Volume 37 Number 40
                 Produced: Fri Oct 18  6:19:59 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halachic Date Line (2)
         [Steven White, Zev Sero]
Jews , Authoritative Rabbis and Segregation (was Restaurant Sign)
         [Michael Rogovin]
Lashon Hara
         [Nachum Klafter]
Mei Raglayim
         [Jack Wechsler]
Pruzbul as legal fiction?
         [Ben Katz]
Travel on (or close to) Shabbat and Yom Tov
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Two additional points on the dateline
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steven White)
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 15:43:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Halachic Date Line

Zev Sero (<zev.sero@...>) wrote:
> <StevenJ81@...> (Steven White) wrote:
> > the halachic line of reasoning that people might establish Shabbat
> > in distant communities as if in a desert by counting days.
> This line of reasoning is often cited, but there's a major problem
> with it.  It is simply not true that someone lost in the desert can
> simply count days, and keep shabbat on the 7th while doing melacha on
> the other 6.  The law is that such a person must keep shabbat every
> day (since it's a doubt about a Torah law), and on each day,
> *including the 7th* he must do exactly enough work to sustain his life
> for that day.  [remainder truncated]

I believe that's true only if he has lost count of days.  I believe if
he is lost (so does not know if there are surrounding communities on
which to rely), but has been keeping a reliable count of days by
sunrise/sunset cycles (and, say, marking them off on the calendar he is
carrying), he is permitted to assume his count is correct, without
reference to whether he has crossed a line somewhere. 

Steven White
Highland Park, NJ

From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 16:11:04 -0400
Subject: RE: Halachic Date Line

Steven White <StevenJ81@...> wrote:
> I believe that's true only if he has lost count of days.

Of course.  If he knows what day it is, he has no problem, and therefore
there's nothing for the gemara to discuss.

> I believe if he is lost (so does not know if there are surrounding
> communities on which to rely), but has been keeping a reliable count
> of days by sunrise/sunset cycles (and, say, marking them off on the
> calendar he is carrying), he is permitted to assume his count is
> correct, without reference to whether he has crossed a line somewhere.

Begging the question.  There is no source for this assertion - it is
what you (or rather those you are quoting) are trying to prove by
analogy to the previous case.  That is, the idea that there might be a
line that he could have crossed, and that he needs to know what the
surrounding communities are doing, is a modern speculation, and this
discussion is about whether it is true; it certainly isn't in the

Zev Sero


From: <rogovin@...> (Michael Rogovin)
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 16:20:55 -0500
Subject: Jews , Authoritative Rabbis and Segregation (was Restaurant Sign)

A quick comment on Chaim Mateh's post:

> if the store owner has Rabbinic backing for his actions, then he's
> correct (from his perspective) in his actions.  I don't think the
> Jewish segregationists(if there were any Jewish ones) had valid and
> authoritative Rabbinic backing for their actions.

The question of what is "valid and authoritative" rabbinic backing is a
difficult one. Who is to say what is valid and authoritative. Today, at
least in the US, the presumption is that if you are to the right of me,
you are presumed valid; if to the left, presumed not so. Thus, many
legitimate differences in halachic thought, practice or psak found in
so-called modern or centrist orthodoxy are deemed illegitimate by the
"yeshiva" or hareidi community. At the same time, what should be
questionable practices or beliefs on the right are deemed legitimate,
even if not personally followed. One person's heretic is another's

In the mid-1800s at least one prominent Rabbi in New York publicly gave
halachic support to the institution of slavery as practiced in the
United States at the time. Of course they were attacked by the more
enlightend (non-religious) Jewish leadership. I don't know whether other
orthodox rabbis took positions in favor of abolition or not. There were
few orthodox rabbis in the American South through the 1960s so I do not
know about any halachic support for post-Civil War segregation (any
historians out there?).  Who is to say that these positions were
legitimate and authoritative or not? While I know little about the Rabbi
in New York, I think his reasoning was flawed, both factually and
halachicly, but his followers certainly thought he was legitimate.  

