Volume 64 Number 70 
      Produced: Sun, 28 Jun 20 13:40:17 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bible criticism (3)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Orrin Tilevitz]
Bo'i ve-Shalom (7)
    [Michael Mirsky  Perry Zamek  Joel Rich  Menashe Elyashiv  Yisrael Medad   Lawrence Israel  Haim Snyder]
Saying Uva L'Zion in yehidut 
    [Haim Snyder]
Yehareig velo ya'avor 
    [Joel Rich]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 64#69):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 64#68):
>> It struck me that those who espouse the views of the Bible critics may be
>> doing> so for much the same reason as Korach - to discredit the legitimacy of
>> the Torah and, consequently, the obligatory nature of the mitzvot contained
>> in it.
> That's always a possibility. Another possibility - a better one, I believe -
> is that they are people seeking the truth, and this is where their search led
> them to. Disagree with them all you want, of course; thats what thoughtful
> people do.  But personal attacks on their motives are highly unconvincing "
> at least to me. 

I agree with Joseph that questioning an opponents' motives isn't in itself a
convincing argument. That is why I have raised the possibility that the
underlying assumptions of Bible criticism may be much shakier than their
proponents admit and one could construct a different approach based on an
alternative axiomatic system. Which set of axioms one accepts is a matter of
personal choice but any argument must be conducted within that system without
appealing to anything based entirely on an alternative one with which it is

R. Shalom Carmy puts the problem faced by Orthodox Jews very well in his essay
contained (p. 3) in "Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah", the fourth
volume of the Orthodox Forum Series, edited by R. Shalom Carmy (Jason Aronson,

"Modern academic scholarship in Bible is conducted as if the fundamental tenets
of Orthodox Judaism were false. At best, one affects methodological neutrality
about the truth of these propositions. Sharp, irreconcilable conflict over
fundamental presumptions with wide-ranging implications - the authorship of the
Torah, the reliability of the canon, the authenticity and  authority of the Oral
Law - must, of necessity, preclude the development of consensus between Orthodox
Jews and the academic establishment. Methodological agnosticism renders the
Orthodox Jew an intellectual Marrano: compelled to feign neutrality in
discussing matters on which he or she holds firm, unshakable convictions. To
acquiesce outwardly, out of hunger for professional toleration, in a scholarly
consensus the presuppositions and conclusions of which one judges false and
pernicious, is an offence against intellectual honesty and a betrayal of human

This essay is well worth reading in full as are the others contained in this

Those who question the basic assumptions of modern academic Bible scholarship
are automatically dismissed as fundamentalists, whose views need not be
considered, and are effectively barred from obtaining tenured posts in most
academic institutions. That their views are rejected without any attempt to
demonstrate their invalidity, suggests an underlying motivation that its
proponents would rather not state openly - shades of Voltaire and the dogmatic
philosophes of the Enlightenment era - but that is, in reality, irrelevant to
the debate and should not distract us from presenting reasoned arguments to
support our position.

Martin Stern

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

In response to Joseph Kaplan (MJ 64#69):

Unfortunately, the basic arguments of the so called "Bible Critics" usually
assume the results that they are looking for. As a result, it is often obvious
that they are not looking for the truth, but are attempting to discredit the Torah.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

In response to Joseph Kaplan (MJ 64#69):

This is one, of many, MJ discussions that I really should stay out of because I
don't care -- I believe that Torah is min Hashamayim (I confess not to understand
precisely what that means) and that I am Divinely required to do mitzvot; and I
don't see how linguistic discussions are going to prove or disprove a matter of
belief that by its nature is neither provable nor disprovable. But four brief

(1) There are lots of other possibilities. Among them is that it was originally
intended to puncture Christian theology (as opposed to Jewish belief) which was
based on the Divine source of the Bible, even as it asserted that mitzvot were
not obligatory because they had been superseded (not that they weren't Divine in
origin to begin with.) As I understand it, this was precisely the aim of the
original Wellhausen School of Biblical criticism (the notorious Documentary
Hypothesis, the "JEPD" theory which this list has been discussing), and I
understand that Church fathers at the time reacted accordingly.

