Volume 36 Number 67
                 Produced: Wed Jul 10  6:25:26 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Rachel Swirsky]
The exception 'proves' the rule -- more detail
         [Tobias Robison]
Quotations in Torah (2)
         [Ben Katz, Shalom Ozarowski]
Sharing a Hotel Room
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Sheimot in Senge
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Shir HaShirim
         [Chaim Tabasky]
Tevilas Keilim in Restaurants/Hotels (2)
         [Zev Sero, Immanuel Burton]


From: Rachel Swirsky <swirskyr@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 16:25:06 -0400
Subject: Cannibalism

We were away for the weekend with some friends and someone told a
riddle.  The riddle led to a discussion on cannibalism, pikuach nefesh
and Halacha.  I am sending what we have come up with so far, and I am
curious what other people would come up with.

The situation is...

Three men stranded on a desert Island.  No hope of rescue for a long,
long time.  No food.  One man offers to cut off his arm (or leg, doesn't
matter) in order that it can feed the group and so they can survive.
For arguments sake, lets say that there is no danger that the person who
gives up the arm will die from complications.

Would cannibalism in a case like this be okay according to Halacha?
Here's what we have come up with so far.

We know that it says, "V'Chai BaHem- and you shall live by them".  We
also know that there are only three mitzvot that one is obligated to die
rather than transgress.  Idol worship, Murder and inappropriate sexual
relations (hey, it's all relative right?).  Cannibalism does not seem to
be one of them.

We have already considered the issur of ever min hachai, but that is not
a halacha for which you are supposed to give up your life rather than
transgress.  It would seem that if it is an issue of pikuach nefesh it
might be alright so long as you are certain that it will not lead to the
death of the person donating the arm.

We also see in Megillah Eicha that when the Beis Hamikdash was
destroyed, the famine was so horrific that it drove mother's to devour
their own children.  One assumes that the baby in question was already
dead, but there are apparently some commentators who say that it was
not.  Thus, according to Eicha, once a person is dead you may use them
as a food source.  But, I am not sure that we can darshen halacha based
on Eicha.

I also remember learning that for organ donation you can donate if it is
going to immediate use to save another life if it is not going to kill
the giver (Unsure of the source.  It was at a shiur given by Rabbi
Sacknowitz many years ago.)  Might this be a part of the answer?

Another issue might be that so long as they are still alive, there is
still the hope that the people might be rescued or that they will find
another food source.  Would a human being be allowed to "play G-d" in a
situation such as this one and predict that they will find no other way
before it is too late?

Cannibalism may be considered an affront to Jewish/human dignity.  An
affront for which some say you can be mechalel shabbat.  (E.g.. tearing
toilet paper in an unforeseen emergency).

What do other people think?

Rachel Swirsky


From: Tobias Robison <trobison@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 13:46:51 -0400
Subject: The exception 'proves' the rule -- more detail

Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>  Wrote, regarding "The expection
proves the rule":

This phrase was originally understood as a interpretative principle
  according to which one may infer the existence of a rule from the
  existence of certain exceptions (in the manner Binyomin suggests).
  Fowler gives the following gloss (in The Dictionary of Modern
  English Usage):

    'Special leave is given for men to be out of barracks tonight
    till 11.00 p.m.'; 'The exception proves the rule' means that this
    special leave implies a rule requiring men, except when an
    exception is made, to be in arlier.  The value of this in
    interpreting statutes is plain."

You can find a discussion of this section of the MEU online, an article
in great detail by Mark Israel, at:

A critical point Israel that covers: the argument about what this phrase
originally meant is HISTORICAL, not logical. He quotes usage of the
phrase in which it does NOT mean "tests the rule" from the 17th
century. Unless examples from that time or earlier can be found in which
the phrase means "tests the rule", then one cannot claim that it
originally meant 'tests', no matter how appealing this logical argment
may sound. (There IS another way to disagree with Fowler and Israel; you
will see on the web page that all of the five 17th century references
require some inference to claim that they support Fowler's usage.)

