Volume 34 Number 11
                 Produced: Mon Jan 15  4:53:31 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The 10 Commandments as a Classification Scheme
         [Russell Hendel]
Automatic, Electronically Operated Devices
         [Steve White]
Happiness and Sadness in Adar and Av
         [Daniel Katsman]
Hunger strike
         [Moshe Goldberg]
January 1st and "Watch Night"
         [Carl Singer]
"Mad Cow Disease" and Kosher
         [Chanie ]
Wild About Harry (3)
         [Susan Shapiro, Aliza Fischman, Janet Rosenbaum]
Women and Gemara
         [Alexis Rosoff]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:18:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: The 10 Commandments as a Classification Scheme

Norm Broner asks in mjv33n96

>>A number of Mephorshim state that all the Mitzvot are
>>contained in the Aseret Hadibrot in some way or form.
>>I am looking for a reference to the Mitzva of Tefillin
>>in the Aseret Hadibrot.  I was wondering if
>>anyone can point me to some sources?

I was privileged to learn with the Rav, Rabbi Dr Joseph Baer
Soloveitchick for 7 years, during which time I heard his explanation
of many difficult Agaddic passages.

The Rav explained that the dictum >The whole Torah is contained in
the 10 commandments< is simply translated as >The 10 commandments
are CHAPTER HEADINGS which can be used to classify the other 613
commandments<. This all that is meant by the phrase. The Rav
opposed using gematrias and other >hidden methods< to explain this dictum.

So quite simply: The 1st commandment is >I am the Lord thy God< and it
includes all commandments that are classified as >Acknowledging God<
But As we say every morning, the Tefilin is the >engagement ring< between
God and Israel and is our way of affirming the seriousness (& uniqueness)
of our relationship. Hence tefillin are classified under the 1st Dibra

Russell Jay Hendel; PHd ASA
Dept of Math; Towson University
Moderator Rashi is Simple


From: Steve White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 10:37:51 EST
Subject: Automatic, Electronically Operated Devices

All the talk about electric eyes and automatically controlled, lights,
toilets, doors and the like has missed an important issue, IMHO.  Where
the appliance concerned is an incandescent light (and certain other
things), the melacha being done is potentially d'oraita (Torah) on its
surface.  Issues like its not being done in a normal fashion, not done
intentionally, not done for one's own need, and so forth then come into
play against that backdrop.

In contrast, the melachas involved in running an automatic toilet or
sink (leaving hot water turned off, say) are, on their surface,
d'Rabbanan (Rabbinical) according to most opinions.  And often only the
controller triggers melacha, not the appliance itself.  (For example,
there is no melacha in flushing a toilet per se.)  Again, the same
issues as above come into play, but on a very different backdrop,
allowing for the possibility of different psak halacha in the two cases
under certain circumstances.

Steven White


From: Daniel Katsman <hannahpt@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 22:25:54 +0200
Subject: Happiness and Sadness in Adar and Av

Mordechai wrote:

>Although there
> may be such a common misconception that aveilus ('mourning') goes
> together with sadness, and therefore since there is aveilus on 9 Av,
> there should be sadness too (and perhaps to a lesser degree in the
> beginning of Av, etc.), I believe it is a mistake. Where is it stated
> that an aveil ('mourner') must be sad? On the contrary, there is a
> comment of Rashi in Maseches Sukkah (25a, s.v. 'tirda dirishus') that
> says that an aveil (mourner) is not obligated to pain himself - and that
> the laws of aveilus are only to show respect for the niftar (departed)

Back in 1978, a classmate in YU related how one night he intercepted Rav
Soloveitchik as the latter was going to maariv and asked him a question
about something he had written.  The reported conversation, if I haven't
forgotten too much, went something like this:

Rav Soloveitchik: "Your objection is that since emotions are 'true'
experiences beyond your control, how can halakha dictate happiness or
sadness in a given situation?  Right?"

Friend:  "Right."

Rav Soloveitchik: "Wrong.  The purpose of the halakha is to encourage
those emotions which are good, and to discourage those that are bad.
Come, let's daven maariv."

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva


From: Moshe Goldberg <mgold@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 16:25:12 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Hunger strike

A hunger strike is now in progress in Jerusalem to protest that the
government is continuing negotiations even though the Prime Minister has
quit and has no majority in the Knesset. The strikers drink fruit juice
and hot drinks (coffee, tea) but do not eat any solid food, except
during Shabbat, when it is forbidden to fast. They have doctors among
them who provide medical guidance when needed.

Can anybody on the list provide sources referring to whether it is
permitted to do such a strike, in view of the prohibition of inflicting
harm on one's body? Has this question ever been discussed from the
halachic point of view?

  Moshe Goldberg -- <mgold@...>


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 09:48:44 EST
Subject: Re: January 1st and "Watch Night"

<< In many Protestant groups there is a "Watch Night" solomn service at the
 church on New Year's Eve.  From what I gather, it is a service of
 reflection over the past year and resolution to do better in the coming
 year.  In addition, we do have the New Year's resolutions so often
 laughed at.  I would not be surprised to find that the Watch Night
 service was in some ways modelled on Rosh Hashanah. >>

I don't have any materials in front of me, only my ever-faulty memory --
but to Christians Jan 1 is the date of the Bris for someone born on
December 25th.  I believe that is the link for goings on on the eve of
Jan 1st.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Chanie  <crew-esq@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 11:59:59 -0500
Subject: "Mad Cow Disease" and Kosher

There have been a number of European cases of new variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD), more colorfully known as Mad Cow
Disease because scientists suspect that it is contracted by eating
infected meat. The basic background is that there are certain types of
brain-wasting diseases, prevalent in animals, which appear to have
jumped the species barrier to infect humans. I recall hearing (I believe
it was on a tape by Dayan Dunner of England) that this shouldn't be an
issue for Kosher consumers because the main way animal brain matter ends
up in the meat (muscle) is due to slaughter methods that basically
involve blasting the animal's brains out (sorry if I've grossed anyone
out!), but that doesn't happen in shechita. Technically speaking, animal
brain matter can also end up in the muscle because animal feed includes
ground up carcasses.

