Volume 29 Number 04
                 Produced: Wed Jul 14  6:26:57 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Answering police questions on Shabbat (4)
         [Isaac A Zlochower, Eliyahu & Sarah Shiffman, Josh Backon,
Gershon Dubin]
Is halacha a "ceiling"? (2)
         [Jeffrey Bock, Steven White]
OU and DE
         [Art Roth]
Saving Non-Jews from Danger involving Shabbat Desecration
         [Reuven Werber]
Slavery (was Vegitarinism)
         [Chaim Shapiro]


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 00:43:56 -0400
Subject: Answering police questions on Shabbat

In ml-jewish 29:02 someone raised the question about the propriety of
asssisting in a police investigation of a shooting on shabbat.  The
question arises from the recent shootings in the Chicago area where some
6 Jews were wounded in racially motivated attacks by a lone gunman.
Some of the bystanders who had information apparently withheld them from
police until after shabbat.  It is not my province to decide halacha,
but in a question of a possible danger to life and limb, then anyone
with knowledge has a responsibility to convey it.  I was shocked to
learn that some people believe that talking to the police about a gunman
on the loose is a desecration of shabbat.  On the contrary, if someone
has information that may lead to the apprehension of the criminal, then
they are required to reveal it.  One simply can not wait for shabbat to
be over, then it may be too late to save a life.  Such a situation, it
seems to me, requires overriding biblical shabbat restrictions such as
driving to the police station.  Just as it is obvious that someone
threatened with a lethal weapon must forego normal shabbat observances
to save himself and his family, so too must he be prepared to do so to
possibly save strangers.  I would hope that the Rabbis in West Rogers
Park saw fit to educate their congregants on this matter in the wake of
the shootings.

Yitzchok Zlochower

From: Eliyahu & Sarah Shiffman <shiffman@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 19:23:12 +0200
Subject: Answering police questions on Shabbat

>Can you write down the attackers lisence plate?
>Can you call police on phone to tell them you have information?

How can the answer be anything but "yes" to both of the above? Your
inaction could cost people's lives!

>Can you refuse to answer questions because it is shabbas?

What is the exact halachic problem in answering questions, even in a
non-pikuach nefesh situation? Even if he writes down what you say, you
haven't asked him to do so. And in the case of hu"l, where we're
presuming non-Jewish cops, there's the desirability of going in the way
of darchei shalom with our neighbors.


From: Josh Backon <BACKON@...>
Date: Tue,  13 Jul 1999 15:00 +0200
Subject: Re: Answering police questions on Shabbat

To answer  your questions:

1) How far does heter of saving a life on Shabbat go:
 One is forbidden to even ask such a question in the case of pikuach
nefesh or safek pikuach nefesh (see: Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim
328:12-13: "kol ha'zariz l'challel shabbat b'davar she'yesh bo sakana

2) Calling police (in the case of e.g. armed attack):
 In the words of the Tzitz Eliezer Chelek Daled, Siman 4 Oht 14: "mitzva
l'haz'ik et ha'mishtarah" (it is a mitzvah to call the police). Needless
to say, this is not relevant in the case of a burglary when the thief
has already left the premises. And there's even a daat yachid of the
Yaskil Avdi Chelek Heh, Orach Chaim 54) that permits one to involve the
(Jewish) police even in the case of a burglary where there is no case of
pikuach nefesh because there *may* be a possibility.

3) Writing down license plate number:
 In a related issue (recording witness testimony by tape recorder on
Shabbat by Israeli police after a major crime) the Darchei Chesed 10:7
is lenient and permits a battery operated recorder since its operation
would be an issur d'rabbanan.

Writing with a *shinui* (change of mode: a right handed person writing
with his left hand) is an issur d'rabbanan (Mishna Brura Siman 340 s"k
22) as is writing in English (see: Orach Chaim 306:11 in the Rema
quoting the Or Zarua) although this is not halacha le'maaseh (see;
Mishna Brura ibid s"k 47; but see the Yabia Omer Chelek Gimmel Orach
Chaim 23) who disagreed with the Mishna Brura).

