Volume 38 Number 40
                 Produced: Fri Jan 24  0:12:29 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bracha on seeing an eclipse
         [Mike Gerver]
Changing Charedi World
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Govt and food kitchens
         [Carl Singer]
HaShavas Aveidah
lack of killing in Plagues/ Pre-Exodus story
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Making of a Godol - In defense of
         [Michael S. Lipkin]
Names & Prohibition of Superstition
         [Russell J Hendel]
Status of Second Wives


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 19:30:14 EST
Subject: Bracha on seeing an eclipse

Shimon Lebowitz asks, in v38n32,

> Did you check the halacha on this, or assume yourself that a bracha was
>  in order?

This was 30 years ago, but I'm sure I wouldn't have just decided on my
own to make the bracha. I'm not sure I asked a shayla specifically about
this eclipse, because I don't think I thought there was any question
about it. I think I just learned at some point that you say "oseh
ma'aseh breishit" on seeing an eclipse. I remember being surprised,
several years after that, to learn that at least according to some
opinions (I'm not sure it's all opinions), you don't make this bracha
over a lunar eclipse. Shimon's posting is the first time I've heard that
there is an opinion against saying it for a solar eclipse.

I do remember thinking at the time that, given how rare total solar
eclipses are, and especially that one which was the longest one in the
20th century, it was a bit of an anti-climax to make the same bracha
that you make on seeing lightning, or a meteor; it seemed like there
should have been a more rarely made bracha to go with such a rare
event. But I finally felt like I got my money's worth making that bracha
over a meteor, last November, when I saw the Leonid meteor shower. I
hadn't seen it before, since the Leonids were good in Israel when I was
still in the States in 1998 and 1999, and good in the States (the East
Coast, at least) when I was in Israel, in 2000 and 2001.  Finally in
2002 they were good in Israel again, for the last time until 2097, and I
saw about 100 of them in a little over an hour, from my roof in
Raanana. In fact when I said the bracha over one of them, I saw another
one before I finished the bracha!

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 06:03:56 +0200
Subject: Changing Charedi World

Today's (Jan. 20) English edition of the daily Ha'aretz paper carries an
article by Tamar Rotem entitled 'The Rebbi and the Journalist." In it,
the writer examines the emergence of a quasi-independent Charedi
journalism in Israel, as exemplified by the weeklies, Mishpachah and

I found striking the beginning of this long article:

"An ultra-Orthodox journalist recently had an audience with a Hasidic
rabbi.  When he left, he was asked about his impressions of the
visit. 'Once, when I used to visit the rebbe, my knees would tremble,'
he responded. 'Now, he is the one who trembles.'"

As of today (January 20), the full text of the Haaretz article may be
found at:


Shmuel Himelstein


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 09:35:53 EST
Subject: Re:  Govt and food kitchens

      LA has an incredible Tomchei Shabbas program that works wonders.
      I go to school on Thursday nights, the night that Tomchei
      disburses Shabbas packages.

I'm not questioning LA -- a town I've only passed through in route to
Hawaii -- what you do, by your own presentation, is wonderful -- but
don't delude yourself into thinking that you have 100% coverage all of
the time.  Our synagogue runs programs for Thanksgiving and Dec 25 when
we know government meals-on-wheels is closed.  There are people hungry
when it isn't Shabbos -- and no matter how wonderful your highschool
kids are -- there's always one more person.  One of the non-Jewish
drivers makes a point of telling the recipients that it's that "Jewish
synagogue" that's providing the food.

Last Sunday our synagogue volunteered to feed people at "Eva's Kitchen"
-- a Catholic Run, government supported food kitchen in nearby Paterson,
NJ.  We provided all of the food (kosher, of course), used disposable
utensils, etc. -- our halachik concern is providing traif food to a Jew
-- plus, of course, the standard "soup kitchen" concern of the d'oraisah
of cooking basar & chalav together -- virtually everything cooked in a
"goyish" kitchen involves butter on the meat. -- we fed over 200 people
that Sunday -- and as it turned out, one of them was a young man --
perhaps 35, who was Jewish, and a member of a conservative synagogue --
he fell through the cracks - others will always fall through the cracks.
We get good feelings and help those we see -- but we don't delude
ourselves into thinking that we've made significant inroads nor that
we've reached everyone.

This all began a few years ago when someone froze to death on our city
streets -- our Rabbi led us to collect over 200 coats which a local
(Jewish) dry cleaner, cleaned for us -- and which were delivered -- "by
that Jewish Rabbi" to quote the recipients.

Faith-based, volunteer initiatives can help -- but they can't replace
full-time professional efforts.  Yes, we all feel good about the
positives that we accomplish -- but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Although that experience is distant in my memory -- I must point out
that I was born on a freight train and I remember the importance of
"Care Packages" for sustaining our family -- both physically and knowing
someone cared.

Carl Singer


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 18:00:35 -0500
Subject: HaShavas Aveidah

Without over-burdening all the mail severs, I was wondering if you could
pass this around to assist in locating the proper owner.

Late last night, my family & I returned from Cleveland to Baltimore. At
one rest stop along the way, we noticed a frum woman wearing a snood
enter the building. She returned to the car & her husband, wearing a
kippa serugah, used the facilities. We assume that there was a child in
the car sleeping, that they took turns watching, or else they would have
gone in together.

Meanwhile, my wife & I also used the rest area, where-upon my wife &
another woman located a diamond ring resting by the sinks in the women's
restroom.  The theory here is that the frum woman removed her ring to
wash for HaMotzei.

