Volume 33 Number 56
                 Produced: Tue Sep 12  6:33:57 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Reuben Rudman]
Halachikly pregnant
         [Louise Miller]
Hatafat Dam Brit
Saving the Non-Jew (6)
         [Dovid Oratz, Alan J. Wecker, David Charlap, Leah S. Gordon,
Mike Gerver, Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Shofar -- Source for Shofar of Ayil as a Hidur
         [Aaronson, Jeffrey B.]
Teenagers in Halacha
         [Chaim Tabasky]


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 11:35:11 -0400
Subject: Electricity

In MJ Vol. 33 #53, Steven White quoted Rabbi Broyde's summary of Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's (za'tzal) discussion of electricity.

A propos this discussion and to offer some background of Rav Shlomo
Zalman's acquaintance with electricity:

A number of years ago, when I was President of the AOJS (Association of
Orthodox Jewish Scientists), Prof. Zev Lev of the Hebrew University told
me that he used to study/learn with Rav Shlomo Zalman.  He explained the
fundamentals of electricity to Rav Auerbach and Rav Auerbach taught him
Gemara and halacha.

For those who don't know of him, Prof. Lev (when he was known as W. Low)
earned his PhD in Physics at Columbia University from the Nobel-prize
winning physicist I.I.Rabi and then went on to the Hebrew University
where he established a world-class laboratory in the Physics Department.
He later established the Jerusalem College of Technology, popularly
known as Machon Lev.  (The story is told that when I.I. Rabi was
informed that Dr. Low was moving to Jerusalem, in the 1950s, he said
that if he, Rabi, had known that Low was going to move to Israel, he
would not have taken him on as a student, because the state of physics
in Israel, at that time, was not up to world-class standards.)

The symbiotic relationship between Rav Shlomo Zalman and Prof. Low
seemed to work out, as the former's formulation of the halachic aspects
of electricity was based on a sound knowledge of electricity, and the
latter went on to write at least one sefer (on aspects of direct and
indirect actions) and many articles in halachic journals.


From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 23:28:42 -0700
Subject: Halachikly pregnant

There is one halacha I know of that perhaps relates to the custom of
keeping quiet about a pregnancy for 3 months.

A married couple is required to abstain at the time the woman's
menstrual period is expected.  I can't begin to explain all of the
rather complicated calculations in an e-mail, but the time of expected
period is set by a three-times experience of time difference, dates,
physical symptoms, etc.

So the simplest explanation I can think of for the three month waiting
period, is that it takes three months to set a new reality, that of the
non-appearance of menstruation.  After that, there is no requirement to
abstain barring any other complications.

Louise Miller
La Jolla (San Diego) CA


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 09:19:23 -0400
Subject: Hatafat Dam Brit

>Some years ago, there was a case of a frum young man.  He had grown up
>Jewish his whole life.  His father was born Jewish and his mother had
>converted.  As he got older, he became more frum and when he learned
>that his mother's conversion had not been Orthodox, he realized that he
>was not truly, halachically Jewish.  He had had a Brit Milah, but his
>mother was not halachically Jewish.  He knew immediately that he had to
>convert himself so he could continue in the Torah way.  He went through
>the whole conversion process.  Because he had already had a Brit Milah,
>he had to do hatafat dam, a symbolic "letting of blood".  If I recall
>correctly, which I may not, it was done with a simple finger prick.

A hatafat dam brit (and I speak from personal experience) can be carried
out with a lancet (such as those used by diabetics to prick their
fingers for checking blood sugar levels).  However, the target is not
the finger but the corona or just under the corona (part of the penis),
near the site at which the foreskin is cut. All that is needed is that
some blood is seen; the amount can be vanishingly small.

[In reading some of the other replies, I realize I may have been unclear
in my question on the statement "a simple finger prick" and there were
some replies concerning using a lancet, my questioning of the above was
in relation to the location, as I may have incorrectly assumed from the
material quoted above that what was being presented was that pricking a
finger of the hand was enough. Mod]

In the case presented, there may have actually been no need for hatafat
dam brit.  I recall that there is a dispute over the need for hatafat
dam brit if the original mila was done l'shem mila even if the subject
of the mila was not Jewish.


