Volume 31 Number 69
                 Produced: Tue Feb 29  4:39:54 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Babylonia and aliya
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Bowing during the Amida
         [Moishe Friederwitzer]
Collect Call Game
         [David Steinberg]
Invisibility and Funeral Customs
         [Carl SInger]
Keeping silent (was child abuse)
         [Louise Miller]
Masada and Suicide
         [Bernard Jacobs]
         [David Charlap]
Query on Judaic software
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Reading Someone Else's Email Messages.
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 22:21:35 +0200
Subject: Babylonia and aliya

 Isaac A Zlochower wrote:
> The Rambam in Mishne Torah, Kings 5:12 does not mention Rav Yehuda's
> aphorism against going from Babylonia to Israel, but does cite the
> statement above about not going to other countries that was given in the
> name of Samuel.  The Rambam uses the verse in Jeremiah to support that
> position.  But if the verse really does imply something other than its
> simple meaning, why is Israel different than any other country relative
> to the ban against going out of Babylonia?  If Israel is, indeed,
> included (as per the Kesef Mishne -R' Yosef Karo) then how is this
> position consistent with the Mishna in Ketuvot 110b which states that a
> person can force his family to go with him to Israel and makes no
> distinction between Babylonia and any other country?  If the Rambam does
> not learn his din from the verse, but is only using it figuratively,
> then why is Babylonia given a privileged position since it was no longer
> a great Torah center in the Rambam's time?

Rav Teichtel in Em HaBanim Smeicha quotes Rav Yehoshua Kutner, the
author of the responsa Yeshuot Malko as saying the reason is that "the
Jews of Babylonia were remiss and did not want to return with Ezra (for
they did not deem this [redemption] a complete divine visitation).
Therefore, they must stay there until the final visitation, as the
prophet fortold. However, those who dwell in these countries, who were
exiled from Eretz Yisrael by Titus, along with the people of all the
other lands, are not included in this rule. On the contrary, it is a
great mitzva. Also it seems to me that those Babylonian Jews who
ascended to Eretz Yisrael while the Second Temple was still standing and
were subsequently exiled from Eretz Yisrael to these lands, are also
excluded from this rule."

Rav Teichtel also recommends looking at Siddur Ya'avetz, Sullam Beit El
(p 13a), Pe'at HaShulchan (1:8) and Derishat Tzion (Sha'ar Tzion p. 82)
who resolve the above question.

David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Moishe Friederwitzer <zaidy@...>
Date: 18 Feb 2000 15:47:48 EST
Subject: Bowing during the Amida

Someone recently asked why we don't bow during more of the Amida. In
Parshas Tetzaveh Perek 28 Posuk 36 Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin Z"L in his
Oznayim L'torah says that the greater one is the more he has to humble
himself. For example a King must remain in the bowed position during the
whole Shmoneh Esrei.

Moishe Friederwitzer


From: David Steinberg <djs@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 10:23:36 -0500
Subject: Collect Call Game

I agree with the sentiment that argues that barring misrepresentation it
is acceptable to place a collect call expecting that the call will be
refused.  The service providers set the rules to ensure their
profitability and you may take advantage of the service offered.

My wife recently received of an offer by a coffee company that offered a
significant discount on a coffee maker to entice the customer to try
their coffee.  The company presumes that a portion of the public will
subscribe to the companies monthly program.  There are book and music
clubs that proceed with the same assumption.

Lets assume that the companies lose money on their initial offering.
Can a baal nefesh - someone who tries to attain a superior level of
ethics and behavior - take advantage of the offer?  Can that person do
so knowing that she won't order the coffee or he won't buy any more
books or records (oops CDs)?

My gut is that the company is (or should be) aware that some percentage
of the customers will do just that and they calibrate the offer to
maximize the profits.  But they know that not everyone will subscribe or
buy more and that therefore there is nothing wrong taking advantage of
the offer.  The company would prefer that all customers who sample
follow up by subscribing.  But I have no obligation to conform to their
preference.  Just as I have no obligation to buy a product just because
the company sponsors an event that I attend.

