Volume 37 Number 72
                 Produced: Thu Nov  7  5:40:59 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Circumventing Prohibition Of Charging Interest.
         [Immanuel Burton]
Clergy for Tax Purposes
         [Mark Feldman]
The Ethicist
         [Michael Feldstein]
Gender and Religious Discrimination (2)
         [David Waxman, Michael J Broyde]
Hanoukah away from home
         [Joseph Mosseri]
Lomdishe Halacha Shiur, Mussar Va'ad
         [Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer]
Randy Cohen, the "Ethicist"
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Request for Assistance
         [Gershon Dubin]
Shaking Hands
         [Yaakov Fogelman]


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 11:14:47 +0000
Subject: Circumventing Prohibition Of Charging Interest.

I recently read a book called The Dagger Of Islam by John Laffin (a
highly recommended read) in which he details the following method which
has been used by Moslems to circumvent their prohibition of charging

Someone comes to me and wants to borrow 1000 pounds.  I sell him my car
for 1500 pounds, but he doesn't have to pay me for 12 months.  At this
point the car becomes his.  He then sells the car back to me for 1000
pounds, this amount being payable immediately.  I give him the 1000
pounds, and take the car back.  In 12 months time payment for the first
sale becomes due, and he has to give me 1500 pounds.

In essence, no loan has been provided, but two sales have been carried

Leaving aside the Halachic prohibition of over-charging, does this
method circumvent the Halachic prohibition of charging interest?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Mark Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 16:31:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Clergy for Tax Purposes

 From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
>       Btw, does anyone know whether graduation from Drisha's scholars
>       program (or similar) gives women some means of declaring
>       themselves clergy for tax purposes?

I highly doubt it, though I've never specifically dealt with the issue.
Treasury Regulation 1.1402(c)-5 (which can be found at
http://tinyurl.com/2hn8 ) refers to "any individual who is a duly
ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church or a member of
a religious order."

Reg. 1.107-1(a), which deals with parsonage exclusion, states: <<In
order to qualify for the exclusion, the home or rental allowance must be
provided as remuneration for services which are ordinarily the duties of
a minister of the gospel. In general, the rules provided in 1.1402(c)-5
will be applicable to such determination. Examples of specific services
the performance of which will be considered duties of a minister for
purposes of section 107 include the performance of sacerdotal functions,
the conduct of religious worship, the administration and maintenance of
religious organizations and their integral agencies, and the performance
of teaching and administrative duties at theological seminaries.>>

So basically, you'd have to claim that a Drisha scholar is equivalent to
a "minister of the gospel"--in the Jewish religion, such a person is
known as a rabbi.  So unless Drisha ordains women as rabbis, I doubt
they will be entitled to the parsonage exclusion.

 From the RIA Federal Tax Coordinator:
<<IRS privately ruled [PLR 9126048]that a conservative rabbi employed as a
Judaica instructor by a Hebrew school offering a mixed secular and religious
curriculum qualified as a "minister of the gospel." The rabbi taught, led
daily worship services with the students, and was consulted on religious
 From the PLR itself: <<Based on the facts of this case, and the
representations made by the authorized representative, we conclude that the
duties of the ordained rabbi employed by X as a full-time Judaic instructor
are services performed in the exercise of his ministry for purposes of
sections 107, 3121 and 3401 of the Code. >>

Kol tuv,


From: <MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein)
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 10:23:15 EST
Subject: The Ethicist

It was very interesting to read Rabbi Michael Broyde's post on The
Ethicist column that appeared in the New York Times.  Rabbi Broyde took
a very different approach to the issue; in fact, every comment I've
heard from anyone in the Orthodox community has been 100% critical of
Randy Cohen's answer, and this was the first comment I've read that was
at least sympathetic to Randy Cohen's response.

I would like to add one additional thought to R. Broyde's comments,
which he did not address--and which I think is relevant to the issue:

Jewish law does not say that women are untouchable; it disapproves of a
behavior. It's also significant that it does so in an equal manner. Both
men and women are instructed not to engage in affectionate physical
contact with members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married.
Some Orthodox rabbis would include even a handshake in the prohibition.

My point is that since the law is egalitarian in nature, I don't think
it's fair to claim gender discrimination, as Randy Cohen suggests.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT


From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 16:31:36 -0800
Subject: Re: Gender and Religious Discrimination

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

I think that this statement is not valid.

The issue of gender equality on its own, if taken to extremes, will lead
to absurdities. A reasonable person, for example, would not request
urinals in women's bathrooms for the sake of this value.

The issue of human contact is more subtle than that, but not
qualitatively different.  The accepted norm of most Westerners is to
expect a hand shake as a sign of mutual respect.  Some managers will go
further and put their arm around a subordinate's shoulders as a sign of
encouragement.  If a male manager chose to discriminate between his male
and female subordinates with regard to this type of contact, could the
women charge him with unfair conduct?  To the contrary, he could be
charged with sexual harassment if he engaged in overly familiar contact
with them.  Thus, we see that religious practice does not create the
conflict, it simply enlarges it.

From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 13:41:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Gender and Religious Discrimination

In my previous post, I wrote:

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

A poster responded:

> I think that this statement is not valid.
> [See rest immediately above]

I find this response to be unpersuasive.  The first example is simply
silly, in that it focuses on overt physical differences between men and
women, and thus is beyond discussion.  As both a matter of American law
and common sense, the poster should be aware of the fact that a manager
who supervises him employees putting their "arm around a subordinate's
shoulder as a sign of encouragement" and does not do so for female
employees has without any doubt violated American labor law as they are
withholding or granting a perk based on gender; where it a more serious
matter (such as calling people up to a public podium in front of 10,000
employees and shaking their hand), someone would sue. This is a very
important point that some readers have missed in my post.

