Volume 15 Number 96
                       Produced: Sun Oct 23  0:00:00 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jaymi K. Fermaglich]
Bus Incident
         [Steve Wildstrom]
Creation and Science
         [Seth Gordon]
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (zt"l)
         [Art Werschulz]
Religion and Science
         [Jonathan Katz]
Repeating Words
         [Jonathan Katz]
Shamaim, Rakia and Mayim
         [David Steinberg]
The morality of praising mechanical door locks
         [Jules Reichel]


From: Jaymi K. Fermaglich <ferjayk@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 16:01:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Anencephaly 

	My name is Jaymi Fermaglich, and I am a senior at Yale
University.  I am writing my senior essay on a topic in Jewish
bioethics, Specifically, I am exploring the Jewish ethical perspective
of using anencephalic infants as organ donors.  The issues that I am
focusing on at this early stage are:

1) the definition of moral personhood in Judaism (possibly distinct from 
the definition of who is considered biologically a human being)
2) the acceptibility of treating one person (?) for someone else's good 
(i.e. is it okay to hasten death of an anencephalic in order to use its 
organs to save the lives of others)
3) organ transplantation and Jewish law
4) treatment of the dying

If you can suggest readings, be a personal source (you will, of course,
be appropriately credited), or know of someone who can, I would be
greatly appreciative.  Any help you can provide would be welcome.  Thank
you very much for your time.

Sincerely yours,
Jaymi Fermaglich
(203) 436-0901


From: Steve Wildstrom <swild@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 10:06:14 EST
Subject: Re: Bus Incident

     In MJ15:92, Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...> writes:

>To take the whole thing one (absurd) step further, if American law
>really does not allow the bus company to have separate seating (since
>it's public), then I suppose a public building can not have separate
>restrooms and that a public gym cannot have separate locker rooms.
>What's the difference?

Secular law, like halakhah, avoids the trap of the reductio ad
absurdum. Public accomodations law provides for "separate but equal"
facilities where bona fide requirements can be demonstrated, eg,
bathrooms or locker rooms. Similarly, neither Title VII or the Civil
Rights Act nor the Americans With Disabilities Act require a fire
department to hire a paralyzed fireman or a kosher wine company to hire
a non-Jew to handle grapes (though the Justice Dept. might take some
convincing on that one.)

      Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...> writes:
>I don't think you can judge one issue from another - in the relatively 
>recent "yarmulke case," the U.S. Army argued that if they were permitting 
>kipot today, they would be permitting Saffron robes tomorrow.  As I 
>recall, we won that one... they had to show that _this_ case was a 

Actually, the Air Force won the "yarmulke case" in the Supreme Court but 
the decision was reversed by passage of the Religious Rights Restoration 


From: <sethg@...> (Seth Gordon)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 94 19:01:41 EDT
Subject: Re: Creation and Science

/  Many apparent contradictions can be explained by the mabool
/ (deluge).

Before Darwin, geologists and paleontologists tried to explain the
geologic and fossil record known to them by hypothesizing that many of
its features were due to a Flood.  However, there was too much
geologic evidence against this theory, and it was abandoned.
Here is a quote from Adam Sedgwick's 1831 presidential address to
the Geological Society:

    Having been myself a believer, and, to the best of my power, a
    propagator of what I now regard as a philosophic heresy ... I think it
    right, as one of my last acts before I quit this Chair, thus publicly
    to read my recantation.

    We ought, indeed, to have paused before we first adopted the diluvain
    theory, and referred all our old superficial gravel to the action
    of the Mosaic Flood.  For of man, and the works of his hands, we have
    not yet found a single trace among the remnants of a former world
    entombed in these ancient deposits.  In classing together distant
    unknown formations under one name; in giving them a simultaneous
    origin, and in determining their date, not by the organic remains we
    had discovered, but by those we expected hypothetically hereafter to
    discover, in them; we have given one more example of the passion with
    which the mind fastens upon general conclusions, and of the readiness
    with which it leaves the consideration of unconnected truths.

