Volume 9 Number 32
                       Produced: Wed Sep 22 18:30:20 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agendas and Women, and Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l
         [Lenny Oppenheimer]
Jewish Children's Fiction.
         [Sari Baschiri]
Maharal's writings in English
         [Simon Streltsov]
Opening/closing oven door on Yom Tov
         [Lorne Brown]
         [Hillel Markowitz]
Women Leaving Orthodoxy
         [Leah S. Reingold]


From: <leo@...> (Lenny Oppenheimer)
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 93 13:35:40 -0400
Subject: Re:  Agendas and Women, and Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l

In response to David Novak's position:

	>Why is the agenda of helping women who are looking for certain
	>forms of expression through prayer subject to such energetic
	>scrutiny?  Are women's prayer groups really so bad compared to
	>other things that go on,

several thoughtful answers have been written.  I fully agree with Hayim
Hendeles that

> Therefore, before making any changes to the accepted practice, we
> must consult our Gedolim. And it is only with their approval that
> we can proceed. 

In my pre-Yamim Noraim readings, however, I came upon a shiur by Rav
Soloveithchik that might shed some light on the issue.  The shiur is
entitled "Tfilla, Vidui, U'Tshuva" , and is published in the book "Divrei
Hashkafa" by the WZO Religious Education Department (1992) p. 118.

In this article Rabbi Soloveitchik shows the special nature of the Selichot
prayers, and how they differ in character, content, and approach from our
normal entreaties to the Almighty.  

In particular, he notes the simple and emotional form that the Selichot
use, as oppsed to the formal rigid form of the regular prayers. The regular
prayers are characterized as follows: (my translation)

	Anyone who has some familiarity with the laws of Prayer and has an
	understanding of the background and philosophy of the "Service of the
	heart", knows that our Halacha is very forceful in requiring strict
	order and formality.  Halacha wishes to avoid anarchy and the
	absence of structure when Man approaches his G-D.  Halacha does not
	for a moment lose sight of the basic principle that the very notion
	of Man approaching G-D in dialouge or beseeching Him with his requests 
	- is an act of brazen impudence.  The Unity and Otherness of G-D is 
	a fundamental axiom of Judaism; How dare insignificant Man, here 
	today and in the grave tomorrow, approach the Almighty King of the 
	King of Kings, The Holy One, Blessed be He?  Does then every simple 
	layman have the right to address the Great & mighty G-D?  ....

	In the Halachic literature we find  approaches to this problem.
	The formal approach is that if the Scriptural verses were not
	written we could not say them ... we have no permission to compose
	new prayers.  Prayer, however, is not the only form of Divine
	Service.  Additional service can be expressed through acts of
	kindness, learning, ....  One must strictly adhere to the
	formalistic Nusach of Prayer, and only slowly to allude to one's
	personal needs... 

	The other needs of Man are expressed through Tehillim...no one has
	ever dared to institute new prayer sessions.  Certain psalms or
	poems, yes, but no change of the basic structure.

Rav Soloveitchik then goes on to show how Selichot are an exception to the
normal prayers in that they do not follow these rules, and were instituted 
for the special needs of these days.

I do not know what Rav Soloveitchik would have said about the women's
tefilla groups.  But this essay makes it clear that he felt any innovation
in the basic structure of Tefilla was against the basic gestalt of what
Tefilla is:  An opportunity to have an audience with the King of Kings,
that had a very specific protocol and procedure.  That procedure has always
required ten males in order to say Kdusha, Kaddish, Borchu, and to publicly
read the Torah.  It would seem that the idea of basing an innovation on
human needs, however sincere, rather than on the limited dispensation we've
been given to address the Almighty with an "act of impudence", is
questionable and deserves all the "great scrutiny" that David ponders.

May we all merit to have our prayers, both the public and formal, and the
private and personal, answered for the ultimate good.

G'Mar Chasima Tova,

Lenny Oppenheimer


From: Sari Baschiri <sari@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 93 15:53:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Jewish Children's Fiction.

I haven't caught up on all my reading, so I've only caught snippits of
the Jewish children's fiction discussion. I wanted to mention, though,
that there is at least one publisher with that specialty, called "Yellow
Brick Road Publishing." I believe it's based here in Jerusalem, though
distribution is primarily in America. They have a lot of creative ideas
and Jewish twists for popular themes, for example a dinosaur book based
on the midrash that there were 6 worlds created before ours (sounds kind
of riske, considering the BaDaTZ kashrut/dinosaur controversy, eh?). I'm
personally interested to hear (read) more about what kind of fiction
people are looking for, and for what age groups.

G'mar chatima tova,
Sari Steinberg Bchiri


From: <simon1@...> (Simon Streltsov)
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 93 15:53:32 -0400
Subject: Maharal's writings in English

The following 2 books may be helpful
(I found at NY public library - to acces their catalog 
telnet to nypl.nyplgate.org, login as nypl, choose 4)

CALL #       *PWZ (Judah Loew) 93-1290
 AUTHOR       Shulman, Yaacov Dovid.
 TITLE        The Maharal of Prague : the story of Rabbi Yehudah Loew / by
                Yaakov Dovid Shulman.
 IMPRINT      New York : CIS, c1992.
 DESCRIPT     237 p. ; 24 cm.
 NOTE         "A dramatized biography"--P. 14.
 SUBJECT      Judah Loew ben Bezalel, ca. 1525-1609.
              Rabbis --Czech Republic --Prague --Biography.

