakever" [purgatory of the grave] and other
>'scary kelippah [evil forces] stuff' etc.), a view that is perpetuated
>by the "fanatics" who constantly try to "chumraise" themselves and
>provide us with guilt-feeling just as we're consuming our favourite
>chocolate bar , without them even feeling guilty for not relying
>regularly on this 'most convenient heter'? Is there no room for
>"cheshbon hanefesh" [serious introspection] and a "hachlata tova"
>[resolve] to improve our level of hiddur mitsva in the future?

There's a long way between avoiding holier-than-thou chumrahs and
falling prey to the evils of society. Wouldn't enjoying that chocolate
bar allow you to say two b'rachot (before and after) with even more
kavanah? After all, between ve'achalta (eat) and uverachta (blesss) does
come v'savata (be sataisfied).

>It's high time to reevaluate our priorities: good old-fashioned Torah
>and kiyum hamitsvos, constantly progressing from day to day, or
>integrating ourselves well into the modern and materialistic society and
>continuously regressing into the corruption and coarseness of the age of
>"instant gratification", 'everything goes' and constant indulgence.
>Just some food for thought.

For every Ben Adam Lemakom (man to G-d) chumrah taken on, do you improve
your, say, business ethics, as well?

Sam Saal            <saal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 00:25:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Chumrash Mehadrin and Not Embarassing People

A word about CHUMRAS and MEHADRIN. I attended the Ravs (Rabbi
Soloveitchicks) lecture for 7 years.  One Saturday night the Rav
cancelled. So, since I had nothing to do I went and attended the
Bostoner Rebbes (from Har Nof) melaveh malkah. I heard the following
beautiful story which I have never forgotten

It is related of one of the great Chassidic Rebbes (I forget which one)
that he once entered a house and commented that he sensed "Something
special".  Someone suggested that the owner went to a special forest to
get pure water for baking Matzohs every year. "This is important" the
Rebbe said , "but is not what I sensed".

Finally the following story came out: One year after having obtained the
Passover water, the maid of the house accidentally used it for washing
the floor. Upon finding this out the owner was careful, not only not to
embarass her, but did not even explain to the maid what she did! That
passover the Matzohs had ordinary Water.

"Yes...Yes..." the Rebbe said---this is exactly what I sensed.

The conclusion: It is allright to have chumrahs provided you don't tell
anyone about them and you don't embarass or put anyone down. I don't see
the (halachik) logic of having chumras in Kashruth and modesty if
simultaneously serious Biblical prohibitions of causing anguish to ones
fellow Jew are violated.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Moderator Rashi is Simple

PS If anyone knows which Chassiden Rebbe the above story is connected
with kindly let us know


From: Seth Lebowitz <LEBOWITZS@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 12:08:38 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

Bill Bernstein wrote:

"Minimally of course people ought to be following the basic
halakha....OTOH, an individual should strive to increase observance and
act stringently to fulfill all opinions"

Why should people be striving to act stringently to fulfill all
opinions?  Do all the opinions of poskim through the ages that don't
represent the strictest position on a particular issue, simply function
as (1) fallback positions for those in difficult situations or (2)
stepping stones for those who are not yet living an 'ideal' life
according to halacha?

I can imagine that there might be individuals who would always try to
follow the strictest view, but why should everyone do this?  -isn't this
a rejection of each person's own mesorah?

sincerely yours,

Seth Lebowitz


From: Hadassa Goldsmith <hbgold@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 14:02:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Derech Eretz

The topic of Derech Eretz seems to be on readers' minds of late. Now
that we are entering into the Three Weeks it is important to focus on
mitzvot bein adam l'chavero. If anyone is interested in improving
themselves and their communities in this area please visit OPERATION
REFUAH's website at www.operationrefuah.org or e-mail to

Let's try to turn this coming Tisha B'Av into a day of joy instead of sorrow.

Hadassa Goldsmith


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 16:37:42 -0400
Subject: Kocha Deheteira Adif

Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...> wrote:

>as I understand it, a basic principle is koach heter adif (the power
>of permitting is preferred), to allow as many people as possible to
>remain within the strictures of halakha.

Unfortunately, this is a misunderstanding.  What the principle koach
dehetera adif means is not that it is better to permit something than to
forbid it, but almost the exact opposite: that one must be more sure of
the correctness of ones position in order to permit something than in
order to forbid it.  Therefore, when a Rabbi of good reputation permits
something, one can be sure that he must have had a good proof that it is
indeed permitted, whereas when an equally reputable Rabbi forbids the
same thing, it doesn't necessarily mean that he had a good proof that it
is forbidden; perhaps he was actually in doubt, and that's why he
forbade it.

Zev Sero                Any technology distinguishable from magic
<zsero@...>       is insufficiently advanced.
                         - Gregory Benford 


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 10:22:55 EDT
Subject: Lack of Response to Greetings

Some people pointed out (MJv32n92) at attitude issue of lack of response
to greetings.

The highest standard for greetings was set by the tana Rabbi Yochanan
Ben Zakai, and often I have to remind myself that small petty bickering
should not dissuade us from using Rabbi Yochanan standard.

