Volume 22 Number 86
                       Produced: Wed Jan 17 23:46:23 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Business Lunches
         [Barry Graham]
Daniel / Sanhedrin 22a
         [Chaim Schild]
Divining Rod for Graves
         [Warren Burstein]
Divining Rods
         [Stan Tenen]
Er and Onan (2)
         [Danny Skaist, Warren Burstein]
Halachah of Staying or Sleeping in York, England.
         [Immanuel O'Levy]
Halachot concerning terminally ill patients
         [Steve White]
Judaism & Alcoholism
         [David Brotsky]
Rabbi Frand's Book
         [Carl Sherer]
Recommendations for travellers in Israel?
         [Andrew Marc Greene]
Yosef & Binyameen
         [Robert A. Book]


From: Barry Graham <74741.2331@...>
Date: 14 Jan 96 01:55:28 EST
Subject: Business Lunches

Thank you to everyone for their very helpful replies.

This week I had some wonderful experiences, for example:

-	The manager of an airline lounge ordering me 
	a kosher meal from the airport when I was there for a day
	(during the snow cancellations).

-	Sheraton Halifax, Nova Scotia got a kosher meal from the airport
	at half a day's notice.  The orthodox Rabbi there also invited
	me for supper.

I also notice that Jerusalem 2 now delivers pizza by parcel service.
They advertize the price as $14 plus shipping.  They omit the price of
the shipping, maybe because it is significantly higher than the cost of
the pizza!  But it's worth bearing in mind.



From: <SCHILDH@...> (Chaim Schild)
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 09:13:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Daniel / Sanhedrin 22a

Sanhedrin 22a discusses the infamous "writing on the wall", i.e. Mene
Mene...that Daniel interpreted... There are several opinions of Rabbis
quoted as to how the message was encoded (different order, scramble,
at'bash).  Is there a commentary somewhere that discusses the meanings
of the various ciphers and why they were used in terms of understanding
the message ?



From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 10:45:38 GMT
Subject: Re: Divining Rod for Graves

>Does anyone have any information about such a device or idea why it
>might work? 

Controlled tests of divining rods have demonstrated no effectiveness.
It's quite possible that dowsers are well-meaning and mistaken rather
than intentional frauds.

By the way, if anyone ever does come across a person who is willing to
demonstrate dowsing in a *controlled* test, contact James Randi at
<randi-hotline@...> - he will pay $495,000 if the dowser (or possessor
of any other paranormal ability) passes.  He's just sent this offer to
people endorsing a "dowsing device" to police departments for detecting
guns, drugs, explosives, et al.

I am sure that the individual who claims to be able to locate graves
could put this money to good use, so I hope this offer is passed on.

/ itex.jct.ac.IL


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 07:56:32 -0800
Subject: Re: Divining Rods

Divining rods do not do anything.  The effect, if real, is not in some
piece of wood or metal, but in our consciousness - and, perhaps, in our

There is much debate about this, but if the farthest out speculations of
(physicist) Roger Penrose and (cell biologist) Stuart Hameroff, for
example, have merit, than it is possible for our minds to register
sub-newtonian physical effects.  Penrose and Hameroff propose that our
consciousness interacts with the physical world at the quantum
mechanical level because of superconducting quantum switches in the
microtubules in the cells in our body. (I happen to know about this
because the topology of the microtubule system seems to be nearly
identical to certain aspects of the Hebrew alphabet.  Both microtubules
and the letters of the alphabet come in clusters of 27 and both are
involved in the geometry of "sphere" division.) This means that it could
be possible for a person (with a quiet and relaxed mind) to directly
sense distortions in the gravitational, magnetic or electric fields -
even fairly deeply buried in the ground.

Even without the speculations of "new science", there are known
mechanisms by which dowsing and similar procedures might work.  Some
cells contain magnetic molecules and aggregates (at least in animals),
and these could interact with external magnetic and electric fields.
(Bird and animal migration might make use of this.)

It is not often realized, but the human body IS capable of detecting
single quanta.  It is possible to detect (and, in some cases it may be
possible to physically sense) a single photon impinging on a retina.
(This has nothing to do with dowsing, but it does demonstrate that we
can "read" "subtle" quantum-mechanical signals.)

