Volume 54 Number 52
                    Produced: Wed Mar 28  5:30:31 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Copyright of prayer
         [Shayna Kravetz]
election of Dayanim
         [Rabbi Meir Wise]
Gezel Akum (2)
         [Joseph Kaplan, Shalom Kohn]
Keren = Redemption
Legal Cases Involving Matzah
         [Richard Dine]
Mi she-Berakh for Agunot (2)
         [Yael Levine, Yael Levine]
Prayer for Agunot
         [Joseph Kaplan]
Vayoram Keren = raising the horn?
         [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 07:40:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Copyright of prayer

Responding to Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>'s post of Fri, 23 Mar
2007 11:12:35 +0100:

>I wonder (and asked the question here and there without getting an
>answer) about an extreme case, namely if you can have a copyright on the
>Toure.  Assume I decide to edit a chummesh both to spread toure and to
>make money.  Can I use the exact text of R' Breuer's zetza"l edition?
>On the one hand, he worked on it for quite some time, and the publishing
>house might have paid him for his labour. Even if not, there's effort
>and secondary costs involved.
>On the other hand, how can one publish a text of the Toure unless I'm
>convinced every dot is correct in the best possible way?! I at least

This is a well-known problem in secular copyright law.  The answer is,
you're welcome to publish a new edition of the Torah (I assume that's
what "Toure" is in your transliteration) but, in order to be "convinced
every dot is correct in the best possible way", you need to do your own
research from the earliest manuscripts and review all the materials.
You cannot rely on R. Breuer Z-Tz'L's edition as the substance of your
entire publication.  If you were to do so, you would effectively be
'stealing' his time and effort and intellectual capabilities to furnish
your own book.  However, were you to wish (for example) to publish a
Torah commentary and seek to include a corrected Torah text alongside
for ease of reference, it would be perfectly proper for you to arrange
with the Breuer edition's publishers to include their edition as part of
your work /with permission and acknowledgement and upon payment to them
for that use/.  Thus, there is no copyright in the Torah's substantial
text but there is copyright in a particular edition of the Torah.

An analogous problem is the publication and copyright of
maps. Theoretically, all maps of the same area should contain identical
information.  In order to ensure that a new map is not merely a copy of
an old one but the product of a fresh survey and review of terrain,
mapmakers will include minor but deliberate mistakes in their maps
(e.g., misspelled street names, non-existent dead ends or cul-de-sacs).
If a new map comes out with precisely the same mistakes, it's a fair
inference that it was produced based on the old map, not by going out
and surveying, and it infringes upon the copyright of the publisher of
the old map.  If a new map turns up with different mistakes or (per
impossibile!) no mistakes at all, the strongest inference is that its
publisher paid for a fresh survey in order to get the substantial
information included in the new map.

As for the halachah of your question, I await the learned responses this
list's population generates.

Kol tuv and have a freilach and kosher Pesach,
Shayna in Toronto


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise)
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 14:11:07 EDT
Subject: Re: election of Dayanim

The outcome was far from a Chillul Hashem. For the first time 4 dayanim
were graduates of Eretz Hemdash and wear kippot serugot. Even if some of
the others are related to rabbis that is not in itself a
disqualification. Think of how many doctors, lawyers children follow in
their footsteps.

If there was a committee of 9 with one woman and 5 charedim and 3
chilonim then that is better than the United Kingdom and the
Commonwealth were dayanim are appointed behind closed doors and are all

Rabbi Wise


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 13:51:31 -0500
Subject: Gezel Akum

SBA asks if any listmember attended R. Dovid Cohen's talk where he
supposedly said that gezel akum and cheating the government is allowed.
I was not there, but I had heard about this before it was posted on this
list, and since I live in Teaneck I was interested in what the reaction
was to his talk.  Upon investigation I was told second hand (i.e., a
person who attended the talk told a friend of mine who told me) that R.
Cohen said no such thing.  So now you have it third hand.

Joseph Kaplan

From: Shalom Kohn <skohn@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 17:01:26 -0500
Subject: Gezel Akum

>Was there any listmember at this talk of RD Cohen? Or even better is
>there anyone who can ask the Rabbi if he said and meant this exactly as
>it appears.

