Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 101

Saturday, March 26 2005

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 11:27:44 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Admin: Der Alter

Der Alter <http://deralter.blogspot.com> is a blog where a number of
writers submit essays on subjects related to Mussar. The current list
who were invited by the owner to contribute are RYGB, R' Yaakov Feldman,
R' Meir Levin and myself. Notice they're all Avodah members.

So, "Der Alter" RYGB and I decided to try an experiment, in an attempt
to enrich Avodah. We subscribed Avodah to the email gateway for the blog.
Hopefully it will start conversation.

I don't know yet what I'll be doing with Hebrew material from the blog.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Is Yahadus a 'religion'?

R Gil Student wrote:
>>According to the chassidish fork, Yahadus *is about the Human-G-d
>>connection. Even mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro are about deveiqus.
>>Would chassidisher derakhim qualify as "religion"?

> The point of the catchy title is that religion is generally assumed
> to be about Human-God connection. However, R. Feldman is arguing that
> Judaism is also about the Human-Human connection, which might imply that
> Judaism is not just a religion, or at least not as the term is normally
> (mis)understood..

FWIW, every religion has people preaching how theirs is not a religion
in the normal sense of the word. That aside...

In chassidish thought, mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro are a tool for
acheiving deveiqus. They can therefore be thought of as a religious
ritual, a thing that is ultimately man-G-d, however G-d asks for this
attitude and action. Care in how one fouls a player on the basketball
court becomes as much about the relationship with G-d as does tefillin --
both are to be nidvaq to Him. Just one involves another person and the
other some leather, parchment, sinews and ink.

My point is more about why chassidus doesn't work for me than about your
essay or R Feldman's book.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 13:21:13 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
schiavo case

seeing a post about this, I thought I would add something to the

At an "Ask the Rabbi" session that Midwest NCSY ran two years ago which
I attended, Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, Dayan of the Agudah in the Midwest,
was asked the following:

Are the umos haolom guilty of murder in cases of brain death when they
pull the plug? He answered they are not obligated to seek out a Jewish
beis din to determine what is considered being alive. They are obligated
to use their own legal system to attempt to arriving at truth. Then
he added, I too, if I were just using common sense, would have told
you that when someone is brain dead, they are considered dead and you
could pull the plug. It is only the Torah that teaches us that this
person is considered alive, and the umos haolam are not obligated to
follow the conclusions of our beis din. That which for us is murder,
for them might actually be merciful.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 14:31:05 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Fwd: The 13 Rules and Logic

The following is from RMLevin's "Midrash and Method" list. See

I found it interesting because I thought that derashah and sevarah were
intended to be two very distinct things, and really logic had to do with
the latter. The raisha of that sentence is easy to show: the difference
between "lamah li qera, sevarah hi?" to derashah's dependency on a pasuq
and (at least by the time of the amora'im) a mesorah. I have therefore
started a few discussions here about why qal vachomer are (plural: from
chumros running from qal to chomer or qulos deduced from chomer to qal)
derashah, not sevarah. FWIW, I don't understand his/your explanation why
qal vachomer is different in kind than a fortiori, and we can return to
that question if anyone would like.


The thirteen rules of interpretation.

The thirteen rules of interpretation serve as introduction and prologue
to the Sifra. While in the past it has generally been accepted that
these rules were Sinaitic in origin and that without them we would not
know how to interpret the Torah (see the eloquent argument for this
in Ra'avad's first comments on the Sifra), in more modern times there
were attempts to present them as self evident rules of logic or language
based interpretation. R. David Nieto in Matteh Dan (end of Dialogue III)
represents first approach and Malbim the second.

Explaining the 13 rules as logic presents a difficulty in that they do
not appear to follow classic rules of logic. Recall that the Greeks
distinguished between logic, a self sufficient science of reasoning,
and rhetoric, an ability to construct an argument for a desired
position. The former is akin to mathematics in rigor and persuasiveness
while the latter, at its worst, deteriorates into sophistry. The 13
rules do not follow classic logical constructs. Contemporary attempts
to accrue validity for the 13 rules as logic, invoked the essentially
different manner in which Greek and subsequently Western, and Talmudic,
or Hebrew mind thinks and reasons. This is a point that has been realized
and expounded by dozens of scholars over the past century and it is
worth considering at some length, in order to understand how some have
approached the difficult task of justifying the 13 rules.

