Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 119

Friday, July 9 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 19:47:45 -0400
From: Harry Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
Re: thinking for oneself

Micha Berger wrote:

> shouldn't we be encouraging much more fluidity between our
> societal subgroupings?

Absolutely, Positively, Unequivically, YES!


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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 22:25:01 EDT
From: TROMBAEDU@aol.com
Re: shiurim

In a message dated 7/8/99 11:45:17 AM Eastern Daylight Time, turkel@icase.edu 

<< In my neighborhood we have several such shiurim but they are all
 "narrow" based. i.e. a shiur on the though of Rav Kook, or on Rav
 Soloveitchik, or on Tanya etc.
 The hard part os finding someone capable of combining these together. >>

One of the ideas I was getting at in my response was to do the shiurim as a 
consecutive series. So, you might do 6 weeks on R' Tzadok, on a particular 
idea, then do 6 weeks on R' Nachman, etc. In this way, one can cover a number 
of different approaches but at the same time not place an undue burden on the 
individual giving the shiur to try and synthesize them. 


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Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 21:34:49 -0400
From: Harry Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
Re: Christian avodoh zoroh, siforim chitzonim and Abravanel too.

Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer wrote:

From Mechy Frankel:

>>there are many who discern
> > a positive shakespearean empathy for shylock quite at variance with
> > elizabethan english norms.  i will leave that to r. Shraga and the
> > english lit majors to untangle

From RYGB:
> I just listened to The Merchant of Venice driving from Salt Lake City to
> Craters of the Moon National Monument last week, and have to agree with
> RSR. Forget about the person of Shylock, whether Shakespeare is
> empathetic to him or not (I think not - empathetic is Sir Walter Scott to
> Isaac the Jew in Ivanhoe). But the whole trial is really a condemnation of
> Judaism (justice) and a triumph of Christianity (mercy).

Not being a Shakspeare aficionado, I will, never the less, risk an 
opinion here. Isn't it true that the soliloquy of "Hath not a Jew eyes" 
given By Shylock is one of the most poignant ever written about the 
humanity of the Jewish people, especially at a time where there were no 
Jews in England and Shakspeare was likely unaware of who or what a Jew 
really was. His portrayal of Shylock was likely a reflection of the 
prevalent attitude in England about Jews at the time. That Shakespeare 
favored view of Christian "Mercy" over his flawed understanding of 
Jewish "Justice" should be no surprise.




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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 23:02:22 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Christian avodoh zoroh, siforim chitzonim and Abravanel too.

On Thu, 8 Jul 1999, Harry Maryles wrote:

> Not being a Shakspeare aficionado, I will, never the less, risk an
> opinion here. Isn't it true that the soliloquy of "Hath not a Jew eyes" 
> given By Shylock is one of the most poignant ever written about the
> humanity of the Jewish people, especially at a time where there were no
> Jews in England and Shakspeare was likely unaware of who or what a Jew
> really was. His portrayal of Shylock was likely a reflection of the
> prevalent attitude in England about Jews at the time. That Shakespeare
> favored view of Christian "Mercy" over his flawed understanding of
> Jewish "Justice" should be no surprise. 

I was not overly impressed by the soliloquy. At least in the performance I
heard, it came off merely as cloying, only semi-sincere at best. And, the
objectionable material, I think, outweighs the acceptable in any event.

When push comes to shove, however, I come neither to bury Shakespeare, nor
to praise him. I do think, however, that careful consideration need be
given to how such texts are taught, if at all, to yeshiva youth of all
stripes. I a mcurious if any yeshiva has TMOV in its curriculum, and how
they deal with its problems. 

I believe I have mentioned in the past here that the same might be said
about "Jewish classics" like Potok's books - while some of them are
enjoyable reading (although none really equal "The Chosen"), they all have
either overt or covert bias against Orthodoxy.  While my fifth grrade
reading of "The Chosen" "The Promise" and shortyl thereafter "My Name is
Asher Lev" have not left lifelong scars, I think that there might well be
problems caused by reading books that make, say, Talmudic emendation an
heroic cause. 


