Volume 55 Number 67
                    Produced: Thu Sep  6 21:35:55 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are You A Manhig Yisrael?  A One-Item Test
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Da'as Torah
         [Michael Frankel]
Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations (2)
         [Mordechai Horowitz, Shimon Lebowitz]
Issur Karet
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Nothing Original?
         [Yisrael Medad]
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Uman (3)
         [Tzvi Stein, Anonymous, Eitan Fiorino]
Website Problems
         [Jacob Richman]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 08:19:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Are You A Manhig Yisrael?  A One-Item Test

> A few years ago, during one of my increasingly rare trips to New York, 
> while I was having lunch with my erstwhile editor, Yaaqov Elman, he 
> should live and be well, he posed the following hypothetical to me:
>  Suppose you have a friend -- a man -- Jewish, but not religiously
>  observant.  You have a choice between matching him up with one of two
>  different women: a nonreligious Jewess, i.e., a woman who will almost
>  certainly never go to the miqveh, or a non-Jewish woman.  Which woman
>  do you choose?

[long and interesting discussion snipped]

Full disclosure here: I'm a long-time fan of Yaakov Elman.

As to Jay's calculation, may I suggest that he may be correct, but only
in the sense that one concludes that a clock that is stopped is
technically more accurate than one that is ten minutes fast, since the
one that is fast is never correct but the one that is stopped is right
twice a day.

Manhig Yisroel trumps technical accuracy, IMNSHO.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Leah-Perl <leahperl@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 08:59:01 -0400
Subject: Chassidus/Breslover

> Also, due to the nature of chassidus in general and Breslaver
> chassisus in particular, the target audience was/ is generally less
> than intellectually superior, and thus what may be meant as hyperbole
> or illustrative may be taken as literal.

There are plenty of Chassidim who are giants in intellect -- even [gasp]
amongst Breslovers.  This includes both Phds in theoretical mathematics
and good ole' talmidei chachamim.  I think the old divide between
emotion vs. intellect by group doesn't really hold true anymore -
e.g. Mussar emphasizes that the way to get oneself to do what's right is
through the heart; Chabad chassidus teaches that the brain rules over
the heart.  Obviously everyone needs both -- perhaps in varying degrees.



From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 12:36:56 -0400
Subject: Da'as Torah

>>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>>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?

> It's really very simple -- true Da'at Torah will have sources to back
> it up, and won't fear questions. If you don't believe me, go to any
> true Gadol and ask him a question. He will have no problem not only
> giving sources, but patiently addressing all your questions, and
> discussing your opinions.  Shana Tova Shoshana L. Boublil

I think this is exactly wrong. "da'as torah" in current usage is
precisely the expression of an unerring, and inerrant, instinct rather
than anything as mundane as source analysis/inference.  It includes what
that very embodiment of da'as torah of recent generations - the CI -
termed the 5th cheleq of SA.  Not that its practitioners couldn't moqore
their way about with the best (especially if they were the best), but
da'as torah means they could operate ex cathedra guided if necessary
only by inerrant perception of divine truth vouschafed those y'chidim by
some distant cousin of ruach haqqodesh. It's been many years since I
read prof kaplan's article on the subject (which I thought very
perceptive at the time, though I didn't completely agree with it.  but
no longer remember just why or precisely what he said).  Perhaps prof
kaplan would care to comment, or update, if he still frequents this
particular venue.

Of course the poster cleverly left herself an out, as she posed the
vetting challenge for her definition as requiring approach to a "true
Gadol", an exemplary variant of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.  As for
Mr Stern's shul, is there no rov or other adult supervision present?

Mechy Frankel


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2007 16:41:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

The Rabbi's I know are very intelligent.  When a couple doesn't keep
Shabbos or Kashrut they are smart enough to know they won't be keeping
the Laws of Family Purity.

And yes they run programs to get people married.  When Aish does speed
dating they aren't trying to get people to keep Shabbos, they are trying
to get Jews to date each other.  Aish even knows that these Jews will
not only have sex without following the laws of family purity, but in
all likelyhood will have sex before marriage.

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 18:48:30 +0300
Subject: Re: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

> The opinion Daniel expresses appears to be part of the minority
> opinion that opposes Kiruv (outreach to the non observant) in general.
> Don't run a Turn Friday Night in Shabbat because people will drive
> home afterwards.  Don't have a woman as a Shabbos guest if she isn't
> covering her hair because you can't bench, shut down NCSY because it
> has mixed programs between the genders.  While all these opinions do
> have a minority opinion to rely upon it isn't normative opinion in the
> Torah community.

I don't know about kiruv programs, but when personally confronted with
this situation I had a definite problem.

I wanted to invite a family of non-observant Jews to my Shabbat table,
but they were staying at a hotel a considerable distance from where I
live (about an hour's walk). I could not bring myself to extend the
invitation as long as I knew they would be driving back (actually they
were going to take a taxi, just like the way they arrived).

I discussed it with them, and expressed my sincere desire to invite
them, on the condition that we all walk together back to the hotel.

They agreed, they came by taxi, and my wife and I had a 2-2.5 hour walk
friday night, to their hotel and back.

Just my own feelings,


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 18:51:46 +0300
Subject: Re: Issur Karet

> This brings to mind an interesting question I debated with a friend
> not too long ago - which offense is more chamur (grave,) an issur
> karet, or an aveira where one is subject to Bet-Din administered
> capital punishment?

Unfortunately my memory is not good enough to tell *where* this might
be, but I do remember seeing a gemara (I think in Yevamot, just learnt
in daf yomi) which argues BOTH sides of this question.

As I recall, it first considers karet the more severe punishment, and
then a few lines later considers the death penatlty to be more
severe. (Maybe v.v.).

