Volume 13 Number 69
                       Produced: Mon Jun 20 18:29:59 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [David Curwin]
Christian Observance in US law
         [Jonathan Katz]
         [Michael Shimshoni]
Codes and bas kol
         [Robert Klapper]
Jew vs non-jew
         [Ezra Dabbah]
Lesbians, Harlots, and others in Hallacha
         [Sam Juni]
Personal Phone Calls
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Siyum stories
         [David Charlap]
The Earth Was Always Round
         [Eric Safern]


From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin)
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994 09:09:01 -0400
Subject: BS"D, B"H

The more I think about it, the more I remember that Gemara. I think
it said that one of the days mentioned in Megilat Ta'anit as a day
we don't fast, was a day that we were no longer forced to write God's
name on the top's of our documents. Anyone familiar with that source?


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 94 13:26:20 EDT
Subject: Christian Observance in US law

In response to Sam Juni's request for information regarding legal challenges
to the Blue Laws:

I will try to find more specific and detailed information if people are 
interested, but I remember reading about a case in which a Jewish merchant
challenged the Blue Laws. His argument was that he already missed a day of
work each week due to Shobbos, so it weas unfair for the state to also
prohibit him from working on Sunday.
The court, in an opinion which I personally found lacking, ruled against
him. Their basic argument was that it was his decision not to work on
Saturday, so therefore not the State's fault. If the state would allow
Jews to be open on Sunday and not Christians, that would be unfair
religious discrimination. Also, if the state passed a law which forced
people to work six days (i.e., forcing a Jew to work on Saturday), that would
be struck down. (This was all in the court's opinion, more or less).
The court also found that the State did have a right to designate one day a
week for rest (the court didn't really address why the day had to be Sunday,
but that's really a moot point to some respect.)

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive - Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 94 11:29:33 +0300
Subject: Re: Circuits

Gedalyah  Berger discusses  the AC  and DC  aspects of  electricity on

>In #45, a number of people pointed out that household power is AC and
>that therefore electrons do not move very far in the circuits, because
>they oscillate due to the changing voltage.

I must have missed that AC argument Gedalyah refers to.  Anyhow as the
frequency of these oscillations are just 50 (or 60 for America) cycles
per second, it  would seem to me that  in 1/100 or so of  a second the
swift electrons could move "pretty far".   BTW what does "far" mean in
that connections, after all there is  surely no claim of the electrons
being bound by Thum Shabbat rules. :-)

Gedalya then adds also:

>            Just about every electric device has a rectifier at its
>input which changes the voltage from AC to DC, on which the device
>actually runs.  So, when you flip a switch on such an appliance, you are
>closing a circuit in which electrons indeed move cyclically around macro

I have  no knowledge  to contribute  on the  halakhic aspects  of that
matter but I dispute that "about every ... device has a rectifier".  I
would  say  that most  devices  like  heaters, refrigerators,  washing
machines, vacuum cleaners, light bulbs, air-conditioners, just to list
the first few I can think of  have no rectifiers.  There sure are some
which  have rectifiers.   As said  I have  nothing to contribute on if
pure AC devices are more permissible to use on Shabbat than DC ones.

 Michael Shimshoni


From: Robert Klapper <rklapper@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 1994 17:17:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Codes and bas kol

Mike Gerver's suggestion that codes conveying halakhic information be
treated as bas kols unfortunately does not remove them from the halakhic
process.  The encyclopedia Talmudit has an article on this, i believe -
offhand i'd mention that a bas kol decides that we follow Beit Hillel
rather than Beit Shammai (I think Yevamot 14a) and is sufficient
evidence of spousal death to allow remarriage.  In each case one must
check whether bas kol really means metaphysical voice or is being used

re the codes generally - is the article published yet, and how can it be 
obtained?  I think i mentioned in a previous posting that at the 
presentation i attended the Rabbis' names were spelled, abbreviated and 
acronymed in diverse ways - if this was done to create the matches, the 
results would I think become statistically meaningless.  (Similarly, but 
less importantly statistically, did thy come up with the three column 
biography criteria, and this book, on their first try, or did they first 
try all names, then all with more than one paragraph, etc.?  If they 
came up with it on the first try, then don't they have to claim a fairly 
impressive level of ruach hakodesh(lit. Holy Spirit- a lesser relative of 
prophecy), as it seems unlikely that people using purely rational 
criteria would think of this information as the most likely to have 
been encoded by Hashem?


From: Ezra Dabbah <ny001134@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 94 22:06:40 -0500
Subject: Jew vs non-jew

Regarding all this talk about a jew killing a non-jew or visa versa,
any comments on the episode where King David sanctions the Givoneem's
request for revenge from King Saul's family? (Please see Samuel 1
chapter 22 & Samuel 2 chapter 21).

Ezra Dabbah 


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 1994 17:07:22 -0400
Subject: Lesbians, Harlots, and others in Hallacha

    I received several responses (not through MJ) regarding my posting
earlier this week on the attitude toward Lesbianism in Hallacha. Two
Talmudic references are Yevamos 76a and Shabbos 65a. It is interesting
that these texts do not address any prohibitions on Lesbian sexuality
(per se). Rather, they concern the designation of the Lesbian as a
Zona (harlot) with respect to marital prohibition to Kohanim (priests).

