Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 014

Thursday, October 16 2003

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 09:01:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Cathedrals and Synagogues

A "sound bite" from R' Jonathan Sacks' (www.chiefrabbi.org) parashah
> I once pointed out the difference between the synagogues and the
> cathedrals of the Middle Ages. The former  the Altneushul in Prague is
> one of the few surviving examples  were small, modest, humble; the
> latter magnificent, often taking centuries to complete. I suggested
> that in a Cathedral the worshippers are aware of the vastness of G-d
> and the smallness of mankind. In a shul, we sense the /closeness/ of G-d
> and the /greatness/ of mankind.


Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (413) 403-9905

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 16:05:26 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
To: Avodah - High Level Torah Discussion Group <avodah@aishdas.org>

> In our recent discussion of keeping web sites open on shabbos, there
> seemed to be consensus that making money from a site on shabbos is
> prohibited. It got me thinking about another similar situation which is
> even more difficult to manage: vending machines.

> Soda machines and vending machines are located at thousands of places
> around a city. Would a Jew who owns those machines be required to turn
> them off during shabbos to ensure that he is not making any profit
> on shabbos?

This linkage between vending machines and web services is made by
Shut Shevet HaLevi vol. 10 letter 52 (I think). He notes that many
acharonim were meikil on vending machines. Yet he concludes that both
vending machines and web services are forbidden to be run on Shabbos.
His prohibition would seem to include informational(non-profit) sites as
well since he is also concerned with msaye l'ovrei aveira and chillul
Hashem of being connected to to others' chillul Shabbos (ie like
electricity in Israel.)

Shlomo Goldstein

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 19:18:12 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
the man who davened aleph bais

In Avodah V12 #6  dated 10/2/2003  Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> writes:
> What was the point of telling him to recite the Hebrew alphabet? Why
> not simply say to what is on his heart in his own vernacular? Why make
> him look foolish in the eyes of the other Chasidim? I think the answer
> is that the BSHT believed that coherence is irrelevant. It's almost as
> if... the more incoherent, the better.

I regret that I overlooked this avodah earlier. "Why make him look
foolish"? "The more incoherent, the better"? The honor of the Baal
Shem Tov demands a reply.

The story is that the peasant ON HIS OWN INITIATIVE walked into shul
crying and said, "Ribono shel olam, you know that I never learned how
to read from a siddur and I don't know how to daven. But I do know the
aleph bais, so I will say the aleph bais, and You take the letters and
put them into words for me." Then he proceeded to recite the aleph bais
out loud, over and over.

People in the shul started laughing at the fellow, but the Baal Shem Tov
stopped them and said, "None of your tefillos were accepted in Heaven
the way the tefillos of that simple man were. I saw in Heaven that
there was a gezairah decreed against Klal Yisrael, and it was averted
only because of that man."

The almost deliberate misreading and misinterpretation of this story
that I have seen in these pages reek with the aroma of Haskalah.

I don't want to argue about the virtues of chassidus all over again,
because I see already that my efforts amount only to casting pearls
before swine in this moshav Litvaks.

I merely reiterate for the record, for the honor of the Besht and for
the honor of my forebears, that the tefillos of a common man may indeed
on occasion be more acceptable before HKBH than those of a more learned
person; that devarim hayotzim min halev, especially when accompanied
by tears, have a direct line to Heaven; that it ill behooves any of
us to assume our own superiority over those who are less learned or
less sophisticated than ourselves; and not least, that the Baal Shem
Tov was the last person in the world who would have advised someone
to do something on purpose in order to cause others to laugh at him.
For that, you would need to go to one of the mussar yeshivos, I have
forgotten which one, Slobodka perhaps.

I hereby give notice that I will not tolerate another condescending remark
to or about the Baal Shem Tov. Misnagdim can go on doing whatever it
is they do, but there is a serious breach of kovod haTorah when anyone
in our generation dares look down his nose at a tzaddik yesod olam.
Unless you are on the level of the Vilna Gaon, just hush up.

Ah gitten moed
 -Toby Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 01:40:33 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: O joining a C synagogue for qiruv

Yosef G. and Shani M. Bechhofer wrote:
>On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 23:04:40 +0000 Micha Berger wrote:
>> ... R' Zvi Flaum, asked R' Dovid Lifshitz. RDL permitted our using the
>>business but only because the TCH was going to use a different door for
>>enterance and exit and hung a sign identifying ourselves in the glass
>>over that door.

