Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 102

Mon, 27 May 2013

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 08:35:50 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Their Way and Non-halachic Movements Amongst

On Sun, May 26, 2013 at 07:11:11AM -0400, Prof. Levine wrote:
> The following is from this week's Jewish Page Magazine Inbox.  It deals 
> with the question of why there have never been any movements like reform 
> in the Sephardic world.   Note the statements "Jacob Katz tells us that 
> the doctrine of daas Torah later became cemented in the 1870s, when the
> Church developed a doctrine of papal infallibility."...

Except Daas Torah probably doesn't predate the inter-war period.

And Papal Infallibility dates back to the Counter Reformation. (According
to Wikipedia.) He is referring to its inclusion as dogma in the First
Vatican Council, but as the name of the council implies, that was the
first formal restatement of Catholic dogma since the Middle Ages.

They also differ in many details, not that that would necessarily matter
in a discussion of social trends. DT isn't infallible, and lehavdil
the Catholic notion of infallibility doesn't apply to secular advice by
the pope.

The concepts and dates differ, so the claim is specious.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             I always give much away,
mi...@aishdas.org        and so gather happiness instead of pleasure.
http://www.aishdas.org           -  Rachel Levin Varnhagen
Fax: (270) 514-1507

Go to top.

Message: 2
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 14:55:57 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Interesting Sefiras Ha-Omer Advice

On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 10:54:06PM -0400, Yonatan Kaganoff wrote:
...and the worst thing that
: they are doing is maybe, possibly, saying a brachah l'batalah and
: there is a long Ashkenazi tradition of being lenient on saying a
: brachah l'batalah.

And RMB responded:

>Ashkenazim aren't more meikil in general.

Not true (see various posts of mine on this topic on this list).  Ashkenazim
in general holds that making a bracha sheino tzricha is only an issur
d'rabbanan, not an issur d'orisa, most Sephardim holds differently - that
means you end up with very different factors in play which as a consequence
(may) mean:

> Rather, we are more willing to say a birkhas hamitzvah when the act isn't
a chiyuv. E.g. a woman making it >on a mitzvas asei shehazman gerama. Or,
when we do the maaseh mitzvah for the sake of a minhag with no qiyum
>mitzvah altogether, like lighting menorah in shul.

>I think your friend's sevara would still hold WRT saying berakhos on
counting the omer after an interruption. >It's a maaseh mitzvah that we're
noheig to do even though we're not sure it's still a chiyuv. Can't be worse
>than a berakhah on the menorah in shul. I just think your description of it
is overly loose.

>That said, though, he is being choleiq with numerous acharonim. See the MA
and the MB (start of OC 489).



Go to top.

Message: 3
From: Yonatan Kaganoff <ykagan...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 11:00:37 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Interesting Sefiras Ha-Omer Advice

 He is aware that he is being choleik on most many Achronim.

If he was fairly certain that the person under discussion would
continue to count sefirah, he would probably quote their position.
This is a case where a person (and I think that it is far from
exceptional) only counts sefirah because they say the brachah.

In your formulation, it is adopting a minority position because it
will lead to greater kiyyum ha-mitzvos, taking into account the
psychology and religious level of the individual under discussion.

Go to top.

Message: 4
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 15:55:24 +0300
[Avodah] electrivity on shabbos

<<When I was learning Y-mi Shabbos, the impression I got as well was that
the general concept of melakhah was primary, and assignment of an action
to a particular melakhah was secondary. With makeh bepatish as a

Assuming this is a true impression - on what grounds do we pasken this way?

I also checked again on the CI. He does indeed state that "me-mavet
le-chaim: bringing
something from death to life is boneh. In the middle of the discussion he
throws in the phrase makah bepatisch, but everywhere else he calls it boneh.

RSZA disagrees on the gound that one is not making any change to the wire
by completing the circuit and so he compares it to water in a pipe.
Interestingly the case he brings is not flushing a toilet but a radiator.

Eli Turkel
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avod

Go to top.

Message: 5
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 17:29:36 +0100
Re: [Avodah] electricity on Shabbos - R. Asher Weiss

I wrote:

: Firstly, he bases his understanding on a Yerushalmi in Shabbat (Perek
: 7 halacha 2) which states that Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish spent
: three and a half years sorting out all the toldos of shabbas into the
: 39 categories. Those that they could determine it as belonging to a
: particular category, they categorised it in that category, those they
: couldn't they categorised it as makah bepatish.

And RMB responded:

>When I was learning Y-mi Shabbos, the impression I got as well was that the
general concept of melakhah was >primary, and assignment of an action to a
particular melakhah was secondary. With makeh bepatish as a catch->all.

>It isn't just this one quote, but a general vague impression. Like when
with the discussion of each melakhah, >it lists a bunch of tolados and then
often concludes with "and X is mb"p" (either lekhol hadei'os or it's a

But there is a huge leap from saying that the concept of melacha is primary
and the assignment of an action to a particular melacha is secondary, to
saying that actually Chazal were tasked with the job of coming up with the
melachos, and that job has been further passed over to the Chachamim of
today - to whit, a d'orisa applies to something that we know Chazal neither
had a mesorah on, or could identify, because it hadn't yet been invented -
but that our modern day Chachamim identify as a significant action.

I further wrote:

> What puzzles me a bit about this discussion about LEDs is why RAW (and
> others) does not try and include them in the definition of eish?  Now 
> I agree, LEDs do not involve heat, just the production of a photon in 
> the visible light spectrum - but why could that not be considered part 
> if not the essential definition of eish?

