Volume 59 Number 69 
      Produced: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 14:28:36 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Does use of a digital telephone on Shabbat involve Torah prohibitions 
    [Carl Singer]
Esther's age and other results of not understanding Megillas Esther ri 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Halacha for Special agents (4)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  David Tzohar  Avraham Walfish  N. Yaakov Ziskind]
Hechsher on the Label 
    [Josh Backon]
Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding 
    [Carl Singer]
Meah Shearim meets the 21st century 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
New Zealand Shechita Ban 
    [Mark Symons]
Yesh Omrim 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Does use of a digital telephone on Shabbat involve Torah prohibitions

Over the years there have been a number of threads on Mail Jewish asking if
one can [fill in the blank] without transgressing (either a d'Oraisah or a

Sometimes these might be rudely paraphrased as "I am seeking permission to
...." ,  or "I am seeking a means to ....", or "How do I avoid the
transgression while still ...."

Sometimes there are of heavier cloth.

Some are in response to mildly troubling situations -- one comes home from
shul on Shabbos at lunchtime, all hot and sweaty and seeks relief -- how?
Some are less so.   (I say "mildly" troubling -- because in, say,
health-related emergencies the focus seems more on when / how may the act be
done -- rather than avoidance.)

It would be simplistic to say that the halacha is a "constant" in contrast
to the technology which is ever evolving.   The two are not fully
independent. But it may be safe to say that the technology at any given point in
time is complex and not fully understood by those who may be asked to pasken --
and the application of halacha to the technology findings is similarly complex.

But I must ask, why do we ask?

In an emergency -- say calling an ambulance -- most would paskin not only
that one may use a telephone, but that one MUST do so as to expedite the

In a non-emergency one must ask a completely different question -- how would
using the telephone enhance one's Shabbos? I can contrive examples -- studying
over the phone with a chavrusa -- letting a bedridden friend listen to services,
etc.  -- But these are not satisfying as they are not necessities.

I recall a comparatively simplistic example from MJ many years ago.  Could
one put their music system on a timer because music enhances their enjoyment
of Shabbos.

All that said, we've come a long way in a few generations re: what's
normative behavior on Shabbos.  My Mother recalls bringing the family
chulent pot to the baker on Friday afternoon, as there was no cooking or warming
or keeping food warm done within the home (due to technology restrictions.)  I
recall issues with a coal furnace - the home I lived in until age 12 has such a

Today keeping food warm in the home is commonplace, and most take Shabbos
home heating (and air conditioning for that matter) for granted.

I would dare say that if a frum Yid from 100 years ago walked into our
kitchen on Shabbos - he or she might be tempted to say at first glance, "dus
is nisht Shabbosdik" [This is not in keeping with the sanctity and atmosphere of


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 29,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Esther's age and other results of not understanding Megillas Esther ri

I'm going to spoil a lot of midrashim.

Esther was Mordechai's first cousin.

Esther 2:5-6  http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16475

5. There was a Judean man in Shushan the capital, whose name was
Mordecai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a

6. who had been exiled from Jerusalem with the exile that was exiled
with Jeconiah, king of Judah, which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
had exiled.

Now - who was exiled?

This has been understood as saying Mordechai was exiled with
Yechoniah. And for some reason we are skipping generations and going
back to Kish the father of King Saul, that they were descended from
Kish but not Saul, most of whiose family was wiped out, and the
mention of the tribe of Binyamin is because of this known descent.

This creates a lot of problems, besides the awkwardness.

Now if Mordechai was Esther's first cousin it is improbable that he
was more than about 35 years older than her. Let's say, Mordechai was
3 or 4 years old at the time of the exile. It is usually understood
that 3rd year of Achashverosh corresponds to the 70th year after the
exile of Yechoniah, which was 11 years before the Beis HaMikdash was
burned. It's actually longer but it can't be less. (this chronology
also barely gives Acheverosh any more time to rule)

This has Mordechai aged 74 plus at the time Esther became queen or
consort. You have a problem. Mordechai can't reasonably be more than
about 35 years older than Esther. This makes Esther around 40 years

Or this accounts for why, against the text of the Megillah , people,
going back to Josephus at lest, make Mordechai Esther's uncle. Because
if he is her uncle, he can easily be 50 or more years older than her.

Now in reality, it was Kish who was exiled. You have to go back to him
to get to someone who lived in Eretz Yisroel. Mordechai is the 4th
generation.  Now let's say Shimei was born within a year or so after
the exile. Then it is plausible Mordechai could be Esther's first
cousin - although he must be at least 10 years older than her - and
Esther could be around 20.

