Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 088

Monday, February 28 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 16:17:18 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Meor Einayim

Yaakov Goldstein wrote:
>Can you please tell us where he quotes him?

I happened to speak today with Gil Perl who teaches history in YU
and is writing a dissertation on the Netziv. He said that the Netziv
quotes Me'or Einayim explicitly once in Ha'amek Davar (Shemos 28:36,
as R. Eidensohn already pointed out) and five times in his commentary
to Sifrei. However, there is a clear and pervasive influence of Me'or
Einayim throughout the commentary to Sifrei.

He also said that the Netziv's attitude to these types of matters changed
throughout his life (as did that of much of Lithuania) and in the second
half of the nineteenth century he was much less open to such matters.

Gil Student,          Yashar Books
Subscribe to "Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life" Newsletter:
news, ideas, insights and special offers from Yashar Books
Phone: (718) 951-1254  Fax: (718) 228-5150

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Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 13:02:18 -0500
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>
Re: age of universe

On Thu, 2005-02-24 at 12:41 -0500, m cohen wrote:
>Independent of the question whether the AofU is 5765yrs+6 days of
>unknown/mystery/time_and_physics_not_as_we_know_it , or even according
>to the view that the AofU is millions of years because the 6 days were
>a 'guided evolutionary period of millions of yrs', both agree that the
>first man as we know him (with neshama) was created 5765 years ago,

>How did man get from the Asian continent (Eden) to N&S America,
>Australasia, etc (and in such a short period of time)?

Is there any reason one has to say all men are biologically descended
from Adam?

i.e. if one says that the creation of Adam was the insertion of Neshama
into animal-man, could Adam be unique in the fact that he was first,
but hashem created more neshamot after that and inserted them into other

would this be theologically tenable?

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Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 13:32:19 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Aveilus for an intermarried parent

R"D Josh Backon challenged me to post the following, since we were no
closer to resolution on scj(m) than we were when we started:

He wrote:
>> If your mother intermarried, then she is in major violation of Jewish law.
>> Judaism isn't a free for all. It has very strict rules on what is
>> permitted and  what is forbidden. It's like an exclusive club: you violate
>> the rules? You get evicted!

To which someone frum replied:
> Except the rules you pubilsh are not those generally followed. You also
> have no authority to "evict" anyone from Judaism...

RDJB's response:
> The Shulchan Aruch YOREH DEAH 2:5 ("mumar l'hach'is afilu ledavar echad")
> indicates that someone who deliberately violates a prohibition has the
> halachic status of a gentile.

> Cohabitation (for the sake of marriage) with a gentile is a biblical
> prohibition (see: Chelkat Mechokek EVEN HA'EZER 16:5) and is punishable
> by *karet* since it is a public act (see also Maharam Shick EH 155).
> Already in Tanach we see how the prophet Malachi (2:11) deemed
> intermarriage "bagda Yehuda v'to'evah ne'esta b'yisrael u'beyerushalayim;
> ki chilal yehuda kodesh hashem asher ahev u'va'al bat el nechar": a major
> desecration of God's name (chilul hashem). The Rambam (Hilchot Issurei
> Biah 12:1) rules like R. Shimon bar Yochai in the gemara (AZ 36b) that
> the prohibition of intermarriage is *biblical* even if the gentile is
> not one of the 7 Nations (as per Deuteronomy 7:3).

> Those who deliberately intermarry have placed themselves outside
> the fold. The Iggrot Moshe OC III 12 holds that those who are *kofrim
> mamash* are not eligible to get an *aliya* to the Torah.

> The Mishna Brura 55 #47 (anyone who denies the validity of the Oral Law is
> not permitted to make a minyan). Mishna Brura 126 #2 "mikol ha'deyot": one
> who denies the validity of the Oral Law isn't permitted to serve a chazan
> [cantor]; if such a person does serve, one is prohibited to answer *amen*
> after his blessings. See also Biur Halacha 215 "hamevarech apikorus".
> These people have the halachic status of a gentile.

To which a third person replied, quoting his citation of the first SA:
> OK, *IF* you can be certain the person *IS* in fact a mumar *lehakh'is*
> (one who deliberately violates the Law out of malice, or desire to anger
> its followers), and not just mumar *letay-a-von* (one who violates the Law
> out of "inability to control oneself" (as in "Hey, kosher meat costs too
> much money," or "but Man, that ham sandwich tastes soooooo good!", R"L),
> or a "tinok she-nishbah" (literally, an infant captured by the Nations,
> and referring to a Jew who is Judaicly-ignorant, had no chance to learn
> the Law, and cannot therefore cannot be held accountable for violations
> of the Law.

