mail-jewish Vol.65 #65 Digest

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Jul 26, 2022, 4:26:35 PMJul 26
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Volume 65 Number 65
Produced: Tue, 26 Jul 22 16:26:32 -0400


Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Israeli singer defends refusal to shake Biden's hand (2)
[Yisrael Medad Martin Stern]
Sefer Bound Upside-Down (3)
[Michael Mirsky Perry Zamek Stuart Pilichowski]
The nature of Midrash (was Ba'al Peor and Balfour)
[Martin Stern]
The purpose of the IDF (was Israelis Don't Turn Up for Reserve Duty)
[Martin Stern]



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From: Yisrael Medad <yisrae...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 25,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Israeli singer defends refusal to shake Biden's hand

Prof. Levine asks (MJ 65#64):

> Why is it that those who live in what they term a Jewish State are opposed to
> basic halacha?

a. It is the Jewish state and not just "what they term".

b. Does he really think, or imagine, that "basic halacha" is somehow a presumed
obligatory, or even an accepted, mode of behavior amongst Jews anywhere? (not to
mention the various exceptions in the case of mixed-sex handshaking - and
ignoring that Biden is not Jewish)

--
Yisrael Medad
Shiloh
Israel

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From: Martin Stern <md.s...@ntlworld.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 25,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Israeli singer defends refusal to shake Biden's hand

Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#64):

> An Israeli pop star who caused an outcry in Israel when she refused to shake
> hands with visiting US President Joe Biden due to her religious beliefs, has
> defended her actions and called on her critics to apologize.
> ...
> Why is it that those who live in what they term a Jewish State are opposed to
> basic halacha?

Though in many circles nowadays, shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex
is thought to be a heinous sin, this is not the case. My wife's great
grandfather, Rav Shlomo Carlebach of Lubeck (founder of the famous German
Carlebach rabbinic family) wrote on this matter. He made two points:

First handshaking is perceived in general society as a formal courtesy with no
sexual overtones, so there would not actually be any prohibition, though one
might wish to avoid it where possible as a siyag [extra precaution].

Second refusing to shake a proffered hand might be interpreted by the other
party as being an insult, so where unavoidable it should be permitted under the
rubric of kevod habriot [respectful behaviour to others].

I think this was the general practice in Germany in Orthodox circles and, in
view of Professor Levine's many admiring comments on Torah im Derekh Eretz, I am
surprised that he should refer to its avoidance as "basic halacha" as opposed to
a pious stringency.

This is not to suggest that one should routinely shake hands with memebers of
the opposite sex but where doing so might generate ill-will, there is room for
leniency. In fact one should try to avoid it where possible. Often this can be
done, for example at a reception, by having both hands full - each person can
judge the situation as it occurs to see what can be done without appearing
conspicuously rude.

Dayan Berger, Av Beth Din of the Manchester Beth Din, told of when he was
introduced to Margaret Thatcher, then UK Prime Minister, when she came to
Manchester. He explained to her that he did not shake hands with women and she
commented that the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, did not seem to have such
qualms. He replied "Ah, but I belong to an enclosed order!" It seems she understood.

Martin Stern

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From: Michael Mirsky <mir...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 25,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Sefer Bound Upside-Down

Immanual Burton wrote (MJ 65#64):

> Following on from the discussion about placing a tallit on top of a siddur,
> what are people's thoughts regarding a sefer that has been bound upside-down,
> i.e. the cover has been attached upside-down? Which way up should it be placed
> on a shelf? Should it be placed the right way up for the cover so that it
> doesn'tappear as if it's upside-down, or should it be place the right way up
> for the contents?

When I bought a set of shas about 30 years ago, I found a volume that had that
defect. I skirted around the issue by cutting off the cover at the paper
endpieces and put the cover back on in the correct orientation!

Michael Mirsky
Yerushalayim

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From: Perry Zamek <perry...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 26,2022 at 12:17 AM
Subject: Sefer Bound Upside-Down

In response to Immanuel Burton (MJ 65#54):

I have such a sefer, one of my collection of Schottenstein Gemara volumes. I
have it upside down (from the point of view of the external viewer).

It seems to me that it is an issue of ikar and tafel (primary and secondary
purposes). The primary purpose of a sefer is as a container for its content, and
the cover is secondary to the pages of the book itself. Hence the pages should
be in the correct orientation, even at the expense of having the cover upside down.

Of course, those who acquire sefarim because they look good on the shelf should
probably do the opposite, since an upside down volume is visually jarring, and
for them the cover is the ikar, and the content tafel.

Perry Zamek -
Translator

C: 054-7513819
E: <mailto:perry...@gmail.com> perry...@gmail.com
W: perryzamek.com
--

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From: Stuart Pilichowski <stup...@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 26,2022 at 12:17 AM
Subject: Sefer Bound Upside-Down

In response to Immanuel Burton (MJ 65#54):

I have such an Artscroll siddur. I pasted a sticker on the spine with a
directional arrow. Simple and gets the job done.

Permit me a moment of chutzpah: we have more important things to worry about.
Perhaps a subject for MJ - Ikar and Tafail.

[Perhaps Stuart would like to start the discussion - we welcome contributions on
'novel' topics - MOD]

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Martin Stern <md.s...@ntlworld.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 26,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: The nature of Midrash (was Ba'al Peor and Balfour)

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#64):

> Prof. L. Levine quotes in response to my reaction to his quoting a "Gadol",
> from a Neturei Karta site, enough to disqualify his outlook approach, that we
> need depend on the Three Oaths as if they can prohibit "mass return to Erztz
> Yisrael". They cannot and the simple proof is that one of the Oaths
> 'prohibits' "the nations that they would not oppress Israel too much". That
> has never been the case and so, elementary logic indicates that it is just a
> Midrash.

Yisrael is making a fundamental error in referring to the Three Oaths as"just a
Midrash" as if it were some sort of fairy tale, which can be ignored by
'enlightened' people.

While a midrash, by its very nature, is not meant to be understood in a literal
sense, this does not mean that it is not meant to carry a valuable message,
albeit clothed in a poetic or allegorical form.

The failure of the nations to abide by their oath "that they would not oppress
Israel too much" might be understood as removing the prohibited "mass return to
Eretz Yisrael" by Jewish people but this requires closer study.

As someone once put it (I think it was Rabbi Irving Jacobs z"l, former Principal
of Jews' College in London, who was an expert on the genre):

"Someone who discards a midrash as farfetched is an apikoros but one who
understands literally is a fool".

Martin Stern

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Martin Stern <md.s...@ntlworld.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 26,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: The purpose of the IDF (was Israelis Don't Turn Up for Reserve Duty)

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#64):

> IMHO the charedim should be doing national service not Army service. The
> purpose of the IDF is not the integration of Israeli society. It is to protect
> Israel and win wars. B'siyyata d'shmaya we will continue to do so.

I am not sure that David is correct that the original "purpose of the IDF is not
the integration of Israeli society". I seem to remember that Ben Gurion did see
this as its primary purpose and this is why he insisted in disbanding the
various pre-state militias and their being subsumed in the IDF.

He saw it as a way to save the 'primitive' Mizrachi Jews from their backward
traditional mellah culture and integrate them into the modern world. He also
expected it to help break down the old golus mentality of the chareidim and make
them useful citizens of the new Jewish state.

It was largely successful with the former though it produced much social
dislocation but encountered more opposition from the latter who never really
acknowledged Israel as a "Jewish state", merely another stage in the long saga
of Exile - a "golus beim Yidden" as Noson Birnbaum put it.

Martin Stern

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