Volume 38 Number 08
                 Produced: Sun Dec 22  8:11:04 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ar"i greater than Moshe Rabbeinu?
         [L Kaplan]
Connecting the Moshe and Gadol threads
         [c. halevi]
         [Stan Tenen]
Minyan on Airplanes
New Editions
Standing for the Choson and Kallah (2)
         [Ben Katz, David Steinberg]
Synagogue Charters
         [David and Toby Curwin]
         [Art Werschulz]


From: L Kaplan <lawrence.kaplan@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 13:46:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Ar"i greater than Moshe Rabbeinu?

Regarding Zev Sero 's point that "the AriZal understood Hashem better
than Moshe (Moshe knew Hashem from direct experience, the Ari Zal knew
Him only from books and words, but he understood more from that learning
than Moshe did - as Chazal said, `a wise person is better than a
prophet')": this view is to be found in Rav Zadok ha-Kohen, Resisei
Laylah, #56. This essay is fascinating and bold from both historical and
theological points of view, and I hope to translate it someday.

Regarding the Moshiach and Moses, the Rambam in Hilkhot Teshuvah 9:2
describes the Moshiach as "Navi Gadol hu, Karov mi-Moshe Rabbeynu," that
is, "a great prophet closer [to God?] than Moshe." Here the Rambam would
seem to be saying that in a certain respect, which is not entirely
clear, the Moshiach will be greater than Moshe.  "Mi-Moshe" is the
reading in the Oxford Manuscript, which is the most accurate text of
Sefer Ha-Mada.  Some editions, however, read "Karov le-Moshe," that is,
"close to Moshe," close, but not as great.  This matter has been much
discussed among commentators and scholars.

Lawrence Kaplan
McGill University


From: c. halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 14:41:13 -0600
Subject: Connecting the Moshe and Gadol threads

Shalom, All:

	I just realized something about the connectivity between the
thread asking if anybody could be greater than Moshe, and the thread
about the making of a gadol (sage).

	It's a seeming contradiction, but Moshe was not only the
greatest Jew and prophet in history: he was also a gadol hador (greatest
sage of his age) -- *without* being a gadol as we know it today.

	That Moshe was the greatest Jew and prophet is inarguable,
because unlike any other human, God spoke to him "on demand;" i.e. not
at night in a dream, not during a daytime trance and not only when God
initiated the dialogue. In modern parlance, Moshe had a hot line to
Hashem and could talk to Him and be answered whenever Moshe deemed it

 	However, since he was raised in Pharaoh's court Moshe in all
likelihood did not know the Torah until God Himself taught him. Hey:
with God directly teaching you, how could you *not* be a gadol?
Succeeding generations of g'dolim (sages), OTOH, did it the hard way --
they studied day and night for years. This contrasts with Moshe Rabaynu
(Moshe, our Teacher/master), who was the beneficiary of a Divine cram

	What made Moshe so worthy of all this? I think it's a amalgam of
things. Moshe defended a Jew by killing a slave driver, thus permanently
identifying himself as a Jew when he could have just turned his back. He
also gave up a life of privilege to do so. He then repeatedly risked his
life by demanding Pharaoh free us.

	On top of all that, he was compassionate to people and animals,
loved his fellow Jews and even turned down God's offer to walk away from
us Jews and instead make Moshe a great nation.

	It is this combination of piety, mercy, action, faith and
(eventually) great knowledge that IMHO causes us to say Moshe was the
greatest of the great.

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi 


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 08:15:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Marijuana

>From: Frank Reiss <freiss47@...>
>Is there any view whether using Marijuana when one is in a country where
>it is a legal item is going against any Halacha?

These days, several European countries, and Canada, are considering
various ways of "decriminalizing" the use of small amounts of marijuana,
so your question is currently relevant.  Marijuana only became illegal
because of the commercial necessities of the Hearst family, which owned
a chain of newspapers, and had huge investments in competing _wood_
(forest) products for paper-making.  Up until then, hemp was a valuable
fiber for paper and clothing, and growing it was encouraged during World
War II for its fiber value.

Having lived in San Francisco for about 20 years, it's hard not to be
familiar with the subject. At one point, I don't think there was any
professional that I had contact with who didn't, at one time or another,
have some personal knowledge of the subject.  When I was in the hospital
recently in California, two doctors separately suggested getting some
marijuana as an aid to appetite, and offered to write a prescription.
As an aid to appetite, marijuana could be life-saving, and in this
situation of course, I think it would be halachically required to use it
to save life if that's what was necessary.  (As I'm sure you know,
marijuana is routinely prescribed to people on chemotherapy in

It seems unlikely that there could be any halacha against legal
marijuana per se.  After all, this is a common medicinal vegetable food
product world-wide, and it certainly would have been known about by our
sages -- particularly those living in northern Israel, near what is now
the Lebanese border.

It's possible that cannabis sativa (or one or more of the other
varieties) was one of the samim.  It would be hard to tell if this was
so without an extensive analysis of source texts that refer to the

There are secondary reasons to be very cautious.  Public display of
using marijuana in front of young people is certainly a form of
"stumbling-block", and that would be prohibited.  And of course, filling
a room with smoke exposes other people to the dangers of the smoke --
when marijuana is smoked.

Smoking is always injurious.  So smoking cannabis would be just as
halachically prohibited as smoking tobacco.

But cooking and eating marijuana shouldn't be a problem.  It's a
vegetable, and kosher (of course).

However, the effects are long-lasting, and this could leave a person
unable to do something they needed to do, like, for instance, be alert,
be able to drive a car or operate machinery.  (Some evidence suggests
that cannabis is far less debilitating than alcohol, and in some cases,
can even enhance performance, but this is never true for infrequent
users who haven't learned to navigate while "high".)

