Volume 15 Number 11
                       Produced: Tue Aug 30  0:07:40 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

After-death experiences
         [Michael Shimshoni]
After-Death Experiences
         [Shoshana Benjamin ]
Dor Yeshorim
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Dor Yeshorim and Gaucher's Disease
         [Rena Whiteson]
Sh'mittas K'sofim
         [Amos Wittenberg]
The Milk Issue
         [Barry Fruendel]


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 94 16:41:12 +0200
Subject: After-death experiences

Nadine Bonner relates the interest of her husband in the literature of
"after-death experiences".  I  am not a physician, and do  not wish to
address the religious  significance (if any) of these  reports, but at
the end N. Bonner writes:

>               But what fascinates him the most are not the actual death
>experiences (the white light, the welcoming of long dead relatives), but
>the fact that during the time these patients are technically dead, they
>describe conversations that occurred in the hallways outside the
>operating theater.  So something is happening that defies the ordinary
>life experience.

Not necessarily.  The  fact that these "technically  dead" are brought
back and  relate their  stories shows  that at no  stage they  was any
impairment of most of their  functions, like brain activity etc.  Thus
the fact  that they "heard" what  happened around them (I  assume that
they were not completely acoustically  isolated from the source of the
conversations) does not, as such, defy "the ordinary life experience".

 Michael Shimshoni

From: Shoshana Benjamin  <shu@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 09:21:37 -0400
Subject: Re: After-Death Experiences

Psychology Today published a piece on NDEs a bit over a year ago which
reported people having ecstatic visions of Elvis, while others saw J.C.
in the same role So it seems that you see what you believe.

Shoshana Benjamin (<shu@...>)


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 20:46:49 -0400
Subject: Dor Yeshorim

I received the following private  e-mail,  and  have  obliterated 
all traces of the writer:

          My understanding of Chevra Dor Yeshorim was that it was only
          instituted to test for recessively-transmitted genes.  Thus,
          there would never be testing for things like  colon cancer,
          Alzheimer's, etc. There was of course testing for Tay-Sachs
          and now Cystic Fibrosis, because both  are  uniformly fatal
          (one early, one later). You  are  right  that  Gaucher's is
          non-fatal;  but  if  you  question  bitachon,  doesn't that
          question apply to any disease tested for, fatal or not?

          I was involved with Chevra Dor Yeshorim a few years ago when
          it was started (IN A CERTAIN CITY). Most rabbonim here went
          along with it except one I know of  (NAME  DELETED, CERTAIN
          POSEK). Many poskim are in favor of Tay-Sachs  testing, but
          there are those who are opposed. According to (NAMEDELETED,
          PERSON INVOLVED IN TESTING), no posek has  as  of  yet been
          maskim to testing for Gaucher's.

Let me make clear that I am not *opposed* to testing for Gaucher's
Disease - I am not qualified to have an opinion on this matter.  I am
rather *questioning* this Testing. The above correspondence confirms to
my suspicion that no Posek has sanctioned this Testing, and no hyperbole
on MJ can change this fact.

What is my "Bitachon" concern? Let me explain.

Dor Yeshorim testing is not accompanied by any corresponding
counseling. Results are reported to the two parties, and they are left
to make their own decisions. In the case of Tay-Sachs, the conclusion
that they should draw has been determined by Poskim - most of who are
now zt"l - that the couple should not marry each other.  I understand
this psak very well. I even understand the psak (although I am not aware
who, if anyone, issued it) that a couple that may have cystic fibrosis
children r"l should not marry each other. I cannot, however, imagine a
general psak that Gaucher's carriers, all other things looking good for
this match, should not marry. Yet, in the absence of counseling, that is
the conclusion most likely to result from the stigma of a positive for
Gaucher's result on the Dor Yeshorim test.

