Volume 61 Number 39 
      Produced: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 12:41:16 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chumra culture (and its consequences) 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Simpler piyutim? 
    [Stuart Wise]
The latest chumra? (3)
    [Stephen Phillips  Harlan Braude  David Tzohar]
Whose baby is it? (4)
    [Name withheld by special request Carl Singer  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Martin Stern]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Chumra culture (and its consequences)

Tangentially, in David Assaf's new book, Hetzitz v'Nifga [He Peeked and Was
Harmed] on the Sanz-Sadigora Dispute, he notes that one of the reasons for the
Sanzer Rebbe, known as the Divrei Chayim, placing a cherem in 1869 on another
Hassidic court, which reportedly led to murders, beatings, burning of synagogues,
disenfranchisement from work, divorces, estrangement between parents and
children and other assorted behavior resulting from overboard chumrot
[stringencies] on the Friedman brothers, was that the Friedman wives and
daughters, supposedly, went out in the latest fashion of the hoop-skirt.

The problem?  That situation could lead to a man touching a woman in her
unclean state of niddah [menstruation period] by brushing up against the
dress.  I checked and they could be as wide as 18 feet (5 metres).

Although some people may think that the only person affected by a woman's
state of niddah is the husband who needs avoid contact with his wife until
she has performed ritual ablutions by immersing in a mikveh and that as
far as any other man is concerned, contact is either forbidden or not, and
is based on the avoidance of a possible developing emotional/sexual
relationship (as per the discussion regarding Rabbi Neustadt's comments on
shaking hands) and quite separate from any niddah concerns, the point I am
making is what can develop from chumrot, the particular trait of over-stringency.

Yisrael Medad


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Simpler piyutim?

As we have completed two weeks of Selichos, I must admit that I do not  
understand much of what I said. It makes me wonder whether people in the era  
when the selichos were composed were so learned in lashon Ha-kodesh that the  
tefilos held meaning for them. Some of the grammar is quite complex as is 
the vocabulary.  It may be poetic and beautiful but for whom does that have  
meaning other than lovers of literature.  Would it not have been better to  
compose simpler piyutim?
In addition, what is the source that the more you say the better? Yeshivos  
tend to limit selichos to a few, recited with great concentration.  I have  
no problem rising early for selichos, but other than feeling accomplished 
for having completed the extensive texts from before Rosh Hashanah, I can't 
say that I feel inspired other than by the few I can understand or which 
the  congregation says together.
G'mar chasimah tovah.
Stuart Wise


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The latest chumra?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#38):

> On Shabbat I went to a barmitzvah kiddush and noticed that the sushi was
> labelled "Milky". As I was intrigued, I asked the caterer what she put into it.
> She replied that it was not really milky only that it contained fish and she
> wanted to warn those present who had eaten the meaty cholent to avoid it. While
> I am aware that the Gemara warns against cooking meat and fish together because
> of "danger" and some people are careful not to have them >on the same plate (a
> big chumra in my opinion) there is, as far as I know, no requirement to abstain
> from fish after eating meat. In fact I have a copy of the menu of the chassunah
> seudah in 1898 of my wife's grandparents, Rabbi >Dr Emanuel Carlebach (later
> Rav of the Adass Yeshurun austrit community of Cologne and a founder member of
> the Agudah) and Minna Joel, the granddaughter of his father's predecessor as
> Rav of Lubeck, at which the fish >course was served after the chicken and
> asparagus soup and the veal in mushroom sauce.
> Are some people just ill-informed or do they really think fish is milky?

They are merely ignorant. Furthermore, there are many who also won't eat fish
and milk together, so the sign is doubly misleading.

Stephen Phillips

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The latest chumra?

In Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#38):

> there is, as far as I know, no requirement to abstain from fish after 
> eating meat. In fact I have a copy of the menu of the chassunah seudah in 1898 
> of my  wife's grandparents, [...] at which the fish course was served after the 
> chicken and asparagus soup and the veal in mushroom sauce.

