Volume 65 Number 58 
      Produced: Sun, 17 Jul 22 04:55:30 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (2)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Martin Stern]
Abortion and chemotherapy 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Israelis Living Overseas (was High Price of Housing) 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Side Effects of Abortion Bans (Was: Abortion) 
    [Leah Gordon]
Tallit resting on top of a siddur tephilla 
    [David Ziants]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2022 at 09:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#57):

> As someone not living in the USA, I must say that I have also been surprised by
> the reactions of many members to this topic. It struck me that most did not
> read what others had written but, rather, caricatured them to fit their
> preconceived ideas.

As someone who has lived in the US my whole life and who has been deeply
concerned with the legal, social, and ethical issues raised by abortion and then
Roe v. Wade for many decades, I think that Martin, perhaps because he does not
live here, misses much of the nuance of the discussion. The two sides read and
listen to each other but have fundamental "indeed life threatening"
disagreements. I probably read as much by anti-abortionists as by pro-choice
advocates, perhaps even more. But in reading or listening to them, I find,
bottom line, so very much that I disagree with, legally, socially, and morally.
As do they vis a vis me. And, sadly, because of Dobbs, that debate will continue
at even higher decibels than before, probably for many long and bitter years. 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 15,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

R E Sternglantz wrote (MJ 65#56):
> I just want to add something that I think is important, which might not be
> obvious to observant Jews who for many reasons don't generally spend a lot of
> time following the issue of abortion:
> ...

This is a welcome, much more thoughtful, contribution.  Why could she not have responded with it in the first place?

Martin Stern


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2022 at 08:00 PM
Subject: Abortion and chemotherapy

Sammy Finkelman writes (MJ 65#57);

> And probably it wasn't so much their sense of ethics and values but that they
> didn't want to be sued.

I'm not a doctor but I have plenty of friends and family who are and I object on
their behalf. Many doctors angst over difficult ethical and value issues the
same way Sammy undoubtedly does. (I don't know his profession but whatever it is
he most likely has ethical and value issues as most of us do in our
professions.) He should withdraw the slur against the medical profession. 



From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2022 at 08:00 PM
Subject: Coercion

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#67):
> That said, no one "mandated" any vaccines in the USA. It's not a "mandate" if
> someone is precluded from public participation without being vaccinated -
> that is their own choice and its consequences.

This statement seems disingenuous.  The following actions, all enacted in the US
against those who refused the COVID vaccine, constitute coercion by any standard:

* terminating livelihood [1]
* withholding education [2]
* refusing medical care [3, 4]
* canceling a life-saving kidney transplant [5,6]
* prohibition from entering shul [7]

Many people in the United States acted deplorably towards those who refused the
vaccine, even though there was never evidence of a significant reduction in
transmission post vaccination (and there is clear evidence more recently that
any transmission effect is small to non-existent).

In my view, it was no different from the way that Blacks were treated in this
country in the 50s, when racists made all sorts of specious fear-based arguments
(like that Blacks spread different diseases) to deny Blacks housing and jobs.

The country has learned precious little from its bigoted past.  I would have
expected more from the Jewish community, and especially the observant Jewish

[1]  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/04/nyregion/northwell-employees-fired.html






[7] https://www.templeemanuel.com/covid-19-protocols/


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 15,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Israelis Living Overseas (was High Price of Housing)

David Olivestone wrote (MJ 65#56):

> I hope I am misreading what he says, but Prof. Levine seems to be doing his
> best to discourage aliyah. Israel is not a sort of holy Disneyland, a place
> that's fine for a vacation, but not a place in which to live. His argument
> that people should not make Israel their permanent home because the
> congestion . . . would be increased multi-fold is simply bizarre. As a
> resident of Jerusalem, where many of these ghost apartments are located, I
> can say that my neighbours and I would welcome more such olim with open arms.
> We celebrate the aliyah of each and every Jew as a simchah, and have no fear
> that we would be pushed off the sidewalks because of their arrival.
> Furthermore, if these  apartment owners lived in Israel full-time they would
> obviously contribute to the economy on a far greater scale. My wife and I
> consider ourselves very fortunate indeed that we were able to come on aliyah
> some ten years ago, and I completely understand that "for very genuine
> reasons with which I fully sympathize" not everyone can. But even if Prof.
> Levine does not intend to make the move himself, I wonder how he can justify
> discouraging others from doing so.

I have always found it strange that those who have made Aliyah want others to do
the same, yet are unconcerned about the large numbers of Israelis who leave
Israel. I quote a recent article:


> First, the number of Israelis living overseas is huge. By most estimates,
> close to a million - in other words, about 10% of all Israelis (and far
> higher if counting only all of Israel's Jewish population for this
> calculation). It's easy to stigmatize such people when they are few and far
> between, as was the case back in the country's earlier days (although during
> the great "tzena" depression in the early 1950s, many Israelis did leave the
> country, but that was understandable under those very difficult conditions).
> However, when virtually every other Israeli has some family member living in
> Diaspora, such stigmatization becomes harder to maintain, as their "blemish"
> ostensibly reflects on the remaining family members.

Shouldn't this be at least as important concern as making Aliyah?

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Side Effects of Abortion Bans (Was: Abortion)

Sammy Finkelman writes (MJ 65#57):

> Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 56#49):
>> Correction:  an ectopic pregnancy is NEVER considered a viable pregnancy and
>> ALWAYS results in the death of the mother if not treated. (The choice would 
>> be either the fetus plus mother die, or the fetus dies.  No other option.)
>> This has not stopped the idiots in Ohio's legislature from ruling that the
>> ectopic fetus should be "transplanted".  When politicians decide medicine,
>> disaster results.
> ...
> And it's not like transplanting the ectopic pregnancy would be impossible, at
> least not if caught early enough. Why would it be in an age where there are
> surrogate mothers?

