Volume 55 Number 17
                    Produced: Mon Jul  9 22:18:07 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunot Statistics in the Yated
Comparative Jurisprudence
         [Russell J Hendel]
An Insulting Discussion of Comparative Jurisprudence
         [Joseph Kaplan]
Statistics Dispel Claims of 'Thousands of Israeli Agunot'
         [Russell J Hendel]
Washing one's hands before davening (2)
         [SBA, Eliezer Wenger]


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 11:53:25
Subject: Agunot Statistics in the Yated

The online Yated had the following this week article on this topic:
http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/PNC67aagunos.htm :

Statistical Study Shatters Libel Of Drawn Out Proceedings At Rabbinical

By Betzalel Kahn

The distorted claims of National-Religious (modern-orthodox) women's
groups that have joined Reform circles to wage a joint campaign against
the Rabbinical botei din and the dayanim who act in accordance with
halochoh, on account of the alleged "thousands of agunos" and "ongoing
foot dragging in resolving their plight" have been exposed as grossly
exaggerated and misleading and in fact, altogether groundless. This is
the picture that emerges from a statistical study recently carried out by
the management of the Israeli Rabbinical Courts.

[See above link for full article. Mod]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 14:42:07 -0400
Subject: Comparative Jurisprudence

Jay in his recent posting "Comparative Jurisprudence", discussing
whether slavery was stopped in the US by the constitution made several
grievous errors (and also used inflammatory language and emotional
attacks which I considered uncalled for).

Someone pointed out that "US Law does not allow property ownership of
another human being." Jay, according to his own posting made 3 arguments
against this. Bottom line: US Law clearly does not allow property
ownership. I disagree with Jay's analysis and in fact consider the
arguments he made "standard fallacies" of students of law.

Argument 1: Jay points out that in certain situations one entity (eg the
army) can collect damages on another person's body (So a military could
collect (or prosecute) a military man who sunburned himself on the

However without going to American law there are numerous places where
people have "Some" property rights vis a vis another person. In Jewish
law we have a) A husband can collect damages if his wife is damaged b) A
father can collect damages if his wife has miscarried from damage c) A
father can collect damages if his minor children are damaged (True in
American law also)

However the "property rights" of "collection of damages" is not the
issue. There are 3 types of property rights: a) rights to collect for
damages to the other person b) Rights to prevent free job access (you
are bound to a job) c) Conjugal rights over the other person. When we
speak about "ownership of the slave" we are not speaking about "rights
to collect damage" -- we are speaking about conjugal and job rights.  A
master DOES have the right to prevent his slave from getting another job
and DOES have the right to FORCE his non-jewish slave to have relations
with a particular women. (There are other "property rights" such as the
right to testify, to own property etc...but for the while this

So the issue was never property rights to begin with--the issue was job
and conjugal rights. Jay commits a fallacy of reasoning by bringing in
the property rights of the army. The army does NOT HAVE CONJUGAL RIGHTS
over its soldiers. So the precedents in American law do stand: There are
NO precedents in AMERICAN law for "property rights" (in the sense of
conjugal rights) over another human being. The fact that e.g. parents
can collect for damages for their minor children does not contradict
this and it is clearly a fallacious argument to say so.

In passing: Jewish and American law disagree on "JOB RIGHTS". Jewish law
is emphatic that NO ONE has PERPETUAL JOB RIGHTS over another human
being. American law does allow contracts bounding people to particular
job situations for long periods of time. But Jewish law does not allow
this. (In Jewish law a) Jewish slaves have "buy out" or "redemption"
rights from their slavery; b) Male Non Jewish slaves have rights of
leaving / freedom for even minor commandments (Such as making up the
minyan...(from my perspective....there could never be slavery in
America:)---we would have to be freeing slaves every day) c) Female
non-Jewish slaves have rights of leaving / freedom if they are
threatened with sexual abuse (They can become free people and marry whom
they want) (Again: Clearly sexual abuse is rampant...and we would never
have a practical situation where women are slaves). Note: Non Jewish
slaves are liable in many commandments and once freed become full Jews).

Second: I was shocked that Jay thinks the 13th amendment which prohibits
slavery does not do so. Jay states "The courts can find that the
Thirteenth Amendment prohibits involuntary servitude, whereas other
parts of the Constitution permit it, whereupon the courts will declare
that the Constitution is, to a certain limited extent
self-contradictory, and they will undertake to delineate the respective
spheres wherein each contradictory clause is operative -- i.e., under
what circumstances there can be no involuntary servitude, and under what
circumstances there can be"

This is false. Although Judges have broad powers of interpretation there
are certain "standards of behavior they traditionally follow." Judges
simply do not override constitutional amendments. If the constitution in
an amendment says no slavery then that law will supercede other laws
which may appear to contradict it. The fallacy of Jay's comments are
that "since Judges interpret Broadly why cant they simply erase the
law?" The answer is this doesnt happen because people would not stand
for it. True occasionally a judge gets out of hand(Jay cites examples)
but that doesnt mean the law doesnt exist.

Jay's third statement is by his own admission more emotional than
logical: "The third error is the notion that the United States
government, or any other government, is controlled by laws and by its
Constitution. This is nonsense....but on closer inspection it always
turns out that the parties uttering those statements are not people, but
extraterrestrial aliens who resemble human beings morphologically,
except that they do not have human brains inside their skulls." (I was
surprised Avi let this through...it is against MlJewish by laws to let
inflammatory statements thru...maybe this is Avi's way of agreeing with
Jay that we shouldnt think that MlJewish is controlled by its own

All I can say is that people create laws so that the country is aware
that there basic intent and spirit prevails. The purpose of laws is to
give an atmosphere of confidence in the national direction. Again: The
fact that this "rule and approach" is sometimes broken (rarely) does not
give Jay the license to say it doesn't exist."

