Volume 41 Number 66
                 Produced: Wed Dec 31  6:03:31 US/Eastern 2003


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The 101st explanation of Why 7 vs 8 days Chanukah (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Freda B Birnbaum]
Avraham's Unmentioned Test (3)
         [Gershon Dubin, Shalom Ozarowski, Stan Tenen]
Chronic Pain - Torah perspective
         [<Shalvanathan@...>]
Double Names
         [Perets Mett]
Left at the Church?
         [Bill Bernstein]
Original Sin
         [Shalom Ozarowski]
Pikuach Nefesh
         [Michael Feldstein]
Shabbat Elevators
         [Chana Luntz]
Speaking In Third Person as a sign of respect
         [Tal Benschar]
Test of Faith
         [Ira Bauman]


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From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 09:07:20 -0500
Subject: The 101st explanation of Why 7 vs 8 days Chanukah

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
<< I would like to suggest the 101st explanation of why-7-not 8.  Quite
simply I suggest that the primary focus of Chanukah is not on
celebration of ANY miracle...the primary focus of Chanukah is on our
reattaining our autonomy.(True--there was a miracle and true it was a
component in forming the holiday...  but it is not the primary focus).>>

Well put, but it's one of the 100 <g>.

Gershon
<gershon.dubin@...>

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From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 08:03:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The 101st explanation of Why 7 vs 8 days Chanukah

Russell Hendel makes the point
> ....what we celebrate on Chanukah is not some isolated miracle of oil.
> We rather celebrate our right to be Jewish--to learn, to practice, to
> preserve our modesty etc I reiterate...the holiday would have been
> enacted even if no miracle of oil happened.

The rabbi of one of my local shuls commented last year that there are 2
kinds of miracles: the kind you need to fish you out of difficulties and
the kind that are to cheer you up, to give you a chizuk.  (I'm
paraphrasing of course.)  This fits nicely with Russell's comment.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

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From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 12:56:06 -0500
Subject: Avraham's Unmentioned Test

From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
<<Maybe a component of this test was judgment; not just God judging
Avraham's faith, but Avraham judging his inner voice.>>

Avraham Avinu was a navi, a prophet.  Prophecy is not an inner voice, it
is clearly identified as coming from Hashem.  And this was not his first
nevuah; he knew quite well what he was hearing.

Gershon
<gershon.dubin@...>

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From: <Shalomoz@...> (Shalom Ozarowski)
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 19:54:16 EST
Subject: Re: Avraham's Unmentioned Test

> Did Avraham doubt his sanity at hearing a voice that told him to kill
> his beloved son?

This is an interesting suggestion.  But we should keep in mind that just
because hearing voices in our times is a sign of schizophrenia, sure
doesn't mean that it was then.  If Avraham Avinu was a navi (to put it
mildly), he probably was acutely aware that G-d Himself was commanding
him to offer up his son.  The Rambam (I think it's in Yesodei HaTorah
ch.7) says that when a navi emet has a vision, he can be sure it is from
G-d (because if he were a navi sheker, by definition he would be making
it up).  [I'm not sure if this assumption explains the text at the
beginning of Sefer Shmuel, where a very young Shmuel HaNavi hears voices
in the Mishkan and does not know what they are.]

> Put yourself in Avraham's sandals. An old man hears a voice telling
> him to repudiate all his anti-idolatry teachings, and to commit what
> was common in those days -- human sacrifice. Is it the Voice of the
> One True God, or is it the voice of the Satan, the Adversary?

I like the dramatic imagery, but he was probably not so old when he
first "repudiated all his anti-idolatry teachings."  By the time G-d
commanded Avraham to offer his son at the akeida (when he was 'old'),
Avraham Avinu had heard G-d speak to him many times throughout his life
and had a very 'close relationship' with Hakadosh Baruch Hu.  I'm sure
he knew Who it was.

Then again, might there be midrashic/aggadic sources to the contrary?

