Volume 55 Number 76
                    Produced: Mon Sep 17  5:44:38 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Baal Shem Tov and learning Talmud
         [Sammy Finkelman]
Complaints about the First Amendment?
Da'as Torah (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Perets Mett]
Fasting during Elul
         [Robert Schoenfeld]
Fruit juice requires a hechsher
         [Meir Shinnar]
Natural Law
         [Robert Rubinoff]
New Film: Yiddish Theater: A Love Story-  National theatrical release !
         [Dan Katzir]
R. Brovender on  Sefer Yona
         [Jeffrey Saks]
Tzavaas HaRivash
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Why 2 days RH
         [Richard Fiedler]


From: Sammy Finkelman <finkelmanm@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 09:54:35 -0400
Subject: Baal Shem Tov and learning Talmud

Alex Heppenheimer :
AH> Rather, the Baal Shem Tov (or his redactor) is simply telling us that
AH> Torah study can't be done in such a way that one forgets about its Giver
AH> and sees it as just an intellectual exercise.

No, what he is saying is that it can only be done in such a way - or
maybe more precisely, that whatever kind of devakus he wants - that he
would like to happen all the time - can't happen while you are studying
Torah, although it can in conversation.

Note this what you quoted:

> "In the midst of study it is impossible to cleave unto God, blessed be
> He. Nonetheless one must study because the Torah furbishes the soul
> and is "a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it."  (Proverbs 3:18)
> If you do not study, your deveikut will cease.

Then he argues that you also can't cleave when you sleep etc., and Torah
study can't be worse than that. In conversation you can think of nothing
but attachment to the creator but when studying yiou have to concentrate
on it.

So by Chassidus he seems he means trying to keep a constant atttitude
of...a willingnes sor a desire to do what is right in the eyes of
God. It isn't even doing Mitzvos.


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 01:11:45 -0400
Subject: Complaints about the First Amendment?

Does anyone know of any USA Jews, especially Orthodox, who object to the
two freedom of religion clauses in the First Amendment, in the Bill of
Rights?  Does anyone know of any USA Jews who criticize Jefferson for
his part in writing them.  What are their reasons?  Every Jew I've ever
read or talked to has thought they were good things.

Now I'm in a discussion with two Noahides who think they are bad because
in a country with religious freedom, the law allows people to do things
that they shouldn't.  Yeah, but if there were going to be less religious
freedom, it would be Christians imposing their religious values on Jews
and Noahides.  Like when I grew up.  They may have legalized blasphemy
and in most states adultery, but despite that sort of thing, all in all,
isn't the First Amendment a good thing for Jews and Noahides?



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 12:00:28 GMT
Subject: Re: Da'as Torah

Dr. Ben Katz wrote:
> The problem for those who believe in "daas Torah" is that those very
> rabbis were by and large, wrong about the 2 momentous decisions facing
> 20th century Jewry:
> 1. whether to stay in Europe
> 2. Whether to support Zionism

That is your opinion. But it is not a provable fact.

I'll admit that the way things turned out, it does APPEAR that those
rabbis were wrong. But Who knows how things would have turned out if
more people had actually listened to those rabbis and followed them?

(I am NOT claiming to know that the rabbis were correct. My point is
that no mortal human can know these things.)

Akiva Miller

From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 11:45:51 +0100
Subject: Re: Da'as Torah

Which rabbis were wrong about whether to support Zionism?

History has shown that Zionism is a tool to dissociate Jews from
Judaism, and the rabonim have sadly been proved correct.

ksiva vachasima tova

Perets Mett


From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 20:30:03 +0000
Subject: Fasting during Elul

Was there any hint of fasting during the daytime Elul before destruction
of the second bas hamigdosh or any sect after the destruction

Lashana tova to all


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 11:04:29 -0400
Subject: Re: Fruit juice requires a hechsher

WRT several of the posts:

1) the addition of grape juice would not be problematic according to rav
moshe, as it is battel beechad beshes.  However, even if one does not
wish to follow rav feinstein, addition of grape juice would be on the
label - this wouldn't be pure apple juice.

2.  The notion that something can be added in greater than 1% quantity
(and batel beshisim is 1.66666...%) and not be listed on the label is
something bandied about, but I don't think is legal in the US.

3.  The OU's own posting suggests that the problem is the equipment
used, rather than any additives - and they claim not only that they
can't be someach on rov kelim are not bne yomam, but that there is an
actual ta'am issur that is not battel in the product.  Perhaps they have
very fine palates, but I find the latter claim - that there is an actual
ta'am issur in the product (which is a different issue than the halachic
issue of additives or keilim etc) somewhat hard to believe on a factual

4.  There was, IIRC, an article in Techumin a few years back that argued
that those hashgachot that gave a hashgacha to an item that only needed
it according to a minority opinion or a humra - had an obligation to
disclose that to the kosher community, because otherwise it was gnevat
da'at.  That, unfortunately, is not the norm - think hashgachot on oven
cleaners (where I am not sure that even a minority position or
recognized humra would require them) - and therefore, it makes the
assessment of claims that some things need hashgacha more problematic
for those whom the OU is not their posek.

