Volume 31 Number 80
                 Produced: Mon Mar 27  6:16:17 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are raffles michshalim? (2)
         [Carl Singer, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Bircat Habayit
         [Menucha Chwat]
Hiring and Firing Rabbis in Israel
         [Sheri & Seth Kadish]
Invisibility and Funeral Customs
         [Warren Burstein]
Invisibility and Women's Tefilla
         [Deborah Wenger]
Pre-Bar Mitzvah Torah reading
         [Elazar M Teitz]
Rav Hirsch & Secular Studies
         [Janine Weinstock]
Reading Someone Else's Email Messages
         [Roger & Naomi Kingsley]
Se'udas Hoda'ah
         [Joseph Geretz]
         [Moe Rosh]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 12:36:33 EST
Subject: Re: Are raffles michshalim?

I'd prefer that a tax lawyer or account step in here -- but I do believe
that purchasing raffle tickets is not a charitable contribution.  I
imagine if you win something at a raffle or Chinese Auction you can
deduct the cost of your raffles (not the food part) as an expense
against the winnings.

In past years both my waistline and I have often chosen not to go to
tzedukah dinners, but rather to send a check -- thus it's (a) fully
deductable and (b) the tzedukeh gets the full amount without having to
pay for my meal.

Carl Singer

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000 23:41:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Are raffles michshalim?

> From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
>         We recently received a brochure for a "Chinese Auction," (a type
> of raffle) from a worthy tzedakah (charity). My wife shared my
> enthusiasm over it for two reasons: (1) the tzedekah is one we want to
> contribute to and (2) the grand prize is truly grand.  In fact, the
> grand prize is worth several thousand dollars.  We joked about winning
> it, and then it occurred to me: we could not afford to win it!  The
> reason is that in the United States, income taxes are due on the market
> value of any prizes a person wins (I do not know of the situation in
> other countries).  Winning the grand prize would cost us a thousands of
> dollars in taxes.
>         Now -- to put it bluntly -- I am not sure that all prize winners
> report their wins to the IRS (the U.S. tax agency).  This is improper,
> of course, but I suspect that it does occur.
>         Here is the question: by putting a such a large prize before the
> public, and such a large temptation to cheat on one's taxes, is the
> tzedakah over (transgressing) on "lo titain michshol" (do not put a
> stumbling block before the blind, i.e. do not tempt a person to do
> wrong)?  If so, how can tzedakah's justify this common practice?

In many cases, the tzedoko organization is required to report major
prizes to the IRS.  You would often get a form acknowledging that you
have won the prize and stating what the fair market value is.  It may
not be a transgression of "lo titain michshol" because the organization
is not tempting one to cheat but is actually providing the documentation
to report the winnings.

Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore" | Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
 Jews are the fish, Torah is our water | Zovchai Adam, agalim yishakun


From: Menucha Chwat <menu@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 13:03:02 +0200
Subject: Re: Bircat Habayit

Rav Shlomo Aviner said during his radio call-in responsa show, that
Bircat Habayit was written by Rudyard Kipling(!) and has no jewish
basis.  He advised that Jews take it down from their walls.
Menucha Chwat
Karmei Tzur


From: Sheri & Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000 22:42:38 +0200
Subject: Hiring and Firing Rabbis in Israel

	Unfortunately, the problem Zusha describes is quite typical in
Israel, though the cases are not always as extreme as the one he
describes.  The chief rabbi of an Israeli city (rav ha-ir) is appointed
for life, with a good salary, prestige, and numerous areas of authority
that are legally his, but with very few specific responsiblities to his
public and virtually no way at all to remove him.  To put it simply, he
is not answerable to the community that initially elected him.
	The result of power and priviledge without personal
accountability is often corruption, which causes hillul hashem time and
again in Israel.  More often though, the result is simply
ineffectiveness and the stagnation of religious communites along with
their institutions.  I have lived in several communities, and in none of
them could the rav ha-ir be said to serve his public.  (This need not
mean he is insincere.  Often such a rav may work tirelessly on behalf of
his own personal projects and institutions, but these may have nothing
at all to do with what the larger public needs or wants.)
	I think it is very important for Jews outside of Israel to at
least be aware of the nature of the official titles that Israeli
rabbanim carry, knowing that the positions they hold are government jobs
and that holding the position is no proof (in and of itself) of being a
spiritual leader who is "ratzui le-rov echav".
	There are, of course, many "official" rabbanim who are living
models of kiddush hashem as well.  Nevertheless, they seem to be the
exception to the rule, which points to the desirability of radically
reforming the system or even abolishing it entirely.  This in the
interests of Torah, not narrow political goals.  In Zusha's case, if the
community was truly misled and they can prove it with documents, there
may be some eventual chance of overcoming the beaurocracy at the
Ministry of Religion (but don't hold your breath!).  Or you may have to
go to court, which raises halakhic problems of its own.
	In North America, where pulpit rabbis are hired and fired by
congregations, the life of a rabbi can be terribly hard.  Nevertheless,
having witnessed both systems, I'm convinced that the cause of Torah is
served far better when the rabbi must answer to his public.

