Volume 59 Number 67 
      Produced: Wed, 27 Oct 2010 10:01:21 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A good way to learn mishnah? 
    [David Ziants]
Ata Kadosh 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
    [Martin Stern]
    [Martin Stern]
Halacha for Special agents 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Special Agents / Women and Language 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
yehareg v'al ya'avor  
    [Chana Luntz]


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: A good way to learn mishnah?

Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...> wrote (MJ 59#65):

> In MJ 59#57, David Ziants replied to my points:
>> Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...> wrote (MJ 59#56) a
>> response which I do not find comfortable, especially as it presents
>> initial reactions that are negative and not at all in line with the
>> facts. I thus feel that I have to answer each of his points:-
> That was my *initial* reaction especially since you said your daughter
> did not like it.

I'm sorry that in my first posting on the subject, I did not make myself
clear enough that it was only the loud music issue that was bothering
me. Anyway, was happy to receive positive feedback from professionals,
as I later summarised. Maybe I should have emphasised more in this first
posting, what I wrote in parentheses, that I still feel this is very good method
to learn. Again, I apologise that I set the stage as a negative one.

Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...> continues (MJ 59#65), quoting my
reply (MJ 59#57) to his points (MJ 59#56) as above:-

>>> The first thing I thought is: they start Torah off with Pirkei Avos?
>>> That can be described as the sacred scripture of Reform Judaism. It
>>> may tell you something about the school's Torah learning.
>> Has V'Shalom [G-d forbid]!
>> A school that insists, for even its first grade girls, socks up to
>> "here" and sleeves down to "there", is far from the label that is
>> being given in your response.
> I didn't know this, but that would not establish anything because we
> are talking here about Hashkofeh [outlook on life --Mod.], not practice.

They call themselves "talmud torah mamlachti dati" . The hashkafa, at
least from what I feel now, is an approach which is a cross between
chardal [charedi nationalistic see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardal]
- the school recognises the state and its institutions although generally shuns
secular culture - and Torah im derech eretz [Torah with "the way of the land"
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah_im_Derech_Eretz ] - but without, in the
most part, the secular culture aspects.

I have deliberately not mentioned the name of the school as this is not
really relevant. Anyone on this list who lives in my city will possibly know
what school I am referring to. If there is anyone like this, am happy to hear
from you privately.

Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...> continues further in MJ 59#65 ,
quoting my reply to his points as above:-

>> Do you think that first grade girls should be learning Baba Metzia
>> [name of one of the tractates that talks about technical/legal
>> monetary matters]?
> Of course not! Nobody should. It says in Pirkei Avos - 10 years old for
> Mishnah, 15 years old for Gemorah. Ten-year-old boys should not really be
> studying gemorah. At least not more than general exposure. Let them
> learn the Mishnah - the basic rules. Later on you can deal with the
> complications. How can someone attempt to teach complications before
> the basic details are understood?
> What they should be learning maybe is the Siddur or Chumash or maybe
> Bircas HaMazon. That's where you start. This what you have here does
> not strike me as a logical program of instruction with a goal.

I can assure you that they started learning birkat hamazon from gan
[kindergarten] age. These kids should be able to start reading from a
siddur around chanuka time. There are schools that teach their kids
Chumash Vayikra [the third section of the Torah that talks about
sacrifices] first, as Chazal [our Rabbis of Blessed Memory] advise, but
this is not the approach in our school. I don't know what prompted the
administration of the school to start with Pirkai Avot, but the stuff
the kids are learning is definitely within their ability and will
hopefully stay with them the rest of their lives.

Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...> continues further in MJ 59#65 ,
quoting my reply to his points as above:-

>> In any case, if the Reform learn about "Moshe receiving the Torah
>> from Sinai", maybe they are not such apikorsim [unbelievers in the
>> Divine revelation] as they make us "frummers" [a derogatory usage of a
>> Yiddish word irreligious people sometimes use for religious people]
>> think they are!!
> I think what they really like is the sayings of Hillel and I don't
> think they so much study it, as quote from it. I think it would be fair
> to say that they don't quote things from Tanach very much.
> What they really like from Hillel is "What is hateful to yourself
> don't do to others" and "If I am not for myself, who should be for me,
> and if I am only for myself, what am I, and if not now, when."