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: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 12:08 +0200
From: BACKON@vms.huji.ac.il
Re: Top doctor

I suggest you look in Yoreh Deah Siman 336:1 "u'mihu lo yitasek b'refuah
ela im ken hu baki velo yehei sham gadol mimenu she'im lo chen, harei zeh
shfech damim". Look in the Beer Hagolah for the source of what the mechaber

Josh (whose boss at the hospital says, "ehr iz a dokter; ehr farshteyt a krenk"

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 08:42:09 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Jewish Music?

In a message dated 7/9/99 12:12:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
C-Maryles@neiu.edu writes:

> Probably the only genuine Jewish music was that sung by the Leviim in 
>  the Bais HaMikdash.

Or earlier to that Serach's song to Yaakov, (Shiras Hayam and other Shiros if 
we hold that they were actual song rather then poetry).

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:12:58 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Being Mahmir on Hazal

In a message dated 7/7/99 8:09:39 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM writes:

> >See S"O Horav 23 Ois 11, for discussion and mote Shitas Habach.
>  Could I trouble you for a brief summary of his comments there?

He discusses the reason for being Machmir, according to the Bach it is based 
on Shitas Rashi etc. that the Shiur by Bheimoh is also very small, and that 
Ein Onu Bki'im, (however according to the Taz, it is a Gzeiroh).

To the Etzem discussion, see Sdei Chemed Kllolim Ches Kllal 88 who brings the 
Pischei Tshuvah and says that the Issur Vheter end of Kllal 57 holds 
otherwise, and refers to the Pessach Hadvir vol. 1  Simon 115 Ois 3 that has 
lentghy discussion when one is permitted to be Machmir and when not.

In addition see Sdei Chemed Kllolim Aleph # 214 with regard to the rule of 
"Ossur La'essor es Hamutor".

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:23:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu>
best doctors

> R Wolpoe writes
> Lemoshol, what if a surgeon where mafsik his srugery and admired Hashem's 
> beautiful tree? He would be mischayav benafsho not because it is not impornat 
> to adimire the tree but it is a distraction from his appointed task to peform 
> surgery!
> Nimshol: if you are learning half-heartedly w/o full concentraion you'll notice 
> the tree, but if you are REALLY concnetraing, you will NOT be mafsik.IOW it's 
> the lack of concentration that the mishon is deriding.
> Ok, so it MIGHT be that some pepole are makpid that their doctor's are ALL 
> BUSINESS, IOW they are highly focused upon their tasks as healers, and in that
> sense, Hashem is mashpia on them...
Why would one assume that the head of the department is more focused on their
task than lower level doctors in the department. he might have more
experience but is not necessarily more dedicated.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:27:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu>

> EG, Die Moldau of Smetana AND hatikvo were BOTH derived from older melodies and 
> not from each other.  So too, R. Sholomo, whose ancestors stem from a famous 
> rabbinical line inHamburg, was familiar with melodies that wer incorporated into
> the yekke liturgy generations ago.  

In any case someone (if not Reb Shlomo than earlier) used the German tunes.
Similarly, much of chassidic music sounds very similar to the Hungarian
dances whether borrowed directly or some common ancestor.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Fri, 09 Jul 1999 13:52:46 +0100
From: David Herskovic <david@arctic1.demon.co.uk>

Does it not also show up the hypocrisy in Christian mercy? and the
Venetian judge, no Jew, is prepared to uphold Shylock's contract for the
sake of the commercial reputation of Venice.

There are many themes and ideas in The Merchant and however it is read
it is impossible to feel entirely comfortable with it, but I would
rather follow in Rabbi Bechhoffer's path and listen to it, read it and
attend it than to write it off as not worthy of comment for its anti
semitic content.

Bilom gave us 'Ma Tovu' and Shakespeare gave us 'Hath not a Jew eyes...'

David Herskovic

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Date: Fri, 09 Jul 1999 14:29:46 +0100
From: David Herskovic <david@arctic1.demon.co.uk>
sforim khitsoynim

It is no coincidence that those who are opposed to thinking are the same
who are opposed to literature. For is not one of the main functions of
literature to open the reader's mind, to probe and question those areas
which least suffer easy answers. While the paucity of thinking may not
be a uniquely chariedi malaise the lack of material to put one on the
thinker's road unfortunately is.

