Volume 54 Number 18
                    Produced: Fri Feb 23  5:58:10 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Back to the Back of the bus
         [Shoshana Ziskind]
Conservative Responsa (3)
         [Jeanette Friedman, Yehonatan Chipman, Andrew Sacks]
Length of Davening
Talking in Shul
         [Joel Rich]
Torah Centered Judaism
         [Andy Goldfinger]


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 08:26:36 -0500
Subject: Re:Back to the Back of the bus

On Feb 21, 2007, at 5:55 AM, SBA wrote:

> Seeing that we have an over-abundance of such critics on this list,
> maybe they can offer their suggestions on what they would like the
> Charedim to do next...

Convince Egged to get out of the business of running mehadrin buslines
and bring back the ones which worked. The one I know of in particular is
the belems bus. I took it more than a handful of times from tsfas - bnai
brak or tsfas - yerushalyim. Women/girls on one side and men and boys on
the other. No problems with tsnius. No problems of people who don't want
such a set up. If they must insist on running a monopoly because they
want chareidi business they need to arrange their mehadrin lines more
responsibly and with more accountability and with more clarity (how
difficult is it to clearly mark the mehadrin busses?)

That's all I'll say as I haven't had the zchus to live in Eretz Yisroel
for 6 years now so my ideas can very well be out of date and irrelevant.

-Shoshana Ziskind


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 09:44:48 EST
Subject: Re: Conservative Responsa

I would be thrilled to get my hands on that conservative responsa and it
won't be trashed at all.

so please ship it to
jeanette friedman
472 henley ave
new milford, nj 07646

From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 22:31:55 +0200
Subject: Re:  Conservative Responsa

In Vol 54 #17, Anonymous asked:
> Does anyone know what to do with photo copies or print outs of
> Conservative Responsa? I was planning on throwing them out, but they do
> quote regular Rishonim and Achronim. If anyone has some sources which
> might provide a course of action that would be appreciated.

     I don't have sources, but the implied assumption of this question
is infuriating.  How do you know that the authors of such responsa are
"apikorsim"?  Admittedly, there are people in the RAA (Conservative
rabbinical body) who could be classified as such, but there are also
Gd-fearing, learned Jews there.  Some of their responsa may also contain
stupid and erroneous arguments, but so does some of the stuff written by
Orthodox Jews, and at least some of their teshuvot are worthwhile.

   At the risk of being considered apikorus myself: there are a number
of teshuvot by Rav Moshe Feinstein which view Conservatives as
"beyond-the-pale" by defintion.  But some of what he says there can only
be viewed as being based on misinformation: for example, there is
a teshuvah in the Iggerot Moshe that one shouldn't answer "Amen" when a
Conservative rabbi says "hamotzi" at a communal luncheon, because they
don't believe in Gd.  That is simply untrue!

    True, the validity of Conservative halakhah has recently come under
fire as the result of the recent decisions on the homosexual issue, and
the acceptance by their law committee of the option to ordain and even
perform marriages for homosexuals.  But if one reads the actual teshuvot
(which are available on the internet at the Rabbinical Assembly
website), you will find that the permissive position, by Elliot Dorff et
al, is marred by serious errors in reasoning and improper weighing of
halakhic factors (ta'ut be-shikul ha-da'at), as well as by serious
lacunae in the use of sources, but do not deny the binding nature and
holiness of the Torah and the halakhic process.  This teshuvah, by the
way, does not permit actual mishkav zakhur, but only allows other erotic
acts which it describes as derabanan.  I think it would be fair to
describe it as an honest but seriosly flawed attempt to deal with
serious and painful public issues today, without jettisoning the halakha
completely.  (There's is much more to this discussion, but there is no
room here and it goes way beyond the subject of this discussion.)

       It should be added that the RA also adopted a non-permissive
teshuvah on the subject, by Joel Roth, with which I think any Orthodox
person could agree, at least in broad terms (although it too is marred
by one or two to my mind debatable arguments, which in my opinion only
weaken his case).  The same applies to the position of David Golenkin,
the outstanding Conservative halakhist in Israel, whose work as a whole
I would definitely include under the rubric of "divrei torah."

    It's high time that we judge writings and people on their merits,
and not on the basis of organizational affiliation.

    Yehonatan Chipman

From: Andrew Sacks <raisrael@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 16:04:09 +0200
Subject: Re: Conservative Responsa

What to do with Conservative Responsa?

