Volume 19 Number 48
                       Produced: Wed May 10 23:12:27 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Definition of death
         [Elhanan Adler]
Gambling (3)
         [Michael Braten, David Charlap, Joe Goldstein]
Mefarshim and Science
         [Mechael Kanovsky]
Organ Transplant Info
         [Mois Navon]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Tahara and Infectious Disease
         [Carolynn Feldblum]
Tahara Involving a Person Who Died of AIDS
         [Jonathan Meyer]
Taharos of an AIDS Niftar.
         [Stephen Phillips]
Two Long Psukim
         [Arthur Roth]
Yaakov and the spotted flocks
         [Barbara Schwab]


From: Elhanan Adler <ELHANAN@...>
Date: Wed, 3 May 1995 7:16:37 +0300 (EET-DST)
Subject: Definition of death

On the question of the definition of death: 

My son brought to my attention a discussion of this topic in
commentators on Even Ha-ezer (beginning of #17 - ba'er hetev, pithe
teshuvah) who discuss the question of someone who is definitely dead and
then miraculously brought back to life [as in Biblical story of Elisha
and the son of the woman of Tsarfat, Talmudic story of Rabba who
accidentally killed R. Zera while drunk on Purim, etc.] - Would his wife
be considered a widow? Would he have to remarry her?

Bottom line seems to be that death is a permanent state rather than an
event, and any death which is reversed (miraculously, medically or any
other way) is not considered death - at least in the context of marital

Elhanan Adler                Assistant Director, University of Haifa Library
*                                 Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel          *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-240535  FAX: 972-4-257753    *
*                                 Email: <elhanan@...>           *


From: Michael Braten <BRATENM@...>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 09:38:35 EST
Subject: Re: Gambling

> >From: <clkl@...> (Carolyn Lanzkron)
> Is gambling halachically prohibited? 

 As far as I know gambling is not prohibited.  It can prevent a person
from giving testimony before a Beit Din.  I am also aware that some
charity organizations have received rabbinic permission before they ran
'casino nights'.

MICHAEL B. BRATEN                    |   I HAVE NOTHING
TELEPHONE   (212) 305-3752

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 9 May 95 12:47:03 EDT
Subject: Gambling

<clkl@...> (Carolyn Lanzkron) writes:
>Is gambling halachically prohibited? 

 From every source I've learned, it is not permitted.

Gambling is considered "Bitul Z'man" - a waste of time.  Wasting
time is prohibited.  (This is the same reason that some rabbis prohibit
televisions and other modern-day entertainment devices.)

On top of that, there are additional kabbalistic reasons to prohibit
gambling with cards (as opposed to dice or slot machines or something.)

From: Joe Goldstein <vip0280@...>
Date: Wed, 10 May 95 10:57:50 
Subject: Gambling

  Gambling is definitely prohibited| At the very least it is a form of
theft. The halacha is ASMACHTA LO KANYA, i.e. When gambling no one
really expects to lose and as such does not really mean to give up his
money. And therefore when the winner takes the money that is theft. The
gemmora, when discussing those who are unfit to be witnesses include all
types of gamblers. There are many reasons for that. 1) it is a form of
thievery, as mentioned earlier and 2) Because they are not involved in
YISHUVO SHEL OLOM| (loosely translated as useful communal activities)

Hope this was helpful.                                                         

JOE (EXT 444)                                                                  


From: <KANOVSKY@...> (Mechael Kanovsky)
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 1995 20:16:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Mefarshim and Science

