Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q1.9 TOC Q1.11 >

Question 1.10:
What topics are not appropriate for S.C.J?


Middle East politics, especially international issues concerning Israel, belong in talk.politics.mideast (T.P.M), not S.C.J. You certainly should not crosspost between S.C.J and T.P.M. Discussions of internal Israeli politics belong in soc.culture.israel (S.C.I). Again, they should not be crossposted to S.C.J. Pick whichever one is appropriate.

Discussions of Israeli Culture are inappropriate for S.C.J; rather, they belong in S.C.I. Crossposting between S.C.I and S.C.J is appropriate only for articles dealing with Jewish, as opposed to secular Israeli, issues. If the group exists, it is also appropriate for discussions of Israeli culture, but note that its distribution is limited to Israel and sites receiving the il distribution.

Material that is available from a listserv is inappropriate to post to S.C.J (that is, the entire newsgroup shouldn't receive the list). However, a single weekly message listing the lists available is reasonable. One sample from a new list is allowed.

Readers of S.C.J are committed to their religion; it is inappropriate to "witness" or preach. Discussions of so-called "Messianic Judaism[sic]," and the Christian missionary organization calling itself "Jews for Jesus," and similar topics belong in alt.messianic or the appropriate talk.religion.* group; don't crosspost them to S.C.J.

Revisionist teachings (i.e., those teachings that attempt to deny that the holocaust ever happened) are inappropriate for S.C.J. They belong in alt.revisionism. For more information on how to cope with those holding revisionist beliefs, the interested reader is referred to [Lip93] (Lipstadt, Deborah. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.) in the Antisemitism portion of the reading list.

Lastly, try to avoid personal attacks. Don't write "Lashon Hara", derogatory information about people or groups. (If slanderous and false, it's called "Motzei Shem Ra") It is also forbidden to embarrass others in public. (Rare exceptions exist, so read a book such as R' Pliskin's Guard your Tongue for details.)

As Josh Backon reminded us:

The Bible states (Leviticus 19:17): "You shall surely rebuke your neighbor and not bear sin because of him". The Talmud comments that you may reprove your neighbor as long as you do not insult him but if you embarrass him by making him blush or turn pale from shame or fury then you have incurred guilt because of him (Sifra, Kedoshim 4:8; Talmud Arachin 16b). The Talmud (Shevuot 36a) mentions a general prohibition against insulting a fellow man. Pirke Avot (3:11) states that he who causes embarrassment to a fellow man has no share in the world-to-come. The Talmud (Bava Metzia 58b) compared the slanderer to a shedder of blood, and the Rambam (Hilchot Chovel Umazzik 3:7) characterized all slanderers as wicked and stupid. The later scholars instituted disciplinary floggings for cases of slander (Choshen Mishpat 420:41).

Eliot Shimoff expressed it this way:

Lots of people read what we post; there are many lurkers who read and don't post. Keep them in mind when you write. If you are offended by some aspect of the Reform movement, it does little good to post a vituperative attack on that G-dless crew of evil people; your audience is far more likely to be offended than to either learn or think. Similarly, it does little good to write a missive pointing out how backward, narrow-minded and medieval those Orthodox Jews are; you are offending, but not teaching or informing. If your goal is to increase the influence of Reform Judaism, discuss its strong points rather than attacking Orthodoxy; the greatest enemies of Reform are those who advocate it by denigrating (usually inaccurately) Orthodoxy.

Similarly, if your goal is to spread the Orthodox understanding of Torah, don't try to do so by attacking non-Orthodox movements; instead, try to explain the Orthodox position, and to show its strengths.

In addition to the lurkers, there is also the Lurker; we should all try to ensure that whatever we write should not only be accurate, but should also be kiddush haShem, a sanctification of G-d's name. We should always write in a form that will get readers to say, at least, "I disagree with this person, but he/she is a fundamentally decent human being who is trying, to the best of his/her ability, to be a good person (although there are some non-Jewish posters), a good Jew."

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>