Before we could put all the peices of this puzzle together, they had
driven off and we don't know who they are. If you know of someone who
was travelling this route or part of it - most likely going to the
Baltimore, Silver Spring or DC area - last night (Wendesday night), if
they have at least one child and lost a ring, please have them contact
us to assist in reuniting ring and owner.

Tizku l'mitzvos!

Micah Males


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 13:05:17 -0600
Subject: Re: lack of killing in Plagues/ Pre-Exodus story

>From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
>I noticed today that the part of Sefer Shmot which includes the Plagues
>seems relatively timid in terms of killing (or attempting to do so) -
>certainly in comparison with earlier and later parts of the Torah.
>There are two sides to this observation:
>a) Why does Paro allow Moshe to approach him so freely? There is no
>mention of any attempt to arrest him (we saw how Yosef was thrown in the
>dungeon) or to kill him (we see in the story of Yosef that people who
>didn't show the proper respect for the king were killed). Perhaps God
>protected Moshe, but why isn't this mentioned in the text? Moshe was
>someone who was challenging the entire rule of the king and bringing
>economic destruction on all of Egypt. Why don't we see more opposition?

I heard an interesting take on this fro Rabbi Yehiel Poupko in Chicago.
He argues that this is the result of Moshe growing up in the palace -
that he could come and go as he wished (Either because he knew the
guards, the passageways, etc.)

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226


From: Michael S. Lipkin <msl@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 22:28:47 -0500
Subject: Making of a Godol - In defense of

The following is excerpted from a letter written by Rav Yitzchank Hutner
zt"l.  The letter appears in Pachad Yitzchak: Igrot U'ketavim (#128).

 (This information comes from the weekly parsha sheet Hamaayan/The Torah
Spring for the week of 1/18/03.)  The letter was written to a former
student of Rav Hutner's who was experiencing some spiritual struggles.

        It is a terrible problem that when we discuss the greatness of
our gedolim, we actually deal only with the end of their stories.  We
tell about their perfection, but we omit any mention of the inner
battles which raged in their souls.  The impression one gets is that
they were created with their full stature.

        For example, everyone is impressed by the purity of the Chofetz
Chaim's speech.  However, who knows about all the wars, the battles, the
impediments, the downfalls, and the retreats that the Chofetz Chaim
experienced in his fight with the evil inclination?!

        As a result [of this gap in our knowledge of gedolim], when a
young man who is imbued with a [holy] spirit and with ambition
experiences impediments and downfalls he believes that he is not planted
in the house of Hashem.

Michael Lipkin


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 18:29:28 -0500
Subject: RE: Names & Prohibition of Superstition

Leah Gordon (v38n31) strongly protests a mj posting in which someone
notes that say person A named after person B died in an almost identical
way to A

Leah asks why such a posting even made it to mj and noted that it is

I just wanted to add that the Biblical source for the prohibition that
Leah mentions is in fact Dt18-10:12. According to Jewish law this
prohibits associating causal authority to coincidences--e.g.  saying >I
had a bad day because a black cat passed my path< or >Wednesdays are a
good day to do such and such<.

(Technically, to base ones future actions on such coincidences is
punishable by lashes; it is permissable however eg to say >Since I
married this woman I have had success in business<. It would appear to
me however that backward association (success since I married) is only
permissable if the act could have helped the situation (Eg the marriage
made him a nicer person and this led to success.) However to make a
backward association on a total coincidence would be Biblically
prohibited (Though not punishable by lashes)

However I should caution that there have been published studies that
names DO affect people. For example a study of 10000 prison inmates
found that a statistically significantly amount had strange
names. Apparently, the article suggested, this strange names placed a
burden on them. Similarly calling people after famous people (eg
Abraham, Moses) placed a burden on people. So we DO have a legitimate
causal relationship here.

In fact a well known story relates how Rav Meir was saved from a hotel
robbery because he "knew" from someones name that he was a criminal. But
I would still agree with Leah that attributing the method of death to
the name is not a meaningful cause and hence Biblically prohibited.

I believe this is an interesting halachic problem with many facets!

Russell Jay Hendel; RASHI:http://www.RashiYomi.com/
WEB:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RashiYomi_Job/
EMAIL: <RashiYomi_Job-subscribe@...>


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 11:02:42 -0800
Subject: Status of Second Wives

I am looking for source material concerning similarities and differences
between halachic treatment of first and second (or higher-order) wives.
For instance, if a man who has been divorced or widowed remarries:

	(a) Is the new wife "less valued" sociologically than the first
wife?  Do I remember correctly that only a first wife can be buried
beside her husband?  If I remember correctly, does this apply equally to
situations involving divorce and death of the first wife?

	(b) Are there any differences in the husband's obligations to
provide materially for her, and any children the new marriage may
produce, from the husband's obligations to the first wife and to the
children from his first marriage?

	(c) Apart from material provisions, is the status, and priority,
of the children of the "new" marriage any different from the status of
the issue of the first marriage?

	(d) More generally, since needs and wants are often infinite,
whereas both monetary and nonmonetary resources are always finite, what
if any halachot apply to guiding the "prioritization" of the needs and
wants, both for material provisions and for attention and affection, of
children from the prior marriage vs. the new wife, whether or not the
new marriage produces children?

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone with knowledge of relevant
source material could post it to the list.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


End of Volume 38 Issue 40