Volume 64 Number 80 
      Produced: Thu, 10 Sep 20 09:13:46 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Action or results? 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Directed donations 
    [Joel Rich]
Kosher as a 'trademark' 
    [Martin Stern]
Rambam: Hilchot Talmud Torah (2)
    [Sammy Finkelman]
    [Joel Rich]
    [David Tzohar]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 30,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Action or results?

Joel Rich wrote (MMJ 64#75):

> Here is a conundrum in theodicy:
> There are four identical quadruplet brothers: Robert, Simon, Larry and Judah.
> Robert, Larry and Simon are all asymptomatic carriers of the corona virus but
> Judah is not. 
> The local secular law and, also, the rabbinic authorities require wearing a 
> mask when going out in public but none of them do. The four brothers are not 
> clearly identifiable as orthodox Jews when seen but are so known by the public.
> They all go outside to identical public events where their identities are not
> known. Robert infects a number of people but he's never identified as the source
> of the infection. Larry infects a number of people and is identified as a source
> of infection in the media. Judah never infects anybody and neither does Simon.
> What shows up on each brothers' 'permanent record cards' in shamayim? Is it
> multidimensional?

I don't know how to begin to answer Joel's question because he doesn't give us
enough information. Were they following social distancing rules? Were they
following the rules set by the government authorities and / or those set by
their local rabbis? Did they have any reason to know that they were infected and
thus could infect others?

Without such extra information, the problem is insoluble.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 8,2020 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Directed donations

Question: Someone I know got concerning a contribution: Do you want your
donation to the shul to be   .........

Response: I'd go with anonymous and pray that HKBH directs his accountant to
allocate it to where it's most needed. As a matter fact maybe that should be the


Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 21,2020 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Kosher as a 'trademark'

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 64#79):

> In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#78):
> To grossly oversimplify: We can look at commonalities or we can look at
> differences.
> And/or we can attach labels to include/exclude other individuals or groups.

Of course Carl is quite right but the problem is that there are 'rogues' who see
kashrut as a commercial enterprise and are willing to let their profit motive to
take precedence over kashrut. This was the situation 150 years ago where
well-meaning people were fooled into buying 'kosher' products that were anything
but kosher. Things have improved in the last 70 years but there is still need
for some regulation.

The problem is how to define one's terms so as not too exclude those who could
reasonably be included, while drawing the public's attention to those who were
misleading it, and that was to what I was drawing attention.

A further problem, specific to kashrut, is that there are many points on which
the various licensing bodies disagree and it would be helpful if a database
could be constructed showing precisely what each one one allows / forbids so
that the consumer could know what any particular hechsher actually implies.

Unfortunately, there has been a growing tendency to 'suspect' people or
movements of 'heresy' over the last 250 years or so. This was initially in
response to the collapse of the Shabbetai Tzvi movement or, perhaps more
accurately, the suspicion that it had gone underground and was a threat to the
Jewish community. There may have been some grounds for this but, probably, it
was exaggerated in most cases though the Frankist movement showed that there was
some basis for it. Much of the antagonism to the Hassidic movement was rooted in
these fears which shows how deep the paranoia ran.

Though crypto-Sabbatianism was probably dying out by the end of the eighteenth
century, its sympathisers, as Gershom Scholem pointed out, gravitated to the
Reform movement which was growing concurrently. Thus the suspicion of those on
the traditional wing transferred naturally to it and, by extension, to any
modernising movement. The result was the present-day situation where some
hechsherim are treated as suspect even where their bona fides is not really in

Perhaps, if each hechsher indicated its underlying philosophy, either
guaranteeing minimal (bedieved) kashrut or a more stringent level, but at a
higher cost to the consumer, this might work. Having two clearly distinctive
hechsherim from each certifying body (e.g. Yerushalayim BD ordinary / mehadrin)
where one can easily find out precisely what the 'higher level' implied, with
some 'neutral' register available for reference, might help provided 'politics'
can be kept out.

I am doubtful, however, if this trend can be reversed - there will always be an
element of kosher one-upmanship with the converse of looking down at those who
are happy with less stringent standards. And, conversely, the latter hold the
former in 'contempt' for wanting a 'more than necessary' level of kashrut since
"so and so paskens such and such is permissible" and not accepting this is an
'insult' to him.

