Volume 47 Number 50
                    Produced: Thu Apr  7  5:58:45 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beryl Wein history tapes
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Car Damage
         [Jack Gross]
Car damage (3)
         [Warren Burstein, W. Baker, Bernard Raab]
Changing Halacha (was Baseball games)
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
God's Bookkeepers
         [Dov Teichman]
Singer's Siddur
         [Carl Singer]


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2005 10:07:34 EDT
Subject: Beryl Wein history tapes

This is a follow up to the discussion about the historical accuracy of
Beryl Wein's tapes.  In one of his tapes he tells that the Chief Rabbi
of Rome, Rabbi Toaff, hid during the last two years of the war in the
Vatican, and came back to Rome synagogue after the war in 1945 demanding
his job back. The congregation would not reappoint him, and as a result
he returned to the Vatican and converted to Christianity.

The story is correct, but Beryl Wein inserted the wrong name into the
narrative. Rabbi Elio Toaff was not the chief Rabbi of Rome during the
war years, nor did he ever converted to Christianity. In fact Rabbi
Toaff was at the time the chief rabbi of Venice and served until 1952
and then was appointed to served the Jewish community of Rome, and
retired a few years ago after 50 years of service in Rome. He is now 90
years old and lives in Rome. The rabbi who did convert to Christianity
was Israel Zolli.

The last time I inquired about this tape, I heard that the tape with
this falsehood is still sold with Beryl Wein's tapes. I will not listen
to such tapes, nor ever recommend them to anyone else. This is beyond
inaccuracy, this is libelous.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2005 18:30:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Car Damage

> From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
> Here's an interesting shaila that came up with me.  My friend "Shimon"
> accidentally hit my car and damaged it.  He agreed to pay for the
> damage, but kept putting it off, despite my reminders from me.
> Eventually, my car was in a more serious accident (everyone is OK Baruch
> Hashem) that caused so much damage that the entire part of the car that
> was earlier damaged by Shimon needed to be replaced.  Insurance paid for
> that.  It turns out Shimon's damage ended up being repaired without me
> or the insurance company spending any more than we would have had Shimon
> not damaged the car.
> Does Shimon owe still owe me for the damage he caused?  Or does he
> benefit because he delayed paying me?

Shimon still owes you for the damage; later events have no effect on that.

But it looks like you owe the insurance company a refund to reflect the
redcued value of the part when the second accident occurred (regardless
of when and whether Shimon pays up).

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Tue, 05 Apr 2005 15:50:08 +0400
Subject: Re: Car damage

>From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
>I do.  But I'm not paskening.  Let's say this was coming out of your
>pocket and you hit someone's car and knew that the car had previous
>damage in the same location -- how would you feel about paying to
>restore it to new condition without sharing the cost.

Is "how yould you feel" a consideration in the halachot regarding damages?

From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2005 11:14:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Car damage

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> Does Shimon owe still owe me for the damage he caused?  Or does he
> benefit because he delayed paying me?
> I am neither lawyer nor scholar -- but (1) he still owes you and (2) you
> might want to give the $$ to tzedukah.
> On a related matter -- I imagine some might say that you had the
> opportunity to repair the damage whether or not Shimon reimbursed you
> AND to exact full payment from the insurance company is problematic
> (genayva?)

It seems to me that if your insurance company paid you for the total
damage of your car, valued AS IF it had not be damaged previously, you
should collect from Shimon and pay what you collect to the insurance
company.  In actuality the insurance paid full price for a damaged car.
Anyting else woudl actuall be cheating the company.

Wendy Baker

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 00:54:10 -0400
Subject: Car damage

>From: Carl Singer:
>Does Shimon owe still owe me for the damage he caused?  Or does he
>benefit because he delayed paying me?
>I am neither lawyer nor scholar -- but (1) he still owes you and (2) you
>might want to give the $$ to tzedukah.

