Volume 53 Number 74
                    Produced: Fri Jan 12  5:54:03 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Explaining catastrophes
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Kiddush HaChodesh (2)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Alex Heppenheimer]
Rabbis assisting women (3)
         [Mark Dratch, SBA, Mark Dratch]
Shopping Halacha
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Tikkun Chatzot (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Yisrael Medad]
Viewing Women
         [Dov Marks]
Yefas To'ar
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Yefas toar and Rape as a War Crime
         [Chana Luntz]
Zemanin -- What time is it?
         [Carl Singer]


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:00:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Explaining catastrophes

In MJ 53:71, Leah Aharoni wrote:
>Carl Singer wrote:
>>The "Buses were blown up because" is as stupid as the "Holocaust occurred
>>because" claims alleged to be have been made by certain Rabbiem.
>While I understand Carl's position, I think there is a lot of validity
>in our tradition to finding spiritual reasons for catastrophes.  For
>example, for chazal, the second churban was equivalent in scope to our
>perception of the shoah (besides the loss of the temple and the exile,
>there were actually millions of casualties.) Still, chazal had no qualms
>with finding spiritual reasons for the churban (lack of blessing on
>Torah study, judging according to the letter of the law, senseless
>hatred, etc).
>I can't think of a specific example right now, but I think that the
>rishonim had the same attitude and assigned various tragedies to
>specific sins.
>So why are we aghast at people blaming our tragedies on sin today?  

Three possible reasons:

1. The greatness of those earlier authorities. There's a well-known
   tradition (I've seen it attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, to the Baal
   HaTanya, and perhaps others) that all of the halachic authorities
   down to, and including, the Taz and the Shach (mid-17th century)
   wrote their works with Divine inspiration; afterwards that was no
   longer necessarily the case. So it's much more logical to assume that
   in earlier times our Sages had specific knowledge tying a particular
   tragedy to a particular sin.

2. The greatness of the contemporary Jewish population. Already in the
   era of the Tannaim there's mention of people's lowered receptiveness
   to reproof, as well as people's lessened ability to reprove
   effectively (Erachin 16b). Nevertheless, it's far more likely that in
   those days, telling people that tragedy X was due to behavior Y would
   indeed be effective at getting people to abandon behavior Y, whereas
   nowadays such a statement is far more likely to result in the
   listeners altogether rejecting the speaker and the Torah that he or
   she represents.

3. The behavior being condemned. The three examples you cited concerning
   the churban are all behaviors that are objectively incorrect
   according to Torah standards; the same is true of, for example,
   talking in shul (which the Tosefos Yom Tov, d. 1654, gave as a reason
   for the Chmielnitski massacres of 1648-49; in proportion to the
   number of Jews in the world at the time, the loss of Jewish
   population may well have equaled or even exceeded the Holocaust). On
   the other hand, as other posters have pointed out, it's far from
   clear that mixed seating on buses really is a violation of halachah.

Kol tuv,


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 05:05:47 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Kiddush HaChodesh

>From: <ERSherer@...>
>> sighting the new moon. Normally it did not take them so long and
>> they arrived much earlier in the day.
> If they don't arrive on day 29, doesn't the Bes Din automatically
> declare day 30 to be Rosh Hashona? And, isn't that why Rosh Hashona
> was made two days (always) so the 29th day witnesses became
> superfluous?

The witnesses would arrive on day 30 which would be declared Rosh
Chodesh (day 1 of the new month).  *If* Bais Din was unable to announce
"mekudash" on day 30, then and only then would day 31 become the first
day of the new month, leaving the previous month with 30 days.  The
gemora in Rosh Hashana (which the daf yomi just completed) discusses
whether or not bais din is required to make a declaration of day 31 or

The matter of two days of Rosh Hashana is a different matter and the
scenario that I presented was talking about the behavior in the Bais
Hamikdash regarding the korbonos and shira of Rosh hashana.

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

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:22:07 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Kiddush HaChodesh

In MJ 53:71, E. R. Sherer asked:

>If they [the witnesses - AH] don't arrive on day 29, doesn't the Bes
>Din automatically declare day 30 to be Rosh Hashona? And, isn't that
>why Rosh Hashona was made two days (always) so the 29th day witnesses
>became superfluous?

