Volume 41 Number 07
                 Produced: Tue Nov  4  5:23:36 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Behaviour in School
         [Michael Kahn]
Hair Covering
         [Immanuel Burton]
Kosher restaurants
         [David Charlap]
Modest clothing
         [Israel Caspi]
A Plug for learning English
         [Russell J Hendel]
Simchat Torah (2)
         [Esther Posen, Alan Friedenberg]
Simchat Torah Dancing (2)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Sam Saal]
Substandard English
         [Levy Lieberman]
"Tam U-mu'ad"
         [Gil Student]


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 11:01:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Behaviour in School

>Why should behaviour be different in the afternoon (i.e. in the secular
>lessons) from the morning (i.e. the Kodesh lessons)? Is this not part of
>the problem?

Of course it's part of the problem. My point is someone is doing
something about it.


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 13:09:08 +0000
Subject: RE: Hair Covering

In MJ v41n05, Batya Meded wrote:

> Not so, re: the Moslem women.  They may not have the variety--hats,
> wigs, scarves, etc--we have, but I see Moslem women frequently, and
> their hair covering is not strictly uniform.

Fair enough.  I was going by what I've seen in England.  Perhaps media
coverage of women in Afghanistan etc wearing yashmaks and the like
helped publicise that Moslem women cover their hair.

Immanuel Burton.


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 10:40:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Kosher restaurants

Sam Saal wrote:
> ... When a new restaurant opens the food is often tasty and the 
> service is excellent. Over time, however, I've noticed things 
> deteriorate. The owner tries to cut costs knowing he has a captive 
> audience. This works, at first, but sooner or later these cuts in 
> quality or service become noticeable and the place loses business.
> More often than not, this forces the owner to try cutting the same
> costs, but this is already well into the death spiral. ...

It's not just the kosher restaurants.

All restaurants, including the big national chains, face the same
problem.  As time goes by, quality goes down.  Either the portions get
smaller, or they use cheaper ingredients, or they set their wages such
that good chefs look for jobs elsewhere.  Oftentimes, this spiral is
accompanied by higher prices as well.

Sometimes they pull out of it by improving quality (and usually raising
the price in the bargain), accompanied by an advertising campaign to ask
customers to give them another try.

Sometimes they don't - they end up getting sold and re-open "under new
management".  I've seen some restaurants that seem to have new
management every six months.

The only way to avoid the death spiral is to increase prices when costs
go up, instead of cutting quality.  But that can't outstrip the
economics of the customers.  Only very expensive upscale restaurants can
afford to do this without sacrificing some customers.  (And even they
sometimes end up cutting quality.)

A Jew who only eats at kosher restaurants will only notice this pattern
in the kosher restaurants, but it happens to all of them.  If you have
friends (perhaps not Jewish) who frequent non-kosher restaurants, ask
them.  You'll probably hear the same stories.

-- David


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Subject: Modest clothing

Regarding the question of clothing, in times gone by, men -- like women
-- wore skirt-like robes.  Clothing historians have traced the wearing
of pants for men to the 13th century (or so), when sailors began the
"fashion" for reasons of both practicality and modesty, i.e., so they
did not constantly have to grab at wind-whipped robes while at sea.
>From that beginning, pants for men caught on and ultimately replaced the
robe as the normative garb for men.

Who ruled that that change was modest and/or "halachic"?  My daughter
points out that in a patriarchal system, such as our rabbinic
establishment, women would not have been consulted about whether men's
clothing which showed the separation of the male's legs, and emphasized
other of their bodily parts, were a turn on for females.  Nor would that
question ever have occurred to the rabbinic leaders who adopted - or at
least accepted - the fashion.

So let's now ask the question: if wearing pants is immodest for women,
what makes it modest for men to do so?

Israel Caspi


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003 23:16:08 -0500
Subject: A Plug for learning English

A small comment on learning English (and learning secular studies in

Very often we neglect the possible benefit to Judaism and learning.

For example English usage can help us understand Talmudic
derivations. Perhaps a small example might help..

In my 1980 TRADITION Article Peshat and derash (See url below for a
downloadable pdf version) I give the following example: The Hebrew word
ACH is normally taken as a limitation. Such a rule-- ach is a limitation
 -- seems mechanical and empty.

