Volume 59 Number 75 
      Produced: Mon, 08 Nov 2010 16:25:44 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Changing psak / practices / observance (3)
    [Batya Medad  Akiva Miller  Michael Feldstein]
Redacting accurate statements about electricity on Shabbat 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
shabbat/telephone - response 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Soft Stringency in Halachic handbooks 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Tefillas keva [fixed] = exact wording?- 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
The frumkeit of our generation 
    [David Tzohar]
What is life threatening (4)
    [Avraham Walfish  Eli Turkel  Michael Feldstein  David Ziants]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 7,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Changing psak / practices / observance

Over forty years ago, when velcro was totally new, our NCSY dance group 
costumes had it for closing tichels in our Shabbat dance.  The dance had 
been choreographed for the Dance festival in Carnegie Hall on a weekday, 
so there wasn't any question about its use.  Later on that year we had 
been asked to perform on Shabbat at a Shabbaton.  That "ripping sound" 
when the velcro is opened made me nervous.  One of the advisors asked 
his rabbi/posek and took a sample for the rabbi to examine.  In those 
days velcro was unknown except in the upholstery business (and costume 
designing apparently.)  The rabbi said that we weren't to use it.  My 
dancers had to quickly tie the tichels on.  Within a decade or so 
velcro became widely used.  Nobody seems concerned about its suitability 
on Shabbat but me.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 7,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Changing psak / practices / observance

Carl Singer (MJ 59:73) asked:

> It seems that communities have less problems with going machmir.  Can
> any of the MJ readers give examples of machmir to maikel [less stringent]
> that weren't considered "slippage" or falling off the derech?  Or for
> that matter can anyone provide substantial examples of any shifting
> towards maikel.

One or two examples come to mind easily:

In some communities, it was unheard of to begin Shabbos early on the late summer
days, but this is being seen more often. When I was in Israel, Maariv would
never be said before dark, let alone before sunset, even on Friday, but I hear
that this is becoming more and more widespread.

Many view carrying on Shabbos within an eruv as being lenient, and there are
*many* more eruvs now than there were 50 years ago. On the other hand, some
might consider this as going in the strict direction, if the starting point back
then was people who carried on Shabbos even without an eruv.

Akiva Miller

From: Michael Feldstein <michaelgfeldstein@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Changing psak / practices / observance

Ben Katz wrote (MJ 59#74):

> I have often been amazed at this, but I can think of 2 examples where
> practice has gone to the easier position since my childhood:
> 1. Swimming on the 9 days. When I was a kid, even Conservative Day Camps
> that I attended would not allow it.  Now instructional swims seem to be
> permitted.
> 2. Not saying selichot at midnight.  When I was a kid, even Conservative
> shuls would say selichot the first Sat. night at midnight.  Now, I know
> of only 1 Orthodox shul in my area that does so.

I'd add the increasingly common practice of those living in Chutz l'Aretz
and spending Yom Tov in Israel to celebrate one day of Yom Tov.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Redacting accurate statements about electricity on Shabbat

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 59#73):

> I find it troubling that based on the excerpts cited, this text [recently
> published Orchat Shabbat] seems to focus on redacting what heretofore were
> considered accurate statements / opinions by (deceased) Gedolim of previous
> generations and / or questioning the generally accepted understanding of how
> these Gedolim paskened.

This has maybe been going on for some time.

In MJ 58#82 Harry Weiss wrote:

> The  case of Shmirat Shabbat changes in well known.  Between the first Hebrew
> and second Hebrew many leniencies were removed from the main text and put
> into footnotes.  Many of those were the views of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
> zt'l.   When the English translation appeared it only translated the main
> text and not the footnotes.  The rumors are that much of this was done due to
> political pressure.

I tried to find out what that means and I found Lon Eisenberg wrote in MJ 11#44,
dated Sun, 23 Jan 94:

> I find it very well organized and quite helpful when needing to look up any
> basic halakha of Shabbat.  Although, IMHO, he tends not to be overly strict
> or lenient, unfortunately he has apparently yielded to "pressure from the
> right" to change things that were "permitted" in the first edition to "should
> be avoided" in the second (e.g. solar water heater on Shabbat, tea bag in a
> kli shlishi [3rd vessel]).

