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Volume 03 : Number 098

Tuesday, June 22 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 2:25 +0200
From: BACKON@vms.huji.ac.il
Re: Secular studies

I suggest reading the following references:
Introduction to the PE'AT HASHULCHAN
the Meharsha on the gemara in Horayot 10a
Tosafot Yom Tov on Pirkei Avot (end of 3:18)
Saadya Gaon in Mavo to Emunot V'Deot
Rabenu Bachya in Chovot haLevavot 2:2

All support the idea of studying the natural sciences.

BTW the following Rishonim were doctors:
the 1st RAAVAD (Abraham ben David halevi Ibn Daud)
the Rambam
the Ramban
the RAN (Rabbenu Nissim)

Yehuda haLevi was a doctor; the RALBAG was a noted mathematician and


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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 00:42:28 +0100
From: David Herskovic <david@arctic1.demon.co.uk>
Re: To have a State or not to have a State

The promise 'ki loy sishokhakh mipi zaroy' has many ways of fulfilment
and if not for the State I have no doubt it would have come to fruition
elsewhere and in different ways. So stating, as Jordan did, that 'there
would be very little left of Yahadut without the State of Israel' is
perhaps a bit wide of the mark.

He then goes on to list how 'across the whole spectrum of the Jewish
world' Israel is at the forefront. With respect, while what he has
written is true to an extent he may again be overstating it. The most
'forward motion in psak' in our generation has come from reb Moishe
Feinstein who was genuinely forward looking while psak coming from
Israel is generally reactionary. In Jewish thought there are few to
match Rabbi JB Soleveichik and, whether you liked them or not, the
Satmarer and Lubavitcher rebbes from their respective axiomatic
positions had more influence than any other chasidic leaders anywhere.

On the other hand Torah representatives in Israeli politics have caused
a chilul hashem as Jews nowhere else ever have, and nowhere but in
Israel is Torah so desecrated and maligned in the media and politics. In
addition all trends of backward walking into the dark ages with dibukim
and cults and mekubalim emanate from Israel. Similarly nowhere is
violence the lingua franca of orthodox jews as in Israel. These too are
'facts' one must contend with. I would even venture as far as to say
that if we are to measure Jewish centers for their conduciveness to
bring people closer to Torah and its values then Israel is not, to use a
current catchphrase, the most permissive environment.

David Herskovic

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Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 21:31:39 EDT
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
Re: Rama and secular studies

>>>the Rama was not addressing studying limudei chol for the sake of
parnassa. <<<Arnie Lustiger<<<

The Rama makes NO such distinction and I beg to know how you infer it from 
his psak?

After reading a few other posts I just wanted to point out that the original 
kashe was based on the Rama; R' Hirsch and the other sources are relevant to 
the general issue, but do not directly address pshat in the Rama.


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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 00:03:26 -0400
From: Paul Rothbart <sroth4@juno.com>
Secular Subjects


>From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
Assuming we operate strictly within the parameters of the Rama, you 
>omit the 
>key line: it is permitted to learn other disciplines 'b'akrai'  - that 
>plenty room for interpretation.  Isn't the student who learns a 6 hour 
>morning seder+3 hours night seder and attends 3 hours of classes a day 
>engaging in limud of other subjects b'akrai?  I would also suggest 
>that just 
>as the term keva can mean one's *primary* interest in terms of 
>attention and 
>value, so to akrai may be measured in terms of value and attention.  
>I work 8-10 hours a day I still consider limud haTorah my primary 
>focus in 
>life (I hope!).  Do you consider R' Hirsch in the 'right' camp, and if 
>how would you suggest he read the Rama?
>More to the point, aderaba, the Rama is a bigger kashe on the right 
>How do they justify attending college and pursuing professional 
>careers (all 
>of which require some training, be it college, vocational school, 
>etc.) in 
>light of your understanding of Rama? 

>After suggesting that the heter of learning secular studies lies in 
>the fact 
>that they occupy less significance than Torah within our value system, 
>that is the definition of akrai, I reread the tshuvah of the Birchas 
>(end of Kiddushin).  I think R' Baruch Ber learned the Rama as I did - 
>course, my excerpt is no substitute for a full rereading of the 
>tshuvah (esp. 
>ois 8 where he comments specifically on the Rama).
>"...Even one who cannot learn at all or who is occupied with his 
>nonetheless, he assumes the yoke of subservience to Torah and [the 
>relationship] is like Yissachar and Zevulun.  Therefore this is not 
>abandoning Torah but walking in its ways.  However, one who says let 
>me go 
>learn secular wisdom, and studies b'kviyus *and it is significant to 
>him as a 
>measure of importance (l'hitpaer bah)*, this is called abandoning 
>that individual has [substituted] another item of importance in his 
>IOW: the Rama is talking about how we value what we study.
>I would just add my own chakirah: are we prohibited from assigning any 
>to secular study (other than perhaps parnasah), or is the prohibition 
>value it on the same level as Torah, but ain hachi nami, it might be 
>as a source of wisdom?  That is where I think the split between right 
>left will play out - not in the basic reading of the Rama.
>- -Chaim
I took the liberty of putting your two posts together to answer both of

