Volume 54 Number 50
                    Produced: Tue Mar 27 20:02:48 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Depression, Alcoholosm and Drugs
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Talking in Shul, a postscript
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
         [Russell Jay Hendel]


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 01:16:20 GMT
Subject: Depression, Alcoholosm and Drugs

This thread started a few issues ago and I wasn't quite sure how to
answer some of the opposition.I shall start with David Maslow's question
"What is the difference between a physical vs spiritual illness."

Let us take a simple (exaggerated) example. Suppose I have some
stressful incident in my life: I have all my mljewish postings rejected,
or, I lose a job, or, a family fight. I might decide to have a drink
that evening. If after every time I get a rejected posting I have a
drink (or every time I have a family fight I have a dring) I develop a
habit. A year from now I have (as Andy GOldfinger said) a "sickness."
There is a dependency on alcohol which is bio-chemical in nature.

The important point to emphasize in distinguishing between the pneumonia
I obtain from walking around without a coat and my alcoholism is that
even though in the END both are physical in the BEGINNING one was
induced thru physical causes (walking around without a coat) and one was
induced thru SPIRITUAL causes (responding to stress with alcohol).

Let us go a step further. Now that I am sick how do I get cured.  Maybe
I go to a therapist and maybe I dont. Maybe I get some drugs to keep me
off my habit and maybe I just become aware that I am doing something
wrong. But in either case I have to reverse my spiritual
degeneration. For example the therapist might say "The drugs I give you
are temporary...while you are on them you will find it easier to deal
with your problems in non-alcoholic ways---if your postings are rejected
you should learn to write answers; if you have family fights you should
learn how to settle them; if you lose your job you should learn how to
get a good one. As you reverse your previous behaviors you will
eventually come back to where you were a year ago and be cured. At that
time I can take you off the drugs and your new habits will prevent a

So there we have it: A spiritual illness is an illness,albeit physical,
that began with improper spiritual responses. The cure for the illness
with or without a therapist is to reverse the spiritual degeneration
that led to it.

I now go a step further. I cited the Rambam that "The torah is NOT a
book about physical illness (refutation of amulets) but IS a book about
spiritual welfare." One discussant thought this comment philosophical.
Unfortunately it occurs in the Rambam's legal code. It is not
philosophical OR if it is philosophical it is also LAW.

I can formulate this a different way. As a Torah Jew I am not only
obligated to accept God's law as King I am also obligated to perceive
God's law as rectifying my soul and giving me the best spiritual

We now return to depression and mental illness. I reiterate what I have
said previously but with the above background. The goal of both the
individual and community is to USE Torah law to create an ENVIRONMENT
and PERSONAL habits that will either prevent all mental illness or cure
those illnesses that have begun or are there.

I close with one more story along these lines to illustrate the strength
of my position. I am a member for life of AMIT. At the various
conventions of AMIT I continually here stories that illustrate the above
points. Some AMIT schools and orphanages frequently start with students
who have failed every other place, who come from broken homes, who are
physically abused or tortured, and/or who have severe emotional
problems.  AMIT has innovated an orphanage structure which re-creates a
family environment (units consist of one male and female social worker
with 12 students). Students are simply asked to live "ordinary lives"-
they are taught basic concepts like saying please, thank you, and your
welcome.  They are taught to have responsibilities. The success rate at
these places (considering that the students were almost all considered
failures) is remarkable. Typically a year or two after entry these
"dropouts" are completely normal. But it illustrates the point I have
made about using Prayer and Charity to prevent / cure illness. As to
Mark's point' Where is your evidence' I would respond "I welcome double
bind controlled studies which are the END RESULT of theories but in the
interim I have both my Torah beliefs and numerous attestations proving
my point.