"amru alav al Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai shelo hekdimo adam shalom meolam
veafilu nochri bashuk" (Berachot 17a.) Free translation: It was said
about Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai that never did anyone managed to say
shalom to him first [for he was always first] including a gentile in the

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 19:17:33 EDT
Subject: L.D. Schools (was Chumrot)

<< Mr Horowitz wrote;
 2) Special education schools in every Jewish community. I am not sure
 this is actually a chumra.  As I understand the halacha a community is
 required to tax itself to educate Jewish children in the event a parent
 does not/cannot fulfill his responsibility in this regard. >>

I agree with the sentiment, not with the recommendation.  Every Jewish
school must have programs for special ed kids that allow the fullest
inclusion.  I feel enraged every time I read about Yeshiva
administrators referring to special ed kids as "garbage," or "problem
kids" (pick up a Jewish Press for more stories than you can handle).
These are kids like all others, and need to be treated as such.
American Torah education must belong to all of our youth, as all are
integral parts of the frum community.

I have seen Yeshiva students act in a detestable manner toward children
with disabilities, simply because of their disabilities.  It is a sad
state of affairs.  Public school kids, who ironically will literally
kill one another, would never, ever dream of taunting a child with a
handicap or special needs.  Where this Frum attitude comes from I don't
know.  I do believe a program of inclusion, will at least put us on the
track toward solving this anomaly.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000 23:00:11 -0700
Subject: Meshulachim and children

I guess I never noticed that my kids knew what the visits were all
about, until the evening when our stockbroker did us a favor and came
over to pick up an investment check.

My son asked me, "Mommy!  Is H. poor?  Then why did Daddy give him a

Louise Miller


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 15:55:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz

Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...> wrote:

>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). 
>And I don't quite know on what basis it changed.

My first guess is that the standard text in the Tena'im (at least the
one recited at every wedding at which I've bothered to pay attention to
it), which specifies `and they shall have equal control over their
possessions', gives the wife the right to donate however much she wants,
and therefore renders this halacha obsolete, at least among those
Ashkenazim who write Tena'im and use this text.  Though as I've posted
earlier, the Tena'im are actually an agreement between the two fathers,
and don't bind the couple at all, so I suppose the husband could still
object that he didn't agree that his wife would share control of the
family possessions, and he insists that she get his permission before
donating more than a trifle; but somehow I doubt that many husbands
would raise that particular objection, at least if they want to remain

Zev Sero                Any technology distinguishable from magic
<zsero@...>       is insufficiently advanced.
                         - Gregory Benford 

From: Anonymous
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 13:49:24 EDT
Subject: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz

What happened to derech eretz.?  I'll tell you!  It is missing, and from
some very early ages.  Last year I taught at an Orthodox high school.  I
was truly amazed at the Chutzpah of those kids.  Now, it is not that I
was a good teacher, but the way the kids acted toward me, the other
teachers, the Rabbis and themselves was appalling.  I assumed that the
problem was an outgrowth of adolescence.  How wrong I was.

My wife generally works at Non Orthodox preschools.  This summer she
took a job at a local Orthodox school.  I could not believe these
children!  I walked into the classroom at the end of the day, and one
child said to me, very plainly, "You are fat."  I was amazed.  I had
often visited my wife at other, Non orthodox schools, and no kid, would
ever, ever think of talking like that to each other, let alone an adult.

What took the cake, was the children's reaction to a Dxed autistic
child.  This child made some loud noise, and several children, much to
my amazement, turned to me and sighed, or smiled derisively, "She always
does that."  I was truly amazed and disheartened, that these feeling of
superiority, and derision start so early.

I am not going to claim I know who is at fault.  Is it the parents or
the school?  Whomever it is, this is intolerable at any school, let
alone a Torah institution.  No wonder our adults act without derech
eretz.  many of them have a mesorah from nursery on!

From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 06:55:53 EDT
Subject: Re: Whatever Happened to Derech Eretz

<<  From: Rachel Smith <rachelms@...>
 FYI, in the town of Ramapo (which includes Monsey, NY), soliciting
 without a license is illegal.  I once called the Ramapo Police
 Department and asked what would an officer do if he saw a person going
 door to door collecting.  The reply was that the officer would ask to
 see the person's solicitor's license, and if that were not produced he
 would ask the person to stop soliciting.  If the person continued to
 solicit, the officer would give him a summons.

 I told this to my Rav and asked if giving to a door-to-door solicitor
 constituted lifnei iver (or m'sayea) on a dina d'malchusa dina, and he
 said no.  >>

But you can be sure that if someone has a disagreement and calls the
police on this, that the media will pick it up and will make the worst
of it -- "Jewish Beggars arrested in affluent Jewish suburbs" -- or some
such rot.

About 2 weeks ago CBS primetime news ran an article on the ethnic
(tribal) wars in Africa and the mutilations (limbs cut off, etc.)  then
went on to discuss how diamonds are funding the rebels and then segued
to a picture of three Jews in Antwerp just as the news reported noted
that there would always be a maket for diamonds, legal or illegal.  I
wrote to CBS but haven't heard back.  The community seems silent ---
heaven help us all if other minorities had been so maligned -- their
activists would have taken to the streets and the media.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 32 Issue 98