Volume 33 Number 08
                 Produced: Fri Aug 11  5:25:27 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Carl Singer]
Book Burning
         [Zev Sero]
the comparitive accuracy of the Hebrew and Roman calendars
         [Jay F Shachter]
Help please ... Do you know anyone in Ojai, CA?
         [Andy Levy-Stevenson]
Keys on Shabbat
         [Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes]
Lights on Yom Tov
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Mehadrin, found meat, and quantum Kashruth
         [Sam Saal]
         [Yitzchok Adlerstein]
When  is a Loophole a copout vs legitimate
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 22:07:58 EDT
Subject: Bishul

<< If it heats up - it is bishul(cooking), but what about a fan?  >>

I believe that bishul applies only to cooking (food), not heating.  Only
if you put food on or near this heat source are you dealing w/ bishul.

Carl Singer
(Caveat -- this is not an halachic response  CYLOR)


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 15:28:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Book Burning

Eli Turkel <turkel@...> wrote:
>Zev Sero writes:
>> In fact, it is an open halacha that a Sefer
>> Torah written by a Min must be burned; surely this also applies to any
>> Christian Bible, even a volume that only contains the `OT'.  Does Mr
>> Diamond suggest that this law does not apply today, because it doesn't
>> accord with our shared liberal philosophy on free speech?

>First of all burning a book written by a min obviously has nothing to do
>with censorship or destrying someone else's work.  As noted this applies
>even to a Torah written by a min. 

Kal vachomer.  If even a sefer torah must be burned if it was written by
a min, even though it contains none of the min's own words, then how
much more so must a book that contains his own words be burned.

> Thus, it has nothing to do with todays bookburnings.

How do you distinguish `today's' book burnings from `yesterday's'?  Who
tells you that such burnings don't happen/shouldn't happen today?

>Second I am not convinced that one needs to burn a Bible written
>by a nonJew.

Not any non-Jew, but specifically a Christian.  The reason that a sefer
torah written by an idolater must be hidden and not burned is that the
Names it contains are holy, because when the idolater wrote the Name he
meant our God.  But when a min (Xian) writes the Name he intends it to
refer to his god, and therefore it is not holy, and may be destroyed.
Now if this is true for a sefer torah, then surely it is also so for a
printed Bible, and I don't see the distinction you seem to be drawing
between a min who is Jewish by birth and one who isn't.  Both mean the
same thing when they write a Name.

>the story with the burning of Rambam's works shows that in real life
>it is always counterproductive. 

It shows nothing of the sort.  All that story, if true, shows is that
book burning, like anything, can *sometimes* be counterproductive.

>It is clear that the cherm on Spinoza did more harm than good.

Is it?

Zev Sero            


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 200 10:57:25 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: the comparitive accuracy of the Hebrew and Roman calendars

Daniel M Wells <wells@...> wrote on Fri, 23 Jun 2000:

> Generally the difference between real
> and calculated molad is very small showing a calendar with an extremely
> high degree of accuracy compared to the civil calendar which had to be
> altered back in the late 1500's and presumably again in the year 4000CE

Mr Wells is attacking a straw man.  The Roman calendar that had to be
altered in the late 1500's was quite inaccurate -- this is true.  It is
also very nearly a tautology: if it had to be altered, then of course it
was inaccurate.  But in being altered, it was made more accurate.  The
Roman calendar is now more accurate than the Hebrew calendar (in
measuring the year; the Roman calendar is admittedly less accurate than
the Hebrew calendar in measuring the month, but that is a trivial
statement, because the Roman calendar no longer makes any attempt
whatsoever to measure the month).

