Volume 15 Number 32
                       Produced: Sun Sep 25  0:06:27 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Near Death Experiences
         [Ronnie Schreiber]
Shabbat is Holiest Day? (2)
         [Jerrold Landau, Sam Kamens]
Succah Problems (5)
         [Ben Berliant, Zvi Weiss, Michael Broyde, Shaul Wallach, Isaac
Wedding Gift Ideas
         [Andrea Penkower Rosen]


From: <RonnieS153@...> (Ronnie Schreiber)
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 94 01:32:46 EDT
Subject: Near Death Experiences

It's late so I can't offer citations, but here are some suggested
explanations I have seen for near death experiences.

The light at the end of the tunnel: All along the visual pathways,
starting with the retina and ending in the cortex, the center of the
visual field has a much higher number of photoreceptors and neurons than
the peripheral field.  As the body begins to shut down, internal 'noise'
ie. random firing of neurons becomes more significant than external
stimuli. Since there will be more firing on pathways that represent the
center of the visual field than on the periphery, the brain may
interpret this as a bright light surrounded by darkness, ie. a light at
the end of a tunnel.

A feeling of great peace, floating outside the body: Both in the case of
NDE's and observed deaths there is often the impression of great peace
and less perceived pain than one might imagine. Perhaps what is
happening is that the body and brain are flooded with endorphins
ie. natural painkillers that function not unlike opiates. It is already
known that endorphin levels are elevated at times of great stress
(eg. childbirth) - perhaps the brain is sensing imminent death so it
responds in a manner that reduces pain as much as possible.

Observing/hearing conversations even though unconscious: It is not
unheard of for heavily anesthetized patients to recall operating room
conversations. The auditory pathways still function when asleep or
unconscious - anyone who has ever taken care of an infant can tell you
that. With none of the regular distractions of a conscious state,
perhaps the patient may be ultrasensitive to the point of hearing
conversations in a hallway, outside the OR.


From: <LANDAU@...> (Jerrold Landau)
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 09:32:43 EDT
Subject: Shabbat is Holiest Day?

David Curwin questions the source for Shabbat being the holiest day,
rather than Yom Kippur or Purim.  The source for the concept of the
holiest day is based on the punishments the Torah specifies for
violations of the sanctity of the day "kedushat hayom".  The punishment
for violating Shabbat is 'sekila' stoning, i.e. death by the hands of
man, whereas the punishment for violating Yom Kippur is 'karet'
i.e. death by the hand of G-d.  Violations warranting punishment by the
hand of man are considered more severe than violations warranting
punishment by the hand of G-d (possibly because the former includes the
latter, i.e. for all punishments by the hand of man, if the punishment
cannot be given, the punishment will be taken care of by G-d, and also
because the punishment by the hand of man is more immediate and publicly
visible).  Violating Yom Tov warrants punishment by lashes, which is
less severe than punishment by death.  Thus, the order of holiness is
Shabbat first, then Yom Kippur, and then other Yamim Tovim.  This order
can be seen in the number of aliyas to the Torah on these days (Shabbat
7, Yom Kippur 6, Yom Tov 5).  Purim does not enter into this picture at
all.  Not being a Yom Tov mideorayta (from the Torah), it has no
sanctity.  I think David was confusing the concept of kedusha hayom
(sanctity of the day) with a midrash stating that in the messianic era,
after all other holidays are no longer relevant, Purim and Yom Kippur
will still be relevant. There are other midrashim connecting Purim and
Yom Kippur, based on the similarity of name.  Even though Purim has no
inherent kedusha, it has the status of a Yom Tov Miderabanan (a
Rabbinical festival), and it is a very significant day by virtue of the
special mitzvos to be performed on it.  The fact that Yom Kippur is not
the holiest day of the year does not mean that it is not the most
significant day of the year.  The concepts of holiness and significance
are not necessarily directly connected.  The fact that on Yom Kippur we
elevate ourselves completely above the physical world, and that G-d
grants forgiveness, and that the day has 5 tefilot (services) rather
than the usual 4 for Shabbat and Yom Tov, certainly indicates that it is
the most significant day of the year, but not the holiest day of the
year.  How lucky are we that the holiest day of the year comes every
week.  Incidentally, the greatest holiness of any day possible occurs
when Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat, an event which occurs every few

Chag Sameach, Jerrold Landau

From: <snk@...> (Sam Kamens)
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 10:59:35 EDT
Subject: Re: Shabbat is Holiest Day?

My understanding for this is that there is a tradition that the
holiness of a day is determined by the number of people who are called to
the Torah on that day.

Thus, in order of decreasing holiness (I think I got all of these right):

      Day		     Number of Aliyot
      -----------------      -------------------------------
      Shabbat		     7
      Yom Kippur	     6
      Rosh Hashana (tie)     5
      Shalosh Regalim (tie)  5
      Chol HaMoed (tie)	     4
      Rosh Chodesh (tie)     4
      Weekday,fast day,etc.  3

There are other traditions about relative holiness in which Purim and
Yom Kippur are connected ("Yom Kippurim" is said to be "Yom K'Purim"
-- a day like Purim) which implies that they are equally holy.


[Similar responses from: Shalom Krischer <PGMSRK@...>, 
Neil Parks <aa640@...> Mod.]