> Case in point: After the Soviet Union's dissolution, synagogues were
> once again open in Russia, but the younger people knew nothing at all of
> Judaism. There were some old-timers who vaguely remembered that there
> was Jewish life there previously, and approached a foreign (American?)
> rabbi who had come there, saying "Rabbi, we want you to know that even
> though practicing Judaism was forbidden under the Communists, we were
> always careful to light Sabbath candles every Friday night *as soon as
> we saw three stars*. These people meant well, but in their ignorance
> of the Law - it is forbidden to light at night - they desecrated the
> Sabbath. They cannot be blamed.

And quoting the second, he underlines "deliberately" and adds:
> Yes, *if* they do it deliberately while knowing the Law. Sadly, all
> too many of our coreligionists do not because they had no one to teach
> them and no books available that they could understand. :( I do wonder,
> however, if moving to places where there is no observant Jewish community
> takes one out of the category of blameless transgressor. I really don't
> know, so CYL (or even not-so-local) OR.

Josh then replied with a long post about a tinoq shenishba being only
someone who doesn't know Torah, and that someone who knows Torah but was
taught it with a negative or non-observant spin would not be a TsN. We've
discussed that point before. Oddly, he sites the CI, which I say is odd
since I thought the CI holds that no one can be considered sufficiently
informed nowadays. But back to the subject.

To which I wrote:
> FWIW, Josh is only partly correct. For the mitzvos of public prayer,
> someone who willfully leaves a position of faith can't be counted toward
> a minyan, or even be relied upon to make a blessing after which one
> ought to say amein. His status is also not that of Jew WRT raw wine
> that he touched, and a couple of other laws. So, within the paragraph,
> the statement is correct.

> But it is false to say they "have the halachic status of a gentile"
> without the context of particular laws that have to do with faith for
> which this is true. A Jew who believes in a pantheon of gods could well
> consecrate wine to a false deity, just as a gentile could. Also, who
> knows what kind of G-d someone who denies the authority of our tradition
> is praying to? In general, "An Israelite, even though he sins, is an
> Israelite." For that matter, even a convert who abandons the faith he
> had at the time of conversion remains a Jew.

> It is also false to imply this ruling applies to people raised not
> believing. Rav Moshe was lenient; although I know the Satmar Rav was not.

> In any case, he also challenged the following comment of mine:
>                                   [A]mongst those Ashkenazi poseqim that I
> asked, they are fully permitted to follow through on the normal shiv'ah
> routine (minus services in the home). Among them was R' Dovid Lifshitz,
> the Suvalker Rav.

> I asked my rebbe about whether an adopted child was obligated to mourn
> a birth parent. After clearing up the idea that nowadays most adopted
> children would know who the birth parent is and when she/he had passed
> away, Rav Dovid answered that for a child who was Jewish before the
> adoption, the question is whether they can formally mourn the adoptive
> parents while the birth parents are still alive. The child can, but
> technically it's because a student may formally mourn his mentor.

> Then the conversation drifted to a child who converted shortly after
> adoption. Unlike Josh's assumption based on classical sources, I was
> told that in practice, we do allow someone who feels a need to go
> through shiv'ah for a non-Jewish parent -- both a geir and the child
> of a non-Jewish father -- to do so.

I /think/ it's just my inclusion of "the child of a non-Jewish father"
that he is challenging.



Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 21:34:25 +0200
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva.atwood@gmail.com>
Re: HaRav M. Sternbuch shlita - Relationship of Science to Torah

> Why are we seeking physical explanations? Why isn't "G-d performed a
> miracle for His unfathomable reasons" sufficient? How many of us are
> doing so because deep down we've bought into Scientism's premises,
> and we only do invoke G-d for things we can't otherwise explain.

