Volume 40 Number 23
                 Produced: Sun Jul 27 10:13:04 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Denotation and Connotation
         [Jay F Shachter]
Dina Dmalchuta and Insider Trading
         [Bernard Raab]
Driving and Danger (2)
         [Immanuel Burton, Ari Trachtenberg]
How to Name
         [Joshua Adam Meisner]
Little Red Wagon and Shabbat
         [Jack Hollander]
The Ramban
         [Shraga Rubin]
         [Monica Calabrese]
Rebbi vs Rav
         [Martin D Stern]
Why Kol Mitzvoth Hashem=612
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 09:41:10 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: Denotation and Connotation

In v40n15, Yehonatan Chipman objected to the use of the term "the
Rebbe", without further adjective, to refer to the former Lubavitcher
rebbe, the late M. M. Schneerson.  In v40n18, in a long article on
which he clearly expended much time and care, Bob Tolchin makes the
following blatantly counterfactual statement:

> The point of language is communication.

No, it is not.

That is to say, much of the time, if not most of the time, it is not.

First of all, much of language consists of utterances such as "Good
morning", "Git Shabbos", or "You are hereby informed that ... ", which
are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they do not point to any
discernible referent.  Second of all, even utterances which are not
strictly meaningless often clearly have no communicative purpose.  When
you meet your friend on the street on a rainy day, after exchanging
greetings which carry no semantic content, your next utterance will
almost certainly be some restatement of the fact that it is raining.  No
communicative purpose is served by your informing your friend that it is
raining, a situation of which he is clearly as aware as you.  Its
purpose is to acknowledge to your friend your common membership in a
social group, and that you consider him important enough to you not to
walk past him without lingering for a minute in conversation (you can
try to redefine "communication" so as to include such acts, but you
accomplish nothing useful by doing so, you only impair your ability to
use language to make meaningful distinctions).

Written language is no more "communicative" than spoken language.  In
fact, it is far less so.  We do not conform to a standard orthography
because we want to be understood.  It is schoolteacher's humbug to say
that if you don't spell your words right people won't understand you: it
is almost impossible to mangle your spelling to the point where others
won't understand you.  When people advise you not to make any spelling
errors on a job application, it is not because they fear your job
application will not be understood by its readers.

No one who actually observes how language is used could possibly believe
that "the point of language is communication".  That people can believe
such nonsense is impressive evidence of the power of language, the only
mechanism whereby we can believe things that are contradicted by our
senses.  The dumb brutes entirely lack that ability.

Although it could have been articulated more exactly, Yehonatan
Chipman's point stands.  Here are his exact words:

  To assume that the entire Jewish people, of whom I think we have
  a pretty wide cross-section on this list, accept him as simply
  "The Rebbe" is rather offensive and presumptuous.

It is not that he, personally, did not understand the denotation of the
term.  Obviously he did.  But to presume that the entire Jewish people
understand the term is to presume upon more than their knowledge: the
term has a connotation as well as a denotation, a connotation to which
Mr. Chipman refers in the above quote.

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


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 15:20:08 -0400
Subject: Dina Dmalchuta and Insider Trading

> From: Ira Bauman
> The discussion of Dina D'Malchuta Dina allows me an opening into a
> question that I have long pondered.  We always assume that Judaism
> demands of us a higher ethical standard than does the surrounding
> culture.  While this may be true on the whole, there are examples where
> the reverse is true.  An example of this is insider trading.  The SEC
> sees this as an ethical failing.  In a question to Rav Tamari, who has
> authored books on business ethics, he told me that having more
> information than your competitors never was a reason for not acting on
> that information.  This was part of doing business.  Therefore, insider
> trading was not seen as a problem in halacha.

It is possible that Rav Tamari was not asked the right question. When
"insider trading" is a crime (it is not just "an ethical failing") it is
not simply "having more information than your competitors". It is having
the information as a result of your position as a fiduciary trustee,
e.g., as an officer in a company which is publicly owned. Of course, in
the course of your activity you will be aware of information before the
owners of the business (the public). The law says that you may not trade
on that information before you inform the owners, who hired you to run
their business for them. Again, this is not a case of DMD, but of
contract law which the public law seeks to protect.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 12:04:51 +0100
Subject: RE: Driving and Danger

In MJ v40n19 it was stated:

> Thus, as I believe that it can be shown that speed limits were not
> enacted for safety reasons (rather due to gas shortages), I think that
> there is a decent argument that speeding within a safe range is
> halachically permissible.

