Volume 39 Number 64
                 Produced: Tue Jun  3  5:23:00 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bicycles on Shabbat (2)
         [Anonymous, Akiva Miller]
Conversion in Moav
         [Akiva Miller]
Cottonseed Oil
         [Deborah Wenger]
Counting Early
         [Michael Kahn]
forgetting Sefirah
         [Art Werschulz]
Halakha and Vaccines
         [Ben Katz]
Kitniyot (2)
         [Chaim Wasserman, Batya Medad]
Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...?
         [Immanuel Burton]
New Gezerot
         [Eli Turkel]
Yossele Rosenblatt
         [David Olivestone]


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 10:00:08 -0400
Subject: re: Bicycles on Shabbat

Rabbi Fred Dweck writes:
>For the last time, NO RABBI has the authority to make new decrees!!

        Did someone forget to inform Rabbeinu Gershom Meor Hagolah about
his lack of authority to make decrees, such as not divorcing a woman
against her will and not reading other peoples' mail?
        Was Rabbeinu Tam unfamiliar with this rule when he prohibited
making corrections in the body of a text, and decreed that it be done
outside it?
        Are the restrictions practiced by Jews during the Omer (not
marrying or cutting hair) not binding, since it appears nowhere in the

        He also quoted R. Ovadia Yosef as stating that he did not permit
bicycle riding on Shabbat because "if I had written to simply permit it,
they would have hung me!"  Does this mean that  R. Yosef is exempt from
the commandment to dayanim that "Lo taguru mipnei ish (have fear of no

From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 11:46:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Bicycles on Shabbat

In MJ 39:61, Shlomo Yaffe wrote <<< He has a good bike ... and yup - the
chain came off. There is no question that fixing the chain is tikkun
Maneh (making a tool usable) and clearly the chain off the bike is at
least as common as the "broken harp string" of the Talmud B. Trac.
Shabbat. Hence, I am completely comfortable with this as sufficient
reason on it's own to have forbidden the use of bicycles on Shabbat. >>>

If you want to use this incident as a reason for a *personal* decision
to avoid bicycles on Shabbos, that is wonderful. But where do you get
the *prohibition* from?

Yes, fixing the bicycle chain would indeed be a forbidden type of
repair.  But there are hundreds of other objects which we cannot repair
on Shabbos, and the ONLY ONES (to my knowledge) which are forbidden to
use when in proper working order are the musical instruments.

You can't replace a door that came off it's hinges, but a working door
is okay.

You can't tighten a handle (and a drawer or other object), but if the
handle is okay then there's no problem.

You can't fix a chair whose leg or back came apart, but you can use and
sit on an intact chair.

You can't set a mechanical watch to the correct time, but you can wear
it if it is working okay (and if you consider it top be jewelry, maybe
you can even wear it when it's *not* working).

Even if you disagree with some of the above, I'm sure you can come up
with plenty of your own. Just fill in the blank: "One cannot use a
broken ____, but it's okay if it's not broken."

To repeat what Rabbi Dweck wrote in MJ 39:61, <<< This is accepted
halacha. ... from the close of the Talmud we do not make new decrees
from our own minds. ... The Rabbinate ... may say: "If your bike breaks
you may not fix it on Shabbat." But they may NOT say: "You can't ride
your bike on Shabbat, because if it breaks you MIGHT fix it!" >>>

There may -- or may not -- be *other* reasons to forbid bicycles on
Shabbos. But they are NOT in the category of musical instruments!!!

Akiva Miller


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 12:11:32 -0400
Subject: Conversion in Moav

In MJ 39:62, Moderator Avi Feldblum raised the topic of <<< What are the
definition and requirements of a Beit Din bizman hazeh (in current
times) where there is clearly no S'mecha. Where is Beit Din required
(Geirus - Conversion is clearly one, what else falls in the
requirements) >>>

How fortuitous that this question is raised in the very week when we'll
be reading Megilas Ruth in shul. (Sorry, I have never found a better
transliteration. Rut? Rus? Root? Roos? Yuch on all of them!)

