Volume 30 Number 04
                 Produced: Thu Nov 11  5:19:44 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chanukah Presents
         [Tszvi Klugerman]
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Leap of faith vs. trust
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Mimetic tradition (2)
         [Jordan Hirsch, Ellen Krischer]
Responsa for Gluttonous Eating
         [Russell Hendel]
Taking down Sukkah right after Yom Tov
Y2K and Shabbat
         [Yosef Branse]
Yesh Om'rim
         [Rachel Smith]


From: Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 10:59:16 EST
Subject: Chanukah Presents

I'm sure that this has been discussed before but I want to know when the
tradition of Chanukah Gelt or Maot chanukah (giving money to children on
Chanukah) etc. came about.

I assumed that it was to make the dreidel game more enticing but I'm not
sure. Could it have been to emphasize in some way the sharing of the
mitzvah of lighting the candles? One who doesn't have his own menorah
joins in with a small contribution to the purchase of the fuel and

In our own times, in America at least, the giving of presents seems to
be a competative alternative to Christmas presents. Should we discourage
this practice?

Are there any instances in Halacha where a Minhag Yisrael ( custom of
Israel) has been changed or stopped because it was too similar to the
practices of the non-Jews?

Does Daniel Sperber's work on minhagim relate anything along these

Chodesh Tov



From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 10:30:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re: Ketubah

Yehuda Poch writes:
> When I got engaged three years ago, the first thing I did was offer my
> bride a pre-nuptial agreement that anchored the ketubah in civil law.
> The agreement was drawn up by a lawyer who is licensed in both New York
> and Israel and who is familiar with Rav Teitz's opinions on the matter.

I'm so glad you took the initiative to make such a civil agreement.
Hopefully one day they won't be needed.  I'm interested in some of the
details, specifically what the restrictions are on this type of
agreement in both the halachic and civil dimensions.

Why precisely is it okay to have a civil document to enforce the ketubah, 
but not to force gittin in the case of a civil divorce?  

Why does this type of pre-nuptual agreement tied to a religious document
not fall under the NY Supreme Court's decision to not comply with a beis
din's request to force a husband to give a get to his wife?  (The court
was under the impression that this would be forcing a religious belief
on the husband.)

I see differences in these cases, but I'm curious what the precedent is.
Also, if you could give cites for R. Teitz's tshuvot on the matter, that
would be good.

On an aguna-related issue, has anyone ever tried to prevent the
case of agunut caused by a husband disappearing (which is rare, but
nonetheless tragic)?  It occurred to me that radio tracking devices 
implanted by ecologists who wish to track animals over long periods of
time must be very safe, reliable, and inexpensive in order to be used so
widely.  Has anyone ever heard of a case where a woman whose husband had
a particularly dangerous occupation where he might god forbid disappear 
asked her husband to wear such a device?



From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 1999 00:50:07 -0500
Subject: Leap of faith vs. trust

Some have commented on my little postscript to a piece on problems
associated with traditional marriages.  In speaking of marriage as a
leap of faith and comparing it to religious beliefs, I did not mean to
make a philosophical statement.  I was only attempting to bring a larger
picture into focus.  In truth, some of our major decisions and outlook
can be seen as a leap of faith as well as trust.  How many are so
confident of their fiancees after several months of courtship that only
earned trust is involved in their committment, rather than a combination
of instinct, emotion, and trust?  How many are so blessed that they can
see the guiding and benificent hand of G-D in their lives, and so
respond simply in terms of trust without a need for faith, as well?
Life is complicated and the history of the relationship between G-D and
man is complex.  Without mentioning an obvious example, I think it would
be foolhardy to think of our relationship to G-D as one of trust without
the need for faith which allows us to accept those events for which we
have no rational explanation.  In addition to trust and faith, there is
also the need for a formal compact or covenant between man and wife, and
G-D and man.  Such a relationship can endure some episodes of friction
and anger as long as the greater good of maintaining the bond remains

Speaking of marriage and its impediments.  I find that my previous
analysis was a bit too bleak.  There is a serious movement underway to
remove some of the inequities in the marriage condition.  I am told that
many Orthodox Rabbis of the modern camp will only officiate at a
marriage which has been a preceded by a protective prenuptual agreement
of the type that has been fashioned by some leading Rabbinic figures in
Yeshiva University.

