Volume 26 Number 19
                      Produced: Fri Apr  4 15:54:00 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kiddush Lavana during a Full Lunar Eclipse
         [Steve White]
Literature on Providence and Prayer
         [Shalom Carmy]
Lunar Eclipse (2)
         [Lon Eisenberg, Yehuda Poch]
Melechet Gentile
         [Tanya Scott]
Purpose of Prayer
         [Seth Kadish]
         [Yossi Gold]
Yeechud and Humility
         [Paul Merling]


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 10:18:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Kiddush Lavana during a Full Lunar Eclipse

In #18, Yehuda Poch <yehuda@...> writes:
>  >	Can one make kiddush lavana during a full lunar eclipse?
>  >Normally we do not say kiddush lavana when it is cloudy and the moon is
>  >not visible.  Although the light of the moon is not visible during an
>  >eclipse, on a clear night the orb and shape is very visible.  And
>  >considering that the moon has no light of its own anyway, must one see
>  >what is no more than reflected light, to say the bracha?  Chaim
>  1. I would think that kiddush levana is not possible during a lunar
>  eclipse since the vast majority of lunar eclipses occur on the nights of
>  the 15th or 16th of the Jewish month (i.e. the nights FOLLOWING the 14th
>  and 15th) and kiddush levana is only permissible until the night of the
>  14th (following the 13th) i.e. before the moon reaches full moon status.
>  A lunar eclipse can only take place during full moon.

That's right, but it's worth noting that at least in theory, one would
be able to make kiddush levana exactly until the middle of the period of
totality, because the moon becomes full *exactly* during the center of
the period of totality.  Since the calculated molad is off from the
astronomical new moon (by a small amount, to be sure), it is best to
check when the half-molad (or sof zman kiddush levana) is, and if
K.L. is still possible during the eclipse, fine.  Note also that some
poskim hold that one is allowed to say kiddush levana up to a full 15
days following the molad, or 12 hours past full moon into waning.
According to that shita, you'd always still be in a permissible period
during an eclipse.

>  2. I have heard more than one posek say that even a normal moon, for
>  instance on the 9th of the month, if it is behind misty cloud, is not
>  clear enough to say kiddush levana.  This even goes so far as to include
>  a moon that can be seen clearly but around which there exists thin mist
>  in the atmosphere, resulting in a "halo" effect.  Some poskim hold that
>  even this is not adequate, and that it must be totally clear with
>  absolutely no interference.  In this case, if brightness of the moon is
>  the issue, then kiddush levana during an eclipse would not be allowed.

It should be pointed out that not all poskim hold this way, especially
if it is getting close to sof zman kiddush levana.


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 09:36:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Literature on Providence and Prayer

With respect to Elihu Turkel's request for material on these subjects,
especially as discussed by R Soloveitchik:

1. I am presently editing a volume on "Jewish Responses to Suffering"
(Jason Aronson, 1998 [Dv]). One of the chapters I am writing myself
deals with aspects of G-d's involvement in the world, with special
attention to the Rambam, R Soloveitchik, R Kook and, l'havdil, Calvin
Coolidge. This chapter is available over e-mail, upon request.

2. In the same volume Rabbi Yitzchak Blau has contributed an annotated
bibliography on the subject.

3. I have discussed the problem raised by R Yosef Albo in "Freedom,
Destiny and the Logic of Petition" (Tradition Summer 1989). As in the
case of #1 above, I am responsible for the views expressed in the
article, much of my approach is based on the Rav's published and
unpublished writings and on conversations regarding them.

4. Anyone interested in the Rav's views on prayer should be aware that
he left several handwritten notebooks. I am presently engaged in
preparing these and other texts for publication.


From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 16:11:12 +0000
Subject: Lunar Eclipse

Yehuda Poch <yehuda@...> wrote:

>1. I would think that kiddush levana is not possible during a lunar
>eclipse since the vast majority of lunar eclipses occur on the nights of
>the 15th or 16th of the Jewish month (i.e. the nights FOLLOWING the 14th
>and 15th) and kiddush levana is only permissible until the night of the
>14th (following the 13th) i.e. before the moon reaches full moon status.
>A lunar eclipse can only take place during full moon.

