Volume 53 Number 82
                    Produced: Tue Jan 16  4:49:58 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kavod Harav
         [Chana Luntz]
Rabbis assisting women
         [Chana Luntz]
Smoking and R. Feinstein's tshuvah
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
Tikkun Hasot
         [Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 07:19:28 -0000
Subject: Kavod Harav

 Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...> writes:

> I am wondering about the parameters and applications of the 
> principle of kavod harav, which tends to get tossed about 
> quite a bit, typically as an attack on people expressing 
> displeasure with authority figures in the observant community 
> over some act/statement/psak/or lack thereof. 
>  ...
> With all that has gone 
> on in the past few years with regard to allegations and 
> proven instances of abuse, it would seem likely that someone 
> has performed and published a comprensive analysis of the 
> principle . . . if anyone has some references I'd be much indebted.

Well I would suggest that you start with the Encyclopedia Talmudit entry
under Kavod Chachamim volume 26 (there is also a separate entry under
Kavod Rabo, but that is mostly dealing with the kavod appropriate and
required vis a vis one's particular rav, while what I think you are
discussing here is the kavod appropriate for a chacham or talmid chacham
who is not in fact your particular rav).  As you can understand, it
would be quite a task for me to summarise a piece that runs from page
566 to page 670 but you will find a wealth of citations and information

> I find myself wondering if at times in my intolerance for what I
> perceive to be fundamentally incorrect or illogical positions, I do
> not cross the line into transgression of this principle. The general
> framework under which I operate is (1) kavod harav derives from kavod
> hatorah and is thus not a function of a semicha certificate hanging on
> a wall but rather upon possession of Torah knowledge

The Encyclopedia Talmudit on page 567 cites the source of the mitzvah as
indeed being derived from the mitvah to give kavod to the torah, but
also perhaps from the mitzvah requirement in the torah vis a vis the
"zaken" (usually translated as elderly) which can be identified with the
chacham and also the requirement to give kavod to those who fear Hashem.

> (and thus a demonstration of patently faulty Torah knowledge is
> sufficient from removing the protective halo of kavod harav ); and

On page 588 et seq, the Encyclopedia Tamudit discusses the question as
to whether the concept applies bzman hazeh [today] or only to the
chachamim of the talmud.  As noted there, there are some rishonim who
hold that today [ie in the times of the rishonim] there were no longer
chachamim who could be considered sufficiently knowledgeable for the
concept to apply.  According to these Rishonim, in order to qualify for
kavod chachamim, a rav must be one whom if they ask questions on a dvar
halacha in any place, ie tha tbey must be baki in all of the Talmud,
mikrei, mishna, halacha, agadata, sifra v'sifire (and that nobody in
that generation could be considered to qualify).  Those rishonim that
hold this way explain those sources which say Yiftach b'doro k'Shmuel
b'doro [Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation] that
this is davka that one needs to listen to the gadol hador and to his
psak, but not in relation to the matter of kovod talmid chacham.

> (2) kavod harav must clearly be balanced against other halachic principles
> and communal needs (e.g., it appears that most if not all contemporary
> poskim would agree that kavod harav takes a back seat to more pressing
> principles in cases of, for instance, child abuse).

On page 581 there is a discussion about a talmid chacham that does not
act in a kosher way [sheaino noheg kashura]- k'derech talmidei chachamim
sheholchim b'nachas im habrios uma'asim u'masnam imahrm b'emuna [as is
the way of talmid chachamim to act peacefully with people and to deal
with them faithfully] and if a talmid chacham does not act in this way,
then, states the Encyclopedia Talmudit, there is no obligation in his
kavod as he himself disgraces himself and his torah.