Although many of the themes in Shakespearean plays occur in tanakh the
latter has been so overladen with medroshim, meforshim, pshotim, toyres
and verter that often we lose touch with the beauty and the message of
the raw text. Studying and reading non-Jewish literature trains the mind
to concentrate first and foremost on what is actually written and to
fully appreciate the power of words. These methods can then be applied
to Torah to allow one fresh insights. The tragedy of Saul Hamelekh takes
on a new meaning after reading some of Shakespeare's tragedies. Of
course pshetlekh are not an exclusive Jewish phenomenon and Hamlet has
as many pshotim as there are tirutsim to the beth yosef's khanuke kashe
but literary criticism is generally more textually orientated than is
the case with Judaic literature.

But Mechy Frankel mentions some authors other than the usual suspects
and this leads me to ask whether there is a cannon of literature which
is acceptable to orthodox Jews or is anything acceptable so long that
there is some takhlis. And, to take it one further, how about art for
art's sake, is that ok? Do Jewish authors that offer insights into what
it is being a Jew and living like a Jew in various environments have
anything to offer? Are Portnoy and Herzog as kosher as Hamlet and Huck
Finn? And what about Yiddish literature? Are Sholem Aleichem, YL Perets
et al acceptable? Yes, writers such as the above contributed in some
measure to the laxity in Judaism in pre-war Eastern Europe but they were
as much products of their time as they were instigators. Bialik attended
Volozhin not Oxford. Whatever the case past results of their writing
need not always diminish their insights and observations. kabeyl hoemes
mimi sheomron.

And what about the visual arts and music, are they ok?

I do not think there are straightforward answers but it would be
interesting to hear what others think.

David Herskovic

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:38:15 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Shylock

In a message dated 7/9/99 9:30:10 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
david@arctic1.demon.co.uk writes:

> Bilom gave us 'Ma Tovu' 

B'nvuoh (that Bakum Kom Kmoshe), and was given to us in the Torah, Ulhavdil 
bein Kodesh Lchol -

> Shakespeare gave us 'Hath not a Jew eyes...'

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind 

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 9:37:14 -0400
From: "MARK FELDMAN" <mfeldman@CM-P.COM>
Re: Top doctor

From: <BACKON@vms.huji.ac.il>, on 7/9/99 5:17 AM:
To: SMTP@CMPNY5@Servers[<avodah@aishdas.org>]

I suggest you look in Yoreh Deah Siman 336:1 "u'mihu lo yitasek b'refuah
ela im ken hu baki velo yehei sham gadol mimenu she'im lo chen, harei zeh
shfech damim". Look in the Beer Hagolah for the source of what the mechaber


The question is: what are the philosophical underpinnings of this din?  How 
does Rav Dessler explain "harei zeh
shfech damim" if indeed Hashem does everything and our hishtadlut is a 

Kol tuv,

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:53:57 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: sforim khitsoynim

In a message dated 7/9/99 9:30:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
david@arctic1.demon.co.uk writes:

> whether there is a cannon of literature which
>  is acceptable to orthodox Jews or is anything acceptable so long that
>  there is some takhlis.

See Rambam Hil. AZ 2:2-3.

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Fri, 09 Jul 1999 17:02:14 +0300
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il>
Re: R. Hutner; R. Kook and liberal arts

Shalom Carmy wrote:

> 2. Moving to one of R. Hutner's rebbeim: R. Kook had a great deal to say
> in favor of general education. .....
> I'm not sure that R. Kook would be of much help in constructing a
> curriculum, as his attempts to do this seem to presuppose not only gifted
> students, but ones capable of very long days. He was an idealist in this
> area as in others.
> 3. One of the reasons I avoided reference to the Rav's "Ramatayim Tsofim"
> speech, apart from its unavailability in print, is that it is "idealistic"
> in the same sense. Not everyone leaps from mountain peak to mountain peak.
> The realistic educational goal, and one that, la-aniyut daati, is imposed
> upon us, is that of being literate, educated people, able to benefit from
> and criticize the culture we encounter. The ability to analyze literature
> or philosophy or otehr disciplines requires some training, and, in my
> opinion, demands substantial general bekiut (otherwise you lack
> orientation in the field and you don't even know what might help you), but
> it's not a full-time job. As the Netziv observed in this connection,
> nobody seems able to master Torah without some period of full
> concentration. If, to draw on R. Lichtenstein, the results of modern
> Orthodox education don't quite measure up, it's not because the kids are
> up all night struggling with Wittgenstein.
> A close friend of mine (a BT, as it happens) once commented on the
> amount of time that most people waste. His contact with Rabbi X, who is
> well-versed in liberal arts, taught him that if you make it your business
> to consistently waste less time than ordinary people do, over a period of
> weeks, months, years, you can actually accomplish something.

