Volume 17 Number 56
                       Produced: Wed Dec 28 17:30:39 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bat Mitzvah (2)
         [Elad Rosin, Aleeza Esther Berger]
Bat Mitzvah celebrations
         [Shani Bechhofer]
Hannukkah and Yom Ha'atzma'ut
         [Jerome Parness]
Hebrew for secular purposes
         [Eli Turkel]
Issur Kilayim
         [Josh Cappell]
Jewish UPenn
         [Ira Rosen]
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
         [ Dr. Jeremy Schiff]
Pronunciation of Hebrew
         [Esther R Posen]


From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 16:56:52 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Bat Mitzvah

In a recent post to mj about Bat Mitzvah's Irwin A. Keller wrote at the end:

"The Chauvenistic motivation is obvious in that there was and is a
premium placed on having sons in preference to daughters (kadishels).  I
would be curious to see if anyone knows of any 'sources' in this regard,
halachik or literary."

     Just having learned a Gemara referring to this concept I thought I
would write a second follow up to Irwin's post.  One source as to having
a preference of sons more than daughters is the Gemara in Baba Basra
16b.  The Gemara brings down an incident in where Rebbi Shimon the son
of Rebbi (the author of the mishna) had a daughter.  When his father,
Rebbi saw that his son was upset at not having a son he tried to console
him by saying that at least he has helped to populate the world which is
a mitzvah.  The Gemara then relates that Bar Kapra said to Rebbi Shimon
that the consolation that his father gave is meaningless since there is
a Braisa that says (this is not an exact translation, see the gemara for
the full text of the Braisa), "It is impossible for the world to exist
without both males and females, however lucky is the one who has sons
and woe is to the one who has females".


     The Chasam Sofer asks a question on this Gemara.  He asks, how is
it possible that Bar Kapra could say such a thing to Rebbi Shimon?
Certainly this is not in the way of Mussar to be insensitive to one's
feelings.  He answers that in truth it is not better to have a son more
than a daughter since each is only one half of a whole and only when
they are married is a single, whole entity created.  However, one who is
'batuach', sure, that his sons would be Talmidei Chachomim is better off
since his chalek (portion) in Torah is received immediately.  On the
other hand if he has no reason to be sure that his sons will be Talmidei
Chachomim he is better off having daughters since he can then marry them
to a Talmid Chochom.
     In the case of Rebbi Shimon the first scenario is was the case.  He
was from possibly the greatest Torah family in Jewish History.  Starting
with Hillel all the way through Rebbi Yehuda HaNassi, his father.  In
such a case it is in fact preferable to have sons as opposed to
daughters.  Now to answer the original question of the Chasam Sofer.
Rebbi was trying to console his son Rebbi Shimon, but this was at the
expense of his own honor, since considering who Rebbi was, it would in
fact be better to have sons.  Therefore Bar Kapra who was a student of
Rebbi was required to defend Rebbi's honor and it is for that reason
that he brought down the Braisa that was mentioned above.
     This I hope should answer any questions you may have had and also
help to alleviate the notion that Chazal were in someway "chauvinistic".

Thank You,
Elad Rosin

P.S. As usual any and all responses or criticisms are encouraged through
either a post or a personal reply.

From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 14:55:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Bat Mitzvah

The idea that girls should not have a public commemoration of their
coming-of-age, because our role is private, may be appropriate for
communities where this is in fact true.  But in many Orthodox
communities, both women and men profess to not view women's role as
primarily private.  In such a climate, girls who wouldn't have some kind
of public commemoration would be faced with a destructive mixed message
(e.g. they are telling me to be active publicly, but they don't really
mean it.) Orthodox girls get enough of this overtly in shul and covertly
or subconsciously from society - a bat mitzvah is a great way to send a
positive message.

Aliza Berger


From: <sbechhof@...> (Shani Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 27 Dec 1994 23:38:19 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Bat Mitzvah celebrations

A prominent Rosh Yeshiva here in Chicago encourages his children to make a
celebration of their daughters' bas mitsva birthdays.   They do celebrate, but
with a large family gathering at home and the girl gives a dvar torah, rather
than with a lavish public affair or a "birthday party" at which the kids do
arts and crafts projects.  I'm not sure whether he considers it a seudas
mitzva or not, but he definitely deems it an important message to his
granddaughters, and a way to model to the community how a bas mitzva
celebration should be.  He does not see it as a bedieved or as deriving from
non-Orthodox sources.

