Volume 35 Number 87
                 Produced: Mon Jan  7  7:05:13 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Answering Heretics
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Collegiate Sabbatical Year
         [Joel Wiesen]
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Intermarriage (3)
         [Anonymous, Janice Gelb, A. Seinfeld]
Milton's knowledge of Rabbinics
         [Robert Werman]
Taking over non-Jewish Music (2)
         [Naomi Graetz, Yisrael and Batya Medad]


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Jay Hendel)
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 08:10:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Answering Heretics

With regard to responding to the ToratEmet issue:

Its my understanding that it is prohibited (under Jewish law) to
respond to Jewish heretics. 

So..who is writing ToratEmet.If they are Jewish we shouldnt be answering
them. If they are non-Jewish I would like to know how much damage is
being done (Are they really eg making religious Jews go astray?). For
example, do we have to answer every heretical idea---our time resources
might better be devoted to quality education

Then again: If people are being exposed to these ideas and it is eg
hurting teenagers maybe we should answer them?

I just want some clarificaiton on WHO is behind this and HOW MUCH
damage is being done

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.Com/


From: Joel Wiesen <Wiesen@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 10:21:49 -0500
Subject: Collegiate Sabbatical Year

Can anyone tell me if there is a Talmudic basis for sabbatical leave for

Joel P. Wiesen, Ph.D., Director, Applied Personnel Research
Newton, Massachusetts 02459-1715


From: Yeshaya Halevi <chihal@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 23:34:54 -0600
Subject: Conversions

Shalom, All:

	Michael Feldstein raises an interesting point when he says
<<What is more problematic for me is being invited to a wedding where
one partner has "converted" to Judaism (even though by the most liberal
Orthodox standards the conversion is not valid) and the wedding is
supposedly completely Jewish.>>

	This raises three major questions in my mind:

	1. I had always been told that converting to Judaism has to be
without an ulterior motive, such as marriage. However, the Torah itself
(D'vareem/Deut.  21:10) talks about a Jewish soldier who captures a
non-Jewish woman and wants to marry her. The Torah itself sets the laws
under which the soldier bring the woman into the Jewish community. That
being the case, why do we say one can not convert for the sake of
marriage? Surely the woman referenced in this Torah portion is not an
altruistic, pure-faith convert.

	2. What about the concept of "shelo lishma, sh'mayyvee lishma"
(loosely translated as "something not done for the proper reason can
eventually lead one to doing it for the right reason")? True, someone
may be converting only for a marriage, but this can lead them to being
Jewish for Judaism's own sake. I've seen this happen: people who
converted to Judaism got divorced but stayed Jewish afterwards
irrespective of a future marriage. (Would it matter what percentage of
divorced converts remain Jewish? The fact is that x% do remain Jewish.)

	3. When a person does convert for the sake of marriage instead
of pure faith, would that not constitute shalom bayeet (keeping peace in
the house)?  Shalom bayeet is a very powerful concept in Judaism: should
it be considered sufficient that a spouse converts to keep it?

Yeshaya Halevi (Charles Chi Halevi)


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 09:46:08 -0500
Subject: Intermarriage

"What is more problematic for me is being invited to a wedding where one
partner has "converted" to Judaism (even though by the most liberal
Orthodox standards the conversion is not valid) and the wedding is
supposedly completely Jewish."

My wife and I have been dealing with this very issue.  I'll share our
experience in the hope that there may be something people can glean from

In September, 2000 my wife's brother married a woman who converted via a
conservative rabbi.  The conversion was completed just prior to the
wedding, i.e. she wasn't a preexisting conservatively converted Jewess
when my brother-in-law met her.  To complicate things even further, my
bil is a Kohen.  (A Kohen is biblically proscribed from marrying a

We found out about this marriage about a year earlier.  That gave us
lots of time to do exactly what one is not supposed to do when seeking
rabbinic advice; we asked a whole bunch of Rabbis what to do.  We (and
my wife's sister who is also orthodox) asked renown rabbis from right to
left.  The one thing in common among all of them was that under no
circumstances could we attend the wedding.  Beyond that, the advice
ranged broadly from maintaining as little contact with the couple as
possible to attempting to actively m'karev them (bring them closer to
orthodoxy).  A noted Rosh Yeshiva in Jerusalem held the later position,
accepting the nearly insurmountable Kohen problem.  (He said he'd find
someone to marry them if she converts properly.)

We adopted the kiruv approach. We had them over for shabbos, gave them
books to read, etc.  While it seemed that she was sincere in her desire
to become Jewish it was also clear that she was not going to convert
properly before the wedding. As an aside, it became evident to us while
going through this why such a conversion is not accepted.  This woman
learned amazingly little of what we consider basic Jewish law.  She
learned nothing about the laws of family purity (we gave her a book on
the subject) and little about the basic laws of Sabbath observance.  She
did learn much about Jewish history.  In fact the first question she was
asked by the "bes din" (Jewish court) that converted her was, "Who was
the first prime minister of Israel"!

Our not attending the wedding put tremendous stress on the relationship
between my mother-in-law and my wife and her sister.  (My mil is not
orthodox, but belongs to an orthodox shul.  To her we were just being
closed-minded fanatics.)

We have maintained a relationship with my bil and his wife.  They've
even come for shabbos since the wedding.  The kiruv will be ongoing.  My
mil has gotten over it and things are pretty much back to normal with
her.  (The recent birth of our little girl helped speed things along in
that area.)

