Volume 31 Number 86
                 Produced: Wed Mar 29  4:53:46 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Collect Call Game / Caller ID
         [Shalom Krischer]
Email Privacy (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Daniel M Wells]
Invisible Women
         [Risa Tzohar]
Learning Schedule (2)
         [Daniel M Wells, Eliezer Appleton]
Saying 'I like ham but God forbade me'
         [Jay F Shachter]


From: Shalom Krischer <shalom_krischer@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 20:19:35 -0500
Subject: Collect Call Game / Caller ID

As usual, I am way behind on the discussions, but let me add my 2 prutot.

About 2 years ago, a friend of mine who is a venture capitalist, asked
me to be a "technical expert" on a cpmpany's product that he was looking
at.  (Please excuse the vaguenesses that follow, but I did promise

Basically their "mobile" product communicated with their "home base"
product via the caller ID block.  The mobile unit would call the home
unit; the home unit would read the signal (but never answer it); "goto

My first question at the time was "is this legal?"  (sounds familiar
now, but at the time...).  They told me that their lawyers and phone
company lawyers had already battled it out in court, and they (the
startup) won.


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 08:55:01 -0500
Subject: Email Privacy

There was an article on the subject of email privacy in this Sunday's
(3/26) New York Times.  For those who persist in thinking that their
email is private, it's worth a look.


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 15:51:43 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Email Privacy

> From: Roger & Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
> > 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?

There is a big difference between a worker writing or receiving using
company property, and the company owners writing or receiving especilly
when its not directly connected to company business. And as I stated in
my original post we are mainly talking about super users whose job it is
to make sure company property or business is not going to be damaged by
a negligent worker.

Since everything on a company computer by civil law and presumably
Jewish law belongs to the company, downloading onto a personal diskette
even 'private' email could be construed as stealing unless the company
openly allows it or in the case of a private letter, expects it to be



From: Risa Tzohar <rtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 14:18:30 +0300
Subject: Invisible Women

The question is not invisibility, it is sensitivity.  As has been
pointed out before in this discussion there are less offensive ways of
pointing out that there is no minyan than saying there are "only nine
people".  There are also ways to build shuls so that everyone feels
welcome and ways to organize Jewish education so no one feels short
changed.  Many of these issues are less halachic conflicts than matters
of public policy and social mores.  Perhaps that is why they let the
women put their hands on the animals in the ezrat nashim (ligrom lahen
nacht ru'ach?) to allow them to FEEL a part of the goings-on even if by
letter of the law they were not required to be doing this.  If the
molders of public policy (prayer, prayer venues, education etc.)  take
this into account everyone would benefit.


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 15:22:45 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Learning Schedule

> From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
> 	My son would like to learn as much Mishnayos as possible for his
> Bar Mitzvah in August 2001.Does anyone have a formal schedule based on
> X mishnayos per day leading to finishing Y sdorim in Z time?

The best way is, first to decide on which Mishnayos edition you will
use, and then check the number of pages which have to be read. Divide
the total pages by the number of days to go till the event. Each day's
reading should finish at some convenient place on the current, or
beginning of the next page.

That way what you learn is not tied to a fixed number of variable length
mishnayot each day, and thus since each page has around the same amount
of text, your learning schedule will have a generally fixed time period.

The same trick goes for say Mishna Brura. There is a minhag to learn
Hilchot Pesach 30 days before the festival (starting from
Purim). Hilchot Pesach has approximately 200 pages in the standard MB
editions and Hilchot Yomtov approximately 100. Thus if you read about 10
pages a day it should take you around the same amount of time each day
to learn and hopefully you should finish it before Pesach (There is
slightly more than 300, so on a day when time restraints are less
consuming - ie Shabbat, read an extra page or two).

One additional point, unless your memory is really good, keep a bookmark
where you got to, or tick with a pencil each mishnayos or halacha

As a side issue, its depends on how your son will read the mishnayos. If
the aim is just to complete with extremely superficial understanding, it
may be better to learn say just one seder of mishnayos but with real (on
his level) understanding. Get a rav to check him out one a month to see
if he really knows his stuff.

It is known that many of the great talmidei Chachmim of today, learned
just one or two sedorim of gemora before their bar Mitzvah, extremely rare
are those who learned the whole of Shas before their Bar Mitzvah. I would
suggest that a round table conference between your Rav, and/or the boy's
teacher, yourself, and your son would help clarify the undertaking your
son intends to take upon himself.

Remember also once he takes it upon himself, it may be like a neder
since he is 'Samuch LeIsh', and even if he is not yet bound by such
laws, the proximity to such real liabilty from the point of view of
Mitzvat Hinuch, should be brought into question.

May he grow in Torah, Mitzvot and Maasim Tovim.


