Volume 55 Number 23
                    Produced: Mon Jul 30 22:09:10 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunah Statistics
         [Elazar M. Teitz]
Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor
         [Ken Bloom]
Comparative Jurisprudence
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Congratulations to the 600 new olim from France (articles and pictures)
         [Jacob Richman]
The healing/protective power of various  texts (was: Zohar)
         [Alex Herrera]
Kohen and medical school
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
White Fast & Black Fast (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Shimon Soreq ]


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 12:44:30 GMT
Subject: Re: Agunah Statistics

>> Bear in mind that Jewish law does not provide for divorce by
>> unilateral demand.  Neither the wife (by Biblical law) nor the
>> husband by enactment of Rabbeinu Gershom) can demand a get when the
>> spouse wants to continue the marriage, except under certain specific
>> conditions.

> Even if she wishes to forgo payment of the Ketuba, and simply wants to
> be free of him?

     In a word, yes. Similarly, Rabbeinu Gershom's enactment bars him
from giving a get just to be free of her just by paying the k'suba,
unless she consents.



From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 08:47:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor

>Can a Kohein go to medical school to become a doctor (that necessitates
>being exposed to the sin of Tumas Meis ie., dealing with cadavers and
>body parts). Are heterim given to Kohanim and by whom? Can a copy of
>the heter or article dealing with this subject be emailed to me at
><adbarcoh@...>? Thanks.

I know of Kohanim who have gotten heterim to go to medical school, even
to be in the anatomy lab while others dissect. I'm not sure where to
send you for specific information about the heterim, but possibly rabbis
affiliated with Touro's medical programs would be able to give more

Ken Bloom. PhD candidate. Linguistic Cognition Laboratory.
Department of Computer Science. Illinois Institute of Technology.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:31:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Comparative Jurisprudence

> From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
> As for halachic exegesis, Jay's thesis is refuted by the frequent
> derivation of rules through "asmachta" - we have a result, and find a
> biblical verse to pin it on.

This is an incorrect meaning of the term.  It means that the halacha was
set up and then, in order to make it easier to remember, a "hook" was
given to the pasuk.  The halacha exists before the asmachta is given and
could either be a derabbonon (decree of the rabbis) or completely from
the torah sheba'al pe (Oral Tradition).


17) [line 24] ASMACHTA

(a) At times, when Chazal make a Derashah (extrapolate a Halachah or
other teaching) from a word in the Torah, it happens that the Halachah
or teaching is not mid'Oraisa at all, but rather mid'Rabanan. When this
happens, the Gemara usually states that the Halachah is mid'Rabanan, and
"Kera Asmachta b'Alma," i.e. that the verse is only cited as a "support"
for the Halachah mid'Rabanan, but its source is not actually from the
Torah. (TOSFOS to Bava Basra 66b DH Michlal d'She'ivah writes that in
many instances, Derashos of Chazal in the Midreshei Halachah, such as
Toras Kohanim, which appear to be from the Torah, are only Asmachta'os.)

(b) A second type of Asmachta applies even to a Halachah which actually
is mid'Oraisa. When Chazal find a hint in the Torah to a Halachah which
has its basis in the Oral Tradition, they call this an Asmachta as well
(Eruvin 5a, Chulin 77a).

(c) The Rishonim argue as to the reason why Chazal, in these instances,
used verses to support their teachings.

1. From the words of the RAMBAM (Introduction to his Perush
ha'Mishnayos) it appears that Asmachta'os are only mnemonic devices.
(It is possible that he writes this only with regard to the latter type
of Asmachta, Asmachta'os for Isurei Torah.)

2. MAHARIL (in Likutei Maharil) writes that Chazal used the device of
Asmachta in order to make people regard certain Halachos mid'Rabanan as
if they were actually mid'Oraisa, so that they should not treat them

3. The RITVA (to Rosh Hashanah 16a, see Be'er ha'Golah of the MAHARAL,
Be'er 1) states that when Chazal present an Asmachta, it means that the
Torah meant to suggest that it is fitting to implement such a Halachah,
but that it did not choose to make it obligatory.  The Torah empowered
the Chachamim to enact it should they see the need for it
arise. Similarly, the SHELAH (in Torah she'Be'al Peh, entry titled
"Rabanan") writes that when the Chachamim utilized a hint from a verse,
it means that they learned a particular approach of reasoning from this
verse. Accordingly, it appeared to them that there was a need to decree
this particular Halachah.

4. The MESHECH CHOCHMAH (Parshas Shoftim) claims that when Chazal
present an Asmachta, it means that *after* Chazal instituted a
particular Halachah or enacted a particular decree, they studied the
Torah and found that the Torah had already hinted to that future decree
in its eternal wisdom.

(d) There are those who write that a Halachah mid'Rabanan that is
learned from an Asmachta, and which has a hint in the apparent meaning
of the verses, is more stringent than an Isur mid'Rabanan for which an
Asmachta from the Torah is not offered. These Halachos were given the
status of Halachos of the Torah in certain respects, for example. with
regard to the requirement to be stringent in the case of a Safek (PRI
MEGADIM, Introduction to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 1:2:d)

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
 <SabbaHillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 13:04:48 +0300
Subject: Congratulations to the 600 new olim from France (articles and pictures)

Hi Everyone!

Congratulations to the 600 new olim who made aliyah to
Israel today from France. 