This exchange has led to a major revision of my personal understanding of Rav
Soleveitchik and secular studies.

On the one hand we have the extreme view presented that ideally a person
should be a master of Torah and Secular knowledge and that they should not
only be mastered but integrated and synthesized - Rav Kook's approach as well
as Rav Soleveitchik. On the other hand l'maaseh - this is simply a fantasy for
99.999% of the population. For them secular studies - even for Yeshiva
University - are simply necessary tools to function. They provide the language
skills and the cultural sophistication to live in a modern pluralistic
society. At the same time - this cultural sophistication comes at the price of
a diminution of Torah sophistication. [Unless it is acquired like the Rema did
- stolen time from breaks in the learning schedule - which is the approach
described by Rabbi Carmy in his article on Rav Hutner] Thus the issue for the
vast majority of people is not whether to adopt Rav Kook or Rav Soleveitichiks
ideals  - but which approach maximizes one's Torah knowledge and at the same
time allows one to function in a particular society.

I haven't heard any doctrinaire pronouncements that *everyone* must become
knowledgeable about secular studies. Those who attend YU are obviously a self
selected group - for whom secular studies is of greater importance for a
variety of reasons.

I just spoke to a friend who attended Rav Soleveitchik's shiur at YU. He said
simply that Rav Soleveitchik viewed himself entirely as a teacher of Talmud.
He was not the one who set policy or hashkofa at YU - that was basically Rav
Belkin's job. Rav Soleveitchik was also an icon - someone who had achieved the
ideals advocated by YU.  He recalled that once in shiur - someone asked Rav
Soleveitchik - if he could explain the agadata that had just been skipped. The
answer was "If you want to learn medrash go ask Rabbi Charlop - my job is to
teach gemora".

In sum, I am not sure that there would have been significant changes to the
curriculum at YU if you had rotated Rav Soleveitchik with Rav Kook or Rav
Hutner or even with Rav Hirsch - perhaps even Rav Moshe Feinstein would have
agreed (SEE Igros Moshe Y.D. III # 81-82. Nor would there have been any
changes  if Rav Soleveitchik had taken over the job as Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva
Chaim Berlin or the Mir. Therefore we are not dealing with absolute doctrinal
issues but rather localized expressions of Torah values for a particular place
for a particular population.

If the above is accurate - this constitutes a major revision in the popular
image of Rav Soleveitchik.

                             Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 10:08:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
More on Mamzerut...

