Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 103

Wednesday, February 25 2004

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 20:20:30 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@fandz.com>
Re: What makes a posek

On 24 Feb 2004 at 22:04, Zeliglaw@aol.com wrote:
> R S Peters , in part, asked:
>> Does anyone talk about how the posek arrives

> Look at the Hakdamah to IM by RMF in which RMF explains the processs
> whereby the Posek of any generation has the right and the obligation
> to dissagree with the Psak of a prior Gadol, despite the fact that the
> prior Gadol is closer to Sinai.

I don't have the IM in front of me, but I can tell you that in his
shiurim, Rav Asher Weiss is frequently cholek on Gdolim of previous
generations, but never on rishonim. He has often said that it is his
'duty' to be cholek on achronim with whom he disagrees (and it is often
a duty that he does not relish), but when a rishon says something,
we cannot be cholek but must understand it.

I hope I have summarized his remarks on this subject accurately....

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 15:43:37 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>

Puzzlement of the day: The Hadran.

Debbie will be making a siyum at Shaleshudis on Shabbat on seder Kodshim.
I don't want to get into a whole thing about whether women can do this,
suffice it to say, we asked our LOR, the shul rav, and he told us what
to do: she says the Hadran and associated prayers, I say "R Chananya
b. Akashya omeir" and the long Kaddish.

So I started looking into what one says for a hadran on Mishnayot.
The last time I did this, I just took a mishna and used what it had. Now,
looking through a variety of mishnayot from the 19th and 20th centuries,
I find there's a considerable variance as to what one says.

All of them have the Hadran paragraph, and Vehe'erav, ending with amen
amen amen selah va'ed.

There things diverge. There are two Yehi ratzons which one says, a short
one and a long one. The long one is the same as one says for a Gemara
hadran, the short one is a little different. Some versions have one,
or both, or neither. Then there's Modim - many mishnayot have that
paragraph (you know, anachnu ameilim v'hem ameilim, etc.) in *singular*
- modeh ani lefaneicha, ... ani ratz vehem ratzim...

Then some, particularly mishnayot from the past 10-20 years, but certainly
postwar mishnayot, have a long paragraph beginning "Lehodot ulehalel...",
in one case ending with the shir shel yom (Mishnayot Zecher Chanoch,
the new version of Yachin UBoaz). That paragraph usually has a note
attached that "there is a big sod as to why we say these psukim", but
no reference as to where the sod can be found, which leads me to think
this is a kabbalistic or chasidish innovation, and thus not found in
general Litvish prewar mishnayot.

I want her to say some representative sample, but not have to say too
much, as her Hebrew reading skills aren't great.

At present, I'm thinking the Hadran and He'erav na, since everyone has
them. Then Modeh ani or Modim anachnu, and one of the Yehi ratzons,
probably the longer one that ends with H' oz l'amo yitein, since that
is most widely used. Although I may be able to let her get away with
a shorter yehi ratzon.

Or maybe she should say some parts in English. I figure Hadran ought
to be in Aramaic, but the other stuff could be in English.

I haven't checked my pre-Vilna gemaras for consistency in hadrans yet.
Have there been any studies on the origin and development of the hadrans?
Comments on why we say this part and not that part?

I'm going to CC: this to my LOR and another rav or two who don't read
the list regularly.

   - jon baker    jjbaker@panix.com     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -

P.S. if anyone is in Flatbush and wants to come, it will be at the Yavneh
Minyan, in the Shulamith School, after mincha, which is, I guess, about
5:15 this week.

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 17:31:17 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: HAneitz? HEneitz//HOneitz!

On Tue, Feb 24, 2004 at 08:09:11PM -0500, Michael Frankel wrote:
: RMB corrected: <<< The word you're looking for is "haneitz". Sorry for
: the nit-pick, but...>>

: one nit begets another.  while the classic gotcha correcting neitz to 
: haneitz is ever popular, there  seems no reason to offer it in lieu of the 
: better attested (Kaufmann codex) both HEneitz and HOneitz...

I thought the hei took a kamatz. Which is what I think you mean by
"honeitz" (rater than a cholam) and what I meant by "haneitz" (rather
than a patach).

: between myself and prof steiner in mail jewish, vol 37 #89 and references 
: therein. 
: (http://shamash3.shamash.org/listarchives/mail-jewish/volume37/v37n89).    

