Volume 48 Number 94
                    Produced: Wed Jul 13  5:24:57 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alter's work
         [Jack Gross]
Ban on Rabbi Slifkin's Book/Secular translations of the Torah
         [Bill Bernstein]
Banning Books
         [Richard Schultz]
Business in Conflict
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Communal Rabbi vs. Rosh Yeshivah (2)
         [Elazar M. Teitz, David I. Cohen]
Maavar Yabok
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
No Tachanun
         [Yisrael Medad]
Rabbi Tibor Stern
         [Marc B. Shapiro]
Secular Translations of Torah
Where is the border


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 08:41:12 -0400
Subject: Alter's work

Beyond fidelity to the meaning of the text, there is the issue of fealty
to the Mesorah's text.  Uri Alter's work picks and chooses from
alternative readings as moved by his own judgment, unfettered by Ani
Ma'amin #8.


From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 15:36:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Ban on Rabbi Slifkin's Book/Secular translations of the Torah

The entire incident with R' Slifkin is unsettling in a number of ways.
I also cannot recall any other parallel within the last 100 years.  But
for a counterpoint, what does anyone imagine will happen to R' Slifkin
in his future career?  If anyone suggested he would become rosh yeshiva
of, e.g. Torah V'Daas I doubt that suggestion would be taken seriously.

Yet in Marc Shapiro's biography of the Seridei Eish he recounts that R'
Dovid Tzi Hoffmann zt'l wrote a doctoral dissertation he published under
the title Mar Samuel.  I do not recall the substance of the book but it
was shown to Rabbiner Hirsch, who declared it kefira.

Rav Hoffmann went on to become head of the Berlin Seminary and the
foremost halakhic authority in Germany.  His sefer Melamed L'Hoil is
quoted often in discussions to this day.  Importantly he was not labeled
an apikorus and a kofer and dismissed and in one teshuva he mentions
meeting Rabbiner Hirsch at the latter's home.

BIll Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Richard Schultz <schultr@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 13:55:22 +0300
Subject: Banning Books

I've noticed that the ArtScroll translation of the Talmud uses, without
modification, the Vilna Romm edition.  I can hardly wait to see what
happens when the book banners find out that not only was that edition
banned in some communities at the time it came out due to the Romms'
sometimes shady business practices, but that the edition itself was done
by maskilim.  (Done by maskilim who inter alia went out of their way to
thank the Vatican for letting them use the resources available in the
Vatican library.)

Richard Schultz


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 09:25:03 -0400
Subject: Business in Conflict

Regarding the question of unfair or aggressive competition:

I live in Maryland (USA).  Near where I work, there was a small "mom and
pop" type hardware store.  About one block away, a major discount
hardware chain (I think it was Lowes, but I may be wrong) opened a super
sized discount store.  I don't know how the mom and pop store's prices
compared, but they continued to give personal service to their customers
and continued to have significant expertise concerning their products
and how to use them.  After a couple of years, the monster discount
store was driven out of business.  It closed up shop, and the mom and
pop store leased the large building.  On the day they moved to their new
giant location, dozens of loyal customers showed up to help them with
the move.  It was covered by the media.

I am not sure this is relevant to the discussion, but it is a nice story
and I enjoy telling it.

-- Andy Goldfinger


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 20:50:20 GMT
Subject: Re: Communal Rabbi vs. Rosh Yeshivah

> Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky z"l is quoted as having said that to pasken a
> sh'eilah one must be fluent in every Tosefos in Shas.  How many communal
> Rabbis can make this claim? If this is true for questions in Yoreh
> De'ah, how much more so is it true for queries in Even HaEzer or Choshen
> Mishpat?  I have not seen all the posts on this subject, but I do not
> believe we are talking about "a milk spoon fell into my meat pot"
> question.  Can the Communal Rabbi with many varied responsibilities --
> often including another full time job -- dedicate the same amount of
> time to the sugyos and teshuvah seforim as the Rosh Yeshiva, or more
> accurately, one of the Poskei HaDor who is Toraso um'naso?

