Volume 30 Number 12
                 Produced: Wed Nov 17  5:22:24 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders
         [Russell Hendel]
Loshon hora and realism
         [Chaim Mateh]
Schindler's list
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Value of the Ketubah
         [Kohn, Shalom]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 22:59:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders

Moshe Feldman (Volume 29 Number 99) writes
3. I would add that other halachot mentioned in se'if 5 (such as
she'elat shalom [sending a greeting] to a woman) are dependent upon
social mores.  If one does something out of the ordinary, this is likely
to create sexual urges.  In a society where public affection is rarely

The suggestion that eg saying HELLO to a married woman (when you
don't ordinarily say HELLO) creates "sexual urges" seems a little
bit of an exaggeration.

Rabbi Friedman in his book "Doesn't anyone blush anymore" suggests
that many of these halacoth (including even Yichud) can be "better"
understood using the concept of "borders". To quote Rabbi Friedman
the reason say "Moshe Rabbaynu" and "Sarah Imothainu" can't have Yichud
is not because we are worried they would sin, but rather, the reason is
to create borders for their sexuality thereby increasing there sense of

I would similarly say here...if you don't normally say HELLO but you
say HELLO to a married woman we are not worried about sin or even
arousal, rather we are concerned that you have broken your borders
of modesty

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; <rjhendel@...>
Moderator Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 12:00:04 EST
Subject: Loshon hora and realism

<<  From: Moshe and davida Nugiel <friars@...>
     Our community of Beit Shemesh has a wonderful email chat list.
 Amongst other functions, posters will ask for others' experiences with
 particular tradesmen/professionals.  Or more likely, one will simply ask
 the list, "does anyone know of a good widget-maker in town?"  Recently
 the question has been raised as to whether one is transgressing the laws
 of lashon harah by posting to the list information, especially negative,
 about local vendors.  It is argued that one is forbidden to potentially
 damage someone's parnasa and/or reputation.  OTOH, it is equally well
 argued that if someone is providing substandard goods or services, that
 the community should be warned, and that that person's parnasa ought to
 be reduced!
     Is there a legitimate, more lenient set of guidelines, which can
 solve Chiam Shapiro's dilemma, and also help protect the consumers of
 Beit Shemesh?  Or is there relative unanimity of outlook by the poskim
 on this issue (which in itself would be a marvel)?  Can it be that one
 man's reputation is sacred to such an extent that we must sacrifice the
 psychological health of future generations in order to protect it?

Firstly, I would like to say that we have a klal (principle) in Torah of
'vichai bahem' (vilo sheyamus bahem)-that our holy Torah is basically
made to live with-enhancing our lives-and not to die from. The same
applies in the area of loshon hora.
 I think that many times people are too machmir (stringent) in this
area. Conversely, others are too lenient, sometimes to the point of just
about totally ignoring the laws. The true Torah way, as it so often is,
seems to be in between the two extremes.
 I think that it is quite conceivable, as Moshe suggests, that some
rulings of the Chofetz Chayim zt"l in the area of loshon hora would not
be accepted by all poskim-just as not all his rulings in the mishna
berura are.  Let us remember-as the Chofetz Chayim himself said-that
being too stringent in this area can bring great tragedy, chas
vesholom-as we see in the Navi in the case of the great tzaddik Gedalia
ben Achikam, who was killed after ignoring a warning that people were
plotting to kill him. This great tzaddik didn't want to believe that
people were plotting against him. We know that the halacha is that even
when we should not absolutely believe loshon hora, we are allowed to
take measures to guard ourselves, just in case it indeed is true. Our
Torah doesn't advocate 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil'
 I think, that there is a danger, concommitant with the commendable
upsurge in consciousness re loshon hora and related prohibitions, of
transgressing by being too stringent in the direction of not
talking/believing.  I have speculated that perhaps Tzom Gedalia falls in
the aseres yimei teshuvah (when many are engaged in introspection) to
teach us that when we are examining our behavior and charting possible
things to be improved on, we should remember that we should not go to an
extreme of being more religious than the Torah teaches us to be-like the
great Gedalia-because, as then, such behavior can bring destruction
(churban), G-d forbid.


tzom gedalia-my vort,etc.


