Volume 24 Number 70
                       Produced: Sun Jul 21  9:05:20 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Air Crash and Funerals
         [Robert Schoenfeld]
Halakhic Times in far North
         [Steve White]
Holocaust memorial
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Non-Jewish Codes
         [Y. Adlerstein]
R' Akiva's Response to the Sages
         [Mordechai Torczyner]
R. Gershom and email
         [Jack Reiner]
Reckless Drivers Are Murderers
         [Russell Hendel]
Science and the Sages
         [Steve Gross]
Sin of Convenience
         [Louis Rayman]
Water filtration and borer
         [Gedaliah Friedenberg]


From: Robert Schoenfeld <roberts@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 12:25:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Air Crash and Funerals

According to news reports several chasids were on TWA 800 that crashed 
last nights. The question is what do the families do if a body can not be 
recovered? Do they hold funerals and sit shiva in any case? Just what is 
the Halacha?
				73 de Bob
+            e-mail:<roberts@...>                   _____              +
+            HomePage:http://www.liii.com/~roberts     \   /              +


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 08:52:08 -0400
Subject: Halakhic Times in far North

In #66, Claude Schochet writes:
> I believe that the only Jews actually residing north of the Arctic
>  circle live in northern Norway (near Trondheim?) and (while
>  living in Denmark) I was told that their p'sak (19th century,
>  I imagine) was to follow Oslo time. 

Was their p'sak to follow Oslo time all year long, or only during those
parts of the year when they were in 24-hour daylight (or darkness)?  And
if the latter, what about during borderline periods (there is sunrise
and sunset, but only twilight, not full darkness, around solar midnight
-- or there is no sunrise or sunset, but some twilight around solar



From: Chaim Shapiro <ucshapir@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 10:45:16 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Holocaust memorial

	I visited the Smithsonian Holocaust Museum last year.  An
overwhelming emotional experience to say the least.  I was left with an
indelible impression of the horrors of the Holocaust that will last a
lifetime.  I was also left with one halachic question as well, that I
would like to resolve before I return for my next visit in a couple of
	One of the exhibits is of several partly burned and otherwise
desecrated Torah scrolls found in the ruins of some European Shuls.  Is
one required to tear Kriah or perform other acts of mourning upon seeing
these scrolls?  Does the permenance of the exhibit make any practical
difference L'halacha (ie, since it is always there it is not the same as
seeing a recently desecrated Torah, that one had not known about
 Chaim Shapiro


From: Y. Adlerstein <yadler@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 19:48:16 -0700
Subject: Non-Jewish Codes

Without taking sides concerning the perennial issue of the validity of
Torah codes, the following story might nonetheless be instructive as to
the dangers involved in using them indiscriminately.

Flipping through radio stations in the car the other day, I caught a
talk show on KABC that raised the issue of the marginalizing of atheists
and agnostics from American public life.  Naturally, the defenders of
the faith came out in legion to "prove" the validity of their faiths.

One fellow presented an argument that went roughly like this:

"Take a look at Psalm 46 [I don't remember which number he actually
used] If you open the standard King James translation, and count down 46
lines from the top, you will find the word "shake" on that line.  Now
look at the same line, on the facing page.  There you will find the word
"spear."  And if you continue to skip this interval of lines, you get a
message that reads something like 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, O
Juliet [sic!]"

I'm not kidding!


From: Mordechai Torczyner <mat6263@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 00:45:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: R' Akiva's Response to the Sages

> From: Tara Cazaubon <tarac@...>
> I was studying the first division of the mishna (agriculture section),
> shebiit and was shocked by a certain passage.  In part 8 paragraphs 9 and
> 10, Rabbi Akiva seems to be using some pretty strong language towards Chazal
> Rabbi Akiva's
> response seems to be "Shut up, dummies!  I won't tell you what R. Eliezer
> meant by this." (Chazal is disagreeing with Akiva and this is Akiva's
> response to them).  I was rather shocked by this passage.  Have I grossly
> misunderstood this passage or is Rabbi Akiva insulting Chazal?

