Volume 58 Number 27 
      Produced: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 20:31:59 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"magical" influences on halacha 
    [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
burkas (2)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]
Community Power 
    [Carl Singer]
eating before a fast before dawn  (2)
    [Martin Stern]
electronic stuff, etc. 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]
fences -- and dina d'malchusa dina 
    [Carl Singer]
halachicly correct dress 
    [Carl Singer]
ignorance of sexual matters (2)
    [Yossi Ginzberg  Daniel Wiener]
moderator's translations 
    [Shayna Kravetz]
modesty and separation of the sexes (2)
    [Akiva Miller  Bernard Raab]
Yom Yerushalyim 
    [David Ziants]
young couples 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "magical" influences on halacha

Russel Hendel wrote:
> [This] ATTITUDE is a violation of the Biblical prohibition of divination
> (Nichush). You are prohibited to say/act "A black cat crossed my path; 
> therefore I will not go out today; my loaf of bread dropped; therefore today
> is a bad day for business deals."

> My understanding is that we are REQUIRED to base our actions on scientific,
> rational, and/or common sense criteria. The belief that reality communicates
> symbolically is prohibited. I don't see this as a "view of Rambam"; I see this
> as a biblical requirement.

> As for the other world? We are required to believe in prophetic communication
> from God to man through dreams and prophetic visions. But that is a far cry
> from seeing "black cats" as signs from heaven.

> I don't see how anyone can hold what David says unless they properly respond
>  and explain what the biblical prohibitions mean.

I am puzzled by Russell Hendel's view. In Talmudic times people believed in 
ruach ra'ah (=bad spirit) shedim (=ghosts) etc., and the Talmud is full of these
"unscientific" stories and rules, and this is an essential part of our heritage.
We believe in the Torah shebichtav (=written Torah) and in the Torah she-be-al
Peh (=oral Torah).

For example in Masechet Pesachim (around page 111) one can find the following:

1. Discussion that it is a bad omen to drink in pairs, and the ways to avoid it.

2. Discussion that it is a bad omen to defecate between a palm tree and a
close-by wall.

3.  Discussion that it is a bad omen for a woman, or a dog to walk through a
group of men.

4. Discussion that it is a bad omen to pass by poured water (Sewage?)unless one
covers it up with soil and/or spit into it.

In fact Russell says that this kind of material quoted above is a violation
against Nichush. Doesn't Russell think that our Talmudic sages knew about this
topic as much as he does? As they discussed it all over the Talmud; a good place
to find it condensed is in the book Ein Yaakov.

Gilad Gevaryahu


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 31,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: burkas

On Fri, May 28,2010, Akiva Miller wrote:
> If I'm understanding this correctly, Mr. Tzohar sees nothing wrong with
> separate tables for men and women, but he does see something wrong with
> separate sidewalks for men and women. And he offers no explanation for why he
> makes this distinction.

Surely there is a considerable difference. People usually take advantage of
kiddushim to socialise and, therefore, there is a possibility that
inappropriate relationships might develop. Though this could possibly also
happen in the street or at a store, any such encounters tend to be
transitory. People walk in the street for the purpose of going to a
destination, and go to a store to make a purchase, not for socialising.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, May 31,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: burkas

Akiva Miller writes:
> If I'm understanding this correctly, Mr. Tzohar sees nothing wrong with
> separate tables for men and women, but he does see something wrong with
> separate sidewalks for men and women. And he offers no explanation for
> why he makes this distinction. 
Let me suggest one:
Tables are usually at private events like weddings, britot, etc.
Sidewalks are very public
Since already women have been jostled, jeered and had liquids thrown at
them for walking the wrong pavement, there seems to be a distinction
over who owns the public square.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 3,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Community Power

Excerpting from Bernard Raab's posting:

Michael Mirsky wrote:
> ...I am an electrical engineer specializing in power engineering (the
> electric power system - I work at an electrical utility).... The power system
> is in a constant delicate balance at every moment between generation and
> demand.  When you turn on an appliance, a generator somewhere in the system has
> to immediately increase its output or the frequency of the system (60 Hz)
> will drop ... In a large power system, devices everywhere are constantly >
turning on and off...

