Volume 54 Number 93
                    Produced: Tue Jun 12 20:33:03 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunot and M'soravot Get
         [Joseph Kaplan]
Bicycle on Shabbat
         [Richard Fiedler]
Fiat Libellus Repudii
         [Dr. Ben Katz]
Importance of Shuls
         [Daniel Geretz]
Jewish community in Poland (2)
         [Art Werschulz, Shalom Berger]
Kosher Jew
         [Daniel Geretz]
Our ancestors didn't know halacha
         [Jonathan Baker]
Rabbi Kook philosophy on secular University learning
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
R.Z.Yehudoh Kook z"l and University
         [David Ziants]
University & Rav Tzvi Yehudah
         [Yisrael Medad]
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 09:34:07 -0400
Subject: Agunot and M'soravot Get

Since R. EM Teitz -- whose thoughtful, informative and erudite posts
always move the discussion forward and provide serious food for thought
-- took the "square root of a negative number" analogy seriously with
respect to the aguna/m'soravos get issue, I'd like to look at that
analogy from perhaps a different angle than the one used by R. Teitz.
Thus, rather than say, as R. Teitz did, that those mathematicians who
came up with imaginary numbers went "outside the real number system" to
do so, I would suggest that they found something within mathematics
itself that had been there all along, just waiting to be discovered so
as to solve existing problems.  And, as the history of mathematics and
physics have proven, imaginary numbers were not imaginary at all; they
were quite real in describing other, quite real, physical processes;
they always were an integral part of the basic fabric of mathematics.
And from this perspective, the question that some ask, hopefully in a
respectful tone, is whether it not possible that there are "imaginary
numbers" within, and not outside of, the halachic system that can be
used, with creativity, sensitivity and courage, to solve, in R. Teitz's
words, "the horrible problems of aguna and m'soravos get"?

Joseph Kaplan


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 20:17:22 +0300
Subject: Re: Bicycle on Shabbat

> I have read a of a Rav who discussed the issues of bike riding on
> Shabbat at length with Rav Ovadia Yosef, who proceeded to raise and
> then refute numerous objections to it.(Similar to his teshuva on
> Shabbat swimming).

> When asked why then he would not publicly give a heter for Shabbat
> bike riding, Rav Yosef was quoted: "If I did they would stone me".  >
> Avinoam Bitton

Actually Rav Ovadia Yosef wrote a complete confirmation of the Ben Eish
Hai's Heter to ride a bicycle on Shabbat to deliver a shiur in another
part of the city even thought there was no eruv. But here he again said
not to do it today as it will upset the Ashkenazim.

It is a fact of Orthodox life that the halakic process is dominated by
the intimidation of ones' peers.


From: Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 11:02:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Fiat Libellus Repudii

>From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
>From: Jay F (Yaakov) Shachter <jay@...>
> > The person to whose post I am responding is apparently convinced that
> > the minds that can find 150 ways to declare a bug ritually pure can
> > surely find 1 way to break the marriage bonds of an abandoned wife.
> > But, in fact, there are not 150 ways for an intellectually honest mind
> > to declare a bug ritually pure.  There are not 48 ways.  There is not
> > even half a way.  The only way you can declare a bug ritually pure is by
> > deciding beforehand that you want to declare the bug ritually pure, and
> > then by developing the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to
> > perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if
> > they are inimical to your predetermined conclusion, and of being bored
> > or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a
> > contrary direction.  It also needs a sort of athleticism of mind, an
> > ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the
> > next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors.
>I remember reading that the "150 reasons to declare a sheretz tahor and
>150 reasons to declare a sheretz tamei" as a requirement for being on
>the Sanhedrin was *not* that the candidate had to come up with
>*legitimate* reasons.  He had to show that he could argue effectively
>and convincingly on both sides.  However, he also had to keep in mind
>the only real reason that a sheretz is tamei, that the Torah declares
>that it is.  I remember a story about the Steipler (?) giving a shiur on
>chametz in which he asked why chametz was asur on Pesach.  He was able
>to disprove all the great philosophical and mystical reasons that his
>students proposed.  Finally , in said just, "the Torah says so".
>Another example are the health reasons that some people give for the
>rules of kashrus.
>We have to remember with all of our halachos, no matter what that the
>only real reason is that Hashem commanded it.

