Volume 39 Number 21
                 Produced: Fri May  9  6:23:12 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Allegory and Shir Hashirim
         [Elliot Stern]
Banning "Making of a Gadol" and rate of attrition
Birchat Ha'Chodesh  - "haba" vs. "habayim"
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Divrei Elokim Hayyim
         [Mark Steiner]
Kosher Goat's Cheese
         [Akiva Miller]
Making of a Gadol
         [Joseph Rosen]
Query re: Orthodox Institutions statements supporting worker
         [Yaakov Fogelman]
Shir HaShirim
         [Stan Tenen]
The Song Of Songs
         [Ben Katz]
         [Joel Rich]
translating Shir haShirim
         [Shmuel Ross]


From: Elliot Stern <ejstern@...>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 08:34:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Allegory and Shir Hashirim

There is one important point which needs to be said here. (I have not
been following the whole thread of the discussion, so I don't know if
anyone said this already). It is something I heard from R. Aryeh
Klapper, of the Harvard Hillel, though I am not sure how much of this is
his, and how much is mine. If we assume that Shir HaShirim is in fact
intended to be an allegory, this would mean that the allegorical meaning
is the p'shat of the sefer. However, to write allegorically means
writing with two levels of meaning in mind, that of the literal
understanding, and the desired non-literal message. The allegory is
created by the relationship between the literal meaning and the
allegorical meaning. Without first understanding the mashal, any
interpretation of the nimshal is not true to the text. So, for example,
if the allegory of Shir Hashirim is about the relationship between God
and Israel, then the characters, Shepardess and her beloved, actually
refer (l'fi pshuto) to Israel and God. However, the text on the literal
level must still be meaningful and coherent in order for the second
level meaning, rightly called the true meaning, to be abstracted from it
(isn't that what allegory is after all). If it were the case that the
text has no literal meaning, then we would not be dealing with an
allegorical text, but rather with a coded text. The Shepardess would not
simply refer to Israel, but, it contradistinction to other times it is
used, the word itself would actually mean Israel. If this were to be the
case, any object could have been used, and the story itself need not
have been coherent, and there would be absolutely no reason to translate
it literally (as in the normal usage of the words), as doing so would
simply be getting it wrong. However, I think that we have traditionally
held that Shir Hashirim is an allegory, and therefore, needs to be
understood in relationship to the literal meaning.

     Elliot Stern 


From: <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 21:41:34 -0700
Subject: Re: Banning "Making of a Gadol" and rate of attrition

> From: <FriedmanJ@...>
> So we are setting our own kids up for failure, making sure that when
> they do find out these people are "normal" they will get disgusted and
> leave.  90% have already, as someone noted in a previous post.

Has there been a 3 fold increase in the frum population in the past  20
years? When I moved into Boro Park it was already tight living  quarters
and Flatbush was pretty full too. And there were lots and  lots and
kids. I don't think its exaggerating to say that the average  number of
kids a family had in its household during the  80s was 6. 
Plus, there was supposed to have been tremendous burst in the  kiruv
population since the early 80s. So where is everybody? 

I think the rate of attrition is much higher than 90%.


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 09:15:36 EDT
Subject: Birchat Ha'Chodesh  - "haba" vs. "habayim"

Mark Steiner (v39n14) says <The (Ashkenazi="prushim") custom in Jerusalem
is to say, indeed, hodesh haba.>.

I have discussed the issue of "haba" vs. "habayim" in MailJewish 28:38.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 14:10:02 +0200
Subject: Re: Divrei Elokim Hayyim

A number of writers have mentioned the passage "divrei elokim hayyim
umelekh `olam" but I don't recall that anybody remarked that in this
passage it is impossible to parse (divrei elokim) hayyim, because then
"umelekh `olam" has no meaning by itself.  Instead, it must mean divrei
(elokim hayyim u melekh `olam), i.e. "the words of the Living God and
King of the Universe."  In which case it doesn't seem reasonable to
translate otherwise in the expression elu ve'elu divrei elokim hayyim.
If this was said before, my apologies.


