Volume 15 Number 25
                       Produced: Tue Sep 13 12:50:53 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Age of Universe
         [Joel Goldberg]
Caffeine and Fasting
         [Art Werschulz]
Doctors Leniency on Shabbos
         [David Phillips]
         [Tom Divine]
Lactose digestion and Nostratic languages
         [Mike Gerver]
NY scam artist
         [Sherman Marcus]
         [Mike Grynberg]
         [Yisrael Medad]
Yemach Shmo
         [Harry Weiss]


From: <goldberg@...> (Joel Goldberg)
Date: Mon, 12 Sep 1994 15:40:25 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Age of Universe

 Ira Rosen <irosen@...> wrote on:
 THe age of the earth in Judaism
> ... Nathan
> Aviezer, in his book, "In the Beginning... Biblical Creation and
> Science," ...
> . Measuring time from our
> perspective (today) gives us a distorted view of time as it existed
> closer to the creation of the universe/planet by G-d (also known to the
> scientific community as 'The Big Bang').  What appears, today, to be a
> very long period of time (relative to our measurement techniques) could
> actually have occurred in a very short period of time (real time - not
> relative to our measurement techniques). 

   Unfortunately for this approach, it does not help. No cosmological
 model suggests that the age of our *solar system* is at all less than
 10,000 years old. Nor, that it has been ticking along in an essentially
 unchanged and Newtonian (ok, add a bit for Mercury's perihelion, I'm still
 correct) way for all that time.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Sep 1994 14:26:53 -0400
Subject: Caffeine and Fasting


On Sun, 11 Sep 94 03:23:21 PDT, Yechiel Wachtel
<YWACHTEL@...> said:

> In case you did not have time to wean yourself from coffee
> before Yom Kippur (for those with caffeine withdrawal symptoms) try 2
> asprin last thing before the fast, its my mother in laws trick, and
> works!!

A variant of the above:  I always take some Excedrin and a good-sized
mug of real coffee immediately before the onset of a fast (in addition
to decaffeinating myself the week before Tisha B'Av and Tzom
Gedaliah).  If the fast is one of the two overnight fasts, I take four
Excedrin; otherwise, I take two.

This isn't the sort of thing I'd recommend you do on a regular basis,
but six times a year probably won't hurt.  Don't do this on an empty

Disclaimer:  My wife is an employee of Bristol-Myers Squibb, the
manufacturers of Excedrin.  OTOH, it really seems to work better with
Excedrin than with regular aspirin.  I haven't tried using
acetomenaphine (we call it Datril, you probably know it as Tylenol) or
ibuprofen (a/k/a Nuprin a/k/a Advil).

An easy fast, and gmar tov.

 Art Werschulz (8-{)}  "You can't make an ondelette without breaking waves."
 InterNet:  <agw@...>
 ATTnet:    Columbia University (212) 939-7061
            Fordham University  (212) 636-6325


From: <davidp@...> (David Phillips)
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 1994 14:02:54 -0400
Subject: Doctors Leniency on Shabbos

I don't know if this has been discussed before, but I am upset at the wide
range of heterim (permission) and "kulos" (leniencies) Orthodox doctors
(and medical students) seem to take in the U.S.  (Much of this does not 
apply to Israel where one cannot rely on a majority of doctors being non-
Jewish as one can in the states.)

While I am very aware of the famous quotes of "I'm not being lenient in
the halacha of Shabbos; I'm being strict in piku'ach nefesh (saving
lives)," and other real psaks allowing doctors to drive home from the
hospital after an emergency call ("if we don't allow them to come back
home on Shabbos, they may not go out on the call to begin with"), I
nevertheless find Orthodox doctors with *options*, not taking them, not
making sacrifices.  Actual cases in point:

1.  A doctor has an opportunity to join a less lucrative practice with
less required Saturday coverages or a more lucrative practice with more
Saturday coverages and he opts for the more lucrative.

  A Kohen opts to go to Dental School even though he must work on a
cadaver in his second year.  (I know about the heter of wearing many
gloves.  So what.)

3.  A frum pediatrician davens in the early (hashkomo) minyan on Shabbos
EACH WEEK, so he can go into the office where he has Hours every
Saturday although he never takes an appointment for those hours; he's
there to see walk-in "emergencies" only.

While there may even be heterim for these, where are the sacrifices made
for keeping Shabbos?  Many of our fathers and grandfathers were told,
"If you don't come into work on Saturday, don't come in on Monday," and
they walked away from such jobs only to take more menial jobs at less
pay.  What happened to their ethics regarding Shabbos?

With the number of doctors around today, especially in the large urban
centers, and with the opportunities available in professions and
businesses for Orthodox Jews, I wonder sometimes if there is really any
"moral heter" for any individual person to opt for medicine, since
saving any particular life will never depend on his/her being a doctor!

Is anyone else bothered by this?

--- David "Beryl" Phillips


From: <TMDIVINE@...> (Tom Divine)
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 1994 10:36:11 -0400
Subject: Funerals

An acquaintance of mine, while attending the funeral of a close
relative, was prohibited by the Rabbi from visiting the grave of her
father, who had died some years earlier.  Is this an halachic
prohibition? Custom?  Source?


