Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 058

Wednesday, May 19 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 14:34:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Avodah vs. Milachah

According R' SR Hirsch, /ayin-beis-dalet/ is related to /aleph-beis-dalet/,
and means making oneself tafeil to the task at hand -- literally losing
oneself in one's work. Which is an appropriate term for avodas Hashem.

My intended question was that this doesn't rule out /also/ considering
it melachah -- just as the pasuk uses both "ta'avod" and "melachtecha"
to describe the work week. After all, isn't Avodas Hashem a growing, and
therefore creative, experience?


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for 18-May-99: Shelishi
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 319:20-26
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Eruvin 82a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari II 41-44

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 15:32:24 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Informal Survey re: Eiruv Tavshillin

Esteemed listowner Micha:
In my house, I make the eiruv, but only once my wife stops everything and 
listens -- much like process for being motzi another. That's not necessary, 
though, since b'di'eved you can rely on a neighbor who included the city 
when he spoke the formula. No?<<

I recently attended a MB shiur.  It seems clear that:
1) 1 Eiruv per household is fine. (IOW any spouse will do)
2) The case of guests at homes and at hotels is a bit more involved. 
3) relying on the Rav's Eiruv is strictly bedieved.

What was not so lcear was WHO in the household (IOW wihich spouse) should make 
the eiruv, the cook (usually the wife) or the husband (titular Baal habayis).

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 14:55:00 -0400
From: "Ari Z. Zivotofsky" <azz@lsr.nei.nih.gov>
davening with a minyan

Is there any halachik difference in the requirement to daven with a minyan
(what ever that requirement is) on yom kippur, or other "special" days, vs on
an ordinary day?

Ari Zivotofsky

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 15:04:33 -0400
From: "Rayman, Mark" <mrayman@lehman.com>
13 Ikkarim

Please substitute "lose" for the three occurrences "loose" in my last post.


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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 16:55:29 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com

>>Given this, and what was said by someone else (I forget who, sorry) about the 
13 ikkarim being "accepted" by the observant community only in Yigdal form, why 
do the overwhelming majority of batei din legeyrus make this a condition?  If 
the ger were to come in with a different, alternative theology to the Rambam's, 
would that be acceptable?  

Sholem Berger

Question: Does any major contemporary poseik lemaaseh dispute the Rambam's 
formulation of the Ikkarim?

IOW, isn't a s a done deal that the Rambam's ikkarim aree considered mormative? 
(at least mikan ulehabo.)

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 16:33:19 -0400 (EDT)
From: alustig@erenj.com (Arnold Lustiger)
Re:Israeli Election

There is an aspect to the Israeli election that is nothing short of
astounding, and leads to an interesting hashkafa question...

In the first Knesset 50 years ago, Agudah had ~6 seats, today Degel Hatorah
has ~5. Mizrachi had ~12 seats, today's NRP ~5. 

Shas on the other hand, which was not established until 1985, grew from 0 to
17 seats. It is by far the fastest growing party in Israeli political
history, and now has almost as many seats as the Likud.

A large number, perhaps a majority, of the Shas voters are chozrim
biteshuvah, influenced primarily by one of the many educational or social
institutions set up by the party just for this purpose. Assuming that each
Kneset seat represents 33,000 voters, and assuming that only half of Shas
are chozrim biteshuvah on one level or another, that is 264,000 baalei
teshuvah who have become religious over a period of 14 years.( These numbers
are very conservative).  One can argue about the primitive nature of the
religious commitment of many of them, and the baggage that they bring to
Israeli religious community (dybbuks, kameyos), but they are indeed baalei

Which brings me to the hashkafah question. Many of us (myself included)
refer to the State of Israel as Reishit Zemihat Geulateinu, but without any
strong halakhic or historical proof that a secular state in Israel would be
the precursor to the eschatological era. On the other hand, the Rambam in
Hilkhos Teshuvah says explicitly "ein Yisrael nigalin ellah bitshuvah",
(with pesukim in Devarim almost as explicit); mass teshuvah is a
prerequisite to Moshiach. 

