Volume 55 Number 27
                    Produced: Fri Aug  3  4:46:32 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunah Statistics
         [Aliza Berger]
         [Leona Kroll]
Authorship of the Zohar (3)
         [Lipman Phillip Minden, Eitan Fiorino, Jonathan Baker]
Avada Kedavra
         [Rose Landowne]
Becoming less observant (2)
         [Evan Rock, Carl Singer]
Congratulations and 234 pictures of the new olim from North America
         [Jacob Richman]
Meru Foundation/Stan Tenen Radio Interview
         [Levanah Tenen]


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 15:29:55 +0300
Subject: Agunah Statistics

Russell wrote:

> Again, Aliza should be thanked for her insightful comments on Agunah
> statistics. Aliza pointed out she "has a Ph.d in applied statitsics.
> Rather amusingly I disagree with the implications of this (The
> implications being that you need a ph.d to know how statistics are
> manipulated or how surveys are done).

That is not in fact what I meant to imply. I just meant that people
should take seriously what I wrote.

Aliza Berger-Cooper, PhD


From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2007 21:33:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Agunot


yet, there is an opinion that if she says the words 'you disgust me' to
him, in front of 2 witnesses,he is obligated to grant her a get, and
according to teh RamBam you can flog him til he agrees to give her a

In Isreal, 'flogging' has taken the form of revoking passports, drivers'
licenses, etc til he grants her a get.

allowing a man to make his wife an agunah is outside
of both jewish law and tradition.


From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 13:28:13 +0200
Subject: Re: Authorship of the Zohar

> Am I missing something here?
> If I wrote a long book on string theory without having a full and
> appropriate CV somehow attached, would any competent person read it? 

Some might, and they'd then judge it by the usual criteria like
plausability etc.

But don't publish it under your name - claim it's an unkown manuscript
by Einstein you just happened to find (even if it quotes several 1990s
articles from both Nature and Reader's Digest, contains the occasional
hip-hop slang word and allusions to The Simpsons, and string theory was
developed decades after Einstein's death), and see if people still buy
the story.

Lipman Phillip Minden

From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 09:15:27 -0400
Subject: RE: Authorship of the Zohar

> From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
> If the Zohar was actually written by Rashbi, it could be taken as
> divinely inspired and given a certain weight. (I understand that
> Chabad actually rules, in cases where the Talmud and Zohar contradict,
> like the Zohar) If it was a much later forgery by a brilliant but
> degenerate gambler, not so much.

I think it is wrong to think of the Zohar as a forgery.  It was written
by a serious medieval kabalist.  It became a foundation for the Lurianic
kabala that has infiltrated every corner of Judaism and almost every
area Jewish practice (if you are detecting here the bitterness of a
radical rationalist who would quite happily do away with every
kabbalistic innovation foisted upon Jewry in the last 400 years, or even
1000 years, including kabbbalat shabbat, tikkun leil shavuot and so
forth, your intuition is correct - but that is my own personal issue).
There is a long tradition of Jewish pseudepigraphy dating from Biblical
times, and it seems that there may have been a particular tradition of
false attribution in kabalistic works - I am thinking of much of the
merkavah literature, which includes pseuepigraphical works attributed to
Enoch, Moses and Abraham.  Without careful study of the use of
pseudipigraphical attribution in 13th century Spain, I would not even
assume that the attribution of the Zohar's authorship to Shimon bar
Yochai by Moses de Leon was merely an attempt to foster acceptance of
the work.  I'm not saying that such a reason shouldn't be the a priori
most likely explanation, but rather that one would have to understand
first if this was a relatively common literary device and if de Leon's
readers would have known/assumed/suspected that the attribution was not


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 10:18:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Authorship of the Zohar

From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
> If the Zohar was actually written by Rashbi, it could be taken as
> divinely inspired and given a certain weight. (I understand that
> Chabad actually rules, in cases where the Talmud and Zohar contradict,
> like the Zohar) If it was a much later forgery by a brilliant but
> degenerate gambler, not so much.

Well, even in that case, it's taken to be equivalent to a Rishon, albeit
perhaps a fishy Rishon like R' Yehuda heChasid or the Meiri, both of
which have been attacked for unorthodox ideas (at least by current
standards of Orthodoxy).  RMFeinstein even went so far as to rule
certain passages in the Sefer Chasidim to be forgeries.

I wish I could find that tape from R' Jeff Woolf where he talks about
the chassidicization of halacha, as the Zohar becomes more and more an
important halachic source.  The Real Old Time halachists, such as R'
Yosef Karo, a well-known kabbalist, kept kabbalah out of their halachic

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


From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 08:24:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Avada Kedavra

>> <"Abracadabra"... a phrase that suggestions creating something to
>> Harry Potter's "Avader-cadavera" (suggesting a cadaver)>
> Actually, the killing curse in Harry Potter is "Avada Kedavra"; in
> Aramaic "avada" is "to make", and I suspect Ms. Rowling knew that.

