Volume 34 Number 23
                 Produced: Sun Feb 11  8:45:59 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Does your child go to the wrong school
Drinking on Simchas Torah
fish and milk
         [Eli Turkel]
Hunger Strike
         [Andrew Klafter]
         [Stan Tenen]
WItchcraft and Astrology
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 14:46:58 EST
Subject: Does your child go to the wrong school

I was having Shabbos lunch w/ longtime friends and they relayed to me
what happened when they moved into their new town:

Their community has two day schools, SCHOOL A - a Yeshiva Ketana (newer
and "blacker-hatted" or Agudah or Yeshivish, if we must have labels) the
other, SCHOOL B, frum, growing "blacker" but with some support from more
central orthodox (Young Israel, etc. -- for many years it was the only
school in town and thus serviced the community at large, including,
apparently some right-wing conservative -- from which it greatly
accepted financial support.)

After checking w/ their Rosh Yeshiva (a right wing Agudah type, if we
still need labels) they choose to send their youngest child to School B,
because of his special needs, etc.  They found themselves getting a cold
shoulder from some neighbors and people in their shule, etc.  It was
only when older sons returned home from their Yeshivas (very cohesive,
black-hat, etc.) and folks saw them, heard where they went, etc., that
people started warming up.

I've also heard stories that parents of children who go to School A
won't let their children play with children who go to School B, etc.

What's the lesson to be learned?  Does one jeopardize social standing in
order to get the "best fit" school for one's children?


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 05:47:29 EST
Subject: Drinking on Simchas Torah

<< From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
  With regard to the cherubim we are told in the talmud that when the
Romans entered the temple and found the Cherubim they asked aghast >Is
this what the Jews place in their temple<. This is similar to the
hypothetical reaction of Christians to Simcath Torah.......

I think this is a fundamental doctrine of Judaism (That sprituality
should uplift physicality) and I think we should be proud of it >>

What I criticized was drinking excessively, to the point of intoxication
(note that 'toxic' - meaning poison - is the root of the word
intoxication - for good reason). Intoxication is toxic physically and
spiritually. Judaism allows and sometimes advocates drinking in
moderation - but not to the point where it leads to dangerous, crazy and
disrespectful behavior.

The case of the Roman scoffing at the kruvim (cherubim) is dissimilar to
this case. The Kruvim symbolize holy (within Torah limits and
guidelines) intimacy - similar to what I am saying is the proper way to
celebrate and drink according to the Torah - with limits and not in a
hedonistic, wild way.



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 10:56:31 +0200 (IST)
Subject: fish and milk

> A while back someone asked about the custom of not eating fish with milk
> and I am not sure if anyone responded.  If these sources were already
> mentionned, I apologize.  I just came across a responsa written by
> R. Hayyim David Halevi in the posthumously published Mayim Hayyim vol. 3
> on the above subject.  Apprently the Beit Yosef in Yoreh Deah par. 87
> says "nevertheless one should not eat fish in milk because of the danger
> involved (hasakanah) as it is elucidated in Orah Hayyim par. 173".  As
> R. Halevi brings in his responsa this statement by the Beit Yosef was
> the cause of a bit of controversy.  There were some who said that it was
> either a typo or a mix up between the prohibition of eating fish with
> milk and that of fish with meat, thus the reference to Orah Hayyim
> par. 173 where things which are prohibited because of "hasakanah" are
> mentionned, among them eating fish and meat.  

Today there are new published version of SA based on early manuscripts.
Does anyone know if this appeared in the original SA?

