Volume 25 Number 34
                       Produced: Sun Dec  1 22:15:47 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Compromise with Secular Jews
         [Steve Albert]
Free Will
         [Ronald Cohen]
Spending shabbat in a "good" hotel
         [Hilary Hurwitz]
When Modesty and Economic Rights collide
         [Chana Luntz]


From: <SAlbert@...> (Steve Albert)
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 13:40:03 -0500
Subject: Re:  Compromise with Secular Jews

      I thought Eli Turkel raised some fascinating questions with this
post.  Before commenting on them, let me add another one: Where I live
in the U.S., there are a lot of conversions to Judaism -- many halachic,
but many lacking a kosher beis din or other requirements for validity.
The orthodox shuls are split on whether to allow use of their mikvaos
for invalid conversions -- in one case, the local rabbi controlling the
mikveh refuses to permit its use, and the local Conservative
congregation drives several hours away to use the mikveh at another
(Orthodox) synagogue in a different city.
 Now, even if no Orthodox synagogue permitted use of its mikveh, there
are natural mikvaos available, so the granting or denial of mikveh
privileges wouldn't determine whether conversions were done.  How does
one balance a desire not to be involved in "conversions" that fly in the
face of halachic requirements, with the desire for maintaining shalom,
rather than sinah, in the Jewish community?

     Now, to Eli's questions.

1.  JCC: First, I'd have a hard time believing that acceptable standards
of kashrus would be maintained in an environment like that -- especially
since there'd be no apparent way to determine whether the kitchen was
being used, and for what, on Shabbos and Yom Tov.  However, even if it
could be, should we allow ourselves to be bought off and muzzled?  It
sounds too much like censorship to this American.
  On the other hand, it's not likely that the JCC will give up Shabbos
activities; if it's a lost cause, wouldn't it be better to try to get
them to stop serving treyf to all the Jews who eat there?  I can hear
both sides of this; one of the key questions (in my mind) is just what
does the rabbi have to agree to to get them to stop serving treyf?

2.  The university offering to set up a synagogue: I was involved a few
years ago in starting an Orthodox minyan at a campus Hillel, whose
director was Reform, so I've seen this one up close.  There are people
who will say it's flatly assur to daven in such a place, lest it give
them legitimacy; but others will disagree, and even say that the very
establishment of an Orthodox minyan there points out that what was being
done before was unacceptable.
 The issue not mentioned, and I think it's a critical one, is the
communal one: an individual might be able to daven by himself, and might
even be able to go to another shul to daven with a minyan -- but what
about the hundreds, or thousands, of other Jewish students who don't
have the background to do that?  Kiruv, to my mind, is a critical aspect
of this question -- especially given the risks of intermarriage,
assimilation, cults, and so on, to which college students are exposed.

3.  The general issue of compromise is fascinating.  The risk of a
hard-line attitude is driving people even further away, including those
in the middle who could go either way.  I'd distinguish between funding
things which are necessarily, in and of themselves, halachic violations,
and funding organizations which have both "OK" and "bad" activities.
(Is it lifnei iver if we give someone money, knowing he *may* use it for
a "bad" action?  What if he could fund all the "bad" actions without us?
What if he could, but we think he wouldn't?)
     Although by training I'm an economist, let me raise a question of
political theory: If one is elected to an office to serve the entire
population of a city, does that impose an ethical obligation to respect
(at least to some extent) the wishes of the minority that voted against
one?  Does running for mayor, in itself, indicate a willingness to be
mayor of all the city's residents, and not just one's supporters?  And
if so, shouldn't one try hard to find ways *not* to make the minority
feel disenfranchised?

Steve Albert (<SAlbert@...>)


From: Ronald Cohen <cohen@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 1996 09:13:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Free Will

In mail-jewish Vol. 25 #28 Kibi Hofmann  wrote:

> OK, I begin to see the root of the argument: Definition of free will.
> My Definition: G-d allowing you to act as you choose and choose what 
> you want.
> Your Definition (please correct me): G-d not knowing what you will 
> choose or how you will act.

