Volume 13 Number 98
                       Produced: Wed Jul  6 18:37:49 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bar Mitzva
         [Phil Chernofsky]
Compromising Decisions
         ["Ezra Dabbah"]
Explaining Shabbat to employers
         [Mike Gerver]
Flat Earth
         [Noah Dana-Picard]
Physician's Fees
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Science in the Torah
         [David Charlap]
What year is it?
         [David Curwin]


From: Phil Chernofsky <philch@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 1994 08:01:09 -0400
Subject: Bar Mitzva

TTBOMK, the Torah would consider a boy or girl to have reached the age
of mitzvot when they begin to show the early signs of puberty, i.e. hair
under the arms. This can happen before the 13th or 12th birthday. The
Sages, however, have set 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl as the rule.
(BTW, many people get the 13 years and 1 day rule confused. A person is
13 + 1 day on his 13th birthday, just as he was 1 day old on the day he
was born.) Those religious acts which require Bar/Bat mitzva can only be
performed from the day of the 13th (12th) Hebrew calendar birthday and
onward. There are some Torah laws that would require 13 years and
physical maturity. E.G. a baby-faced, not yet into puberty 13 year old
Bar Mitzva boy CAN read the Torah for a congregation (except for Parshat
Zachor, which is another story), CAN read Megilat Esther for the shul,
but CANNOT (should not) blow shofar for his congregation.

   Phil Chernofsky, associate director, OU/NCSY Israel Center, Jerusalem
   Email address (Internet): <philch@...>
   Tel: +972 2 384 206   Fax: +972 2 385 186   Home phone: +972 2 819169
   Voice mail (to record a message): (02) 277 677, extension 5757


From: "Ezra Dabbah" <ny001134@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 94 20:10:35 -0500
Subject: Compromising Decisions

Rabbi Alderstein says in v13#80 a halacha analysis should be taken into
account before a decision is made. Exactly, how is this done? Consider
the following:

1) From August 1990 until January 1991 we were told that the U.S. would
lose 40,000 soldiers in the Gulf War. Many prominent people were against
the war including Jimmy Carter. What the media and/or Pentagon were trying
to tell us is that they haven't a clue as to what will happen once the 
troops are engaged, but be prepared for the worst.

2) Are you to take into account the so called halacha of "Esav soneh
Yaacob" and say that you could never reach a compromise to deter reprisals.
Would you let the World Trade Center bombers go free because of reprisals?
(For those of you not in New York, the Vista Hotel which is/was part of
the WTC, is still being put back together).

3)Do you take into account the Boreh Olam factor and say we'll give it a
shot and pray for Hashem's help. 

My examples are meant to be taken in the context that normal leaders are 
making these decisions. Sometimes you can out-think yourself. So, like
marriage (the great unknown), you jump in and pray for the best. 

My question is *lemaaseh* how could you ever have halachic cost-benefit

Ezra Dabbah


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 1994 2:03:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Explaining Shabbat to employers

Yisrael Sundick asks in v13n55 how to explain Shabbat to potential
employers.  I first encountered this problem when I was a grad student
at Berkeley, and there was mandatory group meeting for TAs (for a
particular course) held late Friday afternoon in the winter. When I
first explained why I couldn't go to it, they thought I was joking,
saying that my religion required me to take off early for the weekend,
but when they realized I was serious, they were very accomodating,
allowing me to meet with the professor who taught the course another
time of the week.

After that I didn't encounter the problem for a long time, since I was
on the research staff of universities, mostly doing physics theory, and
could pretty much come in whenever I wanted as long as I got the work
done. I did occasionally miss parts of conferences held on Yom Tov, but
didn't have to justify that to anyone. When I started looking for a job
in industry, five years ago, I was always up front about Shabbat and Yom
Tov, in any interview that looked like it was likely to result in a job
offer. Mostly what I asked was whether I could make up days of Yom Tov
by coming in on Sundays or secular holidays, or working longer days, as
I had always done at MIT, where I was then working. No one ever said
this would present any problem. In fact one person (a somewhat
knowledgable Jew) even said "Of course I wouldn't expect you to come in
on Yom Tov, and you don't even have to make up the hours." (That was in
a place where the employees were known to frequently work extra hours,
without any extra pay.)

My present employer told me that it was official company policy that
employees could make up hours taken off for religious holidays, and that
there was a state law requiring this. Actually both the law and the
written company policy say only that this must be done if at all
possible without seriously inconveniencing the company, or something
like that, but they have never given me any trouble.

