Volume 30 Number 20
                 Produced: Fri Nov 26  5:42:20 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders
         [Daniel Katsman]
mail.Jewish helped an Aguna
         [Rabbi Yosef Blau]
Monarchy and Halacha
         [Shlomo Yaffe]
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Simhat Tora
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
Sources for Negiah
         [Russell Hendel]
Telephone calls for tzedakah and appropriate response
         [Stuart Wise]
         [Michael Berkovits]
Where would you like to live? (2)
         [Aaron-Joseph Gilboa, Perry Zamek]


From: Daniel Katsman <hannah@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 22:50:40 +0000
Subject: Re: Do modesty prohibitions prevent sin or create borders

Russell Hendel (vol. 30 #12) wrote:

> 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
> modesty.

While Rabbi Friedman's rationale is perhaps a benefit of observing the
yihud prohibition, it can hardly be considered the source of the
halakha.  Moshe Rabbenu and Sara Imenu could not "be mityahed" because
halakha doesn't grant exemptions on the grounds of "tzidkus"; part of
the strength of the system is that we have the discipline to abide by
the rules, even if they don't apply to us in particular circumstances.
We should also not forget the principle "ein apotropos la-arayot": when
it comes to sexual matters, no one can consider himself immune to

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva


From: Rabbi Yosef Blau <yoblau@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 07:18:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: mail.Jewish helped an Aguna

Three years ago Elu Klagsbrun wrote to mail.Jewish about his Mother who
had been an Aguna for twelve years.  His Father had found unscrupulous
Rabbis who had given him a heter meah rabbonim without rquiring a get
and had remarried.  The issue of mail.Jewish was seen by R.G, an
Orthodox communal activist, who offered to help.  This week after much
additional pain and lawsuits initiated by the husband, he gave her the
get.  While it should not have taken fifteen years a woman's suffering
has ended.  Many Rabbis deserve credit for helping but this activist,
who does not want his name mentioned, worked continuously for three
years and the wife is free.
 Yosef Blau


From: Shlomo Yaffe <syaffe@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 08:15:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Monarchy and Halacha

I don't know about Abravenel , but in Thomas paine's "Common Sense" that
catylised the American revelution the core of the book is based on
Shmuels response to the Jewish people after they asked for a king to "be
like all the nations"
He seems to have known (3rd hand or so) many of our classic commentators
on this Perek in Nach and also some of the Rambams premises have crept in
Read it and you will see it!


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 23:17:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Shaimot

> [Question: I was under the impression that if a Shem was written by a
> non-Jew or someone who knew nothing about the Shem, such writing does
> not have the same level of kedusha as a Shem written to be God's name,
> and as such should not require burial. Could someone help with what the
> halachot here are? Mod.]

One of Rabbi Reisman's tapes discussed this issue.  I think it was tape
M131, Writing a Sefer Torah, Melachim aleph 20:1.  However, this is from
memory.  For example, what if someone wanted to write the word yihyeh
(yud hei yud hei) and accidentally made the second yud a vav.  Or the
name Yehudah and left out the daled.  Or the name Shalom which is one of
the shaimos.  Or "judges" or "idols" elohim.

If I remember the tape correctly, none of these cases go into shaimos
and may be erased or discarded.  The halacha would seem to be the same
regarding the Times.

Consider a sefer torah written by a min (heretic) can be burned.
Similarly, the pamphlets written by the Xian missionaries who call
themselves "messianic jews" (sic).

Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore" | Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
 Jews are the fish, Torah is our water | Zovchai Adam, agalim yishakun


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 10:01:03 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Simhat Tora

Here in Israel Simhat Tora is Shmini Aseret - which means that about once
in 3 years it falls on Shabbat. This is more of a problem than Oneg Yom
Tov - as one has to have 2 Seudot. Junk food and cake is not a Seuda
Shenia. As pointed out proper planing can solve this.
Our vattikin minyan was packed this year - and finshed before 9am. We went
to other Hakafot after the morning seuda & after Minha so the small kids
shouldn`t miss out.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 1999 23:05:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Sources for Negiah

Gitelle Rapport and Ellen Krischner (MJ v30n05) have already begun
criticizing Danny Shoemann's citation of an anonymous authority on
negiah to answer Josh Jacobson's question on behalf of his son for
sources for the variety of prohibitions associated with negiah.