And RJS replied:

>I think that by asking "what is eish?" we may be making a category mistake:
>eish is eish; it isn't the appearance of photons or the production of CO2
or whatever; those are its >attributes and not what it actually *is*. Do we
have any reason to think that Chazal would have identified, >e.g.,
bioluminescence or the luminescence of minerals as eish?

It seems to me more likely that they would have done this than identified
the closing of a circuit as boneh, or the harnessing of the power of an
electric circuit as makeh b'patish.

Indeed I would be surprised if they didn't consider the above eish, but just
not eish that a person is capable of producing, hence there was no need to
consider shabbas issues.

RAW makes the point (in teshuva 31) that all the gedolim forbad the use of
electricity when it came out.  He gives a summary of the Chazon Ish's
position (in particular he quotes a letter of the Chazon Ish quoted in
Minchas Shlomo in which the Chazon Ish writes that the entering of the life
into the dead wires are like boneh, as well as similar references to his
writing to this effect.  This is in contrast to merely preparing a kli for
its work which is makeh b'patish).  He also summarises the position of the
Bet Yitzchak, who held electricity was molid, the Achiezer who held that
electricity itself , since it involved heat and energy, was like ma'avir and
libun, as well as his (RAW's) opinion that it is makeh b'patish.

Ie his point is that there is was a consensus amongst the gedolim of the
last century against electricity, albeit not it's form.  Is it likely that,
if LEDs had been a primary source of light in the last century, that their
switching on and off would *not* have been banned  (or bioluminescence or
luminescence of minerals)?

> WOuld they *not* have considered slow-burning coals to be eish, despite
the fact that they produce negligible >amounts of visible light?

I agree that this would still unquestionably be considered eish, but a) they
do give off some level of light in the visible spectrum, and b) it is not
necessary to include photon emitting devices in the visible spectrum as
eish, to therefore exclude those who have other characteristics of eish from
that category.

>If we're going to be punctilious about chemical or physical models then we
must acknowledge that *everything* >emits photons to some degree.

Yes, but this is where the microscopic bugs idea comes in.  We know that
everything we eat has microscopic berios in them - we can see them when we
look through a microscope.  Everybody accepts that if they are not
detectable by the human eye, they are halachically insignificant. I don't
see why a definition of eish would necessarily be any different.

> I can accept that an incandescent bulb "is" eish, because we have the
authority of Chazal to tell us that the >eish in a blacksmith's forge isn't
limited to the coals, but extends to the glowing metal. But to go from
>there to every source of visible light is a bridge too far.

Is it?  I think the instincts of most poskim, given the increasingly
widespread use of LEDs  is likely to be the opposite - just as RAW's is
(and, because of the saving in electricity costs, and because of I have a
husband who is interested in new technology, the vast majority of the lights
in our house are already LEDs, very soon that will be true of most houses).
That is, if you matir LEDs, you are going to end up with a situation in
which the gedolim of a century ago were faced with vis a vis electricity.
So I don't see them matiring them - RAW's response assuring them seems to me
to be far more likely.  But in terms of a bridge too far, this extension
feels a lot less far than makeh b'patish as per RAW or boneh - and yet most
devices these days are dependent on visible light change (it deals with the
computer screens and the television screens etc) - leaving only a much
smaller number to even be considered vis a vis makeh b'patish, boneh, molid
or whatever.

RAM writes:

>I now suspect that RMB was not proposing a "miscellaneous" group of actions
which are melacha without being of >the 39. Rather, if an action looks like
a melacha and smells like a melacha, but it's not among the other 38
>melachos, then it must be an example of makkah b'patish.

I don't know about RMB, but that seems to  be what RAW is saying, even if it
was something that even Chazal could not have known about.

>And the example given is that of lancing a boil. Fine, if one wants to
label such an act as "repairing", it's >no stretch of the imagination at
all. The skin had a problem, and now it is repaired. But how can we apply
>that to other examples?

I don't think that was the point of RAW's example.  Rather, he was pointing
out that in the course of defining the lancing of a boil as makeh b'patish,
the Rambam used the language that it was makeh b'patish because it was a
melacha of the doctors - ie, what doctors do is a significant action, and
therefore anything they do falls within the category or makeh b'patish.

>I'd be very interested in hearing more of what RAW actually wrote. It is my
hope that I was putting too much >focus on the idea of "signification
action". To call electric devices a form of makkeh b'patish sounds (to me)
>like an interesting extension of the Chazon Ish's "binyan" argument,
because it would include battery-powered >devices.

The Chazon Ish's definition already included battery powered devices.
People seem to be confused by the fact that most of our electricity 50 years
ago came through the walls of our houses, but I don't think this is a key
issue.  To the Chazon Ish, the boneh is the creating of a live circuit,
which can be done just as well for a battery powered device than a plugged
in one.

But, the second teshuva of the group (no 31) from RAW deals with a
questioner who tried to argue to RAW that one could use electronic doors
(like the kind one finds in the entrance ways of hospitals) according to the
Chazon Ish.  In the case of such doors, the doors are wired and live the
whole time, whether open or shut - no new circuit is necessarily being
created, they are only being used.  And he tries to argue, based on the
Chazon Ish's understanding of the Magen Avraham, who allowed bottle caps to
be screwed on, despite them having grooves,  being because the essential use
of the kli was when it was open, therefore one could tightly screw on the
top with the grooves. This, the questioner argued, was analogous to the
situation of the doors. 

