Volume 7 Number 49

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Jewish Criminal Justice System (3)
         [Arthur Roth, Nachum Issur Babkoff, Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth]
Maritmie Provinces, Canada
         [Etan Shalom Diamond]
NY Get Law
         [Frank Silbermann]
Nusach- Shabbos Mincha
         [Joel Storch]
         [Sam Goldish]


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Tue, 18 May 93 10:36:52 -0500
Subject: Jewish Criminal Justice System

    This is in response to Rachelle Schwartz, who asked whether
murderers and other violent criminals were typically allowed to go scot
free (at least in terms of punishment administered by humans) if they
received no warning or there were not two kosher witnesses to their act.
Fortunately, this was not the case.  The Bet Din had the authority, if
they were well convinced of the person's guilt based on the evidence but
could not apply the death penalty for reasons such as those mentioned
above, to place the offender in something called a "kipa" (not the one
we wear on our heads!).  It's been a long time since I learned this, and
I don't remember exactly what the "kipa" consisted of.  At best, it was
a place of confinement, analogous to modern jails (?), where the
offender was fed but prevented from harming society any further.  At
worst, food was withheld and/or other active means were taken to make
conditions bad enough to hasten the offender's "natural" death.  Perhaps
someone can refresh my memory as to the nature of the "kipa".
    By the way, Rachelle, the theoretical problem is even worse than
what you described.  Even if he was warned that his potential act is
punishable by death, he must have actively accepted the warning by saying
that he knows that this is the case, but he intends to proceed with his 
act anyway.  Clearly, this would almost never have actually happened.
To receive the death penalty, a person have to be both very wicked and
incredibly stupid at the same time!             --- Arthur Roth

From: <babkoff@...> (Nachum Issur Babkoff)
Date: Tue, 18 May 93 12:48:24 +0200
Subject: Jewish Criminal Justice System

In MJ Vol7#44 Rechell Schwartz posed several questions concerning a
jewish legal Criminal system.

All of her questions were addressed by several of the most prominant
thinkers in Jewish history.

Begining with the Rambam (Maimonides): In his Major Treatise, in the
chapter dealing with homicide (Hilchot Rotsei'ach U'Shmirat Ha'Nefesh)
he raises all these issues, and says that:
A. The courts have auxiliary powers that allow them to punish, whenever
there is a "technicality", as in the stringent rules of evidence.
Under those powers it is incumbent upon the courts to severly punish
transgressors, most importantly murderers (he includes incarcerrations,
beatings and hard labor).
B. The king has auxiliary legislative as well as judicial powers that
Hence, a king may thus legislate, that a case that falls short of
the Torah required "pre-meditation", yet is at a higher degree than
"shogeg" - "karov l'maizid" (one who is "close" to being pre-meditated),
may be punished by death, even though according to strict Torah law,
he shouldn't.

Next we have the Ra"N: In his "Drashot" (lectures?), Drush #11, he
states that obviously no society could exist under the Torah rules
of procedure and evidence. According to him we have an absurd situation
whereby gentiles have in theory better systems! He too, therefore,
invokes the laws presented by the Rambam, and states that the purpose
of the No'achide laws were to preserve society, while the Torah laws
were meant to create a utopian society.

Finaly, there is the "Or Samayach" (R. Meir Simcha Ha'Kohen): In
his commentary on the Rambam, Laws of Kings he too states that the
model to follow in order to preserve society is the No'achide
rules of procedure and evidence.

There are many more statements to that affect in various responsa
concerning real cases (I recall a T'shuvat RaSHBa"SH to that
affect, concerning the rules of evidence).

Caveat: Check all sources quoted here, as they are not at present
in front of me.

All the best, and a happy Yom Y'rushalayim...

                   Nachum Issur Babkoff

From: Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth <METH@...>
Date: Tue, 18 May 93 08:58:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Jewish Criminal Justice System

Rechell Schwartz asks about what happens in capital cases if a person gets
off on a technicality (no eidim [witnesses] or hasra'ah [warning], etc.).
The Gemara in Sanhedrin, and the Rambam speak of this at length (as usual,
I don't have references handy).  Basically, Beis Din and/or the King had the
power to unilaterlly carry out capital punishment in such cases, when it was
determined that the fabric of society would be threatened by the release of
such suspects.  In the case of the King, summary beheading (sayyif) was used.
In the case of the Beis Din, a Kippah was used.  The Kippah was a small 
chamber in which the suspect was placed.  It was such that the suspect could
neither sit nor stand, rather crouch.  The suspect was fed a barley-based
food which caused his stomach to swell.  Death occured in a few days.

With regard to Kares, I believe the Halachah is that all chayvey Krisus get
malkis [all who incur Kares also get lashes].

Finally, political correctness notwithstanding, verbal abuse of a student
by a teacher, depending on the context, of course, is not always reprehensible.


From: Etan Shalom Diamond <ed16+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1993 11:48:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Maritmie Provinces, Canada

I'm taking a trip to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward
Island.  What's the Jewish situation there?  Shuls?  Kosher food?  etc. 

