Volume 7 Number 70

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Learning in the Bathroom
         [Michael Allen]
Pepsi is still kosher in Eretz Yisrael (2)
         [B Lehman, Yaacov Fenster]
Study of Secular Studies
         [Jeffrey Woolf]
Torah and Secular Knowledge (2)
         [Anthony Fiorino, Hayim Hendeles]
Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old Hashgafa? (2)
         [Uri Meth, Bob Werman]


From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 10:20:25 -0400
Subject: Learning in the Bathroom

>>> From: Barry H. Rodin <brodin@...>

>>> What is the basis for the prohibition of learning Torah in the bathroom?
>>> Is this discussed in the Gemmara?  Is it based on a Biblical verse ?

The basis is a baraita ("external mishna") quoted by a Tanna in front
of R' Nachman, as discussed in Megillah 27b.


From: <BLEHMAN@...> (B Lehman)
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 03:05:21 -0400
Subject: RE: Pepsi is still kosher in Eretz Yisrael

Before this (kashrut) issue becomes a full blown "MJ" item, I'd (humbly)
like to point the right direction for this argument as I see it.

1) The declaration by the "Badatz" (one of the local charedi hechsherim)
  was that they will not give a hechsher due to the mentioned reasons. This 
 is a long shot from the  enclosed news item that Pepsi is not kosher. 

2) Pepsi wants the Badatz hechsher for the love of market share not the love
  God. And as such don't they have to take into account the wants of this
  charedi market ? 

3) The Pepsi contract is a big, income producing one for any hechsher, so the
  shouting of charedi blackmail is less relevant. 

4) Pepsi still has the hechsher of the Israel rabbinate.

      To sum up; "You want us that's fine, but accept our standards".
In other words the direction of this argument is; can an institution
that does not keep jewish values (ie a kosher hotel that desecrates the
Shabat), or, as the Badatz sees Pepsi, the active supporter of negative
(Jewish) values does that validate not giving a hechsher.
   I'd also like to suggest that hechsher for a jewish company
(especially in Jewish Israel) is not the same as the ou in the us or

From: <fenster@...> (Yaacov Fenster)
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 11:45:59 -0400
Subject: RE: Pepsi is still kosher in Eretz Yisrael

The news article is misleading. The bottom line is that the Badatz Eda
Haredit removed their supervision. The "regular" Rabbinate still gives
it's Hecsher.

As the story goes, "Guns and Roses" gave a concert a week and a half ago
on Saturday night. The concert was promoted by Pepsi as a world-wide
agreement.  Afterwards, when it became known that also Michael Jackson
would be coming in on a Saturday night. (Since then they have changed it
to a Monday night).  Couple the perparations for the concert on Saturday
with some slightly provocative advertisments, and add in the symbolism
of "Guns and Roses", you get a mix which the the Badatz refused to

Yaacov Fenster			+(972)-3-9307239
<fenster@...>   Yaacov.Fenster@iso.mts.dec.com DTN 882-3153


From: Jeffrey Woolf <JRWOOLF@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 93 22:10:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Study of Secular Studies

The discussion of Secular Studies is a bit tendentious. It should start
with the statement of Rambam in the Introduction to the Moreh that
Philosophy (which is always preceded by the Liberal Arts) is the true
(or higher ) science of Torah (Hochmat HaTorah Al HaEmet). He confirms
this ruling at the end of the fourth chapter of Hilkhot Yesodai HaTorah
(for which the Ritva says ;'May God forgive him.) For all of this: See I
Twersky, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides, Ch. VI and (mutatis
mutandis) J. Woolf.'Torah UMadda: A Reappraisal,' L'EYLAH (Spring,

                                     Jeff Woolf


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 15:26:21 -0400
Subject: Torah and Secular Knowledge

Morris Podolak and Ben Svetitsky argued against the two gemarot which I
presented as evidence that the idea that studying secular knowledge is
forbidden.  Morris and Ben presented essentially two similar arguments:

1.  The first gemara (brachot 35b--dispute between R. Yishmael and R.
    Shimon b. Yochai if it permissable to work to earn a living) deals
    with work, not study, and is thus irrelevant to the issue.

2.  The second gemara (menachot 99b--R. Yishmael tells his nephew to   
    find a time which is neither day not night to study Greek wisdom)
    deals with Greek wisdom, and we don't know what that is.

I disaggree with their interpretations.  The gemara in brachot is not
about work; it is about bitul Torah.  R. Shimon b. Yochai holds that
_even_ to work for a living is bitul Torah.  I argue that he would hold
that if one isn't permitted to work, then certainly one would not be
permitted to study secular knowledge.  Such study would also be bitul
Torah.  R. Yishmael, on the other hand, is asserting that it is _not_ bitul
Torah to earn a living.  Here he is silent, however, on the issue of
non-Torah learning.

In menachot, we learn R. Yishmael's position on non-Torah knowledge.  His
statement that one must find a time which is neither day nor night to
study Greek wisdom is based on Joshua 1:8 -- "This book of the law shall
not leave from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night." 
Thus, he forbids studying Greek wisdom because he holds that the
obligation to study Torah applies "day and night."  This is independent of
the specific content of Greek wisdom; his opposition is not about heresy,
but is also about bitul Torah.  Thus, it doesn't really matter what Greek
wisdom is, as long as it isn't Torah.

The question was asked, "And didn't you notice, Eitan, that you placed R.
Yishmael squarely on both sides of the question?"  Well, I noticed no such
thing because I did no such thing.  As we have seen, R. Yishmael holds
that it is not bitul Torah to earn a living, but other than this heter
for livelyhood, the obligation to study Torah applies day and night, and
non-Torah studies are _not_ exempted.  R. Shimon b. Yochai, on the other
hand, holds that even earning a living is bitul Torah.

