Volume 65 Number 53 
      Produced: Thu, 07 Jul 22 16:35:34 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Branches of Judaism? 
    [Michael Frankel]
Jewish World Leaders Demand Concrete Action 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Mitzvah of Gun Ownership (was Abortion) (2)
    [Carl Singer  Orrin Tilevitz]
Observant Jews 
    [Michael Perl]
Punishment for the wicked 
    [Robert Rubinoff]
Russian olim (2)
    [Martin Stern  Prof. L. Levine]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern wrote (MJ65#52):

> Though, for a Jew, performing an abortion may not be murder, it is certainly
> prohibited unless there is a very good reason for it.

Change "may not be murder" to "is not murder" and I agree with it. But nobody on
this list has made any persuasive case as why we should want the government to
enforce our religious obligations.


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 7,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Branches of Judaism?

Meir Shinnar wrote (MJ 65#51):

> ...
> Rav Schwab, part of the Breuer/Hirsch tradition, adopts what is commonly
> called the austritt approach - that one should complelely separate from the
> non-Orthodox - and even from those Orthodox communities that refuse to
> separate (the gemeinde [general inclusive] communities.
> ...
> The leading posek in Germany at the time, Rav Bamberger, opposed it.  At the
> time, most Litvaks were also opposed - there is a tshuva by the Netziv 
> opposing it, as well as his famous hakdama to Ha'amek Davar on Breishit -
> where the Avot are called yesharim [upright] for working with everyone.
> ...

I have no substantive comments on the ostensible subject line, but rather two
minor corrections to the above en passant remarks.   To wit:

1. Rav Bamberger did not actually oppose austritt as a shitoh.   He favored it
as an appropriate option under circumstances (after all some years previously he
signed his name supporting austritt in Vienna).  That previous record is why
RSRH expected R. Bambergers endorsement and felt so sandbagged when it didn't
happen.  He opposed it in R. Hirsch's Frankfurt because he felt the
grossgemeinde's offered concessions were sufficient, and RSRH's halachic
decision carried no weight, even with respect to RSRH's own territory, relative
to greater halachic authorities who disagreed (i.e., himself).  And indeed,
since hardly any of RSRH's own qhiloh, aside from various shul functionaries who
depended on RSRH economically, obeyed their rav's halachic demand to separate,
RSRH might have viewed it as an immediate failure in Frankfurt.

2. This is even more of a nit.  The Netziv's well known remark about sefer
yshorim was not in the haqdomoh (qidmas hoemeq - well worth reading, if only for
his remarks re analogy between depths of science and depths of torah), but in
the shorter Psichoh to Breishis that follows.

Mechy Frankel



From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 7,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Jewish World Leaders Demand Concrete Action

In Ha'aretz on 6 July there appeared an article which commenced:

> 'Words of support are not enough,' Jewish leaders write after dozens of ultra-
> Orthodox boys were filmed attacking Conservative families celebrating at the
> Western Wall last week

For further details, see


I posted the following comment:

I am what most would categorize as a right-wing Orthodox Jew. However,
hooliganism is not part of Torah Judaism. Supposedly observant Jews who attack
those whom they do not agree with and/or destroy their property are not living
their lives according to Halacha. There is absolutely no justification for acts
like these that create a huge Chillul HaShem!

Yitzchok Levine


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Mitzvah of Gun Ownership (was Abortion)

Frank Silbermann notes (MJ 65#52):

> Buying a gun, learning how to use it, and getting a permit, in contrast, all
> fall under the category of being ready to do a mitzvah.

I'm not sure how this sudden change of subject comes about -- but while on this
new subject, just as abortion is not a singular cut & dry issue, neither is gun

52 years ago when going through basic combat training -- I, a city kid who had
never fired anything more potent than a Roy Rogers cap gun, picked up an M-16
rifle and within a week I was obliterating 300 meter targets -- not so much my
skills but the lethality of my weapon.

As applied to American society / culture -- there is no place for weapons of war
such as automatic rifles or other "military style" ordnance within the general
population.   Yes, in Israel we see soldiers, both women and men, walking the
streets carrying such weapons and we, thankfully, don't hear of their mis-use
such as in "mass shootings."  But speaking from an American standpoint - the
mitzvah of self-preservation can be accomplished with many lesser measures.

I've been to shuls protected by armed security officers.  I've been to shuls
where certain designated congregants carry weapons - even on Shabbos.  I've been
to shuls that have spent government grants to "fortify" their physical plant. 
All are a terrible reflection on the current state of American Society.

