Volume 38 Number 03
                 Produced: Sun Dec 15 22:19:42 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Advice on Growing an Esrog Tree
         [Meir Possenheimer]
Better question - Role of Hashkafa
         [Ben Katz]
Making of a Gadol
         [Marc Shapiro]
Mikets /Vayigash
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Rambam and Moshe
         [Eli Turkel]
The Rambam on Kollel
         [Michael Kahn]
Sons, si. Servants, no


From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
Date: Sat, 14 Dec 2002 19:19:42 -0000
Subject: Re: Advice on Growing an Esrog Tree

> From: Vicky Kennard <Vicky@...>
> We planted some esrog seeds after Sukkos and to our great surprise we
> have five shoots. They are all in one pot in a cold hallway (this is
> Manchester, north England). My kids are already calculating how much we
> will make when we sell all the esrogim!! How can I make their dreams
> come true?
> Any tips on esrog growing would be welcome.

I can heartily recommend that Mrs K purchase a slim paperback entitled "The
Pip Book" by Keith Mossman, published by Penguin Books.
I have been using it for many years now and have been delighted with the
results of its suggestions and advice.
Meir Possenheimer


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 16:51:09 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Better question - Role of Hashkafa

>From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
>>1. What place does "Ideology" have in a question of Hilchos Shabbos?
>>The Chazon Ish had much to say on the subject.
>I think a broader and better question is what is the role of hashkafa in 
>halachic decision making.?

        a lot.  halachic decision making is not made in a vacuum.  for
better or worse, sociological factors play a big role.  on a general note,
many times in the halachic literature one encounters expressions such as "it
is allowed" or "it should be done", "but no one seems to do it that way"
(vehaolam lo nahagu kayn).  for a specific example, Rav Kook comes to mind.
He clearly wanted to make many more takanot than his colleagues allowed him
to in order to further Zionism.  there was the famous cause celebre' of the
religious Jews who moved to Israel I think in the 20's and opened a sesame
oil co. for which Rav Kook gave the hechsher for Pesach, but the charedim in
Jerusalem wouldn't let it in to the city.  Rav Kook. in his letters about
the case (which he published, so he wanted to make this opinion known),
after giving the halachic arguments as to why he was correct, ends by saying
something like "if religious Jews can't come to Israel and make a living,
how can Zionism succeed?"

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph. 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226, Voicemail and Pager: 3034
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Marc Shapiro <shapirom2@...>
Subject: Re: Making of a Gadol

There have been all sorts of rumors relating to the book Making of a
Godol by R. Nathan Kamenetsky and the response of various gedolim, so
let me give you the facts and only the facts, without revealing anything
that R. Kamenetsky might have told me in confidence. I will not even
reveal who the gedolim are in the pictures on the book jacket, since
there is a reason why the author didn't identify them by name (although
those who have read my book, will immediately make out R. J.
J. Weinberg).

   As I told you, I spoke to R. Kamenetsky on Dec. 12 and on Motzaei
Shabbat Dec. 14. At the time he was in Monsey, and will be returning to
Israel on Dec. 16. This is the chain of events. The book appeared and
immediately became popular, especially among people in the yeshiva
world. It was a few weeks ago on Shabbat, when R. Kamenetsky was still
in Jerusalem, that he heard about a letter signed by a number of
gedolim, including R. Elyashiv, condemning the book. R. Kamenetsky who
was to leave for Los Angeles shortly after this, sent R. Elyashiv a
letter explaining that it is unfair to issue such a letter on the basis
of one-sided reports, especially without hearing his side of the matter,
and without getting reports from unbiased people who can read the book
in the original. R. Elyashiv AGREED with him and gave orders that the
letter was not to be publicized, and indeed, it never appeared in Yated
Neeman, which means that it was not made "official". [As an aside, let
me note that the text of the cherem is itself very strange, for it
mentions that the book can weaken the opposition to secular studies,
when in truth there is nothing in the books that refers to this
issue. Presumably, the people who arranged the letter added this
information because they knew it would further anger the Charedi

   In the meantime R. Kamenetsky had left Israel. Yet some trouble
makers, who had copies of the original cherem, plastered them up around
Jerusalem. This was done against R. Elyashiv's wishes, and upon hearing
about this, he publicly declared that this was a vile act. So contrary
to what has been reported, R. Elyashiv did indeed sign the letter, and
never said otherwise. However, since in the end he never gave approval
for the letter to be made public, the cherem was never officially
promulgated, at least as far as R. Elyashiv is concerned.