The essential point being made is, if you take the making or destruction of
a circuit as the critical feature that defines the issur - that works fine
for devices that are either on or off (like most household appliances) and
can thus be defined as live or dead.  But once you start dealing with
devices that are on all the time, and where the desired shifts are subtle
within the device, defining boneh as the issur means most of these uses
become mutar, since the whole point of boneh b'kelim is that the change is
substantial, and while dead to live, might be substantial, slight
alterations are not.

Makeh b'patish is generally understood to catch more subtle changes to the
kli than boneh, which is why it does work better, but even so it would not
seem to be enough without the ability for modern day chachamim to identify
modern day significant actions as falling within this category.  RAW assurs
these electronic doors based on makeh b'patish.  

I therefore do think you musical instrument example is a good one because as
you say:

>If this is indeed what he meant, then I'd retract most of my questions
about musical instruments, because I >don't see any sort of construction
happening when most instruments are played. For example, a bugle undergoes
>no change whatsoever, although someone could easily say that a trumpet's
valves are very much like an electric >switch. 

But neither is any form of construction going on for the opening or closing
of an electronic door, and once it has been opened and then closed again, it
is no different to the way it was before.  Of course, most of these devices
contain LEDs, which let the user know they are working, which means if you
define LEDs as eish, or makeh b'patish, you assur them automatically - but
let's assume you deliberately manufacture them without the LEDs and feedback
mechanisms, and the fundamental circuits stay wired throughout - what makes
the use of such doors assur?  RAW says it is because you are utilising the
electronics to do a significant action, causing the doors to open.

In the third in the series of teshuvos, no 32, RAW describes a whole host of
modern devices for example: the wires that a typical hospital patient is
wired to: - that monitor heart beat and breathing and oxygenation and the
like.  The question is:  is it assur for such a patient to move all of
shabbas as he will cause changes in the monitors?  Another example is the
electronic tagging of prisoners at home, based on GPS and the like, that
track them wherever they go.  Does a person tagged in such a way have to
stay stock still at home the whole of shabbas, or at least not go out of his
house? How about modern hearing aids, moving from a place that is quiet to a
place that is noisy and triggering the devices to work?  How about modern
sleep monitoring and breath aiding devices?  Modern hotels etc where the
lights go on and off due to movement, so that even if one gets a non Jew to
enter the room first so as to get the lights to go on, by staying in the
room and moving, one keeps the lights on (and if one doesn't move, one
causes them to go off)?

After listing a number of these devices RAW then says it seems to him that
there are three potential issurim involved:  molid, boneh and makeh
b'patish.  Molid is only when there is something new of significance, and
nothing of such significance is created with any of these devices.  Boneh
again, there is no significant change to the nature of the circuitry that
triggers the boneh or soser definition of the Chazon Ish.  So how about his
definition of makeh b'patish? Well these actions don't involve chashivut -
and that "the poskim have already written that makeh b'patish is different
from all other melachos that all where there is not kavanah and tachlis it
is not within the limit of the melacha at all" - and he quotes the Magid
Mishna (perek 12 of hilchos shabbas halacha 2) and the achronim on this.

But I struggle even with this: - because while the individual in question
might not have kavanah and tachlis in terms of triggering the devices and
moving around, the person who fixed him to them (eg the doctor) wanted to
know that when he moved his heart rate went up or whatever (and so,
indirectly, does the patient, for his own well-being).  Similarly, while
somebody electronically tagged at home would no doubt prefer not to have the
device, he would presumably prefer the device to having to stay in prison
for shabbas, so there is a level of kavanah there. Ie in all cases they want
the device to work.  And if you are not going to regard this kind of
kavanah, then why do you not consider the movements mesasek, which should
apply to any melacha and not just makeh b'patish?

RAM further writes:

>I hope that this question will be answered when she reviews the second and
third of these teshuvos. Because if >"important action" is his real
criterion, then I just thought of an example even better than the msical
>instruments: kinyan.

From the mindset of an engineer, it is easy to establish the importance of
quantum energies and electrical >circuits and whatnot. But for a halachic
mindset, it is tough to imagine an action that carries more weight >than a
kinyan. Whether this object is mine or yours will have ramifications in
dozens or hundreds of halachos. >But making a kinyan is often mutar on
Shabbos. Sometimes even a mitzvah. At worst d'rabanan. If "significant
>action" were enough to declare it a melacha, how did kinyanim escape
Chazal's notice?

I don't think this is a good example.  Makeh b'patish is in the context of
kelim (and people, who can also be considered vessels) - I think the legal
constructions of ownership and transfer of ownership is too far distant.
But I do like the question about musical instruments.  There you are using
kelim to create a sound (manufacture sound waves).  And yet as you say, it
is agreed that the prohibition is rabbinic, not d'orisa.  Although to be
fair, in a live circuit, there are moving electrons within it, and in an
open one there are not.  And in an LED there are electrons in its very
matter jumping into lower orbits and emitting photons, all of which goes on
within the kli itself.  In a musical instrument, the sound is, everybody
agrees, extrinsic to the instrument, not part and parcel of it.  But with a
toilet, for it to work the water has to move within the flushing device and
flush the waste away, making it more analogous to the movement of electrons
within a circuit.  So I still think the toilet flush is the best example so
far - both in terms of its analogy to the situation of harnessing
electricity to do a significant action, and because it is an action that I
strongly suspect, every single person reading this list did last shabbas.
You can't say we are all shabbas violators, so that action has to be mutar,
and mutar l'chatchila, not just assur d'rabbanan.  Yes with a toilet there
is always going to be kavod habriyos issues, but still, difficult to start
characterising it as even rabbinically problematic.



