Volume 39 Number 08
                 Produced: Mon Apr 28  5:43:02 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Candle Lighting when away from Home
         [Richard Fiedler]
Daas Torah Article in RJJ Journal
         [I Kasdan]
Hand Clapping
         [Yisrael Medad]
The Living "Gods"??
         [C. Halevi]
Men's Razors
         [David Ziants]
Pesach shiurim
         [Isaac A Zlochower]
Rabbi Solomon Schechter
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Repurchase of Chometz - Notification
         [Carl Singer]
Women and Halacha
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Women learning Gemarah
         [Batya Medad]


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 20:14:44 +0300
Subject: Re: Candle Lighting when away from Home

For those who might think that the prohibitions against real candles are
arbitrary I feel compelled to relate a real and embarrassing actual
event that happened to my wife and myself a few years ago at a hotel in
London.  Friday night my wife lit tea candles and a few hours later we
awoke with fire alarms, a fire in progress and shortly hotel staff
banging on the door. We benched gomel next morning at the Marble Arch

Battery operated lights should be required by all of us.


From: I Kasdan <Ikasdan@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 09:02:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Daas Torah Article in RJJ Journal

I would like to point out and commend to the list Rabbi Alfred Cohen's
nicely developed, fairly extensive and in many respects very open and
different kind of article on "Daat Torah" in the most recent RJJ Journal
of Halacha and Contemporary Society (Vol. XLV, Spring 2003).

One small point. 

Rabbi Cohen cites the gemorah in Bava Basra 12a and Ritva there as a
"source/basis" for Daas Torah.  In Rabbi Bernard Weinberger's Jewish
Observer October 1963 article entitled: "The Role of the Gedolim", Rabbi
Weinberger writes in regard to Daas Torah that a Gadol possesses "a
special endowment or capacity to penetrate objective reality, recognize
the facts as they 'really' are and apply the pertinent Halachic
principles.  It [i.e., Daas Torah endowment] is a form of 'Ruach
Hakodesh,' as it were, which borders if only remotely on the periphery
of prophecy." Professor Lawrence Kaplan in his Fall 1980 Tradition
article and later longer piece published by the Orthodox Forum in
"Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy" had criticized Rabbi
Weinberger's characterization of Daas Torah as semi-prophetic.  Although
Rabbi Cohen in his article does not cite to Rabbi Weinberger's article
or Professor Kaplan's criticism of Rabbi Weinberger's statement in
particular, I believe (as I had once earlier written on another
listserv) however, that the gemorah and the Ritva clearly are the
sources for Rabbi Weinberger's statement.

Specifically, the gemorah deals with "miyom shecharav Beis Hamikdash"
regarding nevuah being given to [or not being taken from] chachamim ...
The Ritva [which I originally found cited in the Kosav in the Ein Yaacov
on the gemorah there] says, based on the gemorah, that nevuah was given
to the chachamim to allow them to comprehend with their "sechel", i.e.,
intellectual faculties, many things that others would not naturally
comprehend. Ayain sham.  Compare this to Rabbi Weinberger's statement

I do not pretend to understand precisely (or even remotely) what the
gemorah meant -- or for that matter exactly what the Ritva was
conveying -- with regard to chachamim and nevuah. Nonetheless, R.
Aharon Feldman explained in a letter to the Editor to Tradition (Spring
1994, at page 97), that the decision-making of Rabbanim (gedolim) are
based on their intellectual, human capacity -- notwithstanding the
"presence" of the schechina -- which seems to be the import of the
Ritva.  Moreover, if one looks in R. Rakefet's book on the Rav ztl
(vol. 2 at page 189 re "The Divine Presence") one also finds the Rav
speaking of how he felt the shechina standing behind him at times when
he was engaged in learning at night.  I do not think that people would
accuse the Rav of claiming nevuah -- and I don't think that Rabbi
Weinberger really meant any different in his original article.

Yitzchak Kasdan


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 22:56:22 +0200
Subject: Hand Clapping

The Mishna Brurah 339:3 notes the prohibition of hand clapping on the
Shabbat, either as an expression of sorrow by a mourner or as an
expression of joy.  Hand clapping is defined there as palm to palm or
palm on thigh.  This is based on the Mishna in Beitza 36B.

Rav Neurwirth clarifies this by saying that if it is for the sake of a
mitzva and is done by palm to back of hand, thus effecting a change from
the normal way of clapping, then it is permitted (16:43 and 28:36)

Recently, I am witness to the spread of expressions of exultation,
either by adopting certain Chasidic practices (Breslav especially) or
just in general, done by hand clapping in the middle of prayer on
Shabbat.  I find it annoying but it seems many more people find it
annoying when the hand clapping is done davka during the Amidah, when
the prayer is to be silent.  It sure does knock me off my kavana even
though my kavana could use some improvement in any case.

