Volume 30 Number 23
                 Produced: Tue Nov 30  6:15:20 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abarbanel and Monarchy
         [Eliezer Finkelman]
Abarbanel on (American) revolution
         [Shalom Carmy]
Burial in a Kitl
         [Percy Mett]
Democracy--A Torah Value?
         [Joseph Geretz]
Kings Do Not Have Absolute Authority
         [Russell Hendel]
Near Death Experience
         [Avi Rabinowitz]
         [Chaim Mateh]
Telephone & Tzedaka
         [Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.]
Where would you like to live?
         [Oren Popper]


From: Eliezer Finkelman <Finkelmans@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 20:42:21 EST
Subject: Re: Abarbanel and Monarchy

<<  --do commentaries like the Abarbanel imply a HALACHIC opinion that there
 is no commandment of monarchy >>

In this case, the answer should be yes.
 The Abarbanel does not believe that we have a mitsvah to appoint a
king.  He writes, in the introduction to this section of Shoftim,
"Requesting a king is not a Mitsvah, but a permission. If, by an act of
the evil inclination of the people, they ask for a king, then that
entails the mitsvah that they appoint this king by the will of HaShem
Yitbarakh, from among the brothers, and not in a different way, and
there are five indications of this."  He writes, in the second
indication: "this is not a Mitsvah, but a narrative about the future,
and the Mitsvah is in the next verse" which demands that the king must
be an Israelite, and restricts the king's activities (in my edition,
this appears on page 167 of the second volume of Abarbanel's commentary
on the Torah. Also see Nehamah Leibowitz: Monarchy, a "May" or a "Must."
in Studies in the book of Deuteronomy).
 We should not make the effort to reconcile Abarbanel's rejection of
monarchy with the position that commands monarchy.  He rejects that
opinion explicitly.
Eliezer Finkelman.   


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 15:33:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Abarbanel on (American) revolution

Abarbanel was critical of monarchy as a form of government. He held,
however, that once a king is accepted, there is no right of revolution.
See his commentary to Dvarim 17. This point does not appear in the
commentary to Samuel 8.

Also note: for Abarbanel, once David is chosen, his line is consecrated


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 10:44:55 +0000
Subject: Burial in a Kitl

 I think Russell Hendel may have misunderstood what I was saying - I should
have made myself clearer.

>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

The minhag in all chevra kadishas in England ( I have been a misasek for
27 years) is that one of the takhrikhin for men is a kitl. It is not a
matter of choice. Every male is buried in a kitl. If he wore a kitl
during his lifetime, we use that kitl to bury him in. Otherwise a kitl
is supplied as part of the set of Takhrikhin.

[This is analogous to burial in a talis, practised outside Erets
Yisroel.  If the deceased wore a talis, that is used; otherwise a talis
is supplied.]

This minhag dates back to European custom and is referred to in Maavar
Yaboik, a sefer which deals with matters of illness death and burial. In
that work the kitl is referred to as 'sargeinos' .

It would appear from the work Gesher Hachayim that this custom is not
followed in Yerusholayim, but elsewhere it is widespread if not
ubiquitous and I am reasonably certain that it is followed in the USA.

Thus when the poskim suggest the wearing of a kitl as a reminder of the
day of death, it is not just a matter of wearing white. Although I don't
have the reference to hand, it is described as 'beged meithim elyon' =
the outer garment worn by the dead, which is precisely the role of what
we call a kitl.

Of course "from the point of view of law" there is no specific
requirement to use a kitl. But in practice that is what men are buried

Perets Mett


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 11:08:52 -0500
Subject: Democracy--A Torah Value?

Jonathan Grodzinski wrote:

> In order to rule long term, any State (king, Melech Hamashiach,
> President or what you will) must have the approval of the people as a
> whole. Otherwise the people will revolt and establish their own rule as
> has been seen throughout history. Hence even a theocracy must first be a
> Democracy.  cf "Aleinu" "viYekablu choolam et ol malchootecha" and only
> then "veTimloch aleyhem l'olam vaed" (or to put it another way "Derech
> Eretz kadmah laTorah")

Jonathan is proposing that a democratic acceptance of Melech HaMashiach
will be necessary as a precursor to usher in the Messianic
monarchy. While he is quite correct, that eventually, "viYekablu choolam
et ol malchootecha" - all will accept the yoke of Your (G-d's) rule,
history shows us that the democratic process is not necessary to acheive
this outcome.

We know that, immediately preceeding our redemption from Egypt, 100% of
the Jews in Egypt consented to the precondition for redemption (Korban
Pesach) and that 100% of those Jews were redeemed. A democratic
consensus? Hardly!

Rashi comments on VaChamushim Alu V'Nei Yisrael Me'Eretz Mitzrayim - And
the childeren of Israel went forth armed from Egypt. Rashi explains:
VaChamushim - 'literally armed', adding another explanation based on the
relationship to the word Chamesh - Five, Rashi explains that only 1/5 of
the total Jewish population merited redemption, citing the popular
medrash that 4/5 of the Jewish population [who did not merit, (or would
not accept? JG), redemption] died during the plague of Darkness.

A consensus which is arrived at by the elimination of those who would
either not merit, or stand in the way of, G-d's word can hardly be
called Democratic. In the future, (near future, please G-d) I would
think it most dangerous to assume a democratic perogative to vote No,
against acceptance of Moshiach.