Marijuana is an intoxicant, and other than in special circumstances,
shouldn't be used while praying.

And of course there is also the problem of the source.  Is it safe and
uncontaminated? (Pesticides, urine, other drugs) Is it funding terrorism
or organized crime?  Many places considering decriminalization allow a
person to grow small amounts for themselves, and/or for medical use.

There is one important positive quality which has only recently come to
light in the published literature.  Cannabis can be an aid to certain
forms of geometric meditation and visualization.  If this is true, then
it's almost certain that some of the Kabbalists in Sfat, from time to
time, would have made an appropriate use of marijuana.  (The use of
psychoactive medicinal plants has been speculated on.  John Allegro
wrote an infamous and horrible little book claiming that Xtianity was a
mushroom cult.  The Greeks, of course, had their soma and their kikiyon,
and oddly, Jonah has an encounter with a kikiyon of unknown identity.
Even the Hebrew word for "mushroom" leaves room for speculation, because
it's a composite of "peter" referring to "birth" or "consecration", and
the short name for God.  ("petriyah") This word also _might_ be related
to the Xtian use of the name Peter.)

I'd suggest that if one were living in a country where it was legal, and
if the source was uncontaminated, and also legal, then marijuana would
be a better choice than alcohol for use on Purim.  (Among younger
people, this was the preference in California when I was there.)

It's possible to properly use almost anything, even poisons, no matter
how potent, and it's also possible to abuse most anything, no matter how

So, the problem is not with the chemical, but with our own maturity,
sophistication, and self-control.  Properly used, marijuana can be
helpful and/or happy-making in a number of circumstances.  Abused,
marijuana is dangerous, illegal, and spreads difficulties to other



From: zweiter <zweiter@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 17:49:02 -0500
Subject: Minyan on Airplanes

I heard two different opinions as to why a person should not daven with
a mintan on a plane. One, from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT"L, that it
is almost impossible to have kavana under the circumstances that
airplane minyanim are held. Therefore in order to facilitate kavana, one
should daven on his own. Secondly, from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Shlit"a,
that the people who aren't davening with the minyan, or aren't davening
at all, payed the same amount as you and therefore are just as entitled
to use the bathroom as you are. Since almost all airplane minyanim take
place in the back of the plane, near the bathrooms, it is not right to
stand there and block other people's access.


From: <JoshHoff@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 13:16:01 EST
Subject: Re: New Editions

Rav Hutner's Toras HaNazir had Rav Kook's haskamah in the original
edition. In the second edition, that haskamah was left out but the other
was left in. In the third edition all haskamos were removed. In the
latest edition of Halacha Berurah on Beitzah Rav Shaul Lieberman's name,
as menahel of Machon Harry fishel, is left out of a haskamah, although
it was mentioned in the original edition.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 14:34:13 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Standing for the Choson and Kallah

>From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
>Growing up, I don't recall ever seeing the participants at a chupah
>standing when the choson and kallah walk down the aisle.  It seems to be
>obligatory nowadays.  What is the reason?  

        I don't believe there is a real reason, just like there is no
real reason that getting married in a kittel (and possibly an overcoat)
is becoming standard today when it wasn't many years ago.  IMHO it is an
example of an Orthodox style that people want to emulate due to certain
sociological trends in the Orthodox community today.

>It can't be that the choson is a melech or the kallah is a malkah,
>because that honor is only given to them after the chuppah.  Proof of
>this is that tachanun is said if the choson is attending shacharis
>right before his chatuna.

        I thought in the precense of a chatan tachanun is omitted?

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
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: David Steinberg <djs@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 14:41:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Standing for the Choson and Kallah

> From Ira Bauman

> Growing up, I don't recall ever seeing the participants at a chupah
>standing when the choson and kallah walk down the aisle.  It seems to be
>obligatory nowadays.  What is the reason?

I have a friend who claims that we stand for the Choson and Kallah
because they are 'Osek BMitzvah' - in the process of performing a
Mitzvah.  It is as good a reason as any I have heard.

I remember people standing for the choson 30 years ago but not for the

Dave Steinberg


From: David and Toby Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 22:58:49 +0200
Subject: Synagogue Charters

I'm interested in seeing any available synagogue charters (takanon beit
knesset). I'd also like to hear any background on how they were created,
issues that came up, etc.

David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 11:53:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Transliterations

Hi. Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> writes:
>> Don Yicxaq Abarbanel (this appears to be the correct pronunciation
>> of his name, according to the best evidence -- sometimes the hamon
>> `am are right) lists
> If the reference is to Abarbanel vs. Abravanel, that may well be so.
> But if you think that Yitzhaq should be pronounced Yicksaq, I'd
> really like to see a good reference.

The original poster is using a transliteration scheme that attempts to
represent each letter of the alef-beit as a single letter of the
[English] alphabet.  If you have a mathematical bent, you can think of
this encoding as an injection [a one-to-one mapping, for those who don't
like Bourbaki-like terminology] from the set of letters of the alef-beit
into the set of letters of the [English] alphabet.

Under this encoding, "tzadi" maps to "c" and "het" (or "chet" with the
"ch" as in the Scottish "Loch") maps to "x".  Of course, the proper way
of writing these two Hebrew letters under this encoding would be "cadi"
and "xet".

AIUI, the point of this is that one can look at the transliterated word
and unambiguously determine the Hebrew letters of which the word

BTW, i don't remember the entire encoding ... I don't remember how "tet"
and "tav" are distinguished.

Art Werschulz
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


End of Volume 38 Issue 8