Volume 7 Number 32

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Electric Shavers
         [Bob Klein]
GR"A's Mathroom Bathroom
         [Reuven Bell]
Homosexuals and Homosexuality
         [Michael Allen]
Israel Day Parade Boycott
         [Mike Berkowitz]
Murder v. Homosexuality
         [Nachum Issur Babkoff]
         [Dan Shimoff]
         [Eliyahu Freilich]


From: Bob Klein <KL2@...>
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 09:50:28 -0400
Subject: Electric Shavers

In the issue of our shul's bulletin that we just got there was an item
about a possible halachic problem with Norelco lift and cut shavers.  No
further details were given.  Has anyone heard anything about this?
Specifically, I would be interested in answers to the following
questions (my interest is quite practical in nature):

1. What is the nature of the halachic problem?

2. What change was made in the design of Norelco shavers that caused the
   problem (the bulletin said that older models are acceptable)?

3. I believe the lift and cut models have been available for several
   years.  Why has it taken so long for someone to determine that there
   might be a problem?

Any information that anyone can provide on this issue would be most
appreciated.  Thanks in advance.


From: <rbell@...> (Reuven Bell)
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 21:34:38 -0400
Subject: GR"A's Mathroom Bathroom

I think we've all heard this legend at some time or another, that the
GR"A would only contemplate mathematics and other secular topics at a
time when he was not permitted to learn Torah, thus in the bathroom.
What surprises me, though, is how many people believe it to be the

Just a couple of questions here: Were there any witnesses?  Did he tell
people of it?  As far as I have ever known, the GR"A was also known as
an Anav, would he walk around telling people of his activities while

Finally, common sense.  Let's be honest about the question here.  Give
it some serious thought, then come back to me with that claim again.
It's simply impractical.  Remember this.  The Vilna Gaon, no matter how
great he was, was, as are all other Gedolai Torah, a man, subject to
many of the same things we all are.  Let's be practical, OK?

I sometimes think that this legend was only started because of the GRA"S
long-standing war with Chassidus.  After all the Rebbe stories, they
figured they'd get back at him in kind.  What better than a GR"A legend
so that is wholly Chassidic in nature, yet rooted in the Earthy, not the

I hate to say this to y'all,  but Come On!  Think this one through...

Reuven Bell

From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 13:11:21 -0400
Subject: Homosexuals and Homosexuality

The discussion of the Israel Day parade seems to have gotten off onto a
wee bit of a tangent.  I recently heard a taped lecture by R' David
Gottlieb of Ohr Sameach called "Homosexuals and Homosexuality" that
helped clarify this issue a bit for me.  I would highly recommend that
anyone interested in this topic listen to the lecture.  Below is my
understanding, and I apologize and take responsibility ahead of time for
any misunderstanding on my part.  That said:

My understanding is that Judaism views *homosexuality* as an
abomination.  But Judaism views the *homosexual* similar to anyone who
has a non-contagious (*possibly* incurable) disease.  For example, just
as a man who had tuberculosis would certainly no be denied an aliyah,
neither should a homosexual man. Further, Judaism recognizes that sexual
desires are in a different category from other desires, and there seems
to be some lessening of the ultimate accountability for someone who
succumbs to this kind of desire.  That is, a homosexual who fails to
avoid homosexual activity is not held as responsible for those actions
as someone who *loves* shellfish and fails to control that desire.

However, homosexuality must be acknowledged and recognized as an
unfortunate and undesirable condition.  It seems, then that a homosexual
synagogue -- or anything else that in any way indicates that
homosexuality is a valid, alternate lifestyle -- would not be


From: <etzion@...> (Mike Berkowitz)
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 03:15:33 -0400
Subject: Israel Day Parade Boycott

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'd like to make a couple of points
re Janice Gelb's posting of v7n22:

>The very presence of gay synagogues at all indicate that the barrier has 
>not been all that effective.

One gay synagogue for the hundreds of thousands of affiliated Jews in the 
New York area hardly constitutes a stampede.  When you consider that the 
vast majority of these Jews do not feel constrained by Halacha, I'd say 
the barrier is holding up rather well.

>Folks, homosexuality exists. It is an orientation that is not a matter 
>of choice but of biology.

On consulting a friend who is a professor at an Ivy-League university, I 
am informed that the current Politically Correct opinion is that 
homosexuality is not biologically determined but rather a conscious 
choice of the individual.  (The reasoning behind this is so that no one 
can look upon a homosexual's hormones as somehow "inferior".)  Of course 
none of this has anything to do with science or truth, since in today's 
academic climate you couldn't even get a grant to study such a sensitive 
matter for fear of turning up the "wrong" anwser.

