Volume 33 Number 17
                 Produced: Thu Aug 17  8:19:59 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Again on the spirit of the thing
         [Carl Singer]
Does Judaism Recognize inductive Reasoning
         [Russell Hendel]
Female Jewish Slave
         [David Lloyd-Jones]
         [Russell Hendel]
Pictures Before the Wedding
         [Perets Mett]
         [Shalom Krischer]
Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim (3)
         [Stuart Wise, Aharon Fischman, Stephen Colman]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 17:45:56 EDT
Subject: Again on the spirit of the thing

Since I (not Janice) am the one who asked the "spirit" question -- let
me reply in a mode parallel to Dr. Hendel's -- but only concerning
Shabbos (not yichud, etc.) -- and that is what is the "spirit of
Shabbos" -- what does your gut tell you enhances your Shabbos experience
(within halachik boundaries) and what detracts from Shabbos -- even if
it is halachikly permitted -- that is not in violation of the AV

Here are a handful of questions -- and different people can apply
different halachik reasoning to achieve answers (or perhaps provide
answers and then support these with halachik reasoning:

Can you walk to Shule on Shabbos in the snow -- knowing that your boot
will mark the snow with letters (S'TAC WAP) -- CAT'S PAW.

Can you cut across a muddy corner of a lot instead of use the available
sidewalk -- knowing your boot will ....

Can you shoot pool or play pingpong (table tennis) in your basement.

Can you set your radio or TV to a timer to watch / listen on Shabbos.

Can you tape radio or TV programs for watch / listen after Shabbos.

Can you play basketball on Shabbos within an eruv?

Can you read a secular book on Shabbos.

Can you study for your Sunday morning MCATS or GRES or SATS on Shabbos.

Can you bring your newspaper into your home (within an eruv) or you mail
-- because it's raining and you're afraid it will get soaked.

There's a beautiful birthday cake on the table -- with writing on it --
and it's Shabbos, and everyone wants a piece of cake -- what can you do?

BTW -- I'm using "Can" not "May" -- because I think this is the crux of
the issue, one simply CANnot knowingly do things that are Mechalel
Shabbos -- any more than CAN eat a ham sandwhich -- and on the other
hand one should have no cunpunction doing those things that are
Shabbosdik.  Very zero - one.

I don't know that the answers to the above are as important (in a sense) as 
(1) how you go about deciding these issues for yourself and your family  -- 
do you open a sefer, call your LOR  or listen to your halachic heart (and in 
what sequence)  and 
(2) how you deal with others who may be of different opinion than you re: 
these same issues.

Carl Singer


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 19:25:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Does Judaism Recognize inductive Reasoning

Chaim Manaster in MJ v33n2 responds to my suggestion that some
numerical oddities in Nu-1 and Nu-2 can be resolved by assuming that all
census figures are rounded to the nearest 100 unless the number ends
exactly in 50 (in which case it is left as is).

(Before citing Chaims suggestion allow me to thank him for Rabbi
Kamanetsky's suggestion that the numbers reflect borrowing of people
from each tribe so that military units would be in even 100s. I had not
heard this and it does support my theory (as Chaim noted))

Returning to my original rounding suggestion Chaim notes that
I appreciate your response, however, your initial assumption that you
seem to take as axiomatic, begs the question. If you can supply a good
reason for your assumption, that you supply by fiat, then you do have a
satisfying answer. For the moment I am as puzzled by the purpose of the

I am glad Chaim said this because many of my Mail Jewish postings are
open to the same criticism. Roughly speaking my answer is that my
suggestion is INDUCTIVELY justified, not DEDUCTIVELY justified.  In
other words, the rounding model I suggested numerically fits the data in
Nu-1 and Nu-2 nicely and THEREFORE, since it fits the data I am ENTITLED
to believe it.

This type of logic is called inductive and is used in science all the
time Rav Hirsch also advocated it in his commentary. The basic premise
is that a premise can be proved if it is fits the data correctly and is
simple.  Since Rav Hirsch used this method throughout his commentary
maybe we should have a thread on this--"How does one prove things in

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; <rhendel@...>
Moderator Rashi is Simple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com  -------------NEW NEW CHECK IT OUT


From: David Lloyd-Jones <david.lloyd-jones@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 07:09:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Female Jewish Slave

A few days ago there was a post to your good newsletter which hung on
the proposition that the Chinese and Indian murder of female children
was related to necessity of having a male child who could provide for
the parents in their old age.

