Volume 9 Number 89
                       Produced: Tue Nov  9 20:39:48 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halacha Unpluggeda
         [Moshe Waldoks]
Justice, Righteousness and Torah Study
         [Marc Shapiro]
Justifying the Torah to Scientists
         [Mike Gerver]
         [Pinchus Laufer]
Looking for a Composer for a Video Art Project on the Jewish Holiday
         [Pier Marton]
Noach's seeds
         [Josh Klein]
Rashi and Ramban on Beginning of Berashit
         [David Clinton]


From: <WALDOKS@...> (Moshe Waldoks)
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 93 18:31:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Halacha Unpluggeda

One of the most refreshing things about the list is that it strenuously
advocates a halachic process that is firmly in this world. What can be
done to educate our youngsters in yeshivot that the halachic process is
alive and well and open to significant changes. For the most part these
changes entail understanding how minhagim, gezerot, and sometimes unique
and individual circumstances come to inhibit the halachic process from
carrying on its organic function of responding to all of life and its
 I have often heard of the attempts by Rabbi Maimon to re-establish a
Sanhedrin when the old-new Jewish State was established in 1948.  The
function of this gathering was to be the realignment of halacha along
new runners and guidelines, a sovereign entity where Jews of all
backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures were to build a society together.  An
alignment of Ashkenzic and Sephardic customs would have been helpful; a
reassessment of shabbat obsevances in the public sphere; a renewal of
the gezerot that solve touchy issues of agunah and other ishut issues; a
standard of what the halachic demands are for gi-ur, etc.  Forty-five
years after the establishment of the State any desire to create Jewish
unity is seen as surrender; any attempt to have the halacha respond to
Jewish sovereignty is seen as a betrayal of galut- values; any cry for
granting legitimacy to Israel-oriented spiritual phenomena are called
hukat-ha-goyim. My friends on this list-let us find a way to educate our
youngsters to understand that frumkeyt means the willingness to
sacrifice for the "shvil ha-Zahav, the middle path.
 I am very concerned that the haredization and in sokme ways the
messianization of Torah Jews has led to an acerbic and volatile
abberation of Jewish life that masquerades as the mainstream. The
possibility of an arrangement of Israel and its neighbors will lead 
to an eruption between the rabid polarization in Israeli life.
Rescuing the ancient living process of the Jewish path of life,
the halacha, is in our hands. I, unfortunately, have lost faith in 
this battle cry coming from our gedolim. It's time for all serious
Jews of every stream to start talking to each other and demanding
that the halachic process become unplugged. with respect Moshe Waldoks


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 17:21:19 -0500
Subject: Justice, Righteousness and Torah Study

It is clear that Torah she-bikhtav, in particular the prophets, do not
have any real notion of Torah study. Rather, justice and righteousness
are the central themes. Does anyone have any idea how Torah study has
gained the ascendancy while the prophetic ideals have been relegated to
second class status. (It is well known that yeshivot will not allow the
students an afternoon off of learning so that they can perform acts of
hesed, argung that Torah study is more important. Must this be so or is
there an alternative approach which puts a premium on hesed?)
	Marc Shapiro


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1993 1:21:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Justifying the Torah to Scientists

In v9n47, David A. Rier asks for suggestions for good books that
"justify" the Torah to scientists, which a non-observant friend was
interested in seeing. Moshe Podolak replies in v9n58 that he is not too
impressed with any of the books of this nature that he has seen, and I
tend to agree with him. But I am not sure that apologetic arguments
reconciling Torah and science are what is called for here. R. Don Brand,
who is professional psychologist, gave me some advice recently about how
to handle doubts about Torah that my 11-year-old son has expressed, and
I think this may be relevant to David Rier's friend. Don pointed out
that people do not become Torah observant, or give it up, because of
rational arguments, but because of exposure to Torah observant people
whom they admire and want to identify with as role models, or exposure
to Torah observant people whom they do NOT want to identify with or

