Volume 45 Number 43
                    Produced: Mon Nov  1  5:30:55 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alzheimer's Progress Report
Corrections and Additions: Abortion and Mikvah
         [Chana Luntz]
Hillel - Chabad
         [Carl Singer]
Hillel Houses (2)
         [Mike Gerver, Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Anonymous
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 07:37:53
Subject: Alzheimer's Progress Report

        Some time ago, I mentioned that my wife has Alzheimer's disease.
This is a progress report dealing with issues faced by torah observant
people in this situation.

        Unexpectedly, a moral issue has arisen.  There is a concept in
Alzheimer's care called "therapuetic lying."  This refers to lies that
are deliberately told to the affected person to make him or her more
comfortable.  For example, a person may be found in a state of agitation
looking around the house for a relative who has died many years before.
The caregiver might tell the person that the relative is out shopping
and will be home soon.  In many cases, this brings some comfort and the
entire situation is forgotten rather quickly by the affected person.

        I discussed the question to telling lies under these
circumstances with a Rav that I trust.  He said that in many cases it
would be permissible to do this, but each case had to be decided on its
own merit, since it may be possible to avoid lying.  For example, one
night my wife told me that some sort of creature was living in the
basement and it came into the kitchen at times.  I simply said "I
haven't seen it," which made her feel better and which was literally

        Another issue is balancing my needs with hers.  Alzheimer's care
can be truly exhausting and frustrating, and there are times that I
break down.  The general advice is for the caregiver to look after their
own mental and physical health, since they cannot help the affected
person if they are ill.  Yet -- the Kotzker Rebbe said "you can, but you
don't want to" -- in other words -- we often tell ourselves we are
incapable of doing things we really can.  The Rav did not react
specifically to the Kotzker's words, but he did confirm that I need to
take time out for myself to preserve my health.

        I have also found that there are problems unique to torah
observant Jews.  For example: kashrus.  My wife is often alone in the
house, and she is usually unable to keep track of separating milk and
meat pots, dishes and cutlery.  In some cases, the situation is
repairable (I tell our friends that our house has "b'deved kashrus."),
but in other cases it is not, and there is significant expense involved
in replacing kitchen items periodically.

        Another problem is Taharas Hamishpacha.  My wife is past
menopause, so it is not a huge issue, but there are potential problems
with staining.  A friend and I have tried to remove all white underwear,
but she always seems to find more!  She would be incapable of doing a
bedikah if the need arose.

        Shabbos is a problem.  My wife forgets that it is Shabbos, and
often turns lights, appliances, heat or air conditioning on or off.  I
try putting tape over the switches, and have even begun putting signs
saying "Shabbos -- do not touch" on them in addition, but she merely
tears off the signs and tape and uses the switch anyway.  I know this
may seem illogical, but one of the effects of the disease is to decrease
the ability to think logically.

        Finally, let me say something positive.  I attended an
Alzheimer's caregiver support group last night, and most of the people
lamented the fact that they got virtually no support for children or
friends.  Our experience has been quite different.  Our children (who
live in other cities) call us constantly expressing concern and offering
help.  They come to our city as often as they can, and usually bring so
much food that our freezer is full of Shabbos and weekday meals.  In
addition, our shul and community have been extremely supportive.  People
have offered to cook for us, do our sewing, help in any way they can.
(I do have a difficulty accepting or asking for help, but I am working
on this.)

        All of this is an effect of Torah life and Torah education.  I
know we all have some problems with the "system" -- schools,
institutions and the like -- but Boruch HaShem we have so much more than
we often realize.  In society at large (I live in the US), people tend
to be insular, and my co-workers are surprised (but jealous) when I tell
them that our schools actually teach "chessed."

        We are indeed fortunate to be Torah Jews.


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 11:45:57 +0100
Subject: Corrections and Additions: Abortion and Mikvah

In a previous post I wrote: 

>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):

>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

A number of people have pointed out to me that this aspect of the
translation was in error.

I would note that the places where I was not sure I was translating the
Hebrew correctly, or not convinced I had the emphasis quite right, I put
in the Hebrew so people could make their own judgement.  This was one of
those cases, where I struggled with the word, and consulting my Hebrew
Dictionary led me to believe that "shufi" was a technical medical term
which I how I ended up with translation (based also on knowing the
discussions in the gemora and elsewhere about tearing a baby limb by
limb to save the mother and the circumstances in which that can occur).
However, the correct translation for the word would seem to be "without
any doubt or difficulty" so that this part should read:

9) when it is seen that there is a danger to the woman with continuing
the pregnancy it is permitted without difficulty to abort the fetus;

In my first post on Mikvah submitted on 21st June I wrote:

>But that kind of leniency does not generally extend to going on the
>seventh [day of the count]- ie while there are cases of leniency on the
>seventh brought in the literature, they are much much more restrictive
>(although I could imagine that the case brought on this list, of a
>woman trying to conceive, the mikvah in town being broken, it being
>before a three day yom tov, might well fit into that kind of category).
>However, the one further thing you should know is that Rabbanu Tam held
>that there was no problem l'chatchila going to the mikvah on the
>seventh day so long as by the time she got back to the house it would
>be dark.  While in general we do not hold that way, it may be that if
>there are particular circumstances ,and it can be done in a way that
>relies on this Rabbanu Tam, you might get a more lenient psak than you
>would if you are talking about going during the height of the day.

I wrote this in response to various posts on the list, but the last part
primarily in relation to somebody who had written (in vol 42 # 91):

>I was told by Rabbi Riskin, many years ago, that in case need (sh'at ha
>dhok), one can light candles early, but after plag hamincha, yet not
>accept shabbat, and tovel before shabbat begins, as long as husband and
>wife are not alone together before dark.

