Volume 23 Number 11
                       Produced: Thu Feb  1 23:52:06 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

7 Sivan
         [Harry Weiss]
7 Sivan and commemoration of Shoah
         [Jerrold Landau]
Crocheting Kippas
         [Steven Stein]
Issues of Ribis
         [Jeff Mandin]
Moshe Rabbenu's birthday
         [Menachem Glickman]
Omniscience v. Free Will
         [Avrohom Dubin]
Oral Law
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Oral Torah
         [Alan Cooper]
Purim Idea
         [Zale L. Newman]
         [David Hollander]


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 96 18:59:49 -0800
Subject: 7 Sivan

I have never heard of the 7th of Sivan as being a memorial to victims of
the holocaust.  I have seen numerous cases (including several in my own
family) where the second day of Shavout is observed as a Yahrzeit date
for Holocaust victims.  The Nazis Ymach Shmam took a significant number
of Jews from Hungary (Transylvania) between Pesach and Shavous in 1944.
Since the exact date of death was unknown the closest Yizkor date was
picked as a Yahrzeit.



From: <landau@...> (Jerrold Landau)
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 96 09:33:39 EST
Subject: 7 Sivan and commemoration of Shoah

In terms of 7 Sivan being a day of commemoration of victims of the
Shoah, I believe that it is not observed as a day of mourning.  It is
observed as a day of Yahrzeit by some people who do not know the day
that their relatives died.  Yahrzeits can occur on any day of the year,
and are observed by lighting of a candle and reciting of Kaddish whether
or not they fall on a regular weekday, Shabbat, or Yom Tov.  I believe
that the 7 of Sivan is frequently used by Hungarian Jews, as a large
part of the deportations to Auschwitz took place during the summer
(Sivan Tammuz) of 1944.  Since the 7 of Sivan is a Yizkor day (outside
of Israel) it is a particularly apt day for observing a Yahrzeit when no
other date is known.  The Yahrzeit does not encroach on the festivity of
the day, any more than Yizkor does.

Many other people who do not know the Yahrzeits of their relatives have
designated the first of Tishrei, or more commonly the tenth of Tishrei
as the day of Yahrzeit.  These are also days when no public mourning is
observed.  In Israel, I believe that the Rabbinate has also designated
the tenth of Tevet as 'Yom Hakadish Klali' A day of saying Kaddish for
the victims of the Shoah who do not know the Yahrzeit days.  Those in my
family who are in that position seem to have chosen the tenth of
Tishrei.  There seems to be no uniform custom, but observing it on
Yomtov seems to be the norm.

Jerrold Landau


From: <zweigh@...> (Steven Stein)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 96 12:04:18 PST
Subject: Crocheting Kippas

I don't crochet kippot anymore, but my friend Miriam Gadol makes beautiful 
kippot.  These are her instructions.  Make a chain of 4 stitches, close the 
circle and do 2 stitches (increase) into each stitch.  Then increase every 2 
or 3 stitches and increase less for each row.  Try to keep the kippa flat - 
increase when necessary to keep it flat and it should stay flat until you 
get to the pattern.  No increasing during the design or afterwards.  You can 
add l or 2 rows after the pattern is done.  The colors of the design get 
worked into the back of the kippa.  When it is done wet the kippa and shape 
it on your head or on a wig head.  Use a .60 or .75 hook and #8 cotton pal 
yarn.  You can also use #5 yarn and a bigger crochet hook, but the yarn is 
thicker, and  is harder to work with.  Good luck!!


From: Jeff Mandin <jeff@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 01:08:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Issues of Ribis

Zale Newman and Roger Kingsley wrote:

> >> 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.
> 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.

Mishna Bava Metzia 75b says: "One may say 'Remove weeds w/ me and I will
remove weeds w/ you' (or) 'Dig w/ me and I will dig w/ you'.  One may
not say 'Remove weeds w/ me and I will dig w/ you'..(or vice versa)."

Assisting in return for assistance, then, is not problematic as long as
the work exchanged is of similar type and difficulty.  The mishna goes
on to prohibit exchange of work in one season for the type of work in a
season when the labor is more difficult.

I don't have Yoreh Deah handy, but the reference is 160:9, which David
Kramer mentioned.

> >> 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).

