Volume 60 Number 13 
      Produced: Sun, 29 May 2011 06:13:21 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Ban on circumcision? 
    [Martin Stern]
Being driven to shul on Shabbat 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Inquiry on correct philosophical approach to multiple reasons for cust 
    [Bernard Raab]
Modim d'Rabbanan (2)
    [Shimon Lebowitz  Tony Fiorino]
Pictures of women 
    [Carl Singer]
Segulot and Yeshuot 
    [Martin Stern]
Shalom Zachor 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa? (3)
    [David Ziants  Menashe Elyashiv  Bernard Raab]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 29,2011 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Ban on circumcision?

Apparently, San Francisco's citizens will be invited to vote on whether to
ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18 in November.

This is a recrudescence of Neopaganism, as the Jerusalem Post put it in an
editorial (27 May):

"Opposition to brit mila dates back to ancient times. Romans, normally
tolerant occupiers, were particularly hostile to the practice before and
after the destruction of the Second Temple. ... Defacing the male sexual
organ was seen by the pagan Romans as an attack on the Hellenistic adoration
of nature, considered perfect and a reflection the will of the gods."

As I see it, the essential difference between the Jewish and pagan view of
the world is that we do NOT see nature as perfect but as something G-d has
left slightly imperfect on purpose in order to give us the opportunity to
correct its faults. We say as much three times a day in Aleinu that we hope
that He will "perfect the world as the kingdom of the Almighty and all
people will call on His name".

This is the concept underlying circumcision because, in doing it, we perform
G-d's command to perfect our bodies as a symbolic first stage in the
perfection of His world. It is this challenge to the pagan worldview that
has inspired the opposition to it throughout the ages from the times of the
ancient Greeks and Romans to the misguided 'Intactivists' of San Francisco.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Thu, May 26,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Being driven to shul on Shabbat

Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...> wrote (MJ 60#12):

> Years ago, I found in the Judaica, First Edition, a reproduction of a
> bus/train  ticket to be used specifically by Jews on Sabbath and the
> festivals. I assume there was no Mar'it Ayin involved, as all knew about the
> arrangement.

I think one could say that Mar'it Ayin no longer exists because the Internet has
made everyone knowledgeable about everything. Google search trumps Mar'it Ayin. 

Here at the Kotel people are now using Grama Electric Skooters on Shabbat. Why
should they not be prohibited by Mar'it Ayin?

It is nonsense that something should only be prohibited because of Mar'it Ayin. 

"Not Shabbosdic" is a more interesting issue.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, May 27,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Inquiry on correct philosophical approach to multiple reasons for cust

In MJ 60#10, Bernard Raab writes:
> I believe Dr. Hendel(MJ 60#08) has hit upon a very real problem in
> contemporary Torah learning. Many rabbis seem to believe that any idea that
> cannot be supported by multiple citations is not worthy of presentation..... 

In MJ 60#11, Chana Luntz writes:

> I don't believe that there is any underlying negativity in relation to
> creativity.  But there is also reality. The reality of the sea of Torah is
> that it is very vast, and unusually (compared with most bodies of knowledge)
> everything has a tendency to connect to everything else.  Proofs from one
> area of halacha are brought across the system in relation to other areas in
> a way that rarely happens in other bodies of knowledge (secular law for
> example).  What that means is that unless one knows a goodly portion of it,
> there is a very real chance that one's leap of creativity will cut across or
> contradict the flow of the Torah elsewhere.  Therefore, unless one has
> mastered kol haTorah kula [the entirety of the Torah], there needs to be a
> level of humility, a level of tentativeness about advancing new or creative
> theses.  And somebody who knows that he does not have that kind of grasp,
> may not unreasonably feel that to give over creative theses that may well be
> completely wrong as emes [truth] in a Torah drasha is close to if not a
> violation of a Torah principle, m'dvar sheker tirchoq [keep away from
> falsehood].  Multiple citations are the closest guarantee one can give that
> even if one cannot oneself see the entirety of the picture, somebody greater
> than oneself has and that the idea cited falls within the sea of Torah and
> not beyond its boundaries.

Chana makes the case beautifully that you ought to know something about the
subject before you unleash your pen or open your mouth with a new idea. The
uniqueness of Torah learning, IMHO, lies not so much in the vastness and
connectivity of ideas and concepts. Many secular fields have vast libraries of
prior learning. I believe that its uniqueness lies more in the way that older
ideas are more respected, even revered, than newer ideas. Clearly, this is why
our rabbis and scholars must labor mightily to understand Tanach, the Talmud,
and then the Rishonim, Acharonim, etc., before they can be trusted to venture
forth with a new opinion. This is a heavy burden which is not borne in most
secular fields, where older concepts may be studied as history but are most
frequently no longer relevant. The problem is that those with the scholarship to
propose new ideas, are more inclined to dispose of such ideas. It is safer and
easier. But it also results in a scholarship which is barren and self-indulgent.

