Volume 53 Number 43
                    Produced: Thu Dec 28  6:46:01 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Crystals and the Such
Eating or Not Eating Meat
         [Frank Silbermann]
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Fraud ,Google and the Holocaust
New Israeli Educational Stamps Posted Online
         [Jacob Richman]
No Excuse
         [Tzvi Stein]
Rav's lineage
         [David I. Cohen]
Yefas Toar
         [Joseph Ginzberg]


From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 17:37:15 -0800
Subject: Re: Crystals and the Such

Why would there be an issue with using crystals (or stones or twigs or
what-have-you) for helping in getting into or keeping in meditation?



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 00:08:55 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Eating or Not Eating Meat

Earlier, someone tried to draw an analogy between the eating of meat and
the practice of Yefas Toar (the laws for marrying a gentile woman
captured among the spoils of war) -- implying that eating meat should be
viewed as a deplorable act that Torah permitted only as a compromise
with human weakness -- but which we all today should reject as immoral
and unethical.

I rejected the analogy for a number of reasons.  For starters, I
suspected that Yefas Toar is probably already forbidden rabbinically,
and that (in contrast to meat eating) none of our prophets or sages
engaged in this.  In V53 N37 David Riceman <driceman@...>
pointed out that King David did it, and asked,

>	Is there a source for (a rabbinical prohibition)?
>	It seems unlikely to me.

No, I don't have a source, but it seems to me that if Yefas Toar were
not already rabbinically forbidden someone would have suggested its use
as a solution to the "who is a Jew(ish convert)?" controversey.  That
is, Reform Jews could simply arrange for their gentile spouses to be
"captured in battle" (or purchased as a "slave").

That no one suggests these as methods of conversion makes me suspect
that they are no longer permitted.  (I welcome comments from those who
are in a position to know.)

Yes, King David did it; he lived before the era of the Tannaim who could
have rabbinically forbidden it; and his acts (including his authority as
king to put to death on the spot anyone he pleased) were never accepted
as a definitive source of normative halacha for the masses.  (I believe
that the children of the wives he took in battle caused him no end of
trouble.  I don't recall any analogous lessons from his diet.)

Mr. Riceman was also provoked by my provocative-but-essential point:
>> What I find most obnoxious about the no-right-to-eat-meat crowd is
>> their implication that various hippies and granola nuts are in some
>> way morally superior to our Tzadikkim.  That is an untenable position,
>> and it requires that we reject the idea that meat-eating is immoral.

David Riceman tried to push this to what he saw as its illogical conclusion:
>	This is such a wonderful argument that I think Mr. Silberman
>	needs to apply it more widely.  Consider, for example, Jewish
>	education.  A hundred years ago most girls didn't even learn
>	to read Hebrew, most boys learned only enough to read Humash
>	and Siddur, and only the wealthy, the unusually gifted, or the
>	sons of Rabbis got more advanced education.
>	Surely all of those short haired cornflake addicts who insist
>	on universal Jewish education through high school and beyond
>	are implying that we today are morally superior to the revered
>	tzaddikim of earlier generations, who were willing to restrict
>	Jewish education to the favored few.

I don't think earlier generations were willing to restrict education to
the favored few so much as forced to do so by the material poverty of
their communities.  By the standards of 150 years ago, we are today
almost universally wealthy, and therefore can afford to do what earlier
generations desired to do but couldn't.  (Furthermore, the availability
of and state requirement for high level secular education provides an
imperative for universal higher Jewish education which did not exist
back then.)

In any case, nobody is claiming that earlier generations sinned in
setting educational priorities and limiting their efforts to that which
was then possible.  So it cannot compare with those who would claim that
these generations, along with the majority of today's Orthodox Jews,
sinned in eating meat.

Mr. Riceman continued:
>	With a little ingenuity Mr. Silberman can also apply it to leniencies.
>	At first glance one might think that, just as by being stricter than
>	our ancestors we are insulting them, by being more lenient than our
>	ancestors we are honoring them by acknowledging that we can never
>	ascend to their great achievements.

I admitted the possibility of accepting vegetarianism as an optional
chumra.  Being stricter than our ancestors does not insult them; rather,
what insults them is the condemnation of those who do not partake of
this greater strictness.

Just as one can restrict one's meat to Glatt Kosher without insulting
grandparents who ate plain kosher, so can one avoid meat altogether
without insulting one's meat-eating grandparents.

But just as I would criticize someone for implying that Jews today and
in earlier generations sinned by eating non-Glatt, so do I condemn those
who claim that eating meat in general was or is sinful.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 18:44:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Environmentalism

Ari Trachtenberg writes:

> You might want to read Dick Lindzen's works [Prof. Lindzen is the Alfred
> P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT], for example his
> commentary at http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220 about
> also his scholarly work, to see one possible reason for the lack of many
> scientists attacking global warming.

Yes, yes, what I'd expect from the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, as
biased in its way as the New York Times op-ed page, if generally so in a
more scholarly way.  The problem, to which the professor alludes, is
that out of either ignorance or political bias, some people see
short-term effects, e.g., lots of hurricanes last year, record warmth in
the northeast this winter, and chant "global warming". That's junk
science lechulei olma. The question is whether the long-term increase in
temperature and atmospheric CO2 is a man-made phenonmenon--and I believe
that only a minority of scientists think it is not.

But I do think it is a valid question whether, given the current level
of scientific understanding on the issue, a tshuva is appropriate.


