Volume 59 Number 77 
      Produced: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 01:13:37 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach? 
    [David Ziants]
Electricity on Shabbos - extremes 
    [Carl Singer]
Halacha for Special agents 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Learning to a tune (was: "A good way to learn mishnah?") 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Pikuach nefesh on Shabbat (3)
    [Rabbi Meir Wise  Eli Turkel  Martin Stern]
Stringency on Shabbat 
    [Eli Turkel]
The frumkeit of our generation (4)
    [Yisrael Medad  Shmuel Himelstein  Carl Singer  Frank Silbermann]


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 10,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach?

Just under a year ago I raised the question of what Chaz"al say about 
the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach. This lead to interesting 
discussion, mainly referring to parts of the Talmud some of which were 
censored out in the middle ages because they did not resonate well with 
the Xtrian neighbours.

Some of the postings on MJ claimed that any references in the Talmud seeming
to be  to that man, etc., were actually not referring to that man in 
question, but are referring to other people.

I, personally, still have not been persuaded either way, but I just came 
across a link to an analysis in support of the claim that we have no 
proof that the passages are referring to the man in question.

The main reason why I wanted to bring the subject up again, and share 
this link, is because I was very impressed with the presentation and 
layout there.

The link is:-


Each passage in turn is analysed methodologically, and the conclusions 
are presented at the end.

The analysis was written by Gil Student, and on searching the MJ 
archives, I saw that he has some postings on mail-jewish (on other 
topics) from quite a while ago. Thus I will try and CC this posting to 
the email address that is given on his page.

(I should note that an anonymous author of another page from which I 
reached this link stated "Although I am not sure what version he used 
for this study, the points are spot-on", the unsureness of version 
possibly implying that he might have quoted from Talmud editions that 
have some textual inaccuracies. Gil Student mentions the actual editions 
he uses at the bottom of the page, so maybe someone can verify whether 
there is any basis for this possible implication.)

One of the ideas in the conclusions, that the Xtrians built their figure 
and his story around a student of R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah 
(transforming the characters in time to support their chronology), does 
make a bit of sense to me, and I don't understand why this doesn't seem 
to be more accepted among historians.

David Ziants

Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Electricity on Shabbos - extremes

Using the example of a hotel keycard on Shabbos

It's interesting that the halachic opinions quoted in MJ over the past
several years range from 'it is permissible' to 'it is forbidden even to have a
non-Jew open the door for you'.

It seems this brings us back to consulting one's own LOR or Posek.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 31,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

Posters have consistently ignored my objection to the permissibility of honeypot
intelligence operations, on the grounds that the threat is not direct.

Let me reiterate: Suppose I find a study that says that the probability of
mugging is statistically significantly less on 5 block walks (or more) if one
takes the bus vs. walking. Based on this I take the bus to Shule on Shabbath,
arguing that danger to life overrides the Sabbath.

I am wrong! Why? Because danger to life overriding the Sabbath only applies when
there is a certain definiteness and directness.

We are discussing violating a core Jewish value, chastity, to POSSIBLY obtain
information, in a non-war situation (we have a terrorist situation but there are
no direct attacks on the people volunteering).

Even if there was logic and precedent (which I have questioned in other
postings) - is there danger? What is the danger to the women seducing? Also how
certain is she that she will get information? Is such information gatherable

Even further, isn't she ENDANGERING her life by consorting with a terrorist?
After all they are not stupid. Why should a Jewish girl (presumably because she
was sent) subject herself to this? 

I am in rather a state of shock at how much support R Shvat's decision is
getting. Just to recap no one has explained:

a) how much danger there is 

b) how much intelligence we are getting 

c) whether we are not endangering ourselves further 

d) why about yayharayg veal yaavor (incurring martyrdom rather than surrender to
sexual sin) can be waived.

I have to also ask: What has gotten into everybody? Does anyone really believe
that this is a Jewish Psak and consistent with Jewish law? Why are there no
stronger protests?

