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Volume 04 : Number 134

Monday, November 15 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 09:39:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
Fwd: Re: Paraoh identity

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I'm forwarding Lisa Liel's reply to my posting.


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Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 23:12:01 +0200
To: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
From: Lisa Liel <lisabeth@bigfoot.com>
Subject: Re: Paraoh identity
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Hi Moshe,

I'm replying to you directly because I'm not on the Avoda list, but feel
free to repost this if you like.

>Check out today's Ha'aretz
><<Is there an alternative theory for Israeli archeology? Seven years
>ago, Yehoshua Etzion published "The Lost Bible" (Shocken Press). The
>book, based on an extensive literary search, provided a verbatim
>account of almost every discrepancy listed in Herzog's article. And
>more importantly, it offered an explanation in terms of a radical
>change of the dating for archeological strata, extending Immanuel
>Velikovsky's writings ("Ages in Chaos"). Etzion is not a professional
>archeologist, and the book has therefore been greeted with contempt
>and disregard by the archeological establishment. While it is indeed
>difficult to accept such a radical idea, particularly from a person
>lacking formal training, the scientific method demands that two
>questions are answered: does the new view settle a key problem and
>does it conform with Occam's principle?
>What is the relationship between Lisa Liel's article and Etzion's

I have a copy of Etzion's book.  It's in Hebrew, and is called HaTanakh
HaAvud.  It's an excellent book, and I recommend it highly.  It took me
quite a while to get through it, because while I speak Hebrew fluently, I
don't read it the way I do English.

As far as your question goes, Etzion and I agree on the dating of almost
all of the Bronze Age.  But while I date the Iron Age from the Assyrian
invasions until the fall of Jerusalem (the conventionally accepted ending
point for the Iron Age), Etzion extends the Late Bronze Age to the
Babylonian conquest and has the Iron Age start then and continue until the
Maccabean revolt.

According to conventional dating, the people who entered Israel at the
beginning of the Iron Age were the Israelites under Joshua (even though
they came from the north and in waves of immigration rather than a
conquest).  According to my work, they were the Samaritan tribes brought in
by the Assyrians after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel.  And
according to Etzion, they were the Jews returning under Zerubbabel and Ezra.

One of the reasons Etzion reached his conclusion is that conventional
history claims 208 years for the Persian Empire, and there is very little
archaeological evidence for this period in Israel.  If Etzion is right,
this is because the Persian Empire existed during the Late Bronze Age.  If
I am right, it's because the Persian Empire didn't last any 208 years, but
as the rabbis claimed, it lasted only 52 years.

A friend of mine who has corresponded with Etzion told me that Etzion has
changed his views since even before his book was released.  He has moved
towards an incredibly radical theory put forth by a professor at the
University of Bremen named Gunnar Heinsohn.  Heinsohn's theory is that all
of recorded history actually started around 750 BCE, and that all the
inscriptions that have been dated prior to that time actually belong to the
days of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  At the current time, it doesn't appear that
Etzion supports the work he did in The Lost Bible anymore, which may be one
of the reasons it hasn't been translated into English as he had originally

In a way, this is one of the reasons that the difficulty new theories have
being accepted is a good thing.  From what I've seen, when a person
challenges what is conventionally "known", there is a big temptation to see
the rules as having just disappeared.  Many people in that kind of
situation wind up adopting wilder and stranger hypotheses as time goes on,
since it feel like "anything goes".  The fact that the conventional has the
intertia it does forces people who are being serious to be more
conservative in their leaps.  Heinsohn's work is... well, let's just say
that it sometimes reads like a satire of what it's supposed to be.

One point I'd like to make about the little blurb from the HaAretz article,
though.  It seems that everyone who advocates redating the archaeology of
Israel in a way that results in increased harmony between written and
physical sources gets labeled a "Velikovskian", and such work is referred
to as an "extension" of Velikovsky's work.  That's a shame, and the only
real result it has is that people who don't want their work dismissed
immediately feel constrained to deny that they've so much as read
Velikovsky's work, and that the questions he raised had nothing to do with
the answers others have found.  It's virtually a demand that people be
dishonest about what inspired their work, and I've chosen not to take that
route.  Velikovsky's questions were brilliant and inspired.  His answers
were 97%+ wrong.  But sometimes it's the questions that are the most
important thing.

