Volume 59 Number 83 
      Produced: Sun, 21 Nov 2010 02:04:16 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Divorces for battered women 
    [Meir Shinnar]
Halacha for Special Agents 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Hospital Discharge on Shabbos (2)
    [Keith Bierman  Sammy Finkelman]
New book by Herman Wouk 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Pikuach-Nefesh on Shabbat (2)
    [Alex Heppenheimer  Abe Brot]
Required volunteer work 
    [Freda B Birnbaum]
Stipends for Torah students (2)
    [Leah S.R. Gordon  David Tzohar]
Tzedakah lottery tickets / Present value in Halacha 
    [Aryeh Gielchinsky]


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Divorces for battered women

Jeanette wrote (MJ 59#80):

> That is why I can never, ever understand rabbis who absolutely refuse to
> grant divorces to battered women
Mordechai Horowitz responded (MJ 59#82):

> Well then I suggest you start by learning the Gemorrah Gittin as a
> starter.  You can then follow that up by learning the Rambam, the
> Shulchan Aruch and the Aruch Hashulchan.
> Rabbis have no authority in the Jewish religion to grant divorces to
> anyone. A divorce is given by a husband to a wife.

While Mordechai is correct that Rabbis can't grant divorces, Jeanette
is right that many rabbis refuse to do what is within their power to
try and compel husbands to give divorces - and this insensitivity is
something that the Jewish community needs to speak up about.  You can
complain about the inexactitude in phrasing, but not about the
essential point.  This is not merely Jeanette's point - eg Rav
Daichovsky, recently retired from the Israeli supreme rabbinic court,
and no LW radical, has written about recents trends in some courts.

Jeanette continued:

> We have people stepping around "non-Jewish" bodies on Shabbos because we are
> going to let someone else eventually come along to save a person who might be
> dying in front of our eyes

Mordechai asked:

> Name one example.

Easy.  In Teaneck, the local volunteer ambulance service has now > 50%
Orthodox members.  They approached the local rabbinic council about
setting up a shabbat paging system.  The rav of a large shul asked
about responding to a call from a non-Jew, and said in a public sermon
that if they had to respond to non-Jews, he couldn't approve taking
call (eg, let them die...). The next week after his sermon, a member
of one of the shuls had a cardiac event, and was only saved because an
Orthodox member of the ambulance corps answered his page.   The rav
refused to change his answer.  (Other rabbanim had greater sechel and
knowledge of halacha)

Mordechai Horowitz continued:

> And if you can't I ask the moderators stop your future postings or at least
> insist you prove every single statement you make. Time and time again you
> have been proven to be fabricating your facts.  I know no educated Jew who
> would ever hesitate in a pikuach nefesh situation to do melacha.

One would wish that this was the case. eg, I have had knowlegeable,
yeshiva educated people walk over to my house asking whether they
need to call poison control because their kid swallowed something.
Every cardiologist who serves the dati community sees people with
chest pain over shabbat or yomtov try to minimize it and wait it out
until havdala (even with a three day yomtov).  If they are confronted
with what is clear cut pikuach nefesh, most would do melacha - but if
there is any doubt, many would wait until it is clear.

I would add that Jeanette has, unfortunately, earned the right to
complain about the Jewish community and establishment. Her statements
are uncomfortable to many of us, because they challenge a certain rosy
view of our community and leadership.  However, complaints about her
suggest precisely the lack of moral sensitivity about which she so
rightly complains.

Meir Shinnar


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special Agents

Before I relate to Menashe Elyashiv's comments, I think we should note how this
topic has been redefined: from special agents, i.e., Mossad operatives to all
sorts of situations where the application of the what the author of the Halachic
article is vastly different.

Now, to return to Vol. 59#82

Menashe Elyashiv wrote:

> Yisrael asked (MJ 59#81):
>> a) were they [women in Gush Etzion and Mishmar Hayarden] "combat" or simply
>> residents of the communities that did not leave but stayed to assist?
>> b) isn't the "kalah m'chupata" paradigm ("all go out to fight, even the
>> bridegroom from his chamber and the bride from out of her wedding canopy"
>> - Sotah 44B in the Mishna) applicable in that and other situations, even
>> 'mildly'?

>  Well, in those days [1948] there was not a regular army.

True but...
The Hagana was deemed, at least by the Mizrachi as the closest thing to a real
army as possible, with Yeshayahu Leibowitz commanding a religious Palmah unit in
Jerusalem, etc.  For all intents and purposes, voluntary service at Gush Etzion
was no different than obligatory service in that all Zionists knew that if they
did not serve, the state would not arise and the Arabs would engage in mass murder.