Go to top.

Message: 6
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 20:24:42 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Interesting Sefiras Ha-Omer Advice

R' Yonatan Kaganoff wrote:

: A friend of mine (not a Rabbi, but very Jewish knowledgeable)
: told me that he tells people who missed a day of counting
: sefirat ha-omer that they should continue counting with a
: brachah if he is fairly certain that they will stop counting
: if they could only count without a brachah.
: His reasoning is that without saying a brachah, these persons
: will likely stop performing the mitzvah altogether and the
: worst thing that they are doing is maybe, possibly, saying a
: brachah l'batalah and there is a long Ashkenazi tradition of
: being lenient on saying a brachah l'batalah.

I suspect that this person has ample grounds for this suggestion, and I have two totally different lines of reasoning for this:

First reasoning:

It is well known that there are two opinions about sefira: According to
one, all 49 countings are essential parts of one single mitzvah, and if an
entire day is missed, then it is pointless to continue counting afterwards,
even without a bracha. According to the other, each of the 49 countings is
an independent mitzvah, and may be done regardless of whether the others
were done or not.

How do we hold? It is commonly believed that the halacha is undecided
between the two opinions, and therefore, l'chatchilah one should try to
make sure that he has counted every single day, in deference to the first
opinion. However, if there is merely a question about missing a day, then
we can invoke "sfeik sfeika", and say, "Perhaps no days are missing; and
even if some days are missing, the halacha might be according to the
opinion that the days are independent of each other." (Examples of this
could occur if one honestly can't remember whether he counted or not, or if
he is sure that he did not count at night but did count during the day -
since the halacha is unclear whether daytime counting is valid, we can
never be sure whether or not his counting was interrupted.)

But I suspect that the above is incorrect. I suspect that in actuality, the
halacha follows the opinion that each day is independent. On the other
hand, if a day was surely missed, then we instruct the person to skip the
bracha on subsequent days in deference to the stricter opinion, that they
are all one mitzvah. On the third hand, we seem to invoke this stricter
view only when we are sure that a day was missed, and in general we follow
the more lenient view.

The difference between the above two paragraphs will be in the case of
contradictory sfeikos. For example, suppose that on Day 10, I totally
forgot to count all night long, and even the following day, and I finally
remembered during Bein Hashmashos. Since this might have been valid, I can
continue to count with a bracha. Now suppose that in this same year, on Day
20, I counted very early - during the Bein Hashmashos at the *beginning* of
the day. Of course, I had planned on counting again later that night, but
let's say that I forgot to count again later that night, and even forgot
the following day. And now it is day 30, and I realize: Hey! My count is
definitely missing a day! I don't whether I'm missing #10 or #20, but
certainly ONE of them must be invalid, right? But it is my understanding
that I can still continuing counting without a bracha.

Unfortunately, I cannot point to any posek who explicitly confirms my
supposition that one can indeed continuing with a bracha under the above
circumstances, i.e., contradictory sfeikos. I should also point out that I
mentioned the above logic five years ago, in Avodah 25:208, and it seems
that no one brought any sources at that time, neither supporting me nor

If my logic is indeed correct, then R' Yonatan Kaganoff's advice merely
ignores common chumrah of being choshesh for the opinion that all 49
countings are a single mitzvah, but me'ikar hadin there's no need to be so
strict. If telling a person to skip the bracha might cause him to be less
diligent about counting for the rest of the sefira, then this sure looks to
me like a "chumra hamayvee leeday kula" - a stringency which results in a

Second reasoning:

Let's suppose that R' Yonatan Kaganoff's friend is wrong, and that we
really should be very concerned that missing a day will cause the other
days to be a bracha l'vatala. If so, then I ask the chevra to consider a
situation different than the one posed here.

Suppose the question has been posed by a person who has not *yet* missed a
day, but he fears that he *will* miss a day at some point. He knows his
history for the past few years, and although he tries diligently, he has
yet to make it all the way to Shavuos without missing a day.

Rabbis! Has anyone anyone ever asked you that? Have you ever counseled
them, "You have a good point. Okay, this year you should try to count all
49 days *without* the bracha, and if you succeed, then *next* year you
should say the bracha."

I know too many people -- myself included -- who had a truly joyous Shavuos
on the first year that they *finally* counted all the way with a bracha.
Surely this is fairly common, or at least common enough that it would
appear in common reviews of Hilchos Sefira, no?

I DO acknowledge that there's a difference between a person who has
*already* missed a day, and one who merely *fears* missing a day. However,
if we consider that this person considers the odds of missing a day to be
"karov l'vadai", and also consider how serious Bracha L'vatala is, then
this argument too, leads me to conclude that m'ikar hadin, each day of
Sefira is on its own, and Bracha L'vatala is not a real fear (at least not
in the Shaas Hadchak cases brought by RYK or myself).

Akiva Miller

Fast, Secure, NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband. Try it.

Go to top.