We are told in Torah: "Tamim tiheyeh im Hashem Elokecha."  Loosely
translated that means, don't make too many calculations.  Trust in
Hashem. If your prospective mate is exemplary in other regards, just
because you might have a child like Rabbi Steinzaltz shlita you're not
going to get married? Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer zt"l had TB when he was
engaged, and the doctors advised his fiancee to break off the match as
he was to die imminently anyway. She held it would be better to be the
widow of Reb Isser Zalman than to break off the shidduch. He lived to
well over 80.

I could go on in this regard, but I think I have made my point 


From: <rena@...> (Rena Whiteson)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 12:11:10 -0400
Subject: Dor Yeshorim and Gaucher's Disease

Can someone please explain to me why there is even a question about
genetic testing.  Why is this different from any other kind of medical
test, for which we don't need permission?

Another question: Why does Dor Yeshorim keep the results of the tests
secret?  Why not give everyone as much information as possible?  Are
there halachic reasons for this?

                        Rena Whiteson
                 Los Alamos National Laboratory
            Nonproliferation and International Security
                 Los Alamos, New Mexico  87545


From: <awittenberg@...> (Amos Wittenberg)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 13:06:46 -0400
Subject: Sh'mittas K'sofim

Dr Sam Juni brought up the question of paying back money owed after
sh'mittas k'sofim, the ethics involved and whether there is an
incongruency with halokho.  Although Dr Juni did not make his questions
specific and merely stated them in an implicit form, I offer the few
observations, all subject to AFAIK and CYLOR:

1. Paying back money owed after the sh'mittoh is a mitzvoh [a
   commendable act].  I do not know if it is a mitzvoh chiyyuvis [a
   mandatory positive commandment] but I think it is.
2. Sh'mittas k'sofim renders me unable to enforce a debt.  It does not
   *cancel* the debt.
3. Whilst I am *allowed* to make a pruzbul, I am not *required* to make
4. Not enforcing a debt after the sh'mittah is definitely a mitzvoh.  If
   I did not make a pruzbul, it's a mitzvas lo ta`asei mid'oraiso [a
   negative biblical commandment].  If I made a pruzbul, it's a
   "mitzvoh" mitzvoh [a commendable if voluntary act].
5. I figure a y'rei shomayim should write a pruzbul and nevertheless
   "write off" any debts, if he can economically survive this and/or has
   enough bittochon [trust in Hashem] to cope with the consequences.  He
   should still write a pruzbul, IMHO, for the event that, chv"sh, he
   would fall on hard times, need to cash an old debt to survive and
   does not muster the required bittochon to forgo this solution.
6. It is interesting to ask "Should a tzaddik gomur [a completely
   righteous person] still write a pruzbul or may he rely on his
   bittochon in order to be able to be m'kayyem [fulfil] a mitzvoh
   mid'oraiso?"  I am at a loss to find conclusive arguments either way.

It seems to me that the ethics follows quite naturally from the
halakhic framework.

Amos Wittenberg
 ... <awittenberg@...> ...


From: <Dialectic@...> (Barry Fruendel)
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 94 17:35:15 EDT
Subject: The Milk Issue

The issue of puncturing a cow's stomach to help its digestion process
and avoid its succumbing to bloat or intestinal tortion is well known
both to anyone who has ever been around cattle for very long and to the
halachik community. As an example, when I mentioned the issue in shul on
Shabbat, my president who hails from Argentina and spent some time in
and around cattle farms and slaughter houses as a child immediately
recognized the practice and named the instrument which is used
(cannula). Similarly, one of my members who is the father of an M.Jer
and who is a descendant of a very important rabbinic family (included in
his ancestry is R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch) thinks he remembers his
grandfather, a Rav who among other things organized some of the first
kosher supervision in the United States in the early twentieth century,
being aware of this practice.

