Volume 44 Number 11
                    Produced: Sun Aug 15  9:17:53 EDT 2004


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beit Din
         [Anonymous]
Genetic Differences Among Jews
         [Bernard Raab]
Highjacking of language
         [Martin Stern]
Meshulach
         [Yisrael Medad]
Rabbinic violations for pre-barmitzva (4)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Avi Feldblum, Ira L. Jacobson, Gershon Dubin]
Relative Sociological Realities - at last
         [Jay Bailey]
Shiva for "Outmarriages" is based on Error
         [Josh Backon]
"Significant Other"
         [Nathan Lamm]


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From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 16:57:45
Subject: Beit Din

>Which is a pain of galut that we don't have a functioning, respected
>system of batei dinim (I don't blame this on the Rabbinic leadership,
>IMHO they rule by the consent of the governed and the governed refuse to
>support this on a macro basis). FWIW the Bet Din of America (RCA
>related)has made great efforts in this area.

Anonymous  notes

The real problem is that in too many areas the Beit Din is not
competent.  That's the problem where I live.  They take on issues they
are not qualified to rule on and thereby ruin people's lives.  I'm
involved with an issue now, where I have spoken to multiple Torah
scholars who all agree my local Beit Din is either ignorant or corrupt.
Then they all say they won't help me because they won't overrule a local
Beit Din.

 I'm lucky because my wife has a friend with a top notch Toain who flies
in to help us out, and may just save me from an unjustified cherem.  But
if I didn't have this powerful connection, I would have been destroyed
long ago.

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From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 13:18:14 -0400
Subject: Genetic Differences Among Jews

Ken Bloom <kabloom@...>

seeks to deny that converts were the cause of genetic differences between
various groups of Jews. He writes:

>To my knowledge, there is no significant genetic difference between the
>various races in America, despite the early intent of some to prove that
>blacks were inferior by demonstrating that they were genetically
>inferior.
>The biggest physical difference I can see between Sepharadim and
>Ashkenazim is that Sepharadim have darker skin, attributable as an
>adaptation to a warmer, sunnier climate (darker skin is more effective
>against sunburn and the cancers that can come with it.) (Rather, since
>we all came from Eretz Yisrael, it's more likely that Ashkenazim lost
>the darker skin because they weren't adapting against sunburn)

Certainly, (natural) skin color is genetically determined. Yet it seems
to be totally insignificant except as a marker for...skin color! And for
the clues it may yield regarding the mixing of populations.

It seems indisputable that group skin color differences have developed
as adaptations to different levels of solar energy incident at different
latitudes. But such adaptations take many thousands (probably tens of
thousands) of years to develop. Therefore, skin color differences among
Jews cannot be explained by a process of adaptation. It is too slow.

At the same time, both genetic and historical studies seem to reject the
idea that converts could account for the "Europeanization" of Ashkenazi
Jews. There is no history of such widespread conversion of European
population groups to Judaism. To the contrary, the severe pressure was
for out-conversion, or assimilation, rather than for in-conversion to
this widely persecuted group.

It is well to remember that there are other groups of Jews with even
more divergent skin colors: e.g.: those from the Indian and African
subcontinents. It is fair to say that Jews come in all flavors, and only
2000 years from the dispersion. How to explain this apparent dilemma?

It seems clear to me that wherever populations mix, genes mix. It
happens both voluntarily and involuntarily, the latter probably
historically more significant than we care to recognize or
accept. Geneticists are not sociologists and tend to lump genetic mixing
under the heading of ^”intermarriage^‘. Jews know that the rate of true
intermarriage in Europe was very low and almost always resulted in
departure from the Jewish community. Involuntary (or surreptitious)
mixing, however, would have flown well under the radar when it
occurred. This tends to homogenize populations at a much faster rate
than Darwinian adaptation ever could.

The Rabbis understood this reality very early on when they ruled that
maternal descent is to be the halachic standard for Judaism; a
recognition that apparent paternity is not a totally trustworthy state.