My first Rabbinic consultation (as I am on the Gabbai staff, it's my
lot) sort of tried to find ways of dealing positively with the practice
(except for it being done during the silent devotion) viewing it as the
result of spiritual uplifting and thereby seeking leniency.

Before I really roll up my sleeves, has anyone out there done research
or dealt with it on a practical basis?  My bias is that it should not be
allowed at all but, as usual, a compromise is in the offing, so how has
it been done in other places, or not?

Please, no hand clapping after reading this.

Yisrael Medad


From: C. Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 13:38:03 -0500
Subject: The Living "Gods"??

Shalom, All:

        Regarding the interpretation of "aylu vi'aylu deevray Elhoheem
chayim, Ralph Zwier calls our attention to >>the odd expression "chayim"
as a description of G-d. (Elokim Chayim) .>> He then councludes >>My
theory is that chayyim is separated from Elokim by a comma. It is not a
descriptor of G-d at all. Chayyim here is not to be interpreted as
"living" but "raw" as in uncooked.So the expression means something like
this: "These and these are the words of G-d, in a pre-processed
	Even if one disagrees with Reb Ralph's interpretation, he has
forced us to notice that the term "Eloheem" should carry a singular
adjective or verb, because there is only one God -- but "chayim" is
	Indeed, the very first words of the Torah say Eloheem created
the world, and the Hebrew for "created" is singular. Why, then, do we
use the plural "chayim" instead of the singular "chai?"

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 23:28:56 +0300
Subject: Men's Razors

Approx. a year and a half ago I asked a similar question concerning the
Philips 6800 series of shavers, and received a number of responses both
privately, and to the forum (which can be found on the mail-jewish

A number of years ago Machon Zomet, used to have a list of permissible
shavers, the technical tests for halachic permissibility being made
based on Rabbi Shabtai Rapaport's ruling (which was based on Rabbi Moshe
Feinstein oral rulings). Many of the later models of Philips shavers,
which were tested, didn't pass.

Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitz has also written a teshuva on the subject, which
is based on a different halachic reasoning and he gives a more lenient
ruling on this issue.

In the volume of techumin published about a year ago (I am sorry but I
don't have the source reference at hand), a new article was written by
Machon Zomet, detailing Rabbi Rabinovitz's ruling, and expressing this
as their now preference (although they say it is still better to be
stringent). I understand that computer simulations have helped them come
to this conclusion.

Machon Zomet told me at the time, that they have stopped running the old
tests and so I guess they no longer maintain their shaver list. I don't
know whether the shaver companies can sell alternate blades for those
who want to be stringent.

Hoping that I managed to summarise accurately what I recall on this

David Ziants  
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 15:29:11 -0400
Subject: Pesach shiurim

The currently widespread adherence to the printed minimum shiurim for a
zayit-size piece of matza, or moror, or the size of the kiddush cup is,
of course, not of ancient vintage.  I, personally, have a number of
problems with the listed shiur for a zayit, and for the concern in
general that our eggs may not be a large as they were in the times of
the talmud.  It seems to me that modern laying hens have been bred
extensively to produce large eggs efficiently.  Their feed has also been
developed to provide adequate nutrition for such production.  If there
was a time in eastern and central Europe where the egg-size had been
diminished relative to more ancient periods - that time has long passed.
The comment by the author of the Aruch Ha'shulchan writing in Lita at
the turn of the 20th century illustrates the point.  He discusses the
issue of egg-size reduction raised first by the Nodah Bi'yehuda in 18th
century Prague (he disagrees with the need to double the talmudic
shiurim expressed in egg-size) and notes that egg-size had increased in
his own lifetime after the introduction of a new breed of hen.  I,
therefore, do not see the basis for assuming that our large-size eggs
(especially, extra-large or jumbo) are not at least as large as those
that prevailed in the time of the talmud.  This argument relates
especially to the minimum shiur of matza if the zayit is taken as half
the volume of an egg.  The assumed 2:1 ratio of the volume of egg: olive
is, itself, highly conservative.  Even the "Gigante" size olives that I
see in my large supermarket's deli counter are much less than half of a
large egg (the Rambam's third of an egg is closer to modern reality).
If there remains a discrepancy between the shiur of an egg based on
volume measurement and that based on the etzba (thumb) - 7.2 cubic
etzba'ot = 1 egg volume, the problem may be in the estimate for the
etzba.  One should ask just how the measurements were made by the Nodah
Bi'yehuda, Chazon Ish, R' Chaim Na'eh, and R' Moshe Feinstein?
Specifically, how was the sampling done and how were the measurements
made on thumbs?  Mass measurements of thumb size are not easy (without
thumb distortion due to pressure), and measuring a limited number of
people is hardly a representative sampling.  The substantial difference
in etzba estimates used by the above authorities come to at least a
factor of 2 difference in volume estimate.  What supporting evidence is
available to assess the reliability of any of these measurements?  Keep
in mind that the science of measurement is totally independent of
analytical ability in talmud study or vast knowledge of talmud and

