Volume 13 Number 40
                       Produced: Wed Jun  1 17:50:30 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beracha in Mikvah
         [Eli Turkel]
Bili Rubin Tests and Circumcision
         [Rabbi Freundel]
Bracha for Solar Eclipse
         [Mike Gerver]
Coming millenium
         ["Ben Berliant, x72032"]
Machlokes in Talmud
         [Sam Juni]
Maimonides' signature
         [Sol Stokar]
On Time and Ethics
         [Jeff Korbman]


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 94 11:23:15 +0300
Subject: Beracha in Mikvah

     I have 2 questions concerning the berachah a woman says in the Mikvah,
one practical and one theoretical. The Shulchan Arukh lists the blessing
in the mikvah as "al ha-tavilah". In discussions with some woman in the
neighborhood several of them use "al mitzvat tevilah".

1. I would be interested in knowing if their are other women who use
   "al mitzvat tevilah".

2. There is a major discussion among Rishonim and Acharonim when one uses
   the active (le-) or the passive (al) in a "berachat ha-mitzvah"
(blessing over a mitzvah) . Does anyone know of a discussion of when 
"al mitzvat" is used in a passive berachah.
    Some examples:

    al mitzvat tefillin, al mitzvat tzizit, al mitzvat eruv


    al ha-shechita, al ha-tevilah, al mikrah megilla, al achilat matzah,
    al achilat maror, al netillat yadaim, al tevillat keli, al sefirat ha-omer,
    al netillat lulav, al ha-mila.



From: <Dialectic@...> (Rabbi Freundel)
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 16:44:16 -0400
Subject: Bili Rubin Tests and Circumcision

The issue of bili rubin tests is one that R. Tendler championed over the
years. His claim which I support is that this is simply a more accurate
way to test the essential halachik criteria which is whether the baby is
healthy or not and therefore whether circumcision can or cannot be done?
The concern does not come in the situation where the bris is delayed
despite the bilirubin having gone down. At worst you have a child whose
bris occurs on day 9 or 10 instead of day 8 which has no long term
halachik consequences.  The problem is with the child whose bris is
delayed because he is yellow on day 8 but whose liver kicks in on day 10
and because his color changes is circumcized on day 12. If such a
child's bili remained high on day 8-9 he may be halachikally a choleh
bechol gufo [ill in his whole body - Mod.] on day 8. Such a child may
not be circumcised for 8 days AFTER he gets well. The bris on day 12 may
be too early and the child may remain an Orel [halakhacilly
uncircumcised - Mod.] unless it has a subsequent hatafat dam [symbolic
drawing of a drop of blood for purpose of circumcision - Mod.].


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 4:46:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Bracha for Solar Eclipse

In reply to Jerrold Landau inquiry in v12n94, Aryeh Frimer (v13n3) says
that there is no source in the Shulchan Aruch for making a bracha on seeing
an eclipse, and Yosef Bechhofer suggests in v13n12 that since eclipses
are considered a bad omen, it might not be appropriate to make a bracha.

I thought that it was only lunar eclipses that were considered a bad omen,
because Israel bases its calendar on the moon, but I don't remember where
I read that. In any case, I asked a shayla many years ago and was told
that I should make the bracha "oseh ma'aseh breishit" for both lunar and
solar eclipses, so I did make the bracha for the annular eclipse of May 10.
Before seeing it, I was concerned as to whether I could make the bracha
if I only viewed it as a projection. As it turned out, someone had welder's
glass, so I could view it directly, and I also saw it, even without
the welder's glass, through clouds that were just thick enough (don't try
this at home!).

Even if the Shulchan Aruch does not explicitly say that one should say this
bracha for eclipses, perhaps there is something regarding unusual 
astronomical events, which would include eclipses? By the way, Aryeh, what
did you mean by "the monthly total eclipse of the moon by the earth"?
Total eclipses of the moon only occur about twice a year.

