Volume 29 Number 74
                 Produced: Thu Sep  2 10:28:20 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Centrality of Olam Habah and Moshiach
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
EMLA for Bris Mila
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Fundamentals of Faith
         [Rachel Rosencrantz]


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 22:47:43 -0700
Subject: Centrality of Olam Habah and Moshiach

> From: Ken G. Miller <kgmiller@...>
> While these points are true, I think they miss the intent of the
> original question. Compare these two concepts to the other 11 items in
> the Ani Maamin, and you'll find that the others are either quite
> explicit in the text of the Torah, or are logical points without which
> the religion cannot stand. They are NOT dependent on hints and exegesis.
> #7: Moshe's leadership. --- Explicit in the last paragraphs of the Torah.
> #8: Our Torah is authentic. --- Logical requirement. If it were not
> authentic, authority would break down.
> #9: The Torah will never be changed. --- I understand this to be an
> extension of #7.
> The main point is that everyone agrees that Mashiach and Resurrection
> are very important concepts. At least according to those who *do* hold
> by a form of this list of 13, Mr. Adler's question still stands: How did
> these get to be so *important* without being explicit in the Torah?

Based on Akiva's idea of logical requirements or extensions, the concept
of Olam Habah is a logical extension of reward and punishment.  This is
due to the age old question of Tzadik vrah lo or why do the righteous
suffer. Olam Habah is the time when all of the rewards and punishments
will get straightened out.

The centrality of Moshiach might be resolved by the same concept.  Since
the world as we perceive it, is finite; there aught to be a resolution.
This would make sense as the whole world recogizing Hashem, as in the Al
Kein Nekaveh (by the way written at the time of Yehoshu <era of our time
machine> ;-) ). As to the exact way this is related to Moshiach I admit
is open to debate.

Kol Tov


From: Carl M. Sherer <csherer@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 16:56:05 +0300
Subject: EMLA for Bris Mila

As most of you already know, my son Shlomo David N"Y had a 
bris on Shabbos Parshas R'ei.

One of the things we thought about doing, and discussed with 
several people, was the possibility of using EMLA, a topical 
anesthetic cream that is commonly used before giving shots, 
drawing blood, etc., before the Bris. Please note that, although the 
Bris took place on Shabbos, I don't propose to raise Hilchos 
Shabbos issues in this post. Those can be saved for another time. 
What I would like to address are the issues involved in using EMLA 
for a Bris in general, and see if people's views have changed since 
this list last discussed the use of local (albeit apparently not 
topical except for one poster) anesthetics for a Bris in 1994 (see 
Vol. 14, Numbers 48, 53 and 55 - there may be others that I 

For those who are not familiar with it, EMLA is an anesthetic 
cream. In its ordinary use, it is placed on the skin surface from 
which one intends to draw blood approximately 30 minutes ahead 
of time. It can be effective in as little as 15 minutes; in our 
experience (we have used it regularly for the last eighteen months 
for Baruch Yosef) if you leave it for 90 minutes or more you are 
running a risk of skin irritations (at least). Shortly before you give 
the injection or draw the blood, you wipe off the EMLA, and you are 
left with a numbed skin surface underneath. (Note - this is very 
much a layman's explanation, but I think I have the basics correct).

We discussed the question of using EMLA with Shlomo David's 
sandak (who is a recognized posek) and mohel, both of whom were 
opposed. They also indicated that at least two gdolim in Eretz 
Yisrael have come out very strongly against the use of EMLA, one 
of whom apparently plans to publish a tshuva about it in the future. 
Among the reasons they gave me were that the baby is supposed 
to feel pain, that brissin have always been done in a certain way 
and we can't vary from how they were always done in the past, and 
that the use of EMLA would make the orla (foreskin) slippery and 
more difficult to remove.

However, we heard through the grapevine that there is at least one 
recognized posek in the States who not only permits the use of 
EMLA, but actually encourages it. He holds (according to what his 
daughter told Adina) that there is enough pain to the baby even 
with the use of EMLA, that to make the baby suffer when there is 
no need to do so is tzaar baalei chaim (generally used to mean 
making an animal suffer pain without reason - all the more so a 
child), and that since EMLA does not require an injection, there are 
none of the hatofas dam bris (drawing blood for the bris) concerns 
that were raised in the list's last discussion of this issue five years 

I also discussed it with one of my e-pals, who is a medical student, 
who made a bris about two and a half weeks before we did. She 
told me that she and her husband considered using EMLA but 
decided not to use it. She raised several medical concerns. First, 
she assured me that, contrary to what I thought before, the baby 
feels real pain despite the fact that the nerve endings are not fully 
developed. As proof, she mentioned how much a baby cries when 
its heel is pricked for a blood test, something I remember well from 
one of my own children. She cited medical studies of *physician* 
circumcisions, in which several indicia of pain showed that there 
was a real difference between boys who had received EMLA and 
boys who had not. 

