Volume 54 Number 19
                    Produced: Mon Feb 26  5:19:43 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beit Din Experience (2)
         [Harry Zelcer, <ERSherer@...>]
Length of Davening
         [Stu Pilichowski]
Pace of Davening
         [Carl Singer]
Torah-Centered Judaism (3)
         [Meir Shinnar, Jonathan Baker, Daniel Geretz]
What to do with Conservative Responsa
         [Ben Katz]


From: Harry Zelcer <reliablehealth@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 08:53:03 -0500
Subject: RE: Beit Din Experience

In regard to: 'Beit Din Experience' the current issue of Hakirah (volume
4) has a detailed article (45 pages) about Bet Din. See www.Hakirah.org.

When you go to a Bet Din you are generally required to sign a type of
arbitration agreement which is then enforceable in a State/Federal
court.  Be sure to go to an honest and competent Bet Din, that you are
fully informed about the Bet Din process, and that you are represented
by a competent lawyer and toen.

Heshey Zelcer

From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 13:13:14 EST
Subject: Re: Beit Din Experience

      As one who is involved in civil litigation in the secular courts,
      I can tell you that the people who lose cases are frequently
      convinced that witnesses, judges, jurors, lawyers, court
      personnel, and everyone else in the world is severely and
      irrationally prejudiced against them.  People who are vindicated
      in court believe that the judges are fair.  That said, sometimes
      the person who should win loses, and sometimes it is the other way

      Irwin E. Weiss,  Esquire
      Baltimore, MD

As one who did civil litigation in the courts of Massachusetts for 42
years, plus federal courts all over the country (I was admitted to
practice in four circuits, I find myself in full agreement with you.

       Robert J. Sherer, ESQ.
        Boston, MA                                  . 


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:27:06 +0000
Subject: Length of Davening

From: <skyesyx@...>
> Stu -- it's not so much the length of the davening as it is the draggy
> stop and go pace.

Sorry I can't accept this because of the example of the 30 minute (max)
shabbat mincha. There's no dragging there.

I think people are simply not turned on or tuned into the
davening/tefillah/prayer. They're bored. So they'll talk. Should they
perhaps prepare and learn a bit about what tefillah is? What that psalm
is really all about? Yes, they should but don't hold your breath.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:04:31 -0500
Subject: Pace of Davening

From: <skyesyx@...>
> Stu -- it's not so much the length of the davening as it is the draggy
> stop and go pace.

Pace or perception of pace is important.  A 'smooth running' davening
leaves little opportunity to talk.
In contrast, when aliyahs are not planned and a Gabbai Shaynee  doesn't
know to go over and get a guest's name we have 30 seconds here and 30
seconds there and this seems like "down time" which to some means "talk
time" -- same with fumbling for the crowns,  "mushing" a torah to the
right spot because this wasn't done pre-yom tov, or pre-rosh chodesh,



From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 12:46:58 -0500
Subject: Re: Torah-Centered Judaism

      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.

This is by no means simple.  The problem is that, at least according to
many (most?) shittot, the torah has certain values that are immanent -
even if not explicit (eg, the ramban's take on kdoshim tihyu - as
reflecting not a particular commandment, but a generalized one - and one
has to understand the values immanent in the torah to follow that

The question is what are those values - and the notion of tzelem elokim
is high on the list of many.  This is coupled with the understanding
(borrowed from the rambam) that the torah, while eternal - was given at
a given time to a particular people.  Society without slavery was
unthinkable - and therefore, the torah allowed slavery - but there is no
mandate for us to own slaves - but that doesn't translate automatically
that this is within his will.

Therefore, discomfort with some of the consequences of halacha is an
intrinsic part of torah values.  If a rav is unable to be mattir an
aguna - that should (and does, in most poskim) cause severe anguish.
The Seride Esh wrote of his discomfort with some of the laws governing
Jewish gentile relationships, and Gerald Blidstein has documented that
rav soloveichik was uncomfortable with the laws on gentiles on shabbat.

The question is the practical consequences of this discomfort - and the
akedah looms as reminding us that we are commanded even if we are
uncomfortable, and it goes against our moral sense - and some conflicts
will always remain.  However, the akedah also reminds us that we have to
be very sure that we are actually commanded.  As in the case of the
aguna, that moral discomfort should drive us to explore possible
solutions - even if we can't always find one.

