Volume 44 Number 24
                    Produced: Wed Aug 18  5:38:31 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abuse issue
Cryptic Torah
         [Immanuel Burton]
Halachic parasitism
         [Meir Shinnar]
Hijacking of Language (2)
         [Jeremy Rose, Bill Bernstein]
Mock Weddings
         [Batya Medad]
Sleeve Length
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
"Unmarried Girls" [sic]
         [Shoshana Ziskind]


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 04:52:19
Subject: Abuse issue

<mj-subscriber@...> posted about a very difficult situation
involving a non-Jewish abuser who is still "alive and alert," and who
has threatened legal action against someone he has allegedly abused,
should the survivor discuss the abuse in any forum.  The poster has
asked for offlist responses but, as a professional with some expertise
in relevant fields, I felt a need to respond to the list about some of
the issues this individual raised.

> What happens, and what should be done, when an adult discovers that
> they, or someone they know, was abused as a child, [...]?

There are so many variables here, especially in the context of
threatened legal action, that I won't offer generalized advice.  What
concerns me in particular, though, is the reference to an adult
"discover[ing] that they [...] were abused as a child."  While I am not
going to presume to assess the merits of this particular case, what is
clear from well-designed research studies is that adults who were
themselves abused as children overwhelmingly *do* remember all or part
of what happened to them.  Cases alleging discovery as an adult that one
was him- or herself abused as a child, especially where those cases
allege "recovery" of previously "repressed" memories, in therapy or
otherwise, merit scrutiny, including an appropriately administered
requirement for reliable external corroboration.  This is particularly
true given the increasingly infamous track record of certain therapists,
and pop-psych publications, with respect to leading and suggestive
techniques that *presume* a priori that someone presenting with almost
*any* psychological symptom "must have" been abused.

NOTE: I am in no way advocating that abusers be shielded from the
consequences of their actions, even if those actions are long in the
past.  I'm also not advocating that, as used to happen (and maybe still
does) all too often, say, in rape trials, the victim be put on trial.
Nevertheless, there is a large and growing body of evidence that
allegedly "recovered/repressed memories" of abuse, some of which have
led to ugly court battles between family members and many more of which
have torn families asunder in other ways, were false, and the result of
bad therapy.

When the victim, or survivor, of abuse was someone else, obviously one
doesn't want to alienate one's friend by disbelieving him or her.
Nevertheless, some level of neutrality and circumspection, rather than
automatically "jumping on the bandwagon" of belief and pushing for
action, is likely warranted.  In particular, some of the same concerns I
mentioned previously also apply in this case, depending on who
"discovered" the abuse, and how.

> Who should the adult, or the friend, turn to?

In my opinion, priority #1 for the individual in distress is to seek a
*good* therapist who practices therapeutic techniques that have evidence
both for their effectiveness and for their safety.  Many though not all
of these are based in cognitive-behavioral principles and focus on "here
and now" approaches to improving the client's ability to cope with life
issues, including putting the past in the past and leaving it there.


> The results of the abuse, and the permanent trauma from it, are a
> current problem, and it has cast a shadow over the abuse victim's entire
> life.

Once again, I'm not going to presume to comment on the specific case at
hand.  However, I am deeply concerned about this comment and will make
the general statement that there is a whole multimillion dollar industry
built up around the premises that (a) abuse invariably yields permanent
trauma, and (b) it will always cast a shadow over the victim's entire
life.  This same industry tends to foster many practices, and
practitioners, of bad therapy, including leading and suggestive "memory
recovery" techniques that have no empirical evidence for either their
safety or their effectiveness.  Indeed, the evidence suggests that a lot
of the practices in question make clients get worse, not better,
irrespective of the presenting complaint that brought them into therapy.

Abuse *doesn't* have to be a permanent trauma.  Good therapy is one tool
that can help individuals who have been abused to move forward from it.
However, with or without therapy, the research evidence strongly
indicates that many abuse survivors *are* resilient and manage not to
have the trauma cast permanent shadows over their entire lives.  This
emphatically does *not* mean that abuse is OK; it also may not mean that
even the most resilient individuals will necessarily do as well in all
spheres of their lives as they would have absent the abuse.
Nevertheless, I reiterate the take-home message from well-designed
research that abuse does not have to destroy its survivors for life, and
I wish the most positive outcome possible for the individual about whom
the original post was written.


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:11:31 +0100
Subject: RE: Cryptic Torah

>From: Stan Tenen
>A good question. There are several possibilities.
>1) The designations are not cryptic. They only seem that way to us
>today, because of a loss of Torah learning, which when regained,
>will make the language completely clear.

I don't think this explains how "Do not boil a kid in its mother's milk"
has a different lesson on each of the three times it occurs.  Or how my
original posting concerning Leviticus 22:28 in which a masculine pronoun
refers pretty much exclusively to a female animal.

Another thought that occured to me on the subject of the cryptic nature
of the Torah concerns different customs regarding Torah obligations, for
example tephillin.  Some people wear tephillin on Chol Ha'moed, and some
don't (and on Chol Ha'Moed Pesach there are even different customs as to
when during davenning to take them off).  Now then, surely on the very
first Chol Ha'Moed after the Torah was given they would have known
whether to put tephillin on or not, so where did the differing customs
as to whether to put them on or not come from?  As a bi-annual event it
is unlikely that the practice would have been forgotten through lack of
observance, as with what has happened with the blue dye for tzitzit.
And where does the different order of the parshiot between Rashi and
Rabbenu Tam tephillin come from if the order was given at Sinai?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Meir Shinnar <Meir.Shinnar@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:41:33 -0400
Subject: Halachic parasitism

>It is not unusual to see couples in Yerushalayim where the
>husband wears a shabbos belt to avoid carrying a key and the wife pushes
>their infant in a stroller. This must be the thinking underlying
>Shmuel's grandfather's position.

