Volume 59 Number 49 
      Produced: Thu, 07 Oct 2010 05:19:16 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Four Types of Idolatry (Was "Entering a church") (2)
    [Frank Silbermann  Russell J Hendel]
Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you) (5)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Mark Steiner  Martin Stern  Russell J Hendel  Russell J Hendel]
R' Eilon and forum Takkana 
    [David Tzohar]
Shemini Atzeret 
    [Martin Stern]
Shower on Second Day Yom Tov 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 4,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Chiyuv

Martin Stern stated (MJ 59#47):

> There is a minhag that on the Shabbat before a yahrzeit, a person is 
> called up for maftir (on the yahrzeit itself he is entitled to a 
> 'proper' aliyah)

According to Gesher HaHayyim, he gets maftir even if the Shabbat is 
the actual yahrzeit.  (Others hold as Martin does, such as Penei Barukh.)



From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Four Types of Idolatry (Was "Entering a church")

Russell J Hendel wrote (MJ 59#45):
> For example Ezekiel saw his famous prophetic chariot vision with oxen. 
> There is one Talmudic opinion that the golden calf was an image of this ox

Keith Bierman replied (MJ 59#48):
> Is there something being lost in translation here? A calf does not look very
> much like an ox to me. I would have expected our ancestors (being even more
> familiar with such animals from their day to day interactions) to be even
> better at making the distinction.
> Logically, if our ancestors really were worshipping one of HaShem's
> prophetic visions, would HaShem have been as upset as to threaten
> to destroy us all?

Perhaps yes.  I've been reading _Rejoice O' Youth!_ by Rv. Avigdor Miller
(may his name be for a blessing) printed in 1962.  Explaining the concept
of the decline of the generations, he explains that the sins that the Tanach
attributed to our ancestors were much exaggerated because great people
are held to high standards.
For example, somewhere the Tanach gave an example of the corruption
of the generation by claiming that the priests of the Temple engaged in
adultery with women who brought offerings to Jerusalem.  Rv. Miller
cites sources that their real sin was making the women wait because
the priests didn't want to tear themselves away from their Torah study.
Making the women wait reduced their availability to their husbands,
and anything that interferes with the husband-wife relationship can be
likened to adultery.  (This is similar to the way Reuban was described
in Genesis as sleeping with his father Jacob's wife Bilchah, when all he
really did was move Jacob's bed out of her tent.)
Similarly, Rv. Miller held that the Jews being punished by the destruction
of the first Temple would in our day be considered a generation of saints,
and that Moses' "rebellious" Jews in the desert was holier than any generation
that followed.
I don't doubt that there are sources to back up Miller's view, as I have
heard such views before.  I suppose it is good that we are following
the dictum to view our fellow Jews  in the best possible way.  But I
wonder sometimes whether this is a strictness that leads to leniency.
I mean, describing the people G-d is tempted to blot out as saints
who commited only the most minor infractions for the best reasons
makes G-d seem like some kind of psychopath.  (But it's really OK,
because, in the World to Come, G-d can more than compensate the people He has
destroyed in this World).
This approach helps me understand a possible motivation for the impulse
to deny things like child molestation in the frum community.  Perhaps
dealing with the problem openly will make things unnecessarily difficult
for our great-grandchildrens' generation, who will be obligated to consider
us as having been a generation of saints.
Frank Silbermann               Memphis, Tennessee

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Four Types of Idolatry (Was "Entering a church")

Keith Bierman (MJ 59#48) comments on my citation of a Talmudic opinion that the
Jews worshipped a golden CALF because of the prophetic vision of the OXEN (as in
Ezekiel 1). Keith asks:

> Is there something being lost in translation here? A calf does not look very
> much like an ox to me. I would have expected our ancestors (being even more
> familiar with such animals from their day to day interactions) to be even
> better at making the distinction.
> Logically, if our ancestors really were worshipping one of HaShem's prophetic
> visions, would HaShem have been as upset as to threaten to destroy us all?

Two very good questions. To answer the first question "Am I missing something
here --- they worshipped a calf not an oxen?" I observe that it is a reasonable
midrashic conjecture. Let us examine.


It doesn't make sense that the Jews who witnessed the revelation should turn
around and worship idols!? Most reasonably (using my checklist of 4 types of
idolatry) they worshipped the VISION IMAGES they saw on Mount Sinai. There is
partial support for this in that they worshipped a CALF (same animal type as OX
though different in age).