   Following up on his letter to R. Elyashiv, R. Kamenetsky published in
Yated his declaration that the book should no longer be sold (or even
read) until a group of rabbis whom R. Elyashiv respects are able to go
through it and offer their opinion. Three rabbis have been chosen for
this task, but their identities must remain anonymous.

   Contrary to rumors, R. Kamenetsky's brother, R. Shmuel Kamenetsky,
stands with him, as do many other rabbanim. Certain names were
conspicuously absent from the Yated announcement of the American Roshei

   In addition, R. Moshe Sternbuch, who has read the book, finds nothing
wrong with it and has been telling people who ask that they certainly
can read it. Yet R. Elyashiv's authority is paramount, and although a
cherem has not officially been promulgated, R. Kamenetsky has agreed
that it should not be sold until any necessary revisions are carried
out. Yet all 1000 copies of the book have already been sold by the
distributor (I didn't tell R. Kamenetsky that there is a seforim store
in London which still has copies, but won't sell them, no matter how
much you offer the owner.).

    If you want to post this to any website, feel free to do so.

            Marc Shapiro


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 14:55:15 -0500
Subject: Mikets /Vayigash

Several questions were raised about the circumstances surrounding the
Joseph story in the current parshiot.  Why did Ya'akov send his sons to
obtain grain in Egypt instead of his servants, and how could shepherds
be an "untouchable" caste in Egypt - yet serve as officers for the

The questions provide important clues to the real situation in both
Canaan and Egypt at that time.  During the course of a severe famine, it
would be expected that the fortunes of a pastoral family would suffer.
Such a famine implies a very serious drought which would effect both
food grains and grass.  As a result, the family's assets in terms of
livestock and servants would be largely sold off.  Ya'akov sent his sons
to Egypt for provisions since he, apparently, had only a minimal number
of servants.

The question of the real status of shepherds in Egypt at the time of
Yosef is tied to the identification of the dynasty that ruled Egypt
then.  If they were the Hyksos kings, a nomadic Asian people who
conquered Egypt, then it is reasonable that a Hyksos pharoah would
appoint another Asian as a viceroy and even give him the daughter of the
high-priest of a major Egyptian deity as a wife.  Pharoahs from native
Egyptian dynasties - with their contempt for foreigners - would hardly
countenance such acts.  Nor is it surprising that the Hyksos would value
livestock tending since that was an important part of their culture.
Native Egyptians were farmers - not pastoralists, and disdained
shepherds .  The above suggested dichotomy between the culture of the
Egyptian rulers and people also helps explain Yosef's actions in using
the famine to concentrate land and power in the hands of the pharoach.
He was much more trustful of the Hyksos rulers than the native peoples.
His strategic moves to protect Ya'akov's family failed in the long run,
however, since the Hyksos were overthrown and a new native dynasty took
over.  The new pharoachs vented their anger at Asian foreigners on
Ya'akov's family and descendants.

Shabbat shalom,



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 17:43:18 GMT
Subject: Rambam and Moshe

>    The Rambam says (I have to find the source) that every person
has  the ability to be Moshe Rabbeinu. Obviously the Rambam was aware
of  the possuk that states that no one in Israel will be like Moshe.
The  point is if he uses his potential fully he will be like Moshe,
but  Moshe started from a higher level and reached the highest level
>possible, while anyone else will be starting from lower level.>

<I agree completely but that is not what is being taught in at least
some places.  Philosophically the position is that anyone can be a
gadol ( in objective terms) if they want it enough.  IMHO this leads
to a cognitive dissonance or low self image if one does not reach
that level even if they've climbed 10 rungs.>

Rab Soloveitchik quotes the famous musar piece that G-d will only demand
from us that we reach our individual potential. He then remarks that
Rambam seems to differ with this approach and feels we should strive to
be like Moshe Rabbenu


