Volume 51 Number 19
                    Produced: Tue Feb  7  6:02:07 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Idolators and Hindus (2)
         [P.V. Viswanath, Russell J Hendel]
New Resources on ATID.org
         [R. Jeffrey Saks]
Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah (2)
         [Chana Luntz, Samuel Ehrenfeld]


From: P.V. Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2006 21:23:16 -0500
Subject: Re: Idolators and Hindus

It seems to me that Isaac is equating a physical representation with
"avode zore."  I don't think that that's warranted; the question is what
is it that is being represented.
At 05:17 AM 2/6/2006 -0500, I. Balbin wrote:

> >>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 family/location/etc
> > The issue is not as simple as Isaac thinks.  The problem is in
> > translation and in what terms are taken to mean by the different
> > parties.  The word "god" is not invested with the same semantic range
> > for Hindus as for Jews.
>Indeed. I have found that there is a very great gap between Hindu
>theologians and the knowledge/practice of the people.  In many cases,
>especially amongst those who are less fortunate, the reality of the
>religion as they and their parents and grandparents see it, is very
>simplistic and directed towards "their" god.

That's not what I meant.  There is a great difference between what Isaac
means when he uses the word "God" and what a Hindu means when he uses
the word "God."  It should matter nothing to halakha if somebody uses
the word "God" if he means what a Jew would mean "physical
representation of the true attributeless God," and said "my god has four
feet."  That person should not be classified as an "oveyd avode zore."

>My feeling is that in general, whilst they certainly know at different
>levels about the relationship of their god to other gods and the "big
>gods" they do tend to be exclusivist in the practice of channeling
>their religious practice towards one particular god (amongst a range of

Just as a Khasidic Jew might argue that one can best "reach"
God/understand and perform the "mitsves" in a complete fashion if one
uses a Khasidic model, while a Litvak might argue that one needs to
understand the "mitsves" in a more "rational" fashion; and each might be
quite exclusivist, while acknowledging grudgingly the acceptability
(though at a lower level) of the other.

> > Can a Hindu read about the ten sefirot and infer that there is a
> > pantheon of gods in Judaism?  Presumably not.
>They can theoretically do that, but I'd suggest that nobody worships a
>particular Sefira or Mido of Hashem and then places it into the form of
>an idol.  We can have different biases in our religious practice eg
>through more simcha, more introspection etc but at the end of the day we
>don't worship "simcha" or "bino" or ...

So it turns out that using physical representations is key to Isaac's
point of view.  While using a physical representation of Hashem is
forbidden for a Jew, I don't believe it is for a non-Jew; I don't
believe it's synonymous with avode zore.

>Indeed. I say "Pook Chazee" Go out and see. What I "see" is a system of
>favourite gods in practice

Puk Khazee here is not the same thing, because you need to figure out
what the Hindu has in his mind; just as you cannot use Puk Khazee to
figure out what is "piggul" and what is an acceptable sacrifice.  It's
in the kavone.

If you identify the use of physical representations with avode zore,
Hinduism is avode zore for you; that may not be halakhically correct,

Meylekh Viswanath

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 22:05:30 -0500
Subject: RE: Idolators and Hindus

Recall I had said that Hinduism is idolatry.  Consequently people should
not be permitted to enter shrines. I in fact cited a Rashi.

Meir Wise (v51#15) demurs to my citation. He states "Reading Rashi one
can see that 'elohim acherim' can be taken either as 'other gods' or
'gods of others'.

This is simply not so. I cite the Rashi in its entirety (There are
English versions of Rashi on the net as well as Rabbi Sharfman's and
Rabbi Silberman's translation).

"ELOHIM ACHERIM: RAshi: (A) "They are not real gods but others made them
a god.

is insulting to heaven to assert that there are other gods besides him.

(C) Another interpretation: 'other-people gods' Because these gods act
like they are gods to other people since those who worship them pray to
them but the gods dont answer them and it looks like the god is the god
of another who doesn't answer this person."