I called Rabbi Dovid Cohen (with whom I've been close for over 35 years)
today to ask about the report and, as I expected, it is entirely false.
Whatever the technical halacha about gezel akum, see Ramah, Yoreh Deah
28, or dina d'malchuta (obeying civil law), R. Cohen was absolutely
clear both to me and in his lecture that such activity is prohibited on
account of chillul hashem (desecration of G-d's name) and that one may
NOT cheat on one's taxes or steal from a non-Jew.  The reference to "if
one can get away with it" is a misrepresentation of the halacha of
chillul hashem.

It is thus ironic that the erroneous report of what R. Cohen said (which
R. Shinnar may have derived from other fallacious internet reports) is
itself bound to create chillul hashem and enmity towards Jews -- which
itself proves the merits of the halacha in question.

My own comment here -- if it is permitted to descecrate the sabbath --
ordinarily a most severe sin -- to save non-Jews' lives on account of
"darkei shalom" [ensuring peaceful relations amongst Jews and gentiles],
it is absurd to imagine that halacha would allow theft from non-Jews or
cheating on taxes, which are not a mitzvah by any stretch of the

Shalom L. Kohn


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 00:11:23 +1100
Subject: Keren = Redemption

From: Yael Levine <>

> SBA quoted the Radak: .....". This has nothing to do with the
> articulation in the prayer for Agunot, and "raise their redemption" is
> an erroneous translation. This is but one appearance, but the
> expression may be found in other places as well.

But this is the most commonly used for this expression - "vayorem keren
le'amo".  It is said 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The others, many which are unkown the the average person, are rarely



From: Richard Dine <richard.dine@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 11:50:57 -0400
Subject: Legal Cases Involving Matzah

I am looking for legal cases involving matzah production (e.g., worker
issues / bankruptcy / consumer quality) from the US, Israel, or
elsewhere.  This is for personal use (i.e., it does not relate to my
work nor am I planning to litigate).  If you have articles on this
please contact me offline.  


Richard Dine, 


From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 15:32:22 +0200
Subject: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

Guido Elbogen concluded his mail by writing: "The problem of the sorev
netinat get is that of the secular courts not recognizing the authority
and legality of a beth din." This are not the only circumstances in
Israel. Many women are awaiting their get from the Rabbinic courts. This
has nothing to do with the secular courts.


From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 21:21:43 +0200
Subject: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

I am referring listmembers to an article by Rabbi Israel Schneider
"Jewish Law and Copyright" -

It is easier to view at:


I have copied below several passages - giving full attribution - from
which one may learn that indeed according to the opinion of some poskim,
among them of Rabbi Ezra Batzri "copyright legislation, whose thrust is
the preservation of social justice and fairness, is recognized by Torah
law as binding."

Additionally, according to Rabbi Joseph Shaul Nathanson, one who
reproduces an original work, but makes minor additions or deletions, is
also in violation of the copyright legislation.

This is in clear contrast to R. Broyde's opinion.

Indeed the guidelines set forth in the article by R. Schneider were
those known to myself all the while.

I don't think then it's feasible to state, as Avi did that "Yael has
made clear her opinion that Lisa was in violation of both copyright
infringement and thereby has violated Halacha...While there may be
different opinions, and I am open to other postings on the halachic
status of non-commercial copyright, given R' Broyde's opinion, I will
not accept any postings that attack Lisa's action as being an Aveira /in
violation of Halacha." As Avi explained in any case, "the focus must be
on the issue being discussed and not on the person doing the

The question is does this list have one Rav or Posek, or is it open to
the rule of "eilu va-eilu".

I'd like to stress that I am fully aware of R. Broyde's stature, and do
not seek to challange that at all.

The question would be concerning the list, is the opinion of any posek
definitive or binding.


  Excerpts from Article by R. Schneider

  Dina De'Malchuta Dina

Beit Yitzchok19 approaches the issue from an entirely different angle.
Even if we are to assume, he writes, that Torah law doesn't explicitly
award exclusive proprietary rights to an author, it nevertheless enjoins
us to recognize and obey "the law of the land."20 Consequently, all
authorship rights rights provided to an author under civil law are
recognized by Torah law as valid and binding. Writing in the late 19th
century, Rabbi Yitzchok Schmelkes states that our country21 prohibits
the copying of original works of authorship. One hundred years later, on
these American shores, the identical situation exists. Statutory
protection of an author's work(s) is guaranteed by the Copyright Act of
1976 (Pub. L. No. 94-533, 90 Stat. 2541). For this reason any
infringement of civil copyright law would be, by definition, an
infringement upon Torah law as well.

