Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 054

Monday, November 16 1998

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 17:53:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@ymail.yu.edu>
guidelines shaped by precedent

> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
> Subject: Re: criticizing Avot et al
> and analysis, Rah Rah! Nevertheless, there must be guidelines shaped by
> precedent. What they are, may be ambiguous, and, are here, obviously a
> subject of contention... 

"guidelines shaped by precedent" a very good formulation from my point of

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Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 21:53:21 -0500
From: gershon.dubin@juno.com (Gershon Dubin)

>For those interested  someone posted an article on our bulletin board
>(Tel Aviv University)
	computer bulletin board <g>?

 with a piece from Yated Neeman that gives a psak 
>that one is prohibited to use any computer or CD rom whether for
personal or for business use no matter what the application and that it
is in the same category as television. The psak is signed by 7 rabbis
(for the few I knew associated with Eida haCharedit) including Rav
Fischer and Rav Moshe Sternbuch.
	Do the institutions with which these signatories are associated keep
their files on paper in huge file cabinets rather than in computer data
bases?  Do they type letters on typewriters instead of word processors?  
I have grown accustomed to the "assering of the Internet" but this is a
tad much.


You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com/getjuno.html
or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]

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Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 21:48:44 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
New Topic?: Israel

I think we all follow the news in Israel with avid concern. I would like
to express bewilderment. I get the Arutz-7 News everyday, but do not
always read it, because it turns me off.

I, of course, attended a Yeshiva loosely affiliated with Po'alei Agudath
Yisroel, ob"m (R' Avi Parnes has written that Chorev is still asssociated
with the movement, but for all intents and purposes it seems elsewise to
have expired). But I am bewildered by the militant NRP philosophy and its
nominal relationship to R' AY Kook. Is there some source in R' Kook's
writings for placing land and sovreignity thereover as a value over and
above Kiruv of Chilonim to Torah? For, it seems to me, personally, that it
would be more in line with R' Kook's famous line that true tzaddikim do
not complain about evil, but rather add righteousness, to set up
hitnachluyot in Tel Aviv to be marbitz Torah than in Chevron.

I know others have attributed this weltanschaunng to R' ZY Kook, as
opposed to the father. I certainly cannot see it originating in the R' Y
Reines/R' M Bar-Ilan stream of Mizrachi thought. I know others have linked
this to Lubavitch as a form of "Messianism" (I guess sociological evidence
of this link is evident in photos of hafganot that show Lubavichers and
Gush Emunimniks together in common cause - ironic in light of the Rebbe
Rashab's virulent anti-zionism, which I think we have discussed earlier
somewhere). But, essentially, li'lmod basi, if someone can enlighten me as
to history and precedent.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 15:19:03 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il>
computers:Harm vs benefit

Eli Turkel wrote:

> For those interested  someone posted an article on our bulletin board
> (Tel Aviv University) with a piece from Yated Neeman that gives a psak that
> one is prohibited to use any computer or CD rom whether for personal or for
> business use no matter what the application and that it is in the same category
> as television.

I don't think the above summary does justice to the article or the issues.. There is no
blanket prohbition of the use of computers  -" no matter what the appliciation" - only
a strong description of the harm of various activities that the computer is capable of

Let me quote the item in a little more detail.

"Title The Danger of Computers.
 1. The Internet is prohibited even for Parnossa. It should not exist in a Jewish house
or business. It contains deadly poison... and anyone who uses it enters into difficult
nisyonos - and even without intending it is possible to view pornographic material.
Many Jewish houses have already been destroyed because they brought in the internet
even for business and did not withstand the temptation..
2. The severe permanent cherem which gedolei yisroel have pronounced on that
destructive entity - television. Applies with full force to computers which are set up
so that they are capable of receiving television. [a special video card is required to
receive television]
3. Similarly is the severe prohibition which applies to videos which all gedolei
yisroel have prohibited which fully applies to movies or video clips (even those that
have been properly censored) that are available on computer disks. It is encumbent upon
parents and educators to eliminate all videos even those in yiddish - they are all
treif and muktzeh machmas miyus.
4. All CD's - including educational ones, encyclopedias, collections of clip art and
graphics are also extremely dangerous because they contain pictures of pritzus, avoda
zara, heresy, murder and associated activities. [I don't see this applies to Bar Ilan's
or DBS or Davka's Torah CD's or others which do not have the above problematic
5. Computer games - many which contain material which damages and destroys - even if
religious people claim they have been properly censored or selected. They contain
disgusting pictures, video clips, fighting and other disgusting things - therefore it
is prohibited to bring them into a Jewish house.