> The women chose to ...

> In Gush Etzion the group spoke about, but did not decide whether the women
> should surrender or commit suicide.

I think that sui generis situation owed as much to the fact that several of the
women were Holocaust survivors as to the general fear of what Arabs would do to
women (not that men were better treated) which, of course, leads us to the
related situation of Jewish women in the ghettos or concentration camps and
threats not to their lives but to their bodies but that is another topic.

> There are different ways to interpretate the bride going out ... it seems
> that this is not combat but rather the noncombatant positions. As far as I
> know, women did not fight in the ancient world.

Yes, Rashi, I think, notes the role of women in battles as being the scavengers
and looters but since Yael and Yehudit in Jewish tradition did engage in special
ops, we're back where we started.



From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Hospital Discharge on Shabbos

Many commentors made remarks along the line of "They discharge you from the
ward and then you are free to go wherever you choose..."

Perhaps my experience over the years is atypical, or corresponds to
especially paranoid American hospitals. But they have been consistent in

1) Someone be there to pick you up. Taxis were not permitted.
2) Hospital staff had to wheel the former patient to the vehicle.
3) Discharge instructions had to be acknowledged in writing

I assumed these rules were in place due to former patients who had poor
outcomes suing hospitals or insurance companies for premature discharge, or
lack of due dilligence in insuring that the former patient would have
appropriate followup care.

Obviously this doesn't change the halachic issues, other than possibly
obviating the workaround advised.

Might be best to inquire of the hospital's policies beforehand, if feasible.
Obviously in case of emergency, one does what one must.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Nov 19,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Hospital Discharge on Shabbos

Leah S.R. Gordon wrote (MJ 59#79):

> For a long time, I thought there could be no 'pikuach nefesh' about *leaving*
> the hospital.

There's another aspect of this which nobody has mentioned yet. If it
was difficult to leave, people might be reluctant to *go* to a
hospital. This is taken into account when it comes to doctors and
midwives even if there is no prospect of being needed again.

Now in this case the answer seems to be it is almost always possible
to take care of the situation using amira l'akum (telling or asking a
non-Jew to do something) of a Rabbinical Shabbos violation, and this
might be one of the purposes for which amira l'akum can be used

We need a brief review of the (very complicated) rules for amira
l'akum (which would not capture it precisely I know)


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Nov 19,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: New book by Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk has a new book out this year (2010) called The Language
God Talks: On Science and Religion. (180 pages) It's basically an essay
on this and that.

The title comes from what the late physicist Richard Feynman omce told
him, basically as a joke: that calculus was the language God speaks.
He didn't really mean it or he, and other physcisists like Einstein,
didn't mean God in the way we do. It's an interesting book

BTW when he told Feynman something about Talmud, Feynman seemed to
solve a problem right away and he was pleased with himself when Herman
Wouk told him that.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Pikuach-Nefesh on Shabbat

In MJ 59#81, Avraham Brot <abe.brot@...> wrote:

> About 40 years ago, when I lived in the USA, I had two friends who were
> Orthodox Rabbis, and by coincidence, both their wives were pregnent. One
> rabbi studied the laws of pikuah-nefesh from A to Z, so that he would know
> whether to drive his wife to the hospital, or ask a non-Jewish neighbor to
> take them, how to park after delivering his wife to the emergency room,
> should he turn off the lights afterwards, what about turning off the
> ignition, etc., etc.

> The other Rabbi told me that he didn't do any planning, and if his wife
> enters labor on shabbat, he will do what needs to be done and whatever he
> does incorrectly will be b'shgaga (not intended) and not b'meizeed
> (deliberate).

> I am not a Rabbi, but I think the second Rabbi had a healthier attitude to
> this problem.

Would he apply this to other areas of halachah? When people came to ask him 
halachic questions, did he say something similar: "I don't know the answer; do 
whatever you think is right, and that way, at worst, your actions will be 
b'shogeg (inadvertent)"?

In non-Jewish law there is the concept that "ignorance of the law is no excuse."
Lehavdil, in halachah, while it is true that a person who violates Shabbos (or
any other mitzvah) b'shogeg is not punishable by a human court, he most
definitely needs atonement: when the Beis Hamikdash was standing he would have
to bring a chatas (sin-offering) - and even nowadays he should make a note of
it, so that he can check whether he needs to do so when the Beis Hamikdash is
rebuilt, may it be soon (see Shabbos 12b and Yoma 80a). So far from having "a
healthier attitude to this problem," from your description - and in the spirit
of judging this Rabbi favorably, perhaps your account is not completely accurate
- it sounds like he had a rather cavalier attitude towards the sanctity of
Shabbos and of the One who gave us its halachos.

