Volume 50 Number 36
                    Produced: Thu Dec  1  5:53:07 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Attitude toward Tefilah
         [Joel Rich]
Disclosure of Rabbi's Salary
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Hillel's Sig Line (Foxes and Fish)
         [A.J. Hyman]
Ibn Ezra -- last eight verses (2)
         [Mark Steiner, Elazar M. Teitz]
Internet Bans / Philosophy of Fences
         [Akiva Miller]
Prayer for the State of Israel
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Rabbi's needing other jobs
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 08:05:47 -0500
Subject: RE: Attitude toward Tefilah

> I don't agree that this should be our motivation. It is a privilege that
> we are allowed to present our subjective wishes which Chazal have
> formulated as the Shemonei Esrei but we should not routinely 'pester'
> HKBH (as opposed to sudden emergency situations). He will do for us
> whatever He knows is in our best long-term interests.
> Martin Stern

You're certainly entitled to this approach but all should be aware that
there is an entire school of thought around tfilla that HKB"H wants us
to continually "pester" him as well as search our souls and consider
what we are pestering him about. In your formulation why is what you
decide is an emergency situation any different than any other request,
doesn't "He will do for us whatever He knows is in our best long-term
interests."  still apply.

Joel Rich


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 07:07:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Disclosure of Rabbi's Salary

Jeanette Friedman wrote:

> 501-c3s need to reveal all their budgets in all their manifestations 
> and expenditures and revenues. You cannot bury the rabbi's salary--you 
> might just as well bury the rabbi.

To which Ari Trachtenberg replied:

> In fact, I suspect that the reasoning is exactly the opposite of this
> In the common case.  I submit that often the board is trying to hide
> how *large* the rabbi's salary is so that congregants do not get
> upset.  After all, a rabbi can always disclose his salary voluntarily
> if he feels he is being underpaid.

First, a point of information: Most section 501(c)(3) (i.e., charitable)
organizations with annual revenues of over $25,000 must annually file
with the IRS federal Form 990, which the charity must make available to
anyone who asks.  This form requires disclosure of, among many other
things, salaries of all "key employees".  However, the requirement to
file this form does not apply to "churches" and related entities,
e.g., shuls, and I would doubt that any shuls in fact file this form.  I
also know of no state laws that would require churches (or shuls) to
disclose their finances publicly to anyone.

Second, Ari may be right in many cases. An example: many years ago a
university's VP of finance called me for advice.  The labor union for
professors, who had long been denied wage increases on the ground that
the school had no money, had demanded to see the school's Form 990, and
the VP wanted to know whether he had to comply.  Of course he did, and
when the labor union found out the president's unconscionable salary,
the hue and cry forced him to quit.  However, in shuls that are tightly
controlled by the board or a narrow subset thereof, a rabbi might well
feel that his going public with his meager salary would get him fired.
Also, I know of another shul where, while the rabbi's official salary is
disclosed at membership meetings, the rabbi keeps the shul's books under
wraps.  I have no doubt that this is in part because he is actually paid
much less.


From: A.J. Hyman <ajhyman@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 20:35:37 -0500
Subject: Hillel's Sig Line (Foxes and Fish)

> Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
> <Sabba.Hillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water

I am fascinated by (and love) Hillel's sig line (above) ...

It raises so many questions; who is the fox? what really is "ashore"? Of
course, the literal meaning is that if we stay immersed in a
Torah-informed life, then we will survive, as a fish in water, and if we
leave a Torah-filled life, like the fish out of water, we will die. But
is the "shore" simply only the absence of Torah? Or is it something of
its own? Wearing my scientist's kippah for a moment, we recall that one
of God's evolutionary miracles might have been that land animals
actually evolved from sea animals that left the water and went ashore?
What then, does that do to Hillel's metaphor?

Like I said, I love your sig line Hillel - thanks :)

Avi Hyman, Toronto


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 09:32:56 +0200
Subject: RE: Ibn Ezra -- last eight verses

Thanks to R. Carmy for the bibliographical information (including his
own work).

