Volume 36 Number 97
                 Produced: Mon Sep  2  7:28:57 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Harrisburg, PA
         [Carl Singer]
Hotel Room Locks - update
         [Caren and Steve Weisberg]
Internet ban
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Rabbi Birnbaum z"l
         [Rose Landowne]
Reason for a Mitzvah (2)
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman, Carl Singer]
         [Josh Backon]


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 19:29:10 +0200
Subject: Gedosha

Rav Yehonatan Chipman noted that Birnbaum had made a correction in

      the third blessing of Birkat Hamazon, where in a footnote (not in
      the text) he changes "kedoshenu" to "gedoshenu" (as in the
      adjective "gadush," meaning full, overflowing), making the phrase
      into a series of synonyms ("yadkha he-mele'ah hepetuha hagedosha
      vehar'hava...").  Gd's Holiness is irrelevant in this particular

I myself had once brought home to my daughter a copy of some handwritten
medieval text in which "gedosha" did actually appear although when, in
preparation for her wedding Birchon gift for the guests, we couldn't
find the source.  She had it printed up as gedosha anyway so maybe a new
tradition was initiated.

Yisrael Medad
(and may the learning from this list be for a zchut for the ilui nishmato
of Rabbi Dr. Meyer Simcha Feldblum z"l)


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2002 23:02:45 EDT
Subject: Re: Harrisburg, PA

      From: <Sandyeye@...>

      Harrisburg, PA which is about 30 miles from Lancaster, has an
      Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel Congregation, 2500 N. Third St.
      Harrisburg PA 17110 ( 717 238-0763).  Kesher Israel has two
      minyanim in the morning 6:45 AM and 8:30 AM plus mincha and
      ma'ariv everyday.  On Shabbos we have a very large congregation,
      lively services and a Kiddush at the conclusion on the Morning
      Service.  Kesher Israel Congregation invites all to join us for
      any Service or we'd love to haver you for a Shabbos.  Contact
      Rabbi Schertz at 717.236-1959 or Cantor Rockoff at 717.234-5995 (
      Please do not call after 9:00 PM)

As someone who for over ten years spent at least one Shabbos a year as a
guest in Harrisburg (while at the nearby Army War College) let me add
that Harrisburg is a warm and friendly town with many, many wonderful,
welcoming balabatim.  It's always a pleasure to visit there.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Caren and Steve Weisberg <nydecs@...>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2002 11:54:22 +0300
Subject: Hotel Room Locks - update

Recently, there was discussion here regarding hotel room locks on

For the traveller in Israel the following might be helpful:

Machon Tzomet (Alon Shvut) gives an ishur to hotels based on their
having studied specific manufacturers. I was told you can ask the hotel
if they have such an ishur.

As has been pointed out here (and something new to me) substituting a
mechanical key alone does not necessarily solve the problem. The ishur
says this lock design is OK with the mechanical key.

Unfortunately, they don't publish a list of hotels that they
checked. The only hotel he knew of by name is the Laromme/Inbal.

Steve Weisberg


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Subject: Internet ban

A friend of mine recently mentioned that a friend of his in Kiryat Sefer
(Israel) no longer had an email account, because the rabbis there
forbade it... this even though he is an accountant who frequently has to
exchange data with collegues and clients in the U.S.  According to this
friend, all his exchanges are now done via fax.  I don't know exactly
what they send back and forth, but the image in my mind is of someone
printing an Excel spreadsheet, faxing it, and someone else ripping it
off their fax machine and then laboriously typing it in again on the
other side... (shudder)

This recalled to mind the "Internet Ban" of about 2 1/2 years ago and
wondered what had become of it in general, so I did a little web
searching (the irony of which did not escape me).

The first thing that hit me was that, altough quite a few news outlets
had picked up on the story at the time (it seems to have been issued in
late 1999), practically nothing has been written about it since.  That
makes me curious as to what effect it has had, if any.