Experience has shown that even clean computer games which have no negative material -
bring a corruption of the mind and disrupt proper education besides being an opening to
the improper computer material. Therefore it is important for parents to supervise
their children and to warn them not to bring computer games into the house.

Therefore, he who has the ability not to bring a computer at all into his house will
save himself and family from severe temptations, seductions and pitfalls - and will
assist in raising his children to Torah and pure yiras Shamayim"

I don't think anyone can disagree if with the potenial harm of the computer.Therefore
like everything else a costs-benefits analysis must be done. Different community will
legitimately have different weightings.  This issue is not new, nor are the gedolim who
are well aware of the harm that has occurred through the computer - naive, primitives,
or narrow minded reactionaries. The tone of the postings concerning this issue have
been inappropriate.

                                                           Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 07:39:26 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re: Avodah V2 #51 emulation

>>You should defintely NOT emulate this! Without any discussion of whether 
Abraham was right or not this was done by G-d's decree.
I would hate to see modern people throw out bad influences from their 
home and say that they are emulating the avot.
Similarly, it is a preversion to say we can throw out the Arabs because 
of how Joshua conquered the land.

Not everything that the avot or moshe or anyone else did is worth 
emulating. There were special circumstances why G-d saw fit for a 
certain action to be taken and it may be a once in a universe occasion. 
We should learn lessons from it (if in the Torah it is for the all 
generations) but not simply copy it.

Eli Turkel<<

I essentially concur.  Our role models may have upon occasion engaged in 
generally unaccpetable behaviros , but a had a valid impetus (e.g. Nevu'o) EG no
one thinks it's correct to honor Hashem by sacrificing their children, 
nevertheless, Avrohom is commanded to do the Akeido..

BTW, I gave a dvar torah re: Eliezer's tefilloh for a shidduch and the nichush 
discussion in the BT (I forget the daf)

1)Essentially,are Eliezer's actions emulatable? 
2)If not was he GUILTY of some wrongdoing?

1) No this behavior is generally speaking Nichus 
2) Eliezer himself was not guilty of Nichus 

Q:  How:
A: Avrohomm handed Elizer a free pass?  The see BEr. 24, v. 40, Hashem will 
send a Mol'och.  Avrohom (wtiness the Akeido) had a chazoko of being a novi.  
When he says there will be a mal'och, it's a done deal.  (the necessity for 
histadlus is an intersting issue for discussion...)

Conclusion, Nevei'im made excpetions (horoas sho'o perhaps)?

Similar with Yaakov and the theft of the Brocho.  It was not some sort of 
nefarious plot on Yaakov Ovinu's part; rather he was following Rivko's direct 
orders (Rivko was both his Mom AND a nevio (see vateilch lifrsoh es Hashem)  
Granted, he might have protested more vigorously... yet I still hold him 
blameles,  Al Pi RSR Hirsch this was a "charade" or play to illustrate 
grahpically to Yitzchok re: how naively he perceived of Eisov. makes it all the 
more clear as to why Rivko perpertrated the fraud.  This was Rivko's mos 
ingeious tehcnique to teach Yitschok about his own gullibility.  That Hochocho  
without confrontation and got the message across, kept sholom bayis in that it 
avoided a dispute.  (remember Soro and Avrohom talking about their wayard child 
Yishmoel?)  Rivko is to be commended and Yaakov held blameless.  Had Yaakov 
pointed out to Eisov and Yitzchok that he was acting under Rivko's orders, he 
would have diminished her kovod, and it's also ok to "lie" for Shalom Bayis 
(rembmer v'ani zokanti).

I dispute that Yaakov was held culpable by Hashem for his actions. Granted 
that, Eisov had a vendetta, but I see no reason to blame Yaakov.  In fact, the 
text alone - wihtout any stretching - seems to show that Rivko initiated the 
charade and that Yitzchok gave that charade his blessing (quite literally I 
might add) so why punish Yaakov? 

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 12:17:00 -0500
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Halakha/Learning from the Avot

Chana Luntz writes:
>What worries me is the idea that one can go out and learn from the Torah
>which of the deeds of the Avos to emulate, without recourse to the whole
>halachic literature.

>As these two examples show - we need the guidance of Chazal and the
>halachic literature to know which of the ma'asei avos we are in fact
>permitted to emulate and which we may not.

>Thus it seems to me, before we even get into the question of positive or
>negative parshanut, we need to have it clear in our minds that even if
>we learn from the Avos something that is clearly praiseworthy - it may
>not necessarily be appropriate for us to act accordingly.

