Volume 24 Number 86
                       Produced: Sat Sep  7 23:07:17 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A question on Ki Setze
         [Akiva Miller]
Calling priests "father"
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Text of Nachem
         [Warren Burstein]
The Shma (2)
         [Bert L. Kahn, Danny Schoemann]
Tisha Be'Av
         [Elanit Z. Rothschild]
Uncovered Hair, Calling a Priest Father
         [David Riceman]
Writing down the Oral Torah
         [Akiva Miller]


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 07:51:56 -0400
Subject: A question on Ki Setze

In last week's parsha... oops, our moderator is struggling under quite a
backlog, and I don't want to pressure him. Let's try that again:
[I could hold it till next year if you would like? :-) Mod. ]

In Ki Setze (Dvarim/Deut. 22:23-27) the Torah teaches about two
situations where a betrothed woman has sexual relations with a man other
than her husband. In one case, where the incident occurred in a city,
the Torah tells us to presume that if the woman had protested, someone
would have rescued her, and so we presume that the woman had these
relations willingly, and so both she and the man are put to death. In
the second case, where it happened in a field, the presumption is that
she did protest, but no one heard her, and so she is held innocent and
only the man is put to death.

This question was asked by a friend of mine, and we and several others
cannot find an answer to it: Under normal circumstances, the Jewish
court cannot convict a person of a capital crime unless *prior* to
commission of the crime, the witnesses had warned the individual(s) that
this act is forbidden and subject to the death penalty. Under such a
system, how could a case arise where there is any uncertainty as to
whether she protested or not? How could there be a case where we need
the Torah to teach us that under *these* circumstances she is presumed
guilty, but under *those* circumstance she is presumed innocent. Where
were the witnesses?

(Please note: This question is not comparable to "date rape" situations,
where there is a question of her changing her mind mid-act. The question
here is that, according to the plain situation as described in the
Torah, the witnesses do not seem to have been present, so how does the
death penalty question arise?)


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 07:56:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Calling priests "father"

In V24N83, Chaim Shapiro asks:
> 	One of my Profs at my new school, a Jesuit University, is a
> priest.  I've been informed that although he has a Phd he will not
> respond to Dr. as he wants all his students to call him father.  What do
> I do?

I'm not an authority on this, but I once worked at a Jesuit institution
(Fordham University's Bronx campus) and occasionally pondered this
issue.  I never had to deal with it head-on as the people I reported to
weren't priests.

I finally settled on "Father McGinley" being okay, as it's an earned
title, and how everybody else refers to him, but I'm not comfortable
personally with how some of them say things like "Father says", as
that's sounding like you accept his authority as a priest to apply to
you.  A quibble, perhaps.  I would address them as "Father X" rather
than as "Father".  (Incidentally, the abovementioned Father McGinley,
once the Fordham president, is reported to have explained that he was
"emeritus" because "e" means you're outta there and "meritus" means you
ought to be!)

If you find out that there is a halachic problem with this, maybe you
could discuss it politely with the professor himself (rumors aren't
always accurate).  YMMV -- anybody else got ideas?

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 06:24:11 GMT
Subject: Re: Text of Nachem

>I feel the impact of the text of this beracha by envisioning the
>"shikutz" (abomination) of the mosque presently occupying the Har

What justification is there for applying this term to a place in which
prayers are offered to God, with no intermixture of idolatry?


From: <bilk1@...> (Bert L. Kahn)
Subject: The Shma

Response to M Gottlieb / The Shma

    I am not sure where I saw this --not too long ago.  When we say
G-d's name we are to move our eyes in all directions.  This is not
appropriate during the Shma, so we cover them to avoid having to move
them around.

From: Danny Schoemann <dannys@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 11:35:36 +0300
Subject: Re: The Shma

In Mail-jewish Vol. 24 #84, Matthew Gottlieb wrote:

> Why do we cover our eyes while saying the "Shma"?

I saw an interesting idea - though I forget where. Since we're 
supposed to point in the 4 directions and up & down during "Echod", 
and therefore we "roll" our eyes in these directions, we cover our eyes 
so as not to cause other people to feel sick at the sight of the eye 

[I always thought one moves one's head. Maybe while moving one's head 
the eyes move, too.]

 | | <DannyS@...> <<   Danny Schoemann  >> | |      Tower of 
 | | Ext 273               << Tel 972-2-6793-723 >> | |      Babel !!


