Volume 30 Number 13
                 Produced: Wed Nov 17  5:40:17 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders
         [Avi Feldblum]
Kinyan of a Woman for Marriage or Yabmut (levirate marriage)
         [Daniel Israel]
Kissing Tzitzis
         [Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum]
Kittles for Men and Women
         [Russell Hendel]
Schindler's List
         [Eric Jaron Stieglitz]
Shehechiyanu on the Sukkah
         [Daniel Israel]
Shomer Mitzvot Adoption list
         [Zara Haimo]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 05:13:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders

On Sun, 14 Nov 1999, Russell Hendel wrote:
> 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.

The use of the term "you" above I think somewhat confuses the issue. I
think the question is what is considered "ordinary" behavior. If you are
living in a society where a man does not speak publicly to a married
woman who is not his spouse, then to go and do that is a violation of
"borders" or we may be concerned that it could lead to issues of arousal.
(Bringing in Moshe and Sarah is again somewhat of a red herring here,
halacha in general does not deal with singular individuals, and if we
forbid something because we are concerned that the average individual
might have problems, it does not become permitted because exceptional
people would have no problems.) 

The fundamental question that needs to be answered when dealing with these
type of topics, in my opinion, is whether a stricture is based on what
halacha viewed as the "normal" societal conditions, or whether the halacha
is trying to create a halachic societal condition independent of what the
conditions at the time are. If stricture A is based on prevailing societal
norms, then, for example, handshaking or talking with a married woman may
no longer be an issue as they would not be seen as violating any normal
borders (and indeed not doing so may be viewed as abnormal or creating
artificial borders). On the other hand, if Chazal is telling us that the
society as mandated by Torah forbids these items in an absolute sense,
then it is no different from say not eating pig, which we all understand
as being totally disconnected from what society around us is doing.

Avi Feldblum


From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 13:02:26 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: Kinyan of a Woman for Marriage or Yabmut (levirate marriage)

I must admit that I don't understand Jay Rovner's post.  Perhaps I
missed what it was a response to, I could not find any earlier post on
the subject in the archive.  However, it is not necessary to apeal to
Rashi as Peter Borregard does.  The Gemara itself asks why the Mishna
uses "niknes" [aquired] rather than "mekadesh" [lit. "sanctify", in
context "marry"].  The basic answer is because "kesef" [money] is one of
the methods of kiddushin and "kinyan" [aquisition] is the term typically
used in transaction involving kesef.

I am not sure why we need an alternate explanation from the one the
Gemara provides.  For more details see Kiddushin 2a.

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ


From: Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum <Yeshiva613@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 21:13:54 EST
Subject: Re: Kissing Tzitzis

The reason tzitzis are kissed at the end of Baruch Sheomar are plain.
The tefila thanks G-d for creating the world.  The world was created for
sole purpose of the Torah - Taryag Mitzvas.  Hence - we kiss the tzitzis
since they represent the taryag mitzvahs.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 20:17:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Kittles for Men and Women

Percy Mett in v30n1 asked for "clarification" on my view that since
kittles a) remind ourselves of goals of spiritual purity b) remind
ourselves of the day of death(and induce a sense of humility),
consequently, since women need these reminders also they are allowed to
wear kittles.

Percy writes
This requires some clarification. On of the reasons given for a man
wearing a kitl is that the kitl is one of the takhrikhin (burial
shrouds) in which a man is dressed for burial. Thus wearing a kitl
during one's lifetime serves as a reminder that man is mortal, which
should lead to thoughts of teshuvo.

I don't think that the takhrikhin of women include a kitl, so there is
no point in a woman wearing a kitl during her lifetime either.

I asked my Rabbi about burial customs. He pointed out that
1) Both men and women are buried in white tachrichin
2) Sometimes women's tachrichin are frillier
3) Since the man **may** chose to bury himself in the kittle he wore 
during his lifetime therefore we say "men are buried in kittles".
But from the point of view of law there is no difference between
men and women (they are both buried in white tachrichin).

Thus my original point stands: Whether Kittles a)remind us of the color
of purity (White) or b) remind us of the white tachrichin that both men
and women are buried in (and hence induce a sense of humility)--either
way since the goals of the kittle are needed by both men and women they
both should be allowed to wear it to achieve these goals

Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; <RJHendel@...>; http://www.shamash.org/rashi


From: Eric Jaron Stieglitz <ephraim@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 19:39:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Schindler's List

Moshe Nugiel writes:

  > Gitelle Rapoport writes:
  > >One of my nephews' teachers at a yeshiva high school once told his
  > class that they should not see the film "Schindler's List," despite its
  > powerful portrayal of certain elements of the Holocaust, because it has
  > a nude love scene and scenes of naked Jews in the concentration camps.>
  > "Schindler's List" is a good example.  I saw it and I thought it was
  > absolutely inappropriate for high-schoolers, or for adults for that
  > matter.  Let us grant that the scenes do not arouse the prurient
  > interest of the viewer (which is probably untrue for the high-schooler.)

  Given the following: The film is extraordinarily explicit and is therefore
inappropriate for all but the most mature of children/teens. Teachers
and parents should exercise their judgement carefully before showing it.

  > I would still argue that a very negative impact is made upon
  > impressionable viewers.  The hero of the film, Schindler, treats women
  > as mere objects.  The villain sadistically beats his house-maid.  What
  > possible positive benefit can be derived from such entertainment?  There
  > are many books and movies which offer "powerful portrayals of certain
  > elements of the Holocaust" without the gratuitous abuse and negative
  > role modeling.  Such filth should never be allowed to enter the
  > consciousness of our children.  The potential good, viz., learning about
  > how awful was the Holocaust, is certainly outweighed by the potential
  > harm of introducing into our children's awareness deviant behavior
  > patterns.  For this to be done with a parent's blessing is, IMHO, not in
  > line with normative Jewish parenting principles.

