Volume 22 Number 97
                       Produced: Sun Jan 28 22:06:48 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jonathan Katz]
         [David Charlap]
Mattityahu - head of the Sanhedrin
         [Eli Turkel]
Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease
         [Matthew Yarczower]
Recommendations for Travelers to Israel
         [Carl Sherer]
Ribis - a Much Needed Clarification
         [Roger Kingsley]
         [David Kramer]


From: <frisch1@...> (Jonathan Katz)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 96 01:10:59 EST
Subject: 1948

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think your logic quite works...

First of all, there is the whole problem of justifying something ad hoc
(after the fact). The thing is that no matter what happenned, you could
probably come up with some way to make it fit with the birth of the
state of Israel (i.e., have it match to the year the land was promised
to Abraham, the year Abraham first recognized God, the year Moses was
born, the year the Jews left Egypt, etc.; or, use the actual secular
calendar year, "adjust" the secular calendar for the real birth-year of
Jesus, etc.)  The possibilitites are endless. The point is, there is no
reason to consider the secular year "1948" special, and there is no
reason, a priori, to consider the year of Abraham's birth special.

Furthermore, you say:
>We know that Ha-Shem reserved Yom Ha-Atzmaut for us, because in the days
>of Pesach we can find pointers to other significant days of our
>calendar.  So if he reserved the day of the week (same as 7th day of
>Pesach), then he reserved the year also, and arranged the calendar of
>the world to let everyone know it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this still leaves one day of Pesach which
still _doesn't_ point to another significant day on a calendar. Besides,
this really proves nothing.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, 233F
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 96 10:42:54 EST
Subject: Alcoholism

Moshe Stern <MSTERN@...> writes:
>David Brodsky seeks information on the prohibitions against alcoholism.
>How could there be such a thing when alcoholism is a disease.  Certain
>behaviours which alcoholics do may well come under the rubric of forbidden
>acts.  The disease itself, however, is another thing entirely.

I think the source of this confusion is over the definition of the word

You are using the modern-day medical definition.  That is, that an
alcoholic has a condition that causes alcohol to affect his system
differently than a non-alcoholic.  To such a person, alcohol is a highly
addictive drug.

David is probably using an older more classical definition.  That is, an
alcoholic is one whose life is focussed on alcohol.  The person who
looks forward to the weekend when he can get drunk, etc.

These two kinds of people are completely different.  An alcoholic may or
may not have his life focussed on drinking.  It would depend on how well
he has his problem under control.

Similarly, a person who doesn't suffer from alcoholism may or may not
focus his life on drinking.  There are many non-alcoholics that choose
to drink on a regular basis for the purpose of being drunk.

Anyway, my guess (and anyone is free to correct me) is that halacha
prohibits one from focussing his life on drinking.  I can't imagine it
prohibiting a medical condition, since a person with this condition
isn't likely to ever be rid of it for his entire life.


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 22:41:24 +0200
Subject: Mattityahu - head of the Sanhedrin

     Channah Luntz writes

>> Mattityahu is generally recognised as head of the Sanhedrin at the time,

    Is there any source for this statement? It is difficult to date the
zugot but according to the dates I have seen the first of the zugot
appeared before Mattiyahu. Hence the head of the sanhedrin at this time
was probably yossi ben yoezer.

Eli Turkel


From: <myarczow@...> (Matthew Yarczower)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 09:30:56 -0500
Subject: Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease

Does anyone know any families which have children who have been
diagnosed with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease? My grandson( of blessed
memory) had it.  He died of an unrelated virus when he was 3. Another
grandson, age 17 months, has been diagnosed with it but a DNA analysis
was negative. I would like to contact other families to learn about
their experiences with their children.


From: <sherer@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 96 7:28:46 IST
Subject: Recommendations for Travelers to Israel

Andrew Marc Greene writes:
> * 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
>   Yerushalayim?

In general, if a restaurant is Kosher it will have a teuda.  Different
Rabbinates have different standards as for what is and is not Kosher,
and some of them have a separate "Mehadrin" standard.  All restuarants
which have a teuda must, however, meet a minimum Kashrus standard (I'm
not sure what it includes - I asked about it myself a few months ago and
if anyone knew they didn't respond :-).  I would suggest you discuss
some basic guidelines with your LOR and then talk to some people here
and see what you come up with.  I know Avi doesn't like to see the
reliability of specific Hashgachas discussed on the Board.

> * 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].

According to an article in Yediot a few Fridays ago a black knitted
kippa is "politically neutral".  I don't know how reliable a source
Yediot is for such matters.

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

Any sfarim published in Israel will be cheaper in Israel.  This does not
necessarily exclude English sfarim - Feldheim, for example, publishes
some of its sfarim here and the prices can be significantly less than in
the US.  In general, all sfarim are cheapest during the Shavua HaSefer
(book week) which runs sometime after Shavuos.  Some of the stores
extend the discount until Rosh Chodesh Tammuz or even Shiva Asra
BeTammuz.  The exception to this is Mossad HaRav Kook which has a sale
the week after Pesach (starts on Isru Chag) for one week at which its
own sfarim (only) are marked down even more than in the Shavua HaSefer.
Some stores run sales during Chanuka and I have even seen one which
extended most of its Chanuka prices to Tu BeShvat.

Hope this is helpful

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:
                    NEW ADDRESS: <sherer@...>


From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 96 18:58:24 +0200 (IST)
Subject: RE: Ribis - a Much Needed Clarification

I would like to reply to this posting in v.22 #81 because I think the
tone and the style do a great disservice to what I (possibly mistakenly)
thought this list was about.

