Volume 31 Number 66
                 Produced: Sun Feb 20  8:40:25 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A baby after eight months
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
Children's Encyclopedia Question
         [Daniel Stuhlman]
Enlightenment AND Observance
         [Steve Bailey]
Observance vs. enlightenment
         [Jeanette Friedman]
Rambam Yomi
         [Shlomo Pick]
Secular college: challenges
         [Aharon Fischman]
Siddur and Tallis Bag
         [Carl Singer]
Who weants to marry a multi millionaire?
         [Chaim Shapiro]


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 09:56:20 -0700
Subject: Re: A baby after eight months

In MJ 31:47, Chaim Shapiro asked:

>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.

As Yosef Gilboa pointed out in 31:57, that certainty no longer exists -
so we do everything possible, and then some, to keep such an infant
alive and well, including holding him or her on Shabbos (and violating
Shabbos in more serious ways as well, as necessary).

So what happened? Either possibility Chaim mentions could be
valid. There are any number of areas of Torah in which we say "nishtanu
hativ'im" (the nature of humanity has changed), as he suggested; this
could be one of them.  (This is why, for example, very few of the
medical recipes given in the Gemara are still valid.)

Also, even in those times, the Gemara observes that an eighth-month baby
born with well-developed hair and nails is viable, because this tells us
that she's not a nine-month baby born prematurely, but rather a
seven-month baby born late! [The standard assumption is that a fetus can
develop along one of two tracks, one lasting seven months and the other
nine; we are told that many of the famous tzaddikim (righteous people)
of the Jewish People, such as Moshe and Shmuel, were born - fully
developed and clearly viable - after seven-month pregnancies.]

So a third possibility, besides the two Chaim brought up, is simply that
a lot of present-day "eighth-month infants" are actually developed
enough to be viable even under the Halachic criteria.

And as for his suggestion that modern prenatal (or postnatal) care
allows these babies to survive, that might also be borne out by this:
since the rule about eighth-month babies is not so hard and fast anyway,
we might go out on a bit of a limb here and suggest that the Gemara is
simply telling us that a (not fully developed) premature infant can't
live without a higher level of care (incubators, etc.) than was
available back then. In other words, the biological facts are still the
same, but the medical arts - the "keilim" (natural "channels" through
which we receive Divine blessing) - have changed, and that causes the
difference in the application of this Halachah: in those times such a
baby would have been Muktzah, since the extra attention given by holding
her wouldn't help her survive anyway; whereas nowadays, when she has at
least a decent possibility of survival, then she should get at least as
much affection as any other infant.

Kol tuv y'all,


From: Daniel Stuhlman <ssmlhtc@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 10:10:34
Subject: Children's Encyclopedia Question

> From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
> I understood that what was under discussion was a children's 
> encyclopedia.  I found the reason behind Jonathan Rabson's question 
> to be obvious.  <snip>

We do not have CD ROM encyclopedias in our library because I have never
found one appropriate on academic or educational grounds.  I have tried
Compton's, Encarta, and World Book at home.  The difficulty with
computer based encyclopedias is that the readers may use them as a
"quick fix" rather than a starting point to learn more.  They are great
for entertainment and quick answers, but they are not for high school
students who want to write reports.

At the high school level the teachers want to enhance the students'
ability to do research and to think critically.  A paper encyclopedia
provides a much better platform to start a research project than a CD
ROM based encyclopedia.

This is a personal comment not the opinion of my institution.

Daniel Stuhlman
Chicago, IL 60645
<mail to:<ddstuhlman@...>


From: Steve Bailey <stevehome@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 00:11:43 +1100
Subject: Enlightenment AND Observance

In v.31 #58 Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...> responded to my
comments on Observance vs. Enlightenment (in v.31#50) in a manner that
reflects much of the stimulating debate on this list. I was arguing for
a Hirschian approach of (ethically) selective integration of arts,
sciences, literature and culture, while he argued for isolation from (if
not rejection of) the non-Jewish aspects of our contemporary -- or
past-- civilization, lest they tempt Jews away from tradition.

