Avodah Mailing List

Volume 04 : Number 384

Monday, February 21 2000

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 12:50:19 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Secret of a Sale

> Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 09:32:17 EST
> From: Chaimwass@aol.com
> Subject: Re: Secret of A Sale
<<Steve Brizel wrote: 

<< The secret of the sale is that you will  see bnei and  bnos Torah as
well as heterodox Jews ranging from Satmar, Mir ,  Lakewood, REITS, Stern
and JYS in one room looking to purchase sifrei Kodesh.  >>
to which chaim wasserman answered:

<<The secret is that it is a sale where real bargains are to be had. The
same  thing happens in Israel when the entire book industry gets together
for its "Shavua haSefer".  The market forces are at work - supply,
demand,  bargain - and then even ferocious ideologues drop their crusades
for truth.>>
	I too would be horrified by the pell mell abandonment of  "crusades for
truth" in the quest for a bargain.  Tsk,  Tsk,  the worst of the
stereotypes of the money hungry Jews.  

	However,   perhaps you could assist me in understanding how buying
seforim abandons a crusade for truth?  What principles are being
compromised in the greed for a bargain?  I fail to understand.

	Maybe,  just maybe,  it is as R' Steve pointed out,  a beautiful thing
to behold,  people of all political leanings united in their thirst for
Torah.  Just maybe.


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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 19:56:27 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
Re: Besmirching Fruhm Sociopaths

On 21 Feb 00, at 12:28, TROMBAEDU@aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 2/21/00 1:10:49 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
> sherer@actcom.co.il writes:

>  This is not the forum for me to discuss this, but I assure you that 
>  > if a group of my friends had been willing to issue loud and clear calls 
> for 
>  > such a Rabbis censure, a great number of people would have avoided a good 
>  > deal of pain and persecution.
>  Lo aleinu, I think we are all aware of such incidents in our 
>  communities and elsewhere.... >>
> Yes, but the Rabbinical establishment dragged their feet on the case of which 
> I speak, and with the notable exception of one Rabbi, has been unwilling to 
> confront that person to this day, and he is still in a position that brings 
> him into contact with hundreds of young people. This has been going on for 
> thirty years.

I'm neither a posek nor a talmid chacham, so take what I say with 
a large grain of salt. But if what you are implying is correct (and if 
my understanding of it is correct), then someone with personal 
knowledge of the situation should reproach this person (and may 
well have already). If he continues to act in the same way, then 
IMHO (and again, I am not a Rav and not a posek and not a talmid 
chacham - just a plain old baalebus who has been through the 
halachos so you'd better ask someone first), that person would not 
be someone who is oseh maaseh amcha (assuming that whatever 
he IS doing is a violation of a clear Torah law). Therefore, it would 
be permitted (for the person who has personal knowledge of what 
this guy has done) to disclose what he has done ba'rabim, if there 
is a toeles such as warning others to stay away from him (or to 
keep their children away from him), or "convincing" him to do 
tshuva. JMHO. CYLOP.

-- Carl

Carl M. Sherer, Adv.
Silber, Schottenfels, Gerber & Sherer
Telephone 972-2-625-7751
Fax 972-2-625-0461

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 13:58:03 -0500
From: "Krischer, Ellen L (Ellen)" <krischer@lucent.com>
RE: If you can't pound 'em with the facts, just pound 'em

	> Um, wrong, R' Chaim. We are still talking about whether this
	> excerpted correspondence should be published, but from another

	> Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

However, it seems from my point of view to be from the angle of "if you
can't successfully attack the work, attack the author."   First we had a
series of halachik arguements about publishing the (SE) letters.  Now that
the editor of the journal has pointed us to his halachik rationale, we have
begun attacking R' Shapiro's ability to be unbiased in his choice of

R' Shapiro posts a defense of his intellectual integrity so we've gone on to
discuss his personal morals, and we dredge up posts from years ago on a
completely different topic!

Micha - just where are the DNA's (Darchei Noam Alerts) on this topic?

Ellen Krischer 

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:10:17 -0500
From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@bellatlantic.net>

Shoshana Boublil asked for a rationale of a talk that she heard which
distinguished between the different modes of relating to G-D expressed
by men and women.  Most people, it was claimed, relate to G-D through
the attribute of "Din", whereas, women, should naturally relate to G-D
via the attribute of "Rachamim".

