Volume 31 Number 47
                 Produced: Thu Feb 10 22:57:12 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A baby after eight months
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Bending & Bowing
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
book hunt - "Not in Heaven"
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Cholov Yisroel
         [Esther Zar]
comment on Davka Software
         [Susan Schwartz]
Counting non-religious for Minyan
         [Moshe Flohr]
Halacha and Cosmetic Surgery
         [Janice Gelb]
Jonathan Pollard
         [Carl Singer]
Morality and Sechel
         [Ahron Wolf]
What really happened at Masada?
         [Ellen Krischer]


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 23:20:18 EST
Subject: A baby after eight months

According to halacha a baby born in the eighth month, is certain to die,
so much so that the baby is Muktza on Shabbos.  Considering that many
babies are born in the eight month today and do live without medical
attention, I must ask, what happened?  Did the nature of humanity
change?  Does prenatal care allow these babies to live? Etc.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Yeshaya Halevi <CHIHAL@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 22:29:41 EST
Subject: Bending & Bowing

       In the Shmon'eh Esray (18 Benedictions), we bend our knees and
bow towards the end of the first item, when we bless God who was/is the
shield of Avraham (Abraham).
      I need enlightenment: why don't we also bend & bow at the end of
the next blessing, which praises God for reviving the dead?  The concept
of Resurrection is a mind-blowing, major hope to humanity: why doesn't
it get the bend & bow treatment?
      Yeshaya Halevi (<Chihal@...>)


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 08:41:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: book hunt - "Not in Heaven"

A while back someone was looking for Eliezer Berkovits' z"l _Not in
Heaven_, and it appeared to be out of print.  I'm looking through the
Yeshiva U. seforim sale catalog in preparation for my annual orgy :-)
and just saw it listed there, at a very reasonable price. Check their
Web site for schedule and availablity.

BTW -- if anybody involved with the seforim sale is reading this, make a
note to post the announcement to Mail-Jewish next year!  And
congratulations on a fabulous job.  And the lecture by Rabbi Lamm
preceding the opening was a great idea!

Check out http://seforim.yucs.org  !!

And I don't even work there!

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Esther Zar <ESTABESTAH@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 23:41:22 EST
Subject: Re: Cholov Yisroel

re: cholov yisroel (<phyllostac@...>'s & dtnla@aol.com's comments)

i must say that the comments aimed at those who claim that reb moshe
would retract his statement are quite valid ones, however, since i am
the one who is being "accused" of such allow me to clarify one
matter. let all who are of that opinion reacquaint themselves with my
original posting and its range.  here is the quote which in all
probability the above posters were referring to:"one couple got a brocho
from Reb Moshe and the next year when they had a boy, they brought him
to Reb Moshe and asked what kind of milk they should give him.  Reb
Moshe got up and said he never heard of such a heter." my point there
was not that reb moshe would contradict himself but rather that reb
moshe did not allow cholov stam across the board. he did not intend for
his psak to be a crutch for everyone to automatically fall on. the
letter which i mentioned (from reb moshe to rav weinfeld) in a more
recent posting indicates just that. it could be found in rav binyomin
forst's sefer "pitchei halacha" or i could send it if anyone wants via e
mail or fax. i apologize for the miscommunication.


From: Susan Schwartz <DAVKAMKTG@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 15:42:11 EST
Subject: comment on Davka Software

[Thank you Susan for your reply from Davka on this topic. Mod.]

 Someone recently posted a question regarding 'copying' their friend's
software for evaluation because they did not want to get 'burned buying
a lousy piece of software from Davka'
 Number one, from what I see, this list seems to concern itself with
issues of Lashon Haro - seems to me that falls into an area of major
lashon hara.

[Reviewed the posting, and Susan is correct that I should have edited
that comment to something like "be in the situation of buying a software
product from Davka that I would not find acceptable". Mod.]

Davka's recently amended return policy is that opened software CAN be
returned within 30 days of purchase for exchange or credit. (Currently,
there is almost NO major retail outlet or software store that accepts
returns of opened software. )

Secondly, it is certainly ILLEGAL (both in the US and halachicaly) to
'copy' your friend's software, even with the intent of eventually buying
it. You would be better off going to your friend's house and trying out
the software there to see if you want to purchase it on your own.

