Volume 20 Number 87
                       Produced: Tue Aug  8  0:07:18 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Benefit of the Doubt for Non-Religious
         [Joe Goldstein]
Charedi Rabonim on the Peace Issue
         [Yakov Zalman Friedman]
Chillul Shabbat and Clear and Present Danger
         [Michael J Broyde]
Chillul Shabbos for a non-Shabbos Observer
         [Moishe Kimelman]
Experts and the Peace Process
         [Linda Kuzmack]
Experts on the Present Peace Process
         [Eli Turkel]
Rambam -- Mitzvat Yishuv Haaretz
         [Joseph Steinberg]


From: Joe Goldstein <vip0280@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 95 09:06:08 
Subject: Benefit of the Doubt for Non-Religious

Reb Shmuel asks if the rules of giving benefit of the doubt (HEVI DAN ES
KOL HOODOM LEKAV ZECHUS) applies to one who is not religious.  Although
I do not have the sources in front of me, I know that the rule applies
to person who has a CHEZKAS KASHRUS, a reputation for doing the right
thing. (Or someone who one does not know at all) However, when a person
is known to be a ROSHO, then he does not deserve the benefit of the
doubt.  Therefore Mr. Peres does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.



From: Yakov Zalman Friedman <bfriedman@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 13:23:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Charedi Rabonim on the Peace Issue

Regarding Mordechai Perlman's request for the opinion of the charedi
rabonim on the peace issue, Rav Simcha HaCohen Kook Shlit"a spoke at
Mordechai's own Yeshiva Ner Yisroel of Toronto shortly after the Oslo
Accords.(Actually, it was at the begining of the shmita year as I
recall.)  Perhaps Mordechai was not there that morning after shachris
when he spoke from the pulpit. What he said was that Rav Shach Shlit"a
as well as other charedi rabonim whom he did not name were fully against
the then current path of negotiations.  I would assume that there has
been no reason for any change of heart but that is only my personal
 Yakov Zalman Friedman


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 13:55:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Chillul Shabbat and Clear and Present Danger

There has been some discussion concerning when chillul shabbat is
appropriate in terms of statisitical likilyhood, and the notion of a
"clear and present danger" was articulated.  I think that a review of
the halachic sources indicates that that standard is markedly too
strict, in the sense that -- at least in American law, where the phrase
comes from -- it means a danger greater than 50%.  It is pretty clear
that halacha permits the violation of Shabbat for any significant risk
"safek, safek pekuach nephesh" even if its likilyhood is much less than
50%.  Thus, for example, most women can give birth to children in their
own bedroom without any assistance, and yet we would permit chillul
shabbat to go to a hospital.  So too, a deep wound in ones arm is rarely
fatal, but that is enough to justify disecration.  Shulchan Aruch
328,329,330 give many particular examples of cases where the risk is
less than 50%, and the disecration is permitted.  In a famous responsum,
Rav Unterman (shevet Meyehudah 1:8, my notes say) ruled that if the
level of risk is sufficently high that a normal person would give up
nearly all his money to avoid it, chillul shabbat is permitted.  Chatam
Sofer, on the other end, asserts that when the risk is so small that
reasonable people would take this risk for no reason anyway, chillul
shabbat is certainly prohibited.

Michael Broyde


From: <kimel@...> (Moishe Kimelman)
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 1995 12:42:35 +1000
Subject: Chillul Shabbos for a non-Shabbos Observer

There has been much discussion on mj lately about the propriety of
desecrating Shabbos for the sake of a non-Shabbos observer.  For what it
is worth, the gemara in Sanhedrin 73 and 74 discusses when a person may
kill another in order to prevent a sin taking place, e.g. one may kill a
would-be murderer if that is the only way to prevent the crime.

One opinion, R Elazar B'Rabbi Shimon, rules that in order to prevent
desecration of Shabbos the would-be desecrater may be killed.  (See
Tosafot d"h Chad on 73b re the paradox of desecrating Shabbos by killing
in order to stop desecration.)  Although all the other opinions reject
this view - and we do not rule this way - the reason for rejection is
due to a specific derivation from a passuk.

It would therefore seem logical to infer that whereas one may not kill
in order to prevent desecration of Shabbos, one need not do anything to
save the desecrater's life, certainly an act of desecration of Shabbos.



From: Linda Kuzmack <kuzmack@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 00:16:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Experts and the Peace Process

As a supporter of the Government's peace process, I would like to agree
with Shmuel Himelstein's argument that the lack of inside government
information on the part of the Rabbis from the territories invalidates
their psak, but I can't.  IMHO, the issues are not the sort that can be
decided by expert knowledge and are actually not appropriate for issuing
psak because nobody's opinion can be considered authoritative.

I would venture to speculate that, if these Rabbis had been given access
to all government information, it would not have changed their minds.
Not only that, if the leaders of Peace Now, say, had the same
information, they would also conclude that it confirms their own

There is even some empirical data along these lines.  During the Reagan
Administration, the political leadership of the CIA was concerned that
evaluations of the Soviet Union by career staff were too "dovish".
(Remember the Evil Empire!)  So they brought in a group of academic
experts who were known for their "hawkish" views, gave them access to
all the secret information, and asked for their evaluation.  They became
known as "Team B".  Lo and behold, they concluded that their previous
opinions were correct!

