Volume 17 Number 98
                       Produced: Wed Jan 18  1:06:23 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Body parts can be sold
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Celebrating Birthdays
         [Martin Friederwitzer]
Conservative/Reform Marriages
         [Joshua W. Burton]
Mikvah use by unmarried women? 17 #95
         [Neil Parks]
Motivation of Women in Judaism
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Source of Mitzva of Mila
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Unmarried women and mikveh
         [Sheryl Haut]
Wedding in shul and bat mitzvah
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 15:11:10 -0500
Subject: Body parts can be sold

I have read the enclosed article (Israel Shelanu, January 6, 1995),
translated it into English, and thought that the  MJ group would like to see
it too. This is a new issue, in the area of Jewish ethics in medicine, an
area which requires development. Comments please.
An halachik pesak (ruling): It is permissible to sell body parts if a saving
of life is involved.  By Nahum Geller 

Harav Itzhak Zilberstein, one of the important haredi authorities who is
the rabbi of the neibourhood of Ramat Elchanan in B'nei Brak, ruled in
an important pesak that it is permissible to sell body parts if the
motive of the seller is Pikuch Nefesh (saving life).

Harav Zilberstein also ruled that the recipient of the body part from a
cadaver should pay "mezonot" (food subsistance) to the family of the

This pesak was given as a result of an appeal to the Israeli Supreme
Court (Bagatz) by a Haifa youngster named Eliyahu Etri, who have asked
the court to permit him to sell one of his kidneys to an IDF disabled
veteran for the sum of IL 45,000.

In his appeal the youngster said that the disabled veteran needs the
kidney ASAP, while he himself is unemployed and in desparate need of the

Harav Zilberstein was asked as to the halachic stand on this issue, and
responded that in principle a man is not allowed to harm himself since
he is not the owner of his own body. He is therefore also not allowed to
sell or trade in body parts or even give them as a gift. However, if the
case is a case of pikuach nefesh on the side of the recipient, then not
only it is allowed but it is a mitzvah to do so.

"No person is obligated to contribute such an important part of himself
in order to save someone else, and therefore he is allowed to ask for
compensation for it" added Harav Zilberstein. By saying so he has, in
fact, permitted the receipt of money for body parts.

Some comments:

1. I have not seen the actual pesak, nor do I know Rabbi Zilberstein.

2. If any of the readers can get the actual pesak, it will be worth
while to read it. I can use a copy.

3. It appears to me that a one-to-one relationship is required under
this pesak (i.e., the giver must know the recipient). However, selling a
part to a human parts bank, which will use it for some unknown
individual might be the more efficient way of handling body parts as the
issue of compatability would be better addressed. It is unclear what is
the halachic stand on this. The bank uses parts for Jews and non-Jews
alike.  Would that make a difference?

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: <martin.friederwitzer@...> (Martin Friederwitzer)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 21:04:43 EST
Subject: Celebrating Birthdays

In the sefer TORAH L'DAAS, Rabbi Matis Blum quotes Gemara Moed Katan
28a; R'Yosef made a "Birthday Party" when he reached the age of 60. When
asked why, he said, " I have gone out of the category OF Korais (being
cut off)."  In the Sefer Leket Yosher, it is written that the Trumas
Hadeshen invited two Zkainim (older friends) to a Siyum (completion) of
a Mesechta and he also had in mind to include the festive occasion of
reaching 60 Years of age. In the Sefer Ben Ish Chai, it states that when
one reaches the age of 60 he should put on new clothing or eat a new
fruit in order to say Shecheyonu and have his birthday in mind as
well. Moishe Friederwitzer


From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 13:17:51 -0500
Subject: Conservative/Reform Marriages

Gedaliah Friedenberg asks:
> I have a better question: What about a conservative Jewish couple that
> marry.  She is a divorcee, and he is a Kohen.  Then they become
> Ba'alei Teshuva.  Since their "marriage" is forbidden, what do they do?  

More generally, one might ask the same question about an "orthodox" Jewish
couple, one divorced and one a Kohen, who secretly (or accidentally) 
contract a halakhically forbidden civil marriage and then have second 
thoughts.  Since there is not a single Conservative _or_ normative Orthodox 
rabbi on this planet who will willingly and knowingly officiate at such a
ceremony, the sectarian adjective here appears to be a complete red herring.

Stripped of this irrelevancy, the question intrigues me.  Does anyone know
of an actual case?

Joshua W. Burton     | |( ' )   |.| . |  ( ' ) | | | | | |   \  )( (  ) |   | |
(401)435-6370        | | )_/    | |___|_  )_/   /|_|   | |  __)/  \_)/  ||  |  
<burton@...> |                          ..      .     -    `.         :


From: Neil Parks <nparks@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 17:24:30 EDT
Subject: Mikvah use by unmarried women? 17 #95

        Freda B. Birnbaum said
>I occasionally hear of people who are either living together or sleeping
>together without being married, and the woman goes to the mikvah, but I
>am not at all aware of any rabbinical approval or recommendation of this

I have heard a Conservative rabbi suggest this, but I doubt that any
Orthodox authorities would agree.

Seems to me that an unmarried woman going to mikvah before engaging in
intimacy would in effect be preparing to do something improper--which
would not make the activity any less improper.

