Volume 39 Number 68
                 Produced: Thu Jun  5  5:36:39 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Ben Katz]
Bicycles and Chairs
         [Stan Tenen]
Bicycles on Shabbat (2)
         [Michael Rogovin, Frank Silbermann]
Bracha on Tefila shel Rosh
         [David I. Cohen]
Corrections in a text (Was: Bicycles on Shabbat)
         [Joshua Adam Meisner]
Forgetting Sfirah
         [Dov Teichman]
Halakha and Vaccines
         [Harry Schick]
Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...? (3)
         [Akiva Miller, Gil Student, Robert Israel]
Rosenblum article -- question re Choosing Jewish Leaders
         [David I. Cohen]
Safek bracha
Sefira Question
         [Ed Goldstein]
Vaccines and Halakha
         [Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 12:59:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Acronyms

>From: Evan Rock <theevanrock@...>
>Where does the need for acronyms in our Jewish lives come from?  At a
>dinner at a kiruv organization, one of the honorees deemed it necessary
>to address the audiance and let them them know that she and her husband
>are a "FFBs", i.e. a Frum From Birth!  I have seen letters signed by
>rabbis with the acronym "S"T" i.e.  Sepharadi Tahor!

         acronyms are used as a form of code by groups.  when they
transfer lots of information in a compact way (eg a dr. saying a patient
had an MI) they are useful.  when obscure, when the information is not
really compacted or when used as a means of exclusion they are less so.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 07:59:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Bicycles and Chairs

>From: <syaffe@...>
>and watches [a]t any rate cannot be fixed by the average watch wearer,

This is not so.

First, of course, until recently, watches needed to be wound, and to do
so can easily become reflexive when it's first noticed that the watch
has stopped.

And of course, that also means a watch may need to be reset.  (Is this
any different than resetting a chain on a bike?)

Now that watches often do not need to be manually wound, they are either
automatically wound by an internal pendulum or weight that swings/moves
whenever the wearer does, or they are electronic.  If they're
electronic, then adjusting a watch is just as prohibited as adjusting
the volume control on a radio, or the temperature control on a stove.

And of course, watches can be expensive, and even expensive watches can
lose their crown by accident.  If the crown isn't picked up and
immediately replaced (and/or the mechanism otherwise protected) the
watch could become irreparable.

Watch bands also break.  That means that the watch either has to be
abandoned on the street, or picked up and carried in a pocket.

In other words, watches and bicycles are very similar.  Thankfully,
they're not the same size. <smile>

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 14:23:39 GMT
Subject: Re: Bicycles on Shabbat

<syaffe@...> writes 
> 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.

I must be missing something in the halachic framework which someone can
perhaps clarify. There is a difference between *fixing* something that
malfunctions so that it cannot be used at all (a broken chair leg,
bicycle chain off its gears, a musical instrument with a broken string)
which happens sometimes, but not always or even typically, and *tuning*
an instrument, without which the instrument functions but doesn't sound
the way it should, or the way it needs to for a particular song.

While tuning some instruments (like a piano) is a complex process done
by experts and only rarely for most outside concert halls), tuning a
guitar, on the other hand, is part of playing: *every time* a guitar is
played, it is tuned; often certain strings are tuned up or down for a
particular song. It is a normal part of playing. Nobody picks up a
guitar or a violin, without tuning it. This is not a repair, it is an
adjustment (more akin to raising or lowering an adjustable chair which I
would think would not be problamatic on shabbat, or changing gears on a
bike).  Whether or not tuning an instrument like a guitar is permitted,
I don't see the connection to a bicycle.

While bicycles need regular maintenance, they do not need to be fixed or
adjusted at all before each ride (except perhaps for a race or all day
tour, and even then it is just a precaution). You get on and
ride. Contemporary bikes rarely have chains that break or fall off and
need to be fixed or adjusted. It may or may not have been true at one
time, but if so the facts have changed and that simply does not make
sense as the basis of a prohibition. Fixing a bicycle is fixing
something broken; without fixing it it cannot be used at all. It is like
fixing a broken string or a chair leg.

I do not advocate bicycle rising on shabbat, but if it is permitted it
is permitted. I also do not believe there is a custom not to ride
bicycles; there is a prohibition based on certain understandings of
bicycles. If those understandings are based on incorrect assumptions,
then the prohibitions MAY no longer be valid, if they were ever valid in
the first place. Kids tricycles or bicycles should not be a problem at

Michael Rogovin

From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 07:18:46 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Bicycles on Shabbat

So, has any thought been given to the design of human propelled wheeled
vehicles that _don't_ tend to need periodic adjustment and repair?  What
I have in mind is something like a bicycle, but with a drive shaft
instead of a chain, and with tires that do not deflate.

We would have to make it look strange so that people don't think the
rider is ignoring the anti-bicycle opinions, but it does seem doable.

By the way, what is the opinion on roller blades?  You cannot repair or
adjust them very easily.  There's no danger of "plowing" a field because
those tiny wheels only work on paved surfaces.

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 12:00:47 -0400
Subject: Bracha on Tefila shel Rosh

<<All this talk about safek bracha got me to think.  The brocho on the
tfila shel rosh is in dispute.  Those who make it even follow up with
"baruch shem..etc" which is said after a brocho l'vatala (unnecessary

Why is this disputed brocho different from other disputed brochot ??>>

By the tefila shel rosh, the issue is not the requirement of a second
bracha (which would then not be said because of safek brachot l'hakel
--when in doubt do not say a bracha), but a more fundamental question in
the Gemara, i.e. are the tefila shel yad and the shel rosh, one mitzva
of tefillin, or two separate mitzvot. Although the rule is that they are
two separate mitzvot and therefore require 2 separate brachot. However,
since there is a possibility that tefillin is one mitzva (thus only one
bracha) we say the "baruch shem" after the second bracha, just in case
we should not have said it.

