Volume 54 Number 42
                    Produced: Thu Mar 22  6:52:01 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Conservative Responsa
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Conservative Responsa and Theological Differences
         [Janice Gelb]
Conservative Responsa, non-O Jews, and this list
         [Marc Sacks]
election of 15 new Dayanim
Gezel Akum
         [Frank Silbermann]
Growing Shorter
         [Bob Sherer]
Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever?
         [Yehoshua Steinberg]
         [Joel Rich]
Rabbinic Authority (3)
         [Ben Katz, Orrin Tilevitz, Gershon Dubin]
Rashi in T'ruma: 13 vs 15 items
         [Russell Jay Hendel]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 08:46:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Conservative Responsa

>From Yehonatan Chipman:

> Re the recent posting stating that the Law Committee can nullify
> Rabbinic or even Torah laws: that simply isn't the case.  In the teshuva
> about driving on Shabbat, their argument was two-pronged: that operating
> a car, specifically an internal combustion engine, is  derabanan, not
> deoraita (because the use of fire for mechanical energy and moving
> things, rather than for heat, light or cooking, was unknown to Hazal, and
> thus not "hav'arah"; an argument that I think is falacious, but the point
> is that they weren't prepared to be matir something they thought was
> Torah law); and that public worship ("mikdash me'at") is so important
> that it can override a derabanan.   

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I believe that saying one may not
nullify a Torah law but one may instead go to any possible length to
classify Torah law as rabbinic and nullify it on that basis is a
distinction without a difference.

> That's what I meant by saying that structurally they show a certain
> respect for the proper forms of halakhic argumentation.

 Certainly, some present or former members of the committee have had
such respect.  But one cannot logically infer from a willingness to
engage in halachic argumentation that one respects that form.  Lehavdil,
the gemara often addresses a similar attempted inference with the
response "lidvarecha" - you lose even according to you.


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 00:06:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Conservative Responsa and Theological Differences

Shimon Glick <gshimon@...> wrote:
> I would refer the readership of Mail Jewish to the famous 
> Commentary Symposium on the state of Jewish belief in 
> which they asked a wide spectrum of orthodox, 
> conservative and reform rabbis about their beliefs. In 
> the introduction the symposium organizers pointed out 
> that if the affiliations of the responders were covered 
> the responses of the conservative and reform rabbis were 
> virtually indistinuishable-particularly with respect to 
> the divine origin of the Torah. Thus Rav Feinstein's 
> psak had good theological basis.;

I would be very interested in the year this symposium was held and the
methodology that was used. The conclusion above does not match with my
own experience with Conservative synagogues or with many Conservative
rabbis. One important thing to note in any discussion about the
Conservative movement is that it is probably the least monolithic of any
of the three main streams of American Judaism.

For those interested in Conservative theology in this regard, I
recommend the interesting chart in Rabbi Elliott Dorff's book
_Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants_, which provides
some generalities about Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform theology on
the nature of revelation and other similar topics.  It is available
online at http://www.adath-shalom.ca/dorff110.htm

-- Janice


From: <msacks@...> (Marc Sacks)
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 12:28:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Conservative Responsa, non-O Jews, and this list

I especially liked Sarah Beck's comments on this subject. There are many
non-Orthodox Jews who value Jewish continuity as much as any Orthodox,
but who approach matters differently, whether because of environment (as
Ms.  Beck's post describes) or personal conviction, and it does no one
any good to try to erase those people from the Jewish fold. I grew up in
a largely Orthodox family, but its practices were based in tradition,
not in study, and they were more likely to do whatever their parents did
than to look for poskim. My father's generation in that family were
Orthodox; most of the next generation affiliates with Conservative
synagogues. Some are shomrei Shabbat, some keep kosher, but none deny
their Judaism or exist completely outside it.

I'd also like to remind readers of this list that for many egalitarian
Jews, both male and female but especially the latter, Conservative
Judaism is as orthodox a form as they can practice. If you're a woman
who scrupulously observes mitzvot, can quote Talmud and Torah at length,
but wants to be a rabbi, Orthodoxy is out, though you will still be well
to the right of most Conservatives.

