Volume 40 Number 44
                 Produced: Mon Aug 25  6:02:00 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abstain from any Involvement with Half of this List
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Abstain from any Involvement with Women
         [Rena Freedenberg]
Are Jews Ethically Challenged?
         [Immanuel Burton]
Chezkas Kashrus
         [Bill Bernstein]
Chumras and Religiosity
         [Carl Singer]
         [Ben Katz]
Kosher and Halal
         [Michael Kahn]
Non-Kosher "Kosher" Airline Food
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Tallit Bags
         [Alissa Stern]
Wearing Tefillin while Driving?
         [Irwin Weiss]


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003 16:48:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Abstain from any Involvement with Half of this List

Leah S. Gordon commented:
> Therefore, please don't discuss "whether or not to speak...with women"

I don't remember what wording I used, but if I offended I apologize.  It
was from mail-jewish that I learnt to be careful not to say how many
"people we are", when we are in fact more, but not all of *us* are *men*
for a minyan.

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Rena Freedenberg <free@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 14:32:44 +0200
Subject: RE: Abstain from any Involvement with Women

[Note: I have combined three submissions from Rena on this topic, there
is a note from me at each point that a new submission starts. Mod.]
> Some people think it ideal to abstain from any involvement with women
> to the extent this is possible in our world. But what I pointed out is
> that there are counter-obligations in Jewish law such as the
> obligation to make ones wife happy...<

One has nothing to do with the other. You have confused two very
different aspects of Jewish life. Pirkei Avos [NOT "just" some people,
mind you] warn men to limit their CONVERSATION with their wives and kal
v'chomer with other women. The wording that the mishna uses is "al
tarbeh sichah" - meaning to minimize conversation.

Rabbeinu Yonah's commentary on this mishna says that speaking with women
can bring him to aveira and bitul Torah. Rashi says that it can cause
bittul Torah, bring machlokes on klal Yisrael [between his wife and that
of his chavrusa], and cause the husband to sin in the situation when his
wife is nidah. The ikkar tosfos yom tov brings down the same reasons
from midrash shmuel. Rav Ovadia Bartenura [whose commentary you might be
more familiar with] says that we know by the wording [Haisha instead of
just isha] that Yosi ben Yochanan [whose name the mishna is in] was
speaking of a man's wife.

In contrast, the obligation to make one's wife happy was not speaking of
conversing with her.

[next submission]

> Regarding the discussion of whether one [the default male] should
> abstain or not from interactions with women, I beg the posters on m.j
> to remember that this is a mixed-gender e-community.  It is offensive
> to women to read posts that can only be interpreted as men talking
> exclusively for a male audience on the list.

> Therefore, please don't discuss "whether or not to speak...with women"
> etc., but rather whether men and women should speak with each
> other. The semantic difference is a real one when you're the person
> who is excluded.

I not only don't find it offensive, I would find it ridiculous if
someone were to post "whether men and women should speak with each
other" based on a mishna that is speaking to men only.

Men and women are not identical, their roles as servants of Hashem are
not identical, and therefore we don't need some sort of "parity" every
time we say something meant for one or the other.

[next submission]

> One must define terms.  What's involvement, and what's 
> women?  Does this "law" mean that one shouldn't notice that 
> the pregnant woman on the bus needs your seat, or ...

No, minimizing conversation with women most certainly does NOT mean that
anyone of any gender should not notice when a pregnant or elderly woman
needs a seat on the bus or any other such form of derech eretz. It
doesn't take much conversation to say "take my seat" and stand up.

There are plenty of times when a man must ask a woman a question or tell
them something -- minimizing conversation means saying what you must say
and not chit-chatting or adding anything unnecessary. It does not mean
pretending that one is deaf and dumb. It does mean, however, that one
should not speak with women other than one's wife or mother or sister as
one would speak to a friend or acquaintance.



From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2003 09:35:21 +0100
Subject: RE: Are Jews Ethically Challenged?

In MJ v40n39, Yakov Spil wrote:

> But that is not the reason for my objection here. To demand cherem
> where the halocho does not, just shows how disinterested we are from
> the way Hashem runs the world to our own silly notions of what is
> right and wrong.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah chapter 334) discusses cherem
(excommunication) and a lighter form called nidui (banning).  The first
paragraph of chapter 334 says that anyone who transgresses any
prohibition is banned immediately.  Note the usage of the phrase "any
prohibition".  The Rema adds that in cases of monetary matters three
warnings should be given before a ban on the person is imposed.

With regards to Bernard Raab's comment in MJ v40n35:

> This group deserves termination plus trial by a beis din leading
> toward excommunication if their defense cannot present some
> mitigating factors.

I do feel inclined to agree.  There is a Torah injunction to distance
oneself from falsehood, and claiming a non-existant Jewish holiday to
take time off work transgresses this.  It also makes it difficult for
those not invited to the wedding to try and explain why they are working
on this supposed holiday.  Furthermore, if the truth comes out it would
make it harder for others (or even those who calimed the false holiday)
in the future to take time off for genuine Jewish holidays - the
punishment of a liar is that even when s/he tells the truth s/he is not

In his posting in MJ v40n39, Yakov Spil also said:

> Have we gone mad?? We can all be so high and mighty to make such
> demands on our fellow Jews- when somewhere along the way we are
> halachically challenged in some other area- like davening with a
> minyan, saying birchas hamazon with kavana, or being careful with all
> the intricacies of borer on Shabbos as well as other melachos- I'd
> like to see how demanding we are in those areas. And that's before any
> discussions of chumros and all that that seems to be so popular here.