1. Why would you assume to not act like the Rama if there is no
comparable poskim  who disagree with him?

2. I think that (laniyas daati) that you left out the key phrase of the
Rama, the heiter of akrai is only by a talmid chacham "however it is
permissable to study "beakrai" other wisdom ...and this is called in the
language of the Rabbis "pardes", and a person should only stroll through
"pardes" after his stomach is full of meat and wine, ie issur veheiter
and dinei hamitzvos".  If so, the issue of the student becomes
irrelevant. That is the point I believe was being said about secular
subjects in highschool or beis midrash was addressing

3. I believe the answer to R' HIrsch is in the beginning of that teshuva
of R' Baruch Ber (although admittedly I am not so convinced that is an
acurate portrayal of his position in which case I don't really know.
Unless I distinguish and say that although he held that ideally only
talmidei chachamim should be involved with secular studies like the Rama 
beakrai, but the situation in Germany would not allow that

4. Again I think R' Baruch Ber is the answer to the problem of the right
getting training for a job, its a case of anus. See the Ohr Sameach in
terms of talmud Torah that there no absolute chiyuv but depends on the
nature and abilities of each person, and his ability to sacrifice

5. I am totally suprised that you see in R' Baruch Ber's teshuva anything
at all that justifies more modern movements approaches to secular
studies. The idea of "Torah im Mada" as an ideal synthesis is the
furthest thing from R" Baruch Ber's writing. R' Baruch Ber is only
speaking about a heter for parnassah etc. (Even the part that you quoted
is speaking about an ones, not one who chooses to study philosophy
because he is curious or he feels it will make him understand TOrah
better.) Or someone who is a talmid chacham.

6. I still return to the basic challenge. What is the justification to
teach our boys Shakespeare in highschool (when clearly you can get a job
without that) when they have not finished SHas and poskim, and similarly,
for ourselves, if I have a free hour or so, what is the justification for
me to read Kierkagaard etc. if I dont know SHas and poskim?


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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 09:43:10 +0300
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>
Re: Kisui Se'ar

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatsal permits a Gerusha/Almana to uncover her hair
at work if otherwise she would lose her Job. His analysis is that (1)
Kisui se'ar by a gerusha/almana is only me-dat Yehudit (Minhagei tzniut
of Bnot Yisrael; hence room to be meikel be-safek) - not dat Moshe
(Biblical); (2) The second perush in Rashi Ketubot 72a s.v. "azhara"
(which Rashi calls Ikkar) is to be understood as a Hiyyuv aseh rather
than an issur.  Hence; one is not obligated to lose more than a fifth of
ones wealth for a kiyyum Aseh. loss of your Parnassah comes into this
category. I saw a similar psak in the name of the Grashaz Auerbach
Zatsal in a biography written about him by Hanoch Teller.
	Is anyone aware of related psakim where an almana/gerusha were
permitted to uncover their hair for fear they would not "look eligible"
and hence have trouble with shiddukhim?  The rationale would be that not
being able to get a shiddukh is equivalent to loss of a fifth of your

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:13:27 +0300 (IDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
shinui hateva

Rich Wolpoe writes

And therefore this Shinuy hateva would be social/socilogical,in that sleeping
uncovered is not so much in vogue as it used to be, and therefore the metzius of
touching makom tinuf may no longer apply in the same fashion as it used to.

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:20:04 +0300 (IDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
shinui hateva

R, Wolpie writes
And therefore this Shinuy hateva would be social/socilogical,in that sleeping
uncovered is not so much in vogue as it used to be, and therefore the metzius of
touching makom tinuf may no longer apply in the same fashion as it used to.

Shinui hateva normally refers to physical changes and not social/socilogical
changes (of course I am not denying both occurred just in terms of the

Thus for example, shinui hateva is used to explain why are cows seem to
be physically different from the cows in the times of chazal.

In terms of "is this conceivable according to modern science?" I believe
in the answe given by Dr. Leo Levy - sometimes.
Thus, there is no major problem in accepting that properties of cows have
changed due to breeding. Thus, they can give birth earlier than chazal
stated. Similarly, for a number of other cases that Dr. Leo has explained.

