Volume 9 Number 5
                       Produced: Sat Sep  4 22:19:19 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Calculating the Calendar
         [Mike Gerver]
High Tech Yichud
         [Andy Goldfinger]
International Dateline
         [Eric W. Mack]
Mechitza styles
         [Steve Prensky]
Policies about Jewish and other Religious Holidays
         [Dan Geretz]
Query re spiritual/intellectual plane of Hazal
         [Menachem Kellner]
Women and minyan
         [Neil Parks]


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1993 1:37:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Calculating the Calendar

In accordance with the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l, recently
quoted in this list, that one should not stay up so late, even learning
Torah, that one is unable to get up early enough in the morning to daven
with the tsibbur, I will comment now on Andy Goldfinger's posting in
v8n72, even at the risk that I will be repeating something that has
already been said in the 20 or so issues of mail-jewish that I haven't
had time to read yet.

I also read "The Machine Stops" when I was in high school, and it made a
big impression on me. It is by E. M. Forster.

It has long bothered me that very few Torah observant Jews are capable
of doing calendar calculations on their own. This first struck me in
1974, when I read about the POWs from the Yom Kippur War who were
released by Syria shortly after Pesach. Matzoh was delivered to them
while they were in Syria by the Red Cross, but they didn't know which
day Pesach was.  Different people there had different opinions, and they
never definitely settled it.

I can understand why someone with math-phobia (such as certain members
of my family) would not want to learn how to do calendar calculations on
their own. But for those who are at least somewhat mathematically
inclined, and I think that must include a large fraction, probably a
majority, of subscribers to mail-jewish, it should not be difficult to
memorize the relevant numbers. You never know when you might need them.

Sometime, b'li neder, when I have time, I'll try to put together a
minimal set of information needed to calculate when any Hebrew date
falls, and post it here. It will be similar to what I posted recently,
but more compact.  I have to admit that I have never actually sat down
and memorized it myself!

Mike Gerver


From: Andy Goldfinger <andy_goldfinger@...>
Date: 2 Sep 1993 09:52:12 U
Subject: High Tech Yichud

I was recently invited to a video teleconference.  The room to which I
was invited was a conference facility with a video link to a similar set
of rooms in other cities.  I sat (alone) at a table with a video camera
pointed at me.  The people in the other conference rooms could see me
over the video link, and I could see them on a monitor in my conference
room.  To help with the set up, a young lady sat at a console in my
conference room and pushed a bunch of buttons on a console.  Then, she
left me alone in the room and closed the door as she left.

My question is the following.  Suppose she had stayed in the room, but
closed the door.  Would this constitute yichud [privacy between an
unmarried man and woman]?  Or, would the presence of a group of people
in another city interacting with us over video constitute enough of a
presence to nullify the Yichud?


From: <ce157@...> (Eric W. Mack)
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 93 19:42:58 -0400
Subject: International Dateline

If there were frum Jews on the Marshall Islands, what would they
Marshall Islands wondering: 'Where did Saturday go?'

Associated Press (as printed in _Cleveland Plain Dealer_ 8/21/93).

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands

   Talk about a lost weekend.

   The nearly 3000 Americans living on this remote Pacific atoll
have a good excuse for not remembering Saturday night: There wasn't
   Residents went to bed last night and woke up Sunday morning be-
cause at midnight - 8 a.m. EDT today - Kwajalein jumped from one
side of the international date line to the other.
   "August 21 will be nonexistent on Kwajalein," said Roy Clemans,
an Army spokesman.  "It's a stealth day."
   The Marshall islands, a group of about 100 islets of which 
Kwajalein is the largest, sit west of the international date line.
But Kwajalein, which is about 300 miles west of the line, had
synchronized its day of the week with the U.S. mainland, to the
east, about 40 years ago when the U.S. Army established a missile
test range here.
   The Republic of the Marshall Islands requested the latest change
so all its islets will be on the same side of the date line.
   Kwajalein's work week will shift to Tuesday through Saturday,
the mainland's Monday through Friday.  Church services will still
be held on Sunday, which will seem like Saturday as it's the first
weekend day off.  Many people plan to use their Mondays to run
errands like most mainlanders do on Saturdays.
   [4 paragraphs omitted]

L'shana tova tikatevu!

