Volume 7 Number 15

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artificial insemination
Hametz in the Kinneret
         [Len Moskowitz]
Non-Jewish guest on Yom Tov
         [Isaac Balbin]
Women as (Vice-) Presidents
         [Warren Burstein]
Women in Public Positions (2)
         [Michael Pitkowsky, Joseph Greenberg]


From: Anonymous
Date: Sat, 1 May 93 17:10:46 -0400
Subject: Artificial insemination

Unfortunately, this subject is halacha l'maaseh for us.  There are
several halachic issues which we have discussed with poskim.

The first problem is how to provide the semen specimen.  If the wife is
not a niddah, there are two possibilities: withdrawal, and using a
special condom (regular condoms are treated with a spermicide).  If she
is a niddah, it's best for the man to ejaculate without masturbation
(e.g. by the power of suggestion), but if need be, masturbation is
allowed.  I gather from this p'sak that there's no problem with AI or
IVF when she's a niddah.

As regards the sperm preparation, we believe we were told by one posek
that we had to keep an eye on the specimen for the entire time.  He
later denied that he had said this, saying that non-Jews could be
trusted not to mix up specimens because they had reason to fear the
consequences of such a mixup (e.g. lawsuits).

Gavriel Newman asked about "manipulations."  I don't know of any
halachic issues with either the preparation (which involves treating the
sperm with various chemicals, centrifuging to remove the fluid and bad
sperm, etc.)  or with the recently developed techniques of physically
helping the sperm penetrate the egg.


From: Len Moskowitz <moskowit@...>
Date: Sat, 1 May 93 17:10:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Hametz in the Kinneret

L. Joseph Bachman writes:

> ...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
> lake.

Be'air Miryam (Miryam's well) is still in action!

Len Moskowitz


From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 93 01:19:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Non-Jewish guest on Yom Tov

Bruce Krulwich correctly points out that the Halacha states that there
is a G'Zera against _Inviting_ a non-Jew to a meal on Yom Tov and he
questions my [without mentioning me specifically] conclusion that if one
was to prepare the meal a-la-shabbos that the non-Jew could be invited.
Bruce asks a good question which I had thought about but which I had not
mentioned. Essentially, what we have is a Pasuk [verse] that says that
one can cook on Yom Tov Lochem [for Jews] and the Gemorra deduces Lochem
Ve-lo Le-Akum [for Jews, but not for non-Jews].  The Rabbis then made a
decree which said that `in order to prevent cooking on Yom Tov for
non-Jews, we will prohibit the *inviting* of the non-Jew on Yom Tov.'

The question can be asked [and I use this example only to illustrate my
point] what would the halacha be if a Jew invited a non-Jew (let us say
it was a person who was undergoing Giyur [conversion]) to his house to
sit it on a shiur which was delivered on Yom Tov. Do we say that the Jew
cannot invite the non-Jew to the house because the Rabbis enacted a
blanket prohibition on the act of invitation? Or, do we argue, that
where a scenario will involve the (halachik definition of) cooking of a
meal, ONLY THEN do we say that the Rabbis said, `you cannot invite the
non-Jew.' Remember, I am not a Rabbi, and so readers should take
everything that I say with a liberal dose of salt, but I am of the
opinion that the Rabbis enactment was designed to cover cases of
invitations about which halachikally mandated yom-tov cooking were
involved. I would be most interested if people discuss this with their
Rabbonim [I did, and they say `I hear what you say'].

The upshot is, where a person is not involved in halachikally mandated
yom-tov cooking the G'zera would not be applicable.

It could be claimed that once someone was eating you might be tempted to
cook. That is true.  It could also be claimed that once someone just
comes into your house, you might be tempted to cook. That is also true.
These considerations are not the issue, however.

The question is what did the Rabbis enact!

It could also be argued that since a person finds a way out of the
G'zera [decree] and *consciously* prepares a Shabbos (and not Yom Tov)
meal, that the Rabbis' G'zera wasn't applicable. An example not
disimilar to this is that of `Schach Beshivre Kelim' [using broken
wooden vessels as Schach]. This is a Rabbinic prohibition, yet there are
opinions [as described in Minchas Shlomo from Rav Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach] to the effect that if you *break* a vessel into small bits,
and in such a way as to make it less obvious that it ever emanated from
a vessel, that the decree was not applicable. Why? Because the Rabbinic
enactment is designed for a normal situation, not one which is contrived
to consciously avoid the situation and yet at the same time show that
they will not offend the orginal issur [prohibition] that the decree was
designed to protect.