Greek civilization was above all visual. Its gods were concrete and
material and so was its conceptual language. Its writers, such as
Homer, wrote in long, detail laden paragraphs in order to describe a
scene that the readers could visualize, as if it was taking place in
front of their very eyes. Homer is famous for the mass of detail and
leisurely development of his scenes, dress and deportment of characters,
their physical surroundings, their movements and behavior. On the
other hand, he is poor in describing their inner states. A picture
may be worth a thousand words for an image with all of its attendant
detail can be grasped in one glance. On the other hand, a picture is
static; it can never be anything more than it is at the moment that it
has been grasped. It does not allow for development or progression,
only for replacement by another picture. Not so hearing. Although it
transmits information but one syllable at a time, speech is dynamic and
flexible. Every word and every saying must be actively perceived, related
and reconciled with the words, syllables, and units of information that
came before and that are yet to come. It is for this reason that Scripture
is discontinuous and filled with gaps and apparent contradictions that
must be filled in and reconciled by the Oral Tradition. The Jews were
above all a nation devoted to hearing. Their Law was spoken and heard at
Sinai; beyond this, the world itself came into being in an act of Divine
speech. A Jew is not a passive receiver but an active participant in the
act of revelation and Revelation and he is constantly in the process of
perception and interpretation.

It is not surprising than that Greek logic sought to establish identity
while Jewish thought desired to reason from similarity. One of the
basic forms of Greek reasoning was a syllogism. The purpose of syllogism
was to reveal an identity relationship between different particulars,
as members of the same class. A syllogism goes like this:
    1. All men are mortal.
    2. Socrates is a man
    3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

While syllogisms are excellent tools to equate simple entities, they
are unable to adequately represent complex relationships of things that
are similar in some aspects but different in others. Such "messy logic"
requires different logical tools.

The thirteen principles are precisely such tools. What they attempt
to do is to establish sufficient similarity between categories that an
aspect of one is transferable to the other, without, however, changing
the actual nature of either category. Similarity serves not to establish
equivalence but to serve as proof that more than aspect of the one also
exist in the other. We use this kind of logic in everyday life without
stopping to think and formalize it. It may not be Greek logic but it
is nevertheless the basis of our daily functioning and we rely on it to
make major decisions.

An example may be useful. Imagine that you went to the railway station
where you encountered the ticket master in full railroad regalia and
wearing a distinctive conductor's cap. As you board the train, you
are greeted by ticket checker who is in the same uniform but wearing
different pants. After a few hours on the train you make your way across
the engine room and see there a man who is loading coal into the heaving
furnace. Because of the heat in his compartment he is wearing nothing but
shorts and the conductor's hat. Is there any doubt that this one part of
the uniform would be sufficient for you to assume that he is an employee
of the railroad, just like the others? This example illustrates the
kind of logic that enables us to handle shifting and complex categories
without recourse to syllogism and formal categories of Greek thought.

It might be instructive to compare Kal V'Chomer and syllogism in
its so-called a-fortiori form. Whereas syllogism deals with names and
predicates, kal v'chomer deals with sentences. It is not concerned with
relationships of classes. Syllogism apply terms such as 'all' and, 'every'
but kal v"chomer employs juxtapositions - if an aspect of a law is found
in the minor case, so much so must it be present in the major case. In
fact, kal v"chomer works just as well for transferring leniencies as
stringencies, an aspect not found in syllogism. Kal v'chomer argues that
if a lenient aspect is found in the stricter case, it should also pertain
in a less strict case. Conversely, if there is strict aspect to a lenient
case, we should expect that it should also exist in a stricter case.

The underlying principle underlying the thirteen rules of interpretation
is the principle of unity of the Torah. In some ways it is similar
to the scientific method; when different phenomena evidence similar
characteristics, one looks of for common mechanisms. This is known after
J.S. Mills as the Method of Agreement, which states: "If two or more
instances of a phenomenon under investigation have one circumstance
in common, the circumstance in which alone all the instances agree is
the cause of the phenomena". R. Adin Steinsaltz wrote in the Essential
Talmud (p. 97) that "Rabbis anticipated modern science while endeavoring
to employ an empirical approach without having recourse to theoretical
structures that did not derive from tested facts". They applied this
most modern logic to texts and linguistic structures, in the world of
hearing and reception, as scientists apply them to the world of visible
and natural phenomena.