You are right (1), but (2) the money is NOT yours to do with as you
wish.  That money really belongs to the insurance company. If you doubt
me just ask your insurance company. They will tell you the obvious
truth: The value of the fender that was already damaged was NOT the
value of an undamaged fender. Therefore, they are only responsible for
the value of the fender in the condition it was in before the accident
that they are paying for. Looked at another way, I am sure you will
agree that thay are only responsible to restore the fender to its
pre-accident condition even though they may refuse to do so. Of course,
they did not know of the previous accident, but it was your
responsibility to tell them about it.  If you do not and they find out
about it from another source, you can be sure they will ask you for the
money that Shimon owes you, whether or not he has already paid you. And
there is a good chance that they will cancel your policy, for witholding
important information. Insurance fraud is a serious thing and if they
wanted to get tough, they will press criminal charges as well.

Take my advice: Do not mess with an insurance company!

I am a little taken aback by many of the responses to this question. It
seems many listers feel that genayva is not genayva if the victim
doesn't know that he has been robbed!

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2005 07:43:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Changing Halacha (was Baseball games)

In MJ 47:45, Bernard Raab wrote:

> I would start by saying that the Gemara itself frequently inquires
> into the common practice in ancient Israel or the galut before
> deriving the halacha which supports this practice.


> The Torah prescribes that we hear the sound of the shofar on Rosh
> Hashana, but it does not describe in detail exactly how the shofar is
> to be sounded. Eventually, the Gemara derives textual justification
> for the sequence of sounds that are familiar to us, but only *after*
> establishing by extensive testimony exactly what the most common
> practice was in years gone by.

I'm not sure what "extensive testimony" is being invoked in the Gemara
there (Rosh HaShanah 33b-34a). The structure of the sugya is:

Mishnah: a teruah is equal to three yevavos.
Baraisa: a teruah is equal to three shevarim.
Abbaye, explaining the controversy: the Baraisa holds that a teruah is a
moaning sound [what we today call shevarim], while the Mishnah maintains
that it's a sobbing sound [teruah].

So far, no testimony on what was actually done in shul.

Next the Gemara turns to analyzing the verses from which we derive the
basic structure of the shofar blasts, tekiah-teruah [however that's
defined]-tekiah repeated three times. All of this discussion is in the
abstract, based on this analysis rather than on testimony of what was
actually done.

Finally, the sugya concludes with R' Abbahu's enactment that the various
definitions of teruah should be unified, and a discussion of how exactly
this was accomplished. Even here, except for the report of the original
takkanah, the rest of the discussion is based on logic rather than on
testimony: in response to challenges by other Amoraim, the Gemara
concludes that he must have performed all three possible forms of

So there may well be examples where the Gemara first establishes what
the common practice was and only then seeks its justification in the
sources, but this sugya is not at all an example of this.


> Here is another [change in halacha], driven by public pressure and
> practice:

> Some 30-40 years ago it was well-established halacha that visitors to
> Eretz Yisrael from chutz l'aretz must observe 2 days of yomtov. We
> know that this has been in the process of change over the last 20
> years or so, precisely following the scenario I described above.

But was it so well-established? There is at least one classic halachic
opinion - the Baal HaTanya, in his Shulchan Aruch (Mahadura Basra 1:8) -
that residents and visitors alike always follow the local rules. This
opinion is not only theoretical, but is followed in practice by Chabad
chassidim and perhaps others as well.

(In the first version of his Shulchan Aruch, sec. 496, he does
distinguish between one who comes to chutz la'aretz on a temporary basis
vs. one who plans to remain there. However, he also states (496:11) that
this doesn't necessarily apply in the other direction: there is indeed
an opinion that a chutznik who comes to Eretz Yisrael need observe only
one day of Yom Tov in all cases.)

So there is ample precedent for the current practice. This is hardly the
same as changing halachah to suit current fashions.