When we discussed it in the shiur our rav explained that the topic is a
subject of discussion with valid arguments on both sides, and is not a
decided issue.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 22:07:30 +0300
Subject: Nothing Original?

Yossi Ginzburg wrote:
> There are NO original writings from Rabbi Nachman, only attributions
> to him, generally via Rabbi Nosson, his aide and promoter, so all
> alleged quotes must be taken with a large grain of salt.

That doesn't seem to be right.  The first edition of Likutei Moharan was
published in 1808, two years before he died with the haskamot of five
Rabbis with the dates of their agreement to approve the book, including
Rav Efraim Zalman Margoliot of Brod, Yaakov Yitzhak (the Chozeh) of
Lublin and Yisrael (the Maggid) of Kuznetz.  Rebbe Nahamn reviewed the
entire work before it went to press.

Yisrael Medad


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 22:16:18 +0300
Subject: Re: Uman?

> Having said that, I will admit that I did (on the spur of the moment)
> last year go to Uman, and it was an incredibly profound and moving
> experience, albeit on a visceral rather than intellectual level.

Over the past few years I have raised a question that keeps getting

Now that it has become customary for people in the States to go to Uman
for Rosh HaShana (and I believe that they go their for more than the
actual 2 days of the holiday) -- I'll allow myself to ask this question

For all the spirituality found in Uman, we have a Jewish Halacha from
the Torah called "Aliyah LeRegel".

Every year, 3 times a year, every male is supposed to show up in

So, during the TN"Ch and Mishanaic times, when you had to walk or ride
to Jerusalem, you had to reach Lod by 4 days before Pesach to be allowed
to go to Jerusalem, b/c that's how long it took to walk there.

But we live in a modern age.  We have planes, cars, taxis, buses etc.

So, let's say it's expensive to do this 3 times a year. Come once.

So Sukkot and Pesach are too long -- come for Shavu'ot.

Leave New York, for example, 24 hours before Shavu'ot. Spend 2 days
holiday in Jerusalem (perhaps review this?) and go home. All together -
no more than 4 days.  Certainly longer than whatever time spent in Uman.
AND you get to perform a Mitzva from the Torah!!!!

(I'm also sure that if just 20,000 of the Jews in America would come,
the price of the plane rides would become unbelievable low. Imagine if
every male religious Jew over 13 came!)

Shanna Tova,

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 09:29:41 -0400
Subject: Uman

Someone posted that they want to Uman and it was a moving experience.  I
have often heard that reaction, but I would like to put the question out
there... has anyone on the list gone to Uman and not only been "moved"
but been changed in a long-term sustainable way?

From: Anonymous
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 18:50:52
Subject: Re: Uman

> For proof, witness the recent to-do over the "piska", the note that
> started the craze of repeating the na-nach-nachman chant- a note from
> a man dead over 250 years that suddenly "appeared" one day making
> outrageous claims, without any verification or provenance, and has
> been accepted by many as if it were beyond question because a single
> Brevlaver elder (in fact, very much elder!)  believed it.

I am personally acquainted with a Breslav hasid who is quite close to
the 'higher ups' in 'old-fashioned' Breslav hassidus (meaning, *not* the
na-nach people).

He told me that it was well known at the time that the pitka was a prank
pulled on that venerable elder, who was acknowledged by all to be a
saintly, though naive, person. Unfortunately, it got out of hand, and
seemed to acquire a life of its own.

From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 08:43:43 -0400
Subject: RE: Uman

Joseph Ginzberg, in documenting his claim that many writings allegedly
from Hasidic rebbes may actually have been composed by others, writes:

> Another proof could be drawn from the "Tzavaas Harivash", the alleged
> ethical will of the Baal Shem Tov himself, a document one would think
> would be beyond anyones ability to corrupt, yet it is widely
> ackknowleged not to be his actual work, and in fact it warns against
> learning Talmud, lest the deep concentration required lessen ones
> "dveikus", cleaving to G-d.

Is that really inconsistent with the Baal Shem Tov's views?  Many of the
polemics by mitnagdim (including the Gra and his students) against
Hassidut specifically mentioned that there was a general neglect of
limud Torah, in particular Telmud study, by hasidim in favor of kabbala
study and mystical, ecstatic prayer experiences.  This appears to have
been, in fact, a hallmark of the early hasidic movement.  Thus I would
not find it far-fetched that the Ball Shem Tov would leave such a
statement in his ethical will.  I am not commenting on whether or not
the ethical will of the Baal Shem Tov is authentic - I have no idea
whatsoever and have never even heard of the document before - just aying
that this particular statement would not seem to be the best example for
proving it to be a forgery.



From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2007 16:25:06 +0300
Subject: Website Problems

Hi Everyone!

Today I visited one of my websites and discovered missing pictures and
files. I visited several of my websites and discovered the same problem
on each.

I called my hosting company and they told me that their was a hardware
failure on my server last night and they had to rebuild my system on a
new server. The problem is that they used a backup dated March
2007. They are checking if they have a more recent backup to use.

If they do not have a more recent backup, I will have to spend a few
days (maybe more) uploading thousands of files from the past 7 months to
the new server including all the aliyah pictures, terrorism memorial
pictures, Ma'aleh Adumim, stamps, hotsites updates and many more.

I will try and get the newest files (including yesterday's aliyah
pictures) back up first.

Sorry for the inconvenience if you are trying to access recent
information / files from my sites.

I would strongly recommend that anyone hosting a website check how their
provider does backups and maybe ask for a file restore every so often to
see if they are actually doing the backups regularly.

Have a good day,


End of Volume 55 Issue 67