Volume 37 Number 70
                 Produced: Wed Nov  6  5:41:59 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

4 Opinions on the Forbidden fruit & their implications
         [Robert Israel]
Christianity - avoda zara?
contact and intimacy
         [Solomon Spiro]
         [Keith Bierman]
Question re Lashon Hara
Rabbis and Rabbits
         [Mark Steiner]
Sex and Religious Discrimination
         [Michael J Broyde]
Shaking hands/negia
Skin Contact (2)
         [Yitzchak Moran, Binyomin Segal]


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 10:54:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: 4 Opinions on the Forbidden fruit & their implications

Russel J Hendel wrote:

| 4) Rashi explains that the view that the DATE was the fruit derive this
| from the fact that Adam and Eve made their first clothes from
| DATES--Rashi points out that the Torah did not want to embarass the
| fruit.

 From dates?  As far as I know it says fig leaves.

| The Rav further explained that the Hebrew word for Ethrog is GOLDEN
| APPLE (eg POTATO is similarly called EARTH APPLE). So the fruit was
| probably translated as GOLDEN APPLE--over time the adjective GOLDEN got
| lost and the fruit becamse known as the APPLE

Are you sure about this?  When did "golden apple" i.e. "tapuach zahav"
switch from etrog to orange?  And why did they need a different Hebrew
word for Ethrog when they already had "etrog"?

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 07:29:28 EST
Subject: Re: Christianity - avoda zara?

Beyond discussion of which religions are / are not avoda zara, are there
appropriate or excluded actions when dealing with people who believe in
avoda zara.  In a diverse, multi-cultural, international workplace one
will certainly come across people who are definitially believers in
avoda zara ---- although the topic of discourse with them is
"scientific" or "business" -- what are the boundaries?  Can one sit down
with them to a meal, etc.?  Does anyone have a good source?


From: Solomon Spiro <spiro@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 18:27:06 +0200
Subject: contact and intimacy

> A rationale for avoiding skin contact with the opposite sex:
> Intimacy begins and reaches its climax with skin contact.

Carl Singer remarks--*Rationales often fail -- by extension one could
argue that intimacy begins with eye contact -- thus we should all be

I don't follow the argument that if intimacy starts with eye contact
then we should be blindfolded--one could avoid eye contact by something
somewhat less than a blindfold. But the halakhah does prohibit eye
contact that may lead to intimacy! See Makkot 24a, SA Even Ezer 21:1,
and Iggerot Moshe OH 40---quote "it is certainly prohibited to look a
woman [to derive pleasure] even at places on her body that are covered"

And he suggests, not a blindfold, but " to lower one's eyes when walking
in the street"

In any case--my argument was about skin contact.  Eye contact may begin
intimacy, and a man should really have eyes only for his wife, but skin
contact begins an intimacy that also ends in a climax, which eye contact
normally does not.


From: Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 17:21:48 -0800
Subject: Re: IVF

> Eitan writes:

> 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?

IVF does not necessarily mean that any genetic material comes from
anyone other than the parents. If, for example, the issue involves the
sperm, the mother to be's eggs are harvested, the father's sperm is
harvested (then "purified" and individual sperm are selected). The
selected sperm are injected directly into individual eggs. (ICSI, if
memory serves, is the acronym for this technique).

I know that wasn't the situation described; but we shouldn't confuse IVF
which is a general technique, with anything requiring duplicity!

Keith H. Bierman    <keith.bierman@...>| 650-352-4432 voice+fax
Sun Microsystems Laboratories            | sun internal 68207
15 Network Circle  UMPK 15-224           | 
Menlo Park, California  94025 	         | <kbierman@...>


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 14:02:33 -0500
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.

How in the world could this be considered Loshon Harah?!?!?! What bigger
toelis (positive purpose) can there be than announcing that people
should be wary of a certian product. Of course, if the Rav no longer
gives Hasgchos than it probaly would be Loshon Harah.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 20:27:12 +0200
Subject: Re: Rabbis and Rabbits

Thanks to all my friends who pointed out the typo/Freudian slip/great
line about people who eat "rabbis".  I meant "rabbits" (I think).

However, this shows that MJ has an avid readership who read every letter
of every piece.

Mark Steiner


From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@...>
Subject: Sex and Religious Discrimination 

With all of this discussion about shaking women's hands, I would would
ask you to consider a different case.

Imagine a person who came to your house to paint your house, and at the
end of the deal [he agreed to paint your house for $2,000, and you
agreed to pay him] he turned to you and said "Thank you for the work,
and when it is over, I will give you a bill". You stuck out your hand to
shake (finalizing the deal, according to social convention), and he
looked at you and said, "I am sorry, but I am Christian, and I do not
shake the hands of Jews."

Would you continue to hire this person as a painter?  I think the answer
is "no" -- I certainly would not.  While a person has religious freedom
to do anything they want privately, others have the right to be
insulted, and refuse to do business with you.  Now I know that you will
scream out that my case is different, but deep down inside, I at least
do not see how it is different TO A PERSON WHO IS DEEPLY MORALLY

Rather, all that we can say is that your basic principle strikes me as
wrong! However, from their starting point, you reach their ending point.
That is not, however, grounds for doing business with this person.