In addition, I have not seen a clear reference to an authoritative
halachic code which requires elimination of the small air spaces in a
matza in order to measure its volume (an asumption made by the sheets on
matza shiur).  It seems to me that such air spaces are intrinsic in the
normal making of matza and should not require an attempted elimination
through the use of matza-meal in measuring the volume of a given weight
of matza.  I say attempted elimination advisedly because the volume of a
given weight of crushed matza will be dependent on the fineness of the
grind and whether the column of ground meal has been compacted by
rapping the sides of the column and banging the upright container on the
table.  Instead of such a rather arbitrary procedure, why not try to
measure the volume of finished pieces of matza after lightly coating
them to inhibit water absorption?

Yitzchok Zlochower


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 12:35:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Rabbi Solomon Schechter

>From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
>> 1)my reference to feminism being a rebbellion against Hashem was directed
>> at the leadership, who like moses menelson, abraham gieger (reform),
>> zacharia frankel, soloman shecter(conservative) in their desire to rebel
>Are you familiar with the opinions of Rabbi Solomon Schechter?  If so, I
>challenge you to find among his views opinions that are inconsistent
>with modern orthodoxy.  In fact, my understanding is that until the
>1940's, Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) smicha was accepted in much of
>the orthodox movement.

There was a nice article recently in the AJS Review chronicling the
separation of Orthodoxy from Conservative Judaism.  As in all processes, it
was gradual.  At least the first graduating smicha class from JTS (before
Schechter arrived) is accepted by the Orthodox by and large as authentic
and it contained the notable former chief rabbi of the british empire,
Rabbi Dr. JH Hertz (of the Hertz chumash)

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: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 09:45:11 EDT
Subject: Repurchase of Chometz - Notification

I was wondering how other communities / congregations deal with
determining that their shaliach (usually the Rabbi) has, indeed,
repurchased the chometz which they sold prior to Yom Tov?

My wife, a fully credentialed Litvak, will not use any of our sold
chometz until she has firsthand knowledge that the repurchase has been
successful.  (The roots of this stringency - I might call it a mishigas
:) go back to an incident involving her GreatGrandfather when he was
Rabbi in a small West Virginia community.)  In any case, she makes it a
point to actually call the Rabbi and speak with him -- failing to reach
him, she waits and abstains.  As an aside, I purchase beer from a
non-Jew en route home from shule after Pesach ends in order to make

After the fact, I was thinking that since many Congregations have
web-sights, email lists, telephone dialers and / or message machines
that one of these might provide a useful vehicle for notification that
the chometz has been repurchased.  Any thoughts or experiences to share?

Carl Singer

BTW -- Schmura Matzoh prices have fallen drastically in the last two


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 12:21:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Women and Halacha

>Nonetheless, we should remember that less than a century ago, the
>enfranchisement of women was very controversial within the frum world,
>with some gedolim extremely opposed, seeing the vote as potentially
>destroying the traditional role of women.  Now, women in all frum
>communities vote and no one thinks twice.

janet makes a very important point here.  the very nature of orthodox
religion of any stripe is conservative, and things that are taken for
granted today by the most religious were controversial in their day - eg
photography or sermons in the vernacular (one of the chief demands of the
reformers in germany 2 centuries ago).  a great example is shemot 4:25 when
miriam circumcises gershom using a flint, a stone-age implement.  this is
not to say that every change must be embraced, but it does argue that not
every new idea is inherently bad.  

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: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 20:04:45 +0200
Subject: Re: Women learning Gemarah

Today, in the teachers' room of the yeshiva high school where I work, I
overheard a student and his rabbi talking about his studying for his
gemorah bagrut/final.  The rabbi suggested he study in the yeshiva in a
group with him, but the boy replied that he would get more out of
studying at home--with his mother.  The young man insisted that his
mother is the best gemorah teacher he has ever had!



End of Volume 39 Issue 8