I saw it differently: I thought of "avada" with an Aleph, and saw it  
as a parallel to "Abara-cadabra",(I will create using words) meaning,  
"I will cause to be lost, destroyed, using words".

Rose Landowne


From: Evan Rock <theevanrock@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 07:57:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Becoming less observant

On becoming less observant I would like to suggest that the fault lies
in an area that most of the community would like to ignore. That area is
the day schools.

We take a false sense of comfort in sending our children to the day
schools in the belief that the fact that these are "frum" day schools
means that allthat goes on in there is fine and according to halakha.
Anecdotal evidence points to two areas where the buzz in the street and
around Shabbes lunch tables indicates that all is not fine in the day

Two schools come to mind, one in Manhatttan and the other in the greater
Philadelphia area.

This most prestigious school in Manhattan based on the facebook pages of
its students and their behavior post high school show a high burnt out
rate as measured by inter-marriage and becoming less observant.  The
school in Philadelphia tries to be everything to all its constituents
and fails miserably.

Failure measured by drop off rates, people silently moving elsewhere for
better schools, drug use and the children expressing their true thoughts
and feelings in the safe environments of facebook and youtube.

Perhaps we should take a closer look at what is happening or not
happening at the schools.

Evan Rock

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 07:53:15 -0400
Subject: Becoming less observant

> From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
> The recent article in the Sunday NY Times magazine by Noah Feldman has
> caused a bit of an uproar in the community. To summarize, Mr. Feldman, a
> modern Orthodox jew, educated at least through yeshiva high school and
> continued learning even while at Oxford, was also a baal koreh, - in
> short a frum yid; he then intermarries. (He's upset that the jewish
> community no longer "recognizes" him.)
> What bothers me about this issue is not Mr. Feldman's personal gripe,
> but rather how does someone as brilliant and accomplished an Orthodox
> Jew as Noah Feldman allow himself to intermarry; to begin down that
> path?
> More generally speaking, why do modern Orthodox / dati leumi Jews become
> less observant? Is this happening more in Israel - where many dati leumi
> live in closed/insular communities and the freedom they experience once
> they leave home is too much a temptation?
> Does our chinuch not educate towards why ritual mitzvot are so important
> as opposed to the bayn adom lachaveiro (man to man) mitzvot which are
> seemingly more ethics and morals and easy to observe from a societal
> point of view.
> Your thoughts please . . . .

This is a man bites dog situation.

That (and the perverse editorial policy of the NY Times' vis a vis
Jewish issues) is why it made it to print.  Statistically and
realistically there will always be outliers.

There will be children who grow up in non-kosher homes who become Torah
Observant.  There are children of mixed marriages who as adults are now
observant.  --- usually, without much fanfare and certainly without the
NY Times taking notice.

I believe stories like the one above upset us for good reason, because
we always like happy endings -- but, again, these stories are of little
real significance.  We have no way of knowing the home environment, and
myriad other factors.



From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2007 16:52:58 +0300
Subject: Congratulations and 234 pictures of the new olim from North America

Hi Everyone!

Congratulations to the 200 new olim who made aliyah today from 
North America to Israel.

I was at the airport and took pictures of the exciting event.
I posted the pictures online at:

When the first page appears, press the F11 key 
to view the full length of the pictures. To move from page to page, 
use the navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen.

May the aliyah from North America (and the rest of the world) grow and
bring more Jews back to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Have a great day,


From: Levanah Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 21:17:05 -0400
Subject: Meru Foundation/Stan Tenen Radio Interview


Starting at 2 AM Eastern time Monday morning August 6, Stan Tenen will
be a guest on the national overnight radio program, "Coast to Coast AM
with George Noory". This interview will run for three hours, until 5 AM
Eastern time (that's 11 PM-2AM August 5/6 Pacific). See
www.coasttocoastam.com/wheretolisten for stations that carry this
program; an Internet audio stream is also available through the Coast to
Coast website via their "Streamlink" subscription service.)

Stan will revisit the topic of "Intelligent Design" in the light of some
of Meru Foundation's recent findings, suggesting how current experiments
in quantum mechanics, quantum computing, and information theory can help
end the conflict between Darwinian evolution and Intelligent (intended)
Design. (For more on Meru Foundation's research into the Hebrew alphabet
and the letter-text of B'reshit, see www.meru.org.)

"Coast to Coast AM" is a call-in show, so if you're awake for the live
broadcast, please call in your questions.

Phone numbers, and international access phone numbers for those of you
outside of US or Canada, are listed on the "Coast to Coast AM" website
at http://www.coasttocoastam.com/info/callin.html

For information on receiving this show via streaming Internet, go to

For a list of radio stations in US and Canada that broadcast "Coast to
Coast", and a link to XM Satellite Radio information on the show, go to

--Levanah Tenen, Meru Foundation


End of Volume 55 Issue 27