         But the Omnicient One would never command us to do anything
frivolous, stupid or illogical.  (Whether we can always understand God's
intent is another matter, although Rambam did a pretty good job of
explaining nearly all the commandments, with a notable exception being
parah adumah.  Recall that for Rambam the distinction between a chok and
a mishpat is not whether we understand the commandments, but how OBVIOUS
the reason for the commandment is.)


From: Daniel Geretz <dgeretz@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 14:15:24 -0400
Subject: Importance of Shuls

In 54:86, <skysyx@...> (anonymous?) writes:

"Today the center of a vibrant Orthodox community is its schools."

I guess I don't understand the rush to argue about the focus of a
community.  Certainly, there are a number of institutions that are
important in any community - a mikva, a day school, a shul (some say an
eruv, and some say a kosher pizza shop, too.)

I don't think that Reb Shaya's statement that the shul is a strength of
a community takes away from the importance of other institutions.  Reb
Shaya is correct in his assertion that a shul (defined as a place to
pray and a place to learn) is the main place in any Jewish community
where *any* member of Klal Yisrael can go to have opportunities to
engage in mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro.

Danny Geretz


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 08:17:39 -0400
Subject: Jewish community in Poland


The only time I was in Warsaw was in the early 1980s.  At that time,
there was a kosher canteen that was open for lunch only, and there were
Shabbat morning services at the Noczyk shul.

Things are better now.  The Warsaw Jewish community has a website at
Only one page appears to be in English
But this might give a starting point.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu

From: Shalom Berger <lookjed@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 09:22:40 +0300
Subject: Jewish community in Poland

Dear Leah,

I assume that you are looking for information about Kashrut and
possibilities for Shabbat.

To the best of my knowledge (I guide groups to Poland a couple of times
a year). you can find something of a functioning Shabbat community in
Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz. Rabbi Shudrich in Warsaw supervises some local
kashrut products but they are not readily available. There is a small
hotel in Krakow (the Eden) that is owned by a traditional fellow and you
can probably get kosher tuna fish there, but not much more than that
(well, there is a mikveh downstairs, too). The Jewish community in Lodz
has real kosher catering for groups, but I don't know whether they will
accomodate a single request.

In other words, you will be best off bringing your own. If you let me
know where you will be for Shabbat, perhaps I can make specific

Rabbi Shalom Z. Berger, Ed.D.
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora
School of Education, Bar-Ilan University
Blogging at http://schmoozed.lookstein.org/


From: Daniel Geretz <dgeretz@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 14:51:54 -0400
Subject: Kosher Jew

In MJ 54:89, Abbi Adest writes:

> Not every Orthodox Jew views it as realistic to keep all the laws of the
> Shulchan Aruch. Most just do the best they can. There are Jews who feel
> comfortable relying on lenient opinions (as the case of women's hair
> covering clearly illustrates) and clearly they still align themselves
> with the Orthodox community.

According to the original poster, then, I guess there is no such thing
as a kosher Jew. For example, some of us (men) do not follow those laws
in the Shulchan Aruch pertaining to ritual immersion in a mikva after
menstruating, while others of us (women) have the nerve to walk around
uncircumcised.  Most of us are not kohanim, and refuse to duchan on Yom
Tov when asked to do so.

I side with Abbi in this debate.  I am sure what the original poster
meant was that "a kosher Jew does his or her best to keep all the laws
of the Shulchan Aruch that apply to him or to her."


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 13:43:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Our ancestors didn't know halacha

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>

> > THIS IS THE KEY ISSUE.  Many practises evolved in very observant
> > communities as a result of sincere piety that are not necessarily
> > "halachically" correct.

