Volume 57 Number 11 
      Produced: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 22:50:14 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Question in Learning 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
A Rule (5)
    [Arie Weiss  Susan Kane  Ariel Ozick  S.Wise  Prof. Reuben Freeman]
Any basis for this? 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Intermarriage and Niddah 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Taslich when there are no rivers or streams 
    [David Ziants]
    [Harlan Braude]


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 06:01 PM
Subject: A Question in Learning

> From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
> It's a normal part of Torah study to offer one's own 
> explanations (in the spirit of "my ancestors left me an area 
> in which to accomplish something" - Chullin 7a), while at the 
> same time realizing one's inadequacy relative to the greats 
> of previous generations ("If the earlier ones were like 
> angels, we are like humans; if they were like humans, we are 
> like donkeys..." - Shabbos 112b).

2 points-

1.  Does this concept have any applicability within the field of Biblical
commentary/hermeneutics?  I'm uncertain that it is applied outside of helachic
realms.  Logically, it would seem to make no sense to apply it here - if indeed
all the good drush and pshat has already been said and our thoughts are
"inadequa[te] relative to the greats of previous generations" then there would
seem to have been no reason for Bible commentary since bayit sheni - the
halachic midrashim would have been the first and last commentaries.  By this
view - how could Rashi or Ibn Ezra or Rashbam disagree with the tannaim about
the interpretation of a pasuk?

2.  I would just point out that that that even within the context of halacha,
this is not a uniform view; in medieval times, the notion of "dwarves on the
shoulders of giants" appeared in both Christian and Jewish circles.  The Rid I
believe was the most outspoken advocate (or, the earliest Jewish formulator) of
the concept among the rishonim, but other baalei hatosafot had similar views,
and the Rambam was famously not on board with the concept of the inevitable
decline in the generations.

Much intellegent ink has been spilled on the topic; see R, Shnayer Leiman's
"Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants" in Tradition some time ago (presenting the
Rid's words on the topic), R. Efraim Kanarfogel's "Progress and Tradition in
Medieval Ashkenaz," Menachem Kellner's book _Maimanides and the 'Decline of the
Generations'_ and more broadly Michael Berger's book "Rabbinic Authority."



From: Arie Weiss <aliw@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A Rule

> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> It is precisely this sort of uncouth behaviour that puts many of us off 
> from
> living in Israel. I am disappointed that Yisrael seems to accept it as
> "normal".
> Martin Stern

i don't know, martin.

firstly, the more of "us" who come, the more chance there is of living the 
example we want to make for others, and making a difference.

secondly, i assume you're not serious. the issue of coming on aliyah (and 
let's set aside the halachik requirement, because i accept freely that 
galut-dwellers don't necessarily accept yishuv eretz yisrael as a mitzvat 
aseh as important as the others they keep so zealously) cannot be boiled 
down to disappointment in the locals' behavior. i come not to preach nor to 
admonish (i have no right to do so), far from it, but rather to explain. 
uncouth behavior cannot and should not be a reason to put one off from 

thirdly, israel runs on a fast track. i came on aliyah and within just over 
two years found myself fighting in the yom kippur war. three of my four sons 
have already served in the army (the third has under a year to go), the 
oldest served during operation chomat magen (92), the second fought in the 
second lebanese war (06). my third will be 24 when he finally is released 
next march, be"H, because he chose to sit and learn for three years before 
going on to serve in a combat unit for another three full years (his older 
brothers did the same, but for 1.5 years each, not three.) that means they 
start their lives - school, work, family, years after their peers in the 
u.s. after having been under fire and commanded others under fire. so under 
the circumstances, a little pushing in line is certainly understandable and 
should be put up with, not viewed as uncouth behavior that puts one off from 
living in israel.

fourthly, you choose your society. the u.s. is far from free of uncouth 
characters who push in line (or shoot you because of road rage). i live in a 
dati leumi community, a minimally set apart religious neighborhood of over 
three hundred families in a mixed city, dati, chiloni and mesorati, of about 
40,000. over a third of us are anglo-saxon. we have tremendous chesed here, 
shiurim and minyanim (including 4 daf yomi shiurim) all the time (in a few 
minutes i will stop for my 11 pm maariv minyan) people are pleasant and 
don't push, and care about each other. so why generalize.

the kotel is crowded about 50 % of the day. everyone may feel the way 
marilyn did.

from 7 pm to 7 am, you can pick your stone and park there, and pray your 
heart out.

so while i don't think people have to avoid expressing an opinion, or 
venting, this is a little out of line.


