Volume 12 Number 51
                       Produced: Tue Apr 12  8:28:17 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dina D'malchuta Dina
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Gedalya Berger's shevas and (unrelated, I think) ArtScroll
         [Michael Frankel]
         [Yitzchok Adlerstein]
Staying awake more than three days
         [David Charlap]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 1994 12:01:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Dina D'malchuta Dina

Recently, the following statement was made with regard to the question of
the halachic acceptability of drug use:

> Judaism has the concept of "Dina d'malchuta dina" - the law of the land
> is law.  So, a Jew living in America has a Torah obligation to obey the
> American laws - which include many of the Halachik gray areas.

The application of dina d'malchuta dina (DMD) is not so broad as this.  R.
Rakefet, in a Tradition article ("Dina d'malkhuta dina - the law of the
land in halakhic perspective" Tradition 13 #2, pp 5-23) states "The Talmud
and all related literature clearly states that this maxim is confined to
aspects of dinei mammonot, i.e., to the monetary, civil, and real-estate
laws of the Jewish legal system.  Only these statutes may be waived when
contravened by the prevailing non-jewish secular legal system.  However,
issues of issura, i.e., rituals such as kashrut or Sabbath observance, are
not subject to convention, or waiver."

Rav Hershel Schachter states, in his "'Dina de'malchusa dina': secular law
as a religious obligation" (J. Halacha & Contemp. Soc. 1 #1 pp 103-132),
that "we ought to point out that this is a much more narrow concept than
is often imagined.  'Dina de'malchusa dina' cannot be interpreted to mean
that the law of the land is law, period."  Rav Schachter discusses
in depth issues related to taxation, minting coins, punishing criminals,
turning over Jewish crminals to the government, harboring criminals, and
wills.  He also mentions that not only is DMD limited to areas of dinei
mamonot, but this does not include cases when both parties are Jewish (with
certain exceptions discussed in the article).  

 From all of this, it is unclear how the concept of DMD would apply to use of
illegal drugs.  The only drug whose use is readily sanctioned by halacha is
alcohol (ie, wine), and grape juice can in general be substituted for wine
(with the exception of the seder night, according to Rav Moshe).  Would a
Jew be *halachically* obligated to adhere to a governmental ban on alcohol
as a function of DMD?  Probably not, since this falls into the category of
issura, ritual requirements.  On the other hand, since there are other
ways of fulfilling the mitzvot requiring wine, perhaps ignoring such a
ban on alcohol would be unwise.  In other words, knowing that an act is
religiously permitted will be of little comfort in a jail cell . . . Judaism
certainly recognizes the right of governments to create laws that allow
for the functioning of society.  In fact, Rav Schachter points out that
"even a non-Jewish government is authorized to punish and penalize above
and beyond the law, 'shelo min hadin,' for the purpose of maintaining law
and order."  To summarize, it seems that illicit drug use would not be
prohibited under DMD.  However, governments have the right to maintain law
and order, and if the laws being passed do not constitute an infringement
of Jewish practice, then there doesn't seem to be much halachic
justification for disobeying such laws.

There are other areas of Jewish law relating to this issue, however.  A
more fruitful place to look is in the laws of Purim, where there is an
idea of being intoxicated enough to confuse Haman and Mordechai.  The
poskim discuss and limit the amount one might become intoxicated.  Perhaps
an organized summary of the various positions would provide a conclusive
statement about authoritative Jewish approaches to becoming intoxicated,
whether by alcohol or by other substances.  My recollection is that
the poskim don't sanction being "smashed," even at Purim; presumably this is
true whether one has gotten that way by drinking, smoking, injecting,
eating, or any other modality.  Unfortunately, a more detailed description of
these sources is beyond the constraints of both my memory and my time.

Finally, Rav Ahron Soloveitchik has an article on drug use and halacha.  I
haven't read it, but I have seen it.  It may have appeared in Tradition or
Gesher.  Perhaps someone who knows of this article could provide the
complete reference.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Michael Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 1994 17:27:35 -0400
Subject: Gedalya Berger's shevas and (unrelated, I think) ArtScroll

