Volume 34 Number 44
                 Produced: Fri May 11  9:14:07 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Electric shavers
         [Chaim Mateh]
Electronic Alarm Systems
         [I. Balbin]
Hallel in Maariv on Pesach
         [Ari Kahn]
Lag B'Omer
         [Ephraim Sachs]
New Book of Interest
         [Yosef Blau]
Source for how to tie tzitzis
         [Robert Klein]
Yom Tov Sheini
         [David Cohen]
Yom Tov Sheni in Israel for Visitors
         [Bob Werman]


From: Chaim Mateh <chaim-m@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 12:51:10 +0300
Subject: Electric shavers

In vol 34 #40, Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote:

<<Before I bought a shaver some years ago I did a little research on
just this issue and came across a tshuva attributed to Rav Moshe
Feinstein, ZT"L. In the story as transmitted, someone brought Rav Moshe
a shaver for his approval. He was said to ask just one question: Can the
beard be cut by placing the cutters directly on the skin, that is, with
the screen removed?  Clearly the answer was no, so Rav Moshe approved
the shaver. This would seem to correspond to option 3 above [Others
permit almost all electric shavers that have 2 parts.].  It's possible I
came across this story in the MJ archives. My memory may be faulty, but
it sounds typical of the sharply sensible decisions for which Rav Moshe
was famous.>>

I could not find any Reb Moshe tshuvos (using the Yad Moshe index book)
on shavers, razors, electric shaver, or anything similar.  This leads me
to believe that there isn't any tshuva by Reb Moshe on shavers in
general or the specific issue you mention.  Reb Moshe was very
scrupulous (makpid) to put his tshuvos to writing, to the point that
whatever was not put into Igros Moshe can be considered not authorized
by him.  One proof of this is the fact that all the questions/answers by
Reb Moshe that were printed at the back of Rav Shimon Eider's Hilchos
Shabbos sefer, were reprinted in their entirety (word for word) as one
tshuva in one of the Igros Moshe volumes.

If you could tell me the exact source for Reb Moshe's view on electric
shavers, I'd appreciate it.

Kol Tuv,


From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 09:06:38 +1000
Subject: Electronic Alarm Systems

Commonly, people have alarm systems which are activated by movement or
the like and detected by sensors around the house. These sensors often
activate a (red) diode when disturbed.  In addition, a base station,
which records zone movement may also activate a diode to indicate
someone in the zone.  Of course, all this occurs even though the alarm
is not "armed".

There is an issue on Shabbos of using such alarms. Some people have them
linked up to their Shabbos clock so that they are totally disabled.
This is often a non-trivial exercise because battery back up must also
be over-ridden. It sometimes also causes problems because the battery
back up system often needs power to ensure the battery is maintained.

The issue of course is that if you move in front of such an alarm
system, this causes the sensor mechanism to detect your presence and
note this presence by activating the diode.  The diode itself, whilst
probably not a "light" Mideorayso (does not produce heat) would in the
least involve a Rabbinic prohibition if it were activated.

Some people put covers over their sensors to avoid this problem.  They
need to remember to do this (and often get up on a ladder) from Shabbos
to Shabbos. It is easily forgotten.

Increasingly, alarm systems which are siren based, are being phased out.
This is happening because Police don't bother when an alarm goes
off. There are too many false alarms. Some insurance companies are now
insisting on monitored alarm systems, where the system rings out to a
company rather than trigger a siren. Other systems also include smoke
detectors which are also linked to the monitored system.

Using alarm systems, be they monitored or otherwise would appear to be
problematic unless they are disabled, or are convenient enough to allow
covering of the sensors and disabling of diodes at the control panel.

At first glance, it would appear that this is a case of Psik Reisha D'Lo
Nicha Lei---a resultant unintended secondary action which the
householder would rather not occur. Unlike a a movement activated
external light which one is not aware of, where it could be argued that
an activation of such a light is not a Psik Reisha, but rather Misasek
(a cause and effect situation where the person was not even aware that
they were in a situation that might even cause a Melocho to occur) the
householder does know about their alarm system, and is aware that
sensors can activate. The Torah forbids "Meleches Machsheves", which can
be loosely translated as premeditated halacha defined work.  It can be
argued that even though this is an example of Psik Reisha D'Lo Nicha Lei
involving an Issur DeRabonnon (unless one considers the opinion of the
Chazon Ish on Boneh, and thereby this might be the "psuedo-completion"
of a circuit and an Issur De-orayso) and would therefore be forbidden on

There is also the ingredient of Gromo (cause) as opposed to direct
effect. It could be argued that the person who causes the sensor to go
off, triggers a set of events which eventually leads to the diode going
off. I use the word eventually in a non temporal sense because the time
lag is very short.

