Volume 7 Number 95

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chazzanus Positions
         [Yossi Wetstein]
Greek Wisdom
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Learning in the Bathroom (3)
         [Isaac Balbin, Danny Skaist, Allen Elias]
Loss of Relatives
         [Turkel Eli]
No. of letters in the Torah: Revisited
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Pikuach Nefesh
         [Sigrid Peterson]
Various Items


From: <jpw@...> (Yossi Wetstein)
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 93 11:47:08 -0400
Subject: Chazzanus Positions

If anyone knows of any openings for Ba'ale Tefillah for Rosh HaShana
and Yom Kippor, please contact me. Repertoire includes Shacharis, Mussaf,
Layning, and Shofer. References available; mechitza shul only.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yossi Wetstein


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 19:09:24 -0400
Subject: Greek Wisdom

> From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)

> >Eitan Fiorino
> >2.  The second gemara (menachot 99b--R. Yishmael tells his nephew to
> >    find a time which is neither day not night to study Greek wisdom)
> >    deals with Greek wisdom, and we don't know what that is.
>                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> What, exactly, "Greek wisdom" is, seems to be the biggest point in the whole
> discussion.  The Chazal showed a lot of knowledge about all the sciences.
> Everything from medicine, to the size of the world is discussed in the
> gemorra.

But we are not talking about Chazal as an entity here.  We are talking
about one tanna, who held that the obligation to study Torah was present day
and night, and that one had a heter from this chiuv of talmud torah to go
out and earn a living.  His statement that one should find a time that is
neither day nor night to study Greek wisdom is an allusion to the pasuk in
Joshua which I mentioned in my last posting, and indicates his position
that the chiuv of talmud torah applies day and night (with the exception
of earning a living).  Just because R. Yishmael held this way doesn't say
anything about how the other tannaim and amoraim held.  Obviously, others
may have learned various sciences or whatever.  And we've already seen another
tanna who doesn't even give a heter to earn a living.

Furthermore, just because chazal engage in a discussion of the size of the
world does not mean that they advocated setting aside time to study such
questions.  Similarly, just because they demonstrated incredible
understanding of the human condition and insight into psychology does not
mean they advocated setting aside time to study the human condition.

Eitan Fiorino

Note: the opinions in this posting are not necessarily the opinions of the


From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 19:09:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Learning in the Bathroom

  | I've wondered about this issue for a while.  In today's North American
  | society, many bathrooms are spotless, completely clean-smelling and
  | generally the complete antithesis of a stinky outhouse.

  | Should the same rules apply?  I'm thinking about the issue of
  | not saying a brocha in the bathroom, for example.  If you want to drink
  | a glass of water and you're in your perfectly clean bathroom (with the
  | toilet seat down, for that matter), why should you not be able to make
  | the brocha without taking your glass out of the bathroom?

The question of whether you can make an Al N'tillas Yodayim in an open
plan bathroom where the toilet is in a corner is directly relevant. You
want to wash for bread, the bathroom is spanking clean, there is a
toilet in the corner, seat down, and you want to dry your hands in that
room making the Brocha.  There is the issue of physical cleanliness, and
the issue of pervading Ruach Ra [bad spiritual? atmosphere]. There are
Poskim that hold that the two are not entirely interconnected, and that
even if it is physically clean, it may not be spiritually appropriate.
Such considerations would stem from those who use more kabbalistic input
to their Psak. Others say that the two are directly related and that if
it is clean, it is clean. You can see a discussion of this in the first
book of Yabia Omer, by Rav Ovadya Yosef, and in Minchas Yitzchok from
the late Dayan Weiss, Z"L. The former is more stringent than the latter,
from memory.

Note: this consideration takes into account the difference between
the toilets of today and those of yesteryear.

From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 93 05:22:47 -0400
Subject: Learning in the Bathroom

>Elisheva Schwartz
>2. As I understand it, our modern bathrooms and better hygienic
>conditions put the impure status of bathrooms into question.  (My
>impression is that the prohibition was originally in connection with an
>outhouse-like facility.) If so, this renders the whole issue a bit of a
>safek (ie. questionable).

The gemorra refers to two types of outhouses,(and how halacha differs for
both of them). One which has already been used, and one which has been built
for the purposes but has never been used.  Our modern facilities, when
clean, have the halacha of a new unused outhouse.


From: Allen Elias <100274.346@...>
Date: 23 Jun 93 14:19:43 EDT
Subject: Learning in the Bathroom

Reply to Elisheva Schwartz and Anonymous vol.7 #87

The Chazon Ish on Orech Chaim 17 says that our modern bathrooms do not
have the same halocha as the beit kiseh (outhouse) but it is still
better to refrain from any holy activities. Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, Yechave
Daat, also says to refrain from anything holy there.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 5:11 says that one should not think about
anything holy in the bathhouse not even to say Shalom, which is the name
of Hashem. I would assume that our bathrooms have the same halocha as a
bathhouse because bathhouses were usually kept clean. Noone went to the
toilet inside the bathhouse.

The Mishna Brura 84:3 says the inner room of the bathhouse where people
bathe has the same din as a beit kiseh because its purpose is for people 
use it when they are undressed. Even when noone is there one should not
engage in holy activities.


From: Turkel Eli <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 93 08:36:03 -0400
Subject: Loss of Relatives

     I do not have my books with me but I remember reading a moving
article of Devora Wohlgelenter on the loss of relatives. If any one
else knows the exact reference it would be appreciated.