>There is a teshuva in IgM, IIRC, saying the practice is halachically
>muttar, but to be avoided nonetheless.

EH II #17 page 330
OH III #28 page 320 ****
OH IV 91.6 page 174

Regarding having classrooms in a Reform or Conservative synagogue

YD II #101 page 175

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 01:50:41 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Hashgocha Pratis

Micha Berger wrote:
>: Could you explain: Are you saying that the above quote is representative
>: of the chassidic view or are you saying that you personally known that R'
>: Aryeh Kaplan personally had a chassidic view of hashgocha protis even
>: though it is not reflected in his writings? ...

>I meant something even simpler. RAK was a chassid.

I believe he was a Breslaver Chassid. The quote I cited annonymously
was from Rav Nachman and sounds like the Kuzari. This would explain
why he does not cite the view of the BESHT in the Jewish Handbook and
his anthology of Chassidic hashkofa. Apparenlty even in the Chassidic
literature there is no automatic allegiance to what has been presented as
the view of the BESHT. BTW how do we know what the view of the BESHT was?

"When a person does good he is dealt with hashgocha. However when he isn't
good then if he was dealt with hashgocha then it would be impossible for
him to obtain any goodness. Therefore G-d leaves him to nature where he
can possibly obtain good in a natural way. In fact it is possible that
providence for him is totally absent. That is because when G-d see that
person does not act properly He is angry and He removes His providence
entirely. However now that he is left to nature - when he repents
providence returns. In truth however we are not able to understand what
is meant by nature and providence. The problem is that nature is also
a manifestation of G-d's providence. It is impossible for a person to
understand how two things are actually one i.e., that nature is in truth
G-d's providence."

[You're correct. RAK was basically Breslover. Now, on to email #2. -mi]

gil@aishdas.org wrote:
>I refer back to my earlier post on the subject
>(http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol12/v12n004.shtml#07) and the citation
>from the Sifsei Chaim that the Gra held from what is being called here
>the Besht's position. I do not believe that RD Eidensohn refuted the
>Sifsei Chaim's peshat in the Gra's commentary to the Zohar and the Gra
>certainly quoted the Yerushalmi that Rav Schach allegedly rejected.

Could you please explain why you don't except my statement that the
Gra's position is dealing with the issue of knowledge not hashgocha
protis. I have discussed this Gra with a number of talmidei chochomim
and they viewed what I was saying as obvious and did not understand the
Sifsei Chaim's interpretation. They also rejected the reliability of R'
Bergman's citation of Rav Schach.

>My ignorant belief is that the Besht and the Gra both received this idea
>from kabbalah. The Besht did not invent it, but has received credit it
>for doing so because chasidim quote it in his name.

I am not sure what relevance one's self professed "ignorant belief" has
to do in this discussion. The Shomer Emunumim HaKadmon says that his
10 levels of HP were derived from kabbalistic sources. Despite this -
the Munkatcher prohibited studying this viewpoint. There is no statement
in the Gra that HP applies to everything. No evidence has been cited
that the BESHT's view is that of Kabbala. In fact the Ramban - who was
knowledgeable in Kabbla - agrees with the view of the Rambam.

>However, between those who hold that all objects have HP and those who
>hold that only those objects that are relevant to humans have HP there
>is no practical difference so it is not surprising that mussar sefarim
>have noted it.

I assume that this a typo and you meant that "mussar sefarim have not 
noted it". 

Following your approach, since there is ultimately no difference between
saying that G-d determines all events - some directly and some indirectly -
why should we be concerned with these issues in the first place? The
Ramban specifically rejects this approach in Shaar HaGemul.

