Volume 28 Number 58
                 Produced: Sun Feb 28 10:54:34 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Automatic Flushing Toilets & Shabbat (2)
         [Fred Dweck, Steven White]
Birchat Kohanim
         [Rabbi Freundel]
Ordering coffee from non-kosher (treif) establishments (3)
         [Rose Landow, Richard Wolpoe, Bill Bernstein]
Reincarnation (2)
         [Mordechai, Robert Israel]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 09:32:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All! 

First of all, my wishes to all of you for a very happy Purim! Those of you
who recieved a message that issue 56 was too long for you to receive
(mainly the people on Juno, I think) that issue was the Purim edition, and
you can download it from the mail-jewish web site. If you do not have web
access and did not get the email version, please contact me and I will
split the issue into a few parts to email out. Those of you on AOL, you
should see the message in your mbox, but will need to download it to a
file and then open it up with a text reader or editor (what can I say, AOL
email agent is pretty hokey). 

I'm getting more comfortable with Pine, (although I do still miss emacs
VM) and working through a schedule to continue getting mail-jewish out on
a regular basis again. The primary address I would request that everyone
use is: 
Use of this address will maximize the probability that your message will
go out in a timely manner. The other issue I have been seeing is that some
messages are coming in a MIME format where the message is first in text,
and then followed by a copy of the message in HTML format. If you know how
to avoid doing that, it would help. In general, reviewing your posting and
making sure it is written cleanly and with correct spacing, punctuation
and spelling will always help. 

OK, back to putting together another issue of mail-jewish, so you can read
this message from me :-).

Avi Feldblum 
mail-jewish Moderator 


From: Fred Dweck <fredd@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 11:05:46 -0800
Subject: Re: Automatic Flushing Toilets & Shabbat

David Kramer wrote:
> If it wasn't for the need to initially break the beam to start the
process (and start a pulsing LED light) I would assume that the flushing
is not a direct result of an action but a Grama--the fact you are no
longer in the beam.

To which Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ replied:
<If you're correct in that some forbidden action occurs when you move to
a urinating position (or when you leave the urinal), and if that action
always occurs when you do so, I would think you couldn't do so under the
axiom of "p'sik raishai" ("if you cut off a chicken's head, will it not
die?").  The same methodology would apply to an automatic sink.>

There are many things to consider here:

The first thing one must determine is if there is, in fact, a "melacha"
(forbidden action) at all.

The first question is, is there and issur to breaking the beam? If so,
what is it? IE: What "Melacha" is one transgressing? Also, one needs to
consider what action, if any, occurs by breaking the beam. If an action
does occur, is it a "melacha" (prohibited action)? If it is a prohibited
action, is it an "asa'ah" (a direct action) or a "geramah" (a caused
action) which is permitted. (see Talmud Bavli; Shabbat 120:2)

If no forbidden action occurs by breaking the beam, then does one occur
by moving away? Here the principle of "mesir et ha'moneah" (taking away
a restriction) may apply. This is also permitted on Shabbat.

There are also other factors involved here. Could this be considered a
"davar she'eno mitkaven?" (a thing which he has no intetion to do,)
(since one wouldn't mind flushing the toilet manually, and therefore has
no need for this device) which is permitted. Ex: walking on dry leaves
and grinding them, or walking on grass and, thereby, uprooting some
grass, which is permitted. Or, a "melacha she'eno sericha legufah" (a
prohibited act that he does not need, or desire for itself).

If it is a prohibited action, is it "de oriata" or "de rabanan"? If it
is "de rabanan", then is there in fact a "pesik reshe?, and if there is
one, does it benefit him in any way, or is it innocuous to him? If it
has no benefit to him, and it is a "de rabanan" then it is permitted.

Then there is the issue of "sakana" (danger) in this case. If he has no
other place to urinate, it would be a danger to hold it in.

These and other issues need to be resolved before a pesak can emerge. If
*all* of these issues are not taken into account and resolved, then a
pesak would be invalid.

I have not tried to answer the question or give a pesak, rather to
elucidate the issues, and what needs to be considered in order to arrive
at a pesak.

"Gal enai ve'abita niflaot mi'toratech" (Open my eyes that I may see
wonders from your Torah)

Fred E. (Yeshuah) Dweck

From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:42:37 EST
Subject: Re: Automatic Flushing Toilets & Shabbat

Before we start going down this track too far, may I suggest a couple of
different factors:

 1.  Most authorities (such as R' Sh. Z. Auerbach, ztz''l) seem to hold
these days that absent heating or incandescent lighting issues,
electricity prohibitions are rabbinic, rather than Torah.  (Some hold
differently; no flames, please.)
 2.  I don't think p'sik reisha holds against rabbinical prohibitions.
 3.  Alternatively, this is "melacha sheaino tzricha l'gufa" (melacha
that you do not because you need the work of the melacha, but because
you need, say, the by-product).  A "melacha sheaino tzricha l'gufa" is
generally rabbinically prohibited, so this would be a d'rabbanan on a
 4.  These melachas are also not being done in their normal, active
"derech" anyway.  Again, d'rabbanan on a d'rabbanan.
 5.  It's really questionable whether activities that trigger melachas
because of infrared signals you can't see -- and which you take no
active role in, and don't need -- are considered melachas at all.  You
can walk through the hotel lobby, even if there is a security camera or
motion sensor running, for example.
 6.  Maybe if you can really hold your bathroom needs until you get to
shul, you can avoid the problem.  But if you need to use the toilet and
don't, you probably get into issues around making yourself sick, which
leads to other leniencies.
 7.  I suspect the hotel room bathroom would be superior to the hotel
lobby bathroom if both are equipped with the same infrared equipment.
There may be a marit 'ayin (um, not doing something appearing to be
assur in public) issue, because even though we've thought it through,
the people seeing us there have not, and may get the wrong idea.
 8.  With respect to any hot water coming from the sink automatically, I
have heard in many places that at least outside Israel, using hot tap
water from a hotel sink is not a problem, because of a combination of
Grama and the fact that the system is designed to serve all customers at
once -- and the majority of customers are not Jewish, so the hot water
is not being made for "you."

