Volume 8 Number 86
                       Produced: Mon Aug 23 22:05:28 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agendas and Halachah
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Hechshers, Evil Speech, and the Duty to Warn
         [Freda Birnbaum]
Spiritual Heights
         [Turkel Eli]
Tfila Kvasikin
         [Danny Skaist]
Women - Rav's Position
         [Aliza Berger]
Women and mitzvot
         [David Novak]
Women and Tefillah
         [Steven Epstein]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 12:13:13 -0400
Subject: Agendas and Halachah

In v8#84, David Novak wrote (emphasis mine):

> It seems to me that Eitan gives a counter-example to his own
> generalization.  I believe it is fair to say that Rav Moshe's agenda was
> to increase shalom bayit, make it easier for someone to do teshuva, and
>             ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                   ^^^^^^^
> prevent an unnecessary financial loss.  In following this agenda, in
>            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Eitan's words, "Rav Moshe balanced an already existing halachic concept
> against the normative halachah and was able to generate a leniency."
> Indeed, he was able to generate a leniency; in other words, he found a
> way to realize a certain agenda.  So, too, Rav Moshe had an agenda to
> help agunot from the Holocaust to be able to return to a normal life, so
> he "was able to generate a leniency".  This is how the real world of
> halacha works.  We are fortunate indeed when the greatest Rabbis of the
> generation have such agendas.

I believe that David, in trying to disprove my point, has only further
strengthened it.  I agree whole-heartedly that Rav Moshe had the
underlined concepts in mind when he gave his ruling.  I tried to make
this point in my original posting, I guess it was not clear -- all 3 of
those concepts (or in David's language, agendas) are *halachic* inyanim.
This is an appropriate "application of the halachic dialectic." However,
Rav Moshe did *not* have in mind a secularly-defined social agenda.

As for his concluding sentence, I wonder if Rav Moshe's stringent
teshuvot would provoke the same comment, or is it only the kulot?

Eitan Fiorino


From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 16:16 EDT
Subject: Hechshers, Evil Speech, and the Duty to Warn

Finley Shapiro asks, in V8N82,re: Hekshers and Evil Speech:

>[...] 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 _____"?  [...]
>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.

These are excellent questions.

It has always seemed to me that I would rather hear exactly what it is
that somebody thinks is wrong with the hecksher or the product, rather
than either the appeal to the vague authority that "'people' (which
people?) don't use it" or the innuendo, possibly false or mistaken, that
there is something not on the up-and-up about the product or the
hecksher-giver.  If the reasons were given for WHY "people" don't use a
product, we might discover that it is a matter of legitimate differing
interpretations; or we might discover that it is indeed a matter of
questionable kashrus, in which case the duty-to-warn kicks in.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbbirnbaum@...>
"Call on God but row away from the rocks"


From: Turkel Eli <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 08:59:09 -0400
Subject: Spiritual Heights

       The "standard" explanation of "Yeridas HaDoros" is that our
knowledge originates from Sinai. Hence, every generation is further from
the source and so each generation knows a little less than its
predecessor. To me it seems clear that this is not a monotone decline. A
simple look at the Bible indicates that in Biblical days there was a
continuous roller-coaster.  The book of Judges is filled with phrases
that the Jews were good for a time and then sinned and continued the
cycle. Samuel, the last of the judges, was probably the greatest in all
respects. Similarly for the kings of Judea.  I have heard claims that
since the introduction of printing this may no longer be true. i.e. many
gedolim got their knowledge not from a personal rebbe but from books
from much older generations.

       Yosef Bechhofer compares our generation to that of Rav Chaim
Ozer.  Rav Chaim Ozer passed away in the late 1930's which is not that
long ago.  The Hazon Ish is considered one of the greatest Achronim
passed away in the 1950s. I would consider them almost "our generation".
I am not convinced that the responsa of Rav Moshe Feinstein is of a
lower quality than most Acharonim.

      Let me put out that not everyone agrees to the connection between
"Yeridas HaDoros" and Sinai. The Nodah Beyehuda (Rav Yechezkel Landau)
in his famous discussion of the size of measurements (Amot, Ke-zayit
etc.) assumes that physically we are smaller than previous generations
and not just spiritually.

