Volume 13 Number 81
                       Produced: Mon Jun 27 18:46:58 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Julius Lester]
Inheriting Sin (2)
         [Jeremy Nussbaum, Ezra Dabbah]
Mikvah and Rivers
         [Eli Turkel]
Mikvah and Swimming Pool
         [Jonathan Katz]
Mikvah Watch
         [Janice Gelb]
Niddah Confusion (2)
         [Esther R Posen, Meir Lehrer]
Non-Kosher Animals in a Non-Food Capacity
         [Joshua Sharf]


From: Julius Lester <lester@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 1994 20:29:38 -0400
Subject: Ben-Niddah

In Vol. 13, N70, Malcolm Isaacs queries:

>I recall a gemara (Shabbat ?) where R. Akiva sees a man without a head 
>covering. R. Akiva declared that this man was a ben-niddah, and this was 
>found to be true on investigation. Can anyone supply a reference?

There may be a reference in T. Shabbat but there is also one in 
  Tractate Kallah 51a as follows:

R. Judah said: The bold-faced are [destined] to Gehinnom and the 
shamefaced to the Garden of Eden. The bold-faced, R. Eliezer said, is the 
bastard; the son of a niddah, said R. Joshua; R. Akiba said: Both a 
bastard and the son of a niddah. The elders were once sitting in the gate 
when two young lads passed by; one covered his head and the other 
uncovered his head. Of him who uncovered his head R. Eliezer remarked 
that he is a bastard; R. Joshua remarked that he is the son of a niddah. 
R. Akiba said that he is both a bastard and the son of a niddah. They 
said to R. Akiba, `How did your heart induce you to contradict the 
opinion of your colleagues?' He replied, `I will prove it concerning 
him.' He went to the lad's mother and found her sitting in the market 
selling beans. He said to her, `My daughter, if you will answer the 
question which I will put to you, I will bring you to the World to Come'. 
She said to him, `Swear it to me'. R. Akiba, taking the oath with his 
lips but annuling it in his heart, said to her, `What is the status of 
your son?' She replied, `When I entered the bridal chamber I was niddah 
and my husband kept away from me; but my best man had intercourse with 
me and this son was born to me'. Consequently the child was both a 
bastard and the son of a niddah. It was declared, `R. Akiba showed himself 
a great man when he contradicted his  teachers'. At the same time they 
added, `Blessed by the G-d of Israel, Who revealed His secret to R. Akiba 
b. Joseph'. 

I have a question which is: what is the halachic basis for R. Akiba to 
take an "oath with his lips" and "annul it in his heart"?

Julius Lester  413-323-9665


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1994 09:22:37 -0400
Subject: Inheriting Sin

The issue of what, especially bediavad (after the fact) constitutes a
kosher mikvah can be an interesting one.  However, the notion that
a child can be punished for the parents' sin is a troubling one, albeit
definitely the case.  One of the classic cases is mamzer, an offspring
of e.g. an adulterous or otherwise forbidden sexual union.  Also, in
the 13 attributes of G-d, we read that He remembers(visits?) the sins of the
parents "on" the children for four generations.  On the one hand,
this doesn't seem "fair."  On the other hand, children do suffer
because of what parents do, in many areas.  For that matter, individuals
in communities can suffer for what others in the community do.
Perhaps, in a certain sense, I guess, life just isn't "fair."  

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)

From: Ezra Dabbah <ny001134@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 94 22:03:13 -0500
Subject: Inheriting Sin

In mj v13#70 Susan Sterngold asks if ben-niddah should be punished for
their parents sin. Eli Turkel answers in v13#71 that spiritual traits
are inherited like biological traits. I would say that analogy is poor.

Susan, please read Ezekiel/Yehezkel chapter 18: 2-4. It says "our fathers
have eaten sour grapes and the childrens teeth are set on edge?... the
soul that sins shall die." The meaning is that the children shall no
longer bear the inequities of their parents and grandparents.

Ezra Dabbah

[How do you understand what you quote in light of the case of Mamzer,
as mentioned above? Mod.]


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 94 10:52:15 +0300
Subject: Mikvah and Rivers

     I received several private messages about using a river for a river
and so I shall give a very brief summary.

    In Yoreh Deah #201 Rav Karo brings down that spring water (ma-ayan)
is kosher for a mikvah even if it is flowing while rain water is kosher
only if it is not moving and in a pit (ashboren). Therefore, if the
majority of the waters of a river are from rain waters then it cannot be
used as a mikvah.  Instead one must gather the river waters into a
separate area where the waters are not flowing. This of course depends
on the river and local conditions, seasons etc.
     The Ramah adds that this is the proper course of action but that
some poskim say that one can rely on the fact that most rivers have
their water from springs even during the rainy season or when the snows
are melting.  Furthermore, many communities have relied on this heter
when a mikvah is not availbale and so one should not object to anyone
who relies on this heter. The Schach again emphasizes that when a
regular mikvah is available that a river should not be used if most of
it waters may have come from rain or snow.



From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 94 17:48:59 EDT
Subject: Mikvah and Swimming Pool

Just a quick response to Eli Turkel's post regarding a mikvah.
He wrote: "A swimming pool might be a mikvah if it had mainly rainwater"
As far as I am aware, there only needs to be some rainwater (even a drop
in an entire pool) for it to be a valid mikvah. Of course, there still
remain other practical problems with swimming pools as mikvahs...

[Are saying this is even if there is no connection to some other body of
water that is mainly rainwater? If so, what is your source? This does
not correcpond to anything I know about mikvaot. Mod.]

