Volume 53 Number 52
                    Produced: Wed Jan  3  5:57:50 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

AGUNOTH: A Halachic vs a Social problem
         [Russell J Hendel]
Bus segregation
         [Leah Aharoni]
         [Joel Rich]
Get Extortion
         [Sammy Finkelman]
King Saul
         [Batya Medad]
Rabbi Eliashiv
         [Sammy Finkelman]
Separating the Genders
Stay-at-home father
         [Frank Silbermann]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2006 12:38:16 -0500
Subject: AGUNOTH: A Halachic vs a Social problem

I heard Matti Klein, President of LeMaan Bnoth Yisroel, an organization
that tries to free agunoth speak at a convention a few years ago. She
emphatically said that she has never seen ANY agunoth cases where the
underlying problem was halachic. Rather in every case she has seen the
underlying problem was that influential people did not want to free the

I do not know to what extent others agree with this perception. (For
example maybe some hold that 99% or 90% of agunoth cases are social).

At any rate how we treat, solve, describe and address the agunoth
problem depends to a large extent on what the real problem is. If the
problem is primarily social then we need stronger laws and more items
like pre-nuptial agreements.

By analogy no one cheats on Kashruth because there are laws that allow
prosecution of those that deceivingly violate it.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2007 03:39:05 -0500
Subject: Bus segregation

Daniel Wells wrote: 

> And those discussion members who are in disagreement with that, should
> be aware that the policy of this forum, as far as I understand it,
> upholds Jewish tradition and halacha.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach clearly ruled that it is permissible for men
and women to sit on adjoining seats (next to each other), not to speak
of the same part of the bus. He also notes that there are people who are
mahmir.  (May be someone knows where to find this tshuva and can quote
it exactly).  Last time I checked, Rav Auerbach wasn't exactly RZ.

Rav Aurbach's biography, Hatorah Hamesamachat, brings a story in which
Rav Auerbach once got off the bus midway and walked the rest of the way
by foot, despite his advanced age. When asked why, he told his student
that an immodestly dressed woman sat down next to him on the bus and he
thought that could create chilul hashem. He didn't want to hurt her
feeling by moving to a different part of the bus, so he got off and

BTW, some of you might remember that 10 or 15 years ago a woman was
assaulted on a private segregated Manhattan-Monsey bus for sitting on
the men's side. That story created a lot of controversy too, but
apparently things haven't changed much.

Leah Aharoni

mail2web - Check your email from the web at
http://mail2web.com/ .


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 21:20:59 -0500
Subject: Demonstrations

> I would be interested in hearing what listers think would be an
> appropriate method of pointing out a problem with an eye to briniging it
> to the forefront of halachic discussion fostering hidushim and hastening
> the the change in attitude necessary to gain acceptance for creative
> halachic solutions to painful or dangerous situations for example.
> Or what about other topics which should perhaps be viewed in light of
> things we know 'bizman hazeh' that maybe earlier poskim didn't take into
> account. Take for example, cigarette smoking which R. Moshe Feinstein
> did not prohibit (I believe he said that it wasn't proven that
> cigarettes actually caused damaged and people could rely on 'shome
> petayim hashem).<SNIP>
> Best,
> Risa Tzohar

Risa raises two interesting questions, I can tell she comes from a good
family :-).

With regard to the first question of agunot, I don't have a really good
answer other than to say that the change must be perceived as coming
from internal stimuli rather than external (e.g. those darn feminists or
scientists....).  For an issue as difficult as this, it would require
what Rabbi Soloveitchik (the Rav in the US branch of our family but not
in the Israeli) described as a Manhattan project-type focus.  Obviously,
then the question becomes how to generate such a focus.  I think this
will be the real challenge, but I choose not to expand on this because
it would require me to comment on certain socio/halchic realities of
Galut (physical and spiritual in my case, spiritual in hers) which I
prefer to avoid for reasons of my own sanity.

