Volume 64 Number 03 
      Produced: Sun, 07 Oct 18 09:24:42 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Fair wages 
    [Joel Rich]
Holidays cancelling shiva and shloshim 
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
Meaning of g'zeira 
    [Elihu Turkel]
Perfume on Yom Kippur 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Secular ethics? 
    [Joel Rich]
Set aside established practice (3)
    [Yisrael Medad   Leah Gordon  Martin Stern]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 6,2018 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Fair wages

The Gemara (Bava Metziah 83b) discusses what hours a worker gets paid for based
on the Torah "standard." The Gemara asks why one should not just find out what
local practice is. 

The first answer is it's a case of a new city which was 'nkutai'. Rashi defines
nkutai as meaning its residents came from many other cities, with varying practices.

Question: In establishing new city practices, should there be a preference for
the Torah "standard" or did the Torah only set a standard for default situations
but really doesn't see it as a paradigm or care what we do?

Joel Rich


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 18,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Holidays cancelling shiva and shloshim

Why do holidays cancel shiva and shloshim? Why not resume shiva when the holiday
is over?

Gmar chatima tova,
Stuart Pilichowski

Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Elihu Turkel <ETurkel@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 28,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Meaning of g'zeira

Perets Mett wrote (MJ 64#02):

>Eric Mack wrote (MJ 63#99):
>> As a kohen, I've been duchening [reciting the Priestly Benediction in front
>> of the congregation] for decades, but the wording of the paragraph we Kohanim
>> recite after Birkat Kohanim and concurrent with the ba'al tefilah's recitation
>> of Sim Shalom just caught my attention this Shabbat ...
>> We say, "Ribbono shel olam, asinu ma she-gazarta aleinu [Master of the world,
>> we have done what you decreed upon us]" ...
>> Does a g'zera [decree] from HaShem not usually have negative implications? If
>> so, why is that word, in verb form, used regarding our Priestly requirement?

> I understand this to acknowledge the challenge kohainim can face fulfilling 
> this mitzvah, since it requires that they bless even those among klal Yisroel 
> they may not personally like all that much.

We see Talmudic uses of "G'zera" that are based on its meaning of a "decree"
that is not necessarily "bad" such as "G'Zeras Hakasuv" and "G'zera Shava". The
commonality seems to be a directive that is not driven by human logic (such as a
Kal Vachomer). Perets' point regarding Birkas Cohanim being a directive despite
conflicted relationships may be in line with this.

ELIHU Turkel
Kew Gardens Hills, New York


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 15,2018 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Perfume on Yom Kippur

I always forget to send this inquiry in a timely manner.

Today - Shabbos Shuva -- a guest walked into the Women's section wearing
perfume. My wife moved, coughing, to the other side of the room -- but to little
avail -- and lost her voice (It was still raspy at lunch when when she related
this to me.)

I've asked congregational Rabbi's before -- and most prefer not to deal with
this -- but is there any prohibition re: perfume on Yom Kippur?

Carl A. Singer


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 15,2018 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Secular ethics?

As part of my continuing search for understanding why an atheist might feel
bound to ethics, I read an interesting book, "Finding Purpose in a Godless
World; Why We Care Even if the Universe Doesn't" (Ralph Lewis, MD).

How can you not love a book that quotes Ozymandis, the introduction to the Stone
Chumash, R'W Goldstein and includes the quote, "We were also members of a
synagogue community at that time - and orthodox one at that. (This seeming
contradiction between non-belief and religious community affiliation is not
unusual among Jews)"?

Interestingly, it was his wife's cancer (and recovery) which pushed the author
from agnosticism to atheism! The book's thesis is: 

1.) Humans find patterns where they don't exist and this historically caused
people ("religious" or not) to believe in a purposeful universe, 

2.) But now science can explain cosmology and how our brains (minds - it's all
bio) operate. (Fairly good summary of current thinking in these areas). 

3.) We now know (or at least can say it's likely) that all the perceived
directedness (our values and ethics) is not due to a prime mover but are natural
(evolution) development. It's all random! 

4.) Science and religion are diametrically opposed and we can have meaning
without religion - we're significant to each other. 

5.) Our evolution, quest for knowledge, and morality (very Pinkeresque) will
continue forward with some bumps in the road.

So I didn't "like" the book primarily because he never answered the question of
why an individual who didn't "feel" hard wired by evolution or any other
internal drive would have any reason not to do whatever they felt like no matter
what the impact. Has anyone seen a good answer to this question?


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From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 15,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Set aside established practice

Irwin Weiss's recalling the case of a woman being informed she did not need to
tell her husband of a previous child she birthed (MJ 64#02) reminded me of a
Responsum I saw last year (it will take me time to find the exact Rav and source
but I think I snapped a pic) which similarly decided a woman need not inform her
husband of a rape so as not to cause the problems that could be caused.

Yisrael Medad

From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 15,2018 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Set aside established practice

In response to Irwin Weiss (MJ 64#02):

The story he quotes is actually a side plot in a novel in which a woman ends up
having to marry a Cohen (or perhaps a Levi - I think it might be in the Faye
Kellerman series) to avoid being in the pidyon haben "embarrassment situation".
 I'm pretty sure it's apocryphal and morphed into a "story of something that
happened".  Since when do you know women who have out-of-wedlock children and
are in the kind of community that on the one hand wouldn't notice this, and on
the other hand, would pressure them about a pidyon haben?

I hope others on the list noticed its incredible offensiveness:

1. the bizarre inclusion that this couple was "Sephardi" which smacks, to me, of
racism and othering in the story of sex and violence,

2. the outrageousness that a woman who went to a rabbi in fear of being BEATEN
by her husband, would receive an answer about the pidyon haben and not have a
quickly-facilitated get,

3. the idea that a man would have any kind of say over the sex life of his
wife before she had ever met him.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 17,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Set aside established practice

I wrote (MJ 64#02):

> In response to Stuart Pilichowski (MJ 64#01):
> While there may be situations where the GENERALLY ACCEPTED practice is set
> aside in order not to embarrass someone in PUBLIC, it usually only involves
> relying on a minority opinion that is normally not followed and then only in
> the case of a derabbanan [a rabbinic mitzvah]. This would probably rely on
> the principle of safeik derabbanan lekula [follow lenient rulings in
> rabbinic mitzvot].
> I don't think it is ever done when the point at issue is COMPLETELY private
> or, for that matter, when it concerns de'oraita [Torah law].

Today we were learning the section of Menachot 37b-38a discussing setting
aside a mitzvah because of kavod haberiot [human dignity]. Basically it is
the source for so-doing and confirms more or less what I had written. I
apologise for not remembering it when I wrote previously but sometimes one's
memory becomes a bit hazy after seven and a half years.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 3