From: chi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 19:54:52 -0600
Subject: Fraud ,Google and the Holocaust

Shalom, All:

When I read Hillel Markowitz claim that global warming is a "fraud" and,
lo and behold, a Google search "proves" it, I didn't write to point out
the obvious matter that Orrin Tilevitz (and no doubt others) did - which
is that Google searches are not in and of themselves _the_
answer. Indeed, Reb Orrin noted that a Google search with the keywords
"cancer" + "smoking" + "fraud" produced results that are plainly stupid
and/or lies planted by tobacco lobbyists.

What motivated this missive is that I forgot that a Google search scam
can, disgustingly, not only deny the Holocaust. I learned that phishers,
scammers and other lowlifes target Shoah (Holocaust) victims and their
relatives. My proof? I Googled it, of course, using "Holocaust" +
"fraud," and at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/advice/scams/419.asp
was informed that "Con artists are continually updating the scam in an
attempt to change it enough so that people won't recognize it. While the
original version of this bogus letter claims to have access to a bank
account in Nigeria, Bankrate recently received a version of the scam
that claims to be from Switzerland. Rather than money that belonged to
warlords, this person claims to have access to funds that belonged to
victims of the Holocaust who are now deceased and left no wills.

"Long story short," says Bankrate.com: "Any checks you receive from this
person will be fake. The crook will ask you to keep part of the money
and send him the difference. Shortly after you send him the difference
by mail or wire, his check will bounce, and you will owe the total
amount to your bank. Warning: Sometimes people are told by their banks
that the check has cleared, so they go ahead and wire the difference to
the scammer. But don't be too sure: The scammers sometimes forge a
cashier's check, which fools the bank into prematurely reporting the
check as "cleared."

"Once the forgery is discovered, the bank will try to hold you liable.
You should not answer these e-mails **or click on the links they
contain.** The Federal Trade Commission has warned that by clicking on
links, you may unknowingly download spyware onto your computer. Here's
how one Holocaust scam e-mail, entitled "THE GAIN OF WORLD WAR II,"

" 'Hello," {says the scam) " 'my name is Mr. Ronald Lauder, a member of
Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP), Switzerland. ICEP is
charged with the responsibility of finding bank accounts in Switzerland
belonging to non-Swiss indigenes [sic], which have remained dormant
since World War II. It may interest you to know that in July of 1997,
the Swiss Banker's Association published a list of dormant accounts
originally opened by non-Swiss citizens. These accounts had been dormant
since the end of World War II (May 9, 1945). Most belonged to Holocaust
victims.  The continuing efforts of the Independent Committee of Eminent
Persons (ICEP) have since resulted in the discovery of additional
dormant accounts -- 54,000 in December 1999." '

Please go to the above cited site and get the full story. Then pass it
on to everybody you know, as you are doing a huge mitzva by warning

Kol Tuv,
Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 01:56:08 +0200
Subject: New Israeli Educational Stamps Posted Online

Hi Everyone!

I scanned and posted on my website the new Israeli stamps that were
issued in December 2006.  I included the stamp itself, the first day
cover, and an English and a Hebrew flyer about the stamp.

- Crusader Sites in Israel
 Monfort, Belvoir (Kokhav Hayarden)
 Atlit, Caesarea

- Medicinal Herbs and Spices  

-  Israeli Fashion
 1882-1948: The Oriental Style,
 1948-1973: The Ethnic Style
 1973-1990: The International Style
 1990-2006: The Technological-Personal Style

- 120 Years of Esperanto 

The new stamps are located at:

If you do not see December 24, 2006 on the top of the page, hold the
control key and press the F5 key to refresh your browser.

Shavua Tov,
Have a good week,


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 19:14:47 -0500
Subject: No Excuse

From: <Smwise3@...>

>      I think S. Wise may have mistakenly left off a few key words from
>      the bottom line of his post about minyanim at unusual times in
>      Boro Park.  I think what he meant to say was "The bottom line:
>      There is almost no excuse not to daven with a minyan, during the
>      week or on SHabbos, IF YOU LIVE IN BORO PARK."
>      Sammy Groner
>I stand partly corrected. If you live within a driving distance, I would
>say there is no excuse. Which leads me to people who for their own
>personal reasons daven in place (say, in the street), even if they could
>make it to a minyan with a little effort. My own standard is, if there
>is a reachable minyan, I'll do my best to be there.

No excuse?  I think that's a little extreme.  Is it your position that
davening with a minyan outweighs all the mitzvos of the Torah, both
positive and negative?

I'm reminded of a story from Israel of a wife who went to a gadol
complaining that her husband never helped her.  The husband patiently
explained to the gadol his entire daily schedule to show that indeed he
had no time to help his wife.  The gadol responded that he should help
his wife instead of davening schacharis.  Needless to say, they guy
somehow found a way to rearrange his schedule to do both, but I think
the story is telling, and I don't doubt its veracity.


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 17:16:37 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Rav's lineage

I'm sure that it was a slip of Russell Handel's "pen" when he wrote:

"I was reminded of a story of the Rav's grandfather (Rav Yosef Baer
Soloveitchick). "

The Rav's grandfather was Rav Chaim of Brisk (the Brisker rav), whose
son was R. Moshe Soleveitchik, who was very much alive when the Rav was
born (and therefore the Rav could not have been named for him). His
great -grandfather was indeed R. Yosef Baer, the Bais Halevi.

David I. Cohen


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 19:40:45 -0500
Subject: Yefas Toar

>>(2) Yefas toar is not something that our holy prophets and rabbis
>>  of ancient times made a practice of doing, nor is it something
>>  that our ultra-Orthodox communities do today.

>The midrash says that King David did it.

He also did several other things that were recorded but that no Rabbi in
the world would allow!

Yossi Ginzberg


End of Volume 53 Issue 43