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Volume 09 : Number 003

Monday, March 18 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 15:39:04 +0200
From: "Rena Freedenberg" <free@actcom.co.il>
RE: Opening Packages on Shabbos

*Most metal screw-off bottle caps have a ring at the bottom which either
*remains on the neck of the bottle, or breaks into pieces. This first
*unscrewing transforms it into a useful reusable cap, which may not be
*done on Shabbos (17). However, the cap *may* be unscrewed on Shabbos if
*he first destroys it, by making a hole in it so wide that it will not

I just have one more thing to add to your otherwise comprehensive
translation of this issue:

We were taught that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach holds that plastic bottle
caps [in contrast to metal ones] are perfectly fine to open on Shabbos,
because they are pre-formed into their current shape and thus you are not
transforming it into anything.


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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 10:52:05 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: Opening Packages on Shabbos

One of the problems with books like Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah is
that they give long lists of rules but do not emphasize the general
rules behind them. The issue of opening packages on Shabbos is really
not complicated, despite the various machlokos. But when you look at a
book like SSK you are overwhelmed by how complicated hilchos Shabbos is.
It doesn't have to be. I highly, strongly recommend reading the Tiferes
Yisrael's introduction to Shabbos - called Kalkeles HaShabbos - where he
goes through hilchos Shabbos by melacha and explains the general rules.
He eventually gets to a point where he starts rambling and spends a few
pages on umbrellas. You can stop before there. But I found it to be very
helpful on getting the big picture.

The general kelal is that one is not allowed to create an opening.
The rest follows based on definitions.

>Packages which are normally refilled and reused may not be opened.

That is the standard definition of creating an opening.  Because the opening 
will be reused, it is considered an opening.

>Packages which are normally emptied and discarded immediately upon opening, 
>may be opened in the usual manner

A temporary opening is not considered an opening and is permissible.

>except that one should try to avoid tearing through letters or pictures

Separate halacha of mochek.

>Between those two groups are many packages which are not reused after being 
>emptied, but they *are* used to store the contents *until* they are emptied

These are in-between because the openings will be used again for emptying 
but not for filling, thus the machlokes haposkim.

>One may not make an opening in the material of the container itself.

This is an opening.

>One *may* open a seal (in a destructive manner, see below) if it is not 
>part of the container itself, but is only connected to the already-existing 

The container is already open.

>One may open a package if there is no tearing or breaking involved, even if 
>one uses some tool in the process.

The opening was already there.

Gil Student

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 12:59:43 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rav Henkin s views on adoption

On Fri, Mar 15, 2002 at 04:29:24PM +1100, SBA wrote:
: > Why "from good families"? Should a mamzer be raised as a non-Jew or in a
: > non-frum home (and marry a non-mamzeres) because we don't want to share
: > his heartache two decades later?

: WADR to all, looking into Rav Henkin's sefer, there is no doubt at all
: that he was very against adoption of non-Jews (and also children whose
: yichus is doubtful).

I didn't ask "what", though, but "why". Unlike R' Moshe, his teshuvos
are quite terse. (The fact that there are typical of that was already
mentioned.) You don't always get the answer to questions like the ones
I raised (and am raising now).

: On adopting a child of a Jewish penuyeh he writes:
:  "...muven shezeh rak bedieved...

Vus heist bedi'eved? Only for couples that can't fulfil piryah verivyah?

But more importantly, what about the problem of shmad! Isn't there a
heter lechallel Shabbos to make sure this penuyah's daugher does not end
up in a Christian home? We have a 2nd phone line for adoption calls. My
wife gets calls about Jewish (often frum) newborns given up for adoption
because of handicaps. FWIW, R' Dovid Cohen said the phone should be
answered on Shabbos.

And that's for a population where 80% have Downs. Does this child, who
will almost certainly be a bar/bas chiyuvah lechol haTorah kulah deserve
no less?

Had I not seen teshuvos otherwise, I would have assumed that there is
a yaharog ve'al ya'avor to save these children from shmad. (And I mean
shmad beli shum guzma. Catholic Charities would be thrilled to baptize
and place one of our children. They have been caught by NY State illegally
jumping ours ahead of their own on their placement list.)

I am missing the entire sevarah here.

: I cannot agree that RH is talking only in a situation of "... a world
: where there was no shortage of Jewish orphans from good families.." and
: would have paskened differently in a situation where there were few
: Kosher children available.

