Volume 38 Number 97
                 Produced: Mon Mar 31  5:44:23 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chareidi and Dati Leumi
         [Batya Medad]
Gemara b'tzin'ah (in private)
         [Binyomin Segal]
Gemara for women
         [David Charlap]
Modern Orthodoxy: definition
         [Binyomin Segal]
My Approach to Prohibitions on Learning Talmud
         [Russell J Hendel]
Say "cheese!"
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Women and learning (2)
         [Batya Medad, Art Sapper]
Women learning Gemmara
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 20:21:45 +0200
Subject: Re: Chareidi and Dati Leumi

      The Israeli terms: "Hareidi" and "Dati Leumi" have clear
      interpretations relating to political parties and to the timing,
      extent, and/or permissibility of army service. Party politics and
      army service are not

It's not just politics.  Our kids got a "mamlachti dati" education, but
we've never supported Mafdal.  Also there's another term, chard"al, a
combination of dati leumi and chareidi.  It's hard to define, since the
followers don't agree.  In one yeshuv they wanted to open a special
"torani" class for the chard"al, but they couldn't agree whose kids
could go.  Those without tv's or those whose wives and daughters always
wear stockings--they frequently weren't the same.  I'm serious.  And
don't forget, crocheted (not knitted--you can't knit that shape) kippot
are sometimes much larger than the black cloth ones.



From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 11:47:25 -0600
Subject: Re: Gemara b'tzin'ah (in private)

On Sunday, March 30, 2003, at 09:09 AM, Shayna Kravetz wrote:
> Surely this is not a process of which we are ashamed. I recognize that
> there are many things of which we are not ashamed but which should
> still be kept private. (I still shudder when I remember reading an
> activist slogan for some movement that read "Privacy = Guilt".) But
> gemara study is not a solitary process for men for good reasons. Why
> should it be so for women?

A good question I admit. Essentially, a woman learning gemara is a
chumra. We have always required personal chumrot to be practiced in
private (for fear of yuharah - conceit - becoming the motivation for
chumrot rather than devotion). When the practice becomes wide spread
enough that it no longer ellicits comment than it naturally moves to the
public arena.

I admit that gemara study in private is particularly difficult. But that
does not remove the need to clarify the intent of the devotion.

Hope that helps -


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 12:35:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Gemara for women

I'm sure I must have mentioned this in the past at some previous time
when this subject has come up, but...

I went to high school at Frisch - an orthodox school in New Jersey that
has co-ed classes in all subjects, including gemara.

One time while I was attending, a famous rosh yeshiva (I'm sorry that I
don't remember who) was visiting and spoke before the school.  His
yeshiva is one that does not teach co-ed classes of any kind.  After his
lecture, one student asked "what is your opinion on boys and girls
learning gemara together?".  His response was very simple: "I'm much
more concerned about what else boys and girls do together."

Now maybe he was just being political, so as not to embarras Frisch.
But I think there is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

In this day and age, when boys and girls do all kinds of things together
that the orthodox community objects to (including going on unsupervised
dates, kissing, sexual relationships, eating non-kosher food, drugs,
smoking, etc.) it seems a bit silly to get bent out of shape over them
learning gemara together.

It seems to me that one of the best things that could happen in our
generation would be if all of our children (boys and girls alike) would
choose to sit and learn gemara with a rabbi.  At least this way maybe
they'll learn enough yirat shamayim (fear of heaven) to behave morally
when they're not in front of the rabbi - which would be a lot better
than the situation today.

-- David


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 11:25:31 -0600
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodoxy: definition

Allen Gerstl writes:
> I suggest the addition of:
> 5. Chumras (halacha stringencies)(I shall resist the temptation to
> write about chumras as the MJ search engine indicates numerous entries
> on this topic and I am sure that Avi would prefer to spare the
> bandwith)

While I believe Allen is pointing correctly to a sociological reality, I
am not sure it is a clear philosophical difference. The concept of
chumra (with both positive and negative aspects) is defined pretty
clearly in traditional sources (halachik and philosophic - see for
example the Shach's rules for psak). So while I admit that in practice
there seems to be a difference, I am not sure the difference isn't just
a projection of other differences.

As an example - when deciding whether to accept an eruv as kosher or
not, a number of factors come into play. One might be the ability of
women (who even in the MO camp are still generally the primary care
givers for small children) to come to shul. This factor is perhaps more
important to a MO rabbi then to a Charedi one. So while the issue of
chumra/kula is the same, the factors that contribute line up



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 14:26:14 -0500
Subject: My Approach to Prohibitions on Learning Talmud

There has been much discussion on why/whether women should learn Talmud
(eg Ben Katz, Joel Rich, Daniel Wells Shayna, Leah Gordon in v38n91,
v38n89 v38n87 and v38n88). The approaches have been presented that WOMEN
HAVE LIGHT (KALOTH) ATTITUDES or that women have different

I have previously discussed these issues on both Mail Jewish and Torah
Forum. Basically I show that the SAME standards apply to BOTH men and
women and indeed many men should not be learning Talmud. WHile this
approach may be controversial it does solve problems by making reasons
for not-learning intrinsic and not based on gender characteristics.

First allow me to point out that the statement WOMEN ARE LIGHT HEADED
does NOT refer to a propensity to interpret matters sexually. Indeed,
the idea that single individuals are trusted in declarations of status
(eg this piece of meat is trayf/kosher) is derived from Lv15-28 which
EXPLICITLY states that women are trusted in sexual matters.

Next: Let me give a simple example (See the URL below on the Rashi
website for complete details). There are exactly 5 Biblical commandments
which state "FEAR YOUR GOD I AM GOD". The obvious question is why just
these 5.

