Volume 13 Number 10
                       Produced: Fri May 13  0:55:25 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Achakeh lo [I shall wait for him]
         [Mitch Berger]
         [Michael Lipkin]
Electricity and Shabbat
         [Eli Turkel]


From: <mberger@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 07:35:06 -0400
Subject: Achakeh lo [I shall wait for him]

The phrase used by the Ramba"m about anticipating the Moshiach is
	im yismahmeihah, chakei lo
	if he shall tarry, wait for him
and, as pointed out by a couple of people in v13n1, there is no mention by
the Ramba"m of him coming any day.

This line is a quote from Chabakuk 2:3. The Ani Ma'amin takes out the
conditional, and makes it "even though", and changes the imperative to a
promise, but Chabakuk's words are still recognizable in "vi'af al pi
sheyismahmeihah, im kol zeh achakeh lo".

The words in Chabakuk, according to Rash"i, refer to Yirmiyahu.
According to the Rada"q, these words are to reassure those exiled in
golus Yehoyachin who, since their exile started earlier than that of the
masses, were in exile longer than the promised 70 years.

Perhaps the Ramba"m chose these words to compare the timeliness of the
two geulos [redemptions]. This is particularly interesting as the
Babylonian exile was for exactly 70 years - any "tarrying" was purely

The Ramba"m also insists
	v'lo yachshov sheyis'acher
For some reason I don't know, in the booklet R. Aryeh Kaplan prepared for
NCSY, he translates these words:
	we do not consider him late
It seems more natural to read it as Yacov Berber in v12n99 does:
	and not to think he will be late 
Either way, the Ramba"m seems to merely be saying that one may not
believe that he will only come in the distant future.

I'm not too sure how strong an argument based on the words of the
Ramba"m is. The Jewish people accepted the "Ani Ma'amin" and "Yigdal"
forms, they may, for that reason, hold more authority than the original.

Yigdal only says
	He will send as the end of days, our moshiach
	To redeem those who wait for the end of his salvation
and also makes no mention of expecting the end to be imminent.

The words of the ani ma'amin itself doesn't either. The words are
	achakek lo bichol yom sheyavo
	I will wait for him every day that he will come
If the "every day" applied to the coming and not the waiting it would say
	achakek lo shebichol yom yavo
	achakek lo sheyavo bichol yom
The "every day" would have to come after the prefix "she-" "that". But
there is a more blatant problem. While I can wait for Moshiach every
day, I only expect him to come once. "Bichol yom" would mean that he
comes daily. Every day, instead of any day.

R. Ben-Tzion Milecki (v12n99) seems to confuse b'khol yom "all day",
with b'khol hayom, "all of the day".

IMHO, the Lubavitcher Rebbe shlit"a intended this reading of the ani
ma'amin to be an inspirational message, reusing the words of the text,
not translating them.

With regard to the Chofetz Chaim and the Gri"z Soleveitchik, as retold by R.
The Chofetz Chaim went around Europe collecting money to build a new building
for his Yeshiva. The building would take years to build. Obviously he felt
that there existed a significant chance that he would remain in Europe for
enough time for the building to get used.

If one believes in moshiach than one believes he could come today, that
you should be prepared in case he does. You should prepare for that
eventuality, as Yaacov Berber, in the same issue, quotes the opinion in
Ta'anis that Kohanim should never drink wine in case the Bais Hamikdosh
should exist tomorrow. This is what was traditionally done. The odds, in
an intellectual sense, may be long, but as one believes that he can
come, today is as good of a day as any, and we could really use him now.
If something good is coming, and it might be today, wouldn't you be
anxious for it?

Clearly, you should also be prepared if ch"v he doesn't. This has also
been traditionally done. Much effort has been put into building
non-portable mosdos [institutions] outside of Eretz Yisro'el.

This anxiousness seems to be the meaning of the words in Shemonah Esrei
	ki lishuascha kivinu kol hayom
	because for your salvation we are focused the whole day
R. Milecki translates "kivinu" to mean "await", but "kavanah" is usually
concentration, or attention.

As Gedalyah Berger writes (v13n3), R. Milecki seems to confuse the hope,
anxiousness and desire that moshiach arrives soon with the expectation.
The difference, though, is far more than semantic. R. Milecki would have
me stop paying building fund to my kids' yeshiva. :-)

Micha Berger          Ron Arad, Zechariah Baumel, Zvi Feldman, Yehudah Katz:
<mberger@...>  May the Omnipresent have mercy on them and take them from
(212) 464-6565      constriction to openness, from dark to light, from slavery
(201) 916-0287      to salvation.


