Volume 39 Number 16
                 Produced: Thu May  8  6:29:39 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blatant Self-Promotion
         [Jay F Shachter]
Halacha and pluralism
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Pants or Skirts? (2)
         [Janet Rosenbaum, Ed Goldstein]
Self-Serving Efficacy of Prayer and Mitzvot; Proofs of God
         [Stan Tenen]
When wearing pants is obligatory and meritorious
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 07:50:41 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: Blatant Self-Promotion

Readers of the mail.jewish mailing list who have enjoyed my occasional
articles here and in the Torah U-Madda Journal will be thoroughly
disappointed in my latest book, an utterly dry piece of scholarship with
no wit whatsoever.

I refer to "The Commentary of Abraham ibn Ezra on the Pentateuch, Volume
5: Deuteronomy", published by Ktav Publishing House (Jersey City, New
Jersey), ISBN number 0-88125-745-1.

At the same time that they published my new translation, Ktav also
issued a second edition of my translation of ibn Ezra's commentary on
Leviticus, which has been long out of print and in great demand.  (This
is not entirely true.  The part about its being long out of print is
true.)  The second edition of "The Commentary of Abraham ibn Ezra on the
Pentateuch, Volume 3: Leviticus" corrects some minor typographical and
other errors in the first edition.  Its ISBN number is 0-88125-109-7.

These two books are available wherever quality English translations of
medieval Hebrew commentaries are sold, and are presumably also available
from the ktav website.  If you have Internet connectivity, try
http://www.ktav.com/code/shared/product.asp?itemId=T1929 for
Deuteronomy, and for Leviticus try the same URL with itemId=T1928.

I encourage every reader of this mailing list to buy both of these
books, not only to get yourselves the only known translations, into any
language, of Abraham ibn Ezra's commentaries on Leviticus and
Deuteronomy, but also to reward a scholar for his intellectual
integrity.  I gave up quite a bit of money when I withdrew my support
for the major motion picture they were going to make based on my works,
"The Life And Loves of Abraham ibn Ezra".  It wasn't that at no time in
his life did Abraham ibn Ezra look like Clint Eastwood.  I was actually
willing to compromise on that one.  The dealbreaker was the romantic
interest with Eleanor of Aquitaine.  There's no definite proof that that
love affair ever really happened, and even if the rumors are true, it
certainly did not have the far-reaching political and military
consequences that the screenwriters wanted to put into the script.  But
you know Hollywood.  They weren't willing to budge on that one, and
neither was I, so I lost a lot of money due to my intellectual
integrity, which you should now reward by buying many copies of my book.
The best thing would be if you are a teacher -- you can put one or both
of these books on your syllabus, and compel whole classrooms of
students, year after year, to study ibn Ezra's commentary with the aid
of my English translations.  It wasn't just the box office royalties.
It was also all the spinoff merchandising: the ibn Ezra action figures,
the ibn Ezra lunchboxes, and all the advertising revenue we were
planning to get from the tie-in television situation comedy, "Abraham
and Eleanor".

I am also trying to interest my publisher (this is for real) in a book
of my short essays, many of which have appeared on this mailing list
over the years.  The publisher will decide whether to put out this book
based in part on how well my other books sell.  So if you want to see a
book of my short essays get published the best way to achieve that is to
buy my translations of ibn Ezra.  Thank you all in advance for your

		Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
		6424 N Whipple St, Chicago IL  60645-4111
		<jay@...>; http://m5.chi.il.us


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 08:44:21 -0400
Subject: Halacha and pluralism

>Stan writes
>Much of the Torah world appears to me to no longer even care about
>reaching those who are excluded. There seems to be a failure of the
>golden rule, where some seem to think they can be disrespectful towards
>others, while demanding respect from them. In order for Torah, Torah
>Jews, and Israel to be respected, _we_ must find legitimate (not fudged,
>not merely polite) reasons to _genuinely_ respect non-believing, Reform,
>Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews, and non-Jews also. If we
>cannot genuinely respect the contributions of others, even though their
>points of view may be very different from ours, then we can't expect
>others to respect our views.exponentially.....
>....Of course, I'm not advocating validating practices which are unhealthy,
>immature, or just plain wrong. But I am advocating a view that says that
>everything under God's heaven has a place and makes a contribution, and
>that it's our job to find this and point it out. When Torah Judaism is
>great enough to see the value in all good things, then and only then
>will everyone respect Torah Judaism.