Second, she said that there is some small risk of blood pressure 
dropping as a result of EMLA use, without any prior indications. 
When I pointed out that we had been using EMLA without a 
physician present to prepare one of our children for medical 
procedures for the last year and a half, she reminded me that 
*proportionate to a newborn's size* one would have to use EMLA 
on a larger amount of body space than would be the case for an 
older child.

Third, since a bris is not one of EMLA's official uses, the doctors 
she talked to were not really sure exactly how to use it for a bris - 
where to put it on, when (how long before the bris) and for how long 
to leave it on (it may take less time for a baby than the times I 
cited above).

Another concern is scheduling. Especially here in Israel where 
many brissin do not take place immediately after Shachris (unlike 
what seemed to be the case with every bris in the States), and it 
often happens here that a bris does not start on time or even close 
to on time. If you've applied EMLA, you cannot leave it on for too 
long, yet you cannot take it off too long before the bris or it will not 
help. Come to think of it, my first son's bris started over an hour 
late in the States (it was Rosh HaShanna and the baal Shachris 
went overtime), so I guess that could be an issue outside of Israel 

Finally, in the discussion about this topic on this list five years ago, 
the one post that seemed to be dealing with a topical anesthetic 
(and it may not have been EMLA specifically - I don't think EMLA 
has been around for very long) raised the issue that the anesthetic 
could inhibit healing of the wound after the bris. I have not 
researched the medical literature on EMLA sufficiently to comment 
intelligently on this issue.

In the end we decided not to use EMLA, since neither our sandak 
nor our mohel approved of its use. But, it bothered me enough that 
I have been planning for a couple of weeks now to write this post 
and see what collective knowledge this list has about the subject. 

1. Does anyone have a source in halacha for the idea that the baby 
is supposed to feel pain as part of the bris? I was told that when 
the baby is crying is the best time to make Mi Sheberach's for 
people, but is there a requirement that the baby actually cry from 
pain (as opposed to discomfort)? Is there a halachic requirement 
that the baby cry at all?

2. Is there anything in the use of EMLA that would render the bris 
b'dieved or worse? I understood the problem with giving an injection 
that was discussed five years ago, but it seems to me that EMLA 
takes away that problem by eliminating the issue of a false hatofas 
dam bris.

3. Is there really an issue of us having to perform the bris in a 
specific manner? I know that, for example, nearly all poskim 
oppose the use of clamps to reduce bleeding, require that the pria 
(pulling back the foreskin) be done with a fingernail, etc. I know that 
some poskim have sanctioned the use of a pipette for metzitza 
(sucking the blood). But to what extent are we halachically 
permitted to make changes in the mechanics of performing a bris? 
How would applying a cream and then wiping it off before the bris 
change the manner in which the bris is performed? Is there 
something the mohel would do differently because of the EMLA? If 
so, what? (I'm hoping we have at least one mohel on the list who 
can discuss these issues...). Is slippage really an issue?

4. What about the medical issues raised? Are any of them serious 
concerns? Would any of them make it unwise to use EMLA for a 
bris without a doctor being present? How significant are the risks 
involved, and are they greater than numerous other risks to which 
we subject ourselves and our children? How do those risks weigh 
against the benefit of the lesser pain the boy would feel during the 

I should add that my e-pal tells me that this entire issue is to be 
addressed in an upcoming issue of Assia (the fruhm medical 
journal published here in Israel), so if anyone can give a sneak 
preview, please pipe up!

Carl M. Sherer
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, 
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel. 
Thank you very much.


From: Rachel Rosencrantz <rachelr@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 09:00:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Fundamentals of Faith 

I'd like to reply more fully to this, but I also feel like I shouldn't
wait to reply, so I am going to reply in parts.  This is the first part.
(I'll go get more detailed references for part 2.)

>From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
>In modern times, there's been a misunderstanding with regard to
>Moshiach, which unfortunately we apparently picked up from Christians.
>In the famous disputation under James I of Aragon, between Nachmanides
>and Christian convert Pablo Christiani, Nachmanides tells us that
>Moshiach is waiting in Gan Eden.

Yes, he may be waiting in Gan Eden, but that is merely an ante-room.
Moshiach is supposed to be a flesh and blood king down on this earth.
See chapter 11 of Maimonides' Mishna Torah.

>What we are not told these days is how to get to Gan Eden, and how to
>draw down Moshiach.

We don't need to go to Gan Eden to draw down Moshiach any more than
someone needs to come to New York to get me to visit them in California.
There are many ways we have been given to bring Moshiach.  All of them
apply now, and apply to all jews everywhere, not just those who are
capable of traversing the worlds.