Etan Diamond
Department of History
Carnegie Mellon University


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 93 03:19:13 -0400
Subject: Re: NY Get Law

In Vol7 #44 Danny Wolf discusses objection to the NY "Get law" saying:

> there is a halachic difference between justified coercion by
> proper authorities (meaning halachically proper, i.e. a bet din)
> and unjustified coercion by a halachically illegitimate body
> (see Gittin 88b).

_Coersion_ by gentiles would certainly be a problem.  But what about
mere _incentives_?  If a gentile threatened to withdraw his friendship
from a man unless he gave his divorced wife a get, would that invalidate
the get?

I may be wrong, but my understanding of the new law was that it merely
provided the husband an _incentive_ to give the get (i.e. a better
property settlement), but that he was still legally entitled to refuse.
If so, no coercion is involved.

> Thuggery, when not at bet din's behest, is an extremely problematic solution.

And what about when thuggery _is_ at the Bet Din's request?  Could you
give me some examples? :-)

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: Joel Storch <storch@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 93 10:48:25 -0400
Subject: Nusach- Shabbos Mincha

In the repetition of the Amidah for Mincha on Shabbos, there exists the
widespread practice whereby the congregation "chimes in" with the Chazan at
various points (with the same melody). Specifically;

1) "Veshifchacha Alokenu"
2) "Tiferes Gedulah"
3) "Kadshenu Bmitztvosacha"
4) "Vtaher Lebanu" 
5) "Vsachazenah Aynenu"
6) "Vechol Hachaim"
7) "Barchenu Avenu"

I have never seen a siddur which indicates that these words should be resounded
by the congregation nor do I know of any written source for it. Does anyone
have an explanation pertaining to this practice ?


From: Sam Goldish <0005891269@...>
Date: Wed, 19 May 93 08:03:19 -0400
Subject: Shaving

In m-j digest 7-41, Mike Gerver expresses curiosity as to how his 
great-grandfather, who was very frum, could have shaved off his 
beard.  As a youngster, back in the early '20's, growing up in the 
small shtet'l of Marietta, Ohio, I remember my uncle, Avrohom Mones 
Goldish, o"h, a businessman who also was very frum, shaving daily with 
a depilatory compound.  It was a yellow powder that foamed when 
mixed with water, and which softened the beard so that a NON-METALLIC 
blade (probably made of hard vulcanized rubber) would remove the hair.  
The powder must have had a high sulphur content, because it permeated the 
house with the acrid odor of hydrogen sulfide (the smell of rotten 
eggs).  My aunt, o"h, would have to air out the house each 
morning after Uncle Mones finished shaving!

Since I have invoked the memory of my beloved uncle, I would like to 
add a brief historical note which I feel may be of interest to some 
of our "m-j net" members, because it relates to the early history of YU.

Marietta, Ohio, shortly after the turn of the century, had a tiny 
Jewish community consisting of perhaps a dozen families--all of them 
frum.  Although the population of Marietta was only 12,000, it was 
often described in the Yiddish newspapers of that era as being a 
"Little Yerushalayim," back in the days when "frumkeit" in America 
was at its nadir.  Because of its geographic isolation from the 
mainstreams of Yiddishkeit, my uncle used to carry on a voluminous 
correspondence with a number of rabbeim, particularly to resolve 
halachic questions affecting his family or other members of the 
community (e.g., the construction of a mikva in the basement of their 

Two of the rabbis with whom Uncle Mones corresponded were Rabbi 
Bernard Levinthal, the chief Orthodox rabbi of Philadelphia, and 
Rabbi Moshe Sivitz, of Pittsburgh, Pa.  At that time, Rabbi Levinthal 
was host to a young ilui who had just emigrated to the U.S., by the 
name of Rabbi Bernard Dov Revel.  Living in Marietta at that time was 
a large family by the name of Travis--formerly Rabinovitch--the 
patriarch of whom was Reb Yitzhak Zvi Rabinovitch (Travis).  He had a 
teenage daughter, Sarah, for whom "Reb Itze Hertza" was seeking a 
shidduch.  Uncle Mones, who was a close friend of the Travis family, 
assumed the role of "shadchan," corresponded with R. Levinthal and 
R. Sivitz, and, after visits to Marietta by all the parties concerned, 
successfully culminated in the chasuna of Rabbi Dov Revel and 
Sarah Travis, which took place in Marietta, with--if I recall early 
family lore correctly--Rabbi Bernard Levinthal serving as the "mesader 
kiddushin."   I believe Rabbi Sivitz also participated.

Shortly thereafter, following the disastrous 1913 flood along the 
Ohio River valley that virtually wiped out the Travis' oilfield supply 
business, the entire family, along with Rabbi Revel and his wife, moved 
to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the Travises eventually became immensely wealthy 
in the oil producing and refining business.   After several years of 
working for his in-laws, Rabbi Revel and his wife moved to New York.   
The rest is history.

Happy Yom Yerushalayim - v'kol tuv!


End of Volume 7 Issue 49