First, in the interests of full disclosure: as a communal rabbi, I am
not a dispassionate respondent on this issue.

I agree wholeheartedly with the writer if the reference is to one of the
poskei hador.  I disagree wholeheartedly if the reference is to roshei
yeshiva in general, which I believe was the thrust of this thread until

Rav Yaakov's comment is undoubtedly true.  However, that fluency, while
a necessary condition, is not a sufficient one.  The ability to pasken
requires more than mere "book knowledege."  It is a skill which comes
gradually, and which most rashei yeshiva have not acquired.  [In two of
the yeshivos in which I studied (Telshe and Ner Israel, in the Fifties)
it was the mashgiach, rather than any of the rashei yeshiva, to whom
most halachic questions were referred.]

Secondly, while the rav is often busy with matters other than Torah
study, so too is the average rosh yeshiva.  Primarily, he is required to
see to the spiritual, social and physical needs of his students.  If
this does not take up much of his time, he may not be worthy of the
position.  Also, in most cases, rashei yeshiva must be concerned about
the financial well-being of their institutions, again a very
time-consuming obligation.  Finally, the bulk of a rosh yeshiva's
learning time is spent in the topics being learned in the yeshiva, which
are generally far removed from halacha l'ma'aseh (practical halacha).
The communal rav, on the other hand, is likely to spend more time on
exactly the matters which are of immediate, practical applicability.

As for Even Haezer (marital laws) and Choshen Mishpat (monetary laws)
specifically, most rashei yeshiva are far removed from both.  The only
rashei yeshiva I have known, for instance, who deal in gittin are those
who are also community rabbonim.  On the other hand, I have seen at
least one rosh yeshiva who indisputably knows every nuance of every
Tosfos in Shas, but who was incapable of properly filling out a k'suba.
As for Choshen Mishpat, in most dinei Torah I am aware of, it is
rabbonim who are chosen by the parties, rarely rashei yeshiva --
generally, because the former have greater experience, and hence a
greater appreciation, for the nuances of a situation, which can have
bearing on the halacha, and certainly can have bearing on the nature of
a p'shara (compromise) which is fair to both sides, and which is more
generally the outcome of a din Torah than is straight p'sak.

It is also understood that unless the communal rav lacks the proper
yiras shamayim (fear of G-d) [in which case he not only should not be
asked, but should not be serving in that capacity], he will be aware of
his limitations, and know (a) when he must ask a greater authority and
(b) who that greater authority is, for the question under consideration.

To ask one's halachic questions of an outside authority is, in effect,
to undermine the authority of the community's rav.  After all, for all
responsibilities other than answering such questions, ordination is
meaningless.  S'micha today means exactly that the person has been found
qualified, in knowledge and in yiras shamayim, to answer questions of
Jewish law.

Elazar M. Teitz

From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 12:42:06 -0400
Subject: Communal Rabbi vs. Rosh Yeshivah

IM Fuchs wrote:

> If we were simply talking "do I go back for ya'aleh v'yavo" I would
> probably understand.  (Although even that could get complicated.  Birkas
> HaMazone or Tefilah, se'udas reshus or chovah, a man or a women, . . . )
> However, if we are talking about a medical issue, a Shabbos issue, or
> even a matter of personal advice (where one's Rosh Yeshiva or one who
> has advised thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of people probably
> has more experience, understanding, and perception than the local Rav),
> then how can anyone say the communal Rav takes precedence?  I am open to
> suggestions.

I would say --just the opposite.

A psak is not just being able to amass the broadest range of sources and
weigh their relative significance (or whose in the majority). If that's
all there was, then one proficient in using the Bar Ilan CD would be the
winner.  Psak is also about knowing the individual's situation and the
situation of the community ---psak involves real world questions, not
just book theory.  The yeshiva world is our "ivory tower" and the Rosh
Yeshiva is too often divorced from the reality of amcha.  As to the
claim that teh RY has advised so many people, I would guess that those
that he has counseled fall for the most part into a very narrow
demographic both in terms of age and gender.  Through generations, the
posek was the community Rav. It's only in the last few decades that the
Yeshiva world had come to the fore, and our local communities suffer
because of it.

