Volume 8 Number 30

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Thoughts and Concerns from your Moderator
         [Avi Feldblum]


From: <ayf@...> (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 93 21:32:09 EDT
Subject: Thoughts and Concerns from your Moderator

[There are some archive related Administrivia notes at the end of my
hopefully not too rambling thoughts here.]

I'd like to share some thoughts with all about this mailing list. I have
some general concerns about how the mailing lists is evolving, as well
as some specific ones about recent activity.

Baruch Hashem, our list is growing. We now have about 800 subscribers
and I suspect well over a thousand people who read the lists, as I know
there are people who share paper copies, as well as those who may read
via gopher or something like that. That is good news. The problem, if I
may call it that, is that the volume tends to increase with the increase
in number of subscribers. This presents two issues. First, from the
point of view of moderating the list it is getting harder simply in
terms of the amount of time I have to spend on it. Now I could just quit
my job, do this full time, and charge you all $10 a month :-) or find a
mail-jewish "gevir" to support me  :-) [for those who don't recognize
it, a :-) is a smilely face (turn your head on the side) and means I do
not mean for you to take me seriously]. But that would still leave us
with the second problem, none of you will have the time to read all this
stuff. I know it is getting overwhelming for some of you folks.

That is the general issue, it is one I have been thinking about, and
have talked about with some of you during the last year or so. I don't
have any good ideas about it yet. One obvious solution is to divide into
sub-mailing lists, but I don't have any good idea how to define what the
subgroups should be. Another tack I'll discuss after the specific issue.

The specific issue is that there has recently been a higher number of
postings that at least skate the edge of what I view as acceptable for
the mailing list. The idea behind this list, in my mind, is to have a
pleasant environment within which to discuss Jewish and Halakhic topics.
I fully recognize the validity of "milkhamta shel Torah" - "a battle OF
Torah". But in a similar manner to the "kanaut shel Pinchas" - the
"zealousness of Pinchas" that our sages say that it was acceptable only
because it was fully the zealousness for Hashem, to the extent that the
Yerushalmi says that they wanted to put Pinchus in kherem, so too we
must be carefull with our "battles". I will not have shouting matches on
the list. I will also freely admit that I will sometimes let things
through that I should have sent back for rewrite. But if one line in a
posting bothers you, please reread the full posting to see where that
line stands in relation to the whole posting. If you respond to
something in a state of passion, mail it to yourself first, wait an hour
or so and then reread what you wrote before sending it to me.

In the recent discussion about Women's Tefillah groups and the issues
surrounding making and not making Birchat HaTorah, no one has any right
on this list to tell anyone else what to do. That is between each
individual, his or her Rabbi and Hashem. However, at the same time,
anyone has the right to question the logic of any decision. Questioning
the logic of the decision DOES NOT imply that what you are doing is
wrong. What you are DOING falls under practical halakha and is the
domain of your Rabbi, not this list. But from the point of view of
Talmud Torah, of all of us learning Torah together, NO PSAK and no
explanation is sacrosanct. If a Rashi or a Tosafot says something that I
do not understand, my question is why did Rashi say that, where did he
get that from, what is his source? That is part of the Derekh Halimud -
the methodology of learning. In the case of Rashi, we only have each
other (in the sense of all of Klal Yisrael) to ask this of. In the case
of the above discussion, one may only be able to say, one needs to ask
R. Avi Weiss or R. Saul Berman to further elucidate how they arrived at
the decision they did. Since this is doable in this case, I hope to
collect this material and forward it to them to see if they would like
to reply to the issues raised. In the absence of any response from them,
those who do not understand this psak will remain not understanding the
psak, but those who follow the psak are not the ones that are obligated
to explain it. If they can fine, if not, that is what the concept of a
Rov and Posek is, you depend on his understanding of the issue.

