Volume 17 Number 51
                       Produced: Mon Dec 26 15:28:27 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Interplanetery Gittin
         [Leah Zakh]
Moshe's three signs
         [Zishe Waxman]
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
         [Clara F. Zilberstein]
Prozbul if shmitta is d'oraytha
         [Ari Shapiro]
Rabbi of later era can't dispute
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Reform marriage / virgins / humor
         [Gedaliah Friedenberg]
Work on Shabbat, etc.
         [Zvi Weiss]


From: Leah Zakh <zakh@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 18:00:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Interplanetery Gittin

Re Mechy Frankle's question in 17:41

I know you brought the case only as an example but as far as I am aware, 
the halacha is that  a woman has to wait three months after the get (or a 
death of her husband) to get married. If she doesn't the child is not a 

You can reach me at <zakh@...> or


From: <waxman@...> (Zishe Waxman)
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 23:32:29 EDT
Subject: Moshe's three signs

In parshat S'hmot, Moshe is sent to Egypt to tell the Jews that the time
for redemption is at hand. Moshe is sent with three "signs." In what
follows. I would like to suggest an explanation of these signs and their
intended effect.

At the outset, we must acknowledge that it wasn't the "miraculous"
nature of these signs that was meant to impress, but rather their
"content" (see Rashi).  As miracles go, these were minor (matchable by
Pharo's magicians). Moreover, bringing kishuf to Egypt is like bringing
coals to New Castle. These signs, then, were more like "political

The Jews had despaired of being redeemed from Egypt for two different
reasons.  On the one hand, the Midrash tells us that the borders of
Egypt were sealed so tightly that no slave ever managed to escape. The
Egyptians were mighty and ruled the world. No one would be able to
escape their clutches.

On the other hand, even if by some miracle it would have been possible
to escape Egypt, the Jews felt that they were not worthy. As the Midrash
says, they has sunk to the 49th gate of tum'ah (impurity). In fact at
the splitting of the sea, the angles asked G-d what the difference was
between the Jews and the Egyptians: "hallalu ovdei avoda zara, ve'hallau
ovdei avoda zara" (both these (the Egyptians) and those (the Jews) are
idol worshipers. Because of these two factors, the first external and
the second internal, redemption was out of the question.

The first two signs that Moshe was to show the Jews was to counter these
two sources of despair and assure them that, in fact, G-d had remembered
them and would redeem them. The snake was the sign of Egyptian
sovereignty. (If you saw the King Tut exhibit that made the rounds a
number of years ago, this symbol was ubiquitous.)  When Moshe turned the
staff into a snake, the very symbol of Egyptian authority, and then, by
picking it up, transformed it it into the symbol of his power, he
demonstrated that "the Egyptians are in our hannds", they are in "our
power."  It was in fact this very staff that Moshe used to smite the
Egyptians. This sign was directed against the idea that the Egyptians
were "all powerful" and redemption was impossible because of their

The second reason for the despair of the Jews was the lowly state to
which they had fallen. They weren't "redeemable." In early times the
symbol of the most rejected of people was the leper. He was separated
from the camp and society. He was truly irredeemable.  The second sign
that Moshe brought, showed the Jews that even the leper was redeemable
and, by extension, so were they.

These first two, however, were only "signs", symbols of G-d's
intent. But the Jews wanted to see "tachlis." How were they to be
convinced that Moshe could, in fact, "deliver?" That was the purpose of
the third sign. The Nile was the source of Egyptian prosperity and
might. Strike at the Nile and you strike at the very heart of Egyptian
power. Moshe took the water of the Nile and turned it literally into
blood, thus demonstrating that these were not empty promises but that,
indeed, the time of their salvation had arrived.