We are told that a great deal of the halachos of conversion are based on
the story of Ruth, but I have always wondered: What sort of Beis Din was
out there in Moav? The criticisms leveled against Elimelech for moving
there suggest either that no Jews at all lived out there, or at least
that they were not the sort of Jews who would be fit to serve on a Beis

Has anyone else heard anything about this? It has bothered me for years.
It's difficult for me to even get past the first chapter when we read it
in shul...

Akiva Miller


From: <WengerEdit@...> (Deborah Wenger)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 08:52:48 EDT
Subject: Re: Cottonseed Oil

Danny Skaist writes:

      Sorry, but since last year Cottonseed is kitniyot.  So much for
      not adding to the list.  I was standing in the store with a can of
      tuna (starkist) in cottonseed oil (OU-P) with a note "kitniyot
      free", reading a note on the oil shelf, that cottonseed oil is
      kitniot, This year starkist gave up on, went back to soy oil and
      listed it as "for kitniyot eaters".

Hm, there seems to be a difference, then, in what is considered kitniyot
in Israel and in the US - I'm now looking at my bottle of OU-P vegetable
oil from this Pesach, which says "100% cottonseed oil." I don't know of
anyone in the US who questioned this (of course, I don't know THAT many
people... <g>).

Is there any explanation for this discrepancy?

Deborah Wenger


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 12:21:56 -0400
Subject: Re: Counting Early

>Is there a posek who says that it is allowed for the community to say
>the Omer of Shabos at the end of the early minyan?  It seems to me that
>the counting depends on the actual change from day to night.

This would depend on whether or not accepting Shabos early actually
makes Shabbos take affect early in all matters, i.e., even lakula, or
just lachumrah. It is a machlokes between the Nosay Kailim on Shulchan
Aruch, if one who is mkabel Shmini Atzeres before the zman must still
eat in the succah (argueing that his kabala of Yom Tov only requires him
to keep it lechumrah) or not (argueing that his kabala of Yom Tov is not
just a chumra but rather makes it Yom Tov for him in all aspects.)
Simmilarly, only if early kablas shabas means it is REALLY shabbos for
him, then he may count.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 10:45:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: forgetting Sefirah


Sam Saal mentioned using an electronic watch with a built-in alarm,
which he sets to go off at a time appropriate for sefirat ha-omer.

My wife came across a sefira program for her Palm Pilot.  From the looks
of things, it's the one found at http://www.penticon.com/omer.html.

It contains the full text of sefirat ha-omer, with the day/week count
and the kabbalistic sefira (e.g,. "hod she'b'malchut") changing at the
proper time.  Moreover, you can set it to play a reminder (the "hineni
muchan umzuman" tune) at said time.  This latter feature got a lot of
chuckles at a recent evening committee meeting at our shul.

Art Werschulz 
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 10:40:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Halakha and Vaccines

>From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
>It is *not* necessarily the case that one who does not vaccinate puts
>his or her family, or community, at risk.  Not every member of a family,
>or community, has to be vaccinated in order for epidemics to be
>prevented.  In epidemiology there is a concept called "herd immunity,"
>which basically means that if a large majority (generally, 75-80%,
>though there could be diseases where the needed vaccination prevalence
>would be higher) is vaccinated against Disease X, then epidemics of that
>disease will not occur.  Therefore, even if some individuals don't
>vaccinate themselves or their children, there could still easily be more
>than adequate protection against transmission of the disease(s) in
>question for the respective families or communities.
>NOTE: I'm not trying to encourage wholesale refusal to vaccinate, but
>only noting that well-founded refusals in limited numbers of cases do
>not automatically put families or communities in danger.