I think the crux of the matter of human perpetrated evil is indeed free
will. G-d created the universe such that we have complete free will to
do good or evil.  This is like a law of physics and G-d does not violate
it even to save lives (note that Rambam even considers the parting of
the Sea to be within the laws of nature and arranged at the creation).
If we can do evil, than we can do evil to other people, even good
deserving people. The whole nature of reward and punishment is wrapped
up in this, which I don't have time to address right now. G-d influences
the world by influencing us, but not (usually?) directly-rather we can
receive G-d's communications if we are in a receptive (holy?) state.  I
think the halacha is designed to put us in such a state, but is perhaps
not always succesful because of our own constitution (which is part of
G-d's design as well).  If G-d engineered our actions to directly
influence future events, that would take away from us as free creatures.
Richard Cohen wrote a column some time ago asking why a bullet or gas
didn't hit Hitler in World War I.  Perhaps no one in the position to do
so had the right state to receive G-d's influence at the right time and
place.  That so much evil could result just shows how fundamental this
"no direct interference" rule is in the universe--Man has complete
freedom to do utmost evil without interference from G-d.  We could wish
that certain people did not have this freedom, but G-d gave it to all of

There is also the question though of non-human induced "evil"--disease,
natural disasters, etc.  I follow Rambam also on this.  This is part of
the necessary make up of a world that consists of matter. G-d could have
made Hitler die of disease at an earlier age, but again he lets nature
run its course.  Causing evil people to die from disease would again
diminish free will to do evil.

The only alternative I see is if G-d 's power or knowledge is
diminished.  As for reward and punishment, clearly this must be
understood in a different way from our life on Earth, and I think the
answer is bound up in the life of the soul, not the body, as
unsatisfying as that may be to our "rational" society.

  Ron Cohen
%Ronald Cohen			FAX and phone: 202-537-3951
%Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington
%5251 Broad Branch Rd., N.W.,  Washington, D.C. 20015


From: Hilary Hurwitz <hila@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 1996 12:23:58 +0200
Subject: Spending shabbat in a "good" hotel

 After a long time of lurking I am finally going to contribute a 
little to the list. It is mainly a warning, but maybe it could help 
 I was recently given by my employer a long weekend in Eilat at one of 
the "top" hotels. Although reluctant to go, a few datiim got together 
and arranged that we would all go with spouses and make sure that we 
could have an "avirat shabbat" a shabbat atmosphere. The men arranged 
kriat hatora, and we checked that there would be a Sefer Torah in the 
hotel's shul.

Maybe I am naive, but we thought that we were all set. I knew that there
would be chilul shabbat around us, but thought we could cope.  As I
opened the welcome envelope and saw the electronic card key I felt
uncomfortable. However I assumed that there would be a "shabbat
solution" - after all the hotel has a Hechsher (huh).

Well the hotel had never dealt with so many datiim before. Only 3 rooms
could be locked with a regular key. !! Their solution for us was to
leave our room unlocked and use the safe in the room free of charge for
our valuables. We did this, as the only alternative was to use a Shabbat
goi (non Jew). I declined as I did not want to have to wait every time I
had to nurse the baby or change his nappy !

In the room is a "chaishan" - a device that senses movement or heat and
accordingly turns the lights off when noone is in the room. We finally
persuaded them to turn it off about 10 minutes before shabbat. Oh -
there was also an automatic switch to turn the lights on as you walk in
the room ! (also deactivated for us).

In all there were 3 doors to the hotel - 2 with electric eyes and one
revolving door. You should have seen us on Shabbat morning trying to get
my sleeping baby in his carriage thru the revolving door. No mean feat !
And let alone seen the doorman's expression.

