Volume 8 Number 79
                       Produced: Wed Aug 11 12:23:00 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halacha and Modernity
         [Frank Silbermann]
Kosher in Ontario
         [Gurion Hyman]
References on Bible Criticism
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Restaurants in Washington D.C.
         [Frank Silbermann]
Roles of Men and Women
         [David Charlap]
Shuls in Munich?
         [Steven Cohn]
Spiritual Heights (2)
         [Yoseg Bechhofer, Lawrence J. Teitelman ]


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 16:42:36 -0400
Subject: Halacha and Modernity

In Vol.8 #62 David Kessler writes:

> The social/ economic temptations posed by the Emancipation, (primarily),
> along with the perceived intellectual bankruptcy of traditional religion
> in the face of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment
> (secondarily) came too fast and too strong for any truly successful defense
> of Traditional Judaism.  The result was that Traditional Judaism died
> and Orthodox Judaism, a self-conscious attempt at preserving as much
> of Traditional Judaism as possible, was born.

This is not the way it was explained to me. My impression was that, in
response to the Emancipation, the scientific revolution and the

A) The Reformers fully embraced the new ideas, preserving only as much
   of Traditional Judaism as they felt was consistent with them.

B) Much of the Hassidic and yeshiva world reacted to the new ideas by
   trying to suppress them.

C) Neo-Orthodox Judaism advocated considering the new ideas, but
   accepting them only to the extent they were consistent with
   Judaism, and to participate in secular intellectual life to the
   extent permitted under Halacha (this might mean rejecting those
   Chumrot [stringencies - Ed.] which made this more difficult, but
   accepting difficulties when there was no Halachic alternative).
   This is not the same as "preserving as much of Traditional Judaism
   as possible."

> ... In terms of percentage of the community "saved", was the Chatam Sofer
> in Hungary less successful than his German contemporaries, with their
> alternate visions?  I do not know, but I think that if anything he was more
> successful.

It is difficult to compare. Modernism seems to have most affected
those communities where it arrived earliest (and had more time for its
effects to develop), e.g. Western Europe, and least affected those
communities where it arrived latest (e.g. Eastern Europe).

One difference is that those Jews who embraced secularism in the West
often maintained a fondness and nostalgia for the old traditional ways
they were rapidly forgetting (e.g. many Reform synagogues display
drawings of Hassidim praying or dancing), whereas those who embraced
secularism in the East (e.g. Communists and Labor Zionists) tended to
be openly hostile to Judaism.

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


From: Gurion Hyman <Avi_J._Hyman@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 93 12:03:24 -0400
Subject: Kosher in Ontario

Here is something that my American cousins might find useful (to lobby

It is a provincial (state) law that anything implying (Kosher stamp,
Jewish symbols, etc) that a product MAY be kosher must be certified by
the Vaad Harabbonim (Orthodox) [Rabbinical Council - Ed.] of the
province. In other words, if you falsely call some product kosher and
it's not, you're not only breaking Jewish law, but breaking state law
as well. (Incidentally, the secular state has stepped into divorce as
well, (they won't grant a civil divorce to someone who stands in the
way of their former spouse remarrying (ie. no Gett), but that's a
different subject)).

Now, some of my American cousins are saying, "oh, that's fine for
Canada, they only have a few Jews to regulate." Not so. This law
(combined with a similar one in Quebec) affects several hundred
thousand of us. If we can do it with these numbers, surely any
American community can do it too!

[Two related notes: There have been some similar "kosher" laws passed in
the US. One was recently challenged and struck down, I think. There may
be a fundamental legal difference between the Canadian situation and the
US situation (which my memory is that Dave Sherman may have discussed
some years ago) because the so-called separation of church and state
in the US (the "establishment clause" I think it is called) is much
stronger than the equivalent in Canada. Mod.]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 93 18:26:02 -0400
Subject: References on Bible Criticism

Someone recently asked for references on Orthodox response to
scholarly bible studies. There have been several commentaries which
have addressed the more classical Biblical criticism -- Umberto
Cassuto (available in hebrew and english from Magnes Press, I
believe), David Hoffman (originally in German, some have been
translated into Hebrew), Benno Jacob (recently translated from German,
published by Ktav). The Hertz Chumash also addresses some of these
issues as well. Ibn Ezra and Radak are sometimes utilized in scholarly

More general issues of Orthodox scholarship have been addressed by
Shalom Carmy, in the Torah uMadda Journal #2 -- "To get the better of
words: an apology for yirat shamayim [fear of Heaven - Ed.] in
academic Jewish studies" and by Moshe Bernstein in the Torah uMadda
Journal #3 -- "The Orthodox Jewish Scholar and Jewish Scholarship." In
this article, he mentions that the proceedings of 4th Orthodox forum
meeting are being edited by R. Carmy, to be published as _Modern
Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations_. The
proceedings of the first 2 meetings have already been published by
Jason Aronson (_Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy_ and _Jewish
Tradition and the non-Traditional Jew_), and the 3rd, on the state of
Israel edited by Chaim Waxman, is due to be published soon as well.
Presumably, the 3rd and 4th will also be published by Jason Aronson.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 15:18:31 -0400
Subject: Restaurants in Washington D.C.

