Volume 7 Number 11

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Army and Jewish Law
         [Rachel Sara Kaplan]
Hametz in the Kinneret
         [L. Joseph Bachman]
Inquiry about San Antonio Texas
         [Dr. Sasha Englard]
Scanning Hebrew
         [Henry Abramson]
Tumah (Ritual Impurity) Questions
         [Rechell Schwartz]
Women as (Vice-) Presidents
         [Malcolm Isaacs]


From: Rachel Sara Kaplan <rachelk@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 17:37:21 -0400
Subject: Army and Jewish Law

In my recent readings on marital laws I came across a couple of laws
that, from my readings, seem to make it difficult for a married man to
serve in the army.  First of all a man cannot leave his wife for a
journey without her permission. This is easily worked around because his
wife can give him permission to go.  However, there is a second law
(part of the law? not sure of the source right now, the book is at home)
that says that even with his wife's permission a man cannot stay away
from home for more than a month.  What is a military person to do if
they are on maneouvers that keep him away for more than a month.
(Submarine/basic training/etc.).  Is there an exception that I just
haven't read about.

Also, how are armies and wars justified.  I mean, the Tanach has tales
of the jews conquering, and having armies.  (Jericho, etc.) but at the
same time we are commanded not to kill.  (I suspect this is not a small
subject, so if it is best that I check out a book on the subject feel
free to refer me there.)



From: <cb990@...> (L. Joseph Bachman)
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 01:35:54 -0400
Subject: Hametz in the Kinneret

Regarding the fact that the Kinneret is hametz and will be until next
fall, when the rainy season starts again:

I don't think that the Kineret is hametz, but if you do, relax, the
water in the lake will be replenished long before the rains start.  (I'm
writing here in my professional capacity as a hydrologist.)  The Jordan
River, the main source of the Kinneret, maintains its flow throughout
the dry season due to discharge of ground water in the watershed
upstream of the Kinneret.  Perhaps some readers of this list have been
to the large prings at Baniass, in the Golan, where water pours from the
limestone aquifer under the Hermon all year round.  I've also visted
another branch of the Jordan at Tel Dan in October, before it started
raining, and the river was flowing quite well.  In addition to the
Jordan and minor streams from the Golan, water in the Kinneret is also
replenished from springs discharging ground water directly into the

Unfortunately I work in the USA, so I don't know the details of how much
ground water discharges into the Kinneret.  Those interested might want
to contact the appropriate governmental agency in Israel.  I think
there's something called the Hydrologic Service in the Ministry of
Agriculture, and perhaps somebody at the Mekorot Water Company knows
something about this.  You could also subscribe to the Middle East Water
List (<meh20-l@...> -- send the subscription to LISTSERV at the
same address, of course), and ask there if someone knows how quickly the
all the water in the Kinneret is replensihed during the summer.

If nobody has yet looked into this question, I would, of course, be more
than happy to receive a research grant to study this issue, especially
if it would involve my employer sending me over to israel on detail to
do the field work.(:-)


From: englard%<medusa@...> (Dr. Sasha Englard)
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 93 11:52:37 -0400
Subject: Inquiry about San Antonio Texas

My daughter and son-in-law must attend a medical conference in San
Antonio,Texas and stay over shabbat in the vicinity of the convention
center. They would much appreciate if some information could be
transmitted to me regarding a shul within walking distance and the
availability of kosher meals.I trust that some information (positive or
negative) will be forthcoming before their scheduled trip in two weeks
from today. Thank you.

  Sasha Englard.


From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 93 14:34:50 -0400
Subject: Scanning Hebrew

Recently Yosef Branse mentioned his difficulty "scanning" Hebrew texts,
as one might read a newspaper, article, etc.  While he studied French
for only a short time, he can somehow scan better in that language!

I don't think it's so much to do with the newness of the alphabet, as
Yosef asks, but the right-to-left direction.  I also have trouble
scanning Hebrew, while other languages such as Russian or Ukrainian,
with their conventional left-to-right orientation, present much less of
a problem.

Henry Abramson                     <abramson@...>
University of Toronto


From: mtnet1!rrs (Rechell Schwartz)
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 93 12:35:05 EDT
Subject: Tumah (Ritual Impurity) Questions

In reviewing last week's parshiot (Tazria-Metzora), which dealt with
various forms of tumah (ritual impurity), several questions came to mind
about how family/societal life was affected during the times of the Bais
Hamikdash, when these laws were in effect. (I don't have my Chumash in
front of me as I write, so it's possible that I might be off about some
of the details).

1) A woman who was a niddah/zava would make anyone she touched tamai
   (ritually impure). In addition, she would make her bed and chairs
   that she sat on tamai as well. Anyone who subsequently touched her
   bed/chairs would acquire the tumah.  Given the ease with which she
   could spread her status onto others, does anyone know how family
   members interacted with each other during this time? For example, was
   the woman kept secluded during niddah/zava times? How would she take
   care of her children?  What if they became tamai? Would they be kept
   home and require tevilah (immersion)?