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 08:24:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher Goat's Cheese

Stephen Phillips asked about a product. <<< The Hechsher states, below
the OKD, "Cholov Yisroel koshered at 212 degrees." My question is what
does it mean that it was "koshered at 212 degrees?" How can boiling up
something make it kosher? >>>

I read an article about this once. It does not mean that the cheese
itself was boiled. Rather the equipment -- which was used for non-kosher
(or perhaps kosher but not Cholov Yisroel) cheese -- was koshered with
boiling water.

There are some authorities which allow one to kosher the equipment with
water which is very hot but not quite boiling, and the manufacturers of
this product are advertising that they follow the stricter opinion, and
use truly boiling water for the koshering.

Akiva Miller


From: Joseph Rosen <rosenjoseph1@...>
Date: Wed, 07 May 2003 19:53:31 +0000
Subject: Making of a Gadol

I don't understand why the people on this list seem so motivated to find
ways to read this book, even going so far to post where it can be seen
on the internet. The gadol ha-dor together with many other gedolim have
given a pesak halakhah that the book is pasul. They used extremely sharp
language.  People on this list are acting like the gedolim are some sort
of primitives that can be ignored and their words can be laughed
off. "After all, we are modern people, we know better, we don't respond
like those old fashioned, out of touch rabbis in Jerusalem and Bnei
Brak" - that is what people on this list are thinking. Have any other
poskim ruled that it iis permissible to read the book? When I say poskim
I mean poskim who would not be afraid to dispute the gadol ha-dor in an
issue of Hilkhot Shabbat or Kashrut. The author reported that Rabbi
Sternbuch permitted it, but R. Sternbuch contradicts this. Where is the
Kavod ha-Torah? Why is a clear pesak halakhah signed by some 20 gedolim
being ignored? All who care about Yiddishkeit must remove this book from
their possession, or explain why they know more than these gedolim.



From: Yaakov Fogelman <top@...>
Subject: Query re: Orthodox Institutions statements supporting worker      

Back in the old country (Boston), I recall a well publicized responsum
of the Vaad Harabbanim of Boston, led by Rav Samuel Korff, z"l, banning
as "treif" the agricultural produce, e.g. grapes and lettuce, of
allegedly ill-treated Mexican farm workers. Further information can be
obtained from his successor, Rav Avraham Halbfinger, of Brighton,
Mass. I seek info on any possible prohibitions of having non-Jewish
guests at the seder; also, does anyone know where Prof. Y. Leibowitz
writes about his view, that whether or not rabbis taught goyim Torah was
simply a response to its likely benefit or loss for the Jews; so Rambam,
tho he viewed Moslems as absolute monotheists, and Christians as
idolators, bans teaching Torah to Moslems, but OK's it re Christians,
since only the latter accept the divinity and accuracy of the Torah!
(learnt from Sorbonne Prof. Paul Fenton, currently giving a course on
Jewish-Islamic medieval theological debates, at Pardes; unlike many
rabbis and roshei yeshiva, he speaks calmly, without any emotional
trips!).If you would like to receive my free e-mail English and/or
Hebrew parasha studies, just send me an e-mail address.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 09:56:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Shir HaShirim

At 05:15 AM 5/6/2003, you wrote:
>From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
>However, it is possible that Artscroll goes too far in claiming that
>Shir Hashirim "has no plain meaning", i.e. that there is no human-erotic
>element present in the pshat.  After all, as I once pointed out on this
>list, Hazal did derive some of the laws of erotica ("erva") from the
>Song--one is not permitted to recite the shma in the presence of "erva."
>The Song contains a number of good definitions of what is considered

There is, in fact, "no plain [literary, verbal, narrative] meaning" to
the Shir.  It cannot _ever_ be properly and completely translated or
interpreted, once the translator makes the assumption that the language
of the Shir is poetry or that it makes use of literary metaphor.

