Volume 13 Number 68
                       Produced: Mon Jun 20  7:32:11 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Missing 165 years
         [Mechy Frankel]
Physician's Fees
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Physicians fees
         [Barry Fruendel]
Retrospective causality
         [Joshua W. Burton]


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 14:39:33 -0400
Subject: Missing 165 years

1. David Curwin (Vol 13 #60) cites a recent article by S. Kedar (which
I'm not familiar with) suggesting that the well known 165 year
discrepency between the "traditional" jewish (seder olam rabbah based)
calendar and the rest of the world's originates in a desire by Chazal to
"hide" the true date (presumably conceding the truth of the rest of the
world's dating scheme) so as to complicate attempts at "chishuv hakeitz"
(attempts to predict/calculate the future date of final
redemption/cataclysmic reordering based on numerological and historical
clues - shades of early "codes" work).

2. This is a very interesting topic and I'll reserve the right to make a
more substantive comment at another time, but for now wanted to note
that Kedar's suggestion in fact sounds very similar, (I'd say identical
except that I'm doing this from a very hazy memory of something I read
about 25 years ago when I was a visiting student browsing an afternoon
at the Hebrew U. library), to a suggestion offered by R. Shimon Schwaab
(I think in a festschrift volume in honor of R. Breuer) that Chazal were
deliberately blowing smoke in order to conceal the chishuv hakeitz. R.
Schwaab also might have connected this haziness of the Persian period
with the fact that the final books of the Tanach were authored at this
time. In any event, I think R. Schwaab's priority here should be cited.

3. I always thought this suggestion of R. Schwaab's remarkable, not
necessarily for the substance, but that it was made at all. Here, after
all, was a pillar of the German Charedi community taking a (in current
parlance) religiously incorrect stand - that the "academics" (feh!) and
goyishe histories were correct, and that the traditional talmudic
chronology wrong (albeit intentionally so). I wonder if that could still
happen today. Actually, I'm afraid I know the answer to that.

4. Some of my kids, exposed to jewish history class at one of our (oh so
very correct) local high schools had one of the ArtScroll history
volumes (probably an oxymoron in there somewhere) assigned as a text. I
noticed that they, unsurprisingly, preferred the standard seder olam
rabbah/talmudic chronology thus asserting matter-of-factly that the
first Bais Mikdash was destroyed about 421 B.C.E. (instead of -586) and
such like. I explained to my kids that this was a bit like claiming the
American Declaration of Independance was signed by all the colonies in
1941 or that Napolean was defeated at Waterloo about 1982 while
everybody else in the world believes something quite different. The
point being that such a viewpoint may be quite defensible, (after all,
following the gemara's lichorah version and generations of chachamim may
be a VERY defensible position), but it is at such odds with universally
accepted chronology that you'd think they'd at least note the difference
and explain their preference, so our kids will not be blindsided later
on. Oh well.

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


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 94 12:56:50 -0700
Subject: Re: Physician's Fees

In a recent post, Eli Turkel stated:

	      I just came from from a shiur of Rav Zilberstein (rav of Ramat
	Elchanan in Bnei Brak) for doctors. He was very insistent that doctors
	have a right to charge based both on their accumulated knowledge and on
	their signature for prescriptions. ...

I am lost here. Isn't the Doctor's wisdom the one specific thing he is
prohibited from charging for? According to the Shulchan Oruch, Yore Deah
336:2, and I quote [translation mine]:

"It is forbidden for a physician to take a payment for his knowledge;
however payment for his trouble or batala is permitted". (Consult your
LOR for the details of batala.)

While there are some things a doctor may charge for, it specifically
prohibits a charge for chachma [wisdom]. How does Rabbi Zilberstein
explain this psak?

As far as your comments about charging for their signature, I am not
sure what that means (i.e. a Doctor's signature is not worth the $50 he
charges you for it).  Regardless, this would not justify a doctor's
charging if he did not issue a prescription.

Hayim Hendeles

From: <Dialectic@...> (Barry Fruendel)
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 00:29:49 -0400
Subject: Physicians fees

Hayim Hendeles writes:
> I recently quoted a halacha that a physician is prohibited to charge
> for his services. In a recent post, one reader challenged me to find
> the source for this halacha; and even went so far to quote a Halacha
> in Shulchan Oruch from which he wished to prove otherwise.

As I was the poster Hayim's further discussion evokes my further comment

Hayim writes:
> However, I stand by my original post. The Halacha is brought down in
> Yore Deah 336:2, and I quote [translation mine]:
> "It is forbidden for a physician to take a payment for his knowledge;
> however payment for his trouble or batala is permitted". (Consult
> your LOR for the details of batala.) The commentaries (Taz and Shach, also
> Bes Hillel) all compare this to a lost object, where there is a mitzvah to
> return it. The rule by mitzvos, is that one cannot charge for them.  However,
> payment for batala is permissible.