(2) Some quick on-line research uncovered a Yeshivat Har Etzion lecture by Rav
Chaim Navon (R. Google will lead to it readily). Rav Navon summarizes R.
Moredechai Breuer's perspective as "that we can accept the exegetical
conclusions of Biblical criticism, without accepting their theological
corollaries". I can understand why that would be controversial but I hardly
understand how that raises an issue regarding R. Breuer's underlying religiosity.

(3) Someone in this ongoing discussion mentioned "proofs" by archaeologists. My
impression is that there are two types of Biblical archaeologists: those whose
goal is to prove that the Tanach is true, and those whose goal is to prove that
it is false, the latter generally by failing to find things that the
archaeologist says ought to be there if the Tanach were true. My personal view
is that neither is looking for the "truth" and that they are equally
intellectually dishonest.

(4) I am surprised that the name James Kugel hasn't come up in these
discussions. He is a now-retired longtime Harvard professor who at one time
taught the largest undergraduate lecture at Harvard, over 900 students, an
introduction to the Bible, i.e., modern Biblical criticism. Based on his book,
"How to Read the Bible", Biblical criticism has advanced way past the
Documentary Hypothesis. You can judge for yourself whether Prof. Kugel's methods
and conclusions (in part he relies on the absence of archaeological evidence)
have any validity. He does point out in the last chapter that the Divinity of
the Bible is far more important to Christians than to Jews because we still have
the mitzvot, whether they are Divinely ordained or not, and Christians do not.



From: Michael Mirsky <bracha.mirsky@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

David Olivestone wrote (MJ 64#69):

> There are differing minhagim about which way to face during Bo'i ve-Shalom, 
> the last stanza of Lecha Dodi. Many congregations turn 180 degrees, i.e., to the
> back, presumably because that's where the shul doors were usually located in
> earlier times. Others turn to where their own shul doors actually are. Here in
> Jerusalem, many have the custom of turning to the west, regardless of the
> location of the doors. Besides Mishnah Berurah, who seems to prefer the west
> option, what other sources discuss this and how do they pasken? 
> And one more thing: In which direction do those people who live east of
> Jerusalem turn? Since they face west when they daven, do they not turn at all 
> if they believe that bo'i ve-shalom should be said facing west?

Indeed in my son's yishuv, Mitzpe Yericho, which is east of Yerushalayim, they
don't turn at all since they are already facing west.

It was a bit embarrassing when I turned the first time I visited!

Michael Mirsky

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):

This was discussed recently in the OU's Torah Tidbits, and I looked into it as
well for a Dvar Torah in my shule, where I was wondering about the same issue.
The idea of turning to the back of the synagogue seems to be based on the
assumption that the entrance is at the back, and in Europe this meant also that
the congregation would be facing the west.

As a result, many congregations in other places simply turn to the back, again
because the entrance is there.
Rabbi Betzalel Stern (B'Tzel HaChochma 3:65), who served as rabbi of Melbourne's
Adass Israel community in the 1950s, addresses David's second question:

He initially suggests that, perhaps, one should not turn around at all, seeing
that one is facing west when praying (shules in Melbourne are, for the most
part, oriented toward the north or the west, with some facing north-west - Adass
Israel faces west). He rejects this for a number of reasons, and decides that
his shule's custom of turning to the back, where the entrance is located, is
most appropriate, for a combination of reasons: Given that one of the reasons
for facing west is that the sun is setting in that direction, facing west is
appropriate only if one goes outside to say Kabbalat Shabbat, and especially
Bo'i ve-Shalom, at the time of sunset. If this is not the case, that is, for
those praying inside the shule at a time that is not sunset, then it is more
appropriate to face the entrance, since this is where one would face to greet an
honoured guest.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (as quoted in Torah Tidbits) also addresses this question,
and seems to favour turning toward the west, but at least one should do
something to indicate that one is welcoming the Shabbat with respect.
And a final note added by Rabbi Daniel Mann, who wrote on the issue in Torah
Tidbits: when praying in shule, it is best that there be one uniform custom
regarding the direction to face, rather than transgressing the prohibition of
"lo titgodedu" (not to have multiple competing customs), which is a clear
halacha, as opposed to the minhag of turning at Bo'i ve-Shalom.