Susan Schwartz
Vice President, Operations
Davka Corporation


From: Moshe Flohr <info@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 17:34:36 -0500
Subject: Counting non-religious for Minyan

Carl Sherer wrote:
>"20. People who publicly desecrate the Shabbos should not be included in a
>quorum of ten people necessary for a minyan (MB 55:46, Minchas Yitzchak
>3:26 and others). However, many authorities permit counting them in
>situations of need (Igros Moshe OH 23 [does not say which volume - CS]
>Chelkas Yaakov 91 and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l)."

Two points:
 1) Do we not consider most "public desecrators of Shabbos" nowadays to
be considered 'tinok shnishbu' and should therefore be counted for a
minyan like anyone else.
 2) What do those poskim mean when they say that we count them only "in
situations of need"- this whole question ONLY comes up in a situation of
 Moshe Flohr


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 10:00:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Halacha and Cosmetic Surgery

Esther Zar <ESTABESTAH@...> wrote:
> I found in sefer otzar dinim siman 36:3 from Harav Ovadya Yosef the
> following (I'll translate) "It is permissible for a woman to have
> plastic surgery in order to beautify herself and so that they will
> 'jump' on her to be mekadesh her (marry her)."
> [snip]
> I think we should just keep in mind the following: Rav Ovadya 
> was not specific as to what physical flaw would stand in the 
> way of one getting married.  I wonder if Rav Ovadya would 
> consider a bump in the nose as something that would deem 
> surgery rather than someone who has 2 noses and needs to 
> get rid of one.

I think this depends more on the prevailing "requirements" of those
seeking a shidduch than on what Rav Ovadya may have thought, or on some
list of specific flaws. If a woman has her zayde's prominent nose and
eligible men are not willing to consider a shidduch with her because of
it, that seems to meet the standard of the halacha.

Whether the men should be following a different standard for shidduchim
is an issue for another discussion...

-- Janice


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 09:59:10 EST
Subject: Jonathan Pollard

About 5 years ago I was invited by a neighbor to a parlor meeting in
support of a local candidate.  This candidate, a non-Jew, apparently
having been influenced by his host came out very strongly in favor of
Jonathan Pollard.  I was bemused, in that I don't think this is much of
a local issue ("state assemblyman supports Jonathan Pollard?") , but was
angered when a few of my neighbors spoke up that "all Jews" think this
is an important "Jewish" issue, etc.  I spoke up -- au contraire.  (I'm
not the strong silent type.)  The following is a socio-political, not an
halachik discussion.  I find the so-called halachik discussions
interesting, but tainted by facts not in evidence, so to speak.

1 - I find that there are more important and more proper investments of
Jewish political capital -- I'd rather directly lobby for a strong and
safe Eretz Yisroel than make Pollard or anyone similar my "Jewish Poster
Boy" There's a young Jewish girl imprisoned in Peru (or is it Chile?)
but then again she didn't spy for Israel so the community at large is

2 - The facts are not fully public or clear, but no amount of tap
dancing can evade the fact that he committed a crime.  Some call this a
justified crime, a rather tenous argument even if supported by supposed

3 - Having had at that time compartmental clearances (above Top Secret)
I found that the Pollard situation adversely impacted me -- as a visible
Jew, I found that I was no longer traveling to my customer site, etc.  I
can't go into more detail - but the writing was on the wall, for many
Jews, it was several months later that I found another job outside of
the intellegence sector --even though it meant relocating my family,

4 - The arguments about anti-Semitism (of individuals or "the system")
may well have some basis -- that's distressing, but doesn't change what
Pollard did.  Anti-Semitism is an evil fact of life.

5 - The arguments re: equal justice, equal punishment, are spurious.
All over this country people shoot and kill other people.  Due to
circumstances, the skill of attorneys, plea bargains, etc., some clean
cut upper middle class college student kills his pregnant girlfriend and
never gets charged, or gets 2 years for manslaughter; and some
toothless, drunken trailertrash does the same and gets a lethal
injection.  Is it fair, no.  Is is reality, yes.

I'm not anti-Pollard, he is after all a Jew in desperate circumstances
-- I'm just not for him.

I also believe (and for this I have no factual basis, only observation)
that some people are riding the Pollard bandwagon for political gain.
People who under other circumstances would not so much as say Gut
Shabbos to Pollard were he walking down the street, and certainly
wouldn't invite him for a Shabbos meal, or accept an invitation in
return -- are carrying the cudgel with extreme vigor.