My suggestion: switch hands and write in English.

PERSONAL NOTE: in 1977, when in the medical corps, I was duty officer at
the Shneller base in Jerusalem. It's Shabbat about 11:15; lunch as in
the entire army is to be served at 12:30. A cook runs in hysterically to
the infirmary and shows us a can of army stock Chumus which has a outer
paper label indicating that a same size container of RAT POISON got
mixed up in the army food depot (BASIS MAZON). A few frantic phone calls
later, the food depot acknowledged that a major mistake in labelling had
occurred and they were to immediately teletype 1400 army units NOT to
serve the Chumus for lunch.

Here was a safek pikuch nefesh involving potentially thousands of lives
yet all of us started making telephone calls. Later on we said we were
MACHMIR in pikuach nefesh rather than MEYKIL in shmirat shabbat.

Josh Backon

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 00:15:40 -0400
Subject: Answering police questions on Shabbat

>Shooting Attack on Shabbos raises questions?
>How far does heter of "saving a life go"
 I think the operative question is are you potentially saving a life?
If your questions are addressed to the point in time where the
perpetrator is still at large and capable of harming others, you can and
should do any melacha necessary to get him off the streets.

This includes calling the police, writing down evidentiary information,
etc. etc., whatever it takes.

 If he has been apprehended (or dead, as in this case), I don't see how
delaying doing melacha (answering questions is not melacha) to cooperate
with a police investigation until after shabbos will seriously impede
the case to the level of pikuach nefesh.



From: Jeffrey Bock <rashbi@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 09:20:21 PDT
Subject: Is halacha a "ceiling"?

Regarding Bill Bernstein's comment on vegetarianism: "a real problem I
see often: many people hold there is a standard of morality that goes
above halakha."

In an essay by Rav Yehuda Amital, I came across the following relevant

1) "To the question, 'Does the formal Halakha encompass all the duties
of a Jews?' Ramban (Commentary on the Torah, Vayikra 19:2 and Devarim
6:18) responded in the negative.  He explainsthat the mitzvot 'Ye shall
be holy' and 'Thou shalt do the right and good' are intended to place
upon man duties beyond those that he has been commanded: 'Even in regard
to that which He has not specifically commanded you, you must take heed
to do that which is good and right in His eyes.'"

2) Rav Kook: "Only that which is most essential for present physical and
moral life, and which, if weakened, harms the roots of the future,
becomes law, and [of this is is written,] 'Greater is he who is
commanded and acts'...This is the fate of [duties] 'beyond the letter of
the law,' which will be of great benefit when man's heart of stone will
turn into a heart of flesh." (Iggerot Re'ayah I p.100)

The essay on 'The Ethical Foundations of Rav Kook's Nationalist Views'
is available at etzion.etzion.org.il/archive/rya2-eth.htm

Yaakov Bock

From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 22:12:43 EDT
Subject: Re: Is halacha a "ceiling"?

In V28, #101, Bill Bernstein writes:

> While there is certainly no mitzva today (by and large) to eat meat,
> the poster imo has hit upon a real problem I see often: many people
> hold there is a standard of morality that goes above halakha.

Let's be careful here.  There's a problem where people hold there is a
standard of morality that goes above (sic) *Torah*.  Halakha is only
part of Torah, and still allows for a range of behavior between
*prohibited* and *required*.

Steven White


From: <Fauveism@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 06:28:17 EDT
Subject: Re: OU & DE

Also, Sephardim dont accept DE, as well.


From: Art Roth <ajroth@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 12:21:07 -0500
Subject: OU and DE

"cp" wrote as follows:
> There are several reasons why the OU avoids the DE designation and goes
> straight to D.
>	1) Most people see "Pareve" and don't know what the DE rules are.
>	2) DE can be a slippery slope. What if the equipment isn't cleaned as
>	   usual and a taste gets imparted onto the item? 
>	3) There is a dispute about how to calculate 1/60th that tangents to 
>	   dairy equipment. To over simplify: do you go by volume or surface
>	   area of the main item, secondary item or both?
> There are a couple of other things that influence their reasoning.

