Volume 32 Number 15
                 Produced: Sun Apr 30 11:21:19 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Burial Customs
         [Carl Singer]
Grama-operated electric wheelchair (3)
         [Joel Goldberg, Akiva Atwood, Carl Singer]
How Zomet and Rabbi Zalman Auerbach Met
         [Russell Hendel]
Number of OJs in USA
         [Robert A. Book]
Rav Soloveitchik's works
         [David and Toby Curwin]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 09:41:43 EDT
Subject: Re: Burial Customs

<< In fact the actual services (tahara and interment) of the
 Chevra Kadishas associated with UOHC cost nothing, because all the
 misaskim are voluntary. However each of the Chevra kadishas maintains a
 gmilus chesed fund, and bereaved families for whose niftorim the chevra
 has been misasek often make a contribution to this fund.
 Perets Mett, London >>

I believe this is the case in most of the civilized Jewish world.

There are, however, some for pay services around greater New York.
Several years ago when a community I lived in needed a shomer over a
2-day Yom Tov (someone's parent was nifter late erev yom tov) a "for
pay" service came in and supposedly provided this service.

At issue was -- and perhaps someone can offer insight, what are the
qualifications for being a shomer.  We had a "minyan man" -- an ohney
who lived in his car, and begged (I don't know a more politically
correct term) at a series of shules.  Although he dressed frum, etc., --
one of our balabatim said that he could not be our shomer (I thought it
would be a win-win situation, he'd have a warm place to spend the night,
and the money would go to him) This balabus noted that he doesn't even
stand (still) for Keddusha, etc.  Ideally, we'd have members of the
community who stay in shifts and recite tehillim, etc., but what are the
minimal requirements / issues?

Carl Singer


From: Joel Goldberg <joel@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 09:40:15 +0200
Subject: Grama-operated electric wheelchair

David (and Tamar) Hojda <hojda@...> asked:
> A) What proof do we have that Rav SHelomo Zalman supported the use of
> the grama-switch appliances and what do we know as to the limitations he
> would have put on who would be eligible to use them and under what
> conditions, specifically regarding the electric wheelchair?//

I have personal knowledge of this, as my wife is the woman in question
in one of Rav Auerbach's rulings. When she was in Israel in 1988-89 her
wheelchair was converted by Machon Tzomet to the grama system. Rav
Auerbach explicitly approved my wife's use of this chair in
shabbat. However, he also refused to have his approval posted on the

Hanoch Teller, in his book "From Jerusalem his Word" relates this story,
but gets the last detail wrong. Teller writes, incorrectly, that R'
Auerbach did give his agreement to post his approval on the chair. I
know that my wife is the subject of the the story, because after R'
Auerbach was niftar, Hanoch Teller called my mother-in-law to ask her
for the details. My mother-in-law referred HT to my wife, but Teller did
not call her, presumably because he had limited time to get the book

The reason Hanoch Teller knew about the story is that he was one of my
wife's teachers in seminary that academic year of 88-89. The chair
itself we donated back to Tzomet sometime before we left Bayit Vegan in
1995. On the back of the chair was posted a "generic" psak of its
permissibility for shabbat use.

So, yes R' Auerbach gave his approval, but he also refused to publicise
it, which has had the effect of allowing others to claim that his
approval was withheld. I have no information as to why R' Auerbach
withheld his permission to publicise his approval.

Finally, R' Auerbach was very helpful to us when we had a number of
questions concerning how to fit the halachot of married life with my
wife's severe physical limitations.

Joel Goldberg
Beit Shemesh.

From: Akiva Atwood <atwood@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 09:23:40 +0200
Subject: RE: Grama-operated electric wheelchair

> B) I understand that both the Machon Tzomet and the Machon
> L'Technologia V'Halacha rely on this concept. What practical
> differences exist between the way each of these two institutes apply
> this heter?

AFAIK, the Machon L'Technologia only uses their grama devices for pikuach
nefesh (or suffek P.N.) situations -- hospitals, doctors, etc.

