Volume 9 Number 2
                       Produced: Fri Sep  3 11:48:31 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Steve Ehrlich]
Bar Kamtza (2)
         [Shaya Karlinsky, Morris Podolak]
Yeridas HaDoros and Lubavitch (3)
         [Kibi Hofmann, Frank Silbermann, Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund]


From: <stevee@...> (Steve Ehrlich)
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 93 14:39 CDT
Subject: Agendas

I find the discussion between my friend David Novak and Anthony Fiorino
one of two extremes. To me it seems quite clear, as David pointed out,
that Pasek Halacah does not operate in some intellectual vacuum on a
theoretical plane. The "halachic dialectic" is used to lay groundwork,
but it is not the only factor in pasek, the needs of people being
considered as well. *However*, it seems also clear that "need" is
different things to different people. Rav Mose Zt'l clearly understood
the case of an Agunah as a "need", as he did with different Mamzerut
cases that came before him.

I think its doubtful though that Rav Moshe would have called women
Tephila groups such a "need". For things like this that are Halachicly
optional and come from outside traditional channels, I think the
evidence indicates he would have ruled against them.  See for instance
his Tseuva regarding Bat Mitzvah ceremonies (Orach Chaim 104) in which
he states that this is an optional function that borders on triviality
and does not constitute a seudat mitzvah. Whether I myself agree with
this is not the point -- I just don't see any hint in his published
works that he would have given much sanction to these groups. Perhaps,
if one had presented the need as a need for women to daven in general,
he might have okayed some things.  (Tehillim?) But I dont think he would
have supported Kriaat HaTorah.

Steve Ehrlich


From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1993 09:51 IST
Subject: Bar Kamtza

There has been discussion about the Gemara in Gittin 56a and what can be
deduced from the "humility" of Rebi Zecharia ben Avkulas in preventing
the Chachomim from either offering the blemished sacrifice or killing
Bar Kamtza.  The latest question from Warren Bursten is an excellent
one, and answering it may throw light on what practical implications
exist in applying "bdieved" solutions to contemporary problems.

Warren asked:
>why, in the case of Bar Kamtza, was there a fear
>that a horaat shaah (a temporary decree) would be misinterpreted,
>while in other cases there was no fear of this happening, or at
>least insufficient fear to refrain from issuing the horaat shaah?

I think the answer is that when a horaat shaah is issued (technically
this is not the proper use of the term "horaat shaah", and it should
more accurately be called a "b'dieved psak," psak due to exceptional
circumstances) it is announced as such, in order that people not
generalize and apply it under normal circumstances.  In the case of Bar
Kamtza, this was not possible.  Bar Kamtza's whole plan was to show the
Ceaser that the Jews had higher standards for Temple sacrifices than at
the non-Jewish Temples, which would get him to destroy the Jewish
Temple.  (See Netzach Yisrael, Ch. 5) If the Chachomim announced that
they were only offering the illegal sacrifice because of the life and
death situation they were placed in, this would have been equivalent to
refusing the sacrifice.  Had they been able to publicize the fact that
this action was being taken only because of the special circumstances
that existed, Rebi Zecharia ben Avkulas would have had no argument with
these actions.

What this would show is that when circumstances dictate a psak which is
a deviation from accepted norms, the fact that it is exceptional must be
made clear.  The danger of people improperly genaralizing only arises
when one tries to play down the unique situtation forcing the "b'dieved"
psak.  For example, a posek could not "stretch" the halacha and issue a
psak based on "hefsed merubeh" without emphasizing this fact.  I think
the attitude of the great Poskim to many controversial contemporary
issues was based on whether they felt they could emphasize the b'dieved
and temporary nature of the needed flexibility in the particular
Halacha; or they were facing a situation where it was being insisted
that since times have changed, the earlier Halachic precedents shouldn't
bind us or are not applicable, and the Psak should be considered
"l'chatchila."  This dialectic would exist in numerous issues, whether
it be the changes that Reform and Conservative wanted to institute, even
though they may not have been clear violations of Halacha; to the more
recent questions of women learning Gemara, women's prayer groups, et al.

One more point, if I may.  I found the the section in Mesilat Yesharim
on the Bar Kamtza story that was quoted by Daniel Wexler relevant to
this question, especially when the motivation for change is "to satisfy
ones spiritual needs."  In the beginning of that chapter, the Mesilat
Yesharim points out that in pursuit of higher levels of piety, a danger
exists that one may avoid good deeds since they appear at first glance
to be bad, while one may commit sins because the actions appear to be
Mitzvot.  One of the three necessary conditions for avoiding this
pitfall is "that ones motivation should be exclusively to satisfy G-d,
and nothing else."  I can't help but feel some discomfort with the
phrase "MY spiritual NEEDS," which could imply the desire to satisfy
ourselves.  We can talk about physical, social or ego needs, which we
each have the innate ability to gauge - and even with these we sometimes
need outside expert advice.  But TRUE spiritual NEEDS emanate from our
being created to serve G-d, fulfill the will of G-d, and because of the
metaphysical nature of these needs, they are known clearly only to G-d.
Through the Torah, both Written and Oral as revealed at Sinai, G-d
showed us how to fill these needs and the way to attain what would
better be termed "spritual growth."  (For a validation of this
statement, as well as partial explanation, see the beginning of the
introduction to Derech Chaim, the Maharl's explanation on Pirkei Avot,
and the introduction to Tiferet Yisrael. If someone wants an elaboration
on what I see in the Maharal, I would be happy to provide it.)  This
point on "spiritual needs" was made by some people, while it was
questioned by others. I think this section of the Messilat Yesharim
supports it.