One issue that needs to be considered with modern alarm systems is that
they have special logic which attempts to preserve the battery life on
sensors. Some sensors are not hard wired to the base station any longer.
They work in a wireless framework. In order to save the battery, the
light on the sensor is only activated _if_ there hasn't been a previous
disturbance in the last N minutes, where N may be 3. One might argue
that this then implies that there is no longer a Psik Reisha because
there is a Sofek (doubt) as to whether the person who passes in front of
the sensor is the first one to do so in the N minute time frame or not.
If they are not, they don't set off the diode. If they are, they do.  It
is tempting to consider then that such a system might be better
halachically. The problem is that it might actually transform the
situation into a Sofek Psik Reisha, a questionable cause and effect
situation. The Rishonim and Achronim argue about a Sofek Psik Reisha
with some opinions holding that it is _worse_ than a Psik Reisha and
should now be considered a simple Sofek Melocho (Rabbinic or otherwise).

A colleague informed me of an interesting Tshuvo in Shevet Halevi,
Chelek Tes, Orach Chaim, which would seem to be lenient for such
situations in general. I have seen the Tshuva and re-read it, and find
it hard to be convinced by the reasoning. In particular, I have keep
comparing it to the example of walking on grass, when you know that the
grass is the type that _will_ be uprooted as you walk on it. If you do
this on a weekly basis it's hard to claim that you didn't know this
would happen.

I wonder if others have seen Tshuvos and can explain the reasoning, or
know of explicit Piskei din on this topic (written preferably), and what
the logic of the decision was.


From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 11:14:56 +0200
Subject: RE: Hallel in Maariv on Pesach

Regarding the recitation of Hallel in Shul on Pesach eve, indeed there
are various customs, and the dominant Ashknazik custom indeed seems not
to say it.  When I moved to Israel I found the custom even among
Askinazim was to say the Hallel in Shul after Maariv. My initial
assumption was that the origin of this Hallel must be the Hallel said
with the bringing or eating of the korban pesach. However the issue is a
bit more complicated.

It is true that when the korban was brought there was a Hallel said (see
Pesachim 64a). It is unclear who said this Hallel, the Levites (Tosfot
Pesachim, Rambam) or the Israelites (Rashi Pesachim, Sukah 54b See
Tosfot Brachot 14a), or both (see Rav Yitzchak Zeev Soloveitchik
Chiddishim on the Rambam, this position was actually verified by an eye
witness which can be found in the siddur of Rav Yakov Emden, the
non-Jewish testimony did not impress the Brisker Rov see comments at the
end of the Brisker Haggadah).  But the timing here is crucial this
hallel was said before night fall, sometime in the afternoon while the
korban was being brought, why would this have any impact on a Hallel
said in shul at night after Maariv?

An interesting aside, there are people who bake matzah in the afternoon,
among Chasidim this is a well known practice, (See Shulchan Uruch
section 458:1, and Mishna Brurah) just as the eating of the matzah (the
second time, after dinner) is a remembrance for the korban peasch,
therefore by extension baking this matzah, specifically in the
afternoon, takes the place of the bringing of the korban peasch. The
Arizal said to say Hallel with a bracha when baking erev Pesach in the
afternoon. (See siddur of the Arizal, see Piski Teshuvot section 458
footnote 4, he says the custom of the bracha was the custom of the
Chernobel Chassidic dynasty.

As to the hallel in shul, Shulchan Uruch section 487:4, the Mechaber
says that hallel is said in shul, while the Rama says that is not
Askenazik custom, that psak is confirmed by the Mishna Brurah. On the
other hand this Hallel has a source in Misechet Sofrim 20:9, the Prisha
explains, in order that the Hallel be said responsibly (Vnromimah shmo
yachdav), something which may not happen at home.  The Tur section 473
says the reason for the Hallel in shul is to avoid an obligation later
during the seder (see Kaf Hachaim and shulachan Uruch Harav) to
guarantee the hallel is said prior to (halachik) midnight. We know the
Afikoman (and Korban Pesach was) is eaten prior to Chatzot. See Shulchan
Uruch section 473:1, there is a parenthetical comment that the hallel
too should be said prior to Chatzot. If that is the case then this
Hallel is the one which was said with the eating of the Korban, hence
the before Chatzot rule (goal see Mishna Brurah). According to the Tur,
the Hallel said in Shul is connected with the Halllel which should be
said with the eating.  The Arizal see Shar Kavanot page 81b, Pri Etz
Chaim shar 21, explains that on other holidays we need to build up to a
high enough level to say the Hallel while on Pesach the higher level is
immediately achieved, hence the Hallel said.  The Gra ruled that this
Hallel is said as did the Sfardim as did the Chassidm, hence in Israel
(where the original yishuv - religious community constituted Gra
followers Chassidm and Sfradim) it is (universally, so says Rav
Tuchachinsky in his luach) said. While in the Diaspora primarily those
Ashkinazim who follow the Gra say the Hallel in Shul.

