Volume 8 Number 39

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halakha and Modernity
         [Leah S. Reingold]
Help with a Rav Footnote
         [Moshe Raab]
Pikuach Nefesh and Mixed Swimming
         [Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund]
         [Hillel A. Meyers]
Sunrise/Sunset Program
         [Allan Shedlo]
The Missing Nun/Blessed be He
         [Steven Schwartz]
         [Elhanan Adler]


From: <leah@...> (Leah S. Reingold)
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 93 02:06:12 EDT
Subject: Re: Halakha and Modernity

	Mr. Fiorino questions the validity of stretching halakha in
order "to make the modern woman feel more comfortable in Orthodoxy."
Why should we bother to do so?  The answer is simply that if we do not
make Orthodoxy comfortable for modern, intelligent women, then soon
there will be no such women in Orthodoxy.  Think of how many Orthodox,
female, bright scholars there are in the world today (Blu Greenberg,
Devora Steinmetz, Nechama Leibowitz, etc.)--if women had not been
allowed to learn, then either these women would never have found their
niches in life, or else they would have left Orthodoxy in search of a
movement that would not deny them the quest for Jewish knowledge.
Either of these alternatives would have been a crucial loss for Orthodox

	And yet the question of women being taught Judaica is one that
is still up in the air in some Orthodox circles.  Furthermore, just a
few short decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for an Orthodox
woman to seek such education.  Who can estimate how many formerly
Orthodox women in past generations have left the movement in search of
the freedom to learn more about their own heritage...?

	There are other examples; many young Orthodox women today take
for granted their halakhic rights to say kiddush, bench in a 'mizumenet'
when three of them have eaten bread together, celebrate a bat-mitzvah,
or even have a prenuptial agreement ensuring that they will not be left
stranded without a 'get.'  A few years ago, such ideas would have been
considered blasphemous in the Orthodox community; in some branches of
this community, they still are.  Yet these newly rediscovered halakhic
rights--which according to some opinions are 'stretching the halakha,'
but which in fact are directly allowed from the highest sources of
Jewish law--are the reasons that hundreds of Orthodox women do not give
up on their tradition today.

	Orthodoxy has already lost scores of women to the Conservative
movement; any Orthodox woman who wants to reach the ultimate level in
Jewish education, and become a Rabbi, must leave her movement and get
this education elsewhere.  For each such woman, Orthodoxy has lost the
chance to educate another Jewish soul in the most traditional form of
Judaism.  It is ironic that many of the same scholars who send their
daughters to religious schools or institutes that teach women Judaica
(including, at many places, Talmud) would object to women receiving
rabbinical training even in Orthodoxy.  The question of 'semicha' is
another one, but the education at least should be open to all Jews.  But
women are not admitted to YU, for example, which is surely one of the
most respected Jewish learning institutions in the U.S.  I do not
believe that Stern College is a viable alternative; among other reasons,
it has far less educational status than YU because it cannot grant the
same academic degrees.

	The Jewish people no longer live in ghettos or shtetls.  We have
choices about what kind of lifestyle to choose.  If Orthodoxy is
unwelcoming to educated women, then they will be lost forever.  This is
a sacrifice we can ill afford, in the age of intermarriage and rapid
assimilation.  All committed Jews should be thankful that women exist
who are eager to work within halakhic bounds to maintain their faith in
tandem with their moral code that dictates full equality.

	There is another important issue to consider: finding legitimate
options for Orthodox women in the framework of tradtional Jewish law is
far from anti-halakhic.  Even the term 'stretching the halakha,' is
inaccurate.  The source for women to be allowed to say kiddush for both
men and women (and thereby exempt men from their obligation to do so),
for instance, comes directly from traditional halakhic sources.  In
fact, it is precisely the sort of outside influence to which Mr. Fiorino
objects (i.e. sexism, in this case, or the idea that a woman should have
no public role) that made the kiddush ruling all but forgotten in most
Orthodox circles.

	I am not advocating halakhic change based on current morality.
I do believe, however, that the legitimate search for avenues of such
change might be motivated by current morality in this case: the reason
outlined above--that Orthodoxy cannot afford to lose its educated,
involved women--is reason enough to defend research into the appropriate
halakhic areas.

		Leah S. Reingold


From: Moshe Raab <72167.1444@...>
Date: 19 Jul 93 16:09:11 EDT
Subject: Help with a Rav Footnote

Arnie Lustiger recently asked for the source for an anecdote about the 
Rav's grandfather observing sunset on Yom Kipper and commenting that this 
sunset was qualitatively different than all other sunsets because through 
the sunset of Y"K Hasem grants Israel forgiveness.