Zishe Waxman


From: <RSRH@...> (Clara F. Zilberstein)
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 00:19:39 -0500
Subject: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

An obsessive compulsive behavior satisfies a neurotic need and a religious
attitude satisfies a spiritual need.  There is a certain intuitive common
sense distinction that one can make between OCD and true religious behavior.
 I have never heard of any woman spending several hours in the mikvah.  No
mikvah lady would allow it.  Perhaps the writer meant time spent in
preparation.  Part of what is essential is the connection to the intent of
the ritual.  Perhaps one with OC tendencies loses track of the intent and
gets obsessive about the behavior itself.  I certainly would not comment on
the habits of the Brisker Rav zt"l.  However, anyone with an OCD would
justify their behavior with some proof in reality.  It is interesting that
the sons of the Rav, great rebeh'im in their own right, would be negligent of
something so important to their father, like locking the door actually was.
 From kibud av, would they not have been particularly meticulous?  Part of
the consideration of the OCD would be the price one pays for the behavior.
 Let us say that over the period of a lifetime, one checked salt for wheat as
the writer described.  I realize there are those who would say that it is
worth all the compulsivity in the world to have found those twelve grains of
wheat (or was it 15?) and to be spared eating any chometz, even unknowingly,
on Pesach.  How can one argue with that?  I would say that there is probably
something obsessive in the personality of one who would so respond and that
the behavior meets an already existing compulsivity.  By the way, I think
that even if one were to fully honor, respect and attempt to emulate such
behavior, it would be important to remember that it was the habit of one man,
even if deemed ideal,  and not the model for mainstream observance.  
Clara F. Zilberstein, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Los Angeles.


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 94 23:05:34 -0500
Subject: Prozbul if shmitta is d'oraytha

Actually this is a machlokes (dispute) between the Rambam and Tosafos
(Gittin 36a) on one side and the Raavad and Rashi (gittin 36b) on the other.
The gemara in Gittin while discussing  Prozbul asks how could Hillel tell
people to go out and violate an aveira (collecting a loan after shmitta)
through the use of a pruzbul (after all the rabbis cannot tell us to go do
an aveira they can only tell us not to do a mitzvah).  Abaye answers that
it only works for shmitta nowadays which is d'rabbanon.  The Rambam 
quotes this as the halacha.  However the gemara goes and asks how could 
the rabbis institute shmiita on a rabbinical level (they are telling people to
steal by not giving back the money).  Rava answers hefker beis din hefker.
(what the beis din declares ownerless is ownerless).  Rashi and the Raavad
understand that this answered the gemaras first question also and we don't
need Abaye's answer.  The reasoning behind this is complicated and I hope
to explain it in a chaburah on mj-chaburah. 

Ari Shapiro


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 00:54:05 -0500
Subject: Rabbi of later era can't dispute

Micha Berger MJ17#43 says:"A rabbi of a later era can not dispute one of an
earlier era without having another earlier Rabbi in support. "

One of the basic priciples of halacha accepted by the Ashkenazic
community following the Rama is "hilchata ke'Batrai", which means that
we must follow the last posek on a specific issue. The idea behind it is
that the last posek knew everything which was said or written about the
subject before him. We follow him even if he erred. For instance, we eat
turkeys, although that bird was discoved in America, and obviously we
had no tradition concerning this bird. Nonetheless, since centuries ago
it was paskened that the bird is kosher, we eat it. We know today in
retrospect that he who ruled on this bird was wrong, because there was
no tradition of eating turkeys until at least the fifteen hundreds. For
that reason, some rabbis and machmirim do not eat turkeys today! I do.

The gaon of Vilna had a problem with "hilchata ke'Batrai" if it
contradicted the Talmud, and he followed the Talmud in these cases. He
therefore did not follow the "hilchata ke'Batrai" but a modified one.

The Sefaradim follow Rabbi Yoseph Karo, who ruled by the majority
between (3R) Rif, Rosh and Rambam, and follow this rule to this very
day. They do not follow the rule of "hilchata ke'Batrai" .

The Berger rule quoted above could suggests that nothing can be changed,
which is clearly not the case. The halacha is flexible within limits.
Generally, a posek looked for some measurment of support for his
opinion, or his opinion would not be accepted, in the same time, if
every change needs clear support by a predecessor, then there would be
no change! As a result of these complex constrains, halachic changes are
very slow. This issue also overlaps the issue of Daat Torah, or whom
amongst the predessesors is an halachic authority to follow. Who is a
gedol ha'dor.