There is also a classic statement of the gemora (discussed in the
Encyclopedia Talmudit under the heading of Kavod Rabo on page 681) "kol
makom she'yesh chilul Hashem ain cholkin kavod l'rav" [in any place in
which there is a chillul Hashem (desecration of Hashem's name)we are not
concerned about kavod harav [See Brochas 19b, Eruvin 63a, Sanhedrin 82a,
Shavuos 30b)].  As to what constitutes Chillul Hashem, see the
Encyclopedia Talmidit entry under Chillul Hashem in volume 15.



From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 20:11:26 -0000
Subject: Re: Rabbis assisting women

SBA <sba@...> writes: 
> However, as far as I could ascertain, at least beloshon 
> Chazal it refers to life and death matters
> Sotah 21b clearly states that it refers to a person who won't 
> save a drowning woman whilst the Yerushalmi (Sotah) gives 
> that 'title' to one who sees a drowning child and says that 
> he must first remove his tefilin.
> I see also that the KSA [92:1] uses it regarding a choleh 
> mesukan who refuses non-kosher medicine

But I am not sure how much that helps you.  After all, causing
embarressment in public is likened by Chazal to the spilling of blood
(see eg Baba Metzia 58b). And in fact a significant body of rishonim and
achronim consider this to fall into the category of yarog v'al ya'avor
[be killed rather than violate] based on the actions of Tamar in the
Chumash and upon the statement derived from this in Baba Metzia 59a (and
elsewhere) that it is better to be thrown into a fiery furnace than to
shame one's fellow in public.  So if somebody is considered a chassid
shoteh because he will not save a life, how much more so if because of
his actions he is considered by Chazal to have murdered.

Somebody (I think on another list) told a story apparently about Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (RSZA).  The story goes that a talmid of RSZA saw
him get on a bus from a stop that was not his usual stop.  RSZA
explained that he had been on a previous bus and a woman who was not
modestly dressed had sat down next to him.  He did not feel he was able
to keep sitting there, but in order not to cause her embarressment in
thinking he was standing up just because she had sat down, he got off
the next stop (to make her think that was what he intended to do all
along) which is why he was now getting on a subsequent bus. [There is
more to the story, but this is enough for our purposes].  The comment of
the person telling the story was "this is how an adam gadol behaves".
Now no question RSZA was an adam gadol, but arguably this particular
action was not so much that of an adam gadol but of a straightforward
analysis of the halacha.  Embarressing somebody is, as mentioned above,
considered in the category of murder (the only particular aspect of psak
that RSZA might be deemed to be adding is that this is true even if we
are talking about an improperly dressed chiloni woman).  Not sitting
next to a woman would seem at most to be a chumra (to prevent against
the staring that is the issur) - if the practice of a chumra is going to
cause you to be over on an issur d'orisa considered equivalent to
murder, and one where many commentators hold that in fact you should
give up your life rather than violate, then chassid shoteh seems rather
a mild term to use.



From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 21:41:32 -0500
Subject: Smoking and R. Feinstein's tshuvah

Joel Rich wrote (in part):

> With regard to your question on other topics, I agree with your
> general take but feel intellectual honesty requires that I clarify
> that Rabbi Feinstein's position on smoking might, in fact, remain
> unchanged today.  He issued two response on the issue - one in the
> 1964 (Y"D 2:49) and one in the 1981(C"M 2:76).  The one in the 1960s
> was fairly short, but the one in the 1980s was somewhat more
> extensive.  If I understand the 1980 response correctly (and I have to
> admit, as an actuary, I've puzzled over it a number of times and would
> really appreciate anyone else's insights on this response), his
> formulation seems to be that smoking falls into a category of
> activities that are not formally prohibited, but it would be good
> advice to stay away from (much like eating too much transfat, etc.).
> This is because he states most people are not injured by these types
> of activities and that even though there are many people in the
> hospital or injured, it is a minority and, therefore, you can rely on
> Shomer Ptaim.  As an actuary, I'm not sure how this translates
> practically.  I have to believe that by the 1980s there was an
> awareness that if we grouped all smokers in one group and non-smokers
> in another group and did a random study that smokers have a shorter
> life expectancy.  I'm not sure you could ever prove that the majority
> of smokers "die" from smoking.  My point is that the normal case of a
> dangerous activity the results are fairly quickly seen whereas here,
> that is not the case and while we can show it statistically, we may
> not be able to show that the majority of people who smoke die from
> causes directly related to their smoking.  Having said all that, he
> then clearly says that it is best to not become addicted to smoking,
> but then again he says it is best not to have any addictions (taavot).
> For what it is worth, the Tzitz Eleiezer, very clearly prohibits
> smoking as does the RCA though they are less clear on the transition.
> Rav Ovadia takes the position that it is not forbidden but it's a good
> idea not to.