Carl A. Singer,  Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Mitzvah of Gun Ownership (was Abortion)

Frank Silbermann wrote (MJ 65#52):

> Buying a gun, learning how to use it, and getting a permit, in contrast, all
> fall under the category of being ready to do a mitzvah [of pursuing a rodef]

And that is precisely why we Orthodox Jews should support eliminating
restrictions on gun ownership, so that anyone in America may readily observe
what they think their personal mitzvah is, such as shooting Black people,
immigrants, Jews, a motorist who cuts them up, etc.


From: Michael Perl <michael_perl9@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 7,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Observant Jews

I have been a member of MJ for 27 years only posting or commenting on the rare
occasion. I am thrilled to see how much life has been breathed into the group,
ironically due to the topic of abortion, but with other matters being debated
much more fully too. 

B"H, we have many members of different ages, living in different places as well
as different communities with a wide array of hashkafos (worldviews).  The
comments people make are obviously colored by the world they live in so that
Frank Silbermann, who IIRC hails from Memphis, has a view on guns that runs
counter to many of ours but it is one I can appreciate and respect, even if not
agreeing with it. I feel that communication and understanding make us all richer.  

To that end, I was very disappointed in reading David Tzohar's reply (MJ 65#51)
to Leah Gordon and feel an apology is in order. She is a gem among us, bringing
a much needed perspective that many do not have. She is learned in many ways and
those from a different world/hashkafa do not add to the discussion by saying a
woman should know her boundaries and place quoting a 1500 year old point of view
in the gemara and then a 50 year old one from R. Tz Y Kook.

To quibble further on the gemara, just quoting the simple statement of R.
Eliezer, a shamusi, without the context of R. Azzai and R. Yehoshua is too easy!
To my eyes, this is insulting, as is defining lishma as something a woman
"needs" to know - "shabbat, kashrut, yom tov, niddah etc". When a man learns
certain masechtot which have no practical application today, is that considered
lishma? I would assume most of us would say yes so why limit a woman? Of course,
many on the list may hold the view that woman should not learn gemara but
someone who may disagree - and provide cogent argument on a topic - should not
be insulted.
I am sorry that a conflict arose between Rabbi Tzohar and his wife over covering
one's hair. I also have a wife who will challenge me on viewpoints after
learning on her own, so I understand the frustration. There have been many
occasions I have yearned for a more compliant woman but, truthfully, I wouldn't
have it any other way as I am wiser for it - at least that's what I tell myself :)

The Rambam wrote concerning teaching women: "Although she is rewarded, the
Sages commanded that a man not teach his daughter Torah, because most women are
not oriented to learn but rather transform Torah discussions into trivia due to
the poverty of their intellect. The Sages said, 'anyone who teaches his daughter
Torah is as if he has taught her tiflut (frivolity)'. What does this apply to?
The Oral Torah. But regarding the Written Torah, he should not teach it to her
lekhat'hila, but if he taught her it is not as if he taught her tiflut."

In a day and age when so many women in our communities are learned in other
areas, does anyone think the Rambam would still rule in such a fashion? Would
Rav Moshe Feinstein? IMHO to say yes, looks really weak and that men are simply
afraid of losing their patriarchy.

To end lightly, it reminds me of the old quip about the Litvak vs the
Galicianer. The Litvak says "Vehu yimshol bach" whereas the poor Galicianer says
"Vehi yimshol bach".

Bvirkat shalom,

Michael Perl
New York


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Punishment for the wicked

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#52): 
> Perhaps others on MJ can help me think this through? 
> The Rambam in hilchot tshuva (8:1) seems to imply that the punishment for the
> wicked is that they will cease to exist - meaning to me that they will not
> participate in the world to come. If this is so, it seems to me that Pascal's
> wager seems less of a challenge. It would seem that the player could take
> enjoyment in this world and only risk nonexistence (and thus not know what he
> missed out on) and take his chances that reward in the world to come would be
> more pleasurable but he'll never really feel that loss. Since he will never be
> aware of the downside, how would you convince him not to take the immediate
> gain? Perhaps this is the reason that other commentaries read into the Rambam
> elsewhere that he did believe in eternal damnation?
> Thoughts?

Not really directed at your main question, but Pascal's wager is really quite
silly; I find it hard to believe that Pascal himself meant it seriously.

