Volume 9 Number 48
                       Produced: Wed Oct 13 20:02:55 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bicycle on Yom Tov
         [Lon Eisenberg]
Evolution and the Mabul
         [Elie Rosenfeld]
Force of Tradition
         [Michael Allen]
H' H' Kel Chanun v'Rachim on Shabbat
         [Sam Gamoran]
Meimad and the Peace Agreement:
         [Arnold Lustiger]
Minhag based on Gematria
         [Kibi Hofmann]
Removing Rings for Handwashing
         [Larry Weisberg]
The Flood
         [Allison Fein]
Traditions and customs
         [Gary Davis]


From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 03:56:50 -0400
Subject: Bicycle on Yom Tov

The prohibition against riding bicycles on yom tov is the same as on
Shabbat; it is not related to carrying.  There is a rabbinical decree
against it because of fear of fixing it should it break.

[This same reply also submitted by Eitan Fiorino and Andy Jacobs]

IMHO, this makes sense, since one tends to ride long distances (as would
be desired by Yehuda Harper) and would possibly be too far from the
destination to just walk it the rest of the way.  As far as I know, a
tricycle is permitted (does anyone know if this includes those tricycles
used by adults?).  I think tricycles are less likely to break (do they
have inflatable tires that can go flat?) and are typically not used for
long distance travel.


From: <er@...> (Elie Rosenfeld)
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 10:50:43 -0400
Subject: Evolution and the Mabul
Aryeh Frimer writes:

>     I'd like some input regarding a problem that has bothered me for a
>while.  Given that the entire animal population of the world was
>destroyed in the Mabul except for those that were with Noach in the Ark,
>how do we explain the fact that there are animals in Australia
>(Kangaroo, Kola Bear) found nowhere else in the world.  [It occurred to
>me that perhaps they were indeed found everywhere but managed to survive
>only in Australia because there they have no natural predator.]  I would
>also appreciate suggestions of how they might have gotten to Australia
>from Mt. Ararat (somewhere in Turkey).

Here's a theory which is (as far as I know) original.  The Torah tell us
that in the aftermath of the Migdal Bavel [tower of Babel] incident,
mankind was divided into groups based on language and spread over the
earth.  Perhaps the animals were spread over the earth at the same time,
and grouped by species just as people were grouped by language and race.

Another way of looking at it is that the animals spread out after the
flood the same way they _came_ to Noah _before_ the flood.  After all,
you don't read about Noah taking the ark around picking up animals from
different continents - rather, they all came to him somehow.  So if we
accept that the animals came to the ark from all over the world by some
miraculous means, we can accept that they similarly returned from whence
they came.

Elie Rosenfeld


From: Michael Allen <allen@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 14:32:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Force of Tradition

Michael Allen <allen@...> writes:
> >> <bob@...> (Ezra Bob Tanenbaum) writes:
> >> "[...] Only tradition stops us. [...]"

Michael> Then the Torah stops us, for "minhag avoteinu torah hi" (the
Michael> traditions
[...]  needs to be taken to heart that our connection to Torah at all is
Michael> rooted in the acceptance of the generation that stood under Har
Michael> Sinai and

Ezra>> The above argument implicitly assumes that all the "traditions and
Ezra>> customs accepted by the observant community in any generation" have
Ezra>> existed for all generations.  But, in fact, many of our traditions and
Ezra>> customs are quite recent.

My statement rest on no such implicit assumption; and, in fact,
explicitly states the opposite.  Of course a tradition which is said
to be accepted at a certain time is not *itself* rooted in Sinai --
the words themselves say the opposite.  I am also not trying to prove
"minhag avoteinu torah hi", which is part of the Oral Law that was
accepted at Sinai and therefore needs no external justification.  I
was merely attempting to give a logic for why any custom that is
accepted by the observant Jewish community in any generation has such
force.  At that point I say that everything we do as Jews is only
because a previous generation accepted it -- and that includes the
Torah (Written & Oral) itself.  Once one says that any accepted
tradition needs to be changed, there is no objective way stop that
process of rejecting earlier and earlier "traditions" until even the
Torah itself is denied.  Sadly, there is no lack of empirical evidence
of this process of rejection.  One needs only look at the many (10s? 100s?)
of attempts to reformulate and modernize Judaism which have led to
nothing but assimilation and loss.  No one denies that there is and
should be change, but these changes must come from the best and most
learned among us -- not from the outside.


From: <gamoran@...> (Sam Gamoran)
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 03:56:41 -0400
Subject: Re: H' H' Kel Chanun v'Rachim on Shabbat

Regarding saying H' H' Kel Chanun v'Rachim - we had a debate on this
matter in our Shul (Ya"d Moshe in Ramat Modi'im) on Yom Kippur which was
Shabbat this year.  The Rinnat Yisrael Machzor says you do say it on
Shabbat Yom Kippur but the Machzor Rabbah says you don't.  Both the
Rinat Yisrael and Machzor Rabbah for Sukkot agree that if first day
Sukkot would be Shabbat then you don't say it.

Obviously there are different minhagim and a difference between the
Yamim Noraim and other Chagim might compund the confusion.


