Volume 15 Number 95
                       Produced: Fri Oct 21  2:22:51 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum Views of BT Pre-Frum Lifestyles
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Halloween (2)
         [Elisheva Schwartz, Gayle Statman]
Job Discrimination
         [Adina Sherer]
Ma'aser and Retirement Planning
         [Cherly Hall]
Religion and Science
         [Daniel N Weber]
Sex education.
         [Sam S. Lightstone]
Shabbat and Shofar/Lulav
         [Arthur Roth]


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 94 12:06:54 EDT
Subject: Re: Frum Views of BT Pre-Frum Lifestyles

> >From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
> I have definitely also encountered this phenomenon: when I was living in
> Israel for the first time (at the age of 24), I got fixed up for Shabbat
> by a guy who came to our ulpan to try to get people to experience a frum
> Shabbat. I was placed with a family originally from the States. During
> dinner I said very little because someone with absolutely no background
> was also there and they concentrated mainly on him once they saw I
> pretty much knew my way around Shabbat and meal-time activities.
> After dinner, he left and my host began a conversation with me by saying
> "Well, I understand you're from the U.S. and not from a religious
> background. I thought I should let you know that you shouldn't marry a
> Cohen." I was surprised and responded that I was neither divorced nor
> dead so why was I ineligible? He responded, "I assume at your age you've
> slept with non-Jewish men and that makes you ineligible." This without
> knowing *anything* about my background, my upbringing, anything!

The point of view taken by the host needs no additional comment.  I do
wish to ask the general readership for both the range of practical
views and the justifications for the topic of what renders a woman
ineligible to marry a kohein.  The OU ketubah project questionaire has
a question off to the side about eligibility to marry a kohein.  After
perusing the shulkan aruch, I found the bulk of opinion expressed by
the mechabeir and commentaries there was that only women who slept
with someone they are forbidden to marry (possibly only with a threat
of karet or worse) are forbidden to a kohein.  Even if they didn't
keep track, as long as most of the men were not forbidden to her to
marry, she is still eligible for a kohein.  While it is not a
practical issue for me, it is for some of my friends, so I am curious
about the practical approaches taken by various organizations and
communities.  It is certainly one area where one cannot be machmir
without affecting others.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: Elisheva Schwartz <es63@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 9:22:36 EDT
Subject: Re: Halloween

With all respect to Cheryl, Halloween is  MOST CERTAINLY a religious
holiday--it is the eve of All Saints Day.  Following the reasoning that
it is not viewed as religious leaves us with the same question on
Easter, St. Valentine's Day, etc.  So where do you draw the line?  I,
personally, find it a little offensive to reduce a religious holiday
(anyone's) to this level.  In this regard, I sincerely hope that you
don't really think that Purim is also a secular holiday--or that it has
anything to do with Halloween.  

On the other hand, I know religious people who live in certain areas in
New York, who DO give out candy--because, in previous years, homes that
haven't had the treats out _have _ been vandalized.  (Sounds like Long
Beach goyim are better behaved!)

So, le-ma'ase, I think that each family has to decide how to handle
this.  Observing Halloween ourselves is (I certainly hope!) out of the
question--but, if not handing out candy with cause monetary loss or
danger, it seems to me that you certainly can.


From: <gayle_statman@...> (Gayle Statman)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 09:37:00 EST
Subject: Halloween

Gena Rotstein wrote:

>everyone celebrated Halloween, not out of religious beliefs but 
>because the holiday has become so secularized that it doesn't really 
>hold the original connotation that it once held.

Just wondering--how do you all feel about celebrating Christmas?  Do you
attend Christmas parties?  Exchange Christmas cards/gifts with
non-Jewish friends?

I've been told by Christian friends that a Christmas tree is a symbol of
peace, with no religious ties at all.  And, in general, the holiday has
become quite secularized, with an emphasis on getting gifts and, to a
lesser extent, giving to others (friends, family, the needy).  None of
that has much to do with the original religious basis of the holiday.

And, to expand the subject, do you attend St. Patrick's Day
celebrations?  Exchange gifts/cards on St. Valentine's Day?


