Volume 43 Number 45
                    Produced: Thu Jul 15  4:56:20 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Haggadah (Pesach) Requirements?
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Mikvah night etc - third post
         [Chana Luntz]
Rambam on health care
         [Adina Gerver]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 13:35:16 -0700
Subject: Haggadah (Pesach) Requirements?

Hello, I wondered if people could help me look at the questions:

What is the minimum of the haggadah that must be said at the Pesach
seder?  What is the optimum?  What are allowable additions/subtractions?
What are special considerations (e.g. kid-friendly parts before they go
to sleep etc.)?

These beg the question:  how was the current 'usual' haggadah canonized?

 Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:15:44 +0100
Subject: Mikvah night etc - third post

I said in my first post that I hoped to get back to the list with a few
more sources on two matters a) where issues of tznius are dealt with in
the literature (some of which I then provided in my second post, abeit
that Avi included it as the first post in the digest) and b) a further
discussion of the Shulchan Aruch's statement that "if her husband is in
the city, it is a mitzvah to do tevila b'zmanah [immerse on time] so
that they should not be mevatel [nulify] the mitzvah of pru u'rvu [being
fruitful and multiplying] for even one night". (SA Yoreh Deah siman 197
si'if 2).

The source for the Shulchan Aruch's statement is brought in the Beis
Yosef as being due to the fact that Yehoshua was punished because he
prevented Yisroel from performing the mitzvah of pru u'rvu for a single
night. The source for this is Eruvin 63b in which R' Abba bar Papa
explains that Yehoshua ben Nun was punished (by having no sons) because
he prevented Yisroel from engaging pru u'rvu.  This was because there
was a halacha that it was forbidden to have marital relations when the
Aron [ark] and the Shechinah were not in their place, and since he did
not return them to their place on a certain night when he could have
done, all of Yisroel were prevented from the mitzvah. (The idea being
that the punishment was a form of midah k'neged midah [measure for
measure]- because he prevented Yisroel from having children that night,
he was not permitted a surviving son).

Thus the Shulchan Aruch is quoting the gemora which for mida kneged mida
reasons clearly needed to use the language of pru u'rvu.  But the
reference to pru u'rvu raises some obvious questions.  After all, the
mitzvah of pru u'rvu is fundamentally the mitzvah to have a certain
number of children.  Now a) one cannot guarantee that one will conceive
children on any given night (even if, statistically it can be shown that
more women are more likely to conceive on the date of completion of her
count than any other it is still fundamentally a matter for HKBH); and
b) it would seem to suggest that once one had fulfilled the mitzvah (eg
by having the requisite number of children) then the rule regarding
going to the mikvah on time should no longer apply.  In addition, even
in pure halachic terms, it is not at all clear that the act of marital
relations is in fact a mitzvah in and of itself vis a vis pru ur'vu.
The Minchas Chinuch has a discussion (mitzvah 1, oit 14) on the nature
of the mitzvah of pru u'rvu, which concludes that the act of relations
is merely a heksher mitzvah [a preparation for the mitzvah], with the
actual fulfilment of the mitzvah of pru u'rvu being at the birth and
during the lifetime of the children.

However, subsequent poskim make it clear that what is also (perhaps even
in some ways fundamentally) being referred to here is the mitzvah of
onah (the Torah obligation of a husband to provide conjugal rights to
his wife). Thus for example it is made clear in the poskim that it is
still a mitzvah to go to mikvah on time when the husband is in the city
even if, say, the woman is already pregnant (and so clearly the mitzvah
of pru u'rvu is not applicable). (see Taharat Habayit siman 14 oit 2 on
page 448) where he brings a number of sources quoting the zohar and the
Ari as stating this).

If you think about the differences between the two mitzvahs, some of the
parameters of the discussion become clearer.  The mitzvah of pru u'rvu
is a mitzvah on the man (for which he needs the assistance of the
woman).  The mitzvah of onah is a mitzvah on the man to provide the
woman with a benefit.

This is by way of background to the discussion that has been taking
place on this list as to whether one is *required* to try and have
relations on mikvah night.

