Volume 7 Number 77

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kohanim and Duchening (4)
         [Joe Abeles, Joel Kurtz, Leon Dworsky, Larry Haber]
Pikuah nefesh
         [Linda Kuzmack]
Shemot (3)
         [Ira B. Taub, Henry Abramson, Sam Goldish]


From: Joe Abeles <joe_abeles@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 10:36:25 -0400
Subject: Kohanim and Duchening

In the rather right-wing conservative synagogue of my youth, no
duchaning was ever performed.  I infer the reasons were (1) to avoid
embarrassing kohanim who didn't know what to do and (2) the
disqualification of "lapsed" cohanim discussed by earlier postings
referring to the Mishna Brura (not necessarily in that order).

From: <kurtzj@...> (Joel Kurtz)
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 93 12:54:30 -0400
Subject: Kohanim and Duchening

Jonathan Ben-Avraham states that-
> Furthermore, it makes no sense whatsoever to *prevent* a person who is
> not shomer mitsvot from performing a *very* important mitsva.

Well, what is the difference, then, between birchat cohanim and
kriat haTorah, for example, in this regard?  I still remember the
humiliation a number of years ago when I had prepared most of Parshat
Pinchas on the occasion of my bar mitzvah anniversary but was replaced
at the last minute by a yeshiva bochur because I was not well enough
known in this shtibl (and, presumably, was probably not shomer mitsvot).

Joel Kurtz

From: <ljd@...> (Leon Dworsky)
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 93 10:16:49 -0400
Subject: Kohanim and Duchening

Norman Miller asks:
>... whether such a reason is limited to this ....
>... is there somewhere an underlying general principle ...

It is my understanding that the disqualifying condition "if the
congregation hated him" is limited to this alone, as the brocha
said by the Kohane BEFORE duchening says ".... commanded us to
bless thy people Israel with love (b'ahavuh)".  Thus, if he does
not "love" the congregation, or the congregation does not "love"
him, he is disqualified from duchening for THAT congregation.

[Similar responce sent in by <alan@...> (Alan M. Gallatin) Mod]

Leon Dworsky   <ljd@...>

From: <saba@...> (Larry Haber)
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1993 09:27:16 -0500
Subject: Kohanim and Duchening

Leon Dworsky raised the issue about non Shomer Mitzvah Kohanim
duchaning.  Our LOR is Lubavitch and he instructed me as a Levy to
induce such people to duchan, and that I should wash their hands.  I
have "worked" on such a person, a former Yeshivah Buchar, who finally
consented, reluctantly, to duchan.  After descending from the Duchan, he
came over to me, with tears in his eyes, kissed me on the cheek, and
thanked me.

The opinion of my LOR is that it is not within the provence of anyone,
especially a Kohen, to withhold G-ds blessings from anyone..

BTW, when I was instructed regarding theses laws, I was also told that
if a Kohen was physically deformed he was also preculded from ducaning.

<SABA@...> (Larry Haber)  Livingston, NJ


From: <lkuzmack@...> (Linda Kuzmack)
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 03:13:07 -0400
Subject: Pikuah nefesh

I have recently joined mail-jewish and have enjoyed the discussions I
have read.  I do not normally have access to the level of halakhic
discussion reflected here.

I would like to start a discussion of the halakhic aspects of an
incident involving medical ethics which occurred to me several years ago
and made a lasting impression.  A young Jewish woman in the Washington,
DC community had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant.
Thousands of people responded to an appeal to have their blood tested
for a match, including hundreds at the time I showed up, so we had to
wait in line several hours.  I happened to be standing next to several
observant Jewish men, and we struck up a conversation.

When we reached the point of signing consent forms to have our blood
types entered in the national data base, these men showed great
reluctance.  I asked one of them, to whom the others deferred and who
may have been a rabbi, why there was a halakhic problem.  His
explanation was the following:

Our bodies are not our property but God's, and we are forbidden to
endanger our health.  [The donation procedure requires minor surgery.]
This is overridden by the commandment to save a human life, but that
commandment only applies if the beneficiary is Jewish.  We may help
non-Jews, but we may not endanger our health in the process.  If an
observant Jew's blood type is entered into the national data base, it
might match a non-Jewish potential recipient, in which case the Jew
would have to refuse.  The potential recipient and his family would
understandably have a negative perception of Judaism, and thus hillul
hashem would result.

