Volume 53 Number 79
                    Produced: Sun Jan 14 22:14:54 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Card Swipe Keys in Residential Facilities (4)
         [Janice Gelb, Ari Trachtenberg, Kenneth B Posy, Harvey Sukenic]
Kattan saying kaddish
         [Yossi Berlin]
Measuring time (2)
         [Carl Singer, Joseph Ginzberg]
Tikkun Chatzot
         [Yisrael Medad]
What do people with apartments and no eruv do nowadays?
         [Stephen Colman]
What time is it?
         [Elliott Hershkowitz]
Zemanim - Atomic Clocks
         [Dov Teichman]
Zemanin -- What time is it?
         [Tom Buchler]


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2007 02:45:44 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Card Swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

Ephraim Tabory <tabore@...> wrote:
> 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.

A friend's solution to this problem is to enter an elevator with more
than one person on it and ask "Is <floor number> pressed?" If a person
near the keypad interprets his request for information as a request to
press the number if it is not already pressed, that's not his fault :->

In terms of technology creeping over us, I encountered another obstacle
just last week: escalators that save energy by running more slowly until
you step onto them and break an invisible sensor beam. The beam is not
at all noticeable and had it not been for my friend pointing it out to
me, I would never have realized how it worked.

-- Janice

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 09:36:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Card Swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

> From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> 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?

I repeat from my earlier comment to mail-jewish (53:16):

 >Rabbis Broyde and Jachter in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary
 >Society (I believe 21:4-47) wrote in the name of Rabbi Auerbach:

 >"In my opinion there is no prohibition [to use electricity] on Shabbat
 >or Yom Tov ... (However, I [Rabbi Auerbach] am afraid that the masses
 >will err and turn on incandescent lights ... and thus do not permit
 >electricity absent great need...) ... the key point in my opinion is
 >that there is no prohibition to use electricity on Shabbat unless
 >... causes a prohibited act like cooking or starting a flame."

Rav Auerbach might be a da'at yachid [single opinion] on the matter, but
he is also the most scientifically knowledgeable opinion I've seen on
this matter.

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

From: Kenneth B Posy <kbposy@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 11:01:37 -0500
Subject: Re: Card Swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

Although I lived off campus at the time, and even when I lived on campus
never spent a shabbos in the dorms, when I was at Yale University in the
mid-1990's, the university renovated in centuries old facilities to
install electronic locks across the campus.  Led by a united group of
Orthodox and non-Orthodox Hillel student and professional leadership,
the local orthodox rabbi, and some very involved Orthodox grad student,
the University administration amicably, if a bit reluctantly at first,
worked out a solution that as far as I know continues to be in place

 Each dorm has as "shabbos door" where students are provided keys and
that are not attached to the , that they could check out at the
beginning of the semester. The flexibility of the University in the end
was such that one of the shabbos gates was a tradition gate that was
only used to walk through at Commencement.

To the point made by an attorney about University's "paskening" for
their students, I seem to recall a story about the Kosher Kitchen
student president, meeting with the University (Jewish) president or
Provost (also Jewish) about- "when will you people figure out that
electricity is not fire?"  But with credit to the University, the local
Rav, Rabbi Michael Whitman, and all parties involved, the situation was
resolved and the University expanded a commitment to ushering in what is
today a Golden Age for orthodox Jewish life at Yale.  Another big issue
for college students, btw, is Yom Tov classes and shabbos finals, where
Yale has an amazingly accommodating policy- free makeups, no
restrictions attached.

However, to the point of another poster, Yale only recently had an eruv-
meaning that it wasn't just the electronic keys that were a problem!
While observant students had differing approaches to tying keys to them,
the fundamental method employed was called "tailgating"- and fellow
students were almost uniformly cooperative. One of the halachik issues
discussed with the adoption of the electronic keys was the issue of
asking a non-Jew to a task for you on Shabbos, or not even a non Jew, as
Yale was about 30% Jewish...

Betzalel Posy

From: Harvey Sukenic <hsukenic@...>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 19:03:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Card Swipe Keys in Residential Facilities

I usually just lurk on the list but I decided to post on this issue.
This is not just an issue for dorms. My parents live in a senior complex
on the JCC campus in the Detroit suburbs.  In their building the locks
to the building are laser locks.  The few residents who are shomer
shabbat can on request get a regular key that opens one door but there
is no eruv so this brings up the issue of carrying the key.  When I
visit over Shabbat or hagim I have to have one of my parents wait at the
entrance to open the door for me if I go out to schul or take a walk.
There is one apartment complex on the JCC campus that has an Orthodox
minyan with an Orthodox rabbi serving as chaplain.  If the rabbi wants
to visit anyone in my parent's building on Shabbat or hagim he has to
make arrangements for someone to let him in.

About 2 months ago my rabbi spoke about the fact that a number of large
apartment buildings in Brookline have installed motion sensors to
control the lights in the halls.  He has spoken with those living in
these apartments about the halachic issues involved and is working on
trying to get the motion sensors shut down on Shabbat and hagim.

