Volume 20 Number 37
                       Produced: Wed Jul  5 22:13:42 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aneyvut [aneyvus] (absence of hubris?)
         [Bob Werman]
Fire, Plasma, Language, EM Radiation, and Water (MJ 20:34)
         [Andrew Marc Greene]
I was wrong. Very wrong.
         [Akiva Miller]
Request for information re: Nechama Liebowitz
         [Esther Baldinger]
Wife/Mother same name - small correction
         [Mechy Frankel]


From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Tue,  4 Jul 95 18:02 +0200
Subject: Aneyvut [aneyvus] (absence of hubris?)

The tone of some of the postings on m.j. confuses me.  I am sure from
the tone that we are reading thoughts of a gadol, but we later find out
that it is only a young yeshiva bocher.

I should have known!  The g'dolim preface their comments with l'aneyut
[aneyus] dati [dasi] ("in my humble opinion").  Not these posters who
"know" the answers.

Ah well, they will grow up, too.

l'aneyut dati,

Bob Werman


From: Andrew Marc Greene <amgreene@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 13:49:31 -0400
Subject: Fire, Plasma, Language, EM Radiation, and Water (MJ 20:34)

A few thoughts on Mike Gerver's posting in MJ 20:34

Among Mike's almost-exhaustive (pun intended) catalog of light sources
he omitted two other interesting cases: LEDs and lasers. The former is
actually even relevant to the discussion because many appliances use
LEDs to indicate their state, and this could be a problem on Shabbat!
I've forgotten exactly why LEDs glow... and depending on your laser, it
may or may not be hot.

It would perhaps be instructive to see how/if the halachic sources deal
with other forms of non-fire light: phosphorescence, for instance.

A related question to those raised by Mike is the one of whether using
the microwave oven to heat food counts as boiling water. Since the uwave
over works by emitting ~3cm waves that resonate the water molecules into
vibrating -- and since thermal energy most often is the vibration of
molecules -- then using the microwave oven even on seemingly solid food
would boil water. (This is an issue for those who do not consider the
use of electricity on Shabbat to be forbidden, but who would never boil
water on Shabbat.)

Finally, two excerpts from Mike's posting:

>     Before commenting on the particulars of these responses, I'd like
>clear up one minor point. Several people stated that I had asked about
>the use of flourescent lights for havdalah. This is not true. What I asked
>about was fluorescent lights. I assume that flourescent lights would only
>be a problem on Pesach. Sorry, I couldn't resist that. (This confusion
>wouldn't occur if they still required people to take Latin in school.)

>In principal, light bulbs could be designed so they do not burn out,

As it says in Mishlei, "Those who live in glass houses..." :-)

- Andrew

[PS - I'm as guilty as the next person...]


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 1995 02:19:13 -0400
Subject: I was wrong. Very wrong.

I was wrong. Very wrong. I wrote in MJ 19#80:

>... the father can do this only if his daughter is still below the
>age of bas mitzvah. (I have heard that the cutoff age might be 12 1/2,
>in which case I will have to retract the remainder of this
>paragraph. But I think the real cutoff is age 12.) Almost all areas of
>halacha, both financial and ritual, give much less significance to the
>actions of a minor than the actions of an adult. Accordingly, a boy
>below bar mitzvah age cannot enter into a marriage.  Under normal
>circumstances, a girl below 12 would not be able to either. In His mercy
>and wisdom, G-d provided a means by which young girls could get married,
>and this has saved many a girl from being raped by various government
>officials through the ages, for they would force themselves upon single
>or engaged girls, but not married ones. There were other situations as
>well, where it was beneficial for one's daughter to marry as early as
>possible, and the Torah gave the father (who is an adult) to do this on
>his daughter's behalf.

I was totally off the mark. In fact, the father can indeed marry off his
daughter until she is a bogeres. I am not sure whether "bogeres"
indicates an age of 12 1/2, or whether some physical signs of maturity
are required, but it is definitely past the age of bas mitzva. The
father's ability to do this has nothing to do with her being a minor and
unable to marry herself off. In fact, if I read the Shulchan Aruch
correctly, she is not able (on a Torah level) to marry herself off --
even if she is above bas mitzva age -- until she becomes a bogeres and
her father loses this ability! The Shulchan Aruch, as far as I could
find, does not do into much detail to explain why the father has this
ability, except to quote the relevant verse ("I gave my daughter to this
man") and to mention that until she becomes a bogeres, she is in her
father's "reshus" ("domain").

Several posters have mentioned their feelings about this aspect of the
father's relationship to his daughter, that she is in his domain. I'll
get back to this later.

It is written (perhaps in the Midrash or Gemara, I am sorry to be unable
to find the source) that once upon a time, the sages found that they had
the ability to destroy the evil desire for idolatry, and they actually
did so.  Then they chose to do the same for evil sexual desires, and
they destroyed that too. When they realized, however, that people were
no longer having children, they reversed that second action, so that the
world would continue.  As I understand it, this story teaches us
something important about idolatry.  People get a genuine physical
pleasure from acts such as eating. drinking, and sexual relations. The
same is true for idolatry -- or *was* true until the desire for it was

This explains why it is so difficult for us to understand certain
ideas. Why does the Torah constantly warn us against idolatry? Not
merely because it is so very wrong, but because (to those generations)
it was so very *enticing*.  But we simply cannot relate to that. We
cannot understand why anyone would even *want* to bow to an idol, or do
other idolatrous acts. But they did.  Imagine a person walking near a
temple of idol worship, and has to fight the urge to enter. That strong
urge was not an intellectual curiosity, but a physical desire, more
comparable to the urge to eat a tasty but forbidden food, or to have
relations with an attractive but forbidden person.