Rambam writes:

"..Our efforts, and the efforts of select individuals, are in contrast
to the efforts of the masses. For with the masses who are people of the
Torah, that which is beloved to them and tasty to their folly is that
they should place Torah and rational thinking as two opposite extremes,
and will derive everything impossible as distinct from that which
is reasonable, and they say that it is a miracle, and they flee from
something being in accordance with natural law, whether with something
recounted from past events, with something that is in the present,
or with something which is said to happen in the future. But we shall
endeavor to integrate the Torah with rational thought, leading events
according to the natural order wherever possible; only with something
that is clarified to be a miracle and cannot be otherwise explained at
all will we say that it is a miracle." Rambam, Letter Concerning the
Resurrection of the Dead

there are no dilemmas without confusion, there's no free will without
dilemmas, and there's no humanity without free will.

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 09:30:49 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: HaRav M. Sternbuch shlita - Relationship of Science to Torah

On Sat, Feb 26, 2005 at 09:34:25PM +0200, Akiva Atwood wrote:
:> Why are we seeking physical explanations? Why isn't "G-d performed a
:> miracle for His unfathomable reasons" sufficient? How many of us are
:> doing so because deep down we've bought into Scientism's premises,
:> and we only do invoke G-d for things we can't otherwise explain.

: Rambam writes:

I wasn't clear. As I later wrote:
> Regardless of the existance of a reason or justification for each step
> taken (for which I would say "yeah" but RMS denies), there is an emergent
> pattern in much of contemporary O thought that is disconcerting. Why
> does one seek those reasons that so consistantly justify retreat?

Yes, there are meqoros not to seek miracles where not needed. Which is
why I would vote "yeah" that reason or justification exists. But add to
that ever loosening definitions about when it's needed, a dismissive
attitude toward beitzei kinim or an 8th month ubar, and there's a
disconcerting trend.

In RYBS terms, we're in an era where the man of faith is lonely, where
Adam I (man as pinacle and master of creation, who seeks to understand
and utilize the world) reigns supreme, with little attention to Adam II
(who seeks redemption through covenental communities). I feel that Adam
I-ism has far too much to do with this trend.


Micha Berger             Man is equipped with such far-reaching vision,
micha@aishdas.org        yet the smallest coin can obstruct his view.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 23:21:53 EST
From: Emesliameto@aol.com
Rav Aryeh Kaplan's approach to age of the Universe

Has Rabbi Kaplan's approach of previous worlds which were destroyed
definitely been rejected by the rabonnim who signed the ban? It seems to
me that it has been rejected. How about Dr. Schroeder's approach which
says it was both 6 days & billions of years simultaneously? Maybe still
kosher. This would be supported by the fact that they still have his
articles regarding the age of the universe on the Aish web site. Any

 All the best,
Yisroel Felder

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 11:36:44 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Semicha and Kiddush Ha Chodesh

R' David Hoffman wrote:
> I recall seeing years back a N'tsiv which outlines a conseptual framework
> connecting the Rambam's shita in how kiddush hachodesh al pi cheshbon
> works (Hil. Kiddush Hachodesh 5:13) and his shita on reinstating semicha
> (Hil. Sanhedrin 4:11).

I think you are confusing the Netziv with the Meshech Chochma (Shemos
12:2) where he presents such a view.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 13:32:51 +0200
From: <steven@clalit.org.il>

what is the story with kosher gelatin?
if it's from dry bones is it considered kosher?

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 11:51:14 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Relationship of Science to Torah

"Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>Fri, 25 Feb 2005 posted:
> (Still waiting for that ma'amar Chazal that assumes 6 days from yeish
> mei'ayin to Adam...)

Consider me goaded. Perhaps my original posting was missed or not made
clear enough, so I'll try to clarify it more:

Chagiga 12a:
 Said Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: Ten things were CREATED ON THE FIRST
 DAY: Heaven and Earth, Tohu Va-Vohu, Light And Darkness, Ruach And Mayyim,
 Middass Yom And Middas Layla.

I.e., From yeish meiyan, Hashem created the Heavens and Earth, from which
point the first day began. (The meforshim deal with how the first day's
time was measured, including the explanation that the heavenly spheres'
revolution/the earth's rotation began immediately.) Tohu va'vo'hu
happenned within this first day. (I.e., "tohu va-vohu" did not precede
Day One, but were part of it.) The completion of that revolution/rotation
(namely 24 hours, as explicated by Rashi, Ramban, Babbeynu Bechai) was
fixed on the first day as well. Ramban makes it clear that all the days
including the first were the same length.