Rashi clearly brings down three interpretations: A) the gods produced by
others C) the gods who act like they belong to someone else (because
they never answer). Rashi says these two intepretations are
admissable. Rashi clearly rejects the 3rd interpretation of OTHER
gODS--gods other than Him.

To follow up on this, Meir Wise originally cited several (alleged)
Rabbinic authorities who permitted entering Hindu shrines. Now that I
see that Rashi has been misquoted I would like to see a citation of
these other sources.

I repeat what I said last time: Idolatry is a very serious
prohibition---even if one wasnt sure, nevertheless, when in doubt on a
Biblical prohibition one must rule stringently Hinduism (As several
other postings have pointed out) denies the unity of god (and I believe
they use statutes--they are idolaters and it is prohibited to enter
their shrines.(We of course can live in peace with them and help them
get jobs)

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


From: R. Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 12:13:22 +0200
Subject: New Resources on ATID.org

We are pleased to make you aware of new resources available from the ATID
website (www.atid.org):

Read two evaluation chapters of the outstanding Lehava program run at
the Amit Noga High School, in cooperation with ATID's Beit Midrash
Initiative -- essential reading for schools interesting in learning how
to successfully design and implement a Beit Midrash experience. Authored
by program director Mrs. Miriam Reisler and ATID's senior staff, the two
evaluations offer insight into the successes of a most remarkable
educational experiment.

Last week ATID's Forum for Inquiry and Deliberation in Jewish Education
sponsored a packed-house conference on "Connecting to the Student with
ADHD" featuring expert educator and clinical psychologist Dr. Simcha
Chesner and his staff. The evening featured a talk by Dr. Chesner
followed by three concurrent workshops. We also celebrated the "launch"
of Simcha's newest book, HaYeled Betokh HaShiryon ("The Child Inside the
Armor"). We are pleased to offer the audio recordings online of the
Hebrew conference (including the session focused on preparing kodesh
texts for use with students with ADHD). Visit our website to listen to
the event, or for info on ordering the book.

In 5765 ATID gathered a cohort of outstanding young men and women
preparing for careers in Jewish education for the inaugural ATUDA
Fellows program.  ATUDA Fellows studied and analyzed texts written by
and about Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt"l, and prepared teaching
guides, position papers, and pedagogies to wrestle with the application
of the Rav's teachings to the contemporary classroom. We are proud to
make these 11 teaching guides for bringing Rabbi Soloveitchik's Torah
into the classroom available to the community of Jewish educators.

Also, we are now accepting applications for the ATID Fellows machzor 9. 
For details: http://www.atid.org/apply/default.asp

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Director, Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions 
Tel. 02-567-1719 * Fax 02-567-1723 * Cell 052-321-4884 
<atid@...> * www.atid.org 


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Mon,  6 Feb 2006 13:02:46 +0000
Subject: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

Samuel Ehrenfeld <samfeld@...> wrote: 
> Your idea that Yosef dressed up when he went to Pharaoh because Pharaoh
> needed him is an interesting hypothesis.  Do you have a source for this?
> I personally doubt that Yosef really felt that way when he was dragged
> out of prison to come before the ruthless murdering dictator of the
> land, or if he felt more like a servant preparing to plead his case.

I think I am missing something here.  Somebody who is wasting away in
prison is not in a position to obtain fancy clothes (whether he wishes
to or not).  So clearly the clothing was provided by those who took him
out of prison.  The most one can say is that Yosef asked for them, and
those who took him out acceded to his request (out of the generosity of
their heart?).  But if the clothes were fundamentally to benefit Yosef
in pleading his case (your understanding), rather than a benefit to
pharoah in not making him look any worse than he already did (my
understanding), then that means Yosef is already in debt ie you are
setting up a scenario where Yosef owes a debt already to either pharoah
or his servants.

In addition, it seems perfectly clear to me from the pshat of the Torah
that Yosef was not taken out of prison to allow him the privilege of
pleading his case before pharoah.  It is not as though pharoah appeared
to have regular clemency sessions in which he allowed all the prisoners
to explain to him why they ought to be the subject of his mercy.