Personally, I am a very skeptical and very intuitive person.  Many years
ago I had an electrical problem in the wiring in the ceiling of an
apartment I was renting.  Clearly, while the problem needed attention, I
could not cut up the ceiling without the landlord's approval - and he
was not available.  So I stared at the ceiling for many hours trying to
visualize where the wires were.  Eventually I walked around holding an
electric drill in my hands.  At one position I had a sense of something
different.  I drilled one hole directly into the ceiling - and split
between to the leads of the A.C. line cable that I had been trying to
find!  The key, I think, was that I did NOT believe I could find the
wire, but, as a "controlled folly" I tried anyway.  Without the ego
involvement of the expectation of success, my rational mind had given
up.  When the rational mind relaxes, intuition, or quantum mechanical
coupling - as the case may be - can occur.  As far as I can tell, this
is a built-in attribute of the cosmos as HaShem has created it.

So, for a person with the right personal psychology (egoless,
expectationless, competent effort) dowsing can really work.  For an
egocentric mechanistic determinist of the old Newtonian physics school,
dowsing is nonsense - but, then, so is quantum mechanics (and, for that
matter, so is spiritual belief and trust in HaShem.)

As with all matters that sit on the cusp between reason and feeling (or
between the consensus physical world and the personal psychological
world), who and what you are and what you believe and know beforehand
often determines what you see.  To know what is true for you, YOU
personally must do the experiment.  When a rationalist tests dowsing,
they may never be able to give up their rational expectations and,.
often, they see no effect.  When a competent person who knows what they
are doing dowses without expectations, they often find what they are

Which view is reality depends on who you are.  Tests of psychic or
quantum mechanical effects do not really test the external physical
system under review.  They test the psychology and conscious will of the
researcher who does the test.

Is this not what the entanglement of consciousness and physics in 
quantum reality implies?

B'Shalom and good Shabbos.
Stan Tenen

P.S. Cynthia and I will be traveling until Feb. 1 and our access to m-j 
will  be spotty.  


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 96 10:19 IST
Subject: Er and Onan

>David Charlap
>In the case of Onan, it says "(9)But Onan, knowing that the seed would
>(10)What he did was displeasing to the Lord and He took his life
>also."  (Gen. 38:9-10)
 The key word is "also" which indicates that this is the second
case. Hence Onan did the same sin that Er did.

>refusal to have a child through Tamar.  He should have refused Yibum
>(levirite marriage), and done chalitza (formal rejection of levirite
>marriage) if he didn't want to have a child by Tamar.

Exactly! He had that option and chose coitus interruptus.


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 07:50:08 GMT
Subject: Re: Er and Onan

Gerson Dubin writes:
>      Er and Onan were, as were all of the Jewish people until the
>revelation at Sinai, "Bnei Noach", children of Noach.  The law of 12/13
>and of puberty as a determinant of majority did not exist.  I believe
>the consensus of those who discuss the matter is that it depends on
>their understanding i.e.  if they know that what they are doing is wrong
>they can be tried in a Noachide court. 

But which Noachide commandment did Er and Onan violate?

 |warren@           an Anglo-Saxon." -- Stuart Schoffman
/ itex.jct.ac.IL


From: <imo@...> (Immanuel O'Levy)
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 96 11:25:30 GMT
Subject: Halachah of Staying or Sleeping in York, England.

I have heard on many occasions that one is not supposed to sleep or stay
overnight in York, England, on account of the massacre of Jews that took
place there.

Is this actual Halachah, or is just a custom?  If so, how binding is it?

If there is a cherem (ban) on sleeping in York on account of the pogrom
there, why isn't most of Russia or Europe similarly out of bounds?

