Volume 6 Number 49

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

3rd Party Pregnancy
         [Susan Slusky]
Images in Shuls
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Number of Letters in Torah
         [Eli Turkel]
Parsha Question - lekhem min ha shamayim (2)
         [David Mitchell, Meylekh Viswanath]
Reasons for Divorce
         [Eliot Shimoff]
Shul in Christchurch, NZ
         [Josh Klein]
Stealing for survival
         [Kibi Hofmann]
Torah mi-Sinai
         [Howard Siegel]


From: <segs@...> (Susan Slusky)
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 93 15:20:24 EST
Subject: re: 3rd Party Pregnancy

There was a recent situation where 'everybody knew' that a couple had
achieved pregnancy with ova harvested from a third party, inseminated
with the husband's sperm outside the body and then implanted into the
wife's uterus.

I witnessed the baby being named in shul, but I'm reluctant to ask the
rabbi how he halachically determined that the child is Jewish.  I feel
as if 'everybody' already knows too much here.  However I am curious
about the situation in an academic sense, so I'm bringing up the
question here.  Are there responsa that distinguish whether it is the
genetic mother or the mother on the other end of the umbilical cord who
establishes the baby's status as a Jew?  Also, does current rabbinic
opinion view this path for achieving pregnancy as praiseworthy, since it
allows a man to fulfill his mitzvah for reproduction, or not
praiseworthy but allowed, or not allowed but accepted once it occurs or

Susan Slusky


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 93 08:28:56 -0500
Subject: Images in Shuls 

        A couple of issues ago someone asked about the sources 
forbidding depictions of either humans or animals in a shul. Rabbi 
Ovadia Yosef in Yechave Da'as 3:62, in a long teshuva, even bans the 
commonly seen images of lions on a paroches. 

(Yosef Bechhofer)


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 93 15:18:32 -0500
Subject: Number of Letters in Torah

     Hayim Hendeles writes 

> Thus, given the choice between our Torah's being completely wrong,
> vs. one number printed in a questionable manuscript, I would either
> opt for the latter, or assume that this is just another of the Aggadic
> passages which may not be taken literally.

        It is not just one number in a printed manuscript . The problems
with the number of pesukim or letters in the Torah appear in a number of
places and none of the variant texts support the current number in our
Torah. This is not a new problem and this difficulty has been discussed
by several Achronim. As I mentioned once before one Acharon (admittedly
a minority of one) - The shaagas Aryeh - goes so far as to say that all
our Torahs are posul (not valid) and we read the Torah in the synagogue
in terms of custom rather than for any mitzvah.



From: David Mitchell <H7HR1001@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 93 09:55:53 CST
Subject: Parsha Question - lekhem min ha shamayim

My LOR pointed out that during the time we wandered in bamidbar, we
depended on daily miracles for survival, and that some of the normal
circumstances were reversed.  I particular, we received bread from
heaven (instead of earth) and water from earth (or stones, instead of

David Mitchell

From: <VISWANATH@...> (Meylekh Viswanath)
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 93 08:46:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Parsha Question - lekhem min ha shamayim

Zara Haimo asks about the connection between "lekhem min ha shamayim" in
shmos and "lekhem" min haaretz" in the brokhe.  In a recent shier, I
learnt from our rabbi, that according to some meforshim, the brokhe that
bnai yisroel made on the 'mon' was 'motsi lekhem min ha shamayim'.  The
question that he was discussing that day was what brokhe to say for
bread made from hydroponically grown wheat, given that one doesn't want
to change the matbea (form) of the brokhe that khazal instituted.  The
answer based on the foregoing, I suggested, was that we should say (with
minimal changes in an already established form), 'motsi lekhem min ha
mayim.'  :)



From: Eliot Shimoff <shimoff@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 93 14:55:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Reasons for Divorce

Nachum Issur Babkoff cites the mishna:
>  b. Beit Hillel say that ANY misconduct which angers the husband, can be
>     deemed valid grounds for divorce! The example brought is: "afilu hikdicha
>     tavshilo" lit. "Even if she BURNED HIS SOUP"!

