Volume 53 Number 58
                    Produced: Fri Jan  5  5:20:22 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
         [Joel Rich]
Environmentalism (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Orrin Tilevitz]
Flourescent Lighting
Prohibition on Smoking (2)
         [Dr. Josh Backon, Orrin Tilevitz]
Respect for Rabbanim
Separation of Church and State (2)
         [<ERSherer@...>, David Charlap]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 05:16:40 -0500
Subject: Administrivia


As a follow-up to Joel's posting below, any email sent to
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@egps.com (or feldblum@egps.egps.com) I
assume to be for the list. If it is not expressly marked as not for
publication, my assumption is that you want it sent on to the list. If
you want to contact me "off-list", even if it is mail-jewish related,
but not for publication, a better address to use is <feldblum@...>

Just as an informational point, while you can also send submissions to
<mail-jewish@...>, that is more work for both you and me. I think
the listserv requires you to do something to confirm your submission
after you send it, I need to edit it further on my side, and then
delete/reject it from the listserv queue. So, in short, if you are
making a decision where to send the submission, my recommendation is use
one of <mljewish@...> or feldblum@egps.com and skip

Feel free to contact me at any point with questions / comments.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 07:49:37 -0500
Subject: Apology

Dear Perets,

My sincere apologies for this going on list. I sent a blind copy of my
email to avi at what I thought was the moderator's address for purposes
of a comment on moderation standards not for posting. I did not intend
this to become a public hochacha. It was my fault for not making that
clear to Avi. I apologize and ask your mchilla and also ask Avi to post
this apology to the list.

Kol Tuv from a severely embarrassed and chastened,
Joel Rich


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2007 10:29:58 -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]
> Yes, yes, what I'd expect from the Wall Street Journal op-ed page ...
> But I do think it is a valid question whether, given the current level
> of scientific understanding on the issue, a tshuva is appropriate.

I think you miss Dick Lindzen's point ... that, despite its unemotional
and fact-based public persona, science is a highly political animal.  If
the government almost exclusively funds research supporting global
warming (as appears to be the case), then this becomes the main research
trend; researchers trying to dispute or criticize the event have fewer
resources and publish fewer papers (besides the fact that reuptable
scientific journals are generally extremely conservative and thus very
cautious of publishing minority or "revolutionary" ideas).  They are
also probably more likely to get rejected for tenure, and the like,
leaving a preponderous of expert opinions supporting exactly what the
government directs.  This is no different from the systematic bias of
research funded by drug companies (see BMJ 2003;326:1167-70).

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 10:42:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Environmentalism

Nearly all of what you say may be true, except (i) I'd be shocked if the
current administration is funding much research supporting the theory
that global warming is caused by human action and (2) given the
extensive support of universities by polluting industries, I think it is
difficult to say that universities would automatically be biased in
favor of this new "orthodoxy".  But even if everything you say is true,
that doesn't prove the research is biased.  Most of the research
purporting to show the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer
was not funded by people who sold cigarettes, and I doubt that research
showing the reverse would advance one's tenure possibilities at most
universities.  The analogy is apt.  I don't think anybody had questioned
then that (1) smoking had increased over the years, (2) lung cancer had
increased over the years, and (3) there was a plausible mechanism for
smoking to cause lung cancer.  None of that proves causation, but it
certainly shifted the burden to tobacco advocates.  Similarly, I don't
think anybody questions that (1) the earth is warming and atmospheric
CO2 concentrations are increasing, (2) human industrial activity is
increasing, and (3) there is a plausible mechanism for human activity to
have these effects.  That doesn't prove causation, but certainly
suggests a burden of proof, and makes suspect claims that it's only
politically correct orthodoxy that's keeping who think otherwise from
publishing their papers.  And my major point was that the editorial page
of the Wall street Journal is not exactly the place where one is likely
to find an unbiased observer.


From: Carl <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2007 07:15:13 -0500
Subject: Flourescent Lighting

From: .cp. <chips@...>
> my night lights that turn off automatically in the presence of light,
> turn off when exposed to sun light and regular light blubs but don't
> change a whit when in FLUORESCENT light.

I believe the above reflects on the characteristics of the sensor in
your automatic night light.

Remember that when you walk past such a light (when it is "off") it
turns on -- this is because the sensor temporarily is not sensing light
of a certain spectrum. If you have much time on your hands you might
want to experiment with colored filters or a prism -- to see what



From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2007 16:48:34
Subject: Re: Prohibition on Smoking

Orrin Tilevitz stated:

>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.

I see you left out the relevant quotation: Iggrot Moshe Chelek Bet Siman
18 and Siman 76 who states "aval vadai min ha'raui l'chol ish u'bi'frat
l'vnei torah she'lo l'asheyn". I'll translate: "But it's certainly right
and proper for every person and especially those who learn Torah to NOT

Josh Backon           

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 07:35:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Prohibition on Smoking

"Right and proper" not to doesn't mean he says it's assur.  Rav Moshe's
tshuvot are quite clearly to say "assur' when that's what he means.  You
might want to go back to the discussion on this topic on this list about
a year ago,debating whether he would have prohibited smoking had he been
aware of the science.