         Rise is technically correct but practically wrong.  It's is true 
 that if everyone else in the world were vaccinated except you that there 
 would be no issue.  The problem is that there is a tiny risk to 
 immunization (altho the risk of getting the diseases in question is MUCH 
 greater) and if too many people think that risk is too great (e.g., 
 because they don't realize how bad the  diseases being prevented can be) 
 then immunization will not work.  (And BTW the 75-80% figure is probably 
 too low for most vaccine preventable diseases.)  There are legitamite 
 MEDICAL reasons to defer immunizations and in some individuals (around 5% 
 for most vaccines) the vaccine doesn't "take" for one reason or another, 
 so the population is never 100% immunized anyway.  Communities that 
 refuse immunizations (eg Christian Scientists) sporadically get outbreaks 
 of vaccine-preventiable diseases.  The Jewish community should never 
 suffer such a tragedy because of mistaken ideas of frumkeit.


From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 13:39:51 EDT
Subject: Re: Kitniyot

Akiva Miller writes in MJ 39:61 <<
      However relevant this [g'zeirah of kitinyot] was a thousand
      years ago, it has lost none of its relevance>>

This can easily be understood from several vantage points.  What has to
be open to question and serious consideration is the issue of kitniyot
derivatives and how far current American "standards" (fired up by
chassidic zeal) has taken the matter of kitniyot.

Chaim Wasserman

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 20:41:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Kitniyot

      <<Canola was OK for a number of years, but now usuable oil seems
      to be limited to cottonseed.>>

What's wrong with olive oil?  It's healthy, tasty and definitely not



From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 16:34:29 +0100
Subject: Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...?

If one is asked (in a non-shidduch situation) the following: "I heard
such-and-such a story about you - is it true?", and the story happens to
be true, how should one reply?

If one replies, "Yes, it is true", then has told lashon horah about
oneself, but if one replies, "No" then one has told a lie.  It seems
that from a Halachic point of view one's stuck between a rock and a hard

One could reply by asking, "Do you think it's true?".  If the other
person replies that they do, then one can ask, "If that's the case, then
why are you asking?", and is they reply that they do not, then one can
ask, "If that's the case, then why are you following it up?".

However, if the person thinks it's true and they answer that they do,
then they have told lashon horah about themselves, and if they think
it's true and they answer that the don't then they have told a lie, and
so one has put them in the same position that thay put oneself.

 From a non-Halachic point of view, not replying at all may be taken as
confirmation that it is true.

What, then, is the best way to react to an "Is it true" question if it
is true?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 12:45:40 GMT
Subject: New Gezerot

> For the last time, NO RABBI has the authority to make new decrees!!
> This is accepted halacha.

while this is halacha never the less there have been many attempts (some
more successful than others) to introduce new gezerot without the formal
word gezerah (try cherem, daas torah etc).

many years a number of major rabbis in Israel came out with an issue to
use modern inventions to circumvent shabbat and other halachot, eg a
shabat telephone that would allow talking on shabbat without violating
any prohibition. The reasoning behind this was that it ruin the spirit
of shabbat though no technical issur was invloved.  When timers were
first invented there were similar calls against the use of a shabbat
clock.  Other examples include the use of umbrellas and bicycles on

Chazon Ish tried to prohibit the use of electricity in Israel on
shabbat. It was clear that he did not claim that any formal work on
shabbat was involved but rather he claimed it was a chillul hashem to
use a product run by Jews on shabbat.

Eli Turkel,  <turkel@...> on 02/06/2003
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University


From: David Olivestone <davido@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 14:43:48 -0400 
Subject: Yossele Rosenblatt

For an article I am preparing for the fall issue of Jewish Action about
Yossele Rosenblatt, on the occasion of his 70th yahrzeit, I am looking
for any information concerning how well-known he was to the general
public across America.  I am specifically interested in any information
or stories about his appearances on the concert stage and in vaudeville,
beyond that which is well-known from his biography and other published

Many thanks for your help.

David Olivestone
Director of Communications and Marketing
Orthodox Union
Eleven Broadway, New York, NY 10004
Tel: 212.613.8221 .  Fax: 212.613.0737


End of Volume 39 Issue 64