I do not think this computes as put either this simply (I have elided),
nor as simply as the original writers put it.

To digress for the purpose of illumination: my very excellent Mandarin
tutor, Prof. Shaw, comes from an upper-class family in Tien-Jin, near
Beijing. By contrast, I have manufactured bicycles in Taiwan (a Mandarin
speaking province), and travelled in Korea, and Hong Kong and its
territories. I built the first 400 coin laundries in Japan, many of them
in semi-rural areas.

I know more about how children support their parents in Asia than my
upper-class teacher does.  I had to show her a photograph from Fortune
magazine to convince her that in China women sow rice. It is a small
stretch, but a true one, to realise the closely allied truth that women
are the ones who sow the rice.

If you have ever seen the film "Seven Samurai," you have the essence: at
the end of the film the women are transplanting rice and the men are
playing drums.

What does this mean for the theory that female infanticide is related to the
need for children to support parents? Well, uh, it seems to me it shows
that the theory is [wrong], pure and simple.

I think that the female children got killed because the adult males had
more power, and -- here I fly into psychological speculation -- more
insecurity in need of buttressing, that they killed the girls.

Simple lesson from best empirical evidence: if you're a parent fearing for
your old age, bet on the girls.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 02:23:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: Gematriahs

A thread was started some time back on following laws whose alleged
reason was a gematria (a numerical association of letters). During
this thread I brought a Malbim to show that we need not believe that
any Talmudic laws are based on gematria. Avi Feldblum responds
I do not see that you support in any way that Alex has incorrectly argued.
Alex has brought a clear Gemarah that can be easily explained as Alex has
assumed. You have brought one acharon that interpret's that Gemarah
differently. I can see that you may want to hold like the Malbim, and
therefore hold the opinion that there is no gemarah that rules based on a
gematria, but I cannot see any validity at all in questioning someone else
who choses to intrepret the gemarah as it is written to indicate that we
pasken based on a gematria.

Avi is right--I have left an important point out of my argument: Namely,
that Gematria is intrinsically not a valid method of derivation because
you can derive anything you want. All I have to do is find a sentence
whose numerical value equals some word or phrase and I have a
prohibition.  Consequently Gematria is not a logical method. By contrast
the other methods of Talmudic derivation (like the rules of style of
GENERAL-PARTICULAR) even though they may be complex and poorly
understood nevertheless, do have guidelines and rules and can only be
applied in specific circumstances

Nevertheless even though Gematria is TOO FLEXIBLE to be a rule **IF**
the Talmud had used it consistently then I would be hesitant to
criticize it.  It is for this reason that I brought the Malbim--the
Malbim showed that on those rare occasions that Gematria seems to be
used it actually is not.

Thus in summary my point is the following: (a) Gematria is TOO FLEXIBLE
to be a logical method of derivation--you can derive anything with
it(b)there are very few gematrias in the Talmud (c) furthermore there is
reason to suspect (a la Malbim) whether gematria was EVER used.

Based on the above I reopen my question whether we should explain a law
in the SA whose source is non talmudic on the basis of a a Gematria (the
reference is to eating nuts on Rosh Hashana--in previous threads we
tried to argue that the reasons were because of digestive discomfort)

Russell Jay Hendel;Phd ASA
Moderator Rashi is SImple


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 17:06:51 +0100
Subject: Re: Pictures Before the Wedding

David Cohen <bdcohen@...> writes:

>     I believe that the reasons which she gave are after the fact
>rationalizations for the non-Jewish customs. No one has sighted any
>Jewish sources for this practice, certainly not based on any Talmudic,
>Gaonic, or Rishonic source. If the reason given, based on kallah's
>having gone to mikveh, the solution would be much simpler-- don't allow
>them at be alone together.

Of course they mustn't be alone together. Yichud p'nuyo (a man being
alone with an unmarried woman) is unquestionably forbidden by Torah law.