Yosef was taken out of prison because of the extremely unusual situation
that pharoah was troubled by a dream, his usual interpreters could not
help, and he was given a tip off that there happened to be somebody in
prison who was good at dream interpretation.

Where do you see that there was any suggestion that Yosef was being
brought (or even allowed) to plead his case?  Pleading one's case is not
a right but a privilege.  It may be that a humane king grants that
privilege on a regular basis, so that it comes to seem like a right, but
it is totally within his gift.

So I don't see how Yosef could have felt like a servant pleading his
case.  Rather he would have been apprised of the fact that the only
reason he was being taken out of prison was because pharoah needed some
dream interpretation done - and if he could help, good, if he could not,
well the consequences probably didn't bear thinking about, but back to
prison would have been the best option on offer.  Only if he was
successful at task A (dream interpretation), would he then be in a
position to attempt task B (asking for clemency for his own welfare).
And as it was, he never needed to get to task B, because he made it so
abundantly clear that it was in pharoah's interest to have him look
after the economy that pharoah did it for his and Egypt's benefit, not
because he had mercy on Yosef.

Chana Luntz

From: Samuel Ehrenfeld <samfeld@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2006 17:27:53 -0500
Subject: RE: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

Your reply is fascinating, Chana, but, very respectfully, you are indeed
missing my point(s), and I fear we have gotten off an a tangent (not
necessarily a bad thing :) ).

To summarize the discussion up to now very briefly (according to my
sometimes faulty memory):

Someone posted to complain of individuals who do not take care to
maintain a proper appearance for tefillah.  Many posts folllowed on both
sides of the issue.  (Personally, I do not feel strongly enough to take
a stand on this, although arguably I should.)  You wrote to provide a
framework of the history and halacha on the subject.  You also added an
insight (apparently your own) that suggested it would be better to
worship as a servant before a master, i.e. without dressing up.  You
wrote that in the days of old it was not the custom for the lower class
to dress up for meetings with kings and queens.  I responded to this by
recalling that Yosef got dressed for his meeting with Pharaoh, and I
mentioned the commentaries of Rashi and Sforno.  To this you replied
that perhaps since Pharaoh needed Yosef (i.e. to interpret the dreams),
it may have been more incumbent upon Yosef to dress up than in an
ordinary case of a meeting between a king and a servant.  Your
implication, if I understood it correctly, was that ordinarily a servant
does not dress up for the king, and therefore we should not dress up for
tefillah I guess, but that the case of Yosef was different in that Yosef
was needed by Pharaoh so he got dressed up.  I said that this was an
interesting insight, and asked you for your authorities, if any.  Now on
to your most recent post.

You wrote:

>I think I am missing something here.  Somebody who is wasting away in
>prison is not in a position to obtain fancy clothes (whether he wishes
>to or not).  So clearly the clothing was provided by those who took him
>out of prison.  The most one can say is that Yosef asked for them, and
>those who took him out acceded to his request (out of the generosity of
>their heart?).  But if the clothes were fundamentally to benefit Yosef
>in pleading his case (your understanding), rather than a benefit to
>pharoah in not making him look any worse than he already did (my
>understanding), then that means Yosef is already in debt ie you are
>setting up a scenario where Yosef owes a debt already to either pharoah
>or his servants.

How do you know that he couldn't obtain fancy clothes until provided by
those who took him out. (And also, who said they were "fancy"?  Maybe he
changed into the suit he wore when he was in Potiphar's house, or maybe
into the kesones passim (and maybe they were the same).)  Maybe he had
money or a charge card (i.e. he borrowed) to buy new clothes.  Nothing
to the contrary is expressed in the Torah.  The point was that he
changed clothes.

Furthermore, I don't think I said the clothes were to benefit Yosef in
pleading his case.  I merely quoted Rashi and S'forno who suggested that
they were because he had a meeting with the king.  Whether Yosef had a
debt to Pharaoh or not (and whether or not Yosef came to Pharaoh hoping
to plead his case), he still changed his clothes before the meeting.

As I said before, I am just trying to clarify whether it was customary
in ancient times to change before a meeting with the king.



End of Volume 51 Issue 19