In all three of these areas (idolatry, food, sex) one cannot give an
intellectual explanation why one wants this thing, except to say that
"it tastes good" or "it feels good". We can no more use words to explain
the desire for idolatry than we could use words to describe the flavor
of chocolate. And so we are wasting our time trying to understand what
attracts someone to idolatry, because the desire for it has been

I would like to suggest that another concept has been totally and
utterly destroyed from our midst. This destruction may have been
accomplished in a different manner, but the results are similarly
drastic and far-reaching.

I am referring to specific relationships between people which were
understood as a matter of course by prior generations, but we simply
cannot relate to them in any way, shape or form, because these concepts
have been overthrown by western society in general, and the American
Declaration of Independence in particular.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of

"We hold these truths to be self-evident" -- Thus are we indoctrinated
and brainwashed to never question these self-evident truths.

Let's contrast that with some Torah concepts. Section 304 of the
Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, is titled "Which kind of eved must rest on
Shabbos". Now, "eved" is a loaded word. Prior generations had no problem
translating it as "slave". We relate to it differently. Indeed, the
Talmud gives so much preferential reatment to an eved, to protect him
from physical and even mental abuse, that the Talmud itself says that
"one who gets an eved has actually gotten a master." And so nowadays we
tend to translate it as "servant." Unfortunately, the word "servant"
creates the mistaken impression that an eved is similar to an
employee. But he is not.

The Mishna Brura there, in paragraph one, uses the following phrase
*twice* to distinguish between an eved (who is the subject of the
chapter) and an employee (who is not): "Eved hakanui l'yisrael kinyan
haguf" - "An eved acquired by a Jew, where the body is acquired." I'm
sorry folks, but I cannot come up with a more "politcally correct" way
to translate this phrase. The body of an eved is owned by someone else.

To my mind, this concept is extraordinarily repugnant. Imagine... A ben
adam ("human being", or more literally, "descendant of Adam") can be the
property of another ben adam. This "ownership" is not merely
semantics. If an eved finds an object in the street and picks it up, it
becomes property of his owner; if he appropriates it for personal use,
he has stolen from his owner.  If the owner gives his eved a wife (the
details of that are irrelevant for now) then the children are property
of his owner, and he has no rights to them when/if he is freed.

And the Torah sanctions this activity! We are taught that vows are
permitted but sinful acts which are to be avoided. Does it says anywhere
that one should not acquire an eved? Not that I have seen. Provided that
one treats his eved properly, there is nothing inherently wrong with
owning one.

This concept (slavery) is extremely foreign -- even repulsive -- to
us. It is important for us to keep in mind *why* it is so strange. The
reason why we have this reaction is NOT because there is anything
inherently wrong with it.  If there was something inherently wrong with
it, the Torah (written and/or oral, Torah-level and/or Rabbinic) would
have found some way to indicate that to us, as it did in so many other
cases. Rather, we have been brainwashed into thinking that there is
indeed something inherently wrong with it. This has been a complete and
total brainwashing, as powerful as the one which destroyed our desire
for idolatry. It has made slavery into a concept so utterly outlandish
that we cannot even figure out why it ever made sense to anyone, let
alone make sense to ourselves.

Let me reiterate that I am not giving carte blanche to the American
concept of slavery. What I am saying is that the Torah concept of
slavery -- where a human being works for me, and I have property rights
to that person's body, and I also have a great deal of responsibility
for treating that person properly -- is not inherently wrong. It is an
unfortunate situation to be in, (and we thank Hashem each morning that
we are not in that situation,) but it is not a criminally unfair one.

So too with the relationship between fathers and daughters. A daughter,
even past bas mitzvah age, is still in her father's domain, and this
gives him certain rights, priveleges, and responsibilities. This is a
difficult concept to understand and accept. From a certain perspective,
it is comparable to slavery. But we need to understand our perspective
better. We cannot condemn this relationship just because we aren't used
to it. The Torah's ways are ways of peace, and even if some individuals
pervert the Torah's goals, that does not mean that the father's ability
to marry off his daughter is inherently evil.

If we admit that the reason we do not understand idolatry is that it is
so far removed from us, and that the reason we do not understand slavery
is that it is so far removed from us, then we will accept that the
reason we do not understand child marriages is that they are so far
removed from us.

Summary: Instead of squandering time on a fruitless search for an
explanation of why the Torah gives such awesome power to a father over
his daughter, we should concentrate on ways to insure that fathers use
that power properly (as has already been instituted for slaves and their

Akiva Miller


From: <Esther_Baldinger@...> (Esther Baldinger)
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 95 14:51:00 EST
Subject: Request for information re: Nechama Liebowitz

I am posting this message for someone else who is interested in
biographical information about Nechama Liebowitz, especially where was
she educated, is she still teaching, and if so, where?

Responses can be sent directly to:  <Nathan.Bloch@...>

or to me at: <elb@...>


Esther Baldinger 


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 1995 21:52:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Wife/Mother same name - small correction

1. In an informative post, E.Teitz mentioned Sefer Chasidim as the
source for the wife/mother same name problem, citing some confusion
since "some texts have a reading only prohibiting three generations.."

2.  I think most (I haven't seen all) texts of Sefer Chasidim have that
reading which led the Chachmas Adam to conclude that was the only
proscribed case. The source for the commonly understood wife/mother
prohibition is actually R.  Yehuda's Tsavo'ah, commonly printed with
Sefer Chasidim and is generationally unambiguous. (more extensive
comments on this in Vol 20 #23).

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


End of Volume 20 Issue 37