Volume 50 Number 67
                    Produced: Wed Dec 21  5:05:22 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Death Penalty
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Syllabus Construction was RASHBAM (2)
         [Russell Jay Hendel, Avi Feldblum]
Tzur Yisrael
         [Russell Jay Hendel]


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 00:48:01 GMT
Subject: Death Penalty

A few comments to Tzvi's questions v50n64 on Jews on a jury.

First, Tzvi is correct that non-jews must observe 7 laws, one of which
is COURTS. However there is a controversy among the Jewish authorities
whether the non-Jewish obligation to have courts is an obligation on
IMPLEMENTATION or ENACTMENT.  According to some Rishonim non Jews are
obligated to accept Jewish commercial and tort law (except for those
places where there are exceptions) and the COURT obligation is to
IMPLEMENT the already existing law. According to other Rishonim the
obligation is to BOTH create a legal system and implement it.

It follows that if non-jews have an obligation to create a legal system
(or an allowance) then there is nothing wrong with sitting on a jury. On
the other hand if non-jews have no such obligation there might be a

For example: Under certain circumstances CONSPIRACY (or hiring to kill)
is a capital death-penalty crime. As far as I know there is no death
penalty in Jewish law (since "deputazation" of crime is not
recognized). I can CERTAINLY understand how someone who provides
explosives and hires someone to suicide kill a building SHOULD be put to
death but I dont believe that Jewish law recognizes the deputazation to
kill as a capital crime.

On the other hand if Jewish law ALLOWS non jews to make enactments there
would be nothing wrong with a Jew sitting on a jury and following such
an enactment.

Another point worth mentioning here is Rambam Theft 5: Laws enacted by
non Jews should be consistent.

Since i am writing about a death penalty I should add I simply cited one
or two sources and expect others to discuss it. But i am reasonably
certain that some of the above issues if not yet formulated correctly
can be so formulated

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


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 01:45:38 GMT
Subject: Syllabus Construction was RASHBAM

Back in v50n54 I asked how others allocated their time when they studied
and how others made choices on whom they would study. I made several
other comments which were picked up and answered---but NO ONE ANSWERED
my original question. Here is a citation from Avi agreeing with me (or
one part of what I said)

>I very clearly did not say, as Russall is attributing to me, that we do
>not have the right / obligation to choose which reshon or acharon we
>want to spend time studying. ...
> I think it is obvious to all that we all make choices on
>how we spend our time that we allocate to learning, and chosing what we
>learn is one of those items.

Well how about it? If we all make choices on what we learn why can't we
discuss the principles used. My point (and people overlooked this) is
that the METHODS OTHER PEOPLE use to make CHOICES may in fact be the
basis for a philosophy when followed consistently and give advice on how
we should take what certain commentaries say. I really dont see a way
out of this...if people are making choices based on reasons (As Avi
seems to agree) then IN EFFECT they are REJECTING some opinions and
accepting others. Why can't this be discussed. It is highly possible
that it will emerge that some commentaries never (or hardly ever) make

As long as I am responding to criticisms of my posting let me make some
more comments. Sam stated we shouldnt be censoring Rishonim.  I don't
believe we should burn books or prohibit availablity (That to me Is
censoring). But I do believe that we are and should make choices...I
think when we spell out the reasons we will find that IN EFFECT we are
permanantly avoiding certain Rishonim. BUT WE CANT SETTLE THIS MATTER

Let me make answer one more citation: Avi states
> But I do not see how one of us can have the audacity to say that
> reshon A is correct and that reshon B is wrong.

Well I am not so sure that that is what I mean. I tried to find a good
example (URL below). Gn25-22d says that Rivkah went TO SEEK GOD. SEEKING
GOD could either refer to a) SEEKING thru PRAYER or b) SEEKING thru
PROPHECY.  Rashi and Ramban have a controversy. Rashi says one thing and
then the Ramban brings a slew of verses showing the exact obvious. The
first thing I do is point out that Rashi had to know the verses Ramban
is citing. I then cite a slew of verses supporting Rashi's view. Finally
I cite a group of verses where SEEK GOD refers to BOTH PRAYER and

What do I conclude? I still believe the text had ONE UNIQUE meaning. I
could equally say Rashi and Ramban is wrong or I could say they are both
right.  The verse CLEARLY refers to SEEK as meaning BOTH PRAYER and
PROPHECY (e.g she prayed for enough courage to seek prophetic advice and
did so).

Now let me answer Avi's questions? "How can I have the audacity to say
this?" Simple--my audacity (if that is what you want to call it) comes
from LISTS of verses. Everything on the Rashi website is a LIST. I have
LISTS supporting SEEK as meaning PRAYER and PROPHECY--hence I have the
CONFIDENCE (or call it audacity) to be SURE that SEEK in this verse
means BOTH prayer and prophecy. I ***am*** saying something new.  I am
saying that when Rashi and Ramban say that "SEEK ONLY MEANS..." that
they are exaggerating and dont mean it. But after reading the above
paragraph I think you will understand why my position is reasonable and
why it is unreasonable to use emotional terms like AUDACITY. Looking up
a list is not AUDACIOUS...it is conservative and mature! Saying That
Rashi and Ramban were each aware of the other's point of view and the
verses supporting it is not DISRESEPCTFUL but rather RESPECTFUL to the
commentary process.