Attempting to explain the logical underpinnings of the 13 rules is
good apologetics but I have a question. It should be evident that the
more these rules can be proven to be based on pure logic, the less they
need to have been Divinely revealed. Why, after all do we need Sinaitic
rules, if we could have figured them out by ourselves. On the other hand,
as decoding tools they hardly need to be logical at all. For those who
believe that the Divine Author encrypted multiple meanings into the Torah
and that the thirteen rules are the code with which to comprehend them,
the supposition that they are pure logic to be nothing but a distraction.

Let us restate the traditional majority opinion about the 13 rule. It
is that that the thirteen principles are themselves received at Sinai
. In this view, the Divine Author intentionally encrypted multiple
meanings in his Torah and also provided the keys with which they may be
comprehended or decoded. In addition, certain limitations on how these
rules work, such as that an individual may not derive a gzeirah shava
on his own, or that principle of D'yo for a Kal V'Chomer, fit best with
this approach. There should be no limitations on use of pure logic,
if that is what the 13 rules are.

There is a third approach - one that sees some of the rules as logic and
others as received decoding devices. This is, for example, the approach
of the Shela who considers the first 10 rules as being received and the
last three as purely logical. The Ra'vad also writes that 12 rules are
received and the last (bringing a 3rd verse to reconcile two conflicting
verses) is logical. This approach deserves farther explication and study.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 14:43:32 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: psak in haskafa

Thu, 24 Mar 2005 "Micha Berger" posted
> ...Kelapei Shemaya galya (LAD), Rivqah was either 3 or 15 when Eliezer
> met her. Not both.

Maybe Dr. Schroeder can help us out here? ;-)

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 14:54:12 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Startling historical beliefs

[An anonymous comment on a blog:]
>Kesav Tamim (which is described as being often quoted by the 
>Or Zarua) by R' Shamah b"r Chasdai Taqu was written to attack 
>R' Saadia, the Rambam, the Ibn Ezra and Chasidei Ashqenaz. 
>In it he writes that anyone who allegorizes these sources it "nata 
>zar beYahadus".

This is true.

>1. The original substance of the world was not created by God (Chomer
>Kadmon) [Ralbag, Ibn Ezra, and Kuzari doesn't find this approach heretical
>ditto the Rambam.

Not true. The views are more complex than this brief description implies.

> 2. God does not have foreknowledge on what we will decide with our free
> will [Raavad Baa'l Emuna Ramah, R' Eliezer Ashkenazi Baa'l Maa'she Hashem.

I don't know.

> 3. We don't have free will it's just an illusion. [Ohr Hashem R'
> Chasdai Kreskas]

So??? He's a soft determinist. I'm sure that there are plenty of people
who believe that in the frum world.

> 4. The Laws of the Torah will Change due to our being in different
> cultures and environments than the times of the giving of the
> Torah. [Sefer Ha,ikarim]

Not true.

> 5-6. Maaseh Merkava... Matan Torah

So what?

> 7. God is a physical entity, anthropomorphism in all it's glory. [some
> of the Chasidey Ashkenaz, Rishonim]

We know of very few. Historians debate over whether or not this belief
was widespread among talmidei chachamim.

> 8. God doesn't listen to anyone's prayers [Rambam]

Gross oversimplification. Marvin Fox has an excellent analysis of this
subject in Interpreting Maimonides.

> 9. Many Jews were already in Israel while most Jews were in Egypt. (R'
> Yehuda Hachasid in Haggadah L'ballie Tosfat Hashalom]

Interesting but inaccurate. It's on page 68 of the haggadah. R. Yehuda
HeChasid suggests that the descendants of Yosef had permission to
**travelback and forth** between Egypt and Israel, and even built cities
on Ya'akov's land to maintain their claim to the land.

> 10. Hallal Hagadol was part of the Torah but was taken out and put in
> Tehilim [R' Yehuda Hachasid]

R. Menashe Klein has a different explanation of this passage that I
think is very plausible.

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

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:12:05 -0500
From: bdcohen@optonline.net
Hair pieces for men (was men dyeing hair)

As an off shoot of the hair and beard dyeing issue for men, I am curious
as to halachic permissability of men wearing wigs or hair pieces. Is
this also an issue of lo tilbash ?