Finally, Bob Tannenbaum's question on Reb Moshe's Tshuvo [responsum].  I
don't believe it is a problem. It is addressed to the YESHIVA BACHUR.
It only addresses those problems which would prevent him being able to
*attend* the Seder. There is no problem with him eating the food his
mother had prepared! Clearly, if his mother had asked the question (the
story seems to be one of a *situation* one finds oneself in, as far as
the Bachur is concerned), Reb Moshe may have told her not to invite the
cousin (who was Jewish) full stop. I don't know. However, Bob's
conclusions don't follow.


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sun, 2 May 93 00:37:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Women as (Vice-) Presidents

The current yoshevet-rosh (chair, a position equivalent to shul
president) of Kehilat Yedidya in Jerusalem, of which I am a member, is
a woman.

 |warren@      But the ***
/ nysernet.org is not all that ***.


From: <mipitkowsky@...> (Michael Pitkowsky)
Date: Sat, 1 May 93 17:10:57 -0400
Subject: Women in Public Positions

The discussion of women in a public position has been a hotly debated
topic since the beginning of this century.  This issue first came up in
the Yishuv in Palestine when in 1918 they were deciding about who should
be able to vote in elections (For details of this see Menachem
Friedman's book _Hevra VeDat_ pp.  146-184).  This also became an issue
when in the late 1980's Leah Shakdiel ran for the Religious Council in
Yeruham, a town near Beer Sheva.  I feel that the position allowing
women to both vote and serve in a public office has been drowned out in
recent years.  Following are some important points and sources which
should be looked at.

Rav Kook forbid women the vote and hold public office (see _Mamarei
HaRayiah_, pp. 189-194).  He quotes the source in Yebamot 65b which says
that "It is the way of a man to conquer and not the way of a women" and
Psalms 45:14 "All of the glory of the daughter's of the king is inside
(the house)".  Rav Kook then says that the separation of the sexes is a
cardinal tenent of the Torah, one which must not be endangered.

An opposing view is posited by Rav Ben-Tzion Uziel, the former Chief
Sephardic Rabbi of Israel.  In _Mishpatei Uziel_, Hoshen Mishpat, pp.
34-35 , Rabbi Uziel says that

"It is reasonable to say that every serious gathering and productive
conversation [between men and women] is not subject to the fears of
pritzut (immoral behavior), and every day men and women meet through
business and they communicate and there is no immoral behavior.  Our
sages said "Don't speak too much with a women"(Avot 1:5) only with
regard to talk which has no purpose, but not talk which deals with
matters of a serious and public nature..."

Another source often quoted is the Rambam, Hilchot Melachim, 1:5, which
says that "It is forbidden to appoint a woman to a public position".  On
this Rambam I will quote Rabbi Uziel who said that "This halacha is not
found in the Talmud, the Mishnah, or the Gemara and since this is not
found anywhere else in the poskim (halachic decisors) it is a halacha
that one can reject".

In addition, the new Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Eliyahu
Bakshi Doron wrote in vol. 20 of _Torah She B'al Peh_, Mossah HaRav
Kook, pp. 66-72 , that women can serve in positions of public

Lastly there are numerous example from Jewish history of women serving
in public positions. From the Tanakh there is Devorah (Judges 4:5) and
Hulda the Prophetess (2 Kings 22:14).  From more modern times there is
Edel the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov and Rachel the daughter of the
Apter Rebbe who both were "rebbes" on their own right (see Menachem
Brayer's _The Jewish Women in Rabbinic Literature_, vol. 1, Hoboken,
1986, pp. 37-48 for examples of women in a public role).

In my eyes it is more the insecurities of men than halacha which is
preventing women from assuming a greater leadership role in the Jewish

						Michael Pitkowsky

(All of this information was taken from an unpublished responsum by
Rabbi David Golinkin, MP)

From: <Joseph_Greenberg@...> (Joseph Greenberg)
Date: Sat, 1 May 93 17:10:31 -0400
Subject: Women in Public Positions

The question of female presidents was recently discussed in our
community (Detroit, MI). One of the Young Israel's (orthodox shuls) was
interested in electing a woman as president. This violates the National
Council's policy, by the way, and is grounds for expulsion from the
National Council of YI.  It was made patently clear that while Young
Israel accepts women serving (perhaps the wrong word here) as board
members, it is considered a violation of halacha (related to the laws of
tzniut (modesty)) for a women to serve as the "front man" for the
kehilla (congregation). It was made clear to me that this not only
included the "responsibility" of standing up in front of the shul to
make announcements on Shabbat, but also the day-to-day responsibilities
that a President must attend to.. dealing with contractors for the leaky
roof, etc. These are not considered activities that can be classified as
falling into the normal realm of tzniut activities for women.
Unfortunately, this entire issue can be both misused by men, and
maligned by women, to create tremendous animosity within a community.
Ah, for a single opinion.....


End of Volume 7 Issue 15