Volume 53 Number 78
                    Produced: Sun Jan 14 21:53:59 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bus customs
         [Akiva Miller]
Explaining catastrophies (4)
         [Harlan Braude, Leah Aharoni, David I. Cohen, Frank Silbermann]
The Halachic Process - further exploration
         [Carl Singer]
Heter for Men and Women to be Jammed Together
         [Stu Pilichowski]
naturalization pictures af Rabbi and Rebbetzin J.B. Soloveitchik
         [Eli Turkel]
Rabbis assisting women
Suffering as a result of sin
         [Carl Singer]
This is Judaism?!


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 13:19:18 GMT
Subject: Re: Bus customs

Yisrael Medad wrote:

> What is bothersome, I feel, is when a man will sit on the aisle seat
> and not permit a woman to sit next to him, not forcibly I hasten to
> add, but simply by sitting there and keeping his face in a book.

I have often encountered similar habits among the riders of New Jersey
Transit buses and trains: Many people will deliberately take an aisle
seat. Subsequent riders will tend to look elsewhere, and are discouraged
(or intimidated) from either taking the window seat or asking the first
person to move over. Later, when the remaining empty seats become fewer
and fewer, some people will ask the aisle-hoggers to move over, but
others will prefer to remain standing.

The reason I mention this is to point out that the behavior observed by
Yisrael can also be seen in many other places, and might have nothing at
all to do with halacha and tznius, but merely due to a desire for
personal space. Of course, it is quite possible that many of the cases
Yisrael saw were indeed due to tznius issues; I'm only suggesting that
it is not *always* so.

Akiva Miller


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:59:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Explaining catastrophies

In mail-jewish Vol. 53 #74...

>>The "Buses were blown up because" is as stupid as the "Holocaust
>>occurred because" claims alleged to be have been made by certain

>..., I think there is a lot of validity in our tradition to finding
>spiritual reasons for catastrophes.  For

As with most issues, there's another way to look at things.

For many, being confronted with painful aspects of life beyond one's
control is a frightening and perhaps overwhelming proposition.
Ironically, there is much comfort in being told in the face of
catastrophic events that one has a modicum of control. I think this has
always been the intention of community leaders making these
proclamations. Not, Heaven forbid, to trivialize these events, the
victims (everyone's relatives) or the pain that these leaders, too,
share with their communities.

Since improving one's character is a task never completed, its something
worthwhile in which to be engaged - and perhaps from which to glean some
hope - while the pain subsides.

From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 15:16:36 +0200
Subject: Re: Explaining catastrophies

I would like to focus the discussion on public rather than private
suffering. At some point, I think we should stop thinking in terms of
them and us, and think only of us - all of us.

Without absolving the Nazis of one bit of blame, it is axiomatic that
God would not let catastrophe happen without some type of a
fault. Rambam clearly accuses those who blame suffering on chance of
cruelty. Any suffering, and certainly, community-wide or national
suffering should direct us to communal or national cheshbon
nefesh. IMHO, the "we are not worthy" argument just doesn't apply. If
God is sending us a message, He expects us to get it.

Such cheshbon nefesh does not mean that every single victim is guilty of
transgressing the issue in question. I think this is clear from many of
the stories in the Tanakh, where punishment is brought on every member
of the community, although it is obvious that many of the victims were
not directly involved (Pilegesh Bagiv'a and the annihilation of Yavesh
Gilad are the first to come to my mind).

Beside shell-shock, there must be some other underlying reason beneath
the rejection of any such introspection. I wonder what it might be.

Leah Aharoni
Hebrew/Russian/English translator

From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 20:18:27 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Explaining catastrophies

Leah Aharoni wrote:

> I can't think of a specific example right now, but I think that the
> rishonim had the same attitude and assigned various tragedies to
> specific sins.
> So why are we aghast at people blaming our tragedies on sin today?

Because, by that time there was a gap of a century between the event and
the statement of causation.  In dealing with events of recent vintage,
the tragedy is too raw and we recognize and remember real people
involved. To ascribe specific sins to being the cause of their suffering
as individuals or as part of the collective is too insensitive and

It's one thing to say the "klal yisroel" were guilty of for example
"sinat chinam". It's a whole different level to say this particular 12
year old who died in a bus crash, or this bride or this student who died
in terrorist bombings all died because of sins they ( or we) committed.

David I. Cohen

From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 09:15:47 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Explaining catastrophies

Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
>> the rishonim (also) assigned various tragedies to specific sins.
>> So why are we aghast at people blaming our tragedies on sin today?  

Joel Rich <JRich@...> V53 N73
> (because the) claims rarely if ever seem to be it's "our" fault,
> rather it's "their" fault.

I note that the rabbis of the Talmud attributed Jerusalem's fall to
groundless hatred, not "those @!?&# Saducee heretics".  Nor (so far as I
know) did the Rishonim or early Acharonim blame the rise of Karaism for
the Crusader massecres.

In the past, rabbis blamed disasters on sins that were prevalent
throughout the Jewish community.  They did not use disasters as a spade
or shovel with which to bash their philosophical rivals over the head.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee	<fs@...>


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 07:49:00 -0500
Subject: The Halachic Process - further exploration

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
>> Is it an acceptable halachik "model" for an individual to "shop" or
>> research halacha in the same way that one might do independent
>> scientific or political research (without the benefit of a teacher /
>> professor.)
>Why not?  Even if you ask a rabbi, your opinion still enters into the
>execution of the act whether you like it or not.  Why would G-d give us
>a brain and the Torah if we were meant to simply go to a single source
>for every decision in our lives?