>From Joel's summary, I was concerned over the apparent emphasis in
Joel's description on the 50% point: if a majority will die from their
smoking, it can be banned by halakhah, but not if it is a minority.  I
do not think that there is a major difference between a 49.9% rate and a
50.1% rate in halakhah (or in secular public policy either, for that

I have checked the text of the 1981 responsum and have concluded that
R. Feinstein's argument did not rely on an arbitrary cut-off point.
While he refers to information that smoking causes lung cancer, which
was well known by 1981, he states that the chances of becoming ill are
"rak miut katan" [only a small minority] and, again, "katan byoter"
[extremely small].  He also refers to the "rova derova" [large majority]
who do not suffer any serious illness from their smoking.  While he does
not say precisely how large the risk would have to be to justify a
halakhic ban, he clearly feels that the evidence does not support
anything close to such a rate and is in the range of risks that people
accept from other activities, such as food, etc.  He does go on to say
that smoking does not have any benefits for those not already addicted
and states very strongly that people who do not smoke should not start

>From the point of view of current scientific knowledge, I see two
problems with this argument.

First, as Joel notes, R. Feinstein did not seem to be aware that
chemical exposures can cause serious diseases that are not clinically
detectable until decades after the exposure.  (I knew that in 1981, but
I would not expect someone who is not trained in the science to be aware
of it.)  This is actually quite common.  In the case of chemicals
causing cancer, for example, our (simplified) understanding is that when
a series of specific changes in the DNA of a cell occurs, it becomes a
cancer cell.  The chemical in question may cause a change that is early
in the series, but there will not be any clinical cancer until the rest
of the changes occur, which could take many years.  Thus, there are many
smokers who have been smoking for, say, 10 or 20 years with no problem,
but who will develop serious illnesses in another 20 or 30 years.

Second, we now have evidence that the chance that a long-term smoker
will die as a result of his habit is much larger than was previously
expected.  The British Doctors Study by the late Sir Richard Doll and
colleagues published the 50 year mortality experience of their cohort in
2004.  This was the study that clearly established that smoking causes
lung cancer and other effects in their 1954 report.  Analyzing the
current data, the authors conclude that, among various groups about
50-75% of long-term smokers will eventually die from diseases caused by
their addiction.  (The paper is available on the Web at
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7455/1519 The full citation is
Doll R, et al., "Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years'
observations on male British doctors."  BMJ. 2004 Jun

Surely, this is a high enough mortality rate for anyone.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 18:45:59 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Tikkun Hasot

Visit a Sefaradi Beit Knesset during Selihot season, and see Tikkun
Hasot before the pre-dawn Selihot. I do know simple people who say it
during the year. Its time is from halachic midnight until dawn (amud
hashahar). If you do to sleep late or awake early, it poses no
problem. Also, the main nusah is shorter than some of the printed
ones. There are 2 parts - tikkun Rahel and tikkun Leah. Tikkun Rahel is
not said on non tahnun days, omer days, after the molad but not yet Rosh
Hodesh (ie - this thursday night), and during the shemitta year, but
only in Israel. Tikkun Leah is not said on Shabbat & Holidays, and Hol
Hamoed Pesah. On Tisha B'av only Tikkun Rahel is said.


End of Volume 53 Issue 82