Eli Turkel


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 93 11:23:51 -0700
Subject: No. of letters in the Torah: Revisited

A while ago there was some discussion about the discrepancy between the
number of letters found in our Sifrei Torah vs. the Mesorah.

I found, in the Sefer "Mavo L'torah shebichtav v'shbe'al peh", a
discussion of this particular issue. In particular, he is disturbed over
the fact that the "vav" in the word "gachon", which we have by mesorah,
as being the center of the Torah is off by several thousand letters.

Furthermore, there is a chazal that "there are 600,000 letters in the
Torah". This is almost double what we have.

To answer these problems, he quotes a Rav Saadya Gaon (relatively
recent) who counted the letters himself and came up with 792,707

Clearly, this cannot be a simple straightforward count, as it is
inconceivable that Rav Saadya Gaon's Torah was radically different then

Therfore, he postulates, we must assume that there was a different way
of counting. One possibility is that every letter was counted as a moleh
(e.g. the letter aleph would be counted as 3, because in full, an aleph
is spelled "aleph","lamed", "peh".)

Another possibility is that each letter is composed of several letters:
e.g. that an aleph is really composed of a "vav" (diagonal), and a "yud"
on top and on the bottom. This pattern can be extended to other letters
as well.

Also, he says, that perhaps the spaces between letters may also count
towards the total.

Presumably, there may be other possibilties as well. Or it may be a
combination of some of these. But certainly, it cannot be understood at
face value.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <petersig@...> (Sigrid Peterson)
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 93 02:36:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Pikuach Nefesh

Bob Werman asked "Does a Jew have a responsibility to save the life of a
non-Jew?" [pikuach nefesh] I do not see how a certain identification can
be made; one could only act on the preponderance of evidence in most cases
of rendering assistance to a stranger. Even an Arab may be a Jew--I happen
to have known one. And I'd have bled to death in Salt Lake City, Utah, 
waiting for a Jewish team of paramedics to take me to the LDS Hospital after
I was hit by a car. I would think that unless/if someone is highly likely
to be a rodef [pursuer] in the future, the necessity of saving a life might
diminish--a guard at Auschwitz, a physically abusive spouse?--otherwise,
how can the distinction be made? What difference makes a difference?

Sigrid Peterson  UPenn  <petersig@...>


From: Applicom <benavrhm@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1993 00:37:27 +0300
Subject: Various Items

[Please do not batch several topics together in one mailing. Send each
one individually. Mod.]

Individual Kedusha

In v7n68 Barry Siegel asks about the practice of an individual saying the
first three blessings of the amidah and kedusha in the presence of a minyan
that has already finished their tfilla.

The custom in generally known as "pores al shma" and can be done for either
shaharit or minha. It is written in the mehaber, hilcot tfila, pores al
shma, siman samec tet. This halaca is not related to the hazarat hashats
discussion we had previously.

The mehaber states also that if the individual who comes in late and wants
to say kedusha is not capable of saying it himself, he can ask one of those
who has already prayed to say it for him (!).

Bircat HaCohanim

In private post David Rosenstark remarks about who's doing the blessing
when the cohanim say bircat hacohanim. Some readers may find the sources

>I read this concept in Rav Sa'adia Gaon's sefer -- Emunot vede'ot. I
>believe that it is a machloket whether the kohein himslef blesses the
>people (see Rashi on vesamu et shemi) or kohein acting as a tzinor --
>see Rav Sa'adia Gaon. You can post this to mail-jewish if you want.
>A little busy at work lately.
>- David Rosenstark

In any event, whether the blessing comes from the cohen, or the cohen is
just an intermediary, saying the blessing is still a mitsvat aseh min ha
tora. And if you want to legitimately prevent a person from doing a mitsvat
aseh min hatora you should make sure you really know your stuff.

Hazak uvaruc David

Bathroom Learning

In v7n65 Barry H. Rodin asks "What is the basis...?" and in v7n70 Michael
Allen replies:

>The basis is a baraita ("external mishna") quoted by a Tanna in front
>of R' Nachman, as discussed in Megillah 27b.

Hazak uvaruc Michael

I did my own paper chase on this an came up with the following:

1. The mehaber states in hilcot tfilla siman tsade halaca 26 that "any
   place you can't say shma you can't pray there either, and as we remove
   ourselves from feces, urine, foul odors, corpses and nakedness for kriat
   shma, we do the same for tfila"

2. The mishna brura states on the above, footnote pe bet, "And this is the
   rule for learning torah and all things holy."

3. The beer hagola (on the upper left corner of the same page) notes the
   source for this as the rambam's hilcot tfila, chapter 4.

4. In the above rambam (sefer ahava) hilcot tfila, chapter 4, halaca het
   learning tora is mentioned. I could not find this prohibition mentioned
   in the rambam's hilcot talmud tora. The commentary on the rambam says
   here that the rambam's source is talmud bavli masecet bracot, chapter
   3, mishna 3 (gmara caf vav amud aleph) where there is a discussion of
   saying kriat shma in or besides a functional bathroom, a new bathroom
   that has never been used, a bathroom that is out of order and is no
   longer in use.

Try as I might, I was not able to find anything more directly tied to
talmud tora or hihure tora (tora thoughts) in the mehaber.


Jonathan Ben-Avraham


End of Volume 7 Issue 95