Volume 41 Number 26
                 Produced: Mon Nov 24 22:07:11 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chazaka that clothes do not have sha'atnez
         [Stephen Phillips]
Child abuse
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Gevinat Akum
         [Steven Oppenheimer]
Kibud Av Va'eim for Abusive Parents
         [Heshy Zaback]
"Out of Fashion" Halachos
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality
Sha'atnez (3)
         [Rachel Swirsky, Shlomo Argamon, David Charlap]
         [Perets Mett]


From: Stephen Phillips <stephenp@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 11:41 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: Chazaka that clothes do not have sha'atnez

> From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
> Has anyone on MJ ever had to return a garment to a shop and found
> themselves having to explain the prohibition of sha'atnez?

No, but I was told by a sha'atnez checker in London that he was once
presented with a suit for checking. It came from Marks and Spencer, a
very large clothing chain in the UK. They have a policy which allows you
to return any garment and get a refund, no questions asked. The
sha'atnez checker recognised the suit in question as he had previously
checked it and sewn in a label to that effect. The label had been
removed and the suit must have been returned to M&S only to be purchased
by another frummer yid!

Stephen Phillips.


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 12:21:50 EST
Subject: Child abuse

I'd like to offer a change of focus, if I may.  Child abuse, whether
physical, sexual or verbal is another scourge from which our community
is not immune.  I feel there is no question that if a person knows that
child abuse is occurring within any frum family, s/he MUST report it to
the authorities post haste.

But what if one only suspects abuse?  How quick should they be to report
it?  Should they speak to the Shul Rav first?  Should they go to the
authorities even when they are not sure as to the veracity of their

My thoughts are simple.  This is a life and death issue.  While it may
be nice to take some time to investigate or to speak to the Rav, that
time may mean life or death for the child(ren).  And while stories of
DCFS officers jumping the gun and destroying healthy familles are well
known, are they really well founded?  I am sure there are legitimate
cases upon which this criticism is based, although I doubt it is a
serious as most people assume.  Are we willing to risk the life of
innocent children because we have heard that the DCFS system does not
work as it is supposed to?  Do we not owe our children the protection
that they deserve?

Chaim Shapiro


From: Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 16:12:12 -0500
Subject: Gevinat Akum

A number of people have written to express their annoyance at the
concept of "Halacha Ve'ain Morin Kain LeRabim."  They feel they are
being deprived of a leniency that they and others would like to utilize.
I remember a number of years ago the issue of showering on Yom Tov was
raised by one of the rabbis in the greater community.  During his
Shabbat morning drasha, he told the congregation that showering on Yom
Tov was permitted.  He did not go into great detail about the many
halachic pitfalls associated with showering on Yom Tov.  Most of the
congregants were not beneficiaries of a yeshiva education and probably
accepted the ruling as a blanket heter (permission) to shower with
minimal constraints, since the rabbi did not conduct a shiur (class) to
teach in detail what one should and should not do.  Additionally, not
everyone was present at the drasha and word of mouth certainly did not
convey the details.  Another, more senior, rabbi in the community told
me that he had asked the other rabbi not to publicly make this
announcement because he felt this was a matter of Halacha Ve'ain Morin
Kain LeRabim.  When I asked the first rabbi why he publicized this, he
told me that people are going to do it anyway.

We rely on our poskim to make decisions which in their eyes are
halachically appropriate.  If the poskim feel that a certain view might
easily be misinterpreted or not fully understood by the masses and might
lead to violation of the law, then they may be reticent to publicize a
lenient psak (ruling).  The case of gevinat akum which was the subject
of lenient halachic treatment by the Rav, zt"l, is a case in point.  I
never discussed this with the Rav, but one can easily imagine that if
only some cheeses were permissible according to the Rav's view, people
who were not present to hear his shiurim on the halachic intricacies may
come to believe that all cheeses are permissible.  Remember that none of
the kashrut agencies permitted gevinat akum, and the Rav stayed away
from becoming directly involved in kashrut (perhaps because of a
stinging experience that had occurred some years earlier).  The Rav must
have been aware that his view was a minority view and for reasons that
he knew best, felt that it was not appropriate to publicize this view.

