Volume 40 Number 08
                 Produced: Sun Jul 13 10:34:00 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beracha on dessert
         [Gershon Dubin]
Big Mitzvah (2)
         [David Charlap, Gershon Dubin]
         [Eli Turkel]
Buying Minhagei Yisrael
         [Eli Turkel]
         [Joel Rich]
Disagreement and ciriticism
         [Carl Singer]
Eating before Davening
         [Dov Teichman]
English Translation of Rabbi Sperber's Article
         [Shaun Jackson]
King David's wives war captives
         [Elazar M Teitz]
Moabite Converts
         [Batya Medad]
Steipler Rebbe and Automobiles
         [Akiva Wolff]
A Third approach to teaching Homily (Midrash)
         [David I. Cohen]
Top Ten Gedolim
         [Jeffrey Blumstein]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 18:15:53 GMT
Subject: Beracha on dessert

> From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>

<<We asked our rabbi what the conclusion was.  He said, "I cited a
number of sources supporting my position and he cited a number of
sources supporting his position.  It's an honest makhlokhis.">>

Could you get hold of some of those citations?  I am not aware that for
most desserts (with the exception of cake/pie, etc) anyone disagrees
with the halacha of making a separate beracha.



From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 09:55:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Big Mitzvah

Bernard Raab wrote:
> I realize that this mitzvah is hard to reconcile with the aveira of
> tsa'ar ba'alei chayim but that does not give us license to ignore the
> clear pshat of the Torah text. The full text reads: "If you happen upon
> a bird's nest on the road or in any tree or on the earth, and the mother
> is sitting on the chicks or the eggs, do not take the mother with the
> offspring (according to Rashi and the Targum). Send away (Shaleach
> t'shalach) the mother and take the offspring for yourself, that it shall
> be good with you and your days prolonged." (D'varim 22/6,7) It does NOT
> say: "If you desire the eggs or chicks...",  and a moment's reflection
> will reveal that such a clause would render the entire mitzvah trivial
> and hardly deserving of such a lofty and rare reward. Is it even
> possible to take the eggs or the chicks from a nest without first
> shooing away the mother bird which is sitting on them? Of course not.

So what exactly are you saying here?

You seem to be saying that if I happen to walk by a bird's nest, I am
obligated to shoo the mother and take the eggs/chicks, even if I don't
want them and have no clue what to do with them.

Does this make any sense at all?  Do you seriously think that God wants
us to take possession of eggs/chicks that we have no intention to raise
or eat?

-- David

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 18:19:31 GMT
Subject: Big Mitzvah

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>

<<Honoring one's parents is easy because it is natural. People all over
the world do it, even those who never heard of the Torah. Moreover, the
gemarah tells us that one can be yotze (fulfill) this mitzvah by seeing
to ones parents basic needs for shelter and food in their old age,
something which only the most reprobate offspring fail to do.>>

There is a Gemara to the effect that this is a very hard mitzva to do
properly.  I don't have sources with me at work but I believe it related
to Abaye who in fact had no parents (his father died while his mother
was pregnant and his mother died in childbirth).



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 19:24:16 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Blessings

<Why is it that for fruits and vegetables, Jewish law differentiates and
has two separate Blessing classes while for the physiologically more
complex meat-fish-eggs class Jewish law lumps everything together

The more the food needs human intervention the higher the level of
beracha needed. So meat, fish & eggs which grow by themselves need the
most general beracha of shehakol. Fruits and vegetables which are grown
by humans have their own beracha and bread which has the greatest human
contribution (and also wine) has the highest level beracha.

Rav Soloveitchik discusses this situation which seems counter-intuitive.
i.e. a first glance would say that the more human intervention the less
need for blessing G-d.

Eli Turkel


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 19:26:59 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Buying Minhagei Yisrael

I bought the most recent volume in the Bar Ilan University bookstore.  I
don't know if they ship.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 07:07:39 EDT
Subject: Conversion

Sources or thoughts on the following question:

A non-Jew comes to you and says "I accept the God of Abraham...Moses as
the true God.  I understand that Judiasm does not seek converts but does
not forbid them.  Does God prefer me to be a good non-Jew who keeps the
7 mitzvot or would he prefer me to convert to keep 613 or is he

How would we respond?

Joel Rich


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 21:14:29 -0400
Subject: Disagreement and ciriticism

> From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
> We had a rabbi (RCA) who taught us that the Ha'Motzi covers the rest of
> the meal.  While teaching at the small community Day School, my wife was
> criticized (by a Chabad women) for not having the children do a separate
> blessing over dessert.

As usual, I'm interested in the behavior of one Jew to another.  What
right does one Jews have to criticize another Jew under these
circumstances.  One can open up discussion -- "you know I learned that
.... "  or "My Posek told me that ...." -- we have pluralistic
interpretations.  But criticism is a questionable, disrepectful
response.  Reversing the circumstances, could you imagine someone
criticsing someone by telling them that making the brocha on dessert a
brucha levatolah.

BTW -- I'll skip desert -- I've been eating all too well.

Carl Singer


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 19:52:45 EDT
Subject: Re: Eating before Davening

The source for the Halacha in Shmirath Shabbath K'Hilchasa i believe is
from Shulchan Aruch OH 89:3 where the Biur Halacha says that a weak
person should pray first, and then eat, and then go to shul to hear
kadish, barchu, kedusha, etc.

I never understood this properly because in what case then does the
regular halacha that a weak person may eat before davening apply? Unless
it applies to an even sicker person who cannot wait at all, not even to
pray privately, and must eat immediately.

Dov Teichman


From: Shaun Jackson <sshaunj@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 14:09:12 +0800
Subject: English Translation of Rabbi Sperber's Article

Is there an english translation of Rabbi Sperber's article in the most
recent edition of the journal Deot on women in prayer services?



