Volume 42 Number 99
                 Produced: Fri Jun 11  4:48:33 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Guidelines for Tzedaka
         [Robert Rubinoff]
Hindu and Avoda Zarah
         [Martin Stern]
Illegal Torah website (2)
         [Shimon Lebowitz, Yisrael Medad]
Israeli perspective
         [Frank Silbermann]
Kabbalah and Halacha
         [Simon Wanderer]
Mikva on Friday night (2)
         [Batya Medad, Tzvi Stein]
Names (Marrying w/ same name, etc.)
         [Carl Singer]
Procedural aspects of following wig psak
         [Seth Lebowitz]
Shiddach Dating Rules (2)
         [Anonymous, Ephraim Tabory]


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 10:45:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Guidelines for Tzedaka

> From: Daniel Cohn <cohn3736@...>
> In his submission on guidelines for tzedaka, Meir brings a comprehensive
> list of what type of income is "tzedaka liable".
> Now let me ask a simple question - assume a person makes $50,000 in
> "liable" income, and has $48,000 in expenses (mortgage, car, tuition,
> groceries, bills, etc.) which according to the book Meir quotes would
> not be deductible. So do we make this person give $5,000 to tzedaka and
> incur in a $3,000 debt each year? Or what about someone whose income is
> less than his expenses in a certain year, should he get even more in
> debt in order to give 10% to tzedaka?
> I don't think this makes any sense. When I asked my rabbi he said that
> one should take "basic expenses" out of the liable income. He also said
> that since there today giving maaser is a minhag, there are no "official
> guidelines" as to what is liable and what is not.

And if his other expenses come to $48,000, should he have to go into
debt just to buy groceries?  Or to pay his mortgage?

Ah, you'll say: but *those* expenses he *has* to pay, he's *obligated*
to pay!

Exactly.  And tzedaka is a mitzvah, an obligation as well.  If he can't
afford it, then he's got a problem, and he's got to figure out how to
increase his income and/or decrease his expenses so he can bring his
budget back into balance.

Or to put it another way - if he makes $50K and has $48K in expenses,
well, what would he do if he suddenly had his pay cut to $45K?  He'd
adjust as best he could, right?  Well, the 10% obligation means his pay
was really just $45K all along, so now he's got to adjust.

(Note that this is a separate question from what goes into computing the
obligation...but *whatever* the actual amount he's obligated to give
turns out to be, "I can't afford it" is not a legitimate objection.)



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 12:49:30 +0100
Subject: Re: Hindu and Avoda Zarah

on 9/6/04 11:15 am, Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...> wrote:

> Two, I think that most Hindus do realize the non-identity of the idol
> with God -- they are certainly told that everywhere.  Not only that,
> there are many rituals that have the purpose of inviting the Deity to
> manifest Himself in a particular physical representation for the
> purpose of worship -- clear evidence that the physical representation
> is not God.

Surely this is precisely what avodah zarah is all about. Only the most
unthinking person would assume that the physical idol in itself was the
god.  On the contrary it was always seen as re[resentation of it. Any
rituals that have the purpose of inviting the god to manifest itself in
the idol thereby make its worship avodah zarah, even if the god in
question is HKBH. This would make Hinduism, at least in its popular
forms, avodah zarah, even more so than Roman Catholicism.

>It is troubling to me as to how we end up being de facto meykl
>vis-a-vis the doctrine of avode zore eynah botl be mashehu; are there
>indeed kules here, or issues regarding what it is that is subject to
>the no bitul rule?

As regards avodah zarah not being batul bemashehu, this is derabbanan,
midoraita it is in fact batul berov.

>I have not heard of this idea that cutting off the hair derives from a
>negation of Buddhist practice.

That is the precise opposite of what I said which was that the tonsuring
ritual at Tiraputi was suggested as having been a 'hangover' from the
previous Buddhist practices in the area which resurgent Hinduism was
unable to abolish. What I asked was whether the Sikh practice of never
cutting the hair might have been somehow a negation of the Buddhist
practice but this is doubtful since historically Sikhisn did not arise
until long after Buddhism had been wiped out in most of India.