I would go a step further and criticize not laying out CURRENT practices
in terms of a STREAM OF AUTHORITIES starting form Biblical sources,
going thru Talmudic sources and culminating with recognized Posayks
accepted by the Jewish community.

Therefore,in this short posting allow me to present the 3 basic Biblical
sources, as well as some controversies among rishonim.

There are 3 main Biblical sources:

Lev 18:6 and 18:19. The Rambam holds hugging, kissing,  oral
sex and benefitting from nearness/touching of skin to be biblically
prohibited with a punishment of lashes (Rambam;
Forbidden relations, 21:1). The Ramban in his commentary on the Book
of commandments holds hugging, kissing rabinically prohibited. EVEN
the Rambam holds 'sibling kissing' not to be Biblically prohibited
(since there is no element of 'lust' in the act). (21:6).

The above controversy is only on the applicability of Lev 18:6,19.
The applicability of the arousal prohibitions will be discussed in #2.

Arousal seems to be Biblically prohibited by Nu15:39 and if I understand
correctly, the baalay tosafoth considered this a Biblical prohibition.
HOwever the Rambam brings down Nu15:39 not in the laws of forbidden
intercourse but rather in the laws of idolatry(2:3)--that is, it is
Biblically prohibited to doubt fundamental tenets of faith
(and it is Biblically prohibited to be involved with (non Jewish)
prostitutes who lead Jews astray.) It is strongly conceivable that all
other 'arousal prohibitions' are simply rabbinic according to Rambam.
Indeed, the Rambam's list of prohibited practices in Chapter
21 of Forbidden intercourses in the last half of this chapter seem to
be rabbinic prohibitions (eg not watching women bathe) not connected with
any verse.(Several authorities use Dt 23:14 to prohibit arousal)

Rambam explicitly allows this in Prohibited Relations 21:3 as long as
it is not lecherous. Although no text is given I would assume 'Love thy
neighbor as thyself' (Lev 19:18) would require that you only marry someone
you feel attracted to. (The importance of this 'allowance' should be
emphasized in any list of prohibitions)

4) Martyrdom
There is the additional issue of Martyrdom. For example, if the government
asked us to wear crosses or immodest dress we would have to commit
martyrdom. But it is not clear whether such an obligation exists if the
immodesty is not ordered by the government. Furthermore, Rambam (Foundations
Chap 6) prohibits martyrdom except when it is obligated (other authorities
**allow** martyrdom even when it is not allowed).

I believe the above covers the 'basics' that must be dealt with in
any discussion of this issue (whether thru known acharonim or thru
anonymous authors).

Russell Hendel; Phd ASA <RJHendel@...>


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 13:37:12 -0800
Subject: Re: Telephone calls for tzedakah and appropriate response

In response to Aviva Fee

Your sensitivity is admirable, but i think by being polite and letting
them complete their pitch and then kindly declining is probably the
kindest way of dealing with it. The spiel lasts seconds; the respect you
give them by listening to them is, to me, most admirable.

Which brings me to a related topic -- maybe an extension of your
questions.  We also get numerous phone calls, but often they are from
the same institutions that I just contributed to.  It annoys me that
their record-keeping is so shoddy that they have these poor innocent
volunteers wasting their time.  We always have our tzedakah ledger handy
so that we can respond to insistent callers that we contributed such and
such amount on such and such date with check number.

Also, some institutions, which will remain nameless, will call several
times a year for all their ancillary causes.  There are so many
worthwhile causes, that I don't appreciate being milked by the same

The bottom line is we all give to those causes we feel best about, and
as long as it is tzedakah and does some good, we should be rewarded for
our efforts.


