Volume 54 Number 85
                    Produced: Mon Jun  4  0:05:32 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bicycle vs Tricycle on Shabbat
         [Akiva Miller]
Birkat Kohanim at the Chupa
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Contact at Cornell
         [Sam Gamoran]
A conundrum
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Eidim Zomemim
         [Joel Rich]
Hair covering
         [Leah Aharoni]
The Higher Ones Level the Greater their Yetzer Hara
         [Baruch C. Cohen]
Horses vs bicycles on Shabbat
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Jews in Lita
Married Women and Hair Covering (3)
         [Dr. Ben Katz, Joel Rich, SBA]
Missionary alert
         [Gershon Dubin]


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 23:14:28 GMT
Subject: Re: Bicycle vs Tricycle on Shabbat

Several people have suggested that the reason not to ride bicycles on
Shabbos is the chance that one might come to fix it. This is the reason
behind the prohibition on musical instruiments, but I thought that it is
NOT used for any other prohibitions.

If one wants to use this as a reason to personally refrain from some
activity on Shabbos, that is fine. But are there any other examples of
where we are *forbidden* to use a device that is currently in fine
working order?

Akiva Miller


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 08:58:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Birkat Kohanim at the Chupa

Has anyone ever seen a non-kohen mesader kidushin recite Birkat Kohanim
under the chupa?.  (I know about the sephardi custom of having kohanim
do it; that is not my question).  The Torah Temima on Parshat Nasso says
that he heard that the Vilna Gaon, who was not a kohen, did so at the
wedding of Rav Yechezkel Landau (putting only one hand on the groom's
head), so given the increasing popularity of Gra customs, one might
think that this practice would be prevalent.

I actually saw it once, but the rabbi was reform.


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 20:46:55 +0300
Subject: Contact at Cornell

Could anyone please give me a contact within the observant community in
Ithaca.  I have made arrangements for my 14 year old son to spend a week
on campus July 8-14.  University dining will provide kosher food for him
during the week but I am looking for Shabbat hospitality the weekend of
July 13-14 (Parshat Matot-Masei).

My plans are to drop him off on Sunday July 8, settle him in, go away
for the rest of that week, return on Friday, July 13, and leave together
on Sunday July 15th.  The Center for Jewish Living (formerly the Young
Israel where I lived for 4 years) may or may not be open during summer
session.  I have not been able to find out because they did not return
my emails and the phone line has been perpetually bus for the past few

Any help would be appreciated.

Sam Gamoran
Treasurer of the Young Israel of Cornell 1974-75, Religious Chairman
Program Engineer, CDS Verifier Group
Phone +972-2-589-4588 FAX +972-2-589-4825 Mobile +972-54-566-4588


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2007 12:06:27 +0300
Subject: A conundrum

Is it possible to be religious and Zionist without being a "religious
Zionist" as portrayed by the followers of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook? When
I joined Bnei Akiva in South Africa in the 1950s, the Religious Zionist
movement was much different from what I believe it became after the Six
Day War in 1967. Indeed, the founder of the Mizrachi movement, Rabbi
Jacob Reines, along with three of his colleagues, wrote in 1902, "As to
those who fear that the Zionist doctrine contains an element
appertaining to the Redemption and the coming of the Messiah and is apt
to destroy a principle of our Faith, they are totally mistaken. Zionism
has no connection with Redemption. Its purpose is solely to ameliorate
the lot of our unfortunate brethren."

Such a view would not countenance acts which are taken so cavalierly
today, with the attitude that they are now permissible because we are in
the era of the Messiah, and without any regard as to where the chips may

I am very much afraid that "religious Zionism" has moved far afield from
that view, and thus I return to my question: Is it possible to be
religious and Zionist without being a "religious Zionist"?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2007 21:46:45 -0400
Subject: Eidim Zomemim

The gemara in makot states that if the accused was put to death and then
the witnesses were zomeimed, these eidim zommemim are not put to death.

The kesef mishneh in hilchot eidut gives 2 reasons. The first is ein
onshin min hadin (no punishments are meted out based on a kal vachomer)
and here the crime is so heinous that the earthly court putting him to
death would be insufficient punishment. The 2nd reason is that if HKBH
allowed the individual to be put to death by bet din, he must have
deserved it (a la behemtan shell tzaddikim) and thus can't kill eidim.
The meiri offers a 3rd reason that to put them to death would require a
new judicial process which would shine a light on bet din's error and so
as to avoid this we don't put them to death.  Any thoughts on the
underlying philosophical differences? I have some but would like to hear
others opinions.  

Joel Rich


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 13:57:59 +0300
Subject: Hair covering

Due to the high emotional load of the hair-covering issue, it seems to
me that many of the arguments and opinions presented are effected by the
writers' own stances and practices.

I think a good way to analyze the assumptions behind the halachic
principles governing the halachot of kisui rosh would be to analyze
another mitzvah, tevilat keilim, which also was almost abandoned in 19th
century Europe (if I am not mistaken Aruch Hashulchan was the one to
mention the non-observance of this mitzvah too).

IMHO, observant Jews today do not cite lack of observance of a certain
halacha in the past as a good enough reason not to conform with paskened
halacha today.


From: <azqbng@...> (Baruch C. Cohen)
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 09:54:16 -0400
Subject: The Higher Ones Level the Greater their Yetzer Hara

Does anyone have any insight to the maxim: "the higher ones level the
greater their evil inclination." Does this mean that the Gedolei HaDor
of our time have a greater Yetzer HaRah for the sins that entice us
regular folk? When I think of a Tzaddik, it's hard for me to imagine
that he has the same if not greater Yetzer HaRah to succumb to the
temptations and distractions that plague our generation.