CALL #       *PWZ (Judah Low) 73-1122
 AUTHOR       Thieberger, Friedrich, 1888-1958.
 TITLE        The Great Rabbi Loew of Prague: his life and work and the legend
                of the Golem, with extracts from his writings and a collection
                of the old legends.
 IMPRINT      London, East and West Library, 1954 [i. e. 1955]
 DESCRIPT     177 p. 21 cm.
 SUBJECT      Judah Low ben Bezaleel, d. 1609.


From: Lorne Brown <lorne@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1993 16:30:00 +0000 
Subject: Opening/closing oven door on Yom Tov 

What is the halachic view on opening and closing the door of the
standard electric oven used in most homes on Yom Tov.  This oven is
controlled by a thermistat.

Must the red "pilot" light be on (indicating full current flow to the
element) bofore opening the door? or is it okay to open the door (to
place in food to be warmed or cooked) at any time, irregardless of the
status of the pilot light. What is the "general" practice followed in
your community?

Any information on this would be appreciated.

[Note: The question of gas and electric ovens on Shabbat has been
previously discussed in Volume 4 numbers 12,15,25,34. Mod.]

Lorne Brown, Ottawa, Canada (613)722-9365


From: melech!<hem@...> (Hillel Markowitz)
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 93 12:50:00 -0400
Subject: Timeline

> From: David Kaufmann  <david@...>
> Subject: Re: Date of Destruction of First Beis HaMikdash

> So, does anyone know of an objective discussion of the discrepancy, or
> better yet, a reconciliation? 

The file timeline.tanach on nysernet.org shows a lecture by Rabbi Schwab
which discusses this issue.  Rabbi Schwab states that during the period
of the building of the Second Bais Hamikdash, the numbering according to
creation was suspended.  The timeline shows when Rabbi Schwab dates
event from the creation through the destruction and the equivalent
secular dates.

[Note: the file is found in the directory israel/jewish-info in the anon
ftp directory home on nysernet. Mod]

Hillel Markowitz       <H_Markowitz@...>


From: <leah@...> (Leah S. Reingold)
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 93 12:50:08 -0400
Subject: Women Leaving Orthodoxy

In response to Eitan Fiorino's discussion of my statement about women
leaving Orthodoxy, the point of my argument is not to "strong-arm"
anyone.  Rather, if educated women begin to leave Orthodoxy at an
alarming rate, then Orthodoxy will suffer.  Period.  It's not a threat;
it's a fact.  Orthodoxy simply cannot afford to lose half of its
educated members without severe negative repercussions.  Furthermore,
this argument was used, essentially, by the Chofetz Chaim, in his
argument for Jewish education for women.  No one would have claimed that
he was "strong-arming" the Jewish community.

The suggestion that such women ought to join other movements is hardly
appropriate.  Presumably these women are strongly affiliated with
halakhic Judaism, and wish to remain that way.  (The suggestion further
presumes that any given Jew could be described accurately by a given
"movement," a hypothosis with which I disagree.)  Non-Orthodox Jewish
movements are not necessarily woman-positive, and require one to embrace
all sorts of other beliefs.  Orthodox Judaism should be delighted that
frustrated women within its ranks are trying to work within the system
instead of throwing the baby out with the proverbial bathwater.

But the main point is that the growing exodus of educated women from
Orthodoxy, while perhaps not the major problem, is a symptom of one much
more important, i.e. that of the newly inferior status of women in

Until recently, Jewish women have fared far better than our gentile
sisters.  In Christian feudal Europe, for example, wife-beating was
well-accepted among non-Jews, but strongly discouraged among Jews.  In
ancient times, women could be bartered like goods among non-Jewish
tribes; Jews had strict marriage and divorce laws.  In the Torah, the
case of Zelophchad's daughters illustrates my point: Moshe received
divine instruction for women to have property rights, a concept almost
unheard of in that time.

This feminist trend, supported by every Jewish source, ought to continue
into our present age.  All of a sudden, traditional Jewish society,
rather than being ahead of its time in its treatment of women, has
fallen behind.

It is an anachronism that women have no official voice in halakhic
Judaism.  We return again to the semicha argument.  Until women have a
legitimate say in what is and is not the Jewish law, there will be no
hope for equality.  Secular western society has recognized that women
deserve a law-making voice for several decades now.  It is time for
Jewish society to reclaim its tradition of being on the forefront of
women's rights.

I should add here that in the semicha argument, several people have said
that "people shouldn't learn to get semicha."  I agree entirely.  The
women on whom we should bestow Orthodox semicha certainly would never
seek it for themselves.  The problem lies in the failure of the REST of
the Orthodox world to see that these women ought to have the elevated
status of poskim or even gedolim, by virtue of their education and

The truth is that in the real world, "status" is roughly equivalent to
public status.  If all were equal, it might be a legitimate argument to
state that women have fully equal status--but it is private.  This
argument does not hold water, however, given the facts of both Jewish
and non-Jewish society.

If Orthodoxy were to adapt to give women more religious status, it could
have only positive results.  The only conceivable negative impact would
be that various men might lose status if women became more educated or
stronger leaders.  If this is what men fear, then perhaps the women are
better off leaving Orthodoxy in the first place.

 -Leah S. Reingold


End of Volume 9 Issue 32