This is already a change in your position as your original post
suggested that Shulchan Aruch held that physicians can charge nothing as
they are involved in performing a mitzvah.

Unless you want to suggest that sechar batala is paid but not charged (a
suggestion that strains credibility and contradicts the sources
discussed below) Doctors can at least charge this much. I explained the
concept of sechar batala in my previous post and will not do so again.

> The Halacha in verse 3, which the reader quoted, is a totally separate
> Halacha.

Sorry but this is simply incorrect
As almost always with the Shulchan Aruch the halachah comes from an earlier
source. In this case it is several earlier sources including Ramban, Tur,
Tashbetz and possibly Rashba and Radbaz. Looking at those sources indicates 2
1 that both pg2 and pg3 come from the same place
2 that doctors can clearly charge
I quote Simeon ben Zemach Duran 1361-1444 (Tashbetz  3:3:20) who is the most
succinct, in both Hebrew and English
The question in Tashbetz reads ...  beschar harofeh sha'al mimenu shiur kaful
umekupal VEHODAH HACHOLEH LIDVARAV...(regarding the fee for the doctor if he
<the doctor> asks him <the Patient> an amount that is double and redouble
[the proper amount]  AND THE ILL PERSON AGREES...
In his response he says "...vedavka im HITNAH aval bistam ein lo elah sechar
batalato vetircho" (only if he has made [the fee] a prior condition, but if
it [the medical care] was done without prior agreement he gets only a sechar
batalah and labor. To round out the circle Tashbetz quotes both Ramban and
Tur from whom the Shulchan Aruch's language is directly taken in support of
his veiw.

several things are clear but two are immediately relevant
1-physicians fees are assumed
2-pg 2-3 in Yoreh Deah 336 are from the same place and are not a seperate

> There it states that if one promises to pay an exbortant price for rare
> medicines, he need only pay the actual price; however, if he promises to
> pay a physician a high price, he must do so.

Hayim has twice used the word "promise" in English but two different
words appear in Hebrew. In the medicines case the word is "pasku" i.e.
decided while in the physician fees case it is "hitnah" which implies a
tnai, a condition. This cannot mean simply an offer of payment by the
sick person as that is clearly not a "tnai". A "tnai" implies the doctor
saying "I will pay you on condition that you pay me x". It is also the
same word used by Tashbetz and capitalized above. This is clearly a
reference to charging physicians fees as the tnai comes from the doctor.
It is also why I suggested that physician's fees must be discussed
first, before service is rendered.

> Rabbi Akiva Eiger refers the reader to the Sh"t Binyamin Zev, where he
> sides with the physician in the following case: if one promises a
> physician 50 whatevers to heal his son, and the boy was cured; the man
> refuses to pay the physician more than the reasonable charges - the
> Binyamin Zev rules he must pay the physician what he promised, and
> he cannot say "I was only joking".

Again some  halachik history is in order. The ultimate source for this
halachah is the Gemara on Baba Kama 116a and the derivative gemara on
Yebamoth 116a. 
The case in B.K. is of a man running from prison who offers a boatman an
excessive price to take him across the river. Once across he can say "I was
fooling you" and since he was under compulsion no contract is made and no
liability incurred beyond the normal fee. The offer by the pursued
strengthens the case as an offer  by the boatman would certainly be coercive.
Says the Gemarrah even if the pursued makes the offer it is still coerced.
This is expanded in Rishonim (listed above) to include the case of one who
has drugs and the sick person offers an extremely high price for them.
Rishonim unanimously see this as parallel to the Talmudic case and see the
agreement as invalid. Again if the offer had come from the drug merchant it
would be the more lenient case and if codified in this way one could argue
that where the drug merchant offerred it is coercive but if the sick person
offered to pay there is agreement. Come the Rishonim and Shulchan Aruch to
say even in such a case no agreement has been reached.
While discussing the drug case the Rishonim, inter alia, make their comments
about physicians fees. It is clear that they do not mean to limit their
comments to cases in which the physician is offered payment. Clearly they
mean both cases just as both cases are implied in the boatman case and in the
medicines/drugs case. Aside from Tashbetz & Shulchan Aruch telling us so
explicitly, reversing the Talmudic formulation in this way (i.e. making the
lenient case into the stingent one and then excluding it) would require an
explicit statement absent in all Rishonim. I suspect that Binyamin Ze'ev who
I will look at is simply paralleling the physician case with BK 116a and has
no intention of  being exclusive in his formulation.