Roger has in mind BM 61b, which prohibits "toleh maotav b'nochri"
(falsely claiming that money lent at interest belongs to a non-Jew);
implying that lending at interest is permitted when the claim is

However, normative halacha follows the view of Rashi and Tosefot who
employ the principle of "ain shlichut l'nochri" (there is no "agency"
for non-Jews) to prohibit accepting interest to pass on unless the
non-Jew accepts liability for the money while in the Jewish lender's
hands (Tosefot 61b).

Jeff Mandin
New York City


From: Menachem Glickman <mglick@...>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 20:45:08 +0000
Subject: Moshe Rabbenu's birthday

Apropos of the recent discussion about Moshe Rabbenu's
birthday/yahrtzeit, I once heard an interesting "vort" from R Chaim
Kaufman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Tiferes Yaakov here.  (I cannot
remember who, if anyone, he was quoting.)

Haman was very happy when his lot fell on Adar, because that was the
month that Moshe died.  This meant, he thought, that it was a bad month
for the Jews.  He did not realise that Moshe was also born in Adar - on
the very same date.  Why not?

Moshe died during the day - "be'etzem hayom" - in the middle of the day.
He was born, however, at night - the Medrash tells us that the house was
filled with light, which would only really be noticeable in the dark.

For us, where day follows night in our reckoning of the calendar, Moshe
Rabbenu was born and died on 7 Adar, thus indicating that he fulfilled
his life and his mission.  This makes it a good sign for us.

Haman, however, was a non-Jew, who reckoned night after day.  In other
words, according to his calculation, Moshe was born on 6 Adar and died
on 7 Adar.  He therefore did not die on his birthday, indicating that he
did not fulfil his mission - undoubtedly a bad sign for the Jews, thus
making Adar a suitable month to carry out his plan.

It's a bit early for Purim, but have a freilichen Tu BeShevat!

Kol tuv

Menachem Glickman
I L Computing Services  Gateshead  UK                             


From: <AbePd@...> (Avrohom Dubin)
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 01:36:29 -0500
Subject: Omniscience v. Free Will

In a recent posting, Bennett Ruda seeks to explain the apparent
contradiction between G-d's omniscience and the free will with which we
have been blessed by stating that

>Hashem too could be equally aware of exactly what will happen without that
>knowledge affecting what we do.

The Rambam (Maimonides) in the second chapter of Hilchos Yesodei Hatora
(p.  10) sets forth an extraordinary exposition of the oneness of G-d.
He posits that although in general a statement such as "I know math"
requires an assumption that I exist independently of math, and vice
versa, the oneness of G-d permits no such interpretation.  Rather, as
the Rambam says, "He is the knower and the knowledge itself."  The
Rambam states therein that this is incomprehensible to the human

At the end of the fifth chapter of Hilchos Teshuva, the Rambam refers to
the apparent contradiction between omniscience and free will - ONLY
after prefacing the contradiction with a reference to His "knowledge" as
the Rambam previously described it.

It is clear that the Rambam intends to prevent easy resolution of the
contradiction.  Hashem cannot be "aware" of what I, with my free will,
will determine to do.  His knowledge is as real and as permanent as He
is.  If he "knows" what I will do, then that is fact, therefore, how can
I do otherwise?

I understand that this mini-essay does not resolve the contradiction.
The Rambam does not resolve it either.  My intent is only to outline the
parameters of the contradiction, as the Rambam himself explains it.

Avrohom Dubin


From: Andy Goldfinger <andy_goldfinger@...>
Date: 1 Feb 1996 10:13:54 -0400
Subject: Oral Law

Joshua Burton writes:

"A nice introductory approach is that laid out by Rav Steinsaltz in
The_Essential_Talmud.  He observes that there has never been, and can
never be, a legal system that exists in its entirety in written form.
The body of `case law' and `jurisprudence', as we might call it in a
secular context, is essential the moment you begin to translate fixed
words into actual practice...."

Not only does this apply to law, but to other areas of human knowlege
and expertise as well.  I work in the space program.  We are preparing
to launch a satellite that has had a long history of failures and
malfunctions which have again and again delayed the launch date.  The
reason is that a key component just doesn't work right. Why is this?
The reason is that the people who have built this component in the past
have all retired.  Now -- there are plenty of books, published papers,
reports, and design specifications that explain how to design, construct
and test this component.  What is missing is the "b'al peh" transmission
of the "tricks of the trade," i.e. just what all of these words really

The situation is similar with large space boosters (rockets).  The
United States could not build another Saturn V moon rocket next year if
it wanted to.  The experts have retired.  NASA has been having an
inordinate amount of launch failures lately.  Why?  The entire
generation who built the space program in the 60's and 70's has retired.
The books are there.  Even the blueprints and design documents are
there.  But -- the "b'al peh" is gone.