In other cases it is harder to accept. Thus, it less laikely that there are
major changes in the length of pregnancy of some animals. Unlikely, that
in the days of chazal there existed 7 month and 9 month fetuses which is
no longer observed. It is virtually impossible to accept on scientific grounds
the assertion of Chazon Ish that there were changes in the urinal/semen
tracts of man over the last 2,000 years.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:30:19 +0300 (IDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

While it is quite true that Rav Soloveitchik was a gadol before he came to YU
nevertheless I think a good claim can be made that YU has produced as many
"gedolim" as any other American yeshiva. Rav Lichtenstein also learned
in Chaim Berlin and not YU but still went to university and a PHD and
became a major rabbinic figure. Certainly Rav Schachter had his entire
training in YU as did most rebbes presently in YU.

I am not sure that Israeli yeshivot have been oversuccessful in recent
years in producing gedolim. One candidate, Rav Chaim Kanevsky was also
more hometrained than yeshiva trained.

Kol Tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 09:15:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: alustig@erenj.com (Arnold Lustiger)
Secular Studies

In an earlier post, I referred to a conversation I had with R. Elya Svei,
Shlit'a, asking him why limudei chol were assur in Israel and mutar in the U.S.

I started the conversation with him lamenting the degradation in limudei
chol in American Yeshivos over the last 20 yrs, and here R. Elya and I
chimed in simultaneously "except [the Yeshiva of] Philadelphia". I then
asked him the above question. 

He stroked his beard and closed his eyes for about 15 seconds and then told
me the following. R. Shraga Faivel Mendelovitch, a he became Rosh Yeshiva of
Torah Vodaath, asked the following shaila to some gedolim in Europe: is it
mutar to have limudei kodesh and limudei chol in the same building? R. Elya
emphasized that he did not ask "is it mutar to have limudei chol" (even in
light of the battle in the Yeshiva of Volozhin). He also told me he
personally heard of a very prominent right wing godol in Eretz Yisroel (R.
Elya did not want me to quote the name) recommend Ma'arava to some (sefardi)
parents who would not send their son to Yeshiva otherwise - i.e.  that the
situation is nuanced depending on the circumstances.

That was it. Clearly, R. Elya was telling me that instituting Limudei Chol
in America was an "eis la'asos LaHashem" situation - that American parents
would not send their kids to Yeshivos otherwise. The Philadelphia Yeshiva's
shita re: Limudei Chol is that IF a bochur must spend ~3 hrs/ day studying
"English", then he can't be wasting his time - you can't create a talmid
chochom if he wastes 3 hrs/day. This is far from putting any intrinsic value
on Limudei Chol, or even recognizing the value of limudei chol for parnassa

I therefore believe that the degradation in Limudei Chol in American
Yeshivos is not by neglect, but by design. Ultimately, the American
Yeshivishe Olam will be on the "madreiga" to send their kids to Yeshivos
that have eliminated Limudei Chol entirely - simply because it has become
such a joke, such a waste of time, (Philadelphia notwithstanding). Then
there will be no dichotomy between the "Holy" Yeshivos of Eretz Yisroel and
those here in America.

(Tangentially, I heard an interesting story attributed to R. Nosson Sherman
- the father of Artscroll. Someone lamented to him how Yeshiva bochurim were
using Artscroll Gemaras as a crutch to make a lainus. R. Sherman replied not
to worry - that this situation is only temporary - Yeshiva bochurim wlll
soon be unable to understand or even read the English translation!)

As a personal postscript, despite some strong misgivings, I sent my oldest
son to the Philadelphia Yeshiva, simply because there is not even a remote
comparison between the limudei kodesh there and a  "Modern Orthodox" yeshiva
(or most right wing Yeshivos, for that matter).  Secular studies there
indeed are serious, and the Yeshiva even hired a private tutor in 12th grade
for him so he could study calculus. Of course, the ultimate question is what
he will do (or not do)  with the limudei chol as he goes through Beis
Medrash and beyond.

Arnie Lustiger

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 10:25:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Being Mahmir on Hazal

I would like to go back to this issue.  A specific example I can think
of is hilkhot shehitah, where, if you learn the sugyot and Rishonim,
then read the Mehabber and Rema, you will find that the Ashkenazic
minhag on virtually every defintion of pesul is simply to be mahmir
across the board.

There many other examples as well, from hilkhot Shabbat, for instance,
but I do not wish to belabor the point (though others are welcome to).

I would formulate as follows: a recurring feature of Ashkenazic pesak is
to adopt positions of humrah beyond the rule of Hazal.

I cannot understand how any talmid hakham, let alone a gadol like R.
Ahron Soloveichik, could say that being mahmir on Hazal renders one
deserving of herem.

I think some clarification is in order.

Kol tuv,

Eli Clark

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 11:24:53 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Secular Studies - Rambam

(BTW- are we sure that the Rambam became a doctor only for parnassa reasons)
Joel Rich<<

AFAIK, the Rambam  practiced medicine for parnasso was the result of his 
brother's death.  His brother had been the source of his parnosso in a Yissachar
Zevulun relationship.

