Volume 27 Number 36
                      Produced: Tue Dec 23  0:45:54 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Question about Cemetaries
         [David Zucker]
Bilhah and Zilpah
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Information and Shiduchim
         [Rachel Shamah]
Lying for shidduchim
         [Akiva Miller]
One Size Fits All
         [Joe Slater]
One Size Fits All (V27 #32)
         [Moshe Hillson]
Synagogue on top of the town
         [Reuven Miller]
Who makes babies?
         [Akiva Miller]


From: David Zucker <DAVIDIZ@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 23:54:21 EST
Subject: A Question about Cemetaries

I walk every morning. On the opposite side of the street where I walk is
a small cemetery. I was wondering what kinds of requirements/
obligations there were for Jews who live near, across or next to
cemeteries.  Personally I wouldn't like to wake up each morning to look
at a cemetery across from my bedroom or living room window.
 David Zucker 
Cincinnati, Oh 


From: Saul Mashbaum <mshalom@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 14:35:51 GMT-2
Subject: Bilhah and Zilpah

Sheldon Meth wrote:
>My understanding is that Bilhah and Zilpah were sisters and also sisters
>of Rachel and Leah, although Bilhah and Zilpah's mother was Lavan's

A statement to this effect appears in Bereshit Rabbati, a midrashic
compilation based on the work of Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan, on Bershit
29;24. Chanoch Albeck, in his critical edition of Bereshit Rabbati
(Jerusalem, 1982), p. 119, cites Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer as also being a
source of this midrash.

The midrash goes on to say that "some say" that Bilhah and Zilpah were
full sisters, but unrelated to Rachel and Leah; their father was a
brother of Dvora (Rivka's nursemaid) and their mother a maidservant of

I am indebted to "Otzar Ishei Hatanach" by Y. Hasida for the reference
to Bereshit Rabbati.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Rachel Shamah <Mywhey@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 1997 12:04:28 EST
Subject: Information and Shiduchim

David Herskovic <david@...>  says
>>In many cases the person being asked for information will give negative
information or simply nod their head to imply that all is not well.
Assuming that they are being truthful and that it being a shidduch there is no
loshen hara involved, what about breaches of confidentiality?<<

I couldn't agree more.  In my (volunteer) work I am privie to very intimate
details of peoples lives.  I am not a Rabbi's wife or a CSW but I do work with
many families through an organization that provides social service to
community members.  I work hand in hand with a CSW (certified Social Worker).
However the CSW isn't familiar with the people personally, I am.  They are my
neighbors, friends and sometimes even relatives.  If I were to ever reveal
something about someone that is my "client" the results would be disastrous.
The main thing I worry about is that if people CANNOT TRUST me (or my
organization) then they won't come for help.  Why should they suffer silently
when help is available?  Confidentiality is the key to getting people to ask
for help.  They know their secrets are safe with me.  I believe this is one of
the reasons our organization is successful.
all the best

Rachel Shamah


From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 17:56:39 -0500
Subject: Re: Lying for shidduchim

Aaron Gross wrote: <<< A potential husband who is expecting a large
family could be quite upset if his kallah-to-be is discovered to have
limited reproductive years. >>>

"Anonymous" responded in MJ 27:33. On the one hand, I believe that
Anonymous's complaints about how the system works presently are quite
valid. For example, I would love to understand why <<< within the
Torah-observant world, the primary if not sole way for a woman to find
acceptance is through marriage, ... followed by ... childbearing.
[Despite the fact that] the chiyuv (positive obligation) of marriage and
procreation devolves, per the letter of the halacha, upon men. >>>

On the other hand, I believe that there is also a certain amount of
over-reacting to Mr Gross, and I think his ideas were distorted

Example: <<< It seems to suggest that the primary criterion for an
acceptable "candidate kallah" is her reproductive potential and to
discount other important qualities both in the candidate kallah and in
the hatan-to- be... >>> Wrong! It only suggests that this is *one*
primary criterion. It is not wrong to consider child-bearing to be an
important factor in choosing one's mate, and it is not wrong to be quite
upset if negative information on this subject was deliberately withheld.
Of course, it is only one factor of many. Some factors are more
important than others. To some people this might not be a make-or-break
consideration. To others it could be, either on its own, or together
with other make-or-break factors.

