Volume 39 Number 25
                 Produced: Wed May 14  6:18:22 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halacha and pluralism
         [Stan Tenen]
Lida and RIETS
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Modern Orthodox Educational History
         [Irving Green]
Modern Orthodoxy
         [Carl Singer]
Observant Jews as vegetarians
         [David Curwin]
RJJ Article
         [Farkas, David S]
Torah, Prophets, G'mara and Rashi on Vegetarianism


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 08 May 2003 10:15:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and pluralism

At 06:29 AM 5/8/2003, Mordechai Horowitz wrote:
> >Stan writes
> >....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.

Yes, I certainly agree with you. This is what "we believe."

But belief can be quite far from real meaning.  For example, "we
believe" that our letters are holy and sacred, and that Hashem looked
into the Torah and created the world -- but we don't have any
understanding of how this could literally be true.  I know this, because
I've lectured in front of synagogue audiences, starting with a large Bet
on the blackboard.  I've asked the audience if this is one of our sacred
letters used to create the world, and everyone agrees.  But when I ask
how this could be so, everyone is dumbstruck at my even suggesting that
this is more than an "inactive" belief.  (Then, I go on to show how it's
really so. <smile>)

We believe in reaching out, but we still keep 90% of Am Israel standing 
outside with Bar Khamsa.

>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.

I'm not trying to justify lack of observance.  I'm trying to point out
that the way to get the 90% of us who feel Bar Khamsized to start moving
back towards respect for Torah, Torah Judaism, and observance, is to
find real means to genuinely support and respect persons who are
currently non-observant (to whatever standard we may set).

The reason for having this discussion here on mail-jewish is because,
clearly, only a halachically oriented list could possibly discuss
halachic means of finding genuine respect for people who are not
halachically oriented.

>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.

Again, yes, we certainly do "love the sinner but not the sin".  But to
"love the sinner" _actively_ means to find some legitimate points of
respect.  Once we start by labeling a person a "sinner," we've already
excluded them, and demonstrated a profound lack of respect.  The fact is
that unless a person is doing something deliberately, knowingly,
blatantly, publicly offensive (like holding a drag race in a religious
neighborhood on Shabbos, and/or serving a pork barbecue) it's up to God
to decide who's a sinner and who's not a sinner.

And as I've pointed out previously, once we believe in an Infinitely
Infinite God (in every attribute) then we're all at the same level --
we're all infinitesimal in every quality by comparison.  For a tzaddik,
even a hint of treif is a disaster.  For a poor person whose chicken may
have a questionable venue, there's no sin in eating the chicken.

But what does count -- considering that magnitude of effort doesn't
count compared to the Infinity of God -- is which way we're headed, and
what our intentions are.  God's a long way above us.  Most of us can't
leap that high, so we take small steps.  And we set examples for others
to emulate by doing so.

How do we know when we've got it right?  When the 90% of Am Israel that
has distanced itself from Torah starts to move closer to Torah.  That's
the objective test.  Arm-waving and quoting masters of halacha of past
generations may make us feel good and righteous, but it doesn't bring Am
Israel home.  We have to face this, and we have to insist that halachic
authorities, and our sages and leadership, face this also.  We'll know
we're doing something right (or more right) when we see the
intermarriage rate in the US start to decline (and/or when the
previously non-Jewish spouse takes on the obligations of Judaism, and
halachically joins with us.)  Telling a person that we love them in
spite of their being a sinner doesn't seem to be doing the job.



From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Date: Fri, 09 May 2003 08:12:10 -0400
Subject: Lida and RIETS

At 10:13 AM 5/9/03 +0000, you wrote:
>Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, father of the Rov, taught at Reiness' Yeshiva
>before coming to America and REITS.

RMS did not teach at Lida, but at Tachkeoni in Warsaw. The Meitcheter
Illui, R' Shlomo Polatchek, taught at Lida before coming to RIETS, where
he served as Rosh Yeshivs from '22 to '28.



From: Irving Green <scanrom@...>
Date: Fri, 09 May 2003 08:20:08 -0400
Subject: RE: Modern Orthodox Educational History

The author was:

Joseph Wanefsky
Rabbi Jacob Reiners:His Life and Thought
Philosophical Library, NY 1970

An outstanding human being and a great Talmid Chocham- May his memory be a

[Just a quick personal note. Growing up in Washington Heights / YU,
R. Joseph Wanefsky lived in the same apartment building I did. I
remember many a shabbat when we walked home from shul together. He was a
man with an incredible memory, a sharp and warm intellect at the same
time. IN agreement with Irving - May his memory be a blessing. Avi.]


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 9 May 2003 07:56:18 EDT
Subject: Modern Orthodoxy

It seems that no one as yet has been able to define something as
nebulous as Modern Orthodoxy.  We can identify specific organizations,
Young Israel, for example as surrogates for Modern Orthodoxy, but when
one looks within such organizations one finds a broad spectrum of
beliefs and practices.  (And to a recent posting -- knowledge and

Consider that, as with most groups, there are some "theologians" who can
give you chapter and verse what the "formal" tenets of that group are.
There are "zealots" whose noise obliterates the voice of most other
group members, and there is the general membership who probably joined
because they liked the aroma of the chulent.

The broad brush generalizations used to paint various groups really does
a disservice.

Carl Singer


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 19:38:02 +0300
Subject: Observant Jews as vegetarians

> From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
> Since the Torah permits the shehita and eating of kosher animals, it
> would appear to be apikorsical to maintain the position of classical
> vegetarism that the killing and eating of animal flesh is unethical.

I happened to just give a drasha about this on Parshat Acharei Mot.

