Volume 21 Number 49
                       Produced: Wed Sep 13 17:42:53 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Definition of Orthodox
         [Aaron H. Greenberg]
First Amendment
         [Carl Sherer]
Sheva Mitzvot B'nei Noah
         [Steve White]
Sunshine Products
         [Harry Weiss]
Takkanat Hakahal - Regulations Adopted by the Community
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Aaron H. Greenberg <greenbah@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 1995 14:01:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Definition of Orthodox

Ari Belenkiy wrote:
> about foggy "responsa". We need to find principles under which all of us
> are ready to subscribe. I believe that such principles are two: Shabbat
> and Eretz Israel. The rest is a derivative.

Ari, it would seem to me that you are taking the words of our sage
Hillel and applying them to wrong Mitzvah.  -When Hilel was asked to
teach the entire torah while standing on one foot, he replied: Love thy
neighbor as thy self, the rest is all derivative.

It would seem as though the definition of orthodox you are seeking is
not relevant to Jews who cannot vote in Israeli elections.  It seems
that many people have been trying to philosophically identitfy elements
that would qualify someone as Orthodox, to find a common philosophical
thread, not a uniform badge such as a kipah.  You do not seem to be
interested in so much as defining orthodxy as finding a political
umberala that you feel will unite Israeli Jews against Rabin.

Firstly, a definition of Orthodoxy to meet political ends is not
something I feel should be done, neither in this disscussion group or
anywhere else.

Secondly, even if you did find the definition your looking for it would
not be useful in helping sink the current Israeli government.  Open your
eyes, there are many avowed secular Jews who would never be called
"orthodox" by any definition "Orthodox" but yet staunchly oppose the
current government.  And, then there are stricktly orthodox Jews who do
not see opposing Rabin's government as a clear-cut issue and I'm not
talking about Charedim.

Defining orthodoxy to meet a politcal adgenda will not do any of us any

Aaron Greenberg


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 95 19:54:15 IDT
Subject: First Amendment

Yossi Wetstein asks:
> Exactly what rights are we afforded under the first amendment with
> regard to supporting our religion (supporting- not literally). For
> example, if the SATs were not also given on Sunday, is that something
> for which one can go to court? Exactly what rights do we have, and what
> do we not have that may be based on institutional policy (a university
> not giving weekend exams as part of their own 'religious' policy).
> I'd appreciate a legal answer (from a mumche, if possible (expert)).

Although I'm a lawyer I have no more expertise in this area than two
Constitutional Law courses in law school some years ago.  I would
suggest you contact either (or both) Asher David Zweibel, the General
Counsel to Agudas Yisroel, or Marc Stern, the General Counsel to the
American Jewish Congress, both of whom are mumchim (experts) in this
area and fruhm Jews besides.

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 18:46:12 -0400
Subject: Sheva Mitzvot B'nei Noah

In V21#36, Joe Westein (<jpw@...>) writes:
>> >From: Adam P. Freedman <APF@...>
>> To carry this question to a different context. Here in California, we
>> are constantly called to jury duty. Is it simply my "civic duty" to
>> perform the job as well as I can (and is there a halachic basis for
>> civic duty, e.g.  dina d'malchuta dina), or does the fact that I get
>> paid $5 per day obligate me halachically to do the best job that I can?
>Besides dina d'malchusah, you are helping the non-jewish population be
>m'kayem (fulfill the obligation) their requirements under the Shevah
>mitzvos b'nai Noach (Seven Noachide laws).

Well, is that really true?  My understanding is that the penalty to a
ben-Noah (or bat-Noah) for violating any of the seven mitzvot is death.
If you, as a juror, sentence someone who violates one of these mitzvot
to something less than that, are you helping the ben-Noach government
fulfill its obligations, or are you being a mikhshol lifnei iver
(stumbling block before the blind)?

