Volume 36 Number 99
                 Produced: Mon Sep  2 21:04:02 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Body Temperature, Medical Progress. and Halacha
         [Andrew Klafter]
Geocentric vs. Heliocentric
         [Bernard Raab]
Hand Holding
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Is Hugging Rabinnic
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
The New Jewish Experiential Book
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Psalm 93
         [Larry Israel]
Schar Beteila
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Schar beteila
         [Chaim Mateh]
Third Perek of Eicha
         [Jay Kalish]
What have we come to? - response
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Andrew Klafter <KLAFTEAB@...>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2002 12:47:46 -0400 
Subject: Body Temperature, Medical Progress. and Halacha

>      From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
>      I just read that doctors have just shown that the average
>      temperature of humans is 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit and not the 98.6
>      degrees established (mistakenly) by a doctor in 1868, and which
>      came through unexamined for over 130 years.
>      Now, I know that there are certain Piskei Halachah regarding the
>      permissibility of taking medicine on Shabbat, and which specify
>      certain temperatures as justifying the taking of medicines.
>      Should this new information affect these Piskei Halachah?

	Practically speaking, I imagine that this new information about
body temperature could only have very limited impact on piskei halacha,
and only after this new information brings about a change the standard
of medical care for a given ailment.

	The halacha is structured by Torah/Talmudic concepts, which
never change, rather than by scientific medical knowledge which, by
definition, must change and always be open to change.

	Our current medical knowledge is that if a child complians of an
earache on Saturday afternoon, it is fine to wait until after Shabbos to
call the pediatrician, or even to wait until Sunday morning.  We then
call the pediatrician and report the child's temperature, whether the
child is producing wet diapers normally, eating normally, etc., and ask
the pediatrician for guidance.  Poskim are therefore are very unlikely
to tell you to commit Shabbos transgressions when a child who does not
look very ill complains of an earache.  In theory, however, if our
medical knowledge about otitis media (ear infections) would change at
some point in the future, and pediatricians would someday discover that
earlier intervention (such as several hours earlier) with antibiotics
can significantly reduce frequency of potentially dangerous
complications and sequelae, the poskim would certainly change their
guidance on whether a child who complains of an earache should be
brought to a doctor's office or emergnecy room on Shabbos.  There would
be no change in HALACHA in such a case; it is, rather, a change in
medical knowledge which would have an impact on the halkhic significance
of ear infections.

	So, the question really is how our new knoweldge that 98.2 is a
more accurate reflection of average body temperature will impact current
medical practice.  At first glance, I don't even see that this will have
much of a change.  It will not even cause us to give Motrin or Tylenol
more readily to patients with low grade fevers.  It will not even change
the definition of low grade fevers, fevers of unknown origin, etc.  Even
following the menstrual cycle with body temperature for fertility
planning is based on each patients INDIVIDUAL baseline body temperature,
not the overall average for the human species.

	One other halakha loosely related to body temperature is the
concept of Yad Soledes Bo (literally "the temperature at which the hand
is scalded," which halakhically means the temperature at which food is
cooked).  This has implications for the laws of Shabbos and Kashrut.
However, I recently reviewed some she'elot and teshuvot on the precise
temperature of yad soledes bo, and none of the sources invoked the
average body temperature as part of their reasoning.  Therefore, I don't
forsee any impact on these area of Jewish Law either.

	Only time will tell, and the best person I can think of to ask
about this would be Rabbi J. David Bleich, Rosh Kollel Elyon at Yeshivas
Yitzchak Elchanan (Y.U.), who is well informed about science, medicine,
and law, and who surveys, reviews, and contributes to the current
halakhic literature on a regular basis.

Nachum Klafter, MD
 University of Cincinnati


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 15:54:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Geocentric vs. Heliocentric

Many thanks to Mike Gerver (Vol 36 #91) for his erudite discussion of
the Lubavicher Rebbe's remark reported here earlier, which he concludes
by saying:

"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 valid."