1. Just a short note on Gedalya Berger's recent definition of a sheva
merachef as originating from a change to a tenuah gedolah form. I don't
think this is a reasonable definition - in fact it doesn't seem to
account for what appears anecdotally to me (i.e. my vague impressions
from noticing them come up during leining) the largest class of obvious
sheva merachef situations. These occur with the appendage of a
prepositional prefix (bais, lamed, mem, chaf - with a chirik katan in
the beginning of a word) e.g. " legevul" (Bemidbar 35/37) the sheva
under the gimmel is problematic since, on the one hand there is no
dagesh kal in the bais (third letter), implying the sheva under the
gimmel is na, on the other hand there is no dagesh chazak in the gimmel,
which would usually imply it is nach, so - presto we have a sheva
merachef situation. (I treat these as na, since I consider it still part
of the root word where it is na, though this is certainly a matter of
long standing machlokes and many leiners will read a nach in such
situations). Similarly see (Beraishis "beshegaga" (Bemidbar. 35/16),
"bevechi" (Beraishis. 45/2), "berechush" (Beraishis. 15/15).  In any
event, nowhere is there any suggestion of a primal tenuah gedolah in the
original form of the word. There are also a number of other situations
resulting in a sheva merachef which don't require an original tenuah
gedolah.  One of them is discussed in paragraph 3 (though it only occurs
according to shitas haGra)

2. Incidentally, I've noticed that a prepositional "bais with a chirik"
almost invariably results in a sheva merachef situation while this is
not true for the other prefixes, e.g. a prefixed lamed will result (a
reasonable fraction of the time) in the next letter taking a dagesh
chazak-indicating that the sheva under the second letter is
unambiguously (at least to me) a na - however i have no idea why the
bais prefix should have such different statistics than a lamed or mem
prefix - any ideas?

3. Additionally, focusing on the form of the sheva in the root word (and
retaining its characteristics as a na also has an aesthetically (?)
pleasing result - though it puts one on the wrong side of an alleged
shita of the Gra, never a comfortable position. This deals with the many
incidents of a shuruked vav in the beginning of a word followed by a
second letter with a sheva e.g.  the word "urevu" (as in "peru urevu",
Bereshis 1/22 ) according to the purported shitas haGra, the vav with a
shuruk is treated as a tenuah kala, and a sheva merachef is required
under the raish to "explain" why no dagesh kal appears in the third
letter (bais). If you don't like/understand/hold by the reported shitas
haGra (see also R. Mordechai Breuer who asserts a similar shita in his
Taamei haMikra, similarly see also ArtScroll - with no ch"v intention
here to impute an equivalent scholarly credibility between R. Breuer and
ArtScroll) then things are much cleaner. The vav has a tenuah gedolah,
the sheva under the second letter is obviously na, and there is no
requirement for a dagesh kal in the third letter. Thus there is no need
to draw, ex machina, on the mysterious sheva merachef - a kind of
Ockham's razor to reduce the number of arbitrary assumptions, thereby
improving the aesthetics.

4. As an unrelated note, just coming off Pesach I found my enjoyment of
the Chag consideably enhanced by my utilization of the ArtScroll siddur
(best thing they've ever done) while listening to the Shir HaShirim
reading. Never having met a body part they liked, the "translation" is
just drop-dead hilarious.

Mechy Frankel                                 H: (301) 593-3949
<frankel@...>                          W: (703) 325-1277


From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ny000594@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 94 17:48:55 -0800
Subject: Interpretation

Interpretive license in our tradition does not mean a free-for-all!  
That's why I cast my vote with Mechel Fine who wrote

> I believe there are certain things that if CHAZAL didnot say them, 
> we have no right to say them especially when itdenigrates or belittles
> the avos or sh'votim.

Eli Turkel cites the Tosfos Yom Tov 

>that we have the right to our own explanations of Torah and
>even Gemara as long as it doesnt affect Halakha. In factmany
>commentaries on the Torah, both rishonim and acharonimdisagree with
>the explanations of chazal (at least on the pshat level)and offer their
>own interpretations.

I believe that two very different issues are being confused here.  It is
certainly true that there is no one [non-Halachic] interpretation of a
text which must be assumed to be correct.  There is no psak [firm
halachic decision] as to whether the first line of Chumash should be
translated, "In the beginning Hashem created the Heavens and earth," as
Ramban does, or whether it should be rendered, "In the beginning of
G-d's creation..." as Rashi gives it.  This does not mean that EVERY
interpretation is valid or acceptable.  There are "70 faces" to Torah -
not an infinfite number!  There may not be a tradition about an absolute
pshat for every word of the Torah.  But there are traditions about how
interpretation as a whole should be conducted; which themes were
important to the Author; what the general message of a given passage

The Zohar (Part 3, 152a) points out: "Woe to those people who say that
the Torah comes to relate stories and common incidents.  For if so, we
could use such incidents to make a Torah, even in our time, and use even
better ones!...All of the Torah deals with elevated ideas, and Heavenly
secrets... The narrative portions of the Torah are but a garb for the
Torah... Fools look at nothing but the story...Those who comprehend
more...look at what is beneath..."

