Volume 49 Number 52
                    Produced: Thu Aug 11 21:45:12 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

an Aramaic answer
         [Reuben Rudman]
Homosexuality: how to act vs. what to think
         [Sarah Beck]
Kavodike Davening  (was  Visitors in shul)
         [Reuben Rudman]
Personal Attack
         [R E Sternglantz]
Personal attacks and homosexuality as a threat to family
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Separation of Church and State (3)
         [Lisa Liel, Lisa Liel, Lisa Liel]
Visitors in shul (4)
         [Nahum Hurvitz, Menashe Elyashiv, Carl Singer, Carl Singer]


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 14:45:36 +0300
Subject: Re: an Aramaic answer

At the risk of stepping into the discussion between the two
mathematicians (and Talmidei Chachamim), Ari Trachtenberg and Elazar M.
Teitz, who are using math instruction as an analogy for the formal
teaching of Aramaic, I would like to suggest that they are arguing at
cross purposes.  There are two aspects to the knowledge one has of the
grammar of a language: naturally acquired and formally studied. On the
one hand, the level of Aramaic "grammar" which needs to be learned in
order to properly understand Gemara is very basic and fundamental.  For
example, one should know if the word in question (assuming that the root
vocabulary is known) is singular or plural, if it refers to him or her
or them, if it is in the past, present or future tense, etc.  Without
having the ability to make these distinctions, then it is impossible to
understand Gemara properly.  Knowledge of this sort is acquired by a
Talmid Chacham without it necessarily being studied formally, just as
most of us intuitively (through proper usage and reading the right sort
of printed material) acquire an intuitive knowledge of English grammar.
However, most of today's students (even in Israel) have no naturally
acquired knowledge of Aramaic.  On the other hand, the study of formal
grammar, parsing of sentences, writing Aramaic compositions and speaking
Aramaic requires a much more advanced and formal study of the language.
That is probably not needed in order to understand Gemara.  These two
distinguished gentlemen seem, to me, to be including both aspects of the
study of Aramaic in their discussion of this topic, with each one
emphasizing a different aspect of the study of grammar.

Reuben Rudman


From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 12:05:37 -0400
Subject: Homosexuality: how to act vs. what to think

Mordechai writes: 

> Can someone on this list name a classicist who denies the connection
> in classical Greek culture between homosexuality and pedophilia.  When
> we discuss this type of issue we need to remember that Judaism
> classically is the ideological opposition to Greek philosophy.  It
> should not come as a suprise to any of us that ancient Greeks embrace
> immorality.

The (poor excuse for a) classicist in me wants to come up with a couple
of nuanced paragraphs on Greek philosophy vis-a-vis Greek
homosexuality. But that would take us far afield.

Surely there are enough halachic grounds for objecting to mishkav
zachor, without connecting it to pedophilia, chochmat Yavan, or even to
modern American mores. (O tempora!) The issur(im), whatever their scope,
stand by themselves.

Le-aniyut da'ati, there are two central questions:

1) To what extent are we required to be dan lekhaf zechut re: two
publicly shomer mitzvot people who openly identify as a homosexual
couple and may, or may not, do prohibited things in private? How does
being d.l.k.z. (or not) affect our ACTIONS toward these 2 people?

2) Say we meet a Jew who says, "I fear the Lord and I keep all of the
mitzvot that I can, but I am unable to avoid this very grave aveirah."
How should we ACT toward him?

I hate to use the pop-Christian formulation, but much of what has been
said comes down to "love the sinner but detest the sin." Has this
discussion gone beyond that? Should we?

No one seems to have difficulty detesting the sin. We need to ask
ourselves: what is the halachically Jewish way to love the sinner? How
does the halacha require us to act? Once we (and the poskim) come up
with these guidelines, ask again: is my own conduct toward homosexuals
in accord with these rules? Would I want myself, my brother, or my
daughter to be treated this way?

Does anyone feel up to compiling a list of answers to (1) and (2) that
have been offered here on m-j? Nothing lengthy--just bullet points. We
may never agree in our thinking, but all of us in the halachic fold have
some areas of agreement when it comes to acting. Shabbat, kashrut,
niddah...and ahavat rei'echa?