Another few tidbits I gleaned ... many interviewees from stories at the
time confessed that they had no plans to change their surfing habits,
and a spokesman at Netvision, the top Internet Service Provider in
Israel at the time (probably still is) said they had noticed no
reduction in new accounts or increase in cancellations from
religious/hereidi areas.  Also one newsgroup post of the time claimed
that Rav Elyashev's signature had been forged on the decree, even though
his was the top signature.

Any other info out there, anecdotal, official, rabbinnic, or otherwise?


From: <ROSELANDOW@...> (Rose Landowne)
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 07:49:46 EDT
Subject: Re: Rabbi Birnbaum z"l

Rabbi Birnbaum z"l lived in Manhattan and was a prominent member of the
Jewish Center on 86 St.  He also did a translation of the Chumash for
the wider public, in which he summarized meaning of a few pesukim
together, rather than a literal pasuk by pasuk translation.

Rose Landowne


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 15:08:59 +0300
Subject: Re: Reason for a Mitzvah

>From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
>      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

Ben Katz, in MJ v36n87, gave a good answer to this on a certain
theoretical level.  I would like to elaborate and add several other

     1.  Even without Maimonideanism, what is forbidden is to make ones
observance conditional upon understanding the reason for a given
mitzvah, not the quest for understanding per se.  I don't know of any
school of Jewish thought which in principle abstains from discussing the
reasons for the mitzvit.  In fact, there is an entire branch of Torah
thought, with a vast literature, known as ta'amei ha-mitzvot, devoted to
this subject.

     2.  In dialogue with others, one should try to make ones religion
make as much sense at possible. It's not clear whether the person asking
the question was a Jew or a non-Jew.  But in either event, it seems
obvious that one should try to give a coherent answer to such a
question. Possibly there may even be an element of Kiddush Hashem.
(Remember the verse in Vaethanan: "This is surely a wise and
understanding people... that has such righteous laws and
ordinances...."; Deut 4:6-8) Particularly in the modern world, with its
sceptical intellectual climate, the idea of accepting laws purely on
faith, as described above, cannot be the starting point, but is only a
conclusion that a person may reach during the process of learning to
love the Torah and mitzvot.

     3.  In any event, I would draw a distinction between the reasons
for the mitzvot and the reasons for the halakhah. The entire Talmud, and
much of the halakhic literature, is concerned with explaining the
interrelationship among the various halakhot, between them and the
biblical verses from which they are derived, and in showing how the
Torah as an entirety -- Written and Oral Torah -- is a consistent,
logical, harmonious whole.  To that end, it is both permssible and
desirable that one enage in explanation and understanding.  I would add
that many if not most of the laws about hugging and other physical
contact between the sexes are derabanan.  There is a debate on this
point between Rambam and Ramban, but even the Rambam lists as de'oraita
only explicitly sexual activities, those defined as done out of desire
and as likely to lead to actual intercourse, but not all forms of
contact between the sexes (see Issurei Biah Ch. 21 for details).  I
think one can say that the Rabbis always intended their edicts to be
understood rationally, although there too their words carry with them

      4.  The most important point: of all the groups of laws in
halakhah, this group davka is one that most reflects the Rabbis' wisdom,
and that their rulings are based upon a clear and sober understanding of
human nature-- viz, how close to the surface and easily stilulated our
sexuality is (one of the mishnayot uses the simile of "fire in flax
bundles"), the tendency to make rationalizations, etc.  As someone put
it earlier in this thread, quoting Rabbi Riskin, "It won't lead
anywhere" are "famous last words."

