Volume 43 Number 46
                    Produced: Thu Jul 15  5:03:06 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Erev 17 Tammuz
         [Kenneth G Miller]
Erev 17 Tamuz
         [Steven White]
Hot water heater construction
         [Carl Singer]
Moshe Rabeinu's conception
         [Simon Wanderer]
New idea?  Jewish web search engine.
Origin of the Streimel
Some Broader issues in "sex" education
         [Russell J Hendel]
Tales of the Tzaddikim (was: Wonder stories)
         [Brandon Raff]


From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 10:26:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Erev 17 Tammuz

In MJ 32:32, Yehonatan Chipman wrote:

> It was only so as not to unduly burden the public that, when the
> Sages took these fasts upon Klal Yisrael, that certain leniencies were
> allowed. ... 2.  Marital sex is forbidden on the night of a fast day,
> except on leil tevillah (mikveh night) ... these halakhot appaer in O.H.
> 550.2; see there especaially Mishnah Berurah and Be'er Heitev.

I believe that the word "forbidden" in this context, is wrong,
misleading, and/or inappropriately strong.

The Shulchan Aruch (Mechaber), in the source given, says that on "These
fasts, other than the 9th of Av, washing, anointing, wearing shoes, and
sexual relations are allowed..."

Both of the authorities cited by Mr. Chipman qualify this in the exact
same manner: "ubaal nefesh yachmir b'kulam" - "And a baal nefesh will be
strict in all of them" (i.e., the non-eating/drinking aspects, which the
Shulchan Aruch allowed). However one might understand the terms "baal
nefesh" (basically, someone who really cares about his soul, but there
can be various ways of interpreting that idea), the bottom line is that
certain people should be strict on something which is allowed to the
masses. It is *not* "forbidden".

To move slightly off-topic, we have occasionally discussed the concept
of a "chumra", or of being "machmir", or "strict". Often, it means that
one is in a situation where it is unclear what the real halacha is, so
one follows the more stringent view just to be "safe", i.e., to insure
that the halacha is kept regardless of what the answer might be. (For
example, one is unsure how much matza he needs to eat at the seder, so
"to be sure" he eats a large enough amount that there is no longer any
doubt that he ate enough.)

I believe that in this case, we have an entirely different concept of
"chumra" in operation. Let's look at what the Mishna Brurah writes at
the cited location (MB 550:6) -- "When they wanted and accepted upon
themselves to fast on all the four above-mentioned fasts, they did not
accept upon themselves that it should be with the force of a public fast
like Tisha B'Av, because most of the community are not able to stand up
to it, but a baal nefesh should be strict on them all just like Tisha
B'Av, with the exception that ..." (and then he mentions three
exceptions where even the baal nefesh should not be strict).

It seems to me that this is a different sort of chumra. We have no doubt
(at least according to the Mishna Brurah) that when the law of the other
fasts was enacted, it banned only eating and drinking, and not the other
prohibitions. But we also understand (according to the Mishna Brurah)
that when the law of the other fasts was enacted, the rabbis did *want*
to include the other aspects too, and it seems that the only (or main)
reason why they did not do so was that the people would not have
accepted it. Therefore, a baal nefesh -- which I will translate for the
moment as a person who wants to go beyond what is required, and do what
is actually *proper* -- should be "machmir" and avoid those activities,
unless there are other overriding concerns (such as the three exceptions
brought by the Mishna Brurah).

Akiva Miller


From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 14:28:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Erev 17 Tamuz

In MJ 43:38, Abie <oliveoil@...> writes on "Erev 17 Tamuz":

> I find it difficult, therefore, to agree that the question about erev 17 
> Tammuz is dependant on the status of the night before a fast, which, 
> according to our minhag was not accepted as a fast day. More likely it 
> is an issue of when the aveilut of the entire three week period begins. 

If this is so, may I also suggest the following:  Under normal
circumstances (perhaps), the aveilut of the "entire three week period"
might begin at the beginning of the fast, on the morning of 17 Tamuz.
Yet it would still be consistent with that p'sak that in a year where 17
Tamuz is nidha [deferred, to 18 Tamuz, because 17 Tamuz is Shabbat],
aveilut has already begun at Motzei Shabbat, as it is already 18 Tamuz. 

Steven White
Highland Park, NJ


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 05:36:38 -0400
Subject: Hot water heater construction

>> It makes much more sense to have the cold water enter the tank at the
>> bottom since .... 

Several weeks ago, Harlan Broude was kind enough to point me to this web
site that has good drawings:


Again, it doesn't make sense to have lots of holes / joints at the
bottom of container filled with water.

Carl Singer


From: Simon Wanderer <simon.wanderer@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 11:22:34 +0100
Subject: Moshe Rabeinu's conception

The Gemara in Sota (Daf 11a) says that at the time Amram "remarried"
yocheved she was already three months pregnant with Moshe. This is why
she was able to hide baby Moshe for three months after he was born, as
the Egyptians only began looking for children nine months from the date
of reunion. (This is in contrast to the opinion of Rashi Al HaTorah that
Moshe was born three months premature.) This begs the question: how did
yocheved get pregnant if she was separated from Amram? If she became
pregnant before they separated and the duration of separation was less
than three months, why did the Egyptians not consider the possibility of
a baby being born earlier? 

I have (very briefly) looked through the commentaries, but haven't found
any that discuss this. Is anyone aware of a source that would answer
this one? (Please, no idle speculation, I would appreciate a source) 



From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 23:53:32 -0400
Subject: New idea?  Jewish web search engine.

Dear all, 

What I would like to see is a Jewish web search engine, that would
search only reliable Jewish sites.