David I. Cohen

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 14:19:36 -0600
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Start;ling Historical Beliefs

R' Micha Berger posted on March 23, 2005:
> In private email, someone pointed me 
> to <http://chakira.blog-city.com/read/1011602.htm>. In it someone 
> anonymously posted on the subject of corporeality. 

> He quotes Machzor Vitri on Avos, pg 514, "shenivre'u betzelem E-loqim", 
> but that source doesn't say what he claims it does. ...

> The same psuedonym was used to also post this list: ...

Looks like someone's looking for a fight--or very desperately trying to
stop (almost) all the maaseh breishis talk ;-)!

Can this wait till after Pesach?

Just off the cuff, I think some of these are true, some are technically
true but phrased in a radical-sounding way, and some are false unless,
again, one invokes word-parsing to defend phraseology calculated to
make maaminim bristle (E.g., Rambam holds Hashem doesn't "listen"
to our prayers?! One is not "considered" a "heretic," "Many 'Jews'
"--Jews before mattan Torah?), and some are very debatable.

We can expect that people who understand words normally will defend
classical positions by over-stating positions, and then the list-maker
will "show them up" by bringing technical exceptions to the regular
understanding of concepts.

But at this point, the onus should be on the list-maker to cite chapter
and verse (and better yet, quotations) for his conclusions. And to put on
the table precisely what he means. (I'm surprised he didn't include that
Oh, My Goodness! "some sources say that Moses did not write the entire
Torah!!!!!"--since some say that Yehoshua wrote some p'sukim.) (Remarkable
hysterical statements?)

Also, some of these ha'aros can evoke the dubious question of "who is a
'recognized rishon'," which I admit is of my own making.

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:16:08 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Taanis Esther/Tzom Esther

In Avodah V14 #100 dated 3/24/2005 "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
> Why  is it referred to as Taanis Esther and not Tzom Esther?  Why is
>  it referred to as Tzom Gedaliah and not Taanis Gedaliah?

Some related  questions:

1) Is there a difference in the meaning between the words Taanis and Tzom?

Maybe this is one of those cases where the Hebrew language changed over
time? Like "ro'eh" changed to "navi." Just speculating.

 -Toby  Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:20:27 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: schiavo case

In Avodah V14 #100 dated 3/24/2005 Shaya Potter <spotter@cs.columbia.edu>
> If someone's is on a feeding tube, actions have to be  explicitly done
> to keep on refilling it.

> Is not refilling it equivalent to taking someone off a respirator?

No, not refilling it is the equivalent of not bringing any food to a
bedridden patient who can't get up and get himself a snack. Not giving
food is murder.

> could one argue that perhaps she's in such a state that  you can't do
> anything to help or hurt her. wouldn't this preclude refilling  the
> feeding aparatus?

That would only apply if she were a goses, certainly not if she is
healthy enough to live for years!

 -Toby  Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 21:09:07 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
V'Nahafoch Hu

I don't know if another issue of Avodah will get out before Purim is over,
but I wanted to share this anyway.

A certain object in our shul is in a very prominent place, but most
people just see it and don't look at it too closely. A few days ago,
I happened to notice that it had recently been moved, and was now in an
upside-down position. I could have fixed it, but for reasons that I'd
rather not bore you with, I felt that it would be better to leave it
alone for the time being, and then fix it on Erev Shabbos.

But then I realized: this coming Erev Shabbos is Purim!

Purim is a day for making things topsy-turvy. How can I go and
take something which is already upside-down, and fix it on Purim
itself? Doesn't this go totally against the spirit of the day? What
a dilemma!!!

Ha, ha, ha! There's obviously no halachos about this sort of situation. It
was a pretty lame joke, and my kids were generous enough to pretend it was
funny, but the Purim Torah I usually come up with is usually even worse.

And then, for some reason, I figured I'd inflict this on our dear Rav
too. Of course, the simple solution to my "problem" is to straighten
the thing out after Shabbos, but I figured it had a chance of making
him smile, so why not ask the shailah?

He was kind enough to smile at my joke, and then he explained my error:
I had misunderstood the whole meaning of "v'nahafoch hu":

It is a very popular song on Purim, but when we take it out of context,
we think that it is telling us that Purim should be a time of putting
things upside-down and backwards. And that was the sourse of my question.

But that is NOT what the Megilah is saying!!!

The root heh-peh-chaf does indeed mean to reverse something. But let's
see it in context. It appears twice in Megilas Esther. First, in 9:1,
the source of our song: "It was reversed, so that the Jews would rule
over their enemies."

