Volume 6 Number 68

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Acceptability of G-d as a witness
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Honoring of Parents by a Convert
         [Yosef Branse]
Jewish Banks
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Jewish Bodies
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Old Gezerot on Modern Innovations
         [Zev Kesselman]
Raising Goats In Israel (II)
         [babkoff avraham]
Rav Bleich's Article on In-Vitro Fertilization
         [Yosef Branse]
Solar Heaters
         [Zev Kesselman]


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 16:07:04 -0800
Subject: Acceptability of G-d as a witness

In last week's Torah reading, we read about the incident of the Golden
Calf. The Maharsha in Yevamot 62a asks a very interesting question on
this incident, and his answer is absolutely fascinating.

When Moses was on top of Mt. Sinai, the Torah tells us, G-d informed
Moses as to what the Jews were doing. Thus, even before Moses came down
from the mountain he knew exactly what the score was.

Yet, questions the MAharsha, it wasn't until AFTER Moses actually SAW
the calf, that he destroyed the Tablets. Why did he wait until AFTER
seeing the Calf to destroy the Tablets, instead of destroying them
immediately when G-d informed him of "the problem"?

The Maharsha himself gives 2 answers to this question, and I have heard
others as well. But it is his first answer, which I find the most
interesting. This, by the way, he brings down from a Midrash.

Basically, he says that although G-d fully informed Moses of the exact
event, Moses was forbidden to act upon G-d's testimony, until he
actually witnessed the event first hand.  This, the Maharsha says, is
identical to a case where someone you know and fully trust gives you
testimony, and yet you are forbidden to act upon it, based on his
individual testimony.

Thus, the apparent lesson which is relevant to our generation, (and
contrary to what many of the non-Orthodox think), is the fact that
although someone may be unacceptable as a witness in Jewish Law, in no
way implies in any shape-or-form that they are unreliable. Certainly,
they cannot be more reliable then the Al-mighty himself, and one cannot
say that Moses did not believe the Al-mighty. Nonetheless, based on the
Torah's guidelines, we cannot accept certain testimonies, although we
may "know" definitively that it is true.

(v'hamyaven yavin!)

Hayim Hendeles


From: <JODY@...> (Yosef Branse)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 03:30:05 -0500
Subject: Honoring of Parents by a Convert

The recent thread regarding whether converts have an obligation to honor
their natural, non-Jewish parents reminded me of some impressive
behavior by a friend of my family, a gioret tzedek, just last year.

She was sent by her employer to work in the American branch of the
company for several months. When she returned to Israel, she brought
along her elderly, widowed mother, and toured the country with her. The
mother was frightened of flying home alone, so at the end of the trip,
the daughter flew back to the U.S. with her mother (at her own expense),
turned around and came back to Israel.

Later in the year, the mother entered her final illness. Our friend took
time off from work and went to America again, to nurse her mother,
staying with her to the end. After the funeral she returned to Israel.

I don't know what conclusions were reached regarding the convert's
obligation to honor non-Jewish parents. But I think we can all learn
something about "hidur mitzvah" (exemplary performance of the mitzvah)
from our friend's conduct.


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 00:56:00 -0500
Subject: Jewish Banks

        Reb Moshe in his teshuvos is relatively lenient, but Reb
Shlomo Zalman in the minchas shlomo is more stringent, assentially
because he questions the legal device of a corporation in halacha. it
is therefore preferable whenever possible, to bank in a bank in which
the majority of stockholders are non-Jeiwsh in order to avoid usury
issurim. If this is impossible, Reb Moshe allows one to recieve
interest from a Jewish owned bank, since technically the shareholders
are not personally liable, they are therfore not considered borrowers
that are paying you interet. Borrowing from such a bank without a
heter iska is tricky, however, since no where in halacha does it state
that a lender must personally receive the interest from the borrower.


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 00:49:49 -0500
Subject: Jewish Bodies

        I cannot cite from memory chapter and verse, but in his
teshuvos, based on the Gemora, the Chasam Sofer is reluctant in
Hilchos Niddah to rely on the testimony of non-Jewish medical experts,
because, since they eat "shekatzim u'remasim" [insects and vile
creatures] their biological conditions are different than ours.