Eli Turkel


From: Andrew Klafter <andrew.klafter@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 09:58:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Hunger Strike

> >Moshe Goldberg :
> >Can anybody on the list provide sources referring to whether it is
> >permitted to do such a strike, in view of the prohibition of inflicting
> >harm on one's body? Has this question ever been discussed from the
> >halachic point of view?<

> Russell Hendel:
>A few pros and cons may help the discussion. It is certainly permissable
> and even obligatory to make a one day fast on an important issue like
> Jerusalem(See Rambam laws of FASTS 1:1-4). The Rambams exact language is
> that > it is rabbinically obligatory to fast on every communal tragedy
> UNTIL there is mercy on them from Heaven<
> The Rambam then answers Moshes question in the next paragraph: >These
> (communal-tragedy-) fasts are not on consecutive days since most people
> cannot fast that much. Rather they are on Mondays and Thursdays<. So the
> Rambam seems to say that consecutive day fasts are permissable if the
> individual can medically endure it. Furthermore the Talmud relates the
> story of Rav Tzadok who fasted for 40 years to prevent the takeover of
> Jerusalem in Talmudic times.
> In passing a legal fast requires abstention of both food and drink
> during the day. Furthermore (Fasts 1:17) the obligation is to >Have the
> rabbinical courts sit and investigate community sins and help people
> repent<

However, Moshe's question is not really answered by the Rambam.  This
Rambam would seem to justify a hunger strike against God, as it were.
Moshe is talking about a hunger strike against a government, attempting
to persuade them to change their policies.  That is a quite different
undertaking, don't you think?  The principles underlying the sages'
institution of fast days have to do with the fact that God responds to
our prayers, not the fact that secular governments respond to them.



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 08:24:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Krakatoa

>From: Barak Greenfield <DocBJG@...>
>Stan Tenen <meru1@...> writes:
> > But the situation is pretty obvious.  Whether or not it was Krakatoa,
> > some major catastrophe did wipe civilization globally, at about 535 CE.
> > It really doesn't matter what the actual cause was -- although the
> > volcano is the best candidate.  What matters is that we take seriously
> > what happened to the Savora'im, and why the Geonim who followed
> > understood that they did not understand as well as their predecessors.
>This theory has yet to explain how ten cold years could accomplish what
>two churbanot (destructions of the Holy Temple), large-scale exiles, and
>numerous invasions and occupations could not: force such a profound
>break between one era of poskim (halachic authorities) and the next.

This is not a theory.  There are facts that are documented.  History
isn't a theory.  We know that our traditions were deeply affected
because the Geonim tell us that.  We know that the whole world was
affected, because tree-ring data tells us that.  We know that the Jewish
principality in Yemen was utterly destroyed by the breach of the great
dam that protected and irrigated it.  We don't know what happened to our
scholars who lived there.

There weren't "ten cold years".  There were three years without any
summer -- which meant that there were no crops.  Enormous numbers of
people were killed by starvation, and many seats of civilization --
besides ours -- were scattered, and most, broken.

After the severe weather disruptions, and likely because of them, the
plague was unleashed from Central East Africa.  The plague then
decimated the _known_ world, for about 150 to 200 years, with repetitive
periodic outbursts.  The population of East Africa, North Africa, Asia
Minor, and all of Europe south of the northern tips of Scandinavia, were
severely affected.

The Roman Empire went through some of its final spasms of collapse.
There were upheavals throughout Central Europe, with various barbarians
overwhelming various civilized city-states.

The tradition of the Savora'im ended, and was broken, and was only
_partially_ recovered by the Geonim.  The academies in Sura and
Pumbedita, etc., were devastated.  Some functioned only sporadically.
Our records are very thin, because of the depth of destruction and

You can read all about this in two ways.  You can read the history, as
put out by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratories, and
documented in David Keyes' book, "Catastrophe."  This gives the broad

You can also read Jewish histories, and search Jewish historical
timelines.  You can notice what our own sages said at the time, and you
can take them seriously.

Archeologically, you can notice that this was the period immediately
after which "pagan idolatry" was removed from _Jewish_ synagogues (as
opposed to Christianized ones) throughout the Middle East.  Those
beautiful mosaics of the zodiac, with Apollo the sun-god in the center,
which had crept into many synagogue designs (some of which still remain
for your inspection) were defaced.  I mean, "de-faced," in that the
designs remain, but the faces of the idols were chiseled out.  This was
because our people believed that the reason God had withdrawn the sun
was due to our idolatry.