A few weeks back there was a discussion about the lack of restaurants
in Washington D.C., and it was claimed that their Vaad HaKashrut
[Kashrut Committee - Ed.] did not want to certify more restaurants
because they disapproved of restaurants in principle.

A local rabbi was very skeptical when I told him this, saying that a
Vaad cannot maintain it's power if it tries to impose a standard that
goes against the will of the community.

Nevertheless, if the story is true, I suggest all those who are
dissatisfied with the Vaad's policy to put bumper stickers on their
cars saying "WE WANT MASHGIACH NOW!!!" :-)

[Mashgiach = supervisor - Ed.]

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


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 14:42:32 -0400
Subject: Roles of Men and Women

In mail-jewish (Vol. 8, No. 72), Lawrence J. Teitelman
<csljt@...> writes:

>Whether or not one accepts the "lomdus" above, the Rambam *does* mandate
>tefilla be-tzibbur. Perhaps some will raise the reasonable objection
>that the Rambam only requires it "kol zeman she-yakhol" -- whenever it
>is possible, and thus a person preoccupied with babysitting or household
>duties is exempt from this requirement. This may be the case, and in
>fact, we have a general rule, "ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva"
>(one engaged in a mitzva is exempt from another mitzva).
>But perhaps Ms. Berger *is* correct in her view that there should be
>little or no distinction between men and women when it comes to
>tefilla be-tzibbur.  Surely, in light of the above information, a
>religiously conscientious woman would whenever possible want to
>participate in tefilla be-tzibbur.

This is very interesting. From what I see here (the halacha of ha-osek
be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva") should make the exemption of women
from "mitzvat asei she-haz'man grama" (time-bounded positive
commandments) redundant.

What is the _real_ reason for this exemption? If, as is commonly
stated, it is so a woman will be able to care for her family, I would
think that the first principle (ha-osek...) should be enough to exempt
women with children from these mitzvot.

But the gemara's statement expands this to all women, including those
not taking care of children. Why? I would have thought that a woman
without family obligations (eg: one who is not yet married, or a widow
whose children have grown and moved out) should be obligated in these
mitzvot. The gemara, however, says that this is not the case.


From: Steven Cohn <Steve_Cohn-CPLS13@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 16:46:18 -0500
Subject: Shuls in Munich?

I have a friend that will be travelling in Germany and is wondering
about the availability of a shul in Munich. Are there any? Thanks for
any info.


From: Yoseg Bechhofer <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 19:36:32 -0400
Subject: Spiritual Heights

    The Rebbe Reb Zushye that Laurence J. Teitelman referred to was
actually one of the early Chassidic Rebbes, a talmid [student - Ed.]
of the Mezritcher Maggid and a brother of the Noam Elimelech.

    It seems that the majority of Interpreters note that the talmudic
scale of measure is when my "Deeds" shall reach the level of the
Patriarchs. This implies that indeed, the sanctity of the Forefathers
and Mothers is beyond us, but that we may perform deeds that in our
generation, are, relative to our circumstances, equal in their
sanctification of God's name.

    It seems too that almost all Misnaggedim and most Chassidim accept
the phenomenon of "Yeridas HaDoros" (the gradual descent in Torah
prowess) as fact, although a rare throwback is occasionally accepted.
Some Chassidic sects (most notably Lubavitch), and Rabbi Norman Lamm
in his book Torah U'Madda [Torah and Science - Ed.] deny this
phenomenon, on grounds which I see as tenuous. One need only to glance
at the Teshuvos of the Chasam Sofer, Reb Yitzchok Elchonon, and Reb
Chaim Ozer, to see how far we have descended in Halacha. Ditto in
other areas.

From: Lawrence J. Teitelman  <csljt@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 93 12:20:54 EDT
Subject: Spiritual Heights

In an earlier posting, I noted two opposing attitudes towards
potential spiritual heights -- those of the Rambam and Reebe Zusia.

The complete Reebe Zusia story appears in Elie Wiesel, _Souls on Fire:
Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters_, Random House, New York, p.
120: "Before Rebbe Zusia died, he said: 'When I shall face the
celestial tribunal, I shall not be asked why I was not Abraham, Jacob,
or Moses. I shall be asked why I was not Rebbe Zusia.'"

Thanks to a friend for pointing me to this source.

Larry Teitelman


End of Volume 8 Issue 79