As Keith points out: They worshipped a CALF instead of an OX.

Note carefully, the Midrashic conjecture is addressing a problem: Why did the
Jews who witnessed God worship any idol. So, as I said, it is a conjecture with
some support. 

In passing: The proper way to approach Midrash is as I have done: list the
FOR and AGAINST arguments...try to understand what is being accomplished and
what problems there are.

To answer Keith: Maybe they DID want an Ox. But remember, Aaron opposed the idol
making. So if they rushed him maybe a calf came out of the cauldron instead of a
full fledged ox. 

Keith asks a second question: 

> They worshipped a prophetic vision? So why was God so angry? He wanted to
> destroy the Jewish people?

Good question: The Midrash Rabbah cites similar arguments from Moses to God.
E.g. Moses said "God why are you angry? That they worshipped a piece of Gold?
Doesn't your anger give more legitimacy to this then it deserves ... the Gold
can't do anything."

But unfortuantely the question can be answered. The Midrash explains (and this
was the custom in the Middle East) that idolatry came along with partying. There
is a talmudic opinion that "THe Jews worshipped the golden calf only because of
the partying that came with it".

I have already explained that the calf suggested being bullish. NOTE: The people
were bullish. They murdered Chur in cold blood and engaged in forbidden physical
relations. THAT is why God got so angry ... In fact that is the real answer to
Keith's question: God opposes prophetic-image idolatry because ultimately it
leads to physical debasement.

This is an interesting posting on the Golden calf. There is a rich literature on
it. We dont have all answers. But the questions are clear: 

1) Why did the Jews worship idols after Sinai, 

2) What were the goals of the worship 

3) How did degeneration take place 

4) Why was God angry 

5) How did Moses defend us.

This would make an interesting mj thread:)

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

An interesting point about the CE/BCE notation is that there are those
that regard it as an *insult* to the religion.


Some who oppose Common Era notation claim that its propagation is the
result of secularization, anti-supernaturalism, religious pluralism,
and political correctness.[16][17][18][19]


17 http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-531644-ad-and-bc-become-cebce.do


19 http://www.religioustolerance.org/ceintro.htm

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

I find myself on Jeanette Friedman's side as far as the days of the week are
concerned (MJ 59#45).  And not just because of her unpersuasive argument that
what she calls the "goyim" will hate us more if we don't say Tuesday.  The Yiddish
language refers to the days of the week (Zuntog, Montog, etc.) using the
same pagan gods as the other European languages.  Gedolei Olam for a
thousand years (this is how old Yiddish is) used these appellations without
a murmur.  To make a "new chumrah" over this seems to me to cast aspersion
on every single one of these thousands of gedolim.  Apparently they held
that, semantically, the etymology of these names is irrelevant--just as the
origin of the name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" is irrelevant,
whether or not it was a "Union", "Socialist", or "Republics."

And don't reply to this saying that the gedolim didn't know pagan mythology,
and had they known it, they wouldn't have said Zuntog etc.  That argument
might work with the name "Donershtik", derived I think from Thor, the god of
thunder; but Zuntog?  Sun-day?

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 59#48):

> Much more problematic to me than the use of English names for days of the
> week, is the use of the date which is counted from the birth of the false
> messiah (or son of god, according to that demonination). While few people
> know that Thursday has something to do with the pagan god Thor, most people
> know whose birth is being commemorated by the date. Using c.e. instead of
> a.d. doesn't make any difference since the "common era' means that the date
> is commonly computed from the birth of oto ha'ish. I try to use the Hebrew
> date wherever possible, on letters, checks and legal documents. In Israel
> this is not a problem except in the case of the validity dates of credit
> cards.

Perhaps even worse, as the Chasam Sofer points out, is to date documents
with the month given as a number like 9/11 (whether it is September 11 (US)
or November 9 (UK)) since there is a mitsvah of counting months from Nisan.
This can, however, also give rise to a dilemma since some secular months are also
named after pagan deities (though neither of the two cited).

Martin Stern

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

Bernard Raab (MJ 59#48) commenting on my inquiry about talking to a person whose
name is identical with the Christian Deity asks:

> Perhaps someone could explain to me why it should be forbidden to mention the
> name of any supposed deity which we do not regard as a Deity. Does not this
> elevate the status of this faux-Deity to one of "possibly legitimate"? Does
> anyone hesitate to mention the names of the many gods in Greek mythology, or
> in Hindu belief?