This is  a classical case of being machmir at someone else's expense -
if pushing the child in a stroller is enough of a justification to rely
on the eruv, why should only the wife push the eruv ?  Hilchot shabat
are equally obligatory on the wife(the issue of children is different,
becuase the level of obligation is different).  Either you believe the
eruv shouldn't be relied on, in which case you stay home to take care of
the baby while the wife walks, or you believe it can be relied enough
for this case - in which case help the wife push the stroller (even if
you want to wear a shabbos belt).  This is halachic parasitism - living
a life that's dependent on someone else violating your idea of what the
halacha is. 

Meir Shinnar


From: Jeremy Rose <jeremy@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:17:42 +0100
Subject: Hijacking of Language

Mr Miller is not correct in his comparison of "euphemism" applied by
Chazal (and the Torah) to that of euphemism applied in the English
language.  They are absolutely, completely and diametrically opposed.

"Loshon Sagi Nohor" was implemented to show our concern that people or
concepts are not denigrated.  The Torah itself uses extra words and
phrases (such as "lo tohor" rather than "tomei") to teach us that we
need to take into account the feelings of others and, indeed of
"inanimate" objects and concepts.

Euphemisms such as "gay" for "homosexual" are specifically designed to
take away the stigma of these activities and make them less
unacceptable.  A dictionary definition of euphemism is "a way of
describing an offensive thing by an inoffensive expression" and blind
people and kiddush don't come into that category at all!

The use of these euphemisms has, in my opinion, been a significant
contributory factor in the increased acceptance of homosexual behaviour
and activity.  There are similar problems with the use of "euthenasia"
and "mercy killing" for what is sometimes (often?) murder.  Mr Miller is
correct is saying that "we should focus our energy on opposing the
unacceptable activities themselves" - but surely the first step in doing
this is to call a spade a spade.

Kol tuv,
Jeremy L Rose

From: <billbernstein@...> (Bill Bernstein)
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 08:29:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Hijacking of Language

I have to agree with Martin Stern and disagree with Akiva Miller on this
one.  Language is a reflection of norms and attitudes.  Thucydides in
his section of the Corcyrean Revolt describes how the language changed
to cover the breakdown in morality, and this is an archetype for other
revolutions.  When we use disparaging language for things we indicate
our disapproval of it.  The converse is also true.  The examples of
"kiddusha rabba" and so on are not germane here since there is no value
judgement.  OTOH, Agudah publications consistently eschew the use of gay
or even homosexual in favor of "what the Torah describes as 'toeivah.'"
Does this viliify homosexuality?  Yes, of course it does.  And that is
the point of using such language.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 15:51:28 +0200
Subject: Re: Mock Weddings

I remember from my youth movement/counselor days being told that "mock"
weddings are assur, since just going through the motions/words
constitute a halachik wedding.  Can't say if really true or "urban
legend" of sorts, but we were told of a couple who needed a real divorce
after one of those ceremonies.  Now, amongst you lurkers, and
non-lurkers, there definitely are a few someones who worked on programs
with me and may be able to give more details.



From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 11:15:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Sleeve Length

> From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
>>>But then there is the issue of erva and the saying of the Shma.  If a
>>>person cannot say the Shma in front of a person showing a tefach ...

I have been loosely following this "sleeve length" discussion and was
mostly surprised the the conversation seems to be implicitly directed
towards women and girls alone.  Many of us men publicly expose our upper
arm every morning when we put on teffilin at the start of prayer.  Is
there a halachic basis (I am aware of the social one) for the difference
in notions of erva [loosely "nakeness"].

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 08:26:54 -0400
Subject: Re: "Unmarried Girls" [sic]

On Aug 16, 2004, at 5:35 AM, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> 

(Who wrote this by the way? It would be nice if we could keep this info 
in our emails. Otherwise it gets confusing...)

>> as OK for children who weren't barei chiyuv yet, and even mentioned
>> that un married girls were told that when they married - and fasted
>> the day before their wedding - their aveirot would be forgivven , so
>> it was OK
> I have a language request: please remember that it is disrespectful to
> call women 'girls' whether married or not.  Only very young females
> (i.e. below bat-mitzvah, or at the most high school age) should be
> called 'girls,' and you can never go wrong by just saying 'young women'
> in these cases anyway.

Teenagers aren't girls?  Seminary age isn't girlhood? Okay once you
reach your twenties then I can see your issue but I think its
appropriate to call an unmarried 18 year old a girl.  Its not
disrespectful here, IMHO, its just calling things what they are.  Is
there something negative about girl? Because people call someone a
bochur who isn't married and he could be 15, 30 or 40.  Bochur seems
like a different category than girl certainly and I can't quite point my
finger at it but I still don't really see the negativity and the
disrespect in calling someone a girl.  Okay if you're 35, and the only
reason someone is calling you girl is that you're unmarried then maybe
it could be inappropriate.

What I also find interesting is that before I became frum I met a lot of
women who were in their 20s or older and they maybe "reclaimed" the word
or something because they liked being called girl. It was usually used
with a modifier.  "tiny girl" (don't ask me where this came from), geek
girl (for computer geeks).  These were liberal modern women here calling
themselves girls. Go figure.

Shoshana Ziskind


End of Volume 44 Issue 24