Volume 36 Number 65
                 Produced: Tue Jul  9  6:04:57 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

card operated locks
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Exception that proves the rule
         [Sam Saal]
Kosher food, but what about Shabbat in space (2)
         [Shimon Lebowitz, Edward Ehrlich]
Mitzvot in Space
         [Mark Dratch]
Shabbat in space
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman]
shabbos on other planets and planes
         [Rachel Beitsch]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 11:45:48 +0300
Subject: Re: card operated locks

Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...> expressed the following thought:

>As I understand it, the difference between psik raisha and grama is more
>than simply one of time delay. I recall reading that when they designed
>the grama light switches for Sharei Tzedek they built in a level of
>"imprecision" to insure it would be considered a grama. The causing
>action would eventually turn on the light, but it might be in .1 second,
>and it might be in .5 seconds. Hence there was no specific moment at
>which it would definately happen - no psik raisha.

This seems a bit obscure and I would like clarification.

The basic meaning of pesiq reisha is that if one cuts off the ___'s
head, the ___ will die.

We all know the stories of the chicken running around after its head was
cut off.  But the animal will die as a result--no doubt about it.
According to Binyomin, this seems clear to him not to be a case of pesiq


Binyomin continues:

>"amira l'akum" (saying to a non-jew) - based on a pasuk in nach
>(yirmiyahu, right?) there is a rabbinic prohibition to talk about assur
>things on shabbos. i can't say "I'll call you after shabbos" rather I
>must say "I'll speak to you after shabbos" As part of that prohibition
>then is a prohibition against directly asking a non-jew to do something
>which is prohibited. I can't say "please turn on the light" rather (if
>the only issue was this prohibition) i might say "it's dark in here, can 
>you help me out".

Interestingly, the Rema has something to say on this (OH 307:22):
"Anything that is forbidden to tell a non-Jew to do on Shabbos is
forbidden to hint to him, although it is permitted to hint to him to
perform labor after Shabbos"

The Mishna Berura comments (307:76): "This is also in the category of
amira le-non-Jew, because he will perform an action on Shabbos, and it
is forbidden to tell him something on Shabbos that will cause him to
understand that he should perform labor.  It is therefore forbidden to
tell a non-Jew to wipe his nose, so that he should understand that he
should remove the charring from the top of the light."

I wonder how well this prohibition is known.

>As a result, avoiding directly asking the non-jew to open your door does 
>not really solve the problem.

So it seems


From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 07:36:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Exception that proves the rule

Art Werschulz <agw@...> wrote:

>The term "proof" still has the meaning of "test" in the English
>language.  A few instances:
>(1) Brewers talk about "proofing" the yeast.  (Do bakers use this
>    term?)

Bakers use a proof box - a temperature and humidity controlled space -
in which bread, yeast donuts, etc. rise.

Sam Saal         <ssaal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 10:45:35 +0200
Subject: Re: Kosher food, but what about Shabbat in space

> I disagree that being on Mars is just an extreme case of being in orbit.
> Mars orbits the sun; we orbit, so to speak, the Earth.  However, you are
> right regarding orbit (especially Shuttle orbit) being high altitude
> flight.  I thought I mentioned that as well, but I was trying to come up
> with a reason why Shuttle/space flight might be slightly different.  So I
> chose, as one option, the atmosphere border.  It could be considered that
> since one of the things that separates the Earth from outer-space is in
> fact the atmosphere, the lack of it might be considered 'off-Earth'.  It
> is still, however, a slightly arbitrary 'border' line.

I think we really need, as difficult as it may be for techno-minded
people, to stick with a 'subjective' more than 'objective' borderline.

When a person gets in an airplane in place A on earth, flies for some
period P in direction D and lands at point B, s/he feels basically the
same as when doing the trip by foot, horse, or ship. The only real
subjective difference is the speed, the person still feels part of the
normal world.