From: <Ezr0th@...> (Elanit Z. Rothschild)
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 1996 13:22:33 -0400
Subject: Tisha Be'Av 

     As I learned Zechariah last year (taught by Mrs. Marcy Stern at
Bruriah High School), we delved deeply into the issue that is brought up
in Perek 8, Pasuk 19, which states, "...the forth fast, the fifth fast,
the seventh fast and the tenth fast will be for beit Yehuda days of joy
and happiness..."  The forth fast being 17 Tamuz, fifth fast as 9 Av,
seventh as the fast of Gedaliah, and tenth as 10 Tevet.

     We brought in a gemara from Rosh Hashana 18b, which states a
machloket between Rav Chasida and Rav Pappa.  Rav Chasida states that
"Bezman sheyesh shalom, yeheyu l'sasson u'lesimcha.  Ein shalom tzom,"
"At a time when there is shalom, it will be a joyous occasion.  No
shalom, it was a fast."
 Rashi explains "sheyesh shalom" to mean "sheain yad haovdei kochavim
tekifa al yisrael," when Yisrael is not under the leadership of another
nation (Rambam states that "shalom" is only when the Beit Hamikdash was
built).  On the other hand, Rav Pappa argues the point that "hazman
sheyesh shalom yeheyu l'sasson u'lesimcha, yesh gezerat hamalchut tzom,
ain gezerat hamalchut v'ain shalom, ratzu mitanin ratzu ain minanin," at
a time when there is shalom, it will be a joyous occasion.  When there
is no shalom, and Yisrael was being oppressed, it was a fast.  But, if
they were living peacefully under the rule of another nation, some
fasted and some didn't.

     You can infer from this gemara that, according to Rav Chasida,
during the whole time of Bayit Shenei, they fasted.  But, according to
Rav Pappa, during the rule of Persia, they had the choice.  But during
the rule of the Romans, when they were oppressed (Chanuka), they fasted.
During their 200 years of automony, they again had a choice.

     I hope this insight helps.

Shana Tova and Gmar Tov!

Elanit Z. Rothschild


From: David Riceman <dr@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 08:17:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Uncovered Hair, Calling a Priest Father

 1.  I recall seeing an article in Tradition on uncovered hair many
years ago.  It cited a Rabbi in Connecticut who permitted it.  I know of
no one who follows the opinion (it's not cited in Otzar HaPoskim, for
example) but the logic is compelling: a certain class of ervah (immodest
items) are defined societally.  Hair is one of those (otherwise how
could we ignore the Tur's prohibition of single women uncovering their
hair?).  In our society hair is not an ervah.
 2.  You could quote the New Testament to him: "Call no man father
except your father in Heaven".  On the other hand, I don't know of any
obvious prohibition against calling a person by a title he has and

David Riceman


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 17:34:14 -0400
Subject: Writing down the Oral Torah

I am currently involved in a discussion elsewhere with several Reform
and Conservative friends regarding the nature of changes to Halacha. My
stand has been that the rabbis have the ability to make halacha
stricter, but not more lenient. For example, there was a time when
lighting Shabbos candles was optional, but now it is required, and there
was a time when eating chicken and milk was allowed, but it is now
forbidden. In contrast, when we see something which appears to be a
change in the lenient direction, it is actually making use of a loophole
which had been little-known or little-used until that point. Famous
examples include marrying Moabite converts who are women, Prozbul, Heter
Iska, and so on. I do not view these as real changes, since these things
were allowed even prior to their becoming famous and popular.

I would like to find information on a halacha which might be an
exception to this rule. From what I have been told, there was originally
a Torah prohibition against writing down anything of the Oral Law, but
that the Rabbis have allowed it, because otherwise there would be a
danger that the Torah might be forgotten. When publishing was difficult
and expensive, this meant that the Mishna and Gemara could be written,
but as technology has developed over the centuries, we have reached a
point where even chidren are publishing their thoughts on the weekly
Parsha, in take-home sheets from both school and camp.

I am not saying that this is a bad thing, not in any way at all. But I
want to open a discussion about the technical parameters of this change
to the law.

