Volume 7 Number 27

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

GR"A on Mathematics (4)
         [Ari Z. Zivotofsky, Henry Abramson, Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth, Len
Hakarat Tov
         [Daniel Geretz]
They didn't mean that... (2)
         [Nachum Issur Babkoff, Isaac Balbin]
Tumah in Modern Society
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
Volume 13 of Tchumin
         [Elliot Lasson]
Women as Presidents
         [Mike Gerver]


From: <azz@...> (Ari Z. Zivotofsky)
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 15:48:50 -0400
Subject: Re: GR"A on Mathematics

Somebody last week asked about the gra's geometry book.  It is called
"Ayil Me'Shulash".  The edition I have was published in 1965 in
Jerusalem by publishers I've never heard of, something like "Vilna
Ve'horadna".  I bought it a number of years back at the YU sforim sale
but have not seen it in any bookstores recently.  I was recently told
that it is being translated, so I assume it will be republished.  It is
quite similar to standard high school geometry.

From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 08:56:39 -0400
Subject: GR"A on Mathematics

The Gr"a wrote "Kramer's Theorem" on Infinity (taken from his family name).
A brief but interesting biography, which unfortunately does not provide
scholarly references to his mathematical work, may found in Aharon Feldman's
_The Juggler and the King: An Elaboration of the Vilna Gaon's Interpretation
of the Hidden Wisdom of the Sages_ (Spring Valley, NY: Targum, 1990).

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

P.S. It is also worthy of note that he conducted his non-Torah studies
only at times and in places where it is forbidden to study Torah, e.g.
the washroom.

From: Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth <METH@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 09:19:39 -0400
Subject: GR"A on Mathematics

Aryeh Kaplan, in his translation of Sefer Yetzirah (I think it's in the
intro), mentions the GR"A's mathematical genius.  He is credited with
Kramer's Theorem (the GR"A's last name is Kramer), wich is well known
among the mathematical cogniscenti.

Rabbi Kaplan also mentioned that the GR"A only worked on secular matters
when he was not permitted to contemplate Torah matters (e.g., in the

There is a Cramer's rule in matrix algebra, which relates to finding the
inverse of a matrix; I'm not sure if that's the one.

From: Len Moskowitz <moskowit@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 13:58:48 -0400
Subject: Re: GR"A on Mathematics

Michael Allen <allen@...> writes:

> I have heard that the G"ra published a book on geometry.  Can someone
> tell me from whence I can acquire that sefer?

The sefer, if I recall correctly, is called "Ayil Meshulash."  You might
try Biegeleisen's (718-436-1165), Eichler's (718-633-1505), or Seforim
World (sorry, their number isn't handy), all in Borough Park.

Len Moskowitz


From: imsasby!<dgeretz@...> (Daniel Geretz)
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 09:48:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Hakarat Tov

I am back from Grand Rapids, MI, and wish to thank all those who sent
responses to my request for information on the Jewish Community there.
I spent Shabbat at the Chabad House there (and they also had minyanim
both days of Rosh Chodesh Iyar), and although not the same as being home
with my family, it sure beat a hotel room!  

Thank you to the following individuals who responded (forgive me if the
list is incomplete and your name is missing - my mail has been somewhat
erratic as of late, and I am told that altogether there were seven or
eight individuals that responded), in no particular order:

Manny Lehman, Bernhard Weinberg, Pinchas Edelson, Yisrael Sundick
and Joseph Greenberg.

Daniel Geretz


From: <babkoff@...> (Nachum Issur Babkoff)
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 10:14:01 +0200
Subject: They didn't mean that...

Zev Kesselman requested information on "Gzeirot".

Good news, Zev! There is a new compilation (3 volumes!) called:
"Ha'Gzeirot V'Hatakanot" etc. and supposedly, has the "texts and
contexts" of the original "gzeirot". I saw it advertised in some
newspaper, and then recently saw that it is on sale, here in Bar-Ilan's
book store!

On another note, it MAY be that many gzeirot came down to us without an
"official" document, but was transfered from Rabbi to student until
someone decided to write it down! ("Kitniyot" for example).

As for the Chadra"g (Cherem d'Rabeinu Gershom), today it is not relevant
where when etc. it was enacted, because it was RENEWED!  (It was
supposed to run out 400 years ago, I think, but was renewed), and in
Israel, the Chief Rabbanite re-enacted and incorperated it into a
"takanah" that binds all jews who reside in Israel, including those who
came from polygemous societies. As far as the Mail Chadra"g, it too may
have been renewed 400 years ago, but I'm not sure.

