Volume 37 Number 85
                 Produced: Thu Dec  5  6:15:37 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Buddism and Lashon Harah
         [Keith Bierman]
More requests for Sources on Idolatry of Shituf
         [Gil Student]
Request for help
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Shabbos question
         [Judith M. Krupnick]
Shaking hands
         [Binyomin Segal]
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Skin Contact
         [Moshe Goldberg]
Time question
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Announcement: New Outreach and Inreach Tool


From: Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 17:54:07 -0800
Subject: Buddism and Lashon Harah

I regret that in my haste to clean up my mailbox, I deleted the text
before responding. I apologize if my recollection is incorrect in any
substantial way.

In a recent posting, a "misah" (event, instance) of what seemed like a
Buddhist server in a kosher chinese restaurant bowed to "an idol
representing his god" before serving food to the patrons of the

While not impossible, it is improbable. Indeed, so much so that I fear
it rises to the level of Lashon Harah to propagate such tales without
substantiation. While generally discussion of Buddhist teachings is
completely off topic for this list, I think it is necessary to say a few
words to prevent the potentially deleterious effects of lashon harah. I
do not believe this discussion should continue, and I will not
participate if it does. It is, IMNSHO, inappropriate mail.jewish fodder.

I have worked with a number of Buddhists from different "sects" over
many years. There are as many differences between them as there are
between our "movements", so generalities have to be taken with an
appropriate grain of salt. However, a few things are fundamental and
reasonably invariant:

1) Buddhism's teachings range from agnosticism to atheism. That is, they
teach that the universe works according to set principles, and the
existence (or nonexistence) of deities is irrelevant (or that they are
completely nonexistent).

2) The term "Buddha" means Enlightened One, and they treat them very
similarly to the way Chassids treat their Ravs. Pictures and sculptures
of their teachers are intended to inspire. They are not to be worshiped,
and they criticize those that do.

3) Bowing is a sign of respect. They bow as we shake hands to greet one
another. They signal respect towards their (in some cases departed)
teachers in a like manner.

A couple of Buddhist web pages which are pretty on point for this topic:


All that said, it is true that there are groups who have both adopted
some fraction of Buddhist teachings, but have maintained earlier beliefs
in various supernatural entities. Our ancestors had some of the same
problems ;>

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


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 15:32:48 -0500
Subject: Re: More requests for Sources on Idolatry of Shituf

How do those who hold that shituf is prohibited for a Gentile
(e.g. Rambam) understand the verse in Rus 1:16 "Elokayich elokai", which
the gemara uses as a source for the halachos of conversion?  If Gentiles
are prohibited in shituf then even before converting the statement
"elokayich elokai" would have been accurate and this should have no
significance for conversion (this is the Torah Temimah's question).

Gil Student


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 16:04:29 +0200
Subject: Request for help

For a topic which I am working on, I'm looking for histories of Jews in
the 20th century, with specific reference to the history of Jew in the
different cities throughout the world.

If anyone is aware of any such sources, I would appreciate your
contacting me off-line.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: <JMKRUPNICK@...> (Judith M. Krupnick)
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 06:12:37 EST
Subject: Shabbos question

My daughter has been assigned her bat mitzvah research project.  Why we
perform the Shabbos prayers in the order we do?  What is the
significance of all the acts we perform Friday night?

Why do we not speak after we wash, prior to the challah blessing?  Thank
you so much for taking the time to assist her.

Judith M. KRUPNICK        

Cherry Hill Volvo 
Special Sales Coordinator   
Fleet, Internet, Overseas Delivery


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 20:18:17 -0600
Subject: Re:  Shaking hands

While the basic point that Rabbi Chipman makes about baal tosif is one I
agree with, I think he goes a bit far in its application to shaking
hands.  Baal tosif essentially creates a burden to be discerning about
categories of halacha. One can not claim a rabbinic law is of Torah
origin, or a custom is rabbinic, etc.