On the one hand, the sources do indeed encourage the having of relations
on mikvah night.  Taharat Habayit brings numbers of sources to this
effect, including that it is a special and independent mitzvah of onah
to have relations on mikvah night and further brings that while in
general, for Torah scholars, the mitzvah of onah is only chal [falls] on
a Friday night (because they are supposed to be busy with, and weakened
by, their studies during the week), that is not true on mikvah night,
when the mitzvah is also considered chal.  In addition, while there are
various nights when it is considered not to be ideal to have relations
(such as the night of pesach), this rule of abstinence is to be ignored
if that night is also the night of her tevila.

Yet on the other hand, the Ben Ish Chai in Rav Poelim Yoreh Deah siman
34 was asked whether it was a problem to delay having relations on
mikvah night due to a mitzvah which was not an obligation, but which
only arose due to a midah chassidus, and he responded that it was fine
to delay for two or three nights, mitzvah or no mitzvah - so long as the
asker had his wife's agreement.  This, as you can see, fits with the
idea of the mitzvah involved being onah, which is fundamentally required
to be provided as a benefit to the woman, so that it needs to be the
woman who waives that benefit.

Rav Ovadiah in Taharat HaBayit siman 14 oit 2 discusses the concept
(which I referred to in the previous post) about it being a sakana for
the woman from the time she goes to mikvah until the time she has
relations with her husband, and concludes that there is no such sakana
if the woman's husband is indeed with her, just that there are no
relations eg the husband is recovering from an illness and in no
position to perform (although he does bring a minhag that some women
apparently have regarding spreading over themselves the clothing of
their husbands in such circumstances).  Perhaps of even more interest,
he concludes (based on a Shach siman 103) that while the man might in
such circumstances not be able to provide actual relations, he can
provide sha'ar krivot [closeness of the flesh, ie touching] and that
this itself is a mitzvah and a reason to go to mikvah on time (see also
the Bnei Banim {R' Yehuda Herzl Henkin, whom may, although I am not
sure, be on this list) volume 2 siman 33 who also has a whole discussion
about going to mikvah when the husband is not in the city and concludes
similarly on this point.  See there for a discussion about a gamut of
modern real life situations, such as women whose husbands are in the
army, and who may often not know till late evening that their husbands
have been given a night's leave, and the importance of going to mikvah
on time in such circumstances just in case even for those who may have
the minhag not to go when their husband is not in the city).

Getting back to the question of a Friday night invitation and going to
mikvah, the closest teshuva to this matter that I could find was in the
Shevet HaLevi [Rav Chaim Wolsner from Bnei Brak volume 5, Yoreh Deah
siman 117 oit 2] which discusses a case where a couple are visiting
their in-laws, and she wants to push off her tevila due to the fact that
somebody might meet her.  And he holds that she should go on time (abeit
doing what they can to be discrete about it), and certainly if they had
not fulfilled the mitvah of pru u'rvu (ie had the requisite number of
children).  And he distinguishes between the situations in the poskim
where women were allowed to delay for reasons of tzniut (and in
particular the case of a woman who had a shop open all day until late,
who would have had to shut up her shop to prepare to go to mikvah,
thereby telling the world that she was going, whereby she was permitted
to delay her tevila until Friday night) and this case on the grounds
that there it was making it greatly and widely known, while here it was
not so.

  Now while the Shevet HaLevi does not discuss the Ben Ish Chai, and
maybe he does not hold like him, one possible difference has to do with
the pru u'rvu/onah distinction.  If it is a question of onah, then if
the woman would prefer to not deal with the embarrassment of her in-laws
knowing, but would rather waive her right, that would seem to be her
prerogative (but not necessarily his).  If there is also the question of
pru u'rvu, then the equation becomes more complicated.  On the other
hand, if in fact the couple really want mikvah to happen, but just don't
know how to handle the situation, mitzvah considerations are likely to
come to the fore, and a posek will tell them to go.