The Rav stated quite firmly that if one does not believe this basic tenet,
his very connection to Knesset Yisrael is tenuous (and remember, the Rav
said this in the early 60's, a time when Orthodoxy was very much on the
defensive; A  teshuvah movement was literally inconceivable in those days
when Orthodox synagogues were getting rid of their mechitzos, and Labor
Zionism was riding high.)

Yet today, we are indeed seeing a mass teshuvah movement  "bechush". Which
leads me to my question - Isn't it Shas rather than the State of Israel
which is really  "reishit zemihat geulateinu" (Aryeh Deri notwithstanding)??? 

Arnie Lustiger

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 16:54:21 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Brisker Torah

47 to the Omer

In a message dated 5/18/99 1:14:57 PM EST, REC writes:

>  I would quibble with that. 

This is another issue that is mostly dependent on the school of thought comes 
from, but nonetheless it's Kday to discuss a bit more.

> Hazal say "Istakal be-Oraita, bara alma."

There are many Lshonos starting from the Mishna in Avos 3:14 (and see T"Y 
there), also in the beginning of the Medrash Rabboh, however this citation is 
from the Zohar Trumah 161, which goes on to say that by learning Torah we 
keep up the world.

>  This does not necessarily imply that a pasuk is a superior re'ayah to
>  physical reality.

What I am saying is that if it says there then we are sure that that is the 

>  Hashem created both and made the world reflect Torah.
>   Therefore, at a minimum, they should be equal in value.  To say
>  otherwise would imply something deficient in the beri'ah as a reflection
>  of Torah.

In addition to the Possuk "Arucha Meretz Medah Urchava Mini Yam", see Psachim 
54a that it is from the 7 things that were created before the world (as 
explained that the meaning of "Kadmah" is in Maaloh).
>  Moreover, the physical reality may be, for us, a better
>  re'ayah.  After all, a pasuk can be understood in more than one way.

That is true when talking about "us," however we are discussing the Chachomim 
who were the Mkablei Hamisoroh.

>  Physical reality is usually less open to interpretation (I am not making
>  an epistemological statement here; I am thinking in terms of the issues
>  discussed in the relevant Gemaras.)

Davkoh in that Gemoroh we see how many factors could have been at play (as 
also in the Gemoroh in Bchoros 8 earlier referred to).

>  I agree, but I still think the Gemara supports R. Chaim.  

Again, there are different ways to view this Gemoroh, so instead of 
dissecting every word I will explain what I was saying, R"Y tells the 
Chachomim I bring you proof from the Torah and you bring  proof from fools, 
he did not say that you bring me proof from worldly things, as that would not 
bother him, after all the world is true, it is a creation of G-d, the problem 
is that there are things in the world that can depend on interpretation, to 
which he said you bring proof from the "Shotim" IOW those who *interpert* 
things out of ignorance, OTOH the Chachomim didn't disagree with that 
argument they said that there is no proof from the Torah, in that case there 
is no proof that they are Shotim. (R"Y proof of the world can be viewed in 
many ways including that he wanted to point out to them how the worldly proof 
is unreliable as his worldly proof contradicts their proof).

As such when there is disagreement between Torah and what seems to be world 
evidence then we know they are "Shotim", further what this shows is that when 
we can bring proof to something a Torah proof is definite, that is also why 
i.e. Psachim 8a the Gemoroh says that the light of a candle is good for 
checking and even though there is no Rayo from the Torah there is a Zeicher 
(as also in Brochos 2b), as a Rayoh from Torah would prove that what we see 
in world is not a misinterpretation.
Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 18:00:01 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Ikkarim - Historical Background

My impression of what prompted the Rambam to "codify" his ikkarim was 
1) For the benefit of those who were "closet" Jews and outward Moslems 
2) To counter the Karaites

#1 parallels today's non-practicing but Orthodox affiliated Jews.  (I.e. they 
are defined by Belief and not by observance.)

#2 parallels the anti-Reform polemics of Gedolim of the 19th & 20th Centuries.  
(IOW, where does the Torah draw the line).

