Volume 47 Number 96
                    Produced: Fri May 20  5:06:58 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Can you live 7 days w/o potato chips
         [Carl Singer]
Insurance Query (Car Damage)
         [Chana Luntz]
Ov horachamim
         [Martin Stern]
Windows in Schule (5)
         [Martin Stern, Arie, Alex Heppenheimer, Eliezer Shemtov,
Yisrael Medad]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 07:00:24 -0400
Subject: Can you live 7 days w/o potato chips

>> ... Every year, a friend and I have a contest for the least-necessary
>> kosher l'Pesach food ...
>Aside from the fact that making things Kosher l'Pesach is expensive, why
>would unnecessary food products be more of an issue on Passover than at
>any other time of the year?
>I understand that Pesach brings its own requirements, but is there some
>special Pesach spirit of denial or asceticism that I should know about?

For better or worse there's a dominant emphasis on food during Pesach.
Some folks are apparently able to attach a bit of humor.

I've heard tell (without statistical proof) that in the not-yet
observant Jewish community that Passover is the most emphasized /
"observed" Holiday.

Carl Singer


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 23:55:47 +0100
Subject: Insurance Query (Car Damage)

Firstly,  I wrote:

 >For this it would seem we first need to assume that the rule found in 
 >Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat siman 379 si'if 12 applies.

Actually that should be siman 378 si'if 12.

In message <428212E6.5000804@...>, Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@bu.edu> 
>>  From a Jewish halachic point of view, is not the key thing that Reuven
>> and the Insurance Company have entered into a contract, under the local
>> law, and pursuant to dina d'malchusa dina, Reuven is then required to
>> keep his obligations under that contract?
>I think that there actually is a more complicated dimension to the problem.
>My understanding is that many insurance contracts do require you report
>all damage to the car, however most people do not.  As such, people who
>do report all damage are penalized (for example, I have heard of a case
>of a woman who did in fact report all damage, and after three such minor
>reports [under the deductible], the insurance cancelled her policy).

There seem three different approaches to this, all of which *might* end
up with the result that one does not have to report all damage.

a) The first is under the local law.  There is a concept in English law
(and I suspect in American law) which allows for contractual terms to be
overriden in various circumstances by conduct.  Obviously this is a
complicated area, but if you could show that the insurance company did
not in fact expect all damage to be reported, despite what the contract
said, and neither was that the general conduct, there may be grounds for
saying the contract has been varied by conduct.  It is easier if one can
show that the insurance company knew that damage was not being reported
and did nothing to enforce its rights (estoppal) but I suspect a
convincing case could be made that, even if the insurance company did
not know, the insurance company does not and would not want all damage
reported, as it would need to incur additional expense in its employees
logging calls, employing more employees etc, for little gain.  Of course
if under the local law one is not in fact contractually bound, despite
the wording of the contract, then one could not be said to be bound by
virtue of dina d'malchusa dina.

b) there are questions in halacha regarding whether a law that everybody
(including all the non Jews of the realm) ignores really falls into the
category of dina d'malchusa dina.  A stronger argument along similar
lines is that if the "king" is not makpid [particular] to enforce the
law, then it does not fall within the category of dina d'malchusa dina
( the distinction between the two cases is this.  Take the case of taxes
- even if everybody is actually cheating on their taxes, if the taxation
authorities try and catch whoever they can, and will prosecute if they
do catch somebody, then they can be said to be makpid on the law.  On
the other hand, if not only is everybody cheating on certain taxes, but
if the tax authorities found out about somebody, instead of making an
example of them, they would shrug their shoulders and say "well
everybody is doing it", then there is a stronger argument to say that
even though the tax is on the statute books it is not really a law that
fits within the category of dina d'malchusa dina).

c) there is a concept in halacha that minhag overrules [mevatel] halacha
in dinei mamonos [monetary matters] (although I am struggling to locate
the original source.  In my search over shabbas, the best I could come
up with is a reference to a Yerushalmi at the beginning of perek
hasocher (see the Sde Chemed chelek daled p90)).  This concept is
somewhat linked to the idea that dina d'malchusa dina prevails in terms
of shtaros [documents] and such (and arguably might be the source for
dina d'malchusa dina in this area, at least according to those who in
other ways limit the power of dina d'malchusa dina to taxes and things
in which the king has a benefit).  Given that this is true of general
halacha, might it not also be true of the idea that one is bound by
contractual obligations - ie if the minhag hamakom is that there is
small print that everybody ignores and is expected to ignore, this might
suggest that the minhag governing such contracts overrides the
obligation that would otherwise be in force to keep such contracts.

Again though, one would need to feel confident that the insurance
company bought into this minhag - ie it was what it genuinely expected
you to do.  The fact that it tends to cancel policies of anybody who in
fact did what the contract says is, I would have thought, be rather
suggestive of this. Insurance companies make money by having insurance
policies in place.  If they cancelled the policy of those people who
kept to the contract, that in theory would mean that they would have no
policies in place - hence it seems rather likely that in fact they do
not want people to do what the contract says that they should do.

