Volume 44 Number 84
                    Produced: Mon Sep 20  6:53:13 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ain't gonna work on Saturday (4)
         [Ken Bloom, Ari Trachtenberg, Martin Stern, Martin Stern]
Speckled sticks and sheep
         [David Charlap]
Teaching Evolution or Abortion
         [Frank Silbermann]
"Work" and Employment on Shabbos
         [Benschar, Tal S.]
         [N Miller]
Yochanan B. Zakkai
         [Robert Israel]


From: Ken Bloom <kabloom@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 08:29:44 -0700
Subject: Re: Ain't gonna work on Saturday

[Refering to several examples of "regular work" that was proposed could
be done on Shabbat. Mod]

While the the situation you describe could probably be performed without
performing a melacha d'orita, performing that job would still be
violating several rabbinic ordinances, possibly including dabair davar,
and performing business transactions (prohibited out of the possibility
writing them down).

Ketiva v'Chatima tova l'shana tova u'metuka.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 10:05:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Ain't gonna work on Saturday

 >From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
 > Thus payment is for the whole 'job' which has a shabbat component. If
 > the baal koreh prepares to read a parsha and does not actually lein,
 > he has not completed his agreed 'job' and cannot expect to be paid.

This is an amazing statement if supported by modern halachic
authorities.  It seems to be suggesting (among other things) that I can
do work for my regular job on Shabbat (e.g. unwritten editing of client
work, background reading, oral counseling of clients, etc.)  as long as
I'm not doing melachah [halachicly-defined work]... something that
seems, at the very least, to be strongly against the spirit of the day.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 15:30:51 +0100
Subject: Re: Ain't gonna work on Saturday

on 14/9/04 3:05 pm, Ari Trachtenberg at <trachten@...> wrote:
[See above. Mod]

This is a complete misunderstanding of what I wrote that payment for
non-melachah on shabbat is only allowed when included in the payment for
that which was done during the week. However the converse,
non-completion of the 'job' as when the baal koreh does not actually
lehen, could vitiate his entitlement to payment for the preparation as
well. I also wrote that the sort of activity Ari mentions "is in no way
similar to the ones under discussion since it would involve, at the very
least, the rabbinic prohibition of discussing business affairs on
shabbat even if it did not lead to the Torah melachah of writing".

I am sure I am not alone in finding it rather irritating if those passing
comment on other people's submission do not take the trouble to read them

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 20:53:05 +0100
Subject: Re: Ain't gonna work on Saturday

on 14/9/04 10:31 am, I wrote:

> Daniel's example of a financial adviser whose client wished to meet
> him on shabbat to discuss investments is in no way similar to the ones
> under discussion since it would involve, at the very least, the
> rabbinic prohibition of discussing business affairs on shabbat even if
> it did not lead to the Torah melachah of writing.

>From various off-line messages, it is apparent that some people did not
understand the distinction I was making, thinking that, for example, a
baal korei is in effect discussing business when he lehens on shabbat.

First klei kodesh are primarily involved in a mitsvah activity as
opposed to business. Strictly speaking they should not be paid for it
even on weekdays.  That is why it is not classified as business
activity. What they get paid for is skhar batalah, to make up for what
they could earn if they did not spend their time on this 'communal'

This is quite apart from the rabbinic prohibition of skhar shabbat,
being paid for anything done on shabbat. This prohibition only applies
where the payment is only for the (permitted) act done on shabbat but
does not apply where payment includes weekday activity as well. That was
the way Chazal set up this prohibition.

Caterers and babysitters are a bit more borderline but I suppose their
activity is considered a mitsvah in helping generate oneg shabbat.

One is not allowed to talk about mundane affairs on shabbat because of
the rabbinic prohibition of dabeir davar which would include any
conversation relating to one's weekday occupation or commercial
activity. That might include discussing stock market activity or even
saying something like "I wonder what has happened to X, he usually pays
his bills on time". Since kriat hatorah etc. is not considered a mundane
activity, this prohibition does not apply.

Finally, there is also the rabbinic prohibition of hachanah, preparation
on shabbat for weekdays. Daniel's example basically involves
preparations for later completion and, perhaps, that is another reason
why it is not at all similar to the ones under discussion, which are
prepared on a weekday and 'completed' on shabbat.

This completion, even if it is in itself not 'paid employment', is what
triggers the right to remuneration for the whole 'job', so a baal korei
who does not lehen cannot claim payment for his time in preparation.

I hope that makes clearer what I was trying to say.

Martin Stern


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 10:27:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Speckled sticks and sheep

N Miller wrote:
> The recent contributions by Mike Gerver and Josh Backon are fascinating
> and--to this scientific ignoramus--convincing. But I ask myself: does
> anyone on this list truly believe that Yankev Ovinu in fact knew about
> recessive genes or epigenetic manipulation? And if not, why the
> exercise?

Why would he have to know about geneitcs to make this work.

Someone who grew up herding animals may very well know - through
personal experience - that putting certain kinds of wood in the water
trough produces certain effects in the sheep that drink from there.

You need to understand the science to know why it happens.  You don't
need to understand the science to make use of the phenomenon.

