Volume 32 Number 01
                 Produced: Wed Apr  5  6:49:33 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Chaim Tabasky]
Bringing Sacrifices Today (was Aliyah)
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Cherem d'Rabbeinu Gershom
         [Sammy Finkelman]
Counting Jews
         [Carl Singer]
Eruv & Making Aliya
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Heter Mekhira
         [Daniel Katsman]


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabaskc@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 17:58:50 +0300
Subject: Aliya

 First of all, thanks to Carl Sherer for going through the "sources" of
the lack of a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel.
 The story is told of a Polish Rabbi who was arbitrating a dispute
between husband and wife. She wanted to live in Israel, he to stay in
Warsaw. Said the sage "better to be in Chutz l'aretz and long to be in
Eretz Yisroel than to be in Eretz Yisroel and long to be in Chutz
 Though this story certainly contradicts the orthodox position that
kabbalat ole mitzvot - the acceptance of commandments as a yoke of
obligation is basic to the halachic world view, I think there is support
for this position in regard to Eretz Yisroel in the Rambam.

It's well known that in Mishne Torah the Rambam often follows the
presentation of halacha with a philosophical explanation and rationale.
(esp. at the end of major hallachic sections.) In The Laws of Kings in
ch. 5 halacha 10 the Rambam writes of the longing and joy with which
saints and scholars related to the mitzvah of living in E.Y. In law 11
the Rambam lists some of the spiritual profit of this mitzvah (all sins
will be atoned, etc.)  and then in law 12 the Rambam writes: Always
(alt. in all times) should a person dwell in Eretz Yisroel, even in a
city whose majority are idolaters (gentiles? what is the non censored
version?) rather than live in Chutz l'aretz even in a city whose
majority are Jews.  Could it be that by preceding the "mussar to the
halacha in this case the Rambam is implying that living in E.Y. requires
the proper attitude before the act, for other wise one might find
oneself in E.Y. longing to be somewhere else. Refer also to Ketubot 75a
"one who longs to see her (E.Y.)  is the same as one who was born there"

Chaim Tabasky


From: A.J.Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 16:00:12 -0700
Subject: Re: Aliyah

Ms Boublil wrote:

> It actually has become common in the last 5 years, for women whose
> husbands won't give a Get in the States, to come on Aliyah and apply for
> a divorce here.  They have met with much success in this.

Really?! I am surprised to hear this. How does the Israeli Bet Din
enforce its decision on a recalcitrant husband who is abroad? If I am
not mistaken, the accepted American Orthodox method of having the couple
sign a kosher prenuptial agreement makes it much more likely that a
rabbinical court in the US (also France, I believe) will have a much
better chance of enforcing its hiyyuv get than an Israeli court where
such prenuptials are still not accepted practice.

Do you have more specifics?


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 12:09:34 +0200
Subject: Bringing Sacrifices Today (was Aliyah)

Shoshana Boublil writes:

> BTW, there are plenty of Rabbanim that pasken that Korban Pesach, at the
> least, should be kept today.  There was a great Rabbi from Jerusalem, in
> the last generation, that held this way, 

The Kapos Tmarim in Succa 34(?) suggests that it might be possible to
bring korbanos (sacrifices) today.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 00 12:30:00 -0400
Subject: Cherem d'Rabbeinu Gershom

ZS> The Shulchan Aruch (EH 1) says that the cherem was to have effect
ZS> `ad sof ha'elef', and some people have evidently taken that to mean
ZS> `until the end of a millennium', i.e. 1000 years after it was
ZS> enacted, but the correct translation is `until the end of *the*
ZS> millennium', i.e. the cherem expired at the end of the year 5000, or
ZS> about 300 years before the Mechaber's own time.

Well, if the term "ad sof ha'elef" was in the original proclamation,
then it would NOT mean 5000, or the year 1240 in the current dating
system. It would mean the year 1649.

In those days the Creation Era we now use was probably not used by
anyone. Instead what was used was the Seleucid Era, also known as the
Minyan Shetaros, which starts in 312 B.C.E. This was the date written on
contracts. They just added year after year one after the other.