The Sefer HaIkkarim by R' Yosef Albo, discusses the history of God's
permitting and forbidding the eating of meat. He says that while meat
has nutritional value, it is not good for humans to eat it, because it
encourages bad traits in people, such as cruelty and becoming accustomed
to spilling blood. Therefore, God banned the eating of meat in Gan
Eden. This, however, lead to ideological/ philosophical confusion in
early men - particularly Kayin and Hevel. Without going into detail here
(but I do recommend reading the text - Section 3, end of Chapter 14,
Chapter 15), he discusses Kayin's rejected sacrifice, Hevel's murder,
and Kayin's punishment as all due to a misunderstanding of the issur of
eating meat. Kayin and Hevel both mistakenly believed that it was
forbidden to eat meat because there is no real difference between humans
and the other animals. This mistaken idea continued until the generation
of the flood, where humanity had descended into pure animal like

After the flood, therefore, God explicitly permitted eating meat, so
this mistake would not be continued. But when the Jewish people recieved
the Torah, they were restricted once again - only some animals allowed,
with proper shchita, etc. R' Albo goes on to quote the Gemara where it
says that man should only eat meat when he has a strong desire - ta'avah
- for it.  That for him is the proper balance.

I continued the drasha by discussing the prohibition in Parshat Achrei
Mot of slaughtering animals and eating their meat outside of the
Mikdash. While Rashi says that the Torah is talking here about
sacrifices, the Ramban and others insist that God here was talking about
all opportunities to eat meat.  This prohibition only was removed when,
as in Sefer Devarim, God "enlarged their boundaries" and it became
impractical (unlike in the midbar) to have everyone come to the Mishkan
every time they wanted to eat meat.

The question I asked then, and it is very relevant to this list, is
would it not have been easier for God simply to have always permitted or
prohibited the eating of meat? We see by the changes - from Adam to
Noach, and from the Midbar to Eretz Yisrael, a great opportunity for
misunderstandings and disagreement about interpretation of God's will -
whether it be between Kayin and Hevel or l'havdil, Rashi and the Ramban
(and earlier Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael).

But I believe the idea here is that God wants us to understand that
there exists in this world what appears to the human eye to be
conflicting or even contradicting ideals: nutritional value vs. ethical
training, humans created in tzelem elokim vs all of the world being
created by God, the need to relate all meat as sacrifice vs. the need to
settle the land. God created or enabled these conflicts davka so we
wouldn't have it easy. The constant struggle we make to balance
ourselves between what seem to be conflicting ideals is what the Torah
is all about. That is how we reach holiness.

David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


From: Farkas, David S <DavidF@...>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 10:10:56 -0400 
Subject: RJJ Article

"I also think R. Cohen's avowed objective of producing a balanced
criticism might have been better served by paying a bit more critical
attention to the substance of R. Wein's tendentious "review" in the
Jewish Observer (set off in quotations because one must really read an
article to review it and I was never convinced that R. Wein had actually
done so) rather than limiting himself to a fleeting and undeveloped
reference in a footnote.  "

1) The quotidian marks around the word "review" are correct, not for
Mechy's reason but because Rabbi Wein never intended his article to be a
review as that term is commonly understood. His article was a reaction
to the the overall theme set forth by Prf. Kaplan, and was manifestly
not an attempt to refute or respond to each individual point.

2) Rabbi Wein did read the article, and I am surprised Mechy somehow
inferred that he didn't. I heard Rabbi Wein once comment that
"Everything Kaplan says is 100% correct, but he's still wrong." This
also demonstrates what I mentioned above, that his review was not meant
to counter the sources raised by Kaplan, because Rabbi Wein actually
agreed with Kaplan. As I recall, Rabbi Wein began his review with the
Shakespearian quote, in reference to Kaplan, that "he doth protest too
much". In other words, Rabbi Wein's disagreement was not so much in the
scholarly treatment of Daas Torah, but in what he perceived as Kaplan's
general attitude of bitterness and resentment to the fealty shown
towards Gedolei Torah.

3) To nitpick, Rabbi Cohen cites Rabbi Wein's article in two footnotes,
not just one. However, in the second one, Rabbi Cohen writes (
marshalling R. Wein for support) that Kaplan's explanation of a quoted
statement of Rabbi J.B. Solveichik is incorrect and uncalled for. If you
actually read the full source quoted by Kaplan, it appears to me that
Kaplan was actually correct. I don't have R. Wein's article with me in
the office, so I cant tell if Rabbi Cohen is accurately citing Rabbi
Wein for support here.

David Farkas
Cleveland, Ohio


From: <halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 13:53:04 -0500
Subject: Torah, Prophets, G'mara and Rashi on Vegetarianism

Shalom, All:

  I'm a carnivore, but I respect vegetarians of the non-PETA variety. I
think I see an indication that the Torah, Prophets, G'mara and Rashi
weigh in on this side.

  Commenting upon God's permission to Noah to eat meat, Rashi
(Braysheet/Genesis 9:3) quotes the G'mara (Sanhedrin 57) to note that
Adam was prohibited from eating meat, and it was only now that Noah and
his descendants were permitted to do so. I therefore understand why
people say that vegetarianism is a higher plane: its adherents are
harking back to the original conditions God placed upon humanity: no

  The Torah in D'vareem/Deuteronomy 12:20 allows us to eat meat even if
it isn't a sacrifice, but calls it a "ta'aveh," a craving. This is
hardly a ringing endorsement.

  Furthermore, when the prophet Yeshaya/Isaiah envisions the Messianic
times, he says the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the wolf will
live with the lamb (sans devouring it).

  Lastly, I dimly recall someone quoting Rabbi Kook as saying that in
the Messianic era we will bring sacrifices/offerings of grain, not
meat. Can anyone verify that?

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


End of Volume 39 Issue 25