Volume 17 Number 89
                       Produced: Wed Jan 11 17:53:38 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Article by Dr. Haym Soloveitchik in Tradition, Part 2
         [Arnold Lustiger]
Eruv scenarios
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Insurance Reimbursement for a Bris
         [Barry Siegel]
Kedushat Sheviit and Fruits
         [Michael J Broyde]
         [Shaul Wallach]
Medical Insurance for a bris
         [Akiva Miller]
Profiting Financially from Torah
         [Moishe Halibard]
Why bad things happen to good people
         [Jules Reichel]
Why do bad things happen to good people
         [Gary Sorock]


From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 1995 15:38:55 -0500
Subject: Article by Dr. Haym Soloveitchik in Tradition, Part 2

Dr. Soloveitchik, in the Tradition article that I started to summarize
last week, makes an interesting assertion that I would like to test on
the mail.jewish readership.

Near the beginning of his article, he discusses how Halakhic practice
was at one time "...mimetic, imbibed from parents and friends, and
patterned on conduct regularly observed in home, synagogue and school."

At this point, he advances a controversial opinion:

"Did these mimetic norms...conform with the legal ones? The answer is,
at times yes; at times, no." He then discusses how the Kosher kitchen of
today "...with its rigid separation of milk and meat - separate dishes,
sinks, dishracks, towels, tablecloths, even separate cupboards" has
little basis in halakha. "In fact, if the food is served cold, there is
no need for separate dishware altogether. The simple fact is that the
traditional Jewish kitchen...has been immesaurably and unrecognizably
amplified beyond all halakhic requirements. Its classic contours are the
product not of legal exegesis, but of the housewife's religious
intuition imparted in kitchen apprenticeship."

He then continues:

"An augmented tradition is one thing, a diminished one another. So the
question arises: did this mimetic tradition have an acknowledged
position even when it went against the written law? Often, yes... There
is an injunction against 'borer' - sorting or separating on Sabbath. And
we do indeed refrain from sorting clothes, not to speak of actual wheat
from chaff. However, we do eat fish, and in eating fish we
must...separate the chaff (bones) from the wheat (meat). The upshot is
that all Jews who ate fish on Sabbath...have violated the Sabbath. This
seems absurd, but the truth of the matter is that it is very difficult
to provide a cogent justification for separating bones from fish. In the
late 19th century, a scholar took up this problem and gave some very
unpersuasive answers *[footnote to Mishnah Brurah 319:4, with a critique
by the Hazon Ish Orah Hayim 53:4]*. It is difficult to imagine he was
unaware of their inadequacies. rather his underlying assumption was that
it *was* permissible. There must be *some* valid explanation for the
practice, if not necessarily his.Otherwise...millions of well-intendiong
observant Jews had inconceivably been desecrating the Sabbath for some
20 centuries....It is no exaggeration to say that the Ashkenazic
community saw the law as manifesting itself in two forms: in the
canonized written corpus (the Talmud and codes) and in the regnant
practices of the people...on frequent occassions, the written word was
reread in light of traditional behavior."

I personally find the kosher kitchen argument somewhat less than
convincing: I can't envision using one set of dishes for cold and then
two for hot foods, although strictly speaking Halakha may allow this
(and what of davar charif?) . However, the borer argument is something
else. Is the Mishnah Brurah justification for eating fish (with bones)
as weak as Dr.  Soloveitchik says it is?

One of the favorite phrases of Dr. Soloveitchik's father zt'l was
"Yiddishe geshichte hot gepaskened" (Jewish history has
ruled...). However, one of the basic axioms of his father, and indeed of
Brisk, was the absolute objectivity of the Halakha as well. Are these
two ideas sometimes in conflict?

Arnie Lustiger 


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 12:22:19 -0500
Subject: Eruv scenarios

Aliza Esther Berger (MJ 1785) asks the following:

(1) I was just in Miami Beach. Luckily for the kosher tourist industry, 
the eruv includes the boardwalk there (but not the beach). However, I 
saw the eruv: It's a string strung along light poles which are next to 
the "wrong" side of the boardwalk.  The light poles don't even touch the
boardwalk.  So, my question is, how is the boardwalk included? If it's
naturally included somehow, what purpose does the string serve? 