Eli Turkel


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 11:22:36 -0400
Subject: Tfila Kvasikin

>Larry Teitelman
>whenever possible opt for tefilla be-tzibbur, then an appropriate
>counterargument (i.e. an argument for tefilla groups) would be to
>prove on _halakhic grounds_ that having a public role or leadership
>position is more important than tefilla be-tzibbur.

Tefilla be-tzibbur is not the ultimate in prayer. Tfilla "k'vasikin"
[with the sunrise] is preferable [ma'adif] to tefilla be-tzibbur.  I
don't know why that is, but if similar reasoning could be applied to
tefilla-groups it would also prove the point on _halakhic grounds_.

Does anybody know the rationale behind why tfilla "k'vasikin" is
preferable to tefilla be-tzibbur.?



From: <A_BERGER@...> (Aliza Berger)
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1993 8:37:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women - Rav's Position

>  I would like to suggest that the approach of R. Weiss will be judged
>by k'lal yisrael and by history.  Meanwhile, R. Weiss's position is
>making a difference to real women in the real world.
>                                 - David Novak

This reminds me of a statement attributed to Rav J.B. Solovetichik:
He was asked how he reconciled his position that men and women are
metaphysically different with his inaguration of Talmud study for
women at Stern College. He answered, "those are metaphysical women; these
are real women."

Aliza Berger


From: David Novak <novak@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 08:50:48 -0400
Subject: Women and mitzvot

Recently, there has been extensive discussion in mail-jewish about the
nature of the exemption of women from positive mitzvot that have a fixed
time.  It has been strongly suggested, by several writers, that one
should simply accept as a given that all women are exempted; that the
rationale that women are exempted because of home duties is a post-facto
rationale; that we must simply take the status of all women in this
regard as a given and work from there.

If the points stated above are correct, I hope that someone can explain
the status of the "deaf" in halacha.  Women, after all, are not the only
group who are excluded from the obligation of time-bound positive
commandments.  The "deaf" are another such excluded group.  As I
understand it (and I would appreciate seeing whatever references are
available) contemporary psak holds that this exemption only applies to
those who, by reason of their hearing loss, cannot communicate at all.
In other words, the halachic process has seized upon the rationale for
the exemption, and only those individuals who fit the rationale are
exempted from the mitzvot in question.

The real questions that we should ask are: Why is this form of reasoning
not applied to women? Why are we expected to take the position of women
as a given but we are allowed to reason halachically about the position
of the hearing impaired, so that the halachic result changes with the
times?  Isn't it this type of disparity that leaves some women feeling
so uncomfortable that they would rather switch (to a women's tephila
group) than fight?

                                 - David Novak


From: <Steven.J.Epstein@...> (Steven Epstein)
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 18:05:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Women and Tefillah

In the gemara (brachot and eirchin), a number of mitzvot aseh shezman
grama (time-bounded commandments) which woman are commanded to perform,
are listed along with the reason for inclusion. Tefilla (prayer) is
included as a time-bound mitzvah which woman are required to perform
because 'tefilla rachmani ninhu' - prayer is an act of petition.  Hence,
if prayer was just a mechanical action of saying and hearing specific
words at specific times during the day, woman would be absolved from
this commandment like any other mitzvat aseh shehazman grama.  However,
since prayer contains elements of communication with G-d, meditation,
introspection i.e spirituality, woman are also required to pray during
the day.

Based on this reasoning, the place where a woman prays should be the
play which maximizes her spirituality (feeling of closeness to G-d,
ability to concentrate). This place could be alone at home, in a shul,
or in a woman's prayer group, provided that the service follows some
orthodox rabbi's ruling.

I agree with Eitan and Larry that according to the Rambam, it would seem
that it would be best for a woman to daven in a tefillah betzibbur;
however, if a particular woman's feelings of exclusion or the noise
caused by roaming children is so great that she can not feel connected
to G-d then 'yatza schar behefsido', her benefit is consumed by her
loss. I also agree with Smadar Kedar that a woman's role in the secular
world should have no affect on her religious feelings during prayer.

One's spirituality is completely subjective. I believe that a woman,
whose requirement to pray is derived ONLY from the need to maintain a
close relationship with G-d, should judge honestly which place induces
the most spirituality and daven at this place.  Preferably, this place
would be in the context of a tefilla be'tzibbur (communal prayer), but
if not - not.

Steve Epstein


End of Volume 8 Issue 86