Volume 45 Number 16
                    Produced: Tue Oct 12 22:29:26 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Chana Luntz]
Birth control (formerly "Unmarried girls")
         [Chana Luntz]
Bread labeling and cultural expectations - A wondrous tale
         [Elcya Weiss]


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 22:11:16 +0100
Subject: Re: Abortion

>on 3/10/04 4:27 am, Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
>> As to the question of an elective abortion, surely there are cases
>> where it is permitted, but not necessarily mandatory, for a woman to
>> have an abortion. I believe that the Tzitz Eliezer (Harav Eliezer
>> Waldenberg) is quite lenient in such matters.

And Martin Stern replied.
>I don't think this inference is correct. Certainly the Tzitz Eliezer 
>permits abortion in some cases which seem at first sight not to involve 
>danger to the mother's life or health such as where amniocentesis shows 
>that the baby will suffer from Tay-Sachs but he does so because the 
>distress caused might lead to suicidal tendencies. The fact that she 
>asked shows that this is a possibility since only the strongest of 
>women could contemplate seeing the inevitable suffering and slow death 
>of yet another child. However there are not many poskim who agree with 
>this rather wide interpretation of danger to the mother's life or 
>health, at least without corroborating psychological assessment.

The Tzitz Eliezer sets out a summary of the halacha on abortion in
cheleck 9, siman 51 perek 3 as follows (my translation - although the
Hebrew is not easy, and all errors in translation mine):

1) a ben noach merits the death penalty [neharog] for [killing] fetuses,
and there is an opinion that they do not merit the death penalty;

2) a Jew does not merit the death penalty for [killing] fetuses;

3) when there is a need [tzorech] the rule is that it is permitted to
arrange for a woman to abort and it is better that this is performed by
way of a Jewish doctor;

4) it is stricter regarding the performing of an abortion on a non-Jew
than on a Jew because they [ie the non-Jews] are commanded [ie forbidden
in the killing of] also on fetuses and one can be over on lifnei iver
when there is no other who is able also to perform the act.  But that
which is written it is forbidden is when there is not seen to be a
danger to the woman and likewise when there is a need to perform an
abortion on a non Jewish woman, one should be careful that this is done
by way of a Jewish doctor.

5) there are those who hold that even though a Jew does not merit the 
death penalty for killing fetuses, in any event there is an issur Torah 
to do this;

6) there are those who hold that even an issur Torah there is none, and 
there is only an issur d'rabbanan;

7) and there are also those who hold that even the issur d'rabbanan that 
there is is weak [kalush];

8) according to the hidden torah [kabbalah?] the issur of aborting a 
fetus is very strict;

9) when it is seen that there is a danger to the woman with continuing 
the pregnancy it is permitted to abort the fetus in the birth canal 

10) also when the situation is that the health of the woman is very weak 
and for the sake of healing her or quieting her great pain it is needed 
to perform an abortion on the fetus, even though there is no fundamental 
danger [sakana mamashit]; also there is place to permit this to be done 
according to the view of the decisor when he sees the situation which is 
before him;

11) and similarly there is to permit likewise when the woman is nursing 

12) a married woman who was unfaithful or was raped and conceived even 
from a non Jew where the offspring would not be a mamzer and she does 
teshuva,  with the support of many gedolei poskim it is permitted to 
abort either because of her embarressment or because of the chillul 
hashem and the stain [pagum] and embarrassment of the family [if not for 
other reasons and mentioned inside];

13) to perform an abortion prior to the expiry of 40 days of the 
pregnancy and also including before 3 months of the pregnancy it is much 
more makil than performing it after this and there is on this support to 
permit to perform an abortion prior to the expiry of the aforesaid when 
the fetus is no longer moving and also when there is a justifiable 
suspicion that the fetuses will be born defective [baal mum or baal 
isurim]; [Note however that in later teshuvos, eg in chelek 14, siman 
101, and 102, the Tzitz Eliezer allowed for the testing in certain 
circumstances for mongaloidism [Downs syndrome] and for the termination 
of pregnancies if mongoloidism was identified, even though the tests 
cannot be performed before the 3rd or 4th month, and in other teshuvas 
for other genetic diseases similarly by aminocentisis]