   While it is true that being a Zona may well involve the violation of
some prohibition, my reading of some Rishonim (early commentators on the
Talmud) is that a Zona is basically a person who is unacceptable from
a social/Hallachic perspective. It is noteworthy that some Rishonim
do not see a Biblical prohibition in pre-marital sex per se (other than
the usual cautions related to sexuality in general), designating Harlotry
only when one is an habitually loose person.  This designation, inciden-
tally, is applied by some to males as well. Furthermore, I saw somewhere
(selective memory strikes again) that the prohibition of Harlotry is
applicable even to the non-Jew, vis-a-vis the directive to the Jewish
people not to maintain prostitutes in their community.  All this, to me,
adds up to a picture that it is not the particular sexual act which is
under condemnation, but the implicit "looseness" of the harlot (or
Lesbian) which is being addressed.

Above, I suggested that the censuring of this grouping is more oriented
at "who they are" rather than on "what they have done."

An interesting litmus test (or operational definition) might be suggested, by
separating the activity from the designation. This can be done at both ends
of the argument, as follows:

        1. Suppose a harlot just "went into business" and is putting
           "her shingle up."  If I read the Hallacha correctly, she
           would achieve her Hallachic status immediately.

        2. (I am less sure about this, but...) Suppose a harlot repents and
           declares Chapter 11. I would imagine that she no longer maintains
           the prohibited status.

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


From: Aryeh Blaut <ny000592@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 1994 02:45:11 -0400
Subject: Personal Phone Calls

>From: <SZN2758@...> (Barak Moore)

A number of years ago, my wife & I purchased some new dishes for
Pesach/Pesah/Passover at a department store (May Co) parking lot sale.
We paid by store credit card (good old plastic money).

Anyway, a couple of months went by and we still were not billed for this
purchase.  I asked my Rav if I should call the store and let them know.
He answered that it actually may be a Chillul Hashem/Hillul Hashem to
call.  He explained that the clerk would probably be cursing us out
because of all the extra paperwork we were causeing him by being honest.
Besides this, by reporting it, the sales person could get into trouble.

Regarding time on the job, there are stories about G'dolim that would
keep track of every minute they spent on the telephone for personal
reasons and deduct it their pay.  (I don't remember who it was, but as
Rosh Yeshiva he constantly received telephone calls from people who
wanted to ask questions.  He deducted from his pay for each call.

Aryeh Blaut


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 94 15:00:24 -0400
Subject: RE: Siyum stories

Aryeh Blaut <ny000592@...> writes:
>My fourth grade class will be celebrating their completion of the
>Breishis/Breishit/Genesis this week.  We will be having a siyum
>(conclution).  Does anyone have any good stories for such an

You may want to use some of what they learned to teach a practical
lesson in Halacha.

For instance, in Gan Eden, the serpent was able to trick Eve because
she thought it would be death to merely touch the tree, not only to
eat fro it.  She thought this because Adam told her this.  If Adam
told her that not touching was his own idea, Eve wouldn't have been
fooled by the serpent.

The lesson in this is: never make anything up when you are discussing
Torah.  (Or anything else).  If you want to add something, always tell
the other people in your group what's in the Torah, and what you
added.  Adam didn't do that, and Eve was later tricked into eating
from the Tree of Knowledge.

-- David


From: <esafern@...> (Eric Safern)
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 1994 11:15:03 -0400
Subject: Re: The Earth Was Always Round

<iEZX4975502@...> (Eliyahu Zukierman) writes about Chazal's knowledge
of science.

In certain practical areas which were relevant to halacha, Chazal were
often better informed than their non-Jewish contemporaries.  To make
them into 20th Century astronomers and physicists, however, is to be
very ahistorical.

The Talmud is totally uninterested in Science for the sake of Science.
As a consequence, Chazal were not systematic in their approach to
scientific inquiry.  So, they had no theory of Planetary Motion in the
same way they had a theory of Tumah and Taharah - even if the latter is
not explicitly stated in the Talmud.  For a full treatment of these
issues, I recommend R' Adin Steinsaltz's _The Essential Talmud_.

A viewpoint among many authorities is to deny the binding nature of the
Talmud's medical and scientific advice, while (of course) accepting the
Halachic validity of the Talmud as a whole and in parts.

For example, see R' Avraham (Maimonides' son) in his introduction to _En
Yaakov_, or R' Sherira Gaon as brought down in _Ozar Ha-Ge'onim_ on
Gittin 68b.  Citations are from R' Yaakov Neuberger's article on this
subject in volume three of _The Torah U-Madda Journal_.

As for the round Earth issue, it appears to me that at least the Rambam
believed the Earth to be flat.  See the first chapter of his _Guide of
the Perplexed_.  The _Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah_ in the _Mishnah Torah_
also contains astronomical material which does not fit well with 20th
Century knowledge.


End of Volume 13 Issue 69