Volume 48 Number 73
                    Produced: Wed Jun 29  5:48:56 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Amen to recorded Brachot
         [Eli Turkel]
High-Interest Loans
         [Carl A. Singer]
         [Carl A. Singer]
Lo Tachmod (Don't Covet)
         [Mark Symons]
Minimzation of Chillul Shabbos
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Mishaic Hebrew
         [Gershon Dubin]
Phone systems
         [David Charlap]
V'yitkadash vs V'yitkadesh
         [Mark Symons]
A way for a cohen to enter a cemetery (2)
         [Jack Gross, Gershon Dubin]


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 15:29:24 +0300
Subject: Re: Amen to recorded Brachot

> Rabbi Zelig Epstein (Rosh Yeshiva, Shaar Hatorah, Queens), probably one
> of the senior Rosh Yeshivos in the US today, has ruled that one answers
> amen to brachos on videos.
> I learned this from the disconcerting vision of people from Kew Gardens
> watching their wedding video and answering all the brachos!

I heard from R. Avraham Yosef that one recites Amen but only if the
person hears the beracha live (or with a minimal time lag). It makes
little sense to say Amen to beracha that was said days or week or even
years ago.

Eli Turkel


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 06:49:32 -0400
Subject: High-Interest Loans

> The original query concerned whether such loans were permissible or not.
> I would assume halakhically that ribis is ribis, whether it is a large
> amount or a small amount.  The actual rate should not matter.
> But more my point is the perception some posters have voiced that such
> loans are "predatory."  I worked in the "B/C" mortgage business for
> close to 10 years.  The customers for such high rate mortgages could not
> borrow money from a bank for the prevailing rate (maybe 5 or 6%) for
> various reasons, e.g. poor credit history, inability to prove income,
> [snip]
> Bill Bernstein

Going back to the original post -- the "offer" was made only to those
who were (thought to be) in default of their real estate tax and thus
facing sheriff's auction -- so perhaps it falls under the rubric of
putting a stumbling block in front of a blind man.  I found when my
mortgage company shorted my quarterly tax payment by $75 (they took out
the veteran's "bonus" in the wrong quarter) and thus got me onto a list
of tax delinquents -- I received lots and lots of letters from strangers
who were going to "help me."  BTW -- in our town if you pay too much,
the city computer "bounces" your check -- doesn't know what to do with
it and you are, again, listed as delinquent.

High interest loans, per se, have economic value to those who need them.
The risk of pay back and value of the collateral, if any, and the market
help determine rates.



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 07:14:49 -0400
Subject: Lakewood

> 'Forced' is a pretty strong word.  Is there any historical evidence to
> support it?  Were/are Jewish money-lenders also 'forced' to adopt
> 'predatory' practices, such as those prevalent in Lakewood?

My posting (not the above) mentioned Lakewood (NJ) as a strong clue,
along with the lender's name that the loan offer came from a Jew --
which was the relevant point to the question.

It's interesting to me that a subsequent poster generalized.  The
following has nothing to do with geography -- but consider this.

When there are people who are strong and need work they may gravitate
toward jobs where they can lever their strength.

Similarly, when you have people who are intelligent and analytical
(yeshiva) but have no marketable skills (college degrees, etc.) they
gravitate into fields that leverage those assets.  Most do so above
board -- others do what I would call "finding an angle" -- perhaps the
word conniving is appropriate.  Quick example, a friend of mine [A]
needed work done that required specialized industrial tools -- an
acquaintance [B], suggested that he [A] could avoid the contractor who
was going to do the work (and had explained the process, sketched out a
plan, provided a detailed bid, etc.) and, instead, go to the tool
manufacturer and say he [A] wanted to go into this business and use that
ruse to get access to such a tool in order to do it himself.

In discussing this with [A] I raised two issues -- (1) it wasn't the
tool but the craftsman -- so from an engineering standpoint this was a
dumb idea and (2) if [B] "worked an angle" to exclude (and disadvantage)
the contractor, Going forward be careful in dealings with [B] because
sooner or later he'd do something to disadvantage you.  Basically,
concluding that this person with no real marketable skills keeps working
angles to make a living.

The fact that [B] is "frum" and presumably lives by halacha is troubling
at best.

Carl Singer


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 23:02:14 +1000
Subject: Lo Tachmod (Don't Covet)

Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote

> I always thought that lo tachmod was not wanting a specific object THAT
> BELONGED TO SOMEONE ELSE.  I am allowed to want a beautiful chanukiyah
> for example, or even a beautiful wife.  I just can't want YOUR
> chanukiyah or YOUR wife.

But presumably I am allowed to want a chanukiya JUST LIKE YOURS. It
would seem to me that very few people would want YOUR chanukiya rather
than one just like yours. And in that case, wouldn't they be wanting it
JUST BECAUSE IT'S YOURS? (or maybe it is things that have an inherent
uniqueness - as is the case with wives - that the command is referring

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 08:43:18 -0400
Subject: Minimzation of Chillul Shabbos

In discussing my question of VOIP vs POTS (Plain Old Telephone System)
use on Shabbos, Bernie Raab points out that the "computerized" part of
either system uses extremely high speed switches to digitize and
manipulate the data.