Enough said. I have explained my viewpoint. I have also pointed out that
I am willing to be flexible on terms like censorship. My real point is
that we should discuss our criteria. Once that Happens I think the
conclusions I stated (that eg Rashbam has no pedagogic usefullness) MAY
be a consequence. Even if it is not a consequence I think the discussion

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gn25-22d.htm

From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005
Subject: Syllabus Construction was RASHBAM

As far as I can see, the only thing I have agreed to in Russell's
discussion on this topic is a fact that I view as self evident - that we
make choices on how we allocate our learning time. I think I disagree
with almost every substancive point or question he brings. I'm unsure
how interested I am in the method people use to determine how to
allocate their time. I have no great desire to analyze and document what
my response to that question is, as I do not think there is a clear and
well defined answer to it. Sometimes it is driven by something I see in
the text, and then will look at different sources to see if I find one
that triggers a positive response when I skim it, leading to more in
depth study. In that case, if it is a text from the chumash, I will
usually start with the commentaries brought by the Toras Chaim chumash,
and possible then look at Abravanel, Malbim and Hamak Daver. It might be
based on s shuir I am attending and then based either on sources given
or searched for on the topic.

What I think is clearly true for me, and based on the responses to date
on the list, I see no support for the now several times repeated
assertion by Russell, that "It is highly possible that it will emerge
that some commentaries never (or hardly ever) make contributions."
Russell has explicitly listed Rashbam in that catagory, and those of us
who have answered have stated clearly that we find that Rashbam is a
source we use and makes contributions. So irrespective of his desire to
understand our methodology, the end result is a clear rejection of his
stated position.

I continue to support my position that it is disrespectful to make
statements such as "Rashbam has no pedagogic usefullness", and in terms
of the particular example brought in the above example, I do not think
that your position is one I agree with and saying, in general, that when
Rashi and Ramban say "X", they must really mean "Y", with support from
your lists, is pretty unreasonable to me. I much prefer to support a
position that Rashi and Ramban disagree with each other. It is
meaningful to understand what drove Rashi to interpret the sources in
one way and Ramban in a second and possibly Ibn Ezra in a third etc. Is
it just their understanding of the item at hand or is there possibly a
more general disagreement occuring.

I have said more than enough on this topic. You are free to make your
lists and use them in your interpretations of Chumash and the reshonim,
and I am free to ignore them.

Avi Feldblum


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 01:21:22 -0500
Subject: Re: torahlight.com

At 05:51 AM 12/16/05,  Art Werschulz wrote:

>(1) I originally mistyped this address as www.toralight.org.  It turns out
>     that torahlight.org is a Messianic website.  Does anybody have
>     suggestions about what one can do about such fraudulence?

1) A year or two ago, I suggested, in order to speed up searches,
keeping a list of good Jewish sites, and having a webpage that would
search only those (like torah.org, aish.org and a few dozen others) ,
and no one here liked the idea.  I didn't reply but I didn't think the
objections were that good.

2) It occurs to me now that one could also probably write a search
engine filter, a plug-in, that would limit searches to those good sites,
but users might have to keep the filter and the data for the filter on
their own machines.

3) The same thing would work here for filtering OUT bad sites, but the
filter and the data for the filter would again have to be on our own
machines, and would probably have to be updated pretty regularly, since
there are more bad sites than there are good sites.

The same program could do 2 and 3 at the same time, and the user could
either exclude all known bad sites and accept all others, or he could
include only known good sites, which would have the effect of excluding
the bad ones.

Optional: A clever guy could come up with settings in the middle for
special purposes, such as accepting known good O sites, and maybe a list
of Israeli government sites, or authentic C or R sites for research, or
attempting-to-be-honest secular sites.  The filter could insert labels
or icons into each entry on the search results page so the user would
know which category they were in.  It would only take one person to
classify these sites, and if he described the method he used
(self-identification, accuracy) and said these were his personal
opinions, I don't think there would be a legal problem.  If some site
objected, I would expect it would most likely be because the person in
charge ignored the site or actually misjudged the site and he'd be happy
to correct his mistake, in some cases if they provided a site map with a
list of all the current pages (so that messy sites wouldn't be judged
just by their home pages, but by all their pages.  I really don't expect
messy sites to complain however.  Messies are used to being called wrong
by Jews, and they find their "successes" not by fighting with us, but by
going after the sick, the weak, the isolated, and the old, like wolves
around a flock of sheep.

Unfortunately I don't have the knowledge to write this myself.

>(2) When I tried to visit www.torahlight.com, I got an error msg

I just tried it and it worked.  There was probably a very temporary
problem.  Browser and web error messages often aren't written that well,
implying a permanent problem when it is only a temporary one.  For
dial-up, the message can sound like there is no such url, when in fact
it's only that the phone connection is broken and I haven't noticed that



From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 00:52:09 GMT
Subject: RE:  Tzur Yisrael

To quickly answer Immanuel it is well known that there are no aetheists
in fox holes. I am not so sure if any of secularists really did not
believe in God (What they didnt believe in was letting Jewish courts run
any part of the state (including marriage)). I think a famous quote of
Ben Guryon (a well known secularist) is "The Bible is our mandate."

It IS possible that the expression Tzur yisrael was chosen so as not to
TURN OFF real aetheists (Hence there might be basis for the story). But
I doubt that any of the founding fathers were aetheists or were ashamed
of mention of God.

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


End of Volume 50 Issue 67