The Disposal of Photocopies of Bible, Siddur, Talmud and Midrash
(YD 282:10)
see www.responsafortoday.com

[The site listed above, and the quoted material below is from a site
that self describes as follows:
This site features responsa written by Conservative/Masorti rabbis:
          Responsa in a Moment by Rabbi Professor David Golinkin.
          Six volumes of responsa written by the Va'ad Halakhah (Law
          Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel between
          English Summaries of Volumes 1-6. 

What is posted below is the English summary of the responsa from the
above site. The full Hebrew responsa is located on the site at:

Must photocopies of bible, siddur, talmud and midrash be buried in a
genizah or may they be discarded in a regular garbage bin?

This question is related to four different mitzvot or prohibitions:

1. It is biblically forbidden to actively destroy or erase one of the
seven holy names of God (Deut. 12:3-4 and Sifrei Deut. ad loc.)

2. A Torah scroll that has become worn out needs to be buried next to a
Torah scholar (Megillah 26b).

3.There is an additional prohibition against destroying biblical books
(Shabbat 115a).

4. Lastly, it is forbidden to toss or throw biblical books (Eruvin 98a),
which indicates, of course, that biblical books should be treated with

The Oral Law was not originally included in these halakhot because it
was not supposed to be written down (Temurah 14b). Later on, when this
restriction was lifted, Mishnah, talmud and midrash were treated with a
similar measure of respect (Tosafot to Shabbat 115a). This general
attitude of reverence towards biblical books and all their commentaries
was codified by Maimonides (Yesodei Hatorah 6:8) and in practice Jews
buried all books written in Hebrew letters in genizot such as the
well-known Cairo genizah.

Regarding the specific status of photocopies we have to deal with four

1. What type of destruction is prohibited? "Gerama" or indirect erasure
of one of God's names seems to be permissible (Shabbat 120b). Later
authorities did not generally adopt that approach but some rely on it
under special circumstances.

2. Is there a difference between books written by hand and books
"written" by a printing press or a photocopy machine? When the printing
press was invented, opinions differed. Today all agree that printed
bibles and other sacred texts are holy and cannot be actively destroyed
though they do not have the same degree of sanctity as a Torah scroll.

3. When does a page of bible or other sacred texts become holy? Is an
individual page intended for temporary use as holy as a complete book?
This question was asked in the past in connection with galley proofs and
the like. Most authorities allowed these pages to be discarded because
a) they were full of errors and could not be studied in their present
form and b) they were never intended to be studied from. Photocopied
texts, however, do not fit this category. They are legible and usable
and they were created for the express purpose of learning and
teaching. Therefore they should be considered just as holy as complete

4. Does the law change according to circumstance and is there a
difference between before the fact and after the fact? This is our main
question because since the invention of the printing press, and even
more so since the invention of the photocopy machine, the amount of holy
material has grown astronomically and it is simply impossible to give
all of it a dignified burial.

This problem was already felt by Rabbi Jacob Reisher in the early
eighteenth century. He was asked about large barrels of holy books and
pages standing in the cemetery, which were being stolen or used as
toilet paper. He ruled that they should be burned in private and the
ashes should be buried in a clay jar next to a Torah scholar. Many later
authorities agree with him that when there is no alternative burning is
permissible. There are disagreements, however, as to when one reaches
the point of "no alternative". It would seem that today we have reached
that point. Rabbi Dessberg, who has investigated the problem, has found
dozens of sacks of holy books and pages sitting in a corner of the Har
Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. Some of the sacks were torn open and
the pages were scattered on the ground.

Today, however, there is a new alternative, which must be considered:
recycling. This option has been discussed by four rabbis. Rabbi Haim
David Halevi says it is forbidden to recycle books, which contain the
seven names of God. As for the Mishnah, talmud and midrash, he is unable
to decide. Rabbi Shabtai Rapaport rules that it is permissible to
recycle holy books because the person who throws out the pages is not
actively destroying anything, while at the plant the holy books are a
small percentage of the paper involved and are annulled by the
majority. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein forbids the recycling of books with the
seven names of God but allows the recycling of talmud and midrash since
they do not contain those names. Rabbi Uri Dessberg is the strictest. He
says that the holy pages from printing presses must be recycled
separately by "gerama" and that the new paper must be used in a
respectful fashion.

