Volume 9 Number 58
                       Produced: Wed Oct 20 18:33:31 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Meimad and the Peace Agreement:
         [Yaacov Fenster]
Minhag source materials
         [Michael Frankel]
Simchat Torah
         [Ezra Tanenbaum]
The Force of Tradition
         [Ezra Tanenbaum]
Three Questions
         [Morris Podolak]


From: Yaacov Fenster <fenster@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 93 04:34:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Meimad and the Peace Agreement:

> In the middle of reading the discussions of the peace agreement in
> mail.jewish, I wondered if anyone knew what Meimad's position was.
> (Meimad is the political movement headed by Rav Amital Shlita of Har
> Etzion Yeshiva, with a liberal view towards land for peace). BTW, does
> Meimad still exist, and what influence does it have on the religious
> community?

Meimad was re-formed about 6 (?) months ago as a idealistic
non-political movement. If you want to contact them, they can be reached

Meimad Movement
25 Keren Kayemet Leyisrael (K.K.L)
Jerusalem 92 428
Tel: +972 (2) 612240
Tel: +972 (2) 612340

It's stand was formulated in the 4 points (reading from their official
publication in Hebrew, and transalating):

  Meimad expresses it's support in principle of the steps taken by the
government even though they have possible dangers, and sees in them a
chance for peace and a cessation of the bloodshed of generations. This
while guarding/keeping the Jewish settling of the Land of Israel, the
security of the state and it's citizens, and a united Jerusalem under
Israeli sovereignty.

  Meimad is convinced that in the framework of the detailed negotiations
which will take place between Israel and the palestinians, care and
judgement must be exercised while assuring the continued existence,
security and basing the existing Jewish settlement in Judea, Sameria and
the Gaza strip, and it will work together with the prime minister and
other parts of the government to further this purpose.

  Meimad denounces any expression of physical or verbal violence from
any side, including calls and the use of expressions which oppose
(against the line of) Torah and Judaism.

  Meimad calls on all those for whom the future of the Jewish people is
important to them to make every effort to prevent polarization and the
danger of a civil war H"V.  Whatever the stands wrt the peace process,
an un-moderated internal struggle might endanger the existence of the
third house (Temple).

 Yaacov Fenster			+972 (3) 9307239
 <fenster@...>   Yaacov.Fenster@iso.mts.dec.com DTN 882-3153


From: FRANKEL%AM%DNAHQ5%HQDNA%<DNAHQ5@...> (Michael Frankel)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1993 17:15:40 EST
Subject: Minhag source materials

Hi - as a new subscriber, I have been following the m-j discourses from a
distance courtesy of my wife Sheila's subscription, and am a bit nervous about
this first intrusion into your electronic ether.

[Welcome and thanks for this very nice submission. I actually have 2 of
three of the sources you recommend. Mod]

Re Joel Wein's request (Vol. 9 # 44) for source materials/books/articles
on minhagim I would suggest he look at the following three books, all
published by Mossad HaRav Kook:

1) Minhagei Yisrael; Mekorot VeToldot (Vols 1 and 2) by Daniel Sperber
This is a wonderful source of minhag lore, including Chazal and later
autorities generalized views on the "Samchut" (authority?) of minhag,
the subject of "minhag taoot" (false or mistaken minhagim), the sources
and historical evolution of many individual minhagim including many
current Tefila forms (e.g. identification of many practices as being the
result of attempts to compromise earlier conflicting opinions, the
influence of Chasidei Ashkenaz and their love of Gematria, etc. etc.)
The footnotes are also a valuable resource.

[This book was also pointed to by Ari Z. Zivotofsky (<azz@...>),
and I was going to mention as well, as my father and Dr. Sperber are
good friends and he gave me a copy of the books. Mod.]