The state law, at least in Massachusetts, goes further and says
employers cannot discriminate in hiring against people who take off days
for religious holidays, unless this would seriously inconvenience the
employer and that companies must make every reasonable effort to
accomodate such employees. I think most employers these days know about
the law and follow it, but that wasn't always true. Twenty years ago, a
friend applied for a job and was told that the only reason they couldn't
hire her was because she had told them she could not work on Saturdays
and Jewish holidays. She asked for, and was given, a letter stating this
in writing! She then sued them for discrimination, and won $11,000.
Nowadays, it is unlikely that an employer who felt that way would admit
it, and he certainly wouldn't put it in writing.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <dana@...> (Noah Dana-Picard)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 94 15:30:48 IDT
Subject: Flat Earth

In a recent posting there were some references in the Gemara to the
belief that earth is flat (I cannot now check the m-j volume number). In
particular one of the aggadot Raba bar Bar Hana was mentioned, telling
that he went to the place where sky and earth meet.  I would like to
have ther readers' attention to the fact that in such an aggada, the
'ha'ham does not want to make a scientific statement, but say a
"religious" one. Generally, the place where sky (heaven) and earth meet
is understood to be Jerusalem; therefor the Bet-Hamikdash has to be
built there.  People can see very far away the column of smoke from the
altar in the Bet-Hamikdash into the sky, which gives a visual feeling of
this meeting.  Another understanding of the above mentioned agada of
Raba bar Bar Hana is that, by spiritual efforts, he got very close to
the heaven and then PRAYED there. If the location was only a
geographical one, such a prayer could not be very special.  Moreover,
the dialog afterwards in the Gemara (I have no Gemara here, so do not
quote the text) infers that the travel was not geographic.


P.S. Pray for the shalom of Yerushalaim.


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 94 00:06:18 -0700
Subject: Re: Physician's Fees

	From: <Dialectic@...> (Barry Fruendel)

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.)"

	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.

Unfortunately, you misunderstood my original comment. What I had
said is that a physician may not charge FOR HIS SERVICES. I added
the last 3 words specifically to allow for the 2 loopholes provided
for by the Shulchan Oruch (batala or tircha).

	... well researched discussion omitted ...

Our entire discussion revolves around the following paragrpah in the
Shulchan Oruch, which discusses some sort of payment. This, we both
agree on. We disagreed as to the exact meaning. Rather than argue
back and forth about this, I checked with our LOR here, who is
considered to be an expert in matters of Halacha.

My interpretation of this paragraph is incorrect, and I stand
corrected. The correct interpretation, he told me is based on a Ramban
(as you quoted) is that the Shulchan Oruch is referring to a case where
the physician, ALTHOUGH PROHIBITED FROM DOING SO, charges anyway, and
the patient is obligated to pay - regardless of the cost.

Nonetheless, the bottom line is still the same - the physician
is prohibited from charging for his services.

	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

This is not true, as mentioned previously. (In cases where optimally
it should be done this way, but practically it is done in another
way, you add a phrase to the effect of "Mitzva min hamuvchar [ideally]".
You do not say "OSSUR [it is prohibited]" - as the Shulchan Oruch
does over here.)

To go one step further, even if I were to grant you that the patient
is permitted to make a deal with the physician *assuming this to be
the case*, this would still not solve the general case (i.e. the
patient walks in the doctors office, refuses to pay, but insists
on service.)

	> 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

I was also informed, that Rabbi Bleich also has a fascinating article
on the heter (for a physician to charge) in Journal of Contemporary
Halacha (?) - Volume 2.  Apparently, he comes up with some ingenious
solutions. I have not seen this article, but was told it is well
worth reading.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 94 10:05:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Science in the Torah

DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist) writes:
>Obviously in the time of the mishna Ceaserian sections were performed
>successfully with all parties surviving, where at the time of the Rambam
>they were not.

More evidence comes from archaelogy around the Egyptian pyramids.
Skeletons (and mummies) were found with healed-over incisions in their
heads.  This shows that they had successful brain surgery - the patient
lived at least long enough for the skull to completely heal.  (We, of
course, don't know if the operation was a success or not.)  These bodies
date to the times of the pharohs that built the pyramids (long before
the Jewish nation was enslaved there.)

It seems that only in this century (thanks to modern machines) have we
come close to the level of medical skill that was around 3000 years ago
(without all these fancy machines).


From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin)
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 1994 10:34:05 -0400
Subject: What year is it?

I'd like to respond to a few points brought up both in public and
through private email.

Here are a few comments brought up in the article that perhaps I did not
elaborate sufficiently:

The following comment was parenthetical:
There is a machloket between "Seder Olam" and the Geonim as to whether to
count the creation from the year 0 or 1, and whether another year started
when man was created on the sixth day,  which would be called year 2 of
creation. This difference of 2 years, would explain the declaration of
the Sefardim who say that this year {in 1983} that we are 1915 years
after the destruction of the Temple, and not 1913 years as according to
the historians.

He also mentions:
The years of rule of the king were determined from 1 Nisan (Rosh HaShana 2)
Therefore a king that began to rule in Adar, would be considered to have
ruled an entire year by the following Nisan, when he had actually ruled
less than a month.

Another problem he brings up is that if, according to Chazal, the second
Temple stood for 420 years, then this year (according to Chazal, and the
fact that the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE) should be 5759, not 5754.
This is because the year Chazal state the Temple was destroyed (3835
After creation) plus the number of years we know have passed since the
destruction (1924) add up to 5759.

He also says that the difference between 165 and 169 years is not
relevant because we can't determine the exact number of years as we
mentioned earlier.

As far as the gematria, while personally I am not a big fan of
gematriot, Shmuel Kedar did include it in his article and I felt I
should include it as well. In any case, as it says in Avot, gematriot
are only a dessert for the main meal. But as the article shows, the
difference between 165 and 169 is not conseqential.

I am not familiar with the article by R' Schwaab, but I would be very 
interested in comparing them. 


End of Volume 13 Issue 98