I am not sure why the comparison of Mamzer to "Thalidomide" is so
unacceptable (except to the Chareidi).  The issue appears to be deeper --
anmely are there "really" spiritual effects to our actions or not?  If one
does not accept that "Ruchnius" is something that "really" exists -- then
it seems to me that they will never be able to accept the concept of
However, it seems that we can explain that Torah DOES posit for us a world
in which the Ruchnius is a major factor -- that just as there is the
physical body, there is also the soul.  And, just as one can damage the
physical body, one can "damage" the soul.  And, just as one can damage
one's unborn child through careless and thoughtless actions, one can
"damage" the soul of the unborn child in the same fashion.
In that context, one who engages in an illicit relationship is willing to
put his/her unborn child at risk in the same manner as the mother who
thalidomide (because it "works" for her).  The result is a child who
through no fault of his/her own now has a "handicap".  In the case of
mamzer, that handicap is being unable to marry (except a Ger/Giyores or
Shifcha).  However, just as we always try to ensure that the physically
handicapped (or "challenged") should be able to maximize their potential,
so we should ensure that the Mamzer be able to maximize his/her potential
in the area of Torah and Mitzvot.
I should add that this is NOT the only case where a thoughtless action
endangers someone else (on the spiritual level) -- [although it may be the
most "severe" one].
I recall a case where a Mother CHOSE to get a Reform "conversion" -- not
caring that her children would not be recognized as Jewish... Many years
later, her daughter (who had simply been told that she was "Jewish")
became a ba'alas Teshuva at about the time when she fell in love with a
Koehn (and he with her)...  The misery that she endured when she found out
that she was NOT Jewish and would have to convert -- and then be
prohibited to Kohanim [because of being a Giyoret] was truly wrenching.
What was even sadder is that her Mother NEVER showed any remorse over how
she (the Mother) had screwed over her Daughter's life -- making it clear
that it was the daughter's CHOICE to be "religious" and that the Mother
saw nothing wrong in making it impossible for her daughter to adopt an
Orthodox Life style with the man that she loved...


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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 10:16:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
More on Charedi Schooling

In relation to the pressure that the "Yeshivishe velt" puts on kids -- who
may be utterly unable to handle it, I recall a conversation that I had
with the Mashgiach of a VERY "intensive" (in limudei Kodesh -- very
UNINTENSIVE in Limudei Chol) Yeshiva.  He admitted that it was a problem
that the "weaker boys" are looked down upon and feel demoralized and
crushed.  He noted that if a totally "frei" boy were to come in, there is
almost no doubt that people would fall all over themselves to ehlp this
fellow out -- but when it is one of "their own", all of sudden, it is a
different story.  In that context, a remark that I heard at one of the
Yeshiva dinners really strikes home:
We are all to ready to try to be mekarev Rechokim -- but we have no qualms
about being merachek Kerovim...
I would add that those "Mosdot" with intensive Hebrew and "unintensive"
English ALSO create an additional problem -- when a bachur DOES want to
transfer to a less instensive place, he is likely to find the ADDITIONAL
disadvantage of being unable to handle the ENGLISH subjects at the new
I can tell you that this has prevented consideration of a transfer to a
NYC=based Yeshiva simply because the bachur felt that he would be totally
unable to handle "regents" after his [non]-exposure to secular subjects at
his "current" school.  As far as I am concerned -- that means that the
"Yeshivish Mosad" is responsible for an act of murder -- they make it
impossible for the weaker student to survive in their midst and they make
it difficult to transfer elsewhere.....


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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 09:19:06 -0400
From: "Michael Poppers" <MPoppers@kayescholer.com>
Re: SRH on "Hellenism and Judaism"

As part of his criticism of Professor Levi's view, EClark wrote:
> Moreover, R. Hirsch repeatedly wrote in glowing terms of the beauty of
Greek (i.e., Western) culture.  In a Hanukkah essay ("Hellenism and
Judaism"), R. Hirsch wrote of the civilizing effect of the "Hellenic
spirit" which provides humanity with "symmetry of harmony and beauty"
and "teaches man self-respect, self-confidence and autonomy."  In his
Perush to Bereshit 9:27, R. Hirsch speaks of the "spiritual treasures"
of the Greeks which have "ennobled the world esthetically."

I find it difficult to interpret all of these references to beauty and
esthetics to science and history, as opposed to the humanities.  The
Greek lessons on self-respect, self-confidence and autonomy presumably
are found in works of philosophy, not mathematics.

In addition, R. Hirsch's praise for Hellenism acknowledges that its
contribution is independent of the Jewish contribution to humanity, i.e.
Torah. I think it clear that R. Hirsch saw them as fully compatible,
But it would also seem that these passages support those who -- in Prof.
Levi's words -- "accuse" R. Hirsch of "adoring Western European culture
.. . . without citing any reasonable support for their claims." <
A truly beautiful essay is "Hellenism and Judaism"!  Not having read it in
approx. 1.5 years, I wanted to reread it before replying with certainty
that you committed the all-too-human sin of seeing the tree and ignoring
the forest.  Of SRH's many points in that essay, a central one is that the
Divine historical plan required that the world at large, children of Cham,
be subdued by the culture of Yefes before they could be receptive to the
"one God" message of Shaim.  SRH details the many positive aspects of
Hellenic culture, as well as its shortcomings, in order to make that and
related points.

