Volume 37 Number 90
                 Produced: Sun Dec  8 12:20:48 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Buddhism and avoda zara
         [David Charlap]
Buddism and Lashon Harah
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Censorship of the Gemara
         [Jonathan Baker]
Fax machine on Shabbat
         [Michael Kahn]
Henetz HaChama - Dor HapPlagah
         [JB Gross]
Jews of Sarajevo
         [Michael Kahn]
More requests for Sources on Idolatry of Shituf
         [Gil Student]
Touching Muktzah (3)
         [Carl Singer, <rubin20@...>, Stephen Phillips]
Tzedakah Obligations to Street Panhandlers and others
         [Yair Horowitz]
Tzedaqah Obligations to Street Panhandlers
         [Carl Singer]
What does the term "Legal Fiction" mean?
         [Toby Robison]


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 10:54:40 -0500
Subject: Buddhism and avoda zara

Stephen Phillips wrote:
> ... Secondly, it was my understanding that Buddhism
> is considered Avodah Zarah [idol worship].

It has always been my understanding that Buddhism is a philosphy and not
a religion.  It doesn't have any practices involving gods or other
deities, and does not incorporate any form of worship.

That being said, most practitioners of Buddhism _ALSO_ belong to other
religions (like Hindu and Shinto) which are avoda zara.  And many
practitioners do tend to blur the lines between the two.

With regard to halacha, it has been my understanding that Buddhism is
prohibited to Jews.  Not because it itself is avoda zara, but because it
is usually practiced in close conjunction with religions that are avoda
zara, and most Buddhists you would end up assicating with probably do
practice one or more of these other religions.

All that being said, there is still the issue of rejecting the Torah.
Judaism has a philosophy of the universe that is deeper and richer than
Buddhism.  A person seeking the kind of answers that Buddhism tries to
provide will have no problem finding his answers in Judaism if he
decides to seek out a rabbi to learn them from.  To reject this approach
and seek elsewhere is (to me) a rejection of rabbinic authority.  If
Buddhism provides different answers, then it may also be a rejection of
the Oral Torah itself.

-- David


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 15:21:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Buddism and Lashon Harah

>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.

I wonder if this is in the category of worshiping one form of `avoda
zara by using the means of worship ordinarily employed for another type
of AZ.  (Such as throwing a stone at ba`al pe`or.)



From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 09:01:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Censorship of the Gemara

From: Russell Levy <russlevy@...>

> I can't remember where I read it (still looking), but until the 1830s (I
> think 1835), places where the gemara was censored was left as a blank
> space. However, the czar at the time (Nicholas I) made a lot of

I have a Gittin from Frankfort-am-Main, 1720.  The passage on 57a
about where Yoshke is, is a big blank space.

> anti-Jewish laws one being a restriction of Jews to the Pale of
> Settlement, and another being that censored areas in books cannot be
> left as blank spaces. This is why in the Vilna shas (published in
> 1870s-1880s), there are no big blank spaces in masechtot like Avodah
> Zara and Sanhedrin, but in other editions, there are (since they were
> not published in Russia).

Actually, no.  In the Vilna Shas, and the Warsaw Shas, and maybe others
in the mid-19th century, the missing texts have been edited back in.  I
checked "Chesronos Hashas" against both Warsaw and Vilna Shabbos, and
the missing texts have been restored in both editions.  The passage on
Gittin 57a is there, albeit with a footnote saying "the refers to
Bil'am" rather than Yoshke.  Apparently with voluntary censorship, more
stuff was allowed to be printed.

There are also the chapter headings in the Aruch haShulchan:
"conversion, which used to be done in antiquity", etc.

   - jon baker    <jjbaker@...>     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Sun, 08 Dec 2002 00:36:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Fax machine on Shabbat

>However, many people in Israel turn off the FAX or the answering machine
>so that they will not come to use the equipment on shabbos.

I wonder why they would do this. As I understand it, there is no
prohibition for ones utensills to perform mlacha/work. This is called
"Shvisas kailim" or resting of utensils, which is not hallachikly

As an aside, I know someone in Eretz Yisrael who used to receive a
weekly Dvar Torah via fax from his father in law (who was in America)
during his Friday nught Seudah. (It was still erev Shabos in America.)
He used to read the fax without touching it and say" I just heard a vort
from my father in law..."


From: JB Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 21:49:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Henetz HaChama - Dor HapPlagah

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
>>In a similar (or opposite) vein, what is commonly pronounced 'Dor
>>Haflagah' is properly 'Dor HapPlagah'.  The Heh in this case is a
>>definite article, not part of the gerund form of hif'il.
>While the note is certainly correct, the Steinsalz gemara gives the
>vocalization as dor hapalaga, while I have a dictionary that also gives

Regardless of the transliteration, the Hebrew word is
heh, patach,
peh (dagesh chazak), shva (na),
lamed, kamatz,
gimel (rafa), kamatz,
heh (silent)

Mishna Sanhedrin 10:3 lists "dor hammabbul", "dor happ'laga" (so Kehati),
and "dor hammidbar".

As I read it, the heh prefix in all 3 phrases is a definite article, and
plaga (like nifl'ga in the pasuk) reflects a kal rather than hif'il


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Sun, 08 Dec 2002 00:36:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Jews of Sarajevo

>At this week's Jewish Film Days in Jerusalem, at the Jerusalem
>cinemateque, I saw a wonderful Bosnian film, with English subtitles, on
>the sephardic Jews of Sarajevo-

A couple of years ago there was a Nightline (ABC, Ted Koppel) segment
about an ancient Sarajevo Hagada and how it was saved during the Bosnian


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 20:36:22 -0500
Subject: Re: More requests for Sources on Idolatry of Shituf

Zev Sero wrote:
>Where do you see that the Rambam forbids shituf for goyim?

