Volume 15 Number 61
                       Produced: Sun Oct  9  1:25:40 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Changes in Halachah
         [David Charlap]
Creation; non-Jews & Yom Kippur
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
         [Mark Eisen]
Israeli Esrogim and Heter Mechira
         [Akiva Miller]
Sam Juni's citation of Greek Paradoxes
         [Jules Reichel]
Women Carrying Sefer Torah
         [Andrew Jay Koshner]
Zeno and the Liar
         [Sam Juni]


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 94 11:29:40 EDT
Subject: Re: Changes in Halachah

<turkel@...> (Eli Turkel) writes:
>     However, in reality, Halachah has continuously been affected by
>contemporary society. In medieval Spain more than in Poland but some
>influence at all times. If someone thinks he is not influenced by the
>outside world because he reads only Torah books he is mistaken....

While I agree with this premise, some of your examples are a bit
far-fetched.  Many of the changes you speak of are not because of
foreign cultures but to purely internal events, or due to non-cultural

>1.  The rabbis abolished the Sotah waters and also capital punishment
>    sbecause ociety had changed and murder and adultery became
>    prevelant.

Where is the source that this is the reason?  I've never heard this
before.  The Sotah waters were stopped because they don't work without
the Temple and the Kohanim.  As for capital punishment, only a Bet Din
of 70 (the Sanhedren) can issue a halachic death sentence.  The
Sanhedren hasn't existed for over 1000 years.

Neither the Sotah waters nor capital punishment were abolished - it
became ipossible to implement them, so alternatives were found.

>3. S.A. Orach Chaim 3:11 discusses what material can be used to clean
>   oneself in the bathroom. Again Magen Avraham discusses why these
>   prohibitions are no longer observed.

OK.  What does M.A. say?  Is it because of cultural influences or some
other readon?  I don't consider the existance of a clean house a
"cultural influence."

>5. The law gives preference for a Talmid Chacham who appears in court.
>   The Semah states that today we no longer apply this law (CM 15:1).

Again, does he say why?

>10. EE 1:2 We no longer force a couple to get divorced if they are
>   childless for 10 years and similarly for other laws concerning which
>   shidduch is appropriate (i.e. between a young man and an elderly
>   woman etc.)

When did we ever _force_ a couple to get divorced?  Unheard of!
Avraham and Sarah were married without children for lots more than 10
years!  Tradition teaches us that they observed the Torah.

>    In summary as society changes Halakhah has always changed with

This isn't the conclusion you introduced this message with.  You were
going to prove how foreign culture has always influenced Judaism.  You
then gave examples that merely show that things have changed, but not
that they were due to outside cultures.  (For instance, wearing warm
clothes in winter isn't because of Polish society, it's because you'd
freeze to death if you wore light clothes.)

The fact that things have changed does not mean some outside force
cause the change.

You should have used more clear examples - for instance, parts of the
Siddur have changed over the years because Christian politcal forces
demanded it.  Our entire system of numbering chapters and verses in
the Chumash is based on the Christian numbering scheme.  (Why else do
most weekly readings begin on verses other than 1?  OIbviously, the
numbering scheme was not devised by Torah scholors.)  For that matter,
you can also show how various Hebrew dialects (Ashkenazi vs. Sefardi
being the big ones) are direct applications of the local language's
pronunciation to the Hebrew alphabet.

The examples you presented show merely that practical Halacha has
changed.  The examples I presented show clear evidence of non-Jewish
cultural influence (and not just adapting to a new environment) in our
evreyday practice of Judaism.


From: Arnie Kuzmack <kuzmack@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 22:20:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Creation; non-Jews & Yom Kippur

1) Creation:

David Neustadter <david@...> wrote (in part):

> 	I can't think of any philosophical reason why the creation of
> the heavenly bodies would be stuck in between the creation of plants and
> the creation of animals.  For this reason, I thought that maybe it was
> in that order because that's the way it really happened....

Scientifically, of course, plant life as we now know it cannot exist
without the sun.  I would suggest that the message of the text is on a
totally different level.

I recently heard a lecture by Prof. Jacob Milgrom on the Creation Story
in which he said that the Hebrew words for "sun" and "moon" are the
names of Babylonian gods.  That is why those words do not appear in the
text and they are instead called "the large light" and "the small

Continuing with this theme, perhaps the message was that those "gods"
did not even rate being created before the grass that we trample

2)  Yom Kippur and non-Jews.

Claire Austin (<czca@...>) related a moving experience
concerning a non-Jew and Yom Kippur.  I had a somewhat similar experience
this year. 

A non-Jewish former co-worker with whom I still have occasional
professional contacts, after wishing me a Happy New Year, mentioned that I
had explained to him many years ago what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are
all about.  As a result, he has made it a practice to engage in a personal
ethical and spiritual self-assessment around the time of Yom Kippur. 

Arnie Kuzmack


From: Zomet <zomet@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Oct 1994 13:48:40 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Eruvin

Yeyasher Koach to Binyamin Segal for mounting the soap box and putting 
things into their proper perspective.

If I am not mistaken, once an Eruv is "up" it has a Chazakka and can be 
relied upon on Shabbat, even if you forget to  verify its status before 
Shabbat. If however, something has happened during the week which 
creates a doubt about the status of the Eruv (snow storm, heavy winds, Arab 
neighbors who occasionally cut the wires etc.), the chazakka is 
considered as having been damaged and one must check the status of the Eruv 
before relying on it again.