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


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Learning to a tune (was: "A good way to learn mishnah?")

In MJ 59#57, David Ziants responded to my posting (MJ 59#56):

>> The Gemorah says Gemorah should be learned to a tune, but this is not
>> the kind of tune you hear.  The musical tones actually follow the
>> meaning - and the same thing is true for Torah reading.

> I did not know that the la-la sometimes used when learning Gemmara has
> the same status as the traditional music cantillation  that is used for
> Torah reading. Can you substantiate, please, the equivalence you make here?

Megillah 32a. Not far from the end of the mesechta.

What it says there in the Gemorah is that Rabbi Shefatiah said that Rabbi
Yochanan (big Amora in Eretz Yisroel circa 250 CE) said that (quoting the
Soncino translation) "If one reads the scripture without a melody [N'eimah]
or repeats the Mishnah without a tune [Zimrah] of him Scripture says
[Yechezkel 20:25] wherefore I gave him statutes [Chukim] that were not good."

Abaye (later generation Babylonian Amora who was a real authority)
disagreed and said, "Because he can't carry a tune we're going to say
(as the same Posuk says) ordinances [Mishpatim] whereby they should
not live?" No, [says Abaye] actually you apply that verse in Yechezkel
the way Rabbi Mesharshia did - it would apply to two scholars who live
in the same town and don't treat each other's halachic pronouncements
respectfully - that's when it's like you have Chukim that are not good
and Mishpatim whereby you won't live.

The upshot is that - no, it is not any kind of halachah that Mishnah
(now it's more the Gemorah) and Torah have to be sung - but that it's
a good thing to put them to a melody. Both things are mentioned in the
same breath. And this also tells you that they were in fact sung (the
way they are now) and probably both for the same reason.

Somewhere else [i.e. not in this specific Talmudic section --Mod.] is
something that putting it to a tune helps you remember. It might
actually be something about saying things out loud.

In the case of reading the Torah, the trup was prepared long ago, and
basically it is designed to put words together and keep them apart,
and sometimes lengthen the time spent on a word.

For instance in the current sedrah, Vayera [in Genesis --Mod.], the
Ba'al Koreh stands on a word a long time (Vayismamah - and he delayed)
at the beginning of the verse 19:16. In the next Sedrah, Chayeh Sarah
you have the same trup at the beginning of 24:12 (Vayomar - and he
said)  This particular trup is an unusually long pause.

In the case of the gemorah, you do it yourself. It's not la la but
rather the whole thing is said (ideally) with a tune that is
lengthened or not lengthened according to the words and the logic. It
is a tune that can be extended or left short.

NOTE: I knew this was in the Mesechta Megillah but I couldn't find it
at first even with the help of the Soncino Index to the Talmud. I did
a Google search - I don't remember what I did and cannot reproduce it
- but it led me to this page:


And specifically these words on the page:

One who reads without the musical notes: Megillah 32a

I couldn't find so far the other thing (the connection to memory) but
it might be in Berachos.

Note November 8: Maybe I found it:

Learning Torah audibly: Berachot 15b ["Hahu BiDivrei Torah Ketiv"]
which I got from:

http://www.webshas.org/torah/limud.htm Laws of Learning Torah / What
to Learn / Learning Torah audibly: Berachot 15b ["Hahu BiDivrei Torah

I found the quote but I don't know if this is it. I might be thinking
of something else.

That Torah should be studied out loud, or that the mitzvah of studying
Torah only applies to what you say out loud, seems to be deduced there
from the words "Shema Yisrael" but there's nothing  special that
limits it to saying Shema out loud.

