Volume 42 Number 73
                 Produced: Wed May 19 13:19:20 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avoda Zara
         [Stan Tenen]
Guidelines for Charity--AHAVATH CHESED
         [Russell J Hendel]
Guidelines for Tzedaka (3)
         [Chaim Tatel, Eli Delman, Gil Student]
Hinduism and Avoda Zara (2)
         [Meylekh Viswanath, I. Balbin]
mini-peppers, Kashrus problem?
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
R. Chaim Brisker & labor unions/strikes?
         [Sarah Elizabeth Beck]
Vocalization of Mordechai
         [Meir Possenheimer]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 09:17:00 -0400
Subject: Avoda Zara

The discussion of the possibility that Hinduism is Avoda Zara, and thus
there may be a problem with Sheitle, is fascinating.

I was wondering if there was any traditional commentary along these lines:

There are two issues.

1) What an individual person does, and what another individual person
sees the first person doing.

2) What the majority does, and what an individual person sees the
majority doing.

It's no surprise that there are different levels of understanding,
piety, and perspective among different people who practice the same

There are always people who take the most simple and straightforward
view, keep the "mitzvot" of their faith, and understand things in an
obvious way without thinking very deeply.  Superficially, when various
idols and images and "godlets" are involved, this certainly appears to
be -- and probably is -- avoda zara.  But what this means to the
individual is hard to say.  Certainly, some people will see various
images and idols as real embodiments -- in what we might call a
"magical" or superstitious sense -- of an actual "god" with actual power
that can be prayed to.  But other people of the same faith may not see
it this way at all.

Others have mentioned that externally, the 10 spherot of the Kabbalistic
Tree of Life appear to be different "powers", and think that we think
that we are different individual "gods".  Probably, very few Jews think
this way, even the uneducated -- but I'll bet there are some who do,
else how do we explain the current popularity of all kinds of
Kabbalistic meditations and incantations among so many people these
days?  Having spoken with a large number of people interested in these
subjects -- many Jewish -- I have learned that there are people who
understand the spherot as different "powers" that need to be approached
in different ways.  Is this avoda zara as they practice it, even though
clearly it's not the intention of the Kabbalistic system?

So, the question is, do we distinguish between different practitioners
of a faith where the majority may see things in an oversimplified way,
and may actually be worshipping one of many "gods" in various images,
from the more sophisticated view (generally of a minority) that sees
these different images as hardly more than reminders of what we might
call "different spherot"?

Is it the individual, or the majority, that counts?  And if the majority
appears to be practicing avoda zara, does this swamp the more
sophisticated (non-avoda zara) understanding of some practitioners?

And just to make things balanced, I have to ask -- does the fact that a
few Jews appear to view the spherot as separate "powers" imply that
other Jews are practicing avoda zara?

Be well.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 22:35:28 -0400
Subject: RE: Guidelines for Charity--AHAVATH CHESED

In volume 42 Number 71 <RAZLEENERS@...> asks for guidelines for
Charity in English.

I know of no better book then AHAVATH CHESED (literally, THE LOVE OF
LOVINGKINDNESS) by The Chafetz Chaiim.

This book has the Chafetz Chaiim's typical style--a delicate blend of
factual halachah, inspiring ethics(moosar), punchy parables that turn
you on, and discussion of psychology.

I would recommend everyone read this book no matter how little or much
you know.

Just to illustrate what you could learn from this book: Whenever I turn
in my rent I mention a psak (legal decision) found in this book that the
Biblical obligation of DONT WITHOLD WAGES FROM A WORKER applies to
Landlords (who traditionally are not thought of as workers)--therefore
rent must (Biblically) be turned in on time (The issue is not one of
theft...if you turn in your rent past the due date you have violated a
Biblical law which DOES apply to non-jews).

Many other delicious tidbits are in this book..  and it is cheap.

Russell Jay Hendel;http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 06:30:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Guidelines for Tzedaka

>Is anyone aware of work done (in English) on the parameters of Hilchot
>Tzedakh, including, but not limted to, the amount one must give and how
>such an amount is to be calculated?

Yes, Artscroll has a sefer on this subject:
The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser, A Comprehensive Guide, By Rabbi Shimon Taub   
List Price: $20.99
Catalog #: LOTH
ISBN: 1-57819-589-6

See: http://www.artscroll.com/Books/loth.html


From: Eli Delman <eli.delman@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 12:57:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Guidelines for Tzedaka

How about these?

"The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser" by Rabbi Shimon Taub (Artscroll)

"Maaser Kesafim: Giving a Tenth to Charity" by Professor Cyril Domb


From: Gil Student <gil@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 13:36:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Guidelines for Tzedaka

Try this pamhplet 

and the other material on that website.

