Volume 26 Number 23
                      Produced: Mon Apr  7  7:35:50 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A travesty of the highest order
         [Donnie Stuhlman]
Alzheimer's victim in the synagogue
         [Daniel Eidensohn]
Halachic Issues Associated With the Big Three 
         [Steve White]
Shmurah Oat (Shibolet Shual) Matzos
         [Perry Zamek]


From: <ssmlhtc@...> (Donnie Stuhlman)
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 10:12:31 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: A travesty of the highest order

In v26n16, Chaim Shapiro vividly describes the thoughtless and heartless
treatment of an elderly person in shul.

I feel that I must reply to the situation about a man with alzheimer's
being asked to leave a shul.  I happened to be in the same shul at the
time the man was asked to leave.  The re-action of Chaim Shapiro was
greatly exaggerated.  He did nothing at the time.  The man was in shul
this past Friday night and again he was making noises.  Eventually he
left.  I don't know if he was asked to leave or his care-taker knew that
he should leave.

The situation was far from "heartless" The gentleman and his care taker
were treated with dignity and respect.

Everyone has his/her own story and personality. It is difficult to davan
in a shul without seeing some behavior that is annoying.  We can't
expect everyone to sit quietly in their places from the beginning of the
service to the end. We have to draw a line when the behavior is part of
tephilah bi-tzibor and when it detracts from tephillah.

 I have much respect for the rabbi and officers of this shul.

Donnie Stuhlman


From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Apr 1997 21:40:09 -0700
Subject: Alzheimer's victim in the synagogue

Saul Mashbaum wrote:
>Chaim Shapiro's description (mail-jewish Vol. 26 #16) of a pitiful
>Alzheimer's victim being ejected from a synagogue is moving, and there
>is no doubt that the party involved deserves our fullest
>sympathy. Nevertheless, I wonder if Chaim is not being unnecessarily
>harsh in his condemnation of the congregants and rabbi. I am not at all
>sure that the unfortunate victim's removal from the synagogue is in fact
>"a travesty of the highest order".

I would like to add a few comments to Saul Mashbaum's very sensitive
reply to Chaim Shapiro, concerning removing a senile person from a
synagogue. Having worked many years with the elderly as a psychologist,
I know first hand both the tragedy for the family and friends as well as
the difficulty treating them appropriately. Observing the degradation
the person himself experiences is a heart wrenching fact which one never
gets used to.

1) There is a major halachic problem of assuming that the Rabbi was
wrong. We have a general rule that you are to give the person the
benefit of the doubt (Pirkei Avos I 6). When dealing with a Rabbi - the
requirement is even stronger. Instead of keeping your upset bottled up -
it would have been healthier - both from the view of halacha and
psychology to have a private talk with the Rabbi. (Posting on the
internet is not a valid substitute) He would probably appreciate your
concern and possible suggestions as to how to hand the situation more
sensitively. You might be surprised to learn about the background of
this person's situation which makes it difficult to come up with
cookbook responses. On the other hand you might be totally correct, even
rabbis make mistakes.

2) Was the person aware that he was being insulted? Alzheimer's victims
have their good and bad days with a general trend to losing a coherent
awareness of their identity. If the person felt insulted it is much
different than if he was oblivious to what was going on. If he was not
aware of what is going on he probably was not obligated in prayer nor is
he likely aware that he is being ejected from the synagogue. Even if he
was not aware of being insulted there are ways of handling these
situations which minimize the debasement. A senile person needs to be
treated with dignity.

3) At some point of deterioration the senile person is no longer
obligated in Mitzvos. However, if he is still well enough to be
obligated in mitzvos than it is a major problem to say that he can be
ejected. We have this issue in our synagogue when certain individuals
feel it necessary to scream during prayers. The rabbonim I have talked
to say that they have every right to make noise in the context of prayer
- even if it disturbs others. If he is not obligated in mitzvos - he has
no right to disturb others. The Mishna Berura 98 (3)says "The Shaloh
HaKodesh severely criticized those who bring their little children who
have not reached the age of education to synagogue. This is because they
play and prance around the synagogue and debase the sanctity of the
synagogue and disturb those who are praying...When they are old enough
to be educated they should be brought and trained in the proper attitude
and to sit in their places..."