We believe in reaching out to help non observant Jews in dangerous
situation, phyisical and spiritual.

I should respect Ilan Ramon for his attempt honor Jewish tradition, for
his obvious love for Klal Yisrael.  I should respect the non observant
Jews who took the leadership in the fight for Soviet or Ethiopian Jewry.
I should respect the non observant Jews who serve in the Israeli army
and defend the physical existance of the Jews in the land of Israel.  I
should respect leaders such as Morton Klein who resurrected the ZOA dead
as the only active pro Israel organization during the heyday of Oslo.

While I respect these people and the good deads they perform, inspite of
their lack of observance, I cannot justify lack of observance.  Yes
these people should lead the Torah community to examine our own
failures.  The Torah community should have been the forefront of
fighting for oppressed Jewry, pointing out the failure of Oslo and
expressing Ahavat Yisrael

There are those who do it.  I think it is great the next elected Mayor
of Jerusalem will likely be a Torah observant Jew, known for his care
for non observant Jews.  (Look at his resume) Many of the Refusnik
leaders in Russia became observant when they were finally free.

Within Jewish thought the only pluralim is within the 4 cubits of
halacha.  I do believe in following the Rav's teaching that we can and
should work with non observant Jews and organizations for the physical
safetly of Am Yisrael.  But that cooporation should never be confused
for acceptance of the legitimacy of non observance.  As the saying goes
we love the sinner but not the sin.


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Thu, 1 May 2003 11:51:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Pants or Skirts?

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> writes:
> Joseph Mosseri writes a series of good questions which I am certain others 
> more qualified (and less lazy) than I will answer properly.
> My question is a related one: Who decided that pants is (only) a male 
> garment? I never saw an illustration of the ancient or biblical world in 
> which anyone was wearing pants! 

See R Ellinson's book that I mentioned in my previous post.  
R Aviner also has at least one book with cites.

Actually, it is a minority opinion that pants are beged ish.  The real
issue is just plain tsniut --- that there is something inherently
un-tsnua about pants.  R Ellinson mentions in a footnote that of course
there are pants which are more tsnua than some long skirts, but that
skirts have become an issue of self-identification, much like a kipah.


From: <BERNIEAVI@...> (Ed Goldstein)
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:52:58 -0400
Subject: re: Pants or Skirts?

I can't decide which is less tzniusdik...tight jeans or a short skirt.
But dress, like obscenity, depends upon local standards, and convention
is that women wear skirts, men wear pants.

My wife and daughter don't wear pants.  They don't consider it tznius.
At my kids' yeshiva (and others locally) there are signs reminding
people to dress appropriately for a makom torah...presuming that many
don't.  And believe me, they don't.

Rabbi Ed Goldstein


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 08:51:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Self-Serving Efficacy of Prayer and Mitzvot; Proofs of God

>From: <avirab@...>
>It seems to me that there are no proofs nor disproofs of the existence
>of God which convince (all 'reasonable') philosophers, nor scientific
>proofs/disproofs which convince scientists, nor historical proofs (like
>in Kuzari) which convince historians, nor mathematical proofs (eg codes)
>which convince mathematicians.

This is true. There's an important reason for it. God's greatest gift to
us is our free will. If God were provable, then we wouldn't have the
opportunity to make the most important choice we can make -- the leap of
faith that it takes to trust God.

But _personal_ demonstrations of the reality of the Transcendent are
definitely possible, and separately, perhaps, it's also possible to
demonstrate that the Transcendent is also the living God that answers

For a somewhat mechanical approach that _anyone_ can use to demonstrate,
to whatever standard of personal proof they require, that the
Transcendent is real in the world, try my essay "The Three Abrahamic
Covenants and the Car-Passing Trick," at <www.meru.org/carpass.html>.

