Volume 18 Number 98
                       Produced: Wed Mar 22 21:52:53 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [David Charlap]
Is G-d Perfect?
         [Ari Belenky]
Kiddush in Shul 18 #91
         [Neil Parks]
Preserving privacy (of converts and others)
         [Freda B. Birnbaum]
Wasting Time (MJ 18:80)
         [Akiva Miller]
Wasting time / Leisure time
         [Steve Albert]
Yisroel/Yaakov - Use in Torah & T'fila
         [David Phillips]


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 95 14:07:06 EST
Subject: Bathrooms

<DONIZ@...> (Doni Zivotofsky) writes:
>In response to Steve Albert's query about gloves and handwashing:  In
>the upcoming edition of the Journal of Halachah and Contemporary
>Society  (this is becoming a common answer on this list) there will
>be an article on issues of halacha and modern plumbing and washing in
>the bathroom is dealt with.
>R. Moshe , R. Ovadia Yosef, R. Waldenberg and the Hazon Ish all have
>reservations about washing in the bathroom.  That may be why
>R. Tendler wears gloves (like his Father-in-law?).  Many other
>contemporary poskim such as R Henkin and R Wolkin permit.  One can
>see the article for further details.  

This brings to mind some interesting questions:

- What defines a room for these purposes.  For instance, if the toilet
  is behind a door (like the stalls in public bathrooms), is it
  considered in a separate room?  Could you wash in a bathroom where
  all of the "unclean" equipment is kept within stalls?
- If yes, do the stall walls/door have to go all the way from the
  floor to the ceiling?  The ones in most public bathrooms don't.
- Also, does this mean the door must be closed whenever possible?
- If so, then is it a requirement to keep your bathroom doors shut
  when washing elsewhere in your house?  Or is the presence of a
  doorway with a closeable door enough to separate an "unclean" room
  from a "clean" room?


From: <belenkiy@...> (Ari Belenky)
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 95 00:26:05 PST
Subject: Is G-d Perfect?

Elliot Cohen asked: Is G-d Perfect?
I'd say "yes" because we do not know his vices (but "Jealous" G-d ?!)
(Sophists of the Old School will immediately catch me up charging 
with elementary mistake of the "double rejection".)

The He still gave us a more serious hint repeating "Hashem, Hashem.."(Ki Tissa)
In this double "Hashem" He meant (Tosafot?) that everything is al'right 
with Him, do not worry.

Why then the word "perfect" was not mentioned?
Surely (Chafetz Chaim?), to teach us modesty: "I am Hashem, Elokeinu!"
(As we, in our turn, teach our children).

Gnostics conjectured that He merely did not know the word "perfect"
which was just another word for His Torah or merely one of His 100 names
(this one, in quotation marks, became vague and disappeared from the

In all my humility I would like to remind a phrase which always offences me
when I see it in the Book: "And Aaron kept Hhis peace" (Shemini).

Ari Belenky


From: Neil Parks <nparks@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 95 01:19:45 EDT
Subject: Kiddush in Shul 18 #91

In Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem, Philip Birnbaum explains the custom as follows:

"Kiddush recited by the Reader in the synagogue has its origin in the period 
when strangers were given their Sabbath meal in a room adjoining the 
Synagogue.  Abudarham, writing in Spain early in the fourteenth century, 
says: 'As our predecessors have set up the rule, though for a reason which 
no longer exists, the rule remains unshaken.' "

Not long ago, I went to Kabbolos Shabbos at a shul which uses the Artscroll 
Nusach Sfard siddur.  Not only did they not make kiddush, but I didn't even 
see it in the siddur where I would have expected to find it before Alenu.

....This msg brought to you by:
     NEIL PARKS  Beachwood, Ohio    <nparks@...>


From: Freda B. Birnbaum <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 14:12:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Preserving privacy (of converts and others)

Someone responded to my post on preserving the privacy of converts,
via private email and I think also to the list but I've mislaid that
issue in the process of cleaning out my directory preparatory to our
VAX biting the dust in "favor" of a Unix machine :-( so I will just
summarize here and respond to the person's question.