Shaya Karlinsky

From: Morris Podolak <morris@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 93 04:05:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Bar Kamtza

There have been several postings disagreeing with Eitan Fiorino's
reading of the Kamtza - Bar Kamtza story, but since I have understood it
in a similar way, let me try to defend this point of view.  In the first
place there is no direct criticism of R. Zecharyah.  In the case of
Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai, the Gemara does not hesitate to say point
out that he should have answered differently.  The only problem is what
does the Gemara mean when it says that because of R. Zecharyah's
"anvenut" (usually translated as "modesty") the Beit Hamikdash was
destroyed, etc. I would suggest that in this case it means modesty in
the sense of taking oneself completely out of the equation.  The other
rabbis offered alternative solutions because they foresaw the
consequences, and, because they couldn't remove themselves from the
equation, allowed their concern for their loved ones to influence their
decision.  Every honest person will agree that such "external" concerns,
in the end influence even the most "objective" decision.  Only R.
Zecharyah had enough modesty to render a completely objective decision.
The Gemara's calling him an "anav" is not a criticism, but a praise.
One other point.  As far as I have been able to determine, R. Zecharyah
is not mentioned anywhere else in the Talmud (though I think there is a
reference to one of his statements in the Midrash).  With all due
respect to the Gaon of Vilna's beautiful interpretation (by the way does
anyone have a source for this) it seems that R. Zecharyah was not among
the great halachists.  The reason his opinion was accepted is that it
was clearly the correct one.  Moshe


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 93 06:58:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Yeridas HaDoros and Lubavitch

One thing I didn't understand from Yosef Bechhofer's posting in #89:

>      Some - though by no means all - Chassidim believe that the
> logical extension of this concept leads to the conclusion that each
> Lubavitcher Rebbe in turn is the greatest human being who has ever
> lived until his time.

Doesn't this go against the seventh of the Rambam's Ikarim (principles)
that Moshe was the greatest human being who ever was *and who ever will be*?
(Even Moshiach will not be greater).

[Question: Did the Rambam say "greatest human being" or person with the
highest level of Prophecy? I suspect the latter. Mod.]

This may be the view of some chassidim without official sanction from
their halachic leader(s). If they really do believe this, there ought to
be someone putting them straight about matters.


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 93 17:13:54 -0400
Subject: Yeridas HaDoros and Lubavitch

In vol. 8 #89 Yosef Bechhofer discusses Yeridas HaDoros and Lubavitch:

> My observations are based on a letter written by a Chabad Chosid,
> Tzvi Wilhelm, which is circulated internally in Chabad,
> conversations with knowledgable Chabad Chassidim, and conversations
> at a recent Farbrengen in Chicago with my Uncle, Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet.
>      A basic Chabad tenet is that every Rebbe is the Unifier of the
> Generation ("Yechida Kelalis") with Hashem. He therefore encompasses
> the people of the generation, and, therefore transcends and is greater
> than any other individual. Each Rebbe passes on all the levels and
> perceptions that he attained to the next Rebbe, who is, therefore "the
> replacement plus" (a quote from the present or previous Rebbe, I
> forget which) of his predessesor, i.e., even greater.

When discussing "every Rebbe," does this apply to Chassidic rebbes
in general, or only to Lubavitcher rebbes?  The statement below
suggests the latter.

>      Some - though by no means all - Chassidim believe that the
> logical extension of this concept leads to the conclusion that each
> Lubavitcher Rebbe in turn is the greatest human being who has ever
> lived until his time.

If "every Rebbe" refers only to Lubavitcher rebbes, then when,
historically speaking, did the distinction between Lubavitcher
rebbes vs other rebbes arise?

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

From: sg04%<kesser@...> (Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund)
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 93 11:58:44 -0400
Subject: Yeridas HaDoros and Lubavitch

I thank Yosef Bechhofer for the amplifications on his early comments.
I believe that taken together with my statements they make a clearer
picture. I do not see any major contradictions.

However, I would encourage people to only place their reliance on
publicly stated sichot and maamarim of the Rebbe that have then
later been published by Kehot (after being checked and edited by
the Rebbe) - as appossed to conversations, email, and 3rd hand

Thus, one place to look for concept of the Rebbe in this generation
would be in Sefer HaSichos, 5751, Parshat Shoftim, "Shoftim v'Shotrim..."

P.S. I will also be out of town for a while.

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund		 		  <sgutfreund@...>
GTE Laboratories, Waltham MA			    harvard!bunny!sgutfreund


End of Volume 9 Issue 2