Avodah Mailing List

Volume 04 : Number 031

Sunday, October 10 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 01:23:39 +0200
From: Hershel Ginsburg <ginzy@netvision.net.il>
Re: Avodah V4 #30: Tenability

>Date: Sat, 9 Oct 1999 21:04:29 -0500 (CDT)
>From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
>Subject: Tenability
>On Sat, 9 Oct 1999, Hershel Ginsburg wrote:
>> >From the American Heritage Dictionary (Third Edition):
>> ten-a-ble (adj.)  1. Capable of being maintained in argument; rationally
>> defensible: a tenable theory.  2. Capable of being held against assault;
>> defensible: a tenable outpost.
>> Ain't nuttin' here about any testability or time frames.  Furthermore,
>Funny. I see both definitions as requiring testability/time frames.

a)  I don't, at least as a necessity.  I have heard many plausable
arguments (e.g., certain aspects of evolutionary theory), which because
they are plausible, and hence tenable, but still not testable in any real
sense.  Most, if not all historical arguments are not testable, but they
may still be tenable.

b)  Even if there is an implicit need for a time frame, why should your
seemingly arbitrary definition of what is the time frame be the one that is

>It would indeed. This gets back to one of our debates sometime ago. As I
>am of the opinion that judaism is not faith based but evidence based, the
>pshat is as follows: Jewish theology is based on the event of Mattan Torah
>and its credibility. Its credibility underlies the Torah and the
>accompanying Mesorah. Since the test event has already occurred, it
>validates the contents of the accompanying document.

.... and suffice it to say that I view Judaism as ultimately being faith
based.  With all due respect (and you do know that I do respect) I view
your argument as  being circular.  Please recall past conversations with
you, where I distinguished between, evidence supporting an idea or
arguments that can be advanced in support of an idea (both of which are
common) on the one hand, and "proof" on the other hand.  The latter is a
very rare commodity, particularly in open systems.  Indeed most, if not
all, real scientific knowledge advances by consitancy arguments and the
occasional disproof, both of which are based on empirical experimental

But this is another thread...


  Hershel & Susan Ginsburg               Internet: ginzy@netvision.net.il
  P.O. Box 1058 / Rimon St. 27           Phone: 972-2-993-8134
  Efrat,  90435                          FAX:  972-2-993-8122


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Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 16:38:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@netcom.com>

> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 10:46:01 -0500 (CDT)
> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
> Subject: Re: Women Yoatzot
> On Sun, 10 Oct 1999 MSDratch@aol.com wrote:
> > Of course, the "come back when you've learned more" argument is
> > disingenuous. There will always be demands of more. These women came to
> > Nishmat with an intense background in Talmud, studied for 2000 hours
> > with poskim, talmidei chachamim and roshei kollel, and are extraordinary
> > minds and yirei shamayim.  (And, yes, one of them has learned Shas at
> > least twice).  I had the zechus of meeting them and sitting in on a
> > shiur last year at Nishmat.  Their understanding, analysis, and critical
> > abililities were very impressive.  Rabbanit Chanah Henkin has been very
> > careful these past couple of years in setting only the highest standards
> > and, through serious testing (both oral and written) over some 15 hours
> > or more, by poskim in this area, has ascertained that these women "know
> > their stuff."  Halavai, some of the younger rabbanim who get semicha
> > tday should be as intellectually and educationally competent.  So the
> > question IS one of cheftzah, not gavra (or giveret). 
> >
> As you might have guessed, liberal as I am, I regard this new trend is
> disturbing and dubious.
> For now, I have a simple question: If such fabulous success can be
> achieved with the girls, why, indeed, is it not happening with the boys?
> Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
> Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
> ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila\\\

I don't know if the issue is the women are more qualified.  The issue is 
more what R E Turkel said about women more likely to be machmir than ask 
a question of a Rabbi.

In such personal area while a woman may feel comforatable speaking to 
another woman she may not be willing to speak to a Rov and will take it 
on herself to be her own posek.  I think this could also possible result 
in an errounously lenient decision as well.