But, the menu doesn't indicate what occurred between courses. That could 
have included a shot of whiskey and a half hour on the dance floor.

Those two factors could explain the false syllogism in light of the menu.

BTW, isn't there something wonderfully ironic in 'menu' serving as a 
metaphor for Shulchan Aruch in an inanely literal sense of the words? :-)

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 25,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The latest chumra?

The Sefaradim also have the chumra of not eating fish together with milk. I
asked my sefardi son-in-law about this and he said that there is no source for
this chumra in the Shas or Rishonim. He was told that the chumra probably came
from a textual printing error (called in Yiddish "a bochur a zetzer"). Even so, no
one is willing to permit the chumra. No lox with cream cheese for Sefardim!

Gmar chatima tova leculam.
David Tzohar


From: Name withheld by special request
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Whose baby is it?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#38):

> *Two Swedish women are carrying the wombs of their mothers after the
> world's first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.  Specialists at the
> University of Gothenburg completed the surgery over the weekend without
> complications.  They were waiting until the women get pregnant to consider
> the procedures a success, they said. Michael Olausson, one of the Swedish
> surgeons, told the Associated Press: "That's the best proof."*
> Halachically-speaking, is the baby's mother the woman giving birth or the
> donor whose uterus developed the fetus?

About ten years ago, one of my closest Christian female friends was in a
terrible accident and recovered - but she had many complications including
a hysterectomy.  She and her husband had wanted another child.  I asked a
Rav about the possibility of being a surrogate to carry her baby.

Apparently, at least by my LOR's interpretation, the halakha holds that the
woman who carries the baby [regardless of whose original uterus, egg, etc.]
is the Jewish mother.  I was advised that I would end up bearing a Jewish
baby with unacknowledged kin (i.e. my own descendents) and that it would be
really not a good idea for several religious/cultural Jewish reasons.  The
only problem it would NOT have caused is anything related to paternity,
because the egg would already have been fertilized with my friend's
non-Jewish husband's sperm.

I'm intrigued by this Swedish case for scientific reasons, but I was under
the impression that the halakha holds that maternity is determined by whoever
carries the baby.

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Whose baby is it?

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 61#38):

Scientific advances certainly outstrip the existing corpus of halachic
opinions.  There is no text that I know of that addresses a uterus transplant.
But then again it is the Aybishter who has endowed mankind with the seychel
[intelligence / wherewithal] to make these advances.

One might conjecture as to issues that result from what we might call the
"uncertainty" of who is the halachic mother.

1 - is the child, if male, a b'chor (likely at issue if daughter is
considered the baby's mother)

2 - Pidyon HaBen -- say either mother or daughter, but not both, are a bas
levi or bas cohen -- IFF a b'chor (obviously)

3 - inheritance

4 - forbidden / permitted relationships

and the list goes on.

One might consider this "angels on a pinhead" -- but science has, or may,
make this a real question for infertile couples.

In any case, one can only wish the parties involved a healthy baby.

Carl Singer

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Whose baby is it?

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 61#38):

I would not consider this the same as a "surrogate mother". This states 
that the women had the uterus grafted in to their bodies. One question 
would be where the eggs came from. If it was only the uterus that was 
implanted, then it is still the eggs of the recipient. Even if the 
ovaries were also implanted, it sounds as if the recipient is getting 
pregnant naturally and not having a fertilized egg implanted.

If this is the case, then I do not see how the uterus donor could be 
considered a "mother" of the resulting infant.

This is not a matter of halacha but of logic.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 24,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Whose baby is it?

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 61#38):

I can't see any reason to consider the womb donor as the mother of any child
born as a rsult of the transplant since the womb only acts as a 'receptacle' in
which the foetus develops. It does not contribute in and of itself but rather in
response during pregnancy to the body in which it is now located. At most we
have a zeh vezeh gorem [multiple causes -- Mod.] situation but even that is rather 
farfetched. Probably the way to look at it is as if the womb has been 'absorbed' 
into the body of the woman like any other transplant.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 39