Volume 58 Number 28 
      Produced: Sun, 13 Jun 2010 17:59:32 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

be fruitful and multiply 
    [Martin Stern]
Bil'am  - Balaam 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
community Power 
    [Michael Mirsky]
eating before a fast before dawn 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
halachicly correct dress 
    [Carl Singer]
hidur mitzva  (2)
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
ignorance of sexual matters 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Moabite women in the desert 
    [Russell J Hendel]
separate seating 
    [Avraham Etzion]
some further information on the author of the Makor Baruch. 
    [Avraham Norin]
yaqum purqun 
    [Yisrael Medad]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: be fruitful and multiply

On Thu, Jun 3,2010, Ari Trachtenberg wrote:
> The discussion about about the definition of marriage brought up a
> long-standing halachic conflict that I have been unable to properly
> understand.
> My understanding is that the mitzvah of "be fruitful and multiply" applies
> only to men in the tradition, in that women are not obligated to marry and
> have children. On the other hand, it is the wife in a marriage who has final
> halachic control over having children, whether and when.

This is somewhat academic for Ashkenazi women, if they are married, since
their husbands are prohibited by the Cherem [ban --MOD] of Rabbeinu Gershom from
taking a second wife. This means that they will be committing the transgression
of lifnei iveir lo titein michshsol [causing another person - the husband - to
sin] if they refuse to have children.
> So, what happens if a husband has not fulfilled his Torah responsibility but
> his wife has definitively ruled out more children.
> Does the man have an obligation to divorce his wife and remarry a woman who
> might be willing to give him more children?

Theoretically, this is the case but the Rema rules that, nowadays, we do not
force couples to separate in such circumstances.

However if the husband wishes to fulfill his Torah obligation and his wife
refuses, she might be categorised as a moredet [rebellious wife] and he
might be entitled to divorce her without paying her ketubah [marriage
settlement]. If she refuses to accept the get, thereby preventing its
becoming operative in line with another part of the Cherem of Rabbeinu
Gershom, he might be entitled to seek a hetter meiah rabbanim [a form of
permission to remarry without previous divorce signed by 100 rabbis].

This sort of situation is open to abuse by unscrupulous people and I would hope
that such cases are halachah velo lema'asseh [purely theoretical and not a
practical occurrence].

Martin Stern


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Bil'am  - Balaam

Out of curiosity, would anyone know how the Hebrew "Bil'am" appears in all
the English Bible translations as "Balaam"?


Shmuel Himelstein


From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 11,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: community Power

Carl Singer said about my post: 

> 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.

Shucks, I'm just here to help along the discussion with some knowledge about the

About the power plant responses being automatic - yes and no. For the small
changes up and down in power demand over one or two minutes, usually one
generator is devoted to match that automatically up and down.  But there is a
general trend in power use over the hours of the day.  So from the early morning
until mid morning as people start to wake up, turn on appliances and factories
start, the demand can move up quickly and double from the night-time level over
4 or so hours.  That amount of increase requires several power plants to be
turned on and output raised, one after the other, which is done 
manually through the person in the system control center.  But then as I
mentioned in my post, I think since on a large power system, anything we would
switch on would be so small relative to other machines or lights being switched
on or off, any additional fuel usage would be very indirect (a "gramma").  In
other words, cumulatively all of us turning on our appliances cause the demand
to steadily increase by large amounts, but if one household doesn't, the 
impact is imperceptible - masked by everyone else.

I *don't* think this is similar to a water heater in a large building.  With a
water heater, it's not so much the issue of the element turning on (which might
be a gramma for a very large building). I think it's an absolute "psik raisha"
(inevitable action) that when you turn on your tap, you draw in cold water into
the tank which would be boiled by the hot water already there (melacha of
bishul). It wouldn't matter how many or few people are turning on their tap -
your turning on the tap results in more cold water being boiled.  To me the only
way it would be permissible is to close the cold water intake just before
Shabbat, open a valve to let air in, and use the preheated water (like a coffee

Also, other posters speculated that the issue goes away if the source of
electricity is wind, solar or nuclear.  It may be true for the first two, but I
don't think so for the third because nuclear generation involves using nuclear
energy to boil water and spin a turbine - sounds like bishul to me!

Michael Mirsky


From: Menashe Elyashiv
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: eating before a fast before dawn

<What is the prevailing thought on starting the taanis morning with a
predawn light breakfast?>

The question is: are the minor fasts only daytime fasts, or are they like 
tisha be'av but with a kula that one can have supper at night. 
The Zohar is very strict about eating after sleeping before Shaharit. 
However, drinking is o. k. so you can have coffee. Rav O. Yosef holds that 
a weak person can eat before dawn, but others should not. However, one 
should not make a private fast if this means eating before dawn, 


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: halachicly correct dress

Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...> wrote: 

> Maybe I'm naive or very very observant, but I have no problem determining
> immodest dress in women! Like the proverbial definition of pornography, I
> certainly know it when I see it.