In our opinion, when genizah is not possible, recycling is preferable to
burning for a number of reasons: First of all, there is an established
custom in Judaism of reusing "mitzvah objects" such as lulavim, aravot
and tzitzit for the performance of other mitzvot (see Shabbat 117b for
the principle). Books are "holy objects" which are more sacred, but if
we are already desperate enough to ignore their holiness and burn them,
it would be preferable to recycle the paper since the proceeds are used
for the mitzvah of helping Israeli soldiers. In addition, recycling
saves natural resources and is in keeping with the mitzvah of "bal
tashhit" (Deut. 20:19-20).

In conclusion, we recommend the following:

1. Photocopies of the bible and the siddur must be buried in a genizah
since they contain the seven holy names of God.

2. It is a mitzvah to bury photocopies of talmud and midrash in a
genizah since that has been the standard Jewish practice for hundreds of

3. If the quantities are too great to handle or if it is discovered that
the pages are being desecrated, they may be recycled in the bins of the
Va'ad Lema'an Hahayal.

4. If this too is not feasible, they should be burned in the fashion
recommended by Rabbi Jacob Reisher.

Andy Sacks


From: <skyesyx@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 06:44:41 -0500
Subject: Length of Davening

Stu -- it's not so much the length of the davening as it is the draggy
stop and go pace.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 08:41:54 -0500
Subject: RE: Talking in Shul

> My suggestion to you is that you bring a sefer to shul with you, and
> during the periods when you are not doing your own davening, just
> sit/stand quietly and learn from the sefer. Pick some topic in halacha,
> Chumash, Talmud, Jewish thought etc that interests you. The only portion
> that may be somewhat problematic is during the Rabbi's sermon, as some
> Rabbis may become offended if you have a book open while they are
> talking. On the other hand, I suspect most would prefer to have you
> sitting in shul with a sefer open during their sermon than having you
> outside, so my vote would be to stay inside with the the sefer. You will
> also find that if you are clearly learning during points when others are
> talking, they frequently will not bother you with conversation.
> Avi

>From extremely painful personal experience I wouldn't count on Avi's
suspicion. His last sentence is definitely true.

Joel Rich


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 09:20:04 -0500
Subject: Torah Centered Judaism

Here is a web page that reprints a criticism of Yeshvat Chovovei Torah
(YCT) from Yated Neeman ...


This a a very though provoking article which brings up questions of just
what it means to be "Orhodox."  One common definition of Orthodoxy has
to do with practice -- the Orthodox person follows normative halacha
(Shulchan Oruch, Major Poskim, etc.)  Another has to do with belief
(belief in Torah Min HaShamayim).

Somehow, neither of these definitions cover the unease I feel at the
positions of YCT.  I'd like to suggest a term to replace "Orthodox."  I
would like to suggest the term "Torah Centered Judaism (TCJ)."

Here is how TCJ differs from "Orthodoxy."  Orthodox Jews believe in
Torah min HaShamiyim and follow normative halacha.  However, in thinking
about certain issues they may bring in moral ideas from external
sources.  I, for example, know that I tend to do this.  Thus -- I am
bothered by the issue of Eved Canaani (non-Jewish Slave).  Slavery
bothers me.  Why?  I have been raised in a society in which "human
rights" is a major value, in which equality of all people is a given.
How can I justify slavery on a moral basis.?

Now -- we have discussed this on mail-jewish.  I often use the term
"servant" instead of slave (sort of a euphemism, perhaps).  I compare
Eved Canaani to a person drafted into the military -- who loses his or
her personal freedom.  Etc. Etc.  I really struggle with this.

But -- if I were truly a "Torah Centered Jew," I would not be as
bothered.  Of course, I would continue to believe in Torah min
HaShamiyim and follow halacha.  But, in addition, my moral values would
come from Torah and nowhere else.  If HaShem says that this form of
slavery (no euphemism) is within His will, then I will follow the
halacha and not be bothered by external concepts of morality no matter
how reasonable they may seem to be because of my upbringing.

I guess I am "Orthodox," but I would like to become "Torah Centered."  I
would like to achieve such trust in Torah that external criticisms would
not bother me.  I think what bothers me most about YCT is that, whether
or not it is "Orthodox," it does not seem to take "Torah Centeredness"
as its goal.


Andrew D. Goldfinger


End of Volume 54 Issue 18