Volume 7 Number 42

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artificial Insemination
         [Susan Slusky]
Genetic Engineering
         [Mike Gerver]
Modern Orthodox
         [Norman Miller]
Rabbi Feldman's book
         [Freda Birnbaum]
Seven Mitzvot and arayot
         [Rechell Schwartz]
         [Joseph Greenberg]
         [Gary Davis]
They didn't mean that...
         [Zev Kesselman]


From: <segs@...> (Susan Slusky)
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 08:38:20 EDT
Subject: Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination by Donor (and a little bit on the Rav)

OK, even supposing that exposing one's self to a female gynecologist
is still an unacceptable breach of tzniut (modesty) when there is
no pikuach nefesh (threat to life) involved. How about if the husband 
does the procedure? Or the woman herself? It is my understanding that
in general the insemination procedure is a very low tech procedure
that could be carried out by a layperson. So would either of these
alternatives remove the objection to artificial insemination by donor?

To the person who cited the example of a frum gynecologist in Jerusalem
who always had his nurse in the room when he did internal exams on his
patients: This is the usual procedure with Jewish and non Jewish,
male and female gynecologists in the US. I'm not sure if this solves
the tzniut problem though. Sounds like it makes it worse.

Susan Slusky

PS I'm very much enjoying reading the reports about the hespedim 
(funeral tributes?) and shiurium (seminars?) on the 
Rav as well as the personal experiences of m.j readers. So if someone
is not contributing because they think that the readership is being
deluged with material on the Rav, reconsider. It's been fascinating.

And on that topic, here's a question that's been bothering me:
At the Maimonides Yeshiva High School in Boston, MA, I am told that
both Jewish and General Subjects are learned with boys and girls together
in the same classroom. This seems most unusual to me since in the NY
metropolitan area I have found that Jewish studies at least are always
separated by gender in Orthodox high schools (Those who want to know how
the Great High School Hunt for my twins turned out can write to me.)
It also seems inconsistent with the philosophy expressed at YU where
men and women are separated for all studies and indeed are on different 
campuses separated by several miles. Yet both of these schools have been
cited as expressions of the Rav's outlook. Can anyone resolve the
discrepancy for me? 


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 14 May 1993 2:21:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Genetic Engineering

In v7n29, Bernard Katz, commenting on Bob Werman's original "Pig" posting,
says that, whatever the essence of being a kosher animal is, one can at
least say that having split hooves and chewing cud is an infallible sign
of being kosher. In the same issue, Eitan Fiorino mentions a gemara about
a cow giving birth to a pig, which might then be considered kosher, and
says that a necessary condition for an animal to be treif is that it was born
from a treif animal. Is that also a sufficient condition? I.e. is a cow
born from a pig treif? Or, more realistically, if a pig had a mutation
(or a whole series of mutations, perhaps genetically engineered) that caused
it to chew its cud, would it still be treif? If so, then maybe having split
hooves and chewing its cud are NOT infallible signs that an animal is kosher.
I agree, especially after reading Aimee Yermish's well-written explanation
in v7n33, that it is very far fetched to consider a tomato to be a pig, but
it is not so clear where you DO draw the line. If anything that is born to
a pig is a pig, then it may not be the case that something cannot be treif
if there is nothing visible about it that would lead you to say it is treif.
It might be the case that (as in the case of kelim) an animal can be treif
solely because of its past history.

There is at least one case I know of (if I am remembering this correctly)
where the permissibility of eating an animal DOES depend on past history,
rather than on visible signs. I heard or read somewhere that if you shecht
a cow and find a live calf in its uterus, then you should immediately shecht
the calf too. The reason is that the calf is already considered shechted,
even though it is still alive, because its mother was shechted when it was
attached to its mother. It would actually be permitted to eat the calf
without killing it, or to eat it after killing it in a non-kosher manner.
But if the calf is not killed, and grows up and reproduces, and after a
few generations you lose track of who its descendents are, then you have
a serious problem. Any of its descendents can never be eaten. They cannot
be eaten without shechita, because of their ancestors who were ordinary
cattle. But they cannot be shechted either, because they are partly
shechted already, due to their ancestry from the calf, and you cannot
shecht an animal that has the legal status of being already dead. Eventually
the entire population of cattle in the world might descend from this
calf, and it would never be possible to eat beef again.

This case might serve as a precedent for a population of cows that look 
like ordinary cows, but are treif because they are descended from pigs.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Norman Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 13:16:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodox

Never mind "Modern Orthodox": what's so nifty about "Orthodox"? It's
Greek roots aside, and ignoring for the time being that whiff of
self-righteousness (Ben Svetitsky rightly points out that "Haredi"
suffers from the same ailment), what bothers me is that either name
mirrors that of the Eastern Christian churches.  And --what's worse--
since the latter are arguably among the most reactionary and
anti-Semitic of churches, isn't it about time that someone came up with
a better term?