On another note, you wrote that the gzeira of kitniyot couldn't apply to
grains not known at the time they were enacted. I assume that you're
taking Reb Moshe's position, based on his peanut oil decision. I tend to
think that one of the factors in his decision, was that he wasn't
convinced that peanuts are CLASSIFIED as "kitniyot" (legume's?).
Although I do agree that the principles of interpretation of "gzeirot"
are that we interpret them ad-minimus.

All the best, and Shabbat Shalom...

                        Nachum Issur Babkoff

From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 19:35:32 -0400
Subject: Re: They didn't mean that...

  | From: Zev Kesselman <ZEV%<HADASSAH@...>

  | 	Wow, is *that* ever a general question: what was the intent or
  | extent of any gezera.  You see that regarding thermometers on Shabbat
  | (they didn't mean "no measuring" to prevent measuring for mitzvoth, like
  | pikuach nefesh), kitniyot on Pesach (they couldn't have categorized as
  | "kitniyot", seeds that didn't exist then), shaving on chol hamoed (they
  | couldn't have meant our modern trimmed beards), etc.etc., and now here.

	You may be interested to know that a prominent Acharon [latter
day Rabbi] [I wish I remembered who it was, given I saw it only 3 weeks
ago] decides that taking temperature using a thermometer is indeed
PERMITTED for this very reason.
 The G'zera of Rabbeinu Gershom for not having a bath in your house does
not apply today because our baths are different.
 Rav Soloveitchik, ZT"L *told* his Talmidim who shaved to shave on Chol
Hamoed before Yom Tov Sheni because Chazal didn't imagine our shavers
(yes, the ones that some people permit) and thereby would support their
own G'zera and prefer people not to be disheveled on Yom Tov.  My
experience is that there has to be two doubts about a G'zera before
latter day Acharonim are prepared to by-pass it.
 In the case of cooking for a non-Jew on Yom Tov, I submit that one
might use precisely the doubt that I raised *together with* a doubt on
whether we consider today's Mechalelei Shabbos Befarhesya [shabbos
desecrators] as non-jews for application of this law.  There are in fact
other doubts: the interested reader should consult a fascinating
exchange between Rav Waldenberg Shlita and Rav Shternbuch Shlita in
Tzitz Eliezer (see the index) regarding the question of a restaurant
owner who wishes to have clientel on Yom Tov who break shabbos.  Also,
Rav Ovadya in the first Chelek of Yabia Omer has a similar discussion.
 I was most interested to find that the Rav's Shulchan Aruch (unlike the
Mishna B'rura) does *not* mention the shabbos desecrator at all in his
discussion of Yom Tov cooking.

I digress though. I agree with Zev though about Gzeros in general.
Does anyone know of some good work written in this area. I suppose
one starts from the Encylopaedia Talmudis. [See also the previous
posting. Mod.]


From: Meylekh Viswanath <viswanath@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 09:43:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Tumah in Modern Society

<edell@...> (Steve Edell) writes:

>1) Ethiopian Jewry, as well as some other Sefardic sects, would
>"isolate" the woman during her niddah period in a 'hut' attached to the
>house specifically used for that purpose.  She would therefore not have
>to come into contact with anyone else (except usually little children
>who would be responsible to bringing her food and other necessities)
>during that time.

A snippet of related information that may be of interest.

The above practice is common among many Hindus, particularly South Indian
Brahmins.  Furthermore, it is practiced even in the cities, except that 
instead of a separate hut (which is obviously not feasible), a portion of
a room is kept apart for the 'niddah.'  In fact, I know of people who
practice such seclusion even in the United States.



From: <Elliot_David_Lasson@...> (Elliot Lasson)
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 20:02:50 -0400
Subject: Volume 13 of Tchumin

Does any MJ reader out there (in U.S.) own a copy of Volume 13 of
Tchumin?  If so, please let me know.  Thanx.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D.  -  <FC9Q@...>


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 7 May 1993 2:10:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women as Presidents

Beth Israel, an orthodox shul in Berkeley (though one with a large
conservative contingent among the membership) had an excellent woman
president around 1975, Joan Sopher. The rabbi at that time, Joseph
Leibowitz, with smicha from YU, certainly had no objection. In fact,
this being Berkeley in the 1970s, the issue hardly came up, although I
vaguely remember someone asking the rabbi about it once.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


End of Volume 7 Issue 27