Volume 50 Number 32
                    Produced: Wed Nov 30  5:38:51 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Disclosure of Rabbi's salary
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Going to shul with a cold or flu (3)
         [Rise Goldstein, Stuart Pilichowski, .cp.]
Ibn Ezra
         [Shalom Carmy]
Ibn Ezra -- last 8 verses
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [I. Balbin, Anonymous]
Takanot (was Internet Bans)
         [Martin Stern]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 12:32:35 +0200
Subject: Re: Disclosure of Rabbi's salary

<FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman) noted, on Mon, 28 Nov 2005 07:13:44

      You cannot bury the rabbi's salary--you might just as well bury
      the rabbi.  Why try to weasel your way out of paying him decently?

Since I have had little contact with American rabbis and their
congregants for the past several decades, I was wondering several things

What percentage of the rabbi's income derives from his salary, and what
percentage from the honoraria he receives for weddings, funerals and the

Should the synagogue board take into account this side income when
setting the rabbi's salary?

Do some synagogues perhaps forbid the rabbi from accepting such
honoraria, at least frpm members of that synagogue?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 22:00:45 -0500
Subject: RE: Going to shul with a cold or flu

Carl Singer wrote:

> In general the "me" question is whether or not I feel well enough to
> drag myself out of bed to go to shul.  But what about the tzibbor? (the
> "you" question.)  Should someone who has the cold or the flu stay home
> lest they pass along their condition?

Excellent question.  However, I would qualify it in a few ways.  First,
as an epidemiologist, I would note that, in practical terms, it matters
whether the "me" in question is a reasonably normal, mature adult, or a
little kid.  To wit: most reasonably normal adults have some sensitivity
to the need to practice reasonable infection control, and generally have
the knowledge and skills needed to do it.  That is, they are capable of
and attentive to careful handwashing, covering mouths when coughing, not
shaking hands, and generally respecting interpersonal space and
boundaries, especially when they know or suspect that they are
contagiously ill.  Yes, that still leaves germs from their hands on
siddurim, humashim, etc., but these often don't survive very long, let
alone in quantities sufficient to cause illness in most adult humans, on
surfaces exposed to air.  The considerations I've just articulated re
behavioral skills and controls are much less likely to hold with small
children, however.

Another consideration here, which distressingly many Torah-observant
Jews tend to ignore, is that one can't know whether someone in the
congregation has an abnormal immune system, whether because of HIV/AIDS
(yes, it *is* an issue in our ranks, and not only because there exist
individuals who, for whatever reasons, may be engaging in certain
behaviors contrary to particular halachot), chemotherapy, posttransplant
immunosuppressive medications, autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus
erythematosus, steroid-dependent asthma, diabetes, or any number of
other conditions.  Many observant Jews are heavily socialized to "stay
in the closet" about all medical issues because of shidduch (marriage
prospect) considerations, whether for themselves or for family members,
which contributes to the heavy denial that these things are, in fact,


> I've make it a point to thoroughly wash my hands when coming home from
> shul.  I'll let the physicians discuss the efficacy of doing so.

I'm not a physician and don't play one on TV, but I will say as an
epidemiologist that careful handwashing *should* protect most people,
most of the time, from most contagion.  Those with abnormal immune
systems are at elevated risk, but even for them handwashing is the
single best preventive.  If you're really worried, keep a bottle of
liquid hand sanitizer (e.g., Purel--but the much cheaper store brands
work just as well) in your car for weekday use, and/or in your cubby at
shul for Shabbat/yom tov use.  Just beware that many of these are
ethanol based and therefore unlikely to work very well for Pesah.

> But the question remains, should people who may be contagious go to
> shul?  Do they have a heter to daven at home, and miss laining, based on
> they're potential impact on others?  How about an issur to restrain from
> going to shul when so stricken?

I'll leave discussion of the letter(s) of issurim and heteirim to those
with better credentials than mine in those areas.  Based on my own
professional knowledge, I will say that, while the risk is generally low
to most in attendance, esp. if they wash their hands carefully and don't
touch eyes or put hands in mouth with unwashed hands, I don't disagree
that the best part of valor for someone who knows or suspects that he or
she is contagiously ill might indeed be to stay home.  With no offense
intended toward the many conscientious, responsible parents on the list,
I would respectfully add a heartfelt plea not to bring to shul small
children whom they know or suspect to be contagiously ill.

Rise Goldstein (<rbgoldstein@...>)
Silver Spring, MD

From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 16:34:03 +0000
Subject: Re: Going to shul with a cold or flu

Why am I annoyed at even the question? Isn't it basic human decency to
stay home when sick? Period.

What's the hava ameena to go to shul when sick? You might make others
sick and you'll probably make yourself sicker. By going to shul only
your wife might benefit and then only in the short run.....

I think this one is even beyond the fifth shulchan aruch......

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel

From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 18:28:54 -0800
Subject: RE: Going to shul with a cold or flu

My rule is that if I would go to (or am coming from) work then I go to
shul EXCEPT ...

The exception being if the minyan is at the Old Age Home, then if I'm
feeling more "down than up" I don't go.


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 10:34:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Ibn Ezra

> From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>

>>From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
>>I think I have made my view clear on Ibn Ezra, just one closing posting
>>in response to two points made by Dr. Katz:
>>1. The final verses of the Torah are the subject of a dispute by Hazal
>>themselves--Moshe writing of his own death.  IE just took sides.
>>Otherwise, I believe that both Hazal and IE believed in the Mosaic
>>"authorship" of the Torah (meaning that Moshe wrote it down by
>          IE is not just "taking sides".  He is disagreeing with both
> opinions in the Talmud (ie whether Moshe wrote the last 8 verses of the
> Torah bedema or whether Yehoshua wrote them) and stating that Yehoshua
> wrote the last 12 verses of the Torah.  And, at least in these
> instances, that is what IE is referring to when he talks about the sod
> hashnem asar -- he is not referring to mysticism).  And if you do not
> believe me, this is how Wiser (in the Mosad Harav Kook edition of IE),
> Tzaphnat Paaneach (in the 14thy century) and many others (again, I refer
> to Marc Shapiro's article in Torah Umada Journal or his book on the 13
> Ekarrim for the references) read IE.