It is for this reason that the Department of Defense wants to build the
Seawolf submarine.  Actually, most agree that this submarine is not
needed.  But -- if it is not built, the submarine building team at
General Dynamics will be disbanded, and the "b'al peh" continuity will
be lost, so the U.S.  will loose the ability to design the next
generations of submarines (I do not wish to discuss the politics or
strategy involved in this -- that is best left to another forum).

I am sure that examples abound in other fields.


From: Alan Cooper <amcooper@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 07:05:33 -0800
Subject: Oral Torah

Israel Botnick writes, concerning the authenticity of the Oral Torah:

>Although accepting that there is an Oral Torah is ultimately a matter of
>faith, there are traditional sources that attempt to prove its
>authenticity and importance.
>Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Chajes in his Mavo Le-Talmud explains how without the
>Oral Torah, the written Torah is rendered a closed book. Terms such as
>work (on sabbath), slaughter (for animals), are not explained in the
>written Torah. The Esrog is described in the Torah as 'fruit of the
>beautiful tree'. It is difficult to imagine that G-D would give a Torah
>that is so vague. The Oral Torah as we know, defines all of these terms
>to the finest levels of detail.

The incomprehensibility of much of Scripture without the aid of the Oral
Torah is, indeed, the classic traditional defense of the authenticity of
the Oral Torah.  As Yehuda ha-Levi says in Kuzari 3.35, even that which
is plain in Torah is obscure; how much more that which is obscure.  And
how indispensable, therefore, is the Oral Torah.  A modern version of
the argument comes from our difficulty in understanding
archeologically-excavated documents of the biblical world without
benefit of an "oral torah" (as it were).  A favorite example of mine
comes from one of the Samaria Ostraca of the early 8th-century BCE,
where we find the two words shin-mem-nun resh-chet-tsade.  Now any
elementary Hebrew student knows those two roots, but is the correct
vocalization shemen rochets (oil for washing) or shemen rachuts (washed
oil)?  There is no way to know.  And if it is the latter (as most modern
scholars prefer), what exactly is "washed oil"?  Does it denote quality,
method of preparation, both of the above, or maybe something else again?
In the absence of an "oral torah," there is no way to know--even that
which seems plain at first glance is, in reality, obscure.

Alan Cooper


From: Zale L. Newman <ce125@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 17:53:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Purim Idea

It seems that the trend over the past few years is to give mishloach
manos to only a couple of friends and to give money to various tzedakas
in place of the many many food boxes that we would normally have

I for one wholeheartedly support this trend and here in Toronto it seems
to have taken a strong foothold.

Perhaps we could consider a n extension of this concept by encouraging
every family that gives mishloach manos to add at least TWO food boxes
to thier list for families or individuals who do not celebrate Purim or
are unaware that it is Purim.

In many cases we would feel uncomfortable approaching a relative or
friend who is "unconnected" or unaffiliated to discuss matters of
religion. However the giving of a food box is not at all threatening and
will build goodwill and interest amongst the unaffiliated Jews in our
community. I have tried this at the office not only on Purim but before
Rosh Hashana with gifts of apples and honey and before Pesach with gifts
of shmura matza and it has always been well received.

A Rabbi here suggested that we even put in a tape of a lecture on Pesach
or a hagada or a book for the children in these type of mishloach manos

Could you imagine if every frum Jew were to reach out to two unaffiliated 
Jews on Purim? Wow! I'm sure Moshiach would be here by Shushan Purim.Kein 
yehi rotzon.See you in Jeru.

Zale L. Newman - Toronto 


From: <David_Hollander@...> (David Hollander)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 96 14:27:49 EST
Subject: Toothpaste

I once asked my Rav if I could switch from kosher toothpaste to a brand
without a hechsher (kosher certification).  He answered if I used the
kosher brand because I thought that was the halacha (law) then it was
halacha b'taoos (mistaken in the law) and I could switch.  If however I
used the kosher brand as a chumra (stringency beyond the requirement of
the law) I should be matir neder (release a vow) before switching to the
toothpaste without a hechsher.


End of Volume 23 Issue 11