Volume 47 Number 23
                    Produced: Sun Mar 20 19:28:20 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Daf Yomi Trot (2)
         [Tzvi Stein, Akiva Miller]
Going to Baseball Games
         [Carl Singer]
Government of Israel (was: Is the Great Divide upon us?)
         [Akiva Miller]
Is the US a Christian country? (3)
         [Frank Silbermann, W. Baker, Bernard Raab]
Religious Freedom in the US / Monarchy, etc.
         [Carl Singer]
Undesirability of Monarchy
         [Bernard Raab]


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 08:48:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Daf Yomi Trot

> From: Andy Goldfinger <GOLDFAD1@...>
> I don't think I am fooling myself.  This is definitely not learning,
> but it only takes 5 to 10 minutes, and my theory is that after 7 and a
> half years I will at least have seen all the topics that are covered
> in Shas.

I would not be so harsh as to say "this is definitely not learning".  I
once had a discussion with my Gemara rebbe in yeshiva about what exactly
constitutes "learning".  He said, even reading a Rabbi Pliskin book is
"learning".  Remember, that the halacha states that even reciting Krias
Shema is "learning".

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 19:00:07 GMT
Subject: Re: Daf Yomi Trot

Yes, I agree that this does not constitute learning the Daf. But it
*does* constitute learning a summary of the Daf.

Why on earth would anyone think that "This is definitely not learning"

Why on earth would anyone think that "this is not valuable" ?????

We have many many seforim which have been translated and condensed into
English. Wouldn't this be in the same category?

Of course, "according to the effort is the reward", and so one would get
more reward for learning a more difficult sefer. But some people seem to
think that lighter material is totally devoid of value, and I want to
argue against that view. I was thinking of citing some examples, but
everyone is on a different level, and I don't want to accidentally
insult anyone. My point is that if you are learning Torah, then you are
learning Torah!!!

Akiva Miller


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 06:10:07 -0500
Subject: Going to Baseball Games

    Are there any poskim who allow going to Baseball games? or any other
    sporting event or theaters for that matter?

Only if you're a Cleveland Indians fan -- it's a form of Tshuva.

Since Purim is only a few weeks away let me take this opportunity to
again advertise the availability of Team Bekeshes -- in the colors /
logos of your favorite sporting team or Chasidik Dynasty.

Carl A. Singer


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 18:48:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Government of Israel (was: Is the Great Divide upon us?)

Shoshana Ziskind wrote <<< To say, however, that Torah law is inherently
flawed doesn't make sense to me. >>>

Me too. But suppose we use the word "incomplete", instead of "flawed".

Then we would find that HaShem gave us a set of 613 Torah Laws as a mere
starting point for Chazal to build upon. And build they did! Brachos,
muktzeh, prozbul, nidah. All sorts of prohibitive fences, and loads of
positive enactments as well. And not just in the ritual area, but in
civil law as well. I'm not learned enough to cite examples, but I'd be
very surprised if there are no Mitzvos D'Rabanan which relate to how a
Beis Din works, or the relationship between King and Sanhedrin.

Akiva Miller


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 08:58:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject:  Is the US a Christian country?

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, kings seen the benefit of choosing
an official state religion (even to the extent of inviting teachers from
a variety of faiths to come and make their case).  The reach of the law
is never long enough to substitute for public custom and notions of
personal morality.  Unfortunately, religious diversity has the potential
to weaken religion's abilty to set moral standards, so states have
protected the prestige of the official religion while limiting the
prestige of any tolerated dissenters.

In the Middle Ages this led to the use of religious dissent as a tool of
politics; to increase the enthusiasm of their supporters, political
factions clothed their power struggles in the language of religious
disagreement.  Ultimately, these struggles became extremely bloody; for
example, the wars between Catholics and Luthorans killed a third of all

The American Founders wished to avoid both the moral degradation of
pre-Christian Rome and the bloody religious wars of the Christian era.
Their experiment was for the state to recognize the authority of the
moral laws and customs common to the various Christian denominations --
but to decree that as long as individuals accepted this standard, their
theology would not be questioned.

People who claim that America is (or was set up to be) a Christian
country are correct to the extent that Christianity is the basis for
American moral notions (and that, until one learned otherwise, a
stranger was assumed to be a Christian of some kind).  Those who claim
that America is inherently secular are correct to the extent that the
law does not reward or punish any specific personal theology.

The biggest threat to America's experiment in religious freedom is the
very recent notion that nonbelievers need not be affected by Christian
moral standards.  That will bring society back to the degradation of
pre-Christian Rome -- until such time as the need for religious morality
returns us to some sort of mandatory state-sponsored religion, such as

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>

From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 12:19:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Is the US a Christian country?

> From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
> The question of early religious freedom and the christian identity of
> the US is complicated by the fact  that there was no single
> authoritative opinion binding on all Americans throughout history. The
> facts are complex. Certainly there was great religious freedom here, and
> those freedoms were established in law.

Aftr the Revolution there were seveal states that had establiched
churches.  Mass. had one until sometime in the 1830's.  Among the
original colonies, Penn. had considerble religious freedon as did
Maryland, which was founded by Lord Baltimore, a Catholic, so all
Christians could hold office,, actually quite an innovation in its time.

>> The American Revolution had disestablished the Anglican church,

This church was not established in many colonies.

The Bill of Rights only aplied to the Federal government, not the
states, so, as i mentioned earlier, there were established churches for
quite a while.