There are a number of ways of understanding those statements.  One way
is to assume that the statement is merely a reflection of the centrality
of halachic pathways and perspectives in the way a frum person relates
to G-D.  "Din" is thus used as a homonym for halacha rather than
severity or strict judgement.  There is, however, a more direct,
personal way of relating to G-D, that is, through intense prayer,
particularly prayer which uses the person's own words.  The tefilla of
Chana for a son is the prototypical biblical example of such prayer and

Another way is based on the Mechilta on Ex. 19:3 that Rashi cites and
modifies.  "...Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the
children of Israel".  Rashi comments that two audiences are being
addressed, the women who are called the house of Jacob, and the men who
are the childen (literally, sons) of Israel.  The women are to be
addressed in a pleasant, appealing manner, whereas the men are to be
told the detailed laws and their associated punishments.  The women are
to be encouraged to serve G-D out of love, whereas the men are to be
told what they must do - or else.  It is generally acknowledged that
avodah of love is superior to avodah from fear or awe.  Perhaps the Rav
was suggesting that women should excell in the former, superior avodah
to which they would naturally gravitate.

Yitzchok Zlochower

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 13:37:55 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: If you can't pound 'em with the facts, just pound 'em

I would ask you to read the book I just finished, I cited it earlier.
"Inventing the Middle Ages" by Norman Cantor. If you need help in locating
it, please let me know.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL 60659
http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila    ygb@aishdas.org

----- Original Message -----
From: Krischer, Ellen L (Ellen) <krischer@lucent.com>
To: <avodah@aishdas.org>
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 12:58 PM
Subject: RE: If you can't pound 'em with the facts, just pound 'em

> However, it seems from my point of view to be from the angle of "if you
> can't successfully attack the work, attack the author."   First we had a
> series of halachik arguements about publishing the (SE) letters.  Now that
> the editor of the journal has pointed us to his halachik rationale, we
> begun attacking R' Shapiro's ability to be unbiased in his choice of
> sources.
> R' Shapiro posts a defense of his intellectual integrity so we've gone on
> discuss his personal morals, and we dredge up posts from years ago on a
> completely different topic!
> Micha - just where are the DNA's (Darchei Noam Alerts) on this topic?
> Ellen Krischer

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:46:06 EST
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
re: The SE letters - Some Imprerssions

R' Harry Maryles writes <<< It is one thing for a historian to read those
letters and then form a conclusion based on them and it is quite another
thing to publish, what had to be understood as the most private of
thoughts by the SE. >>>

I only see a difference of degree, not of kind. Either they're both ok,
or both wrong (to whatever degree of wrongness you like). Are historians
some kind of priveleged class of person which exempts them from the usual

I ***might*** understand if you had singled out gedolim, or some other
kind of *leader*, upon whom Klal Yisroel relies, and who needs a deeper
than average understanding of his flock. But a historian? What makes him
different than a novelist or any other kind of author?

Akiva Miller

Juno now offers FREE Internet Access!
Try it today - there's no risk!  For your FREE software, visit:

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:48:26 -0500
From: meir shinnar <shinname@UMDNJ.EDU>
SE impressions

Some last impressions on the Seride Esh discussion:
1) So far, no one has brought a single source that CDRG applies after
death.  The closest is a statement by RYGB's rosh yeshiva that the
publication of intimate letters of the hida may (!!!) be a violation of
CDRG.   Even if such an issur exists, the discussion here clearly
suggests that ignorance of it is clearly excusable.  Even for a living
person, many require that one know that one is transgressing CDRG for
CDRG to apply (ignorance of this law is an excuse...) (See ET)

2) Issues of lashon hara have been raised.  While lashon hara does apply
after death, its appilicability in this case seems questionable at best,
as many on this list still don't see the gnut involved, and furthermore
see a clear to'elet.  However, its application is even more problematic
here, as some posts have engaged in clear lashon hara on the living (see
below).  R Frankel has also pointed out the lashon hara involved in the
previous discussion of R Mendelsohn, which seems not to have bothered

3) RMS has been attacked here in several ways, in addition to the
publication of the letters.
    A poster actually accused RMS of intellectual dishonesty for daring
to publish his biography and reach conclusions on the SE while admitting
that he did not have full access to some letters.  This seems plain
lashon hara, and as such deserves condemnation, especially by those who
seem so concerned about possible lashon hara.(those who listen passively
are also guilty of lashon hara...) Outside of RMS's impassioned defense
of his integrity, I have not seen anyone bothered by it.