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 1999 23:43:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Negiah

Vol.30#05, Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...> wrote:

<< The Rambam in 21:1 specifically refers to hugging and kissing a woman
*derech ta'avah* -- i.e., in a sexually desirous way. One of the sources on
Mr.  Schoemann's list, the Shach, Yoreh Deah 157:10, quotes the Rambam as
dealing with such activities "derech chibat biah" -- in an affectionate
manner related to sexual intercourse -- and points out that many amoraim
hugged and kissed their daughters and sisters, who were certainly
prohibited to them sexually as "ervah" -- presumably because there was
affection but no sexual element present. >>

OTOH, the above Shach mentions the Bais Yosef (aka Mechaber aka Shulchan
Aruch) on the Tur Yoreh Deah 195, towards the end of the siman, in D"H
"vekosav od", in discusing taking care of a sick person (where there's
no question that there's no taava), who says, "...but according to the
Rambam [who holds] that touching an ervah (negiyas ervah) is forbidden
by the Torah...".  IOW, the Bais Yosef holds that the Rambam holds that
negiah even without taava is a Torah prohibition.

Also, the Rambam is talking about Malkoss (39 lashes).  The Shach also
is saying that the Rambam holds there is malkoss only if there is
touching with taava, strongly implying (kach mashma midvarav) that
touching without taava is still a Lav (Torah prohibition) albiet without

Tz"I (Tzarich Iyun)

Kol Tuv,


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 19:41:10 -0500
Subject: Schindler's list

This thread had been running with the title, "mature love".  It would be
appropriate, then to discuss the question of appropriate reading or
visual material in a mature fashion.  However, the characterization of
the movie, "Schindler's List" as "filth" and filled with "gratuitous
abuse and negative role modelling" is not a mature or accurate depiction
of the film.  It would be salutary if would-be posters on topics were
aware of the general understanding of the topics that their comments
address.  Schindlers List is widely acclaimed as one of the most
powerful and meaningful films to come out of Hollywood.  Its creator,
Steven Spielberg, has dedicated the profits from this film to advancing
holocaust studies and awareness.  Among the beneficiaries of his
largesse is the project to video tape the recollections of holocaust
survivors while they are still with us.  You may well argue that the
treatment of the subject is for mature audiences.  The violence
graphically portrayed against innocent Jews is definitely not
appropriate for impressionable children.  However, the film can in no
way be characterized as " filth".  Even the few bedroom scenes with
Schindler and sundry women are intended to provide a fuller picture of
the man.  He was greedy, unfaithful to his wife, fond of liquor and
women - yet rose to the occasion and became a father to those innocent
Jews under his care who seemed to have been abandoned by GOD and man.
Even his success with women is used in service of his new calling.  The
grudging admiration by some brutish men such as the Nazi commandant of
the Krakow ghetto is used to obtain some amelioration of the lot of Jews
that are packed in cattle cars in sweltering heat in one scene.
Schindler's relationship to Polish women is definitely not model
behavior, yet his relationship to his Jewish employees - men, women, and
children is beyond reproach.  Both in the film and by testimonial from
the "Schindler Jews", he was always considerate, caring, and
encouraging  in an environment where gross sadism was rampant.  In the
end, he risked his life and spent his fortune for his Jewish wards.  So
much for a "terrible" role model.  As far as the sadism of the Nazi
commandant is concerned, only someone with a sick mind could choose him
as a role model.  Yet, even he is shown with a tiny spark of humanity.
The very scene that our "reviewer" reviles as sadistic, actually shows
him tormented by an inner conflict - his "infatuation" with his Jewish
slave woman and his revulsion at his feelings.  Given his brutal
character, this conflict is portrayed by his beating her while engaged
in his conflictful monologue.  In the end, he is unceremoniously hung by
his Russian captors.  Only in sanitized verions of history do we find
perfectly virtuous heroes and totally evil villains.  Schindler's List
is, however, an attempt to depict some of the real history of the
holocaust.  It should be applauded rather than reviled.