Example: <<< Should the "Torah-observant world," ... relegate these
women to second- (or lower-) class status just because they are not,
not, to be altogether crass about it, "top-quality breeding stock"? >>>
As much as I can, I sympathize with such women, and my heart goes out to
them, and also to the men who have fertility problems, and also to
kohanim and mamzerim who have difficulty finding partners who are
halachically allowed. But I don't think that most men are looking for
top-quality breeding stock. I also don't think that most shadchanim
restrict their clientele to top-quality breeding stock. But the issue
here is not of "top-quality", but of known problems. Average-quality is
quite acceptable to most people in this regard. Do people check out
medical histories of prospective mates who are in their 20's? or do the
suspicions start only when someone is old enough that the chance of
fertility problems is getting appreciably higher?


From: <joe@...> (Joe Slater)
Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 02:47:35 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: One Size Fits All

> From: Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
> [As an aside, I heard one rabbi refute the idea that a husband is
> obligated by the kesuba to work to support his wife.  This rabbi argued
> that learning in kollel fulfills this obligation because the husband is
> doing a "spiritual hishtadlus".  That is, by learning Torah, the husband
> is doing G-d's will so G-d in return will provide support.]

I think it would be more impressive if this rabbi were to advise his
students to refuse kollel stipends.  It is bad enough that businessmen
live in a world of froth and fancy, but by handing over a proportion of
their earnings they deny others the ability to live on wholly real air
and unarguably actual water.

The partnership between Issachar and Zevulon (that is, between students
and businessmen) is an ancient one which was highly praised by our
rabbis of blessed memory. In fact more than this: most of our greatest
minds seem to have engaged in some sort of business. Your rabbi is
deprecating Rashi, Rambam and the Chofetz Chayyim to name only a few
that spring to mind. The Talmud was taught during the "yarchei kallah",
the months when students were free from the fields.  Ezra himself
instituted that the Torah be read on market days as well as Shabbos.

I'm sure that the idea of relative prosperity is attractive to many
students who would otherwise remain in yeshivot or kollelim, and that it
is a good idea to encourage pride in their studies. This must not be
done by deprecating the alternative: at the best this is foolish
(someone who wants a larger house and a car has advanced beyond such
arguments) and at the worst it displays arrogance and ingratitude. How
can someone who calls a businessman's labor illusory claim to be a
partner in the rewards? If he takes the money it is no partnership, but
mere charity.

Our rabbis said (M. Peah 8:9) that the verse "Barukh hagever asher
yivtakh bahashem ..." (Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d; and G-d
will be his trust") applies to someone who is in need of taking from the
community's funds, and yet doesn't.  Faith in G-d does not consist of
accepting tzedaka, but rather in refusing to depend upon people.


From: Moshe Hillson <xmjh@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 18:37:08 -0500
Subject: Re One Size Fits All (V27 #32)

Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof wrote:
> I think
> he's touched on an important question of hashkafa that I'd like to
> explore...in particular "not everyone can sit and learn". 
> I've tried to be objective about this here...I'd like to hear arguments
> on both sides...

First let me draw the readers' attention to a responsa by R. Elchanan
Wasserman (may G-d avenge his blood) published in Kovetz Shiurim and
reprinted in Kovetz Ma'amarim. I will not translate it, only bring the
main points concisely:

Q: Is it permissible to involve oneself in secular studies, and when?

1) If it brings one to read heretic writings, it is forbidden, even at
pain of death.
   See Leviticus 19:4 and Numeri 15:39.

2) Even if it does not, but one will be forced to mingle with non-Jews
or non-religious and it will likely have a detrimental influence
(especially during one's formative years), it is a violation of
<hishamer lecha pen tinakesh achareihem> - beware lest you be
lured/drawn after them (I don't remember the location of this verse).

