Volume 20 Number 04
                       Produced: Thu Jun 15  1:57:49 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bar Mitzvah and adoption
         [Barbara J. Greil]
Electricity on Shabbat
         [Michael Grynberg]
         [Barak Moore]
Numbers leaving Egypt
         [Harry Weiss]
Rambam and Kabbalah
         [Michael Frankel]
Violating an issur d'rabbanan
         [Mordechai Perlman]
Yom Ha'atzma'ut
         [Ezra Dabbah]
Yom Ha'atzmaut et al.
         [Zvi Weiss]
Yom Haatzmaut on Shabbos?
         [Akiva Miller]


From: <GREILBJ@...> (Barbara J. Greil)
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 1995 13:04  0000
Subject: Bar Mitzvah and adoption

I hope the following request for information is within the purview of
this list.

Our son will be 12 this summer and we have begun making plans for his
Bar Mitzvah.  Our son is adopted and knows this of course, and thinks it
is no big deal.  It has always been part of his life and he seems
comfortable with it.  He was adopted as an infant and we have a
certificate of circumcision from a mohel in Rochester.  When he was six
he was was "converted" in a mikvah in Pittsburg, where a bet din was

Here is my question: What are our responsibilities and his with respect
to his becoming a Bar Mitzvah?  It was my understanding that a child
converted as an infant is not really converted until they become a Bar
Mitzvah.  Is this true?  Are we obligated to give him a choice about
whether to become a Bar Mitzvah?  I am pretty confident he would choose
to do this, knowing the kind of person he is and how much it means to
his family, but who knows with kids.

I would hate for our son to find out as an adult that he COULD have had
a choice about this.  As I said, I'm fairly certain he wants to be a Bar
Mitzvah, but I would like know the halachic interpretation of this.

We live in a rural, upstate NY college town and my husband and I are
unpaid counselors for Hillel.  There is no local rabbi (unless you count
my husband, who is the closest thing to a rabbi within 60 miles ).
There are very few Jewish families and subsequently, very few Jewish

In spite of this, my husband and I and the parents of the very few
Jewish children in this area have managed to provide Jewish education
for our children by either teaching them ourselves or hiring
knowledgable local college students.  Last year two girls were Bat
Mitzvahed and their effort was every bit as good as the B'nai (?)
Mitzvot I have witnessed in big city congregations.

We try to provide as rich a Jewish experience for our children as
possible given our circumstances both educationally and in the home.
But without a large cohort of kids in the same boat, our son often sees
his obligation to practice Hebrew as a terrific burden (but I am certain
this is not just a rural issue!)  His Bar Mitzvah will be only the third
one in Allegany County NY history!

Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.  Please respond
to me directly.  Thanks in advance for your help.

 Barbara J. Greil               
 <GREILBJ@...> (Internet)


From: Michael Grynberg <spike@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 10:46:40 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Electricity on Shabbat

My wife and I were wondering what the justification is for using 
electricity on shabbat in Israel. We assumed that someone must be 
supervising the power plant and the odds are that this person is jewish, 
so we would not only be benefitting from his work, but actually paying for 
him to it. Any heters that people are aware of?

mike grynberg


From: Barak Moore <szn2758@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 07:58:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Manna

If B'nai Yisrael ate Manna in the desert, why were they told to buy food
from B'nai Eisav (Dvarim), et al?


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 95 00:18:45 -0800
Subject: Numbers leaving Egypt

There has been some discussion regarding the number of Jews and the size
of the families in the desert.  These were the people who left Egypt.
In the beginning of Exodus we learn about the multiple births and short
gestation periods that caused the tremendous growth of the Jewish people
in Egypt.  This can also explain the relatively small number of first

The growth and the shares would be even more pronounced if you consider
one meaning of the word Chamushim (as mentioned by Rabbi Eliayhu Teitz)
in his posting.  This meaning is that only one fifth made it out.  If
one want to go to more extreme and really be interested in a situation
of crowding they should look at Chelek (Sanhedrin 111a) which quotes
Rabbi Simai as saying the arrival in Israel and the leaving of Egypt are
compared.  Just as only 2 of 600,000 who left Egypt entered Israel, only
2 out of 600,000 Jews actually left Egypt.  The remainder died during
the plague of darkness.

