Volume 53 Number 30
                    Produced: Thu Dec 21  6:22:42 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

List Priorities (4)
         [Aryeh Gielchinsky, .cp., Anonymous, Avi Feldblum]
Using the power of the purse
way to go Jeanette!
         [Janice Gelb]
We women need all the help we can get
         [Batya Medad]


From: Aryeh Gielchinsky <agielchinsky@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 02:14:11 -0500
Subject: List Priorities

When trying to fix the world, we should be sure to focus our energies
where they will help. My condemnations on Mail-Jewish of either Neturai
Karta or the #2 bus beating will not change anything. There have also
been concerns raised about the Charedi Gedolim and their response to
similar issues. Once again, there isn't much I can do to influence their
opinions. There are also concerns that our leadership isn't doing
anything in the face of many difficulties in our communities. I would
like to focus on what is being done, and suggest what we could do from
this point on.

There are many shiruim given by YU Roshei Yeshiva in different
communities on different issues. They can be found on Torah web here


A sampling of the topics presented is listed below.

Rav Hershel Schachter
Pride & Prejudice: Growing Through the Shidduch Process
Talmud Torah at the Center of Family Life
Kol Yisroel Areivim Zeh Bozeh: Our Responsibilities to Others and to
Jewish Parenting
Why Aren't People More Tolerant?

Rav Mordechai Willig
Survival Guide to Dating
Gambling in Halacha
Drinking: Purim and Beyond

Rav Benjamin Yudin
Talking to Our Kids About the Birds and the Bees: Sanctifying the
Extreme Measures: Bridging the Religious Generation Gap

Rav Mayer Twersky
The Responsibility of Parenting
When Religion and Family Collide: Interacting with Nonobservant Family
Alcohol, Drugs, and Morality Among Orthodox Teens
Absolute Truth and Alternate Life Styles: The Torah's Position on

Rav Dr. Abraham J. Twerski
The Truth about Gambling in the Jewish Community

Most of those rabbis would probably prefer to sit with a Gemarah in a
Base Medresh all day, but instead dedicate much of their day to helping
our communities.

There was also dismay at the last minute cancellation of the Agunah
conference in Yerushalayim, and the suggestion of a gathering down in
Battery Park. Rallies can be useful, but we should be careful to
differentiate between those that do something, and those that are done
just to make the attendants feel like they are doing something. Rav
Mordechai Willig once said progress is not made in conferences, it is
made behind the scenes with hard work and patience. This is the Rav
Willig who created the RCA prenup, ran around Israel collecting
Haskamas, and caught one of the last flights out before the Gulf War

An organization that has had some success with Agunahs is ORA
http://www.getora.org . They fist try to get the parties talking, then
try to get the guy's rabbi to talk to him, and if those kinds of actions
don't work, they eventually go rally outside of the guy's house or
business. Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Elazar Meir Teitz are both
involved with sitting on Baati Dinim for ORA and Agunahs in general.

If an individual wants to have an impact, they can volunteer for ORA, or
send them donations. They can also ask their community rabbi to give a
lecture on a topic that is affecting their community, or bring in a Rosh
Yeshiva in to discuss it. You can try to sponsor a Kollel Yom Rishon Yom
Iyun on whatever topic is bothering you. Or the most direct method is to
raise kids properly.

While I know very little about Dikduk, and would love it if all those
discussions changed to the topic of electricity, that won't happen
because this isn't my personal blog.

From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 19:37:28 -0800
Subject: Re: List Priorities

I have been subcriping for over a decade to mj.  please note the stated
purpose of this list: Torah and Halacha

If one does not like the issues that are discussed or not discussed then
please, with Hatzlacha Rabba, start your own list and drop a note here
about it.

Otherwise, don't besmirch everyone here with charges of being uncaring
or disconcerned with every item that is on your hot list, especially
when one of your issues is a political one that you are trying to cloak
as Torah.


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 
Subject: RE: List Priorities

I read Jeanette Freeman's post with great interest and, while I don't
agree with everything she says, she does allude to many things that have
been (and I am having a hard time finding the right word here, so please
forgive me)--disturbing me?  worrying me?  making me
uncomfortable?--about this list.

