Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 096

Sunday, June 20 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 22:27:49 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: Hazal, Herem

In a message dated 6/17/99 3:42:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
APechman@mwellp.com writes:

 How do you understand sod hashem lirei'av? Doesn't the statement and its
 application in sha"s at least imply supernatural insights (granted not
 omniscience) to chaza"l?
 Avi Pechman
Interesting question given that the phrase only appears 7 times in shas:
shabbat 77: - not in this context
chagiga 3: - implying that a halachic decision was correct(more along the 
lines of our previous thread on daat tora?)
sotah 4: - One of 3 explanations as to how Ben Azzai could have known a 
physical fact (aha!)
sotah 10. -similar to above
sanhedrin 48: - same as above
sanhedrin 106:-why halacha was not kavua according to 1 approach(not yireiav)
nida 20: - when later inquiry confirmed a halachic decision.

It seems odd that only 2 or 3 times did hashem decide to enlighten anyone on 
a factual basis? Also, according to the mehalech of the maharatz chayot that 
a navi could be mvarer facts, this could make sense except we're not talking 
about neviim here(and he in fact asks this question in sotah).  Does anyone 
know of anything written on this?

Shavua Tov,
Joel Rich

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 00:16:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
Re: Avodah V3 #95

> Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 16:49:04 -0400 (EDT)
> From: alustig@erenj.com (Arnold Lustiger)

> These teshuvos are firmly grounded in a teshuva by R. Diskin which "assurs"
> secular subjects because secular pursuits could interest students who might
> otherwise become Gedolei Torah. R. Diskin goes on to state that the only
> legitimate "extra Torah" profession is e.g. a storekeeper, a job which would
> not otherwise entice those destined for greatness in Torah. This teshuvah
> forms the basis for contemporary ("right wing") Yeshiva education. College
> is therefore not assur only because of the widespread "Tum'ah" in that
> enviroment: it is assur because it is forbidden "be'en" - the very option to
> pursue a secular career will reduce the godol pool. And although, as R.
> Diskin states, only 1 out of a thousand have any hope of entering this
> "pool", the other 999 must sacrifice for its creation. 

===> Based upon earlier posts (in mail.jewish?) by Arnie, I believe that
he is referring to a doctrine by R. Dessler (not R. Diskin) that "put
down" secular knowledge.  This was R. Dessler's letter wherein he
"compared" the "Doctrine" of Frankfurt (incorporate secular knowledge) vs.
the "Doctrine" of Lita (no secular knowledge -- just grind out Gedolim
disregarding the human cost).  Note that R. Dessler admitted that the
Baalei Batim of Frankfurt were had great Yiras Hashem -- but he asserted
(WITHOUT citing any proof to support this assertion) that the doctrine of
Frankfurt did not produce Gedolim.
Note that TRADITION published (not TOO long ago) a letter by R. Schwab
ZT"L wherein he refutes R. Dessler.  While respectfully stating that the
"Doctrine" of Litta had a place, he asserted that the "Doctrine" of
Frankfurt ALSO had a place and he (I believe) refuted R. Desseler's

> The bulk of the Hareidi Yeshiva system is designed to produce Gedolim
> exclusively. It is easy to see how the army would be a distraction from this
> goal, just as secular studies are a similar distraction. This, I strongly
> believe, is the reason that Shas and UTJ remain so firm on
> on this point of no draft for Hareidi students in the present coalition
> negotiations. Their entire view of the Torah society hangs in the balance.

===> I am not quite so cynical about SHAS and UTJ here.  The point is that
in other countries with Drafts, Theological students *were* able to
obtain a DEFERMENT (not an exemption) as long as they were bona-fide
theological students.  Hence it is legitimate for SHAS and UTJ to "dig 
in" on *that* matter.  What is disturbing is that because of OTHER factors
(such as antipathy to the Median), it appears that the Religious parties
are willing to tolerate fraud (i.e., the boy is NOT a 'full-tine'
"theological student".. to be very polite)rather than have the boy serve
in the IDF.  In this case, one cannot cite the afore-mentioned claim of
"Torah study hanging in the blance" since these boys are not exactly
engaged in Torah Study).