There is an intersting Shagas Aryeh on this, including the question of
whether a one armed person puts on the tefila shel rosh. (I'm at work so
I'm sorry I do not have the citation).

David I. Cohen


From: Joshua Adam Meisner <jam390@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 23:40:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Corrections in a text (Was: Bicycles on Shabbat)

	In 39:64, Anonymous wrote with reference to Rabbi Fred Dweck's
statement that no rabbi has the authority to make new decrees:

>         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?

	Where is this gezeira of Rabbeinu Tam brought down?



From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 11:08:36 -0400
Subject: Forgetting Sfirah

Thank you Shlomo Pick for correcting me.

The Beis Halevi writes in his Tshuvos (Vol. 1, Siman 39) that one who
forgets to count and therefore cannot proceed counting on subsequent
nights with a brocho, may nevertheless count on the 7th, 14th,
etc. nights WITH a brocho since there is a separate mitzvah to count the
weeks' completion.

This halacha is mentioned by Rabbi Gavriel Zinner in the Nitei Gavriel
Vol 3 of Hilchos Pesach and he mentions that Rabbi Ahron Kotler and
Rabbi Yakov Kaminetsky paskened this way too.  Thus, according to this,
on this wednesday night (the 49th), those who have missed a night can
have one last chance to make a brocha.

I wonder if this "heter" can still be used by someone who missed
counting on a night of a weeks' completion (eg. 7th, 14th, etc.) Within
the separate mitzvah to count weeks, is there a requirement not to have
missed a week?

Dov Teichman


From: <Harry459@...> (Harry Schick)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 20:08:01 EDT
Subject: Re: Halakha and Vaccines

      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.

Since this issue has not died down, I want to express the opposing
viewpoint briefly--my children have not been vaccinated and BH have had
no problems and the same can be said for my colleagues--it is not a cut
and dry issue and the "research" is not as bullet proof as one might
think. Anyway, I asked the question of a well known Rav who is
considered an expert in Halacha and American law-his response was that
there was no Halachic need for me to vaccinate given my position on the


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 08:09:47 -0400
Subject: Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...?

Immanuel Burton asked <<< If one is asked ...: "I heard such-and-such a
story about you - is it true?", and the story happens to be true, how
should one reply? >>>

I think that the best answer might be "Do you need to know?" or "Why do
you need to know?"

And perhaps one should respond that way even if the story is false: (a)
If the person notices that sometimes you respond "It's false" and other
times you respond with something else, he'll learn that the other
response is an admission of guilt. (b) By always asking if there is a
Need To Know, we'll strengthen our abilities to avoid unneccesary talk
in general.

Akiva Miller

From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:54:19 -0400
Subject: Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...?

Perhaps: "Isn't that lashon hara?" or "I prefer not to discuss this
matter" or "That is an inappropriate question"

Gil Student

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 15:46:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re:  Lashon Horah Question:  Is It True...?

How about: "I wish people wouldn't tell such stories".
And if the asker persists: "I really don't want to discuss that subject".

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Subject: Re: Rosenblum article -- question re Choosing Jewish Leaders

I am not sure why the RCA was lumped together with the other groups
mentioned.  The rabbinical council of America is a voluntary member
association of Orthodox rabbis in the USA. As far as I know, it has
never held itself out as any kind of Jewish "Supreme Court" .

David I. Cohen

From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 00:13:14 -0700
Subject: Re: Safek bracha

On 3 Jun 2003, at 9:29, Chana Luntz wrote:
> a) saying one brocha or two on tephillin (Robert [my Sephardi husband]
> only says one because the second is an ano tzricha and hence prohibited
> while Ashkenazim say two);

The original question posted about tefilin was why the "baruch shem"
said after the "al mitzvas tefilin". It is not said after any other
brocha, not even by women when they do something they are not obligated
to do. The answer of acknowledging that the other position is very valid
covers this situation.

Saying that the "al mitvas tefillin" is a brocha 'ano tzricha' seems to
be going around in circles. The Ashkenazym don't go around making 'ano
tzricha' brochos. The Sefardim hold that it is 'ano tzricha` because
they don't make it.

As for the general thesis, the first question that pops to my mind is:
Do the Sefardim make a brocho for Counting Omer ?



From: <BERNIEAVI@...> (Ed Goldstein)
Subject: Sefira Question

What is the halachic difference between 'la-omer' and 'ba-omer'?  The
Rav z'l taught to say the latter, and I was once explained the
difference, but have totally forgotten and cannot ask the person. 

Rabbi Ed Goldstein


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 10:36:11 -0400
Subject: Vaccines and Halakha

 >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?

My understanding of "herd immunity", based on researchs in computer
networks, is that immunity is gained because the disease does not
spread.  More specifically, in order for a disease to become an
epidemic, it must spread to a certain (relatively high) percentage of
neighbors at every iteration.  If enough people are vaccinated, then the
disease cannot achieve this critical percentage and dies out.

Thus, the benefit of vaccination to a given child is equal to the
benefit to the community: namely, it prevents the child from getting

Kol tuv,
Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


End of Volume 39 Issue 68