Message: 7
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 23:08:49 +0100
[Avodah] non-Jewish housekeeper (was kashrut update)

RET writes:

> moved from an entry by Saul Newman in areivim

<< There are issues one must be aware of with regard to housekeeping. One
cannot leave a non-Jewish housekeeper alone in the house for an extended
period of time, as this can create many Halachic problems in the kitchen.
For example, a housekeeper may warm up her own food in the oven or
microwave without the owner?s knowledge. The solution is to either lock up
the kitchen or have someone occasionally entering the house so that she is
wary of an unexpected visitor..>>>

>I have talked to several rabbis about non-Jewish housekeepers (Philino in
>Israeli terms) and have still to find a practical solution. A typical
situation is an elderly leady/gentleman >who can not get around bt
themselves and has help. Other cases a family with children that needs help
(in many >cases this is hard to get legally).

>The above "solutions" are pretty impossible. I have no ideea what it means
to "lock up the kitchen" in most >apartments. Certainly in my home in cant
be done. I am also not sure what it means by occasionally entering >the
house" . If the elderly person doesnt have family nearby this again is not
>practical (what does occasionally mean)

>Another major problem for which I have no answer (not mentioned) is bishul
> If an elderly gentleman is incapicated it is not reasonable for him to
light the oven every time something is >cooked.

I don't know if you are aware but Rav Ovadiah Yosef has written extensively
(well, for him, relatively shortly, but extensively for anybody else) on
this problem.  In Yechave Daat chelek 5 siman 54, in the second half of the
teshuva he discusses this question. The first bit of the teshuva  and the
conclusion is dedicated to whether a Sephardi can go to a hotel where the
mashgiach lights the fire and eat there, given Sephardi definitions of
bishul akum, but a goodly portion of the teshuva is given over to quoting
rishonim and achronim who do not include in bishul akum cooking which is
done by a goy in the house of a Jew, and especially if they are hired help -
see for example at the bottom of page 245 "ulam b'goy she hu sachir
etzleinu, nireh sheyesh makom l'hakel ..." and other places throughout the
teshuva where he appears to lean towards leniency in this regard.  Indeed
this may be strengthened by the situation where the help is live in, putting
them more towards the eved/shifcha understanding that is one of the
arguments for leniency.  (There is also a bit more from ROY on this in
Yabiat Omer Chelek 10 siman Yorech Deah 7, in the last solid paragraph.)

BTW, depending on how incapacitated the elderly gentleman one is talking
about, what about getting the housekeeper to bring the food partially cooked
with a spoon to the elderly gentleman to have him stir?  This may well be
easier for him that getting him to light the fire (as well as fulfilling all
definitions of bishul akum - the lighting of the oven is of course an
Ashkenazi kula)?  Obviously if he is in a coma, or not of sound mind, or
completely incapacitated, this won't work, but it would widen the
circumstances in which all shitos are satisfied.

Another alternative is to buy cheap (or expensive depending on one's means)
take-in from a Jewish deli shop which the housekeeper only warms instead of
raw ingredients (unless they are of the nature that don't trigger bishul

Those will deal with the bishul akum, but not necessarily with the other
issues.  However in relation to the other issues, the stakes for a
"philipino" are quite high.  If he or she is caught eg warming his/her own
(non kosher) food in the oven, he or she will lose their accommodation,
income, and, in Israel, possibly their right or ability to stay in Israel
and feed their family back home.  That creates a huge disincentive to act in
these ways, which is why a pretty low level shmira is generally regarded as
being necessary even if you don't go down the eved/shifcha route flagged by

RMC then responded to RET's post:

>The 2 solutions are to cook with a stove with pilot light, or that cooking
be done in microwave

>(microwave is a machlokes, R Miller of Toronto is makil)

I don't know how it is in other countries, but the UK it is almost unheard
of to have a pilot light on any form of cooker anymore.  I am not even sure
if they are legal - but they are certainly considered to waste too much gas,
and I think they may be considered an unnecessary risk.   There do still
seem to be pilot lights on (at least some) heating boilers, but I don't
think there is anything on the market that will give you a stove with a
pilot light, which rather eliminates RMC's first suggestion.

Microwave is a good one though.  There is, as RMC says, a machlokus about
microwaves.  First of all there is a machlokus about whether microwave
cooking is bishul at all (eg for shabbas purposes) although most are machmir
that way.  And secondly one can say that even if we are machmir for shabbas,
since bishul akum is d'rabbanan, maybe we can be makil here (ie safek
d'orisa l'chachmir, safek d'rabbanan l'kula).

However one aspect of this one that I haven't (as yet) seen anybody discuss
is that, it seems to me, even if you say that microwave cooking is fully
bishul for shabbas purposes, without a shadow of a doubt, isn't it correct
to say that any food cooked in a microwave is not roi l'achilas melech,
which is one of the key criteria for bishul akum?  Microwaving is downmarket
cooking, done by over busy working people, with not enough time to cook
properly (or by cheap hired help and the like).  A fancy restaurant does not
use a microwave for its food, and would be stripped of its stars if it did.
A cheap take-away does.  I cannot imagine anybody serving the Queen
microwave food (and would the Queen's china, with its typically metal
decorations cope?).  It is one of the few posh/non posh distinctions we have
left.  Somebody with the money to afford a full time cook (or several, like
the Queen) does not get microwave food, so why does this not tip all
microwaved food out of the definition of bishul akum, even if microwaving is
fully bishul?

>Eli Turkel



Go to top.

Message: 8
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Mon, 27 May 2013 09:00:07 -0400
Re: [Avodah] electricity on Shabbos - R. Asher Weiss


<<I hope that this question will be answered when she reviews the second 
and third of these teshuvos. Because if "important action" is his real 
criterion, then I just thought of an example even better than the msical 
instruments: kinyan.>>

WRT mlachos Shabbos actions have to have physical consequences, not just 
legal consequences.  See H. Sukkah 4:16.