With regard to your question on other topics, I agree with your general
take but feel intellectual honesty requires that I clarify that Rabbi
Feinstein's position on smoking might, in fact, remain unchanged today.
He issued two response on the issue - one in the 1964 (Y"D 2:49) and one
in the 1981(C"M 2:76).  The one in the 1960s was fairly short, but the
one in the 1980s was somewhat more extensive.  If I understand the 1980
response correctly (and I have to admit, as an actuary, I've puzzled
over it a number of times and would really appreciate anyone else's
insights on this response), his formulation seems to be that smoking
falls into a category of activities that are not formally prohibited,
but it would be good advice to stay away from (much like eating too much
transfat, etc.).  This is because he states most people are not injured
by these types of activities and that even though there are many people
in the hospital or injured, it is a minority and, therefore, you can
rely on Shomer Ptaim.  As an actuary, I'm not sure how this translates
practically.  I have to believe that by the 1980s there was an awareness
that if we grouped all smokers in one group and non-smokers in another
group and did a random study that smokers have a shorter life
expectancy.  I'm not sure you could ever prove that the majority of
smokers "die" from smoking.  My point is that the normal case of a
dangerous activity the results are fairly quickly seen whereas here,
that is not the case and while we can show it statistically, we may not
be able to show that the majority of people who smoke die from causes
directly related to their smoking.  Having said all that, he then
clearly says that it is best to not become addicted to smoking, but then
again he says it is best not to have any addictions (taavot).  For what
it is worth, the Tzitz Eleiezer, very clearly prohibits smoking as does
the RCA though they are less clear on the transition.  Rav Ovadia takes
the position that it is not forbidden but it's a good idea not to.

Any and all comments and corrections welcome.

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 06 23:13:00 -0400
Subject: Get Extortion

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
JF> Reb David Feinstein doesn't speak about Shalom Bayis from
JF> the pulpit. Why not? His father was a pioneer in these issues and
JF> sent me to civil court to get my get. His father made the Silver
JF> Get Law. What gives here?

There you have it again - Yeridos Hadoros.

Perhaps they don't care as much about avoiding Agunahs as they do about
avoiding mamzerim

JF> The get ultimately cost almost half a mil. Where normal people come
JF> from that's the crime of extortion. Criminal behavior.

It is also against Halacha.

I have a book: "Ethics of Business Finance and Charity according to
Jewish Law" by Rabbi Ezra Basri (Chief Justice of the District Court in
Jerusalem) published in 1990 by what looks like it says is the Haktav
Institute - translated by Rabbi Eliayahu Tougar. Rabbi Basri was awarded
the "Jerusalem Citation for Torah Scholarship" established in the memor
of Chief Rabbi Meir Uzziel. This is Volume 5.

Section 3, Chapter 3 deals with Presents Given Under Duress or in

1> Presents given under duress do no effect a binding transfer of

2> The Rabbis have explained that unwillingness and compulsion, as
mentioned in the previous law, do not necessarily refer to an extreme
situation in which the donor was physically coerced until he complied
with his attacker's demands Even the slightest degree of complusion may
cause the gift to be nullified. Since he is under no obligation to give
his property to others, all presents must be made completely willingly.

It seems to me that any present given to encourage someone to give a get
falls under this category, because it is simply not a legitimate request
that the wife's family give him money.

Now whether people would want israeli or other civil law to forbid this
I don't know - some people might want to leave this possibility of
ransom. You could also do things to discourage or forbid anybody
assisting in this. It could be made a violation of ethics to suggest it.

Stuart Feldhammer:

>> First of all it's unlikely that any of us would come up with a "new"
>> idea on this issue.

I don't know maybe this is a new idea. Or perhaps it is simply a
return to an old idea. Because we didn't have this problem many years


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 00:13:13 +0200
Subject: Re: King Saul

> I enjoyed your article but I too object to your portrayal of Shaul,
> not because of a "Haredi mind set" but because I think you've got the
> wrong pshat! It's not a Charedi-MO issue. It's a question of what's
> pshat.

