Volume 57 Number 88 
      Produced: Tue, 02 Mar 2010 20:06:06 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Biblical Exegesis (was Spousal Abuse) 
    [Jeanette  Friedman]
For Purim: message from Nigeria 
    [Marilyn Tomsk]
    [N. Yaakov Ziskind]
halachic relativism (3)
    [David Tzohar  Frank Silbermann  Mordechai Horowitz]
halakhic relativism 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Hiddushim on the mainstream in Mail-Jewish 
    [Yael Levine]
Making Seder of the Seder 
    [Abie Zayit]
    [Carl Singer]
R' Elon case 
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
Spousal Abuse 
    [Russell J Hendel]


From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 11,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Biblical Exegesis (was Spousal Abuse)

Thank you Russell [for your M-J V57#83 post --Mod.]. And for what it is worth, 
here goes,  I hope this helps...  

Chava didn't touch the gorgeous tree or eat the fruit until the  snake told 
her she would have the power of knowledge. Chava  talked about it, yes, but 
she didn't do it. There's quite a distance,  interrupted by the snake and 
his influence, between the two.  I may think  that I want to do naughty 
things. I may even talk about it, but that doesn't  mean I will do them. Most 
likely I won't--unless someone convinces me  strongly that it is in my own best 
interests. ie. TRUE LIFE example. I want to stay home this Shabbos and not drive
to Washington for Shabbos this weekend (dangerous as all get out...). But I have
to be there for "work" for a conference of suvivors and no matter that  I don't
want to go, three people are convincing me it is my best interests, so 
I  will have to take that risk, even though I really want to stay home. I am 
still  thinking about not going. Someone will have to push me to go.
Look, there had to be a way to tell the story of Adom and Chava in a  
manner so riveting that people would get the point--that accountability and  
responsibility are prime human obligations... I believe everyone's drash is  
valid because ALL drashes are Divinely Inspired, and you can pick and  choose 
those which support your view. (There are some terrible drashes that  support 
heinous ideas...like one that says women wear perfume because Chava  came 
out of a certain hind quarter of Adom--needless to say when I read that one  
in a book about Bereishis I was editing, I sent it flying across  the room, 
and when I asked for the source, the guy who wrote it told me it was a  
medrash he heard from his father. Gevalt! I advised him to remove it or any  
woman who read his book would trash it.) 
My take is that  Divinely Inspiration is the basis for how we think.  Now 
it is true that some people are smarter than others. And God gave us those  
gifts, whether through nature or nurture  or both.
In any event, if I am even bothering to look at a pasuk in Bereishis and I  
see something there..something inspired me to go there...is that 
inspiration an  Old Man In a Long White Beard? Not for me. But something 
inspired me and it must  have been the Divine Spirit whose being and form is 
inconceivable and  therefore indescribable--but something drove me to study and 
also to write  a difficult book to sell like Why Should I Care? Lessons from the
Holocaust instead of writing a romantic potboiler soon to be made into a major
motion picture. (So far anyway...who knows what is still in my head?)
What made God different from Adom and Chava was knowledge--and  God's 
knowledge is all powerful and is the basis for creativity, for  Creation, and 
Chava wanted that too. The snake obviously already had  some of that knowledge 
when he went to work on her and exercised -- "power" -- over her. Even if it 
was the power of persuasion and not might and  force. 
(If power, as Russell indicated to me in an off list email, didn't exist in 
 Gan Eden, then no matter how many times Chava poked Adom, he wouldn't have 
 eaten, but that's tangential for the moment. The fact is power did exist, 
or  there would be no story. Chapter Six of  our book  is called  Lure of 
the Dark Side that Aish posted on their website. There are all kinds of  
power--and power over is different than power to or power with....
Adom blames Chava, because of a pattern that is taught in Psych  1.1  He 
doesn't want to face his own shame, thereby suffers  guilt, thereby causing 
anger, loses a piece of his "good" self-image, won't take  responsibility for 
what he did to himself thereby causing him to blame God for  creating her 
and her for "forcing" him to eat...because in fact, he didn't say,  "forget 
it, we aren't going to have this snack."
And no one stopped him from saying no, except him. He wasn't in Abu Ghraib. 
 He was in the Garden of Eden! In Paradise!  No one water-boarded him. No  
one pulled out the car batteries--and I do not believe that violence was  
introduced to Paradise by Chava and that she beat him into  submission--or, 
if, as you imply, teased him into it. What if she seduced him  into it? Hardly 
violent. As you say, there is an omission here that [ha]mavin yavin,  a smart 
person should figure it out. But who says everyone is smart? Leave  things to 
the imagination, and you can fill a gap with anything.
Maybe Adom just wanted to placate Chava so he could go back to doing  the 
