Volume 43 Number 76
                    Produced: Sun Aug  1 16:15:37 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Doug Moran]
Discounted Price and Ribis/Interest
         [Harlan Braude]
         [Harlan Braude]
Hats (formerly the Streimel discussion)
         [Stan Tenen]
Sanhedrin under political control?
         [Nathan Lamm]
The Scriptural Basis for Frum Garments
         [Jay F Shachter]
Sleeve Length
         [Gershon Dubin]


From: Doug Moran <dougom@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 10:37:23 -0500
Subject: Clothes

At Mon, 26 Jul 2004 07:55:00 -0400, Carl Singer <casinger@...> wrote:

>It's a pretty sick society that judges people by their dress style -- or
>more charitably, that pays so much attention to style and makes so many
>assumptions based on nuances such as Yarmulkes with or without rims.
>(We aren't talking about issues of snius.)

Without commenting on the correctness of the "frum uniform" (as Carl
refers to it), I have been sitting here thinking about this for a while,
and so far as I my brain can dredge up details of different societies,
there isn't a one where people aren't judged to a lesser or greater
degree by their dress.  In Europe, for example, a lot of attention is
paid to shoes; Americans are frequently identified by their shoes.  A
slave in ancient Greece caught in the dress of a citizen (and thereby
impersonating one) was punished.  People in the middle ages were quickly
identified by their dress.  The French court of the Sun King brought the
judgement of someone based on their dress to an art form (ah; he's
wearing last season's wig!).  Teenagers all over the country are harshly
judged if they are wearing the wrong style.  Jews in "golden age" dar al
Islam were forced to wear particular clothes.  In the computer industry,
you are considered odd if you wear a suit but work as a programmer
(T-shirts and jeans are expected).  Indeed, in interviewing for a job as
a technical writer, I was once *made fun of* for wearing a tie; not a
suit, a *tie*.  The examples go on and on.

I suppose one could argue that all those societies were sick, but I
personally don't find that a tenable position.

So two points to note here: every "society" that I know of has some form
of dress code, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Secondly, while one
can discuss the reasonableness of "standard frum attire" (which is a
reasonable thing to discuss, in my opinion, not that anyone asked me!),
I would argue that the frum community is no more nor less judgmental
about clothing than a lot of other societies, past and present.

Full disclosure: I do not wear "typical frum" clothes.  (I'm wearing a
kippah with no rim, however, in case anyone cares!)



From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 08:49:55 -0400
Subject: RE: Discounted Price and Ribis/Interest

> This would apply to two-tier pricing at gas stations as well, if the
> station is owned by a Jews, since the higher credit price is the fee
> for extending the loan (credit).

Well, it may not be so simple. 

Merchants who accept credit-cards pay a fee per transaction to the
credit card company (or a "clearing house") for the services provided by
the credit card company (the services are providing the customer with a
convenient form of payment, assuming the burden of collection and
generation of activity reports, etc.)

The gas station isn't lending any money to the customer. The loan is
between the customer and the credit card company.

What the gas station is doing is passing on the cost of the transaction
to the customer. Another gas station might, instead, roll this cost into
the price of gas and/or the repair services it offers.

In offering a lower price for cash, the merchant doesn't pay a fee and,
therefore, has none to pass on to the customer.

That doesn't sound like ribis to me.

Harlan Braude


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 09:40:00 -0400
Subject: RE: Dress

> It's a pretty sick society that judges people by their dress 
> style -- or more charitably, that pays so much attention to 
> style and makes so many assumptions based on nuances such as 
> Yarmulkes with or without rims. (We aren't talking about 

I think Carl is describing an ideal society, rather than the one we live
in. I agree that we'd benefit from a more objective way of viewing one
other. However, we may not quite be on that level (yet).

> There is little logic to frum dress codes and origins -- of 
> is) from others and clothing that tries to let us fit into 
> society, or of clothing that tries to proclaim which "team"
> we play for.