I confess that at the time I had never heard of a psak with the flavour
of leniency that this seems to suggest, although as indicated above I
could see where one might get to a leniency like this via Rabbanu Tam.
But experience has taught me that one has to be very wary of is of
jumping to conclusions that because one has not heard of a particular
position, especially a lenient position, it does not exist as a
legitimate position with on whom there is to rely.

And lo and behold, I was looking for something else and fell over
Iggeros Moshe Yoreh Deah chelek 3 siman 60 entitled "Tevila on erev
shabbas before night and when to return home" (note there is more on the
topic in siman 61).

Basically the thrust of the teshuva (as one can see from the title) was
not so much, should women go on the seventh day before night on erev
shabbas but when she should return home, ie should she delay returning
to make sure she gets back after night. Notwithstanding that, Rav Moshe
(not surprisingly given the source material) spends a fair bit of time
justifying the permissability to go on the seventh day at all, even if
we are talking about her getting back just in time to light candles (and
does indeed rely heavily on Rabbanu Tam, inter alia).

However not only does he allow it in situations of "ones" but Rav Moshe
holds that a woman can indeed return home to light candles so long as
her husband has gone off to shul shortly before candle lighting, since
once he has gone to shul there is no way he will return until after dark
and meet her (distinguishing, I confess it seems to me with some
difficulty, the Chatam Sofer).

And the categories of "ones" that Rav Moshe mentions include the fact
that she cannot toyvel that night because of difficulties travelling
back on shabbas and/or yom tov including "m'tzad hachashad" [because of
suspicion] even though this would not seem to be a problem if she merely
waited an extra day and went the following night.

What I find interesting about this teshuva, although it is it is hard to
put my finger on it exactly, but there is a flavour of leniency about
this psak that I generally have not seen in other sources regarding
going to mikvah on the seventh day, even close to night, almost an
assumption that it is a normal thing to go on a Friday night before
candle lighting on the seventh day because it is often difficult to go
later, and almost the sense that Rav Moshe is reconciling a certain
degree of prevailing custom with the sources.  Although when I try and
pinpoint exactly where it gives this flavour it is hard to say, because
he does talk in the main about "ones" which is usually understood to
mean when one really has no choice, ie a strong form of prevention from
performance.  It would be interesting to know more background to this
teshuva than what is stated.

So anyway, I thought it worth bringing to people's attention, because it
does give a different flavour on the question.

Shabbat Shalom


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 06:52:23 -0400
Subject: Hillel - Chabad

> The truth is that there were very few frum Jews going there .... but
> still the frum Jews who were there at the time should have been able
> to use Hillel as a resource and they weren't able to.  Frum students
> now have Chabad at least but at the time there wasn't a chabad house
> in the town.

Strange -- I find myself defending Hillel -- mostly on the basis that
they try hard under sometimes difficult circumstances in communities
with little Jewish presence.  You haven't experienced life until your
kosher meat gets shipped to you via Greyhound bus (arranged by Hillel.)

Each of us had (or MADE) different experiences at Hillel(s) -- was
Hillel like living at home or in a Yeshiva -- no!  Only one of the 4
schools that I attended had an Hillel director who was orthodox, but all
tried to be helpful.  One can't get a minyan when there are only 8 Jews
who show up.  A kosher kitchen can't function smoothly when 3 Jews who
use it keep kosher and 20 don't, etc.  I think it's more a reflection on
the school Jewish population.

Re: Chabad -- it no doubt varies from campus to campus -- but from my
one (only) experience with a campus Chabad, I would strongly suggest
checking out their drinking policy (more accurately their vodka
dispensing policy) prior to considering it a suitable resource.  I found
a Rebbe who thought it cool to drink and thought nothing of giving booze
to minors.  No doubt this is against some published policy, but it was
quite evident at this ONE location.

Carl Singer


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 06:37:41 EDT
Subject: Hillel Houses

Carl Singer writes, in v45n41,

      Nonetheless, there are plenty of Jewish couples who met at Hillel

My wife Debbie and I are one of them! (Berkeley Hillel, in 1973)

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 09:49:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Hillel Houses

> The problem with Hillel is that its supposed to be for all Jews.  It
> tends to be good about being for reform or conservative or renewal or
> non affiliated but it often ends up breaking down when it comes to Jews
> who are frum especially in schools with a very tiny frum population
> going (I'm not talking about Brooklyn College for example).

Having spent 10 years in various Hillel's, I have to disagree.  I was
the Orthodox minyan coordinator at MIT, where a small Jewish population
(5-6% of the students) and even smaller Orthodox community thrived.  I
also spent time at the University of Illinois (Urbana/Champaign) Hillel,
a school with a much larger but almost entirely unaffiliated Jewish
population, and felt very comfortable with the respect for my halachic
observance.  Here at BU hillel there is an Orthodox director, Rabbi
Pollack, who is very well respected in the Orthodox community.

Ultimately, each Hillel is only as good as its director, and there are
some bad apples (primarily on the west coast - but this is really an
endemic issue there).  However, I think that Hillel fulfills a holy need
to connect students to Jduaism at a time when they are most vulnerable
to other influences.  It also serves as an example-in-microcosm of how
Jewish community, unity, and tradition can flourish and intermingle
(e.g. where else would a Reform Jew see Orthodox observance up close),
and provides Jews an opportunity to meet other Jews in a world of
alarming numbers of singles (I met my wife at Hillel).

Richard Joel should not be embarrassed for having worked at Hillel ...
only, perhaps, for having left it.  Best,

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


End of Volume 45 Issue 43