3) If neither of the above will be transgressed, and one needs to learn
a trade/profession, it's a Mitzva.

4) If one wants to study a secular subject in order to "enjoy the
knowledge", one must not set aside time for it (la'asoto keva), but only
read it casually and superficially (derech a'rai - c'koreh be'igeret).
Otherwise, there is room to consider it Bittul Torah.

5) R. Elchonon decries the phenonenon of learning secular subjects
"lishma" - equating them with Torah concerning the property of the
studies "making one a mensch".

I highly recommend reading the responsum in its entirety - it deals with
many issues concerning the modern Jew. If it is not available in English
and someone badly wants a translation, I am willing to look into the
matter. Please contact me at <xmj@...>.

Note: In paragraph 3, R. Elchonon explains "said R. Nehorai: 'I will
leave aside all the professions in the world, and I will teach my son
only Torah'" as relevant to a father who sees that his son desires Torah
and is fit to be great in Torah. Otherwise, it's impossible to expect
everyone to not learn any profession (except after the coming of the

      I understand that a major reason that being a Kollelnik is
encouraged as a role model for everyone is that due to the dismal state
of the lack of prestige of Torah today, one needs several years in
Kollel just to find out if he "desires Torah and is fit to be great in

      I feel it is intellectual immaturity on the part of one who looks
down on Ba'aley Batim (laymen) as second-class or as "one of them and
not one of us". I am squarely in the Haredi camp, daven in a shul of
"yeshiva alumni", and thank G-d no one looks down on me or on any of the
other laymen there. That includes the minyan's Rav, who is a mussar
great from the previous generation, and a Moreh Tzedek of the Eidah
Haredit in our neighborhood.

Moshe Hillson.


From: <millerr@...> (Reuven Miller)
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 14:57:27 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Synagogue on top of the town

We learned in todays daf-yomi (shabbat 11) that a shul has to be built
higher than any other dwelling in town. This is brought down as a
halacha in shulchan aruch (I don't have the exact citation in front of
me- but it is cited unequivically as a halacha in orech chayim).  What
is the heter today to build shuls that are not at the highest point of
the town or even the neighborhood or the street?



From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 10:12:08 -0500
Subject: re: Who makes babies?

In MJ 27:34, Dr Hendel responded to my post (in MJ 27:31), writing:

>First: (Citing the Psalmist) If God doesn't make the house then of what
>avail are the builders...so God makes everything not just babies Also if
>all babies were miraculous makings of God then adulterers would not have
>any children and we see they do. So the first thing to note is that we
>DO make babies (in the same way that we make houses and dyes and
>everything else that needs assitance from above)

Of course he is correct that the builders can not and do not build the
house without HaShem's help and participation. But I disagree with the
remark that it is <<< in the same way >>>. There is a very real
difference between the way we make a baby and the way we make a house.

If I put two pieces of wood together with a nail on top, and I strike
the nail with a hammer, they WILL be connected. There is nothing in the
LAWS OF NATURE which will prevent me from accomplishing this goal.

In sharp contrast, marital relations do nothing more than to bring sperm
NEAR to an egg. We need the active help of G-d to get that sperm to
actually fertilize the egg. From a non-religious perspective, it is
random chance which controls whether or not the egg gets fertilized.
Either way, the humans are not in complete control of the situation, and
this is why my original post said <<< When a couple has relations, they
show no *mastery* of nature, but rather *participation* in it. >>> which
is why it may be done on Shabbos. (We have not discussed whether or not
in vitro fertilization is allowed on Shabbos.)

As a side point, I was taught that the reason why adulterous relations
do sometimes result in babies is that HaShem wants to maintain the
illusion that random chance controls the fertilization. If that illusion
would be shattered, we would lose some of our free will in whether or
not to believe in G-d at all.

Dr Hendel's second point, that the list of forbidden Shabbos activities
is derived from the labors needed for building the Tabernacle, which did
not include marital relations, is of course the true and correct
*technical* reason. Everything else has been a philsophical attempt to
find the underlying theme of those forbidden activities.

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 27 Issue 36