Volume 44 Number 97
                    Produced: Sun Sep 26  7:08:57 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"girls dormitory" at MIT
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Hamelech Hamishpat
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Haviva Ner-David
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
High Holiday Services (2)
         [Ben Katz, Ira L. Jacobson]
Kodesh v'khol (2)
         [Ben Katz, Bernard Raab]
Names - Shneor
         [Leah Perl Shollar]
Teaching Evolution or Abortion
         [Bernard Raab]
Yemenite customs
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 18:50:31 -0700
Subject: "girls dormitory" at MIT

Russell Hendel wrote, in part:

"(The architect thought God was best approached in darkness). One
Shabbos we could not be in the chapel and we prayed nearby in the girls
dormitory---the lighting was much better (as well as the cakes that the
girls baked for us)"

Ok...m.j readers might not always switch to 'women' on my account, but
for goodness' sake...I lived in that dormitory [McCormick Hall] so
please at least call it the 'women's dormitory' and call us MIT women,
'women'.  In exchange, and being a fair baker myself, I will not get
fussy about women baking cakes for men.  (Plus, I know that right here
on m.j we have a male master baker.)

--Leah S. R. Gordon (MIT '93 SM '94)


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 03:52:27 +0200
Subject: Hamelech Hamishpat

"Hamelech Hamishpat" is substituted during Aseret Yemei Teshuvah for
"Melech ohaiv tzedakah umishpat."

I can understand "Hamelech Hakadosh," but grammatically I find it hard
to find a satisfactory translation of "Hamelech Hamishpat."

Any suggestions?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 18:57:52 -0400
Subject: Haviva Ner-David

[I have some concern over the posting of this message, as I do not want
to get involved in how to "define" individuals. On the other hand, based
at least on a review of what I could find on the net, it does appear
that Haviva Ner-David is probably at best "on the fringe" (which is the
title of her book) of Modern Orthodox and may well be over the line, it
is important to at clarify that the statement made by a previous poster
that she is a "modern Orthodox" scholar - which is exactly what she
claims - may be open to disagreement. With this caveat, I'm putting
Mordechai's posting through. Mod.]

>In addition, Haviva Ner-David, a modern Orthodox scholar currently
>completing her dissertation on an aspect of niddah, is planning to write
>such a book in the next couple of years.

Haviva Ner-David is a reform Jew who calls herself an Modern Orthodox
Jew for the purpose promoting herself as the first woman studying to be
an Orthodox Rabbi. She is not a legitimate source for any information
from an Modern Orthodox perspective.

I define her as a reform Jew because she rejects the authority of
halacha.  She believes that she can create "halacha" herself based on
her personal desires.  For example she poskens that homosexuality is
allowed because a man really can't lie with a man like he does with a
woman.  The entire halachic tradition has always interpreted the
relevant psukin as prohibing male homosexual behavior.

One review of her book notes

    One is simply left wondering, at the end of the book, why Ner-David 
    doesn't go to one of the Conservative seminaries and become a 
    Conservative Rabbi. She sounds like she'd make a very good one.

See: http://www.kolel.org/pages/books/fringes.html
note this website is a reform affiliated website, they are not bashing
her, just pointing out the illogic of her claim to be Orthodox.

One problem Modern Orthodoxy has in getting respect in the greater
Jewish world is when we are quiet when people who are clearly not
Orthodox misrepresent themselves as modern Orthodox.  It gives those in
the haredi community who wish to delegitimize us the "proof" of our lack
of dedication to Torah.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2004 12:35:43 -0500
Subject: Re: High Holiday Services

>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>Perhaps the problem is the breakneck speed with which the piyutim tend
>to be recited making them virtually unintelligible to most
>congregants. They are full of allusions which often make them obscure. A
>good commentary would make them clearer but there is usually so little
>time allowed that just saying the words is almost impossible let alone
>checking their meaning.
>I notice this particularly with the poetic selichot of which I find I
>can only manage about half before the shats starts the next Kel
>Melekh. Surely we should not be rushing through our tefillot. Since
>people have to go to work in the mornings the only answer must be to
>start earlier as was the original custom where mashkimim lislichot meant
>precisely that, getting up to start them before amud hashachar

         The alternative is not to say every one.  Davening keeps
getting longer and longer; anyone who removes anything is somehow a
reformer.  It is absurd to mumble through prayers without any
understanding.  I often wonder if you polled people leaving shul about
the main idea in Ledavid Ori what percentage of people who have been
saying it twice a day for weeks now would be able to.  Or how many
people could translate a line of Ashrei, which they have probably said
10,000 times (no exaggeration).  Some prayers are outdated (the first
yekum purkan), others need to be updated (e.g., those that refer to
Jerusalem as a garbage heap).  One cannot keep adding without taking
anything away.  Sadia Gaon probably couldn't sit through shabat morning
davening at most shuls today!

         Gmar vachatimah tova to all.  Hope everyone has a meaningful Yom 

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 12:50:06 +0200
Subject: Re: High Holiday Services

Mark Symons <msymons@...> stated the following on Wed, 22
Sep 2004 22:58:07 +1000

      BTW, in the pizmon (daily hymn with a refrain) Horeita derech
      t'shuvaon Tzom Gedalia I noticed a reference to Ahab having done
      t'shuva. Does anyone know if this is referred to in tanach? If
      not, what is the source?

Daniel Goldschmidt refers to Kings I 21:27-29, Pirqei d'Rebbe Eli`ezer

IRA L. JACOBSON         

[Note: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> sent in the same reference
to Kings I. Mod.]


