Volume 50 Number 01
                    Produced: Tue Nov 15  5:03:52 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Adulterous" (was Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Blue Laws
Floods and Punishment
         [Frank Silbermann]
Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses (2)
         [Daniel Cohn, Asher Grossman]
         [Nathan Lamm]
Vehakna'ani az ba'Aretz
         [Jay Horowitz]
Wearing Jackets to Shul
         [Goldfinger, Andy]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 12:05:10 -0500
Subject: Re: "Adulterous" (was Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses)

> From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
>>If there is no valid ketubba it is not just a simple matter of not being
>>allowed to live under the same roof. The Rambam in Hilchot Ishut 10,9
>>makes it clear that they are not allowed to cohabit, and, if they did,
>>it would be considered adulterous.
> I don't understand this at all ... an adulterous relationship is one
> in which the woman is married to another man; to whom would she be
> married in this context?

It is like a woman who had relations in between eirusin and kiddushin. 
She is asur to *every* man including the person who would become her 
husband once the entire ceremony is finished.  Thus, without the 
kesuvah, she is asur to her husband in the same manner that she is asur 
to every other man.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore."
<Sabba.Hillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water.


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 21:51:22 -0500
Subject: Blue Laws

At 06:17 AM 11/8/05, <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver) wrote:
>Nathan Lamm, speaking about blue laws ... on Sunday) in New York State,
>writes, in v49n87,
>       Nu? So it was changed. I don't see a law like that impinging
>       greatly on religious freedom, and I think it's rather nice that
>       aspects of the nation's religious heritage remain on the
>       books. Healthier for religion in general, including Judaism, than
>       erasing it altogether.

Any "law" in the USA that singles out one religion's day of rest for
observance, to the exclusion of other religions, is an unconstitutional
establishment of religion, and just as bad as forcing me when I was in
grammar school to sing Xmas carols and recite a Christian prayer every
morning, which they did.  This is my country, too, as much as it is
theirs, and they have no business doing these things.  (Israel is my
country too, (although I have not yet lived there) in somewhat the same
way as Mexico is still where the heart of many Mexican-Americans is, and
similarly people from all the other countries of the world.)

>I don't know specifically about New York, but in Massachusetts, where I
>lived for many years, the primary reason blue laws remained on the
>books was not because of the "nation's religious heritage," but because
>of pressure from labor unions. They didn't want employees of liquor
>stores (and other kinds of stores, which, in Massachusetts, were also
>affected by blue laws) to be pressured into working 7 days a week.

AIUI, in areas where a lot of Jews live, it is or was not just labor
unions, but the Jewish owners of so many liquor, jewelry, and certain
other types of stores, who wanted at least one day off from work.  They,
or at least their parents and grandparents who owned the store before
them would have much preferred it be on Shabbes, but you know that was
never going to happen.  Although the change described by the OP,
requiring each store to pick one day, is the first implemented example
of what I myself suggested maybe 30 years ago, it has enormous flaws,
which is why I haven't suggested it for 20 years.  What will happen now
is that K-Mart will close its jewelry and electronics department on
Wednesday, Wal-mart will close theirs on Thursday, and Target will close
theirs on Tuesday.  They will all be open on the two busiest days,
Saturday and Sunday**, and of the Jewish family-owned stores that are
left, they will lose too much money to stay in business unless they too
stay open all weekend, or in the case of some products, unless they have
an assured, probably O market.

**I know from work at least one gentile woman whose mother would not sew
or so some other "malochas" on Sunday.  The fact that the stores are so
busy on Sunday, at least after Noon shows to me that an awful lot of
Christians have abandoned this sort of thing. Probably one reason the
"choose your own day" passed.  They *want* stores to be open on Sunday.

I remember being in San Antonio on a Sunday in 1971 and wanting to buy a
particular transistor radio that was no longer sold elsewhere, at a big
box store. I had to come back on Monday.  I still have the radio, and it
works as well as I knew it did.  In Texas, even then, I think it was the
Christians, and not the Jews or the labor unions (who are weak in
Texas), who chose to make the whole population observe Sunday, as if,
ch"vsh we were all Christians.