Shavua Tov,


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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 12:42:35 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Tzelem Elokim

In a message dated 11/14/99 10:16:08 AM US Central Standard Time, 
atwood@netvision.net.il writes:

<< But all it takes is a look at the Newsweek article we discussed last week
 (or Ha'Aretz) to see how easy it is (and how attractive for some people) to
 mis-represent an Orthodox point of view by quoting out of context.
 Keep in mind that the archives of this list are indexed by all the major
 search engines in the 'net. >>

I agree with you. But the unhappy thread of discussion on Down's Syndrome 
frankly has less to do with "context" than it has with a tendency (that we 
all share, to one degree or another) toward obscurantism (i.e., forest for 
the trees) that, as an analytical process, tends by definition to destroy the 
very idea of proper context. Children with Down's Syndrome could be said to 
be born with a degree of yetzer ha-tov that the rest of us must struggle to 
achieve. That's the forest. All this stuff on tzelem Elokim is the trees. 

Anyhow, outsiders are always going to be tempted to misrepresent Jewish 
thinking on technical subject in Shas. Ignoring them is the best solution.

David Finch

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 11:46:45 -0600
From: Steve Katz <katzco@sprintmail.com>
Re: Avodah V4 #131 HM's "History of Bnei Reuvain in Chicago"

Shlomo Yaffe wrote:

> After a long Droshoh on the history of Bnei Reuvain- from HM's point of
> view.
> (I have heard  very different points on these issues from other
> inhabitants of your fair city)-and I hope HM made sure not to let his
> biases get in the way of a clear presentation to the Avodah group-
> who might rely on HM because many don't live anywhere near Chicago.

I must defend my friend HM. He lives and has lived on the same block as B'nei
Reuven for more than twenty years. Davens there 6 days every week and is very
familiar with the politics and everything that is going on there (as well as
in most of the city.) I would also point out that he wrote about this one
particular shul and how they show disrespect to their former morey d'assro. I
too am witness to this fact.
kol tuv

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:18:06 EST
From: MSDratch@aol.com
Re: Tzelem Elokim

<< Those who cannot appreciate the "purely intellectual gymnastics" of this 
 discussion do not necessarily misunderstand them. Perhaps they understand 
 more than the gymnasts themselves. >>

Exactly my point!

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:26:25 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Daniel - A Prophet?

R' Mordechai,

Bhemshech to my earlier post see the Turei Even on Megilah.

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:50:03 EST
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
Re: bear

<< Shouldn't that be a Shehakol? or maybe it's a sofek brocho and the bear 
washed for bread first.... >>

I'm just curious if he/she ate k'zayis or is the shiur a k-bear-ya?

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:48:14 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Olas Re'iyah

What is the halacha of a tourist that comes le'heira'os at any time of
year other than a regel? Is he mechuyav in olas re'iyah (not b'toras
nedava, but b'toras chiyuv)?


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: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 14:50:15 -0800 (PST)
From: harry maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Avodah V4 #130 reply to RYGB's post on Chassidus study

--- Shlomo Yaffe <syaffe@juno.com> wrote:

> ======
> Reply: since you were being "Mosif" on HM's
> narishkeit, 

Thank you for your comment.

Nareshkeit? Really?

I think the reply you give below gives ample testimony
as to what Chasidus in general and Chabad Chasidus in
particular has as it's main focus of study: Nistar (or

I fail to understand Chabad's concentration on the
study of the supernatural.    How does rational
thinking and perceptions of reality square with this
type of study which has no rational basis and cannot,
by definition, be in the natural sphere?  To me this
type of study is a complete waste of time unless you
are on a madregah of the Vilna Goan or the like. To
the extent that the masses study nistar is to the
extent that takes time away from studying the essence
of Judaism: The revealed word of G-D.


