Volume 8 Number 82
                       Produced: Wed Aug 18 18:41:22 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hekshers and Evil Speech
         [Finley Shapiro]
Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Missing Nun in Ashrei (2)
         [Kibi Hofmann, Dr. Moshe J. Bernstein]
Morah Shiur
         [Avrohom Weissman]
Women's obligations: explanations vs basis
         [Bruce Krulwich]


From: Finley Shapiro <Finley_Shapiro@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 08:43:40 -0400
Subject: Hekshers and Evil Speech

A few recent postings discussed the acceptability of a particular
heksher (kosher certification).  Apparently people are being encouraged
to avoid it, both by laymen and rabbis, but the reason is not being
given so as not to spread lashon harah (evil speech) regarding the rabbi
who gives the heksher.  Very often the encouragement to avoid the
heksher is indirect, as in "people are not using products with this
heksher" rather than a ruling "you should not use products with this
heksher," but the effect is pretty much the same.

This brings to my mind the question: Is it really less lashon harah to
make comments such as the one above rather than simply to state "the
problem with this heksher is _____"?  (Fill in whatever you think the
most likely reason is.)  Remember that these are statements about the
rabbi who gives the heksher which are circulated throughout the Jewish
community in his area, and in the case of mail.jewish they are
circulated throughout the world.  What might various people who hear
that there is a problem with the heksher insert in the blank above?
People who know the truth a) will be able to make informed decisions for
themselves, and hopefully b) will not think that there may be far worse

This problem is actually part of a far broader issue.  When is it
permissible to say something that on the surface might be lashon harah
but pursuades people of the falsity of something far worse?  There are
plenty of times when people think badly of someone for some reason, and
the only way to improve their impression is to explain the truth, even
when the truth isn't very good either but better than they thought.

I welcome comments on these questions.

Finley Shapiro


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 08:43:36 -0400
Subject: Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim

>From Arnold Kuzmack

> But I do believe that these problems [of hatred among Jews] stem largely
> from this period.

Sadly, the problem of hatred and divisiveness among Jews seems to be as
old as the Jewish people.  See _Great Schisms in Jewish History_ published
by Ktav, which considers many of these divisions in chronological order.
As for unity as a halachic concern, see R.J.D. Bleich "Parameters and
Limits of Communal Unity" in the J. of Halachah and Contemporary society,
or his article "Orthodoxy and the non-Orthodox" in _Orthodoxy Confronts
Modernity_ ed. by R. J. Sacks (Ktav, 1991).  See also R. H Levin "The non-
Observant Orthodox" (Tradition vol 2 #1); R. J. Lookstein's "Coalitionism
and Seperatism in the American Jewish Community" (Tradition vol 15 #4); R.
J. I. Schochet's response article "Let sins be consumed, not sinners."
(Tradition vol 16 #4).  Also, see R. N. Helfgot's bibliography on Ahavat
Yisrael in _Jewish Tradition and the non-traditional Jew_ ed. R. J.
Schacter, Jason Aronson, 1992. 

> If we choose not to adopt the extra-halakhic view that the traditional
> role distinctions are somehow an unalterable feature of the human
> personality, then the bases of many of the restrictions seem to be rooted
> very much in social and economic conditions at the time they were
> formulated.

How is this an "extra-halachic" view?  Adhering to the takanot and
gezerot of chazal [laws and decrees that were made by the Sages of the
Mishna and Talmud - Mod.] is the very essense of Judaism.  Many of these
gezerot are based on chazal's understanding of human nature, and their
understanding is authoritative.  See the Rambam's introduction to his
Perush Hamishnayot, or R. Z. H.  Chayes _The Student's Guide through the
Talmud_ (once published by Feldheim, but now I believe it is out of

> Consider, for example, "kavod hatsibbur".  Why should the community feel
> its honor has been offended if a woman reads publicly?  At the time this
> principle was first stated, the answer was so obvious the question was
> not even asked.  Today, it is hard to come up with an answer that will
> withstand scrutiny.

We do not have the authority or the understanding to uproot the halachot
of chazal.  Women are prohibited from aliyot in a braita [non-mishnaic
text from period of the mishna quoted in the talmud - Mod.].  The reason
given, kavod hatzibur, is not explained.  Nowhere do chazal indicate
that if we do not understand the reason for a takana or gezera that we
can simply discard it.  In fact, even if we do understand the reason,
and we know that it no longer applies, it is unclear that we may discard