Now according to a more standard chronology - that restores the 163
years - and we have to get into sometime how this mistake was made -
this was really more than 74 years after the exile of Yechoniah. The
exile was 597 BCE and the selection of Esther about 458 BCE, or 139
years later.

This is all right. Shimei can be born 30 years after the exile and
Mordechai 80 to 90 - or later - he can be around 55 at the time -
probably a bit younger - and Esther can easily be his first cousin and
yet around 20 years old.

Now Vashi's executon.  Vashti was not executed. As for why the King
doesn't take her back - this is the same king who also does not revoke
his decree to let the Jews be killed even though he clearly opposes
this now!

Esther 8:8. And you-write about the Jews as you see fit, in the name
of the king, and seal [it] with the king's ring, for a writ that is
written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot
be rescinded."

Like it was also with Vashti:

1:19. If it please the king, let a royal edict go forth from before
him, and let it be inscribed in the laws of Persia and Media, and let
it not be revoked, that Vashti shall not come before King Ahasuerus,
and let the king give her royal position to her peer who is better
than she.

21. And the matter pleased the king and the princes, and the king did
according to the word of Memucan.

It happens to be that Artaxerxes I was exactly a stickler for this
type of thing. There's a lot to show that Achashverosh was Artaxerxes
I, not least the fact that Ezra 4:7 is a translation of Ezra 4:6 and
not some separate incident. Ezra starts off realizes he is going to
quote a letter which is in Aramaic, and not Hebrew, and starts over
again in Aramaic and this was never revised.

Furthermore, what is the point of Nehemiah mentioning the presence of
the queen (shegal) and not just mentioning it but putting it in like
it was an important fact he left out - if this queen was not Esther
(Nehemiah 2:6)

The only problem with this is Ezra 3:12 which seems to say that many
people who had seen the First Temple standing were around at the time
Zerubbavel started rebuilding it.

And you just can't stretch that and the time till it is completed -
those two periods when some of the same people were around at the
beginning and the end - you can't make them equal (586-419) 167 years.
But in reality there should be 3 time periods, for what they saw was
the remnants of the first temple. The foundation was taken down, and
then nothing built in its place. Then came Zerubavel in the reign of

There is proof even in Josephus' Wars Book II Chapter 6 when he tells
of a delegation that came to Caesar Augustus to petition not to let
Herod's son continue to rule over them. They said: "In short, the Jews
had borne more calamities from Herod, in a few years, than had their
forefathers during all that interval of time that had passed since
they had come out of Babylon, and returned home, in the reign of Xerxes.."


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

In MJ 59#65, Leah Gordon wrote:

> I did not see the article; . . .Has anyone investigated using MEN ...
> for "honeypot" > sting operations? Either with female terrorists
> or, far more likely, with gay male terrorists?

To the extent Ms. Gordon is referring to the halachic permissibility of such an
operation, if Ms. Gordon has by now read R. Shvats article she will have seen
that a homosexual operation has key problems not present in the case R. Shvat
considered. They include, OTH, 

(1) the absence of a clear Biblical precedent, 

(2) the absence of passivity (even a male on the receiving end might
not be passive in the halachic sense; I dont know) and 

(3) at least the possibility of an isur karet/yehareig ve-al yaavor; again, I
dont know.

Whether these problems would change the decision, I also dont know. It seems to
me that the latter two points involve interesting questions, but ones that R.
Shvats article had no need to address since, as I indicated in an earlier post,
it arose from an actual question posed by a female.

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

There is a source for R' Shvat's idea that non-religious women should be
used in situations where their modesty would be compromised.

The Misnah Trumot 8:12 says that if the goyim capture a group of Jewish
women and say to them "give over one of you and we will defile her and if
not we will defile you all" let them all be defiled and do not give over one
of Israel. The Yerushalmi Trumot 47:A says explicitly that this is only in
the case where all of the women are unmarried virgins or married women. If
one of them has already been "defiled" then she can be given up to the goyim
in order to save the rest. According to this it would be preferable to send
non-religious women (assuming that they are unmarried and not virgins) on these
David Tzohar

From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

I believe no one has yet mentioned, in reference to the debate raging in
recent MJ's over honeypot operations, the classic modern-day source for
discussing this issue, Rav Kook's responsum in Mishpat Kohen 143, esp. the
last three pages (315-317). Rav Kook explicitly rejects Esther and Yael as
an appropriate source for surrendering oneself to be killed or violated in
order to save the Jewish people, arguing that in both cases they were "karka
olam", i.e. they were passively violated. Anyone who actively seeks to
seduce an enemy agent would not - Rav Kook argues - come under this
category, and therefore the principle of *yehareg v'al ya'avor* would apply.

