Volume 54 Number 14
                    Produced: Wed Feb 21  5:45:28 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beit Din
         [Tuvia Lent]
Beit Din Experience (2)
         [Anonymous, Ari Trachtenberg]
Bris Milah, Shabbat and Tefillin
         [Brandon Raff]
Depression, Alcoholosm and Drugs
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Drug abuse (and depression) in the frum community
         [Sarah Beck]
Jewish sociology
         [Norman Miller]
Talking in Shule
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: <tlent3192@...> (Tuvia Lent)
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 14:52:41 -0500
Subject: Beit Din

> I have not checked Choshen Mishpat or any other sources, but doesn't
> the gemara say "eved loveh le'ish malveh", (the borrower is "enslaved"
> to the lender) and must go to his beit din?

In fact Shimon you are correct but only in cases that involve a case of a
borrower and lender and are in the same city. Check Hilchot Dayanus siman
14 sief One where  the Mechaber gives a lengthy dissertation on where the
beit Din is convened and for the most part the concept of "eved Loveh" is
upheld. for instance if the town has a local beit din only the lender can
ask that the case be heard to a Beit Din Hagadol which is loosely
translated as a more competent Beit din. However the Ramah in the same
seif says that nowadays when the level of scholarship has deteriorated
compared to previous generations no one gets the upper hand and the case
is judged locally. When they live in diferent towns then the Ramah citing
the Maharik says the borrower is not a slave and the claimant must come
to the borrowwers towns beit din

Rabbi Doctor Tuvia Lent 


From: Anonymous
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 23:11:06
Subject: Re: Beit Din Experience

From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
> In reply to anonymous re: Beit Din Experience
> I cannot understand why any comments should be published anonymously
> however all your readers should know as a principle of Jewish Law that
> whoever is summoned to a Beit Din has the right to chose which Beit Din
> the case is heard in. That is to say the Nitan (defendant) not the To'en
> (applicant) choses which Bet Din. This is very important when there is
> more than one Bet Din in town or if one is invited to appear in an
> out-of-town Beit Din

I am post anonymously because I don't want to get into another Beit Din
or a war with local Rabbonim.  They made my life a living ---- for the
better part of a year with threats to excommunicate me coming just
before several Yom Tovim as we worked out procedural issues for the Beit

The problem is the Rabbi running the Beit Din had no interest in
halacha.  He had a grudge against me for years and another major Rabbi
in town was supporting the plaintiff.

The Beit Din situation in America is broken.  Remember I am saying this
as someone who won his case at the end of the day.  There is nothing to
assure that local Rabbis who set up Beit Din's have the knowledge,
expertise or integrity to do so.  The Rabbi who represented me in the
process told me this is the case in areas such as where I live outside
of the NY area and it even exists in many parts of NY.  However in areas
where I live it is worse because I don't have a choice of Beit Din and
when I spoke to people such with Beit Din's outside of the area (such as
Rabbi Broyde on this list) I was told they could not intervene in a
local Beit Din even if it violated halacha.

It's a big issue.  I have financial issues that I am considering the
need to go to court with other Jews.  I have the problem that I know it
is ossur to do so (see Rashi in the beginning of this weeks Parsha) yet
I can't use the local Beit Din.  If I try to use another one the
respondents could simply choose the local Beit Din which I know is
against me. (And with I have a current financial dispute dating back to
the previous din Torah) So I am in a catch 22 where the only way to
follow halacha is to give up my rights to a legal or halachic forum for
my monetary losses.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 10:11:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Beit Din Experience

> From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
> That is to say the Nitan (defendant) not the To'en (applicant) choses
> which Bet Din. This is very important when there is more than one Bet
> Din in town or if one is invited to appear in an out-of-town Beit Din

  ... and if there is only one Bet Din?

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


From: Brandon Raff <Brandon@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 13:11:23 +0200
Subject: Bris Milah, Shabbat and Tefillin

I remember reading sometime back that everyday a [male] Yid always has
two "Otot" [sing. "Ot" - "sign"] testifying to the Covenant between
Hashem and the Jewish People. These "Otot" being Bris Milah, Shabbat and
Tefillin (cf: Bereishit 17:11; Devarim 6:8; Shemot 31:17). One of the
"Otot" is always Bris Milah. The second "Ot" is Shabbos, and in its
place (during the week) Tefillin.

