Volume 50 Number 90
                    Produced: Wed Jan  4  5:32:16 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dressing like "them"
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
A Hanuka/Purim-Mordechai puzzler (3)
         [Yakir, Alex Heppenheimer, Nathan Lamm]
         [Lisa Liel]
Is it antisemitic to say that Jews observe halacha?
         [Frank Silbermann]
Requiring separate phone lines
         [Daniel Wells]
"Right of the Lord"
         [Nathan Lamm]
The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions
         [Russell J Hendel]
Tzedaka during Tefillah
         [<StephenColman2@...> (Stephen Colman]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2006 12:35:22 +0200
Subject: Dressing like "them"

There's a story about a Litvak who mocked a Chassid, asking him: "Do you
think that Avraham Avinu wore a Shtreimel?"

"No, "said the Chassid, "but I can tell you how he decided what to wear."

"And how did he decide that?"

"He saw what the others were wearing and made a point of dressing
differently from them ..."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Yakir <yakirhd@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2006 14:05:43 +0200
Subject: re: A Hanuka/Purim-Mordechai puzzler

> From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
> . . .
> Given his vast prime ministerial power and the fact that Nebuchadnezzar
> was dead, I don't understand why Mordechai didn't convince Achashvayrus
> to let us Jews return to Israel en masse. Can anyone educate me?

IMHO the question is answered by perceiving one of the messages of the
Purim story - that the liberation of the Jews while still in the
Diaspora is limited. Their power and freedom is not as real as it seems
(a central Purim message), it is limited by the real circumstances in
which they find themsleves and prevailing interests.

Thus - the great salvation was that they were "permitted" (!) to defend
Thus - some of the answers given to why no Hallel on Purim are "akati
avdei Ahasverous" (still servants of Ahasuerous), and "it did not happen
in Israel".

See also beginning of Masechet Rosh HaShana (don't have exact daf right
now) where Daryavish (descendant of Ahasverosh) who DID allow the return
and supported rebuilding the Temple, including financial support, was at
first considered a "tzaddik" but later as a "rasha". According to Tosfot
not because he changed but because the later realization that he was
acting out of self-interest and far from acting in a way "good for the

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 11:10:14 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: A Hanuka/Purim-Mordechai puzzler

In MJ 50:88, Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi wrote:

> Mordechai was appointed prime minister by the king, and thus
> was the second in command of some 120 lands. This kingdom was
> quite powerful.
> According to Jewishencyclopedia.com, the Targum Sheni (to
> Esth. ii. 6) states that Mordecai, after having been carried
> away by Nebuchadnezzar, returned to Jerusalem, and was again
> deported by Nebuchadnezzar in the second captivity (comp. II
> Kings xxiv. 14 et seq.; xxv. 11, 21).
> Given his vast prime ministerial power and the fact that
> Nebuchadnezzar was dead, I don't understand why Mordechai
> didn't convince Achashvayrus to let us Jews return to Israel
> en masse. Can anyone educate me?

Actually, there had already been a mass return to Israel some years
earlier: following his conquest of the Babylonian empire, Koresh (Cyrus)
had granted permission for the Jews to return to their land and to
rebuild the Beis HaMikdash. However, he later rescinded this edict due
to slanderous reports from the Samaritans that the Jews were preparing
to revolt and form an independent state; the rebuilding remained
suspended for the next eighteen years, which includes all of
Achashverosh's reign.  (The entire episode is described in Ezra
chs. 1-4.) So to reword the question a bit: why couldn't Mordechai
convince Achashverosh to _re_authorize the return and to allow work on
the Beis HaMikdash to continue?

The answer basically hinges on two points:

* Achashverosh's personality. True that after Haman's execution he was
better disposed towards the Jews, but after all, he remained the same
wicked person ("'Achashverosh, the same is Achashverosh': he persisted
in his wickedness from beginning to end" - Megillah 11a). Esther had had
a hard enough time convincing him to rescind (or rather overrule)
Haman's edict of annihilation, and later it took Divine intervention to
get him to agree to an extra day of self-defense in Shushan (Megillah
16b); it would have been pushing their luck to try to get him to agree
to much more.

