Volume 38 Number 02
                 Produced: Sun Dec 15 20:38:03 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Discussion not Psak
         [Michael Kahn]
Fax Machine on Shabbat
         [I Kasdan]
Mah yofis
         [Fred Friedman]
Making of a Gadol
         [Carl Singer]
The Making of a Gadol (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Ben Sommerfeld]
Speaking on Phone when it is Shabbat on one side (2)
         [Zev Sero, Michael Kramer]
Tzedaqah Obligations to Street Panhandlers (2)
         [Michael Kahn, Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Wallet on Shabbat
         [David Charlap]


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 03:32:25 -0500
Subject: Discussion not Psak

>Non-withstanding the impressive array of
>"armchair Mail-Jewish poskim" who weigh in on these questions, it is
>worthwhile asking a Posek to rule definitively.

Perhaps this is an apropriate time to reiterate mail-jewish's policy
that we are never writing things to be relied on for actuall
hallacha. We are merely "talking in learning." Of course practical
hallacha, and hashkafa should be obtained from your Rov, or as we say
here, your LOR.


From: I Kasdan <Ikasdan@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 00:59:37 -0500
Subject: Fax Machine on Shabbat

Regarding fax machines, answering machines and the like on Shabbos, see
"Sefer Minchas Shmuel: Baayot H'zman BaHalacha" by Rabbi Shmuel
Khoshkeraman ("Mechonot electriot l'or haHalcha") (1993), a musmach from
Ner Yisroel who at the time of publication was a Rav of a separdi shul
in Atlanta Ga.  (Haskamos include Rav Weinberg ztl; and y'lt, Rav
Ovadiah Yosef; Rav Sheinberg and Rav Moshe Shternbach).

Rabbi Khoshkeraman brings down a daas haosrim (those prohibiting) to
keep a fax machine on, on Shabbos (sh'ut "Kinyon Torah" and sh'ut
"Chesev haEphod") and a tzad hamatir (one who permits) (sh'ut Beis Avi,
whom he reports also permits one to send a fax on erev Shabbos to a
place where Shabbos has already begun).


From: Fred Friedman <fkfried@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 18:13:48 +0000
Subject: Mah yofis

>From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
>I would like to know who sings the old Shabbos zemer 'Mah yofis.....'
>(on Friday night, I believe) nowadays. It is often printed with the
>other standard zemiros, but I don't know if I have ever heard anyone
>sing through it in my life - nor say it without singing.
>Also, are there any audio recordings of it with any melodies ?

See the following for a history of Ma Yofis. Click on the link at the start 
of the second paragraph to hear a recording.


Fred Friedman


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 07:33:33 EST
Subject: Re: Making of a Gadol

      I am weary of all forms of intellectual censorship.  Beware the
      religion that considers ignorance to be a virtue: They are hiding

Re: Making of Godol and other texts / seforim --- there's been an
on-going problem of editing (or should it be called censorship) --
people who have old (shall we say original) versions of seforim find
that newer editions have conveniently removed or revised items that
would be not be politically correct today.  This practice trashes
legitimate scholarship.

Carl Singer


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 09:48:43 -0600 (CST)
Subject:  The Making of a Gadol

The thread about the book, The Making of a Gadol, raised some
interesting points.  One person argued that it is inappropriate to
reveal errors made by gedolim in their youth, on the grounds that lashon
hara is forbidden even when the information is true.

If that is indeed the normative opinion, is it reasonable for me to
wonder whether most of what we know about about past gedolim has been
similarly whitewashed, or does the requirement to give others the
benefit of the doubt require me to assume that censorship was only
needed in those few cases that I've personally heard about?

From: Ben Sommerfeld <bzls@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 02:52:22 -0500
Subject: The Making of a Gadol

zev sero (<zsero@...>) wrote: "the AriZal understood Hashem
better than Moshe (Moshe knew Hashem from direct experience, the AriZal
knew Him only from books and words, but he understood more from that
learning than Moshe did - as Chazal said, `a wise person is better than
a prophet')"

Whence your information on this? How do you know the Arizal's
understanding of Hashem was greater than Moshe's?

 ben sommer <bzls@...>


From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:11:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Speaking on Phone when it is Shabbat on one side

Michael Kramer <mikek@...> wrote:

>> The person is acting at a time when he is permitted to do so, and the
>> inanimate object will do its thing on shabbat without human intervention.
>>  It is black-letter law that this is permitted - `i ata metzuveh al
>> shevitat kelim'.