Kol tuv,

From: Abe Brot <abe.brot@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Pikuach-Nefesh on Shabbat

I would like to thank Martin Stern and Akiva Millar (MJ 59#82) for their
comments to my posting (MJ 59#81).

Perhaps I didn't express myself properly. The second Rabbi is certainly a
talmid chacham, and of course knows the rules of pikuah-nefesh. But he
didn't feel that he must plan every possible scenario that might occur while
taking his wife to the hospital. For example, should he turn off the
ignition after dropping off his wife or should he leave the motor running
and the lights burning until shabbat is over? If his car is blocking the
emergency room enterance, should he move it (after dropping off his wife) or
leave it be until shabbat is over?

He felt that there is no need to delve into the small details, and whatever
happens, he will decide on the spot and remain a shogeg if he erred.

Best regards,
Avraham Brot


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Required volunteer work

Wendy Baker (MJ 59#82) wrote impressively about getting kids involved 
in chessed projects.

The stuff she describes can be very positive.  However, I've long wondered 
about the value of forcing people to do "volunteer" work.  How volunteer 
is it if it's a requirement?

I remember being a "candy striper" (helping out with routine tasks in a 
hospital) as part of a Girl Scout project in high school, but that was a 
free choice on my part.  I'm not sure how effective I would have been if 
I'd been forced to do it as a school requirement.

And I'm not so sure how much I will enjoy, if I live long enough and in 
such a condition, visits to "seniors" from people who have to do it for 
school, or who are looking for mitzvah points.  I do myself try to get 
involved in individuals' needs as they arise and as they are appropriate 
to my situation.

On the other hand, Wendy's closing paragraph is key:

> I think it is important to set an example, find actual programs for 
> young people to work in and, for those not internally (or parentally) 
> motivated, to have requirements so they can get the chance to do this 
> kind of work. Not everyone is able to understand the need for Chesed 
> without education.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Stipends for Torah students

In M.J vol 59 #80, among several different viewpoints regarding kolel, Rabbi
Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...> wrote:

> May I agree with David Zohar's crticism (MJ 59#79) of the article brought
> to our attention by Jeanette Friedman (MJ 59#78).
> In the USA, one may get a substantial grant for studying Hottentot
> literature. In Israel, for Chinese studies amongst other things.
> It is only Torah study that should not be supported!!!

I believe this is a straw-man (straw-person?  ;)  don't edit out my
smiley...everyone thinks I'm feminist enough already) argument, and here is

A study of Hottentot or Chinese studies (or physics or literature etc.) is
supported by grant or assistantship only to the extent that the student
qualifies for the initial money and usually for continued support, by both
academic excellence and rigorous publishing schedules and examinations.

I have never heard anyone on M.J or elsewhere object to an elite few kolel
students, who would qualify by examination and continued study.  Presumably
these would also have to publish results of their learning/research, and
presumably they would also have an end-date at which time they would use
their learning for good in the community in some paid position (cf. a
professor after a graduate program in Hottentot literature).

I never knew, but was really upset to read on M.J, that in times of war the
students aren't working harder to do more learning to protect Israel.

The problem is a whole society of kolel students on the dole, waiting for
someone else to support them financially and militarily.  How is this
economically sustainable?  How is it not a chillul hashem?

Leah S. R. Gordon

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Stipends for Torah students

Bernard Raab wrote (MJ59#81) that Torah study without a program of
demonstrated accomplishment and an end goal is self-indulgence.
Unfortunately Torah learning cannot be subsumed under the American work
ethic. The primary goal of Torah study is the study itself. This is called
Torah lishmah.

The Torah commands us all "vehagita bo yomam valailah". In fact very few are
able and even fewer are willing to devote themselves to full time Torah
study. The Maimonidean ideal of the the Torah scholar who is a working
professional independent of public or private support is practically
unattainable. The fact is that from the time of the Torah there has always
been a cadre of Torah scholars who were supported by the Jewish People, from
the Levites, through the example of Zevulun supporting Yissachar, the
students of the great Babylonian acadamies etc.