My point was not to debate whether secular studies are permitted.  There
are plenty of sources to illustrate that they are permitted, and perhaps
even required.  I personally find this set of sources quite compelling.  My
point was simply that there are sources as well for the Torah-only
approach, and that such an approach is not a simply a recent innovation,
but in fact represents one of several legitimate Jewish approaches to
secular studies.  I may not agree with that approach for myself, but it is
real and legitimate and thus I must respect it.

Eitan Fiorino

From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 93 08:33:35 -0700
Subject: Re: Torah and Secular Knowledge

	>... Either way, given the
	>apocryphal nature of the story, it is probably unwise to attach
	>too much truth value to it, but instead to take away the
	>message that the Gra loved Torah and he studied secular
	>knowledge too.

	>Eitan Fiorino <fiorino@...>

I certainly have no interest in getting involved in a general debate on
this topic, but I think a few points are in order.

The conclusing sentence is somewhat erroneous in that it implies that
one may subtract from Torah studies to learn secular knowledge.
Certainly, the Gra never ch"v did this - on the contrary, he only
studied secular knowledge at a time when he could not have been studing
Torah anyway.

I am not disputing the importance of secular studies. Certainly it can
be of benefit to an understanding of Torah. But there is a mitzvoh of
studing Torah for its own sake, there is no such mitzvoh of studying
secular knowledge for its own sake. We ought never to forget the
priorities, and equate the two, ch"v.

Furthermore, I would argue, that the term "secular studies" is too broad
a term to be used in the above context.

Certainly, I can understand why some subjects might be considered
important, e.g. science. If G-d created the world using the Torah as a
blueprint, then by studying the world, one can gain a greater
appreciation of G-d's creation, and of the Torah. Well and good.

But the same cannot be said of all secular subjects. I find it difficult
to imagine that one could say the same of most courses offered in a
typical college. One may study some of these courses in order to pursue
a livelihood. I am not disputing that. But I claim that even the Gra,
whom you are using as a role model, would not have deducted from his
washroom time to study some of these subjects.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <umeth@...> (Uri Meth)
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 93 9:54:03 EDT
Subject: Re: Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old Hashgafa?

In v7n65 Jack Reiner poses the question:

> It is my understanding that the Rambam practiced medicine, and Rashi
> grew grapes.  Even eight hundred years ago medicine would require study,
> and certainly both of these great men spent time working in secular
> occupations.  Since I am no scholar, will someone please shed light on
> this?

It is only a recent inovation in Jewish history that the Rabbi of a
cummunity or a Rosh HeYeshiva is supported by the community.  This
practice started with the Maharam MeRottenbuerg who lived, if I am
correct, the the 14th century.  Prior to this, a Rabbi of a community or
a Rosh HaYeshiva supported himself and his institution out of his own

Therefore, Rashi did run a wine business to fund his house of learning
(Bais Rashi) and the Rambam was a doctor.  However, in the Rambam's
case, to be a doctor in his time period, did not require any formal
training.  A person just declared themself a doctor based on their
knowledge and people came to them at "their own risk" so to speak.
Since the Rambam was a doctor by the Sultan of Egypt, the rule was, if
the doctor did not do a good job he was not around for too long.

We also see from the Talmud that great Talmidai Chachomim (Torah
scholars) had to work to support themselves.  Rabbi Yochanan HaSandler,
the sandle maker, this was his livelyhood.  Also from a story in the
Talmud with Raban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua we see that Rabbi Yehoshua
was a blacksmith.  

 From all this it is apparent that 'Secular Knowledge' by the Torah
Scholars of old was required for livelyhood.  They did not study
'Secular Knowledge' as we do today.

Uri Meth                (215) 674-0200 (voice)
SEMCOR, Inc.            (215) 443-0474 (fax)
65 West Street Road     <umeth@...>
Suite C-100 Warminster, PA 18974

From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 93 03:02:09 -0400
Subject: Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old Hashgafa?

Eitan Fiorino, writing on "Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old
Hashgafa?" mentions R.  Baruch of Shklov:

>If I may offer my own commentary on this idea that the Gra only studied
>secular subjects in the bathroom -- it can be interpreted as a subtle spin
>on the Gra's character: since it is well known that he studied secular
>subjects, such a story implies that he considered this a b'diavod
>approach; that it was never permissable to take away from Torah study for
>secular studies unless one can't study Torah.  This understanding of the
>Gra seems stretched since his talmid, R. Baruch of Shklov, quoted the Gra
>as saying "to the degree that one lacks in his knowledge of other
>[branches of] wisdom, he lacks a hundredfold in the wisdom of Torah, for
>wisdom and Torah are intertwined' (quoted in Torah Umadda, R. Norman Lamm).

If my memory does not fail me, this Rav Baruch was the source of
description of Hassidic prayer rites which lead to the Gra's putting the
Hassidim in Herem.  Although I am far from attracted by Hassidic prayer
and daven Ashkenazit regularly, I think calling them idolators was a bit
exaggerated.  I might suggest that such a witness be taken with some

In fact the statement quoted is from the introduction to Baruch's
_EUCLID_ published at the Hague in 1780.  Baruch, btw, was a physician,
it seems.

A work on geography, _ZURAT HA-ARETZ_, published in Shklov (1822) is
also ascribed to the Gra, as are manuscript editions of works on

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


End of Volume 7 Issue 70