Volume 15 Number 98
                       Produced: Sun Oct 23  0:43:52 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Electrical Bell of a Telephone
         [Warren Burstein]
Electricity on Shabbat
         [David Charlap]
Halloween (4)
         [Danny Skaist, Elie Rosenfeld, Barry Kingsbury [ext 262],
Cheryl Hall]
Parshat Vayera Question
         [Arthur J Einhorn]
Sex Education
         [Shaul Wallach]
Shabbat and Shofar usage
         [Seth Magot]


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 1994 19:16:40 GMT
Subject: Re: Electrical Bell of a Telephone

Michael Broyde writes:

>One of the writers on electricity states that it is a "no-no" to turn
>off the electrical bell of a telephone that is not now ringing as it
>effects a mechanical device.  This is generally thought to be incorrect.
>Even if there is a reduction in current flow through that action, and my
>information indicates to me that the way most telephones work is that the
>re is *no current flow except when the phone rings, it remains a matter
>of intense dispute amoung authorities as to whether halacha prohibits
>the reduction of current flow when there is no other manefestation.

In the old type of telephone, the one that used to be proved by the Bell
System z"l and was the only thing one was allowed to connect to the
phone line did have no measurable current flowing thru it (I'm assuming
that leakage thru the capacitor was too small to measure, I never
tried).  My guess is that the leakage thru a modern electronic phone,
while still tiny, is measuable (probably in nanoamperes).

However this, too, is probably a current flow that has no other
manefestation.  And the guesses of leakage currents are just that, I've
never measured either.

This makes me think, let's say you forget to turn off the lightbulb in
the fridge, and your LOR permits disconnecting an inactive circuit, and
you had the forsight to put a disconnect switch *outside* the fridge.
So you open the door and the light goes on.  Ooops!  Better check if
this is a case of shogeg (unintentional) or mitasek (even less
intentional than that?), as the former obligates you to bring a
sacrifice and the latter doesn't, but even if the Beit Hamikdash is open
for business you can't bring the sacrifice until the next day but you
need to eat lunch now.

So, you let the door close by itself (I don't think you are required
to stand there all Shabbat long holding the door open, are you?), flip
the external switch, thru which no current is flowing, and go on
opening and closing the fridge at will (subject to your LOR's view on
opening and closing the fridge on Shabbat when the light is turned
off).  At least that's how it looks to me, standard warnings about
consulting your Local Orthodox Rabbi apply.

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon." -- Stuart Schoffman
/ nysernet.org


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 12:19:55 EDT
Subject: Electricity on Shabbat

Joe Abeles <joe_abeles@...> writes:

>... 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  ...  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.

This is absurd.  The Torah doesn't require you to micro-analyze every
situation in order to determine if it's permitted or not.

We aren't permitted to eat bugs.  So lettuce and other vegetables must
br properly washed and inspected.  But if you look closely enough
(perhaps requiring a powerful microscope), you'll find millions of bugs
that you can't ever completely remove.  And they're on everything!  Does
this mean you can never eat?

Electricity is the same way.  If you require ultra-high precision
instrumments to detect whether or not any work was done, then it has no
bearing on what you're permitted to do.

>Second, static electricity.  There is significant build-up of charge
>by static electricity when dissimilar objects rub against each other.
>... 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

Again, you're micro-managing the topic to death.

Why not forbid walking across a carpet, since that will build up enough
static charge to cause a painful shock when you touch a doorknob -
certainly more than wiping a table.

Perfectly normal activities (like walking) do not suddenly become
forbidden because various scientific studies show that electricity is an
unintended by-product of the action.  To rule otherwise would require
everybody to remain perfectly still for the duration of shabbat, because
any motion will generate minute amounts of electricity.  For that
matter, you would also have to remain asleep, because brain activity
(and any other neurological activity) also generates electricity.

You see my point, I hope.  A complete ban on electricity is impossible,
and rather silly.  And no such ban exists.

For the most part, prohibitions against electricity on Shabbat are only
when the electricity has some tangible effect (like producing light,
heat, or other work.)  But I really don't think anyone is objecting to
the mere presence of electrons in a wire.


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 14:54 IST
Subject: Halloween

>Cheryl Hall
>Christian schmistian, Pagan schmagen!  The only people I know who
>consider Halloween a "religious event" are those who refuse to
>participate for "religious" reasons -- some observant Jews and

The night before "All Saints Day" (Nov. 1) is celebrated as "All Hallows
Even(ing)", contracted to Hallowe'en.  Like Xmas, Xmas eve and New Years
day, it is difficult to recognize any religious content in the actual
celebrations.  But the Church still considers them to be religious holidays
and celebrates them as such.


From: <er@...> (Elie Rosenfeld)
Date: 21 Oct 1994  13:11 EDT
Subject: Halloween

In Michael Lipkin's list of reasons to give or not give out candy to
"trick-or-treaters", he came close to, but didn't quite hit on, the one
that is the deciding factor for me.  Namely, who needs another reason
for people to consider Jews "cheap"?  This is more than vanilla "darchei
shalom", since stinginess is a nasty stereotype attached particularly to
Jews.  When kids see everyone giving them candy except for the Jews,
otherwise innocent minds will begin to wonder if there isn't some truth
behind the slur.

I know this is "galut mentality" to some, but in this case I think it's
the most sensible approach.  And one is scarcely "celebrating" the
holiday by giving out candy to kids who come to the door.  Now letting
one's own kids participate, is a entirely different matter.