From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 09:21:36 -0400
Subject: King David's wives war captives

>Were any of King David's wives war captives?

        The Talmud (Sanhedrin 21a) states that he had 400 sons of war
captives.  It also states there that Tamar's mother Ma'acha was a war
captive, else how could Tamar tell Amnon that King David would not deny
her to him? -- if her mother were Jewish, they would be siblings
halachically as well as physically.  See Tosafos there for a discussion
of how this is to be understood according to the opinion that even one
act of intercourse is prohibited until after the process outlined in the
Torah is completed. 

        [The Talmud in Kiddushin 22a says that the soldier is not
permitted to impose himself on her during the war.  The commentaries
(and, according to Talmud Yerushalmi, the sages Rav and Shmuel) dispute
whether the reference is to a second liaison, but once is permitted, or
none are permitted until the process of D'varim 22:10-13 is undergone.]

[Other list members referencing the same source:
Gil Student <gil_student@...>
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jul 2003 06:53:28 +0200
Subject: Re: Moabite Converts

      of the SINGULAR and PLURAL. HE shall not convert because THEY did
      not go out with food and water. Such a contrast of SINGULAR and
      PLURAL always points to an emphasis...in this case we emphasize
      that only MALE moabites cant convert (Since the singular is gender

Yes, good point.  Human nature, some people look for "chumrot" and tried
not to accept female Moabite converts. When Ruth and Naomi arrived in
Beit Lechem, people were not happy to see them.  Many were angry that
Naomi and husband and sons had deserted them when times were difficult,
and female Moabite converts were not easily accepted.  And those holding
the family property weren't interested in sharing.



From: Akiva Wolff <wolff@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 14:26:19 +0200
Subject: RE: Steipler Rebbe and Automobiles

>>From: Akiva Wolff <wolff@...>
>>The Steipler Rebbe was reputed to have said that if there were a
>>Sanhedrin today, they would forbid the automobile (presumably because of
>>the high number of people killed in them).

> This being the case, should they not have forbidden cliffs, fire,
> childbirth, war, alcohol, knives and other such 'dangerous' things?
> Charriots were okay and people could be crushed beneath the wheels or
> the horses could get away and trample someone.This line of reasoning
> always bothers me.  Halaha is not out to assur everything under the sun.
> As with all things, the danger is in how they are used.

May I suggest that this is not an altogether accurate comparison. Unlike
the other items mentioned here (fire, childbirth,... etc.) using an
automobile is very much a choice, and in some places, still considered a
luxury. Here in Eretz Yisrael, a person can usually choose between using
public transportation or owning an automobile. The automobile is
(generally) faster, more convenient and more comfortable. On the other
hand, the automobile is usually more dangerous, more polluting, more
expensive and more of a nuisance - especially for other people who don't
share in the benefits - than public transportation. I'm not aware of
instances where Rabbanum have considered forbidding "cliffs, fire,
childbirth, war, alcohol, or knives" - though perhaps someone can
enlighten us here.



From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 11:46:03 -0400
Subject: A Third approach to teaching Homily (Midrash)

Russell Hendell writes:

<<So no, I cant fully agree with Batya or the Barkai method: Midrash is
not something for the unclear; it is not something that comes afterward;
it is an intrinsic part of the text and life and to deprive a child of
these nuances is no different than feeding him fairytales.>>

I think that Russell overstates his case. Not every medrash or other
homiletic type teaching of Torah (usually referred to as "drash") can be
reconciled as the "pshat" or basic meaning of the text.

Nechama Leibowitz z"tl repeatedly taught that when it came to the
instances when Rashi quotes a medrashic statement, he did not do so for
its entertainment value, but because, in that particular circumstance,
the particular medrash that Rashi quotes is (In Rashi's opinion) the
actual "pshat" of that particular verse.

But that does not mean that every medrash is meant to be learned as the
actual "pshat". Otherwise, we would be conflating the 4 different
methods of Torah exegesis into 3.

David I. Cohen


From: Jeffrey Blumstein <blumsj@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 02:50:52 -0400
Subject: Top Ten Gedolim

            Hi all! While I don't want to be disrespectful to the
gedolim [Torah giants] of our generation (or any other generation for
that matter), I have been thinking about this question for a while, and
since I'm new to the whole frum [observant] thing, I don't know where to
look for the answer, but I figure here is a good place to start. The
question is, if we wanted to make a "top ten" list of gedolim for this
generation, then who would be on it? I'm not necessarily saying to put
them in order (with the "greatest" at the top) although that might not
be a bad idea, depending on how people will feel if there is a
disagreement regarding order.

Also, when I say this generation, I should be more specific and limit
"our generation" to those gedolim who are alive today (For example,
while I don't know if Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l would be in the top ten, I
wouldn't list him here since he died recently.) I don't mean to
trivialize Torah scholarship by adding it to the list of "top ten
lists," but I feel that it's important to know who our leaders
are. Also, another equally interesting question, what about the top ten
gedolim since around 1945?

I suppose that I'm making two assumptions here. First, I'm assuming that
a given person could come up with a list of names, and second, that
people would agree on at least a partial list. The first assumption
doesn't seem too bad, but the second one could be a problem (The whole
"Two Jews, three opinions" thing.)  Obviously there are tensions in the
Torah world today that would prevent people from agreeing on a list, but
we can always try.

            -Jeffrey Blumstein

[I think it might be interesting to come up with a list of the people
that list members look up to as the current Gedolei Torah. I do not
think that any attempt to "rank" them will be of value, but the list
itself might be of interest. Mod.]


End of Volume 40 Issue 8