Volume 37 Number 68
                 Produced: Mon Nov  4  4:46:50 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chosing a baby's sex
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Christianity - avoda zara?
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Christianity and Avoda Zara
         [Mark Steiner]
Clothes from the Drier?
         [Warren Burstein]
Hamar Medina
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Ishut 15:2--Engaged at 17; Married at 18
         [Russell J Hendel]
Kiddush Customs
         [Michael Poppers]
Legal Fictions
         [Rose Landowne]
Question re Lashon Hara
         [Joel Rich]
Rav Shach
         [Mark Steiner]
Sacrifices (2)
         [Stan Tenen, Avi Feldblum]
Source of Cohanim
         [Robert Rubinoff]


From: Eitan Fiorino <tfiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 00:01:03 -0500
Subject: Chosing a baby's sex

> a Charadei couple discovered that the husband was
> incapable of having children.  The route the Rav recommended was IVF (In
> vitro fertilization) through the use of a non Jewish sperm donor.

My question is, why should a Rabbi advise this couple to have a child
with IVF?  The husband is not fulfulling the mitzvah of pru urevu, but
is entering into a systematic deception of his community and perhaps,
eventually, his daughter and/or her potential future mate (when it comes
time for a shidduch, the family does not sound likely to be forthcoming
about the daughter's status).

I understand the great psychological need and enormous pressure felt by
infertile couples, which must by extraordinarily intense in the Chareidi
world.  But does that justify the creation of a situation in which
dishonesty will prevail?

-Eitan Fiorino


From: Eitan Fiorino <tony.fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 08:11:06 -0500
Subject: RE: Christianity - avoda zara?

> The Rambam paskened that the trinity is a.z., while
> the ba'alei tosfoth paskened that 'shituf' is permissible for the goyim.

> If anyone can quote sources on this issue, I'd like to see them.  The
> information above is based on what I remember from R' Wein's series on
> the house of Rashi.

See Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance, which deals with this issue

-Eitan Fiorino


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 12:58:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Christianity and Avoda Zara

To understand the matter clearly we must distinguish between (a)
Christianity as a religion and (b) medieval Gentiles who professed

Christianity as a religion was just as much avoda zara to the baalei
tosafot as it was to the Rambam.  A simple, yet not usually discussed,
proof of this is found in Tractate Avoda Zara 14b, d"h hatzav, in which
it is stated that it is forbidden to sell wax to the Gentiles (for fear
they will make votive candles).  The prohibition is based on the verse
"Lifnei Iver lo titen mikhshol," understood to mean that a Jew is not
permitted to cause another (Jew or Gentile) to sin.  We see from this
that lighting a votive candle is a sin , i.e. avoda zara, even for a

That the Baalei Tosafot allowed commerce with Gentiles on religious
holidays, despite the Mishna to the contrary (2a, d"h asur), does not
contradict the above.  Rather, they held that Gentiles do not take their
own (idolatrous) religion seriously enough to offer thanksgiving for the
profit they make from such commerce.  That is, they made a distinction
between the religion as such and its devotees.  For this reason many
rishonim (Rashi and Rabbenu Tam and many others) ruled that Gentile wine
is not forbidden in benefit (not asur behana'ah)--Gentiles today are
mostly not priests and do not carry out the mass.

The usual proof that the Baalei Tosafot did not hold that Christianity
is avoda zara comes from the statement that Gentiles are not commanded
to avoid "shituf."  However an impressive range of commentators from the
world of Torah (Hazon Ish) and the academic world (David Berger and
others) have proved that this discussion (in Tractate Sanhedrin) is
relevant only to oath taking (i.e. swearing to Hashem but having
somebody else in mind as well), which is the usual meaning of "shituf
shem shamayim im davar aher" in the Talmud.  Christian worship as
carried out in the medieval Catholic Church was regarded as a.z.,
period, for Jew and Gentile alike.

Mark Steiner


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 12:38:11 +0300
Subject: Re: Clothes from the Drier?