If it is appropriate to make this bracha for any unusual astronomical event,
we have a good opportunity coming up on July 20, when a comet is going to
collide with Jupiter, the first time in recorded history that has happened.
It will occur on the far side of Jupiter, so we will not be able to view
it directly, but the bright light reflected from Jupiter's moons should be
easily visible through binoculars.

And, for those of you who like calculating the statistical
significance of apparent coincidences, what should we make of the fact that 
such an unusual event is going to occur on the 25th anniversary of the
first manned moon landing?

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: "Ben Berliant, x72032" <C14BZB@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 14:04:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Coming millenium

>From posting by <david@...> (David Charlap) on Coming

>The only reference to millenia I know of regards a prediction for
>Moshiach to arrive - the year 6000 is predicted. 

	As our LOR has mentioned several times, our existing calendar is
based on calculations performed by and sanctified by the Bes Din of
Hillel the Second, in the Talmudic period.  This santification (kiddush
ha-chodesh) is valid only to the year 6000.  Perhaps Hillel II also
assumed that Moshiach would come by the year 6000, so that was a natural
place to stop.  
	So if (by some chance) Moshiach doesn't arrive before then,  we
(well, our descendents) will not have any valid moadim.  Of course, I
suppose, we could always re-institute the semicha, by the Rambam's
method of getting all the Rabbis of the world to designate one of their
number to receive semicha -- and he would pass it on to the rest of
	On second thought, if we ever got all the Rabbis in the world to
agree on such a thing, it would be a sure sign that Moshiach had already
arrived, so the procedure would be unnecessary anyway. :-) :-) :-)

					BenZion Berliant


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 15:01:02 -0400
Subject: Machlokes in Talmud

    In dabbling with the various approaches to Talmudic analysis, I I
came upon a basic difference in approach to the construct of Machlokes
(arguments in the Talmudic text). Often, the Machlokes seems to be one
of fact. For example: "Reicha Milsa" (Is odor considered tangible, re
prohibiting the smell of unkosher food), or, "Yesh B'Gidin B'Nosen Taam"
(Do veins impart a flavor into other foods when these are cooked
together).  It seems to me that the basic Achronim (latter day
commentators) tacitly assume that such Machlokes are indeed machlokes of
fact. However, a strain I picked up among the Lithuanian Scholars is
that "clearly" there can be no arguing about facts. (I personally don't
know why not, especially if data are hard to come by.) So, these
scholars assume that the facts are indeed agreed upon, but that the
argument is about criteria and "cutoff levels."

    As an example of the Lithuanian approach, the argument about odor of
unkosher food would be reconstructed as follows: All agree about the
exact nature of odor (as it relates to taste); the argument is whether
these attributes should be classified among the prohibitioned ones.
     For the example of the veins, for example, this approach may posit,
perhaps, that veins only impart (say) 20% of their flavor; the argument
then is constructed, as to whether 20% falls within the cutoff criteria
of "Nosein Taam" (imparting flavor).
     I remember in Rav Soloveitchik's shiur that the idea of a Machlokes
in "Metzius" (fact) was scoffed on emphatically. I wonder if there are
traditional source materials on this topic.

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (718) 338-6774
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: <sol@...> (Sol Stokar)
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 06:42:19 -0400
Subject: Maimonides' signature

 	Recently, someone asked about the source of a story about the
Rambam (Maimonides), who is reported to have added an epithet to his
signature indicating that he was commiting a sin by living in Egypt. (I
apologize for not citing the name of the person who raised the point.) I
recently came across an inciteful analysis of this point in the book
"Margoliyot HaYam" (a commentary on tractate Sanhedrin) by R. Reuven
Margoliyot and I'd like to share it with whoever is interested in this
subject. The analysis appears in the commentary to Sanhedrin 21b,
section 8.

	Apparently, the source of the story is the famous work "Kaftor
VaFerach", chapter 5, who wrote

> In Egypt I heard from R. Shmuel of blesses memory, one of Rambam's
> grandsons, that when Rambam would sign his name on a letter, he would
> add "the writer abrogates three negative transgressions every day ..."

