Volume 55 Number 49
                    Produced: Tue Aug 21  9:44:31 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Converational Hebrew
         [Daniel Geretz]
Names of Plants
         [Daniel Geretz]
Nekudas HaBechira
         [Daniel Geretz]
"Orthodox don't contribute"
         [Len Lindwe]
Query re messianic era
         [Shayna Kravetz]
Using someone else's property (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Carl Singer]
Web Yeshiva - Elul Shiurim
         [Jeffrey Saks]
Yeshiva High School Staffing
         [Stuart Feldhamer]


From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:10:52 -0400
Subject: Converational Hebrew

I want to point out that being able to speak conversational Hebrew has
very little to do with a Jewish Day School education.

Both of my aunts, who attended public school in Minneapolis in the 40's
and 50's, and attended the Minneapolis Talmud Torah after school.  They
both moved to Israel after college.  When I visited Israel earlier this
year, both them independently remarked to me that, at that time, the
Minneapolis Talmud Torah had a reputation of turning out students who
were able to speak conversational Hebrew well (albeit with a "US"

Note: My aunts were first-generation Americans, and grew up in a house
where their parents spoke predominantly Yiddish.

Thus, I think a *commitment* to teaching conversational Hebrew is most
important - the environment in which Hebrew is taught is secondary, at
best.  The argument that day school programs/first-year-college programs
are incapable of teaching conversational Hebrew due to some external
factors (as opposed to lack of commitment to do so) does not hold much
water for me.

Danny Geretz


From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:27:47 -0400
Subject: Names of Plants

I am currently reading "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond.  He has
an interesting section on the book about development of farming in
prehistoric times.  If your Jewish "weltanshaung" (always wanted to use
that word) is consistent with the thesis of evolution, his discussion on
the transition from wild native species to domestic cultivated hybrids
may inform some of your studies.

IOW, not all cultivars discussed in the Mishna have modern-day analogs.
Don't expect to go to the grocery store and find all of the
grains/pulses/vegetables discussed there.

For an admittedly trivial example: as a child, I frequently ate lentils.
The lentils I was familiar with, and that are available in grocery
stores in the US are dark brown. The "adom adom" (red stuff) that Eisav
used to refer to "nezid adashim" (lentil stew) made no sense to me -
until I went to an Indian grocery as an adult and saw that, indeed, some
lentils are actually reddish-pink.

While I'm on the subject - the book also has an interesting discussion
about the size of "wild" vs. "domestic" fruit - the ideas discussed in
the book may have some relevance in understanding the discrepancies
between our understanding of the "shiurim" (quantities/sizes) discussed
in the gemara and our modern-day experience.

Danny Geretz


From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:38:54 -0400
Subject: Nekudas HaBechira

Carl Singer writes:

> But then again, in life, as in chess, one may think many moves ahead
> -- thus is the "instance" not a single decision, but the series or
> sequence of interdependent decisions.

OTOH, in chess, you are dealing with one opponent and a limited number
of possible moves.  Even so, the number of possible outcomes increases
exponentially as you go out more than one or two moves (estimated at
30^6, or over 700,000,000, for three moves for each side.) In reading
about progress in computer chess, "thinking ahead" is a non-trivial

When you involve more than one other party, with a much wider latitude
of possible decisions/outcomes, "thinking ahead" increases in difficulty
by at least an order of magnitude.

Danny Geretz


From: <LenLinder@...> (Len Lindwe)
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2007 00:35:45 EDT
Subject: RE: "Orthodox don't contribute"

> From: Anonymous
>> From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
>> [snip]
>> So you are telling me that these "subtle and not so subtle" 
>> effects outweigh the huge amount of money that the Orthodox 
>> are paying in taxes and not using at all!!!  Come on!!
>I live in a fairly densely Orthodox suburb of New York City.  I have a
>neighbor (not Jewish) who was on the local Board of Ed for over 10
>years.  She reiterated to me time and time again that they would love to
>have Orthodox kids in the schools (though she fully appreciates why that
>does not happen and why it will never happen).  The problem for our
>town, and for at least some other heavily Orthodox communities, is that
>the local school districts serve communities with a wide socioeconomic
>base, and in general the Orthodox Jews are not moving into the
>economically depressed areas.  Rather, they are taking a larger and
>larger slice out of the middle and upper middle class areas, and so the
>entire school demographic can shift literally within a generation and
>the entire character of the school can change very quickly.

One minor point is being left out by Anonymous

In New York City, as in many other localities, the amount of school aid
allocated to public schools is direclty related to the number of
children that ATTEND those schools.

Since yeshiva kids do not attend public schools their presence in the
community does not add a pfennig to public education and do in fact by
their absence deprive the public schools of badly needed funds.

If the parents of those kids then run for the local school board and
divert funds from the public schools to yeshivot, well that simply makes
the situation worse.

Personally (having sent 2 kids through the yeshiva system from K
-12) I think it is incumbent upon us to realize that we made a choice to
not avail ourselves of a public service and that there are financial
consequences to that choice, and therefore we shoulkd direct our efforts
towards making yeshiva education looked at a (Jewish) community
responsibility rather than a consumer good.

But arguing that we aid public education by holding our kids out of
it is not true and is in fact sheer bushwah.