I posted on my website articles and pictures of this exciting, 
historic event. The address is:

If you do not see July 25, 2007 on the top of the page,
hold down the control key on your keyboard and 
press the F5 key. This should refresh your browser with 
the newest page.

May the aliyah from France (and the rest of the world) grow and 
bring more Jews back to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Have a good day,


From: Alex Herrera <odat@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 11:29:57 -0500
Subject: The healing/protective power of various  texts (was: Zohar)

In a recent posting about the amazing protective power of the Zohar, Y.
Medad quotes from a web site he find hard to believe (as do I)...

>> ... The Zohar is not merely paper and ink. It's the truth, and as
>> such is alive with divine energy and is the ultimate instrument for
>> generating miracles. An amazing number of people have reported them
>> just from housing a copy of it in their home.  By simply possessing
>> the books, power, protection, and fulfillment came into their
>> lives....

While I find this difficult to believe, I've see it is a common belief
even amongst the Gentiles. Witness Britney Spears who attempted to
tattoo Hebrew letters on her body after studying the Zohar and Madonna
who scattered the Hebrew letters in a light show presentation during a
concert. Such things have even crept into the common language such as
the famous "magic words" that so many illusionists have used to lend
weight to their hand-waving...  "Abracadabra"... a phrase that
suggestions creating something to Harry Potter's "Avader-cadavera"
(suggesting a cadaver) in which the words have the power to kill.

So... do Jews see such texts as having healing or protective powers?
Apparently so. When I was very ill, my wife was worried so she had all
the mezuzah scrolls in the house changed. I told her this wasn't
necessary, but no matter what I said, she would not hear me. She changed
them all. I got better. No doubt she will think that the changing of the
scrolls was the thing that did "the trick". I cannot prove that it did
not. What I can say is that I prayed for healing and that healing
came. But I also cannot deny that I probably would have healed in any
case. Although my wife was terribly worried, I was not.

Now I must wear a little mezuzah case around my neck, a gift from my
wife (so I must wear it ;-)) but it has no scroll in it. I would kick
and scream if she tried to put one in there because that would make it
an amulet and I won't do that. To me, it is a decorative necklace, a
gift from my wife.

I remember a particular rabbi suggesting that the reason Hurricane
Katrina did so much damage in New Orleans was because the residents did
not study enough Torah. I never heard a direct quote, but I wondered
whether the rabbi thought that Torah study had a protective power. When
we read of Abraham haggling with G-d about saving Sodom for the sake of
ten good men, if there had been ten good men, what would they have been
doing that would have been good enough to merit protection? It is
obvious they weren't studying Torah.  There was no Torah given yet. Lot
apparently merited protection, but what good thing was he doing that the
others were not? It wasn't Torah study. It wasn't a text that was
protecting him.

As far as having the text of the Zohar as a valuable asset in the home
even if one does not read it, I must confess that this is true. I have a
copy of the Zohar (Daniel Matt's first three volumes) in my bookcase and
I haven't read a single word yet. Those volumes sit there as a constant
reminder that I must study the Torah first, and THAT is a valuable asset
to this home. :-) Frankly, the Zohar makes no sense unless you do study
Torah first in any case.

OK... is the Zohar Torah? Don't get me started. The word "Torah" is used
by folks generally to mean any study that involves religious texts or
ideas. In that sense, the Zohar is Torah. But it is not normative. I
treat it as midrash... important lessons to learn, but the text does not
make specific demands on me as the Torah does.

Alex Herrera


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 13:23:27 +0300
Subject: Kohen and medical school

Two respondents in MailJewish 55:21 discuss Kohanim and medical
school. It seems to me that each of these postings contained an error:

a) "If a Cohen did come in contact with a corpse or cadaver he isn't
permitted to *duchen* [nesiyat kapayim] nor is he entitled to get an
aliya to the Torah as a Cohen."

I believe that is only the case if a Kohen killed someone, and even then
this is not a categorical ruling. Otherwise, 99+% of all Kohanim could
not receive the Kohen Aliyah.

b) "My recollection of this issue is that Jonathan Sacks discusses this
in his book on Jewish Medical Ethics".

Could the author be Rabbi (Lord) Immanuel Jakobovits, who authored a
book by that exact name?

Shmuel Hakohen Himelstein


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 12:20:01 GMT
Subject: Re: White Fast & Black Fast

Yehonatan Chipman asked:
> Does anyone know the origins (i.e, an actual source) for the terms
> "white fast" and "black fast," used respectively for Yom Kippur and
> Tisha b'Av?

The only time I've heard these terms is in the context of a very helpful
mnemonic device for remembering the six fast days: "Black and white, man
and woman, summer and winter".

Black and white refer to Tisha B'Av (when the lights are dimmed) and Yom
Kippur (when we wear white clothing).

Man and woman refer to the days whose names include a person's name:
Tzom Gedalia and Taanis Esther.

Summer and winter refer to the fasts which do not have any name, but
only the date: 17 Tammuz and 10 Teves. These two also have the longest
and shortest daylight, regardless of which hemisphere you're in.

Akiva Miller

From: Shimon Soreq  <shimons@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 13:59:14 +0200
Subject: Re:  White Fast & Black Fast

The source is a riddle by the Ibn-Ezra : The Black and the White , the
Man and the Women , the long and the short - referring to the fasts
(it's easy once you know the key to the answer) Where it appears I
havent a clue!

Shimon Soreq


End of Volume 55 Issue 23