It is  possible/probable that the Rambam LEARNED medicine prior to his brother's
death, and perhaps for purely lishma/academic reasons.

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 11:31:27 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Nishtanu Hateva

That hasn't changed when one wears gloves V'kadomeh, he definitely touched 
Bemokom Tinuf with hefsek of glove etc.

Yitzchok Zirkind<<

See Beiur Halach on SA4:13 DH im hoyo Neiur..
"im yosehin be'vaotei yadaim shebavaddai lo nago bemakom tinuf"

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:00:31 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Mishnah B'rurah and Humrah

Fr by saying v'nakhon l'hahmir.  When the Mishnah B'rurah says "v'nahon 
l'hahmir" is that a p'sak or is it something else?  

David Glasner

I'm not CD enabled, but in an offline debate on this subject I cited SA 489:2 
re: sefiro after tzeis.  Note the mehaber uses hamedakekim, which seems to me to
be less of a recommnedation and more of a simple delineation.  IOW this is the 
din, and that is lifnim mishuras hadin.

Contrast this with your case in which the MB seems to be couseling us 
(paskening??) to be machmir.

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:10:50 -0400
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Secular Studies

FWIW, the Sheloh has scathing remarks against secular studies (I believe in 
Maseches Sh'vuos)

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 01:16:20 +0300
From: "Berger" <rachelbe@netvision.net.il>
Rama on secular studies

It is interesting to see the Rema quoted as forbidding secular studies. In
a famous exchange of letters (famous means that I know about it) with the
Maharshal, the Rema clearly defends the appropriateness of secular studies
in the proper setting, and even makes use of "Hokhmat Aristo" in Psak
Halakha.  See Ziv's edition of Sh"ut HaRema, Simanim 6 & 7.

Rabbi Shalom Berger, EdD
Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora
Bar Ilan University  

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 17:42:05 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: lice

That is, for some reason the Rabbanan rejected Rabbi Eliezer's
explanation of derivation from the rams for the mishkan.  They could
have, like him, held that any creature in which there was "n'tilas
neshama" was included in the analogy to rams.  For some reason they were
*not* comfortable with this derivation.  And yet the *only* nafka mina
between Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbanan is kinim (just as the only nafka
mina between the positions of Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai are
maacholos).  Thus make the killing of kinim assur and you, for all
practical purposes, take the analogy of rams back to that with which the
Rabbanan were not comfortable.  

I don't agree with this line of thinking.  While lice were the only practical 
nafka mina, and absent them, the Rabbanan and R. Eliezer would be practically 
identical, they would be getting there from different directions.  And ther 
ewould still be a nafka mina between them.  Were we to discover another 
species that generates "spontaneously", then according to R. Eliezer it would 
be assur, and according to Rabbanan assur.  The fact that we have yet to find 
a practical difference does not mean that absent that difference the two 
sides agree.

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center
Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 17:52:11 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: advance notice of miracles

R. Richard Wolpoe asked:
Question: When Elisha sent Naaman to the Yarden to cure his tzoraas was this 
neis nigleh?  If it was a Nise nigleh, how is it that the pousk makes no 
of a Dvar Hashem prior? IOW how did this work?

This is a question that has already been asked about Moshe, specifically in 
regards to the miracles surrounding the rebellion of Korach.  There are many 
answers for overt miracles without advanced notice.  They extend from "HaShem 
did tell the navi, but it just was not written down for some reason", all the 
way to "The navi decreed and HaShem fulfilled", and many other stages in 


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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 19:48:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Chazal and metzius

In v3n97, Chana Luntz writes:
:                                                                     But
: they did not need any question of science to agree with Rabbi Eliezer.
: That is, for some reason the Rabbanan rejected Rabbi Eliezer's
: explanation of derivation from the rams for the mishkan.

IOW, the "piryah virivyah" thing was a ta'am hamitzvah reverse engineered
from an already reached conclusion. It was not a s'varah. As we don't pasken
from ta'amim, I'd have to agree with Chana. Unfortunately, R' Kook does not,
and says we now have to be machmir.

:                                                 If, on the other hand,
: you hold like R' Lifshitz (or some similar explanation), then you
: maintain the machlokus between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai and Rabbi
: Eliezer and the Rabbanan, and also the concept that that the link to the
: melacha of shechting rams is not inclusive of all animals, but also
: contains one exclusion, namely kinim ...

And that R' Dovid therefore sought a new ta'am, one in consonance with current
scientific thought.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for 22-Jun-99: Shelishi, Chukas-Balak
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 329:2-8
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Eruvin 99b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 37-40

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