equivalent of watching the SuperBowl of the Garden of Eden, maybe he loved  
her so much, he wanted to please her,  or maybe he was curious and also  
wanted to gain knowledge. In any event, they both needed knowledge in order to  
be able to take responsibility for their actions.
In any event, for self-awareness to become effective, they both had to eat. 
 And then they realized that taking responsibility is the key to being 
human, and  didn't want it so they hid. Hashem knew where they were. When the 
Holy One took  a walk in the Garden and asked Adom where they were, do you 
really think the  Holy One was clueless? The Holy One was waiting for an 
apology, and an  acceptance of responsibility from Adom. Instead Adom turned 
himself into a  victim. He first blames Hashem! Like Russell said, he says to 
Hashem..."you gave  me that woman, you see what she made me do?"
--and when they didn't take responsibility, they were kicked into the  
cruel, cold world. It's a place where human beings who think they will never be 
held accountable, or whose urges are depraved, will stop at nothing to  
harm others, unless they are stopped by those who understand responsibility and 
The real world is where terrible things happen and where orphans show  
grownups that they have to stop terrible things from happening. The world we are 
 in is one we were created to continue creating as God's partners to bring 
peace.  The way the world behaves is OUR responsibility. Not God's. And we 
have to fix  the injustices and all the other bad things. We do. The people. 
God created the  world for people, and then said, Hey, the rest is up to 
Read Rambam in Melochim (Maimonides, Kings) on Yemai Moshiach (the  Days of 
Messiah). No osses umophsim (no signs and symbols), no nissim and  
nephlaos (no miracles and wonders).  Just peace created by people with  people 
not like them.  Exactly as Hillel taught it to the stranger who  stood on one 
leg. "Veahavta Le Reacha Komocho" - Love your neighbor  because he is like you.  
The rest is commentary now go and  study [and here is my assumption of the 
omission is--and make the world a better  place--for everyone--and not to 
kvetch a benkel until you family has to go on  welfare. Der Yid held that 
way--first you make a living for your family.]
And speaking of the Garden of Eden, of Paradise...there may have been a  
snake in Paradise because someone had to come up with a device to explain  
accountability and responsibility to people while bringing them out of idolatry 
 into monotheism. And it is a great story that does exactly that. But it  
also creates a vision of Paradise as Utopia, and in Utopia, there is no abuse 
of  any sort. It's a wonderful life, the one all of us want--and are not 
going to  get until we take responsibility for our actions. Who needs Gan Eden 
if violence  and abuse are part of it? Might as well stay right here!
So to assume what was in God's head and make it true that Chava  
beat/poked/abused Adom until he ate, I don't care what others wrote.  The 
omission could be one of seduction, of love.
I too, have been inspired to look at my birth parsha and study it so that  
we can maximize its lessons for everyone, not only for misogynistic 
exegetes of  any faith who use the Christian notion of Original Sin to bash 
women everywhere and forever. There is a medrash that Chava was Adom's equal. 
His helpmate, not his shrew. There were no shrews in Gan Eden. It's Paradise!
There is, also the rabbinic notion of going with the times and meeting  the 
needs of the Jewish peoples in the age in which they find  themselves. It 
would be nice if that would be applied to end the pain of so  many women who 
are trapped in violent/abusive marriages and cannot be freed  unless their 
husbands free them, and pikuach nefesh takes a back seat, even  though it's 
the most important directive in the Torah--to choose life.
As for the filthy minds of those who always have to wrap everything in  
sexual terms, most of us are NOT obsessed with sex, though the media makes it  
seem as if we are. That's because they need to sell it to morons in the  
intellectual boonies as a weapon of mass distraction--to keep the masses in  a 
donkey-like state [omission rhymes with masses]  if you will, so  that they 
don't focus on what their governments, leaders, bosses, are doing  to them 
with the complicity of corporations and or others who profit from their  
general stupidity.. In some Arab lands they do that by blaming everything on 
the Jews. In the West they focus on sex and celebrity instead of the issues. 
Same game, different distractions. And no one takes responsibility, and  
everyone else is to blame.
Jeanette  Friedman co-author with David Gold
Why Should I Care? Lessons from the Holocaust


From: Marilyn Tomsk <jtomsky@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 2,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: For Purim: message from Nigeria

I would be very concerned that this is one of those Nigeria cons/scams. 
Anyone could write, that he is a rabbi and get the Jewish info needed to make it
sound authorized.  I would be very wary about giving any of the information
that he asks for.  I would NOT do it.  You have no real proof, that he is what he
says and where would he get that kind of money in such a poor country?  

