Volume 48 Number 69
                    Produced: Tue Jun 28  5:04:10 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Baruch Dayan Emet - Nahum Sarna z"l
         [Evan Rock]
Chillul Shabbos Minimization
         [Bernard Raab]
Kavod Habriyos and Aivah
         [Mark Steiner]
Meaning of Ayin-Pay-Lamed
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [Irwin Weiss]
Phone and Tefila
         [Mike Gerver]
Tefillin Poster
         [Y. Askotzky]


From: Evan Rock <theevanrock@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 12:30:42 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Baruch Dayan Emet - Nahum Sarna z"l

The distinguished scholar Rabbi Nahum Sarna z"l halakh lolamo last
Thursday at his home in Boca Raton, Fla.  Professor Sarna did extensive
research on sepher Bereshit, sepher Shmot and sepher Tehillim.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2005 17:05:42 -0400
Subject: Chillul Shabbos Minimization

>From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
>Andy Goldfinger asked about which phone system would be preferable for a
>doctor to use on Shabbat to minimize chilul shabbat when using the
>Machon Tzomet in Alon Shevut has developed a "shabbat telephone" using
>the grama switch principle.  Our shul installed one for our MD's to use
>if they need to do so while present for davening on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

and from Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>:
>Speaking as an electrical engineer, assuming the computer doesn't have
>to be switched on (ie left on all Shabbat so VOIP is ready), I don't see
>any difference or preference.  Each one involves lifting the cradle (ie
>closing a switch) and sending touch tones to a computer which routes the
>call.  For the regular phone, the computer is the telephone exchange
>(called a "switch" in the industry).  For VOIP, it's servers on the
>Internet (which operate very similarly to a telephone exchange). And the
>same applies to a cell phone which uses a radio signal to get to the
>The best arrangement would be to install a Gramma-phone which causes the
>switch in the cradle to connect by indirect means.  These have been in
>use in hospitals in Israel, designed by the Institute for Science &
>Halacha (Machon Tzomet).

One of the great pleasures associated with Shabbat observance is the
disconnection from the telephone. May it never be declared completely
mutar. Nevertheless, some emergency use is required. Since the question
was raised by Andy Goldfinger as to whether any difference can be
perceived between traditional and VOIP telephony for emergency use on
Shabbat, some analysis is called for.

The assumption made by both Cohen and Mirsky, following many years of
halachic rulings, is that the major issue is in establishing the initial
connection. Once established via a Grama switch, apparently the
subsequent transmission of data over this connection is deemed to be
less troublesome. In a phone call, this data is generated by a voice
which is then digitized, transmitted, and restored to an audible signal
at the other end. Now, the transmission of digital data involves
electronic switching at enormously high rates. So we accept that
automatic electronic switching is acceptable. We also apparently accept
that inputting data manually, i.e., by pushing buttons to "dial" the
number is also acceptable, at least for emergency use.

What I have described above is digital telephony, the basis of VOIP. As
Mirsky points out, in VOIP the computer is on, and the circuit is
already established. In picking up the handset, you connect the keypad
to the computer, presumably via a Grama switch. And with
voice-recognition software, the entire connection and routing data can
be inputed vocally (Just say: "call the hospital"). The call is then
transmitted over the internet, sharing the network with all the other
users of the internet.  This method of transmission is very different
from traditional telephony, in which a unique circuit is established for
the duration of your call (even though some of it may be wirelessly
transmitted, as in a cellphone call). An analogy may be the difference
between calling for an elevator for your personal use, even using a
Grama switch, and getting onto an escalator which is in constant motion.

At the present time a VOIP call is a bit of a hybrid, which is why, in
general, it is not totally free: At the recipient end, at the present
time, the vocal data is reassembled at a local switching center which
then completes the call as a traditional analog call to any local
telephone. However, it seems clear that before too long, "everyone" will
have high-speed internet service in the home and in the office, and the
call will then be able to be completed as a computer-to-computer
connection totally over the internet.

When that time comes, although the difference may be totally invisible
to the user, it would seem that the use of VOIP may be preferable to
traditional telephony for emergency Shabbat calling. Comments?

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2005 23:57:27 +0300
Subject: RE: Kavod Habriyos and Aivah

I would just like to comment on one assertion by Chana, before setting
this subject to rest (my vacation is drawing to a close):

> this [demai] is no more than any other case where rov (the majority)
> is permitted under Torah law, bittel b'rov [nullification in the
> majority] is the standard d'orisa concept of bittel. Thus according to
> the usual rules of [Torah] halacha, bittel b'rov is permitted, and the
> extra rabbinic prohibitions should be just as much a special case (and
> why is this different from the rabbinic ban on chicken, which also
> from the Torah is permitted and is again enacted as a fence to prevent
> violation).  The fact that the rabbis enacted enactments in situations
> where d'orisa it was permitted, but there was a smaller than rov but
> presumably real risk would seem to be a commonplace.

Here are my comments:

(1) It is clear from the Mishnah and Talmud itself that Hazal limited
the gezera not to rely on the majority.  As I pointed out the gezera was
really against the Am Haaretz, and even excluded him from the zimmun.
We see that this gezera was enacted with exceptions built in.  This is
very clear.  Chicken with milk was rendered by Hazal an issur heftza.
And so is hametz she-avar alav hapesah.  No exceptions were built in.

(2) The gezera not to rely on a rov is a special kind of gezera in other
cases too, even when exceptions were not specified by Hazal.  Examples
are non-Jewish milk, cheese, etc., where most milk is from cows.  The
Hazon Ish states that the gezera here is "not to rely on the rov."  The
Hazon Ish adds that in the case where there is reliable government
supervision, the milk is permitted, since we didn't rely ONLY on the
rov, but took other precautions.  Same for cheese which is permitted
according to certain rishonim where we know that the rennet was
vegetable in origin.  Other derabbonons don't have this characteristic,
and remain forbidden even if conditions change (again the examples are
chicken cheeseburgers and unsold hametz).