In the same issue, Stephen Phillips writes:

> I believe that certain Poskim (including Reb Moshe ztz'l] expressed some
> concerns as to some of the contents of the 1st edition and as a result Rav
> Neuwirth published the 2nd edition. The English volumes are based solely on
> the 1st volume of the 2nd edition. They are not a straight translation from
> the Hebrew, but incorporate all the relevant Halochos as set out in the
> Hebrew edition without any foot-notes.
> The Hebrew editions (particularly the 2nd edition) have extensive foot-notes
> which must be read if one is to use the Sefer to its best advantage.
> Rav Neurwith is I believe from Yeshivas Kol Torah in Yerushalyim. The Rosh
> Yeshivah of Kol Torah is Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, one of the foremost
> Poskim in the world [still alive in 1994] and as far as I can discern SSK
> utilises Rav Auerbach's pesokim wherever possible (although I do recall
> coming across a Halocho to do with changing time switches on Yom Tov where
> Rav Auerbach was lenient and SSK was strict).
> A good friend of mine and Talmid Chochom, Harav Chaim Kramer of one of the
> Breslav institutes in Yerushalyim, once commented to me (when we were
> discussing SSK) that it takes great courage and knowledge to write a sefer
> on Halocho which contains Heterim [permissions], especially on a subject as
> strict and vast as Hilchos Shabbos. As the saying goes "Ko'ach De'Heteira
> Odif" [a permissive P'sak is more powerful than a prohibitive one]; ie. it's
> very easy to prohibit something, but not so easy without the required
> knowledge to permit something.

Also in MJ 6#73 Avi Weinstein wrote about solar water heaters where Shemirat
Shabbat Kehilchata changed from allowed but some don't permit to not allowed,
but some permit (except someone on MJ corrected that to "it's not a good idea").

> Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata's reason for prohibiting the use of solar heaters
> on shabbat if I recall correctly was that you may get used to turning on hot
> water taps and do so anywhere indiscriminately even when a solar heater was
> not the hot water source.
> There may have been "pressure" but it is a genuine reason.

Another MJ post says it is the possibility that on cloudy Fridays electricity
might be used to heat up the water that's the basis of the reversal - all this
apparently gets you into a specific Rabbinical prohibition on using previously
non-naturally heated water on Shabbos because it would be done on Shabbos. Cf
Shab 40a.


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 7,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: shabbat/telephone - response

Regarding my telephone/shabbat-questions, I fear that Meir Wise did not
carefully read my anecdotes - in both cases, I noted that it was not even a
safek pikuach nefesh [doubt of danger to life -- MOD]:  in the labor case, it
ended up being 2.5 days before Ezra was born, and hours before the midwife felt
any need even to check me.  In the nebulizer case, we *had* a working nebulizer
from my friend; the issue was a speedier replacement/backup nebulizer, *and*
there was not a severe problem (we would have gone to the ER) but rather a
discomfort/allergic situation that we were right on top of.

Thank you to all who attempt to keep the level of discourse as pleasant as possible.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Soft Stringency in Halachic handbooks

I found a blog post by Shlomo Brody called The Dangers of "Soft
Stringency:" Hearing Aids, Chumrot, and Moral Sensitivity in Halakhic


He gives an example of what could happen using the question of
speaking to someone who is wearing a hearing aid on Shabbos.

Near the end he writes:

> I think we have the following phenomenon included in this problematic passage:
> 1) Soft Stringency, where the primary concern is Hilchot Shabbat, to the
> exclusion of all other values
> 2) An inaccurate perspective on the full range of halakhic opinions,
> presenting a dominant stringent tendency that does not exist amongst the
> poskim
> 3) A subsequent insensitivity to the dignity of the hearing-impaired

He thinks this happens because, on the one hand the author wants to be
accurate, so he mentions the lenient opinions, that's why it is soft
stringency, but on the other hand he doesn't want to be mekeil.

One of the comments there refers to Volume 20 Number 36, Tue Jul 4 1995, a
summary of a hesped for Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT"L by Rav Lichtenstein
posted by Rabbi Michael J Broyde who got it from the Virtual Bet Midrash Project.

"One of his guiding principles in deciding issues of Shabbat was
that life on Shabbat isn't supposed to involve suffering in comparison
to the rest of the week.  There are some people who almost enjoy
suffering on Shabbat, and he saw this not only as a sort of distortion,
in that they seek unnecessary 'chumrot' (stringencies), but also as
being harmful to Shabbat and harmful to the person."

Rav Lichtenstein quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZTL:

"You know - I can't believe it. Someone sent me a letter from
the States, saying that Rav Kotler zt"l was careful not to talk to a
person wearing a hearing aid on Shabbat for fear of speaking into the
hearing aid and thereby performing a melakhah."


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Tefillas keva [fixed] = exact wording?-

Keva actually is an adjective and not a noun, so it doesn't mean any of the
things proposed.

