Volume 22 Number 69
                       Produced: Thu Jan  4  0:51:44 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Puzzlement regarding Mamzerut
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Banning Smoking
         [David Riceman]
Hearing Aids and Shabbos
         [Hannah Gershon]
Kosher slaughtering - painlessness
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Milah and Disease
         [Lisa Halpern]
Rav Baruch Ber
         [Hillel Raymon]
Shiluach Ha'Kan
         [Carl Sherer]
Subscribe to mj-ravtorah
         [Josh Rapps]
Tehillim  51.7 and Original Sin
         [Mr D S Deutsch]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 11:00:49 +0200 (IST)
Subject: A Puzzlement regarding Mamzerut

Today's (January 3) Jerusalem Post carries a very interesting article. 
In full, it reads:

Rabbinical Court Allows 'Agunah' to Marry

A special rabbinical court on *agunot* ruled last week for the first
time that a woman who may be the product of an adulterous union could
marry a Jewish man in a religious ceremony. The woman was about to get
married, but a short time before the wedding the Tel Aviv Rabbinate
discovered she was on the "black list" of those under review who may not
be able to marry here, and the wedding was called off.  Afterwards, the
woman met another man and appealed to the (rabbinical - SH) court to be
allowed to marry him. The Tel Aviv court referred the case to the
special rabbinical court in Jerusalem, which made its decision.

<end quote>

The article, though, is very strange, due to what it *didn't* say - and
to what it did say. The fact that this case came before a special
rabbinical court for *agunot* and the fact that the woman was on some
type of "blacklist" leads me to believe that she might have been married
before and was indeed an "agunah."

While that may explain why she was turned down the first time she
wanteed to marry, the article leaves unsaid the main point: why the
special rabbinical court then permitted her to marry.

If she was indeed considered an *agunah,* one must assume that the
special rabbinical court found some way to rule that the woman is not an
*agunah* - in which case, a) the headline is incorrect, and b) the blurb
about "for the first time" in the first sentence of this article is

Of course, all of this leaves an even more puzzling area unanswered.
Assuming that the woman was indeed thought to be an *agunah,* what is
that reference in the article of her being "the product of an adulterous
union"? Is the problem then one of Mamzerut, and not of *agunah*? Why,
then, a rabbinical court for *agunot*? And on what basis did the
rabbinical court reverse the original decision?

Something tells me that this article illustrates quite well the
fallibility of newspaper reporters.

If anyone "in the know" about this case would elucidate matters, it
would be greatly appreciated.

           Shmuel Himelstein


From: <dr@...> (David Riceman)
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 14:59:47 EST
Subject: Banning Smoking

A friend once asked me this, and I'll translate it into a current
discussion.  We know that doctors change their advice seasonally.  Is
it proper to inscribe current medical consensus as halacha when we
expect it to change any year? This problem actually exists: the Talmud
advises against eating vegetables.  The Rambam devoted a whole chapter
of Hilchoth Deoth to medical advice, some of which, I imagine, is still
useful, but much of which may now be thought to be bad advice
(e.g. don't eat fruit).  Is smoking really any different? We may have a
halachic obligation to preserve our health, but is it proper for poskim
to prescribe specific treatements?

David Riceman


From: <GERSHON@...> (Hannah Gershon)
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 1996 17:28:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Hearing Aids and Shabbos

