Volume 7 Number 31

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artificial Insemination
         [Isaac Balbin]
Artificial Insemination (H & D)
         [Nachum Issur Babkoff]
Infertility (2)
         [Eliyahu Freilich, Zev Farkas]
JEWSTUDIES - New List Available
         [Avi Hyman]
Unnatural sex
         [Aliza Berger]
War & the Military in Judaism
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Tue, 4 May 93 19:54:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Artificial Insemination

  | From: <babkoff@...> (Nachum Issur Babkoff)
  | As for Ellens second question/remark on the "Minchat Yitzchak"'s
  | creation of a "constructive infidelity" (my term), that it assumes
  | (often incorrectly) that the procedure is preformed by a male doctor; I
  | too, found it strange, but on second thought considered, that it doesn't
  | matter if the procedure is preformed by male or female, because lying
  | splayed out, even in front of another woman, is considered improper and
  | in violation of "tsni'ut" (modesty), unless it is for "piku'ach nefesh"
  | (like child birth). Since AI is NOT "piku'ach nefesh" (life saving
  | measure), there is NO justification (in R. Weiss's opinion) for a woman
  | to expose herself in such a manner, and the lack of modesty alone would
  | possibly be grounds for divorce, possibly (according to his school) to
  | the point where the husband is COMPELLED to divorce his wife! This is
  | definitely the opinion of the Jerusalem Court I quoted last time,
  | althogh they of course refered to a non-spousal donor.

This is strange. Is Nachum trying to convince us that according to Dayan
Weiss a woman who has, for example, a non-life-threatening vaginal
complaint, is not permitted to respond to a doctor's request that she be
`splayed out' so that he or she might perform an internal procedure?

Perhaps Dayan Weiss' suggestion was to find a female doctor if

Nevertheless, as we all know, finding a suitable doctor full stop is
often a problem and gender is usually not the major consideration.

I would have thought that the primary consideration here is whether the
fact that the woman and man feel unfulfilled in their lives as a result
of not having children. If these feelings and the associated stresses
are considered as medical/psychological issues then I would have thought
they were no less important than an internal examination for a
non-life-threatening disease by a male.

On the other hand, if one does not consider such stresses as
contributing to a person's general well-being they are probably out of
touch with certain sections of the Jewish community.

From: <babkoff@...> (Nachum Issur Babkoff)
Date: Sun, 9 May 93 15:50:34 +0200
Subject: Artificial Insemination (H & D)

I'm glad my two original postings were deemed worthy of comment,
although I must state, lest I was mis-understood, that I never meant to
present an opinion of my own. All statements were from literature I had
seen several years ago, or had glanced at briefly before responding.
Therefore, I would like to respond to the first of the two Anonymous
postings in MJ vol. 7 #23.

A portion of what I had previously posted was quoted, whereby I was
attempting to present R. Y.Y. Weiss's opinion from his responsa, where
he ADDS an objection to the procedure, claiming that there is inherent
in the procedure, a lack of modesty whereby the female patient must lie
in an immodest fashion, and that that was in and of itself objectionable
in his opinion. I then added that presumably R. Weiss didn't feel this
procedure to fall into the catagory of "piku'ach nefesh". The reason I
said this, was exactly because of the sentiments raised in Anonymous's
posting! If it was considered (IN R. WEISS'S OPINION) to be "piku'ach
nefesh", he would have had to address that problem! Yet he didn't.

As far as regular gynecological examinations, I would assume that the
fear of becoming ill etc. is enough to allow such procedures, although I
read of a "chareidi" (Ultra-Orthodox) gynecologist in Tel-Aviv, who only
examines woman, when his nurse/receptionist is present.

As far as being child-less being a cause for "piku'ach nefesh", I think
Reb Moshe agreed with Anonymous, and if memory serves, he uses that as
an argument that adds weight to his permission (which by the way, is a
case by case permission, as Anonymous quoted from Dr. Rosner). However,
apparently R. Weiss and R. Waldenberg DID NOT agree that that was reason
enough! I am not G-d forbid attempting to rule here. I was responding to
a query on the major opinions on the topic. You are at liberty to
disagree with them. Be aware, however, that such an opinion exists, and
seems to me to be the accepted opinion, as I tried to show from the case
that came before the Rabbinic Court in Jerusalem! (R. Waldenberg

As far as "piku'ach nefesh" in general, I think that this is a topic
worth studying more, however, it seems to me, that piku'ach nefesh is a
valid claim, WHEN THE DANGER IS NEAR OR IMMINENT. I don't have sources
on me right now, but I seem to recall having that impression when
confronted with issues of that nature. In questions such as this,
however, it is usualy raised to add weight to an argument, and I'll give
you an example I remember learning about.

Reb Moshe absolutely forbade feticide (abortions), in cases where it was
evident that the fetus suffered from Tai Sachs syndrom. His reasoning
was in general, that it was Torah forbidden (Feticide).  (This I saw in
a memorial book, in memory of the commentator on the Tosefta, R.
Yechezkel Avramsky ZT"l).

R. Eliezer Waldenberg, however, permitted it, basicly because he felt it
was NOT Torah forbidden ("deoraita"), and ADDED that in MANY cases the
anguish the mother would suffer, having a child, and then losing it
within a period of 3-5 years, is "Piku'ach nefesh"! As you see, the
"piku'ach nefesh" argument was only invoked AFTER it was decided (by R.
Waldenberg) that feticide was a RABBINIC prohibition. If there was REAL
"piku'ach nefesh", it would have been un-necessary to discuss whether
feticide was Rabbinic, or Torah prohibited by nature, because in cases
of "piku'ach nefesh", even Torah prohibitions are deemed suspended! (R.
Waldenbergs opinion is in one of the "Asya" books, and is an exchange of
letters between himself and the head of "Sha'arei Tzedek" hospital).