BECAUSE -- #1 - an halachic vs. scientific framework for decisionmaking.

Yes, most of us have brains - Is there an implication that "shopping"
and making independent decisions bereft of an halachic process or
seeking guidance is the "brain-y" thing to do?

And yes we all make halachic decisions for ourselves without running to
a Rabbi at every bend in the road.

The response is framed as an alternative being a "single source" -- this
is not the case.  But the issue isn't "single source" vs. multiple
source - it's independent intellectual exploration vs. an halachic
process which incorporates intellectual exploration coupled with seeking
guidance and advice. In practice we may seek from a single Rav or from
a few resources on issues of weight.  But we don't (have to) go it
alone.  Nor should we.

BECAUSE -- #2 - motivation and the Halachic process

Many from time to time are faced with the possibility of putting the
cart before the horse.  They would like a certain answer to an halachic
situation (I once gave the example of a elderly non-Jew dropping their
wallet on Shabbos.  Some would "like" to find a solution by which they
could do the "noble" act and pick up the wallet and return it to the one
who dropped it.)  I remember some fifty years ago hearing one of my
neighbors children ask a parent - if I wash my mouth out with soap can I
then eat the cheese. (The child was fleishig and trying to "rush the
clock.") The actor wants to do something and seeks permission.

There are people who without guidance tend to gravitate too much to the
makel or the machmir.  Some seek out leniencies right and left -- and
justify these to themselves (and sometimes to others -- who may or may
not care) via their own interpretations from a menu of shopped halachic
statements and their interpretation of same.  Similarly, some avoid
dissonance by seeking rigid chumrahs because doing so is consistent with
their lifestyle or life outlook.  Unfortunately, the chumrah-oriented
tend to "export" their chumrahs (rather than seeking justification from
others, they seek to impose upon others.)

Interestingly enough this issue of Mail-Jewish includes a discussion of
the "Hassid Shoteh" -- One might conjecture that beyond personality
issues, etc., The Hassid Shoteh has failed to build a relationship with
and seek guidance from his or her Rav.



From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 11:46:38 +0000
Subject: Heter for Men and Women to be Jammed Together

From: SBA <sba@...>
> OTOH, the Satmar rebbe zt'l, when once seeing the conditions of the NY
> subway during rush-hour, commented that he had no doubt that if this
> would have been in the times of Chazal, they would have banned such
> travel.

Yet R' Moshe permitted travelling on the NYC subway system.  Did the
Satmar rebbe rule against riding the subway? Or was he simply giving his
opinion on what chazal might have ruled? Kind of a Satmar sociological

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 22:28:40 +0200
Subject: naturalization pictures af Rabbi and Rebbetzin J.B. Soloveitchik


for graveside and naturalizations of Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik and his wife

Eli Turkel


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 02:15:47 +1100
Subject: Re: Rabbis assisting women

From: <MSDratch@...>
> <sba@...> writes:
>>Maybe to qualify as a chosid shoteh - it must be a life and death

> I don't think that the designation of "hassid shoteh" is limited to
> life-threatening situations.  See Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayot, Sotah
> 3:4:

However, as far as I could ascertain, at least beloshon Chazal it refers
to life and death matters

Sotah 21b clearly states that it refers to a person who won't save a
drowning woman whilst the Yerushalmi (Sotah) gives that 'title' to one
who sees a drowning child and says that he must first remove his

I see also that the KSA [92:1] uses it regarding a choleh mesukan who
refuses non-kosher medicine



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 09:08:48 -0500
Subject: Suffering as a result of sin

From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
> [snip]
> This is not about being "aghast at people blaming our tragedies on sin
> today" - this is about moral revulsion at people falsely claiming to
> know God's will in order to increase suffering in klal yisrael.  For
> the record, I'm not being hyperbolic for rhetorical reasons. This is
> how I see things.

It's even more sinister than this.  

It's not WE are suffering for OUR sins.  Or more properly he is
suffering for his sin (the singular.)  / I am suffering because of MY
sin.  It is WE are suffering for THEIR sins.  The claims that I read
seemed to say that the WE (Klal Yisroel) are suffering because THEY
(freyeh Yiddin -- non-Religious Jews) sinned.  Having separated
themselves (or purged the others) Klal Yisroel is now two camps in some
eyes: we good guys and you bad folks who cause us divine harm.

This pales in comparison to what might be considered a musar-like
approach of -- because we do not daven with enough kevanah or talk in



From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 02:13:14 +1100
Subject: This is Judaism?!

From: Stu Pilichowski

> ..I can't believe the correspondence the last few volumes on
> mail-jewish. This is Judaism?! This is what HKBH wants us to dwell on?

I am not quite sure which posts have upset you.

But whatever, yes, I think this is all part of Judaism. Unless you are a
full-time ben Torah then of course you shouldn't be spending time on
forums. But if you are what I imagine the average person here is, one
who reads newspapers, listens to the radio (an some lo aleinu - just
kidding, just kidding... even watch TV) there is no doubt that we can
learn something here and even hear - or give - some tochocho

> I've brought it up before, but it seems that fifth volume of Shulchan
> Aruch has been excised from our brains and culture.



[The "fifth" chelek of the Shulchan Aruch is commonly used to refer to
the use of derech eretz and commen sense in our interactions. Mod.]


End of Volume 53 Issue 78