Ramban( Shaar Hagemul chapter 6): Some might ask that since suffering
can result from a hidden element in G-d's justice and that therefore
it is ultimately necessary to believe in His righteousness as the True
Judge (even if we don't see it) - why require the study of the possible
reasons for suffering. Why not just simply rely on the fundamental
belief that G-d has no errors or forgetfulness but everything He does
is according to absolute justice? Such a question is asked by fools who
despise wisdom. The fact is that by studying this matter we become wiser
in our knowledge of G-d concerning His conduct and deeds. Furthermore
our faith becomes stronger than that of others by learning about the
known and the concealed matters. That is because we are learning to
distinguish the implicit from the explicit to comprehend the fairness
of His judgment and the righteousness of His justice. Therefore it is
obligatory for everyone who serves G-d from love and fear to examine
the facts carefully in order to defend G-d's justice and to validate His
decisions to the best of his ability. It is important, of course, that
this defense and justification be in accord to the principles that our
Sages have taught us. By following this approach he will satisfy himself
concerning the fairness of G-d's conduct to the best of his ability.
He will then come to acknowledge the fairness of even those things
which are hidden and it will do away with all doubts and uncertainties.
However if he wishes he can rely entirely on the principle that G-d is
always just and not go through the detailed analysis.

>The Malbim and the Meshech Chochmah were certainly highly influenced by
>philosophy which is why they follow the more philosophical view of HP
>(the Malbim explicitly follows the Moreh Nevuchim in his peirush to
>Orach Chaim 1:1).

Your causal conjecture has no basis in reality. The Malbim was quite
knowledgeable in Kabbala and I assume the Meshech Chochma was also.
Furthermore see Rabbi Elias's notes to the 18th letter of R' S' R'
Hirsch page 287. "We must note that the Rogatshover...mantained that
all statements by the Rambam originate in Talmudic or Rabbinic sources,
even though they may be couched in terms of Greek and Arab philosophy
(see also Mahratz Chayes on this point). Some great chassidic thinkers
have pointed out that the Moreh properly understood, corresponds with
the teachng of the Kabbalah...Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz...declared that
it is wrong to call the Rambam's system "philosophy": "It is Torah and
we can only say that he knew philosophy" (heard from Rabbi S. Wolbe).

>Misnagdim may or may not accept kabbalah and those that do may not accept
>it completely and may try to blend it with philosophy. Chasidim do not
>have that option. Not only do they accept kabbalah but they teach it
>publicly. That may be why chasidim are the most vocal proponents for
>the Gra's and Besht's kabbalistic view of HP.

First you need to establish that the BESHT's view is that of Kabbala
and that those who reject it are also either rejecting Kabbalah or were
ignorant of it. I have seen no evidence to support your conjectures.
There are clearly kabbalistic views that reject the position of the
BESHT e.g., Ramban and Ramchal. In fact do you have a single kabbalistic
source for the BESHT? The Sifsei Chaim page 90 says he knows no source
that the Ramban disagreed with the Rambam concerning HP and in fact
explicity agrees with it.

R' Yonasan Eybsheutz is cited by Sifsei Chaim (page 90) as agreeing with
the Gra [BESHT].But what do you do with the following:

Ya'aros Devash (1:10): There are two types of calamities. The first comes
from G-d and appears bad but in fact it is absolutely good. Its start
is difficult but it ends up sweet because its purpose is to cleanse a
person from sin. That is because nothing bad ever comes from Heaven. This
is what our sages (Berachos 5a) describe as "suffering from love" and
"all those that G-d loves He chastises". The second type of calamity is
the result of G-d removing His Providence and thus leaving the person
unprotected from harm - both from the astrological influences and the
forces of nature. This resulting multitude of bad is in fact absolutely
bad because G-d removed His protection and no "suffering from love"
results from accident. This second category - because of our many sins -
is the source of much of Jewish suffering. It is described in the Torah
(Vayikra 26:23-24): If you go with Me incidentally I will also go with
you in an incidental manner. That means that if they view misfortune -
not as a warning to repent from G-d - but rather as an accident then G-d
will in fact leave them to the vicissitude of nature and mazel. Then
they will in fact suffer randomly and thus all their misfortune will
be bad. This is especially relevant for Jews since according to the
astrological forces they could be destroyed - Heaven forbid - since they
are descendants of Avraham. Avraham according to the astrological forces
should never have had children and his children resulted only because
G-d lifted him beyond their influence. Thus in the realm of nature and
mazel the Jews have no right to exist and therefore when they are left
to these forces they have terrible suffering.

In conclusion: Your attempt to identify the BESHT with the kabbalistic
view and the rishonim as non kabbalistic - has apparently no basis
in fact.

Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 22:22:28 -0400
From: "JosephMosseri" <joseph.mosseri@verizon.net>
Rabbi Yosef Bechhofer & Eruvin

Since it seems that Rabbi Bechhofer is Avodah's resident mumheh on Eruvin,
maybe he can help shed some light on why there are so many people who
are mekel on so many issues but mahmir on Eruvin.

What is it about carrying on Shabbat within the confines of an eruv that
irks people?

I would also like to hear/read more detailed discussions regarding
the pros and cons of actual Eruvin in large cities like Los Angeles,
CA or Brooklyn,NY.

Thank you,
Joseph Mosseri

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 02:17:47 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Hedyotos...Eating in the Sukkah When it Rains

On Mon, Oct 13, 2003 at 09:46:49AM -0700, Harry Maryles wrote:
: While perusing my favorite Sefer over Yom Tov I came across the following
: quote from Talmud Yerushalmi, Brachos and Shabbos...

I'm guessing your favorite seifer isn't a chumash. Wanna cure my

:    ... In discussion of this concept one needs to distinguish between
: legitimate Chumra: where Lifnim Mishuras HaDin is to be encouraged,
: and Yuhara: doing something that is totally unnecessary and cannot be
: considered Lifnim Mishuras HaDin.

: The Rambam and the Ramban both say that one is a Hedyot only when the
: mitzvah that is done has no possible fulfillment by anyone but if there
: is anyone at all that could fulfill his Chiuv (mitzvah requirement),
: then, according to most Poskim an individual doing this act would not
: only NOT be a Hedyot but in fact would just be considered a Machmir and
: Tov Alav Bracha.

Is this claim that the only kind of meaningful chumrah that of the eino
metzuveh ve'oseh? If so, we're forgetting that most chumros are not doing
something that all hold is mutar, rather it's following a shitah that one
knows is not pesaq.

As for the rain... If a mitzta'eir is patur because the ke'ein tadiru
defines a diras ara'ai, then he isn't even sitting in a sukkah. We've
discussed this issue, whether ke'ein tadiru is a din gavra or din cheftza,
a few years ago.


Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (413) 403-9905      

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 21:26:32 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: male birth control

In Avodah V12 #13 dated 10/15/2003:

RAB wrote:
> This article: <http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994237>
> discusses a new male contraceptive that works by suppressing sperm
> production.

RAF wrote:
>I doubt that halakhah cares whether or not the ejaculated fluid contains 
>sperm. Thus, this method would not make a tremendous difference.

RJB[ackon] wrote:
> One has to understand pshat in Even Ha'Ezer 5:11 "assur l'hafsid evrei
> ha'zera..." and in EH 5:12 "ha'mashkeh kos shel ikkarin l'adam o l'she'ar
> baalei chayim KEDAI L'SARSO..." ... It seems from the Rambam that if
> it's NOT "kedai l'sarso" but for medical treatment, it's muttar. ...

Is a method of birth control that renders the MALE sterile acceptable
on the grounds of medical necessity? The wife may have sound medical
reasons for avoiding pregnancy, but does that either obligate the
husband or permit him to make himself sterile (even temporarily)?
Unless pregnancy is somehow harmful to the husband (and how could that
be?) I wonder, is it the case that "medical treatment" is an acceptable
hetter for male birth control?

OTOH is it possible that aspermia in otherwise normal semen is not a
halachic defect, and that no hetter is needed to use a drug that produces
that result?

(Surgically induced sterility is something else, not what we're talking
about.) RAF seems to be saying that the halacha doesn't care whether
the semen contains sperm, and therefore this new method of birth control
should be ossur, but could you not equally say, if the halacha doesn't
care whether the semen contains sperm, would that davka be a reason to
PERMIT this method? (As intercourse would proceed normally and sperm
can only be seen under a microscope, anyway.)

Note about all these questions: I am not arguing, but asking.

 -Toby Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 08:53:19 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: The Upper Hemisphere

RNS wrote:
> A Rosh Yeshivah just told me that he recalls hearing of a source
> (probably an Acharon) stating that the Torah is primarily aimed at
> the "kador ha-elyon" - upper hemisphere. Hence, Pesach is on the 15th
> of Nissan and must also be in the spring, which is impossible in the
> Southern Hemisphere. This concept also has important ramifications
> regarding other areas of Torah. But the Rosh Yeshivah couldn't remember
> which sefer discusses it. Has anyone seen such a thing?

