Volume 55 Number 64
                    Produced: Wed Sep  5  5:32:12 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bnei Niddah
         [Mark Symons]
Congratulations to the New Olim and 493 pictures posted online
         [Jacob Richman]
Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations (2)
         [Russell J Hendel, Dr. Ben Katz]
Rosh Hashanah in Uman
         [S Wise]
The Shimitta Year and Supporting Israel
         [Rabbi Shmuel Jablon]
Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs (4)
         [Martin Stern, Ari Trachtenberg, Eric, Andy Goldfinger]


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 21:06:24 +1000
Subject: Bnei Niddah

>> Possibly R' Yaakov Kamenetsky would have agreed with a position I've
>> heard used it to explain how toattributed to R' Moshe Feinstein (who
>> reconcile what Chazal tell us about the generally low morals of "b'nei
>> niddah" with the fine characters of today's baalei teshuvah, most of
>> whose mothers presumably didn't keep the laws of taharas
>> hamishpachah). R' Moshe argues that since it's common nowadays for
>> people to go swimming (in natural bodies of water, or perhaps even in
>> swimming pools that might be valid mikvaos on a Biblical level though
>> not on a Rabbinical one), there's a pretty fair chance that the
>> prospective mother indeed did so and thereby removed her deoraisa
>> (Biblical) niddah status, at least bedieved (ex post facto).

> The "Steipler" brings down another reason concerning Baalei
> Teshuva. He claims that the gemara's attitude towards bnei niddah is a
> generalization. Hence, if the child is baal teshuva it proves that
> he/she is in the minority who do have not low morals.

Can that statement of Chazal really be regarded as having halachik-type
status? Doesn't a ben-nida have free will to be moral or not?

Mark Symons


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2007 02:36:16 +0300
Subject: Congratulations to the New Olim and 493 pictures posted online

Hi Everyone!

On Tuesday, September 4, I was at Ben-Gurion airport to greet the new
olim that made aliyah from North America to Israel.

Congratulations to the 210 olim that have returned to their
homeland. The excitement was everywhere and you knew that Jewish history
was unfolding before your very eyes.

This last flight of summer 2007 included 96 singles and 29 families with
46 children. The youngest oleh in the group is 5 weeks old and the
oldest oleh is 93 years old. The flight also included 4 dogs and 2 cats.

I took 331 pictures of the exciting event and I posted them online at:

Jonathan Stein was also at the airport and I posted (thanks Jonathan)
162 of his pictures at:

When the first page appears, press the F11 key to view the full length
of the pictures. To move from page to page, use the navigation buttons
on the bottom of the screen.

May the aliyah from all over of the world grow and bring more Jews back
to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Shana Tova!


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 18:00:29 -0400
Subject: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

Two small but added twists to which is preferable: a) Marrying two non
observant Jews vs. b) Intermarriage.

First: The punishment for intermarriage is that "your children will
leave Judaism" In other words the intermarriage hurts OTHER people while
the non-observant marriage only hurts oneself. It seems then that we can
use the reward punishment argument since it is preferable not to hurt
other people(And the literature on how intermarriage ruins children is
vast and biting)

Second: The chance of "repentance" is greater for the non-observant
marriage then for the intermarriage. Intermarried people have already
made up their mind and will probably not repent. But as Rabbi Friedman
points out in his book, "Doesn't anyone blush anymore" people in all
cultures have a "natural" tendency and need to abstain. When a couple
goes thru this stage they may naturally gravitate to Jewish sources and
laws which advocate this.

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

From: Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 11:02:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

>The "issue" being debated below is related to what has been called
>"meta-halachah", i.e., things that may be technically correct
>halachically, but can't possibly be when you considerr the entire
>halachic framework.  This is related, but by no means identical to
>Ramban's famous "naval bershut haTorah".