There is a logic to it, though the issue may be more emotional than

People wear the jersey of their favorite sports player or team or wear
Armani suits or baseball caps on backwards, etc. because the people they
admire or who capture their imaginations wear them. As a young kid, who
hasn't tried on Daddy's shoes or jacket?

The sense of identification with role models or a class is very strong
in American/Jewish society (all "melting-pot speak" notwithstanding).

Clearly, if one were offered a choice between people behaving as their
much-admired Rosh Yeshiva or merely dressing like him, one would likely
choose the former.

But, I can even see the advantage of at least *wanting* to be like him,
even when one isn't quite there yet. Dressing the part is as easy as
Carl's Purim Shpeil. But, when I find other like-minded people who dress
themselves this way for the same reason, it's only natural that I'd
gravitate toward them. I'd want my family exposed to them, to soak up
the positive influences from that association.

> -- In the Army we used shoulder > patches to identify what unit we
were with, but at least we > were all in the same army.

Pardon the digression from the main topic, but the analogy isn't quite
so clear cut (and it's amusing).

If one views the US armed forces as a whole, one sees a bit less 'unity'
(e.g., after WWII (before the Korean War), the friction between Army and
Marines was pretty intense (competing for the same budget money, etc.),
extending all the way up to the Joints Chiefs of Staff. Navy and Air
Force had similar skirmishes). Same Army? More like a shark feeding
frenzy.  (see Bradley's "A General's Story").



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 10:26:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Hats (formerly the Streimel discussion)

In the ancient world, writing was cumbersome.  Sometimes you had to
chisel cuneiform, and other times you needed expensive parchment or
papyrus.  And besides, only the upper classes had the opportunity to
learn to read well beyond a "street sign" level.

When large amounts of important information needed to be recorded -- and
carried -- blocks of cuneiform and written materials were generally
inconvenient.  So, the information, both written and patterned, would
likely be woven into garments that a person would naturally wear.

The idea that a "magician might have something up his sleeve" might be a
remnant of a knowledgeable person having something important written or
patterned on their sleeve.

My work has led to an understanding of the woven and striped or banded
nature of the letter-text of B'reshit.  (Graphic of "B'reshit Tallis"
available at <http://www.meru.org/Posters/B'reshit7-ColorTorus.html> .)
And I've suggested -- though the reasons are too lengthy to fit here --
that this may be information that was patterned on the Ketonot Passim
that Jacob gave Joseph.  (Ketonot Passim = striped or banded tunic)
Thus, whether or not the Ketonot Passim carried the woven pattern that
was later to be B'reshit, Joseph certainly did carry it to Egypt, and
thus, whether the Egyptians had something similar or not, it would be
found in Egypt.

We're told that to build the Tabernacle, we have to embroider, brocade,
and weave.  But this may not apply only to the draperies and tapestries
that form the walls of the Tabernacle.  It was likely a common practice.

What separates Judaism from other faiths, and in particular from
idolatrous practices, is not the science or technology that's employed.
All peoples ultimately share the same basic technologies.  The Egyptians
grew and wove cotton and were famous for it.  Weaving is a
near-universal ancient technology -- and so is garment-making,
tunic-making, cloak-making, etc.

What distinguishes Judaism is not the technology employed, or the
similarity of forms, but rather, their meaning, and our understanding of
what they represent, and how we use them.

And finally, with regard to the tallis per se.  It is intended to
envelop us.  When we hold together the four corners (with tzitzis) and
surround ourselves within it, we are literally engulfed in a 2-torus
(doughnut, inner tube-shape) which mathematicians understand as
representing a hyperdimensional sphere.  I doubt that the word
"hyperdimensional" occurs in Torah or any ancient vocabulary, but I
think it's reasonable that the idea that the transcendent sphere was
somehow a higher order of our 3-D material world-sphere, was probably
appreciated.  So, it's natural for us to step into a higher space in
order to experience a higher space.  Tallis memorializes this memory.
But it's not tallis per se.  Rather, it's how we wear, and how we use
the tallis.  If the bands on our tallis reflect the patterns of creation
in B'reshit, then we step into this pattern when we wear it and pray.