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Kohn, Shalom <skohn@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 11:36:13 -0600
Subject: Value of the Ketubah

In response to posts by Larry Rabinovich, in v30n05 and Mike Gerver in

Certain passages in the gemara permit estimates of the value of the
ketubah and its relation to other commodities.  For purposes of this
analysis, dollar comparables are taken from the November 11, 1999
closing prices for silver of $5.17 per troy oz, and $2.67 per bushel of
soft wheat.

Bava Metziah 60b describes an example in which the price for a koor of
wheat was 25 dinar, and then the currency inflated and the price became
30 dinar.  A koor according to Rav Naeh is 7 bushels, and 12 bushels per
the Chazon Ish.  (Information re: measures here are taken from the
excellent volume 1 of Rav Steinsalz's Talmud.)  Because a dry measure is
1 1/2 times that of a liquid measure (accounting for the mounding of the
contents), this translates to 10 1/2 and 18 bushels respectively, and
permits computation of the wheat value of a dinar at $1.12 (or $0.93
with inflation) per R. Naeh and $1.92 (going down to $1.60) per the
Chazon Ish.  By the way, the $1.92 figure corresponds to R. Steinsalz's
estimate that a perutah is worth about 1 U.S. cent, and there are 32
perutah in a Ma'eh and 6 Ma'eh in a dinar (32 x 6 = $1.92).

Tosafot in Ketubot 62b refers to a wheat pricing of one se'ah for a
selah.  A se'ah is 1/30 of a Koor and a selah is 4 dinar.  (The
se'ah/selah equivalence is apparently derived from Bava Batra 86b,
although that gemara uses both 1 selah per se'ah and "30 for a koor,"
which nominally compares to the 30 per koor in Bava Metziah above,
although selah currency is worth 4 times as much.  This is an issue
whose resolution is beyond the scope of this analysis.)  Computing the
wheat value of a dinar per this measure yields a dinar value of only
$0.23 (Rav Naeh) or $0.40 (Chazon Ish).

It is also possible to calculate the silver content of a dinar, per R.
Steinsalz's statement that a Ma'eh contains 384 milligrams of silver
(doubtless derived from Rambam Hil. Shekalim 1:3 in terms of barley
grain equivalents) , and the fact that there are 31.1035 grams of silver
in a Troy Ounce.  At 1/11 silver prices, this translates to a silver
value of 38 cents per dinar.

A ketubah is 200 dinar (or 100 dinar for a widow), so based on the above
computations the ketubah could have a values ranging from that suggested
by Tosafot in Ketubot of $46.73 (Rav Naeh) and $80.10 (Chazon Ish), to
$76.59 (silver value only), to a wheat value per Bava Metziah 60b of
$186.90 or $224.28 (Rav Naeh), to $320.40 or $384.48 (Chazon Ish),

Five more sources which potentially can be used to derive values
different from the above, or shed insight on the issue: 1) Bava Batra
86b also uses the example of hiring a worker for 1 dinar a day; 2) Sotah
21b defines the 200 dinar level of wealth (actually, the text refers to
200 zuz, but a zuz and dinar were equivalent, see Rambam Hil. Ishut
10:8) as the poverty line, such that if someone with that wealth could
not take Leket, Shichcah and Peah (gleanings for the poor); 3) Chagiga
2a (see Rashi) indicates that an animal for a the pilgrimage holiday
sacrifices (korban chagiga or korban re-iyah) could be bought for one
silver Ma'eh, or 1/6 of a dinar; and 4) a weekly ration of food was 2
kab of wheat (Ketubot 64b), or 1/3 of a Se'ah, which at the 30 dinar per
Koor measure is equivalent to 1/3 of a dinar; and 5) a wife's "mad
money" - her weekly allowance for personal use - was to be 1 Ma'eh, or
1/6 of a dinar.  Given that efficiencies in the harvesting of grain
arguably paralleled the gains from discoveries of silver to which Mike
Gerver replied, these measures of purchasing power may be more
indicative of what was trying to be accomplished by the Ketubah (to make
the husband loath to divorce his wife), and the source of the Responsa
(teshuvot) which require a value of the ketubah beyond the current
silver (or wheat) value of the 200 dinar.

Shalom L. Kohn
Sidley & Austin, Bank One Plaza, 10 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60603
312-853-7756; 312-853-7036


End of Volume 30 Issue 12