I mentioned Israeli Rock Singer Yehuda Glantz who upon seeing an
explosion 100 meters from his studio wrote his song "Only to scream to
God." Yehuda if he was non Jewish could CHOSE to perceive his fears and
anxieties as biochemical. He could chose to seek therapy and drugs and
learn to cope. But as a Jew he did not have to. He dealt with his crisis
thru prayer and song. He overcame his biochemical fears thru spiritual

I could go on but I think my point is clear. We Jews have resources and
stories not to mention halachic norms to back up the above approach to
life. We are not using it. There ARE things we can do---we can make sure
that every teenager in every community (particularly those who go to
dayschools) has an OUTLET to create prayer and to participate in chesed.
I dont need a study to justify this -- rather I will justify it after
the fact (REtroactive studies after the fact are indeed publishable in
respectable journals...they are simply not AS effective as double bind

So I close with a question: How certain are Mark and Sarah and the
others that such as approach is totally pointless? And if they agree it
could significantly help why are we disagreeing? Why dont we simply go
out there and do it. Mark and I will probably disagree if AFTER the
above is done AND someone becomes sick: should they pray or seek medical
attention but that is a SIDE DISCUSSION. The main point is too structure
the Jewish community in such a way that we are maximally protected.

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


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 01:11:19 GMT
Subject: Talking in Shul, a postscript

I would like to summarize and reiterate some of the points on talking in
shule. As I look back at the postings I see a) emotional statements b)
halachic statements and c)practices. Let me proceed in a sequential

It is observable (whether rightly or wrongly) that talking goes on in
shules. It is observable (as several have pointed out) that the talking
significantly increases during Mi Shebayrachs and other "boring parts"
of the service. Just to answer one halachic point: ALthough Jewish law
allows donations to be made in shule (Charitable matters) it doesnt
explicitly allow linkage with mention of all family members. So if Mr
Rich-Man wants to give $1000 to the shule that is fine (per aliyah!) But
if Mr Rich-Man then wants a mi-shebayrach enumerating all children,
grandchildren, and relatives, that is where people get bored (I know I
know...we are "praying for them" and so it is shule activity!)

The above is the "observable part." SOme postings have gotten emotional.
We FEEL as if we are in prison if we have to endure enumerations during
Mi Shebayrachs. We FEEL the urge to talk.

Of course FEELING does not justify violating law.

What I did is:GIVEN the above seek justification or support from Jewish
sources. I found a clear Beer Hetev that mentioned that "we can be
lenient these days when we have long Mi Shebayrachs." ALL I DID was find
support for observed behavior about which we have strong feelings.

There were postings that mentioned that I could justify "talk" vs
"conversation" Fine! Possibly true! But then I have accomplished

I also feel that people overlooked the stringency in my position: I was
not only allowing talking during mi shebayrachs...I was urging silence
during critical parts of the prayer (Baruch Sheamar till after recital
of the repetition of shmoneh esray and the leining).

Finally: I at one point pointed out that if say women in the women's
section are asking each other where certain hairdressers, clothing or
jewelery can be obtained one COULD perceive this as doing something
redemptive in shule (Since they are asking for how to make their own
marriages more fulfilling). Women are like this and share their secrets.
My legal position is that I see no difference between Mr Rich-Man
enumerating all his relatives and some women mentioning their favorite
hairdresser. They are "Tagging" talk to one redemptive activity (Mr Rich
Man is tagging enumeration of his relatives to one donation; the women
are tagging talking to improving their marriages--I dont see a
difference. I also dont see it as my having a right to check up on them
and make sure that what they are doing is redemptive!).

I per se dont really care if in the end we decide that you can just talk
a few Rashis, or converse or make donations with or without
enumerations....my real point (which has been overlooked) is that there
is legitimate support for certain talking in shules and this support
reflects current practices in our shules of overdoing mi shebayrachs and
donations. I dont think that aspect of my postings was picked up And if
it was I think we should spell out EXACLTY what is permissable. It is
not enought to cite the code of jewish law if several commentaries
dissent;that is the essense of my point.