Let me use this question to illustrate 2 approaches to inferring
reasons. The first approach uses only a few (actually one example). The
prohibition of taking interest ends with the phrase FEAR GOD. Hence if
we only use this one example we could infer that the reason is because
it involves money--since people lust after money God warned us against
following the lust and said FEAR GOD

The second approach would use ALL EXAMPLES---if we look at these
examples (a) prohibition of teasing people (b) obligation of standing
before the elderly etc we would see that not all examples involve
money. Rather the correct generalization is that these 5 commandments
involve subjective factors..they are not like theft---you cannot PROVE a
person violated it since the Commandments require INTENTION. So eg if my
teasing was constructive I have not teased and the difference between
teasing and constructive criticism is one of intention. Similarly I can
always claim I did not see the elderly person and therefore did not get
up. Or, I can lend my money to a non-jew knowing that he will lend it
out on interest for me.

In short...FEAR GOD is mentioned on those commandments where it is easy
to subterfuge.

Note the two methods of interpretation---one method was LIGHT on the
examples while the other method was HEAVY and used all examples.

Let us now return to Learning Talmud. Learning talmud requires analyzing
examples and generalizing. A person should only do this if they use a
HEAVY appraoch. A LIGHT APPROACH is not welcome in Talmudic circles (it
is to easy to come to the wrong conclusion).

Hence any person who does not have the time to do heavy analysis should
be discouraged from learning: This includes women who raise children,
businessmen on the go, people who dont have the intellectual stamina to
do research etc. The reason for the prohibition has NOTHING to do with
personality but rather has to do with the fact that the research method
will give rise to improper conclusions.

Of course, these people are all encouraged to learn Bible, Agaddah,
Musar, Jewish Law (SA) etc. The prohibition only applies to heavy

Russell Jay Hendel; Http://www.RashiYomi.com/
JOB -- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RashiYomi_JOB


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 12:38:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Say "cheese!"

I appreciate the thorough response.  I have a few more cheesey questions.

Wrt requiring a s"s Jew to add the rennet, does this requirement extend
to the Jew actually seeing the rennet being made so that they can verify
that the rennet's origin is as claimed?

If not, what is the difference between needing to trust the rennet
manufacturer about the rennet's origins and trusting the cheese
manufacturer?  Is USDA regulation such that anyone has made an argument
about rennet hacompanies or givinat hacompanies?

Practically, how much more extensive is the role for a mashgiach in
making cheese than for other foods?  Is it comparable to the involvement
of a mashgiach in pas yisroel (Jewish bread) products?

I have seen a few non-Jewish brands of bread and cookie-products which
are pas yisroel --- these are products that I've only seen in mainstream
supermarkets, and not in kosher groceries --- apparently these companies
felt it was worth the additional involvement of the mashgiach to be pas
yisroel rather than just getting the normal heksher, despite not
marketing themselves to pas yisroel customers.

Is the additional role of the mashgiach why the cheese factories only do
kosher runs, rather than just converting entirely to kosher cheese?  The
Tillanook website mentioned that only one of their cheeses is kosher, in
spite of all the other cheeses (save one) using the same kosher rennet.

Wrt unfair competition, the non-Jewish companies would presumably use
chalav hacompanies while World Cheese Co only uses chalav yisrael, so
this does segment the market and may diminish the concern.

Conversely, providing more kosher cheese brands in mainstream
supermarkets would convince more people to eat kosher cheese, though I
can't quantify that.

Shavua tov,


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 20:11:34 +0200
Subject: Women and learning

One of the reasons some women begin learning Gemara is that they need to
help their sons.  That's right.  Even when the father is a learned
rabbi, he's not always home the right time to help with homework.
That's why one of my friends took it up, and it's not a rare occurrence.

There's certainly no intelligent reason why females shouldn't learn
Gemara.  Many males have difficulties with it, and it's the reason some
leave yeshiva and even religion.  Yeshiva learning should be enriched
and balanced with more Tanach, and the women's schools should enrich
their learning with Gemara.


From: <asapper@...> (Art Sapper)
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 13:12:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Women and learning

        In Vol. 38 #92, Binyomin Segal asks: "Why must innovation in
Torah (that can be defended on its merits) only be accepted if the
innovator is properly motivated?"

        This is an excellent question, to which I lack enough
familiarity with the sources to even begin to answer.  I offer this
morsel as, admittedly, no more than a starting point.  In Pirkei Avoth
5:20 (Artscroll compilation), it is said: "Any dispute that is for the
sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome; but one that is not for
the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome."  The contrast
is then drawn between the debate between Hillel and Shamai, on the one
hand, and Korach and Moshe, on the other hand.  The lesson seems to be
that ill-motivated or wrongly-motivated positions will, in the end, be
destructive, no matter what their instrinsic "merits."

        The problem, in my personal experience, is that there are those
who consider the mere proposal of an "innovation" to be evidence of ill
motivation itself.  They do not even begin to consider whether a
proposed "innovation" has intrinsic merit because the mere act of
proposing an "innovation" means that it is not proposed for the sake of
Heaven.  This is knee-jerk conservatism run amok and, worse, violates
another teaching of the Avot (4:1), "Who is wise? He who learns from all

                                                Art Sapper


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 13:57:35 EST
Subject: Women learning Gemmara

Moshe Pessin (v38n95) continues:

<<allow me to clarify my points.
  ....most of the feminist women are being decieved.>>

Do you have statistics to vouch for this "most" statement? I bet you do

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


End of Volume 38 Issue 97