Volume 54 Number 15
                    Produced: Wed Feb 21  5:55:46 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Back to the back of the bus
Eilat not Halachikly Israel
         [Chana Luntz]
Pictures of Jerusalem Rally to Free Jonathan Pollard
         [Jacob Richman]
Shabbat on the Iranian Threat
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Smoking again
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
"That Dreaded Disease" (3)
         [Rabbi Wise, Carl Singer, Akiva Miller]


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 17:55:46 +1100
Subject: Re: Back to the back of the bus

From: Perets Mett
> ... The question is whether Egged should provide mehadrin buses on
> routes where chareidi passengers are the overwhelming majority.

The main reason that Egged is so accomodating to Charedim is because
some of that community's entrepeneurs established buslines in
competition to them (as actually demanded by some posters).

Egged responded with price slashing and putting on Mehadrin services on
lines serving Charedi areas.

Both these responses have been heavily criticised by non-Charedim and
stam secular anti-religious types.

Seeing that we have an over-abundance of such critics on this list,
maybe they can offer their suggestions on what they would like the
Charedim to do next...



From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 10:40:40 -0000
Subject: Eilat not Halachikly Israel

 Menashe Elyashiv writes:
>  The question of Yom Tov is different. Do we hold, that only in places
> that the messageners reached in 10 days of horse riding, have 1
> day. Therefore, unknown places from then should now have 2 days
> (Rambam).  Or, it is the possibility that they could have known,
> therefore all Israel has 1 day (Ritba). This is what has been observed
> in Israel all the time.  The question is what about the far south? For
> sure, Jews did not live there in the early time. However, towards the
> end of the Judah kingship, it was captured and populated.

Why is whether Jews lived there in an early time relevant?  Surely
either alternative you set forth above for holding one day (ie only if
the messengers in fact reached there, or alternatively if they would
have reached there had the place been known at the time the messengers
went out) appears to be based on the situation at the time when
messengers were sent.  And messengers were not sent until after the
Kusim interfered with the lighting of torches (Rosh Hashana 22b), which
I thought was talking about post first beis hamikdash.  So if one holds
that one needs to ask questions about when a place was populated, ie
like the second opinion, is not the relevant time second beis hamikdash
or even later, ie the latest period when messengers were sent (because
the underlying logic of the second position must surely be that we
follow minhag avosanu b'yadanu - and therefore surely the time to fix
that minhag is what it was at the changeover between messengers and
relying on the fixed calendar)?

> This in short was the reasoning of R.  Waldenberg in his Sis Eliezer
> written in the early 50's. (part 3 #23).  Also R.R Cohen (Djerba,
> Israel) in his Simhat Cohen (OH #157 & 46).

Without I confess having read any of these teshuvas, does Rav Elyashev
and those who hold two days for Eilat (and presumably the other teshuva
writers who hold that we keep one day in Eilat based on the Ritva and
not the Rambam) hold that the Eilat mentioned in Rosh Hashana 31b as
being the furthest point south to which the decree requiring keren revii
[produce of the fourth year] to be brought to Jerusalem (and not
redeemed for money and the money brought) applied is not in fact our
Eilat?  The point of that decree regarding keren revii was that all
produce grown within a day's journey of Jerusalem was required to be
brought to Jerusalem, and not redeemed, so that the marketplaces of
Jerusalem should be full of produce - so this Eilat mentioned in Rosh
Hashana must have been one day's journey from Jerusalem (and while the
reference to south is in brackets in my text, and it appears that there
may be girsa issues, clearly at least some believe it was to the south
of Jerusalem), which sounds about right to me for our current Eilat.  Is
there somewhere else that was known as Eilat at that time?  Because if
people were bringing fruit to the beis hamikdash at the time of the
Tannaim from Eilat to the south, and it was one day's journey, it would
seem that it ought to fit into the one day category regardless of
whether you hold like the Rambam or the Ritva.



From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 03:53:05 +0200
Subject: Pictures of Jerusalem Rally to Free Jonathan Pollard

Hi Everyone!

On Monday night, February 19, I attended a rally in front of the prime
minister's residence at Kikar Pariz, to remind Prime Minister Olmert
that it is his exclusive responsibility to demand the release of Israeli
agent, Jonathan Pollard, who continues to languish in an American
prison, serving his 22nd year of an unlimited life sentence for his
activities on behalf of the security of Israel.