To name a few (1st two references from "Mashiach" by Jacob Immanuel
Schochet ISBN 1-8814-0000-X) :

 1)Teshuvah will bring about an immediate redemption, "Today, if you wil
listen to His voice." (Psalms 95:7) (Sanhedrin 98a; Zohar Chadash,
Bereshit, 8a; Hilchot Teshuvah 7:5.  See Midrash Hagadol on Deuteronomy

2) "If Israel will keep just one Shabbat properly Mashiach will come
immediately."  (Yerushalami Taanit 1:1)

3) Ahavat Yisrael, love of your fellow Jew (even the annoying ones, or
the ones you have "nothing" in common with).

4) Increasing in Torah and Mitzvot (and Tzedakah (charity)).  "Charity
hastens the redemption."

5) Studying and learning about the concepts of Moshiach.  There are many
Jewish places on the web where you can learn about the Jewish concepts
of Moshiach.  Some are:


and others.  (Most of these sites have links to others.)

There are also many books out there on Moshiach and
the sources. To list a few in English
 Chafetz Chaim on Awaiting Moshiach (ISBN 0-044070-97-3) (Targum Press)
Highlights of Moshaich Based on Tamudic Midrashic and Classic Rabbinic
Sources by Rabbi Abraham Stone (Sichos in English) (no ISBN).  etc. etc.

The web sites can offer (and sell in some cases) you some more on
the subject.

>This was the purpose of Rabbi Akiba and his three
>companions.  If all four had successfully reached Gan Eden in the
>"Pardes" meditation, those four would have formed the four-fingers of
>the Hand of G-d in the form of Moshiach.  But only Akiba returned whole.
>Moshiach as we now discuss the concept seems to have become an
>anthropomorphization a la the Christian model.  But I don't believe this
>was ever intended.  Instead, based on what we're taught, I believe it's
>much more reasonable to presume (and in the face of such a mystery,
>presume is all we can do, and we should be clear to label it
>presumption) that Moshiach is the personal "greeter" we each meet at the
>time of our death (or ego-death, in the Pardes meditation).

The Jewish concept of Moshiach and a messianic era is one where there is
a person and there are people in bodies on this earth experiencing G-dly
revalation.  "The world shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d as
water covers the Ocean."  etc. etc. etc.  In Gan Eden the souls only
experience a ray of G-dliness.  The whole reason for this world and the
613 mitzvot is to refine the world so that G-d can reveal himself and
have a dwelling place in this lowly world.  Unlike many other non-Jewish
religions where the purpose of "life" is to remove oneself from the
world, and the ultimate goal is to be only spiritual, Judaism's ultimate
goal is to be a soul in a body and G-d revealing himself on this level.
The era of Techiat Ha Meitim (Ressurection of the Dead) teaches about
this.  (See second blessing of the Shemonah Essray and many sources

Our role is in this world.  The incredible thing about Mattan Torah is
that at that point our actions (through Torah and Mitzvot) were made
capable of transforming this world.

> When we can
>accomplish the Pardes meditation, and when we are as humble and free of
>ego and willfullness as Moshe (or Akiba), then we can reach and
>experience Moshiach in the deepest meditation.

Moshiach is supposed to come down here.  Moshiach is for everyone, not
just those who have the ability to do great Hitboninut and lift
themselves above this world.  Living with Moshiach every day doesn't
mean leaving this world.  We need not be able to accomplish the Pardes
Meditation to experience Moshiach and to reveal Moshiach.

Many stories have been written about people going to get Moshiach by
going up to Shamayim (the Heavens), but these people were doing it with
the intention to bring Him down here. (Mordechai Staiman has a great
collection of stories about this, but I can't find the book right now.)

More powerful than any meditation are the actions we take when we care
for another Jew, when we pray to G-d, when we give charity to help
others.  Our Jewish soul is an actual piece of G-d.  G-d took that soul
and placed it in an animal soul with earthly desires, and in a fleshy
body. Why?  The soul needed no refinement.  The soul was placed down
here to transform the world.  When we get this animal soul, which
animates this fleshy body to do mitzvot, especially physical ones, we
transform the objects we do mitzvot with into holy objects.  We release
the sparks of G-dliness (the 288 sparks that fell from the shattering of
the vessels of Tohu) from the shells (klipa) that conceals them.

It may have been at one time that one needed to be a great Gaon and
master of the secrets of the Torah to bring down Moshiach, but the time
for the coming of Moshiach is for sure here.  "All of the keitzim have
passed" (the Gemara Sota).  (Keitzim - "ending dates" for the arrival of
Moshiach.)  That torch that may have been left up to the greats has been
passed to us.  We bring Moshiach by our mitzvot and by studying about
Moshiach and the Geulah and applying what we have learned.

Ad Matai,


End of Volume 29 Issue 74