You use a computer, but you probably don't understand the extremely
complicated physics that is required to understand what is happening
inside its chips - you make use of it without completely understanding

So why would you think that Yaakov couldn't use a biological phenomenon
without understanding the details of what goes on inside a sheep's

And why would you assume that someone trying to scientifically figure
out the mechanism is trying to replace his faith with it?  Some of us
(myself included) take great pleasure in discovering how God's miracles
are consistent with nature.  I study both science and Torah in my spare
time, and I find that the more I learn, the more "contradictions" end up
resolved as not actually contradictory.

> For what it's worth, I hold with the by-now dated idea that faith and
> science exist in parallel universes. Neither has the slightest bearing
> on the other. We are free to move back and forth between the two but we
> try in vain to make the two worlds one, to resolve contradictions. I on
> the other hand cherish contradiction: to be able to believe that the
> Torah was written by Moses and at the same time to see it as a document
> probably written and edited by many hands. That's _my_ way of resolving
> cognitive dissonance.

You are, of course, free to hold that opinion, but I personally could
not believe in something that required me to completely divorce my faith
from my observations of the rest of the world.

The fact that the events in the Torah can be explained scientifically
(even if they can't always be reproduced) is something that
distinguishes Judaism from other religions.  It makes our holy books
more than a collection of fictional stories.  It makes Judaism something
you can practice without the need to resort to blind faith.

-- David


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 05:49:37 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Teaching Evolution or Abortion

Yitzchok  Kahn <mi_kahn@...> V44 N78:
> I am becoming a NYC public high school history/social studies teacher.
> I am wondering how I am supposed to deal with the issue of teaching the
> evolutionary origins of man, which to me are kfirah.

Just state the facts.  Everyone agrees that the world seems to _appear_
to be very old, developed via punctuated evolution, and that all medical
studies yield results which are consistent with that theory.  Whether
this happened by chance, by Intelligent Direction, or whether G-d chose
a few thousand years ago to create the universe to have such an
appearance is a matter of faith and is not subject to proof or disproof.

> How do I teach abortion?

What do the textbooks say?  I suppose you could just give the technical
details of the procedures, with large glossy color photographs.  :-)

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>


From: Benschar, Tal S. <tbenschar@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 12:17:09 -0400
Subject: "Work" and Employment on Shabbos

Carl Singer is correct that there is a distinction between "work" in the
sense of doing melacha and "work" in the sense of employment on shabbos.

Melacha is forbidden min ha Torah.  There are also many activities
which, for a variety of reasons, are prohibited miderabban, either
because they look like a melacha, or may lead to one.

There are many activities which are permitted which one could do for
renumeration.  There is a separate rabbinic prohibition of doing
anything for renumeration, even if the activity itself is permitted.
This is part of the rabbinic prohibition of doing business on shabbos.

However one may do these activities for renumeration if the payment is
"behavla'ah" which loosely translated means the payment also includes
payment for work performed on a weekday.  To use the caterer as an
example, when one hires a caterer to serve a kiddush in shul, the
payment is inclusive of pre-Shabbos work (shopping for food, cooking the
food, etc.) and work on Shabbos (setting up the tables and platters of
foods, serving them, etc.)  I believe this heter applies even as a
"trick" i.e. even where one would not normally include payment for other
work.  (For example, I once heard from a prominent rav that he advised
the baby sitters hired to watch children on Yomim Noraim in shul to
spend some time prior to Yom Tov organizing games for the children.
They would then be paid for all their efforts both pre-Yom Tov and on
Yom Tov).

I do not know any sources regarding what happens if the person performs
the weekday work but not the Shabbos work (i.e. fails to show up on
Shabbos), but it seems to me that since the payment is "inclusive" of
both types of work, one cannot demand payment unless he renders all the

Tal Benschar
Clifton, New Jersey


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 11:14:02 -0400
Subject: Yiddish

Ben Katz writes: "Jews who lived in Germany obviously spoke a Germanic
Yiddish; they did not have an inferiority complex".

 As to the first part, certainly; as to the second--let's just say that
it's a very large subject with a very large literature. The essay by
Isaiah Berlin on Moses Hess (in _Against the Current_) is particularly

While I'm up, may I suggest that a good place for discussing Yiddish is
_Mendele_, a list dedicated to Yiddish language and literature. Many M-J
subscribers already belong. I suggest this not on the grounds of
Mendele's khazoke but because a larger number of experts (all
Yiddishists are experts) are more likely to yield a, well, more expert

 Write to: <listproc@...>

 In the body write: sub mendele yourfirstname yourlastname

I wish everyone as well an oysgebentsht yor.

Noyekh Miller


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 12:16:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Yochanan B. Zakkai

It seems to me there may be another dimension to the story.  Rabban
Yochanan ben Zakkai was one of the main Torah leaders of the time
leading up to the war with Rome and the destruction of the temple and
Jerusalem, one of the worst catastrophes in Jewish history.  Whether you
want to use the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza or Josephus's account of
the political events of the time to explain how this happened, ben
Zakkai must have had some involvement.  So besides the detail of whether
he could have asked Vespasian for more, there's the wider question of
whether he, as a leader, would bear some guilt for not preventing the
destruction one way or another.  In that context, it may be significant
that in his last words he seemed to have a vision of King Hezekiah.
Hezekiah, after all, was king of Judah in the time of another huge
catastrophe, the loss of the northern kingdom of Israel and the exile of
its inhabitants.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia            Vancouver, BC, Canada


End of Volume 44 Issue 84