Now, when I or anyone tries to search for something Jewish, with google
or yahoo or anything, I have to wade through loads of nonsense sites,
including Xian sites, including those pretending to be Jewish (even
using Hebrew names). Sometimes I have to look at the site itself and
spend minutes deciding if it is Jewish or not.

Would it be hard for one of you computer guys, or one of your friends,
to make a search engine that would look at ou.org and aish.org and
aishdas.org and jewsforjudaism.com/org and all the other good sites,
some small, some large, but at no others.

Maybe it could eventually have two levels of searching, another level
for searching secular though not heretical Jewish sites when one has
questions about world issues, not religious ones, related to Jews.  An
example of the need for that is the error-based email a friend got on
Friday that mistakenly said Starbucks was withdrawing from Israel
because of the Arab boycott and not because business was terrible, which
was the real reason.

I don't like free g-mail because Google intends to scan their
subscribers' outgoing and incoming email to send targetted advertising,
but it's worth noting that users, free or paid, will be able to use the
google search engine to search just within one's own email stored on
their servers.  Perhaps they would license the use of it at a low cost
for this project.  Or some other search engine writer might provide
something for even less, or free.  The algorithm would not have to be
that good or that complicated because instead of searching over 4
billion pages, it would have to search under a million, maybe under
100,000 pages or fewer.

Does anyone know someone who would want to work on this?

<meirman@...>  Baltimore, MD, USA


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 05:47:21 -0400
Subject: Origin of the Streimel

>From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
>IIRC, I hearing Rabbi Berel Wein on a tape once say that he saw a hat
>worn by 'Peter the Great', Czar of Russia, at a museum (Hermitage ?) and
>that it was similar to a streimel.

The Hermitage website is pretty good, with at least 125 hits on Peter
the Great, many of which are "tours" which include several pages each.
Too many to check them all.

The only page I found that _ shows him wearing a hat looks like this:
(_) or check this url:


It's in color and looks a lot like a streimel to me, and maybe it is not
Peter but Menshikov who is wearing it, and it was painted by a 9 year
old boy.  Judge for yourselves.

<meirman@...>  Baltimore, MD, USA


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 21:21:20 -0400
Subject: Some Broader issues in "sex" education

With regard to Janet's inquiry about sex education I would like to
broaden her question. Not only should we inquire on education on basic
facts---we should also inquire about education on things to avoid.

Here is a good example: A common misconception is that the prohibition
of privacy (among people of opposite genders) is to prevent possible

Rabbi Manus Friedman in his book DOESNT ANYONE BLUSH ANYMORE points out
that Moses and Sarah could not be alone...yet we dont worry they will
have an affair Rather Rabbi Friedman interprets the privacy laws as a
means enhancing our borders (in laymans language avoiding situations
that on the average would increase our anxiety, awareness or
preoccupation with these issues)

There is of course a vast difference between worry about actual sin vs
worry about uncomfortable situations.

There are similar "fallacies" with regards to the prohibitions of
physical contact (holding hands and good night kisses) etc. I still meet
teenagers who are taught that the purpose of these prohibitions is to
avoid sin (A concept that these teenagers think rediculous---and
obviously if they think it rediculous we are not helping their
observance of these laws).

I just gave 1-2 examples but I would like to see more discussion on WHAT

Finally let me end with a rather shocking story (Which I personally
heard from Rabbi Friedman). Rabbi Friedman was once lecturing about the
laws of family purity (going to Mikvah) and a woman in the back started
crying. When he asked her later why she explained that they had asked
their Rabbi for a kosher wedding and he did not mention any of these
laws. When Rabbi Friedman confronted this Rabbi (An orthodox Rabbi) the
Rabbi shrugged and said: Well I didnt think she was the type to observe
the family purity laws.

Again this raises very serious questions: Not only what we are doing
about sex education: What are we doing about preserving our own very
important laws.

Finally--and this is not a small matter---how many Jewish teenagers know
anything about sexually transmitted diseases--for example do they know
it can happen to them? Do they know that certain diseases are
irreversible? Do they know that it does occasionally happen in the
Jewish community?

I could go on....for example my grandfather had a secretary who got
pregnant out of wedlock but did not have an abortion. He kept her as an
employee (This was quite some time ago). The point of this story is that
**I** knew about it...I was brought up to understand that certain things
happen we still have to be charitable and care about each other.

I could go on and on. I really think this should be discussed with
concrete suggestions. After all: Getting excited about sex education and
ignoring social and physical cautions is not really a sign that one is
uninhibited I really enjoy and participate in the mljewish discussions
(Slit skirts, hot water faucets,...but it is not against the rules to
occasionally discuss something serious)

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com


From: Brandon Raff <Brandon@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:46:32 +0200
Subject: Tales of the Tzaddikim (was: Wonder stories)

I am reminded of the following story Rabbi Wein relates concerning the
Chofetz Chaim. Once one of the Chofetz Chaim's students got arrested and
the Chofetz Chaim was called to testify on his behalf. Just after they
called the Chofetz Chaim to the stand, the defendant's attorney went up
to the judge and said: "Your Honor, this man is the Saintly Chofetz
Chaim, and if it pleases you, I would like to relate a story to
illustrate what a saintly man he is. Once he was walking through the
market and a thief stole his purse with all his money in it. The Chofetz
Chaim ran after him and shouted: 'It is hefker! it is hefer! (it is
ownerless, it is ownerless).'  You see, the Chofetz Chaim did not want
that man to have an additional sin of theft." To this the prosecutor
responded: "Your Honor, you do not seriously believe this story, do

The judge then responded to the prosecutor:" It is not whether the story
is true or not, the fact is they do not tell stories like that about

When relating stories, miraculous events etc about Tzaddikim, maybe the
stories have been embellished with the passage of time, maybe details
have changed or got mixed up, however, the fact is they do not relate
stories like that about me (us).



End of Volume 43 Issue 46