It's actually day 30 and 31 respectively: if witnesses don't show up on
the 30th, then Beis Din automatically declares day 31 to be Rosh Chodesh
(or Rosh Hashanah, as the case may be).

The reason that Rosh Hashanah is always two days is related to that. The
people would observe the 30th (beginning from the previous evening, of
course) as a doubtful Yom Tov, in case witnesses showed up the next
morning or afternoon. If they did arrive in time, then there would be
only one day of Rosh Hashanah that year. (Conversely, if they knew that
no witnesses would be arriving - for example, if calculation showed that
the moon wouldn't have been visible the evening following the 29th -
then the 30th would be treated as an ordinary weekday, and there would
only be one day of Rosh Hashanah, on the 31st.)

However, if witnesses arrived late in the day on the 30th (after the
time of the afternoon tamid, as described in the mishnah previously
under discussion), then Beis Din would refuse to hear their
testimony. In that case, though, since by Torah law the 30th should have
been Rosh Chodesh (and indeed most of the day had already been observed
as such), then they would have a two-day Rosh Hashanah: the first day
(the 30th) by Rabbinical law, and the second day (the 31st) by Torah
law, since that day would be Rosh Chodesh by default.

For further details, see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 600:3-4.

Kol tuv,


From: <MSDratch@...> (Mark Dratch)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:22:15 EST
Subject: Re: Rabbis assisting women

In mail-jewish Vol. 53 #70 Digest SBA writes:

      Just tonight I saw a teshuva in Shu'T Be'er Moshe (by famous Posek
      Rav Moshe Stern zt'l - Debreciner Rav of BP).  In it he writes
      that walking along the street once he saw - across the road - a
      colleague of his - another Rav, lifting a women who had slipped
      (IIRC on ice).

      This rav noticing him (RMS), then came over and 'explained' his
      behaviour, saying that if she was Jewish - he had a chiyuv to help
      her get up, and if she was not, and he had walked by her, it would
      have been a Chilul Hashem.  Of course RMS completely agreed with

And what about the gemara, Sotah 21a: "What is an example of a chassid
shoteh (a pious foll)?  E.g., a woman is drowning in the river, and he
says: "It is improper for me to look upon her and rescue her"

Mark Dratch

From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 02:45:01 +1100
Subject: Re: Rabbis assisting women

> And what about the gemara, Sotah 21a: "What is an example of a chassid
> shoteh (a pious foll)?  E.g., a woman is drowning in the river, and he
> says: "It is improper for me to look upon her and rescue her"

I too thought of that.
Maybe to qualify as a chosid shoteh - it must be a life and death situation.


From: <MSDratch@...> (Mark Dratch)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 11:52:37 EST
Subject: Re: Rabbis assisting women

I don't think that the designation of "hassid shoteh" is limited to
life-threatening situations.  See Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayot, Sotah
3:4: who defines hassid shoteh as "one who clings to nivul (ugliness)
and is so demanding of himself that he appears kaved (burdensome) in the
eyes of others, and he does things that he is not obligated to do."

Similarly, Meiri to Sotah 20b writes, "he makes himself excessively
pious even when that piety causes hezek (harm, damage) whether to
himself or others..."


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:54:57 -0500
Subject: Shopping Halacha

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> Is it an acceptable halachik "model" for an individual to "shop" or
> research halacha in the same way that one might do independent
> scientific or political research (without the benefit of a teacher /
> professor.)

Why not?  Even if you ask a rabbi, your opinion still enters into the
execution of the act whether you like it or not.  Why would G-d give us
a brain and the Torah if we were meant to simply go to a single source
for every decision in our lives?

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


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:12:45 -0500
Subject: RE: Tikkun Chatzot

> From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
> Here in Shiloh, they will be saying on Thursday nights the 
> Tikkun Chatzot at midnight (23:45 local time).  Is this 
> minhag observed anywhere in Galus?

This kabbalistic para-liturgical innovation was popular in Italy into
the 1800s, observed by groups called "shomrim laboker."  If such
observance of rituals persisted into the 20th century in Italy, it is
unlikely they survived the Holocaust.