I however suggest,we can make the law alive by using English
concepts. Thus I suggest translating ACH as USUALLY / MOST OF THE
TIME). This idea of ACH as MOST OF fits many verses and Talmudic homily
well. Thus the verse "USUALLY you will have atonement on Yom Kippur"
implies "not always (eg you havent asked forgiveness from fellow
man)". "You will be happy MOST OF the Holiday" implies "not necessarily
the whole holiday---eg you arent obligated to be happy on the first
night". Similarly the Biblical verse "and MOST OF Noach remained in the
Ark" implies the well known Agaddah "Most of him remained but not all of
him...this teaches that the lion bit off part of his leg for bringing
his dinner late"

Notice how these Talmudic homilies follow effortlessly and

We have here an example of how skillful use of English has led to deeper
appreciation of the Bible.

I believe that emphasizing the possible benefits to Talmudic study could
encourage more secular learning.

Respectfully; Russell Jay Hendel;


From: Esther Posen <eposen@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:03:55 -0600
Subject: RE: Simchat Torah

Though I've long ago lost my interest in Simchas Torah as a spectator
sport, at least after the first half hour, I remain uninterested in
dancing with the Torah, it seems like too feminist/apologist to me.
Mainstream orthodox women are not called to the Torah, and no matter how
much they learn Torah, they are not obligated to do so.  Whenever the
custom of Simchat Torah started, we can be reasonably be sure there were
no women dancing with Torahs on the other side of the mechitza. However,
neither are they obligated to sit around in hot sweaty shuls shmoozing
and admiring each other's outfits.  They can choose to stay home and
learn or read a novel, they can choose to bring their children (everyone
agrees that Simchat Torah is a child's time to be in shul), or take a
good long walk.  If they really like to dance, they can even dance
without a Torah.

Now about those rowdy, drunk, endlessly dancing yeshiva bochurim.  They
are, as an uncle of mine used to say, just yiddishe kinderlach having a
good time.  In shul.  Because of the Torah.  Twice a year.  (Simchat
Torah and Purim.) They don't listen to secular music.  They don't go to
movies.  They don't have girl friends.  They are so busy learning Torah
that many of them don't stop to play basketball or to do some light
reading.  "Fargin" them their good time.  How are they bothering you?
Do they make you feel old?  Don't worry they'll get old and kvetchy too.
And if they don't, you'll make disparaging remarks about that old man
who dances like he thinks he's still fifteen.  If it's too much "fun"
for you to deal with, find a hashkama minyan somewhere that dispenses
with the whole Simchas Torah hakafos, leining and musaf by 10:30AM.

Esther Posen

From: Alan Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 07:00:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Simchat Torah

>From Meir Possenheimer:
> Indeed, I often feel that Yomtov "ends" with Mincha on Shemini
> Atzeres.  The protracted dancing(?) and singing (shouting?) of both
> the evening and the following day mean that there is virtually no time
> left for a Yomtov Seudah with the family, to pick up a Sefer or simply
> to enjoy Yomtov and relax with the family.  But, other than leaving
> Shul in the middle of the proceedings, which on Simchas Torah at least
> means not being able to hear Krias Hatorah and davenning Musaph with
> the Tzibur, I feel that there is little else one can do. Perhaps if
> the time comes when those left in Shul see that there is no minyan
> left with which to continue, they may finally get the
> message..........

How about attending a hashkama minyan?  We have one here in Baltimore
that starts about 6:30, and usually ends at about 9:30.  It has been
well attended, with about 100 or so men.  The three hours includes a
short auction, exactly 7 hakafos, and 3 simultaneous laynings.  I have
time to go home, relax for a short while, and then I can take my family
back to shule for dancing- and we can leave when we want!