  Back when I was in Junior High School, the Rabbi of our class decided
to show us the TV Movie "Escape From Sobibor." While much less explicit
than "Schindler's List," the movie certainly has scenes with extreme
amounts of violence.

  There's one particular scene in the movie where a group of 15 prisoners
attempts to escape and is caught. The leader of the camp lines them up
in front of all the other prisoners and instructs each of them to pick
one other prisoner so that he can execute a total of 30 prisoners. When
they refuse, the leader threatens to pick 50 more people to die if the
condemned prisoners will not agree. In the end, they picked 15 more.
(I should note that an actual survivor of Sobibor once told me that
this event had not actually occured there; the leader had made threats
of this nature, but had thankfully never carried it out.)

  When the movie ended, I recall that one of the first questions we
asked our Rabbi was regarding whether or not the prisoner's decision to
pick 15 other people to die had been within halacha. We all knew the
general rules of what one was not allowed to do in order to save one's
own life, but even as 12-year-olds, (most of whom I would probably not
show "Schindler's List" to), we were perfectly capable of seeing the
complexities involved with this issue. Instead of simply assuming that
their action had been OK, we asked for an explanation of how halacha
would view the problem.

  It is here that I must disagree with your assessment of "Schindler's
List." Your reasoning seems to feel that by exposing children
("impressionable viewers") to this type of material, one is "introducing
into our children's awareness deviant behavior patterns." From my
reading of your statement, it appears that you feel that showing any
portrayal of improper behvior might cause these "impressionable viewers"
to mimic that behavior. You seem to believe that by preventing children
from seeing a material like this, they will never have awareness that
such behavior occurs. Your comments also make me wonder in what light
you saw the movie given your reference to it as "entertainment," and
your description of two of the main characters as "hero" and "villain."

  I disagree on a number of counts. First, to the best of my knowledge,
the movie is considered to be an accurate portrayal of the people and
events.  While not quite a documentary, it's close enough. Therefore,
this isn't a fairy tale with a "hero" and "villain." Instead, it
describes real people as they reacted to real events. These real people,
with all their faults, are human. Do you wish your childrens' only "role
models" to be people who perfectly follow halacha? If so, good luck
finding such a person, given that each year even the leaders of your
community must search through their past with kavanah [moderator -- do
you have a good translation for this? [kavanah would be something like
intent, I think the context here is more of honest soul-searching
maybe. Mod]] as they say Viduy. Better, I think, to show that a real
person -- even a greedy womanizer like Schindler -- can find it within
himself to do tshuva (repentance) and save many lives. In addition, the
very fact that Schindler's character involved so many contradictions
could be used to spark a fascinating discussion about how one should
view such a person in light of halacha.

  Earlier, I pointed out how even 12-year-olds possessed the critical
thinking to notice a complex halachic problem when they saw one on TV.
Why do you believe that older teens would be so enthralled by
Schindler's treatment of women that they would not question it?

  Finally, I should mention that in the same school I discussed above, I
once came across some copies of Elie Wiesel's "Night" that were intended
for high school students. A few days later, I noticed that they were
being returned. Why? Because at one point within the book, Wiesel
denounces God. Some teacher had felt that this was inappropriate reading
for an Orthodox student. A few years later, I had the chance to read the
book for myself. While I had not been in the class from which the book
had been banned, I found myself thinking back to that moment, and
realized that somebody had deprived those students of the ability to ask
serious and meaningful questions about how one should live as a halachic
Jew given a world where the Holocaust can occur. While a large amount of
maturity is necessary to hold such a discussion, we should attempt to
tackle such issues, even when the answer is "I don't know," rather than
ignoring them and assuming that our children will also.



From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 13:10:56 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: Shehechiyanu on the Sukkah

Akiva Miller seems to be assuming that a shehechiyanu must be on a
mitzvah that is being performed at the time the bracha is recited.  I am
not convinced that is the case.  Consider the shehechiyanu made on Purim
before the Megillah reading.  When reciting (or answering "amen") to
that bracha, one should have in mind that it also includes the other
mitzvos of Purim (shaloch manos, matanos l'evyonim, and the seudah).  So
it seems it is possible to make a shehechiyanu which includes mitzvos
which one is engaged in, and other related mitzvos which are yet to be
performed.  Perhaps similarly one eating out on the first night of
Sukkos should have in mind that the shehechiyanu not only covers the
current meal, but includes the building of one's own Sukkah as well.

P.S. While writing this I though of another question.  What mitzvah
exactly does the shehechiyanu cover (kiddush, the seudah, etc.)
normally, or is it not on a particular mitzvah at all?

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ


From: Zara Haimo <zara@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 17:10:27 -0600
Subject: Shomer Mitzvot Adoption list

SMAL, the shomer mitzvot adoption list, is an email discussion group of
traditionally observant adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents,
and others who want to discuss issues related to adopting children into
Orthodox Jewish families.

The topics that get discussed range from the adoption process itself to
halachic conversions to helping older adopted children adjust to their
new lives.  The list provides a supportive forum for parents to ask the
advice of others who have been there before them. It differs from other
adoption discussion lists in placing a special emphasis on the issues
faced by observant families.

If you or anyone else you know would like to subscribe to SMAL, please send
an email to:



     subscribe smal [your email address] [your full name]

in the body of the message, e.g.

     subscribe smal <ploni@...> David Ploni

Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone you think would
be interested in participating, but please do not post this notice to
any other mailing list, discussion group, or web site without checking
with the listowners first.


End of Volume 30 Issue 13