Volume 39 Number 66
                 Produced: Wed Jun  4  6:41:40 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bicycles and Chairs
Bicycles on Shabbat
         [Akiva Miller]
Counting Early
         [Yakov Spil]
D.H.L. in Judaic Studies Programs
         [Josh Backon]
Ethical Behavior & Halacha
         [Carl Singer]
Goals of Judaism (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Yehuda Landy]
Group Aliyot (2)
         [Martin D. Stern, Carl Singer]
Vaccines and Halakha
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 07:39:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Acronyms

> I have seen letters signed by rabbis with the acronym "S"T" i.e.
> Sepharadi Tahor.

S"T' has a four hundred year old history. What is seems to mean is that
the writers family was not among the Marronoss (who contrary to popular
literature, were look down upon in there times, as Jews who would
pretend to forsake Torah for material wealth, as opposed to going in


From: <syaffe@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:50:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Bicycles and Chairs

Chairs and watches do not typically need tikun maneh and watches t any
rate cannot be fixed by the average watch wearer, bicycles do. If you
look at the conceptual framework bicycles are similar to musical
instruments in likeleyhood to need repair and the likely ability of the
user to do that repair. most musicians can fix/ tune their instruments,
most bicycle riders can fix a chain, adjust a derrailuer etc.  

If you take a "broad" approach to Halachic derivation the bicycle fits
into the same "pattern" both statistically and mechanically as a musical
instrument. From the perspective of shabbat bicycles and guitars belong
to the same "class" or "set" as they share identical melacha
profiles. The very fact that the practice of not riding bicycles has
become the norm throught all the Orthodox communities from left to right
I have been in(and "Rabosi, they are many")should cause us to seek a
reason, as the halachah follows these types of mimetic norms, anyway 


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 08:01:55 -0400
Subject: re: Bicycles on Shabbat

In MJ 39:64, "Anonymous" claimed that post-Talmudic rabbis *do* have the
authority to make new decrees. He gave three examples:

<<< Are the restrictions practiced by Jews during the Omer (not marrying
or cutting hair) not binding, since it appears nowhere in the Talmud? >>>

Those restrictions are not in the category of "new rabbinic decrees".
They are customs. They are binding, but only insofar as any other
long-established Jewish custom is binding.

<<< 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? >>>

This too is not in the category of "new rabbinic decrees". It is called
a "cherem", which means that if someone violates it, he is subject to
certain sanctions imposed by the community. This too is a sort of
custom, accepted by Ashkenazic communities.

<<< 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? >>>

Sorry, I never heard of this one before. [Could Anonymous give some
additional information here? Mod.]

Akiva Miller


From: Yakov Spil <yspil@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 07:53:24 -0400
Subject: Counting Early

I have heard b'shem Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zl that one may count as early
a 25 minutes past shkiah.  But most poskim hold one must wait longer.

But I have a proof from a Shaarei Teshuva that counting early only works
on the previous day.  In siman tof pay tes- we have the question if
someone forgot to count on Thursday night and he is davening early on
Friday night.  He has already said Borchu which means he has accepted
Shabbos and which further means it is the next day- and at the end of
davening he realizes he did not count- can he still count since he has
transcended Friday and gone into Shabbos but it is not after shkiah yet?

The answer is he may still count without a brocho and then resume with a
brocho on Friday night after tzeis.


Yakov Spil


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Tue,  3 Jun 2003 15:06 +0200
Subject: Re: D.H.L. in Judaic Studies Programs

You could do a DHL at Spertus College. But you could also do a PhD by
publication at a number of British universities. That's if you have
published a book (sefer) and have a number of peer-reviewed journal
publications. Do a search on www.google.com for "PhD by publication".



From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:23:23 EDT
Subject: Ethical Behavior & Halacha

Is there an "honor code" equivalent in halacha -- perhaps better worded
are secular honor codes rooted in halacha?

A common form of an honor code is:

        I will not lie, cheat or steal -- OR TOLERATE THOSE WHO DO.
             -- which possibly encroaches on Loshen Hora.

Carl Singer


From: Eitan Fiorino <tony.fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:58:48 -0400 
Subject: RE: Goals of Judaism

> From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
> Akiva Miller wrote:
> >I think he should consider the possiblity that he's mistaken about what
> >the "goals" of Judaism are. I'm not sure it even HAS any goals by which
> >its success or failure might be judged.
> I have heard this argument before and, though convincing, it is not
> intellectually satisfying.  Certainly, we have a role in life beyond
> simply doing our Creator's will ... at the very least, to advance good
> in the world.

According to the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim, the purpose of the halachah
(not much of a stretch to say this is a goal of Judaism) is to shape
good, moral people who will in turn create a good, moral, functioning
society. If one wanted to acknowledge failure on this note, one could
say we have failed on this count because (1) most Jews are not observant
of halachah and (2) we are not in a position to be able to fully
implement the halachah.  The argument would be that for halachah to be
truly transformative for the Jewish people, these two criteria would
have to be met.

Alternatively, one could argue that such a goal HAS been met, at least
partially.  One example might be the proliferation and success of an
enormous number of charitable organizations in the Jewish community - in
my view, the amount given to tzedakah by Jews can be viewed as a clear
success of the halachic mandate.  Though my evidence is anecdotal, my
strong impression is that the level of charitable giving in the Jewish
community is high relative to say, the average American household.

I also think that the debate over whether love of G-d is part of taryag
mitzvot argues that fostering love of G-d is also a goal of Judaism.