Concerning the last 12 verses of the Torah, to me it seems indefensible
to claim that the doctrine that Moses didn't write them (down)can be
called a "sod," where "sod" is supposed to mean a doctrine that IE was
afraid to reveal.  My reason is simple--IE states EXPLICITLY that the
last 12 verses were written by Yehoshua!  What kind of a "sod" is this?
I would hold that IE holds that the "sod" remains even AFTER we hold, if
we do, that these verses were written by Yehoshua.  And the "sod" is, of
course, that the Torah closes with the comment that no prophet arose in
Israel of the stature of Moses.  This is a "problem" EVEN if we hold
that the last 12 verses of the Torah were written by Yehuoshua.  Since,
therefore, we have proven that the "sod" IE refers to cannot be the
alleged post-Mosaic authorship of certain verses, we are left with the
mystical interpretation of "sod", which is what it most often means.
This "sod" explains how the Torah can take the position of later
generations, though it was given to the Isralites in the desert.  In
fact, the statement that no prophet "ever" arose like Moshe, takes the
position of the END OF TIME.  IE has a quasi-kabbalistic theory of how
the Almighty knows, which has to do with the part/whole relation.  I
recommend going through some of these "sodot."

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 15:29:06 GMT
Subject: re: Ibn Ezra -- last eight verses

Russell J. Hendel writes:

> "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."

Because Dr. Hendel does not understand a Talmudic statement doesn't mean
"it doesn't make sense."  It means he doesn't make sense.

It is the epitome of disrespect for Chaza"l (the Talmudic sages) for
someone to state that it doesn't make sense.  Anyone with the barest
modicum of understanding of their greatness would have said that its
understanding escapes him, but never that it doesn't make sense.

As it happens, it makes excellent sense, and had Dr. Hendel bothered to
go to the Talmudic source, it would have been obvious to him, because
the reason is spelled out.  In fact, even a cursory reading of the
verses themselves should have made it obvious what the problem is in
saying that Moshe wrote them.

The last eight verses of the Torah are _not_ a prophecy. They do not
foretell a future event.  Moshe's death is reported as having taken
place.  The statement is not, "Hashem said Moshe would die and be buried
by the Almighty."  Rather, it says, "And Moshe died there . . . and He
buried him there."  If Moshe wrote those words, he was writing an
untruth, since it had not yet occurred; and untruth can never be part of
Torah. Therefore, one opinion in the Talmud states that it was not
Moshe, but Yehoshua, who recorded those eight verses, when they were
already true.

The four preceding verses, on the other hand, merely state that Hashem
showed Moshe the entire Land of Israel and told him, "I have shown to
you with your eyes, and you will not cross over to there." That Moshe
wrote such words causes no problem, since it records precisely the words
that Hashem told him.

I hope that Dr. Hendel will be more wary in the future about placing his
understanding above that of Chaza"l.



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 17:35:58 GMT
Subject: Re: Internet Bans / Philosophy of Fences

Stuart Pilichowski asked <<< So I get this nagging question that I think
bothers lots of God fearing people. Aren't I mature enough not to need
the fences the Rabbis have put on in (too?) many instances? Can't you
trust me not to carry my arba minim in public on shabbat? Or not to
re-string my guitar on shabbat? ... Can anyone suggest some sources or
offer some hashkafa here? >>>

I have two very different approaches. Choose whichever bothers you less

The first: Sure, we do trust *you* to be careful. But there are lots of
other people who we don't trust, and there's no way for a law to single
them out without including everyone. So we apply the ban to
everyone. It's very similar to the concept of a speed limit on the
highway: Sure, I trust *you* to be careful no matter how fast you drive,
but what about the other drivers? To insure public safety, we have to
apply the limit to everyone.