Along with the awareness by those in the field (pun intended) <:-)> it
is absolutely clear that halachik authorities knew about this practice
as well. The anonymous commentator (magiah) to Tur Yoreh Deah 48
mentions what seems to have been an even more serious surgery to
alleviate bloat. Apparently, in his day not just the gas was removed,
but also the partially digested grass as well. It is clear from the
context and from later discussion that this authority had no problem
with the practice. The Pischai Teshuva Yoreh Deah 48:2 presents both
discussion and sources on the issue as does the Aruch Hashulchan Yoreh
Deah 48:13-14 among others. At the very least anyone researching this
issue should have known that lenient opinions exist. That should have
been enough to ensure further investigation before issuing statements
closing restaurants and taking other measures.  One is forced to
conclude either that the sources were not consulted and were unknown or
they were ignored.

A little bit of background to the halachik debate is in order. The
Mishnah Hullin 42a lists 18 categories of Treifot (internal injuries
that render an animal unkosher, these injuries normally will not allow
an animal to live more than 12 months.) On the list is a hole in the
rumen (the large first stomach of a cow or bull or similar animal)
called in Hebrew the Keres.  However, there is a distinction made
between the inner Keres (Keres Hapnimi) and the outer Keres (Keres
Hachitzoni). In the inner Keres, even a minute hole renders the animal
treif while the outer Keres needs a much larger tear.  It is clear that
the surgery in question will only raise questions if it hits the inner

Where then is the inner Keres? The Gemara Hullin 50b presents 3 Tanaitic
opinions (if one includes Rav's opinion as one should since he has the
status of a tanah). This is followed by a large series of Amoraic
opinions. Dividing these later opinions into Palestinian and Babylonian
authors reveals clearly that both traditions lost the exact site of the
inner Keres. In fact, Rabbi Yohanan specifically says that he does not
know exactly where the Keres is and Rav Nachman bar Yitzhak mourns the
fact that the Keres has fallen into the well. This problem is handled
differently in the two locations with the concluding opinions being that
in Palestine the entire rumen was treated as the inner Keres while in
Babylonia the inner Keres was the part of the rumen first exposed when
the animal is butchered generally part on the underside of the animal.

With this as background one can understand the argument of the Magiah.
Although normally one cannot test whether an animal is a treifah by
seeing if it lives 12 months, the Keres is a separate case. If a minute
hole is made in the rumen, one is already in doubt as to whether this is
the inner or outer Keres. If the animal then lives 12 months a second
doubt has entered the picture. This is different than a hole in the
gullet, for example, (which is also listed as making an animal into a
treifah) where the animal's survival only creates at most a single doubt
which is insufficient to permit the animal. The surgical procedure in
question has an additional advantage in that it apparently is done
between the ribs and punctures the rumen at a point which according to
the Babylonian opinion does not render the animal a treifah.

We can add two other factors to this. First, the puncture made in the
present procedure is apparently very small and presumably heals
quickly. If not, cows with holes in their stomach would be coming down
with peritonitis. No such phenomena exists ( I got this last from Rabbi
M.D. Tendler).  A healed injury removes an animal from its treifah
status. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 46 and 48. As such, even among the
cows undergoing this procedure, there is probably only a very small
window in which any given cow gives milk while the question
remains. Second, as this procedure has been done regularly for many
years, and cows do not appear to die from it, we have additional support
for the idea that it does not touch the inner Keres and therefore does
not create a treifah.

I suppose if this question were being asked for the first time, one
might reasonably come out with a stringent response, but given the fact
that there is a long tradition both in the cattle industry and halachik
tradition of knowing about this procedure and tolerating it, imposing
the Chumrah on the community at this time is simply inappropriate if not
worse. I recommend Chasam Sofer's Teshuva Yorah Deah #19 in which he
uses his famous comment that "Chodosh Asur Min HaTorah" (that which is
new is prohibited by the Torah) to condemn those who institute new
Chumrahs against the accepted practice of the Jewish people.

I am still not clear on exactly which Rabbonim were involved, but I do
understand that some have retracted their stringent positions 
[It is my understanding that within about 48 hours of when this "broke",
all the major supervision agencies said that it was permitted to use
milk products. Mod.]


End of Volume 15 Issue 11