Having said all that, I think it is also obvious that for many of us,
the position we take on this and numerous other issues depends primarily
on what we grew up with.  I grew up looking forward to answering the
door on Halloween, (it was fun seeing the "new fall fashions" in
costumes each year!)  and thus as an adult it still doesn't bother me.
Those who grew up with different rules, undoubtedly react today based on
their upbringing as well.  Of course, Ba'al Teshuvas are (somewhat) an
exception to this.

Elie Rosenfeld

From: <barryk@...> (Barry Kingsbury [ext 262])
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 16:42:59 EDT
Subject: Re: Halloween

Elisheva Schwartz and others who contend that Halloween is a religous
holiday are mistaken. It never was. As was mentioned, Halloween occurs
the evening before All Saints Day, which is correct. However, Halloween
is a continuation of what used to be called in medieval times "The
Feast of Fools".  While All Saints Day was a day of piety and the like
for monks, the Feast of Fools was a time for noviates to let off steam.
As part of the feast, they dressed up in costume and put on shows.
(During this time, this was as close to "theatre" as existed in
Europe".) They even were allowed to mock Church practice, their
teachers, and their superiors. (Yes, it does sound a bit like Purim.)
Thus the feast was not a religous holiday at all. It was simply a 
yearly event, an event with only two religious ties:

* It was celebrated by people in monasteries.

* It was celebrated the evening before a religous holiday.

Most theatre history books (or at least the ones I was forced to read
in graduate school) regard the Feast of Fools celebrations as the root
of Western dramatic tradition. As the celebrations grew bigger, they
moved out of the monasteries and were celebrated in the towns. These
evolved into the pagent plays of the tenth through fourteenth century.

The Feast of Fools itself has pre-Christian roots.  It, like many
other holidays and events, was carried over in a modified form
from earlier practices. We have done the same thing by carrying over
planting and harvesting holidays.

Barry Kingsbury 

The only people who seem really opposed to Halloween seem to be the
fundamentalist Christians who see the dressing up as witches and
devils and monsters as a denial of their religion.  Even they do not
maintain that there are religious roots to Halloween. That is, in this
day and age, Halloween is completely secular.

From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cheryl Hall)
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 20:49:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Halloween

In actuallity the only religious holyday is November 1st, All Saints
Day, which is not a Christian holyday but a specifically Catholic
holyday.  Within Catholism the "eve" was not observed as any
holiday. November 2 is observed as All Souls Day, not a holyday of
obligation, but a day when those souls who are in suffering purgatory
awaiting expiation of their sin are specially remembered and prayed
for. All Saints Day is honoring all those souls who have attained heaven
-- ie saints, not just canonically recognized saints.

If anything Halloween has its roots in superstition, paganism etc. that
became entwined with the following 2 days. These are some of the reason
some fundamentalist Christians do not observe Halloween: any association
with papacy, and the issues of ghost and witches.

I am not advocating we all send our children out begging candy, or even
giving candy out to the goyim. However, it is also very important to me
to maintain clear distinctions of what is truly "religious". It devalues
the meaning and significance of the word and it use. In our American
culture and workplace circumstance we have very specific meanings when
we take "religious" holydays off.  In the next breath we say Halloween
is a religious holiday when its distance is so apparent. St. Patrick's
and Valentine's day fall in the same category. These were never even
Catholic "holydays". Its undermines our position, when we equate these
occassions with those that are normatively recognized as religious.

While one does not need to participate in any of these, I believe it is
also important to acknowledge that the religious component is tangential
and not widely perceived by the gentile community in which we live.

Cheryl Hall
Long Beach CA USA


From: Arthur J Einhorn <0017801@...>
Date: 21 Oct 1994 10:13:10 GMT
Subject: Re: Parshat Vayera Question

I have a question on parshas vayera. Rashi explains that the angels came
to visit Avrham on Pesach and Yitzchak was born on Pesach. Furthermore
Rashi explains that a mark was made on the wall to indicate that when
the Sun comes back one year later the baby will be born. How is this
physically possible since the solar year is 365 days and the holidays
follow a lunar year which is 354 days from one Peasach to the next?

Aron Einhorn


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 94 21:59:14 IST
Subject: Sex Education

     Sam Lightstone writes about the Hatam Sofer:

>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.

     Of course is wasn't enough for the Hatam Sofer, and it will never
be enough for us either, since sex education alone is no guarantee that
people will actually behave properly. But yes, please do give us the
source. Thanks!




From: <MAGOT@...> (Seth Magot)
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 14:15:13 EST
Subject: Shabbat and Shofar usage

    The shofar was in fact allowed, by the rabbis, to be blown on the
Sabbath.  This was allowed for the Sanhadrin, and no place else.  This
is because the rabbis felt that the rabbis of the Sanhadrin would not
carry the shofar in public, where as the rest of the population was not
considered to be as careful.

    The problem is that this denied for the majority of Jews the mitzva
of listening to the shofar because of a minority.  It is very much like
not permitting people to drive after 10:00 PM because there are some
people who go to a bar at night, and then after drinking themselves
blind they drive.  Thus the majority must pay for the inequities of the
few.  It is interesting that the majority tend to get the punishment for
the bad minority, but the majority never get the reward for the good
minority... :-)

Seth Magot


End of Volume 15 Issue 98