Bernie R.


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonleb@...>
Date: Thu, May 26,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Modim d'Rabbanan

In response to the question (MJ 60#11) from Lisa Liel <lisa@...>:

I checked various Ashkenazi and Sepharadi siddurim (prayerbooks),
and it seems that this is consistently the Sephardic nusach (version).

Even the Rinat Yisrael siddur, in its Ashkenaz and (Ashkenazic) Sefard
siddurim, has the version Lisa remembers, but in its Eidot-Mizrach (Sephardic)
siddur it has the same version as on the wall copy Lisa noted.


From: Tony Fiorino <tfiorino@...>
Date: Thu, May 26,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Modim d'Rabbanan

Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...> wrote (MJ 60#12):

> Lisa Liel asked (MJ 60#11) the following interesting question:
>> My question is this.  Every siddur I've ever seen says:
>> "...al she'hecheyitanuv'kiyamtanu, ken t'chayenu u-tekaymanu..."
>> ("...because You have kept us in life and kept us going, may You keep
>> us in life and keep us going...").
>> But this wall copy says
>> "...al she'hecheyitanu v'kiyamtanu, ken t'chonenu u-tekaymanu..."
>> ("...because You have kept us in life and kept us going, may You be
>> gracious to us and keep us going...").
> I suspected upon reading the question that this a known variant reading.
> Indeed if you look Tefilot Siddur, Lisbon ~1490 Eliezer Toledano (set 1) frame
> page 40 (set 3) frame page 15 of the book at the National Library in
> Jerusalem, the reading of the text is:
> "...al she'hecheyitanu v'kiyamtanu, ken t'chayenu u-t'chonenu v-te'esof
> le-chatzrot kodshech...."

The Italian nusach reads similarly "ken t'chayenu u-t'chonenu v-te'esof
galuyotenu me-arba kanfot haaretz"



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, May 26,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Pictures of women

Of concern to me was that the picture was distributed by the White House
with specific instructions that it NOT be modified in any form -- this is an
issue of law.  Someone choosing to publish the picture had a simple choice:
take it, or leave it!

To doctor the photo is a violation of the usage license granted by the

Note:  I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on the radio.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 29,2011 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Segulot and Yeshuot

I recently received the following  e-mail that quotes a rav [identity
unknown to me] who offers a list of time tested segulot straight from the
pages of the Torah, Talmud and Rishonim:

1. Segulah for recovery from illness  go to a doctor [Berachot 60a, Bava
Kamma 46b)
2. Segulah for longevity  lead a healthy lifestyle (Rambam, Deot 4:20)
3. Segulah for marriage  look for a suitable wife (Kiddushin 2b)
4. Segulah for shalom bayit  love and forebearance (Sanhedrin 7a, Bava
Metzia 59a)
5. Segulah for children  prayer to Hashem (Shmuel I 1)
6. Segulah for yirat Shamayim  learning (Avot 2:5)
7. Segulah for spirituality  learning and mitzvah observance (Megillah 6b)
8. Segulah for kavanna in prayer  take it seriously (Berachot 5:1)
9. Segulah for pure faith  dont believe in segulot (Devarim 18:13)
I would add the following two:
10. Segulah for honest paranasa  learn a profession (Kiddushin 30a)
11. Segulah to prevent drowning  learn how to swim (ibid.)

In view of the current plethora of advertising campaigns offering prayers by
Gedolim at various holy sites in Israel and abroad, suggesting that health,
wealth, zivugim and/or children or a yeshuah are but a phone call and credit
card payment away, maybe this will open a thread for members of mail-jewish
to discuss this phenomenon.

Martin Stern


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Fri, May 27,2011 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Shalom Zachor

In MJ 60#11, Chana Luntz wrote:

> I can tell you that as the mother of a newborn son, I was extremely
> relieved to discover that my husband's (Sephardi) minhag was not to have
> a shalom zachor.

I rarely go, unless it is in my building, or if I know that hardly anyone 
would show up.  Once it was on a rainy night, once on Shabbat after a 
Friday Purim, and once on Shabbat after 2 days of Rosh Hashana, on the 8th 
floor, by some new Russian family. In all these cases, the houses were 
empty. Otherwise, I feel it is a waste of time, and as Chana stated, a 
bother for the mother, baby, helping grandmother and other siblings.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, May 26,2011 at 09:01 PM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

Immanuel Burton asked (MJ 60#11):

> I recently read on the BBC's news site that the South Pacific nation 
> of Samoa will be switching to the west side of the international date 
> line on 29 December 2011.  Samoa will go straight from Thursday 29 
> December to Saturday.