I used to be, if not a frequent contributor to this list, at least a
moderately-regular one.  But over time my participation has dropped to
zero.  Partly this has to do with what Jeanette alludes to--the
seemingly-constant focus on halachic minutae.  While discussing the
details, the daily ins-and-outs of halacha is of course important, these
discussions in my view often devolve into an implied game of "more
observant than thou," if you see what I mean.  And I for one am more
interested in the "big picture" than the minutae.

Let me give one example.  Several years ago now, I asked the list about
a situation I faced in which it made much more overall sense for my
family for *me* to stay at home with the children, and my wife to work.
I wondered what implications this had with regard to the home-based
mitzvot vs. the shul-based mitzvot, which are traditionally
gender-linked, and for which the traditional explanation given is that,
as the woman is in charge of the home, it is she who is in charge of
those mitzvot.  Given my situation, I wondered as to the list's take.
In general, no one wanted to comment, and those few who did gave
variants of, "You need to change your situation as soon as possible."

This was, to put it mildly, not helpful advice.

(As an aside, I've asked for similar input in a number of similar
situations.  But my experience on this list--which is another thing that
has caused my participation to drop--has been that when I find myself in
a situation that causes me halachic confusion, rather than help with the
*confusion*, the members of this list advise me to change the
*situation*.  Ladies and gentlemen: life sometimes sticks you in
situations that can't be changed easily; at such times, folks need
discussion on *halacha*, not facile [and usually essentially useless]
advice on changing the *situation*.)

My point here being that I do *not* live in Israel, or Boro Park, or any
kind of large, Orthodox community, and my struggles are on a much
different scale than worrying about, say, whether I used more than one
penny's worth of ink in that pen I just borrowed from a friend.  And
while reading about that stuff is sometimes interesting and enjoyable,
the amount that it touches on *my* life--as I struggle with my kid's
school to make them understand that no, it's *not* okay for them to tell
my daughter to sing Christmas Carols in music class, or draw pictures of
Santa in art class, or that she's not going to be punished for missing
school on Yom Kippur, or simply struggle with the daily realities of
trying to be observant in an environment that is most definitely not
geared for it--is beyond minimal.  *I'm* struggling with my kids
feelings of being in a minority and not having a tree, lights in the
yard, decorations, etc. during the crazed American Christmas season; I
have to say that I could give a rip that a silver horse in some random
store causes some people to worry if it's Avodah Zarah.

And to me, that's what Jeanette's post brought up.  Please understand: I
am not shaking my finger at folks who are wrestling with the minutae of
halachic observance.  In a way, I envy folks that are at a place in
their life where they can worry about such things.  But like Jeanette
(apparently), it seems to me that the preponderance of posts on this
list lately, and for the past many months, have been of the Posul Eidus
variety.  And while I know it bores a lot of folks out there, I'm afraid
that I'm still stuck in the zone of people suffering from the "Christmas
Dilemma," and will be for some time to come, so worrying about ink used
in borrowed pens is pretty low down on my list.

Just one person's voice, of course.

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 06:21:12 -0500
Subject: List Priorities

I'd like to make a few comments now, hopefully over the weekend I will
have a chance to further develop and expand on this.

I was actually speaking recently with a list member who commented on the
lower volume of mail-jewish relative to the volume of a number of years
ago. There are likely a number of reasons, but one that was mentioned
was the advent in the last few years of the Jewish Blogosphere. I think
it is clearly true that there are many more outlets of Jewish expression
on the Internet today, compared with say ten years ago. There is no
question that the world of the blogs responds to things much faster than
something like this list, which is a moderated and edited list. There
are also unmoderated jewish lists and they will have a similar time
response as the blogs. While I occasionally skim the blogs, I rarely
read much of the responses on many of them, because I find the signal to
noise ratio to be much to low. I think that the format we have here,
keeps the signal to noise ratio much higher. It involves more work on my
part, and it does mean the time constant of the discussion is much
longer (a day instead of a minute).

In the nature of this list there are two points I would like to
make. The first is about the nature of the "signal". On a blog, the
choice of the topic of discussion is set by the blog owner, and what
s/he writes is what sets the discussion on his/her blog. The interaction
of the blogs is one blog writer responding to what another
writes. Things are similar here, but as list moderator I do not set the
topics of the discussion. It is the collective "you" who set up what we
will discuss. I have rules for what I will or will not publish, but in
general, way over 90% of the submissions are sent on to the list. So the
choice of what we discuss is up to what you submit. I really do not
understand the validity of a complaint that certain topics are not
discussed, when the person who makes the complaint has not taken the
time to compose their thoughts and submit a posting that lays out what
they want to discuss. There are a few topics that I do not accept for
inclusion on the list. They are mainly purely political discussions on
Israeli (or other countries, but that is not what usually gets
submitted) politics and postings on what we used to call the "OCR wars"
on soc.culture.jewish (net.religion.jewish) which is what was the
initial reason for creating this list. The "OCR wars" were the "Orthodox
- Conservative - Reform" debates where basically each side said they
were right and the rest of us all all wrong.

