Volume 54 Number 90
                    Produced: Mon Jun 11  6:02:51 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunos and m'soravos get (was some Latin title)
         [Elazar M. Teitz]
Aphorism Question
         [Leah Aharoni]
         [Leah Aharoni]
Greater Yetzer Hara
         [Leah Aharoni]
Importance of Schools
         [Carl Singer]
Synagogue Kosher Restaurant Link (2)
         [<chips@...>, Carl Singer]
Synagogue membership and dues
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 18:07:46 GMT
Subject: Re: Agunos and m'soravos get (was some Latin title)

Bernard Raab writes:

> I was struck by this analogy in this impressive essay, and believe it
> can be extended to further understanding. In mathematics, the square
> roots of neg numbers were thought not to exist. Then, in the 16th
> century, an inventive thinker suggested the concept of "imaginary"
> numbers (an unfortunate choice of word), two of which, when multiplied
> together, would result in a negative number. Since, in a sense, all
> numbers are imaginary in that they exist only in our imaginations 
> (think on that for a while), was it really such a stretch to define 
> this new class of number? Many mathemeticians apparently thought it 
> was. And then, a few centuries later, physicists found 
> that "imaginary" numbers could be really useful in describing some 
> physical processes, and are now routinely used by physicists and 
> electrical engineers.
> So what does this have to do with the Aguna/Msorevet l'get/etc. 
> problem? Perhaps it suggests that the solution, if there is to be 
> one, lies not in a rejection of halacha, but in an inventive and 
> imaginative extrapolation of the commonly accepted halacha. The real 
> problem, needless to say, is that such an extrapolation is bound to 
> be viewed with hostility by most poskim, and the usual agent of 
> change in halacha, i.e., acceptance by the observant lay community, 
> is almost completely powerless in this case since marriage is so 
> closely controlled by the Rabbinate. But over time, if it proves to 
> have real practical utility and gains strong public support, who 
> knows?

    His analogy perfectly explains what the problem is with his proposed
solution.  In order to get a square root of a negative number, is was
necessary to go outside the real-number system, because for every member
of that system other than zero, its square must be positive.  What
mathematicians did was to invent a new number system, the complex
numbers, of which the real numbers were a subset.

     So, too, if one wants to go outside the halachic system, to propose
a new system of which halacha is but a subset, "solutions" might be
found to the horrible problems of aguna and m'soravos get.  But just as
no real number can be the square root of a negative number, no real
halacha can permit what the Torah precludes.

     (The non-reaction in the above to his comments about how change in
halacha comes about, with its misstatement of fact and contempt for the
rabbinate, should not be interpreted as the silence of agreement.  It
is, rather, the refusal to respond to a remark I deem unworthy of



From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 20:39:07 +0300
Subject: Re: Aphorism Question

Danny Geretz asked:

> I recently heard the following Hebrew aphorism "Im yaish makom balev,
> yesh makom babayit" - When there is room in the heart, there is room in
> the house.
> Has anyone else ever heard this - does anyone know where it originated?

This is used quite often in Israel (happens to be true too)

Leah Aharoni
Hebrew/Russian/English translator
Email:  <leah25@...>


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 21:53:36 +0300
Subject: Conundrum

David Ziants wrote:

> For example there is the famous picture of Rabbi A.Y. on the podium at
> the opening of the Hebrew University, whereas the philosophy of Merkaz
> HaRav (Kook) yeshiva, when I was in one of their satellite yeshivot,
> seemed to be anti anything to do with university.

Rav A. Y. Kook's support for the university was conditioned on certain
understandings reached with the founders of HU, including a moratorium
on the study of Biblical Criticism. Needless to say, HU did not honor
these understandings and went on to create an institutional culture
which Rav T.Y. Kook (and his followers) unacceptable. So, I am not sure
that it is possible to deduce that Rav Tzvi Yehuda was more militant in
his opposition to secular studies.

> ... if a movement is needed for being "religious" and being a
> "zionist" but not "religious zionist", then I think the Po'alei Agudat
> Yisrael (PAI) concept supports this. They are religious and chareidi
> and being advocates of working the Land and building the State they
> are possibly entitled to the definition of being "Zionist".

You mean "supported." It was probably this compartmentalization that led
to the demise of PAI o.b.m.

Leah Aharoni


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 21:39:47 +0300
Subject: Greater Yetzer Hara

Baruch wrote:
>Does anyone have any insight to the maxim: "the higher one's level, the
>greater their evil inclination." Does this mean that the Gedolei HaDor
>of our time have a greater Yetzer HaRah for the sins that entice us
>regular folk?

Chazal say "HKBH medakdek im tzadikim kechut haseara" which literally
means that God hold the tzaddikim accountable even for a
hairbreadth. Based on this statement, it's clear that tzaddikim have to
live up to higher standards and face challenges that are different from
those facing us "regular humans."