The same destruction of idols and changes in religious doctrine and
belief occurred in other faiths in the area at the same time.  Each
culture thought its behavior had caused its god to fail it, and they
rebelled and looked for better faiths that were more potent in
protecting them.  Within 100 years of the catastrophe, Islam took hold,
and then swept across the area.  The general belief was either that
one's own god had failed, or that one's priests no longer knew how to
gain their god's favor -- or that enemies (other people's bad gods) had
attacked them.

By the way, who says that the two destructions of the Temple were not
catastrophic to us?  What is now known as Kabbalah is hardly more than
the distorted remnants of the priestly traditions whose knowledge was
maintained through the time of the Savora'im.  But with each
destruction, more was lost, and there came to be no prophets, and there
came to be a time when God's Name (or Place) could no longer be
pronounced even by the High Priest.

The destruction of the two Temples was horrific, but there was still a
maintenance of some level of knowledge.  After all, our sages were able
to write the Oral Torah as Talmud.  This was a desperate act.  Our sages
knew that it was not best to write Oral Torah, but they had no choice.
Knowledge of how to understand what they wrote with regard to priestly
functions, and what is now known as Kabbalah and the Sod level of Torah
was finally severely degraded by the time of the Geonim.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 08:20:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: WItchcraft and Astrology

There have been several recent postings on Witchcraft(v34n15). I would
like to disagree with several popular views. There **is** harm in
letting kids watch magic shows(cf D Hershkovitz); The rationalist
tradition of Judaism (including Rambam) **does claim** that witchcraft
was real (cf Ben Katz and Joshua Hosseinof)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I have a complete and detailed 4 page wp document on
this subject which I would be happy to post on the Mail Jewish Website
if there is interest. The WP document was originally a rejected letter
to the editor of the Journal Of Contemporary Halachah.Here is the
partial summary of this WP document which appeared on the email group
Torah Forum(See my Jewish Philosphy Page

The Ralbag (Gersonidees) on 1Samuel28 states that < seance makers caused
the participants to have visions even though there was nothing
physically out there to see> (I interpret this to mean that seance
makers cause HALLUCINATIONS.)

This is only a theory but using it we can explain the Rambam in Idolatry
Chap 11:15. (a) Actual witchcraft = causing hallucinatory experiences---
using witchcraft methods, is a capital crime while (b)just 'grabbing the
eyes'--appearing to cause hallucinations but not doing so (perhaps Magic
tricks which look like hallucinations but are not) would only be
rabbinically prohibited (Also see Kesef Mishnah on 11:9).

Notice that such a theory that WITCHCRAFT=HALLUCINATIONS and MAGIC
SHOWS= GRABBING THE EYES is consistent with the following statements in
Idolatry 11:15 (a) Witches don't really change reality (they just cause
hallucinations) (b) doing witchcraft or magic shows is a waste of time
since Jews should only engage in bona fide wisdom and the study of
Torah.  (Note: I infer from this Rambam that watching Magic Shows is
rabinically prohibited.. a view not shared by all legal authorities)

This is also consistent with History. Historical records suggest that
the Salem witch trials happened because of a bad crop and lack of
refrigeration (rye when it rots can produce chemicals that cause
hallucinations). So if a person served rotted rye and it caused
hallucinations then people would suspect them of being witches.  (Note
that according to the Rambam you need more than Hallucinations...you
also need 'the way of witches'--which might involve eg causing
hallucinations for purposes of procurement of abusing/using the victim)
(This interpretation of the Salem witch trials is actually suggested in
some books cited in my WP paper).

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA <rhendel@...>
Dept of Math; Towson Univ
Moderator Rashi is SImple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com/judaica.htm THE JEWISH PHILOSOPHY PAGE


End of Volume 34 Issue 23