The great poskim realize the burden they carry.  Before making any
decision which affects our lives as Jews, they must weigh the effects of
their decisions.  Many a person has criticized others who are in
decision making positions only to have their eyes opened to the
responsibilities when they reach such a position (if they ever do).  If
the poskim took their position lightly, we wouldn't want them to be our
poskim.  Consequently, we should respect their decisions, even if, at
times, we do not fully appreciate their reasoning.  The Rav ( and
others) certainly took a lot of the burden of responsibility upon
themselves, and our lives are the better for it.

A posek is only a posek because he has a following.  People recognize
that he is a special individual who has merited such a position.  The
making of a gadol doesn't just happen.  The issue of Halacha Ve'ain
Morin Kain LeRabim is not a new one and as explained in my first
communication, has its origins in Rashi's explanation of the Gemara.
Not every psak is for every person, and it is up to the moreh tzedek to
make the appropriate determination.

The cheese issue is today a mute point.  No relable kashrut agency
permits gevinat akum, and those who feel that they are being denied some
of life's great pleasures will have to accept that not only is life not
a bowl of cherries, it is not a cheeseboard either.


From: Heshy Zaback <heshyzaback2@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 21:13:03 -0500
Subject: Kibud Av Va'eim for Abusive Parents

<<In a situation as described by this woman how do you deal with the
mitzvah of kibud av v'em? What would an abused child need to do would
they be somewhat "released" from doing this mitzvah?>>

The Sefer Ha'chinuch in Parshas Yisro does bring down moral and ethical
reasons for the mitzvah of kibud av va'eim. But putting those aside and
focusing on the letter of the law, imho, why would not doing the
positive commandment of kibud av va'eim be any worse than a shev ve'al
taaseh ("sitting and not doing" a positive commandment)?


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 13:11:18 -0800
Subject: Re: "Out of Fashion" Halachos

>From: Alan Friedenberg <elshpen@...>

>2.  The Shulchan Aruch states quite clearly that people visiting an avel
>should sit on the floor along with the avel.  Today, it seems to be the
>custom that only the avel sits on the floor or stool, while others sit
>on regular chairs.  If the Shulchan Aruch is so definitive in the
>halacha, then why isn't this done today?

I believe Sefardim still do.  A while back I went to a shiva minyan in
my building and everyone took off their shoes like the avel.

I think the reason ashkenazim don't do it, is like an ayin horah, not to
become an avel.

Kol Tov


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 18:09:23
Subject: Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality

Question on the Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality

I have been bothered for many years by what seems to me to be a major
flaw in the Rambam's proof for the incorporeality of Hashem.

In Yesodai HaTorah 1:7, he uses the fact that the world never stops
turning to derive

a) therefore there must be a continual force turning it so b) that force
must come from something incorporeal, since anything physical would
cease after some period of time so c) Hashem is eternal and therefore

Now, the problem with this is that Aristotelean mechanics would agree
with point a), but Newtonians mechanics holds that a body will keep
moving until a force acts on it to stop, rather than a body will only
move if a force pushes it. Therefore, according to present-day physics,
the continual turning of the world does not indicate any force, much
less Hashem Himself, pushing it.

So what do we do with the Rambam? Do we say he was wrong, but that's OK
because we know about the existence of Hashem and His incorporeality
from other sources, or do we have a problem?

I thought that the mail Jewish community would be the best place to find
if anyone knows why I am mistaken, or what the solution is.