The poster recounted a great deal of experience backed by rabbinic
advice to drop the "Avinu" when giving an aliya, and some heavy-duty
rabbinic advice to use just "ben Avraham" on a kesuba as well.  (I
recall a post from a convert a while back on mail-jewish saying that
that had been his experience as well, the "Avinu" wasn't necessary on
the kesuva.)

>My own resolution of the need to honor the convert's privacy with the
>publicity of the matter, has been to be discrete.  I prefer not
>talking about others, save for where there is a need or it is
>complimentary to the subject.  A particular instance of need may be
>within the realm of shiduchim.  I'm sure there are others.  I don't
>recall ever hearing that one may not disclose the fact that someone is
>a convert without permission, even though I had been told by a convert
>that she did not appreciate it when others disclosed her being a
>convert.  I do not believe that a convert can rightfully demand the
>silence of others.  However, discretion and consideration of another's
>feelings is just common sense.

I don't have sources as I heard this talk given many years ago, but
I was present at a talk given by a woman who had converted to Judaism
the person giving it was quite emphatic that the case was that the
information was private.  (I don't recall whether she gave sources or
I've forgotten them.)

>I would be grateful if you would let me know what other opinions and
>responses you get.  There is always more Torah to learn.

I just yesterday saw in the current edition of _Tradition_ (V29N1,
Fall 1994), in R. J. David Bleich's column reviewing current halachic
literature, in the course of an article about HIV screening of newborn
infants, the following points (taken from the discussion on pp. 78-79,
paraphrased except where quotes are used:

   There is no absolute right to privacy regarding any and all matters,
   but certain rights of privacy are unparalleled in other legal or moral
   systems.  "Most striking is Judaism's recognition of a nearly absolute
   privilege of confidentiality. [... textual discussion follows...] ...
   serves to establish a formal obligation to regard the communication of
   any personal or proprietary information as confidential unless
   permission for disclosure is explicitly granted."

   "In Jewish law, the privileged nature of communication is not limited
   to attorney-client, physician-patient, or priest-penitent
   relationships and hence is far broader than in other legal and moral
   systems.  Nevertheless, the privilege is neither all-encompassing in
   scope nor is the privilege, when it does exist, absolute in nauture."

   He then goes on to discuss that in relation to certain public-health

This discussion was not about the specific qustion I asked but does
throw some light on it.  I don't have any more specific information
than this and would be quite interested to see what turns up.

Freda Birnbaum


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 14:42:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Wasting Time (MJ 18:80)

>I'm interested in sources and contemporary sociological observations on
>wasting time and leisure time in various observant communities.

I am glad you made this distinction here, because the rest of your post
is much less clear. In your research on this question, you must be
careful not to confuse the two, because "wasting time" (by definition,
regardless how you choose to define it) is clearly (to me at least) a
violation of bal tashchis.  "Leisure time", in contrast, can be viewed
as a productive activity, in which the person regains strength and
"recharges their batteries".

I make the above distinction in order that you more clearly understand
the following source.

Sometime in the latter 1970's, a staff reporter for Rolling Stone
magazine saw the changes in her brother as he became a Baal Tshuva
attending Aish Hatorah in Yerushalayim. Struggling with her own
questions of faith, she chose to go there, spend some time with her
brother and the yeshiva, and attempt to write an objective article about
it for Rolling Stone. She did indeed write and publish a very long
article, which I have unfortunately lost. (You can probably get a copy
from Aish Hatorah.) But one excerpt from it made a strong impression on
me, and I will now quote it, from memory, for you.

She was discussing the nature of sin with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Noach
Weinberg. Rav Noach said, "You know how Jews define sin? It is insanity!
The Talmud says, 'No one sins unless he is a bit insane.' Take stealing
for example. Who in his right mind would steal what belongs to someone

"What about more minor sins?", the reporter asked. "Wasting time, for

Rav Noach answered, "Wasting time is a very major sin. It is a kind of


From: <SAlbert@...> (Steve Albert)
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 17:12:57 -0500
Subject: Wasting time / Leisure time