From: Dovid Oratz <dovid@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 13:43:36 +0200
Subject: Re: Saving the Non-Jew

In 33:52 Joseph Kaplan writes:
> What, however, should
> a Jew who follows halacha do in a situation where eivah does not apply;
> e.g., where no one else is around and the Jew could walk away from the
> situation and no one would ever know that it was the Jew's failure to
> save his fellow human being, also created b'tzelem elokim (in God's
> image), that resulted in the death of the non-Jew?  Does halacha demand
> that the Jew, in such a situation, must allow the non-Jew to die?  I
> wonder if there is anyone on this list who, placed in such a situation,
> would do nothing. I simply cannot believe that halacha requires such a
> result.

 With all due respect to the unquestioned scholarship of the members of
this list, I question whether any of us are qualified to answer such a
question. Certainly, if anyone could, such public forums are not the
place for objective discussion of the purely Halachic issues.

With that said, let me "play" with the question as an intellectual
exercise, having no connection with the real world, and with no sources
supporting either side: Supposing that on a scale from 0 - 100 the
sanctity of ANY human life in general were awarded 99 points, whereas
the sanctity of Shabbat were awarded 99.1 points. Adding specific Torah
requirements such as "vechai Bahem" (which applies only to Jews) might
then be sufficient to supersede the sanctity of Shabbat, but without
that special requirement...???

From: Alan J. Wecker <wecker@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 15:10:05 +0300
Subject: Saving the Non-Jew

One thesis, put forward by the former chief Rabbi of Mexico City, Rav
Yakov Avigdor, found in Contemorary Problems according to the Halacha
"Bayot Aktualeyot Lfee HaHalach Gedolei Hador meishivim La RA
S.Z. Shragai" by Mossad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem 1993, says that in the
past there was no halachic obligation to save a gentile on Shabbat (quid
pro quo a gentile would probably not have saved the jew) and that is
what the halacha was talking about. If someone felt like saving a
gentile then he certainly was allowed to do so, but he had no halachic
obligation. Today he poskens there is probably a halachic obligation for
various reasons (one of which is mutuality). A point he makes in his
argument is that if saving a gentile was forbbiden
d'oraitha, no one would have been allowed to permit it just because of

This issue also was discussed (two sides) in Meimad, volume 16, a few
years back.

Alan J. Wecker
IBM Research Laboratory in Haifa

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 2000 13:22:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Saving the Non-Jew

I would guess that, under this contrived situation, one's obligation
might actually be to do nothing.  However, this situation will never
actually occur, and the argument is, therefore, purely academic:

1: You can never be certain that nobody is watching.  It doesn't matter
   where you are - there's always the possibility of somebody else being

2: You can never be certain that your inaction will result in the
   person's death.  While this might argue in favor of inaction, it also
   argues in favor of action, because the victim himself will be a
   witness to your deliberate lack of action.  Especially if the victim
   becomes crippled, and lives to tell the world about what you did.

3: If you're so far away from civilization that you are certain that
   there are no witnesses, you're already violating Shabbat - you're not
   allowed to walk more than 2000 amot outside of a town on Shabbat.  So
   a sabbath-observant person would never find himself in this situation
   in the first place.  And one who is not that strictly observant would
   not, I hope, have a problem rescuing the non-Jew.

-- David

From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000 18:31:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Saving the Non-Jew

Sharon/Joseph Kaplan write of a theoretical case where one finds a
non-Jew dying and there is no chance of anyone finding out that you
walked away; do you do so?

Wouldn't there always be a doubt [due to intermarriage etc.]  that maybe
the person is Jewish?  This would seem to permit saving them.

--Leah S. Gordon

From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 15:03:31 +0200
Subject: Saving the Non-Jew

If the halacha did demand that the Jew, in such a situation, should
allow the non-Jew to die, then the halacha itself would give rise to
eivah, so I would think that the halacha cannot be written that
way. Even if no one would ever find out about a particular incident, how
can you prevent non-Jews from finding out what the halacha is?