Akiva Atwood, POB 27515
Jerusalem, Israel 91274

From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 17:14:54 EDT
Subject: Re: Grama-operated electric wheelchair

<<  The electric wheelchair that is now marketed for use on Shabbos, which
 is somewhat similar to a golf cart, is what interests me most, as its
 use is not tied to a heter of pikuach nefesh, but rather of kavod
 HaBrios. >>

Does someone who is, for example, a quadraplegic really need a heter to
use an (electric) wheelchair on Shabbos?

Some weeks ago someone posted a note that if one had no alternative, one
could tear bathroom tissue on Shabbos -- one would presume for immediate
use -- in order to preserve human dignity.  Certainly someone with a
chronic condition is equally in need of maintaining their dignity -- I
imagine that this issue of kavod haBris has boundaries (If one were to
break one's ankle, a temporary condition, then I doubt that an electric
wheelchair would be acceptable.)  All this not withstanding, there have
been several decisions re: someone who could only go to shule if they
were to violate Shabbos -- and the response has usually been. "Don't go
to shule." -- something, which on the surface is discomforting -- but
again we only get surface views of many such situations.

Having regurgitated some postings, I must add that I believe this type
of "blanket" discussion is invalid in a sense because we must take the
"system" viewpoint, and the "system" is not only the wheelchair but also
the person (his or her circumstances), the community, etc.  One can
speak of devices, categories of devices, etc., But it is the individual
who is impacted who must seek a solution which is consistent with their
beliefs and with which they are comfortable -- hence the normal response
of "consult your local reliable Rabbi" (who in turn will as necessary
consult others....)

May the Rabboyno Shel Oylam continue to cure the afflicted among klal

Carl Singer


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 21:47:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: How Zomet and Rabbi Zalman Auerbach Met

David and Tamar Hojda in Volume 32 Number 10 comment on a Newspaper
article which in turn comments on the electric wheelchair developed by
Zomet to aid crippled people get around on Shabbath. Specifically these
specially designed wheelchairs receive their legitimacy for use on
Shabbath by combining the concepts that people should "be treated with
honor" with the concepts of indirect causation.

The technical details may be found in "Crossroads-Vol 2" and in a
pamphlet by Prof Zev Lev.(Zomet produces an annual volume on its
activities called CROSSROADS) The article discusses ALL
issues--including the Rabbinic issue of "creating a scent", "creating
Nolad", "is anything allowed on Sabbath because of indirect causation"

David also raises the issue of how we know what Gedolim actually
said(since this newspaper article claims that Rabbi Auerbach did not
give the heter which was used).

Well one way of knowing what Gedolim said is to hear personal accounts.

I recently heard the Director of Zomet, Ezra, speak in Baltimore. He
told how he first met Rabbi Zalman Auerbach. A person in Rabbi Auerbachs
neighborhood came to shule every day but Shabbath.  When Rabbi Auerbach
asked why not he was told that the person was crippled and could not use
his wheelchair on Shabbath. So Rabbi Auerbach called Ezra at Zomet and
asked if anything could be done to help this person. Zomet and Rabbi
Auerbach worked till they came up with a wheelchair that was both
halachically and technologically feasable. Ezra emphasized that this was
the first time he met Rabbi Auerbach and he was very impressed with his
piety and concern for his fellowman.

I hope this partially answers David's question

Russell Jay Hendel; PHd ASA; <rhendel@...>
Moderator Rashi is Simple
Surfing the Talmudic Seas


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 02:26:31 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Number of OJs in USA

> From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
> Not a one single person has stated _where_ this "well known" statistic
> (10%) comes from.  Can't someone give this information, and perhaps the
> list could discuss how accurate the source for this number is?  How were
> the statistics gathered?  Did they reach all the Orthodox groups
> (Chassidish, Yeshivish, Young Israel, etc) or just the ones that publish
> statistics of their numbers?  My gut feeling is that there are much more
> than 10%.  As a former New Yorker, I wouldn't be surprised if today
> there are 1 million frum Jews in the greater NY/NJ area alone.

There have actually been serious statistical studies of the composition
of the Jewish population of the United States.  One such survey was the
1990 National Jewish Population Survey, sponsored by the Council of
Jewish Federations.  As I write this, I have in front of me a
publication called, "Highlights of the CJF 1990 National Jewish
Population Survey," published in 1991 by the CJF.