> [...] the issur of "Hashmaat Kol", which literally means "sounding a
> [publicly audible] noise" which will be heard on Shabbat. This is not
> a new Gezaira, but an existing Gezeira, (Shabbat 18, quoted by the Ramma
> in Orach Haim 252, Seif 5). This prohibition extends to what you may not
> do on Erev Shabbat (the Gemara's prohibited case is putting wheat kernels
> into an "automatic" millstone grinder on Erev Shabbat) and it is entirely
> possible that this prohibition against sounding a noise during Shabbat
> could also extend to someone who has already finished Shabbat.

Hashmaat Kol is a species of Morris Ion, i.e. the prohibition is on
doing something that is inherently permissible, but makes so much noise
that passersby will hear it and think that something impermissible is
being done.  One practical consequence of this is that all the things
which are prohibited for Hashmaat Kol are permitted in a place where no
Jews live within a Techum Shabbat (e.g. a Jewish-owned factory in an
industrial area), so that no Jew will ever hear the noise and come to
misconstrue what is happening inside.

Hashmaat Kol is IMHO a good reason to forbid putting the TV on a timer,
and was a good reason against clock radios, until those became so
ubiquitous that nobody, on hearing a radio playing in a Jewish house on
Shabbat morning will fail to realise what it is.  But a fax machine does
not make much noise, and an answering machine isn't [much] louder than
ordinary conversation, so all a passerby will think is that someone
inside is speaking, which is certainly permitted on shabbat.

Zev Sero

From: Michael Kramer <mikek@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 14:08:12 -0500
Subject: RE: Speaking on Phone when it is Shabbat on one side


But you are suggesting a halachic ruling which would explain why an
existing gezeira should not apply. I do not think your argument is
overwhelmingly compelling, but you *may* be right.  (It doesn't strike
me as being a compelling halachic argument to argue about "how many
decibels in the noise" as a halachic parameter).

I wasn't aware that there is a preponderance of shomer Shabbat people
who wake up with clock radios on Shabbat. I know that Shemirat Shab
Kehilchita approves of using an alarm clock to wake you up for shul, but
I thought he was referring to a settable wind up alarm or something with
a plug-in clock short duration tone. I think this heter is in itself a
chiddush, and wouldn't look to extend it.

Shabbat Shalom,  


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 03:38:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Tzedaqah Obligations to Street Panhandlers

First of all I would like to say that the ideas Stan Tenen brings up are 
deep, and to a certain degree, beyond my scope, unfortunately (especially 
before finals week :-)).

Stan Tenen wrote:
>Everything that Michael Kahn wrote above is, of course, correct.  However, 
>it is not inconsistent with what I'm trying to point out.
>First, we would be hypocrites if each of us weren't who we were -- in other 
>words, if we're not tzaddikim, it is not appropriate for us to make believe 
>or appear to be what we're not.

I definitely agree with this point. We may not act as though we are
tzadikim when we aren't. there is even a hallacha that prohibits overly
religous act when they are "mechzi kayuhara," or look pretensous.

>The fact is, we are not tzaddikim, and therefore (in general) we see these 
>distinctions judgmentally, and we see ourselves as "better".
>This may even be _objectively_ true.  But it's not the view from the 
>highest -- tzaddik-like -- perspective.

Again, I agree. I oppose arrogance. Judgementalism, actually, is an
issue I grapple with. I think its an occupational hazard of having or
living among people who have a value system. The stronger the value
system, the greater the tendency toward being judgmental. Having a value
system, a good thing in my eyes, gives people a standard to evaluate
things. Sometimes that system is taken to far when it is used to
evaluate people. Sometimes people do need to be evaluated such in when
you must decide with whom to bring friends with. As we say, "The company
you keep says allot about who you are." I haven't figured out the proper
parameters of whom to view, or evaluate people. Clearly, the halacha
requiring us to be "dan lkaf zchus," or, judge our friends favorably,
speaks to this issue. Another relevant Chazal would be the Mishna in
Pirkay Avos that says, "Al tidon es haadam ad shtagia limkomo," "Don't
judge your fellow man until you reach his place," or as we say stand in
his shoes.

Because moral relativists lack a standard of morality they don't judge
people. These people may seem nicer. But I don't think moral relativism
is a position tenable with the Torah.

