Volume 54 Number 51
                    Produced: Tue Mar 27 22:19:09 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Copyright Law and Learning
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Gezel Akum
         [David Neuman]
Riskin urges religious-Zionist courts
         [David Eisen]
Selling chametz
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Torah Centered Judaism (2)
         [David Eisen, Russell J Hendel]


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 09:54:32 -0400
Subject: Copyright Law and Learning

As we have this discussion I wanted to bring up an issue that's bothered
me for years.  I often go into shiurim and have the Rabbi pass out
photocopied copyrighted texts.  Whether it's an Artscroll Gemorrah, a
regular Gemorrah and class on the laws of shabbos with a photocopy of
Shemiras Shabbos Chiltacha etc

I'm sure I'm not the only one to see these phenomena, is there any
justification for it.  After all the publisher of the sefer clearly has
an economic interest in my buying the book and not having it photocopied
in pieces for me for an ongoing class or even a one time one on Shavuos

Related issue, assuming it is a halachic problem is what should I do
when this happens?  Should I say something publicly about the practice?
Do I have to leave the class?  Report it to the copyright holder etc.


From: David Neuman <daveselectric@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 05:33:54 -0500
Subject: Gezel Akum

Several months ago, I had a situation with a non-Jewish customer that
had me concerned.  In reconciling my books with that of the customers,
it was evident that the customers books overstated the balance owed to
me.  On more than one occasion I told him that his books are incorrect.

I asked a Rav, who researched the matter for me.  The reply came as
follows.  Gezel Akum is not permitted.  Taos Akum is permitted.  I might
add, mentchlihkeit would be to advise the Akum of the error.  This would
make a great Kiddush Hashem.

On the similar note when a cashier errs in the customers favor is also a
problem.  The owner of the store may be Jewish whereas the cashier is an
Akum.  The concept of Taos Akum does not fall into play here.  There are
many retail outlets both large and small that have Jewish ownership.
What happens if the controlling interest is owned by Jews?

Best wishes for a Chag Kasher V'Samayach

Duvid Neuman


From: David Eisen <davide@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 17:40:45 +0200
Subject: Riskin urges religious-Zionist courts

See: http://tinyurl.com/2h8r4a

Perhaps this proposal could advance the plight of the Agunot.

That said, I need to know more about this proposal before I formulate an
opinion. On the one hand I think that it really is inappropriate for a
modern-orthodox / religious-Zionist (I am fully aware that these two
hashqafot are not synonymous but I believe they are more or less aligned
on this issue vis a vis haredi dayanim) to be forced to litigate before
haredi judges, yet at the same time, I am genuinely concerned that this
will only increase the sharp religious divisions in Israel. Will there
be two "Supreme" rabbinical courts - one for Religious-Zionists (and
ostensibly hilonim) and one for haredim?!

What will be next - parallel "Chief" Rabbinates, parallel municipal
religious councils, parallel batei knessiot, parallel busses, etc?!

Shabbat Shalom,
David Eisen


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 09:45:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Selling chametz

Israel Caspi wrote:

>But with regard to loans, it was the Torah's intention that the debt
>should be cancelled if not repaid before the Sabbatical year so that
>the debtor need not repay that balance.  By allowing a creditor to
>>claim his debts after the Sabbatical year in spite of the Torah's
>prohibition against doing so, Hillel's Prosbul clearly controverts the
>Torah's intention.

>And, to mix another topic with this one, it should be pointed out that
>Chazal stated (Gittin 36a-b) that the only way Hillel could have so
>balatantly controverted a Torah prohibition was that in the time of the
>2nd Temple the law of release was only of rabbinic authority -- the
>same argument used by the Conservatives when they "abrogate" a Torah

I've seen an argument in the opposite direction, though (IIRC, in the
Hertz Chumash): when the Torah was given, most people made their living
from agriculture rather than commerce, so a loan (to tide a person over
until the next harvest) would basically be a form of tzedakah. By
Hillel's time, in contrast, loans were more in the nature of a standard
business transaction (like taking out a bank loan today), and therefore
perhaps weren't meant to be within the purview of this law in the first
place. I don't think this is really a valid halachic argument, since
after all the Torah could easily have drawn a distinction between these
two types of loans, but doesn't (for this or for any other purpose, such
as the laws of interest); but I mention it for what it's worth.

More to the point is that Hillel's enactment was an extension of an
existing Torah law, that Shemittah doesn't cancel a loan that is handed
over to the Beis Din for collection (Gittin 37a; Sifri Re'eh 113). What
Hillel did was basically to formalize this, and also to add the detail
that the actual loan documents don't need to be handed over to the
court, but rather that a simple written declaration will do. But this is
still different than making up a new law out of whole cloth.

Several other considerations regarding the Prozbul:

1. With or without a Prozbul, the debt still exists; the borrower can,
and should, insist on repaying it (Sheviis 10:8-9), and there is even a
halachic opinion that if the borrower is able to repay it after
Shemittah but chooses not to, he's considered a wicked person (Sefer
Yereim 278).  So in that sense, Hillel's enactment doesn't give the
lender anything to which he otherwise wouldn't be entitled. (Although it
is true that it allows him to demand repayment, which the laws of
Shemittah wouldn't allow him to do.)

2. The Rabbis have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to
financial matters, based on the principle of "hefker beis din hefker"
(which indeed is cited in the discussion in Gittin there about
Prozbul). In fact, for that reason Raavad (Hil. Shemittah ve-Yovel 9:16)
disagrees with the Rambam, and argues that a Prozbul would be valid even
when Shemittah is mandated Biblically (as it will be when Moshiach
comes, may it be soon!).  So there's less proof from this to other areas
of halachah, where the authority of the Rabbis is more circumscribed.