If the boardwalk has a railing on the other side of the eruv string, and
this railing qualifies for zurat hapetach (i.e., minimum height and
boards on top of poles), and all interruptions (if any) are only minor
(i.e., the majority of the eruv has either the string or the railing,
and no one opening [gap] is greater that ten amot), then there is a
halachic basis for the inclusion of the boarwalk in the eruv. ( I
appologize for not offering citations-I don't have the sources
here). This is a theoretical discussion, for halachic ruling cunsult
your LOR.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Barry Siegel <sieg@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 95 12:46:32 EST
Subject: Insurance Reimbursement for a Bris

Dr. Jeremy Schiff has written::

>I don't think Barry Siegel was trying to say that Brit Milah is a
>medical procedure and should therefore be covered by medical insurance.
>It is the case that many non-Jews choose (for non medical reasons)
>to have their male newborns circumcised; in general the circumcision is
>done in hospital by a doctor shortly after birth. I'm sure some insurance
>companies will not cover a "routine" circumcision, i.e. one performed 
>without a diagnosis necessitating such. But if Barry's insurance company 
>does cover routine circumcision, they have no justification for only
>covering it if done by a doctor and not if done by a licensed, registered
>mohel. And contrary to other opinions that have been expressed, I feel
>there is a good reason to "open this can of worms", because if insurance
>companies are allowed to give this preference to doctors, many less
>committed Jews will opt to have their sons' britot done in hospitals before
>the 8th day.

Thanks Jeremy, This was my intent and I couldn't have said it better!

Given that the insurance company will cover "routine" circumcision's,
why shouldn't they also reimburse for a bris done by a licensed, registered

True, this may take away some sichar [merit] of the Mitzva of Mila if one 
is reimbursed, however that is not the issue here.  Also I realize that 
a Bris is a totally religious Mitzva and a circumcision is a medical 
procedure, However the plain and simple fact is that after a Mila the baby 
boy is what is defined as "circumcised".

Incidently, a local pediatrician in New Jersey recently told me that 
several private E-mail replies stating that their insurance companies
did reimburse them for their son's mila [some after originally 
being rejected and then submitting a protest].

Incidentally, here in New Jersey (Our family is blessed with 4 boys!)
the going rate for a weekday Mila is $250-300.  I don't want to get into a 
pricing war but that is a substantial amount of money.
Also as noted, the Mohel does not explicitly say, "This Mila will 
cost you $300 dollars." as there are Halachic concerns about how 
a Mohel is paid, but the Mohel says something like "Yes, there is
no set fee, However other parents have given me $300 for my services".
And as I said above that is a lot of money and if one can get 
reimbursed for this why not??

We can debate this point to no-end,  However I believe there are good
reasons to challenge insurance companies.

What I'd like to know now is exactly what is a "licensed, registered Mohel"
	- Who gives out the licenses?
	- Is there more than 1 certifying agency? 
	- What is the status of a Mohel by American doctor/health/surgeon laws?
	- Does a Mohel need to be licensed & registered.
	- Does a Mohel need malpractice insurance?  :-)

Barry Siegel
Vice President of AT&T Employees Jewish Resource Group.
Barry Siegel  HR 2B-028 (908)615-2928 windmill!sieg OR <sieg@...>


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 10:46:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kedushat Sheviit and Fruits

Twice now a poster a implied that there is a prohibition to eat fruits
of the land of Israel grown with kedushat sheviit in the diaspora.  I do
not believe that this is an accurate representation of what the halacha
is and do not believe that any contemporary poskim -- except perhaps a
widely disagreed with Divrai Yoel-- who accept that it is prohibited to
eat exported fruit (and even he might not say it) even as there are
authorities who rule that it is prohibited to export them.
	I would like a source for such a ruling; for those who want a
source permitting the eating of such a fruit, see iggrot moshe OC 1:186;
Minchat Shlomo pp 230-231; Aruch Hashulchan He'atid shemittah 21:6-8
(and elsewhere).



From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 95 13:13:56 IST
Subject: Khazars

     The definitive history of the Jewish Khazars is the book by
D.M. Dunlop, "The History of the Jewish Khazars", Princeton University
Press (Princeton, 1954). See also his article in "The World History of
the Jewish People", Cecil Roth (general editor), Second Series: Medieval
Period, Vol. 2: The Dark Ages (Massadah, Tel-Aviv, 1966).