Peter Berger, in a fascinating book entitled The Heretical Imperative,
notes that there were three responses to the Enlightenment and the
challenge to moral certainty that was characteristic of insulated
religious life (both in non-Jewish and Jewish communities). In terms of
Judaism, one was to reject Jewish tradition altogether in favor of the
new world of knowledge and culture open to Jews, with the goal of
impressing the non-Jews with Jewish ethics, unburdened by rituals that
tended to make us different. This was the Classical Reform response.
Another group felt threatened by the exposure to the enlightenment and
chose to isolate themselves from interaction with the world in order to
preserve moral certainty and forbade any change in tradition. This is
the Classical Orthodox approach (Chatam Sofer, Chazon Ish, et.al -- now
called charedi). A third group saw the enlightenment as a wonderful
opportunity to learn about God's world (science), experience the beauty
of music, art, literature, poetry (and yes, even philosophy) which
refines the spirit -- while at the same time remaining uncompromising in
Jewish moral standards and practice of mitzvot. This was the
Neo-Orthodoxy of Hirsch and Hildesheimer.

Since this is an halachik list, the first group (Classical reform) is
not represented [just to clarify, I understand this to mean that
respondents cannot advocate this on this list, which is correct, but
there are members of the list that may belong to any (or none) of the
groups into which Jews self-describe, including the Reform
movement. Mod.], but almost all the other respondents fall into one of
the latter two categories: Those who wish to retain moral certainty by
fighting against aspects of contemporary Jewish life that call for
halachik reflection (e.g., women's issues, university education) and by
fearing any challenge to *the way it used to be*, while others recognize
the necessity and the joy of living fully in contemporary society,
albeit with clear moral standards and uncompromising observance, and see
the halacha as organic: always developing and responding to real life
issues that may require some change in the way things were done in the
nineteenth century and earlier.

Both approaches have the same goal: serving God and safeguarding the
future of Judaism. Perhaps we can learn to tolerate each other's

Steve Bailey


From: Jeanette Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 09:05:42 EST
Subject: Re: Observance vs. enlightenment

<< Science I can understand how it can enhance our understanding of G-d's
 universe and by marveling at His wonders, bring us closer to Him.  But
 how does gentile art and literature do that, or anything else positive
 for the Torah Jew?  >>

Does Marc Chagall bring you closer to G-d? Even the old Munkacer Rebbe
visited the Louvre and marveled at Michaelangelo's work and Ingres' work
and he wasn't so impressed with Mona Lisa, but then Da Vinci was a

Talent is a G-d-given gift. There are paintings and sculpture that make
one marvel at what G-d's creation, (WO)MAN can create,.not to mention
how amazing some of the artwork itself it. As an art history major, I
have seen plenty that can also teach us about other civilizations, since
art is the only thing that remains from those periods of time in the
deep past. Art is also an expression of emotion that should not be
discounted and is extremely therapeutic--for people of all ages, from
early childhood to one foot in the grave.

Jeanette Friedman


From: Shlomo Pick <picksh@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 13:54:34 +0200
Subject: Rambam Yomi

eric simom responed to my posting:
>> 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 
the question was:
>Really?  Can you (or anyone) explain this further?  I mean, don't you think
>the Lubavitch would follow the Shulchan Arukh HaRav, and posken according
>to that (or at least start with that)?


the campaign for rambam yomi was not only for Lubavitch circles but for
all klal yisrael, similar to mishna yomit, daf yomi, halakha yomit,
tanach yomi and yerushalmi yomi. some calendars/newspapers give the
whole list for the daily readings. hence, the rambam yomi would have and
did make inroads in non-lubavitch circles. now the ordinary layman may
be taken in by Rambam's lucid style and understandable hebrew and since
the subject is presented as a pesak halakha, may actually come to poskin
like the rambam and not the shulchan aruch.