>  In other words, the view of  "Ha'dei'ah v'ha"Dibbur", noxious as it might
> appear, clearly represents "Da'as Torah."

===> Well, to say that NO gedolim emerged may be a lie or a

> I had a conversation with R. Elya Svei, Shlit'a about why limudei chol are
> "asur" in Israel and "mutar" in the U.S., but it is too late on Friday PM to
> continue. We'll see how this thread progresses...
> Arnie Lustiger

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 09:35:04 +0300
From: Hershel Ginsburg <ginzy@netvision.net.il>
Re: Avodah V3 #94

>Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 11:57:41 -0700
>From: "Newman,Saul Z" <Saul.Z.Newman@kp.org>
>Subject: army service a mitzva?
>in this week's Deiah Vdibur, in an article about drafting bnei yeshiva the
>following statement was made.  ' the idea of the national religious camp
>that IDF service is a mitzva is pure ignorance'
>Q-- does  the  Mafdal camp call  army service a mitzva , or just duty of
>citizens?         Would everyone agree with the above statement?

Beware of sweeping generalities, particularly absolutist ones.

To the matter itself.

Those within the "MafDaL Camp" (a term I detest as much as Rabbi YGB
detests the term Hareidi) who think seriosly in terms of mitzvot,
overwhelmingly (with some exceptions) consider service in Tza"HaL a
Mitzvah.  This especially the case as they view the defence issue a
Milchemet Mitzvah, specifically in the Rambam's sense of the concept of
saving Yisrael from an enemy who would attack it.  Once you use that as
your startin point, then it flows that military service, if physically
possible and deemed needed by the army and the state, is a mitzvah.

In this general vein, it was once noted on Reshet Bet of Kol Yisrael that
the Hesderniks turn military service into a mitzvah and learning in Yeshiva
into National Service.

Please note that viewing military service as "just a duty of citizens" is
not mutually exclusive with the above view, and indeed a far wider section
within the MafDaL camp also sees military service as a citizen's duty, as
do some within the Hareidi world.

The issues here are quite complicated, particularly in view of the
coalition negotiations on the one hand, and the recently publicized (in
Hatzofeh) apparent success of the Hareidi Nahal unit.


                             Hershel Ginsburg, Ph.D.
              Licensed Patent Attorney and Biotechnology Consultant
                          P.O. Box 1058 / Rimon St. 27
                                  Efrat, 90435
              Phone: 972-2-993-8134        FAX: 972-2-993-8122
                         e-mail: ginzy@netvision.net.il

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 02:25:37 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Being Mahmir on Hazal

On Thu, 17 Jun 1999, Clark, Eli wrote:

> RYGB writes:
> I do not really understand this statement.  We are mahmir on Hazal all
> over the place.  Briskers especially!  Could you clarify please? 

I think any Brisker would be insulted. They do not hold they are being
machmir over Chazal, but for Chazal.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 02:28:26 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Pesahim 94b -- Scientific Knowledge of Hazal

On Thu, 17 Jun 1999, Clark, Eli wrote:

> I am also curious to know what R. Ahron S. thinks about this Gemara.

I was once severely rebuked by one of RAS's sons for saying RT was
"wrong". They farenfer the RT like the Tos. Rid, that the Western horizon
must be as dark as overhead.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 99 11:27:57 PDT
From: toramada@netvision.net.il
Prevention and intervention in child maltreatment cases

I've deliberately used the term "child maltreatment" instead of "abuse" b/c my question 
has to do with the subjective nature of this term.

I recently had access to a debate on this issue and was wondering what are the halachic 
parameters which either allow or force a Beit Din/ Community to interefere in how a 
child is raised.

Are there definitions of physical maltreatment?  mental maltreatment?  What are the 
threshold conditions?  

To make this clearer, we all expect intervention when a child is physically abused: 
beaten or worse.  But what about a child whose parents' religion forbids something and 
that this refusal is causing a specific child, who is being raised in this religion, 
severe mental anguish?