Aside from the obvious example below of somehow justifying
intermarriage, another example that comes to mind is this notion found
in the yeshivah world (I am not maligning the yeshivah world in any way
here, this is just the context that I have heard this in) that a cohen
should never be a baal teshuvah.  Obviously it is better to have someone
return to the fold than not, whatever halachic technicalities may be
involved.  The agunah issue also comes to mind.

The problem with a meta-halachic approach (as championed by such
thinkers as Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits, for example) is: Who is in the
driver's seat/where do we draw the line.  To take one (bad) example -
should we allow people to drive to shul if that is their only connection
to Judaism?

Here's to thinking, as oppossed to short-circuits to thought!

Shana tova umetukah to you all!


From: <Smwise3@...> (S Wise)
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 12:46:17 EDT
Subject: Rosh Hashanah in Uman

R' Ovadia Yosef recently caused an uproar by proclaiming that
non-Breslover chasidim should stay home with their families rather than
travel to Uman, to daven at the kever of R' Nachman of Breslov.  I
always am bemused by the numbers that go there each year, figuring many
who are not Breslov are looking for something, but not necessarily to
join the group. There are posters around Flatbush addressing why there
is so much buzz about Uman, and quite frankly I was flabbergasted by
it. Quoting from the works of R'Nachman (at least that is the impression
I got from the sources), I read, "The entire world depends on my Rosh
Hashanah."  There were also , to paraphase,statements to the effect that
he has the power to pull Yidden out of gehinnom by the payos, and that
Hashem has given him the power to understand Rosh Hashanah. All in one,
the quotes seemed not to be in character with what one would expect from
a rebbe, who I thought was to exemplify humility among others. I don't
recall anywhere in the Torah where Moshe Rabbenu touted his direct
pipeline to Hashem. Am I missing something here when people flock to
Uman because the rebbi himself extolled his purported powers?



From: Rabbi Shmuel Jablon <rabbij@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 13:06:00 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
Subject: The Shimitta Year and Supporting Israel

Rabbi Shmuel Jablon
(Head of Lower School, Fuchs Mizrachi School in Cleveland; Member,
Rabbinical Council of America) 

With the year 5768 being a Shmitta (Sabbatical) Year it Eretz Yisrael, I
felt it important to publicize (with his permission) the halachic
positions of HaRav Shlomo Aviner shlit"a (Rosh Yeshivat Ateret
Yerushalayim and Rav of Bet El) regarding the Heter Mechira and how we
can best conduct ourselves (including outside of Israel).

As many people know, Rav Aviner strongly holds that the Heter Mechira is
vital to the Jewish Community of the State of Israel.  This is a Heter
(permission) that goes back more than a century, and was strongly
promulgated by HaRav Avraham Yitzchak Kook zt"l, first Ashkenazi Chief
Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael (see Shabbat haAretz).

Rav Aviner notes that it is important for all of us- both inside and
outside of Israel- to purchase fruits grown by Jews in the Land of
Israel.  It is particularly important not to purchase anything from
enemies who wish to destroy Israel and the Jewish People.  However, when
I asked him if those of us living in the U.S. (where the surrounding
non-Jewish farmers are certainly not our enemies) should purchase
Israeli fruit grown using the Heter or American fruit (that obviously is
not), he answered that it is still preferable for us to purchase Israeli
fruit as this supports the Jewish Community there.

(In other articles, Rav Aviner notes that if one is "strict" to not
purchase Jewish fruits and vegetables grown under the Heter Mechira,
they are being lenient in their obligation to support the Jewish
community of Israel.  If they purchase from our enemies, they are

With the questions raised recently about the Chief Rabbinate reducing
use of the Heter Mechira, Rav Aviner suggested I contact the Rabbinate
to see if exported fruits and vegetables were indeed being grown and
harvested via the Heter.  I contacted the Shmitta office at the
Rabbinate, and they confirmed that this was still the case.  However, as
stores in America don't have supervision for fruits, they could not
promise that every piece of fruit arriving from Israel was under the
heter.  When I asked Rav Aviner about this, he wrote me that there is no
concern as a vast majority of the fruit arriving here is clearly
permitted- and Shmitta today is Rabbinic not Toraitic (due to questions
of the counting of the years, etc.).