However, Rav Kook claims that it is obvious that *hatzalat kelal yisrael*
(deliverance of the Jewish people) is an overriding value which would permit
both suicidal operations and offering oneself to sexual violation. He
asserts forcefully and unequivocally that "war and the laws of *tzibbur*
(community) are different" from the halakhic principles that govern
individual behavior. To my mind it is inconceivable that a Jewish state
could be maintained without accepting Rav Kook's ruling.
This does not mean, of course, that the society, and those charged with
maintaining its security, are entitled to run roughshod over the sacred
values to which the society is committed. Like any other dangerous
operation, honeypot operations should be approved only in cases of real
need. But, whereas some of the posters in the discussion seem certain that
whatever information can be obtained in this way could be otherwise
obtained, I am no less certain that sometimes there are no available
alternatives that provide the same degree of security benefits. As in all
other security-related areas, the individual members of society have no
choice but to rely on the professional judgment of those who know, and to
work as hard as possible to ensure that the authorities do not take their
moral responsibilities lightly.


From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

Russell J Hendel wrote (MJ 59#67):

> But, I countered, Esther was a rape victim (so was Yehudis) forced
> to go to the King. So the Esther story can't be used as a basis 
> for seductions.
Actually, my fellow actuary :-), this is both true and false. Esther 
initially was taken to the harem against her will, yes, but - at the 
time she approached the king to invite him to the feast - she offered 
herself willingly to him, and thereby became forbidden to her husband, 
Mordechai, as pointed out in the Talmud. So, yes, it might be used 
as such a basis.

Nachman Yaakov Ziskind, FSPA, LLM       <awacs@...>


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 29,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Hechsher on the Label

Prof. Reuben Freeman wrote (MJ 59#68):

> An interesting example of not requiring complete ingredient labelling is
> filter cigarettes.  Apparently some of the filters may contain material
> whose source is pig haemoglobin [pig's blood].  I have found that this
> is quite unsettling to some "frum" smokers who otherwise rationalize away or
> ignore the serious health dangers of smoking. I suspect that there may not
> really be a "kashrut" issue here - Is inhaling smoke into the
> mouth  considered "eating"?  Has the pig's blood been "transformed" into an
> ingredient which may not be considered pig's blood?  Is "only a trace" of
> the pig haemoglobin in an apparently non-edible product something that can
> be legitimately ignored by even the stingently kashrut-observant?   Pig
> haemoglobin is sometimes, but not always, used in cigarette filters so there
> is a doubt whether it is in a particular filter or not.  

There are many poskim who permit drugs derived from non-kosher sources
(Pri Megadim YD 84 s"k 24; Tshuvat haRashba as brought in the Bet Yosef
TUR Orach Chaim 447; Rabbenu Yona as brought in the ROSH Berachot Perek Vav
35; Tshuvat haRadbaz 979; Achiezer III 31; Chavot Daat YD 103 s"k 1;
Ha'Elef Lecha Shlomo YD 202; Shach YD 239 s"k 20 [who qualifies the
permission by ingesting only small amounts (e.g. *chatzi shi'ur*)];
Tzitz Eliezer VI 16, VII 32; X 25 s"k 2)

All the above is with regard to actual issur (forbidden material)
which has undergone a physical or chemical change. Shells are in the
category of *shilya* [placenta] which at worst are forbidden rabbinically
(as per the Minchat Yaakov and Pri Megadim) or completely permitted
(as per the Bet Lechem Yehuda and the Yad Efraim).

The only time a medication/remedy made from a nonkosher source is
permitted is if it's *yadua* [proven remedy] [see: TAZ Yoreh Deah
84 s"k 24 quoting the Meharshal; Pitchei Tshuva YD 84 s"k 13 quoting
SHU"T Chatam Sofer YD 76; Aruch Hashulchan YD 84 # 95 (who also
categorically permits inhaling/sniffing a non-kosher medication);
Tzitz Eliezer XIII 35].

The Aruch Hashulchan YD 84 #95 states specifically (re: inhaling a prohibited
substance) "issur derech nechirav, pattur me'achar she'ein derech achilato
b'kach". In other words, since inhaling isn't the normal way of 
eating, one isn't liable.