Thus, when one puts aside all of the polemtics in Randy Cohen's
observations, it boild down to three points:

1] People have the right to conduct themselves as they see fit, both as
buyers and sellers.

2] Society has two values in conflict here, its value of sex equality,
and its value of religious freedom.

3] Randy Cohen and the client both think that sex equality is more
important than religious freedom when it makes other people feel second

Thus, since this conduct makes this women [the client] feel second
class, she should not do business with this person.  So says the
Ethicist in the NYT.

While you and I disagree with his ethical mind-set, once one starts from
his starting point -- that gender discrimination is a bigger wrong than
religious freedome is a right -- Why should this women do business with
a person who treats her in a way that she thinks is second class?

[Your response might be that she should not think this as second class,
but Randy Cohen and the letter writer both disagree with you on this.
Indeed, consider the hypothetical starting this email, for a response.
If your only response is that religious discrimination is worse, that is
precesely the value judgement that Randy Cohen is arguing with.  We Thus
have values in conflict.]

I think responding to someone's religious values when they insult you is
complex, and most of posters have missed the basic point in that regard.

Randy Cohen's final point is must interesting.  He avers that had this
Orthodox Jew stated "I do not shake hands with anyone for Religious
reasons" he could have accomplished his religious goals and avoided the
issue. Realizing this just compounds the problem, of course, in that
such a course of conduct is a lie about one's motives.  On the other
hand, gadol kavod habriyot, and maybe this is simply another way of
expressing a sense about what really is the value of gender equality and
gender separation.

I, by the way, personally, have a different view, which I expressed once
in Jewish Action almost a decade ago.  In my view, secular law ought to
prohibit a person from declining to engage in any commercial activity
with another person for any reason unrelated to the commercial activity
itself.  Thus, I do not think people should be able to hire or fire
people because of hair color, religious observance, political
affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other private conduct unless or
until one can show that it impacts on their commercial interactions in a
direct way. Thus, in truth, I disagree also with Randy Cohen, but for a
different reason.  Most of the Orthodox community does not agree with me
either.  But, as we see here, the sauce cooks both geese and gander, and
those that want to engage in discrimination do so at their own peril.

In the end, your starting point leads to your ending point here.  You
have to decide what really really are the values that trump all other
ones.  I wonder who on this list would feel that the painter should not
have his contract ripped up?

[On a more practical halachic level, that might not be the truth, but
then of course, on a halachic level the Orthodox Jew might not have
conducted himself correctly either.  The theme of this email is not
about halacha at all, but about public policy.]

Michael J. Broyde
Voice: 404 727-7546; Fax 404 727-3374; Email: <mbroyde@...>


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 21:52:58 -0600
Subject: RE: Shaking hands/negia

Shalom, All:

	The discussion here on whether it is permitted to shake hands
with a woman leaves me with three thoughts:
	1. In the case of the Jewish chaplain who refused to shake hands
with a female general, I would appreciate guidance. I very vaguely
recall that the prohibition against negia (skin contact with a member of
the opposite gender) does not apply to a non-Jew. Is this true, or am I
having a senior moment? Also, in his action the rabbi created a kheelul
Hashem (desecration of God's name). 
	2. When I was in Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago, I distictly recall a
Rosh Yeshiva ("seminary president") shaking the hand of a non-Orthodox
woman who stuck out her hand. The reason, I was told, is that if he
spurned her gesture she would have been deeply offended, and making
someone blush with shame is akin to shedding their blood. Shedding blood
is a worse offense than shaking the hand of a woman who has not been to
a mikva, so he was  -- as I recall -- justified in not desecrating God's
	3. Asians (as opposed to Asian-Americans) don't shake hands --
they politely bow. This is not only sanitary, it eliminates the problem
of negia. Should we follow this custom, as it would almost certainly
take away any denigration of God's name?

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi
<c.halevi@...> (formerly chihal@ync.net)


From: Yitzchak Moran <dougom@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 23:24:56 -0600
Subject: Re: Skin Contact

>From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
>One should distinguish between the halachik boundaries (prohibitions?)
>and those which are socially accepted by the community.  I am NOT your
>LOR but The halachik boundary deals with needah and relations between
>wife and husband.  The community boundaries are applied more broadly
>  ....  and can be applied with more discretion.

Only a data point, but I have had an Orthodox Rebbitzim reach out to
shake my hand, so obviously there are some differences of opinion out
there (the Rabbi was not around, but my wife was right there, for what
it's worth).


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 22:38:30 -0600
Subject: Re: Skin Contact

In a recent post Carl Singer discusses cross gender skin contact. If I
understood him correctly, he suggests that cross gender skin contact is
a communal standard (minhag?) rather than a halackik boundary. And while
it is clearly true that incidental cross gender skin contact (like the
inadvertent touch of two people that sit next to each other on a crowded
bus) is permitted - at least by most poskim (including rav moshe). It is
not clear that this psak is relevant to the discussed issue - ie hand
shaking and the like.

While I do know of gedolim that allow a person to _respond_ to an
offered cross gender hand shake, it would be a mistake I think to call
not responding a "communal standard". When Rav Moshe discusses hand
shakes he is explicit that a cross gender hand shake is absolutely
forbidden. He expresses disbelief that any halachik authority could
possibly permit such a practice. For him at least this was an example of
a touch that was clearly forbidden.



End of Volume 37 Issue 70