Volume 53 Number 53
                    Produced: Wed Jan  3  6:08:50 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Assaults and batteries
         [Bill Coleman]
Environmentalism (2)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Arnie Kuzmack]
Late Prayers
         [Tzvi Stein]
Late Tefillah on Friday Night (2)
         [Ken Bloom, Gershon Dubin]
Prohibition on Smoking
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Rabbeinu Tam's time for nightfall (and ending Shabbat)
         [Tom Buchler]
         [Perets Mett]
The switch of Yosef's sons
Yefas To'ar
         [Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Bill Coleman <wbcoleman@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 12:07:11 -0500
Subject: Assaults and batteries

>I would respond by focusing on Leah's comment "It would a form of
>physical assult to place scarfs...". That was my whole point. I am
>trying to differentiate "childishness" (which I cant stop) with
>criminality. If people keep on kicking and spitting someone will get
>hurt I know in one of the synagogues I attend a person (in fact a
>former shule president) got a black and blue eye from candy throwing
>during an offroof. My whole point is that kicking, spitting, and
>throwing **are** assaults while placing scarfs over people is childish
>but not an assault.

Trying to forcibly cover a person with a scarf is assault.  Kicking and
spitting in addition constitutes battery.  I wouldn't recommend either.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 22:51:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Environmentalism

> From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
> Ari Trachtenberg writes:
>> You might want to read Dick Lindzen's works [Prof. Lindzen is the Alfred
>> P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT], for example his
>> commentary at http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220 about
>> also his scholarly work, to see one possible reason for the lack of many
>> scientists attacking global warming.
> Yes, yes, what I'd expect from the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, as
> biased in its way as the New York Times op-ed page, if generally so in a
> more scholarly way.  The problem, to which the professor alludes, is
> that out of either ignorance or political bias, some people see
> short-term effects, e.g., lots of hurricanes last year, record warmth in
> the northeast this winter, and chant "global warming". That's junk
> science lechulei olma. The question is whether the long-term increase in
> temperature and atmospheric CO2 is a man-made phenonmenon--and I believe
> that only a minority of scientists think it is not.

There are a number of differences.  However, the main point is that the
politicians and journalists who are issuing panicked cries to crash the
economy in order to "prevent" global warming (such as Al Gore) are using
the "junk science lechulei almah" to attempt to push their point.  For
example, I read an interesting study that *localized warming* around
certain cities during the "Little Ice Age" in Europe allowed people to
survive.  The question is however about *global* effects and what can
legitimately be done about it.  I did not mean that a google search for
"Global warming fraud" would in and of itself turn up "proof".  I just
meant to show that given the many (legitimate - unlike a tobacco search)
articles pointing out the many flaws that it would not be appropriate
for a psak on the issue yet.

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

From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 11:56:16 -0500
Subject: Environmentalism

Hillel Markowitz writes, in v53n29,

      Only if legitimate scientists proved that
      then and only then would one be able to hope for a psak
      from a posek hador such as Rav Elyashuv or Rav Chaim
      Kanievsky (or even Rav Dovid Feinstein in the U.S.)

While I agree with those who argued, in response, that action on global
warming is justified, I would like to address a different aspect: what
is the role of poskim, or Jewish religious leaders in general, on such
an issue?

Having worked on environmental policy issue for most of my career, I can
attest that you never have "proof" on these issues.  The evidence on
smoking and lung cancer is about as strong as we will ever have on such
issues, yet there remain those with scientific credentials who disagree.
You can classify the level of certainty by such categories as (1)
virtual unanimity among the experts, (2) a preponderance of evidence,
(3) there remains a lot of uncertainty, but the risks and benefits of
acting outweigh the risks and benefits of not acting, etc.

How are the poskim supposed to approach the issue?  Just saying "consult
the experts" is not helpful, since all real experts will have expressed
their opinions and the answer you get is determined by which experts you

They would basically need to duplicate the process followed by the
secular society, which would be very resource intensive, particularly
since there are many issues which could be candidates for consideration.
And the rabbis' training would not seem to particularly prepare them to
make these sorts of judgments.  A similar question came up on MJ in
December 2005 (v50, n58) concerning mercury in fish, which happens to be
my area of expertise.  The consensus on MJ at that time seemed to be
that kashrut organizations (in that case) should not get involved in
these issues.

(Incidentally, for those who want to do further reading on the question
of expertise, there is a huge literature on a similar issue in secular
law: the requirement under the Supreme Court Daubert decision that
judges must rule on the admissability of expert-witness testimony on
scientific issues.  Do an Internet search on "Daubert".)

I would like, however, to raise a different but related question.
Presumably, Jews and non-Jews are equally concerned about protecting
public health and the environment.  Is there anything that is added to
the argument by halakhah or by Judaism in general?  Is there any
Jewishly-based insight or approach that casts the issues in a different
light?  My first instinct is to answer that there generally is not, but
I would be happy to be convinced otherwise.

I can think of one example where the Jewish approach is (or should be)
significantly different: the issue of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS,
AKA secondhand smoke or passive smoking).  In 1993, the US EPA issued a
report concluding that the scientific evidence was strong enough to
classify ETS as a "known human carcinogen" and that it caused other,
non-cancer health effects as well.  (See
http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/smoke/01.htm) Despite the fact that it
was completely unenforceable and non-regulatory, the report had a
tremendous impact on secular society in the US and, to a degree,
elsewhere, leading to local ordinances banning smoking in public places
and the like.  Prior to the report, the general approach was that
smoking is known to damage the smoker's health, but that was his/her
business and did not justify social intervention.  But if new evidence
shows that smokers may be impacting other people's health, then legal
interventions may be justified.  However, for us as observant Jews, the
report would not make that much of a difference, since we do not believe
that we have the right to damage our own health.  Therefore, smoking
could be banned by halakhah just on the basis of damage to the smokers'

I would be very interested in discussion by the group.