It was still used in Rebbenu Gershom's time. You can see this by looking
at the Iggeres of Rav Sherira Gaon (published by Moznaim) where Rab
Sherira Gaon repeatedly uses those dates. He mentions for instance the
year 900 (which is actually 589 C.E) For dates after the year 689 CE,
they dropped the 1 in most writing. This letter was sent to communitioes
in the west around the year 987 CE.

This is the dating system Rabbeinu Gershom must have used.  In fact I
read it was used even later, by the Rambam.

In the last 40 years or so, it has been common to see secular dates
translated into Jewish dates in writing about Jewish history. But this
can actually profoundly miseducate people. The people of that time did
not use these dates for most things. When secular dates are translated
into Creation era, people can get profoundly misled, if they think that
any Jews and especially great talmidi Chachomim, used it. They used
other dates.

This gets you into another issue (discussed here some years ago) about
the possible loss of 168 years or so in our counting of Jewish history.
I can give plenty of arguments on that. I can prove it from Tanach even
how we get things wrong. There is one verse in Ezra that is almost a
translation of the previous verse but it is not understood that way
and as a result we don't understand things properly about Purim. The
other day someone asked how it is that the books of Exra and Nehemiah
and the book of esther seem to ignore each other., They don't quite. In
fact the book of Nehemiah mentions Esther (although not by name)

Interestingly that is the one piece of the Tanach that everybody, even
the most extreme Bible critics, agree as when it was written.

I don't think the mistake was on purpose like rabbi Schwab (I think)
once proposed . I would say maybe it happened because of the inability
of anyone to give an absolutely accurate chronology combined with a
desire to avoid Machlokos. The 420 year period is probably the length of
time the Bais Sheni stood - but that is the house itself, which was
rebuilt by Herod (that is even referred to as the third house
somewhere in the Gemorah) In later generations it was misunderstood what
the 420 years referred to.

Another problem was that the Greeks actually confused people about the
conflict with the Persians - theer had actually been peace for well over
a hundred years when Alexander came along and used the Persian Wars as
an excuse to rally the Greeks to his side.

I think maybe the words in the Ketubah which give the year ACCORDING TO
HOW WE COUNT, is an indication that actually it was known this could be
wrong and the mistake may not have been finalized until well into the
time of the Rishonim, if then.

The Gemorah actually discusses the Minyan Shetaros at one point (I think
in Avodah Zorah around 9a or 9b) and the question is raised is this
counting the number of dates since Yetziyas Mtzraim, minus 1,000? And
the answer is no. Or at least it was not picked that way. According to
currently used calculations it comes out the same. usually I guess most
people going over that think this is a coincidence like the fact that
the last digit of the secular year is for most of the year the same as
the last digit of the Jewish year.

ZS> The Mechaber says, however, that those communities who accepted the
ZS> cherem in the first place have continued to obey it even after the
ZS> expiry date, so the issue is moot.  The `cherem' now has the force
ZS> of minhag, a minhag which has now lasted longer than the original
ZS> cherem did.

If the end of the thousand corresponded to the year 1649, it would not
in fact have exoireed by the Mechaber's time, but he might not have
known about the continued use of the Minyan Shetaros hundreds of years
before his time. But I am not clear what he says (I don't have it) If he
actually says it expired how then could anyone think that ad sof haelef
means 1,000 years?


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 09:14:31 EDT
Subject: Re: Counting Jews

Most demographic surveys have been seriously flawed not so much due to
sampling errors (and we can let the statisticians and demographers play
with this aspect) but due to the "soft" self-determination of category.

As I recall in Philadelphia a survey once showed an extreme decline in
Orthodox Judaism -- because people were asked what they were -- and many
replied "reform" (which seems to include both "devout" reformed Jews,
those who belong / participate within an organized reform congregation;
and non-observant, non-participating Jews, those who are sometimes
termed "unaffiliated.")  When these same people were asked what their
grandparents were, they seems inclined to say that their grandparents
were "orthodox" -- meaning anything from they once saw their grandfather
make kiddush / grandmother light Shabbos licht - to indeed "observant".

I don't recall if I still have the "long form" of the survey results --
but like most such efforts, it was a well meaning, professional done
task -- but subject to great errors and multiple interpretations.