Other posters, while not accusing RMS of intellectual dishonesty, have
cast doubt on his interpretation and publication of the data.  While
interpretative biases are a fact of life, some of the letters seemed to
cross the line.

Thus, some of the letters attacked him not only for his conclusions, but
suggested that his biases affected the selection of the material that
was published.  As RMS has stated that he published all the material
available, with the exception of eliminating identifying information
about people being disparaged, this accusation too crosses the line.
All the evidence suggests that RMS is a very careful professional
historian.  While one might weigh the evidence differently, we should be
careful about accusations of distortion, especially against someone
whose career is dependent on his intellectual integrity.

We need not agree with the conclusions of RMS.  However, the laws of
lashon hara don't apply only to talking about the SE, they also apply to
talking about his biographer.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 15:10:31 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Besmirching Fruhm Sociopaths

In a message dated 2/21/00 11:56:57 AM US Central Standard Time, 
cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il writes:

<<  If he continues to act in the same way, then 
 IMHO (and again, I am not a Rav and not a posek and not a talmid 
 chacham - just a plain old baalebus who has been through the 
 halachos so you'd better ask someone first), that person would not 
 be someone who is oseh maaseh amcha (assuming that whatever 
 he IS doing is a violation of a clear Torah law). Therefore, it would 
 be permitted (for the person who has personal knowledge of what 
 this guy has done) to disclose what he has done ba'rabim, if there 
 is a toeles such as warning others to stay away from him (or to 
 keep their children away from him), or "convincing" him to do 
 tshuva. JMHO. CYLOP. >>

In some states, someone who has personal knowledge that another has committed 
certain crimes, such as sexual child abuse, is obligated to report the crime 
to the authorities. Otherwise that person is himself committing a crime. 

Why is this thread called "Besmirching Frum Sociopaths"? Frum sociopaths 
should be let alone, so long as they don't bother anybody. Should the thread 
be recaptioned "Besmirching Frum Predatory Criminals"? If that caption is 
more accurate, then the community's obligations to the victims and to the law 
is more obvious.

David Finch

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 15:10:14 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Avodah/Aishdas First Annual Midwest Regional Conference in Chicago

When are we going to be zoche to "chazaras hashiur"?


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 15:06:16 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Ban on Cigarettes

> Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:51:00 +0200
> From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
> Subject: Ban on Cigarettes?
<<Sometimes I think the Gdolim read Avodah :-) This came from today's
Jerusalem Post....>>

	I prefer to think that we on Avodah are mechaven to some issues which
the gedolim consider berumo shel olam;    that we are not (only <g>)
spouting hot air.


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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 15:17:46 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: The SE letters - Some Imprerssions

In a message dated 2/21/00 1:46:51 PM US Central Standard Time, 
kennethgmiller@juno.com writes:

<< But a historian? What makes him
 different than a novelist or any other kind of author? >>
Historians aren't different. Anyone who seeks to apply the historical method 
to in learning about the past is an "historian." Anyone who rights down his 
thoughts for publication can be a scholar, if the thoughts are good enough. 
Isn't "good enough" the only test?