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 18:07:35 -0400
From: Rabbi Yosef Blau <yblau@idt.net>
Israeli elections

May I suggest that the sense that Barak's election is a disaster for
Orthodox Jews is exaggerated.  He is not totally insensitive to
tradition and the issue of a blanket exemption for yeshiva students from
the Israeli draft is not clearcut.  Yaakov Neeman, an Orthodox Jew, when
Minister of Finance in Binyamin Netanyahu's government, spoke about
modifying the present system.  Most observant Israelis acknowledge that
there are serious abuses and that the country's economy is not able to
support so many people who do not work.
Thw differences between the two on returning territories was not enough
to prevent serious consideration of a national unity government in
October.  Barak has clearly made red lines including the non-division of
Yerushalayim.  He is also working toward a broad coalition that will
include religious parties.  Not willing to negotiate with Shas until
Aryeh Deri is not the political head of the party is not anti-religious
prejudice.  Deri was convicted of bribery.
I understand that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews in Israel
supported Netanyahu, but seeing people as enemies is invariably a
mistake especially without any real direct knowledge of the person at
all.  I am not sure that Netanyahu's visiting the the western wall on
the morning of the election is more religiously significant than Barak's
going to the wall the day after his victory.
Sincerely yours,
Yosef Blau

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 18:36:16 -0400
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>

As a simple *bain adom le-chaveiro*, I request that the more prolific
writers who tend to think in paragraphs that go on for 10, 20 and even 30
lines, take the trouble, every so often of inserting breaks in their text so
that readers might not feel assaulted by the sheer volume of your very
important thoughts.

This can be done very readily by use of a the Return key on your keyboard.
You will usually find it on the right side of the alphabet; it is L-shaped
on most keyboards, and frequently has printed on it the word "Enter" with an
arrow, and less frequently the word "Return" (a throwback to ancient days
when a rare implement was used in comunicating by the typed word).

It is recommended that said key be struck *twice* so as to create white
space, again with the goal of easing and speeding the reading of your posts.

Those replying to the posts of others, which replying persons feel compelled
to incorporate the entire text into their own missive, are likewise
requested to take the liberty of incorporating these "Returns" into their

Look how easy chesed is!

Noach Witty

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 18:56:08 -0400
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>
Eiruv Tavshilin

Comments on Micha who believes his wife has to be yotzeh E"T by listening:

I'm not sure it works that way. As Micha noted, one could choose to be
included among all those who reside in the city, and I think the gemara
states that da'as koneh is not needed in zchiya of E"T.

Issue: is wife included with your E"T even *without" zchiya simply because
mezonos are common.  If yes, we can extend the question to visiting in-laws,
where the assumption is that the visitors are samuch al shulchan ha-ba'al
bayis, and that therefore zchiya is not needed??

OTOH, maybe wife needs zchiya/kinyan since E"T is not a shome'a k'oneh type
thing, [though I have not heard that it's necessary (especially
noting:"u-le-adlukei shraga")] in which case, in order properly to
effectuate the kinyan, you actually have to be makne to her in order to
allow her to prepare for shabbos.

Seems to me that if a kinyan is in fact deemed necessary, the husband should
articulate "al menas sha-ain li reshus bo" otherwise you have accomplished
nothing due to ma-she-kansa isha kana ba'alah.

Noach Witty

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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 20:51:50 EDT
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
Re: Brisker Torah

> e.g. Temurah 16a where the Yehoshua uses a pasuk to prove 
>  that he served Moshe constantly, something Moshe knew from personal 
>  experience;

>>>B'pashtus the Loshon Hagemoroh is that he told him this is what *you* 
about me (Lav Davkoh because it is the Torah).<<<

Ain hachi nami - I was merely presenting the the Brisker Rav.

>>>I unfortunately don't have (yet) the Meshech Chochma, so I don't know 
he is talking only according to Rabi Meir <<<

Didn't think so when I read it.

>>>OTOH that may Davkoh be the Mokor for the Ramabm (as many ask that 
Lichoroh the Halacha should be like R"M) <<<<

Not sure I fully follow what you mean - Rambam is like Chachamim that there 
is no issur of ma'aser to a zar.  To say it sharper - do the chachamim agree 
in principle that zarus and tumah are unrelated, and just coincidentally say 
both are muttar, or do chachamim  fundementally disagree with the attempt to 
distinguish between the issurim?  Based on lashon haRambam, I opt for the 
second possibility.