Rashi and Ramban have been cited before and are easily found in MIkraos
Gedolos. Rabbeynu B'chayey, Parshas T'tsaveh reads: The world was created
during the 12 daylight hours of 6 days--for during the nighttime hours
nothing was created... 6x12 [hours]=72 hours. This is why it says,
"Olom CHESSED yibaneh" [(CH=8) + (SS=60) + (D=4)=72.

Sanhedrin 38:
12 hours from Adam's creation to birth of two sons and banishment from
Gan Eden. (So the sixth day(time) was 12 hours, and the others, including
the first, were the same.)

My math: Since the sixth day's daytime was 12 hours, then the nighttime
was around 12 hours (including the period of "tohu va-vavohu"). Since the
first day was as long as the sixth day, and the sixth day was 24 hours,
then the first day was 24 hours. Since the first day started from the
first act of Creation, yeish mei'ayin, and it was 24 hours long, and
there were six equally-long days from then to Adam, then from yeish
mei'ayin to Adam were six 24-hour type days.

Please note that I am only addressing the issue raised and quoted at
the head of this post.

Z.L. (Abbreviated to save time.)

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 20:00:51 -0500 (EST)
From: "R Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Rav Aryeh Kaplan's approach to age of the Universe

[R Yisroel Felder] Emesliameto@aol.com said:
> Has Rabbi Kaplan's approach of previous worlds which were destroyed
> definitely been rejected by the rabonnim who signed the ban? It seems to
> me that it has been rejected. How about Dr. Schroeder's approach which
> says it was both 6 days & billions of years simultaneously? Maybe still
> kosher. This would be supported by the fact that they still have his
> articles regarding the age of the universe on the Aish web site. Any
> thoughts?

You will have to ask those Rabbonim to ascertain their positions. In the
event that they do reject Rabbi Kaplan's (aka the Tiferes Yisroel's)
position, I have noted here previously in holding that the universe
is only 5765 years old yesh lahem al me lismoch, albeit on a minority

If I have not referred you to the site previously, please note that the
actual text of Rabbi Kaplan's original 1979 speech on the topic of the
A of the U has been posted (and annotated) at:



P.S. The following is an excerpt from Reuven Meir Caplan's Introduction
to the paper:


The following is a lecture that was given at the Midwinter
Conference of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists
on February 18, 1979.

It was originally titled Kabbalah and the Age of the Universe. Due to
the recent "fad&" Kabbalah sects, I have changed the title.

I did this so as to not invoke a negative reaction to what I believe to
be the best description of a Torah true cosmology, one that is in-line
with modern scientific discovery as well as extrapolated theory.

Since this lecture was given over as a speech, and not intended for
publication, it was not edited with a reader in mind. Therefore this
transcription composed at the lecture may have structural errors.
However, I chose not to alter the original text (except for minor
corrections, such as spelling), in the interest of authenticity.

This talk has been re-written into a smaller, less detailed, but more
readable form in the book titled Immortality, Resurrection and the
Age of the Universe published by Ktav Publishing House. In the book,
certain topics that are mentioned in this lecture were taken out (such
as extraterrestrial life), and certain scholarly details were omitted.
I am producing this copy because I feel that it is important to read
the lecture in its (most possible) original form in order to gain
clarification on this important topic.

I have added a few footnotes, in order to keep the talk up-to-date with
science (as much as I know), as well as adding a small amount of my own
personal observations.
You can and probably should ignore these, as I am in no place to be an
authority on such matters.

I would like to greatly thank Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer for letting
me borrow his photocopy of the talk.

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Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 09:44:09 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
guided evolution

Being relatively new to Avodah, I do not know if this thread was
sufficiently developed on this forum but it doesn't hurt to rehash a
bit every once and awhile so here goes.

I was speaking to a friend about the idea of "Divinely guided evolution".
The position can be stated as follows: There seems to be evidence
that life evolved here on earth. This evidence seems to contradict the
plain reading of parshas Bereishis which seems to indicate that life was
created and did not evolve. We can reconcile this apparent contradiction
by purporting that Hashem actually guided the process of evolution.

Knowing me to be an ardent anti-evolutionist, my friend requested a
clear response to this seemingly innocuous resolution which possesses
the apparent ability of making harmony between the Torah viewpoint of
creation and current academic dogma.

Before I outline my reasons for rejecting this view, I would like preface
my arguments with a few remarks.