However, lest you should think that the saga is over, my bil and his
wife had a baby about a month ago.  Naturally this pregnancy caused much
anxiety for us.  On the one hand we hoped the baby would be a boy so
that should he eventually marry a Jewish girl the problem would sort of
correct itself.  On the other hand we dreaded the prospect of dealing
with a bris.  It was a boy.  Our rav surprised us when he advised that
my wife attend the bris.  (Just my wife, not me and the kids, which was
not such an issue as we live a 5 hour drive away from my bil.) Our rav's
primary concern at this point was to maintain shalom bayis (domestic
harmony) and he felt this concern out-weighed the potential that people
might perceive that we somehow accept this baby as Jewish.

It turns out that the mohel was orthodox. My rav suggested I call him as
he would be a potential kiruv contact for my bil.  I was also curious if
the mohel had been aware of the situation and if so how he handled the
bracha (blessing), i.e. so that it shouldn't be a bracha l'vatala (a
blessing said in vain).  He had been fully aware that the baby was not
Jewish. He said he performed the bris and said the bracha l'shem geirus
(with the intent of possible conversion in the future.)  As the mohel
explained to me, this did not make the baby any more Jewish but it would
save him the drawing of blood should he decide to convert later in life.

I'll let you know what happens in 13 years when we have to deal with the
bar mitzvah.

May moshiach come speedily in our time!

From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 08:54:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Intermarriage

<MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein) wrote:
> I take a similar position when invited to an inter-
> faith wedding: I will not attend, but I will not refuse 
> to have contact with the couple because of their 
> decision to intermarry.
> What is more problematic for me is being invited to a 
> wedding where one partner has "converted" to Judaism 
> (even though by the most liberal Orthodox standards the 
> conversion is not valid) and the wedding is supposedly 
> completely Jewish.  I haven't fully figured out in my 
> own mind what I should do in this case.  Fortunately, 
> the problem has presented itself only once, and i had 
> a handy excuse (besides my being uncomfortable) as to
> why I couldn't attend.

There are some other factors that might enter into this situation: Is
the partner who is acceptably Jewish the bride or the groom? Do the
couple intend to have a Jewish home? If the bride is Jewish and the
couple intend to have a Jewish home, then the children of such a union
are Jewish and will be raised Jewish.

-- Janice

From: A. Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 00:46:12 -0800
Subject: Re: Intermarriage

It seems to me that we owe it to any Jewish man planning to intermarry
to find a way to let him know that his children won't be Jewish. If done
in a matter-of-fact, non-condescending way (and in person, not via
email), most decent people won't take offense  it is, after all, just

In terms of attending such an affair, I've found the best line is the
same one I use to explain shomer-negia: 'Just one of the rules! - comes
across non-judgemental.

If it is a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man, there are poskim who
permit showing considerable 'support' (such as attending and standing in
the back) if it will enable future influence in raising the children.


From: Robert Werman <rwerman@...>
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002 07:45:23 +0200
Subject: Milton's knowledge of Rabbinics

Milton knew Hebrew, but got most of his knowledge of Rabbinics,
including Rashi, from Latin sources.  You'd be surprised at the number
of translations available to him in the 17th century.

For those who want to know more about Milton's use of Midrash,
particularly Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, for how much Hebrew Milton knew,
see my wife, Golda Werman's book: Milton and Midrash. Washington, DC:
Catholic University of America Press, 1995.

Fletcher is hopelessly out of date and exaggerates Milton's Hebrew much.

__Bob Werman


From: Naomi Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 09:31:08 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Taking over non-Jewish Music

 Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> wrote re: Taking over
non-Jewish Music " Surely the answer depends on how ingrained the
treif-ness is in the object, and it appears that music's level of
ingrained treif-ness is subject to debate!" This reminds me of when I
went to Massad Camps (both Aleph and Bet) from 1949-1961. In those days
we had an annual Maccabiah (color war) which was one of the highlights
of the summer. We had to write songs on various topics (in Hebrew of
course) and most of the choices were opera and classical music. Having
gone only to parochial schools (Ramaz Day School), I was totally
unfamiliar with church music. One of the most moving songs to which we
wrote hebrew words had the English phrase, "fall on your knees..." which
was a Christmas song in honor of J.C. etc. Most of us did not know the
source of the song and it passed. But when we performed it at the height
of the maccabiah, all hell broke out. Rabbi Louis Bernstein zal was then
the head of the camp and we all got into alot of trouble over that. Does
anyone on the list remember the occasion? I don't remember if it was my
team or the other team that was guilty. (I believe Mark Steiner was in
camp that year.) I think it ironic that most of my knowledge of
non-Jewish melodies came from those years.

Naomi Graetz
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Author of: Silence is Deadly: Judaism Confronts Wifebeating (Jason

From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 17:41:08 +0200
Subject: Taking over non-Jewish Music

Re Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> on 
 Taking over non-Jewish Music:-
> Surely the answer depends on how ingrained the treif-ness is in the
> object, and it appears that music's level of ingrained treif-ness is
> subject to debate!

Well, I guess one needs to ask Chabad about Le Marseillaise which they
use as a niggun, what their level of treifness is, no? (or was this
already mentioned?)


End of Volume 35 Issue 87