Volume 29 Number 56
                 Produced: Sun Aug 15  8:04:56 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alternatives to Kiddushin
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Do restaurants closed by Supervision withdrawal have a lawsuit?
         [Joseph Geretz]
Girl's school uniforms
         [Howard M. Berlin]
Kashrut Supervision and Shabbat
         [Joseph Geretz]
Lifnei Iver
         [Eli Clark]
Pop Culture and Slavery
         [Joseph C. Kaplan]


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 19:34:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Alternatives to Kiddushin

A number of people (mostly non-Orthodox, as far as I know) have raised
the prospect of marrying by something other than kiddushin so as not to
need a get.  (The example I've heard mentioned most often is Rachel
Adler's "Lovers' Covenant", described in the last chapter of her book if
anyone wants to read it.  It's essentially an agreement which may be
terminated by either party to pool assets in a certain way and to be
monogamous and build a certain kind of life together.  Rings are among
the assets pooled, so there's not the problem of a ceremonial
double-ring exchange.)

How viable are these as models for the non-Orthodox to be sort-of within
the realm of halacha (to the extent that they aren't producing mamzerim
should they divorce without get and have children in a second marriage,
etc.)?  (What I mean by "sort-of within the realm" is that we should
agree to ignore the question of whether it's lewd/immoral to not
contract traditional marriage and opt for something modeled on
concubinage instead.)

Most of the arguments I've heard are that such marriages would require a
get anyway, but then today I learned (in a completely different context)
that R. Feinstein once nullified a whole bunch of non-Orthodox
marriages, so as to prevent mamzerim, which made the problem seem less
intractible.  (I'm obviously not familliar with the details here,

Am curious what people think,



From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 19:08:24 -0400
Subject: Do restaurants closed by Supervision withdrawal have a lawsuit?

Let me restate the question, since I don't believe that Kashruth
organizations 'close' restaurants. They either extend or deny
certification based on the merits.

Do restaurants denied Certification have a lawsuit?

There was a front page article in last week's Yated (Shabbos Parshas
Re'eh) which relates to this question. The article, titled Landmark
Ruling: Canadian Court Rules In Favor of Halacha, deals with a Kashruth
organization which was sued by a client for refusing to extend their
certification to some of the client's other businesses.

Basically, the Kashruth organization had recently revised their
standards upwards to keep in step with increasing levels of observance
among the kosher consumers in their area. At the time of the standards
upgrade they decided to 'grandfather' in any business with current
certification, even though these businesses would not meet the current
standards as a new client. One of these businesses (included by the
grandfather clause) then tried to get his certification extended to some
of its other stores which were not previously certified and the Kashruth
organization refused saying that the owner (a Shabbos desecrator) did
not meet their current standards for new supervision. So the owner sued
the Kashruth organization in secular court.

[Sidebar: In another posting I discussed Shabbos observance as an
indication of an owner's character and trustworthiness. If anyone thinks
that character should not be an issue when granting certification,
answer this question: What level of integrity would certification have,
if Kashruth organizations need to be worried about getting sued in court
for 'blowing the whistle' on a violator?]

The judge, Madame Justice M.L. Bennotto, fortunately decided that the
case was beyond the jurisdiction of the court. She stated "It would be
inappropriate for the court in this case to interfere with the authority
of the rabbis".

The judge had another interesting observation to make as well:

"The plaintiff now seeks to obtain the advantages of the kosher business
without assuming the obligations which necessarily accompany such
certification. Having decided to operate within the Orthodox community
and taken benefit of the system, it cannot now claim it is prejudiced by
following one of its basic laws."

In other words, you can't have your cake and eat it too!
A very interesting article.
Kol Tuv,

Yossi Geretz


From: Howard M. Berlin <berlin@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 15:48:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Girl's school uniforms

I am familiar with the prohibition for Jews not to act like gentiles (I
don't recall the Hebrew phrase) which is repeated in a popular Yiddish
song in the verse, "Lomir zein nicht goyim..." However, there is one
point I have noticed repeatedly -- the school uniforms of girls in the
religious schools in, say, Brooklyn (Boro Park, etc.).