The indented paragraph above (quoting Fowler) really does explain
something, but it can take awhile to puzzle it out. Here is some help:

The context of the indented example is that men in these barracks are
normally required to be in by, say, 9 p.m. The notice: "Special leave is
given for men to be out of barracks tonight till 11.00 p.m.';" is an
EXCEPTION, not an emendation of the normal rule. Lest you might think
that this notice was changing the regular time from 9 to 11, or
cancelling the original rule, the writer adds, in effect: "The necessity
to state this exception proves that the normal rule remains in effect."
Or more concisely: "The exception [having to be stated] proves [the
ongoing existence of] the rule."

I find it fascinating that ancient usage of the famous phrase may have
meant NEITHER 'tests' nor (in the mathematical sense) 'proves'. Its
actual meaning was sufficently abstruse that it is not surprising if it
has changed over time.

- Tobias D. Robison


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 14:16:03 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Quotations in Torah

>A basic principle of Torah study is that the Torah does not have any
>unnecessary words (or letters).

        This is an incorrect premise.  Many rishonim (esp. Ibn Ezra)
realized that, especially in poetic texts there is parallelism for no
other reason other than the beauty of the language.  Furthermore, if you
look in his long commentary on the aseret hadivorim in Exodus he clearly
states that extra letters (eg the difference between "lo tirtzach" in
shemot and "velo tirzach" in Devorim) are inconsequential.

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, Voicemail and Pager: 3034
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: <Shalomoz@...> (Shalom Ozarowski)
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 02:21:12 EDT
Subject: Re: Quotations in Torah

Sanford Lefkowitz asked:
<< A basic principle of Torah study is that the Torah does not have any
 unnecessary words (or letters).
 Does this also apply to text inside quotation marks (i.e.  where the
 Torah says "va-yomer someone or other")?  When Moshe is speaking, we
 might say he is at such a high spiritual level, that every word he uses
 is carefully chosen. But would we say that people like Balak or Pharaoh
 are also speaking with perfect efficiency and that every word they say
 has meaning?
 Could it be that G-d edited what they said? If so, are all quotes edited? >>

Interesting question.  The above "principle" apparently underlies the
usual talmudic method of darshening individual words and letters.
However, historical consent to that rule among mefarshim is not at all
clear.  In the introduction to moreh nevuchim, the Rambam suggests that
some literary details in sifrei tanach may have no inherent meaning at
all, and that they are only added to "embellish" a biblical mashal.
Rather, the meaning comes from the presentation of a story as a whole.
In III:22-23, he uses Iyov as an example of this point, where he accepts
the view in bava batra 15a that Iyov- the person and the sefer- is an
allegory (lo haya v'lo nivra). Contrary to that gemara's conclusion, he
contends that details like the introductory pasuk identifying his name
and location ("eretz utz") exist only to add structure and realism to
the sefer.

Literarily (though perhaps not philosophically), this approach of the
Rambam probably has roots in the parshanut of Ibn Janach, R. Moshe Ibn
Ezra and other early Spanish Rishonim.  They understand literary
elements in the Torah/Nach like repetition, expressions (e.g. "lech
l'cha") etc. as often adding purely poetic or literary appeal.
Interestingly, Ibn Janach (in sefer harikmah, wilensky ed. pp. 293-300)
applies this to phrases spoken by people as well as G-d.

I think this general approach (though not without controversy) presents
a viable solution to your question: although not every word uttered by
biblical characters may have 'inherent' significance, an entire quote as
presented in the Torah certainly has meaning within its broader context.
For example, balak's conversations with bil'am may not need to contain
deep spiritual secrets (though i am no zohar expert), but the apparent
purpose of the narrative- bil'am's ultimate blessing of b'nei yisrael
etc.- clearly has meaning for us.  (along these lines, it's also
interesting to note that parshat bil'am is singled out by that gemara in
bava batra 15 as a distinct 'unit' within the Torah.)

I've usually understood the "editing" job of HKB"H (kivyachol) on the
Torah not as changing/adapting what people said (speech in other
languages notwithstanding- e.g. breishit 31:47 "y'gar sahaduta" remained
in Aramaic), but rather the selection and presentation of specific
elements or quotes which contribute to the messages intended.  There may
be more than that contained in any given pasuk of the Torah, but it is
somewhere to start.

I would appreciate further comment and any specific (early) sources
which formulate the "nothing extra" principle.