> I don't know if there is a Jewish community on Samoa, but if one is 
> there when the change is made, will one have to observe Shabbos on 
> Sunday?  Is this any different from crossing the date line in the 
> course of travel?

I found the following map that shows the various halachic opinions:


I heard, many years ago, a shiur on the subject, and, if I remember 
correctly, the opinions on the map are based on early authorities
such as R. Yehuda Halevi (Sepher haKuzari), Baal HaMaor and others. I 
reminded myself by looking at the wikipedia article:


and also was helped by google maps.

Unlike the civil International Date Line which is a zigzag based on 180 
degrees longitude from Greenwich in the UK, the halachic date line (according to 
all opinions) must be a straight longitude from North to 
South.  To simplify my explanations, I have tried to translate 
longitudes in the west (or negative longitudes) to a number:
<n> degrees east of the 180 degree Greenwich longitude (=180+<n>  
degrees east from Greenwich).

 From what I see from the star-k.org time zones map:

- Line A is the longitude of Yerushalayim [Jerusalem]

- Line E at 180 degrees of Yerushalayim is the opinion of the author of 
Gesher HaChayim (R. Yechiel Michal Tuketinsky). This passes through 
Alaska. This is 35.2 degrees east of the 180 degree Greenwich longitude 
(=215.2  degrees east from Greenwich).

- Line D - opinion of Atzei Hasadeh is based on the idea that the 
halachic date line should not pass through any dry land area and thus is a 
longitude that is drawn at a perpendicular tangent to the most eastern 
coast of Russia. (This is approx 25 degrees west of the longitude of the 
Gesher HaChayim). This is pretty close to the civil International Date 
Line and is only 10.3 degrees east of the 180 degrees longitude from 
Greenwich (= 190.3 degrees east from Greenwich).

- Line C that zigzags is the civil International Date Line. For almost 
all of the Atzei Hasadeh line, it is west thereof, and for a relatively 
short distance it zigzags to the east thereof.

- Line B at 90 degrees east of Yerushalayim is the Chazon Ish opinion - 
based, I think, on a literal understanding of a gemara - might be 
followed by some in New Zealand as a stringency to refrain from melacha 
[activities not allowed on Shabbat] on what is locally called Sunday in 
addition to normal (other opinions) Shabbat. Those who follow this 
stringency just do so on the negative plane, so no kiddush is said, 
weekday prayers are said, and tephillin are put on. I do not know whether 
the prohibition of melacha is just melacha d'oraita or a blanket 
prohibition. Are there people in the New Zealand community today who 
follow this stringency to any extent? With regards to this stringency of New
Zealand - if I remember correctly - it does not apply in any of Australia,
including the east coast, because the whole of the continent should defer after
the west coast which is within the Chazon Ish criteria, i.e. 90 degrees east
from Jerusalem.

To our island, Samoa, on its east tip, is 7.2 degrees east of the 180 degree
Greenwich longitude (=187.2 degrees east from Greenwich); is 2.1 degrees west
of line D (opinion of Atzei Hasadeh); and is well west of line E (Gesher 

As Samoa is currently on the east side of the International Date Line, 
Saturday is currently the same sort of time as Saturday in the USA 
but not as in Australia or New Zealand. If (i.e. hypothetically) there is a 
Jewish community on Samoa, and they keep Shabbat on the natives' 
Saturday (before the days are changed as is planned for end of 2011), 
then they are following the opinion of the Chazon Ish in its fullest 
way, but not according to the other opinions. If they keep Shabbat on 
Friday, then they keep Shabbat in line (pun intended) with New Zealand 
and Australia and what seems to be the normative opinion. Those who want 
to take into account the Chazon Ish would also not do melacha on 
Saturday, but would still put on tephillin etc.

Assuming they keep Shabbat on Friday, according to the normative 
halachic opinion, as applies to them:

The day after Thursday 29 December will be Saturday, and the Jewish community
(if such exists) will keep Shabbat on that Thursday night and Saturday, and will
be keeping on the same civil day of the week as New Zealand thereafter.

If, for whatever reason, they kept Shabbat just on Saturday which is 
according to the Chazon Ish date-line:

Then the question would be, are they allowed to change to the normative 
halachic opinion. Maybe it is a "lost in the desert" scenario where a 
person forgets which day Shabbat is, and so has to continue to keep 
Shabbat according to his counting as well as that of the rest of the world. If 
so, maybe, when the date-line is changed, there is more reason for the 
community to also keep Shabbat on Sunday, similar to the Chazon Ish 
people in New Zealand.

