Volume 42 Number 84
                 Produced: Sun May 30  8:24:22 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Embarassment (5)
         [Shoshana Ziskind, Carl Singer, David Ziants, Martin Stern,
Esther Posen]
KosherLamp discussion
         [Shmuel Veffer]
Not benefitting from avoda zara
         [David Charlap]
Water as a Jewish Drink
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
What "Counts" as Tzedakah
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Why they shave heads
         [N Miller]


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 08:06:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Embarassment

On May 25, 2004, at 6:48 AM, Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...> wrote:

>> From: Debra Fran Baker <vze2b2n7@...>
>> (And, well, arriving late to someone else's home on a Friday night is
>> an even more obvious indicator.)
> It did happen one time that my wife was supposed to go on a Friday
> night when we were invited to someone else's house.  She thought
> people would figure it out if she came light, so as a result she
> delayed going until Motzie Shabbos.  Has anyone looked into the
> halacho of this, whether embarassment is a valid reason to delay?  I
> seem to remember a there being a halacha of not letting anyone know
> you are going.

 From what I learned in my taharas mishpocha refresher courses, and
obviously this is a situation where you should talk to a Rav, its more
important to go on time and have someone know than to go late and not
have them know.  I don't think its in the shulchan oruch that you can't
tell someone (please correct me if I'm wrong). It sounds more like a
matter of tsnius.

Shoshana Ziskind

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 13:28:54 -0400
Subject: Embarassment

Forgive me for seeming rather harsh -- but why is one obligated to
accept the dinner invitation?  It seems that one's own decisions /
actions have put them into the potentially embarrassing situation.
Delaying going because of a situation which you, yourself created cannot
be compared with external constraints.  Is this much different than I
choose to go to a concert on Tuesday night and the concert ends after
the Mikvah closes -- thus I can't go.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 22:59:36 +0300
Subject: Re: Embarassment

Isn't going to the mikva at the right time a mitzva d'oraita (Torah
precept), which should not be delayed, even on Shabbat? This meens one
would need a cover story to keep the halacha of not letting anyone know
you are going.

I would also be interested to hear the type of cover stories that
could be used for:
a) The husband not being in shul (and he always goes to the same shul)
that evening, as he is looking after the children.
b) For the wife appearing late, if the family are having guests, or
are invited out, and it was impossible to change the arrangement.

I think b) would only really be a problem if the mikva is not so close
to home, or the shul doesn't wait for zeit hakochavim ("stars out") to
davern maariv, as the 20 mins for maariv should give the lady enough
time to dip (preparations already completed before shabbat), dry and
then come home or join the husband/family to go to the host.

In places where Shabbat is brought in early in the summer, is it
permissible for the wife to do tevilla after the Shabbat meal? Would
kidush and hamotzi need to be made before shekia (sunset) for this to be
allowed (I assume that the mikva opening times on a Friday night can
accommodate such a scenario). I would imagine the wife would try and
avoid greasy foods for this shabbat meal.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 12:24:04 +0100
Subject: Re: Embarassment

There is also a principle of tevilah bizmanah mitsvah.

Martin Stern

From: Esther Posen <eposen@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 09:40:34 -0500
Subject: RE: Embarassment

There is certainly a concept of tzniut/modesty when it comes to mikvah.
However, my inclination would be:

1) To turn down the invitation to begin with if possible
2) To call and make some white lie excuse as soon as you know you it
will be inconvenient - it's a week's advance notice.
3) If it is impossible to do either of the above, e.g. it's the night of
your sister's sheva brochos for example - a white lie also works well
enough.  "I had this horrible migraine, stomach ache,lost the keys etc.,
had to visit someone in the hospital, baby wasn't going to sleep...  "
4) From my limited knowledge base it appears that delaying going to the
mikvah would be the least preferable option.



From: Shmuel Veffer <shmuel@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 10:36:24 -0400
Subject: KosherLamp discussion

I am the inventor of the KosherLampTM, and I'd like clear up some
misconceptions arising from your lively discussion of our new product:

First of all I suggest you visit the website www.kosherlamp.com to find
out more about its technical features and the Rabbinic opinions.

Now a few points:

1. Since we announced our product we've had a number of people thanking
us and telling us horror stories about trying to cover up bedside lamps
with such things as towels and starting fires, similar to Daniel
Nachman's story.  Any attempt to "cover up" a lamp not designed for it
presents a fire hazard. Do not do this on your own.

2. Indeed we use compact fluorescent bulbs 10w (40w incandescent
equivalent) or 13w (60w incandescent equivalent). However these do
generate heat. It is not a simple matter of "putting the bulb in a
sealed box". Our lamps are approved by UL (underwriter laboratories) and
also the European standard. For safety requirements no part of the lamp
must reach higher than 90 degrees. To achieve this we have a
patent-pending venting system that allows heat to escape, yet keeps the
light inside the shade.

3. Secondly, many poskim, hold that the electric lamp is muktzah. It
would be awkward putting something on and off of a bulb without moving
it to be yotze on this shita. What we have done is make the lamp in two
parts. The lower part is the actual lamp and bulb. The upper part which
is twisted to conceal or reveal the light is a totally separate vessel,
so there is no question of muktza. We have many major poskim who gave us
their approval. Written piskei halacha can be viewed on our website.

4. I think also, if a cover was placed on a bulb (say tinfoil) it would
reach higher than yad soledes. I would think this might be considered

5. Using a gooseneck lamp and bending it away from your eyes when done,
would be problematic to some poskim. Also it wouldn't fully darken the

6. Using a timer to save electricity won't save much. At 10c a kilowatt
hour, even left on the whole 25 hours KosherLamp only consumes about
2cents - 3cents per Shabbos. Plus the timer turns of the light right at
the best part of the book, or stays on when you don't feel like reading.