If I were blindfolded and not told where I was and then the blindfold
was removed, I would think that I would be looking at a group of girls
that go to a Catholic Parochial school, for it is the practice here in
Delaware (and I'm sure in Phaldelphia and elsewhere) that girls
attending all-girls Catholic Parochial schools have distinctive
uniforms, most often a plaid design. This genrrally recognized as being

In Boro Park where I have some relatives, I see the same style of
uniforms. I'm pretty sure that the Parochial school uniform has been
around far longer than the "Bias Yaakov" schools, but I don't see how
this doesn't conflict with the prohibition not to behave (or look) like

Kol Tov....

 /~~\       ,    , ,                             Dr. Howard M. Berlin, W3HB
|#===||==========#***|                           http://www.dtcc.edu/~berlin


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 18:37:46 -0400
Subject: Kashrut Supervision and Shabbat

Josh Hoexter wrote:
> My understanding is that a Jew who is mechalel Shabbos befarhesia
> (transgresses Shabbat in public) is considered like a non-Jew in these
> matters. Why would "drop-in" supervision suffice for a Dunkin Donughts
> owned by a non-Jew but not for one owned by a Jew?

There are two problems presented by a business which is open for
business on Shabbos. One problem is the potential for kashrut
infractions during unsupervised time. This problem applies whether or
not the owner is Jewish and can be addressed by 'drop-in'
supervision. We assume that if the owner knows that he is subject to
unannounced random drop-in's even on Shabbos, he will adhere to the
rules imposed by the supervising authority.

The second problem presented by a business which is open on Shabbos (or
whose owner publicly violates the Shabbos) relates to the general
character and trustworthiness of the owner. This factor however, only
applies to a Jewish owner. A gentile who runs his business on Shabbos is
doing absolutely nothing wrong. A Jewish person who desecrates Shabbos
publicly is demostrating that he does not care to keep G-d's rules so
why should we assume that he cares any more about the rules imposed by
the Kashruth organization? Thus, it is actually easier to grant a
Hechsher (approval) to a gentile whose business is open on Shabbos, than
it is to grant approval to a Jewish person who keeps his store open on

Kol Tuv,

Yossi Geretz


From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 14:30:00 -0400
Subject: Lifnei Iver

Israel Botnick writes:

<On Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999, Eli Clark wrote:
<< What if the nazir in question would only drink wine with a chaser of
<< ginger ale and has wine but not the ginger ale?  If Zvi were correct,
<< then giving the nazir wine and ginger ale would violate lifnei iver.
<< I think that is incorrect.  Similarly, I think that enabling mixed
<< dancing at a restaurant, where mixed dancing is possible elsewhere,
<< does not violate lifnei iver just because some people prefer to dance
<< where they eat.

<I think that giving the ginger ale would certainly involve lifnei iver.
<Convincing or motivating someone to do an aveira is also Lifnei Iver,
<even if the person is physically able to do the aveira anyway.  The
<gemara in Kidushin says that if a father needlessly angers his son by
<destroying objects, and it causes the son to get angry, then the father
<has violated Lifnei Iver. Despite that the aveira was enabled only

<There are discussions in the poskim[halakhic decisors] about selling a
<forbidden item at a lower than standard price. If the lower price will
<Convince people to buy it, (who otherwise stayed away b/c of the price)
<then it is lifnei Iver.

We agree on the halakhic principles, but not on how to apply them.
Indeed, I think your analysis is fundamentally flawed.