Note to reader: This is R' Prof M Steiner, not his brother the semitic
linguist, R' Dr Richard Steiner. Still no slouch on the subject.


Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                        - Rabindranath Tagore

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 19:56:06 +0200
From: "Mishpachat Freedenberg" <free@actcom.co.il>
RE: e-tzniut issues

R'n Sara Eisen asked <<< While clearly certain types of e-mail content
are off limits, what about e-mail/chat friendships between members of
the opposite gender? Are there concepts of virtual yichud in chatroom
or in an inbox ... seeing as it is a private place, even if there is no
danger of actual yichud outcome? ... Are there limits to this type of
"qirva"? ... To what extent is tzniut (esp. regarding matters of gilui
arayot) and its gedarim a matter of imagination / exclusivity, in which
case the (innocuous but private) contact itself might be the problem,
and to what extent are they only intended to prevent further sin?>>>

I hesitate to mention the obvious, but it does strike me as a bit ironic
that the poster is a woman asking a group of men whether or not it is
problematic that she is speaking to them. If she really felt that it
was problematic, why is she speaking to them in the first place?

To tell you the truth, I had not really thought deeply about the issues
you mention until you asked; I think that there is a huge halachic
difference between being in a room alone with someone and sending
an e-mail.

E-mail behavior is one of the areas of tznius but does not fall within
the definition of yichud. The only way that such encounters can have
any vague connection with GA or yichud is if one has [or makes] the
opportunity to then put oneself in yichud with this person in an actual
way, which also assumes that one lives within close proximity of the
person in question. If one behaves tzniusly in general then that behavior
will carry forth in all of one's interactions, whether virtual or actual
and one would not say anything that will cause problems in anyone of
either gender.

Since e-mail is by definition faceless and non-physical, I would be
surprised if one's gender was so bolet or caused problems by email, as
one is not seeing anyone's body or hearing anyone's voice when reading
an e-mail, but instead just seeing printed words on a page.

The question of bittul Torah or engaging in outside relationships taking
one away from real ones is a question that one may ask in relation to
men communicating with any one by e-mail [man to man or women to women
for that matter] as the amount of time and energy invested is the same
in both cases.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:13:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: e-tzniut issues

Sara and David Eisen <dseisen@bezeqint.net> wrote:
> one of my main interests / concerns is much more subtle
> and relates to "being friendly" or "engaging wits" on e-mail, a
> digital version of a fun, social (not professional or tachlis driven)
> conversation. If such exchanges are exclusive - ie: no one is cc-ed - is
> this in and of itself problematic (even given the fact that no hirhurim
> are present)? ...

It sounds like you are asking a question about whether Yichud applies to
a "virtual" room. My quick anawer would be no. Yichud is by definition
proximal and not virtual and is related to issues of Kinnah, Stirah,
and Sotah.

As to the level of Tznius in "being friendly" or "engaging wits" on
e-mail, I think it should be less of a problem in cyber-space since we
are not interacting in any way except with words. There is no sensory
contact at all and as such I do not see a problem. Many of the women
who post here on Areivim are very Charedi, as are many of the men and
we kid eachother all the time, the way any group of friends might. In
cyber-space our conversations are based almost entirely on content and
not on what gender our opponents or allies are. This does not mean that
off list conversations can't lead to something illicit, even amongst
the Frummest of us. But I do not think fora like Areivim are conducive
to it anymore than a conversation amongst couples, families, or friends
friends around a shabbos table for example, and probably a lot less.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 10:07:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
RE: Eye Surgery (d'Oraysa) on Shabbos

--- Avi Burstein <avi@tenagurot.com> wrote:
>> IIRC, R. Aaron Soloveichik held that anyone who Paskin's that
>> killing Kinah on Shabbos should be put into Cherem.

> Huh? Anyone who paskins that it's muttar or assur?

Sorry. The sentence should read: 

IIRC, R. Aaron Soloveichik held that anyone who Paskin's that killing
Kinah on Shabbos is Chaiv should be put into Cherem.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 20:10:06 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@fandz.com>
RE: Eye Surgery (d'Oraysa) on Shabbos

On 25 Feb 2004 at 12:38, Mishpachat Freedenberg wrote:
> It used to be that many women died in childbirth from things that are
> handled well routinely now. Many things that used to be pikuach nefesh
> in childbirth are not now. 