Egyptians, using a similarly-shaped shawl, would not be likely to be
using it in the same way, because their prayers and beliefs were focused

This is also comparable to the "cargo cult" phenomenon, where after the
Second World War, some Pacific islanders made wooden and straw effigies
of the airplanes that miraculously brought them supplies (and troubles)
during the war.  They took the form, but it was empty.  Copying is a
natural phenomenon -- but only rarely is the copy as good as the



From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 05:56:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Sanhedrin under political control?

Alex Heppenheimer wonders where, outside of the NT, we see this.

It seems clear that there were times when control of the Sanhedrin was a
matter of political power. For example, why, when Hillel first appeared
on the scene, did no one know how to handle Erev Pesach Shechal
BeShabbat? It should happen every few years. Easy: Because the Tzedukim
had controled the Sanhedrin (or Mikdash) for a number of years, and
Pesach always began on Shabbat for them. In fact, halacha allows for
such corruption by, for example, ruling that whenever Rosh Chodesh is
announced, that is the date, even if the witnesses and/or judges were

One wonders how this ties into Jesus. He lived a generation or so after
Hillel, but control may have shifted again, or there may have been
competing courts, or the Mikdash may have been under separate authority,
or facts may have been fudged (the most likely scenario) to fit the
agenda of the authors of the Gospels. Interestingly, Acts tells us that
even though the Perushim obviously weren't Christians themselves and
strongly disapproved of them, they weren't so actively opposed as the
(Tzeduki?) kohanim.  Rabban Gamaliel (the First) is named as one

In any event, we know things were quite fluid back then, with multiple
groups, claims, and so on. Most of these likely have disappeared even
from history.  ("Judean People's Front? We're the People's Front of
Judea!") So it's not unlikely that the Sanhedrin was always so pure. We
can trust, though, that there was always a group of people, however
small, who preserved the Masorah until such time as they had authority

Nachum Lamm


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 09:57:38 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: The Scriptural Basis for Frum Garments

It is noteworthy that in all of our protracted discussion on frum
garments, no mention has yet been made of their Scriptural basis, from
which the purpose of such garments can be clearly discerned:

There is no doubt that the purpose of frum garments is to separate their
wearer from the rest of Klal Yisrael.

This is not only borne out empirically, but it is also clear from
Leviticus 13:45, the original Mosaic source for wearing frum garments.
It is clear, both from this verse, and from its context, that the
purpose of such garments is exactly as stated above.  And it must be
noted with admiration that this Divinely-mandated function is being
excellently served today.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St, Chicago IL  60645-4111
<jay@...>; http://m5.chi.il.us:8080


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 14:28:52 GMT
Subject: Sleeve Length

From: Jay Bailey <JayB@...>

<<I'd be shocked to find a primary resource from a European society
200-600 years ago who wouldn't be scandalized by any woman - Jewish or
not - who "revealed" her elbows.  If that was our criteria for things
like dress, we'd have women wearing veils as is "required" by the Rambam
as was the custom in Muslim countries>>

I'm afraid you're working from a mistaken premise.  ALL the sources for
erva, whether voice, hair or tefach, refer to, per the Gemara, one's own
wife's exposure thereof in the privacy of the home, and the halacha
discussed is if one may say kerias shema or berachos in front of such

Nobody discussed and nobody imagined that any woman would walk in the
street the way some do nowadays, but that does not invalidate the
halachic discussions as irrelevant, because those discussions did NOT
refer to street dress, but to at-home cover-up in the presence of one's
husband only.

So I will agree with the previous poster that sources are in fact valid
and should be the only basis on which this discussion should revolve.



End of Volume 43 Issue 76