David Finch

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 15:17:23 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Daf Yomi Query

> Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 08:47:01 -0600
> From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" 
> <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
> Subject: Daf Yomi Query
<<Interesting Gemaros about the Giv'onim and Dovid on Yevamos 78-79.  See
also the Michtav Me'Eliyahu vol. 5 p. 279. Are there ramifications for
modren application in the Middle East...?>>


<<Wait till you get there >>

	Since I,  like RCS,  am in possession of no more than the first three
volumes of Michtav Me'Eliahu,  but AM up to date in Daf Yomi,  could you


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Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 22:19:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Edward Weiss <esweiss@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Diyukim

On Sun, 20 Feb 2000, Avodah wrote:

> From: "Shlomo Godick" <shlomog@mehish.co.il>
> Subject: Diyukim
> I spoke to a member of our minyan who is an impressive talmid
> chacham, baal dikduk, and yekke to boot!   He told me he heard
> He also contends that there should be no pause between 
> "m'shuleshes" and "batorah" for the following reason:
> If there were a pause, the sentence structure would be very 
> disjointed, with "ham'shuleshes" modifying "bracha", 
> "ha-ksuva" modifiying "torah", and then "mipi Aharon" going
> back and modifying "bracha".   Without that  pause, all three 
> of the adjectival phrases modify "bracha".

 Perhaps you could also ask this fellow how he translates "hamshusheles
baTorah" (no pause intended), presuming he doesn't add on the "she" that
someone mentioned in the name of RYBS (correct me if I'm wrong..).

 Shlomo Weiss

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:20:53 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
Jerusalem Report Article on the Internet Ban

This came from the current edition of the Jerusalem Report 
(available at www.jrep.com). Any comments?

-- Carl

Surfing Past the Rabbis 
Erik Schechter 

(February 28, 2000) Asked to choose between pleasing the rabbinical authorities
and feeding their families, ultra-Orthodox high-techies are paying little
heed to calls to disconnect from the Web.

"Look at this!" exclaims Haim, indignantly recoiling from his computer. "I
try to find a technology site, and this is what I get" -- a banner at the
top of his screen showing three naked women caressing themselves.

Shmuel, Haim's colleague, shifts uncomfortably in his chair and chooses
not to peer over. His terminal is in screensaver mode, displaying G-rated
pictures of dolphins, lions and kittens.

Shmuel and Haim are programmers at Versaware, a high-tech firm in Jerusalem's
Talpiot Industrial Zone that publishes electronic books on the Internet. Merely
by doing his job, Shmuel is defying his rabbi. The rabbinical court of the
Edah Haredit, an umbrella group that represents the most fanatic 5 percent
of the ultra-Orthodox population, has denounced the Internet as "a deadly
poison" which "burns souls" and outlawed its use.

Haim, who does not follow an Edah rabbi, is in grayer territory: While
mainstream ultra-Orthodox clergy are unhappy about the Internet, they have
stopped short of banning it. Instead, in a ruling issued last month, Rabbis
Yosef Shalom Eliashiv and Aaron Yehuda Leib Sheinman and other prominent
ultra-Orthodox authorities forbade the Net at home and urged their flocks to
minimize its use at work. "Professionals who need the Internet for their
livelihood," they declared, "must find every means possible to limit its
use." Although Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, spiritual mentor of the ultra-Orthodox Shas
party, did not sign the ruling, his aides say that he backs it, and that Shas
-- although it uses satellite technology to broadcast Yosef's weekly sermons
around the world -- does not maintain a website and has no plans to launch one.

Ironically, the rabbinical ruling was posted on the Net by one ultra-Orthodox
news service -- even though its principal publication, in accordance with the
community's custom, was in large black type on posters pasted on the walls
in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods like Jerusalem's Geulah and Me'ah She'arim.

For decades, Israeli ultra-Orthodox rabbis have maintained a largely successful
ban on TV in their communities -- to shield them from far milder erotica
and violent imagery than that available over the Internet. So the new bans
and restrictions come as no surprise.

The trouble is that high-tech work -- which today inevitably involves the
Internet -- is becoming ever more integral to the ultra- Orthodox economy.
Increasing numbers of male and, especially, female members of the community
have been flooding into the high-tech business -- drawn in because their
lack of university education is not a barrier and because, in some cases,
they can work from home; at present, there are 20-35,000 computers in Israel's
80-100,000 ultra-Orthodox residences, estimates Shai Horovitz, spokesman for
the Manof Jewish Information Service, an ultra-Orthodox media relations firm.

For those who elect to follow the letter of the Edah's ruling, there's
no alternative: They must give up their jobs. But among the rest of the
ultra-Orthodox, a significant number of people for the first time must choose
between pleasing their rabbis and feeding their families -- and it's the
rabbis who are coming off second best.