But the first half of the eclipse is before the moon is 100% full (and
the second half is after).  If the other issue mentioned (i.e., not
seeing the moon clearly) is not a problem, then it would seem that
qiddush levanah should be permitted during the first half of the eclipse
(however, I wouldn't suggest leaving this mizwah to the last minute).
Since qiddush levanah is normally done when only about half of the moon
is visible (around a week into the new month), it would seem that the
fact that some of it is obscured during (the first half of) the eclipse
shouldn't matter, but I don't know for sure.

BTW, I've seen eclipses where the shadow was black rather than orange, I
believe after the eruption of a volcano leaving lots of ash in the

Lon Eisenberg   Motorola Israel, Ltd.  Phone:+972 3 5658422 Fax:+972 3 5658345

From: Yehuda Poch <yehuda@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 14:32:47 +0200
Subject: Re: Lunar Eclipse

Agreed.  The moon is totally full only at a specific moment, sometime
during the actual eclipse.  However, since it is generally unknown when
the exact moment is, kiddush levana is allowed only until the night
before a lunar eclipse would take place (i.e. the night of the 14th --
following the day of the 13th).


From: Tanya Scott <SCOTTT@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 97 13:04:00 PST
Subject: Melechet Gentile

Can anyone shed light on the following for me.  If a Jew is not supposed
to benefit from any melacha a gentile does on her behalf, then how is
directing the gentile to move certain objects eg. a pen permitted, but
asking the gentile to turn on the light is not?  Is it only a question
of melacha d'oraita?  But apparently, you can ask someone to turn on the
heat.  And wouldn't mar'it ayin (appearances) always be a problem?  What
can you ask and what can you not ask?


From: <skadish@...> (Seth Kadish)
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 17:13:36 GMT
Subject: Re: Purpose of Prayer

Eli Turkel asked:

   An obvious corollary to this subject is the purpose of prayer. Albo
>already raises the question whether it is "realistic" to assume that G-d
>will change the course of events because of our prayers.  Rav
>Soloveitchik has written extensively about prayer especially in an
>article titled "ra-yanot al ha-tefillah". Here he insists on the
>centrality of the request (ba-ka-shah) to prayer. He discusses the
>difficulty in praising G-d and many other questions. However, he never
>discusses this question whether prayer can really change events.  Does
>anyone know why?

Eli is absolutely right that almost all contemporary writers on the
meaning of prayer tend to ignore the basic question of when or how
prayers are answered literally.  Besides Rav Soloveitchik, the same was
true for Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenborg, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch,
Rav Kuk, Franz Rosenzweig and A. J. Heschel.  (Not to mention non-Jewish
theologians in modern times; prayer is a meritiorious deed for non-Jews
as well, so we ought to pay attention to what they think about it.)  For
a discussion of why this happened, i.e. why most modern thinkers simply
ignore prayer being answered literally, see the three "paradoxes" at the
end of Shalom Rosenberg, "Tefilla ve-Hagut Yehudit -- Kivvunim
u-Ve`ayot" in Ha-Tefilla ha-Yehudit: Hiddush ve-Hemshekh, ed. Gabriel
H. Cohn (Jerusalem: Ahva, 1978).  According to Rosenberg, modern
thinkers give up on God ansewering prayer literally because of what he
calls the "cosmological" and "theological" paradoxes.  They give up on
these paradoxes.  The only paradox they feel they are able to respond to
is what Rosenberg calls the "Anthropological" paradox (which seems to be
the underlying motivation behind practically everything the Rav wrote in
Raayonot al ha-Tefilla).  Rosenberg makes this trend sound heroic, but
personally, I don't see how ignoring the problem is an important
contribution to Jewish thought.