Steven White


From: Rabbi Freundel <Dialectic@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:36:15 EST
Subject: Re: Birchat Kohanim

Kohanim tell me that this serves as a remainder that they must include
everyone even those they dont like in the bracha Not the original reason
but nice


From: Rose Landow <ROSELANDOW@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 08:41:02 EST
Subject: Re: Ordering coffee from non-kosher (treif) establishments

<< From: Joe Harlin <joeharlin@...>
Living in New York I have seen hundreds of people order and drinking
coffee from non-kosher establishments (Quik Check, McDonalds, highway
rest stops, etc.).

Basically, why should one be allowed to drink coffee from such

Even if we assume the coffee is kosher, the utensils were definitely
washed with hot non-kosher ingredients.

On what do such individuals rely to drink coffee in such establishments?

I assume we're talking about take-out coffee here.
 The coffee is unflavored, made in a giant urn with a paper filter,
served from a spout into a paper cup, into which milk is poured from a
gallon container in which it is bought.  Any sugar, even if added with a
spoon, is cold and dry.  Other than perhaps Bishul Akum (does it apply
to drinks, apart than food? ) where would there be a problem? What
utensils are used?  I don't think Marit Ayin is an issue because
everyone knows that people go into these places just to get coffee.

Rose Landowne

From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 13:33:50 -0500
Subject: Ordering coffee from non-kosher (treif) establishments

I asked an LOR once he said he did not do this, but his wife did.
Besides the issues mentioned above there is the possible issue of
"bishul akum".

Without issuing a psak, here are some bases to be lenient.

 1) Washing dishes together with "treif" dishes does not ipso facto make
them "treif".  The leniency here is based upon the principle that the
soap nullifies any positive taste.
 2) There is a "chazoko" than a stam keli is eino ben yomo. IOW, if the
dishes were "treifed" yesterday, they therefore might not be any positve
taste left.  (Nosein Taam lifgam).
 3) If the coffee utensils are typcially washed apart from the other
utensils there also might not be a problem.
 4) Paper cups get around any problem with dishes.
 5) Large coffee urns (such as at some establishments) probably never
contact "treif" directly.

It would be great to see publsihed responsa on this matter.
Rich Wolpoe

From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:10:34 -0600
Subject: Re: Ordering coffee from non-kosher (treif) establishments

in resposne to the query about drinking coffee in non-kosher
establishments:  I have always done this based on the fact that 
1) coffee is inherently a kosher item (at least unflavored)
2) heating water does not come under the problem of bishul akhum
3) The utensils are washed with soap, rendering any non-kosher
foodstuffs nosein tam lifgam.

I also usually use a disposable styrofoam cup.


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 08:12:32 EST
Subject: Re: Reincarnation

<<  From: Avraham Reiss <areiss@...>
 - I would like to see clarification of the claim of rejection.

 (Just in this week's Parshat HaShavua (Mishpatim) the Zohar HaKadosh
 opens with this subject. The Chessed LeAvraham gives great detail on
 this subject).
 Details of the "rejection" claim, please ...

See Sefer Emunos vaDeios liRav Saadia Gaon,Maamar shishi (6),Perek
shmini (8)- also see Encyclopedia 'Otzer Yisroel' (Eisenstein) and the
classic 'Pachad Yitzchok' Encyclopedia by Rav Shmuel Lampronti from
1700's Italy. Presumably works such as 'Encyclopedia Judaica' also have
information on this.  It's unfortunate that many people are only aware
of the hassidic view on this issue and are ignorant of the classical
Jewish views on the matter recorded in the writings of great authorities
such as Rav Saadia,Rav Yosef Albo (sefer haIkkarim),etc.


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 16:52:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Reincarnation

Avraham Reiss <areiss@...> wrote:
| "it refers to reincarnation,which is rejected by classical
| authorities such as Rav Saadia Gaon,as well as by contemporary
| authorities such as Rav Aharon Soloveitchik (based on Rav Saadia)"

| - I would like to see clarification of the claim of rejection.

Saadia Gaon is quite explicit about his rejection of reincarnation.  The
following is quoted from The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, Treatise VI,
Chapter VIII (English translation by Samuel Rosenblatt, Yale University
Press 1948):

 Yet I must say that I have found certain people, who call themselves
 Jews, professing the doctrine of metempsychosis, which is designated by
 them as the theory of the "transmigration" of souls.  What they mean
 thereby is that the spirit of Reuben is transferred to Simon and
 afterwards to Levi and after that to Judah.  Many of them would even go
 so far as to assert that the spirit of a human being might enter into
 the body of a beast or that of a beast into the body of a human being,
 and other such nonsense and stupidities.

 Now I have studied the considerations which, they maintain, led them to
 accept this doctrine, and found that they consisted of four mistaken
 premises, which I deem it proper to list now and refute.  The first is
 that they adhere to the theory of the spiritualists and the three other
 theories, or they are unaware of the fact that the advocates of the
 doctrine of transmigration have derived it from the theory of the
 dualists and the spiritualists...

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel 
University of British Columbia            
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2


End of Volume 28 Issue 58