Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 098

Tuesday, December 29 1998

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:43:55 -0600
From: Avram_Sacks@cch.com
Re: Two rabbinical stories

Regarding the first of the two rabbnical stories, David Glasner asks:

"what does the story tell us about whether the President should be removed
from office?"

It tells us nothing.  The oval office is not a yeshiva and there are other
considerations. Moreover, the anology is inapt.  The implication from the
question is that the president should be removed for having a truly corrupt
character-not because of his adulterous affair, but because he has tried to
avoid criminal culpability through the "letter of the law."    It is funny
how so many in this country are anxious to be critical of those who use
"the letter of the law" the "technicalities" if you will - to avoid
punishment for a crime they may have committed, unless and until those same
critics are themselves unjustly accused of a crime.     Those
"technicalities" protect you, me, and everyone else in this country.    As
many on this list are probably aware, in many instances, the
"technicalities" in halacha are far more stringent then they are within
United States legal system.  For example, the stringent requirements for
aidim and hatra-ah in halacha, would probably nullify most if not all
convictions in this country.   The entire jurisprudence regarding
confessions in this country would be wiped out if halacha governed, since
halacha does not contemplate the use of confessions.    Is it "corrupt" to
avail oneself of the very protections that are part and parcel of our legal
fabric, particularly when those protections are far less stringent than
what halacha contemplates?  I don't believe so.   But, "what about his
CHARACTER?" you ask.    Yes, it was wrong of him to carry on this
adulterous relationship with the intern, but, once confronted, it was not
wrong for him to try and protect his wife and daughter (even though he was
also protecting himself in the process) by prevaricating about a matter
that should have never been pursued in the first place.  [It should never
have been persued becaue it was way beyond Starr's original mandate; and it
was legally immaterial in the Paula Jones case according to Judge Wright.]

The story is a nice story.  Indeed, one can learn from it that it is not
sufficient to obey only just "the letter of the law."  But if the issue
here is one of character, then I would suggest that to lie about a private
matter that affects only one's family is not as bad as it is to lie about
matters of state that affect an entire nation.   But, I think Iran/Contra
is beyond the parameters of this list.  Also, what about the characters of
those who would impeach or convict a president for a crime that they
themselves have also commited?   Since the issue is that of character, I
refer here to the moral "crime" of concealing -- until confronted with
undeniable evidence - inappropriate sexual relationships.  Shouldn't Hyde
resign?   Why did Livingston allow himself to be elected speaker and wait
until he was confronted to resign?    And, here's one for you:  now that
Livingston plans to resign, the political pundits have reported that the
front runner to replace him is none other than....David Duke.  Remember
him?  [for those that don't, he is a former (and maybe still current) Ku
Klux Klanner whose racist views do not belong in any elected body.]  Oh,
and what about the character of one who would surreptitiously and illegally
record a telephone conversation in order to get even with a former boss?
What about the character of those who would use such evidence?    So, NO,
the presdident should not resign.  Nor should he be convicted.  And, it was
a supreme waste of taxpayer's money for Starr, Rep. Bob Barr, and their GOP
cronies to pursue this exercise in what has appropriately been termed
"sexual Mc Carthyism."

Avram Sacks

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:30:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@IDT.NET>
Re: Avodah V2 #97

> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
> I don't know. I don't know enough about Hungarian Chassidus. But you are
> probably right. I think, however, that we may likely find parallels in
> Breslov if we look.

===> There is an important distinction: They did not *deify* the Rebbe in
any manner.  They simply felt that nobody could fill the Rebbe's place and
thet the Rebbe would "look out for them" up in Heaven.  Seems to me to be
a very significant difference.

> I don't know how they "prove" it vis a vis the preceding Rebbes, but
> regarding the last Rebbe I think they prove the matterr by evidence of his
> erudition and accomplishments.

===> As we are all aware, if we use "erudition and accomplishemnts", there
are LOTS of people that (I could argue) get the "golden ring".  The
problem is -- in part -- that the claim seems almost circular.  They are
so desperate to "enshrine" *their* Rebbe as the Yechida Klalis that they
have to stake HIS erudition above all others...

> Again, my expertise is limited, but manifestations include phenomena such
> as shirayim and other forms of dveykus via the Rebbe.

===> I still do not see that as equivalent to what we are talking about
here.  In that case, we are discussing how the Rebbe "helps" the Followers
achieve D'Veykus... But the concept that their Rebbe us *the* Yechida
Klalis (with all that implies) seems much more muted.