Eli is also right that Rambam's views on providence are directly
connected to the meaning and purpose he ascribes to prayer in the Moreh
Nevukhim.  In fact, in 3:51 (the ultimate chapter on prayer in the
Moreh) he explicitly connects them, refers the reader to his chapters on
providence, and builds upon his theory of providence with prayer.  This
is the most controvensial chapter in the entire Moreh (with the possible
exception of the chapter on sacrifices) and was subject to harsh
criticism, even by many who otherwise valued the book.  In fact, some
accuse the chapter of being a forgery, not being able to accept that
Rambam could write such things!  (This is certainly not the case, though
it illustrates the severity of the point.)  For a full understanding of
Rambam's views on prayer in the Moreh, carefully study and compare
chapters 1:59, 3:32, 3:36, 3:44, 3:51.  It will then become evident why,
as Eli asked, Rambam doesn't describe prayer as changing events in the
traditional sense.  However, he leaves room for prayer being answered in
broader terms in 3:51.  I think Rambam implies a solution along the very
same lines as Rabbi Yosef's explicit solution to this problem.
        Also: Just reading the Moreh cannot do justice to Rambam's views
on prayer.  It wasn't the only thing he wrote on the topic!  Other
things that need to be understood along with the Moreh are Hilkhot
Tefilla and other scattered references throughout the Mishna Torah as
well as important (sometimes radical) teshuvot by the Rambam on the
topic of prayer.  Rambam-the-Philosopher must relate to
Rambam-the-Halakhist, because they were both the very same man.
        For a full discussion of Rambam's view along with all the major
views in medieval Jewish Philosophy (Rabbenu Bahya, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi,
Rambam, Rabbi Hasdai Crescas, Rabbi Yosef Albo and others), and a survey
of the meaning of prayer in kabbala, for hasidim and mitnaggedim, and in
modern thought, see my forthcoming book which will be out in May or
June, God willing, "Kavvana: Directing the Heart in Jewish Prayer"
(Jason Aronson).

Seth Kadish
Rehov Hartuv 4/3, Netanya


From: <yoss@...> (Yossi Gold)
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 13:43:11 EST
Subject: Upsherin

Can anyone provide me with any sources regarding an Upsherin (First
haircut to 3 year old) during a leap year. For those who have the custom
not to cut any hair before the child reaches his third birthday, should
it be done in the first Adar or the second?

Yossi Gold (<Yoss@...>)


From: Paul Merling <MerlingP@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 97 13:41:00 PST
Subject: Yeechud and Humility

      Janice Gelb in vol 26:14 writes " The idea that a woman has to
bring a buddy to the bathroom with her---." Who told her that there was
ever such a Takannah? Rashi in Sanhedrin and the commentaries on the
Yerushalmi in Megilla state that the Takanna was made in a time when
people used public outhouses that were out in the fields and not private
ones next to their homes. There is no mention here or in Rambam or in
Shulchan Aruch that she must bring a buddy when she uses the
outhouse. My own conjecture is that most women would take a buddy with
them when going to the fields, especially by night.  The takannah was
that if there is such a buddy they should speak together so as to avoid
Yeechud.  All the (Ashkenazi) Poskim say that this Halacha is no longer
operative because our outhouses are no longer in the fields.

  This would explain why there was no Takannah for two men to speak when
together in the outhouse. After all the Rambam states that there is
Yeechud of two men and a woman. The answer would be that men usually
went alone and women usually went in pairs. The takannah was never to
require someone to bring a buddy.
  The Meiri in Sanhedrin (19) states this Halacha as follows:
  " A woman should to the best of her ability always be careful to avoid
behavior that causes her to sin with lewd men or causes lewd men to sin
with her. She should do everything possible to watch herself .....He
(Reb Yosee of Tseeporei) also decreed that when women go into outhouses
in the field where they cannot lock the door from inside, That they
should talk together and/or let their voices be heard in some way so
that if males desire to enter the outhouse they will be aware of their
presence and they will keep away and avoid Yeechud."
           The Meiri's approach answers Eliezer Diamond's question
concerning the propriety of talking in the outhouse (they do not have to
talk they have to make their presence known). Since the whole Takannah
was to encourage woman to avoid sinning with lewd men, one cannot ask
let there be a Takannah for the men. Lewd men do not observe Rabbinical
decrees. The Takannah is for an Eesha Kisheira. We can conjecture that
this Takannah was a result of actual immoral behavior by males hanging
around the public outhouses. Reb Yosee's Takannah would then be a
Kiyum(observance) of "you shall be holy" , as Rashi explains Separate
yourself from Forbidden Relationships.
           Although it is proper to ask questions about many obscure
Halachos. I must protest Alana Suskin's statement that " it (the
Takannah) does warrant criticism."  The purpose of the Mail-Jewish chat
group is Lihagdil Torah Vilihaadeera, to increase both the study and
observance of Torah and also faith in Torah. The study of Torah is the
greatest Mitsva because it brings to good deeds and Fear of
heaven. Faith in our sages is one of the prerequisites of acquiring
Torah.  All of the Geonim, Rishonim and Achronim accept the Chazal as
the final word in all matters of Halacha and Hashkafa. Where one do not
understand, one must try harder. Above all one must have humility when
studying Torah.  The words of our G-d shall stand forever.


End of Volume 26 Issue 19