This basically supports the validity of the Rebbe's statement (that if A
rotates around B, then you must accept that it is equally valid to say
that B rotates around A). Unfortunately, the Rebbe muddied the waters by
claiming that this is a result which follows from Quantum Physics (if
the reports are accurate about this point), and every comment submitted
to MJ in response has tried to explain it (or deny its validity) by
reference to modern physics. In truth, while the whole idea of various
"frames of reference" originated in the theory of Special Relativity,
the point that the Rebbe allegedly made is totally valid in classical
Newtonian physics.  In fact, his point is in practical use every day by
satellite designers, who commonly analyze and control satellite motion
in so-called "body-centered" coordinates. In this coordinate system, the
satellite is stationery and the planet (or moon) is in motion around the
satellite. Nothing unusual or strange about this to a satellite systems
designer or satellite operator.  

Kol Tuv
Bernie Raab (former satellite designer)


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 19:51:42 +0200
Subject: Hand Holding

Re the subject of physical contact even in a social setting from about
two months ago, I was reading through the Chida's Moreh B'Etzba and in
his comments on proper behavior, for the month of Adar (Siman Tet,
Shin-Chet) I found this, which I hope I translate properly:

[he is relating to the permission given to walk about on Purim with
womenfolk who are his relatives but not, as is the general social
custom, arm-in-arm]

"as it is written:"Yad l'yad lo yinakeh ra"
	(hand to hand he will not be absolved/escape from evil -
	Proverbs 11:21; 
	my note: Proverbs 16:5 has a similar but not exact expression;
	Rashi there writes: from Hashem's hand to the Tzadik's hand and
	this verse is used in Brachot 61A middle page to prohibit a man
	from paying off a debt to a woman just so he can gaze upon

and those who take down notes say: 14 multiplied by 14 (that is,
Yad/Yad) is in gematria 196 as the number of lo yinakeh (which is 196
too) and there is another hint that the verse numbers 254 and if you add
on "b'yad" (that is, in additon to "hand to hand" also "in hand") you
get 270 (254 + 16) which is ra (reish-ayin = evil) which means he has
fallen into the hand of the Other Side".


From: <rjhendel@...> (Russell Jay Hendel)
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 18:09:10 GMT
Subject: Is Hugging Rabinnic

At least 2 postings in v36n91 suggest that the prohibition of members of
the opposite sex hugging each other is rabinnic (Carl Singer and Andrew

Just wanted to clarify that there is a strong argument that hugging is
Biblically prohibited. Lv18-06 explicitly states --Every person: you
should not GET NEAR to forbidden relations This is followed by a chapter
of prohibitions (Lv18-07:end) of the form---Every person: You should not

Hence, the structure of this paragraph clearly shows TWO BIBLICAL

Consequently Rambam forcefully argues in the Laws of Forbidden
intercourse that ---IT IS PROHIBITED to do acts that bring one closer to
intimacy---such as kissing and hugging (benefitting from touch)---and a
person does this ...receives lashes.

True there are all types of provisios (eg Rambam classified kissing ones
sister as rabinnic) and there are other legal opinions (eg Ramban). But
the fact remains that the simple meaning of the verses coupled with
major Jewish authorities do seem to indicate that hugging where one
benefitted from flesh touch is Biblical (In passing I dont think this
should affect the search for rationality (as A Klafter pointed out)).

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/


From: David and Toby Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 20:43:51 +0300
Subject: The New Jewish Experiential Book

On Amazon, there is a listing for the following new book:

The New Jewish Experiential Book
by Bernard Reisman, Joel Reisman, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik

Is anyone familiar with it?

David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


From: Larry Israel <VSLARRY@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 02 15:14:01 +0300
Subject: Psalm 93

What is the proper pronunciation of the word (nun-alef-vav-heh) in the
last sentence, for those who pronounce Ashekanawzis? Is it na-a-vaw or
naw-a-vaw?  Some siddurim have a qometz, some a pasach. Every tanach I
looked at has a pasach.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 15:18:21 +0300
Subject: Re: Schar Beteila

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.made a statement, in reply to the following question:
> >How, then, is it permissible for
> >us to pay teachers or kollel students?
>[BK]        According to the Rambam it is not.  That is why he never 
>took money for any of his communal Jewish activities and that is why he
>was a doctor, becasue one needs a trade to earn a living.