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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:35:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@IDT.NET>
Re: Avodah V2 #97

> From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
> For the last few days I have been pondering two stories about prominent
> rabbinic figures.
> The first one, I heard many years ago -- when I was in high school, I think.  It
> concerns a Rosh Yeshiva who has just learned that one of his students has
> been carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a woman of illl repute.
> Shocked by this revelation, the Rosh Yeshiva calls in the student and asks
> him if the report is true.  When confronted with the charge, the student readily
> admits its truth.  Shaken by the student's unabashed admission, the Rosh
> Yeshiva questions him further.  Don't you realize, my son, how serious it is to
> have such a relationship with a gentile woman?  Ha-boel aramit, kanaim
> pogin bo.  Chazal curse one who engages in relations with a gentile woman. 
> The student responds calmly.  Oh no, rebi, I made sure that the woman was
> not a gentile.  She is definitely Jewish.  The Rosh Yeshiva could not believe
> his ears.  Gevalt!  My dear boy, this is even worse.  Don't you know that it is
> an issur karet to have relations with any Jewish woman who has not gone to
> the mikvah?  The student replied.  Oh no, Rebi, don't worry.  I also made
> sure that the woman went to the mikvah each time that I saw her, so you see
> nothing that I did violated any issur.  Upon heariang this, the Rosh Yeshiva
> replied coldly.  Yes you are right.  You did not violate any issur.  Just the
> same, I want you out of my yeshiva immediately and don't come back.  Later
> when asked why he threw the student out of the yeshiva only after he found
> out that the student had gone to such lengths to avoid violating any actual
> issur, the Rosh Yeshiva replied that he could understand and forgive
> someone who succumbed to temptation.  Such a person is capable of
> teshuva.  However, only a person with a truly corrupt character would resort
> to an elaborate scheme to be able to engage in immoral conduct while
> staying within the letter of the law.  Someone so corrupt is a danger to the
> moral well-being of the rest of the yeshiva.  
> Does anyone else recall hearing such a story?  If so, is it based on fact? 
> Who was the Rosh Yeshiva?  Finally, what does the story tell us about
> whether the President should be removed from office?

===> I have also heard of this story but (a) it was NOT so many years ago
and (b) I never heard who the Rosh Yeshiva was.  I recall that I was very
disturbed by the story since it implied that it is "better" to commit
Issurei Kares rather than plan to commit lesser Issurim.  I thought that
the Rosh Yeshiva in the case simply decided that such a "calculating
person" woudl not do teshuva.  And, the question that comes to mind: Would
the R"Y have been so quick to condemn if it had been his own son??  I
cannot draw any conclusions about Clinton -- but I do think that we have
to consider what this story says about our OWN hashkafot...


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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:48:28 -0500
From: Joel Margolies <margol@ms.com>
Clinton and subjects

Hi All - 

I have 2 points to address - 

1)  I beg people to take a moment to edit the subject lines of their
posts to ensure that the thread is easily identifiable as opposed to
leaving something like "Re: Avodah V2 #97"  It would be wonderful if a
thread had the same subject the entire time as it would facilitate
better archival and sorting.

2)We have just seen 2 posts referring to Mr. Clinton.  Although I have
strong feelings about the proceedings and would LOVE to vent them to a
captive audience - I don't think it is appropriate for this forum.  This
is only  my opinion, but if you agree, please try and be koveish your
own yetzer to vent and refrain from any more posts on the matter.  I'd
love to discuss it privately with all and any who'd like...  (beware -
you'll get an earful)


Take care,



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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:51:31 -0500 (EST)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Ben Ish Chai-Chida

Moshe Shulman and I once discussed this topic in another forum. I think we
got it to boil down to the definition of mitzvah.

Does the word mitzvah apply only to chiyuvim and avoiding issurim, or also to what we've been calling for the last century or so a mitzvah kiyumis (s'char if
you do it, but no penalty if you don't). IIRC, Moshe wanted to limit the word
"mitzvah" only to the mandatory, which is what is implied by a simple
translation. Therefore, how could a woman say "asher kidshanu bimitzvosav
vitzivanu" on a mitzvah asei shehazman g'ramah, which is for her a mitzvah
kiyumis. I argued that we should be more inclusive.

Interestingly, the people who I've found discuss "mitzvah kiyumis" (R' Chaim
Brisker, R' Shim'on Shkop, R' Dovid Lifshitz, to name the few I've seen) are
all from kehillos that ruled that women would make a b'rachah.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287    Help free Yehuda Katz, held by Syria 6019 days!
micha@aishdas.org                         (11-Jun-82 - 29-Dec-98)
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.
http://www.aishdas.org -- Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 15:14:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@IDT.NET>
Re: Avodah V2 #97

> As a further aside in line with Micah's observation about the changing
> role/authority of Sanhedrin at that time, even R. Eliezer was not tried as a
> zaken mamre.  He was "merely" put in nidui.