As far as I know, a yoledes is still considered a cholah she'yesh ba 
sakana even if B"H the incidence of women dying in childbirth is much 
less common. Fifteen and a half years ago, Rav Meir Stern was matir 
for my wife to eat and drink on Yom Kippur once she reached the point 
of yosheves al ha'mashbeir. Four and a half years ago, we travelled 
by ambulance to the hospital on Shabbos (and I am still kicking 
myself for not calling MDA immediately and instead trying to use one 
of the services driven by a non-Jew - the services driven by non-Jews 
are not true ambulances and if you/your wife "go quickly," it is 
likely that you will be "too far gone" by the time they get to you) 
when Adina went into labor on a Friday night. And it never occurred 
to me that the psak could be otherwise. 

-- Carl

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 21:04:41 +0200
From: "Mishpachat Freedenberg" <free@actcom.co.il>
RE: Eye Surgery (d'Oraysa) on Shabbos

>> It used to be that many women died in childbirth from things that are 
>> handled well routinely now. Many things that used to be pikuach nefesh 
>> in childbirth are not now.

> As far as I know, a yoledes is still considered a cholah she'yesh ba 
> sakana even if B"H the incidence of women dying in 
> childbirth is much less common. 

Without a doubt this is correct. I was only mentioning this fact to
show that a rav may not be trying to show that there has been nishtanat
hateva if he rules that things are not the same now as they used to be;
rather medical knowledge and skill has improved over time and he may be
trying to take this into account in his ruling. I still hold that trying
to rule that the surgery should not be done when the MB and/or SA holds
that it should due to sakana is to hold l'kula on both pikuach nefesh
and on rachamim for one's brethren.

> of yosheves al ha'mashbeir. Four and a half years ago, we travelled 
> by ambulance to the hospital on Shabbos (and I am still kicking 
> myself for not calling MDA immediately and instead trying 
> to use one of the services driven by a non-Jew...

I had to make a similar choice a couple of months ago when my elderly
mother fell and was hurt while coming down the steps to our apartment on
Shabbos. I decided to call MaDA [less numbers to push on the phone :-)]
and was very happy that I did. The Jewish [from our city of Beitar]
chovshim took us to Sha'arei Tzedek and since their orthopedist didn't
show yet they advised me to let them take us to Hadassa, where they knew
that there was one on call in case she needed immediate hip surgery. No
non-Jew would have waited around to make sure everything was b'seder
and when there was no orthopede offered to run us immediately to Hadassa.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 22:50:18 +0200
From: Simi Peters <familyp2@netvision.net.il>
semicha vs pesika

[In reply to RDE:]

Thank you for the material you sent me. It is interesting, but it's
really about semicha. I've only skimmed it and I look forward to reading
it. It doesn't really address my question, though, (as you yourself
noted). Unfortunately, it isn't even relevant to the state of semicha
today, which is almost completely unsystematic and unsupervised.

What I'm really looking for (long shot, I know) is a meditation on
the process of pesak, either a posek's description of his own thought
processes or someone else's attempt to reconstruct what goes through
the mind of a posek. I'm not talking about the kind of description
that is given in a shu"t by the posek to explain his ruling (though
perhaps someone with a broad or deep enough knowledge of shu"tim might
be able to construct the sort of explanation I'm looking for on the
basis of shu"tim.) What I would like to understand is where the posek
makes the leap from having mastery of the material to knowing how to
give psak. Why does he pick these precedents or mehalchim over others?
What factors does he take into account in tailoring psak for different
people? How much does it matter how the shaila is phrased? Why does one
posek look for kulot (which types of kulot?) and another of the same
caliber not? How conscious is the process? Does the posek know what
he's going to say and then find material to back up his ruling, or does
he go to the material and construct his ruling from it? These are the
issues that interest me. Obviously there are differences in approach
between one posek and another. My question is if there is some common
denominator that can be ascribed to the process of pesak.