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


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1994 17:28:39 +0800
Subject: Mikvah Watch

Louis Rayman writes:
> p.s. how can one tell that a family is keeping Taharat Hamishpacha,
> anyway?  (Aside from "well, they seem like frum people, they go to shul
> on shabbos, shop at the kosher butcher" etc).  Do we make the women sign
> in at the mikva and post the list in shul?

A few years ago a friend in New York was describing how yenta-like the
women in her neighborhood were, and she mentioned that they would notice
the length of a married woman's fingernails. The assumption was that if
the woman had long nails, she wasn't trimming them every month for the
mikvah as their local mikvah lady evidently required.

Not a neighborhood I'd want to live in...

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 

[Similar response from:
DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)]


From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: 21 Jun 94 14:26:41 GMT
Subject: Re: Niddah Confusion

Susan Sterngold writes

>Ah-I just learned something. I always thought "niddah" meant a womanm who 
>was menstruating, but are you saying that "niddah" means anyone who 
>hasn't gone to a mikveh? Where would taking a shower fall in the 
>cleanliness continuum, if swimming pools are equivalent to a mikveh in 
>terms of a baaltshuvah? I find it hard to believe that a child would be 
>punished for the lack of observance of his(her) parents by not being 
>marriageable to certain people. Is this in keeping with the spiritual 
>meaning of Judaism?

Thank you Susan for teaching us how careful we need to be that we don't
confuse and misconstrue issues that are discussed here.  The best
definition of niddah is a woman who is "ritually unclean".  All
menstruating women are "niddah" but many "non-menstruating women" are
niddah as well.  This would include all women who have not gone to a
mikveh after observing "shiva nikiyim" - seven days of cleanliness (no
menstruation along with other halachot).  The degree of "soap and water
type cleanliness" does not affect the niddah status of a woman.  Baths,
showers and swimming pools do not constitute kosher mikvaot!  As a
matter of fact, a woman is often cleanest (literaly not halachically)
BEFORE she uses the mikvah, while she is still a niddah halachically.
If you would like to learn more about the halachot of niddah, you can
call me and I will attempt to set you up with an appropriate teacher.

I believe the story quoted from Rav Moshe concerns an OCEAN which does
have the properties of a mikvah.  It is also incorrect to say that
inadvertantly taking a swim in the ocean is equivalent to intentionally
and carefully keeping the halachot of Taharat Hamishpacha.  Also, a
p'gam (a flaw?) is not a punishment for the sins of ones parents is a
"state".  I believe the theme here is that a baal teshuvah can transcend
that state with teshuva etc.


[Similar response from:

<m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
<david@...> (David Charlap)]

From: lehrer%<milcse@...> (Meir Lehrer)
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 1994 23:58:29 -0400
Subject: Re:  Niddah Confusion

It always seems to amaze me when people think that spiritual
consequences are any less grave than blatantly physical/medical ones. If
I'd proposed to you a scenario where a man infected with the HIV virus
fathered a child, and that child was born with a case of full-blown
AIDS. What would you have said?  Would your first reaction have been the
same as above?

The point here is that it is a critical thing to understand that within
the boundries of Jewish thought and Jewish Halachic life the concepts of
the spiritual component and physical component of the human being are
integrally tied together.  Yes, the actions of a parent can
unfortunately affect those of their children. How many doctors in East
L.A. or some of the worst parts of NYC have seen children born to
drug-addicted mothers, and now the babies are born with the shakes,
suffering for their mothers' poor use of judgement.  Just because one is
a result of a physical reaction and the other (Niddah) a result of a
spiritual action (due to the lack of a physical action, ie. going to the
Mikveh), there is no difference in severity. L'hefech (just the
opposite), at least the drug addicted baby may pull through and have a
normal life with no lasting reminder of the early trauma (BIG MAYBE).
However, once a ben-niddah, always a ben-niddah.

This is indeed completely in keeping with the spirituality of Judaism.
The unfortunate thing which I noticed while living in America for 29
years was that American non-observant Jewry became so influenced by the
Christian ideal that actions are detached from consequences.

A swimming pool would not suffice as a Mikveh, while an overlooked old
stream behind your house would (provided enough water could cover the
body). The laws of Mikveh are such that the water needs to be "Mayim
Chayim" (Water which has never been cut off from its source). Therefore,
if we use an artificial construction such as a modern Mikveh (less
preferrable than a lake or ocean), then size and other requirements must
be stringently held to. Also, there are preparations to be undertaken
before entering the Mikveh (clipping all nails, showing, combing out the
hair...). Most importantly, entering the Mikveh must be done with that
strict intention in mind, to fulfill the requirement of Mikveh. A Bracha
must be said. Call me crazy, but I've not seen too many woman go to the
local pool in this order (from before my "separate swimming" days that
is :-) ).

- Meir Lehrer


From: <jsharf@...> (Joshua Sharf)
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 94 21:45:30 EDT
Subject: Non-Kosher Animals in a Non-Food Capacity

Susan Sterngold asks about having non-kosher animals in your life in a 
non-food capacity.  Ib fact, there is no such prohibition

Clearly, we are allowed to touch horsehide and pigskin, since we are
allowed to play certain sports that depend on these hides for their game
balls.  We can raise pigs, we simply cannot eat them.  (There is a
halachic prohibition against raising pigs *in* Eretz Yisrael, but that
is another question.)  We can ride horses for simple, non-military
transportation, or even amusement.  We can own such pets as cats and
dogs, although during certain times of the year we may have trouble
feeding them (Pesach).  There may be certain halachic issues of pikuach
nefesh associated with keeping a bear or rattlesnake at home as a pet,
but their non-kosher status is not among them.

In short, we may benefit in many ways from non-kosher animals.  We
simply cannot eat them.


End of Volume 13 Issue 81