Volume 8 Number 18

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kosher in Boston
         [Charlie Abzug]
Pepsi and the Rabbanut
         [Isaac Balbin]
Talmud Fortran
         [Lucia Ruedenberg]
         [Lon Eisenberg]
Va'ad Ha'hatzolo
         [Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth]
Yam Shel Shlomo (2)
         [Michael Shimshoni, Shaul Wallach]


From: <cabzug@...> (Charlie Abzug)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 18:07:50 -0400
Subject: RE: Kosher in Boston

With respect to the posting on the Frum community in Boston, why is the
MIT Kosher Kitchen not mentioned?  This facility was founded over 30 years 
ago and used to be under the Hashgachah of the Va'ad HaRabonim of Boston.
I was a founding member and the second chairman in its history.  I under-
stand that it is still operating, and would like to know whether its omission
from the list was an error, or whether there has been a change in its 
					Charlie Abzug


From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 93 18:35:40 -0400
Subject: Re: Pepsi and the Rabbanut

I would like to respond to Nachum Issur Babkoff's on Pepsi, which were
largely directed against Shaul Wallach.

The mandate of the Rabbanut is largely irrelevant here.  It only becomes
relevant if and when the secular Government or its Judiciary decides to
act. There is ample precedent the world over of laws which exist and
concerning which people are rarely prosecuted.  If a Rov feels that he
needs to make a Psak [halachik decision] and that Psak might go against
the letter of his secular job description, then he has every right to
test the water and see (like we all do).  Rabbonim most certainly
expressed their Psakim unfettered by Goyim, so I see no more kedusha
[holiness] in a Jewishly authored job description.  Accepting the job
does mean accepting the conditions.  Equally though, abrogating the
conditions does not mean that one must resign. It means that one should
be sacked. The onus is NOT on the employee to resign.

The second point re: Rav Moshe's Psak is a valid one, of course.  It
goes down to a value judgement of the effect of a total ban on the
behaviour of those who would have drunk the Pepsi.  Rav Moshe's American
Kehilla [congregation] is not that of Rav Ovadya's and is not that of
Bnei Brak and is not that of a Rabbanut.

If a Rov has an ulterior motive---viz, to heighten awareness of the
brazen immorality inherent in our society by making such a Psak then
that is the Rov's value judgement and it is entirely proper and with
precedent to implement such value judgements via a Psak.  One cannot
then say Rav A thinks this way because Rav B' value judgement may be
different. Each community should seek the advice of their communal
Rabbi---the man who knows the parameters and limits of his congregation.

As another example, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, may he have a speedy
recovery, held that protests against the Soviets would not help Soviet
Jewry. Other Rabbonim said one should scream and shout. Who was `right?'
Eillo Voeillo Divrei Elokim Chaim [ both Rabbonim are exercising their
right to speak the pre-mandated word of G-d] and we cannot temporally
adjudicate on such META-Halakhic arguments.

If someone wants to argue pure Halacha, viz a viz the laws of putting a
stumbling block in front of the blind etc then I am ready to do
so---these do not entail extra-halakhic value judgements, which I stress
*are entirely proper* for a Rov to make.

I will finish with a relevant statement I read about Reb Moshe Z"TL when
he was asked, `Should a Rov pasken on political matters?' Reb Moshe
replied (the exact words elude me, but they were characteristically
sharp given the implied slight on the judgement of a Rov) in the


From: <RUEDNBRG@...> (Lucia Ruedenberg)
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 21:42:20 -0400
Subject: Talmud Fortran

I'm looking for archives of a discussion that took place around Purim
called "Talmud Fortran". It came to my attention recently and I don't
even know exactly where it took place. If anyone has heard of it, or was
participating in it, please get back to me. If anyone knows where it
might have been archived, please let me know.

thank you.
Lucia Ruedenberg
New York University - Dept. of Performance Studies
Email: <ruednbrg@...>


From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Sun, 4 Jul 93 03:37:25 -0400
Subject: Tekhelet

First, to answer one of my own (previous) questions, having checked in
the Talmudic Encylopedia, when the Rishonim referred to the "Yam
HaMelakh" (as the place where the hilazon lives), they were referring to
the "Salt Sea" (i.e.  the Mediterranean), not the Dead Sea (Benjamin
Svetitsky also mentioned this); so that's why the Hinukh referred to it
that way.  The encylopedia goes on to say that the hilazon is found
between Haifa and Tyre.

Mike Gerver, in his response to my suggestion that we use the Radziner
tekhelet, he stated that according to the Mishna, there may be a problem
with using non-tekhelet dye (that it could "me'akev" the white);
however, the Mehaber states that one should dye the zitzit the same
color as the garment to which they are attached (the Ram"a states that
we don't).  The reason I'm mentioning this is to conclude that is seems
unlikely that dyeing with non-tekhelet could invalidate the zitzit.