According to my father, Rabbi Menachem Raab, the source for this is Ish
HaHalacha (Halachic Man) Chapter 7 Page 41 of the Hebrew edition
(published in 1979 by the WZO in Yerushalayim). BTW this anecdote is
about the Rav's father (R' Moshe) and not his grandfater (R' Chaim)


From: sg04%<kesser@...> (Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 93 19:18:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Pikuach Nefesh and Mixed Swimming

This is a problem in Israel!? How about in the the US?  I have been
quite fortunate to live in Boston, which at times, is old-fashioned and
set in its ways. There is a seperate sex beach (which was set up years
ago by Irish priests), and a year round seperate sex pool (the West End
House) which was a boys club set up at the request of some wild Jewish
street kids at the beginning of the century. Some of these old Jewish
boxers and fighters still come there to sit in the shvitz. Leonard Nimoy
was once a member.

As far as halacha goes, I believe the issue is mainly that men should
not see the women, and not the other way around. Thus dressed female
lifeguards should not be a problem.

Most Yiddim seem to be very nearsighted. Does anyone try to use this as
a reason for permitting mixed swimming? :-)

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund		 		  <sgutfreund@...>
GTE Laboratories, Waltham MA			    harvard!bunny!sgutfreund


From: hillelm%<dublin@...> (Hillel A. Meyers)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 93 18:05:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Sunrise/Sunset

   For algorithms for computing sunrise and sunset, the book entitled
"Practical Astronomy with Your Calculator" provides the details.  The
book was written by Patrick Duffett-Smith and published by Cambridge
University Press.  The book is clear and easily understandable for the

   The same author wrote the book, "Practical Astronomy with your
Personal Computer".
Hillel A. Meyers  -  Software Solution Team      | Mail Drop: IL71
Corporate Software Center - Motorola Inc.        | Suite 600
3701 Algonquin Rd, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008 USA | Voice: 708-576-8195
SMTP: <hillelm@...>  X.400-CHM003  | Fax: 708-576-2025


From: <ashedlo@...> (Allan Shedlo)
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 93 18:38:29 -0400
Subject: Sunrise/Sunset Program

For anyone interested, I have C source code for a sunrise/sunset program
which accepts latitude, longitude, and the date, and outputs sunrise,
sunset, and some halachic times.

The original formulas are from a BASIC program in the April 1984 issue
of Astronomy magazine.  It was converted to C and modified by Andrew
Shooman.  The formulas it uses are approximations and will only be
accurate for the next 20 years or so (in spite of what it would seem,
these calculations are non-trivial - check the article for details).

Email your request to me with "SUNRISE" as the subject and I will send
the program and documentation.

Allan Shedlo                                 TEL  (201)909-2910
<ashedlo@...>                    FAX  (201)845-3090
Motorola Nortel - 365 West Passaic St - Rochelle Park, NJ 07662


From: <schwartz@...> (Steven Schwartz)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 93 15:05:30 EDT
Subject: The Missing Nun/Blessed be He

I visited the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Library of Congress last
week in Washington, DC.  Alongside with several parchments, the Library
has a display of information on the Essenes and the Qumran community,
and how it fits into the Jewish timeline.  The exhibit is open until
August 1, and is worth a side trip if you're in the area.

One of the parchments was open to Psalm 145 (the body text of "Ashrei").
Among the curiosities:

(1) There is a verse beginning with the letter Nun:  
    Ne'eman Elokim bid'varav v'chasid b'chol ma'asav
    (G-d is faithful to his word and righteous in all his deeds).
    This letter is omitted from our version of Ashrei, ostensibly
    because Nun is the first letter of a negative verse elsewhere
    (perhaps the moderator can recall which verse).

(2) Each verse is separated by:
    Baruch haShem uvoruch sh'mo l'olam va'ed
    (Blessed be G-d and blessed be His name forever).
    We have no analogy.

(3) Most of the text is written in an old script that resembles ours;
    each occurrence of the four-letter name of G-d is written in a
    geometric script that looks more Phoenician.

Has anyone a clue about these?

	Shimon Schwartz


From: <ELHANAN@...> (Elhanan Adler)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 93 23:39:07 -0400
Subject: Wills

On the subject of wills:

The latest volume of Tehumin (v.13) contains an article "tsava'ah ke-halakha"
(the halakhic will) by Rabbi H.S. Shaanan which discusses this issue in detail
and includes a sample will as used in the Petah Tikvah bet din.

* Elhanan Adler                   University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel          *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-240535  FAX: 972-4-257753    *
* Israeli U. DECNET:      HAIFAL::ELHANAN                                  *
* Internet/ILAN:          <ELHANAN@...>                          *


End of Volume 8 Issue 39