Kol Tuv
Shalom Ozarowski

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From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 07:47:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Avraham's Unmentioned Test

I'd never thought of this perspective, because it never occurred to me
that hearing God's voice was to be taken in a simple, literal way. Are
there any commentaries on this? Clearly, a person at a high level
usually does have a way to tell the difference. What is this way?

Best,
Stan

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From: <Shalvanathan@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 16:46:10 -0500
Subject: Chronic Pain - Torah perspective

Is there any discussion about the Jewish perspective on how to deal with
chronic pain? It could be a book, lecture, article, etc. Lisa Aiken
touches on it in her book "Why Me God", but it's really about cancer
patients.

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From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 18:02:33 +0000
Subject: Double Names

Isaac Balbin wrote:
> On this issue, there is the question of whether there are indeed two
> separate second names in Aryeh Leib and Yehuda Leib or is it Aryeh Loeb
> and Yehuda Leib where the Loeb was (mis)pronounced as Leib by Litvaks
> and Russians.

I am unable to follow this argument. What does "mispronounced" mean?
Loeb is a German word, and Litvaks, Russian & Polish Jews did not speak
German. They spoke Yiddish, a related - but distinct language. Leyb is
the Yiddish word for lion.

At some point in Jewish history, Jews in Eastern Europe whose Hebrew
name (Sheim Kodesh) was Yehudo began to adopt Leyb as a vernacular name
(Sheim Choil).  At a later stage, Leyb was translated back to Hebrew and
a completely new name was created - Aryeh.  The Yiddish Leyb applies
equally to Yehudo as to Aryei.  There is no distinction between the two
uses of Leyb - it is a kinnui for either Yehudo or for Aryei (and
certainly for the genuine double name Yehudo Aryei)

Perets Mett

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From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 08:48:16 -0600
Subject: Left at the Church?

I have heard several times a halakha (minhag?) that one should not give
directions using a church as a landmark.  I have never seen a source for
it or an explanation.  Any help?

Kol tuv,
Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN (A church on every corner)

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From: <Shalomoz@...> (Shalom Ozarowski)
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 19:24:06 EST
Subject: Re: Original Sin

> This is getting very close to- if not well into- Christian, not Jewish,
> theology. It is, in fact, one of the more important and significant
> aspects of the differences between the two, which are far greater than
> the simplistic "Did the Messiah come or not" question. I have no doubt
> there are kabbalistic statements of this nature; it seems to fit an
> overall view of nitzotzot and the like. However, it illustrates very
> well why kabbalistic sources are to be treated very carefully, if not
> ignored entirely by most or even all.

The Ramchal, in at least one of his works (the anti-Sabbatian work Kinat
Hashem Tz'vakot), says something very similar regarding the sin of Adam
Harishon that sounds like the Catholic concept of original sin (though i
dont claim to be an expert on the specifics of its theology).  I'm sure,
as the above posting notes, that there are other examples.

However, why should we turn a blind eye toward those statements within
our tradition simply because they sound to us like the beliefs of a
different religion?  If the Ramchal indeed believed something similar,
does that not make it a "Jewish" belief?  Should we assume we
misunderstood those thinkers, or that certain beliefs of ours cannot
possibly overlap with those of Christianity?  Why should we insist on
"Judaism" differing on this point?  While the Rambam's set of ikarim,
for example, have come to be popularly accepted by the Torah-observant
Jewish community (I know this is a generalization), many variations
exist even within the thought of our greatest Rishonim and Acharonim.

Just to expand a bit further, I am curious if any m-j readers are
knowledgeable regarding the different strands of Buddhism (at least the
non-idolatrous ones, which i think excludes Mahayana but would include
Zen, e.g.).  Would a set of principles such as those 'conflict' with
Torah belief/lifestyle or could it be useful to Jews in some way?  How
about practicing meditation?  IIRC, Zen writings claim that their
practices are 'compatible' with and enhance any other religion or belief
system.