David I. Cohen


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 11:11:47 -0400
Subject: Maavar Yabok

>One of the standard seforim used for generations by the Chevra
>Kaddisha, as well as concerning the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, is the
>sefer "Maaver Yabok".  Can anyone offer any information on the author
>of this sefer, as well as the reason why this name was chosen for a
>sefer dealing with such topics?

In the authors introduction, he writes that he selected the name because
he wanted to use the literary allusion that this world is a shaky and
insecure bridge to the next, as was Yaakovs obvious danger in the story
in Genesis, where he crossed the Yabok river (valley?) to evade Esau..

He adds several more similar reasons, such as the alliteration of Yabok
with ye'evak (fighting), alluding to mans constant war against the evil
inclination, and Yaakov's fight with the angel, in this case the angel
of death.

Just as a point of interest, I found this book very comforting when I
was saying kaddish for my father a"h.  It did leave me with many
questions, though, because it doesn't usually cite sources.  For
example, he explains the 8 times a day one should say kaddish by
explaining that each kaddish equals 1.5 hours of release from punishment
for the deceased soul.  He doesn't explain how there is a 12-hour
workday in gehinnom, nor what happens if there is more than one
kaddish-sayer for the same person.  In any case, it's a fascinating and
comforting book.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 21:27:02 +0200
Subject: No Tachanun

Carl Singer asks:

> what do other congregations do to notify the balabatim that there is
> no tachnun under similar circumstances?

As a gabbai (unlicensed, barely qualified), I have no problem about
either snapping fingers to get their attention and high sign them to
stop or making a hissing sound or a bit of a clop.  Of course, there's
always the one-who-knows-better and/or the one-who-refuses-to-recognize
anyone else's authority than his own.  Usually a few fellow congregants
laughing, smiling or pointing at him help out.

And, in a parallel circumstance, have you ever been in a synagogue on
Yom HaAtzmaut afternoon?  In the mornings, there's a large number
praying but I have been at outlying places and then it really gets a bit

Yisrael Medad


From: Marc B. Shapiro <shapirom2@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 15:41:13 -0400
Subject: Rabbi Tibor Stern

Does anyone know if the late Rabbi Tibor Stern of Miami Beach had
children? If so, please contact me directly. Thank you.

  Marc Shapiro


From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 7:36:33 -0700
Subject: RE: Secular Translations of Torah

> Surprisingly however we have NOT dealt with the original question!!!
> Should we advise people to avoid the translation? Is the author
> religious (I still dont know)?  Should we give advice to new or
> experienced students? Instead of answering these questions we have
> gone out on a tangent and attacked banning! I for one would like to
> see the original question discussed.

The author in question CHANGES THE TORAH TEXT to fit into what he feels
the translation should be.


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 08:59:23 -0400
Subject: Where is the border

I'm confused by 2 or 3 contiguous concepts.  Where in what follows do I
go wrong?  AIUI, we're not allowed to pray in G-d's name for things that
are impossible, such as praying one got an A in a course, if he is
holding the envelope in which his grades have been mailed to him,
because the grade is already determined.  Or praying that one arrives
home in 5 minutes, when he is still 20 miles away.  Things like this are
taking G-d's name in vain, yes?  Also, we're not supposed to rely on
miracles.  But we can still pray for miracles.  So if we know someone
who a) has advanced brain cancer and kidney failure and liver failure
and heart deterioration, one can still pray for his recovery, and
although it would be take a miracle, it may occur.  But does this mean
that if he just died, we can't pray that he live again, because that
would be a bigger miracle than in case a) in the previous sentence?  If
we can pray for one miracle, why can't we pray for the other, that the
dead man gets better, or that the C in the envelope and in all the
school records be changed to an A?  (BTW, I'm not thinking at all about
xianity and their resurrection stuff.  I was just looking for an example
of two levels of miracle.)

<meirman@...>  Baltimore, MD, USA


End of Volume 48 Issue 94