Volume 35 Number 40
                 Produced: Wed Aug  8  5:01:20 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The 5 Assumptions Used in Making the Jewish Calendar
         [Zev Sero]
Abstination vs. Indulgence
         [Yosef Braun]
         [Joel Goldberg]
Jewish History in Conflict
         [Yosef Braun]
Meat and Fish
         [Norman Seif]
Obligation to enjoy physical world (2)
         [Lawrence  Kaplan, Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka]
Tevilas Keilim
         [Perets Mett]
Use of Pop-Up Trimmer on Shavers
         [Rachel Smith]


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 19:42:03 -0400 
Subject: RE: The 5 Assumptions Used in Making the Jewish Calendar

Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>

> Daniel Wells (v35n20) cites several different >versions< of when Adam
> was created(Year 1,2,3 etc).Many people discussed Shmuels
> calendar(V35n20)
> 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).

Correction: the calendar that we use today, like the civil calendar, has
no year zero.  The year that notionally began at `molad tohu', or `molad
BaHaRaD', was year 1.  The world was created on 25 Elul 1.  The starting
point of year 1 is called `molad tohu' because it never actually
happened, since on Monday 1 Tishri 1 there was neither a moon, nor a sun
for it to reflect, nor an earth relative to which that reflection could
be obscured.  By contrast, the calendar to which Russell is referring,
which has been used in the past by some Jewish communities, starts year
1 with `molad VaYaD', the first actual molad that happened 2 days after
the creation of the sun and moon, which means that the world was created
on 25 Elul in the year 1 BC (Before Creation), or, if you like, the year

The author of Seder Olam used a third calendar, one which definitely has
a year zero, and that is the year beginning with Adam's creation.  In
this system, the world was created on 25 Elul 1BC, Adam was created on 1
Tishri 0, and a year later he celebrated his first birthday, on 1 Tishri

The Exodus was 2448.5 years after creation; therefore the Seder Olam
gives the date as 15 Nissan 2448, in Russell's calendar it was 2449, and
in the calendar used by all Jews today it was 2450.  In the civil
calendar, it was 1311 BCE.

Zev Sero


From: Yosef Braun <yb770@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 12:14:49 +1000
Subject: Re: Abstination vs. Indulgence

Alexander Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...> on Wed, 01 Aug 2001 15:46:42 -00:
>It says in the Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) that one who refuses to try a 
>(kosher) physical pleasure when offered will be held accountable. I 
>believe the reference is Kiddushin Ch. 4, please correct me.

I, personally, get agitated when this Talmud Yerushalmi is quoted out of
context. The real context is: the conflicting sayings of Chazal, such
as: "perishus mevee'ah leeday kedusha" [abstination leads one to
holiness].  Chazal, very often talk highly about the concept of nedarim
[vows], because usually, vowing to abstain from the permissible prevents
transgressing the forbidden. Quite often, the idea of a fence to the
forbidden is discussed in Talmudic literature. Also, enjoyment of
worldly pleasures, for the sake of indulgence, not in order to serve
Hashem, is considered by our sages to be the cause of severe punishments
(e.g. chibbut hakever).

Honestly, does anyone on this list eat vanilla ice cream simply to show
that we accept all of Hashem's gifts, or because we just enjoy it? So,
it might be more worthwhile to engage in discussions, as to how our
religious brethren can easily fulfil the commandment of "thou shall not
stray after your heart [desires]", or the injunction of "thou shall be

The simple explanation with regard to the Talmud Yerushalmi is as
follows: The ordinary person, like myself (and i assume, most of the
subscribers to this list), ought to be cautious even with "permissible
desires", so they don't lead to "forbidden desires". Only the "elite",
who achieve total supremacy of soul over body, will be "punished" for
not appreciating the gifts of this world.

I'm afraid; we're back, unintentionally, into the chumra
thread.... After all, chumros are not that evil. If I encounter a hell
where they punish me for "hiddur mitzva" [meticulousness in observance]
and for NOT enjoying worldly pleasures - I'll assume it's a plot!!