Shani Bechhofer


From: Jerome Parness <parness@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 14:00:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Hannukkah and Yom Ha'atzma'ut

   This is in response to Michael Lipkin's query regarding those who
hold that Yom Ha'atzmaut is a religious holiday. What if C"V Israel is
destroyed and there is no longer any state, would we still say Hallel
(with a bracha).  While I am not a posek and do not pretend to be, I
believe the arguments would spread along the following logical paths:
   1. If you hold that it is indeed a religious holiday, than the actual
amount of time this miracle, the State of Israel, remains in existence
is immaterial. Example in kind: Purim or Hannukah.  Both of these
holidays celebrate a physical deliverance, Purim - a Nes Nistar,
Hannukah - a Nes Galuy.  For those who believe that the State of Israel
was Nes Galuy, the maintenance of a physical entity of statehood is
immaterial - just as there was an eventual destruction of the state of
Israel in the time of the Romans, and just as the House of Hashomnaim
brought about its own destruction by assuming both the high priesthood
and the crown. In both cases, the results of the individual miracles
were eventually destroyed, yet we commemorate these events with
religious holidays - and both of them are d'rabbanan.
   2. If you don't hold there was any Nes Galuy, then there is no
argument for Hallel with a bracha anyway; if you hold there was no Nes
Nistar, then there is no argument for Hallel in the first place.

   The essence of the argument then becomes does a religious holiday
commemorating a perceived miraculous event that causes the establishment
of an existential religious entity (Bet Hamikdash, Jewish State on Admat
Hakodesh) always require that that physical entity maintain its
existence to prove the miraculousness of the entity's establishment, and
hence its religious observance?  The answer from Purim and Hannukah, I
think, is no.

Jerome Parness MD PhD         Internet: <parness@...>
Depts of Anesthesia & Pharmacology   Voice: (908) 235-4824
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School  FAX: (908) 235-4073
Piscataway, NJ 08854


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 08:19:38 +0200
Subject: Hebrew for secular purposes

    Allen Elias writes

>> Another reason might be the prohibition by some poskim against speaking 
>> Lashon Kodesh for secular purposes

   Does anyone know of sources that actually say this. Obviously in
Israel in the days of the first Temple at least Hebrew was the spoken
language for all purposes. Even in second Temple days I know of no
source that claims that the gradual change to Aramaic was because the
rabbis preferred Aramaic for non-religious activities.



From: <josh@...> (Josh Cappell)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 15:42:13 EST
Subject: Issur Kilayim

Here's a question for mail-Jewish readers.  I don't have an answer but
would be interested in any ideas you have.

Does genetic recombination violate issur kilayim?  Molecular biology
labs routinely transfect into cells non-native genes.  The genes being
expressed may be altered host genes or may even be genes of a different
species.  The cells may then be used to raise actual redesigned animals.
Clearly the transfection of a different animal's genes would present a
harder problem as far as kilayim goes (possibly falling either under the
category of cross-breeding or of grafting).  However, the first may be
problematic as well.  What is the essence of the issur?  If it is
understood broadly as any interference in the natural biologic endowment
of living things, ( interfering with the natural divinely established
order in any way), any genetic alteration should be forbidden.
	I do realize of course that products of kilayim are muttar
b'hanaaa, so that we might still benefit from other people's genomic
research.  Also, targetted gene therapy (e.g. for cystic fibrosis) would
be permitted because of pikuach nefesh.  The question's relevance
therefore is limited to whether Jews may participate in certain types of
molecular biological research.
					Joshua Cappell
					Dept. of Physiology and Neuroscience
					New York Univ. School of Medicine


From: Ira Rosen <irosen@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 6:59:52 EST
Subject: Jewish UPenn