From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 93 16:18:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Meimad and the Peace Agreement:

In the middle of reading the discussions of the peace agreement in
mail.jewish, I wondered if anyone knew what Meimad's position was.
(Meimad is the political movement headed by Rav Amital Shlita of Har
Etzion Yeshiva, with a liberal view towards land for peace). BTW, does
Meimad still exist, and what influence does it have on the religious

Arnie Lustiger


From: Kibi Hofmann <hofmanna@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 93 09:06:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Minhag based on Gematria

The gemara says that a man is dutybound to drink on Purim until he does
not know the difference between "Orur Homon" (Cursed is Haman) and
"Boruch Mordechai" (Blessed is Mordechai).

Various rabbonim have stated that since the gematria of these to phrases
is the same (502) the injunction is only to drink until the level of
intoxication at which arithmetic becomes difficult. Nevertheless, many
do not rely on this lenient minhag, and force themselves to observe the
strict letter of the law :-)

(I know, it's a little early for Purim, but this way I get in before the

People always mention that tzitzis are supposed to remind us of all the
mitzvos by virtue of the fact that the gematria of tzitzis is 600, add 8
strings and 5 sets of knots and you end up with 613 (the number of

Not exactly gematria, but apparently there are 245 words in the shema
and we want to make them up to 248 to equal the number of positive
mitzvos (or number of limbs in the body) so we either get the chazan (in
a minyan) to repeat the last three words or add the words "Kel Melech
Ne'eman" at the beginning (if praying alone).

G'mar tov


From: Larry Weisberg <WEISBERG@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 12:14:15 IDT
Subject: Removing Rings for Handwashing

In 9/44 Frank Silbermann writes:
> I have heard from some that one must remove all rings before washing the
> hands Al Netilat Yadayim.  However, I have heard from others that one
> need not remove a ring that one otherwise would never remove.  Is this
> latter view correct?

[Andy Jacobs correctly points out that the question, as phrased, is
problematic for this list. What is "correct" is to ask and follow your
LOR on this and any other matter. The question that is discussed here
would be, what sources are there for the two opinions, what is their
rational, reason for difference etc. Andy also says that his LOR told
him basically what Frank cites as his second custom he has heard, as do
the two replies below. Mod]

The criterion, I believe, is whether one (would or does) take off
his/her ring when kneading dough. [Joseph Greenberg sent in the same
reply, with the statement that he thinks the Kitzur Shulchan Oreach
gives this condition. Mod.]


From: Allison Fein <fein@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1993 12:51:20 -0500 (EDT)
Subject: The Flood

In response to David Sherman's comment on the problems with the flood,
most ancient studies academics (who are not usually apt to prove
biblical accounts) agree that a flood occurred.  The exact dimensions,
such as the surface area of the water or how many days it rained, are
unclear.  However, the Biblical account, for accuracy, is as good as
     The reason that the flood's actual occurrence is so absolute- even
to critical thinkers, is that there are other ancient texts which
comment on the flood besides the Bible.  The ancient (assyrian?) king
lists divide their kings into Pre flood and post flood.  In addition,
there are flood stories in religious texts dating from ancient
Babylonia.  It is true that the details vary - such as who saved the
world from disaster- but a worldwide flood is a common denominator.
     When studying ancient texts, we must be careful not to trust other
faiths more than our own.  We can learn from the common denominators,
and also study the differences from a thematic point of view.  For
example, the marduk (babylonian) flood came about because the Gods got
angry at mankind for being too loud, they could not sleep!  The fact
that Marduk saved the world was a mistake, he actually outwitted the
Gods.  In our account, the flood was in response to immorality in the
world, and G*d is shown to be all-powerful and merciful.  Noah was
chosen by G*d for his righteousness.
     Study of these subjects, although uncommon in Orthodox circles, can
make the superiority of Judaism so much more apparent.  Compare: an
erratic group of Gods who think nothing of destroying the world, and are
able to be conquered by man; to an all-powerful G*d who hates immorality
but is merciful enough to save the world.  Judaism always comes out on


From: Gary Davis <davis@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 93 17:33:05 -0400
Subject: Traditions and customs

Hayim Hendeles writes:

> But what if the traditions are *adopted* by later generations, and were
> not even part of the Torah that was given at Har [Mt.] Sinai?  For
> example, we use many prayers in the liturgy which were written in the
> Middle Ages, and thus could not possibly have been accepted by the
> generation that stood under/at Sinai.  As another example, many people
> where certains forms of clothing on Shabbos that clearly originated in
> the 16th and 17th centuries (C.E.), and did not exist at the time of
> Sinai.
> The above argument [omitted here - G.D.] implicitly assumes that all the
> "traditions and customs accepted by the observant community in any
> generation" have existed for all generations.  But, in fact, many of our 
> traditions and customs are quite recent.

I think we can learn from the theory of games here, believe it or not!
A complete strategy takes into account all possible future moves in a
competitive situation, but it does not necessarily spell out each
individual step.  If part of G-d's "strategy" was to allow "traditions
and customs" to be introduced later by "observant communities", then
these "new" traditions are in fact part of the law that was given to us
at Mt. Sinai!

Gary Davis (PhD)    Associate Professor   Faculty of Business
      University of New Brunswick in Saint John (UNBSJ)
     P.O. Box 5050   Saint John, N.B.   Canada   E2K 3M2
(506) 648-5537 (Office phone)    (506) 652-9573 (Private fax)


End of Volume 9 Issue 48