Volume 51 Number 10
                    Produced: Mon Jan 23  5:38:52 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chupas Nida
         [Deborah Wenger]
Does Torah Study Prevent Forbidden Thoughts
         [Russell J Hendel]
Eiver Min Hachai and Adam
         [Stuart Feldhamer]
Forbidden Thoughts
         [W. Baker]
Idolators and Hindus
         [I. Balbin]
         [N Miller]
New Online: Learn Hebrew Verbs
         [Jacob Richman]
Reasons for not saying Tachanun


From: Deborah Wenger <debwenger@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 08:16:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Chupas Nida

Bracha Sebrow wrote:
> But the reality is that it is nobody's business about the kallah's
> status.  That's why people go out of their way to not do things so that
> no one would be able to tell that the kallah is a niddah, such as not
> allowing couples to hold hands after the chupah.  Many yeshivos have
> this minhag.

OTOH, when my brother was engaged (20+ years ago), he learned in his
chatan class at his yeshiva that he _should_ specifically take his
kallah's hand after the chupah to demonstrate to everyone that she was
not nidah (assuming she wasn't, of course) and that it was OK to proceed
to yichud.

Deborah Wenger


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 09:16:14 -0500
Subject: Does Torah Study Prevent Forbidden Thoughts

The above was advocated by me but challenged (well not actually
challenged; just a statement that it doesn't work for HIM) by Tzvi I
actually have quite a bit of experience in this so let me share it.

First: We all know that theoretically Torah STudy is suppose to PREVENT
forbidden thoughts. That is explicitly stated in the Talmud.

Second: I have experience with Math contests. (They also---any type of
engaged thinking---prevent or diminish forbidden thoughts). The point to
emphasize here is that there is a communal aspect to a Math contest
which doesnt always happen with a 1-1 chevruta. Some people need the
COMMUNAL aspect.

Finally let me go over some sad stories I have encountered. Like all
people I know people who have "left" Some simply are not religious; some
are intermarried etc.I speak to them and ask them why and when they tell
me of needs not being fulfilled I ask why also. Here are some points
worth noting I emphasize that these are not "Russell's Theories"--rather
they are (anecdotal)statements of people I have spoken to who claim that
is why they left

Story 1: A few years ago I knew someone who lived with a non-jewish
graduate student (She dumped him as soon as she got her phd and my take
was that she only wanted the security of a boyfriend during graduate
school). He is Jewish; goes to shule; doesnt currently live with anybody
and does want to marry someone Jewish. When I asked him "why" the
conversation dwelt around the fact that he found the relationship
"intellectually challenging"; he found no similar "challenges" in his
current Jewish studies.(More on that below) or in his current Jewish
female friends.

Story 2: Sometimes people dont intend to leave. This person simply went
to graduate school, got a prestegious degree and became involved with a
different circle of friends. Later he intermarried. When I asked "why" I
was told about the "arbitrariness in learning Talmud."

Story 3: This person did not leave Judaism or intermarry or live with
someone. But they did use to learn alot. (If you must know they are now
married and live in lakewood). When I asked them if they learn parshah
anymore she said "That was just to go thru seminary and get married."
When I asked if they dont enjoy it I was told "Its just a bunch of
opinions" When I asked further I was told "Well of course they are all
holy works (The nuance being they may be holy but they are not

Story 4: On one of the other email lists I belong one person who
regularly posts a column on "his torah" confessed that in High school he
had suicidal thoughts--his Rebbe encouraged him to learn and write his
findings. He does this today He is shy so uses a penname. This example
illustrates the use of a "communal setting" to help prevent forbidden
thoughts (He no longer has suicidal thoughts). I dont consider his
learning of the "highest caliber...but I always help him...and his
learning IS accomplishing one of the important goals of learning. Let us
now examine the other 3 stories.

For those who may recall about 40 issues ago I attacked the Rashbam for
being not challenging and hurting Judaism. At the time I stated that as
my own theories. Here I would like to recap the opinion in a different
guise and broader. There are rishonim who simply dont "challenge and
turn you on." Since I am mentioning today OTHER PEOPLE's opinions I will
not single out the Rashbam(Because he wasnt the only name mentioned). I
will simply say in my conversations with people I continually here about
"lack of challenge" AND certain "EXAMPLES OF RISHONIM" and "METHODS OF
LEARNING" are mentioned. In passing I never once heard Rashi or Rambam
mentioned as non-challenging.

My point here is not to attack certain Rishonim per say. My point is not
to attack the people who have wrongly left Judaism. My point here is to
emphasize that WE (The Jewish community) DO have a problem---people do
leave because lack of challenge. To put it another way...the purpose of
learning is not only to expose to holiness...it is also to challenge the
mind and we are simply not doing it. I could go into HOW I THINK
learning should be done today but then the postings might become
personal. So let me simply say that (a) people are leaving for lack of
challenge (b) the leaving takes on various forms (live-ins,
intermarriage, not learning parshah or in Tzvi's case having excessive
forbidden thoughts) (c) whether we like it or not certain rishonim or
certain methods (derechs) of learning seem to encourage this more than

Well that is all I am saying. You can write back and say these people
are wrong but you are then avoiding the problem. You are saying the
problem is totally THEIR problem vs OUR problem. I would really like
this dialog to continue (without being attacked) and I would like to
hear (1) other people's opinions about what is challenging and what is
not (2) How they think learning should take place.

Finally, I am totally at a lost to understand the viscious attacks I
received on my former postings (for which no one so far has apologized).
I brought up a legitimate issue (how to learn; how to challenge). Last
time I brought it up as my PERSONAL opinion; this time I am tying it to
other people. But this IS the type of thing we discuss in postings.