It's very fashionable to say "our ancestors didn't know halacha", even
if it contravenes ideas such as "earlier generations were closer to
Sinai", if it can be invoked to support a change from ancestral custom.

E.g., we don't deal in the big shiurim on Pesach.  Since our seder
practice comes from my grandmother - my grandfather was non-religious -
which comes from her father, and her grandfather, who came from Poland
(Serock, near Warsaw) in 1870, before the Chazon Ish and his big shiurim
came around, we eat small bits of matza (a few sq. in. ea.), moror-
horseradish with charoset together, etc.

> Let me take one last try at this topic. I would agree with your
> statement if you define ""halachically" correct"" as meaning looking at
> the issue at hand through the lens of a later generation where there has
> been a coalescence around an alternative position to the one taken by
> that community (and apparently sanctioned by its rabbinic leadership)

> Let me give but one example.  What is the bracha on (what we now call)
> grape juice? If your (great)grandparents lived in the US in the early
> 20th century, it was not borei pri hagafen. We can discuss why on

Yay!  Another person besides my mother who remembers that nobody made
kiddush on grape juice, because it wasn't hagafen!


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 09:42:32 EDT
Subject: Rabbi Kook philosophy on secular University learning

Mechy Frankel (MJv54n89) and David Ziants before him brought some ideas
about the position of Rav Kook vis a vis secular university learning.
As you know Rav Kook, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and his
Sepharadi counterpart participated in the official ceremony of the
opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus in
1925. The speech of Rav Kook is available and a couple of year ago
Professor Israel Bartal from Hebrew University published an article on
it and brought the original text (_Toldot haOniversitah HaIvrit
biRushalayim_ (1997) 311-319.) I read Rav Kook speech and found him very
concerned what will be the outcome of that institution in relationship
to Jewish learning. He was very much on the fence. One of his last
sentences was "ufachad veRachav levavchem" (Isaiah 60:5) [=and thy heart
will dread and be enlarged] is the manifestation of his ambivalence. He
also said explicitly "Yehi ratzon sh'lo te-erah takala al yadi..." [=let
it be that a mishap would not be the outcome (of this university) by
me...] My free translation - GJG.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 15:49:54 +0300
Subject: Re: R.Z.Yehudoh Kook z"l and University

>From what you say, it seems that Merkaz HaRav (and it's off-shoots)
became more fundamental regarding to outside cultures at a later stage in
it's history. Nowadays the label "chardal"

(= chareidi dati le'umi) is used to describe such a hashkafa.

Maybe after the six-day war as Merkaz HaRav was  becoming the spiritual
center of the settlement movement, it set itself parameters that
rejected anything that did not fall within the domains of Torah study
(and of course doing mitzvot) and populating the Land of Israel. This
was still different than the "black" yeshivot that confined them self to
the 4 Amot of Torah and private individual mitzvot only (maybe also
community mitzvot, but not national mitzvot).

Within the parameters that Merkaz haRav set itself, the yeshiva never
became "black" in the sense that its kippa is still the kippa seruga
(knitted kippa) although sometimes a little bit larger, and only a
handful of its students wear black suits.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 20:09:07 +0300
Subject: University & Rav Tzvi Yehudah

As for Mechy Frankel's personal experience, the greatest student of Rav
Tzvi Yehuda's father, The Nazir, went to Freiberg University and
suggested a curriculum for the Merkaz HaRav Yeshivah in 1922-23 that
utilized academic research.

Funny that.

Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 21:58:27 +0300
Subject: Why?

Dan Werlin asks:
> Is anyone aware of the origin and reason for the Lubavitch version (and
> of any other variations)?

I could say that they do not need a source but that wouldnt be fair.
They have their own Shulchan Arukh as well as Minhagim and for them,
that's enough.

Why don't they say Akdamut?

Yisrael M.


End of Volume 54 Issue 93