Volume 15 Number 71
                       Produced: Thu Oct 13  6:48:35 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Choice and Olam Haba'
         [Shlomo Engelson]
Electricity on Shabbat
         [Joe Abeles]
Judaism and Vegetarianism
         [Richard Schwartz]
Talmudic View of Motion Vectors
         [Sam Juni]
Torah and the Disabled
         [Shaul Wallach]
Tourism FROM Israel
         [Ira Hammerman]


From: <engelson@...> (Shlomo Engelson)
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 1994 17:24:30 +0300
Subject: Choice and Olam Haba'

>From: Benjamin Boaz Berlin <bberlin@...>
>  Indeed, by extensive dating, we not only open the door for the
>  Yezer HoRah, but we rely on a crutch which will not be there in the
>  future.  If this world in the antechamber to the next, then we delude
>  ourselves into thinking that we have choice.  Our share in the Olam
>  HaBah is mandated By the one above, as is our ultimate partner.  Choice
>  is not an option.  We do not have an opportunity to shop around.
>  Instead we are happy if, we are happy with our portion.  Learning to be
>  grateful for that which we have is a trait that we should learn while
>  still in the antechamber.

But how can we learn if we have no choice in our actions?  Or,
alternatively, are you saying we have choice in our actions, but they
have no effect on the final outcome?  Either of these two
interpretations of what you said (the only ones I can see) seem
contrary both to my experience, and to the concept of Bechira (choice)
as enunciated by Chaza"l.  Certainly, we must have true choice for
reward and punishment to make sense, and hence, we have influence on
our Olam Haba'.  In the Nefesh HaChayim, R. Chayim Volozhiner
emphasises again and again the tremendous effects our actions have,
not only in this world, but in all higher and lower worlds.  It is
indeed an awesome responsibility to be a human being, with the power
to join with G-d in the creation of the world, or R"L, to destroy it.



From: Joe Abeles <joe_abeles@...>
Date: 7 Oct 1994 16:54:37 U
Subject: Electricity on Shabbat

A couple of points on this subject:

First of all, refrigerator switches.  Several people have argued that
disconnecting the bulb means that the electrical circuit is not
operative.  For practical purposes, I agree with their analyses.
However, I must point out that there is a tiny capacitance between the
two wires leading to the bulb.  When activating the switch, charge
*will* flow into these wires and remain there for one AC cycle during
which time a tiny amount of it will be dissipated through a huge
"parasitic" resistance.  So a minute additional dissipation of power
carried by the same circuit that otherwise powers the light bulb will
occur while the refrigerator door is open and will cease when the door
is closed.  From a Jewish point of view one must determine what is the
"bitul v'shishim" limit on electrical power dissipation.  To my
knowledge, this has never been adequately done.

Second, static electricity.  There is significant build-up of charge by
static electricity when dissimilar objects rub against each other.  In
fact, there are static electricity generators which can and have been
built.  In sum, static electricity itself is in no way different from
the AC power which is delivered to your home and in fact can be
converted to "flowing electricity" which could be used to power a
lightbulb, etc.  The only difference is in the method of generation.  So
the question arises, is it asur to rub objects against each other on
Shabbos for otherwise-Shabbos-approved activities (such as wiping the
table) because of the concomitant generation of electricity?

--Joe Abeles


From: Richard Schwartz <RHSSI@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Oct 94 13:24:27 EDT
Subject: Judaism and Vegetarianism