My question then is: if for reasons beyond his control (ie health
reasons etc) a man could not have a bris, would he be required to wear
tefillin on Shabbos?



From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 14:59:27 -0500
Subject: Depression, Alcoholosm and Drugs

Frank Silberman and Russel Handel have written very eloquenlty about how
foolish and illogical it is for anyone to attempt to deal with anxiety
or depression through drugs or alcohol.  There is a much more sensible
way -- prayer, development of self worth through actual accomplishments
such as doing chessed, and so on.  How can a thinking and sensible
person even begin the road to substance abuse when he or she know how
damaging it can be?

What they have written is indeed true, and would deter any healthy
person.  Drug and alcohol abusers, however, are NOT healthy people.
They are ill.

Most drug abusers and just about all alcohol abusers have a disease.
These diseases interfere with their ability to think logically -- or at
least -- to act logically.

I am not an alcoholic (B"H) nor am I a drug abuser.  Therefore I cannot
understand how an intelligent alcoholic thinks.  It makes no sense to
me.  But -- that is because I have been spared from his or her illness.
I assure all of you that I have my own problems (I won't tell you what
they are) and that I think and act illogically regarding other matters.
Yes -- over the years I try to overcome these problems, but I do
recognize that even though I have a Ph.D. this in no way makes me immune
to foolishness -- even on a continual basis.

Andrew D. Goldfinger


From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 19:47:08 -0500
Subject: Drug abuse (and depression) in the frum community

Shalom aleichem!

Normally I don't care for "amen corner" or personal-testimony posts, but
I wanted to echo Mark Symons' observations in his reply to Russell
J. Hendel. I am putting my name and (thumbnail) story out here because I
think it is important to stand and be counted.

My wonderful stepfather came into my life when I was seven years old,
and it is because of him and his family (all Jewish) that I converted
when I was nineteen. Unfortunately, during this decade or so of warm,
loving, (and very "healing") family life, I also became depressed, and I
battled suicidal thoughts from about age 11 until age 21, when I
attempted suicide and finally persuaded myself to go to the doctor.

I am careful to insert a bit of background about my stepfather and the
positive role Judaism played _throughout_ my childhood and adolescence
so that people do not jump to conclusions about converts, spiritual
seekers, and mental problems.

During college, when my depressive symptoms intensified, as they often
do at that age, I also became frum, not as a therapeutic measure, but
because I wanted a watertight conversion. "Ki eshmera Shabbat--el
yishmereni," I told myself. "If you truly were able to imagine even the
smallest fraction of what Moshe experienced at the burning bush, Sarah,
you would be able to overcome these weaknesses of character." I also
constantly reminded myself of what Socrates says about suicide--we don't
belong to ourselves, we belong to God. Ultimately I am still here
because I couldn't do that to my mother. And certainly I davened and
learned my share during those dark years.

As for chesed, I worked like a field hand, but without pay, managing the
dining hall of the Young Israel House at Yale, and was frankly exploited
by professional Hillel staff who didn't want the responsibility or
expense of doing my work and a community of young returnees from yeshiva
who felt virtuous in creating a discouraging experience for converts. If
I had spent even a fraction of those fifteen hours a week with a good
psychiatrist, I might not have hit bottom the way that I did.

Baruch hashem, I started to get better at around age 23, and now I have
only an episode or two a year, which is more or less the norm for people
with recurrent major depressive disorder.

For my recovery I am indebted to my psychologist, Dr. Jerry Zeitchik, a
Litvak and a Y.U. graduate, and Dr. Irene Gurvits, my prescribing
Dr.. Dr. Zeitchik can be found at the Ramaz Upper School and Dr.
Gurvits is at 212-874-5400. Gurvits is not religious herself, but she is
Russian Israeli, so she knows the drill and is fully accepting of frum
concerns. I highly recommend them both.

As for what the Rambam would have thought--a line of speculation I like
even less than what the Rav would have thought--I will say only that the
Rambam was a physician by trade who also studied the soul (he psuche, as
in psychology) and causation.

