Volume 40 Number 15
                 Produced: Sun Jul 20 10:30:06 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Adama v. aretz
         [Charles Halevi]
Bit of Trivia
         [Gershon Rothstein]
Blessings on food
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
         [Robert Schoenfeld]
Danger and Driving (2)
         [Yair Horowitz, Raphi Cohen]
Halacha and Danger
         [Eli Turkel]
How we discuss machlokes
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Little Red Wagon and Shabbat
         [Chaim Tatel]
Shiluach Hakan (sic)
         [Martin D Stern]
What to do with the nest
         [Sam Saal]


From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 10:03:04 -0500
Subject: Adama v. aretz

            No doubt there's a simple answer to this that I just don't
know, but:

            Why does the bracha (blessing) for vegetables use the word
"adama" - "ground" but the bracha for bread thanks/praises God for
bringing it out of the "aretz" - "land"?

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Gershon Rothstein <rothsteing@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 13:59:16 -0400
Subject: Bit of Trivia

>The following question came up in the course of a conversation,and I was
>wondering if anybody knew the answer: What was the earliest use of a
>computer in the service of Judaism/ Jewish Studies

I started working for IBM in the fall of 1965 and my first assignment
was to go to IBM school to learn how to be a systems programmer. While I
waited for the class to begin some weeks later, I was given a FORTRAN
manual and told to learn FORTRAN. So I studied FORTRAN and when I was
ready to write a program to test my knowledge, I decided to see if I
could write a program to read a "Hebrew" text and look for "interesting"
Gematrias. I wrote the program, and since I had a Mincha/Maariv with me,
I used the text of Parshas Tzitzis as my test text. Well, I don't
remember if there were others, but I did find one "interesting"
Gematria.  The Gematria of "Kol Mitzvos Hashem" (the program calculated
Gematrias of strings of up to 5 words) is 612! I wondered why it was 612
and not 613 and subsequently found the question in the commentary of the
Komarner Rebbe on the Torah.

Gematria programs are fairly common now, but mine might have been a very
early one if not the earliest.


P.S. Why is it only 612 and not 613?


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 17:00:46 +0300
Subject: Re:  Blessings on food

    The key to the order and hierarchy of blessings on food is that the
underlying concept is thanking Gd for the gift of the land, i.e., Eretz
Yisrael, and by extension for the food which derives therefrom.  This is
the peshat (simple meaning) of Deut 8:7-10, from which we learn the
mitzvah of Birkat Hamazon as well as the seven species of fruit
(including the two types of grain, which our Sages subdivided into five
secondary categories, over which we make motzi, and which are subject to
the laws of hametz on Pesah, of separating hallah, etc.).

    I quote, skipping those parts which do not relate directly to
foodstuffs: "For HaShem your Gd brings you to a goodly land... a land of
wheat and barley, of grapes and pomegranates, etc....  A land in which
you will not eat bread with scarcity [i.e. but rather with a sense of
plenty]....  And when you eat and are satisfied, then you shall thank
the lord for the good land He has given you."

     I don't think one can get much clearer than that.
     Yehonatan Chipman


From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 11:08:34 -0400
Subject: Conversions

Over Shevuoth at my son's shul Rabbi Solnicki, who is the head of the
conversion commission for the the Vaad of Queens, spoke. He specifically
mentioned that some conservative rabbis are accepted for besdins and
their conversions are accepted by modern orthodox. I don't remember which
schul he is rabbi of but I think he is listed in the phone directory for
Queens NY

Robert Schoenfeld


From: <Ggntor@...> (Yair Horowitz)
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 12:16:17 EDT
Subject: Danger and Driving

In regard to the issues recently brought up about dina d'malchuta dina
and driving, it seems to me that there is some sort of ongoing massive
conspiracy to misrepresent the aforementioned law.

First off, lets assume that DMD applies to all laws. Some things to
consider in this case:

1. There is a debate over the nature of the law (Biblical vs. rabbinic),
which may put an interesting twist on certain situations.
2. What about driving to do an obligatory mitzvah? Stuck in traffic close
to shabbat? Are you OBLIGATED to speed?
3. Among those who believe that DMD applies to all laws, I am fairly
certain that all agree that DMD does not apply if the majority of the
non-Jews in the nation don't abide by the law. (A one word example (for
those of us in NYC): Jaywalking.)

On that note, let's jump to the second, and much more likely case: DMD
only applies to specific cases of dinei mamonot. Some sources:

1. [Raphi Cohen V37, #80] Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes that DMD only
applies to dinei mamonot.
2. [Eitan Fiorino - V12 #51] Rabbi Rakefet writes in Tradition 13, #2,
pp. 5-23 that DMD only applies to dinei mamonot.
3. [Eitan Fiorino - V12 #51] Rabbi Hershel Shachter writes in J. Hal. &
Cont. Soc. 1, #1, 103-132 that DMD is commonly misinterpreted, and
"cannot be interpreted to mean that the law of the land is the law,
period." He adds that the law of DMD is even more refined, in that it
doesn't apply to disputes between two Jews (with certain exceptions).
4. If DMD is rabbinic, note that we don't make decrees on the community
that the majority will not follow.

It should also be noted that, if I recall correctly, the speed limit was
drastically reduced not due to safety but due to gas shortages. Numerous
sources note the similar accident rates on the Autobahn and 55MPH

I agree wholeheartedly with the other argument, that we must protect our
bodies. That being the case, it seems that driving at a safe speed,
whatever that may be, is the law. On that note, it would be required
that we take all reasonable precautions while driving, such as wearing
seatbelts and the like.