Harvey Sukenic
Brookline, MA


From: Yossi Berlin <yberlin@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2007 12:43:44 +0100
Subject: Kattan saying kaddish

I recently visited a shul in Europe which follows the German ashkenazic
traditions of Rav Hirsch from Frankfurt and most probably is very
similar in their customs to KAJ in NY.

On Friday night, after Lechah Dodi, a family of mourners were introduced
and they entered as would normally be the case. Amongst the mourners
was a young boy, no more than 8 or 9.

This shul has the tradition that only one individual says kaddish at a
time and will walk to the front of the shul and stand next to the amud,
along side the shilach tsibbir when saying kaddish.

And at the end of kabbalat shabbat, there was a mourners kaddish and the
young boy said it. This struck me as odd as I have never seen a katton
say kaddish before. 

I was also stuck by the obvious tragedy of such a young boy being in
such a position as to say kaddish. Perhaps my experience is limited but
I have never seen it before.

If we can for a moment put aside our obvious concern that such a loss
should befall so young a boy, can a katton fulfill this role?
Especially at this shul given their custom, the kaddish-sayer truly does
assume the role of the shilach tsibbur. I speculated at the time that
since this was "merely" kabbalat shabbat and not a "real" service
perhaps it didn't "count".

In any event, next morning, during shabbos, both at shacharis and musaf,
this same young boy was saying kaddish.

I am curious as to whether this is a usual custom of a yekkish shul or
whether this is more broadly observed and until now I have been
fortunate as so to not see a situation in which a katton would have to
say kaddish to a lost father.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:05:03 -0500
Subject: Measuring time

From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>

> 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,"
> [snip]

I recall in the Flinstone cartoons, some people wore sundials on their
wrists.  It still remains that the ordinary (mobile?) lay person had no
precise way to know what time it was.  The measurement, as Mike points
out, can be done with relative precision -- but we must consider how one
acted given that they didn't individually have a precise idea of the
time.  Again, "I think it's getting dark, I better daven mincha."  What
did waiting 72 minutes or 6 hours (meat to milk) mean in a society
without generally available, accurate time reference.  What did one do
on a cloudy day?

From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 10:35:34 -0500
Subject: Measuring time

> 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.
> Carl Singer

FWIW- I donated a computerized clock, which I had ordered from Israel,
to the local "shteebel".  This is a lovely shul, kind and friendly,
epitomizing the best of their breed, but their relationship to time is
extremely dubious- they always daven incredibly late.

Turns out that the clock has shki'a off by one or two minutes,depending
on the day, from what appears on the printed Luach z'manim.  Think that
because they pretty much ignore the time, this wouldn't be an issue?

Think again!
Yossi Ginzberg


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2007 00:24:01 +0200
Subject: Tikkun Chatzot

Eitan wrote:
>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.

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

well, the practice was very popular with Chassidic sects and, presumably
still is.  and here in Israel, many "lost" customs are being revived,
probably due to a general upsurge in Kabbalistic influences.  so,
nothing was lost and much survived.  there are at least two editions of
special collections of Tikkun Chatzot prayers, mine is from 2001.


From: <stephencolman2@...> (Stephen Colman)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 07:16:58 -0500
Subject: Re: What do people with apartments and no eruv do nowadays?

What do people with apartments and no eruv do nowadays?

Why is this a problem ? What is wrong with a shabbos belt ? Here in NW
London, everybody wears a shabbos belt, which can take up to 3 keys (or
even more). The belt is made specifically for this purpose and fulfills
all halachic requirements. There are other alternatives, such a key made
into a tie-clip, which is worn as an adornement, similar to a cufflink,
(although, of course, this will not work for Chassidim who don't wear



From: <eeh43@...> (Elliott Hershkowitz)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:49:23 -0500
Subject: What time is it?

 One of the simplest answers is that the zmanim are not all "clock"
dependent.  The author of one of the most respected, calculated tables
in recent time, Rabbi Premock, has a warning on the top of each monthly
page.  He tells you that the times are calculated for normal temperature
and pressure (NTP).  That we have lost the mesorah for determing the
right moment and are forced to depend on the clock is another problem.
Hence, we have reduced the differences between the MA and the Gr'a to
clock minute rather than seasonal minutes.

Elliott Hershkowitz


From: <dtnla@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 12:57:38 -0500
Subject: Zemanim - Atomic Clocks

Remember the days when there used to be arguments in Shul about whos
watch is correct to determine when to start davening?  I think those
Atomic clocks have done alot to increase peace in Shul.

Dov Teichman


From: Tom Buchler <tbuchler@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 10:22:17 -0500
Subject: Re: Zemanin -- What time is it?

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> Try going for a few days without a watch, radio, etc., and see how
> close you come when estimating the zemanim.

I moved to Florida 13 years ago and stopped wearing a watch. It forced
me to pay close attention to astronomical signs -- particularly the
position of the sun, length of shadows, amount and direction of light in
the sky, degree of cloud cover. I'd hesitate to extrapolate to others,
however I think you'd be surprised how close one can get with sufficient

(Heavy overcast and storm conditions can make estimation of shkiah and
three stars challenging, but then that's what fences are for.)

Shabbat Shalom,


End of Volume 53 Issue 79