From: Susan Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A Rule

I too am sorry that this particular tour group was unable to pray at the Wall.
The fault, however, lies with the tour operators who failed to plan correctly
for President Bush's visit and for normal activity at the Kotel. 

The Kotel is not a tourist attraction like a the US constitution in DC where
people move through in an orderly line and everyone gets five minutes to view
the document. 

It is a place to pray and every person may pray there as long as he or she likes. 

The students got their front row seats, as it were, by coming to the Wall in the
very early morning or perhaps even staying all night. 

If it was important to this tour that people be able to touch the Wall and place
notes, the tour operators should have scheduled the group at a time when that
would be most possible. 

I agree that it would be kind and helpful for those praying to not extend their
prayers indefinitely. 

However, we have no idea what the individuals in question were praying for nor
how long they themselves had waited to reach their place. 

The suggestion that tourists should trump seminary students and other residents
of Jerusalem makes no sense to me. 

Should I avoid the Boston waterfront simply because it is also important to

I live here and access to the waterfront is one of the benefits of life in
Boston.  If my presence prevents a tourist from reaching the water one can blame
the city for poor planning but no one should blame me. 

The difference between a real location and a tourist site is that in real
locations that are part of people's daily lives things are messy and not at all

This is especially true in Israel which happens to be a less orderly culture

The Wall is in real and active use by the residents of Jerusalem - it charges no
admission - and places no time limits between people and G-d.  It is not at all
like the Louvre or Disneyworld. 

I cannot really imagine anything worse than a sign reading "during peak times,
please limit your prayers to 5 minutes or less."

I hope very much that the poster will be able to return to Jerusalem soon and
come to the Kotel without a time limit. 

Susan Kane
Boston, MA

From: Ariel Ozick <ari@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A Rule

Regarding a somewhat unclear incident at the Kotel, Martin Stern made this
> In regard to Marilyn Tomsky's point re the "punch in the back", if she
> ever live here, she'd know that's par for the course at the bank, the post
> office and the bus queue.

It is precisely this sort of uncouth behaviour that puts many of us off from
living in Israel. I am disappointed that Yisrael seems to accept it as

I would just like to point out that when you say something bad or
uncomplimentary about Israelis, you are, in fact, saying something bad about
a fellow Jew, regardless of their observance factor, and I think it's
something we as Klal Yisrael need to work on, especially during Elul.

On a related issue - I'm interested in hearing thoughts on saying bad things
about Israel/Israelis (bad service, unpleasant trip etc) in the context of
Dibat Eretz Yisrael.

Ari Ozick
Haifa "Where We Duchan only on Shabbat/Yom Tov and Never Say Tachanun at
Mincha", Israel

From: S.Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A Rule

Marilyn Tomsky writes:

> I'm  sorry but you are mistaken.  We had to reserve our places on the 
> Jewish  tour
> months ahead.  Our tour manager had us leave the hotel early to  visit the 
> Wall
> and then the Kotel.  As it happens our President Bush  was visiting to 
> celebrate
> Israel's 50th Anniversary and blocks were closed  off all over for his 
> safety. 
> We didn't know this was going to  happen.  Our bus had to detour all over to
> reach each hotel picking up  those of us on the tour and then take us to the
> Wall.  There were  traffic jams and waits everywhere.  It was quite a walk 
> from
> where we  were finally dropped off to the Wall.  The program was scheduled, 
>  each
> day and as it was we were too late to travel to the Jewish Museum  later 
> and so
> we lost that chance.  

What is really sounds like is that you were already in a bad mood before  
you got there because of circumstances that had nothing to do with the girls 
at  the kosel. There are no hall monitors to or traffic cops. To 
characterize girls  you are judging from one brief glimpse as selfish and rude
(not sure how you  concluded both) is unfortunate, especially in light of the
other circumstances  of your day that seems to have been quite irritating (re: 
Bush, the detours, the  long walk).  I think anyone who has been to the kosel 
expects the crowds,  the pushing and the things you describe, and accept it 
because that is what  generally happens when multitudes gather. Maybe your 
idea is a good one, but as  i said, no one is there to direct traffic.

From: Prof. Reuben Freeman <freeman@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 26,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: A Rule

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> It is precisely this sort of uncouth behaviour that puts many of us off from
> living in Israel. I am disappointed that Yisrael seems to accept it as
> "normal".