Just a short comment.  Note that the language of the mishna is
"tavshilo" -- _his_ soup -- not "et ha-tavshil" (the soup).  The woman
is question is in trouble not for her inability as a cook, but because
she intentionally burned HIS soup.  (As R. Nachum points out, halakha,
in both theory and practice, does not support or foster capricious
actions by the husband.)

Eliot Shimoff


From: Josh Klein <VTFRST@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 93 08:31 N
Subject: Shul in Christchurch, NZ

Apropos the shul in Christchurch (or "chih-chih" as locals and those who
would rather not say the first syllable pronounce it): The shuls in New
Zealand take their English names from the communities in which they are
located; thus, we have the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, the Wellington
Hebrew COngregation, and the Dunedin Hebrew Congregation (which is dying
out). The shul in Christchurch is known as the Canterbury Hebrew
Congregation, after the province (rather than the city) in which it is
located. The story goes that the first minister (or rabbi) who came out
to the Jews in Christchurch wrote back to his family in England that he
had a job at the Christchurch Hebrew Cong. Upon receiving the news, his
family thought he had 'geshmad' (converted), and sat shiva for him. This
being the 1850s, mail went by boat, and it took about a year for the
misunderstanding to be resolved...  

Josh Klein VTFRST@Volcani


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 93 08:46:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Stealing for survival

Surely we could say that stealing is like all other mitzvos in that it
can be broken to preserve life.

The only mitzvos this doesn't apply to are Idol worship, murder and
adultery (well, actually any of the prohibited sexual relations which
have a death penalty)


From: <hsiegel@...> (Howard Siegel)
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 93 20:39:42 EST
Subject: Re: Torah mi-Sinai

David Sherman (<dave@...>) asks in mail.jewish 6/43:

> I've been wondering about the force of this argument [about mesorah
> from the 600,000 warriors present at Har Sinai] recently, in light
> of the passge in nevi'im (melachim, I believe) where the population
> appears to have "forgotten" Torah, and a scroll was discovered during
> renovations and brought to the king.  If I recall correctly, the
> commentaries are unsure whether the scroll was Sefer Devorim (the book
> of Deutoronomy) or the entire Torah.  As recounted in Tanakh, the
> scroll had a significant effect on the king and the population, and
> caused them to do teshuvah.
> How is this account reconciled with the concept of constant-
> transmission through the generations?

The passage referred to recounts events that occurred during the reign
of King Josiah; see 2 Kings 22.  I have seen several explanations for
what happened; I think the ones I recall now are from Hertz's comments.

One is that the sefer that was found was sefer D'varim, not the entire
Chumash, and that this part only had been neglected.  Indeed, there are
those (I am not among them) who say on the basis of this story that
D'varim was in fact a forgery and was first promulgated at the time that
the story takes place.

Another is that what was found was either D'varim or the entire Chumash,
but that it was the original autograph copy, from Moshe's own hand.  The
fact of being faced with the "original" copy explains its impact on
Josiah, who at the time of its discovery was just 18.

Something we ought to be aware of is that Josiah was the son of Amon,
who was the son of Manasseh, who was the son of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was
a tzaddik, but Manasseh was the most evil king of Judah, and Amon was
also described as doing "that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,
as did Manasseh his father."  They were both idolaters, and Manasseh
especially was described as being a particularly bloody king.  It's
hardly surprising that during the 55 years of Manasseh's reign and the
truncated 2 years of Amon's reign much of the Torah had been
deliberately blotted out.  Even Josiah (who was 8 when he came to the
throne) was likely to have been unaware of much of the Torah.  Imagine
the impact of suddenly being faced with that which one has accepted in a
vague, general way as being true -- but now seeing it in all its

Zvi (Howard) Siegel             <hsiegel@...>
Computervision                  <hsiegel@...>
Bedford, Mass.                  hsiegel%<piano.prime.com@...>
(617) 275-1800 x4064            cvbnet!<hsiegel@...>


End of Volume 6 Issue 49