The nude image that popped up on Haim's screen gives only the smallest hint of
the rabbis' concerns. The fact is that the Internet, whatever else it may be,
is also the world's electronic sex highway -- strewn with soft -- and hard-core
pornography. And a Net surfer need not be seeking out off-color material; it
can pop up unbidden. Innocuous key words can lead to sex sites. Pornographers
will even select innocent- sounding site names to lure unsuspecting surfers:
Whitehouse.com is emphatically not the homepage of the U.S. presidential
residence. But the Web's route to virtual sex, and to images of violence,
is not all that troubles the rabbis. They fear the Web because it delivers
the secular world in its entirety into ultra-Orthodox living rooms. "Some
sections of the Me'ah She'arim community have managed to shut themselves off
from the modern world," says Ezra Rosenfeld, 47, the American-born director
of the Tzomet Institute, a modern Orthodox non-profit organization that
finds technological solutions to problems of Jewish law. "TVs are banned;
secular newspapers aren't read; people don't read secular books, they don't
go to the movies. Now the rabbis are trying to block the Net."

The rabbis have taken a heroic decision and I hope the ban succeeds," says
Rabbi Shmuel Jacobovits, director of Ura Kevodi, the Jerusalem-based Haredi
Association for the Study of Contemporary Issues. "Globalization tends, if
not to eradicate moral strength, then to weaken it." As a forum for so many
different points of view, so many lifestyle choices, asserts Jacobovits,
the son of the late chief rabbi of Britain, "the Internet represents
permissiveness, superficiality and the free play of ideas at the expense of
any particular idea standing firm."

But other ultra-Orthodox figures, while endorsing the rabbis' concerns,
fear that the calls to boycott the Web have come too late and that, while
there will not be open defiance of the rabbis, the ruling will be ignored
or seen as an ideal, rather than a realistic proposal.

"The view from the street is that the rabbis missed the opportunity,"
says Yehudah Meshi-Zahav, who handles Edah relations with the outside
world. "Computer use is 10 percent higher among the ultra-Orthodox than in
the general public. Most houses already have a computer."

The best hope, he says, is that the ruling will dampen rampant enthusiasm
for the Internet. "Maybe in the margins, in certain groups, it will be less
talked about."

Indeed, elaborates Bar-Ilan University sociologist Menachem Friedman, the
very fact that the non-Edah ultra-Orthodox stopped short of an all-out ban,
"and adopted a compromise position... underlines the recognition that a
complete ban is unrealistic and counterproductive economically."

The initial impact of the rabbis' call appears to bear this out. Netvision,
one of Israel's leading Internet providers, has seen no decline in new
accounts, and no closing of existing accounts in ultra- Orthodox areas like
B'nai Brak. Yossi Mukads of Gezernet, another provider, emphasizes that his
firm has "no shortage of customers in B'nai Brak."

"We're just going over the accounts for last month, and we haven't had a
single customer asking to be disconnected because of the rulings," says
spokeswoman Liat Ya'ari at Aquanet, a smaller provider.

What about the workplace? Are ultra-Orthodox high- techies quitting their
jobs, or demanding work that keeps them away from the Net? Ultra-Orthodox
employees at Virtual Communities Israel Ltd., a Jerusalem company that hosts
Israel-related websites, preferred not to talk to The Report. But manager
David Kahn says that the rulings have had no effect there. And Gidon Tahan of
Internet provider Galine says he's seen no impact on his own ultra-Orthodox
employees, including women who work from home.

Posters announcing the rabbinical rulings are prominently displayed near the
Me'ah She'arim branch of Torah Scholar Software. Inside, though, Net-related
software is for sale -- on a rack near the entrance, for instance, is a program
for translating web material from English to Hebrew. And at the Netcafe in
the boisterous Russian Compound, a center of Jerusalem night life about three
blocks from the edge of Me'ah She'arim, there are plenty of ultra-Orthodox
youngsters mixing with modern-Orthodox customers around the terminals.