First of all, it has been my general experience that most (though not all)
people who maintain this view do so due to a lack of knowledge regarding
the Torah sources, the scientific sources, or both. It is simply a
facile formulation meant to resolve the apparent contradiction between
T&S without much investigation. It is therefore important to be aware
of the pitfalls of this mihalech before basing one's hashkafah on it.

Second, there is the problem of taking the Torah out of context. In
order to reinterpret the Torah's account of Ma'aseh Bereishis (MB),
two steps must be taken. The first is to assume that the apparently
physical days relating to an apparently physical creation outlined in MB,
are not literal. One of the pioneers in this field was R' Aryeh Kaplan,
subsequently joined by others such as Gerald Schroeder. If this was the
only obstacle to overcome, my rejection of this view might not be so
strong. However, there is a second obstacle to this approach.

The Torah seems to indicate that all forms of life were created instantly
and did not evolve from lower, less perfect less adaptable forms to
higher more perfect forms. Thus, although we may allow for long periods of
time, evolution per se is still problematic from a Torah standpoint. It
is these obstacles that "guided evolution" must surmount in order to be
sufficiently compelling to bridge the chasm between Torah and science in
this matter. I believe it fails for at least seven reasons but before I
list them, I would like to state that these reasons are not necessarily
meant to be a clear disproof of this philosophical approach (although
some of them are). They are merely strong indications that this derech
is highly problematic. Thus, anyone wishing to forward this approach
should be aware of the following seven issues.

1) It is against the plain reading of the Torah, is contradicted by
countless ma'amarei Chazal which seem to indicate that Chazal understood
MB kipshuto, and it contradicts our collective mesorah which our nation
has maintained for thousands of years.

2) To say that all of the complex phenomena here on earth took 3.8
billion years to evolve severely undermines the idea of the world being
the creation of an omnipotent Creator. After all, if it took so long to
evolve, what's so miraculous about the complexity here on earth? Indeed,
Tehilim is based primarily on the idea of the wonders of creation
that point to an infinitely wise and kindly Creator and the Chovos
HaLevavos maintains that this awareness is the fundamental purpose of
our lives. Evolution (guided or otherwise) exceedingly mitigates this
most important obligation.

3) It is an illogical viewpoint because once you assume the presence of
an infinitely wise and omnipotent Creator, it is unreasonable to assume
that He would take billions of years to actualize his will. In fact,
this very idea troubled Chazal when they asked "why did Hashem create
the world with 10 sayings, wouldn't one saying (i.e. instant creation
of everything at the same time) have been sufficient?"

4) Since methods of scientific research that base their conclusions
partially on extrapolation are fundamentally un-provable, we have no
right to take the Torah out of context in order to satisfy the (currently)
accepted theories of the academicians, theories which have been disproven
time and time again.

5) Since a proper investigation into the scientific claims of the
evolutionists yields the awareness of a categorically bankrupt theory
(the lack of fossil evidence is actually the biggest proof that it never
happened), one would be introducing an absolute sheker into the account
of MB, an account which "happens" to portray all of the fundamentals
of the most important of all the ikkarim, Metzius Hashem. Altering this
account by introducing erroneous ideas is a serious infraction in light
of its association with this most fundamental of ikkarim.

6) Once you adopt the attitude of compromising the truth of the Torah to
satisfy the positions of atheists, you are unleashing a Pandora's Box of
spiritually harmful affects. Like RMS says in his letter, "technically,
one may not necessarily be an apikorus for maintainig a particular
view, but only apikorsim maintain this view" (i.e. if one aligns his
weltanschauung with atheists, one will end up becoming an apikorus just
like them).

7) Since the beriah is Hashem's creation, it is illogical that he would
have created a beriah that looks like it was bidavka not created by a
Designer chs'v. Therefore, to say that there is a Creator, but that he
guided a process of evolution is a mutually illogical conclusion. If
there was irrefutable fossil evidence that seemed to point to an old
earth, one might be justified in acceding to a reinterpretation of the
Torah's account of MB. (Alternatively, one might say that we simply do not
understand the purpose of Hashems' creating such highly misleading fossil
evidence, just as we do not understand so many other phenomena. This
approach is an interesting one although highly tenuous). However, since
this is not the case (the fossil evidence is not irrefutable, rather,
it is interpreted by palaeontologists in a way that would support their
theories), it is illogical to assume that Hashem would have created
evidence that indicates that the world was bidavka not created.