From: <smwise3@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2007 09:17:08 -0500
Subject: Respect for Rabbanim

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.
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?

Jeannette Friedman seems to have gotten carried away with her criticism
of the rabbonim. It appears because they don't meet her expectations,
they haven't earned respect in her eyes. No one should be defined by a
single issue, and with the exception of Ms. Friedman, I would say R'
Eliashev and R' David Feinstein have contributed enough to the Jewish
community and Yiddishkeit that they have more than earned the respect
Ms.  Friedman would deny them. The way one talks about our Rabbonim
speaks much about the person. I actually find it quite disturbing to
hear the manner of such criticism from a person who may or may not have
legitimate complaint.

S. Wise


From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 10:14:20 EST
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

> David Charlap objects to my statement that what gives us in the
> U.S. such freedoms as freedom of speech and the freedom to live is the
> Constitution, instead saying that some rights are granted by God, and
> that the legal system guarantees them but does not create them.  He
> cites the Declaration of Independence, and notes that the Ninth
> Amendment says "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain
> rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by
> the people."  The objection is not material to my original point
> (q.v.), but while I am neither a legal philosopher for a
> Constittuional scholar I believe he is mostly mistaken.

    The quoted language is for the purpose of leaving future lawyers
room to argue for the existence and legitimacy of other rights which may
not exactly fit into any language not used by the creators of the
Constitution, as well as dealing with issues that might not have been
anticipated by the authors of the Constitution.

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 11:22:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

R E Sternglantz wrote:
> Can you please bring our attention to some of these specific decisions?

I don't keep a file of them on-hand, but I'll remember to point out the
next few I hear about on the news, if you like.

> And I assume you approve of the decisions by activist judges to forbid
> private employers from forcing employees to work on Shabbos.

This is a very different thing.  Firing an employee for being Jewish
(and that is what the employer in question was trying to do, regardless
of the language used) is completely different from ruling about what
kind of decorations can be put up.

> There are a number of different issues here, as I see it.  There are
> rules governing religious displays on state property.  As a matter of
> fact, these rules are constantly in flux and are highly fact specific.
> As an interesting example, sometimes the Ten Commandments are regarded
> by the courts as a religious display, and sometimes as a cultural
> artifact.  This is maddening and confusing.

It's not at all confusing.  It's a matter of intention.

When a judge tells the press that he wants them as a symbol of 
Christianity and as a statement that he wants his court to conform to 
the bible, then it is a complete violation of the First Amendment.

When a different location wants them as a symbol of historic laws, 
alongside many other examples of historic laws, then there is clearly no 
intent to establish any religion, and there is no violation.

> But the issue of people bringing lawsuits to stop one religion from
> making displays on state property when other religions are barred from
> doing so is distinct from PROTESTS of major retailers employing
> thousands of employees (for instance) whose stores become (dare I say)
> shrines to a particular religion for at least a full month of the year.
> I'm allowed to say - I won't shop at any store that acts as if
> Christianity is everyone's religion, where checkout people are obligated
> to give me good wishes for a Christian holiday.  And I think it's
> perfectly legitimate to protest this and to organize protests, if that's
> your thing -- and that's part of what the ACLU does.  And maybe if I'm
> an employee of such an establishment, and my employers compel me to
> participate in activities promoting Christianity, I have a right to sue.

Sure, protest all you want.  But when you translate your protests into 
lawsuits, and try to force all employers to eliminate their decorations 
because you don't like seeing them, you've stepped over the line.

Being forced to work in a store with trees and tinsel decoration is a 
far cry from being forced to practice Christianity.

> Does it not bother you, at least a little bit, to get those "good
> wishes"???

No.  Why should I get angry because someone else wishes me happiness, 
regardless of the occasion?

With all due respect, this sounds like you're describing someone who is 
looking for an excuse to be angry, not a person who has any legitimate 
reason to be offended.

>> Just this past week, one Congressman is protesting the fact that
>> another (a Muslim) wants to put his hand on a Koran for a private
>> swearing-in ceremony.  He wants to prohibit swearing on anything other
>> than a Christian bible.  This is just another symptom of the backlash
>> we're all experiencing as a result of courts passing anti-Christian
>> legislation from the bench.
> Please.  This is clearly anti-Islamic hate-mongering and has nothing to
> do with separation of church and state or a backlash by the crowd who
> find "Happy Holiday" offensive.

Even though, when asked by the press, the Congressman's supporters were 
saying they'd say the same thing about a Jew wanting to swear over a 
Torah?  (And yes, I know this is unlikely to happen, but the intent is 
still clear.)

There is a growing movement to establish Christianity.  It's not spurred 
by hate-mongering.  Part of it is based on the fact that Evangelical 
groups believe it's their obligation to convert the world (which 
obviously has no place in US law), but it is also partly a backlash 
against the also-growing movement to try and eliminate religion from 
public view.

Trying to establish atheism is just as bad as trying to establish any 
other religion.

-- David


End of Volume 53 Issue 58