Volume 64 Number 79 
      Produced: Fri, 21 Aug 20 04:12:30 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another ketoret problem 
    [Martin Stern]
Bible criticism 
    [Martin Stern]
Kosher as a 'trademark' (2)
    [Carl Singer  Michael Rogovin]
Rambam: Hilchot Talmud Torah  
    [Joel Rich]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 16,2020 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Another ketoret problem

In Pitom haketoret, the eleven spices are listed:
1-4: hatsori, hatsipporen, hachelbonah, halevoneh: 70 maneh each

(these correspond to the four named spices in Ex.30:34, hence the heh hayedia,
which are to be bad bevad [of equal volume])

5-8: mor, ketsiah, shibbolet nerd, karkom: 16 maneh each

(these correspond to four unnamed spices implied in Ex.30:34, hence the lack of
a heh hayedia, but are nonetheless to be bad bevad (see Rashi ad loc.))

9:   hakosht: 12 maneh

(once again with a heh hayedia)

10:  killufah: 3 maneh

11:  kinamon:  9 maneh

My problem is the order of the last two. All the other groups are in descending
order of volume. Why is this reversed for them?

For what it is worth, I note that no. 9 (hakosht) has a heh hayedia like the
first four so it may be somehow linked to them, whereas the last two do not,
possibly linking them to the second group of four. Also the total volume of the
latter (12 maneh) is the same as that of hakosht. Thus the remaining 24 maneh is
split equally between the two groups. Does this suggest any ideas to anyone?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 16,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Bible criticism

Michael Frankel wrote (MJ 64#67):
> I haven't dipped into mail jewish in a while but in present homebound days I
> find I need a break from my present hobbies ...  So, Martin Stern's note
> (MJ 64#65) caught my eye.   Without commenting the fallaciousness (or not) of
> his notion, he asks:
>> In the first chapter of my book, A Time to Speak (Devora Publishing, '10), I
>> suggested that the whole dispute between Torah min Hashmayim and Bible
>> Criticism is based on a logical fallacy.
>> To summarise my argument, I posited that the Bible Critics were applying
>> literary techniques designed for analysing the authorship of texts composed
>> by humans. Torah min Hashmayim claims that the Torah was composed by HKBH so
>> such techniques are inappropriate - i.e. the former's 'reconstructions' are
>> based on a paradigm fallacy.
>> ... 
>> IMHO my approach immediately neutralises the claim that Bible Criticism
>> undermines Torah min Hashmayim by pointing out its use of the rhetorical
>> device called "poisoning the well" where a 'hidden' assumption is made which
>> undermines one's opponent's position in the hope that it will not be noticed.
>> As I have not seen this argument being put forward, I suspect that it may be
>> fallacious but I cannot see my error. Can anyone point it out or,
>> alternatively, if they have seen it elsewhere, provide a reference?
> Well, since he asks - as I am unfamiliar with his book and thus I am confident
> the three-line precis he provides is not really sufficient to make an adequate
> assessment, however it strikes me in crude outline as not dissimilar to the
> much more elaborated thesis of the late Rabbi Mordechai Breuer

Having now looked in more detail at Rabbi Mordechai Breuer's thesis, I think
there is a considerable difference. He basically seems to accept the validity of
the documentary hypothesis but phrases it as that this is the way HKBH managed
to convey his message by using, so to speak, several distinct 'sources' to
convey different 'aspects' of it.

My approach involves asserting that the whole of the Biblical critical analysis
is based on the (often hidden) assumption that the Torah is a human document
subject to the literary techniques appropriate to such and is, therefore,
inconsistent with Torah min Hashamayim, at least if accepted as it appears at
first sight.

However, I would allow a proposition like "if it were a human document then we
can infer ..." i.e. one can consider the implications of that approach even if
one rejected its practical applicability. This might throw a valuable light on
the text independently of its truth. 

I reckon this essentially is no different from the mediaeval peshat commentators
claim 'Ein yotzei miydei peshuto' even if the results went against the derashot
Chazal. Put another way it might be a valuable exegetical technique but would
not thereby undermine established halachah.

Perhaps Rabbi Breuer would agree with my formulation but I cannot be sure -
vetzarikh iyun [but it requires deeper consideration].

