Volume 8 Number 21

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bone Marrow Donations
         [Sol Lerner]
Israeli Jews in Exile
         [Jay F Shachter]
Pepsi and Coca Cola
         [Shaul Wallach]


From: <slerner@...> (Sol Lerner)
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 11:43:48 -0400
Subject: Bone Marrow Donations

Mechael Kanovsky writes:
>The procedure is very simple, local anestesia is applied to 
>the hip area and then when every thing is nice and numb the doctor inserts
>a needle into the hip bone and then draws up the marrow. It is a weird 
>feeling and you feel sore for some time (for me it was a day) but it is no
>more dangerous than donating blood.
> The gemorah states (I am writing from memory so I can't give the exact
>place) "kol hamatzil nefesh echad ke'illu hetzil olam malleh" he who saves
>one life is just like he saved a whole world. There are some versions that
>add the word "kol hamatzil nefesh echad ME'YISRAEL" i.e. he who saves one
>person from the nation of Israel but from the reasons that the talmud brings
>it seems to favor the first version.
> From both these reasons, one that it is not at all a dangerous procedure
>and two, that there is a mitzva to save any human it would seem that one
>has an obligation to do so. Also the way they match up the blood types for
>the bone marrow the odds of a jew from the same origin (eastern european
>etc.) matching some other jew is much higher than a matching for a non
>jew. Also if giving bone marrow was such a graet danger than one would
>not be obligated to do it for a jew either.
>mechael kanovsky

This is not so simple.  Rav Moshe (Choshen Mishpat I, Siman 103)
essentially says that we are not allowed to give blood for money because
of the prohibition of injuring ourselves.  (BTW, money is a possible
source for leniency here, look at the responsa for details.)  He states
that this is not considered "saving a life" because 1. the sick person
is not in front of us and 2. who knows if it will save the life of a
person who is of the status that we "push off prohibitions for him."  He
does go on to say that in the case of giving blood, there is "a big
reason" to permit it because bloodletting is therapeutic and it is done
almost completely without pain.  Therefore, whoever wants to be lenient
should be allowed to.

The implications are that the danger of the procedure is not the only
problem-- how much it hurts is also pertinent.  Also, care must be taken
when using "saving a life" as a justification.  (What the full list of
necessary and sufficient parameters are is probably a nice discussion.)

Aimee Yermish writes:
>To get on the bone marrow registry list is an easy and basically
>painless process (they take a few tablespoons of blood from your arm,
>one sharp pinch and the whole thing's done in a few seconds, and you
>won't even notice missing that amount of blood), and you might just save
>someone's life.  Contact your local blood bank.  People who look at
>getting bone marrow transplants are people who are going to certainly
>die very soon without them (as certain as anything in medicine can be),
>some of the most desperate patients.  Personally, I would strongly
>recommend everyone to get on the registry.  It seems odd that pikuach
>nefesh would only apply to other Jews, especially in a case where one
>does not have to put one's own health at risk.

 From the Responsa above, it would seem to be better if a lot of blood were
taken rather than just a few tablespoons.  Maybe this procedure can be done
while donating blood?  It seems like the actual process of donating the
marrow may be easier to justify because the sick person IS right in front
of us.  Furthermore, as was discussed in other postings on saving the life
of a non-Jew, donation to a non-Jew may be justified by Darchei Shalom
(peaceful ways). 

Danny Wolf writes:
>Injuring oneself is certainly prohibited and here the issue is whether 
>just refuah is permitted or any constructive act.  Rav Moshe Feinstein 
>has a responsa on cosmetic surgery (not reconstructive which is deemed to 
>be refuah) and my memory is he allows it for justifiable cause even if it 
>is not medicinal or therapeutic.  I heard that the Rav interpreted the 
>Rambam otherewise, although it was not said as psak at all.  I would 
>think however that blood donations are a similar issue.  Besides the 
>interesting talmudic discourse and issues involved, let us weigh in our 
>moral repugnance at idle chatter disallowing a human being stricken from 
>leukemia a chance of recovery.  This too is a halachic argument and no 
>posek would arrive at any other conclusion.

I do not know where this responsa is, but the above quoted one would
seem to argue otherwise unless the argument was that relief from the
psychological distress of not having the surgery is considered

BTW, several months after I read the above responsa, I read an article
in US News and World Report that there is a respectible amount of
research that blood letting is therapeutic for many people.  According
to this research, there are many people who have a high level of
blood-iron.  This level, which can be reduced through periodic blood
donations, causes heart problems...