The reason I am interested in this is that we see analysis of this type
in attempts to understand parshanut, e.g. in Rashi's supercommentaries,
but I've never seen this sort of discussion vis a vis halacha. (Not
that I would be likely to see such analysis if it exists given that I
have no knowledge of halacha worth mentioning.) But what is intriguing
here is that there appears to be some mahuti difference between textual
analysis and pesika. Clearly some of the same cognitive processes are in
operation since there cannot be pesika without mastery of the material,
but something else is going on as well. What is it?

Kol tuv,
Simi Peters

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 16:27:36 -0500
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Smoking

I recently discussed the issue of smoking with my LOR , who recently
wrote a English language sefer on Hilchos Yom Tov. I also discussed the
episode of the dayan who claimed that the evidence could not be relied
upon because it involved Gentiles. He viewed both the psak and the
question as almost ludicrous. He also mentioned that the Chasam Sofer
does speak about a distinctive Jewish physiology that is present when
we all observe the mitzvos, a condition that is obviously not present
today. I also asked him if he would have written in a more negative vein
about smoking , His response was that RMF was ambivalent about an issur
gamur when he asked him about this issue many years ago because healthy
people don't smoke. I also mentioned the view of R Nebenzahl ( and RHS)
who consider smoking an act of suicidal behavior. My LOR referred me to
a Teshuvah of R Wosner ( ShuT Shevet HaLevi) in which R Wosner condemns
smoking as an addictive and unheakty behavior-anyone seen this teshuvah?

Steve Brizel

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:42:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Warren Cinamon <wcinamon@yahoo.com>
RYBS on Gemorah Menachos 59b


I recently heard a nice drush in the name of the Rav zt"l and was
wondering if anyone has seen it in print or knows of where I can see it in
print - The gemorah (menachos 59b) records how Hashem tells Moshe Rabbenu
"There will arise a man, at the end of many generations, Akiba ben Joseph
by name, who will expound upon each tittle heaps and heaps of laws."

Apparently the Rav expounded, bderech drush, saying that with each and
every "kotz" - that is each affliction by the hand of the gentiles -
"tilim tilim she halachos" are produced - we fight adversity with renewed
hasmadah in learning and produce tilim tilim etc.

If anyone has any info about this drush - please let me know


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 23:53 +0200
Re: a fire on shabbos

The Yalkut Yosef on Orach Chaim 334 goes into detail on this: "v'chol
she'yesh chashash l'pikuach nefesh, MITZVA l'chabot et ha'dleika b'shabbat
u'l'haz'ik b'telephone et mechabei ha'eish. V'chayom harbeh me'hadleikot
yesh bahem sakana o l'fachot safek sakanah". He quotes a Rashi and
RAN in Yoma re: children or the sick being unable to escape, an the
Kehillat Yaakov in the name of the Chazon Ish. He specifically permits
extinguishing a fire in a large apartment building either because of the
young and infirm who can't escape or because of the danger of explosion
of gas lines. He likewise permits the same if a chemical factory (even
if closed on shabbat) is on fire.

However, if the fire is in a separate private home and everyone has
escaped and has distanced themselves from the private home, if there
is no danger from an exploding gas line, one is NOT permitted to put
out the fire. However if the fire could spread to a neighbor's home,
he does permit kibui.


Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 16:57:55 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: a fire on shabbos

In a message dated 2/25/04 12:14:02 PM EST, avi@tenagurot.com writes:
> Has anyone ever heard (or read about) this issue being addressed?

When it comes to issues of Pikuach Nefesh on Shabbos the
Chazal and brought in S"A that even Hanishal Harei Zeh M'gunah
Sh'haya Lo Lidrosh B'rabim. Enclosed is from the Sefer The 39
Melochos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat on this issue. Please point to:

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 16:56:18 -0500
From: David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>
Re: Eye Surgery (d'Oraysa) on Shabbos

After having read through some of the responses, I wanted to reiterate
what had occurred, as there seems to be some confusion:

Dr Avraham spoke in Philadelphia three weeks ago on a Shabbos (I was
there) and related that several weeks beforehand, he received a phone
call Erev Shabbos from a man who told him that he was calling at the the
behest of Rav Neuwirth. The man had originally called Rav Azriel Auerbach
with the shailah. Rav Azriel (son-in-law of Rav Elyashiv and son of RSZA)
told him to ask his question to Rav Neuwirth.