It may be true, that if there was a Sanhedrin today, then they might
have the authority to alter the takanot and gezerot of chazal.  But we
are an infinity away from having such authority.  And to even raise the
question of discarding a din of the tannaim, and its repeated
application in 2000 years of Jewish history since then, because we don't
understand it, makes a mockery of halacha.  I once heard an explanation
of kabalat ol malchut shamayim (the acceptance of the yoke of the
Kingdom of Heaven) -- why didn't chazal simply say "kabalat malchut
shamayim?" Because that implies that one can accept malchut shamayim
when it is convenient, or when it is good.  However, chazal said "ol
malchut shamayim" -- the yoke, the harness of the kingdom of heaven --
which means that one must accept malchut shamayim even when it feels
uncomfortable, when it requires sacrifice.  And one must be m'kabel ol
malchut shamayim every time one recites "shma yisrael;" that is part of
the mitzvah of shma. (see brachot 13a, the first mishna in the second
perek; shulchan aruch, orach chaim 60:5)

Eitan Fiorino


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 93 16:24:50 BST
Subject: Re: Missing Nun in Ashrei

Going back to the mysterious case of the missing Nun in "Ashrei", last
night I stumbled across the "extended" version of R. Akiva Eiger in the
back of my gemara. On the subject of the Nun he cites a Teshuvas
HaRashba Siman 49 which is basically the question I had:-

Q. Why is the posuk in Amos about the fall of {the enemies of} Israel so
important that we must miss out the posuk with a nun in ashrei? What
about all the sad pesukim in Eicha which start with all other letters

A.(from the Rashba) The posuk in Amos is the ONLY ONE which says that
{the enemies of} Israel will fall, NEVER TO RISE AGAIN. It is for this
reason that the sages in Eretz Yisrael tried to reinterpret the verse,
and for this reason that any line beginning with the same letter is
omitted in Ashrei, which is specifically aimed at drawing G-d's goodness
down on us.(i.e. Nun is the only letter which has such a bad rep)

For further details I guess you have to read the Rashba yourself :-)


From: Dr. Moshe J. Bernstein <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1993 11:41:23 +22305714 (EDT)
Subject: Missing Nun in Ashrei

The missing nun question is not so easy; in one of the Qumran
manuscripts (11QPs-a) there is a nun verse which is very similar
(although not quite identical) to the one in the Septuagint.  The
evidence must be evaluated carefully, and part of that verse seems to be
"borrowed" from earlier in ashrei. The Qumran text appears to be
liturgical (there is a response after each line in ashrei) and perhaps
they made it up. BUT we should also not discount the possibility that
there was a nun-verse originally and that it fell out of the masoretic
tradition. The question of the nature of the transmission of biblical
texts is not as simple as we all were trained to believe. (see the brief
discussions among Rabbi Marvin Spiegelman, Rabbi Shalom Carmy and myself
in the education periodical Ten Da'at a few years ago). KEY POINT even
if the Septuagint/Qumran text were original theoretically, Masoretic
tradition determines what we write in our sifrei kodesh [Holy Books -
Mod.] and what we recite in the liturgy. What would be the case if we
knew objectively that the other reading was original might be a
different story.

moshe j. bernstein
yeshiva university


From: <WEISSMAN@...> (Avrohom Weissman)
Date: Mon, 09 Aug 1993 12:43:44 +0200
Subject: Morah Shiur

 Does anyone have a study schedule(morah shiur) for the learning of the
Rambam's Mishna Torah for one perek a day finishing in 3 years??  Mine
has run out.

With Brochas
Avrohom Weissman				
University Of Cape Town, S. Africa


From: Bruce Krulwich <krulwich@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 08:28:23 -0400
Subject: Women's obligations: explanations vs basis

I heard once that the reason we call reasons and explanations of Mitzvos
"taamei ha'mitzvos," literally "the taste of the mitzvos," is that the
reasons and explanations that we have for mitzvos make the mitzvos more
palatable and enjoyable, and motivate involvement in them, but
nonetheless they are not the true nourishment of the mitzvos.  They're
crucial, but not the ikar [fundamental].

Many discussions about the reasons for men and women having different
obligations in halacha have seemed to verge on saying that situations
nowadays (e.g., women not being full-time homemakers, etc) should lead
to a change in the halacha.  The fact is, however, that the halacha is
not derived from the hashkafa [philosophy] about why women are free from
some obligations, but rather from statements in the Torah.  In
particular, the halacha that women are free from obligation in
time-bound positive mitzvos, and the halacha that preference is given to
one who is obligated in a mitzva over one who is not obligated, are both
derived from psukim [verses] in the Torah by the Gemorah in Messeches
Kiddushin, in the vicinity of daf 35.  Most other halachic areas that
have been under discussionn recently are similarly derived from psukim.

Of course, discussing the hashkafic basis for mitzvos is a crucial part
of involvement in Torah.  It's similarly important for everyone (men and
women) to be involved in Torah in ways that are stimulating and lead to
growth.  But I think it's important to keep in mind the basis for the
halachos we're discussing.

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich


End of Volume 8 Issue 82