You cite two well-known cases: (a) a parent who angers a child, thereby
inducing the child to strike the parent and (b) one who sells an
expensive forbidden object at a discount, thereby inducing Jews to buy
it.  In each case, lifnei iver is violated because the action is a
necessary condition to the commission of the sin.  In other words, the
halakhah recognizes that an ordinary child would not strike a parent
unless angered and that an ordinary consumer would not purchase the
forbidden object except at a discount.  Thus, motivating a person to
commit a sin is lifnei iver, where that person would not otherwise
commit such a sin.  For another example, see the Gemara in Bava Metzi`a
stating that loaning money without witnesses violates lifnei iver,
because it induces the borrower to deny the loan.

But in the case under discussion, mixed dancing, there are countless
places where a Jewish couple can dance.  Generally, however, they cannot
do so in a hall that serves kosher food.  Zvi had suggested that,
because people like to dance where they eat, one violates lifnei iver by
serving kosher food in a hall where couples engage in mixed dancing.
But I think it absurd to say that providing kosher food induces mixed
dancing or constitutes a necessary condition for mixed dancing.  Just as
it is absurd to say that the providing ginger ale induces drinking wine
or is a necessary condition for drinking wine.

Thus, I do not understand your argument that lifnei iver prohibits
offering kosher food to prospective dancers -- who have many places to
dance -- or giving ginger ale to a nazir -- who has wine.  In both of
these cases, it seems to me, it is not the food or the ginger ale that
provides the motivation to sin.

Moreover, lifnei iver generally involves providing the actual prohibited
item (heftza shel issur) to the sinner, such as wine to a nazir or
interst on a loan (see the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a).  In the dancing and
ginger ale cases, no prohibited item is being provided.

Indeed, I think your argument is contradicted by the Gemara in Nedarim,
which explains that one can sell wood to people who worship fire because
rov etzim le-hasakah nitnu (=most wood is used for fuel).  In this case,
one is providing the actual item to be used in the sin, i.e., the wood,
but one can rely on the fact that wood is generally used for permitted
purposes, rather than idolatry.  This rationale should certainly apply
to the hypothetical ginger ale case, especially given that the ginger
ale itself is not prohibited to be drunk.

Kol tuv,

Eli Clark


From: Joseph C. Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 18:36:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Pop Culture and Slavery

In the thread about slavery in current and and Messianic times, some
posters argued that the aversion that many of us have towards the
institution, and reinstitution, of slavery is a result of the influence of
"pop culture." My understanding of pop culture is that it covers people
and items such as Madonna, Star Wars, Chicken Soup for the Soul, the
Simpsons, fad diets, Jay Leno, rap groups, Seinfeld, and the like. The
millions (if not billions) of people throughout the world (Jew and non-Jew
alike) who abhor slavery in any manifestation, and who have done so for
hundreds of years, certainly do not base their belief on anything they
learned from pop culture. Rather, it is based in a deeply felt sense of
morality that teaches us that people are not chattel and cannot, and
should not, be owned, and that to do so reduces the humanity of both the
slave and the master.

I believe that had slavery existed in the Jewish community in the year
1000, Rabbeinu Gershom, or some other equally luminous leader and scholar,
would have included a cherem (prohibition) against it together with the
cherem against polygamy.  While both may have been moral at a ceratin time
and under certain conditions, they no longer were at that time. Since
there was a need to ban polygamy which was still practiced, the cherem
against it was issued; the point was moot about slavery, though, since it
was no longer an exisiting institution. Therefore, no explicit prohibition
was necessary.

This analysis does not mean that we are better or more moral than our
ancestors who were engaged in polygamous marriages (as then permitted by
halacha); it simply means that we now understand that it is no longer a
viable, acceptable, or proper option. The same is true, I believe, for
slavery. Without judging those who came before us or questioning the laws
of slavery set down in the Torah and the Oral Law, it too is no longer
viable, acceptable, or proper. We don't own human beings, and when they
are in financial trouble, we don't take advantage of them. Rather, we
follow the lead of Maimonidies' highest level of charity ans assist them
in learning a trade so they can improve their financial position.  So
let's deal with the real and serious moral issues involved, and leave pop
culture for the tv and radio talk shows where it belongs. 
Joseph C. Kaplan


End of Volume 29 Issue 56