Volume 6 Number 26

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Conservative Responsa
         [Hillel Markowitz]
         [Zev Kesselman]
Driving to Shul (2)
         [Steve Epstein, Danny Skaist]
Electricity on Shabbos
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Misheberach for Not Talking in Shul (2)
         [Marc Meisler, Daniel Lerner]
Mother-Egg  Addendum
         [Danny Skaist]
Sending away the mother bird (final thoughts)
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
When Electricity Began
         [Zev Farkas]


From: <hem@...> (Hillel Markowitz)
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 93 11:41:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Conservative Responsa

>I believe Yosef when he says that no serious posek has bothered to
>refute this "position."  However, this "position" apparently is that of
>the Ra'ah.  Or similar to it.  Sometime back, I had asked my rabbi if
>electricity was mideoraysa or miderabbanan.  He mentioned, inter alia,
>that the Ra'ah held that since electricity did not exist at the time of
>the beys ha mikdesh, it was not deoraysa; this, it seems, was a
>necessary condition.

There is a difference between electricity and the internal combustion
engine.  While neither were used at the time of Matan Torah (tho the
flying saucer nuts claim the aron was a powerful condenser and contained
a radio (:-)) the internal combustion engine is an actual example of a
fire.  The fact that the fire is used for transportation rather than
heat does not matter in our case.  One is still burning a fuel.
Electricity on the other hand is a totally different physical process.

I would therefore say that we cannot make the argument that automobiles
did not exist at that time.

Hillel Markowitz    <H_Markowitz@...>


From: ZEV%<HADASSAH@...> (Zev Kesselman)
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 93 08:49 JST
Subject: Deoraysa/Derabbanan

	Meylech Viswanath wrote:

>     the Ra'ah held that since electricity did not exist at the time of
>the beys ha mikdesh, it was not deoraysa; this, it seems, was a
>necessary condition.

	I am astonished!  If status quo determines, then why not that
which existed at maamad Har Sinai (the Sinai revelation)?  Why beis

	Furthermore, electricity by this reasoning is a late
development: what about striking a match, or planting potatoes?  Can
someone supply readily available source material for this remarkable

			Zev Kesselman


From: <stevee@...> (Steve Epstein)
Date: Mon, 25 Jan  19:11:21 1993
Subject: Driving to Shul

Concerning the discussion of the Conservative Heter to drive on Shabbat,
I read the discussion in Klein's (Conservative) Jewish Religious
Practice some time back. He writes that the movement recognizes that
although some have tried, from the point of specific Halachic argument
its very hard to allow this using the normal Halachic rules. What they
decided to do was to use "Horat Shaah" (temporary decree) and "Eit
Laasot LaHashem Hoferu Toretacha" (literally "There is a time to make
for HaShem so they have broken Your Law"): the concept that special
times require extra-Halachic measures. Classically, the model for this
comes from Elisha on Har Carmel, when he built an alter outside of the
Mikdash because of a special need to counter the Baalists.  The analogy
to today is that if they do not allow this, thousands and thousands of
Jews will have no exposure to Judaism whatsoever.

Now, all flaming aside, I think the concept of Horrat Shaah is a
legitimate topic for discussion. Are there other examples of this
principle ? What are the parameters? Who decides? How temporary is
temporary? Does it have any application to modern Psak? Where is it
discussed? Speaking for myself, I do not know enough about Horrat Shaah
to shrug this off.  If I were researching it, I would probably start
with the Encyclopedia Talmudit. It seems to me to be a non trivial

I wish also to suggest that when quoting the official position of
another movement, one look it up in *their* literature. Otherwise, we
aren't really being fair.

Steve Ehrlich

From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 93 08:31:27 -0500
Subject: Driving to Shul

>>Cheryl Mack
>>        Nonetheless serious Conservative Jews who rely on this psak
>>would not agree that "it is better not to drive".

>The (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly ruled:
>  "...As we have already indicated, participation in public service on the
>Sabbath is in the light of modern conditions to be regarded as a great
>_mitzwah_, since it is indispensable to the preservation of the religious
>life of American Jewry.  Therefore it is our considered opinion that the
>positive value involved in the participation in public worship on the
>Sabbath outweighs the negative value of refraining from riding in an

Note that even in the original "permission" the R.A. acknowledges that
"riding in an automobile" has "negative value", or in other words "it is
better not to drive".

>   C. Rabbi Isaac Klein notes "Yet we must not construe this option as a
>general _heter_ [permission], but rather applying to individual cases where
>a choice must be made.  Every other alternative must be exhausted first."
>(Klein, _A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice_, p. 86)

The tshuva was given to people who would not have any connection to
Judaism in their lives, at all, if they couldn't drive to shul.  Even
so, there was a minority opinion published at the same time opposing it.
In Israel, the Conservatives declared that the conditions that existed
in the U.S. in the early 50's do not exist, so the "heter" was revoked.