	As far as this specific case, Kahati's commentary references the
Yerushalmi which explains R' Eliezer's statement, and then he uses that to
explain R' Akiva's refusal to explain R' Eliezer. Several commentaries
take this approach here. [As to the "dummies," that one
isn't in my edition of the Mishnah?]
	In general, we do find some instances of language in the Gemara
which seem harsh to 20th century ears. It is important to understand the
language barrier eredcted by 15-20 centuries as well as several thousand
miles. We have no way of knowing what was considered standard speech. This
is a general problem for those who would extrapolate the character and
behavior of Tanna'im and Amora'im from 5 or 6 instances recorded about
them in the Talmud; would you want your own character deduced from 5 or 6
instances chosen from within your own lifetime, 50 generations from now
by Eskimo Jews?
	I must acknowledge that I have found it enlightening to gather
cases involving individual Sages for my WebShas [see the sig file below
for the Web address], but as a deductive method I fear that analyzing
their language ranks somewhere between reading the Enquirer and
analyzing the Star.

WEBSHAS! http://www.virtual.co.il/torah/webshas & Leave the Keywords at Home


From: <jjr@...> (Jack Reiner)
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 12:44:47 -0500
Subject: R. Gershom and email

Well, it was bound to come up.  Indeed this may have already been dealt
with, and if so my work is made all the easier.  :-)

I am looking for sources, preferably in English, that relate
R. Gershom's ban on reading other people's mail to reading other
people's email.  Also included would be if sysadmin (which I am)
responsibilities would ever allow it, especially if directed by
management/law officers for scrutinizing employee behaviour (harassment,
personal work while on the job, etc.).

On 7/27 I will be giving a short shiur on this topic.

Thank you.

Jack Reiner


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 21:30:39 -0400
Subject: Reckless Drivers Are Murderers

Just to add some fuel to Friedell's excellent question in V24 #54, I
once actually explicitly asked the Rav, Rabbi Dr Joseph B SOloveitchick,
about the status of murders coming from violating speed limits. The Rav
said that such a murder had a status of "accident close to intentional".

I might add that my brother (Judge Neal Hendel in Beer Shevah in Israel)
had a case a few years ago where a soldier was ordered to drive
someplace by his commanding officers. The soldier protested that he was
sleepy and in no condition to drive. Nevertheless the order was not
rescinded. So the soldier took two buddies with him to keep him up.  The
soldier fell asleep hit a bus and killed someone.

My brother found him guilty and wrote in his decision that the command
of a superior officer could not be used as an excuse for accidental
murder.  The case did cause some discussion (I told my brother that I
concurred with his lack of leniency since someone had died).

NOtwithstanding the above Steves (excellent) questions have not yet been
answered since the above speaks about murder while Steve inquired about
damages.  HOwever it does intensify the question: e.g. why is it that if
I intend to shoot an arrow 4 feet and it kills someone at 8 feet I am
judged at "accidental closed to intentional = almost intentional" while
if I intend to shoot an arrow 4 feet and it damages at 8 feet I am
*onlY* liable to pay for damage but not for pain, medical, and

Russell Hendel, Ph.d. ASA rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu


From: Steve Gross <sg@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 13:00:46 -0400
Subject: Science and the Sages

