Volume 57 Number 43 
      Produced: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 08:21:58 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

(was) Cameras, sensors and elevators 
    [Carl Singer]
Bereshit 23: 6-16 
    [Joseph Mosseri]
Cameras and sensors 
    [Bernard Raab]
Is there a halachic concept of "take one for the team"? 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Visiting graves (6)
    [Joel Rich  <Smwise3@...> Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Akiva Miller  Alex Heppenheimer  Yisrael Medad]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: (was) Cameras, sensors and elevators

Bernie Raab's posting reminded me of a story that my Mother loves to tell as
the chulent comes to the table.
In her shteitel  (Ludsk, Poland) everyone brought their chulent pots to the
town baker's oven on erev Shabbos.
She always points out that if you came home with the wrong pot, you might
luckily find some meat in your chulent :)

Can you imagine today a community so homogeneous, etc., that would trust
each others food - everyone's.  Or for that matter using the eruv to take
the pot home.



From: Joseph Mosseri <joseph.mosseri@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 12,2009 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Bereshit 23: 6-16

What is going on in these 10 pesouqim?

Shem'enou Adoni (23:6)
Shema'ouni (23:8)
Shema'eni (23:11)
Shema'eni (23:13)
Shema'eni (23:15)
Vayishma' (23:16)
BeOzne Bene Het (23:10)
BeOzne 'Am HaAress (23:13)
BeOzne Bene Het (23:16)

Why such a large concentration of SH.M.'A. in these pesouqim? Do we find this
any where else? If that wasn't enough we also have all these instances of people
talking into ears. This may sound silly but was everyone deaf???

Any ideas?
Joey Mosseri


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, Nov 13,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
> According to the Hazon Ish the melacha that one transgresses  by using
> electricity has nothing to do with heat or fire but is boneh that is you are
> in effect "building" a new physical construct every time you close an
> electric circuit. Therefore there is nothing indeterminate or random about
> electric usage.

That opinion of the Chazon Ish would deny the validity of the Grama switch. I
also read where Rav S.Z. Auerbach zt'l disputes the objection of "boneh" for
electricity. Does closing a door produce a new physical construct? The commonly
applied mechanical analogues which many use to derive the laws of electric usage
may not be the most valid analogues for many of the new electrical devices and
in the light of modern physical understanding. Many reasons have been given for
denying the use of electricity on Shabbat which appear designed specifically to
deny any use of this form of energy. Why?

Bernie R.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 15,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Is there a halachic concept of "take one for the team"?

In MJ Vol 41 a simplistic answer was given to the question of whether one person
can sin to save another person from sin. One talmudic passage from shabbath was

My purpose here is NOT to say that one should sin to prevent another from
sinning. My purpose here is to say that the issue is complicated. I will start
by reminiscing on how Rabbi Moses Feinstein wrote his responsa. Rabbi Feinstein
was famous for his responsa precisely because he never answered anyone simply.
If there was a final answer with one talmudic passage supporting it nevertheless
Rabbi Feinstein would cite numerous other passages which MIGHT lead one to think
otherwise. Rabbi Feinstein's greatness lie in the interweaving of all these
passages into a coherent responsa.

So my purpose here is to show several other Talmudic passages which might lead
one to think otherwise. I am NOT attempting to imitate Rav Moshe nor am I
attempting to reach a final answer. Also while I think it is dangerous to state
that one can sin to prevent someone else from sinning it is equally dangerous to
say the opposite.

I will suffice with two passages. (Needless to say everything is
controversial...my hope is that this will generate (civil and intelligent)

Passage #1: (Megillah 14b) Recall that David wanted to kill Naval for double
crossing him.  The Talmud states that Avigayil went to David to prevent a
murder. Among other things she showed him his thigh (Ahem....for those
unfamiliar with Jewish law, Jewish married women are prohibited to show thighs
to calm men down). The Talmud is quite graphic...it says David jumped three
miles from the sight of her thigh and asked her to sin with him. She replied in
typical female fashion that he would be a great man someday (Ahem...the lines
men fall for) and implied he should abstain from adultery and murder. 

By the way: A cute follow up: While on an El Al flight a few years ago I learned
that this Talmudic passage far from being obscure actually has been commemorated
in our folklore. The famous "bagel and locks" gets its name from ABAGEL
(Ahem...the bagel is a female symbol (in case you didn't notice) and
commemorates ABAGEL showing her thigh to King David).