From: Ben Berliant <C14BZB@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 9:04:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Succah Problems

	This logic is faulty, because it it based on a false assumption. 
In the days when I had a metal sukkah, I used a 2x4 stud across the top
to support the schach.  This board was clearly NOT kosher shach, because
it would exceed the maximum size permitted.  In another model, I used a
1/2 furring strip (which would be kosher for schach) but I secured it to
the top of the metal frame, so that, in fact, It became part of the
wall, not part of the roof.   In the newer models of pipe and Canvas
sukkas that I have examined, the canvas is designed so that it covers
the topmost pipe, and the schach rests on the canvas, not on the metal.

						BenZion Berliant

From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 10:17:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Succah Problems

I am not sure if Ari Shapiro is correct...
Even if we grant ALL of his assumptions
 -- that the "ma'amid" is, itself considered "S'chach"
 -- that the ma'amid cannot be considered APART from the other s'chach

there may still be no problem.

The majority of S'chach is NOT resting on a "m'kabel Tuma'h"...
The amount of S'chach providing the support is -- in the vast majority
 of cases -- very much a minority.
If that is so, then we have a case of a mixture of Kosher S'chach mixed
  with Pasul S'chach...  Normally, a small amount of Pasul S'chach is
  "batel"  -- nullified -- with regard to the Kosher S'chach... this appears
  to be true even if the Pasul S'chach is "ma'amid" the Kosher S'chach...

It seems that it would only be a major issue if the "support network" was
really extensive.  The sukkot that I have seen either have a few long
beams running across the roof space on which the S'chach rests -- where
such long boards are too "thin" to invalidate the schach  OR there are some 
boards resting right on the "edge" of the wall serving as the platform upon which
the s'chach rests... In this ase, that ma'amid" is not even serving as 

Happy chol Hamoed.


From: Michael Broyde <RELMB@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 09:48:14 EDT
Subject: Re: Succah Problems

One of the writers when discussing a tumah issue as it relates to succah
indicates that Chazon Ish would invalidate all of our sukot because
of the metal frame.  This is, in fact, quite unclear.  A number of
modern poskim (including iggrot moshe) rule that aluminum is not
mekabel tuma, and does not have the halachic status of a metal for tuma
rules.  It is quite possible that Chazon Ish would accept that arguement

From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 11:01:08 IST
Subject: Succah Problems

     Ari Shapiro raises the problem of resting the sekhakh of the sukka
on things that receive impurity, as in the example of the metal frame,
and cites the Talmud (Sukka 21b) and the Ran on the matter.

     In trying to find a solution even for the strict opinion of the
Hazon Ish, I might suggest looking into just what materials receive
impurity (tum'a). As I recall hearing from R. Yosef Qafeh Shelit"a
(author of the new comprehensive commentary on the Rambam's Mishna
Torah), anything that is fixed in a building does not receive tum'a.
So if the metal frame is built into the yard with cement (say), then
it would apparently not receive tum'a, and one could use it for the
sukka even according to the Hazon Ish. Similarly, all the sukkot in
Israel that are made by displacing a sliding roof that rests on a
metal frame and putting the sekhakh on the frame are valid in all
opinions, since the frame is immovable and does not receive tum'a.


Shalom Wallach

From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 14:39:48 +1000
Subject: Succah Problems

No. They are only Schach if after you removed those boards the Succa
would be in a situation of Chamsa Merooba Mitzilsa (the sunlight is more
prevalent than the shade). Therefore, as long as this isn't the case
when if you removed them (eg put enough Schach in the first place),
there isn't a problem.

Dr Isaac Balbin, Department of Computer Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, 


From: Andrea Penkower Rosen <apr@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 15:22:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Wedding Gift Ideas

[I added some of the other suggestions to this list which was the most
comprehensive of the replies received. Mod]

> >From: <slater@...> (Rob Slater)
> Shalom--
> 	A very good friend of mine is getting married (G-d willing) in
> October in London.  She is a friend of mine from Chicago who is
> registered in several stores in Chicago and London.  Unfortunately, I do
> not live anywhere near these stores.  Thus, I am on my own in terms of
> picking out a gift.
> 	I would like to get something "Jewish" but very common items
> like Shabbos candlestick holders and Mezuzah cases are out because
> invariably someone in the Kallah (Bride) or Hazon's (Groom's) family
> will have thought of this.
> 	Does anyone out in Mail-Jewish land have any ideas?  I am
> looking for something that will be special and nice, but at the same
> time functional.  I am looking to spend about $100.

        How about?
1.  A velvet embroidered  Challah cover for shabbat &/or for Pesach     
    depending on price in your locale.
2.  An embroidered pillowcase for covering one's reclining pillow at the 
    Pesach table - or two (one for bride and one for groom), again price 
    dependant. Or one pillowcase and an afikoman bag.
3.  A ceramic menorah for Chanukah.
4.  A sterling silver Challah knife.
5.  A ceramic or crystal apple and honey server.  
6.  A honey dish.
7.  A serving plate for matzoh for Pesach.
[7a. A Sedar Plate - Neil Parks]
8.  An etrog box of wood or ceramic or bronze (i.e., not silver to keep 
    in your price range). [<REB@...>]
9.  A ceramic havdallah set. [<REB@...>]
10. An art haggadah e.g., Arthur Szyk's, the Ashkenazi.
11. A Jewish art book e.g., "The Mishkan", "The Ketubah"
12. A sterling silver yad (pointer for torah reading)
[13. Traveling Candlesticks - <REB@...>]

Hope this is helpful
Shana tova.
Andrea Penkower Rosen


End of Volume 15 Issue 32