David's friend may be under the impression that all or most Torah
observant Jews have very fundamentalist and literal interpretations of
ma'aseh breishit [creation of the world], etc., and because he cannot
identify at all with the opinions of such people, he may find it hard to
imagine himself as every being Torah observant. David should introduce
him to people (including several recent contributors to this list) who
are Torah observant, but are working scientists who do not have such
views. If he sees that it is possible to be Torah observant and still
believe in evolution, cosmology, etc., he may become more open-minded
about Torah observance. The point here is not whether evolution and
modern cosmology are _true_, but whether belief in them _necessarily_
precludes belief in Torah.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1993 08:34:22
Subject: Kelayim

"Morning Edition" has been running a series on organic farming this
week.  One of the featured sites was Gallo wineries in California which
has changed over to "organic" (i.e. non man-made chemical herbicidal)
farming.  The vineyards have a very different appearance - chemically
treated vineyards have vines standing in a field of soil with nothing
growing in their midst; the organically farmed vineyards have oats, peas
and/or other plants in the rows between vineyards.  Does this raise a
problem of Kelayai Kerem?  What about other mixtures (not necessary
Kelayai kerem but other Kelayim)?  What measures do mashgichim take to
investigate this aspect of Kashrus, if any?  Any information would be

By the way, I recall walking through vineyards near Ein Yaakov (1976)
and they did look like fields of soil with lone rows of vines.

Thank You,


From: Pier Marton <marton+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 93 20:07:42 EST
Subject: Looking for a Composer for a Video Art Project on the Jewish Holidays

Looking for a Composer interested in working with Voices and Natural
Sounds for a Video Art Project on the Jewish Holidays.

I am a Jewish artist/videomaker who has shown his work at Moma, the
Whitney and the Jewish Museum, among other places. That gives you the
possible context for the work I do.

Presently, and for the past 6 years, when I was not struggling with
unemployement, I was working on a videotape that for now I call "TIME TO
BE (Jews in Paradise)".  Its topic is primarily the Jewish Holidays as
the markers for the passage of "Jewish Time".  This is basically the
doorway for looking at Jewish History, Jewish Identity and Mysticism.

In the process of making the tape I have interviewed a great many
charismatic beings. Those include the following rabbis: Zalman
Schachter-Shalomi, Yitz Greenberg, Lawrence Kushner, Everett Gendler,
Herber Weiner, Matityahu Glazerson, David Zeller, Jonathan Omerman, and
quite a few others. Amongst the "non-rabbis" I have interviewed Arthur
Green, Arthur Waskow, Moshe Idel...
Missing in the picture is the presence of women, and so far it has been
slow finding the particular female individuals. I have met with Rabbi
Lynn Gottlieb, Tamar Frankiel, Freema Gottlieb, Estelle Frankel and a
few others, but this part still remains to be done (*finding the
adequate female presence*). Suggestions?

*I am looking for a composer who is interested in voices,and sound
effects (i.e nature sounds) The access to a 16 bit sampler is a key
element in being able to produce the score*. One inspiring work, that I
am thinking of, is Elizabeth Swados' Jerusalem Cantata for its
sensitivity to the texture of voices. I should say that ,overall, I am
not interested in the musicality of instruments, but in the musicality
of natural sounds ( I could though, imagine the cello *mixing in* to
imitate the sound of existing wind or breath).

Basically I have recorded most of the vocals (Ashkenazi and Sephardi
traditional liturgy). I even have some yemenite drumming available.  It
would be useful for the composer to understand Hebrew so they would make
clear decisions in highlighting various sections of the liturgy.  Some
yearning towards the Jewish Heritage, while avoiding the Kitsch of
Nostalgia, would also be a great asset.  (For your information, I was
raised without "religion", except the need to be socially conscious. I
am also the child of Holocaust Survivors, and was raised in France.)