BTW, I differentiate between offers that have no commitment to purchase
vs offers that do require a commitment.  It is obviously Midas Sodom -
highly unethical - to take advantage of the latter, knowing that the
company will never pursue you.

Finally, the whole thread reminds me of an issue in psak regarding
opening cans on Shabbos.  I understand that Lithuanian poskim were more
stringent in this regard than poskim from other places.  This stringency
could be attributed to the poverty endemic in Lithuania.  A can that was
opened would surely be made into a keli - untensil - just as the
yahrtzeit glasses in my childhood were used ever after.  With phone
prices tending towards zero, the metzius for collect calls may change as


From: Carl SInger <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 10:20:38 EST
Subject: Re:  Invisibility and Funeral Customs

I recall perhaps 20 years ago attending a shiur that HaRav Smuel
Kaminetsky gave to the local (Philadelphia) Chevra Kedisha.  At the risk
of misquoting him, his focus was on Tahara (the work of the Chevra) an
in essence he said that there were many different minhagim associated
with different groups and that these were acceptable.  The discussion
was not on "funeral or burial" so I cannot speak to that.

Of grave concern is the intolerance or imposition of one's minhagim
(that are within halacha) upon others, especially at a stressful time
such as a leviah. Who's in charge?

The same happens at various simchas.  A little over a year ago , a dear
friend of mine "married off" his twin daughters within months of each
other.  Each ceremony was different in keeping with the minhagim of the
respective Chusan's family.  When I discussed this with him, he
celebrated that difference.  And we all enjoyed.

Rabbi Abraham Levene of Philadelphia (Lower Merion) tells a story of the
shule that his Father led upon retiring to Israel.  (And again, 20+
years may have dimmed my memory.)  But in essence this shule was blessed
with (old) frum balabtim from all over (Litvaks & Polacks & Galatziener
 ....) to accomodate this variety and also to allow people to gather in
their memories, the nussach of the shule was essentially that of whoever
was davening for the amud (within what in today's shules might be
considered "wide" boundaries.)  What a wonderful approach to celebrating
this diversity.  BTW, for those who don't know this family, I'm speaking
of the son and grandson of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, the Tzadik of Yerushalim.

Today it's rare that I go to a shule where any lapse from the minhag of
the shule perpaps by a relative or visitor davening for the Amud, even
one clearly within halacha doesn't draw rebuke (noisey or silent) and
ill feelings.  That's not to say that a shule shouldn't have a
well-defined minhag, but to say that "My way or the highway" is not an
hospitable approach.

Carl Singer


From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 09:36:45 -0800
Subject: Keeping silent (was child abuse)

Another less serious (but serious nonetheless) activity that plagues the
frum world is professional con men who move into a community and with
the "hashgacha" of looking/acting like religious Jews, they proceed to
fleece members of the commnunity via "business ventures" or

This has happened twice that I know of here in San Diego, and the
alleged con men left town to find new victims before the losses were

I have no ideas abouta solution.  Just the old saw that if something
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Louise Miller
La Jolla (San Diego,) CA


From: Bernard Jacobs <BJacobs571@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 18:17:28 EST
Subject: Masada and Suicide