Has anyone posted a copy of these tshuvos?

David Riceman

Go to top.

Message: 9
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 27 May 2013 09:23:27 -0400
[Avodah] The Twentieth of Sivan

This Wednesday is the 20th of Sivan

 From http://tinyurl.com/pkdfkdm

The Twentieth of Sivan

Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

"I noticed that the back of my siddur contains a large section 
devoted to selichos for the 20th of Sivan, yet I have never davened 
in a shul that observed this day. What does this date commemorate?"

The Twentieth of Sivan was established in Ashkenazi communities as a 
day of fasting and teshuvah to remember two major tragedies of Jewish 
history. First, let us discuss the halachic basis for the observance 
of commemorative fasts.


The History of the 20th of Sivan

This date is associated with two major tragedies that befell European 
Jewry. The earlier catastrophe, which occurred in the 12th Century, 
was recorded in a contemporary chronicle entitled Emek Habacha, and 
also in a selicha entitled Emunei Shelumei Yisrael, from which I have 
drawn most of the information regarding this tragic event.

One night in the city of Blois, which is in central France, a Jew 
watering his horse happened upon a murder scene in which a gentile 
adult had drowned a gentile child. The murderer, not wanting to be 
executed for his crime, fled to the local ruler, telling him that he 
had just caught a Jew murdering a child!

The tyrant arrested 31 Jewish leaders, men and women, including some 
of the baalei Tosafos who were disciples of the Rashbam, Rashi's 
grandson. The tyrant accused his prisoners, several of whom are 
mentioned by name in Emunei Shelumei Yisroel, of killing the gentile 
child to obtain blood for producing matzah.

After locking his captives in a tower, the despot insisted that they 
be baptized, whereby he would forgive them, telling them that he 
would execute them in a painful way should they refuse baptism. None 
of them considered turning traitor to Hashem's Torah. On the 20th of 
Sivan, 4931 (1171), they were tied up and placed on a pyre to be 
burned alive. At the fateful moment, the Jews sang aleinu in unison: 
Aleinu leshabayach la'adon hakol, "It is incumbent upon us to praise 
the Lord of all."

The fires did not consume them! The undeterred tyrant commanded his 
troops to beat them to death and then burn their bodies. However, the 
fires were still unable to consume their bodies, which remained intact!

Banishment from France
This libel was a major factor in the banishing of the Jews from 
France that occurred ten years later. (Although the King of France 
declared that they must be exiled from the country, he did not, in 
fact, have sufficient control to force them out completely. This 
transpired only a century later.)

As a commemoration for the sacrifice of these great Jews and as a day 
of teshuvah, Rabbeinu Tam and the other gedolei Baalei Tosafos of 
France declared the 20th of Sivan a fast day. Special selichos and 
piyutim were composed to memorialize the incident, and a seder 
selichos was compiled that included selichos written by earlier 
paytanim, most notably Rav Shlomoh (ben Yehudah) Habavli, Rabbeinu 
Gershom, and Rabbi Meir ben Rabbi Yitzchak, the author of the Akdamus 
poem that we recite on Shevuos. Each of these gedolim lived in Europe 
well before the time of Rashi. Since most people know little about 
the earliest of this trio, Rav Shlomoh Habavli, I will devote a 
paragraph to what is known about this talmid chacham who lived in 
Europe at the time of the Geonim.

Rav Shlomoh Habavli, who lived around the year 4750 (about 990), was 
descended from a family that originated in Bavel, today Iraq (hence 
he is called Habavli after his ancestral homeland, similar to the way 
people have the family name Ashkenazi or Pollack, although they 
themselves were born in Brooklyn). He lived in Italy, probably in 
Rome, and authored piyutim for the Yomim Tovim, particularly for Yom 
Kippur and Shevuos, and many selichos, about twenty of which have 
survived to this day. The rishonim refer to him and his writings with 
great veneration, and the Rosh (Yoma 8:19) quotes reverently from the 
piyut for the seder avodah in musaf of Yom Kippur written by 
"Rabbeinu Shlomoh Habavli." The Maharshal says that Rabbeinu Gershom, 
the teacher of Rashi's rabbei'im and the rebbe of all Ashkenazic 
Jewry, learned Torah and received his mesorah on Torah and 
Yiddishkeit from Rav Shlomoh Habavli (Shu't Maharshal #29). Rav 
Shlomoh Habavli's works are sometimes confused with a more famous 
Spanish talmid chacham and poet who was also "Shlomoh ben Yehudah," 
Rav Shlomoh ibn Gabirol, who lived shortly after Rav Shlomoh Habavli.

Instituting the Fast
When Rabbeinu Tam instituted the fast of the 20th of Sivan, the 
selichos recited on that day included one that was written 
specifically to commemorate the tragedy of Blois. The selicha that 
begins with the words Emunei Shelomei Yisroel actually mentions the 
date of the 20th of Sivan 4931 in the selicha and describes the tragedy.

The Crusades
Since this tragedy took place during the general period of the 
Crusades, the 20th of Sivan was often viewed as the mourning day for 
the murders and other excesses that happened during that era, since 
each of the early Crusades resulted in the horrible destruction of 
hundreds of communities in central and western Europe and the killing 
of thousands of Jews. In actuality, the blood libel of Blois occurred 
between the Second Crusade, which occurred in 4907-9/1147-1149 and 
the Third Crusade, which was forty years later, in 4949/1189.