     I wish to expand on my previous remarks on Judaism and
vegetarianism, and, in the process, reply to some who responded to them.
The issue of health will be considered in this posting.  As is well
known, the Torah mandates that we maintain our health (Deut. 4:9 and
4:15).  In Horeb, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch states, "You may not in
any way weaken your health or shorten your life.  Only if the body is
healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's
activity. . . . Therefore you should avoid anything which might possibly
injure your health. . . . And the law asks you to be even more
circumspect in avoiding danger to life than in the avoidance of other
     In view of this, I wonder why there isn't greater concern in the Jewish
community about the abundant and increasing information about connections
between animal-based diets and many diseases.  Here are just a few examples:
1. When Japanese people move to the United States and adopt the typical
American high-fat, high cholesterol diet, their rate of getting several
degenerative diseases increases sharply. (This would seem to indicate
that diet is far more important than heredity in these cases.)
2. Seventh Day Adventists have lower rates of disease than other Americans, and
many of them are vegetarians and have other positive health habits.
3. Many studies have shown that countries where meat consumption is high have
high mortality rates from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other degenerative
4. Dr. Dean Ornish completed a controlled study several years ago that showed
that a very low-fat diet, almost completely free from   animal products, along
with exercise, and stress relaxation could reverse severe heart problems.  The
control group  participants, applying the standard medical recommendations (30%
fat, shifting from beef to chicken and fish, moderate exercise, etc.) got worse
 in most cases, and at best remained about the same.
     What about the shift to a more moderate consumption of animal products
that some recent postings have advocated.  This would certainly be a step
forward, and hopefully at least this much will be strongly advocated by rabbis
and medical professionals.  But, who knows what a safe level is?  Nathan
Pritikin has stated that if the enemies of the Jewish people had created
the Jewish diet, it could hardly be worse than our present diet.  Meanwhile,
many Jewish communities are experiencing very high rates of many degenerative
    Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski recently had an article, "Thou Shalt Not Smoke"
in a Jewish publication. I doubt if anyone will take the opposite position, or
argue for moderation with regard to smoking.  Yet, the consumption of meat is
arguably worse for human health than smoking.  It certainly is related to more
diseases.  And livestock agriculture has far worse effects than smoking, with
regard to pollution, the wasteful use of water, energy, and other resources,
world hunger, and our treatment of animals.
     Could it be that the fact that most concerned Jews do not smoke but the
vast majority do eat meat be influencing our responses to these issues?


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Sat, 08 Oct 94 22:50:23 EST
Subject: Talmudic View of Motion Vectors

I just came across an interesting analysis of a Talmudic text concerning
vector resolution of force as it pertains to direct vs. indirect action.
Let me first introduce some basic Hallachos:

        If one removes a wall restraining a heap of stones and triggers
        an avalanche, death caused by the first stones in the avalanche
        are deemed to be caused "directly" by the culprit. However, the
        remainder of the avalanche is considered indirect. (Clearly this
        differential is not easily reconcilable with mechanics theory,
        but perhaps the "directness" criteria include aspects of prox-
        imity or direct contact with the first rocks.) It follows
        from the first clause that if one is holding a rock high above
        a person and then releases (not throws) it, the downward fall
        is considered directly caused as well.

In the Summer 1994 issue of INTERCOM (an AOJS publication) Rabbi Nahum
Spirn refers to Sanhedrin (77b-78a) which states (paraphrased):

      If one throws a rock upwards and it goes to one side and
      kills someone, he is culpable, because the person was killed
      by his force. Question: If indeed the rock is traveling be-
      cause of his force, let it travel upward, and if it is not
      traveling because of his force, let it travel downward?
      Conclusion: The rock travels because of a weak force.

Rabbi Spirn cites the Yad Rammah commentary (a Rishon) that the rock was
not thrown vertically upwards, but at an angle. Rabbi Spirn then inter-
prets the text as follows: The "strong force" implied in the Talmud
would refer to the "main" (intended?) vector which is vertical, while
the "weak force" refers to the horizontal vector. If there were no hori-
zontal component and the rock killed on its way down, the culprit would
not be liable since his force was totally spent when the rock reached the
zenith, and the resulting downward acceleration/force would be considered
indirect. The question and conclusion of the Talmud is then a delineation
of the following: The direct strong (vertical) vector is clearly absent
for, if it was not -- let it continue to travel upward. If we only have
the indirect force of gravity, why would it not travel purely downward
with no horizontal displacement? Conclusion: There is a "weak" horizon-
tal component here of "direct force" which is present in addition to the
indirect force of gravity.