	Although I've been out of Philly for a few years, I must make some
corrections concerning the Jewish chevra at Penn.  The building in which many
religious students live is High Rise North (first three floors at last count,
it makes the climb easier on shabbat), and they do not live in suits, I
assume this was a misprint of 'suites'.  The high rise dorms are more
accurately described as apartments (they have there own kitchens and
bathrooms). Food is easily accessible (and with kitchens, eating is not a
problem). There is a Hillel on campus, providing meals, avariety of Jewish
cultural groups and a Beit Midrash with classes etc.  There is also a Chabad
house on campus (not as active as the Hillel house).  I've had one
aquaintance from yeshiva high school start at Penn, take a year at YU because
he wanted a more Jewish atmosphere, and end up at Penn again because he felt
he couldn't get the sametype of secular education at YU (he made due with the
available Jewish resources at Penn - turned out OK too).  I also have more
than one friend who became more religious at Penn (one will no longer eat in
his parents' house), so, apparently, there are fairly reasonable Jewish
resources at Penn (OK - it's no YU, but a university, despite its marketing
strategies, can't be all things to all people).  Good luck finding a school.

Ira Rosen


From: <schiff@...> ( Dr. Jeremy Schiff)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 11:40:35 +0200
Subject: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

In response to Mark Steiner's query about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,
I called up David Greenberg, the frum psychiatrist who coauthored the
article in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry Mark cited, and a good
personal friend of mine. (For those of you without easy access to the
IJP, there was an article about this work in the JP - the Jerusalem Post
- this past Sunday, Dec 25th). David doesn't have access to the internet
right now, so he can't respond himself, and I am certainly not qualified
to do so for him.

The theoretical question of what distinguishes pious religious behavior
from OCD is interesting, and not at all easy to answer. In practice,
though, there is a vast gulf between them. A pious person may be careful
to wash their hands to get rid of all dirt, and then thoroughly dry them
before doing netilat yaddayim (ritual washing of the hands). It'll take
a few minutes. The unfortunate person suffering from OCD will stand
there scrubbing away with the soap for maybe half an hour or more;
he/she won't be able to stop, or prevent him/herself from doing this
sort of thing when other people are waiting, or when he/she has other
pressing thongs to do. The behavior is evidently damaging, and not

Like many other psychiatric disorders, OCD is not uncommon, and can be
successfully treated (with drugs and/or behavioral therapy). If you are
aware of people suffering from it, you should help them get treatment,
and certainly have no hesitation on religious grounds. A psychiatrist
with sensitivity towards religious Jews would be a help - your LOR
should be able to help you with this.



From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 10:27:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Pronunciation of Hebrew

This week is so quiet I get to spend some time posting instead or
reading and cringing or smiling.

In response to Gilad Gevaryahu I would like to point out the following:

 - Nobody denies the existance of a Jewish State.  They just argue about
its relative significance and value since it is not purely a religous

 - In Chassidic circles in the USA, Yiddish is still overwhelmingly the
Jewish vernacular.  I am sure the Chassidic segment of the Jewish
population is growing at least as fast as any other.  An interesting
question to think about is whether you had two choices in this world -
to be a chassidic jew or a non-religous zionist which would you choose.
Obviously not a practical question but one which gets me to admit that I
have more in common with a chassid, who is shomer torah umitzvot, than a
secular zionist who does not believe in the validity of torah for our

think even the secular zionists know that.  Otherwise there would be far
fewer provisions in Israel to accomodate the religous jew.)  As far as
making us one people around the world, the average American jew can't
even utter the sound of the "chet" let alone speak any version of

- I daven with an ashkenazic pronunciation because my father did and so
did his father etc. etc.  There is no reason for me to break this
mesorah. I speak hebrew, as well as I can, with a sephardic
pronunciation because that is the way conversational hebrew is spoken.
My daughter is in a school that is taking this approach and she is not
confused.  The problem is not in pronunciation.  The problem is in
vocabulary.  We are not producing enough American teachers that can
speak hebrew fluently with any pronunciation. In fact, I have recently
realized that my textual skills in hebrew far surpass my conversational
skills, since so much of my hebrew language is derived from studying
tanach etc. in school and was textually based.



End of Volume 17 Issue 56