This would probably be according to Abaye, who said that the
obligation of saying Shema is only the obligation of learning Torah
(i.e.-  although there may be some other purposes accomplished by
saying Shema, the obligation to say it within the first quarter of the
day is only the obligation of learning Torah within that time limit.
This would mean, I think, if you said Birchas HaTorah and what
follows, after it was definitely day, you could wait longer, and that
that accounts for the apparent Machlokes between two different places
in Berachos about whether Kriyas Shema is D'Rabbanim or D'Oraiseh
(sp?). It would be, if you said no other Torah in the morning, it is
D'Oraiseh. For proof, note Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who studied Torah
early in the day, only said the first verse of Shema.)


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 8,2010 at 07:16 PM
Subject: Pikuach nefesh on Shabbat

Leah Gordons fears (MJ 59#75) are unfounded. I read her posting carefully. My
comments were not meant to be directed at her personally but to draw attention
to the dangers of ignorance of the laws of pikuach nefesh.

My own wife had two three day labours, a condition inherited from her  
mother. At the onset of labour shabbat is immediately suspended no  
matter how long the labour continues. I'm grateful to Chana Luntz for  
providing sources.

Anyone who needs a nebulizer to breath is also in the category of  
safek pikuach nefesh and anybody who delays providing one is an  
ignoramus and guilty of standing idly by the blood of their neighbour.
The fact that the two situations turned out ok does not alter the  

I repeat that a competent rabbi should always be consulted.

Rabbi Meir Wise

From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Pikuach nefesh on Shabbat

Leah wrote (MJ 59#75):

> 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.

The halacha is clear that if one violates shabbat because of a reasonable doubt
of a danger to life and it turns out that there was no problem then the person
has still done the right thing and has absolutely no sin of any kind involved.

Eli Turkel

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 10,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Pikuach nefesh on Shabbat

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> described (MJ 59#76) a first-hand story of
an accident suffered by one of his grandchildren on a Shabbat visit in which
one who was eight years old, slipped and cracked his head:

> The wound was ugly but seemed to be limited to the scalp. The bleeding was
> copious but the child was totally alert. Since I was able to stop the
> bleeding, I decided against taking him to the emergency room. I reasoned that
> as long as he kept still enough to avoid reopening the wound, we could wait
> until after Shabbat and let his parents deal with it. ...
> Nevertheless, when his parents came to retrieve their three boys after
> havdalah, the atmosphere was frosty indeed. Lucky for me, my daughter called
> later that night to report that their doctor-neighbor cleaned and sutured the
> wound, and most important for  me, said that the delay in receiving treatment
> was inconsequential. ... but I now believe that they were right, and I was
> wrong. The delay in properly closing the wound could have resulted in
> infection with unpredictable consequences.

Something similar happened to me about 35 years ago, when our eldest son,
then about 5 years old, fell in the back yard and cut his head as we were
finishing our lunch. There was a lot of blood but otherwise he seemed fine
so I was not sure what to do. After cleaning him up a bit, it was apparent
that it was a clean cut and the bleeding would have washed out the wound so
I went with him to a neighbour who was an orthodox Jewish doctor. He said
that the situation was not dangerous in itself though it should be seen to,
but only to avoid later scarring.

This illustrates the two differing types of safeik pikuach nefesh:

(i)  a medical situation which, in itself, might be life threatening,

(ii) one in which the non-medically qualified person does not know whether
this is the case.

Of course one should always act as promptly as possible to avoid the
remotest danger to life even in the second case though such chesron yedia
[lack of expert knowledge] is not strictly safeik pikuach nefesh. The
general rule is "If in doubt do not take any chances".

In my case, having obtained expert opinion, we decided to walk up to the
nearest hospital since it was a beautiful summer day (Shabbat going out
after 9 p.m.) and it would only take us about half an hour to get there. On
the way we had to go over a bridge over the railway line and my son wanted
to stop to see a train go past. Luckily he agreed to go to the hospital
first if I promised that we would stop on the way back. From then on he
reminded me of this promise every few minutes! At the hospital they examined
the wound and sutured it and sent us home. As we came to the railway bridge,
he reminded me again so we waited until a train went past and then went
home. As he came in the door he shouted "Mummy, mummy we saw a train!", the
rest of the hospital visit having been completely forgotten.