In response to the question concerning "mefarshim" and science. When it
comes to hard science i.e. math, physics, biology etc. I don't think 
that we have to assume that the sages from the past knew or were supposed
to know all that we know now. There are countless places in the talmud
that offer medical advice or that offer expenations based on scientific
facts that just are not true. For example in tractate "beitza" the gemorah
discusses an egg that was fertilized from the ground (safna de'ara) and
in other places they talk about creatures forming spontaniously. Even the
RAMBAM made medical mistakes. One clear cut case of such a mistake is in
tractate Nidah. The fourth chapter (I think) starts off with a mishnah
comparing the female genetalia to a lower room and upper room and a
connecting hallway. The mishnah does not state what three parts in the
womans reproductive organs do these three parts refer to. Rashi and
the Rambams commentary on the mishnah identify these parts in the same
way. According to this explanation the rest of the mishnah does not
make any anatomical sense at least according to me, Grays anatomy and
to some doctors that I showed this to (there is an explination given 
by Rabeinu Chanannel that makes perfect sense, anatomicly speaking).
  The Maharsha when talking about the medical advice given in the talmud
says that now a days (he lived a few hundred years ago) we SHOULD NOT
follow the advice given in the talmud because as he puts it "ha'tva'im
nishtanu" meaning that peoples physiology during the times of the talmud
were different than those in the Maharshas time. As far as I know the 
only difference between those two times was the scientific knowledge.
    There is nothing wrong in saying that previous generations including
the chachamim (sages) from those times knew less than we know about science
(in my opinion the reverse is true on subjects such as human behaviour,in
this field it seems that we are "discovering" things that were well known to 
our sages eons ago). This does not in any way belittle their greatness. When
Rav Mosheh zt"l was asked a question that related to medicine or biology
he consulted with his son-in-law Rav Tendler. If in fifty years from now
we come upon an answer from Rav Mosheh zt"l that was based on a wrong fact
does that in any way detract from Rav Moshes greatness in torah? I think not.
   On the other hand if someone was to come and say that he finds something
scientifcly wrong in the torah, that already is a different story, as the
old saying goes "to err is human ..."

mechael kanovsky


From: OPTI!RD!<MOISN@...> (Mois Navon)
Date: Mon, 08 May 1995 12:11:00 +0000
Subject: Organ Transplant Info

Request For Information:

Rav Baruch Rubanowitz (of Har Nof) is looking for materiel written by
Rav Moshe Tendler on the subject of Organ Transplants.  If anyone has
any information please write to me personally at

Thanks in advance,
Mois Navon


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 1995 14:49:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Purim

Lon Eisenberg mentioned that the Gra Shule in Har Nof kept Purim for 2 
days.. I would urge anyone interested to get hold of the book of Minhagim 
of Eretz Yisrael (I think it is called something like Ir Hakodesh 
V'HaMikdash) written by Rabbi Toktzinski (the author of the Gesher 
Hachayim on rules of Aveilut) where he discusses all of these customs and 
*he* certainly feels that there is a real problem keeping "2nd-day Purim" 
as far out as Har Nof...  At the "Etz Chaim" Yeshiva, they ended up 
reading the Megilla on both days...



From: Carolynn Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 10 May 1995 23:03:42 -0400
Subject: Tahara and Infectious Disease

In response to the AIDS virus, I'm not sure how long the virus can
survive outside a living body but it is a relatively short time. The
virus that I am concerned with is Hep B. and it can live several days
outside a living organism. Hep B can be deadly and can be easily
transmitted through a persons "mucous membranes". This means the ears,
nose and mouth. I am a dental hygienist, and just attended a conference
on these concerns just last week at St. Peters Hospital in New
Brunswick. As professionals, we were warned to be careful in terms of
cleaning our instruments and sterilization. We were cautioned to wear
gloves and masks to protect ourselves from Hep B, to make sure not to
rub our eyes or itch a tickle under our masks. This is to prevent
transmission of Hep B (and not AIDS). We were told Hep B had been found
to be transmitted to children in the womens rest room who accidently
thought the sanitary disposal was something they should be playing with.

My suggestion is people who are doing tahara should have a Hep B
vaccine, they should be educated in the transmission of the virus and
how to further protect themselves. They should wear gloves, masks and
protective glasses (regular prescription glasses should be sufficient
with side shields). This may sound like overkill but the virus is
transmitted through mucous membranes.