The more skeptical a person is, the more effective the
demonstration. But the demonstration _must_ be personal. However,
individual persons -- if and when they wish -- can perform the
"car-passing trick" for themselves, so as to demonstrate its reality for

There can be no objective, logical proof of God, both because this would
take away our ability to freely choose to believe in God, and because
God subsumes both the objective and the logical (and certainly not the
other way around). Perhaps God would prove that the objective world is
real, and/or that logic is useful (albeit in limited circumstances), but
there's no way that the mere objective universe could prove the
existence of what it's embedded in. And there's certainly no way that
formal logic, whose limits were proved by Godel, could possibly be used
to prove the Unlimited.

>Although there are claims of double blind experiments (with controls
>etc) showing statistically meaningful medical efficacy for prayer, other
>studies refute them (eg google "Efficacy of prayer" to arrive at
>varied sources such as Francis Galton, ARCHIVES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE,
>Skeptical Inquirer).

It's clear that double-blind experiments are only double-blind to the
human participants. They're certainly not double-blind to God. Thus, the
most important "half" of the experiment is uncontrolled -- and likely
highly biased. <smile>

In other words, the Skeptical Inquirer and the others simply haven't
faced the reality of Godel's proof of the limits of logic.

For a discussion of the difference between the "God of Reason" and the
"God of Faith" perspectives, have a look at <www.meru.org/science.html>.

>Are there serious sources which clearly state that it is incumbent upon
>us to believe that tfila/mitzvot indeed has such a statistically
>meaningful effect? [eg a literal understanding of ve'haya im shamo'a

Statistics certainly can't help. Statistical tests are only possible
based on an a priori theory (which why the prophetic interpretation of
the letter-skip patterns in Torah is bunkum, even though the
letter-skips are really there).

It's what we know _personally_ that determines whether something is
meaningfully related or not.

Pi is a transcendental number, and there is no end to the digits of its
decimal expansion. When we _know_ where the decimal point is, the number
is 100% fully determined as pi. (Or a truncation of pi -- because after
all, pi is based on an unending series of digits in its decimal
expansion.) When we do _not_ know where the decimal point is, the
decimal expansion for pi is, for all intents and purposes, a random
number, and it's used as a random number in many technical and
scientific applications.

Are these same digits pi, or random? That depends on what _we_
know. There is no statistical test that can tell us. The search for a
statistically meaningful effect in a spiritual context is likely to
prove wrong-headed.

>If so, would a statistical disproof of this claimed efficacy then
>constitute a refutation of [Judasim according to] these positions?


Be well.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 23:35:52 -0400
Subject: When wearing pants is obligatory and meritorious

Janet Rosenbaum(v39n9) states that most Poskim who permit pants state
that >they would really like to prohibit them.<

The fallacy in such a statement is that sees ABSTENTION as a Jewish
ideal while it sees INDULGENCE as a concession to the flesh without
intrinsic religious value.

This is simply not true. As the Rav (Dr Joseph B Soloveitchick) put it:
>Judaism opposes HYPNOTIC pleasure; OBSESSIVE pleasure; PLEASURE you
cannot tear yourself away from; But Judaism does support PLEASURE
INDULGENCE otherwise< (The Rav said this while commenting on Gn02-15
which supports him).

To reiterate one religious value in pants I have cited in the past: the
Rambam explicitly states that a person should only marry someone who is
pleasing (physically) to him.

True there are people with rich lives who dont need the added physical
stimulation that would come from women wearing pants....but there are
also people who are emotionally poor and who just have their marriages
to provide them with emotions. Such couples may need public wearing of
pants to keep their marriage going.

Not only is it not for us to intefer...IF that is what they need, then
they are doing nothing wrong. It would be a grave sin to tell such a
couple there is a higher ideal

I think my point here is real--it does not contradict what most poskim
state; rather it introduces another dimension (the couples needs) to
consider when giving a psak--and this has not been discussed.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;http://www.RashiYomi.com/


End of Volume 39 Issue 16