Volume 7 Number 66

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Jerusalem One Announcements
         [Zvi Lando]
         [Kevin Taragin]


From: <lando@...> (Zvi Lando)
Date: Mon, 31 May 93 14:14:17 -0400
Subject: Jerusalem One Announcements

The following message is from Zvi Lando, network manager for Jerusalem
One.  Please excuse us if you see this note several times;  future
announcements will only go out to those signed up to the one-announce
list on jerusalem1.datasrv.co.il, but it was deemed important to give
this message wide circulation and there seemed to be some problems with
several lists that it was sent to.


I must say that reading through the hundreds of messages sent to Teddy
was an exciting experiences. We are now, here at the Jerusalem One
Network, processing this information and deciding on how to act on it.

At the same time, we are already speaking to many people here in
Jerusalem and asking their cooperation in managing what I call "Jewish
Services". What I mean by this ambiguous term is the managing of
discussion lists and of setting up a gopher information server, FTP
ability and/or the giving of courses through the internet. Our network
will provide these interested parties with internet access and with all
the training and technical support that they need. Our only demand is
that they run these services in a professional manner.

For those who may not know, Jerusalem is truly the "Jewish Information
Capital" of the world. The list of organizations and academic institutes
here in Jerusalem is so long, it is hard, sometimes, to even know where
to start. To those who were "curious" as to why I had emitted religious
institutes, yishivot, etc. please find them under "academic institutes"
- I can assure you that they will be included. The Jerusalem One Network
will be open to all those who wish to help strengthen the Jewish People.

In order to further these aims, we will start as of now, an
"administrative" list. Please note:

one-announce - a "receive only" list for announcements sent out by the
Jerusalem One Network. All subscribers to this list will receive news
and important announcements about the project.

To subscribe:

mail to:  <listserv@...>
subject: NONE

body of text: sub one-announce firstname lastname

Again, this is a "receive only" list, and members will *not* be able to
post to it. I urge all those who want to be "in the know" to do so. In
the coming days, there will be exciting news available.

My second request is that all those who feel that they have any kind of
service that they can offer to write to me at my jerusalem1 address. As
I expect quite a lot of response :) please allow me a few days to reply.
I wish to note and stress that what I spoke about in the above (access
to internet, support, etc. ) was only for Israelis at this time. We are
now speaking with a number of groups in different countries who we hope
will soon offer the same. It is our belief that through our project,
working as a catalyst, other Jewish organizations and philanthropists
will decide to help their own communities.

Please note that this will be the LAST message sent out to all the
Jewish lists and from now on, we will only be "speaking" through the
"Jerusalem1 List"

Thank-you all for your interest and support !!!!

  *  T h e      J e r u s a l e m      O n e      N e t w o r k   *
  *  Zvi Lando - Network Manager                  ***             *
  *  <lando@...>           *    **             *
  *  Tel: 972-2-964519                             **             *


From: <etzion@...> (Kevin Taragin)
Date: Thu, 27 May 93 06:18:06 -0400
Subject: Shavuot