Eric Mack and/or Cheryl Birkner Mack


From: <PRENSKY@...> (Steve Prensky)
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1993 13:51:13 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Mechitza styles

I just returned from a trip during which I visited two different shuls 
for two Shabbosim and each represented an extreme in its mechitza 
style.  In one shul (chassidish) the mechitza was at the rear of the 
men's section and was composed of tall (>2 meters) dark, smoked glass; 
the other shul ("modern orthodox") had a moderate height (1.5 m) 
mechitza that was topped by clear glass and it ran down the middle of 
the shul.  (The shul where i daven has a full-height mechitza consists 
of opaque vertical blinds (that can be opened at places in the service 
where allowed by halacha) that runs down the middle of the shul.)  

If the primary purpose of the mechitza (as I understand it) is to 
prevent distractions, especially those of a sexual nature, during 
davening, how can a short mechitza, one that a person can easily see 
over while standing, or one that can be easily see through (even while 
seated), be justified by halacha or minhag?

I am curious to know more of the halachic and spiritual rationale used 
to justify differences in mechitza style (height, material, opacity, 
etc.).  While I'm not interested in starting a discussion on the 
validity of the mechitza, that I accept as a given, a review of 
purposes of the mechitza (both physical and spiritual expanations) and 
the halacha (i.e., a statement of the minimum requirements) would be 
helpful.  I realize that the means by which men and women are 
separated in different contexts reflects not only halachic 
requirements but also differences in approach to Torah, in general, 
and in the understanding of these halachot, in particular.  

I would like to gain additional insight to these approaches, in 
particular, why certain groups chose to go beyond the minimum 
requirements.  An example of going beyond the minimum, that I 
encountered on my trip: the use of a mechitza at a seudah (even my 
7-year old daughter wasn't permitted to sit with me during the Shabbos 
meals!!!).  I'm familiar with the custom of separate seating at meals 
but why do some groups also consider a mechitza necessary?  

Steve Prensky


From: imsasby!<dgeretz@...> (Dan Geretz)
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 93 02:07:56 -0400
Subject: Policies about Jewish and other Religious Holidays

My sister has been recently employed by a small firm in the Washington, DC
area, and is looking for samples of Human Resources (personnel) policies,
specifically, policies about Jewish and other religious holidays.  Apparently,
these will be used as a starting point for formulating a policy for her
company, which has never dealt with observant Jews before.  She would
appreciate copies of any written material or appropriate pages from 
company personnel manuals that might be available.  You may:

  1. E-mail them to Aliza Geretz at <gale.john@...>, if
     they are available in electronic form (note this email account is
     SHARED by everyone at her company);

  2. Fax them to Aliza Geretz at 703/838-9231; or

  3. Mail them to Aliza Geretz, Apt. 407, 263 Congressional Lane,
     Rockville, MD 20852.

Also, does anyone know if the OU employment project might have materials
or suggestions available?

Thank you, and Ktiva V'Chatima Tova,

Daniel Geretz


From: Menachem Kellner <RHIT402@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 93 19:59:16 IST
Subject: Query re spiritual/intellectual plane of Hazal

Shalom, I am not a regular subscriber to mail.jewish but would appreciate
it very much if some of you regulars might respond to me directly if you can
help me with the following query:

It is a commonplace of contemporary Orthodox thought that Hazal existed
on a spiritual/intellectual plane much higher than our own and that is the
reason that their halakhic authority cannot be questioned. In connection with
a course I plan to teach soon I would like to know if anyone can help me find
pre-modern texts in which this idea is expressly found. I do not mean texts
which teach "hitkatnut ha-dorot" (of which there are many) since such do not
clearly make the claim I am interested in exploring.

many thanks, menachem kellner


From: <aa640@...> (Neil Parks)
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 93 01:05:58 -0400
Subject: Women and minyan

In the book "Blessed Are You", Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen offers an interesting
explanation as to why women are not counted as part of a minyan.  I'd
like to know what some women think of this:

"Synagogue prayer--that is, public worship--is predicated on the concept
of the minyan.  This involves the merging of one's independent identity
and individuality into a larger corporate unit.  The will and
aspirations of the community become the priority, the dominant
aspiration.  This is possibly the reason why only men were deemed
capable of 'making up a minyan', for men are far more readily prepared
to be regimented, to don a uniform, to dress identically to their
fellow, to surrender their individuality, and become part of a team.
Women are more private beings; they interact best in a one-to-one
situation.  Ten men become metamorphosized into a community, a minyan.
Ten women, on the other hand, remain a disparate group, each with her
own independent will and personality.  Hence it is that men have the
responsibility of forming themselves into minicommunities for daily
prayer; and women, for whom it does not come so naturally, were

NEIL EDWARD PARKS       >INTERNET: <aa640@...>  OR


End of Volume 9 Issue 5