Volume 9 Number 90
                       Produced: Tue Nov  9 20:53:49 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frost Free Freezers on Shabbat
         [Ken Yaakov Menken]
Frost Free Freezers/Refrigerators
         [Zev Farkas]
Holocaust and Rabbi Zemba (2)
         [Esther R Posen, Isaac Balbin]
Sephardim and Conversions
         [Eli Turkel]
Syrians and Conversion (2)
         [Marc Shapiro, Anthony Fiorino]
Women learning Mishna Torah (2)
         [Freda Birnbaum, Aliza Burger]


From: Ken Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 93 05:25:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Frost Free Freezers on Shabbat

> This past Shabbas, a friend said his brother heard a Rabbi say in his
> drush that Frost-Free freezers should not be opened on Shabbas since it
> is certain that a fan will go off. I never heard of this ever in all the
> issues with Fridges and motors. Anybody aware of how this added fact
> affects the issue??

I have heard about not a fan, but rather a small _heating_ coil in the
freezer.  This coil puts the tiniest bit of heat through the walls of the
freezer, keeping them Frost-Free.  This coil only works when the door is 
closed. It seems that a great deal of attention was paid to engineering 
details before making this psak, and in the era of the Institute for Science 
and Halacha, I was a bit put off by another writer's comment that the 
Rabbis pay little attention to detail.


From: Zev Farkas <farkas@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 93 03:26:21 -0500
Subject: Frost Free Freezers/Refrigerators

thanks to chaim schild <schild%<gaia@...> for bringing up
one of my pet peeves - the fan that blows cold air from the freezer into
the refrigerator.  yisrael sundick <sas34@...> has already
addressed most of this issue in his previous reply (somewhere around
#84), but i'd just like to add my two cents worth...

way back in 1971, when my parents bought an amana frost-free fridge, i
actually bothered to read the owner's manual, and it was pretty clear
that this would be a problem.  the fan is supposed to blow cold air into
the fridge compartment after you close the door, so the milk won't spoil
after your kid takes fifteen minutes to decide that there's nothing to
nosh.  :)

for the last 20+ years, we've been taping over the light switches on
that refrigerator before every shabbos and yom-tov.  on our previous
fridges, we had simply removed the bulb on a permanent basis (having a
light in the fridge is still something of a novelty to me).  however,
this is not sufficient for this fridge for the reasons yisrael
explained, and i was reluctant to leave the switch taped all the time
because i like the light and for fear that the fridge was designed to
depend on the fan and that leaving it disabled for a long time might
hurt the machine.  i would have installed a "shabbos" switch, but the
wiring is rather inaccessible on this model, and mom & dad were not
willing to let me take an electric drill to their refrigerator.

on some refrigerators, the installation of a switch may be more

some tips: for those of you who have to tape the refrigerator switch, be
sure the surface you are taping to is clean and dry.  this helps the
tape stick better.  remove the tape soon after shabbos or yom-tov so the
adhesive doesn't get too icky (remember to remove all the tape so you
don't have an unpleasant surprise come pesach time...).  and finally, if
you have a simpler refrigerator and decide just not to use the light
bulb, it is better to keep a dead bulb in the socket.  this keeps
moisture and small fingers out of the socket.  or, unscrew the bulb just
enough so that it won't go on (jiggle the bulb to be sure it doesn't go
on if you accidentally touch it on shabbos) (not recommended for
"bayonet" {push and twist} type bulbs).

Zev Farkas, PE                                :)
<farkas@...>       718 829 5278


From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: 8 Nov 93 15:16:57 GMT
Subject: Re: Holocaust and Rabbi Zemba

Morris Polodak states in "Peace Accords" that perhaps Rabbi Zemba and
others would have survived the Holocaust had they had different
political views.  As a descendant of both German and Lithuanian
survivors, I know that the most painful and hurtful thing anyone could
have said to my grandparents was that more people could have survived if
only they were smarter, had more foresight etc.

My German grandfather protested even when people said that the "German
jews didn't believe what was happening and did not attempt to escape
from Germany in the mid-30s."  He began searching for a means of escape
for his family as soon as Hitler was elected and only managed an escape
route via England immediately before the war.  He felt that it wouldn't
have mattered if every German jew had attempted to leave Germany FOR

With our merely human understanding, we cannot comprehend why the
Holocaust occurred but we must understand that it was an act of G-d.  I
believe it desecrates the memory of the 6 million jews who lost their
lives to discuss what they should of done differently.  "Never Again" is
not up to us.

Lastly, although I am not familiar with Rabbi Zemba's situation, there
were jewish leaders who chose to stay with their congregation and lose
their lives rather than use means of escape that were available to them.
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman ztl returned to Europe from America and lost
his life to be together with his yeshiva when the Nazi's came.

Instead of focusing on what previous generations could have done
differently, it would seem that we can bring moshiach faster if we focus
on what we can do differently in thanks to G-d that we are among the

Esther Posen

From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 17:21:17 -0500
Subject: Re: Holocaust and Rabbi Zemba

  | From: Morris Podolak <morris@...>

  | Rabbi Menachem Zemba was indeed a great man.  A giant both in Torah and
  | in actions.  He refused to be rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto and
  | remained with the other Jews there.  He did not survive.  