Or that a religious attitude is causing the child mental anguish: for instance an 
attitude that it isn't so bad if a girl doesn't learn as much as a boy in the family, 
and therefore a girl with dyslexia isn't even diagnosed, but just treated as a 
not-so-smart girl, while a boy in the same situation is taken to every kind of expert 

And on  a related matter:
on the other side of the coin: how do you represent the need for Payot for a boy to a 
secular (non religious, in Israel) judge who can't comprehend what kind of harm was 
done to a child whose payot were cut off by his Chozeret B'shei'la mother?  How do you 
explain to non-religious/secular that having over 6 children doesn't mean that the 
children are maltreated or that there is need for State intervention?

What are the halachic guidelines for any of the above situations?


Name: Shoshana L. Boublil
E-mail: toramada@mail.netvision.net.il
Date: 20/06/99
Time: 11:27:57 AM , Israel

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Torah U'Madah Ltd. is developing a DB on the topic:
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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 99 11:46:04 PDT
From: toramada@netvision.net.il
RE: Avodah V3 #95

In response to Arnold Lustiger's post:

Unfortunately, it sounds like Rav Shach never read any Teshuvot from Mizrachi connected 
rabbis.  What a pity that his limud was so constrained as to be totally ignorant of the 
great rabbis and poskim that have led the way of Mizrachi during the years and the 
younger ones today who have been raised in the Bnei Akiva High School Yeshivot and 
Hesder Yeshivot.  And no - most of them did not go to "Black Yeshivot" to get their 
higher Smicha degrees.  

Rav Kook demands of a talmid chacham much more than is currently part of the curriculum 
of soc-called "Black Yeshivot", as I have relatives in many of them, and have discussed 
this issue with them - I believe them.  Jewish Philosphy, Torah, Navih, Talmud - beyond 
the regular "chutz la'aretz" masechtot; Yerushalmi etc. are all covered in those 
yeshivot who follow his path.  As Rav Shach reportedly said about himself: he is not an 
expert on the masechtot of Eretz Yisrael.

I hate these kind of "my Gedolim are greater than yours" discussions, but L'Hatil Dofi 
on David Hamelech  or Yehoshu'a Bin-Nun and say that b/c they were great military 
leaders they couldn't possibly be great Talmidei Chachamim, is IMHO a great insult if 
not an outright aveira.

When Bnei Yisrael are counted in the Torah -- the count is on the basis of those that 
are capable of being soldiers, not of those who are capable of learning Torah.  So this 
a-priori opinion that by serving our country; protecting fellow jews and not relying on 
miracles they are less - is not the jewish way.  There are sufficient halachot like the 
one that states that we go to war on Shabbat when the issue is straw, to realize that 
Torah wasn't built on us, as humans, relying on miracles, but on taking action.

I am far from being a Talmid Chacham, as a woman I didn't have the advantage of 
studying Talmud as the men here have, but I am shocked when political propaganda, more 
suited to the Mergalim becomes a "Da'as Torah".

Hashem Yishmereinu VeYatzileinu.


Name: Shoshana L. Boublil
E-mail: toramada@mail.netvision.net.il
Date: 20/06/99
Time: 11:46:04 AM , Israel

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Torah U'Madah Ltd. is developing a DB on the topic:
"Environmental issues and the Halacha (Jewish Law)"
any and all related information would be welcome.

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 09:33:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: alustig@erenj.com (Arnold lustiger)
Army Service: Correction

>These teshuvos are firmly grounded in a teshuva by R. Diskin which "assurs"
>secular subjects because secular pursuits could interest students who might
>otherwise become Gedolei Torah.

I'm sorry for the mistake: this was R. Dessler, not R. Diskind.

Arnie Lustiger

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 09:59:20 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: Pikuach Nefesh

Moshe Feldman writes:

Personally, I believe that the issue of spiritual lifesaving muddies
the waters.  The classic heter of pikuach nefesh applies only to
physical lives; in some cases it may be extended to spiritual lives,
but it's not clear to me that that is always the case.

Why should saving a lief be more important than any mitzva?  I think the 
whole idea of saving lives at the expense of mitzvos, the concept of vachai 
bahem, is exactly to teach us that mitzvos are more important, meaning, we 
save a life in order to afford it the opportunity to observe more mitzvos.  
We make a simple calculation and breaking this one mitzva gives the 
opportunity for observance of many more in the future.  Or, as the g'mara 
says concerning Shabbos, desecrate one, so that many can be kept.