When dealing with a difficult political issue like the peace process,
experts can give us important information about the ease or difficulty
of defending Israel under various future scenarios, about the
constellation of forces in Palestinian society and how they might behave
in the future, etc.  They obviously cannot foretell the future.  They
can make reasoned predictions, but other experts with equally impressive
credentials but different political positions will make different
predictions.  There are risks of unfavorable outcomes whatever choices
we might make.  How an individual weighs the competing risks depends on
one's personality and experiences as much as any reasoned analysis.  A
taxi driver has as much ability to make such judgments as a general or
even a rabbi.

Consider a medical analogy: a person ch"v weighing a dangerous therapy
for a life-threatening illness.  A doctor can provide information about
the likely outcomes, considering the particulars of the individual case.
A rabbi can relate the insights of Jewish tradition to the individual
case.  Both can provide emotional support.  But only the person himself
or herself can make the decision.

What this line of reasoning implies to me is that there is no one policy
that is clearly right from the halakhic standpoint.  Any conclusions
depends on one's own judgment about both what is likely to happen and
what risks are worth taking.  Nobody can be sure that their judgment in
such matters is right.

Of course, a rabbi can have opinions about such issues and has as much
right as anyone else to advocate his opinion passionately.  Of course,
his opinions will have been influenced by his immersion in Torah.  But I
do not believe that he can make a valid claim that his position is an
authoritative halakhic ruling.


Arnie Kuzmack


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 11:56:16 -0400
Subject: Experts on the Present Peace Process

   Rafael Salasnik has a discussion on experts he says

>> Do Rabbonim always have full information in such cases?

   Well rabbis have to be informed before they make a decision. There is
a statement in the name of Chazon Ish that the hardest part of deciding
a modern question is getting the facts right, the rest is easy.  Rav
Moshe Feinstein spent much time with scientific experts before deciding
any medical question.  IMHO all opinions agree that one can abandon a
base in times of war when necessary based on military strategy. Thus,
the question is reduced to what are these necessary times and who
decides. It is easier to discuss a less controversial topic, medical

    There are numerous cases where rabbis need medical advice for
deciding a question, e.g. eating on yom kippur, performing death
threatening surgery etc.  What happens when the head of the hospital (or
rather chief of the appropriate section) makes a decision. Does the
rabbi start looking for alternate opinions? If one suspects that the
doctor is making his decision on a anti-halachik grounds then there are
precedents to ignore his opinion.  One certainly does not go
"doctor-shopping". Certainly if a certain procedure is very risky the
rabbi must take account of all experts and not say he relies on a
certain expert.  It seems to me that to pasken on abandoning bases one
must work under the assumption that the experts are divided on the
dangers.  To say that one set of generals are right and the others are
wrong seems to be establishing the facts to suit the decision.  One
rational decision is to rely on the chief of staff. Since the last chief
of staff recently joined the Labor party I assume it implies that he
agrees with their policies and was not just forced into supporting their
position. If one feels that the army personnel are not to be relied on
then one must give a a priori grounds for relying on someone else. It is
not legtimate for any group to rely on certain generals when they agree
with that opinion.

   Let me state in the strongest possible terms that I have no inside
information on how any specific rabbis reached their decisions.  I
emphasize that I am speaking in generalities and have no specific psak
or group in mind.

   I wish to strongly stress that the problem of expert witnesses is a
general problem not connected with this issue (or with OJ). I read a
while ago an article on minimum wage according to halacha. The author
relied heavily on the fact that expert economists agree that the setting
of a minumum wage is bad policy. Not being an economist I recall reading
that some economists disagree with this stand. I assume the author would
respond that either those economists are biased or else as an economist
the author "knows" they are wrong. However, as an outsider how does a
rabbi decide which economist is right?

   Instead of expert shopping Carl Sherer then talks about "pask
shopping" .  He hints that the psak of Rav Lau is not reliable because
he is a political appointment.

>> Thus in the last election for Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi there were three 
>> candidates - the coalition's (Rav Lau shlita), Rav Schach shlita's 
>> candidate (Rav Simcha Kook, shlita) and the Mafdal's candidate 
>> (Rav Shaar Yashuv Cohen shlita)

First to the best of my knowledge Rav Schach did not publically support
any candidate. Rav Goren stated several times that after he left the
office of chief rabbi there was no one else qualified to fill the
office.  Rav Shapira also stated that after he left the office he felt
no obligation to listen to his successor. The non religious have no
interest in a rabbinate and the charedi object to a "state" rabbi. Thus
it is only mafdal (Mizrachi) that have backed the chief rabbinate. In
fact part of their platform officially backs the chief rabbinate. If
they don't listen because it is a political office then I suggest that
Israel just eliminate the position.



From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 08:49:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rambam -- Mitzvat Yishuv Haaretz

The RAMBAM clearly held that settling the land of Israel is a mitzvah -- 
as in Hilchot Ishut he says that a man can divorce his wife with no 
Ketubah if he wants to make aliya and she refuses to go, and that a woman 
can force her husband to divorce her WITH a ketubah (i.e., with 200/100 
Zuz) if she wants to make aliya and he refuses...
Why he does not count Mitzvat Yishuv Haaretz in his Book of Mitzvot is a 
separate issue...


End of Volume 20 Issue 87