The poster writes:
>> However, if grave halachic misconceptions are NOT clarified, it 
>> can, G-d forbid, be a tool to mislead great numbers of people and 
>> lead to the desecration of G-d's will in this world.
 - sounds reasonable.  Then he goes on:
>> A reader wrote in asking if he borrowed a stack of paper and
>> returned a larger stack in its place, if there was a halachic
>> problem of "Ribis", that is paying interest (ie: repaying more than 
>> the principle)
Finally, he seems to imply that this is far too difficult a subject for 
>> The laws are intricate and quite difficult and have the severity of 
>> a Torah commandment (in most cases).  All questions should be 
>> brought before a competent halachic authority and we should all 
>> study the basic halachas so that we are aware of the 
>> parameters.
Still sounds reasonable, but that is what I thought we were trying to 
  I would like to make a plea that we should try to keep a sense of
balance.  We were talking about a small packet of paper!!  As I
previously wrote, the laws involved are more lenient when the quantities
are small.  Let us look again at the original posting:

>>Now the question - my friend brought me - let's say - an inch or so 
>> in thickness of paper. I want to repay him, but have no idea 
>> exactly how much he gave me. Can I give him an approximation? 
>> If it's more than he gave me, is this Ribit - interest? Can I give him 
>> an approximate amount with the stipulation that whoever came 
>> out on the raw end of the deal forgos the difference?

 Point 1.  We are nowhere near any Torah laws here, despite the worries
of our latest poster.  To be forbidden by dinei Torah, interest has to
be fixed in advance, at the time of the loan.
 Point 2 - and more interesting - we are not anywhere near any
deliberate attempt to pay interest.  the correspondent is just concerned
into getting into a post facto rinterest situation.

My personal opinion is that we are light years away here from the
threatened Hillul Hashem.  Actually, my own opinion was that it was
getting too technical to sort out easily in a public forum, and none of
it relevant to the precise point in the original question.  If I may
append a couple of examples from this latest posting:

>> 5) Offering to assist someone in a particular way (eg: to help build
>> their succa) in return for their assistance in your similar project is
>> highly problematic.

You have to be joking.  Are we all to be too scared to help each other
out?  I cannot imagine that any help given to anyone else gets near
issur ribit unless it is done by a professional who regularly charges a
given rate for that work, and some monetary value is put on it.  No
reference is given by the poster, but I have only found Yoreh De'ah 176,
7 which says "It is forbidden to say to a man 'do 1 dinar's worth of
work for me today and I will do two dinar's worth for you some other
time'".  This halacha goes out of its way to fall foul of the laws of
ribit - note that the borrower promises to do a certain value of work,
rather than a specific item.

>> 6) Lending money on a credit card and having the other party 
>> repay the principle AND the credit card interest is not allowed 
>> (Y.D. 179)

This statement certainly applies to us (in Eretz Yisrael, where the
banks are Jewish) but I am not sure what happens in Canada.  The whole
problem of someone who lends money at interest and claims he is passing
on interest he pays a non-jew is very ancient, and the practice
certainly used to be both allowed and current in Talmudic times (as long
as the claim was genuine).  It looks as if the practice is much more
frowned on nowadays, but the details are extremely technical.  Checking
this up is not helped by the reference - not only does it not give a
paragraph, the reference is in the laws of witches and fortune-tellers.

Please take this as it is intended - a plea for a continued and
constructive balanced look at interesting and practical issues of

To my mind, there is only one serious ribit problem the average jew will
come up against domestically, and even that is miderabbanan.  There is a
practice here of offering two prices on expensive goods for sale: a
reduced price for cash, and a higher price in instalments.  it is likely
that, if both prices are clearly offered to the same customer, and the
goods are for immediate delivery, the instalment plan is forbidden as
ribit.  On the other hand, it woud appear that instalments are allowed
as long as a lower cash price is not offered to _that_ customer.  In
cases where delivery is delayed, or the contract is for extended
services and not for goods, the situation is more complex.  Definitely
one for the rabbi.

Roger Kingsley


From: David Kramer <davidk@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 23:11:23 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Ribit

Zale Newman writes:
> 1) One may not lend another an object on the condition that he may
> borrow an object in return (Y.D. 160;9)

 This is not what it says in 160;9. The Rama there is talking about
lending *money*. The Rama there says that it is forbidden according to
some opinions to lend someone money so that he will lend you money

> 5) Offering to assist someone in a particular way (eg: to help build
> their succa) in return for their assistance in your similar project is
> highly problematic.

Huh? what is the source for this ? I believe this is a gross
misinterpretation of 160:9. There the Shulchan Aruch is talking about
someone who *works* for someone else - where he is expected to be
paid. The payment for services rendered which has not yet been paid is
considered a loan to the employer.  The S"A therefore rules that it is
forbidden for Reuven to make a deal with Shimon that Reuven will work
for Shimon work that is worth say $100 on the condition that Shimon work
for Reuven work that is worth *more* than $100.

This is *very* different than offering to help someone build his sukkah
as a favor so that he will return the favor!

> 6) Lending money on a credit card and having the other party repay the
> principle AND the credit card interest is not allowed (Y.D. 179)

There is no such halacha in YD 179 (which talks about the prohibition of

> As is clear, one cannot take the matter of RIBIS lightly, nor presume to
> have received correct halachic instruction by accepting a brief Internet
> response.

Amen to that.

> Matters of great halachik significance MUST be directed to those who are
> expert in their field and who can properly assess and evaluate each
> query.  This function cannot be replaced by the Internet.

Amen to that too.

[ David H. Kramer                     |  E-MAIL: <davidk@...>   ]
[ Motorola Communications Israel Ltd. |  Phone: (972-3) 565-8638  Fax: 9507 ]


End of Volume 22 Issue 97