Well the hotel finally gave up on us - we requested more water for the
netilat yadayim jug (it was pretty small) and then asked that they not
fill it in the bathroom nearest the dining room, as the tap there worked
by magic eye or something, and turned on only when it sensed an object
under the tap. (does that make sense).

This was in Israel , in a hotel with a Hechsher, that was supposed to
supply us with glatt food. (that is another story).  So be warned. I
gather the situation is no better in most Eilat hotels, but I have not
checked so I cant be sure.

Oh one other thing . Our work committee assured me that they had checked
and there is a shabbat elevator - again HUH - no lift.  So luckily we
were on the 3rd floor - not too bad, but with a baby in carriage - not
easy. (he weighs 14 kg).

Apart from shabbat we had a good time !

Hilary Hurwitz, DBA 
City of Jerusalem
Tel : 972-2-6297034 (work); Fax : 972-2-6297040


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Sat, 30 Nov 1996 18:47:14 +0000
Subject: When Modesty and Economic Rights collide

In message <199611270349.WAA06694@...>,Israel Rosenfeld
<iir@...> writes:

>To set the record straight, hasidei Breslov charter 10 flights once a
>year from Israel to Ukraine for Rosh Hashannah.  The people who fly sign
>up beforehand and are all male.  It was their request that only stewards
>serve them,
> The customer gets what he pays for, no?

That is definitely an American position - but Russell Hendel is probably
correct is pointing out that one cannot take this as a given in a
halachic context. 

>As for the stewardesses, these are charter flights, so their salaries
>are not effected.

I suspect that Russell was taking a wider view, and that at the back of
his mind was the situation in Afganistan at the moment. There, in
territories controlled by the Taliban, women have been forbidden to go
to work for modesty reasons (NB even the Iranians !!! say this is a
chumra, and that so long as women are fully covered they can work).
However, given that Afganistan has been ravished by war for the last
decade and a half, there are lots of war widows, and this edict has
meant that there are now large numbers of women and children starving
(and the aid agencies can't even get food to them, due to the edict).

Now ten flights a year are unlikely to cause a similar problem - but
what if Breslov chassidim were a larger majority of the population than
they are? If a significant portion of the population (eg flying between
Israel and America) were such Chassidim, then one could easily see El Al
deciding it was easier not to hire any women as stewardesses, and
therefore a decent way of earning a living would be denied to these

And even in regard to these ten flights. It is not at all unlikely that
stewardesses on charter flights are paid by the number of hours they
spend in the air (are you sure it is a fixed salary, as you seem to
imply above?). And if the planes are being used to fly Breslover
Chassidim to the Ukraine, they will not be available for the
stewardesses to fly them elsewhere. And the charter airline may well not
have enough planes and people to charter them to make up the difference.
So that it is not inconceivable that certain of the stewardesses would
have had to make do that week on significantly less flying time and
hence less pay than they had come to expect - and therefore the decision
may well have had a direct effect on the pay packets of the stewardesses
and their families - without any means for these stewardesses to make up
the difference.  If this latter fact is correct, that conceivably might
bring them in to the category of a worker who started for work - and was
then told by their employer that they did not need them (you need
somebody much better versed in the halachos of workers than I am - but
the basic rule is that if a worker starts out for work, and then gets
told that he is not wanted, then he is to be paid a minimum wage for
sitting and doing nothing).  That is, it is not totally impossible that
the Chassidim, by this request, were instrumental in causing gezel (and
a bunch of other averohs).

I am not sure this is necessarily the case - you would need somebody far
more knowledgeable about these matters to examine the details of the
situation - I am just trying to indicate that the issue may not be as
simple as it first appears. (And even if a halachic court would not
award these women compensation from the airline - if they had lost money
- would you really want to be going to the Rebbe's grave and, I imagine,
davening for rachamim, if there was a chance that the way you got there
had caused you to be cursed by some impoverished family).




End of Volume 25 Issue 34