Baruch C. Cohen, Esq.
Los Angeles, CA


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 08:41:33 -0400
Subject: Horses vs bicycles on Shabbat

>IIRC, the reason I learned for not riding a horse was a gezerah lest
>one pull a stick off the tree to use as a switch (I think I saw this in
>"The Sabbath" by Dayan I Grunfeld - but it was a long, long time ago.)
>That rationale does not support a comparison to bike riding (hitting
>the bike with a switch will not make it go faster.)

I had been going to point out the same thing, the the reason for not
allowing horse riding was that the rider might pull off a small branch
for use in directing the horse, which was a commonly-done practice.
IIRC, this is how the SA brings it.

I differ in my conclusion, though.  This IS, IMHO, very much like the
(used to be) everyday practice of putting the chain back on, on a
bike. (Or at least was when I was a kid, and the bikes were not yet so
fancy.)  Replacing the chain on shabbat is probably an Av melacha.  If a
rider frequently replaces the chain on weekdays, he might easily forget
and do so when riding on Shabbat, if riding were permitted.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 01:20:33 +1000
Subject: Jews in Lita

From: Michael Broyde <>

> .. one can find a wealth of sources that makes it clear that many
> religious women in Lita did not cover their hair as a historical fact.

Are there any statistics [or guesses] on what percentage of families in
Lita - between the world wars were shomrei Shabbos and kept Taharas

I ask this because I once heard a prominent Rav mention that religious
standards there were generally quite lax, due to the influence of the
various 'isms' (Communism, socilism, zionism, Bundism etc) and also (and
maybe mainly) caused by mass poverty.



From: Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 10:59:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Married Women and Hair Covering

>From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
> > A claim not based on any survey but on the fact that both the Arukh
> > Hashulchan and Mishneh Berurah both bitterly decrie a laxness in this
> > area and discuss whether or not men are allowed to pray or bentch in
> > the presence of such women. This is hardly a heter." (my emphasis)
>Rabbi Wise, the last five words of your response underlines the cross
>purposes of this discussion.  Not one of the responses to this debate
>has claimed that the Lithuanian women had a heter to uncover their
>hair. They merely brought proofs that this practice simply existed, with
>or without a heter. I'm sure the Aruch Hashulchan did decry this
>practice, in light of this fact.
>However, the fact that pious women did uncover their hair, and they were
>still considered pious and not Reformed Jews, simply underlines the fact
>that this halacha is a lot more fluid than most people consider it
>today.  The laws of tzniut and ervah were not handed down on Sinai but
>are very much influenced by attitudes towards modesty in the general
>What many frum Jews of today find unbelievable is the fact that much of
>halacha was/ is not determined by poskim but by human practice (a la Rav
>Haym Soloveitchik's "Rupture and Reconstruction").

         THIS IS THE KEY ISSUE.  Many practises evolved in very
observant communities as a result of sincere piety that are not
necessarily "halachically" correct.  One obvious one that comes to mind
are the piytutim many of us say on (at least) RH and YK.  Also, many
very serious aspects of Jewish life were probably not controlled by
Rabbis at all, such as writing sifrei Torah, which was probably
controlled by guilds, some of whose scribes may have been Karaites.  See
for example the attempt of the Rashba to "correct" sifrei Torah based on
the Talmud (discussed in Fixing God's Torah).

>This is a fact of halacha because it is a fact of life. Very pious
>people will consult rabbonim for every move they make in their lives,
>but the majority of Jews will make halachic decisions on their own
>without consulting a rav. And so halacha and Jewish life develop.

         The question isn't, as another poster phrased it, to take a
survey of Jews and see what they do, but to take a survey of PIOUS Jews
and see what they do.  There are of course minhagay shtus that Rabbis
try to dissuade people from performing, but they are not always
successfully.  Many poskim try very hard to justify "halachically": some
of these practises, often without success.

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 05:38:06 -0400
Subject: Married Women and Hair Covering

> Anything I write here should merely be considered a lemud zechut, an
> explanation of what could be said to justify a practice.
> Michael Broyde

Lemud zchut is an interesting term. Does it connote that the people
engaged in a particular practice were doing so without a conscious basis
and against the advice of rabbinic leadership and one is now
retroactively trying to rationalize their actions? Perhaps that rabbinic
leadership did not actively oppose it at the time as other priorities
prevailed.  Would we use this term where circumstances or accepted
halacha had changed (e.g. will we soon be mlamed zchut on those who only
had one oven :-) }

Joel Rich

From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 01:54:34 +1000
Subject: Re: Married Women and Hair Covering

From: <Rela1@...> (Dr. Rela Mintz Geffen)
> .. My Grandmother z"l, Rebbitzin Sora Hene Geffen ..  married to my
> Grandfather Rav Tuvia Geffen z"l in Kovno and who came to America with
> him in 1903 and died in 1960 did not cover her hair except with a hat
> in shul or when bentching licht...  I never heard a word of censure or
> even a discussion of the fact that my Grandmother did not cover her
> hair

A very prominent local Lubavitcher educator once explained, how his late
father who lived in the USSR pre-war and was a true chassidish yid who
even there always had a full beard, married his wife - who only many,
many years later began covering her hair.

He said that in those days, for a chassidish young man in Russia to find
a religious wife was no easy matter. Thus when he was introduced to a
girl who was prepared to keep taharas hamishpacha - it was such a find
that he couldn't risk losing her by demanding hair-cover.

Presumably the situation was similar in Lita.

And we should remember that while boys went to cheder and yeshiva, girls
did not. It was pre-Beth Jacob days.



From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 13:40:28 GMT
Subject: Missionary alert

Spotted this morning (Friday June 1) on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn:

sign in Hebrew (couldn't get all of it as we passed by) ending with
"Rabbenu Yeshua (afra lepumei) miNatzeret).



End of Volume 54 Issue 85