Anyone have any comments about this subject?



From: Susan Shapiro <SShap23859@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 10:09:29 EST
Subject: Wild About Harry

      I don't think that Harry Potter is good for the Jews.  My
      understanding is that HP is some sort of wizard or witch, and that
      he is the hero of these books.

This book is 100% pure FANTASY and anyone who sees more into it is not
correct.  I am not clued up about the witchcraft that the Torah speaks
about, but don't think it is the kind that this FANTASY series goes

There is a big plus in reading these books in that children who were
reluctant to read before are reading them, and they are very well
written.  In my family, my children KNOW its fantasy.

There is a lot of discussions about the morals, good vs evil, etc, that
may not be 100% Torahdik, if you choose to look more into it than it is
meant to be.  We have discussed it at our home, and the children
appreciate the FANTASY level of the books.

Thank you
Susan Shapiro, S. Diego -
Mom of 7 Harry Potter Fans (8 if you count me!)

From: Aliza Fischman <fisch.chips@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 10:47:23 -0500
Subject: Re: Wild About Harry

I have read all 4 Harry Potter books and I would like to respectfully
defend them.

* J.K. Rowling has written, marketed, publicized, and sold her books as
FICTION.  There is nothing in there that is TRUE witchcraft.

* Ms. Rowling has publicized in many interviews, both written and
televised that she made up every single one of the "spells/ hexes" that
are in her books.  Nobody can use these books as a "Witchcraft and
Wizardry for Dummies" replacement.

* It seems from Mr. Nugiel's well intentioned remarks that he has never
read them himself.  If he had I believe that he might be less worried
than he currently is.  As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I
have read all four books.  (I just finished the last one this past
Friday.)  You can easily see that many of the requirement for performing
the magic in the book purely by what is necessary to do them.  I don't
think any of us can find a unicorn's hair or a phoenix's feather to put
in our "magic" wands.

* Many of the fictitious names of "magical creatures" have come from
actual rare flowers.  All of the "spells" have obvious Latin
roots. ("Lumos" makes the wand light up, etc.)

* Harry has a lot of other sides to him aside from just being a wizard.
He has literally fought evil face to face and won.  You can learn a lot
about standing up to your Yetzer Hara (Evil inclination) from what Harry
has gone through.  He can also teach anybody about persistence,
patience, judging people favorably, how to be a true friend, dealing
with hard times, and standing up for what you believe is right.

* It also shows that people who have a different lifestyle to ours can
also be good people, even if their beliefs or ways of life are different
from ours and not for us.  This is certainly a good lesson to teach our
children.  Jewish history would be very different if more nations had
taught this to their children.

* Many children who before were totally turned off by reading have now
become engrossed in the Harry Potter books and then gone on to read many
other quality books after discovering the wonder that can be found in
books.  I have seen this proven true among my own students.  I have also
seen it in myself.  I used to LOVE reading for pleasure.  Once I got
into college, I had less time for it.  I missed it, but I never really
did anything about it.  After a college career that took much longer
than most (8 years) I had "fallen out of the habit" of reading for fun.
Add to this that during that time I got engaged, married, had my first
child (now two plus years old), was working part time and in school full
time (taking 15 - 18 credits a semester).  You can imagine that time was
a premium resource.  Almost immediately after I finished my last class,
I first book I bought was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Volume
1 of the series).  I had heard so much about it (both pro and con) and
wanted to see for myself.  I was, and am, hooked and it has gotten me
right back into the swing of reading for pleasure now that I have
(relatively) more time.  Baruch Hashem I will soon have less time as I
am B'Ezrat Hashem [with G-d's help] moving to a house in a week and a
half, and am expecting my second child right between Purim and Pesach.
However, now that Harry Potter has gotten me into reading for pleasure
again I intend to continue.  Can reading good books ever be bad?  (Note:
I said "good books" not trashy novels.)

Be well,
Aliza Fischman
(201) 833-0801

From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 20:12:43 +0200
Subject: Wild About Harry

I don't think that the message of the Harry Potter books is necessarily
about witchcraft, but rather a general metaphor for children's feelings
about themselves and how they fit into society.  Children's common
obsessions such as magic and secret fantasy worlds all literalize the
fact that behind the most ordinary person is something special, secret,
and powerful.

Contrary to some adults' romantic memories, childhood is hard.  Children
have little control over their lives and they feel (or are) intimidated
by those older and bigger than they are.  It is empowering for them to
fantasize that there is actually something special about them --- which
is true.

In any case, the whole framing story of these type of books --- someone
raised in another family without knowledge of his special group
membership --- is based on this week's parsha (Shmot.)

True, the whole magical theme is not so good, but one who allows their
children to read these books should talk about what magic means in their
world, etc.



From: Alexis Rosoff <alexis1@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 18:59:51 -0500
Subject: Women and Gemara

I'm interested in knowing about how the ban on teaching women Gemara was
instituted. I know about the verse in the Mishna where it says teaching
women Torah is like teaching them foolishness, but how did this get
interpreted as meaning Gemara specifically, or in some cases all of
Talmud? (And, for that matter, why have I heard of some rabbis
sanctioning Mishna but not Gemara?)

And why was this changed in recent years by more `modern' Orthodox
groups?  Aside from societal change, what was the halachic

I'd actually like to hear from both sides on this--it's just something
that interests me.



End of Volume 34 Issue 11