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2005 22:04:30 -0400
Subject: RE: Meaning of Ayin-Pay-Lamed

Reading Rashi explaining the meaning of a rarely occuring root is a
tricky process.
Some pointers are needed.

1) One should always check that Rashis meaning is consistent with all
other occurrences of the word (In this case this is not true:
Eg. 2K05-24 where Rashi follows the aramaic translation who translates
it as something dark and hidden)

2) In 1Sam05-09 it means HEMORRHOIDS (more in line with hidden)(Though
there is a written vs a read text here)

3) Very often (not always) understanding can be obtained by looking at
other commentators (People usually DO NOT disagree on basic meaning..but
of course there are exceptions).

To make a long story short: This root only occurs 14 times in the Bible. 
- Radack, Ralbag, Ibn Ezra explain it to mean HIGH
- Radack explains that HIGH of HEART is Rashis' STRONG WILLED in Numbers
- Radack on 1Sam05-09 admits it means in HIDDEN places. 

If one glances thru the verses one sees Radacks point---in many verses
it refers to a HIGH FORTRESS.

My own opinion is that Ayin-Pay-Lamed refers to a THICK
CLOUD(Unfortunately there are no verses where it refers to a thick cloud
making this a difficult position to hold. But it does explain all
usages). Hence if OFEL means THICK CLOUD it can refer to 

- any high fortified place (like a thick cloud) (note both HIGH and
- any hard object is "like" something thick (Hence it refers to
- As to Nu14-09 I would simply translate it: They SWARMED UP THE
MOUNTAIN or they CLOUDED THE MOUNTAIN with troops (This paints a picture
of something spontaneous and not organized and is consistent with their
sins in which one moment they believed in God and one moment they were

The major emphasis in THICK CLOUD would be on the THICKNESS (Denoting
HARDNESS (not strength). There is also a secondary connotation of HIGH.

Note that the sister root Aleph-Pay-Lamed means thick darkness.
Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.rashiyomi.com/


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 07:10:39 -0400
Subject: Orthodox

Mike Gerver makes some accurate reflections on the term "Orthodox", as
it relates to who is Orthodox.

Mike states (vol 48, #66): "I think the word "Orthodox" isused even more
often in another sense, more sociological than halachic. In this sense,
someone is defined as "Orthodox" if and only if he follows certain
mitzvot, generally those which are conventionally considered "ritual,"
rather than those which are conventionally considered "ethical.""

There are 3 ways we define ourselves. 
1) Belonging:  To what shul do you belong, or, where do you prefer to
2)  Believing:   Do you believe that Torah (meaning Oral Law as well as
Written Law) was given at Sinai, or do you believe that some of these
writings were authored by humans who may have been divinely inspired?
3)  Behavior:  To what extent are you Shomrei Mitzvot? Do you keep kosher
both in your house and out? Do you keep Shabbat strictly? Attend the
Mikvah at appropriate times? Follow the ethical rules of our people?

So, as Mike notes, you can be Orthodox in one but not other facets.
25 years ago, when I got my first job as a lawyer, my boss belonged to an
Orthodox shul.  I grew up in a Conservative shul.  His favorite food was
lobster.  I had never seen one.

Irwin E. Weiss, Esq.


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2005 16:30:10 EDT
Subject: Phone and Tefila

Aharon Fischman asks about saying "Amen" to a bracha said over the
phone, specifically during a brit milah.

I don't know about brit milah, but I know that a number of years ago,
when my daughter Adina had a babysitting job right after Shabbat was
over and I knew she was going to have to leave the house before I got
home from shul, I asked a shayla about whether she should make havdalah
herself, and was told that she could listen to our havdalah over the
phone, and be yotzei.

I have also heard, somewhere, that one is supposed to say "Amen" to a
bracha heard over the radio. I assume this is only true for live radio,
and not if it was prerecorded, though maybe I'm wrong about that, and in
any case I don't see how it can hurt to say "Amen," unless it's
obviously a bracha said in vain.

I remember, in the 1975 film "Lies My Father Told Me," one of the actors
says various brachot using language like "Hashem Elokeinu," to avoid
making a real bracha, and then makes a real bracha "borei pri ha-gafen"
before drinking a cup of wine. From the fact that he was careful not to
make a real bracha in vain, it was clear that he really did drink the
wine after making the "borei ha-gafen," and I wondered whether I ought
to say "Amen," even though it was a film. I think I did say "Amen,"
since there seemed to be no reason not to.

In contrast, in "Hester Street," which came out about the same time, one
of the actors makes a bracha that was evidently not real, although, in a
misguided effort to be realistic, he uses the actual words of a bracha,
making it a bracha in vain. The fact that a supposedly frum character
was making a bracha in vain (even though in the context of the story it
was valid bracha), actually made it harder for me to take the role he
was playing seriously. Ironically, his acting would have seemed more
realistic if, like the actor in "Lies My Father Told Me," he had said
"Hashem Elokeinu."

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Y. Askotzky <sofer@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 12:41:25 +0200
Subject: Tefillin Poster

In addition, you can see how to adjust your tefillin shel rosh on my
website at http://stam.net/adjusting_head_tefillin.html
and proper tefillin placement of arm and head tefillin at
A full color professional quality poster of proper tefillin placement is
available to shuls, schools, etc. free of charge. Please e-mail me for

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


End of Volume 48 Issue 69