From: Eliezer Appleton <eliezerappleton@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 06:34:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Learning Schedule

<< My son would like to learn as much Mishnayos as possible for his Bar
Mitzvah in August 2001.  Does anyone have a formal schedule based on X
mishnayos per day leading to finishing Y sdorim in Z time? >>

Just as there is an international Daf Yomi schedule, there is also an
international Mishna Yomis schedule as well. The Mishna Yomis plan
requires learning 2 mishnayos per day and completes the entire Shas in
about 6 years. That turns out to be about one seder per year.

The Mishna Yomis cycle began Seder Moed on the first night of Hanukkah
this year. We will be completing BS"D Masechta Eiruvin this coming
Thursday. If your son begins now, he should be able to complete the rest
of Seder Moed and most of Seder Nashim by his bar mitzvah.

IMHO, for most ba'alei batim like myself, this seder is much more
realistic ("do-able") and no less challenging than the more popular Daf
Yomi cyle.  Unless you have several hours per day to devote to learning
the daf, it's almost impossible to cover the entire daf unless one
attends a shiur where someone else is essentially learning the daf for
you while you passively listen. Even devoting that much time, the pace
is incredible. The daily mishnayos, on the other hand, can be learned
(from original sources, not Kahati or Artscroll) in a much shorter
amount of time.

Here in Chicago, we have one of the only Mishna Yomis shiurim that I'm
aware of. Is anyone else aware of such a shiur in other cities? I'd be
happy to post a calendar of the Mishna Yomis cycle on a web page if
there is interest.

Eliezer Appleton


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 200 21:11:51 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Saying 'I like ham but God forbade me'

In Torat Kohanim on Leviticus 20:26, one finds a famous and often-quoted
saying attributed to Rabbi El`azar ben `Azarya: "Lo yomar adam, ee efshi
le'ekhol bsar xazir, ee efshi lavo `al ha`erva, aval [yomar] efshi, uma
e`eseh, v'avi shebashamayyim gazar `alai".  "One should not say, 'I do
not desire pork, I do not desire forbidden sexual relations' -- rather,
one should say, 'I desire it, but what can I do?  My Father in Heaven
has decreed for me'".

(Parenthetically, this saying indicates the delight that some of our
early Rabbis took in playing with words, a delight lost on those of us
who think in the languages of the goyim, and one which has largely
disappeared from Torah discourse, although it does reappear slightly
during this month of the year.  The fact is that the word "efshi" -- and
its rarer variants, like "efshenu" -- almost always occurs in the
negative: "ee efshi".  To use this word in the positive would have had
an effect on the ear similar to the effect on an English speaker of
hearing, "A man should not be disgruntled; on the contrary, he should be

On January 27 of this year, Mr Daniel Cohn initiated a long thread of
discussion when he submitted a provocative article proposing that this
does not seem to be the proper attitude toward the fulfillment of
mitzvot.  He invites us to consider two statements that a man may make
toward his wife, which I shall call statement "A" and statement "B".
Let us examine a paraphrase of these two statements.

Here is statement "A":
	The only reason I refrain from grabbing my neighbor's
	wife is that the Torah forbids me.  God knows I want to.
	In fact, I think of very little else.  If it were not
	that it is forbidden by the Torah, I'm telling you,
	nothing short of a fence fourteen feet high would keep
	me from her.

And here is statement "B":
	It is totally irrelevant to me that the Torah forbids
	me to lie with my neighbor's wife.  This prohibition
	has no effect on my behavior.  None.  I want no woman
	other than you -- I notice no woman other than you.
	Even if the Torah permitted me my neighbor's wife, I
	would still stay away from her every bit as much as I
	do now, because I have no desire for her whatsoever.

Clearly, statement "A" expresses the "efshi" sentiments whereas
statement "B" does not.  Yet, Mr Cohn has ventured that it is better for
a man to utter statement "B" to his wife than for him to utter statement

Now, the reader may disagree, but I think this is excellently put.  It
is not, however, well thought-out.  You see, there is a principle of
Talmudic logic that is brought down in the fifth chapter of Qiddushin:
"sixa d'inttha lav ra`ya haveh".  Freely rendered from the Aramaic: "You
can't prove anything from the things you have to tell your wife".  To
demonstrate my point, I shall translate Mr Cohn's two statement to a
different domain.  I shall not be translating them very far -- only from
the prohibition of sexual contact with your neighbor's wife to the
prohibition of sexual contact with your own wife when she is nidda.
Statement "A" now becomes:
	The only reason I refrain from grabbing you is that
	the Torah forbids me.  God knows I want to.  In fact,
	I think of very little else.  If it were not that it
	is forbidden by the Torah, nothing short of a fence
	fourteen feet high would keep me from pouncing on you
	like a tiger.