My initial reaction to your post was one of severe disagreement.  But,
upon reflection, I think that what you are criticizing (=criticising) is
mindless imitation, rather than thoughtful emulation (a distinction
which R. Carmy has already delineated in a slightly different context).

You note that Halakha prohibits us from making bamot and sacrificing
children, a list to which one could add other examples, such as marrying
two sisters.  Of course, a fascinating and often fantastic stream of
parshanut has developed focused on the issue of reconciling the behavior
of the Avot with halakhic literature.  And, unfortunately, there are
people who will make crude analogies of current-day situations to those
described in Tanakh, offering simplistic solutions to complex problems.

However, what (I believe/hope) most people on this list mean when they
speak of emulating the Avot is not deriving guidance on issues of issur
ve-heter, but discerning patterns of behavior, in a word, virtue.  We
study the ma'asei Avot intently and seriously with an eye to uncovering
the moral courage and ethical sensitivity they demonstrate.  (As this
list has recently discussed, the Avot were not infallible, but I think
this makes the study of their behavior more instructive rather than less
and does not in any case diminish their grandeur.)

Elie G. recently mentioned the first Rashi on the Torah, which asks why
the Torah does not begin at ha-hodesh ha-zeh lakhem.  Of course there is
more than one answer to this question.  My Rebbe has suggested that one
answer, different from that offered by Rashi there, is the ma'amar Hazal
Rashi quotes in Hayyei Sarah: yafeh sihatan shel avdei Avot mi-Toratan
shel benei banim.  There is more to the Torah than the arba amot of
halakhah.  As is well-known, this perspective was repeatedly enunciated
by Ramban, and, in a broader sense, is precisely what animated Rambam to
study philosophy, ibn Ezra to study astrology and R. Bahya to write
Hovot ha-Levavot.  Closer to our own time, the quest for spirituality
inspired both the hasidic and musar movements.

Indeed (if I may climb upon my soapbox), I think many in the halakhic
community today suffer from an orientation (also criticized by my Rebbe)
which assumes that every answer in life can be found in the Shulhan
Arukh if only one knows how to find it.  Perhaps our listowner can
expand further upon this, as the very purpose of his organization -- and
avodah -- (as I understand it) is to address the integration of
spirituality with halakha.

It is always a pleasure to find that RYGB and I agree and I think on
this point we do.

Kol tuv,


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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 11:43:49 -0500
From: Harry Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>

Eli Turkel wrote in a post discussing an article he saw in the yated 

> one is prohibited to use any computer or CD rom whether for personal or for
> business use no matter what the application and that it is in the same category
> as television.
> The psak is signed by 7 rabbis (for the few I knew associated with Eida haCharedit)
> including Rav Fischer and Rav Moshe Sternbuch.

At the risk of discussing the trivial and being on the wrong side of the 
issue, I would like to write about a subject we are all familiar with... 
Television.  I know the issue was discussed to death in a peripheral way 
on the avodah list in the "TV and YU" thread, but I wanted to tackle the 
subject head on, especially in light of the above post by Eli Turkel 
about the Yated article in which members of the Eidah Hacharedis assurs 
computers and compares computers with Television.  My own children 
disagree with me on the subject, to one extent or another.  The Argument 
I put forth here can be made in the same way about the Internet (I 
believe this is the main objection of those who assur computers.

I suppose Television is the quintessential medium which represents 
American culture, at both it's best and worst.  (And everything in 
between.)  I have refrained from commenting before, because I feel that 
I could easily be attacked(and I don't enjoy being attacked) from the 
right AND the left and, indeed, many educators in the secular world.  
Television is an easy target.  Marshall McLuhan's famous appellation 
"The medium IS the message" and Newton F. Minnow, Chairman Of the FCC 
(in the sixties) reference to TV as the "vast wasteland" gives weight 
(not that they need any) to the argument of Many of our Gedolei Israel 
that TV is assur.  I have heard the tape of R. Shimon Schwab, ZTL, 
speaking about the subject and decrying the fact that the most frequent 
activities depicted on Television are the 3 Yaharog VelAl Yavors of 
Shfichas Domim, Avodah Zarah, and Giluy Arayos. ("Turn the dial and 
Presto...  the Re-ach of Avodah Zarah enters your home.").  And... what 
about the bitul Torah that results from watching even the supposedly 
innocuous programs of the fifties?  My own rebbe, R. Aaron Soloveichik, 
has railed against the filth and smut emanating from the TV.   I,  
myself, have spoken in the same vein.  There is a lot of "Bad" about 