However, there is a much different "feeling" when you take off in a
rocket propelled vehicle, vertically leaving the entire 'feeling' of
being 'on Earth'. No, I cannot define this in terms of speed,
trajectory, altitude, or other measurable quantities, but a person
orbiting the globe is *not* 'on earth', while flying from Paris to NY on
a Concorde s/he is (assuming the plane gets off the ground).

A person 'on Earth' would follow halachic times as seen/sensed
objectively - this is what we do today in long airplane flights. Does
anyone who davens Vatikin Shacharit [morning prayers at sunrise] in an
airplane, check that the sun has appeared at sea-level several miles
below? We see sunrise, we pray.

But a person *off* the Earth, at least as I understood Rabbi Halperin's
psak as related in the newspaper article (I have not tried to get any
confirmation) is out of the 'sphere of influence' of halachik time, and
its related mitzvot. Such a person simply has nothing to work with, and
cannot, nor is expected to attempt to, perform time-related

I personally would agree that in a long term off-earth situation, such
as the generational expedition mentioned, or colonies on other bodies, a
'zecher' system of 'commemorative' observance should be set up, so that
the shabbat and holidays would not be forgotten.  IMHO a local "shabbat"
should be linked to the local day/night cycle (be it natural or
artificial), but holidays should be commemorated roughly simultaneously
with those performing the real mitzvot 'back home', on Earth. Prayers,
and Shema, would be linked like Shabbat, to the local time cycle.

Short term trips would remain exempt, as per Rav Halperin. So, an
astronaut taking a shuttle flight which would orbit Earth, would not
have any Shabbat, but upon docking with a permanent space station, would
commemorate Shabbat every 7th 'local day', regardless of position over

These are just a few ideas I have had, some of these discussions are
more reminiscent of trek-cochavim (I am sure some of you must be
subscribed to it...) than mail-jewish. :-)

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://shimonl.findhere.org/PGP/

From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 10:53:50 +0200
Subject: Kosher food, but what about Shabbat in space

Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...> wrote:

>Eli Lansey's recent comments added a new dimension to my musings on this
>I seem to recall an old science fiction story about a planet that had a
>small moon whose orbit was around waist height. To maintain an orbit at
>that height, it had to go VERY fast.

The speed of a satellite orbiting the Earth is dependent not on its
altitude above the Earth's surface, but its distance from the Earth's
center.  So a hovercraft orbiting near the Earth's surface (about 6,400
kilometers from the Earth's center) would not orbit the Earth much
faster (about 90 minutes per orbit) than the International Space Station
which is 400 kilometers above the Earth's surface and 6,800 kilometers
from the Earth's center.

The reason we don't have satellites orbiting around waist height
(besides the fact that they would run into a lot of things) is that the
atmosphere would slow them down.

I don't say any reasonable solution to the problem of flying in
relatively low orbit that involves circling the Earth many times during
a 24 hour period other than fixing some sort of standard time based on
some fixed point on Earth.  This has been how similar problems
(submarines and locations at very high latitudes) have been dealt with
in the past.  Eventually, there could be a manned space station in a
geostationary orbit about 36,000 miles about the Earth's surface which
always hovers above the same point on Earth.  In this case it would be
tempting simply to use the point "below" on the Earth's surface as the
time for prayer, beginning of Shabbat etc. but there is no guarantee
that anybody else on the station would be doing the same.  So the Jewish
astronaut might have to get up in the middle of the space station's
night to daven Shachrit.  That's why people should be cautious about
issuing psakim that might obligate our children and grandchildren
without appreciating all the consequences.

Also, what happens if a Jewish astronaut, who is using for instance
Houston time, makes a rest stop on a geostationary station that is on
GMT time?  And furthermore what happens if the astronaut is Eretz
Yisraeli and it's the second day of Shavuot?  But I digress.

Ed Ehrlich - SkyWatch - The Astronomical Alarm
Jerusalem, Israel


From: <MSDratch@...> (Mark Dratch)
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 17:44:28 EDT
Subject: Mitzvot in Space

Rabbi Menachem Kasher, in his Adam al ha-Yarei'ach (avvailable at
www.hebrewbooks.org) responds to and refutes a Rabbi Firer who
maintained that mitzvot are earth-bound.  He also claims that Rav Goren
was misquoted as holding the same position.