Another and different (perhaps hypothetical) question is, let us say, 
an island that is a little bit east of line D (opinion of Atzei Hasadeh) 
but well west of line E (Gesher HaChayim). I will call it H and say it's 3 
degrees east of the 180 degree Greenwich longitude (=183 degrees east 
from Greenwich). This longitude is west of Alaska, whose west coast 
reaches 27 degrees east of the 180 degree Greenwich longitude (=207 
degrees east from Greenwich).

My question is, if a Jewish community were to be founded on island H, 
would this have an effect on the definition of the date-line of the 
Atzei Hasadeh?

To explain the question further - would Atzei Hasadeh redraw the 
halachic line another 3 degrees east as land masses seem to be an 
important issue in his shitta [analysis] and would he use the reasoning 
that although H - together with all the other islands - when compared to 
the European/Asian Continent, was insignificant when there was no Jewish 
community there, because there is now a community on the island, things 
are different and the date-line has to be shifted to take into account 
the community?

I assume that such a question makes sense only if it is an island whose 
longitude is west of Alaska. Otherwise we meet continent America, whose 
date is halachicly well defined.

Can the political or social affinity of the government of island H (is it
to America on its East or Asia on its West?) have an effect on the 
Jewish community of H and thus determine which day Shabbat is kept by 
the community? Can changes in political or social affinities have any 
ramifications with regards to an existing Jewish community and Shabbat?

Yet another question:
Is there (or was there ever) a Jewish community in any of the islands of 
Hawaii, and if so when do they keep Shabbat? What opinion do they follow?

Thank you for bearing with me on this. I hope there are no flaws in my 
logic when trying to present the questions. If there are, I am happy to be 
told (if a real blunder, please tell me privately and I will submit a 
correction myself), and if I need to explain some of my questions 
further, also please let me know. Hoping that I give at least one 
satisfactory answer to Immanuel Burton, who I am CCing. He is welcome to 
forward this, and I would be happy to be CCed on any private discussion 
that takes place even if it is before the posting is published.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Fri, May 27,2011 at 05:01 AM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

I remember reading that this happened in the Phillppines. When the Westerners
first came there, they used their day reckoning. Later on, the day was changed
to tally with the Asian day.

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, May 27,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

In M-J V60#12, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote:
> One should preferably not depart Sydney on Sunday as, according to the
> Chazon Ish, it is Shabbos shortly after take-off, when the plane
> begins flying northeast over the Pacific Ocean. If one flew on Sunday,
> one should not do any melacha d'oraisa until nightfall. It is
> preferable that one should not depart from Australia (to fly east
> toward America) on Friday. L'maaseh, if one departs on Friday, one
> must keep Shabbos from before sunset until crossing 144.8W longitude,
> when it is Friday again according the all opinions, including the
> Gesher Chaim.
My son, recently on a business trip to Australia, left for home eastbound on 
Sunday afternoon. He was aware that they would cross the dateline shortly after 
takeoff, and that it would become Saturday afternoon. He was prepared to avoid 
any melacha for the hour or two until nightfall (which primarily would mean 
avoiding use of the lavatory with its electric door switch, etc.), but wondered 
if he would be expected to daven Shabbat Mincha and Maariv again. My opinion was 
yes, based on the following reasoning: It is by now well-established that one 
observes Shabbat on the day that the local community does so. As a practical 
matter this has negated the whole idea of a halachic dateline which differs from 
the international dateline, since AFAIK there is no community on Earth which 
observes Shabbat on any day other than the secular Saturday. Thus, having been 
made aware by an announcement from the cockpit that the dateline has been 
crossed, you are obliged to accept the arrival of Shabbat, and its imminent 
departure. You should daven the Shabbat mincha/maariv, and make havdala again, 
obviously without a candle. The next morning the shir-shel-yom is Yom Rishone, 
even though you just did all of this just about 24 hours earlier. Since you 
neither board or unboard the vehicle on Shabbat, there should be no objection to 
this schedule.

With regard to Samoa, which proposes to switch sides of the 
dateline on Thursday December 29 this year, which would instantly make it Friday 
December 30. If it is to be done just before midnight, then Jews on Samoa (if 
there are any) would probably decide to make Shabbat on the "new" Saturday 
afternoon. Normally, we might expect that thereafter Shabbat would be observed 
on the new Friday night and Saturday, and Samoans would have a shortened week, 
just as westbound travelers experience. This case is complicated, however, by 
the fact that American Samoa, just to the east of Samoa, is staying on the east 
side of the dateline. This might be the exception to the rule, however, so that 
Jews on both islands could observe Shabbat on the same day, Saturday in American 
Samoa and Sunday in Samoa!Oy--Bernie R.


End of Volume 60 Issue 13