This is not making things upside-down!!!

It is setting them rightside-up!!!

And if that's not clear enough, the second case is in 9:22 -- "The month
which was reversed for them, from anguish to joy, and from mourning
to holiday..."

And so, tomorrow morning, after we have heard the megilah, I plan to
reverse that object, and set it straight, not in contravention of the
message of Purim, but in fulfillment of it.

My bracha for everyone on this holiday is that just as my understanding
of this pasuk has been reversed and corrected, so too may we all be
worthy of having *everything* get turned around for the better!

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 21:37:02 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Purim Seudah - Poreis mappa

To the question <<< How much of KABBALAT SHABBAS do we say - since we
will be davening way after shki'ah and after Kiddush? >>>, R' Aryeh
Frimer suggested <<< Although Kabbalat Shabbat was meant to be recited
before Shkiah, the minhag is to be lenient and recite it after shkiah
as well. It's only Tehillim - and Piyut, nothing really lost. >>>

I don't understand the problem. Why not recite the entire KS in its
proper time? In this situation, that would be just prior to Kiddush. Then,
after benching, Maariv can begin without KS.

Yes, it is only tehillim, so there's nothing wrong with saying it later
on, prior to Maariv. But what would be the point of doing so? If one has
already said Kiddush, I'd think that KS would be somewhat anticlimatic
and irrelevant.

No, I'd say that whenever one is planning on making Kiddush, start KS
before that. Maybe even just pass out siddurim and say it in your seats
right there; it's not like it includes an Amidah or even any brachos. Get
a good tune for Lecha Dodi, and it can be very Purimdik!

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:28:27 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: schiavo case

From: T613K@aol.com [mailto:T613K@aol.com] 
> No, not refilling it is the equivalent of not bringing any food to a
> bedridden patient who can't get up and get himself a snack. Not giving
> food is murder.

Source that halachically passive indifference=murder?

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:29:39 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: Taanis Esther/Tzom Esther

In Avodah V14 #100 dated 3/24/2005 "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
> Why  is it referred to as Taanis Esther and not Tzom Esther?  Why is  
> it referred to as Tzom Gedaliah and not Taanis Gedaliah?

I would guess that it's because Taanit Esther  is not puraniyot(which is why
it is today and not Monday)


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:36:47 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: schiavo case

In Avodah V14 #100 dated 3/24/2005 "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
> But according to Rabbi Noam Zohar, an expert on Jewish bioethics
> from Bar Ilan University in Israel, Orthodox Judaism draws distinctions
> between letting someone die and causing their death.

> "According to mainstream Orthodox Jewish law, it is not only
> permissible but requisite to remove artificial impediments to the death
> process because it is not permissible to place these there in the first
> place," Zohar said, adding that this applies only if there is no hope
> of recovery.

"Artificial impediment to death process" would apply only if the person
were near death, and also would not apply to food and water, which
is not artificial but something that even a healthy person needs in
order to survive. The fact that the person cannot eat on his own does
not mean that providing food is an "artificial impediment to death."
A respirator is different from a feeding tube.

I think that R' Moshe Feinstein has a teshuva along these lines and hope
that one of you Avodah scholars can supply that information. Thank you.

BTW it is also not so clear that if a respirator was put in already,
you are allowed to take it out, even if the halacha might have permitted
letting the person die without a respirator lechatchila. This sounds
like a somewhat modernist psak to me. I've never heard of R' Zohar but
something doesn't sound right to me. (Maybe it's that phrase, "an expert
on Jewish bioethics in Bar Ilan University." What makes an authority in
one sphere of reference might be a disqualification in another, I'm sure
you understand.)

Oh and one more thing: "when there is no hope of recovery." You have
to define "no hope of recovery." That means when the person cannot
survive. Terri Schiavo could survive, and did--for 15 years. "No hope
of recovery" in halacha does NOT refer to the case where a person will
not fully recover. If a stroke victim or accident victim remains, say,
paralyzed after the trauma, but can live for years, you do not say,
"He will never walk again, there is no hope of recovery, therefore let
him die."

