Volume 7 Number 94

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dem Bones, Again
         [Reuven Jacks]
Good Times to Come
         [Rivkah Isseroff]
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Women Reading from the Torah
         [Sol Lerner]


From: <GJACKS@...> (Reuven Jacks)
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 17:34:54 -0400
Subject: Dem Bones, Again

In response to a question asked by <fbbirnbaum@...>, there
actually is a way of finding out what the origin of bones are. I am the
one who originally asked the question, and in response to the answer I
received, I contacted not the Chevra Kadisha, but the Professor of
Anatomy at my University. He told me that when they get a cadaver,
(usually after the medical students have finished dissecting it) they
take all the flesh off by a chemical process. They do each body
individually, and before they put the bones in storage, each bone (of
which there are 206) is marked with a number. This number is a reference
to a file with the personal details of that cadaver.

I was told by the professor that I could have the details of my bones
checked up, but under no circumstances would names be given to me. He
said that if there is no religion on the file, then I will be able to
swap the bones for a black man's bones, the chances of (In South Africa)
them being from a Jew are nil.

In answer to your question, the bones can be traced. I still do not
know how the Chevra Kadisha themselves can trace it.

It has been a pleasure speaking with you.

 |  Reuven Jacks - Dr. in training                  |
 |  Internet: <gjacks@...>   |


From: Rivkah Isseroff <rrisseroff@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 17:35:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Good Times to Come 

On Tues 15 June, Freda Birnbaum wrote:
>I look forward to the day, it should come soon already, when there will
>be no more need for anyone to say Kaddish; but till then , I look forward
>to the day, it should also come soon, when women will not have to deal
>with questions like this anymore.

 From one who has been a "lurker", this prompts me to raise my voice (or
in this case, my fingertips to the keyboard) to say a hearty "Y'asher
Cochacheich" , or the appropriate "Binyan" for "Y'asher Coach", to Ms.
Birnbaum.  It SHOULD come soon, let's hope in our lifetime.

Rivkah Isseroff


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 17:34:50 -0400
Subject: Oneis

Thanks to those who replied to my questions on oneis.  However, I am not
looking for general philosophical answers, but instead a halachic
analysis of the relevant Jewish sources.

For instance, in Avoda Zara, there is an amora (I forgot who) who holds
that there is no idolatry outside of eretz yisrael.  Why?  Because they
are simply following in the traditions of their ancestors.  Now this
sounds to me that for the example of avoda zara, there may be a concept
of tinuk shenishba even for non-Jews.

Kibi Hofmann wrote, regarding R. Chaim's position on the ikkarim:

> 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].

This is not how the Chazon Ish holds (which I quoted back in my posting
on Tolerance, v7#67, I think).  I think (but I'm not sure) that his
decision that "raised in captivity" applies even to the ikarim is, in
general, how we hold today.  This makes sense -- if a Jew is really
kidnapped as a child and raised in captivity, how is he supposed to
"work it out for himself" that the Mashiach will come?  And the whole
point of classifying someone as tinuk shenishba is because they CAN'T
make it their business to find out.

> 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...

I do not believe that is is mutar to exclude such a person from a 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 asked the question for a very simple reason -- if non-Jews can have
the status as "raised in captivity" regarding the sheva mitzvot, then it
follows that a Jew raised among such Gentiles would have the same din.
If, on the other hand, there is no concept of "raised in captivity" by
non-Jews, then a Jew raised among Gentiles who don't know about the
sheva mitzvot would still be "responsible" for the sheva mitzvot.  (By
"responsible" I mean that the status of tinuk shenishba would not extend
to the sheva mitzvot, although it would cover the other mitzvot.)
Secondly, if non-Jews are held chaiv for the sheva mitzvot even if they
are not aware of them, then whatever responsibility the Jewish people
have for making non-Jews aware of the sheva mitzvot is that much

> I don't think anyone is going to say that ignorance of the law is an
> excuse, particularly with such basic points as murder, cruelty to animals
> and theft.

First, the issue is not "excusing" someone because of lack of knowledge.
Halachically, they are not patur because of their status as "raised in
captivity."  But halachically, we (as observant Jews) have a different
response to a non-observant Jew "raised in captivity" and one not
"raised in captivity."  And it doesn't necessarily matter what we feel
-- I may feel that "raised in captivity" should not apply to the din of
sending away the mother bird.  All that matters is the halachic status
of the person "raised in captivity" vis a vis specific aveirot.  An
example -- a guy raised as a Protestant who finds out at the age of 30
that his maternal grandmother was Jewish.  We can "excuse" this person
eating treif, or not sending away the mother bird, because he was raised
in captivity.  (I do not want to define how I use the word "excuse" in
that sentence, because it is not clear to me exactly how the din of
tinuk shenishba affects the halachic evaluation of such a person.
Clearly, when this person eats trief it is a different act than when a
person who has been in yeshiva all his life decides to give up being
frum and eats treif. It is this difference to which I refer by the word
"excuse."  I realize that we do not remove a person's chiuv to keep
kosher, etc. by classifying him as "raised in captivity," but I cannot
think of a better word to use.)  Now what if that person was raised in a
cannabilistic tribe in a jungle somewhere -- may we now "excuse" his
cannabilism?  Or if he was raised on a farm in the midwest -- may we now
"excuse" his bestiality (not meant to be a slur on either farms or the
midwest, just an example.)  Again, keep in mind the way I am using the
word "excuse."