From: <msl@...> (Michael Lipkin)
Date: Wed, 11 May 1994 12:24:27 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

In MJ 13:5 Jerry Parnes embarks on a tirade of sorts against chumras.
His position is predicated on the following statement:

>Chumrot vis a vis other members of the same clan function exactly the
>same way.. it is thumbing your nose at those who don't necessarily
>accept the premise of the Humrot.

Of course there are those who behave and think as Jerry says and they
are unfortunate.  On the other hand there are anti-chumraists, who have
a propensity to indulge in misleading generalizations.  We can't even
seem to agree on what a chumra is and yet Jerry is assigning elitist
motivation to all those who accept chumras, notwithstanding the fact
that there are people, like Esther Posen, who specifically said that
they practice chumras in order to help bring themselves closer to
Hashem.  What divides B'nei Yisroel is not the adoption of chumras, but
people's attitudes.  Sure, if someone adopts chumras to thumb thier
nose at those who don't, then that will become divisive.  But it's no
less divisive to be a staunch "minimilist" and thumb ones nose at those
who accept chumras just because they don't accept the minimilist

>Furthermore, I submit that to be a Humradik Jew is a lot easier than
>being a halachically Kuladik Jew.

Even if such species were easlily definable, the comparison is
imbalanced by the omission of the word "halachically" in regard to a
"Humradik Jew." A common ploy of those who make such attacks is to
inject the non-halachik Jew who follows chumra X into the argument,
implying that observance of physical chumras and halachic behavior
(especially between man and man) are somehow exclusive of eachother.
Jerry invokes this particular ploy when he says:

>Would you eat in the home of a jew who wore a spodek, kapoteh and
>gartel, fasted ta'anit sheni va'hamishi every other week, but was
>convicted of embezzlement, and because of his stealing caused people to
>lose jobs and livelihood?

Oh please!  Would you eat the home of a jew who wore blue jeans, a
knitted yarmulka, drank regular milk, but was convicted of embezzlement,
etc? (The answer to both might be yes, but that's a separate

>Take Glatt Kosher, for example. You can have an IQ of 60 and have an
>afternoon Hebrew School education to pasken something glatt kosher...

Jerry's argument that Glatt is easier than non-glatt is specious.  That
issue only applies to shochtim, and is arguable at best.  For the
average kosher consumer it is much easier to buy either glatt or
non-glatt meat then to buy just glatt.  Maybe it is easier for rabbis to
posek l'chumra, but it's certaintly not easier to observe those chumras.

>Somewhere, sometime we will have to have minimum standards that are
>required for frumkeit, and somewhere, sometime, people will have to
>accept the fact that if one chooses not to accept greater than the
>minimum standards it does not mean that a) the one who accepts the
>minimum standards is a goy, and b) the one who accepts more than the
>minimum standards is more frum.

I stongly disagree.  IMHO if you set minimum standards then some subset
of people will migrate directly there and stay there stifling both
religious and spiritual growth.  On the other hand, there is no need for
minimum standards to fulfill Jerry's statute "a".  No Jew should judge
another no matter what his level of observance (including
non-observance).  As for "b", objectively, one who accepts more than the
minimum is, by definition, more...something.  The word "frum" may have
become pejoritive (in this forum anyway), but they are definitely more
X.  Judaism is replete with positive examples of people who acheived
religious greatness because they did more, i.e.  beautifying mitzvot,
going beyond the letter of the law, etc.  So to say that one who does
more than the minimum is not more "X" is to be JPC (Jewishly Politically
Correct).  There's enough affrimative action type demeritization going
on in our society without it infecting Jewish religious life.

Beyond that, IMHO it's not even possible to define minimum standards.
Some people in the stock market like to see a statistic on the Dow
Jones industrial average called the theorectical high/low.  The
theoretical low is the value of the Dow were each of the 30 component
stocks to be at their low price for the day at the same moment.  In
reality this rarely happens, the very market forces that cause some
compenents to rise often cause others to fall.  In order to come up
with halachic minimum standards we'd have to do the same thing with
halachic responsa.  We'd have to search through the literature of all
major poskim and pull out all the leniencies.  It seems to me that
poskim do not decide halachic issues in isolation, but each decision
draws on their background, style of learning, world view, etc.  So the
very forces that cause a posek to be lenient on one issue may cause him
to be stringent on another.  Theoretical minimums may have some value
in the financial world, but IMHO are meaningless in the Torah world.