  I've been in a regular shiur studying Maimonides' Mishneh Torah.
Currently, we are covering the laws of kashrut.  An issue has arisen
(not for the first time) that prompts me to ask a question.
  The sages are discussing whether creeping things are kosher. From the
text, it is apparent that they consider things like maggots to have
spontaneously been generated from their source (i.e., decomposing food)
and this fact in turn prompts their ruling. I asked our shiur leader
what is the current ruling, given that we now know that living matter
does not arise spontaneously out of dead matter.
  To my surprise, he said that if the Rabbis held it to be so, then it
must be true and we can't say that they are wrong.
  A few sessions later a similar issue came up again. Now we were
discussing what happens if a cold piece of cheese falls on a hot piece
of meat and other variations on this theme. This time it was explained
that the Talmud holds that the food item on the bottom decides the
question, because heat always flows up.  I again disputed this fact
saying that this is not how the physics of heat transfer works. As
before, he said that if the sages held it so, this was definitely the
case and not subject to discussion or question.
  In the first book of the Mishneh Torah, it is clear that Maimonides
thinks that the planets are living beings.  His reasoning is that since
planets can change their motion (or more properly, their apparent motion
with respect to an earth observer) and since only living things are
capable of changing their motion internally, there- fore the planets
must be alive.
  I want to make three points here: first, this is not bad science for
1100.  Maimonides is using the best science of his time to see how
nature works. Second, the Mishneh Torah begins with Maimonides basically
restating his understanding of current science. Finally, he does this
because the way nature works may play a part in determining halacha.
  Thus, my questions:
   1) Do we recognize that the sages may have had a faulty understanding
      or lack of knowledge of science?
   2) Are we bound by the sages' faulty understanding?
   3) If we agree that we may have new knowledge not possessed by the
      sages, can we or should we alter halacha accordingly?
   4) My understanding is that the medical recipes of the sages are not
      followed today. If this is the case, does it add fuel to the
      argument that things can change?
   and for fun
   5) If Maimonides were alive and writing the Mishneh Torah today,
      do you think he would have started it off by describing quantum
      physics and black holes?

Steve Gross      AT&T Bell Labs     Holmdel, NJ      <sg@...>


From: <lou@...> (Louis Rayman)
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 11:16:12 -0400
Subject: re: Sin of Convenience

Dave Curwin writes:
> In the book, "Religious Zionism -- After 40 Years of Statehood" 
> (Mesilot/WZO, 1989), there is an article by former Mafdal Member of 
> Knesset Moshe Unna z"l, entitled "Reform and Conservative in Israel."
> (The article was translated by Shafer Stollman). In the end of the
> article, Unna mentions a quote of the Rabbi of Kotzk, who said
> that the difference between the Sin of the Golden Calf and the sin
> of the Spies, in terms of the long-term punishment, was that the sin
> of the Spies was a "sin of convenience. They didn't wan't to go to
> war. The Holy One blessed be He doesn't tolerate those who want
> convenience." Does anyone know the source of this quote? What is
> the original Hebrew, or at least the Hebrew for the word convenience?

I can't give you the exact quote, but maybe the following could be a
source for the concept.

The first pasuk in Parshas Vayeshev: (Ber 37,1) Vayeshev Ya'akov
b'eretz migurei aviv.  Ya'akov lived in the land that his fathers
stayed (sojourned?) in. (Can anyone think of better translations for
the two verbs?)  Rashi (possibly based on the fact that the verb
"leshev" has a more permanent connotation than "lagur") states that
Ya'akov wanted to "leshev b'shalva," lit. "sit in contentment,"
i.e. to live out his years in peace.  Therefore, Rashi continues,
Hashem sent him "rogzo shel Yosef," the "troubles" of Yosef.

Life, it seems, was not meant to be easy.  Why that is so would make
an interesting discussion.  Anyone care to bat first?

  |_  ||____  | Lou Rayman - Hired Gun
   .| |    / /  Client Site: <lou@...>    212/603-3375
    |_|   /_/   Main Office: <louis.rayman@...>


From: Gedaliah Friedenberg <gedaliah@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 09:02:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Water filtration and borer
Newsgroups: shamash.mail-jewish

Dr Lasson writes:
>Someone posed the issue of using a water filter pitcher on Shabbat.  The
>concern was one of borer, where the filter "screens' out the lead and
>other particles that are not visible.
>According to the Gemara (in Shabbat) one may pour a liquid through a
>cloth to remove tiny splinters, as it is not visibly borer.  This would
>seem to be an even stronger case that it should be permitted, because
>the lead content is invisible.

When learning hilchos borer with a Rosh Yeshiva (Rav Osher Zelig
Friedman of Zichron Eliezer in Flatbush) I posed this question.  I was
told that borer is on a macroscopic level only (can be seen with the
naked eye) and that pouring water through a filtration pitcher/device
(as long as it is not electronic, etc) is not a problem since the
water remaining (the "bad" water) looks exactly like the "good" water.
If the filtration system took out color from the water (leaving two
volumes of differently colored liquid) this would be where a problem
would arise (IMO).

Gedaliah Friedenberg


End of Volume 24 Issue 70