Volume 35 Number 56
                 Produced: Mon Oct 15  6:42:55 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Burial with no Body
         [Jeanette Friedman Sieradski]
Compiling WTC stories (2)
         [Sid Gordon, Sharon and Joseph Kaplan]
         [Mimi Markofsky]
World Trade Towers and Agunah (2)
         [Yehuda Landy, Jack Gross]
WTC stories (2)
         [Ari Kahn, I.H Fox]
WTC urban legends
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 06:31:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

I would like to just quickly comment on one posting is this issue that
questions whether we should be discussing what the possible halachic
approaches a Posek may take in veiwing the issue of the WTC and Aguna. I
think it is critical to understand that no-one on this list is pronouncing
opinions of Halacha, and it would be foolish for someone to use a
discussion group such as this to arrive at a psak halacha on any
complicated issue. This list is a discussion group, and the purpose of any
such discussion is to discuss and share what might be some of the halachic
principles that would go into the decision making process of a posek
dealing with this issue. Just as I do not think we should say that
learning Gitten and Kedushin as standard tractates to study is school
should be prohibited, lest someone try and pasken from a discussion in the
Gemarah, so too I support the discussion of what the underlying halachic
issues might be on this list.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman Sieradski)
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 02:54:23 EDT
Subject: Burial with no Body

I believe the city of NY is giving family members soil from the site,
which contain human remains (ashes, like in Auschwitz) in wooden urns
that they can bury. I don't know if this fulfills Halachic requirements,
but it just seems to make sense to me.

jeanette friedman sieradski


From: Sid Gordon <gordon_sid@...>
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 14:34:54 -0400
Subject: Compiling WTC stories

Yitz Weiss writes:

>considering compiling a collection of these kinds of stories. The
>thought is to give encouragement and consolation to all who were
>touched by the tragedy.

*Please* don't do this.  Recounting cases of heroism and compassion in
the face of danger and tragedy have educational and moral value.  But
what possible consolation could it give to someone who lost a loved one
there, to know that someone else was saved because he went to slichot
that morning?  Of course there are stories like that.  And I'm sure for
every person who didn't get on the plane because he left his tfilin in
the hotel and went back to retrieve it, there is another one who missed
the flight the day before and got on the doomed one for the same reason.
There are always anecdotes like this (in Israel unfortunately we have
had our share of them in the past year).  They are statistically
insignificant and I can understand why some people find them offensive.
They come dangerously close to trying to explain the unfathomable ways
of God.  It's the flip-side of the infamous connection made by a local
rabbi between the death of schoolchildren in a horrible train accident
and the shabbat-desecration of their families, or the wedding hall
collapse last year and the fact that there was mixed dancing there.
Yes, when tragedy occurs we must all do heshbon nefesh (self-accounting
and soul-searching).  No, we may not attribute particular tragedies, or
particular near-misses, to a sin commited or a mitzva performed.

Sid Gordon

From: Sharon and Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 15:59:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Compiling WTC stories

Over Shimini Atzeret and Simchat Torah I gave a lot of thought to the
post about publishing a book about those who were saved from death or
damage in the WTC horror.  I also spoke to a number of friends.  It
stuck a wrong note in all of us.  What is the purpose of such a book?
To show the yad Hashem (God's hand) in saving these people?  Then there
was the same yad Hashem in the 5000 plus who were lost.  And many of
them also has special stories: the first day on the job, supposed to be
working at another office, switched a shift with a co-worker, attending
a meetin that was moved to the WTC from another location etc. etc.  I
think this type of book will bring consolation to none, and will only
add to the anguish of those mourning over lost loved ones.

I had a similar feeling when I heard talk about those being saved having
a seudat hodaya (meal of thanksgiving).  But with respect to that we
have, unfortunately, precedence.  Does anyone know what those who were
saved from terrorist bombings in israel (EG, those in Sbarro's who
escaped uninjured) do, if anything, about a seudat hodaya?

Joseph C. Kaplan


From: <AUNTIEFIFI@...> (Mimi Markofsky)
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 22:35:20 EDT
Subject: Tzedakah

Each year our family hosts an open house before Chanukah.  We ask each
family to bring a gift of some kind that has been wrapped and marked with
gender and age for the gift, if appropriate.  We usually find families in
our area through Jewish organizations who would benefit from these gifts.
 This year, we would like to send them to families who have had losses
due to the WTC tragedies.  If anyone in the NYC area can recommend
agencies through which we can send these items, I would appreciate the
input. Please send the information ASAP.  Thanks in advance.

Mimi Markofsky


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 23:35:29 +0200
Subject: World Trade Towers and Agunah

> From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> I've posted this on another list, but feel that this should be of
> importance on Mail-Jewish.
> I believe that the Agunah question of the Trade Towers can be solvable
> very easily, if resort is made to a Teshuvah of Rav Moshe Feinstein - in
> my opinion, his most breathtaking one.
> Rav Moshe had a question of a woman whose husband had definitely been
> taken away by the Nazis, but there was no evidence that he himself had
> been killed. Rav Moshe ruled that this fact alone was sufficient, as
> everyone taken away at that particular time was killed, and he permitted
> the woman to remarry. See Igrot Moshe Even Ha'Ezer Part 4, p. 116. Also
> see p. 115 for a number of similar cases.