What is wrong with that?

Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...>  concludes in MJ 59#65 , quoting my
reply to his points as above:-

>>> school, since it isn't interested in comprehension anyway and it is
>>> not treating it like something that is supposed to be understood.
>> Exactly the opposite. A lot of classroom activity, so 6 and 7 year olds
>> can understand the mishnah pretty well.
> No, that doesn't help to understand it. That just uses up a lot of
> time. That sounds like the school is covering the least amount of
> ground with the most amount of effort. It's maybe all right to do so,
> but don't call this studying Mishnah exactly.

We obviously disagree here.

David Ziants


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Ata Kadosh

In MJ 59#65 Haim asked:

> In Nusah Ashkenaz, after every kedusha and in Nusah Sfard, after kedusha
> for musaf, we say "l'dor vador nagid gawdlecha." instead of "ata kadosh". 

and in MJ 59#66 Ira answered:

> Actually, Daniel Goldschmidt, in his most precise siddur for Nusah 
> Sefard, says that most congregations say "Atah qadosh" for musaf
> qedusha, while some say "Ledor vador."

> I suspect that this is connected to the way the Nusah Sefard siddurim 
> were initially printed. They took the Nusah Ashkenaz text and added 
> the Nusah Sefard changes in parentheses.  The parentheses eventually 
> got dropped, which is why (in unedited siddurim) we have such grotesque
> combinations as "bishelomekha, berov oz veshalom".

There are many examples of compromising when there are multiple nusahot. 
This is one of them. It seems that we have 3 nusahot for the 3rd blessing: 
ata kadosh, ledor vador and ledor vador hemlichu. The last one is used on 
Rosh Hashna & Yom Kippur, and in the Yemenite rite also during the 10 days 
of repentence. The first one is the Sefaradi one. The middle one is the 
Ashkenazi compromise. It is hard to say what is the Nusah Sefard, as Ira 
is correct in saying that in many cases the printer "decided". 

Other examples of compromising: the 2 different Nusah Ashkanaz versions for the
introduction to the shaharit kedusha: one for weekdays and one for Shabbat. The
Sefaradi Nusah is allways to say the short one, the Yemenite Nusah is kind of
the long one, everyday, and also for minha. The short kedusha seems to come from
Bavel, the long one from Eretz Israel. BTW, the Italian Nusah is to say the
short keter version, shaharit & minha.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Esther

Robert A. Book <rbook@...> wrote (MJ 59#66):

> One could potentially reconcile the two claims by saying Esther and
> Mordechai were betrothed (kiddushin) but not yet married (nissuin),
> in which case she would have a status similar to a wife for purposes
> of adultery, but would still be a virgin -- in which case she would
> have been subjected to Achasveirosh's "order" and would thus NOT have
> "voluntarily" went into the harem.

What Robert is drawing to our attention is how halachah differs from the civil
law regarding the concept of marriage. Unlike the latter, betrothal (kiddushin)
legally effects the marital bond so that the couple are "married" not merely
"engaged" and the wife's sexual relations with any other man constitute adultery.

However, the couple do not live together, and thereby consummate the
marriage, until the nissuin have taken place which, in Talmudic times, would
usually have been a year later. Thus in the interim the bride would remain a
virgin. This arrangement could lead to problems, many of which are discussed
in Massechet Ketubot.

Because of this, since the Middle Ages, we have celebrated the two one after
the other at the same occasion. This is why we have two separate cups of
wine at a chuppah, one for each. To slightly separate the two, we read the
ketubah in between but this is only a custom and really anything that
distracts attention from having drunk the wine, thereby necessitating a
second brachah, would do.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Girls

Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote (MJ 59#66):

> In Yiddish, veiber is "women" but it has a bit of a put-down connotation.

This reflects the German usage where the polite word for a woman is Frau or
Dame, but Weib is pejorative.

Martin Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

In discussion of Rabbi Shevat's article permitting Jewish women to seduce enemy
agents for intelligence purposes I made several counterarguments the chief of
which is that the BASIC source for all cited sources were the stories of Ester
and Yehudith. But, I countered, Esther was a rape victim (so was Yehudis) forced
to go to the King. So the Esther story can't be used as a basis for seductions.

Mordechai Horowitz in (MJ 59#65) says 
> But its unlikely that Esther as a married woman was a virgin so she
> voluntarily went to the harem and then voluntarily made herself look nice
> to be picked as the queen.

I object on methodological and conceptual grounds.

On methodological grounds, the simple reading of the text was that Esther was a
daughter of Mordechai taken in with other versions. The methodological ground
used here is that we don't base legal decisions in Jewish law on Aggadic
statements (for example, Esther was Mordechai's wife)

On conceptual grounds I also object. The simple meaning of the Aggadah that
Mordechai married Esther can be understood in terms of similar Aggadoth that
Shimon married Dinah or Joshua married Rachav. Dinah was a rape victim and was
concerned no one would marry her. She didn't want to leave Shchem's house. So
Shimon offered to marry her. Rachav was a heathen prostitute; even if her life
was spared what future did she have. So Joshua married her.

So too with Esther. Esther may have tried to commit suicide. She may have felt
she had no future. What Jewish boy would marry a heathen King's concubine? So
Mordechai promised to marry her AFTER she left. This is a reasonable interpretation.

Note also that I brought several other halachic objections one of which is the
"degree of danger". No one would permit me to ride to synagogue on Shabbath
because it is safer than walking streets. My fear of being mugged is not
something imminent. So too with intelligence: It is not clear how much
information is gathered, whether we can gather it in other ways, and how much it
will help us (after all when the enemy knows we have spoken about it they may
shift gears)

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


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding

Re: Aliza M. Silverstein's query (MJ 59#65):

> if one really wishes, one can invite deceased relatives to a
> wedding and they will attend. Does anyone have a citation for this?

I would presume that some people can and will do anything that is not outright

Psychologically, some Rabbis think it's soothing to recall deceased under the

Rav Shlomo Aviner is dead set (excuse the pun) against it as it is mixing two
different emotional spheres.



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Special Agents / Women and Language

In MJ 59#65, Leah Gordon wrote:

> And please remember, everyone - this "honeypot" business is less about sex
> than it is about violence. I don't care how promiscuous a person might be
> in her own life; it doesn't make her a happy volunteer to be a rape victim.
> . . . I agree with Russell in this case that to engage with a terrorist in
> sexual relations, under risk of death/torture the whole time, is to be raped.

This discussion is getting more and more unreal.

In war and in espionage, people volunteer for all sorts of missions. In some,
they face certain death, or worse. Historically in Israel - with some notable
exceptions during the War of Independence -- the volunteers on these missions
have been almost entirely men. As just one example, during the Six-Day War,
Israeli soldiers voluntarily impaled themselves on barbed wire so that their
compatriots could step on them and advance up the Golan Heights. I can't
say personally - can Ms. Gordon or Dr. Hendel? - but is undergoing a "voluntary
rape", if that's what it is, "a worse experience"? 

While Ms. Gordon certainly can use any word to mean anything she wants, as a
legal matter Ms. Gordon is completely wrong in characterizing a honeypot mission
as rape. Under New York law, for example, rape in the first degree is defined as
sexual intercourse with another person:

 1. By forcible compulsion; or

 2. Who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless; or

 3. Who is less than eleven years old; or

 4. Who is less than thirteen years old and the actor is eighteen years old or more

So unless the female is a young girl (i.e. an under age female), there must be
forcible compulsion; and since the nature of a honeypot mission is presumably
to make the guy think the woman is his lover, and in that guise get information
out of him, forcible compulsion is necessarily absent. And if there is attempt
at forcible compulsion, one would think. and again I am just speculating, that
the woman has the training and ability to terminate the arrangement immediately,
by extreme measures if necessary. But even if she couldn't, and there is the
possibility that she will be tortured, how is this worse than, say, impaling
oneself on barbed wire?

In sum, for Ms. Gordon to make the case that honeypot missions are morally
indefensible, she must first show that they are less defensible than non-sexual
missions that a male would be asked to undertake. She hasn't.

> Has anyone investigated using MEN (or by some of you, "boys") for "honeypot"
> sting operations?

In fact, yes, as Ms. Gordon could have found out for herself with the five
minutes of research on Google that I just did. According to this article:


Soviet agents did during the Cold War.

And this article:


reminds us of former NJ Governor McGreevys homosexual affair with a Mossad
agent, allegedly in a honeypot operation.


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 21,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: yehareg v'al ya'avor 

Various threads recently on this list have referred to the concept of
yehareg v'al ya'avor [let oneself be killed rather than transgress].  You
may not be aware, however, that there is a siman in the Shulchan Aruch that
deals explicitly with the halacha in relation to this, and answers some of
the questions raised on this list.  The siman in question is Yoreh Deah
siman 157 and it states as follows:

Si'if 1:  All sins which are in the Torah except for idol worship, gilui
arayos [illicit relations] and the shedding of blood if they say to a person
that he should transgress them or they will kill him if it is in private he
should transgress and not be killed and if he wants to be stringent upon
himself to be killed he is permitted, if the idol worshipper intends for him
to transgress the religion.  [Rema skipped] ... and if it is in public that
is before ten Jews he is obligated to be killed and not transgress if the
idol worshipper intends for him to transgress the religion [Rema: even on
his shoelaces] but if he does not intend except to derive pleasure he should
transgress and not be killed and if it is at the time of a decree
[explanation: that they decree on them to violate their religion] Rema: on
Israel alone] even on his shoelaces he should be killed and not transgress
[Rema: and this is davka if he wants that he transgress a negative
prohibition but if they decree a decree that he should not perform a
positive mitzvah he does not need to fulfil it and be killed and anyway if
the time needs it and he wants to be killed and perform it he is permitted]
and idol worship and gilui arayos and the shedding of blood even privately
and not at the time of a decree and even if the idol worshipper does not
intend except for pleasure he should be killed and not transgress [Rema: And
it is davka when they say to him to do an action like they say to a man to
have gilui arayos or they will kill him but if they force a woman so as to
have relations with her or they throw him on a child to kill him or he is
already hardened and they want to force him for a forbidden sexual relation
they do not need to be killed and any [type of] prohibition of idol worship,
gilui arayos or shedding of blood even though there is not in relation to it
[the penalty of] death but [even where] it is only a lav [negative
prohibition] he needs to be killed and not transgress but on the lav of
lifnei iver [causing someone else to transgress] he should transgress and
not be killed and an idol worshipper who has relations with a Jewess it is
not in the category of gilui arayos ....

Si'if 3: One who is liable for the death penalty [according to non-Jewiush law -
MOD] is permitted to flee to a house of idol worship to save himself [Rema: and
there are those who say that at the time of a decree it is forbidden.]

Note that this last si'if is based on the teshuva of the Rosh (19:17) that I
previously mentioned.  When asked whether it was permissible to save oneself
in such a manner the Rosh responds "that there is no issur v'avon
[prohibition or sin] in the matter".  He briefly brings the prohibition on
healing oneself with the wood of an ashera tree (tree the subject of idol
worship) and dismisses any comparison on the basis that in order to get any
healing from the wood of an ashera, the Jew is giving the impression that
there is something to the idol worship and it is not just a matter of
getting a benefit from idol worship.  And since in general the idol
worshippers allow their houses of worship to be used as refuges and do not
allow fugitives to be taken from there it is not as though one is
attributing any strength or power to the idol.  And further, obtaining
healing was only forbidden specifically from the wood of an ashera, because
it itself is an idol and is worshipped, but a building in which there is
idols and worship is not called an idol [or idol worship].

There is more fascinating material in the Beis Yosef on the Tur on this
siman.  In particular, there has been some discussion on this list about
suicide.  There is a section in the Beis Yosef about this - he brings one
opinion that learns out from the Torah that at the time of a decree a person
is allowed (or perhaps should) kill himself if he knows that he will not be
able to stand up to the test (ie to torture) and he brings the derivation
used by those who justified the killing of children in a time of religious
persecution/forced conversion and he then brings the opposite opinion that
there are those who prohibit killing himself [and all the more so children]
and he then brings what is apparently an actual story of a Rav who killed
many children and another who was very angry with him and called him a
murderer and the end of the story was that the first suffered a horrible
death and then the decree was nullified and the other Rav said that if he
had not killed these children, it is possible they would all have been saved
and they would not have been killed.  But if you want to see the learning
that was applied by those in favour of suicide and filicide, see the Beis
Yosef there and the material he quotes.

Kind Regards



End of Volume 59 Issue 67