This notion should not to be confused with the well known ma'amar Chazal
of "ohr vi'choshech mishtamshim bi'irbuvya, or the idea of "oteh ohr
kasalma", that Hashem created the physical as a garment to conceal
himself from mankind, for a garment has both qualities, the ability to
reveal and the ability to conceal; it is up to the *free choice* of the
viewer as to which quality he chooses to focus on. However, fossils of
creatures that never really existed is a phenomenon that does not posses
the ability of revelation and thus has no redeeming qualities about it.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 00:38:07 -0500
From: "Moshe & Ilana Sober" <sober@pathcom.com>
Re: ...From C to O

[Someone campaigned RnIS, RHM and myself to copy this post to Avodah,
that it would be of great benefit to people outside of our chevrah. -mi]

RHM interviews RnIs on Areivim:

HM: What was it about O that attracted you yet does not attract my
wife's cousin? Was there a questioning about C theology that started
you on your trek toward O?

IS: Hard to say. Until I was 15, my impression of O was "ten old men
and a mechitza" - which probably wasn't far off as a characterization
of the O shuls in my neighbourhood, from which the Jews had mostly
emigrated to the suburbs. So I was pleasantly surprised to find young
and interesting O Jews on an interdenominational summer program in Israel
(Nesiya). I was especially thrilled to discover the concept of tznius -
that was basically the way I had wanted to dress all along and it was
wonderful to have it validated. I also learned that it was possible to
daven very nicely indeed in a shul with a mechitza. In college, most
of my friends were O (after the interesting C's graduated following my
freshman year), and the only thing holding me back was egalitarianism. I
did do a lot of reading and thinking about C and it's halachic theories,
but, to be honest, my decision was much more emotional than rational.

HM: How was a committed C like you able to just drop doing those Mitzvos?
Was it difficult? Do you miss doing them?

IS: Yes, it was difficult. I was Torah reading gabbai and one of the
main baalot korei at the university egal minyan the first semester of
sophomore year, and I told them that I was leaving second semester. That
semester started Parshat Beshalach (my absolute favourite leining), and
a friend got one of the O families in town to invite us for lunch. It
was an absolutely freezing day with a biting wind blowing straight into
our faces the whole walk to shul, but they were lovely and warm and made
me feel right at home. So now, Beshalach is like a special anniversary
for me. And basically, I liked the O minyan on campus, and didn't mind
not leining as long as the person who did lein was competent.

Tefillin was the most difficult - I was planning to keep it up for
a while, and the guys at the daily campus minyan I attended were
remarkably patient and forbearing; one of them learned through the
relevant texts with me, and they didn't put on any pressure. But I was
feeling increasingly like a symbol of feminism, which I didn't want to be -
I didn't start putting on tefillin because I was a feminist, I did it
because I became bat mitzvah and that's what women in my family do. Then
one young man who was a little less patient pointed out to me that more
people from town would come help make minyan if I would stop putting on
tefillin, and if I was going to stop eventually why not do it now? And
I thought about it all night, and realized that I had already decided
to stop, so I stopped. But I did miss it for a long time, especially
when reciting Shema.

HM: Do you feel more fulfilled as a Jew now? (...obviously you must,
or you wouldn't be O... Can you explain why?).

IS: Yes. Probably because it is much more fulfilling to keep mitzvos
properly, and learn Torah properly, and understand truths about G-d and
the world in ways that aren't really available to C, and be part of a
community that really centers on Torah - than it is to do a couple of
extra mitzvos the wrong way and miss out on a bunch of more important

HM: And how do you feel about such LWMO innovations such as WTG's and
rabbinic interns or Shuls Like KOE? How do you feel about Yoatzot?

IS: I was never attracted to WTG's - why settle for an imitation when
you've experienced the real thing? For those who are attracted - I think
they can be either a step up or a step down, depending on which direction
an individual is going. I don't have a problem with a more modern girls'
school doing a Bais Yaakov style group tefillah, as long as the focus
is community, not ideology.