On a humorous ending note: Several people mention the disgrace to the
children of talking during Ayn Caylokaynu. Well in one of the shules
where I lein there is a great deal of talking during Ayn Caylokaynu. We
typically ahve a a quoir of 2-3 6-10 year olds say Ayn Caylokaynu.

Are they demoralized by the talking? Hardly. They get up there and in
typical youthful enthusiams sing at the top of their lungs. They always
succeed in drowning out the congregation. In short these young children
see the talking as a challenge to their growing process rather than a
demoralizing influence. And when they get up there and sing in loud
voice you can see smiles all around the shule because these young
children have drowned out the adults and are destined to become great
gabaim who know how to deal with shules!

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd. ASA; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 01:07:21 GMT
Subject: Torture

I am a bit surprised at the dearth of responses on the torture issue. I
am even more surprised at Dr Broyde's article. I will show below that
torture is BIblically prohibited (and cite simple sources) Torture in
war is more complicated but it is prohibited.

First I ask the question "What is the prohbiition of torture in a non
war situation."

Here are the prohibitions. There is a Biblical prohibition of causing
damages (See Rambam Torts 5:1 who derives it from the prohbiition of
"excessive lashes to a convicted person how much more so to a non
convicted person" (See Dt25-03)). The rambam in Torts 2 explicitly
classifies "burning finger nails" (a well known torture) as Biblically
prohibited act subject to monetary fine.

The Rambam in laws of Sales (Chapters 13-15) explicitly prohibits all
verbal abuse as a violation of the law of Abuse laid down in Lv25 (There
are two verses one for monetary abuse and one for verbal abuse)

Finally (and this is most important for military matters) the Rambam in
the book of commandments indicates two reasons for prohibiting cursing
even a deaf mute. "You dont curse your fellow man (A biblical
prohibition) because you hurt him. YOu don't curse a deafmute (Lv19)
because you hurt yourself and become accustomed to dealing with stress
by unleashing violent tendencies."

Thus there is no doubt that torture is prohibited.

Next we get to torture in war. If I understand Dr Broyde's essay "Since
you can kill the enemy you can A FORTIORI do other things (like
torture)" But is that true? For example if you are killing a female
soldier can you rape her first? Certainly not.  Here we have an explicit
Biblical text (Dt22) which only allows relations with captives ONCE and
then has a ritual to desensitize you to her. But if Dr Broyde can use A
FORTIORIs (if you can kill you can torture) I too can use A FORTIORIs
and analogies (If you can only rape once because you are aroused during
battle then other tortures (which dont have a corresponding arousal
pattern) should not be allowed at all (or perhaps once!)).

But I have a stronger argument against using torture: The Bible
explicitly requires "opening all war with requests for peace treaties."
Jewish law spells out that in ANY war 3 options must be made (a) The
city can accept noachide law and Israel sovereignty (taxes) (b) war is
waged on 3 sides so that anyone who wants too can escape (C) if not you
have the right to "kill by sword" (either all males or all people
depending on the war).  There is NO allowance for any other
behavior. The war does not allow you to degrade people.

Let me analyze this further...suppose torture was allowed and the
torturee says "OK I convert" You must then stop.  Suppose the torturee
wants to escape...you have the right to kill him if he hasnt but not to
degrade him.

Finally I would bring in the Rambam on cursing: Only killing was allowed
in war...but if you allow biological experiments of torture then we
destroy ourselves by the crulety that we unleash. Jewish law for example
would not allow Biological experimentation (Similar to Dr Mengeles
tortures in Germany). We cannot cut off fingers or poke eyes out. We
have the right/obligation to kill. We dont have any other rights.  I
would also (as above) strongly argue that Dr Broyde's argument when
carried to extremes allows rape...that just doesnt sound right. War is
not a license to do whatever you feel like. It is a license to kill.

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


End of Volume 54 Issue 50