From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 9 May 94 12:08:01 +0300
Subject: Electricity and Shabbat

     I recently attended a conference at Bar Ilan (cosponsered by Tsomet)
on halakhah and electricity and some topics brought up were relevant to
some recent discussions on mail.jewish. Some of the participants were
Rav Ariel from Ramat Gan, the chief engineer from Tzomet and Professor Lev
(founder of "Machon Lev"). Prof. Lev pointed out that one of the problems
is that very few poskim really understand how modern devices work. Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach writes that when he wrote his original work on
electricity there was no one religious that he could consult with. Today
he says that some of his opinions have changed and that there are many
people, in Jerusalem, who are knowledgable both in Halacha and physics.
Unfortunately, he is one of the rare poskim who consults with physicists.
(Rav Feinstein was also famous for always talking with top scientists
before issuing any psak).

1.  Chazon Ish says that electricity per se (no light, heat etc.) is
    biblically forbidden based on "metaken maneh" or equivalently buliding
    "boneh". Rav Sholomo Zalman Auerbach disagrees and says it is only
    a rabbinic prohibition based on molid (creating something new). Rav
    Auerbach disagrees with Chazon Ish because he says that it is no different
    than opening a faucet to create a flow of water or closing a door to
    finish a building. Chazon ish seems to disagree mainly because 
    electricity is "not natural" (for a circuit - not in nature). He also
    claims that the water and pipes are seperate entities while the
    electricity and wire are not (I don't understand that physically).
    On the other hand Chazon Ish disagrees with molid. Hence, when a
    circuit is not completed then no !!! prohibition exists. One application,
    moving a flywheel to create electricity in an already completed circuit
    (can be done more realistically).

2.  Work done through modern devices are considered as a direct action
    action and not as gerama. Thus, one cannot bring in something from
    a public domain into a private domain by using a magnet to bring it in.
    Using laser beams or cutting one is a direct action if this brings
    about some other action. If one would do a melacha by using brain
    waves then it would be biblically prohibited even though the person did
    not move at all.
3.  The main projects of Tzomet are based on the principle that while
    one cannot open or close a circuit on shabbat one is permitted to
    change the current, voltage, etc. in an already existing circuit.
    Examples include a wheel chair that is constantly on, non-dynamic
    microphones that are always on and electrical circuits that are
    always on. In all these case one accomplishes some task by changing
    the level of the current etc. not by turning it on. The minimum level
    required has to be large enough so that it is recognizable by normal
    people, i.e. the wheel chair has to constantly moving by some
    perceptible amount or the noise from the microphone has to be
    constantly audible.
        One topic that was subject to disagreement was whether a continuous
    digital machine is to be treated as many "on-offs" or as a change to
    a continuous mechanism since one can not distinguish the individual
    pulses of a digital machine.

4.  Most later day poskim agree that "psik resha de lo necha leh" is
    permitted when the prohibition is only rabbinic.

5.  There is a disagreement between Rav Akivah Eiger and Netivot whether
    "misasek" (doing work without thinking?) is permissible or just not
    forbidden on shabbat. One application is whether one can ask one's
    slave to do work when the slave is "misasek" but the owner knows what
    is happening. Another application is that one may construct a video
    camera that will take pictures of people on shabbat without their
    knowledge (assuming there is a prohibition involved).
    Rabbi Wosner (a main posek in Bnei Brak) holds that everyone agrees
    that it is not a problem with regard to the melacha of Boneh or Tzedah.
    Hence, everyone would agree that there is no problem of creating a
    misasek with regard to electricity.

6.  Much of the work on a computer would only be rabbinaclly prohibited
    on shabbat (assuming the computer itself is on before shabbat).
    Letters on a screen are not permament and so not biblically prohibited.
    Typing on a keyboard enters letters into a memory chip in a binary
    language and could not be considered writing. If the keyboard is
    mechanical no currents are created. Even with a printer, a dot matrix
    printer consists of many dots together and is what the Gemara refers
    to as notrikon and would only be rabbinically prohibited while a laser
    or jet ink printer probably would be biblically prohibited.
    Rav Auerbach suggests that the prohibition of "molid" applies only
    to what is given explicitly in the Gemara. hence, molid would not apply
    to light and there is no prohibition to use an LED screen.

         Applications of this would be to a hospital or police station where
    writing is necessary. Thus, it would be preferable to enter the
    data in a computer rather than write it by hand.


End of Volume 13 Issue 10