Are we to understand that alleged "uncouth behavior" in Israel is sufficient
justification not to live there and to put off the opportunities to do the
mitzvoth that are tied to living in  Eretz Israel.  Is such an attitude at
all consistent with Jewish values?

At all times should a man reside in Eretz Israel, even in a city inhabited
mostly by heathens. Let him not reside outside the Land, even in a city
inhabited by Jews. Since whoever resides in Eretz Israel is like to him who
has a god, whilst whoever resides outside it is like him who has no god, as
it is stated (Leviticus 25, 38): "To give you the land of Canaan, to be your
God. "Do you mean to say that whoever does not reside in the land of Israel
has no god?! But what is meant is-Whoever resides outside the land is as if
he worships idols. David said so too: "For they have driven me out this day
from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord (i.e. in Eretz Israel, from
where he fled from the anger of Saul), saying go, serve other gods" (1
Samuel 26, 19). But whoever told David to go serve other gods? But this
teaches you that whoever resides outside the Land of Israel is as if he
served idols. (Ketubot 110b)



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Any basis for this?

One of the leading spokespeople for the settler movement was recently quoted
(assuming that the quote is correct) as saying that every single grain of
soil in Eretz Israel is as holy as every letter in the Torah. Would anyone
know of any source for this statement?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 24,2009 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Intermarriage and Niddah

> From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
> On the subject of marrying out versus sleeping with a niddah - I
> wouldn't recommend either!  And discussing which is worse is futile and
> non-productive.

I find it vaguely interesting, in an irritating way, that none of the
men who have been discussing this issue so far have imagined the point of
view of the woman being the Jewish partner in the scenario.  It seems
obvious from everything brought thus far, that if a Jewish *woman* is
being advised between ignoring Niddah with a Jewish husband,
or marrying a nonJew, that she would be advised to marry the nonJew.
After all, her children are still Jewish!

I've never heard of this being done, which probably is less about the
theoretical Badness of things and more about the fact that a person with
these "options" as primary choices is unlikely to be seeking rabbinical

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Taslich when there are no rivers or streams

In my small city of Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel, there are no rivers or streams.

The following options of doing Taslich (Rosh HaShanna prayer that is 
customarily said next to running stream] here, seem to be available (in 
no particular order):-

a) Next to the mikva.

b) Next to the mikva in Shechunat  HaNachalim because when rains, water 
actually flows down these little streets until hits drain.

c) The city council water tap into the apartment building.

d) The drainage from the apartment building. (Might be close to water 
tap running into building.)
e) Overlooking the "b'raicha" [The big city water reservoir cistern 
which is connected to mekorot [water board main line pipes]]

f) Look out towards the horizon at the east where one can see the Dead 
Sea on a clear day.

g Look in the valley towards south where Beduim roam and live. I guess 
there must be wells down there somewhere.

h) Kitchen sink with tap running.

i) After Rosh Hashanna, in Jerusalem, where real water source (e.g. 
Shiloach or Lifta)

Interested to hear a rating of each of these options.

Some of these options are used in a more communal setting and some of 
these are only suited for individual or family like tap to/from 
building. Maybe kitchen sink is not a permissible option, especially in 
light that there are better possibilities?

David Ziants


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 25,2009 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Witness?

In mail-jewish Vol.57 #09 Digest, Carl Singer wrote:

> the weight of 100 aydim (witnesses) if this admission had been made at a
> face-to-face meeting then it would likely have been an open and shut case.
> Since it was made over the telephone a bet din is now determining the 
> status
> of this situation.  (We are, of course, are aware of decisions re: Shofar,
> [...]
> something live via a security camera.  What of a video recording?  For the
> sake of discussion let's presume the all videos are of high, lifelike
> quality and there are no issues of fidelity, etc.

I'm not sure what Carl means by "no issues of fidelilty". Let's assuming 
he's not discussing sound quality (as in "high-fidelity"), but rather fidelity
in the sense of  "adherence to fact or detail"* (as in: the video hasn't been
tampered with or fabricated whole-cloth). I'm concerned about a presumption of
"there are no issues of fidelity", even in a hypothetical case.

Can one sufficiently verify the authenticity of a video to make it 
evidentiary according to Jewish law? Since, unlike live witnesses, the Jewish
court cannot perform the usual interrogation (unless we pasken (rule) that the
designer/installer of the equipment is the de facto witness in these proceedings
and the court summons them), then what purpose would a video serve?

Could videos be ruled a modern form of shtar (legal document)? That's a 
stretch, too.
* quoted from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fidelity


End of Volume 57 Issue 11