Volume 40 Number 13
                 Produced: Wed Jul 16 22:59:42 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Danger and driving
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Halacha and Danger
How to Name (4)
         [Elazar M Teitz, Harry Weiss, David Ziants, Martin D. Stern]
How we discuss machlokes
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
LAW TO MOSES AS SINAI--two meanings
         [Russell J Hendel]
Levi-in-doubt pidyon
         [Gershon Dubin]
Organ donation
         [Michael Feldstein]
Shiluach Hakan
         [Joseph Tabory]


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 22:23:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Conversion

Aryeh Levine <aryehdl@...> writes:
> The Rambam rules (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, 13:17) that b'diavad one whose
> reason for conversion was not examined, and who was converted in front
> of three laymen (i.e. not talmidei chachamim) is still Jewish.  Although
> it seems that one might argue that he is referring to three scholars
> without smicha, Berkovitz rejects this interperetation.  In addition,
> the Ri"f (Rav Alfasi) on Yevamot 45b says that bediavad (if one has
> already acted) one is Jewish even when the conversion is not done in
> front of a court.  He apparently holds that the p'sukim brought in the
> gemara requiring a court are only asmachtot, and the requirement of a
> beit din is only Rabbinic in origin.  As such, it is only a lechatchila
> (before one acts; the ideal obligation) requirement.

These passages remind me of a footnote in Marc Shapiro's book on the
Sridei Eish, _Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy_ in which
he indicated that the Rav and the Sridei Eish accepted Reform
conversions in some cases.  Does anyone know anything more about these



From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 21:57:51 +0300
Subject: Re: Danger and driving

Re:  the various responses about the dangers involved in driving:

    No one has mentioned that the danger of an accident is at least in
part a function of the caution exercised by the driver himself.
Virtually every serious accident is caused by reckless or foolish
behavior on the part of one driver or another.  Hence, one can reduce
the danger to oneself and one's passengers by always following the rules
of road safety (which includes proper maintenance of one's car, not
drinking and driving, etc.).  I recently had cause to see the tragic
results of this from close up.  Of course, there is always the danger
that one may be the victim of a careless and irresponsible driver, of
whom there are many on the roads, certainly here in Israel, but by
driving safely one can greatly reduce the danger of fatal accident to
oneself -- in my guess-timate, by around 50%.

     In this connection, I am always reminded of a case that took place
eighteen years ago when, on the way home from the Baba Sali's funeral,
four Haredi men from B'nai Berak were killed in a head-on collision.
This incident greatly shocked the religious community; particularly as
all of the victims were heads of large families, and over thirty
children were left orphans as a result of this accident; the rabbis and
rashei yeshivah called a ta'anit tzibbur.

    This accident occurred on a two-lane road, while the driver was
trying to pass a slower car without adequate visibility of the oncoming
lane.  A momentary act of impatience and carelessness led to this
tragedy, which clearly could have been averted by the exercise of common
sense and patience.  It's strange that the rabbis spoke about doing
teshuvah, but no one seemed to have mentioned that drivers need to
internalize the rules of safe driving and to think about what they're
doing.  The Rambam says taht, alongside believing in Gd's hashgahah, we
also have to understand the rules of natural causality operating in the
world, and that many troubles are brought upon people by their own
imprudent actions.

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 10:47:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Danger

> I'm not sure I understand what this means.  Suppose we decide to play
> a game of Russian Roulette with a six-shooter.  A third party agrees
> to load the gun and that furthermore, 5% of the time, he won't put in
> a bullet at all (using a random number generator or icosahedral die to
> determine the 5%).  As I calculate it, the odds of injury on any given
> shot in this game are less than 16%.  Would R. Zilberstein allow us to
> play it?

I think he would allow one to play it if he had a reason for doing so.
The halacha is one my place oneself in danger to earn a livelihood. That
is probably the 16% threshold, more than that is probably a no no, even
for parnasha etc/


From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 09:34:58 -0400
Subject: Re: 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.

        The Shulchan Aruch (OC 139:3) states that in the case of a child
whose father is unknown, he is called by his maternal grandfather's
name, and the case of a non-Jewish father would seem analagous, since
halachically there is no father.  However, the Taz in his commentary
(also quoted in the Mishnah B'rurah) says not to do so, since it can
lead to halachic pitfalls, and says that Avraham should be used, and
that is indeed the common custom.

>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.

        Perhaps not in everyday life, but that is exactly how the name
is written in a get.

From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 10:45:32 -0700 (GMT)
Subject: Re: How to Name

As a gabbai, I was told to call someone using his maternal grandfather's
name.  I know someone, whose maternal grandfather also was not Jewish
and did not remember the maternal great grandfather's name, so he asked
we use his mother's name.

When a person gives me a name, I don't question it further unless it
appears inappropriate.  (Obviously I use only the fathers name when
given both.)

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 21:54:25 +0300
Subject: Re: How to Name

When the mother is Jewish, an accepted practice that I was told is
to use the form:
Ploni(t) ben/bat the mother's father's name (= maternal grandfather) ;

whereas the form "Ploni(t) ben/bat Avraham" is more suitable for
a ger/gioret.

In my opinion, using the ben/bat Avraham form could even be an insult
for the case when the mother is Jewish, as we have a way of linking
someone born Jewish by his Jewish lineage, whereas ben/bat Avraham is
used for a ger/gioret because Avraham Avinu is known as the "father of
all gerim".

