Volume 40 Number 09
                 Produced: Mon Jul 14  4:57:05 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Big Mitzvah - Sheluach haKan (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Bernard Raab]
         [Harlan Braude]
         [Zev Sero]
Danger & Cars
         [Eli Turkel]
Human "intervention"
King David's wives war captives
         [Joshua Adam Meisner]
Moabite converts
         [Elazar M Teitz]
Potential Convert
Social Halacha
         [Carl Singer]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 14:10:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Big Mitzvah - Sheluach haKan

> I realize that this mitzvah is hard to reconcile with the aveira of
> tsa'ar ba'alei chayim but that does not give us license to ignore the
> clear pshat of the Torah text. The full text reads: "If you happen upon
> a bird's nest on the road or in any tree or on the earth, and the mother
> is sitting on the chicks or the eggs, do not take the mother with the
> offspring (according to Rashi and the Targum). Send away (Shaleach
> t'shalach) the mother and take the offspring for yourself, that it shall
> be good with you and your days prolonged." (D'varim 22/6,7) It does NOT
> say: "If you desire the eggs or chicks..."

I'm afraid that the pshat is not as simple as one would hope.  The first
statement is "you shall not take the mother "with" the offspring.  The
second sentence "send away the mother and take the offspring ..." can be
understood in one of two ways:

1) as an explanation of the previous requirement.  That is, do not take
the mother with the offspring, but rather [if you want the eggs or
mother] ...

2)  a commandment in an of itself, regardless of the situation.

The first explanation seems consistent with the prohibition of tsa'ar
ba'alei haim (sorrow to a living being) and the fact that the mishna
points out that the obligation is only for birds and eggs that are
tehorim ("clean").  Philosophically, this seems to follow the same line
of thinking as not cooking a kid in it's mother's milk.

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

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 17:05:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Big Mitzvah - Sheluach haKan

> You seem to be saying that if I happen to walk by a bird's nest, I am
> obligated to shoo the mother and take the eggs/chicks, even if I don't
> want them and have no clue what to do with them.

> Does this make any sense at all?  Do you seriously think that God wants
> us to take possession of eggs/chicks that we have no intention to raise
> or eat?

Although there are opinions which claim that this is indeed the mitzvah
(sorry I can't be more specific here; I once heard this at a shiur and
couldn't take notes), I do not claim this at all. What I did suggest in
the remainder of my earlier submission is that the Torah is saying: "If
you come upon a bird's nest and you decide you want to take the mother
bird, this is forbidden. Shoo away the mother bird and take the chicks
or eggs instead."

Most commentators say that this mitzvah is intended as a lesson on "tsar
baalei chaim", to teach us sensitivity for all living creatures. I find
this difficult for a number of reasons:

1. If this is to be the lesson why not forbid taking the chicks at least? 
These are already "baalei chaim".
2. Shooing away the mother bird will really cause her anguish. If you have 
ever disturbed or even approached a nest with a brooding bird you will 
recognize the truth of this remark.

What I am suggesting is that "tsar baalei chaim" is not the issue here.
Rather, this is a mitzvah which is intended to emphasize reverence for
parenthood and for reproductive security. This appears to be recognized
by the Sefer Ha'chinuch, when he says in this connection: "...His
[G-d's] desire...is for the endurance of the species."

Taking the brooding bird will doom the eggs or chicks as
well. Therefore, the Torah commands that, if you are so hungry or so
driven by a yetzer ha'ra, you must take the eggs or chicks instead of
the bird. This, at least, leaves the bird alive for further
procreation. Again, from my earlier submission:
"...this is far from a trivial or "easy" mitzvah. It might be making a 
profound philosohical distinction between actual life and potential 

This mitzvah seems to promote the idea that parenthood is to be valued
in the animal kingdom as well as in humankind, and may help to explain
the strange conjunction in which the only mitzvot for which a reward is
specified are these two generally-thought-to-be unrelated mitzvot:
1. honor your father and mother, and 2. send away the bird. Furthermore,
as if to confirm this idea, the reward is one which emphasizes the value
which is to be preserved by both: "arichas yomim" long life (at least
for the species)!

