Volume 31 Number 49
                 Produced: Thu Feb 10 23:27:50 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Joseph Geretz]
The collect call game
         [Daniel M Wells]
Collect Call--when you should NOT be a BAAL NEFESH
         [Russell Hendel]
Jewish Newspapers and Lashon Hara
         [Yisrael Medad]
Masada and suicide
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
         [Bill Bernstein]
Sexual Abuse in Frum Community
         [Chaim Shapiro ]
Video Cameras on Shabbos
         [Shlomo Pick]


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 22:12:06 -0500
Subject: Aliya

Josh Backon wrote:
> Apart from the Avnei Nezer who wrote that that the
> oath doesn't apply when the nations of the world give
> permission for the Jews to return (e.g. Balfour Declaration)

Without taking a position on Aliya in general, I have to say that I
don't find the above argument very compelling. Citing the Balfour
Declaration as carte blanche permission for our return ignores the fact
that the multitude of Arab nations are adamantly opposed to our
return. Moreover, certain pressure from other countries limiting our
settlement of significant portions of Eretz Yisrael (e.g. USA, vis a vis
'West Bank' settlements, pressure to return the Golan, etc.) could also
be construed as some sort of opposition to our return.

(I am not taking exception with the Avnei Nezer's fundamental ruling. I'm
hesitant though, regarding its application to our contemporary situation.)

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 18:11:52 +0200 (IST)
Subject: The collect call game

> I asked a friend who works for a major phone company what his company's
> opinion on the "game" is.
> In the situation where no return call is made, if they could prove that
> this was done with fraudulent intent (that is, playing the game), they
> would like to get money for the call.

Thats the whole question. Is fraud involved when making use of a service
in a LEGAL way where the company doen't stand to gain. When I call my
father collect call, using my name, I have no objection to him accepting
the call. It's his bill, his money. If he decides not to accept the call
that's his business. I for my part have made use of the service in a
proper and legal manner.

Nobody is contesting the fact that stealing even less than a prutah is
stll considered stealing in halacha.

And nobody is contesting the fact that the phone company may lose out
financially on a particular service.

As with a lot of halachas in Judaism, it depends on one's kavannah.  If
one digs a hole in the ground on Shabbat for the sake of having a hole,
it's forbidden. If for having the earth itself, and a hole results, by
Torah law its allowed. (Rabinnically obviously not allowed).

So here, if you davka call collect, or wake up your friend for the
minyan wth a 2 ring call, with kavannah, intention, to defraud then
presumably it would not be allowed under halacha and civil law.

If a visitor from abroad (doesn't pay taxes) makes use of City services,
(drinks from a public water fountain) is he defrauding the City.

David pointed out that stealing a single grape from a fruit stand in a
supermarket is forbidden. Obviously and I can assure you that the
supermarket manager would presumably prosecute the offender - for the
principle of the matter. But here the action the thief took had no
essence of legality.

Any phone company would have a hard time trying to prove fraud, even if
one would openly admit in court of being happy that the other party
doen't answer the 2 ring minyan call or the collect call.

It would appear that the reference to the Californial penal code of
illegal signalling is connected to attachment of illicit devices or the
dialling of numbers not sanctioned for use by the general public.

Fraud is not the act of just getting something for nothing. Webster's
defines fraud as 'intentional pervasion of truth (also deceiving or
misrepresenting) to induce another to part with something of value'.

The Shulhan Aruch both from the point of view of Gezela and Gnava
defines stealing as the wilful appropriation of another's possessions
without his permission.

Is there intentional pervasion, deception or misrepresentation in that 2
ring minyan call / collect call (as long as one remains truthful)?

If the services are offered in the knowledge that not all calls,
activated in a legal manner, are connected can that be construed as

And thus is there fraud or even insinuation of fraud - by halacha and by
civil law in the collect call game?



From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 22:02:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Collect Call--when you should NOT be a BAAL NEFESH

There have been many more postings in V31 on the collect call
issue. Allow me to address 5 points that have been raised and not yet
answered. In particular while some people have softened their stand on
my PERMITTING 'collect call' nevertheless they feel it is a violation of
the 'spirit of the law'--I would like to show that sometimes the spirit
of the law PROHIBITS people from abstaining from collect call!Here are
the 5 points.

THEFT is a crime of TRANSFERENCE of property while FRAUD is an
INFORMATION crime. In other words THEFT with the owner knowing is still
THEFT(eg Rambam Theft 1:3) As has already been correctly noted the issue
in PAYMENT for a theft is not whether the thief benefited but whether
the person stolen from normally would charge for what was stolen (Theft
& Loss 3:9).

