Volume 39 Number 73
                 Produced: Mon Jun  9  5:31:00 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Perry Zamek]
Conservative Conversions (2)
         [<rubin20@...>, Bill Bernstein]
Conversion in Moav
Cottonseed Oil for Pesach
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
Ruth's conversion
         [Danny Skaist]
Safek bracha
         [Chana Luntz]
Vaccines and Halakha
         [Michael Kahn]
Vaccines and Social Responsibility
         [Martin D. Stern]
Vaccines, Halacha, Social Responsibility
         [Rise Goldstein]


From: Perry Zamek <jerusalem@...>
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2003 09:06:28 +0200
Subject: Re: Acronyms

May I mention that Dr. Avshalom Kor, the noted Israeli language expert,
discussed the use of Samekh Tet as an abbreviation in one of his "Higia
Zman Lashon" segments. All of the interpretations mentioned in this
thread were mentioned there.

Perry Zamek


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 09:15:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Conservative Conversions 

> In MJ v.39 i.65, Gil Student wrote that R' Aharon Soloveitchik would
> disqualify any Conservative Rabbi from serving on a beit din based on
> ideology alone.  I would just like to point out that Rabbi Dr. Norman
> Lamm wrote claimed in article in Moment Magazine (I think it was
> either 1983 or 1986), that the Rav, in his role as Chair of the RCA
> Halacha Committee, would accept the gittin of Rabbi Boaz Cohen of the
> JTS faculty. Rabbi Lamm extrapolated from this that denomination
> itself is not a disqualification according to the Rav. This being the
> Rav, I wonder if anyone knows of anytime he indicated that he held the
> opposite.

This is a week argument at best. A conversion requires a Bet Din,
something which those who subscribe to a none Halachic philosophy are
disqualified from. A get is between husband and wife, the Rabbi just
acts as a facilitator in writing it. If one knows how to write a get him
self, one can do so with out any Rabbis. Therefore, even if the rabbi
were a heretic or even a non Jew (leaving out L'Shma problems) a valid
written Get would be kosher.

From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 17:43:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Conservative Conversions

There have been numerous posts on this topic.  Over the yom tov I had a
chance to go back and look at the Igros Moshe, as I had remembered one
teshuva which certainly touches on this.

In Even Hoezer 3.4 Reb Moshe discusses a case of a man married civilly
to a Jewish woman.  They moved to Winnipeg where her parents wanted them
to have a proper marriage.  The rabbi refused to be mesader kiddushin
until the man went to the mikve and converted.  He did not get tipas dam
(drawing a drop of blood) as he was already circumcised by a doctor.
The man later divorced his wife and, under the influence of his mother,
a known anti-semite, married again and dissappeared.  Does she need a

In the course of discussing this Reb Moshe writes "I perceive from my
questioner's use of the word "rabbi" (resh beis aleph yud) rather than
"rav" that the mesader kiddushin was from the Conservative Movement.  If
so then his tevila was not according to halakha because they form
themselves into a kosher Beis Din but they are certainly possul since
the vast majority ("rovan d'rovan") are deniers (kofrim) of many basic
principles of the faith and they transgress many serious prohibitions in
Shabbos and niddah and other prohibitions, so that according to everyone
he is no convert."

Reb Moshe's consistent opinion is that members of the Conservative
clergy are kofrim and whatever they do is invalid.  In another place
(Orech Chaim 3) he poskens that one may not say omen after their
brachos.  He points out that not only is acceptance of the mitzvos
critical to the conversion, but also a valid beis din.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: smeth <smeth@...>
Subject: Conversion in Moav

I had heard a peshat that both Rus and Orpah were ketanos [minors] when
they married the sons of Elimelech.  Thus their conversion was
conditional upon their acceptance when they matured.  They matured when
the were returning with Naomi to Eretz Yisroel (or shortly thereafter);
thus Naomi's dissuasion was actually a probing to see if they accept
their conversion.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 16:33:48 +0300
Subject: Re: Cottonseed Oil for Pesach

Danny Skaist stated:
>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

If Danny was not attempting to be ironic, then his impression ought to
be corrected.

Until several years ago, Harav Lando, whose is arguably the best
hekhsher in the world, gave his hekhsher to cottonseed oil.

Even now, there is at least one rabbinate in Israel that gives its
hekhsher and indicates no qitni'ot (this year too).  This is not a
mehadrin hekhsher, but it is not qitni'ot either.

By the way, David's limitation is not accurate at all.  There are also
olive, nut and palm oils with mehadrin hekhsherim.



From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 15:10:31 +0200
Subject: Re: Kitniyot

      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

Palm oil, as all solid fats, is unhealthy.  And olive oil is cheap
compared to shmurah matza.



From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 09:33:39 +0200 
Subject: Ruth's conversion

<<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?)  >>

Conversion for the sake of marriage is not acceptable.  The "ceremony"  was
valid but the motivation cancels it.   (this is also relevent to another
thread here) This is what Naomi explained to Ruth and Orpah. Ruth then
explained that her conversion was not because of her marriage but because
she was sincere. Notice that Ezra did not give the "foreign" wives a chance
to convert.

If Ruth converted after her husband died, then she was "reborn" and had no
relationship to Boaz or Tov or even Naomi.  There is no "goel",  The whole
story then makes no sense. So Ibn Ezra and  Zohar hachadash learn that she
must have converted before.

Also, childless widows return to their father's house (Even to eating
trumah, for a bat Cohen) The only reason that they would have considered
going to Israel with Naomi is that they were Jewish. 



From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2003 23:54:21 +0100
Subject: Safek bracha

<chips@...>, writes
>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.

It does in this case, but if anything raises the question as to why it
is not similarly applied in the other cases where there is a maklokus

>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.  

Sorry, I should have more correctly said that "(Robert [my Sephardi
husband] only says one because *Sephardim hold that* second is *or may
be* an ano tzricha and hence prohibited while Ashkenazim say two
*despite the machlokus in the gemora*."

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

Why would you argue one should not make a brocho for counting the omer
(ie who holds that no brocha should be said)?

Shavuah tov
Chana Luntz


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2003 00:14:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Vaccines and Halakha 

There is a famous machlokes in the gemara regarding the following
case. A and B are in the desert. A has enough water to keep him alive
until he reaches civilization. However, if A shares his water with B
they will both die as there isn't enough water to sustain them both. One
opinion is that A must save himself even though B will die by A's
withholding of his water. (Chayecha kodem lechaya achicha.) The second
opinion holds that A must share his water with B even though they will
thereby die.  This is a place in the gemara where we can begin our
discussion of if a person must harm himself in order to help others.


From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 01:37:43 EDT
Subject: Re: Vaccines and Social Responsibility

Dear Sir,
In a message dated 8/6/03 Meir Shinnar writes:

<< Note that the successful experiences that some posters have had
of remaining healthy while being unvaccinated is irrelevant to the
discussion - the level of risk of infection is known to be quite small.
However, if all of Boro Park (or even one large hasidic group, so one
has a large group living closely together) was not to vaccinate their
children, at some point (not necessarily immediately) a measles epidemic
would be disasterous. >>

    I believe this has actually happened in Yerushalayim in the last few
months. So, apart for those who have some special reason for avoiding
vaccination such as allergic reactions, history of fits or compromised
immune system, I cannot see any heter for anyone to refuse immunisation.

    On the contrary, I think there might be a problem of neopaganism
(avodah zarah) with this prevalent attitude that one must prefer
'natural' to man-made products, protect the environment at the cost of
human suffering or put the 'rights' of animals above those of humans,
which seems to lie behind the thinking of those who oppose 'unnatural'
practices as vaccination. Maybe this is a topic which we might debate

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


From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 15:06:48 -0700
Subject: Vaccines, Halacha, Social Responsibility

In response to Leah Gordon's question about potentially "tinker[ing] with
one person's health to save another person," Eitan Fiorino wrote:

> {...snip...} I think one could justify a broad psak that vaccination
> against childhood diseases should be obligatory because of the
> benefits to the vaccinated and the benefits to society.

Meir Shinnar further wrote:  

> First, WRT to the risks, outside of well defined populations (eg,
> immunocompromised), the risk of major complications (eg, not just a
> few days of fever and malaise) {...snip...}

Speaking again in my professional capacity as an Ph.D. epidemiologist, I
can't argue very strongly against Dr. Fiorino's position regarding
childhood diseases that are transmitted from person to person, absent a
known history in a particular child of conditions associated with
adverse outcomes of vaccination.

However, I respectfully question Dr. Shinnar's broad trivialization of
"a few days of fever and malaise."  Granted, we're outside the realm of
the life-threatening here.  However, what about the individual who, for
example, because of several days of postvaccination fever, pain, and
incapacitating nausea, is unable to work, go to school, parent his or
her children, etc.?  Would not these days of lost productivity, and more
importantly the immediate decrement in health (even though no threat to
life) factor into, and mitigate, any notion of obligation to be
vaccinated for that person, with the vaccine that has a known history,
for him or her, of causing such side effects?

The illustrative case that comes readily to mind is something like
tetanus, which in the developed western world is very rare, and in any
case is not transmitted person to person.  Yes, the person not
vaccinated runs a very small risk of contracting the disease should he
or she incur a "dirty" wound.  However, if he or she is one of the ones
who suffer debilitating fever, pain, and nausea for days after the
vaccine, it is virtually certain that he or she will not be able to go
about his or her normal business and may lose earnings, cause shelom
bayit problems because of inability to hold down normal family roles,
etc.  Moreover, it is by no means clear that the
every-10-years-no-matter-what booster schedule is always necessary for
everybody, especially those who don't garden, dissect cadavers, or spend
time out of doors while not wearing sturdy shoes that protect the feet
from puncture wounds.

In some sense we're running the risk of getting bogged down in details
here, but my "bottom line" question is, to what extent must one risk a
significant period of debilitation from vaccine side effects (especially
given a known history), even if these are not life-threatening, and
especially where the vaccine is against a disease not transmitted person
to person?

Rise Goldstein (<rbgoldstein@...>)
Los Angeles, CA


End of Volume 39 Issue 73