There are also Chillul Hashem issues to consider - if the insurance
company discovered you did not disclose each and every bit of damage -
would it be a Chillul Hashem.  Yes if they genuinely expected you to do
this, but presumably No if in fact they don't really want all damage
reported and if it would be an additional and costly burden on them.  In
fact if you insisted on doing it in such circumstances, they might
rather regard you as something akin to a "chassid shoteh" and an
annoying one at that.  Of course, it would be much easier if people
always said what they really want in contracts -but unfortunately that
is often not the case.  In the area in which I work (banking and
finance) I can tell you that the contracts are often so tightly drawn
that it is commonplace for customers to not adhere to them.  And in fact
I have had some extraordinary sessions because one borrower client of
mine did try very hard to comply with the contract, despite having
hundreds of subsidiaries all over the world that were expected to comply
- and put a lot of resources into determining eg whether in fact the
financing arrangements in such companies breached the guarantee
provisions.  And when it kept coming back to the Banks for waivers for
this tiny guarantee in this obscure country and that tiny guarantee in
that obscure country, the Banks lawyers, the Agent and the syndicate
found it intensely frustrating, because they really didn't want to deal
with this at this level - and yet didn't want to waive the "customary
clauses" even though what this was making clear was that the customary
clauses didn't work very well for groups of this size, and the most
other groups of this size were probably ignoring many of the

Shavuah tov
Chana Luntz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 11:53:08 +0100
Subject: Ov horachamim

on 13/5/05 10:12 am, Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...> wrote:
> Martin Stern wrote:
>>> 1 the Shabbos before Shovuos
>>> 2 the Shabbos before Tisho b'Ov
>>> 3 after yizkor
>> This is the West German (Minhag HaRhinus in the Maharil's terminology),
>> not the East German or Polish, custom, except that the third occasion
>> does not occur since Yizkor is not said at all and is replaced by a
>> different custom called Matnat Yad.

> Only a minor addition:
> This seems to be not only Minneg Reines, but the general older Minneg
> Ashkenez. Yizker wasn't replaced by in the West by Matenes yad, but
> Matenes yad was replaced in the East by the innovation of Yizkor.

I think Lipman has misunderstood the English construction which I used:
'is replaced' signifies that Matnat Yad is said at the point in the
davenning when other communities say Yizkor as opposed to 'was replaced'
which would mean that Yizkor used to be said then but was dropped in
favour of Matnat Yad.

> Some Yekkishe communities, some formerly Yekkishe and some with a
> mixed clientele have indeed both, among them R' Breuer's after the
> Churben. Some Eastern German kehilles had introduced Yizker even
> before WW 2, but only on YK.

According to Goldschmidt's machzor for Yom Kippur, Yizkor is said
according to "Minhag Polen and many congregations with Minhag
Ashkenaz". I then checked in some old machzorim according to Minhag
Ashkenaz which I have and found that Heidenheim (1892 edition with
German translation) did not include it at all whereas Sachs (1858)
prints it without any comment as to whether it was universally adopted.

Matnat Yad is only said on the last days of the Regalim, when the phrase
appears in the Torah portion, and not on Yom Kippur at all.

On a related topic, a friend finished the 11 month saying of kaddish for
his mother on Shabbat but was one of the first people in shul on Sunday
morning when he no longer had to be on time to say the first one. As I
said to him, that was surely a greater zechut for his late mother than
all the kaddeishim.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 10:52:15 +0100
Subject: Windows in Schule

on 13/5/05 10:12 am, <engineered@...> wrote:
> A local Lubavitch rabbi does not allow the window shades to be raised
> during dovening.  He claims that it is forbidden by the Schulchan Aruch
> as a distraction.  I have not been able to find anything like that.  In
> fact, I have found one reference saying that a person can not build too
> close to the windows of a schule so as to block their light.  Can
> anybody shed any light on this subject?

The problem is not with the windows per se but with the possible
distraction during davenning of seeing what is going on outside. If they
had frosted glass this would not apply. Another possible problem, more
applicable at night, is that they may function as a mirror and people
may see their own reflection which might raise the problem of praying in
front of an image.

Martin Stern

From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 22:42:47 +0200
Subject: Re: Windows in Schule

i believe the problem in is the reflection. you aren't supposed to 
daven in front of a mirror. a window with the shade open, especially 
at night, acts like one.

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 06:40:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Windows in Schule

That is quite odd, because the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 90:4)
specifically states that there should be windows open in the direction
of Jerusalem, and that ideally a shul should have twelve windows. (The
Baal HaTanya, in his Shulchan Aruch, adds that it's better for there to
be windows on all sides of the shul rather than just on the side facing

Is it possible that in this particular case, whatever's outside the shul
windows would indeed be a distraction, or even something that one must
not see during davening (such as a cross, or immodestly dressed people)?

Kol tuv,

From: Eliezer Shemtov <shemtov@...>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 14:08:32 -0300
Subject: Windows in Schule

It probably depends on the height and position of the windows.

Windows generally have two functions: 1)Illumination and 2) visibility.

A shul should have (12) windows that illuminate the interior as well as
allow us to see the heavens, as this helps instill Yiras Shomayim.
(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 90:4, see Mogen Avrohom there as well as
Rashi Berachot 34, end of omud b)

You can well imagine that having windows at eye level facing the street,
however, can a have a totally opposite effect. See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
18:8 regarding the cautions one must take to not davven facing a wall
that has pictures hanging. (See Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim 90:23 and
Mogen Avrohom and Machatzis Hashekel there). ( I did not have time to do
exhaustive research into the reason: is it because of distraction or is
it because it looks like Avoda Zara. Whatever the reason for the above
halachah, closing the window shades on windows at eye level facing the
street during davening seems like a good idea.).

Eliezer Shemtov
Montevideo, Uruguay

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 13:26:06 +0200
Subject: Windows in Schule

a) ideally, the synagogue should be built at the highest location in
town so there should be no impediment as to light coming in or what one

b) openings should be easternly (funny, even the Rambam notes this
although one could think that what was meant was "facing towards

c) although the source escapes me at the moment, there is a
recommendation that 12 windows be built.

d) as for forbidding opening up shades, my guess is that it all depends
what one sees from the window.  an inappropriate scene, such as
washingwomen down be the stream, to borrow an actual example mentioned,
would preclude the raising of shades or blinds.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 47 Issue 96