Certainly, the precision with which many people talk about halacha is
poor and continues to create problems of baal tosif. I see examples of
this in hilchos kashrus, hilchos tznius, hilchos shabbos (how many kids
are taught that they can't TOUCH muktzah!), etc.

While there may be sources that allow handshakes, Rav Moshe was explicit
in prohibiting this behavior. It is NOT baal tosif to follow his psak

Given Rabbi Chipman's discussion, and the recent interest generally, I
think it might be worthwhile to repost a discussion of Rav Moshe's psak
that I posted to mj way back in 1995:

Rav Moshe has four tshuvos specifically related to the issue of touching.
    1. Orach, vol. 1, tshuva 113
    2. Even, vol. 1, tshuva 56
    3. Even, vol. 2, tshuva 14
    4. Even, vol. 4, tshuva 32, par. 9

The third tshuva states clearly that any touching that does not involve
chibah is permitted. Rav Moshe here is specifically talking about bus
rides, but on a cursory reading this tshuva might suggest that hand
shaking, even some hugging, might be permitted. However, reading Rav
Moshešs earlier tshuvos (#s 1 & 2) make it very clear that Rav Moshe
held that even shaking hands was forbidden. [Lest one suggest that Rav
Moshe either contradicts himself, or changes his mind, see tshuva #4
where he makes it very clear he feels they co-exist.] To understand the
distinctions a serious reading of #2 is necessary.

Rav Moshe distinguishes between two classes of issur. There is an issur
which comes from 'giluy arayos' and there is an issur that comes from
'hirhur'. 'Giluy arayos' is a prohibition of having contact with a
person of the opposite sex who is forbidden to you. (Today, since
non-married women are nidos, this includes females over the age of 9 or
11 [see Rav Moshešs tshuva Orach vol. 1, #26]. There is a special heter
from the gemara that applies to father, mother, grandfather,
grandmother, and to some degree brother and sisters.) This issur has
some startling consequences. 'Giluy arayos' is one of those prohibitions
for which we are obligated to give up our lives.  Rather than touch a
person when this prohibition applies you are obligated to give up your
life. 'Hirhur' is an issur that generally applies only to men. (Although
in some situations it might be relevant to the woman since she would be
responsible for allowing the man to transgress--a situation of 'lifnei
iver') It is a prohibition from generating any type of sexual excitement
(except in the obviously permitted situation in private with ones
spouse). Although this prohibition is a Torah prohibition it does not
carry with it the obligation to martyrdom.

The first, more stringent prohibition (giluy arayos), applies whenever
the action is both mutual and one that normally implies 'chibah'--even
if this time is no 'chibah'. (This prohibition seems not to be limited
to touching.  Certain conversations might fall into this category. see
the gemara i believe in sanhedrin) The second prohibition (hirhur)
applies any time there is 'chibah' or desire. Anytime there is 'chibah'
and mutuality there are both transgressions.

Each class of issur has rabbinic and Torah cases. The prohibition of
'giluy arayos' has a few requirements to be considered a Torah
prohibition: any touching that implies 'chibah', and actual 'chibah'. If
either of these factors is missing i.e., there is no touching, or there
is no 'chibah' the action would still fall into this category of issur,
however it would be a rabbinic prohibition. It is important to stress
here that even for a rabbinic prohibition of this category halacha
requires martyrdom. The second prohibition requires only one thing to be
a Torah prohibition: intent. If a man accidentally notices something
which brings sexual enjoyment, that is a rabbinic prohibition.

Any touching that implies chibah, even if there is none presently, is
forbidden. Any touching which does not imply chibah is permitted, as
long as there is in fact no chibah.

Perhaps an extreme example will help illustrate. Is a man allowed to
save a drowning woman from dying? His prohibition is one that requires
him to surrender his life, perhaps he should let her drown rather than
touch her.  Rav Moshe explains that since the action of saving her does
not imply 'chibah', this issur does not apply. The second issur might
apply, if the man was excited by this woman. However, that issur doesnšt
require him to give up his life, and therefore he is indeed required to
save her.