Gezeiros Tach veTat

The fast of the 20th of Sivan also memorializes an additional Jewish 
calamity. Almost five hundred years later, most of the Jewish 
communities of eastern Europe suffered the horrible massacres that 
are referred to as the Gezeiros Tach veTat, which refer to the years 
of 5408 (Tach) and 5409 (Tat), corresponding to the secular years 
1648 and 1649. Although this title implies that these excesses lasted 
for a period of at most two years, the calamities of this period 
actually raged on sporadically for the next twelve years.

First, the historical background: Bogdan Chmielnitzky was a 
charismatic, capable, and nefariously anti-Semitic Cossack leader in 
the Ukraine, which at the time was part of the Kingdom of Poland. 
Chmielnitzky led a rebellion of the Ukrainian population against 
their Polish overlords. Aside from nationalistic and economic reasons 
for the Ukrainians revolting against Polish rule, there were also 
religious reasons, since the Ukrainians were Greek Orthodox whereas 
the Poles were Roman Catholic. Chmielnitzky led the Ukrainians 
through a succession of alliances, first by creating an alliance with 
the Crimean Tatars against the Polish King. The Cossacks' stated goal 
was to wipe out the Polish aristocracy and the Jews.

When the Tatars turned against Chmielnitzky, he allied himself with 
the Swedes, and eventually with the Czar of Russia, which enabled the 
Ukrainians to revolt successfully against Polish rule.

The Cossack hordes swarmed throughout Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania 
in the course of a series of wars, wreaking havoc in their path and 
putting entire Jewish communities to the sword. Hundreds of Jewish 
communities in Poland and Ukraine were destroyed by the massacres. 
The Cossacks murdered unknown thousands of Jews, including instances 
in which they buried people alive, cut them to pieces, and 
perpetrated far more horrible cruelties. In sheer cruelty, many of 
their heinous deeds surpassed even those performed later by the Nazis.
These events were chronicled in several Torah works, including the 
Shach's Megillas Eifa, and Rav Nosson Nota Hanover's Yevein Metzulah. 
The title, Yevein Metzulah, is a play on words. These are words 
quoted from Tehillim 69:3, where the passage reads, tavati biyevein 
metzulah, "I am drowning in the mire of the depths," which certainly 
conveys the emotion of living in such a turbulent era. In addition, 
the author was using these words to refer to Yavan, Greece, referring 
to the Greek Orthodox religion of the Cossack murderers.

Chmielnitzky, the National Hero
By the way, although Chmielnitzky was a bloodthirsty murderer and as 
nefarious an anti-Semite as Adolf Hitler, to this day he is a 
national hero in the Ukraine, held with respect similar to that 
accorded George Washington in the United States. The Ukrainians 
revere him as the Father of Ukrainian nationalist aspirations, 
notwithstanding the fact that he was a mass murderer.

The cataclysmic effect on Jewish life caused by the gezeiros tach 
vetat was completely unparalleled in Jewish history. Before the 
Cossacks, Poland and its neighboring areas had become the citadel of 
Ashkenazic Jewish life. As a result of the Cossack excesses, not only 
were the Jewish communities destroyed, with the Jews fleeing en mass 
from place to place, but virtually all the gedolei Yisrael were on 
the run during this horrifying era of Jewish history. Such great 
Torah leaders as the Shach, the Taz, the Tosafos Yom Tov, the Kikayon 
Deyonah, the Magen Avraham, the Nachalas Shivah, and the Be'er 
Hagolah were all in almost constant flight to avoid the Cossack hordes.

Among the many gedolei Yisrael who were murdered during these 
excesses were two sons of the Taz, the father of the Magen Avraham, 
Rav Yechiel Michel of Nemirov and Rav Shimshon MeiOstropolia.

Rav Shimshon MeiOstropolia
Rav Shimshon MeiOstropolia was a great talmid chacham, mekubal and 
writer of many seforim, whose Torah ideas are quoted by such 
respected thinkers as the Ramchal and the Bnei Yisasschar. It was 
said that he was so holy that he was regularly visited by an angel, a 
magid, who would study the deep ideas of kabbalah with him. (Whether 
one accepts this as having actually happened or not, it is definitely 
indicative of the level of holiness that his contemporaries attributed to him.)

Rav Nosson Nota Hanover writes in Yevein Metzulah that, during the 
bleak days of the Cossack uprising, the magid who studied with Rav 
Shimshon forewarned him of the impending disaster that was to befall 
klal Yisrael. When the Cossacks laid siege to the city, Rav Shimshon 
went with 300 chachamim, all of them dressed in tachrichim, burial 
shrouds, and their taleisim to the nearby shul to pray that Hashem 
save the Jewish people. While they were in the midst of their 
prayers, the Cossacks entered the city and slaughtered them all.

Rules of the Vaad Arba Ha'aratzos
After this tragic period passed and the Jewish communities began the 
tremendous work of rebuilding, the Vaad Arba Ha'aratzos, which at the 
time was the halachic and legislative body of all Polish and 
Lithuanian Jewry, banned certain types of entertainment. Strict 
limits were set on the types of entertainment allowed at weddings, 
similar to the takanos that the Gemara reports were established after 
the churban of the Beis Hamikdash. Selichos were composed by the 
Tosafos Yom Tov, the Shach, and other gedolim to commemorate the tragedies.

