Volume 64 Number 99 
      Produced: Tue, 13 Jul 21 20:07:46 +0000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Moderating team]
    [Joel Rich]
Jewish law has evolved 
    [Ben Katz, M.D.]
The extra phrases in the big kaddish of nusach ashkenaz 
    [David Ziants]
Whose Pikuach Nefesh? 
    [Joel Rich]


From: Moderating team
Date: Tue, Jul 13,2021 at 04:01 PM
Subject:  Problem?

Very few submissions have come since April which is why we have not sent out
any digests. It has been suggested that there is a fault on
<mj@...> which might be responsible, so we suggest that you use
<mj@...> in future.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 15,2021 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Chimeras

In the latest advance, researchers in the U.S. and China announced earlier this
month that they made embryos that combined human and monkey cells for the first
time. So far, these human-monkey chimeras (pronounced ky-meer-uhs) are no more
than bundles of budding cells in a lab dish, but the implications are
far-reaching, ethics experts say.

And what will halacha say?

Joel Rich


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 21,2021 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Jewish law has evolved

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#98):  
> In response to a letter to the editor:
>> Although abortion is not necessarily considered to be an act of murder, it is
>> nonetheless prohibited in accordance with Halakha (Jewish law). The statement
>> that, "Jewish law has evolved and continues to do so," is incorrect, as well.
>> Any modern ruling is based on our teachings that go back to our receiving the
>> Torah at Mount Sinai. The laws that we follow are G-d given and not something
>> that the Jewish people came up with in their 40 years in the desert. The 
>> author clearly has no grasp on our true heritage and unfortunately feels 
>> that she can opine in an area where she has no expertise.
> I can't know the grasp that anyone has but to say 'The correctness of the
> statement that, "Jewish law has evolved and continues to do so," is 
> incorrect', requires a bit of logic (e.g. 'evolved' means 'evolved in a way 
> not reflective of prior precedent and changes in facts on the ground') that 
> might not be obvious to the average reader.

Jewish law definitely evolves, as I have stated many times on MJ.  My joke about
Orthodoxy is that it has to evolve too slowly for anyone to notice!

Here are just a few examples:

1. Baring one's shoulder during mourning was prescribed in Talmudic times; no
one does this today.

2. Time of starting shabbat.  It is clear many communities started shabbat later
than we do today.  See Marc Shapiro's book Changing the Immutable for examples
of halachic texts that were edited to eliminate this change in practice.

3. Turning one's back to the synagogue is explicitly prohibited in the Talmud
and yet we all do it today at the final paragraph of Lecha Dodi.

4. Piyutim inserted into davening after the time of the Talmud.  (I know that
not everyone says these, but huge numbers of communities do.)


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 25,2021 at 05:01 AM
Subject: The extra phrases in the big kaddish of nusach ashkenaz

Last Shabbat I was privileged in making a siyum mesechta somewhere and a friend,
who is a talmid chacham, was there being a natural member of the group with
which I was with. I daven nusach ashkenaz, so when saying the long kaddish
(reserved for the mourners after a burial and after a siyum), I didn't add the
phrase "v'yatzmach poorkanai v'karaiv m'shishai" which, in my text of this, is in 

My friend, who doesn't like the nusach sepharad of the chassidim (which is often
used in the dati le'umi [= national religious] shuls in Israel), as he feels
this is a "made up" nusach, came up to me afterwards and said that I
specifically should have added this phrase for the "big" kaddish.

His rational is (and I hope I understood him correctly), that the only source of
this special kaddish is Machzor Vitri (12th and 13th century), and in this
original text, the (what we perceive as extra) phrase is there among the other
phrases we don't see in any of the day-to-day kaddish types. See for an
explanation on Machzor Vitri:-


Any thoughts?

David Ziants


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, May 19,2021 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Whose Pikuach Nefesh?

>From a Hamodia interview - to me it speaks volumes that a quote could not be
made bsheim omro: 

'I spoke with the head of a major chinuch organization in Boro Park, who
explained to me: "Do you think we were kalei daas - lightheaded - about the
inyan of pikuach nefesh? We understood exactly what we were dealing with and
decided that the possible downside of not living life normally far outweighed
opening up." '

(Me-I don't recall being asked about the downside for me of your doing that?)

How does halacha take the impact on others into account?

Joel Rich


End of Volume 64 Issue 99