Volume 53 Number 76
                    Produced: Fri Jan 12  6:37:26 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Back of the Bus
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Bar Ilan Responsa in Linux
         [Alan Rubin]
Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities (7)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Harvey Lieber, Ephraim Tabory, Bill
Coleman, Art Sapper, Ari Trachtenberg, Bernard Raab]
         [Michael Poppers]
Measuring Time
         [Michael Gerver]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 20:48:41 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Back of the Bus

Ari Trachtenberg asserts that segregating people by sex is a halachic
issue, and that the right Sarah Beck asserts not to be segregated is
non-halachic.  Sarah concedes the point.  I wonder if she did so too

Question: assuming, arguendo, that charedi rabbis have concluded that
men and women may not sit together on buses, and that men may not sit in
the front (and as Meir Shinnar has pointed how, there is no evidence of
this).  What in the halacha gives men the right to insist that women not
sit next to them on public buses and sit in the back?  In other words,
what in the halacha gives men (or their rabbis) the right to impose that
conclusion on Jews who are not willing to accept it, to attempt to
coerce those Jews (even verbally) to abide by it, particularly Jews who
are not in their communities?


From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 23:07:25 +0000
Subject: Bar Ilan Responsa in Linux

Bit of a geeky question here.

Has anyone managed to get the Bar Ilan CD to run under Linux? I have got
it working by running virtual XP under vmware but I would rather have it
working under wine. I have installed it and mapped the CD drive to d:
but when I try and run the program I get the message "Please insert
original CD" The original CD is inserted and mounted.




From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 06:00:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

I am going to assume that you checked the mj archives for the discussion
of electronic key locks in hotels that you held a while ago.  You also
did not specify whether or not a light changed on the lock (such as red
to green).  You also did not bring up the eruv problem.  Having been in
a house for many years (and in Baltimore with an eruv) I do not know
what students do about living in an area without an eruv.  How do they
lock their dorm door and what do they do with the key?  When I was at
YU, one could carry one's key inside the dorm an leave it in the
(combination lock) mailbox.

What do people with apartments and no eruv do nowadays?

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

From: Harvey Lieber <tlieber@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 23:57:43 -0500
Subject: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

This issue is of concern not only to college students but to any
observant person who stays in a hotel over Shabbat.  Few hotels today
offer or are set up for keys.

    A while back I posed this same question but the only response was
that I should ask the hotel desk for assistance.

     My personal solution has been to tape over the locking mechanism
and to do it in a way that is not easily noticed.   However,  putting
your wallet and valuables in a room safe or downstairs at the desk is
the only way to protect your stuff.

Tsvi Lieber

From: Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 13:50:08 +0200
Subject: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

No solution suggested- just to add to the question:

Does an arrangement with hotel staff to accompany one to one's room on
Shabbat and holidays and open the door (and lights, since the card might
have to be inserted into the master control) create more problems than
it solves (or different problems, or is it just a problem in itself)? If
I am not mistaken, asking a person who is himself/herself not forbidden
to perform such acts to do so on Shabbat is problematic. (One hotel I
stayed in in Israel had some staff on weekends walk around with a tag
that said "goy shel Shabbat." These persons really seemed to know the
rules - telling people in the elevators to state out loud the floors on
which they were residing, rather than "ask" the goyim (hopefully goyim?)
to take them to their floor. This so impressed some guests that they
suggested these people take on overtime during the week and work as the
mashgiach kashrut.)

From: Bill Coleman <wbcoleman@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 06:32:01 -0600
Subject: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

My daughter attended Princeton University, which has a residential key
card system, but which has implemented an extraordinary solution.

At Princeton the system is controlled by a central computer which is
programmed, upon request on a building-by-building basis, to turn off
for ten minutes each each hour during shabbat.  The shutoff schedule is
known in advance, so shomrei shabbat students can time their entry to
avoid being locked out.  Less than fifty observant students attend
Princeton at any one time.  I find the university's willingness to take
the trouble, and to compromise security, for these students almost

From: <asapper@...> (Art Sapper)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:44:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

       Several years ago, I received just such an inquiry from a client
of mine, also a major university.  After assuring the university that
the students' protests about violations of Jewish law were genuine, I
made several inquiries of rabbeim familiar with the issue and of experts
in university security and housing.  I found that the situation is much
more complicated than one might expect, and that unexpected
ramifications would pop up every way one turned.  I found also that much
depends on the precise characteristics of the security system in use
(for example, I found that a certain Canadian swipe card system posed
special problems and that the company was unreceptive to inquiries on
the matter) and that the internal layout of the dormitories could affect
the answer, not to mention whether the campus had an eruv.  More
importantly, after consulting with a rabbi, we concluded that it would
not be proper to provide to the university a statement of the principles
of Jewish law involved, as we should not imply that non-Jews could
posken for Jews, or tempt the university to try.