> Thus, it would seem the Halacha in verse 3 cannot be used as the basis
> for a physician charging. Here the halacha is dealing with the case
> where the *patient promised* to pay a high price. This does not
> justify the physician charging.

This is clearly not true as explained.  

> Any other interpretation of this halacha would contradict the Halacha in
> the 1st paragrpah.

pg2 (the first pg) is clearly speaking optimally. But the world can't
function this way as there will be no or almost no quality drs. hence pg.3

> Again, as I mentioned in my previous post, ... a tape .. discusses the
> heter for a physician to charge. I highly recommend this tape.

If the tape says what Hayim describes it is seriously in error


From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 94 16:03:51 EDT
Subject: Retrospective causality

Never content to be confused at just a classical level, I now mean to bollix
up this discussion further, by bringing in quantum mechanics.  No need to
panic, please:  I plan to make the discussion _more_ empirical and concrete
than it has been so far, not less.

When we speak of `what has already happened', we may mean any one of three

(1) What we personally have observed to have happened.
(2) What has been widely observed to have happened.
(3) What God knows has happened.

I think we can all agree that no one (except in the madness of personal grief
or despair) hopes to change events of type (1) retroactively.  Outgrowing the
`make it didn't happen' sort of prayer is an important milestone of early
childhood.  (This is not to say that God doesn't have the power to `make it
didn't happen', even if we saw it happen with our own eyes.  I only assert 
that it is both arrogant and futile to _ask_ that He do so for our convenience,
and that Torah and practical experience therefore both argue against such

Most of the cases that have been discussed fall into class (2):  the grades
that have not been opened, the tree that we ourselves have not seen fall, the
dreaded phone call from the hospital that has not come.  I would maintain that
there is no real difference between case (1) and case (2).  Look at it this
way:  when I pray for my grades to change retroactively, I am asking for a
change inside the envelope, and in computer records that may be in dozens of
different physical locations, AND in the mind of the professor who gave the
grade.  That's just for starters:  consider the student who cheated off my
test---does his grade go up, too?  What if he has already seen his grade?
What if he has already shown it to me?  The (macroscopic) world is a single
mighty consistent whole---there aren't many things in it that are isolated
enough that you can change them retroactively without changing things you have
already seen.  As noted above, asking for such a change is l'vatel for anyone
over the emotional age of four.

The tricky one is (3).  We now know that there are PAST events about which
no PRESENT knowledge is possible to us.  For example, if I observe a photon
to be right-circularly, and not left-circularly polarized as it enters my
telescope, it is no longer possible even in principle to know whether it was
horizontally or vertically polarized when it was emitted.  The knowledge of
circular polarization is complementary to the knowledge of linear polarization,
and wipes out ALL of the universe's memory with one fell swoop.  Please note:
this is neither `too small to see' and hence below halakhic concern, nor is
it `just a theory' with no observable consequences.  That photon could have
been travelling for a very long time, and it may have reached me ONLY because
it has BOTH possible histories, and the two of them interfere.  In other
words, by making an observation today, I can and DO change what happened
long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  So:  let's say that my life hangs by a
quantum thread:  someone has me hooked up to a Schroedinger's-cat gadget
which will execute me IF a particular atom in space went zig rather than zag
a century before I was born.  And we know that in fact the atom did BOTH, or
NEITHER, since it has to pass through a half-silvered mirror that will only
admit zig+zag, not zig-zag.  Am I allowed to pray retroactively for the
quantum state of that atom long ago?

My own view is that God, being outside of time, is not constrained by the
results of conterfactual experiments that He knows will never in fact be
performed.  As long as we talk only about experiments that actually get done,
there is never any danger of inconsistency in quantum events.  But there IS
indeterminacy in the past, and so (if it is possible to pray for anything) it
should be possible to pray for a particular outcome of a past event, PROVIDED
that the choice of outcome has not yet had any observable consequences.  So
if the professor didn't know my grade himself, but had let the roll of a die
in a sealed box determine the grade, which was then fed directly to the 
printer and stored NOWHERE, then in a very strong sense the grade is only
determined as I open the letter...so I don't see why I wouldn't be able to
pray for a particular outcome.  Of course, this is all awfully theoretical.
If the printer leaves an imprint on its ribbon that a detective could read
to learn my grade, then we are right back at case (2).

...and a line of 30 cubits |===================================================
did compass it round about.| Joshua W Burton (401)435-6370 <burton@...>
    -- 2nd Chronicles 4:2  |===================================================


End of Volume 13 Issue 68