This sounds like what one would find in Kuntras Shvilei deRaqi'ah of
the Tiferet Yisrael, his introduction or epilogue to massekhet Shabbat.

Arie Folger

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 22:57:05 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
When is the molad?

Depending on where (west of Eretz Yisrael) you are located, and what
time your shul finishes laining, the odd situation can sometimes occur
that the most appropriate way to announce the upcoming Rosh Chodesh is to
say that "the molad WAS this afternoon", even though it is still morning.

I wrote an article about this for our community, thinking that it would
be relevant to next week's announcement. As it turns out, I discovered a
small error in my calculations, and this situation will not be happening
in my shul this time around, so we won't be publishing it yet. But I do
offer it to whoever else might find it interesting. There might even be
someone in the Central Time Zone or further west, or even in a slow or
late shul in Eastern Time, who might want to share it with their shul.

As always, I welcome all comments, suggestions, and most especially

Akiva Miller


A) What is a molad?

We generally understand that "sunset" occurs each day when the sun passes
below the horizon and is no longer visible. We also understand that the
sun is not really moving below the horizon, but that the sun is shining
on a spinning earth, and that sunset occurs when the earth's spin moves
you from the lit-up side to the dark side.

But that's for your location. In other locations, sunset will occur at
other times. In fact, sunset is always occurring somewhere, as each point
on earth crosses the terminator from day to night. For each location,
sunset occurs once a day; but in a larger sense, it can be said that
sunset never stops.

The molad is a very different sort of event. The molad has nothing to
do with the spinning of the earth, but is related to the moon's path
around the earth. Each lunar month, the moon passes between the earth
and the sun. At that point, the sun shines on the far side of the moon,
and no one on earth can see that lit-up side.

A few hours later, though, the moon will have moved slightly to the side,
and it will be possible for us to peek over and see the first thin sliver
of the lit-up side of the moon. This is the "molad", when the moon is
at just the right position for the New Moon to be visible. This will
occur once each lunar month, and it has nothing to do with which point
on Earth has the best view, or indeed, whether or not anyone on Earth
can actually see it at all.

Since the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, it is
important to know when the molad occurs. It takes the moon 29 days, 12
hours, 44 minutes, and 1 chelek for the moon to make one orbit around the
earth, where a "chelek" is 1/18 of a minute, or 3 1/3 seconds. (Rambam,
Kiddush HaChodesh 6:3) If one happens to know when one molad occurred, he
can calculate any other molad, simply by counting off this length of time
forward or backward from the known molad, for however many months as he
is interested in. (Ibid, 6:6) You don't even need high-school math; simple
addition or subtraction, and lots of patience, is all you really need.

[It should be noted that the moon's orbit is not a perfect circle, and so
the above figure will vary slightly, with the molad occuring a bit earlier
or later than the calculated time. But in the long run, it will average
out. It may be interesting to note that NASA (see http://tinyurl.com/qwef)
currently calculates the average lunar month ("lunation") to be 29 days 12
hours 44 minutes 2.8 seconds long -- a difference of about 0.533 seconds
per lunar month, which will accumulate to only 11 minutes in a century.]

B) The Monthly Announcement

In the Jewish calendar, each 19-year cycle has twelve regular years
(of 12 months each) and seven "leap" years (of 13 months each), for a
total of 235 months. There were 303 such cycles from the year 1 through
5757 inclusive, making 71205 months. The six years from 5758 to 5763
contained four regular and two leap years, for another 74 months. Thus,
there are a total of 71280 months from the beginning of Tishre of the
year 1, through to the end of this month, Tishre, the first month of 5764.

If we multiply these 71280 months by the length of a molad, we get
exactly 300705 weeks, 5 days, 18 hours. If we add this length of time
to the very first molad, we'll know exactly when the 71281st molad is
scheduled to occur.

That first molad, for the beginning of Tishre in the year 1, was on
Sunday night, at 11:11 PM and 6 chalakim. (Rambam, Kiddush HaChodesh 6:8;
note that the classical sources count the days as beginning at 6 pm on
the night before.) For that starting point, adding any number of weeks
plus another 5 3/4 days brings us to a Shabbos afternoon.