As tempting as "I know it when I see it" might be --

 (1) I may not want to see it

 (2) "I" is not the issue, "we" is -- we being -- I assert -- "community"
 and since communities vary -- so does acceptable practice.

As I related many years ago -- my wife and I were walking from our car to a
wedding in Williamsburg (a section of Brooklyn, New York). She was
(unwittingly) wearing a red raincoat -- and a few chassidim crossed the street
to avoid us.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: hidur mitzva 

Perry Zamek stated in mail-jewish Vol.58 #26 Digest:

> However, common usage these days is to understand mehadrin as being 
> a stricter level of observance, involving more chumrot 
> [stringencies] or the concurrent application of parallel halachic 
> views ("maximum position compliance", a term that appears in Rabbi 
> Haym Soloveitchik's "Rupture and Reconstruction"), almost to the 
> disparagement of those who follow the basic halachah.
> Is following a stringency (or multiple stringencies) indeed a hidur 
> mitzvah (a beautification of the mitzvot)?

Along these lines, a new series has just started on Jerusalem Kosher 
News, called "Just What Are Mehadrin Standards?"  The series is 
written by Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz, the rav of Beis Tefillah Yonah 
Avrohom in Ramat Beit Shemsh Alef.


From: Frankl Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: hidur mitzva

A rabbi once pointed out that not ever mitzvah need be or even should be
beautified.  This concept applies only to certain mitzvot, and our tradition
tells us which ones.  (His answer was in response to my question as to whether I
should buy athletic shoes that were really really nice to wear on Tish B'Av, to
beautify the mitzvah of not wearing leather shoes.)


Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 11,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: ignorance of sexual matters

Yossi Ginzberg  suggests that in matter of sexual education, "A boy
could not [grow up not knowing]. 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 learning-disabled."
Too bad he didn't use Zohar/Kabbalah but my main point is something I
think my wife once mentioned.
Our neighbor grew up in the Toldot Aharon Chassidic sect (no pun)  
(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toldos_Aharon_

and -

And I know a few others there.  Males.  Anyone who has read their
pamphlet "Shlosha Maamarin" ("The Essays") from the book "Taharat
HaKodesh" ("The Sacred Purity") about not looking at anything that could
be feminine, including laundry, will understand the fear that is driven
into them about sexual matters although I am not being judgmental as to
their approach (except when they throw stones to scare away the yetzer
hara (evil inclination) in the form of actual women.
"Knowing" is a theoretical concept as Yossi wishes to portray it.  The
"reality" is they do not know what to do, how it is done, what to expect
and how to deal with problems.  Many are informed on the practics either
the week before, the day before or on the day of the chuppah what is
supposed to happen.  I thought it was an urban myth but I was assured
that boys have been know to faint when told, even after being assured
that that's exactly what the Rebbe does.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 2,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Moabite women in the desert

Sammy raises some interesting questions on my posting on Moab.

I had written "Nu. 24,25 describes extramarital casualness between Jewish men
and Moabite women. The Bible considers this an act of war."

Sammy says: >>I don't know where it says that. Is that because Bilaam was
punished for it?>> 

I think 3 verses are needed. 

a) Nu. 22-03:04 states that Moab was frightened by the Jews and made an alliance
with Midyan 

b) Nu. 25-01:03 states "in Shittim the Jews BEGAN to sin with the Moabite women.
... and the Jews became attached to the god Peor  

c) Nu. 31-16 and Nu. 25-17:18 refer to the act of war by Midyan in the Peor matter. 

I can take the verses in two ways:

METHOD I: Moab-Midyan sinned with the Jews sexually leading to idolatry. War was
declared on the Midyan-Moab alliance 

METHOD II: Moab-Midyan sinned with the Jews sexually leading to idolatry. But
war was only declared on Midyan because they were the bulk of the sin.

Either way - there was sexual sin between a nation Midyan and the Jews and this
led to a war (So my original posting should have preferably just mentioned
Midyan to play it safe). At any rate we see here SEXUAL LIASONS (Casual sex) as
an act of war.

RH> Let me be very clear. There is no indication in the Bible that the
Moabite women were hostile. On the contrary, they were friendly (Too friendly).>

SAMMY SAYS: >>No, the purpose was indeed hostile. And the Bible describes this
as the matter of Ba'al Peor, and that was the essential nature of it.>>

The way I see it is as follows: 

a) The MIDYANITE leaders (including Bilam) PLOTTED to get the Jews to worship
idols (to deprive them of God's blessings as Sammy says later. 

b) The LEADERS encouraged their women to have affairs with Jewish men. 

c) the WOMEN THEMSELVES were not hostile (So much hostility does not make sense
especially if sexual liasons were happening). They were simply having sexual fun 

d) The sexual liasons led to idolatry. 

