Volume 38 Number 54
                 Produced: Tue Feb 11  5:10:20 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Eli Lansey]
Formal vs Informal
         [Dov Teichman]
Gedola BaTorah
Halchik reflections on Singles Groups
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [Robert J. Tolchin]
Reb Moshe Tshuva on use of Drugs
         [Yitzchak Moran]
Uncovering One's Head
         [Marty Nugiel]
Who is a Gadol
         [Chaim Wasserman]
writing G-d
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Writing G-d
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Yiddish polite form
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Yiddish second person pronouns
         [Mike Gerver]


From: Eli Lansey <elansey@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 14:21:19 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Ellul

Ira L. Jacobson wrote:
> That sounds to me as though they are imputing to the Sanhedrin the will
> to ignore the testimony of the witnesses who came to report seeing the
> molad.This raises several questions:
> 1.    Is this the way you think a court should treat evidence?
> 2.    Did such a thing ever happen?
> 3     What would be the credibility of a court that chose to disregard
> evidence to suit its own purposes?

Look at Mishnayot Rosh haShanah 4:4


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 09:56:15 -0500
Subject: Formal vs Informal

Ben Katz <bkatz@...> writes:
> I have always been amazed that Yiddish, unlike German, does not
> have a polite form.  

I'm not sure what Yiddish you have heard, but anyone who speaks Yiddish
knows that there is an informal Du (or Di, depending on where you're
from) and the formal Ir.

Dov Teichman


From: <perzvi@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 18:57:43 GMT
Subject: Re: Gedola BaTorah

From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
> I strongly disagree.  I would not call Ibn Ezra a gadol ba-Torah of his
> generation either.  He was a brilliant commentator and philosopher.

> What if I know Maseches Berachos inside and out, literally by heart,
> with all commentaries.  I have a deep understanding of the aggadatas, I
> know the halacha developed from the sugyos, and I've seen every
> commentary ever written on the tractate.  I've spent the past 30 years
> learning only Berachos to the exclusion of all else.  When it comes to
> Shabbos, or Bava Metzia or Sukkah or Kiddushin, I don't know anything.
> But I know Berachos inside out.

> Would that make me a gadol ba-Torah?  I don't think so.

Except to a very real extent, this is how things work -- very few
Rebbeim of any level (dayanim, Roshei Yeshivos, Mashgichim, never mind
one's LOR) are arrogant enough to claim they can pasken for all areas
yet other people may call them gedolim for their expertise in certain
areas.  Many Rebbeim field difficult shaylos in yoreh deah or Nashim but
don't deal with shaylos in choshen mishpat, for instance.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 23:58:09 -0500
Subject: RE: Halchik reflections on Singles Groups

I was deeply moved by the postings of Freeda Birnbaum and Jonathan Horen
requesting more >outlets< for single interaction in the Jewish
community. (v38n47)

Jonathan particularly put it well
>As a dati (Modern Orthodox), 51-year-old, divorced male (who lives on a
>large yishuv in the Shomron), I miss a woman's companionship... simple
>things, such as going shopping (whether to the supermarket or a mall),
>preparing for Shabbat or Yom Tov, hosting guests (or being hosted) on
>Shabbat or Yom Tov, or just taking a walk and shmoozing (to name only a

I would just like to add some halachic considerations to the fuel.

First of all--even though it is clicheish---it is a violation of a
Biblical positive commandment -- Love thy neighbor like thyself --- to
avoid providing opportunities for potential social interaction (IN THE

Next, there are several opinions that healing the sick is a fulfillment
of the commandment to return LOST ARTICLES (since a persons health has
been "lost" and needs to be returned). It would therefore follow that we
are Biblically obligated to help people who have lost their mates.

The reason I mention all these Biblical obligations is because the
counter argument (of the ultra orthodox) is that such meetings violate
their high standards of modesty. Be that as it may---I would not ask
anyone to violate their customs. But when their customs in effect cause
the violation of Biblical commandments then the ultra orthodox have to
reconsider. In other words---there are two sides here---there is the
urge to have very high standards of modesty vs the Biblical obligation
to help people get married.

