Volume 14 Number 36
                       Produced: Wed Jul 20 23:50:00 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum Doctor, Lawyer
         [David Levy]
Glatt as 'super kosher'
         [Linda Kuzmack]
Killing vs. Murder
         [Frank Silbermann]
Legislating Religion
         [Frank Silbermann]
Ruining Grandma's Shidduch
         [Sam Juni]
The Sixth Commandment
         [Bernard Katz]


From: David Levy <dlevy@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 1994 18:29:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Frum Doctor, Lawyer

Binyomin Segal writes:
> It is clear that you can be a frum yid & still be a lawyer, doctor, et al.

Pity the Rambam if one could not be a frum yid and a doctor!  In fact,
many gedolim had deep knowledge of secular subjects, and some went to
University e.g. the Lubavitcher Rebbe (OBM) studied physics at the
Sorbonne, a fact his followers cite with pride. Moshe Rabbeinu himself
received an advanced secular education at Paro's court.

As others have pointed out, we are instructed to insure we teach our
children how to earn a living. It is no good simply insisting that its
not kosher to go to University - frum jews need valid options.

David C Levy, Dept of Electrical Eng, Bldng J-03,
Univ of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
<dlevy@...>, Tel +61-2-692-4692, Fax +61-2-692-3847


From: Linda Kuzmack <kuzmack@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 21:39:25 -0500 (EDT)
Subject: Glatt as 'super kosher'

Someone wrote about glatt being used to mean 'super-kosher' without 
reference to smoothness of lungs, as in a glatt kosher cookie.

It strikes me that this usage may be the result of a double meaning of the
word 'glatt' in Yiddish.  While it certainly does mean 'smooth', this is
the less common meaning.  The more common usage is translated in
Weinreich's dictionary as 'on general principles'.  Common expressions are
'glatt azoy' and 'glatt in der velt arayn', which Weinreich gives as 'for
no good reason, without purpose'. 

Someone with an imperfect knowledge of Yiddish might not even know of the 
meaning 'smooth' and might try to interpret 'kosher on general 
principles' as 'really, for sure kosher'. ;-)

Arnie Kuzmack


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 23:20:30 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Killing vs. Murder

David Charlap (Vol.14 #25) enumerated a number of types of killing
which are _not_ prohibited as murder.  One of them was:

**** You may kill a human who is attacking you (self defense) ******

Even when killing in self-defense is permitted, is it mandatory,
encouraged or discouraged?

I suppose it depends on the situation, so assuming that the attacker is
gentile and one need not fear revenge, what would Halacha say about each
of the following situations?  Is killing mandatory, encouraged,
discouraged or forbidden?

___ The attacker is determined to kill you.
    (Obviously permitted, but is it encouraged?  Required?)

___ The attacker wants to enslave you, and will kill you
    if you resist (unless you kill him first).

___ the attacker wants to rape you, and will kill you
    if you resist (unless you kill him first)

___ The attacker wants to take your land, and will kill you
    if you resist (unless you kill him first).

___ the attacker wants to take your wealth, and will kill you
    if you resist (unless you kill him first).

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 1994 18:29:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Legislating Religion

Ira Rosen:	(Vol14 #28)
>	Convenience is no excuse for supporting legislation supporting
>	one religion over another in America. Theoretically, all religions
>	are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the government.
>	As for using jewish law to legislate (e.g. Frank Silberman's
>	opposition to the left's position limiting gun sales, and
>	Barry Freundel's opposition to laws destroying the family structure)
>	this is also wrong.  On a constitutional level it is the same
>	as legislating christianity.

I would agree that it seems inappropriate to lobby the government to
support any particular religion's chukim (ritual commandments of unknown
purpose).  But my understanding of U.S. church/state separation is that,
so long as one more or less accepts the morals and ethics of
Christianity, one's theology is not to be questioned.  If the government
is to reject even the moral and ethical aspects of religion, then on
what basis can we hope for moral and ethical government?

>	On a halachic level, there are no other laws other than
>	the seven Noachite laws, that should be inflicted on non-jews.

I agree.  Though halacha commands Jews to defend their lives, there is
no basis for Jews _demanding_ that gentiles be forced to carry guns (nor
have I ever met a Jew who takes this position).

>	gun control is not mentioned in the Tanach or Gemara
>	- only issues of self defense -

It _is_ appropriate to lobby against any law which would prohibit Jews
from observing Halacha.  If a Jew wishes to support a ban on carrying
handguns for self-defense, it is incumbent upon him to ensure that
adequate alternative means of self-defense are available.  Consider New
York City -- the only U.S. city where Jews have a major input on local
laws.  What kinds of weapons are _permitted_ for its residents to carry?
Not knives, not clubs, nor even something as innocuous as pepper spray.

Can anyone claim that a life-threatening criminal attack in N.Y.C. is
outside the realm of reasonable possibilities?  It seems apparent that
the average New York Jew must choose between obeying local secular law
versus being prepared to observe the mitzvah of killing the pursuer.

This situation has been typical of our experience in Golus.  We do not
expect our lives to be threatened on any given day, so we obey the law
of the land and go out unarmed.  If, G-d forbid, we are attacked, our
obligation to defend ourselves is voided due to our incapability.

But it is outrageous that a Jew should _ask_ the government to put us in
this position!  It's like a Jewish prisoner asking the warden _not_ to
offer kosher food -- so he can enjoy the heter of eating tref when
kosher food is unavailable.