2) Halachot VeHalichot BaChasidut by Rav Dr. Aaron Wertheim 
This is an excellent work which provides, along with a good, general,
and brief overview of Chasidism and its beliefs (Intro and 1st chapter),
a background for many of the "new" minhagim introduced by the Chasidim
(e.g. the Nusach of the Tefila, no-Tefilin on Chol Hamoed, no-eating in
Succah on Shmini Atzeret, Matza Shemura customs, Sefirat Haomer, Melava
Malka, Hakafot, Chasidic dancing, the great Esrog controversies, etc.
etc.) While there is no attempt to be encyclopedic, a very large number
of minhagim and their sources are provided and it makes for interesting
reading (R. Wertheim's main thrust seems to be focussed on demonstrating
that many of the Chasidic "innovations" are anything but, and are
instead solidly rooted in ancient practices and earlier poskim, though
not fashionable in the then (and now) Litvishe dominated societies).

3) Toldot Chag Simchat Torah by Avraham Yaari
Though specialized to Simchat Torah, there are so many minhagim
associated with Simchat Torah (it is after all the only holiday which is
"Kooloa Minhag" (entirely a minhag) - Chazal in Eretz Yisrael practicing
a triennial Torah cycle would have no need for such a yearly
celebration) that there is a wealth of minhag material to mine here.
Yaari provides the historical development (and disappearance) of many of
the Simchat Torah customs, including some that seem to violate
non-disputed Talmudic halachos (e.g. related to the Simchas Torah/Shmini
Atzeret maftir portion). The origin of the different Chasanim, the Torah
readings, selling of shul honors, etc. are all developed. (My favorite
is the discussion of the Hakafot as we have it today, it seems to have
all been a big mistake (at least the timing of which night to perform
them) based on a faulty transmission of the minhag of the Ari HaKadosh
by way of the highly influential sefer Chemdas Hayamim (source of many
Chasidic customs and of anaonymous but controversial authorship). By the
time the real Minhag Ari got published (as recorded by R. Chaim Vitale
in Shaar HaKavanot) there was no changing back.) [Based on my reading of
that section, which I agree was one of my favorites as well, we do not
know what the Ari's custom was in regards to having hakafot during the
day or not, but clearly the night hakafot were after Yom Tov was over.
By the time R. Chaim Vitale recorded the custom, he clearly had hakafot
during the day as well. For another good line, look at the end of the
section of the honors that were sold in the women section, in
particular, and think whether today anyone would volunteer, never mind
pay, to do these activities. But definitly a great book. Mod]

Besides these books there are various essays and introductions to
minhagim recorded in classical minhagim collections. e.g. R. Isaac
Tirana's Sefer Haminhagim, in an introductory note cites the Talmudic
dictum (both Bavli and Yerushalmi (with minor language change)) that
"Minhag Oakair Halacha" (Minhag uproots the Halacha). There are also
other medieval collections emanating from "Bai Rashi" (House (students,
descendents) of Rashi) and from Ashkenaz (e.g. R.  Klausner's collection
of minhagim) which I don't have immediately to hand but which probably
have source material relevant to your interest.

Mechy Frankel                                H: (301) 593-3949
<frankel@...>                         W: (703) 325-1277


From: <bob@...> (Ezra Tanenbaum)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 93 16:41:58 -0400
Subject: Simchat Torah

Simple question: when in history did Simchat Torah begin ?  I.e. when
did the institution of a yearly cycle of reading the Torah begin? When
did this cycle first become attached to the last day of Shmini Atzeret?
And when did the completion and restarting of the cycle become a day of

Are there any references in the Gemorra to Simchat Torah? or did it
first start with the Gaonim? or later?

[See reference book mentioned earlier in this issue by Mechy Frankel.

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum	1016 Central Ave	Highland Park, NJ 08904
home: (908)819-7533	work: (908)615-2899
email: att!trumpet!bob or <bob@...>


From: <bob@...> (Ezra Tanenbaum)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 93 16:42:05 -0400
Subject: The Force of Tradition

I see that I unwittingly started a discussion about the force of
tradition in halacha.