As a side note, I might mention that there are poskim who feel that the
child of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, when raised completely
outside of Judaism, may not be Jewish at all.  See R. Bleich's
_Contemporary Halachic Problems_ (volume 2, I believe).

> Nowadays the world is pretty weak on belief in God, idol worship and
> Arayos but does living with the zeitgeist really constitute "captivity"? 

This is exactly what Rav Kook said (again, quoted in my posting on
Tolerance) -- he used the language "seduced by the zeitgeist."

> 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.

Again, this is not an issue of people being given a license to sin.  No
one is arguing whether they are sinning -- they are.  The issue is this
-- if a sinning Jew has the din of "raised in captivity," our response
to him is different (ie, we are commanded to love him) than if he no
longer has this din.  So, to take our Jew raised by cannibals -- he
clearly has the din of "raised in captivity" as far as our response to
his eating cheeseburgers, or not believing in the Mashiach goes.  But
does that din extend to his other (rather antisocial) dietary habit?  I
don't care if it "seems" like it shouldn't.  I want to know the
halachah.  I want sources.  We all can agree (probably) that it doesn't
"seem" like the din of tinuk shenishba should extend that far.  But is
that true halachically?  And what about our friend the farmer -- do his
amorous activities fall under the din of "raised in captivity?"

> 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.

First of all, nowhere was it suggested that we "be friends" with those
who hate us.  Second, there is a mitzvah aseh min haTorah to love Jews.
Hillel considered this to be the fundamental mitzvah of the Torah (yeshu
later co-opted his statement).  I don't think we should treat this
mitzvah lightly.  We all agree (though we might sometimes forget) that
the thisrd-generation Reform Jew down the block falls into the category
of tinuk shenishba, andd that we are commanded to love him or her.  But
I am interested in how far this category can extend.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <slerner@...> (Sol Lerner)
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 17:35:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Women Reading from the Torah

>From: <rena@...> (Rena Whiteson)
>> From: <edell@...> (Steve Edell)
>> The problem as I understand it for women to be called up to the Torah is
>> not with the women, but with the weaker species, us men.  Our thoughts
>> during _dovening_ (prayer) should try to be as 'pure', as infocus, as
>> possible.  Most guys I know, esp. including me, won't be able to do that
>> with pretty & young women going to the Torah all the time.
>I am referring to the concept that one group of people (men) are weak,
>and another group (women) have to bear the responsibilty or pay the
>price for that weakness.  In the example above, if a man cannot keep his
>mind on his prayers when a "pretty young woman" is going to the Torah,
>he should take responsibility for it and stay home, or wear blinders or
>do whatever it takes.  Why should the woman be penalized by being
>excluded from this important community activity?

My understanding of the general issue (this actually comes from a talk that
I heard many years ago-- unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the
speaker) is this:  There are two ways that Judaism is transmitted through
the generations-- through the home and through the community.  The primary
RESPONSIBILITY of the man is maintaining the community (e.g. Minyan,
working for a living) and the primary RESONSIBILITY of the woman is
maintaining the home (e.g. childrearing, lighting Shabbat candles (Shalom
Bayit), Taharat Hamishpacha [family purity]).  This DOESN'T mean that a
woman can't go to Minyan or that a man can't take care of his children, but
that their primary responsibilities and, consequently, the focus of the
Mitzvot are oriented in a certain way.

Using this understanding, and the principle of Areivut (responsibility for
a fellow Jew's actions) I think it is easy to understand the argument. 
Since going to Minyan, a communal act, is the primary responsibility of the
man, anything that may hinder the proper of fulfillment of this act,
especially by people not responsible for it, should be avoided.  This is
further strengthened by the fact that women (as well as men) ARE
responsible for the actions of a fellow Jew.

>The situation is
>similar in the rules for modest dress for women.  Why should a married
>woman have to cover her hair whenever there is a man around?  It's a
>very big nuisance, and she has no problem.  Why can't she walk around
>with her hair exposed like everyone else? If a man cannot look at her
>without having 'impure' thoughts he should look elsewhere.  Surely his
>thoughts should be his own responsibility, not the responsibility of
>every single woman in the world.

Actually, I don't believe that this is a similar situation.  There are
those who argue that covering hair is a gizeirat hakatuv [an unexplained
decree of the Torah].  Even for those who consider it an Ervah [modesty]
issue, the reason for the Issur [prohibition] of Ervah is not discussed in
the Torah as is the case with most of the other Mitzvot.  One may postulate
that the laws of modesty have as much (or more) to do with conditioning the
individual than with what other people will see.  Another example of such a
Mitzvoh is Tzizit.

Shlomo Lerner
GTE Laboratories


End of Volume 7 Issue 94