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Jordan Hirsch <TROMBAEDU@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 21:00:29 EST
Subject: Re: Mimetic tradition

<< I am not sure what the writer means by "masquerading as halacha". A
 formal enagagement is of course a requirement before marriage dating
 back at least to the time of gmoro, where we are told 'Rav mangid aman
 dimekadesh blo shidukhei' Rav punished with lashes anyone who took a
 wife without previously being engaged to her.  >>

Yes, that refers to Kiddushin, which is accomplished nowadays under the 
Chupah, with the giving of a ring.


From: Ellen Krischer <krischer@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 09:21:06 -0500 
Subject: RE: Mimetic tradition

> Perets Mett writes
>The writing of formal teno-im is also much less widespread nowadays,
>with most (or many) people relying on an a witnessed agreement which is
>not recorded in writing (hence a 'vort'). It is of course as binding as
>a written agreement. The custom of breaking a plate at an engagement
>goes back at least two hundred years, and is probably much older than

	I think Perets is mistaken here.  Formal teno-im (at least in
the states) is quite common but is done *at the wedding*.  It comes
complete with witnesses, plate breaking etc.

	I once heard a shuir where the Rabbi had researched the history
of wedding customs extensively.  He contends that "halachic" engagements
have moved closer and closer to the actual wedding because of the
problems of the status of the participants in the case of a broken
formal engagement (once a problem caused by pogroms, now usually caused
by problems that arise during the engagement period.)  In some circles,
there is even the view that broken tena-im requires a get, which
halachically seems problematic at best.

	Thus the vort serves the socialogical need for a formal
engagement announcement, but (at least originally) had no halchik,
contractual implications specifically in order to avoid the "broken
engagement" problems.  The fact that Perets can say such a party "is as
binding as a written agreement" goes directly to my contention that we
are inventing halacha.

	Ellen Krischer


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 21:47:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Responsa for Gluttonous Eating

Solomon Shimmel (Volume 29 Number 95) asks
<<I am interested in locating articles or responsa from the orthodox
Jewish community in the United States, that address and/or
criticize the Americanized, consumption-oriented food culture that has
developed in this population. To what extent do the elaborate wedding,>>

How about the famous Ramban in Lev 19:1-2 where he coins the term of a
RELIGIOUS GLUTTON to describe people who observe all mitzvoth but eg
overeat to much

In general the mideval literature is full of people who made comments on
such practices and I think a search on such literature would be

Russell Hendel; Moderator Rashi Is Simple;http://www.shamash.org/rashi


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1999 04:18:13 EST
Subject: Taking down Sukkah right after Yom Tov

I was thinking recently after Simchas Torah-that just like we have a
halacha that someone should not rush out of a Shul after
davening,because it could appear as if davening is a burden to him and
similarly,there is a teaching on the words 'Vayisu mehar Hashem' in the
Torah-that it is a bad thing said about the Jews at that time-that they
left the mountain of G-d hurriedly-as a child runs away from school-so
perhaps it is not a good thing for a person to take down their Sukkah
too quickly after Yomtov-esp. on Motzei Yomtov perhaps-because it could
appear that they want to quickly pack the mitzvah away-unlike the
attitude expressed in the Yomtov of Shmini Atzeres of 'kashe ali
praidaschem' (your departure is difficult to me).Maybe they should leave
it up at least through Isru chag-if possible.Perhaps if there is a need
to remove it quickly (e.g. if their landlord orders that or if they need
the space for parking,etc.),that could be considered a legitimate
extenuating circumstance.  (Although perhaps it could be argued that
even taking it down right after Yomtov is not taking it down right
away,as the using of the Sukkah was concluded by Simchas Torah-so it was
anyway up an extra day-but that argument seems weak because ST is a
Yomtov when it was prohibited to take it down-and also-even though it's
not really totally correct-many think of Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah as
connected with Sukkos [being the 'first days' and the 'last days'] ).