I would really like to see a thread on this for a whole volume. Let me
close by giving two counterarguments and refuting them.

Some might argue that I have no precedent to override very high modesty
standards because of such "vague considerations" as loving thy neighbor
as thyself. My response is an explicit Talmudic hypothetical in which an
ultra-orthodox sees a (naked) woman drowing and hesitates to save her (a
Biblical obligation) because he feels he might make (or touch)
inappropriately The Talmud calls such a person a foolish ultra-orthodox.

A second argument is more serious: Some would argue that they ARE
interested in helping people get married. But they have their own
shiduch system and IT must be followed. I would answer simply: The laws
of charity are explicit that we give people what they are use to. If
they are use to a rolles royce then give it to them. Similarly if they
are use to single's groups then give it to them.

I believe I have a serious halachic argument for getting the
ultra-orthodox gedolim involved in creation of singles groups and would
like to see some (non-hostile) responses.

Respectfully (!?!?!)

Russell Jay Hendel; RASHI:http://www.RashiYomi.com/
WEB:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RashiYomi_Job/
EMAIL: <RashiYomi_Job-subscribe@...>


From: Robert J. Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 10:13:04 -0500
Subject: RE: Holanith

> Accordingly, it would be better to use holanith in shul, as is the
> custom.  Mark Steiner

Hmmmm....I guess you mean "as is your custom." Query: for men, do you
say "holan"?



From: Yitzchak Moran <dougom@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 11:59:33 -0600
Subject: Re: Reb Moshe Tshuva on use of Drugs

On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 , Akiva Miller wrote:

>This question was raised in mid-December. My apologies for the delay.
>The teshuva Michael Kahn refers to is by Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Igros
>Moshe, Yoreh Deah 4:35. He begins: "Regarding the fact that some boys
>from the yeshiva have begun to smoke hashish (marijuana), it is clearly
>forbidden by several basic laws of the Torah. First..."
>There can be no doubt which drugs Rav Feinstein was referring to. He
>spells them "ches shin yod shin (mem ayin resh alef vav vav alef nun
>He then gives his reasons. I found it interesting that violating the
>local civil laws is *not* among them. Of course, it is best to study his
>actual words directly, but my summary of his reasoning is:
>-- It is physically harmful.
>-- It damages the mind so that one cannot think straight, which prevents
>one from learning Torah properly, and also prevents one from prayer and
>other mitzvos.
>-- It leads to a desire (addiction?) which some are unable to keep in
>check, which is the prohibition faced by the Ben Sorer uMoreh.
>-- The reason given for the Ben Sorer uMoreh also applies to this case:
>He will eventually come to rob others.
>-- The anguish which the smoker gives his parents is a violation of
>honoring them.
>-- It also violates Kedoshim Tihyu as explained by Ramban.
>-- It also leads to many other prohibitions.
>These arguments sound pretty reasonable to me, but I wish I knew whether
>he was referring only to a frequent or heavy marijuana user, or even to
>an occasional or light user. Somehow, I can't help suspecting that he
>would hold that even occasional and light use is forbidden.
>But if that is so, then what would he say about occasional and light use
>of alcohol? Which of Rav Moshe's arguments would apply to a few puffs of
>a marijuana cigarette, but not to a few shots of whiskey? Does anyone
>know if he ever spoke or wrote about this?

I think Akiva is asking an excellent question here.  I think it brings
up the additional point of drugs that could be considered "physically
harmful," and yet are ultimately beneficial for their users.  For
example, many of the drugs that help people control ADD and ADHD are
liver toxic, and require regular blood draws to ensure that the liver is
still doing okay.  These could easily fall under the "pysically harmful"
rubrik.  Or consider anti-depressant drugs; they certainly alter though
processes, which may prevent their users from performing certain mitzvot
(a Prozac user that I know would forget to pay his bills sometimes, for
example; it is easy to imagine mitzvot being "forgotten" in this
manner).  But the user thereof may be almost completely incapacitated
without the aid of this drug (I have personally witnessed such
incapacitation); how would this be evaluated?