Kudos to Eli Clarke for responding to some of the other points.


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Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 22:23:56 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Second Grade Teachings

On Tue, 18 May 1999, Clark, Eli wrote:

> But even if we decide to embrace inconsistency and posit a normative
> theology independent of Rambam, I don't understand why the masses should
> be decisive.  At a minimum, their theology is likely to be unsystematic
> and lacking in logical coherence.  Moreover, it is based largely on what
> has been absorbed ad hoc from a hodgepodge of sources, including
> (horrors!) their second grade teachers (probably the largest source of
> Jewish misinformation). 

Speaking of which, did anybody ever come up with a source for the little
jump at the end of the three steps forward after Shemoneh Esrei that Miss
Jachter taught us in 2nd grade in HANC to always make sure to do?


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, 18 May 1999 22:28:55 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Rambam's ikkarim

On Tue, 18 May 1999, Clark, Eli wrote:

> For Rambam, if you don't believe in the ikkarim, then you lose your olam
> ha-ba automatically.  This is true even if you were a shogeg.  (Kellner
> explains that this absolute rule might be limited only to the first five
> ikkarim.)  This absolutism is based on Rambam's belief (rooted in

I beg to differ. He has ra'ayos?


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, 18 May 1999 16:52:13 +0300
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>

Dear Friends,
	Our son Yaakov Yehudah ben Esther Alta has been
diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma again. Please include him in your

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 13:33:25 +0300 (IDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
elections & lying

In the recent israeli elections exit polls were conducted in several polls
to predict the results immediately after the poll closed.
It seems then in several of the charedi areas the polsters were given
false information, e.g. half the people voted for Lapid (anti-haredi).
Because of the numbers involved it further seems like this was an
organized attempt to mislead the polster.

Since lying is prohibited by halakha except under very restricted
circumstances is there any halakhic justification for such an action?

Eli Turkel

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 10:39:20 EDT
From: TROMBAEDU@aol.com
Re: The Charedi Loss in the Israeli Elections (Avodah V3 #55)

In a message dated 5/18/99 12:27:20 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
Abaruch@SINAI-BALT.COM writes:

 I too am depressed by the situation there (reading the "major" American 
coverage with it's very obvious anti-religious bias did not help much), and  
while there may be an "in your face mentality" on the part of the Charedim, 
it definitely goes the other way as well. In fact, the "big" news items (ie, 
the draft, pork) were brought to the forefront by an activist (run amok?) 
anti religious Court. Not only that, but the major media is almost 
exclusively anti-chareidi and they have chosen to exacerbate any and all ill 

I have to say that as this subject is likely to produce the most vehement 
feelings we can muster, I STRONGLY suggest we stop this thread before it 


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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 12:31:21 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Brisker Torah

48 to the Omer

In a message dated 5/18/99 7:52:39 PM EST, C1A1Brown@aol.com writes:

> Not sure I fully follow what you mean - Rambam is like Chachamim that there 
>  is no issur of ma'aser to a zar.  To say it sharper - do the chachamim 
>  in principle that zarus and tumah are unrelated, and just coincidentally 
>  both are muttar, or do chachamim  fundementally disagree with the attempt 
>  distinguish between the issurim?  Based on lashon haRambam, I opt for the 
>  second possibility.
Both possibilities are IMHO valid, (and I agree that the second one is more 
Mashma in Loshon HoRambam), however my point was to explain why the Rambam 
doesn't Pasken like R"M in the first place.

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 12:39:12 -0400
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>
Humor alert?

Richard Wolpoe writes:

"They both require use of the nostrils to be pronounced. If you have a
     stuffed nose, every "man" is "bad." (see Radak in Michlol, Lyck
     pg. 70a)"

*Lais milta de-lo remiza be-oraita*:

Could this be what Dovid haMelech meant when he penned:

"Ani amarti be-chofzi, kol ha-adam kozev."  In haste, there is no
opportunity to breathe properly . . .