Shalom Ozarowski


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 16:31:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Sharing a Hotel Room

Carl Singer writes:
> I recall that there are issues about
> two adult males sleeping together in a room -- or am I heating up the
> "frummometer".

i believe the gemara's conclusion wrt two men sleeping together under a
tallis is that bnei yisrael are not to be suspected in such matters.  it
is true that if one were tumtum or androgunus, you have a real problem.



From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 19:17:00 -0700
Subject: Sheimot in Senge

I have a question--

I recently bought the book, _The Fifth Discipline_ for a class that I'm
taking.  It is by a [probably not Jewish] guy named Senge.  Anyway, I
was shocked to find that around page 160, he writes the four-letter
version of God's name, in Hebrew, to illustrate a point about some
acronym or other.  So, can I recycle/throw away this book?  (It's not
such a great book, so I don't plan to keep it.)  The intention of the
name is definitely as "God's name for Jews".  There must be a lot of
copies of this book floating around, as it is a trendy management kind
of book.  What are the issues?

--Leah Gordon


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabaskc@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 21:26:55 +0200
Subject: Shir HaShirim

      Binyomin Segal wrote:

      Shayna Kravetz asks an important question that really gets to the
      heart of the shir hashirim issue.

      > Pshat means the plain, literal meaning of the text, yes?

      The answer to this question is not as obvious or as straight
      forward as it seems. Ignoring issues of translation, what is the
      "simple, literal meaning of the text."

      To use Shayna's example, "letting a cat out of a bag" does not
      require owning a cat or a bag. On a standardized test, if you were
      asked "which of the following is most related to its meaning?" you
      would be marked wrong for "pet care" and marked right for "break
      of trust"

Binyomin's well chosen examples point out the difference between
"literal" and "simple" meanings. However, the simple meaning of a
metaphor is neither the literal translation, nor the "meaning" in the
sense of the intended understanding. The image of freeing the trapped
feline underscores the effectiveness of metaphor, because we can "feel"
the breach of trust in betraying a secret that would be lost without
understanding both the literal and intended meanings of the phrase.

If one has no notion of the intensity and variety of romantic love, then
the Artscroll approach makes some sense. If one senses the joys and
despair of human relations, and uses them as a metaphor for the exalted
love of G-d, then the "literal" translation will be understood for what
it is, a hint at a parallel experience on a higher plane. By ignoring
the literal, by fearing it, we will lose a depth of spirituality.

OTOH, a limited dependence on literal translations will always belittle
the enterprise of understanding.

Chaim Tabasky


From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 15:55:17 -0400 
Subject: Re: Tevilas Keilim in Restaurants/Hotels

<SShap23859@...> (Susan Shapiro) wrote:
> what if the hotel owner is NOT Jewish, and they have bought, or put
> aside Keilim especially for Kosher functions

In such a case there is clearly no mitzvah of tevillah at all.  It is
black letter law that utensils that do not belong to a Jew do not
require tevila.  If a goy buys new utensils for his home, and sets them
aside for the use of his Jewish friends, would anyone suggest that they
need tevila?  So why should the case of a hotel owner or caterer (where
some suggest that even a Jew need not tovel them) be worse?

Zev Sero

From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 12:20:45 +0100
Subject: RE: Tevilas Keilim in Restaurants/Hotels

In Vol 36 No 61, Susan Shapiro asked:
>With this answer, what if the hotel owner is NOT Jewish, and they have
>bought, or put aside Keilim especially for Kosher functions (where
>there is a reliable Orthhodox mashgiach)>??

According to Shulchan Aruch 120:8 and Rambam's Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros
17:6, a Jew who borrows vessels from a non-Jew may use them without
tevilah.  Seeing as if one eats in a hotel owned by a non-Jew and uses
his special kosher vessels, one is borrowing the vessels, and so they do
not need tevilah.

However, can one argue that the fee one pays for one's room includes
entitlement to use the special kosher vessels, in which case it could be
further argued that one is in effect renting the vessels; Darchai
Teshuvah 120:64 cites a ruling of the Radvaz that renting a vessel from
a non-Jew is considered a purchase, and so tevilah with a blessing is

Immanuel Burton.


End of Volume 36 Issue 67