The Vaad Arba Ha'aratzos further declared that the 20th of Sivan 
should be established forever as a fast day (Shaarei Teshuvah, 
580:9). The fast was declared binding on all males over the age of 18 
and females over the age of 15. (I have not seen any explanation for 
the disparity in age.)

Why the 20th of Sivan?
Why was this date chosen to commemorate the atrocities of the era? On 
the 20th of Sivan, the Jewish community of Nemirov, Ukraine, which 
was populated by many thousands of Jews, was destroyed by the 
Cossacks. The rav of the city, Rav Yechiel Michel, passionately 
implored the people to keep their faith and die Al Kiddush Hashem. 
The Shach reports that, for three days, the Cossacks rampaged through 
the town, murdering thousands of Jews, including Rav Yechiel Michel. 
The shul was destroyed and all the Sifrei Torah were torn to pieces 
and trampled. Their parchment was used for shoes and clothing.

Merely five years before, the community of Nemirov had been proud to 
have as its rav the gadol hador of the time, the Tosafos Yom Tov, who 
had previously served as rav of Nikolsburg, Vienna and Prague. At the 
time of the Gezeiros Tach veTat, the Tosafos Yom Tov was the rav and 
rosh yeshivah of Cracow, having succeeded the Bach as rav and the 
Meginei Shlomoh as rosh yeshivah after they passed away.

An Additional Reason
The Shaarei Teshuvah 580:9 quotes the Shach as citing an additional 
reason why the Vaad Arba Ha'aratzos established the day of 
commemoration for the gezeiros Tach veTat on the 20th of Sivan: this 
date never falls on Shabbos and therefore would be observed every year.

The Selichos
The style of the selichos prayers recited on the 20th of Sivan 
resembles that of the selichos recited by Eastern European Jewry for 
the fasts of Tzom Gedalyah, Asarah beTeiveis, Shiva Asar BeTamuz 
(these three fasts are actually all mentioned in Tanach), Taanis 
Esther and Behab (the three days of selichos and fasting observed on 
Mondays and Thursdays during the months of Marcheshvan and Iyar). The 
selichos begin with the recital of selach lanu avinu, and the prayer 
Keil erech apayim leads into the first time that the thirteen midos 
of Hashem are recited. This sequence is the standard structure of our selichos.
However, the selichos for the 20th of Sivan are actually lengthier 
than those of the other fast days. Whereas on the other fast days 
(including behab) there are four selichos, each followed by a 
recitation of the thirteen midos of Hashem, the selichos for the 20th 
of Sivan consist of seven passages and seven recitations of the 
thirteen midos of Hashem, which is comparable to what we do at neilah 
on Yom Kippur. Thus, in some aspects, the 20th of Sivan was treated 
with more reverence than were the fast days that are mentioned in Tanach!

In addition, one of the selichos recited on the 20th of Sivan is of 
the style called akeidah, recalling the akeidah of Yitzchak. The 
inclusion of the akeidah is significant, since these selichos were 
included to commemorate the martyrdom of Jews who sacrificed their 
lives rather than agreeing to be baptized. To the best of my 
knowledge, these selichos are recited only on the 20th of Sivan, 
during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah and on Erev Rosh Hashanah.

The liturgy for the recreated 20th of Sivan used the original 
selichos procedure, created to commemorate the martyrs of Blois 
almost five hundred years previously (Siddur Otzar Ha'tefillos, 
Volume II, Section II, page 65).

The Prayers for 20th of Sivan
During the repetition of shemoneh esrei at both shacharis and mincha, 
the aneinu prayer was recited, as is the practice on any public fast 
day. For Shacharis, selichos were recited, Avinu Malkeinu and 
tachanun were said, and then a sefer Torah was taken out and the 
passage of Vayechal Moshe that we read on fast days was read (Shaarei 
Teshuvah, 580:9).
At mincha, a sefer Torah was taken out and Vayechal Moshe was read 
again. Each individual who was fasting recited aneinu in his quiet 
shemoneh esrei.

Bris on the 20th of Sivan
The halachic authorities discuss how to celebrate a bris that falls 
on the 20th of Sivan. The Magen Avraham (568:10) concludes that the 
seudah should be held at night, after the fast is over, so that it 
does not conflict with the fast. Thus, we see how seriously this fast 
was viewed.

Why don't we observe this?
"It is customary in the entire Kingdom of Poland to fast on the 20th 
of Sivan." These are the words of the Magen Avraham (580:9). I do not 
know when the custom to observe this fast ended, but the Mishnah 
Berurah quotes it as common practice in Poland in his day (580:16). 
Perhaps, it was assumed that the custom was required only as long as 
there were communities in Poland, but that their descendants, who 
moved elsewhere, were not required to observe it. Most contemporary 
siddurim do not include the selichos for the 20th of Sivan, which 
implies that it is already some time since it was observed by most communities.

Notwithstanding this, I have been told that in some communities that 
no longer observe the 20th of Sivan as a day of selichos and fasting, 
still have a custom not to schedule weddings on this day.

We now understand both the halachic basis for why and how we 
commemorate such sad events in Jewish history, and why we no longer 
observe the 20th day of Sivan. May Hakadosh Baruch Hu save us and all 
of klal Yisrael from all further difficulties!

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-ai


Avodah mailing list

End of Avodah Digest, Vol 31, Issue 102

Send Avodah mailing list submissions to

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to

You can reach the person managing the list at

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of Avodah digest..."

A list of common acronyms is available at
(They are also visible in the web archive copy of each digest.)

< Previous Next >