===> I don't think that proves anything.  I am pretty sure that R.
Eliezer was *after* the churban and I think that you can only have a
Zakain Mamre when the Sanhedrin is in the Lishkat Hagazit in the Beth


> David Glasner
> dglasner@ftc.gov

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 16:35:04 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #97

On Tue, 29 Dec 1998, Zvi Weiss wrote:

> ===> There is an important distinction: They did not *deify* the Rebbe
> in any manner.  They simply felt that nobody could fill the Rebbe's
> place and thet the Rebbe would "look out for them" up in Heaven.  Seems
> to me to be a very significant difference. 

I am not so sure about that. Last time  I was in Israel - this summer - it
was remarkable how much graffiti with the slogan "Na-Nach-Nachma-Nachman
Me'Oman you saw all over the country. Someone obviously holds this
incantation has remarkable powers. Do not forget that visits to R'
Nachman's kever are said to have wonderful spiritual ramifications, and
that saying his "Tikkun Kelali" has wondrous cleansing effect as well. We
really need more info from someone knowledgable on Breslov. Someone who
has the DBS CD that has R' Nachman's seforim could start us off with a big
favor by searching for words like "yechida" and "kelalis!"

> ===> As we are all aware, if we use "erudition and accomplishemnts",
> there are LOTS of people that (I could argue) get the "golden ring". 
> The problem is -- in part -- that the claim seems almost circular.  They
> are so desperate to "enshrine" *their* Rebbe as the Yechida Klalis that
> they have to stake HIS erudition above all others... 

To add to your complaint - the Rebbe has been coronated, by many
Lubavitchers as a Novi. They then go on to claim - in circular
reasoning - that since he prophesied that he is Moshiach, and he is a
Novi, he must be right. But I think it is just the Meshichists who believe
this nonsense. My uncles are perfectly willing to countenance that the
Rabbe may have been wrong.

On a related note, R' Teitz has decreed that Lubavitchers must renounce
the concept of yechida kellalis to be accepted in the mainstream.

1. This is not 100% fair, as this concept is not unique to Chabad.
2. It is essentially impossible. It is the equivalent of askinga Brisker
to remounce the concept of "tzvei dinim!"


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: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 17:38:26 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: Avodah V2 #94

>The application to a specific individual in each generation, I believe, is
>based on a Zohar, "ispashtusa d'Moshe b'kol dor." That Moshe was the
>"kelali" - or yechida - for his generation, I am sure can be found
>in Chabad, but I know only where it is in R' Tzadok - see Tzidkas
>HaTzaddik 159-160. (This stands contrary to that written by another Avodah
>contributor, R' Moshe Shulman, that the concept of yechida kelalis was
>never applied to Moshe Rabbeinu - sorry!)

I will look upu your source. Mine is Lekutei Torah from the Ari, end of parshas

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 17:40:34 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: Avodah V2 #90

>> I would wager you are not correct. There is a story told that once the
>> Ropshitzer Rov went to tashlich as the Chozeh from Lublin was returning.
>> The Chozeh asked him where he was going. The Ropshitzer Rov answered, 'I
>> am going to pick up the Rebbe's aveiros.'
>If anything, the ma'aseh proves my point! The Ropshitzer held that the
>Chozeh had no "real" aveiros - you don't pick up bona fide kelipos, no
>matter from whom! Rather, that that which vis a vis the Chozeh might be a
>kelipa was really a nitzotz for anyone else. Dok v'tishkach!

No the meaning is that even a Rebbe has sins. However, those things that are a
sin for a Tzaddik, would be mitzvos for another Jew.

>> I don't know who told you that, but it is an error. The reason has to do
>> with sufik brochos. (BTW I DO make a shehakol on potatoes.)
>What safek?

I will answer later when I have looked up the source again.

>> But what of those who pray to the picture of the L. Rebbe, and expect to
>> have their prayers heard?
>Indubitably, they are kofrim in one of the ikkarei emuna, not to daven to
>any entity other than HKB"H. But didn't you know that?

Yes I do know that. This appeared in Beis Moshiach, which I was told reflects
the view of a not insignificant number of people in CH.