I may have missed it, but did anyone cite a ruling that one may not
leave clothes in the dryer over Shabbat, or was an assumption made that
the prohibition against setting out to dry in the sun clothes which got
wet should be applied to this case?  Did the original prohibition cover
hanging on Shabbat, or did it also cover hanging them before Shabbat?


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 14:39:33 +0200
Subject: Re: Hamar Medina

I had written the following, regarding whether or not it is permissible 
to make havdala on milk:

> The Mishna Berura goes on to quote from Sha`arei Teshuva, who quotes
> Birkei Yosef that one may not make havdala on milk or oil.  And he
> restates that in Mishna Berura 272:25.
> I checked the Birkei Yosef 296:2, who does indeed state that many
> people misunderstand the Mehaber's statement that liquids other than
> water would permit them to make havdala on milk or oil.  But the
> Birkei Yosef calls this an error!

In reply, David Ziants wrote:

>This is my typo. It is the Birkei Yosef that is being mentioned.
>On a rudimentary reading of the Birkei Yosef, you are correct,
>but this is a common misunderstanding.
>The point is that the Birkei Yosef is referring to
>*his* country and time, as milk then was generally not drunk.
>He did not mean this as a general fixture of law.

I would like to understand this.  On the one hand, the Mishna Berura 
quotes the Sha`arei Teshuva, which quotes the Birkei Yosef to the effect 
that one may not make havdala on milk.  Each of these posqim applied it 
without clearly limiting his pesaq in time or location.

So I wonder how it was that one can conclude that each of these 
gentlemen, in his land and at his time, intended the exact opposite of 
what he wrote.  It would be as though I stated that the sun is shining, 
and someone then went ahead and explained that I really meant that it is 

Any comments?


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 22:28:17 -0500
Subject: Ishut 15:2--Engaged at 17; Married at 18

Neil v37n52 asks about the contradiction between the Rambam (reproduce
at 17) and the Mishnah(actually a Braithah in avoth) (reproduce at 18).

A simple explanation that I heard is that one should get engaged at 17
so that the wedding will take place at 18.(I forget who says this)

Conceptually, the Rambam would see that act of engagment as a part of
the fulfillment of the procreation act

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


From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 20:40:39 -0500
Subject: Re: Kiddush Customs

In M-J V37#56, Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:
> Some people even pour some of the kiddush wine into a separate cup,
> drink, and then start diluting the original wine, to get around the
> sanitary issues.

Or (as I'm sure Dr. Katz is aware) to prevent kos pagum [a "flawed" amount
of wine in the cup], which would require refilling the cup with un"flawed"
wine before the resultant mixture could then be poured back into the bottle
['s un"flawed" wine] and used for a future Kiddush.

All the best from

--Michael Poppers via RIM pager


From: <ROSELANDOW@...> (Rose Landowne)
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 20:51:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Legal Fictions

Another example of a legal fiction might be Hodaah (odita in Aramaic)
where someone (on his deathbed) "admits" to owing money to someone, (as
a way of transferring some of his own money to that person)even though
he never received a loan from him. The admission can have legal

Rose Landowne 


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 05:34:10 EST
Subject: Re: Question re Lashon Hara

 From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> This weekend's Ha'aretz carried a story about a certain Israeli Rav who
> was indicted for Kashrut fraud, along with the company whose Hechsher he
> gave. The case has not yet come up for trial. My question is whether one
> is permitted to relay such limited information to anyone else, or whether
> this is considered Lashon Hara.

Does the religious bet din system have any authority in such cases?
Joel Rich


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 11:45:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Rav Shach

Last week(on the Yahrzeit) I heard a talk by Dr. Ephraim Shach, Rav
Shach's son, during which he discussed the famous "rabbit speech" in
which R. Shach ztz"l raised the rhetorical question, in what sense are
people who eat rabbis, don't know what Yom Kippur is, etc., Jews?