As far as zitzit and tekhelet being 2 separate mizvot, that's fine
(although the Hinukh counts them as one mizvah).  Either way, I'm still
confused as to why we are (were) allowed to wear 4-cornered garments
(particularly wool) leading us to go against a positive commandment from
the Torah (tekhelet).  Was the negating of the mizvah of tekhelet
allowable in the same way as negating the mizvah of Shofar (when Rosh
HaShannah falls) on Shabbat (obviously for a different reason)?  Don't
we normally avoid situations leading to mizvot that can't be performed?
e.g., one does not become a Nazir (even though it is a mizvah), since it
is not possible to bring the required offering at the end of the period.

I believe the Torah is dynamic (I get the impression that some of our
leaders view it as static); it has provisions for changes in the world.
Just because a situation (discovery of the hilazon) didn't exist in the
time of the Rishonim, that doesn't mean that now, when it does exist, we
shouldn't handle it; the Torah states clearly what to do.


From: Dr. Sheldon Z. Meth <METH@...>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 20:03:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Va'ad Ha'hatzolo

There are extensive discussions of the activities of the Va'ad in "A Fire in
His Soul," by Amos Bunim (1989, Feldheim, ISBM-0-87306-473-9)

B'Nechomas Tzion V'Yerushalayim


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Jul 93 15:25:20 +0300
Subject: Yam Shel Shlomo

Saul London in his note on pi besides giving the qav gematria which I
had read before, taught me something new that the origin of that idea is
someone from England called Munk.  I have no wish to express an opinion
on the whole pi idea but I was puzzled by Saul London's claim (or is it
also an idea of his brother-in-law Professor Pinchuk?):

>Finally, the Perush Hamishnayot LaRambam in Eruvin (I'm sorry I can't
>cite the location, but it is in the first or second perek.) states that
>the value of pi given is not exact, but that is because of the nature
>of the number (he must have been referring to it being irrational) and
>not because of our inability to compute it.  This is also very
>interesting, because it was way before pi was known to be irrational.

I admit I do not have at the moment access to the Rambam, thus I do not
know what was the original term used for "nature of the number".  I just
do not think that this has to be taken as some prophetic talent of the
Rambam on irrational numbers, he could just have meant that it was a
number (actually about 30 for the circumference) not easily expressed in
the Tanakh.  One really cannot expect that the circumference of the yam
would have been given as 3330/106 or any other *rational* number
(220/7?).  In the Rambam's time even complicated rational numbers were
not readily expressed.

Michael Shimshoni

From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 93 06:29:09 -0400
Subject: Yam Shel Shlomo

     Saul London writes as follows about the Yam Shel Shlomo, in the
name of Prof. Bernard Pinchuk:

>The gemara in "eruvin" states that the ratio between the circumference
>and diameter is 3, and quotes the pasuk in "Melachim". The real interest
>is why the gemara (actually Mishna) gives us such information which is a
>mathematical fact. Even more difficult is why the gemara subsequently
>asks "menah haneh mili" how do we know this, and then, even more
>astounding, the Gemara answers "Myam shel Shlomo".  Why back up a
>mathematical fact with a pasuk and not a proof or a reference to the
>mathematicians?  The answer is that the mishnah is giving us a HALACHA.
>In halachic matters, we should calculate things like "tchum shabat" or
>size of a succah part using pi=3. Now, the gematria sort of comes to say
>"yes, the pasuk teaches us the halacha that pi=3, but also recognizes
>that the true value is different".

     I'm not sure about this. See the Tosafot on `Eruvin 14a ("Weha'ika
Mashehu"), who hold that the measurement was intended to be accurate.
The Rambam (on `Eruvin 1:5, R. Yosef Qafeh's translation from the
original Arabic is more reliable than the standard text) cites the works
of mathematicians who gave the more accurate value of 3 1/7. He adds
that since the number cannot be obtained with complete accuracy, the
Sages sufficed with giving it to the nearest whole number. However, this
doesn't mean that the most exact value is not to be used in practice.
Thus, in giving the minimum dimensions of a round Sukka, the Rambam
(Hilkot Sukka 4:7) and the Shulhan `Arukh (Orah Hayyim 634:2) require
simply that it must circumscribe a square having 7 by 7 handbreadths.
They completely ignored the approximate analysis in the Talmud (Sukka
7a-b), relying, I believe, on the ability of someone to perform an
actual measurement if the need should arise.

>Finally, the Perush Hamishnayot LaRambam in Eruvin (I'm sorry I can't
>cite the location, but it is in the first or second perek.) states that
>the value of pi given is not exact, but that is because of the nature of
>the number (he must have been referring to it being irrational) and not
>because of our inability to compute it. This is also very interesting,
>because it was way before pi was known to be irrational.

    See his commentary on `Eruvin 1:5 and 2:5. In the latter he gives a
more exact value (70 5/7) for the square root of 5000 than that which
the Talmud gives.

Shaul Wallach


End of Volume 8 Issue 18