See Hilchos Avodah Zarah 1:1.  The Shu"t Me'il Tzedakah no. 22 and Seder
Mishnah (R' Wolf Boskowitz) on Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 1:7:3 learn from
there that according to the Rambam shituf is also forbidden for a Ben

  In general, any detraction from the power of G-d is considered by the
Rambam to be minus.  See Yad Peshutah to Hilchos Teshuvah 3:7.

>(Note: I'm not aware of any variety of Xianity that fits the definition of 

Interesting.  The Rema seemed to have no problem fitting Polish
Catholicism (or Eastern Orthodoxy?) into the definition of shituf.
Plenty of poskim since then have agreed.  The only one I've seen to
question that equation is, IIRC, R' Moshe Shternbuch in a teshuvah.

>A `frum goy' believes in Hashem as the One True God, but does that make 
>Hashem `his'?  At least until Moshiach comes, Hashem is `our god', `the god 
>of Israel', not of the nations.  By converting, Ruth became a member of 
>Hashem's people, and He became *her* god.

This does not work well with the derashah at the bottom of Yevamos 47b.
See the meforshim on Ein Yaakov who struggle with the question I quoted
from the Torah Temimah.  I saw that the Aruch LaNer anticipated the TT's
answer which, IMHO, is much better than some of the other ones offered
by the Ein Yaakov meforshim.

Gil Student


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 22:21:21 EST
Subject: Re: Touching Muktzah

      From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
      >(how many kids are taught that they can't TOUCH muktzah!), etc.
      You can touch muktzah?

Yes -- not to pasken -- remember your LOR needs to be consulted --

But you may touch Muktzah -- the issue is moving it -- and you can even
move it under such circumstances as its being in the way or a danger.
If, for example, you come home on Shabbos to find that your wallet is
sitting in the middle of your bed, thus preventing you from sleeping --
you may move it.  Some folks might consider it a matter of Morris Ayin,
but (given no lights, etc., get turned on) you could like trunk of your
car to remove a sefer.  But I imagine 99 out of 100 folks would tell you
that "it's mukzah"

Kol Tov
Carl Singer

From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 22:27:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Touching Muktzah

You can touch Muktah, but not move it

From: Stephen Phillips <stephenp@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2002 13:36 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: Touching Muktzah

In general, yes. The prohibition is handling and moving mukktzah items.

Stephen Phillips.


From: <Ggntor@...> (Yair Horowitz)
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 22:48:11 EST
Subject: Re: Tzedakah Obligations to Street Panhandlers and others

The following paraphrased from "The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical 
Issues", by Rav Nachum Amsel:

Although there are quite a number of individuals who take advantage of
the generosity of others, the Rambam (Hilchot Matanot Aniyyim 7:2) rules
that the overriding concern is preserving the dignity of the truly needy
person. He states that one can never refuse a poor person, although if
you are *sure* that the person requesting the funds is a fraud then you
may refuse them.  However, in 7:6, Rambam states that if the person has
an immediate need, say, food to live, then you may never refuse - only
if the person is requesting funds for a less immediate need, such as
clothes, may you make the person wait while you check our their
story. Of course, the person may never be made to feel uncomfortable or
embarassed if the process. As Rambam noted, if one is not sure, you may
not turn away a person who claims to be needy.

On another note it should be mentioned that if you were to give a beggar
a sum of money, even a penny, and the beggar gives it back deeming it an
insufficient amount, then you have fulfilled your obligation and need
not give that individual anything.

Finally, there are some professional fund raisers for organizations who
receive as salary an enormous percentage of their collections. Giving to
these people is clearly not tzadakah. Anything more than a 50% salary
would not fulfill the mitzvah.

-Yair Horowitz


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 20:39:50 EST
Subject: Re: Tzedaqah Obligations to Street Panhandlers

      >   * Is a woman walking alone, who may very reasonably feel
      >intimidated and unsafe when confronted by a panhandler on the
      >street, obligated to give to that person?

The Rav of a shule to which I belonged paskened that even women who are
home alone are not obligated to open the door when a meshulach rings
their doorbell. -- this is a separate issue from the Panhandler issue,
but relevant to the safety question raised.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Toby Robison <cpaths@...>
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 21:11:39 -0500
Subject: What does the term "Legal Fiction" mean?

The term: "legal fiction" has become quite a favorite of posters to this
group, but I believe that in many cases it is being used inaccurately.
"Legal fiction" is a well-defined technical term at law. I'm not a
lawyer, but here is the definition from Barron's Law Dictionary by
Steven Giffs, copyright 1991. You can find similar definitions at legal

"LEGAL FICTION an assumption that certain facts exist,
whether or not they really do exist, so that a principle
of law may be applied in order to achieve justice on
the facts as they do exist. Application of this doctrine
frequently avoids undue delay in disposing of
uncontroverted matters, permitting the court to focus
attention instead on matters that are in dispute. E.g.,
the domicile of the owner is presumed to be the
situs* of personal property for taxing purposes
regardless of where it is actually located. The term
"legal fiction" commonly occurs in cases where
adherence to the fiction is perceived as working
an injustice. E.g., where the personal property has
never been in the state where the owner is domiciled
and it would clearly be unfair to tax the property,
the court will dispense with the situs* presumption
as a mere legal fiction."

*situs: that is, location.

Please note that a legal fiction is an assumption that is made when
applying a principle of law to resolve a dispute. It is probably
incorrect to refer to actual objects or (possibly) unrealistic contracts
as legal fictions.

- tobias d. robison


End of Volume 37 Issue 90