     More recent critical discussions are given by G.D. Hundert and G.C.
Bacon, "The Jews in Poland and Russia: Bibliographical Essays" (Indiana
University Press, 1984), pp. 38-40.

     Authentic documentation of the Jewish Khazars can be found in
Norman Golb and Omeljan Pritsak, "Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the
Tenth Century", Cornell University Press (Ithaca, 1982).




From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 01:45:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Medical Insurance for a bris

I suggest investigating the critieria under which the insurance would
cover cosmetic surgery. Nowadays, there don't seem to be too many
*medical* ways to justify a circumcision, so maybe plastic surgery is
the category it falls under.

On the other hand, many mohalim do not charge a set fee, or any fee at
all.  Almost everyone gives the mohel something anyway, but it seems
clear to me that the insuance company should not be expected to cover an
individual's generosity, and such a claim would be outright fraud.


From: <halibard@...> (Moishe Halibard)
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 20:36:08 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Profiting Financially from Torah

As an new student at Bar Ilan University, this is the first time
I have become aware of the anual mishna quiz held here. Modelled
on the famous bible quiz, it is split into three levels, and
a series of examinations are held on the material specified (80
chapters in the top level) Substantial cash prizes are presented
to the winners.
After entering the quiz, my flat-mate, Dr.Shlomo Engelberg, 
a maths researcher at Tel Aviv and a mute member of mail-jewish, 
asked why this does not count as 'kardom lachpor bo' - using Tora
as a source of financial gain. This very serious issur led the
Bartenura to disqualify the decisions of a dayan who is paid for being 
a judge irrespective of the method of payment. In the times of the
Rishonim no Rav or teacher was ever paid or even renumerated for his 
time or efforts.
Nowadays it seems that a free season has been called regarding this
issur, with effectively every rav, dayan, teacher etc, and even
kollel students being paid as a matter of unquestioned right.
What exactly are the parameters of 'kardom lachpor bo', why has the
emphasis changed so dramatically in the last few hundred years
and what do I do, if by some mazel I actually win the competition?


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 16:05:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Why bad things happen to good people

Rabbi Karlinsky responds to Rabbi Kushner's question in his famous book
by assuming that R. Kushner and the rest of us are unaware that bad
things have often happened to our people and it's part of life. He says,
When we are in a bad situation, "We are being challenged by G-d to
remain faithful to Him, to communicate to the world our conviction of
His existence, and to continue serving Him in every situation." I know
that R. Kushner understands that as we all do to some degree. The
problem is that this doesn't seem to be a sufficient answer.

It's no longer a test of our conviction if should all die. Thank G-d
that has not happened. But this case at least illustrates that not all
happenings can so easily be dismissed as a challenge to the
people. R. Kushner was concerned with these more soul-wrenching cases.

For R. Kushner and for me, it somehow trivializes the holocaust to
simply tell me it was a test. It imagines a G-d of boundless cruelty and
a people who seem oblivious to the world around them. One has to rethink
the idea of a world gone mad to come to terms with such an
event. Personal tests of conviction are not enough. And, for R. Kushner
there was the tragedy of his son with a disease which tortured his
body. For what purpose? How should we understand it?

The purpose of the question which Rabbi Karlinsky restates is not to
bring forth a well understood answer. It's purpose, in my opinion, is to
cause us to wrestle with our awareness of the darkest and most ugly side
of reality.  A darkness to which we cannot reconcile ourselves. There is
no answer and none is needed. Maybe only tears, and hope, and silence
are possible.  Jules


From: <SOROCK@...> (Gary Sorock)
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 17:01:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Why do bad things happen to good people

Response to "Why do bad things happen to good people"

Rabbi Kushner has a book titled "When Bad Things Happen to Good People."
The difference is in the "When" not "Why."  Rabbi Kushner comments on this
in his book.  He says "why" is too hard to answer.  "When" implies that
bad things happen to all people and it's our response that in many ways
is what G-d helps us to do for ourselves.  For me, this has meant that
I can recover from something bad happening by doing some added mitzot.
Actually mitzvot (particularly helping other people less healthy than
ourselves) performed at this time can be very helpful to regain a sense
of self-worth and for perspective on one's own difficulties.


I am looking for someone with some experience sharing left-over packaged
and unpackaged food from a synagogue with homeless shelters.  Any halachka
and food handling guidelines would be appreciated.  Thank you.


End of Volume 17 Issue 89