Volume 17 Number 34
                       Produced: Mon Dec 19  0:35:39 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A shirt for a candle...
         [Akiva Miller]
Chanukah Exp't-- Don't try this at home
         [Mike Gerver]
Chol Hamoed
         [Ari Shapiro]
Legal Fiction
         [Lori Dicker]
Legal Fictions
         [David Steinberg]
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
Midrashim & Hollywood
         [Yisrael Medad]
Other life in the universe
         [Mike Gerver]
Otzar Haposkim on Choshen Mishpat
         [Michael J Broyde]
Pi in the Tanach
         [Josh Backon]
Rav Soloveitchik and the issur of the roshei yeshivos
         [Mark Press]
         [Binyamin Jolkovsky]
Slichot Question
         [Sam Gamoran]


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 1994 01:36:47 -0500
Subject: A shirt for a candle...

Chaya Ochs raises an interesting conundrum in MJ 17:19. Rather than quoting,
I'd rather paraphrase her argument:

1) A person who has absolutely no money does not have to sell his possesions
to get money for Shabbos candles.
2) Even such a person must sell the shirt off his back to buy a single
Chanuka candle, which is the minimum with which to do the mitzva.
3) A person who has only one candle on Erev Shabbos Chanuka must use it for
the mitzva of Shabbos candles, not the mitzva of Chanuka candles.
4) It turns out that he sold his shirt to buy a Shabbos candle, which he
originally was not required to do. Was this required or not?

I would love to hear a solution for the above riddle. In practical terms,
though, Rabbi Shimon Eider, in "Halachos of Chanukah", page 42, says:
"Nowadays, however, since our homes have other forms of illumination... the
Chanukah lights take precedence."


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 2:38:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Chanukah Exp't-- Don't try this at home

    In v17n6, Akiva Miller asked for data on how far apart shabbos candles
have to be so that, when used for Chanukah, they do not melt each other
and burn up too quickly. I cannot offer information on that, but I would
like to report the results of a related experiment which may be of

    My son Avi, having learned that Chanukah lights can be used to light
other Chanukah lights, although they normally cannot be used for any
other purpose, set up standard Chanukah candles in his menorah, took
some of my oil-burning wicks, and used them to tie the wicks of the candles
together in series. He figured that he would light the first candle, and the
flame would then travel sequentially to each of the other candles. I think 
this was on the seventh night. In a moment of weakness (I was curious as to
whether it would work, and thought it would look cool if it did), I agreed
to this plan.

    The flame did travel sequentially to the other candles all right, but
because of the large length of the wicks, or perhaps because the oil-
burning wicks were thick and braided, the flames were _huge_. In fact the
flames merged together, making it impossible for passersby to tell which
night of Chanukah it was supposed to be. And the candles burned down in
about 30 seconds, never mind 30 minutes, setting off the smoke alarm.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 21:27:37 -0500
Subject: Chol Hamoed

<The book "Chol Ha-moed" by R. Zucker and R. Francis states that the 39
<melachot [labors] of Shabbat are prohibited on Chol Hamoed unless there
<is a specific heter[exemption] (a major loss etc.).  

It is said over in the name of R'Chaim that Chol Hamoed has the same
Kedushas Hayom(sanctity of the day) as Yom Tov there is just a heter
to do certain melachos.  This would concur with the opinion in the Chol
Hamoed book that all melacha is assur except if there is a heter

Ari Shapiro


From: Lori Dicker <ldicker@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 11:52:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Legal Fiction

In mj 17.30, <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller) writes:
> On the question of legal fictions, Bobby Fogel (MJ 17:21) writes:
> >                                   Can someone please tell me on
> >what TORAH authority do we institute such a contortion of the Torah's
> >laws because it is expedient. . . .
> Mr. Fogel's error is in thinking that "payment for work on shabas" is a
> Torah violation. Business dealings were forbidden *by*the*rabbis*
> because they might lead to writing (which IS a Torah violation) and/or
> because they are not in the spirit of the day. . . . 
> It is true that legal fictions are recognized by Halacha, but never as a
> way to violate a Torah law, only as a way to "get around" a rabbinic law.
> It is important to note that the same rabbis who instituted the
> prohibition are those who invented the loophole. . . .