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 11:31:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Kodesh v'khol

>From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
>I make no such assumption.  The whole point of my post was that science
>cannot "replace" faith.  The plane of the sacred (kedusha) is
>nonrational and untouchable by the rational discourse of science--or,
>for that matter, traditional drash.  Thus the story is true because it
>says so in Bereyshis; and the story may be read either skeptically or as
>an instance of folk-wisdom (though the skeptic notes in passing that
>none of these scientific-technical attempts at explanation actually
>involve an empirical test).  But neither skeptic nor explicator adds or
>subtracts _anything_ from the sacred.
>A matter that interests me a lot is a detailed account of how the status
>of modern science in Orthodoxy changed from almost universally despised
>to almost universally respected.  Can someone suggest readings?

         Sometimes we can be too egocentric.  This was not just a
problem for observant Jews but for all faith communities.  All new ideas
take getting used to (even for scientists - see Thomas Kuhn's The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions).  Many "first generation"
biologists contemporary with Darwin did not agree with his findings
either (Stephen Jay Gould has written some wonderful essays about
Agassiz I think his name was, the leading biologist of his day, who went
to his grave believeing evolution to be incorrect).

         And "modern science" was never "universally despised".  Just
the opposite.  No one despised modern conveniences (electricity,
medicine, airplanes).  It was only that some of the underlying ideas
appeared to be threatening, coupled with the fact that science was
obviously producing such marvels (and thus had to be "right") that led
to difficulties.  (I always find it interesting that no one in Orthodoxy
tries to poke holes say in quantum theory because that is not seen as a
threat, but that everyone tries to becomes an "expert" in evolution so
that they can "refute" it.  Quantum theory is much more "illogical" and
would be much easier to "refute" using the kind of layman's rhetoric
used to argue against evolution.)

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 18:01:43 -0400
Subject: RE: Kodesh v'khol

>From: N Miller
>A matter that interests me a lot is a detailed account of how the status
>of modern science in Orthodoxy changed from almost universally despised
>to almost universally respected.  Can someone suggest readings?

I don't know if there are any studies on the subject, but I think that I
have lived through the transition. I don't know that "despised" is the
right word; I think "feared" is more appropriate. Religious people
generally assumed that science and religion are fated to be antagonists.
But I think that, in Judaism, this attitude was always ameliorated by
the example of the Rambam, whose faith was not compromised by his
medical and scientific studies, and possibly in more recent times, by
the Vilna Gaon, who fancied himself something of a mathematician.

In modern times the examples of people like Dr. Herbert Goldstein, a
sincerely frum Jew who wrote the "bible" which everyone used to study
classical mechanics in advanced physics class (at least when I was a
student), and by Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a Rosh Yeshiva at YU and a noted
biologist, and other such people, have demonstrated that science and
religion can coexist. That this coexistence is not always comfortable
and provides copious intellectual challenges, is, I think, a definite
benefit, in that it reminds us that we don't yet have all the answers.
Finally, if science is respected in Judaism today, I think it is mainly
due to the frum scientists in many fields, and the legion of frum
doctors who treat patients with care and compassion and live in the
worlds of science and yiddishkeit with equal ease. That is perhaps the
greatest change that I have witnessed in my lifetime. While secular
education in general continues to be feared in certain circles, I don't
think this fear is focused on science in particular, which does enjoy a
certain respect, even in those circles.

g'mar chatima tova--Bernie R.


From: Leah Perl Shollar <leahperl@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 22:19:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Names - Shneor

Jonathan Baker wrote in v44n85:
> we see names introduced as populations shift, e.g. Yenta (Juanita)
> or Shneiur (Seņor) into Europe after the Spanish expulsion.

I was under the impression that Shneor was a Hebrew name.  As I heard
it, a couple each wanted to name after his or her father -- Meir and
Yair respectively.  They compromised, and called the child "Shneor" --
two lights...

Why would anyone name their child "Mister"?

Leah Perl


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 20:24:33 -0400
Subject: RE: Teaching Evolution or Abortion

>From: Yitzchok  Kahn <mi_kahn@...> V44 N78:
> I am becoming a NYC public high school history/social studies teacher.
> I am wondering how I am supposed to deal with the issue of teaching the
> evolutionary origins of man, which to me are kfirah.

By now you have had lots of advice, which I have followed with interest,
and some of it might be helpful to you--I hope so. I would only add one
thing: Science does not require that you "believe" any of it. In fact a
healthy skepticism is preferred. For sure, most of what we now believe
to be true will eventually be found to be only an approximation of the
truth. As a social studies teacher, your job is to describe what the
consensus of current understanding is, and how we got to this
understanding. Your personal endorsement is not required. In fact you
are not qualified to offer such an endorsement. Needless to say,
interjecting your own personal theology would be wrong in this context.
Of course, your students will expect "facts" which they can reproduce on
the test and pass the course. The entire educational system is geared to
fill them with such "facts". You may try to convey that these are
theories but it would be misleading to say "only" or "merely" theories,
as the Christian creationists do, because all of science is composed of
theories. Unlike mathematics, there are no absolute facts in science.  I
hope this has not only added to the noise--good luck and

hatzlacha--Bernie R.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 12:38:20 +0200
Subject: Re: Yemenite customs

Leah Aharoni <leah25@...> stated the following on Wed, 22
Sep 2004 04:03:03 -0700:

      - Prayer nusach - Yemenites have two different nusachim which are
      VASTLY different from each other. Therefore, I think it is
      impossible to summarize their minhagim in davening in a few short

It might just be noted that the Shami text is nearly identical to that
of all (other) `edot hamizrah, while the Baladi text is rather
different.  The Baladi pasqen in accordance wit the Rambam.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 44 Issue 97