* Government policy. Achashverosh himself had earlier taken seriously
the Samaritans' charge that allowing unrestricted Jewish emigration to
Israel would lead to revolt and to the breakup of his empire (Ezra
4:6ff). Even if Achashverosh had become a righteous person, Mordechai
might well have felt that it would be unwise to ask him to change this
policy. [We might compare this with the situation, five hundred years
later, of Rebbi (R' Yehudah HaNassi) and Antoninus: while Antoninus
personally was righteous and well disposed to any request of Rebbi's, we
don't find Rebbi asking for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, or to
allow the Sanhedrin to move back to Yavneh or anywhere else in Judea. On
the contrary, in Rebbi's times, they were forced to move the place of
Kiddush HaChodesh to the Galilee (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 1:2). Granted
that the analogy is not perfect, since Antoninus had to contend with a
hostile Senate (Avodah Zarah 10a), it still goes to show that Jewish
"pull" can go only so far when there is a conflicting governmental

Ultimately, even after Achashverosh was dead and his son and successor
Daryavesh (Darius) reigned, we don't find Mordechai - or for that
matter, Darius' mother, Esther - trying to use their official positions
to influence him in this regard. It took the interference of a Persian
official, Tatnai, to get Darius to look for Cyrus' old edict and to
reissue it (Ezra chs. 5-6), though of course it's possible that
Mordechai, Esther, and others worked behind the scenes to help make it

Kol tuv,

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 06:13:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: A Hanuka/Purim-Mordechai puzzler

Charles Halevi asks why Mordechai didn't ask Achashverosh to let the
Jews return to Israel. The simple answer is that the permission had
already been given, in the days of Cyrus, at least twenty (and possibly
many more) years before. The vast majority of Jews chose not to return.

It is said that permission to build the Beis HaMikdash (somewhat
post-facto) *did* come as a result of the events of Purim, and the
return of Ezra and Nechemiah also came after that point.

Nachum Lamm


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 08:11:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Homosexuality

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> on 2/1/06 9:52 am, Lisa Liel <lisa@...> wrote:
>>> I would be interested in sources either supporting or refuting 
>>> your claim that homosexual thoughts may be permitted in 
>>> separation from (male) homosexual actions.
>> With all due respect, don't you have that backwards?  Ha-motzi
>> mi-chaveiro, alav ha-raayah.
>With all due respect to Lisa, this principle only applies to monetary
>matters (mamonot) not religious prohibitions (issurim).

True, but I was using the phrase figuratively.  Perhaps I should have
stuck to the English, "The burden of proof is on someone who claims
there to be an issur."  Mostly English, anyway. <grin>



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 08:47:53 -0600 (CST)
Subject:  Is it antisemitic to say that Jews observe halacha?

Richard Schultz <schultr@...> :
> ...Which demonstrates that (at least on yom tov) they are
> obeying the halakhic rules about not dressing like goyim ...
Ben Katz:
> Jews are often depicted in unusual headgear to differentiate them
> from non-Jews in medieval art as a mild form of antisemitism.

So we have halachic rules requiring us to wear clothes that distinguish
ourselves from goyim, but it's (a mild form of) antisemitism for
gentiles to say we do this???

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 16:32:55 +0200
Subject: Requiring separate phone lines

It may be difficult for many of us ingrained with secular values to
comprehend this guy's attitude, but in essence he is just applying the
mishna in Pirke Avot which says

'Al tarbeh sicha im ha-Isha'
Don't speak to a woman more than is absolutely necessary.

And how do we know what the limits are?

In Eruvin 53b, there is the story of Yossi HaGalili asking for
directions from Bruriah, the wife of Rebbi Meir:

B'ezer derech nelech LeLud - Which way do we go to Lud?