Michael Rogovin


From: Nachum Klafter <KLAFTEAB@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 14:56:23 -0400
Subject: RE: Lashon Hara

>>Is it forbidden to talk about another person's negative qualities to a
>>trusted colleague for a constructive purpose, such as learning how to
>>deal with that person better, or is that lashon hara?

>This sounds like an issue that I heard Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz shlita
>deal with on one of his tapes.  That is, how to deal with L.H. and
>children.  Scenario - your child comes home from cheder and starts to
>tell you about a fight that he had with his (ex) best friend.  Do you
>change the subject?  Do you listen?  The issue gets into some grey
>areas that are not explicitly dealt with in the Chofetz Chaim, but come
>up regularly with parents.
>Anyway, l'aniyot dati, your question sounds like one that is fraught
>with danger. Proceed with caution and wise counsel!

I am reluctant to take a stand against piety and caution, but I am
troubled by this response.  If a child comes home to his mother or
father and is upset about being mistreated by a fellow student, it would
say, "Stop speaking Loshon Hora."  Our children need to talk to us about
what is happening in our lives.  They need to vent their frustration and
anger, and the need to see how we react or what we advise in order to
learn how to negotiate the complex interpersonal conflicts that plague
the human condition.

If a friend turns to you and says, "I really need your advice about how
to handle this situation.  Mr. So-and-So is doing X,Y, or Z," this would
be a situation where there is a to'eles in listening to the Loshon Hora
and helping out one's friend.  Scrupulous Jews may wish to try to speak
in such a manner that specific names are not mentioned, or specific
behaviors are described only generally and not specified in detail.
However, there are some scenarios where it is crucial to tell all the
specifics and identities.  Without knowing all the dynamics involved, it
is impossible to give good advice.

Your question is NOT "fraught with danger"!  By all means, find a person
whose judgment you trust and who can be trusted to keep everything you
say confidential, and ask for advice.  This is the approach of gedolei
yisroel.  It is not gossip, it is ETZA (counsel/advice).  (If a rabbi
tells you you are not allowed to do this, find a new rabbi.)

-nachum klafter


From: Jack Wechsler <wechsler@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 22:50:11 +0200
Subject: Mei Raglayim

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi wrote (Volume 37 Number 34) "It is
therefore totally within the realm of reason and practicality that the
catalyst/chemical/ingredient enumerated in the manufacture of ktoret is
plain old urine."

First of all we all know it states quite catagorically in "pitom
haktoret"(Talmud Bavli Ktitot 6,a.) that "mei raglayim was not allowed
in the production of ktoret because it was not allowed in the azara of
the temple.I would like to refer you to Zohar Amar's book "Sefer
Haktoret" (in ivrit) which in my humble opinion is one of the most
comprehensive books ever written on this subject.  In the section on
"mei raglayim" page 151 Amar mentions that whilst urine was used
extensively in talmudic times -see mishne in Nida 9,6-7-washing
clothes,washing hair etc.it would be unthinkable to use it in the
production of something that would then be used in the holy temple.Hence
the Machzor Vitri gives two explanations of what this "mei raglayim"
possibly was.

1) It could have been a weed plant called such because people would
simply tread on it.If the juice from this plant was extracted it could
be used for soaking the "Tziporen"(whatever that was??) to make it
pungent.But as mentioned before people would trample it ,it's use in the
production of ktoret was prohibited.Sometimes associated with the plant
called portulaca oleracea .See also mishne Shviyit 7,1 and mishne Uktzin

2) It was a stream /river that was near a place called Ein Regel in
Nachal kidron near Jerusalem.This stream was used by numerous people to
wash clothes in.The lowely status of the washerwoman/man was the reason
for prohibiting the water from this stream in the production of
ktoret.This reason is somewhat unacceptable because a number of talmide
chachamim were of that proffession.

Rav Yakkov Emden however seems to be of the opinion like yourself that
"mei raglayim " is indeed urine and because of it's strong unpleasant
smell was not only prohibited in the production of ktoret but also for
example it was prohibited to clean a shofar with urine see Talmud Bavli
-Rosh Hashanah 33,a.

