Volume 55 Number 63
                    Produced: Wed Sep  5  5:15:03 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Immanuel Burton]
Da'as Torah
         [Martin Stern]
Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations
         [Daniel Wells]
Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew? (3)
         [Akiva Miller, Jeanette Friedman, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Its not even wrong
         [Michael Frankel]
Low Morals
         [Carl Singer]


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 16:33:22 +0100
Subject: RE: Correction

In Mail.Jewish v55n62, Ari Trachtenberg posted a correction on his
original statement of:

> First of all, my understanding is that karet is only punished for
> relations during menses, and, even then, one would require witnesses,
> knowledge, etc.  If a woman never goes to the mikveh, but does not
> have relations during her menses, it's not clear to me that the
> punishment would be so severe.

Something that struck me about this was the statement that the karet
punishment for relation during menses requires witnesses, knowledge,
etc, in order to be administered.

Does the God-implemented punishment of karet really require witnesses?
If I knowingly and with malice aforethought eat leaven on Pesach in the
privacy of my own home, will I not be subject to karet?

Immanuel Burotn


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 16:19:34 +0100
Subject: Da'as Torah

The faction which has taken over my shul and radically altered its
character justify their changes by claiming to be based on an anonymous
"Da'as Torah".  Since this term seems to be used rather frequently
nowadays it has to all intents and purposes been emptied of meaning. Can
anyone explain how one can tell the genuine article from its many
purported imitations?

Martin Stern


From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 00:26:41 +0300
Subject: Re: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

> From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>

> It is cold, halakhic reasoning which leads us to the following
> conclusions:
> a) It is a mitzvah help non-observant Jews find spouses.

I'm getting flabbergasted that this discussion is going on so long and
that people are so definitive as to what the halacha is and isn't. And
that that people can countenance aveiros leshem mitzvos.

In my humble opinion since kol israel areivim zeh lezeh, if you push for
a union that will cause a Jew to sin thru cohabitation with a goy or
with a niddah, then surely you are just as guilty and will have what to
answer for in the next world, that's if you are not struck down first by
a modern day Pinchas as he attempts to rid the world of the Zimri's and

According to the majority opinion in the Gemara, mitzva shehitkayma al
yedei avera, posula

In other words there is no mitzva if the end result will be an aveira.

The simple answer would appear to be Shev-Al-Taaseh, don't get involved
if you can't prevent the union.



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 13:46:39 GMT
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

First, I'd like to applaud Avi's excellent post, distinguishing how we
should treat Jews who convert out, from what their actual identity
is. I'd like to take that a step further.

Marilyn Tomsky wrote:
> I had been brought up, that once you converted to another religion you
> were not Jewish and you were no longer a Jew...  My niece's mother (my
> sister in law) converted to Buddhism and became an extremely devout
> Buddhist. ... She raised her children as Buddhists.  Every one of her
> four children converted to Christianity and raised their children as
> Christians.  None of them are interested in becoming practicing
> Jews... Now I must think and try to accept this new idea.

Here's an idea which might help you "to accept this new idea": Those
children are not interested in becoming practicing Jews, but how do you
think G-d feels about it?

Or: How do you think G-d feels about the mother not practicing Judaism?
What does G-d feel when she eats non-kosher food, or eats on Yom Kippur?
Does G-d just give a resigned sigh, and say, "I was upset when she
converted, but she's not Jewish any more. It would be nice if she
converted back, but hey, that's what I gave her free will for. Until and
unless she makes that step, I'm stuck."

If that is indeed what G-d feels, then I would have to redefine my
understanding of words like "obligated" and "forbidden", because I could
simply convert out and not be bothered with any of this any more. No, it
seems to me that being Jewish is something one cannot opt out of. It is
part of one's identity (and, as a logical result, it is also part of the
identity of a woman's children, for all generations).

Akiva Miller

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 12:18:38 EDT
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

the attitude expressed by this poster regarding the 1940s is rather
incredible since during the war children in hiding were forced to
convert, and some parents converted by choice when they could to save
lives of their children (and yes, there were places where conversion WAS
able to save some Jews, though this was against Nazi policy.)

i would think that rabbinic "leniencies" from 1945 on were applied to
bring these children back to Judaism. There is the classic Rabbi
Schoenfeld story about the time after the war, when he walked through
convent dormitories singing the Shma...if this is not an apocryphal
story, at least the message is there.

we were taught in beis yakov, once a Jew, always a Jew, and there is
"fish" story that goes with it. furthermore, there was always the last
minute reprieve before death to do teshuva, that would count literally
and figuratively.

this situation of once a Jew always a Jew makes sense, particularly for
those who converted during the Holocaust. such a leniency policy falls
in line with the matter of agunot after the Holocaust.

one more point. lustiger believed he could help the jews from within the
catholic church. i find that extremely interesting, since i am
acquainted with a famous european woman who was married to a prominent
Holocaust survivor, never converted, and worked harder than anyone i
know to trace the history of the hasidic side of her family, organized
and financed countless important Holocaust scholar's and survivors
seminars, and worked deep within her church to change the antisemitic
hatred in their policies. she always said it was more effective to do
that as a christian that it would have been to do it as a jew.

there is a need for jews on all points of the spectrum...you never know
who will be useful (that does not include Robert Novack). we all need
each other, even it is to throw rocks at each other, a tradition that
goes back in the jewish community for thousands of years. remember that
Nero and Titus were able to conquer Jerusalem because of civil war, and
the Romans tried to save the Beis Hamikdash, not destroy it. It was a
group of ultra-Zealots who set fire to the pillars in front of the
western entrance and it was all downhill from there, after four years of
trying not to get the city burned to the ground. the civil wars during
the time of the second beis hamikdash and the way those wars were
fought, and the duplicity of the leaders, including murders of the
students of Hillel by the students of Shammai concerning war with Rome,
well, it makes you think about all sorts of stuff.