From: ZEV%<HADASSAH@...> (Zev Kesselman)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 11:28 JST
Subject: Old Gezerot on Modern Innovations

        First of all, I'd like to thank Manny Lehmann for overcoming his
"trepidations" (we all have them, you know) and sending his post
regarding nonapplicability of "predated" gezerot.  Now that he's cleared
that up, I seem to recall a similar application of the principle
regarding use of certain oils on Pesach: i.e., the kitniyot gezera
couldn't possibly apply (by this reasoning) to modern kitniyot oils
which were not in use at the time of the gezera.  (Don't remember the
specifics - corn? sunflowers?).
        With like trepidation, I just want to ask one question on his
statement about gezerot and takanot, that

>                            once established its continuing
>applicability is independent of the any reason given for its original
>promulgation. It can only be rescinded by a Beth Din greater in both
>authority and wisdom than the Beth Din that made the gezerah in the
>first place. To prove these points he cited the takanot re the cheese,

        There is an opinion of the Tiferes Yisrael (Mishna Eduyot 1:5)
stating that there are three types of decrees.  As I understand it, the
"syag" (fence, to prevent getting too close to d'orayta violations) type
can *never* be reversed; the straight "takana" follows the above rule
posted by Manny; and the "chashash" (apprehension you might do something
wrong accidentally) can be ignored once the reason is no longer
applicable.  Examples are given there freely for the three categories.
        Is this is an innovation of the Tiferes Yisrael, or a
restatement of a "known" principle?  Is the distinction accepted?

				Zev Kesselman


From: <babkoff@...> (babkoff avraham)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 17:37:21 +0200
Subject: Raising Goats In Israel (II)

In addition to all the research quoted in my last submission (Vol. 6
#65), I would like to add that there exist Hallachic sources as well,
for the problem raised.

The Rambam ("Nizkei Mamon", Chap. 5), claims that the prohibition was in
fact introduced at the period the Israelites first conquered the land of
Israel, in the time of Yehoshua. The rational being, that since these
animals are prone to cause damage to others, by consuming their fields,
Yehoshua, (or the tribes, see Albeck "Mavo La'Mishna", chap.2 pp.34-35)
created ordinances that would make co-habitation in a newly non nomadic
society, more bearable.

On the other hand, how does one bring sacrifices? The Rambam says (ibid.
Hallacha 7), that one may purchase the beast up to 30 days prior to the
holiday, or any other mitzvah feast ("sons wedding").

This Hallacha can also be found in the "Tur Shulchan Aruch" Chap. 409,
as well as "Aruch Ha'Shulchan" (same chapter).

How does one settle the differences between modern research, and the
classical Hallachist's? I'm not sure. I have a few theories, but I'm
reluctant to share them at this point. No great loss.

                             Nachum Issur Babkoff


From: <JODY@...> (Yosef Branse)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 03:42:28 -0500
Subject: Rav Bleich's Article on In-Vitro Fertilization

In MJ 6/61, Nachum Babkoff, discussing in-vitro fertilization, cites an
article by Rabbi J. D. Bleich on the subject. Here is the reference: "In
vitro fertilization; questions of maternal identity and conversion." In
Tradition, Vol. 25 No. 4 (1991), pp. 82-102.

Yosef (Jody) Branse       University of Haifa Library  <JODY@...> 


From: ZEV%<HADASSAH@...> (Zev Kesselman)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 93 10:47 JST
Subject: Solar Heaters

	I don't think the permissibility of solar heaters on shabbos is
as clear cut as popular belief has it.  Shmirat Shabbat K'hilchato
certainly has a very long footnote about it, and permits it only under
conditions contrary to its actual use (preventing cold water from
entering, etc).  Otherwise "Tov L'himana..." (Better not to, whatever
*that* means about hetter/issur!).
	I also remember reading a scientific/halachic argument on one
aspect of the subject, revolving around whether the water was being
heated by the sun directly (and the pipes in the collector serving only
as a vessel), or whether the *pipes* were being heated, and they in turn
heated the water; this has halachic ramifications as well.
	Many years ago, in a different city, I bought a solar heater,
only to be told by a friend that the permissibility of its shabbes use
was far from certain.  I wrote a formal she'ela to the Rav Harashi of
that city.  The tshuva was published in the monthly religious council
newsletter, but bore little resemblance to the question: yes, it is
permissible to use the hot water *after* shabbos.
	"Miklal hen ata shomea lav?".  I no longer own a solar heater.

				Zev Kesselman


End of Volume 6 Issue 68