Volume 17 Number 75
                       Produced: Thu Jan  5 23:33:37 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are Brit M'ilah's [circumcisions] covered by insurance companies
         [Robert Israel]
Brit Milah and Insurance (2)
         [Steve Wildstrom, Ben Rothke]
Divine  authorship (2)
         [Jules Reichel, Avi Feldblum]
         [Josh Backon]
Marriage in a Shul
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
         [Jeff Woolf]
Microphones, Orthodox Rabbi's hetter
         [Avi Teitz]
Milah and Medical Insurance
         [Andrew M. Sacks]
Orthodox weddings
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Pareve Parts of Mammals
         [Deborah J. Stepelman]
Pointing at Torah
         [Seth Ness]
Rav Moshe Feinstein's birthday
         [Ari Z. Zivotofsky]


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 95 09:55:35 -0800
Subject: Re: Are Brit M'ilah's [circumcisions] covered by insurance companies

Barry Siegel wrote:

> I'm trying to get some information on whether anyone has been reimbursed
> for circumcisions done by a Mohel.  The insurance company who administers
> our health plan would only "cover" a circumcision  when done by 
> an "authorized provider" [doctor].   I asked them, what if the same procedure
> was done by a Mohel [or Rabbi] would it be covered and they replied -no.

I have no knowledge of any cases where brit milah was covered by medical
insurance, even when the mohel is a doctor, but it seems to me that from
a Jewish perspective this should not be encouraged.  This is not a
procedure done for medical reasons, it is done purely for religious
reasons.  We should be careful to maintain the distinction.  Otherwise
we could be either defrauding the insurance company or lacking the
proper kavanah [intention] for the mitzvah.

Another problem might be that the halachically acceptable methods of
circumcision are not the same as the ones commonly used in medical
practice.  Those who pay usually want to regulate.  This could lead
people to violate the halachic standards in order to qualify for
insurance benefits.

Robert Israel                            <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics             
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Y4


From: Steve Wildstrom <swild@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 95 08:26:24 EST
Subject: Re: Brit Milah and Insurance

> In MJ 17:72, Barry Siegel <sieg@...> writes:
> I'd like to inquire of anyone else's experience with getting an insurance 
> company to cover the Brit Milah. I recognize that a Mohel would charge more 
> than a doctor, but at least part of the Brit Milah should be covered.
> I have also heard of cases where the Mohel is also a doctor.

> Also, has anyone heard of anyone successfully challenging the insurance 
> carriers on this one??

     I think such a challenge would open a horrible can of worms. I would 
     require the challenger to take the position that the Brit Milah is 
     primarily a medical procedure rather than a religious observance. It 
     would open the door to government regulation and political fights over 
     the "barbaric" practice of circumcision (if you can stand it, drop in 
     on soc.culture.jewish where this attitude is regularly expressed.) All 
     in all, it would bring much tsures for little gain--all costs of 
     raising children should be as easily born as the mohel's payment. 

From: Ben Rothke <ber@...>
Date: Thu,  5 Jan 95 12:39:07 EST
Subject: Re: Brit Milah and Insurance

Barry Seigel writes that he would like insurance reimbursement for a bris.

Since a bris is primarily a spiritual act (that is why you need a yireh
shomayim for a mohel, not a Dr. w/ board certification), without regard
to physical health, insurance should not cover it.

Rabbi Krohn writes in his sefer Bris Milah (Artscroll) that some poskim
forbid a frum doctor from performing milah, lest the act be viewed as a
medical procedure, as opposed to a religous procedure.

Ben Rothke


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 16:17:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Divine  authorship

In a recent posting on Reliability, Yitzchok Adlerstein makes a
distinction between Orthodox and Conservative based on whether they view
Torah as being "inspired" or "dictated" by God. I've never concluded
that the word choice was helpful in separating the views. Despite
R. Adlerstein's concern that "inspired" allows for loose interpretation,
it's probably as close as we can come. Consider the following simple

There are 3 objects in the process: God as author, Moshe in some role,
and the final manuscript. If you use words like, "dictated" or "written"
then God is not transferring information to Moshe but controlling the
process so completely that Moshe can no longer be Moshe Rabbeinu. But
that's clearly a wrong image. Saying that Torah is inspired by God
allows for Moshe to be fully instructed while remaining free to be our

The problem is that as the words get stronger to insure that there is
acceptance of every letter as written, the need for Moshe and his
reliability as a human teacher diminishes. It's a conundrum. I think
that divine "author- ship" and divinely "inspired" are the best images
we have.  Jules

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 23:32:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Divine  authorship

Jules Reichel writes:

> There are 3 objects in the process: God as author, Moshe in some role,
> and the final manuscript. If you use words like, "dictated" or "written"
> then God is not transferring information to Moshe but controlling the
> process so completely that Moshe can no longer be Moshe Rabbeinu. But
> that's clearly a wrong image. 

R' Meyer Simcha M'Dvinsk, the Meshech Chochma, addresses exactly this
point in the beginning of sefer Shemot, and comes to a startling (to me)
conclusion. In order for Moshe Rabbenu to be the agent through which the
Torah was given, Moshe acheived a state where his bechira - "free will"
was removed/absent. He no longer operated under the conditions of free
will, but in a manner similar to a malach (angel). R' Meyer Simcha
understands the sin of Moshe as being most closely related to the sin of
an angel. One very interesting result of this is that the two main
protagonists in last week and this weeks parsha, Moshe and Pharoh both
were operating with compromised free will systems, but from the two
opposite extremes.

