Volume 7 Number 45

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Litmus Test
         [Susan Slusky]
Salue to Israel Parade
         [Janice Gelb]
Specific criticisms of YU
         [Frank Silbermann]
The Rov and YU, A Response:
         [Bob Werman]
         [Danny Wolf]
Yom Iyun in memory of The Rav ZTL
         [Anthony Waller]


From: <segs@...> (Susan Slusky)
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 10:03:09 EDT
Subject: Litmus Test

I am disturbed by Yehoshua Steinberg's recent posting about a Teaneck
rabbi. He says (I summarize) that this rabbi officiates at a synagogue
that allows mixed seating and microphone use on Shabbat and therefore
none of his opinions can ever be taken to be halachically sound.
(apologies to Yehoshua if I've changed your meaning. Please correct me
if I have.)

The implication is that unless you agree with me on these important
litmus test issues, your opinions on all other issues are invalid.  It
is not inconceivable to me that there should be such litmus test issues
(Torah min HaShamayim perhaps?) but these particular issues do not seem
to be at such a level. Mixed seating in Orthodox synagogues was common
in this country in the middle of this century, and microphone use on
Shabbat has at least been discussed for years. Why are these two issues
being advanced as litmus test issues?

[Just to avoid a flood of responses on the above issue, I know of no
halakhic source to permit mixed seating, so please do not send in
replies saying mixed seating is forbidden. If this was just an area that
early American synagogues were lax in shlo k'halakha (without halakhic
basis), I think we can leave it at that. If anyone has solid information
about this, or references to halakhic literature on this, then feel free
to respond to this point. Mod.]

My inferrence is that they have achieved this status because they are
means by which Orthodox synagogues most visibly distinguish themselves
from Conservative synagogues. However, this to me is
artificial/superficial. Neither Orthodoxy nor Conservativism is
flattered by the suggestion that these are the only issues separating
the two.

I would suggest that the validity of a rabbi's decisions be examined
one by one, or, failing that, that a general opion be formed on the
basis of more substantive issues.

Susan Slusky


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 12:51:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Salue to Israel Parade

In mail.jewish Vol. 7 #32 Digest, Mike Berkowitz says:

>On consulting a friend who is a professor at an Ivy-League university, I 
>am informed that the current Politically Correct opinion is that 
>homosexuality is not biologically determined but rather a conscious 
>choice of the individual.  (The reasoning behind this is so that no one 
>can look upon a homosexual's hormones as somehow "inferior".)  Of course 
>none of this has anything to do with science or truth, since in today's 
>academic climate you couldn't even get a grant to study such a sensitive 
>matter for fear of turning up the "wrong" anwser.

As someone who has Orthodox friends who are homosexual and who suffer 
agonies and suicidal impulses due to this orientation, I can pretty 
safely say that while perhaps some people may choose homosexuality, 
for the vast majority of gays it is something inherent and not a 
matter of choice.

>As to the gays' motivation for marching under their own banner, well, Ms. 
>Gelb's attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt is laudable, but 
>even being melamed zchus can be overdone.

Several people have contended that the gay synagogue was marching
solely to draw attention to the cause of gay rights rather than in
support of Israel, but no one has posted any proof to support this
claim.  I think it makes a material difference whether the gay
synagogue from the very first made a big issue of announcing they were
going to march to advance civil rights, or whether they quietly applied
to march as any other group does and then someone found out and made a
point of contention out of it.

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 11:29:59 CDT
Subject:  Specific criticisms of YU

In discussions of "inappropriate" activities at Yeshivah University the
specific examples given were: competitive athletics and YU students
socializing with girls from Stern College.  (I am sure such socializing
is permitted with the intent that the boys should have a chance to meet
and marry observant Jewish girls.)

I have no doubts that these activities might be considered both
unyeshivish and unhassidish.  This is separate from the question as to
whether they are consistant with Orthodoxy in general (both Hassidism
and the Yeshivah movement are relatively recent developments -- a couple
of hundred years old, maybe).  What are the Halachic issues wrt these

On a side issue, the AAU (American Association of University Professors)
has listed a number of colleges with which they have outstanding
complaints (usually about tenure or academic freedom).  YU is among
those listed.  This is not a paticularly Jewish issue, so it may not be
appropriate for the mailing list, but could somebody please satisfy my
curiosity and E-mail me a summary of the issue?