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 08:09:40 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Floods and Punishment

Yisrael & Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> V49 N98:
> 2- G-d's punishment, and reward, is/are in Olam Haba, the World to
> Come.  It is very dangerous and foolish to promise people reward in
> this world for obeying commandments, and those rabbis who claim that
> tragedies are direct punishment are also wrong.  Who are they?  G-d's
> CPA?

It is my understanding that reward and punishment are meted out in both
Worlds, with the proportion allocated to each world differing from one
individual to another in (to us) an unpredictable manner.

If the New Orleans flood was to punish the lascivious behavior tolerated
there, perhaps it was because G-d affectionately wanted to reduce the
offenders' suffering in Gehenna (purgatory) upon death before entering
HaOlam HaBa (heaven).

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Daniel Cohn <cohn3736@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 10:30:40 -0500
Subject: Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses

I won't get into the halachic validity of non-shomer shabbat witnesses
(others have already answered that) - I just wanted to point out that
there are other ways to honor close friends and make them feel they
count that do not interfere with halacha. For instance the Rabbi in the
city where I grew up (Montevideo, Uruguay), where the vast majority of
the community was non-observant but most weddings were performed by the
Orthodox Rabbi, would prepare a very nice "marriage certificate" and
have it signed by non-observant family and friends, the more the better,
and make a big deal out of it, while the real ketuva was signed by
kosher witnesses with less fanfare (still part of the same "ketuva
signing" ceremony. You could claim that this sort of minimizes the
importance of the real ketuva signing, but to me the most important was
that family and friends were not relegated and halacha was still
upheld. I'm sure you can think of other similar ways to reach the same

Mazal Tov,

Daniel Cohn

From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 02:07:58 -0500
Subject: Re: Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses

Ari Trachtenberg asked:

>>  signed by invalid witnesses - it is invalid. The rules for valid
>> witnesses are clear, and just as you wouldn't have a 1st degree
>> relative signing the ketubba (e.g a brother or uncle) a non Shomer
>> Shabbat witness is also not a valid witness.

> What exactly does it mean to be shomer shabbat?  How many violations
> of shabbat does it take to be put in the category of
> non-shomer-shabbat?

The definition of someone who is not Shomer Shabbat is probably obvious
to most. We're obviously not talking about someone who, by accident,
shut the light in the room. When speaking of a Mechalel Shabbat, you're
talking about someone who is Mechalel Shabbat Befarhesya - so that
everyone knows he's violating. Someone who habitually drives his car on
Shabbat, smokes, mows his lawn, and so on, would be considered a
Mechalel Shabbat. Someone who carries his house keys in his pocket,
where there is no Eiruv, might not be - as it's not known to the
public. (This might also tie in with the other discussion about giving

>> If there is no valid ketubba it is not just a simple matter of not
>> being allowed to live under the same roof. The Rambam in Hilchot
>> Ishut 10,9 makes it clear that they are not allowed to cohabit, and,
>> if they did, it would be considered adulterous.

> I don't understand this at all ... an adulterous relationship is one
> in which the woman is married to another man; to whom would she be
> married in this context?

Check out the wording of the Rambam on this subject. He states that A:
if there is no ketubba - the couple may not cohabit. and B: If the
husband wrote out a sum which is too low, they may not cohabit, and if
they do - it is considered a "Beilat Z'nut". I took the liberty to
translate this as "adulterous", as in today's world the concept of
"Beilat Z'nut" is almost unmentioned. Basically it refers to "free"
cohabitation, usually out of wedlock, for (so called) "Recreational
purposes". This is in contrast with the cohabitation of a husband and
wife, which is regulated by Halacha, Mussar, and various Kabbalistic
guidelines, (See Rambam, Siddur R' Yaakov Emdin, Ramban, etc. on the
subject), and is a meaningful act - not just one guided by lust.