Gil Student


From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 12:07:31 -0400
Subject: Hinduism and Avoda Zara

>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>on 16/5/04 2:49 pm, Mike Gerver at  <MJGerver@...> wrote:
> > Certainly many Western-educated Hindus would, if asked, vehemently deny
> > that Hinduism is polytheistic, or involves worshiping idols. ...
>I think the more sophisticated Greco-Roman pagan intellectual would have
>said much the same yet we still treat their temples as being dedicated
>to avodah zarah. The reason is that the less sophisticated worshippers
>did indeed consider the statues as somehow being 'inhabited' by the god
>represented and the former were prepared to go along with 'popular
>religion' for the sake of social cohesion.

Mike Gerver correctly points out in v. 42, no. 69, that the issue that
needs to be addressed first and foremost is whether Hinduism is Avoda
Zara.  I don't think he was taking a position either way on this issue,
but Martin Stern's reply to him by quoting one part of Mike's posting
and adding his speculation regarding Greco-Roman pagan intellectuals
seems to assert that we shouldn't go along with what sophisticated
apologists for Hinduism are willing to say, but with what the actual
worshippers thought.

I don't think Martin's comparison is appropriate.  This is because there
is a long and ancient theological and philosophical literature in
Hinduism that supports the notion of a non-polytheistic Hinduism.  I
don't believe that there is any evidence that this literature was a
response to Judaism or to Christianity.  On the other hand, I don't
think it is possible to support the idea of a non-polytheistic
Greco-Roman religion.

Meylekh Viswanath

From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 09:22:14 +1000
Subject: Re: Hinduism and Avoda Zara

> From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
> Since the mind can only comprehend and derive inspiration in a
> language that it can understand and interpret, a God of attributes in
> the form of various manifestations has became the object of devotion
> and personal worship (paraphrase of description from
> http://www.indianest.com/hinduism/050.htm).  However, most thinking
> Hindus accept that the God of attributes is only something that can
> help to ultimately attain the attributeless God.  I doubt, further,
> that any Hindus believe that a representation of stone or wood is
> actually God.

I'm not sure I agree with Meylekh here. Even if we accept the notion
that the getchkes (idols) are some representation of attributes and
ultimately they only believe in one Supreme Being

(eg as argued in http://www.sivanandadlshq.org/discourse/may2002.htm )

problem is that these getchkes are PHYSICAL manifestations of such
and are therefore prohibited.

(eg see See

http://www.biol.tsukuba.ac.jp/~macer/EJ115/ej115j.htm )

According to Halocho, I can't even daven in front of a picture of a
Rebbe even when I have no intention of davening TO that Rebbe, and I
really only believe in one Gd etc.

I had a Hindu colleague who told me that he used a physical
manifestation to focus his prayers, whatever "focus" means. So that, if
we was in need of X, and X was the domain of sub-getchke Y, then he'd
use that sub-getchke.  This sits very uncomfortably with me. I mean, we
have the notion of Tzadik Gozer and Hakadosh Boruch Hu Mekayem [the
Tzadik "decrees" and Gd fulfills] , but focussing on a PHYSICAL visage
of a Tzadik or indeed any physical manifestation is not on, how much
more so, a religion which apparently accepts physical "secondary" gods.


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 09:53:52 +0200
Subject: Re: mini-peppers, Kashrus problem?

cp/rp wrote:

> I bought a bunhc of small peppers, variuos colors.  I just bit into
> one wich was whole, complete, no holes.  For some reason I looked at
> the pepper before chewing.  In the part still in my hand, the pepper
> had a big bug in it.  I re-checked the outside of the pepper. There
> were no holes or slits anywhere, not even by the stem.  Anyone else
> have this situation?  Are we supposed to cut and inspect mini-peppers?

I asked my resident expert on checking, and she told me that it is a
known problem with peppers (all sorts) that bugs get in by burrowing
either under the leaves/stem or even *thriugh* the stem.  The rule is
that peppers must have their tops cut off, and the inside inspected
before eating.  To use the area actually connected to the stem/leaves
requires very careful checking, after removing the stem/leaves
themselves, as this area is especially prone to infestation.

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Sarah Elizabeth Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 17:39:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: R. Chaim Brisker & labor unions/strikes?

Does anyone have a good/early/contemporary source for the story in which
R. Chaim Soloveitchik, zts"l, got involved with a strike of the local
(bakers'?) union?

Perh. it is R. Chaim Volozhiner and I am confused. The question stands.

Thank you,
--Sarah Beck


From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 18:08:19 +0100
Subject: Re: Vocalization of Mordechai

> >> <R. Mordechai Breuer discusses this in appendices to his editions of
> >> Tanach. It simply indicates that the schwa is not silent, and is to be
> >> pronounced as the reader would pronounce a schwa (na`).>
> >
> >        Why should such an indication be necessary?  It is the second of
> > consecutive sh'va'im, which is automatically a sh'va na.
> I believe the MSS predate the Medakdekim who formulated those rules.

I would be very interested to know how else one would have pronounced a
second sh'va in the middle of a word other than by a sh'va na, with or
without the "rules of the medakdekim", and, anyway, the dalet of
Mordochai has a dagesh which of itself requires the sh'va na.


End of Volume 42 Issue 73