Carl Singer


From: Ahron Wolf <awolf@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 10:46:27 -0500
Subject: Morality and Sechel

Daniel Cohn writes:

>It is an historically proven fact that when people don't have an
>absolute moral standard to rely on, things like adultery, homosexuality,
>and fraud, which I suppose are under the definition of "mitzvot that the
>sechel (common sense) would dictate as desirable" gradually become
>socially acceptable.  In that case, how do we define "common sense"? It
>would seem that common sense is not so common and natural morality is
>not so natural after all.

'Sechel' doesn't necessarily mean 'common sense' but refers to the minds
ability for intellectual reasoning. That which is considered 'common
sense' today doesn't mean that this same matter was considered 'common
sense' years ago or will still be considered 'common sense' in the
future. 'Common sense' morality can in reality be considered a matter of
etiquette as opposed to a matter of ethics. Natural morality seems to be
based on a certain feeling of attraction to actions that are deemed as
proper etiquette or revulsion to specific actions that are deemed as
improper etiquette. Proper manners or etiquette of coarse vary from
generation to generation and from place to place.

Ethics on the other hand is a matter of reasoning, of 'sechel', not
feelings. For instance an ethical argument that adultery is wrong would
be that this way of behavior is damaging to society, to oneself and to
ones loved ones. It results in a situation in which children do not know
who there parents are and parents do not know who there children are.
This can result in the total breakdown of the family unit and neglect of
the children who will be left without someone to take responsibility for
there health and welfare. Since man in general and children in
particular are very much in need of support in many ways (financial,
emotional etc.)  the brake down of the family will not be a benefit. The
family (including extended family) is a very strong support system for
the individual. The Rambam in More Nevuchim offers another argument as
well. He contends that the most violent arguments between people are
often caused by jealousy.  If people would get involved with other
peoples wives the situation would often lead to extremely violent
confrontations that would be very damaging to society on a large
scale. Of coarse society is essential for the survival of the individual
since the individual cannot provide for all his/her needs alone. Only
through the cooperation of society can an individual survive.

These are examples of arguments based on reasoning. Such arguments don't
change or become more or less true depending on time or place. What the
Rambam calls Mitzvos Sichlios are mitzvos that have a rational basis. In
the More HaNevuchim the Rambam actually explores the rational
foundations for these moral mitzvos.

Of coarse many times these same actions which have a rational ethical
basis are also considered as proper manners and are approved by society
as a whole as proper etiquette. However this does not mean that this is
the only basis for these moral imperatives. On the contrary acting
morally out of concern for etiquette or out of habit of training is
inferior to acting on the basis of the intellect.

The Rambam actually explains that this feeling for proper etiquette is a
faculty of reasoning that we have in common with animals and is much
lower that the capacity for intellectual moral reasoning. Animals as
well will not have sexual relationships with their mothers for instance
based on a feeling of revulsion for that act. This was the difference
between Adam before he ate from the 'Tree of Knowledge of good and bad'
and after he ate. Before the sin Adam was a purely intellectual being
who would determine his actions based on rational principles. The Torah
does not call the forbidden tree 'The Tree of Knowledge of truth and
falsehood' but the 'Tree of Knowledge of good and bad'.  The words good
and bad primarily refer to that which is pleasing or revolting (for
instance I would say 'that was a good book' etc.). After the sin when
Adam ate from the tree his actions were based on the feelings of
attraction or revulsion to specific actions based on instinct or
societal pressures or upbringing.



From: Ellen Krischer <krischer@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 08:59:42 -0500 
Subject: What really happened at Masada?

> I have never fully understood why the people at Masada felt it
> necessary to commit mass suicide.  
> Chaim Shapiro

	Interesting you should raise this.  The local Teaneck
semi-newspaper just reported on a speaker at a local event who claims
the suicide at Masada cannot be supported by the available evidence.  He
claims there were not sufficient bodies excavated to make the story

	The speaker's alternative explaination is that Josephus (the
sole(?)  account of the story) made it up for his own purposes in
ingratiating himself to the Romans.  The Jews accepted the account
because it made them look good, or brave, or something like that.  The
speaker claims a more likely explaination is that those at Masada
successfully escaped.

	Ellen Krischer


End of Volume 31 Issue 47