   The Jews who were in Massada at the time of the Roman Siege were of a
group called Zealots. Modern Zionist have made them out to be some kind
of heroes. If you give any credence to what Josephus wrote about them (
I know he was biased as he defected to the Roman side but he is still
the best source we have ) they were outlaws who were as happy to rob a
native Israeli Jew as attack a roman. According to Josephus during the
siege of Jerusalem they were the cause of untold suffering to the
inhabitance of the city as well as actually setting fire to the Temple
after destroying much of the food supplies in the city.
             The Romans were not a gentle people especially if you
revolted against them. I know the Romans had no right to occupy Israel
but I expect they didn't see it that way. The Zealots tied down about
one legion ( about 5500 Legionies and about 5000 Auxilia ) for about two
years during the siege.  At the end of this time the BEST they could
expect form the Romans was to be herded like cattle to Rome to be killed
( Inhumanely) in the Arena after suffering many indignities. The other
alternative were much worse including Crucifixion
 The Jews in Europe during the last war probably deep down hoped that
they would not be killed or were unaware of what was going to happen to
them.IMHO that is why they got on the trains and entered the
"showers". The Zealots were under no such illusion they KNEW what would
happen to them which is why it makes sense to kill them selves
painlessly and quickly. I don't think they were good Jews their actions
to other Jews show that. They also believed that their defeat was
punishment for preying on other Jews.
               Roman History is a great interest of mine and the siege
of Massada was a great military feat when you consider that their siege
ramp is still there after almost 2000 years. The Romans were not
automatically anti Semitic as some letters from the Emperor Claudius
survive telling the governor of Alexandra ( I think) to leave the Jews
alone and let them practice their ( and our) religion in peace.

         Bernard Jacobs


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 10:19:46 -0500
Subject: Mechitza

After reading much of this discussion on mechitza, I still find it hard
to understand why the synagogues in question find it so difficult to
accomodate the women's wishes.  Halacha certainly doesn't require that
the women pray in a different room with curtains drawn across the
windows (like I've seen at once place.)

In my elementary- and high-schools (both yeshivot), the mechitza ran the
length of the shul.  The two sections were on the left and right side.
The women could see and hear just fine from their side as a result.
None of the rabbis at the school (and some were very black-hat) seemed
to have any problem with this.  They davened with the students in that
shul, just like all the other rabbis.

I realize that building architecture may make this layout difficult in
some situations, but I honestly feel that our women would feel far less
alienated if our shuls would arrange themselves in this manner.


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 01:59:42 -0500
Subject: Query on Judaic software

I am considering a long overdue acquisition of a CDROM containing a
basic library of Tanach, the two talmudim, and some of the key halachic
and midrashic works.  There is such a package sold as the Judaic
Classics Library, Deluxe Ed. by Davka for $129.  It has assorted Hebrew
fonts, a search engine, and the capability of linking text and
commentaries in separate windows.  It features Rashi, Ramban, Onkelos,
etc. on Chumash; possibly just the text in Nach; Rashi and Tosfot on
Bavli; and possibly just the Yerushalmi text.  For halacha, it features
the Mishneh Torah text, Shulchan Aruch and Rema, Ketzot Hachoshen, and
Mishnah Berurah.

Does anyone have enough experience with this or comparable software to
give an opinion on the quality and utility of this product, and its
relative merits compared to similar software of this type?  For example,
does it have the complete Bavli text in a readable form?  Does it have
what is available in Yerushalmi?  Does it contain drivers for a Canon
BJ-200 ink-jet (or more modern versions)?  Will it print the equivalent
of a page of the Bavli text together with Rashi and Tosfot?  Can I cut
and paste citations into a Word Perfect or Word or HTML document?  Will
the search engine serve as a user-friendly Tanach concordance?

Thanks in advance,

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 10:16:36 EST
Subject: Reading Someone Else's Email Messages.

Immanuel M. Burton  (v31n64) says:
<<Does reading someone else's email messages without their consent fall
under the same category as reading normal mail about which Rabbeinu
Gershon (I believe) applied a Cherem?>>

I agree that reading someone's else email is a prohibited act. It has
the aroma of a "peeping Tom." However, I read years ago that a "herem,"
the type of which was imposed by Rabbeinu Gershom Meor HaGola
(c.960-1028) is valid only for 500 years, and we have past the half a
millennium mark, in fact we are closing on 1000 years. I do not know
what is the source for the 500 years limit. So the source for the
prohibition at this point might be "minhag Israel din hu." The right to
privacy is a modern concept, and Rabbeinu Gershom Meor HaGola was well
ahead of his time with his Herem. BTW, it is not clear at all if he was
the one who enacted the famous haramim of a. bigamy, b. unauthorized
reading of private letters.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


End of Volume 31 Issue 69