This means that there were 180 billion Children of Israel in Egypt.
(These are descendants of the 69 that entered less than three hundred
years earlier.)  This is 30 -40 times of the current population of the
entire world all living in one portion of Egypt.  (Even if you consider
the view of the Raibitz who said the 2 out of 600,000 refers to the
number of Jews that were ever in Egypt during the entire period, the
numbers are still amazing.)

Incidentally, the gemarra goes on to say the same proportion will apply
to the coming of Moshiach.



From: Michael Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 1995 21:31:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Rambam and Kabbalah

1. A poster (J. Goldstein, MJ 19 #90) recently referred to the tradition
that the Rambam did not know kabbala until late in his life, when he was
finally inducted into its mysteries. This is a fascinating, venerably
old, and demonstrably false conception.

2. Given the sheer other-worldly scale of the rambam's genius it would
surely not surprise some to learn his departure from this mortal coil
proved no great impediment to a continued, if posthumous, literary
output.  Public spirited and occasionally pious forgers merely steppped
into the breach. Some of the more blatant forgeries still get included
in modern collections of the rambam's letters (such as the ibn ezra fan
who concocted some/all of the rambam's tsavaoh to his son R.
Avrohom). Similarly, the rambam's supposed late conversion to kabbalah
would seem to be a product of particular literary fantasies promulgated
some generations after his death, with the first written accounts
attesting to this conversion surfacing only in the 14th century.

3. Two good references for this whole chapter are G. Scholem's
"Maichokair Lemekubal" (originally published in Tarbitz and available in
the reprint volume Mikra'ah Lechaiker Harambam, Magnes Press, 1985,
pp.90-98) and Moshe Idel's "Maimonides and Kabbala" in Maimonides
Studies, Harvard U. Press, 1990, pp.  31-79). Scholem's article in
particular tracks the rise of the rambam-as-kabbalist mythology and
literature, while documenting how foreign such a thought would have
appeared to actual kabbalists of the rambam's and immediately succeeding
generations. Idel discusses, amongst other matters, the rambam's role in
caltalyzing the surfacing of kabbala in this era. It is Idel's thesis,
that the kabblists, representing an authentically ancient esoteric
stream, were driven to daylight in this era as a necessary counterpoint
to the enormous influence of the rambam who was messing with their
unique turf (so to speak) i.e. the rambam's philosophically based
treatment of the sodos hatorah such as ma'asei bireishis and merkovoh,
seemingly as aspects of a false Aristotelian cosmology, now needed
countering with a more public promulgation of the true jewish esoteric

Mechy Frankel                                      W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                                H: (301) 593-3949


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 1995 20:28:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Violating an issur d'rabbanan

     Somebody wrote asking about what to do if one violates an issur
     The Nesivos Hamishpat writes that if somone violated an issur
d'rabbanan accidently (obviously there are some times that it is a
question of negligence and not accident) he does not need to do t'shuva.
The reason is because when a person vilates a I.D. purposely, he is a
rebel, he thinks lightly of the I.D..  (This is the explanation of the
Meshech Chochmo and Rabbeinu Yona) But when he does so accidently he is
not rebelling and the Rabbanan only were makpid on rebellion against
their words.  If someone trandgresses the words of the Chachomim
deliberately he is liable to death at the hands of Heaven (see Gemara
Brachos and Eiruvin)



From: <EDABBAH@...> (Ezra Dabbah)
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 18:37:27 -0400
Subject: Yom Ha'atzma'ut

When I read Megillat Esther I consider the main miracle of Purim
"balayla hahoo nadeda shenat hamelech" (that night the king's sleep was

When I go through the events leading to the creation of the State of
Israel the following event reminds me of a similar miracle. The United
States under Harry Truman was ready to vote for trusteeship under the UN
auspices. President Truman would not see Chaim Weitzman at all. It just
so happened that the President had an old jewish friend by the name of
Eddie Jacobson. (Jacobson; sounds midrashic!). Mr.  Jacobson convinced
the President to see Chaim Weitzman. After they met the President's
remark was "well you two jews have put it over on me. What do you
want?".  They argued for partition and the President agreed.