Rav Neuwirth instructed the man to call Dr Avraham and ask him whether
this was a situation of Sakanas Nefashos in his professional estimation.
Dr Avraham said that he told the man that he did not feel, from a medical
standpoint, that there was any threat to life. However, he told him that
if the repair was not made on Shabbos, the patient would lose sight in
that eye, as it had to be done within 24 hrs.

The man was to then call Rav Neuwirth back, tell him what DR Avraham
had said, and then receive his Psak.

Dr Avraham said that when walking Rav Neuwirth home after davening on
Shabbos (he does this every week), he asked what he has paskened in the
case. Rav N told him that he told the man that his brother may not have
the surgery.

Dr Avraham does not consider himself a Rav or Posek, so he did not
argue or disagree. However, he said that he was greatly perplexed as
to why the surgery was not permitted. Rav N told him he paskened as
he had because Dr Avraham had said that this would not be considered a
life-threatening situation.

Dr Avraham related that he could not understand how it should be that
his professional opinion should count for more than that of Chazal.

Dr Avraham said that he called Rav Azriel to ask what had happened with
this man. Rav Azriel said that he did not know, but that the man had
afterwards phoned Rav Elyashiv and was given the same Psak as Rav N.
Dr Avraham said that he had no idea what happened in the end with the
patient, but sought to find out whether RSZA had ever dealt with this

His research eventually led him to Rav Laizerson, who said that he was
present when RSZA had paskened on a case like this and was mattir. In
fact, Rav Laizerson had written this down in one of his volumes (Shulchan

Dr Avraham also said that he asked Rav Azriel to personally ask Rav
Elyashiv this question again. Rav Azriel called Dr Avraham back after
the following Shabbos, said that he was with Rav Elyashiv for Shabbos,
asked him the question, and (I beieve, if memory serves me) Rav Elyashiv
now said that it was muttar. (I'm not cetain whether I remember that
last point 100%). This conversation happened after the Shabbos prior to
Dr Avraham's talk in Philadelphia.

Those are the "facts", as I recall them.

[Email #2. -mi]

One more thing to add:
When Dr Avraham related what he had heard about Rav Elyashiv's having
(originally) not permitting the surgery, despite chazal, it was because
"nature had changed". I don't know if this was Dr Avraham's speculation
or that of the person who related the Psak to Dr Avraham (Rav Azriel?) or
whether this was, in fact, what Rav Elyashiv had said.

As I said before, why not simply ask Rav Neuwirth or Dr Avraham directly?

Dovid Hojda

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 00:17:44 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
science vs Torah

>Prof Sternberg presents an example a different derech to an apparent
>contradiction between mesorah and science - one in which science is
>considered irrelevant. The Chachom Tzvi is going in the way of the
>rishonim while R' Yonasan is not.

I have not read Prof S. so I am merely responding to this snippet.

The Pleisi is Siman 40 seif katan 4.

I think the paraphrase of R' Yehonasan is totally misleading due to the
lack of context.

I would like to outline the Pleisi on how he AGREES with the position
of the Rishonim.

The Kesef Mishna notes that the Rambam does not quote the Gemara that a
missing heart renders the animal a trefa. KM suggests that the Rambam
views such an animal as a neveila because it cannot live. This is the
basis of the Chacham Tzvi.

The Shulchan Arukh rules that an animal missing a heart is a trefa.
This is like the Gemara and against the KM's own understanding of
the Rambam.

The Pleisi notes that the Rambam does not explicitly rule that an animal
missing a heart is a neveila. Therefore, the Rambam and KM mean that
one cannot fully declare such a situation to be a neveila without a
source in Chazal; yet cannot accept the Gemara on face value due to
the question of such a possibility. Similar to this is the position of
the Rashba in tshuva who is willing to be machmir for a new "mtzius"
against a Gemara but not meikil.

Next the Pleisi questions the authority of the scientific statements
which seem to be a direct contradiction to the Gemara. Due to the
Gemara, the Kreisi is willing to reject the scientific claims as not
being comprehensive evidence.

THEN the Pleisi suggests a resolution that the heart function is
performed by some small, hollow organ in the bird other than in the
standard heart location. This then becomes the pshat in the Gemara
solving the Rambam's objection.

NEXT the Pleisi writes that he convened a medical panel which concluded
that such a possibility is not rejected by science.