I should say bizkhuto that he was visibly disturbed by this result and
stated that he could not believe that God would allow a Jew to be the
only match for a non-Jewish recipient, thus forcing this dilemma.

It turned out that the Bone Marrow Program people did not have
procedures to cope with potential donors who wanted to be tested for a
match to a particular recipient but not have the data entered into the
data base.  When it came my turn to be tested, the men had not figured
out what to do, and I never found out what their final decision was.  My
thoughts after the incident were along the following lines:

(1) Speculations about what God would or would not do are irrelevant to
a halakhic decision.  In fact, worse things than this happen every day.

(2) On the narrow issue of entering the data, if they refused to let
their data be entered into the national data base, they would be
foregoing the possibility of saving the lives of other potential Jewish
beneficiaries as well as non-Jewish beneficiaries.  One might argue that
this argument in itself should decide the issue.

(I later found out, by the way, that the procedures are such that a
potential recipient would probably not find out the reasons why a
potential donor declined to donate, particularly if the latter did not
want them to.)

(3) Even if this is accepted, there is still the question whether an
observant Jew is permitted to be a bone marrow donor for a non-Jew if
there is no non-Jewish donor available.  We should note that people who
need a bone marrow transplant always have life-threatening diseases for
which other effective treatments are not available.  It seems to me that
it is beyond our human understanding why God allows such diseases to
exist, but we can understand our obligations in such cases.  To say that
God would give us the ability to save the life of a non-Jew at minimal
risk to our own health and forbid us to do so is itself hillul hashem.

Another complication arises from the fact that the Bone Marrow Program
is a governmental or quasi-governmental program and would in all
likelihood be prohibited by civil law from inquiring about the religion
of a potential recipient.  What would the halakhah be if one could not
find out whether the beneficiary is Jewish or not?  There would be a
much greater than random probability that the recipient would be Jewish,
since matches of blood types are more likely in genetically related

I would be very interested in the reactions of others who know more
about halakhah than I do to all aspects of these issues.  In particular,
what is required, permitted or forbidden in connection with saving the
life of a non-Jew?  If some health risks are severe enough to forbid
such action, what about lesser risks?  What about actions which do not
involve a health risk: for example, is it permitted to violate the
Sabbath in order to save the life of a non-Jew?  What about allowing
one's blood type to be entered into the national data base?  Is there
any validity to the reasoning reflected in (1), (2), and (3) above?

Arnold Kuzmack <lkuzmack@...> (my wife's Internet account)
<lkuzmack@...> (Linda Kuzmack)


From: <ibt@...> (Ira B. Taub)
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 19:44:12 EDT
Subject: Shemot

	A friend of mine was leafing through a paperback novel, and, lo
and behold, right in the middle, was the Shema, in Hebrew, along with
Hashem's complete name.  The book, as I recall, was entitled "A Canticle for
Liebovits"; it was distributed to a public school English class as a
reading assignment.  The book is pretty old, and I'm sure that there are
plenty of public schools with substantial numbers of these books laying in
storage rooms.
	Similarly, I was leafing through Time magazine a few weeks ago,
and found an article that included a photograph of a letter written by
David Koresh (of Waco fame).  Ever the theologically creative one, he
signed his name using Hashem's name, in Hebrew.
	Finally, there is a bizarre cult in South Florida that calls
itself the Yahwehs and uses Hashem's name as its symbol.  One
of their hotels has the Name in large black letters over its doorway.
	Now, the questions... Are "A Cantice for Liebovits" and Time
magazine therefore Sifrei Kodesh?  Must they be disposed of by genizah or
burial? If, for example, a boxful of the novels is dumped by the school,
abused by a student, or the hotel is repurchased and the Name is taken
down, would a Chillul Hashem have occured? Or is a goy's use of Hashem's
name somehow different? What are a Jew's obligations as to this material
so as to avoid a chillul Hashem?
						Thank you,
						Ira Taub

From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 22:42:05 -0400
Subject: Shemot

I realize this posting is quite late, but I was busy with a move to New
York City.  Hope the topic is still alive.