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 00:00:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kings Do Not Have Absolute Authority

Aaron Wolf in Volume 30 Number 18 writes that

In Shmuel though we find that the king is given authority to take the
daughters and money of the people at will. The Gemara also learns out

No...this is not true according to anybody. Taking a woman (against
her will) is rape Taking money is theft. No one in Jewish law is allowed
to rape or steal.

(However once a women is married to a king if she
gets divorced she may not remarry to a commoner). Also a king can
give a uniform tax but he may not take property that does not belong
to him (See the great evil of Achav who stole Navoth's property).

I think there is a lot of good material in Aarons posting...but I doubt
the distinction between Shoftim and Shmuel is one of absolute vs not.

Russell Hendel; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/


From: Avi Rabinowitz <avirab@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 13:59:51 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Near Death Experience

Carl Sagan in "Broca's Brain" (last chapter?) states that the universality
of the experience across cultures and religions and types of people gives
it scientific credibility, and hypothesizes that it is based on the one
experience virtually all humans share - travelling through the birth
canal, experiencing pressure and pain, emerging into the light, the
cessation of pain, with the kindly face of the doctor the first visual
impression coupled with the warmth of the mother (he realizes that babies
do not see well, and some are born via Caesarean section....), and near
death the mind returns to the memories of birth .....


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 22:12:13 +0200
Subject: Re: Negiah

Re: 30#16, Chana Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...> wrote:

<<Rav Henkin shlita discusses this>>

This is the grandson of the famous Rav Henkin.

<< First of all, he holds that you have to draw a distinction between
hugging and kissing which are much more "b'derech tashmish" (ie sexual) and
mere touching, which he holds even the Rambam only holds is rabbinic, and
not from the Torah - (see part (7) p 124))  ...>>

Rav Henkin goes to very very great lengths insisting (simplistically IMHO)
that holding hands is not taavah and/or chibah (as is hugging and kissing).
 He made so many hairsplitting distictions, I was a bit surprised that he
didn't differentiate between pareve hand-holding (as perhaps shaking hands
at a business meeting, or helping the old lady across the street), and
not-so-pareve hand-holding (as when the boy strolls through the park
holding his girlfriends hand, or even dancing in a circle with many
boys/girls).  The latter is indeed chibah and taavah, and IMHO would be a
Torah prohibition even according to the Rambam.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggros Moshe, Even Hoezer, end of siman 56) says: "And
regarding that which you saw that there are those who are lenient... to
give their hand to a woman when she extends it;  perhaps they hold that it
isn't derech chibah and taavah.  However, in practice (lemaaseh) it is
difficult to rely on this".

Another puzzling thing in Rav Henkin's tshuva is when he says that two
concentric dancing circles (one being men and the other being women) are
not permitted because the men will look at the women (whether the women's
circle is inside or outside the men's circle).  However, he goes on, if the
two circles are separate, even without a mechitza, then it's OK because the
men won't look at the women.  If there is no mechitza, then the men are
capable of looking at the women dancing, and if I know men, they _will_
look at the women dancing.  I don't quite understand the distinction that
Rav Henkin makes between concentric circles and separate circles, vis-a-vis
men looking at the women.

<<He then refers to the Beis Yosef you quote above as indicating that the
Beis Yosef held differently about the Rambam, but (inter alia) suggests
that those who conclude that way are making the assumption that what was
done by way of medical care in those days was merely by way of touching.
However, he suggests that in fact medical care was far more invasive
(perhaps he is thinking along the lines of the different kinds of medical
care one would expect today from an ordinary doctor and from a

This is just a suggestion on Rav Henkin's part.  He brings no support for it.

Kol Tuv,


From: Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq. <khresq@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 00:54:07 -0500
Subject: Telephone & Tzedaka 

Regarding the tzedaka via telephone thread:


1.  The IRS is currently undergoing a reorganization such that all 
tax-exempt organizations will be under the cognizance of a single 
bureaucratic division.
2.  Even prior to this reorganization, however, the IRS was in the process 
of intensifying its scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations.
3.  There is a movement afoot among many, IRS and otherwise, to ensure 
accountability of tax-exempt organizations.
4.  The tax-exempt organizations have, of late, used increasingly 
sophisticated technologies to solicit contributions.

 Many things have resulted from the foregoing trends.  One of the more
apparent manifestations has been the increasing amount of telephonic,
snail-mail and internet solicitations by various tax-exempts, including
some of the familiar (and not-so-familiar) tzedakah organizations.
Telephone solicitors are required to maintain a "do not call" list, and
to place the telephone number of anyone requesting to not receive
solicitation calls on that list.  As for the snail-mail solicitations, I
have made copies of the duplicate address labels and enclosed a note to
the soliciting organization to "de-dupe" their lists.  I must question
the efficiency to which my tzedaka is put in any organization which fail
to do so.

Which brings us to the issue of tzedaka organizations which sell their
mailing lists.  Suppose I specifically request that an organization to
which I contribute NOT sell my name to other organizations.  What are
the halachic implications if my request is not honored?

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
P.O. Box 926
East Northport, NY  11731
631/266-5854 (vox) - 631/266-3198 (fax)
E-mail:  <khresq@...>


From: Oren Popper <oren@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 01:10:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Where would you like to live?

Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...> wrote:

> 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.

I was recently offered a job which would have involved relocating. The
one and only issue of concern to me was Chinuch of my children. I
believe getting the right (in your eyes) yiddishe chinuch for your
children is a cause worthy of messirus nefesh (self sacrifice). All the
other issues are totaly insignificant compared to this one.

Oren Popper


End of Volume 30 Issue 23