Have a look at this "new age religion": Positive commandment - "thou
shall enjoy EVERYTHING (permissible) in this world". Negative
commandment - "thou shall not be extra particular about mitzvot". Now,
doesn't that sound appealing... Anybody wishing to convert to this
religion? You don't need to consider converting. Some people consider
this part and parcel of "authentic Yiddishkeit". How absurd.


From: Joel Goldberg <joel@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 09:56:01 +0200
Subject: Dumbwaiter

We have two hand cranked wheelchair elevators on our property, one
inside the house, and one from our front yard down to our driveway. No
one, including the three shul ravs, one of whom is also the official
neighbourhood rav, has ever suggested that there is any sort of
prohibition in using them on shabbat.

Joel Goldberg
Beit Shemesh


From: Yosef Braun <yb770@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 14:50:32 +1000
Subject: Re: Jewish History in Conflict

in MJ vol. 35 no. 29 M. Goldberg writes:
>See the fascinating book by Mitchell First, "Jewish History in Conflict"- A 
>study of the Major Discrepancy between Rabbinic and Conventional Chronology 
>- Jason Aronson, 1997.The author lists dozens of rabbis who have addressed 
>this issue, starting as early as Saadia Gaon, and on through modern times. 
>He has several rough categories: Seder Olam is correct, conventional 
>chronology is correct, and Seder Olam corresponds to conventional 
>chronology. Many prominent rabbis are in each category.

I read the book thoroughly, and disagree completely with the assertion
that "there are many prominent Rabbanim in each category". The majority
of the traditional commentaries are of the view that Seder Olam is
correct (including the "rationalists", such as R. Saadiah Gaon). A
minority view seeks to reconcile between Seder Olam and "conventional"
history. It is only the "modern" commentaries (traditionally known as
"maskilim") that seek to perpetuate the view that Seder Olam is
incorrect. Mitchell First himself seems to belong to this latter group.

Incidentally, I always labored to understand the meaning of the term
"conventional history". This terminology places the onus upon the
traditionalists to "defend" their "narrow'-minded" view in face of the
"obvious evidence" presented by the "open-minded" and "rational"
individuals who recorded "conventional history".

An example is in place: Suppose that in one-hundred years from now, a
discrepancy appears between "conventional history" and "Rabbinic
Judaism" as to who initiated the Al Akza Intifada in September 2000; how
many casualties the Israelites (as they might be termed) suffered; the
character of Palestine's "first prime minister" (Heaven forbid) etc. As
usual, "evidence" will be brought forward. The "facts" from Associated
Press and Reuters (and even "documents" from "ancient Israeli papers"
such as Maariv) will be termed "conventional history", and the
information presented in Arutz Sheva's website will be branded as "the
minority view still held by ultra orthodox Jews, descendant of the
ancient hawkish Israelites".

Is there any reason to assume that govt. officials, scribes and
journalists were different (less human) in those days? Another example:
IMO, a tradition handed down to me by my father from his father
etc. that my great-great grandfather was released from imprisonment in
Czarist Russia on 'the TENTH of Kislev 5587' (taking into account the
fact that my family celebrates this day for the last close to 200 years)
is stronger evidence that a "document" discovered in the archives of
USSR which records the day as November 15, 1827 (which is equivalent to,
say, 'the ELEVENTH of Kislev 5587').  The comparison to the issue at
hand is obvious.


