Volume 7 Number 86

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Interesting Customs?
         [David Sherman]
         [Kibi Hofmann]
Pikuach Nefesh (2)
         [David Rosenstark, Robert A. Book]
Round Mechitzot
         [Janice Gelb]
Universal Standards?; Seeking Justice
         [Freda Birnbaum]
Yam Shel Shlomo
         [David Chasman]


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 93 11:12:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Interesting Customs?

> Another interesting one:  I know a number of people who put gold
> jewelry all around the baby in the first days--this is supposed to
> prevent jaundice.

That reminds me of the non-Jewish waiter at a kosher resort
who wondered about the significance of the custom among Jewish
women to put gold in their mouths.

(Think about what women do for netilas yadayim!)

David Sherman


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 93 10:17:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Oneis

Eitan Fiorino writes:

>					.......	A Jew with this status
>can deny the ikarim, or can publicly desecrate shabbat, and he/she is
>still not classified as a heretic. ..... 

I think Reb Chaim Brisk discusses this question with regard to the Rambam's
13 Ikarim [principles of faith].

The question is something like: "Since we must believe in all the Torah
and all the mitzvos, what is special about these 13 points?"

The answer, if I remember correctly is: "Whilst someone who knows of the
Torah is called an apikores [heretic/apostate ?] if s/he denies ANY of the
mitzvos, someone who doesn't know better is not EXCEPT for these Ikarim"
[presumably because they should have worked them out for themselves or
made it their business to find out].

Of course, everyone can see the problems inherent in this classification of
an "ignorant apikores" (I have a vague idea that Reb Chaim calls it some
special name), and I'm not sure if he advocates hating/excluding them
like we do for "real" apikorsim.

It seems unlikely that the idea of excluding apikores from all activities
ought to apply to someone who is merely mouthing what is taught in schools
and on TV when he says "I don't believe in God". Nevertheless, it also
seems unlikely that you could really count such a person in your minyan...

>Furthermore, can this concept be applied to non-Jews? (ie, if non-Jews
>are raised in an environment where they do not learn the sheva mitzvot,
>can they then be considered "raised in captivity?")

To what end? We don't have a commandment to love non-Jews, if they don't
believe in one of the commmandments given to them why should we mind? At a
time that the Sanhedrin had power it would still put them to death for
committing these acts.

I don't think anyone is going to say that ignorance of the law is an excuse,
paricularly with such basic points as murder, cruelty to animals and theft.
Nowadays the world is pretty weak on belief in God, idol worship and Arayos
but does living with the zeitgeist really constitute "captivity"? It's not as
if most people can't get the information on what's right and wrong if they
want to. If you were to "let them off" you end up forgiving Nazis simply
because they lived in a bad time.

So, if a person kills, steals etc but it was due to their "bad upbringing"
then that must be taken into account, and certainly in Heaven it is, but
once they know that this act is wrong I don't think they anymore have a license
to do it on the grounds that they don't really see why its wrong.

To be friendly and draw in estranged _Jews_ is essential, but we don't have
to be stupid and be friends with those who hate us - thats a christian idea,
not one of ours.

Kibi Hofmann


From: <davidr@...> (David Rosenstark)
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 93 12:34:44 EDT
Subject: Pikuach Nefesh

I also signed up to be on the national marrow donor list in order to see if
I was a match for a specific person a few years ago. I did this without
asking a Rav. After the fact, though, many months later, I was contacted as a
potential match. They give you no information about the person and I knew
it couldn't be the same Jew I had tested for. So, I spoke with Rav Moshe
Tendler who informed me that we do not distinguish between Jews and non-Jews
for these types of things for the obvious problems that could ensue.
The procedure is painful but not life-threatening, if I understand it
( i do not think this was an endorsement for joining the list in the first
place -- that would be a good question to ask your LOR)

-David Rosenstark

From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 93 19:18:40 -0400
Subject: Pikuach Nefesh

Arnold Kuzmack writes:
> 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.

What is the source for this qualification?

> 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.

If it's the HLA Bone Marrow Program, then it is a private foundation.

> 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
> groups.

And even if the recipient could not be determined to be Jewish, since
this is a genetic disease, it is entirely likely that the person is
halachically Jewish anyway.  With all the assimilation that has gone
on in the last 3000 years, it has been estimated that there are about
100 million people in the world who are technically Jewish (i.e.,
decended from Jews in the female line), even though all but about 12
to 14 million cannot be identified as Jews, and are most likely
completely unaware of their origins.  Would these people be considered
Jews for the purpose of Pikuach Nefesh, especially when the genetic
record indicated that someone is more likely to be in this category?

--Robert Book


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 93 17:24:08 -0400
Subject: Round Mechitzot

In mail.jewish Vol. 7 #74 Digest, Steven Edell writes:

>altho there is a caveat: Lincoln Square had just hired contractors to
>build their new shul -- as a circle, with everyone facing each other,
>including men facing women (assuming they would sit separately).
>R.Riskin went back to the RAV ZT"L, who gave a p'sak din (ruling) that
>small partitions could be constructed between the men's & women's sides,
>as well as partitions in front of the women (for modesty), so as to
>separate the men & women.