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 15:10:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Late Prayers

From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>

> Is the late Kabbalat Shabbot for Rabanu Tam people? Or, as I have seen
> here in the summer, some who want to eat early, but not to pray Arvit in
> daytime (pleg haminha), say Kabbalat Shabbot before dinner, and pray
> Arvit at Rabanu Tam time (about 9:15). OTOH, in the "old days", when
> B'rchu was said, everyone & everything stopped. This of course was
> before sunset. In R. Epstein's (Torah Temima) town, some machmirim
> wanted to change the time so Arvit would be said at night. The Rav would
> not allow it, because it could cause hillul Shabbat.

Actually, I'm completely perplexed about these questions regarding
"late" Kabbalat Shabbot, as if it's an "exotic" practice. From my
experience, it's done in just about every shul I've davened!  I think
you may have the wrong idea about what your shul is really doing.  Next
time they start Kaballat Shabbat, look at your watch and compare it to
the time of sunset.  I think you may be in for a surprise.


From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 12:41:28 -0800
Subject: Re: Late Tefillah on Friday Night

> > Oh, it's allowed all right. Kabbalas Shabbos is similar to kiddush
> > halachically, in that just as you can make kiddush either before
> > sunset (common in the summer months) or after sunset, you can also
> > say Kabbalas Shabbos before or after sunset.
> Could Kabblas Shabbos be said after kiddush

R' Ovadia permits one to say Arvit after shabbat dinner, on condition
that you start the meal no earlier than 1/2 hour before sunset. See
Yalkut Yosef -- I can't tell you where at the moment, as I don't have
Yalkut Yosef with me, but it's in the chapter on kiddush.


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 19:35:58 -0500
Subject: Late Tefillah on Friday Night

From: <chips@...>
<<Could Kabblas Shabbos be said after kiddush ?>>

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with saying a few chapters of
Tehilim and some nice piyutim about Shabbos and Yerushalayim, but once
you've made kiddush you've done the ultimate kabbolas Shabbos; there's
nothing to be added from a halachic perspective.



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2007 07:53:12 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Prohibition on Smoking

While I'd guess that most--though, from past experience, not all--of the
subcribers to this list agree that smoking is prohibited by halacha, Dr.
Josh Backon's conclusion that Rav Moshe Feinstein so wrote is,
infortunately, incorrect.  In fact he wrote that it is permitted because
"shomer peta'im hashem" (God guards simpletons).  At best one can argue
that he would have changed his mind had he known the scientific facts.

For a series of 3 articles on this topic by Rabbi Jachter, see


From: Tom Buchler <tbuchler@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 15:05:20 -0500
Subject: Rabbeinu Tam's time for nightfall (and ending Shabbat)

Most of what I have read tells me that Rabbeinu Tam held that nightfall
occurs at 72 minutes after Sh'kiah. I have recently heard from two
people, one who heard from his rav, the other from other sources, that
the 72 minute timing only applies in Jerusalem at the equinox and
therefore needs to be adjusted for latitude and season.

Can someone tell me (preferrably with sources) whether the 72 minute
timing is fixed regardless of location and season, whether it must be
adjusted, or whether there is an area of dispute?



From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2007 11:32:13 +0000
Subject: Re: Smoking

Risa Tzohar wrote:

> We all agree that smoking is halachikly prohibited. Now suppose we
> want to crusade (you should excuse the expression) against smoking
> among Yeshiva students. We really want to see all roshei yeshiva
> actively prohibiting their students from smoking, enforcing bans in
> the yeshiva making it an issue as important as whose schita to use or
> being careful about bugs in lettuce. How would we concerned Jews exert
> influence?

This is an Aunt Sally. First invent a situation, then criticize it.

All the Roshei Yeshiva I know **actively** ban smoking. They have been
doing this for decades, and without prompting from Mail-Jewish.

OTOH, I have not heard from any of my sons that their Rosh Yeshiva tells
them which shechita to eat from. **That** is something we decide at

So, please find something else to criticize.

Perets Mett


From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 09:04:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: The switch of Yosef's sons

Yaakov makes the switch of the order for Minashe and Ephraim at the
beginning of the sedra VaYichi, when he gives them the status of Reuven
& Shimon.

Anyone aware of commentators who deal with the switch at this point?


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 08:53:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Yefas To'ar

> From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
>> From: "Frank Silbermann" <fs@...>
>> it seems to me that if Yefas Toar were not already rabbinically
>> forbidden someone would have suggested its use as a solution to the
>> "who is a Jew(ish convert)?" controversey.  That is, Reform Jews could
>> simply arrange for their gentile spouses to be "captured in battle"
>> (or purchased as a "slave").
> How would this help? (i) yefas toar still requires a valid conversion
> (H.  Melachim 8:5), and (ii) only applies in the context of a war
> (ibid. 8:3).

Doesn't a valid conversion require the consent and will of the
convertee?  If so, could a captured woman simply refuse to convert as a
means of avoiding marriage (this would seem to contradict the simple
meaning of the Torah).



End of Volume 53 Issue 53