        So I assured the university that the students' protests about
violations of Jewish law were genuine, and advised that it should
approach the students involved, ask for the name of a rabbi whose ruling
they would follow in such matters (such as the Hillel rabbi on that
campus), and inquire of that rabbi -- not the students themselves --
what would be acceptable in the circumstances of that particular campus.

       As I said above, I concluded that I should not provide to the
university itself a statement of the principles of Jewish law involved,
as I would not have non-Jews trying to posken for Jews or tempt them to
do so.  For this reason, I do not see the point of providing the
university any piskei halacha on the issue or even a summary of them.

                             Art Sapper

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 10:23:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

There are many factors that will actually make these kinds of issues
become intolerable in the foreseeable future without rabbinic
intervention.  Foundations such as the National Science Foundation have
been investing huge sums into sensor research, and this will very
quickly be starting to make its way into the commercial market, for

* video cameras already canvas every major city and record all movement
(i.e.  your specific motion will result in different data being
recorded, potentially different lights/pixels being displayed on a
possibly prohibited medium).  Some of these cameras track motion to save
recoding time, or might turn on various lights in response to specific

* buildings increasingly employ motion and heat sensors to *precisely*
target lighting and heating to people in the building (i.e. you canot
really rely on "doubt" about whether the forbidden action will be
taken).  Location detection technology (whereby people will be required
to wear a device whose location can be pinpointed at any time) is
already available for commercialization.

* medical devices such as hearing aids (without a clear issue of danger
to life) increasingly utilize adaptive control systems.  It is not
unreasonable that your innocent comment or movement could directly
result in a prohibited melacha being carried out.

If the great rabbis of the generation do not develop answers to these
kinds of problems, I fear we risk the possibility of going the way of
the Amish and being completely isolated from society as a result.

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

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 17:24:52 -0500
Subject: Card swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

I have been warning about the inevitable proliferation of all sorts of
electronic detection and control devices in the pages of Mail Jewish,
and arguing for a more detailed and nuanced examination of the ban on
the use of (or more precisely 'control of') electricity in all its forms
on Shabbat. There have in fact been some fairly sweeping opinions in the
past that would mutar the use of many forms of electricity, i.e; by R.
S.Z. Auerbach, but he was a "yachid" in these matters and was
overwhelmed by the bulk of rabbinic opinion which took the easy way
out. I have even heard it argued that we have a "mesorah" which bans the
use of electricity on Shabbat. A practice which is less than a hundred
years old, however, should not qualify as mesorah.

I am sorry that my filing system is in such disarray that I cannot
produce the exact citation to R. Auerbach's position. Hopefully, one of
our more organized posters will do so, and we can get into a discussion
which might "shed some light" on the matter?

Bernie R.


From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 13:10:09 -0500
Subject: http://www.theshmuz.com

A member of my community alerted me to http://www.theshmuz.com .  I've
signed up and am currently listening to one of the Davening-category
shiurim -- solely based upon what I'm hearing, this site seems worth
recommending to y'all.  Enjoy!

Shabbas Shalom and all the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ, USA


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 15:14:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Measuring Time

Shmuel Himelstein writes, in v53n69,

      Obviously, until relatively recently (the past few centuries),
      clocks did not exist. I'd be interested in knowing how our modern
      times for Shkiah, etc., evolved, especially when there is a
      Yerushalayim Luach which fixes Hanetz to the 1/4 minute.

The Greeks and Romans had water clocks, and I assume the Jews used them
too. They could be calibrated every day, at least when the sky was
clear, with sundials. Sundials would have been accurate to within about
15 minutes, even without taking into account the "equation of time,"
that figure-8 thing, called an "analemma" which you sometimes see on the
sides of globes, in the middle of the Pacific ocean. If you do take it
into account account (and Ptolemy knew about it, and I think Hipparchus
as well), a sundial should be good to within about two minutes, the time
it takes for the sun to move its own diameter, in the sky. I'm not sure
how accurate water clocks were, but I would think they would be good to
within a few minutes, if they were calibrated every day. I know that in
Ptolemy's Babylonian eclipse data, the times were accurate to within
about 10 minutes, and I suppose this was done with water clocks, though
it might also have been done by measuring the positions of the stars.
That is how Ptolemy was able to calculate the mean time from one new
moon to the next (the same number used in the fixed Hebrew calendar that
we use today) to within about 0.1 seconds.

For things like plag hamincha and candlelighting, you can measure that
very accurately if you have a clear view of the western horizon, an
astrolabe, and an appropriate table for your latitude. Similarly, you
can judge pretty accurately when the sun is about to rise, if you have a
clear view of the eastern horizon.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


End of Volume 53 Issue 76