Volume 13 Number 73
                       Produced: Wed Jun 22  1:13:34 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

`Aguno$h [deserted wives]
         [Shalom Krischer]
         [Norman Tuttle]
Changing the Past
         [Barry Freundel]
First Language of Adam
         [Sam Juni]
get under the chuppa
         ["Irwin H. Haut"]
NY ACLU against religious freedom
         ["Hillel E. Markowitz"]
Rambam's three daily sins (sic)
         [Jerome Parness]
Retroactive Prayer
         [Doug Behrman]


From: Shalom Krischer <PGMSRK@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 10:38:47 -0400
Subject: Re: `Aguno$h [deserted wives]

On Sun, 12 Jun 1994 01:50:23 -0400 Lon Eisenberg said:
>To avoid this problem, why has the following not been instituted?
>When a couple gets married, at the same time that the ketubbah is given, a
>"get" [writ of divorce] should be given with the following statement:
>This will be your "get" after I leave and don't return or contact you
>(by mail or phone) for X months.

This is not a totally original idea; I seem to recall learning in
Tractate Gitten (but I do not remember the exact place) that before
going to war (or a long trip?), the man would give his wife a "Get" with
the stipulation that it only becomes valid at time X (unless the husband
returns to revoke it).

Notice, however, the difference (subtle though it might be) between the
scenario I just described, and the solution postulated by Lon.  Lon's
method has an implicit "Ad Olam" (sp?) (Forever) clause in it (the Get
is given up front, with a "If I -ever- disappear" phrase), while the
Talmudical case does not have suce a clause (it is given ONLY at the
time of leaving, so the "effective" date (if) is known immediately).

Since a Get is a legal document, and Jewish law does not "tolerate" Ad
Olam clauses, (unfortunatly) the solution posited by Lon is


From: <ntuttle@...> (Norman Tuttle)
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 94 11:13:10 -0400
Subject: Agunot

On the subject of Agunot, Lon Eisenberg suggests that we should write a Get at
the time of marriage or a statement which serves as a "'get' after I leave and
don't return or contact you for X months".  The problem is:  Halachically,
this cannot be considered a Get.  A Get is a document which is given AT THE
TIME OF divorce, and must contain the absolute statement to the effect that
"You are divorced" or "no longer my wife".  (See Tractates Kidushin and Gitin)
In addition, no conditions may attach to the Get which refer to future
activity once the divorce has taken place, since the Get must effect a total
severance.  Rabbinic Takanot have taken effect as to (1) require the wife's
agreement to a divorce, and (2) that Beit Din has the obligation to beat a man
until he agrees to give his wife a divorce, if the wife desires it.

In reference to Bat Sheva, at the time of King David it was customary for the
soldiers to give their wife a Get at the times when the army was at war. Then
they would remarry after the war.  This, of course, could not work for a Kohen
since he is prohibited to marry a divorcee (even his own former wife).

Now, it is possible to use a Shaliach (messenger) to send or receive a Get.
Both the husband and wife may have a Shaliach.  The Get is not considered to
be given over to the woman until the Shaliach of the wife receives the Get.
Perhaps it is possible that the Shaliach can be told to delay the giving of
the Get until the conditions proposed by Lon are present.  But the conditions
of the Shaliach (both of them) are also strict, so it is very unlikely that
this will occur and that the Shlichim (pl. of Shaliach) will be acting on
behalf of both the husband and wife at the time of the giving of the document.
The potential for abuse of this mechanism is also high.

Marriage itself is conditional K'Dat Moshe V'Yisrael, which means that the
Rabbis have a (limited) means of nullifying a marriage if it does not adhere
to their specifications of a marriage.  In practice, this is not often used
since marriage is meant to be permanent institution from the Torah, and is not
to be played with.

MD'Rabanan (from the Rabbis) there are several Takanot which define marriage
as an institution (some are negotiable).  One of the items which a man is
required to produce as part of the marriage is Ona'ah, which is defined as
relations.  NOTE that relations which are not agreed to by the wife is
considered RAPE, and can no way be considered a mitzvah.  The Tractate
Kidushin lists the various time requirements in which a man must see his wife,
if she so desires, according to occupation.  Based on the Takanot, if a
husband does not satisfy his quota in this area, the wife may initiate court
proceedings against him (which may lead to a divorce).

I am not certain exactly which type of Agunot Lon E. is trying to protect.  If
wives of those serving in an army or those on an expedition in Saudi Arabia,
maybe they should divorce their wives before undertaking these operations (as
in the times of King David, but no Kohanim please).  If it is those who will
be blackballed by their husband when they need a Get and cannot relay on Beit
Din to beat up the husbands because of the limited power which Beit Din has in
the Galut to resort to capital methods, maybe people should spend a little
more time dating and determining who it is that they are marrying.  I don't
think we want to desecrate the institution of marriage just because there are
some who unfortunately abuse it.  Just be careful when entering.

Nosson Tuttle


From: Barry Freundel <bfreun01@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 1994 02:19:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Changing the Past

Sam Katz responds to me as follows:

> One miracle that comes close to changing the past is the
> midrashic sex change of Dinah (in response to Leah's prayer) from
> male to female

The reference, I take it, is to the discussion in the Talmud which
includes the remark: "After Leah had passed judgement on herself . . .
the child was changed to a girl" (Berachot 60a). Doubtless, this change
would count as a miracle, but I don't see that it even comes close to
changing the past. We are told that after Leah's prayer, there was a
change in the sex of the fetus. But the change in the child from male to
female did not alter the fact about the past that Leah originally
conceived a male

Following his later paradigm. Leah and Yaakov have conceived a boy and
then suddenly they have not conceived a boy parallel to I mowed the lawn
suddenly I did not mow the lawn. Not exact but close


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 1994 17:22:15 -0400
Subject: First Language of Adam

In the discussion of first languages, a point is being missed -- that of
language as a communication function. We have two options: 
              a. Adam had language preprogrammed in his brain by G-d. To this
                 one can append the notion that it was Hebrew for philoso-
                 phical/theological/ontological reasons.
              b. Adam invented the language to be able to communicate. To this,
                 one can append the notion that he invented Hebrew because, for
                 him, language was not just functional, but actually reflected
                 inherent attributes of mystical qualities of the numerology
                 (etc.) of the words.