FURTHERMORE, in the Pleisi's summary, called Kreisi, he AGREES with the
Chacham Tzvi that when possible, even if it is not probable (derech
rchoka) one assumes the heart was present and is merely lost after
shechita, rendering the animal kosher. ad kan tochan haPleisi

In summary, the whole machlokes is how does one resolve the pull between
science and Torah to correctly understand both. In principle, both
achronim agree one must live with the facts while understanding Torah.

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 17:45:09 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Necessity of G-d's Existence

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
> The "presumably" is part of the ontological proof.
> However, I agree with the others who posted that the Ramchal himself,
> rather than RGS's presumed explanation for it, is stating merely that
> G-d's existance is necessary logically, whereas the existance of anything
> else is contingent.

Yes, I just looked it up in Derech HaShem. RGS's proof, and my footnotes
to it, are not implied by RMHL. He seems to be following the medieval
Jewish philosophers quite closely.

David Riceman

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 17:52:42 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Yom HaShishi in Kiddush

In Avodah V12 #102 dated 2/25/04, From: "Carl and Adina Sherer"
> On 24 Feb 2004 at 21:08, Isaac A Zlochower wrote:

>>  I have therefore become accustomed to
>> starting kiddush with "Va'ya'ar Elokim et kal asher asah..." (despite
>> Rabbe Meir's derash). 

> I do the same, although I say until "Vayehi Erev Vayehi Boker" (v'lo 
> ad b'chlal) b'lachash.

That must be a common minhag. It's what my father did. In fact, until
I met my Litvak husband, I thought it was what everyone did.

--Toby Katz

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 01:04:44 +0200
From: "Mishpachat Freedenberg" <free@actcom.co.il>
RE: e-tzniut issues

> There was a discussion about a year ago about relationships between 
> the sexes in the workplace and when discussions between men and women 
> may become intimate enough to lead to a chashash of arayos (IIRC it 
> was R. Aryeh Stein who brought up a book that dealt with the issue). 

> Around the same time (and maybe even as part of the same 
> conversation), there was an offlist discussion among the usual 
> suspects about precisely the issue Rebbetzin Eisen raises. 

I don't think I was in on this off-list discussion. However, I think
that e-mail groups are a far cry from the workplace, where you see and
hear the person you are speaking to and spend many contiguous hours in
their presence.

> I am sure that many of us are aware of conversations in chat rooms 
> that lead to adulterous or illicit relationships or other 
> extramarital activity involving members of the opposite sex. 

Well, I wasn't until you just mentioned it. However, I'd guess people
who would commit adultery don't need a chat room as an excuse -- they
can meet people anywhere.

> chat rooms are not email lists (the lists lack something in 
> spontaneity), but the chashash is nevertheless worthy of being 
> raised.    

Yes, I'd agree that it's a question the poster had the right to ask;
I just think that she went way too far in her suppositions. Yichud is
not virtual, it means actually being in the same physical/geographic
location as the other person. There are some people who raise similar
chashashes about allowing unmarried young people to have a cell phone --
I always tell these people that I grew up way before cell phones and
I can assure them that boys and girls were able to meet behind their
parents backs in those days and, even today, it is quite possible to
arrange to be at a certain pay phone at a certain time and get calls
from a member of the opposite gender if you so wish.

I think that it just boils down to whether you feel the tool causes
sin or the yetzer hara causes sin -- I think that people who want to do
something illicit will find a way to do it with our without a computer
and those who have no intention of any such thing won't do it no matter
what. It seems that the yetzer hara has been around a lot longer than
either cell phones or computers and nobody ever needed either one of
them if they were intent on getting into mischief.


Go to top.

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 01:06:36 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: what makes a posek

Simi Peters wrote:
>What I'm really looking for (long shot, I know) is a meditation on
>the process of pesak, either a posek's description of his own thought
>processes or someone else's attempt to reconstruct what goes through
>the mind of a posek.

There are academic discussion of this - though nothing that answers
the question.