It apears to me that at least for a while I will have to act in a more
active manner in my role as Moderator. That may mean that I will send
back more stuff than in the past to the originators of postings that are
near the "edge". I will also look somewhat more closely at all postings
to see that they are of general interest. If you like what someone
wrote, write that person back and tell her/him. You do not need to send
it to the whole mailing list. 

I do not want to prevent or in any way stop people from asking questions
about things they do not know.  Even if you think everybody else surely
knows the answer, and it is a waste for the whole mailing list to see it
and the answer, there are probably others on the list with your same
level of knowledge. I believe that part of what makes this such an
interesting place to "be", and clearly part of what motivates me to put
so much of my time into this, is that we have here a very diverse group
of people, people whom I believe can all learn from one another.

I don't know that I can give you clear rules on when you are engaging in
a "friendly" debate over an issue of Torah and when it crosses the line
to attacking the other person's position. If you have to err, err on the
side of NOT attacking. If I feel that we are in the gray area, I will
either send it back to you, or I will send it first to the one you
responding to, to see if s/he feels like it is an attack on them.

Now that I have your attention :-), for some more mundane Administriva

1) Mail-Jewish Archives on Diskette:

I have put the full mail-jewish archives on diskettes for those that
might wish to purchase them rather than downloading them. For those with
PC's, I have compressed them with pkzip. The archives fill three

Disk1 - 1986-1991, volume2, volume3
Disk2 - volume4, volume5, volume6
Disk3 - volume7, [there is still room here, I think I will add the Rav
	archive here as well]
	If you do not have pkunzip, I can include that on any of the
disks, I think. It is a shareware program, so I do not think that there
is any problem including it.

I also have zoo format and Unix compress (.Z) format available. 

The cost for diskettes to be made and shipped to you will be $5.00 per
diskette for US subscribers. Let me repeat that this is available on our
archives for anonymous ftp transfer and can be gotten via email through
the listserv at nysernet. This offering is for those for whom getting
the approximately 10 Meg via paid diskettes is preferable for them. To
get them, send me a check and give me your mail (not email) address and
tell me what disks you want. For non-US subscribers, if you are
interested, please send me email as I will have to check out the cost of
overseas shipping.

2) 1986-1991 archive files.

I made an error in giving people the correct filenames for the files.
The correct command line to send is:

get mail-jewish/volume1 m.jXX

where XX is 86, 87, 88, 89 90 or 91. REMEMBER: THE ADDRESS TO SEND THESE


If you send it to <mail-jewish@...> or mljewish@nysernet.org - IT
particularly good mood).

You can find out what is in the archives by sending a message to (you
guessed it) - <listserv@...> which says:

index mail-jewish

The reply will tell you what is in the "main" archive directory, and
what subdirectories there are. You can then send a message saying e.g.:

index mail-jewish/volume1

to get a list of what is in the volume1 subdirectory.

A note about how things are archived for listserv email retreival:

The email system will archive large files in pieces. So for example, if
we pick the file m.j91, the index line for that file reads:

m.j91 (8 parts, 65512, 65515, 65529, 65530, 65467, 65470, 65501, 53843
bytes) -- 1991 Issues - One File

If you send the command, get mail-jewish/volume1 m.j91, it will come to
you as 8 mail messages that you have to cut off the headers and then cat
together. If you are using ftp to get the file, you will see both a file
m.j91 and then 8 files that look like m.j911.Z, m.j912.Z etc. You want
to get only the m.j91 file if you are using ftp.

If I have some time available (sure), I will try and clean up the
archive and ftp access areas. If that happens, I will let you know.

3) The Rav Material:

The material is in, and I hope to have it in the archive by midnight
tonight, and get a chance to test it out. It will be in the main Archive
area for those using the email service, i.e. you will see it in an index
mail-jewish command reply, but it is physically (logically?) in a
subdirectory called Rav for those coming in via ftp. More details on

All right, that is enough for tonight. 

Avi Feldblum
Mail-Jewish Moderator
<avi_feldblum@...>    or  ayf@volta.pr.att.com


End of Volume 8 Issue 30