Well, he does assume you have a choice. But lema'aseh the majority of
adoptees with kosher yichus will involve far more work and heartache
than not finding a shidduch.

There is a disjoin between the metzi'us as R' Henkin describes it
and what you actually see in the field.


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
Fax: (413) 403-9905             - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 14:56:22 +0200
From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: When did Mosheh write the Torah?

> Note that R Yochanan was raised by Chaveirim, became an amora himself...
> in short, his avodas H' was a steady progression over time. R"L, OTOH,
> became a tzaddiq bevas achas. Did each see their own derech in nesinas
> haTorah?

Tosfos BM 84a says that Reish Lakish had orignally been a talmid chachom
who knew a lot but went off the derech and became an am haaretz and
robber until restored by R. Yochanan. The Doros Rishonim violently
disagrees says he had not been frum before and this proves that the
rishonim had no interest in historical facts. Are you rejecting the
position of Tosfos when asking your question?

                        Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 09:32:07 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Fwd: Re: what we daven for?

 From my friend:
>More on the subject:  I did not read your original message closely and did
>not notice the focus on tefillos b'eis tzoro.  In that vein, I want to
>mention that I recently saw a Chassam Sofer which discusses the issue of
>proper kavonos at times of war.  It dovetails nicely with what you wrote.

>The Chassam Sofer writes (quite emphatically) that it is inappropriate to
>pray for shalom, since we know that war and suffering is a necessary
>precursor to the Moschiach.  Pushing that off, pushes off the revelation of
>Malchus Shomayim.   Rather, he concludes, at times of national distress such
>as war, we should pray for the ge'ula.

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 08:41:08 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Several Disputed of the Rambam and Ra'avad in Hil. Chometz u'Matzo Chaps. 6-8

The Rambam and Ra'avad argue in Chometz u'Matzo 6:2 on why in swallowing
matzo and marror together one is not yotzeh.

The Rambam because the marror becomes tafel (subordinate or secondary)
to the matzo, the Ra'avad because you cannot taste the marror.

The Rambam and Ra'avad have two machlokos about Charoses in the 8th
perek of CuM. The Rambam says when there was a Beis Ha'Mikdosh you dipped
Hillel's Korech in Charoses, and the Ra'avad does not like this statement
(the reason is unclear). The Rambam then says you dip the Matzo of Motzi
Matzo in Charoses even nowadays and the Ra'avad dismisses that as "Hevel".

Later in that perek, the Rambam says that Hallel can be recited anywhere,
while the Ra'avad does not like this as then the last two kosos are not
connected to the first two.

What is the crux of these disputes?

The Dagul Mei'Revava says that if it is almost Chatzos and you have not
yet begun the seder, quickly do Matzo and Marror and say the Haggada after
Chatzos. The Emek Brocho argues, as Marror today is d'Rabbonon (tangent:
the Rogatchover proposes that for women it may still be d'orysa) while
Sippur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim is d'orysa, and all these mitzvos are Chatzos
contingent, so he paskens that Haggada should precede Chatzos and Marror
come afterwards.

What did the DmR hold?

Two fundamental Rogatchovers:

1. The R says that if Marror today is not d'orysa, it follows that the
zecher that the Torah imposes to commemorate the Avdus and Shi'abud is
only d'orysa when the Beis ha'Mikdosh is standing. Thus, since Matzo has
two components, commemorating the Lechem Oni and the Lo Hispik Betzeikom
l'Hachmitz, the former commemoration is today, at best, d'Rabbonon,
although the latter remains d'orysa. The question then arises: Is Marror
today a commemoration of the Avdus, or a kind of zecher l'Mikdosh,
commemorating the dormant mitzva d'orysa in and of itself?

2. The R explains the first machlokes by saying that the Rambam holds
that Matzo, which must be shemura l'shem matzos mitzva, has a status
of a cheftza shel mitzva prior to putting it in your mouth. Marror is
a vegetable that only becomes the cheftza of Marror when you eat it. If
you eat it as a tafel, it does not attain the significance necessary to
make it a cheftza of Marror.

One more Hakdomo:

The Rambam says (and the Ra'avad does not argue) that Charoses is a mitzva
to place on the table (not to eat!) and that it commemorates the pitch
(i.e., the Avdus). he does not cite the reason the Gemara gives of "Zecher
l'Tapu'ach". If the mitzva is only to place the Charoses atop the table,
then the question of why the Rambam has you dip Matzo in it is compounded.