Within the context of allowed topics, simply sending in a copy of a news
article is also not accepted. As Janice pointed out correctly, I view
this as a discussion group. This is not where you get your local Jewish
news. There are many other forums for that. If you want to reference a
news item and then discuss something about it, that is usually accepted
and sent on to the group. Posting the link and saying something like
"what do you all think about this" is not beginning a conversation. Take
the time to tell us what you think and what element you want to discuss.
The more effective you are in laying out the framework of the
discussion, the more likely you will get meaningful responses. There is
little meaningful discussion in a situation where you simply list an
event that happened and say something like "this is a terrible thing"
and we have a set of responses of "yes, this is a terrible thing". Why
bother to use up our time and bandwidth on something like that. On the
other hand, to say "this is a terrible thing, and here is what I think
we can do to change something about it" is more likely to invite real

OK, enough for now,

Avi Feldblum


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 15:14:45 +1100
Subject: Re: Using the power of the purse

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
> One suggestion -power of the purse is one (the next meshulach ask about
> the response of his organization ...)  

GREAT idea!

Take it out on some poor Jew - nebach shlepping himself door-to-door
trying to make a few dollars to feed and clothe his family.



From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 20:01:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: way to go Jeanette!

Shani Thon <shanit716@...> wrote:
> [snip]
>     It is my opinion that since the Jewish world allows "rabbis" who
> give unsuspecting people "holy water" to drink for a refuah for a
> handsome fee, which allows blatant kashruth infractions, which brushes
> real issues under the carpet, which perpetuates the plight of agunahs,
> which allows the Disengagement, which allows the Neturei Karta to exist
> in their communities, which teaches children that it is more important
> to the selection of their future mate to have white vs blue shirts and
> white vs colored Shabbos tablecloths, and a host of other major
> issues----indeed, where IS the discussion? And more important, why are
> we not doing something about these issues? And why, when a woman brings
> these issues to this forum for discussion, is she told if she doesn't
> like the forum, she can go elsewhere? And why are her concerns ignored?
> Maybe it needs a woman saying these issues are just as important as
> dikduk. And who is going to act on these issues if not us?

I think your characterization that Jeannette was told that "if she
doesn't like the forum, she can go elsewhere" is incorrect. I was one of
the people who said that I didn't think that raising these issues on
this list would be productive or an appropriate use of this list and I
stand by my statement. This is a *discussion* list -- there is no
discussion to be had when people bring up an injustice. Everyone is
likely to agree that the situation is unjust but what is the point in

If you or Jeannette want to announce some action that you think list
members should be aware of that might help mitigate a specific
injustice, that is one thing.  To say that list members are not
concerned about these injustices just because they perceive no point in
sending an email message to a discussion list about them is quite a
stretch. The fact that other issues are raised on this list that do lend
themselves to discussion, such as dikduk, does not mean that list
members are not concerned about other, more major community issues. For
all you know, list members are donating tzedakah or quietly working
within their communities to redress some of these wrongs. Concerns about
the lack of publicity about these issues are better addressed to news
outlets or community leaders, not the members of an email discussion

-- Janice


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 06:09:29 +0200
Subject: Re: We women need all the help we can get

> Can we bring everyone together on a Sunday after Pesach sometime, in a
> park in Manhattan, 

Honey, "everyone" doesn't live in Manhattan, or NY, NJ or USA.  It's a
turn-off when you write like that.  You lose us.

I helped a friend through a divorce and witnessed how her first lawyer
was actually working for the other side.  Yes, first, since she was
smart enough to get another one.

I've found myself standing on Israeli buses, since young male chareidim
consider themselves on a higher madreiga, and their elders didn't
instruct them to get off for me.

Please be more careful; Mailjewish is an international list.  Its topics
fluctuate according the members' inspirations and rants.



End of Volume 53 Issue 30