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 11:55:01 EDT
From: TROMBAEDU@aol.com
Re: Jewish Music?

In a message dated 7/9/99 12:12:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
C-Maryles@neiu.edu writes:

<< It is my contention that, today, there is no such thing as Jewish 
 Music (or more precisely, Jewish melody).  All music which passes for 
 Jewish Music today is heavily borrowed from the various cultures in 
 which Jewish songwriters have been living I happen to be a huge fan of 
 Shlomo Carlebach, ZL, who was a melodic genius and the most prolific 
 writer of melody of our time.  But his music is almost completely 
 Russian Folk in it's orientation. MBD who revolutionized Jewish music, 
 is almost completely Pop-Rock. There is nothing intrinsically Jewish in 
 the music of either of these two giants of modern Jewish music.  >>

Harry, the subject of Jewish musicology is a little complicated, precisely 
because of the factors you mention, like lack of notation for music of the 
Leviim, etc. But it would be a mistake to say there is no such thing as 
Jewish music. First of all, there are definitely specific scales associated 
with Jewish music, which are expressed in terms of Nuschaot for various 
tefillot. These scales find their way into Jewish music as well. It would be 
more accurate to say that some Jewish composers, such as Carlebach, whose 
music is a mainstay of my spiritual expression, and with whom I performed 
many times, used elements of the surrounding culture, such as Russian songs, 
Woody Guthrie tunes, and Central European music as filtered through Modzitz 
in conjunction with their more specifically Jewish content. It is also 
important to note that those scales or modes which I refer to as Jewish are 
not exclusively so, and are often found in music of the Middle East, 
Caucasus, and Southeastern Europe. The further north in Eastern Europe we 
get, the less modal the music is. 
As far as Mordechai et al go, I definitely think of them as pop stars who 
happen to sing Jewish. But don't sell them short, when Avraham Fried gets 
hold of a real Chasidic nigun, it is quite impressive. I wont post more on 
this particular point here, as my feelings about the current state of Jewish 
music are more appropriate for off list discussion. 
As far as knowing about the sound of music in the Bais Hamikdosh, I have two 
points. We do have ancient Jewish music. It is called Trop. It is hard to say 
that the Ashkenazic Torah Trop is what the music in the Bais Hamikdosh 
sounded like, but listening to the Cantillation in various versions can give 
us a rough idea of some of the sounds of that time, as certain musical 
principles crop up again and again.
The other point is that musicologists used to theorize that Gregorian chant 
was derived from the music used in the Bais Hamikdosh, or as a music Analysis 
professor of mine used to put it, quaintly, the 'Jewish Church.' More recent 
scholarship on the subject has somewhat discredited that view, but Gregorian 
chant probably has in it some clues as to how the music might have sounded. 
Another good way for determining how the music sounded is archeological work 
in instruments of that time, as they will lead to being played and tuned a 
certain way. There has been work in this area, but I am not particularly well 
versed in it. 


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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 12:00:37 EDT
From: TROMBAEDU@aol.com
Re: Christian avodoh zoroh, siforim chitzonim and Abravanel too.

In a message dated 7/9/99 12:15:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
C-Maryles@neiu.edu writes:

<<  I just listened to The Merchant of Venice driving from Salt Lake City to
 > Craters of the Moon National Monument last week, and have to agree with
 > RSR. Forget about the person of Shylock, whether Shakespeare is
 > empathetic to him or not (I think not - empathetic is Sir Walter Scott to
 > Isaac the Jew in Ivanhoe). But the whole trial is really a condemnation of
 > Judaism (justice) and a triumph of Christianity (mercy).

Once again, I think the Bard of Stratford on Avon is being sold short here. 
As with all his characters, Shakespeare does not pain a simplistic picture. 
Shylock is for most of the play a rather dignified heroic figure. It is only 
towards the end, when he is pushed too far by his tormentors, that he doesnt 
live up to his heroic stature. Shakespeare makes it very clear that the deck 
is stacked against him the whole time, and that he does as well as he does 
for as long as he does is an indication of the amount of empathy Shakespeare 
has for him.