No? . . . . .

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 09:45:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
Retraction: Nefesh HaRav

I had reported to the list that Rav Shachter's son-in-law told me
that the name of the sefer is N'fash HaRav.  I saw Rav Schachter last
night and he told me that in fact the name of the sefer is Nefesh

Rav Schachter did confirm that "nefesh" here means "monument" not
"soul."  Of course, as I had pointed out,  "nefesh" in Hebrew is the
same as "n'fash" in Aramaic, and both can mean either "soul" or
"monument."  (Since the Yerushalmi's statement was "ain osin n'fashot
l'zaddikim"--which is in Hebrew, it would make sense to choose the
Hebrew form for the singular.)

BTW, Rav Schachter noted that Rav Soloveitchik's famous "Ma Dodech
Midod" is pronounced by his son, Dr. Chaim, as "Ma Dodcha Midod"
since the Shir HaShirim pasuk deals with a woman while Rav
Soloveitchik was dealing with a man.

Kol tuv,

Do You Yahoo!?
Free instant messaging and more at http://messenger.yahoo.com

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 14:35:26 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
hisbonenus and meditation (and the Rav)

Dear List,

I recently received an email from the Kabbalah List and I've excerpted it below.
I can forward individual copies via email.

After reading several hesp'eiim on the Rav, I realized a connetion to the 
concept illustrated  below in point #2. Taht is the intense engagmenet of 
the intellect is IMHO primarily what the Rav's learning "process" was all 
about.  That is he dug into such great detail as to make it into an altered 
state of conciousness.  (No mean feat!)

I do NOT know whether or not he did this as a result of some conviction, through
self-discovery, or as a result of his training in Tanya while a youth. I suppose
they all were factors.

Several observations:
1) The Rav resisted "bekios" style learning
2) He  resisted publishing.  Torah had to be re-investigated from anew, and one 
should not rely on previous conclusions.
3) He was a master of Style, Process, Approach.  That does not necessarily imply
that he was a master at Conclusions, Pesak, or even Definitive Peshat.  I can 
same that R. Yeruchim specifically felt that Pesak detracted from his apporach 
within his shiur.

Several Extrapolations:
1) Brisker Derech as I've oft said is more about process than conclusion.
2) The Gro probably experienced the same "meditative" experience when learning. 
Parallel this spritual state with Chassidic rapture when 
davening/singing/reciting Tehillim, etc. 
3) Torah is part Naaseh and part Nishma.  The practical/pragmatic aspects of 
Torah belong to Naaseh; eg Halocho lemaase. This intense hibnonenus goes 
beyond Naase into the realm of Nishma.  
4) Lehavdil, masters of art, music, or craftsmen experience ratpure when fully 
and intensely engaged in their task.  This parallels the intensity of the Rav, 
the Gro, etc. when they engaged in their craft, i.e. Torah ( A whole new aspect 
to "Torasan hi Umnoson"!)

Rich Wolpoe

            ACTIVE VERSUS PASSIVE MEDITATION               

    Hisbonenut is the Jewish mystical discipline of active
thought-meditation. In 1986 a collection of Hebrew manuscripts, roughly 
200 years old, written by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the first 
Lubavitcher Rebbe) was published. One of these manuscripts (Ma'amorim 
Ketzarim, Inyonim, p. 133) discusses passive versus active 
thought-meditation. ... 

THOUGHT-MEDITATION; its qualities and characteristics. 

    There are two different methods of thought-meditation. 

1) The first method entails centering and settling one's consciousness on 
the general sense of an idea, while passively withdrawing from all 
thoughts, feelings and body sensations. The meditator disengages and 
contracts the mind, and in no way increases the breadth or detail of 
understanding. This is done by fixating on a point of awareness in an 
uninterrupted stream of consciousness for approximately half an hour, 
which brings the person to the general state of "airy vision." (This may 
take weeks or months of preparation to accomplish). 


2) The second method demands detailed, broad and deep comprehension, as 
opposed to withdrawing from the intellect. This process requires intense 
mental exertion to increase one's awareness of the open, simple and 
revealed meaning of the idea; to scrutinize and elaborate on the 
concept's many details, facets and ramifications, and not to allow the 
mind to contract and settle on one point alone. ...

