Volume 43 Number 58
                    Produced: Thu Jul 22  6:00:43 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>]
         [Martin Stern]
Belief and disbelief of 'maases'
         [Leah Perl Shollar]
Hannah Rachel Werbermacher
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Partial Pesukim
         [Nathan Lamm]
please don't bash 'feminism'
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Some Broader issues in "sex" education
         [Nathan Lamm]
Teaching about Pinchas (2)
         [Joseph Bachman, Michael Rogovin]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 05:59:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

I am glad that the overall discussions on the list have increased
recently, but I am concerned that the level of "heat" vs content has
decreased on a number of topics. I think that Ira has made his point
that he views any form of "Jewish Feminism" as unacceptable, I'm sure
there are others who may agree with him, as well as I suspect a larger
number who do not agree. I do not think there is any more value in
argueing whether the celebration of Hannah Rachel Werbermacher was
driven by Jewish Feminism or not. As with many things, there will be
those opposed to it, as well as clearly many who were very moved by
it. I will not post any more submissions on that topic past what is in
this issue, unless I see some specific content value. There are a few
other topics recently that are also trying to push my editorial limits,
and I will probably be sending back a number of submissions to people.

Two other quick points. If you include the entire previous issue when
you send in a reply, your submission will get sidelined until I have the
time to edit your email message to trim it away. Another point is that I
would strongly request that you include a Subject line in your
posting. I try and keep an eye out for that, but there is a bug/feature
in the scripts I use that will basically drop your submission when
generating the issue if there is no Subject line. If your Subject line
is just Re: mail-jewish vXXnYY, there is no problem of being
dropped. However, if you can include what the previous subject was or
what you want it to be, even if it is in the body, not the Subject line,
that will make my work easier.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish moderator


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 12:31:04 +0100
Subject: Re: Aufruf

on 20/7/04 12:14 pm, Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote:

> I don't know if Shiloh is the exception (it is exceptional is many ways)
> but here many Ashkenazi families, who are strict on other Ashkenaz
> customs, are following the Sephardi custom.  Shabbat Sheva brachot is
> the one celebrated, not the previous Shabbat.  One very makpid yekke
> said that the halacha is more consistent with the Sephardi customs.

I have been told that this was originally also the custom among German
Jews, in which they differed from those Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe.

Martin Stern


From: Leah Perl Shollar <leahperl@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004 09:54:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Belief and disbelief of 'maases'

> From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
> > Interestingly, there is a Hassidic saying that goes something like
> > this - 'someone who believes all the stories about the BESHT (founder of
> > Hassidism) is a fool ; however, someone who says that such stories are
> > impossible, is an apikorus (heretic of sorts)'. Implicit in it is an
> > admission by Hassidim that at least some of the stories about the
> > founder of their movement are untrue, even if such stories are not told
> > about everyone, as people, especially partisans, cannot always be
> > trusted to be sticklers for accuracy.
> >  Mordechai
> I think this was originally a statement concerning aggadic material in
> the gemora.

I believe I heard this in context of taking medrashim literally.

Leah Perl Shollar


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 08:05:51 +0300
Subject: Re: Hannah Rachel Werbermacher

Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...> stated the following on Mon, 19
Jul 2004 13:28:10 +0200

            I keep on having this feeling that most of the people
            involved in this project are doing so because of a political
            message that they wish to express.  This is clearly a Jewish
            feminist phenomenon, regardless of whether one identifies
            with it or not.

      I do not believe that one may or should generalize concerning any
      possible underlying motives of people wishing to reclaim the
      heritage of a tzaddeket, who was also an extremely learned woman
      in Torah in relation to her times.

One need not make a great effort to observe the common political
orientation of the overwhelming proportion of those who commemorate the
yahrzeit of a Jewish women scholar and refrain from commemorating the
yahrzeits of equally learned male scholars.

      I wonder if anyone would question the movement to reclaim and
      restore the tombstones of hasidic admorim in Europe that we are
      presently witnessing.

I question whether any of those who commemorate Hannah Rachel
Werbermacher are also involved in the movement to reclaim and restore
the tombstones of hasidic admorim.

      Obviously, people chose to participate in the commemoration for
      differing reasons, and there was a wide spectrum of people. And
      incidently, there were quite a few men as well who attended.

No one has ever claimed that there are no men who have a feminist
political agenda.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 06:34:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Partial Pesukim

Re: William Friedman's response.

Trust me, I know the rest of pasuk- it's my Bar Mitzvah parsha. I didn't
mean to say that if Hashem wants, we don't need to eat (although that
might be possible). What I meant to say was that in English idiom, "Man
does not live on bread alone" implies that man needs *more* than just
bread- that is, bread, either literally as the "staff of life" or
metaphorically as the bare essentials of life- needs to be accompanied
by other foods in the first case, or other pleasures in the second.

Whether or not the sentiment is true, the pasuk here clearly does not
imply it, based on context. The mention of the manna indicates that a
better translation would be "Bread does not have to be the only thing
man subsists on [is not the only staff of life]"- that is, while we need
physical sustenance to live, it need not be bread (in those pre-Atkins
days, needing bread was accepted as fact), but can be anything God
wants, such as manna. Of course, we can apply a more spiritual lesson to
this verse as well, but this is the p'shat.

