Volume 30 Number 31
                 Produced: Thu Dec  9  6:59:47 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kriah of Ma'aseh Reuvein
         [Eliezer Appleton]
Near Death Experience
         [Warren Burstein]
Of Bicycles and Pogo Sticks and Poskim and Respect
         [Fred Dweck]
Previous Generations
         [Zev Sero]
Specific rulings (was re: Previous Generations)
         [Russell Gold]
The Ideal Community To Live In
         [Joel Rich]
Writing and Commentary
         [Linda Franco]


From: Eliezer Appleton <eappleto@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 11:08:19 -0600
Subject: Kriah of Ma'aseh Reuvein

I'm looking for sources on the correct way to read ma'aseh Reuvein -
Bereishis 35:22. Should it be read as one pasuk or two? In either case,
what would be the correct trop on each word? Are there different
minhagim?  Why is there a piska be'emtza pasuk here? How far back
historically can we trace this break and the double set of trop?

Any help would be appreciated.

Eliezer Appleton


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 17:21:44
Subject: Re: Near Death Experience

See http://www.uwe.ac.uk/fas/staff/sb/si91nde.html for a paper by Susan
Blackmore on Near Death Experiences.  She rejects Sagan's birth analogy
explanation (as well as paranormal ones), but suggests physical causes for
the phenomenon.

She is also the author of a book on the subject, "Dying to Live: Near Death
Experiences", Susan J. Blackmore, Prometheus Books, 1993.


From: Fred Dweck <fredd@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 17:00:04 -0800
Subject: Re: Of Bicycles and Pogo Sticks and Poskim and Respect

At the request of our esteemed moderator, I am going to list the essence
of the pesak in "Rav Pealim" and in "Liviat Hen."

Regarding bike riding on Shabbat, the most often cited reasons for
prohibiting it are:
1) If something on the bike breaks, one might fix it.
2) Making a furrow in the dirt.
3) Carrying
4) That riding itself is considered a "melacha," (a prohibited action on
Shabbat) since one must learn how to ride.
5) "Ovadim de-chol" (things done on weekdays).

I will respond to each of these, in the words of both R. Yosef Haim z"l
(The Ben Ish Hai) in his responsa "Rav Pealim" (vol. 1 question 25) and
R.  Ovadia Yosef shlit"a in his book "Liviat Hen" on the laws of
Shabbat."  (beginning on the bottom of page 181)

Regarding: 1) If something on the bike breaks, one might fix it.

Both of them have written: "....Ein gozrim gezerot hadashot
mida'denu...."  (After the closing of the Talmud, we are not permitted
to make new decrees" which were not decreed previous to the closing of
the Talmud" from our own minds) Therefore that reason, and a prohibition
based on it, is invalid. R. Yosef Haim wrote"and R. Ovadiah
repeated"that "a decree that the bike might break and the person might
fix it, is "hevel" (nonsense"my translation) and is not permitted to be

(my words) Rabbis are teachers, and NOT policemen. In such a case the
Rabbis can warn people that if they ride a bike on Shabbat and something
breaks, they may not fix it. That is the extent of their responsibility
and authority. They have no right to make new decrees which were not
found in the Mishnah or Talmud.

Regarding: 2) Making a furrow in the dirt.

R. Ovadiah writes: A) that this is a "davar she-eno mitkaven" (something
that he has no intention to do), which is permitted. And B) That even if
one considers this a "Pesik Reshe" (something that *must* cause an
issur)"which it is not, since today most people ride on a hard
surface"then it is both a *rabbinical* pesik reshe and one that does not
benefit him, which is permitted, and that it is also "Ke"leahar yad"
(something done in an unusual manner), since digging a furrow is usually
done with a shovel, pick, plow etc. and not with a bicycle tire, which
is also permitted.  Therefore that reason is invalid.

Regarding: 3) Carrying.

R. Yosef Haim uses the argument "hai noseh et a'smo." (a live person
carries himself). Therefore, the rishonim permitted carrying a person on
a chair or a bed, on Shabbat, where the public needs him. Their
reasoning is that the chair or bed is "tafel" (secondary or subsidiary
to the person.)  R. Yosef Haim, therefore, cautioned that one must ride
on the bike and not walk it from one "reshut" to another, nor four amot
in "reshut harabim" (a public area), and should not carry anything in
his pockets, in a place that has no eruv. However, in a place where
there is an eruv these cautions do not apply, and a person may ride a
bike even for pleasure.