It means something like permanent, regular, fixed, attached, scheduled
(if applied to time) or based at (if applied to space).  Maybe a good word
in many cases is "standard" or "standardized"

I have a few examples of this root, and I am not sure what it means.
Besides the two famous phrases  "Makom Kevuah" and "Kovea itim" I
found Keviyos (the 14 possible Jewish year types) and in the Gemorah
in Berachos 33a Kevuah - where Havdalah or other things were placed or
attached to.

I asked myself, could this word have originated only in Mishnaic
Hebrew, or should it be in Tanach also, and I think I maybe found
something that's been missed (and I have a limited concordance that
doesn't go into roots) Isaiah 51:17 and 22. This word, Koba-as, is
often translated as if it almost wasn't there - Isaac Leeser tried
"deep" (the deep cup of confusion and the deep cup of my fury) and
sometimes it's been translated as if it were another word for goblet
but maybe it means steady or continuous. The Kos Hatareleh has been
unmoving. If it is attached it also doesn't end.

The word keva, besides being at Pirkei Avos 2:13 (2:18 in the Siddur)
and Berachos 4:4 is also in Mishnah Berachos 4:1 and also in Pirkei
Avos 1:15 (same number in the siddur) and it is in Shabbos 118.  In
Avos D'Rabbi Nothan, 18 (25a), the parallel passage to Avos 2:13, the
word keva is replaced by the word Sichah (conversation)

In Avos D'Rabbi Nothan,13 (23b) the parallel passage to Avos 1:15,
keva is elaborated on - Shammai said make your Torah keva - how - if
you hear something from a Chacham in the Beis Hamidrash don't treat it
as just something said but make it keva (an established matter?)

In the Gemorah the Mishnah Berachos 4:4 is printed at Berachos 28b and
discussed on 29b.

The Gemorah asks, what is keva?  Which maybe means what does "keva" apply to?

Not that keva "means" this or that but rather if the following occurs
it not keva. All meanings could be reasonable and they are not
contradicting each other because they are not definitions
of keva but descriptions of how to avoid it, or rather who is NOT
avoiding teffilas keva.

Rabbi Yaakov ben Idi said in the name of Rav Oshiah - if you make it
like a burden. (That's the idea favored by many commentators) The
Rabbis say: if you don't say it like a supplication. Rabbah and Rav
Yoseph say: Whoever is not able to add anything fresh into it. (I
think these additions were mostly added clauses or adjectives) R Zera
says he could do this but is afraid (he'll become confused - that is,
lose his place since it was said by heart)

And there's another idea which doesn't make sense at all because it
sounds like the opposite. Maybe actually somebody mistakenly corrected
it to have it say who does NOT pray at the very beginning of the day
and at the end. (the point being NOT to follow that idea.)

Maybe it should say somebody who DOES pray only at sunrise and sunset.
Tosfos, after all, has a different wording of the gemorah here
although maybe not these words. (It has he who can't say Tachanunim
instead of either he who DOESN'T say it tachanunim or he who can't say
something new)

And the way to read it then is that one group of Rabbis - the last
cited at 29b - had the idea that making tefillah keva would be whoever
says Shacharis and Minchah at the exact same time every day when the
time is right at the extremes (and the quotation mistakenly has them
saying who does NOT say it then in part maybe because the previous
quotes are in that form. The verse that follows gives the source for
those who do that - but then it cited the opinion that they

In Berachos Mishnah 4:1 it says that the time for Shacharis Musaf and
Minchah is such and such and "Tefilas Ha-erev ain lah keva." Maariv
has no keva.

At Berachos 27b, just like at Berachos 29b, the gemorah doesn't know
what keva means or it doesn't know what that adjective applies to. It
argues - if it means any time of the night then let it say the time
for it is all night. Only it answers, it's according to him who says
that Maariv is voluntary (and then we have a whole story Rabban
Gamliel and R Yehoshua - a controversy that occured in the institution
that was at Yavneh (I don't know what to call it) a generation before
the one in Horayos 13b coming up very soon (Wednesday November 10 in
Daf Yomi).

As for the general opinion of what Pirkei Avos 2:13 and Berachos 4:4
is getting at, all those ranging from the Amoraim to Irving M. Bunim
seem to be all over the place.


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 7,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

In MJ 59#73 Carl Singer wrote that the idea that our generation is more frum
and more knowledgeable than former generations is shocking. On the contrary,
our generation (let's say the last 30 years) is on a much higher level than
former generations both in Israel and the U.S.A.

There are more than 10,000 avreichim learning full time in kollelim,
Thousands  in Yeshivot and and day schools. Thousands of baleh battim learn
daf yomi and other shiurim. Observance of mitzvot is on the rise and Reform
and Conservative are on the wane. There is an amazing movement of baalei

The simple fact is that there has never been such a generation in the
history of the Jewish People. This is one of the many signs that we are well
into the period of the dawning of redemption, as Rav Kook ZTZL predicted
almost 100 years ago.

