Volume 46 Number 42
                    Produced: Fri Dec 31 13:10:10 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Cell Phone Ban (3)
         [Eli Turkel, Perets Mett, Avi Feldblum]
Checking Tephillin
         [A Liza]
         [Shmuel Carit]
Occams razor
         [Yehoshua Berkowitz]
Rabbinic Jurisdiction -- was:  Internet Ban
         [Carl Singer]
Smoking Ban (was Cell Phone Ban)
         [David Maslow]
Tefillin Squarness
         [Y. Askotzky]
Who is the Mother? (3)
         [Carl Singer, Josh Backon, David Charlap]


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 09:38:32 +0200
Subject: Re: Cell Phone Ban

According to statistics I recently saw about 1/3 of the Charedim in
Israel access the internet either from work or from internet cafes etc.
This is less than in other groups in society but far fro
negligible. Hence, these bans are not overly effective.

Eli Turkel

From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 11:17:12 +0000
Subject: Re: Cell Phone Ban

To suggest that the cell-phone/mobiler-phone/pelefon ban was (a)
instigated by an anonymous pressure group or (b) signed with forged
signatures is a travesty of what actually happened. the ban on the use
of cell phones by those whose full-time occupation is learning Torah was
promulgated at a public meeting. There can be no doubt that the rabonim
and rosh yeshivos who were present at the meeting meant what they
said. I have not heard any credible suggestion that those on the
platform were actually doubles of well-known gedoilim.

On a personal note, I actually have derived some benefit from the ban.
My son, who learns in the Mirrer Yeshivo in Yerusholayim, steadfastly
refuses to own a mobile phone. this has made it more complicated for us
to contact him - we need to leave a message with a friend who has a
pelefon to give him a message to call us.

With the pelefon ban the issue has been solved neatly. Since the Mirrer
students are no longer allowed to have cellphones, his 'flatmates' have
all agreed to have a landline installed.

Perets Mett

someone wrote:
> I am also puzzled, but apparently many people do believe they have
> that power.  There are certain rabbis that have very high stature.  In
> Israel how it works is when some group wants something banned, they
> write up a decree and go convince these rabbis to sign it.  Then the
> group goes and plasters signs all over the neighborhood (the high
> walls in Mea Shearim are perfect for this).  Lots of times there is
> confusion over whether the rabbis that appear on the poster actually
> signed it or not (good application for digital signatures).

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 12:38:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Cell Phone Ban

On Thu, 30 Dec 2004, Perets Mett wrote:

> The ban on the use of cell phones by those whose full-time occupation
> is learning Torah was promulgated at a public meeting.

Maybe I missed it in the earlier postings, but Perets's post above makes
it clear that the ban is fairly narrow in scope, and it sounds like the
target group was basically ones for whom the one's making the ban may
likely be clearly the appropriate Rabbanim to institute such a ban. It
is only those whose full time occupation is learning Torah, and for
those people, I would be inclined to agree, why should they have a
potential distraction of a cell phone on them.

Avi Feldblum


From: A Liza <aliza43@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 08:37:35 -0600
Subject: Checking Tephillin

Oops, sorry, I meant 4 faces (sides) of the bayis, not 6!  The top
obviously has to be square.  My point was that the bayis need not be a


From: Shmuel Carit <cshmuel@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 23:12:59 +0000
Subject: Davening

Apparently the davening is soooo very boring these days that the paper
mills are making a killing by printing all those shabbat parsha sheets.

My experience is that you walk into shul on shabbat and you simply must
take a healthy handful so you can read some great stories or a good vort
or the latest from R' Aviner or R' Rozen... etc etc

With all the Torah on the internet I know folks that print out reams of
stuff for shabbat shul reading.  (I know one guy that saves all his
mail-jewish for shabbat morning reading!)

Anything but focus on the davening.


From: <RYehoshua@...> (Yehoshua Berkowitz)
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 08:32:33 EST
Subject: Re: Occams razor

Russel Handel recently wrote:_"Recently several postings brought in
Occams razor--the idea that you take the simplest explanation that fits
the facts. Judaism rejects Occams razor as the following Talmudic story
clearly shows..... He also wrte that "Judaism rejects Occam's razor"

Respectfully I disagree. William of Occam (Franciscan trained theologian
of the 14th century) was talking about scientific proofs and
philosophical constructs, not making judgments about people's actions.

Would you say that Judaism disagrees that shortest distance between two
points is a straight line because you can cite a story where someone
walked a longer distance or put in greater effort and accomplished that
which someone taking the shorter road or took less effortless track was
unable to?

Scientific and philosophical principles need to be applied to the
subjects they were intended.Recently

Finally - again respectfully, but emphatically - one should be careful
about such grandiose statements that begin with the preamble "Judaism
rejects...."  Last time I checked no one has yet been given the right to
make such apodictic statements - for that kind of system you need to go
to another form of religious faith.

Yehoshua Berkowitz


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 06:09:16 -0500
Subject: Rabbinic Jurisdiction -- was:  Internet Ban

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Carl Singer wrote:
>> Not to be more disrespectful than usual -- but let's get back to
>> jurisdictional issues : If MY Rabbi tells me something then that's one
>> thing -- if another Rabbi makes a general statement to his "flock" --
>> what are the implications.
>If you're not a member of that "flock", there should be no impact
>whatsoever on you.
>Pirkei Avot says "asei l'cha rav" - "make for yourself a rabbi".  This
>means select one whose judgement you trust, and do what he says, not
>what others may tell you.
>On a more practical matter, there has not been a time since Moshe
>Rabbeinu where all of the gedolim in the world agreed with each other.