I think that the Yoatzot have a lot of potential. We don't know what's
going to be in 50 years - are people going to say: Looking back, this was
the first step in giving smicha to women? Or are Bais Yaakov kallos going
to ask their mothers, "How did Bubby manage without yoatzos?" Or will
it be somewhere in between? Five and a half years in, I think there's
reason for optimism. The response of rabbis has been mixed. Some,
especially in the chareidi camp, are very cautious and concerned that
there is an ideological feminist element here, and I completely respect
their reservations. Other rabbis, especially DL rabbis in Israel, are
extremely supportive and, as I understand it, the yoatzot are becoming
quite established in Israel.

I think they have helped a lot of women who wouldn't feel comfortable
approaching a rabbi. Yoatzot work very closely with rabbis, and encourage
the women who come to them to approach rabbis directly. I know quite a few
yoatzot and they are without exception wonderful, frum, learned women,
yereiot shamayim, and NOT ideologues or aspiring "rabbis." I also know
Rabbanit Henkin, and she is doing this l'sheim shamayim to promote and
facilitate proper adherence to Taharat Hamishpacha.

There are now many women who are able to learn halacha seriously. On the
one hand, this is a questionable development (by which I mean that some
gedolim are strongly in favour and others strongly opposed). But given
that such women exist, the yoatzot program is a very appropriate way to
channel their talents and accomplishments.

 - Ilana

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 16:58:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Jonathan Cohen <jcoh003@yahoo.com>
Birkat HaChacham

Does anyone know of hard and fast parameters for a B'racha over a Torah
sage in our day? What about a scientist/philosopher/historian?

Recently in response to a casual question about the presence of many great
Rabbanim at the upcoming Siyum HaShas, I was told by a Rav that he doesn't
feel that there any Rabbanim of sufficient gadlut in America in our days.
In other words the interpretation would be 'an acknowledged Gadol HaDor',
of which there could by definition be only a few in every generation.
Is this the standard approach? If not, what other possibilities are

Jonathan Cohen

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 22:53:04 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Aveilus for an intermarried parent

[R"D Josh Backon] wrote [on scjm]:
> If your mother intermarried, then she is in major violation of Jewish law.
> Judaism isn't a free for all. It has very strict rules on what is
> permitted and what is forbidden. It's like an exclusive club: you violate
> the rules? You get evicted!

The question of whther there are red lines beyond nonobservance of Torah
and Mitzvos was a subject of a major dispute between poskim in regqrd
to the following case:

The Rogtchover's daughter's husband died without children and there were
two candidates for chalitsah, a completely nonreligious brother but he
lived in an inaccessible locaton and a local meshumad. The Rogattchover,
against Ramo and Chasam Sofer, paskined that the nonobservant one was
no better or worse than the meshumad and could do chalitzah. Seridei
Eish paskined that shmad is much worse than nonobservance and that the
nonobservant brother was the one to give chalitsah. Many teshuvos were
written around this point, quoted in M. Schapiro, Between Yeshiva World
and Modern Orthodoxy, p.96-97.

M. Levin

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Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 22:30:01 -0500
From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
Re: New Insight on Seudat Purim

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
> Because one can begin Shabbos any time between pelag and right before
> sheqi'ah (tosefes from Fri is a chiyuv, IIRC, but perhaps the shi'ur is
> only tokh kedei dibur), I'm wondering when all this happens. Does one
> start eating before pelag, eat up to sheqi'ah, and make qiddush before
> eating further? (Better watch the time!) Or does one make qiddush any
> time within that interval.

> Also, how does one have both Purim and Shabbos at the same time if we're
> not talking about tosefes Shabbos? We have the whole problem with Shemini
> Atzeres "stealing" from Sukkos, or Shavu'os eliminating the temimus of
> the 49th day of omer because being meqadeish one day causes the previous
> one to end. (There is even a shtikl Brisker Torah about Tosefes Sh"A.)

Yes, one can begin Shabbat any time from Pelag HaMinhah until sunset. So
what is the problem here? Begin Se'oudat Pourim before or after Peleg stop
at about 20 minutes before sunset, light candles, say qabalat Shabbat,
then qidoush, and continue with your meal. The meal which began as
Se'oudat Pourim has now become Se'oudat Shabbat. We are not having both
at the same time. We are planning a long festive meal that will begin
one day and continue into the next. As long as we have accepted Shabbat
upon ourselves before sunset, I can not see what the problem possibly
could be. There is no real problem with Shemini Asseret stealing from
Soukot or beginning Shabou'out before 49 full days are over. One ends
and the next begins.

All the best,
Joseph Mosseri

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