And statement "B" is now:
	It is totally irrelevant to me that the Torah forbids
	me to have sexual contact with you this time of month.
	This prohibition has no effect on my behavior.  None.
	I have absolutely no desire for you.  In fact, the
	thought of touching you right now makes me nauseous.
	Even if the Torah permitted you to me, I would still
	stay away from you every bit as much as I do now.
	And what's more, you smell bad, too.

If you have performed this GedankenExperiment with me -- there is no
need actually to put it into practice, but the more empirically-minded
of you are welcome to do so if you wish -- you will, I trust, agree that
in the second domain it is better for a man to utter statement "A" to
his wife than statement "B".

The question we should be investigating is not whether we ought to say
"efshi".  Rather, it is when we should say it, and when we should not.
I wish to argue that Rabbi Elazar's examples were not randomly chosen,
that, in fact, the proper domain of "efshi" sentiments is extremely
small.  Rabbi El`azar did not prescribe "efshi" sentiments, for example,
for a Jew (to use Mr Cohn's second example) remarking that he does not
spend all of Shabbat sunbathing on the beach.  But there is a class of
negative commandments requiring us to abstain from certain behaviors
that are pleasurable and in no way immoral.  In most cases these are
commandments that are incumbent only upon Jews, not upon the Bnei Noah.
It is not immoral to drink blood, or to eat pork, or for husband and
wife to make love to one another any day of the month.  But the Torah
tells us that refraining from these actions will make us "Qdoshim".
This is not a concept that has any correspondent in the larger culture
in which we live.  The larger culture in which we live has a concept of
"sanctity", but "qadosh" does not mean "sanctus", as even Leonard
Bernstein knew.  It entails a separation, a dedication, and for it to be
meaningful, the separation must be for the sake of the dedication, which
means it must have no other purpose and no other motive.  The first
stage of marriage, in Jewish law, is called "qiddushin".  The effect of
qiddushin is a separation -- the bride separates herself from all other
men, she removes herself from the pool of available women with respect
to those men, but she is not, at the conclusion of qiddushin, the
groom's wife.  Only a separation has taken place; the bride and groom
have not yet acquired the rights in one another's person which
constitute a marriage; but it is the separation itself which causes the
act to be called "qiddushin".  Refraining from murder and theft are
eminently moral acts, but all the nations of the world are possessed of
a moral sense that teaches them precisely the same, and those are not
the commandments which distinguish us as a "goy qadosh".  Even the laws
of the Sabbath -- laws that cannot be discovered by the moral sense
alone, and which are observed by no other people besides our own -- are
laws which all observant Jews agree lead directly and immediately to a
better quality of life, conferring their benefits visibly.  But I defy
anyone to say that it is inherently beneficial for a person to eat one
species of locust, but not another species of locust.  The fact is that
it is not inherently good for a person not to eat pork -- the good comes
only because it is the fulfillment of a commandment, and if it were not
for the commandment such an abstention would have no point, and would do
us no good.  These are the things that make us a "goy qadosh".  There is
qdusha in the Sabbath, and we commemorate the qdusha in the Sabbath; yet
this acknowledgement does not make me "qadosh".  It makes me many
desirable things -- and there are many things one should desire to be,
in addition to being "qadosh" -- but it does not make me "qadosh".  To
be "qadosh" I must separate myself from something in this world as a
manner of dedicating myself to my Creator, just as the Sabbath is
separated from the rest of the week in dedication to the Creator.  And
for such a separation to serve its function, it must not be a separation
from anything which either my reason or my appetite would compel me to
avoid anyway.

The most popular religion in the world requires its adherents, for a
certain season every year, to give something up.  If I practiced this
religion, I would give up snuff.  Every year.  This is because I have
never taken snuff in my life, and I have no desire for it.  If I were
marooned on a desert island I would not suffer from the lack of snuff.
So doing without it would be easy.  But I am certain that my religious
advisor would deem such a practice unacceptable, for precisely that
reason -- that the sentiment of "efshi" is lacking.

Many Torah laws require us to give things up, but most of them do not
involve giving things up just to show our dedication to God.  In
classifying all Jewish law into fourteen broad categories, Rambam placed
into the category of "qdusha" only some (not all) of the food
prohibitions, and some (not all) of the sexual prohibitions.  These are
the two categories from which Rabbi El`azar ben `Azarya chose his
"efshi" examples with which this article began (some other mail-jewish
reader, perhaps, will venture to explain why Rashi chose to misquote
these examples, but that is not my present concern).  And those are the
only two categories, I claim, in which "efshi" sentiments are at all

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St // Chicago IL  60645-4111


End of Volume 31 Issue 86