I believe the yesod is simple: The Rambam holds that commemorative mitzvos
and activities become part and parcel of the Sippur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim,
while the Ra'avad holds they remain distinct mitzvos.

Thus, holds the Rambam, if you find Charoses on the table as a
commemorative mitzva, even if the Gemara does not suggest doing so,
the dipping of the Matzo (and the Koreich) in the Charoses becomes an
enhancement of Sippur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim - linking the avdus to the
yetzi'ah. The Ra'avad disagrees: Since Charoses is only a mitzva to
place atop the table, and activities do not become part and parcel of the
Sippur, dipping the Matzo in Charoses is a newfangled (not in the Shas)
custom and pure Hevel.

Indeed, the Rambam evidently holds that the taste of Marror is immaterial
(especially according to a girsa several Rishonim and manuscripts had
in the Rambam, that if you swallowed Marror on its own you are yotzeh -
it is only when you swallow it with Matzo that it is no good) - because
Chazal themselves introduced Marror as a commemorative mitzva - and
therefore it is the provocation of memory, not taste, that is critical
("Marror al shum mah"). The Ra'avad, of course, holds that the mitzva
of achila is a mitzva of achila, so you must taste the Marror.

The DmR is correct according to the Rambam - the Marror is integrally
a fulfillment of Sippur, and therefore starts you on your way before
Chatzos. The Ra'avad might hold like the Emek Brocho - eating is eating
and relating is relating, and never the twain shall meet.

Concerning the Arba Kosos, the Rambam clearly holds (I think the Brisker
Rav discusses this) that they are a separate matter, a distinct mitva
(together with Haseivah) of Derech Cheirus ("B'chol dor va'dor chayav
Odom l'har'os es atzmo..."). They must be, because two of them are
after the mitzva of Sippur concludes! Since they are not, therefore,
a commemoration that integrates into the mitzva of Sippur, they possess
there own parameters, and do not have the standards of Makom Se'uda and
the like. Were they part of Supper (not a misspelling!), and Supper is,
of course, a part of Sippur (not a mispelling!) that would be something

One machlokes Rambam and Ra'avad I am stymied on is at the beginning
of the 7th perek of CuM where the Ra'avad feels compelled to take issue
with the Rambam's explanation of "Chotfin es ha'matzos." What's bothering
the Ra'avad?

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 12:28:19 -0500
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
RE: Haftara on Yom Ha'Atzma'ut

On 14 Mar 2002 at 9:06, Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer wrote:
>> The "Haftara" on Yom ha-Atzma'ut is read without any Berakhot - before
>> or after. Hence it presents no halakhic problem.

From: Carl and Adina Sherer [mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il]
> Is it really that simple? AIUI, RYBS held that any changes to the Nussach
> haTefilla were forbidden until after Kaddish Tiskabel, and therefore
> he held that the Haftorah - and also saying Hallel without a bracha -
> were not to be done. AIUI, RYBS said the prakim of Hallel as Tehillim
> after davening to avoid the problem of being meshaneh in the Nussach
> haTefilla before Kaddish Tiskabel.

Which is exactly my chakirah WRT haftorah on YKK: (1) Is the haftorah of
taaniyos an integral part of kriyas hatorah and therefore no torah -> no
haftorah (even w/o brachos). Or: (2) Is the haftorah a separate chiyuv in
some sense (part of divrei kibushin spoken on a taanis) so that even w/o a
torah, one could lain the haftorah (w/o brachos, as this isn't exactly
k'tikkun chazal)?

Kol tuv,

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 08:37:40 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Pesach Seating

RAM wrote:
>> I'm not sure whether I mean this humorously or not, but I'll ask anyway:
>> I thought that back then we all had the seder with truly separate
>> seating: each person at their own table!

RDFR wrote:
> As I understand it, there weren't any tables. Food was served from a
> low platform or floor-space surrounded by pillows and bunting. People
> literally reclined in the manner of ancient royalty.

