Volume 7 Number 64

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hesped Correction
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Kashrut of Penguins
         [Frank Silbermann]
Kiddush Hashem?
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Litmus Test
         [Mike Gerver]
Rav Lichtenstein's Hesped
         [Josh Rapps]
         [Lon Eisenberg]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 11:50:58 -0400
Subject: Hesped Correction

> Eitan mentions that "these were obviously small changes". Was
> that his interpretation or did Rav Shachter state that? I believe that a
> change of this nature to the Seder Hatefilah, particularly with the
> emphasis the Rav placed on Mesorah (tradition) in tefilah, would not
> have been considered trivial by the Rav at all.

That statement was made by Rav Schachter.  I think he was trying to make
the point that when the Rav felt there was a strong halachic argument, he
was open to making changes in spite of a masora to do things another way. 
He made this point in the context of the opening statement of his shiur,
which was that the Rav's emphasis on masora was so strong that it could
almost appear exaggerated at times.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <fs@...> (Frank Silbermann)
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 02:25:29 -0400
Subject: Re: Kashrut of Penguins

Once an elderly local rabbi was trying to explain the basics of kashrut
to a very mixed audience, when a young boy kept interrupting him, asking
whether this animal or that animal was kosher.  Finally the boy asked
whether dinosaurs were kosher.  The rabbi's response:

	"I don't know, but I certainly wouldn't want to shecht one."

Frank Silbermann, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.  cs.tulane.edu


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 24 May 93 15:45:30 -0400
Subject: Kiddush Hashem?

Josh Rapps wrote, regarding the gemara in Sanhedrin as a possible source
for boycotting the parade:

> To translate the Rahn: "In times when the nations of the world see an
> opportunity to render the Torah insignificant to Yisrael we must take
> additional steps to strengthen Torah and to make sure that their desires
> do not come to fruition".  The Rahn uses the term levatel yisrael min
> hatorah. In this context I would add as additional definitions for
> 'levatel' to trivialize, that society is stating that it has moved
> beyond 'the narrow' interpretations of the Torah regarding some Halachic
> issue. Society is trying to tell us 'get with the program'. In society's
> opinion some previously unacceptable behavior is now considered
> acceptable.  Just as society is willing to be progressive, Judaism
> should show flexibility as well.

It still isn't clear to me that the situation discussed in the gemara,
even as understood here by the Ran, is comparable.  Even by the Ran's
understanding, it sounds like there may be an issue of compulsion involved. 
Furthermore, we aren't talking about "the nations of the world" here; we
are talking about fellow Jews.  It wasn't "society" who was telling us who
should walk in the parade; it was a group of Jews.

> My point was that in such situations Kiddush Hashem means we have an
> obligation to draw a line and "just say no". 

Fine.  But who said this was a situation of kiddish hashem?  Especially
given that this was not the case of a regulation being imposed by "the
nations of the world."  If one wants to so freely interpret this gemara,
then what about every non-Orthodox movement?  After all, don't all of them 
attempt to "render the Torah insignificant to Yisrael" from the Orthodox
perspective?  And where does one draw the line at "drawing the line?" 
Couldn't one argue that even carrying on a conversation with an individual
belonging to a non-Orthodox denomination legitimizes their attempts to
"render the Torah insignificant?"

While we are interpreting so freely, what about _all_ of secular culture? 
After all, if we are going to argue that societal influences somehow fall
in the category of "the nations of the world see[ing] an opportunity to
render the Torah insignificant to Yisrael," then one is going to be forced
to object loudly to almost every aspect of American culture.  If this
entity called "society" is forcing all these Jews to give up Torah, then we
must protest.  Many do take this approach.  However, I feel that to argue
that society _compels_ individuals to act in a certain way simply goes too
far in absolving individuals of the responsibility for their actions and
choices.  I think the essential problem here lies in the anthropomorphism:
"society" doesn't tell us things, "society" doesn't have opinions,
"society" doesn't have a will.  One cannot make the concept of "society"
analogous either to an individual pointing a gun at another person, or to
a government passing restrictive decrees against its Jewish population.

So there are two arguments:  if one is going to interpret this gemara as
applying to a situation in which no form of compulsion is being brought
against the Jewish community, but rather "society" is insidiously forcing
Jews to give up Torah, then one is going to have to be consistant and
apply this gemara to a great many situations.  In fact, if one understands
the concept of society in this manner, one is going to have a hard time
justifying living anywhere but in a walled-in ghetto.

If one is not going to understand "society" in this manner, then this
gemara, which is talking about "the nations of the world," no longer
applies to this situation in which the involved groups are Jewish.

Of course, all this leaves aside the question of whether excluding a group
of Jews from the parade in this circumstance is really a kiddush hashem at
all.  While we can all self-righteously congratulate ourselves on this
great victory won for Torah, perhaps we might want to ask ourselves a few
questions -- was a single Jew brought closer to Torah through the actions
of the Orthodox community?  Were any Jews distanced from Torah?  Were any
Jews distanced from medinat yisrael?  Was the very important goal of the
unity of klal yisrael advanced in any way?  Or have we left fellow Jews
more isolated, more alientated, and hurt?  Was the mitzvah of love of Jews
sacrificed for a dubious "kiddush hashem?"  And does klal yisrael now
stand a bit more divided, with differences a bit more entrenched, with the
goal of bringing all Jews close to Torah and mitzvot that much more
remote?  Was there really a victory at all, or have we all lost something?