2. In introducing Hillel's enactment, the Mishnah (Sheviis 10:3) and the
Sifri (Re'eh 113) focus on the fact that people were violating the Torah
prohibition against failing to loan money before Shemittah (Devarim
15:9). If we assume, then, that Shemittah nowadays is Rabbinically
mandated (Abaye's opinion in the Gemara there, which is accepted by the
Rambam), then we have a straightforward case where observance of a
Rabbinical law (Shemittah) leads to violation of a Torah law (not
granting a loan), and in that case, of course, the former must give way
to the latter. In that sense, then, the Prozbul is like most other
Rabbinical enactments - not an abrogation of an existing law or a
loophole in one, but rather a "fence" to prevent violation of a Torah
prohibition. (This argument is advanced by R' Y.I. Halevi in his Doros
ha-Rishonim, vol. 2 (Jerusalem ed.) pp. 702ff.)

Kol tuv,


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 07:35:04 -0400
Subject: Slavery

Russel Hendel writes:

"A Jewish slave is not a slave IN ANY REGARD"

He is, of course, absolutely correct.  My question, however, was about
an Eved Canaani.  In this case, there seems to be ownership of the
person.  In thinking this through, I have tried to draw an analogy to a
member of the US Armed forces: he or she is subject to orders, can be
ordered into life threatening situations, and can be forced to accept
vaccinations.  However, this analogy doesn't really work since the armed
forces do not "own" the soldier's body.

Someone once told me that in the US legal system, a bail bondsman
acquires ownership of the bailee if he or she escapes.  I do not know if
this is true.  Are there any lawyers out there who can set me straight
on this?

-- Andy


From: David Eisen <davide@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 09:05:49 +0200
Subject: RE: Torah Centered Judaism

Russell Hendel, in his defense of "Torah Centered Judaism" wrote:

> SLAVERY: A Jewish slave is not a slave IN ANY REGARD (Except one to be
> discussed below). For example if you wound them you have to pay them
> just as you do for an ordinary person. A Jewish slave is simply a
> worker who cannot get out of his contract. Jewish law equates the
> "slave" with "worker" and there really is no problem. In fact Jewish
> law is very explicit that the slave has "reverse discrimination
> rights." The law states "If you have two loaves--one fresh and one
> mouldy you are required to give the slave the fresh loaf and you eat
> the moldy one."  Clearly here we have no problem OR the problem is due
> to our accepting slander about our own religion.

It should be noted that in Russell's assertion of Jewish law being IDEAL
vis a vis its attitude towards slavery, he correctly qualified his
remarks with respect to the JEWISH slave. However, the verses in Shmot
21:20-21 paint an entirely different picture with respect to the Eved
K'naani. Pasuk 21 expressly states that the master of a Canaanite slave
is entitled to strike him ki kaspo hu (for he is the master's property);
the Sifra and the Mekhilta learn from the words "ki kaspo hu" that this
right of the master is restricted only to the Canaanite slave, and with
respect to an Eved Ivri, the master must treat him as Russell noted

This right was codified by the Mishne Torah in numerous places. See
Hilkhot Rotzeah u'Shmirat Nefesh 2:12, Hilkhot Avadim Chapter 5,
including some gruesome laws in Sections 4 - 13. Despite the aforesaid,
Rambam concludes his Laws of Slaves (9:8) with the following:

Although the Torah permits to work a slave hard and though this is the
letter of the law, it is not proper nor is it wise to do so. A wise man
is merciful and just, does not overwork his slave nor does he make him
suffer. He feeds him first from every food he eats and does the same
with his animals. He should also not shame him, in deeds or in words;
they are servants only not to be shamed. He should not yell at him nor
get too angry but treat him with respect and pay attention to his
complaints.  "Cruelty is not a trait of the children of Avraham, but
they, the Jewish people who have received the Torah and Mitzvot are
merciful - they have pity on all creatures. God is such too and we have
to emulate Him and His attributes". He who is compassionate will be
treated with compassion by Him.

David W. Eisen
E-mail: <davide@...>

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 11:07:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Torah Centered Judaism

Recall we were discussing the status of the slave in Judaism. I asserted
that the problems were that we are too ready to accept slander and
misperception of our own religion. I brought the amusing but poignant
example that "converted aliens cannot become King/President" a law
identical to American and Jewish law and yet we might see the American
law as OK while the Jewish law as remnant of racism because of our bias.

I then defended the a) Jewish slave who sells himself account of poverty
and b) Jewish slave sold by a court because of theft. David Eisen seems
to have accepted my explanation of Jewish slave sold out of poverty but
brings in a 3rd type of slave the non-jew who is a slave. David then
brings a scriptural passage (also codified in Jewish law) that the
master has the right to hit his slave and if the slave dies after a
while (more than 24 hours) the master receives no death penalty.

I believe this another example of our readiness to accept misperception.
IN ALL legal systems parents have a right to hit their children. The
non-Jewish slave has a status of a child and is treated as such. The
master has the right to discipline him. We protect this master's right
by absolving him from a death penalty.

The issue of course arises whether IN PRACTICE it was common place for
(Jewish) masters to kill slaves. The following story clearly shows that
the cited Jewish law is a theoretical construct designed to indicate
protection rather than a license to kill: "A non Jewish slave disguised
himself as younger person. A jewish master then brought him. The non Jew
then removed his disguise. The Jewish master asked him why he mislead
him. He responded 'I am old and cannot work and produce as much as I use
to. I was afraid of abuse by masters. But I know that Jewish masters
treat their slaves nicely."

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


End of Volume 54 Issue 51