Volume 54 Number 99
                    Produced: Fri Jun 15  5:06:01 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Leah Perl]
Batei Din and Mesoravot Get
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Bicycle on Shabbat
         [Bernard Raab]
Expanded definition of Kashrut (2)
         [Janice Gelb, Aliza Berger]
Lo BaShamayim He (was: Fiat Libellus Repudii)
         [Brandon Raff]
Nekudas Habechira
"Tuition Bill" - Support?
         [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Yeshiva Tuition Break
         [Dr. Ben Katz]


From: Leah Perl <leahperl@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 20:11:38 -0400
Subject: Akdamus

At our shul (Lubavitch) we do say Akdamus.  I suspect this is because it
started as a "community shul"?  In any case, it is in the nusach Ari
siddur that we use.

Leah Perl


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 22:53:54 +0300
Subject: Batei Din and Mesoravot Get

First, I haven't read the latest round of writing on this issue, but as
this story happened today, I think it's too precious to wait:

My husband, a rabbi and lawyer in Israel, an expert in family law,
represented a lady today in front of a Beit Din in Israel.

Mipnei K'vod HaTorah -- I won't name the names of the Dayanim.

This was session no. xxxx (the court and parties in this case meet
several times a year).

As the session started, the Av Beit Din was writing judgements in other

Shortly afterwards, one Dayan left the court.  The Av Beit Din said:
Well, you agree that we continue with only 2, right?

[note: a court of 2 is considered in Jewish sources to be a Beit Din

Shortly afterwards, the 2nd Dayan left the room.

When the lawyers interrupted the Av Beit Din who was writing judgements
in other cases [as the lawyers were interrogating witnesses] this Dayan
said: It's okay, I've heard it all before, you're not telling me
anything new.

Shortly afterwards, the Av Beit Din left the room.

The lawyers, the husband and wife and the Safra DeDayna (typist) were


No, this was not a joke, a dream or a movie.  This really happened. In
an official Beit Din in Israel. Today.

B"H there are plenty of wonderful Dayanim out there, serious people who
work.  But there are also stories like this one.

In this case, the lawyers and Safra DeDayna burst out laughing when they
realized that they were trying to interview witnesses in front of an
empty podium...

And you still wonder why there are so many Mesoravei/Mesoravot Get????

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 18:59:44 -0400
Subject: RE: Bicycle on Shabbat

>From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
>However, there is a solution!
>There is an Israeli battery powered scooter from Kibbutz Afikim that has
>a grama shabbat model for the elderly and infirm with the halachic
>approval of Machon Tzomet http://www.afiscooters.net/len/apage/950.php

Unfortunately, the battery-powered scooter is not a substitute for a
tricycle. The former is approved for seriously impaired individuals,
whereas the tricycle would be used by relatively healthy people who have
a long walk to shul. But can there be a heter for a battery-powered
vehicle, even considering the special "gramma switch" principle, and an
issur for the same (or similar) vehicle if pedal-powered?

With regard to the trolley car prohibition, is there really no
difference between a trolley car in a city and a free bus within the
confines of a gated community? What would be the opinion of the Sridei
Eish regarding a shabbat elevator?

A final question: Why is a Rav who rules l'kula (leniently) so often
labelled a "yachid", while one who rules l'chumra (stringently) is
generally accepted as authoritative?

--Bernie R.


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 20:11:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Expanded definition of Kashrut

Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...> wrote:
> My bigger concern is that this broader hechsher might eventually be
> decoupled from the standard kashrut hechsher, meaning that, for example,
> treif restaurants might be able to get a "hechsher tsedek" that their
> working conditions are good without getting a hechsher on their actual
> food.  As such, this hechsher might serve as a a substitute for proper
> food hechsher to some people.  I suppose the argument will be that these
> people eat treif anyway, better they should have some Jewish connection
> while doing so (similarly to the [then minority] Conservative decision
> to permit driving to shul on Shabbat).
> Anyone have any internal insight into the matter?

The resolution passed by the Rabbinical Assembly (available at their web
site at http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org) specifically mentions kosher
food and says that this is an *additional* requirement ("WHEREAS the
Conservative movement views the ethical treatment of all people involved
in food production as an additional requirement in assuring that kosher
food is truly 'fit' to be eaten."  "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the
Joint Commission explore establishment of a nationwide effort to assure
acceptable labor practices and other working conditions for purveyors of
kosher products by developing a model program with a limited number of
kosher food producers;")

-- Janice

From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 10:38:24 +0300
Subject: Expanded definition of Kashrut

Ari Trachtenberg wrote:

> My bigger concern is that this broader hechsher might eventually be
> decoupled from the standard kashrut hechsher, meaning that, for
> example, treif restaurants might be able to get a "hechsher tsedek"
> that their working conditions are good without getting a hechsher on
> their actual food.

