Volume 35 Number 35
                 Produced: Thu Aug  2  5:58:16 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The 5 Assumptions Used in Making the Jewish Calendar
         [Russell Hendel]
Chief Rabbis
         [Saul Davis]
Datan Kalot
         [Reuven Miller]
DNA testing
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Gelatin in Medicine
         [Yaakov Fogelman]
Male/Female differences
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
         [Ben Katz]
OU and Kashrus
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Vilna Gaon
         [Joel Rich]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 22:34:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The 5 Assumptions Used in Making the Jewish Calendar

Daniel Wells (v35n20) cites several different >versions< of when Adam
was created(Year 1,2,3 etc).Many people discussed Shmuels

The commentators on Rambam, Laws of Calendars, Chapter 9 make it clear
that our calendar rests on 5 simple assumptions. Some of these
assumptions are deliberately contradictory: While the calendar had to
be(and is) accurate, the INITIAL dates of the calendar could be
arbitrary. Chazal therefore constructed the calendar so that its initial
times reflected all viewpoints so that all traditions could be
preserved.  The 5 assumptions are listed below with comments in

(1) The sun was created on Tuesday, 6:00 PM (Gen01)*1
(2) The Sun was created in Nissan (Rabbi Yehoshuas viewpoint)*2
(3) Adam was created on Friday, 2:00 PM (Gn01)*3
(4) Friday 2:00 PM was Rosh Hashana (Rabbi Elazars viewpoint)*4
(5) The average lunar month is 29 days 12 hours and 793/1080 hour*5

*1 Sun was created on 4th Day(Gn01). We assume it was created
   at beginning of 4th day (Tuesday 6:00 PM)
*2*4 RH 12. The calendar incorporates both views on when the
   world was created(Nissan or Tishray) even though they contradict
   each other so that all traditions could be preserved
*3 Adams creation on Friday is mentioned in Gn01. The 2 OClock
   is obtained from assigning different events listed in Genesis
   to each hour of the day See Sanhedrin 38 for a list.
*5 A tradition handed to Moses at Sinai and quite accurate

Adam was created on Friday, New Year: but other events happened prior to
that; therefore we call the first year, Year 0 (The Null Year).
Calculating backwards from Friday 2:00 using the length of 13 lunar
months we see that New Year, year 0 happened on Sunday night, 11 PM
204/1080(Rabmam 6:13). Similarly if we count backwards and compare with
the Month of Nissan we see that the creation of the sun took place 7
days 9 hours and 642/1080 before the Nissan New Month (Rambam9:3)

I hope this small introduction impresses the care with which our
traditions were preserved

Russell Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.Com/


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 17:55:52 +0300
Subject: Chief Rabbis

Allen Gerstl wrote:
"There are no longer cohesive, self governing, Jewish Kehilot (communities).
  ... a Rabbi today is not the official Rav of an entire community".

Allen may be referring to the USA. The position is different in Israel
where there exists an official, state-recognized Rabbanut. All Israeli
towns with a Jewish population have a Chief Rabbi. That Rabbi is chosen
by the community in a (semi) democratic way. In theory that Chief Rabbi
is the "moreh deathra" of his community. In practise this is not so and
many problems exist with this system.

(1) The Chief Rabbi system does not create communities. There is less of
a sense of community in Israel than in the Galuth. People belong to
their own shuls and use the Rabbanut only for bureaucratic purposes
(funding registering marriages etc) and see the Chief Rabbi as, at best,
a figure-head.

(2) Many, even small places, have 2 Rabbis - Ashqenazi and
Sefardim. This is an old racist system going back to Turkish times which
the British adopted (the imperialistic "divide and rule"). This weakens
the Chief Rabbi even as a figure-head. Who is the moreh deathra? Rabbi 1
or Rabbi 2? There is very little reason for any town to have 2 Chief
Rabbis and a Jew of one edah (Ashqenazi and Sefardim) can approach a
Rabbi of another with his shealoth and get the right answer for his eda.