Jack Wechsler


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 13:37:10 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Pruzbul as legal fiction?

>From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
>Halachic thought, as I understand it, is that what Hillel did was merely
>to instutionalize a method which is built into the basic Halachah
>itself, namely the fact that debts under the jurisdiction of the Beit
>Din are not covered by the release of debts in the Shmittah year. In no
>way was his approach a method of bypassing the Torah law by resorting to
>any legal fiction.

        If this is the case, why does sefer Devarim warn us about people who
will not lend in the 6th year?

>Along the same lines, the sale of Chametz prior to Pesach is not meant
>to be a legal fiction at all, and the Jew selling it must be willing to
>deliver all the Chametz to the non-Jew who bought it if the non-Jew
>pays the market value of the Chametz.

        This is a very complex matter and evolved over centuries.
Initially all the chametz actually had to be delivered to the non-Jew.
It was only when this became too onerous that the rules became more
liberal.  (Also, Jews, believe it or not, were prominent in the saloon
business and something had to be done about their stocks of liquor
through the holiday.)  I personally know of at least one Jew who
believes it is too lenient a kula to get around "chametz sheavar alav
hapesach" and actually gets rid os all his chametz prior to pesach.

>Incidentally, an example of a legal fiction, from English law, is that
>centuries ago legal documents in England had to name the town in which
>they were located as well as the river along which the town was
>situated. If a town was not situated near a river, the contract would
>say "in the town of ... along the river ....", even if that particular
>river might be miles away.

        a better example of a legal fiction is a corporation - the idea
that a corporation exists as an entity independent of its
owners/stockholders.  that is why if a co. gets sued, only the assets of
the co. are at risk, not those of the owners.  (this is why in England
cos. are called "limited" because of their limited liability)

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: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 22:30:39 +0200
Subject: Re: Travel on (or close to) Shabbat and Yom Tov

Yehonatan Chipman wrote 

>Rav Soloveitchik once commented on this at a shiur:  "The modern
>Orthodox Jew knows how to keep Shabbas, but he doesn't know about  erev
>Shabbas.  He rushes into Shabbas at 80 miles an hour...."
>   The idea of having adequate time to prepare oneself for Shabbat --
>not only to shower and change ones clothes for shul, but also
>spiritually, to get into the Shabbat mode, and mood -- is very

This is reflected in the Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 30:2), who describes
the careful preparations one makes for the Shabbat, which constitute
kavod (honoring the) Shabbat, after which "one sits seriously and
anticipates greeting Shabbat, as one would go to greet a king".

I believe that the Rov, zt"l had this Rambam in mind when he made the
remark quoted.

May we merit both to avoid melacha on Shabbat, and to honor it and
delight in it.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 16:58:58 -0400
Subject: Two additional points on the dateline

I have 2 related questions regarding the dateline issue which I never
found answers to (cf Steve White v37n35, Tzvi Harris etc)

1st) It is well known that the COMMUNITY (Sanhedrin) determines YOM
TOV. But Shabbath seems to be independent of the community(I know of no
source to the contrary). Therefore if I am travelling on say a business
trip to say Japan or Australia is there ANY reason for me to follow the
Shabbath of the place I am at (It appears that the only relevance is
that this is the Shabboth of the community and as I just indicated this
is irrelevant)

2nd) A (slightly?) analogous situation would be a woman who is counting
days for family purity matters. It would seem to me if she traversed the
dateline she should still count based on the place of origin--after all
the requirement is a requirement of counted days not the days of the
current community.

The point here is that there are some opinions that the Biblical verse
WORK 6 DAYS AND REST ON THE 7TH has halachic significance (That is the 6
days work is a positive commandment). Whether or not we accept this,
isnt it reasonable to say that unlike Yom Tov which is a calendar
determined date, Shabbath is a count-determined date (And hence the
travelling businessman should follow his count no differently than the
travelling woman)

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


End of Volume 37 Issue 40