I feel have to contest this issue - exceeding the speed limit is
dangerous on the grounds that other road users will react to one as if
one is observing the speed limit.  For example, I had a car of mine
written off by a motorcyclist who was speeding - I looked in my mirror,
saw how far back he was and determined that in a 30mph zone he was far
enough away for me to turn safely.  However, as he was speeding, he was
upon me before either of us knew what was happening, and smashed up the
entire right-hand side of my car.  Fortunately neither of us was hurt,
but it could very easily have been otherwise.  (For those who are
interested, the insurance company decided that the motorcyclilst was
liable for the accident.)  Exceeding the speed limit does not,
therefore, allow other road users to assess adequately the safety of any
manoeuvres they want to perform.

With regards to local authorities setting speed limits as a revenue
gathering exercise rather than for safety issues, surely the reasons
behind the laws are irrelevant?  I've been on holiday/vacation and felt
hungry - why can't I have a Big Mac?  It's because the rules say that I
can't, and that's the way it is.  (I am not comparing kashrus with speed
limits, just using this as analogy to show why one can't do what one

Finally, there is another aspect to observing traffic laws, namely that
of Chillul Hashem [desecration of God's Name].  My sister told me that
she was once at a community/police meeting, and one of the police
officers said that whereas the Jews are well behaved and don't cause
trouble, the one thing he didn't like about how Jews behaved was
double-parking (an issue I've raised on MJ before) and so on.  Now that
is a Chillul Hashem, and I have yet to understand why people don't think
there's anything wrong with blocking the road.  I feel that in this
period of the Three Weeks we should be thinking more about our
obligations to and consideration for others.

Immanuel Burton.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:30:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Driving and Danger

 > Thus, as I believe that it can be shown that speed limits were not
 > enacted for safety reasons (rather due to gas shortages), I think
 > that there is a decent argument that speeding within a safe range is
 > halachically permissible.

A number of posters have made this claim, but it appears to be a
natural, but flawed, attempt to justify speeding.  Regardless of the
*initial reason* for enacting speed limit laws, the reason these limits
have stayed is because of the clear evidence that lower speeds improve
accident statistics.

A simple search on google finds various references, of which one that is
easy to read is found at http://www.swov.nl/en/kennisbank/ (under
Speeding).  The authors note that, even on rural roads, 1km/h reduction
in speed results in 2% less injury accidents.  Legislatures try to find
a reasonable balance between safety and human nature when determining
speed limits, which I think is consistent with the halachic process.

Of course, there is also the real problem of chillul hashem when
speeding by other motorists, or if, G-d forbid, someone else is hurt in
a speeding accident.

Kol tuv,
Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Joshua Adam Meisner <jam390@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 13:39:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: How to Name

R' Yehonatan Chipman wrote:

>       It's interesting that in the Tanakh, the mother's name is
> sometimes used in polygamous families, so as to indicate to which branch
> of the family a particular child belonged,  e.g., the sons of King
> David.  We thus have.....  "Adoniyahu ben Hagit," and so forth.

	We find a similar technique used by Yoav ben Tz'ruya (David's
chief-of-staff) and his brothers.  According to Divrei HaYamim, Tz'ruya
was David's sister.  The situation is further intriguing in that nowhere
are we told what Yoav's father's name was.  I recall hearing that Yoav
was known by his mother's name because he was more m'yuchas (having
important relatives) on that side (nephew of the king, and such), but I
don't recall the source.
	This reason doesn't seem so strong to me, because it would seem
that the situation would be common enough that we'd find it more often
in Tanach (this isn't a proof, but wasn't Amasa ben Yeser also the
nephew of David, through David's sister Avigayil?).  Additionally,
making naming decisions based on yichus is not done nowadways, to the
best of my knowledge, although one could also explain the current
practice as stemming from a desire to avoid strife caused by deciding
who qualifies for this special rule, much as is the reason why we no
longer give gedolei ha-dor (leading Torah scholars) precedence over a
kohein for the first aliya.
	 Perhaps one could also suggest that the father of the bnei
Tz'ruya wasn't known.  I'm not sure that it's worthwhile to accuse
David's sister of such behavior, but it would fit the practice brought
down from the Rashi on Bava Metzia by Bill Bernstein in mj40:11.
	There are also several instances where a person in Tanach is
almost always known by their paternal grandfather's name - see Yeihu ben
(Yehoshafat ben) Nimshi, king of Israel, and Zerubavel ben Sh'altiel (I
forget his father's name, but it's in the genealogies of Divrei HaYamim,
I believe), leader of the returning exiles.  Perhaps the skipped
generation could also be attributed to the usage of a more famous
ancestor (wasn't Sh'altiel someone relatively famous?), which would once
again be a judgement call that modern gabbaim don't make, assuming that
all parties involved are kosher Jews.
	I haven't learned these sections of Nach beyond the surface, so
would be interested if anyone has other reasons for these naming