> Well, it is true that the primary nistar learning of
> Chabad Chassidim is
> *suprise* Chabad Chassidus. A few points though:
> 1. Chassidus Chabad is a very extensive and
> comprehensive system (I think
> in terms of sheer volume of writing by the Rebbeim
> no one would argue
> that Chabad is the most prolific Chassidus) that
> brings down many Sifrei
> Kabbalah and other Sifrei Chassidus in the works of
> the Rebbeim of Chabad
> themselves. Chassidus Chabad does not shy away from
> discussing
> alternative viewpoints in Nistar (e.g. on the isuue
> of Oros Metzuyarim or
> Peshutim).
>  Hence, the study of Chabad Chassidus alone gives
> one a very broad view 
> of the world of Nistar and Chassidus. 
> 2.Anyone who knows Chabad well, knows that many
> Chabad Chassidim do study
> other types of Chassidus regularly for a broad range
> of reasons.
> 3.There is a well known Mesorah of the ARI that is
> current in several
> Sefardic and Chassidic circles that he said to rely
> primarily (or
> entirely) on R.Chayim Vital's transmission of his
> teachings. also,to
> Chassidim (and i believe, also the GRA, Maybe somone
> on the list can
> enlighten me on this) the Kabbalas Ha'ari represents
> an essential level
> of authority (like the Gemara Bavli vs. all
> susequent works). Hence, the
> reliance on Kisvei Ha'ari and the absence of qoutes
> from shitos that
> diverge (even ocasionally) from The ARI. This does
> not apply to Mekubalim
> who came before the ARI who are qouted often in
> Chassidus Chabad.
> 4.Focus is not a bad thing: If one concentrates on
> ones own  derech and
> lives it and it leads someone to ever higher heights
> in Torah, Avodah and
> Kiyum Mitzvos Be'hiddur, this is an absolute good.
>  Provided of course, that this is coupled with
> Ahavas Yisroel for all
> Jews and respect for any approach "Hamolich Beis
> Hashem". 
>  Our Rebbe often pointed out that we must learn
> lessons in Avodas Hashem
> from Minhagim and Tefilos that other Jews have even
> if we don't practice
> them ourselves.
> Shlomo Dov Yaffe


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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 23:05:44 +0000
From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk>
Kol Kevudah -

In message , Hershel Ginsburg <ginzy@netvision.net.il> writes
>A new twist on Kol Kevudah etc... the Ba"Datz of the Eidah Hareidit (one of
>about half-dozen or so different and competing Ba"Datzim we have here)
>issued a ps'ak today that women are forebidden from using cell phones in
>public.  According to a radio interview with Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the
>self-styled(?) "Ka"MBatz (KeTzin MivTza'im or operations officer) the
>reason given was that speaking on a cell phone in public, particularly when
>it can be heard by others (there is a tendency to to speak louder on cell
>phones when doing so on noisy streets), was at variance with the concept of
>tzi'ut as exemplified in "Kol Kevudah etc..." (I am not making this up -- I
>heard the interview myself and my Hebrew is quite good; I believe it also
>appeared in one of the hariedi papers).

What I am surprised about that nobody in this discussion on kol kavuda
has cited the Rambam in hilchos Ishus perek 13 halacha 11 (so I guess I
should do so) -

"... but it is a gnai for a woman that she should be going always
outside and in the streets.  And there is to her husband to prevent his
wife from this and not let her go out except for once a month or twice a
month according to the need. As the beauty of a woman isn't except to
sit in the corner of her house because such it is written "kol kavuda
bas melech penima".

While the Bnei Banim (siman 40 page 136) tries heroically to demonstrate
that the Rambam does not mean to prevent a woman from performing the
various mitzvos that can only be done by a woman leaving her house, and
he does have some support from earlier in the halacha I quoted above,
IMHO he is batting a tough wicket.

The reality is that there the Rambam does read the "kol" in the way that
Micha was, with the conclusion as set out above.