Despite the treatment he still has a small scar.

Martin Stern


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Stringency on Shabbat

Sammy Finkelman (MJ 59#75) writes:

> 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."

This in general was the approach of R. Auerbach. If someone had to stay home
because of some problem with hilchot shabbat R. Auerbach would attempt
to find a heter so he could go out and daven and socialize as part of oneg shabbat

However, it is reported that the approach of R. Elyashiv was to be machmir and
claim that there is no requirement to daven in a shul and better to be machmir
on shabbat and daven by oneself at home. If socializing is necessary others
can visit him

Eli Turkel


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

In MJ 59#75, R' David Zohar writes:

> there has never been such a generation in the history of the Jewish 
People in terms of learning.

And Shevuot 14B on laws of impurity of moles and mice learned by children?
And Sanhedrin 94B during Hezkiyahu's time?


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

All this talk of Chumras brings me to what I think might be the biggest flaw
in Orthodoxy of our times: I'd like to hear about a single Chumra in our times
which deals with man and his fellow-man, as opposed to all the examples we hear
about Chumras in our dealings with God.

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 59#76):

> Posts like those of Mr. Singer and Mr. Tzohar infuriate me - neither has
> anything to support their assertions and it's losing discussion. I don't
> know what possesses people to make unsubstantiated claims and just hope that
> no one  challenges them.

I regret having infuriated Mr. Wise but I base my statements on over 60 years of
observing my communities -- first hand remembrance of how things were in shul,
in the community, in the marketplace in the 1950's and 1960's, as well as
discussing with my elders what things were like before the churban -- and seeing
these same elements in today's community.

One doesn't need statistical data to make such observations either in
behavior bayn Adam L'Makom, or bayn Adam L'Chavayrot.
*Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Colonel, U.S. Army Retired

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 9,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 59#76):

> ...this is not my observation, but 
> one I have heard from others, that for all the yeshivos and kollels, where 
> are the new gedolim who will lead us? Each generation it seems there are 
> fewer and fewer gedolim. With all those men learning, why have they not 
> emerged? Also, I would like to note that more people may be learning, thanks
> to the proliferation of translations and commentary in many languages, but 
> it's a two-edged sword, for with everything spelled out, there is little 
> "omail b'Torah" -- toiling in Torah -- and perhaps that is why we have fewer 
> potential leaders. Also, the numbers do not reflect the ability or the level
> of commitment of those in yeshiva and kollel. In kollel, in particular, from 
> what I have gathered, there is little accountability, no testing to see if 
> one is attaining and internalizing their Torah, and more than a few bench 
> warmers....
There is a reason that such a high proportion of secular academic prizes are
won, not by children attending elite private schools, but rather by
home-schooled children. When I taught college, I could relate to a student
one-on-one in ten minutes what took me an hour to wade through in a classrom
setting.  There is no comparison between a brilliant child learning as fast as
he can, versus a child in even the best school.
I suspect that most of our Gedolim have never been primarily products
of the yeshivahs but, rather, were brilliant sons who learned with their
brilliant and learned fathers one-on-one (or whose fathers paid for them to be
tutored by the best available teachers).
The yeshivas were set up so to improve the knowlege of Torah among the best
five or ten percent of our youth (maybe even less).  The institution was not set
up to create future Gedolim, who from an early age were recognized to be _well_
within a small top fraction of the top one-percent.
You do not become a Gadol by spending half your day in secular classes, nor do
you become a Gadol by having your eyes shielded from everything but Gemarra.
Nor do you become a Gadol by entering the Jewish education business with
your own yeshiva.  You become a Gadol, first of all, by being born brilliant,
and then, by learning as fast as you can in whatever subjects you and/or your
mentors believe will improve understanding.
The rest of us will have to balance learning whatever Torah is our portion
with the need to earn a living (which has its own learning requirements).
Frank Silbermann            Memphis, Tennessee


End of Volume 59 Issue 77