Sarah Beck


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 14:57:19 +0300
Subject: Kavodike Davening  (was  Visitors in shul)

Talking about being dressed properly when davening - I have never
understood why people who would never daven without wearing a jacket,
feel it is proper to daven with only one arm in the jacket sleeve and
one sleeve of the jacket hanging loose.  Of course, I am referring to
davening while wearing Tefillin.  It seems to me, and that is what I
observed from my Rosh Yeshiva and what I have done, is that, after
putting on the Tefillin Shel Yad, one should then put the arm with the
Tefillin through the sleeve of the jacket.  At a very minimum, the
jacket should be draped over the shoulder of the person.  The sight of
people davening with kavana before the Al-mighty while having the jacket
buttoned across their chest with one sleeve dangling loose has always
mystified me (b'lashon n'ki'ya).  I imagine them meeting with a King or
the President of a country wearing a jacket in that manner.

Reuben Rudman                          


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:12:48 -0400
Subject: re: Personal Attack

I wrote a whole post responding to Mordechai's assertion that I had
personally attacked him, but then I deleted it, because this list is
really not an appropriate place for a discussion of the sexual mores of
the ancient Greeks.

I certainly did not mean my statement as an attack, and it wasn't even
directed to Mordechai specifically -- several posters have made similar
comments.  I apologize if you felt attacked.

Pointing to isolated details about the ancient or pre-modern past, out
of context, and then making broad generalizations on their basis about
the modern world is probably not a productive way to construct an
argument.  As someone with both training and experience is historical
research, this kind of "reasoning" pushes all of my buttons.  I
generally do not respond when people make posts of that nature.

But the difficult social status of the Torah-committed gay man and
lesbian, and the horror and tragedy of child sexual abuse, are both
extremely important contemporary issues facing the Torah community.
Manipulating statistics about the latter (see
http://www.darkness2light.org/docs/doj_statistics_2000.pdf for the US
Department of Justice's report on child sexual assault in the year 2000)
for the purpose of demonizing homosexuals (which is part of the agenda
of the far right Christian Fundamentalist organizations cited in
Mordechai's post -- and they do it because they use "homosexuals" as a
proxy for the political left), serves no useful purpose in a discussion
about Torah committed individuals -- or, for that matter, in a
discussion about child molestation.

I respectfully submit that people either continue the discussion of the
issue at hand, based on the premise that we are concerned with
Torah-observant and Torah-committed individuals, or drop it altogether.
I would imagine that there are plenty of other places on the internet to
rage against homosexuality in the context of bestiality, incest, and
pedophilia, if that's what you want to do.  There are plenty of ways of
expressing your disapproval of anything that might be construed as
"tolerance" that do not engage those matters.


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 08:50:29 -0400
Subject: RE: Personal attacks and homosexuality as a threat to family

OK, all you have shown here is that pedophiles have a higher rate of
engaging in same-sex molestation - that actually says NOTHING about the
proclivities of non-pedophile homosexuals.  So actually you have not in
any way supported your thesis that homosexuals are more likely
pedophiles or that there is some causitive or directional link between
being homosexual and being a pedophile.  But your citations do imply
(correctly) that the vast majority of pedophiles are men, so maybe we
can draw bogus conclusions about the sexual nature of all men.  Try this
one on for size: the vast majority of pedophiles are men - thus it is
men who are destroying the fabric of society and undermining the family
and good Christian values (I threw in that last part because you seem to
be fond of quoting right-wing Christian sources).

If you want to do some unbiased research why don't you go to the medical
literature and do it yourself rather than relying on a group
ideologically and irrationally committed to the elimination of both
homosexuals and Jews?



From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 07:50:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)

>>Neo-paganism is growing by leaps and bounds in this country.
>No, it's not. Evangelical Chrisitianity and Islam are.

I don't understand what you mean.  How does the growth of those
religions negate the growth of neo-paganism?

I stand by my claim.