    I wrote to Aleeza Berger in response to her post (MJ 18:80, March 5)
about leisure activities in the frum community, and she suggested that I
post the comments to MJ.
   First a general comment, then some anecdotal evidence.
    One of the questions was, essentially, what people did to relax if
their communities frowned on TV, movies, or even all non-religious
pursuits.  There is an assumption there (I think) which we should
consider carefully, namely, that one cannot relax by engaging in study,
prayer, acts of chesed, etc.  To me, the essential requirement for
recreation seems to be engaging in an enjoyable, non-stressful activity;
might not some people be able to do this in ways that are also
considered mitzvos? (To take an easy example, what about having guests
or visiting others for Shabbos meals?)
    I'll grant that very few people would be lucky enough (or spiritual
enough) to be able to always relax, and satisfy all their needs for
relaxation this way, but (1) there may be some people like that, and,
more important, (2) for many others, such behaviors will satisfy at
least part of their needs for relaxation. (Incidentally, I'm an
Economist, not a "pure" social scientist, as you might suspect from my
approach to your question.)
     Now, for my own experience: I think most of those who identify as
Modern Orthodox would not object to TV, books, etc., and would argue
that relaxation is necessary for one's (mental) health, and so serves a
positive purpose and is not forbidden.  In frummer circles, I have still
seen many people who read, watch TV, or go to movies.  (Some of my best
movie recommendations have come from the son of a former Rosh Yeshiva at
a major American institution, who himself teaches or has chavrusas at
several yeshivas, and who was honored at a dinner a few years ago by the
local kollel for his contributions (non-monetary) to the community.
Others have come from a well-respected shul rabbi whose sons are all in
yeshiva or kollel.)  I suspect, however, that this is less common in
younger people (under 30) than among their parents' generation, though
it has certainly not disappeared.

Steve Albert (<SAlbert@...>)


From: <davidp@...> (David Phillips)
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 95 12:52:51 EST
Subject: Yisroel/Yaakov - Use in Torah & T'fila

First of all, my apologies for writing about something so old.  I am
reading "mail-jewish" on hardcopy and was being supplied with a few months'
worth at a time.  I believe that although the posting I am responding to is
old, it has not yet been addressed.  My apologies if I'm wrong.

In V17N4, Yehuda Harper poses the question:
>... we say (in Shemona Esrai) Avraham, Yitzchok, v'Yaakov"
>instead of saying ...v'Yisroel."  Why is it assur to call
>one of the patriarchs (Avraham) by his former name (Avram) but ok
>to call another (Yisroel) by his (Yaakov)?

This question was related to Jay Bailey's question that there seems to be
no rhyme or reason when the Torah uses the name Yaakov or Yisroel after the
name change.

The pamphlet "Tefila B'Kavanah - Tefilat Shmoneh Esrai" (Prayer with
Concentration - The Blessing of the 18 Benedictions) published by Pirchei
Agudath Israel of America (84 William Street, NY NY 10038) relates from the
"Sefer HaZikaron L'Hamagid M'Trisk":  " The Sages reply that there are 26
letters in the Hebrew words 'Elokey Avraham...v'Elokey Yaakov," which
correspond to the numerical value of Hashem's Holy Name.  However, if the
name Yisroel were substituted for Yaakov, there would be 27 letters.  This
is alluded to in T'hilim, 124:1, "Lulei Hashem she'haya lanu yomar na
Yisroel," "if it weren't for the name of Hashem we would now say Yisroel."

I remember hearing in one of the Shabbos drashos by Rabbi Harold
Kanatopsky, A"H, then rabbi of the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway in
Brooklyn (later rabbi of the Young Israel of West Hempstead) about 40 years
ago.  He provided an answer to Jay Bailey's question.  The gist is that the
Torah used the name Yisroel when the context related to (1)Klal Yisroel -
the nation itself as a nation.  When the context related to (2)Yaakov
himself in a personal manner, the name Yaakov is used.  Examples of (1) are
Bereishis 32:30, 31, 33; 33:10, 17, 18; Chapter 34, all following the
proclamation of the angel in 32:29.  After Hashem confirms the blessing in
35:10, the first mention of Yisroel is in 35:21, then 35:22 (twice).  In
these cases all the tribes are referred to (in their journey and
settlement), hence Yisroel.

--- Naftali Teitelbaum (<davidp@...>)


End of Volume 18 Issue 98