mail-jewish Vol.65 #40 Digest

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Jun 3, 2022, 11:43:05 AM6/3/22
Mail.Jewish Mailing List
Volume 65 Number 40
Produced: Fri, 03 Jun 22 11:43:03 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Branches of Judaism?
[Martin Stern]
Chabad Officially Proclaims The Rebbe is Moshiach (2)
[Yisrael Medad Immanuel Burton]
Chassidic Leaders Blast Rioters Over Violence, Chillul Shabbos
[Prof. L. Levine]
Free will vs hashgacha
[Joel Rich]
[Martin Stern]
Minhag America
[Joel Rich]


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, May 29,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Branches of Judaism?

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 65#39):

> In response to Prof. L. Levine (MJ 65#38):
> We seem to be enamored with labels -- not limited to identifying formal
> religious organizations.
> How about labels "Open Orthodox", "Chasidish", "Liberal" ... - the list goes on.
> To what purpose is our expanded taxonomy? Do we wish to further separate?
> because "They're not like us."
> Or can we unite, focusing on commonalities?

While I agree with Carl that we should avoid unnecessary splits in the
Jewish people, I think there must be a limit as to how far a group deviates
from normative Judaism. This was the point that Rav Shimon Shwab, ZT"L, whom
Prof. Levine was quoting, was making.

Where one draws the line may be a matter of dispute but such a line must
exist unless Judaism is defined as ANY religion espoused by ANY person who
CLAIMS to be a Jew, i.e. a meaningless term. As Rav Shwab put it, otherwise:

>> Could not the Jews for J ... one day claim to be a branch of Judaism, since
>> their main objective seems to be to present a picture of unity to the outside
>> world and to display unlimited [love] for all of our fellow Jews?

and nobody could object.

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad <>
Date: Mon, May 30,2022 at 01:17 AM
Subject: Chabad Officially Proclaims The Rebbe is Moshiach

Prof. L. Levine (MJ 65#40), providing us with a video, "Chabad Officially Proclaims
The Rebbe is Moshiach" wherein it speaks of RMMS as though he were still alive,
asks "Reactions?"

Mine: What's new under the sun? The Meshichistim have been doing this for
decades. Oh, and what does "officially" mean?

Yisrael Medad


From: Immanuel Burton <>
Date: Mon, May 30,2022 at 10:17 PM
Subject: Chabad Officially Proclaims The Rebbe is Moshiach

Professor Levine wrote (MJ 65#39):

> If you think that the messianic movement within Chabad is dead, you are very
> wrong.
> See the video, "Chabad Officially Proclaims The Rebbe is Moshiach" at
> where it calls for viewers:
>> Sign up, accept the Rebbe as Moshiach enabling him to redeem the whole world!
> Note how it speaks of RMMS as though he were still alive.

The Rambam writes in the Laws of Kings and Wars, chapter 11, paragraph 4
(translation from

> Now, if a king should arise from the House of David who is versed in Torah
> and engages in the Commandments, as did David his forefather, in accordance
> with both the Written and the Oral Torahs, and he enjoins all of Israel to
> follow in its ways and encourages them to repair its breaches, and he fights
> the Wars of G-d [i.e. he defends Israel], then he may be presumed to be the
> Messiah. If he succeeds in his efforts and defeats the enemies around and
> builds the Sanctuary in its proper place and gathers the dispersed of Israel,
> he is definitely the Messiah.

It seems to be that whether or not one believes that Moshiach will arise from
the dead, or if the Lubavticher Rebbe is Moshiach, there's a logical impasse
here. If one looks carefully at the series of accomplishments that the Rambam
requires and the stages at which that person is presumed to be Moshiach, a
person is confirmed as Moshiach only AFTER they have achieved everything on the
list. Surely, therefore, if someone comes along and says, "I'm the Moshiach;
follow me to Israel", then isn't he jumping the gun with that proclamation?