Kol Tuv
Shalom Ozarowski

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From: <MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein)
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 08:30:14 EST
Subject: Pikuach Nefesh

> It's amazing to me that many are trained to make critical decisions in
> other fields (for example as an EMT) but lack the training to make
> critical decisions (slowly or quickly) regarding their behavior as Torah
> observant Jews.
> Carl Singer

It's important to separate out any pikuach nefesh situations (for
instance, your example of someone calling 9-1-1 on Shabbos when a person
collapses), where there is clear and unequivocal halachic precedent to
act in all cases, and other situations, in which the situation is not
life threatening, but an immediate decision needs to be made.  It's the
latter case that offers the much bigger challenge, at least in my
opinion.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT

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From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 21:39:42 +0000
Subject: Shabbat Elevators

Further to my earlier post on this matter, we have had some leads,
including to somebody in London who has a lift (elevator), and what they
have had done is apparently their lift is (can be put) on a time switch,
and what they do is - when the non Jewish carer of the gentleman in
question is not going to be around (which is not very often these days,
apparently) run it every half an hour or so around the times he might
want to go to bed and/or get up.

We had not thought of this time switch option, although we gather it is
simpler to fit than a gramma switch, which is what we were thinking was
probably being used in such cases (we know of people who have had a
gramma switch fitted to an electric wheelchair, although I don't at this
stage understand the technology).  My husband wants to know though
whether a time switch is better halachically than a gramma switch,
because a gramma switch would probably be more convenient (although we
gather more expensive), if they are equally good halachically, and it
turns out we have the option.

Anybody got an idea,. on a theoretical level of the relative merits of
gramma switches versus time switches in such cases?  My husband is
concerned that if we are putting the lift on time switch regularly, and
running it a lot on empty, we will really run it into the ground very
quickly, and these things are not cheap (and we have to pay our of our
own pocket, as the means testing for the social services to provide such
things is quite stringent).  So even though we have been told that a
time switch might cost us 200 and a gramma switch 1000, in a
5000-10,000 lift, it might be worth it over time if we can save on
wear and tear.

  But I really don't have an idea on how b'dieved a gramma switch is,
compared to a time switch (if at all).  (And what, if any, other
considerations need to be taken into account - my husband says he thinks
that the weight considerations I have heard about probably only apply in
apartment block type elevators, because he thinks that the kind of
things that run in private homes are so simple that he can't see what
compensating they would be doing vis a vis weight.  I am less sure, I
agree that going down, the ones he is familiar with, just run on
dampers, and can actually work with the electricity completely turned
off, but I am not sure what it does when it actually lifts).

Regards

Chana

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From: Tal Benschar <tbenschar@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 09:52:58 -0500
Subject: Speaking In Third Person as a sign of respect

Other posters have pointed out that other languages (German, French)
have two forms of address, one conveying more respect, the other more
familiar.  Yiddish has the same two forms, du and er, similar to the
German.  English originally also had this (thou and thee were informal,
you formal), but the informal fell out of use. 

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From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 14:56:00 EST
Subject: Re: Test of Faith

<< WRT the discussion about the akeda, R Yeshaya Lebowitz had a unique
 perspective.  He argued that the trial of the akeda was a response to
 avraham's failing in the discussion about sdom - opposing the
 destruction of sdom may show moral grandeur, but in this particular
 case it was partially problematic because it assumed that hashem
 (rather than merely some superior being) was subject to our
 understanding of morality - and this limitation of hashem is
 problematic.  The akeda, then, is a precise response - that avraham was
 willing to follow hashem even beyond his understanding >>

This explanation presents a problem.  We follow a code of morality based
on our understanding of His attributes.  But, in order to do that, we
have to know that G-d's own vision of morality is immutable and
predictable.  If they aren't, we have no moral anchor and anything goes.
Avraham learned from Hashem's lessons and adopted a rejection of
idolatrous practices and an absolute value of human life.  According to
R. Leibowitz, Avraham now has to understand that G-d's values for us are
a moving target and can change at His whim.  How would we, in the
present day, cope with this idea?

Ira Bauman 

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End of Volume 41 Issue 66