Regarding: 4) That riding itself is considered a "melacha," since one
must learn how to ride.

R. Ovadiah wrote: "What 'melacha' is involved in riding a bike? This is
not a 'melacha' at all." "Riding a horse also takes learning and skill,
which would seem to be an issur from the Torah." "However, in Talmud
"Betsa" (36B) it says: "We don't ride on an animal, a decree that one
might cut a branch," and they didn't say because it takes learning and
skill." And we also have no right to derive a new decree from an old

Regarding: 5) "Ovadim de-chol" (things done on weekdays).

R. Ovadiah wrote: "some have written to prohibit bicycle riding because
of "Ovadim de-chol." This prohibition is not clear to me, because
according to that opinion, I do not know what "Ovadim de-chol" applies
to this, and we may not make new decrees from our minds."

Anyone who cares to argue about all of the above should direct their
arguments to R. Ovadiah Yosef (since R. Yosef Haim z"l is no longer with
us) and not to me. I have spent too many years arguing this subject, and
have found it to be a futile effort. Those who don't agree, will NEVER
agree, no matter what the *facts* are.

Regarding Carl's statement: <<<But I must admit that I was taken aback by
the statement that Poskim have banned bike riding on "emotional issues."
This was followed up by two statements whose structure I hear all too often
regarding various religious matters.

(1) Plony ruled that it's muhter but he (or his kin) say that he
wouldn't dare take a public stand to that effect.

(2) Plony said it was muhter / uhser but later recanted or changed his mind.>>>

I'm not sure what Carl Singer was trying to say, but it should be
evident to anyone who wants to look, with an open mind, that many of
today's prohibitions were prohibited on emotional grounds, and not on
accepted halachic grounds.

As far as "Plony ruled that it's muhter but he (or his kin) say that he
wouldn't dare take a public stand to that effect," one really can't
blame them. We have seen that when R. Ovadiah ruled that all gelatin is
kosher"with powerful and valid halachic reasons""certain people" took
out full page ads, in Israeli newspapers, accusing him of feeding
"treif" to Bene Yisrael!! Shame on them!

Let's not forget that we are speaking of one of the greatest halachic
scholars of our time (and maybe of all time); a gadol who beat the Bar
Ilan computers, hands down. A gadol who is respected and revered by most
other gedolim; a "Rishon Letzion." Why would he then come out with a
pesak that clearly contradicts the many aharonim who have prohibited it.

Since there are no halachic grounds to prohibit bicycle riding on Shabbat,
even where there is no eruv, and on yom tov where no eruv is necessary,
then any prohibition must be on emotional grounds. IE: It looks, or feels
like it should not be allowed, so I will prohibit it, and I'll figure out
why, later!!

The Talmud Yerushalmi, in Nedarim (29A) says: "Is it not sufficient for you
what the Torah has prohibited to you, but you want to prohibit on yourself
other things?" Does this tell us anything? Maybe we are going much too far
in instituting "humrot" (stringencies) that Hashem never intended? Maybe we
are transgressing the commandment of "bal tosif" (do not add)? It would
seem to me that we are being very arrogant in second guessing Hashem, by
implying that Hashem either didn't have the courage or wisdom (Chas
veshalom) to tell us what He *really* wanted us to do, or not do, so that
we have to come along and add prohibition upon prohibition, with no valid
halachic or Torah reason. Yes, that I call pesaks on purely emotional

As for "respect" which Carl put in the subject line, I think it's about
time that the Rabbinate had a bit of respect for the people, and stop
treating us like idiots, by making decrees such as "the bike might break
and the person might fix it," and appointing themselves as policemen
over the Jewish nation. Their place is as teachers and not as policemen.

We also might consider that publicizing this pesak might be very beneficial
in stopping those who drive to shul on Shabbat. That way we can offer them
a permitted alternative.

Rabbi Fred (Yeshuah) E. Dweck
(Orthodox, with a deep love and respect for Hashem and Torah, just in case
anyone is questioning)


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 16:45:35 -0500 
Subject: Re: Previous Generations

David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> wrote:

>I don't get it. If a married woman must cover her hair or violate a
>D'orayta (Torah level) prohibition, the it makes no sense that Gedolim
>would allow their wives to do so and not divorce them. Would they allow
>their wives to eat treif? to violate Shabbat?