I agree with Moshe, though, that it is not up to us to judge spiritual lives 
(taking his comment totally out of context).  Our job is to save the life, 
and not to judge whether that person would perform many or any mitzvos in the 

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center
Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 17:26:25 -0400
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Chazal's science, Rav Soloveitchick's educational antecedents

been away for a while, will never catch up, and so a few quite scattered

1. I see the resurfacing of the old
what-did-chazal-know-and-when-did-they-know-it stuff, in somewhat new guise.
It seemed to me then, and now, that the respondents fell into two distinct
schools, both of which have honorable antecedents in geonim, rishonom, and
acharonim.  it also seemed to me then that the tzad which believed that
chazal's utterances on any subject whatsoever fell under the general rubric
of sod hashem liyere'ov, or that nisqatnu hadoros implied chazal were
infinitely? more intelligent than anybody else, etc  occasionally got hot
under the collar when these views were challenged - though they had equally
good provenance.  

Thus RYZ refers us to the Rebbe's (I presume we're talking lubavich here?)
remark re the amqus of chazal's intent ligabei the machloqes in pisochim
about the cause of night and day.  With all due respect for the L rebbe(s) -
and i'm an active admirer of a number of them - this "mayseh rav" does not
pass for a reasoned argument for anybody outside the L-camp. simply chalk
the rebbe down as, surprise, someone who resonates to the nistoros which
others may not have any eiseq with.  which doesn't mean he's right and
others are wrong.

2.  RRW writes that <..literally true is indeed a fool. Anyone who doubts
Chazal's capability to have an advanced insight into science is - well let's
say mistaken.> which follows a number of other submissions sounding a
similar theme.   
Well, let me step up and advance the notion that indeed doubts Chazal's
capability to have advanced insight into science, and i don't feel very
foolish in the process .   (Capability of course quite separate from
ability.  doubtless they were supremely able to absorb whatever - so long as
someone was around to teach them, but nobody was).  The plain fact is that
there was no "advanced science" in that era - if by advanced you mean
anything associated with current insights and understandings.  They (at
least those that specialized in such - not every chazal was cognizant of sod
ha'ibur) were apparantly fully cognizant and conversant with the best
science of the day - there are many proofs of this latter claim - but that
is all.  To paraphrase R. Shrira gaon (responding to a question re the
efficacy of talmudic nostrums) Chazal were simply not scientists, just like
they were not doctors. The plain sense of R. Shrira is compelling to me,
though clearly not to everybody (e.g. RYZB reference to R. Tam, another
great non scientist BTW whose views on such matters needn't - from my and r.
Shrira's perspective - be taken seriously). So RRW suggestion that we "give
Chazal the benefit of the doubt" seems  misplaced to me

3. Re gidolim from impure yeshivos S. katz writes that:
<he article also states that no Gadol has come out of a non 'pure' 
yeshiva system [  i.e. torah plus univ/tzahal/etc. ], nor would it ever 
be expected to produce one....
I find it shocking that in the two days since this was posted there has 
been no response to this. Rav Soloveitchick (both JB and Aaron,) Rav A 
Lichtenstein do not qualify?>
Though i have the highest possible respect for RYB Soloveitchick z"l and YU
(after all i went there and was in the rov's shiur) it must be pointed out
that the rov, while associated with YU for many decades did not "come out'
of the yU system.  he was already a talmid chochom of great note before he
ever arrived.  Indeed he didn't actually come out of any yeshivoh, basically
being trained at home.  

4.  In the spirit of old machloqisim never quite dying off, at least on this
mailing list, i am reminded as well of the at times rather heated exchange
surrounding the related issue as to the legitimacy of later authorities, eg.
acharonim or us, "criticizing" an action of chazal (or was it only ovos),
with RYGB in particular articulating a very strong rejection of the
legitimacy of any such instance - to the point that he rejected a qili yoqor
and some other acharonim pishotim out of hand -(where chazal had not
criticized things first) In the course of preparing a shiur on an orthogonal
matter i came across an intriguing reference to one of RYGBs heroes, R
tsodoq haCohen, which seemed to indicate just such a criticism emanating
from him.  Iy"h i shall track this down when i get back from London (next
week's activity).