Meir Shinnar


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 10:17:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Natural Law

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
> > From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> >> There is something called "natural law" -- by which, for example, most
> >> people, regardless of their religious views might conclude that
> >> killing children is WRONG.  Thus with or without Torah many (most?)
> >> people would come to this same conclusion (and presumably act
> >> accordingly.)
> >
> >The existence of natural law is a machloketh rishonim [argument among
> >medieval Jewish scholars] - Rambam [Maimonides] in the introduction to
> >Perek Helek [Chapter [[of Mishnah beginning with the word]] "Portion"]
> >says its a foolish notion, and Sa'adiah in Emunoth V'Deoth [Opinions and
> >Beliefs] accepts it - as well as an argument among philosophers; as far
> >as I know nowadays only neo-Thomists [I'll let the moderator translate
> >that one] accept it.

The "existence" of "natural law" can mean two different things:

1) People have an inherent sense that certain things are "unnatural" and
cannot or should not be allowed, completely indepedent of any divine
2) There is some objective core set of things that actually are

It's pretty clear that there is such a thing as natural law in the first
sense.  Most people will agree that murder is inherently wrong, for
example.  Unfortunately, there is wide variation, across individuals and
cultures, as to what exactly "natural law" includes.  And even something
as basic as prohibiting murder gets pretty murky when you start thinking
about the various exceptions that people come up with (e.g. "he had it
coming because...", or "those people aren't really people", or "she had
to be killed to restore the honor of our family", just to suggest a

And this variation suggests pretty strongly that there is no meaningful
objective notion of "natural law", or at least that there is no good way
to distinguish it from personal or social assumptions and prejudices.
And I find it hard to see how it could be meaningful or useful > > I
must point out that my "natural law" quote was fresh from a shiur that >
I attended last week.

> Without natural law, how would we explain the behavior of non-Jews be
> they monotheists, ovdai kochavim or whatever?

Explaining people's behavior is certainly an interesting question, but
it's a matter of psychology and sociology.  There's no need to assume
that there really is such a thing as natural law, only that it is part
of human nature to be inclined to accept such a notion.



From: Dan Katzir <dan@...>
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 23:07:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: New Film: Yiddish Theater: A Love Story-  National theatrical release !

Hi Friends,

A new film about the battle to keep Yiddish Theater alive in the US in
the 21st century is coming to theaters in New York and Los Angeles in
November.  I am an award winning Israel director and will attend the
screenings in NYC and LA.  The film is scheduled to play for a week, but
if we get enough advanced ticket sales, we'll get additional screenings.
We would be grateful if you could help us get the word out, so that
we'll be able to bring our message about the importance of keeping
Yiddish theater alive to a larger community.

Here's the info about the film:

Our website:  www.yiddishtheater.net
Our myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/yiddishtheateralovestory

As for the screening dates. Opening dates are:

IN LA- starting Nov 30 2007
In NYC - starting Nov 21 2007

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Dan Katzir


From: Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 11:27:02 +0200
Subject: R. Brovender on  Sefer Yona

Rabbi Chaim Brovender will deliver a special shiur this week on Sefer
Yona.  Thursday, September 20th at 7:30 PM at Ohel Nechama, 3 Chopin
Street, Jerusalem.

The shiur will be in English, free admission, open to men and women. 
Download sourcesheet in advance at:

Rabbi Brovender's weekly shiur is available online at www.atid.org/shiur
for audio downloads or Podcasting.

G'mar Chatima Tova!

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: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 09:28:04 -0400
Subject: Tzavaas HaRivash

>(Re my reading from the Tzavaas HaRivash:
>And indeed, that's not what it says at all.
>This statement : "the Besht's allegedly having denigrated the learning
>of Talmud" should be historically modified.  It was Yaakov Yosef of
>Yisrael Medad

Especially now in these days of the teshuva season, it seems important
to me to stress that Emes is what it's all about, even if that's a
simplification of Judaism. The seal of G-d is emes, as per Chazal.

Judge for yourselves. I quote the Tzavaas HaRivash, not from where the
whitewash comes, but from chapter 117: " ach hatzer harah mefateh oso
shelo yilmod aize davar sheyavo lo yiras shamayim meza, k'mo sifrei
musar o shulchan aruch leda hadin al buryo, ach mefateh oso sheyaasok
tamid rak b'gemara im kol hamefarshim".

My translation: "The evil influence seduces him not to learn things from
which he will have fear of heaven, as in books of musar or the halachic
codes to know the halacha clearly, but rather it (the evil influence/
yetzer hara) seduces him into always learning only Talmud and its

Is this is not a clear rejection of the basic principles of Torah study
according to the historical tradition?

Let me make clear- I have no gripe against chassidus. That battle has
long ago been conceded, and anyway I am (at heart, anyway) not anti at
all, I am just very pro-emes.

Shana Tova
Yossi Ginzberg


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 13:01:42 +0300
Subject: Re: Why 2 days RH

> From: <wgewirtz@...> (William Gewirtz)
> 2 days RH is entirely different from other 2 day yomim Tovim.  Because
> of an error as stated in the order of service, there was gezirah to
> disallow witnessess that arrived very late in the afternoon. Clearly,
> given the manipulation practiced leading up to Tishrai, BD knew that
> the day should be rosh chodesh and RH, were visbility not impaired
> with no eidim showing up. so when they decalred the arrival period
> over they would be effectively declaring the next daty RH and that day
> chol. Not wanting to do that, they celebarted both days as Kodesh.
> subequent history is a major machloket rishonim.

You don't need to go to the rishonim. The Gemorah itself said that the
Takana never took effect because Elul was there after always 29 days.See
Beitza 6a.


End of Volume 55 Issue 76