The Shir is pure Kabbalah.  It can only be understood at the geometric
and topological level, based on _geometric_ metaphor.  I know that
wordsmiths insist that only words are needed to understand, and that if
something can't be understood in words, it doesn't exist.  But this is
not true, as scientists, mathematicians, dancers, musicians, and other
specialists who use formal languages and formal alphabets already know.
The latest research demonstrates that the deepest thought is
_pre_-verbal.  When our modern religious and academic scholars insist on
verbal, narrative meaning, they are throwing the baby out, and keeping
the bath water.

There's no translation in the bath water, once we've tossed the baby out
(the deep meaning of the text, in geometric terms).

Lest anyone misunderstand, this is not some sort of sterile, abstract
geometry.  The geometry of the Shir is the geometry of embryology,
cosmology, and life.  It's about _all_ self-organizing systems, and how
they need each other.  So, this mathematics is not sterile -- it's a

Apparent references to sexuality in Kabbalistic texts may now be all the
rage in academic scholarship, but they're almost always based on a
misunderstanding that confuses the circumstances of le petit mort (in
sexual release) with le grand mort (in ego-death, as appropriate to a
person who is bitul).

If we would like to know what the Shir is really telling us, then we're
not going to find it from any Artscroll translation produced by
wordsmith scholars -- because it's simply not possible to find words to
do this.  (If words were enough, math, physics, and music wouldn't make
up their own notation.)

So, the reason why the Shir is currently problematic, taken to be
erotic, or inscrutable, is because we have imposed an inappropriate
presumption on it.  The Shir is not a word-poem.  It's a math-poem.  As
long as wordsmiths are afraid of geometry and mathematics, the Shir will
remain untranslatable, and/or wrongly translated.

For example, the "field of lilies amongst thorns" mentioned in the Shir,
and in the Introduction to the Zohar, is an explicit description of the
geometry specified by pairing the letters at the beginning of B'reshit.
The lilies are process, and the thorns are structure; and between the
two, is the process of life and love.  (But it's a little hard to show
this here in verbal form -- because it's not demonstrable in words.

If anyone is interested in more detail, please get in touch with me, and
I'll walk you through the geometry.



From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 18:09:16 -0500
Subject: Re: The Song Of Songs

>From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
>Jay Schachter wrote:
> >This astonishing notion -- the notion that there is any branch of Torah
> >Judaism which rejects romantic love as a value and a goal -- must be
> >repudiated.
>I am not aware of any source, in either the written or oral Torah, that
>implies that romantic feelings should be evident PRIOR to marriage.
>Yes, there is a deep relationship between husband and wife.  But that is
>after the wedding.

         Jacob kisses Rivka the minute he sees her - clearly an example
of "love at first site".  BTW, this is the only example in Tanach of a
man kissing a woman that he is not married or closely related to (ie
nuclear family).


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 14:35:43 -0400
Subject: Tachanun

Does anyone know the reason that we don't say tachanun at mincha the day
before a day that we wouldn't be saying tachanun on?

Joel Rich


From: Shmuel Ross <shmuel@...>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 16:48:46 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Re: translating Shir haShirim

> It is my guess that either Artscroll did not want its lay readership
> to understand the literal meaning of the Shir haShirim text, or it could not
> find satisfactory terminology to express the Hebrew ideas in English.

   This would be among a great many statements made on this list over
the past months to the effect that ArtScroll doesn't provide a literal
translation of Shir HaShirim.  Which puzzles me, because of course it
does.  In the Stone Tanach, the literal translation is included within
the commentary at the bottom of the page, and is labelled as such, while
the stuff at the top of the page as labelled as being an "allegorical
rendering following Rashi."  While there may be a question of emphasis,
there's certainly no bowlderization going on here.

   The only thing I can think of is that perhaps people are objecting to
the lack of a literal translation of Shir HaShirim in the ArtScroll
*Siddur*, but, in that case, they're simply looking in the wrong place.
(If you're turning to a siddur for a translation of a megillah, it's not
the publisher who has the problem here.)



End of Volume 39 Issue 21