More precisely, the calculation shows that the molad for the upcoming
month of Marcheshvan 5764 will occur Shabbat afternoon, today, at
5:11 pm and 6 chalakim. This is the time which is announced in shuls
everywhere, and the announcement is made today, the last Shabbos prior
to Rosh Chodesh.

C) What Time Is It?

At the beginning of this article, we learned that whereas sunrise and
sunset constantly sweep across the globe, the molad is an event which
occurs at a single moment for the whole earth.

If it would be announced in shul that "the molad will be on Tuesday at
12 noon", you'd be correct for guessing that this really means "noon
in Jerusalem" (which is before "noon in London", and after "noon in
Shanghai"). But you'd be mistaken if you thought that the clocks of
Jerusalem would read "12:00" when that molad occured.

The time of the molad is announced in shul according to "Solar Time",
which was the worldwide standard method of timekeeping until the
introduction of "Standard Time" in the late 1800's.

In the Solar Time system, each day is divided into 24 equal hours,
and 12:00 Noon occurs each day when the sun is at its highest point in
the sky. Each day, each town used to announce when noon had occurred,
so that the residents could set their clocks properly. Many localities
had a "time ball" atop a tall pole, and the ball was lowered to mark
the occurrence of noon. (The ball lowered on Dec. 31 in Times Square is
a direct descendant of these "time balls".)

Just like sunrise and sunset, noon also occurs first in the east, and
then in the west. People in Cedarhurst used to set their clocks to 12:00
while it was still only 11:58 in Elizabeth. Further west, in Bedminster
it was only 11:56. Four minutes later, when it was finally 12:00 in
Bedminster, clocks in Elizabeth already said 12:02, and in Cedarhurst
they were already up to 12:04.

When travel was by horseback, these differences were hardly noticed. But
as train travel increased, these changes caused havoc to the schedules.
This led to the development of Standard Time, in which a very large area
agreed to set their clocks to the same time, even though this would
cause clocks in the western areas to read "12:00" even though midday
had not yet arrived, and the reverse in eastern areas.

For example, Yerushalayim is in the eastern part of its time zone. This
means that when the sun is overhead in Yerushalayim, the sun will still
be about 21 minutes away from being over the middle of the time zone. In
fact, not only in Yerushalayim itself, but clocks all over that time
zone will also read 11:39 am -- unless Daylight Time is in effect,
in which case Noon Solar Time will correspond to 12:39 pm.

D) When Is This Month's Molad?

Above, we saw the calculations which show that the molad will occur this
afternoon at 5:11 pm. We've also learned that this is stated in terms
of Yerushalayim Solar Time, which differs from Yerushalayim Standard
Time by 21 minutes, so that when the molad occurs, Israeli clocks and
watches would read only 4:50 pm.

And when clocks in Yerushalayim read 4:50 pm, clocks in Elizabeth - and
everywhere else in the Eastern Standard Time zone - read 9:50 am. That is
a good while *before* we finish the Haftara and announce the molad. And
that's why our Shabbos MORNING announcement says "The molad WAS today,
on Shabbos, at 5:11 and 6 chalakim this AFTERNOON."

[Postscript: Originally, this article was going to end here. But then I
realized that when we announce the molad for Marcheshvan 5764, Elizabeth
will *not* be on Eastern Standard Time. We'll still be on the last day of
Eastern Daylight Time, where the molad will be reckoned as 10:50 am, and
the usual text of "the molad WILL occur" will be as appropriate as ever.
This article will be of current interest to most shuls in the Central
Time Zone and west, but most shuls in the Eastern Time Zone and further
east will have to wait for another time.]

Additional Note: The Year One

One might ask what occurred on the molad of Tishre of the year 1. What
happened at 11:11:20 pm on that Sunday night, that it should serve as
the beginning of our calendar? The answer is that it has NO significance,
for it did not exist, except at a mathematical starting point. In fact,
it is generally referred to as "Molad Tohu" to highlight its nonexistence.

The year 1 was a very short year. It began on the first day of Creation,
Sunday, 25 Elul. Three days later, on Wednesday, 28 Elul of the year 1,
HaShem created the sun, moon, and stars. Being the 28th of the month,
He placed the moon in the same position as it would be in on the 28th
of all the months to come: He placed it not directly between the earth
and sun, but a bit before that, so that it would reach that location a
few days later.

