Volume 41 Number 30
                 Produced: Sun Nov 30 12:50:08 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Gevinat Akum
         [Barak Greenfield]
Good Manners
         [Batya Medad]
"Out of Fashion" Halachos (2)
         [Jack Gross, Perry Zamek]
Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality (2)
         [Shalom Carmy, Bernard Raab]
         [David Riceman]
Tal U Mattar
         [Joseph Mosseri]
Techelet (3)
         [Martin Stern, Abe Brot, Issie Scarowsky]
Top coats over kittels under the chuppah
         [Rose Landowne]


From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 11:11:29 EST
Subject: Re: Abuse

Also, Bat Melech in Jerusalem can shelter about 40 women a year only.
They are in dire need of additional facilities, because they have to
turn away hundreds of women. I was told of one case where a woman and
her children were sleeping in a hotel lobby....

American Miklat Committee
200 West 57th Street\Suite 1005
NYC 10019
212-262-6778 is the phone number

please send money to them or to the Jerusalem office:

P.O.Box 41247
Jerusalem 91412


From: Barak Greenfield <DocBJG@...>
Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2003 18:33:31 -0500
Subject: RE: Gevinat Akum

Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...> wrote:

> 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.
> 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.

So it follows that if a kashrus agency would supervise gevinas akum, the
problems envisioned in the first statement, and the reasons for halacha
ve'en morin ken, would disappear.



From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 18:18:21 +0200
Subject: Re: Good Manners

      This seems to follow when these prize packages become bad husbands
      and fathers, with some rebbi rushing to their defense.  I know
      personally of cases where this happened.  Maybe it's a sexist
      attitude that the woman is to blame, or maybe it's blind loyalty.
      Bottom line: It's sad.

Not only sad, but not Yahadut.  Neither the young men last Succot, nor
the young men who considered it beneath them when I was last pregnant
over twenty years ago had their eyes in a holy book.  They saw me and
considered it beneath their dignity to get up.

Yahadut is the one religion that combines kodesh and chol in our weekly
lives.  There is Shabbat and it's preceded by six days of work
(med'raiyta).  Our holy men, the rabbis, marry, unlike the Catholics,
because one can't poskin and help people if they're not part of the same
world.  The same for work.  Halacha is not theory; it's part of the real
world and to fully understand halacha, one must be part of the real
world.  It doesn't matter if these males can recite from the gmarrah if
they don't live it.



From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 14:36:31 -0500
Subject: Re: "Out of Fashion" Halachos

<<<From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
>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.

 Certain close *relatives* are obligated (per talmudic law) to practice
outward manifestations of Aveilus when in the presence of a person who
is in Shiv'a.  This is not practiced today among b'nei Ashkenaz; the
basis is that it is only for the Kavod of the Aveil, and he/she is
presumed to forego the Kavod.

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 18:02:20 +0200
Subject: Re:  "Out of Fashion" Halachos

Eli Delman wrote (MJ 41:29):
>The Taz and Baer Hetev (Yoreh Deah 387) write that the reason the
>visitors don't sit on the floor is that there is an implied mechila
>(waiving, forgoing) on the part of the avel.

I was recently at a Sheva Brachot, and the discussion turned to the
issue of where a parent dies (God forbid) on the day of the wedding. The
general halacha seems to be that we hold the wedding, but not the full
week of sheva brachot, although in a specific case that was quoted, Rav
Soloveitchik ruled that the whole week of Sheva Brachot should be held
before the shiva.  This ruling, of course, is in line with the Gemara in
Ketubot (4a).

I asked why, in general, we do not follow the view of the gemara, and
the answer I was given was that the avelim (i.e. the newly-married son
or daughter, who is now an avel) are willing to forgo the week of Sheva
Brachot (mechilah/waiver). It seems that this is another case of implied

Question: in what other circumstances (not necessarily connected with
avelut/mourning) do we invoke an implied mechilah?

Perry Zamek


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 12:00:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality

> From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
> 	There is nothing "to do" with the Rambam.  He was unaware of
> Newtonian mechanics because he predated Newton's time by 500 years.
> What one needs to learn from the Rambam in this instance is his
> APPROACH.  He dealt with "modernity" in his day by reconciling the God
> of Aristotle (the Prime Mover) with the God of the Chumash.  It is no
> more insulting to the Rambam that he didn't know Newtonian mechanics as
> it is to say that he couldn't envision an airplane.

Yes. Rambam is working from the science of his day. The great Catholic
historian of philosophy Etienne Gilson claimed that Thomas Aquinas is
more advanced than Rambam, whose Moreh he studied, because Thomas
eliminates the scientific elements in Rambam's arguments for existence
of G-d (not just incorporeality). More recently Anthony Kenny, in his
book The Five Proofs, demonstrated that the medieval science is not
absent from Aquinas--it's just concealed.

Offhand, anyone committed to divine unity should adopt incorporeality as
well. A physical body is divisible--you can speak of its different
parts.  So true unity would exclude corporeality. (Unless one redefines
the terms and the logic...)

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 23:38:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof for Hashem's incorporeality

Akiva Miller writes:
>If you have problems with the Rambam's proof, don't worry. Look for
>counter-arguments, or try another philosopher entirely, but don't give
>up. Just because the Rambam was based on Aristotle, and Newton gave us a
>whole new way of looking at it, that doesn't mean that HaShem *doesn't*
>exist. It just means that *you* should set this proof aside in search of
>something else.

Medieval philosophers were fond of seeking proofs for the existence of
God within the latest theories of nature. Today, we understand that this
is a largely futile exercize. Newtonian mechanics is now recognized as
only an approximation of the truth, having been replaced by a succession
of better but still invalid theories of nature. Nevertheless, the
premise of physics is that ultimately nothing is unknowable. But physics
deals only with the observable universe, and HaShem must be sought in
the unobservable and ultimately unproveable realm. That's why it's
called "faith".

b'shalom--Bernie R.