When my mother died, there was a minyan in my father's apartment--men
only. Women were expected to wait in the kitchen and then serve
coffee. A female cousin commented, "It's always been this way. We don't
count." She quite happily belongs to a Conservative shul. I don't think
she pays much attention to responsa--how many people do, really?
Affiliation is a lot about comfort, and I hope list readers can
understand that.

I also hope this doesn't sound like O-bashing. I respect the devotedness
and the sincerity of many Orthodox. I only ask for a reciprocal respect
from them for other Jews, something that most of the O members of my
family and my wife's freely provide.

Marc Sacks


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 14:45:50 +1100
Subject: election of 15 new Dayanim

From: Shmuel Himelstein
> What happened yesterday in the elections of 15 new Dayanim for the
> Israeli rabbinical courts would appear to me to be as clear a case of
> Chilul Hashem as there can be. In a 9 member committee with only one
> woman and with five representatives of the Charedi parties, the
> outcome was clear: in what was evidently a "deal" worked out in
> advance, of 60 odd candidates for these positions, 12 were selected
> from the Charedi ranks in what was evidently a "deal" between Shas and
> the United Torah Judaism party - and many of the new appointees are
> related directly or indirectly to highly placed rabbinic figures in
> the Charedi world.

Justice Israeli style.

Haven't you heard the howls about the make-up and appointments to the
Israeli High Court? The self-perpetuation of the judges who almost
exclusively appoint their mates to the bench - soul-mates who share
their left-wing and anti-religious biases?

This court often overrules the elected government and against the
interest of the people of Israel!!

A prominent Charedi rav once told me, 'you should fervently be mechaven
when praying for "Hoshiva shoftenu korishono..." '

OTOH, what can you expect, when the appointment of dayanim (as well as
rabbonim in the Israeli Chief Rabbinate) is left to the politicians?



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:16:35 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Gezel Akum

Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...> V54 N33
> Recently, R David Cohen, a well known major posek, came as a scholar in
> residence to Teaneck, and talked at length about how gezel akum and
> cheating and stealing from the government and nonjews is perfectly mutar
> if one can get away with it ...

Because some governments and societies do indeed oppress and rob Jews,
denying them justice, in some circumstances stealing back some of what
was stolen from him may be a Jew's only reasonable option.  Therefore, I
can understand that it would be inappropriate for the Torah to place a
_blanket_ ban on such behavior.

However, the phrase "perfectly mutar" troubles me.  Even if one could
get away with it, I would expect gezel akum (etc.) to be sometimes an
aveira and sometimes not, and sometimes difficult to judge.

Perhaps the details are buried in the phrase "if one can get away with
it" -- what are the standards for that?  Is it merely that the Jew can
avoid the most direct of negative consequences?  Or does "getting away
with it" require a complete lack of negative consequences, both for the
perpetrator himself and for the Jewish people and the Honor of Torah as
a whole?

If "getting away with it" requires not getting caught, does getting
caught make the act an aveirah retroactively?

To the extent that gezel akum and cheating/stealing from the government
is permitted and engaged in, is it proper (e.g. under the Noachide laws)
for gentiles to believe and say that Jews do this?

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


From: <ERSherer@...> (Bob Sherer)
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 15:12:33 EDT
Subject: Re: Growing Shorter

I know it happened to me. I still have, among my stuff my U.S. Army ID
card, issued in 1951, when I was 23 years old, which shows me to be 5 ft
8 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. On my most recent to my doctor, I
checked in at 5 ft 2 inches, and weighing 147 pounds; I am 79 years old.

                    Bob Sherer 


From: Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:56:44 -0400
Subject: Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever?

Does anyone know where the Ben Ish Chai is buried? I've heard it's in
Baghdad, but haven't been able to find out specifics. I will be there
for a short time and would love to be able to visit it if possible.