For example In "Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy"
2) Subjectivity in Rabbinic Decision Making
4) Creativity and Innovation in Halakhah
6) Toward a Sociology of Psak

I once asked R' Shabtzai Rappaport - editor of Igros Moshe - if he could
persuade R' Dovid Feinstein to write a description of the nature of Rav
Moshe's attitude to psak and halacha. He replied that "only academics
think in those terms. A posek does not have a self conscious procedure
for generating psak. Therefore since R' Dovid did not think in those
terms he would not be able to answer the question"

Even when a posek attempts to describe what he is doing - it is
questionable as to whether the description is accurate. R' Moshe
Feinstein's introduction to the Igros does not in fact describe how he
operated as a posek. Similarly R' Yosef Karo said that he was following
a mechanical rule of the majority of three poskim - Rif, Rambam and
Rosh. In reality it was not always a mechanical rule.

The Maharetz Chajes that I cited - does describe some of the factors
that are utilized in psak. But this is not a road map or formula that
could be fed into a computer.

Additionally psak - especially today - is not clearly derived from the
gemora or rishonim. It is often an attempt to get something resembling
consensus of the interpretations and general practice for the last 200
years. In other words a great concern for continuity of minhag. Do you
view the Mishna Berura as a posek? He is clearly not operating in the
same way as the Aruch HaShulchan.

Bottom line. A real poseik doesn't have a high level of verbal
consciousness of the cognitive processes involved in psak. The academics
that write about it - can not be taken too seriously.

             Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 19:06:16 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Eye Surgery (d'Oraysa) on Shabbos

There seem to be some posters who feel that this question is part of
the whole "nishtaneh hateva" mess. I (and R' Zev Sero, if I read him
correctly) feel that this question has nothing to do with "nishtaneh
hateva". I'll review.

R' Gil Student presumed that this question is one of "nishtaneh hateva",
and drew a comparison between healing the eye and killing a louse on
Shabbos. He wrote <<< It could be argued that it is the same issue. If
science/nature has changed from the time of Chazal, should we revise
halachah accordingly - at least lechumrah? Many, but not all, would say
yes. >>>

R' Daniel Eidensohn sent in a long post about jaundice and a bris milah
without ever mentioning eye problems, so I guess he feels similarly.

Both of the above posters have missed an important point: Granted that
Chazal felt danger to the eye overrides melacha concerns, but exactly
what is it that constitutes the sakanah? Is the LOSS of sight a sakanah,
or is the LACK of sight a sakanah?

In other words, is there a medical theory by which Chazal felt that an
injury to the eye might cause some sort of infection or illness which
would jeopardize the whole body? Or did they feel that a person who
cannot see are in a perpetual state of sakanah, and melacha is justified
to help them avoid that state?

That is the approach R' Zev Sero took when he wrote <<< Did they think
that loss of an eye could make a person drop dead? Obviously they did
not. R Yosef seems to have lived a long time without eyesight. ... Midaat
atzmi I speculate that perhaps the underlying theory is that blind people
have a higher mortality rate than sighted people, because they're more
accident-prone, and for this reason chazal allowed chilul shabbat to save
an eye. If that is indeed the reason, then I believe the same applies
today. >>>

R' Daniel Eidensohn's second post seems to address this issue, and brings
several sources to show that Chazal felt melacha to be justified EITHER if
there is a disease at work, OR if the sight of *both* eyes is in danger,
BUT NOT where a single eye way threatened in a manner which would not
affect the rest of the body.

According to that, I do not see how "nishtaneh hateva" could possibly
be an issue in any case. (1) If the sight of both eyes are in danger,
Chazal tell us that such blindness is a sakanah, and I can't imagine
what might have changes in nature might affect that -- are blind people
in less danger of tripping and crashing now than 200 years ago? (2)
If the only one eye is in danger but there's no danger of infection,
RDE's cites show that Chazal would *not* have allowed melacha to save
the eye. (3) And if a single eye is in danger of infection, then teva
has *not* changed, as the doctors would agree that it is a sakanah.

(I would be remiss if I did not mention R' Dr. Josh Backon's post. If I
understand him correctly, there's no such thing as a retinal detachment
which does not pose further health risk, which is not a real dispute
with RDE, except insofar as to say that of the three cases I listed in
the previous paragraph, #2 would never actually occur. He also mentions
the very important point that this particular surgical procedure does
not necessarily require any melacha d'Oraisa; I would hope that such
facts would be mentioned to any posek involved in such shaalos.)

Akiva Miller

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 >