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 07:30:38 -0400
Subject: re: The Rov and YU, A Response:

Yosef Bechhofer writes,

>               The Rov clearly did not read the walls behind him at that
>juncture in his life. And, perhaps it is the "very premise" which is
>indeed objectionable, if this is the way it must be manifested.

My neighbor, olav ha-shalom, who was a bocher when Rav Kook was Chief
Rabbi of Palestine, related to me how they came to tell Rav Kook that
the "Zionists" had started to operate the buses in Jerusalem before the
Shabbat ended.

My neighbor, 50 years after the event, was still confused by the Rav's
refusal to "SEE" what the Zionists were doing, which in effect was a
refusal to look, very much like the not reading the walls behind him
described by Yosef.

These were two great men who went very different ways in Yiddishkeit and
yet share some interesting properties, including pro-Zionism and a
spirit of kiruv ha-nefashot [bringing people closer to Yiddishkeit].

Perhaps selective vision is an important attribute of spiritual
greatness.  I would appreciate hearing other views on this point.

Depending on the importance of these values -- Zionism and kiruv
nefashot -- to the listener, I imagine the same findings are either very
much positive or very much negative.

Thus, when I relate a new discovery to a Hiloni [non-religious person],
he/she tells me that it proves there is no God.  When I tell the same
thing to a believer, she/he tells me how it proves there is a God.

Similarly, I believe that we will not convince one another about the
greatness of a given Rav unless we first agree about the correctness of
his views concerning the hiloni'im [non-religious] and the State of
Israel.  These are, after all, two major issues of our day.  Whether or
not we like it.

__Bob Werman    <rwerman@...>    rwerman@vms.huji.ac.il


From: <etzion@...> (Danny Wolf)
Date: Fri, 14 May 93 08:56:48 -0400
Subject: Tum'ah

I actually have pondered this issue often (Tum'ah in modern times) and
have some practical solutions to some issues that were raised:

Not all utensils can be made tamei -- only those mentioned in the Torah.
Therefore plastic and perhaps even some metals (not of the seven
mentioned in the Torah [see Rashi on Rosh Hashanah 18b]) including
aluminum, might be exempted (Rav Feinstein z"l discusses this in a
responsum about airplanes).

Food that has not been in contact with water under specific
circumstances is also tahor.

Small quantities of food do not receive tum'ah according to certain
authorities (see Rashi, Tosafot and Ramban on Shabbos 91a).  They
certainly don't make other object tamei.

Flat ceramic or wood plates are also tahor.  The exceptions and rules
are numerous, but I do think there are solutions and I wonder how
difficult these observances might be in comparison to Kashrus.

There might be ways to construct a mikveh in every house, although that
is a very complex issue, but I think it can be done without rainwater
drains and in regular bathtubs.  Sometimes I wonder whether I am a
little crazy for wondering about issues like this, or am I merely very
curious?  I guess both.

Danny Wolf
Yeshivat Har Etzion


From: Anthony Waller <P85014@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 93 09:26:34 IDT
Subject: Yom Iyun in memory of The Rav ZTL

The RCA - Israel Region is Holding A "Yom Iyun" in memory of The Rav
ZT"L at Hechal Shlomo in Yerushalaim on Thursday May 20, 29 Iyar.

General Chairman: Rabbi Moshe Furst
Co-Chairman: Rabbi Yaakov Gordon - Opening Remarks

First Session:   4:30 - 6:30

Chairman: Rabbi Binyamin Walfish
Speakers - Rabbi Louis Bernstein   "The Rav and The State of Israel"
           Rabbi Moshe S. Gorelik  "The Rav as Leader"
Closing Remarks: Rabbi Emanuel Holzer

Second Session:  8:30 - 10:30

Chairman: Rabbi Mendel Lewittes
Speakers - Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein "The Philosophical Thought of
                                      The Rav"
           Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz    "The Rav's Approach to Torah"
Closing Remarks: Rabbi Moshe Gorelik

All sessions will be in English except for Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz.

Anthony Waller                     Internet:  <p85014@...>
Bar-Ilan University                Bitnet:    p85014@barilvm


End of Volume 7 Issue 45