I was amazed the first time I saw the mechitzah at Lincoln Square, 
not so much at the idea of a round mechitzah as the fact that the 
men's section continued at the other side of the bima so that at 
a certain point the men and women were almost sitting next to each 
other except for a guard rail. (Plus the fact that the aisles were 
high enough up so that the woman had to walk up stairs in full view 
of the men across the way.) Seemed odd to me to have a mechitzah 
that enabled men and women to practically sit next to each other, 
and provided a great view for the men on the predominantly men's side! 

The round mechitzah that seemed much better to me is at Congregation
Beth Jacob in Atlanta, where I belonged for a couple of years. The
men's section is on one side, the women's section on the other side,
and the bima in the middle in the front, and an entryway in the middle
in the back, plus a low three-foot iron grate in front of the women's
section. The floors sloped gently upward.

The worst I've ever seen was at a steibel in Queens where the women 
were in a totally separate room with about a two-inch gap near the 
ceiling -- it was impossible to hear or see anything, even to the 
extent of hearing the laining or saying Amen to brachot.

Anyone else seen any unusual mechitzot? 

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 


From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 93 15:57 EDT
Subject: Universal Standards?; Seeking Justice

Eitan asks some excellent questions!  Here's a try at a beginning at
a suggestion of an answer...

>Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 02:46:46 -0400
>From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
>Subject: Oneis

>[...] Yet can such a person kill and still
>be granted the same status?  What about avoda zara?  It seems intuitive
>that some categories of aveira might be excluded; but which ones?  Only
>those that one is required to give up one's life rather than transgress?
>Or perhaps the sheva mitzvot of noach?  (ie, if they are "raised in
>captivity," then one would expect that at least they would have learned
>the sheva mitzvot).  Or perhaps if one has this status, all of his/her
>sins are considered as performed under oneis, even the big three.
>Furthermore, can this concept be applied to non-Jews? (ie, if non-Jews
>are raised in an environment where they do not learn the sheva mitzvot,
>can they then be considered "raised in captivity?")
>Anyone got answers?

Seems like this is related to that stuff back in philosophy class
about whether there are universal ethics or just cultural norms.
Like the case of (supposedly, I don't know if this is real or made up
for the exercise) the Eskimos leaving their aged and "non-productive"
elderly to freeze to death; do people from outside the culture
have the right to "impose" their view on these people, that this is wrong?

And this, I was going to say, THIS is why I have a problem with
jury duty (I don't think the jury always gets to hear everything
it ought to because of the game-playing (to WIN) by both sides),
but then Eitan piped in with his question!

>Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 16:51:17 -0400
>From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
>Subject: Greek wisdom
>>  What about the "Greek Wisdom", then.  I suggest (and I think I saw it
>> some- where) that the reference here is to sophistry, a method of
>> argumentation that supposedly allowed you to win whether you were right
>> or wrong (it's described like that in one of Aristophene's plays).  If
>> that is correct it would explain why Rabbi Yishmael wasn't too keen on
>> having people study it.
>But the gemara itself tells us that in order for someone to be eligible to
>sit on the Sanhedrin, they had to be able to argue in 50 different ways
>that a sheretz is tahor, or something like that.  Is this not a case of
>winning an argument, 50 different ways in fact, while being wrong?

I think that the fundamental difference here may be that the Torah system is
trying to train the judges to consider all sides of a question in order to
arrive at the truth and to administer justice; the Greek one is trying
to show you how to win the game.  As a friend of mine used to say,
"Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat!"  If you're studying like
the Greeks, it's wrong.  If you're studying like the Sanhedrin candidates,
it's Torah (in the best of all possible worlds, of course; if they're so
smart, how come they haven't solved the agunah problem yet?  I digress...)

Freda Birnbaum, <FBBIRNBAUM@...>


From: David Chasman <chasman@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1993 12:59:54 -0400
Subject: Yam Shel Shlomo 

I think that the apparent inconsistency between the diameter and 
circumference of the Yam Hamutzak [ Molten Sea - a huge laver in
the first Temple ] can be resolved as follows :

(1) The diameter measurement is "mi-sfato ad sfato" [ brim to brim ]
    ( see Kings I 7:23 ) - we take this to be the diameter from the
    outer lip to the outer lip.  Further, we note that : "ve-avyo tefach
    u'sfato k'maaseh sfat kos perach shoshan" [ its thickness a tefach
    and its brim a creation like a cup of the flower of a lilly ] (7:26).

(2) Since the brim was a sharp point ( a rope wouldn't be stable to being
    drawn tightly around it )  - and in addition, there were knobs just
    below the edge of the bowl ( see 7:24 ) - two possible ways for the
    measurement to be done would be :

    laying a rope along the center of the trough which ran
    around the brim :

       |<--- diameter -------->|

	\     /		\     /
	 | o |           | o |         

           | <-- circ. --->|

	the little o's indicate the rope

    a : N.B. 1 amah = 6 tefach
    b : the following computations are done in tefachim :

	circumference = PI * ( 60 - 1  - 2 * A ) = 180 ( 180 tefach = 30 amah )

	where A is the amount that the flower work stuck out beyond the lip.

	---> A ~= 0.8521 tefach 

	which makes the flowerlike extension of the brim smaller than the
        thickness thereof which could be believable.

(2B) putting the rope below the knobs - this would look like :

      x|                  |x
       o\                 /o
	 \               /

	x = knob
	o = rope ( for measurent )

	once again explaining the apparent PI problems

(3) Of course, 30 could have been a round nummber also.


End of Volume 7 Issue 86