Volume 9 Number 15
                       Produced: Wed Sep  8 21:24:22 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Judaism and Fiction
         [Bob Werman]
Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster (3)
         [Avrhom Hillel Weissman, Kibi Hofmann, Elhanan Adler]
Lubavitch and Yeridas HaDoros
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Rashi's daughters
         [Rivkah Isseroff]


From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 93 06:21:54 -0400
Subject: Judaism and Fiction

Norman Miller, my friend, writes:

>By Jewish literature I mean of course something more than a book in
>which Jewish characters appear....

>So we need a better definition of what we're talking about.  And
>we need a theory as to why Judaism and the literary imagination
>don't mesh well.

Although it is easy to accept Norman's insight that a Jewish environment
doesn't make a Jewish book, we are still left with a great unknown
quantity, what is JUDAISM or what is JEWISH.  There is hardly general
agreement on those qualities, other than the religious element.
Everyone seems to agree that the Jewish or Hebrew or Mosaic or Rabbinic
-- whatever your prefered appellation might be -- religion is special
and different.

But religion of any kind has not been a particularly favorable medium
for literature, filling as it does many of the needs of religion.  And
this is true of the other great religions of the world.

When we look at Bialik's ha-Masmid and Grade's recollection of the
yeshiva world of Lita, we see the world from the eyes of those who have
been disappointed and left.

I feel that Norman is overstating the case when he says that the
literary imagination and Judaism do no mesh.  The true literary
imagination is usually informed by internal more than external clues;
the external provides the clothes and ambience of the literary work but
not its essence.

A gut yawr tzu allen.

__Bob Werman    <rwerman@...>    rwerman@vms.huji.ac.il


From: <WEISSMAN@...> (Avrhom Hillel Weissman)
Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1993 09:22:20 +0200
Subject: re: Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster

Any one who would say a person was killed for not having kosher mezuzah is 
just plain cruel.  If a person goes into battle and wears a bullet proof 
vest and a bullet strikes his vest and another person goes out with out a 
bullet proof vest, if he is killed by a bullet, does that mean he was 
killed for not wearing a bullet proof vest. The Torah promises extra 
protection with a kosher mezuzah. A kosher Mezuzah may save lives. It is 
wrong to say the opposite.

Casivah VaChasim Tovah
Avrhom Hillel Weissman
Cape Town

From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 93 13:06:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster

Frank Silberman writes in 9#9 :

> Also, I have been told that Rv. Shach (leader of the non-Hassidic Haredi
> world) claims to have determined the sins for which G-d brought forth
> the Holocaust.  Another has claimed that women were brought to the gas
> chambers naked and with shaven heads as punishment for Shneus
> violations.

> What is the Torah basis for making such connections?  What principles
> are applied in determining such a causation?  I suppose "measure for
> measure" is one of them.  Elhanan Adler mentioned another principle:
> "It's always the other guy's fault."  Are there any others?

I think "measure for measure" is the main yardstick used when trying to
determine which sins caused which punishments. However, discussions like
this always remind me of what my father says to me about this (he is a
teacher and his pupils in school often ask questions about the Holocaust
which he usually puts off with answers like "Well, we can't always
understand why G-d does things we don't like....". However, since he
came out of Germany in 1939 it would be silly to think that he hadn't
thought more deeply about the matter than that). Although there are
pesukim which say that each man dies for his own sin etc... we don't
usually go up to a grieving widow or orphan and say "Well, he had it
coming to him - he was a sinner you know".

We live in a time where there are still many people alive who lost close
family members to the Nazis and, no matter how true the particular
claims about the the reasons for it may be, the majority of people are
probably not "ready" to hear them. Perhaps with the perspective of
history it will be blindingly obvious to us why these terrible things
happened, but for now it seems the only thing to be gained from such
speculation is the the distancing of the "finger pointers" from the


From: <ELHANAN@...> (Elhanan Adler)
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 93 01:12:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster

Simon Schwartz said:

>I have another reason for being uncomfortable.  Using "protection" as a
>justification for mezuzot might give them the status (or appearance) of
>being amulets.  Two consequences would be that Jews lose sight of the
>fact that G-d, not the mezuzah, protects them; and that observant Jews
>appear to be following superstitious practices, a chillul haShem.

Indeed, the Rambam is vehement on this point (hilkhot mezuzah, 5/4,
Hyamson translation):

"They, however, who write names of angels, holy names, a Biblical text or
inscriptions usual on seals, within the mezuzah, are among those who have no
portion in the world to come. For these fools (tipshim) not only fail to
fulfill the commandment but they treat an important precept that expresses the
unity of G-d, the love of Him, and His worship, as if it were an amulet to
promote their personal interests; for according to their foolish minds the
mezuzah is something that will secure for them advantage in the vanities of the

* Elhanan Adler                   University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel          *
* Israeli U. DECNET:      HAIFAL::ELHANAN                                  *
* Internet/ILAN:          <ELHANAN@...>                          *


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 93 03:26:58 -0400
Subject: Lubavitch and Yeridas HaDoros

Kibi Hoffman writes: 
>>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).

The Moderator correctly pointed out  that  this  is  not  exactly 
the Rambam's view, in  fact  in  one  place  (Teshuva  9:3,  if  I 
recall correctly), the Rambam states that  in  certain  aspects 
Moshiach  is greater than Moshe Rabbeinu. (Although from the fact that
this is  not brought down in Hilchos Melachim with other  Halachos  of
Moshiach  I believe it is clear that he does not hold that this  is 
imperative  - the proof being that Rabbi  Akiva  thought  that  even 
Bar  Kochba  - certainly not greater in wisdom and sanctity than Rabbi
Akiva  himself - might have been Moshiach.

>>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.

I am not a sufficient expert in what comes from whom, but it
certainly originates in the highest echelons.

Frank Silbermann writes: 
>>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.

It certainly, from the Lubavitch  viewpoint,  only  applies  to 
their Rebbes, to whom all others are subordinate.

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

They claim that this distinction began with the Ba'al  Shem  Tov, 
who picked it up from a line that had previously  been  interrupted 
since the time of the Nesi'im, continued through his student, the
Mezritcher Maggid,  then  to  the  Ba'al  HaTanya,  and   subsequently
to   his descendants, the following Rebbes.


From: Rivkah Isseroff <rrisseroff@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 93 01:39:24 -0400
Subject: Rashi's daughters

A recent conversation on the subject of Rashi's daughters elicited the
comment that there is no real reference to the (?commonly held)
understanding that these women were, themselves, scholars.  If this is
truly the case, can anyome elucidate how this assumption been perpetuated?

Rivkah Isseroff
University of California, Davis


End of Volume 9 Issue 15