Volume 33 Number 35
                 Produced: Thu Aug 31 20:44:59 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia: tk/tcl programmer assistance for Kosher database
         [Avi Feldblum]
Airplane Sunset/Sunrise
         [Yisrael Medad]
         [Shaya Potter]
Female Jewish Slave
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Light Sticks on Shabbos
         [Sheldon Meth]
Maimonidees Attitude towards Sacrifices
         [Russell Hendel]
Prayer with non-Jews
         [Steve Ganot]
Self-cleaning ovens
When is shkiah?
         [Jack Gross]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 20:26:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia: tk/tcl programmer assistance for Kosher database

As many of you many know, the Shamash Kosher Restaurant database was
originally a project of a number of people from mail-jewish. Over the
years, the database has grown, as well as the number of people using it.
The time has come for a major overhaul of the database. One of the Shamash
technical staff members has begun the architecture review, and the
proposal is to do the database using Tk/Tcl. Eventually, if we are able to
get an Oracle back-end for Shamash, we will use that as the DB engine, for
now the idea is to use a number of existing tcl tools.

What we need are a few individuals who have good Tk/Tcl programming
experiance that can offer some pro-bono (that means we have no funds)
programming time to help support this effort. Our Shamash staff member
will co-ordinate the activities, and you will be working directly with
him. If you are able and willing to help with this project, please let me
know as soon as possible. Thanks to all in advance, and with your help,
the Shamash Kosher Restaurant database will be better than ever!

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 00:40:52 +0300
Subject: Airplane Sunset/Sunrise

Re: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
responding to <Andy.Goldfinger@...>  which sunset is used to
determine the end of a fast day if you are flying in an airplane.

>I would simply answer "Replace the airplane by a mountain" Clearly in a
>mountain you go by the sunset AT THAT ALTITUDE. The same would be true
>in a plane.

I was going the other way (from the USA to EY) on the eve of Yud-Zayin
B' Tammuz this year (returning from Camp David, but that's another
story) and my Rav of Shiloh told me I could eat until I could discern
the beginning of daylight.


From: Shaya Potter <spotter@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 21:22:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Electricity

Lawrence Kaplan <lkapla@...> writes:

> Regarding electricity: I remember reading some time ago a lengthy
> responsum in English on the subject by the noted mathematician and
> talmudic scholar Rabbi Dr.Shlomo Sternberg of Harvard which he wrote in
> connection with the question as to whether it is permitted to use
> magnetic cards to open doors on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The question was
> posed to him by the Harvard administration which wishd to install this
> system in its dorms, and, at the same time, wished to respect the
> religious sensibilities of its halakhically observant students.

When I visited harvard as a prospective student in the fall of 96, I was
told that all the shomer shabbos students requested "key (aka, a
"normal" key) accesible dorms", so that they wouldn't have to swipe the
electronic cards.

shaya potter


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 15:53:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Female Jewish Slave

>Ben Tzion Katz wrote:
>>IMHO Moshe has hit the nail on the head with his last statement.
>>If one follow's the Rambam's approach, the Torah can be seen le-havdil
>>as a kind of programmed text, at least in some of its legislation.
>>This, of course, is most clearly seen with his explanation of scarifices
>>as a means necessary to wean the Israelites from idolatry.  The
>>implication is that if the Torah were given today, some of the
>>legislation might/would be different.
>According to what I know, the Rambam is basically a da'as yachid on this
>issue, and most, if not all, other Rishonim blast him for his theory on

	First of all, calling the Rambam a daas yachid is like calling,
le-havdil, Aristotle a daas yachid.  Sure there are many who disagree,
but his is a towering intellect that must be dealt with.  In his time
Rambam was the acknowledged leader of at least the entire Sephardi
Jewish world.

	Second, it is an overstatement to say that "most, if not all,
other Rishonim blast him for his theory of korbanot".  Many
philosophically minded gedolim of his generation and subsequent
generations (e.g., Ibn Tibbon) did agree with many aspects of his
philosophy, such as the allegorical interpretation of the Bible (leading
the Rashba to ban allegosrical interpretations of Scripture in 1305, a
ban that was largely ignored).  One interesting comment re Rambam's
opinion of korbanot can be found in Radak's commentary to Jeremiah 7:22,
where Yirmiyahu seems to say that the Almighty never commanded the
Children of Israel when they left Egypt to bring sacrifices (a free
translation of a difficult verse).  Kimhi comments that perhaps this
verse is a proof that Rambam is correct.