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 1994 0:55:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Lactose digestion and Nostratic languages

I've fallen hopelessly behind in reading mail-jewish in the past couple
of months, let alone posting to it, but I can't resist commenting on
Joshua Burton's posting in v15n12, in which he speculates that the gene
allowing adult humans to digest lactose may have spread together with
the Nostratic superfamily of languages. This idea makes much more sense
if you replace "Nostratic" with "Indo-European." Mongolian and Japanese,
for example, are considered Nostratic languages, by those linguists who
think the Nostratic superfamily exists at all, and are probably closer
to Indo-European than any of them are to Semitic. But, as Joshua points
out, most Japanese and Mongols cannot digest non-fermented milk. For
that matter, I suspect that the percentage of Semitic language speakers
who can digest lactose is much smaller than the percentage of
Indo-European language speakers. I can't, and neither can my wife or my
mother. There must be some reason why there are so many ads for Lactaid
tablets in Hadassah magazine.

As an illustration of why Mongolian is considered an Nostratic language,
consider the Mongolian word "gobi" which means empty or deserted (whence
"Gobi Desert"). This is supposed to come from a Nostratic root which
also gives rise to the two letter Semitic root gimel-beit, which is
found in various words meaning hollow, curved, convex, etc., for example
Hebrew geve' (cistern), goveh (collect), giben (hump-backed), giv`ah
(hill).  The original meaning would have been hollow or empty. While
this is not terribly convincing in itself, this root is found in dozens
of other languages that are supposed to be Nostratic, and there are
hundreds of other roots like this. I can send examples (including some
amusing ones between Hebrew and English) and references to anyone who is
interested.  Whether all this is statistically significant, or just a
coincidence, is an ongoing debate among linguists.

Although it is not likely to be productive to address the technical
issues of this debate in mail-jewish, the Nostratic hypothesis does
bring up other issues which could be discussed here, e.g. how to
reconcile historical linguistics with Migdal Bavel [the Tower of Babel],
and with the chronology of the Torah. B'li neder I may have something to
say about this in future postings.

Gmar chatimah tovah,
Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Sherman Marcus <mernav@...>
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 1994 19:58:28 +0200
Subject: NY scam artist

A few weeks ago, Susan Slusky reported a NY news story about a bearded,
yarmulked man obtaining "help" based on his story that he had been mugged
and needed money to get back to Washington.  He has evidently had a long
time to perfect his act.  About five years, I fell for the same story
from the same type of person, while waiting for my El Al flight back
to Israel.  In addition to having to get back to Washington, he was
forced to postpone his trip back to Israel to the following Tuesday on 
TWA.  Wanting to be just a little cautious, I called TWA and verified he
did indeed have a reservation on Tuesday. He assured me that he would pay
me back as soon as he got home to Beit Hakerem in Jerusalem, and gave
me his telephone number with a request to notify his wife and kids when
he'll be coming.  He even went so far as to tell me he appreciated my
kindness, even though he is not permitted to say "thank you" since that
can be considered like paying interest on a loan.  Of course, the name, 
telephone number, etc., were all ficticious.  A year later, I met another 
American Israeli who had the same experience at JFK.  He lives in Beer 
Sheva, and was not going to fall for it until the scam artist mentioned 
the names of some prominent frum American Israelis living in Beer Sheva.

Since this happened, I have been back to the States about once a year.
Each time, before my return to Israel, I wonder what I would do if I saw
the scam artist again.  My first inclination would be to call the police,
so that they could hopefully catch him in the act.  But would this be
halachically permitted?  Isn't there a problem with handing a Jew over
to a non-Jewish legal system?  I think its pretty certain that he would
not sit around waiting for a din torah (Rabbinical judgement).  Any

Sherman Marcus


From: <spike@...> (Mike Grynberg)
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 1994 12:18:53 +0200
Subject: Racism

I am just wondering how this whole thread on racism fits in with the
concept of "am segula", the chosen nation. If we are the chosen nation,
which we assume, then everyone else isn't henceforth there must be
something different about us to make us chosen. By default, is everyone 
else 'not as good, or able' as we are? or is there another understanding
of am segula,

shana tova,
mike grynberg


From: MEDAD%<ILNCRD@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 94 08:52 IST
Subject: Smoking

When I was in highschool in 1962-3 at Yeshivat Chofetz Chaim in Forest
Hills, NY, the then Rosh Yeshiva Dovid Leibowitz banned all smoking, at
least on the Yeshiva grounds - and especially in the Beit Medrash - if
I am not mistaken as a result of the discussions over the Surgeon-General's
report on smoking at that time.
 That's 30 years ago.  And people are still discussing the issue?

Yisrael Medad


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Sun, 04 Sep 94 20:59:43 -0700
Subject: Yemach Shmo

There has been considerable discussion of the term "Yemach Shmo" in
recent issues of mail Jewish.  There have also been question of the
relationship of the term with the similar word relating to Amalek.

In Deuteronomy 25 v 6 regarding Yibum (Levirate Marriage) it gives the
purpose of Yibum as being so that "his name not be blotted out of
Israel".  The Hebrew term is "Yimcheh Shmo". From this we see that
Yemach Shmo is dealing with the wiping out one's future line.

I once heard a Maaseh (on a taped Shiur) that someone referred to a well
known evil Jew with the term Yemach Shmo.  The Rabbi (unfortunately, I
cannot recall who this was ) said that though there was no question that
the man in question was thoroughly evil, if King Achav had died
childless his wife would have had to have Yibum and if Hashem would not
say Yemach Shmo for any Jew, how could we.  In Rashi Sanhedrin 39b we
see how the world looked forward to Achav's death as foretold by Eliyahu
and Michayahu, but nowhere was there any curse of wiping out his name.

It is inappropriate to use this curse for any Jew.  This also explains
the Amalek situation.  The Jews were commanded to wipe out the entire
nation, thus eliminating their future.  This does not contradict the
requirement to remember their evil deeds.

Ktivah V' Chatimah Tovah (or Gmar Tov if this comes out after Rosh



End of Volume 15 Issue 25