Your suggestion is interesting. The position of some rishonim re:
women & heseibah and re: heseibah nowadays when the standard mode of
dinner is on a chair, one of whom is, I believe, the Radvaz, is well
known. The approach I am referring to is that nowadays heseibah may not
be required because it is not derekh 'herut. This position implies that
the mitzvah is not heseibah, but sitting kederekh bnei 'horim/melakhim,
and thus opens the possibility that heseibah as we understand it was
not necessarily a mitzvah in pre-Roman times. (this requires, of course,
historical/archaeological investigation.) The mitzvah would be to conduct
ourselves in aristocratic manner, as bnei 'horin do when celebrating
their freedom, and that it has to be expressed in the current ways.

> The seder took many
> hours. Each glass of wine was goblet-sized -- i.e., like the Crusaders'
> image of the Holy Grail -- and filled to the brim with a thick, fortified
> drink that probably was highly alcoholic. One imagines the state of things
> toward the end of the seder, when everyone's blood-alcohol content was
> around 2.2 percent, and every stomach was stuffed with several pounds
> of food. THAT was true frumkeit.

Although I do appreciate your definition of true piety WRT 4 kossot,
I believe that you are not entirely right WRT the type of wine they
drank. The Bibluical Archaeology Review ran an article during the
past year about Roman wines, how they were brewed and how they tasted,
and that article explains the whole issue of mezigat hayayin/kos very
well. Essentially, Roman wine was dry and sour and would be spiced up
and mixed with honey to make it sweeter. It did not have a high alcohol
content, but its taste was so strong because of the concoction, that
it would require dilution. Such dilution meant that there were rich
individuals who would drink only wine, no water (let's not consider
other drinks in this equation), and that had an interesting health
benefit. It seems that the Romans were aware that their city water
supply was contaminated with, let's call it sheidim ;-), and they also
knew that mixing the water with wine kept away the ilnesses that could
be contracted by drinking standard aquaduct water ;-).

I am not sure whether I recall the following fact correctly (I may mistake
the taste of their wines with other beverages mentioned in that article),
but I believe the author of that article thought that the Roman wines
must have tasted a little like the Belgian beers called lambics, such as
Bellevue Geuze (definitely try it. Then you may understand a little why
Romans didn't opt for the then widely available New World import called
BudMiller, the detergent that will kill your taste buds ;-)).

The reason why their wines tasted so different then ours, besides
different cultural tast preferences, seems to be because wine making
was not yet as sophisticated as now, and they had more trouble keeping
well aging wines from badly aging, inferior wines. (although there are
indeed badly aging high quality wines, such as some Beaujolais nouveaux,
which must be drunk by 'Hanukkah of the harvest year for most pleasurable
consumption, these are an exception). The inferior wines were undoubtedly
much cheaper and well suited for quantity consumption.

The phrase Rashi quotes from 'Hazal, that Yossef sent Ya'akov old wine
that rua'h zekeinim no'heh heimenu, aquires a different understanding
knowing that few wines managed to make it to old age without becoming

Thus, seder participants were unlikely to be drunk, but instead must
have been happy as are friends who get together for a couple of beers.

As for the size of their gobbelets...

Git Shabbes,
Arie Folger
It is absurd to seek to give an account of the matter to a man 
who cannot himself give an account of anything; for insofar as
he is already like this, such a man is no better than a vegetable.
           -- Book IV of Aristotle's Metaphysics

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 09:46:32 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Rav Henkin's view on adoption

(bounced from Areivim)
RMB wrote:
> I did not yet see your teshuva, however I see no way in which a a
> conversion of adoptees by non-frum parents could be zochin lahem. Doesn't
> beis din's apitrupusin help define why it's a zechus? Geirus without
> having shomrei torah umitzvos as apitrupusin raising the child Jewish
> is no favor to the child. Better to be an ehrlicher non-Jew than ketinoq
> shenishba.

RMF mentions in a teshuvah that it may be a zekhut to be a non observant 
(tinok shenishba' category) Jew than to be a goy. Many poskim are very 
dispute this.

Arie Folger

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Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 14:54:45 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: questions on segulos

Reb kennethgmiller@juno.com wrote:
> : Either Hashem told someone that spilling date-beer makes one poor, or
> : humans noticed such a pattern. If a human noticed a pattern, and enough
> : other humans agreed, to the extent that belief in this causal
> : relationship became part of their culture, wouldn't that contradict your
> : claim that "no one develops a native notion of segulos"?

RMB wrote:
> No. It means that segulologists can make a formal study of segulos. The
> native notion is one that becomes "common sense", so that people take
> these things for granted when deciding what to do. Like the way someone
> knows that throwing a rock just so is likely to hurt a person standing
> over there.