   Someone recently asked about the difference between digital and
analog hearing aids on Shabbos.  The poster also mentioned cochlear
implants.  I suspect that it was my own posting to another list that
prompted the question.  I have also previously posted to this list
concerning cochlear implants.
   The other poster confused cochlear implants with digital hearing
aids, and I want to make it clear that they are two entirely different
things.  The *only* similarity between digital hearing aids and cochlear
implants is that they both utilize digital technologies.
   *All* hearing aids must be turned on before Shabbos begins and left
on all of Shabbos.  *Many* poskim do not allow the use of many *types*
of digital hearing aids because of the fear that adjusting the volume
causes "active" changes in the circuitry.  There are *at least* 10
different types of digital hearing aids, and each type must be evaluated
    A cochlear implant is an entirely different animal.  It bears little
resemblence (technically) to a conventional hearing aid.  Half on its
components are surgically implanted inside the body of the user, and the
other half of the components are worn externally, with *some*
resemblence to a conventional body hearing aid.  The two halves must be
put together in order for the whole thing to work.  As such, there are
problems with boneh (building), nolad (making a new thing), makah
b'patish (finishing a thing), and tikun keilim (fixing or finishing a
device).  There very well may be a host of other Shabbos conflicts, but
these are the ones that have been identified by my Rav so far.  My Rav
is continuing to investigate the whole issue.  (I am deaf myself and
will be getting a cochlear implant soon, b'ezras Hashem).  At this
point, my Rav expects that his final p'sak (decision) for me is that I
may NOT use the cochlear implant on Shabbos UNLESS a Gentile puts the
external components on my head and takes them off of my head (when I
want to go to sleep, because they are too cumbersome to sleep
comfortably with them attatched).  He has not made his final decision
yet, though.
    I just wanted to clarify how a cochlear implant is very different
from conventional hearing aids.
  -- Hannah Gershon   <gershon@...>


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 11:52:54 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Kosher slaughtering - painlessness

In the late 1950s and/or early 1960s, Rabbi Munk, za"l, the founder of
Camp Munk, was involved with Cornell University in a study of ritual
slaughtering and pain. I remember that this work included attaching
electrodes to the animals' brains before slaughtering them.

I would imagine that further information about this may be gotten from 
his son, Rabbi Eli Munk.

           Shmuel Himelstein


From: <ohayonlm@...> (Lisa Halpern)
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 1996 12:59:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Milah and Disease

I would like to respond to Zvi Weiss' inquiry re: epidemiological studies 
of blood-borne disease transmission during milah.
 I did a literature search on the complete Medline, an online listing of
medical journal articles.  I used the combined keywords Jews and
circumcision.  Apparently no articles have been produced (since around
1965, which is, I believe, how far medline archives go) that discuss any
such transmission - indicating that no research has been done, either.
Respectfully I want to point out that this -by no means- indicates that
it is a safe practice to do metzizah b'peh: it is commonly known in all
research fields that research is costly, and grants are apportioned
(ideally) to the largest problems, and less ideally, to particular
interest groups with more political influence (not to mention that
funding has to be applied for in the first place).  It is unsurprising
that no research has been done in this area for two reasons: the belief
that Jews "don't have such diseases"; and second, similar to the
situation that until fairly recently medical research was not done with
black/female/other non-white male subjects (or on disorders not
white-male specific), milah in conjunction with transmitted disease
complications hasn't been studied.
 Nonetheless, CDC/OSHA (Centers for Disease Control/Occupational Safety
and Health Administration) standards on Universal Precautions for
blood-borne diseases STRICTLY FORBIDS mouth pipetting of any body fluids
(in fact, this idea is thought so ludicrous that in the dull required
video for all practitioners, at the scene where this practice is shown
and decried, my nursing classmates all laugh!).  Kal v'chomer that
direct metzizah b'peh would be considered dangerous and completely
forbidden by the legal workplace standards for all health professionals
- which mohelim should consider themselves.

By the way, my initial question concerning blood-borne disease and Jewish 
practice was related to niddah poskim and their risks - thanks to those 
who have responded.  Does anyone have anything else to share?
Thank you very much.

Lisa Halpern


From: <Raymhill@...> (Hillel Raymon)
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 20:09:34 -0500
Subject: Rav Baruch Ber

Shlomo Pick writes in m-j 22:66:

> In mail jewish 22:47 and then repeated again in 22:55 there was a story
>Rav Boruch Ber was a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva R. Yitzchak Elchanan (=
>Y.U.).  I know that in 5688 (=1928-29) the year of the founding of the
>college that R. Shimon Shkopp was the rosh ha- yeshiva after the Metiza
>Ilui was suddenly niftar (died).  I have spoken with Rabbi
>Prof. E. Rackmann concerning his year of study, that year under Rav
>Shimon, who then learned nedarim.  I have yet to hear that R. Baruch Ber
>was rosh yeshiva at RIETS, and hence, I would like documentation of

Shlomo is quite correct in his query.  When I posted my response (in 22:55)
to my cousin Eliyahu's original posting (in 22:47), I chose not to publicly
correct the implication in Eliyahu's story that my grandfather (Rav Elozor
Mayer Preil) and Rav Baruch Ber were contemporaneous colleagues at Yeshivas
Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan (RIETS), as it was not relevant to the thrust of
the story re kol isha, but now that Shlomo has raised the issue ...