OK, I accept the concept of legal fiction in halacha.  But IS it ONLY 
applicable to rabbinic laws?  Because the way I understand it, taking 
interest is prohibited by the Torah; there are actually several 
prohibitions involved, both for the person taking the loan, and the one 
giving the loan.  So what does that make a heter iska (the term refers to 
both the manner in which it is made permissible and the document that is 
signed by both parties in doing so)???

- Lori


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 22:00:36 +0000
Subject: Legal Fictions

The terminology used in a debate sometimes influences the tone of the 
debate.  In the mj discussion about paying a Baal Koreh for reading the 
Torah on Shabbos or a Rabbi for his services the term used in the debate 
is legal fiction.  There is something incendiary about the term. 'Legal 
fiction' sounds almost subversive. 

As has been pointed out in the mj discussion, halacha builds emergency
escape provisions into Rabbinic legislation.  Properly framed, this is 
a debate about when it is appropriate to take advantage of exemptions 
built into the legislation.

Few would argue that one should not take advantage of a [legitimate] tax 
loophole but pay more taxes than what is required by law.  Intuitively, 
we understand that you should pay only the minimum tax required.  

Regarding Halacha too, we are not required to extend the Rabbinic 
legilation, in a manner not built into the original Takanah.  [if one 
wants to be machmir for themselves that is of course permissible].  

Throughout halacha there are loopholes built in: for Tzorchei tzibur 
(communal needs), Tzar (pain and suffering), in instances of Hefseida Meruba 
(disproportionate loss).  These are not all Legal Fictions; they are 
exemptions which Chazal wisely built into the legislation.  And there is 
nothing wrong in taking advantage of a recognized, valid exemption.



From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 21:47:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Mechitza

Michael Lipkin writes:

> If archeologists dug up my synagogue's daily chapel a few thousand
> years hence they could erroneously deduce that we had no mechitza, as
> we only have a temporary mechitza for the rare occasions when when
> women daven there.

Not in response to the archaeology, but this comment reminds me:

I would like to suggest that the cart may be pulling the horse in such
shuls.  It may be that women who wish to come aren't aware 
that accommodation would be made (i.e. a mechitza put up) if they came. 
Or maybe they don't want to "be a bother".  Hence the rare occasions upon 
which women come. Also, the current situation obviates a woman from 
coming 30 seconds late.

The Jewish Week recently reported, in what was probably an underestimate, 
that the neighborhood of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY (where I live) has 150 
Orthodox synagogues.  In the past year, at the shul in which I pray 
daily, two women visiting the neighborhood have come to say kaddish. Both 
had closer shuls to go to - after all, 150 is a lot.  But mine (Young 
Israel of Flatbush) has a mechitza set up every day.  By the way, it did 
not used to. I used to walk by at minyan time and want to go in -- and 
didn't.  Since then, a few women wanted to come and we put it up 
ourselves, and now it's there all the time.  (Mostly because it's easier 
for the custodian than taking it down after shabbat like  he used to...)

The upshot is, I appeal to the mail-jewish membership to make sure that 
their synagogues are open to women every day.  I could carry around with 
me the responsum in the book "Bne Banim" by Rabbi Henkin, which says that 
if only a few women are present, a mechitza isn't required.  By the same 
token, a man entering the women's section once in a while is all right.  
But I'd rather leave the room for many women to come -- by which time 
we'd need a mechitza.  Also, I'd rather not make a scene.  I just want to 

Aliza berger


From: MEDAD%<ILNCRD@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 94 09:18 IST
Subject: Midrashim & Hollywood

Jumping off from the posting on Vol 17, No. 19 regarding the Midrash &
Martial Arts, although the exact source is not with me at the moment,
there is a Midrash Rabba in Bamidbar (5, if I recall) that discusses why
the Sons of Meriri were depopulating from one census to the other.  The
reason was that they were getting knocked off by working carelessly
around the Ark of the Covenant.  And then the Midrash states that two
laser (?) beams would come out of the two poles used to carry the Ark
and burn up the enemies of Israel.  Shades (flames?) of "Raiders of the
Lost Ark", no?  I also seem to recall a specific screen credit to
DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" for Midrashic sources.  Victor Mature's
"Samson" was based on Vladimir Jabotinsky's novel of the same name which
is based partially on Midrashic commentaries.