I had to ask a she'ela on the question of using the word G-d (without the
hyphen) in my publications, since the English transliteration of the Russian
word "year" is "god"  (like this is 1993 god).  Rabbi Mordechai Becher 
informed me that this presented no problem.  Similarly, the English word
bog (as in swamp), even though it is also the Polish word for G-d, may be
used at will, even though Polish uses the same alphabet.

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

From: Sam Goldish <0005891269@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 93 17:27:52 -0400
Subject: Shemot

This message was submitted by Sam Goldish <0005891269@...> to
list During the past few weeks, there have been a number of postings
regarding the question of spelling of the word, G-d, when used in
letters, articles, essays, etc.  I should like to submit the following
information on this issue from Rabbi Philip H. Singer, a highly-regarded
rabbi and talmid chocham in the New York area, who is the brother-in-law
of my LOR in Tulsa, Rabbi Arthur D. Kahn:

1.  See the SHACH on Yoreh Deah, Chapter 179, paragraph 11: "But the
Name, in Lashon Kodesh (Hebrew)--the tetragrammaton-- is considered the
Name, but in Lashon Chol (a secular language) it is not the Name at all,
for it is permitted to erase the name that was written in a secular
language, such as 'Gott' in German, or 'Bog' in Polish or Russian, etc."

2.  The Name, authentically, must be in "K'tav Ashurit" (ancient Hebrew
script) because it is K'tav Ashurit that gives it its sanctity.  See
REMA on Yoreh Deah 237: "But if he grasped in his hand K'tav Ashurit,
even if it were only "chachmah chitzonit" (outside wisdom), or the
aleph-beth, which contains only letters, should he take an oath with
them and they are in his hand, it would be considered an oath."

3.  See REMA on Yoreh Deah 276, paragraph 13: "And it is forbidden a
priori to write the Name other than in a book because it may be abused,
and that is why one must be careful not to write the Name in a letter.
Some are careful even with the word 'Shalom' not to write it out
completely."  (Shalom being one of G-d's names).  The SHACH, however,
states: "Most are not careful about this, and it is written in the
Teshuvos Harosh (The Responsa of the Rosh), principle 3, section 15,
that it is permitted."

4.  According to the Tosafot in Tractate Shvuot 35, there is a
uniqueness to the Name ADN' over and above all others.  It is the "Shem
Hameyuchad" (the unique Name).

5.  Rabbi Soloveitchik, z"t"l, once indicated that when reciting the
Shema in English translation, one should say, "Hear, Israel, ADN' our
G-d, ADN' is One." i.e., HaShem's name should NOT be translated!  That's
why there is no Shem in Megillat Esther, because it had to be translated
into 127 languages.

6.  That is why, too, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the
Torah) wrote the name as Yud Hay Vav Hay in K'tav Ashurit.  To the
Greeks, the Hay resembled the Greek letter "Pi," the Yud, "Iota," etc.,
and read it left to right as "Pupi."  An elaboration of this can be
found in the ORUCH, under "Pupi."


Rabbi Kahn appends the following comment:

In conclusion, it would appear the even though, halachically, the word
G-d could be spelled out in full, since it is not K'tav Ashurit, most
observant people are "machmir" (take the stricter approach) and do not.
As a matter of fact, some are so sensitive to this issue that they even
refrain from writing out in Hebrew "Bais Hay" at the beginning of their
letters ("Hay" being part of the tetragrammaton--the Shem Havaya),
preferring to write "Bais Samech Daled," for "B'Siyata Dishmaya"--the
Aramaic for "With the help of Heaven."  All this in spite of the fact
that R. Moshe Feinstein, z"t"l, in his "Igros Moshe" (1973), Yoreh Deah,
Chap. 138, p. 232, declares explicitly that he does not consider the
letter "Hay" written in a letter or article to be prohibited.


End of Volume 7 Issue 77