Where is there an obligation to divorce ones spouse if he/she violates
halacha?  I don't know whether Mr Cohen is married, but if he is, would
he divorce his wife if she wore shatnez?  if she wore a male garment?
if she skipped benching?  if she refused to put a mezuzah on her shop?
if she cooked meat and milk at a treife restaurant or soup kitchen?  if
she was a vet who fixed cats and dogs?

In America in the 1920s and 1930s observant husbands were not exactly
thick on the ground, and many women married men who were not observant;
they worked hard to make sure that their children would grow up al
taharat hakodesh, and for the most part they succeeded.  If they had
held to Mr Cohen's standards many of them would have remained single,
and they certainly wouldn't have married the husbands that they did and
had the children and grandchildren that they did.  I take this a bit
personally, because if that had happened, I would not be here to write
this note.

Zev Sero                Give a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day;
<zsero@...>       set him on fire and he'll be warm for the
                        rest of his life.   - Ankh-Morpork proverb


From: Russell Gold <russgold@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 08:13:13 -0500
Subject: Specific rulings (was re: Previous Generations)

In v.30#26, Deborah Wenger <dwenger@...> wrote:
>A number of years ago, for example, a food establishment in NY was cited
>for violations of the state's kashrut laws (at the time there were civil
>laws upholding kashrut standards; I don't know if the same laws are
>still in effect). A woman I know asked her LOR if he was going to tell
>the members of his kehilla not to patronize this establishment. He
>replied that he would not, because it would affect the owner's parnasa
>(livelihood). She then asked him if HE would eat the food there himself,
>and he said no. To this woman, this response meant that the rabbi was
>holding himself to a higher standard than the rest of his kehilla - or,
>*allowing* his congregants to eat food that he himself considered treif.
>Needless to say, this woman never went to this particular rabbi with a
>question again.

It seems to me that the woman is judging this rabbi too harshly, because
*she* asked the wrong question. Her question was tantamount to "are you
going to make a public announcement that the kehilla should shun this
establishment?" and the rabbi's response was appropriate. Now, had she
asked, "should *I* eat there?" I would have expected him to say no.  I
infer that the rabbi felt that the kashrut was now questionable and
should be avoided by those who wished to be careful (as indicated by
their willingness to ask), but was not so clearly trefe as to be
forbidden to those inclined to be lenient. Further, beyond the parnassa
issue, I assume that there would be problems with him making an
announcement to people who might not be inclined to listen.


From: Joel Rich <Joelirich@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 08:11:08 EST
Subject: Re: The Ideal Community To Live In

<<  From: Chaim Wasserman <Chaimwass@...>
 Carl Singer's quest for an ideal community (30 #18) in which to live
 will first need an assemblage of people who are [1] secure in the style
 of their daily lives [2] flexible people who can tolerate and even
 understand nuances and differences practiced by others in their
 environment and [3] thinking indiviuals who can fashion and innovate
 public policy that is beneficial to the advancement of that ideal

 For such a community to be frum (Jewish or otherwise) is tough, near
 impossible.  >>

Rabbi Wasserman may be correct if we use the "sociological" definition
of frum(ie empirically extract the characteristics of being "frum" from
a sociological study of those who are considered "frum"). If we use the
theoretical definition of frum(eg individuals who do their best to do
the ratzon hashem in everything they do), then I think 1,2, and 3 above
come naturally.

Kol Tuv,
Joel Rich


From: Linda Franco <Fauveism1@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 07:24:52 EST
Subject: Writing and Commentary

"writing" and commentary. I write quite a bit on social issues within the 
Jewish community, often, I will back my article with a proverb, or something 
to that effect. I dont take the sources seriously, i.e., as Halacha/in lieu 
of asking a Rav...etc...etc...
My question is, what are the problems someone might have simply relying on 
quotes from the Midrash and Talmud, as well as other sources, to back up an 
article, etc...etc...
What are things to avoid, or things to keep in mind, when quoting any source?
Linda Franco
Broolyn, NY


End of Volume 30 Issue 31