        Yaron Elad writes: " the rabbis apparently felt that Shavuot
simply being one of the Sheloshah regalim... was not sufficient...  the
rabbis tried to give Shavuot more meaning by assigning it as the date
when the Torah was given at Har Sinai."  I am responding to this
suggestion, not merely in light of the issue's importance, but the
significance of the broader categorical issues generally unchallenged by
Jews raised Orthodox, which puts us at a tremendous disadvantage when
discussing these issues with non- Orthodox etc.
        Chag Hashavuot (a term used only twice in the Torah [Shmot 34:22
and Devarim 16:10]) is not "simply one of the sheloshah regalim," but is
presented in the Torah itself as an agricultural holiday.  Although it
is labeled "chad hakatzir" {the holiday of harvesting {Jerusalem Bible}}
only once [Shmot 23:16], it is always connected to the activity of
"ketzira". {See Shmot 34:22 and Vayikra 23:15- 22}. Thus, the Sforno
[Vayikra 23:10 {?} from memory] portrays Shavuot as a holiday aimed at
thanking Hashem for protecting the crops and allowing a successful
planting season. This explanation accounts for the timing of Shavuot and
the Sefirat Haomer process beforehand.  The Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah
28:3], Sforno [ibid.], Avudram {Laws of Sefirat Haomer, and Mei
Hashiloach [Parshat Emor], based on the verse in Yirmiah [5:24] {which
refers clearly to Shavuot and implies the following idea itself},
describe how the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot are the most crucial
agricultural period.  {See also Rosh Hashana 16} The wrong mixture of
winds or rain can destroy a years' work.
         Those somewhat familiar with Israeli weather patterns are
probably familiar with the term "chamsin," those terrible humid winds
that make it impossible to breath.  The Hebrew speaker immediately
connects the word to "cham" {hot}.  However, the etymology of the word
is in truth Arabic.  It is a cousin of the Hebrew word "chamishim" and
refers to the period of fifty days when this heat can potentially occur.
If you guessed that these fifty days coincide with Sefirat Haomer, you
more than just a gematria fanatic, but also correct.  Some of the
sources listed also use this to explain the "tenufa" {waving in all
directions} of the korban haomer as a symbolic way of asking Hashem to
insure the proper rains and winds.  If this explanations conjures up
images of pagan/Ba'al worship unfriendly to our Jewish ear, you are too
late for the Sforno already makes the connection and seems to view these
ceremonies as a way of redirecting these supplications.
        Chazal, however, assume that Shavuot celebrates/commemorates the
giving of the Torah.  This assumption is not totally unreasonable once
one realizes that the Torah was given within a few days of Shavuot.
(There is a machloket amongst Chazal concerning when the Torah was given
and Shavuot, at least during periods when the calendar was flexible,
could fall anywhere between 6-8 Sivan.  Chazal, themselves, admit,
though, that even the actual giving of the Torah did not fall on
        Another peculiar fact about Shavuot which reminds us of Matan
Torah is the two lambs sacrificed as "Shalmei Tzibbur" {a "shalamim"
type sacrifice paid for by community funds} [Vayikra 23:19].  This is
the singular case of prescribed "shalmei tzibbur," while the voluntary
sacrifices offered by the people during the matan Torah celebration
[Shmot 24:5] is an alluring precedent.  The clearest hint to the "matan
Torah connection", though, may not be what the Torah includes in its
Shavuot description, but what it leaves out.  The Torah attributes to
Pesach and Sukkot both agricultural and historical significance, but
Shavuot as we have seen receives only agricultural implications.  Thus,
Chazals' connection to matan Torah fills a glaring gap.
        Even with all these and the many others "remazim" pointed out by
commentaries, the fact that the Torah makes no clear connection between
Shavuot and "matan Torah" makes any attempt to view this connection as
p'shat, in my opinion, unreasonable. {The connection to matan Torah may
fill a gap, but it is in no way insinuated.  It is also interesting to
note that the dates of matan Torah and Shavuot are never explicitly
mentioned so that we should atleast be able to make the obvious
connection.} It is due to this that many assert that Chazal, after the
churban when these sacrifices could not be offered {or possibly somewhat
afterward when Jews did not control the agriculture of Eretz Yisrael},
created a ne definition for Chag Hashavuot that could be meaningful to
the Jew in galut.
        Such a suggestion assumes that the explanations/significance
Chazal attributed where "new" or in other words unknown beforehand
because they were conceived by Chazal.  This assumption, applied across
the board, is one that we, as Orthodox Jews, cannot accept.  We believe,
as opposed to the "tzedukim" and their ideological descendants , the
"karaites", that "Torah Shebal Peh" {the Oral Torah} was received by
Moses on Har Sinai and transmitted through the ages by the sages 'til
Chazal organized and concretized. {See Avot 1 and elaboration by
Maimonidies in his Introduction to the Mishna and Rav Sherirah Gaon in
his famous letter.}
        This is not the place to attempt to prove whether or not there
must have been an oral tradition.  The proofs that are available, both
from the written Torah itself and other sources are summed up rather
well by Prof. Chanoch Albeck in Chapter Two of his essential work Mavoh
Lamishna {Introduction to the Mishna}. {Here is an example of an
essential question that I think the FFB [frum from birth] community has
not been motivated to investigate.  We take for granted that an oral
Torah was received at Sinai without bothering to reinforce this
assumption with the evidence necessary to convince one who does not
accept it as an article of faith}
        One serious flaw characterizes all the proofs.  Although the
proofs insist on the fact that there must have been an oral tradition
regarding many of the laws, none imply an oral tradition that
encompasses the breadth of Tannaitic and Ammoritic literature.  What is
essentially unclear is how much did Chazal receive and how much did they
formulate on their own.  This is the point where proof can no longer
support, and the belief becomes one of faith. {It is interesting to
note, though, that the Rambam does not include it as one of his
principles of faith?  Any comments??} The authority of halacha is based
on the fact that it {or the principles by which to arrive at it} was
given to us by G-d.
        The question, though, gains strength when we move from halacha
to "aggada."  We have probably all heard the phrase "There is no p'sak
in aggada" {shivim panim l'Torah}.  Thus, one is rarely disturbed by a
later commentary, even in our times who explains a non- halachic verse
differently than Chazal.  Why, then, should the notion that Chazal
attributed an additional, heretofore unknown meaning to Shavuot bother
me?  The fact is that it does and I have attempted to determine over the
past few days whether or not my ill feelings are misplaced.
        I have concluded {temporarily, since I have no external sources
to buttress this conclusion} that although Chazal are not the final word
in aggadic exegesis, that are not simply the transmitters of a halachic
tradition.  Along with the halachot, we receive from Chazal and to a
major extent their successors {Rambam etc.} what our definition as a
people is, what our mitzvot imply, and what our symbols mean.  Whether
Chazal interpret all of the above based on a Sinaitic tradition or
personal creativity I cannot conclude, but to me the question is moot.
Can Judaism retain its meaning if we are free to redefine its basic
meaning {even if we do not touch halacha}.  Obviously there are many
modern Jews who would reply affirmatively, but can we, as Orthodox Jews,
agree? {Would I have a different view had I lived 1500 [?] years ago
before these definitions became accepted as basic?}.
        I know that my assertion leaves a tremendous amount of mist in
its wake.  What does one define as the "basics" of Judaism? {Possible
suggestions- "Jews are inherently bashful, merciful, and charitable,"
the personality of the avot}.  However, the unclarity it generates does
not detract from its' veracity.
        In summation, the assertion that Esav did not have a tail is one
I can accept, but I feel bound to see Shavuot with, atleast, the meaning
attributed to it by Chazal.

Kevin Taragin
Yeshivat Har Etzion


End of Volume 7 Issue 66