From: <swirskyr@...> (Rachel Swirsky)
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 07:06:18 -0500
Subject: RE: Sha'atnez

> The prohibition of sha'atnez also applies to upholstery into which one
> sinks.  This is because the Torah says, "u'beged kilaim sha'atnez lo
> yaaleh olechoh", usually translated as, "a sha'atnez garment shall not
> come upon you" (Leviticus 19:19).  On the face of it, why should
> upholstery be included in this prohibtion, if the Torah is talking about
> garments?  Could it be that the word "beged" here doesn't mean a garment
> but is being used in the same way that the Mishnah uses the word to mean
> cloth?

Just to add to this, there is a famous story about The Steipler when he
went to meet his bashert, the sister of the The Chazzon Ish.  This was a
rabbi who used to learn for a number of hours and only then would take
care of "little life details" like eating and sleeping.  H was looking
for a shidduch and would only go dating during his non-learning hours.
So the shidduch was arranged that he would learn for his 18 hours, and
sleep on the train.  He got on the train and discovered that the seats
were shatnez and stood the entire way thus getting no sleep.  He fell
asleep on the shidduch.  (By the way, the Chazzon Ish, hearing the
story, begged his sister to go ouot with him again... and they all lived
happily ever after.

> Has anyone on MJ ever had to return a garment to a shop and found
> themselves having to explain the prohibition of sha'atnez?

Yes.  Well, sort of.  WE explain it ahead of time.  My husband is
allergic to most wools.  We hav found a line at Tip Top that works quite
well for him and has not contained Shatnez in the past.  Tip top will
only do the alterations to a suit before it leaves the store.  We
however, were hesitant to buy from them if we could not return it for
having Shatnez.  We have had them mark on the tag that even the altered
suit was returnable for "Jewish reasons".

Rachel Swirsky

From: Shlomo Argamon <argamon@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 09:27:21 -0600
Subject: RE: Sha'atnez

In MJ v41n21, Chaim Tatel wrote:
> Basically, if there is wool or wool blend in the ingredient list, I
> check it.

I recently had a jacket checked, whose label said "100% silk".  Turns
out, it was 100% wool instead.  So you can't really tell much from the


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 11:05:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Sha'atnez

Immanuel Burton wrote:
> Just to add to the thread about checking for sha'atnez: My sister has
> a friend who bought a sweater labelled as 100% Shetland Wool, but 
> sha'atnez was nevertheless found.  I'm not sure where the sha'atnez
> was found, but it was probably in the threads holding the various
> parts of the sweater together.

This doesn't surprise me.

A few years ago, I was sewing a garment for my personal use.  The fabric
was 100% wool.

It was difficult to find thread that was not made from cotton or linen.
Wool thread could not be found in the stores near me.  I was eventually
able to find nylon thread, which I used.

Given how common and popular cotton thread is, I am not surprised that
professionally manufactured garments would tend to use it for clothes
that are otherwise "100% wool".

-- David


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 18:24:21 +0000
Subject: Re: Tefilin

Alan Friedenberg asked

> 1.  The Rambam states that tefillin r'tzuyos and batim should be black
> on the top and the bottom.  I think we can assume that if he says it,
> then that's what was done in his time.  Why don't we do this today?

Because the Shulchon Orukh (O.Ch. 33:3) says that it is unnecessary.

AFAIK no-one else agrees with the Rambam.

If you like you can go through the Rambam and find hundreds of halochos
which we do not practise nowadays! There are many issues on which other
Rishonim disagree with the Rambam.

[from second posting. Mod.]

I have just checked and discover that I erred in my previous posting.

The Or Zorua (a European contemporary of the Rambam) writes that
nowadays, since we make the batim of the tefilin black, the retsuoth
have to be blackened on the back as well as the front. So he is in
agreement with the Rambam. [There is no dispute about blackening the
front of the t'filin - this is halocho l'moshe misinay.]

However, both the Beith Yosef and the Darkhey Moshe say that it is not
our custom to blacken the back of the retsuoth.

Perets Mett


End of Volume 41 Issue 26