Volume 36 Number 91
                 Produced: Thu Aug  8  6:02:37 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Carl Singer]
Benefitting from non-Jew's work on Shabbat
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Geocentric vs. Heliocentric
         [Mike Gerver]
Iggeres Hakodesh - english translation
         [Meira Welt]
Protesting a Rabbi's Drasha
         [Binyomin Segal]
Reason for a Mitzvah
         [Carl Singer]
Reasons for a Mitzvah
         [Andrew Klafter]
Shir Hashirim
         [Yehuda Landy]
third Perek of Eikha
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman]
Two bachelors in the same room
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman]


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 17:35:34 EDT
Subject: Re: Acceleration

      Acceleration is the second derivative, not the third as you
      incorrectly state.  The first derivative is velocity; the second
      is acceleration; the third is jerk.

Yes -- I am suffering from derivative inflation -- and bad re-editing of
my note.


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002 23:11:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Benefitting from non-Jew's work on Shabbat

>>Otherwise, going to a goy in a street and telling him that the
>>TV volume is on high but you can't turn it off becuase it is
>>a holy day would be forbidden to do.

>correct. this is forbidden

This seems stricter than I remember the halacha being.  Is this the only
accepted sheeta?  I thought that *hinting* (which is what is described
in the "goy in the street" story) would be permitted.

You spoke later in your post about the case of "tircha d'tzibura"
permitting a *direct* request (not hinting) but in other cases you seem
to imply that even hinting is forbidden.  I definitely remember that
there are cases where hinting is allowed, but you seem to leave hinting
out entirely.


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 09:03:16 EDT
Subject: Geocentric vs. Heliocentric

Alan Rubin asks, in v36n83,

> Furthermore is not the special theory of relativity according to which
>  bodies with large masses cause distortion of spacetime in keeping with
>  the heliocentric rather than the geocentric model?

I think you mean the general theory of relativity. But actually the
whole point of the general theory is that it DOES allow you to treat an
accelerating frame of reference on the same footing as a
non-accelerating frame of reference, unlike the special theory of
relativity, which only considers non-accelerating frames. If you put
yourself in the frame of reference of the sun, then the earth is
accelerating as it goes around the sun, and its acceleration is caused
by the curvature of space-time associated with the sun's gravitational
field. If you put yourself in the earth's frame of reference, then the
earth is not accelerating (i.e. you would not feel any acceleration if
you were traveling around the sun in the earth's orbit at the same
velocity as the earth, since you would be in free fall around the sun),
and spacetime is locally flat (ignoring the curvature of space-time
caused by the earth's gravitational field). However, the curvature of
some other parts of spacetime around the earth's orbit would be greater,
in this frame of reference, than in the sun's frame of
reference. General relativity tells you how to transform from one frame
of reference to the other, and what happens to the curvature of
spacetime when you do that, but both frames of reference are equally

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Meira Welt <meirawelt@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002 21:53:38 +0000
Subject: Re: Iggeres Hakodesh - english translation

Seymor J. Cohen translated "the holy letter" and provided mareh mekomot
& different manuscript variations. my edition is from ktav publishing
house 1976.

meira welt


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002 17:02:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Protesting a Rabbi's Drasha

> Last week I stopped into a shul to daven Mincha.  Before Alenu, the
> Rabbi got up to give what I thought would be a brief d'var Torah.
> Instead, he began lecturing on the need to destroy enemies of the Jewish
> people, begining with Arabs but then going on to include Jews (!) who,
> as far as I could tell, didn't agree with his point of view.
> Many people hissed, and a few (including me) walked out.  My question
> is, what is the appropriate halachic response to such a "lecture"?  What
> listener's response(s) are considered mandatory halachically?  Or
> optional?  [I leave aside what the speaker's obligations are---my issue
> is what obligations those in the audience have.]

Here are my thoughts in brief about this important issue.

The first two questions are:
1 - Is it a position one with which YOU disagree, or is it one that is

2 - What are the relative positions of authority of the speaker and

If the position is one you disagree with but is considered tenable, you
would only have the obligation to protest if you had authority over the
speaker (ie you were the speakers teacher or parent). Further, if the person
speaking was the halachik authority for that synagogue, you would not be
allowed to protest. (This does not mean you must agree, but while sitting in
that rabbi's shul, you may not do anything to indicate you disagree - it
should be no different than any other custom that the rabbi is authorized to

If the position is one that is untenable then theoretically you have an
obligation to protest. The rules of how to correctly fulfill that Torah
obligation are open to some debate, but I believe that many poskim hold that
today we are not capable of doing it appropriately, and so should not do it
at all.

Of course deciding what is tenable or not is open to "some" debate. In
general, I think we have lots of reason to take a very broad interpretation
of tenable, and so protest of a rabbi's position would, I think, rarely be

Contact me via my NEW address


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 17:34:40 EDT
Subject: Re: Reason for a Mitzvah

      I offer no opinion on the underlying question, but your argument
      is flawed.  The prohibition of eating nonkosher animals is a
      Scriptural prohibition, whereas the prohibition of hugging members
      of the opposite sex is a Rabbinic prohibition.  Rabbinic
      prohibitions exist for known reasons, and it is never
      inappropriate to ask what those reasons are, or to answer such
      questions when asked.

Jay -- I don't believe the distinction between a D'oraisa and a
D'Rabbonim is relevant to my general discussion of ascribing a reason
for a mitzvah is a social setting.  The situation isn't one of Torah
study.  Someone in a business / social setting is asking you why -- the
right answer is, in effect, "The Bible says so."  Tell people what time
it is -- not how to build a watch.