So, what's so good about it?  How can anyone possibly own a television, 
and be considered a Torah Jew in good standing?  Well, R. Aaron owns 
one. So did R. Yitzchok Ruderman, ZTL.  Those are only two that I know 
about.  I'm sure there are more. The obvious answer is that Marshall 
McLuhan was wrong.  The medium is not the message.  Television,  per se, 
is nothing more than a tool that can be used for good or evil.  It can, 
also, all too easily, be abused.  How many times...  have I  heard R. 
Aaron speak publicly about something positive that he saw on Television. 
To quote a cliche "Television can inform and entertain".  For example, 
the largest concentration of funds, energy, and human effort is expended 
on television news.  The ability to hear the news on the radio or read 
it in the newspaper doesn't give the same kind of perspective as the 
ability to use more of your senses in "seeing and hearing the news" You 
have immediacy and facial expression as well as reaction to the news 
event.  Radio and the print media do not give this perspective... 
witness the Kennedy-Nixon Debates of the 1960 Presidential campaign.  
Those who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon won the debate.  
Those who saw it on Television thought Kennedy won the debate.  There is 
also the entertainment value of drama and comedy.  True - that the 
creators of most of content of entertainment television have core 
beliefs which are anti- Torah and anti religious.  However, it is not a 
universally evil hashkafa.  There are many secular humanistic values 
which are not anti- Torah and can have a positive influence on those who 
watch programs created in Hollywood.  Just to name a few of those 
values: equality of mankind, equal opportunity of the sexes, Seeking 
justice, sense of fair play a striving to "do the right thing, just to 
name a few.  Invariably while watching an issues (such as abortion and 
euthanasia) oriented drama on Television with one or more of my 
children, we would very often discuss whether the Drama promoted Torah 
values or not;  whether we would agree with societies interpretation of 
right and wrong.  

An excellent way to relieve the stress of ones day is to watch a comedy 
and laugh.

Another ,less accurate benefit of watching television is so one can 
monitor society's attitudes on various and eclectic issues which may 
intersect our lives. I believe it is important to know what the society 
in which we live, thinks about the issues of the day.

I have often heard the argument that, true, Television does have some 
redeeming qualities. ( I even saw a statement to this effect  in "The 
Jewish Observer" on an article bashing Radio.) But, the vast majority of 
Television  is so bad that it's just not worthy of considering taking it 
into one's home.

Well, we can quibble over the relative merit of Television.  We can all 
agree that it isn't totally evil or totally good. The question of what 
percentage of it is good vs. evil is up for debate and is relatively 
subjective in it's determination.    So... what to do. 

This is where common sense comes into play...  common sense and knowing 
ones own strengths and weaknesses.  We should not throw away a valuable 
tool, but we should instead use it wisely.  We should not abuse it.  
Anything of even the greatest value can be abused.  Used wisely, 
television can be a great tool as in the examples I gave above.  Abused, 
Television can turn an individual into a mushbrain at best, and an 
amoral degenerate at worst.  Just like the Atom can be used for good 
(i.e. as in generating fuel) or evil (such as Nuclear Bomb), so can 

Television ownership engenders responsibility.  Responsibility to 
control it for the good in our children's and our own T.V. watching 
habits, and responsibility to society at large to protest and make our 
views known to legislators, corporate sponsors, and advocacy groups when 
TV goes in amoral directions. 


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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 15:17:00 -0500
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Avraham and Sarah as team

Eli Turkel cites:

 >a "persuh partly from Rav Mottie Alon and from other sources.
>His claim is that Avraham is unique among the avot in that Avraham
>and sarah were a team. Together they converted gereim, etc.
>The only time they disagreed was over Ishmael and G-d decided that
>sarah was right.

This theme was developed in a different fashion by the Rav (R. Y.B.
Soloveitchik) in a shiur on Hayyei Sarah given in the 1970's.  A
complete summary of the shiur may be obtained from Josh Rapps at
jr@sco.com.  An excerpt is reproduced below:

>This complementary nature and single destiny is the basis of the covanant
>community. We can see this through the relationship of Abraham and
>Sarah. Both were equal parties to the covenant with Hashem. Indeed, at
>times we might be tempted to think that Sarah was the central figure (see
>Rashi on the verse telling Abraham to listen to the voice of Sarah, that
>Abraham was on a lower level, in terms of prophecy, than Sarah was).

