Volume 13 Number 58
                       Produced: Wed Jun 15 17:06:38 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Equal or Infinitely  Valuable
         [Barry Freundel]
Hebron and Shimshon
         [Mike Gerver]
Joseph and Interpreting Dreams
         [David Charlap]
Maggots and Sour Grapes
         [Sam Juni]
non-Jews and Self-Defense, Defending non-Jews against Jews
         [Robert Klapper]
Use of water taps(faucets), refrigerators, auto sensors on Shabbat
         [Tom Anderson]


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994 19:54:53 -0400
Subject: Administrivia

OK, I'm back on line and trying to clear up the various backlog's that
there are. Many of the longer articles have not gone out yet, I'm
working on the shorter one first. Just to let people know where things
curently stand, there are about 80 messages in the queue from June,
almost all after June 5. There are about 50 messages from May, and I am
trying to go through those and see which still make sense to send out. I
will contact you if you have a message in that queue that I don't think
will be going out. After today or tomorrow I will go back to the 4 per
day max, at least for the most part. I have saved the various messages
that people have sent about what to do with transliterations. As you can
guess, there is no consensus. I'll touch base with you all about these
and other administrative items over the next week or so.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: <Dialectic@...> (Barry Freundel)
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 1994 13:36:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Equal or Infinitely  Valuable

It is correct to say that Judaism does not and never would say that all
men (people [its p.c. time]) are created equal. What Judaism does say is
that all people are created infinitely valuable in a true mathematical
sense. Infinity is a Number some of whose subsets are equal to the whole
(infinity - 1= infinity). that is mathematically equivalent to the
statement that saving one soul is equal to saving the entire world (the
subset = the whole). This has halachik consequences.  If a group is
asked to turn over one if its members to be killed or all will die, all
must die because the one (subset) is equal to the whole. If the American
principle were taken to its logical end that would be horrible as 10
deaths are far worse than 1 death if we start with the premise that all
are created equal.  You can see this play out in health care. The Clinton
plan would take jobs from some to help others. If there is a net gain
(which I doubt), that's a good in the American structure. For us its an
evil as I cannot decide that the worth of one group is more or less than
the other. I am forced to conclude that priority must be given to the
one who has the present capacity to maintain his livleyhood (not
dissimilar to the famous case of two people in the dessert with one
bottle where the bottles owner drinks and lives while the one without
stays without). This also plays out in all the equality issues. If all
are equal then differences, especially if enforced or created by
mechitza are evil. If however all are infinite, we know from Mathematics
that that all infinities are not equal. There is than no imperative to
make all equivalent just to promote a sense of infinite value and
importance in what may well be very divirgent settings.


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 4:45:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Hebron and Shimshon

In v12n84, both Zishe Waxman and Marc Warren ask why Shimshon's action in
the Philistine temple was praiseworthy, and the IAF bombing of terrorist
bases in Lebanon is considered legitimate defence, while Boruch Goldstein's
action in Hebron was not.

The short answer is that Shimshon was a shophet, and as such he had the
halachic authority to make such life and death decisions. Similarly, the
IAF actions are authorized by the Cabinet or the Defence Ministry, and
almost all poskim today (with the exception of some Neturei Karta types)
agree that they have the halachic authority to make such decisions. Boruch
Goldstein, according to all major poskim, did not act according to 

The long answer would involve an analysis of why Shimshon made the
decision that he did, and why present day rabbis who have condemned
Goldstein's action have done so. Since we don't know what Shimshon's 
thoughts were, it may not be possible to give the complete long answer.
One possibility is that, as pointed out by Hayim Hendeles in v13n20,
Israel was at war with the Philistines. He then suggests that the
legitimacy of Dr. Goldstein's act depends on whether Israel can be
considered now to be at war with the Palestinians. But that's not the
only issue. Even if Israel can be considered to be at war with the
Palestinians, Goldstein was not authorized to do what he did. And it is
not clear that the Palestinians can be considered to be at war with
Israel, if they are not a nation in their own right.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 20 May 94 13:16:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Joseph and Interpreting Dreams

Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...> writes:

[my argument that Joseph's hubris was in his asking the butler and
baker to get him out of prison]

>I have heard the same argument  before.  I do not understand it.  Have
>not  many important  Jewish leaders  and Rabbis  pleaded with  gentile
>rulers for their  fellow Jews? Were they also sinning  by doing a deed
>and not passively "place their trust  in God"? Is one not supposed not
>to rely on miracles?