Now is this relevant? I think so. First no Rabbi would have allowed Abigail to
show her thigh to calm King David down. Secondly (on a much more serious note)
there are many women (on this list) with husbands in the business world. These
husbands are exposed to female secretaries, female supervisors, female rivals,
etc. Sometimes these women when they see the way their husbands are when they
come home may feel (and even act) like Abigal (possibly during the prohibited
parts of their marital relationship).

What is bothering me is that these women have no Rabbi to turn to. A women
SHOULD be able to come to a Rabbi and say that her husband came home and looks
quite tight from his secretary who has been giving him a hard time..."what am I
allowed to do."

A few years ago I read (I think in AMIT magazine) that because the Rabbinate in
England is not giving clear guidance (on fertilization issues) many barren women
are turning to their own devices or other movements. This article illustrates a
point: If the Rabbinate will not deal with the real world then they will lose
congregants who need guidance while in the real world.

Passage #2:(Rambam Shabbath 2:1) A famous Talmudic debate concerns obligatory
desecration of the Sabbath in order to save a life. The question is when you
desecrate the Sabbath to save someone's life how do you view it: a) Do you say
there is NO LONGER a prohibition of Sabbath law and what you are doing is
completely permissible or b) Do you say there is a CONFLICT between the two laws
(Sabbath and saving a life) and saving a life OVERRIDES desecrating the Sabbath.
The Rambam decides as law, option b). In other words Jewish law holds that you
can SIN and desecrate the Sabbath in order to fulfill the commandment of saving
a life. 

There is an interesting consequence to this which is overlooked. Suppose a
person needs aspirin. Two people go to get aspirin for the sick person. But the
aspirin of the second person to arrive is not needed. So this person
inadvertently desecrated the Sabbath to save a life but the life was saved. It
might therefore be that this person needs to bring a sin offering (Proof that a
sin was committed) (There are many more details and ramifications here...I just
wanted to illustrate a point). (Note the technicality that "saving a life" is a
positive commandment....so when I desecrate the Sabbath I e.g. obtain aspirin so
that the sick person shouldn't sin and violate "saving a life (his/her own)" 

True: Saving a life overrides any commandment but you are missing my
point.....the FACT that saving a life overrides any commandment PROVES that you
can sin (violate commandments) to avoid the sin of "not standing by the life of
your neighbor."

Summary: I think the blanket statement that one never sins to save someone else
from sinning needs review study and modification. I think the issues are
relevant to how we live in the modern world and serious dialogue should take place.

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


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Visiting graves

Stuart Wise:
> What is the purpose behind it? The neshama [soul --MOD] is not entombed there 
> and the physical part of the human is of no consequence.  When we daven 
> [pray --MOD] at a grave, where are the prayers going? What is the significance
> attached that inspires people to visit graves not only of their loved ones but
> also of great people?

It depends :-)
There's a kabbalistic understanding that the soul actually is in proximity to
the body/grave for some period of time (don't ask me what that means)

The more general notion is the impact it makes on you.  If one holds of this
it's important to remember aiui that you are asking the departed to pray for
you, not to "do" for you. (again, don't ask me exactly what that means)

Joel Rich

From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Visiting graves

V-e-r-y old tradition.

See Rashi, Parshas Shelach 13:22 about KalEV davvening at his ancestor's
graves in Chevron.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Visiting graves

> From: <Smwise3@...>
> I am somewhat bemused by the custom of visiting graves.
> What is the purpose behind it? The neshama [soul --MOD] is not entombed there
> and the physical part of the human is of no consequence. When we daven [pray
> --MOD] at a grave, where are the prayers going? What is the significance
> attached that inspires people to visit graves not only of their loved ones but
> also of great people?
> Stuart Wise

It would appear that this is for the benefit of the person praying and
involves the feelings and kavanah (concentration?) involved by going
to that spot. Of course the prayers are directed to Hashem and
*theoretically* can be made from any place. However, it is similar to
the idea of always praying from a "makom kavuah" (set place) in shul
rather than sitting in a different location every time. In fact, I
have seen that there are people who state that Kever Rachel (grave
monument of our mother Rachel) is not really the grave, and that
technically even kohanim can go in because there is no tumah
(impurity) as there would be in a real grave. However, the fact that
people have been praying there since *at least* the time that Moses
Montefiore built it, has given it a kedushah that helps the prayers of
everyone who goes. Similarly, praying at the graves of the great ones,
helps us to make our prayers connected to their zchus (merit).