> 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.

I can't imagine that this gemarra is accepted as halacha, because we
would be drawing attention to the person's personal situation publicly
every time he receives an aliya or is mentioned in a "mi sheberach",
thus causing a potential embarrassment.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:24:48 EDT
Subject: Re: How to Name

    I heard a girl, whose mother had conceived her from a non-Jewish
father, given a name in this form in shul by a relative. The whole
affair would have been rather embarassing but, thankfully, most people
did not notice the odd name.

Martin D. Stern
7, Hanover Gardens, Salford M7 4FQ, England
+44 (0) 161-740-2745
email <mdsternm7@...>


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 08:18:36 -0400
Subject: How we discuss machlokes

>Avi writes regarding the Revadim controversy
>[I look forward to hearing a non-partisan account of the controversy
>involved, and would be happy to host discussion on the list of it's
>value as a teaching tool etc. I am not sure to what extent I would allow
>a discussion of the "personalities" involved. I will say clearly that
>the people involved, as well as the people they looked to for guidance,
>are shomrei Torah and yirea shomayim (followers of Torah and Halacha and
>people with proper fear of Heaven). The statements from some who are
>quoted in the Ha'Aretz article that indicate otherwise are simply and
>totally false. I will end my partisan account with that statement. Avi

Avi brings up a major problem in discussing issues within the Torah
community, is that all too often the automatic response to disagreeing
with a persons shita is to degrade the observance of the "other" It's
not a new issue, we can see this in Rav Shach's attacks on Rav
Steinsaltz, The Rebbe, Rav Riskin et al. Attacks by the "charedi"
community on MO and religious zionism (see anything on shemayisrael.com)
The issue exists in earlier generations as well, the best known example
being the Mitnagdish Chassidic disputes of the 19th century.

A good topic is how to recognize when a dispute is like that between
Shammai and Hillel and when it is between Korah and his followers.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 22:30:44 -0400
Subject: LAW TO MOSES AS SINAI--two meanings

Shlomo (v40n7) in commenting on my posting on Biblical drash calls the
prohibition of allowing male Moabite converts to marry full fledged
Jewesses (I accept his correction) -- he calls this law a "law given to
Moses at Sinai".

It seems to me that the phrase "law given to Moses at Sinai" has two
distinct meanings. On the one had it can refer to any law with Mosaic
authority(See Avoth Chapter 1 Mishnah 1).

On the other hand it also has a very narrow meaning-- it refers to laws
with Mosaic authority which however cannot be derived from the Biblical
text. These include for example laws such as (a) measurements--eg human
adulthood begins at puberty (b) laws of tefillin--squareness, blackness

There are only a few dozen such laws. This is the position of the
Rambam. His introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah tractate of
Beracoth contains a thorough discussion on the 5 categories of Jewish
law and a careful definition of each one.

Finally to defend Shlomos minor modification of my posting (that Male
moabites are not prohibited from converting but rather are prohibited
from marrying full fledged Jewesses) we need only contrast the explicit
Biblical texts: Dt23-04 vs Dt23-08. One text prohibits "coming into the
nation" forever (to moabites) while the other verse prohibits Egyptians
"coming into the nation" until the 3rd generations. This implies that
"coming into the nation" refers to marriage not to conversion.

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


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 19:37:01 GMT
Subject: Levi-in-doubt pidyon

From: <gasher@...> (A. M. Goldstein)

<<If there is a safek (doubt) about one's being of Levi lineage, should
a first-born boy (bachor) in this family line have a pidyon ha-ben
[redemption of first-born-male ceremony]>>

Shulchan Aruch treats a case where twins, a boy and a girl, are born of
a woman who never gave birth before, but nobody knows whether the boy
was first and hence a bechor, or the girl and there is no bechor.

The halacha is, hamotzi mechavero alav haraya: the burden of proof is on
the kohen, and since he is obviously no more capable of knowing than us,
there's no pidyon haben.

Your case is similar; you need to realize that an un-redeemed bechor is
a perfectly fine Jew, except that there is a monetary debt to kohanim
(at large; not to any one kohen).I.e., he's not blemished in any way if,
needing to have a pidyon, he in fact did not because of this rule.

When the principle of hamotzi mechavero alav haraya applies, there is no
"defect" in NOT performing the pidyon; as you would not in your case.
Of course, CYLOR.



From: <MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein)
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 07:06:19 EDT
Subject: Organ donation

> I actually just researched this topic for a friend. I found a collection
> of resources on a web site from the Halakhic Organ Donor Association at
> http://www.imjl.com/hoda/hoda-links.htm
> I especially suggest reading the article from the Jewish Law Journal on
> "brain death" at http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/brain.html
> Janice

For an even more extensive list of articles and resources on the subject,
the Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS) should also be checked out.


Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT
(and member of the board of HODS)


From: Joseph Tabory <taborj@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 00:16:11 +0200
Subject: RE: Shiluach Hakan

We can find several trends among the poskim. The chasam sofer rules that
this mizva is basically a cruel one and one should not do it unless one
needs the eggs. Some kabbalistim accepted the idea that is an act of
cruelty but they maintained that making the mother cry over the loss of
her offspring arouses the zaar of the shechina over the exile of Israel.
A full discussion of all the attitudes may be found in my article on
this published in the jubilee schrift for Rabbi Emanuel Rackman.

Kol tuv


End of Volume 40 Issue 13