To divert from Jewish tradition - this is very much the position taken
by certain Muslim groups.  The Taliban, of course, have required all
women in Afganistan to stay at home.  In Pakistan, there is a group of
families who pride themselves on being descended from "the prophet",
and, while they do not expect this behaviour from commoners, their women
are born, live and die within the walls of their house compounds- this
being considered a form of honour for the family, breach of which would
bring the entire family into disgrace.  Whether they base themselves on
Tanach, I do not know, but you can see a logical derivation from "all
the glory of the king's daughter is only within the palace" - if you are
families of nobility, this is what is expected of your daughters.

In a similar vein, on a bus going down to Egypt, a few of us started
chatting with the Egyptian guide, who came from a very traditional
family.  One of the things he told us was that he was divorced from his
(second) wife, even though he loved her very much, but she wanted a
divorce, and she had threatened that, if he did not give her a divorce,
she would uncover her face in public.  With that kind of threatened
shame hanging over him, there was nothing else he could do but divorce

The fact that this sounds very foreign to us, as well as (as I indicated
in my previous post) clearly foreign to our matriachs in the Tanach does
not mean that there are not echos of it in our tradition.  And, what is
tznius behaviour is, to a certain extent, dictated to by our surrounding
society. Thus when living in a Muslim society in which it is a gnai for
a woman to go outside, and a disgrace on her husband - the Jewish people
will also be shamed in Muslim eyes if Jewish women do not do likewise
and stay within.

What fascinated me was that the references in the Talmud to the pasuk
were not along these lines at all, and rather used more in the nature of
a rov (ie most women are like this, so you can't expect/demand anything
better).  (NB the Bnei Banim again this time ma'amar 6 page 201  second
column "noter" brings the gilion hashas on Chullin 4b on another pasuk
from Mishlei using the word "kol" (mishlei 29:12 "if a ruler hearkens to
lies, all "kol" his subjects are wicked") that "'ain lomdin min haklalos
go and learn from the generation of Yehoyokim and the generation of
Tzidkiaya' as if to say that there not all those that remained were

Getting back to the mobile phones though - the psak is a pretty strange
one, in that it seems to be justifying women "being" in the streets,
just not being able to be contacted there by their husbands and fathers.
As those who have to use mobile phones know, their primary use is that
they prevent any possibility of an escape, you are always reachable,
wherever you are.  It will be interesting to see whether this ban is
adhered to.


Kind Regards


Chana/Heather Luntz

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Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 15:18:35 -0800 (PST)
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
Re: bear

--- C1A1Brown@aol.com wrote:
> << Shouldn't that be a Shehakol? or maybe it's a sofek brocho and
> the bear 
> washed for bread first.... >>
> I'm just curious if he/she ate k'zayis or is the shiur a k-bear-ya?

To be yotzai kol ha'da'yot, he/she ate the whole person, because that
is a bear-ya sh'laimah.

Kol tuv,


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Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 09:45:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Sammy Ominsky <sambo@charm.net>
Re: Yitchak had Downs Syndrome!?!

DFinchPC@aol.com wrote:

> In this sense perhaps Hashem has granted people with Down's Syndrome 
> extraordinary capacities for their own refined form of Tzelem Elokim. The 
> cognitive deficits these people suffer are entirely beside the point. Perhaps 
> Hashem is not as preoccupied with our petty intellectual strivings as we are. 
> There's the old joke: Man (intelligently) makes his plans, and G-d laughs. If 
> He laughs at those with Down's Syndrome, I suspect it is with joy, not the 
> derision reserved for the rest of us.

I agree heartily. I must take issue, though, with the statement about
"cognitive deficits". Just because they don't seem, in general, to excel
in intelectual pursuits doesn't mean they can't. I happen to know a person
with Down's with a Ph.D. in mathematics who's written tens of thousands of
lines of code for various projects in his position as algorithm developer
for the Department of Defense. I'm not sure you could classify him as
having "cognitive deficits". As you attribute to Hashem, he doesn't
preoccupy himself with petty intellectual strivings, he just does what
comes naturally. To hear him speak of Ahavat Hashem is truly a wonderful


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Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 19:47:54 -0500 (EST)
From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@shamash.org>
Chabad and valuation of learning

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> writes at the end of a long posting:
> It's hard for me to agree to the claim that Lubavitch
> respects learning. It is obvious to me that the
> Lubavitcher members of this main Shul, of Chabad do
> not respect this Talmid Chcham, Poseik, and Zakein. 
> They only respect themselves.