I haven't read the whole thread, but just wanted to point out that the
actual organization in Israel that gives such a "hechsher tsedek" does
in fact give it to non-kosher restaurants. When they publish a list of
the restaurants having their "tav teken hevrati" (social standards
stamp), which they do about once a month in the newspaper, the
non-kosher ones are asterisked (as are the ones without wheelchair

Aliza Berger-Cooper, PhD


From: Brandon Raff <Brandon@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 19:27:28 +0200
Subject: Lo BaShamayim He (was: Fiat Libellus Repudii)

Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...> wrote:

> >> It is greatly tempting to believe that we have the power to bring
> >> things into existence by calling them into existence, and, believing
> >> so, it is greatly tempting to exercise that power.
> > But the Torah gives us precisely this power with its pronouncement "lo
> > bashamayim hi" ([the Torah] is no in the heavens ... ), and Rabbi
> > Joshua's similar "rebuke" of Rabbi Eliezer over Achnai's oven (I
> > believe the reference is B"M 59a).  It appears that the rabbis have
> > felt that, though the will of the majority, they have an ability to
> > understand and interpret the Torah, even if their understanding is
> > wrong!
>      "Lo bashamayim hi" means no more and no less than that once the
>Torah was revealed, there will be no further revelation.  Therefore,
>questions arising that are not explicitly covered must be resolved by
>humans operating within the framework of what was revealed, using their
>reason to find analogies, and to apply the Torah's given rules (e.g.,
>following majority opinion) when differences of opinion exist as to the
>proper analogy.  It is not a license to change anything already
>resolved. What was the case of R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua?  A case arose
>which was not explicitly covered, and R. Yehoshua pointed out that
>heavenly signs could not replace human reasoning based on existing Torah
>principles in resolving the dispute. Further, to say that "though the
>will of the majority, they have an ability to understand and interpret
>the Torah, even if their understanding is wrong" is meaningless, since
>if the majority understands the Torah's intent in a certain way, then by
>definition, that is the correct understanding.

I think there is a gross misunderstanding of the argument between R'
Eliezer and R' Yehoshua (and the Sages). The issue is NOT about
following the majority even if they are wrong. Surely R' Eliezer was
well aware of the rules that a) the Halacha follows the majority and b)
"lo bashamayim he". That being the case why was he arguing against the
majority and calling upon shamayim for proof?

Firstly the halacha only follows the majority when that majority is of
the same madrega "level". By way of example: if 90% of the Jewish
population says the Halacha is "A" and Rav Moshe Feinstein says that the
Halacha is "B," we follow R' Feinstein and not the Jewish majority. R'
Feinstein is on a total different madrega (level) than everyone else, he
is the Gadol haDor, and accordingly we follow him. [ie it is much like
visiting a specialist doctor for a heart condition and not a regular

Secondly, we only follow the majority when both parties to the dispute
are correct - Ze v'Ze divrei Elokim chayim ("These and these are the
words of the Living God").

Accordingly if a dispute arose in halacha between R' Feinstein, R'
Kotler, R' Shach, R' Yosef and R' Elyashiv, then we can say the halacha
follows the majority.

Regarding the dispute with R' Eliezer, he was using 'shamayim' as proof
that he was on a higher madrega than the Sages and accordingly the
majority rule is not relevant. That is why the Bat Kol did NOT say that
the oven is tahor - it said that in all matters the halachah agrees with
R' Eliezer.

R' Yehoshua disagreed with even this type of involvement of shamayim,
and as all parties concerned had used the correct Torah elucidation
rules, the argument was '"ze v'ze divrei Elokim Chayim" and the rule of
majority applies.

Finally it is worth noting that R' Yehoshua ruled that the oven was
tamei, a safe position to take because if he were wrong no harm would
have been caused. It is easier to be strict than to be lenient in



From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:25:36 EDT
Subject: Nekudas Habechira

Baruch Cohen Esq. has mentioned the 'nekudas habechira' idea of Rav E.E.
Dessler in 'the greater the person, the great the yetzer hara' thread.

I do think it should be mentioned that that idea can be
problematic/misunderstood/misapplied and care is in order when it is

I recall hearing that a few years ago there was a piece on it in the
Jewish Observer (glossy magazine of Agudath Israel of America) and due
to problematic aspects of it, a following issue included some kind of
clarification, if not retraction.



From: <leah@...> (Leah S. R. Gordon)
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 17:32:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: "Tuition Bill" - Support?

> From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
> June 08, 2007
> One sixty second phone call to this toll-free number could save our
> community millions of dollars: (800) 319 - 3403.

Completely apart from the New-York-centric tone of this post, I would
like to object to the content.  What a chillul hashem it would be, for
religious Jews to get out of paying state income tax.

I could almost support a bill allowing the use of private school
vouchers for Jewish schools (if we could get around the state-church
issues), or a bill allowing a property/local school tax reduction for
parents who are actively paying for another educational system at the
same time.  But why should state taxes be reduced in this context?

I'm not sure how it works in New York, but here in Massachusetts, the
only funding from the state that goes to schools is used for "needy"
schools with insufficient local revenue to pay for the very basics.  The
rest of the school funding is from property (local city) taxes.

And if it's not public school money you're planning to redirect to
personal tuition, then it's even more questionable.  Why should the
roads, prisons, electricity, or other state services be less funded
because of Plony's tuition bill?

The only reason (aside from personal greed) that would still stand would
be if someone thinks it is a public good for the state of New York, for
more kids to have a financial incentive to attend private school.  What
is the public good that people see in that incentive?

A result I could see happening from such a law would be anti-semitic
resentment of "rich Jews not paying their fair share".  By the way, New
York Jews have traditionally been very supportive/participatory in the
public school system.  This has led to high cultural awareness of Jewish
life in the public sphere, possibly beyond what would have happened
merely from a high Jewish population.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 11:51:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Yeshiva Tuition Break 

>From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
>June 08, 2007
>One sixty second phone call to this toll-free number could save our
>community millions of dollars: (800) 319 - 3403.

We have such a deduction in IL and it amounts to about a $500 tax credit
on the state returns (ie you pay $500 less tax than without it).  I
think it passed in IL due to the help of a prominent observant Chicago
businessman who knew the governor.

         Good luck NY! (from a former NY'er!)


End of Volume 54 Issue 99