Eitan Fiorino


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 30 May 1993 3:34:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Litmus Test

Susan Slusky, in v7n45 questions whether serving as a rabbi at a mixed
seating shul is an appropriate "litmus test" for deciding whether an
orthodox rabbi should be taken seriously as a posek, etc. One problem
with using this as a litmus test is that I believe there is, or at one
time was, a heter for taking such a position, if one felt that there
was a chance of eventually getting the shul to have separate seating.
I hope I won't step on anyone's toes by saying this, but I would like
to point out that R. Moshe Twersky, z"l, whose brother R. Yitzhak Twersky
is the Rav's son-in-law, and who was himself a musmach of the Rav, held
such a position for many years in San Jose, California. I don't know if
he took this position based on this particular heter, but I am sure he
would not have done so without some heter. The Rav gave a hesped for him
at shloshim, in 1982, and spoke movingly of the irony of a rav having to
give a hesped for his talmid, when normally it would be the other way

If R. Moshe Twersky thought when he took the position that there was a
chance of getting the shul to adopt separate seating, this was not a very
realistic hope. But I am sure he inspired many members of the shul to
become more observant, including my wife, whose family went there when
she was growing up, and including at least some of the members who later
formed a break-away shul that did have separate seating. Eventually, when
his health failed, he did resign as rabbi of the shul; I do not know
whether or not the mixed seating policy may have also had anything to do
with his leaving. I am grateful that he was still in good health and was
able to be mesader kedushin [officiating rabbi] at our wedding.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <jr@...> (Josh Rapps)
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 02:25:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Rav Lichtenstein's Hesped

Regarding Eli Turkel's summary of the RAv Lichtenstein's hesped: 
the Beis Halevi (Rav ZT'Ls great grandfather) has a similar notion
that our attempts at finding reasons for the mitzvot should not be
taken as the mechayev (requirement) to perform the mitzvah. Rather,
the Beis Halevi points out in Parshat Bo, on the Passuk of Vehegadeta
Levincha, that there are those (a group of reformers as he called them)
that among their approaches to destroying torah is to note that indeed
at one point there was a good reason to do things like the seder and korban
pesach, but now that we are sophisticated and advanced these reasons no
longer apply. And the answer is that the Torah and its various mitzvot 
including for example achilat matzoh on the 15th of Nissan pre-dated
the exodus from Egypt (Histakel beorayta uvari alma - G-D uses the
torah which pre-dated the world as the blue print for constructing the world).
As its noted in Parshat Vayera that Avraham and Lot for that matter
ate Matzot on Pesach, before there was an obligation. The upshot is that
we do the Mitzvot because HAshem commanded us to. Our (often feeble)
attempts to rationalize the mitzvot must not interfere with performing
the mitzvot.

On another topic, the practice in shuls where the congregation takes time
out from talking L'H (anyone know a shul like that?) 
to interfere with the chazan when he repeats certain parts
of chazarat hashatz to Shabbat Mincha, is pure amaratzut (ignorance) 
and the principle of minhag ysirael din (the customs of Israel carry the
weight of an actual requirement) would not apply to this practice.
Kol Mi Sheyesh Beyado Yimcheh (all who have the ability to stop the
tzibbur from this should do so, IMHO). At least the Chazan should wait till
they have finished to repeat what they have said. A similar bad practice
is at the end of an aliyah the cong. chimes in with the Baal Koreh to
conclude the Aliyah. The principle of Tray Kolei Lo mishtamah (multiple
voices saying the same thing interfere with each other and detract from
each other).

josh rapps


From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 93 03:08:46 -0400
Subject: Tekhelet

I was at a wedding yesterday and witnessed a dispute ("leShem Shamaim"
[for the sake of Heaven]) between a beged-ivriy-dressed young man and a
black-suit- dressed young rabbi whom I know (I don't know if the
beged-ivriy-dressed man is a rabbi) about tekhelet.  The young man was
wearing tekhelet and asked the rabbi if a blessing should be made on the
tzitzit with tekhelet, to which he responded "yes"; however, he said
that we don't have the proper mesorah [biblical tradition] for the
source of the tekhelet, so it shouldn't be worn.  The young man pointed
out that it is a mizvah d'oraytah [commandment from the Torah] to wear
the tekhelet, and that about 100 yr. ago, its source was discovered.  He
said that the Hafez Haim wore it!  The rabbi said he may have, but not
all the time (what does that mean?).

I have the following questions:
1. Even if the tekhelet is wrong (not from the correct source), isn't it better
to use it, since it may be correct?  What would be so terrible if it were not
the correct source?  
2. If we don't have the correct source, and since the Torah requires that we
wear tzitzit (one tekhelet) on any 4-cornered garment, wouldn't it be better
to avoid wearing 4-cornered garments?
3. If Judaism is dynamic (which I believe it is), just because in the time of
the Gemorah, there was no source for tekhelet, shouldn't we use what has been
discovered since?


End of Volume 7 Issue 64