> Another such example was described in the pages of M-J some time ago,
> relating to the use of time clocks on Shabbat.  Initially this was
> widely forbidden by most rabbis.  Nevertheless, the practice grew
> rapidly. Finally, R. Moshe approved the practice for lights but not
> for air conditioners. But their use for air conditioners proceeded as
> well, until today I believe this is no longer an issue, even in the
> haredi community.

I didn't follow that discussion, but was this indeed "widely forbidden
by most rabbis"? A quick glance at Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasah 13:23
and notes there shows that this hetter goes back to the Maharam Schick,
and was subscribed to also by the Chazon Ish; it wasn't innovated by R'

Besides, those who forbade using such timers did so, as I understand it,
not because there would be any actual issur involved, but because of
mar'is ayin. Well, with time clocks having become increasingly common,
that reason falls away of its own (unlike cases of mar'is ayin which are
mentioned in the Gemara, which we lack the authority to permit even when
circumstances have changed).

Kol tuv,


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2005 09:19:12 EST
Subject: Re: God's Bookkeepers

Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...> writes:

<< there is NO ONE in our generation ore in the preceding generations
who has or has had enough of a direct link to God to be able to point to
any causal relationship between any specific act - no matter how heinous
it might be - and a specific punishment. This includes those who can
tell us why God killed the six million. To me, anyone who makes any such
type of claim - whether on the macro level of "explaining" the Shoah or
on the micro level of blaming a bus accident in Israel a few years ago
on the fact that stores in that city were open on Shabbat - is guilty of
no less than blasphemy. How DARE anyone be presumptuous enough to be
"God's bookkeeper"?>>

I would urge you to read the first page of the introduction to the
Satmarer Rebbe's sefer "Vayoel Moshe". Published in 1961.  He writes
that being that we have just experienced a Holocaust, and as with every
other tragedy in history, its causes and how to do teshuva must be
investigated. This is how the Jewish people have always approached
tragedies and disasters. Thus is the attitude of tanach (maybe
e.g. Jeremiah 9:11-13?) and the Talmud (maybe Nedarim 81a or Yuma 9a
that discuss the reasons for the destruction of the Temples?). He also
references R. Yosef Yaavetz the Sefardi who wrote about the sins that
caused the expulsion from Spain, as well as the Chavos Daas in his
commentary to Eicha who writes that the point is not to remember the
Churban, rather to remember its causes and do teshuva for them.  He then
goes on to state the reason he believes the holocaust happened:
Zionism. As predicted by the Talmud Kesubos 111a that by transgressing
the 3 oaths, Jewish flesh will be made prey as the deer and the antelope
in the forest.

Whether you agree with his reason or not, he does provide a strong case
toward that approach toward looking at tragedies.  I don't know how one
could tell a holocaust survivor that his entire family was gassed and
burned because of the Zionists. However, the Satmerer Rebbe held this
way and he certainly knew first hand of what the holocaust was all about
having been detained in Bergen-Belsen himself, and leading a community
made up of holocaust survivors. He knew the harsh implications of his

(And I have heard that R. Shach took a similar approach to the Satmarer
Rebbe regarding more recent tragedies that occurred in Israel.
Although, the Lubavitcher Rebbe I believe was very opposed to both of
them on this issue.)

Dov Teichman


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 05 Apr 2005 08:02:42 -0400
Subject: Singer's Siddur

I thought Singer's Siddur referred to the Tikon Meyer that I purchased
some 30 years ago :)

Seriously -- Since in many shuls it is not uncommon to see multiple
different siddurs there is the possibility of (especially) the shaliach
tzibbur using his own and thus deviating from the shul's "normal"
nussach / words.

Some shuls that I've been to have (1) an "official" siddur which they
provide to the shaliach tzibbur to use and (2) a (hopefully) short list
of comments / instructions such as, "The Chassan will say the Modim

I was wondering, in general, among the Mail Jewish readership -- how
concerned various shuls are about uniformity and keeping with their
specific nussach and what measures they take in that direction.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 47 Issue 50