It's not clear to me if you are anticipating a sort of futuristic possibility or
if you truly believe that this is possible in 2022.  It is not.

But the answer to "why" is that there are significant micro-connections for
fetal and placental tissue that cannot be reattached, and the woman's
uterine lining does not have receptors for those even if they could be kept
straight and somehow disconnected without immediately terminating the
potential for life in the embryo.

If transplanting an ectopic pregnancy were possible, many many women would
have demanded this therapy, because often these pregnancies are desperately


Just to be clear - when an IVF blastocyst is transferred from a petri dish
to a uterus, it does not have any vascular connections that are broken
before transfer, and it is at a much earlier stage than ectopic pregnancies are
diagnosed.  That is "why".  Again, I don't understand how men make such blithe
statements about women's bodies without any learning on the subject.

> It's just considered not worth doing (as this would likely not be the last
> chance for the woman to become pregnant) and causing unnecessary risk to the
> would-be mother and turning something simple into an expensive operation.

Did someone tell you this?  An ectopic pregnancy absolutely threatens the
woman's fertility, and never in my life have I heard about an ethics decision
resting on "not the last chance" to become pregnant in terms of the perceived
value of a fetus.

> When doctors decide ethics, some things that some people don't feel is right
> happen. Now, maybe we shouldn't have politicians deciding what is ethical
> either. But if nobody should, why should there be laws against cloning
> or how many other possible medical practices, like choosing genes?

This is a logical fallacy.  Ignorant politicians should not make dumb medical
rules.  That has no further implications for who makes medical ethical decisions.

...[discussion on chemotherapy when incompatible with pregnancy]
> Now halachah would probably demand that in most such cases the woman get an
> abortion, especially if there is a proverbial gun to her head - but a lot
> might depend on the mental state of the mother and the precise treatment
> offerred.

I guess we agree on this point - there will be halakhically-required abortions
that are prevented by local state laws now in the USA.  This should be mourned
by all Orthodox Jews.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 16,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Tallit resting on top of a siddur tephilla

Today, during Shabbat morning tephilla, someone put a shul tallit on top of one
of big siddurim for the sheliach tzibur, which are kept in a prominent place in
the shul.

As a child and youth growing up in a suburb of London, England - as I was
learning the basics of halacha, I was taught that to put an item on top of a
siddur (except a chumash, or n"ach) is considered disrespectful to the siddur.

So after the tephilla, after everyone had left the shul, I went back in to see
about correcting this configuration. (We are talking about a relatively small
Israeli neighbourhood shul where, of course depending on the situation, any
member can "interfere".)

So, the Rav of the shul was still there, and I pointed this out to him. He did
not think that this was an issue and he challenged me to find a source that it
was indeed an issue. When I said I found it uncomfortable seeing the tallit on
top of the siddur, he gave me permission to move the tallit to the side of the
siddur. BTW, we are talking about a siddur which uses explicitly the four letter
name of G-d rather than the two yuds of the siddurim of previous generations. It
seems though, that this is not relevant here.

Although men of greater learning might have other halacha books to look, my
personally library at home allowed me to look up the following:-

a) Ishai Yisrael - could not find a mention so I assume that this subject is not
in the scope of this work. (I mention this first because often these recently
written books give references to earlier sources).

b) Shulcah Aruch, Orech Chaim - I don't know where to look - could not find the
issue mentioned in places where it talks about laws of sepher torah or the
chapter concerning respect for artefacts in a shul.

c) Chayai Adam chap 31 - Embedded in laws concerning sepher torah, it talks
about giving respect to printed chumashim and other books of the tanach and also
similar respect to other siphray kodesh not in that category. Apart from
regarding sepher torah, I could not find any mention of putting an item on top
of a sepher kodesh of any kind, nor any mention about how these are allowed to
be stacked.

d) Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Shlomo Gantzfreid - Hebrew - Sinai Edition printed
1958, Tel Aviv) Volume 1 chap 28 - similar to Chaya Adam, mentions briefly about
giving respect to siphray kodesh, but nothing about how they should be stacked
or putting other things on top.

e) Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Shlomo Gantzfreid translated by Hyman E. Goldin LL.B.
to English - Hebrew Publishing Company, printed 1961, New York) Volume 1 chap 28
clause 4 - here does mention about being allowed to place a chumash on top of a
book of the na"ch but one is not allowed to place a book of the na"ch on top of
a chumash.

None of the sources distinguish between a siddur and other siphray kodesh. I
also understood that a siddur needs to be given more respect than other siphray
kodesh because this is (at least in principle) from the anshay k'nesset gedola
and predates the mishna and talmud.

So, later on this Shabbat, when I returned for his shiur, I mentioned to the Rav
what I had learnt - especially pointing out what is written in my source "e"
above. The Rav, says that this only applies to the way one is allowed to stack
books of the Tanach, and does not apply to a tallit on top of a siddur (nor any
other item on top of a siddur).

So, was what I was taught as a kid, a misunderstanding on my part, an error due
to the misunderstanding of my teachers, or maybe a stringency that is not
documented, i.e. still part of "Torah Ba'al Peh" that is not written?

Or, does anyone have a source for my understanding of the halachot regarding
this (which I can show my shul Rav)?

David Ziants


End of Volume 65 Issue 58