I could go on...but I think the jist of what I wanted to say is done.
American law clearly prohibits slavery. Slavery defined as the right to
conjugally own a person or to have rights of beating on the person as if
they were an object are contrary to American law and since the civil war
have always been prosecuted.

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


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 10:13:52 -0400
Subject: An Insulting Discussion of Comparative Jurisprudence

I was uncomfortable as I read the first half of Jay F. Schachter's
discourse on comparative jurisprudence.  Some ideas I found interesting,
much I found wrong, but mainly I was put off by the smug and
condescending tone.  And then I came upon the following sentence: '"From
time to time, you hear what appear to be people saying things such as
the United States federal government is a government of enumerated
powers, but on closer inspection it always turns out that the parties
uttering those statements are not people, but extraterrestrial aliens
who resemble human beings morphologically, except that they do not have
human brains inside their skulls."  I am surprised our moderator -- who
almost always demonstrates such good sense, thoughtfulness, erudition
and a firm and wise hand in moderating this list -- let such an insult
go through.  I stopped reading at that point; how can one take seriously
an argument by someone who has to rely on such childish insults to make
a point (which I, for one, believes is wrong)?  Elementary school
children use that type of argumentation by insult; not the type of
adults that I thought were part of this list.  (Although, I am sad to
say, I do see this type of writing on some blogs where submissions can
be made anonymously; one reason I prefer this list over blogs).

I will not comment on the substance of the post; I think that a post
that contains such insulting language is not one that should be

Joseph C. Kaplan 


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 14:10:46 -0400
Subject: Statistics Dispel Claims of 'Thousands of Israeli Agunot'

Just wanted to add some comments to what Daniel already said. Anyone
going seriously into statistics is required to take survey methods
courses. I teach introductory statistics and almost all the textbooks
these days have sections on surveys.

Of course we all intuitively realize that survey methods and "counting
issues" affect results. But we don't realize how bad the affect is. Here
is a facetious example of how bad distortions can be. Suppose I wanted
to know whether people felt women were discriminated against in the
workplace. Method A) I have a male standing at noon in the town square
randomly polling men and women. Method B) I have a female standing at
noon in the town square randomly polling men and women.

Roughly the results show as follows: If Men are polling: Then 2/3 of the
men think there is bias but only 1/3 of the women think there is
discrimination; if Women are polling: Then 1/3 of the men think and 2/3
of the women think there is discrimination (That is the ratios reverse).

So survey methods are definitely important.

But before continuing we should emphasize that there are TWO SIDES to
the divorce issue. The Divorce laws were MADE DIFFICULT so that we dont
have every couple who has a fight coming into court the next morning and
asking for a divorce. We dont want to encourage "easy divorce." Of
course we dont want to create agunoth. My point here is that we have to
be very careful in surveying to distinguish between "legitimate gripes"
which SHOULD NOT end in divorce and "legitimate gripes" which SHOULD end
in divorce.

If I had to design a survey instrument I would ask the following 7
questions (to both men and women and to people from each
denomination--after all if the same percentage of people have problems
getting a divorce in each denomination (or as in the general population)
then "we" (The orthodox) do not have a problem. Rather we inherited a
general problem about divorces which has nothing to do with Jewish law.

Suggested survey: a) Did you ever feel at all like getting a divorce. b)
Did you ever want to get a divorce for a period of at least one
month. c) Did you ever want to get a divorce and speak to close friends
and relatives about it d) Did you ever in a fight threaten your spouse
with a divorce e) Did you ever speak to a lawyer, Rabbi or psychological
counselor about getting a divorce f) Did you ever apply to a court for a
divorce g) If you were involved in a divorce proceeding how long from
the time of the initial application did it take to obtain the divorce
(If your case isstill pending indicate Never and the length of time
since you applied). (Note: We may want to "augment" some of the "did you
ever" problems with "how often").

I think it is good to gripe (a function of email groups). But I think
part of a griping session should be to define what we are griping about.
I think the above survey not only exposes issues of agunoth it also
exposes issues related to our current marriage situation.

Hope the above helps

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


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2007 00:13:12 +1000
Subject: Washing one's hands before davening

From: Carl Singer <>
> Our shule davens mincha / maariv b'zman - hence somewhat contiguously
> -- depending on when mincha ends and shkiah.  I noticed recently that
> one of our balabtim exits and washes his hands (a second time, as it
> were) before maariv....same between shacharit & musaf.  ...what's the
> halacha and what are the minhagim- and where are they stated?

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 69:4 clearly states that if there is no hafsaka
between the tefilos there is no need to rewash.


From: Eliezer Wenger <ewenger@...>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 11:15:02 -0400
Subject: Washing one's hands before davening

In response to Carl Singer, Rabbi Rabinowitz in his just published
vol. 1 of Piskei Teshuvos (page 37) writes that although one does not
need to wash his hands before Maariv if he washed them before Mincha and
the tefilos are one after the other, PROVIDED there was no hesech hadaas
(distraction), nevertheless he points out that there are those who are
meticulous and strict and wash their hands also before Maariv.  The same
applies, he writes, to Shacharis and Musaf. In his footnotes he also
refers to what he writes in Vol. 2, but I don't have that volume at

Eliezer Wenger


End of Volume 55 Issue 17