This whole business, of using eivah as a reason to violate Shabbat in
order to save the life of a non-Jew, strikes me as a Jewish analog to
what activist U.S. Supreme Court justices do in interpreting the U.S.
Constitution. Chazal knew what the conclusion had to be, it was
unthinkable that Jews should not violate Shabbat to save the lives of
non-Jews. The only question was how to draw that conclusion. "Eivah"
might not be a very satisfying way to do it, but it works.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 10:32:30 EDT
Subject: Saving the Non-Jew

The concept of 'eivah' is universally applied and not 'ad hoc',
similarly to 'tikun olam,' 'darchei shalom' etc. Therefore, a Jew must
save a gentile even if he/she is in an island alone. If gentiles would
suspect that Jews behave 'nicely' only when they are seen -- then a
great 'eivah' will erupt.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Aaronson, Jeffrey B. <JAaronson@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 10:46:20 -0500
Subject: Shofar -- Source for Shofar of Ayil as a Hidur

Last year, at the start of services for the 2d day, one of my fellow
congregants asked me if I would blow at least one set of kolot on a
Shofar from an "ayil."  At the time, I said that as far as I knew the
Shofar I was using was from an ayil but that I would look into it for
next year.  The Shofar that I use is longish (1 1/2 twists), and after
some research, I discovered that it is likely from an Ibex.  I am
familiar with the halacha that all short shofer's are kosher except a
Kerri/cow's horn. Can anybody provide a source that says that it is
preferable to use a Shofar from an Ayil for at least some kolot (yes I
am aware of the importance of the ayil in the akedia and the importance
of the akedia to Rosh Ha Shanna--but I am looking to see if there is
credible source for the request) or if this is shtuss ?

Also, while at a local bookstore, I saw a number of shofrot that had a
sticker saying it was a shofar from an "ayil" including suprisingly a
number of the longer and longest shofort. Can anyone explain this?


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabaskc@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 15:50:43 +0200
Subject: Teenagers in Halacha

Russell Hendell wrote:

"Indeed, according to my understanding halacha treats adults and
teenagers the same with only 1 or 2 exceptions.  Jewish halachah does
not know of any category of "teenagehood" that would allow us to
classify a teenager as more than a child but less than an adult".

The 1 or 2 exceptions seem to prove the point. 

1) Though a Jew assumes legal responsibility for actions at Bar (or Bat)
Mitzvah, this applies to terrestrial justice. The heavenly court
punishes only from the age of 20.

2) Minors under 20 are not included in the census, presumably since they
will not serve in the army.  The census may mean more than just army
service, though, and refer to public responsibility, the assumption of
being involved in communal affairs ("osek b'tzorchai tzibbur") not only
on a menial level. I realize that kings were anointed as minors, but
Yoshiyahu, for one, seems to have sat around looking things over until
he was around 27 letting the technocrats run things. This is not
prescriptive of course but describes a social reality.

The distinction between Bet Din shel Matta (12/13 yrs old for
responsibility) and Beit din shel Ma'ala (20 yrs. old) I believe is
based on two criteria of establishing culpability. One is knowing the
difference between right from wrong. A teenager knows it is wrong to
steal, to desecrate the Sabbath etc. as much as an adult. Maybe there is
an assumption that until the age of 12/13 a child might not know all
practical halacha. Certainly a 14 year old can get the rules of muktsa
as well as a 30 year old. But the spiritual maturity to overcome peer
pressure, drives, lack of experience; the development of courage and
integrity cannot be assumed. The human court is not expected to analyze
motives and character, but the heavenly court does.

With regards to Aliyah, since I assume that the commitment to this
mitzvah and the ability to fulfill it meaningfully is a valid hallachic
consideration (see Rambam Melachim 5;10-12 who in an uncharacteristic
way places emotional connection to the land before the actual statement
of the requirement to live in Eretz Yisroel) the issue of whether a
teenager is able to make such a decision is relevant.

Russell further wrote:
"The only possibility is that my uncle was not emotionally ready----but
again I question whether Jewish law allows such assessments."

I think in some cases Jewish law certainly does.



End of Volume 33 Issue 56