Volume 48 Number 89
                    Produced: Fri Jul  8  6:02:55 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ban on Rabbi Slifkin's Book/Secular translations of the Torah
         [David Maslow]
Businesses in conflict
         [Carl A. Singer]
Gay pride messages
         [Abbi Adest]
Halacha and Business Competition
         [David Charlap]
Halacha and Income Changes
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Otiot Kiddush Levana
Rosh Yeshiva or Communal Rabbi-(was Accepting Psak)
         [Frank Silbermann]
Secular translation of the Torah
         [Bernard Raab]
Secular Translation of the Torah
         [David Charlap]
Treatment of a worker -- was second job / volunteering
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 16:07:25 -0400 
Subject: Ban on Rabbi Slifkin's Book/Secular translations of the Torah

In January and February of this year, there was a discussion on MJ of
the ban on Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's books.  Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the Rosh
Yeshiva of Nir Israel in Baltimore, has just posted an article examining
the issue at http://ftwr.net/SLIFKIN_ARTICLE.doc
<http://ftwr.net/SLIFKIN_ARTICLE.doc> .

In it, Rabbi Feldman concludes that the individuals who issued the ban
"were perfectly justified in terming his views inauthentic
interpretations of Torah," and that the "answers that Slifkin proposed
[to the conflicts between science and Torah--added text] are not the
right ones."  He acknowledges that Rabbi Slifkin is "a fully observant
chareidi Torah Jew whose intent was clearly leshem shomayim (for the
sake of Heaven), to defend the honor of the Torah."  He mentions that
Rav Eliashiv also "said that one cannot rule that Slifkin is a heretic
(apikores) even though the views he espoused have the status of heresy"
since, in Rabbi Feldman's understanding of Rav Eliashiv, "Slifkin did,
after all, intend to give a correct interpretation of the Torah and he
did follow, at least, a minority opinion."

Nevertheless, to the question, "if he considers Slifkin's approach wrong
how could so many earlier authorities have held it?" Rav Eliashiv
replied, "they were permitted to hold this opinion, we are not."

This relates very much to the comments on secular translation of the
Torah by Gilad Gevaryahu, including "Censorship never improved Judaism."
It also relates to Avi's comments on the same topic, which suggest that
the motivation of the writer and reader are factors in judging the
appropriateness of the text.  Here we have a well-motivated Torah Jew
who is being attacked for supporting a minority opinion of earlier
gedolim on an hashgaphic (philosophical) issue.

Please note that I clearly do not have the qualifications to make any
comment on either Rabbi Feldman's arguments against Rabbi Slifkin, nor
on Rabbi Slifkin's vigorous response, found at his website,
www.zootorah.com <www.zootorah.com> .

David E. Maslow


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 07:46:55 -0400
Subject: Businesses in conflict

> So from a halachic perspective, I think the discussion should be on what
> are the guiding principles (I propose "hasagas gevul" as at least one)
> and how well can we define / elaborate those principles.

Along this line can someone elaborate on the halachic basis for an
existing merchant to object to a new merchant opening nearby.

Rather than delve into the community politics involved -- it all seems
to be smoke and mirrors behind close doors with conflicting rumors
coming from all directions -- here are a few questions:

1 - Are there (halacha-based) preferences to be given to a merchant who
is a member of the local community.

1A --  and / or employs local balabatim.

2 - What if the existing (kosher) merchant is non-Jewish and the new
would-be competition is Jewish.

3 - What if the would-be new business is "frummer" than the existing
business -- both are Shomre Shabbos, kosher, etc.

4 - Who has halachic jurisdiction?

Carl Singer


From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 13:16:49 +0200
Subject: Gay pride messages

> They actual claim that they are demanding full acceptance of the
> "homosexual lifestyle" not acceptance as "human beings".  They have
> made this public statements to this affect.

There is no monolithic international gay community, so I'm really not
sure who "they" is. There were no offical statements made at any time
before this particular parade declaring what they are or are not
demanding, so though groups in America might demand what you are
claiming, these demands were not made here.

>> Whether that respect and acceptance can or should be given by all
>> sectors of society, including the halachic one, is certainly debatable;
>> but making that decision with knives, as one or two charedi men decided
>> to do at the parade yesterday, is definitely not sanctioned by halacha
>> and I think it's simply abhorrent.

>This has nothing to do with the discussion.

Orthodox response to a gay pride parade has nothing to do with the
discussion? I thought that is what we were discussing. I think it's
disengenuous to ignore violent Orthodox reactions to what is perceived,
as you have suggested, threatening demands on the part of the gay
community. It's all the more ironic to be discussing gay messages or
demands as a threat to the halachic way of life, yet a halachic Jew is
the one who pulled a knife.

As for the kashrut of federations, you did not make any mention in your
original post that you were describing events that happened thirty years
ago. Since the Orthodox sector is much more powerful in general in North
American Jewish communities then they were back then, such behavior
would simply not be tolerated today in most large Jewish
communities. I'm sure it might have happened in isolated cases many
years ago. I'll be honest and say I can't even remember what point you
were trying to make with non kosher Federation events in the first

Abbi Adest 


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 10:50:47 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Business Competition

Jeanette Friedman wrote:
> If Plony, the cab driver in Monsey is making a living driving people to
> the doctor and the hospital, and suddenly the service is provided for
> free by others, that IS DISGUSTING. What they can do is raise funds so
> the poor people don't have to pay him, but he should be paid. Driving
> him out of business and making his family starve is a bigger aveyrah
> than paying him to take them to the doctor.
> Driving anyone out of business--if they are honest and hardworking and
> deliver quality, to me, is a criminal act.