(3) The choice of Rabbi is not so democratic and the outcome is that the
Rabbanut is an anonymous government clerk with life tenure. Secular Jews
are the ones who most need his services as the religious will already
belong to a shul with a rabbi or know one. But the choice of Rabbi is
rarely made with the Secular Jews in mind.

The position is also different in the UK. The UK has a Chief Rabbi
system (the head of the largest, London-based orthodox, organisation
(the United Synagogue) chooses the Chief Rabbi of the British
Commonwealth. Ironically, compared to Israel, the office of the UK Chief
Rabbi is more successful than its counterpart in Israel but in the UK
the Chief Rabbi has no real status vis-a-vis the state but is still
probably more widely respected than in Israel where the position is an
official state function.

I have occasionally noticed Rabbis described as the Chief Rabbi of some
country or city (eg Poland): I wonder how they are (democratically)
chosen and how they are accepted in their communities and outside of
them. What happened to the Rish Galutha, is he the Chief Rabbi of
Baghdad (who was mentioned in MJ V. 35 #27 regarding Yequm Purqan)?!


From: Reuven Miller <millerr@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 14:33:43 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Datan Kalot

> While learning Daf Yomi last week (Kidushin Daf Pay) Rabbu Weinreb of
> Shomrey Emunah Baltimore pointed out that the SOURCE for the statement
> >Women are light headed< clearly occurs in a context discussing sin and
> in that context has absolutely nothing to do with their intellectual (or
> cognitive?) ability.

Perhaps it does mean that they are more "emotional" and can more easily
be swayed to make a decision not based on logical analysis.

Reuven Miller


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 14:38:34 +0200
Subject: DNA testing

An article in today's Jerusalem Post relates to the question of DNA
testing to ascertain paternity.

First, it points out that a few years ago an Israeli law was promulgated
that specifically prohibits DNA testing for this purpose.

It then notes that some Dayanim seem to have ignored this law and thus
engendered a number of cases where they ruled individuals are Mamzerim.

In order to prevent this from happening in the future, a new regulation
requires that whenever a husband and wife are in divorce or support
proceedings and the husband makes a claim that a child or children are
not his, the court is REQUIRED to appoint a lawyer to represent the
rights of the child/children. This lawyer, then, will be able to prevent
the Dayanim from imposing a DNA test if this can conceivably (no pun
intended) harm any child or children.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Yaakov Fogelman <top@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 14:25:17 +0200
Subject: Re: Gelatin in Medicine

Re Philip Brooke's inquiry re gelatin in medicine: I recall clearly that
Rav Soloveichik was not concerned with chometz in medicine and cosmetics
on Pesach, as they were not food- even a dog wouldn't eat them. Besides
the possible hetarim for gelatin from animal sources (Jello always had a
hechsher and sent an explanatory booklet on request), I imagine this
principle would apply to medications too- they are simply not
food. Anyone who would like to get my weekly parasha studies on e-mail
just had to send their e-mail address.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 14:27:54 +0200
Subject: Male/Female differences

Without getting into the debate about whether the cognitive differences
between men and women would make a differences in who can render P'sak,
I'd like to quote the opening paragraphs of a book called "Brain Sex":

"Men are different from women. They are equal only in their common
membership of the same species, humankind. To maintain they are the same
in aptitude, skill or behavior is to build a society based on a
biological and scientific lie.

The sexes are different because their brains are different. The brain,
the chief administrative and emotional organ of life, is differently
contructed in men and women; it processes information in a different
way, which results in different perceptions, priorities and behavior."

The book, authored by Anne Moir and David Jessel (Michael Joseph; 1989),
shows that there are INNATE differences between the way men and women -
on the whole - think and function, and that is to a large extent the
result of the different levels of hormones, etc., between the two (I'm
oversimplifying here).

In essence, then, this book - which is a purely scientific work (but
written for the popular masses) - is based entirely on scientific
studies and is fully documented.

If, indeed, the book is valid (and I see no reason why it should not be
so), the question that we need to ask is how the findings within the
book would impact on our discussion regarding cognitive differences
between men and women and whether these differences might impact on
rendering P'sak .