Dr. Josh Backon


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding

I'm a bit confused about this topic.  I doubt that we speaking of anything
physical?  Literally sending an invitation (what's the zip code for olam
haba?); Providing a place card or seat.

Are we speaking of mentioning them at the wedding?

Or is it assumed that in spirit (and I use this word with trepidation) they
are in attendance to share the Simcha.

I recall at my own wedding under the chuppah we said a k'ayl m'lay rachamim
for my Father, ztl -- and I've seen this at other weddings as well.

But what exactly is meant?


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 29,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Meah Shearim meets the 21st century

Well, the subject line to this posting is a bit of a misnomer, as I refer
to a place a few meters away from Kikar Shabbat, which is technically Geula.

There, on the street outside the Mizrachi Bank, is a small stand with a
keyboard for posting requests to the "Gedolei HaDor" ("the greatest Sages of
the generation"). One can type in whatever requests one has - health,
Shidduch, etc.. What is more remarkable is that this hooked into a system
which states clearly "only credit cards accepted"!

Who says Meah Shearim is not modern?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Mark Symons <mssymons@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: New Zealand Shechita Ban

New Zealand has recently banned Shechita and there are concerns that this
may be followed by a ban on also importing Kosher meat, which would pose
grave concerns for the survival of the NZ Jewish community. Efforts are
being made to try and reverse this.

Newspapers this week referred to negotiations/agreement between the NZ Prime
Minister and Warner Brothers to shoot the next Hobbit films in NZ. I wonder
whether trying to use Warner Brothers as a possible source of leverage with
NZ on this issue might help. Presumably there are Jews in the U.S. with
connections to Warner Brothers who could be approached to get involved in
the issue?



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 28,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Yesh Omrim

Sammy Finkelman stated (MJ 59#65):

> The Tosfos does not have a "yesh omrim" for the first possibility,
> but says instead simply that that's what we say. If the two sides
> were equal, there would be the words "yesh omrim" for both
> possibilities, as there is for the two ways of explaining Rav
> Gidal's statement about Micha'el.

Ira L. Jacobson responded (MJ 59#66):

> Isn't there a principle of "halakha keyesh omrim"? (That is, the Law
> is in accordance with the stand of those identified as "yesh omrim.")

While I am not a scholar, I never heard of any such idea. Yesh Omrim
logically, would be a minority position.

But I have an idea where what you said is coming from, and it may even
be a rule you heard. In the Mishnah there is a Tanna sometimes refered
to as Yesh Omrim and you might think the halacha is according to him.
It's not Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir is Acherim. 'Yesh Omrim' is  Rabbi
Noson. This is at Horayos 13b. It would take three or four paragraphs to tell
the story.

I know somewhere there is a mishnah or maybe a gemara that gives brief
rules for disputes when the halacha is according to this or that.
For instance I think most of the time the halacha is according to a
stam mishnah [an anonymous mishna  - MOD]. A stam mishnah is Rabbi Meir by the
way because the mishnayos we have are basically (with some modifications) those
taught by Rabbi Akiva and later his student Rabbi Meir.

But it has nothing to do with yesh omrim as ordinarily used. As far as
what yesh omrim usually means. I found this:


(This is on the website of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies)

And this web page says:

"The Shulchan Arukh does, however, bring down a dissenting opinion
(yesh omrim) that women do not fulfill the obligation for men."

I think I may have figured out what you are thinking about. It's not
Rabbi Meir.

Here is a reference for the anonymizing of two Tannayim:

among the answers:

The Gemara in Horayos 13b explains that R' Meir and R' Noson were
penalized because of an incident that happened. R' Meir's Torah was
recorded in the name of 'Acherim', and R' Noson's as 'Yesh Omrim'; it
goes on to say Tosfos questions.

I also found:  


"Tosfos brings an opinion (Sotah 12a DH Acher) that the Beraisa
uses the term "Acherim Omrim" when quoting something Rebbi Meir
learned from Elisha ben Avuyah, instead of using his name.  If so,
even his teachings are not cited with his name. (Tosfos, however,
eventually rejects this opinion.)

A question similar to yours may be asked regarding Rebbi Nosson,
who is cited as "Yesh Omrim" (Horayos 13b) yet is often cited by
name.  He is even mentioned together with "Yesh Omrim" in some Beraisos.

Tosfos writes that Rebbi Nosson and Rebbi Meir are quoted by name
when citing what they taught before they slighted Rebbi (see Horayos
13b), and what they taught afterwards is cited anonymously...."


End of Volume 59 Issue 69