I really do not understand how you can take the behaviour of a group of
individuals and decide by that to paint with a broad brush the movement
and it's leaders as a whole. My connnection to Chabad is likely less
direct than many of the others on this list, but sufficient to feel
obligated to reply. My grandfather, R. Ephraim Eliezer Yolles, the
Sambor Rebbi, was a boki both in Toras HaNigla and Nister. He spent much
of his life writing tshuvot, some of which he published before his death.

For many years he exchanged weekly discussions in lumdus (as well as in
chasidus and kaballah) with the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, with whom he
exchanged phone calls, letters and meetings on a regular basis. There are
many many of the old families who have as complete a knowledge of halacha
and psak as any similar set of families from a litvish yeshiva background.

When you discuss the behaviour of the current set of people who are called
the chabad mesheichest group, I only thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu that my
grandfather passed away before this really developed and was spared this

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator

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Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 09:57:05 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Re[2]: RYBS and Psak

I would think that highly involved shei'los that would require a "gadoL" would 
be an obvous exception to the rule.  I was primarily referring to day-to-day 
psak, not the kind of things that would naturally beexcalated to a high level.  
I know he met the late R. Yosef Burg in his NYC aparemnet, I would expcect he 
would be making decisions on "national" matters.

OTOH, I am told that he generally refused to deal with the mundane matters a 
local Rav would/could handle.

How about getting input from other YU grads on this?

Rich Wolpoe

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________

Well, I can tell you a number of instances specifically where he did. I 
should also point out that these Tshuvos were done in his apartment, not in 
the shiur room as far as I know, and often involved major issues requiring 
great delicacy, especially dealing with Baalei Tshuva and tensions between 
increased observance and Kibud Av V'eim, although those were not the only 
issues discussed.


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Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 10:12:11 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Down's syndome etc.

We have a regular "minyan man" in our shul who has Down's syndrome.  Many 
"doctors" more or less wrote him off at least in terms of being able to 

I can tell you for a fact that he can read birachas hatorah, lained 2 aliyos at 
his bar mitzvo, holds down <pun> a steady job, does pesicho, gelilo etc.  He is 
the most alert person in shul wrt to dates and times, (he invariabley reminds me
when we turn the clock backard and forward).  He helps his Mom come to shul - 
which would be diffcult becaue she suffers from macular degeneration.

The mussar heskel to me is we should never understimate the potential of people.
And to learn to focus upon their abilities not their disablities.
BTW, in the area of nissim and niflo'os, a nighbor of mine in Teaneck just woke 
up from a 13-month coma.  I heard that doctors wrote him off as brain-dead (no I
do not have hard meidcal evidence).  I discussed this with a friend who is a 
dentist and I told him WADR what do doctor's know?  He agreed and cited simlar 
stories where a relative was written off as braid dead even though she signalled
them with her eyes..

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 10:34:25 -0500
From: gil.student@citicorp.com
Re: Tzelem Elokim

I apologize if this is not the place for a serious discussion of a dvar 
torah which some might consider blasphemous.  I also apologize for my 
original use of the phrase "totally appalling" which detracts from a 
serious discussion.  I defer to R. Michael Poppers and RYGB who evidently 
took the time to read the whole dvar torah (which is a first-hand document 
written by R. Avi Weiss and not some secondary material as implied by 
someone on the list) and pointed out what they consider to be technical and 
theological flaws in it (which I considered painfully obvoius and did not 
mention in my original post).  I would also like to thank those who sent 
private e-mails in my support.  I will hereby refrain from posting on the 
topic of this dvar torah.