Ari Kahn


From: Ephraim Sachs <ephi@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 15:17:08 +0200
Subject: Lag B'Omer

It is commonly known that Lag B'Omer is related to Bar Kochva's
(temporary) victories over the Romans. Supposedly, the bonfires are in
remembrance of the victory bonfires of BK's men. However, I do not know
where this comes from. Does anyone know of the source for this, either
Halachic or historical?

Ephraim Sachs


From: Yosef Blau <y.blau@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001 16:20:30 +0000
Subject: New Book of Interest

I want everyone to be aware of "Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah," a
biography of HaRav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, that is being published by
Ktav. Since my wife, Rivkah Blau, is the author, let me quote the
evaluations of others:

"As the story of American Jewry is being written in books and in the
daily lives of millions of American Jews, there are heroic figures who
stand out and inspire. One of those personalities is Rabbi Pinchas M.
Teitz. He was a gifted, multi-talented, enormously energetic person.
Fearless and innovative he led the way for the revitalization of Torah
life in America at a time when everything Jewish seemed to be slipping
away in the morass of assimilation and ignorance of Jewish heritage.

His daughter, Rivkah Blau, has written an outstanding book that captures
the life of her father and his times and struggles. The book is warm and
personal, full of fascinating anecdotes and historical data.  Like
father, like daughter, the book has a special appeal and charisma.
Anyone interested in knowing the true story of American Jewry in the
twentieth century will do well to read this book and absorb its contents
and message."

from Rabbi Berel Wein 

"Rivkah Blau's biography of Rabbi Mordechai Pinchas Teitz is a truly
inspiring account of one of the founding fathers of Orthodox Jewry in
the United States.  Rabbi Teitz was:

  A skillful Jewish educator who transformed Elizabeth, New Jersey into
the model kehillah for what an Orthodox Jewish community should look

  A distinguished Rabbi and scholar who was among the first to grasp how
modern technology could be harnessed to advance the cause of Torah, as
exemplified by his teaching of Talmud to thousands via radio broadcast.

  A humanitarian who confronted the plight of Soviet Jewry even before
it was fashionable to do so.

This book should be required reading for all rabbis and lay Jews.  It
warns against complacency, despite great accomplishsment; it teaches
that with determination virtually every obstacle can be overcome; and it
affirms that according to the effort expended is the reward.  This is
the best_musar sefer_ I have read in recent years. It is also a
delightful account of the history of the Orthodox Jewish community in
the United States in the twentieth century."

from Sid Z. Leiman
     Professor of Jewish History and Literature
     Brooklyn College, CUNY

It can be ordered through <ktav@...>  Until March 1st, the
price is $25; after March 1st, it will be $35.

Yosef Blau


From: Robert Klein <kleinr@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 16:01:16 -0500
Subject: Source for how to tie tzitzis

The tzitzis on my talis are coming loose and I would like to find a
source (ideally with diagrams) that explains exactly how to tie them.
Does anyone know such (either a book or a web site).  I have done some
searches and did come up with a some directions but no diagrams (I am
quite knot impaired).

Thanks for any pointers.


From: David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 08:43:45 -0500
Subject: Yom Tov Sheini

There seems to be a widespread misconception that a person who lives in
Israel can keep only one day of Yom Tov if he is outside of Israel
during a holiday. I cannot find any basis for this. Even if one does not
observe the positive mitzvot of the given holiday (e.g. a 2nd seder) the
negative mitzvot must be observed (e.g. no melacha on the 2nd day, no
eating chametz on 8th day of Pesach etc.)

David I. Cohen


From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Fri,  30 Mar 2001 9:23 +0200
Subject: Yom Tov Sheni in Israel for Visitors

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"l, held that a visitor should observe one
day of yom tov, UNLESS he/she was convinced that s/he would NEVER make
aliya.  He also suggested that hotels that did a seder sheni in Israel
should have some music, a drum or harmonica with the meal.

__Bob Werman


End of Volume 34 Issue 44