And you can bet that he did so Al Pi Psak Halocho.

  | I can't help wondering whether he and many other Jews would have survived 
  | if they had  been more ready to live in a smaller Israel, rather than 
  | holding out for the whole thing.

I can't help but wonder how many Jews would have been saved if they had
not listened to Yehoreg Ve-al Ya-avor. What about those Jews who were
killed during the Churban Bayis Rishon and Sheni. Perhaps they should
have moved to Australia and saved their lives instead of risking things
in Eretz Yisroel?  Smaller Israel might mean safer Israel to Morris, it
might mean weaker Israel to someone else. The important point is that we
CANNOT imply that Rabbi Zemba (Hashem Yikom Domoi) was wrong in his Psak
Halocho because people died and so did he. Rabbi Zemba was right unless
he made an error of Shikul Hada'as [logic] or Toeh Bidvar Mishne [lack
of erudition]. Now, I do not believe that we can say that based on the
Holocaust or the existence of the State of Israel that there was an
error of Shikul Hada'as. Whether you agree or disagree people either
felt or feel that Hashem's hand was omnipresent and directing
proceedings, or that it was the Sitra Achra [hashem's messenger of
evil].  No one treats these events as "natural". As such, it is a brave
person that can imply that a Psak under these circumstances was an error
of Shikul Hada'as. Indeed, it is also a brave person that will adduce
that Rav Velvel Soloveitchik Z"TL erred in Shikul Hada'as when his fears
about the destruction of the yishuv did not materialise.

I maintain that when it comes to Piskei Din of this nature, a Rov must
take into account the risks *as he sees them, and as portrayed by
experts* and make a Psak. The Rov is not proved right or wrong by *what
actually happens*. This is a dangerous line of thought and one which
also gives rise to the notion that children die in bus accidents because
Mezuzos were not checked.


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 15:19:30 +0200
Subject: Sephardim and Conversions

     Rac Ovadia Yosef has a responsa in the first volume of Yabia Omer
(written in 1948 in Cairo) about whether the judges have to be in the
room with the mikvah was a female convert performs tevila. From the
responsa it is clear that conversions were frequently performed in the
sephardi congregration in Cairo.

Eli Turkel


From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 17:21:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Syrians and Conversion

Everyone has discussed the Syrian ban on converts. I can understand that
they are entitled to reject potential applicants for conversion and send
them to Jerusalem's Bet Din, however, once the conversion has been
properly carried out by the Jerusalem Bet Din, I do not understand how
they can reject the convert. This seems to go against explicit halakhot
re. how one treats converts. Not to mention the fact that such an
approach is immoral. The Syrians are no better than other Jews and that
includes converts. I fell very strongly that their approach is

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 12:40:19 -0500
Subject: Syrians and Conversion

The text of the ban on converts, both the original and reaffirmations
issued in the 50's and in the 70's or 80's can be found in _The
Conversion Crisis_, which is a collection of various articles on gerut
collected from the journal _Tradition_.  It is edited by Joel Wolowolsky
and Emmanuel Feldman and published by Ktav and the RCA (Hoboken, NJ).
As far as I know, it is not a Sephardic minhag, but applies only to the
American (perhaps only NY) Syrian community.  The social situation
behind the ban is that at the time the ban was first issued, Syrian men
were getting involved with non-Jewish women, then hoping to marry them.
Rather than continue performing conversion which were not l'shem
shamayim, the Syrian rabbinate decided to ban conversions completely.
Apparently, the ban has worked (in terms of the intermarriage problem)

Eitan Fiorino


From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 93 18:20 EDT
Subject: Women learning Mishna Torah

In m-j V9N83, Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund writes, re the Rambam learning

>[...] Those who cannot follow the Mishna Torah, should at least
>do this cycle. This includes women.

Does this assume that women cannot follow the Mishna Torah?  Or simply
encourage women to learn at whatever level is available to them at any
particular stage in their lives, and when they are ready to move on to
the Mishna Torah, to do so?

Freda Birnbaum

From: <A_BERGER@...> (Aliza Burger)
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1993 12:42:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women learning Mishna Torah

I can follow the Mishna Torah just fine; many observant men whose Hebrew
skills are lacking cannot.  It's one thing to say that "learning Rambam
Yomi applies to women too", it's another to put us only in this last
least-expert category, just because of gender.  These levels were
apparently made for level of learning purposes, or lack of time
purposes, which is NOT equivalent to gender.

Perhaps the suggestion being made here is that women who are at this
level should not expect more from themselves, while a man who is at this
level should aspire to reach the higher levels.  What would be the
justification for this difference in expectation?  The statement
(source, anyone?)  that "women only need to learn practical halacha"
would not seem to have any bearing on the depth of learning a woman
could aspire to in the realm of practical halacha - Mishna Torah goes
into more depth than sefer haMitzvot.  On the other hand, maybe women
should learn Rif, which only addresses the practical halachot contained
in the gemara.

Aliza Berger


End of Volume 9 Issue 90