While a Divine Author may have deliberately allowed and encouraged
mutltiple readings of His poetry [see Netziv in his introduction to
Chumash that Torah calls itself "shirah," and it is the function of
poetry to be read on multiple planes], He DID have certain truths that
He wished to convey.  We may interpret many of the narratives in
Chumash.  However, to argue, for example, that events never occured,
that all the narratives were just allegories, is completely foreign to
our tradition.

      One of the reasons given in the Rashba's cherem against premature
immersion into specualtive philosophy was the extreme to which people
had taken it.  The signators decried the fact that people were claiming
that the Avos never lived; that Avraham and Sarah were allegories for
"form" and "substance."  (Many will realize that the early Church
addressed the problem of the Torah's legal demands by allegorizing them
as well.)  Were these "legitimate" forms of interpretation?  Is there a
halacha someplace that says "Thou shalt not overly allegorize?  Or did
Gedolei Yisroel always possess a set of limits within which
interpretation could take place, shaped by the overall mastery of Torah
principles by the commentator?

      Next exhibit: a responsum of Radbaz (#1258) is frequently
trumpeted as protecting individual "autonomy" in interpretation.  He
argues against the harsh words of Rambam directed at those who follow
the simple reading of various texts, and assign physical properties to
G-d.  If their intellect took them in this direction, argues Radbaz,
they should not be held to be heretics.  Sounds like he's championing
individual rights in interpretation, right?  Hardly.  Read on.  The
responsum actually deals with the complaint of a community about a
derasha given by its rov.  This spiritual leader claims that Moshe
himself had been an object of devotion of many Jews before the Golden
Calf.  Radbaz trashes this approach forcefully.  If Moshe knew about
this - he was also guilty of abetting idolatry, and chas v'shalom to say
this about Moshe.  If the rov meant that Moshe did not know, his error
was even worse!  How could the Jewish manhig [leader] par excellence not
know of such important goings-on among his flock?  The rabbi need not be
dismissed outright - because of the above argument, that honest
intellectual mistakes are not held against a person.  But should he be
allowed to continue to maintain his own "interpretation?"  No way, says
Radbaz.  "Show him my letter.  Show him that I said he is MISTAKEN! If
he relents, give him another chance.  If not, by my authority [imagine -
a good few hundred years before Aguda supposedly "invented" the idea of
Da'as Torah, Radbaz was using it and throwing it around!], dismiss him.
Apparently, Radbaz held that certain interpretations were just plain
wrong, and injurious to the health of the Mesorah.
 The actual issue of how to treat the Avos and Imahos, how high a
pedastal to place them on, is beyond the scope of this posting.  In
short, I believe there to be a clear mesorah through all strata of
rabbinical literature to treat the avos as paragons of virtue, as
exemplars of avodah and sterling midos of the highest order whose
spiritual productivity was so potent that the effects of their lives
still spill over to us today.  The interested reader is referred to my
article (popular, not scholarly) in the Spring '90 issue of the O-U's
Jewish Action.  Reprints upon request.

Yitzchok Adlerstein
Yeshiva of Los Angeles
(310) 553-4478 x 276


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 94 19:28:03 -0400
Subject: Staying awake more than three days

<warren@...> (Warren Burstein) writes:

>> and it's *impossible* to go more than three days without sleep.
>I know that this is the opinion of the rabbis (and the source for the
>halacha that someone who takes a vow to not sleep for three whole
>days has made a vow that is impossible to fulfill), but I recall
>reading about an experiment where someone stayed awake for much
>longer, I think it was for something like two weeks.  By the end he
>was hallucinating, but it's not *impossible*, just very difficult.

I don't think the rabbis thought it was completely impossible.  But
that only a very extraordinary person would be able to do so.

I remember stories about Talmud students who would try to "win" a visit
by Eliyahu Ha'Navi (Elija the prophet) by studying Talmud for 1000
days without stopping.  In the story, only one succeeded, out of a
large number that tried.

 From personal, experience, I have occasionally stayed awake studying
60 hours (2.5 days) without much difficulty.  I'm sure I could have
gone on for the last 12 hours, if I wanted to.  (But there's no point
remaining awake after the exam you stayed up studying for. :-)


End of Volume 12 Issue 51