One possible answer could be that Joseph (being who he was) should have
known better.  The avot (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) all had ruach
ha-kodesh (divine knowledge).  Many of our gedolim across time also had
it.  I think all 12 of Yitzchak's sons had it (to some degree) as well.

This being the case, Joseph should have known better.  One could argue
that he knew (the divine reason) why he was in prison, and that he would
eventually be freed.  His action, therefore, shows that he didn't trust
the divine intuition he was given - and there's the hubris.

In the case of other Jewish leaders and rabbis, their actions could be
right or wrong.  If they (like most of us) have no ruach ha-kodesh, then
they did nothing wrong.

But for someone (like, perhaps, the Chofetz Chaim) who is very close to
God, and who has ruach ha-kodesh, it might be very well wrong to plead
with non-Jewish leaders.  When a person attains a high enough spiritual
level, I think it does become wrong to plead with other people for

You said "pleaded ... for their fellow Jews".  This (I think) is a
different case than pleading for yourself.  One is permitted to belittle
himself for another's benefit.

But the story of Joseph doesn't fit that case.  Joseph wasn't pleading
for anyone's benefit but his own.


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 1994 17:06:56 -0400
Subject: Maggots and Sour Grapes

In his posting dated 6/1/94, Mitch Berger reports that that a Hallachic
concept ignoring objects which humans cannot perceive predated the
entire debate of spontaneous generation.

I would be curious to learn more about this principle, as it was
formulated at that early time.  Since science had assumed egocentrically
(not at all a value judgement) that things exist only within the human
perceptual range, I wonder what the intent of such an Hallachic
principle could have been?

I am aware of a principle "Ain Lo L'Dayan Eluh Mah Sh'Ainuv Ro'ot" (A
judge must only concern himself with what he sees), but that relates to
judgement rather than reality/perception.

If there is indeed such an Hallachic principle predating the discovery
of microbes and microscopic tics, then Mitch is certainly correct in
disputing my "sour grapes" designation of the rationale of ignoring
such life forms Hallachically.

However, I still find the notion of defending the statement which
asserts that "Maggots are caused to exist from meat" by appealing to
such a principle which denies the hallachic relevance of the Maggot egg
(which invisible), then arguing that since the maggot becomes an
Hallachic entity only when it grows to a visible size, therefore (as far
as the Hallacha is concerned), the maggot (legally) came into being only
by its growing from the meat(i.e., spontaneously), and not by having
grown from the egg (which the Hallacha does not recognize to have
existed).  (Admittedly, I am dramatizing, but...) All this sounds
absurd.  When the Talmud discusses maggots by saying that they grow
spontaneously from the meat, it is reasonable to take it to mean just

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (212) 995-3474
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: Robert Klapper <rklapper@...>
Date: Tue, 24 May 1994 16:10:20 -0400
Subject: non-Jews and Self-Defense, Defending non-Jews against Jews