Rav Preil was "the" rosh yeshiva at RIETS for several years, but he left
RIETS in 1921.  Rav Shimon Shkop was, as I understand, "the" rosh yeshiva at
RIETS at the time Shlomo mentions.  Rav Baruch Ber was never "the" rosh
yeshiva at RIETS, or even "a" rosh yeshiva there.  Rav Baruch Ber made an
extended visit to America in 1929-30 for purposes of fund-raising.  While in
America, he was a guest at least twice at the home of Rav Preil---once over
Shabbat, and once over the Shmini Atzeret-Simchat Torah yom-tovim.  During
that period of time, he was most likely invited by Rabbi Revel to give a
"guest" shiur (lecture) at RIETS, as was customary when such a gadol was
visiting, but he did not teach a regular class at RIETS (Rabbi Rackman might
be able to confirm this).  Thus, the "RIETS connection" between Rav Preil and
Rav Baruch Ber was insubstantial, noncontemporaneous and merely coincidental.

Hillel Raymon <raymhill@...>
Highland Park, NJ


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 96 7:49:48 IST
Subject: Shiluach Ha'Kan

Aharon Manne writes:

> The Sefer HaHinuch explains the law of sending away the mother bird
> ("shiluah ha-ken") as an educational discipline, to teach us the quality
> of mercy.  Here, it seems, we are commanded to imitate HaShem ("rahamav
> al kol ma'asav" - His mercy extends to all His creation).

I've always had trouble reconciling this with the Gemara's statement
in Brachos that someone who davens "al kan tzipor yagiu rachamecha"
(that Hashem has mercy on the bird's nest) is silenced (meshatkin osso
in the words of the Gemara) because Hashem's mitzvos are gzeiros (decrees)
for which we are not supposed to seek reasons.

Anyone have any ideas?

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


From: <jr@...> (Josh Rapps)
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 01:08 EST
Subject: Subscribe to mj-ravtorah

The long awaited listserv for the weekly summary of the Parshat Hashavua
summary of Shiur HaRav ZT'L [Rav Soloveicheck] is now available (thanx
Avi for your help). To subscribe send a mail message to
<listproc@...> with the text of the message:

subscribe mj-ravtorah <your name>

Comments are welcome at <mj-ravtorah@...>

-josh rapps


From: Mr D S Deutsch <dsd3543@...>
Date: 03 Jan 96 11:10:00 GMT
Subject: RE: Tehillim  51.7 and Original Sin

The Christian Doctrine of Original Sin is very different to the Jewish
concept that following the experience of Adam in Gan Eden and subsequently
the sin of the Golden Calf, Humanity is more exposed to the temptation to
sin. Indeed, no Christian can use the concept of Original Sin in
mitigation of a transgression since  Christian doctrine demands that he
either rids himself of it (by 'accepting' J) or suffer eternal damnation
(their expression, not mine).

 The fact that Dovid Hamelech refers to the 'sin' within as an extenuating
circumstance is therefore in itself a rejection of Christian dogma.
Rav SR Hirsch zt"l explains how the phrase means 'inclination to sin'
rather than sin itself in his commentary on Tehillim 56.7.

The Midrash and commentaries ad loc. explain the Pasuk to mean that the
necessary preludes to conception are associated with the implantation of
this 'inclination'. This is consistent with the well known Jewish concept
of the Yetzer Hara being with a person from birth and the Yetzer Tov only
from maturity (Piskei Tosafos Nedarim 62 quoted in Artscroll Tehillim

For a more thorough treatment of the difference between Jewish and
(lehavdil) Christian thought on the concept of Original Sin see
'Everyman's Talmud' pp 95-96  (Aldine Press Letchworth UK 1961).

                                                     David Deutsch


End of Volume 22 Issue 69