The real avreich is someone who is willing to live on a subsistence level in
order to keep serious Torah scholarship alive. Far from being self indulgence,
this is the fulfillment of shlichut. On the other hand those who think that
baale battim on their own can keep Torah scholarship alive are engaging in

David Tzohar


From: Aryeh Gielchinsky <Aryeh.Gielchinsky@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 21,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Tzedakah lottery tickets / Present value in Halacha

I'm sure many of you have gotten mailings from Tzedakahs that run lotteries or
Chinese auctions. I have a question about how much of the price of the ticket
can be counted towards Ma'aser (10% of income donated to charity).

Rav Moshe (Iggros Moshe OC 4:76b) claims that if you have a Tzedakah lottery
that will only sell for example 5000 tickets for a prize of $1000, you have
to figure out how much a non-Tzedakah lottery ticket of a similar nature would
sell for, and deduct that amount from the price of the Tzedakah lottery ticket,
which will give you how much Tzedakah you have actually given. (For instance if
such a non-Tzedakah lottery ticket cost 20 cents, and the Tzedakah lottery
ticket cost $1, you have only given 80 cents of Tzedakah for each ticket you

He compares this to a Gemara (and Rishonim) in Makkos 3a that discusses how the
market value of wife's and husband's rights in the Ketubah would fluctuate based
on different factors, such as his health, if they fight or not etc. The Gemara
recognizes that people would be willing to buy those rights from the husband or
wife, and therefore those rights have a value. Rav Moshe claims that our
Tzedakah lottery ticket will have the value of the comparable non-Tzedakah
lottery ticket, and you would therefore not be able to count the whole $1
towards Tzedakah (because the Tzedakah organization effectively gave you 20
cents right back in the form of a ticket).

Based only on the Gemara in Makkos, this seems correct, but there is a Gemara in
Bava Metzia (69a) that seems to say that an uncertain future payment (a lottery
ticket) has no present value. The case is an investor gives someone else $100 to
manage, and the deal they work out is that the investor gets a 50% take of the
profits and losses, and the manager gets the other 50% of the profits and loses.
(For instance, if when they close the partnership, the partnership has $108 of
stuff, the investor gets $104 and the manager gets $4. If the
partnership is only worth $90, then the manager has to pay the investor $5. If
the partnership is worth $0 then the manager has to give the investor $50.) 

Effectively the investor has given the manager $50 to manage, and he has also
given him a loan of $50. Presumably the reason the manager is managing the
investor's money is to get the loan. We view the management of the investor's
money as a payment of interest on the loan. Since you can't charge interest, the
manager has to charge a management fee. The Gemara discusses varies management
fees, and suggests (according to Rashi and many Rishonim) that any profits until
 $33 be split evenly as before, but profits above $33 go solely to the manager,
and that extra possible payment may be considered the management fee. In the
Gemara's first understanding, Rav says this is ok, but Shmuel says it is not
permitted because if there is no profit above $33 the manager won't get his fee.
(According to the Gemara's second understanding, Rav only said this deal is ok
when the manager doesn't have to do any extra work for the investor, meaning
when the forgiven manager's fee is basically worthless). 

When I first read this I thought Rav held the profit above $33 has present value,
while Shmuel held it doesn't. I didn't really understand Shmuel's position
because presumably the manager could enter into a deal with a third party where
the third party pays the manager $1 (for example) right now for the rights to
the profit above $33. Granted it might be worth nothing latter, but it is worth
something right now! (Also it appears that Tosfos "Amar Rav" did not understand
Rav like I did. They ask, "why is this deal not considered a Tzad Echad Biribis
[one scenario leads to interest], since there is a possibility of no profits
above $33?" This question assumes that the manager got nothing of value at the
onset of the deal. The Ramban on the bottom of 68b also seems to assume the same

So according to the second explanation of the Machlokes, no one holds a lottery
ticket has any present value. According to the first explanation Shmuel
certainly hold the ticket has no present value, and Rav also holds that
according to Tosfos. If that is the case, it would seem that the whole $1 cost
of the Tzedakah ticket could be considered Tzedakah, and that you would not need
to subtract the 20 cents (except according to the way I read Rav in the Gemara's
first explanation). 

After looking around I found Acharonim who discuss the Machlokes of Rav and
Shmuel in regards to present value/market value, but no one had a good answer to
why Tosfos did not take into account the present value of the profit above $33.
Also no one compared the Bava Metzia case to the Makkos case. In essence my
question really isn't about Tzedakah lotteries or Ribbis; it is "Did Chazal
recognize the present value of an uncertain future payment?"

Thank you

Aryeh Gielchinsky


End of Volume 59 Issue 83