The rally was also a protest in response to the American demand that
Israel release dangerous murderers and terrorists from our prisons while
our agent, Jonathan Pollard, who saved Israeli lives, continues to rot
in an American prison.

I posted pictures of the rally on my website at:

When the first page comes up, press the F11 key on the top of your
keyboard for a full page view.  Use the icon buttons on the bottom of
each page to navigate.

May we soon see the speedy release of Jonathan Pollard and all of
Israel's captives and MIA's.

Chodesh Tov,
Have a Good Month (Adar),


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 00:24:14 -0500
Subject: Shabbat on the Iranian Threat

As we approach Purim, there are some unsettling connections between an
earlier Iranian (Persian) regime that tried to annihilate the Jewish
people.  Please consider participating (and signing up) in one Jewish
response to the grave and immediate threat to the Jewish people:


Since this is a halachic list, I'd also be interested in halachic
perspectives on possible action in such a context (e.g. at what point is
it permissible to launch a pre-emptive strike on a country whose
leadership makes comments of the sort given by Ahmedinijad?  Would a
pre-emptive nuclear strike be permissible?)



From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2007 15:07:16 -0500
Subject: Smoking again

Frank Silberman, Joel Rich, and Russell Hendel reacted to my post
in v54n05.  I'd like to respond in turn:

> If people still died of infection, tuburculosus, automobile
> accidents, and congenital hardening of the arteries at the rate people
> died throughout Rv. Moshe's lifetime, then even today only a small
> minority of smokers might have their lives shortened by smoking.
> In fact, it is difficult to name _any_ product that wouldn't cause death
> _eventually_ if competing causes of death were sufficiently ameliorated.
> On the other hand, we _did_ ameliorate and delay competing causes of
> death to the degree that smoking _now_ causes death _eventually_ to a
> majority of smokers, so perhaps the point still stands, even if it
> didn't apply in earlier, more dangerous times.

Actually, most of the reduction in death rates in the U.S.  from 1960 to
the present is from heart disease and stroke.  (See Table 108 of the US
Statistical Abstract,
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/07s0108.xls).  Smoking is
a major cause of these illnesses, so the lower rates of smoking made a
significant contribution to the lower death rates.

A more general issue raised by Frank's argument is whether a death rate
of 50% or more is needed for a halakhic ban.  I don't know the sources
here; perhaps others can help.  But I am mistrustful of arbitrary
cut-offs in this sort of issue.  If A causes a death rate of 49.9% and B
51.1%, would you really ban B and allow A?  They are almost the same!
Or, to take another example, is it permissible to play Russian Roulette
if 1 or 2 of the chambers have real bullets, but forbidden if 4, 5, or 6
have them?  Clearly, even a 1-in-6 probability of death is unacceptable
if it is easily avoidable and has no countervailing benefits.  I would
assume that the same considerations should be weighed in halakhic

> An alternate argument against a halachic ban on smoking is very
> strength of the addiction, and the principle of not issuing a takana
> that won't be obeyed.  That would not apply, however, to a ban on
> taking up smoking.

I agree.  I think the current poskim who ban smoking make allowances for
people who are already smokers and who try to quit but do not succeed.

>> R' Moshe appears to be making a different distinction: between
>> something whose adverse effects are real but very rare and something
>> whose adverse effects occur in a large portion of the population.  [snip]
> Where do you see this " real but very rare and something whose
> adverse effects occur in a large portion of the population." in R'
> Moshe's tshuva? Specifically the "very rare" and the "adverse effects"
> (vs. actual deaths)

R' Moshe writes of the experience of a doctor who "roeh kimaat bekhol
yom kholim besartan hareiah vehagaron vegam be'everim akherim shenimtsau
yoter be'eilu shemeashnim sigariot (sees almost every day people sick
with cancer of the lung and the throat and also other organs who are
found more among those who smoke cigarettes)".  Thus, he seems to accept
that smokers have a higher rate of cancer of various sites than