Carl Singer


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 00:51:40 +0300
Subject: Eruv & Making Aliya

Catherine S. Perel <perel@...> wrote:

>Frankly, I find your thinking rather narrow.  It's a shame, as I find
>that to be true whenever halachic issues arise.  Jews with disabilities
>are completely ignored -- as if we don't exist and wish and pray that we
>could observe all the mitzvoth with the ease you do... [much material

I certainly have no claim to be an expert on facilities for the
handicapped in Israel, but the situation here might be better than
Catherine thnks.  For instance, there is a hostel for handicapped adults
in my neighborhood and many of its residents are shomeir mitzvot.  Also
please keep in mind:

1) The the level of medical care in Israel is quite high  (I think that life
expectancy here is higher than in the United States)
2) Israel has a system of socialized medicine.  While this is not without
its own problems˙ it does, to a great extent, protect the handicapped and
their famlies from the high cost of medical treatment§
3) Unfortunately, because of the many soldiers who have been seriously
injured, there might be even a great sensitivity to the problems of the
handicapped in Israel than in other countries.

>Are you aware that to be a fruhm Jew in an electric
>wheelchair, the chair must be on at all times on all Sabbaths and Yom
>Tovim?  Are you aware of the danger inherent in such a design -- a
>design developed for scooters, not for wheelchairs, in eretz Israel?

I am not familiar with either the technical or halakhic problems of
electric wheelchairs, but I frequently see people using them on the
streets in my neighborhood.

>Further, to say Israel has all the ammenities of modern life only
>displays the same lack of knowledge and understanding that exists in the
>US.  If Torah is to be the tree of life, why was the rabbi more
>concerned about laying t'fillin rather than seeing to it that he could
>get meals?

I certainly don't have the expertise to give Catherine advice on her
making aliyah, but I do hope that she does not reject the possibility
out of hand.  I would be glad to get her in touch with the hostel that I
mentioned above, which I'm sure has experts who could give her useful
and accurate information.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: Daniel Katsman <hannah@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 23:21:49 +0200
Subject: Re: Heter Mekhira

Carl Sherer wrote:

>Actually, AFAIK most fruhm people in Eretz Yisrael do not rely on the
>"heter mechira" (the sale of the land to non-Jews during the Sabbatical
>year so that the land may be worked and its fruits may be subject to
>ordinary commerce) today. The Charedi community never accepted it as a
>result of the poskim of Europe disagreeing with Rav Kook zt"l who first
>formulated it. In fact, even Rav Kook himself felt that the heter was
>temporary, and should be re- evaluated every seven years to determine if
>it was still necessary.  As such, much of the dati leumi (national
>religious) community also does not rely on the heter.

This may be truer of Yerushalyim than of other parts of the country.  My
impression is that even in Petah Tikva, where it's not so hard to get
non-heter-mekhira produce, most non-haredi dati'im rely on the heter.
That would apply even more in relatively out-of-the way places.

> When I was in a hesder Yeshiva twenty-one years ago, the Yeshiva did not
> rely on the heter either.

Since I was in the yeshiva with Carl that year, I would like to relate a
few points that the Rosh Yeshiva, R. Aharon Lichtenstein, made at the
time about the heter in a pre-Shemitta talk:

    1.  He had personal reservations about its halakhic efficacy.
    2.  He was not comfortable either with effectively abrogating all of
shemittat karka'ot or with signing over all of Erets Yisrael to some Arab.
    3.  He himself did not rely on the heter.
    4.  The yeshiva would not rely on the heter, because, among other
reasons, he did not want any student who did not rely on it to feel he
couldn't eat there.
    5.  Those who, however, did rely on the heter had a valid authority on
whom to rely ("yesh lahem al mi she-yismokhu").
    6.  Non-reliance on the heter should not be a source of friction within
families (i.e. a student  who did not rely on the heter but whose family did
should not refuse to eat with them).
    7.  One who did not rely on the heter had to be very careful that there
was no element of "yohara" (showing off or "holier-than-thou"-ness) in his

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva


End of Volume 32 Issue 1