So how about it. Lets give this a second try. Maybe we can come up with
some creative solutions.

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


From: Stuart Feldhamer <Stuart.Feldhamer@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 15:09:56 -0500
Subject: RE: Eiver Min Hachai and Adam

From: Meylekh Viswanath <pvviswanath@...>
> Russell Hendel clarifies regarding the 7 mitsves bney noyekh in
> mail.jewish v51n04:
>> (In passing the Noachide laws were not given to Noach!  They were 
>> given to Adam!)

I doubt that the mitzvah of "eiver min hachai", in particular, was given
to Adam, since it would have made no sense to him (he wasn't allowed to
eat meat). Does anyone know of a source that says that that specific
mitzvah was given to Adam? If so, how would it have applied?



From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 17:00:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Forbidden Thoughts

> From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
> Incidentally, the minimization of contact with the opposite sex (which
> is supposed to be an advantage of full-time yeshiva learning and living)
> did not seem to help me either.

When my younger son was in high school (a cood dayschool), he played on
the shul basketball team with many boys from an all-male school.  I
remember his comment to me on returning from a ball game, when he said
that he thought it was better to go to school with girls and to get to
know them as people because all the boys from the other school could
talk about was girls and in a very crude way.  (my rephrasing:-) I had
often thought that this was the case for me, as well, as a teenaged
girl.  I know that some girls in coed schools try to hide their brains
under a bushel basket to appear attractive, but I never did.  Maybe I
didn't think anything like that would help:-)

This is an old issue that I don't think we will solve here, but there
are differing views on this subject.

Wendy Baker


From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 17:36:36 +1100
Subject: Re: Idolators and Hindus

> From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
> At 06:05 AM 1/4/2006 -0500, Ben Katz wrote:
>> We all know extremely moral atheists and idolators (eg Hindu's, most
>> of whom are not monotheists, even in a loose, Christian sense).
> I don't know about the loose or the strict Christian sense, but I know
> a lot of Hindus who are strict monotheists -- that is, they believe
> that there is only one God and he/it/she is noncorporeal.

My own extensive contact with Hindus indicates that they are not at all
monotheists. Rather, from a range of idols/gods, they each have their
"chosen" god/idol. The reasons for a particular god may relate to

This is not monotheism in my view. It is choosing one from many.
Furthermore, when you take 10 different Hindus from ten different
locales then you are most likely to have close to 10 different
gods. They are loyal and often exclusive to their god.


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 12:40:47 -0500
Subject: Monotheism

The late emir of Kuwait was buried the other day in an unmarked grave, a
custom among some but not all Muslims.  Leaving aside the presumed or
alleged 'reasons' for this practice (these are almost invariably piffle)
it's at least possible to observe the consequences, one of which is that
the grave doesn't get turned into a shrine.  And that strikes me as very
much in keeping with the ideas of monolatry and monotheism.  Score one
for the Muslims.

We Jews have graves (except for Moses who _may_ have been buried thus 
for precisely the same reason as the emir _may_ have been--a good 
example of why we should ignore motives and 'reasons' wherever possible) 
and all too often the graves become shrines, some of them full-scale 
affairs.  I find it disquieting that our practices are a lot closer to 
those of the Roman Catholic church than they ought to be.  Am I alone in 
this or has this matter been addressed by our rabonim?  I add to this 
question a related one having to do with the use of fetishes and 
amulets, particularly the seyfer toyre.  A truly monotheist religion, it 
seems to me, would ban all such practices.  What say the others?

Noyekh Miller


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 18:05:29 +0200
Subject: New Online: Learn Hebrew Verbs

Hi Everyone!

This week I launched a new website called:
Learn Hebrew Verbs

Learn Hebrew verbs is a free, on-line, educational resource containing
300 Hebrew verbs conjugated in all tenses (past, present, future,
imperative).  The site menu provides selection by one tense or all
tenses; gender or both genders; singular and/or plural.  For your
convenience, you can choose a Hebrew or English menu to navigate the

The site is unique because you do not need Hebrew fonts to display the
Hebrew words. All words (including the nikud - vowels) are displayed
using graphics. There are over 10,000 graphic images in the system.

Both the student and the teacher will find the site easy to use and very
educational. As mentioned, the site is free to all.

Feedback is welcome.

Please forward this message to anyone that may be interested in learning
Hebrew. Thank you!

Have a good day,


From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 20:04:15 +0200
Subject: Re: Reasons for not saying Tachanun

from MJ 51/4: Ed "Shmuel" Norin stated:

> There are many times in the calendar that we don't say Tachanun.
> Sometimes, these exemptions overlap.  Last month at Mincha on
> Saturday 30 of kislev we were exempt for five reasons:
> Shabbot
> Chanuka
> Rosh Chodesh
> afternoon before Chanuka
> afternoon before Rosh Chodesh

and IRA L. JACOBSON  noted:
>I don't think that the day being Shabbat is an exemption from Tahanun.
>Rather, on a day that one would otherwise say Tahanun, one says
>Tzikos'cho at Shabbos Minha.  If not, then not.

To Ira - also Av Harachamim before Musaf is an indicator of yes or 
no tachanun.

To Ed - if on that same Shabbat, there was a chatan within seven 
days of his (first) wedding, and a brit, and the mohel, you'd have 
three more reasons not to say tachanun, or since we're talking 
about shabbat, av harachamim and tzidkat'cha at mincha (if the 
chatan came back for mincha)  



End of Volume 51 Issue 10