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 17:41:16 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: chasid vs misnagad

>On Mon, 28 Dec 1998, Moshe Shulman wrote:
>> ALL non-Chabad chassidim believe (as the Baal Shem Tov) that diveikus can be
>> acheived without the intellectual contemplation that Chabad says is required.
>> With that said, ALL non-Chabad Chassidim divide avodah into two classes. 1.
>> The majority of the people whose ikkar avodah is emunah peshutah etc. 2. The
>> benei aliyah who delve into 'intellectual' aspects of chassidus.
>Can someone explain the idea of emunah pesutah as applied here, because I
>assumed in meant emunah pesutah as opposed to understanding philosopical
>and metaphysical proofs to Hashem and achieving devekus through theses. My
>confusion is that the Baal Shem Tov doesn't stess emunah pesutah (as
>defined by me) alone he says that one needs both types of emunah. He says

Yes, the Baal Shem Tov stressed that BOTh were needed, HOWEVER both he and all
the other talmidei HaBaal Shem Tov (excluding the Baal HaTanya) emphisised
emunah peshutah (elokei avoseinu) for the majority of people. There is a
famous letter from Rebbe Avraham Kalisker to The Baal HaTanya dealing with
this point specifically.

Recently there was a sefer put out by some talmidim of the Alexander Rebbe in
Israel called 'Derech HaChasiddus' which deals with what Chassidus is about
(although it is based on Peshischa what it says is valid overall.)

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 17:45:40 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: Avodah V2 #90

>> Yes, but that yechida should be in their Rebbe, is new. The Ari does not
>> say that it is in the gadol hador. Moshe DID NOT have it.
>Addressed by me elsewhere (response to R' Zvi Weiss). See Tzidkas
>HaTzaddik 159-160.

I looked it up and I believe you have misunderstood it. (In fact what he says
agrees with the Ari that only Moshiach will be such a nashamah.) HE states
openly that Moshe was kollel only the talmidei chochomim. That is not a
nashamah kollilos.

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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Date: Tue, 29 Dec 98 19:38:51 EST
Imminent arrival of Moshiach

It is only a notion of belief in what the Lubavitcher Rebbe said since
Chof-Ches Nissan 5751 -- before that point (and I wasn't frum then)
it was more an issue of our avodah should be b/c Moshiach could be here
imminently we should conduct ourselves accordingly and we shouldn't worry
about how could this generation be the one, etc.

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Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 21:29:08 +0000
From: David Riceman <driceman@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
inaccurate summaries?

Here's what I said Dr. Press wrote:

>When I saw Dr. Press's comment that one traditionally wastes one's
>entire time learning until after high school I became somewhat nervous
>about my son.

Here's what Dr. Press said he wrote:

This is a rather dramatic distortion of what I said.  I said that most
people in the US do not begin serious learning until
the age of 17 or 18.  I did not say that they wasted their time nor did
I say anything about the quality of the educational
system.  I merely said that the intense devotion to a subject that any
area requires for mastery, much less Torah, does not begin 
for most American boys until they finish high school.  I do believe that
our educational system has many demonstrated 
shortcomings, but that is far from saying that one wastes one's entire

Here's what he wrote:

 In the US
> serious learning does not begin for most people until the age of 17 or 18 and it is obviously not possible for
> anyone who cares about learning to get a sense of his intellectual and characterological status in learning until
> he does it for at least a few years.  At that point the majority of men in our community decide to learn for a few
> years after marriage and then enter the outside world; a relatively small proportion decide to continue. 

  I think my reading was not at all distorted.
  Why shouldn't we assume that only the minority, whom Dr. Press
ignores, are msugallim to be become talmidei chachamim? So far no one is
this debate has quoted the passage "kol talmid sheaino roeh siman bracha
b'chamesh shanim shuv eino roeh".  Chazal did not exclude high school
from the five year limit.

Here's my summary of what Dr. Press wrote:

>  Having read a few more Avoda issues, I was also shocked at Dr. Press's
>tentative suggestion that Roshei Kollel encourage the bulk of their
>students to desist from earning a living to provide a more encouraging
>atmosphere for the minority.
Here again is a statement that Mr. Riceman made, not I.  

Here's what Dr. Press wrote:

While I sometimes share your irritation at Roshei Yeshiva who neglect to
counsel talmidim we also have to realize that they may know better than
we do the conditions necessary to produce a cadre of scholars.  It is
clear that by creating an atmosphere which encourages everyone to try
their hand at long term learning we have a greater chance of producing
scholars than by alternative routes. 

Again, I think my summary warranted.  Dr. Press here has abandoned his
assumption that Roshei kollel don't know, and is suggesting that the
"atmosphere which encourages everyone" is conducive to those who can
become taalmidei chachamim to do so.

David Riceman

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