Any other links between the Midrash and Hollywood?

Yisrael Medad


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 2:39:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Other life in the universe

    The issues raised by Jonathan Katz in v17n4 are dealt with by R. Aryeh
Kaplan zt"l in a short essay "On Extraterrestrial Life," originally 
published in the Dec. 1972 issue of a journal called "Intercom," and
reprinted in "The Aryeh Kaplan Reader" (Artscroll Mesorah Series, 1985),
which itself seems to be out of print now. Basing himself on traditional
sources (with 32 footnotes in the 3 pages of text) Rabbi Kaplan came to
the following conclusion, which he admitted was highly conjectural: There
are 18000 planets inhabited by intelligent creatures in the universe,
but except for earth men, these creatures do not possess free will. In
the Messianic age, each one of these planets will be given to one of the
18000 tzaddikim from the earth, and its inhabitants will take care of his
needs. That conclusion sounds funny when stated by itself, and even R. Kaplan
did not take it too seriously, but the essay is of interest because it
explains how various commentators have dealt with the problems that
Jonathan raised.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 16:27:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Otzar Haposkim on Choshen Mishpat

I recently saw a reference to Otzar Haposkim on Choshen Mishpat (Not 
halacha pasuka and not Kovetz Haposkim).  Is that a mistake?  Could 
someone help me clarify?


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Sun,  18 Dec 94 21:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Pi in the Tanach

See the paper by MD Stern. A remarkable approximation to pi. The Math
Gazette 1981;69:218-229. Stern uses the KRI vs. the KTIV of the word KAV
in Melachim Aleph 7:23 in the gematriah and gets the ratio of 111/106
for the formula: 3 x (111/106)  which equals 3.141509. Also AS Posamentier
and N Gordon's paper "An astounding revelation on the history of pi".
Mathematics Teacher 1984;77:52.  They indicate that the GR'A (Vilna Gaon)
used this gematria between the version in I Kings and the version in
Divrei Hayamim Bet 4:2 for the formula:
3 x 1.0472 = 3.1416    (111/106 = 1.0472).



From: Mark Press <PRESS@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 94 01:58:41 EST
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik and the issur of the roshei yeshivos

In response to Yaakov Menken's request for information: I once spoke to
Mori Rabi ztvk"l about his refusal to join in the issur.  He replied that
indeed he was not inclined to say that membership in such organizations
was necessarily prohibited; he then immediately followed it with a statement
that he could, however, not understand why anyone should want to sit down
with such people. (He actually used a Hebrew word much less complimentary
than "people"; I choose not to repeat it.)

Melech Press
M. Press, Ph.D.                  718-270-2409
Dept. Of Psychiatry, SUNY Health Science Center At Brooklyn


From: Binyamin Jolkovsky <bljolkov@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 1994 11:08:01 -0500 (est)
Subject: Re: Shachita

Actually, in the case of chicken and the like, many of the Chassidic
sects do not apoprove of "conveyer belts" to be used in the
process. Non-Chassidic Orthodoxy has no problem. The Chassidim believe
each shochet would be forced to slaughter too quickly.  There are other
objections as well.


From: <gamoran@...> (Sam Gamoran)
Date: Sun, 18 Dec 94 08:09:39 IST
Subject: Slichot Question

I hope everyone had an easy/meaningful fast on the 10th of Teveth last week.
A question that came to me during the slichot that morning:

In many shuls, the daily (perhaps only Monday/Thursday) Tahanun is
started with Elokeinu v'elokei avotenu, al tavo tichinatenu...the "short"
vidui (ashamnu, bagadnu)...kel Erech Apayim...the 13 midot....

On a day when slichot is said, we start with kel erech apayim...the 13 midot...
followed by the slichot poems interspersed with kel melech yoshev and the 13
midot repeated as a refrain.  Only after all the slichot are said, do we
say the ashamnu, bagadnu...

I understand that the every day vidui is a much shorter form than the lengthy
slichot reserved for special fast days, etc.  The question is:  why do we
reverse the ORDER of things.  Why the vidui first on regular days and last on
slichot days?



End of Volume 17 Issue 34