Kissing and hugging are always forbidden because they imply 'chibah'.
Therefore they are forbidden even if there is actually no
'chibah'. (This prohibition is one of giluy arayos and requires
martyrdom rather than transgress.) Bumping into someone on the bus is
permitted, if indeed there is no 'chibah'. Since that touching does not
imply 'chibah' there is no prohibition--unless in fact there is real
chibah (i.e., you brush up against someone because you 'want to').

Hand shaking is perhaps a middle ground. Rav Moshe does in fact forbid
hand shaking--similar to kissing and hugging--on the grounds that it
implies 'chibah.' However, he does state that there are those who permit
it (only where the other extended their hand first). It would seem that
here there might be room to suggest that in as much as handshaking is a
social motion, there is no 'chibah' implied. But even here Rav Moshe is
unwilling to accept this.

Hope that helps shed some light on our current conversation.


From: <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 03:08:31 EST
Subject: Shema Yisrael Torah Network

This is not exactly what you seem to be looking for but may be of
interest / value nevertheless.

Recently I heard an interview with the man behind the SYTN website on a
Chicago Jewish radio program. The semicha program was among the things
talked about. It can be heard by going to http://www.torahradio.net/ and
listening to the October 21 program.



From: Moshe Goldberg <mgold@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 13:45:42 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Skin Contact

> From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
> Nonetheless there are halachik authorities that do permit (and practice)
> such -- as noted in Telshe Chicago posting.Community standards and
> halacha are not mutually exclusive as the note seems to imply.

See the following extract:

> Shabbat-B'Shabbato - Parshat Vayeitzei
>          No 935: 11 Kislev 5763 (16 November 2002)
> TORAH, SOCIETY, AND GOVERNMENT: Hugging and Kissing Close Relatives
> by Rabbi Uri Dasberg
> Others have permitted these actions [contact between the sexes]
> for anybody who is considered righteous, or who has become
> used to the practice, such that there is no danger that the act may lead to
> impure thoughts or evil actions. For this reason, there are communities
> where it is accepted for a man to shake a woman's hand (either allowing the
> man to take the initiative or at least to respond to a woman who puts out
> her hand), or where men and women sit together at weddings and during Torah
> study. In these places, it is assumed that because of the common practice
> the senses have been dulled and there is no danger of evil.
> Reference: Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, "Techumin," volume 21, pages 374-384

The full article can be reached from the zomet website, www.zomet.org.il.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 16:09:22 +0200
Subject: Time question

Nowadays, one finds lu'ach entries for sunrise, sunset, etc., down to
the minute and even half- or quarter-minute.

As these exact times were obviously not available at the time of the
Gemara, does anyone know at which time these exact clock times were
introduced, rather than relying on what one saw outside?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 01:51:19 -0800
Subject: Announcement: New Outreach and Inreach Tool

With thanks to the Almighty, I would like to announce the publication of
a book, "The Art of Amazement: Discover Judaism's Forgotten
Spirituality".  This is the product of three years of research, teaching
and writing, specifically on those practices which may be called
"meditative", such as Brachos, Krias Sh'ma and Amida. Each chapter has
exercises for self-tutorial and has ample endnotes for those who would
like to see the halachic and hasgafic sources. I have taught this
material hundreds of times and invariably Jews of all stripes (including
Orthodox) respond, "Thank you for teaching me for the first time in my
life what the Sh'ma is all about...."

If you are a teacher or parent, if you know someone who would like to
find more spirituality in Judaism, or if you yourself would like to live
a life of amazement, you will enjoy this book.

You can see more and order on line here: http://daasbooks.com/

Discounts for bulk orders. Feel free to contact me with questions. I
have had invitations to speak which is a great way to sell books but at
this point am most interested in those venues where I can train others
to teach this material.

Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld
Silicon Valley Director
Aish San Francisco / Bay Area


End of Volume 37 Issue 85