Wow, I am thrilled to have a real-life power engineer contribute to the
discussion. His description of how a power plant responds to changes in
demand was eye-opening. I am guessing that such responses are all automatic, and
do not require human intervention. Would that make a difference? 

Another issue:

This situation seems analogous to the apartment building that has a communal
hot water heater. As I recall from previous MJ postings, some hold it's OK to
use hot water on Shabbos in that situation. I believe the reasoning is that
there's no directly traceable cause and effect relationship between turning on
the hot water tap and the resulting happenings with the boiler.



From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 6,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: eating before a fast before dawn

Sammy Finkelman writes:

> The Agudath Anshei Mamod small wall calendar gives the starting times and
> ending times of the fast in new York. For instance, this year, in New York,
> the fast of the 17th of Tammuz on June 30, starts at 4:15 AM and ends at
> 9:26 PM.

I will leave the halakhic propriety to others. It is important to note that the
time for alot hashachar given above probably represent 72 minutes before
sunrise. 72 minutes is the normative time before sunset defining halakhic dawn
in the Middle East around the spring/fall equinox. It would seem preferable to
consider it dawn when is it equivalently light/dark out in the summer and in NY.
Calculating that using a 16% degree depression angle would end up with dawn
about 40 minutes earlier.

Given the nature of what is being done, using the earlier time seems entirely
appropriate. Many rabbis, largely unaware of some simple science in this area,
allow one to eat at a time that is well past dawn (defined as the first light of
the day.) I have even heard learned defense of this fixed 72 minutes position,
but it is likely a common but very fundamental error. There are yet stricter
positions, but given this being a rabbinic fast, they are probably not required.

William Gewirtz

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 7,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: eating before a fast before dawn 

On Sun, Jun 6,2010, Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...> wrote:

> Regarding the question whether one is allowed to rise early before a fast in
> order to eat:
> One is allowed to eat before a fast as long as one begins eating at least
> one half hour before the fast begins. 
> So if one had the intention of rising and eating before the fast, it would
> be permitted to rise early and eat and drink (with the proviso that he began
> eating 1/2 hour before the fast begins). (Mishnah Berurah 564:4).
> The Rema adds that drinking does not require one to make a tenai before
> going to bed because people customarily drink something during the night
> even after going to bed. (Mishnah Berurah 654:4)

These rules have further ramifications in that the same applies to any day.
One is not allowed to eat before shacharit (unless one is weak or has some
other health problem). However one can eat before alot hashachar [daybreak],
something I have done from time to time when having to leave home very early
to supervise the kashrut of food manufacturers or to catch a plane.

It is not a law restricted specifically to a fast day.

Martin Stern


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 4,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: electronic stuff, etc.

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote:

> Another issue: Michael mentions hydroelectric generators as not 
> requiring any burning of fuel. But the world is clearly moving toward the
> other cleaner carbon-free power of solar, wind, nuclear and other forms which
> do not burn fuel. Finally, both Stuart and Michael have concluded that only
> incandescent bulbs represent an "issur d'oraitah" [torah prohibition].
> This is good news since our government has decreed the demise of most
> incandescent light bulbs by 2014, and all but a few odd applications by
> 2020. 

This is more of a bein adam LeChaveiro issue: not everyone can live with
fluorescent lights. They are known to trigger migraines, some so severe,
that they include temporary loss of sight!  I have a friend who has a
problem finding a job b/c they can't be in a room lighted by only
fluorescent lights for more than 30 minutes without suffering!

I've heard reports that anywhere between 5% to 35% of the population are
affected to some degree by fluorescent lights. Many also report that they
are not good for use in work that includes lots of papers.

Here is some information:

"Unfortunately, the problem with fluorescent lighting is different and more
difficult to address. Although generally imperceptible to the human eye,
fluorescent lighting has a flicker. It's the flicker itself that's actually
a Migraine trigger. Thus, it doesn't matter what kind of fixture houses the
tubes. People who are sensitive to that flicker will have a problem with it.
The best solution is to remove it from your immediate work area. Sit down
and discuss the problem with your supervisor or other appropriate person. If
whomever is in charge of maintenance has a problem with leaving a fixture
empty, suggest that they simply replace the tubes in your work area with
burned out tubes."