>Moreover, a strong case can be made that this shitta, put
>forth in the Moreh Nevuchim, is not the Rambam's true opinion on the
>subject, because although he says there that korbonos will be abolished,
>he poskins in the Yad that they will be reestablished. 

	This is not exactly correct.  Rambam never says korbanot will be
abolished in the Guide.  In the Yad, he codifies all of the halachiot,
including korbanot, presumably because he feels that they are
everlasting laws; I don't believe he ever specifically talks about their

>I've heard it said that the Rambam said what he did in the Moreh
>because of the audience he was addressing - secularized, "cultured"
>Jews so that they could feel comfortable returning to observance, and
>once returned, they'd see the emes for themselves. Moreover, isn't the
>Torah immutable and unchangable? The Rambam himself says so in the 13
>Principles - so it's difficult to say that it would be different if
>given now, even according to him...

	First of all, if one actualyy reads Rambam's introduction to the
Guide, he is speaking to religious Jews.  Second, Rambam wrote the Guide
towards the end of his life, arguing (albeit not inconclusively) that
this book represents more of his "final opinion" than what he had
written earlier.  Third, and most importantly, Rambam was wrestling with
metaphysical issues even as a young man.  In his mishna commentary
(published when he was 33) he includes long philosophical digressions in
his Introduction to Perek Chelek and in his Shmoneh Perakim.  He begins
the Yad (written about ten years later) with 4 philosophical chapters.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226


From: Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 11:04:11 -0400
Subject: Light Sticks on Shabbos

This is obviously one for your LOR.  Some considerations: (1) I don't
think there is any problem with breaking the glass vials, as this is
totally destructive, and you're not making a new vessel from the shards;
(2) The fluorescent light is colored, so there might be a consideration
of the Melachah of tzoveya [coloring]; (3) This may fall into the
category of Uvda D'Chol [a weekday activity].


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 07:45:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: Maimonidees Attitude towards Sacrifices

Eli Linas in v33n20 states regarding Korbanoth (Sacrifices)

>>I've heard it said that the Rambam said what he did in the Moreh
because of the audience he was addressing - secularized, "cultured" Jews
so that they could feel comfortable returning to observance, and once
returned, they'd see the emes for themselves. Moreover, isn't the Torah

Just the set the record straight I wrote an article "Maimonidees
Attitude Towards Sacrifices" (Tradition 1973)(Copies available to anyone
who sends me their real address) I show halachic sources that

1) Maimonidees(and others) felt there was a halachic **obligation** to
lie (or white lie) if (a) the lie would prevent people from going astray
(b) the people dealt with were ignorant and vulnerable (c) telling them
the truth would not help

2) I then show that Maimonidees believed that (a)"even the Rabbinic
leaders were ignorant of sacrifices (Intro to Commentary on Kodashim)",
(b) that the Jewish people suffered from attacks by rationalists on the
sacrifice laws (Laws of Temple Descecration--Last Chapter Law)

Hence Maimonidees believed he was *obligated* to mislead people in the

3) I further show (from actual language) that the controversy between
Ramban and Rambam was "whether people would believe the symbolic meaning
of sacrifices". (Ramban held that this was a 'pleasant commandment' and
there was no need to lie)

4) This topic has been discussed on Torah Forum. I pointed out there
that besides the issue of the "immutability of the Torah" there is AN
EQUALLY SERIOUS issue of "Learning". It is a primary Biblical
commandment to learn. **If** I believed that sacrifices were concessions
to temporary conditions then there is no reason why I should learn
them. On the other hand if sacrifices have intrinsic value (eg teaching
Psychological methods as Rav Hirsch suggested) then indeed I should
spend many hours studying them

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Dept of Math Towson Univ
Moderator Rashi is SImple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com        NEW NU IMPROVED


From: Steve Ganot <Steve_Ganot@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 01:46:25 +0300
Subject: Prayer with non-Jews

Does anyone know of halacha dealing specifically with the question of
praying together with or alongside (non-idol-worshipping) non-Jews?