To: <mail-jewish@...>

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Subject: Sha'atnez

I have several questions as a result of the recent discussion of sha'atnez:

1.  People have responded to the assertion of a hazakah [presumption] that
certain clothes don't contain sha'atnez with anecdotes of clothes containing
sha'atnez.  This puzzles me because a presumption is not the same as
certainty, and one cananot rebut a presumption with a counterexample.
  To pick an example I heard from our Moderator, the Mishna lists a huge
number of potential treifos.  Shochtim check animals for only one of those,
relying on a presumption that the others are uncommon.  Yet, if the others
never happened, why would the Mishna have to list them?
  One can, on the other hand, rebut a presumption with a statistic.  My
questions here are: is someone familiar enough with the garment industry to
tell us whether such a presumption is realistic for certain types of
clothes? Has someone who checks sha'atnez kept statistics on what proportion
of clothes have sha'atnez? Are there identifiable sub-populations (e.g.
clothes made in America) with unusual percentages?

2.  Several people have reported stories about prominent Rabbis who didn't
sit on train seats fearing that the cushion may have been covered with
sha'atnez.  Isn't sitting on sha'atnez a rabbinic prohibition? Wouldn't that
be classified as safeik d'rabanan [only possibly a violation of rabbinic
law] and be permitted?

3.  The laws of bittul with respect to sha'atnez are odd.  For example if a
garment is 60% camel hair and 40% sheep hair it's considered non-wool (camel
hair is not wool) and you may sew it with linen thread.  But if it's 60%
sheep hair one linen thread is enough to render it sha'atnez.
  Naively, I would have imagined that this indicates a physical difference.
I would imagine that one cannot see a wool thread mixed in camel hair, but
that one can see a linen thread mixed in wool.
  The Shulhan Aruch, however, recommends that one dye cloth to find
suspected linen, since linen and wool absorb dye differently.  To me that
implies that, without the dye, one cannot see the linen thread.
  Which is true? Can one see linen thread with the naked eye? If not, why
doesn't bittul [the whole aquiring the status of the majority] apply? If so,
shouldn't one be permitted to wear clothing whose linen can be detected only
with chemical or microscopic tests?

4.  The halacha permits models (e.g. merchants displaying clothes for sale)
to wear sha'atnez, and prohibits clothes worn as clothing, e.g., for warmth.
When I was young it was expected that every man wear a suit jacket in
appropriate circumstances (to the extent that there was a phrase, "in
shirtsleeves", to describe someone lacking such raiment).  Nowadays jackets
are rarer, and even those who wear them remove them without excuse or
comment.  The people who wear them do so to establish their (the people, not
the jackets) status, not as clothing.  Does this change their (the jackets)
halachic status? I expect someone's written a tshuva on this.  Any

David Riceman


From: Joseph Mosseri <joseph.mosseri@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 09:56:48 -0500
Subject: Tal U Mattar

This year -2003- when do we begin to ask for rain outside of Israel?
December 4, 5, or 6.

If possible please explain why.
Joseph Mosseri


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 17:50:37 +0000
Subject: Re: Techelet

on 25/11/03, Mike Gerver<MJGerver@...> wrote:

> Someone showed me an pamphlet about techelet, which said, among many
> other interesting facts, that the absorption spectrum of techelet (the
> modern material made from the chilazon) has a peak at exactly 613
> nanometers. Is there someone here who wears techelet on his tzitzis, and
> has access to a spectrophotometer? If so, could you please check this
> out and report the results here? I'd love to know if it's true!

First, the dye claimed to be techelet by the Radzyner chassidim is
essentially Prussian blue and probably does not come from the cuttlefish
ink but from the chemical processing to which it is subjected. Secondly,
the nanometre is an entirely man-made measure and any result such as
that suggested has no significance either in halachah or kabbalah.

Martin D. Stern

From: Abe Brot <abrot@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 09:17:25 -0500
Subject: Techelet

A recent posting stated that the techelet color (that is said to be the
authentic techelet) has an absorption spectrum peak at a wavelength of
613 nanometers. This gives an additional meaning to the concept of
"Urieetem oto"(and you shall see it) which is supposed to remind you of
the 613 commandments.

I would be much more impressed if this result came out of a
non-dimensional quantity. nanometers are a small fraction of a meter. If
the wavelength were expressed in nano-inches, nano-feet or nano-yards,
the result would be different and not at all connected with the number
613. Since the meter is a man-made quantity, let's not put too much
significance in this figure.

By the way, I wear a talit with techelet.

Abe Brot
Petah Tikva

From: Issie Scarowsky <issie.scarowsky@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 11:02:10 -0500
Subject: Techelet

In Vol 41, issue 28, Mike Gerver describes a pamphlet on Techelet which
claims that "that the absorption spectrum of techelet (the modern
material made from the chilazon) has a peak at exactly 613
nanometers". He then asks for imperical verification of this alleged

It seems to me that no significance whatsoever should be given to this
coincidence. Remember that the length of a metre, and hence nanometer,
was arbitrily set. Further should be use any other measurement of length
- inches or amahs - we would get a number much different from 613.

Issie Scarowsky


From: <ROSELANDOW@...> (Rose Landowne)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 10:52:43 EST
Subject: Re: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

I was once at at wedding of a chatan who had learned at Telshe in
Cleveland, and he wore a raincoat over the kittle.  The explanation was
that the kittle is a symbol with connotations of death, and is meant to
be seen only by the groom himself. All others should only be reminded of
the simcha of the wedding day.

Rose Landowne


End of Volume 41 Issue 30