However, he also writes "vehakilkul lakhalot mizeh hu al kol panim rak
miut katan vekol sheken lakhalot mizeh besartan (kenser) uveod makhalot
mesukanot hu katan beyoter (and the risk[?] of getting sick from it is
in any case only a small minority and all the more so to get sick with
cancer or with other dangerous diseases is extremely small)".  Thus, he
seems to believe that the rate of occurrence of these diseases is very
small.  Elsewhere in the tshuvah, he refers to those who do not suffer
any ill effects as "rov derova (the vast majority)".  I used the term
"very rare" to describe something with a very low probability of
occurrence, which seems reasonable.  However, I was careless in using
the term "adverse effects", which raises the issue of non-fatal health

Now that it's been mentioned, though, what does halakhah say about
avoiding serious health effects which are not fatal?  For example, would
we be required to avoid substances or activities that cause such
diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's?  What about loss of the ability
to speak, hear, and see?  What about loss of the ability to walk,
shower, eat, go to the bathroom?  Would one not violate Shabbat to avoid
the occurrence of such effects?  More to the point, would the poskim
refuse to ban something causing such effects because they are not fatal?

>> R' Moshe addressed this explicitly when discussing why it is a
>> good idea not to smoke.  He wrote "v'ein bazeh shum toelet vegam hanaah
>> le'eilu shelo hurglu bazeh" (and there is no benefit at all from it
>> [smoking] and also no pleasure for those who are not addicted to it).
> It seems he would include many things in this warning (e.g.
> watching tv, reading novels....)

Presumably, people who do these things find them pleasurable.  According
to R' Moshe (and I would agree), smoking is not pleasurable until you
get addicted to it.

> Secondly: The issue is not what percent of people develop lung
> cancer. The major source for prohibiting unhealthy items comes from
> Rambam Murder 12. Sucking coins is listed...sucking coins also causes
> death very rarely and usually only causes an upset stomach. Even
> drinking snake venom from what I understand does not cause death (just
> some squeasiness). To cause death the snake venom has to enter the
> bloodstream.

I have no particular argument with Russell's reasoning.  However, I was
pointing out that R' Moshe seemed to feel that the percent of people who
develop lung cancer or other dangerous diseases was an important part of
the issue.


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 02:35:33 EST
Subject: Re: "That Dreaded Disease"

In response to those who questioned my use of the term "dreaded disease"
this is an age-old hallowed custom. "Brit keruta lesefatayim" and those
who have studied the first perek of Pesachim will understand.  Apart
from which it is not my custom to reveal peoples' medical condition in a
public forum any more than a doctor would. To which disease do Eli
Turkel and Martin Dauber think I was refering?

Chodesh tov
Rabbi Wise

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 06:15:14 -0500
Subject: "That Dreaded Disease"

I believe this is a derivative folk way of erasing the name of evil as
we do with Amalek and others.  Yes, it's an "ayen haRah" and some may
call it superstition -- but I don't think we should demean others for
adhering to it.

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 04:43:10 GMT
Subject: Re: "That Dreaded Disease"

Eli Turkel and some others asked <<< Why do some diseases not have names
in some circles? >>>

A number of years ago, a good friend's child had a certain serious
disease, but they chose not to tell anyone which disease it was. Like
the other posters here, I too was curious why they had this reluctance.

They began the explanation by reminding me of the principle that we do
not pray for miracles (except perhaps where a miracle will be the only
positive solution) and that in any case, even when HaShem does do a
miracle, He seems to prefer to do the smallest miracle that will
accomplish the goal at hand. With that in mind, they explained to me,
while only a very few people know which disease it is, if the patient
recovers it would be a somewhat smaller miracle, which they might be
deserving of. But if the nature of the illness were to become public
knowledge, recovery would be a much more obvious and significant

Thus, by keeping the nature of the illness secret, they are enhancing
the patient's chances for recovery.

By the way, this family did not rely merely on such prayers, but took a
very active and agressive approach with their doctors and treatment. As
it turned out, if I recall correctly, he did survive, and was able to
enjoy life, for several months (perhaps a year) longer than the doctors
had originally expected.

I must add, however, that this logic would seem to apply only where the
nature of the illness is kept truly secret. If it is referred to as
"That Dreaded Disease" in a manner such that many people can figure out
which disease it is, then this advantage (of keeping the miracle small)
is lost. Perhaps there is some other logic at work.

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 54 Issue 15