Mechy Frankel 			W: (703) 325-1277
michael.frankel@dtra.mil		H: (301) 593-3949

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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 10:04:04 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: Chazal & Embryology

REC writes:

In sum, we revere Hazal as masters of the Mesorah, as exemplars of
spiritual excellence and inspiring giants of morality.  And they were
clearly current with the scientific knowledge of their time.  But let us
also recognize the limitations that they and their contemporaries faced
in scientific fields such as embryology.

I nowhere suggested that Chazal were aware of chromosomes.  In fact, I said 
that their understanding of how things worked was based on observation of 
people, not lab work.  However, through their observations they understood 
many interesting and varied things about the world around us that we do not 
take the time to notice.  Some of those observations were even striking 
understandings about aspects of the world of scince.


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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 10:26:59 EDT
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
Re: clapping on Shabbos

<< Tosfos seems astounding >>

R' Moshe's tshuvah is not the only word on the matter, and we have discussed 
this in the past in the list.  See the Ktzos HaShulchan's discussion of 
suspending the gezeirah of shichikas samimanim b'zman hazeh, also, Taz 
(citing B"Y) 339:3 took Tos seriously but limits the application of the 
heter.  I would also suggest that there are other areas where you might 
investigate the impact of sociological change -  e.g. I recall seeing a 
discussion of using the chazakah of 'ain adam poreia chovo toch zmano' in our 
times, but I do not remember where.  


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Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 14:23:04 -0400
From: Paul Rothbart <sroth4@juno.com>
Secular studies

Although I usually do not have time to write to avodah but anticipating
all the "right -wing" bashing that will soon happen I could not resist.
All of this negativity against secular studies is not merely based upon a
teshuva by Maharil Diskin, it is an explicit Rama in Yoreh Deah 246:4 who
prohibits secular studies until one is a talmid chacham. I never
understood how the less right wing groups deal with this Rama since to
the best of my knowledge no one argues with him. (THat distinction by the
way is th e answer to people like th e Rambam, Seforno, Gra  etc. that
was pointed to. Pretty  obvious distinction. By the  way someone made
referrence to Rashi's involvement in secular subjects, please clarify
since I was not aware of this)

This of course is without mentioning other  problems with secular studies
of heretical ideas which would seem to include most of philosophy (which 
many have so strongly advocated ie Kant, Kierkagaard etc) which the Rama
alludes to and the Rambam speaks about clearly in Hilchos Avodah Zarah
chapter 2:3. I find it difficult to understand the appropriateness of
reading CHristian theologians.

S Rothbart

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Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 00:46:24 +0300
From: Hershel Ginsburg <ginzy@netvision.net.il>
The Dakar Dilemma Revisited

The recent discovery of the Dakar raises some interesting, but
difficult issues at the intersection of halacha, public resource
allocation, and military morale.  For the benefit of those who are not
aware of the salient details, I will review the story, and then provide
the relevant technical / metzi'ut issues to the best of my knowledge,
and then pose the halachic questions as I see them.  I hope this will
stimulate discussion of this quintessentially contemporary halachic


   In January 1968 the newly commissioned Israeli submarine, the Dakar,
disappeared during its maiden voyage from Portsmouth, England to Haifa.
 After several months of very intensive searching and diplomatic
inquiries, the sub was declared to be sunk with all 69 crew members.

Over the next 31 years the Israeli navy continued to search for the sub
without success, spending several millions of dollars / year in the
process.  Significant technological developments aboaut 10-12 years ago
in the areas of deepsea robotics and sonar scanning (as evidenced by
the discovery of the Titanic) finally enabled the discovery of the
sunken Dakar on the floor of the Mediterranean under about 9,700 feet
of water.

Technical / Metzi'ut Issues

   The main halachic question around the discovery of the Dakar is
whether or not Israel should go to the considerable effort, and even
more considerable expense to raise the suken sub, on the possibility
that any of the bodies, or body parts may still exist and therefore
should be brought to Kever Yisrael.