This speech of course aroused much opposition, but, Dr. Shach said, two
kibbutzniks from Ein Harod were listening to the speech on the radio in
the kibbutz barn, and what R. Shach said made sense to them--they
decided to leave the kibbutz and learn Torah in a yeshiva in order to be
Jewish by more than birth.

When they went to see R. Shach, and informed him that they were leaving
Ein Harod, he asked them whether they had parents in the kibbutz.  One
of them answered, that he had an elderly father there.  "In that case,"
answered R.  Shach, "you can't leave the kibbutz.  Try to keep as much
as you can of Judaism while living there."

When R. Shach passed away, and Ephraim was sitting shiva for him, a
hareidi man with black suit and hat and white shirt came to see him.
"Who are you," asked Ephraim.  "I'm the father of that boy in Ein Harod.
When I heard what you told my son, I was so impressed by the morality of
Torah that I decided to leave the kibbutz myself and learn Torah too."

I believe that this story, told by his own son, sheds much light on who
R. Shach z"l really was.

Mark Steiner


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 10:58:57 -0500
Subject: Sacrifices

Haftarah of Balak  (Translation from Aryeh Kaplan's "Living Torah")

Micah, 6:6 - 6:8

6:6  With what shall I come before God, and bow myself before God on 
high?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings?  With year-old calves?

6:7   Will God be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of 
rivers of oil?  Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit 
of my body for the sin of my soul?

6:8  He has told you, O man, what is good, and what god requires of 

Doesn't this tell us that while sacrifices _might_ be in the picture, they 
are _not_ required?  Doesn't the word "only" tell us this?


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 04:32:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Sacrifices

On Tue, 29 Oct 2002, Stan Tenen wrote:

> Doesn't this tell us that while sacrifices _might_ be in the picture, they
> are _not_ required?  Doesn't the word "only" tell us this?

No it does not. I would argue that trying to derive whether sacrifices
will be brought in the Third Temple based on Micha's chastisement of the
people's behaviour is incorrect and misses the point of Micha's arguement.

Avi Feldblum


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 10:03:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Source of Cohanim

Two points:

1) The surprisingly large percentage of cohanim (especially relative to
leviim) has another obvious explanation: since being a cohen is an
honor, people will be tempted to "promote" themselves to that status,
especially in a situation where there isn't anyone around who can
identify them as not really being a cohen.  Sadly, our history over the
past 2000 years has been full of situations where large populations are
dispersed or disrupted.  And if you're going to promote yourself, you
might as well go all the way to cohen rather than levi.  So this could
account for at least part of the apparent discrepancy.

2) The genetic research people have been citing did *not* find a "kohen
marker".  What they found was that, for a particular gene that has half
a dozen different versions, the distribution of the versions among
kohanim is significantly different than among yisraelim.  (The
distribution among sephardi kohanim was different than ashkenazi
kohanim, but the kohan/non-kohan difference was similar among both
groups.)  I do believe that there was one variant that was very rare (a
few percent) among non-kohanim, but rare is not the same as
non-existent.  And most kohanim did not have this variant.


a) this does not in any way provide a test or marker to determine if
someone is a kohen.  It does possibly provide a way to test which of two
groups is more likely to be a group of kohanim, or at least have a
significantly higher percentage of kohanim, but that's a different
question.  (It may be relevant to the Lemba issue...I would think more
testing of various non-Jewish ethnic groups would be needed to determine

b) the data are actually *not* consistent with all (current-day) kohanim
being descended from one individual (i.e. Aaron) 3000-3500 years ago.
If that were the case, you would expect to see almost all of the kohanim
with the same variant.  The only way to have half a dozen significant
variants with a common ancestor would be if the gene tended to mutate a
lot...but then you would expect far more variation.  Note that this
doesn't disprove the idea that the kohanim were (originally) descended
from one person.  It just means that people other than the descendants
have managed to slip into the pool at some point.



End of Volume 37 Issue 68