Nachum Lamm


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 07:15:01 -0700
Subject: please don't bash 'feminism'

>of her history or because she was a female and feminist issues can be
>ipso facto "pasul"?

I ignored the previous bits of this thread, because previous posters
were not making a value judgement on 'feminism' per se, but rather
trying to determine if a certain commemoration was feminist.

But I think that this statement goes too far.  Certainly, there is
little reason to say "feminist issues can be ipso facto 'pasul'," and I
would beg Mr. Medad to remember that there are many feminists on this
list, in fact, who are offended by such statements.

I hope that we have collectively moved beyond knee-jerk reactions to
those (men and women) who oppose chauvinism.  And please do not tell me
that some things are or are not chauvinism--the point is that there is a
large range of religious Jewish feminist views that are 'acceptable' on

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 06:44:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Some Broader issues in "sex" education

Matthew Pearlman wonders about explaining Zimri's "marrying" Cozbi in
light of intermarried relations.

Of course, one could have this problem even if what Zimri and Cozbi did
was described accurately. And the answer applies to either case: Explain
that Zimri was particularly brazen, acted in the middle of a plague, and
in such a way that he deserved punishment. Most if not all of the Jews
who marry and/or sleep with non-Jews today don't even come close to
approaching that level, and are to be treated with all due respect.

Nachum Lamm


From: Joseph Bachman <jbachman@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 07:52:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Teaching about Pinchas

>Does anyone have any good solutions to offer here?  I suppose one end of
>the spectrum would be not to teach the story at all in case you get into
>this kind of discussion, but that does not sound very appealing.

Why not just tell the kids that Pinchas and Cozbi were worshipping idols?

>(I also wondered how the non-orthodox read the story if they say it is
>permitted to marry non-Jews.)

For one thing, most of the religious non-orthodox will say that
intermarriage is _not- permitted.  (Offciating at an intermarriage is
one of the few things that will get a Conservative rabbi kicked out of
the Rabbinical Assembly).

As to how the non-orthodox read the story, that's easy enough to find
out, one can simply check out the non-orthodox Chumash commentaries,
Plaut for Reform, and Etz Chayyim for the Conservatives.  In general,
they emphasize the tradational rabbinical commentaries that are
uncomfortable with what Pinchas did.  They also focus on the totality of
the sin a Ba'al Pe'or, which is, after all, primarily one of idolatry,
not sex.

One item I remember is the opinion that God gave Pinchas a "Brit
Shalom," (Covenant of Peace) not necessarily as a reward, but because
Pinchas needed it to counteract his hotheaded zealotry.

From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 09:48:52 -0500
Subject: Teaching about Pinchas

Matthew Pearlman wrote about how his 5 year old daughter was taught the
story of Pinchas killing Zimri for marrying out and what midot this
teaches, particularly when many of us have family who marry out.  His
post resonated with me on many levels.

I too wonder how to deal with this issue--stressing the importance of
marryinging in while not fostering hatred toward non-Jews and especially
not thinking, let alone speaking, ill of close family members. It is one
thing for teens, it is quite another for pre-school and primary school
age children.

I also wonder about other things taught in pre-school and if the
teachers have any idea about what midot they are actually teaching. The
following examples are just some the things my children were taught in
nursery and kindergarten:

-Hitler and the Shoah
-a Hagada comic book with a scud landing in a play yard in Israel with
the pasuk about God protecting us in every generation (gee, that
reassures me)
-After a lesson on the importance of always speaking emet and never
sheker, the story of Abraham and the smashing of the idols (taught as
parsha, not midrash btw). My 5 year old asked me: why did Abraham lie to
his father? Its ok?
-The deception of Isaac by Rivkah and Yaakov--message conveyed: it is ok
to deceive one's father if what he is doing is unfair and it is to your
benefit (remember these are preschoolers and cannot reason like adults
and make nuanced distinctions)
-The plagues: God punished the Egyptians for their sins with disease,
lice, hail, grasshoppers...(this after the school had a lice outbreak and
an icy winter. Perhaps we are being punished too? Daddy, I am a first

Why we think it is necessary to frighten very young children with
stories they cannot possibly interpret (or understand as distant past,
separate from the present), mix up midrash with Torah, teach stories
that praise questionable behavior--I just don't get it. Teach a 5 year
old the story of PINCHAS????

When I asked about the Shoah, the Nursery school director said that
pedagogically, it was absolutely inappropriate, but the community (ie
the parents) demanded it and this was her parnasa.  The fact that I too
was a parent in the community did not impress her apparently. When I
asked about the midot of the avot, I got a bewildered response. Well
that was different. Rivka had nivuah. Oh. Yeah. My 5 year old (as bright
as she is) can make that distinction. Sure. Especially when we are
teaching them to emulate the avot and imahot.

My response to my child, that the avot were great people, but they were
people and they made mistakes (Jacob's deception led to his being
deceived later) brought protests from others (how could I denigrate the
greatness of the avot to a 5 year old???). As for Abraham's story to his
father, I said a lie is an attempt to deceive and since he was not
trying to fool his father (he knew that his father cou ld not and would
not believe him), he was not lying. I reassured my child that the lice,
hail and other makot were not the same as the lice she had, she was not
being punished by God and she was safe from terrorists and others.

Let the early years be for teaching the joys of Judaism and Torah, not
the bloody aspects of it. Some things should be kept for later grades.

Michael Rogovin


End of Volume 43 Issue 58