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Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 19:47:40 -0400
From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@juno.com>
Devorah was a Judge--WOMAN POSKOT

I do NOT support women poskot. But

* I do support women becoming experts in taharat mishpacha

* Devorah the prophet was a judge for israel

I think this matter has to be clarified more

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Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 19:46:41 -0400
From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@juno.com>
Codes--An old Joke from baistefillah

Over and above what Micah said about the codes I bring an old
argument from Baistefilah

The codes predicted that a person named RABIN would be assasinated
But RABIN was not his (Hebrew) Name and is not the way he was called
to the Torah.

On a more serious level I have argued that it is doctrinal to Judaism
to believe that the 
	>Torah is not in heaven
in other words it is accessible to everyone. I would therefore think
that any approach to torah requiring sophisticated computers must
contradict this tenet.

Just some asides

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Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 20:05:44 -0400
From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@juno.com>
Actuarial Analysis of DEFICIENT and FULL

I have been arguing SOURCES with Rabbi B rather then simply
confront him with the bold facts.

There were about 4 Rashis in this weeks Parshah dealing with Malay
and Cahser. There is 1 in Noach and 1 in lech Lechah. In other words
I expect about 4 dozen examples throughout tnach. If all of them are
treated the same 2 or 3 ways then we have a RULE. It is that simple

This also answers Micahs question about the Drash. Micha certainly
grants that the PIEL as a Binyan is grammar and not derush. Nevertheless
we use lose terms like PIEL USUALLY DENOTES EMPHASIS.

Well Rashis treatment of Malay and Chaser is similar. A FULL SPELLED WORD
indicates that the NOUN was FULL or ALL THERE while A DEFICIENT SPELLED
WORD indicates that the sentence/verse only applies to PART OF IT.

Here are some examples

---And conquer it (CVSHUA)---(Deficient) Men conquer but not women
(So the conquerers are deficient)

---MOROTH--(Deficient) So the sun's benefiicience to earth is deficient
and as
a good example there is disease (in a perfect solar system this wouldn't
(There is no need to interpret the Rashi as a pun).

Some other examples are 

---LDOROTH (Deficient) (In Noach) So not all generations need a rainbow
are righteous to being with)

--YAAKOV (in BChukothai)--(FULL) Yaakov = Exilic Patriarch. Full spelling
the full scope of Galuth (and hence including redemption)

I should add in passing that other full-deficient spellings can be
approached as
indicating another word. Thus

TVOTH (Gen 6)---(Deficient) so it refers to the verb TO PUT ON MAKEUP and
to the adjective (GOOD)

MML(Balak)--(Deficient) So it refers to the verb (Military opposition and
not to 
the full meaning of OPPOSITE).

My point here is that if we gather all 50 or so examples we have a
situation not
unlike the PIEL which can take various meanings (sometimes EMPHASIS,
NEGATION etc). I feel it justified to say we have a rule here. To point
out that
we don't know HOW to apply the rule in each case would be equivalent to
out that we don't know how to apply the PIEL in each case---this is true
but does not
change the grammatical nature of the rule.

I hope this clarifies my position. (The above examples occured in last
weeks Rashi
Is Simple)

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Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 20:22:14 -0400
From: "Mark Press" <mpress@ix.netcom.com>
Re: Avodah V4 #30

I assume that David S. Finch,PC's explanation for the greater readiness of
women than men for abstract learning in contemporary times was said tongue
in cheek.  As a psychologist who has spent about three decades studying
learning processes in children, adolescents and young adults, I can assure
you that if it were not intended as a joke it is pure nonsense.
To answer RYGB's question, I would propose that if it were true that there
are a few exceptional learners among the women yoatzot it is the result of
Mrs. Henkin's choosing women who are intensely motivated to master Torah and
who have been spending many years intensively learning.  I share RYGB's
skepticism that this is in fact the case, only because we know how hard it
is for anyone, male or female, to master Shas without the expenditure of
enormous time and effort.  Surely, though, we could agree that merely
because the task is hard does not mean that it is impossible and that there
may well be exceptional women who have succeeded.

Melech Press, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Touro College
mpress@ix.netcom.com or melechp@touro.edu

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