Of course, we are all too aware of the difficulties faced by the
formerly Indian and African Jewish groups in being accepted as
authentically Jewish by the Israeli Rabbinate, most of whom are,
ironically, "Europeanized" Jews themselves.

Coincidentally, a recent article in the New York Times reported that DNA
testing has started to reveal that perhaps 10% of American children are
not the biological children of their supposed fathers! And this in a
society in which involuntary sex mixing has been severely criminalized
and, I strongly suspect, much reduced in frequency compared to other
societies and other eras in history.

b'shalom--Bernie R.

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From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 09:18:03 +0100
Subject: Highjacking of language

on 10/8/04 2:37 am, Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...> wrote:

> I think that a good analogy from current western culture would be to
> the question of gay pride.  From an orthodox point of view, as I
> understand it, the gay pride ideology is beyond the pale.  Whatever we
> think of homosexual activity's halachic repercussions, an actively
> positive response to it -- as opposed to mere passive tolerance (which
> is, of course, a whole other issue) -- is not within halachic Judaism.

Thank G-d we have some contributors who are prepared to be politically
incorrect when the ethos of society is in opposition to halachic
Judaism. At one time, if I were feeling elated, I could describe my mood
as gay but now such self-description would invite some most unwelcome
attention. This highjacking of language to cover up unacceptable
activities is itself an unacceptable aspect of our modern society.

Martin Stern

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From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 22:29:48 +0200
Subject: Meshulach

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote:
>I was wondering whether the use of the term "meshulah" on MailJewish was
>intended to cover all these diverse types.  Or perhaps in the
>communities where our correspondents live, the collectors are indeed
>representatives of organized charitable institutions.
>Clarification would be appreciated.     

a) in Biblical Hebrew, the word "meshulach" denotes a person or object
that is in a sense, rejected, as in "sent away".  See Isaiah 27:10 and
Proverbs 29:15.
b) Hebrew of the Middle Ages, according to the latest edition of
Even-Shushan, has it in the sense of an emissary, more commonly one who
collects money.
c) the Aramaic Rabbinic term is "shlucha d'Rababan" - someone sent in
the name of Rabbis, and thus the abbreviation is Shadar.
d) to make it more complex, according to Jastrow, the root shadar in
Talmudic Aramaic is "to send", see Gittin 56A for one example.

Yisrael Medad

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From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 08:46:43 +0300
Subject: Re: Rabbinic violations for pre-barmitzva

 David Ziants <dziants@...> stated the following on Sun, 08
Aug 2004 00:03:04 +0300:

      My grandfather told me that as children in the East End of
      London, UK, they used to carry the chulent pot from the baker
      to home, as long as they were not yet bar-mitzva. This was
      without an eruv.

      this was in fact halachicly permitted because: a) The streets
      are a "karmelit" (= halachic "side streets") according to all
      opinions, thus carrying is here a Rabbinic prohibition.  b)
      It is permitted to enable a boy below bar-mitzva, or girl
      below bat-mitzva to do a Rabbinic prohibition, even
      l'hatchila (on the outset), for the needs of a mitzva - and
      in this case the mitzva is the Shabbat meal. The boy may be
      bar-mitzva (or girl bat-mitzva) the next day and it is fine.

However, there is a specific Torah prohibition regarding one's son
(Exodus 20:10), as we recite before Shabbat forenoon qiddush: "Do not
perform melakha on it, you, your son, . . . ."

In other words, it's one thing to tell someone else's son to violate the
Shabbat commandments, but something else again to tell your own son.

How do those you say permit this explain their permission?

IRA L. JACOBSON         
mailto:<laser@...>

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From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 05:38:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Rabbinic violations for pre-barmitzva

Could you supply the source (e.g. siman in Shulchan Aruch) that
interprets the above pasuk in the way you are doing so?