Please note that if one travels to Israel, if one purchases Jewish fruit
known as "Otzar Bet Din," these fruits do have the holiness of Shmitta.
Thus, one must be careful to follow all of the relevant halachot
(including not taking these fruits outside of Israel and properly and
respectfully discarding of any leftovers).  It is possible for people in
the U.S. to buy wine that is "Otzar Bet Din" and thus would also have
this sanctity.  One would again need to be carefully to treat this with
proper respect, and not waste any of the wine.

(When I discussed these issues with Rabbi Moshe Granatstein, Rav of
Green Road Synagogue and Mara D'Atra of Fuchs Mizrachi School, he
concurred with all of the above opinions.)

Therefore, I encourage all of us, whenever possible and affordable, to
purchase Jewish fruit from Israel- before, during and after the Shmitta

Those interested in seeing copies of Rav Aviner's faxes to me may visit
my web site, www.rabbijablon.com, and click on
www.rabbijablon.com/RavAvinerShmitta.pdf .  Those interested in longer
articles from Rav Aviner on this subject should visit the library on his
publisher's web site, www.havabooks.co.il .


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 15:59:05 +0100
Subject: Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs

On Fri, 31 Aug 2007 11:08:42 -0400, Carl Singer <casinger@...>

> It's that time of year again -- I'm getting between 5 and 10 mailings
> per day from tzedukah organizations -- most that I've never heard of --
> requesting funds.  For various reasons that I won't go into here, I do
> not give my tzedukah gelt to many of these organizations.
> I am aware that legally I have no obligation to return unsolicited
> merchandise -- BUT
> QUESTION -- What is my halahic obligation re: the trinkets (calendars,
> labels, New Year's cards, notepads, etc.) enclosed with these mailings?

These organisations send out these 'gifts' in full knowledge that many,
if not most, recipients will not send a donation. Therefore they have,
in effect, made them hefker (ownerless). So unless they enclose a
prepaid return envelope to indicate otherwise the recipient can do what
he or she wishes with these (probably unwanted) 'gifts'

Martin Stern

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 21:57:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs

Seems to me that the secular law sets up a well-accepted understanding
that anything you put in the mail is being given to the recipient, no
strings attached.  As such, there would be no requirement to return
anything to anyone ... it's yours.

From: <erosen613@...> (Eric)
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2007 16:39:48 -0400
Subject: Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs

Carl asks: "What is my halahic obligation re: the trinkets (calendars,
labels, New Year's cards, notepads, etc.) enclosed with these

I'd refer him (and others) to a new sefer entitled "Priorities in
Tzedaka" by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, which outlines many of the issues we
are all confronted with regarding how much to give, to whom, and in
which order.  On Page 45 R. Goldberger says"after caring for yourself,
your spouse and your dependent children, you should not turn down
legitimate requests......an exception to this rule is that one is not
obligated to send money to every letter request, only to a direct
personal request."  A few sentences later he says "as regards mailings,
according to halacha and according to government laws, one is not
required to send anything back, when you did not request the mailing,
even when an organization sends you a gift."  But he also adds that it
is meritorious to send something in response, no matter the amount, if
one is able to do so.

L'shanah tovah to all,


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 09:40:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs

I once attended a shiur given by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann dealing with
unsolicited gifts from tzedakahs. One person asked:

"If you are not going to donate, what do you do with the gift?"

Rabbi Heinemann said "You can keep the gift."

The person asked: "but if you don't donate, they send you a letter asking
again for the donation."

Rabbi Heinemann: "You can keep the letter too."

-- Andy Goldfinger


End of Volume 55 Issue 64