Rabbi Spirn does not complete the reasoning chain here, as his discussion
focuses more on the issue of "fair warning" (Hasrahah). I understand him
to imply that the death actually ocurred due to the horizontal force. It
is my understanding, however, that the text does not imply this. Rather,
the death is attributable mainly to gravity, but the culprit is liable
since the current force includes a (horizontal) component which is
directly attributable to him. I assume such a contribution brings the
total category of the force more in line with the effects of the first
rocks in the avalanche than with those of the latter rocks.

It is noteworthy that the Yad Ramah's interpretation of the text is not
the way the standard lamdan (unfamiliar with vector resolution) learns
it. A reading of Rashi's commentary supports  the alternate interpre-
tation which defies our elementary knowledge of physics/motion laws,
as follows:

The person threw the rock directly upward, but when it began to descend
it acquired a horizontal component. The Talmud deduces that this vector
must derive from a "weak" derivative  of the original vertical vector,
based on the Question/Conclusion sequence.

I just ran the last idea by my wife.  She suggested that the method to
throw a rock which will travel straight and then curve may involve
introducing a spin, much as pitchers do in baseball.  I don't know
enough about curve balls in pitching.  Are there some fans out there who
would know what happens then?  Does the ball actually change directions
in mid-flight? Is is some interaction between the horizontal vector and
gravity? What happens when you throw a curve ball (or rock) vertically


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 94 22:23:10 IST
Subject: Torah and the Disabled

     Joel Goldberg writes:

>And frankly, if one is looking for the influence of an outside ethic on
>halacha then one need look no further than the disabled. All the
>accomodations one can find in Jewish settings were first implemented in
>non-Jewish settings. I doubt that anyone can find an example of a Rav
>who derived a need for access from the torah, as opposed to those who
>have permitted access-providing leneniencies when confronted with the
>demand for them.

     I find it hard to understand you here. By "outside ethic" here,
do you have in mind the idea that a "need for access" is a legitimate
right that should be provided to the disabled? What "accomodations"
and "access-providing leniencies" do you have in mind? And aren't the
accomodations dependent on the availability of technology? Surely
Boro Park and Mea She`arim are not the most technologically advanced
places in the world. I would be indebted for a concrete example that
illustrates the "influence of an outside ethic on halacha" as you say.

     While I am unfamiliar with the attitude of halacha towards the
disabled - save for the Mishna in Shabbat (6:8) which has both
stringencies and leniencies - I would like to stress that, in general,
Jewry has always excelled in caring for its poor and the ill far
better than the surrounding cultures. Just look, for example, at the
number of Jewish doctors in any country. Or at the proliferation
of free loan societies and organizations like Hatzala, Ezer Mizion,
Ezra Lamarpe, Yad Sara, and so on. I'm not talking about the level of
the technology, but rather about the importance of providing social
services, like Gemilat Hasadim (acts of kindness), Biqqur Holim
(visiting the ill), etc. that are recognized as great mizwot in our




From: ELTA%<ILNCRD@...> (Ira Hammerman)
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 94 23:33 IST
Subject: Tourism FROM Israel

As I understand the halacha, one is not permitted to travel from Israel
except for very specific important reasons. I understand that it is
probably permitted to travel from Israel for business or professional
reasons, for medical reasons, to honor ones parents, to acquire an
education that is not available in Israel and to find a spouse if for
some strange reason one can't find a suitable one in Israel. But what
about pure TOURISM?
	I don't see how a ski trip to Switzerland, a safari in Kenya or
mountain climbing in Nepal or going to see the shows in London can be
justified. I would like to hear peoples's reactions.
	Now that travel to some of Israel's neighbors is possible, would
it be permitted to travel to areas promised to the Jews in the Torah,
within the larger boundaries presented there. If not would tourism to
Ever Hayarden (trans-Jordan) within the area conquered by Moses and
Joshua be permitted?

Ira Hammerman <ELTA%<ILNCRD@...>


End of Volume 15 Issue 71