Avi

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From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 12:56:36 +0300
Subject: Re: Rabbinic violations for pre-barmitzva

I heard it form Hagaon Harav Yitzhaq Zilberstein many years ago (at
least 15).

Ira

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From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 23:21:46 -0400
Subject: Rabbinic violations for pre-barmitzva

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>

> My grandfather told me that as children in the East End of London, 
> UK, they used to carry the chulent pot from the baker to home, as long 
> as they were not yet bar-mitzva. This was without an eruv.
> ...
> At the time he told me this, when I was a teenager, I felt
> uncomfortable, because I felt it went against the principles of 
>  hinuch (education).

You should have left it at that since your initial reaction was correct.

> In later life, I was able to confirm, that this was in fact halachicly
> permitted because: a) The streets are a "karmelit" (=
> halachic "side streets") according to all opinions, thus carrying 
> is here a Rabbinic prohibition.  b) It is permitted to enable a boy 
> below bar-mitzva, or girl below bat-mitzva to do a Rabbinic prohibition,
> even l'hatchila (on the outset), for the needs of a mitzva - and in this
> case the mitzva is the Shabbat meal. The boy may be bar-mitzva (or girl
> bat-mitzva) the next day and it is fine.

No, this is incorrect.  Or, actually, it is the halacha with respect to
a nonJew.  For a child, the halacha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 343:1)
is that "it is not permitted to habituate him/her in chillul Shabbos,
even in matters that are only rabbinically forbidden.

The Mishna Berura gives an example of giving the minor a key to carry in
a carmelis; quite similar to your case.  Only if the person doing the
rabbinical melacha is a nonJew, AND it's for a mitzva (or public need or
kavod haberios) would it be permitted.

Gershon
<gershon.dubin@...>

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From: Jay Bailey <JayB@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 14:43:53 +0300
Subject: Relative Sociological Realities - at last

In saying that:

>  "It is precisely this notion that current sociological notions in
> Boro Park are Torah misinai, that one can not believe that it could be
> otherwise, that is problematic." 

Meir Shinnar has circled back to the initial point of this discussion. I
thank him for that, because I didn't want to repeat my to my original
post - that started this thread - where I posit that poskim centuries
back could never have discussed woman wearing pants, as they didn't
among general society. Looking for Rishonim here is like searching for a
pask from the Rambam on electricity - you just won't find a literal,
direct reference, only guidelines that need to be applied to a reality
he didn't know. (Please don't analyze that to death...it's an
illustration that can obviously be debated as to what he could have
imagined).

The irony, of course, is that just as Halacha used to be - before
telephones - somewhat localized, with various communities having
slightly different outcomes based on social, geographical, political
issues, etc., we have to consider that there is no simple "psak" here.
Perhaps it IS problematic *halachically* for a woman to walk around Mea
Shearim or Boro Park in pants, where it is, technically, perhaps
considered an ervah, whereas walking through Columbia's campus or
downtown Jerusalem, where there is an expectation to see a "mixed"
crowd, and most people don't get turned on by a pair of pants, is truly
different.

Jay Bailey
Efrat

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From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Tue,  10 Aug 2004 16:48 +0200
Subject: Re: Shiva for "Outmarriages" is based on Error

According to halacha (Yoreh Deah 340:5 in the Rema) there is no Aveilut
for a Mumar ["aval ragil la'asot aveira EIN mitablin alav; vechol
she'kein al mumar l'avodat kochavim] (see also mechaber in YD 340:5].

Josh Backon
<backon@...>

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From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 06:04:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: "Significant Other"

Without commenting on Martin Stern's main point, I'd just like to point
out that "SO" does not neccessarily mean a person one is living
with. I've heard the term applied to, for example, dating couples,
perhaps somewhat serious with each other, but not (yet) engaged. The
couple in question can be completely frum with no implication of any
sexual activity; thus, the term has no Politically Correct implications.

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End of Volume 44 Issue 11