From: Yosef Branse <JODY@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 9:36:46 GMT
Subject: Y2K and Shabbat


With the Y2K panic rising to a climax, and with many of Mail-Jewish
readers involved in the computer field, I'd like to ask about something
that's concerned me lately.

I work in a University library in Israel. Our Y2K coordinator has
prepared a detailed plan for our operations in the period surrounding 1
January 2000. Among other things, it calls for all members of the
computer staff (explicitly excepting myself) to arrive at work on the
Big Day, which happens to fall on Shabbat. The goal is to check the
functioning of all our systems in order to minimize disruptions and loss
of service when the library reopens Sunday morning.

When the idea was first broached, a few weeks ago, I expressed my
vociferous opposition, pointing out that there is clearly no problem of
"pikuach nefesh" (danger to life) if a library's computer services are
interrupted. I suggested, instead, that we arrange to come in on Motzaei
Shabbat - which, at that time of year, would be early enough to enable
us to do the testing we need and still (probably) get a reasonable
night's sleep.

I didn't expect my objections to receive much sympathy, but as I am a
veteran member of the staff, I was at least listened to with respect,
and my views were included in the proposal submitted to the Library

I wrote a letter to a senior member of the University administration
(who is himself religious) asking whether the University had issued any
guidelines regarding Shabbat work on 1.1.2000 in the various
organizational units. It would not be just a matter of workers letting
themselves in with a key - the security apparatus would need to be
involved to, for instance in disabling the Library's electronic alarm
system and other activities causing additional chillul Shabbat.

His reply: In this matter, the University will proceed according to the
law and guidelines from the State.

I asked a Rav what should be my stance in this matter. He answered me
that, having expressed my opposition, I was not obligated to do anything
else. "It's as if you work in a factory that's open 7 days a week, and
you work 6 days a week," he said.

In the interim, it seems that the plan for Shabbat work has been
accepted and will be carried out. It appears that according to the
Halacha I have done my bit, and can enjoy my Shabbat without pangs of
conscience that my colleagues are being m'chalel Shabbat (violating the
Sabbath laws).

I am concerned, though, that I might be asked to provide information,
training, etc.  prior to 1 January, that would be needed by them on that
date. Would I be violating the prohibitions of "lifnei iver lo titen
michshol" (don't place a stumbling block before the blind), if they
couldn't obtain the information any other way or "msayea l'davar aveyra"
(assisting in the performance of a transgression) if they could learn
what they needed unassisted, albeit with difficulty?

I wonder if the issue has come up for any other MJ readers. How is the
situation different between Israel and the rest of the world? Does
anyone face coercion to come in on Shabbat for Y2K-related work? What
legal protection would one have?

I realize that there may well be pikuach nefesh questions in regard to
hospitals, the military, the police, public utilities, etc, and the
Israeli Chief Rabbis have been asked about permitting Shabbat work in
such circumstances. I am interested in cases where considerations of
profit, efficiency, customer satisfaction, etc., rather than a genuine
risk to life and limb, are the motivating factors.


Yosef Branse
University of Haifa Library


From: Rachel Smith <rachelms@...>
Date: Tue, 09 Nov 1999 10:03:35 -0800
Subject: Yesh Om'rim

In the Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries (Rema, Mishna Brura), are
there rules to determine if the author actually holds like the "yesh
om'rim" (YO)?  Sometimes a 1st opinion precedes the YO, sometimes
not. The Mechaber usually explicitly adds "v'yesh lachush l'divreihem"
or something similar when he holds like a YO, but the Rema rarely does
(e.g. the last Rema in the 1st helek of the standard 6-volume printing
of the Mishna Brura, regarding Sim Shalom at Shabbos Mincha - does the
Rema hold like this or not?)

Thanks -R.


End of Volume 30 Issue 4