As to the gays' motivation for marching under their own banner, well, Ms. 
Gelb's attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt is laudable, but 
even being melamed zchus can be overdone.

Mike Berkowitz
DISCLAIMER:  Anything I write represents my own opinion and should in no 
way be construed as the position of the Yeshiva, at which I have no 
official position.


From: <babkoff@...> (Nachum Issur Babkoff)
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 09:51:09 +0200
Subject: Murder v. Homosexuality

Being an Israeli in Israel, I will refrain at the present time from
commenting on the dispute concerning congregation "Simchat Torah" (for
all of you who couldn't remember the name of the gay synagouge), but I
would like to make several remarks on some of the hallachic argumnets

In vol.7 #20 R. Shlomo Pick in a response to Janice Gelb, claimed that
there was a clear difference between "arayot" (Torah forbidden sexual
activities) and murder on the one hand, and desecrating the sabbath, on
the other.

I believe a source is in order, and the one I thought of off hand, is
from the Mishnah in Chapter "Ben Sorer U'Moreh" (Mod?), where it is
stated, that A is obligated to prevent B from murdering C or preforming
homosexual rape on C, even to the point where it is necessary to kill B,
the pursuar! ("rodef"). The second half of the same Mishnah states,
however, that it is forbidden to kill one who is in pursuit of
desecrating the Sabbath (or preforming bestiality), even though all
above cases are capital.

On the other hand, the proof of the DIFFERENCE between Arayot and murder
that R. Shlomo brought, i.e. "duchening" (the priestly benediction),
seems, "im kol ha'kavod", to be a bit parve. I believe that the more
relevant source, is again from Tractate Sanhedrin, where it was decided
that a hierarcy DOES exist, even amongst capital cases!

The Talmud states that there are 4 types of capital punishment (Torah
perscribed), and that they are indications as to how "bad" the Torah
considers each transgression to be realative to each other.

The four types of execution are:

 1. "Skila" (being thrown off a building, and then stoned) - which is
the "usual" method of execution.  For our purposes, I believe
homosexuals are thus treated (if the Torah requirements for conviction
exist, of course).
 2. "Sreifa" (pouring molten lead down the condemned's throat) -
reserved for a priest's daughter who commits adultry.
 3. "Hereg" (decapitation) - the murderer's punishment.
 4. "Chenek" (strangulation) - I may be wrong, but I THINK it applies to

There are major disputes as to which punishment is considered the
"worse", and surprisingly, the HALLACHA is: Decapitation is WORSE than
"Skila" (because it is considered "m'nuval", an "unclean" method of
death). Therefore, HALLACHICLY speaking, murder is viewed as a worse
transgression, from a strictly Hallachic point of view, than

More so, there are commentators who claim, that the reason a homosexual
pursuer is killed, is because inherent in rape, is a strong measure of
violence, that may endanger the pursued! In other words, according to
those commentators, it is NOT the transgression of homosexuality per-se
that compells us to save the pursued "with the life of the pursuer",
rather it is the element of potential murder!

Again, it is not my intention to state my opinions on what I view, as
more of a question of "public policy" (Jewish, of course).

All the best and Shabbat Shalom...

                             Nachum Issur Babkoff


From: <shdan@...> (Dan Shimoff)
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 08:20:04 -0400
Subject: Pigness

Bob Werman writes:

>A tomato can never be a pig, and still be a tomato.  However we are
>prohibited not only from eating pig but touching their carcass; there is
>something in the pig other than its behavior in life [which indeed is a
>sign of whether we can eat them or not] that makes them a prohibited

Whenever Jews talk of non-kosher animals, the pig is always used.  What
makes the pig the quintessential unkosher animal?  I don't think this
stems from the Torah, since no one I know thinks to mention a camel,
rabbit or hyrax, those animals mentioned with the pig as animals not to
eat, when talking of non-kosher animals.  And, as Bob points out, we
have special restrictions on pigs too (I think there is a prohibition
about raising pigs in the land of Israel).

Why has the pig been singled out?  

(<shdan@...>)  Dan Shimoff


From: Eliyahu Freilich <M04002@...>
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 11:36:24 IDT
Subject: Shemot

I am looking for a halachic source to the way Shem Hashem, in languages other
than Hebrew, is written. In particular I'm refering to the form 'G-d'.
According to logic of this form should we also write 'the-logy' for 'theology'
since 'Theo(s)' is 'G-d' in Greek?


End of Volume 7 Issue 32