This study was conducted with a phone survey.  They started with "random
digit dialing" -- not lists of Chassidish, Yeshivish, Young Israel, or
whatever.  Any home in the U.S. with a telephone was equally likely to
be called.  They then asked a set of screening questions to determine
whether anyone in the household was Jewish, considered themselved
Jewish, was raised Jewish, or had a Jewish parent.  It is possible they
missed people who don't have telephones, or who refused to answer
questions, but no one was missed because they weren't on someone's
membership list, since no membership lists were used.

If any of the above was the case, the household was eligible for the
survey.  A total of 2,500 households was selected, and an adult in each
house was asked a bunch of question about the degree of Jewish identity
and practice in the home.

Here are some interesting (to me) highlights:

Estimated total population of 
households meeting above criteria:	  6.84 million.

"Core Jewish population" (excludes those
with Jewish parentage who identify with 
another religion):			  5.5 million

Consider Judaism to be their religion:    4.4 million

Identify as Jews, but claim "no religion: 1.1 million

Religious affiliation and practice:

Of those who consider their relgion to be Judaism, 6.6% of born Jews and
7.4% of converted Jews consider themselves Orthodox.  (Note that the
"Born Jews with no religion" are excluded from this figure, so the true
percentage for born Jews is actually smaller.)

Of households with a Jewish denominational prefernce (including "just
Jewish" as a denomination):

  Orthodox          6.8%
 "Traditional"      3.2%
  Conservative     40.4%
  Reform           41.4% 
  Reconstructionist 1.6%
 "Just Jewish"      5.2%
 "Miscellaneous"    1.4%

Of household with current synagogue membership, the affiliations are:

  16% Orthodox
  43% Conservative
  35% Reform  

Of current Orthodox Jews who were born Jewish, they were raised...

   88.4%  Orthodox, 
    5.1%  Conservative
    4.4%  "Just Jewish"
    0.4%  Reform

Of all born Jews who consider Judaism to be their religion ...

   61% fast on Yom Kippur
   59% attend synagogue on the High Holidays
   11% attend syangogue weekly

Of Jewish households (not including mixed Jewish-Gentile

  86% attend a Passover Seder (!)
  44% light Shabbos candles
  41% have a current synagogue membership
  17% keep kosher, at least to the extend that they never eat
      non-kosher meat

Also, this is the survey that came up with the famous 52% intermarriage
figure.  Specifically, of born Jews who married in the following years,
the following percentages married non-Jews (who did not convert to
Judaism under any auspices):

     pre-1965:  9%
    1965-1974: 25%
    1975-1984: 44%
    1985-1990: 52%

All of these figures are taken from the CJF publication mentioned above,
and of course they are only estimates subject to the usual caveats about
polls and survey data.  Still, I think the numbers are interesting.  I
think I read somewhere that another survey is planned for this year.
Perhaps we will see the results sometime next year.

Note: I have no affiliate with the survey, the polling company, or the
CJF.  My only connection with the survey is that I called them up and
asked for a copy,

--Robert Book    <rbook@...>
  University of Chicago


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 22:30:16 +0300
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik's works

I have a photocopy of Rav Soloveitchik's article "Kodesh V'Chol"
("Sacred and Profane") as appeared in the Hebrew daily "HaTzofe" on
September 15, 1993. In the introduction it says a new collection of the
Rav's works in Hebrew by R' Moshe Krone (who translated the article, and
died a few weeks after the Rav) would be published shortly.  Does anyone
know what happened to that book?

Also, in the book Shiurei Harav, there is an article called "The Seder
Meal". Does anyone know if it was ever translated into Hebrew, or if
there is another Hebrew article with similar ideas (as occur with a
number of the Rav's works)?

Lastly, has anyone ever attempted to make an index of the biblical and
talmudic quotes in all of the Rav's works, Hebrew and English?  If not,
and there aren't significant copyright problems, perhaps this could be a
project for the Mail-Jewish community. Individuals could each take one
book or article, go through it and write down the sources. The results
could be put online. It could be a great resource, particularly for
shiurim on parshat hashavua.

David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne


End of Volume 32 Issue 15