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I wonder if you paid attention to
King Saul's pathetic, ignoble end.  Potential isn't everything.  He
begged Shmuel; there is no record in the Tanach of his repenting to G-d.

"I shall not return to you for you have rejected the word of the Lord
and the Lord has rejected you from being King over Israel."

And Samuel turned to go and he [Saul] seized the hem of his robe and it
tore. And Samuel said to him, "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel
from you today and has given it your fellow who is better than you.'" (1
Samuel 15:26-28)



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 06 23:20:00 -0400
Subject: Rabbi Eliashiv

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)

JF> If the rabbanim want respect, let them earn it. Starting with R'
JF> Eliashiv, who canceled the agunah conference, does not speak out
JF> against the violence against women and children, sexually or
JF> otherwise. Not one word. Ever.

We don't know what's going on over there. It *has* been reported here on
Mail-Jewish (Volume 50 Number 24) that he was instrumental in getting
Lakewood schools to take in all Jewish girls - others were prepared to
have no place for some. But it was done quietly and this information is
secondhand and unsourced beyond smwise. *

In Volume 35 number 94 Rabbi Eliashiv is one of the authorities cited
(although interestingly only in a private opinion given to Aryeh
A. Frimer, the poster) that women's Megillah reading Minyanim are

Another example of this - and his desire to avoid difficulties perhaps -
is what was reported in Volume 42 Number 69 - that back in 1990 he
paskened that Indian hair was all right because the hair itself was not
an offering to an idol. but rather cutting the hair was the sacrifice
and the hair was originally just thrown away.  (Even though maybe he had
the status of Gadol Hador to some by 2005, a controversy ensued.)

He is not against women.

It seems like he wants to maintain unity - doesn't want a breakaway
faction - and is trapped by that. Now this could be a big mistake,
especially if he is misreading what some people are about.

Of course , if the breakaway faction is of any substantial size, that
might leave the situation unresolved for those people that still
followed those Rabbis.

* From Volume 50 number 24:

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, based on information a Lakewooder who defends the
ban, the yeshivos agreed to take in only those girls after they didn't
listen to R' Maisyahu Solomon and he traveled to Israel to get R;
Eliashev to force the decree.


From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 09:12:02 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Separating the Genders

I have not been following the discussion on this list about the buses
having separate seating with a curtain.  I can only inform on what just
happened with me last week.

The Beis K'neset has rows at the back that can be separated by dropping
curtains down, there are 2 curtains for each row. A couple of women were
there for Mincha and of course the curtain was dropped. After Mincha is
a short Torah discussion to break with Maariv. So I picked up the
section of curtain that was in front of them so that they could see the
Rabbi better.  As I'm picking the curtain up they move over to behind
the other section.  For some reason I didn't grasp what was happening
(maybe I thought they were moving for a better angle?)  and started the
other section when I was informed that they didn't want the curtain
raised for them. I could see he was correct as they started moving to
the other row. So I left the curtain down and they returned to their
seats behind the curtain.

I have no idea who they were or where they were from.


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 09:43:08 -0600 (CST)
Subject:  Stay-at-home father

"Anonymous1" V53 N40:

> (My rabbi and I) both studied the relevant writings (about families
> where the father stays at home and the wife works outside the home)
> and it turns out that very very few Ravs have considered such a thing.

> The ability for women to support a family outside the home, and to
> have a stay-at-home Dad, is something that was really not considered
> up until the previous (i.e., 20th) century, and most Ravs who have
> written on the topic have taken the view that I describe the list
> taking, i.e., "It's a bad idea; fix it as soon as possible."


I was my impression that among haredim (especially in Israel) it is not
only common but actually is considered desirable for the wife to support
the family while the husband studies Torah.  Didn't one MLJ member write
that her first serious marriage trouble was when her young husband
unilaterally decided that she must go out to work so he could quit his
job and study?

Would it have been OK if "Anonymous1" didn't have to babysit his
children while learning?

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee  38117	<fs@...>


End of Volume 53 Issue 52