From: <eisen@...> (Mark Eisen)
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 12:56:02 +0500
Subject: Halachot

I have 2 questions:
   (1) Are women permitted to dance with a SEFER TORAH?
   (2) Are they also allowed to wear Tefillin?
       Is this something new because of "the NEW women's movement"
                 or do they have rights?
    FEMALE READERS ONLY: I am not out to cause you problems.


From: Akiva Miller <75107.146@...>
Date: 05 Oct 94 20:16:24 EDT
Subject: Israeli Esrogim and Heter Mechira

In issue 15:42, Michael Broyde writes:
> Those authorites who rely on the heter mechira rule it completely
>permissible to eat the etrog.

No one claims that the _entire_ Eretz Yisrael is sold for the shmita year, but
that the rabbinate sells many individual plots. He writes further that:
>  Nearly all esrogim in America are Otzar beit din.

An esrog orchard which is shomer shmita to that extent that it sells via
an Otzar Beis Din does not seem like the kind of place that would sell
their land to the Arabs. The conclusion I am drawn to is that "Nearly
all esrogim in America" were grown on Jewish land and that all the
halachos of kedushas shviis fruit apply to them. He is correct that many
poskim allow the eating of, and the ritual use of, esrogim which are not
from an Otzar Beis Din. But I fear many may misinterpret his posting to
mean that we don't need to worry about discarding the edible portions.

Akiva Miller


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 14:33:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Sam Juni's citation of Greek Paradoxes

Sam tells of Zeno's paradox in the form of the 200mph fly which flies
back and forth between the 100mph train and the wall, and never seems to
be crushed. Other versions are that the train never reaches the wall for
two reasons: 1.There are an infinite number of tiny distances between
the train and the wall, or the train keeps going half the distance to
the wall and there is always half left. He resolves the fly issue as a
practical matter, rather than as a mathematical matter, by requiring a
real fly which has some delay in the turn around as he meets the train
and the wall. The crushing, Sam argues occurs during the delay. But, no
delay is required even as a practical matter.  The listener is being
mislead to believe that since there are an infinite number of steps to
the wall, it therefore takes an infinite time to get there.  But the
time to the wall is quite finite: the distance to the wall divided by
the velocity of the train. When the train just touches the wall both the
velocity of the fly and it's direction have no meaning since we can't
have the velocity of a stationary object! The fallacy is in the 200mph
fly, not in its mass. I realize that Sam needs his delay concept in
order to draw an analogy to halachic issues of apparent
simultaneity. But I doubt if he can launch it from these paradoxes.


From: Andrew Jay Koshner <akoshner@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 13:29:51 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Women Carrying Sefer Torah

	On Simchat Torah I began to question the almost universal
practice in orthodox shuls of not allowing the women to hold or dance
with a sefer torah.  In our shul, the men walk through the women's
section with the torahs and the women may kiss them but they may not
hold or dance with a torah.
	It seems clear from the Shulchan Aruch that there is no
prohibition, yet the Rama says there is an minhag that does not permit
it (or many other things) because of Nida.  I don't understand this
since we are all tamie (sp?) [impure] today.  Is this the reason for the
minhag, or is there more to it?  When did it emerge?  Do Sephardim allow
women to hold the torah?  If not, what is the source of their custom?

I'm curious to know what other shuls do and what other people think
about this issue.  Are there poskim that permit women to carry a torah?
If so, who and can you give me a citation?

[You may also want to check out the following old issues:
	Women and Sefer Torah [v4n86]
	Women and Sifrei Torah: [v5n7]
	Women Dancing with a Torah [v4n83]


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 94 22:29:39 EST
Subject: Zeno and the Liar

re: Robert Klapper's (15:41) comments re Zeno's and Epimenides' Paradoxes

    Robert raises the point that the Hallachic paradoxes I cited are
versions of the Liar's paradox rather than Zeno's paradox.  He is
technically correct, but not insofar as the context of the inter-system
translation I use between the physics and hallacha paradigms.  In that
context, the paradox in Hallacha has both elements (Zeno and Liar's),
but my main point concerned Zeno's connection.  I relaize this is
getting quite esoteric, so let me out line my point briefly.

   In my translation of Zeno's basic paradox (how can an infinite set of
concrete distances sum to a finite distance), I used the oscilating fly
and train analogy. The point of contention here is that each condition
(trip of the fly) is a PRErequisite for the next.  Hence we get into
SEQUENTIAL causal links.  The Liar's Paradox, in contrast, has
contingencies which are basically simultaneous (If A is true, then B
is false, etc.), and its solution does not lend itself to sequential
time mapping.  In truth, one cannot set up a Hallachic paradox (of
Chozer Chalilah) using the liar's model, unless one point is the defined
starting point; otherwise the system never starts up. That is why I find
it more useful to use Zeno's paradox to frame a sequential chain which
is problematic in its recursiveness.  By the same token, taking a
mechanistic rather than a positivistic stance will help only for a
sequential setup, while being useless in a simultaneous Liar's-type

   Regarding Robert's application of Zeno to carrying on Shabbat, I
always assumed that Ben Azai's opinion that a walker is stationary is
based on the position that each footstep is considered a rest-stop. I
also assumed that R. Akiva's relating flying objects to their
coordinates on the ground relates only to mapping strategies, but not to
a scene of concatenating motion.


End of Volume 15 Issue 61