Note that this was written almost thirty years *before* Darwin's
_On The Origin of Species_ was published.

Later paleontologists' findings have not made "Flood Geology" (as
so-called "scientific creationists" call it) any more tenable.  For
instance, the class of teleostean fishes (comprising virtually all
contemporary types of fish) are found only in strata dating from the
late Triassic (about 200 million years ago, according to
paleontologists).  How could a Flood conveniently leave these
fish--who differ widely in shape, swimming speed, and habitat--at the
top of the pile, while leaving other, faster fish beneath them?  Why
did no sardine or salmon fall to be buried among the trilobites?

/ For instance: when testing for C-14 levels, the most credible
/ of all geological tests,with the least amount of assumptions underlying
/ it, we are still assuming that the rate for C-14 break-down was always
/ the same.  And yet, a pressure of about 5000 meters of water covering
/ the earth's surface could have an affect on these rates.

(1) Fossils can be dated by a number of independent methods; radioactive
dating is only one of them.

(2) On the scale of the atomic nucleus, the forces that cause
radioactive decay are far, far stronger than the water pressure at 5 km

(3) Scientists have already tested radioactive decay rates in a large
variety of environments, and found absolutely no changes.  (The water
pressures at 5 km depth are not impossible to reproduce in a

For a more thorough critique of so-called "scientific creationism" and a
very lucid explanation of evolutionary theory, I recommend Philip
Kitcher's book _Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism_ (from
which I took the information in this posting).  The talk.origins FAQ may
also be useful, although I don't know offhand how to get it.

--Seth Gordon <sethg@...> standard disclaimer


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 10:23:48 -0400
Subject: Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (zt"l)


I heard on the radio this morning that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach passed
away yesterday.  (This was reported on WFMU's "JM in the AM" [Jewish
Moments in the Morning] Radio Program, for those familiar with same.)

The funeral will be at his shul on the Upper West Side of New York at
9:00 am on Sunday 23 October, with burial in Israel.  I know of no
other details.

Baruch dayan ha'emet.


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 10:25:59 EDT
Subject: Religion and Science

Many people are arguing the pros and cons of comparing religion and
science, but it seems to me that no one has yet given a convincing
resolution of the contradictions involved. I would like to suggest an
approach which I have believed for a while, though have never seen
elsewhere. Let me know what you think and whether someone else has had
this idea:

The basic idea is that the universe is many billions of years old, and
the solar system (younger, but) still billions of years old, and the
earth younger that *that* but still a few billion years old. However,
according to the best data available today, the rise of humans (as
defined below) began about 5700 years ago.  So, isn't it possible that
our count of 5700+ years is based from the time of Adam, and NOT from
the time of creation? I know that this goes against majority opinions,
but I feel that those opinions are "mistaken" in the following sense: if
one assumes that my hypothesis is correct, and it is 5755 years since
Adam, then when someone assumed that the 6 days of creation are literal,
they will obtain a "total" of 5755 years (plus a week, which in some
sense is irrelevant over that time period). However, if someone reads
the 6 days as preiods, eons or whatever, they will obtain a larger
number.  (Before I go on, I want to clear up what I mean by "rise of
humans" I am aware that hominids were around earlier than this. However,
the first humans who organized themselves into cities (i.e. Sumer) did
so about 5700 years ago. These were also the first to have a system of
writing. I do not believe that this distinction is arbitrary, since
these are two things which seperate humans from animals.)  Support for
my idea comes mainly from two facts: First, that the Torah does not talk
about the creation of the universe, but instead talks about the creation
of Earth (i.e., it doesn't say that God created Jupiter, galaxies, etc.)
Does this mean that God did not create the universe? Of course not.
Instead, God created the universe, but the Torah only begins the
narrative at the time of the creation of Earth. (also, the creation of
the stars, which seems to contradict what I have just said, instead
supports it: the Torah refers to them as the "lights" for the Earth,
implying that other stars existed, but perhaps were not close enough to
Earth to provide any light) Second, and this ties in with the first, is
the idea that the Torah is not a history book. So, why should the Torah
discuss the creation of the universe when all that concerns us is the
creation of Earth?