Some may cite Pikuach Nefesh to defend their support for handgun bands,
arguing that we will be safer with such a law than under a policy
permitting reasonable self-defense.  The halachic correctness of this
argument depends entirely on whether the gun control measure in question
will indeed incapacitate criminals rather than merely inconvenience

Thus, the potential effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of gun-control
has tremendous halachic implications.  I find the arguments supporting
handgun bans poorly reasoned, and the statistics cited deceptive (but
the moderator has asked me not to discuss the details in this group).  I
consider the handgun to be the only reasonable weapon which puts a
physically small or weak person at parity with a criminal who is
powerful and very likely armed.

Therefore, to fulfill what I consider to be my Halachic
responsibilities, I and my wife have acquired handguns and taken courses
in their use.  We are investigating the possibility of acquiring
concealed-carry permits.  We will oppose any law or political candidate
who would interfere in our observance of this mitsvah.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 1994 18:29:56 -0400
Subject: Ruining Grandma's Shidduch

In a post regarding retroactive causality, Mechy Frankel refers to the
paradox of the reverse time traveller who tries to ruin his
Grandmother's Shidduch, resulting in his own non-existence.

If we are not allowing for multiple paths, the paradox isn't.  From the
current perspective we KNOW that the Shidduch was not ruined in the
past.  Possibilities are many, but can include: a) the guy could'nt
convince Grandma to drop the Shidduch, b) the phone was busy, c) he told
grandma who he really was and she sent for the White-Coats.  Regardless,
he obviously did not succeed, although he physically COULD have done it.

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


From: <bkatz@...> (Bernard Katz)
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 1994 17:03:28 -0400
Subject: The Sixth Commandment

     Howard Berlin asks concerning the Sixth Commandment, Which is it
`kill' or `murder'? It seems to me that neither is correct.

     As Howard points out, "Lo tirtsach" is standardly translated into
English as "Thou shalt not murder". While this translation is by no
means universal, it is the one given by Friedlander, Lesser, and the
Jewish Publication Society. I find this rendering problematic, however,
for two reasons. 

     The first is that the word "murder" in English means the wrongful
killing of a human with "malice aforethought". There are, accordingly,
at least two conditions that must be satisfied in order to apply the term
"murder" to some homicide: it must be culpable and it must have been done
intentionally. The verb "ratsoach", however, is used in various places
in the Torah to designate actions that pretty clearly do not satisfy
one or other of these two conditions and, so, cannot be construed as
murders. In addition, the noun "rotse'ach" is sometimes used to designate
individuals that, for similar reasons, cannot be taken as murderers.

     One example occurs in Devarim 4, 41-42, where we are informed that
Moshe had set aside three Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan. Verse 42
says that these are places of refuge for 

           rotse'ach asher yirtsach et re'ehu bivli-da'at v'hu lo
           sanei lo mitmol   ,

which is standardly translated as: "the manslayer that slayeth his
neighbour unawares and hated him not in the past". It would make no
sense to construe this occurrence of "yirtsach" in the sense of "murder",
for then the text would be taken as speaking of someone who murdered
his neighbour but did so unintentionally and did not hate him in the
past. But it would be a logical contradiction to suppose that someone
might kill another with malice aforethought but do so unintentionally.
In fact, it seems pretty clear that the cities of refuge are intended
not as refuge for someone who has committed murder but rather for
someone who has committed manslaughter. (The term "manslaughter" refers
to culpable homicide done without malice aforethought, that is, done

     In Bamidbar 35, there are about thirteen occurrences of the
verb "ratsoach" or the noun "rotse'ach", and about seven of them refer
to actions or agents that clearly fall outside the category of murder
or murderer. For example, verse 11 speaks of a "rotse'ach bishgaga";
but again there is no such thing as an accidental (or inadvertent)
murderer.  While most of the occurrences in Bamidbar 35 denote actions
that we might regard as either murder or manslaughter (or agents that
we might regard as either murderers or manslayers), at least one is a bit
more problematic. Bamidbar 35, 30, tells us that if one person kills

           l'fi eidim yirtsach et harotse'ach   .

This is standardly translated as: "at the mouth of witnesses shall the
murderer be slain". This translation is especially problematic, because
it renders one form of the word in terms of "murder" and the other in
terms of "slay". But in any case, it would make no sense to construe the
occurrence of "yirtsach" here as meaning either murder or manslaughter,
for the Torah certainly does not regard a lawful execution as a culpable

     I have a further problem with translating "Lo tirtsach" as "Thou
shalt not murder", which is that doing so makes the commandment morally
vacuous. In general, a moral rule picks out some category of action,
described in nonmoral terms, and attaches a moral concept to actions so
described. But murder is, by definition, wrongful killing and, hence, is
morally proscribed; that is, the concept of murder already includes that
of moral culpability. So, we learn nothing new--at least nothing having
moral content--when we grasp that murder is morally forbidden.  Accordingly,
the rule "Thou shalt not murder" understood as a moral rule would be
tautologous and, so, devoid of moral content. (The same objection would
also apply to taking ratsoach as meaning simply manslaughter, since
manslaughter also involves the notion of moral culpability.) 

     I note, finally, that in Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam explicates the
mitzvah "Lo tirtsach" in the following manner:

           (289)  sh'lo l'haroeg naki sh'ne'emar lo tirtsach

Thus, it seems that (here at least) the Rambam understands the mitzvah of
"Lo tirtsach" as one that enjoins us against killing an innocent person.
As a moral injunction, this makes a lot more sense than "Thou shalt not
murder". This suggests that the verb "ratsoach" might be best taken as
simply meaning the killing of an innocent person, in which case "Lo
tirtsach" would be translated in the manner of "Thou shalt not take the
life of an innocent person". I think that this way of rendering the verb
is certainly preferable to the standard one (that is, as "murder"); in fact,
except for the complication introduced by Bamidbar 35, 30, it generally works
rather well.

	Bernard Katz


End of Volume 14 Issue 36