Although I haven't seen R. Firer's article, I understand the position as
follows> earth is the frame of reference of the Torah.  Outside of that
frame of reference, the mitzvot are irrelevant.  Consider: intelligent
life on another planet must also have a relationship with God, no?  Must
also have had a revelation, no?  What does their Torah look like?  While
the essential ideas are probably the same as ours, the specifics I am
sure are different.

Consider as well that concepts of time and place are different in space.
Not only are there no sunrises and sunsets-- the view of the sun from
orbit every 90 minutes can't really be considered a day.  And,
aAccording to the Special Theory of Relativity an entity travelling that
fast measures time differently... and measures space differently as
well.  A human space traveler patur from all mitzvot?  Iimagine he'd at
least be obligated mi-derabbanan (rabbinically.)

As for a psak... Rav Kasher states that a da, by definition, is 24
hours, regardless of what the sun does.  Thus, in the North Pole, or on
a spaceship, you continue to measure 24 hour periods from the last
experienced sunset.

Prof. Zev Lev of Jerusalem College of Technology suggests the "lost in
the desert" gemara mentioned by another member of this list.

Mark Dratch


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 16:02:34 +0300
Subject: Re:  Shabbat in space

In v36n59, Solomon Spiro <spiro@...> wrote, at the end of a
discussion on another topic:

<<it would seem to me that an astronaut in space would be compared to
--quote--one who wanders in the desert and does not know when it is
shabbat, counts seven days from the day he realizes his lapse of memory,
makes kiddush and havdalah. . . and does the minimum of forbidden acts,
even on his Shabbat,--unquote, from Shabbat 69 and Shulkhan Arukh 344.
The man in the desert lives in a time frame when shabbat is

That last analogy seems to me to incorrect: one lost in the desert is
not in a "time frame where Shabbat is suspended," but has simply lost
knowledge of when Shabbat is, and has no way of finding out.  It's being
the question to compare it to a man in space: thatr's precisely the
issue participants in this forum have been debating this past month or

Has anyone tried: a) searching through back numbers of "Tradition"
(there's an index, so it's not that difficult)?  b) ditto for the
journal of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists?  I'm sure
there's material there, in one or both of those journals.  "Tradition"
in fact used to (still does) have a sdynopsis of writings of
contemporary poskim on various issues.  I vaguely remember seeing
something on this, many years ago.  c) speaking to Leo Levi of "Makhon
Lev" (The Jerusalem College of Torah and Technology {?}) in Bayit
va-Gan.  He once wrote a book on "Jewish Chrononomy," and I'm sure he's
au courrant on all the varied opinions.

Rav Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem


From: Rachel Beitsch <hydraglo@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 21:25:58 +0300
Subject: shabbos on other planets and planes

The discussion of what to do on other planets:

made me wonder--didn't Hashem only create the earth as having shabbos?
Mind you, I haven't got the gemara background for this (being a woman),
but it always seemed to me that shabbos was exclusively an Earth
privilege since the creation of the heavenly bodies (i.e., the other
planets) on the fourth day of creation was only part of the preparation
of Earth for shabbos.  That, of course, would bring us to the question
of life on other planets, which I have heard explained by a gemara that
says Hashem created a certain number of worlds before this one and
destroyed them (or at least, this was my hearing of the gemara), but
have never known what constituted a "world."  (Rav Heinemann of
Baltimore's take on this is that if there is life out there, they're not
Jewish.)  Can anyone clarify this?

Off this topic, I also have a theoretical halacha question about
interdimensional travel.  If one were to make it into hyperspace (i.e.,
outside of normal space and time) and spend time in another dimension
for a bit, would time act differently there, and would it affect the
person's observation of shabbos or zmanei tefilah (both in the other
dimension and once he got back)?


End of Volume 36 Issue 65