You see, the halacha has to take account of different personality types
and levels of embarrassment.  To quote a gemora from another context
( see Ketubot 2b] there are prutzot [those who are overly immodest in
such matters] and tzniuot [those who are overly modest].  That gemora
was dealing with the case of a husband going away and leaving a
conditional get and the rabbis needing to legislate to make the get a
valid one even if he failed to fulfil the condition due to an ones] but
the more general point is that there can be reactions to a halacha at
two extremes (and anywhere in between).  At one extreme is the
personality type who is likely to be too lenient in such cases, and the
other extreme is the type who likely to be overly strict.  Similarly
with this.

As we have mentioned, the poskim have allowed for women to go during the
day on the eighth day (despite a rabbinic ban due to chinuch of the
daughters) because she is embarrassed due to having grown sons in the
house whom she might meet.  But they certainly never said that anybody
who had grown sons whom they might meet should go during the day (after
all, such a psak by definition means that they have delayed the mitzvah
for at least one night, which would seem prima facie to put the Rav into
the same category as Yehoshua).  Rather, if a particular woman comes
with a question of this nature, she is already effectively stating that
she is of the category who tends towards greater embarrassment (but
clearly not such great embarrassment that she is not willing to ask a
shiala, but just won't go, which is an even greater problem which we
have not addressed here) and since such embarrassment stems out of
tzniut, it is allowed for within the system.  On the other hand, the
poskim do say that, as a general rule that one should not make a fuss
and a tulmult about going, so that it becomes widely known that tonight
is mikvah night, statements clearly aimed at those who might otherwise
have no problem with a public announcement (ie at the other end of the
spectrum). And note, of course, that the original ban on women going
during the day on the eighth day was due to the daughters knowing about
her going, and drawing the wrong conclusion (ie that she went on the
seventh day), which would seem to assume that Chazal, at least, expected
that daughters would be aware of precisely when their mother went to
mikvah and yet today it seems to be common to hide it even from one's
daughters.  And sometimes one can be considered to be too concerned with
this (as the Shevet Levi clearly felt in the case he poskened above).

And so part of what needs to be understood here is that, in these issues
perhaps more than most others, it is all very personal, and dependent on
personality type, and that personality type is taken into account in
terms of the way these issues are weighed and shialas are answered.
After all, you are dealing with issues which go to the heart of shalom
bayis and the fundamental relationship between husband and wife.  I
believe it is for that reason that the tznius requirements are as they
are.  To quote my kala teacher, the greater the kedusha, the more things
are required to be hidden( away, so that the kodesh kodeshim was only
accessed once a year, in private, by the kohen gadol.  Similarly, she
drew the analogy, the relationship between husband and wife is based on
kedusha, and therefore it is important that the fundamentals are kept
private (Although note that this is not the rationale given by all, see
eg the Bnei Banim (vol 1, siman 37 (1)).

On the other hand, there is a fair bit of legitimacy to the concern that
over emphasis on tznius is, today, resulting in a situation where at one
extreme women do not go to mikvah and keep the laws of taharas mishpacha
and at the other extreme, delay going to mikvah because they are too
embarrassed to ask a shiala or to work around embarrassment. For that
reason, I do not believe it a bad thing that there is a discussion of
this nature on a list like mail-jewish (although my hope is that it will
be even better if there is an awareness of the extent of discussion of
these matters in the sources).  It just might encourage more involvement
in mikvah and the mitzvah of taharat mishpacha, without violating
anything in terms of the husband-wife bond.

Kind Regards
Chana Luntz


From: Adina Gerver <gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 14:16:21 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Rambam on health care


I heard someone say, in passing, that the Rambam listed medical care
first on his list of the ten communal services that a city is required
to provide to its inhabitants. Does anyone know where I can find this,
if it was actually written somewhere?

I would also be interested in other Jewish sources about the importance
of providing health care to Jewish communal workers. (I'm interested in
the serious problem of lack of health care for Jewish educators.)

Please respond to me directly, as I don't often get a chance to read
mail-Jewish these days.

Kol tuv,
Adina Gerver


End of Volume 43 Issue 45