May it be the will of Hashem to complete the redemption and bring Mashiach
speedily and in our days.

David Tzohar


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: What is life threatening

In MJ 59#74 David Ziants described in detail what was done with his
daughter after a potentially life-threatening injury, and wonders about some
of the specific details, such as -

> 5) On the ambulance, part of the procedure is the (different medic in
> cabin of the ambulance (who is most probably Jewish) writing down
> medical and personal details. I always find this a sore point from the
> point of view of Shabbat observance, because to have the patients name
> and id number, it is enough that she holds the patient's kupa card. If
> there are no medical details to report, apart from the essentials of the
> accident, why does this need to be written down at this stage? I think
> that I gave this medic the kupa card, told her the essentials of the
> accident and just let her do what she wanted. I did not sign anything.
> What do people on MJ think? . I think sh'mirat shabbat k'hilchata
> mentions this type of thing, but I cannot, now, find the source.

My comment on this point will relate to some of the other points David
raised as well. My opinion, which I have coordinated with another rabbi,
highly knowledgeable in matters of halakhah in general and medical halakhah
in particular, is that once it is determined that a case is considered
pikuach nefesh, medical personnel should follow standard procedure, and not
diverge from it in order to minimize hillul shabbat. Among the reasons for
this are:

(a) some poskim hold that observance of shabbat is *hutrah* (permitted), not
only *dehuyah* (set aside) in cases of pikuach nefesh, and the Rambam
famously stated that Shabbat is treated like a weekday in cases of pikuach

(b) even if shabbat is *dehuyah*, there are reasons for all parts of
standard procedure. Some parts of the procedure might not seem essential
from a short-range point of view, but are highly important from a
longer-range perspective - sometimes for continued treatment of the current
patient, and sometimes for management of large groups of patients.

(c) most importantly - when dealing with life and death issues, we want
medical personnel completely focused on how to save the life of the patient,
and not dividing their attention between concern for the patient and concern
for shabbat. We want personnel to perform the standard parts of the
procedure automatically, without thinking, freeing them to concentrate on
the real vital issues where decisions must be taken. This, btw, is standard
practice in the army, where the general rule is that whatever is standard
security procedure during the week should be done on shabbat as well. 

In this connection, it is worthwhile remembering the story of R. Haim
Soloveichik, when his baby grandson (R.J.B. Soloveichik) was sick, with a
suspicion of diphtheria. When the doctor came and looked at his throat, R.
Haim asked him if a little more light would be helpful. When the doctor
replied in the affirmative, R.  Haim ordered his son, R. Moshe, to bring
another candle. When the latter hesitated, obviously concerned that this
hillul shabbat was not absolutely essential, R. Haim reacted angrily and
ordered someone else to fetch the candle. Clearly R. Haim felt that even a
small, incremental improvement in the doctor's ability to function justified
hillul shabbat.

Avie Walfish

From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: What is life threatening

Chana Luntz writes (MJ 59#74):

> Again, it is important to understand that hilchos pikuach nefesh includes
> not just when there is definitely a pikuach nefesh situation, and not just
> if there is a doubtful [safek] pikuach nefesh situation, but even on a sfek
> sfeka [double doubt] one must be mechallel shabbas.

R. Zilberstein quotes R. Elyashiv as holding that anything up to 1/1000 chance of
sakanat nefesh that one violates shabbat for that small risk. Anything more
remote than 1/1000 is too remote to violate shabbat.

R. Zilberstein also points out that causing others a monetary loss is actually
more stringent than violating shabbat and one would need about 5-10% probability
of sakanat nefesh before causing other people a loss (one case was causing a
plane to make an emergency landing for a medical emergency. R.Zilberstein's psak
was that they should do so only if there is at least a 5-10% doubt that the
patient would not be harmed by waiting until the normal landing).

Eli Turkel

From: Michael Feldstein <michaelgfeldstein@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: What is life threatening

Kudos to Chana Luntz (MJ 59#74) on her excellent post on safek pikuach nefesh.

It reminded me of the great quote by the Brisker Rav who, after ruling
leniently on allowing a sick person to eat on Yom Kippur, said, "I'm not
being meikil on eating on Yom Kippur, I'm being machmir on pikuach nefesh".

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: What is life threatening

I wrote (MJ 59#74):

>  1) My wife fetched neighbour whilst I dialled 102 for ambulance ....

Of course, this should have read:

>  1) My wife fetched neighbour whilst I dialled 101 for ambulance ....

102 is the fire brigade; Sorry for the typo!

David Ziants


End of Volume 59 Issue 75