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <SabbaHillel@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 14:12:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

> From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
> P.S.
>> The court rejected [Brother Daniel's] application, saying that
>> under the common, and common-sense, understanding of what it means to be
>> a Jew, being a Jew and a Christian are mutually exclusive identities.
> The Law of Return as I read it 10 years ago, specifically EXcludes Jews
> who have converted to another religion.  I'm sure it hasn't changed
> since then but I'm not certain it was always that way.  It also INcudes
> children, spouses, and probably parents (but I don't directly recall) of
> Jews, and I'm guessing it was always that way.

The original law as shown on 
did not define "Who is a Jew".  At the time it was assumed to be 
obvious.  The site 
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/whojew1.html shows 
the following quote explaining why the law had to be made more explicit.

------------------  Quote ----------------------------------------------

In 1950, the Law of Return was passed in Israel stating that every Jew
has the right to immigrate to Israel, and granting automatic citizenship
and benefits to any Jew who makes aliyah. Jewish immigrants receive
better benefits than non-Jewish immigrants, including guaranteed
housing, ulpan (Hebrew language study), full tuition for graduate
degrees, and other benefits including discounts on major purchases, such
as cars and appliances. The absorption process is more arduous for
non-Jews and may take many years, during which they might not have
health insurance and other government services.

Three famous cases tested the Law of Return and a Jew^^s right to
immediate citizenship. The first example involved Brother Daniel (born
Oswald Rufeisen), a Jew who converted to Christianity during the
Holocaust and had become a Carmelite Monk. During his youth, Rufeisen
was active in a Zionist youth movement and fled to Vilna, Lithuania at
the start of World War II. There he worked as a slave laborer and
escaped to Mir where he worked for the police as a translator. Rufeisen
took advantage of his position and smuggled arms to his Jewish friends
and helped drive the police out from Mir before it was liquidated,
saving nearly 300 Jews. Rufeisen hid in the forest and later a convent,
where he decided to convert to Christianity. In 1962, Rufeisen, now
Brother Daniel, applied to immigrate to Israel and, after being denied,
he appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that despite
the fact he was born to a Jewish mother, he had since converted and
should not be recognized as a Jew by the State of Israel.

Following the Brother Daniel case, a new regulation was adopted stating
that individuals registered as Jews for the "nationality" and "religion"
section of their identity cards must be Jews according to halacha and
they must not practice another religion. The Shalit case challenged this
new ruling. Benjamin Shalit married a non-Jewish Scottish woman. Since
he was an Israeli, she and their children automatically received Israeli
citizenship. The two considered themselves atheists, but part of a
Jewish nation and wanted their children's identity cards to state Jewish
for the nationality designation and to remain blank for religion. The
Ministry of Interior wanted to keep both designations blank, so the case
was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in the
Shalits' favor.

The decision sparked controversy and, in 1970, an amendment to the Law
of Return passed stating that only persons born to a Jewish mother or
who had converted to Judaism were allowed to immigrate to Israel under
the Law of Return. This amendment did not specify what type of
conversion is needed, thereby allowing different interpretations. Since
the amendment was passed, religious parties in the Knesset have tried to
change it to apply only to Orthodox conversions, a move that angered the
Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, which felt that
it was an attempt to delegitimize their movements.

The Shoshanna Miller Case in 1980 tested the new amendment. She applied
for citizenship under the Law of Return as a Reform convert. Initially
her petition was refused and she appealed to the Supreme Court, which
ruled that she should be granted citizenship, in what became known as
the Miller precedent.  

-----------------------End of Quotation-------------------------

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore."
  <SabbaHillel@...>   | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water.


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 13:16:50 -0400
Subject: Its not even wrong

<Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>:
> I am reminded of a great physicist who said, "Some theories in physics
> are so flawed that they don't even rise to the level of being
> wrong.">.

pauli. also a bit terser, per the title of this post. also re a paper
(nobody knows which) rather than new "theories".  otherwise, an apt

Mechy Frankel
michael.frankel@EMP Commission.org


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 12:09:47 -0400
Subject: Low Morals

> The "Steipler" brings down another reason concerning Baalei Teshuva.
> He claims that the gemara's attitude towards bnei niddah is a
> generalization.  Hence, if the child is baal teshuva it proves that
> he/she is in the minority who do have not low morals.

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious -- but as read or twisted this
implies that those bnei niddah who are not ba'al teshuva have low morals
-- a gross generalization and not in keeping with our tradition.  Has
this lost something in the translation?



End of Volume 55 Issue 63