an aside note: I think that the point of the Lubavitcher campaign for
rambam yomi was to get an easy synopsis of torah she- ba'al peh which is
not done with mishna yomit (missing the talmud and other tannatic
sources), daf yomi (which is too difficult and long) and halakha yomit
(which only deals with practical Halakha).  Indeed a reading of rambam,
hilkhot talmud torah 1:11-12 in conjucntion with the end of his
introduction to mishne tora - why he called it mishneh torah and what it
contains and its purpose would seem to support that idea - the work is a
synopsis of torah she baal peh until his day. this interpretation is
taken from the late Prof. Isadore Yitzchak Twersky's article "Some
non-Halakhic Aspects of the Mishneh Torah" found in Jewish Medieval and
Renaissance Studies, ed. by A. Altmann. pp. 95-118 (Cambridge, Mass,
1967) (use a dictionary! but enjoy) yours shlomo pick


From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 10:11:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Secular college: challenges

I went to Rutgers Newark for grad school, and because of chagim I missed
up to half the classes in some semester.  I never did have a problem
from the professors, and was usually able to make up the missed work
from the text books, or from classmates notes.

Whenever I was involved in group projects (in business school this is
common) I informed the rest of the group that I could not meet or do
work for these projects on Saturday or holidays, but was willing to do
any work, or even more work the rest of the week.  I have never had a
problem with this arrangement.

B"H, I am now done.



From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 09:41:39 EST
Subject: Re: Siddur and Tallis Bag

<<  Has anyone ever seen any place where these "seforim" are clearly
 defined?  I have heard people say that this prohibition concerns only
 "seforim" such as scrolls of the various books of Tanach, because only
 when HaShem's Name has been handwritten by a scribe for the sake of the
 holiness of that Name, only then does the book have enough holiness to
 forbid sitting on a bench where the book also sits. According to this
 idea, our printed siddurim and chumashim are not included in this
 *prohibition*, although there is certainly a *minhag* (custom) to avoid
 sitting on a bench where these books are placed.

 Does anyone know of a source which clearly says that this *prohibition*
 includes our printed books?

 Akiva Miller >>

I cannot directly answer Akiva Miller's question, but from the
standpoint of Mr. Morris Ayin and more importantly from an issue of
Chinuch, I do not think that one should work too hard trying to
distinguish which seforim should be treated with respect and which
should not.  If a child, or an unlearned adult sees you placing some
seforim on the bench (let's say it's a sefer that doesn't have HaShem's
name in it) then you may "know" that you're doing right by your values
and understanding, but the observer may come away learning a wrong

I was also taught as a child to be careful to stack books appropriately
(Chumash atop a Siddur, A Tanach above a Chumash, etc.)  Little things
mean alot.

Carl Singer


From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 16:23:22 EST
Subject: Who weants to marry a multi millionaire?

Today at school, I was engaging some students in a frank rank discussion
about what I considered an incredible perversion on TV last night.  For
those of you who did not see it, Fox aired a live show called " Who
wants to marry a multi millionaire?"  Basically, after narrowing the
field from thousands of women ready to marry a man they had never met
who was known simply because he had a lot of money, the final 50 held a
pageant.  The winner of the pageant actually legally married this
millionaire whom she never met, live on TV!

After a long discussion about the perversions involved, a non Jewish
student asked me a very good question.  How is this different than all
those cultures that marry their daughters for money?  He was not
referring to Judaism, but his question raises a good point.  How is this
show (aside form the voyeuristic element) different than frum people who
marry individuals simply because the perspective match has Yichus or
money?  How is this different than young men demanding 150 K for 5 years
support before giving their consent to date a young lady?

The real question here, I think, may be, what role does love play in all
this? Shouldn't a relationship be built on love and understanding, not
money and vice?  Could this be why there is much more divorce today then
ever before in the frum community; money has superseded more important

Thoughts, feelings?

Chaim Shapiro


End of Volume 31 Issue 66