Sol Lerner
GTE Laboratories


From: <jay@...> (Jay F Shachter)
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 93 00:55:53 -0400
Subject: Israeli Jews in Exile

On June 16th, Morris Podolak wrote,

	"When Pesach will no longer be in the Spring as apparently
	 required by the Torah, then we will have to make an adjustment.
	 Hopefully, Mashiach will come before then."

I am deliberately taking Mr. Podolak's statement somewhat out of
context, because his statement does not follow logically from its most
proximate predecessor.  He was most recently talking about the growing
discrepancy between the statutory and astronomical winter solstice,
which has nothing to do with the date of Pesach, except insofar as we
have to stop saying "vten tal" on Pesach, which means that if things do
not change we will eventually have to begin saying "vten tal" after the
day when he have to stop saying it (that would be interesting -- I
wonder if we then would start saying it for a 353-day period).  But the
article to which Mr.  Podolak attempted to reply addressed two somewhat
different issues, the growing (and much smaller) discrepancy between the
statutory new moon and the astronomical new moon, and -- an entirely
different issue -- the discrepancy between the length of the solar year
and the length of the average Jewish year.  The lunar month is
approximately 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.78 seconds, whereas
the statutory month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 and a third
seconds.  The solar year is approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes,
and 46 seconds, whereas the average Jewish year is very nearly 365 days,
5 hours, 55 minutes, and 25 seconds.  Mr. Podolak correctly points out
that these approximations are much more accurate than the approximation
which is used to calculate the statutory solstice (a solar year of 365
days 6 hours is used to calculate the statutory solstice), but he is
wrong to jump from there to any statement about Pesach, because the
statutory solstice has no bearing whatsoever on the date of Pesach -- it
only affects when the Babylonian Jews should start saying "vten tal".
And we American Jews shouldn't be saying "vten tal" when the Iraqi Jews
are supposed to say it anyway, and if I had the power to change the
custom I would.  (I don't even know if there are any Iraqi Jews left who
are still saying "vten tal", but that's a different topic, albeit a
probably more important one.)

But let me take Mr. Podolak's statement out of context, because he
approaches an interesting question.  We certainly have a mitzva, or more
precisely the community has a communal mitzva, to effect a calendar in
which Pesach falls during the Spring, at least on average.
Nevertheless, we know that there are large and well-respected
communities in South Africa, Argentina, and Australia that do not
observe Pesach during the Spring (well, let's reserve the issue of how
well-respected the Australians are -- after all, they might not be
observing Shabbat on the right day).  That's okay, because those
communities are communities in exile, and it isn't the communities in
exile who have to observe Pesah during the Spring, it's only the
community which is not in exile.

Given all that, let us now consider: Do we not also say that there is a
sense in which the Israeli community is also in Exile?  Do we not say
that we are all in Galut, that Galut Edom has not ended, even for the
Jews residing in Israel?  Admittedly we American Jews are in a bigger
Galut, or maybe a more intense Galut, or a more saturated Galut, but
nonetheless the difference is a difference in degree, not a difference
in kind.  Now, the Argentinans and the South Africans (and maybe even
the Australians, unless they are one and all guilty of publicly
desecrating Shabbat, other than the handful who live in Perth) have
compelled us to excuse the residents of Galut from observing Pesach
during the Spring.  Could we extend the excuse to the Jews of Israel as
well?  Should we fail to reconstitute the Sanhedrin sometime within the
next hundred thousand years or so, we will no doubt continue using the
same table-driven calendar we have been using for approximately the past
1635 years.  Given enough time, it is inevitable that, indeed, Pesach
according to this calendar will no longer fall during the Spring.  Will
the Israeli community have to "make an adjustment" to the calendar at
that point?  Might they be excused from doing so?  In other words, does
the first commandment in the Torah addressed to the nation of Israel
apply to an Israel in Exile, or does it apply only to an Israel not in

What are your thoughts on this question?

			Jay F ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St
			Chicago IL  60645-4111
			(1-312)7613784 - <jay@...>


From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 93 14:08:53 -0400
Subject: Pepsi and Coca Cola

     My colleague Nachum Issur Babkoff has posted some very thoughtful
comments on the issue of granting a kashrut hekhsher where the person
getting the hekhsher violates halakha in matters not directly related to
the kashrut of the food being prepared. So far, this issue has been
discussed from two main aspects, the political and the halakhic.