From: <adina@...> (Adina Sherer)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 8:54:11 IDT
Subject: Job Discrimination

I don't have any suggestions for the incident with Motorola, but
I did want to add my own experience.  I once worked somewhere for a total of
one week.  They hired me knowing that I was Orthodox and needed Jewish
Holidays off and Sabbath and all that, and Ithink that if I'd started in
the summer it might have worked.  But I started in the winter, and this was
a very time-conscious place, where they made you keep track of every minute you
were working and all that. ( I probably wouldn't have been happy there
in the long run.)  And it was SUCH a hassle to work out leaving early on
Friday, and How to make up the time, which Had to be only Early friday morning
because they couldn't handle something like me working later on thursday
and applying the hours to friday...  So I just quit!  It's the details that
can get you.



From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cherly Hall)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 06:47:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ma'aser and Retirement Planning

Starting a new thread, it's that time of year when my employer presents the
benefit plan for the following fiscal year, January 1995.  One must make
their Benefit Selection before the end of the month.  As is becoming more
common in large companies ours is the "cafeteria" style of benefits, where
one can opt in or out of various contributory benefits. Some items such
as additional life insurance requires a post-tax payroll withdrawal, others
such as one's health insurance contribution is paid with pre-tax dollars
based on Fed Regs. One has an option to also set aside a pre-tax dollar
amount a year to pay out of pocket medical expenses, child care or elder
care. Of course the MAJOR decision is the participation in the 401k deferred
compensation plan, which is one's retirement. If you don't contribute
there's only Soc Sec, there is no defined benefit pension plan. 

When one assess their income for purposes of ma'aser what does one include? I
know what I have done. Taxes, FICA and 401k deferred compensation have been
excluded from my calculation on the premise I have not received these funds,
and in the case of FICA and the 401k, these will be distributed in the
future at which time the ma'aser would be calculated on the distibution
during a year including the (BZH) increase growth from the investment. For
me TAXES seem non-existant in a practical sense, and calculating with that
included almost seems like double jeopardy. I'd almost be willing to make a
case that it was *part* of the ma'aser, but I'm not emotionally convinced of
that. A very significant part of my earnings go to taxes to support the
social programs Americans have imposed on themselves.

>From my point of view the other items are included in the calculation,
because it is effectively only saving the writing of the check. One is
paying by payroll withdrawal, sometimes with a tax benefit, a bill like any
other. In that way it become a regular receipt of income. I hope to retire
early and B'ZH make a retirement aliyah, and have been planning to sock a
lot of current income into retirement vehicles. 

Comments? Should one even plan? I believe one should but I've read thought
provoking comments on bitachon which would seem to consider otherwise.  The
sections on Sustenance and Faith in Tehillim Treasury (Mesorah Publications
Ltd 1993, R. Avrohom Chaim Feuer) are an example.  I also know a number of
young BT frum couples who seem to just go from day to day, without thinking
financial things through. They are making it... but because their parents
who did save, plan etc are contibuting substantially to their sustenance.

This has gone too long, but if during the busy workday, Benefit Selection can
lead one to Torah thoughts....

Cheryl Hall
Long Beach CA USA


From: Daniel N Weber <dweber@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 09:33:16 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Religion and Science

A fascinating dialogue has begun regarding the issues of science and 
religion.  Notice that I do say _and_ not _vs._.  I make this distinction 
for a fundamental reason.  In the world of science (in which I find 
myself professionally) we ask questions of "how", "where", "when", 
"what".  In so doing we find basic truths by which the universe 
organizes itself, be they concepts of general relativity, gravity or 
wildlife population dynamics.  Using these concepts, we are able to both 
understand our world and solve issues of concern to mankind.  Note that 
the one question that is not answered by science is "why", as in why does 
creation exit, why do electrons spin and cause negative charges, why do 
covalent bonds exist.  We know that these things occur, but only through 
religion do gain insight as to why HaShem would create the physical word 
in this way.  It is not science vs. religion, i.e. competing theories 
that explain the universe, but, as Rambam understood,  science and 
religion, i.e. a more complete view of the inner workings and ultimate 
purpose of life.

It is for this reason that the debate over the physical and biological 
evolution of earth vs. creationism takes us away from what each has to 
offer us.  To debate the eternal consistency of radioactive decay rates 
is to call into question all other physical laws that govern the smooth 
operation of our universe.  To so deny the universality and applicability 
of physical laws is to call into question the beauty of order with which 
HaShem imbued His creation.  The Midrash notes that even what we human 
call "miracles" were created at the beginning of time.  