I have no candidates, but I suggest that a Hebrew name and only a Hebrew
name should be considered.

Norman Miller


From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 07:56 EDT
Subject: Rabbi Feldman's book

Y. Steinberg expresses concern, in V7#36, about R. Feldman's
work since he is the rabbi of a non-shomer-shabbos shul, adding:

> Rabbi Feldman is a
>great scholar by all accounts (particularly in the realm of medical
>ethics), but I don't think his works can ever be considered
>authoritative from an halachic point of view.
>(BTW, this is not to say that there was anything controversial about the
>specific passage Aliza quoted. I'm referring to some of his other

FWIW, I have heard several orthodx rabbis cite his book with approval.

Freda Birnbaum


From: <rrs@...> (Rechell Schwartz)
Date: Thu, 13 May 93 02:15:57 -0400
Subject: Seven Mitzvot and arayot

In a recent Mail-Jewish, Abi Ross responded affirmatively to my question
about whether a Gentile is permitted to have relations with his
daughter. I have several questions regarding the issue of the Seven
Mitzvot with respect to arayot.

1) Why is a Gentile permitted to have relations with his daughter?
   Almost every culture regards this as severely taboo. 

2) The 7 Mitzvoth in general appear to be very lax with respect
   to forbidden relationships. There are only a small sub-set of
   arayot prohibited to a Jew that are prohibited to a Gentile
   (again, these are mother, father's wife, sister, half-sister
   through mother, married woman, male, and animal).
   In addition, pre-marital relations do not appear to be a problem.

3) Given 1) and 2), why should we turn up our noses when we hear about 
   "promiscuity" among the Gentiles (e.g., pre-marital, father-daughter incest)
   if these are permissible to them? 

4) Finally, in Vayikra 18: 27-30, (after all the arayot that are
   forbidden to Jews are descriibed), it is stated that because
   the Gentiles had engaged in ALL of the foregoing abominations,
   (i.e., the ones described in Vaikra 18 as forbidden to Jews)
   the land had vomited them out. If most of the arayot described
   are indeed permissible to the Gentile, why do the verses condemn
   the Gentiles for having performed ALL of these abominations?

                              Rechell Schwartz


From: <Joseph_Greenberg@...> (Joseph Greenberg)
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 09:14:47 -0400
Subject: Shavers

Based on the figure that Zev Farkas supplied regarding shavers, I
remember asking (a long while ago) how one determines if a shaver is
okay. I was told that you should run the shaver across the back of your
hand or arm with the blades _not_ working (the shaver off). If hair was
cut, the shaver was in effect acting as a blade, not as a scissors, and
was therefore not allowed. I have one of the new breed of Norelco
shavers, and it does not cut any hair on my hand or arm unless it is
switched on.


From: Gary Davis <davis@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 08:24:47 -0400
Subject: Shemot

Surely the spelling "G-d" is yet another "fence" to remind us to be
careful.  - Gary Davis


From: Zev Kesselman <ZEV%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Thu, 13 May 93 11:39 JST
Subject: They didn't mean that...

	Susan Hornstein cited the SSK's (Shmirat Shabbat Khilchata)
permitting basal temperature measuring on Shabbat, as an example of
pikuach nefesh.  Maybe this is so, but I think that the heter is indeed
much more general, extending to all "medida shel mitzvah" (measurement
for mitzvah purposes).  Other examples would be, e.g., measuring the
volume of a mikveh.  As a reference, SSK cites a Mishnah Breura on this,
who in turn cites the Tur and Maharam MiRuttenberg, as sources for the
principle that when the talmudic gzera was promulgated, "they didn't
mean" medidah shel mitzvah.  Here my question remains, is this svora or
harder information?
	In a personal communication, another reader explained that since
the chol-hamoed shaving gezera came equipped with the reason (not to
enter the chag unshaven), then the gezera's result today is the opposite
of the intent, which in effect makes it inapplicable.  That at least
puts "they didn't mean that" into a different realm, once discussed here
in the name of the Tifereth Israel.  (It's still not clear to me if "no
longer applicable"/"counterproductive" are accepted loopholes for the
wiser/greater-in-number Bet din requirement - witness all the grizzly
bears by the end of chag, including me).  Manny Lehmann's approach (not
applicable to new inventions) is yet another twist to it.  Both appear
to be automatic limitations, not requiring specific intent in the
gezera's formulation.
	I hope Nachum Issur Babkoff's suggested sefer will shed some
light on this; I'll be looking for it.

				Zev Kesselman


End of Volume 7 Issue 42