I agree that both of you are pinning down the literal pshat of that maamar of 
Abayei in gemara. However, you overlook another possibility, which wouold 
likely be Rambam's way of understanding that maamar. May be segulot are 
neither properly observed, nor are they  issued by some Divine fiat; they 
simply aren't. 

The presence of folk tales that we, with hindsight and experience with 
scientific study, consider rather silly, is rampant in less scientifically 
versed cultures. Our predecessors, no less than the predecessors of other 
people on the globe, also lived in times when science had not yet shown that 
many such folk tales and folk medecine are just that and don't work (save for 
the placebo effect). It is possible that 'Hazal employed the medium of such 
folk tales to send moral and spiritual messages in a form that even amei 
haaretz who merely want folk remedies would listen to.

Alexander Altman, an academic Judaic scholar for who may or may not have been 
religious (IOW, consider the following purely on the basis of the argument 
and the research, which is a good thing to do generally ;-)), wrote a book 
about how 'Hazal in midrashim appropriated heretical myths and slightly 
changed them for their own purpose. He shows that by comparative study of 
Midrash and ancient Levant legends. His hypothesis is that 'Hazal did so 
because many people believed these myths, and so 'Hazal set out on a mission 
to disabuse the people of the heretical beliefs by 'correcting' the story.

AA's approach should not be applied to all midrashim and aggadetot. To do so 
would be excessively rationalistc and would deny 'Hazal and hence the 
massorah the power to transmit truths and parables that don't sound familiar 
to the Western mind. However, he may very well be right in that such 
appropriation of foreign material for the purpose of keeping the people on 
the right path has happened, possibly even a lot. Combine that with Rambam's 
idea that aggadetot and the likes are really metaphores, and you end up with 
a deeper meaning, and also the reason why they chose a particular story as 
the medium for the deeper truths.

Although I do not know how Rambam interpreted Abaye's statement, I would 
suggest that he was trying to encourage respect for food (same sugya contains 
the link between disrespect for crumbs and poverty), in this instance not to 
spill good date beer. (may be he held like the Belgians, that some beers 
should be drunk with the foam? ;-)). Other pshat suggestinos welcome.

BTW, I once wrote a paper showing that the idea that seemingly strange 
aggadetot, incl. those dealing w. sheidim, should not be interpreted 
kefshutam at all, but instead should be interpreted according to their (often 
elusive) deeper meaning, is not only held by extreme rationalists, but also 
by believers in sheidim and keshafim. In my paper I showed that the Gra 
interpreted some aggadetot that way, although the nimshalim are quite 
different than those Rambam proposes. (Gra prefers kabbalistic 
interpretations over philosophical ones) The paper is avalilable upon 
request, in html or pdf.

Git Shabbes,

Arie Folger

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Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 23:26:23 -0500
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: Segulos

I wrote <<< If a segulologist figured it out, then I have two choices:
I can choose to suspect that the effect is due to some teva-dik principle
which science has yet to discover. Or I can choose to believe that it
is truly an upper-worldly phenomenon. >>>

R' Micha Berger responded: <<< Yes, I did not figure the role of ignorance
in preserving bechirah. >>>

But that's the whole point! Ignorance is *crucial* to the preservation
of bechirah!

We have often mentioned how HaShem plays "hide-and-seek" with us,
specifically to hint at His existence, while preserving our bechira
chofshis. And whenever we think we percieve Him a bit too clearly,
He hides elsewhere, again to preserve our bechira.

<<< But my question was why segulos? Why leave around something that when
properly understood reduces bechirah? What is the offsetting benefit? >>>

Do you have these questions about nevuah?

I believe that there can be no evidence of the upper world that is more
convincing than a genuine nevuah experience. Yet we see that genuine
neviim have had bechira, and -- b'avonosainu harabim -- have occasionally
made the wrong choices, despite their clear and definitive knowledge of
HaShem's reality.

One looks in the Torah, sees something that "clicks", and exclaims,
"That's incredible! No one but the Creator could have written this
stuff!" Is this much less bechira-robbing than a good segulah, or a
real nevuah?

HaShem plays hide-and-seek and wins every time. Each person on his own
level, bechira is always preserved. It is one of the constants of the
universe, no less than the speed of light or mida-kneged-mida.

Akiva Miller

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