Actually, the Sheva Mitzvot seem to be a problem these days, at least in
American society.  While I'm certain there are many non-Jews who would
not dream of violating one, society as a whole seems to be _at least_
tolerant, and often more, over violations of many of these laws.  And
this for the laws which I was taught were "the minimum legal basis by
which any society could function."  Taking them one by one:

1.  Murder.  I'll admit that US society remains against murder.  But
there certainly seem to be an awful lot of circumstances under which
homicide is considered to be justified, or relatively so.  Even assuming
a non-Jew is allowed to kill a rodef (pursuer) -- and I don't know if
this is so -- that concept only applies under circumstances of
relatively proximate pursuit.  Now no one should misunderstand me: abuse
of another human being is as heinous a crime as I can think of.  But
just how loosely can one construe "pursuit," even in a terribly abusive
relationship, and still allow a homicide?

2.  Sexual Offenses.  There are plenty of controversial cases here.  But
even taking fairly obvious things, like adultery, society just kind of
shrugs this stuff off.  You can hardly get someone to condemn it, let
alone sentence someone for having committed an offense.

3.  Theft.  You can't even get the New York City Police to take down a
complaint below a certain point.

4&5.  Blasphemy and Idolatry.  Even assuming that Christianity and Islam
are not problematic here (and I do), the US Constitution protects
complete atheists.

6.  Courts of Justice.  As noted above, it is hard to get them to
sentence death for a homicide, no less anything else on this list.

7.  Eating the Limb off a Living Animal.  OK, I'll admit it.  This is
pretty much not a problem in the US.  At least one out of seven.

All right, I'll admit this was a bit dramatic.  And I'm not really so
bloodthirsty so as to want all these offenders dead, either.  But I
think it brings up some important questions, including:

1> What is our role with respect to these mitzvot?  Leave non-Jews
alone?  Encourage them?

2> What is our role with respect to legislation and justice.  Should one
be on a jury, or in Congress or in a state legislature?  If you should
be (or are, against your wishes), should you act according to b'nei Noah
standards?  Jewish standards?

      That latter is an important issue, as well.  In several cases, the
law is much more lenient for Jews than b'nei Noah.  In case of theft,
for example, Jews are _not_ usually subject to death, only compensation
and fines.  Would it be appropriate to legislate a law mandating death
for stealing -- given that _most_ citizens are b'nei Noah -- if Jews are
likely to be put to death under it?

3> If the Israeli government is _not_ a legitimate Jewish government
under Torah law, is it then a ben-Noah government, or something
different entirely?  (Note: this is a supposition for the purpose of
this question.  The status of the Israeli government in reality is
obviously the stuff of plenty of debate, both in mj and elsewhere,

Does anybody have any thoughts/sources on these tricky subjects?

Steve White


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 22:09:31 -0800
Subject: Sunshine Products

David Charlap states "Like Sunshine where the "K" is permissible if the
product was sold in the New York Area, but not elsewhere."  This
information is misleading.  Each Sunshine package has a code that
indicates which plant it was made in.  Kashrus Magazine several years
ago printed a list of which codes indicates which supervisor.  I no
longer have a copy of this, but the information may be available from
Sunshine.  If I remember correctly there are plants under the
supervision of Rabbi Ralbag (triangle K), the Kof K, and Rabbi Schick of
San Francisco.  It is better not to say in a public forum which is
reliable.  Everyone can check with their LOR for that information.



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 19:22:05 GMT
Subject: Takkanat Hakahal - Regulations Adopted by the Community

As I had mentioned in post a few weeks, there is one area which has not
been explored in the recent issues of MJ regarding a secular body's
right to impose its authority, and that is Takkanat Hakahal. The posting
below is a drawn in its entirety from an excellent article on the
subject in Menachem Elon's excellent *The Principles of Jewish Law*
(Keter, 1974), a book which is basically a "spin-off" of the
*Encyclopedia Judaica."