7. Using a lamp that faces UP and covering it, not only creates a fire
hazard, but you don't get the light where you want it. KosherLamp
directs the light where you want it and additionally doesn't disturb
anyone else in the room trying to sleep.

8. Putting a lamp in the closet might work, but might be too far away
from the bed. I don't know about you, but I'd rather stay in bed and
"turn off the light" when I'm ready to go to sleep.

9. We also include a bulb with the lamp at $29.95. As you say, single
bulbs can cost up to $5. So you are getting a lamp for $24.95 that takes
into consideration all halachic opinions, is certified safe, gives you
light when you want it and where you want it and only costs 3cents to
use. I don't think KosherLamp is the "triviality" Stan seems to think it

10. KosherLampTM makes a great gift. Much better than sending someone a
bit of tinfoil for their wedding or bar mitzvah!

Shabbos lights are supposed to bring more Shalom to the home. That's
exactly the intention of KosherLamp.

Have a wonderful Yom Tov everyone.

Rabbi Shmuel Veffer


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 10:10:40 -0400
Subject: Not benefitting from avoda zara

Frank Silbermann writes:
> An extremist approach to not benefitting from anything connected with
> Avodah Zara would seem impossible to maintain.
> ...
> What about money?

Money is a particularly interesting point in today's world.

In the US (and probably in most nations these days), most money exists
in the form of computer records, not physical objects.

When you make payments by cheque or credit card, nothing physical moves
anywhere - there are simply some computer network transactions to
subtract the amount from one balance and add it to the other.

Even when you're dealing with cash, it's quite transitory.  When banks
have too much cash on-hand to be convenient (or when bills/coins wear
out), the cash is sent to the Federal Reserve where it may be physically
destroyed (paper money often is, coins only when they wear out).  When
banks need extra cash, they get cash deliveries from the Federal Reserve
- which (at least in the case of paper money) is usually newly-printed.

In all cases, the "money" is nothing more than numbers in computers,
with the physical currency only being significant outside the confines
of the banking system.

In the case of avoda zara, this becomes a very interesting question.

If someone dedicates money to an idol, and the foreign priest deposits
the money in his temple's bank account, that physical money may well be
destroyed.  As far as the bank is concerned, the only important part of
the deposit is the computer records.  When that priest later withdraws
the money, he almost certainly will get back different physical currency
from what he deposited.

While this may be problematic for this hypothetical temple (since they 
may require the same physical offering for their rituals), it becomes 
extremely problematic for Jews elsewhere.

Surely, the computer records can't be considered avoda zara - they are 
not the idolatrous offering, but a number representing the amount.  The 
number can't be any more idolatrous than a paper ledger recording the 

The actual bills/coins given to the idol (which are forbidden to Jews) 
are lost in the banking system - maybe to be destroyed or maybe to be 
given out to other bank customers.  And they may be given out to bank 
customers thousands of miles away.  A Jew has absolutely no way of 
knowing whether the cash he gets from a bank withdrawal (or as change 
from a purchase) was once used as an idolatrous offering somewhere in 
the country.

Perhaps this means Jews today must forsake the use of cash and do all of
their financial transactions with credit/debit cards and other purely
electronic means?  Unfortunately, this is not yet practical (although it
may be in the near future.)

Insisting on getting new bills from any bank withdrawal might be
possible, but is not practical.  And this doesn't solve the problem of
change from purchases.  In order to be safe, should a Jew always refuse
change from purchases?  If I buy a piece of candy and only have a $20
bill on hand, must I leave a 4000% tip?  Should a Jewish merchant refuse
to accept cash from his customers (which may well be illegal)?

I have no opinions on this, but it is an interesting question.

-- David


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 16:26:45 -0400
Subject: Water as a Jewish Drink

R. Haym Solpveitchik in "Can Halachik texts talk History?" (AJ Review,
vol 3, 1978) relates the issue of drinking and trading in gentile wine
to the concept of water not being considered suitable to drink, noting"
Wine played a far greater role in the middle ages than it does now".

Chag Sameach,
Yossi Ginzberg


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 19:06:14 -0700
Subject: What "Counts" as Tzedakah

I am sure that the posted article [about counting up one's tithe, and
what 'counts' or not] had scholarly sources, but I personally could not
abide considering expenses for adopted children as somehow different
than those for genetic children.  What a cruel distinction, to assume
financially that the adopted children are optional charity cases.

(I disagree also with the distinction between types of religious
organizations, i.e. that donations to the Federation or nonOrthodox
synagogues wouldn't 'count'--but I can see at least some halakhic
rationale for those who follow that position.)

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 17:55:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Why they shave heads

Avi Feldblum wrote:

> I believe that this is not a correct understanding of the Talmudic stance
> on marriage. The woman is NOT considered property of her husband, and I
> think the idea that there might be different requirements of modesty for
> married and unmarried is not tied to the concept of property.

Avi is quite right.  I'm not qualified to offer a correct understanding
of the Talmudic stance.  Mine was rather derived, this being zman
matan-tora, from the plain meaning of Shemot XX: lo takhamod bayit
reyekho..eyshet reyekho ...  vekhol asher lereyekho.  This is the
generic notion of the property relation which gives owner certain
exclusive rights: in this case, exclusive conjugal rights.

This doesn't khos v'kholile reduce the wife to an object without rights.
But, as with the wedding ring, external signs serve to maintain the
peace by signaling to all what is off-limits.

Without in any way seeking to disparage analysis that proceeds entirely
from within the Talmudic tradition, I would point out that
_explanations_ of Jewish cultural practices through the ages can only be
partly be achieved by looking to kh"z"l.  We Jews are indeed different
but, being human, are in may ways pretty much the same.

Noyekh Miller


End of Volume 42 Issue 84