This question is raised by Rashi (Ex. 20,02). "Do not make for yourself ELOHIM
ACHARIM" has two translations: 

(A) "Do not make for yourself OTHER GODS"

(B) "Do not make for yourself the GODS OF OTHERS"

The conceptual point here is that the word "others" can EITHER be an adjective
modifying God or possessive adjectival phrase. We in fact translate the verse
"The gods of others".

My understanding is that it is prohibited to mention the name of any deity
(Christian, Buddhist, Greek) deified by other people. I for example would not
mention the word for the greek god of lightning. Fortunately I don't know anyone
named that way. I **do** know people whose last name is the same as the
Christian Deity. Hence my question (Which by the way has not been answered)

Bernard raises a separate question: Why the prohibition? After all idolatry is
false? What is the big deal. 

I think the answer is that many idolatry laws are symbolic affirmations of our
required hatred for idolatry. There are many other laws (e.g. the silver coating
of idols is prohibited in benefit).

But anyway: I would still like an answer to my question and any further
clarification on the above law

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

Stuart (MJ 59#48) comments on my assertion that religious questions should be
asked formally without initially worrying about Jewish/non-Jewish relations
(after receiving the answer we can).

Stuart states:

> I believe Russell is 100% correct in his description of the halachik
> process ... Religious actions ARE (at times) dependent on Jewish/non-Jewish
> relations. Examples that comes to mind immediately in shaping the outcome of
> halacha are the Mipnei Eivah (avoiding enmity) and Darchei Shalom (for the
> sake of peaceful relations) adages. Chazal / the Rabbis felt these had such
> far reaching consequences for Jewish society that what would've been basic
> halacha was overturned.

It is not clear whether Stuart is agreeing with me or not. So let me clarify. As
Stuart points out, there are exceptions, certain laws, where the considerations
of Jewish-non Jewish relations is primary. One example given by Stuart are the
Darchei Shalom laws (Laws done for the sake of peace). For example, I have no
biblical obligation to return stray animals to non-Jews but the Talmud says WE
DO SO FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE (So that there is reciprocity between Jews and non
Jews in this matter).

I believe this agrees with what I said (And perhaps Stuart is saying that). What
I said (MJ 59#45) was:

> INITIALLY (note the emphasis) I can ask if there is a Biblical obligation to
> return objects to non Jews. AFTER establishing the law I may THEN inquire if
> there will be damage to Jewish-Non Jewish relations. In certain instances
> laws are changed.

NOTE: I do not agree that the law is OVERTURNED for the sake of peaceful
relations. In the lost article laws, the lack of obligation is turned into
an obligation.

So I think Stuart and I agree. In passing: I heard my comment from my teacher,
the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchick. The Rav compared the halachic PROCESS to the
scientific process. The Rav asked: "Would you hold it against a scientist that a
certain medicine does not cure cancer? Certainly not. The scientists job is to
report facts". The Rav said the objectivity of the Jewish law is important and a
prerequisite when determining compromises.

Here is another example. The Rav once mentioned while teaching Sanhedrin that
Jewish law prefers compromise (to strict litigation). Rabbi Saul Berman who was
in the Talmud lecture asked him afterwards "So why do we learn the code of
Jewish Civil law..the only important thing is compromise?" The Rav smiled and
explained "Compromise (settlement out of court) is preferred. But compromise in
Jewish law (unlike American law) is part of the court process. A prerequisite
for compromise is knowledge of the exact law. You compromise based on what the
exact law should be."

To revisit our present situation: Someone inquired if we could use the English
days of the week (or au David Zohar, the secular calendar). I responded that the
weekday names and calendar now have existences of their own and their
SOURCE/ORIGIN is no longer relevant. 

NOW that we have answered the question, Jeanette can ask about hurting
Jewish/non-Jewish relations. But I answered this. I have never heard anyone
criticize the state of Israel for counting days by numbers and not names. I dont
think the non-Jewish world cares. So we have addressed both aspects of this

Russell Jay Hendel; phd Asa; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: R' Eilon and forum Takkana

[Mod.'s preface: this post was submitted on 11 Aug 2010 -- its "yesterday" 
should be considered in view of that submission date.]

