Volume 15 Number 33
                       Produced: Sun Sep 25  0:32:27 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Doctors Leniency on Shabbos
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Doctors+ Shabbos 15 #25 Digest
         [Steve Roth]
Leap seconds and the molad
         [Mike Gerver]
Psalm Recited Upon Returning Sefer Torah to the Aron
         [Arthur Roth]


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 94 17:05:53 EDT
Subject: Doctors Leniency on Shabbos

> From: <davidp@...> (David Phillips)
> 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:

I must be missing something.  Are you claiming that Jews should not be
doctors, because:

	- being a doctor involves chillul shabat in order to save 
		life and/or limb
	- non-Jews can do this, so Jews should concentrate on the important
		business of keeping shabat, and not waste their time saving

Perhaps the issue revolve around the relationship of the shmirat mitzvot and
participation in the world.  Do we keep the mitzvot in order to participate
in the world in accord to God's will, or do we avoid participating in the
world in order to keep the mitzvot?  

IMHO, the first option is keeping the mitzvot "mei'ahava," out of love for
God and the world he put us in, and the second is "mi'yirah," out of fear
of stepping out of line and not meriting the reward promised to those
who keep the mitzvot.

> 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.

Perhaps we can judge this doctor l'chaf zechut and consider that there
may be other factors in his decision.

>   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.)

What will Kohanim and commoners like me gain if Kohanim are restricted
these days from certain professions as well as from divorced women?

> 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.

There seems to be grounds to judge someone favorably here.  After all,
saving babies' life and limb is a mitzvah, and not everyone can do it.
And perhaps his being there rather than someone else will result in
a number of children being saved over the course of time.

> 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?  

I agree that there is more that can be doing about Shabat.  For myself,
I would sooner see some emphasis on what can and is done to celebrate
Shabat, rather than on what may or may not be done on Shabat.  I would
like to see more families and friends gather together to celebrate Shabat,
and to use the day well.

> 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! 

And when did you get a degree in foreknowledge, that you can say that 
saving any particular life will never depend on his/her being a doctor?
Perhaps hundreds of lives will depend on it, either from the some advance
in medicine that comes from work done by that individual, or from some
insight, or even from that person being in the right place at the right
time.  Far be it from me to tell God how to run His world.
> Is anyone else bothered by this?  

I am very bothered by what seem to me to be the assumptions of this
posting.  I will agree with the poster, though, that being a doctor out
of love of money does bother bother me, both on Shabat and on weekdays.
However, I will not presume to know what is truly in someone's heart.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: <rot8@...> (Steve Roth)
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 1994 00:57:19 +0000
Subject: Doctors+ Shabbos 15 #25 Digest

David Phillips writes:
"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.)"

Some of this is true. In fact, I was very bothered by some of the same
issues when I was in medical school. Hearing guys with yarmulkas geting
beeped in shul was sufficient motivation to get me to not want to do
that myself. Hashem was good to me. During med school and then into
residency, I always managed B'H to arrange not to have to work on
Shabbos or Yom Tov, and to be able to get out in time Erev Shabbos
too. I definitely had to be more flexible in my scheduling, and I took
verbal and sometimes more subtle abuse from superiors and others, but it
was worth it. That was about 10-15 years ago. Today I'm part of a large
academic hospital anesthesia group, so arranging not to be there on
Shabbos has not been a big deal.

In many instances, at least during *training*, it is possible to avoid
the whole issue by just arranging to not be in the hospital on
Shabbos. I know about the heterim, put out by some very well known
rabbonim, that one must get the "best training even at the price of
Shabbos desecration." IMHO, that is becoming increasingly less true
today. It is well known that changes in the specialty choices of medical
students and other economic forces in health care today have made
certain specialties and residency programs less competitive these
days. That means a greater chance a resident applicant will find the
program directors willing to let them have Shabbos off. (It requires
flexibility, tact, usually getting away from NY, and siyata
dishmaya). For example, 12 years ago when applying for residency, I was
laughed at when I asked to be shomer shabbos at a large, very well
known, respected internal medicine residency program. Today, that
program is desperate to give shomer shabbos to medical students that
want it, just to attract qualified applicants. At our own residency
program in anesthesia at Univ of Chicago, this year we have our first
shomer shabbos resident. No big deal to work it out. (Not to boast or
anything, but we think-we're biased- it's one of the top 10 in the
country). Similarly, I know of many doctors (a lot are close friends)
who trained in top residencies in different specialties, who never
worked one instant on Shabbos. So I think that heter may not always be
valid. Of course, one must present the options to his posek. His reply,
in turn, is critically dependent upon how the facts are presented to
him. David is right- if a person wants to not be mechalal shabbos as a
physician, it is possible, but it does take sacrifices, no doubt about

As for physicians in practice, finding positions is becoming extremely
difficult. I think David should be careful to be dan l'kaf z'chus- give
the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there were no other positions
available, or perhaps the spouse did not want to leave the large urban
area (usually NY!), or numerous other reasons. There could be many
reasons why the doctor chose to put himself in that position, even in
the first example he cites of the more lucrative practice with more
Shabbos calls. In any case, we must assume the person has a valid heter
for his actions. Again, I know of numerous examples of people who did
just the opposite- took less lucrative and prestigious jobs, just not to
have to work on Shabbos.