Shalom to All

In my humble opinion such information should not be published on a
discussion list. When it comes to such delicate subjects such as
permitting agunos lets leave it to the proper Rabbonim who have
experience and are familiar with the subject. I'm sure they are fully
aware of Rav Moshe's responses. Let me point out that in the specific
case mentioned, Rav Moshe relied on a bunch of factors, some of which
are not applicable in this case.

I also wish to point out that Rav Moshe was vehemently opposed to
publishing a synopsis of his responses in English for the fear that they
will be used in a similar manner that was used here thus enabling all
people to permit all kinds of things based on their limited
understandings of his responses.

The gemora in Kiddushin (13a) states "He who is not an expert on gittin
and kiddushin should not deal with them at all". The gemora continues
saying that such a person's activities will result in permitting a
married woman to marry someone else. The consequences of this will be
tremendous damage to the world greater than the damage caused to the
world by the mabul. Needless to mention that such damage is greater than
the destruction of the WTC. As I said let's leave this subject to the
experts and not try to offer solutions in a discussion list, as much as
we all would like to help these poor women.
											Yehuda Landy

From: Jack Gross <vze2dstx@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 13:55:22 -0400
Subject: Re: World Trade Towers and Agunah

The situations are not comparable.

Absent recovery of a body, there are two elements required:
    a. evidence that the husband entered a situation of danger.
    b. a valid inference that he did not escape from that situation alive.

In the teshuva cited, there was direct evidence that the husband entered
the situation of danger (i.e., was taken away in an Action). Rav Moshe's
contribution addresses (b), establishing that being caught in an Action
generates a presumption that death followed, based on the known
*intention* and *effectiveness* of the Nazi machine (and given the fact
that the husband did not turn up alive later).

I believe (a) is the main hurdle in most cases of the Twin Tower
missing: Direct evidence of "entry" into danger is missing. The
decisions may well rest on whether a survivor can testify that the
presumed victim specifically verbalized intention the be at the usual
place at the usual time that day.  It will still require a broad set of
shoulders, dealing with the known facts on a case-by-case basis, to
determine whether the victim can be presumed present.  And that bears
little relation the situation Rav Moshe's teshuva deals with.

-- Yaakov Gross


From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 13:49:10 +0200
Subject: RE: WTC stories

Regarding the WTC tragedy, here in Israel (and I suspect in the USA as
well) it is somewhat difficult to discern fact from urban legend. We
have heard various rumors of people calling Rabbis asking permission to
jump from the burning building. As has been noted the names of the
rabbis have changed from story to story.

This past Friday there was an article in Hatzofeh (religious Zionist
paper) the writer had also heard the various rumors. He called Rav
Hershel Shachter who was associated with some versions of the story; his
wife said "never happened try Rav Ahron Shechter from Chaim Berlin". The
writer placed the call and spoke to the Rosh Yeshiva's assistant who
said "never happened".  He called the office of the Belzer Rebbi where
he received the same response.

Did someone call his Rav and ask permission to jump? Perhaps, but the
versions of the story that have circulated seem to have no basis in

Apparently Shimmy Biegelisen (who learned in Chaim Berlin) was on the
phone with Hatzolah, this call was taped and the phone call helped the
Beis din declare him dead and allow the family to sit shiva. But he did
not call Rav Shechter.  His uncle reportedly called the Belzer Rebbi
asking for prayers to be said.

From: I.H Fox <ilan_25@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 11:42:45 +0000
Subject: Re: WTC stories

Neal B. Jannol Riordan & McKinzie <nbj@...> wrote:

>Tragically, the WTC story about the asking of a Rov the question of
>whether to commit suicide or not by jumping, so as to avoid an agunah 
>problem is true.
> ...

An Israeli reporter called Shaul Shiff called Rabbi Hershel Schecter the
Rosh Kollel in Y.U and his wife told him that her husband was not
involved in such a story than he called Rabbi Aharon schecter the Rosh
Yeshiva in Chaim Berlin and was told by Rav Hefez who asked the Rosh
Yeshiva and was told that he did not talk with any one that was in the


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 12:41:09 -0700
Subject: WTC urban legends

Mr. Neal Jannol refers to several tragic stories about the WTC and frum
Jews, as retold by Rabbi Aron Tendler.

With all due respect to Mr. Jannol and R. Tendler, a retelling, even as
a dvar Torah before Neilah, does not make it so.  These stories, as
Ms. Jeanette Friedman said, are urban legends.  They are stories about
what *could* have happened, or what *should* have happened.  Not about
what *did* happen.

Therefore, it does not matter that they are almost certainly false.
They can still teach us "how to die" halakhically if that is the

--Leah Gordon


End of Volume 35 Issue 56