My understanding is that these were two different periods in the
Rambam's life: him medical practice and his Jewish creativity.

Has anyone evidence to the contrary?


From: Chaim Mateh <chaim-m@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 22:43:30 +0300
Subject: Schar beteila

In V36 #90, Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:
>>How, then, is it permissible for us to pay teachers or kollel students?<<
<<According to the Rambam it is not.>>

Rambam hilchos Shmita veYovlos 3:10 says that those few who answer the
call of full-time Torah can do so and are considered like shevet Levy
who did not go to the army and were supported by the rest of Klal

<<That is why he never took money for any of his communal Jewish
activities and that is why he was a doctor, becasue one needs a trade to
earn a living.>>

Perhaps that is why he was a doctor.  OTOH, perhaps he was a doctor
because he saw that he had a good knack for it and therefore felt he
should do chessed that way.

<<This notion of supporting kollel students is a recent phenomenon.  All
of the great sages of the Talmud were simple laborers, except for a few
who were independently wealthy and didn't have to work.>>

The Yissochor/Zevulun phenomenon is anything but recent.  The Tanna
Shimon ach Azarya (Mishna Zevachim 2a) was not independantly wealthy but
was supported by his brother.

The Chofetz Chaim (Bi'ur Halacha in Mishna Brura 156:1) says that that
which the Tur and Shulchan Aruch said that "any Torah that does not have
with it work, will in the end be battel", was said "for the general
population that isn't zocheh to reach the high level of being osek in
Torah... and Hashem will definately provide for them parnassa."

Kol Tuv,
Visit Beit Chatam's website at:


From: Jay Kalish <jay@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 18:32:30 +0200
Subject: Third Perek of Eicha

One of my Yerushalmi neighbors, of the famous Zonnenfeld family, taught
me the special nusach for the third perek, which he described as a
minhag in Jerusalem.  He also mentioned the reason as that this perek
details utter despair.  The nusach itself is more of crying out in
anguish.  Let's all hope and pray that this is merely an academic
discussion and that we will not be reading Eicha on Tisha B'Av any more.

Kol tuv,
Jay Kalish


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 16:55:57 +0400
Subject: What have we come to? - response

When I complained about the fact that a Meah Shearim baguette place has
sitting only for men, Akiva Atwood responded:

"The REASON is to prevent male/female mixing.

> My question: where is there any place in Yiddishkeit (at least the
> Yiddishkeit I grew up in) for such blatant discrimination against
> Jewish women?

Well -- Aliyot to Torah, Tefillin, Davenning on the *men's* side,
rabbinic ordination, etc
If you accept the idea of sexual segregation, then what's the problem?
If it had said "seating for WOMEN only" how would you react?


I believe that with all respect to Akiva - a friend going back many
years - he has missed my point. I have no problem with separate tables
for men's and women's seating in Meah Shearim. To equate this
distinction with Aliyot, etc., is in my opinion, totally
inappropriate. Aliyot, etc., are Halachically-dictated constraints, NOT
storekeeper-ordained strictures. And if there is room only for members
of one sex to be seated (for Tzniyut reasons), why should this be for
men and not for women? Couldn't this just be a teeny-weeny bit related
to the second-class citizenship that women "enjoy" in many Chaderi

I would not mind at all if this facility had separate tables for men and
women (there were two tables there). I minded the fact that what this
storekeeper was doing was "putting women in their place" as clearly
second-class citizens. To me, the best analogy to what happened in Meah
Shearim would be the pre-civil-rights South of the US, where seating was
reserved for whites. How would Akiva feel about such a distinction?
Maybe, indeed, what we need here is a Charedi Rosa Parks to work on
eliminating those restrictions which are not mandated by Halachah ...

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 36 Issue 99