Gavriel and Avraham, two former Chicagoans who now study at the Mir yeshivah,
are checking out the latest Bulls scores. "We shouldn't be doing this," says
Gavriel, a little sheepishly. "But we're diehard sports fans. The rabbis are
right to a certain extent. We should be learning. Once you get on the Net,
the yetzer hara (the evil instinct) can take over."

Back at Versaware, Shmuel reads over an Edah handbill calling for a total
abstention from the Internet -- something that would end his career if he
obeyed. "We haven't yet gotten to their standard," he says softly, sadly. "If
I were at that spiritual level, I guess, I would pack up and learn [Torah]
all day. But, and I'm not sure if this is right" he goes on, apparently
fumbling for justification, "there are 70 faces to the Torah. The tribe of
Zebulun supported the tribe of Issachar while it sat and learned Torah."

In fact, some members of the latter day "Tribe of Issachar" are themselves
embracing the Net, using websites to spread their message to potential
supporters. The Chabad movement, for instance, maintains dozens, if not
hundreds of sites, in English, Hebrew and many other languages. Visitors
to www.chabad.org are welcomed to "Chabad- Lubavitch in Cyberspace" with a
picture of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and a "chassidic thought"
for the day; www.tzivos- hashem.org, homepage of a Chabad-affiliated youth
organization, offers colorfully illustrated children's stories and pen
pal links; www.kesser.org plays Chabad tunes and displays Chabad artwork;
www.shemayisrael.co.il/mikvaos/ features an international directory of
ritual baths.

Chabad's Israel spokesman Menahem Brod says the movement's rabbinical court
has made no rulings on the issue, but the general feeling is "whatever can
be used to spread Judaism and hasidism not only can, but must, be used." In
terms of internal consumption among the faithful, however, Brod is a lot
less tolerant: "Anyone bringing a computer into his home should know that
it isn't a harmless tool."

At the root of this more pragmatic approach, adds Rosenfeld, is the
understanding that to ignore the Web altogether would be "like saying that
you can't put an ad in a newspaper because some other ads there might be
immodest or express a philosophy with which you disagree."

Ultimately, Bar-Ilan's Friedman believes that, rabbinical orders
notwithstanding, the Internet will infiltrate secular ideas into the
ultra-Orthodox community, and this will chip people away. That, he says, is
the price the community must pay for enjoying the modern conveniences of the
West. "You can't say I'll enjoy the Western world up until a certain limit,"
he argues. "In five, ten years, the Internet will be used to fulfill basic
needs like paying your bills. It'll be impossible to control access to it."

Indeed, when The Report asked the Manof information center to fax the text
of a rabbinical rationale for the Internet rulings, spokesman Shai Horovitz
replied, "Sorry, I don't have that in front of me.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 12:18:12 -0500 (EST)
From: shapirom2@UofS.edu (Shapiro Marc B)
Marc Shapiro's agenda

Just one more point re. my supposed agenda. I do have an agenda -- it is to
write good history, and good history includes offering interpretations of
history, not simply reporting facts.

But for those who see me as having different agenda, ponder this. I submitted
a paper for the upcoming Feminism and Orthodoxy conference. Of course, since I
belleved this to be a real conference I was sure it would be accepted. However,
it was turned down. As I commented to one of the members of this list, how
ironic that they will be selling my book and using R. Weinberg as one of
their gedolim and yet they won't permit me to speak. I also told him that
had I suggested a topic such as "R. Weinberg as a feminist" or something
similar I would certainly be speaking there this weekend.

Well, why was my paper turned down? You figure it out, the title presented
was "Orthodoxy and Feminism: The Unbridgeable Chasm." This was to have been a
historical treatement of the issue, paying close attention to the development
of Orthodoxy (which I think I know something about.) The conclusion of
the paper is that what's been taking place recently cannot be regarded as
"Orthodox". But the feminists, in agreement with some people on this list,
also thought I had an agenda, so the paper was rejected.

Since I continue to be the focus of some of these posts (won't they ever
end . . .) I will reply once more. I don't see how not believing in the
literal truth of the flood story (not denying a flood, just saying that
not everyone alive today and not every animal from Argentina to New Guinea
is descended from Noah and his ark -- i e., that the language used in the
Torah, which says that the entire world and everything on it was destroyed
4000 years ago, is not literal --) has much to do with writing a biography
of a 19-20th century halakhic figure.