Marilyn Tomsky

[Please note:  the "message from Nigeria" was a joke meant for Purim, as the
administravia message indicated at the beginning of the last issue.  --MOD]


From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: hair/modesty

> The Lebovitche Rebbe promoted the halachikly controversial sheitel over
> a cloth hair-covering, because he knew that it would be an easier sell
> to women.
> Batya Medad
> Shiloh Musings

That may be *true*, but that wasn't his stated reasons, which were:

1) Unlike a sheitel (wig), a cloth hair covering (often) does not cover 
all the woman's hair;

2) A woman may, due to social pressures, feel compelled to take off her
cloth hair covering in public (e.g., when meeting an important official)
- less likely with a sheitel.

I'll add my own reason: NYSDMV will make you take off a kercheif, etc. 
when taking one's driver's license photo. Not so with a wig (probably 
because they don't know it's there).

Nachman Yaakov Ziskind, FSPA, LLM       <awacs@...>
Attorney and Counselor-at-Law           http://ziskind.us


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 12,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: halachic relativism

Noyech Miller wrote :
> It seems to me that the burden is on
> David Tzohar's shoulders.
> Let us hear from him how 'recognized halachic decisors' have
> ceased to be basar v'dam [flesh and blood --MOD] and subject like the rest
> of mankind -- and womankind -- to the social climate of the time

     Since the Shulchan Aruch was compiled in the sixteenth century it has
been considered the definitive basis for all halachic decisions.  No present
day authority can pasken (make a halachic ruling) against the Shulchan
Aruch. I must in all humility transfer the burden of answering this question
to the broad shoulders of today's great halachic authorities: Rav Mordechai
Eliyahu, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Elyashiv, Rabbi Hershel Shachter to name a few.
These gedolim (greats) are most certainly "flesh and blood" but we are
obligated to listen to them as "the judges in your generation". Even such as
the[m] very rarely have the power to make a major change in halacha like the
outlawing of bigamy and levirate marriage which happened 1000 years ago.
   IMHO halacha will today more likely go against the social climate of our
time since western culture is perceived as permissive and even degenerate.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 12,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: halachic relativism

In M-J V57#82, David Tzohar writes:
> It is one thing to say that about minhagim (customs) or humrot (stringent 
> observance) of halachot, but to say that halacha p'suka (halacha determined by 
> recognized rabbinic decisors) is determined by societal or cultural 
> conditions is IMHO very dangerous.

Yes, this principle IS very dangerous.

The fact that halacha p'suka (halacha determined by recognized rabbinic
decisors) is affected by societal or cultural  conditions -- was abused two
hundred years ago during the initial efforts which eventually culminated in the
Reform Movement.  Several Orthodox rabbis have stated in lectures that the
current predilection to ignore this principle is a reaction to the development
of the Reform and Conservative denominations.

Frank Silbermann          Memphis, TN

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 16,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: halachic relativism

I would like to suggest anyone wanting to understand Rabbi Broyde's take 
on this issue that started the discussion review his online article




From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 12,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: halakhic relativism

Mordechai Horowitz <Mordechai@...> seems to have adopted 
a Xtian fallacy in mail-Jewish Vol.57 #84 Digest when he stated:

>Is it wrong to kill someone?  The answer seems simple of course not right...

The prohibition in the Torah is not against killing.  Lo tirtzah 
means "thou shalt not MURDER," not "thou shalt not kill."

Xtians have not learned that distinction, but Jews should be aware of it.



From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 25,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Hiddushim on the mainstream in Mail-Jewish

In M-J V57#82, Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote:
> ...
> In Mail-Jewish Vol.57 #57 Digest we learn that Ba`al HaTurim is not a 
> mainstream Torah commentary.  I am not convinced that this claim is accurate.
> We also learned in mail-Jewish Vol.57 #56 Digest that both R' Nahman 
> of Breslav and a Mail-Jewish contributor are mainstream prayer 
> composers.  I am pleased to note that one such prayer is indeed 
> recited in synagogues, contrary to my previous impression.
> I have no doubt that more people study the Ba`al HaTurim commentary 
> on the Humash than recite certain obscure prayers.  Ba`al HaTurim is 
> printed in every edition of Miqra'ot Gedolot that I know of.  On the 
> other hand, certain obscure prayers are privately printed in booklets 
> published by the author....
Ira Jacobson wrote <<context supplied above [and below] by Mod.>> that a prayer
written by a MJ contributor was published in a obscure booklet. However, this
is not the case.  The prayer was first published in HaZofe, a former leading 
Orthodox newspaper, in which personalities such as Rav Soloveichik wrote. 
Additionally, it was printed in many places, including in Tefillat Nashim.
Various written sources also state the widespreadness of the recitation of the 
prayer. This info has been mentioned before.