>If we _know_ (in our bones and in our being) that we are dust, bitul, and 
>nothing (compared to our constant apprehension of the infinite Infinity of 
>God) then even our objective "lessers" are our equals.  This is a special 
>case.  It's a consequence of 0 = 0.

Now bitul is a deep concept that I must say I don't fully grasp! That's
what I was referring earlier.

>As individual Jews, with all of our normal strengths and weaknesses, we are 
>neither 0 (we don't feel bitul at all times), nor is anything else in the 
>world 0.  It's only when we are more than ourselves, at a level approaching 
>that of a tzaddik who is constantly aware of the absolute Infinity of God 
>and their consequent smallness relative to God's Infinity (not man's 
>finitude), that we are 0, and the world is 0.
>For some people, it's very difficult to get on top of apparent paradox.  
>How could we be different, and still be equal?  For other people, the 
>resolution of this sort of apparent paradox is a challenge to take a higher 
>view, exercise our consciousness, and to grow a bit in perspective.  We 
>choose whether we choose, or whether we delay choosing.

I guess I still haven't resolved the paradox. <smile> I mean this
seriously.  My basic understanding of anivus is having the knowledge
that true I have certain "maalos," or positive attributes, yet in spite
of it all I am not haughty because after it all I know it comes from the
Ribono Shel Ollam. Yet it is a fact that a Jew has a level of kedusha,
called kedushas Yisroel, which is higher than that of a non-Jew.

Our actions as Jews even have greater spiritual impacts than those of
non-Jews.  The Nefesh Hachayim rights that when a Jew has forbidden
thoughts, he is "pogem lamalah," or, affects "above" negatively, a
concept I, of course, don't fully grasp, to a more severe degree then
all the wrongs the evil Titus committed in the Bais Hamikdosh, or Holy
Temple. So there is a real difference between us and non-Jews. We're not
the same.

>Yes, in the real world, it's important to recognize distinctions, and to 
>triage our limited resources.  If we didn't do this, we'd be denying the 
>physical reality of our lives, and the accomplishment and value of Torah 
>and Torah tradition (and our own efforts).
Here you seem to be agreeing to me.
>But in the metaphoric "world to come", when our materials are gone, and 
>only our loving-kindness remains, our perspective must be somewhat 

Yes. The different perspective of the world to come is one of
kedusha. The gemara (i think Baba Basra, first chapter) tells of someone
who saw Gan Eden. He said, "I saw an overturned world. Those above here
are below there.  Those below there are above here." What he meant was
that those who serve Hashem here yet are looked down upon are the
elevated ones in Olam Haba.  Conversely, those who are respected here
yet don't worship Hashem are the low ones there. The degree of kedusha
one possesses is the standard for Olam haba. I say this hoping I got it
right. Who am I to set the standard for Olam Haba.

From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 11:21:00 +0200
Subject: Re:  Tzedaqah Obligations to Street Panhandlers

      Some years ago I write an article for the Jerusalem Post
supplement on this subject.  It was published in 1996, before everything
was on the net the way it is today, but I would be happy to send a copy
to anyone interested.

       More important, Ha-Rav ha-Gaon Aharon Lichtenstein wrote an
excellent article on the subject in Hebrew, which was in practice my
main source for the JPost article.  This was published in "Sefer Zikaron
le-Avraham Spiegelman," Tel Aviv, 1979, pp. 81-93.

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 10:03:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Wallet on Shabbat

Carl Singer wrote:
>       If the wallet contains cash, it is regarded as Basis LeMuktzeh,
>       and canot be removed from the bed in the normal manner.
>       If it contains no cash, it is at most a "Keli shemmelachto
>       leIssur", and one may move it out of the way to clear the bed for
>       use.
> Since one should presume that their wallet does indeed contain (some)
> cash, I would suggest treating it as mukkzeh and thus moving it with a
> shinui.

What about a wallet that doesn't contain cash, but contains things which
are used in the same way as cash (like debit cards)?  What about items
that are not used identically to cash, but for the same purposes (like
credit cards?)  Does it matter that the card itself has no intrinsic
value, other than that of the information printed/recorded on it?

This is not a hypothetical question here.  Many people (myself included)
do not keep cash in a wallet (preferring to use a money clip), but lots
of other things (like credit/debit cards) are kept in that wallet.

-- David


End of Volume 38 Issue 2