    The real problem, as I see it, is that much of Western society today
doesn't agree with the prior assumption of all our rules about distance
between the sexes: namely, that casual sex is a bad thing, to be
strenuously avoided, and that rules intended to prevent it are in order.
For many secular Americans, the very concept of illicit sex doesn't
really exist, or is at best extremely vague and waffling.  Even liberal
religious groups, such as the liberal Protestant churches and
non-Orthodox Jews, advocate an ethics of considerable permissiveness, in
the guise of "responsible decision making," "relationship-defined
ethics," or other vague concepts that allow the individual to what he
wants (provided it's done "responsibly," "lovingly," and other catch
words that a person can always convince himself of).  Every movie and
televison series accepts and promulgates this "free" sexual ethic, the
idea that sex is a "private activity of consenting adults." (Perhaps one
source of this confusion is the idea, valid idea in itself, that the
State should not interfere in private sexual behavior -- i.e., that
fornication and even adultery should not be criminalized.  This is then
extended to say that no group -- e.g, religious bodies-- should impose
any normative, ethical statements about sex altogether.)  The basic idea
is that there is something sacred, awesome, commanding reverence, about
an act which can create life, one in which two people are more exposed
and vulnerable to one another than perhaps in any other situation in
life.  Hence, this calls for restriction and modesty and forbearance.
It is that axiom that probably cannot be proven by argumentation, and
that calls for what might be called an "a priori" faith commitment. 

 Rav Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem

From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 18:22:10 EDT
Subject: Re: Reason for a Mitzvah

Dear Rabbi Chipman

As I stated in my response note to Ben -- I strongly disagree -- this
discussion has completely lost the context of the initial question.  You
are in a business situation and someone (non-Jewish) is casually asking
you a question.  It is NOT appropriate to quote Rashi and Tosofos, etc.
But when asked a casual question in a business context it's much more
appropriate to tell someone what time it is -- than to tell them how to
build a watch.

It's a complete waste of time and can lead to other problematic
situations to start digging into religion when involved in this business

I'm reminded of the story of the child who wanted to know "where did I
come from" -- the parent provided a clinical response (sperm, egg, etc.)
and the little child re-asked, NO, did I come from New York or from New

Carl Singer


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Tue,  6 Aug 2002 2:46 +0200
Subject: Temperature

I'll summarize the relevant halachot from the Nishmat Avraham Orach
Chaim 328 #24 and the Sefer Refuat HaShabbat 33, Chelek Bet 15-19.

The Shulchan Aruch OC 328:7 indicates that we are to be "mechalel
shabbat" for someone "she'yesh bo kadachat cham b'yoter ..". The Iggrot
Moshe OC I 129 indicates that the cutoff point is 101 degrees F (37.9
C). Ditto the Yesodei Yeshurin IV p. 246. Those who are machmir that
even at 38C one is permitted only to violate an issur d'rabbanan (see:
Tzitz Eliezer VIII 15 15 perek 7 oht 3). Only when one discerns a *high*
temperature (by the way the patient looks) does the subject fall in the
category of *choleh she'yesh bo sakana* (Shmirat Shabbat K'Hilchata
32:11 s"k 1).  In infants and in the elderly, even if the temperature is
not high but the cause is unknown, the subject falls in the category of
choleh she'yesh bo sakanah (Shmirat Shabbat k'Hilchata).

The Sefer Refuat haShabbat goes into much more detail. In general, we are
mechalel shabbat for a temperature in:
a) infant
b) adults where temperature is over 38C and is due to an inflammatory
c) temperature over 38.5C when due to influenza or other infectious cause
[HERE THE SUBJECT IS IN THE CATEGORY OF *choleh SHE'EIN bo sakana and is thus
permitted to take medications]
d) temperature over 40C in a patient with an impaired immune system or to
an infection.

In general, for a *makeh shel challal* we are mechalel shabbat. Thus,
pyrexia from any internal disorder (see below) would demand immediate
chillul shabbat.  For example: giant cell arteritis, drug reaction,
familial Mediterranean fever, pulmonary embolism,hypersensitivity
vasculitis, lymphoma, SLE, hypernephroma, post-trauma, atrial myxoma,
bladder infection, Borrelia infection, collagen vascular disease, fungal
disease, endocarditis, intra-abdominal abscess, infections of the liver
(pyogenic hepatic abscess).

Use your *seichel*: but if the person looks like he needs urgent medical
care, don't hesitate; call a doctor. And the faster one does this HAREI

Dr. Josh Backon
Hebrew University
Faculty of Medicine


End of Volume 36 Issue 97