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 14,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Kosher as a 'trademark'

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#78):

To grossly oversimplify: We can look at commonalities or we can look at

And/or we can attach labels to include/exclude other individuals or groups.

Carl Singer 

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 16,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Kosher as a 'trademark'

Martin Stern responded (MJ 64#78) to my comments (MJ 64#77) on who should be
able to certify kosher in Israel. I agree with many of his points, particularly
on the idea that the streams or movements/denominations in Judaism is artificial
and is a construct that has little if any halachic import.

> There is no such thing as 'Orthodox enough' - only, perhaps, sufficiently
> careful in their observances of mitzvot. However, careful observance alone
> may not be sufficient to define Orthodoxy.

In this case while I agree in general, I do not think that the Orthodox
establishment agrees. I think that there are some rabbis and yeshivot that are
'not Orthodox enough', in that while they are observant and hold opinions and
beliefs that have support in mainstream sources, some of these may be minority
opinions that. In fact, expressing some opinions in Israel is less risky than
expressing those same opinions in the US, where doing so can get one ostracized
from orthodox organizations, journals, etc. One need not hold extreme messianic
views to be tossed out (although mainstream orthodoxy seems more willing to
accept some of the extreme neo-messianic Chabad groups over much more mainstream
modern orthodox rabbis).

>> There are some Conservative rabbis who are stricter about kashrut than some
>> Orthodox rabbis.
> I suspect that the former are, in reality, only Conservative by affiliation (or
> employment) rather than by conviction regarding those underlying matters which
> differentiate Conservatism from Orthodoxy.

Some perhaps, but the ones I know are quite within Conservative philosophy on
matters of textual authorship, egalitarianism, and nusach of prayer, while being
indistinguishable from orthodoxy on matters of shabbat and kashrut. Proving the
point that movements are not clear cut ways to distinguish Jews.

>> There are Orthodox seminaries on the left that are rejected by the RCA.
> They may call themselves Orthodox but obviously the RCA has serious misgivings
> regarding their bona fides - after all there is no way to prevent anyone
> claiming to be Orthodox even if it is done deliberately to mislead the 
> uninformed.

The RCA is a membership body and thus is free to choose whom to offer membership
to. Having said that, let us not forget that it was formed largely in response
(at least according to my sources) to YU rabbis being kept out of the Igud
Harabbonim. That would be consistent with the pattern in human society of groups
that are excluded turning around and excluding others (think the Pilgrim Fathers
having being persecuted in England coming to America and persecuting
non-Puritans). Of course, any group has criteria for membership, but the RCA
started as a mainstream, centrist group and now has a large contingent of haredi
members (mostly from the OU kashrut division) who are members because of their
OU jobs but not really part of the RCA zeitgeist, but who nonetheless vote on
such issues. To say that the RCA has misgivings is to say that some in the RCA
have misgivings and that the majority, which includes non-MO voices, vote with
those rabbis.  I cannot say what the RCA would do if it was MO rabbis, given the
clout of certain leaders, but the voice of modern orthodoxy is certainly being
diluted and I think that many in the MO world have no issue with calling YCT
rabbis orthodox, if more liberal on some issues than the typical RIETS grad.

> However, some sort of registration might well be helpful, especially if it
> required the granter of supervision to specify in detail the policies he or 
> she followed - so long as the secular authorities are  clearly only
> certifying that the information provided by the 'rav hamachshir' is accurate, 
> rather than indicating its own 'approval'.

That is precisely what the NJ legislation does (and I think other states'). It
gets the state out of the business of certifying something as kosher (a flaw in
older laws that led to rulings that they were unconstitutional), and putting the
onus on people to decide who they want to trust. Israel is of course different,
but I am uncomfortable giving the Chief Rabbinate exclusive rights to a
technical term. The government can maintain a databse of all who give
certification, and anyone can compile a list that says which they truist, so
shul rabbis or organizations can make their own approved lists (like the Chicago
Rabbinical Council or Kosherquest do in the US).

Michael Rogovin


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 17,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Rambam: Hilchot Talmud Torah 

I am collecting answers to the question as to why the Rambam chose to open
Hilchot Talmud Torah with those who are NOT subject to the laws of Talmud Torah.
Any contributions appreciated :-)


Joel Rich


End of Volume 64 Issue 79