My original statement was that since the primary duties of a
congregational rabbi (or rosh yeshiva for that matter) do not involve
activities which are halachically forbidden to women (excluding legal
actions: ketuva, gett, conversion or being the baal tefilla) then since
Orthodoxy assumes adherence to halacha as the primary value we should be
able to have women rabbis, but only "tradition" stops us.

Most of those who criticized this statement misunderstood what I meant
by "tradition" and mistranslated it as "minhag". Minhag is a
halachically valid concept and has the force of Torah law in certain
circumstances.  There are also rules about how and when Minhag is upheld
and how and when it is superseded by other considerations -- like change
one's resident community to one which has a different minhag.

I meant the term "tradition" in the "Fiddler on the Roof" sense.  I.e.
we don't know why we do something but our father's did it so it's a
"tradition". This is not the way of Halacha. It is the way of those
Conservative Jews who hold onto "tradition" but forget Halacha by (for
example) eating kosher at home but not when away from home.

There is no halachic minhag against women providing counseling services,
witness the many very observant women who are psychologists or social
workers. There is no halachic minhag against women providing Torah
educational services, witness the many very observant women working as
teachers and administrators in our yeshivot.

So there is no halachic minhag against women performing the duties of a
congregational rabbi or rosh yeshiva, provided that some man performs
those few duties that women are expressly forbidden by halacha to do.

Because we have the commitment to halacha on our side, we need not be
afraid to do something just because our bubbe and zeyde didn't think of
it. We need not resort to the knee-jerk reaction that we shouldn't do
something because it's a "tradition".

The Torah and the Halacha is our refuge and guardian and strength.  This
is what keeps the Jewish people alive for eternity.

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum	1016 Central Ave	Highland Park, NJ 08904
home: (908)819-7533	work: (908)615-2899
email: att!trumpet!bob or <bob@...>


From: Morris Podolak <morris@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 93 05:32:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Three Questions

David Rier asked three questions on behalf of a friend.  Here is my 
attempt at answering them.

1. The standard answer is that Shabbat is holier than Yom Kippur.  The
argument is that on Yom Kippur you only call up six people to the torah
reading, while on Shabbat you call up seven.  In addition, the
punishment for working on Shabbat is more severe as well.

2. With regard to why we start reading the torah anew on Simchat Torah,
the answer is complicated in part by the fact that this was not always
done.  A 7th century source cites a number of customs that were
different in Bavel and Israel.  One is that in Bavel they started
reading the Torah every Simchat Torah, while in Israel there were places
that read the whole Torah once in 3.5 years.  Clearly they would start
their reading at different times of the year.  Other sources give a 3
year cycle, which presumably always started on Simchat Torah.  As for
the reason this day was chosen, I like the idea given by Rav Hirsch in
his Horev.  Pesach represents the physical creation of the Jewish
people.  We were taken out of the slavery of Egypt, and made into an
independent people. Shavuot represents the spiritual creation of the
Jewish people through the giving of the Torah.  Sukkkot represents the
physical protection and sustenance of the Jews.  It is the festival of
gathering in the produce.  We sit out in a sukkah, and rely on G-d's
protection, and so on.  Shmini Atzeret (and Simchat Torah) represent the
spiritual protection and sustenance of the Jews, and this we represent
by finishing the Torah and immediately starting it again, so that it is
always there for us.

[This question is also covered in the Simchat Torah book mentioned above
by Mechy Frankel. Mod.]

3. As for books justifying Torah to scientists, there are many which try
to do so.  As a scientist, I have not found any I would care to
recommend.  On the other hand, Rav Hirsch's commentary to the Torah
presents a pretty convincing argument that there is alot going on behind
the stories and the "thou shalt"s.  Any open minded, intelligent person
could benefit greatly from reading it (it is available in English
Hebrew, and I suspect German).  In the end, you have to decide you want
to be convinced, and then it is easy to find arguments for doing so.


End of Volume 9 Issue 58