1. Re last verses in the Torah: Ibn Ezra is expanding the Gemara's 8
verses to 12. Some frum people would be shocked at this expansion;
others would not.

2. On the meaning of sod-- the idea of interpreting this as post-Mosaic
authorship derives from the 14th century Joseph Bonfils (Tsafnat Paneah
supercommentary on Ibn Ezra) and is indeed embraced by Weiser. Dr.
Steiner's position is championed in the great Ibn Ezra supercommentary
Mehokekei Yehuda.

3. I am tempted to defer to the august authority of the Encyclopedia of
Religion article on Biblical Exegesis, which presents both positions
without further comment. But then I recall that I wrote that article


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 22:49:35 -0500
Subject: RE: Ibn Ezra -- last 8 verses

I disagree with Ben. I dont think IE was DISAGREEING with Chazal. He was
rather illustrating the issues in their statement. One view is that
Moses wrote the whole Torah period. The other view is that he didnt
write about his death and hence Joshua would have written the last 8

All IE is doing is showing WHERE THIS logic leads. IE in effect says:
"Well if you dont think Moses wrote the last 8 verses of the Torah
prophesizing about his death maybe he didnt write the last 12 verses
since the 4 verses before the last 8 speak how Israel dwelt in
tranquility in the land of honey and that didnt happen till the time of

If you like (I do!) IE is being satirical. He is saying: You dont
believe Moses could prophesy about his own death? Then why believe he
could prophesy about anything else such as the last 4 verses before the
last 8 verses where he prophesized about the conquest of Israel. Where
do you draw the line?

And now that I have defended the IE let me ask his question: What **is**
the problem with saying that moses wrote the last 8 verses of the Torah?
What **should** it bother anybody? Why shouldnt other prophesies bother
people such as the last 12 verses?

I for one never understood this Talmudic statement and I regard IE as
illuminating why the statement doesnt make sense.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.rashiyomi.com/


From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 13:07:24 +1100
Subject: Re: RASHBAM

> From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
> Someone recently cited the Rashbam as roughly stating "I simply give
> the simple meaning of the text which might deviate from the talmudic
> meaning.  But Talmudic law does hold."

I have been a big fan of the Sefer Hazikaron supercommentary on Rashi.
If my memory serves me correctly, he stated that his view is that Rashi
has a hierarchy and tries to bring the Ma'amar Chazal which is closest
to the Pshat.

(He also says that in places where Rashi says "Ani Lo Bosi Elo Lefaresh
Pshuto Shil Mikro [I only came to explain the simple meaning of the
verse] is referring to *that particular passuk* and not to other

I can see a similar idea in respect of Pshat and a Ma'amar Chazal being
closest to Pshat in the words of the Rashbam that you quote, and don't
have a problem with that.

I do not have a problem with OTHERS referring to the Rashbam's comments
on Midrash and allegedly having little respect for it "as a
result". This is a problem with others, not the Rashbam, even if it were

Maybe I was spoilt, but my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav C.Y. Goldvicht, Z"L spent
most of his Droshos analysing Midroshim, and his unique way of
interweaving Chassidus and the Ba'alei Mussar with a Midrash is still a
source of great inspiration for me!  Then again, Rav Goldvicht was
perhaps unique in that he spent quality time one on one with Gedolim
from opposite spectrums --- The Griz vs The Gerrer Rebbe.

From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 03:49:03 GMT
Subject: RASHBAM

Vol. 50, #29 contained an attack on one of the great Rishonim (early
Talmud commentators), the Rashbam, declaring him to be intellectually
and morally deficient and guilty of inflicting harm to Judaism in some
of the remarks in his commentary on Chumash.

Such an attack, I believe, attests more to the hubris and conceit of the
one making the statement than it does about the Rashbam.  To feel that
one is competent to pass judgment on one of the Torah giants of all time
bespeaks of a mind-boggling sense of self-importance.

One wonders if the writer has ever had the opportunity (and ability) to
study the Rashbam's commentary on the Talmudic tractate Bava Batra.  Had
he done so, he would have realized that every word the Rashbam uses is
measured and precise, and the depth of his meaning cannot be grasped
from a casual and superficial reading of his words.

Had the writer been a Torah scholar, he would have known that the proper
attitude towards a rishon is to attribute what seems to be a mistake to
incomplete understanding on the part of the writer, rather than a gross
error on the part of the rishon.  Does he really believe that the
Rashbam was unaware of the writer's argument? Does he not entertain the
possibility that the Rashbam was fully aware of the arguments the writer
raised, but rejected them?

The writer should be urged to follow the dictate of our sages:
"Chachamim, hizaharu b'divreichem." (Wise men, be cautious with your


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 10:38:15 +0000
Subject: Re: Takanot (was Internet Bans)

on 28/11/05 10:32 am, Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...> wrote:
> Klal Yisroel has a long history of communal takanos. The takanos against
> ostentatious weddings that goes back to the days of the Noda Biyehudah
> is one that comes to mind.

These takanot go back far earlier than the Noda Biyehudah. If I am not
much mistaken they were part of Takanot Shum (Speyer, Worms, Mainz)
before the time of Rashi over a thousand years ago and were repeated
over the ages especially in Renaissance Italy.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 50 Issue 32