The next logical step from this is that if one declares someone to be Moshiach
when in fact they are not, does that mean that one is now no longer awaiting the
actual Moshiach, which may be contrary to the Rambam's 12th Principle of Faith?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Prof. L. Levine <>
Date: Thu, Jun 2,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Chassidic Leaders Blast Rioters Over Violence, Chillul Shabbos

VINnews reported (2 June):

> About ten days after heavy violence and riots took place on the streets of
> Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Ashdod, in which followers of "mainstream" Ger
> assaulted followers of Rav Shaul Alter, three Admori"m spoke out against the
> violence and chillul Shabbos.
> The Rebbes of Vizhnitz, Karlin-Stolin, and Pshevarsk sharply criticized the
> behavior of the rioters.
> As reported on Charedi news website Kikar Shabbos, while addressing followers
> at a Rosh Chodesh Tisch, the Karliner Rebbe said: "Nowadays, people have
> beaten and hit others in the streets, while desecrating Shabbos and
> desecrating Hashem.
> "I do not understand how it is appropriate to do such acts after difficult
> periods and times that Am Yisrael have been going through for 2000 years. We
> have so many troubles and things that we face, how could it be that our own
> people will do such deeds?
> "To be a G-d-fearing Jew means to accept the Torah and keep what is written
> in the Torah. What is allowed to be done according to the Torah is allowed,
> and what is forbidden to do - is forbidden, without excuses and heterim.
> "To beat a Jew is an act that must not be done, no matter what the situation.
> Every child knows and knows the story that happened to Moshe Rabbeinu who
> said, 'Evil man, why should you strike your neighbor?'
> "There is a lot of talk about our desire to be respected and the importance
> of Shmiras Shabbos, but suddenly because of foolish nonsense [people]
> desecrate Shabbos and hurt others, what kind of image do we show the outside
> world, while we have such behavior happening within [our community]?"
> The Vizhnitzer Rebbe and Rebbe of Pshevarsk also publicly condemned the
> behavior, at gatherings with their followers.

These condemnations are certainly appropriate. My questions are "What took them
so long to issue these condemnations?", "Where are the condemnations of other
Chassidic leaders?", and "Why hasn't the Gerer Rebbe himself spoken out against
this huge Chillul Hashem by his 'followers'?"

Yitzchok Levine


From: Joel Rich <>
Date: Tue, May 31,2022 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Free will vs hashgacha

Thoughts on a free will vs hashgacha shiur:

While I was listening to you, it occurred to me that, given the butterfly effect,
God has a number of ways to ensure that an outcome he wants will occur and I
wonder then what algorithm would he use to determine which one of those number
of ways to get that specific result he would employ. I would think it will be
the one that limits free will in others the least but there are also several
others that come to mind.

Worth thinking about!!


Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, May 29,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Kaddish

Prof. L. Levine wrote (MJ 65#39):
> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#36):
>> Saying kaddish was introduced at the time of the massacres during First
>> Crusade [Taten"u - 1096] to create something for the many under-age aveilim
>> who could not act as sheliach tzibbur [prayer leader] which was the original
>> minhag. With the institution of saying Aleinu at the end of each tefillah
>> after the massacre of Blois on 20 Sivan in 1171, the kaddish after it was
>> generally fixed for an aveil - kaddish yatom.
> The saying of Kaddish predates the First Crusade by centuries...

This is certainly true but the point I was trying to make was that it did
not take on its current status as primarily a mourners' prayer until then. The
earliest mention of kaddish in this role is the story brought in the Midrash
Tanchuma, Noach, and, in a slightly different version, in (the post-Talmudic)
Massekhet Kallah Rabbati (2:9) of the encounter between Rabbi Akiva and a
wraith. The latter had been an incorrigible sinner who had not even cicumcised
his son. He had been condemned to wander the world unless his son, who was
completely estranged from Torah and mitzvot, were to recite the kaddish and
prompt the congregation to respond "Amein, yehei shemeih rabba ..."

That it only took on this role more generally later is as he quotes later:

> "At some point, Kaddish transitioned in popular perception to a mourner's
> prayer.
> ...
> "This idea found its way into Medieval literature in the late 12th century.
> Rokei'ach (Commentary on Prayer, no. 77) explains that when a child recites
> Barekhu or Kaddish, he saves his parent from punishment in the Afterlife. This
> idea is repeated in later works and reflects the introduction of the Mourners'
> Kaddish.

As is not uncommon in Jewish ritual evolution, it took about 100 years for
this to happen. For a much fuller discussion, see Rabbi Barry Freundel's "Why we
pray what we pray" (Urim, 2010) pp. 239-313. (There is also a fascinating
chapter on Aleinu in this book)

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <>
Date: Tue, May 31,2022 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Minhag America

Is it fair to say that to a large extent Artscroll (in its halacha publications
and siddur instruction) sets Minhag America?


Joel Rich


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