14) on the other hand to kill the offspring when the woman sits already 
on the birthing stool and the fetus has already uprooted itself to come 
out it is very serious because it has uprooted itself and there is no 
permission in this situation except in a case of definite danger to the 
mother [sakana shel mamash]

15) also in a place where the halacha gives to permit abortion in all 
cases you need to seek on this also the agreement of the husband because 
it is his money;

16) and so to repeat to perform an abortion by way of the medical system 
you may do a physical action [ma'ase b'yadaim];

17) a woman who is sick from a very dangerous sickness which makes her 
terminally ill and if the pregnancy is allowed to continue it will bring 
her death closer and the woman requests that they not make for her an 
abortion saying it does not matter to her if they bring her death closer 
so long as she leaves behind offspring there is place to be matir in 
this and not do anything [shev v'al ta'aseh];

18) all Jews are warned with a a great warning not to behave in a 
frivolous manner in terminating a pregnancy, and a great responsibility 
falls on both on the asker and the asked.  Besides that which is in this 
[a danger] because of the potential of a breaching of the  boundaries by 
the wanton who will behave immorally after them, but also because the 
people of the world limit themselves in this matter and make takanot and 
severe punishments on the [killing of] fetuses and on those who help 
this and Jews are to be holy.

To understand these matters further one really needs to read the teshuva
for which this is the summary and conclusion, as well as the subsequent
teshuvas published in his works.  He makes it clear in later teshuvas
that he does not support routine testing (eg for all women over 35) but
only if there is a reason to be concerned (eg the mother has had a Downs
syndrome child already) and that each case needs individually to be
asked to a posek who is on a level to posken [see chelek 14, siman 102).

And, as most people are aware, other poskim disagree with the Tzitz 
Eliezer, and hold differently.

Chana Luntz


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sat, 9 Oct 2004 22:57:11 +0100
Subject: Re: Birth control (formerly "Unmarried girls")

In message <m1CDx1o-000w2uC@...>, Martin Stern writes
>on 24/9/04 10:54 am, Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...> wrote:
>> Some couples do not want (or cannot support) children at that early
>> stage, and are taking steps (and yes, halakhically allowed) to prevent
>> pregnancy.
>I find the existence of such a hetter for newlyweds very difficult to 
>believe except where either the husband has children from a previous 
>marriage, in which case he has already fulfilled the basic mitsvah of 
>peru urevu, and the wife's life or health is endangered by pregnancy.
>If only the latter is true (and not a very short term condition) it is 
>highly doubtful if the husband would have been allowed to marry that 
>wife in the first place.

If this were correct then neither could a man who has not fulfilled the
mitzvah of pru urvu marry somebody who is post menopause.  But the Rema
holds (Even Haezer Siman 1, si'if 3) that today if a man comes who has
not fulfilled the mitzvah of pru u'rvu and comes to marry a woman who is
not capable of giving birth, like one who is barren or is elderly ...who
is not one of those who by law we must prevent ..  it has been the
custom for many generations not to get involved in matters of couples
[inyanei zugim] and even for a woman to whom one has been married ten
years and has not fulfilled the mitzvah of pru u'rvu it is not our
custom to force him to divorce and so with the other inyanei zugim where
there is no issur in the matter.  (See also the Rema in Even Hazer siman
154, si'if 10)

Regarding conception generally, and the issues surrounding it, see the
discussion in the Tzitz Eliezer chelek 9, siman 51, particularly chelek
4 for an overview of a very complicated area.

To give you a flavour of why there can be grounds for leniency, see 
Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer, siman 5, si'if 12  "a woman is permitted to 
drink a cup of sterilisation [kos shel ikrin] in order to make herself 
sterile so that she shall not bear children".  Note however the Bach's 
qualification on this and you can see why their might be scope for 
divergent views. However, even the Bach agrees that such a cup can be 
drunk due to fear of excessive tzar leda [pain in childbirth] which is a 
far cry from needing that "life or health is endangered in pregnancy".