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 13:11:08 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Orthodox

>From: <BJacobs571@...> (Bernard Jacobs)
>Ed Ehrlich  wrote
>> In short, in most cases that the word "Orthodox" is used, "observant"
>> or "halakhic" would be more appropriate and would differentiate
>> halakhic issues from those of administration and organizations.
>I disagree with this I am not as observant as I would like to be but I
>still consider myself orthodox as I feel I should observe. Some
>non-orthodox jews feel they are fully obseverant because their branch
>sets lower standards of what is acceptable. 
>To me the term orthodox means you still believe in the the full set of
>rules although you may not follow all of them and Reform/ Liberal means
>you believe in a reduced set of rules. 

Mr. Jacobs assumes that Orthodox = more observant, Reform = least
observant (and presumably Conservative is somewhere in between).  However,
this is not really the case (although practically this is often what
happens).  Reform Judaism is a different PHILOSOPHY (or sect) of Judaism,
basically valuing personal preference over traditions (whether rabbinic or
Biblical).  One CAN be as religious as he/she wants and be a Reform Jew,
although usually this is not the case.  And, BTW, there are examples of
Conservative being more "machmir" than Orthodox, for example the outlawing
of cigarette smoking, which I believe they did with a responsum written in
the 70's.  

[Actually re-reading this now as I am editing it, it appears to me that
Mr Jacobs and Mr Katz are saying very similar things, that the
self-identification of Orthodox vs say Reform is more related to the
rule set than to how closely you as an individual actually conform to
the rule set. Mod.]

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: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 13:36:39 EDT
Subject: OU and Kashrus

Zev responds to my point;
> Do you really expect some person in the public relations department to
> be an expert on what the regulations really require, let alone that
> they'll give you the correct answer all the time::::

What makes you believe that their website is any more correct?

Zev continues,

> The word is `incidental', not `trace'.

Actually the website you directed me to uses both terminologies.

Zev asks how I know that these traces are less than 1.6 percent.  
Dictionary.com defines 'trace' thustly,

An extremely small amount.  A constituent, such as a chemical compound
or element, present in quantities less than a standard limit.

I am sure, then, that the standard limit is spelled out in the law.  If
we choose to look at the actually statute instead oof shooting from the
hip, it may become evident if 1.6 is considered trace or not.

Zev concludes in response to my question about not following OU stated
policy by saying;

> The OU doesn't tell you, as a private citizen, what to do...the OU
> doesn't station policemen in the grocery to stop you.  But you will
> pardon me if I choose not to eat at your house, and counsel others to do
> the same.

Zev, I simply questioned, not asserted that there may be a possibility
that a person can decide for himself if an item is kosher.  I never said
that I want to do so.  Nor do I think any Kashrus agencies would station
officers at the markets.  I merely stated that the OU has the right to
any policy they choose, but I wondered if not relying on their choice is
in accordance with halacha.  Remember, even if an ingredient is not
kosher, the non kosher ingredient within that ingredient may be minute
itself, lowering the possibility that it is not Batul.  There is no need
to get nasty about this.

As a side note, the OU in their Q and A section on their W/S does not
even mention the trace element possibility as a reason for not picking
up a product and ascertaining its Kashrus based on the label.

Chaim Shapiro


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 08:02:32 EDT
Subject: Vilna Gaon

> I was using this as a counter example -- I don't have reference handy,
> but as I recall -- The Vilna Gaon was NOT the Rav of Vilna -- despite
> his stature, he needed to ask permission of the community Bet Din to
> hold services in his home -- which was, I believe, denied -- and he
> abided by this decision.

In fact, Vilna had a dayan who was responsible for day to day psak based
on the long tradition of psak within the vilna community- which explains
why the currently popular(in some quarters at least) "minhag
hagra"(following the customs of the vilna gaon), was never the practice
in vilna itself(or so I'm told on good authority)even though the gaon
was a once in a thousand years mind. 

Joel Rich


End of Volume 35 Issue 35