R. Margoliyot says that such a signature is not found on any of the
letters or responsa in our possession. In addition, the phrase
"abrogates three negative transgressions" is inexact, since although the
prohibition of living in Egypt is mentioned three times in the Torah,
viz. Exodus 14,13 Deut. 28,68 and Deut. 17,16 the Rambam could not
possibly count them as as three separate prohibitions. The first verse
merely relates G-d's promise to the departing Jews that they will not
have to go back into Egyptian slavery again while in the second verse
Moses tells the Jews that if they sin, G-d will not keep his original
promise but will return them to Egypt as punishment. Only the third
verse (the one dealing with the duties and commandments of the king) has
the "format" of an actual negative prohibition. For this reason, R.
Margoliyot writes, in "Sefer Hamitzvot" [negative prohibition 46] Rambam
cites the verse in Deut. 17,16 before Deut. 28,68 [though after Exodus
14,13]. In conclusion, R. Margoliyot says:

> It would be strange for Rambam to increase the number of
> transgressions in a non-halakhic manner, so it seems that the report
> of R. Shmuel has the status of "testimony which has been partly
> rebutted"

(i.e. since part is false, all the rest is also considered unreliable).

Dr. Saul Stokar
Phone: (972)-4-579-217			Phone: (972)-9-914-637
Fax: (972)-4-575-593
e-mail: <sol@...>


From: Jeff Korbman <KORBMANJ@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 12:42:03 -0400
Subject: On Time and Ethics

 As a new subscriber to your electronic discussions, which seem so
enveloped with Jewish atitudes and practices, theology and history,
halacha and minchag etc... I am struck by two things.  First, a lot of
people have a lot to say about a lot of different topics.  This is good.
Jews dicsussing Torah and all its many faces and ramifications in our
daily lives is what it's all about.  Look at the Gemara - that's a lot
of Aramaic E-Mail.  Second, and here's the irony, are we attempting to
achieve ends through improper means.  Let me explain.

To begin with, if people participate in these discussions at home, with
their own computer, which they own, on their own time then don't let me
bore you; this posting is not for you.  This posting is for people like
me, sitting at work, at my office, working on my office computer during
office hours.  Are we guilty of "theft" of time.  To be sure, I belive
in the third chapter of Taanith there is the story of a Rabbi who, while
outside at work, didn't respond to the greetings of his students because
he didn't want to take out personal time from work time.  Granted we do
not decide Jewish law right out of Aggadic material from the Gemara, but
there is a simple but important lesson: Stealing takes many forms.

In truth, this question begs the issue of overall business ethics.  For
instance, can I call my wife right now to ask if I should pick up any
super duper Glatt food on the way home?  It's a local call?  It will
only take 10 seconds?  Do I have to wait till my lunch hour or after

Further, let's say I have permission from my boss.  Can he speak on
behalf of the company?  Does it matter if he owns the company or not?
What if there isn't a company to own, like in a not-for-profit agency?
And while I'm at it, let me mention paper.

Can I print out mailed out Jewish stuff or any other personal items?
Can I photocopy this material (putting aside the issue of shaymot for
the moment)?  Certaily if I wanted to photocopy my 1,000 page diary
people would have a problem with me using the office photocopier [if not
for any other reason, the love stories are pathetic], but what about a
two page flyer from shul?  Is there a difference?

One of the reasons why this questions concerns me, to be honest, has to
do with my infatuation with death.  According to the Gemara (Shabbat 31?
A), Rava teaches that we will be asked a number of questions about our
lives when we reach the big Internet in the Sky.  The first question is
not about how many folio pages of talmud we learned, but about how
honest we were in our business practices!  That really concerns me, and
I leave y'all with these thoughts in an effort to find out what the
guidlines are and how, practically, they should be implemented.

Looking forward to your responses.
Jeff Korbman


End of Volume 13 Issue 40