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Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 12:14:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Pro. Levi's Hirsch -- Myth and Fact

This thread has shifted from a discussion of Hirsch, an important topic
in my view, to a discussion of Prof. Levi, which I consider of far less
import.  Beli neder, this will be my last post to the list on this
topic, as I think that pilpulistic quibbling over an imprecisely written
and generally undistinguished Tradition article is best left to off-list

R. M. Poppers writes:

>Your previous post stated, "Least persuasive by far is
>the author's contention that R. Hirsch would be a Zionist today"; now,
>according to you, Professor Levi claims that SRH was a "nationalist."
>Perhaps our respective understanding of English differs, but nowhere does
>Professor Levi make either contention.

Let us defer our different understandings of English for now.  We begin
with the question of whether Prof. Levi calls R. Hirsch a nationalist.
In his article, Prof. Levi argues that R. Hirsch viewed Judasim as
nationalistic, not "religious."  He cites a few occasions where Hirsch
speaks of a "national" this or that and concludes: "No wonder that the
Seridei Esh wrote that R. Hirsch 'must be deemed a wholehearted
nationalist.'"  Now I think most people would assume, as I do, that
Prof. Levi in fact agrees with this assessment.  (Similarly, if, after a
discussion of Microsoft's anti-competitive techniques, I were to say,
"No wonder Joel Klein think it's a monopoly!"  I think most people would
assume that I agree with that assessment.  But, technically, I myself
never called him one.)  But I agree that Prof. Levi never writes:" R.
Hirsch was a nationalist."

Regarding labelling R. Hirsch a Zionist: Prof. Levi writes that R.
Hirsch "would agree that under the present circumstances, aliya and any
effort to improve the State of Israel, materially and spiritually,
should be most welcome."  While this phrasing does not use the "Z" word,
I think
that "Zionist" is a fair summary thereof.  Certainly, the mainstream
Agudah viewpoint, which is usually labelled "non-Zionist." does not
encourage aliyah or ANY effort to improve the Medinah materially
(although spiritually, probably yes).  And, on the other hand, R. Kook,
to my knowledge,  never called himself a Zionist, though his views
generally put him in that category.  However, if you prefer, I will
rephrase my statement: Prof. Levi never says that R. Hirsch would be a
Zionist today, but does think that he would favor aliyah and would
welcome actions that improve the Medinah materially (would that include
army service?) and spiritually."  Regarding the value of such
speculation, see below.

>He does contend that, according to
>SRH, "*Judaism* is primarily nationalistic," and no part of your
>well-written reply cites any evidence to the contrary; he does dispute the
>notion that SRH was "anti-nationalist," and, again, you cited no evidence
>to the contrary.

If I understand your position, you think Prof. Levi doesn't say R.
Hirsch was a nationalist, but rejects the notion that he was
anti-nationalist.  I guess that would leave R. Hirsch -- what? -- a
non-nationalist.  I think it time to review some terminology.

What does "nationalism" mean?  In the context of early 19th century
Jewish history, the term nationalism is virtually synonymous with
"proto-Zionism," as represented in the religious world by figures such
as R. Reines and R. Kalischer.   Their writings, which presaged the
later development of political and religious Zionism, emphasized the
importance of the Jewish people as a national entity that must, to
fulfill its destiny, return to Eretz Yisrael and create there a Jewish
polity.  In that period, the term "anti-nationalist" might be applied to
those who opposed pre-messianic settlement of Eretz Yisrael, which
Hirsch did (along with the majority of the Orthodox leadership of the
time).  That having been said, Prof. Levi's use of the term
"anti-nationalist" is his own (as I noted previously, he is not a
historian).  To my knowledge, no historian of the period uses the term
to describe those who disagreed with R. Kalischer or R. Reines.
Certainly none of the scholars who Prof. Levi criticizes uses the term.
Hence, Prof. Levi is attacking those who characterize Hirsch as
"minimizing" (in R. Jonathan Sacks' term) Jewish nationalism in his
writing and "opposing" (R. Lamm's term) Jewish nationalism in practice.
The sixteenth of his Nineteen Letters is evidence of the former, and R.
Hirsch's unwillingness to support R. Kalischer's efforts, which Prof.
Levi mentions (N. Rosenbloom describes him as "aloof and noncomittal"),
evidence of the latter.