Rav Dessler in Michtav Meeliyahu explains that life circumstances of
each individual define the challenges he is facing. Positive decisions
(actions) help him progress, while negative once cause a regression. So,
while the nature of moral dilemmas faced by a tzaddik and a thief is
completely different, both of them nevertheless have to make moral
decisions fitting with their current level. The objective is therefore
to move as high up as possible from the initial rung on the spiritual

To illustrate, there is a famous Chasidic story about the Chernobyl
Rebbe who was approached by a poor man requesting a large sum of money
for the marriage of his daughter. That same day the rebbe received the
exact amount needed and his initial inclination was to contribute the
money for the wedding. Then, the Rebbe thought that it's better to
divide the money between several families and thus benefit more
people. The Rebbe then proceeded to lock himself up in his study for
several hours to figure out what to do, realizing that one of these
ideas came from the yetzer hara in order to prevent him from performing
the mitzvah in the best way possible.

When faced with similar dilemmas, most of us do not perceive the yetzer
hara in the decision-making progress. For an average person, either
decision would be praiseworthy. a tzaddik, on the other hand, must find
the optimal way in each mitzvah and that's quite a challenge.

Leah Aharoni
Hebrew/Russian/English translator
Email:  <leah25@...>


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 09:39:24 -0400
Subject: Importance of Schools

From: <skyesyx@...>
>Reb Shaya wrote:
>> In any case, let's not forget that the strength of any Jewish
>> community is not found in the Federation nor the Yeshiva....it is the
>> Shul and its' climate of camaraderie and conduct of 'beyn adam
>> l'chavero'. Before Kristelnacht and the Shoah, the most established
>> Kehilot in Europe were due to the strength, success and infrastructure
>> of the synagogue, its rabbi and lay leadership.
>If the shul ever was the focus of strength in a Jewish community it
>certainly is not the case today.  (I would posit that in earlier
>generations the family and home was most important.)
>Today the center of a vibrant Orthodox community is its schools.    

1 - Many of us are "beyond" school in that having paid hundreds of
thousands of dollars in tuition over the years and watched our children
grow up we no longer are linked to the community schools, except when
they request donations.

2 - If schools are so important then why don't we have well-trained
professional educators running them -- smicha, alone, is not sufficient
to enable someone to develop curricula, manage a school, teach to each
child's strengths, etc.  AND WHY DON'T WE PAY OUR JEWISH EDUCATORS

Carl Singer


From: <chips@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 10:54:30 -0700
Subject: Re: Synagogue Kosher Restaurant Link

I dislike "Kosher Restaurant" lists that are currently available. you
can not know if they are even current.

    what would be of more use if a listing of eateries that has who
gives the hashgacha -and- a copy of the teudah -and- the contact
information for the mashgiach.

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 10:25:20 -0400
Subject: Synagogue Kosher Restaurant Link

Do shules communicate their "official" policy via websites?  In many, if
not most, cases the website is maintained by a volunteer to does his or
her best but certainly does not speak on behalf of the shule in an
official capacity.  Re: Kashruth, I would suggest contacting the
certifying agency to find out what their standards are and / or
contacting the Rabbi of the shule behind the website to discuss with

Carl Singer


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 06:26:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Synagogue membership and dues

Chana Luntz <chana@...> wrote:
> Yes but I do not think many of our communal institutions genuinely offer
> this.  To bring a personal example, for years, even after I married
> Sephardi, I paid my dues to the local United (Ashkenazi) Synagogue,
> despite rarely going, on the basis that we could afford it, and that it
> was appropriate to support my local community institution (and thereby
> keep the fees lower for others who might not be so fortunate).  However,
> about a year ago, I am afraid I resigned my membership. [snip]
> As I wrote to them:
> "It seems perfectly clear from the passages quoted above [which I quoted
> in my letter] that the Shul, including the Board of Membership and the
> Rabbi, neither welcomes nor expects to have as members, the aged, the
> infirm, the pregnant or those with the responsibility of looking after
> small children.
> I do not think
> that even were circumstances to be different, I would want to be
> associated with an institution that so totally ignores the existence of
> the weaker and more vulnerable members of our community".
> They wrote back to me promising that I would be taken off the security
> rota list, but sure enough, a month later, I get another one of these
> letters.  What particularly frustrated me, I confess, even after I
> remonstrated again, is that they did not seem able to understand, at any
> level, why I might find a letter sent out with the tone above so
> exclusionary.  I can fully understand their point about the security
> risks facing synagogues and other Jewish institutions today.  However,
> nobody, but nobody, drafts the pregnant, the injured, the elderly and
> those responsible for small children, and the assumption that ALL
> members of a Shul are able to do security and can be gaily added to a
> list, makes a clear statement that this is not a community that expects
> to include such people.  So, at least now in this case, it doesn't.  
>  But rather, many Shuls
> seem merely to be about making demands, whether financial, or as in this
> case, in terms of time commitment, without any regard to the particular
> situation of their members.  And given the availability of options,
> people vote with their feet and their pocket books.

Sorry to quote at length but I didn't want to destroy the context.

I think Chana is being a bit hard on the synagogue in question. I agree
that it was thoughtless to send out such letters to the membership at
large without having people familiar with the personal situations of the
congregants cull the list first to remove from the rota those people who
were unlikely to be able to fulfill security duties due to health or
family situations. However, I think that a letter pointing out this
oversight would have been more appropriate than blasting the leadership
for ignoring/not encouraging membership of people in those situations. I
doubt very much that the shul's security policy is meant to send the
message that they do not welcome as members any but the young and fit.

-- Janice


End of Volume 54 Issue 90