In questioning the "moral heter" of going into medicine, David has gone
too far. How does he know that "saving any particular life will never
depend on his/her being a doctor!" We don't know Hashem's plans in this
world. If the physician either opts to not work on Shabbos, or to have
valid heterim for doing so, there is no reason to condemn this career

Steve Roth, MD
Anesthesia and Crit Care
Univ of Chicago


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 1994 3:52:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Leap seconds and the molad

Eric Mack asks, in v15n23, whether "leap seconds" are taken into account
in calculating the time of the molad, i.e. the mean time of the new
moon, which is used to determine the day on which Rosh Hashanah falls
each year (and hence the rest of the Hebrew calendar).

At first glance, the question makes no sense. Leap seconds are used to
keep solar time (defined by the rotation of the earth) in line with
atomic clock time, and are necessary because the earth's rotation rate
is gradually slowing down, due to tidal drag from the moon and sun.  For
the last few decades, since atomic clocks have become more accurate
timekeepers than the earth's rotation, units of time have been defined
in terms of atomic clock time, for secular purposes. The molad, however,
is still defined in terms of solar time, so it would make no sense to
adjust the molad everytime a leap second is added.

On another level, though, the question does make sense. The purpose of
the molad is to keep the Hebrew months in sync with the phases of the
moon. The mean time between new moons, called the synodic month, is,
like atomic clock time, much more constant than the rotation period of
the earth. So it would make sense to keep adjusting the molad to keep
the Hebrew months from drifting out of phase with the moon.

This is not done, however. The fixed Hebrew calendar established by
Hillel Sheni assumes that the synodic month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44
minutes, and 1 chelek (1/18 of a minute, or 3 1/3 seconds), a value
obtained by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus. He calculated it using
lunar eclipse data taken over several centuries, going back to the
Babylonians, and it is extremely accurate for the period, about 2000
years ago, when the data was taken. Since then, due to the slowing down
of the earth's rotation, the length of the synodic month in terms of
solar days has decreased to 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8
seconds. (See W. H. Feldman, Rabbinic Mathematics and Astronomy, third
edition, Hermon Press, 1978, p. 136)

The cumulative drift in the molad relative to the phases of the moon,
since the time of Hillel Sheni, has been about an hour and a half.  The
main reason that Hillel Sheni did not provide for "leap chelakim" in the
calendar is that he probably did not know that the earth's rotation rate
is slowing down. Using only lunar eclipse data, and lacking accurate
clocks, it would take a few thousand years to notice this effect, while
the data used by Hipparchus covered only a few hundred years.

Even if he did know about this effect, Hillel Sheni probably would not
have taken it into account in establishing the fixed calendar, since it
would take about 8000 years before Rosh Chodesh was off by a full day,
and he did not expect the calendar to be used for such a long time.  The
value he used for the number of synodic months in a tropic year (i.e.
from one vernal equinox to the next) is 235/19, which is off by about 1
day in 200 years, or more than a month after 8000 years. This will
result in Pesach coming out in May or early June, which is arguably a
worse problem than Rosh Chodesh being off by one day. The Rambam, who
was aware of that problem, even if he was not aware of the slowing down
of the earth's rotation, said that it didn't matter because the Moshiach
will come long before that, after which we can go back to having the
calendar regulated by the Sanhedrin. May it happen bimehera biyameinu.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 11:34:21 -0500
Subject: Psalm Recited Upon Returning Sefer Torah to the Aron

    Anybody know why we say "Mizmor l'David" (ML) only during schacharit
on Shabbat and "l'David Mizmor" (LM) on all other occasions (Shabbat
mincha and any weekday including a weekday Yom Tov)?
    Note that the above question is completely independent of the
relevance (or lack thereof) of either ML or LM to the act of
transporting a Sefer Torah.  Indeed, a friend of mine has looked into
content/purpose/historical origin of these two psalms.  Based on what he
found (details omitted due to time constraints), LM is clearly relevant,
while the relevance of ML is not at all apparent.  I'd of course also be
interested in hearing anyone's insights regarding relevance, but I
emphasize that my main question is about the distinction in this respect
between schacharit for Shabbat and all other occasions.  It is clear
that LM can't contain anything inappropriate for Shabbat, as such an
explanation would also preclude its being said during Shabbat mincha.


End of Volume 15 Issue 33