The second:

No, we don't trust you. You shouldn't even trust yourself. There's a
great story somewhere in the gemara (can someone find it for me?) about
two rabbis who were going somewhere. Two routes were available, but one
route passed by a certain house (of idolatry or of prostitution, I don't
remember which). Rabbi A said, "Let's go this way, and when we pass by,
we'll get a mitzvah for not entering." Rabbi B answered, "I don't want
the temptation, and I don't want the reward. We'll take the other

In other words (as I understand the story) there ARE people -- even
great rabbis, we're sadly forced to admit -- who do occasionally
stumble. They certainly didn't plan on stumbling, and 9999 of 10000 make
it through successfully, but a tiny risk DOES exist, and the reward is
simply not worth the gamble.

Accidents DO happen. Another rav in the gemara was confident that he
could learn on Shabbos by the light of an oil lamp without adjusting it,
and when he caught himself doing exactly that, he blessed those who had
banned (proposed to ban?) learning by such a light.

On the other hand, if we were to ban every single tiny risk, we couldn't
get out of bed in the morning. A line has to be drawn
somewhere. Reasonable people can disagree on whether the restrictions
are too tight or too loose; my only point is to demonstrate that we do
have a need for these fences.

Akiva Miller


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 11:01:04 EST
Subject: Prayer for the State of Israel

Joseph I. Lauer (MJv50n33) brings the following:

<<As part of "his research Rapel discovered another prayer composed by
Rav Herzog written for the soldiers of Israel's army during Israel's War
of Independence. The text of this prayer began with the same incantation
as does the current Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel, the
exhortation of 'Aveinu Shebashamayim' -- Our Father in Heaven. The
replication of the phrase is no mere coincidence, wrote Rapel. As the
prayer for the soldiers predates the Prayer for the Welfare of the State
of Israel, the replicated phrase demonstrates the consistency in Rav
Herzog's liturgical compositions.">>

The expression "Avinu she-bashamayim" is an old Hebrew expression. The
first time it appears in Mishnah Sota 9:15. The expression "Tzur Israel
veGo'alo" is likewise an old Hebrew expression. The first time it
appears in Talmud Yerushalmi 1:3.

Both of these expressions appear in the siddur way before Rabbi Herzog's
time, and one cannot attribute these expressions to Rabbi Herzog more
than to Rabbi David ben Baruch Kalonymus (1875-1962) in responsa
Afarkasta De-Anya who used them together "im lo Avinu she-Bashamayim
levado, Tzur Israel ve-go'alo" (Part II, Orach Chaim 31) The content of
the responsa suggests that it was written during World War II.

The phrase "Avinu shebashanyim" is common in the tefilah, and the
expression "Tzur Israel" was just used in the Israeli declaration of
independence a short time before that as the only reference to God in
the document, and so, every Bar Uryan, who was involved in the
discussion would have had expression "Tzur Israel" on his mind. (For a
photocopy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, see EJ, Vol. 5,
p. 1454, 4 lines from the end).

This is no proof at all.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 06:36:02 -0500
Subject: Rabbi's needing other jobs

> Jeanette's comment (that Rabbis sometimes get paid too little) touches
> on the Talmudic approach: Have a well paying job and be a Rabbi/Teacher
> on the side(like eg the Rambam) These days this is very
> practical---there are several professions (eg programmer) that you can
> do "as you have time" make a descent salary and still have lots of time
> left to devote to the community. This has been discussed before. Dont
> know if anyone is interested to do it again. One new point (just
> mentioned by me) is that times have changed and it is possible these
> days to both have a good job and be a Rabbi

I strongly disagree.  Everyone wants a full-time Rabbi at a part-time
salary.  "You'll ownly have to be available 2 hours per night for
shailehs" -- "Shabbos and Yom Tov, of course, but the rest of the week
you're 'free' to pursue other income."

Everyone expects (demands?) that their shul Rabbi is available to them
24/6 (24 hours / day, six days / week) and on Shabbos, too.  Even if we
ignore emergencies such as funerals and hospital visits this is not

Imagine if we told college professors (or fill in your own profession)
-- you know, you can take a part time job as a computer programmer in
order to feed your family and pay your rent -- and still be a college
professor, they'll be plenty of free time for you ....

I'm speaking specifically of a pulpit or congregational Rabbi.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 50 Issue 36