FRAUD occurs when you TELL A PERSON SOMETHING that is not true about a
sold item. PERMITTED DECEPTION occurs when there is OMISSION of
pertinent information about the sold item (but no lie has been told). I
again review the example from Rambam Sales 18:4 (and then respond to
Bill Burstein)

>>I (maliciously) destroy the outer shells of beans so that all my
>beans should look alike and people should buy all of them (if I kept
>the shells then buyers could recognize their cookability from the shells
>and not all of them would sell). Although I have hurt the buyer by destroying
>the shells and although I have hidden this information from him nevertheless
>I am selling the bean "AS IS" and therefore it is permitted.

(To answer Bill Burstein--in the collect call I am transparent when I
tell the operator 'Let me know if so and so wants to accept a collect
call' but I have hidden my intention of having them say no. This is no
different than the above case where the bean is 'AS IS' but I have
destroyed/hidden its shell which gives important information)

Stan/Cynthia Tenen bring up the issue of how to education children. I
will simply say that when I was growing up my father, Abraham Hendel,
would frequently discuss fraud and theft in the Jewish community--he was
quick not only to point out the wrong in the act but how their goals
could have been met in a perfectly legal manner (My father is an
accountant).  In other words I was not only taught that theft was Divine
and wrong but I was taught it was inefficient and stupid. By contrast if
you bring children up in an ivory tower where all they hear about is
ideals then they will not be able as effectively to cope with a real
world & might rebel.

Well if you are talking about people like Avi, Me or Stan (who live in
an upper middle class neighborhoods) I have no problem with this. BUT..
I think it would be a chilul hashem to tell a person living in a less
affluent neighborhood who has a dozen children and is just making ends
meet that he should abstain. After all by ABSTAINING from a permissable
action he may take away money that his family needs. There are always 2
sides to the coin.Aren't we obligated to tell him to play COLLECT CALL?

One person cited Cal law that prohibits 'making arrangements to steal
from the phone company'. Quite frankly I have not reviewed the notes to
this law and don't know if it covers the collect call game. But even if
it did, it frequently happens that what is prohibited in one state is
permissable in other states. In fact many corporations make money that

I hope this clarifies the new issues brought up in this discussion.

Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; <RHendel@...>; Math


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 21:34:01 +0200
Subject: Jewish Newspapers and Lashon Hara

Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...> wrote:

>I heard in the news last week that a gathering of Charedi newspaper
>reporters shlogged al chait (admitted their guilt) with respect to their
>characterization of the secular community, and committed itself to
>trying to change their writing about the secular community to make that
>writing less hostile. I believe I heard the report on Arutz Sheva, but a
>quick search of their web site did not turn it up. Maybe someone else
>has more details.

I interviewed a participant, Dudi Zilberschlag, on my Arutz 7 program on
the media last Sunday after reading the report in the "Kol HaZman"
weekly.  Some 80 Charedi media, PR, et al. persons participated in a
Shabbat in Zichron Yaakov to discuss issues.  MANOF was to have
officially sponsored it but when the two main Charedi dailies, HaModia
and Yated Neeman, pulled out, they also dropped into the background.

Among other things, they discussed their own contribution to the way
secularites view Charedim and decided to reduce the shrillness of their

By the by, Benny Gal of Bet El just published a sort of comic book style
pamphlet on Charedi expressions "translated" for the secular public.
Bli neder, I'll be interviewing him on this coming Sunday's program.

Yisrael Medad (aka, Director, Israel's Media Watch)
and the plug:  www.geocities.com/capitolhill/2527


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 20:02:45 +0200
Subject: Re: Masada and suicide

> From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>

The following is a very difficutl question but I'll try to at least
give  pointers to understanding the issues.

> I have never fully understood why the people at Masada felt it
> necessary to commit mass suicide.  Philosophically speaking, although
> we do not rely on G-d's miracles, we should not despair them, as a
> person can be saved even from the worst circumstances at the very last
> minute.  Why did the Masada leadership feel it better to take matters
> into their hands, rather then allow G-d's plan to take its course?

The Masada experience has been given life by the secular jews in Israel
as a rallying point for a secular jewish heroism.  There are many rabbis
who question this, you aren't the first.

The Masada leadership were from the Kana'im (acc. to some sources).
We've met them previously in Jerusalem when they burned the granaries;
they wanted to poke the body of Raban Yohanan Ben Zakai when he was
taken to be "buried" etc.