  Immanuel M. O'Levy,                           |   Tel: +44 (0)171-209 6266
  UCL Dept of Medical Physics,                  |   Fax: +44 (0)171-209 6269
  1st Floor Shropshire House, 11-20 Capper St,  | Email: <imo@...>
  London WC1E 6JA, Great Britain.               |  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/MedPhys


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 20:20:37 -0500
Subject: Halachot concerning terminally ill patients

The following was included in the "Israel Line" e-newsletter published
by the Israeli Consulate General in New York on Friday, 1/12 (erev
Shabbat p.  Shemot):

>  The Tel Aviv district court handed down a precedent-setting
>decision Thursday blocking doctors from artificially lengthening
>the lives of terminally-ill patients against their will, HA'ARETZ
>  The court ruled that patients could not be connected to a
>respirator or life-support system if they consciously refuse the
>  According to the decision, if there is any doubt that the
>patient is terminally ill, a request to be taken off artificial
>support systems must be approved by a panel of three doctors.  In
>addition, such a panel must oversee the fate of patients
>incapable of making such a decision, such as children or those
>who have not left instructions.

As this reads, this seems like a halachically ominous decision, as a
number of recent decisions of Israeli courts have been of late.  Does
anyone have further information on this?

Steve White


From: <DaveTrek@...> (David Brotsky)
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 08:48:47 -0500
Subject: Judaism & Alcoholism

A friend asked me recently for materials that speak about Judaism and
Alcoholism, especially items that deal with the strong prohibitions
against alcoholism in Jewish sources. I know there are many items out
there, but wonder which are the best, especially for high school and
college age young adults. Also, is there anything on this on the

David Brotsky


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 96 7:54:29 IST
Subject: Rabbi Frand's Book

A number of posters have mentioned Rabbi Frand's book as being an
appropriate work on dealing with tragedies lo aleinu (they should not
happen to us) in a Halachic framework.  If someone could post the name
of the book and its publisher (or e-mail it to me privately) since I do
not recall seeing it mentioned on the list, I would greatly appreciate
it.  Thanks.

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


From: Andrew Marc Greene <amgreene@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 09:41:18 -0500
Subject: Recommendations for travellers in Israel?

Greetings, all.

My wife and I are planning, IY"H [G-d willing], to be in Israel for
two weeks in mid-Adar. I have a couple of questions, since the previous
times I was there were before I became as observant as I am now.

* How can we tell whether a given restaurant is kosher or not? We've
  been told that in Yerushalayim everyone has a te'udat kashrut 
  [certificate of kashrut] hanging in the window, and it's color-coded
  red or blue. Is that true? Is that reliable? What about outside of

* What sort of kippah will make the least political statement? I don't
  know the current mappings of kippah-styles to political agendas, and
  although anyone who listens to me speak will immediately realize that
  I'm an American, I'd rather not appear to be a [insert your least=
  favourite Israeli political movement here].

* What sorts of sfarim or other items are better to buy in Israel than
  in New York? 

Thanks for your advice. If I get a lot of personal responses, and if
there's interest, I'll summarize for the list.

- Andrew Greene


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 13:46:24 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Yosef & Binyameen

Yeshaya Halevi (<CHIHAL@...>) writes:
>            Arthur Roth (<rotha@...>) asks for a rationale
> as to why Yosef's brothers would believe that Yosef would think that the
> person they presented as Binyameen really was Binyameen and not an
> imposter.
>            The easy answer is that Yosef kept Shimon as a hostage until
> they brought Binyameen.  Thus, Shimon, could be used/tricked to pick
> Binyameen out of a lineup, al la time-honored police practice.

Yes, but anticipating this, the brothers could arrange, prior to
leaving, for Shimon to look for a signal, which the imposter would give
in the lineup.  Or, the imposter could be a servant in the household of
Yaakov known to Shimon in advance.

> answer: (a) Yosef counted on the family resemblance because they shared
> a father and mother, and Yosef knew what he himself looked like when he
> was younger; and/or (b) Yosef was counting on ruah hakodesh, the Divine
> spirit.

Answer (a) implicitly assumes that Yosef had a mirror (and a good
memory).  Does anyone know if mirrors existed at that time?

As for (b), the original question relates to the brothers.  How would
they know that he had access to the ruach hakodesh?  They didn't even
know he was Yosef!

--Robert Book    <rbook@...>
  University of Chicago


End of Volume 22 Issue 86