Therefore, the question is not torah centered versus Orthodox.  Indeed,
I would argue that the failure to feel discomfort at some halachic
issues, rather than reflecting perfect faith and torah centered, is a
sign of the failure of the educational system of torah - and while those
who are so morally disabled and ethically impaired as not to feel
discomfort deserve our sympathy, we should not view them as role models.
Indeed, the proper term for this would be Orthoprax - those who follow
halacha, without learning the values involved - and the proper term for
suggesting that halacha demands not to be bothered by moral demands, and
that being bothered is external to the torah - is ziyuf hatora...

Meir Shinnar 

From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 08:53:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Torah-Centered Judaism

From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
> 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.?
> 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.

1) The Yated article lies and distorts to create a straw demon out of
YCT.  See http://thanbook.blogspot.com/ for refutations of many of their

2) As to the specific point, no, eved cnaani is *not* the same kind of
slavery as practiced in the American South.  For one thing, the slave
has to convert, and has the same obligation in mitzvot as a woman (since
his time is not his own, no timebound positive mitzvot).  For another,
he cannot be sold to a non-Jew.  Further, if the owner maims him he is
set free, and if he kills him, the owner is put to death as for any
other manslaughter.  See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 267, as pointed out
to me by Rn Chana Luntz, longtime listmember.

3) As to their claim that one must not express conflict between personal
morality and halachic requirements, I will deal with that in a future
blog-post.  It appears to depend on twisting a Gemara.  Anyway, Jews are
called "rachamanim benei rachamanim."  It would be unnatural if
something that so oppresses human beings didn't bother you.  So I don't
know if that "Torah-Centered Jew" is even an ideal.

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: <jjbaker@...>     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com

From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 11:51:57 -0500
Subject: Torah-Centered Judaism

Andy Goldfinger raises an interesting question about Yeshivat Chovevei
Torah and whether their vision of Orthodox Judaism is consistent with
"Torah-Centeredness."  Andy touches on a number of important issues,
each of which can easily become a complex discussion in its own right.

I have not yet read the article, although I have printed it out as
reading material to add to my pile.  In skimming the article as it was
coming out of the printer, however, I did notice something and wanted to
make a note of it.

Regardless of the underlying thesis of the author, I take exception to
the author placing quotes around the words Rosh Yeshiva and musmachim
(head of seminary and rabbinic graduates).  I think that such attempts
to belittle or deny the credibility of one's opponent take away from
whatever argument the author is making, are not respectful, and have no
place in legitimate discourse about the issues.

This is a general trend that is one of my pet peeves.  For example, I
self-idenfify as Modern Orthodox (whatever that is). However, I feel
that it takes nothing away from me to acknowledge both male and female
Conservative and Reform Rabbis as such; to recognize the institutions
that trained them as Yeshivot, and to recognize them as musmachim.
These individuals derive their legitimacy not from me or from my rabbis
or from the Orthodox movement - they derive their legitimacy from their
constituents.  Whether or not I recognize them is irrelevant to their
status. I feel that it takes a tremendous amount of hubris on my part to
think that by refusing to deal with them in a respectful manner will
somehow "show the world" that they are "wrong" and that I am "right."

It is very disturbing to me when someone disparages one's opponent -
especially when that opponent has dedicated their life to learning and
disseminating Torah lishma (for its own sake). Regardless of background,
I believe that, as Jews, we all share a common goal which is to elevate
our Tzelem Elokim (image of God). What that is exactly, where we start,
how far we get, how we do it, why we do it, how we benchmark what we've
done, and all of the other subsidiary questions - those are a secondary
matter.  We can discuss those secondary matters ad nauseum, learn from
each other, and still probably not agree at the end of it all.

When we start out by disparaging our opponents, we deny ourselves common
ground with which to explore legitimate issues.

Daniel Geretz


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 10:41:57 -0600
Subject: Re: What to do with Conservative Responsa

         Rav Moshe has a teshuvah that the only "real" shamot are
tefillin, torah scrolls, mezuzot and the like.  that being said, many of
us would not throw out a chumash or a siddur, and we wouldn't have the
treasures of the Cairo genizah if people weren't maschmir when it came
to this law.  if that is the case, why not donate them to a library or

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


End of Volume 54 Issue 19