Finally, on Friday, HaShem created people. This is the day we now mark as
the "birthday of the world" -- Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei,
of the year TWO.

These twelve lunar months, from the virtual Tishrei mentioned earlier,
through the Elul of Creation, come to 50 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, 48
minutes, and 12 chalakim. Add that to the molad of that "first" Tishrei,
which was on a Sunday night, and we find that the first *real* molad,
that of Tishrei of the year 2, occurred at exactly 8:00 am on Friday
morning. This was the Erev Shabbat of Creation, the first Rosh Hashanah,
when HaShem created Adam and Chavah.

For more information on this "Molad Tohu", see Tosafot on Rosh HaShana
8a "litkufos", and the commentary to Rambam, Kiddush HaChodesh 6:8,
and elsewh

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 08:59:41 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: male birth control

On Thursday 16 October 2003 03:26, T613K@aol.com wrote:
> RAB wrote:
>> This article: <http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994237>
>> discusses a new male contraceptive that works by suppressing sperm
>> production.

> RAF wrote:
>>I doubt that halakhah cares whether or not the ejaculated fluid contains
>>sperm. Thus, this method would not make a tremendous difference.

> RAF seems to be saying that the halacha doesn't care
> whether the semen contains sperm, and therefore this new method of birth
> control should be ossur, but could you not equally say, if the halacha
> doesn't care whether the semen contains sperm, would that davka be a reason
> to PERMIT this method?

RTK, I wrote the message quickly, and obviously with insufficient
precision, and in addition, you misunderstood my comment as you
disregarded the original question.

RAB asked whether this new form of male contraception would remove the
possible issue of has'hatat zera' levatalah, since no semen would be
produced. I didn't reply that such a form of contraception is prohibited,
instead I merely pointed out that such form of contraception is no better
than other forms. In fact, RJBackon correctly pointed out (he was trying
to disagree with me, yet, he essentially buttressed my position) that
there is an additionnal issue with male contraception: it is the case
of one who drinks kos shel 'iqrin.

Kol tuv,
Arie Folger

If an important person, out of humility, does not want to rely on [the Law, as 
applicable to his case], let him behave as an ascetic. However, permission 
was not granted to record this in a book, to rule this way for the future 
generations, and to be stringent of one's own accord, unless he shall bring 
clear proofs from the Talmud [to support his argument].
	paraphrase of Rabbi Asher ben Ye'hiel, as quoted by Rabbi Yoel
	Sirkis, Ba'h, Yoreh De'ah 187:9, s.v. Umah shekatav.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 06:06:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: new birth control?

Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org> wrote:
> I doubt that halakhah cares whether or not the ejaculated fluid contains 
> sperm. Thus, this method would not make a tremendous difference.

Why? Technically, Hashchasas Zera means destruction of sperm, and nothing
to do with its fluid medium. I would however assur male contraceptives
on other grounds. To supress sperm production might come under the Issur
of making oneself a Krus Shafcha.


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 03:15:25 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: The Upper Hemisphere

At 03:07 AM 10/15/03, Zoo Torah wrote:
>A Rosh Yeshivah just told me that he recalls hearing of a source
>(probably an Acharon) stating that the Torah is primarily aimed at
>the "kador ha-elyon" - upper hemisphere. Hence, Pesach is on the 15th
>of Nissan and must also be in the spring, which is impossible in the
>Southern Hemisphere. This concept also has important ramifications
>regarding other areas of Torah. But the Rosh Yeshivah couldn't remember
>which sefer discusses it. Has anyone seen such a thing?

I think chatzi-kadur ha'elyon generally refers to the Eastern Hemisphere
centered on Y-m, while the Western Hemisphere is the chatzi-kadyr
ha'tachton. I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe refers to this in his


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 03:24:37 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Hashgocha Pratis etc.,

At 04:49 PM 10/4/03, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>In sum. Open minded discussion - in published hashkofic works of both
>the great and not so great- of views you disagree with or are not part
>of your mesorah - does not exist [sole exception so far is that of
>the Lubavticher Rebbe].

RDE has written a Letter to the Editor of Jewish Action concerning his
criticism of my review. When I respond to the letter, I will post the
response. I hope my position will be clarified in the process. Yes,
I still maintain that published hashkofo works need to be as broad
and open-minded as possible, within the boundaries of legitimate O
parameters. More to follow.


Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >