Volume 64 Number 36 
      Produced: Thu, 25 Jul 19 05:37:35 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Aliya or YU 
    [Michael Poppers]
    [Joel Rich]
Fast Days Becoming Yamim Tovim 
    [Dr. Josh Backon]
Flirting / miscommunications 
    [Martin Stern]
Rape (was Yoav's Father) 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Tachanun query (3)
    [Perets Mett  Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]
The perils of messianism (was Aliya or YU) 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Aliya or YU

In MJ 64#35, David Tzohar completed his thoughts with 

"We still await the coming of Mashiach ben David. But we wait for him in
Jerusalem -- not Washington Heights."

With respect, such an "us vs. them" statement is offensive and, especially at
this time of the year, most disappointing. 

All of us who regularly say (or support/agree with those who say) "es
tzemach-David avd'cha m'heira satzmiach ... ki liyshuas'cha kivinu kal-hayom
[May You speedily cause the 'sprouting' of the Davidic offshoot (i.e. Mashiach)
... for we constantly hope for Your salvation]"; 

all of us who agree with the Maimonidean principle of "I constantly await the
coming of Mashiach"; 

all of us who regularly pray for kibbutz galiyos [the ingathering to Israel of
the exiles] "yachad mei'arba kanfos ha'aretz [united from the 'four corners' of
the earth] 

await the coming of the Mashiach, no matter where among those "four corners" we
currently live.

May we learn to integrate the concept of "yachad" into our souls so that we
can physically attain what we pray for.

All the best from

Michael Poppers
Elizabeth, NJ, USA


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 23,2019 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Conscience

I recently saw this passage in a book "Conscience" by Pat Churchland:

> Conscience is a brain construct rooted in our neural circuitry, not a
> theological entity thoughtfully parked in us by a divine being. It is not
> infallible, even when honestly consulted. It develops over time and is
> sensitive to approval and disapproval; it joins forces with reflection and
> imagination and can be twisted by bad habits, bad company, and a zeitgeist of
> narcissism. Not everyone develops a conscience (witness the psychopaths), and
> sometimes conscience becomes the plaything of morbid anxiety (as in
> scrupulants). The best we can do, given all this, is to aim for understanding
> how an impartial spectator might judge us.
> No good comes of insisting that unless conscience is infallible or religion
> provides absolute rules, morality has nothing to anchor it and anything goes.
> For one thing, such a claim is false. For another thing, we do have something
> to anchor it-namely, our inherited neurobiology. In addition, we have the
> traditions that are handed down from one generation to another and, to some
> degree, tested by time and over varying conditions. We do have institutions
> that embody much wisdom. Those are the anchors. Imperfect? Yes, of course.
> Still, an imperfect foundation is better than a phony foundation. What we
> don't want to do is fabricate a myth about infallible conscience or divine
> laws, peddle it as fact, and then get caught out when people come to realize,
> as they most assuredly will, that it was all made up. Thus a biological take
> on moral behavior and the conscience that guides it.

I wrote to Dr. Churchland's but she did not respond:

"I read your new book with great interest. While I would certainly love to
discuss it with you I do have one question that I was hoping you might address.
On page 147 you note that conscience is a brain construct rooted in our neural
circuitry. My simple question is once one becomes aware of this fact, why should
one feel bound to act according to one's conscience? If such an individual had a
ring of gyges, why would he choose not to use it to his full benefit?"

Leshitatah [according to her understanding] - I wonder what would be her likely

Shenir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim uvinyanah bimherah veyamenu (may we see the
consolation of Jerusalem and its rebuilding speedily in our days).

Joel Rich


From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Fast Days Becoming Yamim Tovim

Immanuel Burton (MJ 64#35) asked about fast days becoming Yamim Tovim.

The following is adapted from my post on Tzomot:


RASHI: defines "she'yesh shalom" as even when the beit hamikdash isn't built, if
the hand of the goyim is not tekefa [held] over Israel, then the (4) taaniyot
become days of sasson v'simcha [rejoicing] but there is no active celebration.
By definition: if the beit hamikdash is built, even if the goyim have rule over
Israel, these fast days are days of simcha. What's interesting is that the
RASHBA there (RH 18b) explains shalom as "she'yisrael sheruyin al admatan"!!!!  

RABBENU CHANNANEL: all the tzomot are a zecher of the beit hamikdash. hus in
time of peace (e.g. when the beit hamikdash is built), these fast days become
days of simcha. There is only a chovat tzom when there is a gezera (when goyim
rule). The middle path: no beit hamikdash but no gezera: it's up to the decision
of the people as a whole. However, the Meiri there explains GEZERA as: shmad
("she'ein gozrim aleynu gezeirot L'VATEL ET HA'MITZVOT").

RAMBAN: shalom = beit hamikdash is built and thus fast days become days of
simcha; no shalom but no days of gezera (rule of goyim over Israel): "ratzu rov
yisrael v'nismichu shelo l'hitanot EIN MATRICHIM ALEYHEM L'HITANOT".

RABBENU TAM: if there is no gezera against the Jews anywhere, the period is NOT
considered one that there is a chovat tzom. To reiterate: the Meiri there
explains GEZERA as: shmad ("she'ein gozrim aleynu gezeirot L'VATEL ET
HA'MITZVOT"). Thus GEZERA isn't just persecution !!

RAMBAM (Peyrush Hamishnayot Rosh Hashana 1:3): if yad ha'umot eino tekefa, this
is equivalent to shalom and thus the tzomot are yemei simcha; if there any
gezera against Jews anywhere in the world, the tzomot revert back to the will of
the people.

RITVA: if there is no gezera, the people can abolish "rechitza, sikha, u'neilat
ha'sandal" but not "achila". Thus so long as the beit hamikdash isn't rebuilt we
have to fast. However, the Aruch La'Ner there indicates that from the wording of
the Rambam (Hilchot Taanit 5:4) there is NO difference "mi'divrei kabbala"
between Tisha B'Av and the other 3 tzomot (in other words: "b'sha'a she'ein
gezeyra v'ein shalom, RATZU, MITANIM; it's only because the tzibbur has accepted
that we fast, a beit din can't abolish fasting on Tisha B'Av. Lastly, the RITVA
indicates that m'divrei kabbala ratzu, mit'anim GAM AL TISHA B'AV NE'EMAR".

Israel has been independent since 1948. There are no foreign armies in Israel
and no goyim  prohibiting practice of Judaism, even in Iran!  Why then do we fast ??

Josh Backon



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Flirting / miscommunications

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 64#35):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#34):

>> ... A woman who flirts with a man is indicating a wish to initiate some
>> relationship so she cannot then claim to be a totally innocent rape victim
>> unless she takes some action (as the Torah puts it "cries out") to indicate
>> that she has no wish to have sexual relations.  ....

> At the risk of taking Martin's comments out of context:
> Among the many perils of our gender-segregated society is miscommunication.
> Many a yeshiva bocher or a Bais Yaakov girl simply does not seem to know how
> to properly interact with each other.
> The young woman who greets *everyone* with a pleasant smile most likely is
> NOT flirting -- only being herself. Her smile clearly is not an invitation of
> any kind nor does it require a disclaimer of having no wish for a
> relationship.

I think there is a world of difference between 'a pleasant smile' and flirting -
though sometimes this may not be apparent.

> And what does it say of a society where any relationship is construed to be
> a sexual relationship or even a precursor to rape? In a healthy society men
> and women can interact without any such vectors.

This is a problem but is not restricted to strictly Orthodox circles. In the
latter, gender interaction is severely limited with the deliberate intention of
inhibiting any such relationships developing. Perhaps this is a better
'solution' than the situation in 'modern' society where gender roles can be

Martin Stern


From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 22,2019 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Rape (was Yoav's Father)

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#34):

> A woman who flirts with a man is indicating a wish to initiate some
> relationship so she cannot then claim to be a totally innocent rape victim
> unless she takes some action

Avi Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 64#34):

> If a person walks as a visibly identified Jew into an area with a known high
> rate of crime to Jews ... would you say that he/she bears no responsibility
> for any resulting violence?
> ...
> one does have a Torah-based responsibility to avoid danger to your own life.
> Fields were known to have been areas of significant risk of rape in the ancient
> world.

I take exception to each of these comments. 