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


From: "Irwin H. Haut" <0005446733@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 94 22:27 EST
Subject: get under the chuppa

in connection with the suggestion that a get be written and given
immediately after the reading of the ketubah, such is indeed, a worthy
suggestion, which would resolve much of the agunah headache, but which,
alas, runs afoul of a basic principle of halachah. it is thus
well-established that cohabitation after the giving of the get would render
it invalid. Indeed, even the appointment of the wife as an agent at that
time, by her husband, to have the get written and delivered, was deemed
invalid on that ground by most poskim, although suggested and supported by
the learned Rabbi Louis Epstein in 1930. for further on this point, see my
Divorce in Jewish Law and Life, ch.10, p.61, and, particularly, ns.12-13.
in all humility, i suggest that the sole solution to that ever-increasing
problem is the re-institution of the Takanah of annulment of marriage, which
was in effect in Geonic lands for over 600 years, more fully discussed in my
book, and in my article in the Spring 1977 issue of TRADITION, "A Problem in
Jewish Divorce Law: An Analysis and Some Suggestions. The response to my
article by the learned Rabbis, readers of that much-respected journal, was a
deafening silence. does my suggestion have merit? i would be interested if
anyone out there has any comments on the matter, one way or the other. 
irwin h. haut


From: "Hillel E. Markowitz" <HEM@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 1994 10:19:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: NY ACLU against religious freedom

The latest issue of the Yated Ne'eman has a filler stating that the NY
Civil Liberties Union is suing the Monsey Trails Bus Company to force
them to remove the mechitza that runs down the middle of the central
aisle of the busses.  The NYCLU claims that a woman was asked to
change her seat in order to allow the people on the bus to daven
mincha and that this is sexual discrimination.  A spokesman for the
company stated that the woman refused to move and that this is
religious discrimination since she prevented everyone else from

The bus company runs from New Square to New York City and was set up
to allow people going to and from work to daven with a minyan while
getting to work on time.

The whole incident smells like a setup by the NYCLU designed to
prevent people from davening.  Why is it that groups like this are in
the forefront of fights against religious observance but must be
fought against when someone attempts to follow halacha.

|  Hillel Eli Markowitz    | Said the fox to the fish, join me ashore  |
|  <H.E.Markowitz@...>   | The fish are the Jews, Torah is the water |


From: Jerome Parness <parness@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 1994 17:22:37 -0400
Subject: Rambam's three daily sins (sic)

   To all mj readers who have commented/queried about statements I made
in one of my May postings about the Rambam and the way he would sign his
   It is a commonly heard/read notion that the Rambam would sign his
responsa that while living in Egypt he was "over al shloshah lavin
b'chol yom" (transgressing three sins each day). First, that he was
living outside of Israel, 2. that he left Israel to go to Egypt and I
never could figure out the third one. So I sent a personal query to
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Cohen, a talmid chacham and scholar of the highest
order who works at the Annenberg Research Center in Philadelphia, and
has access to Rambam scholars, manuscripts and facsimiles of originals
as well. Below is his answer to my query.
   I take this opportunity to apologize to the mj readership for helping
to promulgate popular, but likely false, lore regarding the Rambam,
despite the fact that I read the "facts" in a biography of the Rambam. I
also take this opportunity to show Hayim Hendeles and all those who
think like him that the academic process of peer review works, even in
areas of Jewish learning. You buy your tickets and you take your

PS: He never did get back to me what the third "lav" would have been.  

> Dear Jerry,
> Please forgive the delay in answering your query.  First of all, this
> question was asked already at our institute.  It turns out that the
> Rambam never signed his responsa in that manner.  We looked up every
> posssible source and could not locate it.  Menachem ben Sasson who is
> writing on the Maimonidean dynasty asked me about that.  We both came
> to the conclusion that it doesn't exist.  I will let you know
> theoretically what the third lav will be.
> Kol Tuv,
> Shlomo

Jerome Parness MD PhD         Internet: <parness@...>
Depts of Anesthesia & Pharmacology   Voice: (908) 235-4824
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School  FAX: (908) 235-4073
Piscataway, NJ 08854


From: <ASLAN7@...> (Doug Behrman)
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 22:48:42 -0400
Subject: Retroactive Prayer

It seems this topic has gone on forever,but I can't resist sticking my
own two cents in. The series of events you describe in the case of
mowing your lawn (or not)does exist as two contradictory events
according to many modern physicists' interpretation of Quantum
mechanics.Every branch point ( a point in 4 dimensions-including
time-where a decision is made to do or not to do something) splits off
into distinct universes where the decision was made one way or the
other. Both universes exist with equal validity, so you did both mow and
not mow your lawn, depending on which universe you are in. A student
praying for an "A" on his sealed report card is merely praying to be in
the universe where he did get an "A". I know this seems very strange,
but you'll have to take your complaints to Albert Einstein(at least in
the universe in which he's still alive).  
Doug Behrman


End of Volume 13 Issue 73