Note also, however, that the discussion regarding a cup of sterilisation 
is very different from the discussion regarding the use of what the 
gemora terms a "moch", which seems to have been a form of barrier 
contraceptive [diaphragm?], and where the rules are much closer to those 
you describe above.

Thus many poskim hold that a contraceptive such as the pill, which is 
arguably like the cup of sterilisation of the gemora is a much more 
acceptable form of contraceptive (see eg the Tzitz Eliezer there).

One other advantage of the pill is that it is not permanent, which is 
arguably an additional grounds for leniency.

Take the following (hypothetical) case:

"Rabbi, Rabbi, I have met the girl of my dreams.  But she is refusing to 
marry me for three years because she wants to finish her degree, and she 
is scared that if we marry we will have children and she will not be 
able to do that".

My impression (although it can be only that, as one of the things about 
heterim in relation to contraception is that they are very personal to 
the couple and are often not widely publicised) is that in a case 
similar to the one described above, many rabbis will say, better marry 
her and use contraception for three years, confident that this couple 
will, in the fulness of time, almost certainly try and fulfil the 
mitzvah of pru u'rvu, but if such a heter is not given, then the 
stresses and strains of trying to keep a relationship going for three 
years without marriage will most likely lead either to greater averahs 
or to the couple splitting up and possibly not fulfilling the mitzvah 
for many many years (or both).

I also knew cases of men (particularly when I was living as a single in 
Manhattan, and parnassa was regarded as a much bigger deal in terms of 
shidduchim than it necessarily is in other places) who refused to date, 
even though time was marching on, until they had found a good job and 
felt they could support a family.  Again, a Rabbi dealing with such a 
young man might well be willing to give him a heter regarding post 
marriage contraception that would encourage him to at least date and try 
and meet his zivug, in the hope that either that job would come soon or 
at least, even if it took a while, it would just then be a matter of 
stopping contraception and attempting to fulfil the mitzvah, rather than 
the alternative, which would mean yet another older bochur on the 
singles scene with all those hurdles to overcome before the mitzvah is 
in sight.

>If she had not disclosed such a long term inability to bear children 
>then the marriage would probably never have been valid in the first 
>place (kiddushei ta'ut).

This is probably true (and the Tzitz Eliezer says as much in his summary 
on that chelek)..

Chana Luntz


From: Elcya Weiss <aviweiss@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2004 01:52:09 -0700
Subject: Bread labeling and cultural expectations - A wondrous tale

Moving to a new part of the country - any country - always poses the
challenge of exploring the available kosher food resources.

The question of dairy/non-dairy bread aside (Arnold's does not appear on
the shelves in our Pacific Northwest area), we were pleasantly surprised
to find one bakery's bread and several pita labels with what seemed to
be a hashgacha symbol. Standing in the aisle of the military commissary
on our first visit there, my husband called the bakery and was referred
to the Seattle rabbinical organization, which assured him that their
"Space Needle K" was appropriately appearing, along with the designation
of "parve" on label.

So much for bread. Meat, we figured, we'd have to bring from Seattle, at
least an hour's drive each way.

When we did go on an extended "kosher hunt" at one of the recommended
supermarkets in Seattle, we were surprised to see a stand of Wonder
Bread butted up against the otherwise so thoroughly labeled and
wide-ranging kosher section of packaged goods as well as frozen and
fresh chicken, meat, fish, and even a sit-down and take-out sandwich

The next time visiting the store, I asked one of the workers, who said
that in fact the Wonder Bread products - including hotdog and hamburger
rolls - are really quite popular. And, he agreed, this was an unusual
local phenomenon, made possible by the rabbis working with the local

Returning to our home store, I was pleasantly surprised that all the
Wonder Bread products I looked at (including sliced whole wheat Wonder
Bread - a contradiction in terms?) did in fact have the Space Needle K
and were marked Parve as well. Turns out, I had checked the labels of
just about every local bakery represented in the bread aisle......but
never once considered even picking up the Wonder Bread to look!

Will wonders never cease...

Elcya Weiss


End of Volume 45 Issue 16