Since the word "Z'nut" dovetails with adultery, though not in the strict
sense in which it is used today, I translated it as such.

Searching a bit more, I found that the Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'Ezer,
Siman 66, deals with this issue, and rules as the Rambam, saying also
clearly that without a valid ketuba the couple may not cohabit.

There is, though, one last Se'if in that Siman which speaks of places
where the custom is to allow invalid witnesses to sign the ketuba. The
commentaries there explain that these were "Honorary" signatories, in
addition to the two valid witnesses, who must sign first. Thus a
solution may be offered, in which those non Shomer Shabbat friends or
relatives would be able to sign the ketuba, as additional witnesses.

Asher Grossman


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 05:35:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Sinless

The Gemara (in Bava Basra, at the end of the first perek) does indeed
list four people who "died on the advice of the snake." That is, we
would have been immortal (goes this line of reasoning) had not Adam and
Chava listened to the snake. (This isn't to be confused with the
Christian doctrine of "original sin," which is something else entirely.)
Of course, as we've all committed personal sins, none of us would be
immortal anyway- except for these four people who never sinned, and only
died because of the first sin.

The names are surprising- Binyamin, son of Yaakov; Amram, father of
Moshe; Yishai, father of David; and Kilav, son of David. (By the way,
there are Midrashim that speak of sins by at least some of these people;
there's also another list of people who never died, but may have
sinned.) These certainly aren't the names we'd expect; as a rebbe of
mine once pointed out, there's a lesson to be learned here: People who
are perfect usually don't have much of an affect of the world at
large. You'll note that Avraham, Moshe and David, just to take a few
names, aren't on the list.

Needless to say, this is aggadata and should be treated as such; if one
tefillah (pasuk?) says that everyone sins, I wouldn't change another
tefillah to refelct this passage.

Nachum Lamm


From: Jay Horowitz <ggntor@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 23:36:27 -0500
Subject: Vehakna'ani az ba'Aretz

I am curious to hear approaches to the controversial Ibn Ezra found on
this week's parsha. (The verse in question is Breishit, 12:6.)

In sum, Ibn Ezra notes: (rough translation) "one possibility is that the
kna'anim were conquering the land at this time, but if this isn't the
case, I have a secret explanation and the intelligent would be silent"
(yesh li sod ve'hamaskil yidom). The tsafnat paneach explains the
semi-obvious "secret" as "lefi zeh nir'eh she lo katav Moshe zot
ha'milah b'kahn," and goes on to explain that it doesn't make a
difference whether Moshe wrote the word or whether another prophet such
as Yehoshua wrote it as they were both prophets.

I imagine that this interpretation is troubling to many of us and I
would love to hear some alternate explanations of the pasuk itself or of
Ibn Ezra's comments.



From: Goldfinger, Andy <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 07:04:36 -0500
Subject: Wearing Jackets to Shul

Frank Silbermann writes:

> One unfortunate aspect of requiring jackets for weekday prayers is
> that it places a greater-than-usual burden upon the poor.

During the 60's, I was in a Chasidish-Black Hat shul on Shabbos.  A new
Ba'al Tshuvah (who I knew) came in to doven.  He was wearing torn blue
jeans, a worn out colored shirt, and sandals.  I noticed an old man
looking at him, with a very puzzled expression on his face.  After a
short time, the old man's expression cleared up indicating that he had
finally figured out what was going on.

Following the dovening, the old man came up to me discretely.  He said,
"excuse me, I see that you seem to know this young man.  I see that he
is too poor to be able to afford a suit.  Could you please tell him,
without embarrassing him, that I have an extra suit that I think will
fit him and I would be glad to give it too him."

Today, the Ba'al Tshuvah in question is in the Lakewood Kollel, and
wearing dark suits and black hats.  The old man, I believe, is in Gan

-- Andy Goldfinger


End of Volume 50 Issue 1