A few years ago, R' Mordechai Eilon [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Elon 
--Mod.] was accused by two young men of inappropriate behavior. To this day, we 
do not know exactly what he was accused of, although the rumors range from 
"sexual harrasment" (whatever that means) to mishkav zachor (homosexual 
relations). The matter was brought before Takkana 
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takana --Mod.], a forum of Rashei Yeshivot Hesder 
and other prominent figures in the Dati Leumi community which included one 
woman, Rebbitzin Shilat. The forum summoned R' Eilon, and even though he denied 
the allegations he agreed to go into "Galut" to the village of Migdal near the 
Kinneret; he also agreed to cease all teaching.

R' Eilon claims that he agreed in order to protect the identity of his
accusers, as Takkana had agreed not to go public as long as R' Eilon kept to
his part of the agreement. In the meantime, R' Ailon's many talmidim refused
to accept this gezeira (edict) and flocked to Migdal to hear their Rav's
Torah.  Takkanah then went public, with Rebbitzin Shilat going on T.V. to
tell the whole country about the tragedy that befell the Dati world when one
of its most beloved Rabbanim failed to overcome his Yetzer (evil
inclination) and molested two young men.

Yesterday the public prosecutor announced that R' Eilon will be tried in
criminal court. R' Eilon's reaction was that he thanks Gd that he will
finally get a fair trial and be able to prove his innocence.

I tremble at the thought that what I am going to write will be construed as
denigration of the learned Rashei Yeshivot, but the Torah says 'lo taguru bifnei
ish' (fear no man), and I must tell the truth as I see it. I asked a learned
Rosh Kollel of a Yeshivat hesder, "What is the Halachic authority of the forum
Takkana?" First he explained at length how important Takkana is as a place
where victims of sexual harassment can bring their complaints without their
identity being exposed, then I repeated my question and the Rav looked me in
the eye and said one word: *"none"*.

I do not know if R' Eilon is guilty or innocent, but neither does the forum
Takkana. What I do know is that the forum Takkana took upon itself the authority
of a Beit Din of smuchim ish mipi ish (original full halachic ordination)
and forced a noted Rav into exile as if he was guilty of manslaughter.
There were no witnesses to the alleged acts, so who are we to believe? And
let me be clear. The question is not do we believe R' Eilon or R' Lichtenshtein,
but whether we believe R' Eilon or his accusers, whom he was not even allowed to
confront. I also know that the Chafetz Chaim said that a talmid chacham accused
of wrongdoing must be given the benefit of the doubt. Even if we could grant
the forum the authority of a bet din, the procedures bear no resemblance
whatsoever to those described in Shas [the Mishna&Talmud --Mod.] and poskim. 
They also do not reflect civil jurisprudence.

Does anyone remember the "incident" involving R' Aviner when two women
accused him of sexual harassment? They later retracted their claims and he
was completely exonerated, but to this day you can hear the saying "there is
no smoke without fire." Will this be the fate of R' Eilon?

If R' Eilon is found guilty, he should be punished to the full extent of the
civil law. But if he is innocent then the Rashei Yeshivot should prostrate
themselves before him and beg his forgiveness, and this will be a
desecration of the name of Gd many times greater than that of a great Rav
who is only flesh and blood, who was unable to control his evil inclination.

David Tzohar


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Shemini Atzeret

Perhaps I was not entirely clear in my posting (MJ 59#47) on the liturgical
formulation used for Shemini Atzeret which led to the responses (MJ 59#48).

I was not trying to determine the correct formulation but, rather,
suggesting how the current (grammatically questionable) Ashkenazi one might
have originated.

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 6,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Shower on Second Day Yom Tov

In MJ 59:48, Martin Stern, quoting another source, wrote:

> One should not distinguish between the first day of Yom Tov and the second day
> of Yom Tov (for those who do not merit living in Eretz Yisrael) in this regard
> and rule more leniently for the second day since it is only a rabbinic 
> obligation.

That is not, AFIK, true as a general rule, which is why I phrased the question
as I did. One example is a funeral: if someone dies on the first day of yom tov,
he is buried on the second day, and I have heard of of such funerals being
conducted in New York, which involved driving to the cemetery. Another is
turning lights on or off. One rav told me that he held that the use of
electricity is permitted on yom tov, even though we don't use it in practice;
but therefore if you really need to turn a light off on the second day of yom
tov -- not the first day -- you may do so.


End of Volume 59 Issue 49