I'd like to hear what others think about this line of reasoning.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 241C
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 12:53:19 EDT
Subject: Repeating Words

I have never understood the reasons for the prohibition of repeating words:
1) If a mistake is made, the word should be corrected...so, why is it any
worse if the word is said twice, but both times said correctly!?
2) In general, prayers are repetitive. For instance, why is it acceptable
to repeat "l'ayla ul'ayla" in kedusah between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,
but not acceptable to repeat in general. Simillarly, there are many
prayers which repeat the same thought over and over - why is this ok, and
not repeating a word for poetic effect?
3) I don't know whatthe rule is for a chazan, but an individual is allowed
to insert his own "requests" into his prayers. If these extra requests and
thoughts happen to take the form of the repetition of a word - so what?

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 241C
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 02:22:14 +0100
Subject: Shamaim, Rakia and Mayim

Several weeks ago Barak Moore asked for translations of the words Rakia 
and Shamayim particularly as they appear in Beraishis and for an 
explanation of the posuq Beraishis 1:7 where Hashem separates the waters 
beneath the Rakia from those above the Rakia.

While attacking the termiology issue its worthwhile noting that there is 
a third term Rakia Hashamaim which is used in 1:14, 15 and 17.

Traditionally Rakia is translated as firmament - whatever that is.  

Given the dearth of responses to date I'll toss out my ideas with a view 
to generate discussion.  I've not systematically gone through the Mephorshim)

 I would translate Shamayim as Heaven and view it as a spiritual rather 
than physical dimension.  This is consistent, for example, with the Psalms
"HaShamayim Shamayim LaHashem" though that can obviously read as 
pre-rocket imagery.

Rakia seems to have multiple usages.  In a sense it seems to connote a 

Rakia Hashamayim would be the physical counterpart to the heavens ie 
Sky / Space.

I believe the two categories of Mayim in 1:7 can be viewed as physical 
water and 'spiritual water'.  There are commentaries that see the water 
above the Rakia as water in the clouds but I did not find that pleasing.  
One Commentary (possibly the Malbim?) indicates that the 'heavenly 
waters' are those used by Hashem in the course of water miracles -- 
possibly including the Be'er in the Midbar.

Rashi on VaYikra 2:13 on the phrase "on all your sacrifices you shall 
bring salt" says that there was a Bris - covenant - from the Six Days of 
Creation that Hashem made with the 'earthly waters that all Korbonos 
would include salt (derived form the sea) and that there would be the 
ritual of Nissuch Hamayim - pouring of the waters - on Succos.  It seems 
that there is a medrash (see Torah Sheleima #111) that says that the 
'earthly waters' complained to Hashem "We want to be close to the King"  
The Rov of my Shul, Rabbi Oelbaum, in a drosho for Simchas Beis HaShoeva 
explained that they were so rewarded with a covenant because their motive 
was positive -  they wanted to be close to Hashem.

Dave Steinberg


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 19:04:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The morality of praising mechanical door locks

Several have posted with pleasure that dorms and hotels have been pressured
into selecting a variety of mechanical (i.e. non-computerized) lock systems.
The logic always being that such systems avoid the electricity dilemma. But
the more expensive computerized systems are being installed to solve a very
serious crime problem. Most people were shocked when it was revealed how many
women had been assaulted and raped in hotel rooms. Men too are vulnerable if
the aggressor wants money. The computerized approach permits public facilities
to frequently change the door lock code and insure the occupant that an old 
key was not providing access. It's an important element of a safety program.
I don't understand how some can praise unsafe choices by pointing to halachic
detail and ignore personal safety.   


End of Volume 15 Issue 96