(from: http://headaches.about.com/od/triggers/a/office_lighting.htm  )

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 2,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: fences -- and dina d'malchusa dina

Michael's discussion / questions (Volume 58 Number 22) form an interesting
platform for previous discussions of dina d'malchusa dina

Are we asking for an halachic ruling (in the absence of civil law) -- or a
legal ruling (for the jurisdiction where this took place.)   AND what if
these conflict?



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 2,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: halachicly correct dress

I'm afraid the responses have the tail wagging the dog.
My post had nothing to do with mikveh usage or taharas mishpacha.
The question restated is:  "Define halachicly correct dress"



From: Yossi Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 2,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: ignorance of sexual matters

<At my expression of skepticism, she insisted that she was not making it up. I
suppose it is possible in some extremely isolated haredi circles. Am I being
duped? Bernie R.>

If you're not being duped, she is. Perhaps, just perhaps, a girl could grow up
ignorant (although that is hard to fathom). A boy could not. Too many Gemaras
use "Bias kidushin" in case law and too much Chassidus uses coital imagery. Too
many statements in the Torah require at least basic knowledge. 

The only conceivable way it could happen would be if both were severely

Yossi Ginzberg

From: Daniel Wiener <wiener2@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 7,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: ignorance of sexual matters

As a urologist for over 30 years, I have spoken to a handful of couples as
described to Bernie. They were not pregnant because they were not having sex. No
one explained to them how to do it.


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 6,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: moderator's translations

While I strongly applaud the moderators' interpolations for  Hebrew 
and Yiddish terms, there have been a couple lately that struck me as 
wrong.  Most recently, in Issue 58-25, on the topic of Gabbais and 
Yahrzeit, we have:

>  Not being a baal tefila [melodious], I have never asked to daven for the amud
>  on shevi'i of pesach and yom kippur- my yahrzeits for my parents.

Last time I looked, a "Ba'al Tefillah" was not someone who was 
melodious but someone who had the skill to lead the davening and did 
so.  The ability to carry a tune is certainly part of the equipment 
for the job but it is not identical with it.

And in Issue 58-22, on the topic of Eating before a fast day, you write:
>he is not my morah d'asrah [spiritual leader --MOD] or posek [halachic 
>decider --MOD].

I'm not sure that's an accurate translation either.  "Marah d'atra" 
(as I would read it in my part of Judaism) means literally "master of 
the place" and refers, as I understand it, to the person with 
halachic authority for a particular institution (such as a shul) or a 
place (such as a town).  Again, it overlaps with but is not identical 
to a "spiritual leader".

As always, thanks for all the excellent work you do in running this list.

Kol tuv,


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: modesty and separation of the sexes

On the topic of separate tables - and separate sidewalks - for men and women,
David Tzohar wrote:

> ... it is also a rule that the poskim of our generation should
> refrain from burdening us with new chumrot that were not practiced
> in former generations. 

I know of no such rule. I would say that they should refrain from NEEDLESSLY
burdening us with new chumrot that were not practiced in former generations --
but if they see that circumstances have changed, and that there is a need to be
strict in a new area where no such need existed before, then it is not only
appropriate for them to institute new chumrot, but it is their duty to do so.
What is a leader for, if not to guide his flock, and to keep them from danger?

We recently had a very long thread about new electronic devices, and several
posters appealed to the poskim to find leniencies which might allow these new
devices, saying that the new situations demand new solutions. I think that a
good example of this is the "Sabbath mode" stoves and ovens, which were
unthinkable just a decade or two ago. For thousands of years we have been
cooking fresh food on Yom Tov, but the new designs of modern kitchen appliances
would make this almost impossible, if not for the Sabbath mode.

Let's be fair. If new circumstances make it desirable for the authorities to
come up with new leniencies, isn't it also conceivable that new circumstances
might make new stringencies desirable as well?