Larry Israel suggested that, following the logic of previous postings,
non-Jews are forbidden to kill in self-defense and that they and Jews
are forbidden to kill Jews in defense of a non-Jew.
 Maimonides writes in Laws of Kings (Chapter nine or ten) that a non-Jew
is liable for execution if he kills a pursuer when deadly force was
unnecessary to save the pursued.The clear implication is that when
deadly force is necessary, it is allowed. R. Chaim Soloveitchik suggests
(in his comments to Laws of Murder) that this permission stems from the
commandment of dinnim (roughly, the Noachide obligation to establish a
viable, law-based social order), and it seems reasonable therefore that
it would be obligatory.
 Chazon Ish, in his glosses to R. Soloveitchik's work, raises the
possibility that non-jews may only kill to save jewish lives - this is
only a suggestion, however, and not based on anything in the Maimonidean
text.  R. Soloveitchik notes that the talmud (I think sanhedrin 72b)
cites as the hatraah (the warning prior to the crime necessary for
capital punishment under Torah law)for a pursuer the verse in Noach
"shofekh dam haadam baadam damo yishafekh"(the shedder of a man's blood,
by man shall his blood be shed), which clearly applies to Gentiles and
is indeed the source for the Noachide ban on killing.
 One should note, however, in addition to the Minkhat chinukh cited by
Saul Djanogly earlier, that Mareh Panim to Yerushalmi Bava Kamma 6:7
raises the possibility that one can only kill a pursuer who would be
killed if he succeeded in his pursuit - according to this logic, one
could not kill a Jew who was pursuing a non_jew. This argument likely
depends on the issue of whether "lehatzilo b'nafsho"("The pursuer of his
friend - he may be saved via = by taking = his soul."  Who may be
saved?) in the Mishnah regarding pursuit refers to the pursuer or the
pursued. See in particular the comments of Netziv on Tosafot to
Sanhedrin 73a regarding this issue.
 In any case, there is room to explore the place in this argument of an
action, such as killing non-jews, that causes misoh biydei shomayim -
death at the hands of Heaven.  (That one can kill a pursuing minor, even
though a minor is not liable to punishment, seems evidence against the
Mar'eh Panim's possibility, although certainly not conclusive.) >
 (Regarding non-Jews, there seems to be no distinction between
self=defense and defending someone else - if anyone has contrary
evidence, I'd appreciate hearing about it. Accordingly, Larry Israel
seems to be right that according to Chazon Ish, for example, a non-Jew
would not be able to defend himself with deadly force against a Jew, and
would in fact be executed for saving himself by killing a Jew (or, I
think, even a non-Jew, as non-Jews are simply excluded from the
dispensation to kill in self-defense) even when killing was his only
option for survival.One could also debate according to R. Soloveitchik's
view whether a non-jew, in a circumstance in which he could save himself
by killing a non-jew or else by killing a Jew, must choose to kill the
 I asked the question re jew pursuing non-Jew to a number of YU roshei
yeshivah in the aftermath of the initial news reports about Israeli
police policy regarding settlers' threatening Arabs. One reply I
received was that the issue is in doubt, and as such one should be shev
v'al taaseh (passive, inactive) and not kill the Jew. I would be
interested to know whether listreaders think this is the kind of issue
that must be resolved by such decision criteria, or whether it is the
kind of issue that, granted the legitimacy within halakhic precedent of
a number of solutions, can or should be resolved on hashkafic
(philosophic/ideological/value structure?) grounds (i.e one who feels
strongly the primacy of chaviv adam shenivra b'tzelem - man is created
in the image of Hashem - should hold one way, one who emphasizes
chavivin yisrael shenikraim banim lamakom - Jews are called the sons of
Hashem - should hold the reverse). I'd be very happy if this stimulated
a general debate on the legitimacy of introducing spiritual, moral or
ethical criteria when deciding between legitimate halkhic options.


From: <MNAF@...> (Tom Anderson)
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 14:34:48 +1000 (EST)
Subject: Use of water taps(faucets), refrigerators, auto sensors on Shabbat

The use of either has obvious fine details of ininterpretation 
as witness the voluminous correspondence.

 Looking at the tap(faucet) situation as a thermodynamicist, the work is
done even if the meter is mechanical as the measurement of the flow will
be by some variant of rotameter which turns and therefore "does work",
whether or not you have intended this. A problem also arises in trying
to circumvent turning on the thermostat (spark) or motor (work) when
opening the door of a refrigerator. One method, requiring patience and
good hearing!, is to wait till the motor is going and then open the
door. Unfortunately, one can pursue this logically and come to the
conclusion that you are causing the fridge to stay on longer than it
would have done if you had not opened the door -- again doing work.
 Even auto sensing traffic lights, which the Yeshiva have often tried to
get installed in Melbourne as there have been a few accidents on erev
Shabbat, run up against an argument that one causes work to be done as a
result of breaking the beam, which is the same result as the
consequences flowing from the act of speaking into a microphone.

No answers -- just problems.



End of Volume 13 Issue 58