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

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Visiting graves

Stuart Wise asked why we visit graves, if the soul isn't there, and related

Logically and intellectually, I think he is correct. There's no difference
between that place and any other place. But on an emotional level, there is a
world of difference. On the one hand, the person's physical remains are doing
nothing but rotting away, but on the other hand, their mere presence is our last
physical connection with them, and this can inspire a person to feel their
presence emotionally. In turn, this leads to everything else that you may have
heard about visiting graves.

Consider the concept of G-d's "Shechina" - often translated as G-d's "Divine
Presence". Whatever it is, it is NOT present in any part of the universe more
than in any other part - Hashem fills the *entire* universe! Even so, there is a
place in Jerusalem where the Presence is more manifest than elsewhere, a place
where the Presence is *felt* more than elsewhere.

We are emotional beings, and these concepts help us to feel things which are
beyond what logic allows.

Akiva Miller

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Visiting graves

There is a Chassidic discourse by R' Dovber Schneuri, the second Lubavitcher
Rebbe, titled "Lehavin Inyan Hahishtat'chus" ("to understand the idea of
prostrating oneself [at a gravesite]"), in which he discusses this at some
length. (Links to the Hebrew text,page by page, are available at
http://chabadlibrary.org/books/default.aspx?furl=/adhaam/maamarei/ku/2.) He
discusses five reasons for the practice.

(I doubt I have done justice to his thoughts with the summary below. It is well
worth studying the entire discourse, although I don't know whether it's
available in translation.)

1. It brings to one's mind the idea of his or her own eventual death,which then
helps tame one's evil inclination.

2. Specifically for graves of tzaddikim:one's prayers there are more likely to
be accepted by G-d. This, for two sub-reasons:

(a) Because it's a holy place. [R' Dovber doesn't specify why this is so. It may
be related to point 4 below, or it may be because the body of the tzaddik (with
which he performed mitzvos) lies there. (Incidentally, when you said that "the
physical part of the human is of no consequence" - that's not quite correct. The
body bears the same relation to the soul as, say, a worn-out Torah scroll to the
Divine wisdom inscribed in it; it has itself become a sacred object and retains
that status.)]

(b) Because these prayers are accompanied by a heightened sense of one's
mortality and thus of contrition, as in reason 1 above.

3. Specifically for graves of close and dear relatives: visiting them brings a
person to tears of remembrance. Then, once he or she is in a somber mood, it is
much easier to be somber and tearful over one's sins, and to do teshuvah for them.

4. Specifically for graves of tzaddikim whom one knew in person: There is an
aspect of the soul that stays with the body even after burial. Consequently, one
can and should feel at least the same sense of awe at the tzaddik's gravesite as
one did when seeing them in the flesh, and the same sense of embarrassment about
his or her improper deeds (bearing in mind, too, that the tzaddik's soul itself
reflects G-d's presence on earth). This in turn will lead the person to teshuvah.

5. Specifically for close disciples of the tzaddik: by visiting their master's
grave it becomes possible for his disciples to re-join their souls with the
tzaddik's, and thereby to reach levels in Torah knowledge that previously were
inaccessible to them.

There are of course many other reasons given in Torah sources.

Another very interesting idea is offered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l (in Toras
Menachem 5714, vol. 2, pp. 30ff - available online at
http://www.hebrewbooks.org/19852), specifically about tzaddikim who are buried
outside of the Land of Israel. The Gemara (Kesubos 111a) states that at the
Revival of the Dead, G-d will create subterranean tunnels for these tzaddikim,
through which they will walk to the Land of Israel and surface there. In a
sense, then, says the Rebbe, the fact that these tunnels are destined to exist
renders the attached graves halachically a part of the Land of Israel even now
(see Pesachim 86a regarding tunnels that exit onto the Temple precincts, and
Oholos 7:3 regarding a doorway that is planned to be used for removing a corpse
from a house), and so these places have an extra measure of holiness.

Kol tuv,

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Visiting graves

Stuart Wise's bemusement at the custom of visiting graves is logical.
However, In Sotah 34B we read: And they went up by the South and he came
unto Hebron  - it should have read 'and they came'! - Raba said: It
teaches that Caleb held aloof from the plan of the spies and went and
prostrated himself upon the graves of the patriarchs, saying to them,
'My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan of
the spies'. And in Ta'anit 16A: we read: "Why the custom to visit
gravesites.R' Hanina says in order to request from the dead mercy upon
us".  There are many more sources in the Zohar, Midrashim, Rishonim,


End of Volume 57 Issue 43