2) It appears that any time a couple would have relations (as part of
   the category of baal keri), they would both become tamai for the day,
   but have a lesser form of tumah than the niddah/zava where they would
   only cause food and drink to become tamai. My question is, what does
   it mean to make food tamai?  Does it mean that someone who eats the
   food becomes tamai?  If so that leads to my original question of who
   would prepare meals given that now both husband and wife are out of

3) Finally, this sounds silly, but I mean it in earnest. In Yemot
   HaMoshiach, according to some opinions, life will continue on
   basically as it does today, but we will have a king, and the laws
   that were in efect in the Beis HaMikdosh (Holy Temple) will be
   restored. It appears to me, that just having the laws of tumah must
   radically alter our current lifestyle. What would happen to public
   transportation (if where one sits can carry tumah?)  Would women be
   able to go to work, and just call in "tamai" when ever she became a
   niddah/zava? (I realize that mean carry a similar tumah when they
   become zav, but that presumably wouldn't happen on a regular and
   predictable basis the way niddah would). Or would they have to be
   kept in careful seclusion at times so as not to be metamay others?

If anyone has any insights on how these family/societal interactions worked 
2000 years ago, or how they might work in the future I would appreciate it.


From: <M.Isaacs@...> (Malcolm Isaacs)
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 93 08:09:59 -0400
Subject: Women as (Vice-) Presidents

My shul had its Annual General Meeting [AGM] last Sunday night.  (We're
an Orthodox Shul, with ~200 members).  A few days before, some mail
arrived from a member who wanted to change some of the wording of the
constitution, to enable women to be elected to the office of President
and Vice-President.

Sure that this was not quite right, I picked up my Mishneh Torah, and
sure enough, Hilchot Melachim 1:5 states "We may not appoint a woman as
monarch as it says '(you shall surely appoint) over you a king', not a
queen.  Similarly, to any public appointment in Israel, we may only
elect a man."

A Daf Halachah, edited by R. Isaac Bernstein, has an article on "Women
in Synagogue Boards", in which he brings this Rambam, as well as R.
Moshe Feinsteins Teshuvah in Igrot Moshe (Yoreh De'ah, vol 2, simanim 44
and 44), who basically holds that this opinion of the Rambams, ie. that
only men may take public office, is his own personal opinion, although
this opinion should be followed.

He also brings in Dayan Waldenberg (in Hilchot Medinah), who uses the
Me'iri (on Kiddushin 76b) to show that women CAN be elected on the
synagogue board where they participate in collective authority.

Reading shul has had women members on the board for some time now,
although not in the roles of president/vice-president.

There is no rabbi in the community (Reading, ~40 miles from London, UK -
the previous Rabbi left during Sukkot), although the selection committee
is looking for one.  (Another motion was proposed, to stop the search
for a Rabbi for a year, and to repair the roof instead, which is falling
down.  That motion only had five supporters, including the proposer and
his wife).  I therefore phoned up Dayan Kaplan, of the London Bet-Din,
who said that women can categorically not be elected to these positions,
although he felt women on the board in general was OK.

I mentioned this at the AGM, but since the shul comes under the
authority of the Chief Rabbi (Jonathan Sacks), not the Bet-Din, it was
decided to adopt the motion subject to a ruling by R. Sacks.

The very next thing the meeting did was to elect a woman Vice-

I personally have no moral objection to a women being the
president/vice-president, in fact I feel that the particular woman
elected to the vice-president office is eminently capable of doing the
job, probably better than most people in the community (male or female).

As an aside, when I phoned Dayan Kaplan, I also mentioned that R.  Moshe
notes that the halachah forbids a non-religious jew to be appointed to a
position of authority.  Rabbi Bernstein in the Daf Halachah concludes
that based on this: "Faced with the choice of either a totally
non-religious Jew or religiously observant Jewess, the latter must be
favoured".  Dayan Kaplan said that, in the context of President and
Vice-President, the non-religious Jew is to be favoured, in that he can
be considered ignorant, or lax in observance of a few mitzvot, rather
than an unbeliever. (From what I remember of this Teshuvah, R. Moshe
says that one who is RUMOURED to be irreligious is considered religious,
and would be favoured).

At the AGM, someone mentioned that in Leeds, UK, one of the (Orthodox)
shuls had a female "joint-President".  Quite what that is I don't know,
but it was used to show that there is a precedent.

Does anyone on mail.jewish have any comments on this, or experience of
women Presidents/Vice-Presidents?  (I'll keep you posted when we get a
response from the Chief Rabbi).

[You may wish to take a look at the following issues from the archives:

	Women in Political Positions [v4n6]
	Women in Politics [v4n13]

To get those issues, send the following email message to

get mail-jewish/volume4 v4n6
get mail-jewish/volume4 v4n13




End of Volume 7 Issue 11