>> Regarding Prof. Levi's "speculation" about R. Hirsch's views on Medinat
>>Yisrael, there is little to be said.  While perhaps appropiate for a
>>Shabbat table discussion, it has no place in an article in a scholarly
>>journal. <
>You're welcome to disagree with such "speculation" -- perhaps you feel,
>based on your understanding, that SRH would have sided with the Satmar Rav.

Not likely.  But I think you misunderstood me.  I was not disagreeing
with the specific conclusions of Prof. Levi's speculation (though I
consider them dubious), I am questioning the value of such speculation
and its introduction into a putatively objective article.  In general I
consider such speculation utterly groundless and necessarily
tendentious.  If R. Hirsch were alive today  . . .  is a sentence that
recalls the famous yiddish adage, "If Grandma had wheels . . . "  By
extension, we can speculate about which haredi party the Hatam Sofer
would vote for and whether the Arukh ha-Shulhan would say Hallel on Yom
ha-Atzmaut.  We can also speculate whether R. Kalischer would encourage
settlement in Yesha and whether the Hafetz Hayyim would send his sons to
serve in Tzahal.  I think such exercises of the imagination haves no
place in what is supposed to be an objective attempt to correct
"misconceptions" about R. Hirsch.

>> Prof. Levi concedes that R. Hirsch praises non-Jewish literature in one
>>well-known essay, but claims that Hirsch's phrase "realm of knowledge"
>>refers to science and history rather than the humanities.   The
>>interpretation is debatable. <
>Nobody claimed it wasn't, least of all Professor Levi.  However, he
>buttresses his claims on this issue, as he does on the others in his
>article, with specific examples from and an overall summary of SRH's

This is not accurate.  Prof. Levi presents not one single statement of
R. Hirsch's disapproving of the humanities.  The best he can manage is
to claim that, in one essay, R. Hirsch gives no concrete examples of the
humanities contributing to Torah life.  And he tries to neutralize the
contrary evidence, such as claiming the Schiller lecture was "compelled
by the dictates of good manners" or arguing, based on a diyyuk, that the
study of belles lettres in Hirsch's school was only for the sake of
learning the language (how does one ensure that a student not imbibe the
message of the literature?).  No matter how impeccable your manners, you
would have to have read Schiller to be able to give a speech in his
praise.  And one can only wonder at the value of being medayyek in the
phraseology of a curriculum; the way one would the language of the

There is more contrary evidence as well.  R. Hirsch founded a journal,
Jeschurun, which he edited 16 years.  As founder and editor, Hirsch
controlled its content and direction.  Yet, the articles he published
included not just theology and parshanut, but also philosophy and  . . .
belles lettres.

>As did Professor Levi, I see a tremendous difference between praising Yefes
>and learning from him -- chalilah either that you don't or don't understand
>how Professor Levi views SRH as differentiating between the two.

It is true that one can praise someone, say Michael Jordan, without
encouraging the world to imitate him.  But R. Hirsch did see value in
studying Yefet (i.e. western culture) and imitating the German esthetic.
 He studied at a German grammar school and later at the University of
Bonn.  He prescribed a schedule of study to an early talmid (Graetz)
that included Greek and Latin.  In terms of imitation of Western modes,
he gave his derashot in German (a practice then associated exclusively
with Reform).  He permitted weddings in the synagogue, prohibited by
many in that period on the basis of u-behukotehem lo telekhu.  In
Oldenburg, he dressed in canonicals and was clean shaven, imitations of
German dress and grooming.  Famously, he introduced a choir into the
synagogue.  Also, as R. DZ Hoffman attests, the students in Hirsch's
school studied secular subjects bareheaded.  All of these, I think
reflect his appreciation of that Hellenic spirit of dignity and
esthetics that he found embodied in German culture.

She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

Eli Clark

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