Science is, however, amoral (not immoral, although its uses can be), i.e. 
it does not give purpose to creation, it only explains it.  We, as Jews, 
believe that life is not an accident, that it has purpose.  Thus, we ask 
"why", e.g. why are we here?  That is answered beautifully in the very 
first chapters of Torah--to be co-creators with HaShem, to preserve His 
creation (the ecologist in me comes out), to be responsible to each other 
(we _are_ our brothers keeper), to unite all mankind in a spirit of 
brotherhood, to advance HaShem's name in the world through Kiddush 
HaShem, to prevent Chillul HaShem.  We do not, as religious Jews, need to 
turn science on its head with convoluted reasoning to justify the Torah.  
The Torah is our cultural, historical and moral guidepost.  It is eternal 
and its laws are just.  Science merely fills in the holes to help us to 
more fully understand and, more importantly, appreciate and protect the 
investment G-d has made in us.

Dan Weber


From: <light@...> (Sam S. Lightstone)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 10:48:20 EDT
Subject: Sex education.

On this subject, it should be noted that the Chassam Sofer, Rabbi Moses
Sofer, who was one of the foremost rabbis of the 19th century, who was
the major leader in opposition to the formation of Reform Judaism, who
founded one of the greatest yeshivas in Europe, and who is said to have
leaned through all of Talmud Bavli some forty something times, is said
to have taught sex education in his Yeshiva. Apparently with graphic
model to boot.

Rabbi Sofer died from an ailment of the urinary track. On his death bed
he is claimed to have explained that the reason he was stricken with
this particular disease was because he had not done all that he could
have to promote proper sexual relations within his community. If sex
education wasn't enough for the Chassam Sofer, then today's efforts by
most frum educational organizations would seem to fall very very short.

Sam S. Lightstone

(If anyone is interested, I can supply the source.)


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 10:02:47 -0500
Subject: Shabbat and Shofar/Lulav

> something. And those same people understand that when the holiday falls
> on Shabbos, every Jew in the world is denied the privelege of hearing
> the Shofar, or of shaking the Lulav, because once upon a time, someone
> carried it to shul where there was no eruv. And they understand that we

    The above quote is from Akiva Miller (MJ 15:84).  I'd like to take
issue with a minor aspect of this quote that has no connection whatever
to the main subject of Akiva's posting (which was women and the
    The rabbinic edicts that shofar and lulav not be used on Shabbat had
nothing whatever to do with an eruv.  If so, these items would have been
permitted in communities with an eruv.  The general purpose of rabbinic
laws is to build fences around TORAH laws, not around YET OTHER RABBINIC
laws.  The shofar and lulav were prohibited on Shabbat to prevent their
being carried in a r'shut harabim d'oraita (true public domain in the
Torah sense), which would be a TORAH violation of Shabbat.  But in such
an area, an eruv has no validity anyway.  Carrying in an area where an
eruv could potentially be effective to permit carrying but does not
happen to exist is "only" a RABBINIC violation of Shabbat.  Though such
violations are by no means trivial, the rabbis would never have told us
to forego a TORAH commandment like shofar or lulav in order to build a
fence around a "merely" rabbinic violation of Shabbat.  Indeed, I'm not
even sure that they would have had the authority to do so even if they
had wanted to.  Hundreds of years ago, one of the acharonim wrote that
perhaps shofar and lulav should be reinstituted on Shabbat since there
are so few areas remaining that are truly r'shut harabim d'oraita.
(Sorry, I don't remember the source.  I read it quite a number of years
ago and have since forgotten which acharon it came from.)  Obviously,
this suggestion was not accepted.
    All the above leads to an interesting hypothetical question.
Suppose there had NOT been a rabbinic edict about shofar, and suppose
the shofar had been mistakenly left on Shabbat in a home from which it
could be carried to shul without passing through a r'shut harabim
d'oraita.  Would it have been prohibited, permissible but not necessary,
or required to carry it to shul?  On a more abstract level, is it
prohibited, permissible, or required to violate a negative RABBINIC
commandment if this is necessary in order to fulfill a positive TORAH
commandment?  Sounds like the kind of thing I must have learned at some
time or other, but if I did, I have no recollection of it.


End of Volume 15 Issue 95