Alan Friedenberg


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <hsabbam@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 11:21:45 -0500
Subject: RE: Simchat Torah Dancing

>From: <Smwise3@...>
><<Hakafos seems more an event for the young, namely young yeshivish men and
>younger. They obviously are caught up in the spirit of the occasion, but why
>must they go on for a half hour or more? The dancing consists of little more
>than being crushed as you walk around in a circle, and the "older" men sit
>it out, learn or talk with others during the bulk of the time spent. While I
>realize the young yeshiva boys bring spirit, they also show little
>consideration or respect for the people around them. It seems to me that
>even in this playfulness, they display disrespect and disregard for
>others--antithetical to the teachings of the very Torah they dance with.
>Coupled with the drinking, and in some places, the pranks, Simchas Torah
>starts resembling Purim. Quite honestly, when they get so caught up in the
>singing and dancing--a natural release after the intensity of the holiday
>season--do they still realize why they are doing it?>>

While at one time we had the pranks as well, once even going so far as
to put the mussaf shliach tzibbur on the yellow line in the street in
front of the shul, our rav put his foot down and stopped the horseplay.
Our simcha is indeed in the dancing and not in the playfulness.  Our rav
is very careful as to how long each hakafa may last in order to prevent
tircha d'tzibura but still have an adequate time for the dancing.  When
we go outside to dance with the shul across the street, we are carefule
to dance in the parking lot and not in the street.

The entire matter is that everything must be done with common sense
(which isn't so common) and we must remember kavod hatorah as well as
simchah b'torah.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz - <sabbahillel@...>

From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003 19:29:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Simchat Torah Dancing

From: <Smwise3@...>
>Hakafos seems more an event for the young, namely young yeshivish men and
>younger. They obviously are caught up in the spirit of the occasion, but
>why must they go on for a half hour or more? The dancing consists of
>little more

It's interesting that you noticed this.

I've been getting the feeling over the past years that Simchat Torah has
become boring. In part, my knees will no longer allow me to participate
in what my father calls "the yeshivah shuffle", in part because the
dancing seems tepid and unexciting/uninspired.

But this year, in my shul, things seemed a bit different. I think it was
because a couple of young men were there having recently returned from a
year or more in Israeli yeshivot. Yes, they (and some "old timers" and
even the Rabbi) prolonged hakafot, but only for a few minutes
each. While multiplying that by seven undoubtedly "adds up" (math pun
intended), it didn't seem onerous to me and felt great.

I'd rather see this trend than the high kicking "dancing" at weddings
that I've seen injure bystanders

Sam Saal


From: Levy Lieberman <kushint@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 13:00:04 -0500
Subject: Substandard English

Growing up, I attended a Yeshivah at which we had no secular education,
period; that includes studying English. Common practice was (and still
is) that if a boy showed poor command of the language (in either reading
or writing) a tutor was hired to teach him privately. This school
(Oholei Torah) is set on a philosophy that the curriculum itself be "Al
Taharas Hakodesh" (=in the purity of holiness); nessecary secular
studies should be kept outside the official curriculum. (What subjects
constitute "nessecary" is a debate in and of itself, but the topic of
this discussion is quite specific: English, which all agree is a

There are many within the community who fear this approach, and prefer
to send their children to schools that offer secular studies as well.
But I cannot say that the first system has been a failure. Yes, there
are a number of graduates who may come across as "iletarate", but NO
system is fool-proof.


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 12:06:06 -0500
Subject: Re: "Tam U-mu'ad"

Joshua Meisner wrote:

>Some years back, a rebbe of mine in high school mentioned a book
>called "Tam U-mu'ad".  I believe that it is also known by the
>considerably less obscure title "Toldot Yeshu" (Biography of Jesus)...
>Can anyone provide information on the origins of this book?
>Additionally, is it at all based on fact or is it just a historical

The book emanated from the persecuted European Jews in the high middle
ages.  It contains any derogatory story from Talmud, Midrash, and legend
that might possibly be attributed to Jesus, even if by a long stretch.
The main goal of the book was clearly to besmirch him and the Christian
religion, an understandable goal given the persecutions of the time at
the hand of the Christians.

It is unknown who compiled/wrote the text but it is clear that many
respected rishonim would have disagreed with the attribution of some of
the stories to Jesus.

There are scholars who claim that some of the legends in the text are
based on true stories that were suppressed by the official Christian
Church but transmitted by persecuted Christian minorities.  This is,
though, by no means a mainstream theory.

You can see online the translation of an excerpt from the text at

Gil Student


End of Volume 41 Issue 7