     As far as the political aspect goes, the fact that the official
rabbinate is, as Nachum quoted R. Shlomo Pick as saying, "mi-ta`am"
(i.e. sponsored by the state and subject to secular laws) makes it
harder for them (in comparison with private rabbinic groups) to act
according to halakhic guidelines alone. This is, incidentally, one point
in favor of Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz' argument for the separation of
religion from the state in Israel, although I do not have either the
time or the knowledge to discuss this issue intelligently now, nor do I
wish to express an opinion on it.

     It is easier for me at this moment to discuss the purely halakhic
aspect. Here is what Nachum wrote on this (since he apparently quotes
Rav Moshe from memory, I checked him out in print, and apologize for
some minor corrections):

>In Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah Responsa 52 (or 54) Reb Moshe was asked the
                                     it is 52 indeed (Part 1 Yore De`a)

>following: Apparently, there was this secular sports center operating
>in New Mexico (perhaps a J.C.C.?), and the Rabbi wanted to know
    should be Mexico

>if he may give a hechsher, subject to the clubs stipulation that
>people who finished a meat meal would be allowed to have ice-cream for
>dessert, if they so wished (milk ice-cream), provided, of course, that
>the ice cream would be served in seperate dishes?
>To this Reb Moshe not only responded in the affirmitive, but stated:
>A. The hechsher (he calls it the Piece of paper) does not tell people
>that the people running the place are Tzadikim (rightuous), rather
>that the FOOD was properly prepared.
>M'ISSUREI MA'ACHALOT ASSUROT" (!) ("And there is an added factor, that
>by doing this - giving a hechsher - he will be saving many souls from
>the prohibition of forbidden foods").

     The printed edition reads: "We-zekhut gadol hu le-KTR"H (= Kavod
Torato Ha-Rama) bama sheyazil alfei nefashot mima'akhalot asurot."
("And it is a great credit to the honor of his high Torah - a reference
to R. Avigdor, the one who posed the question (S.W.) - that he will save
thousands of souls from forbidden foods.")

     Rav Moshe continues: "And even to prevent the wicked, as is
possible, from transgressing prohibitions is a great mizwa." Thus Rav
Moshe agrees himself that the local rabbinate should act in whatever way
it can to prevent sin, even if it is not strictly connected with the
kashrut of the food being supervised.

>Rav Ovadyah Yoseph has a similar response.

     See Yabia` Omer, Pt. 4 Yore De`a 7.

>So you see, while the Rabbanim are attempting to save the secular
>public's souls from "Idea's", they are, at least according to Reb
>Moshe, leaving them with possible Issurei Torah (if these companies
>start producing on Shabbat, giving up on hechsherim altogether).

     But there is no issur (prohibition) at all of eating (after
Shabbat) what someone else has cooked on Shabbat, according to the
Shulhan `Arukh (Orah Hayyim 318:1).

     Both Rav Moshe (at the beginning of his response to Rabbi Avigdor)
and Rav Ovadia stress that it is not permissible to allow one to
transgress even a Rabbinical prohibition in order to save him from an
even more serious Biblical prohibition, even if this leads the
transgressor to apostacy. However, Rav Ovadia adds that in our era of
democracy ("each person does that what is right in his eyes" - Judges)
it takes a lot of wisdom and understanding to weigh things so as not to
lose people completely.

     I have presented this introduction in an endeavor to show that even
within the limits of halakha, each case has to be considered on its own
merits. The cases Rav Moshe and Rav Ovadia addressed both dealt with
restaurants that would have definitely served unkosher food in the
absence of a hekhsher from the local rabbinate. Granting a hekhsher
would save some people from sin and was considered the lesser evil.
However, I view the case of Pepsi differently. For one thing, the case
dealt with a product, not a restaurant. Withholding a hekhsher would not
necessarily cause people to drink unkosher Pepsi, because it is unlikely
that Pepsi would change its production methods as a result of such
withholding. On the other hand, the rabbis saw that there was a good
chance that putting pressure on Pepsi would lead to a reduction of
public desecration of the Shabbat and indecent advertising. Thus, Pepsi
did not stipulate in advance, as did the restaurants Rav Moshe and Rav
Ovadia dealt with, that acceptance of supervision would be conditional
on their right to transgress other prohibitions. This difference is one
of those that put the rabbinate in a stronger position with respect to
Pepsi - there was simply a greater chance that the public rebuke would
succeed (as I understand that it did). I think the rabbis used the
proper sense of judgment.


Shaul Wallach


End of Volume 8 Issue 21