I am curious what has sparked the institution of this somewhat esoteric


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 21:45:17 +0200
Subject: Tikkun Chatzot

SBA <sba@...> wrote
> Is this something new? If so, what brought it on? SBA

What is meant by "new"?

The minhag is old but outside of Mekuballim Yeshivot, Chassidishe
shteiblich and folktales, it really isn't practiced by Modern Orthodox
communities.  This is the third year they've renewed it here at Shiloh
and I was asking if it is indeed ignored outside of Israel.



From: <dnieren@...> (Dov Marks)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:37:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Viewing Women


Recently a poster ( sorry i don't remember whom) stated that it is not
the responsibilty of the woman to make sure she is not seen. This brings
up a question that I have has for a while. At a simcha that has
music/dancing is it the responsibilty of the woman to make sure that men
can not see her dancing or is it the reponsibility of the man to make
sure that he can not see her dancing.

Thats all for now
Dov Marks


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:13:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Yefas To'ar

> From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>

> Bottom line a "gentile slave" or "eved Ca'anani" does indeed have to
> convert.  And the master has 12 months to pursuade him to do so before
> being required to sell him on.

His value would be severely reduced if the master legally required to
sell him!  Interestingly, this also seems to turn around the
master-slave relationship ... much like the contract negotiation period
before a hire.  However, a Jewish slave would be at a significant
bargaining disadvantage in this case, no?



From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 22:55:02 -0000
Subject: Yefas toar and Rape as a War Crime

R' SBA <sba@...> writes:
> Re a yefas toar, it also isn't a simple case of wartime rape 
> and marriage.
> See the Rambam Hilchos Melachim chapter 8.
> A few points:
> 1) He is only allowed to have relations with her ONCE, until 
> she does the whole procedure as described in the Torah and 
> then only after she converts and then they marry.  This 
> period must be a minimum of 3 months.
> 2) That first and only time with here may not be an 'on the 
> spot rape' in the battlefield.  He must take her into town 
> (motel room?) and do it there.

While it is correct this is the view of the Rambam, whether he is even
permitted to have relations with her once before the conversion and all
the procedures have been gone through is the subject of a maklokus
between Rav and Shmuel in the Yerushalmi as brought by the Kesef Mishna
there on the Rambam (who quotes Tosphos in Kiddushin) with the Rambam
poskening like Rav (because in such matters we posken like Rav over
Shmuel).  However, the Kesef Mishna also brings the Smag who quotes the
Yerushalmi in Shabbas as having the maklokus between Rav and Rav
Yochanan (and as between Rav and Rav Yochanan, the halacha is like Rav
Yochanan) and therefore he poskens like Rav Yochanan. {note that the
Kesef Mishna goes on to give reasons why, based on the Bavli, it is
logical to posken like the Rambam).  Also though you should see the
Ramban on the pasuk (Devarim 21:11-13) who state after a long discussion
that the plain meaning of the text is that no relations at all are
permitted until after all the mourning period and the conversion occurs
(the Ramban also quotes the Yerushalmi dispute between Rav and Rav
Yochanan, although he suggests it is in Sanhedrin (and my Toras Chaim
says it is actually in Makos).

So according to these other meforshim, there is in fact no relations at
all on or anywhere near the battlefield, but the special allowance the
Torah makes in this circumstance where he sees her in a war situation is
to allow the man to marry her altogether if he can pursuade her to
convert (whereas in other circumstances he would not be able to).



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 06:54:13 -0500
Subject: Zemanin -- What time is it?

From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> Obviously, until relatively recently (the past few centuries), clocks
> did not exist.

Shmuel brings up a key point - something that I frequently pestered
others with during learning.  Whereas today many shuls have radio
controlled ("atomic") clocks and know the exact time to the very second
-- the historic roots of zemanim were formulated well before their was
such precision -- imagine living your life in a world without clocks.
Where ordinary people used the sun and stars for estimating the time --
and thus building "rules" based on such imprecise, casual estimation.

Try going for a few days without a watch, radio, etc., and see how close
you come when estimating the zemanim.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 53 Issue 74