On a related topic, David Finch wrote:

>>I do not understand this discussion. Is there any question of Hashem's 
great love for those born with Down's Syndrome? Do not such persons 
typically exhibit extraordinary capacities for joy, love, and empathy with 
others? Aren't these rare traits among the most difficult for the rest of 
us to acquire in our paths to holiness? Shouldn't we take all of this to 
heart in our own acceptance of these people?>>

First of all, I tried to steer the discussion away from specifically Downs 
Syndrome to more general symptoms which seem to imply a lack of outward 
manifestation of a Tzelem Elokim.  R. Modechai Torczyner pointed out an 
inaccuracy in one of my statements for which I am grateful.

However, the emotional appeal should not change this issue.  I point to the 
Michtav Me'Eliyahu's discussion of the majority of people as simply 
"keilim" who are used for the benefit of the tzadikim and sheleimim (in a 
derasha about the two days of Rosh Hashanah).  This is also echoed by his 
talmid R. Chaim Friedlander in his Sifsei Chaim - Pirkei Emunah 
Vehashgachah.  To them, most people in the world, while certainly 
exhibiting a full range of emotions and even accomplishing a good deal in 
terms of yishuvo shel olam, are simply "keilim" for the creation of a 
suitable enovironment for tzadikim.  This does not mean that these people, 
who certainly have a tzelem Elokim, are worthless and useless.  They are 
assistants to the great people in the world.  Is it so difficult to say 
that there could be people without a tzelem Elokim who are also assistants? 
 I believe that the Rambam writes in the Moreh Nevuchim (1:7) that, at 
least during the time of Adam HaRishon, there were people who did not have 
a tzelem Elokim.

>>In this sense perhaps Hashem has granted people with Down's Syndrome 
extraordinary capacities for their own refined form of Tzelem Elokim. The 
cognitive deficits these people suffer are entirely beside the point. 
Perhaps Hashem is not as preoccupied with our petty intellectual strivings 
as we are.>>

So, you are saying that we are incorrect in identifying a tzelem Elokim 
with anything intellectual including the ability to "know G-d" or the 
ability to intellectually overcome our yetzer hara.  So what is a tzelem 

R. Mark Dratch wrote:

>>The truth is, I find even the discussion of this question-- on a visceral 
level-- a very disturbing one.  Aren't/weren't there socities that thought 
this of those taht were less than perfect-- and what were their fates?>>

Even animals are treated with a great deal of respect and compassion KAL 
V'CHOMER those of whom we are speaking (that is a kal v'chomer NOT AN 
EQUIVALENCE).  We treat gentiles with respect (who are certainly more 
important than animals), even inanimate objects (e.g. bal tashchis).  Our 
thoughts on the definition of a tzelem Elokim are not somehow going to lead 
to a devolution of basic love and respect and a Spartan killing of the 

>>Please, let us not continue this discussion-- the implications of such a 
debate and the potential consequences and misunderstandings by those who 
can't appreciate the purely intellectual gymnastics of this thread, may be 
no less than chillul Hashem.>>

Akiva Miller added:

>>Keep in mind that the archives of this list are indexed by all the major 
search engines in the 'net.>>

I don't think that there are any implications or potential consequences.  
No one here is going to act on any of the theoretical suggestions of the 
definition of a tzelem Elokim which has occupied an important place in 
Jewish thought for centuries.  Antisemites have plenty of material that 
they take (and distort) straight from published material and don't need our 
comments to fule their hate.  Anyone doubting that is welcome to search 
through the 'net for the name "Israel Shahak."

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 07:45:23 -0800 (PST)
From: harry maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Top Ten List

There seems to be a lull in the conversation. 

Yesterday I accessed the Jerusalem Report cite and
found that they are coming out with a millennium
edition theat will list the 100 most influential Jews
of the last millennium.  They invite readers to list
their top 10 and perhaps the reasons for the choices. 
I thought it would be fun to share my own choices with
the list.  