A year is approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds
long.  A Roman calendar year averages out to 365.25 - 3/400 days (no
leap year on century years not divisible by 400), which is 365 days, 5
hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds.  A Hebrew calendar year, however,
averages out to 365 days, 5 hours, 55 minutes, and 25 25/57 seconds.  In
other words, an average year on the Roman calendar is only 26 seconds
longer than the correct value, whereas an average year on the Hebrew
calendar is 6 minutes and 39 25/57 seconds longer than the correct

(These calculations were double-checked against the Appendix on
Astronomical Units, in the English translation of Abraham ibn Ezra's
commentary on Leviticus, Ktav Publishing House, 1986, ISBN 0-88125-109-7
(v. 3), available directly from the publisher or wherever quality books
are sold.)

A better comparison, however, would be between the Hebrew calendar and
some other calendar which attempts to measure both the year and the
month.  Neither the Roman nor the Islamic calendar is a fair comparison,
since the Roman calendar only attempts to measure the year, and the
Islamic calendar only attempts to measure the month.  A better
comparison would be, e.g., the Chinese calendar, which measures both the
month and the year, and which does both better than the Hebrew calendar

I know of no article of faith which requires Mr Wells to believe that we
are better mathematicians and astronomers than our neighbors.  On the
contrary: my experience has led me to believe that quite the reverse is
true.  All the Moslems with whom I am acquainted know where to face when
they pray.  But I know very few Jews in Chicago who can be made to
understand that they must face Northeast when they recite the Amida.

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


From: Andy Levy-Stevenson <teafortwo@...>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 22:53:28 -0500
Subject: Help please ... Do you know anyone in Ojai, CA?

Hi, sorry this is rather short notice and out of the blue, but I could
use some help.

I have the opportunity to take a class at a very prestigious design
school in Ojai, California in late August. The tuition is covered, but
I'm on a budget of practically nothing to cover staying in Ojai for a
week (this trip is on my own dime). In case you're unsure of where Ojai
is (I certainly was), it's about 45 minutes east of Santa
Barbara. Here's a map if you're truly curious:

Yahoo! Maps and Driving Directions

I'm hoping that someone might have a friend who lives in the area with a
fold-out couch where I could stay for a week (Sunday to Sunday) or know
of extremely cheap lodging (a college that rents dorm rooms in the
summer, etc.). I'd be gone pretty much dawn to dusk at classes, so
wouldn't be too much bother.

Sorry if this request sounds like an imposition, but I'd very much like to
take this class and the opportunity won't be there for another year at the

Please let me know if you can help ... thanks.

Andy Levy-Stevenson
2732 Lynn Avenue South
St. Louis Park, MN 55416


From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 20:37:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Keys on Shabbat
Newsgroups: list.mail-jewish

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> wrote:
> My objection is to the loophole spirit of the thing. Belts do not
> come with keys as fasteners. The only reason one is substituting the
> key for the original fastener is in order to carry it.

Perhaps this will help: the reason one is substituting the key for the
original fastener is in order to *not* carry it.


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:04:50 +0300
Subject: Lights on Yom Tov

Elaine and Robert Sherer <ERSherer@...>
>     Michael Feldstein asks
> <Does anyone know the reasoning behind why certain rabbis allowed one to
> turn lights on (but not off) on Yom Tov?  . . . does it have anything to
> do with the concept of aish m'aish?>
>     This was exactly the reasoning as I understand it. Turning on a
> light, in the early days of electricity, was equated with lighting a
> fire, something permitted on Yom Tov, when lit from an existing "flame."
> Today, we are better educated and have a better understanding of just
> what we are doing when we turn on an electric light or any other
> electrical appliance, and understand that we are creating new electrical
> energy and are no more permitted to turn on an electric light on Yom Tov
> than we are permitted to turn on an electric stove, or a television set.

Actually when we turn on an electric light, we are not creating
electrical energy, but transforming existing electric energy into light
and heat energy.  It's similiar, in a sense, to turning on a water
faucet.  When the faucet is turned on, the water (which already exists)
is pushed out of the pipe as a result of pressure from a pumping
station.  When the electric switch is turned on, electrons (which exist
in the wire) are pushed through a filament as result of pressure from a

According to physics, energy is not "created", execpt in cases of a
nuclear reactions, but transformed from one form to another.  Turning on
an electric light transforms the electric energy of the electrons to
light and heat energy.  I assume that the halahic problem is regarding
the creation of light.

