Volume 39 Number 69
                 Produced: Thu Jun  5  7:23:30 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Conversion in Moav (2)
         [Alex Heppenheimer, Zev Sero]
Ethical Behavior and Halachah
         [Frank Silbermann]
forgetting Sefirah
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
         [Martin D. Stern]
Library Items
         [Ben Katz]
Mah Yofis
         [Art Sapper]
Press Simcha
         [Melech Press]
Tinok Shenishba, Apikorus, Beit Din
         [Dr. Josh Backon]
Umbrellas and New Gezerot (2)
         [Ben Katz, Eli Turkel]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 07:11:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello and my wishes to all for a very good Yom Tov of Shavuot. This is
probably the last issue to go out before yom tov, I will hopefully pick up
again on Sunday. I mentioned in a recent Administrivia that I was trying
to keep more on top of messages as they come in, and b"h I think I have
been relatively successful this week. There are no messages in the active
message queue between May 22 and June 3, with only 3 active messages in
queue from June 4-5. I have replied to all messages since June 1, and only
about 6 unreplied messages (i.e. submissions that are in review state
rather than active queue state) since May 22. I hope on Sunday to also add
/ update some of the information on the mail-jewish web page

Good Yom Tov to all.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:17:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Conversion in Moav

In MJ 39:64, Akiva Miller (<kennethgmiller@...>) asked:

> 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 Din.

Actually, the fact that we derive these halachos from Naomi's attempts
to dissuade Ruth from coming along with her would, seemingly, point to
the opposite conclusion: clearly Ruth (and Orpah) hadn't been converted
in the first place and was still a full-fledged gentile at the time of
that conversation. This, indeed, is the way Rashi (on 1:12) and the
Malbim (on 1:4) understand the situation; according to this opinion,
then, the question of a Beis Din in Moav is moot.

On the other hand, Ibn Ezra (on 1:2 and 1:15) states that Ruth and Orpah
had, in fact, been converted. (Which raises a question: according to
this view, how could Naomi encourage two Jewish women to revert to
paganism?) There might well have been enough individual Jews there at
times to serve as an ad hoc Beis Din: peddlers or other tradespeople
(note that the Midrash, Ruth Rabbah 2:11, states that Naomi heard about
the end of the famine from peddlers), or Jewish employees or servants of

[As I understand it, by the way, our Sages criticized Elimelech's
actions because (a) he left Eretz Yisrael when circumstances didn't
absolutely require it, and (b) his departure undermined the morale of
the community, who expected to be able to rely on him for assistance
during the famine. (See Bava Basra 91a and Ruth Rabbah 1:4.) So there
seems to be no specific indication that Moav was devoid of Jews at the
time that Elimelech and his family came there.]

Kol tuv,

From: <zsero@...> (Zev Sero)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 17:12:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Conversion in Moav

We learn of her decision to convert from her conversation with No'omi
after she left Moav, so she can't have converted in Moav.  It's clear
that when Machlon and Kilyon married them, Ruth and Orpah were not
Jewish, and Ruth only decided to become Jewish when faced with No'omi's
decision to go home.  I've always understood that she converted as soon
as she came to Israel.  I imagine that as soon as they got home and
settled in, No'omi pulled three people off the street and formed an
ad-hoc Beis Din ("beis din shel hedyotos"), told them that since she
knew the halachot better than they did she would serve as their legal
guide, informed them that Ruth was a suitable candidate for conversion,
then marched them all down to the mikveh and guided them through the
process.  That's the sort of person No'omi strikes me as being.

Zev Sero


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 10:37:53 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re:  Ethical Behavior and Halachah

In Vol39 N63 Eitan Fiorino lamented the fact that frumkeit seems to
depend much more on adherence to commands pertaining to the relationship
between man and G-d, than on commands pertaining to the relationship
between men.

My theory is that frum Jews attribute sins against other people to
temptation and human weakness (a strong "teivah" or lust for the
forbidden), whereas sins against G-d are assumed to be motivated by an
intellectual rejection of Torah, and are considered a sign of group

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 07:04:24 +0200
Subject: re: forgetting Sefirah

Art Werschulz <agw@...> describes his method of remembering 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.

Then Yehuda Landy spoke of the Internet:
> 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.]

So here is how to use the Internet to remember sefira, at least some
time during each day (a good example of "better late than never!").
Sign up for the "Counting The Omer Reminder List",
Send a blank message to <sefira-subscribe@...>

This of course only helps on those days when you actually 
check email, it won't 'pop up' during your Shabbat dinner. ;-)
It *does* send emails on Shabbat too, as the disclaimer says:
> Please note that this list is automated - the computer has been
> pre-programmed to send messages for the full 49 day period without human
> intervention.

Chag Sameach,
Shimon (who b"H made 49 brachot this year!)
Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 10:47:26 EDT
Subject: Kitniot

      <<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 

    I believe canola is made from rape seed which is at least as much
kitniyot as cottonseed. Perhaps the rav hachshir of the latter holds
that cotton is not primarily grown for its seeds which makes it slightly
less problematic.

    The only problem with olive oil or, for that matter, walnut or
hazelnut oils, is not kitniyot but price. I remember my son in kollel
being told by his chareidi rav some years ago that this would be
sufficient reason to accept the kullah of using kitniyot oil. However, I
don't think that this is a forum for ruling on practical halachah and
anyone wishing to know what they should do should ask their own rav.

    We used to have in the shops palm kernel oil which is definitely not
kitniyot, being a tree product. The problem with it is that it is solid
at room temperature and, from what I remember, it was a rather
unpleasant red colour. So it could only be used as a fat, and then only
where colour was not important, and was useless for making, for example,
salad dressing.

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


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 13:01:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Library Items

>From: Asher Breatross <ash002@...>
>I have in my library the following Seforim:
>1.  The Friedlander translation of the Moreh Nevuchim published by Pardes
>2.  A book by a Dr. Yeshayahu Aviad entitled "Hirhurim B'Filosofia Shel
>      Hahistoria" published by Mosad Harav Kook.
>Regarding (1) is it an authoritative and reliable translation?  Can
>anyone provide me with a short biography of Dr. Friedlander?
>Regarding (2) can anyone provide me with a short biography about
>Dr. Aviad?

the Friedlander translation is ok but inferior to the Pines translation.
see the discussion in the late prof. marvin fox's book on Maimonides.

why don't you check encyclopedia judaica - i am sure they have a bio of
such a distinguished scholar as friedlander.


From: <asapper@...> (Art Sapper)
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 22:08:07 -0400
Subject: Mah Yofis

The score to Mah Yofis is now on the Web at


From: Melech Press <mpress@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 03:15:01 -0000
Subject: Press Simcha

Last night our son Avrohom Yitzchok became engaged to Naomi Glick,
daughter of Shimon and Mina Glick.  May we share further smachos.

M. Press, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Touro College
1602  Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230; 718-252-7800, x 275
<mpress@...> or melechp@touro.edu


From: Dr. Josh Backon <joshuab@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 23:26:00 +0300
Subject: Tinok Shenishba, Apikorus, Beit Din

                     TINOK SHENISHBA: 

   *Tinok shenishba* is discussed in the gemara in Shevuot 5a and
   Shabbat 68a,b; Rambam Hilchot Shegagot 7:2 and Rambam Hilchot Mamrim

   Carefully read the definition of *tinok shenishba* as codified by the
   Rema YD (Hilchot Ribit) 159:3 "she'eino yode'a mitorat yisrael KLAL"
   [emphasis mine}; the Chazon Ish YD 2 s"k 16 simply refers to not
   carrying out (20th Century) of *moridim velo ma'alin*.


   The Meiri in Sanhedrin 90a defines an apikorus as one who doesn't
   follow the Oral Law and one whose rulings cause others to sin
   ["v'chen machti'im ha'rabbim afilu l'dvarim kalim"].  He also
   explains the phrase *megaleh panim batorah shelo k'halacha" as one
   who uproots a mitzva by explaining it allegorically. The Yerushalmi
   in Peah 5a explains the phrase as someone who denies TORAH MIN
   HA'SHAMAYIM [Hashem giving the Chumash verbatim to Moses at Sinai].

   The Tshuvat HA'RASHBA VII 179 in the name of Rabbenu Yonah states
   that someone who willfully violates the sabbath or who doesn't
   believe in *divrei Chazal* [the Oral Torah] is a MIN and his touching
   wine places it in the category of Yayin Nesech [prohibited to drink]
   (see also the Nekudot haKesef YOREH DEAH 124]. The Mishna Brura 55
   #47 writes that anyone who doesn't believe in the authority of the
   Oral Law can't make a *minyan* or can't serve as a chazan [Mishna
   Brura 126 #2] (see also the Biur Halacha 216 d"h "hamevarech


The halacha (need for Beit Din for Gerut) is clear (Yoreh Deah 268:3):
three males who are "k'sherim la'dun" are required. Shulchan Aruch
Choshen Mishpat 34:2 deals with who is an ineligible witness ("kol
she'avar aveira she'chayavim ale'ha malkot") and thus ineligible to sit
on a Beit Din (Choshen Mishpat 7:9). See also Yoreh Deah 119:3 (anyone
who doesn't follow or believe in "divrei rabboteinu" is in the category
of "chashud") and Choshen Mishpat 92:3 ("pasul l'eydut nikreh chashud").

Dr. Josh Backon


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 11:49:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Umbrellas and New Gezerot

>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

         This is an interesting but controversial statement.  For
example, it is the norm in Orthodoxy not to carry an umbrella on shabat
even tho if already open there is no halachic reason not to.  And no,
you are not creating an ohel around you, otherwise certain wide brimmed
hats might not be allowed :-).  And no, it is no more boneh than closing
a door is boneh a wall.

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 22:59:08 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Umbrellas and New Gezerot

 From Shemirat Shabbat 25:15

"The leaders of the genrations decreed (geder gacru gedole hadorot) that
one should not open an umbrella on shabbat or yomtov (and also a house
sunshade - shimshia) similarly one should not fold them and not use them
even id they are already open before shabbat.  However a garden shade
that is in the ground or a cover to a pergola or on a view window can be
opened and folded"

It is clear that from the notes that even though some poskim held that
this is prohited from the Torah most hold that opening an umbrella is
not assur and only involves uvda d-chol weekday activities.

As the words of Shmirat Shabbat indicate this is basically a later day
gezerah - especially with regard to carrying a previously opened
umbrella (even with an eruv). As Chazon Ish says it leads to chillul
shabbat and this is worse than a specific issur to an individual.

Eli Turkel


End of Volume 39 Issue 69