The simple meaning of the verses Nu. 25-01:03 shows this...."The Jews began (to
initiate) sexual advances to Moabite women...so they (the women) invited them to
their religious parties [no hostility intended]...the Jews clung to the Peor idol" 

I see this as no different than today. A person goes out with a non-religious
Christian  woman. They have affairs. They decide to get married. But the woman
says something like "We have to be married in a church to please my parents." I
see the Moabite liasons as prototypical of modern day affairs. 

NOTE: I admitted (in a previous posting) that a difference between
Midyan and America is that the LEADERS of Midyan wanted the idolatry while
America is more intersted in guaranteeing sexual access. My primary argument is
that the FACT that the Jews worshipped idols doesn't mean the midyanite WOMEN
planned it. I think however their leaders planned it.

NOTE: I deleted several paragraphs from Sammy's posting about the nature of the
sin. I find his comments basically correct.

Sammy says: >>Incidentally, it was actually the daughters of Midian who involved
themselves in this a lot more, and it was against them that a military revenge
campaign was conducted.>>

See above Nu. 25-01 says "The Jews BEGAN to sin with the daughters of Moab"
Nu. 22-01:03 mentions a Moabite-Midyanite alliance. But I agree with Sammy
"Midianite women involved themselves in this alot more" In retrospect I should
have mentioned Midyan in my original posting not Moab. 

My original point then stands: >>Casual affairs with women (which eventually led
to idolatry) is considered an act of war. This is NO DIFFERENT than casual
affairs today with non religious christians which can end up with marriages in a
church or attendance of church socials.>>

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d A.S.A; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Avraham Etzion <atzion@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 8,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: separate seating

What seems to be forgotten is that there was a well known custom in Western
Europe and America that held as is stated in Rabbi Yechiel Weinberg's Seridei
Esh that the Mechitzva is a din only in Beth-Haknesset as is implied in Gemara
discussion in Sukkot on Simchat Beth-Hashoeva. The practice of many gedolim in
America-including even from Aggudas Harabbanim-was to sit with their families at

As so far as Rav Moshe is concerned it is not so clear as in early Teshuvot 
he allowed mixed seating in weddings when there were appointed places-whereas
later in places where there was more free mixing he was opposed.
The fact that for eating Pesach korbon you could not join together separate
chaburot as you need to be one chabura shows clearly they sat together.

Likewise how can the Gemara in Berachot discuss including women in Birkat 
Hamazon or even perhaps joining the zimun if they were not all together.
It is not so clear what is a new Chumra! In America seperate seating at 
all functions - that was the new chumra brought over by Hungarian Jewry.

Avraham Etzion


From: Avraham Norin <harbashan@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 13,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: some further information on the author of the Makor Baruch.

A friend of mine, who knows I have read much of Makor Baruch, forwarded me Ira
Bauman's submission concerning the opposition of R. Baruch Epstein to eating
before dawn on a fast day (digest 58#22).

I think it is important to let readers of the forum know the following
additional information regarding the context in which the remarks were made.

1. The chapter is about R. Epsteins paternal grandfather who fasted regularly.
This included every Monday and Thursday in Elul plus every day during the Ten
Days of Repentance.

2. He elaborates on his grandfather's reasons for fasting, i.e. to distract a
person from sin.

3. R. Epstein notes that the practice of arising early to eat on a fast day is a
joke and cheating God (gnevat daat Hamakom), especially when done in the winter.
He also notes that fasting on a full stomach (lasova) is the problem. At the end
of the footnote he just mentions eating and doesn't stipulate that the problem
is when one is full.

4. It is important to note also that even though his grandfather fasted, his
grandfather was against his son, R. Yechiel Michel Epstein, author of the Aruch
Hashulchan, fasting, as he required all his energy and strength to carry out his
duties for clal Yisrael, and R. Yechiel Michel was not considered at risk of sin
and hence didn't need to fast to avoid sin. His grandfather was also in favour
of getting a good night's sleep, and on this was also at odds with his son. He
maintained that sufficient sleep is important for health reasons. R. Epstein
notes that his grandfather led a healthy lifestyle and lived to the ripe old age
of 85.

So I think the problem is the deliberate attempt to remove the effects of hunger
from the fast.

I don't see how this relates to drinking coffee to prevent the effects of
caffeine withdrawal. It doesn't seem that your light breakfast gives you a full

So taking the footnote at face value I would venture to say that even if Ira
relied on R. Epstein for psak he can continue his practice.

I hope he will forgive some friendly advice from a stranger. I don't drink
coffee and I'd like to recommend that he consider giving it up, as it seems he
is more dependent on it that he thinks.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 7,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: yaqum purqun

Sammy Finkelman notes:
"It is Berich Shemay, not Yekum Pirkan, that comes from the Zohar."
I realized that two minutes after pressing "send" but hoped it would go
unnoticed. I should have known better.


End of Volume 58 Issue 28