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 11:25:53 -0400
Subject: RE: Blessings

> The more the food needs human intervention the higher the level of
> beracha needed. So meat, fish & eggs which grow by themselves need the
> most general beracha of shehakol. Fruits and vegetables which are grown
> by humans have their own beracha and bread which has the greatest human
> contribution (and also wine) has the highest level beracha.

I don't understand the distinction being made regarding animals on the
one hand and vegetables, shrubs that produce berries and fruit trees,
etc. on the other.

The term "domesticated", when used in the context of an animal (like a
cow), is that it is dependent on people for its survival. I worked on a
dairy many years ago and I wouldn't exactly categorize the animals as
being self-sufficient.

Yes, put a cow by a fresh water stream surrounded by a marsh on a nice
summer day and it should do pretty well without Human intervention
(well, at least until the neighborhood carnivores read about it in the

But the same holds true for a peach tree or a cucumber plant. Yet, we're
saying that trees and vegetables require more effort than animals!



From: Zev Sero <slipstick1@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 09:54:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Conversion

<Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich) wrote:

> A non-Jew comes to you and says "I accept the God of Abraham...Moses as
> the true God.  I understand that Judiasm does not seek converts but does
> not forbid them.  Does God prefer me to be a good non-Jew who keeps the
> 7 mitzvot or would he prefer me to convert to keep 613 or is he
> ambivalent?"
> How would we respond?

I think that it is not true that `Judaism does not seek converts'.  I
think it's clear from the Talmud and Rishonim that Judaism very much
does seek *quality* converts.  We are told that `the only reason Israel
was exiled among the nations is so that converts would be added to
them'.  And when someone comes to convert, the popular belief that the
bet din is meant to discourage them is simply false.  On the contrary,
both the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch make it clear that while the bet
din must make full disclosure of the downside of conversion, so that a
convert won't later feel that he was conned into it, they must also be
careful *not* to frighten away sincere applicants, and must equally
emphasise the advantages of conversion for those who stick with it.
Those who only speak of the disadvantages of being Jewish, without
speaking of `the great reward' which is prepared for Jews, are defying
the halacha just as much as if they went out with glossy brochures
recruiting inappropriate converts who will get bored with Judaism within
a short time and leave.

Think of the recruiting sergeant at the beginning of _Starship
Troopers_.  He does everything he can to discourage the teenagers who
wander in trying to join up, but not because he doesn't want recruits;
rather, he doesn't want the *sort* of recruits who will be discouraged
by his spiel.  He very much wants the sort of dedicated recruit who,
fully informed about the pros and cons, decides to commit himself to it.

Zev Sero


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 19:39:33 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Danger & Cars

<The Steipler Rebbe was reputed to have said that if there were a
Sanhedrin today, they would forbid the automobile (presumably because of
the high number of people killed in them). Does anyone have any further
information on this, such as where this might appear in the Steipler's
writings? Also, does anyone have any other information on the opinions
of other Rebbeum on the desireability or lack thereof of the automobile?>

In a recent shiur R. Zilberstein (Rabbi of Ramat Elchanan in Bnei Brak)
defined danger as being greater than 16% chance of a serious injury.
Hence, driving a car would certainly not fall into this category.  If
anything we would apply "shomer pesaim hashem" that any ordinary
activity is allowed.

I don't know of any gadol who did not use a car (at least as a
passenger) to get around. Certainly if one needs to go from Bnei Brak to
Yerushalayim the only way is by some motor vehicle, car, taxi, bus etc.

Eli Turkel


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 12:15:05 -0500
Subject: Human "intervention"

Shalom, All:

	Eli Turkel writes >>The more the food needs human intervention
the higher the level of beracha needed. So meat, fish & eggs which grow
by themselves need the most general beracha of shehakol. Fruits and
vegetables which are grown by humans have their own beracha and bread
which has the greatest human contribution (and also wine) has the
highest level beracha.<<

	But wild mushrooms, grapes and onions, for example, get no human
cultivation. Ditto for the apple tree across the street from my house
and the cherry tree in the yard of my old house: no cultivation, just
what rainfall God's goodness gives us. (For that matter, long before
humans learned to cultivate *any* vegetative matter it grew wild
[hybrids excepted].)

	And you don't have to be a farm boy to know that the chickens or
cows we eat require much human intervention.

	I think the original poster's question still stands: Why are
there two "vegetative" brachot (blessings) -- one for things that grow
in or on the ground, and another for products of a tree -- yet just one
bracha is said for meat, fish and eggs?

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: Joshua Adam Meisner <jam390@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 13:15:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: King David's wives war captives

	In answer to the question of whether any of King David's wives
were war captives, a response mentioned the sugya in Sanhedrin 21a,
which says that David had 400 "yeladim" (lit., children) from war
captive wives, who were his battalion leaders and acted as his enforcers
(Heb., "ba'alei egrofim", or fist-men).  

Rashi on the parallel sugyot in Kiddushin 76b and Sanhedrin 49a says
that "yeladim" here does not mean "sons", but rather just "young men",
who were not his sons.

- Josh


From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 11:23:41 -0400
Subject: Moabite converts

Russell J. Hendel writes: 

>I would SUPPLEMENT the Talmudic explanation with a note of the contrast
>of the SINGULAR and PLURAL. HE shall not convert because THEY did not go
>out with food and water. Such a contrast of SINGULAR and PLURAL always
>points to an emphasis...in this case we emphasize that only MALE
>moabites cant convert (Since the singular is gender attached).

        WADR, I believe this represents a misunderstanding of the
singular/plural distinction.  The Torah tells us that there are two
nations whose males may not, after conversion, marry anyone other than
other converts and mamzerim [children born of adulterous or incestuous
unions].  These two nations are Amon and Moav.  The Torah then gives the
reason: because THEY (both Amon and Moav) did not greet the Jews with
bread and water, and because HE (Moav) hired Bilam to curse you.

        As for the original singular, which Dr. Hendel rendered "HE
shall not convert," what the Torah states is "Lo yavo Amoni uMoavi
bik'hal Hashem," an Amonite and a Moavite shall not come into the kahal.
The singular is in the verb "yavo."  However, this is standard Torah
usage: when stating a prohibition applying to two categories, where the
singular is used for both (Amonite and Moavite, not Amonites and
Moavites), the verb is expressed in the singular. Compare, e.g., Sh'mos
12:45, discussing the Paschal lamb: "Toshav and sachir (I leave thse
technical terms untranslated, but they are singular) shall not eat it,"
where the verb is singular. Indeed in the same chapter as the Moavite,
in D'varim 23:2, there is another example relating to marrying into
kahal where there are two categories mentioned, and the same verb
"yavo," in the singular, is used.


From: <Ggntor@...> (Yair)
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 10:46:41 EDT
Subject: Potential Convert

(In regard to a potential convert who is unsure whether it is better to
convert or to become a ben Noach.)

To totally sidestep the question, it should be pointed out that if the
person decides on becoming a ben Noach they are not permitted to observe
Shabbat. I look forward to hearing everyone's opinion on this issue.



From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 07:31:56 -0400
Subject: Social Halacha

Back to bicycles -- sort of.

It's acceptable in many communites with an eruv to push a child in a
stroller or pram.  It's not unusual to see tallis, coat, siddurim, etc.,
being transported along with the baby.

I'd be interested in hearing the halachik and social differences if one
were to use a shopping cart or little red wagon to transporting home
these same belonging.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 40 Issue 9