Note that there is **NO** question of Agunot here; the wives of the
crewmen were declared widows by Rav Shlomo Goren (then chief rabbi of
Tza"Hal) a number of months after the sub was declared missing.

There are a number of technical / metzi'ut which have an impact on the
halachic questions:

<paraindent><param>right,left</param>a)  What is the likelihood that
any of the bodies still exist?

The answer to that is a very definite maybe.  On the one hand, the
president of the undersea search and salvage company that found the
Dakar stated that based on his experience, the probability that any of
the body tissue still exists, despite the depth & cold, is nearly nil. 
On the other hand, a leading expert in the field from the US Armed
Forces Institute of Pathology who was consulted by the Israeli
authorities, stated that given the conditions of high pressure, cold
temperature, near total lack of dissolved oxygen, and low
concentrations of sea life (including bacterial) at a depth of 9700
feet, there is a decent chance that some body tissue may still exist.

b)  Could the interior of the sub be inspected by remote control?

It is not clear that any of the openings on the sub are large enough or
clear enough to allow an undersea robot (including the critical control
and communications cables from the robot to the surface ship) to safely
maneuver into and around the sub.  Note that the range of the
underwater cameras and lighting used by these robots is not that great
so the robot would have to physically search most of the sub's

c)  Could the Dakar be inspected by manned deep sea submersible?  Is
doing so excessively dangerous (to those inside the submersible)?

In principle yes, at least the exterior of the sub could be inspected,
and possibly parts of the interior that can be seen through various
openings (hatches and damage) on sub's exterior.  A manned submersible
might be better able to guide an undersea robotic craft into the
interior to see if there are any bodies there.  As far as the danger
goes, there is obviously a level of danger associated with manned deep
sea exploration and salvage, but this is the profession and livelihood
of the company hired to find the Dakar, and presumably there is no more
danger associated with inspecting the sub than there would be in any
other deep sea project they undertake.

d)  In all likelihood, if there are bodies still on the Dakar, the only
way to retrieve them would be to raise the sub to the surface. Is it
possible to raise a sunken vessel from a depth of 9700 feet?

Maybe.  The only precedent was some 25 years ago when the US raised a
sunken Soviet missile sub from a depth more than twice that of the
Dakar.  For that task, the US built a special ship and took many months
and considerable effort to raise the sub, at a cost of about
$500,000,000 (yes, that's $500 million).  In the end, part of the sub
(1/3 to 1/4) broke off in the process of raising the vessel,

e)  How much would it cost to raise the Dakar?

A lot, but at this stage there have been no firm (such that it is)
estimates. It's probably fair to assume that at most it would cost no
more than the $500 million it cost to raise the Soviet sub.  The lowest
knowledgeable guess that appeared in the news media was several 10's of
millions of dollars.


These are the major technical issues as far as I can tell. 

Halachic Questions

Now for the hard part, the halachic questions (in no particular order)
that I am tossing out to the esteemed readership to ponder and comment

<paraindent><param>right,left</param>1)  Is there an obligation to
check to see if there are any bodies on the Dakar or are we allowed to
maintain our ignorance or assumption that after all these years the
bodies have disintegrated etc.?

2)  If there is an obligation to check for bodies, is it an absolute
one or is there a limit to the effort and expense that must expended in
determining whether or not any of the bodies still exist?

3)  If there are bodies still in the Dakar, are they considered a Met

Presumably the answer to that depends upon whether or not a sub lying
on the ocean floor at a depth of 9700 feet is considered a Kever.  Rav
She'ar Yashuv Cohen (Chief Rabbi of Haifa) publicly advocated raising
the sub and "bringing the bodies to Kever Yisra'el".  Therefore one
could assume that he does not consider the sunken sub to be a Kever. 
Sefardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Bakshi-Doron, as quoted in the
newspaper Ma'ariv, stated unequivocably that the sunken sub is not a
Kever and that an effort should be made to retrieve the bodies to bring
them to Kever Yisra'el.