Bruriah answered him:

"Fool! Didn't the Chachamim say 'Al tarbeh sicha im ha-Isha' -don't
speak to a woman more than is absolutely necessary.

You should have just said "B'ezer LeLud - How to Lud"

So now this guy who calls on a phone is going to have to make small talk
with a woman (hello, Shalom etc) until he can access his male

Yes, for most of us it's an extreme position, but it has absolutely
nothing to do with hormone control.

How many of us regularly minimize verbal (and other) contact with
members of the opposite sex who are not close family members!



From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 06:28:23 -0800 (PST)
Subject: "Right of the Lord"

R' Meir Wise points to the concept of the "Right of the Lord" as the
reason for certain practices relating to marriage.

I recall reading that, in fact, fictional depictions not withstanding,
such a concept never existed. Of course, people may have *thought* it
existed, perhaps in older times if no longer in their own, and so
certain practices reflect that belief.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2006 22:41:37 -0500
Subject: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

Tom thanked me (v50n86) and raises some questions. The first question is
why shouldnt the blanket Biblical prohibition of "acting like the
Egyptians" prohibit us from setting up agencies like FEMA.

Good question. The best answer I can think of uses the Rabbi Ishmael
Rule of CONTEXT (On the Rashi website I call it the PARAGRAPH
rule). This rule is very often overlooked but can solve alot of
problems. The BIBLICAL PARAGRAPH/CHAPTER Lv 18 says "Dont do like the
Egyptians...no incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality,..don't act
like them..."  Consequently the context is avoid the sexual excesses
common in Egypt and Canaan. So it is reasonable to call Lesbianism an
excess but not call setting up an agency like fema an excess.

The second question was about the punishments for violating these laws.
The Rambam answers this: The prohibited full relations mentioned in Lv18
are listed as punishable by death or extinction (in Lv20).

The prohibition of DONT COME NEAR is a negative prohibition with a
specific act--hence it is punishable by lashes. (This is a standard rule
about negative prohibitions for specific acts)

Finally the prohibition of DONT ACT LIKE THE EGYPTIANS is a negative
GENERAL ALL INCLUSIVE prohibition.  The general rule about negative
general prohibitions is that there is no lashes (Biblically) or fines
for them.

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


From: <StephenColman2@...> (Stephen Colman
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 08:29:00 EST
Subject: Re: Tzedaka during Tefillah

>Another great thing about my shul is that the schnorers don't seem to
>know it exists so they hardly ever show up during davening...
>definitely a big advantage to davening there.

Another way to look at this ? It is a mitzvah to give Tzedaka, and by
meshulochim ('schnorer' is really not a bechovodik way of describing
them) coming round to the shul, it means that you can fulfil this
mitzvah without any effort at all on your behalf - what a wonderful
institution !! No cheques to write, envelopes to address, postage to pay
etc etc. Yes there are disadvantages, and the shuls I frequent have a
rule that prohibits meshulochim collecting between borachu and end of
amidah which helps minimise disturbances (and Thursday is dedicated to
local Tomchei Shabbos collections only). Gone are the days when a local
(ie London and not overseas) Chasiddishe Yeshiva out in Hertfordshire
'taught' their young charges the art of collecting. A minibus would pull
up outside the shul and a whole troupe of very young (and very rude)
chasissishe bochurim (probably aged no more than 13 or 14) would pour
out and spread themselves out throughout the minyan with total disregard
for the mispallelim and where they were up to in their tefillos. They
would jingle a handful of coins in your face and mutter something
unintelligible which sounded like collecting for a poor family - They
did not divide up the shul amongst themselves - but each boy went round
the whole shul - causing chaos, very disturbed tefillos and much ill
feeling. The boys actually believed they were fulfilling a tremendous
mitzvah in collecting tzedoka. I believe this was stopped when the
various kehillos demanded from the Rosh Yeshiva that they rein in their
boys before they would be harmed by irate mispallelim.


End of Volume 50 Issue 90