I think there is most definitely a distinction between the examples
given and between pretending there's a Jewish holiday.  If I don't daven
with a minyan, or say Grace After Meals with concentration, that's
largely a matter between me and Hashem.  Likewise with not being careful
about the intricacies of sorting on Shabbos.  However, if I use my
religion as a cover story and thereby jeopardise the well- being of
fellow Jews, that is something that is extremely serious and should be
addressed with strong measures, as it is damaging to the community.

I was once asked in my last job why I insisted on taking time off for
Jewish holidays if other Jews worked on those holidays, to which I
replied, "If Peter Sutcliffe can go around killing women, why can't
you?".  [Peter Sutcliffe, aka the Yorkshire Ripper, killed 23 women in
Britain between 1969 and 1980.]  My basic argument was that just because
someone else is doing something wrong doesn't mean that one oneself may.

I'd like to conclude with an anecdote: My father told me that a fellow
Jew once joined the workforce in his place of work.  This other Jew was
not particularly observant, and my father once said to him that he did
not come to work on the major festivals but did on the minor festivals,
to which the other person replied that he did the same.  It was only
much later that my father realised that whereas by the phrase "minor
festivals" he meant Chanukah and Purim, the other person meant Pesach,
Shevuos and Succos!

Immanuel Burton.


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 08:27:56 -0500
Subject: Chezkas Kashrus

In regard to chezkas kashrus, I always thought this was a pretty simple
issue.  If a person keeps Shabbos then he has a chezkas kashrus.  If he
doesn't, then he does not have one.  I interpret chezkas kashrus as
meaning that one presumes everything the person does is in accordance
with halakha unless proven otherwise.

I know a number of people who are fairly rigorous in the kashrus of
their kitchens but who don't keep Shabbos and so I will not eat in their

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 13:42:03 -0400
Subject: Chumras and Religiosity

>I dont know anyone who would think that the Chafetz Chaiim is not ultra 

For what it matters, I for one wouldn't consider the Chafetz Chaim to be
"ultra orthodox."  I believe he lived at a time pre "Hyphenated"
Judaism.  Ultra-, Modern-, etc.  -- more to the point he was a Torah
observant Jew as was the (larger) community / society in which he lived.

I imagine that he if had any adjectives describing him they would be
either a tzadik or a simply "sheyna Yid" A term like "frum" would have
been superfluous in the context of that time.

Carl Singer


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 18:02:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Geneology

>From: Ilana Goldstein Saks <lonnie@...>
>I am looking for information about my paternal grandmother's family -
>Blechman.  They came to the United States from Odessa at the end of the
>19th century.  I'd be interested in birth/death/marriage records from
>the old country or family trees.  Does anyone know how would I go about
>searching for this info on the web?

People forget that books are a great resource.  not everything is
available on the web.  try reading From Generation to Generation by
Arthur Kurzweil.  I think it's in its 2nd ed.  It is a wonderful


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2003 14:05:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher and Halal

>while those who eat only Halal will also eat Kosher

The above is true of Sunnis but not Shiites.


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Subject: Re: Non-Kosher "Kosher" Airline Food

I would strongly urge you to persue this. As for whom to contact, "when
in doubt, go to the top".  You should write to the CEO of the airline.
Even though it will probably be routed from the CEO's office to someone
below him, that way it will most likely get to the right place and it
will get more attention since it arrived by way of the CEO's office.

You should write on paper and send through the mail, not by email or
fax.  I suggest you give the letter some thought and use the typical
"sandwich" approach... That is, start and end positive with the
complaint clearly stated in the middle.  This does not mean the letter
needs to be long...  even one sentence may suffice for each of the first
and last parts of the "sandwich".  The beginning should briefly describe
something positive about your experience with the airline, either now or
in the past.

The middle should *very clearly* state all the facts of the case,
beginning with a brief background on kashrus (the main point being to
get accross how forbidden it is to eat non-kosher and that there are no
exceptions, even in cases of extreme inconvenience [no need to go into
Talmudic discussions of life-and-death scenarios]), mention to whom and
when you requested the kosher meal, what actually hapenned on the flight
and how you felt when you received the meal.  Make sure to include a
request of what you want them to do (make sure the problem does not
happen again and perhaps compensate you in some way).

End with a positve sentence or two of how you are confident they will
clear up the matter and that you'd like to be able to fly on that
airline in the future with confidence that your religious needs will be
accorded due respect and attention.


From: Alissa Stern <alissa.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2003 22:08:16 -0400
Subject: Tallit Bags

Does anyone know anything about the history of tallit bags?  When and where
did they originate?

Many thanks!
Alissa Stern


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 08:24:44 -0400
Subject: Wearing Tefillin while Driving?

There was a recent discussion about driving safety and its Halachic
implications.  I think everyone would agree that driving is more
dangerous when one is eating, talking on the cell phone, etc. while
driving.  Today at 5:30 a.m. I was walking my dog.  I saw a gentleman
driving by himself wearing tefillin in his car .  It was dark so I can't
say for sure that he was wearing his "Shel Yad" but I could clearly see
the "Shel Rosh".  I can't imagine how one can have proper Kavana if he
were davenning while driving.  I don't see how you save any time by
putting on your tefillin at home and then going to a minyan, instead of
going there and then putting on the tefillin.  I can't figure out what
this guy was doing.

Irwin E. Weiss, Esq.
Suite 307, 920 Providence Rd, Baltimore, MD 21286
410-821-5435; fax: 410-821-8060


End of Volume 40 Issue 44