Seth (Avi) Kadish


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 14:02:57
Subject: Invisibility and Funeral Customs

Joseph Geretz wrote:

> What I don't understand in the scenario presented above, is why a family
> would choose a Chevra Kadisha (burial society) whose customs are not to
> their liking.

Perhaps they didn't know?  When a family contacts the Chevra Kadisha,
wouldn't it save anguish for both sides if the CK told them right then
about its customs?  The family could then decide to go along, or to find
a different CK.


From: Deborah Wenger <dwenger@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 00 08:49:58 -0500
Subject: Invisibility and Women's Tefilla

IMHO, these two issues are directly related to each other. As Rose 
Landowne articulately pointed out, 

>The invisibility we're tolking about is that which makes you so
>invisible that the baal tefilah doesn't recognize your presence in order
>to include you in his tefilah for the tzibur, the baal kriah doesn't
>read loud enough for you to hear, (or you're so separated by a
>sound-blocking mechitza that you can't hear), and the person giving a
>dvar torah doesn't speak loud enough for you to hear or direct his
>speaking in your direction.

This is precisely one (not the only one) of the reasons for the
existence of women's tefilla groups. At a women's tefilla, all women are
included as participants, can hear all the proceedings, can hear (or
give) a dvar torah, can lead the davening if they so desire, etc. To me
(and probably to many other women), davening is much more meaningful in
such a setting than it can possibly be in a "traditional" tzibur where
women cannot see or hear what is going on on the other side of the

BTW, as an aside - some posters have incorrectly referred to women's
tefilla groups as "women's minyanim," with the implication that women
are trying to "be like men" and conduct their tefillot in exactly the
same way as men do at a minyan. This is assuredly NOT the case: at a
women's tefilla, the parts of the davening that can be said only in the
presence of a minyan - Borchu, Kaddish, Kedusha - are NOT said. Hope
this helps to clarify matters.

Kol tuv,


From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 20:49:24 +0000
Subject: Re: Pre-Bar Mitzvah Torah reading

Re Reuven Rudman's comments about pre-Bar Mitzvah boys reading the
Torah, note that the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 282:3) permits a minor
read, provided that not the full parsha be read by minors. Thus, if even
one aliyah is read by an adult, the obligation of krias haTorah is
fulfilled.  Sfaradim abide by this psak.

I believe that the reason this does not violate the rule of a minor not
being motzi (satisfying the obligation of another) is that the public
Torah reading is not an obligation on each individual, but rather is an
obligation of the tzibur (congregation). Thus, there is no one to be
motzi, and hence no disqualification for the minor, since the obligation
is that the parsha (portion) be read, not that the individual read it.
However, where the obligation *is* individual, such as the reading of
the Megillah, or (in the Torah) Parashas Zachor (the reading of the
obligation to remember what Amalek did to the Jews, read on the Shabbos
before Purim), Sfaradim and Ashkenazim agree that the reader must be an

Elazar M. Teitz


From: Janine Weinstock <Omaj@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 12:06:51 EST
Subject: Rav Hirsch & Secular Studies

In v31#74 Chaim Mateh writes the following:

<<Please pardon my ignorance, but did Rav Hirsch really teach that we should
lechatchila study gentile music, art, poetry, and philosophy, in order to
gain an opportunity to learn about G-d's world through these?  I was always
under the impression that his philosphy of secular studies, etc, was a
defacto (bidi'eved) situational advice.>>
<<Did Rav Hirsch indeed see secular studies as a lechatchila way of serving
G-d and of safeguarding the future of Judaism?>>

Actually, in Selected Speeches of Rav Shimon Schwab, (CIS Publishers,
1991), Rav Schwab ZTZ"L writes in a chapter titled: Torah im Derech
Eretz---A Second View (an address delivered in 1990) that at the age of
25, in 1934, in Hitler's Germany, Rav Schwab had published a book in
which he renounced Torah Im Derech Eretz (lit. Torah with the ways of
the world--secular studies), terming it a Hora'at Sha'ah, a time-bound
halachic compromise, introduced by Rav Hirsch, meant to save European
Jewry from the heresy resulting from Emancipation and the Enlightenment,
by temporarily allowing secular studies as halachically permissible.  In
1934, in the face of Nazi "deviltry" and the total bankruptcy of Western
Humanism, Rav Schwab's reaction became the slogan: "Back to the Ghetto!
Back to the Torah-only existence."