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 08:02:25 -0400
Subject: Separation of Church and State

From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)

>Lisa Liel provides a rather alarming perspective on what would 
>happen if the Wall between Church and State is breached in this 
>country.  I must remind her that the "wall of separation" is based 
>on Constitutional case law, and is NOT found in the Bill Of Rights.

I know that's often claimed, but I don't think it's true.  There's been
a long assumption in this country that the only religion that counts is
Christianity.  Sort of like the assumption that women shouldn't vote or
that blacks weren't entirely human.

All of these ideas were just things that no one really thought about
until they were challenged.  The reality is that "In God We Trust" on
our money and "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are
absolutely an establishment of one (or two) religions over the rest.
The only reason they haven't been removed is that the public outrage by
people who are adherents of those religions is too great.

>From a First Amendment point of view, proclaiming God's existence is
certainly an establishment of a religious point of view.  It's a good
thing to do from a religious standpoint, but it's dangerous to us.

>What's more, she says, "Would you like to see 'In God and Goddess We 
>Trust' on your money if they (Neo Paganist) some day become a 
>majority?"  The logical problem is that it does say "In G-d we 
>trust" on our money currently and Lisa who calls for a full wall of 
>separation, not only acknowledges that such a phrase is acceptable, 
>she decries its alteration.  That is hugely inconsistent.

It would be, probably, if I'd done any such thing.  I don't think that
phrase is appropriate in that context, and I don't think that the
alteration I mentioned would be any more or less inappropriate.  I used
that example because I was aware that many people *here* would "decry"
such an alteration.

>Truth is the US is a religious country with many religious 
>traditions that do NOT challenge our freedom.

Indeed.  And it's much easier to accept them when they fit with our
religion.  Isn't that always the way?  But there are people in this
country whose religions are blatantly dismissed by the "religious
traditions" you're talking about.  The examples I gave were an attempt
to get you to imagine how you'd feel if those "religious traditions"
conflicted with Judaism.


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 08:05:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>

>>Would you like to see "In God and Goddess We Trust" on your money 
>>if they some day become a majority?  Would you like to see divorce 
>>made absolutely illegal, and remarriage prosecutable under bigamy 
>>laws, if Catholics become a majority?
>If the "church" ever took over in America it would be the Protestant

<blink> Okay... Michael, this isn't directed at you in particular, but
your response isn't the only one that's overly literalistic about this.
Suppose there were more Catholics than Protestants in the US, please,
and then think about the question again.  Would it be acceptable, to
your mind, if they were a large majority, for them to ban divorce?



From: Nahum Hurvitz <Nachum.Hurvitz@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:50:19 -0400
Subject: RE: Visitors in shul

'Welcome to Visitors' notice prominently displayed in the entrance hall
which would list such local customs so as to avoid such situations.

The Glen Avenue Shul in Baltimore does have such a sign displayed at
both main entrances to the men's section welcoming visitors and explains
that the minhag of the shul is that one person at a time says kaddish -
please see the gabbai if you need to say kaddish


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 16:20:16 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Visitors in shul

I announce in advance, that our minhag is to pray a usual Shaharit with
Talit & Tefilin on Tisha B'Av. Everyone understands that for those that
want the more common, there
are other places...

From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 07:59:45 -0400
Subject: Visitors in shul

> I daven in a yeshiva which does not tolerate anyone who even thinks of
> not following their minhagim in tfilah. In their summer camp many
> "outsiders" are unaware that only the shatz says magen Avos Friday
> night. If someone starts saying it out loud the whole Beis Medrash
> shushes them.

Wouldn't it be much more decorus (and more minchlich) when there are
many visitors to announce or somehow post that this is the minhag -- a
room full of sushers is no kovedik.f

Carl  A. Singer 

From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 08:08:05 -0400
Subject: Visitors in shul

Making a visitor feel welcome -- let's not forget this aspect.  I'm
currently at a conference in Florida.

The other day I walked into a strange shul and there was a small sign
that davening would be in the social hall (due to repairs ....)  A young
man walked up to me and asked me if I needed a siddur -- handing me his.
It's little things like that which make a visitor feel welcome.

We should try it sometimes.



End of Volume 49 Issue 52