Perry Zamek

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):

David is showing eurocentricity! The standard is that a shul is built with the
aron facing Jerusalem (the east to Europe) and the doors are so you face the
aron when you come in (west side in Europe). I suppose in Tsfat they were
outside so why care about the doors?

In at least some minyanim in Jerusalem they turn to the back which is neither to
the west nor the doors

My best guess is that the minhag started in Europe where any explanation worked
and then when it didn't the local rav decided what made sense to him.

Joel Rich

From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):

The basis for turning at Bo'i ve-Shalom is the Ar"i, who established Kabbalat
Shabbat. He would say it outside of his Bet Keneset, facing Meron and the
setting sun. This is the reason facing west, and in Europe, the Bate Keneset
faced east so turning west was also turning to the door.

Many years ago, I was in the army near Jericho. We did not turn, as Jericho
is in the east, facing Jerusalem to the west.

BTW, the Hanuka Menorah in the Bet Keneset is placed in the south. However, if
the Bet Keneset faces north, e.g. in the Negev, it is placed in the north. My
son living there saw it by the door!

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 27,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):

One other source is in the Talmud Baba Bathra 26A: the Shechina [Divine
Presence] is in the West. Checking other sources, I see that the West approach
is justified for that is where the sun is setting, thus bringing on the Shabbat.
This direction applies equally to those residing to the East as to the West.

Yisrael Medad

From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 27,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):

Here is an interesting side question:

When we daven outside, the West-facers have no problem but what are the poor
door-facers to do?

From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 28,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Bo'i ve-Shalom

In response to David Olivestone (MJ 64#69):
The answer to his question was given by Rabbi Daniel Mann of Eretz Hemdah (full
disclosure: He is my nephew). This link will take you to it:
It also appeaared in Torah Tidbits at:


Haim Shalom Snyder
Petah Tikva


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 28,2020 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Saying Uva L'Zion in yehidut

Since the coronavirus pandemic, in all of the instructions that I have read
about how to pray by oneself I don't recall anyone who discussed saying Uva
L'Zion in the morning prayer.

It is referred to by the siddur as K'dusha d'Sidra. According to Rabbi Dr. Elie
Monk in his book "World of Prayer" page 184, "It is said to have been joined to
the Shacharis in order to enable latecomers to recite the K'dusha." If so, then
it might be considered, like the regular K'dusha, as something that requires a
minyan in order to say it.
The practice of reading those verses aloud, with the Sha"tz saying the
introductory words, to my mind, reinforces the idea that they are considered as
requiring a minyan to be said.
In my siddur, which goes according to the Vilna Gaon, the two verses containing
the responses to the K'dusha are written with their cantillation. Note that both
of them are written as complete verses, as opposed to the second response in the
K'dusha said as part of the reader's repetition. This enables reading them with
their cantillation here (which makes it learning, not praying) thus precluding
the need for a minyan.


Haim Shalom Snyder

Petah Tikva


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 26,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Yehareig velo ya'avor

Yaakov Shachter wrote (MJ 64#69):

> Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#68):
>> If a Ben Noach [Noahide, i.e. non-Jew] is being forced to abrogate
>> one of his 7 mitzvot, does he have a requirement to give up his life
>> rather than comply?  Presumably he is not directly covered by vechay
>> bahem [you shall live in them].
> If you accept the authority of Rambam, this is black-letter law.  See Sefer
> Shoftim, Hilkhoth Mlakhim UMilxmotheyhem, Chapter 10, Paragraph 2: "A Ben-Noax
> who is compelled to violate one of his commandments is allowed to do so.  Even
> if he is compelled to worship idols, he may [or, perhaps, he shall -- the 
> Hebrew is ambiguous, but see Sefer Hammada`, Hilkhoth Yesodey Hattorah,
> Chapter 5, Paragraph 1, for Rambam's belief in the impermissibility of  
> voluntary martyrdom] worship, because they are not commanded to do Qiddush
> HaShem".

Thanks for the cite!  If you check out the Mishneh Lmelech there he refers to
the Parshat Drachim, Derech Atarim (drasha #2), who makes exactly the argument I
proposed as to why a Ben Noach would be required to give up his life rather than
kill someone.

Joel Rich


End of Volume 64 Issue 70