As Elon points out, Takkanat Hakahal is in contradistinction to the
Takkanot "regulations") adopted by rabbinic authorities. Takkanot
Hakahal are specifically regulations adopted by lay leaders. The
authority for such regulations is to be found in Tosefta Bava Metzia
11:23 and in TB Bava Batra 8b, where we are told that the community has
the right to control such items as prices and wages, and to impose fines
on those disobeying its regulations.

In this regard, Rashba (Responsa, Vol. 3, no. 411) states that with
every public, the majority has the right to make regulations, and the
majority "stands in the same relationship to the people of their town as
the people of Israel to the Great Bet Din (i.e., Sanhedrin) or the

Rabbenu Gershom Meor Hagolah (Responsa, No. 67) and others even go so
far as to permit Takkanat Hakahal which contradict the Halakhah in civil
and criminal cases. In fact, there are numerous cases where such
Takkanot were made that were not in consonance with Halachah, as the

a) Certain communities permitted the signature of the town scribe to be
considered as binding as the signatures of two witnesses on a document,
even though two witnesses are generally required to validate a legal

b) In some communities, people were permitted to act as witnesses about
taxes to be paid by them in their communities, even though they would
have a direct financial interest in the decisions reached.

c) Certain communities set a time limit within which a person might
submit a claim for ownership of a certain object, after which he would
lose his rights to the object. There is no provision in the Halachah of
a person forfeiting a claim to an object due to the lapse of time.

In this regard, one finds a very interesting construct, of which I was
unaware, that *Hefker tzibbur hefker* (i.e., the *community* has the
right to declare something ownerless, thus removing it from an
individual's possession), analogous to *Hefker bet din hefker* (that the
*bet din* has this power - the latter is a commonly accepted principle
in Jewish law.)

Another area discussed is the rights of the majority as opposed to those
of the minority. While there is a dispute among the Rishonim (early
medieval commentators) whether a rule can be made by the majority which
will bind the minority as well, most Rishonim believe that the majority
does have such a right. Some Rishonim differentiate between a community
- where the majority can bind the minority - and a professional or trade
guild - where the majority does not have such a right. As Rosh (Responsa
6:5) argues, "if it were not so (i.e., that the majority has the right
to impose its decisions on the minority) and the minority had the power
to set aside the assent of the majority, the community would never agree
on anything ... for when would the community ever be in unanimous
agreement?" (the more things change, the more they remain the same - SH)

The Rishonim also discuss a decision reached by the majority, where the
minority did not attend the meeting involved. Most Rishonim state that
the minority is still bound by such a decision, because either (a) by
not attending they have tacitly agreed to accept whatever decision will
ultimately be reached, or (b) any time a minority wanted to ensure that
a certain regulation did not apply to it, it could simply absent itself
from the deliberations, "a possibility that reason rejects" (Responsa
Avraham Alegre, Hoshen Mishpat 5).

Those selected to be on the governing body are, according to Rashba
(Vol. 1, No. 617), "persons chosen not on account of wisdom, wealth or
honor, but simply ... persons sent by the public to be in charge of
public matters."

Finally, there are three limitations placed on the community in passing
Takkanat Hakahal. These are:

a) All such legislation needs the approval of an *Adam Hashuv" (an
"important personage"). The Rishonim differ as to whether the person who
fulfills this function must be a learned Torah scholar, or simply any
important individual. Most Rishonim sem to feel that this position must
be filled by a learned Torah scholar, but one who is familiar with the
world - i.e., not an "ivory tower" scholar.

b) No legislation may be retroactive, and, in general, all Takkanot must
be in accordance with the principles of justice and equity.

c) The interpretation of any of the provisions of Takkanat Hakahal is
specifically delegated to Torah scholars.

Does any modern-day legislative body fit this mold? Given the proviso of
the need for an *Adam Hashuv*, it would seem highly unlikely, but at
least the paradigm given here for the enactment of Takkanot Hakahal
should offer us a model for what legislatures should be able to do in
accordance with the proviso of Takkanat Hakahal.

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
NEW ADDRESS: <himelstein@...>


End of Volume 21 Issue 49