This is not to cause panic, but to educate and prevent any serious

Carolynn Feldblum


From: Jonathan Meyer <meyerj@...>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 17:51:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Tahara Involving a Person Who Died of AIDS

First, credentials: I am not a doctor.  I am a member of the chevra
kadisha in my community (Westchester County, New York) and have 18 years
experience in public health (with a graduate degree in same).

One should ALWAYS take precautions when performing a tahara, regardless
of what one knows of the deceased's cause of death.  These precautions
are called Universal Infection Control Procedures and are issued by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Federal agency based in
Atlanta, Georgia.  They were published in, among other places, the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and are available through
the CDC in reprint form.

HIV infection is not the only infection that is blood borne that can
result in disease and death.  In fact, the hepatitis B virus is far more
infectious than that of HIV.  Hepatitis B can result in liver cancer,
nearly always fatal.

Moreover, a person may be infected with HIV and may not have died of HIV
related infection (especially a problem if the deceased died in an
accident and there are open wounds).

Check with an MD, but NEVER be casual about blood, from both a halachic
and health perspective, regardless of what you know or don't know about
the cause of death.  If you have trouble getting a copy of the CDC's
Universal Infection Control Procedures, send me e-mail and I'll do what
I can.

Keep up the good work.

Jonathan Meyer


From: <stephenp@...> (Stephen Phillips)
Date: Tue, 9 May 95 15:18 BST-1
Subject: Taharos of an AIDS Niftar.

I am a member of the Kingsbury (London) Voluntary Chevra Kadisha. We operate 
under the auspices of the United Synagogue.

I believe that we would not be permitted to perform a Tahara on someone who 
had died from an AIDS related illness. The same would apply to anyone who had 
died from a dangerous communicable disease, eg. Hepatitis B.

Stephen Phillips.


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 10:16:45 -0500
Subject: Two Long Psukim

>From Hayim Hendeles (MJ 19:33):
> - that Rabbi Feinstein zt"l has (supposedly) said that if one reads 2
> long pesukim for an aliya (which is supposed to be a minimum of 3
> pesukim) you *may* be OK anyway, because in reality these may have been
> 3 pesukim originally. (Can anyone verify this psak?)

I can verify this.  I have seen the psak in writing first hand, although
I no longer remember the exact reference from Igrot Moshe.  It says that
one can rely on this in order not to have to lein over again if one
discovers b'dieved that only two psukim were read for one of the olim.
I have two problems with this personally:
  1. No effort is made to define "long", so even if one accepts the
psak, it is unclear whether it is applicable in any specific case.
  2. R. Moshe is assuming that some of the original psukim were combined
at some point in time to give us a smaller total number of psukim than
we had originally.  If this is so, I would expect that there would be
more of a tendency to mistakenly combine SHORTER psukim (so that the
resulting combined "pasuk" is of just average length, or perhaps just
slightly greater than average) than LONGER psukim.  I say this from
experience with respect to my early days of leining, when I was less
familiar with the kriyot than I am now.  For example, I was much more
likely to mistakenly use an etnachtah (roughly equivalent to a
semicolon) rather than a sof pasik (roughly equivalent to a period) if
the pasuk was short and contained no etnachtah to begin with.  I almost
never mistakenly "extended" a pasuk by using a second etnachtah instead
of the sof pasuk in a pasuk that contained an (earlier) etnachtah in its
own right.  Thus, I would think that a "long" pasuk (whatever that
means) is LESS likely to represent an inadvertent combination of two
"original" psukim than a pasuk of average (or just slightly greater than
average) length.


From: <rambam@...> (Barbara Schwab)
Date: Mon,  8 May 1995 21:05:43 GMT
Subject: Yaakov and the spotted flocks

Does anyone out there have scientific (genetic) explanations how Yaakov
manages to get so many spotted flocks?  I've already checked the Feliks
article in Encyclopedia Judaica.  This question is being posed on behalf
of a very gifted high school student.  Thanks to all.


End of Volume 19 Issue 48