Exactly -- but the issue isn't only one of gedolim (or Rebbeium in
general) not agreeing with each other.  We now live in a world where
there are for the most part no community boundaries and few communities
with a shtut Rav or community Rabbi -- Communications  (same root as
community?) have exploded beyond such boundaries and thus we are
inundated with information including P'sak Halacha -- and need to know
how to filter.

Carl A. Singer


From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 10:44:19 -0500
Subject: Smoking Ban (was Cell Phone Ban)

In response to an inquiry by Richard Schultz (MJ 46:34) asking why many
rabbis refuse "to ban smoking, which, unlike the internet, has clearly
proven detrimental effects on the smoker's physical health," Tzvi Stein
replied (MJ 46:36) that "smoking is a perfect example of a case where
they realized that the people would not be able to follow the decree."

I know that stopping smoking is very difficult (although frum smokers
seem to be able to stop for 24-plus hours every week), but as someone
who has been involved with cancer research for almost 40 years, I also
know the harm that smoking causes.  If rabbis do not ban smoking
totally, why aren't they at least banning starting to smoke, where the
addictive effects of tobacco have not yet taken hold, and enforcing it
in Yeshivas and kollels.  I believe that was the position of some

It is about 40 years since the famous US Surgeon General's report that
first presented the dangers of smoking to the general public.  Had
rabbinic leadership been shown on this issue earlier, a generation or
two of smokers might have been prevented.  One need only spend a short
time in yeshivish areas in Israel to see the large number of young
smokers.  I would be interested in knowing the rationale of rabbis who
refuse to protest against smoking and its harmful effects, as mentioned
by Akiva Miller (MJ 46:38).

David E. Maslow


From: Y. Askotzky <sofer@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 09:06:29 +0200
Subject: Tefillin Squarness

>> The bayis does not need to be a cube, so the 6 faces of the bayis can
>> be and often are rectangles, not squares.
>AFIK this only applies to the sides, but the upper surface has to be
>square.  Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could comment.

The upper cube need not form an exact square however, the horizontal
sides must be square from top to bottom. Hence, if one side is 33mm
across, no matter where along the sides you measure it, then the other
side should be 33mms (Some leeway is allowed- as long as it appears
square.) The height, measured from top to bottom can be 36mms. [If the
sides of the upper cube are measured near the bottom and are 33mm and
near the top are more or less and form a / \ or \ / then if clearly
visible will make the bayis not kosher even though no matter at which
level of the height the sides are measured they are square.

Norman Lamm write:
> and the preservation of the shape is thanks to stiff plastic
> only recently come into use. Before then, tefillin could be expected to
> approximate a cube at best. Added to that is the fact that "Or Echad"
> batim have become widespread only recently, and expectation of such
> perfection in shape, while a very good thing, was not possible until
> recently.

Actually the plastic cases harldy help preserve the shape. They do help
protect the edges and corners but as most poeple will find they do not
fit snugly so are not really helping to maintain the general squareness.
The hydraulic press and proper care are what keeps the batim firmly in
their original shape.

The batim known as dakos, which have been around for centuries, are or
echad. The modern gasos batim, founded at the turn of the 20th century
are certainly a superior form of or echad, both halachically and in
quality and are thanks to technology.

kol tuv,

Yerachmiel Askotzky, certified sofer & examiner
<sofer@...>  www.stam.net  1-888-404-STAM(7826)  718-874-8220


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 06:42:15 -0500
Subject: Who is the Mother?

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
> The press has reported that in Richmond, Virginia, a 55-year-old woman
> acting as a surrogate for her daughter gave birth to triplets
> Tuesday. She had carried the babies for her oldest daughter, who suffers
> from endometriosis, a condition affecting the lining of the uterus that
> makes it difficult to become pregnant. The grandmother underwent
> test-tube fertilization. Three embryos were implanted and all three
> survived.
> Who, according to the Halacha, is the real mother?

Of great interest to me is what is the halachic process by which such
decisions will be made?  As science expands "capabilities" and
understanding we need to stay on top.

Let's complicate things -- let's say the surrogate was / was not Jewish
and the embryo donor was / was not Jewish.  What is the status of the

Carl Singer

From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  30 Dec 2004 16:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Who is the Mother?

The topc of surrogate mothers was discussed in the halachic journal
TECHUMIN (Volume 5). Very briefly: assuming that both the egg donor and
the one that delivered the baby are both Jewish, the "mother" is the one
that gave birth.

Josh Backon

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 12:00:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Who is the Mother?

First off, I would argue that it doesn't matter very much.

According to halacha, the status of the mother is only necessary for
determining if the child is Jewish.  For all other purposes
(inheritance, tribal affiliation, etc.), the identity of the father is
what's important.  I assume this is not in dispute WRT surrogate mother

This is why things like polygamy did not cause halachic problems (back
before the practice was banned, of course.)

The one "exception" to this I can think of is yibum (levirite marriage),
where the legal father of the child is not the biological father, but
the biological father's (deceased) brother.

Now, if the biological mother and the surrogate mother are not of the
same religion (one Jewish, one not), the situation would be come much
more problematic.

-- David


End of Volume 46 Issue 42