Volume 14 Number 15
                       Produced: Wed Jul 13  1:30:34 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

365 and 248
         [Noah Dana-Picard]
Agunot and Takanot:  Clarification
         [Norman Tuttle]
Brit Milah & Anesthetics
         [Ira Rosen]
Chumrot vs. Torah
         [Fred Dweck]
Minhag HaGra
         [David Curwin]
Tisha B'av on Saturday night
         [Ari Shapiro]
Torah and World Knowledge
         [David Charlap]
Tzitzit on Modern Clothes
         [Gedalyah Berger]


From: <dana@...> (Noah Dana-Picard)
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 94 08:20:30 IDT
Subject: 365 and 248

Following Mike Gerver's posting v14#9 on Chaim Citron's dracha.
In Parashat Shemot, when Moshe asks for G.d's name (ve-ameru li ma
shemo = they shell ask me what is His name), at the end of the
answer says Hashem: ze shemi le-olam ve ze zikhri ledor dor.

Shemi= shin mem yod = 350
Add the first two letters from G.d's 2 letter name (yod and he), you
get a total of 365 = number of negative commandments.
Zikhri = zain khaf resh yod = 237
Add the last two letters of the name (vav and he), you get a total
of 248 = number of positive commandments.

There is a nice Maharal on that in Tiferet Israel.

Shaalu Shelom Yerushalaim,


From: <ntuttle@...> (Norman Tuttle)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 94 09:50:38 -0400
Subject: Agunot and Takanot:  Clarification

Some of the feedback on the Agunot issue, based on my last submission
was definitely on target.  First of all, "in the Galut" was meant not so
much as outside of Israel but to shed light on the present-day
situation, when Halacha is not generally implemented on a national
Jewish level.  Whether because certain penalties cannot be imposed
because of the absence of the Bet Hamikdash or because the civil
authorities in Israel or the rest of the world will not allow them to be
in force, this is definitely a consideration which worsens the plight of
Agunot today.  While I feel that the Agunot problem is mostly political
and not halachic (see the attempts, for example, of the NY Get Law to
link civil divorces and halachic Gittin when the situation is merited),
you will notice that I have attempted to outline some of the possible
angles for dealing with the Agunot problem, and their limitations.

It is clear that the Rabbanim down from Mishnayic/Talmudic time thru
Rabenu Gershom and right to the present day realized that there was the
possibility for abuse in the original M'D'Orayta arrangement of Gitin.
This is the reason for the Takanot.  Of course, I realize the ability of
people to change, and that a longer dating season does not necessarily
lead to a better match.  However, I was just pointing out that when
getting into an arrangement such as marriage, one must realize that this
should not be a trivial decision.  Also, when serious consequences may
erupt from mistakes in Dinim, a Rav may not indiscriminantly bend the
Halacha in a way which would be unacceptable to the majority of Poskim.
This is just an explanation for the reason why the courts do not "do
more to help the Agunot".
   In addition, I would like to clarify some Takanot which were
discussed in mail-jewish by Avi Witkin and Robert A. Light.  The
language "takana of forcing the wife to accept a get" is not correct,
and possibly similar languages in the other posting (and my own previous
posting) are also misleading.  M'D'Orayta a Get may be given to a woman,
even without her desire for it.  M'D'Rabanan (I think from the time of
the Gemara) a Get may NOT be forced on a woman, but may only be given if
she agrees to it.  The Ashkenazim adhere to the Talmud-Bavli inspired
dictum that favors Chalitza over Yibum in a Yevama situation (and for
them this is an absolute Gezera), while most Sefardim prefer to do Yibum
(I believe the source for this is Talmud Yerushalmi).  As for the famous
Rabenu Gershom Takana, this is that a man may not be married to two
women (thus requiring a Get for a married man to marry someone else).
This Takana was accepted by all European Jewry, and their descendants.
It turns out that since this is a Takana and not an original halacha, it
is possible to override it is certain situations of hardship, with the
requirement (I think) that 100 rabbis agree to the nullification of the
requirement for the given case (to prevent the problem of "male
Agunot").  I don't think that this leniency is used frequently either,
even if it is "only a Takana".


From: Ira Rosen <irosen@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 94 22:48:15 EDT
Subject: Brit Milah & Anesthetics

My great-grandfather, Rav Shaul Alter Pfeffer, addressed the question of
anesthetic used at a brit milah in a t'shuvah, published after his death
in the third volume of his t'shuvoth called, "Avnei Zikaron." (He was
the head rabbi of the 'Beit Hamedrah Hagadol Anshei Ungaria' - a leader
of the Hungarian jewish community during the early part of the century,
on the Lower East Side).  The answer is found in Siman Gimmel.

He discusses the validity of a brit milah done with the use of cream
prepared by an expert physician that would cause the 'patient' to feel
no pain of the brit milah procedure.  The upshot of his discussion (it
goes on for several long and involved paragraphs, and I must admit that
some of the discussion goes way over my head) is that in a normal case
of brit milah - eight day old male child with no family history of
complications - anesthetic should not be used as it makes the foreskin
as 'dead flesh' and removing it in this state may not be valid.  If
anesthetic was used, however, in retrospect (b'dieved) the brit milah
would be accepted.  Also, if there is a fear of harm to the 'patient'
that would be caused by the amount of pain during the procedure (as
might be the case in a brit milah of an adult, or in a family where a
previous child had reacted poorly to the pain of his brit milah),
anesthesia may be used (his phraseology is more to the effect that
'there is room for leniency') from the outset.

Although much is lost in a cursory rundown of this t'shuva, I hope this
clarifies things for Rivkah Isseroff, who posed the question (I also
hope that I've enterpritted my great-granfather's words properly).  If
anyone there are other opinions, i too would be interested in finding
them out.