I am thinking about various different scenarios, for example:

1) Non-Jews attending specifically Jewish prayer services. Is there any
problem with inviting a non-Jew to a Bar Mitzvah celebration (I mean
shul -- not a party), for example? Common practice suggests that this is
not a problem, but are there any halachic issues one should be aware of
(aside from issues of "decorum", such as that all men should cover their

2) Is there any reason why the non-Jew should refrain from praying along
with the congregation, where that is possible (for example, if he or she
understands the language of the prayer)?

3) Is it improper for non-Jews and Jews to pray alongside one another,
each according to his or her own tradition (assuming that the non-Jewish
prayer is not specifically prohibited, such as idol worship)?

4) Is it improper for a non-Jew to pray in a synagogue according to his
or her own (non-Jewish) tradition, assuming that this does not involve
any specifically prohibited practice such as idol worship and that it
does not disturb the Jewish prayer? I am thinking, for example, of
someone quietly saying a non-Jewish prayer while attending shul (such as
for a Bar Mitzvah), or even a Muslim praying with all the traditional
bows and other motions -- either in private or when the congregation is
present and davenning.

5) In respect to the question of Jews praying with or alongside
non-Jews, does it matter whether this takes place in or outside of a

6) Is there any problem formulating and participating in ecumenical (as
opposed to specifically and traditionally Jewish) prayers together with

7) Is it forbidden to pray in a mosque? (I understand that it is
Jewishly acceptable -- what is the source? -- but that Muslims object to
non-Muslim prayer in a mosque.) If this is allowed, what about other
clearly and unambiguously monotheistic houses of worship which were not
specifically addressed by the rishonim, such as those of the Druze or
Bahais? Can we make an analogy from the heter on prayer in a mosque
(assuming there is one)?  Again, in these cases I don't think the
non-Jews would allow it, but theoretically is there any halachic problem
with it?

- Steve Ganot


From: Rach <irises@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 09:01:58 -0400
Subject: Self-cleaning ovens

Speaking of Kashering ovens, I have a brand-new self-cleaning oven.  I
spilled something or other so I ran it through its cleaning cycle.

It takes approximately 4 hours, and the oven literally burns off
anything stuck to the walls or grill.  As I watched, the piece of eye
roast that spilled caught fire and was literally immolated at the bottom
of the oven throughout the cleaning process.

Would this count as re-kashering my oven?  I'd love to just hit a button
and re-kasher my oven for Pesach!

[As always, CLOR, but my LOR (and I) are all for self-cleaning ovens,
because that is basically just what I did when I had one, hit the button
and went to sleep. Mod.]



From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: 29 Aug 00 13:42:35 EDT
Subject: Re: When is shkiah?

Does the Rav's S.A. give a citation to support his tying shkia to Harim
Gevohim Sheb'E.I.?  I believe there is evidence to the contrary:

The Gemara quotes two sets of simanim for the beginning and and of bain
hashmashos (legal twilight) -- one based on appearance of stars
(relating to the familiar phrase "Tzais HaCochavim", which appears in
Nechemia as the sign of nightfall), the other on coloration in the sky.

(Use of twin formulations is not surprising -- on a cloudless evening,
'emergence' of the stars is ascertainable; on a clouded evening, an
alternate method is needed, and provided.)

As I understand it, the Gemara's statement that twilight starts when

"Hichsif tachton" (the lower [clouds] turn gray)

and ends when 

"Hichsif elyon v'hashva l'tachton" (the upper [clouds] turn as gray as the

indicates that shkiyah is dependent strictly on local, observable
features -- not on when sunset would be observed by a hypothetical
observer at some standard elevation -- and moreover that the relevant
elevation may vary from day to day.

That's a bit startling, but not absurd -- the safek of bain hashemashos
(the legal doubt whether it is day or night during the twilight period)
is: what is the point at which the sun's dominant effect ("memsheles
hayom") has ceased; the gemara may well be stating that, as long as all
locally visible clouds are bathed in sunlight, it's still day, even
though the earthbound observer is already in the shadow.


End of Volume 33 Issue 35