Perets Mett


From: Shalom Krischer <shalom_krischer@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 11:01:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Upsherin

><<It does not seem to be a "time dependent positive commandment"?>>
> It is,  and women are exempt.

So I have been told, although I find the reasoning just a bit too subtle.

><<And even if it is, why haven't some women taken it on
>anyway (as has been done with many others)?>>
> Good question.  I would guess because of the prohibition
>of wearing man's clothing.

Now wait a minute.  It should be real easy to fabricate a 4 cornered
garment that is obviously NOT beged ish (a man's garment).  E.G. make it
out of lace, or pink, with lots of flowers.

Remember what the original post was about (what can we do to make girls
feel part of "it").  Over the years, women have taken on MANY mitzvot
aseh she'hazman grama...  Does not your wife and daughters use your 4
Minim on Sukkot (generic you; I do not know your personal status)?  Do
they not listen to the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah?  Why should this be any
different?  (PS I'm much more in the Chalah or even Candle Lighting
camp, but then again, Candle Lighting is ALSO a Mitzvat Aseh She'hazman



From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 10:51:41 -0700
Subject: Re: Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim

 From first-hand knowledge I can attest that meshulachim receive 40% to
80% of the money they collect.  While your Chofetz Chaim story is
compelling, it certainly doesn't apply to a person who chooses this form
of employment because of decisions he has made in his life (e.g.,
getting training in something else).

There is no excuse for this rudeness; despite the persona they wish to
present as poor guys, the hustling results in more paydirt for
themselves.  Excuse my cynicism but I do know some of these people
personally and this is how they operate.

From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 12:33:48 +0000
Subject: Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim

I think that Russel's point is well taken with individuals who
circumstances forced them to resort to personally asking for charity to
survive.  However, I think that a lot of people's frustration are with
professional fund raisers, or people who are not collecting for their
own survival who nevertheless do not conduct themselves with proper

H (201) 833-0801
F (208) 330-1402

From: Stephen Colman <stephen.colman@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 16:19:54 +0100
Subject: Re: Who lacks manners? A defense of Rude Meshulachim

Russell Jay Hendel certainly has raised an important point about the way
we react to Meshulochim. I can speak from both sides of the fence, as a
number of years ago, I was asked to go collecting around my own area for
both our local Kollel and a local private school - and did so for a
number of years with a colleague. I can certainly confirm - it is not an
easy job.

Two stories.

1) on collecting:

We were both well known in the kehillah, and of course this did make
door-to-door collecting a bit easier albeit embarrassing at
times. However, I still remember with shame one of our first calls on my
first day, when I was 'shown the ropes' by a senior member of the
kollel's committee. We called on an elderly gentleman who was a friend
of my parents. He was not well off, and offered us 2.00 (approx$3.00)
My colleague looked at the coins, and then gave them back to him with a
comment suggesting that he needed it more than us !!! I was so stunned
at this insult made to a person giving tzedokoh, by a man who is known
as a ben-torah, that I could not speak. After we left, I gave my
colleague the benefit of my feelings, and later on telephoned this
gentleman to apologise profusely.

2) on giving

A number of years ago, a Rosh Yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel came
collecting. He told me a short dvar Torah which concluded with the
thought that the Midrash states that after Moshiach comes (BvY), there
will be no more poor people in Israel. If that is the case, he said, it
will be difficult to keep the mitzvah of Tzedokoh, so it is vital to
'chaparein' - to give NOW whilst we still have the opportunity to do
so. An idea worth repeating - and I have kept it close to my heart ever

My own thought is that where else do we have the opportunity to keep a
biblical commandment so easily - simply by giving something away -
without even having to make any effort to leave our house. A Meshulach
is our shaliach for Tzedokoh and he even comes to our home to save us
the bother of looking for him.

Many years ago (at least 35), whilst still at school, one of my teachers
at an after-school shiur - and I still remember it clearly (for the
Londoners amongst us it was given by 'DJ' at '680' ) impressed on us the
importance of treating meshulochim with kindness and respect. Invite
them in to your house, offer a drink and some refreshment - and more
important, give them a smile and a warm welcome. I have tried to follow
this maxim ever since, and now try to let my children open the door to
Meshulochim so that they can practise this Chesed too.



End of Volume 33 Issue 17