Martin Stern


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 17:41:34 +0200
Subject: Re: Illegal Torah website

> But regardless of the legal/moral/halachic questions, if the texts in
> question are available directly from the publisher, then it is obviously
> better to download from them and avoid even the appearance of
> impropriety.

I think you are misunderstanding the meaning of the words
"The texts are available legally at".

The website mentioned *sells* a CDROM, I did not see any downloads


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 22:07:02 +0200
Subject: Illegal Torah website

Seth Kadish wrote:

      > A while later I got a reply from the DBS corporation that the
      > texts were stolen from them and used without their permission.
      > It seems obvious to me that this is a clear issue of mitzvah
      > ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah,

a)  that Russian site is now down, I understand.
b) but what interests me is: is DBS paying for the right to republish,
if digitally or otherwise, some 15,000 volumes?  If so, who uis getting
the money - the publisher or family heirs?

I know that some of these books are hundreds of years old.

And I am going to guess that the story of how these books were obtained
and scanned (perhaps from libraries, etc.) may also be a matter of
Halachic deliberation of mitzvah ha'ba'ah b'eveirah or just plain gezel,
but I may be wrong and they have written permission form all the
sources, authors and publishers to reproduce these works.

Yisrael Medad


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 07:00:07 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Israeli perspective

Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>:
> I just had an interesting phone call with a "chareidi" friend in Israel,
> the gist of which was basically, "What the heck is wrong with all you
> American Jews and your rabbis?  There has been a clear psak from the
> gedolei haDor for two weeks already that sheitels are avoda zora, and
> you're all still carrying on like nothing has changed! We keep sending
> chashuve rabbonim over there to explain it and you still don't accept
> it!"

Did the American rabbis he criticizes _ask_ the Israeli rabbis for a
psak din on the issue?  If not, then isn't the "sending of chashuve
rabbonim over here to explain it" rather presumptuous?

> My friend seemed to view this as a serious schism between American and
> Israeli Jewry.

Wasn't the limits of authority of gedolim already a contested issue?

How is this any different than the disagreement between American
and Israeli rabbis over generic gelatin?  (I've heard that most
Israeli rabbis permit it; the American consensus is to forbid it.)

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: Simon Wanderer <simon.wanderer@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 13:19:24 +0100
Subject: Kabbalah and Halacha

With reference to the recent discussion of Kabalistic Reasoning
abrogating Halacha, I saw an interesting comment in the Lubavitcher
Rebbe's Likutei Sichos (I think it was vol. 32 or 33, whichever is on
b'midbar). He tries to explain why Lubavitchers follow the practice of
concealing their tzitzis (as mandated by the Arizal) when the Shulchan
Aruch HaRav says to wear them "out". I'm writing this from memory, so
this may not be entirely accurate. He quotes someone whose name I forget
asking the Alter Rebbe who we follow when the Poskim argue with the
Mekubalim, to which he replied "the Mekubalim". IIRC he was then asked
why *he* wrote that we should follow the Poskim, and answered that the
Mekubalim say we should follow the Mekubalim and in this Machlokes, too,
we Pasken like them!

Without commenting on the profundity /irony of this, it is an
interesting view on the role of Kabalah within Halacha.



From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 20:03:36 +0200
Subject: Re: Mikva on Friday night

      That is not clear to me at all.  A woman should *not* go to the
      mikva if her husband is not going to be there.  She should wait
      until the first night he will be back.  So this sailor's wife
      would go to the mikvah only when her husband is home (every six
      months or whatever).  And the

On the contrary.  I remember that the wife is always supposed to be
ready for a surprise visit.  Years ago, it happened to someone I knew
that her husband came home unexpectedly from _____, and she could have
had been ok, but she hadn't been to mikvah or counted or anything, so
they had to wait the minimum 12 days, possibly plus.