From: Norman Seif <nusseif@...>
Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2001 23:08:20 -0400
Subject: Meat and Fish

The discussion of Sakana of eating meat and fish together that has been
dormant in these columns for the past 6 years is discussed at length and
in depth with Halachic and medical sourcesi by Dr Fred Rosner in the
current issue of Tradiitions



From: Lawrence  Kaplan <lkapla@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2001 17:57:54 -0500
Subject: Re: Obligation to enjoy physical world

>From: Alexander Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
>It says in the Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) that one who refuses to try
>a (kosher) physical pleasure when offered will be held accountable. I
>believe the reference is Kiddushin Ch. 4, please correct me.
>There is a tale of a modern Chassidic rebbe in Israel who in his old age
>had his son or talmid fly him to Switzerland and back, with no apparent
>business. When he returned, his talmidim asked him what was the point,
>and he replied, "I was afraid that when I die, God might ask me 'How did
>you like my Alps?', and I wouldn't be able to answer him" - the point
>being that he wanted to impress the above obligation on his students.
>Can anyone give me a correct source and/or details of this story - is it
>true, who was the rebbe, where is it written, etc. Thanks.

The story related by Rabbi Seinfeld is a distorted version of the very
well known story about the Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.  The story goes
that after his return from a visit to the Alps (provided for him as a
gift from his students) he related to his students that he now realized
that when he would get to heaven, God, in addition to the standard
questions: "Have you set aside fixed times for the study of the Torah?"
"Have you dealt honestly with your fellow- man?" etc. would also ask
him, "Have you seen my Alps?"  I believe the story is to be found in
Eliyahu Klugman's biography of Rav Hirsch, among many other places.

Incidentally, this is not the only instance where stories about about
great non-Hasidic figures or institutions are "Hasidicized" in the
retelling.  Thus one will often hear or read that the great 20th century
Jewish philosopher, Franz Rosenzweig pulled back from the brink of
conversion after he davened in Berlin on Yom Kippur in a small Hasidic
Shtiebel. In truth, he davened in the separatist German Orthodox
Synoagogue whose rabbi was Rabbi Marcus Petuchowski.

Lawrence Kaplan
McGill University

From: Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka <rbulka@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2001 14:42:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Obligation to enjoy physical world

To Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld,

The story about the Alps involved not a Hasidic Rabbi, but Rabbi Samson
Raphael Hirsch, zt'l.

Apparently, according to my recollection, he asked his talmidim to take him
there in his later years, for the reason, as he explained to his perplexed
Talmidim, that he did not want to be short of a response if God were to ask
him - Did you see my wonderful Alps?

Alps or no Alps, it is a wonderful story. And very instructive.

                                            Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka,
                                            Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

[A number of other list members wrote in identifying the story as
occuring with Rav Hirsch including:
	Goldfinger, Andy <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
	Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> 
	Netanel Livni <n_livni@...>


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 15:57:29 +0100
Subject: Re: Tevilas Keilim

>Has anyone heard the idea that a vessel may be used one time before
>immersion in a Mikveh? If so, what is the source for this law?
>I have heard this from so many people, yet i cannot find a singe
>halachic source that allows it.

I too have heard this, but remain unaware of any source for such a leniency.

I suspect that it arises out of confusion with the fact that a
disposable vessel (i.e. which can be used once only) does not require

The question then arises whether a disposable vessel will require 
tvilo if you choose to re-use it!


Perets Mett


From: Rachel Smith <rachelms@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 11:00:26 -0700
Subject: Use of Pop-Up Trimmer on Shavers

Is anyone aware of teshuvos dealing with the use of the pop-up sideburn
trimmer commonly found on the back of an electric shaver, as opposed to
the shaver side itself, to cut one's beard or sideburns (leaving payos,
of course)?  It seems to me that the trimmer should also be OK, since
the cutting action is performed by the motion of one or both combs in
the trimmer; the teeth in each comb are not sharp enough to cut hair
without the scissors action of the other comb.  The points on the teeth
of the trimmer combs might touch the skin, but it seems this should be
no worse than the shaver heads where the perforated shield between the
blade and the face also touches the skin, especially since the points of
the trimmer combs do not do the cutting, whereas in the shaver itself,
the shield is actually used as one of the scissor surfaces. 



End of Volume 35 Issue 40