Len Lindwe


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 17:15:41 -0500
Subject: Query re messianic era

On another list frequented by both Jews and non-Jews, a non-Jew asked
what the Jewish beliefs concerning the Messiah were.  (Don't worry, the
intelligent members of this other list are aware that Jesus is
irrelevant to the question.)

However, another Jewish member responded:
>When the Messiah comes, the world will end.

This member, while currently attending an egalitarian Conservative
synagogue, has been educated all over the map, including both Reform and
Orthodox schooling as a child.  But when I asked her for chapter and
verse for the above, she was unable to provide it; however, she said
that it had been the universal assumption in the various institutions
where she had been educated, regardless of their affiliation.  Indeed,
she regarded it as so obvious that she began by saying that this was an
exception to the "Two Jews, three opinions" rule.

This statement of hers is completely inconsistent with my understanding
of the effect of the arrival of the Mashiakh.  Am I completely out to
sea here?  Have I missed an important part of Jewish eschatology?  Where
might such a belief have arisen?

I am particularly looking for sources within normative Judaism.
(Another list member over there suggested that this idea had oozed into
Judaism from our days in the Babylonian exile, when we would have rubbed
up against the ideas of Zoroastrianism, which apparently includes such a

Thanks in advance for any helpful responses.  Le-shanah tovah tikateivu.

Shayna in Toronto


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:30:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Using someone else's property

> From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> ...
> Can we conclude, then, that the use of the left-behind batting helmet
> (the question that started this discussion) would be permitted as a
> matter of mitzvah (pikuach nefesh), since the person who left it behind
> can be presumed to want it to be used to prevent injury to another
> person?

Since there is no halachic obligation to play baseball (as far as I
know), the most prudent resolution, if pikuach nefesh ["saving a life"]
is an issue, would be to avoid playing altogether rather than borrowing
someone else's helmet.  Otherwise, the possibilities are endless ... I
walk by a ham sandwich knowing that I will die if I stand next to it
without eating if for a few weeks ... should I therefore eat it?

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:02:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Using someone else's property

It appears there are so many complications in applying the theory to the
reality.  Be it helmets, tephillen, whatever.

In simplest cases, where there is no danger of a defective item and no
danger of damaging the item, and (?) use does not signifcantly diminish
the item (here's another example -- borrowing a ball point pen) where
does halacha stand?

And also, although communication is not possible prior to the event (as
the situation was drawn) -- is communication REQUIRED after the event --
must one leave a note that states: I borrowed your item .... thank you
..... if any problems ..... I've made a contribution to tzedukah in your
z'chus ....  whatever.  Or is it permissable to simply return the item
to its original locale and "walk away?"



From: Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2007 11:44:32 +0300
Subject: Web Yeshiva - Elul Shiurim

ATID's Web Yeshiva
Free Online Interactive Shiurim for Elul and the Yamim Noraim 

Prepare for the Yomim Tovim by joining either or both of these pilot
shiurim of ATID's Web Yeshiva. Learn Torah over the Internet, while
seeing and interacting with your teachers and fellow students, from the
comfort of your own computer.

Sundays, Tuesdays & Thursdays
5:00 PM Jerusalem Time (for 1 hour)
Preparation in advance strongly recommended.
Advanced Gemara Shiur with Rishonim for men, learning assorted sugyot
me-inyanei de-yoma.  Starts Sunday, August 26th until Sukkot.

RAMBAM'S HILKHOT TESHUVA with Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Mondays and Wednesdays
4:00 PM Jerusalem Time (for 1 hour)
Preparation optional.
Open to men and women regardless of previous background. Exploring
Maimonides' classic Laws of Repentance. Starts Monday, August 27 until

ATID's Web Yeshiva is a fully interactive learning experience. Join now for
one or both of these shiurim being offered for free during our early pilot
phase, and be a pioneer of the Web Yeshiva wherever you may be in the world.
AT <RAUSMAN@...> OR CALL 02-567-1719.

* Internet connection
* Webcam 
* Headset with microphone 
* Sefarim are not necessary (texts provided online)
After Sukkot, Web Yeshiva will be expanding with programs for men and women,
offering shiurim in English on Gemara, Tanakh, Jewish Thought, and Halakhah.
At a later stage we will offer classes in Hebrew and Russian, and launch a
division geared especially for Jewish high school students in partnership
with Diaspora Day Schools.

Click here http://www.atid.org/shiur for Rabbi Brovender's Weekly Parsha
Shiur in English -- available online, in Podcast or at iTunes. 

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Director, ATID - Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions
9 HaNassi Street, Jerusalem 92188 Israel
Tel. 02.567.1719 | Cell 052.321.4884 | Fax 02.567.1723
Email <atid@...> | www.atid.org


From: Stuart Feldhamer <stuart.feldhamer@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 21:42:30 -0400
Subject: RE: Yeshiva High School Staffing

As I said, I was providing a data point. I feel qualified to speak about
my own personal experiences as a student in the school. I never said
that the people I mentioned never did anything useful, but I definitely
believe that cuts could have been made without sacrificing the quality
of the education.

Now to your comment that "Is it really so far-fetched to imagine that
they have actually got something right with respect to their staffing
needs?", my answer is no, but it certainly isn't far-fetched to imagine
that they've gotten it wrong either. Yeshiva of Flatbush High School
currently costs about $21,000 per year. If they really had everything so
well figured out as you posit, then presumably they could also figure
out how to keep the tuition affordable.



End of Volume 55 Issue 49