>The definition of the Covenantal Community as requiring both Sarah and
>Abraham, man and woman, is also seen at the end of Parshas Lech Lecha.
>Abraham asks that Hashem pass the covenant on to Ishmael, resigning
>himself to remaining childless with Sarah. Hashem answers that Sarah,
>his wife, will bear him a child to be called Isaac, and this child, the
>product of both Sarah and Abraham, will be the recipient of the covenant.
>Ishmael cannot be the recipient of the covenant, because he represented
>only one side of the Covenantal Community, Abraham, but not Sarah.

>Another example is where Hashem appears to Abraham and changes his
>name to indicate he is now the father of all the nations of the world.
>Hashem informs him that the change is effective from the time of
>notification. Later, when Hashem informs Abraham that Sarah's name
>has been changed, it is mentioned in terms of having previously been
>changed. Since the Covenantal Community required both Abraham and
>Sarah, it was impossible to change the name of one without automatically
>affecting the name of the other. Sarah's name was changed automatically
>at the same time Abraham's name was changed. Hashem later simply
>informs Abraham that her name has already been changed as well. Hence
>their names were changed and they were selected together, and only
>together, to achieve covanantal sanctity.

>The Torah describes the connection between them in various stories.
>After Sarah dies, Abraham realizes that with the death of the mother of
>the Covenantal Community, his mission as father of the Covenantal
>Community is drawing to a close. All that is left for him is to act out the
>last part and walk of the historical stage, making way for others to pick up
>the mantle of father and mother of the Covenantal Community. Abraham
>survived Sarah by 38 years. Yet, after the death of Sarah the Torah tells
>us just 2 stories involving Abraham [in relation to his role as father of the
>Covenantal Community]. The first is the purchase of the burial plot for
>Sarah, the Mearas Hamachpelah, the second is the story of finding a wife
>for Isaac. Indeed, the latter story is more important in the context of the
>relationship of Rebecca and Isaac as the next generation of the
>Covenantal Community. The Torah says that Isaac brought Rebecca into
>the tent of his mother, and she filled the gap left by the death of the
>mother for of the Covenantal Community. Once again there would be a
>father and a mother for the Covenantal Community. Abraham has now
>moved off the center stage for the remaining 38 years of his life, as he has
>entrusted the destiny of the Covenantal Community to Isaac and Rebecca.

[This summary is copyright 1998 by Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps,
Edison, N.J.]

Kol tuv,


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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 15:49:07 -0500
From: "Ari Z. Zivotofsky" <azz@lsr.nei.nih.gov>
shir hamaalos

Last week someone asked about the source of the 4 pesukim that some
append after shir hama'alos.

Yitzchak Zirkind responded "See Tur OC 51 and Shulchan Aruch Harov

Since I am also interested in their origin, I checked. I was unable to
find anything relevant.
OC 51 seems to discuss only psukei d'zimra.

If anyone has any other info or if Yitzchok could clarify his source I
would appreciate it.

Ari Zivotofsky

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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 23:25:03 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il>
Avos and chinuch

Found an expansion of  Chazal's criticism of the educational technique
of the Avos and further justification for Hirsch's comments. Shemos
Rabba 1,1 and Tanchuma 1,1 both state that Avrahom failed to discipline
Yishmael because of his love for him and that is why Yishmael went off
the derech. Similarly it notes that Yitchok failed to discipline Esav
because he loved him. Dovid failed to discipline Avshalom and Adoniyahu
and they went off the derech. In contrast, because Avrahom disciplined
Yitzchok and Yitzchok disciplined Yaakov they became tzadikim. It also
states that the reason Yishmael was kicked out without proper provisions
was because the love had turned to hatred.

                      Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 17:12:28 -0600 (CST)
From: Cheryl Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
more legs for the kli yakar

While reviewing pesachim I came across the sugya on 8b about shluchai
mitzvos aino nizakin. the gemara is clear that one is safe at night alone
if they are doing a mitzva(see also tos 3b dh vyaskem) therefore, if Rabbi
Yitzchak learns that one shouldn't be out at night from here it is clear
he felt that Yaakov wasn't doing a mitzva, yet the torah hints to a reason
of why he went back ie pachim katanim, it's unlikely that the torah is
hinting to a reshus and we know its not a mitzva--so the kli yakar has
basis to indicate a fault is being taught at this point. My attempt to
justify the kli yakar is because I'm not as bold As RYGB to just dismiss
him, and I would say his word can be put into the realm of Divrei Elokim
Chaim and thus worthy of understanding and justifying.
Elie Ginsparg

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