However, Rav Schwab continues, 30 years ago, he revisited the topic.
Torah Im Derech Eretz, he decided, had not been a Kulah (a halachic
leniency), Bedi'eved (after the fact), but rather, Lechatchila (in the
first place, ideal).  Rav Hirsch had his Mesorah (tradition) from Chazal
(our Sages), the Geonim (post-talmudic heads of Babylonian Yeshivot),
the Rambam, the Chachmei Sepharad (Scholars of Spain), through the
students of the Gaon of Vilna.  However, Rav Schwab emphasizes, it is
important that study of the Torah must be the Ikar (primary), while all
forms of human knowledge are the Tafeil (secondary), and (quoting
Rambam) "spice mixers and cooks" for the main dish, which is Torah.  Rav
Schwab writes that Derech Eretz can be utilized "as the medum to bring
about the Torah's full realization, both practically and ideologically."
Torah must be approached as "the divine nourishment," and human Derech
Eretz as "the aromatic ingredient to bring the Torah's intrinsic flavor
to its most perfect peak."  It means "applying Torah to the earth and
not divorcing it from the earth."  He continues that the exclusion of
Derech Eretz may be good for a few, but not for the masses.

At the same time, however, Rav Schwab warns we must be aware of, and
prepare for, the dangers of modern-day moral attitudes in secular
culture and literature.  We must have a very strong basis of faith and
knowledge, and we must exercise extreme caution in our engagements with
the secular world.  Rav Schwab also emphasizes that this view is not the
opinion of the majority of today's Roshei Yeshiva, in Israel and in the
Galut.  However, the "Torah Only" and "Torah Im Derech Eretz" camps can
exist side-by-side.  As long as one is prompted solely by "Yiras
Shamayim (fear of Heaven) and a search for truth, each individual has a
choice as to which school he should follow."

Eilu v'Eilu....... (These and those are the words of the living God.)

Janine Weinstock


From: Roger & Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 00:21:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Reading Someone Else's Email Messages

> Material written on a company computer is company property and thus the
> laws of privacy certainly from public law and presumably by Jewish law
> have no effect

I wonder if this is that simple.  It seems to me that this is no
different to personal letters which may be addressed to a worker at the
workplace.  In that case also, the worker is using (by implied
permission) the company facilities for receipt of mail, which is all
that the computer here is.  Suppose the mail is downloaded (or
immediately offloaded) onto a personal diskette?

Roger Kingsley


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000 01:41:01 -0500
Subject: Se'udas Hoda'ah

Sheldon Meth wrote:
> I am looking for mar'eh mekomos [references] to or
> other information on halachos [laws] or minhagim
> [customs] of a Se'udas Hoda'ah [Feast of Thanks].

I have heard that it is representative of the Korban Toda [Offering of
Thanks] which would be brought by a person to express grattitude to

Elkana (Shmuel's father) used to bring yearly offerings in Shilo and
brought special offerings after the birth of Shmuel. I presume that
these were such Korbanos. Nowadays, we can't bring Korbanos so we make a
Se'udas Hoda'a instead. I assume that this is a fully qualified Se'udas

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.


From: Moe Rosh <moerosh@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 09:27:10 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Theodicy

While I have not seen it, I suspect that there has already been a
discussion of theodicy on mail-jewish.  In any case, the shooting of a
six-year-old by a classmate yesterday again raises this troubling
question.  One frequently offered explanation for such events, within
the context of Jewish thought, is that Hashem, by giving us free will,
permits us to perpetrate evil.  It is an inevitable consequence of free
choice.  It is hard to understand, however, what meaningful kind of free
choice a six-year-old might have. Such an explanation also does not deal
with the kind of choice a victim might have, nor with the question of
the significance of prayer when Hashem does not appear to take a direct
part in situations which might run contrary to our prayers.  "Evil"
which results from other than human choice, such as natural disasters or
congenital illnesses, are also not covered by that kind of explanation.

In the end we must accept the idea that we cannot understand the
reasons, but in the meantime I'd be interested in people's thought on
the issue.

Moe Rosh


End of Volume 31 Issue 80