Martin Stern


From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 21,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Rambam: Hilchot Talmud Torah 

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#79):

> I am collecting answers to the question as to why the Rambam chose to open
> Hilchot Talmud Torah with those who are NOT subject to the laws of Talmud
> Torah.
> Any contributions appreciated :-)

I assumed it was the same reason that so many emails begin with, "This
information is for xyz.  Those who do not need to worry about xyz can stop
reading now."  :)


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 28,2020 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Rambam: Hilchot Talmud Torah

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 64#79):

Maybe for the same reason the Torah lists non-kosher birds - the list is shorter
and more comprehensible that way,


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 7,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Selichot

Anyone know why R' Moshe in O"C 2:105 didn't suggest pre-shacharit selichot
rather than 10 pm selichot as a stand in for chatzot (midnight) selichot on the
first night of selichot when there was a clear and present danger?

Joel Rich


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 10,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Venishmartem

Gdol HaDor haLitai, R'Kanyevsky SHLiTa has taken much flak for his psak that
talmidei Yeshiva should not take covid tests since if they test positive the
government might close the Yeshivas. It seems that this contradicts the
principle of DiNa D"Malchuta Dina (extensively discussed on this list). Those
close to R'Kanyevsky say that he believes that the "Gzeirot" of the health
ministry target Torah institutions and therefore should be ignored even if they
were "GZeiRos Malchus YiSRoEL MaMash"(implying that the secular Israeli
government is not "Malchus".

But what about the MiTZVaT ASEIH of "VeNiSHMaRTeM MeOD LeNaFSHoTeiCHeM? [be very
careful to guard your lives] (interpreted as allowing prohibited practices to
save lives). Here the Rav seems to be counting on "Herd Immunity" ie since most
of the Charedi population was exposed to the virus in the first wave - between
Purim and Pesach (resulting in hundreds of fatalities including several leading
rabbanim), they are now protected by the antibodies of the virus that they were
exposed to and cannot be re-infected. This is also claimed by the Chassidic
community in Boro Park as their excuse for not complying with regulations. This
of course is not a halachic dispute but a dispute "BeMeTZiUT" among
epidemiologists. But even if one Jew dies as a result of ignoring the
regulations is this not an AVeiRaH??

R'Asher Weiss, also considered "MiGeDoLei HaDor, published an extensive
response. Without dealing directly with "DiNa DeMaLCHuTa" He brings many sources
from the gemara, rishonim and acharonim which deal with what is required of the
Jewish community in times of MaGeiFaH [pestilence] or as we call it today
pandemic. Almost all of these sources emphasize social distancing including
banning public prayer and learning if deemed necessary by the leaders of the
community (in our case in Israel the chief Rabbinate). This is the majority
opinion of halacha and therefore Rav Weiss disagrees with Rav Kanyevsky and is
in favor of compliance with the authorities.

He does however bring one dissenting opinion. The Magen Avraham paskened that
the question of VeNiSHMaRTeM is relevant only where it is a case of SFeK
SaKKaNat NeFaSHot [possibility of mortal danger]. However if the statistical
chance of the victim dying from the plague is less than one in one thousand he
is not considered in possible mortal danger and therefore it is forbidden to
desecrate shabbat for him or abrogate any Torah law for him.

I am not an expert but IMHO from what I have heard from the health authorities
the chances of a healthy person under the age of 80 dying from covid 19 is
definitely less than one in a thousand even among those in the general
population who tested positively for the virus (more than 80% of the 1,000
fatalities were those with serious existing medical issues or are above the age
of 82!). Therefore it seems that a Rav with the authority of Rav Kanyevsky can
base his view on the psak of the Magen Avraham. But again this is really not a
halachic dispute but a medical one. Therefore IMHO we must go according to the
view of the vast majority of epidemiological experts and comply with the
restrictions of the authorities. This is the psak of the chief Rabbinate
"LeHaTZiL AFiLU NeFeSH ECHaD M'YiSRAEL - to save even one soul of Israel.

May you all BS"D have a happy and healthy new year.

R'David Yitzchak Tzohar
Machon Meir,



End of Volume 64 Issue 80