"This msg brought to you by:  NEIL EDWARD PARKS"


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:38:34 -0800
Subject: Motivation of Women in Judaism

Mr. Berger writes that he questions the motive of women who wish
to dance with the Torah, celebrate bat-mitzvahs, etc.  I, for one,
question the motive of people like him--how much of their objection
to women participating in Jewish ritual is based on chauvinism,
and how much on genuine halakhic concern?  This wondering of mine
is directly precipitated by his direct statement, "all questions
about permissability aside."  Since when does an Orthodox Jew throw
aside "all questions about permissability" in addressing a halakhic

Furthermore, (to address just one of the practices that he mentioned), I
have seen many, many fervent and frum women for whom dancing with the
Torah on Simchat Torah was a truly spiritual and joyous religious
celebration, if such a defense of the action (which is entirely
permissable by halakha) is needed.  But in fact, motivations and
thoughts may or may not be halakhically ignificant; a large segment of
Orthodox thought is of the opinion that the deeds bring one around to
the faith.  Perhaps based on this attitude, it would be even more
important for women of so-called questionable motives to be involved in
active religious practice.

Leah S. Gordon


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 17:10:33 -0500
Subject: Source of Mitzva of Mila

in response to danny skaist, re: use of pasuk from b'raishit as source of
mitzva of mila:

there is a general rule that the torah does not mention a punishment for
a commandment unless it writes the obligation to follow the commandment
elsewhere.  from this rule the use of the pasuk mentioning karait could
not be the source of the obligation because it is the source of the
punishment for transgression. hence the only pasuk to show obligation to
circumcise is the one from vayikra

'and on the eighth day his foreskin shall be removed' ( not an exact
translation, but close enough for our purpose ).


From: Sheryl Haut <0006665205@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 21:04 EST
Subject: Unmarried women and mikveh

     Freda Birnbaum asks about whether unmarried women are
allowed to go to the mikveh. A friend of mine went to a Rebbe
who was here from Israel, to ask for advice and a brocha, as
she was getting older and was still unmarried. His advice was 
to go to the mikveh. When she went to the sephardic mikveh and
it became clear that she was unmarried, chaos ensued and the
mikveh ladies did not allow her to enter. They tried to contact
the Rebbe who had already returned to Israel. She was very
embarrased by the whole incident. I guess the moral of the story
is, whether or not it is allowed, I wouldn't recommend it!
                                             Sheryl Haut  


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 14:06:16 EST
Subject: Wedding in shul and bat mitzvah

> >From: Micha Berger <berger@...>
> To me it would seem that the issue of "bekhoseihem lo seiliechu" (don't
> follow their laws) would have alot to do with WHY one is interested in
> creating the new practice.

Is there a basis in previous psak for this?

> I have similar misgivings about bat mizvah celebrations, women dancing
> with the Torah, and all-women tephillah groups. All questions about
> permissability aside, I wonder about motive. How much of these
> innovations are motivated out of a desire for Torah and opportunities to
> worship, and how much is the product of the women's movement.
> The discussion of "can we fit this into halachah" seems inherently
> wrong. You already predecided right and wrong. Halachah becomes just a
> detail to be worked with.
> Activities that try to force Torah into externally defined mores defeat
> the whole purpose of halachah. Halachah is supposed to define your value
> system -- not the other way around. The feminist who wants to innovate
> new mode of worship in order to satisfy the western definition of
> equality is practicing Conservative philosophy.

According to this line of reasoning, there should never be innovation or
accomodation of changed circumstances.  E.g. no prozbol, no selling
of chametz, no working around shmita by selling the land.  Possibly
we should not even leave fires lit, since the Torah explicitly says
that no fires should be lit in our dwellings on Shabat.  I could go
on and on about the plethora of rulings, practices and customs that
have become part of Jewish life over the ages which were not explicitly
there when Moshe received the Torah.

It's not previous halachic rulings alone that is supposed to define
your value system.  (Otherwise e.g., in the long period that women did
not learn even halacha, where were they supposed to get a value
system?)  It's an important and major component, but not the only one.
Jewish traditions, stories, legends and practices that are not
specifically prescribed by Halacha also define one's value system.
The respected leaders of each generation also play a role in defining
people's value systems.  The respected ideas of each generation too
play a role.  How to incorporate some of the changes in ideas and
outlooks in a way that maintain continuity, respect for and adherence
to the system is a real challenge, and that's ultimately the way in
which the leaders of each generation affect their own and subsequent
generations.  The right wing conservative philosophy is problematic
IMHO mainly in that it has failed to generate communities committed to
following (their) halacha.  That has less to do with any specific
halachic rulings and a great deal to do with the respect, love and
enthusiasm people develop for Halacha and Jewish life in general.

In summary, IMHO, rulings that truly increase the respect, love and
enthusiasm people have for Judaism and the Jewish way of life will
strengthen halacha, and rulings that result in disrespect for halacha
will weaken it.  IMHO, people react in the long run in accord with the
image of God in which they were created, especially the Jewish people.
Rulings based on a cynical outlook, e.g. people are too weak to do the
right thing, will ultimately fail to be accepted.  Rulings based on
integrity, e.g. this is a way of honoring halachik precedent and also of
accounting for e.g. the increased desire on the part of women for
increased participation in the communal and intellectual activities of
the Jewish community, may ultimately be accepted.  Any venturing into
the unknown involves risks and the path taken may be the wrong path, so
we don't know in advance what is the "right" or effective way to go
about something new.  No doubt there will be more than one way, and lots
of controversy to go along with it.  That doesn't per se make it wrong.

The feminist who wants a role in worshiping God, even in public
worshipping of God, in order to worship God is pursuing a worthwhile
goal, and to deny her the opportunity out of hand may be equivalent to
intentionally pushing people away from tradition.  There may be people
who are pursuing goal for less than worthwhile reasons, and that's a
shame.  It does not release us from the obligation to listen and respond
responsibly to people who are trying to forge an authentic relationship
with God in the Jewish tradition.  After all, it was only when some of
the people complained about not having the opportunity to bring the
Korban Pesach that God allowed them to bring it on Pesach Sheini.  So
too here, it may be that it's only when people actually express the
desire to worship God in a way that seems to be denied to them, that a
way is to be found to permit it to them.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


End of Volume 17 Issue 98