Yehoshua Steinberg


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 11:00:18 -0400
Subject: Mourning

Is anyone aware of any communities where the practice is to
differentiate between the 1st 3 days of mourning and the balance
(e.g. the mourner talks little or not at all, visitors wait till after
the 3rd day to comfort the mourner...)

Joel Rich


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 09:54:12 -0600
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

>From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
>Where did he get this?  Rambam says in Hametz u-Matzah 1.4 that it is
>indeed forbidden to have any benefit from it forever, but that this is
>"kenas hu mi-divrei sofrin" -- that is to say, a Rabbinic prohibition.
>Albeit, the reason is because during Pesah he violated the Torah law of
>"bal yeraeh u-val yimatze."  So this example is incorrect.

>From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
>So the sale of chametz must indeed be valid according to both Biblical
>and Rabbinical law. It's been formalized, in that it's done by the
>community Rabbi rather than by each individual; but after all, a major
>reason for that is precisely to ensure that the sale is executed in a
>manner that is valid according to halachah.

         I may have "misspoken" re "chametz she-avar alav hapesach", but
isn't the point raised by Alex Heppenheimer equivalent, in that selling
the chametz "allows" one to get around the lav of baal yimatze?

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@...>

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 08:10:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Rabbinic Authority

>From Alex Oppenheimer: 
>> There is of course the case of loans during shemita, but that is an
>> exception that proves the rule.
> It's not even an exception; the Gemara (Gittin 36a) points out that
> Shemittah - both its agricultural and its financial aspects - is
> nowadays not binding on a Torah level, only Rabbinically.

>From Ben Katz: 

> Also, as has been pointed out on this list before, "the exception that
> proves the rule" means that what one would expect to be an exception
> also follows the rule (test=prove, as in proving grounds = testing
> grounds for an airplane), not that somehow the exception that doesn't
> follow the rule makes the rule more valid.

Alex is correct; I was misremembering the discussion.  In fact, the
Gemara specifically asks there how the Rabbis had the authority to
overturn a Toraitic rule, and the response, as Alex says, is "it's only
rabbinic".  So in fact, this is something that one would have expected
to be an exception, and instead it follows the rule.

Of interest to another part of this thread is the subsequent discussion,
where the Gemara points out that today there is a Toraitic obligation to
pay one's loans, and asks how the Rabbis could overturn this rule.  The
response is "shani shev ve'al taaseh".  This discussion is well
summarized in R. Kehati's introduction to Sheviit 10:4.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 22:18:33 -0400
Subject: Rabbinic Authority

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
> The matter is not so glib.  I believe chametz she-avar alav 
> hapesach would be considered a lav deorayta by everyone

It is considered a kenas derabanan by everyone.



From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...> 
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 00:55:49 GMT 
Subject: Rashi in T'ruma: 13 vs 15 items

Rashi on T'ruma,Ex25-02d mentions, in passing, the "they donated the 13
categories mentioned in this subject; all were needed for the work of
the temple or priestly garments"

However there are 15 items and this has generated discussion

I have already hinted at my answer by translating "devarim" as
"categories" vs "things". The BIble deliberately enumerates 3
category-item classes: A) SKINS (ram-red) and SKINS (unicorns); B)
STONES (Shoham) STONES (Fillins) C) SPICES FOR oil and FOR incense.
When you count EXPLICITLY mentioned categories you find 13 categories
spanning 16 (not 15) items (SPICES for OIL and for INCENSE elliptically
mentions two types of spices (The point here is not the grammar but the
fact that the spices brought for the oil and incense were different).

This seems to be the simplest way to take this Rashi.

In commenting on the other explanations: I would point out that the OIL
and SPICES were NEEDED for the temple construction. For example the
MISHKAN had to be annointed with OIL at the time of construction (See
Ex40-09). One COULD even argue that although the OFFERING of incense was
not part of the TEMPLE construction the CREATION of INCENSE (to be
deposited in Temple storage bins) was part of the construction.

Finally Rashi mentions that "all were needed for the "work of the
Temple" and the creation of oil and incense was part of this work.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;A.S.A.; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 54 Issue 42