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 07:48:06 -0400
Subject: Mikva on Friday night

It would not have been practical to turn down the invitation.  It was a
trip out of town for Shabbos that had been planned long in advance for
the purpose of seeing someone that was coming in from overseas who we
hadn't seen for years.  There was no way to make Shabbos for ourselves
in this out-of-town place, and it doesn't seem reasonable to say that we
should cancel the whole trip and the opportunity to see these people
just for the sake of not putting a mikva night off for 1 day.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 10:57:38 -0400
Subject: Names (Marrying w/ same name, etc.)

One of the postings reminded me of the following story:

Some 20 years ago my brother / sister-in-law (my wife's brother & his
wife) named their first child Rochel -- a name that they "loved."  It
was only after the naming that they realized that his Grandmother,
"Grandma Rosa" as she was known was also a Rochel.  Grandma Rosa was
informed and she replied (in her typical fashion) that since she was a
member of the (Manhattan) Spanish Portuguese shule that she would take
on the Sefardic minhag in this case.  In hindsight it reflected her
wonderful, easy going disposition and shalom-oriented outlook on life.
BTW -- she lived past age 101 -- good medicine.

Carl Singer


From: Seth Lebowitz <SLebowitz@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 10:29:18 -0400
Subject: Procedural aspects of following wig psak

        Ester Posen wrote:
"Once Rav Elyashiv has decreed that we should not wear Indian hair wigs
there was instant, literally overnight global action to comply with the
decree to stop wearing indian hair wigs. This is really commendable on
the part of the Orthodox Jewish community. So this whole issue is more
about emunas chachamim then avodah zorah."

One interesting thing that hasn't been discussed much is what I would
call "procedural issues" in this area.  For example, when does someone
decide that he [in this case I guess it's she] will follow a certain
p'sak.  Does one find out that there was such a psak from a world-famous
posek and immediately burn the wig without consulting one's own rabbi?
Or does finding out about the psak simply raise the question, and then
the person asks the she'ela [halachic question] to their rabbi and then
act accordingly?  I would be interested to hear from anyone out there
who participate in the recently publicized wig-burning or who lives in a
community where this caught on and who knows how this worked in this

If the answer is that simply "finding out" that the great posek forbade
the wigs was enough to motivate people to burn their wigs, then what
constitutes "finding out"?  Is hearing about it from a friend enough?
Is reading a copy of a fax on the internet enough?  What if the fax on
the internet is a second-hand account of what the posek said?

I might boil down these two questions into: (1) has the existence of
global instant communication turned great poskim into the "LOR" in
certain communities? And (2) how much information do you have to have
about what the chacham said in order to have "emunas chachamim" about

Seth Lebowitz


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 08:16:47
Subject: Shiddach Dating Rules

> I also think it's a very sad state of affairs in the Orthodox community
> when a poster has to post this message anonymously. (I'm speculating
> now, of course, but my guess is that if the poster revealed his name,
> and people knew he was questioning the "rules," he or she would
> negatively affect their kids chances for a shidduch.)
> What a shame!

Your speculation is wrong.  

I'm not questioning the rules; I/m (only) asking what the rules are as
I'm new at this and things have changed since my wife and I were at this
stage.  But the reason for anonymity is simply to protect my son's
privacy.  We're all getting inundated.

From: Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 12:35:46 +0200
Subject: Re: Shiddach Dating Rules

 "I also think it's a very sad state of affairs in the Orthodox
community when a poster has to post this message anonymously. (I'm
speculating now, of course, but my guess is that if the poster revealed
his name, and people knew he was questioning the 'rules,' he or she
would negatively affect their kids chances for a shidduch.)"

This phenomenon is hereafter known as the "Bertha effect" (named after
my late Aunt Bertha). Bertha could not hear well, so she would ask
someone a question, give the answer herself, and then get really angry
at the answer she gave.


End of Volume 42 Issue 99