We are living in an age where sexuality of all sorts is becoming more and more
public. Any of us can see that things which the average American considered
off-limits or borderline just a few years ago, have now become borderline or
even mainstream. From what I hear, there has been an accompanying increase in
the extramarital affairs among otherwise-observant Jews. Some feel that one
possible weapon against this problem would be for newly married couples to be
not quite as friendly with other married couples as was done in the past, and
have been advising them against sharing Shabbos meals and other activities which
might lead them to cross lines that should not be crossed. Others feel that when
men and women walk on the same side of the street, it might occasionally lead to
the forming of an acquaintance that later becomes a friendship and worse.

In previous generations, these activities were -- perhaps -- totally innocent.
But in today's atmosphere of hypercharged sexuality, I can easily understand why
our leaders would try to pull the reins in, and limit our opportunities to
stray. I don't necesarily agree with them, but I'm certainly not going to
suggest that they are wrong.

Once upon a time, there was nothing wrong with eating chicken with milk, or with
handling money on Shabbos. But circumstances  became such that the Sages saw a
need to forbid these activities. Were they guilty of burdening us with new
chumrot that were not practiced in former generations? I think not.

Akiva Miller

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 10,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: modesty and separation of the sexes

> From: David Tzohar:

> Separate tables at a kiddush falls somewhere in the middle. There are several
> responsa in Iggerot Moshe where Rav Moshe Feinstein said that at festive public
> meals like sheva brachot it is taken for granted that men and women sit at
> separate tables, he deals with the question of whether or not a mechitza is
> necessary. Therefore it cannot be said that this is a new chumra if the foremost
> American Posek of the last generation ruled this way. On the other hand I
> believe there are more lenient opinions which could be found. In any case it is
> a long way from separate sidewalks.

How to explain please that at the weddings of R. Moshe's children there was NO
separate seating at the dinners. This is well known in New York orthodox circles
and I recently verified with a member of his family.

Bernie R.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, May 31,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Yom Yerushalyim

I think that the rationale is that we do not want to cause division in 
the People by making the prayers of Yom Ha'Atzma'ut on a different day 
to what everyone is celebrating.

Unfortunately, Yom Yerushalayim is not an official national holiday (but 
a "Yom Bechira" [=choice holiday for employees]) and is not as widely 
celebrated by the secular population. With respect to the adult secular 
population, I think it is seen more of a day of military ceremonies. 
With respect to the main celebrations for Yom Yerushalayim, it is the 
religious schools and (religious zionist) yeshivot that tend to take a 
lead in the organization and they have control on when the flag marches 
etc. are held - for example Thursday afternoon and evening if Yom 
Yerushalayim falls on Friday.  This, without actually changing the day 
of Yom Yerushalayim, as Friday is a day off for many Israelis anyway and 
so why should hallel be moved...

David Ziants

Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 7,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: young couples

Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...> wrote:

> I noticed that it is common here (Israel) that some young couples, go away
> almost every Shabbat, usually to the 2 sets of parents. Some even have
> rules and regulations, like what Yom Tov here, and what there... I do not
> impose that on our married children. Of course it is nice to have the
> grandchildren over, but young couples need to build their own new life.
> First year married avraichim do not go to night kollel.

One of the reasons that young religious couples, especially where the
husband is still in Kollel/Hesder Yeshiva/Army go to the parents on Shabbat
and Chagim, is to save money. It is definitely the young couple's choice.

In other families, when the kids (young couple) ask, the parents send them
the food for Shabbat (pre-cooked).

The reason for the "rules" is to keep things evenhanded.  There are parents
that "keep score" and complain if the kids go to "the other side" more often
then they come to them. Of course it's usually nonsense, but the rules help
to keep the peace in many cases.

As a mother of daughters, I don't expect my married kids (who don't live
near me) to come for Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur or Shavu'ot (except if they
are about to give birth and want mommy nearby) b/c it is more important
to the husbands to be at their Yeshiva than it is for the women to be at the
synagogue where they were raised. They usually resolve this by coming
"extra" at another holiday or some other Shabbat. B"H we're very relaxed
about this, and I make a point of NOT counting who went where for what
period of time. I've seen how destructive this could be at friends of mine.

As for guests, when we were still in Kollel (in Yamit), many times we would
each cook our own Shabbat dinner [if some parent hadn't sent something] - and
then we would take our food with us to a neighbor and eat together. It was lots
of fun.

Shoshana L. Boublil


End of Volume 58 Issue 27