Therefore, since Reb Moshe PERMITTED A.I.D. IN PRINCIPAL, he could add
(if he in fact did, again, I haven't seen the response in a LONG time)
the element of "piku'ach nefesh". R. Waldenberg who does NOT permit it,
doesn't feel this to be a major contribution, worthy of changing his

All the best...

                         Nachum Issur Babkoff


From: Eliyahu Freilich <M04002@...>
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 11:26:14 IDT
Subject: Infertility

Is infertility 'pikuach nefesh'? This is certainly what Rachel thought when
she told Yaakov: "...hava li banim v'im ayin META ANOCHI" (give me children
or else I die) (Breshit 30,1).

From: Zev Farkas <farkas@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 13:35:30 -0400
Subject: Infertility

With regard to the lack of tzniut (modesty) of the lithotomy position, a
correspondent raised the question of whether a routine gynecological exam
might be prohibited.  While I am not a posek, it seems to me that this is
an issue of pikuach nefesh (saving life), since the purpose is to detect
life-threatening illness, such as cervical cancer.

I also agree that the issue of mental health is a very significant part
of the questions regarding infertility treatment, and may provide legal
justification for proceedures that otherwise might be prohibited.  (of
course, CYLOR)

Zev Farkas, PE                                :)
<farkas@...>       718 829 5278


From: <AJHYMAN@...> (Avi Hyman)
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 23:16:17 -0400
Subject: JEWSTUDIES - New List Available

Dear Friends,
  I am very pleased to announce the creation of a new e-mail list called
JEWSTUDIES, made possible by the nice folks at NYSERNET.
  The list will be moderated but open, so please sign-on today using the normal
  For the first little while, please try to keep the following guidelines in
mind when sending a post to JEWSTUDIES. We would like posts on:
1) Descriptions of on-going scholarly research in the broadly defined area of
Jewish Studies
2) Queries regarding information pertaining to on-going scholarly research in
Jewish Studies
3) Bibliographical, reference, archival or other source notes that might be of
interest to other scholars in Jewish Studies
4) Brief notes on other areas of interest to scholars of Jewish Studies.
  For the time being we will be open as to the time period of concentration,
although material pertaining to the 18th/19th/20th Centuries are strongly
sender, unless special circumstances warrant it.
  May we suggest that you take the opportunity to test JEWSTUDIES by sending a
brief note on your current endeavors for inclusion in the first issues.
  All the best, and we look forward to hearing from you.
c/o   <jewstudies@...>


From: <A_BERGER@...> (Aliza Berger)
Date: Sun, 9 May 1993 23:16:35 EDT
Subject: Unnatural sex

Janice Gelb writes:

>I'd like some information on this myself on a related issue: how
>severe is the transgression of sexual practices that involve
>depositing sperm not in the vagina, which is also a prohibited
>practice? If they're going to ban marchers from the parade that
>practice THOSE kinds of abominations, the number of marchers would
>be a LOT more significantly affected ...

     Sources on this topic are collected and discussed in Rabbi David M.
Feldman's *Marital Relations, Birth Control and Abortion in Jewish Law*,
especially on pages 155ff.  Since the book is out of print, I could send
you the pages.
    (My rabbi has informed me that Rabbi Tendler recommends this book.)	
     A very brief summary (and I did not look at the original
sources) is: 
     The Talmud (Nedarin 20b), after citing a dissenting view, says that
a man "can do with his wife what he will".  However, there are varying
opinions in the rishonim as to the extent of this permission.  For
example, Tosafot R"i (R. Isaac) gives two interpretations of the
Talmud's statement: 1) Unnatural relations are permitted but only
without semination, or 2) Semination outside the vagina is allowed, but
only when the intent of the husband is unlike that of Onan (whose intent
was to waste his seed), and only once in a while, not as a habitual
practice.  Why the unusual stiplution of "once in a while"?  Since when
in halacha is one permitted to do something once in a while?  R. Feldman
explains, based on the interpretation by the Rosh of the form of the
verb "v'hiskhit" (he spilled) in the incident of Onan, that Onan's sin
was an ongoing one, for total birth prevention, not just a single
occurrence.  So as long as a man does not continually intend this, he
has not committed the sin of Onan.  The Netziv (Meshiv Davar, Yoreh
Deah, #88) and R. Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer #63, p.
156) offer rulings similar to this second (lenient) opinion.
     Other authorities, especially mystical ones, were strict, based on
the Zohar's opinion about the evils of spilling of seed, (for example
Sefer Haredim followed by the Shelah (Shnei Luhot HaBrit, I, Sha'ar
HaOtiot, 100, a, b).
	The above discussion is about "unnatural intercourse", not so
much about interrupted intercourse, which is looked upon less favorably.

Aliza Berger


From: OZER_BLUM%<CARMEL.DECNET@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 04:26:32 -0400
Subject: War & the Military in Judaism

	In response to the request for information on the subject of War
& the Military in Judaism, a recent book published last year seems to be
very comprehensive.  It is entitled: "HaTzava K'Halacha" (The Army as It
Should Be) and is written by Rav Yitzchak Kaufman.  It contains over 480
pages and is divided into sections such as: War as a Mitzva, Behavior in
the Army, and deals with issues of a strict military nature as well as
Shabbat in the Camp, the General Command's regulations dealing with
Yeshiva boys and religious practices, etc.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 7 Issue 31