-Yair Horowitz

From: Raphi Cohen <raphi@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 06:26:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Danger and Driving

<Minikar30@...> wrote:

>> I'm not sure about specifics, but first of all, there's dinah
>> demalchuta dinah--that we follow the rules of the country we live in
>> (unless they conflict with Torah, of course) and that goes for
>> speeding, talking on cellular phones, driving under the influence,
>> etc.

AFAIK dinah demalchuta dinah applies to monetary laws.  Though I agree
that driving dangers may include fines, damage compensations and other
monetary losses (G-d forbid), these are not the main dangers. It is true
that Halacha instructs us to avoid personal danger, but this is required
by different dinim, as other posters have pointed out much better than I
can do.

May we hear only good news.

Raphi Cohen


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 23:33:53 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: 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

One of the sources for taking on danger is a responsa by Noda Yehudah on
hunting. Though he disapproves of it in principle (compares it to Esau
the hunter) he allows it for a livelihood.  R. Zilberstein was actually
discussing various medical procedures (it is a shiur on halacha and
medicine).  Basically he would allow a medical procedure if the chances
of dying were less than 16% (of course this is a simplistic as one needs
to take into other factors as what happens without the procedure etc.).

Hence, R. Zilberstein would say that if the chances of death or serious
injury is less than 16% than one may take the chance but it might be
very foolish though not strictly forbidden.  Thus, the case of the
Russian Roulette might be very foolish.  On the other hand if the person
is starving and the winnings would be a million dollars one might want
to rethink the issue.

Similarly, going skiing or hang gliding etc would be more controversial.
Going up the shuttle into space still has better survival rate than 83%
and so should be permitted for parnassa.

One thing that does bother me is that there does not seem to be any
consideration of "betterhood of man". So going into space as the first
man or trying any new invention that involves some danger might not be
permitted. Instead we wait for others to do it and prefect the procedure
and then we are allowed to use it.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:28:11 +0300
Subject: Re: How we discuss machlokes

In MJ v40n13, Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> wrote:

<< we can see this in Rav Shach's attacks on Rav Steinsaltz, The Rebbe,
Rav Riskin et al.>> 

    At the risk of engendering further mahloket, may I take exception to
this writer's use of the term "The Rebbe," without further adjective.  I
assume he is referring to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, ztz"l.  To assume
that the entire Jewish people, of whom I think we have a pretty wide
cross-section on this list, accept him as simply "The Rebbe" is rather
offensive and presumptuous.

     In the Bostoner Beit Medrash it's customary to refer to the
Bostoner Rebbe, sheyibadel lahayyim arukim, as "the Rebbe."  When I
speak with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, I address him as "Rebbe."  And so on
regarding many other people, each one in his particular milieu. The
Lubavitcher Rebbe, with all of his sterling virtues and accomplishments,
wasn't Rabbenu Hakadosh (i.e, Rav Yehudah Hanasi), whom I think was the
last person universally referred to simply as "Rebbe"!  It's been quite
a few years since he died.

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 12:48:52 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Little Red Wagon and Shabbat

>Leah Aharoni wrote: 
Re Alan Friendenberg's post
I think this case is different, since there is no issur of hotzaa
mereshut lereshut on Yom Tov, as opposed to Shabbat.

Sorry, Leah, but I must differ with you.  The difference between Shabbos
and Yom Tov as illustrated in the Mishna is "ochel nefesh (needs for the

There most certainly is an issur of hotzaa on Yom Tov.  The only items
we are allowed to transfer (carry) are those needed for Yom Tov.  If you
don't need it, you must leave it.

For instance, if my siddur is at home, and I need it in shul, I can
carry it from my house to the shul; but if I have another at home, I
cannot return the one I took to shul.

The only possible change to this would be the existence of an eruv
chatzeiros, which would change the status of the reshus (domain). We
still could not carry from within the eruv to outside its boundaries.

Therefore, you will find that many cities which have an eruv will
require the inspection before each Yom Tov.



From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D Stern)
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 03:48:29 EDT
Subject: RE: Shiluach Hakan (sic)

In a message dated 17/7/03, Meir Possenheimer <meir@...> writes:

<<In the light of all the correspondence on the above topic, may I
respectfully point out that the Mitzvah is "shiluach hakane", and not as
stated. >>

For those who might claim that 'lo ya'aseh kane bimkomeinu' (Gen. 29,
26), may I take the liberty of being 'dorshin ta'amei dikra' (explaining
the reasons for this reading). The word in the absolute form 'kane',
with a tseirei, meaning 'nest', is found in Is. 16,2 and Ps. 84,4. The
common misreading 'kan', with a patach, probably derives from the better
known verse 'ki yikarei kan tzippor ^' (Deut. 22, 6) where the word
is in the construct form, and joined to the word on which it depends by
a makaph (hyphen), meaning 'nest of'.

    Martin D Stern


From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 07:31:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: re: What to do with the nest

Danny Skaist <danny@...> wrote, hopefully in jest:
>After you make a kinyan on them (and complete the mitzvah) , put them
>back and make them hefker, so that the next Jew who happens along can
>also get the mitzvah.

This may be the worst of all possible worlds. As someone else pointed
out, once a human touches the eggs or young, the mother will reject them
and they will surely die. More than once, as a child, I recall walking
with my parents after a storm and finding a tiny, featherless chick,
alive on the ground. Rather than return it to the next above we'd take
it home to try to nurse it, never succeeding. One family friend of ours
managed to raise a blue jay with a broken wing to a ripe old age.

Sam Saal


End of Volume 40 Issue 15