 -Toby Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 12:56:02 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: schiavo case

Gershon Seif <gershonseif@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, Dayan of the Agudah in the Midwest,
> was asked the following:

> Are the umos haolom guilty of murder in cases of brain death when they
> pull the plug? He answered they are not obligated to seek out a Jewish
> beis din to determine what is considered being alive. They are obligated
> to use their own legal system to attempt to arriving at truth. Then
> he added, I too, if I were just using common sense, would have told
> you that when someone is brain dead, they are considered dead and you
> could pull the plug. It is only the Torah that teaches us that this
> person is considered alive, and the umos haolam are not obligated to
> follow the conclusions of our beis din. That which for us is murder,
> for them might actually be merciful.

That may well be but the Torah community cannot be seen endorsing
mercy killings for Goyim, even if it is permissible for them. We need
to maitain the same moral high ground for the socety around us as we
do for ourselves if a major segment of society has that as their own
value. The fact is that the religious Christian community has that exact
value. Life is to be preserved as long as the patient is breathing. If
we allow the government to begin down the slippery slope of euthanasia
then we oursleves are at risk.

I have been following the developments in the Terri Schiavo case with
complete incredulity. The removal her feeding tube is nothing short of
government sanctioned murder. All the talk about government intervention
in private affairs and "states rights" even by political conservatives
like George Will is besides the point here. There is an elephant in
the room.

Terri Schiavo is alive by any definition... breathing, and her
heart beating without any outside aid. Pulling out here feeding
tube is tantamount to starving her to death. It is pure and simple
euthanasia. If we are going to be a nation of high moral principles
then there is no greater principle than preserving life. And there is
no greater immorality than deliberately ending a life. Quality of life
should never be a consideration in ending a life. We are not God.

A moral society by definition does not take matters of innocent life
into their own hands. It is to be left in the hands of God, no matter
how uncomfortable it is for the living. Michael Schiavo is a selfish
individual who is interested only in relieving his own discomfort...
or is motivated by far worse concerns, and cares not a whit for his wife
Terri. He lives with another woman and had children with her without
the sanction of marriage. And this man wants to kill her. Why?

There is no evidence that she is suffering and therefore no reason
whatsoever to kill her. She has no quality of life? So what?! In a moral
society that should never be the determinant that ends life.

My mother is in the end stages of dementia and barely recognizes me
anymore, let alone anyone else. She has no memory from one moment to
the next. She is on a feeding tube and doesn't even know it. Should we
kill her, too? Once society legitmizes euthanasia that question can
no longer be automatically answered in the negative. When it comes
to issues like the ones debated here, preserving a life should take
precedence over all other issues. The President and congress understand
this as well. Good for them. As of this writing, it remains to be seen
if the federal courts will ultimately see it that way too. I hope so,
but I doubt it. This event will end up leading us down the slippery
slope of moral relativism which can only end up in moral depravity.

Once society allows government sanctioned mercy killings, who will we
eliminate next? Severe Parkinson's or Alzheimer's patients? Late stage
ALS patients? Christopher Reeve? Steven Hawking? Redheads with freckles?


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:36:27 -0600
From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
RE: schiavo case

R' Maryles, I hear you loud and clear. And look at this. It's a Christian
website citing Agudah attempting to save her life saying exactly what you


Go to top.

Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 09:11:56 +0200 (IST)
From: Efraim Yawitz <fyawitz@actcom.co.il>
Re: Avodah V14 #100

On Thu, 24 Mar 2005, akiva.atwood@gmail.com wrote:
> Personal Message:
> Good discussion on what a "theory" is in science

> An Argument's Mutating Terms
> By Steve Olson

Correct, he gives a good definition of 'theory' and examples of its
current misuse, but most of the article is just more of the same
old categorical assertions of the ability of blind chance to produce
phenomenally complex living systems with no more evidence backing them up
than Darwin had before the dawn of biochemistry. Do we have to respect
these kind of people and listen to their dogma just because they may use
words more correctly than some others do? To be honest, this is why I was
somewhat dissatisfied with R. Nosson Slifkin's book before it was banned,
and although I'm very upset with the idea of banning in general and in
this particular one especially since it shows such a wrong and dangerous
obscurantist attitude towards science, I still think that R. Nosson's
book accepts some of the atheist evolutionists' ideas too easily.
Perhaps this is part of what Rav Moshe Sternbuch and others are trying
rather incoherently to get across, that we should be skeptical of ideas
which are presented based on nothing but the authority of 'scientists'.
Of course, they've gone way to far in the other direction, but that
doesn't mean that there isn't a grain of truth in what they perceive.

Just my own $0.02.

Happy Purim,

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >