Volume 40 Number 11
                 Produced: Tue Jul 15  5:53:00 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An answer to the vexing vegetative question
         [Charles Halevi]
Big Mitzvah
         [Douglas Moran]
         [Robert J. Tolchin]
Bnei Noach and Shabbat
         [Rachel Swirsky]
Halachic Organ Donation
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
How to Name
         [Bill Bernstein]
King David's wives
Little Red Wagon and Shabbat
         [Alan Friedenberg]
Rashi also states: Yefat Toar leads to bad marriage
         [Russell J Hendel]
Steipler Rebbe and Automobiles
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Tradition Letter on Smoking/Automobiles
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 22:41:50 -0500
Subject: An answer to the vexing vegetative question

Shalom, All:

            I have a theory on why there are two "vegetative" brachot
(blessings) -- one for things that grow in or on the ground, and another
for products of a tree. I don't claim it to be Truth with a capital T,
but maybe it has some merit anyway.

            Could it be that the bracha (blessing) for food grown on
trees reminds us of the Forbidden Fruit of Eden, which grew on a tree,
and is differentiated from food grown in/on the ground? In that case
ground food requires a special bracha because when God exiled Adam from
Eden He cursed the ground, saying we would have to labor very hard to
get food from it. Making separate brachot on these foods mitigates the
curse and, at the same time, reminds us of what once was and someday
will be; a return to Eden and innocence.

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Douglas Moran <dougom@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 11:42:41 -0500
Subject: Big Mitzvah

This topic of "big" vs. "small" mitzvot has gotten me to wondering: it
is well known that one may break a mitzvah in order to save a life.
Similarly, I'm wondering if anyone has any information on what one
should do if one is faced with the possibility of being able to fulfill
a "big" mitzvah only by *not* fulfilling a "small" mitzvah.

Frankly, it kind of gives me the shakes a little bit to go down this
path, but follow me if you will.

Say that it is late in the day, erev Shabbat.  How does one compare the
necessity of, say, finishing your cooking of the shabbos meal with not
creating fire on shabbat?  I mean, one is not supposed to starve one's
family just because you're running late, are you?  Or are you?  Isn't
staying healthy more important (i.e., a "bigger" mitzvot) than running a
few minutes into shabbat?  Or is it?

Or what about lighting the candles; if you're late, I know that one
shouldn't light the candles, but let's say for the sake of argument that
lighting the candles was a "big" mitzvah; how does one balance that
against the prohibition against creating fire?

I'm reasonably convinced these issues have been addressed by *some* Rav,
and would love some pointers (or discussion!).


[With all due respect, all the cases above seem to me to be cases of
being able to perform what at best may be a "small" mitzvah (and likely
not even a mitzvah) by violating a fairly major mitzvah (issur
shabbat). Mod.]


From: Robert J. Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 18:06:11 -0400
Subject: Blessings

I once asked a rabbi why there were not more specific brachot for meat,
eggs, etc. I received the answer that in the time of the Temple there
were--meat was eaten as sacrifices and there were brachot that went
along with the sacrifices--and that we don't say these today because we
don't have the Temple. Anyone else ever heard this? Have a source for


From: Rachel Swirsky <swirskyr@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 10:29:15 -0400
Subject: RE: Bnei Noach and Shabbat

	 From: <Ggntor@...> (Yair)
	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

Not so pashut.  My husband and I have been lucky enough to have gotten a
little bit involved with the B'nei Noach community here in Toronto.
While they do not observe Shabbos the same way we do, as part of the
first of the sheva mitzvot (recognize Hashem and the fact that he alone
created the world) they do observe some semblance of shabbat.  They do
not avoid melachos the same way we do, but they do have a seuda and even
make a variation of kiddush.  Just thought I would set the record
straight ;)



From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 16:23:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Halachic Organ Donation

Charlie Hafner <chafner@...> writes:
> The one I'm most interested in is: If one considers (apparently Rav
> Elyoshuv and others) presence of heartbeat as criteria for life/death,
> not "brain death" , is there any objection or restriction to donate
> organs after cessation of heartbeat. Obviously,organs donated after
> heart activity ends are not as optimal, but I understand with technology
> improvements, they're still worth harvesting.

Some organs cannot be donated after heart activity ends, but others are
still good.  Notably, kidneys, livers, skin, maybe eyes, all of which
are in dire shortage in both Israel and the US.  Even if everyone would
hold to the most stringent position, thousands of lives could be saved.

In the case of Israel, it's a particular chillul hashem that there is
such an organ shortage.  Israel's organ donation rates are far below
those of most European countries, making it ineligible to participate in
European organ exchanges (lest it be a drain on the system).

In Israel, it is actually legal to take the organs of a dead person in
order to save a life, but the one time this law was used (with an
unidentified traffic accident victim in 1997), there was a public

> To take it one step further, is one permitted, or obligated to donate
> organs if all halachic issues are settled.

The rabbanut says that one is obligated to donate one's organs.  CYLOR.



From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 09:03:28 -0500
Subject: How to Name

I wonder if anyone has any knowledgeable answers to the following issue:
Ploni has a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father.  How do you call Ploni
to the Torah for an aliyah?  What I usually hear is Ploni ben Avrohom.
But the Gemoro in Baba Metzia mentions an amora and calls him Ploni bar
Plonis, using his mother's name.  Rashi explains that his father was a
non-Jew.  But I have never heard of anyone doing this in everyday life.

Kol tuv,
Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 12:53:43 -0400
Subject: Re: King David's wives

> 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.

See Margolis Hayam from Rav Reuvaine Margolis, where he makes a pretty
commpeling case that it should be nine children


From: Alan Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 06:51:02 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Little Red Wagon and Shabbat

Carl Singer wrote:

> 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.

It just so happens that I was with a group of people transporting food
to a n'eelat hachag at the end of last Pesach.  We had several strollers
- an a little red wagon - filled with matzoh and other food on our 1
mile trek.  Nobody gave us a second glance.  Alan Friedenberg


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 22:28:43 -0400
Subject: Rashi also states: Yefat Toar leads to bad marriage

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi (v40n3) cogently argues that a women taken
captive in war would in fact hate her rapist EVEN if he married her

This IS in fact the position of Rashi. Rashi in turn derives this from
the simple progression of consecutive paragraphs in Dt21. The
progression is unfortunately all too familiar to us: (a) Hated wife (b)
another woman (c) hated wife transfers her hatred of world to her
children who join gangs (d) children end up committing capital
crimes. (See Rashi Dt21-14a and Dt21-22a)

For further details on this and the use of climax in Biblical inference
see the url below: http:/www.RashiYomi.com/example9.htm

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/example9.htm


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Subject: RE: Steipler Rebbe and Automobiles

>Unlike the other items mentioned here (fire, childbirth,... etc.) using
>an automobile is very much a choice, and in some places, still
>considered a luxury. Here in Eretz Yisrael, a person can usually choose
>between using public transportation or owning an automobile.

A few points... first of all, everyone is presuming the Steipler
disapproved because of the safety issue, but no one has said for sure
what his reasoning was.  I've heard arguments against automobiles in
Eretz Yisroel because of "hefkeris", that is, it lets you have too much
freedom, especially where young people are concerned, and that this
freedom could leed to serious aveiros or leaving the Torah derech.  It's
sort of along the lines of the people who are against ball playing by
young people.  Interestingly, the "freedom" issue is one of the reasons
why Americans are so enamored of their cars... it goes right along with
the American value of individual freedom.

Another point... I would have to disagree that "using an automobile is
very much a choice".  Granted, there are places, including many cities
in Eretz Yisroel where that may be true, because of the prevelence of
public transportation.  But there are plenty of places where it is not
at all true, especially in many U.S. areas but even in Eretz Yisroel, if
you live or work in a rural area, including many small yishuvim.  It's
hard to define what's a necessity and what isn't but even if you could
theoretically accomplish a task by public transprotation, it could
easily make an all-day affair about of what could be an hour-long task
if a car were used, especially if you are living on a small yishuv or in
one of the many U.S.  cities and towns that have inadequate public
transportation.  That difference can not be discounted lightly as "very
much a choice".


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 22:29:41 -0400
Subject: Tradition Letter on Smoking/Automobiles

Akiva Wolff raises the issue of whether Automobiles should be prohibited
because of the many accidents that happen.

I discussed this in a published critique(letter) of Rabbi Bleichs
discussion of the smoking prohibition which appeared in the Journal
Tradition (it was a letter to the editor in Vol 17,N 3, Summer 1978)

My basic thrust was to contrast Rambam Murder 12 which prohibits sucking
coins (because of the health problems of bacteria on them) vs Character
Traits 4 permitting(but advising against) the consumption of unhealthy

I introduce the concept of SOCIALLY REDEEMABLE activities to explain the
contrast between these 2 laws. Since sucking coins is not SOCIALLY
REDEEMABLE (Society as we know it could function if people didnt suck
coins), therefore ANY DANGER NO MATTER HOW SMALL warrants a prohibition
of the activity

By contrast eating fruit is SOCIALLY REDEEMABLE (society as we know it
would be different if we prohibited eating fruit or bad fruit) and hence
we can only prohibit it if it could lead to immediate death

(Hence (Rambam 12) drinking uncovered water on a camp trip in poisonous
snake country is absolutely prohibited since the drink could lead to
immediate death if there is a possibility that a snake injected its
venom into it(I have had people make comments that snakes dont just
inject venom into water supplies...but that doesnt change the conceptual
framework of what I am suggesting).

Another way to look at this is the following: When you eat unhealthy
fruit there are advantages (Some nutrients) and disadvantages (unhealthy
fruit)--it is not the job of Jewish law to balance the two. By contrast
sucking coins has no physiological benefit and is therefore absolutely

It would follow that automobile riding (which does not necessarily lead
to immediate death) cannot be prohibited. (Of course we should
distinguish between drinking water in a house and uncovered water in a
poisonous snake environment--by analogy we should distinguish between
riding with seat belts on a road with speed limits (which is permitted)
and riding without seat belts on an unpaved road without speed limits or
law enforcement (which is prohibited)

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/


End of Volume 40 Issue 11