From: Jack Hollander <JackHollander@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 07:46:20 -0400
Subject: Little Red Wagon and Shabbat

I have been waiting for someone to further comment seriously on Carl
Singer's query about the Little Red Wagon.  When our fair city
established its Eruv less than one year ago, we carried enough shule
provisions on Shabbat ( pretzles, siddurim, coats, toys etc.) for every
contingency in bags.  I eyed the shopping trolly as a possible
convenience.  Without a LOR immediately available, I did the next best
thing, asked my good wife (AM'Ve).  Her answer was: "You dare !"

Jack Hollander


From: <BaalHaIkvei@...> (Shraga Rubin)
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:38:01 -0400
Subject: The Ramban

In MJ v40n19 Mark Symons wrote

> On a bit of a tangent to this, why is it that we refer to "The
> Rambam", "The Ibn Ezra", "The Maharal", whereas Rashi and Ramban, for
> example, don't get the definite article?

The Ramban is also customarily referred to as "the".  Rashi and Tosafos
are the only two who aren't.

Shraga Rubin


From: <mjcalabrese@...> (Monica Calabrese)
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 09:03:56 -0400
Subject: Rashi

Mark Symons asks (MJ 40:19):
>On a bit of a tangent to this, why is it that we refer to "The Rambam",
>"The Ibn Ezra", "The Maharal", whereas Rashi and Ramban, for example,
>don't get the definite article?

My son told me that he asked this in yeshivah and was told "because Rashi
is your friend".  :-)

Monica Calabrese (<mjcalabrese@...>)


From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D Stern)
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 04:46:15 EDT
Subject: Re: Rebbi vs Rav

In a message dated 24/7/03, <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad Gevaryahu) wrote, 
commenting on my statement:

<< There is a general principle of 'Gadol meiRav Rabbi, vegadol mei
Rabbi Rabban, vegadol meiRabban shemo' which may be loosely translated
that 'the rabbinic titles in ascending order of stature are Rav, Rabbi,
Rabban, but the greatest Sages (like Hillel) need no title at all'.>>

> Titles change with passage of time and within various groups. Rav or
> Ha'Rav meant Rabbi Kook amongst the Zionists in the early part of the
> century, and this very title meant Rabbi JB Soloveichick among YU
> graduates in the middle to the late parts of the 20th century. Some use
> the title Rav even today.

    I fear he has completely missed the point. Rabbenu Hakadosh (as a
Tanna and had semikhah) should be referred to as Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi
not Rav Yehudah which would be appropriate for an amora who did not have
semikhah. Modern terminology is not relevant to this point.

    Yours sincerely
    Martin D Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 19:43:09 -0400
Subject: Why Kol Mitzvoth Hashem=612

Gershon (v40n15) raises the question as to why KOL MITZVOTH HASHEM is
612 in Gematria instead of 613.

Simple! There are only 612 OTHER Commandments (besides Tzitzith). When
COMMANDMENTS OF GOD,then quite simply we only have to remember the OTHER
commandments, not the fringe commandment itself, and there are only 612
of these other commandments

(In passing---I am a kormaner Chosid on my mothers side(But a Mitnaged
by heart); my father may he rest in peace helped get the Kormaner Rebbe
social security when he came to America)

Russell Jay Hendel; 
(Who still believes in Grammar and lists,not Gematria)


End of Volume 40 Issue 23