> ...
> I have been informed that what I had thought was an obscure prayer 
> recited nowhere is actually recited in three places:  the Corpus 
> Christi Synagogue, the Holy Blossom Temple, and the synagogue of the 
> St. Paul Hebrew Day School.  My apologies to the author.
Furthermore, the three places which Ira Jacobson listed are all places whose
names bear something Christian. This is not to be taken seriously. 
I am pleased to note that the prayer is recited in many shuls.
Yael Levine


From: Abie Zayit <shemenzayit@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 12,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Making Seder of the Seder

I would like to draw the attention of the mail.jewish community to a
new Hagaddah put together by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel.

Called "Making Seder of the Seder," it asks "obvious" questions with
deeper answers that he provides. He offers a series of questions that can be
used in a classroom or by anyone interested in thinking about the Seder.

To see the list of questions that he deals with, take a look at

Abie Zayit


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 26,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Purim

You say "Yichus" and I say "Yichud" --

Yichud - separation ......

Yichus - ancestral background  ..... as in the third cousin, twice removed
of the great grand nephew of the (next door neighbor) of the East Passaic
Park Rav, shlita


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 23,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: R' Elon case

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, the head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva and apparently the
senior member of the panel that investigated the R' Elon case, told his students
last week "I do not want to go into details. It's a matter of complaints about
acts and behaviors that are not appropriate in a world of holiness and morality
... not between him and her, but between him and him. It's difficult to describe
to you the sorrow and distress .... Since the first stories, seven years have
gone by, and we had hoped that the man accepted responsibility and that surely
now he was interested in overcoming these tendencies and had understood that it
affected his situation and status.

Was there an obligation to go to the authorities with these complaints and
allegations? What gives this "panel" the right to adjudicate the complaints
against R' Elon? Isn't seven years an extremely long test time to offer in a
case of sexual impropriety? 

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 9,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

Shoshana L. Boublil in v57#83 points out that certain statements about greater
prevalence of spousal abuse in e.g. certain economic classes, genders, or
religious backgrounds is unjustified. She also asked that such (ugly) statements
not go uncontested.

I would like to second her comments. I would also like to suggest that there is
so much good literature on spousal abuse that you can read good refereed journal
articles on spousal abuse and statistics by simply googling "spousal abuse" or
"spousal abuse statistics" "spousal abuse socio-economic status". (Other
combinations like "spousal abuse religious" are googlable also). I would like to
encourage people to read some of these articles and statistics.

I would like to emphasize that Shoshana is not just saying "Spousal abuse
HAPPENS among non-poor" or "Spousal abuse HAPPENS to men also."
Rather the correct statement is that "Spousal abuse EQUALLY HAPPENS among all
economic groups," "Spousal abuse EQUALLY HAPPENS among all genders."

Here are two examples of published articles.  Ordu in "Socio - economic status
and personality type as correlates of spouse abuse behaviour in Rivers state"  
African Journal of Psychology and Counseling Vol. 1 (6), pp. 094-104, August
2009 states " ...It was found that there was no significant correlation among
socio-economic status, personality type and spouse abuse behaviour. The
moderating impact of the secondary independent variables, gender, religion, were
not significantly correlated among socio-economic status, personality type and
spouse behaviour in the study respectively....[SNIP --MOD]" You can read the
full abstract and article at

Another article Mhaka-Mutepfa, M. (2009). Spousal Abuse in Zimbabwe: Nature and
Extent across Socio-Economic Class, Gender and Religiosity. Interpersona 3(1),
75-88, downloadable at http://www.interpersona.org/pdf/ftxpdf4ad7b9039a0f2.pdf
states "The prevalence of spousal abuse did not differ by gender. There was no
significant difference in the prevalence of spousal abuse between working class
and middle class families. The prevalence of spousal abuse was lower among
religious families. The study contradicted the view that spousal abuse was
higher among the low socio-economic groups and females."

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA


End of Volume 57 Issue 88