>Gary Davis
>            If a Conservative Jew drives to services, and knows that it
>would be better to walk, it is better than if he did not go to services,

No! A Conservative Jew may under no circumstances drive to services if
it is at all possible to walk there.  No authority permits that.  It's
tantamount to saying "I will only go to services if I'm permitted 
to .........".



From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 93 01:09:35 -0500
Subject: Electricity on Shabbos

        In MJ # 23 it was mentioned that the Ra'ah holds that since
electricity did not exist at the time of the Beis HaMikdash it s use
cannot be considered a d'oraysa. As the Ra'ah lived in the 13th century,
I am not sure how he could have expressed such an opinion.  Perhaps the
writer was referring to the point that Reb Shlomo ZAlman Auerbach makes
in his writings on electricity: THat where no light or heat is produced
in the electric circuit, no melacha d'oraysa is involved. According,
however to the Chazon Ish, anytime one completes a circuit one
transgresses the d'oraysa of "boneh", creating a new entity with unique
characteristics. When a filament burns, most Poskim agree with the Beis
Yitzchak that a d'oraysa of either "mav'ir" [burning] or"mevashel"
[cooking] is involved.


From: Marc Meisler <0004857437@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 93 10:10:03 -0500
Subject: Misheberach for Not Talking in Shul

Justin Hornstein asks where to get a copy of the mishebearach for people
who don't talk in shul.  It is reprinted in the "Minchas Yerushalim"
siddur - what I like to call the "encyclopedia siddur" because it has
everything one could possibly need, not need, or want in a siddur,
including illustrations of fruits and vegetables with their appropriate
brachos, and an exhaustive list of zmanim (times for davening) for
Yerushalim and New York and a less exhaustive list for London.  If you
don't have access to this siddur and would like a copy of the
mishebearach, let me know and I can xerox it and send it to you.

Marc Meisler

From: <lerner@...> (Daniel Lerner)
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 93 19:09:07 -0500
Subject: Misheberach for Not Talking in Shul

There is a mi-sheberach for those who don't talk in shul in the siddur
"Tfilat-cal-peh" near the birchot-hatorah for shabbat morning.  My
recollection is of the text is "... may He bless he who guards his mouth
and his tongue so as not to speak during the time of Tfilah ... "

dan lerner


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 93 02:11:31 -0500
Subject: Mother-Egg  Addendum

I wrote.
>If the bird puts the nest on your property, you can only get the mitzva by
>chasing the mother away before the mother has gotten off the egg the FIRST
>time.  Once she has gotten off, the egg is yours anyway and the mitzva
>doesn't apply. (I don't remember why it isn't yours before she gets off).
I couldn't remember so I went back to my LOR.
Your property can only take posession in a case where you would want it to.
Since it is a sin to take posession of a "mother-egg set", your property ,in
your own best interests, won't/can't do it for you.  So as long as the set
remains together it remains public property.



From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 93 02:30:57 -0500
Subject: Sending away the mother bird (final thoughts)

After I waxed poetic (waned poetic?) on shiluach ha-ken, Eli Turkel got
the discussion on a logical track.  The Rambam is fairly explicit in
supporting his point, if you know how to read the Rambam.  Begin with
the beginning of Hilchot Shechita (Laws of Slaughtering) in the Mishneh
Torah.  He lists five mitzvot of shechita: "...(4) Not to take the
mother with the young. (5) To release the mother if one did take her
with the young."

There is NO separate positive mitzvah of releasing the mother!  This
point is also clear from the beginning of Ch. 13, which deals with this
area.  The first halacha specifies the punishment for killing the
mother; it continues, "and if he sends it away after taking it he is
patur [not liable]."  The second halacha goes: "And thus is it for every
negative mitzva that is nitak [connected?] to a positive mitzva: one is
obligated to perform the positive mitzva that is in it and if he does
not, he is liable to flogging."

It is clear from this that the positive mitzvah of sending away the
mother exists solely as a way to rectify the offense of having taken her
in the first place.  In the same way, there is a positive mitzvah of
returning a stolen item and paying a fine in order to rectify the theft.
So now I really don't understand people who go looking for a way to
fulfill this mitzvah.  Do they also steal things in order to return

Ben Svetitsky     <fnbenj@...>


From: Zev Farkas <farkas@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 93 01:49:04 -0500
Subject: When Electricity Began

In the discussion of use of a car on shabbat, there has been mention on
this list that electricity did not exist during the time of the beit
hamikdash.  As an electrical engineer, I am admitedly prejudiced, but I
beg to differ on this matter.

I'm sure lightning has been around since shortly after the creation of the
atmosphere.  Similarly, nuclear energy is at least as old as the stars. 
all that is new about electricity is people learning how to use it

As far as the internal combustion engine goes, the flame inside the
cylinder is still a flame, even if it is being used in a novel way. 
perhaps the fact that it is contained in an opaque vessel, and thus the
light produced is not noticeable, may have some halachik bearing, but I
would find this very surprising.

Zev Farkas, PE                                :)
<farkas@...>       718 829 5278


End of Volume 6 Issue 26