This is, indeed, the terminology that is used in the industry.  Indeed,
a telephone routing system is called a "switch."  However, from a
halachic (Jewish legal) viewpoint, I think we must distinguishe between
mechanical and electronic switches.

Mechanical switches (such as those in computer keyboards, telephone
"cradles," or magnetic-mechanical relays actually establish (make) or
break an electrical circuit.  I believe that the Chazon Ish regarded
this as a signficant halachic factor.

Electronic switches act differently.  They are actually transistors of
various types (FET's, bipolar, or some other more modern variety -- I am
too old to keep track of this).  When a transistor is used as a
"switch," what actually happens is that the resistance of the current
path through the transistor is changed from very high to very low or
vice versa.  No circuit is made or broken.  In fact, the difference in
resistance values is so large that for all practical purposes the
current in question is "switched" on or off, but halachically the
situation might be more benign.  It would take a knowledgeable posek
(halachic expert) to deal with this -- which I ain't.  However, is
communicaing these questions to poskim I think we should be careful to
distinguish the mechanical and electronic cases.

-- Andy Goldfinger


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 14:24:06 GMT
Subject: Mishaic Hebrew

<<The word biryah in MH is the SAME WORD as bri'ah in BH.>>

And biryah in BH is....a pancake (Shemuel II 13:7) <g>



From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 10:42:38 -0400
Subject: Phone systems

Bernard Raab wrote:
> ... 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. 
> ... 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).

Actually, there is no difference.

The physical phones in your house connect to a digital switch in the
phone company's central office.  This switch digitizes the audio and
transmits the packets using a variety of all-digital switching
technology, ome of which might even be VOIP.

Cell phones are also digitally-switched.  If you're in a rural area
where you can only connect via AMPS (the older analog cell-phone
standard), then your call will be digitized at the first receiving tower
your call reaches.  If you have any kind of modern cell phone, then
you're dealing with digital signals straight from the handset.

The days of people (or mechanical relays) physically connecting wires to
establish phone calls ended decades ago.  There is no place in the US
where this is done today, except perhaps as a museum exhibit.  Although
I don't have actual numbers, I am fairly certain that there are very few
nations in the world that still use this kind of antiquated equipment,
since modern digital equipment costs less and is more reliable.

> 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.

At the point where the VOIP carrier connects the call to the traditional
voice network, it is still a digital-to-digital connection.  The
digitized audio is unwrapped from the IP packets and is injected into
the next-hop-carrier's digital network (probably using B-ISDN
protocols).  The signal doesn't actually become analog until the very
last link (from the recipient's central office to his physical phone

Don't confuse the billing model with what actually happens in the network.

> 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?

That time has already come.  The phone network is already all-digital,
whether the bits are carried via IP protocol, B-ISDN, ATM or any of the
other technologies that phone companies use today.

Unless you want to argue that the presence of the analog-digital
converter in your home (instead of in the phone company's central
office) has some halachic significance, it shouldn't matter what kind of
phone service you subscribe to.

-- David


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 23:52:09 +1000
Subject: V'yitkadash vs V'yitkadesh

I seem to recall hearing/reading (I can't remember where) that, although
it sounds like it, the Aramaic grammatical form yitkadash is not the
equivalent of the Hebrew hitpa'el (reflexive) form yitkadesh (which much
of the discussion so far on MJ has seemed to imply/assume) - but is
rather the equivalent of the Hebrew nif'al (passive) form YIKKADESH
(paralleling the phrase in Leviticus v'nikdashti b'toch b'nei yisrael -
I will be sanctified amongst the children of Israel) - I think the
Aramaic form is called something like nitpaa'l. So that saying yitkadash
or yitkadesh would give a subtle change of meaning - ie yitkadash
(Aramaic) would mean may He be sanctified (by others), whereas yitkadesh
(Hebrew) would mean may He sanctify himself (whatever that difference
really means!)

Have others heard this?

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 21:35:36 -0400
Subject: Re: A way for a cohen to enter a cemetery

> From: Moshe Bach <moshe.bach@...>
> Hi.  Israel TV broadcast a program on Chabad last week.  During the
> program, they showed a way for a cohen to go into a cemetery without
> becoming tamei - ritually impure - other people encircled the cohen and
> held hands to form a human wall against the tum'ah.
> Can anyone bring sources to support this procedure?

1. A kever -- most of the area throughout a bais kevaros -- is metammei
those who are situated vertically above it.  So how would the people
forming the circle around the cohen constitute a barrier between the him
and the kever on which he stands?

2. Whatever is susceptible to kabbalas tum'a (e.g., you and I) does not
constitute a barrier, so even if he were to stand on the back of a
person crawling on all fours it would afford no protection.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 14:32:26 GMT
Subject: A way for a cohen to enter a cemetery

Orach Chaim 326:5-7
AFAIK, only Chabad relies on this for tum'as cohen; CYLOR.



End of Volume 48 Issue 73