To extend this to Marijuana, I can imagine a situation where an
infrequent user takes a toke much as an infrequent drinker has a drink
to settle his or her nerves.  (I rarely drink (perhaps two drinks a
week), but on occasion that small nip can be a good thing after a
difficult day; what is the difference between that and a small toke,



From: Marty Nugiel <marty1499@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 03:44:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Uncovering One's Head

Can anyone give sources in English about the permissibility of a Jew's
doing business with head uncovered?  Can anyone summarize the relevant



From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 08:05:29 EST
Subject: Re: Who is a Gadol

Further to Gil_Student and Eli Turkel and "Who is a gadol" discussion.

RaMBaM advised his son to study chumash only with Rashi and Ibn Ezra. To
"strongly disagree" as to whether Ibn Ezra was a gadol or not is to
render myopic judgement without realizing all of the facts about him. He
could be nothing less than a gadol in his Torah attainments.

As for Rav Kook. Rav Henkin (premier posek of America and the world) was
asked about Rav Kook in comparison to Chazon Ish. He said he knew them
both and Rav Kook was the greater "baqi baTorah".  (See Shanah bShanah
5739 on this).

To judge the (Torah) stature of a person based on what he published is,
I might suggest, a yardstick by which academia will measure. I am not
sure that this applies so readily to the abilities of a Gadol b'Torah.

Chaim Wasserman


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 16:00:11 +0200
Subject: Re: writing G-d

Daniel Wells stated:

>Another point to consider is that of familiarity, a trait sadly lost in
>English. In most European languagues and Hebrew, a person of a higher
>status such as one's father, mother, boss, rabbi and the Deity would (or
>used to) be refered to either in the second person plural (Vous instead
>of Tu in French, Sie instead of Du in German) or in the third person
>singular ('would father let us do this or that' -when talking directly
>to him).  Thus also in writing we desist from famiarity by writing G-d.

The standard biblical translations that address the divinity as "Thou"
rather than "You" are using the _familiar_ form.  Thus, where the
familiar form is retained in English, it is used to refer to the Deity.

This may actually contradict your understanding, I believe.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 09:10:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Writing G-d

In MJ 38:51, Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:

> I have always been amazed that Yiddish, unlike German, does not
>have a polite form.  On even addressed one's parent with the familiar
>second person, not the third person.

The dialect of Yiddish that I learned in school (and speak with moderate
fluency) - which might best be described as a literary form of White
Russian Yiddish - does indeed have a polite second-person form,
comparable to French "vous"; it's "Ihr," the second-person plural (same
as in German). I don't know whether other dialects of Yiddish do the

Kol tuv,


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 13:09:17 +0200
Subject: Yiddish polite form

Daniel Well states:
> I have always been amazed that Yiddish, unlike German, does not
> have a polite form.  On even addressed one's parent with the familiar
> second person, not the third person.

As a person whose mother tongue was Yiddish, unless I totally
misunderstand what Daniel is driving at I cannot fathom that comment.
Yiddish very clearly has a polite form. When addressing an inferior or
equal, the term used is 'du' for 'you' whereas when talking to a
superior (e.g., someone considerably older), the term for 'you' is
'ihr'. And of course, when one speaks to one's Rebbi, the customary
usage is the third person: "Volt der Rebbe gevolt a glezl tay?" (Would
the Rebbi like a glass of tea?)

Shmuel Himelstein


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 15:41:25 EST
Subject: Yiddish second person pronouns

>From Ben Katz, in v38n51

> I have always been amazed that Yiddish, unlike German, does not
>  have a polite form.  On even addressed one's parent with the familiar
>  second person, not the third person.

I don't really know Yiddish myself, but my mother's friend told a story that 
when she was a young girl, primarily an English speaker but also knowing some 
Yiddish, she was scolded by her grandmother for addressing her as "du" rather 
than "ihr.".  Maybe it depends on where her grandmother came from. (I don't 
know but can find out.) Perhaps in German-speaking regions the Yiddish was 
influenced by German, and used the second person plural pronoun as a polite 
form of the second person singular.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


End of Volume 38 Issue 54