Let me elaborate.  I did not write to defend Randi Cohen or to attack
him.  Randi Cohen is not the problem -- he is not causing this issue or
leading it.  He is explaining the way secular people think. We need to
understand that, and develop coherent response which strike a proper
cord with the public.  Generally, when my congregants (I am the rabbi of
the Young Israel in Atlanta, as well as a law professor) who do not
shake women's hand's ask me what to do when women stick out their hands,
I tell them to not shake anyone's hand and tell people that they do not
shake hands (men or women) or or I tell them to respond to a woman's
hand shake when offered with a limp wrist. Or I tell them to put forward
a clear, convinceing, and not insulting line that works in their
business setting.  Clear, but insulting lines are not to be put forward.

Another reader wrote to me off list with a differen comment:

> If the Randi Cohen's of the world prevail, thousand of Orthodox Jews
> may have there livelihoods threatened.  Doesn't that bother you?

I think this sentiment is wrong, even as threats to our livelihood are
very bothersome to me. This Orthodox man who Randi Cohen wrote about, he
is endangering many people's livelihood by engaging in public conduct
that is ill thought out. His response "I do not shake women's hands" is
such a bad response in a Gentile community committed to equal
opportunity for women -- it is simply asking for trouble.

Thus, we have to develop better responses than this.  Shaking no one's
hand in public is a better response.  Saying something like "I try to
only touch my wife -- it keeps our relationship special " is a better
response than this man's,

Blaming Randi Cohen simply shoots the messenger, which does not solve
the problem and stops people from sending us messages about how our
conduct is received -- or it makes us very defensive about our conduct
so that real instruction about what to do is missed.

I did not wan to defend Randi Cohen or attack him.  However, people need
to think alot about how to handle these issues.  Simply responding by
screaming out "why doesn't the world see everything my way" is not
always the most helpful response.

Michael Broyde


From: Joseph Mosseri <JMosseri@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 01:41:42 -0500
Subject: Hanoukah away from home

What is the halakhah regarding a person in such a situation.

The man and his wife will be in a Jerusalem Hotel from a couple of days
before Hanoukah. When Hanoukah begins on Friday night this couple will
not be permitted to light a Menorah in their room as per hotel
regulations.  There will be no one back home that will be lighting for
this couple to rely upon.

Should they make the berakhah of Shehehiyanou upon seeing any menorah
lit on the streets of Jerusalem or rather wait till they return home in
the middle of the holiday to begin lighting and say all the berakhot at
that time?

Thank you,
Joseph Mosseri


From: Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 08:54:22 -0500
Subject: Lomdishe Halacha Shiur, Mussar Va'ad

This week, Sun., Nov. 10th, will be the last in our series on "Halachos
of Women's Attire." Please join us at Cong. Kehillas Bais Avrohom at
8:45 p.m.  You can call me at 845 216 1617 for more details.

The following week, Nov. 10th, we will focus on
Inyanei Chanukah

The Aishdas Society (www.aishdas.org) is starting Mussar Va'adim
following the format outlined by Rav Wolbe shlita in Alei Shur
vol. 2. If anyone in the Monsey area interested in a weekly or bi-weekly
va'ad, please call me and let me know. We will start, if there is an
interested group, on the series of discussions on Hislamdus.

Kol Tuv,
<ygb@...>      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 07:46:24 -0500 
Subject: Randy Cohen, the "Ethicist"

Regarding Randy Cohen's Column in the New York Times Magazine, Michael
Broyde writes:

"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?"

I think there is an important point that is being missed here.  It is
true that this is a case of a man choosing not to shake hands with a
woman, but if the genders were reversed the same refusal would have
taken place.  That is, an Orthodox woman would have chosen not to shake
hands with a man.  Would this make the man "second class?"  I think not.
There is complete symmetry here.  Offense is in the mind of the


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 23:01:58 GMT
Subject: Request for Assistance

Forwarded on behalf of someone who wishes to remain anonymous:

A small chesed organization is trying to purchase a few gifts for
children who might not otherwise receive any gift on chanukah, only a
token 'chatchka' or gifts their parents will have to pay for with
borrowed money to avoid ruining turning their children's' childhood
memories of chanukah into sad ones, of being the kids who got a few
chocolates when their friends were getting dolls and trucks.

Yes, like it or not, Chanukah in America means unwrapping toys as much
as it means lighting the menorah, even in the "right" kind of homes.

I need toys, books, arts & crafts kits, paint sets, and GIFT WRAPPING!
Bats, balls, hockey sticks, pogo sticks, pick-up sticks, dolls, board
games, children's seforim fancy backpacks, pretty sweaters, and GIFT

We are not looking for donations. Funds have been made available by a
family wishing to remain anonymous. We would like to buy these items
from anyone willing to sell them to us without marking them up. (We will
accept donations of gifts though. Sorry, no cash donations at this time,

If you can help please reply to R' Gershon and he will get in touch with
us. Pick up in Brooklyn, Queens, SI, NYC, and most of NJ might be
possible but a decision will have to be made on a case-by-case
basis. (Sorry, even Zaidy Klause has to spend some of his time earning a



From: Yaakov Fogelman <top@...>
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 13:52:17 +0200
Subject: Shaking Hands

I distinctly recall Rav Joseph Soloveichik, z"l, freely shaking with
women, which does not have a sensual connotation in our society, which
is the talmudic criterion of permissible negia, as expressded in the
talmudic stories of the sage who carried women, like a block of wood to
him, across a river and the sage who held his engaged little
granddaughter on his lap, rejecting his son-in-law's citation of
Shmuel. I also recall that when a non-observant neighbor of the Rov in
Brookline heard about kol isha and asked him if her singing, while on
her lawn, offended him, he replied: "No, it is beautiful- please


End of Volume 37 Issue 72