Avi Feldblum
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@cnj.digex.net


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  5 Jan 95 17:57 +0200
Subject: Re: Hair

I'd guess that hair would be in the same halachic category as SHILYA
(empty amniotic sack) or GIDIN where there is an issur d'rabbanan in
BASAR V'CHALAV [since dry horns and dry hoofs) are in this category. Or
else they would be in the category of dry (no marrow) bones. According
to the MINCHAT YAAKOV and the PRI MEGADIM this would be an issur
d'rabbanan; according to the BEIT LECHEM YEHUDA and the YAD EFRAIM this
would be completely MUTTAR. Regarding skin, the PRI MEGADIM only
considers the skin of a SHLIL (embryo) to be BASAR.



From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 13:42:44 -0500
Subject: Marriage in a Shul

the argument that one should not daven in a shul because of b'chuoteyhem
does not follow logically from the argument against weddings.  we daven
in a shul because that is where davening takes place ( and besides, we
were probably gathering to daven in some form before there were
churches, so we got the idea first ).  we have weddings in a shul, in
r. dovid's opinion, and maybe in reality too, because we saw the
non-jews doing it and adopted it.


From: Jeff Woolf <F12043@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 95 16:44:53 IST
Subject: Re: Microphones

If my memory serves me correctly, it was Rabbi Levy, head of the Halakha
Commission of the RCA in the forties who allowed microphones in
Baltimore. He based his decision on the assumption (then very prevalent)
that electricity is not fire (though exactly what it is is still moot
among Poskim). When the Rav zt'l took over Halakhic guidance of the RCA
he banned microphones because he felt electricity WAS equivalent to
fire. Whether Baltimore has the status of 'So-and-so's place' (See
Shabbat 119a) is an interesting question. If the position that
electricity is NOT fire is a legitimate, though rejected, one. It MIGHT
be legit to keep the microphone. If it's based on an error, it would
not. Any comments?
                                                 Rabbi Dr Jeffrey R Woolf
                                                 Lecturer, Talmud Department
                                                 Bar Ilan University


From: <TEITZ.AVRAHAM@...> (Avi Teitz)
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 1995 11:02:56 -0500
Subject: Re: Microphones, Orthodox Rabbi's hetter

Regarding Tzvi Weiss's posting, in which he did not recall the name
of the Rabbi who was mattir microphones, the Rav in question is Rabbi
Mendel Polikoff, and he still resides in Baltimore.  BTW he is also
my relative (but its too complicated for me to figure out how). Maybe
Eliyahu Teitz could figure it out, or better yet, find out what the
basis of the hetter was.  


From: <RAISRAEL@...> (Andrew M. Sacks)
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 1995 17:57:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Milah and Medical Insurance

That one would seek payment from the insuance company for a Brit Milah
is quite problematic.  As a mohel, I perform a ritual proceedure NOT A
MEDICAL proceedure.  It is done NOT for medical reasons .  It is done
ONLY because it is a Mitzvah to do so.  There is absolutely no reason to
expect medical insurence to cover this.

Let us put a stop to confusing Brit Milah with circumcision.  They are
not one and the same.

I would also hope that medical insurance extends only to medical
professionals.  If not, why not have non-pros do other proceedures that
they learn and receive repayment.

We are lucky that the government turns a blind eye to our carrying out
what includes a surgical proceedure as part of the rritual. I would also
suggest that one check to be certain that his Mohel carries malpractice
insurance before inviting him.


Andrew M. Sacks (Jerusalem)


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jan 1995 23:17:19 -0800
Subject: Orthodox weddings

In response to the poster who said, of an Orthodox wedding ceremony,
"and do not expect to have a double ring ceremony," I would like to
comment that there are indeed many Orthodox double-ring weddings.
The problems arise only if the "k'dat Moshe" language is used by
the woman, or if there is a question of a ring exchange as opposed
to a one-way transfer during the kedushin.  Current Orthodox alternatives
include the woman giving her groom a ring at the end of the ceremony, or
at the beginning of the ceremony, or apart from the ceremony but under
the chuppah (after the ketubah is read, for example).  At my wedding
this past June, I gave my groom his ring at the bedecken.

Leah S. Gordon


From: <stepelma@...> (Deborah J. Stepelman)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 21:02:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Pareve Parts of Mammals

	Finley Shapiro, in a discussion of whether hair is milk, meat or 
parve, asks "... is anything else from a mammal ever parve?"
	My father-in-law, A"H, often told us that in Europe (at least 
through the first third of the 1900's) people used to eat the udder of a 
cow and treated it as parve.

Deborah J. Stepelman
Bronx HS of Science ... <stepelma@...>


From: Seth Ness <ness@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 20:56:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Pointing at Torah

does anyone know why we point at the torah during hagbah with our pinkies?

Seth L. Ness                         Ness Gadol Hayah Sham


From: <azz@...> (Ari Z. Zivotofsky)
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 09:54:56 -0500
Subject: Rav Moshe Feinstein's birthday

It is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein was born on 7 adar (as was
Moshe rabbanu). This year would have been his 100th birthday (he was
born in 1895). Does anyone know if 1895 had one or two adars? ie is his
birthday properly observed this year in Adar I or II?


End of Volume 17 Issue 75