Please feel free to comment, ignore, criticize my
choices,  or modify my list by exchanging your choices
in the order of importance that you feel is
appropriate. I think it would be interesting to hear
from individual members about their choices, and the
reasons thereof.  In the spirit of R. Shaul Weinreb's
desire to get to know each other better, choices to
this list can tell us a lot about how we identify

Here is my list:

1. The Rambam
2.  Rashi
3.  R. Yosef Caro
4.  R. Moses Isserles
5.  The Vilna Gaon
6.  The Baal Shem Tov
7.  R. Chaim Volozhiner
8.  R. Chaim Soloveichik
9.  R. Aharon Kotler
10. R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik

It took me about 3 minutes to come up with this list. 
After thinking about it awhile I came up with several
more names which may qualify but I stuck with my
original choices because ultimately I believe my first
thoughts were correct.  

Some of the names that came to mind were The Ramban,
R. Shraga Fievel Medelowitz, The Chofetz Chaim, R.
Shnayer Zalman, The Mezritcher Magid, R. AY Kook, R.
SR Hirsch and R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Here are the reasons for my choices.

The Rambam because of his Magnum Opus, the Yad
HaChazaka,  extracting all Halacha from the Talmud and
organizing it by subject matter, a feat which has
never been duplicated. Additionally, his treatise on
Jewish Philosophy: the Moreh Nevuchim,  His mastery of
Medicine, and his general level of genius.

Rashi because he opened up the Talmud for all of
subsequent generations.  Without Rashi's commentary,
the Talmud would be a closed book.

R. Yosef Caro who codified In his Shulchan Aruch for
all subsequent generations all practical Halacha in a
simple straight forward manner.

R. Moses Isserles whose glosses to the Shulchan Aruch
is binding law to all Jews of Ashkenazic origin.

The Vilna Gaon, because of his great piety and genius
which is acknowledged by all segments of Jewry, and
because of innovative elimination of excessive pilpul
in learning Talmud, and because of his meticulous and
courageous corrections of Shas.

The Baal Shem Tov whose creation of Chasidus has had
one of the most profound impacts on Judaism since the
Churban Beis HaMikdash.  Chasidus can be credited with
the salvation of Judaism during the turmoil created by
the combined effects of:  enlightenment,  the opening
of general society to the Jews, and the subsequent
threat of Haskalah to a population ill equipped to
handle the onslaught.

R. Chaim Volozhiner, who created the Yeshiva as we
know it today.  Without the Yeshiva, knowledge of the
Torah would have been even more severely limited than
it was.  It was through the yeshiva that the elite
minds of the day were able to get an education and
spread Torah to the masses, and ultimately the Yeshiva
system itself has spread to the masses so that all of
Jewry, regardless of any considerations would have the
opportunity for Torah knowledge.

R. Chaim Soloveitchik because of his revolutionary
approach (of clarity and definition) to learning
Talmud and commentaries (especially the Rambam), which
has been adopted as the standard form of learning in
virtually all Yeshivos today.

R. Aharon  Kotler, whose transplantation of the
classic yeshiva of Europe (i.e. the Volozhinist model)
to American soil and subsequently established almost
singlehandedly the wide system of Yeshiva Chinuch, in
all of it's  facets: elementary,  high school, post
high school Beis Hamedrah, and Kollelim we have in the
US today. Even though Yeshiva Education existed prior
to this time in all facets it was meager and in danger
of becoming extinct.

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik because of his immense
intellect, and knowledge of Torah. His knowledge and
intellect is not disputed even by his biggest
detractors.  His influence on thousands of Talmidim
that he personally taught is probably greater than any
other single individual, and those students are
influencing thousands more.  His profound influence on
society was felt far beyond the borders of YU and
impacted not only the MO but even the RW.   His
Philosophic thought transcends even the Yeshiva world
into the domain of the secular in that he is studied
in universities and was considered the only living
Orthodox Jewish philosopher of the twentieth century. 
His 2 great works, "Halachic Man" and " Lonely Man of
Faith" are studied in JTS and HUC. I personally
believe that his approach as expressed in the above
mentioned books is the quintessential essence of
Judaism and requires that Man not only know all of
Torah that he can but also all of Mada that he can.

If you stuck through it, thanks for reading this
lengthy post.  For those so inclined I'd love to hear
your input.  If there is none, that is fine too. I
won't feel too bad if I'm ignored. It won't be the
first time.


Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at http://auctions.yahoo.com

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