[Pascal's wager is the suggestion that you should believe in God because that's
the optimal bet to make - if there is no God and you believe in him, you haven't
lost much, but if there is a God and you don't believe in him, you have an
infinite loss]

There are (at least) 3 problems with Pascals Wager:

1) Maybe God exists, but values honest atheism above cynically motivated belief?

2) Okay, so its the safe bet to believe in God - which one? Since there are lots
of religions that teach contradictory messages, you're as likely to get in
trouble by making the bet as not

3) Actually, if there is no God but you limit your actions based on the
possibility that God does exist, you have lost everything there is! (And if you
try to argue that this world is finite but the possible reward of belief is
infinite - how do you know that's true? Maybe there is no God, but people get
reincarnated over and over again by some natural process, so if you keep playing
according to Pascal's wager you will in fact give up an unlimited benefit!)



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Russian olim

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#52):
> Prof Levine (MJ 65#50) asked if Israel made a great mistake in allowing
> thousands of halachically problematic Jews to make aliya thus worsening the
> present housing 

What David chooses to call "halachically problematic Jews" are non-Jews with
some biological familial connection to Jews but this has no halachic
significance so they remain non-Jews unless they convert (which the vast
majority are simply not interested in doing)
> My answer is a resounding NO.  Those who came under the law of return are
> mostly "zera Yisrael", with Jewish fathers, who will in any case eventually
> marry Jewish women, ...

Being non-Jews, this will increase intermarriage. The state may register them as
Jewish so, eventually it will be necessary to set up sifrei yuchasim
[genealogical records] to avoid this.

> I agree that the law of return is problematic halachically but IMHO it is a
> moral imperative to grant this privilege to the descendants of those who only
> a few generations ago were persecuted for being Jewish.

Admirable sentiments but, in practice, something has to be done other than
allowing them to be registered (incorrectly) as Jews.

Personally, I think Israel should allow civil marriage as an alternative to
one contracted under one of the recognised religions. But it should be made
clear that the latter do not have to accept that it is marriage as opposed
to civil registration. Also the dissolution of any marriage (civil or religious)
should have to be done under the same auspices as it was contracted.

Martin Stern

From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 6,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Russian olim

In response to David Tzohar (MJ 65#52):

I find it ironic that the Law of Return uses the Nazi definition of a Jew to
determine who is Zera Yisroel!

The Nazis distinguished three levels of Jewishness:

1. Full Jew: anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents. (Also, all
practicing Jews, regardless of heritage).

2. Half Jews: anyone with two Jewish grandparents.

3. Quarter Jews: one Jewish grandparent.


David Tzohar writes about those "who will in any case eventually marry Jewish
women." What about the Israeli men who will marry Russian women who are not
halachically Jewish. Israel and the rest of the world are heading toward two
"Jewish" nations, one that consists of people who we know are halachically
Jewish, and another whose Jewish halachic status is at best doubtful.  The vast
majority of those in the second class will not convert according to halacha.
This is already a problem in Israel and that is why there have been efforts to
water down the halachic requirements for conversion.

Haim Shalom Snyder also wrote about this issue and housing in Israel (MJ 65#52):

> I would also remind Professor Levine that Israel is a democracy, not a
> theocracy. As a result, the Knesset passed a law saying, in effect, that 
> anyone the Nazis would have deemed a target for imprisonment or death as a Jew
> would be accepted as a citizen in the State of Israel. Unfortunately, the 
> chief rabbis of Israel did not choose to continue the process of educating 
> those who came to live in the Jewish land but were not halachically Jewish so 
> that they would join the fold.

As we all know the issue of Mi Hu Yehudi was a hot one years ago. Unfortunately,
the Knesset did not decide to follow halacha on this issue. The result is, as I
wrote above, two "Jewish" nations, one of which is not halachically Jewish.

I am well aware that Israel is not a theocracy. I do not need to be reminded of
this. IMO, it is unfortunate that this democracy is not rooted in Torah Judaism.

R. David Tzohar also wrote;

> Don't worry, we will overcome the housing crisis as we did in the 50's and 
> 60's in the previous century. Maybe the Zionist enterprise is not yet a 
> "paradise" but with SiYYaTTa DiSHMaYYa we are well on our way

I am not so optimistic! What is the basis of his optimism?

I refer both David Tzohar and Haim Snyder to what I consider the excellent
article on this topic at


There they will learn the real reasons why there is a housing shortage in
Israel, and why housing is so expensive.

Kol Tuv,

Yitzchok Levine


End of Volume 65 Issue 53