1) First and foremost, am I correct that the above is/was a Torah
prohibition? If it is rabbinic, then I presume that they can relax their
own laws, and I apologize for this entire posting. Other posters to this
list have mentioned both customs and rabbinic laws which have fallen
into disuse over the centuries. But if it IS a Torah prohibition...

2) How do we define the Oral Torah for this law? Rashi's comments on the
Megilla are clearly Oral Torah. But what about the Megilla itself, with
no commentary, or for that matter, *any* book from Tanach after the
first five?  Are they considered to be the Written Torah or the Oral
Torah? (I would find it difficult to believe that studying it does not
count as "learing Torah" at all, so it has got to be in one category or
the other.)

3) I once heard that even prior to the current situation, people could
write notes on what they were taught, but only for personal use, and not
for publication. I heard that these notes were called "Megilas Sesarim"
(Hidden scrolls). Is this correct? Could this be part of a loophole
which enabled the current situation? Maybe it was forbidden to write
notes for publication, yet one was still allowed to read someone else's
notes? or was that also forbidden?

4) How do we define 'writing'? I imagine that it includes any method of
teaching which does not allow an immediate feedback between the teacher
and student. This would include all publication methods, including
magazines, video tapes, mimeograph, e-mail, and others, maybe even
radio. In contrast, I'd imagine that a teacher *could* draw charts and
diagrams on a blackboard to help him explain the subject better. But
would I be right?

5) By what legal mechanism was this change made? I have heard that the
rabbis were afraid the Torah would be forgotten, and so they relied on a
verse in Psalms 119: "It is time to do for HaShem. They are (were? will
be?)  nullifying the Torah." Clearly, King Davids psalm cannot override
the Torah which we got directly from HaShem, so this verse must only be
additional support to an ability which the Rabbis would have had anyway.

6) There is a principle called "Horaas Sha'ah" (Temporary Ruling) by
which a prophet or sage can suspend a Torah law when ample need for it
is seen, and there have been many examples of this. One was (according
to some opinions) Queen Esther's marriage to Achashveirosh. Another (if
I remember correctly) was some kind of celebration and feast held on Yom
Kippur once in Temple times; sorry I don't remember the details. If this
was the basis for the change, then wouldn't it have had to be
*temporary*? Is this so? Will these prohibitions be reinstituted in
Messianic times? Or maybe even sooner, if the situation which caused the
change becomes resolved?

7) Why was this change made, anyway? Because the rabbis were afraid we'd
forget the Torah? That is not our problem, it is HaShem's problem. Our
job is to follow the laws of the Torah. G-d promised that we would
survive as a nation, so let Him worry about the decreasing brainpower of
successive generations. "Tamim tihye im HaShem Elokecha." The idea of
suspending a Torah law for the sake of the Torah itself seems like a
contradiction, doesn't it?

8) I mean this in all seriousness: If we can suspend a Torah law for
fear that Judaism might die out otherwise, then what is wrong with
allowing people to drive to shul on Shabbos for fear that Judaism might
die out otherwise?  But please do not offer any of these answers: "The
rabbis then were so much greater than today's." "Shabbos is so much more
important than the law about writing Torah." "Conservative rabbis are
not real rabbis." "Judaism *won't* die out if driving stays forbidden."
--- None of those answers address my real question, which is "Are there
any limitations on the ability of the rabbis to allow something which
the Torah forbids?"

9) How far-reaching is our permission to write down the Oral Torah? It
does not seem to be restricted in any way. It is not limited to sages,
rabbis, teachers, or anyone. Even those on the most beginning levels of
learning, can get on the Internet and post an interesting thing they
heard from their rabbi. This is what's happening, but is it allowed?

I don't mean to ruffle any feathers here. And I am not suggesting that
we go back to a total ban on Jewish books. But it seems that publication
of Torah thoughts is so easy nowadays, and I just want to know how far
we can push the rules.

You don't have to be such a big shot any more, to post articles to the
Internet, or write a column in a Jewish newspaper, or publish a
magazine, or even print a book. (I should know - almost 20 years ago, a
friend and I wrote and printed our own pamphlet, with our own money, and
distributed it ourselves to the bookstores of Mea Shearim.) And I really
wonder if anyone asks himself: Is this stuff important enough to set
aside a Torah law for?


End of Volume 24 Issue 86