Volume 63 Number 68 
      Produced: Sun, 28 Jan 18 11:41:24 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A minor change to our procedures 
    [Moderating team]
Birchat Cohanim 
    [Joel Rich]
    [Joel Rich]
Brisker Methodology 
    [Joel Rich]
Calendar/Chanukah oddity (2)
    [Susan Buxfield  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
    [Joel Rich]
Conflict of Interest 
    [Joel Rich]
Going to shul when not feeling well. 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Horses in Biblical Times 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Neural networks and halacha 
    [Joel Rich]
Psak recognizing human nature? 
    [Joel Rich]
Telling the truth 
    [Joel Rich]
Was Rav Soloveichic "Orthoprax"? 
    [David Tzohar]
Zemanim (4)
    [Yisrael Medad   Perets Mett  Dr. William Gewirtz  Perry Zamek]


From: Moderating team
Date: Wed, Dec 27,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject:  A minor change to our procedures

We wrote (MJ 63#67):

> 2. Those not happy with any changes are asked to reply with a message such
> as:
> "I am not happy with the changes made  please delete this submission"

Just a point of clarification ... please do *not* reply to the approval message
unless you are approving the message.  The system will ignore any text that you
send in the reply.

Instead, send a *new* message with any comments you may have, referencing the
non-approved message.  Any message on the approval queue to which you do not
reply within 10 days will be removed.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 31,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Birchat Cohanim

If one is in Eretz Yisrael and davens shacharit in a minyan which often does not
have any Cohanim present to duchen.

Is he required to seek a minyan which has Cohanim? If it is optional, but not
required, is it preferable to do so?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 19,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Blame 

In my "other" world, I noted quite a few folks whose first reaction to a problem
was to find someone (or something) to blame it on. I tried to encourage my
teammates to first find a fix, there's always plenty of time later to apportion
blame! Please look at the Yosef story in this context and share your thoughts on
all the players' reactions

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 12,2018 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Brisker Methodology

I'd welcome some feedback on some Brisker methodology thoughts. Brisker
dialectics sometimes seem to me like Newtonian physics (more Boolean in nature -
there are 2 dinim [two explanations] and it's 100% one or 100% the other), which
explains a lot, but not all, the data. I wonder if a more quantum mechanics,
less Boolean, approach might explain more (but be much more difficult to prove).

Someone pointed me towards a series in Hebrew.  Is anyone familiar with it?
Fuzzy Logic and Quantum States in Talmudic Reasoning (Hebrew Edition)(Hebrew)
Hardcover - August 19, 2015 by Michael Abraham (Author), Israel Belfer (Author),
& 1 more

Joel Rich


From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 26,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Calendar/Chanukah oddity

Irwin Weiss wrote (63#67):

> Chanukah 6791 will begin on December 13, 3030 (no typo), and Chanukah
> 6792 will begin on (drum roll...) January 1, 3032. That's right; there will 
> be no Chanukah in the civil year 3031!

This is not an oddity but rather the average Hebrew year is slower than the
average Gregorian year by about one day in every 216 years.

Currently Rosh Hashanah can be no earlier than the 5th September and no later
than the 5th October. Thus there are presently Jewish years where Tzom Asarah
BeTevet can fall twice, once, or not at all in the equivalent civil year.

That drift will continue if no changes are instigated so that after the full
Jewish cycle instead of the civil year on Rosh Hashana currently being 3761
years later (ie 5778 - 2017), Rosh Hashana in Jewish year 689,473 will be on 4
Nov in Gregorian year 685,720 (ie only 3753 later)

> I have to check on this, but I am thinking that Chanukah will occur twice in
> 3032.

Yes you are right.

People rioted back in the 1600's when 10 days disappeared from the calendar with
the change from Julian to Gregorian (11 days in the 1700's for some countries)
And even today there are those who think they lost or gained an hour
when changing between standard and daylight saving.

> May Moshiach come bimhera veyamenu



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 26,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Calendar/Chanukah oddity

In response to Irwin Weiss (MJ 63#67):

According to hebcal.com, 25 Kislev 6793 will occur on December 19, 3032 
so you are correct.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 19,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Chazakot

Is anyone aware of any social psychology experiments which would inform on the
current status of chazakot (presumptions) of chazal? (e.g., ein adam choteh v'lo
lo, ein adam meiz panav lifnei bal chovo). [A person won't sin if he personally
receives no benefit, a person doesn't have the gall to deny a loan to the
lender's face.]

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 6,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Conflict of Interest

I recently heard a Rav say that one who is considering retirement should not ask
their local Rav about retiring if they are a major contributor to that Rav's
institutions, due to the concept of noge'a badavar (interested party). I
couldn't help but wonder where one draws the line (i.e., why isn't it always a
case of noge'a badvar in the paid rabbinate model?)

Joel Rich


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 26,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Going to shul when not feeling well.

When someone is not feeling well should they go to shul? I'm not looking for a
response from an infectious disease specialist - although that input would be
important. I'm looking for an halachic response.

Please don't cough or sneeze on or near me.