On the other hand the people of Masada were headed for death at the
hands of the romans -- at best.  At worst, slavery which would involve
for the women for sure rape and continued abuse from their captors.  I
wouldn't want to face their decision.

> While I shudder to ask this (and Avi if you think it is too
> controversial please omit it [while difficult to discuss, I think
> valid to ask. Avi]), how did their situation differ from individuals
> about to be shipped off to W.W.II Concentration Camps?

We forget that people going to WWII Concentration camps thought they
were going to work camps or to some rellocation to the east, until
extremely late in the war, and even in 1942 when the knowledge was
available -- it wasn't believed (see Martin Grey's book on his

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 10:09:56 -0600
Subject: Re: Rambam

Shmuel Himelstein writes about some people who "made the Rambam their
Rav" and follow his rulings even when they go against accepted halakha
codified in Shulchan Aruch.  I am dumbfounded that anyone could think to
do such a thing.  If that were the case then people could eat chicken
with milk, claiming to follow R' Yose HaGalili as their "rav".  I would
think a later (contemporary) authority overules an earleir authority
when it comes to halakha l'maaseh (actual practice).  Added to that,
what did the Rambam actually hold on certain issues?  I am sure there is
disagreement about some of it.  What would someone who claims the Rambam
as his rav do in such a case?  This sounds like an attempt to overturn
the mesora (tradition), a la the Reform Movement than anything rooted in


From: Chaim Shapiro  <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 23:16:38 EST
Subject: Sexual Abuse in Frum Community

I have recently read two extremely disturbing articles regarding child
molestation and the Frum community. According to the first article in
the Chicago Jewish News, the molesters were protected by the rabbinic
leadership, in order to avoid a trial and the possibility of this Day
School Rebbe going to jail.  The second molester, a Kosher butcher is
still in business to this day!

The second article, translated for me from a Hebrew newspaper in LA
tells the story behind the Hebrew book "Shtikas Harabanim Silence of the
Rabbis."  In it, the author alleges that his father, a leading sofer in
Tzfat is a known child molester who remains a respected Sofer!  He asks,
if this Sofer ate a non accepted hechsher, you can bet that no one would
trust his Sofrus ever again!  However, as a known child molester he
isn't even questioned!

I cannot verify any of these stories.  But, if they are true, or even
partially true, what are people thinking?  Animals that molest children
belong in jail, not walking the street where they can hurt others (or
continue to tormet past victims who see them).  pedophillia is a
disease.  No matter what the backlash against the Frum community if the
news gets out, we owe our children their safety, and must treat child
molesters as they deserve to be treated.  End of story!

Chaim Shapiro 


From: Shlomo Pick <picksh@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 10:23:12 +0200
Subject: Video Cameras on Shabbos

Avrohom Biderman <abeb@...> wrote

>Rabbi Adler raised the question of using a video camera on
>Shabbos. Walking by a video camera which is on causes changes in
>electronic impulse, much as speaking into a microphone does, and is
>therefore prohibited. So while placing the camera on a tripod before
>Shabbos avoids handling muktzeh, is still assur.

Rabbi Shlomo Shefer related to me a pesak of Rav Ovadya Yosef that was
give to his father in law, Rav Person in Switzerland concerning a family
that was making a bar mitzva in swizerland and wanted to video it.  So
they had the video locked up in a sealed room looking onto the
"Sanctuary" of the shul, and than had a Japanese in Japan set a signal
that started the camera.
1) it was done by a goy.
2) it was done after shabbat, for in Japan it was already motzei
Rav Ovadya paskened that it was mutar.
hence i conclude that he disagress with the above quotation. take it
from there.

 Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...> on Tue, 8 Feb 2000 re::
Rambam wrote:
>In our company, there are a number of people who use the Rambam as their
>Halachic guide, even when his rulings are against accepted Halachah as
>codified in Shulchan Aruch. Their reasoning is that as it states "Asei
>lecha Rav" ("make - i.e., choose - a Rav for yourself"), they have
>chosen the Rambam as their Rav.
>I'd be interested in hearing Halachic reactions to this practice.

 On the one hand that is why Rav Shach vehemently opposed the lubavitch
campaign for the rambam yomi - because one would pasken like the rambam
and not the shulkan aruch on the other hand, THE "RAV" paskened like the
Rambam on many issues, including his nusach hatefila and i recall on
other issues.

bebirkhot hatora and shabbat shalom


End of Volume 31 Issue 49