 (from A Handbook of Ecstacy, p. 171) 


Rabbi Yossi Markel

MOSHIACH <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/5246/>   
KABBALAH ON LINE  <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/5245/> 

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Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 10:48:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
Israeli Elections

While some on the list have faulted the charedim for creating
divisiveness in Israel, I do believe that Shas, despite its faults,
has been a positive force for moderation.

Below is an article from today's Haaretz:

When it comes to building a coalition, one of the first parties Ehud
Barak should talk to is Shas. It would be relatively easy to include
Shas in a coalition to better serve three important national goals:
the beginning of a process of reconciliation, the lasting elimination
of the political stalemate, and the necessary moderation of attitudes
toward the peace process and the rule of law among the large and
important Sephardic population.Shas cannot be in the opposition. More
than any party in Israeli history, its existence depends solely on
its participation in power. Shas is the establishment to which the
leaders of Labor and the Likud entrusted the problems of poverty and
ignorance in this country. After both parties abandoned their
commitment to the welfare state, they gave funds and positions to
Shas, thus freeing them from any responsibility for caring for the
poor, most of whom are Sephardic. The business of brokering these
funds gave Shas functionaries respect, power, and occasionally
riches. This is why Shas leaders have been willing to join any
coalition since 1984.

Despite its meteoric rise in power, Shas's position in a future Barak
coalition would be weaker than in previous governments. The emergence
of a center bloc of secular voters as the swing vote, coupled with
the identification of religious parties with the right, has weakened
Shas's bargaining position.

But although Barak can form a coalition without Shas, he must not
spurn a public and political alliance with it. Even Shas's cynical
manipulation of its supporters must not weigh against the party. Shas
depends on being a member of the coalition and this is the basis of
its political flexibility. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of the more
pragmatic Israeli leaders, forced his followers into Yitzhak Rabin's
revolutionary peace coalition with the argument that it would prevent
bloodshed. This helped moderate the political views of Shas
supporters. Bringing Shas into the coalition now would again force
Rabbi Yosef to stress his moderate views on the peace process and
help make his supporters an important part of the peace camp.

Political moderation from Shas will enable Barak to persuade the
public to accept to significant political agreements with the
Palestinians. This moderation can be an important element of the
struggle against the territorialist, messianic right wing, which will
try to burn the Barak government every time it tries to advance the
dialogue with the Palestinians. 

On the other hand, leaving Shas in the opposition can deepen the
malignant alienation its supporters feel, force them into an ethnic
corner and make them the spearhead of opposition to a deal with the
Palestinians. It will also postpone for a generation the necessary
intimacy of Shas supporters with the idea of the rule of law - an
intimacy that should be encouraged after the Deri affair dies down.

One bold act from a leader as popular as Ehud Barak would be more
effective than thousands of hours of preaching for coexistence and
unity. If Barak can get Shas close to him despite its support for
Netanyahu in the election campaign, it will show how rational,
pragmatic, bridge-building politics can become a substitute for
emotional blockades with ethnic spikes. Such a move could replace the
fabricated cliches about unity and the empty slogans that call for
conciliation, and mark the beginning of a new social order.

Shas must be bought into the coalition. But this must be done with an
alteration to the welfare state - yes the welfare state itself - to
provide real help for poor people. This has to be done to mend
decades of neglect and deliberate discrimination. If it is not done,
the victors will be Shas's sophisticated political functionaries who
have been systematically manipulating their supporters for the past
15 years. 

Those functionaries will continue to get their booty without bringing
about even a minimal improvement to the lives of the voters. Without
a real welfare policy, poverty and ignorance will get worse, and in
the next elections helpless and hopeless Shas voters will again be
reduced to grist for the campaign mill.

Bringing Shas into power while simultaneously changing the social
fabric that allows it to be a cyclical intermediary between
government and its voters is a complicated move. If somebody can do
it, it is Ehud Barak - one of the more creative and least emotional
people in Israeli politics - with Shlomo Ben Ami and David Levy at
his side.
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