As to the flood business -- if what I said means that I'm a heretic, fine,
but then there are a lot of them out there (as I know from conversations
I've had with many people and rabbis, whose names are well-known on this
list. Also, I don't think there is an important scientist in the world who
disagrees with me (Yes, I know they too have agendas . . .) . There were
gedolim who opposed Copernicus and Darwin, but you can only stick your head
in the sand for so long before the accepted science begins to make standard
religious beliefs appear questionable and in need of reinterpretation). See
my book where I note what R. Weinberg writes about heresy, and how it can
come from the holy (and cf. R. Kook's writings on the sources of heresy,
and Maharal about questioning religious truths -- and remember that the seal
of God is truth and therefore one must advocate what one takes to be true,
even if it is unconventional, and even if others regard it as heretical,
since if you believe it to be true you have no choice but to assert it
[see beg. of Horayot -- and ponder, was the Zaken Mamre really a bad guy,
acc. to halakhah he had no choice but to assert what he did and suffer the
consequences in the name of God [see Klapper in Beit Yitzhak of a few years
ago], or at least believe it privately (see Albo, Ikkarim, re. honest errors of
belief), Long ago Hasdai Crescas argued that we don't really have free will,
but you don't need to go this far to realize that thoughts are hardly free --
not to mention the fundamental moral difficulty of judging people based upon
that which is beyond their control, i.e., what they believe.) I note that
Spero, and Schroeder and Wolowelsky have written similar things re. the flood
and I could go on rambling, but I don't see the point. As for allegories,
there are many examples of allegorizing the Torah, but people like Caspi and
Narboni and others of their ilk certainly don't provide a tree to hang onto,
if that's what you are looking for.

But, I think many people on this list are probably in a vacuum and don't
realize what's going on in places like Bar Ilan and elsewhere. The parameters
of heresy have been expanded in the last couple of generations (in Bar Ilan,
for example, Z. Frankel's method raises no eyebrows. Incidentally, Weinberg
differed with Hirsch on how to categorize Frankel.)

A final point, and with this I say goodbye to Avodah and wish you all well
in your search for truth: Once you start making judgments about people's
analytical skills based on their theological beliefs, then you can say
goodbye to the study of Jewish history, since great scholars like Harry
Wolfson, Louis Finkelstein, Gershom Scholem etc. etc must then be thrown out.
Maybe some people on this list want to do that, but then let's be honest
and admit that you can't do history.

Some of the greatest scholarship has been done by complete unbelievers. This
doesn't mean that their own preuppositions haven't influenced them. But this
must be shown, you must show where this has happened. You can't just declare
that because of a person's beliefs all his writings are suspect, unless you
want to be regarded as completely uncritical and obscurantist. I discussed
this issue in my book, ch. 4, re. the dispute between Hoffmann and Hirsch.

I have been rambling and haven't read it over for style and mistakes, so
please excuse me.

       Marc Shapiro

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 13:39:05 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
60 Minutes

--- "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer"
<sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu> wrote:
> Interesting Gemaros about the Giv'onim and Dovid on
> Yevamos 78-79. See also
> the Michtav Me'Eliyahu vol. 5 p. 279. Are there
> ramifications for modren
> application in the Middle East...?

With whom are you compring the Givonim, the Arabs or
the Chilonim :)

Last night on the CBS program sixty Minutes there was
a segment about the Israeli "war" between Charedim and
Chilonim. The hate that secular society has for
religious society is enormous. Attempts by members of
the Charedi establishment towards defending their
views fall on defiant ears. The legitimate argument by
R. Aharon Feldman that Torah Judaism is the only hope
for survival of the Jewish people is ridiculed by the
likes of Zev Chafets and Tommy Lapid. And Orthodox
Jewish writer Naomi Regan's attacks on Charedi society
are hardly any better. Reporter Bob Simon claimed that
the religious fundementalists are becoming more and
more powerful with the passing of time due to the
increased birth rate of Charedim (average number of
children: 7) and decreased birth rate amongst chilonim
(average  number of childre: 2). In a generation or
two, the Prime Minister will be wearing a Black Hat.  

Is this something to be happy about?

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