Kol tuv,
Sarah Beck


From: Norman Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 23:32:24 -0500
Subject: Jewish sociology

As a sociologist I would like to remind readers of this list that there
is no such thing as Jewish sociology, any more than there is Jewish
physics or Jewish geometry.  The proper term is 'sociology of Jews'.

Noyekh Miller


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 20:19:14 -0500
Subject: Talking in Shule

I have one open objection to my initial posting encouraging talking in
shule (at certain permissable points in the davening). I suggested that
AYN CAYLOKAYNU was a good time to perform certain socialization (invite
people over for shabbath, network for jobs, shidduchim etc.).

At least two people objected--they cited the Code of Jewish law 151:2
which states "A shule should have sanctity--hence no levity,
lightheadedness, or idle chatter." On the words "idle chatter" the MB
151:2 states "Even work."

I could answer this theoretically but instead I will answer it by
telling what happened today, Feb 15, 2007 in my synagogue. My car tires
were stuck in ice so I had to walk to shule. During Shmoneh Esray i
prayed that I should be able to get my car out.

Because I prayed, during the Mi Shebayrachs after leining (i explained
that after leining we go to town in our synagogue blessing sick people
and the 3 captured soldiers) BECAUSE I HAD PRAYED IN MY SHMONEH ESRAY it
was on my mind so I mentioned to the cantor that my car was in the snow.

"I'll give you a lift to work." I said "No I need my car." He said "I
will help you get your car out." Note I dont consider this idle
chatter---after all what better place to have your prayers answered then
in the shule itself.

Because I had to wait for the cantor I had to stay till the very end of
services. The Rabbi (as many Rabbis do) gives a short Dvar Torah (Torah
thought). He prefaced his remarked by stating "I thank all people who
came to morning minyan in the cold---it is so cold that even the
penguins are flying to Florida"

Hmm....Would this qualify as "levity" Certainly appears like it. But the
Rabbi's intention was to maintain the minyan.

Next the Rabbi recited some laws. He stated that if you come to shule
late you should START at YISHTABACh so you can pray shmoneh esray with
the congregation. I uttered "I follow that frequently here (because I
come late)" The Rabbi looked at me blankly, said nothing and continued.

Was I guilty of levity. Hardly. I just wanted to point out that this is
not just another law in the code of Jewish law but something everyone
should follow.

The cantor took me to my car helped remove my ice...suggsted I ask help
from a tow truck person in my complex who was helping other people. To
make a long story short my prayers were answered.

Why have I gone to such length: Because I want to emphasize what is
prohibited. What is prohibited in Shule is e.g. a) a discussion by a
programmer of how to write a program b) asking stock tips c) watching a
comedy show on your blackberry.

But the jokes and sporadic conversations we have in shule are usually
well intentioned and reflect "serious" purposes.  The purpose of shule
law is not to bound and gag us but make us serious. This should be the
guiding principle

I already mentioned in a similar vein talking about hair dressors in the
women's section: If someone has problems with her marriage she may not
want to ask anyone advice even in confidence. But she doesnt mind having
a casual conversation with her girl friends on hair dressores. AYN
CAYLOKAYNU is an ideal time.

I am trying to not only answer those who criticize me but conceptually
focus on the root idea...the root idea is what I cited from the
Rav...the shule is our house with God is an honored guess...sure we have
to be serious....but we should not be gagged. There is no explicit
statement that we have to be gagged and there is room to interpret as I

And as I have cited the BEER HETEV in the name of the BACH with all the
Mishebayrachs we make we certainly are in the clear to talk on the side.
In fact...151:2 **explicitly** prohibits doing "calculations including
charitable calucations"---in other words a mi shebayrach with an amount
is prohibited.

Let us stop playing with each other...these laws dont prohibit sporadic
things...they prohibit organized activities...like watching tv shows,
reading novels, or asking help in writing programs--it is this which you
cant do in a shule

Hope this clarifies this...and if by chance you are in Baltimore and are
in one of my shules feel free to walk over during ayn chaylokaynu and
itnroduce yourself (without guilt)

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 54 Issue 14