This sounds great and wonderful in theory.  In practice, this attitude
produces disastrous results.

For instance, when I first moved to the Washington DC area, there were
only three kosher restaurants in the region, and only one of them was
any good.  The local vaad wouldn't allow any other restaurants to open,
because they were afraid that it would drive the existing 3 out of
business.  So the community was forced to either never eat out, or wait
for a long time at the good restaurant, or eat lousy food.

Eventually, this attitude must have changed, because there are more
kosher restaurants now.  And, contrary to everybody's fears, none of the
original three went out of business.

So where do you draw the line between competition and "driving anyone
out of business"?

And if somebody can't compete, is it really community's obligation to
support his business like a charity case?  Does the first person to open
a store in town have a right to a monopoly in that town?  Keep in mind
that businesses fail for a variety of reasons, not just because of what
you consider unethical behavior by competitors.

-- David


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 09:58:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Income Changes

<FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman) wrote
> If Plony, the cab driver in Monsey is making a living driving people to
> the doctor and the hospital, and suddenly the service is provided for
> free by others, that IS DISGUSTING.

I take it then that you don't tip service personnel, then?  After all, 
all tipping does is allow the owner to reduce the staff's salary 
according to the expected tip, thereby leaving the staff much more
vulnerable to income fluctuations.



From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 21:36:32 +0200
Subject: Re: Otiot Kiddush Levana

in MJ 48/88, Perets Mett wrote, regarding the writing of the text of
kiddush levana on the outside walls of shuls in europe, thus enabling
the tzibbur gathered outside to read it:

>And, of course, the writing was sufficiently large to enable everyone
>to read the words. Hence the expression "kidush levono oysies" for
>oversized writing.

a "niv" (expression) much in use in modern day hebrew - otiot kiddush



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 13:49:20 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Rosh Yeshiva or Communal Rabbi-(was Accepting Psak)

David Maslow <maslowd@...>:
> Steven Oppenheimer had an article in the Journal of Halacha and
> Contemporary Society a few issues ago on the Breakaway Minyan.  In it,
> he brought several opinions that yeshivas/kollels in a community with a
> shul should not start their own minyan, in part to avoid weakening the
> community minyan and the community.  It is encouraging to hear the
> stories of roshei yeshiva that defer psak to the communal rabbi.

While I sympathize with those who believe a person should seek tshuvot
from his local rabbi rather than from his rosh yeshiva, I imagine that
there are exceptions.

If a person of one minhag (e.g. Chassidic, Sephardi, non-Chassidic
Ashkenazi) resides for the time being in a small community where the
only local rabbis available are of a significantly different minhag,
then phoning a rabbi of one's own tradition may be appropriate.  It is
my experience that few rabbis are well acquainted with the minhagim of
other movements (and may even attribute differences in practice to the
other movement's error).

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


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 12:09:42 -0400
Subject: Secular translation of the Torah

There is the fascinating story of a young Japanese man, Setsuzo Kotsuji,
born into a prominent Shinto family early in the 20th century.  He
converted to Christianity as a teenager. He studied the bible in
Japanese translation and became fascinated with the "Old Testament"
part.  He was determined to read it in the original Hebrew and began a
lifelong study of the Hebrew language and bible. In the 1930's he was
recruited by the Japanese government to be an emissary to the Jews of
Manchuria. For the next decade his efforts helped to save the lives of
many Jewish refugees in Japan and China.

If you would like to book a lecture on the "Jewish Connections To
Japan--Yesterday and Today" for your group, I might be persuaded to do
it. Email me.

b'shalom--Bernie R.

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 09:50:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Secular Translation of the Torah

Gilad J. Gevaryahu wrote:
> My question is the opposite. Can we afford not to read texts where 
> knowledge can be found? After all, Prof. Robert Alter is a serious 
> Biblical scholar. I do not know if he is frum or secular, but I am
> sure that each of us can learn from his scholarship. Censorship never
> improved Judaism.

This is not necessarily true.

Any and all translations are, in part, an expression of the translator's
opinions.  This applies to any non-trivial text, not just the Torah.

So, when the book is important, you must know the background of the
translator.  Is he going accordng to traditional sources?  If they're
not traditional, is he showing respect for tradition?  Does he have
personal theories that he is expressing with this translation?

In extreme cases (such as Christian translations), you have to deal with
the possibility of deliberate mistranslation in order to promote an
idealogical agenda.

Now, I am not going to say that a "bad" (however you want to define it)
translation should be banned, but I do think you must know the author's
background and agenda before reading such a book, in order to
(hopefully) be able to realize when you're reading editorial content.  I
think this is a good idea for all translations, but it becomes critical
if the translation is not according to tradition.

-- David


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2005 07:24:06 -0400
Subject: Treatment of a worker -- was second job / volunteering

> With all respect to Carl, I don't think halacha is ever much of a factor
> in the secular Jewish press.  The issue with Janice was more of a labor
> dilemma than a halachic problem--

For an employer not to quickly and properly pay an employee IS an
halachic issue.  Reneging on an agreement to increase wages after a
period of time falls into that category.

That this is associated with a public, Jewish entity -- secular or
otherwise -- possibly compounds the problem by setting a public example
-- in this case a bad example.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 48 Issue 89