Good Shabbos,



From: Andrew Klafter <KLAFTEAB@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 17:38:02 -0400
Subject: Reasons for a Mitzvah

>>      I was having a discussion with someone at work and the question
>>      came up of why Orthodox Jews are not allowed to have physical
>>      contact (specifically hugs) with members of the opposite sex.  I
>>      explained that it was to prevent temptation of leading to
>>      anything more, but the person did not find that sufficient.

>Why is an explanation necessary, even appropriate? -- Do you need to
>explain that you keep kosher because in the desert heat the
>"Israelites" would get sick from eating traif animals -- or some
>similar balderdash?  To ascribe a "technical" reason behind a mitzvah
>in a way demeans the mitzvah.

I think the question about physical contact is an important one, and
should be taken seriously.  This response is incorrect, and inadequate.
It is true that there are certain biblical commandments which have not
revealed reasons ("chukim").  Maimonides says about these commandments
that it is preferable to try to make such commandments as understandable
as possible, keeping in mind that the ultimate "reason" for these
commandments is above human understanding, and that such commandments
must ultimately be performed as an act of submission to G-d's authority.

However other commandments ("mishpatim" and "ediyot") DO have reasons
for their observance, and these reasons are revealed in the Oral Law and
Written Torah.  For such commandments, it is necessary to have the
reason in mind when we perform the observance.  For example, when we
give tzedakka it is proper to be motivated to help fellow Jews.  In the
Shemona Perakim, chapter 6, Maimonidies points out that submission to
G-d is an appropriate attitude only for the supra-rational commandments

Furthermore, all rabbinic laws (including the laws forbidding touch)
have specific,human reasons which are NOT above human understanding.
Therefore, the Rabbinic prohibition requires explanation in human terms.
One answer to the question about laws regulating touch is the following:
Human sexuality is so important, so sacred according to Judaism that it
is carefully safeguarded.  Sex has the capacity for creating holiness,
but also for defilement.  Our laws are designed to keep the Jewish
people holy and prevent defilement.  We also believe that human touch
has immense power, and we avoid human touch and we save it for
circumstances where intense passions are appropriate (i.e. marriage.)
The fact that hugs and kisses seem like no big deal in contemporary
Western culture is only because that culture is so insensitive and
unattuned to the spiritual ramifications of human intimacy.  Our Torah
and Rabbinic laws help us cultivate a sensitivity to sex, speech,
eating, relationships, music, ethics, and all other aspects of our
humanity to a degree that results in a rich and complex life of holiness
and righteousness.

Have a good Shabbos, Nachum


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002 22:36:17 +0300
Subject: Re: Shir Hashirim

> From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> As the fellow who started this discussion by (not so) innocently asking
> if there was anyone else out there who is incensed at the Artscroll
> "translation" of Shir Hashirim (11 June 2002), I have been really
> gratified, and not at all surprised, by the quality of the
> submissions. However, Andrew Klafter's thoughtful and insightful essay
> on the subject (MJ 36/69) really hit the nail on the head
> IMHO. Moreover, he was the only one who suggested what I have suspected
> all along to be the true motive of the Artscroll editors:

Dear Sir

	I must take exception not only to your conclusion but also to
the approach.  Instead of blasting Artscroll for being frummer than
Shlomo Hamelech I think we should all be blasted for being frummer than
Shlomo Hamelech. After all no one among us would dare compose similar
poetry in honor of Hashem's relationship to the Jewish people.
Furthermore, if someone did compose a similar piece we would all dismiss
it as an erotic piece of art.

	The Gemara in Succah (51b) relates that when the mingling of the
sexes in the azarah became problematic, during simchas beis hashoeavha
there was need to create a mechitzah for prevention. Chazal didn't
consider themselves FRUMMER than their forefathers who did not have a
mechitzah, but rather realized that the situation requires a change.

	Translating Shir Hashirim literally nowadays will not accomplish
much. To the contrary it will diminish the value of the sefer in the
eyes of most people. Not because we are frummer than Shlomo Hamelech but
rather because we have a corrupt trend of thought compared to that of
Shlomo Hamelech. Let's stop fooling ourselves.

	Interestingly, the Rashbam in His peirush to Vayeshev (Breishis
37:1) relates that he discussed with Rashi his grandfather the issue of
different types of peirushim. He writes that Rashi agreed with him that
if he had the time he would write a new peirush fitting the modern

	Finally, I presume that the issue of the translation was
discussed with the Gedolei Torah and the current translation is based on
their ruling. Instead of blasting it, let us try to understand why this
was necessary.

Yehuda Landy


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 10:53:07 +0300
Subject: Re: third Perek of Eikha

    Just to add my two cents: In the United States, I have heard the
special tune for the third perek of Eikah used in places as diverse as
Camp Massad and the Bostoner Rebbe's; in Israel, it is regarded as
"Nigun Amerika'i."  But people, at least in my old shul in Ramat Eshkol,
did get used to it.  I can't believe that its origin is American.  It
must go back somewhere to Europe -- but that requires a Jewish
musicologist or ethnologist to say for sure.  

Yehonatan Chipman,


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 09:48:05 +0300
Subject: Re:  Two bachelors in the same room

Shmuel Himelstein wrote: <<
For all those who question the propriety of having two bachelors sleep
in the same room, I have but one question: what do you think the
sleeping arrangements are in most Yeshivah dormitories (except those
which have three or more males in the same room)?  >>

To which Shlomo Godick replied (v36n79):
<<Interestingly, many (if not most) Israeli yeshivot have a policy of
three or more bachurim per room, for this very reason (in addition to
the economic considerations).>>

What is your source for stating that this is the reason?  Have you been
explictly told this by rashei yeshivot, or is it your own assumption /
speculation.  See my own forthcoming posting on this subject, and all
the mefarshim around Even Ha-Ezer 24.  

Yehonatan Chipman


End of Volume 36 Issue 91