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 13:03:44 +0300
Subject: Goals of Judaism

> From: <Harry459@...> (Harry Schick)
> I recently had a discussion with someone whose claim was that Judaism
> and Orthodoxy in particular had to be considered a failure. His
> reasoning?  The two main goals of Judaism would have to be the
> establishment of a just and honest society on the one hand which is
> nowhere to be found and/or the bringing of the Meshiach--which according
> to the accounting of having to happen within 6 thousand years looks also
> like a failure. Even if Meshiach was to come tomorrow (Gd willing) it
> would be hard to give the Jews credit as it is almost at the deadline
> where he is to come anyway. The only thing one can say as a success is
> that the Jews are still around-but who gets credit for that-was Gd about
> to let them die out. What is the counter arguement? Thanks.

This is a valid issue and would require an in depth answer. I'll try to
offer two approaches. First let me mention that the Mishnah at the end
of Sotah describes the very low spiritual level the world will be
holding during the period referred to ik'veta d'mshicha (just prior to
the arrival of the Moshiach). This shows that the current situation fits
the original script; the only question is how.

	The Chofetz Chayim in his sefer Tzipi'ta L'yeshua raises this
issue. On the one hand we're expected to reach perfection in order to
bring the Moshiach, while the Mishnah mentioned above seems to be
describing a reverse process.  How do both ideas fit together? The
Chofetz Chayim explains that both of course are true. A few hundred
years ago when all Jews were Torah observant each mitzvah performed had
a certain value. But the value of a mitzvah depends also on quality not
just quantity. If a mitzvah is performed under difficult circumstances
its value can increase by a hundred. During the period of ik'veta
d'mshicha the general spiritual situation will be very gloomy thus
making it more difficult for us to obey the Torah. One mitzvah performed
nowadays is equal to one hundred similar of a similar mitzvah performed
three centuries ago. With this special power, the few individuals who
against all odds obey the Torah, will be able to bring Moshiach.

	Another possible approach is the following. The process of
bringing the Moshiach is not limited to the generation of ik'veta
d'mshicha. It has begun a long time ago. It will reach its completion
during ik'veta d'mshicha.  Let's compare it to the construction of a
house. There are the foundations, the walls, the interior and the
finishing touches. The talent and effort required for the finishing
touches do not come close to what's needed for the foundations and the
walls, but a building is not complete without the finishing
touches. Likewise in our case, the world must reach perfection for the
Moshiach to arrive. Perhaps if it were for our generation to build such
a world from scratch we would never stand a chance. Fortunately, all
that's needed is those minor finishing details, which even a generation
like ours can handle.

	One may argue that nonetheless we seem to be heading away from
perfection. But of course these things are not for us to evaluate. The
Rambam in Hilchot Melachim (11:4) in the uncensored version, explains
how Christianity and Islam are actually bringing the world closer to
perfection, though to us may seem to be doing just the opposite. [By the
way, in my humble opinion the Internet fits into this script. Although
used by many for negative purposes, it gives the ability to spread
Hashem's word throughout the world very conveniently and at a low cost.]

	I hope this helps clarify the subject.

							Yehuda Landy
(02) 5341813, 5341297, FAX 5341439
HOMEPAGE http://www.neveh.org


From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 05:35:30 EDT
Subject: Re: Group Aliyot

Dear Sir,
    In a message dated 3/6/03, Aliza Berger <alizadov@...> 

<<I have read about and witnessed a group of people (two or more)
receiving an aliyah to the Torah together. The people recite the Torah
blessings in unison, and the congregation answers. However, I'm not sure
about the halachic acceptability of this. It also brings to mind the
group aliyah for children on Simchat Torah - how does that fit into
this? Seems that the principle - two voices are not heard - would act against
group aliyot being permitted. >>

    In our shul, we have the custom on Simchat Torah of calling all the
kohanim up together (ya'amod peloni ben peloni hakohen im kol hakohanim)
and one kohen reciting the berakhah on behalf of all of them, under the
principle of shomeia' ke'oneh; we do the same for the leviim. I have
always thought this an excellent way of cutting the interminable
repetition of the parshah so that everyone can have an aliyah and only
regretted that it was not extended so that, for example, shelishi could
be given to all the married men and revi'i to all the bachurim. This
would be followed by kol hane'arim as chamishi, Chatan Torah as shishi
and Chatan Bereishit as shevi'i. By doing this, the deplorable lapse in
decorum (kevod beit haknesset) which usually tends to occur on Simchat
Torah would be considerably mitigated.

Martin D. Stern
7, Hanover Gardens, Salford M7 4FQ, England
( +44(1)61-740-2745
email <mdsternm7@...>

From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:27:10 EDT
Subject: Re: Group Aliyot

      It also brings to mind the group aliyah for children on Simchat
      Torah - how does that fit into this?

I believe the Col HaNarim -- "group" aliyah on Simchas Torah as
practiced most places that I've been to involves a single adult who's
been given (or purchased) the privilege of that Aliyah -- the children
stand under a "chupah" around him.

Carl Singer


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 03:47:12 -0700
Subject: Vaccines and Halakha

Rise Goldstein did an excellent job of introducing the idea of "herd
immunity," and indeed it is well-established that there are both risks
and benefits of vaccination.  These issues can be discussed ad nauseum
on many parenting/medical lists.

However, to me the *halakhic* question is this:

What halakhic right do we have to tinker with one person's health to
save another person?  In the case of vaccination, you are likely
providing the bulk of the benefit to others (rather than the more remote
possibility of saving your own life).  If one believes that a given
vaccine has a small chance of maiming/killing one's child, and a greater
chance of contributing to herd immunity and lack of epidemic, then on
what *Jewish* basis may one choose to vaccinate?

(It seems obvious that if one believes that the vaccine is likely to
save one's own child, then it is permissable by pikuach nefesh even if
the shot draws blood etc.)

 Leah S. Gordon


End of Volume 39 Issue 66