To Martin, I do not see how one can associate flirting with rape or even an
invitation to a consensual sexual encounter. Flirting is certainly a way of
indicating interest or attraction to another person, but that is far from
expressing a desire to have sex, either immediately or even after repeated
flirting. Indeed, even if it WERE expressing such an interest, that would not be
an invitation to rape, which is by definition forcible sexual relations without
consent. Interest in a possible future sexual encounter is not consent, and even
consent to sex is not consent to forcible sex. The Torah prohibits sex with
one's spouse without consent, and certainly, we can assume that there is ongoing
flirtation and prior consent to sex in a marriage. How a rape victim could be
deemed partially responsible because she flirted with the perpetrator is beyond
my comprehension.

To Ari, while you attempt to distinguish between responsibility and culpability,
and I do understand your point, I think there is a further distinction to be
made between responsibility to oneself and responsibility for the actions of
others. We should all take responsibility for ourselves 
and avoid actions that put us in danger. And certainly at a time and place where
it is known that rape is prevalent, one has a responsibility not to act
foolishly (though women may have to work in a field in order to survive, so I am 
not sure that one can put any responsibility on her in such a case). Yet, that
does not place any shared responsibility for rape on the victim. Even if we
misjudge the risks (and humans are terrible at assessing actual risk), the
responsibility falls 100% on the perpetrator. American courts have struggled
with this and saying that a woman should not have placed herself in a place
where she may get raped is still blaming the victim. Her actions did not compel
the man to do anything to her. Her being there, absent the free will of the man,
caused no rape. Even if she flirted.

And what does it say about Jewish men (then or now), that (following your logic)
the Torah assumes that if a woman goes into a field and chas v'halila smiles,
she will be violently sexually assaulted? Why is a field presumptively a place
occupied by rapists?

Michael Rogovin


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Tachanun query

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#35):

> Why are the rules for which days we don't say tachanun not the same as those
> for not saying lamenatzeach?

That depends on who 'we' are.

Amongst large segments of Jewry, including Edot Hamizrach and Chabad (and others
following the Siddur of the Baal haTanya), the rules for Tachanun and
Lam'natseiach are identical.

Perets Mett

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Tachanun query

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 64#35):

To take the traditional Jewish way of answering a question with a question -
Why should tachanun and lam'natzeiach be governed by the same rules?

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Tachanun query

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 64#35):

The difference has to do with the "power" of the day regarding sacrifices as
well as it being identified as a "yom tzarah" psalm.

Sefaradim link it with tachanun but Ashkenazim only do so for days with a more
significant "simcha".

As for the "power" element, tachanun is also not said at mincha before a day
which is a chag as the offering of the sacrifice also extends backwards. But
then in Eretz Yisrael there's a different minhag of omitting it also on Isru Chag.

Yisrael Medad



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 21,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The perils of messianism (was Aliya or YU)

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 64#35):

> ...
> Finally to Martin Stern (MJ 64#34). Yes Torat Harav Kook is messianism. But to
> compare it to Christianity or Shabtai Tzvi?? That is really over the top.

I fear that the comparison is not quite as outrageous as David may think. In
both cases, the movements were accepted initially as 'streams' within Judaism.
It was only later as a result of historical developments, the destruction of the
Temple and the apostasy of Shabtai Tzvi respectively, that they took on
progressively more deviant theologies and were recognised as having severed
their connection to normative Judaism.

If, G-d forbid, the state of Israel should be destroyed by the Arabs then it
would be conceivable that Torat Harav Kook might follow a similar course. That
is the way messianic movements have always reacted when reality does not follow
their expectations, creating a cognitive dissonance that has to be 'explained
away'. I get the impression that David's concluding comments might be similar to
the utterances of the other movements prior to the catastrophe that led them
along this path:

> The Vilna Gaon said 240 years ago (in Kol HaTor) that we are entering the
> period of Mashiach ben Yosef. Herzl, Jabotinsky, Ben Gurion and Begin were all
> part of that atchalta degeulah. Now after 70 years of the State of Israel and
> 50 years after the six day war we are already in the midst of redemption
> according to Rav Tau and the other talmidim of R Tzvi Yehudah this is
> "metziatta de geulah" We still await the coming of Mashiach ben David. But we
> wait for him in Jerusalem -- not Washington Heights.

Of course, I would be only too happy if David were right but only worry that he
may be wrong, which might lead to yet another catastrophe.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 36