The above is a very complex subject, and I bring it only as a point of
information and not as an expert.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Gedaliah Friedenberg <gedaliah@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 02:26:33 -0500
Subject: Reform marriage / virgins / humor
Newsgroups: israel.mail-jewish

Eli Turkel asked about virgins and kesuvos in v17n48, which reminded
me of a funny story.  For the sake of humor, maybe this could be
passed along to the list as a "human interest story".

My mother recently re-married (a reform ceremony) after 10+ of life as
a divorcee.  The Rabbi who performed the wedding has smicha from a
choshuv [respectable] Yeshiva in Brooklyn.  When he could not get a
pulpit in a frum shul, he accepted a job in a Reform temple.  Soon he
had followed the shul's lead (shabbos, kashrus, etc.) and is no longer
frum (he joined the reform congregation over 35 years ago).

My mother, obviously not a virgin any longer, had a very nice kesuvah
for the wedding.  I wandered into the Rabbis office to watch the
signing, and to see if the Rabbi was astute enough to replace the word
besulah [virgin].  I was pleasantly suprised to see that the word was
replaced.  When I looked further, I saw that my mother's name was
wrong.  Her name is Blima Fayga, yet the kesuvah read Blima Tzipporah.
I mentioned this to the Rabbi who responded that it did not matter since
they mean the same thing (Note: fayga is Yiddish, tzippora is Hebrew.
They both are kinds of birds, but I am not sure that they are the
exact translation for one another).

Fine.  I was not there to argue.  There was clearly nothing halachic
going on in the ceremony anyways (no kosher aydim, etc), so I really
did not care.  Then, under the chuppah, the Rabbi read part of the
kesuvah.  They called my mother Blima Tzipporah bat Hersh.  Who is
Hersh?!?!  My grandfather is Chazkel (Yechezkel)!  I just chuckled.

Then after everything was all over (The "I do" ceremony), the Rabbi
said "And now let us bow our heads and pray for the happiness of the
bride and the groom."  Bow our heads?!?!  I looked at my one frum
cousin, and I had to hold my nose because we almost burst out
laughing.  It is a good thing that my mother was facing away from the
audience.  She would have killed us :-)

After the ceremony, mother was having her pictures taken, so I had
some time to explore.  I walked under the chuppah to see the artwork
on the cloth.  It was hand painted silk.  Very pretty.  The artist
*tried* to paint the words "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li" on it, with one word
on top of the other (as opposed to next to one another as a normal
sentence would appear).  The first word, Ani, was fine.  The second
word, L'Dodi, was painted too close to the first word, and the artist
could not put the top on the lamed without painting over the word Ani,
above it.  Thus, the chuppah says "Ani K'Dodi V'Dodi Li".  Funny, but
not remarkable.

Then I decided to check out the organ (which was not played during the
ceremony, thankfully).  I only wanted to see what music was on the
stand.  What was it?  T'fillas HaDerech.  I could not stop laughing.

Baruch HaShem my mother married a wonderful Jewish man.  I am happy
for both of them.  But, I am sure that I will be telling this story to
my grandchildren (b'ezras Hashem) many years from now.  T'fillas
HaDerech.  Ha ha ha!



From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 14:48:12 -0500
Subject: Work on Shabbat, etc.

In addition to all the other good responses to Stan Tenen's discomfort
with this matter, I would like to point out that SOMETIMES, the halacha
is concerned with the result of an action, sometimes the halacha is
concerned with the activity of the person andnot primarily with the
result of the activity per se, and sometimes the halacha is concerned
with BOTH.  It takes a more-than- surface knowledge of halacha to know
how/when to apply these ideas.  However, I would suggest that in the
case of payment for "work" on Shabbat, the focus here is on HOW an
action is being performed.  If one pays directly for [permitted] work
done on Shabbat, there is a reasonable chance that the Shabbat will be
treated less respectfully.  By forcing people to do this in a different
manner (whether we want to frame this in terms of Havla'a or in terms of
being paid only for the preparation), we force people to always be
cognizant of the special nature of Shabbat.  As such, this is not a
"fiction" at all.. instead, it is a device that has been instituted to
ensure continuing sensitivity to the special nature of Shabbat.



End of Volume 17 Issue 51