Ira Rosen


From: Fred Dweck <71214.3575@...>
Date: 12 Jul 94 12:10:28 EDT
Subject: Re:  Chumrot vs. Torah 

 Jonathan Katz writes:

<<<However, to me it seems as though, really, there ARE no "chumrot" only
different "Siyag"'s.>>>

I'm sorry, but I would find it very hard to ascribe to the halacha of
kitnyot on Pesah the word seyag. This is only one of thousands which I
could cite.

<<<For instance, I was always under the impression that the eating of glatt
kosher meat was a siyag rather than a chumrah (correct me if I'm wrong).>>>

Pardon me, but you are wrong! To those who follow the Beit Yosef glatt
*is* the halacha and neither a chumra nor a seyag.

<<<He then goes into a discussion about the prohibition against adding
laws to the Torah. This prohibition is often misunderstood (and, I must
confess, I do not understand it fully, either). It most definitely does
NOT mean that "no new law can ever be added" - the laws of Purim,
Channukah, and Tisha B'Av are proof of this.>>>

These were *not* laws added to the Torah, nor laws added to existing
Torah laws.  Their reasons are very valid and the Sanhedrim has a right
to add days of commemoration which affected klal Yisrael.

Fred E. Dweck Los Angeles, CA 


From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 1994 09:20:39 -0400
Subject: Minhag HaGra

Having gone to a yeshiva that strongly follows minhag ha'gra, having
found the Gra's arguements extremely convincing, and seeing how the
major achronim seem to see the Gra as the last word (Mishna Brura, Aruch
HaShulchan), I tend to try to follow Minhag HaGra whenever possible. In
addition to the Bi'ur HaGra on the Shulchan Aruch, I also have relied on
the book Ma'aseh HaRav.

a) Does anyone know the source of this book? Was it written by the Gra
or his students? Was it written in his lifetime or after his death?

b) One minhag of the Gra that is often followed is to say "yitgadel
v'yitkadesh" in kaddish instead of "yitgadal v'yitkadash". This is
mentioned in Ma'aseh HaRav. But also mentioned there is the practice not
to say "v'yithalal". This custom I have never seen practiced. Does
anyone know why?

c) In Ma'aseh HaRav it mentions that one shouldn't make kiddush with
bread on the table (even if it is covered) and that "ein kiddush ela
b'makom seuda" (kiddush can only be made at a meal) refers to a real
meal, not mzonot. This second rule is mentioned both in the Mishna Brura
and the Aruch HaShulchan.  But I have never seen either followed, even
in Israel, where Minhag HaGra is very strong.

d) According to the Gra, both "baruch hashem l'olam amen v'amen" (in the
weekday ma'ariv) and "v'shomru bnei yisrael" (in the shabat ma'ariv) are
both considered interruptions, and should not be said. I have not found
one source that only forbidds "baruch hashem l'olam", but all over
Israel there are minyanim that don't say "baruch hashem l'olam" but say
"v'shomru".  Why?


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 94 20:26:43 -0400
Subject: Tisha B'av on Saturday night

In previous years what I have done is people bring their sneakers to
shul on friday night and then after the chazan says Borchu on Saturday
night they put them on.  This is what the Ramah says in the Shulchan
Aruch.  However I have heard of some shuls doing the following.  People
go home after Mincha when shabbos is over they say baruch hamavdil put
on their sneakers and go to shul for Maariv.  This is actually
recommended by R' Shlomo Zalman (quoted in the Shmiras Shabbos Khilchasa
chapter 28 footnote 179).  The shmiras shabbos points out if this is
such a good idea why didn't the Rama say it.  I was wondering what
people in MJ land are doing?

Ari Shapiro


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 94 12:36:20 -0400
Subject: Torah and World Knowledge

Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...> writes:
>"we cannot enumerate all that was forgotten...(Koheles:) ...
>Is Koheles really saying that the automobile existed at some previous
>point in history??  No. Rather, Koheles is to be taken
>metaphorically: yes, the automobile is a new invention, but it's
>really not so different from a train ... In that sense, (and in that
>sense only) is "nothing new under the sun". Or, an alternative way to
>explain it: yes, the automobile is new, but the capacity to make an
>automobile has existed since the beginning of the world (and God knew
>how to make an automobile), so you have really "created" nothing new.

More to the point, one could have been created thousands of years ago.
At the time of the Temple, we could forge metals (iron and bronze were
common, and steel could have been made with the existing technology), we
knew about burning liquids (oils, alcohols, and even some petrochemicals
like kerosene), we knew that boiling water gives off steam, etc.  Using
only technology from 3000 years ago, one could have built a
steam-powered automobile, and maybe even a simple internal
combustion-powered car.

The fact that one hadn't been built doesn't change the fact that one
could have been built.  In effect, the first automobile was a new
implementation of various technologies that have always existed.  (And
used in other ways in previous generations.)


From: Gedalyah Berger <gberger@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 1994 09:35:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Tzitzit on Modern Clothes

> From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
> On many occasions, I've seen articles of men's clothing (especially
> suit jackets) cut such that the garment has four corners.(At the
> front, bottom, and then the cut at the rear-center).Most people I
> speak with (even rabbis) hold that one should have the suit altered
> such that it doesn't have four corners.(Usually done by rounding off

I believe that the pesak mekubal (generally accepted ruling) is that two 
corners formed by a slit are not counted toward the four unless the slit 
goes at least half way up the garment, which is never the case with a 
suit jacket (at least in my experience).  A bigger issue, I think, 
might be things like rain ponchos, although there one runs into the age-old 
discussions/disagreements about tzitzis for clothing made of synthetic 

Gedalyah Berger


End of Volume 14 Issue 15