On the other hand, Rav Yisra'el Ha'eitan, former Chief Rabbi of the
Navy (including the period of the Dakar's disappearance) says that the
bodies (if they exist) should be left on the ocean floor in the sub. 
Although he didn't say why it is possible because he considers the sub
a kever; it is also possible that he doesn't consider the sub a kever
but because of some other reasons.

Side Note:  Rav Ha'eitan was the Mesader Kiddushin for the commanding
officer of the Dakar.

4)  Since it appears likely that the only way to retreive any bodies
from the sub (assuming they still exist) would be to raise the sub,
what limit, if any, is there a limit on the amount of public resources
(i.e., Kessef HaTzibur) that should be spent on the project? Keep in
mind that we are talking about several 10's of millions of dollars in
the best of circumstances, and $500 million in the worst case

Normally an individual is supposed to expend up to a certain percentage
of his assets to fulfill an Esseh (20%?).  Does this apply to
allocation  decisions for scarce public resources?

Please keep in mind that there are issues of competing needs.  Assuming
a cost of $100 million, that same money could be applied to reducing
traffic accidents (by far and away, the largest killer in Israel) by
improving roads, hiring more traffic cops, purchasing more equipment
for nabbing speeders, etc., etc.  The money could also be well used by
a badly cash strapped health system (there have been any number of
instances here of patients needing expensive drugs or treatments that
weren't on the approved list that had to fight to free up money to get
the drug or treatment.

Even if you assume that no new money would have been allocated to these
life saving needs, allocating $100 million to raise the Dakar probably
would still cut into existing budgets for critical public needs.

5)  To what extent, if any, does the need to maintain millitary morale
overide questions of undersea graves or allocation of scarce public

To elaborate:  A sacred tennet of millitary service in Israel is that
you don't abandon a soldier "in the field", be he alive or dead.  Great
efforts are made to bring every casualty to Kever Yisrael (including
exchanging live POWs for dead soldiers).  The pledge to bring back
every soldier is viewed as an obligation not only to the soldier, but
also to the family; it's viewed as critical to the morale of soldiers,
especially those in combat units.

The morale issue has had serious halachic consequences in the past, as
the following **TRUE** story will illustrate:

The Rav of Atlit (whose name I forgot), despite his obvious Chassidishe
leanings and appearance did his millitary service in the Rabbanut
Tz'va'it, including a stint in Tza"Hal's Chevra Kadisha.  As many
others he was called up for duty during the Lebanese War ("Peace for
the Galillee).

During a Shabbat, the Rav of Atlit heard of a unit of soldiers that was
trapped in a Syrian mine field.  Although many of the soldiers managed
to get out of the mine field and get back to Israeli held positions, a
number of soldiers were killed and their bodies were left behind. 
Fearing the negative impact that having left their dead behind in the
minefield would have on the morale of the remaining soldiers, the Rav
of Atlit drove (on Shabbat) up to the front lines, and found that the
remaining soldiers of the unit were totally demoralized for having left
their buddies behind.  He then crawled very carefully through the
Syrian minefield (on Shabbat), retreived the bodies of the dead
soldiers (on Shabbat), and brought them back to Israeli held ground (on
Shabbat).  At  that point he stopped and waited for Motza'ei Shabbat to
travel back to his base.

When interviewed later, the Rav explained that he felt that the need to
maintain morale, particularly in time of war, was an issue of Piku'ach
Nefesh and therefore he felt obligated to retrieve the bodies on
Shabbat.  Once he was in Israeli held ground, and the surviving
soldiers  were assured that their dead comrades would be brought to
Kever Yisra'el, then the Piku'ach Nefesh status ended and so he waited
for after Shabbat to travel back to his base.

BTW, the Rav of Atlit was awarded one of Israel's highest honors for
bravery under fire.


These are the Halachic questions as I see them.  I hope this will
stimulate a discussion of these very real issues.



</center>                             Hershel Ginsburg, Ph.D.

              Licensed Patent Attorney and Biotechnology Consultant

                          P.O. Box 1058 / Rimon St. 27

                                  Efrat, 90435


              Phone: 972-2-993-8134        FAX: 972-2-993-8122

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