If this is indeed the OU's reasoning (and I have no basis for believing
or disbelieving this, other than cp's assertion itself), I consider it
well intentioned but badly misguided.  I will address the above three
points separately in this respect.

  1) A kashrut organization has responsibility to disclose the facts
about an item under its supervision which are relevant to the kashrut of
the item, but it is NOT their responsibility to worry that ignorant
consumers will misuse that information.  Otherwise ... 'ein ladavar sof
... maybe they should not supervise ANY dairy products for fear that
somebody will not know that dairy can't be mixed with meat!  Each Jew is
responsible for learning what is and isn't permitted ... and if they
make an honest mistake due to lack of knowledge, Hashem will certainly
forgive them.  On top of that, it is totally unfair to penalize
knowledgeable people who have made the effort to understand what is
permissible in order to "protect" ignorant people from their own
ignorance.  In doing so, the kashrut organization is in effect playing
God by prohibiting (to everyone) what Hashem has actually permitted to
us, and I find that not only objectionable but downright insulting.
Consumers are paying for supervision ... and they are entitled to ALL of
the available information that results from that supervision.

  2) The OU should be responsible for eliminating THIS concern via its
own diligence ... if the only dairy is supposed to be in the equipment,
the kashrut organization should have as much responsibility to make sure
that there is no contamination with actual dairy ingredients as it has
to make sure that there is no contamination with treif ingredients.
Otherwise, what service are they being paid for?

  3) I would guess that 99.9999% of supervised items IN A NORMALLY
RUNNING PRODUCTION PROCESS are either dairy according to both
definitions of the 1/60th rule or pareve according to both definitions.
The hechsher should reflect the status of the item in the absence of any
(presumably rare) production irregularities.  Accidents always need to
be dealt with on a case by case basis, whether those accidents render
treif a product which is normally kosher or whether they render dairy a
product which is normally pareve ... but the everyday hechsher should
not have to worry about production accidents because otherwise no food
could EVER be certified as kosher.  In the (presumably very rare) cases
where the normal process satisfies one definition of the 1/60th rule but
not the other, I would concede that it might be best to label the
product as dairy for the sake of simplicity.  Ideally, I'd like to see
the true state of information made known even in rare cases of that
kind, so that each Jew could decide with his/her own poseik whether to
regard the product as pareve or dairy, but even I will admit that a
separate symbol to indicate that kind of status would be highly

Art Roth


From: Reuven Werber <reuw@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 14:07:55 +0300
Subject: Re: Saving Non-Jews from Danger involving Shabbat Desecration

Recently, a discussion on saving Non-Jews from danger involving Shabbat
desecration was published in Meimad's bulletin. I am interested in specific
bibliographical citations of modern Responsa or halachik articles on the
topic in Hebrew or English.
Reuven Werber
Neveh Chanah Torah H.S. For Girls  -  http://www.nevnet.etzion.k12.il
Herzog Teacher's College - Yeshivat Har Etzion
International KidsConnect Volunteer Counselor


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 14:44:13 EDT
Subject: Slavery (was Vegitarinism)

<< I hear this voiced often: that if halakha is in accord with this
"morality" (whatever its source) then good; if not, then we need to
change/reform/reject the halakha.  I often wonder and sometimes ask what
the source of this "morality" is, but have yet to get a clear answer.
Any ideas? >>

	Hillel brings an intriguing point here.  What happens when Torah
morality is not in conjunction with pop culture morality?  One of the
most obvious examples is in terms of slavery, which according to the
Torah is moral when done properly.  How many people out there are
willing to say that they believe slavery is moral?

	I, in fact, have made that argument on several occasions in my
college classes.  The basis being that Life and Liberty are invented
concepts and that slavery bereft of racism does not violate the
utilitarian view of morality.  However, I would say that most Jews would
disagree with me on the strongest terms.
 Chaim Shapiro


End of Volume 29 Issue 4