> It is these pressures that are referred to when people call the US a
> Christian Country. And it should be pointed out that contrary to Bernard
> Raab, the expression is NOT primarily a Jewish one. It is instead
> primarily used by the Protestant Right, by way of justifying Christian
> principles in American law and social practice. (do a google search on
> the phrase "is a Christian country" and see how many Jewish sites you
> find).

> A close look at the fight over public school funding in NYC in the 1840s 
> is an important historical example of how 1st amendment issues were 
> ignored in favor of anti-religious bias. (see for example, Vincent 
> Lannie's Public Money and Parochial Education)

One major reason for the creation of the Catholic School systems in the
19th Century was that the Public Schools were very much Protestant in
outlook and practice.

> Having said all that, I do agree with Bernard Raab when he says: > 
> The US is the world's leading example of a secular democracy.
> Over the past 50 years or so, the idea of the melting pot has waned, and
> with it the idea of cultural diversity. With the cultural openness to
> that diversity has come a number of legal decisions which have
> strengthened the first amendment.

I do wonder about what I heard a great deal about this year.  All the
efforts to "bring Christ back into Christmas," with all the objections
to the use of Happy Holidays rather than Merry etc.  It is a counter to
the secularization of the holiday over many years.  It is now kind of
one, with so much of the retail economy dependent on big gift sales.  I
don't blame religious Christians for objecting to this, but I don't see
the State allowing more sectarian and religious observances in public
places.  This, is a great deal of why I think we have to fight the
greater inclusion of religious activities in National or governmental
things.  As a Jew, I would rather not have, say vouchers, than to have
more public Christmas observances and more Government money going to
"faith-based" groups.

Wendy Baker

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005 13:43:33 -0500
Subject: Is the US a Christian country?

>From: Binyomin Segal:
>The question of early religious freedom and the christian identity of
>the US is complicated by the fact  that there was no single
>authoritative opinion binding on all Americans throughout history.

I think we all agree that the founding fathers envisioned, and the
constitution codified, a secular government and civil society. This has
not stopped various Christian groups throughout our brief history from
claiming that this is a "Christian country". But this has a very
different meaning in the US from the statement that Saudi Arabia, for
example, is a moslem state.  I think we all understand this difference.

As usual, the response of Jewish groups to the challenge of the
"Christianizers" has been bi-polar:

Liberal groups have joined with secular or atheist groups to challenge
the school-prayer and nativity-scene crowd, while others, mainly
spearheaded by Lubavitch, have worked to include Jewish symbols among
the goyish.  Amazingly, both approaches have had some success
simultaneously. School prayer has, at least for now, been excised, and
last week the Supreme Court heard arguments about removing displays of
the ten commandments from public institutions. At the same time, we now
have the spectacle of the President presiding over the lighting of the
"National Chanukia" on the White House grounds, although without the
national TV coverage which accompanies the lighting of the National
Christmas Tree.

I don't know about you, but the latter makes me uneasy. I think America
works best when it accomodates all religions without promoting
any. Whatever its origins, the Christmas tree today is a symbol devoid
of any real religious significance. Is this our aspiration for the
Chanukia?  Under the current administration, some $2 billion has been
transferred to churches, synagogues, and mosques for social
services. Will this be good for the Jews? Or for America? The Supreme
Court may eventually find this unconstitutional, but for now Jefferson's
proud achievement is in eclipse, and with our blessing.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 06:20:12 -0500
Subject: Religious Freedom in the US / Monarchy, etc.

Two thoughts here:

Read the Federalist Papers -- there were great concerns re: whether the
US would end up a Monarchy or some kind of Aristocracy.

At one of the 350th anniversary observance at Shearith Israel a few
months ago Justice Scalia spoke -- clearly voicing his view that the
"establishment clause" in the constitution was meant to prohibit the
establishment of any SPECIFIC religion -- not of religion in general.  I
found his presentation compelling.  His ad hoc responses to questioners
who had come bearing well crafted arguments to the contrary really
showed the depth of his knowledge and his mental agility.

Carl Singer


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 01:02:08 -0500
Subject: Undesirability of Monarchy

>From: Avi Feldblum:

> If you choose to violate a halacha for which there is a punishment
>defined for human courts to impose (e.g. lashes or the death penalty),
>then the court is obligated to judge the case and impose the penalty if
>the person is found guilty. It has nothing to do with "the will
>of the religious king". It has to do with the imposition of a legal and
>judicial system. Today, we do not have the halachik court system in
>existance, but if one prays using the tradition texts of the prayers,
>then we pray daily for a restoration of the Temple and with it the
>restoration of the judges and the Sanhedrin system.

Many historians have noted that the Jewish nation has survived exile,
persecution, dispersion and genocide by virtue of its ability to adapt
to new realities without abandoning its core beliefs. Halacha is not and
has never been a static system, since HKB"H has given us the Torah along
with the ability, indeed the obligation, to develop and adapt it to new

The restoration of the Temple, the Sanhedrin, and the judges is not to
be feared but should be fervently hoped and prayed for, as we do every
day.  But this should not be taken to mean the restoration of the *era*
of the former Temples. The Torah is a living system, not a time machine!
Of course, there are powerful forces as well as a certain amount of
nostalgia resisting change, but

if these institutions are to be accepted and survive in a new day, they
will certainly be adapted to reflect the new era, and its political
developments and expectations.  I am confident that when the time comes,
we will rise to the challenge. Or else...

b'shalom--Bernie R.


End of Volume 47 Issue 23