From: Michael Berkovits <michaelberkovits@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 22:46:58 EST
Subject: Tzedakah 

"BTW -- if you work for a major company you may wish to see if they will
match your donations, also check and see if you can put "Jewish"
charities onto the approved annual United Way (etc.) donor list.
There's a lot of paperwork involved, but this way you (and co-workers)
can designate organizations such as Ohel, Agudah, etc., to receive via
payroll deduction."

i work for a bank in sydney australia and they match staff gifts to
charities dollar for dollar. there is lots of paper work to fill out but
it is the most worth it paper work you can ever spend your time on. just
imagine literally doubling the amount of tzedokah you give.


p.s. is there a particular list to subscribe to that anyone knows of
that deals with tzedokah issues???


From: Aaron-Joseph Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 09:30:45 +0200
Subject: Re: Where would you like to live?

I think the crux of the problem is in the very trend to look for a
community where everybody thinks talks and acts alike. While this might
seem to be attractive to you, wouldn't you be happier in a community
with a wide spectrum of belief, practice, approach? Unfortunately, I
fear that such communities are harder and harder to find, just because
too many people think like you.

Yosef Gilboa

From: Perry Zamek <jerusalem@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 09:36:15 +0200
Subject: Where would you like to live?

Carl Singer wrote (MJ v30n18):

> With the clear premise that everyone to my right is a reactionary and
> everyone to my left is a radical, it's always been difficult to find
> people just like me to populate my "ideal" town -- but I am most curious
> re: what others think are important (plus or minus) in choosing a
> community to live in, to raise a family, etc.

There's a Mishnah (in Sanhedrin?) that defines the requirements for a
town -- I don't recall all the details, but we should remember: the
doctor, the town clerk, the 10 batlanim (in the Mishnah, 10 guys who
were available for a Minyan at call), and at least 23 rabbis! :-)

In other words, a mix of scholars and laymen, services and
professions. A town of kollelniks only would not be the ideal, but
neither would a town of baale-batim only.

That's by way of a foreword.

I'd like to attempt a partial answer to the question, by focusing on
community administration issues (not the only aspect of the answer, but
certainly important).

I think that one of the important things needed in a Jewish community is
a unified Kashrut authority, recognized and accepted by the majority of
the community. It pains me to have seen communities where people have to
choose a caterer for a wedding, for example, on the basis of how many
fewer guests will "ask for fish". On the same issue, a community where
kashrut information is passed about in the form, "I heard from ploni who
heard from almoni that he thought Rabbi X said that product Y, under
Rabbi Z's supervision, *may* be problematic...", is a problematic
community. Kashrut is what is meant to unite us, not divide us.

Two mikvahs, if possible, run by the same body. For Tzniut reasons. And
locate them away from the shule(s). For Tzniut reasons.

One shule, if possible. Or a united group of shules, with a common
nusach (if viewed as appropriate), and one posek for issues of running
the shules.

A tzedakah fund or council -- not so that there would be a single body
to collect tzedakah, as much as to attempt to limit unnecessary
duplication of tzedakah and hesed initiatives. The council could
allocate times for fundraising campaigns (as is done in some
communities, to balance the load on contributors), could make other
facilities available (mailing lists, office support, audit, etc.) and
could initiate activities in areas that are being neglected.

One Hevra Kadisha. Not 2. 

An education framework that is Torah-true, not chumra-true. If they want
to teach chumra's, they will identify them as such. If they want to
adopt a kula (leniency), they will consult with the local Rav.

An Eruv. 

And maybe even a Kollel!

PS And a couple of Edim Zomemim as well :-)

Perry Zamek   | A Jew should live his life in such a way
Peretz ben    | that people can say of him: "There goes
Avraham       | a living Kiddush Hashem".


End of Volume 30 Issue 20