Carl Singer


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 26,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Horses in Biblical Times

The claim has been made by Sammy Finkelman (MK 63#67) that:

> If you study the whole Tanach very carefully, you will see that ordinary
people in the Middle East
> outside Egypt did not have horses. They had camels, donkeys and other
> animals but not horses, but in Egypt they had horses. Horses were not
> normally allowed to leave Egypt, because they were weapons of war. You
> could write a whole essay on this.
> The situation with horses did not get to be normal until the Second Temple 
> period.

This is not exactly correct.

Horses meant army and military campaigns, true.

Joshua's forces saw them (Joshua 11), Jewish kings were warned not to increase
the amount of horses
they possessed (Deuteronomy 17:16; 1 Samuel 8:11) but Solomon had 12,000
horsemen (1 Kings 4:26). Horses were used by foreign armies  in invasions
of Samaria (1 Kings 20; 2 Kings 6). David captured many (2 Samuel 8) so
they were probably native to Eretz-Yisrael by 1000 BCE at least. Amaztia
was brought to be buried in a convoy of horses (2 Kings 14:18).

Yisrael Medad



From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 4,2018 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Neural networks and halacha

Will neural networks and deep learning be used to develop an A.I. halachic
intuition? If you think not, why not? What about if neural networks be developed
that learn to explain themselves? Any MDs out there who are wrestling with a
similar issue with AI diagnostics?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 12,2018 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Psak recognizing human nature?

Here is an interesting example of psak reflecting human nature - Kohanim don't
leave the duchen before kaddish because of the minhag of saying Yasher Koach
(and thus people won't answer the required kaddish responses). So how is it
decided when to educate and when to have workarounds?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 31,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Telling the truth

Thought experiment: 

As a community, assume we know that we could tell a particular non-truth to our
children and X% would stay frum but if we told them the truth (X - Y)% would
stay frum. At what values of X and Y (if any) would being not truthful be
required and/or preferred?

Joel Rich


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 27,2018 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Was Rav Soloveichic "Orthoprax"?

I recently heard a "Maiseh Rav" which if believable is lashon hara according to
the Chafetz Chaim. On the other hand if it is true it is a powerful "tocheicha"
[indictment] against thousands of the Rov's students.

According to this Maiseh the Rov's wife AH did not wear a kisui rosh [head
covering] and when asked about it he answered "So what should I do - divorce

1- Is the story true?

2- Does it imply that Shlom Bayit trumps Dat Yehudit?

If so "HaROV" was not IMVHO a "Lonely man of Halacha" but rather a VERY lonely
man of Orhopraxy.

David Tzohar
Armon Hanetziv, Jerusalem


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 26,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

Joel Rich (MJ 63#67) is:

> wondering whether this close watch was a subset of a broader need of modern man 
> to have exactitude in life versus living with gray

No. It is a result of technological advances and also the
"looking-over-one's-shoulder-for-a-new-chumra" (stringent rule) syndrome.

Yisrael Medad


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 26,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

I agree wholeheartedly with Joel's sentiments (MJ 63#67):

> As sunrise got later I was at a minyan where the earliest time for tallit was 
> approximately the same as the minyan starting time. I watched as everybody 
> watched their cell phones for the exact time to start from Myzmanim. (Of
> course that website says not to rely on to it to the minute)
> I was wondering whether this close watch was a subset of a broader need of 
> modern man to have exactitude in life versus living with gray. (Sort of a
> desire to be Newtonian in a quantum world) I was also wondering whether the
> advent of the railroad table approach now requires us to halachically follow
> that exactness rather than that the "it looks right to me" approach of Chazal?

What they should do is to start without talis and tfilin until after Rabi
Yishmoel Omer, at which point they could all put on talis and tfilin without
looking at their devices.

This was (and still is) the custom in some communities anyway

Perets Mett

From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 27,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 63#67):

He is making an important observtion. My view, expressed in an article in the
TuMJ, volume 16. is that we must be cautious not to confuse precision with
accuracy. Watches can tell us precisely when a particular moment occurs.
However, is that moment an accurate reflection of what the halakha demands? One
must be careful not to be precisely inaccurate. A few zemanim that are
practiced, unfortunately, can be characterized that way.

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 2,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Zemanim

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 63#67):

Two further instances come to mind:
1. My son-in-law's shule had a list of times for sunrise, quoted with accuracy
to the second. 
2. I have seen advertising for Tefillin that are laser-checked for squareness.     

The first makes tefillat vatikin almost impossible (can you time your tefillah
to start exactly at a particular second AND are you certain that your clock is
accurate to the fraction of a second?), the second appears to be a chumra for
the sake of marketing, rather than leshem shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). 

Are we required to follow this exactness? I suspect not, since it would be a
case of motzi la'az al harishonim [causing denigration to our forebears' practices].
More importantly, the Torah was not given to angels - if Chazal said that a
naked eye check of tefillin was sufficient for testing squareness, then that is
the *halachic* standard, not at the minimum (bedieved) level, but at the
normative level. If we need to defer to computer calculations of sunrise, then
minor algorithmic differences between different programs could (and do) lead to
differences in the zemanim produced, and that means that two individuals may
daven vatikin at two slightly different times, in the very same beit knesset! 

See Rav Melamed's discussion on the time of Vatikin: 


All the best

Perry Zamek  -
Translator and MS-Access Database Developer


End of Volume 63 Issue 68