This single event in my mind more than any other paved the way for a


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 09:46:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yom Ha'atzmaut et al.

1. Of course, I recognize the importance of Hakarat Hatov (and, as
anyone who has seen some of my earlier posts knows, I am seriously
critical of the Charedi view that literally strips away ANY attept to
recognize the *good* that the Chareidim get from the secualr State of
Israel).  However, I must add that I was discussing the view of Yom
Ha'Atzmaut from a religious viewpoint.  No matter how much we value
Mordechai and Esther, the bottom line is that the *prayer* aspect of the
holiday is NOT focused upon them.  Look at Al Hanissim.  They appear as
characters -- the main ones -- in the Megilla but again there is no
explicit focus upon them outside of the story.  The only other mention
that we make is in Shoshanat Yaakov where we bless Mordechai and curse
Haman..  Similarly with Chanuka, the focus on the Chashmonaim is simply
non-existent in the Tefilla.
  Ironically, the less we focus upon "religious" observances (e.g.,
changes in the Tefilla) and the more we focus upon the day as a day of
Thanksgiving (se'udat hoda'ah/ learning/ etc.), the "easier" it is to
recognize our debt of gratitude to all who built *with the help of G-d*
(whether those builders recognize it or not).

2. I believe that Josephus states that there WERE parades at Chanuka
time -- I *think* that I heard this from Prof. Feldblum once -- [Avi --
can you check on this?] [I'll try to remember to ask him. Avi]-- so it
is not at all clear that Rab Bulman is correct in his characterization
of how people looked at the Chanuka events.  ON THE OTHER HAND, what Rav
B. *may* have meant was that after studying the situaiotn, the Chachamim
felt that a holiday WAS appropriate -- and that this calculation took
into account the way people had already started to clelbrate.  I think
that in this sort of situation, it would be far more instructive to get
Rav Bulman onto this list and ASK him.



From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 1995 22:01:38 -0400
Subject: Yom Haatzmaut on Shabbos?

In general, I agree with a great deal of what Zvi Weiss posted in MJ
19#88.  There was one point, though, which I would like to pursue
further. He wrote:

>7. I saw no serious response to the question of how the date of Yom
>Ha'atzmaut could be changed *halachically* just to avoid Chillul

Another poster, a few weeks back, compared this to the variable dates of
Purim. The first few pages of Gemara Megilla demonstrates, based on
wording contained in the Book of Esther itself, that under certain
circumstances, the Megilla may be read any time from the 11th to 15th of
Adar. At first glance this comparison from Purim to Yom Haatzmaut is
untanable, because the variable dates of Purim are not a new innovation
designed simply to avoid Shabbos problems.

But I am not so sure now. Consider this: The halacha's permission to
read the megilla on days other than Purim itself was not dreamed up out
of thin air, but it has firm grounding in the megilla itself. Mordechai,
who wrote the megilla, did not simply ordain Purim for the 14th and 15th
of Adar. Rather, from the very beginning, he allowed it to be read as
early as the 11th, and even wrote this permission in the megilla itself
(provided that you read between the lines and follow the gemara's

Now here is my question: Why did Mordechai do this? Why did he allow the
megilla to be read so early? What is the logic in celebrating Purim (or
any part of Purim) on a day other than the day on which the Jews rested
from the battle and overcame the danger of Haman's Holocaust? What? Read
the megilla on the 13th? That was the day of the battle! Ridiculous! On
the 11th or 12th?  Now that is *totally* absurd -- those days have no
obvious connection to the Purim miracle at all!

Nevertheless, for (what appears to me as) purely socioeconomic reasons
involving how often villagers travelled to the city, halacha sanctions
the original decision to allow the megilla to be read on days other than
the one on which the miracle occurred. So why not allow religious
reasons to push Yom Haatzmaut a day or two early?

Summary: Can someone explain why Mordechai allowed the Megilla to be
read on days other than the obvious choice, and could that answer apply
to Yom Haatzmaut as well?


End of Volume 20 Issue 4