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 01:19:21 -0500
Subject: The Rambam on Kollel

>Avi Feldblum writes:
> > I cannot comment on the preference, but as for not giving to the man who
> > chooses to sit in Kollel and has 10 children and then go out to the
> > jewish community to say they are obligated to support him, the Rambam
> > (in his commentary on Pirkei Avos) is pretty clear that he has no
> > standing in asking for community support.
Howard Farkas added:

>The Rambam actually states this as halacha in Hilchot Matanot l'Evyonim
>10:18, based on the gemara in Pesachim 113a and Bava Batra 110a: "Even
>if one was a scholar and respected and became impoverished, one should
>become involved in a trade - even a disgusting trade - and not rely on
>others. It is preferable to stretch the hides of dead animals (nevelot)
>and not say to the community 'I am a great scholar...' or 'I am a Cohen,
>so support me.'"
>Interestingly, neither Talmudic source explicitly uses the example of
>the great scholar ("chacham gadol"; instead it says "gavra raba" - a
>great man), but the Rambam apparently wants to avoid any creative
>parsing of the text to find an exception for talmidei chachamim, so he
>makes it explicit.

Reb Moshe in Igros Moshe, Yorah Deah, 2nd chelek, tshuva 116, paskens,
based on the Rema , in Yora Deah, 246:21 that one should not rely on the
Rambam's shita in not accepting support in order to learn Torah.  He
quotes the Shach as saying in the name of the Kesef Mishnah, that "All
chachmay Yisroel both before and after the Rambam accepted financial
support from the community in order to learn. Even if the Halacha is
like the Rambam, the chachmay Yisroel agreed that due to the concept of
ais laasos lahashem (I'm not sure how to translate that-M. Kahn)
dictates that if the teachers and students don't have accessible
parnasa... the Torah would have (otherwise) been forgotten from
Jewry...)..." Reb Moshe also relies on a Maharshall.

Reb Moshe goes on to write that "those who act righteously, ("mischasdim") 
to keep the Rambam's shita are following the counsel ('atsas') yetzer hara 
so that they may stop their learning and be engrossed in business etc until 
the point that they forget what they have already learned and don't manage 
to even set aside a small amount of time to learn..." I hope I have 
faithfully translated Reb Moshe's words. Reb Moshe goes on to express 
additional strong words in his psak.

Bearing this in mind, I think that with regard to the "Kollel man with
ten kids who asks for tzadaka," such a person can be assumed to be a
talmid chacham and would actually get kadima (precedence) when it comes
to receiving tzadaka as the Shulchan Aruch in Hilchos Tzadaka rules.
Incidentally, it would seem to me that all segments of the orthodox
world have accepted the basic premise of Kollel. Yeshiva University also
has the REITS Kollel. I think the basic difference between the "YU
community" and the "yeshiva community" (forgive the labels and
generalizations) is merely one of to what extent should Kollel exist,
not the inherent legitimacy of its existence.


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 15:52:38 -0600
Subject: Re: Sons, si. Servants, no

Shalom, All:

	Addressing the question of why Yaakov sent his sons to Egypt to
buy food instead of just sending a servant, I wrote >> If your extended
family needed food to avoid starvation, would *you* give cash to a
servant, then send them to another country and hope they didn't take the
money and run?<<
	Rachel Swirsky responded >>Wouldn't it depend on the servant?
Avraham was willing to trust the fate of not only his extended family,
but all of the future k'lal Yisroel to a servant when he sent Eliezer to
search out a wife for his son.>>
	I thought about "the Eliezer factor" (and should have mentioned
it), but concluded Eliezer was sui generis, one of a kind. It would
appear that Eliezer made such an impression on the Jewish People that
Moshe himself named one of his sons Eliezer.
	Come to think of it, is there any other servant in the entire
Torah who got such a good write-up as Eliezer? (No fair counting Yosef,
who was only a temporary servant/slave.)

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi 

[As far as the written Torah goes, it is an interesting exercise for the
reader to identify what write-up Eliezer gets (hint: how many times is
the servant of Avraham identified to be Eliezer?) Mod.]


End of Volume 38 Issue 3