In truth, the validity of this argument hinges upon a dispute among the
medieval commentators as to the scope of "Dina De'Malchuta Dina" ("the
law of the land is law"). Rabbi Baruch ben Yitzchak22 cites the opinion
of his teachers, in the name of the French Tosafists, that "the law of
the land" is binding to the extent that it applies to the government's
right to levy and collect taxes. However, legislation enacted by the
government for the benefit of its citizens, without any direct profit
for the government, cannot be considered binding. Hence, copyright
legislation, whose objective is the protection of the public, is not
included within the parameters of Dina De'Malchuta Dina. The Ramban,23
however, disputes this point and rules that all just and fair
legislation enacted by the government falls under the category of "the
law of the land" and, consequently, is legally binding. The Shach,24
citing a host of codifiers who employ the principle of Dina De'Malchulta
Dina in regard to legislation which does not directly serve to profit
the government, rules that the halacha is in accordance with the Ramban.

A note of caution is certainly in order: the issue of interaction
between halacha and civil law is complex. Indeed, there are times when
the civil law, in conflict with the halacha, is not binding.25 However,
it is Rabbi Schmelke's opinion and subsequently also that of Rabbi Ezra
Batzri,26 that copyright legislation, whose thrust is the preservation
of social justice and fairness, is recognized by Torah law as binding.

  Minor Alterations

Rabbi Joseph Shaul Nathanson was asked whether one who reproduces an
original work, but makes minor additions or deletions, is in violation
of the copyright legislation.30 He responded that the argument to permit
such a practice is "laughable," and consequently, one who attempts to
bypass the copyright restrictions by making insignificant changes is
still in violation of the halacha. To permit the circumvention of the
copyright laws by insignificant alterations of the original material, he
claims, would render these safeguards ineffective and defeat the purpose
of the enactment.


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 14:05:43 -0500
Subject: Prayer for Agunot

I was going to blame our moderator (tongue in cheek) for the brouhaha
over the mi-shebeyrach for agunot because he allowed a violation of the
rules by having a lengthy part of a posting in untranslated Hebrew. But
upon reflection, I decided to (more seriously) give it a positive spin;
that is, how wise the rule is that posters should translate into English
all but the most common Hebrew, so those listmembers with limited Hebrew
can actively participate in the discussion.  So, with perfect 20-20
hindsight, what I think should have happened in this case, and what
should happen if a similar case arises in the future, was that Avi
should have written a polite note to Yael telling her that she should
add a translation of her prayer if she wanted the list to discuss it,
and if she didn't want a discussion, then it was, perhaps, our
discussion group was not the best place for her post.

I find all this very unfortunate because the mi-shebeyrach could have
evoked an interesting discussion about the propriety of adding new
prayers to our liturgy, what we should do, as a community, to help
agunot, and whether Yael's mi-shebeyrach tapped the essence of the
attitude of many of us towards the current agunah situation.
Unfortunately, we became bogged down in minutiae of copyright law
(interesting mainly to lawyers and not even to all of them/us) which
blockaded any meaningful discussion of the type we usually have on Mail
Jewish.  How unfortunate!

Joseph Kaplan


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 07 06:32:00 -0400
Subject: Vayoram Keren = raising the horn?

This is clearly an idiom that we see a good number of times in Tanach
and I am not sure anyone now knows exactly what it means. It seems to
mean something like uplift someone's situation. The question might
depend on what exactly does Keren mean here.

By the way, I think an author can very well be disastified with a
proposed translation and at the ssame time not be able to propose a good
one. The Rambam said that to translate you have toi know the "secret" of
the language you are translating from and the language you are
translating to.

He found one person whom he had confidence in and approved the
translations he made. (A lot of what he write was originally in Arabic
and needed to be translated into Hebrew for Jews in countries like Spain
and France and Italy and further north.


End of Volume 54 Issue 52