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


From: Sam Saal <saal@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 11:16:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Mehadrin, found meat, and quantum Kashruth

I hope I got the details correct in setting out this discussion. If not,
please don't jump on me, simply correct me, publicly, so the discussion
can move forward.

In the Talmud there is a discussion of a town in which 9 out of 10
butchers are Kosher. A person, walking in the street, finds a piece of
meat and can consider it Kosher because the chances are that it came
from one of the Kosher shops.

On the other hand, if I went to a shop in the same town, bought a piece
of meat, came home and didn't remember from which shop I purchased, that
meat is forbidden to me even though the same probabilities exist.

Suppose I went to a shop, bought a piece of meat, came home and didn't
remember from which shop I purchased, then placed the meat outside your
house in this town. When you find the meat, you're in the first
situation and can eat the meat. This leads to an interesting paradox
that a piece of meat is "Kosher" for everyone except me!

Further, suppose you were to invite me for dinner and, unknown to me,
served that piece of meat. Could I eat it? Probably yes!?! (but I'm no

In layman's terms, we have something like quantum mechanics going on in
these scenarios. The reality (is this meat Kosher) depends on who we're
talking about and when we're talking.

Could Mehadrin (or other alternate "levels" of Kashruth) work the same
way? For a particular set of circumstances a food product is Kosher yet
those same circumstance make it inappropriate (no longer Kosher) for
someone else?

How can we build a lesson from the acceptance of the parodox to learn
how to accept various standards for Kashruth and ahavat chinum?

Sam Saal            <saal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ravadlerstein@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:26:02 -0700
Subject: Saskatoon

A friend of mine is planning to spend a Shabbos in Saskatoon, and needs
information regarding the availability of services there: kashrut,
restaurants, shuls, etc.

Any and all help is appreciated.

Yitzchok Adlerstein


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 02:22:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: When  is a Loophole a copout vs legitimate

In v32n93 Janice resumes the thread on Shabbos belts. Janice asks
What is "the spirit of the thing"  --
Is it to not go out on Shabbos because we've no eruv and can't lock our
Is it to go out on Shabbos (presumably to daven with a minyan) yet still have 
the comfort of knowing that our home is secure?
Taken a step further, if what's the "spirit" of the thing called an
eruv?  Is it to get around G-d's Torah, or to live within it?

Janet poses a fundamental question about Judaism.  When is a legal loophole
desirable and when is it a copout.

I would suggest an approach based on the UNDERLYING REASON for the law.
Recall the Talmudic statement that a person who decides laws without
knowing reasons is destroying the world. Let me give a simple contrast.

It is prohibited to be in a locked room with a member of the opposite
sex and it is prohibited to cook on the Sabbath. Technical ways out of
these laws are to stay secluded in an UNLOCKED room and to cook ones
meals BEFORE the Sabbath. So loosely, Janet can ask why should one of
these loopholes be OK while the other is seen cautiously.

The answer is that the REASON locked seculsion is prohibited is to
prevent and/or discourage intimacy. Hence if an unlocked seclusion
encourages intimacy I should avoid it!! But the reason for the Sabbath
laws is NOT to discourage ownership. Rather the reason for the Sabbath
laws is to discourage creativity. Sabbath prohibits PROCESS not
OUTCOME. Hence preparing my meal beforehand is encouraged because I
**still acknowledge Gods sovereignty** by going out of my way to cook
the day before.

In a similar manner no one is disputing that when I use a key in a belt
that the key has a double function---as a garment and as a key. But
again the purpose of Sabbath laws is not to deny accomplishment and
ownership-- rather the purpose of Sabbath laws is to abstain from
creativity so as to acknowledge Gods creativity. Hence there is no
reason to perceive this as a loophole

I hope this clarifies this difficult but fundamental issue

Russell Jay Hendel; phd ASA
Moderator Rashi Is Simple


End of Volume 33 Issue 8