In response to Eli Turkel. 
4) The issue of a seeing eye dog in shul is discussed by Reb Moshe
(Igros Moshe Orech Chaim I # 45 page 104.) He permits it if the blind
person needs it in order to pray but states that the dog should sit by
the door so that it doesn't disturb the congregation.

In sum, I would suggest that you respectfully ask your rabbi to explain
his point of view. If you are not satisfied with his answer - send both
your version and his to me and I will (bli neder) - take the question to
Rav Elyashiv, Rav Moshe Sternbuch or the Bostoner Rebbe (Please indicate
your preference).  
				Daniel Eidensohn


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 17:41:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Halachic Issues Associated With the Big Three 

I'm sure that many of you, like me, were deeply disturbed, distressed
and saddened by the recent case of a New Jersey man who pleaded guilty
to murdering his two young children, rather than see his ex-wife take
them to Florida and raise them as Christians.  My initial reaction was
that here was another tremendous Chillul Hashem b'Farhesia (public
desecration of G-d's name), a disgusting case of somebody who committed
the ultimate abuse of his role as a parent ostensible in the name of
G-d.  Didn't this man ever read the Akedah (story of Isaac's binding)?

On further reflection, I still think all of those things.  Let me repeat
that: I STILL THINK ALL OF THOSE THINGS.  Yet, at the same time, the
more I've thought about the case, the more certain halachic issues that
could potentially be involved are confusing me.  So I wonder -- aiming
to keep the discussion as Torah lishma (learning for its own sake),
rather than somehow to justify this event -- if people might not be
willing to address one or more of the following:


Sadly, there is plenty of history of our people having chosen death,
self-inflicted or by the authorities, rather than submit to a conversion
to Christianity.  People allowed themselves -- and their children -- to
die, rather than to convert, or to be converted forcibly.  Of course, no
Jew has been put to death for not converting, at least in the West, for
at least a couple of centuries, as far as I know.  (This is not the same
as being put to death simply for being a Jew, let me add.)

In certain respects, one might almost see the case at hand as being the
closest the modern West could come to a compelled conversion to
Christianity backed by governmental authority.  After all, the courts
awarded custody of these children to the mother .  And then when the
mother announced she would move the children away from their father, and
having renounced her conversion, would raise them as Christians, the
courts backed her right to do so, over the father's objections.

Halachically, the father theoretically has responsibility to raise his
children as Jews, and to prevent them from being forcibly converted.
Yet, the courts did not allow him to do so in this case. (I assume, at
least for the sake of argument, that the mother's conversion, and
therefore the children's Judaism, was halachically valid.  If not, of
course, all bets are off, but then there is no interesting halachic
discussion left.)

So the father sees his children being forced to live as Christians, and
knowing at some level that one must die rather than converting -- one of
the big three -- he killed his children.  And if he himself was *not* at
risk of converting, he did not kill himself.

If that line of argument is correct, perhaps the man in question
followed a halachically correct approach!  Yet, since my gut tells me
this is not so, where does the argument run afoul?

LINE OF REASONING?  After all, the worse the children ever become
halachically is "tinok shenishba" -- a child who is kidnapped and raised
among gentiles.  Such a person is really never held accountable by the
Heavenly Court, beyond perhaps the Seven Mitzvot of B'nai Noah.  So this
is not considered forced conversion as much as a sort of kidnapping, and
certainly one cannot kill the kidnapping victims to prevent their

PUBLIC -- A MITIGATING FACTOR?  There seems to be some reason to believe
that at least under some conditions, while one should die rather than
convert, that if the conversion is not done in the presence of a minyan
(i.e., a *public* assembly, though it appears women might be counted for
this purpose), the person is not liable.  And if this father had not
killed his children, it is not clear that the case would ever have
become meaningfully public.