The person chosen would have to have their own sound equipment.  They
could use my credentials and the project to raise any necessary funding
for this part of the creative process.  I will apply shortly for more
funding for the project, and if I can finalize the choice for the music
person, before I apply, it will be easier to use the funds, G-d willing,

I am located in Pittsburgh but I do go to the West Coast and New York
from time to time... I think being in the same locale is not necessary.
There can be an exchange of audio and video cassettes.

You can e-mail me back at <marton@...> 
or call (412) 268 8559.
Thank you for your time.

Pier Marton


From: Josh Klein <VTFRST@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 93 09:20 N
Subject: Noach's seeds

Eli Turkel wants to know from where Noach got his fig branches, olive
trees, and grape vines. If Noach really believed that God was going to
destroy things, he could easily have brought cuttings with him on the
ark. Figs, olives, and grapes all root fairly easily, and the cuttings
could have survived the relatively short period on the ark. On the other
hand, if Noach was occupied with getting elephants on board (see Bill
Cosby) and forgot the cuttings, he could have made do with what he found
lying around when he got out of the ark.  Wood floats, mostly, and most
trees indigenous to the MiddleEast can withstand stress such as flooding
(to say nothing of drought) fairly well. Olive trees in particular can
take all sorts of punishment (you can transplant a 100 year old olive
tree and get a crop the next year {let's not get into orla, though};
most other trees can't take that). So: the dove could have found a leaf
of a rerooted olive. On the other hand, nowhere does it say that the
leaf was verdant and green. It could be that the dove found a branch
that still had leaves, albeit soggy ones, and the leaves were markers of
water height alone, and not of life.

As far as other trees and vegetables, here again plants are tougher than
we might think. Seeds can take long periods of anaerobiosis, such as
being under water (or they could have been trapped in airpockets such as
in granary buildings, even under water). Alternatively, seeds (and
trees) could have floated, and rooted/sprouted when they hit land.
Finally, remember that Noach likely brought dried fruits with him on
board. He could have planted the seeds when he came out of the ark.

Now: can someone shed light on how in Lech Lecha (17:17) Avraham doubts
his ability to father children, while God assures him that it will
happen. Is Yitzchak's birth thus a miracle? If so, what are we to make
of the end of Chayei Sara (22:1-2), where Avraham fathers six more
children by Ketura? Aside from Midian, are any of these children
represented among the nations surrounding the Land of Israel?

Josh Klein VTFRST@Volcani


From: <ai917@...> (David Clinton)
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 93 18:42:37 -0500
Subject: Rashi and Ramban on Beginning of Berashit

Alan Cooper wrote:

> When Rashi begins his commentary on the first two words of
> Genesis with the words, ein ha-miqra ha-zeh omer ella    
> dorsheni [this verse requires expounding], surely he is   
> telling us to be wary of taking the text literally--a    
> point which he immediately bolsters by advancing a         
> non-temporal reading of the initial beit of the Torah.

The way Rashi appears in my Chumash tells me that he's saying nothing at
all about literal or non-literal approaches in general.  The reason
*Rashi* gives for "this verse requiring expounding" is the grammatical
problem connecting the word "braishis" with a verb (bara) - it should,
rather, be followed by a subject (eg. brias shomayim).

> The literalists not only need to read Rambam, as Joe     
> suggests they do, but also Ramban and Rabbeinu Bahya.     
> What they will learn from their reading is that the      
> purpose of the creation story is, to put it simply,
> to demonstrate that if there were no God, the world would
> not exist; that is, God is necessary to the world.

I'm afraid I'm not sure where this Ramban is.  The very first Ramban in
Chumash (which is really only explaining the first Rashi) ascribes the
Torah's need to include details of the creation story, not to
"demonstrate that if there is no God..." but to provide the Jews with a
legal claim to Israel on their first entry (40 yrs after the giving of
the Torah).

I'm teaching this parsha to my high school classes this year, so I'd
appreciate these sources (i.e. your Ramban and Rebbeinu Bachya).

David (Boruch) Clinton


End of Volume 9 Issue 89