The courts are technically speaking only using their power to enforce
the custody decision, not the religious choice.

IDOLATRY (or not necessarily to be idolatry, ex post facto, especially
Protestantism) A MITIGATING FACTOR?  Many of our ancestors died rather
than submitting to Christianity.  But are the halachic issues with
respect to martyrdom the same with apostasy to Christianity or Islam as
with pure idolatry?

4.  HOW FAR DO THE BIG THREE GO?  One must die rather than committing
one of these him/herself.  And one can presumably violate a number of
halachas to prevent not only murder but the other two as well.  But
perhaps one can't go so far as to violate one of the big three to
prevent another from happening.  After all, one violates Shabbat to
ensure that future Shabbatot can be kept.  That's not possible here.

NARROWLY DEFINED BOUNDARIES.  Perhaps one or more of these mitigating
factors is enough to take the case outside those boundaries..

DIFFERENCE?  No longer murder, but martyrdom of one's family?

THINGS?  Even if there were a halachically permissible killing here,
perhaps the father must have been competent to commit it -- and he was
not here.

Again, let me emphasize that I am horrified and repelled by what happened.
 My gut feeling is that a major Chillul Hashem has taken place, and
sometimes our gut (or right brain) understands these things before our
reason (or left brain) does.  But I hope some of our cyberchevra will
consider some of these things worth discussing in Talmud Torah Lishma,
and help all of us bring both halves of our brain together.

Wishing all of you a good Shabbos, and a happy and kosher Pesach:

Steven White


From: Perry Zamek <jerusalem@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Apr 1997 19:25:28 +0300
Subject: Shmurah Oat (Shibolet Shual) Matzos

This year, shmura matzot made from oats (shibolet shual) are again

These are specifically for those who are unable to eat regular wheat
matzot for health reasons, to still keep the mitzva of eating matza on
Seder Night (nb. it is preferable for people without health problems
connected with wheat to eat regular wheat matzot on seder night).

Shmura Oat Matzot are produced on a non-profit basis by Rabbi Ephraim
Kestenbaum, shlita, of Golders Green, London, under the hasgacha of
Dayan Osher Westheim, of the Manchester Bet Din.

There are many medical conditions which can result in wheat intollerence
and so the demand for oat matzot is large, and the matzot are being
distributed this year throughout the Jewish world.

The particular strain of oats selected by Rabbi Kestenbaum are of
particularly low, benign, gluten content (tested by the University of
London). According to all the authoritive medical and rabbinical
opinions we have received, from the UK, the USA and Israel, these matzot
are therefore suitable for sufferers from Coeliac Disease to partake of
a kzait on seder night. (We nevertheless recommend particularly
sensitive coeliacs to refer to their own medical and rabbinic

The oat matzot also have very low (sodium) salt and fat content (these
ingredients also were not detected in any quantity by the
University). Each machine baked matza has approx 123 calories and 26.63
gr of carbohydrates.  Oat matzot are rich in fibre.

These shmura matzot are harvested under the closest rabbinic supervision
- indeed this year Rabbi Kestenbaum himself (aged a young 71 years)
mounted the combine harvester, took the wheel and controls, and
harvested the oats himself!  The milled oats are then imported into
Israel for machine production under the joint auspices of the Manchester
Bet Din and the Jerusalem Rabbinate.  A quantity was also shipped to the
USA for hand production in Lakewood, NJ.

Rabbi Kestenbaum's shmura oat matzot are distributed on a cost-only
basis around the world, including the USA, the UK and Israel, with
smaller quantities going to South Africa, France and Australia.

For further details, please contact one of the following:-

	Rabbi Ephraim Kestenbaum, shlita - London - 0181 455 9476
	David Morris - Jerusalem - 972 2 5833151
				email <scitronx@...>
	Rabbi David Kestenbaum, shlita - Lakewood, NJ - 908 370 8460

Bevirkat Chag Kasher Vesameach

David Morris


End of Volume 26 Issue 23